Friday, January 21, 2011

Did you miss me? I have...

Feels like forever since I blogged and it's only been three days... 
Much to my surprise - I've actually missed it.
Wednesday I was completely bed bound after I didn't react too nicely to the new medications that the doctor gave me for my sinus infection and vertigo. Which meant Thursday I had to work insanely hard to get my orders ready for delivery this morning.
As I packed party bag after party bag into the wee hours... my mind was was all about this blog. I've surprised myself how much I've enjoyed pouring thoughts and memories onto cyber paper. I've also enjoyed getting to know you all much better through your own rants and tweets.
But that leads me to what do I write about tonight? Now that the work week is over and now that my head doesn't feel like it's been clamped in a vice. I've blanked....
This week my spirits have been very low, not only was my illness dragging me down but self doubt in my abilities in my gifts & talents. I've been feeling a bit drowned by life and circumstances of late and everything has been spirally downwards. I sat here in front of the computer asking myself what you would want to read about? Start a sentence... stop, erase.... start a sentence... stop... erase. But then I realized it's not about what you want to read that's important right now (no offense), it's what I need to hear about myself-from myself that I need to write. 
I need no-ones validation but my own. But why is it that I am the last person to give it? I used to have such confidence in everything I did, when did I start questioning myself - where did that vibrant 20 year old go?

Memo to self:
I am talented. I am contributing to life. I am worth every minute. I am unique. I am beautiful. I am needed. I am loved.
I am me and no one is better at being that than me.

Empowered? Ummm... don't know, feels a little Oprah momenty. But honestly does feel good to say it out loud. It's a start.
I started thinking alot about what I've accomplished this past year, when asked to blog about my photography. I know I've overdone it- multi-tasking my arse off - Hopefully I learn from my mistakes, and find the right point to say no. But flicking back through my photoshoots, reminiscing I am now understanding that I also need to look into the past and find greatness there to encourage me to keep moving forwards. 
So tonight I've looked back at many facets of my life, and I am finding my pride in the process.
I've shared 50 facts about me before, but tonight I thought I'd share just 8 things I love doing. Hoping to not come across to self-indulgent... this is me:
Business Owner
Events Designer/Coordinator
Graphic Designer
Fashion Designer
Amateur Cake Decorator
And most importantly (which is why I left it till last) Being Mum to my Gorgeous Brood and partner to my gorgeous man!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Old Dog Same Tricks Tour

