Monday, August 30, 2010

Vote for ME!!

I'm in the running to win $500 :) in an competition. I'd love your vote for my blog post; The Day My Midriff Escaped.

Thanks everyone.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back To Basics Challenge - Week 6

What's happening in the garden
  • Harvesting
    •  Lettuce, beetroot leaves, last of turnips, first swede
  • Observing
    • Blueberry flowers
    • Broccoli
    • Zuchinni seedling nearly read to plant out
    • Strawberry flowers
    • Egg total : 16
    What I've been doing

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    She's ALIVE (barely)

    Well I'm still alive.  More or less.  I did actually die at some point on Tuesday, but then had to get over it on Wednesday because otherwise nobody would've fed anyone or taken the kids to school.

    Hubs, being real man, was so sick on Thursday he had to take a day off work.  He spent this day off work lying on the couch and snoring intermittently - mostly during Oprah, which incidentally was about being regressed into past lives to cure present life neurosis.

    Speaking of past lives, I have not been regressed into mine, or even hypnotised, but I do have it on good authority that I was Joan of Arc in a past life.  ('Unusual' friends, I love you all).  Having watched Oprah I have realised that this explains much about my present life, for example, my total aversion to being tied to a stake and set on fire, or my reluctance to go rushing into Places Of Worship waving my sword and shouting that I am a conduit for the Voice of God.

    Still, I am rather thrilled about potentially being Joan of Arc at some point - I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Joanie. I'd like to meet her, give her a high five, tell her 'you go girl' and then do some sort of fist-pump action (and then run away quickly as she chases me on her charger and tries to skewer me with the aforementioned broadsword for being possessed by The Devil).

    Also the fact I was once a true Saint is fitting, I feel.

    I also have it on good authority (yes the same one) that one of my spiritual guides (or muses if you like) is Jane Austen.  Poor Jane Austen.  Can you imagine the woman having to follow me around all day and provide me with inspiration.  She'd be so Mortified she wouldn't be able to get a word out, and would be petitioning the Entity Who Allocates spiritual guides for a transfer just as soon as she could get the paperwork completed.  I do not think Jane Austen would approve of my language, driving skills, conversational topics with complete strangers, conversational topics with friends, and uncharitable mutterings about pretty much everything.  Can you imagine what she'd think about Mr Rabbit's budgie smugglers??

    Anyhoo, I have digressed.  This post was going to be all about me enthusing over my asparagus crowns.
    SEE!!  Asparagus crowns. I've wanted to grow Asparagus for forever and yesterday, the organic seedling lady at Hornsby markets took foul advantage of my being totally wiped-out on Cold and Flu tablets and sold me some.

    Am deeply excited and spent yesterday night cross referencing all my gardening books on Asparagus (which is why I'm blogging now :))

    Also am going to make that divine bunch of rhubarb into crumble with homemade custard for everyone tonight AND that cup of tea is at perfect drinking temperature.

    Had best go drink it.


    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    I may not make it through the night...

    Because things have been going well of late, it was inevitable that I'd get sick.

    I am extremely brave and stoic when I'm ill. I battle on and don't complain. I get the job done and keep my suffering and my germs to myself.  My parenting skills are exemplary at times like this, and frankly it was simply an unfortunate oversight that I missed out on Wife And Mother Of The Year again this year.

    Here are a few examples of my patience and leadership in the last... well four hours or so;

