Sunday, January 19, 2014

moving to a new address

Hey there friends,

I'm so, so happy to tell you that my new website is now operational.
I'm loving its clean and organised space. Probably because I lack that currently in my actual living space:)

So here it is:

Meredy xo

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

constructions on so many levels.....

Howdy there campers.
This poor, wee blog has been cruelly neglected.
Never fear!
There will be a phoenix arising from the ashes very soon....
I am currently moving the blog to a Wordpress site where I can more happily record the chaos of building, family, life in extra colours, fonts and widgets.

I'm hoping to have it up and running in the next week or so and will let you know as soon as it's operational.  I have my dunce cap on at the moment as I learn the new system - but it promises to be easier in the long term.  Let's hope that proves to be the case.

There are exactly 13 sleeps until work begins on the new house.  Woohoo!

I have to admit that we are all only just, barely hanging in there....
We miss our stuff.
We miss our space.
We miss our beds.
My back may never recover from sleeping in the bed we are in currently.  You can lie on the edge and just roll straight into the middle and come to rest on a nest of springs barely contained through the mattress covering. I'm trying to be Little House on the Prairie about it, but Laura Ingalls I am clearly not.

For those of you who always drop in, put up with my sporadic posts and whining....thank you.  I'm hoping that with the advent of the new site there will be adventures in kid-wrangling, building progress photos and dubious recipes coming to you live from Chez Joyeux which will make you cringe, guffaw in horror and generally make you feel superior.

Love you  more than leftover Christmas ham,

Meredy xo

Sunday, December 15, 2013

top 5 French book picks for Christmas

If you're anything like me, you've got a slew of people to buy for and by about now you're in a Christmas fog.

My "foolproof" gift giving tends towards something French.
France is always the gift that keeps on giving.
From Provence to Paris.  Foodies to Fashionistas.
You want to spoil someone - a book with a French perspective will usually do the trick.

I have HEAPS of French book recommendations, but these are some relatively new ones which I haven't mentioned before.  For a more complete list of French eye candy, you can click here

You may have seen/heard/bought these....but in case you've haven't, here are some crowd pleasers:

For your one of your besties who deserves some comfort and delight this Christmas:

2.  For a Country Mouse/Town Mouse French experience, you might like to pair it with the
Paris Sketchbook

I bought this after we'd been to Paris and all my photos got lost in cyberspace.
It brings joy every time I flick through it:)

3.  This is the latest from one of my favourite author/photographer's Janelle McCulloch.

It was released on 1st December, so there aren't many online images to display just yet.
Suffice to say, it is a visual delight and as usual for one of Janelle's books, exquisitely produced.
The attention to design detail is amazing.
This is what I've asked the kids to buy me for Christmas:)

I know this is a children's book, but it is SO divine, I'm sure any food loving, Francophile would love to receive it:

Even gorgeous endpapers....I'm a sucker for beautiful endpapers.

From opulent splendour to farmhouse chic - this beautiful book covers it all.



As wonderful luck would have it, the very same day I published this list, Vicki Archer interviewed Tish Jett of A Femme d'Un Certain Age regarding her gorgeous new book Forever Chic: Frenchwomen's Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style, and Substance

It looks right up our cobblestone alley my friends.

You can read her interview with Vicki Archer here {click}.  This is most definitely, absolutely going on my wishlist.  

Love you more than an empty laundry basket,

Meredy xo

Saturday, December 7, 2013

let me be singing when the evening comes.....

Hey there friends.
Just wanted to share what's happening at Chez Joy.
A few challenges, but so many blessings.

I read an Ann Lamott book recently {is she not the bomb-diggidy-bomb?} in which she shared a conversation she'd had with her best friend, who happens to be a Jesuit priest.  She asked him what he thought dying and leaving this earth might be like.  His answer really resonated with me...

"I think it will be like finally taking off a pair of shoes that never really quite fit"

How true!
No matter how hard I try to make these life shoes of mine comfortable, there's always a pebble in the sole {soul}.
Among the pebbles...
Angus who is now 5 has recently been diagnosed with epilepsy.
Thankfully, he so far hasn't had grand mal seizures and if the other kids are anything to go by, he probably shouldn't.  Yay!

