Saturday, October 31, 2009

All done bar the cleaning up.

Party went spectacularly well. Here we are about to embark on singing and cake cutting - alas I have my fake nose around my neck and so it looks like I have a very unfortunate goiter rather than being wicked witch of the west.

The boys bending over the yellow bucket are apple bobbing - surprisingly we didn't drown anyone - and once the kids got the hang of grabbing the apple stem in their teeth they had it all mastered.

The sack race and the eyeball-and-spoon races were hilarious. Had to overlook much cheating - kids today - I despair!!

But the best bit was the end.  Door-to-door trick or treating is not a big thing in Australia, but the kids had all heard about it and wanted to give it a try.  So I set up three adults to be victims (myself included) and let them have free rein.  Within five minutes I was soaked to the skin and covered in a thick layer of glitter.

Glitter itches like you would not believe.  That is my principle lesson for today.

There was much laughing and running around and a lot of lovely things eaten and it was just a wonderful day.

Can't wait for next year :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Still going

Just have to finish decorating the cup cakes...

And then ice the biscuits and the food is done.

Taa Daa

I am so knackered, but it doesn't look too bad.

Sherbet Cones

I have them!!

Words cannot describe my delight.

F*ckity F*ckity F*ck

Slight chocolate bat making disaster

So now we are just having two bats AND

A halloween sperm.

Is it just me or can you smell burning cake too?


Its all going to be JUST FINE

Still have to make the cake...

And cannot find sherbet cones to make the pointy bits on the top.  SHERBET CONES. Why oh why can I not find sherbet cones? Was it something I did wrong in a past life? This life? I must have them. The cake will not be perfect without them and then I will have let down my small and innocent child who is depending on me to deliver the ultimate birthday cake. Why are you doing this to me Universe? Whhhhhy?

 Hmm, I'd just like to mention that I was up until stupid o'clock last night cleaning bathrooms and may be slightly over-tired.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Party prep

Been cooking up a storm.  Preparations for The Halloween Party are ticking along.

This morning I have (LOOK, list)...
  1. Made thirty jelly cups... just have to add the green custard,

2. Baked twenty-seven cup-cakes. Yes there was enough batter for thirty cup-cakes but I was doing it with a three-year-old helping... well that's my story and I'm damn well sticking to it. Why? What are you saying?

How cute are these patty pans.  This is one of the three left-overs.

3. Did have a total and utter sausage roll disaster tho.  Not only did they come out tasting horrible and bland, but also I was not confident about the freshness of the meat.  It tasted fine, but I just wasn't happy about the fact I'd be freezing and thawing again.  Yes, thirty odd food poisoned pre-schoolers. Nightmare.

So turned it into a gigantic spag bol

And am having a finger food rethink.

All with the help of Miss 3.5, plus maintaining two conversations on messenger, tweeting, and being updated about the progress of the cattle yards at Mumndads by hubby.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hug him or Strangle him...

Yesterday I was having one of those afternoons where you're doing six things at once, and  hitting the point of multi-tasking overload as the kids hit witching hour.  Just one more thing would send the entire house into meltdown.  So enter Sebby...

He was lying in his fave spot on the rocking chair - where he can keep an eye on things in the kitchen and be on hand to bark at anyone that needs barking at in the street - when out of the blue he started yelping in pain. We were at a loss and could only think that he'd eaten something - lego, another one of barbies shoes - and it was giving him a terrible tummy ache.  He calmed quickly, but it so obvious things weren't right, his body language was saying that he was in serious pain, tail tucked between his legs, head down, panicky eyes.  It was horrible.

To see how he would react I offered him a tiny piece of chicken and then when he rejected that, some bacon. He tried to eat but could only hold the food in his mouth, and that was when I got really really scared.
Its been nearly a year since we lost our little spaniel Ella to a tick. I've been thinking of her lately as her rose is looking totally awesome atm.

So understandably when Sebby couldn't swallow and was moving strangely the first thing we thought was that he'd got a tick.  Cavaliers rarely survive ticks, they're more susceptible to the poison and so when we rang the vet we were so distressed that she could barely understand us.

