Thursday, September 30, 2010

Inside Tumut Library

So have found Wend, and am now tucked in comfy chair with laptop and dongle, waiting for closing time.  I had no reason to mention computer dongle then, except I always find utter glee in the word dongle.
Tumut Library. A bustling hive of bustling.

Next is a trip to Woolies (getting milk), and then the saleyards (meeting with person about sales tomorrow, or something, I just follow around now...) and then home to Wend's place. Where, I have been assured that we can park the X-trail in such a way as to make sure that cows do not lick the windows.

But I WANT cows to lick the windows. The X-trail needs cow-lick cred, also they may have better luck with 450km worth of stuck on bugs than the windscreen wipers.

Am pretty sure will be off radar, phone and internet coverage wise, in very near future. I know. Deep breaths.

Deeeeeep breaths.


At library, next to find Wend...


400 kms

East of Gundagai


Lunch in Yass.

320 kms behind me and about 200 to go.


Spent first hour avoiding caravans and remembering what id forgotten.
A lot of things as it turns out. Also 4 cups tea before a long drive
is a bad bad idea.


Hitting road

Random conversations yesterday

Walking past busy park to the car, with hands full of shopping bags, two cushions, and a shoe box filled with stuffed toys:
Miss 4: "Is that where babies come from."
Lunges to grab part of me where, indeed, babies did come from.
Me: "Argh." As I overbalance trying not to trip over Miss 4 or wipe her out with a shopping bag.  Drop cushions etc, which is good because they... er... cushion me as I land, quite gracefully on the pavement.
Miss 4, watching as I pick myself up: "Can we plant sweetcorn when we get home?"

Miss 6 around 2am: "I wet the bed."
Hubs gets up and does the sheet change. No biggie.
Miss 4 around 7am: "I wet the bed."
Me from near the teapot in the kitchen: "Snuggle in ours, no biggie."
Miss 4 around 7.03am: "I wet your bed."
Me, thinking about how last time we changed the sheets the mattress protector was still damp and we left it off: "Whose side were you on?"
Miss 4: "Daddy's"
As I pour a cup of tea. "No biggie."


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Me on holiday + boots + back to work

I don't take holidays much (as in lying on beaches), but I do travel (as in backpacking in China). Or I used to. Before Kids, until I swapped freedom for no sleep and borderline mental illness. Yay parenting.

So, on Thursday I'm getting back to my adventuresome roots, and hitting the road - heading south to Tumut, then off to the West Wyalong to spend two days at a Campdraft, then back to Canberra to catch up with wonderful friends and home to Sydney on Monday afternoon.

I'm hoping to blog by posting from my phone. BUT, am going waaaay off the beaten track, where phone and computer dongle are not relevant, so shall do my best.  Stay tuned.

So boots.  Just a pair of $80 Baxters. Nothing spesh.
Well, actually, a bit spesh for me. You see, like the travel, my lifelong love affair with horses had to go on hold when I had children. Small kids and horses mix about as well as small kids and finding your way around Spain on public transport. (Yes, I know brave souls who've made both work, and done it with style - but I wasn't that confident).

So the boots, which can be used for riding, like the travel to new places, are skerricks of my old life which, now the kids are getting older, are suddenly becoming do-able again. I feel like I'm getting back a little bit of me, a bit I didn't realised I'd missed so much.

Its been a turbulent few weeks here at Chez Nicholas. Visitors and end of term insanity added to the massive strain hubs and I were under due to insecurity about his job.

When I left work in March last year, I swore I would not go back. I had tried to do it all, and be it all, and hit the wall with such force that I'm still recovering. Actually, my story will be in a book, coming out at the end of October called Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me. But more on that then!

With hub's work issues, it became clear that if we were going to keep this little boat afloat I'd have to get myself back into paid employment. So, I grabbed the paper, open the page and my eye fell on a teeny weeny ad, for a PA, local, part time. Actually perfect.

"Ah Cr*p," I said (well actually I said F*ck, loudly).

