Friday, March 31, 2006

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Moving along!

To choose clothes, either in a store or at home,
is to define and describe ourselves. -Alison Lurie

I´m done I can move on to the creative part. One thing I realised after I had washed all my dirty laundry, ironed and sorted everything and hung and folded all my clothing was that I have a lot of clothes! If you´d asked me last week I would have said I don´t have many things and I often have "nothing to wear" but now I see that it´s not so! I really want to feel good and comfortable in everything I wear so that I can move along with ease and concentrate on other things - not just my appearance, so I will be trying different combinations, asking Erich for advice, giving away anything that doesn´t feel "right" and sitting down at the sewing machine.
I chose a practical theme for the 21 Day Challenge because I didn´t want to get too side-tracked from my Life Aims questions ( here and here so far ) so here are the questions for this week - part 3.

What things have you been successful in, in the past?
Which talents and capabilities were decisive in achieving those successes?

I am having difficulty with this as I tend to dwell on the negative - but I will be back in a few days with some answers.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

21 Day Challenge

I have joined a great project called "the 21 Day Challenge". Jamie has inspired me with her wonderful post - I am amazed at the list of names and can´t wait to check on everyone´s progress.
One of my bad habits is to buy things I don´t need, keep things I don´t use and put things off so I´ve decided to challenge myself to

That means not buying any new things for the next 21 days, learning to appreciate, change and use the things that I have and get rid of things that I don´t love, use or need. I have already started this process and this challenge is just what I need to keep me going to the end. Fitting right in with this is the Use What You Have craft challenge and I will combine the two. Stage one - my wardrobe. I will be clearing it out today and adding appliqué to some t-shirts, sewing a few more skirts and bags (check out this site!), sewing buttons on and making alterations. My summer wardrobe will be creative and colourful and it won´t cost me an extra cent!

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Atlast my ex-husband made time to come and stay with the boys so Erich and I had a chance to take a much needed break and spend the day in Graz. It was the first taste of spring weather we have had in almost 6 months so we enjoyed being able to walk around without a jacket, sit on a park bench and soak up the sun and eat our first ice-cream in months.
Our first stop was Ikea where we had breakfast and bought a few little things and then we drove into the city. We visited the fruit and vege market, my favourite, 3 storey book store called Moser. Inside there´s the lovely "Literature Café" with those paintings above on the ceiling. We ate seafood at Nordsee, walked to the Uhrturm and soaked up that city feeling that I miss so much living in this little country village. It felt great to be in the city, to have choices in food, cafés, activities. That´s something I really miss here in Reichenfels but on the other hand, it was lovely to come home to the country side, the peace and quiet, fresh air and spacious house.
Jamie wrote a wonderful post about feeling at home and knowing where you belong and I can honestly say that I feel as much at home as I´ve ever felt in my house here. But have I ever REALLY felt completely at home? I don´t think so. I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney and it was home, my parent´s little house. But all the talk and influence of "life back home" as my Mum and Dad called it - my parents immigrated from Austria to Australia in 1969 when I was 3- made it hard to feel 100% at home in Australia. When I moved to Austria in 1989 I felt somehow like I´d come home but at the same time I felt like a stranger, an exotic, a traveller. All the way through my marraige that feeling stayed with me, like my shadow, even while building a house, having children, trying to make friends. Now I have Erich by my side I know the feeling of having a partner, a deep love bonds us and wherever he is, I will feel happiness but the memories of my marraige are all around me, aswell as the in-laws who live close by. I don´t feel accepted, appreciated and liked in this community, maybe this is the reason that I am never content? It´s not possible for me to think of moving right now but I am in the process of getting rid of old things and friendships, decluttering and making big changes. I need to create my own new space - inside and outside of my house, maybe then my soul will feel at home.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Is this too much to ask?

What are my biggest wishes?
What means the most to me?
What is the most important thing to me in my life?
I have been carrying these questions around with me, pondering, being sure, having no idea, recognising, being confused, thinking, wanting to go forward, being held back, living on one leg.

