Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Great Arm-Pittery Experiment : Part 1

Cold in chest, but getting better after day in bed.  Am just so glad I'm sick now and not when the kids are on holidays :)  Thanks all for kind wishes for speedy recovery.

So, the great Arm-Pittery experiment.  I was perusing blogs a while ago and came across a recipe for deodorant - unforgivably I've completely forgotten the blog, but I'll post it up when it comes back to me.

Note: That is not me in the painting.

This was the recipe: 1 part baking soda to six parts cornflour.

I made up a mix of 10g Baking Soda and 60g cornflour and, using a cotton make up remover pad to dab it on, have been wearing this mix instead of my usual roll on deoderant.

Day 1: Activity low, Weather hot - Deodorant effectiveness according to Hubby - Good

Day 2: Activity medium, Weather hot - Deoderant effectivness according to Hubby - Good
 Deodorant effectiveness according to Mum - "STOP MAKING ME SMELL YOUR ARMPITS"

Day 3: Activity Building chicken coop in 30+ degree heat, Weather very hot - Deodorant effectiveness according to Hubby - Amazing.

Day 4: Activity low, Weather warm - Did not use any deodorant (as part of experiment, honest) - Hubby "Go and have a shower now please"

Day 5: Activity low (but nervous tension high), Weather cool - Deodorant effectiveness according to hubby - "You smell FINE, can we stop this experiment now? Please?"

So there you have it. I'm a convert.  Cornflour and baking soda held up very nicely.

Next, for part two of the experiment, I'm going to have a go at a tea tree roll-on deodorant that I saw on Julie's Blog Towards Sustainability.

Shall let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Future of Publishing

This video was prepared by the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books and produced by Khaki Films ( Originally meant solely for a DK sales conference, the video was such a hit internally that it is now being shared externally. We hope you enjoy it (and make sure you watch it up to at least the halfway point, there's a surprise!).

Read an interview with the creator of the video on the Penguin Blog:
The clip was inspired by a video created by an Argentinean agency, Savaglio/TBWA entitled Truth:

Poorly sick

Have a cold and developing sinus infection.

There once was a time when I would just pop pills and keep going.  But my wonderful wise counsellor pointed out to me if you don't treat yourself kindly when ill, then the others around you won't either.  After all, if you are still able to cook meals, clean houses etc etc then how sick can you really be??  So I've still popped the pills, but Sebs and I are tucked into bed for the day, and hopefully I can beat off the sinus thing.

I've got lots to blog about. The great deodorant experiment,  the fact its raining, my feelings about postponing Uni for this Semester, and my deep and fundamental fear of the upcoming school holidays - not to mention the swag of homework that's arrived for Miss 5.  Holy sodding moly, I'm going to spend the next fortnight homeschooling.

But, before we get into all of that I might have a nap first.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

How Hawt???

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present for your pleasure The Zippered Jacket.

Cannot decide which sends me wobbly with desire more...
  • the gun
  • the haircut
  • the zip pockets
  • or the gigantic zit in the middle of his chest
My mother is a machine-knitter. A very very keen machine-knitter. So keen, in fact that she is Vice President of the NSW Machine Knitters Association. Yes. Living in her shadow is a trial. No arguments about that.

She has a huge, massive, gigantic (do you see I'm trying to suggest its pretty large here) collection of so called 'knitting fashion magazines' dating from the very earliest days of machine knitting.  This one I'm guessing is late 60s.  I confess that when I get a quiet moment at her place I sneak off to her library and amuse myself with the pictures.

Its selfish of me to keep these gems to myself, and so, in future, shall be posting some of them up for everyone.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Cannot seem to spell today - am having one of those vague scatty days overshadowed by a persistent feeling that I've forgotten something.  I suppose this is because things began chaotically, descended quickly into farce when I reversed into a concrete pole in front of, oh, ten or so people I know (actually no damage done, just slightly bruised wing mirror but still felt like large goose and not the laying golden egg kind).

So, was heading home after school run, but decided I just could not face home.  Book is like sourdough bread attempt - utter disaster, smells funny, and now lodged in kitchen sink drain.  House untidy, and just could not be bothered to tidy it up so it gets untidied again by this evening. Too hot outside to do anything in the garden except watch seedlings wither and die (WITHER AND DIE - sorry, didn't mean to shout but that is how it sounds in my head).

