Wonderful Christmas Memories

Thanks so much to Laura at ‘All the Shoes I Wear’ for the fond memories of Christmas’ past.  If you haven’t read her post ‘Creating magic out of nothing at all’, it is worth a read.

My folks were never ‘well-to-do’ but we always seemed to have enough of what was needed and there was never any coverting of what others had.  That was until one day, at Kindergarten, I saw THE MOST AMAZING doll I had ever laid my eyes on.  Another girl, whose parents owned the local pharmacy, brought the doll to school as a ‘show-and-tell’.   They’d brought it back from a trip to America (that in itself was amazing in the late 1960’s as international travel was quite expensive and rare unless you were SUPER rich), and we were all filled with wonder about both their travels and the doll!  This doll stood nearly as tall as us (6 year olds), had the most lustrous long blonde hair, talked when you pulled a string on its back and when you held it’s hand it would walk with you.  Oh my gosh, I was SMITTEN!

When mum took me to see Santa I whispered in his ear that I really wanted one of those dolls, like Michelle had.  Back then we would get simple gifts from mum and dad and one special one from Santa.  The previous Christmas, when I was getting ready to start ‘school’ Santa brought me the neatest little school port (case/bag) full of the prettiest handkerchieves that a little girl could want (you would think that I was a ‘snotty’ little brat if you saw how many there were).  Some had flowers and some had cute animal pictures on them.  I was in raptures.  This year would be superceded completely!

When it was gift opening time, I got THE BEST surprise and present of my life!  There under the tree was a gorgeous wicker basket, complete with wooden coathanger rockers underneath; lined with beautiful white satin, including a pillow. Resting her head on that pillow was my own perfect doll. She was NOTHING like the other, but she was even more prized especially when I learned about her.  She had dark curls and her eyes opened when she was sat up and she then said “mama”.  She was dressed in the most beautiful pale pink dress, with underclothes and bloomers, which all turned out to have been lovingly stitched by my mother.

Mum had traveled to Sydney (Australia – a couple of hours by train) to visit the Doll Hospital.  There, rejected and forgotten dolls were repaired and brought back to life to bring joy to new owners.  This doll had received a couple of new limbs, voice box repaired and new hair follicles inserted.  Some of mums friends at the CWA (Country Women’s Association),  of which she was a long-standing member  then set to ensuring that Madeline had the perfect bed, as a gift for me (their youngest member).  One of them wove the basket while another stitched and attached the satin covers, complete with a wide blue satin ribbon woven through the cane basket.  My gift of love was actually an ‘upcycled’, reloved toy, and that made it all the more precious to me.  She was even more beautiful that the American beauty, and I loved her for many many years.  I look back now with regret that I gave her to my God-daughter as a prize possession, but she was of an age that toys were just for the trashing and I fear that Madeline didn’t survive very long and ended up at a tip, discarded and unloved.  

I am thankful to my mum for what she instilled in me, and while sometimes my friends and family might think I’m stingy, on the commercial side, I have always tried to make something personal and individual for them as gifts.  To me it really is the thought and effort that counts, way beyond the $$ value.  I really couldn’t care much for something bought in a shop really and I am again requesting that hubby think about what he can make me for Christmas.  Last year I created a personalised, hand painted journal cover for his ‘ideas book’.  We are both creative and I have been slowly learning to have an art journal nearby to jot down ideas before they are forgotten – though I really need one by the bed for my 3am brilliant ideas.  This year for him, I have designed and drawn up a fun, vintage themed sign for his shed (man cave) which a signwriter friend is having printed off for me.  I’m excited to see his reaction come Christmas day!  I’ll have to remember to come back and add a picture later.

May you all know and enjoy the real meaning of Christmas as we celebrate the most precious gift that was ever given for us, the gift of God’s son, Jesus, so that we can all have hope for a life of peace (even amidst turmoil) and even eternal life in a much better place where there is no hate, evil, turmoil or war.  A place filled only with love.  That is my hope.


‘The Castle’

What a classic Aussie movie! Many foreigners just don’t get the humour in it. There are many commonly used terms that are bandied around now, that took their roots from that film.

‘That’s going straight to the pool room!’  –  relates to anything received that is really appreciated; especially from children.

‘It’s the vibe’ – (legal) term used when you just can’t find the right descriptive word or referring to a vague reference (point of law).

‘Aah, the serenity’    –  a statement when you have found that place of calm and peace shared with the ones you love.

Of course, The Castle relates to a man’s house being his castle…..no matter what others consider it to be.  Being satisfied with what you have.

