Monday, December 31, 2012

here's to 2013

Fabio and I packed up the kids, the crab scoop, a bottle of Bollinger, and two champagne flutes, and wandered across the road to the beach tonight.

(Somewhat poignant, as the house has been sold, and we have no idea where we'll be this time next year, or even next month. It's been utterly magical, living here for the last two 1/2 years, and I am sad that we could never get the money together to buy the house ourselves.)

We sat on the beach and watched the sun go down, while the kids ran about, playing in the water and catching (and releasing) crabs, and we talked.

About where we want to see ourselves in a year, in 2 years, in 5, in 10. About where we're heading, and how we need to prioritise.

I don't want to sound like a dick, but we have employees to worry about, and we plan for their futures, as well as our own. It's good to stop every year, and think about what you're doing, and why.

We agree that we are very blessed to have each other, and to have the chance at the life we have (and the one we want).

In thinking over our blessings, that we enjoy good health, wonderful kids, special loved ones, freedom, and freedom from real need, we wish the same for you in the coming year -- that your problems be small ones, or at least that you be given the power to overcome them; that you and all the people you love be kept safe; and that you be given all that you need to be who you are and to make a difference in this world.

Make this year count.

Monday, December 24, 2012

merry Christmas

*insert standard Christmas message*

But you know what? I really mean it. I really do hope you have a lovely Christmas, surrounded by your loved ones. That you eat too much, and maybe drink a little too much, that you play backyard cricket with the kids or laze around in front of the fire, playing Monopoly. I hope your day is filled with love and joy and peace.

I hope you stay safe, and that everyone you know stays safe, and that you get some nice gifts, and that you are able to enjoy giving as well.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas cupcakes

I'm in the process of making a very cool gift for my boys -- Fabio, Mr 19, and Mr 11 -- but I can't tell you about that because I know 2 of them read my blog.
What I can tell you is that it's kind of like a weird stocking -- a box filled with goodies. (no, not a hamper. Well, not the usual kind of hamper, anyway!)

I've been racking my brains trying to think of something similar to do for my daughter, and while grocery shopping, I had an epiphany (not what usually happens while I'm grocery shopping, trust me!)

I collected a nice basket, some cupcake mixes, a pretty apron and oven mitt, and some cupcake decorations.


My Princess will love this. She adores cupcakes and still enjoys cooking with Mum, plus she's almost 8 so mostly all I have to do is make sure she's not eating all the mixture, and help her fill the paper cases.

I wanted to put in some of her own cooking utensils too, but she has a birthday coming up in January, so I might add to the hamper then.

Anyway, I thought this is a good solution for pretty much anyone -- because, who doesn't love a cupcake?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

twelve years

Twelve years ago, I was having coffee with my dad, on my wedding day, and watching my sister faff about with hair curlers.

It was a good day.

We got married on the beach, in the afternoon, and Fabio drove us both down to the wedding in his banged-up ute, so we were there to greet guests as they arrived.

We had no attendants, no music, no bouquets. In my hair, I wore flowers from my friend Jenis' garden, and my dress was red.

When the pastor said 'man and wife" I yelled "WOOHOOOO!" and threw myself on my brand-new husband. (very unseemly bride behaviour)

We kissed a lot. (that hasn't changed)

Every day since then has been The Best Day. Sure, we've had some hard times -- kid trouble, money worries, work problems, miscarriages and bothersome pregnancies -- but our marriage is a joy and a rock for both of us.

Happy anniversary, my heart. I love you to the stars and back. XXX

Saturday, December 1, 2012

the Christmas Feast

Like any sane parent, I normally avoid taking the kids shopping, but yesterday was Shopping Day and it didn't happen like it was meant to as I had my poor little girl home vomiting.

So we ventured out today, and it wasn't *too* bad -- I went in with a short list and came out with a full trolley, but I often do that.
I told the kids I would have to sell one of them to pay for the groceries, and they would have to decide which kid it would be, and that kept them amused (along with other shoppers in the checkout line) for quite a while, till they decided that they would both stay and I would have to wash dishes out the back of Woollies.

