Thursday, July 8, 2010

A busy month

What a whirlwind of a trip to the US!  Even now I'm not sure exactly what I did!  It was wonderful to see my family and catch up with everyone.  The highlights were getting in two days with Stori and the kids (oh how I wish it could have been longer), hanging out in the pool with Mom, Nina, and Trent, breakfast in Velma's with Daddy, and lots of quality time with Grandma and Debbie.  As always, the weeks went by too quickly and the tears flowed too freely when it was time to go.  I am happy here and I do love my life, no matter how much I may cry when I leave you all.  

Here are a few pictures of my visit: 


While in Florida, I dropped the Permanent Residency Visa application in the mail.  It was wonderful to receive a prompt email from the case officer.  We are looking forward to a positive response in a few months.  With that in mind, I am going to be back in the US from late September through mid December awaiting my new visa.  It was a very tough decision to spend three months without Ken by my side, but we think it's for the best in the long-term.  We would hate to both be in the US in case Immigration needs something from him in Australia!  We're definitely looking into the future on this and three months is a sacrifice that has to be made. 

It was wonderful to get back home on the 30th after so many hours on a plane.  Brisbane greeted me with a cold, drizzly day and Ken greeted me with his yummy curry and a lovely warm apartment.  This trip has taken me longer to get over for some reason.  A week later, I'm still exhausted and going to bed early every night.  

Ken has been keeping me busy though.  He's discovered the joys of cheese making!  Before I left, I made up a batch of feta that was pretty yummy.  But while I was away, he made three batches of farmhouse cheddar!  It is really beautiful stuff, we cracked open the first round and have been nibbling away.  It's creamy and definitely has a bite to it.  Lovely!  Ken was so excited about doing it, that he made another batch this week so I could observe and learn.  It's drying out for a couple more days, then I guess he'll wax it and let it age a bit.  Delicious and really so easy!  

Some pictures of the process:



I had the wonderful opportunity to meet a dear friend of Ken's on Tuesday.  Dennis and Ken have known each other for many, many years and manage to maintain a friendship over email and occasional phone calls.  I was thrilled he came over from the West Coast and I was able to meet him over lunch.  He is going to happily report to the other "mates" that I really do exist and am not some figment of Ken's imagination!  

Now it's time for me to get back to the laundry that's piled up in this rainy weather!  I have to take advantage of a sunny day...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane...

Good afternoon, I am enjoying this beautiful winter weather!  It's sunny, breezy and cool in Brisbane - I think this is my favorite time of year.  My hot tea intake has increased exponentially and today I've seriously considered knitting up (or attempting to knit up) a pair of fingerless gloves to wear around the house.  I've got my fuzzy socks on with my jeans and long sleeve tee AND a hoodie!  But if you look outside, the sun is bright - not the grey Indiana winters I'm used to.  Ken is still wearing shorts most days and truthfully I rarely have on socks.

The last couple of weeks, Ken and I have been fighting colds.  His has settled into his lungs, and he's just been miserable, but mine is just a general chill and feeling rundown.  I hope we both get to feeling better in the next couple of days.  Our days have been mainly spent inside quietly playing computer games (him) and knitting or reading (me).  The television has also been on more during the day than ever before.  Poor guy had to put up with Nora Roberts' movies a couple of days last week!  Thankfully, he was able to snooze during the worst parts.

We've also completed our paperwork for my permanent residency visa.  WOO and HOO!  I didn't know if we would both survive the stress of figuring this stuff out.  But it'll be wonderful to put the application in the mail and let the ball be in the government's court.  I'll keep you updated on our progress.

Ken announced today that he just purchased us a cheese maker.  No, not a little French man , but a kit that will be everything we need (except milk) to make our very own cheese.  We are very excited about this!  He had previously found a cheese making course he could send me on for a weekend.  I'd learn everything I need to know about cheese making for only $400.  Only $400?!  But this new little kit should be here tomorrow and we'll be able to get some made before I leave next week.  So when I get home, there will be a lovely block of cheese waiting to be eaten and enjoyed.  (If Ken doesn't give in to temptation first!)  I reckon we'll have to start walking a couple of hours everyday now, just to work off all the cheese we'll be eating.  It's Ken's biggest weakness.

