Sunday, December 25, 2011

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas...

Wherever you are...I hope you've had, have, or a having a lovely, lovely Christmas.

Got the message?

op-shopped dress, vintage jacket, retro Chrissy sign

Don't forget my Christmas give-away. It's a goodie. Just click here to check it out.

Catch you on the flip-side xxx

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Little Gratitude and a Give-Away

One of the first things we teach our kids is how to say please and thank you. Mumma, Dadda, and ta were the first words my girls learnt to say. This post is all about showing a little gratitude and saying thank you, I think it's especially important to be thankful at this time of the year, don't you? 

So without any further adieu, here are some things I'm thankful for at the moment:

I'm thankful for having a family to spend Christmas day with, Anthony is away working and it would be rather lonely with just me and the be honest we'd probably be eating sandwiches for lunch if it was up to me!

My family...there was one more sister to come a few years later...

I'm thankful for receiving gorgeous presents from far-flung lands and lovely bloggy friends...

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I received a parcel from Liz yesterday. I knew Liz was sending me this gorgeous apron

 A cross stitched boxing kangaroo and a map of Australia!
Apron perfection!

but look at all the other wonderful treasures I found inside her parcel...

* the most gorgeous calendar

* 150th anniversary of W.A. souvenir tablecloth in pristine condition

* one of Liz's famous hand-made tea cosy's. So thick and, well...cosy. Guaranteed to keep your pot warm and in one of my all-time favourite colour combos. 
Liz makes them to order btw. You should see her liquorice allsorts cosy! Gorgeous. Click here  for more info.

* a funny Scottish t.towel (I always wondered what mingin meant Liz!)

* the little book is an old grade one school reading book issued by the N.S.W. Education Department. It's a perfect example of how greatly the standards and expectations of children at this age has changed over the years (and not in a good way!) Have a look...

 I wonder how this little Australian reader ended up in a charity shop in Scotland...

Lovely Max, dolls house maker extrordinaire (and all round nice girl) sent me a package of loveliness too

that groovy looking retro fabric you can see at the back is a peg bag...hands down, the nicest I've ever seen.

Please spare a thought for Max and her family. Poor old Christchurch has been battered by earthquakes again and more are expected. Some Christmas! Max was in the garden with her little daughter during the first one, she describes it like this:

"surreal. with the ground waving up and down like someone shaking out a sheet. And so long I thought it would never stop. I had to hold a tree so as not to fall"

What can I say?

I am so thankful that I have not had to endure a natural disaster like the people of Christchurch. I hope they are spared further quakes. Stay safe Max and co. Stay safe Kiwis.

To top it off, this time a little closer to home, I also received this

gorgeous vintage chenille sun-dress from lovely Tam who read I was on the hunt for one and kindly sent it over, just like that! Lucky girl, aren't I. 

No pics of me in it because it's a smidge on the short side, and my legs (and my ego!) are not up to public scrutiny. Perfect for popping on over my bathers though. 


I'm also grateful to be Adelaide and Annabel's Mum. They are healthy, bright and gorgeous and I love them even though their bedrooms are always messy and they drive me crazy when they fight.

Christmas 2009...I've always loved this pic

and I still need to remind them to say please and thank you btw.


Now, the give-away (you deserve one for getting this far!) To thank you for reading Lucy Vi during the year, and to wish you a Merry Christmas I am giving away a 2012 Frankie diary...

I picked up the little nativity from Vinnies a couple of days ago...couldn't resist it because it is made in Bethlehem!

All you need to do is comment. Open to anyone, anywhere. No need to be a follower, but I'd be particularly chuffed if one of my lovely followers was the lucky winner.

I don't know about you, but in my neck of the woods these things are as scarce as hen's teeth! So get commenting!

I'll use random generator to choose a winner, lets say on the 7th of Jan, that should give you plenty of time...

Please note: I've changed my mind regarding the cut-off date for this little give-away. After all, what good's a diary if you can't start writing in it in the beginning of the year! The winner will now be chosen on the 1st of Jan. I hope that's ok, it just makes more sense to me doing it then x


p.s. still looking for a new home for this 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Tree Stripped Bare

Here is our Christmas tree.

The tree that Anth and Annabel made...mostly Annabel, with just a little help from her Dad.

To call it simple would be an understatement.

That's what we're doing this year, keeping it simple.

Some of you will hate it...that's not a Christmas tree" you'll say, "that thing's ugly!" You might even use a swear word or two to describe it!

Some of you will think..."hmmmm, it's ok, but I wouldn't have a tree like that in my house..."

And then. There may be a few of you like me, who love it.