Bless her, she dropped everything and rushed back to her surgery to meet hubby only twenty minutes later, whilst I fretted quietly at home.  The kids were oblivious - it was confusing enough for them when Ella died and we felt it best to wait how this one turned out before telling them what was going on.

Now Sebby has the unusual past-time of catching bees.  He scuttles around the garden pouncing on them, I've told him and told him that it'll end badly, but he hasn't been listening.  Hubby rang from the vet to say that Sebs had a bee sting lodged in his tongue and his throat and mouth were swelling up.  They knocked Sebs out, removed the bee sting and dosed him up on antihistamine and then home he came.  Where he spent the rest of the evening wobbling around stoned out of his little pea brain.

Yes, so to hug him or strangle him... I still haven't decided.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Everything is different and yet still the same

It wasn't until I got to my twenty year reunion yesterday and saw the photo on my name-badge, that I realised that I have the exact same haircut as when I was 17.

Its probably a good thing I'm not one of those people who are all caught up in leaving the "old me" behind, as clearly the old me is following me around and influencing my hairdressing decisions. sigh.

I do vividly recall having that Year 12 photo taken, mostly because I had pimples on my forehead in the shape of the southern cross - the stars on the Australian flag. Sadly you can't see them in that photo which is taken from our yearbook.  You can see them in the original, but it is locked away and is unlikely to see the light of day unless hell happens to freeze over in the near future.

The reunion was a lot of fun. Made some wonderful connections with old classmates, swapped stories of life, careers and children, and managed to get all pissed up on two bacardi & cokes, one glass of champagne and two glasses of wine over a five hour period. I rarely drink these days, but even so, I'm totally impressed with my own complete lightweightedness.

It was a good night - despite being haunted by the awkward ghost of my adolescent self.  There was a good will and camaraderie between everyone that I shall value for a long time to come.


Next up is the Halloween party.  Brace for photos of half cooked food - yes, the oven is still borked but Ian the oven man has promised to come on Monday - and much swearing about why the f*ck I do this to myself.  Ah, its going to be an amusing week.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Survived the hairdresser and the kindi orientation.  Hairdresser was as expected with conversation as predicted yesterday. HOWEVER with one small, tiny, teeny-weeny difference.  The hairdresser had cut a small boy's hair before me, and had made the charming discovery he had NITS.

I was assured that all precautions had been taken, but as one who got pregnant whilst using birth control I know that sometimes all the precautions in the world are still not enough.

Here's a photo of the new do - this is the longest I've had my hair for years and years.  That small child is pulling faces and admiring herself on the screen.

The kindi orientation was wonderful. I'm so excited about the kids new school.  Today Miss 5 had actual lessons (French - yes French, and Music) and hubby and I listened to talks on how children learn and building resilience and self-esteem in girls. 

I'll blog more about it later, as there were some wonderful ideas, but I'm too tired to put them together comprehensively. Its been a long hot day and right now the wonderful sax player down the way is practicing and the sound is drifting in the open window on a cool breeze. I'm going to go and enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Filling in Forms

Tomorrow we have an orientation morning at the Screamies primary school. Being an organised and on top of things person I have been carefully keeping all the forms under my bed for the last eight weeks and have only just now fished them out and dusted them off - BUT I did know where they are, so snaps for me.

Holy crap. How many forms???  (Yes I know that you cannot possibly know, but I do have a checklist and can tell you accurately that it's 13, THIRTEEN).

Why oh why do I leave this stuff to the last minute. WHY.  Oh how I hate myself.  Hate, hate, hate.  And I hate myself even more because sitting on my desk are four packets (formerly five) of American Candy Corn which is made of sweetened condensed milk with added sugar and more sugar added to that - and I can feel myself weakening and justifying that no one will ever know that there was once four packets when now there are three - oh what the hell, we all know I have the self-control of a six year old when it comes to sweet stuff.

But its not just the forms.

