Friday, July 27, 2012

how to cure tears with a panda and a frisbee

My Princess adores pandas. They make her voice go long and squeaky, like it's been drawn through a mincer, and she asked Daddy to bring her one from China on his next trip.

This morning, we got up to tears. She doesn't want to go to school (this has been happening all week), her shoes were too small, she didn't want to wear Olympic Stuff for Dress-Up Day, her leg hurt.

She cried on the way to school, and I felt like a heel for making her go.

On our way into class, we spotted a panda, lying on the wet grass. It looks like it's come off a keyring or a necklace. The Princess picked it up, and I suggested we take it to the office and hand it in. She agreed right away.
"Think how sad the person who lost it might be feeling!"

She handed it over to the secretary, and told how the story, and how she really loves pandas, and if no-one claims it, maybe she could get to keep it?

The secretary was tickled pink that she handed it in instead of keeping it, and made a good deal of fuss about how honest my Princess is, and how we love honest students at our school, and then one of the teachers gave her a pop-up frisbee.
AND she got her name written on the piece of paper that the panda is taped to.

On the way to class, we talked about how good it is to be honest, that you don't always get a reward but sometimes you just get a good feeling in your heart for doing the right thing (can't have her thinking she'll get a frisbee every time).

Her tears were long gone. I left her in the classroom happily telling everyone about her frisbee.
Hooray for pandas! and frisbees. And teachers and secretaries. And Princesses. Of course.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Sixteen years ago, I went to my first funeral. I don't remember a lot of it.

I remember being so freaked out because I would have to see the coffin. And I knew it was going to do my head in.

It did.

I remember seeing it for the first time. It was so tiny, and sitting up all on it's lonesome on a table at the front of the church, and I felt like my knees were going to give out on me, but they didn't. Good knees.

I remember driving out to the cemetery, and the sun was shining. How could the sun be shining when the whole world, by rights, should have been dark and cold and empty?

I remember everyone coming back to my little house, and how nice it was not to have to be alone for a while.

I remember asking someones' husband to take photos. He looked at me funny, but he took them. Only a few -- but I have them. Which is lucky. Because most of the day would be lost to me otherwise.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

how to get happy

Fabio left today, which always makes me sad.

So I went shopping, which didn't cheer me up nearly as much as you might think, because it was grocery shopping.
And in the car, I played The Lonesome Jubilee (John Cougar Mellencamp) as loud as I could.
It was SO loud, it was almost painful.

And I sang loud too.


Best song on the album? Check it out...

Monday, July 23, 2012

where did I come from?

Ever since I was a little girl, I've been fascinated by the idea of ancestors. I was lucky enough to have known my maternal great-grandparents (though not as well as I would have liked) and very taken with the idea that they'd been born in Another Country.

I loved hearing stories from my nana about When She Was A Little Girl, it tickled me a little to think of my nana having been a little girl but it also gave me a sense of place in the world.... that I had come from a long line of people who were connected to me, however tenuously or however long ago.

I still feel that connection, to people who lived and died long before I was even born.

Both my cousin Jo and I have developed an interest in researching our family trees. She's far more together than I am, and has done a lot of work on our dads' side so I've been concentrating on my mothers' family.

I've learned a few things along the way. is a fantastic resource. And while the free version is good, it's worth paying for the upgrade, if you're serious.
You can connect to people who are researching the same people you are, and thus your tree will expand quickly, with all their photos and documents available to you.

Another invaluable resource is NAA -- the National Archives of Australia.
There are millions of records and photos held here. If someone else has already looked for the person you're interested in, you may be able to obtain the records free, but otherwise you will have to pay a fee, and it isn't cheap. (at the moment, abut $16 per item -- but that might be a single page or an entire file)
I've downloaded war records, naturalisation certificates, POW records, and many other documents that are very interesting to someone who's researching family history.

Just today, I received internment records for a great-great-great-uncle, who spent several years in a camp in Victoria, and in fact died there. There was a copy of the local police report, translations of letters he'd written to family in Germany, as well as camp records. Fascinating (and sad) stuff.

I don't have any famous ancestors. They are all ordinary people, living ordinary lives. But to me, their stories are quite extraordinary.

Monday, July 16, 2012


I keep crying.

In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd say I was pregnant.

(I'm not).

(Yes, I am sure).

I just keep crying.

Cried at Brave (though so did my daughter, so we snivelled together).

Cried when the fire went out and I had no firelighters.

