Monday, December 27, 2010

Well hello. Hope your Christmas day and aftermath was lovely.

I la la LOVE Christmas!

I love the once-a-year only traditions and starting new ones.

Every year about 10 days before Christmas day, mum and I make Pepparkakor. It takes a whole day of rolling and cutting and chatting. We make many tins worth and then I guard mine like a mother wolf from the ravenous hordes to make sure we still have a few left by Christmas day. We have had helpers over the years with varying degrees of enthusiasm for the task (as opposed to enthusiasm for the eating of the dough or finished product). Astrid is certainly looking like the heir apparent, as at five years old she is already demonstrating good staying power, rolling pin and gossiping skills.

We always have a real tree as the smell is so important to the sense of the season for me. Every year there are more funny little child-made adornments to add. It's like a nice smelling, twinkly, shiny time capsule of creativity.

And this year Linus, Astrid and I painted on our dining room window. That's a new tradition for this new house that we'll definitely continue.


I love the food and drinks. The Jansson, the Glögg, the Sill and Snaps and songs that go with them. My job has been to make the rye bread for Julafton but I have also recently added into the mix a ginger and nectarine tart . The ginger flavour teamed with the in-season nectarines make this a brilliant fusion of Swedish and Australian Christmases. Not that we really have room for dessert! And we may have finally hit on a winner for vegetarian köttbullar
using Quorn.

I also made Saffransbullar or Lussekatter for the first time this year for home (mum makes them every year and they are our traditional breakfast on Christmas morning with black coffee and orange juice - with or without a hangover from the snaps of the night before - while we wait for Father Christmas to make an appearance).

Speaking of whom. I also love my dad immensely for dressing up as probably the dodgiest looking Father Christmas in the world under extreme conditions (Australian summer). I love my children for suspending disbelief and wholeheartedly believing that he makes a special appearance just for them. We suspect that there might be small cracks appearing in the illusion for Linus (he said quietly to us later that, "I didn't want to say anything at the time but he looked a bit like he had a pillow shoved up his top".)

Here are some photos to show you just how much disbelief has to be suspended here. I'm crying with laughter at these....
Pillow? What Pillow?
Look at his wonderful little face. Complete belief. If we can sort out the wardrobe problems we may be able to keep this going a bit longer!

Christmas day was a lovely relaxing time with nowhere to be but at home...building an Eiffel Tower and trying to solve the Rubik's Cube...bliss. We had a lovely, simple meal on our deck and a visit from the friendliest of Singing Honeyeaters...

That's me feeding her a raisin. She actually got on my arm and let me stroke her with my finger while she closed her eyes contentedly.We also whizzed up some grapes that she drank from a medicine cup. We can only assume she was hand-reared by humans? She's either the bravest/smartest or dumbest wild bird in the garden! We're calling her Fizz and are prepared to give her whatever she wants to eat (lovingly our kitchen appliances) so, I'd say she's probably the smartest bird.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Santa" doesn't come to our house. Father Christmas is very welcome though!

Here's a little rant. Apologies in advance.

With every passing year as I get older and more crotchety, my blood boils a little as our traditions are eroded and transplanted by those of the US.

You must be told that I'm not in any way anti-US, far from it. It is just that our culture is constantly bombarded by the pop culture of the US, through film, TV, internet and we lose a bit of our own in the process.

Astrid goes around saying, "that's how I roll", which, I must admit is so cute coming out of her 5 year old mouth that I let it be. There are however, no "Cookies" or "Trashcans" here (Sesame Street is highly censored for appropriate language) and we like our "U"s in our words too (colour, flavour, RANCOUR! Go away little red squiggly line!). We already have opportunistic teenagers "trick or treating" for Halloween (they get no "candy" here, just a lecture) and if marketers could figure out a way to do it, we'd be celebrating Thanksgiving and the 4th of July!

One of my pet hates at this time of year is the exponentially increasing use of "SANTA"...I'm sorry, but the jolly fat man has always previously been FATHER CHRISTMAS. We are (apologies to Traditional Owners) an English colony with "Australian" Christmas traditions following those of Mother England, even when these traditions are patently inappropriate like full roast Christmas lunches on 40C days.

We are also a multicultural society where all important traditions are welcomed and encouraged. We happily celebrate an amalgam of Swedish and Australian Christmas traditions ourselves. If you want to call him Jultomten, Babbo Natale, St Nicholas or Fatso that's just fine but our dominant culture traditionally calls him Father Christmas. The country's media and retail outlets should do the same!

The expat US population is absolutely free to call him Santa Claus, all 0.3% of them according to the 2006 census.

End of rant.

P.S. I do love you all, even if you do call him Santa, really..

Monday, December 20, 2010


Phew, really busy time of year, huh?

Well, the Historian's family all came for early Christmas lunch on the weekend and things have been mega-hectic leading up to that! The good news is that our outdoor deck has been well and truly stress tested with 24 adults sitting on it and not a creak!