For this week The Universe in its infinite wisdom has thrown at me
  • Rewrites of The Grey Man (story previously called But I Thought You Were A Nun - which was a ridiculous name, I'm with you there - in The Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romance)
  • A High School reunion - which has required a new outfit, decisions about shoes (red killer heels that hurt like buggerit or sensible flatties) and nail polish (match lips or match dress), and trying to organise a couple of dear friends for nerve-settling drinkies beforehand which has ended up like herding CATS.
  • A Kindergarten orientation - which is exciting and just a bit daunting (hey I'm an introvert, I hate meeting new people - oh okay meeting everyone)
  • A haircut - Dear Hairdresser, yes I am a natural blonde, yes those are natural highlights, yes I am lucky but frankly it just grows this colour and I don't even notice. No it is not too thin and does not need more hightlights/dying to make it thicker - unless you are suggesting purple in which case I am with you there. What? No purple. Yes, you know what I want better than I do so I'd better just shut the hell up. Yes I am happy with my shampoo that I get for $7.50 from the health food shop (Melrose - its awesome) and do not need to have my life completed by the $40 for a teaspoon one that you have just strategically placed in my line of sight. No I do not use gel, mousse or even a hair dryer. No never. Why? I'm saving the environment love - no, that was sarcasm dear, because I think life is too short to be endlessly fiddle-arsing about with my hair. No I am not going out tonight, I never go anywhere I have small children and yes people like me really do exist.  And please god do not start on about your ex boyfriend who knocked up your best friend and then you slapped her in that hair salon you worked in in Manchester. You've told me versions of that story every single time I come in here. 
  • Plus gearing up for The Halloween Party, which means I'm starting to do some of the cooking and wondering how the hell I'm going to entertain twenty odd children aged between three and five
  • All on top of my five pages a day of Drive Me To Distraction - which is actually more work than I realised.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What Goes Around...

I joined the Hornsby group of Freecyclers a few months ago, and I love getting the regular newsletter in my inbox telling me what people are giving away or what they want... from concrete slabs, to beds, to unwanted power tools, to sushi making sets.

A few weeks ago a lady up the road asking for egg cartons caught my eye.  I compulsively collect egg cartons, but since three of Mum's four chickens fell victim to predators (eagles and foxes) my boxes are no longer in demand.  So I had a pile of five next to the front door.

As soon as I saw her request I whizzed off an email and by lunchtime Miss 3.5 and I dropped off our boxes.  Then, this morning we found these eggs on our doorstep with a thank you note.

How awesome is that? :)

Freecyclers - to find your nearest group:
Hornsby Freecyclers:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Talk

Big moment for me yesterday.  Trip to Borders to buy Where Did I Come From?
"Ah," said the shop assistant. "That time has arrived."

Well it had. Kind of.

You see it wasn't Miss 5 had actually asked the question, but I was listening to her discussing the difference between boys and girls with her sister.  Hair length seemed to be the determining factor, but she knew girls could have short hair too, and there things trailed off into a confused silence.

So we get the book home and I'm not even given the chance for a calming cup of tea before I am steered in the direction of the rocking chair and handed the book.  In fact we didn't get very far.  She was only interested for a few minutes and then went off to find something else to do, and I left it at that.

I didn't think she'd taken that much in until later on; Her latest passion is rhyming words and we're going through her usual list... bat-mat, star-car, shoe-poo, chocolate-pockolate... when she turns to me and says "vagina - ?"

Damned if I can think of anything that rhymes with vagina except for angina - which then opened up another whole can of worms.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wallacia Hotel

Lately we've been inflicting ourselves on my poor poor parents.  Though they assured us that three days in our company is delightful, there was a certain brusqueness to their farewells that had me thinking it'll be feet up with a very large glass of wine the moment we take that left turn out of the bottom of their driveway.

They live on acreage in the outer western suburbs of Sydney.  It's an area my family know well as my Grandfather owned a dairy farm near the village of Mulgoa from the early 60s until lately.  As a teenager I spent every weekend out there riding my horses, Coolah and Sinbad.

The various dairy workers on the farm were a diverse and colourful bunch and many tales of them have entered our own family legends. One that is still told is of Old Jim.  Now I never met Old Jim, but I knew the tiny one roomed house he lived in on the farm - left just the way it was the day he died - as my sisters and I would sometimes go and explore it.

