How To Create A Serene Backyard Space...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Gone are the days when backyards were simply patches of grass for the kids to play on. Nowadays, our backyard spaces give us a canvas to express our tastes and our lifestyle. Though your backyard should match your own unique personality and that of your family, there are a few staples of backyard design that are great to adhere to in order to create a truly serene space to spend early mornings and lazy afternoons.

Plant the Seeds for a Tranquil Setting
Literally. Plants are a must-have for a peaceful backyard area. If you’re looking for a backyard that you associate with relaxation (and not hard work), make sure to choose plants that are easily cared for. You don’t want to be burdened by any bushes or flowers that are high maintenance; you just need some flora that gives the space some colour and a lively vibe (some pleasant fragrances wouldn’t hurt too!).

Cement Your Backyard Space
Not literally. What we mean by this is to make it clear where your serene space begins and ends. You can do this with miniature walls, rock features, fences, or – if you want to be really classy – glass balustrades (for this, you would probably need some help from a company like Clearly Glass).  Having this kind of boundary is a great way to make your backyard space a bit more private. Plus, it’ll feel safer and more exclusive.

Let it Flow!
Though this one could easily refer to your creativity, what we’re really getting at is including some kind of water feature in your backyard. When you think about it, true relaxation depends just as much on sounds as on looks. Particularly if you live near traffic-heavy roads, a fountain or similar feature in your backyard can provide the perfect sound – that of trickling water – to make sure your ears are being looked after in your serene space!

This Time it’s Personal
You can always tell if someone’s backyard space has been designed based purely on the ‘professional’ ideas of others or with an all-in-one outdoor set. Though these backyards can look pleasant, they lack something. That something is a personal touch, which you can add to your own space by exploring more than just standard home decoration stores for your outdoor features. You never know what you’ll find at local markets or in family-owned antique shops for example… you may just stumble upon the perfect piece to complete your backyard space, something that really reflects your style and individuality.

As long as your backyard is a place where you feel at home and comfortable, there’s really not much you can do wrong. However, it’s that much nicer to have an outdoor space that you can feel confident showing off to your friends and family, and a wonderful space to have guests for dinner or drinks. You’ll know you’ve achieved the perfect backyard space when you invite someone into your home and their reaction when stepping outside is to smile and say "this backyard is so… you.”

Ups & Downs....

Saturday, April 19, 2014
I'm not sure what has triggered my raw emotion but lately, I have been missing my mum more than I have in the past few years.  Perhaps its the book. Perhaps its mothering 4 boys and the challenges that arise... Maybe its because of Easter? I don't know, but I just really, reeaallyy miss her.  Like, a hurting heart type of missing.

Last night as I was drifting off to sleep, I thought about her. Deeply. I don't often allow myself to do that as the pain is too intense, even after coming up to 6 years, but last night it was as if I was in a battle with myself and the 'missing her' part of me won and I just layed there, thinking about her. Remembering her voice, her smile, the way she cuddled my boys, her laugh, her skin, her precious wrinkles, her salt & pepper coloured hair... Boy it hurt. Tears rolled out of my eyes and the intense wave of reality took hold and swept through me leaving me feeling so, so gutted. That devastating reminder of the fact that she will not return.
Mum and I (2006) ~ one of my favourites..

Often when we miss someone so much we trick ourselves into feeling as though they are just on a very long holiday.  I know this rings true with many other women missing their mums.  Its only when we have enough quiet time to confirm this to be untrue, that the hurt takes hold once more.  Often after a night like last night I am left feeling hungover in the morning. Its a total emotional beat down!  I'm very grateful to have my children in this situation. They keep me focused and pre-occupied. I don't have many minutes in a day to dwell, and that is a good thing but I'm sure later, as time passes, I will most likely have a whole new element of grief to process as my time free's up and I grow older.

For now though, I will just allow this wave of emotion to ride out its course.  That's all I can do. My heart feels heavy but its because I love my mum so deeply.  I always will.

I don't intend on writing this for pity. I just want to relate and be honest with the lovely readers that I have and appreciate.  I do focus on the good in my life but at times like these, bigger emotions that I cant control take hold and I simply have to validate them.  Its normal. Its common.  Its a part of the process of loss.

Tonight I have chocolate, and the movie 'The Holiday'. I'm counting down the minutes to when I can snuggle into my comfy blanket and get totally lost in one of my favourite chick flicks of all time. Its just what I need.  Me time.....

Tomorrow is a new day...... 

An (overdue) update.....

Friday, April 11, 2014
Time for a chat. Have you made your cup of tea/coffee/gin......?

So, wowsers, time sure flies when you are knee deep in mothering 4 VERY active boys!! I cant quite believe that we are in April already!!! A third of the way through 2014. How does that happen?!!! (please forgive my love of exclamation marks.... clearly I have an issue... !!!!!!!!!!)

How are you? I'm good, thanks. Always chasing my proverbial tail.... but good.