I was completely stoic to begin with, but the last three or four weeks he has been getting progressively worse.  He no longer likes to run ahead of me when we're out.  He'll often have an absence {just zones out completely}, then comes to, looks around and doesn't know where he is and how he got there. He usually starts crying and then yelling in outrage - quite convinced I  had abandoned him.  Such a typically bolshie response.   This last week in particular, he's been clinging to my arms, legs, waist when we're out and I'm quietly dying a little on the inside.  My rambunctious, gregarious, hilarious boy is being driven back into my arms for safety and comfort as his confidence diminishes.

 I take heart knowing this is temporary.  Once we can get in to see the neuro and establish correct medication everything will be better.  But it's going to take t-i-m-e.  I am so pissed off.  Really, God?  Really?  Three children with epilepsy?  I know it's not cancer.  It's not chronic pain or debilitating disease.  For that I am grateful.  But it requires so much energy and focus and enthusiasm to combat.  Chances are the whole household will have to go back to a ketogenic diet.

Okay. Whinge over.
Let the blessings roll.
These would be the orthopedic inserts into my life-shoes:)

We have recently moved to a new church which has a larger children's ministry which can cater for our whole range of children and has lots of kids which go to the Christian college where our kids go for high school.  Meg, who was afraid she'd know no one when she got to high school and was beginning to panic, now has almost a dozen new girlfriends in her "kids church" group who will all be starting year 7 with her.  She is so relieved {so is her mama}.

Angus was having such a bad seizure day on Thursday, he couldn't go to preschool.  He got super lucky though and tagged along with  me to Sisterhood Cafe at church and hung out with some other preschool friends while the mum's drank cappuccino and ate spiced cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. {they have a full-on barista style coffee machine in the church foyer!  I promise this is not why I chose this church......}.  The Holy Spirit must have been working overtime that morning.  I had an incredibly encouraging conversation with a mum there who has a severely handicapped child who also has epilepsy.  We actually laughed and joked about how best to deal with medical receptionists who don't get how desperate you are to see their boss.  Sending video clips of the seizure, followed with a crying phone call seems to be the best way to a golden ticket.

We listened to Andy and Bella from Nairobi Chapel share their story which was amazing.  Andy was tragically widowed when he was only 20 years old, three months after his marriage.  After thinking he would never get over it, he met Bella and God worked amazing healing in his life, even when he really didn't feel he wanted it.  He also spoke about how at othertimes you might feel that God has put your "file" up on a higher shelf while he's busy doing other stuff.  How you can feel overwhelmed with what's in front of you and totally alone.  Um, yeah.  I think we can all identify with that feeling.  He started singing "10,000 reasons"....probably one of the best worship songs EVER.  At that moment, Angus came out of the kids room looking pale and shocked {he does this after lengthy seizures}, crawled up onto my lap and clung to me like a kitten.

The song....Andy & Bella's story....chatting about seizures.....Angus not coping .....I ended up crying silent, soul tears.  I was overwhelmed with sadness, but also relief at this big, huge, amazing God who loves me so much that He will position us so beautifully to cope by surrounding us with people, stories and songs which bring hope.

I have 10,000 reasons for my soul to sing.
"Let me be singing when the evening comes...."
Angus has been singing this song now at bedtime with me.
To hear him sing in his cute voice "Bless the Lord my soul, O my soul" with such earnestness, his little eyes scrunched up, mouth open wide.....o my soul, indeed.
Listen to this and be blessed:
{you need to follow link to youtube}

Love you more than eggnog,

Meredy xo

Thursday, November 28, 2013

kicking off Christmas right....

Before I do much else, I'm going to.....

Set the mood by listening to these:

Then I'm going to make this:

Nigella's Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova.
I make this so often during the summer months that it's become almost de rigeur when you come to our home.
There's something comforting about that I think.
And why not, I say.  It's easy, delicious and a treat for all.

and this....

