May 31, 2012

Household Hints As They Apply To Me. Or Not.



It is a running joke in our household that I rush to remove my apron, put on some lippy and heels, comb my hair, check on dinner, and fetch my Husband's slippers when he is due home from work.

The reality is that I think I set fire to my only apron twelve years ago, lippy only gets worn when I go out, I would fall over in the heels, my hair is a fucking forest, I haven't even thought about dinner, and my Husband doesn't own any slippers. And he often works interstate Monday to Friday, so he may only 'come home from work' one night a week anyway.

I am a full-time housebitch, but you wouldn't know it. I don't iron, I hate dusting, the floors get washed only when we start to stick to them, and a gourmet meal from me is ringing Little Chez's Pizza place down the corner. So I always get a massive laugh out of all those old fashioned Household Hints, Tips & Recipe books that have been floating around since the days of yore. I have previously dissected my mother-in-law's old Manual of Domestic Art from 1941 (where I admitted to using my smoke alarm as a timer), and recently found some more priceless treasures from various publications.


From a magazine article in the 50s: Cut open old socks and then sew together to make car wash cloths.
In my world: Old socks go in the bin. I do not sew. It is the Husband's job to wash the car, so I neither know nor care what he uses. His problem.

From the 40s: Meals should be planned at least one day beforehand, that the housekeeper may know what she has to order and what food is available.
In my world: Meals are lucky to be planned 20 minutes before everyone gets hungry, or at all, especially if there has been a Happy Hour wine or three.

From an article in 1915: To prepare fresh coconut, instead of using a grater, put the coconut through the meat grinder. It comes out light and fluffy and can be done in a few seconds.
In my world: Since it's kind of hard to grow good coconuts round these parts, not to mention I'm lacking the perfect meat grinder, I buy packets of desiccated coconut.  They are light and fluffy and I can order one online in a few seconds.

From the 50s:  When grass stains get on clothes, use molasses, rub in well, and leave several minutes to soak before washing.
In my world: We stopped having sex on the back lawn* when the neighbours complained, so no more grass stains. And no molasses anyway. I use Preen.

From an article, undatedSome menfolk are careless in scratching matches at any handy place to light their pipes or cigar. To keep your walls or mantle pieces from being marked up, take a piece of sand paper, frame it neatly, and hang it to the wall in a handy place.
In my world: If any menfolk even pull out a pipe or cigar in my house, let alone try to strike a match on my wall, they will certainly get the piece of sandpaper shoved in a handy place. Up their arse.

From the 50sKeep a small amount of sugar in small glass jars, add a few drops of food colouring and shake jar. Keep several colours on hand for cake decoration.
In my world: Go to the cake shop.

From the 60sTo remove lipstick stain from cottons and sweaters, use a cloth dabbed in rubbing alcohol. Apply gently to stain and it leaves no tell tale circle.
In my world: If the Husband comes home from a trip with a lipstick stain on his cottons, there ain't gonna be nothing gentle about my solution. And I WILL leave a tell tale mark.

From the 50sWhen tyre grease** gets on children's clothes, rub lard on it to remove grease stains.
In my world: Firstly, the only lard is in my arse. And secondly, I think if I had driven over my children, I'd have more to worry about than the stains the tyres left on their clothes.

From the 40s: Most foods are made more appetising by cooking.
In my world: Most foods are made more appetising by me NOT cooking.

From the 50sNever shake or poke a pop-up toaster to empty crumbs, instead use a chicken feather to brush them out.
In my world: I've upset my neighbours enough, I don't think they'd be too happy if their chooks suddenly started losing their feathers.


