27 December 2010

Off to Prague!

Well Christmas is over and it was lovely spending it with friends.  We unexpectedly did not have to work Christmas day, so we all got to go out to have Christmas lunch in a very atmospheric local Greek taverna.  It was lovely not to have to worry about cooking and cleaning!  

Apparently it is not a Greek custom to wear Santa hats and pull crackers at Christmas time, so our group of 8 (and a half) was the focus of the restaurant... especially when we handed out crackers to some of the kids in the room and then told them what to do with them.  We even made some new friends and have a coffee date with a lovely Greek family on New Years Day!

Tomorrow my husband and I are off on a mini holiday to Prague which I have heard is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.  I will tell you all about it when I get back!  At this stage I am just hoping that I will have a bit of relief from the horrendous allergies I have been suffering from here lately.  

Happy Holidays!

Arabella Chickie, heading to Prague!

24 December 2010

That gingerbread house...

NMC's post below says it all... we got the gingerbread house erected and duly decorated this morning! 

I promised to post some photos for our UK and Greece based chickies...  wishing you were with us and sending you lots and lots of love and best wishes for a blessed new year...
Our house in lollypop land... had to go on a tray so we can move it around easily and keep it ant free! Those are icicles you see dripping down and around everything... remember, it's snowing in lollypop land. And those are trees to either side of the house.  Candy trees and a Smartie path.

We even made a snow man... he has tooth pick arms and a scary grin to keep the ants away.
More snow later tonight... we weren't too sure that the humidity wouldn't make it disappear....  those marshmellows are rocks.

The view from the back! All those little sparkly bits are our Xmas lights.

We had heaps of fun and we're looking forward to baking some biscuits together next year.  The complaints department will be grown up enough to sit alongside us and help.  She was so cranky that we weren't feeding her all those brightly coloured goodies.  Wonder if she's going to make it through tomorrow without trying one???

April Blackbird

Merry Christmas

Well I had big plans (in my head) for Xmas. I figured since it was our first with Chickie, I would go all out and make a really big effort. Then reality took over and right now (Xmas Eve) I'm just pleased that we have all the necessary requirements in the fridge, that the tree is up and pressies wrapped.  I think I forgot that with a very active little one around, there really isn't much spare time for things like baking and making elaborate Adrian Zumbo Christmas trees out of biscuits! Alas, next year then.

April B stayed over last night so hubby and I could go out. Unfortunately we were so exhausted that we only managed a quick dinner out then home to bed. I was really wanting to see a movie, but would have just slept through the whole thing. Anyway, this morning April B helped me to make and decorate a Gingerbread House (well let's be honest, I just stuck some smarties on the house as a token gesture, really it was all her doing). Actually I ate quite a few Smarties too, which upset Chickie as she really wanted some too but obviously isn't allowed (how long can I continue with these double standards?). Anyway, it was great fun and in the end we were rather pleased with our efforts!  So that was our token of creativeness and going the extra mile for Xmas.

Tonight hubby and I intend to enjoy some seafood outside following which I'm hitting the sack and the good man that he is, hubby will be taking his mum to Midnight mass.  Tomorrow all the family arrive to eat the worlds biggest Turkey, then the 3 of us retreat to our beach spot for a week of R & R. So have a wonderful Xmas all. We will be thinking of you all tomorrow. Lots of love NMC xx

23 December 2010

Merry Christmas one and all!

No matter where you are in the world, 
no matter what your belief's...
here's wishing you peace, love and happiness.

Wishing you joy!

21 December 2010

Not feeling the "Peace and Goodwill to man" vibe?

It's the week before Christmas and you haven't done the online shopping thing, there are no presents under the tree, in fact... there's no tree yet.  You never did order that turkey (or if you live down this way) or the seafood and now you're going to have to pay the price and face the crowds.  

Here are three useful tips to remember while you're out there...

