Friday, September 30, 2011

A tribute....

Glittering White Butterflies | Flowers | Forward this Picture

A tribute to a memorable woman with whom I shared friendship on a forum which we both frequented.

Butterflies are reported to carry messages to the afterlife. If they do, I'd like them to tell Sara what an impact she had on me, and how my journey to self sufficiency was largely inspired by her own example.

Sara was also a famous author, although I was not aware of this.

Earlier this week, Sara succumbed to the illness she had fought so stoically for the last 3 years.

She will be greatly missed.

Vale Sara.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quick and easy glitter nails....

On my Tray of Bliss today, a revelation. One of those things where you go "why have I been making this difficult when it can be easy...".

I love french manicures, but I like a bit of bling too now and again. Glitter tips are a favourite.

I've been painstakingly painting glitter nail polish on my french tips and labouring over several coats to get the right amount of glitter happening.

Today I looked at my daughters craft glitter and went...I wonder what would happen if...

...I popped some of the glitter (it's a super fine one) into a wee bowl, painted the nail tips and dipped them into the glitter...

Woo-hoo... success!

A couple of coats of clear polish to seal and we're done!

What's on your Tray of Bliss today?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Very Special DIY Gifts..Lavender Bath Fizzies...

On my Tray of Bliss today are fields of lavender...well figuratively speaking...

I've been making lavender bath fizzies. These are so easy, and a wonderful gifts for teens. If you haven't ever made them, give these a try!

Ingredients you'll need:
300g Bicarbonate of Soda
100g Citric Acid
1 tablespoon olive oil (preferable not to use nut based oils due to nut allergies)
2 teaspoons Lavender fragrance or essential oil
Food coloring if you want them colored

Equipment required:

2  medium sized metal or glass mixing bowls
Molds. I suggest tea strainers, plastic lids of small containers, cookie cutters, egg rings, and those push through sushi moulds. You won't be able to use them for sushi afterwards though because the lavender oil will permeate the plastic. They are cute and inexpensive enough to buy though!

You'll also need...
Cooking won't be cooking them but it's useful to grease the cookie cutters and molds.
Kitchen scales
A spray bottle containing clean cold water
Skewer to add food colouring
Parchment paper and a space on your bench or table
Cellophane wrap, organza bags, party favour bags or some other packaging


Cover your bench or table with a long sheet of parchment (baking) paper. Line up several molds in your desired shape. You need enough shapes to use up your mixture as it can't be left sitting for too long. Spray each one very lightly with Cooking Spray.

Measure out the bicarbonate of soda and the citric acid into the mixing bowl. Combine it well by tipping back and forth between the two mixing bowls and turning it over and over and sifting it through your fingers.

Measure 2 teaspoons of either fragrance or essential oil into mixture. Most essential or fragrance oils might cause the mixture to fizz a little so work quickly to combine it with the dry ingredients. Add the olive oil and do the same.

Use the spray bottle to spray a little of the cold water onto the dry mixture. You won't need too much so just spray a little at a time, working the mixture with your hands constantly so it doesn't fizz. 

Squeeze a ball of the mixture into your hand every now and again to check for done-ness. As soon as your mixture bonds together in your hand when squeezed, it's ready to mold. Quickly add some food colouring by dipping the skewer into the bottle of food colour then dipping it in the mixture. This is the best way to achieve a pretty pastel colour. Rinse between dipping into the mixture and redipping for more food colour. I find 4 dips transfers sufficient food colour for a soft hue. 

Now is the time too, to add dried lavender, lavender buds or other pretties like a love note, super fine holographic glitter, or tiny pieces of gold or silver edible foil (available at cake decorating suppliers). 

Press the mixture very firmly into the molds and/or cookie cutters on your parchment paper, ensuring that it's well packed and there are no holes or air bubbles. 

Unmold them immediately onto a separate sheet of parchment. Now there's a bit of a trick to unmolding the more complex shapes of cookie cutters or molds without the mixture coming apart. You need to pack it firmly with your fingers, especially into the points of the star or the top inward point of the heart shape. Once it's packed rock hard, start pressing veeeery gently around the edges of the mold. NOT the middle. Press, press, press ever so gently around all the outer edge, loosening the mixture very gradually. It may take up to a minute or two to loosen each shape. Shake the cookie cutter gently from side to side and up and down from time to time to check whether the shape is ready to fall out. Once it falls out, neaten any edges quickly with your fingers and allow it to dry and set. 