Old Jim was quite a character. He was devoted to his horse who drank beer from a glass and finished it off with a swipe of his large pink tongue - if you were visiting and were offered a drink, the same glass would be given a quick wipe and your beer would be poured into it. On a Saturday night Old Jim would set out in his sulky - a small cart - pulled by the afore-mentioned horse.  They would travel along the then unpaved Mulgoa Road to the Wallacia Hotel where he would spend his hard earned cash.  When it was gone and he was slightly the worse for wear, he would be rolled onto his little cart by the staff at the hotel and his horse would carefully transport him home.

Well the Wallacia Hotel has had some ups and downs since then.  Years ago the place had an extremely rough reputation and was known only as a bikie pub - but those days are long behind it now.  These days it is just a very beautiful local pub for the townships of Mulgoa and Wallacia.

The building is just begging for someone to take it over and renovate it, maybe get in a decent kitchen and turn it into something really spectacular.

Well guess what??  Its not finished yet, but someone has started to turn that dream into a reality.

Mumndad took us there for dinner on Tuesday night and we had a chance to have a nose around at the changes the owners have made so far. 

The building progress is coming along slowly.  But the parts of the hotel which are finished are just stunning.  Dad was there this morning (picking up a pair of shoes that mysteriously got separated from their owner during dinner) and said they're totally re-doing the kitchen.  The place used to be aglow with pokies, but now there is a tiny room with about ten of them.

Its so exciting to see such a magnificent place being given the boost and TLC that it richly deserves.

If you are in that neck of the woods its well worth stopping in for a look. But be warned - its a work in progress - the food is good but plain RSL fare and the bar area has yet to be renovated (it is breathtakingly tacky at the moment).

I'm really looking forward to seeing how this all turns out. :)

This photo reminded me of me and the kids.

Can't think why.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romance

Just got this gorgeous cover for the Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romance. My story, presently called But I Thought You Were A Nun, will be in it. It's coming out in March 2010 in the UK and June 2010 in the USA.

23 passionate stories of hard-hitting love...

Stirring romance featuring the heroes of the Navy SEALs, Delta Force, Air Force Pararescue, the Green Berets, the Army Rangers and other special forces: men and women who live and fight in extreme danger to preserve our freedoms, defenders and protectors of all we hold dear.

This collection includes the work of bestselling romance writers such as Shannon K. Butcher and Stephanie Tyler and Larissa Ione, writing as Sydney Croft. Sydney Croft’s special forces couple, Annika and Creed, work for the Agency for Covert Rare Operatives (ACRO), all of whose members have special powers, while Shannon K. Butcher’s hero is an ex-Navy SEAL. But these fighting men and women have a gentler, protective side; hard-edged weapons when on active duty, they can be caring lovers, of special forces teammates or the civilians they protect.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Working on the land

Above is a sight I never thought I'd live to see.  Yes, the white blob on the right is my geeky un-outdoorsy computer loving husband clearing the verge at Mumndad's place.  The white blob on the left is The Truck - just in case you were wondering.

Not only is he earning us a spot of much needed cash, but, to his own surprise he's really enjoying it as well.  He's also lost around 9kgs.

I am also enjoying it. You see this photo was taken from mumndad's balcony, where I can sit and sip tea and occasionally bellow things like 'Go Faster,' 'Work Harder,' or 'You Think That's Labour You Should Try Childbirth.'

Its a good thing he finds my sense of humour utterly delightful :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Halloween Invitations

My hand hurts and I've got a splitting headache, I'm developing RSI, I've got bruises at the base of my thumb and even the beginning of a blister.

What have I been doing?  Making party invitations, that's what.

Here is what I have cut out today (yes a list).