I knew I could not ignore the ad. I did not want to return to work. I was terrified I'd end up like before. I love my life at home. I love the peace and rhythm of my life. I love spending my days in the garden or writing or both.

But I'm also a realist. Floating about, homemaking, is not much use when there is no home to make.
So I applied for the job.

My application was received with delight and enthusiasm, to and fro of emails, phone calls and good chats. Well, I've got 18 years experience as a PA, and as the Other Party said, 'your cv just goes on and on.' Well, yes. Rather like this blog post.

My heart got heavier and heavier. Things were not looking good for hubs. Visitors meant we had no time to talk, the bickering suddenly escalated to rowing, and fights were blossoming from nowhere. I was in agony over the job, every part of me was howling that I couldn't bear to re-enter the workforce, whilst the rest of me was howling equally noisily that I didn't have much choice.

Things wound tighter and tighter until, on Thursday, hubs was called in to a meeting at 4.30pm.
We watched the clock all day, and as it hit 4.30, the phone here rang.

I did not want to go back to work.

At 4.38pm I was offered a job. But not the job I'd been expecting. Not a PA role, but a role tailor made for me, using my particular skills in a way that frankly, I'd do for free (its to do with databases, and databases make me faint with excitement). Its casual, flexible and local. Yup its adding another dimension to life and some things here will have to give, like the garden and the breadmaking. But just for now. Its okay. Its good. Its bloody brilliant. Its a lifeline chucked into my abyss of despair (oh WHAT, I write romance ffs, also am weary).

I still cannot believe that this is how it happened.

And hubs? At 4.38pm he was getting good news too. Great awesome news that makes me all teary with pride. Nothing in writing as yet, so can't go into details (and frankly, they're a bit meh for anyone but us). But things are looking good. We're daring to hope the future is secure, that Things are going to be okay.

Now. Sense of Humour, where did you go?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cottees Post and Comp - WTF?

Slight technical issue with the Cottees post.  Will be going back up, and we'll redo the comp then - its not just me, its all blogs involved.

Here is a lolcat to entertain you in the interim.

Monday, September 27, 2010

First Day of the School holidays

 Seeds arrived from Diggers this morning.

Have spent quality bonding time with children planting them.

God knows what is going to come up where.  Am mostly hoping that I can transplant things once I figure out what they are.  Who knows. It'll probably be more successful than that barren desert my seed raising beds.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Back to Basics Challenge - Week 10

What's happening in the garden
  • Moon and Stars watermelon seedlings (above), rockmelon seedlings, got grapes and apricot into the ground, tomato seedlings, basil, cos lettuce, other lettuces

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sexxy Knitting

I apologise, we have not had a good sexxy knitting catalogue photo for ages, so here are three...

I wonder what he is shouting?
Help, my trousers just cut off my testicle?
Come back, serial killers don't wear naff jumpers?
My jumper matches the car upholstery?

Does this neckerchief  make my hair look boofy?
Cannot. Get. Enough. Oxygen.
Help, my sideburns just invaded my ears? Pardon?
What do you mean polyester is flammable?

I can tell what he's thinking here... "International spies need to dress to fit in with the locals, they'll never discover my secret identity as a Russian double agent if I dress like this."

Photos courtesy of mum's vast machine-knitting pattern collection. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Garden Photos

Please excuse me whilst I play with the new camera :)

These are avocado flowers...
Avocado flowers start off as girl flowers, then after a couple of days turn into boy flowers. In warm climates all the flowers open together, and so they're all girls and then boy flowers at the same time, unsurprisingly, not much fertilising happens.

As usual I wasn't sure if we were going to get them all opening at once, or gradually - as we hover uncertainly between a sub-tropical and a temperate climate here.  But here we have the proof, they're opening gradually. So I'll get a mix of girls and boys and before we know it, baby avocados will be on their way.

Spike lavender, how amazing is that colour?

Wonderful cheery chrysanthemums...

