I dusted off the guitar this month, after at least five years hiatus. At first my fumbling fingertips smarted at the bite of the steel strings, but gradually patterns that were once second nature echoed back and began to ring out again. It feels good – like coming home, getting lost and remembering fragments buried deep within.
‘Creating’ was my theme for the month, and I played around with sketching with botanical inspiration and throwing myself once again into cuisine cooking. My favourite country hands down so far has been Portugal. It has everything – delectable and not-too-sweet desserts (hints of lemon and cinnamon woven in) mouth-watering finger food (share platters called pesitcos – kind of like tapas) and the slightly-charred garlicky, lemony, salty goodness of marinated meat on the grill. I’m officially a fan.
There were also moments to forget this month – car troubles that resulted in being officially house-bound for almost a week, having to rely on kind-hearted friends and grandparents to ferry children back and forth to school and Kinder. Health scares, an expensive phone casualty and behavioural challenges to contend with. I think I’ve finally gotten my head around being a Two and now feel a little perplexed that I could have thought I was anything else.
Summer burst in unexpected moments throughout an otherwise mild October and we relished the opportunity to fire up the barbecue, allow ourselves to be drawn outside and feel the welcome warmth soak in.
What I’m Reading
Green Dolphin Street (Elizabeth Goudge)
A dear friend bought me this book for my birthday and while I was initially daunted by the number of pages, it is exceptionally written and a true classic. Centred around the story of two sisters – Marianne and Marguerite – who are both in love with the same man, the tale is sweeping, majestic and heart-breaking at times. Goudge has uncanny insight into the human soul and the hidden motivations that guide us. There were times that the descriptive passages made me glaze over, but Goudge has an exceptional talent at painting landscapes and making them come alive. I also love how the tale spanned from childhood to old age and demonstrated the consequences of choices and the redemption of another generation. My mind has returned a lot to this one after reading it, which is definitely the sign of a good book.
The Chocolate Promise (Josephine Moon)
Any book that allows you to travel to France automatically gets bonus points in my opinion. Following the life (and rules) of chocolate shop owner, Christmas Livingstone, this tale is warm-hearted and rich – from the quaint terraced emporium in Evandale, Tasmania to the lavender fields of Provence – with many interesting characters to get to know along the way. I still don’t quite know what the purpose of Jackson’s character was, and some of the twists and turns of the romantic relationship seemed confusing, but overall I enjoyed this. A light-hearted read that I predict will have you reaching for and savouring a piece of rich, dark chocolate before long.
At Home In the World (Tsh Oxenreider)
If you feel like jet-setting off around the world but can’t fathom the reality quite yet, this is the book for you. Stretching across continents with tastes of rural China, far-north Queensland, the sparkling lakes of New Zealand, the red dust of Uganda, tea plantations in Sri Lanka, bustling markets of Fez, the cobblestoned piazzas of Italy and so much more – it is enough to spark a sense of wanderlust in anyone. We plan to go travelling with our brood at some point and this book made it all seem quite possible. Definitely recommended read, with poignant insights about life, home and family woven throughout.
What I’m Watching
It isn’t very often that Dave and I watch a movie in full in one sitting. This one captured our attention, however (though there may have been a few moments when I had to nudge Dave awake again) and the message of the film was insightful. I loved the character of Diana – from the resolute, spunky girl to the firmly confident, fierce woman. The relationship between Steve Trevor and Diana was well done, and I have to say the character of the secretary (Etta Candy) was probably one of my favourites.
It is rare that a comedy captures both Dave’s and my attention, but this one has. With pithy digs and satire related to the whole IT start-up industry, this is one if you want to laugh and zone out a little at the end of a long day. As the series continues I’m growing less enamoured with it, but it is still diverting.
What I’m Cooking
Tune out if you aren’t into cooking, but this month we finished our jaunt into France, jetted off to Scandinavia (Denmark and Sweden) and finished off in Portugal.
Here are some photos of our favourite dishes from the last week:
What I’m Listening To
After a long hiatus between seasons, it was well worth the return to this thought-provoking show. I began with Emotions (Part 1) and had my well-traversed way of thinking about emotions thoroughly turned upside down. I’m really looking forward to going on the ‘concept album’ style journey of this season’s podcasts and learning a lot through fascinating stories about the invisible things that govern our way of life.
