May 24, 2016

Read this.

Please, just take a few minutes out of your day to read this.


I know, brings tears to your eyes, doesn't it? 

The sad thing is, she probably genuinely believes she's so extraordinarily busy that she's doing it really tough, juggling all that money and all those holidays and all those nannies and tutors.
It's so awful that she was forced to spend her spare, oil-stained pocket money on a fashion house which takes her away from her children to Milan; clearly a third world backwater, as it has no schools! Lift your game, Italy!
And we mustn't forget her charity work for "anti-blindness".... which begs the question... is there a "pro-blindness" movement I don't know about??

Oh my god, Goga. It never stops sounding ridiculous.




May 10, 2016

Just stop that shit.

When I get pissed off at people I get the urge to write. So I'm back. I don't know how long for... I guess it depends on how long I can be bothered staying pissed off. I'm fairly mellow and lazy these days (OK, I've always been lazy), so probably not long!

I'm back because I can't believe it's 2016 and mothers are still getting hassled, judged and criticised for their choices, mostly BY OTHER WOMEN. I recently read about a woman who was perusing the baby formula varieties at a store and was approached by a complete stranger who felt it was her right to admonish this mum by saying "Breast is best". And the next day I read of yet another mum being humiliated for breastfeeding in public. There's currently an online biffo about some random celeb who dared to admit she looks forward to weekends without her kids....some are empathising, but some are bagging it as well as bagging the empathisers. Why is that even a discussion amongst anyone but the celeb and her partner/child/ex/whateverthesituationIdontknowanddontcare? Don't even start me on the Working Mum vs Stay At Home Mum Cold War. Actually, start me, go on, I dare you...

Barely a week goes by without me reading something about one parent bitching on another's parenting choices, and there are probably far more I don't hear about because, like I said, I'm mellow and lazy, and I don't follow mother/baby/parent/toddler/kids sites or blogs any more, because fuck that shit now, I'm old.

Here are my two laughing kids.



They are now 23 and 21. 
One is tall, one is short. Both are slim and avoid vegetables. Both have university degrees, but in very different fields. One plays a shitload of sport, one doesn't play anything. One reads a lot, one doesn't. Both love movies and video games and chocolate. One is quick-witted and sarcastic, the other is slower, drier, but equally funny. Both are happy, healthy, kind, nice humans. I love them with all of my heart (writing this sentence made me teary).

So here's the thing.

Look at my kids. Can you tell if I drank alcohol when I was pregnant, or took folate, or exercised, or ate too much cake? 
Were they born by planned Caesarean section to fit in with the Husband's work schedule and obstetrician's golf game, or oh-shit-my-water-has-broken-cancel-everything-this-is-really-happening unplanned vaginal delivery? Or a planned natural induction because this bloody stubborn kid just won't budge? Or an emergency c-section because everything we planned just turned to shit?
Did I take all of the drugs offered during the labour (and some that I smuggled in), or give birth naturally while self-hypnotising and listening to dolphin sounds? 
Did I ruin the environment with disposable nappies, or spend all of my waking hours soaking and washing cloth nappies? What did my babies wear? Peter Rabbit originals or op shop hand-me-downs?
Were they breastfed or bottle fed formula? Or a combination? Did I ever use a breast pump or nipple shields? 
Did they sleep through the night from day five onwards like Stepford children or wake me every hour, on the hour? 
Did they have a dummy? Suck their thumbs? Did I use controlled crying methods or did I pick them up every time they so much as murmured?
Were they constantly wrapped close to my body in a $90 non-allergenic, organic, hand woven piece of fabric while I sipped non-fat chai lattes with friends or were they sat in a $400 pram, chewing stale rusks, while I downed champagne with friends?
Was their environment clean and sterilised or were they plonked on the floor amongst the dog hair?
How old were they when they first got teeth, sat up, ate solids, rolled over, crawled, walked, said words, spoke in complete sentences, read the complete works of Shakespeare while simultaneously balancing the family budget?
Did they have gender specific toys or did they play with whatever the hell they wanted? 
Did I work or stay home? Did they go to Childcare or to their grandparents or stay home? 
Did we ever go away for long weekends in the country or short breaks in big cities without them, or did we take them everywhere with us, or did we never go on holiday at all?
Public school or private? Did they have extra tutoring or not? 
Did they watch tv and eat sugary snacks after school or do eleventy million highly organised extra curricular activities like French Horn lessons and Pilates For Pre-Pubescents?
I could go on and on...