While the lunch was in full swing I got the news that my brother had been bitten by a Dugite!
He's just fine, thank goodness, and we're all extremely glad. He spent the night in hospital under constant observation but it appears that he was extraordinarily lucky and didn't get enough venom in him to have any ill effects. In fact, I suspect the 30 minute observations and lying on a skinny, hard emergency bed all night had a worse affect on him, poor thing.

There is however a sort of amusing side to this (now that it's all OK of course). 

Australia has a bit of a reputation internationally as a dangerous place where deadly creatures abound. It's true that there are deadly spiders, highly venomous snakes and jellyfish, crocodiles and sharks but in reality the risk of encountering these things is extremely rare, unless you're a drunk trying to ride a crocodile (idiot!).

We have recently had my cousin and his friend living with my parents (Hej Jonas and Tomas) and they were very concerned about this reputation. We allayed their fears with the fact that we know no-one that has been bitten by any of these creatures. In fact, even the people we know and the people they know and the people they know (and so on), know no-one that has had a run in with dangerous Australian wildlife. 

Now this happens to someone so close to us . . . while they have now returned to Sweden, they can now say with conviction that they were living in the constant real threat of DEATH from creepy crawly while here!


I'll post our Christmas decorations and such in a little while. In the meantime check out this Moomin gingerbread house! I am DEFINITELY making this for next Christmas.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Must Have Home Improvements?

Astrid's wonderful cross-stitched Advent Calendar made by Mum
As I settle in for an evening of individually wrapping 48 little bits of chocolate to string on Linus and Astrid's (Incredibly Awesome Mormor Made)  Advent Calendars ready for tomorrow, I am reminded of wrapping stations.

What's a wrapping station I hear you ask? Well, I certainly didn't know there was such a thing until a few months ago and my mind I must admit BOGGLED a little. 

Researching colours for the dining room I stumbled upon Riviera View where I was introduced to a pair who's home (apparently); "friends and neighbors all agree ... is hands down one of the most stylish in the Hollywood Riviera" (I assume this information was volunteered by the power couple themselves, um, hubris anyone?). Anyway, the home includes as we are exuberantly told, "a gift wrapping zone - on everyone's fantasy design to-do list - which Melissa actually accomplished!

This got me pondering. 

You know, I've never fantasized about this and I'm fairly certain that I NEVER will. So who are these "everyone" who do fantasize about a place to wrap stuff? 

I know very little about Martha (save her white collar prison escapades). But Martha doesn't just have a wrapping station! No, her must have design items include; a pet grooming salon, a dining room and kitchen in her state-of-the-art climate controlled stables (and not for the horsies either. I certainly hope the ventilation is state-of-the-art), a barn (I think just to hang quilts in and make culturally uncomfortable puns "Barn-Mitzva"?!), 100 year old Canadian fencing to, I presume, make her Canadian horses feels at home and 45,000 Daffodil bulbs!

Hmmmm, would I fantasize about any of that? Erm, no.

Although I will admit to having a little daydream about a few of the daffodils.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Keep it between you and your doctor!

We are of course all for reducing our packaging and recycling.

Reusing things for whatever creative whim might strike is encouraged and the volume of "art" produced by our children is staggering. Cereal boxes, yoghurt containers and bottle tops are whisked away to make spaceships, "dog jails", famous landmarks, and modern sculptures that defy labelling. That's just fine with me as I can do regular sweeps of the house to help these things make it the rest of the way into the BULGING recycling bin before bin day.

Fortunately for us we have a huge Wheelie Bin for recyclables that is collected fortnightly. Unfortunately though despite our best efforts to reduce the amount of packaging we buy this bin is nearly always filled to capacity. OK, so there might be a couple of wine bottles in there but even so where does it all come from?

Well, the school insists on sending home mountains of their own and donated (from other people's bulging bins no doubt) recycling made into treasures like life-size models of box children (thanks for that, it took about 2 months of crammed bins to get rid of) and  robot dogs like this one. The troubling thing about Fido here is that his head is made out of a tablet box for a medicine that Google tells me is for Gout (well, you know I had to Google it, it could have been for Syphilis or an Anti-psychotic or  for Flesh Eating Disease. All things I'd rather my children's teachers didn't have).

Who donates their prescription medicine boxes to a school? Couldn't you have slipped this into your own bin and given them a toothpaste box instead? This is now too much information and a bit of a burden for me (and not just because I have to try and squeeze it into my recycling bin). Now I'll be secretly watching the staff and parents for signs of limping or grimacing to work out who's recycling this is.

And what if a "bin diving" tabloid reporter goes through my recycling, sees the box and the couple of wine bottles and writes an article about me having Gout?

I guess it could have been worse. I could have Syphilitic Psychosis and a nose hanging by a thread.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Frogs of Anarchy

We have a  Motorbike Frog living in our pond we call him Opie. He’s been there for a couple of months now calling every evening, “Bwrrrrrrrrrrrrr-rudtp rudup” (which means, “Ladies . . . got a really nice pond here . . . ladies! There’s lots of lovely plants to hide in and bugs to eat . . . LADIES!!!”). 