  1. 20 witches hats
  2. 20 bats
  3. 20 spiders
  4. 40 gold stars
  5. 40 silver stars
  6. 20 purple notes
  7. And curled 10m of ribbon

I think they've come out okay though, and the kids are so excited :)

Now I just have to figure out who to give them to.  Coaxing names out of a 3.5year old is not easy. So far we have Alex the boy, Alex the girl and the other Alex.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Halloween Cookies

Its three weeks until Halloween (and ten weeks five days until Christmas - just sayin).   Miss 3.5 - the lesser of the two screamies - was born on 31 December. As anyone with a birthday around then will know, trying to organise parties is a bit of a nightmare at that time of year, so I have moved Miss 3.5's birthday party to 31 October.  Two reasons for this (and yes a list because I LIKE them)...
  1. 31 October (or thereabouts) is the ancient Celtic New Year's Eve - ancient being pre-Roman - and is where Halloween originated.  Miss 3.5's birthday is modern New Year's Eve, and I liked the synchronicity.
  2. Its well before the pre-Christmas insanity of late November/Early October
This afternoon we had a trial run of the Halloween biscuits we'll be making for the party.  Mostly because I couldn't wait to play with our new biscuit cutters.

All went as smoothly as any cooking project does when assisted by a 5 year old and a 3.5 year old, until we came to ice the cookies. After clearing up a small misunderstanding regarding ice the frozen stuff and icing the stuff you put on cakes - I poured my icing onto the cooled biscuits as per the cook book instructions.

Ruh-roh - as Scooby Doo used to say.

Through trial and error I discovered I needed a lot more water in the mix and it had to be hot enough to really hurt when I poured it onto my hand by accident.  Oh, and I added some food colouring.

Hmm, think I'll be having another stab at it before the big day.

I also discovered that putting tasteless orange food colouring (and by that I mean the food colouring has no discernible taste and not that it is not stylish, I mean orange is the very definition of style is it not?) into vanilla flavoured biscuits magically makes them taste of orange.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Juices Flowing

Like a rare steak that hasn't rested long enough, I have suddenly and unexpectedly found my creative juices are oozing out all over my plate and soaking grossly into the mashed potato. Hmm. No, wait a sec (you know every time I write Wait a Sec it comes out Wait a Sex and I have to delete it - why is that?).

Yes, well. You get my general drift.

Since 1st October I've been trying to get started on a huge re-write of (the most re-written book ever) Drive Me To Distraction. I was looking forward to it, brimming with enthusiasm (I can do that on occasion, yes I am versatility itself) BUT when I opened the document I totally and utterly froze.

After some coaxing and a tub of Maggie Beer Quince and Bitter Almond ice cream I was able to skim over the document and read the comments that an agent friend had made.  The comments were brilliant, but unusually for me I couldn't think of a single way to incorporate any of them.

So I've been moping around and ranting at length to any poor soul I come across, including the surprisingly sympathetic fellow who came to fix our oven last week.  He wasn't much of romance reader as it turned out, but was brimming with Formula One statistics.

But then yesterday I was talking in over with Mum, saying that I'd have to toss out the whole premise and start again. So we got into analysing the structure of the novel and I reminded myself that at bare bones Drive is a sound story.  I also figured out the problem with the first chapter, realised it was even easy to fix and that the fix would add heaps to the relationship between the hero and heroine.

So just like that, I went from a heap of despair to She Who Cannot Be Defeated.

Neat huh?

Now I have to find time to do some work.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Day of Excrement

