This is us taking a walk after breakfast at a cafe last weekend. The weather was glorious. We talked – interesting conversation about our faith. We laughed – grateful that we lived in an awesome city. We sat in silence – listening to the sound of the seas. We were just two. contented. people. And it hit me that this was probably us feeling the most relaxed in months.
(Photo taken at Belmont Park Racecourse)
It is autumn now. Gone are the warm summer nights and hello to snuggly socks evenings. This time of the year is always ‘iffy’ – wet and cold days interspersed with the occasional summery ones. In a way, I think that is how this month had been for us. There were good and challenging times. Times when we basked in the presence of each other and times when we could feel the unspoken ‘wall’ between us. Thankfully, the wall never stayed up for long. Life still IS. beautiful.
Last weekend was our first ever church camp – two nights away in a rustic bushland with 130 people. Being one of the 2 key organizers, it was pretty awesome to see how we could pull off something like that in under two months. Thankfully, years of serving in church retreat committees came in handy.
Some favourite memories I took away from were:
1. The smell of crispy cold air in the morning;
2. Going for a mini bush walk with 5 talkative girls and seeing kids having a wild time roughing it out; childhood memories should be made of these;3. Eating toasted marshmallows straight out of the campfire.
On a personal note, the two things God began speaking to me last week (see previous post) was reiterated through the camp speaker’s messages: the importance of a disciplined life and being still before God today, not yesterday, not tomorrow.
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Last weekend was one of mixed feelings. The natural disaster that hit Japan on Friday and the news update we have been following over the internet and TV, for a while, it was almost hard to reconcile what’s happening in one part of the world and the normalcy of life we are living here.
I think it is easy to get philosophical about life when unexpected crises happens; the unpredictability and meaning of life. But this time, I chose to LIVE life rather than ‘philosophize’ about it – with a sense of gratitude.
And so in the midst of our weekend activities, I found myself grateful for:
* colleagues-turned-good friends so work is actually enjoyable;
* good health so I could be swimming thrice weekly;
* girlfriends to share a meal and laughter with;
* neighbours whom we now consider each other ‘family’;
* youths and young adults from church to share our lives with;
* church that we could play an active role in – our next project is planning for a church retreat happening in May;
* creativity all around when we visited ‘Sculpture by the Sea‘ at Cottesloe Beach;
* the amazing sunset we saw at the beach – something I will never get enough of;
* you – I will never get tired of saying ‘I love you’ everyday and mean it; and
* GOD – thank You for the gift of life; I pray I will not squander it away.
For our 10th anniversary, CS had wanted to buy me what I’d been eying on since I started seriously baking last year – Kitchenaid Mixer. I’d found that out only because he didn’t want to spend a bomb and buy me one in a colour I didn’t like so he decided to let me know earlier. To his surprise, I suggested why don’t we go camping to celebrate it.
Frankly, that camping suggestion was inspired by what Donald Miller wrote in his book, ‘A thousand miles in a thousand years’:
“A good movie has memorable scenes, and so does a good life.”
What he said really resonated with me. Not wanting to sound unappreciative, but if you asked me what CS had bought me in all our years together, I’d fail the test miserably. Life, as I’ve slowly come to realize, is not about the things we owned or bought or were given. It is about memories and shared moments.
So I am glad we went camping to celebrate our 10th anniversary because that will be remembered in many years to come. But just for the records, here’s our ‘memorable scenes’ from the trip:
* 1st meal @campsite: Mee pok dry with mum’s chilli and vinegar, along with a sunny-side up;
* Awesome seafood platter lunch on anniversary, with a panoramic view as backdrop;
* Received excellent service from an Indonesian lady at a local supermaket while buying cheeses and olives;
* Champagne, olives, cheeses, roasted almonds and biscuits for dinner;
* Brekkie @Bay Merchant cafe;
* Sunday market @ Albany Boatshed, buying live yabbies for dinner;
* Taking afternoon naps in the tent;
* Watching dvds with wifey in the tent.
* Waking up to the sound of raindrops and rustling of the kangaroos while sleeping at night;
* Singing together to the music from our IPOD while driving;
* Lazy afternoons – watching movies and having a picnic just outside our tent;
* Climbing Mt. Clarence to the ANZAC war memorial in Albany – I thought the weather that day was befitting the occasion – overcast skies with drizzling rain;
* Looking out of the restaurant where we had our anniversary lunch – literally, it was a ‘top of the world’ moment;
* The conversation with the owner of Oranje Tractor vineyard and learning more about their story – I find that smaller vineyards are often better this way because they are more personable;
* All the meals we cooked at our campsite;
* Setting up camp and giving it as much a ‘homely’ feel as possible.