After months of his effort, who should show up? Not one but two more male frogs! Seems that they are starting a motorcycle chapter (the Frogs of Anarchy). So now we have an incredibly loud chorus of motorcycle revving going on each evening. Surely the lady frogs can hear them now from kilometres away.

Of course what they’re not saying is, “Bwedipt” (there’s also 6 Koi fish that will gobble up any of the eggs that the three of us don’t eat first).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Melbourne is for Cool Kids

Ducked off to Melbourne for the weekend (sans children!).
Walked our little feet off.
Hung out in Fitzroy mostly and tried not to look too old and boring (this is hard to do around Brunswick Street).
Went to some great restaurants, bars, art galleries, parks and visited with friends.
I bought some silk and stainless steel yarn just because I could, really no idea what I'm going to use it for though.
I was "pan-handled" by a well dressed dwarf in Carlton. He had apparently, "lost his wallet". The situation was so absurd that I gave him $2.
We had Brazilian coffee in a Cuban cafe served by a dark smouldering-eyed young man who had the Che Guevara look down pat. Funny thing is that the Historian looks somewhat like Castro at the moment with his greying beard and black cap. Another absurd situation...Comrade.
Then it rained.
We still walked our little feet off but in very wet sloppy shoes. Rain wicked up our jeans and our legs got heavier and heavier, and colder. Lucky for tiny warm dry bars...everywhere.
Thanks Melbourne it was really fun!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Things are starting to heat up here and the mild sense of panic that comes over me each summer is creeping in. I know, all of you staring at long dark winters ahead of you will be rolling your eyes,"What's she complaining about?"

I really struggle with summer and the older I get the more wussy I get. I don't want to make light of depression (because that's serious) but I think I have a slight touch of S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder). More rolling of eyes. Yes, I know that's usually associated with those long dark winters (not to set off your S.A.D by reminding you again). . . mine comes from too much light . . . and HEAT.

So to stave off the dread of the approaching furnace that is the Australian summer, I thought I'd list the pros and cons as I see them (hopefully the Pros will come out in front?!?):

  1. It's HOT, sticky, sweaty, don't want children, Historians or even clothing touching you. This is particularly horrid when small children insist on climbing all over you wailing, "it's HOT mama".
  2. I have to wax my legs . . . more frequently. OK, I'll admit that during winter my legs can get a little Hobbity and I like it. No mess, no pain, no hassles.
  3. Sleep is HARD. I remember years of summers when the only way to get through the night was to wet your top sheet in a cold shower and drape it over you Coolgardie Safe style. I've gotten soft. Aircon. is a priority for our new house. Last summer without it brought me to a very dark place!
  4. Flies! Little skinny ones that like to get up into your nostrils and big fat slow ones that square dance contemptuously around your room. Oh, and Mozzies (Mosquitoes)! Lying in bed willing sleep to come and hearing that high pitched whine as the horrible sucker that avoided the Mortein Napalm cloud you sprayed before bed circles it's prey and secretly hoping it chooses the Historian's exposed flesh over yours.
  5. Your candles, ice-creams, make-up(if you wear it) melts. Disgusting puddles of once solid stuff are everywhere.

  1.  I get to wear a Kaftan at home without any hint of embarrassment. It's the only thing that touches me nowhere but the tips of my shoulders.
  2. Washing is dry by the time you finish hanging it out. Very efficient.
  3. Goths. Watching Goths in Summer is hilarious! I admire them for their steadfast commitment to their style but 40+C days are really tough on them. There's pools of white pancake makeup and black eyeliner everywhere. There's one particular local lad with licorice thin legs who gets around in his sprayed on black denim, long sleeved black shirt, black boufant hair and a frilly black parasol. I saw him "run"(mincingly) across the street last summer. That vision still gives me the giggles.
  4.  Everyone gets more sociable. There are tons of barbecues to be hosted and attended. So that's nice.
Hmmm, the "Nays" seem to have it. I'll have to dig deeper for the positives before it heats up, or escape to cooler climes (more on that soon). 

    Monday, October 18, 2010


    Apparently I'm attracted to Fennel. Every time I'm perusing the spice aisle at the supermarket, I have to stop myself from getting more Fennel. This is how my internal dialogue goes, "No, you don't need Fennel, I'm sure you've got some already. What do you even use it for anyway? You probably need Turmeric. Turmeric is something you always use. Get the Turmeric . . . but what if I don't have Fennel? Fennel is exotic, I'll probably need some Fennel. Imagine how annoyed I'll be when I discover I have 5 jars of Turmeric and no Fennel."

    I think it's the sound of it. Fennel. It's such a pretty word, like fairies flitting through a shady glen (far prettier than Turmeric which sounds like something you need to have removed from your big toe).

    So I end up with lots of Fennel (and yes, no Turmeric in sight).

    My latest impulse buy was Fennel Tea. How can you make Fennel sound more attractive to me? Put the word Tea after it and have it made by someone called Heath & Heather. It's undoubtedly what the fairies drink. I believe they use it to flavour Absinthe too and fairies are definitely associated with Absinthe.