If you want a ‘feel good’ movie, where the simple, non-judgemental love for family abounds, even when outside pressures and stresses abound, this is one of Australia’s finest.  You’ve just got to understand the colloquialisms.


I’m throwing it out there as we have some strange division going on in our house.

DH has a mentally ill parent, who has denied help but caused major fraction within the family over her lifetime; and who thinks that getting older means she can be allowed to get away with more bad behaviour, which results in emotional abuse and guilt manipulation. DH even left the country in his youth to avoid the toxic behaviour. Several attempts to reconnect with his family have been made over 30 years, but has only brought more pain and abuse.

To me, the worst things she has done is prohibit him from paying his last respects to both his beloved maternal grandparents, as well as his own father (an aunt mentioned his dad’s death in a phone call 6 months later). To say that DH (normally of strong fibre) is scared of her, barely seems to scratch the surface.

Since we’ve been back in the country she has tracked us down. She has her youngest son, who turned 50 last week, and who hasn’t been allowed to leave home or have any other relationship, drive her the 5 hours to our place, unannounced on multiple occasions.

DH feels that as she’s getting older (she is only 75) that we can’t turn her away or rebuke her bad behaviour when it effects us. He says he can’t explain and after she hurt us again on his birthday, I have said “no more”. He thinks I am putting him in a difficult position?!

I have previously welcomed them into our home and provided hospitality with what little we’ve had. We have tried to discuss with her the pain she has inflicted on him, but she totally denies any knowledge of what he’s talking about. She has very selective memory.

I think we have been generous and gracious to her but I am putting my foot down that I don’t want her back in our home, or anything to do with her after this latest episode. I spoke with her, calmly, about how she caused us hurt and disappointment on her son’s birthday, but all I got in return was a patronising lecture. I hung up.

DH is upset with me now but can’t explain himself. We’ve already had one of our toughest years yet, financially, emotionally and psychologically, and I’m wondering where to from here?

Over the last 10 years I have been learning to distance myself from toxic people who drain the life out of you. Am I wrong in this case? How do I communicate it to DH when she has affected his head (badly) for 50 plus years? Can I expect the same behaviour from him?


Atopic eczema

Healing with hemp seed oil.

Recently a friend posted on FB about a caring North Island doctor, who has treated thousands of eczema patients and their families (it does effect the whole family) over many decades.  Apparently he is being shunned and penalised by the medical fraternity for his successful methods, as against just copying the less than satisfactory ROTE methods that are taught in medical school.  His study has come from personal experience, which is the best incentivised teacher of all really.  I read with interest that his method still involved the age old application of steroid creams as well as other strategies.  Now I’m not going to diss his methods at all but thought it might help someone by enlarging on my own experience…..of a lifetime.

I was diagnosed with severe (atopic) eczema when I was an infant, with my mother being blamed for giving me a cow’s milk based formula when she was unable to successfully breastfeed.  They said “just one feed of the wrong thing can trigger eczema”. We’ll never know if that was true or not, however, it has been a lifelong battle, on and off, with the ‘ons’ being really debilitating and resulting in exploring a wide gammet of options to find a cure.  I’ve seen everyone from GP’s to skin / allergy specialists / herbalist and even chiropractors who reckoned they could cure me.  Nothing ever really worked, outside the herbs.  It seemed that I would get worse over cyclical periods of sometimes years.  The old ‘go to’ was always steroid (cortisone) creams / ointments, that only ever masked the symptoms without ever getting to the core of the problem, while causing other adverse problems.

As one specialist described to mum and I once, eczema isn’t just a surface itch, it’s an itch that goes through to the bone, and he was right!  It’s nothing like just trying to scratch a mosquito bite, but rather wanting to tear open the flesh and scratch that itching bone!

Mum became an insomniac, and I’m sure part of it was to do with trying to prevent me from scratching myself to pieces in my sleep!  She would often lie with me (up until I was a pre-teen) and try to hold my hands so I wouldn’t scratch.  She must have been worn down with the sheets full of blood, dry skin and even pus, from where the raw flesh would get infected.  She had to rub all sorts of horrible, smelly, coloured creams and potions on me in an effort to ease the itch.  As I got older it effected my face and around my eyes particularly.

When I was in primary school I got teased as a ‘leper’ for the white crusty covering behind my knees or inside my elbows and behind the ears.  Any flexors were prime targets.  Mum was advised to try taking me to hot or cold places to see if the change in temperature made any difference.   We had a holiday on the Gold Coast, where we enjoyed the sun, but either the salt water of the ocean stung too much (was healing though) or the chlorine in swimming pools would irritate it more.  I think the one thing we did enjoy – hamburgers with bacon and pineapple, or a feed of fresh strawberries – turned out to be the real culprits for causing more grief than relief.  It seems that any foods that were acidic were a main allergen.

