Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Year in review - best of 1, 2, 3 blog

Well, I've just spent a good hour trawling through my blog.

Here are my top 3 posts of every month. Where you see 4, it's because miraculously post 3 and 4 tied and had the exact number of page views 

Word of the year
Do you need more friends?
The half birthday 
How I organise my craft supplies (which incidentally has since changed!)
Mini scrapbook travel journal
Easiest cookies ever

MandyE's hands

Have you ever been dumped by a friend?
Nail polish on little girls?
While I don't look for confrontation
When he went off me

So, you've all been asking about the new nanny
Parenting fail - my plan backfired 
Photo canvas art 
I caved under the pressure

Frugal and creative gift-giving  **most popular post on my blog this last year
DIY paper/ washi tape ** 3rd most popular post
Sweets, sobbing, sewing, scrapbooks and scones

So this was the best wedding gift ever :)
New, Pinteresting recipes... just for Laura
The new nanny S

What is the deal with these u-shaped toilet seats?
How do I tell the kids?
{Friendship Friday} Is she blowing me off?

So, let's talk about some of my impressions of the USA..
So I had a little birthday lunch today
{Friendship Friday} From blog friends to IRL friends..

Cat's boys' pre-school teacher

Goals linky, a new recipe and a sassy boy
Five Love Languages of Children - part 2 - the ang..
Anti-wrinkle cream needed desperately


A post about infertility, parenting twins and marr...
The school debate 1- my schooling background
{Create} washi tape notecards

pic taken by Cat
A newsy post ** 2nd most popular post
Christmas to-do list... and my wish list
Now that I've calmed down a bit, I can tell you wh...

Special mention - It's addictive, I tell you - also got lots of views!

Holiday drama with the in-laws
Addicted to cuteness
Lunch at Leon's and Project Life

Pic taken by MandyE in Charlotte

Which was your favourite post? (even if not mentioned here) 

I don't think any of these were my favourites to write, by the way, except for my word of the year post.

PS top posts of all time....

So what do you call your husband/  (this one is ALWAYS on my blog sidebar)
Milk tart & grocery shopping (I think because the Americans don't know what milk tart is :))
Easy washi tape crafts

Reflecting on my 2012 word - create

Mrs FF just sent me this pic - I love it!
I honestly couldn't have chosen a better word for the year.

Here's my post when I wrote about what I wanted for 2012. Have a quick squiz - it's worth it :) - especially for the why I believe everybody needs a word of the year.

This year my word helped me surpass all my expectations.

I intentionally created fun, spontaneous, messy and memorable times for the kids, and our family.

I created a lot of crafty things too - too many little projects to count (I stopped counting at 25 and that was months ago) and really found my crafting style - for those who haven't twigged, it's definitely stationery-based :)

I don't think I fully reached my create goal with my marriage - this year has been hard. This morning I got to the end of my 70th book for the year (yes! I made it) this morning and read about another book of Gary Chapman's called the 4 seasons of marriage. I think I want to get it :)

I created the best work environment I could... under the circumstances. I haven't written much here for the last 2 months or so... I've had coaching, really hard conversations and networked my A off. As a result, I got two fantastic increases (relative to our crappy economic climate) and a wonderful big bonus. The nice thing is this was all after the USA trip so is mostly untouched except for paying tithes.

I created two things in my business - my book (thank the Lord it is DONE!) and another little ebook. If you're read either of these and it's inspired/ impacted you positively, can I ask you to send me 2 - 3 sentences to put on the website (big project for next year)? You can even write under a pseudonym "Cassie" - Cape Town :)) if you don't want the world to know you.

But I would say the thing I'm most pleased about creating this year has been beautiful photos.

I walked into the camera shop at Bedford on 1 Dec last year and on a whim decided to just buy the darn thing and stop thinking too much about which one was best, etc, etc.

It was the best decision of 2011 (besides getting that Newtown photoshoot). Taking pics and putting myself out there with this blog and with Superhero Photo and to a lesser extent, Elevate the Ordinary, has been a GIFT to me.

Interestingly, I've always been a big goal-setter so Mondo Beyondo didn't have the same effect on me. With Superhero Photo, I had to let go of who I am naturally and be prepared to fail and try different things not knowing if they'd work, and just take chances.