You can't answer the questions. You can't tell, can you? And it doesn't even matter to you, does it? It shouldn't.
Because none of that is important to you or anyone else, only to THEIR PARENTS
US
WE DID WHAT WORKED FOR US.
It is nobody else's business what choices we made.
(apart from immunisation. That affects EVERYBODY. Mine are definitely immunised)

Almost every parent is just doing the best they can with the physical abilities, emotional capabilities, and financial resources they have.
Leave them the fuck alone to get on with it.

And hey you, the cow in the store admonishing mums, just stop that shit.



Dec 31, 2015

A directive from me.

Happy New Year and thanks to all those who sent messages and commented after my last post. I really appreciated it. You're lovely.
You know who you are.

Now go and have a really great year, OK?


Dec 24, 2015

Ho Ho Ho

Season's greetings to you all.
You may not see much of me next year (not that you saw much of me this year, let's face it) as I think my blogging mojo is dwindling and will probably be hovering at around zero by the end of summer.
The reason I started this blog is now a faded and somewhat jaded memory. Just like me! Seriously, I'm an old fart now. I'm less inclined to tell any personal stories now because... I don't know.... Is "can't be fucked" a good enough reason? And every time I do, somebody unsubscribes...but that's ok. Even I bore myself sometimes.
However, if I still get the occasional opportunity to review a book or movie, I will be popping my head into your inbox/blog feed/subconscious to let you know about it, because everyone is entitled to my opinion. It would be rude not to share. So please stick around for that.

I hope you enjoy your festive season, whatever it entails.
For us, it's going to be all about Pimm's and pavlovas.

Cheers xx




Dec 17, 2015

Flavours of South Australia

I don't plug my own home state often enough. And I should. It's wonderful. Beautiful scenery, amazing food and wines, excellent festivals, great people. I wouldn't live anywhere else.

So I was very happy and proud to be gifted Flavours of South Australia, a truly stunning book by Smudge Publishing, which is a culinary adventure showcasing what our state has to offer.


South Australia's produce has an excellent reputation locally and internationally, and it is no secret that our premium food and wines are a strong part of our proud identity. Our festivals are second to none, and we love to share it all with our visitors.



This mammoth book of more than 500 pages is a guide to some of the best places to eat, drink, relax, and take in the sights of this great part of Australia.


From farm gates to cellar doors and hidden bars to fab restaurants, from Adelaide city and Hills to the Barossa Valley, from Flinders Ranges to McLaren Vale, and Clare Valley to the Limestone Coast, and everywhere in between, you'll never be short of ideas for a culinary night out, weekend or holiday again. 


The book shares information about every region of the state, a little history, and a lot of really beautiful photography by Amanda Davenport, Christina Soong and Alana Dimou.


You will also meet some of the growers, winemakers and chefs who fill our tables (and stomachs) with such skill and a shared passion for delivering delicious seasonal produce, creative dishes from a wide array of cuisines, and a glass...or three...of locally made wine to all who live in or visit this great state.


And your tastebuds will be tingling so much, you will want to try the signature recipes by the talented chefs which are included in the book.


As I turn each page, I am hit with either something familiar, or something with which I definitely want to become familiar. Basically, I've either been there, or want to go there. My "Must Visit" list is growing, and I can see our family and friends eating and drinking their way through this book for the next five years...and then starting all over again.


If you are looking for a gift for the foodie in your life, or you love discovering South Australia's wineries and restaurants, or you just have a thing for beautiful coffee table books, look no further! 


Flavours of South Australia is available for purchase from most good bookstores or direct from Smudge Publishing's online bookshop.


*$5 from each copy of Flavours of South Australia sold on Smudge Eats bookshop will be donated to the SA Pinery Fire Appeal





Dec 8, 2015

The Natural Way of Things



Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned on a secured property with eight other girls. They have their heads shaved, are forced to wear uniforms, and are watched over by two guards and a 'nurse'. Initially strangers to each other, the women soon learn what 'crime' links them. Slowly, they realise nobody is coming to rescue them, that power and control can take many forms, and they have to use that knowledge to do whatever it takes to survive in this desolate hellhole.

*******

I've taken a long time to write about this book for a few reasons...
1.  I had the flu for three weeks, I've been away, I've been at cricket, and we've been putting some finishing touches to our renovations (there's always "one more thing to do", isn't there?).
2.  It is such a compelling, thought-provoking novel that I didn't want to write a knee-jerk-reaction post, but wanted to mull it over, get my head around it, and know what I want to say.
3.  I knew that whatever I say, my words will not do justice to Charlotte Wood's stunningly descriptive portrayal of a dystopian world of misogyny and victim-blaming. 
4.  I read some reviews that pissed me off. A couple used long sentences and big words for no real positive effect ("look at me, I can write too"), and another, while punchy and brief, gave away several plot points and even a hint at the ending. The ending!! WHO ACTUALLY GIVES AWAY HINTS ABOUT THE ENDING IN A REVIEW??

