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7 Things You Must Do After Embarkation

Cruising out of Sydney HarbourOr How to Relax on a Cruise By Not Relaxing in Port

So, My Gorgeous Wayfarers, you’ve packed your carry-on with everything you might need for your first day on board in case your bag takes a few hours longer than expected to make it to your cabin; you’ve booked a car to pick you up upon your return and you’ve run the gauntlet of customs and check in?  Ready to hit the buffet and the pool?  Hold up, it’s not time to take it too easy just yet.  To make the rest of your holiday run as smoothly as possible now is the time to get sorted and get settled.

7 things you must do after embarkation

Unpack.

Sure it is tempting to get out there and explore every inch of your glistening home away from home, but you don’t want to be rummaging around in your suitcase looking for crumpled clothes to change into for dinner after you’ve begun to properly unwind.  Your in-cabin television is bound to have a music channel for you to put on and bop to while you make your temporary home comfortable.

Book for dinner

Or change any unsatisfactory dinner arrangements.  Need an earlier sitting so you can catch the show each night or you’ve stumbled upon people you know and would like to all sit together? If you’re planning to eat in the restaurant each night rather than the buffet, head there now before the rush to make sure you get the exact arrangements you want.

Make sure everyone knows where things are and what food is included.
Once you’re on board and you’ve found your room, it is time for a little light recon.  Hum your own Mission Impossible theme music if you wish while you seek out buffets and locate the spa.  If this is your first time on the ship do a little online research before you leave and write down what is included.  It may save you a nasty surprise on your bill.

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Outback Etiquette

Or Does Anyone Know if I Should Order Dinner for My Children from the Seat of an Outback Toilet?

I’m sitting here watching a series on Netflix called Very British Problems.  The episode in question is discussing how to deal with other human beings; such as what is and isn’t acceptable and how discomfiting any interaction with other members of the human race is.  Thankfully, I was born in Australia.  And thanks to my adoption, all of this social awkwardness has not been passed down to me through my British genes.  However, thanks to a sterling anxiety disorder, I  do harbor enough of this Very British Problem that anything outside of the social norm is a veritable nightmare for me.

But seriously, these droll, British comedians would have a stroke trying to navigate the minefield of Outback social… niceties. Outback Queensland is a unique place. 

Struggling to zip up the stubbie cooler around the bottle, she turned to me “we should all be this tight” and wandered away.  Leaving me to stand there, gobsmacked and wondering if a 60-odd year old woman had just made a vagina joke to me.

The answer is a resounding yes.  Yes, she did.

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How to Have a Present Free Christmas and Spend Less on Christmas Day

Or ‘The Spawning of a new Christmas Myth and the Death of Tradition’

Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year. I love everything about it. The lights, the decorations and, most importantly, the surprises. I love shopping for people and planning menus. There isn’t anything I don’t like about it.

Okay, that is not technically true. There are several things I don’t like. I am not fond of having the same conversation every year with my hubby.

“What do you want for Christmas, My Love?”
“Sleep”
“Besides sleep, what do you want for Christmas?”
“Nothing”

Seriously, you could use that conversation as a fixed point in time. No passage through the Space-Time Vortex can change this one moment in our year.

And I don’t love haemorrhaging money. How expensive has Christmas become? The pressure the media put on us to give more and be perfect examples of domestic goddesses at this time of year is becoming unfathomable. Stores start advertising Christmas earlier and earlier, trying to get us to part with more and more money. And I cannot say I am immune. I love to give gifts. Watching people’s faces light up when opening something I have meticulously chosen because I think they will love it is a wonderful feeling.

The Death of Tradition

Fair warning here, if you are looking for Christmas ideas that involve a traditional roast lunch with brussels sprouts followed by getting drunk and starting a family argument, you’re not going to find it here.

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Mental Health Check List

Self care is such an important factor in our lives. And as parents we often put it on the back burner feeling that it is selfish to care for ourselves when there are things we could be doing for our family.  This is especially true of women in general.  Society has conditioned us to think of others before ourselves.  But that is a whole other conversation and a feminist pinterest hole I often get lost down in the darkest hours of the night.

Aaand back to my original point – self care is important and it is not selfish.  In fact, if we care for ourselves properly we are in better shape to look after others.  Nobody ever says “Why are you changing the oil in your car?  Its purpose is to just be taking you where you need to go.”  We all know that without fuel and maintenance the car is going to be less fuel effective over time and eventually break down.  People aren’t cars (even though I’m pretty sure I could add a plethora of automotive based innuendos right here) but the point still stands.  All people, adults and children alike need to be looked after properly to function at their fullest capacity.