From the 40s: Your order of work when cooking...
1. Attend to the fire or oven
2. Collect all utensils needed
3. Collect and prepare all ingredients
4. Work neatly and clear away as you work
In my world: My order of chaos when cooking...
1. Always forget to preheat the oven and try not to start a fire.
2. Remember that I broke my last wooden spoon and fossick around in the junk drawer until I find something suitable. Get distracted with attempt to tidy up junk drawer. Find a melonballer and spend 10 minutes wondering why I have it, as I've never used it. Pour a wine. Wander off and catch up on Twitter. Remember I'm supposed to be cooking and head back to kitchen.
3. Realise I don't have all the ingredients (ever tried to make a lamb curry without lamb?) and send Husband or Son on a quick dash to shops. When they come back, send them out again to get one more thing I forgot. Okay, make that two things. Check location of fire extinguisher. Pour more wine.
4. Make an almighty mess, use every pot and pan I own, don't stop to clear away anything, drink several more wines, burn dinner, send Husband or Son out again for takeaway, wake up in the morning to a kitchen which appears to have had a cookware explosion as well as a takeaway tsunami.
5. Replace batteries in smoke alarm.




*We have never had sex on the back lawn, since it is the dog's toilet and I have a keen sense of smell
** I know it probably means grease from kid's bikes, but MY train of thought is much funnier

The May Photo A Day Challenge: Part 2


Fat Mum Slim is still keeping me and my camera busy.


DAY 17: SNACK



DAY 18: SOMETHING YOU MADE... All the craftwork I did in the early 90s seems to have disappeared (thank heavens) so the only things I have made by me are these two charmers.



DAY 19: A FAVOURITE PLACE... The sunlounger, where I sit, read, eat, think and drink... and occasionally fall asleep.



DAY 20: SOMETHING YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT... The 4 food groups.



DAY 21: WHERE YOU STAND



DAY 22:  PINK



DAY 23: TECHNOLOGY


DAY 24: SOMETHING NEW... some new bling for Daughter's school formal.



DAY 25: UNUSUAL... This is the most unusual book I own.


DAY 26: 12 O'CLOCK... Midday still life + dog


DAY 27: SOMETHING SWEET


DAY 28: THE WEATHER TODAY... at 8am we had it all. Blue sky, grey clouds, white clouds and sunshine.


DAY 29: A NUMBER



DAY 30: YOUR PERSONALITY



DAY 31: SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL...A small glimpse of some bling on the Daughter's formal dress, which will be revealed in its entirety next month.




And onto June we go....






May 24, 2012

Things They Didn't Tell You About Parenting


32 Bloggers, most of whom have probably never met.

A crack editing, illustrating, website and publishing team, most of whom have probably never met.

A Foundation established to improve the quality of life of orphaned and underprivileged children, whom most of us have never met, in a place most of us have never been.

One woman who brought to reality what most of us have never dreamed.


What happens when these elements are combined through social media in the most positive, heartfelt, altruistic way?



Things They Didn't Tell You About Parenting ~ an anthology
 (epub, pdf, mobi $4.99)


An ebook where 32 bloggers share their stories on the challenges and joys of parenting. Some are funny, some are thought-provoking, some are poignant. They are all real and honest. The bloggers have bared their hearts, their souls, and their funny bones. And they all said a resounding YES when they knew ALL money being raised from the sale of the book would go to Foundation 18, established by the amazing Cate Bolt.


I have written about Cate and her Foundation here on this blog before and she continually astounds me with her dedication and commitment. Agreeing to be part of this anthology by contributing a piece on my own exhilarating, exasperating and elongating (you'll have to buy the book to read what I mean) stumble through parenthood was the least I could do to support Cate's work. Really, the least.

The next thing I can do is ask all of you, most of whom I have probably never met, to buy it.




May 21, 2012

Blogging Is Like Marriage...



At first, it's new and exciting. You start with just the idea of it, and then you take the plunge and make it happen. You click on that button; sign on that dotted line. You choose a name. You make a new home, playing with pretty colours and pictures to get a certain look. It's a reflection of you. You want it to look as good on the outside as it feels on the inside. You think about it all the time. You have something interesting to share every day and you can't wait to do it. You tell your stories and are listened to. You do your fair share of listening too. You tend it, lovingly and passionately, every day. This new cocoon you have built for yourself is a place of love and laughter and the meeting of like minds.