And, check these beauties out!  Our two cherry blossoms - the cherry tree is just 60cm tall, and this is going to be our crop this year - and I was rather chuffed just to get these, truth be told.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yes I have been photographing my own socks - updated

Am presently whelmed by inlaws (not sure if over, or under, but certainly one of them)
I think my socks really sum up how I'm coping.

Not a bad photo though, and that's because finally, finally, after months of blurry mobile photos we have a new camera.  It was hub's 40th pressie from his mum, and I have let him play with it exclusively for a whole 24hrs.  Yes. Am generosity itself.


Updated to add...

Hubs just got home from work...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

This is why I should never interact with others...

Me: How's your day?
Friend: Not so good actually.
Me: On no, what's gone tits-up?
Friend: My girlfriend has to have a breast biopsy.
small silence
Me: Um, awful. Hope it comes back clear. [very quietly] sorry about the tits-up thing


End of conversation with girlfriend, had possibly consumed a few wines...
Me: So I'll call or email or something before I arrive
Wend: Great, looking forward to it
Me: Okay, love you, bye.
startled silence during which I try to decide if I should own the accidental  love you, explain that I'm drunk and its my usual sign-off for Hubs, or just hang up
Wend: Ur, bye.
Phone goes dead.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Back to Basics Challenge - Week 9

What's happening in the garden
  • Planting - zucchini and squash seedlings, tomato and basil seedlings, and two red currant plants
  • Harvesting - spuds, broccoli, lettuce, celery, lemon
  • Observing, asparagus making an appearance
    • rhubarb starting to come up (the white blurry blob is a statue-thing, new camera days away, hurray :))

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In-Laws and Botulism - just another day at Chez Nicholas

I was only vacuuming around it, honest, and it just... broke.
Its been one of those days, the car electrics went all wonky and it was sure the handbrake was on, when it was off, I chose the leaking milk out of all the milks in the fridge at woolies and didn't realise until I was standing at the checkout, and the coffee table inexplicably split in half.


Hubs thinks it's due to suppressed anxiety manifesting itself in a physical sense, but, as we all know, I'm totally crap at suppressing anything (in particular burps, but that's another blog post).  I think it's all just My Life and The Drama that surrounds it.

Am presently coping with the first wave of in-laws, so far so good, though have been googling symptoms of botulism, Just In Case.  Long story, and I'm sure I haven't given them botulism with my nectarine crumble, but one can never be too careful.  If The Worst happens, then you never read this, okay?

In other news, am almighty chuffed that a previous blog rant has been featured on's Myspot page.  Link is here.  Just looking at that by-line saying Caitlyn Nicholas makes me go all grin-ny. Have been sending off boastful WOO HOO emails to family and friends all day, most of whom are so under-whelmed that they don't even qualify for the -whelmed bit.  Okay so FINE, Mumndad are swanning about on holiday with my Sister (did I get invited? NO - Such Appalling Favouritism) and don't have time in between Devonshire Teas and Pints of Guinness for lengthy congratulatory emails.  But I still think a bouquet of flowers and a teary telegram is not too much to expect.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Homebrewed Cider

The shortest route to the shed from the front garden is through the house.  SOMEONE decided that carrying the straw bales through instead of around would be quicker.
Not for She Who Wields The Vacuum Cleaner. sigh.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Crabapple Trees

I've wanted a Crabapple for a long, long time.

So it was with almost hysterical excitement, that, whilst hubs was watching the kids on the bouncy castle at Swanes, I sneaked a Crabapple tree in our trolley.

Ta Daaaa...
My new pride and joy.  Impressive huh?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thank Goodness They're Okay...

M'brother-in-law and his partner have been driving around Australia for the last couple of months.  Plans were that they'd arrive in Sydney in a few weeks time.  However these plans got derailed when they ended up like this...
And the other guys ended up like this...

The full story, told characteristically matter of factly, is here.  Check out the spot reference in the post to see how ridiculously remote they were.  The more recent posts also tell of their journey back to Darwin on a road train.

Here at Chez Nicholas we are just SO GLAD noone was hurt, and can't wait for Dr C and Ann to arrive here in a couple of days so we can hug them to bits, and feed them, and have free babysitters.

