Monday, August 29, 2011

Four day tidy up challenge

Because I've been so busy and so tired lately, the house has exploded into clutter.  It began with a small pile of books on my desk, expanded into this...
My desk (under there somewhere)
Which then took over the dinner table...
We started eating at the table in the kitchen
It exploded into the kitchen, and we had to start eating in-front of the TV...
This is not as bad as it was (that mug says 'Now Panic and Freak Out')
Simultaneously, a laundry situation developed...
Had to find the kids school shoes in there this morning
I discovered hubs had secretly made a man nest in the spare room
Miss 5 trashed her room
Miss 7 was nearly buried under a book avalanche in her room
The dog started eating dust bunnies (and then spends the next half hour coughing and hacking them back up)
And I had to wear the Bra Of Last Resort out of the house (admittedly I wore it to Woy Woy, so nobody noticed, but still...)

Unsurprisingly my head exploded last Thursday. The result of which is we have invited our cleaners back into this pit of dammnation.  They were delighted and wanted to know if I'd had my baby yet (erm, yes).  We told them the house had not been cleaned since we last saw them.  They thought we were joking.

Still.  I need to get this heap tidy before they get here, otherwise they won't be able to see the floor to clean it.  I've got until Thursday.

Will I make it?

Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Award Winning Australian Writers Anthology 2011

Local writer David Blisset, who won the 2010 Hawkesbury River Writers Prose Fiction
Competition with his short story; "Angel Burnt Orange" has had some more good news...
I've just received confirmation from Melbourne Books that one of my short stories is being published (and launched on October 18th) as part of the anthology Award Winning Australian Writers 2011. For those of you who know about the literary world and how tough it can be to find yourself printed and bound, you might understand a little of why this is really exciting news for a middle-aged scribbler.  
I'd  like to say thanks to Denise Young for helping to light the writer's flame; to Mark Tredinnick for really pouring on the fuel and setting my passion ablaze; and to Alan Michie and Rogi and the gang at Hawkesbury River Writers for selecting my story in the first place, thus making it eligible for the anthology. If you want to know more about the book, click the link here.  
AND.. if you want to read some good - and diverse - Aussie writing, maybe you might buy a copy? I can't speak for the quality of any other entry, but they are all award winners! Now I know Dymocks stocked the 2010 edition, so they may do so again this year. In any case, you can buy it online through and I'm sure it will be on other web sites. 

Congrats David


Friday, August 26, 2011

Salad from the garden

Salad from the garden to go with dinner tonight...

Spring is nearly here :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yay Us, and Snowpeas

Pshaw!  What a week.  Feel like feet haven't touched the ground since Monday.  Is good though.  It looks like we are finally, finally going to get some proper help with Miss 5 after being given the run around for such a long time.  (You know, right now, I want allcaps on and to be typing bad bad words about those individuals who brushed us off when we were begging for help, and O.M.G. how I want to let rip about the person who told me the issues were due to my 'failure to bond' with my child - but I shall, as ever, be circumspect. SIGH).

But, really, my desire to slander some choice individuals is beside the point.  Things are coming together, and with support I think life might be going to get better for everyone involved. So yay us.

Anyway, snowpeas.
Snowpeas doing nicely
These are in the front garden, and something has been doing midnight raids on the front garden and beheading my calendulars and parsley.  So, I am having low expectations.  Still, they are looking good at the moment.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Planting Seeds

This, my friends, is my 901st post. Yep, that's a lot of blogging.

Today I spent the morning getting seeds planted.
Seed raising department
We've got...

  • White box on the left: 
    • Rockmelon (rockmelons of the world mix)
    • Watermelon (moon and stars)
  • White box on the right: 
    • Lettuces
      • yellow leaf 
      • lollo mix
  • Blue thingy, left side
    • something (Honesty?? (the flower))
    • Squash (spagetti)
    • Zuchinni
      • Black beauty
      • Tri colour mix
  • Blue thingy, right side
    • Eggplants (long purple)
    • Onion (barletta)
    • Red spring onion
    • Leeks, Leeks and more leeks
    • Celeriac
    • erm, something else that will be a big surprise
    • That's probably it
Now they just have to survive dogs, cats, possums, birds, chooks, snails, too much water, no water at all, Miss 5...

