Enjoy The Ride

The audio file below is an advert I heard on the radio this morning, which made me  think. The thing is I have been thinking recently about how much we try to cram into our lives, and this advert (for speeding nonetheless) just hit the nail on the head for me.

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“So why are we, the Office Of Road Safety, asking you to slow down in life as well as on the road? What difference does it make to us if you eat in front of the TV, spend little quality time with your kids or grind your teeth because you’re stressed?

Well, we believe the way we drive is a symptom of the way we live; Too fast.”

Now this is a topic close to my heart, since I have a husband that speeds. It doesn’t matter whether we are in a rush, or have left early, it is a constant rush to get to the next place. He doesn’t go at ridiculous speeds, but there is the constant changing of lanes, the complaint that someone is going slow – especially if they are in the right lane. This habit of speeding my hubbie has is definitely because when he was younger he tried to cram too much into life. Tafe, social life and work (which at the time involved the delivery of pizzas, that is driving, and the faster he went the more he delivered!). Hubbie has now slowed down in the amount that he crams into life (well not at this very exact moment since he is in America setting up an office over there!!), but the habit of speeding is still there.

My problem is not speeding, but how much I am trying to cram in. I haven’t worked for 7 months now, but the house is no cleaner, I haven’t sorted my studio out, the puppies haven’t made it to puppy school yet, and I haven’t visited my folks as much as I wanted to. Why?

I blame the world, society and also me! There is just so much more out there and we are trying to do it all. But in doing so, we are actually experiencing less. Instead of the two or three channels on TV we had growing up, there are a dozen on free-to-air TV. To add to that, a lot of us have Foxtel (pay-TV), and to add salt into the wounds, we download a lot, share DVDs with friends and even TV stations have TV shows available on their websites. So now we are exposed to more, we want to watch more! I am often asked if I have watched a show, like Warehouse 13, Eureka, The Walking Dead and I just haven’t got to it – why? Because if I watched everything that looked cool on TV, then that is all I would ever do. How do you choose what to watch? I’m lucky and my hubbie helps in that situation, but in saying that I am usually watching one or two more seasons of different shows, in addition to what we are watching as a couple!

The world is also becoming a smaller place, since it is so much easier to travel and/or move around. This means family and friends are more widespread. As you know hubbie and I spent five years in Kalgoorlie, where we made a lot of friends. Five years in Kalgoorlie was a pretty good stint, and then people move on. We moved back to Perth, but a lot moved over east. Also many of my friends from university days moved over east or overseas. And also our family on both sides is widespread – all over Australia and the U.K. So we try and keep up with as many family and friends through telephone calls, letters (snail mail) and e-mail. And it is probably ten-fold what we used to do ten years ago. I believe this is a common circumstance with a lot of people that they have family and friends everywhere!

Then there is also all the different forms of social media applications, which is fantastic because it makes it easier to keep in touch with our diversely spread family and friends. I admit that I am a culprit of using social media. I have my personal Facebook page, plus one for Michelle’s Labyrinth http://www.facebook.com/michelleslabyrinth (for all my Fantasy, Cake Decorating, Craft posts), which is linked to a Twitter account @mordtaylor. I also now have a Tumblr account http://michelleslabyrinth.tumblr.com/ – where I am going to post all my dessert and pie recipes (I didn’t want to clog up my blog!), and of course WordPress, the final piece of media, that I use for my blog of course. Other applications, that I don’t use, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Google+ andsocialnetworking LinkedIn (oh yeah I have a LinkedIn account, but I’m not interested in a job at the moment!!). I don’t know what half of the applications are for, and the only reason I started a Tumblr one was because I wanted to track the recipes I have made… as I keep loosing where my favourite cherry cobbler, fruit cake and white sauce for lasagna recipes are! How many of you have more than one social media application?

Personally I am also trying to work out a hobby I love, to excel at, that I can concentrate on when I go back to work. I love cake decorating and wish I could do it full-time; I am enjoying felting and it is a good medium to get some frustrations out, as long as I don’t poke my finger too much; I love writing (like this blog, and also a novel I am trying to get out of my head); I love photography, especially of my puppies and while travelling; and there is also card-making and scrap-booking. I think I am more a scrap-booker than a card-maker, I have so many things I have kept from my travels and life in general that I want to collate into scrapbooks, and hopefully later on write about. But I love card-making, because I get to socialise and learn lots of cool techniques. This week I even started to try a little bit of needlework, just to see if I like it. I haven’t done enough to pass judgement yet :) So now I want to do as much as possible of all these interests so I can choose what to concentrate on going forward.