Argh, life just knocks you sideways sometimes.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Because it'd be too much to ask to get through the week with dignity intact

So there's this petrol station.  I tend to avoid it because when I go there Things go horribly wrong.  Last time I went the creddy card was refused and we had no money in the bank account.


Well, yesterday I had the choice; fill up at That petrol station, or run out of fuel on the Pacific Highway in peak hour.  What could go wrong, I reasoned.

What. Could. Go. Wrong?
  • First, I (for reasons best known to myself) managed to park on the Wrong side of the bowser 
  • With keys and wallet in hand, remove petrol cap and haul nozzle over to far side of car
  • Curse petrol bowser and its Very Little Hose
  • Heave on hose, just get end of nozzle into tank
  • Commence filling, cover self in petrol backwash due to nozzle not actually being in tank
  • Swear
  • Heave on hose
  • Drop petrol cap, which skitters away, thrilled with freedom
  • Swear
  • Let go of hose
  • Accidentally press panic button on car keys
  • Car alarm goes off
  • Wonder who is the idiot with the car alarm going off?
  • Have stunning moment of realisation
  • Swear
  • Forget how to turn off car alarm
  • Swear more
  • Notice petrol cap rolling leisurely down hill, aiming for gutter, busy road, steeper hill, heavy traffic etc
  • Too appalled to swear at all
  • Sprint after petrol cap (alarm still going but starting to sound a bit weary).
  • Nearly get run over by police car as dive into gutter to get cap
  • Sprint back to car, remembering how to turn off alarm - alarm turned self off by this stage, so this reactivates it
  • Turn off alarm
  • Place petrol cap, wallet and keys in safe pile behind back wheel, realise petrol hose is short because the nozzle will angle itself into the tank
  • Fill up car, amazingly cheaply
  • Arrive to pay
  • "Having a good day?" asks grinning smarty-pants cashier
  • Narrow eyes dangerously at cashier - pay smoothly
  • Back in car, realise only filled tank up half (reason for cheapness)
  • Reverse out of space
  • Misjudge, have brush with bollard protecting LPG gas tanks
  • Limp 100m to carpark, inspect damage - small scuff on bumper
  • Arrive for coffee with friends, reeking of petrol and minus any shred of aplomb I may have woken up with.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back to Basics Challenge - Week 8

What's happening in the garden
  • Planting - Apricot tree (half Moorepark and half Trevatt), Crabapple tree (Malus Gorgeous) , Grapes (red emperor, emerald seedless) and final spuds - fruit trees and grapes Father's Day pressy for Hubs
    • Us getting the apricot and crabapple home - neither children nor apricot were happy at above 60kmph

  • Harvesting - spuds, broccoli, carrot, lettuce
    • lettuces and cherry tomato in tub at back door 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Sunflower Challenge and Climate Watcher

Landcare Australia have kicked off a program called Climate Watch and are...
"... asking all Australians to become citizen scientists as part of Landcare Week 6 - 13 September, 2010." 
I have signed up, and henceforeth wish to be addressed as Citizen Scientist, and if you could throw in a salute or something, that'd be good too.

Despite the ridiculous names, the program is about watching a variety of species of birds, insects, lizards and frogs in your back garden, and logging your sightings into a database.

I am so there, and if you want to be there too, the link is

So far I've logged the White Cabbage Butterfly, which was helping itself to my Broccoli yesterday.

And the Crested Pigeon, three of which are presently acting out a love triangle under the swings.

Landcare are also doing a Junior Sunflower Challenge - to see who can grow the tallest, biggest Sunflowers.

We've gone a bit Sunflower mad at Chez Nicholas.  The kids helped order several packets of Sunflowers from Diggers the other week and are hotly anticipating their arrival.  We'll be growing some Little Diggers Giant F1 (below), and some Teddy Bear Sunflowers (above).

So, naturally, the thought of a Sunflower challenge was irresistible.   We've signed up for the Sunflower challenge and are excitedly waiting for our challenge seeds to arrive from Landcare.

