Saturday, February 27, 2010

March Planting

Today has been my planting day.   At the start of each month I check the gardenate website, have a look at what people in a sub-tropical (ie Sydney) climate should be planting and then diligently plant up the seeds that will be burnt off by the sun, drowned by three days of downpour, dug up by the chickens or eaten by slugs.

We have a very high mortality rate at my house.

Still I persist. 

Anything on this list that does manage to survive I expect to start harvesting around June - though things like onions won't be on the menu until October at the earliest.
  • Beetroot
  • Broad beans
  • Broccoli
  • Capsicum
  • Carrot
  • Celeriac
  • Beans - climbing
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Pak Choy
  • Parsley
  • Parsnip
  • Squash
  • Sunflower
  • Swedes
  • Sweet corn
  • Turnip
  • Zucchini
 I tend to grow really ordinary stuff, mostly because I like walking around the supermarket produce section being all smug that I don't have to buy things because they are in my garden.  These days I have about 30 square metres of my garden growing vegetables in a six bed rotation system, but it wasn't always like that.

Nope.  Hubby didn't like the idea of anything but lawn at first and I had to wheedle, cajole and do unspeakable things to get every garden bed. 

I started small, on the left there is the beginning of my garden in around June 2007.

At that stage instead of trying to grow all my own veg, I would aim for a meal.  We eat spagetti bolognese a lot - so I set myself the goal of growing the ingredients (not the beef, obviously).

In my spag bol I use;
  • leeks
  • carrots
  • celery
  • tomato
  • onion
  • garlic, and
  • basil
 That year I nearly got there.  I had to use shallots instead of onions, and had no garlic or celery. But I did have leeks, carrots, tomatoes and basil. 

I stuck with the 'grow a meal' plan, as goal-wise it wasn't too overwhelming.  After spag bol, I wanted to grow the veg for a roast dinner. So I had a go at pumpkin, potato, carrots, zuchinni.  They worked, kind of.  I'm still getting the hang of potatoes and pumpkins annoy me. 

It hasn't been until this year that I really feel like I've got a chance to rely on my own garden for my food rather than the supermarket.  Before now it would've been way too much to embark on a list of vegies like I have above.  But, over the last four years I've grown all of the things in that list, know what works, what doesn't, had disasters, endured hailstorms, ended up with nematodes, planted seeds and know that if you let them dry out even for a day then they cark it, seen the effects of not enough fertilizer, too much fertilizer and a four day westerly gale. 

My main advice, though, to anyone who is embarking on a bit of gardening is the following...

Patience, Persistence and Sunscreen.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Winds of Change

Here is the pile of Christmas decorations.  That's the tree's box down the bottom, and the baubles on top.
Today I moved them from the lounge into the shed.  It took me about two minutes.

Well after I got rid of all the spider webs and dust adhering them to the carpet.

Mystery Pillow Explosion

Walked down into the lounge earlier today only to find that Somehow one of the pillows had exploded.
Am still wondering how this happened.  Clearly there are forces at work in my house that are beyond my comprehension.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Chook News - Edition II


In news just in, there is rejoicing tonight at The Coop. Pecky, The Prodigal Chicken, has returned.  Thus far she has refused to comment on her whereabouts though a close personal friend has suggested she may or may not have been hanging out at Robbie Williams house.  Local F-list celebrity and relieved Landlord, Caitlyn Nicholas said, "Wait a sec, four chickens? What the ... ?"

Ms Nicholas then rang The One Who Forgets To Shut The Coop At Night to check that one chicken had indeed gone missing the previous day and a comprehensive search of the property had been carried out.  When this was unequivocally confirmed there was much head-scratching (Nits have been ruled out as a cause). It has been concluded that when Certain People water dowsed on the weekend they opened up a hole in time and Pecky fell through it.  There have been unconfirmed reports that she gave Bird Flu to everyone in the future and we are all DOOMED. DOOOOOOMED I tells ya.

Relieved Landlord and local F-list celebrity, Caitlyn Nicholas said, "Er, about that whole murder accusation yesterday.  Bygones? Yes?"

A member of The Coop who wished to remain anonymous doubts the washing will ever go un-shat-upon again (by the birds).  The Next-Door Kelpie was heard to mutter that she was a patient dog. A very patient dog.

