Thursday, December 30, 2010

A 'Yes' Year!

As I sit at my computer inhaling nail polish fumes (note-to-self, in future that is an outdoors task) I feel like this year has been pretty damn fine. It has been a year of starting tonnes of new things and saying 'yes' to every opportunity I have been offered. I started my PhD, this blog, my first sewing and knitting projects, as well as multiple teaching and research assistant jobs. I moved out with Ian and explored our new suburb (and have since moved again!). I started playing in a band again, swing dancing and riding a bike. It has been crazy busy! And amazing. But busy. So I have dubbed it the year of 'yes'. I said yes to everyone and everything, and felt the results - both good and bad. 

As we sit on the cusp of a new year, with resolutions and grand plans being made left, right and centre, I will make some of my very own. Next year, I intend to have a 'no' year . Or perhaps -  a year of finding balance. I find it really hard to say no to people, but it gets to a point where it is all a bit ridiculous (baking cookies at midnight after finishing work at 10pm and beginning again at 8am. Mad? Me? Never!). 

Next year is the middle year of my PhD. I have some incredible plans for research adventures and writing frenzies: Some serious archival detective work, 6 weeks in London libraries, and perhaps an overseas conference? It is all pretty exciting stuff! I can't wait! So with that... Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hello! And Merry Christmas/Happy holidays! I just got back from a lovely Christmas weekend with Ian's family. I never had Christmas as a child, so it is pretty exciting to be invited in to experience the festive season with Ian's family. It kind of feels like cheating, to get presents when it is not your birthday, but very fun cheating. 

 On Christmas eve we drove up the mountains, into the mist and the freezing cold.

 Then stopped at a picturesque little park for some outfit photos - I wore my 'christmas-wrapping-paper' dress and stole Ian's santa hat for the pictures (and the warmth!).

 I love this little gathered detail at the bust, making it into a sweet-heart neckline. I might have to try making a bodice like this some time.

We arrived to a beautiful tree and tonnes of incredible fruit that Ian's mum picked up on the Great North Road. The house smelt like a mixture of pine, mangos and peaches - yum!
 Christmas day we woke up and assembled for presents! We got Chester a chew toy - Ian helped him unwrap it and the poor darling got all tuckered out chasing it around the house. I recieved a whole bunch of things I have been wanting for a while -books etc - and a lovely scarf that will make an appearance in photos soon,
Then the feast!! Ian's dad barbequed a whole turkey, with a duck stuffing. It was pretty incredible!! 
Some afternoon knitting - and my Christmas outfit. I decided to go all out red and green. You have seen the kilt and silk cravat before here - the shirt is from china town markets aggeess ago.
 When we thought we could eat no more... there was fruit salad that looked like sparkling jewels in the crystal bowls. Then we popper our crackers, donned our hats and played Baldderdash into the night. Such a lovely relaxed Christmas - I hope yours was as well!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Train; the Conference; and the Flood

Last week I set off on the train down to Wagga Wagga to attend my first conference - the annual conference for the Australia & New Zealand History of Education Society (ANZHES). There is something lovely about long train trips - good views, knitting, books. I found an old copy of a UK Vogue at the newsagent at the Station, and read it practically cover to cover. It has some magnificent shoots that I will scan and share later this week.
 Some more picturesque country-side... a cup of train-coffee (delightful in its own icky way), and then...
Floods. I had read the news about flooding in Wagga, but the conference organiser had said it was all ok. I took this to mean the flooding wasn't that serious - WRONG! The trees in the photo above are normally at the edge of the river.
Heaps of poor farmers who has struggled through years of drought are now flooded. We passed so many barns and fields that are ruined.

The area the conference was held in was ok the day we arrived, but a couple of days in, it started to rain again. 
At the top of this photo is the river and the middle where the street signs are is the street outside the hotel. Luckily, it didn't get any deeper than this, and those big brick walls protected us. However, those trees that blew over cut off the power and the last 24 hours of the conference we went with no power. It seems rather fitting for an historical conference to have a dinner lit by candle light, and cooked on gas.

Luckily I gave my paper on the first day, with power and a PowerPoint presentation! I think it went well! I am working on writing it up now.