    Fennel Tea is however . . . horrible! Actually, Absinthe is fairly horrible too. That should have tipped me off. The packet tells me amongst other things that it's great for appetite suppression. Well they're not kidding. After a few sips of this you're turned off food for some time. Must be why fairies are so small and thin, huh?

    In other news, we have some nesting Kookaburras in the trees behind us. Here they are canoodling on the neighbour's broken basketball hoop.

    And coming down for a closer look at me. The vege-patch Chitty Chitty was NOT at all pleased.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    The Poo Man Cometh

    50 litres of sheep poo delivered to our door! LOVELY!

    We live on sand in this part of Australia. A whole city built on sand dunes. Whenever we get rain it goes straight down, schlurrrrp. And being basically dirty beach sand there's nothing at all good in it for your plants and vegetables. So the Poo Man is a bit of a super hero here: "Send up the Poo signal, we need POO MAN" . . .

    Dealing with sheep and cow manure for a living gives you an odd sense of humor I suspect (one that a five year old would appreciate). It seemed that every discussion I had with the Poo Man was fraught with double entendre and toilet jokes;

    "Hello, I'd like to order some sheep manure please."
    "Great, I can't deliver till next Thursday though as we're...ahem, fresh out of it at the moment (snicker)."
    "Out of it? You have to wait for some more to be forthcoming then (snicker)?"
    "That's right. We need to increase production, we've had a bit of a run on it (snicker)."

    "Hello. Just letting you know that we are running a little behind (snortle). We usually have a regular drop off in your area on Thursday. Is Friday too late for you?"
    "That's fine we had no urgent plans for it"

    Anyway, thanks Poo Man.  Thanks sheep's bottoms. Our garden loves you!

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Feline Decrepitude

    We seem to have evolved into a home for geriatric cats as our three slide into dotage around us. Cats are eccentrics, that's their thing. Ours are no exception and as they age their oddness is only becoming more pronounced and amusing.

    When we first moved into our house the local birds went into a frenzy of panic. They needn't have bothered. These three are no threat whatsoever! The doves now eat directly out of the cat crunchy bowl while all three are within pouncing distance. I'm not sure if that's an indictment of the doves or the cats, but there you have it.


    16 years old and with superb comic timing, turned up to her photo shoot sporting a cobweb fascinator, very Miss Havisham.

    She was brought to us by her own teenage mother when she was a tiny dot of a kitten. We had been duped into taking another older (about 6) cat a few months before by a tearful girl at the local video shop who, wasn't "allowed to keep him in (her) rental house" (in hindsight, they may have actually been crocodile tears). The cat, Mr Flibble, was a truly horrible piece of work and had some deep seated psychological issues that meant he was not always toilet trained and lived mostly under Matt's bed (on one of his rare sojourns out from under the bed he got hit by a car . . . we cried, not for joy however as we actually loved the stupid, insane cat).

    As we had him at the time, we also had cat food and Nori's mum, unable to provide for what was probably her only surviving infant carried her to our house. We got both Nori and her mum (Clawdia) "fixed" and then Clawdia eventually ran away from home. We know nothing terrible happened to her (she was very street smart), she just got fed up with Nori not weaning after about 12 months! and packed her little spotted handkerchief and went to another home.

    Nori has personal daemons (I'm sure Cat-Freud would have plenty to say about her weaning issues). Despite living the most comfortable and relaxed existence known to catkind, her neuroses mean that she thinks the world is out to get her. And with an amazing gift for self-fulfilling  prophesizing, she places herself in the road of every loud power tool, wheelbarrow or running child around here. We expect her to become the longest lived cat ever and enter Guinness Book of Record fame as she is so extraordinarily careful of herself and although always in the self perceived path of impending DOOM, is always able to dodge disaster!

    Actually, she really doesn't know her own bravery. She "tamed" our old dog while she was still a little punctuation mark of a cat. Kato had an insane hatred for cats and had once attacked a stone cat statue. Nori swiped her once across the nose and they were lifelong friends.


    14 years old. Lovely, affable, roly poly Gustav, came to us as a little impoverished waif about two months old who had been living off bugs and dew and stuff. He was scrawny and his little ears were dessicated, he really was a pitiful sight. We lured him in with tasty morsels and he has vowed never to go back to a life on the mean streets. He is ENORMOUS and spends most of his day hanging out in our kitchen expectantly waiting for more of those morsels (which, obviously he gets).

    He has an $800 pin in his leg (from 12 years ago when $800 was like . . . 10 thousand dollars) from an altercation with a car. He never, ever crosses the road since the incident (too far from the kitchen). He likes to sit with his pin leg straight out which makes him look like a big fat Greek fisherman mending his nets.


    12 years old. Scat was the only cat we actually got from a pet shop. While he's been "fixed" we suspect that they didn't "get it all" as he's still a bit (well a lot) of a Tom Cat. He's a bruiser with bits missing from his ears and nose from fisticuffs with neighbourhood cats. Fortunately he mostly leaves his own clan alone (although Nori is constantly on guard)

    He's a beautiful looking cat but also one that you don't feel 100% safe turning your back on. 