So thought Sod This and took off down Galston Gorge to see where I ended up.

Well, at the Dural Feedstore buying bales of straw for the chooks was where I ended up first.  Was nice to go and have a wander - amongst the stacks of hay and bags of grain. Always smells so cosy. Popped two bales in the boot, couldn't see a damn thing out the back, but felt extremely rural.

Then found self at Swanes.  Was bliss as place was cool and quiet and I had it all to myself.  Went fossicking amongst the dead and dying plants on sale and found two tea camellias and two Lilly Pillys for the princely price of $16 for the lot.  Was rather chuffed.  Bit of tlc and I reckon I should be able to save a couple of them.

Availed self of facilities at Swanes before leaving AND as departed ladies discovered long skirt tucked in knickers BEFORE anyone else had a chance to see it.  Yes.  Things on the up. No doubt about it.

Then stopped at a roadside stall and bought lovely lovely fruit and vegies, and the most damn sexy eggplants you ever saw.

Then trundled home to find seed potatoes had arrived.  Hurray.  Also swede seeds - hubby will not be impressed, but I like swedes.

And when I finally got around to settling down at my computer, was disturbed once more by the chooks pecking at lounge doors (think they were trying to eat algea growing on glass).  Informed them that I will be requiring eggs soon, but they just sauntered off, making sure I saw them pointedly ignoring my chook defences on my next years tomato bed (presently trying to grow green manure crop, which is delicious to chickens).


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


So after a day or two of avoiding the garden (well sulking :() I wandered out to do some watering (damn this weather) and discovered a delicious surprise in the strawberry patch.
Felt enthusiasm starting to trickle back.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tee hee & Sourdough

Had to laugh.  Been out and about this morning - having back to back morning teas actually - my bladder has gone above and beyond the call of duty today.  And damn I have a good pelvic floor even after two kids.

Got home, glanced in the mirror and discovered that I've had my camisole on inside out AND back to front. Yes. Brand name, size and the fact it was made in China on display.
Am still chuckling.

In other news sourdough starter gone wild.  Burst out of jar last night - mostly I think because we're sitting on around 25 degrees inside at the moment, maybe a bit more, and this is perfect yeast breeding temperature.  Threw half away (well kind of) as per instructions.  And added more flour and water

Put it all in a new bowl.
Bubbling nicely.

With the bit I was supposed to throw away - because it was so bubbly and looked like it was doing the right things I decided to try and cook with it.  Thus far? Well, not looking so good actually.  May have made excellent batch of glue though.


Monday, March 22, 2010

My Sacred Writing Space

Some writers refer to their writing area as their sacred space.  My writing space is sacred in that I go "OH MY GOD" every time I look at it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Not going to plan

Bad day yesterday.  Woke up crabby - well it'd been a vile week, with massive stress due to our current lack of funds and the very painful decision that we're going to have to sell one of our cars - and yes I know you can survive with one car but living as far from public transport as we do, its going to mean life is just that little bit more difficult.

We've had another sudden hot spell, the last three days have been above 35 degrees.  The chickens had already decimated my leafy greens bed (beetroot, carrots, asian greens, turnips). So, feeling really pissed off about it all, I replanted the lot and put some chard and a few other odds and end around the outside of the bed to distract the chickens.  Six hours later the temperature had hit 37, all the new plantings were beyond dead and the chickens had got through my anti-chicken defences and laid waste to all that hard work.

Hot and crabby I decided to hide inside and read Jackie French, she always inspires me to keep going and keep trying. But not yesterday.

"March is a time of harvest," she said. Oh really, I thought.
  • The sun isn't as fierce - oh yes it is
  • The weather is cooling - oh no its not
  • Tomatos will be glutting - I have a handful of green cherry tomatos to show for my glut
  • Melon's will be ripening - I have about seven melon vines they are all dying of mildew (despite spraying with milk) and so far I have one melon about the size of an egg and two water melons about the size of peas
  • Pumpkins - not a one, not a single sodding one, they've all rotted off, well the two that even started anyway
  • Summer vegetables will be mature - no they won't they'll all be burnt off by the relentless sodding sun and no sodding rain that's dried out all your raised beds to the point where they can't hold water even if they want too
Yesterday I was quite prepared to cover the entire garden in concrete and paint it green.