My day in bullet points...
  • 2.30am Smaller screamie discovers every action has an attached consequence, ie, if you remove your nappy after lights-out then at some point you are going to wake up cold and soaking wet.
  • 5.30am Cat needs to have a wee
  • 5.37am Cat discovers it is very cold outside and comes back in
  • 6.10am Cat needs to have a wee
  • 6.15am Entire family gets up
  • 8am Counselling - plum depths of subconscious, find nothing of interest
  • 9am Swap cars/children with hubby; he heads off to mumndads for a day of manual labour, cups of tea and chatting (more of the latter than the former)
  • 9.30am Take children to The Mall to buy cake for playdate
  • 9.40am Leave The Mall with two gingerbread men but no cake
  • 10am Drop off children to playdate
  • 10.10am Run around like a headless chicken gathering supplies for our forthcoming Halloween party
  • 1pm Pick up children
  • 1.04pm Discover the Smallest Screamie has had an accident of monumental proportions in her pants
  • 1.15pm Get home and spend a happy fifteen minutes in the bathroom sorting out the accident
  • 1.35pm Find Larger Screamie has had a similar but slightly more daunting accident in the other bathroom
  • 1.37pm Get back in the car to go to the second playdate of the day
  • 3.37pm Arrive home from two hours of drinking tea, gossipping and eating caramel crowns
  • 4pm Bribe children into silence with a gigantic bag of Cheese&Bacon balls (Yes, it seemed like a Good Idea at the time) - and attack both bathrooms with a lot of bleach and lavender oil
  • 4.45pm Clean breakfast detritus from kitchen
  • 5.30pm Attempt to feed hyperactive and over-tired children
  • 5.45pm Feed children's untouched meals to dog
  • 6.10pm Cook Laksa - using Ayam brand Laksa sauce
  • 6.12pm Hubby gets home
  • 6.13pm Taste Laksa
  • 6.15pm Ring for Thai take-away. Never in my life have I tasted anything so vile as that laksa (well maybe except for the Aldi chicken stock that didn't have any chicken in it).
  • 6.3opm Get home with take-away; Phone is ringing
  • 6.31pm Take over bath time from hubby who is on important call
  • 6.51pm Get everyone through bath time; smile tensely at lengthy Christmas present discussion
  • 7pm Smallest Screamie wees on floor next to toilet
  • 7.01pm Retire to television with dinner for the safety of rest of family
  • 7.03pm Glance over to find dog eating cushion...
  • 7.06pm Realise that the dog has done a wee on the floor next to where he killed my cushion - and yes, that is a lit fire at the top of the photo - its October and TWELVE degrees outside. Two days ago we hit thirty-four.
  • 7.10pm Crack open the Violet Crumbles
  • And now at 8.34pm I am feeling deeply queasy and going to bed.


Shelling peas (and a couple of broad beans) for dinner.We've got a bag of frozen ones in the freezer, sweeter and more tender. Still, I like that the kids are involved in the trip of food that we've grown to the table.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Momentum is My Brother-In-Law

My brother-in-law, Mike and his partner Ann are coming to visit. YAY.

Only they didn't feel like flying all the way from the UK, so they decided to DRIVE!!! This is their vehicle...
After many years planning they have started their across-the-world trek and we are hoping to see them around this time next year.

They're blogging the experience over at Momentum Is Your Friend - and there's a link in the sidebar.

You go guys!! We're all so proud of you both!! AND FOR CHRIST SAKE BE CAREFUL.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The First Strawberries

Had a bit of a strawberry disaster this year when 70% of the Chandler strawberries I bought from Diggers died - could have been snails, fungus or transplant shock - or all three. Anyway, I had to buy several more to fill in the gaps in the patch, and instead of going for one type I went for several varieties - Kanawase, Toigo and Red Gauntlet.

What we have here are the very first Kanawase's ripening. The first strawberries I have ever grown and here they are, nearly ready to eat.

Only I dont want to.

Why? And you are going to be sorry you wondered... under the greyed out spot in the photo is a pile of poo. Could be dog, could be cat.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Spring Harvest

Today I have been harvesting things in the garden.

Onions - on the left - planted by Miss 3.5 several months ago by accident, they've actually come up quite nicely.
Painted Lady Sweet Peas - the pretty pink flowers, picked for no good reason except they smell divine.
Rosemary - big pile of green stuff at the back - it'd overgrown and was completely covering my oregano so I hacked the crap out of it. It is now drying in my vege dryer and making the house smell like roast dinner
Lemon verbena - front left, being dried to make tea
Oregano - front centre, being dried to go in spag bol
Leeks - on the right, being used in various meals this week (leak and spud soup, chicken & leek spies etc)
The bundle of greenery in the centre is thyme - also being dried for later

So there you have it. We've finally had some decent rain, and so I've been stomping around the back garden squashing wretched snails in revenge for whoever it was that ate my cucumber, chamomile, and pak choy seedlings. Vengeance is mine, RAAARGH, etc, etc...

Next up planting zucchini and squash. :)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Feeling the Love :)

We may well be in serious strife over our continuing lack of income...

In fact soon we may have to sell the car...
But we are not in Samoa or Sumatra or The Philippines. And when the ones you could not bear to live without are safe and well there is no reason not to laugh and cherish the love...