I'm dipping my toe into so much lately. I am head on into work, keeping up to date with the boys commitments and studies. Getting them to and from sports, trying to remember special canteen days and excursions..... (not always succeeding..) And now we are one week into the school holidays. Oh and a huge shout out to Mother Nature, thanks for the week long rain. Well played.... *sigh

Speaking of kids, we have entered a new phase, well two in fact in the life of my little Ollie.  
1) Its pants off.  All day and sometimes throughout the night.  Its impossible to keep his pants on! Mostly, this is fine, but sometimes, as you can imagine, he neeeeeeeeds pants. ie. a nappy. Get the gist?!  In a moment of motherly sharing, I Instagramed our new phase. Clearly I didn't get the memo that this was far too hideous a subject for Instagram and so I was warned, picture deleted and acquired a short ban. My bad.  Oh well, roll on the never ending pics of T&A then.....  
2) Mum, Muuuum, Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu...... Its our new game. (please imagine me NOT smiling as I share this...)  So it goes a little something like this....
Ollie: Mum.
Me: Yes?
Ollie: MUM!
Me: Yes?
Ollie: MUUUUUUUUUM!!!!!!! 
Ollie: Mum.
Me: Nope. Not playing.
And so on, and so on, and so onnnnnnnn.....
Fun yes?... No.

When I'm not consumed by boys, boys, boys, my head is all book, book, book!  I have had meetings, I have had emails, I have had knock backs (must admit, not fun, want to beg... will begging help?), I have had interest (still do, just waiting crazily patiently). I am hopeful and know that one way or another, this book WILL be published.  Obviously it would be nice to have someone do all the work for me but in the end, if its up to me (and lets all remember that 50 shades was self published.....) I promise to make it happen. Just might take a little longer. I will keep you all up to date. (of course if anyone reading this knows someone who knows someone etc, feel free to hook me up!)

I am LOVING the response to my 'Habit of Happiness' project and hope those who are playing along are loving it too.  Remember, life is not perfect and it never will be but the trick is to see beyond the flaws and celebrate the good times.  In the end, its those moments that matter most.  If you think you would like to join in, we would ALL love to have you! Go here for all of the details. xxx

Well, lovelies, I have enjoyed this little catch up. Hopefully it bought you 10 minutes of peace. Winning!
Have a lovely Easter all and to those mums on school holidays, remember.. 

(and if that doesn't help, its always 4pm somewhere in the world...)

Now a little message to the beautiful ladies who I have come to know via this bizarre old land of www.  You might notice over time that due to having some nudity and child pornography splattered on my Instagram account (yep, apparently), I have decided to create a new, private account that will become a photo album of sorts of my life as a mum.  A more intimate sharing of my life.  SBTB will remain however as a source of inspiration and encouragement (as much for myself as for you). As I know many of you have been a huge support to me over the years and you are as normal as I am... (whats normal anyway..?) and if you are not afraid of the odd toddler bot bot, please feel free to follow.  It will be boring,  I warn you but my most favourite job in the world is mothering and as I enjoy what others in my 'field of work' proudly share, as do I. Its just that this way I will be able to say no to the fishin', shootin', drinkin' bad ass that requests to follow a boring old mum of four. Go figure. 
Find me at leigh_vdh .

If you find squishy baby bots offensive, please don't bother. You are wasting my time and yours.

We must help...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I love that I have the opportunity to write here and perhaps help in spreading important news, share moving stories and highlight to you just how amazing some people really are..

I am a mum to 4 young boys so this story below hits hard and I just cant believe how strong these beautiful boys are.  They have endured far too much hurt and hardship for their shorts lives and we must help them get through this tough phase.  

I have donated as I would absolutely, desperately hope that others would support my precious boys if I was unable to and I encourage you, if you are in a position to do so, please donate some money to ease their burden.

You HAVE to watch this short video and you will understand the necessity to help.

If you would like to donate, the link is here.

Go with your heart. Forget buying your take away coffee for the next week and give that money to these very special young men.  Do it for their beautiful mum.

Now, excuse me while I go and get a fresh box of tissues.....
Bless them.

ps. If you have read this, may I ask that you please share on Facebook or Twitter? Lets make good use of Social Media and get as much support as we can for Jarrod, Blake and Dylan.

Thank you,


Happiness is....

the simple things...

Last night I had the honour of comforting a beautiful lady as she was preparing to leave this life.  In my profession, this opportunity can come up with no warning and I'm grateful to have the skills and knowledge to support someone in such a vulnerable time of their life.

This lady I have met many times.  I wont say too much but something that I have gained from her each time we met was her wisdom. She led an amazing life and always had little snippets of advice that I took on board.

During her decline yesterday she said to me 'Darling, just make the most of every day'.  I said 'I do'. She smiled and said 'My best times were those little moments, the simple things you know?'  I agreed. She then drifted into a deep sleep.

I sat, holding her hand and thought about her final words to me.  It is the simple things.  We are always pushing and pushing to reach higher and higher and that's OK, that's the adventure of life.  But in-between all of these moments are what makes our life so special.  The conversations with our children.  The routines in our day.  All of those moments that we will look back on and treasure.  I'm living these moments right now and yes, I admit, I can be so rushed and under pressure at times that these simple moments aren't appreciated and can sadly go unnoticed but it really is important to value them for they really are the best times of our life. And it is all happening right now.  Its worthy of celebrating.