Speaking of weaknesses, I have found the best recipe for bread.  I've made it twice now and each time it's a little better.  I can't wait to make it again today.  It's just a white bread, but instead of making it in a pan I make a round loaf on a pizza stone.  Here's a picture of the last loaf I made Friday with my chicken soup.
Tuscan herbs and poppy seeds 

We've been preparing for my next Indiana visit.  I'm thrilled to be able to go at this time of year, when Mom and the kids are on summer break from school.  When I visited in October, Mom couldn't spend much time with me so we're planning on making up for that this time.  Stori will also be home and I'll get to meet her new babies, Chad and Ian for the first time!  I wish I could spend more time with them, but will have to be satisfied with only a couple of intense days.  Mom and my brothers' families are going to Florida for a couple of weeks and I'll be joining them.  It's very hard to try to see everyone and do the things I need/want to do in just three weeks.  Some hard decisions have to be made and I just feel torn already.  But three weeks is better than nothing, and I couldn't bear to be away from here any longer than that.  

Mom and I have so much planned already and things get added every day.  My sister-in-law, Nina and I just can't wait to open a bottle of wine, some fresh bread and start talking.  My arms ache to hold those new babies and Stori Faye.  And it'll be wonderful to see my dad and brothers again.  Just to feel a part of that circle of love and affection again.  I have missed my family so much.  It amazed me that people survived this kind of separation before the invention of email, Skype and Facebook.  I know that I couldn't.  

Mom has found a blanket she wants me to knit.  It's a log cabin technique (like the quilts) and to practice I've been working on a dishcloth/hot pad with some scrap cotton.  I really enjoy it and I finished it in just a couple of nights, however it didn't look right so I ripped the last round off and have started again. Hopefully I'll get it done the right way tonight.  It's going to Mom and Dad until I get the blanket finished. 
 Blue, red, green log cabin

I'm also knitting a very lightweight baby blanket for Aaron and Julie's newest addition.  It'll probably be one we just keep around here for when he comes to visit.  Hopefully that will be very often!  I can't wait to hold this little guy.  Ken and I have already started calling him "Flash" - I guess every child needs a nickname from his grandfather.  

In other news, Ken and I had our eye appointments a few weeks ago and I finally can see.  Oh how great it is!  I got a new pair of glasses that we both just love and a new pair of prescription sunglasses.  Here is a picture of me in my new glasses with my long Pocahontas hair.  Please excuse the no makeup and pale skin, and thank goodness I'm not very vain!  

Or maybe I am a little vain.  Here's a better picture of me by the pool at Rae's resort (Ken's sister's house). block by the pool

Happy Monday everyone!


Friday, April 30, 2010

Eclectic Reading

I'm just writing a short post today to let you know about my new blog feature from Amazon.  As an Amazon Associate, I can link to books, movies, other products available on and if you decide you'd like to buy the product through my blog, I'll get a commission up to 15%.  It's a great way for me to keep track of what I've been reading and share my thoughts on it.  Hope you enjoy it!

It been an eclectic month of reading in the Smith-King household.  In fact, the librarian might start thinking I'm multiple personality or schizophrenic or something!  The first of the books was by an old stand-by, Nora Roberts.  She's always reliably entertaining.  This was Three Fates and it didn't let me down.

I walked down the aisle at the library and this book just jumped into my bag - The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life: How to Sew a Sampler Quilt & 49 Other Pioneer Projects for the Modern Girl.  It was just so cute, but a little too precious for me to take seriously.  It did have a couple of nice ideas in it for me.  My favorite was about the joy of  writing actual letters instead of relying on email or Facebook to keep in touch.  I'm trying to to put this into practice.

Lillian Beckwith is an author with whom I was completely unfamiliar, but I've fallen in love with her writing.  She lived in the Hebrides and wrote about crofting life.  It's a simple, beautiful life that Ken and I dream of often.  Hills Is Lonely is the non-fiction book about her experiences in the first year or so of living in the Islands.  I recommend it highly!  Island Apart is a fictional story that is just so sweet and not what I expected.