Today the chickens have been banished to their new (nearly finished) coop.  Something has chewed through all the shadecloth I put around the bottom - already, after less than a week.  YAY.  The leafy green bed has been replanted AGAIN and is covered in wire and booby trapped with hand grenades.  Hubs and I have put in my lattice to provide a bit of privacy and grow something up (grape? kiwi? peas?).

I went around the garden and picked things to prove to myself that this is all worthwhile and I can get food out of my garden - and ended up with a small bowl of chilis and a handful of beans.  It hasn't  helped.

So I retired to the kitchen and made plum sauce, with the leftover plums frozen from spring

And got some sourdough starter started.  Which I'm thinking is going to be a very interesting experiment, in breeding new life forms in the kitchen at least.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Busy in the kitchen and Teacuppery

The thing about all this homemaking business is that you spend a heap of time in the kitchen.  This morning I've made blackberry and apple jam, muffins, dog food and yoghurt.  Still on the list is granola, plus dinner, and by the time that's all finished it'll be time to get the kids.

I also spent the morning doing with weekly shop ($117.20 - woo hoo, the savings there will just about cover a slight pizza mishap midweek -ahem), getting our private health insurance premium lowered (turns out we were covered for hip replacements) and depositing a cheque for $3.29 in the bank. Yes. ANZ could barely contain its delight about that. 

Scintillating, No?

Glanced out of the kitchen window whilst doing load of washing-up number three billion and noticed the leaves of the Liquid Amber across the road have just started to turn, up the top.  Last year they began to turn at the end of January and we had an early but mild winter.  This year they are turning a whole six weeks later, I wonder what that means we've got in store?  Given that its 30 degrees outside right now I'm still having a hard time believing summer is over and the Autumn solstice is in a couple of days.

It also occurred to me that I haven't put up a teacuppery post for forever!!  I suppose that its mostly because I haven't got any new ones for a while, but still, they're so so pretty I should still be putting them up here for everyone to enjoy.

So, without further ado, allow me to present three of my most favorite cups.  They are all by Shelley in the Rosebud pattern.
The two smaller cups are miniatures that Shelley made as teasets for children to play with.  Miniatures are quite rare and I treasure these.

The larger cup is in the shape called Henley.  These type of cups were made from around 1920 until the company shut up shop in 1967.  Judging by the quality of the glaze on this particular cup I rather think it was one of those made in the sixties.

This teacup was one of the first I ever owned and part of the very beginning of my love of Shelley teacups.


Thursday, March 18, 2010


My lordy what a day. It began sorrowfully with yet another bread disaster. Loaf on the left was the same as the last three using my new bag of defiance bread flour. Loaf on the right was made with 50/50 bread flour and lauke bread mix (which has extra yeast, bread improver and god knows what else in it).  Beats me what the problem is, but I'm going to use up the defiance flour by mixing it with other flours and not buy it again.  The bread machine hates it as well.
Having dropped my angelic children at school I met up with some of the other SAHMs (stay at home mums) and nannies in a local cafe to discuss the recent spate of parent/teacher interviews, and, much more deliciously, the fact that...
  1. My daughter's kindi teacher turned up at work with a HANGOVER on Monday
  2. She was dumb enough to tell one of the parents

Needless to say I'm feeling that there is a situation brewing that is going to end badly.

The whole hangover thing was not helped by the fact this teacher had told most of us in our interviews that our children were average.  Yes. AVERAGE. I was actually fairly philosophical about this, Miss 5 is, well, 5 and being told that she is not going to be an A student this year didn't overly bother me.  No. What mattered to me was that she was a happy, much loved member of the class. Always first to lend a hand and keen to answer a question however randomly.  I mean, yanno, she's FIVE.

Still, listening to the other mums chatting about how much reading and writing work they do with their kids at home got under my skin.  I ended up feeling that I was letting Miss 5 down a little bit but just reading the books that come home from school and then letting her watch Superhero Squad and other drivel. So after coffee I whisked myself into Borders and bought an armload of learn-to-write books.