I noticed a number of Christmas items on sale, so I grabbed a pav (yes, I know I should be making one) and a frozen turkey roll. We've only just started having turkey at Christmas, and we get the rolls for convenience. They're pretty yum!!

Our menu is mostly the same, year after year. A baked ham (glazed or crusted), turkey, potato salad, green salad, watermelon salad, gazpacho for me, and a selection of desserts which always always includes Christmas Pud and Brandy Custard.

Fabio and I had a talk the other day about they way we usually do Christmas -- which is, presents, then brekky, then a mad rush of cooking to get lunch on the table.

I asked him if we would mind instead doing presents, then brunch, then an early Christmas dinner at about 6 or so. And that's what we're going to trial.
I'm hoping it means I get to relax a bit and enjoy the day, instead of constantly stressing.

What do you do? lunch or dinner? big family get-together or quiet at-home? is your day relaxed or stressed?

Friday, November 23, 2012

best. chocolate cake. EVER.

This cake is not diet friendly!!

Chocolate Coca Cola Cake

preheat oven to 180

mix together

2 cups plain flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon


bring to the boil

1 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup coca-cola
1/2 cup buttermilk

take off heat and add to flour mixture, whisk well.


1 tspn vanilla extract
2 eggs
, lightly beaten (add them slowly and keep whisking so they don't cook)

pour into a prepared sheet pan, and bake about 30 mins.

The cake should be fudgy and dense.

When the cake is done, bring to the boil

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup coca cola

remove from heat and add

4 cups icing sugar

and mix well.

Pour the hot glaze over the hot cake.
Allow it to set.
Serve warm or cold.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Christmas salad on the tree

I've always felt slightly superior to other families at tree-decorating time -- because WE have a Christmas Carrot, and no-one else we know does. (actually, we have TWO, which makes me doubly smug.)

I bought those ornaments in a bag of other ornaments from a chain store years ago, and when the Princess was a baby, she kept pulling one off the tree, which distressed her Big Bother greatly.
"NO!" he kept saying. "Not the CHRISTMAS CARROT!"

Thus it was christened, and thus it has ever been.

It's a good thing there are two, because the kids greet them with huge excitement every year, and I know there would be a fight if we had only one.

I'm waiting for the year they ask, WHY do we have Christmas Carrots? but so far, so good.

Anyway, the other day I saw this thing on Pinterest (it's scary how many of my utterances begin that way..........)

.... which came from here

and I knew I had to have a Christmas pickle.
{If you can't be bothered following the link and reading the story, the gist is that the pickle is hidden on the tree on Christmas Eve, and the first child to find the pickle in the morning gets an extra present.}

I love creating or adapting bizarre or fun traditions, and I think my kids will love this (so will Daddy, who will be roped in to hide the pickle).

Anyway, rather than leave this post till closer to Christmas, I decided to publish it now, because if you want to get yourself a pickle (or, indeed, a carrot or two) you'll need to get busy. I could only source pickles from overseas, and don't even get me started on the postal 'service'.

BTW -- these are often described as a German tradition, but they're not. Pure US of A!

Monday, November 12, 2012


My two best cleaning tips (I feel so Martha Stewart!)

1. to clean a greasy pan (frying or roasting)

make a thick paste from bicarb (baking soda) and vinegar. Apply liberally over the whole pan and leave it a while. Go watch some tv or have a glass of wine.
When you're ready, rinse the pan with hot water and then wash normally. It should be squeaky clean.

2. to clean glass shower screens and doors

get yourself one of those dish washing wand thingys. You know, the one you fill with dish liquid and it has a foam pad scrubby dohickey on the end?

Well, fill it half and half with vinegar and dish liquid. Scrub it onto the glass and leave as long as possible before rinsing off. (have a glass of wine?)