 The place we stayed is called the Riverine Club. It was the first school house in Wagga, built in 1881. It was later a gentleman's club with accommodation added. The building today is preserved in the state it was in the 1930s. The furniture is all original, the art is original prints and much of the crockery bears the original club insignia. It was pretty stunning to wander around this 19th century building by candle light and imagine what it would have been like a century ago.
 Most of the rooms opened out onto this veranda - with big open windows. When the storm came I was sitting on one of these chairs reading, and suddenly got splashed as the rain poured in.
I adore details like this. It is a vent on the outside of the old court house. How wonderful to take such delight in casting something so decorative? Practical and beautiful. 

Overall the conference went really well. Everyone I met was incredibly warm and generous. There were some really interesting talks- some really fascinating research! I've come back with new ideas and new energy. Now I just need to get writing!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Another Dashing Chap

Albert G J Sykes... featured in the 1899 New South Wales Educational Gazette for winning a handwriting competition. What a charming young man.

And of course the winning sample below. It is a bit hard to imagine doing business like this today!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Neighbour

Meet Josh. (Hi Josh!!) He is the bestest neighbourhood cat I could wish for. He is beautiful and so friendly and pretty cheeky too! I took this photo while we were making dinner. Josh came along to say hello - but was told he wasn't allowed to come inside. So he sat on the mat, looking just a little bit dejected. But then every so often he would creep a sneaky paw over the threshold and flash a cheeky grin when he got caught. What a trickster.

*edit* I just asked Ian to read this and  check my grammar - and he cannot stopped saying "OOOhhhh noooo....hideous ugly creature... hehehe. It appears we may not all agree on just how amazingly awesome Josh is.

I am racing to get my conference paper ready for next week and have had no time (or brain-space) to post. But I have come across some pretty awesome things in the archives this week, so get ready for some rad history posting action.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

A Sunday by the Sea

New Hair!! Last week I got my hair cut a little shorter and dyed it for the first time ever! It is a pretty subtle change, but exciting to try something new!

Yesterday we ventured down to the harbour and clambered onto a ferry with gazillions of other people to get to Manly. I wore a skirt I inherited from my mum. It has a matching top - she used to wear to parties in the 70s. It is a pretty magic shape - and what a print!

I always try to take a parasol when we head out in the sun. My skin was really not made for Sydney and it's evil ozone hole. I burn WITH sun cream. It is horrendous. This parasol is one I brought back from Cambodia a few years ago. It has phoenix(es?) and dragons!

 This is a what I looked like to Caiti through her magical sun glasses. I like it! I can't wait to get a bit more red into my locks.

The ever-photogenic Sophia looking like summer on the ferry. I think this is a ready-made Ad campaign - just need to add a slogan.

We got to Holly's place, lounged in her garden, ate a BBQ lunch and drank fake Coronas. Caiti made the most incredible mini cheese cakes. What could be better than adorable AND delicious?

 Eventually we got back on a ferry...
 And went back to the city. Gosh Sydney - you are pretty stunning. Check out the guy who was next to us on the boat: he is wearing a sailor hat!! Ian was impressed/jealous. It was kind of amazing.
 Obligatory tourist shot.

And Ice cream!! It was such a gorgeous day with wonderful people. Now back to work!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Musical Diversity

I have been playing clarinet since I was a wee little thing. I haven't really played very much in the last few years, until some friends formed the Inner West Community Band this year. It has been great fun - I think I forgot how much I enjoy music. That is a picture of my clarinet - Hermione - say hello!

Last night was our end of year concert 'Musical Diversity'. I tried to record it for you guys, but haven't quite worked out how to upload the files here. In the meantime - have a listen to the soundbites on the website. I play second clarinet with Maddy (when we are not giggling at our mistakes and squeaks) listen hard for us!

 This is my god mother Linda, who also plays clarinet in the band, which is pretty rad. She only picked it up a few years ago and it already a pretty top player.
Apologies for the crappy picture quality. My camera doesn't like night or darkness. We rehearse (and perform) in a converted church (hence the cross). The building itself is pretty amazing. It has the most incredible ornate stone facade. I will have to post some pictures sometime.
That's me in the second row of clarinets - check out the new hair! Proper photos of that coming soon :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Prom Night on Planet Earth

This weekend I put on my party dress for 'Prom Night on Planet Earth'. The party people responsible for this one are known for some pretty amazing themes - Zombies vs Geeks, Nautical Noir, The Pope Party - So I tried to cook up something good.

The dress is an '80s monstrosity I thrifted a year ago for an '80s themed night. It is pretty special! The best thing about it, is the label inside that says "Polyester/Foil: This is a luxury fabric please follow instructions carefully". Oh yes - I love a good luxury foil. The hat was my craft-a-noon project, inspired by a 50s topper and mixed with some alien chic (or so I thought anyway).

