Friday, April 11, 2014

    This is Versailles: 2012 Edition

    It's true i've drip-fed a 2012 holiday over 2yrs now, but it's also true I write this blog primarily
    for me, as a diary ( and there was a lot of stuff we did to sort through! :) )

    It seems every school holidays I get a little chance to add to it further, and these school
    holidays are no different.  It's just important for me to do it, and have it done :)

    So this is Versailles.

    I've been lucky enough to visit Paris once before, as a couple, but a jam-packed schedule
    meant no time for leaving the city, and Versailles is a train ride out of town and takes up
    a whole day easily.

    The Train to Versailles

    Seeing as this was a "Paris with Kids" holiday and we'd spent all our time delighting them,
    and trying not to drag them through too many castles and galleries, my only wish this time
    was to see Versailles.

    Plus I am a bit of a sucker for a trip on a train :)

    Versailles 2012

    There was an amazing art exhibition on at the time which I found fascinating as I
    didn't expect it at all. 

    I really liked how the artist's work both blended and complimented the opulence
    and more traditional art on show.

    Versailles 2012

    Versailles 2012

    Versailles 2012

    Versailles 2012

    Versailles 2012

    My favourite piece was the crocheted lions below.  I could have admired them for hours,
    but the natives were restless.  Gone are the days of contemplative meditations in galleries,
    soaking in the details .. hustle!  hustle!  hustle!

    A few times I found myself alone in a room full of strangers.  My "seen it, next!" family
    several rooms ahead, as I eavesdropped in on snippets of guided tours and soaked it all in.

     ( Still, I took the boys to the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition in Canberra last year and my
    eldest held my hand and paused to ask questions about the works and the era as we
    shared a headset.  It was a happy day :)

    Versailles 2012

    These works/ installations were all by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos
    You can read more about her and this exhibition here:

    Versailles 2012

    My boys and a selfie :p

    Versailles 2012

    After thoroughly discovering the Versailles interior, we headed outside and boarded a
    trolley car to take us to Marie-Antoinette's Estate. 

    We thought we were quite clever by avoiding the crowds, but alas, when we arrived,
    we had like almost 2hours to kill before they opened the gates on the Petite Trianon. 

    *Le Sigh*

    The Petite Trianon was Marie's little house to escape court life, although when I say
    "little", it's still quite the palace and would still be an impressive huge home if you
    plonked it down in modern Toorak.

    So we hung out nearby and drew with sticks in the dirt and played chasies for a while
    and waited..

    Versailles 2012

    We also checked out Marie's little mill and little farm.

    Much has been made of the fact the Queen liked to 'escape to the country' with
    her children and pals.  They'd don peasant garb and milk goats and play at the simple life,
    albeit, in a romanticised way.

    The people of France, already not in love with the aristocracy, hated on her all the more.
    They were living the peasant life, and there was no-one to pre-wash THEIR goat's teats or
    groom them all pretty-like before they had to do the hard yards.

    Versailles: Marie-Antoinette's Estate

    The truth is many wealthy French aristocrats built similar faux peasant estates on their properties.
    It was a bit of a garden trend, the same as crazy paving and pink flamingos in the 50's.

    Rustic life was very popular in paintings and plays/novels of the time, and of course must
    have been a welcome relief from the stuffiness of court life at Versailles. 

    I know if I worked in the Melbourne CBD all week, i'd be wishing I had a pad to retreat to
    down the Peninsula. 

    Plus, I love to hang out in the garden and pet animals.  Sounds ideal to me.

    Marie-Antoinette's Estate

    Everything was rather idyllic and painterly.

    However, the fish in the pond grossed me out a LOT.  ugh.

    Marie-Antoinette's Estate


    Finally, in the heat of the day, when everyone was tired and getting cranky,
    we boarded the trolly car again and found even more painterly wonder.


    Are you freaking KIDDING ME?

    Boat hire was quite reasonable, but to be honest, resistance would have been useless.


    best put the kiddos to work then ....


    ^ I love this pic of AB

    Yeah, Versailles was pretty unimpressive.