And love it I do.

we may nev
er buy another c
hristmas tree again!

it was difficult to get a good pic, it's much nicer in the flesh...and it was tricky to decorate too...

especially when we have lots of gorgeous vintage decorations like these

$2.50 from Vinnies! (want me to repeat that?)


and these

In the end I decided less was more. The little baubles are vintage glass ones made in Japan, the sweet hand-made birdy is from Megan as part of Micaela's ornament swap, the pasta angel which you can just make out on the left, is from lovely Lakota and Mary's there too, because after all, it wouldn't be Christmas without her, would it!

Please find time to read this poem. I have loved it for many years...I'm sure you will too.

little tree by e e cummings

Little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the puffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
there won't be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands
 and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"


 Isn't it lovely...I first read it in an English Lit class when I was sixteen, and it still makes me tear up...and smile, at the same time.

Feel free to let me know if you think our tree is a bit on the quirky side and you hate it

most especially, if you like it.

pssst wanna make your own Charlie Brown tree? click here  to find out how...

I'm all treed out....maybe next year...


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Real Meaning of Christmas


Caring is Sharing

(don't you just love this illustration, it's from My Way To God, a text book used in Catholic primary schools in the 60's and 70's. It is also the book the Nun's taught from when I was in primary school...ah memories. I spotted it in the op-shop where I volunteer and at twenty cents I had to buy it.)

Today Anthony and I dropped off a Christmas hamper we'd made up, to our local Salvation Army Headquarters. It broke my heart while I was waiting for the receptionist to tell us where to drop it many people waiting for help. Desperation and hopelessness etched on their faces (I know that's a dramatic way to put it, but honestly, that's really how they appeared to me)

I felt like a bit of an interloper actually...almost guilty, because I was in the position of donating stuff while the other people in the waiting room were clearly there for help.

It was very confronting, because although we always donate something at Christmas time, we usually do it in a less direct way, like donating a present to the K-Mart Wishing Tree etc. It has made Anth and I think about how very lucky we are. Anthony said to me afterwards that he'd rather do this than receive a Christmas present (which is good because I haven't got him one yet (Ha!) and he goes away work fyi, he's not going on a holiday without us or anything...although at times I'm sure he'd like to!)

I don't want to bug you or come off all hollier-than-thou (because I'm definetely NOT that!) but if you haven't done something like this yet and can afford to, please consider it. It's not too late. And you don't have to spend alot of money either. Your donation will be welcomed with open arms and I guarantee you will feel all warm and fuzzy inside just like Anthony and I did.

Now I will climb down from my pulpit. Thanks for reading.

our funny little Nativity


Sunday, December 18, 2011

This post is bought to you by everyones favourite reindeer...


How awesome is this vintage Rudolph kiddie ride?

More info and pics here


I found this vintage tray at the tip shop last year

I'll own up now to drawing on Rudolph's nose with a permanent marker...that lead reindeer was crying out for a little dab of red don't you think?

I'm pretty sure these trays were made in Hong Kong (Father Christmas certainly has a touch of the Orient about him) Souvenir trays like this are a dime a dozen, I've seen loads of them around the traps, all with aqua backgrounds, but I've never seen a Christmassy one before, have you? 

In our family we don't give serious presents (read expensive) to the grown-ups. For example, this year I am giving my brother a vintage pottery Coopers beer stein (op-shopped) and a six pack of Coopers...not a bad present for a bloke, but after seeing this on Aesthetic Outburst I'm inspired to break out the glue gun and make it waaay more special...

a six pack of Rudolphs!

don't you just love this?
so clever, so easy, so cute!
I know my brother will.

And here's another Rudolph-inspired idea you might like to try

it's Adelaide and a Rudolph cup cake. I made these a couple of years ago and they were a big hit, especially with the kiddos. Self explanatory, so I won't go into details except to say I always use this recipe and that his antlers are made using pieces of Curly Wurly.

Adelaide is our very own Rudolph at the moment - she had sinus surgery on Friday and let's just say her nose would give Rudolph a run for his money!
I shouldn't joke, she's had a horrible couple of days and been very brave, poor kiddo.


And now to end here's Dino Martini

and a very cute vintage stop motion animation (even older than me!) to boot.

As much as I love Dean's version it's missing the funny bits I loved as a kid, you know: "like a light bulb" "like Monopoly" etc etc. I thought I was hilarious when I sang those bits in my loudest voice...I was a big dag, still am probably...

told you (that's me, the smug kid on the right)


Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer was written by Robert L. May and first appeared in print in 1939, the song was adapted by his brother-in-law, Johnny Marks in 1949


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I found this letter to Santa when I was rummaging through the Christmas decorations (funny how my girls call him Santa when we have only ever referred to him as Father Christmas...a bit like aitch which they also insist on pronouncing as haitch no matter how many times we correct them...anyway that's another story...)

by Annabel, aged four and a half

Guess what? Santa forgot a couple of things, namely the "miny aple ipode" and pink "tellephone". He came good on the bike, not sure if it was as cool as Brielle's though...