    He has to be shut out of the kids room at night as he's been known to actually push a sleeping child right out of bed!

    Strange, wonderful, entertaining members of our family they are. We love them so much, and so does the local bird population.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Dear Astrid,

    I promise that next year I will try harder to make you a nice cake. Linus suggested that this was possibly the ugliest cake in the whole world but that he was sure it would "taste great". Just for your amusement, this is what is was supposed to look like (scroll down a little to the incredible cake).

    Of course there's a story behind its ugliness; involving long car travel, family reunions in a wheat-belt town,  Historian's mum staying at our house, a family dinner amongst the renovating rubble and worries about having enough food, chairs, cutlery and lighting, falling in a slow motion and spectacular manner and spilling a whole hot bowl of Tofu Massaman Curry (thanks mum I'm sure it would have tasted wonderful) all over various guests (guess there wasn't enough lighting), half-made decks having to be made "safe" and finally pouring melted chocolate into a mould and swirling for hours (well maybe 10 minutes but swirling till chocolate sets makes watching paint dry exciting) and cursing as the stuff wouldn't leave the same mould when asked (and repeating the last 3 steps 3 times) the end it didn't matter and I had a bit on an epiphany. 

    You go to all the trouble to make a knock out cake but for whom? The parents all do "drop and run" for a couple of hours of kid-free bliss (or one-kid-less-bliss), the 5 year olds don't give a toss as long as there's the required lollies, chocolate and fact you could forget the actual cake and just have those piled on a plate and they'd be as pleased as punch (pretty much what we have here).

    Still, just for you my sweet little 5 year old, I'll make a really complicated Blog-brag-worthy triumph next year.

    Wait, that's right the epiphany, I'll pile the lollies, chocolate and icing in a more attractive manner!


    Wednesday, September 29, 2010

    Seven Signs of Ageing

    1. After having your muscles stretched to accommodate enormous babies three times, the hospital Physiotherapist shoves her hands wrist deep into your flabby belly immediately post the third one vacating and says,"Yeah, that's never going to go back to normal, without surgery".
    2. There's an audible (apparently benign and "nothing to worry about" but really quite loud) click sometimes as you walk, meaning that anyone passing you will look about themselves thinking, "what on earth was that audible, and really quite loud, clicking noise?"
    3. If some bloke gives you a second look as you're out and about and you haven't been "clicking", you don't think, "yep I'm looking good today", you check to see that:
    a. your skirt isn't stuck in your undies
    b. you don't have toothpaste (courtesy of being in a hurry after getting two small humans ready and not having enough time for yourself in the morning), texta or stickers (courtesy of your artistic 4 year old) or grease/paint/dirt (courtesy of your renovating nonsense) on your face
    c. you've buttoned up your buttons in the right button holes.
    d. you don't have a herd of cats following you because you are exhibiting all three of the above and look like a crazy old cat lady.

    4. You'll see an 80 year old woman at the local shops wearing exactly the same shirt as you and go home and throw that same shirt into the old rag and painting clothes pile.
                4.1 You now think of your clothes in terms of, "this is too young (tight T-Shirts with pithy slogans), this is too old (shirts worn by 80 year old women)".
    5. You buy moisturising creams containing exotic ingredients that can't have anything really to do with getting rid of wrinkles and the cost of said creams increase exponentially in relation to each passing year ( I have to put this in context. I don't buy $200 tubs of the stuff from the "beauty" departments of up-market department stores, just Nivea and Olay, ahem . . . supermarket. But I find myself getting sucked into the tiny jars with ridiculous names like DNAge instead of the plain ordinary Nivea. Even though logically I know there's no difference).
    6. Your artistic daughter draws pictures of you with two horizontal  lines across the forehead (the only consolation being that pictures of her dad have three lines).
    7. You inadvertently divulge your year of birth in conversation with another mother at your children's school and she says," Oh, you're doing well for your age" . . . ! ! ! ? !!!

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Destruction and Pool Heebie Jeebies

    Old ramp is demolished in readiness for our new back deck. Boys like a bit of destruction!

    It's going to be so wonderful. We're going salvage yard fossicking this week to get some lead-light windows for one end of it (I love salvage yard fossicking!).

    Linus also started swimming lessons this morning.

    Public swimming pools, oh joy!

    I don't exactly have a phobia, more like a deep case of the willies concerning public swimming pools. I'm not a germaphobe or a clean freak but the "Human Soup" in these things....Brrrrrrr yuck. Hundreds of people spitting and snotting and dipping their hairy dangly bits in the water. And I'm not in the least convinced of the water-tightness of those "swimming nappies" on the babies!

    Lucky I don't have to get in the water with him. I've told him he has to keep his mouth closed at all times and I'm working on covering up the look of abject horror on my face with a look of "excitement" or "pride" in his progress (I probably look completely demented).

    It's no good reminding me about the chemicals; the germs may be dead but it doesn't change any of the soup's basic  ingredients.

    Sunday, September 26, 2010


    We have a long standing joke with my parents about our inability to grow a Strelitzia flower. Well, when I say "joke" it's usually them pointing out our continued barrenness and their fecundity and giggling. These things are as hardy as all get up and grow in the most neglected of gardens (like the abandoned house down the road amongst the dead wild oats !) but we never seem to get a flower...