Caught here running for cover, members of The Coop were ashamed to admit that they live in a compost heap.  Somebody was heard to mention that they only stayed around for the Day Old Bread with  buttermilk/whey that arrived around about lunchtime.  Local F-list celebrity, Caitlyn Nicholas said, "What? I do the poo-hosing and compost digging on Saturday, if you don't bloody like it then do it yourself."  Unconfirmed reports suggest that she then stormed off in a snit.


All home made

Afternoon tea at our house today.
Butter - made by me this morning
Strawberry jam - made by me a few weeks ago
English muffins - made by me and the bread maker

The recipe for the muffins is...

• 1 cup milk
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 1 egg
• 0.5 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 3 cups plain flour
• 1.5 teaspoons dry yeast (or one 7g sachet)
• Polenta

  1. Put ingredients in your bread machine in the order listed.
  2. Run the dough cycle.
  3. Sprinkle polenta over your work area.
Use your hands to pat the dough into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle.
  5. Turn the dough so that each side gets lightly coated with polenta.
  6. Cut into rounds with a cookie cutter
  7. Let rise for 20 - 30 minutes--until not quite double.
  8. Heat a big frying pan - I give it a little squirt with canola oil.
Cook the muffins about 5 to 7 minutes on each side - 
they should be golden brown when you turn them.
These freeze well and can be reheated in the microwave or toasted if you manage not to eat them right away

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Downward Slide

Oh well this is going to teach me for being all sodding smug about Breakfast isn't it.

To make matters worse I had, in a fit of organisation, saved a little list of things to post about.  Breakfast photos, it said, raiding kids piggy banks, rave about how awesome first night of lectures was.


Well, breakfast was an un-mitigated disaster.  I didn't take photos, no, I was too busy trying to persuade Miss 4 to eat something, anything.  She toyed with four blueberries for forty minutes and then, after my patience had well and truly run out, did a back-flip (not literally) and scoffed crumpets and honey.  To say that when I departed for school I was just slightly frazzled would be a gross understatement.

And yes, I did raid the kids piggy banks.  Hubby's work has deferred and deferred again on his pay. The sum we were supposed to receive on Friday when we ran out of cash, had still not appeared on Wednesday morning despite myriad promises.  Both cars were out of petrol and I knew I wouldn't get to school and back after driving around with the empty light on for four days.  So I scraped together $10 from the kids piggy banks thinking I'd get that much petrol when I got to school.

Had a busy and productive morning with a few school related social things and then ended up in Hornsby Westfield with an hour to spare before the afternoon school run.  After a year of unemployment , you can imagine the parlous state of our credit card.  Still I decided to tentatively try it out in Coles so that I could feed the children tonight and was rather chuffed when it actually worked. HURRAY. Funds.  So, I lavishly spent my $10 of shrapnel on some Sushi and a drink and then beetled off to the petrol station and filled up the car.

Phew. All was going okay.

Until the credit card was declined at the petrol station.

There followed the most humiliating twenty minutes of my life.  And now I must be at that petrol station by 8am tomorrow morning or my name will be handed to the police.

Naturally I will be there waving cash and continuing to grovel and apologise and offer to exchange my second-born child, as hubby's pay FINALLY went into our account about twenty minutes ago.  YAY, looking forward to that happy experience.

Then I arrived at school, fifteen minutes late, parked in the wrong place and was gently given a list of Miss 4's transgressions for the day.  These included hitting a teacher for the second day running, kicking the door of her sisters class room and literally running amok to the extent that her teacher had to find a substitute to mind her class whilst she dealt with the situation.


So, a felon AND worst parent on earth.  Wonderful.

Well things couldn't get worse than that? Could they?

When I got home we only had three chickens. One of the Australorps has gone.  I'm presuming she either got taken by a bird of prey or flew over the fence and got eaten by next doors Kelpie - who savages possums whenever the poor things set a toe-nail in her yard.

Then I rang my mother and cried.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Did I say I was tired yesterday?? Ack, its nothing compared to today.  You see Miss 5 decided at 4.30 this morning she'd howl the house down in the hope of getting hold of Hubby's iPod to play Sims or somesuch.  When it was made clear that her cruel and bleary parents were having none of it she proceeded to have a tantrum that then woke Miss 4, the dog, the chooks and the neighbours dog, who started barking which set off all the other dogs in the vicinity.


Of course everyone was back asleep by 5am, except for insomniac me. I got to listen to hubby slumbering LOUDLY next to me for an hour before it was getting up time and finally I could have some tea. Thank GOD for tea.

Needless to say the morning did not progress well from that point and I was heartily glad to see the back of my children when I dropped them off to wreak havoc at school today.