If you're using the sushi molds, it's just a matter of putting the mixture into the mold, popping on the lid to compress, and shaking it out...voila! To make another using the same mold, spray lightly with cooking spray before repeating the process.

Your bath bombs will set hard in about half an hour. Allow them to harden in a cool dry spot for 24 hours. You can then package them into your wrap, gift bags or boxes, tie them up with pretty ribbon and they're ready to go.

To use, simply pop on into your warm bathwater and let it fizz away. Soak and relax. It's not quite Provence, but it'll do for now.

What's on your Tray of Bliss today?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fancy schmancy breakfast cereal...

I first enjoyed a breakfast parfait at a buffet breakfast on Fathers Day a few years ago.

Until then, I was a savoury breakfast kinda person, and the whole yoghurt/cereal/fruit thing just did not appeal to me.

I'm also not a fan of crunchy cereal...a strange quirk left over from my childhood when I got a Sugar Frostie (sort of like a Corn Flake but crusted in white sugar, long since relegated to the unhealthy pile and outlawed!), caught in my throat. It lodged there and I had to cough it up, tearing the tender lining of my throat in the process. Since that day, I cannot eat crunchy cereal. It must be soggy...sounds vile, I know, but that's the way I like it.

Muesli and other cereals just make my stomach curdle anyway and milk in the morning? Forget it.

This of course leads to limited breakfast selections such as toast, eggs, or leftover casserole. Nothing wrong with that but not the best approach for weight loss!

This little parfait is sweet without being sugary, is light and healthy, and can be enjoyed with any kind of cereal in the layers. These days I prefer a light untoasted natural gluten free muesli. In fact, I believe the other reason I harbour an aversion to cereal, is that I have a gluten sensitivity. Since changing over with my daughter to a gluten free diet, I feel fantastic!

You can also do these in little containers with secure lids or a recycled jar to take as a breakfast on the go when you're in a hurry. Don't forget a spoon!

So you need:

A small glass for serving...I do mine 3 at a time in a small wine glass
Muesli or cereal
Natural yoghurt...I make my own, using the method listed in my Labna recipe
Cinnamon sugar...make your own by combining a cup of caster sugar with a teaspoon of cinnamon
Tinned fruit in it's own juice

Now I just layer muesli, a drizzle of the juice from the fruit tin (only coz I like it soggy..skip this part if you prefer crunchy cereal), then some fruit and a layer of yoghurt. Mine is the thick Greek Style yoghurt...yum! Then a small sprinkle (around half a teaspoon) of the cinnamon sugar. Repeat the layers, finishing with a decorative sprinkle of the cinnamon sugar on top.

Cover with cling wrap and store in the refrigerator.

I like to make these at least the night before, and I actually prefer them when they've had a day or three in the fridge. I garnish them with whatever fresh fruit I have on hand, sometimes even an ultra sweet sun kissed strawberry from my own back yard.

MMM..mmmmmmmmm....yum, yum and YUM!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The soothing sounds of water....

When I'm feeling stressed, I often turn to the sound of water to soothe me.

What is it about water that calms the soul and the heart?

Is it the cool gentle caress around the ankles?

The tinkling sound of droplets cascading into the depths?

The scent of green, blue and fresh?

Or is it just that we are reminded of our insignificance on this Earth, and that our problems are even less significant.

Just looking at these pictures calms me.

I hope they do the same for you.

I walk while listening to nature sounds on my iPod...sounds weird, but alas, no waterfalls where I live. So I improvise with the sound of waterfalls and melodies. You can too for very little. I bought mine for just $2 on eBay. Discount stores often have them as well. A very small indulgence to make that evening walk just a little more enjoyable. I'm always far more refreshed after a walk with my waterfall sounds. Blissful indeed.

What's on your Tray of Bliss today?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Boho Bedroom...twinkly lights and bedheads....

Source: A Beach Cottage

On my Tray of Bliss today, continuing ideas for my daughters Bohemian Gypsy Bedroom.

I picked up a wrought iron bedhead identical to this one pictured above for just $20 at a thrift shop, and I adore this idea of winding it with fairy lights. So twinkly and pretty....and fairy lights for $5 at KMart? Yes please!