    Well, bugger the Bird of Paradise . . . we've got Irises!


    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Quilty or Not Quilty?

    Well, I finished Astrid's quilt with time to spare. That's the good news. 

    Here's the bad.

    1.  It's not very straight. Well the outside edges are straight but don't take a ruler to the squares.

    2.  There's a decapitated deer. Oops!
    3.  I picked gingham for the back. No wonder the woman in the shop looked down her nose at me like she was thinking "novice!" when I poo-pooed the ugly stiff tie-dyed purpose-built "quilt backing" fabric. There's a reason you don't choose a soft floppy fabric with lines on it to make your wobbly shame more apparent. I gave myself a headache with Fabulon fumes trying to stiffen the material so that I could line it up straight. All to no avail. Also, by the way, why are shop women in wool and fabric shops so snooty?

    4. And the biggest confession I have to make is . . .

    it's not actually "quilted". 

    Well, it is a sandwich of backing, wadding and top but there's no stitching through the layers. It was a combination of the inadequacies of my 20 year old machine (rocking foot, what's that?) and my extreme lack of patience. I tried, I grumbled, I used a bazillion safety pins, I grumbled some more, I hand tacked it (yes, HAND TACKED), I SCREAMED (the hand tacking had brought me to the brink) and then I  sewed around the edges, applied a binding (with lovely mitred corners I might add some things I can do) and called it DONE.

    Oh well, it's cute (actually it's really cute) and I made a pillow case to match  (with all deer keeping their heads).

    I think my first will be my last though.

    Big Up Respect! To the Quilters Massiv out there (because I know you're all into Ali G style West Indian  Street Slang).

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Sad Songs

    Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a complete cry baby. I will cry at anything, ANYTHING. Especially bad for me are commercials for telephone companies (you know the sort with the grown child calling home to mama in Italy), children's stories (The Happy Prince and don't get me started on The Little Matchstick Girl) and sad songs.

    There are some songs that it doesn't matter how many times I hear them I lose it . . . Bwaaaaahhhh!

    Okkervil River's John Allyn Smith Sails 
    Iron and Wine's Naked as we Came 
    Iron and Wine / Calexico Dead Man's Will 

    (Actually a LOT of Iron and Wine has me teary . . . I love him so! He could read the phone book and I'd listen completely enraptured and soggy with tears).

    So anyway, the other day my little guy came out of school with a very serious look on his face.

    I asked, "What's wrong?"

    He said, "Can't tell you till we get far enough away from school". . . I was worried (remember the haircut? Kids can be cruel about such things).

    We walked halfway home and he decided that it was enough distance and told me that the teacher had been playing some songs for the class while they worked. There was one song that was partly in Spanish and partly in English about a cat. He was enjoying it immensely (I've mentioned before he LOVES cats). That was until the part where the, "cat falls off the roof, breaks his solar plexus and dies". . . he cried his little eyes out telling me about it. And you can bet I cried too. The two of us sniffling away outside the fruit and vege shop and Astrid looking at us in a perplexed way (she only cries when she's really ANGRY).

    He described the song so well that I found it; Señor Don Gato . He doesn't believe the last line about him returning to life.

    He had sat quietly in his seat during class and cried without anyone seeing him and then had cried on and off discretely at school whenever he thought about it. He was inconsolable.

    Poor little guy has inherited my BooHoo gene . . . Astrid appears safe however.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010


    I have a bit of a vexed relationship with hairdressers. I try to explain what I want and they look at me like I'm speaking Venusian. This is bad enough when it concerns my own head but I also have "control" over my poor offspring's noggins.

    See this photo of Linus? That is a ROCKSTAR haircut. I have no idea how I managed to be understood (perhaps she was wearing a Babel Fish?). Sadly for us that particular hairdresser disappeared from the salon (she may have returned to Venus).

    Today I couldn't put off the poor little guy's haircut any longer. The woman who lives behind us keeps referring to him as "the girl" (although I suspect she may have issues involving her brain and a life led too long on the wild side).

    As pure chance would have it there was a young lad in the waiting area who sported exactly this haircut (it must be mentioned that he was pre-haircut and his mum had plans to shear his all off. I think he looked cool, but then I'm from Venus). So I pointed at the boy and said, "like that please"... Pudding Bowl was NEVER mentioned, I promise . . . and yet, here we are . . . lucky he has to wear a hat for school, that's all I'll say.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010


    Astrid's Kindy class has "Dress up like a Pirate Day" today...I'm not sure why, seems that "International Talk Like a Pirate Day" is next week (although I guess that's a pretty arbitrary day in itself, so it could potentially be any day you feel like calling someone a Dirty Bilge Rat with indemnity)?!

    She was very excited. She wouldn't have us telling her she was a pretty pirate though!