These days if anyone asks I just say, "buy yourself a camera; you won't regret it". I've consciously lugged the big camera almost everywhere except work and with taking hundreds have gotten the one or two that make me SKIP and DANCE with joy. I don't see it as a failure that I take 250 and get 10 that make me truly happy; it's just part of the process and I embrace it.

Your comments on my pics have brought me such joy this year and it's been another way to connect with some far-away friends like Mandy 2 :)

I'm going to brag a bit - Andrea said this one was just about perfect :)

These 5 pics are some of my favourites this year and are the 5 favourites from Superhero Photo.

So tell me, on a scale of 1 - 10, how did your word work out for you?
Any guesses as to what you think my 2013 word will be?

PS I'm sending a prize to anyone who guesses correctly (no joke), no matter where in the world you are.

The competition ends 11 am SA time tomorrow (5 am Eastern)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A lovely, lazy afternoon with friends & C's birthday party

We had a lovely day today with our friends. In the blazing 30-something heat!

They also have twins and the four kids soon found their groove and played very nicely together. I think we were together for 5 hours so that's a small miracle in itself.

I can always tell when my kids reach their comfort point because then they go ask the hosts for things they normally ask us (food!) and at one point the four of them were organising sleepovers :)

Their one daughter came to ask D to help her go to the loo so they were clearly comfortable with us too :)

After the bedtime routine, I came to finish up my mini book (monthly reviews pages) and then I got sidetracked properly tracking my official friend stats:

Turns out I saw 77 different people this year. I only counted people I am actually properly friends with. Like at the fertility suppers, I don't count the people who I just see there and never talk to anywhere else. Three of those 77 friends I saw 8 times and three I saw 6 times...

Had 29 1:1 dates and met up with 12 new people.

My little OCD mind is much happier now that everything is down on my spreadsheet.

What does this mean?

I'm scheduling some lunches with some of our really good friends very early next year :)

Moving on to the pics!

We went to a birthday party three weeks ago - here are the pics!

K with bunny
C with bunny
Bunny starts to scratch and C freaks out
"I don't know about these bunnies"
this little dude was so helpful with my K. At first she asked me "are we allowed to talk to this stranger?" LOL We've been talking to them about strangers... maybe too much?
my gorgeous friend C - I would use this on FB if I were her. Just saying :)
finally, birthday boy!
I think my kids were the only ones who had some hot dogs
and some cake
Sam, the blog reader and her lovely family
not great technically but THE JOY!
spied with the zoom lens :)
my friend, C's daughter G
My C was besotted with friend C's other daughter A

Which is your favourite?
How was your Saturday?

PS Eek - only 3 days before I go back to work!

Friday, December 28, 2012

{Friendship Friday} 2012 friendship recap

Wow, it's the last Friday of 2012.

Today I thoroughly did my business recap and all that that entails (the money stuff).

Last year I started out an annual tradition of writing out a financial report and while it's really terrible to start working on, pretty soon the numbers get me and I love to see the trends, see which products sold better, which months were good, which were the best clients, etc.

Interestingly, for the first year ever, my main income sources were products first, then coaching (coaching is usually first, as it should be), then blog advertising (!) and then speaking. Now that I know that I want to do some different things with my blog.

Yesterday D and I had a date. The stuff we like to do - bookshops, eating, shopping, talking :)

Over lunch I showed D my 2013 goals and my 38 things list  (I have 12 completed and some in progress so I'm on track). We chatted about all of them which was SO great and he joked, "what will we talk about on New Year's Eve?!" because that's the time we usually talk about the year ahead, well, in the pre-baby days mostly. These days we're both too tired after the kids go down.

 Anyway, moving on.

This has been an amazing year of friendship for me.

Totally AMAZING. Totally surpassed my expectations.

(if I was more motivated I'd take all these posts, edit them and put them in a nice free ebook for the site - something like "a year of friendship")

Everything hasn't always been rosy - I was friend dumped, I wondered if another friend was blowing me off and I've also been a less than stellar friend at times. And that I don't let go easily. There are a couple of friendships who are not where I'd ideally like them to be but I'm putting it down to busyness since when we are together it's still really good.

However I do think that I really made the effort to be there in person for friendships this year. I set goals at the beginning of the year and made sure I said yes more often than not.

My goal was to have 20 one on one friendship dates and I did. I actually stopped counting months ago when I reached it.