1. We are all creating our own reality.  We have chosen this experience.  We may not be able to control the events that occur around us, but we can choose our response to those events.  

2. If you feel yourself getting stressed out by a situation, stop what you're doing, bring all your senses into 'the present' moment, and then take three very deep, long, slow breaths.  You'll be back in control and you'll feel so much more relaxed.

3. Try to remember that people are not actually setting out to be annoying...  smile at them instead of blowing your top.  It's a far heathier response.  This isn't as easy as it sounds... but it's worth the effort.

Next year will be different, if you choose it to be!

April Blackbird

19 December 2010

Baby mittens

Normally my lovely friend Arabella posts about her creative creations, but I'm so delighted with her most recent addition to my chick's wardrobe that I wanted to share a bit of gratitude...

These are so gorgeous.  And I am happy to report, with some nifty modifications, they stayed on for 25 minutes, and would have stayed on longer if I hadn't had to feed the wee man.

Beautiful job, Arabella.

Bookie Bird.

A beautiful part of the world

Well, I've just seen some of the most beautiful coast-line and a stunning little port called Nafplion, which my dear friend Arabella recommended for a wee driving trip with the folks-in-law.  What a spot.  It seems influenced by so many other European cultures (Venetian, Turkish) and is such a lovely little arty place.  I did so enjoy wandering around there and peeking in lots of beautifully lit doorways at gallery designed jewellery and all sorts of gorgeous things made of olive tree wood and other ingenious finds.  It painted a completely different picture of the Greece I had expected.

En route, via Epidavros, Mycenae and Corinth, I was astonished by the ruins still standing and in some cases, still operating. The incredible ampitheatre at Epidavros, and the forgotten city of Mycenae which was in its prime between 1900 and 1200 BC when it began to decline.  And the Canal of Corinth.    You'll see some of the history below  - which is fascinating as to how long it was considered before actually being completed.

Ancient writers relate that, in 602 B.C., Periander, Tyrant of Corinth and one of the Seven Sages of Antiquity, was the first man to seriously consider the possibility of opening a canal through the Isthmus. Periander is said to have given up on his plans fearing the wrath of the gods. Pythia, the priestess of the Delphic Oracle, warned him not to proceed.   

In 307 B.C., about three centuries after Periander, Demetrios Poliorketes made up his mind to cut a naval passage through the Isthmus. He actually began excavations before he was talked out of continuing with it by Egyptian engineers, who predicted that the different sea levels between the Corinthian and the Saronic Gulfs would inundate Aegina and nearby islands with the sea.

In Roman times -- which is to say two and a half centuries after Poliorketes - Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. and Caligula, in 37 B.C. again courted with the idea. In 66 A.D., Nero reconsidered earlier plans and, a year later, he set teams of war prisoners from the Aegean islands and six thousand slave Jews to work on the canal. They dug out a ditch 3300 meters in length and 40 meters wide, before Nero had to rush back to Rome to quell the Galva mutiny. Once there, Nero was arrested on charges of treason and was sentenced to death in 68 A.D. The unfinished canal fell to oblivion and was overtaken by tales of superstition and supernatural lore.
The next historic personality to be associated with the canal of Corinth was Herod of Atticus. He tried, as also did the Byzantines - but to no avail.

The Venetians were next in line. They commenced digging from the shore on the Corinthian Gulf but the enormity of the task made them give up overnight.

(After much consideration and study)  Construction of the canal -- a work which was destined to alter all existing sea routes in Greece, the Adriatic, Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea -- began on April 23, 1882 and was completed in 1893 -(by the Greeks in the end).  

It is quite surprising (and a historic irony) that modern engineering plans followed almost to the point the plans Nero himself has used long ago. In other words, the 6300 meters of canal length which Nero had mapped out still proved to be the most feasible economic alternative.

A little interesting bit of history for your morning!
(Oh, and the most DIVINE limoncello and gelati in Nafplio!)