Cried at the dorky ad I saw on YouTube, FFS.

Cried when I saw the approximate address where my great-grandparents lived before they emigrated to Australia! (a graffitied concrete wall, with a window in it).

I think I need some sleep.

sneezing and snobbles and coughs, oh my.

First head-cold of the season. My sinuses are cloggy and my face hurts and I can't sleep.

Poor me!

BUT -- it's not breast cancer. (in the last few months, far too many of my friends have been going through breast cancer treatment)

Thinking of you all. x

Thursday, July 12, 2012

how's YOUR week been so far?

1. I've spent hours Googling, to end up with a Gallifreyan translator. Now I can write ANY WORD I WANT in Gallifreyan! OH the giddy excitement.

No, REALLY. I am so excited!

2. I spent more hours (many) (happy) Googling and downloading TARDIS pictures to stick in my SMASH book. Some have quotes from the show. Happy face.

3. I had an interesting conversation on Facebook that started talking about dyeing testicles and finished with someone getting an eyeful of pierced clitoris.
Not. Even. Kidding.

4. I finished re-watching series 9 of Grand Designs. Happy face. Seriously, how could you get MORE creative than to design and build your OWN HOME??

5. Still reading A Song of Ice and Fire, trying very hard to eke it out because book 6 is not yet published.

6. I've created some papery pieces and helped The Princess make a birthday card for her friend. I love it that she's so into making things herself. Though I wish she would STOP TAKING THE GOOD SCISSORS!

7. I took the kids grocery shopping and survived. Spent a fortune, but survived! Mr 10 got a New Book, which he is devouring. YES!

8. I knitted 2 more rows of The Princess' scarf. At this rate, she'll be able to finish it herself for her own daughter.

So how's your week going?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

this is how my brain works

Oh, you can relate?

Some of my current obsessions:


True Blood (books AND DVDs)

this guy

and this one


creepy dolls

and this guy

What about you? what are you fascinated by/obsessed with this week?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

zombies won't get me.

I know Some People thought (think) I was (am) a bit nuts for planning for a Zombie Apocalypse.
But with Certain Events in the news lately, you might be thinking again.

And if you're not, that's cool too -- because I am.

My latest plan involves winning Lotto and then buying one of these babies -- zombie-proof strongholds.

You can view the full list here

And my personal favourite...

Some of us are taking this seriously....

Saturday, July 7, 2012

re-run recipe

Two years ago, I published this
(and I'm running it again because I can't think of much to say and also because I am once again reminded that my kids are hilarious. And weird.
Plus it's a yummy recipe.)

"Tonight, I cooked dinner while Fabio dealt with a large pile of paperwork. I made Middle Eastern style lamb. (recipe below)

"Mum!" said the Princess. "This is so good. You should defintly open a restaurant. On the days when Dr Who is not on. You should open the restaurant tomorrow, Mum."

Handsome Son chipped in. "Poor old Dad will have to get some cement and some bricks. And some tiles. And build it tomorrow. He's gonna be worn out."

"Well," said The Princess. "The restaurant is going to be a big hit."

So here is the recipe:

750 g lean lamb strips
2 tspns olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 onion, sliced
1 x 425g can crushed or chopped tomatoes
2 tspns honey
2 tspns cinnamon

gently fry the onion and garlic together till soft.
fry the lamb in batches till browned all over
add tomatoes, honey and cinnamon, and a little water
simmer for about 15 mns

serve with rice

1 1/2 cups quick brown rice
250g frozen spinach
2 tspns lemon juice
small handful chopped coriander
1 tablespn sesame seeds

cook rice, drain and return to pot
add spinach, juice and coriander, cook for 5 mins

serve with lamb and sprinkle sesame seeds over top

If you make it, and like it -- let me know (: "

Friday, July 6, 2012

once upon a time....

Last day of term at our school, and Dress Up As A Book Character Day.

My delightful daughter has a box full of dress-ups and a PaperBag Princess costume left over from pre-primary, but no. She wanted to be Snow White's nemesis, the Wicked Queen.

Here she is with her 'familiar' (a blue frog) and a poison apple (complete with sticker). This is the second attempt at a poison apple -- her brother ate the first one. So far he's not showing any side effects, but time will tell.

It was interesting once we got to school, seeing all the different costumes.
There was the usual collection of Harry Potters and Star Wars characters, but I noticed a LOT of fairy tale people this year.
We spotted Red, Rapunzel, a couple of Prince Charmings, Snow, Cinderella, and of course my little Queen.
And I think it's because Once Upon A Time is showing on tv at the moment.