....and how about this one for a really simple take on the whole Boho Bedroom idea. I'm loving the twig representation of a chandelier. Just goes to show you don't need to spend a lot, you just need imagination! I think I'd need Husbands help here, but you could certainly lay out some twigs in this star shape, and wind them together with wire. Perhaps some fairy lights wound around the twigs would be pretty?

Here's an utterly luscious interpretation of the canopy. Hung along the bed rather than over it, and using pretty pastel net, muslin or georgette, again, wrapped with fairy lights. I adore the white painted floor too.

What I love about these, is the monochromatic schemes. You don't have to be bold and brash to do boho.

Finally this one. Such an utterly simple idea. Some sheer white curtaining, hung on the wall, with a garland of fairy lights swagged behind.


What's on your Tray of Bliss today?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Do you believe in Angels?

I prefer to think of myself as Spiritual rather than Religious.

I have my own set of beliefs that keep me on the right path in life and sustain me through difficult times.

One thing I do believe in, is Angels.

There are many times in my life where I have felt the hand of my Guardian Angel.

There was the time that our gas hot water system leaked and I succumbed to the fumes in our downstairs bathroom, when the rest of my family were upstairs. I would have died if it weren't for one of my brothers deciding he had an urgent toilet mission, and having thumped on the door for entry into the bathroom to complete said mission, and got no response, raised the alarm.

There was another incident were I was so ill I could barely raise my head from my pillow. I believe now that I had a Meningoccal virus. I certainly had all of those symptoms but as a single mother of three sons, all of whom were too young to drive, I had no way of finding my way to the doctors surgery. Some who contract this virus never recover, and simply pass away in their sleep. I arose from my sickbed in the dead of night to visit the bathroom. It was a three level pole home and it took me ages to find my way from my bedroom on the lower level, to the bathroom on the uppermost level. I was washing my hands in the basin, when I simply blacked out and collapsed. I'd like to say I had a storybook near death experience, but I did not. Some time later, I awoke to find myself on the floor, and negotiated my way back to bed. The next morning, I was fit and healthy. How is it, that I survived, having exhibited all of the symtoms of this illness and perhaps even visiting if not deaths door, certainly it's doorstep? I believe my Angel intervened, knowing that I had work to do for my disabled son.

There are many other incidents. Not catching the subway to Waterloo station to connect with the Eurostar on the day of the London bombings, looking to the right (when I wouldn't normally) at an intersection controlled by traffic lights before pulling away, only to narrowly miss being collected by a speeding semi-trailer going through the red light coming from that direction (I would normally just trust 'my' lights and accelerate on the green), and missing the bus into town, on the day that a construction site collapses on a busy main street in the centre of our fair city. Had I caught my scheduled bus, I would have been walking along that section of footpath right at that time.

Then there's cancelling a trip to Christchurch which would have placed us at the epicentre of their earthquake earlier this year, which tragically claimed hundreds of lives, refusing a lift from a very persistent and persuasive man and woman at my school when I was just five years old, and tragically seeing another child disappear that week. She and her kidnappers were never found.  There was the decision to not pursue a man who was the object of my dreams for a little while, who soon after, was killed in a car accident. Had I been with him, as I longed to be, I too would have been killed.

Even at the earliest part of my existence, my Angel intervened. I was born 10 weeks prematurely, at a time when humidicribs were not much more that an aquarium with a lid and an oxygen tank. I survived, frail though I was, and have gone on to live a productive life.

Contrast this with my son, born 12 weeks prematurely in an era where all should have been rosy for him, but who is left with Cerebral Palsy and is completely physically dependent. It makes you wonder, doesn't it? Some would say that even there, my Angel intervened and that I am meant to learn something from my journey with my son, and perhaps they are right. Indeed my son survived, when others like him have not, so who can say for sure what my Guardian Angel has in store for me there.

Sometimes, just before I wake, I feel a gentle hand on my brow, arm or leg. I awake with a start, expecting to see my 11 year old daughter there, but there is no-one. I believe it's my Angel stirring me to face a new day.

What's on your Tray of Bliss today?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Musing on Inclusion.....

Source: 123f images

On my Tray of Bliss today is another question on inclusion...or rather exclusion.

Why does something that comes so easily when we're kids, become so much more fraught with difficulty when we're adults?