Annabel is fourteen now. (Sadly) she no longer writes to Santa, she writes a Christmas List. Two lists actually... a draft, followed by a reality check and then a real one. This year she wants a trampoline. Yep. We were surprised too, but honestly, what parent of a fourteen year old girl wouldn't be happy with this request!
I'll say no more...cough-cough.

While I'm taking you on a trip down memory lane, here's another pic of me and Father Christmas, I'm about eighteen months old...

fat as butter and still looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Don't you think he's a lovely looking Father C? and his "grotto" looks interesting's the Santa cave! (the F.C. cave didn't sound right)

 (No prizes for guessing where Annabel's curls come from)


Another quick give-away to end...
Almost identical to this one which I posted off to Sherry yesterday...same coasters, different city.

Just send me a comment if you'd like them, and they're yours. First in, first served.

Remember you don't have to live in Melbourne...they just might be the perfect stocking stuffer for a friend or rellie who does... 

p.s. In the background you can see our el rustico Christmas tree for this year. Freshly made this morning by Annabel and her Dad. Not decorated yet, I'll show you pics when it is.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Putting up the @$*)%#(%! Christmas tree

At the risk of sounding like the Grinch of Christmas trees, I have to admit, I hate putting up ours. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that:

a) I'm a Virgo
b) I'm a perfectionist
c) I'm anal about decoration distribution

At our house I am known as the Christmas tree Nazi, and although I'm not proud of this title, there's no denying it...I am not cool or laid back when it comes to decorating our tree. 

our tree 2009

I know this is silly, I know I'm a control freak and I know I'm stifling my childrens creativity etc etc. Even though our funny little shop house is currently a l-o-n-g way from perfect I'm afraid I can't chill out and live with a wonky tree (and this coming from someone who loves wonky?)

It's traditional, at our house to put up the tree twelve days before Christmas (none of this 1st of December business here!) A convenient tradition for someone like me, wouldn't you agree...

Anyway, today, after much nagging from the girlies, I ventured into the depths of our shed to hunt down our tree and decs (we've got some lovely vintage ones I've collected over the years) and guess what? I was granted a reprieve because our white Christmas tree has turned yellow. And you know now, don't you, there's no way that thing's getting decorated!

Now I'm on the hunt for a new tree. I really like these:

But these much as I admire their makers creativity, leave me cold. I do not get them, do you?

Would I be a complete failure if I gave in and decorated one of Anthony's ladders?

Save up those empties!

What the?

(all images via)

I'm not sure what we'll end up with, but I do know it will not involve empty stubbies, ladders or tripods...

And just to prove I'm not a complete and utter stone cold b****, and that I do let my girls make a mess (sometimes) here's a pic of the gingerbread men people Annabel made yesterday

it's only the tree I'm (really) psyco about


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Just a few little things I'd like to share with you...

" bring me sunflowers crazed with the love of life "

Eugenio Montale

three sunflowers in a vase

Vincent Van Gough August 1888
(image via)

One of the blogs I really like to read is Tanya's Suburban Jubilee. Tanya lives in Tasmania and writes about living a slower more meaningful lifestyle. The way we live couldn't be more different - Tanya makes her own shampoo, I buy mine from the hairdresser's but even so, I find her thoughts and tips on living more sustainably, interesting and inspiring...maybe one day we'll have a bigger vegie patch and grow more than just basil and tomatoes...

A while ago Tanya told the story of Ed, a young man who sadly took his own life, and of his family's committment to help people understand and cope with depression. You can read (and I hope you will) the whole story here.

Ed's Mum grew a field of sunflowers spelling out the words love, live, enjoy as a tribute to her son and as a way to draw attention to suicide and depression. She sells seeds from these special sunflowers to raise money for The Nettlefold Foundation and this is where Tanya comes in...

If you buy a packet of Ed's sunflower seeds from Tanya before the end of the year, she will post them anywhere in the world for free. 

I received mine yesterday. At only three dollars a packet, I think they'd make a lovely little Chrissy gift for the gardeners in your life or you could plant some with your kiddos and watch them grow together...


Tanya also makes (from scratch! herself!) the loveliest gardeners soap...each cake in it's own little hand-made jute bag, perfect for tying under your tap and cleaning those grubby garden hands with...

a clean bathroom, and you wont break the bank either...
these little rustic lovelies are only five bucks each!

