Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017 Planners

It's that time of year again when the new planners are coming out, again I opted to purchase one instead of making a new one.  It's not that the homemade planners weren't working for me, but more of a time issue. They do take a great deal of time to make, & so I opted to purchase from Plum Paper again.

They've made a few cosmetic changes to the interior of their planners for the coming year, & added a few new sections one can choose to order if they want. They even had a sale earlier this year when they came out with larger sizes of some of their planners & I snagged all our school planners at that time. I debated the idea of saving money & using the school planner for a personal planner as well, but as the months ticked by & I was adding more & more to my personal planner that using one for school & personal just wasn't going to cut it.

While they did have another sale after Thanksgiving, I ordered earlier in order to get my planner prior to the end of year. I'm so glad I did too. Oddly, I have nearly identical covers on both planners! The one on the left is larger & I actually removed the cover it came with & pulled out a spare one I had with a more educational/family theme to it. I do so love that grey cover, but it seemed a little silly to have my name on the school planner.

I've been slowly adding information to both planners to have them ready come Sunday. It's hard to imagine an entire year has flown by, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Cinnamon Memories

When our eldest was 2 I found a fun little recipe in a copy of a borrowed magazine for Cinnamon ornaments. The recipe was super simple & cost very little to make using only cinnamon, glue, & applesauce. We were young & broke but ready to celebrate the holidays to whatever extent we could that year.

This recipe gave me the idea to use our little one's handprint. Something he could even help with. Mind you it was very very time consuming to cut so many little handprints for Grandmas & Grandpas, Aunts & Uncles, but he loved poking the holes with the straw to make room for string. We etched the first letter of his name & worked the year on the front as well. They take a few days to dry & I end up turning them sometimes to prevent curling which can happen. The house always smells amazing from the cinnamon while they are drying too!

The ornaments were cherished around the world, relatives who couldn't be near for holidays loved having the ornaments. In fact, we got please from others who didn't get one that they wanted one too, & the best part is, should they unfortunately break in the mail there's no harm adding a little more glue!

When we moved to Australia in 2006 it was a bit more trying to make these ornaments. Elmer's glue isn't a staple in the shop, & typical clag isn't the right make for this recipe! Cinnamon is far more dear then fifty-cents or a dollar a bottle as well, not to mention we now had two children who's hands were ever growing & resulting in the need for a double batch of our cinnamon mixture.

While it's really sad, for this Mamma & the various relatives who cherished the handmade gift, to not make them anymore, every December we pull out those cute little hands & relish how long ago it seems that we made them, how much children have grown, & how much we wish, at times, we could slow time down.

This year I managed to convince my 13 year old to hold still so I could snap a photo of just how much his sweet little hands had grown over the past 10 years, & while he obliged he doubted, a whole lot really, that those were ever really his hands. I'm not so convinced he was in denial about ownership, as much as the fact that his hands had grown so much.

If you're keen to make the lovely ornaments I do highly recommend Elmer's Glue or something very similar, clag just won't cut it. I have no idea if homemade white glue would work either, all though I was tempted to try the first year I couldn't get my hands on white glue. The recipe we use all those years doesn't seem to be readily available online, so I'll share below:

Cinnamon Handprints

1 c Cinnamon {we've used normal & dutch over the years}
1/2 c AppleSauce {not chunky}
1/2 c White Glue {we've used off brand & name brand Elmmers, no clag!}

We mix the glue & sauce together & then mix that into the cinnamon. Roll out on baking paper sprinkled with cinnamon, or a well dusted counter {cinnamon}. Cut as desired & lay on a baking sheet or cooling rack to air dry. If you want to hang them up you'll need to put a hole through the ornament with a drinking straw before setting them out to dry. If you prefer a slimmer hole you could use a toothpick, but keep in mind the size of the hole & how you'll get the string or yarn through it.