I am so use to thinking things and automatically changing my thoughts because I don´t allow myself to think the things I do. My thoughts sound too selfish, too simple or too shallow and I stop them in their tracks. I really wasn´t aware of how often I do this...there is a constant conversation going on in my head - I remember watching cartoons where someone has a good angel sitting on one shoulder and a bad angel sitting on the other shoulder and they are argueing constantly about every little thing. I have the same thing going on in my head. "You make such lovely things, you should create more and sell your crafts for a living" says the good angel. "Who would buy them? Maybe you would hate sewing after a while and then you´ll have let a good job go for nothing! Where will you get the money to feed the children and pay the bills huh?" says the bad angel. "You are a great mother, so what if the house isn´t always perfect, it´s a happy house!" says the good angel. "You can be ashamed if visitors turn up, the house is a mess! Have you finished painting the upstairs hallway yet?" says the bad angel. "You have a lovely face, you are friendly and people like you, so what if you´re overweight!" says the good angel. "You look horrible! You should stay home until you get rid of those extra kilos, you don´t look good in any of your clothes, how can people respect you!" says the bad angel. I could go on and on. How do I get the good angel to speak up louder and convince the bad angel that everything will be OK? That it´s alright, even necessary to be selfish? That I can choose not to accept things that I am not happy with? So, I will go ahead and answer these questions NOW, selfishly!

What are my biggest wishes?
I would like to be the boss of me! I want to be able to stand up for myself, my family and anything that´s important to me with the courage of a lion! I want to make plans and carry them out like a winner, conquer obstacles and be enthusiastic about it! I want to be a successful woman! I want to keep things to a minimum and free myself from unecessary objects, thoughts, negative people and use my time for activities which are of value to myself and my family. I want to be an inspiration to others and spread joy and colour! Keeping all this in mind, I want to be able to earn enough money to lead a healthy, more carefree life doing something which makes me happy to get up every morning.
What means the most to me?
My children. I know many women who say " I can´t put myself first because I live for my children": That is not the kind of mother I want to be. I have 3 sons and I see it as one of my obligations to show them that you can lead the life you want regardless of gender, skin colour or financial background. I teach in many companies and see how caught up many people are in the career spiral...a long, hard way up and sometimes a quick fall down. I see that many people are nothing after you take away their job, their car and their expensive clothing. That´s not how I want to be. It means the most to me to show my children that I am a good person, an honest person, an authentic person. I want them to see that it´s possible to lead a happy, successful life according to your own rules and without trampling over others.
What is the most important thing to me in my life?
My health and the health of my family. We are lucky to have a good health insurance system here so regular check-ups, dentist visits etc. are no problem. But it is difficult to buy fresh, good quality food if you don´t live in the city. I go through phases of wanting to drop everything and to go and live on a farm where we can be self-sufficient to shopping only directly from farmers where I can only buy small amounts of quality foodsto shopping at discount supermarkets where I can buy more for the same price. So I repeat - I want to be able to earn enough money to lead a healthy, more carefree life doing something which makes me happy to get up every morning!

Is this too much to ask???

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

More questions

People who think too much,
before they take a step,
will spend their life on one leg. (Anthony de Mello)

When you compare the first set of questions with this second set, you will notice that the first set has to do with drawbacks or faults - negative situations - while the second group wants us to think of our desired life - positive situation. The author writes that these are 2 different ways to achieve the same goal. According to the type of person you are and your lifestyle, one way or the other will be the right way for you.

What are my biggest wishes?
What means the most to me?
What is the most important thing to me in my life?
Answer the above questions keeping in mind all your different areas of life.

I will be using my day off work today to finish my clean-up, take all my sorted rubbish out of the house, vacuum and wash the floors...then I will take the time to sit at my clean table in my orderly kitchen and make a photo collage - treasure map to help me collect my thoughts on these questions. As Meg wrote, we forget that we are allowed to "want" so lets get in tune with our wishes, with our IDEAL LIFE!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Busy, busy, busy!!!

Originally uploaded by chestofdrawers.

I am full of energy to get things done! I´ve finished and sent off a rainbow swap - this bag will be included-, a green/purple swap, a pillow for Alexandra, a small package for Jamie and a belated Birthday package for my dear friend Lydia back in Australia.