So refreshing this time of year.....
How hot was Sydney today!!  Ick. Could have done with a few barrels of this today.
Recipe here {click}

Dot these around the house for some Christmas ambience:

These are just plain candles wrapped with eucalyptus leaves.  So Australian - so festive:)

Watch this:

Never gets old:)

Print this out and pop into a frame:

Un-Grinching myself by hanging this on my door:

I was whinging & moaning to Beck that I was the Grinch because my Christmas decorations are in storage FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW BAH HUMBUG!  I adore Christmas and love all my quirky, imperfect, hand-made by the kids ornaments that get hung on our tree.  Our tree usually looks like an elf threw up on it and I love it that way.  I feel like a part of me is missing.  Shallow but true. {If I were a bigger person, here's where I would impart that God is reinforcing the real reason for the season in my life and teaching me the error of my wicked worldly ways.}

Anyhoo, Beck, being the superior friend that she is surprised me with this wreath in the mail two days ago.  This is a 4D wreath.  It looks beautiful and that would be enough, but every time we open the door it gently, melodically jingles as though there are reindeer landing softly on the roof.  I love it with a passion.

Then, and ONLY then will I be ready to:

make a list,
check it twice,
try to ignore who's been naughty more than thrice:)

Hey, BT DUBS {teenage speak for "by the way", my peeps} Here's my new Christmas mug!

I love it!  It cost me $1 at the Salvation Army shop.  Love the Salvo's.
The exercise book is my ticket to sanity these upcoming holidays.
I'll share more in a later post.
As you can see, I went all Griswold with the design.  

and if all else fails:

Put up more fairy lights.

Love you more than my new Christmas mug,

Meredy xo

Monday, November 18, 2013

my {real} christmas letter

I had a thought to do a Christmas letter this year.  I've always been faintly disturbed by Christmas letters.  It's so hard to strike the right note.  Sometimes you get those ones which sound like this: 

"Junior was elected to the Utmost Supreme Leader of the Entire School Community and continues to be a beacon of virtue for his peers.  Although, the poor love has such a dilemma for next year...will he study Medicine or Law?  Our round-the-world trip following his finals was lovely, if exhausting - let's face it, there's only so much comfort that First Class can provide and my Jimmy Choo's were not made for walking! Happily our new home was complete upon our return.  Phew!  We were so afraid the installation of the bathroom marble was going to be delayed.  Apparently there were some visa issues with the Spanish marble carvers who were flown in to do the  hand detailing.  Oh well, every day brings its own little challenges I suppose.   In the end though, these things only make us stronger. "

This is what ours would sound like:

Hi Everyone!

Yes, we're still here.  It's been 14 months since we moved in with Mum in anticipation of the new extension.  God bless her - she swears she doesn't mind what we've done to her cream, pure wool carpet.  She says she has a Shannon Lush book about stains which will no doubt do the trick.  Although we do have doubts about the blueberry smoothie stain in the middle of the living room floor.  Who knew that blueberries turned black?  

The kids have had a great year at school!  They've set new Personal Bests which is SUCH an answer to prayer. As a result, this year they've each managed to keep their detention quota down to single figures.  Not collectively, of course. Individually though, we're giving them each a high five!

In community news, our local village pharmacy which was in danger of going out of business has been saved. Hallelujah! They credit our family's recurrent bouts of lice, bronchitis and four members of our family having epilepsy as the turning point.  Happy days!  Nice to know that our small cloud of challenges has provided some silver lining in the local community. They say they couldn't have staved off bankruptcy without us...which is ironic due to our own financial position following all our pharmaceutical costs. However, 'tis blessed to be a blessing.  

Mum's golden retriever Ben is still going strong - only 12 years young!  He is such a beautiful dog and he loves nothing more than to sit right behind us any time we stand still. It's how he shows his love and affection.  This might sound dangerous - but actually, now that we've all sprained our ankles and learned the hard lesson, we've become quite fit and agile in jumping around him. Even when holding a frying pan full of dinner! Good times. There's a lovely hurdling athletics competition nearby and we think we might as well join in as a family for some bonding time.  If it wasn't for his arthritic legs, I'm sure Ben would love to join in, although his incurable diarrhea makes it difficult to take him out in public.  We never know when it's going to strike!  Keeps us on our toes {and knees!} on Mum's cream carpet I can tell you. LOL!!