Inspired by what Tara Whitney had done over there at her blog, I am adopting this year-long project over at our blog too.
This is us. After a whole day of seeking refuge in our air-conditioned house, away from the blistering summer heat, we took advantage of the cool evening breeze and attended ‘Picnic Jazz in the Park’ near home.
The sun was setting. A sultry jazz singer was singing to a string quartet. Families, couples and friends were having a good time. Too bad we didn’t manage to stay very long for the concert as it started drizzling soon after we arrived.
Still, we enjoyed ourselves. I suppose life is not just having someone to weather the storms and trials together but also, having someone to share little moments with – a sunset, a picnic, a knowing gaze.
Sunday started with us hitting the pool by 7am for a swim. I am learning how to swim from a generous colleague (former swimming coach) who’s volunteered her time to teach me. It really is different having a professional coach who’s able to show me and pinpoint exactly what I am doing wrong and how can I be doing better. I think I am going to enjoy swimming!
After the swim, we headed home to have breakfast with the neighbour at the farmers market near our place before going to church. This is where I usually try and do my weekly veggies and fruit shopping. I like the fact that I am supporting local farmers directly instead of buying my produce from large impersonal supermarkets.
In the evening, I headed out for a farewell drinks with a mature-aged student at Uni who’s since became a dear friend. He’s returning to Melbourne after graduating. This makes him the third person I’ve known this month who is leaving for Melbourne. Sad, but I am glad that the next time we go visit Melbourne, there are more people to catch up with!
You know the weekend is off to a good start when it begins with a breakfast on the bed…After a night out with the neighbours at an Indian restaurant and bowling afterwards on Friday, I decided to have a lie-in on Saturday morning. So CS decided to surprise me with a breakfast in bed – we had toasted crispy croissants with butter and homemade apricot jam accompanied with a hot cup of tea. And here’s hat we got up to over the weekend:
- Breakfast in bed
- CS watched a DVD while I made some cards and wrapped some more Christmas presents
- Went shopping for more last minute presents and hunk finally managed to get replacement blades for his helicopter (yes, he’s got one of those remote controlled helicopter which was broken when he took it out to play at his birthday party)
- Visited aunt and uncle
- Went over to Ivana’s to feed the dogs cos she’s away
- Spent the night watching the movie ‘Salt’ starring Angelina Jolie (not her best movie I think)
- Met Gillian for coffee at the farmers’ market before church
- Christmas service in church
- Lunch with some young adults at The Left Bank
- Home – CS watched ‘Prince of Persia’ with a young adult who came home with us and I pottered around the house and caught a short nap!
- Down to South Beach for Young Adults – had a great time and I learnt to kayak on my own for the first time, had a barbeque, watched some spectacular sunset. Then I saw this new restaurant, Pickled Fig right by the beach which I will definitely return to check it out over a sunset dinner probably.
- Home sweet home – in bed by 10pm totally exhausted!
One of the best things about summer is having friends over and enjoying a meal over the the barbie. Yesterday, we had 2 couples who were foodies like us over for dinner. And here’s what we had:
For starter, Gillian/Ciaran made an Asian-style salad which was all crunchiness and refreshing to taste. And look at the colours!
As for us, we bought some gourmet sausages (think spinach-ricotta-chicken, hot-and-spicy, Moroccan lamb) from the butcher and also experimented with new recipes. The prawns were marinated with olive oil, lemon grass, garlic, chilli, salt and pepper.
Then our piece-de-resistance – field mushrooms with mascarpone and crumbled blue cheese topped with basil. It’s nothing to look at honestly but it was everyone’s favourite!
For dessert, Nico/Zoe brought a summer fruit salad served with raspberry coulis which was the perfect dessert given the heavy meal we had.
After that, it was some mucking around with the kids. Or rather, Kezia playing with CS. Right from the start since we knew Kezia, this little guy has always had a soft spot with CS and would often initiate play with him. There is something magical about CS I must say, ‘cos I ended up marrying him!
And then the kids couldn’t wait to find their presents underneath the tree…and of course, they got what they wanted!
What wasn’t captured in the pictures was the after-dinner part. Gillian and Ciaran stayed on to play mahjong with us – something we had been doing with them. Last night, however, we learnt a new style of mahjong which was pretty competitive because of the scoring system! And I won 6 out of all 6 rounds! Now if only real money was at stake….
P/s: I still haven’t been able to capture a nice picture of our Christmas tree for this year. Am going to keep trying till I snapped a favourite so stay tuned…