Then I sped home and spent a few hours polishing an assignment for Uni - oh after a brief skirmish with the snotty man in the hardware shop WHICH I WON and left with the staples I wanted and carried the bag of sugarcane mulch to the car all by myself. Rargh.

Next it was back to a cafe.  Miss 4 had Grandparents day today, and I met up with Mumndad after it was all over for a full report and restorative coffees for them.  Grandparent's Day is something of an ordeal.  If you're not being entertained by your offspring's offspring singing in French and Mandarin, then you're donating books to the library or being chatted up about making bequests.

Then home again with the kids where I presented them with their new books (got some for Miss 4 just so she wouldn't feel left out).

WELL.  They leapt upon them, loved them to bits and it was only after two hours that they started to flag with all the letter copying and matching balloons and playing spot the difference.  I started to flag after about ten minutes, but was kept on track by them both,  answering question after question and trying to explain all sorts of tricky things (like why is that fish purple?) and frankly oh my god it was exhausting.  The moment hubby arrived home I scarpered to water the garden and just give my poor overworked brain a chance to rest for a moment.

Holy hell. It was a nice afternoon, but I'm looking forward to the novelty value wearing off.  Not sure how much more of this I can take. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Garden Pics

Apologies to all who were bored to death by my last post on car insurance. I just thought it was amazing the difference in price.  And thanks Epskee for her great comment.  My parents had a similar nightmare trying to get a car repaired with elcheapo insurance as well. Given our current financial dire straits our choice was between no comprehensive insurance and the cheap stuff, so I went cheap.  I just hope we get through the next year with no mishaps.

Anyhoo.  Have spent the day in the company of my wonderful Mother cleaning the house.  Yes, she rolled up her sleeves and bravely fished out everything under the kids beds.  What a woman.  Presently our kitchen smells of new bread and drying basil, the bathrooms smell of eucalyptus oil and the lounge of lavender.  And I can walk through the playroom without getting some small and annoying toy embedded in the sole of my foot.


A few things are looking good in the garden right now.

Mini-capsicums nearly ripe - sorry about the quality of the photo, late afternoon sun is most annoying.
The King Purple beans, and their pretty purple flowers are cropping.
And after my strawberry patch blitz (including snail bait) we are starting to get a heap of strawberries (well two).

And on a final note, I'd like to congratulate my agent on having two of her authors on the long list for the Miles Franklin Literary award. YAY Sophie :)

Car Insurance

Have been scouring the internet to get Comprehensive Car Insurance.  Just wanted to share results really

NRMA $839
iSelect's best price $920
Payasyoudrive (for 5000kms a year) $526
Youi $433

Youi takes into account I'm at home, not commuting, live in a quiet suburb and have no demerit points.  Rather pleased really. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Kitchen

So I cleaned under the microwave on Sunday morning.  There were Things under there. THINGS.

Then I decided that the microwave was annoying in its present position - it was hard to open the door without swiping, oh you know, a cup, a plate or a stack of pasta dishes off the bench-top and onto the very hard slate floor.

One thing led to another and four hours later I'd re-arranged the entire kitchen and decided on a new colour scheme.  Oh how I am tired of living with the previous owners horrible taste in wall colours.

So now the microwave has a new home, and the toaster is where it used to be.

Have been baking. Lemon cake for Miss 5 who brought a cook book home from school last week and is still miffed that so far I've only cooked macaroni cheese out of it.  Note charred edges on cake on left, will have to use lots of (curdled) lemon curd icing to cover them.

I also realised that I own an unseemly amount of tea.  Every single canister in this picture has tea in it, except for one with hubby's coffee bags.

Work is coming along on the new chicken coop.  We ran out of nails yesterday and after another awful night (involving a husband out partying until 2am and children with nightmares, leg cramps and 'itchies') I am not venturing up ladders or nailing anything into anything else.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Strawberries, Snakes and Firemen - Just another Saturday really

So it was one of those days that began quietly enough, tidying up the strawberry patch -

Which looked like this...

And now looks like this...
Found quite a few strawberries, not that anyone else in the family knows that.  The snails have been making off with a lot of them as well, so have sprinkled snail bait about the place.  I am organic in all things but when it comes to snails I have to put out bait (also use Round Up to kill couch grass and oxalis) otherwise I'd never get anything at all.

