Thursday, November 7, 2013

Simple Gifts

Sometimes, I have one of those days. You know, a frazzled, frustrated, tired day. A day when it occurs to me that I'm not losing my baby weight fast enough, when my face breaks out, when I can't seem to put on an outfit that looks even halfway decent, a day where it seems like I just can't manage to do all the chores I need to, when the baby's diaper leaks onto three (or more) different outfits, and she won't stop crying, a day when I can't even find the energy to be sweet and loving to my husband. This past week I've had not just one of those days, but several, and today was shaping up to be another one.

This afternoon changed that, at least for a little while. I headed to the library, not because I really wanted to (I actually thought is was kind of a hassle), but just because I'd been meaning to go and I knew I'd regret not going when I didn't have a book to read tonight. I trudged there, thinking I'd just run in, grab a couple of books, and get home as quickly as possible. Instead, I fell down the rabbit hole of browsing bookshelves, a pleasure I haven't had for a while, since when we lived in Birmingham I rarely went to the library, due to its inconvenient location. But today, I wandered the shelves, picking up books at random that caught my eye, filling my bag with all sorts of interesting-looking titles. For a book lover, there's nothing like being among them, discovering new ones, and marveling at the sheer vastness of topics to learn about and stories to experience. When I left the library, I was in a much better mood, and as I enjoyed my walk in the cool spring drizzle down lovely Rathdowne Street, I began to remember all the other things in my life that make the frustrating days worthwhile.

I live abroad (a longtime dream of mine) in a city that seems to get more interesting by the day, in a neighborhood that I simply adore. There are days here in our little part of Carlton North that I feel like this place must have been designed from my ideas of a perfect place to live. Beautiful, historic buildings everywhere you turn, all the things we could ever need within easy walking distance, flowers and trees and adorable cafes...I could go on and on. I live in a charming, historic little terrace with a garden overflowing with flowers and herbs, and a kind and loving husband who goes out of his way to be kind to me even when I'm not that way to him, and a beautiful baby daughter who smiles at me more every day. Actually, when I thought about it, I realized that, at the age of 24, I've been blessed to have basically everything I ever dreamed about come true. I don't know why God has chosen to give someone as imperfect as me all these beautiful blessings, but I am so grateful to Him for it.

When I got home this afternoon, I turned on an album of instrumental hymns I discovered on Spotify a couple of weeks ago, thinking their simple melodies would suit the soothing sound of the rain outside. The first song that played was "Simple Gifts" and its lyrics suit my thoughts this afternoon perfectly.

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

So today I'm thankful for all the simple gifts in my life. I am so blessed and so happy, and I'm glad this afternoon reminded me of that.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Home Improvements

Well, we are officially in the waiting period for Baby Shank...technically it could be any time now! I must say, it's very hard to wait patiently...I'm very ready to have this whole labor thing over with and meet our baby! Also, due to being a bit uncomfortable (and to knowing I could go into labor at pretty much any time), I've stopped running errands and stuff on my own without Daniel, and I've been trying to not get too far from home, so I spend a lot of my time at today writing a blog post sounded like a good idea to fill some time! :)

Of course, I don't stay at home ALL the time...Daniel makes sure I get outside to walk some every day, and we're still trying out all the yummy places to eat that we have near us. This morning we went back to the French bakery that's down the road from us to try their quiche for was excellent! And yesterday, since Daniel was working from home, we took a nice break to walk a couple of streets over for a yummy bakery treat, intending to try a different French bakery that is over that way. But when we passed the Italian bakery we'd been to a couple of weeks ago that we loved, we were too tempted by their scrumptious looking chocolate pastries in the window and ended up stopping there instead. We brought them home and had pastries and coffee in our garden :)

Seriously, who could resist these? (The round one on the left is a rum ball...the other I didn't catch the name of, but it was a lovely moist chocolate cake covered in rich chocolate frosting)

Anyway, in other news, we've been making some improvements around the terrace since the last time I posted.

Like curtains! We love these purple ones in our main room.
And green ones in the kitchen
And we've added to our plant collection a bit more, and also started to repot some of the plants we've gotten.