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Recover your Barstools and Revamp your Space

Refresh, restore, renew.

Today’s project is brought to you by the prefix re-.  As in refresh, restore and renew an item instead of buying new.  In part because I love to get hands on with my home renovation projects.  And also because I am flat broke having found myself retrenched.  Yes, you heard correctly. I am (unfortunately) currently between jobs.  But as they say, every cloud has two birds in the bush and you can’t put a pig in a wet sack. Or something like that.  I seem to remember more silver linings and maybe something about another door opening in the original proverb.

But I digress, as is my way.  I have always wanted to work for myself, and while I know it will take quite some time to be in a position to support myself with the Blogging and Virtual Assistant business I have decided to move forward with, I am positive and looking forward to this new adventure.  Plus, this new change of direction will give me time to get stuck in to all the half finished jobs around the house (that don’t require me to spend a cent because I already planned for them ages ago).

And there are sooo many half finished jobs that I am spoilt for choice.

When my lovely in-laws heard that I was looking at setting up my own business while also looking for paid employment, they donated the two wrought iron stools they had laying around in the shed to the cause.

I knew they had the potential to be an absolutely perfect addition to my breakfast bar (the chairs that is, not my in-laws) and the ideal place to put my tuchus as I sent out job applications and worked on my business.  A little worn, a little rusty and a little weary, but brimming with potential (seriously, the metaphor for my life just writes itself).  So I promptly left all the unfinished renovations unfinished, and set to work on this newly presented project.

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There’s always a bright side. Even if that bright side is that you only lost a finger.

Lessons come from the most unlikely places.  Like from children and applesauce. And crack.  Sometimes from manky, infected toes and bubblewrap, but that’s another story altogether.  Today’s lesson is courtesy of applesauce and crack and I don’t really know how I feel about it all.

Ash, eating applesauce straight from the jar. “It’s Apples Mum.  It must be healthy.”
Me, trying good parenting. “Yeah.  But how much sugar is in it?”
“Only 12%.”
“12% of that jar was sugar. That’s not healthy.”
“Look on the bright side.  It isn’t 50%.”
“That’s like saying to someone who just lost a finger.  ‘Look on the bright side, it wasn’t half an arm.’ It isn’t helpful.  They still lost a finger.”
“Well I’d rather lose a finger than an arm.  I don’t think you’re getting it Mum. There’s always a bright side.”

Ten minutes later…

Me, trying some more parenting “…I’m glad you asked. The inserts for the cup holders are on the sink because *someone* <eyeballs Ash> left iceblock wrappers in there and they got sticky.”
“Look on the bright side, Mum.  At least I’m not a crack addict”.

Today applesauce and crack have taught us valuable lessons.  I’m pretty sure the lesson is that if you’re a total smartarse, try not to raise your children to be just like you.

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WHY DO PEOPLE KEEP TRUSTING ME TO DO THINGS? IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!

So here’s the thing.  People keep putting me in charge of stuff and I can’t work out why.  No, really.  Managers are supposed to be fully functioning adults and if we have learned anything on this blog, we know I am not a fully functioning anything.

I used to be Assistant Manager at a refuge for homeless youth.  I’m pretty sure I can’t be allowed to raise other people’s children, this is how my own son’s twisted little mind works:

Me: (writing notes on a client for staff meeting): “hmmm social networks…”
Son: “tumblr, twitter, facebook..”
Me: “No dear, my client’s social networks.”
Son: “Just because they’re homeless doesn’t mean they can’t have a tumblr”
Me: “heheh they usually have a facebook”
Son (horrified at himself) …….. “ahhhahahahahahahahahah….ohhhhhh….”
Me: “Oh god, what?”
Son: “If they have a facebook at least the homeless have one wall”
Me: “…..
……..
….you’re going to hell.  You know that right?”

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Perhaps I am the Prime Minister of Australia. Only Time Will Tell.

I’ve decided I’m a genius.  No reason other than the fact that geniuses… geni-i… people who possess the smarts are often unappreciated in their life time.  And I am unappreciated.  Ergo I must be a genius.  Flawless logic really when you think about it.

Artists are the same.  So I’m probably an artist too.

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Roll Up Beach Bed Tutorial

Life takes us on many unexpected journeys,  and this craft project was the beginning of our 2015 holiday that did not exactly work out the way we had hoped. Or happen at all that year in fact.  However, as with many disasters faced with a positive attitude and a healthy dose of irreverence, in the end it worked out better.  While it took us an extra twelve months to get there, in which we had a 7 month wait for permission from Minister’s delegate to get passports for our girls, we managed to amend our holiday to take in New Zealand, New Caledonia and Vanuatu so it wasn’t so beach oriented for the girls.  In all honesty, this is a post I started writing about 18 months ago, however after our holiday fell through, I put it aside for a little while.  But here we are, so let’s have a wander down my crafty memory lane together.