Mornings jobs ably assisted by Miss Pepper or Empress of the Front Garden as she prefers to be called...

And somehow ended up with a visit from the Firies.
OH OKAY, technically they were next door, but it was us - well more specifically me - who spotted the 1.5m red bellied black snake making its way from our chicken coop through a hole in the fence to next-doors yard.  Perhaps spotted is putting it too casually, I was contemplating the planting arrangement for my new bed under the liquid amber when the snake glided past, not two metres away from me.  I'd been standing very still for quite a while and the snake had no idea I was there.

I watched to see where it went, then sent hubby next door to make sure Louise got Ebony (her Kelpie) in (though in a fight my money is on Ebony to be honest).  Louise rang the firies - our local ones are all trained snake-handlers and they turned up within a few minutes to check things out.

Of course no sign of the snake. SIGH.  Bloody hell I wish they'd got it.  But they did check under our cubby and other likely places with no luck, so chances are the snake is making its way back from whence it came. I hope.

The main consequence of all this is because the snake was attracted to rodents, which in turn have been attracted to the chook food, we have to come up with better chicken accomodation.  Funnily enough we were planning to move the chooks into a new palace this weekend anyway.  Presently their coop looks like this...
Yes, an eyesore.  The whole arrangement hasn't been working for me for a while.

But, hubby had a brainwave.

You see we have this useless gazebo by the pool. This morning it was filled with empty paddling pool, inflatable pool toys and gardening tools.
But it is being converted. Oh my lordy yes.  This will be the chooks new home. Today I've been putting in top to bottom vermin proof mesh, plus shade cloth along two bottom sides so that the chickens have a nice protected area.  The best bit is that they'll be under cover. AND I'm going to turn where the coop used to be into a lovely new garden.

I'll post finished pics tomorrow.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Frugal - Yikes

OH MY GOD.  We are on a spend-no-money drive in the Nicholas household. Ug.

Yes, ug it may be, but, also it is empowering. Indeed, I have been empowered - and OH how I am restraining myself from making super-person puns and quips right now. Barely. Holding. Back.


Was inspired by three things.
  1. The parlous state of our budget and the stark realisation that we are going to struggle to register the car (yes the one that is 20,000kms overdue for a service) when its due in a few weeks.
  2. Notes from the Frugal Trenches - and her spend no money days
  3. And its been bothering me for a while, I can see a lot of cash slipping away simply because I'm not organised.
So this week we had our first Spend No Money Week ever.  

Frankly we have done So Bloody Well.  No seriously.  You are looking at a couple with mortgage and kids, that still have trouble believing that they're not DINKs (Double Income No Kids).  And apart from an essential $20 of fuel into the car we have spent no money from Monday to Thursday of this week.  Honestly, it wasn't that bad and holy hell are we pleased with ourselves about it.

We did plan to have a frugal Friday as well, but after yesterday's bread disaster (too much water in the dough - thanks Belinda) we had to go lunch orders for the kids, and then I realised that it made more sense to do the weekly shop on a Friday morning when the supermarket is quiet(ish) rather than tomorrow when its... when... okay I can't find the words.  Beirut comes to mind, Baghdad maybe?  Only the strong survive Saturday morning shopping in Hornsby Aldi, no really. Its that bad.

So, last week (from Saturday until Thursday), I spent $60 on groceries.  From that I fed my family breakfast, lunch, dinner and endless snacks (endless - my children graze) for six days.  The first thing I did (inspired by Frugal Trenches's Frugal food posts) was 'go shopping in my own pantry.'  I could see we were way over supplied with food, so really, to get through the week we only needed essentials such as milk, eggs, cheese and so on.  And took it from there.  

The thing I did the most during the week was make different types of bread and bread products.  Loafs, brown and white, rolls, calzones and muffins.  The bread maker has been used twice a day, though more for making the dough than cooking the actual bread. 

Our usual weekly grocery bill easily makes it up to $300 a week. Easily.  So, not wishing to be milquetoast about it, I cut that to $150.  Honestly I didn't think I could do it.  But I made my list, stuck to it and got everything I want for $159.