    • Dear God don't let Playschool end
    • No we are not listening to the sodding Wiggles again, no I do not have any special treats, if you don't stop yelling I'll throw the Wiggles out the car window and they'll get squashed.
    • My hair hurts
    • My goodbumps hurts
    • Aaaaachoo
    • Stop it
    • Be quiet
    • Can't you see I'm ill?
    • Can't you see I'm driving?
    • I am not mean.
    • My nose won't stop running.
    • I'm cranky because I've taken too many cold and flu tablets
    • Just feed it to the Dog
    • Does it feel like nits?
    • What itches?
    • No you cannot get nits there.
    • I don't know why, but you can't.
    • No, I don't want to look.
    • Yes we can have a Chinese take-away
    • No we cannot have prawn chips
    • I AM NOT MEAN.
    • I've run out of tissues
    • Is it just me or is everyone else flushed and shivering
    • No I can't get you a hot chocolate or a muffin with golden syrup
    • I wish someone would get me a muffin with golden syrup
    • NO, I cannot get you a muffin when I get one
    • Can't you see I'm ill
    • I can feel my tonsils throbbing
    • Please, for the love of God, stop bickering
    • My throat hurts
    • My nose hurts
    • Aaaachooo.
    • You want to perform Dingle Dangle Scarecrow AGAIN??
    • Let's see what's on ABC2 instead.
    • Give that here.
    • RIGHT I'm taking it away.
    • That was an excellent rendition of Dingle Dangle Scarecrow
    • LOOK, its In the Night Garden.
    • Please watch television.
    • Go and see if Daddy's home yet
    I may or may not make it through the night.


    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Because yes, actually, this really IS how my life unfolds.

    People sometimes ask me if everything I write on this blog is true.

    Sadly. Yes.

    A fiction writer I may be, but I just don't have the capacity to make this crap up.

    Take today for example.  Its been an extremely pleasant day. I spent a lot of it having coffee with friends and ambling around Chatswood Chase.  Most days I'm at home doing the housework (do you hear that hysterical laughing, yes? that's my husband), writing and discussing life with the chooks.  But today I had a day-off, and got out amongst it.

    Blogging wise there wasn't much to report; no dramas, no loss of dignity (yes, actually, I do have some left), no cause for Capital Letters.

    Until (and OH, you knew that was coming) it was time to pick up the kids.

    You see, I'd just parked in a quiet cul-de-sac deep in the heart of North Shore suburbia, and ALL OF A SUDDEN I nearly ran over a goat.
    Well okay, maybe 'running over' is a mild exaggeration.

    But there I was, sitting in the car and a man wanders past with the biggest, most snowy white goat I've ever seen.   He didn't have it on a lead or anything, and if it decided to dawdle or wander off in the wrong direction, he'd grab one of its horns and gently urge it along.


    Goats.  I ask you.

    In other exciting news, check out the salad we had for dinner.
    Grew it all myself.

    Just had to have a boast.


    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    The Chook News - Edition III

    Drama in Hen House

    In news just in, there has been a marked increase in swarking, clucking and Ill Humour coming from the direction of Chook Run.  Landlord and local F-list celebrity, Caitlyn Nicholas said, "I've been expecting something like this."

    Further investigation has revealed a difficult situation.

    An Australorp, referred to as either Pecky or That Wretched Hen; very warm, very cross and refusing under any circumstances to leave her nest.  

    Broodyness has entered The Coop.

    It is reported that in a moment of uncontrollable temper Pecky pecked the hand that feeds her.  Landlord and local F-list celebrity, Caitlyn Nicholas said, "This is my fault for letting the kids call her Pecky."

    The situation causing much consternation amongst the other members of The Coop.  

    Egg Laid On Head

    Late yesterday afternoon Karen Francis Chicken (KFC to friends and family) whilst possessed by a desperate urge to lay an egg, was dismayed to find her favourite nest Occupied.  Much leg crossing, hopping from one foot to another and turning in circles ensued.

    Squarking, pecking and bickering did nothing to resolve the situation. Landlord and local F-list celebrity, Caitlyn Nicholas said, "Oh like I can get chickens to resolve conflict, look how my children behave."

    Matters were resolved without further intervention when KFC made herself comfortable on the nest with its vile tempered occupant and laid her egg, oblivious to the deep distress she was causing.

    Sunlight a Cure

    Landlord and local F-list celebrity, Caitlyn Nicholas said, "Dad, I don't care that your mad Grandmother used to sit broody chickens on a bowl of ice and put an upturned bucket on top of them, until they got over it. I am not doing that to my chicken."