I have No Idea where I'm going to plant them all.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Dinner from the Garden

Spuds, swede, broccoli and snow peas - all home grown and all eaten for dinner last night along with some awesome slow cooked lamb.  There are some peas in there too, but I ate them out of the pods before they got anywhere near the steamer.

We don't have enough to eat home grown every night, but at the moment every meal has something from the garden in it.

Hubs and I have been  looking forward to this all winter.  The vege garden is a lot of work, especially when we're both so busy, and this year its felt like we've done nothing but plant things that we have to wait a year or more to produce anything. We keep telling ourselves we're just getting established, but it can be really frustrating.

Now, however, the hard work is starting to pay off, just a teensy bit.  The kids are completely excited about it all - well, not excited enough to actually eat the lettuce they carefully picked - and a family trip around the garden is now mandatory after school, just to see what's changed since yesterday.

My plan for urban bliss feels like its crept one step closer.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Anxiety - its stalking me like a Panther in the Desert

Hmm, let's not get into the likelihood of Panthers in deserts.

I was never a particularly anxious person, until I had children.  Then, within days of finding out I was pregnant, a myriad of worry opened itself up to me, and like everyone else I was dragged screaming over the abyss.

The anxiety has waxed and waned over time; the cot death worry was replaced by the choking worry.  The nappy rash worry was replaced by the wiping, flushing, washing worry. The separation anxiety was replaced by the 'hope she eats her lunch or she'll be feral' worry.

But lately I find myself contending with a new worry. A new ominous worry.

The worry that goes by the name NITS.

Now we've had nits.  Couple of months ago found the little critters on Miss 4.  NITS, I thought, this'll be worth a blog post. No worries.  Bit of shampoo and there we go.

But then I discovered the Nit landscape had changed.  No more soaking your child in DDT and she'll be right (hell, I survived), no more shaving their head and dousing them in petrol (okay, that didn't happen when I was a kid - that I know of - but it was once a cure).

No, there are nit combs and choices between chemical and natural, and essential oils and shower caps and soaking-in and more combing and the cetaphil cure.  Frankly its a choice of how you want your nit; baked, suffocated or chemically dehydrated.


Of course, if there is a natural way to deal with these things, then that's what I want to do - and holy mother of god the screaming.  Miss 4 (she of sensitive scalp) went ballistic.  I didn't know what to do but keep going, as she had to be nit free to go to school.  It was one of those parenting moments that will haunt me forever.

Despite the angst, the natural soak-em-in-oil and comb-em-out method worked.  And except for my propensity to start rocking in corners whenever one of the kids scratched her head, we've gone along fine since then.

Until yesterday.  Nits have made a reappearance at school.

This news, on top of insecurity about hubs job and a terrifying near miss on the motorway that afternoon, sent me plunging straight over the edge of the anxiety abyss.  Yes.  Even after two glasses of wine I was still replaying the moment when a ute forced me to cut-off a speeding B-Double, or have him hit my rear end, and was unable to face dragging a fine-toothed nit comb through my screaming child's hair.

But, the buck stops with me, and the situation had to be dealt with.

So, I poured more wine, braced myself with a large bag of marshmallows, a nit comb, and some Cetaphil lotion, and we commenced.


It was fine.

There were no nits.  No lice, no eggs - though I did the treatment anyway, they're slippery little suckers.  The Cetaphil lotion went on a lot easier than the oil based treatment had, it made the hair easier to comb, and every time there was discomfort I shovelled another handful of marshmallows into her.

So Thank You (God, Universe, Whomever), I needed that kind of break - was about to run out of wine FFS, and  the only choice after that was the warm bottle of Moet we've been saving for 'special.'

In other news to gladden the heart - I've blogged before about Barbie dolls, and the fact that toy makers seem to think its cute to see little girls playing with dolls who look like street-walkers.  But below is Miss 4 dressed up in her version of what Barbie looks like.
I have no idea about the relevance of the reindeer puppet either.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Dad's Day in PJs

It's been a going-to-the-supermarket-without-a-bra-on kind of day at our house.  Now there is an image that's going to haunt the few family and friends who still read this blog.