When we did handprints I simply copied my child's hand on paper, cut that out, laid it atop the dough, & then used a knife to trace cut it out rounding any rough edges as I went. Keep in mind that the thicker you roll this out the sturdy the ornament, but also the longer it dries. The thinner the more fragile the ornament & the more likely it will curl as it dries. We tend to to roll these out as thick as you would a cut-out cookie, about 1/4".

Please keep in mind that this is not an edible recipe. As another side note, over the years as we made these we started marking small cubes or beads with holes in them. Grandparents were making a garland out of the handprints & this allowed them matching spacers. Yes, the beads or cubes take longer to dry, but they were well cherished.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Historical Walk

The same day we checked out Highfield House we opted to check out the Historical Walk that was in town too. We'd stumbled upon it the evening before while out for a little jaunt down by the wharf. The idea is that you start at location one & follow the signs around town.

The catch is you kinda need a smartphone or tablet in order to get the most out of this tour. While the plaques at each location have a little quip on them, if you scan the QR code you'll hear a more in-depth speech about the location you're standing at. You'll also get a map to help you find your way around, because there's large spans between some, & smaller gaps between others.

If you enjoy geocaching & history it's likely to be as much of a win for your family as it was for ours! The information provided stated the walk would be a leisurely 60 minute, but somehow it managed to take us  3 hours! We're still chuckling about that because we find that the time offered up on signs around here is rather generous, indeed, & to find we'd taken that much extra time really blew us away.

Perhaps our extra time came, in part, due to the stop-off the guys made at the local chocolate shop where they each bought themselves some sugar laden treat & indulged in it while we debated if the object hanging in the shop across the street was an owl or a bear. It was an owl, if you're curious.

We also spend a large portion of time in the burial grounds, which are open to the public. It was one of the few places that was open to the public. Many of the historical homes are now privately owned or required you to search our a persons in order to obtain keys to gain entry. We didn't take the time to do that, but rather admired what we could from the outside, looking for the various locations that one was suppose to be able to see from where we stood.

One location told us that Matthew Flinders referred to the nut as a Christmas Pudding, & as we stood there gazing up the only words uttered were, "How much brandy was in his pudding?" In fairness it was likely much more dense with brush & trees than it is now, but considering he didn't have an ariel view of it we're still mystified by this comment.

The walk is suppose to loop you back around to your starting point, which it does, but we felt it was a little flawed as we had to walk back past a few key points & our caravan in order to locate our car & starting point. We stopped along the path back at some picnic tables & indulged in the bananas & water we'd packed "just incase", & would you know the same tourists we'd help chased down their map at Highfield house spotted us & came over to say hello again.

By the time we finally got back to our caravan, uploaded photos before we lost more, recharged devices so we could snap more photos & people refueled themselves everyone was a little listless & we decided to hit the beach. The guys had all gone down the day before, but I'd had to sit in the cabin & ice my knees after our hike on The Nut. After walking around the water front someone decided his feet were about to fall off & laid down for the night, we agreed & headed back to our caravan for the night.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Highfield House

Saturday morning we hit the "tourist road" early & headed off to Highfield House. This has been our to do last for a while now, & we were set to visit it last year when Hollywood took over the town for the filming of a movie.

Highfield house is an historical home now run by Parks & Wildlife services here. While the house is decked out with some borrowed items, & some that are part of the home, it's history is rich for Tasmania & specifically Stanley.

We ended up spending hours there exploring every nook & cranny, taking a morning tea break & then exploring the grounds.

Upon arrival we had to follow the signs to locate the room dedicates as an office in order to pay our entrance fee. The lady working then took us to this room, handed us a map, & turned us loose. The tours are self-guided, but staff are available to ask questions if you'd like.. & can locate them.

The walls of this beautiful little nook are covered with the history of the people who resided in Highfield house, or had some significant dealings with it. There are dates, quips, & photos all over the walls, which we took plenty of photos of. On the reverse wall there is a mirror so you can see yourself amongst the history of Highfield house, thus Mr S "on the wall".

So many gorgeous windows to look out, & each one had amazing views. The room we started in looked out over the flower gardens, which, when you walk through, are slightly maze like.. unless like myself you are being chased by a bee & being allergic you run like mad while everyone around you is giggling.