And of course there is also work, that money making activity. There are so many things available nowadays, big screen TVs, pay-tv, fast cars, laptops, iPads, fancy cooking appliances that do all the cooking for you, digital cameras… and also holidays! So we work hard and long to make money, to buy all these things… We spend more time at work, than we do with our family. These people whom we spend 8-12 hours a day with are not our family, in a lot of circumstances are not true friends. It just does not make sense that we are with them more than we are with our families. But to apparently make life more enjoyable for our families, it is just what happens…

And at work, have you noticed that more and more is expected from you (compared to say 10-15 years ago, and longer of course), because we now have access to all these cool tools, so things are faster to do, but that means we do more and it also means we understand less of what actually happens. My experience is in the accounting field, so where we used to do simple Debits and Credits, we now upload files and computers code things for you, do the journals for you. With the speed of e-mails, its is so much easier for people to contact you, so you end of being in contact with more and more people. Now these people are in the same situation as you, where more is automated, so it makes investigative work all that much harder… And of course some things are sourced off-site, which adds another dimension that you didn’t use to have to deal with. I could go on forever about this, but just wanted to make the point that socially we are going faster, but so are we at work. It is constantly faster throughout our whole week!

So how do you fit it all in? You don’t. But then how do you choose what to do? What to watch? What to miss out on? How can we work less? Skimming the surface of life wasn’t doing it for me when I was working, so something does need to change. I understand that we go faster so we can do more, and the truth is, we just experience less. We need to appreciate the moment we are in. I have noticed that in past few weeks I have been trying to do so much, but actually not enjoying it all. I have had the TV on and at the same time I have been on the computer, or felting, or cooking, or cleaning. But I really haven’t been experiencing the TV shows properly. So then I have wanted to watch more TV! So then I end up sleeping less… bad choice.

So why haven’t we slowed down before?  Are we worried life will overtake us? But life is now… and now…. When was the last time you stopped to actually breathe? (Actually the last time I laid there and concentrated on just breathing was my final months at work, when I was meditating to reduce heart palpitations!!!! Why haven’t I concentrated on my breathing since? Here is a link if you need some ideas on how to calm yourself now! http://www.enjoytheride.wa.gov.au/slow-topics/lifestyle/instant-calm_20110604/) I was asked today if I use my spa much, but no I don’t. It is coated with a thick layer of dust as proof! Why? Because I am trying to fit too much in as it is already!

So I really enjoyed this thought provoking advert (how often do we listen/watch adverts nowadays!! hehe). I really want to slow down so I have time to appreciate the simple things, the important things. Like going shopping with my Mum, or talking my puppies for a walk, or sitting in the spa with my hubbie.

Slow down and enjoy the ride. (Just like Sandy and Danny did!!!)

Danny and Sandy 0

Danny and Sandy 1Danny and Sandy 2Danny and Sandy 3



Happy Valentine’s Day – Our Engagement

I thought I would post a blog about our engagement on 12th February 2005! (Oh my god 8 years ago!!!). I wrote this letter to my family and friends in February 2005. Sorry if you have read it before – thought you may like to reminisce :) Enjoy!

Dear Family and Friends,

Considering the geographic diversity of everyone I thought I would take the time to let everyone know our news and the finer details.

Roll out the red carpet because Noel and I finally got engaged after 7 years and 2 months on 12th February 2005!!

Noel and I have known for a very long time we would become married considering we bought our first house together 5 ½ years ago. It was just a matter of timing and finances. I was busy with study and then Noel was busy with the business and now both of them are out of our lives and we are both as happy with our jobs as one can be, we thought it was about time to arrange something.

Sometime last year when there was nothing else to do in this exciting town [Kalgoorlie] we are living in, I searched on the Internet for diamond rings. I always had an idea of the engagement ring I would like, the special feature being sapphires – most people know I love the colour blue! I found the perfect ring and saved a copy of picture and waited for the best time to show Noel!

The ring was off a website where you can design your own rings, and I had the option of choosing different shaped diamonds, such as oval, princess cut or heart shaped. I liked the heart shaped best, but hadn’t actually seen a heart shaped diamond ring before. I asked a friend which she preferred and she liked the heart shaped one too… so my heart was set (pardon the pun!).

Ever since we moved to Kalgoorlie and Harvey Norman being the most exciting store here, Noel had been going on and on about a plasma TV. I just couldn’t justify getting a TV that cost more than my car is worth! So I said no for two years, two years until Noel said he was going to buy me a ring!

Mid January Noel took me to Smales Jewellers. The only person he had told so far was Matt Birney, the local Liberal candidate, because Noel was only going to be able to hand out balloons and leaflets for a couple of hours on Saturday morning because the lazy local shop owners close at noon on Saturdays. We went into Smales and I handed over a picture of the ring I had my eyes on, and they said they would be able to make it. We asked when they would be able to make it by, as I thought Valentine’s Day would be nice. (I had originally liked the idea of us getting engaged on the 10th December as that was the day we became a couple, but Steve and Nicole [my sister and brother-in-law] stole that engagement date!!! :) ). They said they could make the ring by Valentine’s Day and said they would get a couple of heart diamonds and sapphires sent to Kalgoorlie for us to choose which we liked. Since I knew Noel was pretty serious by now I said I would get him the plasma TV he had his eyes on for an engagement gift – so we headed off to Harvey Norman straight from Smales Jewellers.