We have cleaned out our bedroom, creating a more calm and restful place and I have definately slept better since we finished. I´ve started a "memories are made of this" wallhanging for our bedroom - inspired by a photo collage of Laini´s - and when it´s finished I´ll post pictures on "corners of my home" for you all to see.
Today the boys´ rooms are in for it!!! They have done quite a bit themselves this week but today we will be taking every thing out, changing the bed linen, cleaning and vaccuuming and then returning only the things that they love and need. I have a "treasure box" for each of them to put keepsakes in and all else will be given away or sold.
I have decided to reduce my working hours even more. I have really paid attention to my mood and what affects it this week and I am happiest at home. It may sound very old-fashioned and my boss is going to freak when I tell her that I want to reduce my working hours again but I want to be home more. I want to have more time for my boys, my relationship, my friends, creating and just enjoying myself.
Spring is a time for change, a time for fresh starts and new, clear visions. I can feel the energy of all those flower buds waiting under the snow to pop up their heads and surprise us with all their beauty - my home is one of those buds too and I can´t wait for it to bloom!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Life Aims Part 1

What are my biggest needs and difficulties at the moment?
My biggest need is money - money to pay the bills, money to buy groceries and pocket money for me to spend on things like clothing, magazines and other treats. I must use the money coming in more wisely...I often don´t think about my money until it´s gone - usually around the 3rd week of the month and then I have all these great saving and thrift ideas. I remember a time when I always had enough money, it was back in Australia -I know I was living a completely different life then BUT I was getting a pay check once a week - now I get paid once a month and I think that´s the key. I am going to put what comes in into my account and every Monday I will pay myself a weekly amount - not forgetting some pocket money for myself, not just for the kids - and keep track of my finances weekly so it will be more controlled.
We also have heaps of things that we no longer need like children´s toys and clothing, books, dishes and other junk (I think this is one reason behind my biggest difficulty - see next point). Spring is when the flea market season begins so I will try to sell as much as possible on Ebay this next month and then take the rest to local flea markets - I just have to be careful not to buy more than I sell!

My biggest difficulty is keeping the house clean and organised, making sure everyone has the clothing and food they need and still finding enough time for myself. I MUST LEARN TO DELEGATE!!!!! Erich helps me around the house a lot but we do often fall into the trap of leaving it to Mum. I told the kids this morning that their rooms will be undergoing a thorough clean-up this week. I usually clean the house every Friday but often the children´s rooms have so much stuff on the floor, making it impossible to vacuum. Also, they will be learning to clean their own rooms - change the bed linen, dust their shelves, vacuum etc. Of-course they protested but I will think of a way to motivate them. Maybe have a deadline for the work to be done and when it´s reached maybe have a pizza and video night or a games night - any suggestions?

What impairs my day to day life the most?
At the moment it´s the snow. It´s everywhere and the novelty has worn off after 4 months of shoveling it out of the driveway, battling slippery roads and needing a coat, gloves and a scarf even to go to the mail box. The climate in Austria is basically 6 months winter, 2 months spring, 2 months summer, 2 months autumn. This is something I have to come to terms with OR move to somewhere with a warmer climate.

What hinders my joy of life the most?
Again - the climate. BUT a bigger hindrance is not having a real group of friends here where I feel accepted, like I really belong, I WISH ALL OF YOU READING THIS LIVED CLOSER!!! Many friendships ended when my marraige ended - the reactions of some people were so startling for me that I can never be around them again without feeling my throat tighten. I must take matters into my own hands and begin inviting people over again for dinner or coffee on weekends, some new and some old aquaintances. I do have some very good friends here and I haven´t made enough effort to spend quality time with them. And of-course my lack of confidence hinders my joy of life. Often I would rather be sitting comfortably at home in my old jeans and t-shirt rather than dressing up to go socialising. This comes partly from my weight issues and partly from my not having the right clothing. I have written about this before so I won´t go on about it too much. I should combine all these points and ask friends to walk and exercise with me and also to go shopping with me, an honest opinion and a nudge to try some new colours and styles of clothing may be just what I need.