So, I will not use big words, or give you spoilers. I will say this story is powerful, engrossing, confronting and horrifying all at once. It draws you in, but may also push you away at times. But that is not a bad thing. Sometimes our comfort zones need challenging. Sometimes we need to read of despair and hatred, and how our survival instincts can rise above those feelings, and use them as fuel. 

The writing is brilliantly vivid, and yet masterfully controlled. I'm not even sure I can explain that, apart from drumming out the old writing rule of "Show. Don't tell." And Charlotte Wood nails it.
You can see the isolated prison.  You can hear the guards' contempt. You can feel the girls' fear and desperation. You can taste the rabbit (I never want to eat rabbit again, by the way).

The Natural Way of Things won't be for everyone...but if you're game, I highly recommend it as a remarkable novel you won't forget in a hurry.
I gave it four stars on Goodreads.


Charlotte Wood is the author of four novels and one non-fiction book, and has been shortlisted for many prizes, including the Miles Franklin and the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction.



Oct 26, 2015

The Dressmaker


Whenever the silly question arises of who I want to play me in a movie of my life, my answer has always been the same. Kate Winslet.
And then I think, "Oh, what a jaw-droppingly boring movie that would be. I'm so sorry, Kate, you don't deserve such mediocrity."

In the meantime, I'm happy to watch her light up the screen in other roles, such as her brilliant performance as Myrtle "Tilly" Dunnage, in The Dressmaker.

Based on the Rosalie Ham novel of the same name, The Dressmaker is set in 1951 in the tiny country town of Dungatar, where prejudices, gossip and secrets are rife. Tilly Dunnage's unexpected appearance after a 25 year absence causes an uncomfortable and somewhat hostile reaction from the townsfolk, not the least of which is from her own mother, "Mad" Molly (Judy Davis). 
With an opening line of, "I'm back, you bastards", you know from the outset that Tilly has not returned to her childhood home meekly.

After working under expert tutelage as a dressmaker throughout Europe, Tilly's homecoming transforms the lives of her frumpy neighbours, who discover that clothes maketh the men notice the women. Whilst appearing to be happy enough, for a price, to help the women improve their wardrobes and in turn, their love lives, Tilly's ultimate reason for reconnecting with her ostracised mother and the eccentric Dungatar residents is to unlock the confused memories of her own past, and answer one question... Is she a murderer?

As her relationship with her mother improves, thanks to bonding over fabric and pins, Tilly finds she has two more allies in her quest for the truth; Sergeant Farrat (Hugo Weaving), who has a secret of his own, and Teddy McSwiney (Liam Hemsworth), whose family looked out for Molly after the town had turned its back on her.

And if Tilly can exact some revenge while dismantling the town's web of secrets and lies, all the better...

**********

I truly loved this movie. It made me laugh, and it made me cry. Director, Jocelyn Moorhouse, likens the movie to a "magical realism Spaghetti Western, kind of like Unforgiven with a sewing machine". She has stitched this quirky, funny, sad, unique, and dark story into a big screen success. It had slapstick, clever comedy, heartbreaking drama, excellent dialogue, and brilliant performances by a cast which read like a who's who of Australia's most talented actors; Shane Bourne, Rebecca Gibney, Shane Jacobson, Sarah Snook, Barry Otto, Sacha Horler, Julia Blake, Gyton Grantley... just to name a few.

Weaving is delightful, Hemsworth is warm and lovable (and genetically blessed, hubba hubba), but the key for me is the presence and chemistry of Kate Winslet and Judy Davis. Their scenes together left me breathless, either with laughter or tears, and with a lot of empathetic understanding. Their portrayal of the volatile, but ultimately loving relationship between an ailing mother and a frustrated daughter, both as proudly stubborn as each other, was pure gold and fabulous to watch.

And Kate's Australian accent was the best I have ever heard by a non-Aussie. Totally nailed it.

She SO HAS TO PLAY ME.
Sorry, Kate.





The Dressmaker opens Australia wide on October 29, check your local guides.
Thanks to Universal Pictures for the viewing.








Oct 20, 2015

Give it to me straight #2

Following on from my last post where I simplified weather forecasting, today I'm going to decipher this...


They are better than my old machine, but the settings are still not straightforward enough for me.
What even is e-cotton?? Who wants to waste several minutes of their life reading the instruction book to find out? Minutes when you could be eating chocolate, or drinking wine, or both.
I've come up with a much more explicit list of settings.

