Monday, April 24, 2017

Motherly Advice....try something new...

I've never really been involved with our local Winter (or Spring) Racing Carnival, but it's a huge event in our city. Alas I've been too busy being a Baseball Mum, a Basketball Mum, a Wheelchair Boccia Mum, and a Dance Mum. Where does one fit in time to be fashionably attired for the Races amongst all that lot?
The Fashionistas go ga-ga trying to outdo one another for staggering prize pools and public worship at these events though, and it's all enormous fun and frivolity.
My friend Flora Fascinata, Milliner, Cook Extraordinaire and all round gorgeous person, recently invited my Diva child, she of the red hair, and never ending limbs, to model some of her frippery for the Hoi Polloi ahead of the aforementioned Racing calendar.
Well, not being one to turn down an opportunity to have a captive audience, the Diva said yes, and so did I, seeing it as a second only opportunity, to wear my own Flora assisted Fleur, fashioned some two years ago at a Flora Fascinata make-your-own-fleur workshop.
Now much as I love my baby pink Fleur headpiece, wearing it to the local shops is not an option. People point and stare, and whilst I'm all for fabulosity in all forms, that's probably not my modus operandi. I prefer something a little more low key. Basic black with red toenails. That kind of thing.
So attired appropriately, both of us in black, and with my Flora Fascinata-MimiFrimi headpiece attached securely, off we went.
The high tea was to-die-for....

The fashion, outstanding...
The lady above has amassed $200,000 worth of prizes for her Fashions on the Field efforts...whaaat?

This lady with her very Carmen Miranda style ensemble won me. LOVE the turban!
And this dear man just about outdid the ladies with his red jacket, gold fleur pin, and burgundy Homburg Hat.
Of course, the highlight was seeing my lovely daughter, looking her most glamorous yet. I think she's made for hats. Don't you?

And the obligatory selfie with Proud Mama. Patiently tolerated.
Now I admit that I was somewhat nervous about this event. It was something new for me. I fretted about a dress, and ordered one online, which then failed to arrive in time. I fretted about my naturally grey, naturally curly hair. I fretted about my weight, my legs, my shoes, my bag, my makeup, what I'd say if someone asked me the usual 'so what do you do?' kinda question. Which incidentally, they didn't.
 I lost sleep over it.
And guess what?
Whilst the Fashionistas were out in force, at least half of the crowd were lovely normal folk like me. Most did not even have a Flora-assisted-Fleur to wear. Most were there for the High Tea and a looky-see. Just like me.
In the end my Little Black Dress and Italian heels looked just glam enough. My makeup was fine, my curls were admired, grey or not, nobody thought I was fat except me, sheer stockings covered any perceived faults with my 57 year old legs, I found my silver bag underneath my car seat, and I laughed at the idea that I'd lost sleep over having such a fun afternoon. Very fashionable folk spoke nicely to me, even wanted to sit near me. They looked incredible and untouchable, but you know...they weren't. They were just lovely people, who adore dressing up, and hanging out with other folk who adore dressing up. Me? I loved seeing people who had gone beyond 'making an effort', and who had embraced being daring, and glamorous, and divinely chic. More of that please.
My advice?
Don't miss out on life because you think you're not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, funny enough, fashionable, or accomplished enough. Don't miss out on a fun day because you think you don't have the right thing to wear, or say, or because someone might *shock horror* SPEAK to you. Grasp every opportunity to have a new experience, and run with it. Life is so very short. I know that as someone who at 57 years of age, feels the pressure of making the most of every day, every year, every moment.
Dress up, be crazy, be glamorous, wear the heels even if they make your feet hurt. I sat down in mine for two hours, so it didn't matter in the end. Go to the High Tea, talk to strangers, smile mysteriously and pretend you don't speak English if that's beyond
And my daughter?
My daughter was impeccable. She looked like something out of a Film Noir. She made me so very proud. If you haven't seen the photos yet, then you just weren't paying attention, because I swear I shared them!
I cannot believe that I almost didn't go. I almost surrendered my ticket to someone who wanted to be there for very different reasons to mine. In fact, I offered, but was thankfully, rejected. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I can't wait for the next one. And yes, I'll be at the Winter Racing Carnival. Perhaps with a fetching new Flora designed bit of Frippery on my grey curls.
Do it. Don't wait. Life is short.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Neff Australias 50 Best Home Cooks..will you please vote for my Salad?

Friends, I am a bit excited.
I've entered a competition. One of only a handful in my lifetime.
But you see, this one is just my thing, and I think I have half a chance of winning at least a little something. I think a voucher for some locally grown gourmet olives is at the lower end of the prize pool, and that would be just fine and dandy :)
What would be even better though, would be to win a new oven, cooktop and rangehood for my kitchen renovation... my 'this is the kitchen for the rest of my life' renovation... at the end of this year.
You know how sometimes, things just drop into your lap at the right time?
I wasn't looking to win anything, and generally shy away from competitions, thinking them unwinnable. But I had been looking longingly at some high end ovens and wondering how I could ever convince my very frugal self and husband, that a $4000 cooker was necessary, when a $1000 one would suffice. After all, that is our life mantra!
Suddenly yesterday, this competition came up on my Instagram feed. Wow. could I resist?
Because friends, I can guarantee I won't be spending $4000 on a new oven, cooktop and range hood, BUT winning one? Well, that's different, isn't it?
So, I don't think I've ever asked for anything from my blogging friends or followers. I hope though, that over the years, I've offered you advice, a recipe, a tutorial or a gift idea, that made a difference to you.
Would you do me the honour of voting for me, to help me earn something that will make a difference to me?
You can find my Stealing the Limelight Celebration Salad, under my real name, not my blogging one, at....
I'd so love your help.
And if you decide you'd rather enter the competition yourself, well, that's okay too. I'd vote for you to return the favour.
Or perhaps some other worthy photograph will catch your eye and you'll give them your vote. I can graciously accept that, as well. All is fair in love and kitchen appliance competitions ;-)
Please don't just click away. It will take less than 60 seconds of your time to vote.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Motherly Advice.....I tried to show you....