    Repeated referral to The Chook Book and other poultry references has revealed that broodyness is gently cured by sunlight and fresh air. An investigation into Landlord and local F-list celebrity, Caitlyn Nicholas's fridge has revealed an egg-glut of 38 eggs.  This dire situation goes some way to explaining her deep ambivalence about the fact that Pecky is not laying at the moment, and her final statement about the situation; "I think we'll let nature take its course."

    Check back for minute-by-minute updates on developments as they happen.

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    Back to Basics Challenge - Week 4 & 5

    Each week I take part in Belinda's Back to Basic's challenge.

    What's happening in the garden
    • Harvesting
      • Turnips, lettuce, beetroot leaves
    • Observing
      • Cherry tomatoes ripening
        • Snow peas flowering
        • Watermelon, zuchinni, squash, tomato, leek seedlings making an appearance
      • Egg total : 22 this week, 16 last week

      Thursday, August 19, 2010

      The Day My Midriff Escaped - a tale of woe

      So its 3pm and I'm flitting about the car line picking up the screamies, exchanging banter with the other mums and inhaling a lot of carbon monoxide.    Miss 4 greets me in her usual way...
      "Have you got a special treat??"
      I respond in my usual way...
      And let the screaming commence...
      Eventually, after promising apple juice when we get home, we get to the car and I bundle my two tired and tearful termagants inside.
      It's at that point I realise my midriff is cold. Colder than it should be. Much colder than if it was tucked into my jeans and hiding discreetly under my top.
      Oh yes. My midriff has escaped.

      Let me describe the horror. No. I want too. I want the internet to forever remember how attractive my midriff really is, post kids.

      The scarf serving as a belt is where it should be, around the top of my hips.  But my far-too-big jeans  had sagged, and then sagged again, forming attractive flappy handfuls of fabric, held up only by the belt loops.  Mmm, pretty.

      But it gets worse.

      You see at the front, the sagging had caused the jeans to unzip themselves, exposing my pink dog-chewed underpants, AND (if that wasn't enough) the bow of the scarf was fetchingly supporting my post-kids jelly belly as it peered out from under my top.

      I just keep telling myself that noone notice.  Because who goes around staring at other people's midriff in car line? I mean Who Does That??

      Given that little embarrassment, that I had Miss 4's Kindi interview and that my husband was about to stage an intervention, I decided it was time for shopping.

      Shopping is not something I view as a past-time.

      The first disaster was that this year's colours are nude, pinky nude, beige and pinky beige.  All colours that make me look like a warm corpse.  I was persuaded into a puffed sleeves pinky nude thing by a desperately eager sales assistant. She actually flinched when I came out of the change room.  Yes. That bad.

      So this year I shall be wearing black and longing for when the reds, dark purples and blues come back in again.  Black is fine. I picked up some nice tops and a couple of pairs of jeans, and even a jacket IN SIZE 10.

      The next disaster occurred when I glanced at my watch and realised I needed to be at the Kindi interview asap.  So, still dressed in my saggy jeans, I hurtled to school and commenced a quick change in the front seat of the car, ripping off labels as I went.  Two minutes to go and I was sorted.  Looking and feeling good. I even had a real belt.

      I managed to get all the lables - and didn't wander about with 12s 12s 12s 12s plastered down the back of my leg (the s stands for short-arse).  But it was as I got out of the car that the random thought 'security camera' entered my head.  Ah yes. Hello there disaster number three.  Carefully, and without turning my head (so it wouldn't see me looking) I scanned the car park and spotted it.  Just where I had a nasty feeling it would be, staring directly into the windscreen of my car with its one dead-eye.

      Some things in this life are better not to know.   I have decided that there was no way I could have been filmed pulling off my top and squeezing into jeans that I have every intention of shrinking into.  No way at all. I have also decided that no one actually watches security footage and they'll have recorded over it by next week anyway.

      Ah denial. Its warm in here.