Under which do I suffer the most ?
This is a really hard question to answer because I don´t feel like I really "suffer" from anything. I should change the question to "what brings you to tears?" and that would have to be seeing my children sad or treated unfairly. It breaks my heart when teachers or other children are unfair and my children can´t defend themselves. Naturally my first reaction is to jump in the car and pay a visit to whoever is concerned but my children won´t let me. I must help them to be strong, understanding and tolerant human beings but it´s often difficult to find an explanation for behaviour I can´t relate to.

Reading through my answers above I realise that it´s a lot of little things that need changing in order for things to run smoothly. So that´s my challenge for the next week, to take the steps mentioned above in order for things to run more smoothly and then I´ll tackle the next set of questions. I´ll keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Life Aims

It´s time!
It´s time for me to leave this inner roundabout,
far too long I´ve been going round and round,
far too long I´ve locked myself away,
far too long I´ve looked longingly at those who
live without inhibition.

I´m ready,
the moment is here,
to loosen the ropes,
to pull up the anchor,
to leave my safe harbour,
to sail new seas,
to turn the sails of my dreams into the winds of possibility.
I am the captain! Atlast!

Since I have begun to lose some weight, I have realised that I have blamed many issues on my weight. If things weren´t moving along smoothly I automatically thought "it´s because you´re fat", when people didn´t like or accept me I thought the same and also when I looked in the mirror and didn´t like who was looking back at me.
But I know now that I am more than my weight. I have noticed that there are women out there who are larger like me but they look great whereas a slim woman who doesn´t look after herself is not as attractive. I have started looking after myself and taking more care with my appearance. I also realised that one of the reasons I hated going to work was never feeling good in my clothes. How can we go out and present ourselves to strangers if we don´t feel comfortable, feel real, feel free?
I have also realised that I am not moving forward. I have felt bad in the past for not reaching my goals, for not achieving anything BUT I haven´t really defined my goals. On Saturday I was at a wellness fair and there was a book stand (who can pass a book stand???). A book jumped out at me and I was so happy but then I thought that maybe it´s one of "those" books again - where on the first page you have to think about God and religion. I know this is very important to many people but believe me, when you live in traditional Austria where the church and it´s ideals are somewhere back at the beginning of the last century, you lose your faith. I do believe in a greater force but when it comes to my life I want to make the decisions and not feel like everything is pre-set, or in someone else´s hands or dependent on how often I go to church on Sundays.
I am happy to say, this is not one of those books, it´s an easy to understand guide to helping you find your life aims. It´s in German and the author is an Austrian so I don´t think his books are available in English. With the book comes a question booklet divided into 10 parts. Here is part one.

What are my biggest needs and difficulties at the moment?
What impairs my day to day life the most?
What hinders my joy of life the most?
Under which do I suffer the most ?

That´s a lot to think about. You can read my answers tomorrow.

Monday, March 13, 2006

So tired!

I have just been too tired to blog! On Saturday I was at a training seminar "teaching english to adults the natural way" - it was quite interesting but I was looking forward to meeting some other trainers and most of them didn´t turn up so I was a little disappointed. The lovely Thai food we had afterwards made up for it and I also went to a wellness fair and found some great books - I will write about one of them tomorrow.

I have hardly slept the last couple of nights because of the strong winds that have been blowing, having me worried that the roof will blow off or that one of the tall trees in the forest next door will fall on us. I spent hours last night thinking about all the things I want to do, trying to make a plan to fit everything in and worrying that I will stay focused and not get caught up in the rut of working life/housekeeping/finances. I am not going in any specific direction so for the next few weeks I will be using one of the books I bought to help me answer some fundamental questions and get me on a path - where to you ask??? I don´t know but I can´t wait to find out!