Also in the non-fiction aisle was The Ballad of Blind Tom, Slave Pianist.  Written by an Australian about an American slave who became one of the most famous entertainers in the United States, it was completely fascinating.  I can't believe I'd never heard of this man before and it completely whetted my appetite for biographies.

Mom and I were talking about Elizabeth Berg and her beautiful writing.  The Year of Pleasures: A Novel was one I hadn't read before and it is gorgeous, heartbreaking, and uplifting.  Everything a novel should be!  And the last book from the library shows my growing and odd obsession with Beatrix Potter.  At Home with Beatrix Potter: The Creator of Peter Rabbit is a gorgeous book about her home in England's Lake District.  I was never a huge fan of Peter Rabbit or any of her books, but I've fallen in love with her cottage and her life.  She wasn't just a woman who drew silly little animals in vests and shawls, but was deeply passionate about her home and the land.  I look forward to reading more about her...maybe even checking out Peter Rabbit and Flopsy Bunnnies!

Tomorrow I'll go to the library for more books to keep me going another month.  With the books, knitting, cooking, and cleaning, I really enjoy being a housewife.  Who would have ever thought I'd make a decent housewife?  I know Mom and Aunt Deb have to be shocked!

Sorry this is a weird post, I'll do a proper one soon.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I have officially been in Australia for a year! It's been a beautiful year of love, laughter, sacrifice, and tears. You may not believe me, but every day is a surprise and joy for me. Even the worst day is better than my life before. Not because I had this horribly tragic life, I'm not a character in a Bronte or Dickens novel (as much as I would have enjoyed it), but because I was missing something. Before you click to close this page, yes, my name is Courtney and I'm a romance-aholic. I admit it. Most of my young life was spent with my nose in a book, I can quote all the romantic movies of my youth by heart, and the 1995 BBC version of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" is still my favorite movie ever. It's on TV this month and Ken has been kind enough to promise to sit through it without complaint! Who needs Mr. Darcy?

But back to my original point if I can remember what that was...oh yes, missing something. When I was a little girl, our entire family got together for holidays at Grandma and Granddad's. We ate and talked and the kids ran wild and everyone was happy and loved. And every year, I would sneak into the back bathroom and cry. How could I be so happy and so sad at the same time? It was fear - fear that I would never find that love I could see in the married couples around me. It was this elusive dream all through my childhood, adolescence and young adult life. And then I met Ken. We clicked, but the timing was just incredibly wrong. It took another eight years for us to make that commitment.

And now that I have that beautiful love and partnership, life is perfect right? Well, yes and no. Can you believe I'm still sneaking into the bathroom and crying? The fear is back, but it's different this time. My fear is that by following my heart and leaving my family back in Indiana, I'm actually the one being left behind. Our lives are so different and now so far apart. My niece turned 16 a couple of weeks ago! Without me?! My cousin and her family are just growing and changing so much! Without me? My Grandma is getting older and more frail and more forgetful every day. Without me? How can I be so happy and so sad at the same time? Is this what it means to be a grown-up? Does everyone feel like this? How do you get through it?

I'm learning to get through it with the love and humor my parents have passed down. And a lot of hugs from Ken. My dear Ken who took me to a beautiful dinner on our anniversary and acted just as excited as me about my new shoes for the occasion. Ken who gets up early every morning and makes sure I have hot tea and toast as soon as I wake up. Ken who makes me laugh so hard that I collapse into a puddle on the floor. And I guess that's what life is about. Making sacrifices and loving someone so much it doesn't actually feel like it's a sacrifice at all.

My family here in Australia is getting larger. Ken's son and daughter-in-law are expecting a little boy later in the year. We are all so thrilled! Bella is trying to come to terms with having a brother instead of a sister, but it'll be fantastic. I can't wait, little boys are so sweet and just to hold a baby again will be heaven! They were so lovely and brought me over a worm farm for my birthday. Julie even emailed my mom and found out my favorite type of birthday cake, then made it for me!

Life is good. It's been a wonderful year, and I can't wait to see what the future holds in store.