It's been 24 days, 7 hours and 51 mins since my last party...
What do I do when someone I love turn the big FOUR-O? - - throw a party of course. 
This would have to be the best excuse under the sun to do so. But I throw parties all the time, so I had to make  this one extra special. The invite went out a year in advance, to allow all those that wanted to make it have enough time to save up.
Catch was, we weren't going to tell anyone where they were staying, just the country. 22 adults with 18 kids all took a leap of faith and signed up for the week adventure. I spent months fielding questions that they thought would somehow hint the location - no one was successful.
A few days leading up to the event, I sent a series of cryptic Gossip Girl style texts reminding each family what they had to bring Seen...One Cromie child Stuffing a black mask in a suitcase. Will other children follow suit, will parents remember? Will this be a case of Super Hero or Super Zero? Only time will tell... XOXO GG (I did originally name myself MG- Mother Goose, but got renamed somewhere along the way)
On their day of departure from respective countries I texted each person as they checked in to the airport with the villa name for immigration purposes. Only one family jumped straight on their iPad and googled, which I found to be quite impressive.
Everyone was met at the airport and transported about 40 mins away to the gorgeous Villa Pantai Lima. We had hired out all 5 villas so had the entire beachfront to ourselves. 
On arrival everyone was issued a booklet and an 'old dog same tricks tour' t-shirt (women had sleeveless). All personalized with glow in the dark names, including ones for the littlens.(Although some wore them often throughout the week, they were to be worn on the actual celebration night)
The Booklet contained fun facts about Bali, inter room phone list for all guests, relaxed itinerary, and emergency numbers. Guests were allowed to do as much or as little of Bali as they liked, scheduled only really to meet together for dinner. Kids earlier in one of the villas, then once they were tucked up and in the watchful care of the sitters, the adults gathered together for their dinners. We rotated through the villas and whomever's villa was hosting the meal for the night, they had to choose the menu. It was all really casual as it was more about having a relaxing time.
For the first night, as food is ordered from the chef's 24 hrs in advance, and as guests were still arriving we had organized the dinner in our villa. Towards the end, I excused myself upstairs to our bathroom returning with tragic news that our Aloe Vera After Sun gel had exploded in our suitcase all over D's clothes. Bringing the evidence with me. There were gasps from the room and D looked gutted... I could see his mind ticking over that this was not a great start to the week. I then whipped out a Cafe Press Bag full of t-shirts that I had ordered on the sly. I bought a different t-shirt for every day of the holiday, all with some sort of 40th slogan on them (even including a golf shirt for the day he was to play golf) so matter where he was everyone would know how old he was. With a belly laugh he plowed through the t-shirts trying to choose which one to put on immediately. (funnily enough, I had planned on hiding the t-shirts and say I forgotten them, but the aloe vera really did explode and only on his shirts - the truth was so much better in the end!)
New and Improved 40yr old - please note the 39yr old model has been discontinued
Vintage 1970 - aged to perfection
It took me 40 years to look this good
©1970 -unauthorized use of me is prohibited
Awesome at 40
This is how good 40 looks
The next day was spent in one of the 13 pools/spas around the estate, kids digging their toes into the very cool Black volcanic sand, shopping, drinking eating more drinking.... you get my drift.