It began early, with a world famous Caitlyn Nicholas Father's Day Chocolate Breakfast.

Which would not be complete without a photograph of the World Famous Caitlyn Nicholas in her dressing gown.
I had to make that hot chocolate and heat up those croissants on the BBQ - as, living in a 3rd world suburb, we had no power due to a tree falling over.  Felt all Survival Mom actually, I mean, its the middle of a 3hr blackout, but HELL, I still had warm mini croissants.

Day continued in much the same way, only with electricity. 

Father's Day, at our house, is about great food and making sure that hubs knows we all appreciate him and how hard he works.  I showed my endless gratitude by napping for two hours (what? there was a sunbeam across the bed...) so that he could spend the afternoon pushing his stir-crazy wind-maddened children on the swings in a Force 6 gale.  Bonding is a beautiful thing to see, is it not?

Its been a good day :)

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Back to Basics Challenge - Week 7

What's happening in the garden
  • Planting - carrots, leeks, white onions, red onions, zucchini, parsley, lettuce
  • Harvesting - first harvest of winter spuds (baked them, they were perfect :))

Friday, September 03, 2010

Oh Dear The Drum Kit Broke & Carrots

Tragedy today in the Nicholas household (WOO HOO - sorry cannot help self).  Alas, it seems someone left the electronic drum kit outside and then it rained (HURRAY). And now it no longer works (YEEEEE HAR).
Please let's all have a moments silence for the dearly departed drum kit.  Let's just listen to the silence. Aaaah, silence.

Anyway. Carrots. 

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Spring Hates Me - in 11 concise reasons

Look, I was going to do a huggy, gardeny post about spring with a bit of springy poetry and lots of photos of our three almond blossoms, but then I trod in still-warm dog barf.

So Spring.


Let me see, we've got...

  • Allergies - itching eyes, runny nose, and sneezing so often that instead of bless-you my family yells SHUT-UP
  • Swimming pools - need to fix electrics, move fence, service filter, add acid, chlorine, buffer and GOD KNOWS what else the man at the pool shop can dream up, or end up with the Loch Ness Monster's second cousin living in there
  • Swimming - cannot wait for a repeat of Miss 4s 'I've done a poo' incident from last year (had to get a new pool scoop after we fixed that problem).
  • Bugs - ah yes, the festering maddening welts that sand-flies like to give me, can't wait for them, the incessant whine of mosquitos the minute you've turned the light out, and MOTHS. Argh Moths.
  • Flies - did they breed in the chook poo, or the dog poo under the swings? My, I'm glad they're now inside sitting on the bread.
  • Mildew - if its not murdering the peas, then its wilting the zucchini OR growing up the walls and on the windows of the entire house and giving my children emphysema (any medical advice given on this blog should not be counted on as fact).
  • Neighbours - in their gardens, using their horrific leaf blowers, leaving their windows open so I Have To Hear Them. 
  • Burning Off - weeks of smoke haze, marvellous - because I hate fresh air and love watery eyes and my washing smelling of smoke (oh OKAY it might save my life or my house, but still...)
  • Clothing - do I wear wintery stuff and run the risk of niffy-pits due to all that sweltering? or do I wear summer stuff and run the risk of looking like a plucked chicken, and having to keep my arms crossed due to... um... high beams situation distracting friend's husbands (AWKWARD).
  • In-laws - spring is Visiting Season (GodHelpMe), and then to finish it all off...
  • Melbourne Cup - why do I always think I'm going to win? I have never won. The Melbourne Cup serves no purpose except to ROB me of my $3 in the Mother's Group Sweepstakes.

Please note: I shall be entering into the spirit of joy and rebirth and revelling in the heady waft of (next-door's invasive) Jasmine just as soon as I've steam-mopped away all evidence of the dog's afternoon snack of rancid cheese he dug out of the worm farm.