Intensive Cold.
- Chilly Autumn Evening Cold
- Antarctic Cold
- Chisel The Dog Off A Fire Hydrant Cold

Outdoor Care. I don't even understand that. Is it for my gardening gloves or can I put the cat in it??

Rinse & Spin. I think I went on a carnival ride with that name. I was sick. (I assume, because I always am...)

Baby Care.
- Baby Spit Up A Bit
- Baby Spit Up A Lot
- Mummy Bought Cheap Nappies With No Leak-Proof Edging
- Mummy Drank Too Much Wine And Then Breastfed And Baby Shat Green Poo On Everything Within A Ten Metre Radius

Wool. A picture of a sheep. RSPCA might have something to say about putting a sheep in the machine...

Delicates. 
Stuff You Don't Want To Stretch Or People Will Think You're Fat
- Stuff You Don't Want To Shrink Because It's Already A Bit Tight
- Things Which Say "Hand Wash" But You Don't Have Time For That Shit
- Things Which Say "Dry Clean Only" But You Ain't Paying For That Shit 
- Things Which Have A Massive Tag With Multiple Instructions You Can't Be Bothered Reading
- Mummy's Things

Bedding. Phew, at least that's obvious. I hope. Dog's bed and Son's quilt are okay together, yes?

Synthetics. So basically, all your 80s clothes.

Daily Wash.
- Son's Smelly Sports Gear With Extra Deodorising Cycle
- Stuff You Couldn't Care Less About, ie. NOT Mummy's Things
- Stuff You Suspect (but can't prove) The Kids Have Been Too Lazy To Put Away And Have Shoved In The Laundry Basket Instead

Stain Away cycle definitely needs a lot of category separation.
- Category 1 Menopausal Women's Wear: Chocolate & Tears
- Category 2 Menopausal Women's Wear: Could Be Sweat, Could Be Light Bladder Leakage
- Category 1 Wine Spills: Pyjamas (WHAT OF IT? IT WAS LATE, I WAS TIRED AND EMOTIONAL...)
- Category 2 Wine Spills: Stuff You Want To Wear Out To A Work Dinner Again
- Category 3 Wine Spills: The Tablecloth, Rug, Curtains and Dog
- Category 1 Poo: Skid Marks
- Category 2 Poo: Suspicious Farts
- Category 3 Poo: Dodgy Vindaloo
- Category 4 Poo: Scout Camp Contagious Gastro

And finally,
DEFCON 5: CAUTION! UNKNOWN STAINS. IF FOUND UNDER TEENAGER'S BED, HAZMAT SUIT MAY BE REQUIRED FOR LOADING! PROCEED WITH CARE! 

Now I understand why there's a Drum Clean cycle.





Oct 8, 2015

Give it to me straight #1

I'm getting old, grumpy, impatient and lazy. Yes, I know this comes as no surprise to regulars.
I want to simplify everything. I don't want to decipher instructions; I want them to be obvious. 
I don't want to concentrate. Basically, I don't want to brain any more. Braining is exhausting.

I watch the weather report at the end of the news, (by 'watch' I mean stare blankly at the TV and sip my wine) and more often than not, I turn to The Husband and say, "Errr... I wasn't absorbing that, what's it going to be like on the weekend?"
I don't want all of this...


What might keep me interested is more straightforward words, with appropriate pictures.

"Get ALL your washing out on Friday morning, but make sure you bring it ALL in by 4pm. Yes, I know there's a lot, but you'll be thanking me for it by 5pm.


If you're staying home Friday night you won't quite need your fire on, but have your ugg boots on standby. If you're going out, take a jacket, because you'll freeze trying to catch a taxi at 2am. Remember last time? You almost took someone's eye out with your nipples... and you are no Jennifer Aniston.



On Saturday, don't even think about washing the car or mowing the lawn, take an umbrella EVERYWHERE, and check that your makeup is waterproof. Heath Ledger was the best Joker, don't try to compete.


Sunday is windy, wash your sheets, they'll be dry in ten minutes flat. Don't go wearing any billowing skirts or dresses unless you want everyone to see your undies. And tie your hair back, nobody wants to see that mess. 



Monday will get warm and damp, like...well, you know. You may not need to go to the gym, as just getting your gym gear on will be enough of a workout. Your hot flushes are going to be BAD, so pack extra deodorant. The humidity struggle will be real. You will need your extra strength frizz-free conditioner and a really good straightener. We are no longer in the 80s.



I would totally pay attention to a weather forecast like that.
The downside?
The Husband would be the one turning to me saying, "Errrr, I missed all that. What's the weekend going to be like?"
Because all he would absorb would be Jen's nipples.



Stay tuned for next week when I simplify washing machine instructions. You're welcome.


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