    Versailles 2012

    I wouldn't recommend it AT ALL :p

    Versailles 2012

    P.S. : You can see other images from our holiday here:
    i-phone montage
    The Arts et Métiers Train Station
    Les Marchés de la France
    The Cafe de la Prominade
    Les Averries :: Our Country House in France
    Paris Daily

    Saturday, March 01, 2014

    The Death of Craft

    I believe in hands-on discoveries, and worry that a neat home smacks of boxed-in expression.

    When my kids were younger we did a lot of gluing and sticking and painting. 
    Gathering leaves, creating montages, creating cities and empires of sticks. 

    Wishing the same joy for every child, I used to gift art and craft items ..

    I gave gifts of meaning.  Of mind & creativity.


    I hoped they were appreciated, but I sometimes gnawed on nails and wondered, as I do,
    why I can't conform?  Birthdays are fraught for me, any gift-giving occasion really. 

    I think too hard and then wonder if I screwed up.  And I don't like to give a gift that isn't
    loved - I find it hard to gift and forget - I like to know how that gift is going .. and perhaps,
    if you hate it, can you like, give it back? 

    Because I freaking loved it and I wanted you to love it too.

    We all know I have ishews with gifts.


    Anyway, when the youngest went to kinder last year, I happily donated all the things
    we didn't do anymore but had lots of life left in them - stamp sets, all our pretty papers
    ( leftovers from a job in the paper industry, oh, you know, a DECADE ago?! ), and I got
    GREAT joy when I saw some of those distinctive offcuts used in the children's take-home craft.

    An Easter chicken hatching from a Stardream Metallic egg is not a vision easily forgotten.

    That's the gift I like to give.


    So then, why was I so inwardly shitty this year when the kids got an annoying artbox for
    Christmas in the family Kris-Kringle?  Isn't that the very gift I would give?


    The drive home, where they nagged from the backseat to get into their new present as
    SOON as they got home, PLEASE MUMMY.  And I was grumpy and said no - "tomorrow".

    I'd spent like 3 days cleaning my house so it resembled my dream of Magazine Feature. 
    It's never this pretty.  And my kids are freaking animals.  I knew the paint would be
    acrylic ( and it was, it always is ) and I just didn't 

    I just wanted my pretty house for one more day. 

    It was my gift to me.  I didn't want to ruin it.

    Cranky Mummy, boo.  Grinch.
    Is that how others felt when they received my well-intentioned gifts?


    (  ^  Note: this is a recent art smock/ paint set purchase I made from IKEA.  Because I am a sucker :) )

    Anyway, I did let them, but outside, and I couldn't even karcher off the stains off the deck
    later on.  The fancy new Christmas clothes that weren't changed out of first are now daggy
    around-the-house-clothes.  Stained.

    But I dont like being an ogre, so normally my house is a Lego pit, and there's stuff everywhere.
    I still believe in imaginative play and my house suffers for it.

    And so it was today that I made Play-doh.

    But oh, not the normal kind, this was a fancy-schmancy new kind - no cook -
    just cornflour and HAIR CONDITIONER.  I had to try that, didn't I?

    It made my hands smell like apples :)

    And much joy was had.

    And to tell the truth, cleanup was better than regular playdoh .. the cornflour turns to
    powder and so all the mess picured involved no chisels or swearing .. just a wipe and a brush up.


    No-Cook Cornflour Playdoh:

    1 cup hair conditioner ( I used a no-name variety, it cost a dollar )
    Pop that in a bowl
    Add a few drops of food colouring
    Start adding cornflour a cup at a time.

    The recipe I used said i'd only need two cups, but to add more if the mix was sticky.
    I seriously used about 4 cups in the end - which was almost the entire contents of a
    brand-new 500g bag.

    Apparently it wont last very long, but to be honest, you want that stuff out of your house
    before long anyway, right?  I am predicting it will last as long as my patience, and that's
    a win for everybody :)

    Enjoy! x

    Friday, February 21, 2014

    Come And Get it

    I used to love Peter ( G'Day ) Russell ( G'Day ) Clarke .. who didn't ?
    I used to work at an office in Brunswick just down the road from his local, and on Friday nights
    we'd go for a drink and watch Peter fall off his stool.  Quality entertainment.

    This pic is so studly, i'm considering using it as my profile image on facebook:


     .. and I know this clip is not new, but rediscoveries are always fun.

