For the Love of Books

Hello Blog Buddies!

It is no secret that I am a certified 'Book Lover' so I thought I would share my passion in a post...

I grew up in a household where books were treasured and loved. My Mother was an avid reader and she and I would spend hours discussing books, both when I was young as well as when I was an adult. Her book collection was vast and she was constantly asking my father to 'put in another shelf' somewhere. These shelves ran around doorways in my childhood home. 
When people saw them for the first time and made comment, my Mother's standard reply was, 
"We are very 'Book-ish' people..," which was often delivered in a tone that suggested 
if you weren't, ...there might be a problem.

As a child, I was read to by my Mother every evening. I feel I must clarify here, that even as I grew up and was an independent reader, she still read to me and shared books she had enjoyed as a young girl. I would read my school assigned book to her whilst she prepared dinner, but then we would read a carefully chosen book together at bed time.

As a teacher and educator, I simply cannot stress the importance of this. Parents often think that because their children can read by themselves and are no longer under the age of ten, they don't need to read to their children. I would like to suggest otherwise. Whether my Mother was aware of this, or she just innately knew, I don't know, ... but by reading good literature to me each evening, I was hearing complex sentence structure as well as increasing my vocabulary on a daily basis. This of course, helped me become a better student at school as well as a better conversationalist. 

My Mother also knew that books could be expensive, so she became very adapt at finding good books at secondhand book shops. (The Laura Ingalls book, above, still has the 10c price on it's cover) This actually made the books more interesting to me. Sometimes, 
we would talk about where the book might have been and how lucky we were to have 
found it sitting in a dusty corner, waiting for us.

As a teacher, I ensure I read out loud to my class every single day. I have yet to teach a class that doesn't enjoy this. In fact, "If we hurry up and clean the classroom quickly, we might have time for a quick chapter..." will always ensure a classroom will be tidy in record time! This current generation may not have the opportunity to develop a love of the feel of a book that I have. I love the tactile experience of a book... the smell of new pages... the feel of high gloss paper found in coffee table books... which is something my twenty-something daughter, who is an avid reader, does not seem to possess. Her argument, (which contains practicalities) is that she can take fifteen books with her on a trip in one electronic device... and her back and shoulders will thank her for it. Not to mention, when she moves, (unlike myself) she does not have to struggle with the heavy boxes of books that have followed me around the world!


The printed word is evolving and information is so much more accessible than it was. Electronic books are arguably environmentally more viable but I currently prefer to read a paper version. I think I struggle with e-books because my printed versions feel like friends. I can show you books that helped me escape difficult times and made me laugh when I never thought I could again. I have travelled to places and gained new friends, all because of books. When I visit people's homes, I often ask to see their book collections... (I think you can tell a great deal about a person by the books they read!) I also use books as a decorative item. Books can be found all over our current home, sitting on tables and propping up photos, and I like it that way. 

Instilling a love and passion for books with a child helps to install a love of learning. I still like walking into a room with a wall of books and feeling the rush of excitement I get when I see a book I would love to read... You can't beat it.

I dear friend recently reminded me of a simple quote by Thomas Jefferson in 1815 which is;
"I cannot live without books." I hope to impart this passion for books to the children I teach and I hope parents continue to read to their children long after they can do it for themselves.

Summer Favourites

Hello Blog Buddies!

As many of you will know, summer is coming to an end here in beautiful Melbourne. The days are certainly cooling off and the temperatures are dropping faster in the evenings. So before the long summer evenings completely vanish, I wanted to share a few things I have been enjoying over the past few months...

Due to my husband's shoulder operation this summer, we were a little bit house bound and forced to stay close to home. Being a bit of a 'home body', this did not phase me... I can easily make a day disappear either in a book or on my computer. 

I must confess however, I also did some significant 'binge watching' of Netflicks' original series, 
'The Crown" this summer. 

I have to say, it is one of the most beautifully shot series I have seen in recent times. The cast is truly outstanding (once you get past the fact that Prince Phillip is being played by Doctor Who... which is easy to do as he nails HRH's mannerisms) and the costumes and settings are sumptuous and elegant.

Without doubt, it has made me want to overhaul my wardrobe completely, (in an effort to dress like Princess Margaret) always drink hot beverages out of a china cup, and has definitely inspired me to re-think head scarves. I am also thrilled to discover that there are at least three more series in the making... Tally Ho!

In an effort to drink more water this summer, I have purchased a couple of bright tumblers that for some reason, do make it easier to drink two litres of water a day... 
and for around $3, whatever works, I say!

I was fortunate enough to receive some beautiful Hourglass products at Christmas. The gorgeous Sheridan from @thelookbysheridan was kind enough to give me a lesson in how to use these products for all occasions. She was so generous with her time and taught me so much. The highlighters, (Ambient Incandescent and Ambient Euphoric)  are my particular favourites along with Sheridan's favourite brush, that as a make-up artist, she says she can't do without... the Nars Yachiyo Kabuki brush is an extremely versatile brush that I now use every day.