If you follow my blog, you'll know that we've had some inclusion issues with our disabled son over recent times.

I've been struggling with this for years. Mostly we cope well, and find ways and means of our son being accepted in the wider community.

Let's face it, mostly friendships are formed around a common interest, be it sport, dance, techno wizardry or sometimes, and most significantly, something that stems from the heart and soul of a person.

When I thought long and hard about our sons recent and quite deliberate and calculated exclusion from a ten pin bowling league, I had to ask myself some difficult questions. It's very easy to fly off the handle and scream discrimination (which I did), and not look at it from the other persons point of view.

The truth is exclusion is a part of life for all of us. Where my daughter dances, she and we are excluded from many events. It doesn't matter, because we are either blissfully unaware or don't want to be included anyway. And perhaps therein lays the key.

Exclusion can only affect us if we firstly are aware that we have been excluded, and secondly, wanted to be included in the first place.

In our sons' case, he has said that the people in the League at bowling probably weren't his kind of people anyway, so that solves the 'wanting to be included'. As for the knowledge of being 'excluded', well that ship has sailed as he is well aware of his exclusion in this instance. Maybe they should call themselves a Bowling Clique, and not a Bowling League. I wonder if they've considered that their behaviour is a form of adult bullying?

I think, in future, we will research more compehensively, and not dive in with both feet quite so quickly. Had I not taken the Bowling Alley Managers word for it that Mr A would be welcomed with open arms (not so), then perhaps we would not have accessed this particular avenue for him. That certainly would have alleviated some hearteache.

In the end, those already in a 'group' of any kind, are somewhat entitled to decide who joins the 'group. I don't like it, but it is a way of life for some, isn't it.

We will now encourage Mr A to form his own 'group' of friends with common interests, as we've always done before, and worry not about the myriad other 'groups' who may seek to exclude him for their own petty reasons.

We will also seek to ensure that we don't force our own ideas on social activities upon him. Not that that's happened here, but he's actually happy enough to bowl with friends and family. So why force a League upon him?'s never an easy road, is it?

What's on your Tray of Bliss today?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fun on a Friday...Captain Hook Cupcakes

On My Tray of Bliss today is a bit of fun.

I've made these Captain Hook Cupcakes for an event this weekend that features a Peter Pan theme.

Aren't they cute?

Being a cake decorating novice, the decorating proved a challenge, but in the end it was dead easy.

I baked my favourite Chocolate Buttermilk cake in large muffin holes lined with silver muffin cups.

Once cooled I iced them in white glace icing.

The red sleeve of the jacket is a piece of Strawberry Sour Gummy Strap, the cuff is a slice of white marshmallow, and the hook is a strip cut from a licorice strap. The little buttons are silver cahcous fixed with a small blog of icing.

Not bad for a novice, eh?

If I can do it, you can too!

What's on your Tray of Bliss today?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Equality for the Disabled...

 Souce..Huffington Post

On my Tray of Bliss today, a wish for my disabled son.

Mr A adores sport. Any kind of sport.

Currently we are somewhat thwarted by an unfortunate incident at a local ten pin bowling alley where a league have voted NOT to accept him as a member despite having a vacancy. I've griped about this already and have taken some action in the form of a scathing letter to the aforementioned league and to the head office of the bowling alley. Discrimination was mentioned.

But at the end of the day there is no point in Mr A participating in their cruddy little league if he's unwelcome, so we still go bowling and family members take it in turns to pair up with him.

Mr A's older brothers have also been making an effort to get him out more as a spectator and he's gone to a number of footy matches over the last several weeks. Cricket season is almost upon us too, and he loves his cricket so we're looking at a family membership at our local big cricket ground for this Summer.

Still, he wants to play a sport.

Fortunately there is no shortage of wheelchair sports around, it's just getting to them that's a problem.

Mr A currently does not have a vehicle of his own and would need to rely upon taxis. Not a good option financially.

So our next big goal is to buy him a car. I don't know how, as they are expensive to buy and insure.

But we will get there.

Meanwhile, we'll occasionally take him to the park where his brothers can take turns playing wheelchair soccer with him.

Thank God Mr A has us. The rest of the world doesn't seem to want to know him.

Makes you want to ask what anti-discrimination legislation has really done for the disabled.