All dressed up I was ready for the Prom. Unfortunately my date was afflicted with post-wisdom tooth extraction pain and left me flying solo (poor boy!)
I arrived to a terrace transformed! Pete made the lounge room floor into a school gym and Karl had gone wild with the streamers!
I love how this photo managed to capture Holly's feet... but her body must still be materializing from another planet.

 Amy and Raph beamed in, ready for action.

 Soph and Rob brought sophistication and sparkle. (check out the corsage!!)

 The ever stunning Holly - reminded me of this song - such a glamorous alien.
 Gazillion balloons for prom goodness.
Alex and Haidee looking pretty excited for the big night! (I really wish I had been around to see Alex ride his bike home in this)

And a few more photos of yours truly! It was a night for every space-girl and boy to remember.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday Flowers

 Ian informs me that my last post was  very boring and that I need to put up some pictures. So here we go... pictures!!

Yesterday Ian got his wisdom tooth out in the city. So I met him afterwards and we went on a quest for jelly and custard. We passed the new Westfield shopping centre and noticed a lot of the shops had put up some fancy displays for the opening. How amazing is this floral arch outside the shoe store? Real lilies and dancing lady orchids!

And below - one of the incredible Jacarandas on campus at the moment. Just magical this time of year!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


At the end of October I had grand intentions to spend November in a frenzy of writing productiveness. I signed up with NaNoWriMo, signed up to Andrea's NaNo group and though "this is it... here we go!" My NaNo plans were to write a 6000 word conference paper and put together a 20 minute presentation for the Australia and New Zealand History of Education Society conference I am heading to in early December.

Unfortunately October Bec, forgot that November Bec had not done much to clear her calendar for this joyous month of writing. Oops!

I often forget the importance of preparation. Often it causes the early death of a project. Getting things ready before beginning is essential. When sewing (pre-wash that fabric!) or cooking (have you actually got the ingredients?) you need to be ready. Writing is exactly the same.

I have been reading a lovely little book by Ann Curthoys and Ann McGrath called How to Write History that People want to Read. They have a full chapter devoted to writing habits - and tell us about the different writing habits they have found successful. The thing that is common to them all (and also exemplified by Andrea) is that they find space and time to write. I think I kind of shot myself in the foot before I even got started on my NaNo project, because I didn't make that time, or plan the space that I needed to write.

My progress so far?
Last week was a good writing week - but not on the NaNo project. In preparation for a meeting with my supervisor this week I needed to get a 10,000 word draft of my thesis proposal finished (essentially a big detailed blue-print of the project). Again, October Bec had grand plans that this would be done weeks ago so that I could move on to my Nano project, but there is no denying I am a last-minute maniac, and was writing until the 11th hour to get it done.

This week I have completely fallen off the band wagon. My brain was fried by the mammoth effort last week, PLUS we moved house, PLUS I have 80 essays and 20 exams to mark, PLUS I have 2 days of Research assistant work I owe, PLUS I am working at my switchboard job 3 days this week. No space + no time = no writing.

So... I think I have joined the NaNo-Lame-o group instead and have to modify the plan.

For the next three weeks I will devote one full day a week to writing the conference presentation, and drafting the paper. I will also do a weekly post to update you on my progress and some thoughts on writing. (I already have one in the works about editing, after marking some truly terrible student essays!) If it is fun pictures you are after... fear not! They will plod along as usual.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Goodbye, Farewell

This weekend Ian and I moved house. I can't say I enjoyed a weekend of packing, moving and cleaning, but we were really lucky to have my dad and Ian's folks around to help.It all went surprisingly smoothly. I am determined to keep up the momentum and get our new place organised asap! I will have to give you a sneak peaks as it emerges from the dust and boxes.

I persuaded a very tired Ian to take some photos as we did the final 'clean-for-our-bond' and spent our last moments together in our first apartment. I was not looking particularly glamorous (eek banged-up bruised legs!), but this little romper made me feel like a cross between Pippi Longstockings and a super-hero house mover. It was pretty great.

Goodbye cute art deco details, high ceilings and reading in the sun room, farewell 42a... We will miss you!

romper - from funkomavintage (etsy)
t-shirt - supre
shoes - wittner
head scarf - thrifted
super attractive key-necklace - my keys on a ribbon (born out of the combination of no pockets and a desire not to get locked out while weighed down with boxes.)