I also suggested in my friend goals post that I should perhaps meet up with 5 brand new people - I managed 6 in South Africa - Mrs FF, Blackhuff, Julia and three friends through work, and then of course, on my USA trip, another 5 lovely blogger and now real life friends - the two Mandys, Beth, Puffer and Heather.

Mandys, you'll get a kick out of this. When I refer to one of you while chatting to Beth, I say "the first Mandy or the second Mandy" because of the order in which she met you :)

See what setting intentions does?

God has been soooo good to me in this area and I feel like this year was a reaping year for me after a number of years of being unfulfilled in this area of my life.

Not only have there been quantity but the quality of friendships has increased. We connected well with a number of very old friends and I feel like I've built on newer friendships too. Even at work in our tiny little team, I've become really good friends with 3 of my 4 team members. The 4th is a man and is very closed as men are usually in the workplace... ;)

I feel like I can be open with so many more people who "get" me, support and encourage me and for that, I'm so very grateful.

I love getting an email now and again, or a text, or even a handwritten card like I got a few months ago just to say this reminded me of you and I bought it for you :) I literally squeal at my desk!

I could gush on and on and on...... but thank you for a wonderful year of friendship.

I've loved the comments on these posts too - for challenging me, for making me laugh but also just for reading.

I feel like I also want to say a special thank you to Rachel and Lesley - I appreciate you two so much.

I put together this collage. It took sweet forever because I first added every friend pic I had from this year. Of course the pics were all super tiny since there've been so many. And then I whittled it down and I love this version. I want to print it out and keep it at work to make me smile... while God works in the background to make my new job come through!

I would LOVE to hear on a scale of 1 - 10 how your year of friendship has been. 1 is bad, 10 is super awesome (my score is 11 :)).

Have you set any friend goals for next year? Have I inspired you in the least?

PS People on my list for next year - Laura of the big Christmas spread, Sweets and Se7en in CT, and Lynette in PE :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

{Create} Gift-wrapping kits

Well now, this is the last wrap-up of creating things for the year!

Can you believe it? I can't either!

I'm ending off the year with something I absolutely loved to put together and from the sounds of it, the recipients also loved receiving - gift-wrapping kits.

It's quite fitting, really, because I had to create at least two things for each of these sets. 

The interesting thing is you can give someone all these things and it will be just okay but the minute you put it in a cute container, put a label and call it a kit, it ups the cuteness ratio tenfold.

I made 9 of these in total - all in different colour schemes.

  1. Glass jars - I bought some from Pep and I had some nice jam jars too
  2. As many of these items as you have at home:
  • Ribbon
  • Twine
  • Bakers twine
  • Washi tape
  • Pens
  • Gift tags - bought or free ones from the internet
  • Clothes pegs - I washi taped mine using this tutorial
  • Notecards - you can do them this way or this way
  • Christmas decorations :)

  1. I worked conveyor-belt style.
  2. I decided on the colour schemes that I wanted to do - e.g. red/ silver/ grey, blue/ green; orange; pink/ purple; pink/green, etc.
  3. I then set out about 5 little baskets on my desk and then I added each item to each of the baskets - e.g. all the bakers twine, all the pens, all the notecards, all the washi tape pegs, etc.
  4. I'd previously ordered mini wooden spools of washi tape so I had some of those left but then I just carefully wound washi tape onto pegs. They all looked very cute.
  5. Some sets had slightly fewer items because of the size and shape of the jars but most of them got everything.
  6. Arrange in a way that looks visually pleasing from the outside.
  7. Write out labels and attach with bakers twine or satin ribbon.
  8. I also added labels to the top.

I popped them in brown paper bags with the tops folded over.

A couple of people emailed me to say they were thinking of me as they were using their kits to wrap presents (which I love!) and my boss said "I love it - only you would give me something like this" :) which is my favourite type of compliment. I do like my presents to feel like they came from me.

Here are the labels I attached. I simply hand-wrote them (more personal and easier than faffing around with getting text aligned on a label but if you like to be fussy, go right ahead).

So what do you think?
What have you created lately?

PS my kits were inspired by Cathy at Paper Peony

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A little Christmas and some of my "tendencies"

Our Christmas was lovely but what are you going to say but that, right?