So, breakfast.

Breakfast has been bothering me for a while at our house.  Here are our perpetual four types of cereal - they are four that are relatively low in sugar and high in fibre.  We never, ever have anything like nutri-grain or coco pops.  The kids don't even know they exist.  We go through these four boxes in about a week - maybe a bit slower on the vita-brits - and the cost is around $25.

Even so, below is a typical bowl of what I'm throwing away every day.  Yes. I do give them a small amount, which they eat, then they insist they are still hungry, so I give them another small bowl which they don't eat - so usually leftovers amount to about this much.  And I challenge any parent to deny their child's request for "more pweese."
The leftovers go to the chooks who love them, so its not right into the bin, but still I'm not happy with the whole breakfast scenario.  Those cereals are processed and expensive and I think we could be doing better.

So, my breakfast plan for tomorrow is as follows

  • Home made yoghurt (which I did yesterday and is in the fridge) with granola (recipe below)
  • Blueberries and strawberries
  • Home made muffins (which may possibly be made in the breadmaker and then finished off in the oven - unless hubby's company deigns to actually PAY HIM SOME MONEY and then I might buy some, ready made, whee, the anticipation...) with strawberry jam
  • Fruit smoothie - milk based or orange juice based with frozen fruit from the freezer (I buy it in bulk from Frozberries in Hornsby - its about 50% cheaper than the teensy weensy packs you get in the supermarket - also their tag-line is We Put The Thrill Back In Chill - which has always caused me much amusement though I have no idea why).

Best Granola Ever
140g/2 cups Rolled Oats (7 points)
110g/1 cup hazelnut meal (9 points)
110g/1 cup flaked almonds (11 points)
50g/0.5 cup sultanas (2 points)
80ml/ 0.3 cup honey (3.5 points) I mean a third of a cup of honey here

Mix all ingredients well (I heat the honey briefly in the microwave so its really runny).
Spread evenly over a baking tray
Spray lightly with canola oil (I often forget to do this)
Bake in a moderate oven for about half an hour (my oven does not know the meaning of moderate so I tend to leave it in for ten minutes at 150 and then get too stressed about it burning to leave it longer).  Basically it needs a little bit of a cook, but whatever you do don't burn it - makes the whole thing taste bloody awful.
Keep in an airtight container.

Weightwatchers points for 50g of granola are 3 (so I usually have 25g of it on a cup of low fat yoghurt (2 points) which gives me a breakfast of 3.5points).

Also, I use a digital scale and am a capricorn so it all Must Be Precise. However, sometimes when I'm feeling all wacky and out-there, I double the quantities of rolled oats, use dried apricots and even prunes, well once, but it went a bit gluggy and pruney, so I fed it to hubby. I even put in more almonds and less hazelnut from time to time. I know, I can barely stand it.

I'm not thinking this breakfast will be much more trouble than the cereals (other than the children having a fit at something - holy crap - different). I'm in the kitchen doing lunches when the kids eat anyway and the smoothies won't be too much effort and the rest will be ready to go.

So breakfast. There you have it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Homemaking & Blog Changes

Despite being at page 348/350 in edits I took today off writing.  In that last gasp of Drive I need to include a scene which adds a twist to the ending, its going to have to be short and snappy and not make the reader roll their eyes and wish that the book was over already. I find the best way to approach tricky ones like this is to leave it for a couple of days and then they just arrives, on their own.

I'm tired today (why? because I was reading my uni texts last night and got all excited about my course and couldn't sleep.  sigh) and we have a ridiculously busy couple of weeks ahead, so I've spent today getting organised, making menu plans, washing, and all those sort of home-making jobs.

Its also frickin HOT again. So cross. I had decided that hot weather was over and planted lettuces, which will now turn bitter and bolt to seed. Whhhy OH WHY? SIGH. I will have lettuce. Oh yes. This shall not defeat me. Rargh.

It was green and gold day at school today.  For the winter olympics or something.  It is hard to describe how a pair so cute can also be so evil. But trust me, they are.

Anyhoo, speaking of homemaking, I've been devouring  There is such a lot Rhonda is doing that I either already do myself or want to do.  I talk about it here but in a pretty random and haphazard way.  So I thought I'd get a bit more organised, keep the usual ranting and vegetable happy snaps but include a bit more depth.