      Wednesday, August 18, 2010

      Jackie French - Teaching Kids To Read

      On Tuesday I had the privilege of attending a talk given by Jackie French. She came to the kid's school to speak about teaching children to read.  Her talk, for me, was life-changing. Jackie has been a huge influence for a long time, her books on homemaking and sustainable living have put me on the path I am now treading.  But, it was what she had to say about learning to read, children who have difficulty learning to read and her own journey with dyslexia that meant so much to me.
      You see I'm dyslexic.  I never had trouble reading, though I have problems with the order of the letters of the alphabet, and I had a lot of trouble writing.  For the first two years of school I wrote backwards, and my mother still has childish paintings with YROT scrawled across the bottom.  I also had a lot of trouble with mathematics and to this day cannot fathom times tables.  
      To hear Jackie talking about the issues she'd had with the manifestations of her dyslexia was, for the first time in my life, to hear someone talking seriously about dyslexia.  I had always been told my dyslexia was something of an idiosyncrasy, and that if I tried hard enough I could overcome it.  Which has been true, to a degree.  But Jackie's approach was to work with the areas that cause the problems, instead of battling away at them until they're overcome.  It was a lightbulb moment for me, and the concept is one that I'm still digesting. 
      So, here are my notes from Jackie's talk.

      Monday, August 16, 2010

      RWA 2010 - A-Day - Rest of Notes Up

      I've put up the rest of my notes from the RWAus Conference Authors day at

      Putting Wheels Back On

      What with conferences, a plethora of kids parties and school-y stuff thus far August has lurched along with much of my hard won organisation flushing itself down the toilet.  What has surprised/dismayed/stunned (pick one or all) me the most is how fast the wheels fell off.

      I  was out-of-the-house busy from Wednesday to Sunday, missed making meal plans and shopping on Thursday. This led to three nights of take-away, everyone buying their lunches, scrounging to feed people over the weekend, and a heavy reliance on the egg pile in the fridge - which was great, but when you've not had time to make bread... sigh.

      In my defence I tried to do the shopping on Sunday. Miss 6 had a party down in Mosman and I optimistically took myself to Mosman IGA.  Ah ha. Ha, ha, ha.  The. Prices.

      I know they change the prices depending on the supermarket location but this was ridiculous.  In the end I bought the ingredients for dinner (spag bol), some orange juice (Miss 4 has mouth ulcers, poor little mite, so am upping vit C) and some teabages (Nerada, not even the fancy pants Twinings ones - that were priced at $15.99, and are $9.99 in our Coles) and the whole lot set me back $54.

      So, due to all the take-away and unplanned spending the budget has blown out.  Thank goodness for Hubs who diligently kept the washing ticking over - though now there's a gigantic a clean clothes pile.  No surface of the house is clear, and the kitchen is a disgrace.

      Been to Coles this morning, and right now I am multi-tasking writing this and cleaning and redesigning websites, plus I've got an extra kid-free hour up my sleeve today. So am glueing the wheels back on.  Slowly. And with much effort.  Much as I enjoy being around people, I always find it really energy sapping, and today I'm tired and want to snug in bed, reading all the Mills&Boons I picked up at the conference.  Yawn. Not be to though.

      One thing the few days of chaos has reminded me of, is how I admire Mothers Who Work - full time, part time, anytime, anywhere.  I mean, yes, I work - writing and homemaking - but its flexible, and I have a high degree of freedom.  I do not have the pressure of working away from home, and ladies who do... I salute you.

      Me: What are you drawing?
      Miss 4: Its abstract art Mummy. *Rolls eyes.*

      Am twittering wheels-back-on-day. @caitlynnicholas

      Sunday, August 15, 2010

      Announcing Tory Hayward

      What is going on with the blog and the website??  They appear to be All Over The Place - which actually is understatement of the week.


      I am creating a new online identity and pen name.  I won't go into huge details (massively boring) but...

      Saturday, August 14, 2010

      I had a wet t-shirt and he had wee on his trousers

      You can tell that I took the family out in public AGAIN.