The main event, was Sunday 10.10.10, which was also our 9th Wedding anniversary. I had organized a golf trip for anyone who wanted to go... perfect opportunity for me to finish little bits that I needed to do before that evening. As D with a whole group of people headed off to play golf at Nirwana Golf Resort, I got stuck into the cake and finishing the presentation for that evening. I wasn't sure what I was going to be able to find in Bali, so I brought the ingredients and tools with me for the cake. I decided to buy packets of Betty Crocker Devil's Food Cake to make it easier (and it's sooo yummy anyways!!!) Then I had to bring tools, tin, icing ingredients and fondant etc. The chefs of our villa hovered as I baked. They had never seen a packet cake mix before and were very curious. I HATE people watching me cook, so tried not to get unravelled as the peanut gallery grew. Finally as I buttered and floured my tin- French executive Head chef for the whole estate, Sebastien Robuchon, walks in. Now I'm just embarrassed, he picks up the cake boxes smiles and says in the sexy french accent- You use dis? I too use dis somtimes.... tis dilish! mwaww! smacking his lips together. I laugh as he exits and then there is a made scramble for the boxes from the staff who want to read the instructions. Cakes in the oven I head off to finish the video that will replace speeches for the night. As alot of friends and family could not make it to Bali, I thought I would try and bring them to D. I wanted something commical but touching at the same time, so I asked those that could to answer the following questions on camera and send me the evidence. I also had all the guests that were there do it too (some wearing his 40 t-shirts whilst they filmed weeks before the party) I then spliced everyone together alternating between photo slideshows and video footage. Every question came up on screen, then followed everyone's answer to that particular question. Nine Questions in total
ie.. If Drew was a Rockstar, who would he be (and why) If Drew was an appliance what would he be?
On the day of the party, I still had to splice in the Aussie crew who's footage came up with D's brother (are you seeing a pattern in my party planning... nothing like the last minute!!!) I managed to splice & dice, check and burn the movie without burning the cake. Cake was easy as I had designed the graphics on top a while before and had them printed onto edible icing sheets. I printed four just incase something happened to one on the plan or in the humidity or something disastarous, turns out I only need one. Once the cake was cool, it was easy to sculpt cover and finish and ended in applause from the staff who had nothing better to do as everyone was playing golf.
Then we waited...and waited. Golf took longer than expected, so we fed the kids, by which time the crowd had returned. All dressed in Black (except D) we moved into the theatre room of Villa Mary were treated to some D faced M&M's (A friend that had them made and flown in from the states especially for the movie.) Loads of laughing, we still managed to bring him to tears - it was a marathon show at just under an hour, but the songs split into it with the photos had the kids dancing all over the place. Everyone had a ball and on a nice sugar high
We walked down the beach where we were greeted by the fire dances. After a spectacular show filled with firewalking/breathing etc. We headed up to the next villa where the table was set for the grownups and the cake was waiting to be consumed by the eager littlens.
As kids were ushered to babysitters and best wishes to them for the amount of chocolate they had consumed. We reconvened back at the table where everyone found their own wine goblet. It's a running joke, that you come to our house, you get a Cromie Pour. It's a large wine glass, filled at least half way. (I have a feeling the producers from Cougar Town may have stolen our Cromie Pour) So I had large glasses engraved for everyone and carefully carried them across the ocean without a single breakage! From that night on, they were used for all drinks. The glasses were supposed to be taken home, and those from Oz and HK did actually take theirs with them.... but the rest decided that as they frequent our house so much, it was only fitting that the glasses live with us and be used when necessary. And used often they have been - best wine charms ever!
As the night went on... I think the memories get a little fuzzy for everyone- but I do know that D had an amazing night. 
All But five of the Kids perching on the edge of the infinity pool at our villa
The rest of the week was filled with laughter, lots of water, lots of sunshine. One further thing that we did is we asked all the kids to bring a costume, didn't matter what it was. On the second last day, we rallied all the kids together, locked them in the theatre room with some of the babysitters and our friend's two 18yr old daughters and they came up with a play based around all the characters. After a couple of hours perfecting their craft, we were treated to theatre brilliance. They did an amazing job with everything from Brides to Darth Vada to wizards and flamenco dancers.