We then had a holiday in a guest house in Katoomba – NSW Blue Mountains.  It was so frickin cold that we had to go to bed fully clothed and still couldn’t get warm.  Mum had me wear cotton gloves inside the knitted gloves when I went to bed and she lay there trying to hold my hands together as I worked out that I could get my fingernails in the seam of the glove and use that as a great scratching tool.

Fast forward nearly 50 years and while I have had less and less severe periods of suffering, my hands (which are open to constant washing and exposure to irritants, etc) have never really recovered.  I have no fingerprints (that I can see) as the skins has been stripped off too many times; I have had cracks and split skin on my hands for as long as I can remember and my fingernails usually never grow too much as they crack and split; I have no cuticle and the nails are ridged horizontally pretty severely.  I have only ever dreamed of what it might be like to have pretty hands to wear lovely rings and jewellery on.

A few years ago a friend of mine, who has suffered terrible psoriasis from years of trauma medication, suggested I try Hemp Seed Oil as he’d had amazing relief and was healing up really well.  He had been so bad that his wife used to follow him around with a hand held vacuum to suck up all the dead skin cells.  When they visited she would strip everything that he’d slept on or sat on and wash everything with hot water….. He had it bad, so I knew it was definitely worth a try and while he couldn’t buy it in Australia I was able to buy it here in NZ, at my local health food stall, and it is even grown here. Bonus!

I have been using ‘New Hemisphere’  Cold Pressed Hemp Seed Oil capsules for over two years now and my skin has NEVER been so good!  Even my hands have healed up and I am now able to work in a job where I have to wears (non-Latex) gloves while caring for my clients.  I have what I would consider ‘normal’ fingernails now, no splits, and there is only one remaining with one single ridge on it!  My hair and nails are growing well and even my cholesterol has dropped, thanks to this good oil.  You can even buy the same cold pressed oil in a bottle to use in recipes (it is not a high heat cooking oil) and salads, or to simply rub in I reckon!  I want to shout from the rooftops that there is an option to try that doesn’t cause other hideous, long-lasting side effects, as using steroids do!  It HAS to be a better option and one worth trying for desperate sufferers everywhere.

Disclaimer:  I have nothing to do with the company or production of hemp seed oil, though probably should see if I can buy shares or something…… Neither am I a medical professional.  I am a legitimate eczema sufferer though.  It might not work for everyone, but it has worked for this individual, remarkably.  Apparently, by law, here in Aust/NZ the companies that produce this oil cannot make any public claim regarding the health benefits other than to talk about it’s cullinary benefits.  It is rich in Omega 3 & 6, so go for it.

I think I’m finding my groove….

While I had initially ‘given myself’ this year to explore my creative bent, life and evil Sth African minions have devastated many months to this point. I can’t believe we are already halfway through October and I’ve procrastinated, and been distracted long enough.

One of the things DH and I love to do is what seems to be called ‘picking’…..no, not nose picking or picking knickers out of our bottoms, but scavenging for interesting objects to upcycle.

We had a real win the other week digging through an old barn. DH particularly loves old metal objects so he can spend time in his shed buffing.

I was excited for him to present me with an old saw last weekend. He’d taped up the handle and prepped then basecoated the blade for me to play on.

It’s over 35 years since I’ve really played with my showcard and ticketwriting brushes and fonts. While I’m very rusty, the saw wasn’t and after a bit of a scratch around Pinterest I decided what to paint.

I was feeling pretty chuffed when DH came home and while admiring my handiwork, asked me why I painted on the backside of the saw?! My thinking was that the base surface was a bit munted on the other side so I’d work on the smooth side. He then partly uncovered the lovely antique wooden handle to reveal that there are some beautiful ornate screws on the front. Grrr. So back to the drawing board this morning and thinking of my frustration with DH for letting me waste my efforts, I came up with the new slogan (see below).

While it’s not quite as good as I’d like, I thoroughly enjoyed getting used to holding a brush again and playing with lettering.

What do you think? We’ll have the handle completed on the weekend.

Catnip or Catnap?

It’s an overcast Spring day, with wee spurts of sunshine, which does make one feel all warm and fuzzy when it shines.

I tended my herb garden last weekend, which has given the plants a new lease on life.

Mr Norris was not so keen on me even going near his ‘happy plant’ (Catnip) last week, but is now delighted with the flush of new growth, which he nibbles at and then throws himself down next to it, does a bit of a roll and then settles among the warm rocks. It really is a cat’s life!