Bookie bird

16 December 2010

Have you got the latest version of Skype?

If you haven't, you should download it today.  

It's an incredible improvement on the previous version and best of all!!!!  You can do conference video chatting... which is why I was able to talk to (and see!!!) my UK and Greek chickies online, at the same time over the weekend! I keep grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat every time I think about it. 

Skype will give you a free 21 day trial!  A perfect Christmas gift, thank you Skype.

It's just in time to bring smiles to the faces of all of us with family and friends spread far and wide.  Yes, it's perfect for business too...  but, Christmas is never going to be the same for us again.  Our entire family will be able to 'visit virtually' for the first time ever.  (Don't forget to put it in your diaries guys!)

We can also give permission for the other parties to 'view our screens' - which means we can all watch each other's Christmas videos!  No more trying to post videos for each other.  We can watch and listen to them on the creators' computers.  

Now all I have to do is make sure my kids remember to video their littlies opening their presents.

Mark my words... before I die (which I'm not planning to do for at least another 40 years), we'll be visiting each other virtually in life size 3D!  Kind of like the old 'beam me up Scotty' call from Startrek!  It's going to make being so far away from those we care about so much easier!  

I am SO GLAD I am not my great-grandmother.  She had to rely on mail ships and the odd, extremely expensive and hard to come by, black and white photo to keep her in touch with her overseas family.  News of 'hatches, matches and dispatches' came by way of the telegram, at great expense.  

So, onwards and upwards in the great technology race!  May all those whizz kids out there be truly inspired! I am so looking forward to seeing what you come up with.  

April Blackbird

14 December 2010

Christmas tags

This year for about the first time ever I feel like I am almost ready for Christmas...  Thank goodness for the internet!  I don't know what I would do without it!  Not only do I not have enough faith in the Greek postal system to send parcels out from here to friends and family all over the world, but I also struggle to find the things I want to buy for them here.  Now I will just have to cross my fingers and hope everyone gets their prezzie!

Now that BB and I have been busy ordering in card making supplies, we had not excuses not to make our own Christmas cards and Christmas tags... I kept my tags pretty simple... just digi stamps on Kraft, coloured with copics and white gel pen with a bit of glitter for sparkle.

Of course, I forgot to photograph my 40 or so different tags before I wrapped the prezzies and attached them!  These are the four that are still waiting to go on gifts...

This year we opted for a white tree.  We collected a burnt branch from the countryside where a fire had been through last year and spray painted it white, decorated it with candy canes, Christmas lights and red baubles and went with it!

I am quite enjoying the simple Christmas tree look!

Merry Christmas!

Arabella Chickie, Lavrio Greece

12 December 2010

It's the small things ...

Tonight, I came home from doing the grocery shopping, and was met by my hubby in the garage who told me he had a surprise for me! How exciting!
Low and behold, he had erected the washing line for me! Now, the feminists of the world might be aghast, however I can assure you that after six months of trying to dry our washing on an assortment of clothes horses, the prospect of a washing line is just pure magic!  It was with great delight that I went out and hung up 3 loads of wet washing. Sure, it's dark out, but it might still dry.

Now I realise to many that doing the washing and grocery shopping on a Sunday night might sound appalling, and before you lambaste hubby for not hanging out said washing for me, I should mention that I'm trying to feel useful whilst hubby is out there in the dark planting the last of our trees that need to go in the ground. This is quite a momentous stage... the landscaping is nearly "finished". By finished I mean enough things are in the ground that we can get the certifier out this week, hopefully he will give us our tick of approval, and then we can get our occupational certificate. This means we can officially, legally live in our house now, or so council tell us. It also means grumpy neighbours will hopefully leave us in peace! 

So on that note, I'm going to go and hang out yet another load of washing on my 6 metres of beautiful, clean, sparkly new washing line. Hopefully there is no rain forecast. If I was a true blogger, I would add a link so you could all have a look at the type of line we have bought, but probably, no one would really be all that interested.