The party to end all parties... well for a couple of weeks at least. We arrived back in Singas, refreshed & exhausted & in need of a major detox.


(As usual - To comment, please click on the left hand link to this post.
Currently my blog does not allow you to comment directly from the front page, previous posts are ok, just not the current one. Not sure what the issue is, but until I figure it out- I would still love to hear from you! You will be able to comment using the left hand link of the current posting ... what a pain, am so sorry!)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Strathmerton Standard goes International

The postal arrival in our house is always flagged with a lot of noise. 
Starting with the two tassie tigers barking ferociously with great enthusiasm, then child after child after child after child squealing in delight, a honk of the horn ...Thank you, seriously, I couldn't hear the dogs or the kids, so glad you alerted me to your arrival... followed by the putt putt of the postie-moped as he tots off back down the driveway.
I don't quite understand the excitement as I'm usually the recipient of the contents of the mailbox, and honestly I could go without seeing the electricity bill, the phone bill, tv license renewal, car rego renewal, insurance, the bank balance etc. etc etc. My reaction is more a roll of the eyes & a 'who do we owe what to now?'  
I do recall, when I was a child, some kinda of mysterious excitement about the treasures I imagined those envelopes contained. Would there be a letter from a far away land? A long lost friend that was looking for you? Perhaps even an inheritance from a distant relative, that I was the only heir to (even though I had two parents, three siblings, aunts, uncles and 22 cousins) 
Where has my imagination gone? I pondered as I watched the kidlets tear up the driveway to bring me what I'm sure was a tax bill from the government. 
When will they get it that the mail is never for them?
Bizarrely enough just as the words formed themselves inside that thought bubble popping out of my head, there was squealing - - 'It's for me! It's for me!' (visualize little girl skipping down the driveway) 
Sure enough, S clutched her treasure close to her chest, it was gold - well ok, it was encased by a large yellow envelope. With great care (?!?) it was ripped open to reveal a long letter from her Gran Jude & a surprise copy of the Strathmerton Standard
Gran Jude & Pordie (aka Jude & Ron - My outlaws) live in a little town on the border of NSW & Victoria. If you are ever planning on a road trip, this place is a must stop and visit. A little country town brimming with life. A place where the local still has it's meat tray raffle once a week and $10 dinner deals and parma nights (I've eaten there and must say...not half bad) Lots of farms close by to visit and purchase wares from Alpacca jumpers to handmade Jam. 
But the must stops to end all must stops (could it be a new Tina Turner song?) at Ruby's Rose (& I'm not biased here at all) a quaint shop on the main street, you will find the best coffee either side of the border and some amazing must haves in the antiques / old wares displayed throughout the shop - I want to buy everything when we stop in. Jude & Ron will gladly sit on the front porch with you and talk you through the highlights of Strathy and it's surrounds over a cuppa, you may even get some small town goss. You'll probably meet some of the locals too as they are not shy to meet any passing through.
Ontop of running the shop, Jude also publishes the Strathmerton Standard. The local publication that boasts a print run of 820 fortnightly. I don't know how she does it, it's about 20 pages long full of photos and stories, film reviews, School News, Sporting News, Birth/Wedding/Obituries, Past reflections of Strathy with really interesting historical reads, advertisements and the list goes on. She's even started a Facebook page for the publication! And I thought they moved there to semi-retire! (sadly I've just had word, the day after posting this blog, that Ruby's Rose is no longer :-( You can still drive by the building and wish you had known it when it was full of glorious treasures. Jude & Ron still live there so give them a holler from me.)
So... back to today. The Christmas/New Year edition arrived in Singapore! The kidlets were thrilled as it was brimming with pictures of Christmas, country town Aussie style and the schools end of year activities. Z was stoked as Santa is his new favourite person in the world (apart from Mum & Dad of course) J read it, S read it three times and L chose it as his bedtime story tonight (did I mention it was 20 pages?) 
So thanks Gran Jude & Pordie for the treasure you popped in the mail- we all loved it !

**I will return tomorrow with more confessions of a Partyholic - stay tuned for Old Dog Same Tricks Tour - the story of D's 40th**

(to comment, please click on the left hand link to this post.

Currently my blog does not allow you to comment directly from the front page, previous posts are ok, just not the current one. Not sure what the issue is, but until I figure it out- I would still love to hear from you! You will be able to comment using the left hand link of the current posting ... what a pain, am so sorry!)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Is there a doctor in the house?

... it's been 22days and 15mins since my last party.

#2 Animal Rescue/Veterinary 7th Birthday Party
My kids spend the entire year leading up to their birthdays deciding what type of party they are going to have and what kind of cake they want. They are fully aware that it is an excuse for me to get my party fix, and expect nothing less than a Cromie party. S announced early in the year that she wanted an Animal rescue/vet party for her 7th birthday. Usually ideas change alot throughout the year, so I didn't put much thought into what to do. But as the time grew closer, she was still determined that that's what she wanted.

Her birthday is at the beginning of October, but as this was school holidays and the week that we threw D's 40th in Bali, I postponed it by one month.