    In other news: HOORAY!!!!!! After an absolutely nail-biting day yesterday, I think I'm in love with Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott (the Historian won't mind a bit). It took guts to go against the bullying tactics of the Coalition and back the Labor Party. Fingers crossed that the Coalition don't turn into Scurvy Dogs and keel-haul the new government, the Dirty Bilge Rats!!! the way, the major national Australian newspaper (Rupert Murdoch's propaganda machine) needs to have a long hard look at itself. It has behaved abominably, hopefully they have lost all credibility and will be seen for what they are.

    Saturday, September 4, 2010

    Green, Green Soup

    Do you have one of those recipes that you make about weekly and is really quick, really easy and really cheap and also surprisingly delicious?

    Here you go:

    Pea and Rocket Soup

    1kg Frozen Peas
    1litre good vege stock like Massel
    1 bunch (a colander full from our vege patch...that's as exact as I can get) of  Rocket (that's Arugula, Lindsey)
    1 onion
    1/2 tbls Dijon mustard (but that's because I put Dijon in most things . . . except . . .  cake)

    Cook onion in a little olive oil till softish. Bung everything else in and simmer for about 15-20 mins. Then "Mouli" (mush) it a bit to make it not too smooth but not too with some grated parmesan cheese if you want and definitely with some freshly ground black pepper . . . delicious (seriously, and low fat and good for you and incredibly almost Kryptonite or Algae green...but don't be put off, try it,you won't regret it)

    Saturday, August 28, 2010

    Bohemian Chic

    I'm hardly a slavish follower of fashion (oh, so much far from it) but I really wish I had a definite STYLE. I wish I was elegant and/or chic. I'm old enough now to have defined the sort of looks I like; quirky, hand-crafted touches, comfortable and a little bit retro...

    Check out Kim Hargreaves new book of knitting patterns. She describes as;
    " eclectic blend of chic sophistication and bohemian charm."

    Hmmm, this is exactly what I'd like to be; chic, sophisticated, bohemian and charming...sadly I mostly come out like a mad woman's custard that got dragged through the wardrobe, eaten for a dog's breakfast and spat out.
    ps. There is also Anthropologie's new catalogue ... I think I need to go through my wardrobe and get the lumps of custard and dog spit out!

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    Things to do with $6.00

    My recent posts have been a tad depressing...sorry.

    Today we went on a shopping expedition and this could very well have turned out to be another depressing post. Ive been putting off going as we had to go to a large shopping centre. I hate going there; the peculiar people, the constant noise, the junk screaming at your eyes to buy buy BUY! It all gives me the willys...But we had to get something for school (which we didn't end up being able to find...typical!).

    Fortunately the trip wasn't a total waste as we found two plain T-Shirts for Astrid for $2.80 each! I couldn't make them for that price. But I did gussy them a bit, those deer are everywhere. Now I'm feeling a bit more cheerful!

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    We're all moving to Antarctica

    When I was young I remember lying awake in bed worrying about the world ending in a nuclear war. The Cold War permeated my psyche and the constant threat of global annihilation seemed so real and close.

    Now my beautiful, deep thinking little boy is petrified that the world will end due to climate change (it is a slower end than the burning flesh and disintegrated buildings that gave me nightmares but he cries and trembles at the thought of global warming nonetheless).

    This makes me so sad...

    He's constantly bombarded with messages on how he has to save water and energy, reduce waste and recycle. He's repeatedly told of the dire consequences of inaction. He hears his Dad and I complaining about the lack of rain and cursing the news telling us that our politicians are dragging their feet on a carbon tax and targets on greenhouse gas emissions.

    He internalises all of this, he's only seven years old, he must feel so utterly helpless.

    We have made a pact to stay upbeat for him (no more shaking our fists at the news or the weather reports). He's very enthusiastic about the positive steps that we are taking as a family and is happy to be involved in the planning and implementation. We're getting things set up for grey-water recycling (Linus is drafting the architecture for this), putting in rainwater (if it ever rains again) tanks and are planning to get off grid for our power (solar and wind power). We walk and cycle just about everywhere as we choose to live in a place that is close to work, school and  all other amenities. We also buy local as much as possible, and we have already put in a whumping great vegetable patch and 7 new fruit trees.

    And, being an optimistic seven year old he has decided that he will plan for our future. He is currently obsessed with his plans to settle Antarctica. The map below is just the tip of the iceberg ('scuse the pun)!

    Linus's map of Antarctica - note the bridge from Perth at the lower right.

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Take me to your leader?

    OK, I've calmed down a bit. So I'm ready to make some comments on the election (or lack of election) for anyone interested at all (be prepared, this will be long and boring).

    Here's what happened in a nutshell. We had 12 years of the most hateful, mean, conservative government (Liberal/Coalition) that was finally tossed out in 2007. Just as the new government (Labor) took office the GFC went down and the world threw a collywobble. The government spent up big on urgently put together stimulus packages aimed at keeping the economy bobbing along and it worked, Australia did better than any other Western economy. But the problem is that since no-one lost their job or had to go without a new plasma TV, the public didn't believe that we had narrowly missed a recession. So the Liberal party (a definite misnomer) managed to convince people that the government had squandered heaps of money  and bungled the administration of these hastily put together schemes. The other thing that happened is that since Labour had a majority it attempted to put through some very bold and noble reforms; tax reform to try to stop big, multi-national mining companies taking all their multi billion dollar profits offshore and a tax on carbon emissions (ETS). There were other issues concerning factional infighting in the Labor party and the Liberal party showing their puppet masters (big business and Rupert Murdoch) and appealing to a very ugly side of Australian psyche (the racist nationalist thug).