      So imagine, if you will, that you have spent the morning cleaning bathrooms, wrangling tired and crabby children and pantsing your husband at every opportunity.  Then, you glance at the clock and realise you have to be at the RWAus2010 conference in an hour,  AND that a crucial part of your planned outfit is presently a crumpled heap on the floor and suffering badly from the last time you wore it and forgot to deodorise your right armpit.

      That would've been me at around 11am this morning.  Needless to say, aforementioned top was immediately washed. Not on a short wash. No. On a long wash. That I couldn't stop.  Because there wasn't quite enough stress in my life.

      Next, fast forward to me, getting in the car with a top just pulled from the washing machine, on a bright cool day with a brisk breeze.  Wretchedly, miserably Cold.

      Of course we were running just a smidge late by this point, and so when, Miss 4 announced that she needed a wee when we were surrounded by six lanes of stationary traffic, there was a minor loss of patience on my part (I am an outstanding parent, we all know this).

      Having made it to a quiet side street, hubs lost the coin toss and ended up being 'the assistant.'  We were on a steep hill and within moment his left shoe found itself placed, somewhat unfortunately, downstream.

      There was a great deal of surprisingly athletic hopping on his part, a deeply disconcerted Miss 4, who nevertheless continued to perform like a professional, and unkind snickering from me. The entire situation came to a climax with a howl of distress from hubs as the tide curled up over his shoe, soaked itself into his jeans, his sock and dribbled inside his shoe.

      When we arrived at the conference my top was still damp and clingy and, well, hubs squelched slightly as he walked. An irresistible pair.


      Friday, August 13, 2010

      RWA 2010 - A-Day Dr John Barletta

      Dr John Barletta is a clinical psychologist who came to talk to us about Engagement and Flow in your writing life.  These are my notes from his (rather hurried) talk, and I think they give a few starting points where writers can examine their own motivation (or lack of) to write.

      RWA 2010 - A-Day Jennifer Schober

      On Thursday I spent the day at the Coogee Bay Crowne Plaza, attending the inaugural Romance Writers of Australia Published Authors day (or A-day).  It was a wonderful day with an awesome line up of speakers, and I'll put up some posts of my notes over the next couple of days.

      Monday, August 09, 2010

      New Bio

      Have been writing self new bio to go up on sites like Amazon and Goodreads...
      I love writing. It’s my happy place.  Other happy places include my garden and my kitchen, both situated in my uninspiring 70s red brick house in suburban Sydney, Australia. I love eating. I also love my dog, my cat, my chickens, my children and my husband. Mostly. And not always in that order.  Some days I spend a great deal of time suppressing the urge to strangle the lot of them. This is because they see it as their God-given purpose to interrupt my favorite activities. Yes, writing, gardening and eating.
      Some might describe me as obdurate and cranky.  But I like to see it as being mis-understood.  A rough diamond.  A heart of gold.  I am immensely pleasant on the inside.
      To my mother’s eternal startlement I am the author of two novels and a couple of short stories.  I also have another couple of books slowly making their way through the publication process.  My pathway to publication was beyond usual. I went from never-written-a-word to published in nine months, I have books in bookshops all over the US, but have never actually seen them, and I am incapable of following guidelines when it comes to writing anything. Especially biographies.