You may need to do this a few times initially, if the build-up is bad, but it really does work. Then just once a week or so.
(the vinegar does the work. The dish liquid helps it stick to the glass)

Right. Time for wine.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I like cake. A lot.


That's me on the left. Eating birthday cake. Thanks Ross :)

So I have a few really good (tried and true) cake recipes, and I thought that I should have a go at making some (with my NEW RED KITCHENAID) and post a recipe from time to time.

And the one I picked to start with is Sand Cake.

I haven't made this in years, because of the very long beating time, and I only had a hand-held beater. But trust me when I say that if you have a proper mixer, this cake is a breeze to make.
It's not fancy, and you should have all the ingredients on hand -- this cake is kind of like a nana-cake -- very comforting.

Do try it?



1/4 cup milk
4 oz butter (NOT MARGARINE, please-for-the-love-of-God)(113gms, or 1 US stick, apparently)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup SR flour
1 tblspn cornflour
pinch of salt
lemon essence OR grated lemon rind (that's what I use)

place all ingredients in the bowl in the order listed, then beat for 10 minutes.

Pour into a greased tin and bake in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes. You'll need to pierce the centre with a straw or a bamboo skewer unless you're a very good judge of cakes, because this one is very light and might not feel firm to the touch.

You can top it as desired, or serve plain.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Oh, noes. The other day, I found myself morphing into one of 'THOSE' people .... you know, the ones who park their precious car across several bays in a carpark?

In my defence, (shut UP spell check. It is SO spelled DEFENCE in Australia)

Ummmm... so what was I saying? Oh yes, in my defenCe, the car I was driving is my husbands' honking big truck that I don't know where the corners of it are.
(thank God there's no grammar check, eh?)

And I really didn't want to scrape up the side of the nice car next to me.

And that is why I took up 4 parks at Bunnings. Yes, 4.

Shame on me!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


What IS it with kids and shoesandsocks?

I have never knowingly allowed my children to go to school without shoesandsocks.
Every morning, it's
"Oopsies, you haven't got your shoesandsocks."

"Don't forget your shoesandsocks."

"Get your shoesandsocks on!"

"WHERE are your shoesandsocks?"

And STILL they try to get into the car barefoot.

Once, in the middle of winter, my son make a gasping noise as we pulled into the school carpark.




"Well, it's just that I forgot my shoesandsocks."

Child holds up small, blue, wet-from-dew, naked foot.

HOW, for the love of God, do you cross a wet lawn and a gravel driveway, in winter, without noticing that you have no shoesandsocks?

We do karate twice a week. Well, the kids do karate, while I sit and read. Every time, I say to them,

"Get your bag, make sure you have your gloves and mouthguard, fill your waterbottle, and put on your shoesandsocks."

Then I repeat about the shoesandsocks until it's time to go.

Every time, they arrive and then whinge as they hop barefoot across the bindii infested lawn.
I don't care. (Well, I do, a little) -- but they KNOW the bindiis are there. And yet they refuse the shoesandsocks.

I just can't figure them out.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

No, you can't have my mobile number

Here are some pictures of people enjoying life.

Taking pleasure in the company of friends and loved ones, enjoying good food and good conversation:

Enriching their minds with art and culture:

Feeling the adrenaline rush of cheering for their team:

Taking a moment to enjoy the beauty of their surrounds and the wondrous world we live in:

"I fear the day when technology will surpass our humanity. The world will then be populated by a generation of idiots." -- Albert Einstein

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Yesterday, I was listening to a radio interview with an American woman who was talking about language. I was interested in what she had to say, but utterly fascinated with her voice.
In my head, her words came out as a string of pearls -- round, hard, perfectly formed, polished.
By contrast, the Australian interviewing her sounded like a flow of water -- the words run together, even and flat.

I tend not to notice Australian voices (unless they're.... you know.... obvious) but with 'foreign' accents, I often really listen to how the words sound, as well as what they mean.
I have a girlfriend with a French partner, and his words sound like liquid. You ever heard a Frenchman speak, you'll know what I'm saying.

