Thursday, June 30, 2011

Writerly Wednesday: Its easy peasy

Somehow this makes it all seem so much easier...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kung Fu Panda, Bridesmaids and Invisible Ink

I am writing this whilst swilling a glass of wine and scoffing brie and bbq shapes (classy eh??).  Today I took the kids to the movies, had Yum Cha for lunch, slothed about all afternoon (did put on load of washing, but that was mostly because dirty washing pile was blocking door to Other End of house and therefore the TV) had friends over AND did not tidy up beforehand, have done boil and serve tortellini for the kids dinner, and am letting hubs fend for himself.

So, am getting the hang of it, slowly.

We went to see Kung Fu Panda 2 at the movies, and it was just fantastic.  I'd heard that it was better than Kung Fu Panda 1, and it really is.  The animation is spectacular, and the story is wonderful.  There's enough to it to keep adults engaged and kids amused.  If you've got little people, or even if you don't, its well worth seeing.

Movie wise I was worried I was turning into a complete old biddy.  Saw Bridesmaids on the weekend - "the Hangover for girls" apparently - and was totally and utterly appalled by it.  It was just horrific.  Everyone keeps telling me they thought it was funny, but I didn't crack a single smile throughout the whole thing.  It was only because I thought it had to redeem itself at some point that I stayed to the end.  Needless to say, it did not redeem itself.

I thought it was me. I thought I'd suddenly turned into such a stuck-up old thing that I am offended by toilet humour.  I was brought up on toilet humour, cut my teeth on fart jokes, I couldn't understand what had happened to me...

But then, last night I was watching the QI Episode Espionage on iView, and weeping with laughter over the factoid that IF you are in dire need of invisible ink and have no lemon juice or milk to hand, then sperm will do just as well AND that the head of MI6 who recorded this riveting fact in his diary was none other than one Mansfield Cumming.

And it dawned on me that the problem with Bridesmaids was not so much the toilet humour, but it was the plot, which was weak and pointless, and the characters that were shallow.

I am just as crass as I always thought I was.

Well phew.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Not a patient patient

I have spent the weekend trying to do nothing.


Take it slow??  I have gardens to dig and meals to cook and THINGS to do.

I am trying.  (Yes, yes, very trying, ha ha).  But I sit down with a cup of tea to enjoy the sunshine and immediately spot the hole in the gazebo roof where a possum swan dived off the house roof onto it, and swiftly discovered it was a Very Bad Idea.  I try to enjoy the garden, but I want to dig in the green manure, and plant the lettuces, and look at those weeds, and I need to water the peas and... and...

Breathe... Breathe...

No, its not going particularly well.

Thus far two things have helped.  The first has been the complete and immediate banning of ALL multi-tasking.  I am working very hard on doing one thing at one time, and that thing alone.  If I am putting on a load of washing then I am not stopping or allowing myself to be interrupted until the machine is gurgling away and spilling half its water onto the floor (rotten seal).

Its much much harder than it sounds.

The second thing ground me to a halt.  And it was just a trip out with the family.

You see it was a friends 40th birthday breakfast yesterday morning, and those few hours of travelling, socialising and kid-wrangling drained me to a point where I teetered once more on the edge of losing it.  You see, after we got back I decided I'd go and do something in the garden (lettuces being top of the list).  But as I started to dig, I started to panic more and more about other jobs that needed to be done.  I felt overwhelmed, exhausted and close to tears.  I decided I must be hungry, but food didn't help the utterly wretched feeling of failure and anxiety, I just couldn't shake it.

Eventually, my exasperated husband intervened (he is a brave brave man) and I got sent to bed with Time Team on the lappie, immediately passed out and woke up three hours later.  Then moped about the house being crabby until Downton Abbey, and then crawled back into bed.

Yep.  Recovery plan going well.

I do learn though, eventually.  Today has been help-yourself breakfast, lunch at Maccers, trip to the shoe shop to spend gift vouchers :), dinner from the freezer and doing nothing that required any effort when the kids were playing outside, watching tv or monopolising the computer - whereas usually I'd been tearing around cleaning things, or folding things, or cooking stuff.  The multi-tasking has been up-graded to no-tasking (or very bare minimum tasking, as any parent will know), so maybe there is hope for me yet :).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Post Traumatic Stress

I thought I had depression.  I did not want depression, and I certainly did not want to go onto anti-depressants.  So, for the last few weeks I've been ignoring the symptoms and thinking that if I just went to bed earlier, or remembered to take my Omega-3s then it'd be all good.

But my exhaustion grew and grew.  I couldn't write, I couldn't read, I felt overwhelmed, useless, pointless, adrift.  My temper was on a hair-trigger, tears simmered just below the surface and my tolerance for any kind of stress was zero.  I felt like I took one step forward and two back.  Simple household chores were beyond me and my so-loved garden was just a burden.  I found driving so stressful that I was convinced I was on the verge of having an accident.