It seems the old-fashioned fairy tale is making a come-back.

I've read the arguments against fairy tales, especially those by the Brothers Grimm. They're bloodthirsty, they are filled with tales of fractured families and abandoned children, tales of murder and cannibalism and dark magic, and they're too scary for kids.

Maybe they are. But I grew up reading them, and I loved them as a child. I didn't have nightmares about fairy tales at all. Maybe that was because I had more real, actual problems to worry about, or maybe it's because kids are better at understanding stories than we give them credit for.

There is something in all of us that likes a little frisson of fear.
How much is up to each individual -- we might like to watch a scary movie, but balk at sky-diving.
Humans are built to enjoy exploring fears and phobias, as long as we know that someone is in control.
As adults, it's us -- we can turn off the tv or close the book (or laptop) or not go on that ride.
For our children... well, it's still us. We are the Grown-ups, their hedge against monsters and witches and things that go bump in the night.

Stephen King has a wonderful passage in his book, It.

"It was story hour, and over in the corner a group of roughly a dozen little ones sat solemnly on their tiny chairs in a semicircle, listening.
'Who is that trip-trapping upon my bridge?' the librarian said in the low, growling tones of the troll in the story...
Some of the children covered their mouths and giggled, but others only watched her, their eyes reflecting the eternal fascination of the fairy story : would the monster be bested..... or would it feed?"

As a mother, I want to do the very best for my kids.
I don't want to wrap them in cottonwool and coddle them and protect them from all manner of nastiness.
My kids understand failure is not the end of all things -- it's an opportunity to learn and start again. They know that beauty is not the yardstick we should measure others by; they know that fair is getting what you need to succeed, not having everything handed to you on a plate. They know that to get ahead in this world, you have to work hard and treat others well and that sometimes you'll get taken advantage of but that doesn't stop you from doing what you know to be right.
And they know that there are dark things in the world, and we need to help each other out to get by.

I'm not in favour of fairy tales being sanitized.
I'm not in favour of the scary bits being censored.
But I do think it's up to each parent decide if they want their OWN child to read scary stories.
After all, who knows YOUR child better than YOU? Certainly not me.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Eat your hay, Neddy...

I do not get why people eat muesli bars.
I mean, if they blow your hair back, good onya, but to me they taste like something out of a chaff bag.

Yes, even Nigella's!

The only good thing to do with muesli is this:

get an unsweetened, untoasted muesli with as much fruit in it as possible (but not paw-paw)
(because it's GROSS, that's why)

(it's probably not even paw-paw, you know. It's probably flavoured cardboard)

Anyway, pour some water on top of your muesli -- oh, wait -- first put the muesli in a microwave-able bowl. NOT PLASTIC. Just in case They're right about plastic in the microwave causing cancer, or whatever.

Now add water. Enough to just cover the muesli.

Now put it in the microwave and cook it for a couple of minutes.

Now, add your cold milk and sweetener (if you must) and eat it up.

It's pretty filling and very yum on a cold morning.

Monday, July 2, 2012

are these YOUR fingerprints, Miss?

disclaimer: THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST. I don't do those.

Well, except for that one time when I did a vibrator post. But, you know, that was different. There were ... *ahem* .... benefits.

I bought some of those Viva TV wipes today. You might have seen the ads?

Well, my god! they WORK. Yes, really.

And here's why -- the stuff on the cleaning cloths (whatever it is) doesn't evaporate off the screen as fast as a spray on glass cleaner, and so you get a chance to dry it with the (provided) microfibre cloth, and avoid streaking.

(Please, yes, for the love of all that's beautiful, let's avoid streaking. In any form.)

Of course, I DID clean the telly stone cold, it hasn't been on all day. That probably helps.

But yeah, I'm sold.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A prickly problem

For quite a few years now, I've had a little problem with nana whiskers.
I started growing them in my mid-30s, and while they were a bit of an affront, I've mostly been able to deal with them.
(by 'deal with them', I really mean, agitate over them till they're long enough to pull out)
But yesterday, to my utter horror, I found an actual bristle sprouting on my top lip.
A MAN whisker. Not borrowed from my husband.

Yanking it out hurt like billy-o and made my eyes water, and the good feeling I got from having it gone was tempered with the knowledge that the damn thing is probably a scout and that more are on the way.

I only hope I don't wake up one day looking like Chewbacca.