Another beauty product I am currently enjoying is the GoTo Skincare 'Face Hero'. It is an oil that can be used on all skin types and can be applied either in the morning or evening... or both. Even though any of the Go To products are worth purchasing simply because of the hilarious instructions, I was was rather hesitant about putting an oil directly onto my face on a regular basis. What was I thinking? The always delightful Zoe Foster-Blake will never lead you astray... I can honestly say that my Go To Skincare products have greatly improved my overall complexion. Oh... and its an Australian product... Yay!

Finally, my love of rose gold continues (these clips are actually a great deal more 'rosy' than they are in this picture) and I have particularly enjoyed finding the odd bit of it for both my home desk as well as my work desk this summer.

So there you have it... a bit of an odd selection but these truly have been a few of my favourite things this summer. 

Let me know what you think of 'The Crown' if you watch it...

A New Year

Hello Blog Buddies!

As Melbourne teachers ready themselves to return to work tomorrow, I thought I would celebrate the occasion with a nod to the new year...

There is nothing like the 'fresh page' feeling of a new year. I love the notion that we all get to 'start again' on New Year's Day. How wonderful! I personally prefer to set goals rather than resolutions, simply because the word resolution just seems a tad inflexible to me! I also think that having too many immediate goals can precipitate failure so I always start with just a few. After a bit of thought, below are three of my personal goals for 2017.

Number 1: Enjoy my weekends.
As a teacher, often the weekend can be eaten away by classroom preparation. In the past, I have spent Sunday evenings feeling guilty about all the things I hadn't completed for work, and thus ruining what would otherwise be a lovely evening. I plan to no longer do this!

Number 2: Celebrate the little things.
The older I get, the more I find myself working towards a simpler lifestyle. Finding joy in the day-to-day running of your family as well as celebrating milestones... any milestones (no matter how small) helps me focus on the positives in my life. I plan to do this more often.

Number 3: Live better with less.
I have come to the conclusion I have too much 'stuff'. (Actually, I think we pretty much all do!) This year, I plan to streamline some of my belongings and organise items I do have in a more orderly fashion. I plan to do this over a period of time.

So as the first month of the new year slips by, how are your goals travelling? Have you written a list? Have you ticked of any goals yet or are you still enjoying your holidays? Let me know...

And finally, with a farewell wave to Michelle Obama, I will take her lead and choose hope as my global goal. As she said in her final interview as First Lady, 

"... Because what do we have if we don't have hope?..."

Christmas 2016

Hello Blog Buddies!

Can you believe another Christmas is upon us?

As we all plan Christmas feasts and brave the Christmas crowds at shopping centres, I find myself pausing to think about our family Christmas traditions and how we celebrate the season in the southern Hemisphere...

Having spent several Christmas Days in the cold and snow in both England and the United States, I know that many of my Northern Hemisphere friends can simply not comprehend how Christmas would feel like Christmas in Australia. Let me share some of my family traditions, and assure you that, it does indeed, feel festive here...

My parents emigrated from England to live in Australia in the early sixties, so as a child, I remember British customs and traditions were a staple in our home. Things such as oranges in the toe of your stocking, a tin of 'Quality Street' chocolates that seemed to last forever, 
The Kings College Cambridge Choir was the only 'real' Christmas music (according to my mother,) and whether it was one hundred degrees in the shade, by jove, 
we would have a hot roast turkey dinner, 
(even if it meant we were all sweaty puddles by the end of it!) 

I grew up with images of snow and 'the cold' on Christmas cards and television shows. This was promoted as being the only way to 'have' Christmas but I am sure my Southern Hemisphere friends will agree that a 'warm' Christmas can be loads of fun too. 

In my home, we had our stockings from Santa that were placed at the end of our beds and in addition to the oranges, would always contain chocolate gold coins and a chocolate Santa. 

Santa would also bring us presents such as books, stationery and games. We could open these presents as soon as we woke up, but the presents under the tree could not be opened until we had all eaten breakfast and the dishes had been done. 
(Which, as a child, seemed like an eternity!)

When it comes to festive food, there are some things I simply can not do without if I want to really feel like it is Christmas. Every year, in December, my mother and I would make several 'batches' of shortbread to wrap and give as gifts to family and friends. My mother would also always make the Christmas cake and the pudding for Christmas Day. 

Marrying into another family means adopting their traditions as well. My husband's family always have prawns on Christmas day, so this is now something we do. A close family friend always bakes her traditional German 'Stollen' which she always generously gifts us, and this too, makes my Christmas complete.

(Source: Australian Women's Day Magazine - The Queen's First Christmas Message 1957)

After the traditional hot lunch with all the usual trimmings, we would play silly games and always watch the 'Queen's Christmas Message'. If we watched one movie over the festive season, 
'A Charlie Brown Christmas' would be the one I would make sure I watched... I always make sure I show it to my students every year as well. When my daughter was young, we would watch it every year on Christmas Day.

An Australian Christmas is very different to the one our Northern Hemisphere friends enjoy. I love seeing the beautiful cosy photographs of wintery decor on my instagram feed, but having grown up in a beautiful country where I can go for a swim in a pool on Christmas Day, I can honestly say it still feels like Christmas here too.

What are your family traditions at Christmas time? Which ones can you simply not do without?

Merry Christmas!

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