Last year was an annus horribilius for hubby and I, what with him having no job and all the crud that goes with that, like a shitload of debt.  However, as I've said, a lot of positives came out of that year as well, having hubby at home and the improvements in our relationship and the feeling of a solid foundation beneath us.

Now that he is back at work though, I feel like those positives are slipping and that the lessons we learned are being swiftly forgotten.  We really don't want this to happen.  I like living simply, even though its sometimes hard, and now that we have the chooks I can't describe the really confident feeling I get knowing that we can provide our own food from our own little suburban block - or will be able to once they start laying eggs and the weather stops KILLING MY LETTUCES.

So, I thought I'd blog more about how we're keeping it simple, how we're feeling about it, what works and what doesn't, and what we just can't live without (hint: dishwasher).

So, watch this space.  Its going to be fun :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Water Dowsing

So you've probably been reading my blog long enough to know that I'm really not one for wild flights of fancy (if you're new, a big HI THERE from me - and yes, that is as friendly as I tend to get). Logic and science and rational explanations are my thing, all a result of a sensible factual up-bringing and education.


However. There is an aspect to myself that I kind-of tend to steer clear of. Its the side of me that has odd experiences that may or may not be due to ghosts, and the side of me that water dowses.  The side that isn't 100% explainable in a logical way.

Water dowsing or water witching is when you take a stick or metal poles and walk over the ground, the stick or poles move when you cross water or a ley line or pretty much anything you care to imagine under the ground (yes bodies and/or gold if you so desire it).

My mother taught me how to water dowse when I was about seven or eight.  Well taught is not precisely right, she put two straightened out coat hangers in my hands, instructed me to walk around until they crossed and said something like, 'look you can do it too,' when they did.

Since then its pretty much been a good party trick for freaking out prospective husbands.  Although, when I move into a new house I do tend to have a quick go to figure out where the ley lines are.  Just cos, really.

Well, today we have been in the garden (just for something different) and are sorting out a new bed to go under the liquid amber.  As you can see, its really tatty and mozzie-ish under there, and for ages I've wanted to turn it into a usable bit of garden, rather than an old toy dumping ground.  I thought it'd be fun to find out where the ley lines were and use them to design the garden around.

So I butchered a couple of coat hangers, and bent them into the right shape.  Those are broken kitchen chairs btw, mostly I use them to grow beans up.
Then marched up and down the bit of garden I was interested in, taking note of when the rods crossed and when they didn't.  I can't explain the rod crossing thing any more than that.  They move, in my hands, on their own and they cross and uncross as I walk over the same spot or line every single time. I think its to do with magnetic fields or something.  Interestingly hubby can't do it at all.

After ignoring the fact they were crossing every time I stepped over the hose (ie water) I ended up with the pile of white clay which marks the intersection of two ley lines.  The spade (which is a bit off centre) shows the direction of one.  (The white clay was leftover from Miss 4s poo smearing days and has been rock solid in a perfectly good bucket for ages).
The other line runs through the chair, the white clay, and the orange kids bbq. And hey look there's all my washing, up on the blog, awww, and is that an empty yellow bag of chook food blown into the lavender? Ahem yes I think it is (blush).
Well, tomorrow we'll mulch the whole area, and then, using the bit with the white clay as the centre-point, start to plant up rows of different coloured lettuce, leek, kale etc, etc, to make a 100% edible formal garden bed.  You can already see some of the mulch in the top photo.

And that's that really.  Many people can water dowse, its not unusual. There are water dowsing associations around Australia and people run their own businesses dowsing professionally for farmers etc who want to dig bores and so on.  Its fun and freaky and if you happen to have a couple of old coat-hangers lying around I'd highly recommend you give it a try.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Chess lessons

Miss 5 spent the afternoon dressed in a Tinkerbell outfit teaching her sister how to play chess.
I nearly died from all the cuteness.

Well, until the bickering broke out.


Text books

Been in to Mac Uni this morning. Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE that place.  I LOVE IT.  Its just getting ready to kick off into the new Semester next week and the place is abuzz.  Cannot wait to be back there. Can. Not. Wait.

Got my text books :)
We're doing the Great Gatsby - wheee!!

And I am already half-way through the course notes.

Drive Me To Distraction - the book I'm racing to get finished - is practically there.  Got to Chapter 18 last night, so just two more chapters to go. Although, I know there is a fair bit of rewriting in those end bits, so its not going to happen that quickly.  But still, the end is in sight.  Mum and Hubby are deep into proof-reading and are telling me its good so far - they always say that, just in case it gets awful later on!