Friday, March 10, 2006

My Favourite Magazines

Hobess posted about one of my favourite things - MAGAZINES! I have mentioned my love of magazines before, I love the feel, the look, the smell of a new magazine and that´s just the outside! Reading about how people found and decorated their houses, discovering a new fabric, a new craft, a new inspiration gives me such a thrill.
I find it very difficult to part with my magazines so I put my favourite ones in boxes on my book shelf to turn to on a rainy day and keep some to tear up for journaling. When the magazines are a few years old I look through them and cut out pictures and articles and put them in folders. I have 5 already and they are an endless source of inspiration, like thick books!
These are the magazines I buy every month: Country Living UK (this is available in a local newsagent), Australian Home Beautiful (my mum in Australia buys this for me, saves it and sends it in a big parcel with videos she´s taped from the TV and Tim Tams a couple of times a year), Living and More Germany ( this is a cute little, thinner magazine full of great craft ideas, recipes and decorating and it´s cheap).
If I could afford it I would subscribe to Mary Engelbreit´s Home Companion and Australian House and Garden.
A great magazine can lift my spirits, get me in the mood for a new season, give me inspiration when my creative mind is blocked, relieve home-sickness, give me an idea for dinner, make me happy!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Oh the wild joys of living!

Today is International Women´s Day and I will celebrate it by thanking some amazing women.
I received a parcel from Laini yesterday, it was like a treasure chest full of wonderful surprises, I couldn´t believe that all these magical things were for me. You can see some of my favourite things much beauty!!!
Her generosity really touched me because I often feel frustrated that today´s world is greedy and money orientated but people I have met on this blog have proven that it´s not so. I am making friends, sharing, finding people who understand and it´s making my life colourful and joyous!
It is such an inspiration to see that someone is on a creative path, doing something that they love AND being successful at it.

And take a look at this wonderful pile of postcards I received last week! Melba is amazing, she is on a journey and has a plan, you must read through her blog to understand. I´m so glad to have found her.

Today I say THANKYOU to all the women I have found here, thankyou for letting me into your lives, for sharing your talents and wisdoms, for giving me hope and a positive outlook, for making me feel like I´m not alone. HAPPY WOMEN`S DAY!!!!!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Winter Wonderland

Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas;
they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them.
- Russel H. Conwell

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Tagged by Meg

Sunday sewing; wise owl shoulder bags

Thanks for the tag Meg! Perfect for this snowy Sunday - it has snowed half a meter today, our car is stuck in the driveway and we´re enjoying a lazy day at home cooking, studying, sewing and blogging!

Three things you wish for (just for you):
A happy, long life.
To “own” a shop (not rent or lease).
Three things you would do to/for you if there was no one to judge you (or if you had the guts.)
Dye my hair blond or red.
Keep chickens in my backyard and not have to buy eggs.
Start an Etsy shop.
Three bad habits you have.
Using food as a reward.
Leaving “uncreative” things like paying bills, making important phone calls etc. to the last minute.
Never putting keys, glasses etc. in the same place so I can find them easier and not have to freak out shouting “who´s seen my keys/glasses” before I walk out the door.
Three insecurities you feel:
Not being good enough ; appearance
; home
;as a mother
Three talents/skills you wish you had:
Cabinet maker skills to build furniture
Baking like a pro - bread, bread rolls and cakes
Tiling – mosaics are easier because they don´t have to be perfect but I mean straight, row after row tiling.
Three things you would do if you had more time:
Drive to Italy more often (it takes 4 hours to drive to the beautiful city of Triest for eg.)
Help school children with their english (atleast one other mother approaches me every week about this).
Do even more of the things I love doing now (going on adventures with Erich and the children, crafting and sewing, weekends away).
Three things you would do if you had enough money:
Buy an apartment in Italy and spend a few months every summer there.
Go on a holiday around Sweden (I want this even more since I´ve been reading Marie´s blog)
Spend the Christmas holidays in Australia every 2 years.
Three things that bring you peace and relaxation:
Walking through the front door after a long day at work and hearing my children upstairs.
A long soak in the bathtub.
A new home decorating magazine to read and look through.
Three things that spark your creativity:
Other blogs.
Fabric stores.
Three people I´m tagging:
Laini, Alexandra, Liz Elayne