The adjoining room was a brightly lit sitting room. All the windows in this room were either doors or floor to ceiling glass. Pretty spectacular, but I imagine also very fly ridden during those hot & sticky summer months. The embroidery in the back right hand corner was pretty impressive, & the table in the front right hand corner was the table that the mistress of the home apparently worked on when doing such work.

One of many pianos within the home. There were some itchy fingers amongst our family who were all longing to play a tune or two upon this beautiful old upright. The sign didn't ask you not to play, but we still resisted the urge.

As well as a second small table which was a gaming table, this sewing machine was in the same room. The boys were curious to know if it worked, but the staff was unavailable to ask at the time.

The next room on the map was an office or study. The wall shows, again, another timeline of events that involved the men of the home & some happenings to the Aboriginal people of the area, a horrific fate by all accounts. The desk has a plate of glass atop it & then atop that are replicas of the paperwork that was found in the office, all though many papers are done by different people who once resided there.

The roll top desk in this photo was on loan from someone within the state, but the handcuffs & gun caught the intention of our war enthusiast. Notice the collection of quills below & either medicine or liquor bottles atop?

On the fireplace in this room was a collection of older books. We could only read the spines of a few & the kids were impressed to recognise titles of books they'd read, for those whose spines we couldn't read, again it took great self-control not to remove them from the shelf for a peek.

The office was the least lit room of the whole home {basement excluded} because the only window was the beautiful door on the side. The other walls were interior walls which prevented other natural light flow. Notice the notch in the shrubs off in the distance which would give a person an ocean view from this desk? It made us chuckle when we noticed it.

We also spotted several of these old clocks that open up & need winding. Oh how one child's hands really wanted to open it up & check out how they worked..

The next room we visited was the dinning room. It was hard to get photos in this room as the light was so beautiful in here that it reflected off many of the shinier surfaces. When we stumbled upon this one & there was still no sign asking us not to touch {some items asked you not to touch or sit upon} a child went off in search of permission to play. They were, unfortunately, denied.

The same room had a beautiful long dining table in it with a long sheet of glass over the top. On the glass were stickers that replicated what a fully set table, complete with food, would have looked like. There was a cabinet in the corner right beside another floor to ceiling window that showcased some items that would have been used in this room including a salt & pepper shaker set that had been "borrowed" from the house in the 1800's & returned, eventually only a few years ago!

Another cabinet, this one had books & a menu on display, but it was very hard to get a photo without the reflection of the beautiful windows behind me. The books were on loan, but again titles we'd read. The menu was very difficult to read due to the handwriting!

All that was left of the China Cupboard were the chips & remains. It was interesting to note we've collected some of the same patterns up off the beach near our home before..

We descended the "creepy steps of doom", as they were dubbed by this cheeky little boy. Admittedly it was a little dark & off putting on the stairs, but I was too busy concentrating on not putting excess pressure on my bum knee. Those steps were steep! 

The basement was empty except for the wee bit of lighting & two signs ahead. There were two rooms down there of equal size & space which were used as the "larder" of sorts. The signs ahead showed what the origional settlers at Highfield felt they needed, & to be honest some of the items on their list had us chuckling. They had an obscene need for butter & bacon, but more importantly butter presses. Unfortunately, the close-up of the sign that I took was one of the photos I lost.

Behind the stairwell for the basement was a small bedroom, with a beautiful window seat in it. The windows in this home were amazing, the lighting was beautiful, & the fact that most of the windows had these alluring seats that made you want to grab a quilt & a good book to curl up in made it hard to resist taking photos of each one.

The room was somewhat empty aside from a bed, this small baby carriage, & a dresser. We couldn't decide if it was a servants quarters or not. The carriage made us say no, but everything else about it, including it's size, made us think yes.