Rather chuffed about that. :)

Anyway.  We're going to continue.  Next week Monday to Friday will be Spend No Money.  Exceptions being filling up the cars on Tuesday (cheap petrol day), Hubby's train ticket on Monday (yes lavish I know) and I think we'll get all wild and wacky one day and have a coffee and a muffin - Hubby was begging about it this morning :)

Been harvesting things in the garden as well.

An armload of basil.

And a few other odds and ends.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm Not Sick, But I'm Not Well

I can't decide if I'm ill or not.

For the last week I've been impossibly tired, had a bit of a sniffle, but its refusing to turn into a cold or go away, my back has been kind-of twinging, but nothing that'd make me say I've Got A Sore Back. Throat a bit sore, but might just be too much yelling at the kids, head kind-of aching, but that could just be the x-rays beaming out of my laptop screen and into my eyes.

Universe, I'd like to be sick or not be sick. If I'm sick I'll go to bed, drink lemsip and get over it. If I'm not I'll to stop sneezing everywhere and feeling like I'm about to be sick.  Similarly, back, just aching when I'm driving the car and not aching when I'm slumped on the couch with my laptop setting my legs on fire, is so not acceptable. Just make up your mind already.  If you are going to go, then go, and I'll book the physio.


Had a bread disaster this evening - out of nowhere.  Did everything right and used yeast (yes, within its use-by date) I haven't had any problems with.  Just ended up looking like this...
Looks like a brick, weighs as much as a brick, therefore it is a brick and not edible for anyone except hubby and the chickens.

So now we have no bread for lunches tomorrow.  FFS.  AND on a day when my home made bread was being noted and praised by Miss 4s teachers.
Oh hell yes.
I basked.
"Oh," I said, "I bake all my own bread." In my coolest 'its no biggie but I am, in fact, awesome,' tone of voice. And now they're going to turn up with pappy packet bread tomorrow.  Farking karma (or something).

I've been reading The American Frugal Housewife (its free online as part of the Gutenberg Project) and I'm afraid that Lydia Child (the author) would've been appalled, no make that APPALLED at my housewifely skills, and not only in the bread baking department.

Although, I have been unravelling a decrepit jumper and knitting it into dishcloths. (Look I don't know why, its just chux have always irked me. IRKED.  Actually most things irk me, but chux more than usual).  So maybe I'd be able to win Mrs Child over, well if she hadn't been dead for 130 years.  Anyway I'll do a post on my jumper unravellings when I finish a dishcloth that comes out rectangular, rather than oval, or, well, blob shaped. 


Sunday, March 07, 2010

My Famous Mumndad

Mumndad have got a new dam.  A dam so exciting that its made it into the Penrith Star.  Yarst.  I know darlings.  Its not easy living with the fame, but we manage.

A few weeks ago we had a shitload of rain. Between midnight and three am that day we got 146.3mm, and at one point it was coming down at 6mm a minute.  Which is a heck of a lot of water. Some months we barely get 6mm rain in total.

Mumndad's old dam was in a real state of disrepair - totally neglected for many years (not by them, by the property's previous owners) and it was obvious that the dam wall wasn't going to hold for much longer - everything around and under the wall had been severely eroded, and we all knew it'd just take one massive downpour and it'd all collapse and end up in the Nepean river. 

But, when that downpour finally happened, mumndad had their new dam, it'd been finished just a few weeks earlier.  The screamies and I were there to watch the water go over the new dam wall and the spillway start working for the first time.

That's the 'trickle pipe' working (inbetween the screamies).  Not much of a trickle really!

And hubby and Miss 4 inspecting a rather swollen Nepean river.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romance: The Exciting Bits

For some reason, don't ask me why, the part of publishing that thrills me the second most is seeing the book go up on Amazon.  The first most thrilling part is getting your author copies and going 'holy crap did I write this epitome of literary brilliance??'