Whilst at Uni I caught up with an old work friend (Hi Brian :)) and made him go all fainty with Miss 5s birth story (which involved scissors, forceps and heaving on both my and the obstetricians part).  Brian's wife is due in a few weeks and they're just getting through all their birthing classes.  I feel a bit mortified actually, as scaring dads-to-be is one of the things I kind-of promised myself I wouldn't do, and there I was doing it without even thinking.  Sigh. Yes, I have turned into One Of Those Friends - you know, the ones that mean well, but tend to make it all worse!  Anyway, have resolved to Shut The Hell Up in future - yeah, cos I'm good at that.

Now I have to decide.  Do something about the appalling state of the kitchen or go and snuggle in bed with a cup of tea and read, read, read?


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Operation Make-Over Part II

Went shopping yesterday with me-mum.  Yes, nearly 40 is still not too young to be spoilt to death by your mother :)
Got some new shoes.  Now I am not a shoes person.  So I tend to wear them until they fall to bits before setting foot in a shoe shop.  But still, I do appreciate a good shoe.  The leafy green bits in the photo are my new banana passionfruit.  How Awesome Is That???  Its going to grow over the chook pen.

AND I got a photo of my new blueberry plant as well.  The possums ate my last one, but I'm hoping they're too busy destroying my apple trees to worry about blueberries at the moment.


Did discover that Colorado, in their wisdom are doing short leg length jeans for little legged people like me.  So will hopefully spend this winter not walking through the hems of my jeans. Hurray!
So here is me and what I wore to drop the kids off today - plus the shoes at the top.  Operation make-over is getting there methinks - mostly because I would not change a tyre in this outfit (very nearly did wear it to haul mulch around the garden though - sigh).

ALSO, am saving tomato seeds - certainly more exciting than clothes. You have to do that seed fermenting thing to save tomato seeds, so right now the kitchen smells of decomposing tomatoes. Nice huh?
These are the seeds of golden and white egg-shaped tomatoes.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Socially Inept

Firstly a quick word on the whole God situation in this house.  You may have noticed that I was just a wee bit rattled by all the God chatter and hymn singing that has suddenly burst forth in this house of religious ambivalence (or The Unchurched as my friend Emma likes to call us :)).

Well, Miss 4, in her endless mission to Prove Her Mother Wrong, brought home the book below as her library book for this week.
Her logic being that if there is a book about how tall God is then he must be a real person which is in direct contravention of our earlier agreement that he is a pretend, invisible person that some people believe in and some people don't.

Yes, she is four and no I am not looking forward to the teenage years.

Today I had a playdate with the rest of Miss 4's class.  Honestly, being an introvert, I don't do being social at the best of times, but when its with a group of people I don't know and my children are there and are completely shattered after a hot and humid day at school - well, let's just say that I had a deep suspicion that there'd be something bloggable by the end of the day.

No, Miss 4 did not poo in their swimming pool.
No, Miss 5 did not say fuck, bitch or bloody, not once.
No, Miss 4 did not hit, bite or steal, nothing, not a thing.
No, Miss 5 did not break things, nag, whine or investigate the contents of their bedside tables (Miss 4 got shut in their walk-in wardrobe, and then I was found in a situation where it looked a lot like I was going through their clothes, but when I hauled out my grinning child all was explained and smiles from everyone).

I was rather proud of them actually.

But it was their mother who raised eyebrows. Oh yes.  You see they had a chocolate fountain.  You know, one of these things, where you dip the fruit in the warm melty chocolate.
Well I resisted as long as I could, but when everyone was in the pool I managed to sneak away and have a little taste all on my own.  It was then that I had a disaster. My hair, which was up in a french knot, unwound itself and without thinking I brushed it back. Then I realised I had chocolate all over my hand and THEN realised I had chocolate drizzled all over the front of my blue shirt.

Quick dash to the kitchen and some paper towel resulted in a greasy brown wet mess across my capacious bosom, which I tried to hide by unbuttoning my shirt another button and sort of pulling out the collar.  Dismal failure.

I washed hands, tidied my hair and rejoined the group. When the time came we headed home (with no tantrums - yay us).  Hour or so later and I picked up hubby from the station.
"Have you been eating chocolate?" he asked.
"It looks like chocolate in your eyebrow.  Is it?"
I rub my eyebrow. Yes. Chocolate.
"And hey, what's that in your hair. It looks like chocolate too."
Yes. Yes it was.  Chocolate. IN. MY. HAIR.