Next we went upstairs which was really really hard on a few of us because the pattern on the carpet was killing our VPD. Not to mention the swirling pattern of the staircase. Ahh, how the origional owners of the home would have giggled at us attempting to climb the stairs. One brave soul took my phone & thrust it over the bannister, while looking in the opposite direction!, to snap this photo. Not bad considering he wasn't even looking!

The master bedroom was at the top of the stairs & while it wasn't as grand as some master bedrooms are today, it was quite grand compared to the room downstairs. Again, the lighting & the window..

This room had some clothing of the day spread out for viewing. The boys weren't incredibly impressed with this dress & wondered why a girl would leaver her dress laying on the bed. Ahh, well you see she wasn't likely to jump around on the bed because that wouldn't have been very ladylike, but they were far more impressed by..

This dress which was hanging on the "ensuite" door & they wondered if I'd love to own & wear a dress like that. Despite Anne Shirley's love for puff sleeves, I'm afraid I'm a bit of a Plane Jane & told them I wasn't too sure about those puff sleeves. 

A gentleman's clothing were hanging on the wall just outside of the "ensuite". Neither of the boys gave it much notice, all though when asked one said he'd wear it if he was in the museum, but that the shirt wasn't his favourite type.

The "ensuite", as I keep calling it, is really nothing more then a small closet with a wash basin & chamber pot. Notice how the chamber pot is set in a wooden box/chair of sorts? 

That allowed the user this view out the window. I'm not so sure I'd enjoy using a chamberpot, much less while staring out a window in which anyone could stare back in at you!

The nursery was down the hall from the master bedroom & was sparsely furnished as well. There was a young boy's clothes hanging from the fire place.

And a grand & unusual version of snakes & ladders/chutes & ladders to play. While the game itself is played in the same manner the ups & downs of the game are based on rules & life during the colonial period. You can actually have a go at this game if you desire, & Morgan being the game & history enthusiast that he is couldn't bear to leave the room without a go. We had ourselves a rousing game before the other two pulled us away to come check out the plaque in the hallway.

The Attic Rooms, or child's rooms are no longer accessable & completely closed off for safety purposes which shed light on why the windows in the hall looked out on roof that seemed to have no access to other rooms. We imagined the thundering footsteps the 12 children who lived here might have caused when having a rousing game of tag in the wet, wild, & wintery months.

The final room we could access upstairs looked out towards the Nut & had a beautiful ocean view. It also had the view of the paddocks, veggie gardens, & town. It was tempting to sit down in the chair & just enjoy the view for a while, but then it was also tempting to use the item laying in the window as well.

We too often had a pair of binoculars sitting in our windows when we lived near the ocean. So much fun to see what one can spy out on the horizon or the birds that are flying around. We did not use this pair, but we did wonder what the user most wanted to see when looking through them.. a ship with news from afar? The happenings in town? The convicts in the garden?

There were several stacks of luggage in this room, perhaps indicating it was for guests who might come & stay with the family, generally important visitors coming to check up on the colony & wonder what was taking so long for crops to grow & other such things in the new land.

Back downstairs we toured the kitchen & found a great many items of interest. Here someone left their pantaloons in the wringer! 

The kitchen view is likely a bit different today then it was originally, but still not a bad one! From this window {there were many} they could look over the goings on in the gardens & work buildings.

From another, while churning butter, they could watch the sheep in the paddock. There were sheep out there, but I'm not sure if they are visible in the photo above.

A small back veranda, visible from the hallway just outside the dry larder. It's now a slightly modern kitchen for the staff that worked there, but not off limits to guests to have a peek. It was a little odd seeing peoples lunches & spare coats, so we opted not to snap a photo.

After a quick break for drinks & fruit we followed the trails outside the home. One leads down to the sea towards The Nut, while the other leads to other outbuildings and a memorial.

Tragically one of the children died at age 2 at Highfield & there is a memorial for her on site. She was, the story goes, riding in a little cart pulled by a family dog when the dog became excited & ran off after another dog. When the chase ensued the little carriage bumped young Julianna out & she whacked her head on a wall {presumably stone} & died instantly. A rather tragic & sad story to say the least..