By Thursday they had got the diamonds and the sapphires in, so it was time to choose. The girls at the jewellers were so excited, as they hadn’t seen such a lovely heart shaped diamond before. They thought the design of my ring was so unique and beautiful. So we popped a deposit on my ring, and as we were leaving one of the girls came up and said it should be ready by 15th February as the Kalgoorlie jeweller was on holidays so they were going to have to send the jewels to Perth for the ring to be made. I know I pulled a face at the poor girl and said I sort of wanted it for Valentine’s Day – little did I know…

The week before Valentine’s Day I asked Noel to ring the jewellers to see if they might have it made by 14th. He rang me at work saying they had decided to wait until the Kalgoorlie jeweller was back and wouldn’t have it made until the end of the week beginning the 14th. I was so disappointed – how could the jeweller have holidays before Valentine’s Day!? Only in Kalgoorlie I figured.

I told my friend at work about the “stupid” jewellers and we devised a “silly” plan saying Noel could propose to me on Valentine’s Day and put a piece of string around my finger until the ring came… Noel didn’t like that idea – hehe

I had given up after that. I was in the middle of January’s month end at work, which ended up worse than December’s (year end due to Placer Dome being under a Canadian company), because I had to update every spreadsheet for the new year and rolling over softwares. I had also planned the Friday off so I could spend a nice weekend in Perth for my Mum’s 50th birthday, which added more time pressures at work.

So I headed to Perth for Mum’s birthday. Noel was already in Perth for training for work. I spent Friday with Mum, Dad and Rachael. Noel drove to Gidgegannup and we had dinner with Pom-Pom [the name I gave my Grandma, I think because Dad called her Yvonne!] and Grandpa and the folks. Saturday Michelle's Labyrinthwe spent some time with a couple of my friends (still left in Perth) and then went out for dinner with the family for Mum’s 50th. As usual (and I take after my Dad) I was running late and we arrived at La Cassetta last. Quite conveniently there were two seats in the middle of the table (I still had no idea), and after Dad made a toast to Mum with delicious champagne (still no idea) Noel said he would like to say a word. I figured he was just going to tell everyone of our intentions since we wouldn’t see the whole family again for god only knows when. Next thing you know Noel is going down on one knee and he had a rose shaped ring box and he asked me to marry him. I said “yes” and I believe the words “you little bugger” escaped my lips!! And I shoved the dream ring on my finger!!!

Michelle's LabyrinthI was very embarrassed and got very hot – probably red too! And I believe Noel was feeling the same. It was all quite surreal. Still when I look at my ring it seems so dreamlike, seeing the ring from the Internet on my finger!

Thank you for Mum for letting Noel propose at her 50th birthday dinner. And thank you for Mum and Dad for arranging for immediate family to be there – Nicole & Steve, Rachael & boyfriend, Pom-Pom & Grandpa and Granddad.

The Thursday the diamonds arrived at Smales Noel went in at lunch time and arranged to have the ring done by Friday 11th. He asked them to not let me know it could be ready before the 15th. When Noel rang them up the Monday I asked, he told the truth and that they had waited for the Kalgoorlie jeweller to come back from holidays as they thought he would do a better job. They said it would be made by the middle of the week and they would send it to Perth for Noel to pick up. Of course Noel was packing it, thinking his plan may fail…

Noel had also e-mailed my Dad asking him to ring him at work. Of course my wise father figured Noel might finally be asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage. I guess my Dad gave his permission!!

The Friday after Noel’s training he zippedMichelle's Labyrinth to the Subiaco Smales store and picked up the ring. They gave Noel a rose shaped ring box and Noel thought – how the heck am I going to hide this from Michelle. On the Saturday while we were out shopping with my friends Noel carried the ring around in his pocket – as he didn’t want to leave it at the hotel room with the cleaners going in and out. While I was busy chatting to one friend about how I might have a ring soon, he told the other friend it was in his pocket. While we were walking around Perth I told Noel his pocket was jingling, I knew it was the hotel key and his car keys etc I was just teasing his shorts, but poor Noel and my friend were trying not to laugh because of the other “thing” in his pocket!

The rose shapedMichelle's Labyrinth ring box also came on top of a stem. Pom-Pom made the mistake of asking Noel how he hid that on the way to the restaurant – in his sock!!!!!!

I would like to thank everyone for their well-wishes and their excitement. A lot of people have been more excited than us and I have had my hand yanked more than once to have a looksie at my ring. One girl made the mistake however of asking Noel what colour bridesmaid dresses I was going to have – he laughed.