I am never leaving the house again.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

So, on Valentine's Day eve, I would suggest that you don't rant on to your husband about how Valentine's Day is a total waste of time and money and frankly if anyone ever wanted to spend $40 on flowers how you'd much rather they took that money and bought you a couple of tea-camellias, or maybe three blueberry bushes.
Because when you wake up in the morning and find flowers, a card and a chocolate breakfast in your favorite Shelly teacups, not only are you are going to look deeply, deeply ungrateful, but there is also nothing you can say or do to save the situation.

It is a good thing that my husband enjoys laughing at my discomfort and loves me to bits in equal measure.

Yeah. He's a lucky man.


And I am without doubt, the luckiest girl in the world as well. 

Love you, my sweet, and thanks.  I never, ever expected such a lovely, wonderful, beautiful surprise (obviously!)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The things we Do

You can tell that I've got a book deadline looming AND have hit a flat scene that I am struggling to inject any life or interest into. WHAT. SO. EVER.

Why? I hear you ask.

Well.  I got up this morning and re-arranged the woodpile.
For entertainment the dog runs at the chook pen and all the chooks run to the other side of the pen. Then the dog runs around the other side of the pen, and the chooks run back. Then he runs around the other side... well you get the picture. Back, forward, back, forward.

Its driving me nuts.

So I've foiled that little game.

Then, at the sight of my youngest child getting out of the pool, howling in indignation, blue with cold and with poo dripping out of the bottom of her swimmers - I ran into the house, got my keys, jumped in the car and went to the garden centre.
No, I really did.  Sometimes in life you just have to walk away.

Got some lettuces though.  Generally I'm a growing-from-seed girl, but given the heat and the rain, everything has carked-it, and I'm sick to death of buying lettuce from Coles.  So I decided seedlings were the lesser of two evils.

Hubby rang me when he'd finished hosing everyone off and had them all warm and cute and happy in front of a DVD. Then and only then did I come home, bearing hot chocolates and a cinnamon rolls.  We hid in the front garden and ate them.

Now I am making dog food. The smear of brown is bovril - like vegemite only it tastes horrible and is runnier. Also, I have no idea how it ended up in my house. Everyone I know denies leaving it here. Odd.
Generally the dog eats leftovers. BUT, I made an awesome chicken stock a couple of days ago, one thing led to another and it was left out on the bench for a day when it was 30+ degrees and 95% humidity.  Yes. Wasn't feeding that to the kids.

So happened to be browsing my new most fave blog Down To Earth, and came across her home made dog food recipe.

Perfect way to use up the ruined stock.  I also add a little garlic to her recipe. It can help with fleas.

So yep.  Next up cleaning, and making ratatouille, which takes about three hours. And then I'll be Far Too Tired to write and will have to think about it all tomorrow.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Things that have delighted me in my garden today

The lemon tree
We took it out of the pot its been in for years and put it in the ground a week ago. So far so good.

Capsicums growing on my mini-capsicum plant.


Finally my zuchinni is doing something :)

A melon flower. A GIRL melon flower.  See underneath it there? That'll be a melon - well if the sodding ants stop eating all the sodding pollen.

And Pecky, who appears to have laid a coconut.  Ouch.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tuckshop Duty

OMG. OH. MY. GOD.  Just got home from tuck shop duty at the screamies new school. Five hours. No breaks. No sitting down. Argh. Totally and utterly knackered AND my ankles are more gigantic than when I was eleven months pregnant with Miss 5. Today I learned that working in retail is not my thing (why oh WHY did I keep getting the cute kids with the big eyes who didn't have enough money for anything except for liquorice, and then started going "but pweeese can I have something else?" as those innocent blue eyes filled with tears).

Today I also learned that working in food service is so not my thing. Well, after my career change to be a chef crashed and burned, I kind of knew that anyway.  But that was all twenty years ago, and now I remember exactly why it crashed and burned - I couldn't even slice the feta to the correct dimensions, and who knew you had to chop lettuce, WHO KNEW?

I signed hubby up for dads day on tuckshop duty, just so he can see for himself - I just don't think its fair I should have all the fun.

The kids are totally knackered from all this school business, and yet, on a day when I am feeling like I've been smacked in the head, Miss 4 still finds boundless energy to scream the supermarket down. Bless her. Its a miracle really, when you think about it.