We live well. But we don't spend a lot of money living well.
We decided long ago what was important to us, and devised a way of including our little luxuries in our life, whilst still managing to save for the bigger ones.
That means that now, as we approach a deservedly early retirement, we can continue to live comfortably, without worry and strife.
Twenty years ago, when my husband and I first married, we decided what our priorities were. In no particular order, here they are:
Have a property portfolio that allowed us to generate an income in our retirement
Travel while we are still young and healthy enough to enjoy it
Provide for our children and grandchildren, and particularly our disabled son
Have a lovely home and garden
Have a beachside home for holidays and short stays
We have achieved all of those things, and to this day, we have friends who scratch their heads and wonder how we did it.
Granted, we had a successful small business. But despite what people think, 'having your own business' is no picnic. There are good times, there are lean times, there are times when for one reason or another, clients don't pay, or companies go bust leaving unpaid creditors, and we never see our money, or we get cents on the dollar. It can be very, very stressful and takes discipline to make it work.
The thing that has got us through, always, was to always live on the least amount of money possible.
We don't have new cars every two years, we drive the same ones for ten.
We don't spend $400 a week on groceries, if we can feed ourselves well for $150.
We don't eat out three nights a week like many of our friends do.
If there is a way something can be DIY-ed, we DIY it. Between the two of us, my husband and I have DIY-ed home extensions, painting, floor finishing, furniture restoration, cabinet building and installation, gardening, propagating, landscaping, concreting, paving, dog washing, car washing, cleaning, tiling, grouting, property maintenance, sewing of home furnishings, upholstery cleaning, carpet cleaning, gift making, clothing alterations, baking, carpentry and joinery, high pressure cleaning, growing our own produce and herbs, jam making, sauce and marinade making, celebration cake making and decorating, manicures, pedicures, haircuts and other self maintenance needs, the list goes on. We've been teased, laughed at, made fun of, and ridiculed. We educated ourselves, online, at courses, and took advantage of community classes in everything from Building permits, to Cottage Gardens, to Cake Decorating and Photo Editing. It all made a difference. Whenever we (or someone we knew) needed something done, chances were, we knew how to do it.
Meanwhile friends laughed when we couldn't go out to dinner or brunch, because we were learning, or practising, or just plain 'doing'.
But who's laughing now?
Who's coming to us, and saying things like 'Your home is so beautiful, I could never do this'. 'I could never have imagined that that's how your garden/living room/kitchen hutch (insert DIY project over 20 years), was going to look. I wish I'd done that now', 'I wish we had the money/time/skills to do what you've done' did, but you didn't want to make the effort, did you?
One of my favourites is 'Oh I tried that once and it didn't end so well, so I never bothered again'.
Wow. Really? You tried ONCE? Goodness. I tried that 27 times before I got it right. But then I got it right 27 or 270 or 2,700 more times and saved myself a fortune in the process. Trying things 'once' and giving up, is not a recipe for success.
You know what? At the end of the day, although ALL of those things we did were important and contributed to where we now stand, there was one thing that was more important than anything else. Here it is...
It's that simple. Everyone else we know, has spent the last twenty years, spending up big on flash houses in the 'right' suburb, upgrading cars, boats, phones, technology, clothing, handbags, and home furnishings, with alarming regularity, while we made do, shopped frugally, made our own, checked out the thrift stores for any needs or wants before going retail, and maintained all of our possessions judiciously, before upgrading only when absolutely necessary.
Many times over those twenty years, I tried to show friends our way of living, and how it could help them achieve their dreams. But mostly we continued to be laughed at and in the end, I just gave up.
One friend shopped at Aldi once, and declared it not worth her while to save $50 a week on her grocery bill, if she had to pack her own groceries. A bit precious I thought. That couple are now divorced, with all of their possessions, and including their two beautiful children, divided between two homes. And yes, financial pressures were one of the main reasons for the split. How very sad for all of them.
Another declared that she'd never set foot inside a thrift store because they 'smelled funny', but continues to spend up big on antiques for her home. Frankly, they smell a bit funky too.
Look, each to their own. And the fact that these people are all still my friends, says something about the ties that bind us, despite our differences on the topic of frugality and finances. I love them all the same.
I could weep for them though, when here they are, all approaching their own retirement, with nothing but a collection of Louis Vuitton handbags and label clothing, to see them through. Yes they'll look fabulous, I'll give them that much, but the lifestyle that has seen them spend, spend, spend in order to maintain the illusion of prosperity, will be the one that sees them having to curb that lifestyle significantly in their twilight years.
Me? I'll continue to bake, garden, DIY, mend, alter, shop at the thrift store first, make do, make my own gifts and celebration cakes, grow produce and herbs, and generally make a career out of being a homemaker. It's stood me in good stead to this point, so why wouldn't I?
And if you need me to show YOU, how we've done it, then this blog is a good reference point for you. I've blogged about all of those things and more. Whether you're 20, 30, 40 or 50, you can start NOW, to plan the life you truly want. Start doing the things that will make a difference. And owning a new designer handbag, and a European car, isn't it.
The only person you need to impress
And whatever you do, don't come to me in twenty years and ask me how I did it. I tried to show you....