Create a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Sewing Tutorial.

So there I was planning a superb family holiday to the South Pacific, fourteen glorious nights cruising around three gorgeous countries – Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu.  Sun, sand and snorkelling, who could ask for more?  I could almost feel the sun on my back and the waves gently rocking me as I snorkelled through the reefs.  The only drawback was that, in the words of my youngest daughter, “I’d like the beach if it wasn’t for the sand and the waves.” Also, there is no wifi on Mystery Island, which is a problem if you are a fan-fiction addicted 14-year-old who secretly dreams of being a superhero.

I shouldn't need to be sewing to make this place enjoyable for my nerdlingsNow obviously I wanted my girls to enjoy our tropical holiday as much as the snorkelling aficionados in the family.  And since I was unable to convince them that swimming with turtles and all manner of brightly coloured fish is the most amazing experience to have when on tiny islands in the South Pacific, I found a crafty, lazy compromise.  The amazing Stella at The Golden Adventures of a Very Dark Horse came up with the solution; I’ve just tweaked it to fit with my family’s love of fantasy and things that deviate from the traditional norm. (And also because I’m essentially a 7-year-old in a grownup’s body and I like to DO IT MYSELF! *stamps foot in a petulant and precocious manner*).

Seeing Stella’s idea on Pinterest made me think about how I could make the girls’ island adventure relaxing and fun in their own way.  We’d planned horse riding in rainforests and abseiling down waterfalls to cater to their uniqueness, but I wanted them to enjoy their beach time as well, even though they don’t like to swim at the beach.

So with tutorial chosen, I was off to Spotlight to find some suitable material that wasn’t all ‘beachy’, ‘girly’, or ‘old lady’.  I chose a cotton fabric with a Wonder Woman print for Miss Ash, one of the only DC characters allowed in our house without a heartfelt discussion on why Marvel is better than DC and serious debate over whether Batman is a Super Hero or not.  (For the record, my vote is cast for Ninja with Gadgets in the Batman debate.  He’s not a superhero.)  And then off to the nearest department store for two bath sheets in matching colours, I went with a dark grey to satisfy the curled-up-in-her-room-not-being-social-and-reading-by-the-glow-of-the-tablet vibe she had going on at the time.

I’d like to point out that this is an excellent craft to use up bits of leftover fabric and upcycle old towels. I used new because I was trying to make a brand new gift for them rather than indulge my inner hippie.

Create a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Sewing Tutorial.

With two beach sheets, some hobby fill, a metre of Wonder Woman fabric and matching thread in hand, I was ready to begin the day’s crafty adventure.

Create a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Sewing Tutorial.

The first step was to decide how big I wanted the pillow part of the bed to be.  Keeping in mind that the finished product will wrap around this, making the finished size of the bag slightly larger than the size of the pillow.

Create a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Sewing Tutorial.

I cut the first towel into four pieces as shown above.  The large piece on the right is for the pillow.  I made mine the width of the towel x 33 cm.  The two skinny pieces in the middle are for the handles and once again they are the width of the towel x 15 cm.   The last piece is leftovers, don’t throw it away though, I have a way to use it up at the end.  I hate wasting crafty goodies.  And Tim Tams. Never waste a Tim Tam.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

Next I put the pillow part together by folding it almost in half, leaving about 5cm of the raw edge exposed (this ‘flap’ is where the other towel will be attached to the pillow).  I sewed the open ends together and raw edge down, leaving a gap along the raw edge to push the stuffing into.  (Don’t worry about the exposed raw edge as it will be hidden by the other towel very shortly).

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

I sewed the gap closed and then pinned the second towel over the exposed raw edge to hide it and create the rest of the bed  part of the beach bed.  To make sure it was strong and the stitching reinforced for lots of lazing, I sewed it in three separate places as marked above.  Sewing along the side of the pillow was awkward; somewhat like trying to drive a car with a Pillow Pet under each arm.  My best advice is to take it slow, pull it through straight, use LOTS of pins and remember that the towelling is quite thick, you’ll want a sturdy needle on the machine unless you want to break a few.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