And speaking of miracles, I'm fielding God questions non stop at the moment.  Well, actually Miss 5 thinks He is called Dog and Miss 4 thinks He is an invisible pretend person who we sing songs too.  Fair enough.  I'm with Miss 4 mostly.  But I think I'll let their religion teacher explain properly.

They are also wondering

  • Did the dinosaurs really die out and if so why?
  • Can we drive on the rumble strips again?
  • Why is there traffic?
  • Where do the chicken's eggs come from?
  • Why isn't the weekend a holiday?
  • Can we have pizza?
  • Can we have pizza?
  • Can we have pizza?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Clothes Shopping

So, I have to confess, when I was changing the tyre in the school carpark yesterday I LIED about my outfit.  I said to one of the Mums who were getting in the way advising, "Well its a good thing I'm only wearing my gardening clothes," as I got covered in filth lifting the punctured tyre into the boot.

In actual fact I was just wearing the first things I dragged out of the dirty clothes basket (In my flimsy defence I sprayed them with deodorant before putting them on.)

Yes. Well. I felt that perhaps I had hit something of a low.  Due to the whole no-money situation I haven't bought new clothes since pretty much winter the year before last (that'd be 2008). And during that time my weight has gone from about 75kgs to around 84kgs and now back to around 80kgs (yes, diet getting there, slowly and with many bad days, but some good).

Turning up at school this morning I just felt daggy.  Shapeless jeans and a t-shirt I've had for forever.  I felt frumpy and out-of-sorts, especially with the kids so neat and tidy (AND IRONED), with hair all done and immaculate uniforms. Its ridiculous really, I mean how can I teach them to dress presentably when frankly most of my wardrobe is suitable for changing tyres and digging in the garden.

So, I headed into Hornsby and went shopping and got myself some new tops, a new scarf and even a head-band...
All delightfully modelled here by Jennifer (Hawkins) and Miranda (Kerr).

I did try to get a snap of myself in my new skirt
But gave up after taking a lot of photos of the camera.


So yes. Operation Make-Over has commenced.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Balloon For Olivia

This post is for Kate of thesixofus.  Yesterday we released a balloon for Olivia's tenth birthday.  I sent, with that balloon, all the love in my heart I have for my children.  Kate, I am so sorry for your loss.


So its Monday morning.
We wake up late.
The kids are shitty and won't do as they are told.
Hubby is stressing over his first day of work and losing everything, including his car keys.
There is a lot of shouting going on.
Finally I get the kids into the car, running fifteen minutes late.
Traffic horrendous, pissing down rain, and 2km traffic jam on the motorway giving the kids ample time to wind themselves up into a fit of yelling - which I coped with outstandingly well, by yelling back.
What would be the worst farking thing that could go wrong in this situation? What would be the most cliched, ridiculous thing to happen?

So, as I came off the motorway I noticed the steering was All Over The Place, and I had a feeling it was the tyre. So I limped to the school car park, which mercifully is undercover, and was met with the flattest tyre I have ever seen.  No chance of getting to a garage on that baby. No way.

Not having the patience to wait for some man to rescue me - I'm sorry but my feminist principles would not cope with that - I changed it myself.  Had Dad offering advice on the mobile - like loosen the nuts before you jack the car up - which was brilliant because I would've done it the other way around, and away I went.

The worst bit was getting the spare tyre on, they're bloody heavy and of course my back was not happy. But now I'm home safe, swallowing neurofen, and feeling rather bloody pleased with myself.



Sunday, February 07, 2010


Bought figs from a roadside stall at Arcardia today...
Too perfect for words :)

Disgusting Things

Well, I thought long and hard about including photos in this post, but then decided that, really, I wasn't prepared to take photos of the following, so you'll just have to imagine them.

Things that have revolted me in the last 24 hours.
  1. Our Dishwasher - it clogged.  It clogged on a day when we'd had fish for dinner the night before.  So imagine a cold, glutinous white liquid that stinks of fish spilling out onto the floor when you decided to unload the dishwasher ten minutes before you were due to go somewhere else. Ug.
  2. Snails Having Sex - I grabbed a snail off the lemon tree, only to find another snail attached to it, and they weren't just hugging. Ew. Fed them both to the chickens.
  3. My Mother's Fingernail - she accidentally caught it in a toilet door (at the Opera House as it happens) and the end of her finger is doubled in size, black, with a dead white nail hanging off it. Even the lady in the supermarket looked a bit queasy at the sight of it.
  4. Cat Ate Bird - well bits of bird, a myna which is a pest so YAY pussy cat. Not so yay that she bit off more than she can chew and left the gubbins all over the balcony.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Space to Breathe

I've spent the last few days doing nothing much.  Well, as anyone with a family knows nothing much still includes cooking, cleaning, washing... the usuals.  But whilst the children have been at school I've been sleeping mostly, and drifting around the garden drinking tea - in between thunderstorms anyway.  It seems the more I chill out the tireder I get, but I can feel that I am re-stocking reserves that were sucked dry about three days after Miss 5 was born and have never been replenished.