So The Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romance (let's just call it MBSOR from now on) has just gone up.  You can see it here.  I have spent an embarrassing amount of time looking at My Name in the index, and getting goosebumps from all the great authors that surround my name. I mean they are so great. (Here I planned to make a list and put loads of exclamation marks and smiley faces and things like 'oh oh' and 'I am not worthy' but then I realised that I have ferocious PMT and have retained every drop of fluid I've drunk in the last fortnight - yes people I am a whale. A WHALE - and so therefore my judgement of what may or may not be classed as entertaining has disappeared to the same place as my sense of humor and patience.)

 MBSOR is also up on my most favorite book ordering website... The Book Depository.   They are almost always cheaper than amazon and do FREE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING.  If you are ordering books, get them there. No, don't argue. Just get them there.
Finally, the book might just be in Aussie bookshops. MIGHT. I don't know for sure yet - but rumour has it that if it is then it'll start appearing around 1 May.  Don't worry, I'll probably mention it once or twice when I find out for sure.


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Too hard

Wanted to say, re my post below on my latest rash of domestic disasters, that yes, I am laughing!!

This post has gone all rambly on me. I make my point in the last bullet point, down the bottom there...

I always laugh at my catastrophes - well mostly - and I put everything up on the blog to be laughed at/with.  It is my greatest wish that you smile or grin or at the very least nod, okay, I'd take grimace...

Yes, well, when the creddy card was refused at the petrol station, Miss 4 had been kicking in classroom doors and one of the chooks went awol for 24hours, I wasn't laughing at the time.  That one was just a bit overwhelming, it caught me in the middle of an already busy week and I was stressed.  Looking back at that day now I grin and roll my eyes and wonder why the hell it always happens to me.

I've been wanting to do a post about making the changes I'm making at home, changes on the blog, why I'm doing them and you know blah, blah, blah.  But I've been putting it off and that generally means its probably pretty boring and if it bores me then it'll bore everyone else (I have an extremely low boredom threshold and consider myself a good litmus test).

Anyway, bullet point list, we shall summarise why I'm going all homemaker at home and plastering it all over the interwebs.
  • I'm at my happiest when I'm giving myself lye burns making soap (note: never get hot lye in a cut on your finger, it makes you say fark a lot more than is seemly), baking bread, planting things.  When I need space to breathe and be calm I water the garden - or have an inspect if its been raining.  So I'm not trying to change the world, save then environment, or pay off the mortgage in twenty five minuets - I'm just doing stuff I enjoy.
  • These things have much potential for disaster, and given that I have no patience it just seems to extrapolate from there.  A voice in my head is almost constantly screaming NO, STOP, DONT USE THE OLD YEAST, but I never listen.
  • I am very goal orientated and it gets my goolies jiggling (or something, hmm, not quite what I meant to say, but oh well) when I achieve things.  So when I post blog posts at 5.59am, add tertiary education to my already packed life, or decide we MUST have a preservative free breakfast NOW, please be aware that it is an inherited trait and makes me a pain in the neck to live with (just ask my first husband :))
  • This blog used to be a lot about how my children crapped in their pants at MacDonalds.  They're getting bigger now and the crapping, whilst it does still occur, is not nearly as bloggable.  It was time to move the blog on as the kids grow and I grow (fatter mostly).
  • Finally, and the thing I want to stress most, is that on a lot of other homey, crafty, gardening blogs (and tv for that matter - yes I'm pointing at you BHG), all this domestic stuff looks dead easy.  And its bloody not.  
    • Its all bloody hard work, and to make perfect bread each time takes practice and experience, as does knitting anything at all, or crocheting, or looking after chooks.   Its a hell of a lot easier to buy a box of OMO than to find washing soda, lux flakes and borax and mix them all up and keep in a shoe box - you know what the OMO will do - but the other stuff may not work in your water, turn your washing grey, or strip off the inside coating of your washing machine.
    • And as for gardening.  I heard this sad story of a family who put in big vege gardens, it all failed in the first year (a drought year) and in frustration they ripped the lot out and grew the grass back. Gardening is very hard and very frustrating.  For example, all the pumpkins I've planted are refusing to have girl flowers, and the two that I have hand pollinated rotted off, and now the powdery mildew has got them, and it wont stop raining.  I know however, that it will work eventually, because I've grown damn fine pumpkins before. So I keep going.  But I do know where that grass growing family were at.
    • Do it yourself projects that look easy are not, unless you are a mechanic, a chippie or gifted with your hands, have a shed full of well kept tools and have fixed things all your life.  Our chook pen is a joke - a rusting joke, an eyesore.
  • Er anyway, where was I? Yes. Hard work.  We're told and shown this domestic stuff is easy, when it isn't and I think people feel bad or not-good-enough when they don't get it right first time (or second, third, forth...). So I want to blog about all my disasters, so that everyone can see how I struggle and my frustrations and hilarious failures, so maybe they'll keep persisting with whatever they want to achieve.
That's it really.