It's quite accepted that colours influence mood, and we understand when people are described as being grey or beige. But can you imagine if a letter was always blue? or a number was always associated with the taste of carrots?

There's a condition called synesthesia, where sensory areas of the brain 'cross-talk' - so people might hear a colour, or taste a sound.
You can read a little about it here.

This fascinates me. Our brains are truly amazing.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

grade three

Allison over at The Pink Fibro has asked us to post our 3rd grade school photo.
I don't have any individual photos from school at all, so here is my Year 2/3 photo from the unbelievably Long Ago 1973.

To save you the effort of trying to find me, I am sitting next to my teacher, and wearing a kind of sailor dress that my Mum made (which I loved to bits).
(Clearly the uniform policy was not strong at my school).
Note the squinched up smirky smile. Thus began my glorious tradition of spoiling photos with stupid expressions (mostly accidental, honestly. I am just ALWAYS the one who is blinking or sneezing or licking my lips)

My teacher is Mrs Cahill, and I adored her. She used to read us The Faraway Tree sometimes. She always asked after me if she ever saw my mum anywhere, even after I'd grown up and moved interstate.

So what about YOU? care to drag out YOUR grade 3 photo? link up with Al, if you do.

Friday, October 26, 2012

some advice i really need to listen to myself.

Seems like you can't check Facebook or read a paper these days without hearing about the latest 'outraged offense' or insipid apology for some offense someone may have caused.

You know what? Bullshit.

Most of the time, offense is TAKEN, not forced on us.

Seriously. I'm guilty of this. It may not be a conscious or deliberate choice to feel offended, but I do make a choice to allow it to affect me, I do make a choice to respond, I do make a choice every time I play that remark or image over in my head.

The Outraged Offense Game is being played everywhere -- by politicians, by the media, by social media -- and we're buying into it, by being offended and then demanding the object of our disgust or anger should apologise. Then we feed each other on our outrage, and the next thing you know, there's a full-scale brawl and people are getting more and more offended, and feeling hurt, and attacking one another, and most of the time it's ABOUT CRAP.

Let's just STOP.

If you feel offended, OWN IT. Say, I TAKE OFFENCE -- not YOU HAVE OFFENDED ME. Stop being a victim. Take back some power over your own emotions.

And let it go, unless it's truly worth fighting over.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

design faults

You know how sometimes you go to swallow and your spit suddenly develops corners and tries to choke you?

And how after you have a baby you pee a little every time you sneeze or cough?

And how every month you have emotional holocausts raging inside your head and heart, where you want to stab everyone on Facebook and you cry because you're so depressed you can't take another day?

Seriously.... Creator? you need to review Your plans.

Friday, October 19, 2012

can't kids just be kids?

The other day, I saw an article that left me feeling very perturbed, in which a mother claims her son openly identifies as gay.

"So what?" you might be thinking.

Well, the child in question is 7.

Now, I'm not gay, but I don't imagine that 7 is a typical age at which to discover your sexual orientation, regardless.

7 year old children shouldn't know what sex IS, in my view. My daughter is 7. She believes her stuffed cat is real, and makes faces with her food.

So I have to wonder if the mother of that child has been influencing him?

I know a number of little boys who wear tutus and high-heeled shoes, who prefer to play with dolls and little girls. They don't self-identify as gay. They just play.

I know a number of young men who played with 'girl stuff' as kids, liking make-up and Barbies. Most of them are actually straight (not that it matters!), and believe me, they didn't grow up with strict gender stereotyping.

Personally, it's none of my business if you're gay or straight. I have friends of all kinds, and I like them for who they are, not what gender they prefer or what colour skin they have, or even what politics they espouse.

I just wonder, why can't we leave the whole issue till our kids hit puberty, and let them just be kids?