Saturday, March 04, 2006

This Week´s Projects

I finished a few things this week that have been lying around, half finished for a while, waiting for my attention. Inspired by so many lovely needle books that I´ve seen on other blogs I decided it was time to make my own. Now my needles are all in one place and I don´t have to go frantically searching through my sewing boxes when I need them. I am really enjoying embroidery but I have almost no embroidery thread so if anyone has thread lying around that they´d like to swap for something else, leave me a comment and I´ll get back to you. I am also in desperate need of some felt - the felt I have seen around here is synthetic and I would rather use wool felt.
The small patchwork pillow was made for Project Spectrum with more fabric that Chrissange sent me.Project Spectrum really has me thinking about what I can create in pink and red - it´s a great motivation to get onto some things I´ve been planning and also start something new. I am so, so enjoying this swap movement and I can´t wait to receive this months swap - the theme is green, one of my favourite colours. The package I sent has already arrived - have a look!
I crocheted the blue bag last summer but never got around to lining it so I finally got that done and also emroidered a spiral on the front to liven it up a bit.
Before I started blogging it was hard to find motivation to create anything. I take part in a summer fair and a Christmas market but usually I ended up making things in the few weeks beforehand, rushed, worried and very tired by the time it was over. Wanting to post ideas and creations on my blog has changed things completely. I am full of ideas, I can´t wait to get started, I am finishing things much quicker and trying things I hadn´t dared to before, I am discovering my own, unique style I am MOVING and not just thinking about it and frustrating myself wishing that I had. THANKS to each and every one of you reading this my life has changed. Your encouragement and acceptance have given me wings and there is a balance in my life which never existed before.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Thanks for the tag Kerri!
The Hardest Thing To Get Used To....
.....When coming to a New Country.
There are so many things like missing family and friends, feeling left out and extremely far away at Christmas and Birthdays and watching nephews and friends´ children grow up at a distance (my parents, my brother with his wife and 2 sons and my best friend and her family all live in Australia) the climate ( it snowed for the first time this winter on the 20th November and I haven´t seen any green or a temperature rise above -2° celsius since then - almost 4 months and no end in sight!), the products that you are used to getting everywhere back home but just can´t find in a supermarket here (like self-raising flour, cadburys chocolate and instant porridge), the differences in architecture because buildings and cities in Europe are soooooo old with such a long history compared to those in Australia. But I think I am relatively accustomed to all of these things after living here for almost 16 years. The one thing that was difficult for me in the beginning and that I´m still not used to today is the Austrian mentality. The intolerance and negative attitude towards anything new, the lack of flexibility and how hard it is to wake people´s enthusiasm for new ideas.
People are extremely fixed in their ways and feel very threatened when this is questioned, especially by a woman. Women are considered inferior and must fight for their rights - many women think they don´t have a right to have rights though which makes me look like an absolute, over the top feminist because I believe that no limits should be set by gender.
There are so many patterns here becasue the country is so old and has experienced many hardships through war and poverty and I´m sure it´s the climate which has also moulded the Austrians into a rather cold, keep to themselves folk.
The longer I´m away, the more I idealise life back home though. Sometimes it´s not easy bringing up 3 boys with a broken marraige behind me and a house and job to take care of and I often find myself thinking "if I was living in Australia life would be easier". When I´ve calmed down again I have to admit that life isn´t easy anywhere some days.
I miss the happy, enthusiastic, colourful and carefree mentality of Australians, their hospitality and generosity and I will continue in my attempts to bring some of that into everyday life here in my little Austrian village.
I would like to tag MEG! A beautiful canadian living in beautiful England.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sew? I knit!

Sew? I knit!
Originally uploaded by chestofdrawers.

This is it! My skirt for the "Sew? I knit!" challenge. I am very happy with it as it´s the first piece of clothing I have made that I can actually wear and definately not the last! I used a soft, flowing floral fabric that someone gave to me ages ago. I am discovering a new romantic side to me - floral fabrics and soft, feminine clothing have been popping up in my clothing collages a lot more than I had expected. The skirt can be easily sewn in and I will probably wear it with summer t-shirts, a denim jacket and sandals.

Sew? I knit!

A close-up shot.

Sew? I knit!
Originally uploaded by chestofdrawers.