Over the next few years, reality starts to encroach on your little haven from the world. The honeymoon is over. The rose-coloured glasses have cracked slightly and you start to notice things you don't like. The farting stories have been revealed, your past is now laid bare, and there really seems to be no boundary uncrossed. The mystery and discovery stage is finished. There are less things to talk about and the once scintillating conversation dwindles. Not every critique you receive is positive. You sometimes get tired of listening and of not being listened to. Some days you think it's the best idea you ever had, some days the worst. You still love it, but have to schedule time to do so, and it's less often - and with less enthusiasm - than it once was.

But your attention wanders. That sleazy PR person who's been hitting on you since Day 1, is now getting interesting. The enticements are more promising. You know you need a new spark, something to reignite the passion, and you wonder if flirting with the devil will do that for you. You dabble, just for the self-esteem boost and attention it brings you, but never cross the moral line you have drawn in the sand. You know if you do, there will be no return, you whore.

If kids are involved, a different kind of love emerges. One that revolves around these new lives you have brought into, and introduced to the world, sometimes from as early as the first scan. There is a new closeness you feel, an intimacy shared about what you have been through, and still are going through, and will for the years to come. Suddenly, there is something new to talk about, and you CANNOT STOP TALKING ABOUT THEM.  You share everything they do. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

You meet others at the same stage of both marriage and blogging. You form groups. Tribes. Clans. Competitiveness now enters the fray. 'Mine is better than yours.' 'Mine is happier than yours.' 'Mine is cuter than yours.' 'Mine earns more money than yours.' 'Mine gets more action than yours.'

You will use your children as pawns in times of trouble, such as marital arguments over finances or during writer's block.
"How dare you play golf this week when we can't even afford to buy Timmy new shoes?"
"Timmy, for heaven's sake, will you please take your finger out of your nose and do something cute and adorable in your new shoes so I can blog about it?"

As the years go by, and your children become more independent and perhaps less newsworthy - and less willing to perform for your camera  - the worries about your future in marriage and blogging are the same. What will I talk about? Will I still love it? Will I be sick of it? Will the PR types still be interested in me or will I be past it when both my boobs and blog hits have sagged? Will I have to change things to keep it viable and be happy? Will a new, more mature and interesting era emerge? Will our evolving relationship become the focus? Will it survive? Or will I go back to fart stories and hope for the best?

You will have periods when the conversation flows easily, naturally, and the love is there again. You want to bang... out ideas daily. You can't believe you ever had doubts. And then you'll struggle. You are pulled in so many different directions. You get tired. Your interest wanes. Boredom sets in and there are suddenly a million other things you'd rather be doing. You will stare into the abyss and wonder if that's all there is? Has the well finally dried up or is that just another bloody menopause symptom?

The spark flickers. It could be from a comment, a smile or a gesture. A conversation or a photo, a big or even a tiny moment shared. It could come from a place deep within you, or just from finally getting a good night's sleep now that you've discovered that Sleep-Ezy anti-snoring spray.

You carry on. You accept the ebbs and flows, the highs and the lows, make the most of the adoration when it comes and don't get too disheartened when you're ignored, say your piece when you need to but show restraint when you're unsure, be honest but not tactless, be loving but not smothering, find laughter in everything, and for fuck's sake, don't reveal how much those shoes cost you. This applies to both marriage and blogging, because it will get back to him, you know.*

And when it all ends at some point in the future, as all things must, it will either be very sad, or a blessed relief. Because those fart stories were getting real nasty.





*This has not happened to me. Yet.





May 17, 2012

Insomniacal Epiphanies (get me with the big words n' all..)

It came to me at 3.58am this morning. The blog post I was going to write today. Eureka!

Yesterday I had told someone my well was dry, but there it was, gushing through my head and flooding the well when I should be sleeping. So much so, that I had to get up and pee for fear of wetting the bed.