Contact Tanya here


Lastly, a quick spur-of-the-moment give-away...
open to everyone, but probably most appealing to the Crow Eaters out there...

retro coasters

A Starlight Product
Melbourne Australia

Let me know if you'd like them and they're yours.

p.s. I'm happy to post them anywhere, not just to S.A.

p.p.s. A Crow Eater is an Aussie nick-name for a South Australian, we West Australian's are known as Sandgropers...more on that another time.



Newsflash: the kitschy Adelaide coasters have a new home. Yay! Sherry from Hello Vintage, an Adelaide girl through and through, has nabbed them.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nana Ryan's Christmas Cake

Mary Elizabeth Ryan is my Dad's Mum, this is her recipe. She gave it to my Mum when she was an inexperienced newly-wed (she also told my Mum that my Dad was used to having his undies ironed! it was years before my poor Mum learnt that this was a fib!) Please don't let her little nasty streak stop you from trying this cake though. It is absolutely delicious. Very moist and easy. Your whole house will smell like Christmas while it's baking. That's a promise.

Here she is with my Pop at my Mum and Dad's wedding reception in 1961

Nana Ryan's Christmas cake has been part of my Christmasses since I was a baby, but this year is the first time I've made my own. I was strangely a little bit nervous about the end result (I didn't want to let the team down) but to my relief (and delight!) it turned out perfectly. This may have had something to do with the fact that I baked it in the very same Eve Ware cake tin my Nan used (and my Mum after her) Incredibly this tin has been used by women in my family for more than one hundered years! Pretty special eh?

My first Christmas - I was 3 months old
(Father Christmas looks like he was made for the job!
I don't look to keen on him either!)

Anyway, although Lucy Violet has never been a cooking blog I really wanted to share Nana Ryan's recipe with you just in case you'd like to try it...

This post is also a tribute to Nana and to my lovely, lovely Dad who died when he was only forty six. I thought of him alot while I was cooking it. He was a great Dad and I miss him.

Here's what you need:

p.s. feel free to scroll down if you're not interested.
p.p.s I'm sure my Mum has tweeked this over the years...

1kg dried mixed fruit
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup of brandy or whiskey

I used brandy in memory of a brief but full-on flirtation with Brandy Alexanders when I was younger.
Please note, you will, and should use waaaay more alcohol than this. Half-a-cup is merely your starting point!)

1 green apple, peeled and grated
50g slithered almonds
1/2 cup glace cherries
250g unsalted softened butter
1t of finely grated orange rind
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1t baking soda
1/2t ground nutmeg
1t cinnamon
1/4 cup of extra brandy or whiskey
but remember my earlier note on this!
Extra glace cherries and blanched almonds to decorate the top of your cake if you want to

And here's what you need to do:

1. Place dried fruit in a non-metal bowl. Douse liberally
   with brandy. Stir and cover tightly with cling film.
   Stand for several days, each day add a good glug of
   brandy, stir and cover tightly again.
   I do this for a week, I think you should too.

2. A week has passed. Stir in grated apple and slithered

3. Beat butter, orange rind and sugar until thick and 
   creamy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until just 

4. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and 
   spices. Fold into creamed butter mixture alternatively 
   with your lovely brandy soaked fruit, until well 
   My Mum's tip is to use clean hands for this, but I 
   managed with a spatula.

5. Spoon into a deep 22cm cake tin which has been lined 
   with three sheets of baking paper. Base and sides. This
   is very important. The baking paper should sit 3cm 
   above the rim of the cake tin.

6. Make the top of your cake pretty with blanched almonds
   and glace cherries, this is what I did...

7. Cover the top of your cake with a piece of baking
   paper, it won't actually touch the cake, it should
   sit on top of the paper you have lined the sides of the
   tin with.
   Bake in a preheated 140 degrees celcius oven for 3 -
   3 1/2 hours. Check with a skewer. It should come out 
   as clean as a whistle.
   Breathe in those delicious smells that are about to
   fill your kitchen.
   My Mum never cooks hers for longer than 3 hours and I
   found mine was ready then too. I suppose it depends
   on your oven...
   And here it is, just out of the oven

8. Remove cake from oven. Sprinkle with brandy while 
   it's hot and wrap tightly in a clean tea towel. 
   Leave in tin to cool.
   When cake has cooled down, remove it from tin but don't
   remove baking paper, especially from base - this helps
   to keep it moist (and a moist Christmas cake is a 
   must!) Wrap in foil and store in an airtight container.
   From now until Christmas, feel free to "paint" your 
   cake with brandy or just dribble it on top like me...
   it will get better and better as time goes by (and as
   brandy gets added!)

Serve in small slices, it's very rich

Hope this post wasn't too boring...
let me know if you give it a go x