Monday, March 1, 2010


March has always been one of my favorite months. The beginning of Spring in Indiana, when you can finally start to see the pale green haze around the trees signaling the beginning of buds after the long, grey winter. The air smells different in March, and you can start to feel your shoulders come down from where they've been huddling around your ears all winter. March has always seemed more like the beginning of a new year to me than January. Maybe it's because I was born in March or because of the Spring. Either way I'm happy to discover that it has significance in the Southern Hemisphere as well. The Summer will be ending and Autumn will finally arrive. I can't tell you how happy that makes me! I love the heat and sun, but enough already! The last few days have been cooler and rainy, and I feel like one of my garden plants, sucking in the water.

The change isn't dramatic like in Indiana, we'll still have pretty warm, sunny weather most of the time. But there's a different smell in the air. And there is definitely a green haze over everything. My tomatoes are growing every day and I swear you can almost watch them get bigger. We've had our air conditioning off two days now and it's wonderful to be able to hear the outside world. Even if it is arguing neighbors and those bloody crows that love to torment Ken. I woke up this morning and just laid there listening to the rain outside. What beautiful music the world makes!

Last night I was lying in bed reading the novel, The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer. It's a beautifully written book, told completely in letters. I recommend it to anyone looking for a lovely read. Anyway, I was lying in bed reading this story of change and finding "home" and it hit me how incredibly changed my life is in so short a time. In a couple of weeks, I'll have been here a year! Part of me feels like I've been here all my life, because I feel so right and at home. But then it hits me what a huge transformation this has been. And honestly, the realization of an eight-year dream. How fantastic is that?

My knitting is getting better and more fun every day. I'm still leery about trying new patterns or knitting anything other than scarves, but I am proud to say I finished a tea cozy for myself and even though it's not perfect, it's mine. Last week, I started a scarf for myself just to practice rib knit and I just love it. It did get ripped out a few times, but I needed to practice for a very special project I'm getting ready to start. The yarn I'm practicing with is a beautiful cotton and as I don't have enough to make a scarf, I'll have to go back to the yarn shop and buy another skein. (Oh darn!)

Ken and I doubled the size of our 'farm' this weekend! We now have lettuces and snow pea and cucumber. The cucumbers are a Crystal Apple variety and will be little white balls of sweetness I hope. We had a pretty productive weekend, but still plenty of time to be lazy. Perfect in my opinion! Ken built shelves to store the homemade beer/cider and that opens up a lot of cabinet space for me to spread out in the kitchen. YAY! My job today is to organize those cabinets now. Not a fun job really, but will be so worthwhile.

While I'm doing that, you can look at some pictures of our trip to the bay last week. Even though we had some major train drama, it was a nice afternoon out. We had a picnic on the bay and a great walk. There are some beautiful waterfront homes here - if you have a spare couple of million dollars.

Have a great week!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rae's Resort

Well, what a way to spend a weekend! Sun, surf, family and wine, wine, wine - what more could a woman want? Ken's sister, Lynn, and her partner, Eddie, picked us up on Friday afternoon and we drove to their sister Rae's home at Bribie Island. The five of us seem to get along so well, and I am constantly reminded how lucky I am to have been accepted into this family.

Rae's home is so pleasant and relaxing. There are chooks (chickens) in the backyard "Chook Mahal" that Eddie built. And her giant dog, Missy is always entertaining. A table on the patio overlooking the pool was a great spot for afternoon drinks and snacks before dinner. And an evening dip was very refreshing for us girls.

Saturday was a full day of eating (at least 4 times!), swimming in the surf, and much conversation and laughter. Rae, Eddie and I went into the surf and there were some pretty big waves for this Indiana girl! One knocked Rae off her feet and there she lay under the water for a little while. I was terrified! But when I finally saw her face and realized those were tears of laughter, I loosened up a bit. It took us a while to get her back on her feet with both of us laughing, but jeez what a fun time! We also got my favorite picture of Ken and me ever. Thanks Eddie for taking it!

Here is a picture of Ken and his three women on the beach.
And one of Rae, Lynn and Eddie.

Bribie Island is a lovely little place, only an hour away from our house. What a beautiful part of the world I live in! Notice the Glass House Mountains in the distance?