      Sunday, August 08, 2010

      Back to Basics Challenge - Week 3

      What's happening in the garden
      • Sowing seed
        • Dwarf Beans, Climbing beans, cucumber, basil, sweetcorn
      • Planting
        • Leek border in front garden
      • Harvesting
        • Tatsoi, pak choy, lettuce, beetroot leaves
      • Observing
        • Cherry tomatoes ripening, broad beans getting taller daily, leek seedlings starting to come up
        • Egg total : 22
        What I've been doing
        • Planning for The Future
          • Thinking about moving pool fence
          • Pool electrics need to be fixed before weather warms
          • Trying to get blogging/writing time into a structure to stop feeling overwhelmed and taking time away from kids to fulfil commitments.
        • Working for the Future
          • Weekly menu plan - detailed weekly lunch/dinner plan, used for making a shopping list - working well 
          • A lot of writing stuff
          • New composting system starting to work well - and got worm farm up and running properly
        • Fun Stuff
          • Building Community
            • Attended kid's school ball - lots of new friends
            • Attending Jackie French talk at kids school
          • Learn a new Skill
            • Old skill reused: Dancing the night away, sipping champagne, feeling tired and seedy the next day and curing it with pizza
        • Becoming less porky
          • Present weight 75.8kgs (top of healthy weight range for my height: 67kgs)
        Week Summary
        • Third week of school, spent a lot of it finding socks, washing socks and losing socks
        • Weekly food shop under $200
        • Have got big possum out of roof - now living in possum box :)  Two little brush tails still getting in
        • Removed weed matting from sweetcorn bed, dug over and planted first months planting of corn - 16 plants
        • Twittered a lot

        Saturday, August 07, 2010

        Best Night Ever



        Last night hubs and I danced the evening away at the Kid's School's birthday ball.  Have not had such an awesome time since before kids :)  It made the throbbing earlobes, the eyebrow waxing and the manicuring all worth it.

        Kids were up at six this morning though, and are presently bouncing around with no thought that their poor poor parents have only had four hours sleep, swigged rather a large number of glasses of champagne, and pulled several crucial muscles on the dancefloor.

        I am far too old for this sort of thing.

        Thursday, August 05, 2010

        Beautification not going to plan...

        Tell me, would you keep them after you overheard the following conversation....

        Miss 6: I don't like the taste of the stuff in my ears
        Miss 4: but the stuff up my nose is okay, I always eat it

        WOULD YOU???

        Barely coping today after disastrous manicure made my stumpy fingers look even stumpier.  This on top of deciding to wear earrings again and ending up with a purple throbbing earlobe AND a particularly vicious eyebrow wax that has made me look like I'm wearing scarlet eyeshadow.  You can tell I'm trying to feel good about myself can't you.

        Is it wrong to be drinking whilst the kids watch Playschool??


        Monday, August 02, 2010


        Cold wet and utterly utterly miserable today.  A 50kmph freezing dry westerly (which caused me to be zapped every time I touch any metal surface) was eventually overtaken by an even colder rainy southerly.  I put the chooks to bed early, well, they were already in there, and I just shut the gate of their pen.  Our two Australorps like to roost on the top of the door to their little coop, and in this wind they are presently spending the evening being blown briskly back and forth, back and forth.  They seem deeply unimpressed by this, but are hanging on for grim life regardless.

        Well, at least the poo will be evenly spread over the floor.

        Bit of an end of an era in the Nicholas household this weekend.  Miss 6 has moved out of her car seat and into a booster seat. She was having too compress her spine and sort-of wedge her shoulder blades into her rib cage to sit in it. I also realised that once I'd clipped it shut she couldn't really draw air into her lungs properly - which was why she was always so quiet in the car.  Alas now she is a lot noisier when travelling, and prone to criticising her mother's music selection on the iPod and demanding I play the 'shut the damn door song' - I have no idea which song this is.

        Speaking of outstandingly slack parenting, I also realised today that Miss 4s feet were physically larger than the school shoes she was wedging them into.  Ah yes.  This morning she looked at me with a pained expression and said 'please may I have some new shoes,' (imagine Oliver Twist asking for more porridge).  Naturally it was the first I'd heard about ill-fitting shoes, and it was just before we were due to leave for school.  So, I advised her to take them off as soon as she got there and we'd get some more asap.  Glancing in the rear vision mirror as I drove out of the carpark, I saw Miss 4 sitting on the footpath removing her shoes and two bemused car-line supervisors trying to figure out what she was doing.  I went just a little bit faster.  Needless to say we've been to visit the wonderful Jill at the shoe shop this afternoon, and Miss 4 is now fast asleep in bed wearing her brand new shoes.