Friday, August 19, 2011


Yes, I know I said yesterday that I was going to be all rest, fruit and vitamins.

 But that IS a raspberry macarooooon (or is it pronounced a maaakron? was once not confused, but ever since they appeared on masterchef, am now confused. At the shop have to call them a maaackmutter point point - "no the PINK round one").

And raspberry macaroooons are 1. Fruit and 2. Bursting with vitamin C.
Afternoon tea

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I blogged a while back about having post traumatic stress - or being utterly knackered after it all being a bit full on for rather a long time - if you are after a less dramatic title.  The highly effective cure for this has been Doing Nothing, something which I have found distressing as I am very much one for Doing A Lot Of Things All At Once.

Still, I've been good and rested and rested and made plans for day which include 1. Drive Children to school, 2. Pick children up, 3. Feed children takeaway chinese.

And things have been going well, I've been slowly adding more things to my day; writing, cooking, little bit of gardening...

But life, being what it is, has tossed a few things my way in the last couple of days, which have reminded me of how badly I'm able to handle stress at the moment.

1. Twitter account hacked.
I fell for a phishing scam.  Yes. Rather embarrassing.  She who has been nimbly negotiating the internet since its earliest days, voluntarily handed over her twitter username and password to hackers.  Not particularly serious in itself.  But I changed my password too late, they were already in my account and used it to roll the scam out to all my followers via direct message.  It being a clever scam and me having (it seems) a reputation as someone who isn't idiot enough to invite hackers into her twitter account, a LOT of people then fell for the scam as well.
I spent the day stressed and mortified, also I got sore patch on my forehead from banging it on my desk.

2. Trouble on the school front with Miss 5
Miss 5 has taken up pinching other children. This has upset people.  It has also upset me.  It led to the school requesting extra support with regards to Miss 5 - a move which I completely support.  Yesterday I set about organising this extra support.  Or trying to.
It took three hours of phone calls.
And it was only after I completely lost my rag with a child psychologist on the phone, that things started being taken seriously.  After some great advice, I was told we needed a referral from a pediatrician before we could set up an appointment, as various boxes need to be ticked.  Rang the pediatrician. He said we needed a referral from the psychologist before we could set up an appointment.
It was 3.30pm.  I poured myself a glass of wine.

These two things have drained me.  We did eventually get an appointment with the pediatrician sorted out, so its all good.  But today I am feeling brain dead.  I look back a few years, when I was working and had small babies and writing novels, deadlines, pressure and juggling, and realise how exhausted I am now.  A bit of drama over Twitter (ffs) and getting entangled in the healthcare system and I'm back to pottering about the house like an old lady.

So its back to my three amigos... rest, fruit, vitamins.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Over the weekend I died of flu (again, yes I complain, again) AND I participated in the Romance Australia online conference, better known as the Claytons Conference.

This morning, to my utter delight, my bag of swag arrived.

I would like to thank
The perfect Paula Roe for the books, hat, lovely bracelet and makeup bag
The terrific Trish Morey fore the books
The marvellous Maggie Anderson
The tops Tessa Radley, and
The champion Carole Mortimer

Of course biggest thanks go to the choice Claytons Conference organisers.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Spuds are doing marvellous things.

Am mulching them and hurling about fertilizer with gay abandon.  They seem to like it.  Hopefully there's lots of potatoes under there.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Things are stirring in the garden.