10 December 2010

Fuddly the Flutterby

I have just finished another wee animal friend for a new baby girl.

This flutterby was from a pattern from a Japanese Amigurumi book.  I had a little bit of trouble following the instructions, so it is not quite how it should look, but I am pretty happy with the result.

Arabella Chickie, Lavrio Greece

09 December 2010

Mama's Holiday Wish List Meme...

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme
TodaysMama and GameStop are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.
1. What is your holiday wish for your family?
I wish for all my family to have a safe and happy Christmas and to have a wonderful year ahead.
2. What is your Christmas morning / Hanukkah Nightly tradition?
On Christmas morning we like to get up and have freshly brewed coffee while opening presents and then have pancakes with maple syrup, bananas and bacon for breakfast.
3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be?
Well... I asked Santa for Violet Crumble from Australia and guess what?!  He's sending me some!  (Love you Santa in Oz)
4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?
I really struggle not to spend money over Christmas, there are so many cool things to buy!  But really, Christmas for us is about spending time with family and you don't need money to do that.  Lots of lovely homemade Christmas baking helps though  : )
5. What games did you play with your family growing up?
Mostly card games like 500 and Canasta.  I love playing any kind of game though... it always gives me warm memories of family holidays.
6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?
Holiday treat baking.  In my family we always had special baking (like Mum's Belgian biscuits) that was only made at Christmas time no matter how much we loved it.  It's nice to save some things for special treats.
7. Where would you go for a Christmas/Hanukkah-away-from-home trip?
Well for the last five years we have been living away from home, so a Christmas trip for us is to go home and see family : )
8. Check out GameStop and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year?
Hhmmm... A Nintendo DS Lite, Sharkoon X-Tatic True gaming headset for my hubbie, Assasin's Creed: Directors cut game for PC.
Fun!  Go and enter yourself!  The prize package up for grabs is awesome!!!!
Arabella Chickie, Lavrio Greece

I saw a real 'feel good' movie this afternoon

Made in Dagenham at the little Manly Cinema.  What a lovely, unexpected afternoon out. 

It was truly entertaining and really made me remember how much women have to be grateful for today.  Our 'grandmothers' really put themselves on the line for us and I think we all take so much for granted today because we've never understood how different life could have been for us if they hadn't taken such a strong stand.

I salute them, one and all.  Well done.

April Blackbird

08 December 2010


I'm unfit and far too fat and last night I decided to get with the program and do something about it... so I went along to my first Zumba class and absolutely LOVED IT.

I used to do IDEA gym in SA (it's an American franchise and involved lots of dancing and toning exercise) and went as often as five times a week when I was really fit.  This is even more fun ('cos I love to dance!), not sure about the Bollywood style dancing we did as it's quite hard on the knees.

Needless to say, I ache in places I'd forgotten about. 

This is good old, contagious fun!  Have a watch.

April Blackbird

03 December 2010

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

I just wanted to remind you where I am this year as last year I don't think you could find me somewhere between Spain and Greece.  This year I will be in Lavrio, Greece, just South East of Athens, or maybe out at one of the islands in the Aegean.

Anyway, I wanted to say that I have been very good this year.  I have been flossing my teeth twice a day (most days), making my husband coffee in the mornings (if I get up first), I joined the gym when my husband said there was so much more of me to love than when he first met me, and when my husband asked me to stop online shopping, I did (for a whole month)!  

Santa, did you know I'm pretty good at baking?   This year I will be baking delicious Christmas goodies like Belgian biscuits, Spice biscuits, Apple cake, Russian fudge, Rocky Road, Milk tart and Neenish tarts.  I will leave out a few of each for you when you come to visit.

So Santa, do you think you could bring me some Violet Crumble for Christmas?  I really love Violet Crumble...

Thanks in advance Santa, 


Arabella Chickie