Speaking of family bonding time...who knew that 9 people and one bathroom would provide such opportunity for learning?  It's been a handy science exercise for the kids in time and motion.  We now have our daily ablutions down to a fine art with the girls keeping a particularly close eye on proceedings.    The teenagers in the family will no doubt be employed by U.N. Peacekeepers to sort out the Israel/Palestine crisis.  Their ideas of territorial ownership would, I'm sure wear down any opposition.  The younger boys have also learned how to multi-task.  Why use precious time to have a bath and go to the toilet separately when you can actually stand in the bath and aim for the toilet at the same time!This bathroom just works on so many levels.  What a family improver!

The excavations on the extension get underway in two weeks.  It was meant to be sooner, but with all this rain we've been praying for FINALLY  arriving, there are some delays.  Our lovely builder has warned us that perhaps a two week start date is optimistic.  Optimistic!  Tell me about it!  It seems our prayers for rain are working so optimistically that this summer is going to be the wettest in decades!  Praise the Lord!

Anyway, hope you've all had a lovely 2013.  Please don't write and tell me about it.

Meredy xo

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

our kitchen plans

My how I've agonised over this room!
It is where we will cook, hang out, do homework, welcome friends, come together at the beginning and end of each day.
Lunches will be made, schedules will be adjusted, birthdays will be celebrated, tears and laughter will be shed.
This room will be the launch pad for the entire family.

So, no pressure to get it right then......ha!

Is there such a thing as "industrial vintage Hampton's"?
I think that's the style of architecture and design I've decided will work best for our family.

A little bit of the aspirational {Hampton's} 
Within our budget, the Hampton's motif is limited to a colour palate and soft furnishings:)

........mixed with a healthy dose of reality 
{vintage industrial}
- in our case, read vintage industrial as being distressed, secondhand and stain-proof.

I'm planning on Tolix chairs for the dining room table.
Probably these ones:

This is the blueprint our "great room":

I'm currently designing our kitchen with Ikea.   So far it looks like this:

The rear wall is 6 metres wide and the island bench is 4 metres.
The tap will be centred also.  It would drive me nuts being off-centre.

I'm splurging on a few items - a 90cm freestanding oven, a double butler's sink and two dishwashers.
Two dishwashers will change our lives.  Ikea have relatively inexpensive ones that can be integrated.  That makes me happy:)

The splashback will be similar to this:

I know grey grout polarises people, but I'm trying to be realistic.  There is no way on God's green earth that I will remember/notice/be bothered to scrub white grout clean every time I cook.  I also happen to love the look of it.

Loving these lights also:

I just can't figure out whether to put the multi-bulb one over the dining room table or the kitchen island.
The island is four metres long, so I might be better to put three lanterns, equally spaced.
An island that long will tend to dwarf one lamp, even if it is rectangular.

I'm trying to bring some black into the room as the roof, rafters, cabinetry and walls will be white.  As lovely as polished nickel lights would look, I'm worried it will look too fancy-schmancy for our style of living and messing.  I like something a little more accessible.

What do you think?

The benchtops we've chosen are....laminex {gasp!!}  I know!  Quelle horreur!  I am deliberately choosing a man-made material on my benchtops because look......

It's laminate!

I know!  It's Wilsonart Carrera Marble Laminex - $99/sq metre.  I've found a place in Sydney which will give me lovely 40mm square edges, no join seam at the edges.  I think they heat wrap it and give it a square edge so it looks like the real thing. You can also lay it on the matte side, not the shiny side so it looks like honed marble and doesn't show scratches so easily.  Guess what happens if you drop vinegar on it?  Nothing.  If it does leave a mark, you can just Gumption it out.  This is going to work well for us.

This is how I can justify a second dishwasher and a butler's sink.

The ceiling of the room will look like this:

This is the rear of the house, with glass doors running all down the side:

So there you go and there you have it.

Our foundations go down in a couple of weeks.  Lots of excavating, mud and messy driveways coming up and I can't wait!

Love you more than my bedazzled gumboots,

Meredy xo


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