By 5.22am I had it all written in my head, several drafts of it in fact, and it was perfectly brilliant.

But it was written from a place of offended feelings, disappointment, anger and overall hurt, about friendship, blogging, support, commenting, excuses, platitudes, and the lies people tell, with maybe a slug or two thrown in for good measure. (Private joke, sorry, only Kirsty will get it.)

And at 5.23am I had another epiphany.

Someone else said to me yesterday when I had a moan about it, "The more we care, the easier it is to get hurt."

When I realised how true that is and decided to care less, the well stopped cascading and slowed to a bubble. The fact that my bladder was now empty may have helped with this too, but I digress.

So I'm going to try a reduction in my caring capacity for a while. Don't be surprised if the only comment or reply you get out of me is "yeah, whatever."

And instead of the perfectly brilliant post I was going to write, all you get is this.


Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to catch up on my sleep.

Or, you know, whatever.








May 16, 2012

The May Photo a Day Challenge: Part 1

Yep. Fat Mum Slim has hooked me. Again.


DAY 1: PEACE



DAY 2: SKYLINE



DAY 3: SOMETHING YOU WORE TODAY... at least until George Clooney ripped them off.



DAY 4: FUN... when the radio in the Son's car stops working, you make your own fun. And then have even more fun merging the pics.



DAY 5: BIRD... Say hello, Henry. B-b-b-b-bird is the word....



DAY 6: YOU... the challenge did not specifically state to be an idiot, but I did it anyway.



DAY 7: SOMEONE WHO INSPIRES YOU... Struggled with this all day. I am not one to 'look up' to others, or put people on pedestals, I don't 'idolise' or look outward for inspiration, I don't have 'favourite' people or mentors I wish I could be like. I am very much my own person in this way. whether that be good or bad. Soooooo... I went for the funny lady. BEFORE the Coles ads.



DAY 8: A SMELL YOU ADORE.... my Angel Face rose, fresh with dew, first thing in the morning.



DAY 9: SOMETHING YOU DO EVERY DAY...I posted this - every day I find Bella sleeping somewhere unusual, like in this rusted old wheelbarrow full of potting soil...


...but what I really wanted to post was this...



DAY 10: A FAVOURITE WORD



DAY 11: KITCHEN..  This is my most favourite play around with photos yet. Mebbe coz I love my kitchen?



DAY 12: SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY... The Marriage Equality march drowning out the Jesus freaks in Rundle Mall. Awesome.





DAY 13: MUM... about 65 years ago.




DAY 14: GRASS






DAY 15: LOVE






DAY 16: WHAT YOU'RE READING



May 10, 2012

One Order Of Friendship, Hold The Sap




Do you ever get a bit tired of some of those sappy, friendship emails?

You know the ones.

Incredibly emotional and heartfelt quotes, poems and thoughts about what it means to be a friend, all set to the background music of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No 3 in D Minor, and pictures of majestic waterfalls and snow-capped mountains which appear to have been photoshopped to within an inch of their lives.

They go on forever, and finish with some corny line about how the sender considers you to be in their elite group of friends, and it then encourages you to forward it to your besties, including the sender, and see how many times you receive it back. This will be the mark of true friendship and you will know how much you are loved.

Spare me.

Look, they are beautiful and sweet, but so is fairy floss and too much of that rots your teeth. Don't get me wrong, the message is lovely and people mean well, and there is a time when such inspiration might be welcome. This time for me is on the last Wednesday of every month at approximately 10.38am.

I'm tired of seeing sayings like "A true friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out."

I want to see "A true friend is one who walks in with chocolate cake and vodka and then leaves you to binge in peace because your favourite tv show is about to start."

And all the soppy sentiments that follow phrases like "When you are down..."

I want to see "When you are down... I will piss myself laughing at your clumsy arse."

"When you are down... I will whip out my phone and take a photo of you before you can get up again."

"When you are down... can you just reach under the sofa and see if the remote is there?"