 A couple of years ago we planted a self-seeded peach or nectarine (not sure which).  This spring, for the first time, its got some blossom.  V. Excited.
The almond is also just starting to blossom.  Am keeping close eye on this tree for rust which has defoliated it in the last two years.
Almond blossom

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Calendula and Pepper

Excuse brevity. Am neck deep in Romance Australia online conference right now, and loving it :)

The first of the calendula have started to flower in the front garden.
Calendula left, Pepper the cat right
The front garden is the domain of The Cat Who Will Not Die.  Her name is Pepper, she has been with me now for 17 years and is showing no sign of slowing down.  She spends her days chatting to me through the kitchen window, treating the dog with the disdain he deserves, hiding under the steps from the kids and using the entire front garden as a toilet.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Plethora of Projects

Further to my post of yesterday... have actually managed to love myself sick and now have ANOTHER cold. I blame hubs.

When it comes to stitching I am very disciplined with myself.  Just one project at a time.  No new ones until the last one finished.

Which is why I have three on the go at the moment...
1. Dishcloths - I am a dishcloth knitting fiend at present.  Need to get 21 done to cover all gift requirements over next few months.  Currently 13 to go.
2. Provence sampler - the green letters on the left. Doing this one in variegated green thread on 11 count AIDA - which means its really easy and doesn't make you go cross eyed if you've had a few wines
3. Enchanted Alphabet - done on 32 count linen, is sending me blind.
M from Enchanted Alphabet

Friday, August 12, 2011

Loving Self Sick

Am loving self sick at the moment.

Yesterday I looked like this...
BEFORE - Aaaaaargh, its The Crone, THE CROOOOONE
Today like this...
What? this was the best one out of about a thousand
Photographing self. Not a fan
Then had to go out and stuff self with Yum Cha in celebration whilst being admired by hubs, and THEN spent about a million billion dollars on cross stitch supplies (well $15.80)


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bed 5: Sweetcorn & Pumpkin

Bed 5 has grown its green manure, been dug over by the chooks, been sprinkled with chook poo and bloodnbone and then been dug over by hubs.
I declare Bed 5 ready for implantation
I'll be growing the 'three sisters' in this bed.  Sweetcorn, pumpkin and beans.
Sweetcorn seed soaking - pink is the anti fungal stuff it comes coated in
When the sweetcorn starts to sprout I'll plant it out, and then once its looking like it might survive long enough for me to have fantasies about home grown corn cobs, I'll plant the beans and the pumpkin.  I got out my bean and pumpkin seed packets yesterday, and hubs caught me talking to them aka Gollum.

"Hello, my pretties..."



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Uniform Disaster

As you can imagine Miss 5 is pretty tough on her clothes.  Her winter uniform is one of those wool, dry clean only jobbies that they just have one of - why you would think this is a good choice for an infants school uniform is beyond me, but the ladies at the clothing pool said it was so and I do not argue with the ladies at the clothing pool, no. If I dared it would be remembered forever-more and lead to nasty consequences later in life, including, but not limited too; children failing to pass HSC, children not getting into University, mother not being invited to be a member of the Ladies Auxiliary, AND (oh dear GOD no) mother being excluded from tennis... They are all powerful, the clothing pool ladies. Mess with them at your peril.

I had been ignoring the threadbare patch just above the hem for a week or so.  This uniform has already done Miss 7 for a year and I wasn't surprised it was starting to fall apart.  But I was thinking that if I didn't look directly at it, then it might just make it through to the end of term.

Amazingly, I was wrong.

The very next day Miss 5 arrived home safety pinned into her uniform - the entire front hem had been torn off in a dubious incident that took place during recess away from prying adult eyes.
The Damage.
With a bit of snipping and sewing, I managed to use the excess material in the hem to tidy it all up.  Only then to notice the part that used to be the bottom edge of the dress was worn through as well.  Quick trip to Hornsby and some black interfacing later and we ended up with this...
Reinforcing the other threadbare bits
Then hemmed and ironed, and... well... it could be worse.
Final result - it'll do
Kept me occupied, if nothing else.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Fluffy Pink Slippers

There comes a time in every mother's life when she goes slipper shopping with her 7 year old and ends up with...
Fluffy Pink Slippers
Due to financial constraints I have been slipperless this winter.  Given that I am prone to chilblains, I have really really missed them.  (My old pair of slippers walked themselves out the door and threw themselves in the bin in disgust).