Today, after a long and stressful period of unemployment, hubby got a job.  At this stage it's a three month contract, but doubtless it will turn into more.  Its been a tough year financially for us, we have drained every reserve that we had, and were down to our last mortgage repayment in the bank.  I really thought I was going to lose my lovely little house and beloved garden.  But now, all of a sudden, we're both wandering around grinning in a state of dazed relief and the nightmare is over.

Not that it was ALL that awful.  Aside from the no-income situation, having hubby home for most of the last year has been wonderful.  Our relationship is stronger for it, and his relationship with the kids is very special.  He has got fit, discovered a love of outdoors and gardens, AND learned how to fence a field - courtesy of my father.  So, whilst I am beyond glad that he will be working again, I'm a little sad too, that he won't be around like he was. I'll miss him and all the cups of tea he makes :)

Both the kids are ridiculously happy at school.  I had my reservations about sending Miss 4, my mind told me she was more than ready to go, but my heart worried that I was pushing her.  But I was right to send her, she has blossomed in the last week, its like they've flicked a switch and she's suddenly discovered the world around her.  Questions come thick and fast and she bursts into song the very second a singing mood descends on her.  Miss 5, quiet and reserved though she is, is oozing contentment.  We have lots of discussions about letters and she is so excited about learning to read.  She told me this evening that she had something very important to ask me.  What? What? "Can I join the chess club please?"


Holy hell, now I'm going to have to learn how to play chess properly.

So yes, having been felt like I've been hit by a bus for the last five years, I now find myself in a calm and welcome hiatus.  I'm busy with Drive re-writes, but am gliding towards my deadline, calm and in control (okay well that is the mantra I am repeating when my brain starts going 'fuuuuuuuuuuuck 28th February, fuck, fuck, fuck...').  In March I'm expecting Bunker re-writes from my agent, and starting my Masters, so it would be prudent that Drive is not sitting in my To Do pile.

So yes.

Peace, calm, joy.  Apart from BASTARD SLUGS that ate my second lot of lettuce seedlings.  But yanno, it wouldn't be me without a crisis.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Frog in the Laundry

When you tread on things in this house they tend to be cold, wet and squishy. Usually they smell pretty awful, make your blood pressure go up quite a bit and need bleach to be completely cleaned up. 

Today, however, what I trod on in the laundry was none of the above, it was in fact...
A common froglet - a name I gleaned from about ten seconds of googling, so any frog experts out there feel free to correct me.

And yes, I screamed like the big girl's blouse that I am.

Froggy was looking pretty dehydrated, so I put the hose on 'mist' and let him (her? - I'm always confused about frog gender, you see the frog I dissected in Year 10 biology turned out to have no reproductive organs at all, so I missed the part of my education involving frog bits) out in the garden.  He quickly found himself a home better than under our spare fridge - he's in the middle of the photo next to the blade of grass.

The school run is getting settled.  I've talked to the teachers about my reservations over leaving Miss 5 alone in a seething playground, and funnily enough I was not the only Kindi mum having conniptions over it all.  They're setting up a separate play area for the littlies and will be introducing them very slowly to the playground at lunchtime. Phew. Like most primary schools in NSW this one has been partially rebuilt and they're just adjusting their routines and seeing what works.

Conversation as I was doing Miss 5's hair this morning:
Miss 5: Where do people come from?
Me: Stunned into silence as I grope for a response
Miss 5: I mean how did we get here?
Hubby: People seeds
Me: Laser glare
Hubby: What?

Sigh. We distracted her with Angela Anaconda.  I just didn't think eight minutes before leaving for school was the right moment for the whole where did we come from chat.


Monday, February 01, 2010

Sock World Record

I'm thinking I may have just broken a world record.

I mean Day Three of school and already both children have white socks that went through a dark wash and are now grey.
I think parental slackness of this level deserves a medal of some description.  Its not easy, you know, being this utterly useless :)

Oh, pass me the napisan!