I introduced the gang to "real" Mexican food the Indiana way on Saturday night. Fresh corn tortillas with Mom's taco recipe, fresh salsa and bean and corn salad. It was yummy and I think they really liked it. Or at least they were hungry and ate a lot! There is such a difference between the homemade corn tortillas and the ones we used to buy at the store in Indiana. It makes me so happy to make them too!

Mom sent me a package of Christmas goodies and I'm so glad I received it right before we left on Friday. My new green purse is just the best ever and got me many compliments! I've already finished one of the books she sent and will get started on another tonight. Thanks Mom!

Well, I need to do something productive today. Probably just knit but at least that's producing something! Even if it is a teacozy for myself!


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Merry Christmas Mom! (finally)

After working my short little fingers to the bone for almost 3 months, I finally finished Mom's Christmas present and got it in the mail. Next year, I'll have to start before November! The pattern came from Mary Jane's Farm magazine and Mom gave it to me while I was in Indiana in October. I couldn't wait to get back home and buy the yarn and get started. Since Mom isn't really a fan of a lot of wool, I went with a smoky blue acrylic that is soft and cuddly. Here's a picture of me wearing the sweater shawl:

It's a terrible picture of me, but hopefully it'll give you an idea about the shawl. It feels very warm and cozy, thank goodness Indiana still has so much winter left so she can use it. (Those of you in Southern Indiana may not appreciate that as much as I do.)

I've gotten a good start on my next project - a little red tea cozy. This will be the first thing except for dishcloths that I've ever knitted for myself, so I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished product! It's also the first pattern I've ever used that was fairly complicated. "Real" knitters will probably laugh if they saw what I think is complicated! But I'm definitely a beginner, so anything beyond knit every row or purl every row seems complicated to me. After my tea cozy is finished I'll be starting another project to send back to Indiana, hope it'll be done before it gets too warm also!

I can't feel too guilty about just getting out Mom's Xmas present, because it's definitely something that runs in the family. My box of goodies for Xmas from Mom still hasn't arrived at my door, even though I anxiously await. I have no idea what is in this box, but it'll be so wonderful to get mail from Indiana. It's been a really hard couple of weeks here in the city for me. Ken has been sick with a chest cold, and I'm just a bit witchy (or is that a witty bitch?).

Reading Stori's blog is always wonderful, but it just makes me miss her so much! I end up crying every day there's a new post. We are both experiencing these HUGE life changes and for the first time, we're experiencing them apart. That is so hard to deal with sometimes. We are lucky in that we know nothing will ever change our relationship, not even being on different sides of the world, but it is hard. Seems impossible that I haven't even met Chad and Ian yet! And she only met Ken once, years ago.

In other news, our "farm" is going well. The lettuce is just not thriving in this heat, I'm going to try again later in the 'fall'. But the tomatoes and bell peppers and herbs are thriving! We have two baby tomatoes that just double in size every day. I go out in the evening and water them and have a little pep talk with them. Ken calls me the crazy Indian woman, but it's relaxing for me, and can't do them any harm. Our capsicum (or bell pepper) is full of babies and a couple that are getting the right size. It's an heirloom plant that is miniature and yellow. So they are just tiny little things, but will be so sweet! As you can see in the picture below, one is orange and we watch every day for it to turn just a bit more yellow so we can eat it!

Bella is in school now every day, but we pick her up once a week or so to help out. She really enjoys school and looks so adorable in her little uniform! The highlight of her visits (for me at least) is taking her out and watering the garden. She is such a good helper, and loves to sneak bites of the basil. Thursday we went out after she changed from her uniform, but she had to get an apron from the cupboard to put on over her clothes. It reminded me so much of a picture Mom has of Mackenzie and Shayla in her front garden wearing old aprons. We've come full circle in a way, haven't we Mom? The funniest thing is that it's probably the same apron! Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of her, but I'm sure I will another day. She loves wearing the aprons and has already put in an order for what her baby sister will want. We don't know what Aaron and Julie's new baby will be, but there will be an apron waiting. And hopefully, some knitted goodies too.

Well, that's about all for now. I'm going to enjoy the rest of the day with my knitting. Or at least until Ken comes home from the boat. Hopefully with good news! Here are a couple of photos I took earlier this week on my walk to Spotlight:

And one from earlier this morning out my bedroom window: