9 weeks until Christmas!


I’ve been a little quiet on the blog this week. I had my final exam for this Trimester which I think it went quite well so I’m looking forward to getting my results in two weeks time.

I really underestimated how challenging it would be to complete three subjects of a Masters when the term started a few weeks after arriving back in Australia. We then moved to the Barossa, and had to settle in and unpack. I’m just glad I didn’t attempt to do 4 subjects as I had originally planned. One subject over the summer will seem a breeze in comparison.

I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks away from university work especially as we’re enjoying some beautiful warm weather. I’m getting back to all the things I’ve had on hold like repainting old furniture, transforming my office/study space and setting up the spare room.

I’ve also embarked on some coaching with the very talented Lisa Miller from Multiples of Two. Lisa is an old friend so I jumped at the chance to work with her to get some clarity around what I want to do with my career. I took the opportunity of a voluntary redundancy from the public service because I knew I wanted to do something different – but unlike many people who make that change, it wasn’t because I had a weekend hobby or passion I wanted to turn into something more. For me the big thing, and perhaps my overriding intent now is to create a different way of working that allows me to use a range of skills and experiences, while being flexible about when and where I work so that I can explore other interests and spend time with my family.

This blog was always intended to be a part of my career change, so I’ll be writing more about my experiences, particularly as I found there was a real lack of resources when it came to changing jobs when you don’t have a new career in mind.

But back to Christmas. The fruit continues to soak and apart from a couple of small present purchases picked up at random this week, I haven’t focused too much on our planning. I’m lucky that I don’t have many people to shop for and much of my shopping was done before we left Hanoi, so that part of the preparation should be easy.

My first shopping task though is to fill an advent calendar for the boys. A big influence from my time in Denmark was counting the days from 1 December and most Danish homes will have things like candles that you burn each day until December 24 and even decanters where you can have a little nip of whiskey or something similar to mark the days. Most families will also have a “pakke” or package calendar and each child will receive a small gift each day.

I was very excited to find this one at the International Bazaar in Hanoi a few years ago. However finding two lots of 24 small gifts can be a bit challenging and I usually resort to a few chocolates. Last year other gifts included stickers, cars, pencils and other novelties. I’m definitely missing the toy shops of Hanoi’s Old Quarter around now. Leave your comments below if you have any suggestions for small gifts ($2-5) for two boys (4 and almost 6).

Danish advent calendar - just need to find two sets of 24 gifts
Danish advent calendar – just need to find two sets of 24 gifts

I’m really hoping to write a bit more regularly in the coming weeks, and next week’s Christmas post will look at buying great gifts for kids (without going overboard).

Have a great weekend and I look forward to reading your comments below.


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I started this blog almost 3 years ago when we first arrived in the Barossa Valley. I've always wanted to write and I wanted to share my experience of my career change, our move to this beautiful wine region and discovering my next adventure. After 15 years as a public servant working in Canberra, Beijing, China and Hanoi, Vietnam, I decided it was time for a career change and more importantly, a lifestyle change. In 2014, we left Hanoi and headed to the Barossa Valley in South Australia with a dream of a more fulfilling lifestyle in one of Australia's premier food and wine regions. My husband and I both work in the wine industry - where my job could be described as anything but making the wine. In 2017, I decided to wind-up the consulting business I established in 2015 and focus on learning as much as I could about the wine industry and writing - both on this blog and a memoir of our time in Vietnam. This blog is an opportunity for me to share my writing - about everything from motherhood, to career change, fitness, travel and our vine-change/career change experience.

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