I was reminded today when I read this post that no-one talks about the not-so-great things. I had mostly good moments but a few screaming matches too.

Next year I am buying D one present. That's it.  He takes so long to get to the unwrapping all of us were long done and he hadn't even started with present 1.


Very annoying.

Anyway, I realised this Christmas that it's really GREAT to not be in the hospital, know God and be with my family eating a nice lunch.

That's it for me really :)

Christmas mantle - the little stocking was the one I bought at Art in the Park, Lynette, when we started "trying"

We went to Pretoria and I said the same thing I say every time we go out there, "how on earth do people live in that heat?" and my SIL said, "with air conditioning all over the house. :)

We took the kids' blow-up pool with us and it was a great idea. They were lovely little (half-naked) water babies and I got some great pics (I think - haven't downloaded yet) spying on them with the zoom lens.

Food was delicious but not too much and we all pretended the holiday conversation hadn't taken place! As Lynette said in the comments on that post, the heat in Africa will melt the frost. It did :)

My kids got toys, beach towels (I asked SIL to get those otherwise there would have been MORE noisy toys so best present ever!), clothes, etc. By the way, this something to read, wear, want and need needs to scale down even more next year. I will have to rethink - it still felt like too much.

As for me, I got mugs which I'll return, clothes, an 80s CD (which I've just put on!), book and a gift voucher to get a photo printer.

On Christmas Eve we skyped with our friends in Ireland and man, it was good. I was kind-of speechless (!) just thinking about how great technology is, when it works. We had a good 30 mins of chatting with their toddler popping in and out of the screen. Too darn cute.

This Christmas I just felt like I wanted everything simple. Look at the tree - this is only half of the decorations if not about 35 - 40% but once I'd put these up, I looked at it and said, "you know what? I actually like it just like this" and I considered it done.

I'm kind of in love with the simplicity. Mind you, our new friends' tree was even simpler :)

And then last but not least, as I usually do, I made a ginormous list for this week of "holiday". Next time I have time off from work we'll be at the beach and there'll be no time to potter around the house so I decided this is the time for that.

Except... and this is where I display all my weirdnesses (which my colleague calls "tendencies" as in "she has tendencies" said with a meaningful look....).

Monday I had 12 things on my list - I did 10 in 5 hours, 1 after the kids were in bed and 1 is still on the list. Yesterday I decided after we got home that I needed to tackle the recipe books so I spent about 2 hours on Christmas evening sorting out, throwing out, organising and tidying. When I develop these tendencies, I never even pause to take a before pic but I will take some after pics for you when the light is good. Of course I didn't even touch the computer!

Today was photo sorting out day. I had 250 pics from the pre-digital days scanned onto disc ages ago and they were still in their packet waiting to be put back in albums. Well, I started and then the whole lot started irritating me. What should have taken about 1.5 hours took about 4 hours because I consolidated better, made things flow more and added some pretty in the form of Project Life cards and whatnot.

The albums are all looking very pretty now so I might take some pics and show you. Let's see.

We still have Singapore/ Australia to do (I roped D in with the wedding stuff and this trip) and then I'm calling it done.

Although... I might do a small album of vintage pics. When D's gran died, we got a lot of those gorgeous old pics... that I love love love. Black and white/ sepia in all different sizes with people (his grandparents) dressed beautifully. I love it.

On my list tomorrow is tackling financials (I know, I'm a ball of fun, aren't I?) - tossing receipts, setting financial goals, doing financial review, etc. But I love this stuff and I always feel more accomplished when I know the exact state of the money side of things. I can fully enter 2013 with things in order.

I also need to update my month-in-review mini album - that I will blog about because this is my second year and I have loved it. Loved. I think you all should do one :) I'll show you exactly how to do it Marcia-style (super easy!).

What are some of your "tendencies"? Do you start humongous projects at odd times too?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

These are the 4 photos I had printed for our Christmas cards. Everybody except our mothers and sisters got only 1 of these.

What do you do with the cards and photos people send you for Christmas? (I won't take offense if you tell me you toss mine :)

Monday, December 24, 2012

New Christmas traditions after 38 years :)

the metal trees were made by C and K - well, not the trees, but the beading :)
D took the kids with him to work this morning so Nanny S and I cleaned the house.

Well, she cleaned and I decluttered and organised - we made a great team.