PLEASE feel free to discuss, and even disagree. But be warned -- if you leave comments that claim hommasexshals are evil and will burn in hell, I WILL delete them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

picture, thousand words, you know the saying.

Most Aussies around my age would have a photo like this stashed away someplace.

Note the stylin' fashion of 197... umm... going out on a limb here, maybe 73?
The haircuts, where we all look like we had a bowl plonked on our scones and someone snipped round it with the kitchen scissors.
The very politically incorrect gun slung round my (boy) cousins' neck.

Pictured here are cousins from 3 families. Our dads were brothers. We grew up fairly close geographically, but not always close emotionally.

The two 'big' girls sitting in front are my cousin Jo and I. We are only a few months apart in age, so we grew up together, and though we had childish spats from time to time, she was an integral part of my childhood.
{In FACT, she taught me to SMOKE, so perhaps I should have been a bit more careful.}
We went to roller-skating and discos together, we went to the footy and perved on Boys, and swimming down the 7 foot (local waterhole).

See the house behind us? that's Nanas' place. I loved that house, adored the windows (one day I'll put some into my own home) and the house was all unpainted timber inside, high ceilings and friezes, and gorgeous old furniture.
There was a massive mulberry tree on one side of the house, which we loved even as it stained us purple, and she had a water-tank turned into a wood-shed down the back that fascinated and terrified me because of spiders.

There was a free-standing wooden garage at the side, with the first car-pit I ever saw. The floor was all timber, and stained with oil and various other mechanicalish fluids. It had a mysterious smell and feel to it, that shed. If I close my eyes, I can almost smell it.

And the car, that apple green ute belonging to my uncle (and apparently it was his pride and joy). That brings back the most memories. My sisters and I often talk about that ute.
We used to go camping a lot when we were kids. Camping always involved that other great Aussie pastime, fishing. Dad and Uncle Bruce were mad fishermen, and they would chuck all of us kids in the back of the ute, and squash us in with a heap of camping gear and some blankets to wrap ourselves in, and off we'd go.
Five little kids, unrestrained in the back of a ute, roaring along skinny little bitumen roads and then bumping along rutted, dusty tracks to some place in the middle of absolutely nowhere, to set up camp and fish for a few days.
Uncle Bruce used to make us sing. If we stopped, he'd eventually notice, and bang on the roof of the ute, yelling "SING! you kids. SING!"
We'd arrive with parched throats and half a ton of dust in our hair, but totally happy. And none of us ever fell out.

How different things are today! I wonder what my own kids will feel nostalgic for, when they look at photos from their own childhoods?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

a vocabulary lesson

In the car yesterday, the kids were chatting.

The Princess said something which I didn't hear, but her brother corrected her with all the weight and experience of his almost 11 years.

"It's not 'BRANG'," he said. "It's BRUNG."

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I live in a really beautiful part of the country.

I know people who've lived in PNG and Africa who call this LegoLand, because it's so clean and neat and pretty.

Even people in the lower socio-economic bracket live comparatively well, housed and fed and dressed.

Today, on my way into the chemist on a Good Deed trip, I saw a man sitting on the pavement holding up a sign, hand-written on a piece of cardboard.


it said.


The man was clean, sober, friendly, well-spoken. I handed him all the money I had, which wasn't much, and he looked me in the eyes, and said, "Thanks, Love. I appreciate it."

I guess some of you have seen this before. I haven't. Not like this.

And yeah, I know, maybe the guy was scamming. Maybe his thing is to sit around in the streets and ask strangers for money, but in itself that's still terribly sad, and to be honest, it doesn't matter to me.

I can be plenty judgy, don't get me wrong. I am not Mrs Big Heart, and I have a deep reserve of cynicism for much of the human race.
But sometimes, the value of money doesn't lie in it's dollar value.

Monday, October 8, 2012


I'm feeling quite flattened by the nastiness in the media at the moment.

I'm looking for things to make me smile.

This sure does the trick....

I really love Batman. Mostly because I would love to be Batman.

Which is your favourite?