Along with lots of well wishes I am nauseous at all the advice we have been getting about weddings. Please no-one else ask Noel and I about a wedding. Quite frankly we don’t want one and I really don’t like hearing about them unless it is after the wedding and everything was like a fairytale. Maybe we are a wee bit selfish, however we would like to spend our hard earned money on say 5 weeks rather than one stressful day. Each to their own. Each individual likes to celebrate their marriage in their own way i.e. in a church, in Bali, during the heat of the day! and we would like everyone to respect our decision to spend it together in Las Vegas (and hopefully New Orleans, New York and LA depending on finances and a puppy-sitter!).

Noel and I are very excited about our news and are excited about planning our honeymoon! If anyone wants to join us in Las Vegas they are more than welcome to start saving and join us at the “adult playground”, home of the original CSI (TV series). As soon as we work out when we are going (when I have gathered the courage to ask for 5 weeks off!!) we’ll let you know.

Hope you enjoyed reading about our engagement, as we would like to celebrate with all, but didn’t want a big party nor two (i.e. one in Perth and one in Kal) and I thought this was the best way!

Lots of Love to All

Michelle and Noel (and puppy Makita)


Michelle's LabyrinthMichelle's Labyrinth

Hope you enjoyed reading it. I hope everyone’s Valentine’s Day is full of love. Whether you are romantics and it involves chocolates and flowers; or are still in the ‘honeymoon stage’ and go all out; or if you just express your love to your other half, or even those friends that you love too! Here’s the card I made at craft today – chalkboard technique! Hope my hubbie likes it :) Michelle's Labyrinth


Wanneroo Show – Part 2: Butterflies and Flowers

I cannot believe it is February already! I have been on my sabbatical for 7 months! Boy the time has flown and I am still having lots of fun. You may remember that I entered some cakes and photographs into the Wanneroo Show last November, however I have only written about one of the cakes so far. Well I had a request from one of my readers to write some more about my entries in the show. So here I go :)

This post is about the cake category Michelle's Labyrinth– “Decorated Cake, two or more tiers. Foam shapes allowed. Suitable for wedding or special occasion.” I had seen foam shapes in Spotlight in the cake section and wondered what they were used for. The polystyrene shapes are called ‘Cake Dummies’ in the cake decorating world and they are used for practicing! How cool is that? So I checked out the YouTube video ‘Covering a Dummy with Fondant’  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKILPEC3q3Y&sns=tw and covered my first cake dummy and entered it into the Wanneroo Show. (One of my friends hates the sound of polystyrene when you touch it, it is like fingernails on a blackboard to her. I guess I hate anyone talking about eyeballs, so I shouldn’t laugh at her :)  )

The following cake is the one that won this cake category. It is a very elegant cake.

Michelle's Labyrinth

This cake won second and it is amazing. The details of the flowers are brilliant and I love the mixture of the green and gold colours.

Michelle's Labyrinth

There were a couple of other cakes in this category but this one really struck a chord with me. I know I love blue, but the detail of the orchids on top are stunning. I really think this cake should have won or at least come second. (The cake that actually won was a little plain compared the this one and the green/gold one!)

Michelle's Labyrinth

Now for my entry! I was mislead a little bit about the caliber of the entries at the Wanneroo Show (I think the entries have improved dramatically over the past couple of years). The above cakes were amazing. But I am still happy with my entry, as I just could not match the cakes above (hopefully one day!) and I got to try out a few techniques, such as icing a cake dummy and also using stamps on fondant icing and colouring them in by hand. Hope you like it :)

Michelle's Labyrinth

As I mentioned in my previous post, the judges for the cake decorating categories give you comments. The comments I received for this cake were: “Well done. Be careful when smoothing icing that you don’t spoil base board. Would have liked to see hand moulded flower on top. See you next year.” I thought they were very kind comments, and I had noticed the marks on the cake board when I was smoothing the icing! Oops!

Michelle's Labyrinth Michelle's Labyrinth

I also entered a photo into the photography catergory – “Floral study”. The photo that won is exquisite. The flower itsef is quite stunning and intricate!

Michelle's Labyrinth

This is the photo that came second. It doesn’t talk to me like the photo that won and I don’t think my photo of it does it justice.

Michelle's Labyrinth

Here is my floral study, which I took in Jersey (Channel Island) at the La Mare Wine Estate in December 2011. I love the colours of the flowers and the leaves.

Michelle's Labyrinth

Here is a photo of all the entries into “Floral Study”.

Michelle's Labyrinth

I really enjoyed these two categories of the Wanneroo Show. Please be patient for Parts 3 & 4 of the Wanneroo Show :)

Here is the link to Part 1 if you missed it:

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