This year I have been a bit slack on invitations. Usually I hand-make invites with allot of thought and care, (e.g. for her second birthday, a princess party, everyone was sent a flat invitation with simple instructions that turned into Princess/Prince cone hat with tassels and elastic with one fold, Everyone then wore it to the party - but that's a different party) Not this year, this year was the definitely the year of e-invites all round. I turned to Sendomatic and their barking dog invites to send to the girls. 
With the invites out and 100% attendance expected, I needed to get into the swing of what I was actually going to do. I was a little side-tracked by final plans for D's big day, and time started creeping away.
But the whole party turned into a no-brainer when I typed in Animal Rescue party into google. I was just looking for a couple of suggestions on things to do to create my event, but within two seconds I had stumbled on Jennifer's webpage for her daughter's 8th party**more details at bottom of entry**
Armed with Jennifer's ideas, for the running of the party. I needed a triage unit, I needed stuffed toys, medical supplies & then I decided that the kids really needed scrubs. I was all set to hit Arab Street for fabric, haul out the sewing machine and get sewing on 30 miniature scrubs. It was at this point that a very good friend called from Jakarta. I chatted with her over a glass of wine, telling her all the plans for the party and how little time I had (think there was a week to go at this stage) she listened sympathized supportively as she always does, then expressed regret that she no longer lived in Singapore. 'Hey, Jakarta is only like an hour and half away, jump on a plane, come for the weekend!' After more chatting, Mrs C who is not one to miss a Cromie party, had pretty much booked her ticket.
Later that night, she text me saying that she may have a solution for the scrubs, that one of the workers there knew a tailor that could get them done cheap and fast, plus she and her daughter were heading out in the morning in search of toy medical kits and then to visit the tailor. Gobsmacked I waited for her contact in the morning, where sure enough, she had sorted out the costumes and had picked up some medical kits. Her and daughter Mini C were on a flight later in the week and she would be picking up completed kits on the way to the airport. She is truly an amazing friend I must say!
Day before, saw me cooking cakes and making logos for name badges, signs, and diagnosis charts, and not to forget making drip bags late at night for the triage unit. (I like to leave things till the last minute) With Mrs C Mini C now in town, it was full steam ahead.
Day of the party, I set to decorating the cake (yes I had left it to that day) and Mrs C & Mini C helped with staging the party, including stranding all animals over the property. The day was not void of obstacles as we struggled with making sure the IV stand didn't fall over in the wind, and the shear weight of it as well. Party food had to get underway, Pictures had to be taken, printed and enveloped (printer stuffed up, thought that was going to be it, but came through at the 11th hour and everything printed just in time)... needless to say it was a very busy morning!
On arrival, each girl was ushered outside to the 'Cromie Veterinary Clinic' to receive: 1) Full Scrubs 2) Name Badge 3) Stethoscope 4) Medical supplies 5)Personalized Chart & pen (any siblings that came were given all of the above minus scrubs, as we only had 30 plus Z's mini one) Have to say the scrubs were AMAZING - I was just going to whip some shirts together and do some hats, what Mrs C brought with her were fully finished scrubs, pants, tops with pockets and hats. All completely finished with double stitching and labels.
 Once everyone was changed we issued everyone with an envelope. Each envelope contained two photos. One close up of their dog or cat they had to rescue, and one picture far away, showing where their animal needed rescuing from.
There was then a mad dash through the yard to find their animal and get them as quickly back to triage as they could.
This party then pretty much ran itself, the girls were content to bandage their animals. All taking stats like weight, length etc. Making their own diagnosis and treatment plans. Bandages were wrapped, needles (ok they were toothpicks at the bottom of the IVs) poked in, medicine give and even prescriptions written. We had everything from blind dogs to those with runny poos, broken ribs and broken ears. Their imaginations ran wild, whilst us adults sat back with a glass of vino and dined on some delicious tid-bits. This was a 'drop your daughter and run' kinda party, but as usual 75% of the adults hung around for the duration.
After surgery, girls were split into two groups for pass the parcel - it just would have taken forever with the 34 kids that were there, plus the parcel would have been ginormous! I had planned a couple of little backup games, but by the time Clinic was done, party food and pass the parcel was done, it was time for cake....(have I mentioned that I love making cakes??)
Once our little vets had chopped up the kitty and eaten the mouse, it was home time, all taking their scrubs, newly rescued animals in carry bags, some medical stuff & a Stuffed Parties goody bag with them... well for some anyways. For others who's parents were enjoying the afternoon too much - it was into the pool to cool off.
From reports back, alot of the girls wore their scrubs to bed, and the following day too. Me thinks  it was a success

Inspiration: ** Please visit Jennifer's webpage for her Emily's 8th party. Jennifer is an amazing and wonderful mother who knocks stereotypes of homeschooling out of the park. She is truly an inspiration. (checkout her homeschooling website Toadhaven Homeschool - it is brimming with amazing projects & information)