I also don't need an email to tell me bullshit about true friends always being there to listen. Crap.
True friends will not be home in the evening, but you'll leave a message on their answering machine. They will text you back in the morning, but your phone has died overnight and by the time you see their message, they are at work and cannot take personal calls. So you email them, but the email bounces back because the naked fireman photo you attached doesn't make it past their office email censorship. They will call you when they get home, but you are now in a department store which appears to be a black spot with poor reception and people are staring at you while you scream into your phone "WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU SAY? I CAN'T HEAR, I'LL HAVE TO CALL YOU BACK.." You ring them back when you are out in the open, but by this time they are driving to McDonald's to grab dinner and their grumpy teenager answers, grunts at you in monotone, then hangs up to go back to Angry Birds. When you finally speak to each other later in the evening you are both so weary the conversation tends to be spoken in abbreviation.
"Saturday. Free?"
"No. Sunday?"
"Yep. Lunch?"
"Fine. Here?"
"No, here."
"Dessert?"
"Great."
"Time?"
"12 ok?"
"Yep. By the way..."
"Tell me Sunday."
"Good idea."
"Love you."
"Love you too."
And then on Sunday....
"What were you going to tell me?"
"I forget. Pass me the wine."

Face it, that's what real friendships are like.

"People come and go, but only true friends leave footprints on your heart."

No, true friends leave footprints in your fresh concrete and muddy garden beds, fingerprints on your windows and bathroom mirror, and spare beers in your fridge.

"Of all the friends I've ever met, you're the one I won't forget."

Unless I get dementia.

Sigh.

I received the best friendship email from a family member this week (who also sent me a psychopath test, which I... never mind).

When you are sad ~ I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.
When you are confused ~ I will try to use only little words.
When you are worried ~ I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.
When you are sick~ Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don’t want whatever you have.
When you are blue ~ I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.
When you smile ~ I will know you are thinking of something that I would probably want to be involved in.
Send this to 10 of your closest friends.
Then get depressed because you can only think of 4.






Now that's true friendship, without the sap.




May 7, 2012

The Interview Series: Lucy McDonald, Writer, Broadcaster & Food Blogger



I think my interviewing career may have peaked. Unlike my latest interviewee, it is highly doubtful I will ever sit across from Michael Fassbender, Daniel Craig or Duran Duran, staring into their collectively dreamy eyes, asking the big, or even the small, questions. Getting the super lovely Lucy McDonald to take part in my Interview Series may be my Everest conquered. 


Lucy is a wonderful writer and journalist regularly published in the British media, a broadcaster who has reported on everything from politics to pop stars and apparently, mantyhose (pantyhose for men, dontcha know) and interviewed everyone from Prime Ministers to Ryan Reynolds; she is the UK correspondent for Channel Ten's The Project and a food blogger, along with her sister, at the fabulous Crumbs, not to mention a wrangler of two young children. 


All in all, I'm thinking Lucy could star in "I Don't Know How She Does It: The English Version: Y'Know, The Way It Was In The Book". How on earth she finds time to babble with me occasionally over a wine or three (okay, it may be me drinking the wine; it's usually breakfast time for her, but I suspect she'd love to join me), let alone answer my questions, I'll never know. But bless her, she agreed to be my victim, and I have promised to buy her a wine some day, whether it be in London or Adelaide. I just hope she doesn't ask me to go haberdashery shopping with her as well... read on...




Finish these sentences.

My first words were… “Is that a plane, mum?” I was three and a regular Einstein.

My first words should have been… “This soup is too hot.” These were, in fact, Einstein’s first words. He was four.

My last words will probably be… “I told you I was ill.” (courtesy of the late Spike Milligan).

When I was an innocent child I thought… that one day I’d snog George Michael.

My teachers probably remember me as… Tall, ginger, malcoordinated.

I’ve always wished… I could dance.

If I could swap hairstyles with someone for a day, I would choose… Uma Thurman’s black bob in Pulp Fiction.
Although admittedly I’d need a different face/body/personal grooming routine.