It's infuriating and I am sorely tempted to tackle these bowling people head on. But as previously mentioned, it's no way to start a friendship.

Sometimes I just hate people.

Sorry....rant over.

Not very blissful, but needed to be said.

Tomorrow will be better.

Hoping your Tray is more blissful than mine today, dear friends.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mum in the stars...

On my Tray of Bliss today is a wistful longing for my Mum.

She would have been 69 in the next few days, but she succumbed to Ovarian Cancer nine years ago.

We decided against a traditional burial and commemorative headstone, urn or object to mark her remains.

Instead we named a constellation after her. We didn't ask permission or pay someone for the privilege. We just decided amongst ourselves and did it.

This is a Hubble Telescope photo of the constellation commonly known as The Jewel Box.

We chose this one as there are seven stars in it and seven siblings. Mum was also something of a bower bird and adored vintage costume jewellery and anything that glittered, glimmered or shone. She had a fascination for astronomy and Carl Sagans 'Chariots of the Gods' was a favourite book.

So this couldn't be more appropriate.

On a clear night, Mums Jewel Box winks at us from the heavens as if she's saying 'I'm here, I'm watching over you, all is well'.

Most days I now remember her fondly and with enormous love and affection and can speak of her without a quiver in my voice. But now and again, grief rises up and bites you on the behind and it's as if it's a raw wound.

Today, and the next few, will be like that. A longing in my heart, a wish for one more conversation, one more chance to tell her all she meant to me and to my children.

As Roy Orbison, her favourite singer says..

"In dreams, I walk with you.
In dreams I talk to you.
In dreams, you're mine all of the time,
Only in dreams"

Here's the song on youtube. We played it at her funeral. It's of course written for a lover, but was extremely appropriate...see if it doesn't make you cry...

R.I.P. Mum...I hope you and Roy and having a ball up there.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

All Things Homespun...magic spells for a magical Gypsy bedroom...

On my Tray of Bliss today....further pretties for the Divas pretty bedroom.

Isn't this the most adorable idea?

Recycled or purchased jars, filled with wild, winsome and woolly ingredients and labelled apothecary style with their supposed contents.

For us, it will be raffia 'Mermaids Hair', a 'Magic Spell' of glitter hearts, dried miniature rosebuds, and shredded rainbow holographic cellophane, a tall one containing a piece of stiffened vintage lace labelled 'Unicorns Breath from a Winters Evening', and one turned into a sort of Snow Globe with glitter swirled through it, labelled 'Dragons Tears'.

You can make a super easy version of a Snow Globe by simply filling any jar with Baby Oil, and adding whatever takes your fancy. We particularly love the little white irridescent glitter scattered with a few white and pastel beads  in these. Just make sure you keep it out of reach of young ones as the oil can be a hazard in all sorts of ways.

This is a gorgeous idea for a home made girlie gift for tweens, teenagers or Boho girls of all ages, too.

What's on your Tray of Bliss today?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

All Things Homespun...Peaceful Pastel Bohemian Bedrooms...

On my Tray of Bliss today, some more inspiration for Bohemian or Gypsy style bedrooms. I found that much of the inspiration I was viewing was in bold colours and the Diva is leaning more towards the pastel and delicate.

So I went searching. Can one still have a Boho Gypsy bedroom with pastel tones?

Well, as you can see the answer is a big fat YES. The pretty pastel pink mosaic bed fixtures above are inspirational, aren't they?

I chose this one, simply to show that you don't have to spend a lot of money on furniture, accessories or headboards. A few beautiful mirrors, photos glued to the wall in rows, frameless, some DIY shelves, a comfy mattress on the floor and a lamp shrouded in gypsy toned scarves. What a stunning effect for not much money!

And this one...sort of Shabby Chic meets Bohemian. I'm loving the little beaded bag hanging on the chest of drawers. I have quite a collection of vintage beaded bags, and I think the Diva would LOVE a series of them hung on her wall.

She's enjoying designing her room (with help from Mama). Hopefully it will be a room that will grow with her and give her many years of pleasure.

Back to the mundane, it's plasterers we need next. We've installed the wall chandeliers and moved power points around to accommodate her furniture. So now it's filling holes, and then repainting a pretty pale, dreamy blue.

Then it's onto refinishing the polished pine floors, ready for a beautiful rug.

Stay tuned!

What's on your Tray of Bliss today?