I did promise myself that I would not do any gardening wearing them.  Then I went and did gardening wearing them.  So I am promising that from now on I will not do any gardening in them.


Monday, August 08, 2011

Peppermint and Tea Tree Soap

Having a bit of a soap binge of late.  Plan is that they'll be used for gifts as we head towards the end of the year, well if they last that long.

These days I pretty confident with plain cold processed soap - ie, a lye, olive oil/coconut oil type soap.  So have started messing about with more complex soap recipes.


Peppermint and Tea tree wake-up soap
Soap in the moulds
Soap out of the mould - should actually still be in it, but I had an impatient
16 oz water,
6.1oz lye,
18oz coconut oil,
6oz palm oil (I used macadamia nut oil)
16oz olive oil
2 tbs crushed dried peppermint leaves
1 tbs poppy seeds
0.5oz peppermint essential oil
0.5oz tea tree essential oil

Make soap base, then add peppermint leaves, poppy seeds and essential oils at trace.


This soap was expensive to make and took two hours to trace.  Luckily hubs was helping stir.

The main expense was the essential oils, and the cost of coconut oil seems to be increasing every single time I buy it.  Rhonda over a Down To Earth mentioned this the other day, and she's been experimenting with copha instead of coconut oil.  Am planning on giving her recipe a try in the near future.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Bed 3: Onions

Here is the onion bed in June...
June 2011
Here it is, six weeks later, in early August...
August 2011
You would be entirely right in thinking that absolutely nothing of interest has happened amongst the onions. Why indeed, even the old dog chew toy nestling in the corner there has not been moved.

Onions. Yawn.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Bed 1: Root Vegetables

The root veggie bed is doing glorious things.

Turnips, swedes, carrots, beetroot and carrots all doing very nicely.  We're eating the turnips already.  Well, I'm eating them, hubs is eating them without knowing what they are, and the children would rather die of starvation than eat them.
Bed 1: Root vegies
The peas and snow peas along the fence are going nicely as well.


UPDATED: I wrote this post last night when the peas and snow peas were indeed doing well. Now they have been eaten down to the ground by a possum. sigh.

Bed 2: Legumes

The broad beans are pretty milquetoast this year.  Usually I have a dense thicket filled with snails, which I spend many irritated hours tying up, only to have them all fall down again in the faintest of breezes. But these ones are lacking in enthusiasms and even the snails couldn't be bothered.
Unenthused Broad Beans
Still, the few that are actually trying, are starting to flower, so there is some hope.


Friday, August 05, 2011

Spring Asparagus Miracle

I put in six asparagus plants last year.  Despite the best efforts of the chooks, I have three plants STILL ALIVE. (Yes, miracles do happen).
Look! Look!!
And now they're even starting to produce spears that are big enough to eat.

This can't be right.  

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Kitchen Alchemy - Sourdough (again)

Sourdough starters and I do not get on.  I invariably end up with with a bowl of glue.  Glue that smells of yeast. But, glue.

So, being a glutton for punishment, and in the mood for a spot of fermentation, when I came across this recipe for a starter at 52 loaves, I decided to give it a try.

After fermenting my apple for a few days, I gathered the ingredients...
The Ingredients
 And stirred them all together...
Oh look, glue
This was done a week ago, and since then I have been faithfully feeding my starter, caring for it, loving it, talking to it, and even sniffing it.

And I am now proud to announce that, I have a bowl of runny glue that smells of fermenting apples.  No, that baby is not going to be raising anything, it can barely produce bubbles.

FTW. sigh.

Back to the packet yeast.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

New Look & The Great Tomato Caper

Do you like my new look? Its courtesy of Nuffnang and Sass at Moozoodesign, and I'd like to thank them both immensely.