If you love the Enneagram and haven’t listened to the interview with Shauna and Aaron Niequist about ‘Nurturing Relationships with the Enneagram’, do yourself a favour and go listen right now. Both Dave and I wished we knew these guys as dinner party friends after we listened to this one, and found their honest answers about the complexity of marriage refreshing, particularly in light of the fact that their particular pairing presents distinctive challenges. I appreciated the spiritual insights of Richard Rohr in ‘Finally Getting Over Your ‘Self’ Parts One and Two and had tears running down my face when I heard Sleeping at Last’s Enneagram-inspired song ‘One‘ on ‘Grace Requires Nothing of You’.
I haven’t listened to this show as avidly this month, but I found lots of helpful and practical tips in the Holiday Family Roadtrips episode.
After a super-powered month of achievements, October was much more manageably paced for Dave. Not one to usually thrive when ideas are on hold, he showed a new level of resilience and calm which was impressive to behold. Living inside his constantly whirring head must be exhausting, but I do admire the way he goes about changing his world for the better. It meant a lot to me this month when he took the time to listen when I really needed it. He avidly participated in the Ping Pong-A-Thon at Belgrave Heights which was a huge success for the school.
It kind of feels like someone pressed a button on Eli and he suddenly grew up. From the speedy getting ready in the morning so he can have maximum Lego Ninja playtime before school, to the kind-hearted comments like ‘thank you Mum for making my lunch for me’ and his encouragement of his younger siblings when they ‘level up’ with something, I’m really enjoying spending time listening to him and hanging out with him. His sense of humour can be hilarious and he is so quick-witted that it can make my brain spin if he catches me when I’m tired. His confidence is off the charts and he even persuaded me to let him go to school with a ‘man bun’ this month. He is a soccer-playing, pencil-wielding, karate-chopping ninja of the best possible kind.
A month after his surgery and Hudson is a different boy in many ways. His speech has continued to markedly improve and he is latching onto concepts a lot more quickly. A recent hearing test confirmed that his hearing is completely functional now. The shift has also brought on new levels of frustration, however, and we are seeing a more emotional side to him when things don’t turn out the way he wants. He is still Dave’s mini-me and he has set up an office on Daddy’s desk to ‘work’, design presentations and podcasts and he would wear headphones and play with cords all day if we let him.
One of my favourite parts of the day (despite my own grogginess and half-awake stupor) is seeing Ivy round the corner into the kitchen in the morning, cheeky grin firmly in place as she peeks out from behind her teddy giggling. She is a little performer – putting on funny faces and sweet looks to entertain and has a special spot for Harvey who rewards her with wide and enamoured grins. Today I asked her if she had filled her nappy again (after I had just changed it minutes before). She responded with a grin: ‘Yeah, I did. Sowwy about that. Sowwy Harvey. Now you have to tainge it. Tum on, Mum.’
This boy loves his food. I’m really hopeful that I’m not overfeeding him like I did with a certain Hudson, but it is hard when he polishes off a bowl and jerks around in his high chair looking around for more. Otherwise, he is the happiest kid, despite two teeth recently breaking through and you can really see the wheels starting to turn in his mind in regards to moving and using his limbs. Dave and I have decided that we really can’t top this baby experience so we are savouring every moment of the quickly disappearing era.
Despite being grounded for part of the month, we did get to have a bit of fun. I relished my annual catch up in Richmond with the girls from my working days and enjoyed catching up with other friends at Primary cafe to celebrate an impending wedding. After chickening out on attending my High School Reunion it was serendipitous to run into one of my good friends from school days at Myuna Farm. It is like no time has passed, and like decades have passed.
We took a trek to Scienceworks:
Dave and I escaped to Flour & Fern while Harvey spent time with the grandparents:
We savoured macarons at La Baguette (which has sadly changed ownership and has lost the quintessentially French feel):
Let the kids run wild at Crystal Brook Reserve one evening:
Had a date (with Harvey) at Ambrosia Cafe:
I savoured so many delicious sweet treats at the Ladies High Tea at Belgrave Heights Christian School to support their Ping Pong-A-Thon:
We reclined under a historic oak tree at Como Gardens and ate Apple and Hazlenut Layer Cake:
Dave took the kids to the Arcadia Display Village Opening:
And celebrated our niece and nephew’s birthday at Myuna Farm:
November is already looking to be packed with great outings with a wedding, Thanksgiving celebration and an upcoming Portuguese Feast for our first official instalment of The Enchanted Table. Can’t wait!