I rolled up the beach bed with the right side on the inside of the roll, set it aside for the moment and got the Wonder Woman fabric out.  I cut two strips that were 6.5 cm wide…well, in reality I made two small cuts in the fabric 6.5 cm apart and ripped the fabric down to the end.  This makes a much straighter line than I could ever cut freehand, is quick, and oddly satisfying.  But if you want to cut it like a grown up with scissors and the like, go right ahead.  I folded the edges of the strips 1cm in on either side and pressed them.  If you want ties that aren’t as wide as mine, turn the edges in further or make your strips slimmer. I wanted the strips wide enough that I would be able to reinforce the stitching as they will be holding the whole project shut while there is a fair amount of weight in the side pockets.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

Fold the strips in half longways so the pressed edges meet and press them again.  There is an inordinate amount of pressing at this stage of the game. You may as well leave the iron plugged in for the time being.  Run a seam down the open side close to the edge. At one end of each of the ties, fold over twice to hide the raw edge, press and sew to keep it in place.  At the opposite end, fold 1 cm over and press down.  This is the end that you will attach to the towelling.

Grab the rolled up beach bed that you had put aside and place the ties evenly along the opening.

crossPin and sew the ties in place.  I wanted these stitches to hold with the weight of books and sun block pulling at them, so I sewed the ties on with a cross pattern for extra strength, like sew (like so… I slay me):

Incidentally, the answer to your unasked question is yes.  Three of the ties will be on the edge of the foot of the bed and three of them will be in the middle of the back of the bed.  This is why we rolled it up with the right side facing in.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Wonder Woman CraftTutorial.

Next, it was time to put the pockets on the side.  The size of the pockets you create will be dictated by the size of the stuff your little nerdling wants to carry to the beach. The best way to create the pockets is to measure the nerd crap your non-snorkelling, geekling wants to bring to make the outdoors feel more like indoors and custom-create the pockets.  For the ones I did, I made sure that there were pockets and sleeves the right size for books, headphones, sunblock, a Nintendo DS and sunglasses.  They will also be dependent on the size of the towel you started out with.

For the long pocket, I cut (and by cut, you know I mean ripped) a length of fabric that was 66 cm by 21 cm.  Then it was back to the iron to press the edges over by 1cm.  Along one of the long edges (the one that is now the top of the pocket) fold it over again and press so this edge does not have a visible raw edge on the back. Run a line of stitching along this top edge to keep it in place.

Grab your rolled up beach bed and position the long pocket underneath the ties as shown in the picture.  Make sure it is parallel to the foot of the bed so things aren’t inclined to fall out of wonky pockets as it is being carried.

Sew the pocket in place then, measure the items most likely to be carried in the pockets and sew dividers along the pocket as illustrated by the dotted lines above.  I do not suggest leaving it as one long pocket as it will sag in the middle and things will fall straight out.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Wonder Woman CraftTutorial.

Flip the bed over and create pockets on the other side.  Mine were cut at 33 cm x 21 cm and were created with the exact same process as above.  Create as many small pockets or another large one if you wish.  If Donna’s first meeting with the Doctor has taught me anything, it is that pockets are always handy.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Wonder Woman CraftTutorial.

The only thing left to do to finish off the beach bed is to make the handles using the two 15 cm wide pieces of toweling you cut in the beginning.  Fold each one in half and sew down the raw edges.  Turn right side out.  Using your patterned fabric, create sleeves for the ends of the handles.  Cut 4 pieces 10 cm x 21 cm.  Fold 1cm down on each end, wrong sides of the fabric together and press.  Flip it over and fold in half, right sides together. Press.  Run a 1 cm seam down each side and clip the corners.  Turn right side out and slide them on to the handles like end caps.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Wonder Woman CraftTutorial.

Unroll the bed and place the first handle on the foot of the bed near the ties, top of the patterned sleeve flush with the edge of the towel.  The width of your towel will determine how far in from the edge the handles are placed. Mine were 14 cm in from the edge.  Pin in place.  Place the second handle the same distance in from the edge as the first.  Pin in place.  Using the same cross pattern as above, sew the handles one.  Roll the bed back up and pin the other end of the handles in between the ties on the other side of the opening.  Sew using the cross pattern.

Clip all the loose threads.  Sit back with a self-satisfied smug look of self-congratulatory contentment.

Oh, remember that piece of leftover towelling that you kept aside for the end?  It is perfect for cleaning off sandy feet before sitting on your newly created beach bed.  Use some leftover patterned fabric to cover the raw edge of the towelling then fold it up and place it in one of the handy dandy pockets of your beach bed.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive CraftTutorial.

Sew a Roll Up Beach Bed. Comprehensive Wonder Woman CraftTutorial.

Wonder Woman Beach Bed Craft Tutorial.

 

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