So tomatoes.  The garden is starting to stir, well, the weeds are starting to stir, the rest of it, the interesting bits, are all quite happy to keep napping thankyouverymuchindeed.  After two months of being ignored, its looking a lot like a barnyard out there. So yesterday, as it was a heavenly day, I finished flinging the fertiliser about the place and got stuck into the Great Tomato Caper.
Garden architecture
The Great Tomato Caper (whereby I planted all the self seeded Tomatoes last May to see if anyone survived the winter) has had mixed results.  After our first big wet spell in June the seedlings all developed Septoria blight.  Rather over it all, I threw my organic principals out the window (gasp, yes) and treated them all with Yates Tomato dust - horrible stuff it is too.  I was disappointed to go that route, but I am so OVER being virtuously organic and ending up with a fat lot of nothing for it.

Anyhoo, there were a few casualties, but a couple of (probably cherry) tomatoes put on good growth and mostly everyone hung in there over the short days of June and July.

THEN we had our second wet spell in July and yes, the Septoria blight is back again, sigh.  There are going to be a couple of casualties, but most plants are putting on new growth and even a few baby tomatoes are appearing.  I've started on the trellises for them, and will be reluctantly dragging out the tomato dust again when it stops raining.

The caper continues.


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Happy Imbolc

The pagan festival of Imbolc is around about now (usually 1 or 2 August).  As festivals go, its one of the most delightful.  Its about hearth and home, a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of Spring.  Its about fire and food and wriggling out from under the grip of Winter - well, actually, tradition has it that if Cailleach (a divine gaelic hag - basically the Winter Goddess) intends to make winter last longer before giving it up to Brighde (the Summer Goddess), she tricks everyone by making Imbolc a warm and sunny day.  Given that today has been unseasonably hot, methinks it was a wise decision to go the two pallets of firewood and not one.

Here at Chez Nicholas the signs of spring are in the air, mostly because I have flung about 40kgs of dynamic lifter over the garden in the last 24 hours - this is causing the kids playing out in the street to scream 'don't go near the STINKY HOUSE' at each other whenever they get downwind of the place.

Happy Imbolc.  Spring is on its way :)

Monday, August 01, 2011

If I can do it, anyone can - a rant

One of the most irritating and self-depreciating phrases in the English language.  Seriously, it ought to be banned.

Someone, always female, achieves something...

If I can do it, anyone can, she gushes to all her friends, all over the chat loop, or on twitter, or Facebook.

It could be having a baby, writing a book, boiling an egg, winning Masterchef, paragliding, becoming CEO of a large company, driving a car, Morris dancing...

So what, exactly, is this person saying?

Well, literally, she is saying that the thing she achieved was so easy that anyone in the entire world can do it.
So not much of an achievement is it?
If anyone can do it.

When I hear this phrase, I hear the person saying 'my achievement does not stand me out from the crowd'.
I worked hard. I set goals. I dedicated myself to those goals. Spent hours of my life working towards them. I used my own gifts and talents and passions - but YOU KNOW, I'm not that special, my unique set of gifts not that special. ANYONE CAN DO IT.

Guess what?


I have a relative, who will put a superb home made cake (for example) in front of you, and then list all the things that are wrong with it.  To me, it has butter and flour and sugar and cream and it is delicious.  I have NO IDEA the recipe called for it to be sprinkled with the ground dust of fairy toenails and DJs were all sold out.  Stop telling me why it isn't good enough.  Stop telling me why you are not good enough.

Its all the same thing.  The self depreciation.  These women who have achieved or created amazing things, then embark on a mission to convince us all they're not that special.

You know what ladies? You are that special.  And its about sodding time you changed your tune.

I move the we remove 'if I can do it, anyone can,' from the English Language and replace it with...
I achieved this because I worked bloody hard and also I am AWESOME.

All those in favour, raise your hands.