I almost peed my pants when… There’s no almost about it. Three days before giving birth, I wet myself in John Lewis’s haberdashery department. Thank goodness for the wee-catching properties of knee-high boots.

The most memorable laugh I got was… Still waiting.

If I had George Clooney’s phone number… I’d tell him
I bet £150 on him winning an Oscar for The Descendants. Boo.

The weirdest thing I’ve done for my work is… too many to mention, most in the name of “journalism”: taken part in a high-heel race, dressed up as Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, gone zorbing, interviewed a pub full of naked men, interviewed Russell Crowe, been taught piano by Lang Lang, been heckled by drunks whilst broadcasting live from Times Square wearing a giant hat at 2am, eaten the world’s largest hamburger, been chased out of a pub to cries of “You killed Diana”.

One moment I’d like to forget is… again too many to mention, although being offered a seat on the Tube by a man, who thought I was pregnant was a low. In my defense it was a tight dress and had nothing to do with the amount of alcoholic ginger beer I’d been swigging all summer. Obviously.

I cannot leave home without… kissing my beautiful children and checking my chickens are safely locked up.

I’m embarrassed that I don’t know how to… be funnier in Q&As like these.

The personality trait most useful in my life is… you mean a positive one? Ummmm. Modesty?

My favourite Muppet is… Mitt Romney.

In the movie of my life story, I would be played by… Olive from On The Buses.

When in doubt… Resort to clichés and remember procrastination is the enemy and that kindness costs nothing.

And finally
Leggings as pants. Discuss.
Pants are trousers, right? Because over here pants are knickers. Either way. Never. Not even at the gym.










                                           ******************




Proper laughed out loud at both Olive and the wee-catching boots, brilliant. Also now have absurd wish to have our wine in a pub full of naked men.
Thank you SO much for playing, Lucy.
Love your work.
x

May 1, 2012

The April Photo A Day Challenge: Part 2




DAY 16: FLOWER... I take flower pics almost every day, so asking me to select one is like asking me to choose a favourite child... not impossible, but difficult...



DAY 17: SOMETHING YOU DON'T LIKE... webs by drunk spiders



DAY 18: HAIR... all natural, btw



DAY 19: ORANGE



DAY 20: SOMETHING YOU DREW... This may surprise some, but I drew a lot when I was young.. and had patience. I drew this in my teenage years and it is the only piece I still have. Amazing that it has survived for over 30 years through 3 house moves. Let's call it "Pencil Drawing On Pale Blue Cardboard, Circa 1978" and sell it for millions.



DAY 21: BOTTLE...  "Sprinkled in sick rooms it imparts a healthful and pleasant odour"



DAY 22: THE LAST THING YOU BOUGHT... I bought a card, not an ass.



DAY 23: VEGETABLE... I think the challenge was to make a vegetable photo NOT boring.



DAY 24: SOMETHING YOU'RE GRATEFUL FOR... This was tough. Went through many options in my mind - Nurofen, Silence Anti-Snoring Spray, Frangelico.... eventually settled on the fact that I've raised two young adults who get along well. Couldn't be prouder or more grateful.



DAY 25: LOOKING DOWN... whenever I look down, there she is. Note the hot pink ugg boots. Mine, not the dog's.



DAY 26: BLACK & WHITE... even the tablecloth blends in.



DAY 27: SOMEWHERE YOU WENT... for the third time in 9 days. To be told I'm normal. Family disagrees somewhat.



DAY 28: 1PM... Big Toe & Bella sunning themselves.



DAY 29: CIRCLE



DAY 30: SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU SAD... I really struggled with this today. I'm not a generally sad person, and as my Son said "Why would you have something in the house that makes you sad?" Good point. There are things out there in the big wide world which make me sad, like poverty and neglect and abuse, but I'm not out there to photograph them. So, as shallow as it seems, the only sad thing about today is an empty wine bottle. Thank goodness I have LOADS more.



And that, folks, is April done & dusted.



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