So the house is sparkling and I couldn't be happier.

We did outside stuff (all to keep the house looking nice as long as possible :)) and then went to get a smoothie from McDonalds (the only place open at 5).

The kids and D wanted to drive around and find a restaurant to eat but I said, "no, new tradition - we eat at home on Christmas Eve" and so we did.

And then while we were doing baths and so on, I decided on another new tradition - to make the Christmas phone calls tonight instead of tomorrow.

Because this is how it typically goes - we're always busy or unavailable when the calls come through and then my family leaves me 5 missed calls each (!) and it ends up being 7 - 8pm on Christmas Day before we talk.

So at 6:15 I started phoning. My brother then says as I'm saying my good-byes "ok, I'll talk to you tomorrow" and I was "noooo, that's the point of this call so we don't have them hanging over our head" :)

I'm a little bit jealous because they're all going to be together at my sister's place and we all love our food (my sister is worse than I am, if that's possible) so there will be a spread. She already sent me pics of the cupcakes she made.

I see on Facebook/ Instagram (Laura, your spread looked awesome!) that a lot of you do your big Christmas do on Christmas Eve.

Both D's and my families never have. It's always been Christmas Day, and a Christmas lunch at 1 pm :)

Another thing we started tonight was to let the kids open two of their presents otherwise it's all too rushed tomorrow morning before church.

Hopefully they'll appreciate them all a bit more this way?

My sister married into a Catholic family. They go to an evening Christmas Eve church service and then home to the in-laws for cake, tea and presents.

Next day is still the big lunch :)

What's your tradition?
Christmas Eve? Christmas Day? Supper/ Lunch? When do you do presents?
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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday drama with the in-laws

So in a moment of (extreme) weakness I suggested to D that he ask his mother if she wants to join us for 3 days in Ballito.

A few days later I changed my mind but he'd already mentioned it to her.


Then on Thurs he mails me from work to say we need to speak about C tonight.

Turns out his mother mentioned this to the sister (who is married) and she phoned him to ask if they can both come on holiday with us.

Of course I said to D immediately, "absolutely not".

I mentioned this to my sounding board, Mandy, who said, "won't it be nice to have extra hands?"

It would... but it's not worth it.
  • D gets lazier when around his family (reverting to familial roots?) and I end up running around too much, feeling resentful.
  • They think they're easygoing but really they're not
  • If it was just MIL with us, we are the majority so she'd fall in more with us. But with two of them, everything's equal and would have to be a big discussion and negotiation around everything.
  • Plus did I mention they're all lazy? Not one in that family cooks so it all falls to me. When it's their chance, they want to eat out which is well and good but we never budget to eat out ALL the time. Sometimes I just want to whip up a quick meal, eat and veg.

He hates conflict (hates!) so feels torn between the two parties.

We rented a 3-bedroom so space is not the problem. But I rented a 3-bed simply because there are tons more 3-bed units available, not to have space for guests.

We went to a movie yesterday afternoon (yes, if you're counting, 2nd date in two days - just so happened that S was due to babysit - we thought we'd have to do last-minute shopping but we were DONE!!!) and I bought a watch I'm soooo in love with.

I love watches and looked at this particular one twice in NYC but didn't get it due to time pressures (haha). It's virtually the same price here (within R50) so I walked into a Swatch and just bought it. Yes, I'll take pics. It even matches my favourite nail polish colours - those weird neutral purpley colours.

Anyway, when I looked at my phone, there were 3 missed calls so once we got home, D called.

I heard his side of the conversation and at one point he said, "this right here is what I'm talking about. I don't need all this hassle when I'm on holiday" :)

Apparently she said she wants him to be honest, he was but she didn't want to accept the boundary.

He said we hadn't ever planned on having a holiday for extended family, only the four of us, but they were welcome to get a unit close to us and we could spend some time together. Nice.

So that is that but things are a little frosty in Africa :)

How would you have dealt with it?

Would you have said yes?

PS this pic was taken on 15 Jan this year. Don't they look like babies? They used to take 2 - 3 hour naps at the beach. Hopefully that won't change ;)
PPS I can't WAIT to take pics on the beach!
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dullstroom - I can't believe I had such small kids :)

Not bad for a Sony Cybershot, hey? Can you believe the dummy?!!!! And the small babies?!!!! They were 22 months here.


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