I have LOVED the #SBTBhabitofhappiness moments that have been shared so far.  I'm so thrilled to see people joining in and taking notice of the simple things that make them happy.  Collecting all of these moments really do make for a grateful and well lived and loved life.  That is all we can ever ask for, and by realising just how special your simple moments are, you will enhance the satisfaction gained from your journey.

Here are some beautiful moments from Instagram captured from the past week. Thank you to everyone who is joining in.  Please continue, I am LOVING it and I hope you are too!  For those interested, I would adore to see you join in too. You can go here for all of the info. xx 

'Diamonds dancing on the sea.. Lifting my face to the sun. Not a bad way to start the day'..
Beautiful Vic can be found here

'I had a moment this afternoon with my boys when they "presented" me with this joint picture'
The very talented Cat can be found here

'Flowers from Joel; he makes my heart sing every day.'
The always inspirational Trish can be found here

'Them be exploring legs.'
Gorgeous mumma Bec can be found here

Thanks again ladies xxxx

The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.... ~ Paulo Coelho

Happiness is....

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Sharing & Inspiring..

Do you agree that when we develop a habit, it is hard to change?
In most cases, this sounds negative doesn't it, but in the case of happiness, it sounds desirable.

'Our habits make us.  Like wheels running on the road, they wear the tracks or ruts in which our life moves.  Our character is the result of our habits.  We do the same thing over and over a thousand times, and by and by it becomes a part of ourselves.' J.R. Miller.

I have found over the years, as I re-constructed who I was and what kind of life I wanted, that I have become a much more aware and happier person due to my daily habits.  I understand what gratitude is and with that, naturally an overwhelming feeling of contentment and joy follows.  I also know that in this world, many twists and turns occur that threaten to disturb my positive attitude but as I said, habits are hard to change and so, I remain focused on what is good and less so on what is not.

I want YOU to feel this way too.
Well, by developing your own habit!

And so.........
Welcome to my challenge....

*here's how to play*

~ I want you to capture the moments in your life that sum up what 'happiness is' for you.  It can be anything at all!
~ Share your moment (or moments) on Instagram, on the Six By The Bay Facebook page or on Twitter using the #SBTBhabitofhappiness hashtag and each week I will share some of the lovely images that have made me smile.
~ Once a month, I will highlight some of the photos that have been shared by you all here on my blog! Just think, your delicious moment could inspire many in this beautiful big world! (and you could meet some amazing people that you never knew existed!)
~ Browse other #SBTBhabitofhappiness photos and be inspired! Say hello, connect, benefit from being a part of a positive, grateful community and soak up all of the happy vibes! By taking time to appreciate simple moments of joy, you will develop the ability to look beyond all else and always seek out goodness. This will become one of the most rewarding habits you could ever acquire!

~ It is up to YOU to recognise those magical moments in your life!
~ Share as little or as much as you want!

So, get involved. Tell your friends.  Celebrate just how wonderful your life really is!

'Live the life you love. Love the life you live.' - Bob Marley

Enjoy the ride!

Happiness is....

Thursday, March 20, 2014

This little reminder has been doing the rounds on social media lately and it got me thinking. How many people actually understand it? Do you interpret it purely as fact? Does your response sound something like "oh, ok, I will do just that, when I get the time...."  Or do you understand what this is really saying?

When my mum and I travelled to England before she became really sick, I soaked in her wisdom. I knew that it was an integral time of my life and I came home with open eyes and an open heart.  One particular moment that I am drawn to when I see the above image is this...

One blissful sunny morning, mum and I were walking through St James Park in London and she motioned for us to sit on a park bench.  Now, at that time of my life, I was quite impatient and wasn't overly keen to just sit but I did as she did, that was how it went.  As we sat, I talked and talked and talked, not about anything overly ground breaking, nothing relative to the moment, not allowing her to get a word in and suddenly she said "LEIGH!". "What?", I replied.  "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh", she added. "Stop making noise and when I ask, tell me what you hear."  A little time passed and she questioned my findings.  "Cars, horns, people talking, sirens......." was my answer. "OK, now do it again", she said, "and don't pay any attention to any of that, then tell me what you hear." More time passed, maybe lots, I don't remember, but the second time she questioned me I replied "ducks quaking, leaves rustling, the wind whooshing, water trickling, and I felt the warmth of the sun on my back."  "Good", she said "try to remember how to listen, really listen. Take it all in. Appreciate what is around you. Absorb the magic".

magical St James Park, London

Absorb the magic.....

I interpret the magic of life as those sounds we are not conditioned to hear.  Those moments that flitter by without any warning that are simply and divinely full filling.  The larger scale of what we see, do and feel.  Its necessary to learn how to notice all of this magic.  When you do, you will gain so much appreciation of everything that surrounds you and more importantly, these magical treasures are what you will be aware of above all else.

So, stop. And listen.
The rewards that life will grant you will ignite your soul. Always. 

'So watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it' - Roald Dahl.


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