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Homemaking? I does it well.

Had an absolutely frantic couple of days getting through my lists of ToDos.  I haven't made it through the whole list of course, just been doing the things that will keep this boat afloat, and me not totally embarrassed in my Uni lecture.

Of course it all hasn't gone to plan.  My most major disaster has been bread rolls.  The first batch I made were paragons of light fluffiness which I had to whack into the oven before they rose out of the pan and went everywhere.

The second batch I made yesterday were not.

They were small and bullet like and the best use we could come up with was to put them in a sock and send them into kindi with Miss 5 as a self-defence weapon. Oh kidding. We'd only send them with Miss 4.

My yeast failed.  Well okay, my yeast failed because it was a THOUSAND YEARS OLD and I should've known better. Do not use old yeast people.

My second most major disaster was the icing on the banana cake I made. Goddamm frickin too hard butter going all lumpy in the mixture and then not magically smoothing out when I put it on the cake. Goddammit.

Has enough icing sugar to taste good but.

Cakes have never been my forte and now that I live with an oven which has two settings of Too Hot and Far Too Farking Hot, most of the baking I do requires icing to cover where I cut the charred bits off.  sigh.

Third worst disaster was the casserole I made.  Dragged out the slow cooker and flung in all sorts of things from the fridge - including a little bit of leftover cooked angel-hair spaghetti.  I kind-of thought that after around nine hours of cooking that the spaghetti would've melted away, but NO. It remained and caused the children to screech WORMS, WOOOOOORRRRMMMMSSS.  And then refuse to eat anything.

Also I already blew the weekly budget at the supermarket and now we've run out of dishwasher powder.  Am going to steal money from my children to cover it.  I mean there are limits.


Monday, March 01, 2010

Too Many To Dos

355 / 355 pages. 100% done!

So this morning I took a deep breath and hit the send button.  Drive Me To Distraction has undergone its rewrites - with little grace I might add - and is now sailing off to endure the gimlet eye of my agent.  Oh I hope I found all the typos and remembered everyone's name and hair colour.

There is of course no rest.  My list of Writing To Dos is as follows
  • Critique Kudrat DONE
  • Critique Sam 
  • Critique Sarah DONE
  • Read, analyse and summarise: Introduction, Narrative & Narration, Wants, Art Voices, Mullet Leap
  • Start The Drovers Wife analysis for leading discussion next week
  • Start short fiction for workshop piece
  • Start Boys of Summer (next novel)
I'm really nervous about the critiquing I've done so far.  Because I've judged a lot of writing contests I'm very used to pulling apart other's work and telling them what's wrong with it.  But I'm not sure how used these writers are to that sort of constructive criticism AND I have to deliver my opinion face to face in a workshop session.  Gah.  I know all they want to hear from me is that their work is brilliant - I'm just scared that they'll take it personally when I say that it will be brilliant with rather a lot of work.

Of course these to dos are just writing. Then there are the domestic to dos;
  • Reply to emails
  • Grocery shopping
  • Make sausage rolls
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Wash dog
  • Dry dog
  • Make bread
  • Make bread rolls
  • Think of something for dinner, purchase ingredients and cook
  • Wash beds
  • Put away clothes
  • Tidy
  • Sort out what kids need for excursions
  • Post office
  • School forms for Miss 4
  • Buy new hat for Miss 5
Just the tidying alone could take all today and  tomorrow.

Then there's the to dos in the garden
  • Plant banana passion fruit
  • Find cure for powdery mildew and apply to rapidly dying melons
  • Mulch around the pool
  • Water seeds
  • Change litter in the coop
  • Weeding
  • Hack hibiscus back
  • Sweep driveway
  • Move frangiapani...
The list goes on.