I love our violas in these hanging planters we've hung at the front of the house.
More violas in our bedroom windowsill

Some of our other plants awaiting repotting

Main room and kitchen windowsill

The back area of the garden...we do intend to get actual nice looking furniture back here at some point, but for now these three pieces we've found around the neighborhood for free are serving us all right :)

Our little cyclamen is doing well :)

And perhaps most importantly in house improvements, we've finally gotten the nursery mostly finished!

The wardrobe

We're going to put pictures in the frame from the newborn session we'll be doing once baby is here.

The fireplace...the chair is just a stand in until we find a chair we really like for this space.

Yay for pennants! :)

All the little friends waiting for baby!

Changing table...see all the diapers ready and waiting? :)

The crib (in the center of the room as you enter). The big green thing to the left is our pram.

The decorations above the floral animal art, and a beautiful dress made for baby by Mrs. Eva Hargett. I couldn't stand to put it away because it was too pretty. so I'm glad we found a way to display it.

Our pram...some of our sweet friends at church had a neighbor looking for someone to give this too, so they got it for us. It's a real European pram, made in Sweden. We're looking forward to going for neighborhood strolls with it!
So there's a bit of what we've been up to lately...hopefully our next post will be introducing you to Shankhall Terrace's newest little addition!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Shanks of Shankhall Terrace

So finally, as promised, here's a tour of our terrace! (Oh, and about the name in the title...lots of the terraces in Melbourne have names written on them from when they were built. Ours didn't, but we thought it'd be fun to name it, and the only thing we seem to be able to come up with is Shankhall Terrace it is!) :D 

Also, these photos were taken at different times, not all at once, so there are some slight variations in placements of things if they got moved between the time we took one photo and the time of another.
Our house is the one in the middle, behind the silver car

Our front door and porch area

Our front gate
Coming in the front door

The main hallway
If you take your first left after coming in the front door, you're in the nursery, which is still very much a work in progress. For example, we are hoping to find a chair to put where the bassinet is now, and the room needs some more decor. But it's functional now, which is good!
Fireplace in the nursery
Changing table beside the fireplace
Wardrobe across from the crib (We have no built in closets, so we had to find wardrobes to keep our stuff in)
If you leave the nursery and take your next left in the hallway, you'll be in our bedroom. This is our chest of drawers, to the right of the bedroom door as you enter.
Our bed
Our bed and the wardrobe beside it
The ceiling light in our bedroom
Our bedroom window looks out on the garden.
If you leave the bedroom and go to the end of the hall, you are in our main room.
Our chairs
The heater and mantel
The built in bookcase next to the mantel
Our really large bookcase, across from the mantel. You can also see the side door to the garden. The tables folded up next to the door are our all purpose tables...we use them to eat on or work on our laptops while we are in our chairs, because we don't have any space to put a dining table anywhere in the house.
Go through the main room and you come to the kitchen
Kitchen window (with plants in the sill...Daniel decided to keep them there until I find a pot to repot them all in)
Door between the kitchen and laundry room
Laundry room...right now we don't have a washer, so we just keep miscellaneous things in here, like my black shopping trolley I use when I go grocery shopping. We aren't sure yet if we are buying a washer or not, since there is a laundromat that is a 2 minute walk from the house. If we don't buy a washer, we might put something in here so we could have a little coffee/tea prep area and clear some space in the kitchen.
Right off the laundry room is the bathroom
There was no mirror in here, so we had to get adhesive mirrors from IKEA to put up, hence the unconventional line pattern. Also, the plants are no longer in the windowsill, they were just inside to try to revive them (which Daniel was very successful with, you'll see how nice they look in the garden pictures now)
So the bathroom is the last room in the house...if you go back to the main room and out the side door, this is our garden. (Those plants hanging on the fence are the dead looking ones in the bathroom photo)
The back of the garden, behind the house
Hmm...wonder what's in the little garden shed?
An old toilet! This was quite a surprise to find when we moved in...just one more quirk of living in an old house!
The back of the house
Our back garden gate
The alley behind our garden that the back gate leads to
So, there's our house! It's still a work in progress, but we're proud of how nice it looks now, and we finally have most of the things that make living in a place comfortable!