After exiting the memorial area we stopped in the shade to see how much room we had left for photos when I said, "Oh dear me there's a man in the bushes & he's given me a bit of a fright." Everyone else turned around to look & one by one they each jumped back upon seeing this man staring at us. There was no plaque or information to go with it & we forgot to stop by the office to see if the staff had returned to ask them about it. We opted to presume it was, perhaps Julianna's father looking over her.

After heading back towards the house we decided to peek in on the chapel that resides behind the main home. Heighfield was it's own bustling little community, the home of a family with 12 children. They were also responsible for the welfare of the convicts who were hired to work the land & help with the construction of the home. The small church served not only as church, but also as school.

In the church the boys decided to give us a message on obedience & faith before we went upstairs to tour the little school room. I don't seem to have snapped a photo of the many pews the boys were looking out over. Mr S & I were the only two listening to their message, & once they finished Mr S got up to preach to us as well. He cut his short when he burst out laughing because we were all sitting at rapt attention waiting to hear what he had to say. Unfortunately I lost all the school room photos, which I'm really sad about. I'll have to raid Mr S' photos & see if he scored any.

Next we went back on the trail & followed it all the way down to the sea. We were looking for the old Barracks because our army enthusiast was pretty keen to check them out even though he knew they'd only be ruins. They were not down this way, but the view was spectacular. What a place to have a picnic if you lived at Highfield!

We checked out the threshing barn, stables, & blacksmiths next. All of which were amazing. The Threshing Barn was setting up for a wedding, but we were still able to go in & take photos. We had some beautiful photos of the crates the old wool balers came in, but unfortunately all those were lot in the great "photo loss".

The stables were pretty impressive too & they had mangers which gave the boys a whole new perspective for where Jesus was laid when born. The stables had a gorgeous Dutch Door on it which Morgan was in love with & had asked for a photo of & with. Again, more photos I lost. I may have actually wept over that one. The blacksmith had some lovely old pieces in it & tools, also amongst the lost photos. Such a shame.

I did however manage to salvage the only photo of both kids together on our tour. They were both pretty exhausted at this point & sat down for a rest. We had just finished touring another small house that was on the property, also lost those photos unfortunately, which happens to sit next to the private residence. They were wistful in imagining themselves living there.

After helping another couple who were touring chase down their map we finally walked off to find the barracks. You have to exit the drive, go past the old stables, & down the road towards the ocean. At the corner they'll come into view. This is all that's left & the cows who were grazing nearby were quite confused as to why were snapping photos. When I mooed a thank-you back to them they attempted to follow us back up to the house. Oops!

Another view of the remains. Despite the word barracks these ruins were for the convicts who were made to work at Highfield. There was a small plaque there explaining a little bit about it as well as the book we purchased about Highfield.

After our trip here we headed back towards the stables to check out the old pig stye {also lost those photos} & then, before heading off Jayden had one more stop he wanted to make.

There was a horse across the street at some accommodations. It was just standing between the high shrubbery & the barn in an attempt to ward off some of the wind. It looked rathe forlorn & Jayden wanted to go cheer it up. Leave it to our little animal lover. The horse was delighted with the simple hello, but when we turned to leave kept nuzzling Jayden until he finally turned around to pat it. Then of course we had to wait while he fed it a few handfuls of grass before we finally insisted we really need to go get some lunch.

One last scenic snap before we hit the road. We spent 3.5 hours touring this amazing property & you know, the kids were keen to go back. We didn't, we went to pick up a picnic lunch & headed towards the beach & discuss the historical walk we had planned for the afternoon/evening.

While the rest of us were guzzling water, Jayde decided to offer our lunch to the seagulls, but only if they'd take it from his hand. Absolutely none of them objected to his one condition. That bird happily took the chip from him, & then the next one in line came to get one. See the little fellow on the ground in the right hand corner, he came next. This kid had seagulls all over the table, including a few sitting right next to him, before I told him he had to get rid of them so we could actually eat the food ourselves. It was a lovely picnic to wrap up our mornings adventures.