So yesterday I arrived on the door-step of my wise-woman, tissue in hand and trying not to cry because I was wearing make-up and had school stuff on later in the day.  I should've forgot about the makeup.

After she'd patiently listened to me rant and sob for half an hour, she smiled gently and told me I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress - NOT Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD - which War Veterans and the like get).

I have been living under a very high and sustained stress level for the last year, especially since January, when hubs became unemployed and Miss 5 started school.  Now that hubs is back at work and we are finally getting some concrete help with Miss 5, the stress levels are dropping and now its time for me to pay-the-piper. So I get sick (migraines), freak out (traffic, and anything else you care to think of), lose temper (with everything and everyone).

Because I haven't been able to take the time to nurture me, my tank is empty, I am exhausted, and my inner self has said enough is enough.

And all this the day before school holidays start.


So how do I recover from all this exhaustion?

Not pills, but cups of tea.  Not getting a cleaner, but giving myself a break and getting the family to help with the mess, or live with the filth.  Going to bed early. Eating well. Getting outside.  Less sugar, more fruit.  Getting the endorphins moving.  Taking short-cuts, being slack, cooking nothing but scrambled eggs.  Taking vitamins. Drinking water. Starting a new writing project. Having fun.  Cuddles.  Wine. Laughter.

And most of all, just breathing.

Actually, sounds quite fun.

I'm glad that depression wasn't mentioned.  And looking back, I can see that my mood was not as empty black as depression, that I didn't have the urge to check out to the degree of sleeping all the time, or suffering anxiety attacks.

And I'm looking forward to a school holidays where I am the slackest parent on earth.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy Yule

Last Tuesday was the Winter Solstice here in Australia.  It was a miserable night (weather-wise), a southerly gale hit Sydney, with freezing temperatures and rain.  So it was a perfect time to put together a Christmassy feast, snuggle in with the family and drink mulled wine.
The paltry remains
We had sandalwood, frankincense and sweet orange in the essential oil burner, and mulled wine warming on the stove, so the house smelled divine.  In a nod to Yule I cooked roast chicken with bread sauce, roast potatoes and pumpkin, gravy and all the trimmings.  Then we had homemade apple pie, with custard.  We lit the room with candles and had the woodfire roaring away in the corner.

Then we wrapped up warm, and went outside to light up the longest night of year with some sparklers.

The kids loved it, and hubs and I loved it too.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Meet Dirk, he's a hottie

Been doing a spot of knitting.  Latest creation is Dirk the Hottie cover - so named because he looks unsettlingly like a 70's roll neck jumper.
 This is my other hot water bottle cover, also made by me.  It doesn't have a name.  Hmm, maybe it should.  I know, we shall call her Celeste.
Celeste and Dirk
Now I can say I'm sleeping with Dirk and hubs is sleeping with Celeste.  Ah ha ha ha.

Hmm, just remembered that Miss 5s OT lady is called Celeste.  Ahem.  Let's change the subject.

Dirk has been upcycled.  He started out as a cardigan...
Old, pilly, never sat quite right and the colour made me look ill
I pulled the cardigan to bits, and reknitted from a pattern I found on Ravelry.  Am rather pleased with it actually.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pesto update

So back at the end of March I posted about my bulk pesto making efforts.  Instead of freezing the pesto, I elected to keep it under oil in the fridge.  And three months later this is what it looks like.
Mmmm, so very very yummy
Yes, bit of a mess, and this is after I'd scraped off the brown crusty bits on the top.  It had gone brown down the sides of the container as well.

So, lesson gleaned; Pesto keeps beautifully for about a month under oil in the fridge.  If you are planning on keeping it longer my advice is to freeze it.

I picked out the still green bits, smeared the over the base of a veggie pizza and fed it to hubs.  Thus far he has shown no ill effects, but I am watching closely for any adverse reactions.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Cake in a Mug Friday

I loves a challenge, and when Rach over at Ramblings of a Romance Writing Mama issued a cake baking ultimatum that involved chocolate, I was all Hell Yes.

I'd heard of these microwaved cake-in-a-mug before, but never actually tried them.  So when the kids got home from school this afternoon we gave it a shot.
Mixing ingredients
Eating - it didn't even make it out of the cup
Not the most elegant presentation I'm afraid, but small people were tired and crabby after a long week of school - its nearly the end of term as well - so it was wisest to let them dig in without any delay :).  Was rather amazed at how easy and how yummy they were.  See Rach's blog for the recipe etc.

Have had a day in the kitchen, dealing with the apples we picked up at Bilpin a few weeks ago.

Two batches of blackberry and apple jam (about 7kgs in total, which cost me about $30 in total - largest expense being the 3kgs blackberries which I bought.  That's around $1.36 a jar)
I'll do a batch of strawberry jam when they come into season, and that should see us jammed-up for the year.

I also made a second batch of apple pie filling.  So I've now got the equivalent of 12 apple pies in the freezer (no pastry).

Knackered now, and yes I peeled all those apples (but do have a brillo mixer that has a slicer attachment which does all the slicing for me).