    Potty-mouth Peter kinda fits in with the one we used to watch down the pub ;)

    Enjoy :)

    Saturday, February 01, 2014

    New Year :: New You

    Well, actually, that should read, "New Year, New Me" and I really want to add disclaimers
    like "hopefully", but I wont, because I know the odds are stacked against me and I can even
    see my inner me sort of nibbling her fingernails with that irky face she makes just before
    someone takes a right tumble.

    She can sod off.

    Recently I became involved with Dettol's Healthy Homes campaign. 
    I joined with a view to some Spring Cleaning, and I love to tell people what I really think
    ( ho ho! ), but as i've made some life changes in recent weeks, I realise the term
    "Healthy Homes" can be taken a step further.

    hbfotografic-blog-dettol-healthyhomes-1 (2)

    The kids went back to school this week.  TWO kids at the one school, full time.

    It's been a long time coming for me, and it's definitely time.  Last year was HARD. 
    I felt out of the loop with friends who had been childfree for a while, and juggling work
    and the sporadic session times of public kinder is tricky.  It was time.

    I've put on a tonne of weight in recent years - we used to walk everywhere, but once the
    younger mister dropped the pram, my world fell apart. 

    He can't walk that far, he wants me to carry him, he's just going to sit on this sidewalk
    stubbornly until the police come and take him away.  So we got used to driving. 

    Or not going out at all.

    It was simply too hard, and he's such a sweetie at home.

    Life slowed, then stilled.  

    Mama no longer excercised, and mama doesn't like exercises to begin with. 

    Walking was always my champion.  With walking I can indulge in my favourite pursuits -
    checking out the neighbourhood .. ooh, I like that house .. what a gorgeous street, what do you
    think that plant is?, what a beautiful garden.. 

    I'm also unplugged.  And I say hi to people if they are out the front. 
    It's awfully good for your heart in more ways that one. 

    And I miss it.  I miss the freedom of me. 

    So this year has started well - I drilled it into them from Term 4 last year that this year was
    going to be different, more healthy, and we WOULD be walking to school each day again,
    and home when after-school commitments allowed. 

    And on that first day, after drop off, I walked home, got in my car, drove ALONE to my
    nearest shopping centre and used some giftcards to buy a food steamer .. and a juicer. 

    Healthy.  Hopefully.

    Not that I think food is the problem, I think it's age+genetics+wine+no exercise.
    Mainly no exercise. 

    But at my age, it's time to stop pretending i'm 20years younger and that the upsized
    fries will not stick.

    Because they do.  They most certainly do.

    Ok, so after the steamer and the juicer, I got to work de-holidaying the home. 
    Put a load of laundry on, started to clean.

    hbfotografic-blog-dettol-healthyhomes-1 (7)

    I did the whole kitchen with the Dettol Power & Pure .. from the S/steel cooker to the
    caesarstone benchtops .. it works really well and has a fresh fragrance that I would
    describe as "Clean" and Dettol would describe as "Oxygen Splash" ..

    Either way, gets the job done! :D

    Well, this is embarrassing .. hardly the pic I want to display, but the bathroom grout
    was well overdue O_o ..

    hbfotografic-blog-dettol-healthyhomes-1 (4)

    GAH!  UGH!

    Sprayed a little Power & Pure Bathroom and grabbed one of the many toothbrushes
    the males in my family discard in the cabinet as putting them in the bin seems a bit like hard work.

    Spray, Stay, Quick Scrub, Rinse.  Sweet.

    hbfotografic-blog-dettol-healthyhomes-1 (5)

    I did the countertops with the Multi-Purpose Wipes. 
    Although, more often I grabbed one of the floor wipes from the flat/soft-pack and used that. 

    Purely personal packaging preference, they did the same job equally fine.

    hbfotografic-blog-dettol-healthyhomes-1 (1)

    Floors done in a jiffy - no mop, no slop....

    hbfotografic-blog-dettol-healthyhomes-1 (6)

    Leaving more time for this:


    hbfotografic-blog-dettol-healthyhomes-1 (3)

    Healthy Homes, Happy Homes!

    2014 - Here's to greater balance & happier days.