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thinking about 40

I turn 40 in six months.  On 1st January 2012 to be precise.

When I turned 20 I was working in Sydney as a junior secretary (coincidentally in the building hubs now works in), single, partying, thinking about finishing my degree (which I'd taken a 'break' from), living in a cute flat in Ultimo.

When I turned 30 I was working as a PA, married (but not to hubs), still partying, still thinking about finishing my degree, and renting on the North Shore.

When I turn 40 I'll be working from home as a published author, married to hubs (hopefully - love yooooo), two children, one cat, one dog, four chickens, one arts degree, one mortgage.  And a single glass of pinot is my idea of a party.

Yep, seem to have got my act together in the last ten years, or maybe it all fell apart?? Hmm.  I know one thing though, I'm one hell of a lot happier going into 40 than I ever was going into 20 or 30.

I'm going to write a series of posts on turning 40 over the next few months.  Looking back over the bits I treasure and the bits I'm more than happy to let go, and looking forward, at the things I want to achieve, and the stuff I'd like to leave behind.

This can be the first one.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekend in Our Nation's Fine Capital

Spent the long weekend in Canberra.

Never been so COLD in my life.
We spent most of the time doing this
Was lovely, lovely to be away.  And I like Canberra - there I said it.

Visited:  Parliament House
Kid status:  Underwhelmed
Highlight:  Being x-rayed by security (kids), Seeing Magna Carta (me - no I have no idea why it was there, but it was, yay - I do like an ancient document).

Visited: Carillion
Kid status: Thrilled - due to being able to scooter around the lake
Highlight: Hot chocolate

Visited: National Gallery
Kid status: Bored, annoyed, fighty, sticky
Highlight: Being followed around by our own cordon of security people

Home now and considering 'Famous Person' day at school on Wednesday. Thinking of sending Miss 6 as Margaret Thatcher and Miss 5 as Stevie Nicks, but feel the irony of this portrayal of their respective personalities may be lost on pretty much everyone.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

June Vege Garden

Bed 1: Root vegetables

  • Turnips, beetroots, carrots
  • Yes, they got dug up by wretched escaping chickens  - broccoli did not fare well, why can they not dig up weeds??

Bed 1
Bed 2: Legumes

  • Broad beans coming along
  • Peas just sprouted

Bed 2
Bed 3: Onions

  • Growing slowly, oh so very very slowly

Bed 3
Bed 4: Tomatoes

  • Growing, but slowly, a few have flowers on them, but am not holding out hope for anything setting fruit or ripening
Bed 4

Bed 5: Sweetcorn/Pumpkins
  • Growing green manure, that's about to be dug in (at some point, in the future).
  • Might try and fling in some lettuces before the sweetcorn and pumpkins go in in August
Bed 5
Bed 6: Potatoes

  • Chickens again.
  • Also, local nursery has not got spuds in yet, so not much planted.
  • Should probably do something about this bed as well :)

Bed 6

Monday, June 06, 2011

Winter Garden

Busy week this week, hard work too with a visit to the Max Brenner chocolate cafe and the kids athletics carnival (yes, picture me in my knee high ug boots holding Miss 6 by the hand as we sprint the 25m to the finishing line, in between sitting in the bleachers, sipping hot chocolate and chatting with all the other mums).

We're also into the first week of winter (in Australian terms anyway), so I thought I'd share a few pics of what's going on in the garden, and surviving temperatures that go BELOW ten degrees (celsius).
Our single mandarin, nearly ripe
Heirloom beans, on bean teepees in the front garden
Rhubarb, just planted and settling in very nicely
The cherry tree has lost its leaves, the apricot and the crab apple are thinking about it, and the apples are showing no interest so far.  They're saying we're in for a really cold winter this year, so it'll be interesting to see how everything goes over the next few months.  I kind-of want it to be cold to keep the apples happy, but at the same time I'm actively growing a lot of stuff over the cold months this year, so I'm hoping it doesn't freeze the bejeesus out of them.

So I'd like it to be very cold but not that cold at all, if that could be arranged.


Friday, June 03, 2011

Burnt Cake Friday

Well first I waited around FOREVER for one of the chooks to lay an egg, but after much sitting around on the nest by everyone except my two poor moulty Australorps, no egg was forthcoming.

THEN, after careful measuring and stirring (the recipe gave measurements as, eg, 3/4 cup, and then gave the gram measurement of a whole cup in brackets afterwards. It took me a while to figure this out.  So when it said 3 tablespoons of butter at 20g each, I thought it meant 3 tbs butter equalled 20g and not the correct 60g).

Still, I battled on, with one egg, no butter and a LOT of sugar in the recipe.

And Taa Daa... Slightly Charred Pecan Cinnamon Cake
It looks less burnt than it is
As I got it out of its tin I noticed a shiny blob on the surface, being a mammal of higher intelligence I stuck my finger in the blob and quickly discovered it was MOLTEN SUGAR from the topping.  Still fricking hurts.

Yup, the kids are just going to loooooove this one.