    So we went to the polls...and...
    We still do not have a leader and the two major parties look like having 72-73 seats each in the House of Representatives. 

    Stalemate! Otherwise known as a Hung Parliament. And there's me blowing raspberries at the other 50%...

    So now it's all down to 3 ex-National Party  (think, farmers) independents that hold the balance of power and are being wooed by the major parties to form a minority government. The 4th non-major representative is from the Greens (hooray) and has already pledged allegiance to the Labor Party. Fortunately two of the three seem like reasonable men (both believe in action on climate change, one is an Amnesty International member and a White Ribbon Ambassador for the prevention of violence against women!). They both want what's best for Australia as a whole with a focus on country region issues and that's fair enough.
    One is, however, an out and out fruitcake! Bob Katter is a climate sceptic who has espoused some horrible misogynist, racist and anti-gay views in the past. He (Katter) seems to think that they will be acting as a bloc and will all go together on whoever they decide will form government, but on paper, I must say they sound like chalk and cheese.

    I am bemused by all the comments that suggest the "electorate" are voting for a change in the way parliament is conducted (even if as a result of this 50-50 split a change to processes will happen). As though the "electorate" is a sentient and rational being that has voted accordingly! A lot of the anti-Labor vote in Queensland seems to be out of a "state or origin" mentality that was miffed at the treatment of one of their own, Kevin Rudd. I think we are far too invested in sport and the resulting cross-state rivalries in this country and it flows into our political thinking, grow up people!

    Some really good things have happened though; the huge Green vote means that a lot of people want action on climate change and presumably more compassionate treatment of asylum seekers and; Wilson ("Ironbar" need I say more) Tuckey and Stephen Fielding (both even bigger and more frightening fruitcakes than the one mentioned above) have lost their seats! And some icing on the cake is that Tony Cook who won the seat off Tuckey will not join the Liberal/Coalition (as they assumed) making him another independent and taking another seat off the Liberal party.

    A most atrocious thing for me is that the informal ("donkey") vote is up to around 6%. Shame on you.
    OK enough now, I'm off my soapbox (I've probably put you to sleep). As long as the conservatives and Tony Abbott don't get in, I'll be happy enough and we'll no doubt be heading back to the polls in the next 12-24 months when a double dissolution is caused by the failure to get a Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme through. Hopefully next time around we can have a more positive outlook for the country's future.

    I'm not sure why our cats like blowing raspberries so much! Must be picking it up from me!

    Sunday, August 22, 2010


    Sometimes I HATE democracy!

    I particularly hate that idiot people will vote against their own better interests out of racist fear, selfish greed, ignorance and laziness. 

    On ya Australia, so proud today....pblurrrpppppppth to you all!!!!!!!Well 50% of you anyway.

    ...more when I'm less angry.

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Quilt again, again

    OK, so this is the last update until I finish I promise (it's getting boring).

    I can see why people like doing these. It's fun. But it's getting harder to be random with the patches and now I have to be more strategic with the placement. I also have to square off my squares a bit more . . . but ask me if I care about the imperfection (Wabi Sabi as always, that's me!).

    Astrid LOVES it and keeps hugging it.

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    More Quilt

     Much happier with the second deer. Cut it closer to the drawn line, finer nose and thinner neck, definitely more deer-y to me.
    Also found some really sweet deer fabric to add into the mix.She knows all about it now as it was impossible to keep from her but that was OK as she helped choose the fabric (hard to steer her away from the bright pink and yellow polka dots though!)

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010


    So here we are . . . doing things completely wrong I'm sure but onward we stumble. Thankfully she prefers deer without antlers!

    I was going to machine stitch around the deer but I wonder if it will make it too stiff and will tiny, tiny hand done blanket stitch keep it from fraying enough?

    Let's call this one the guinea-pig-deer.

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Audrey with Holes

    Finally finished my cashmere Audrey cardigan (this is my second Audrey, I love the pattern)!

    I changed her a bit with an all over pattern and a much smaller gauge which was at times tough going but the light, soft and warm result was worth it.

    I also finally committed to a colour for the dining room! I actually woke up yesterday morning (D Day) with a knot in my stomach because I knew I had to make a final choice! It's beyond ridiculous the emotional contortions that this has had me in (very unlike me).

    The Historian has been building a "wine robe" (basically a wine cellar in a custom-built corner cupboard in the dining room) . . . we're calling it NARNIA. Anyway, because of the way it is built we had to paint the wall above it before going any further, hence my D(ecision) Day. I chose a pale grey blue (it's called Grey Cloud). I think I made the right choice . . .
    It's none of these, ha ha!

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Deer for my Dear

    This little person is OBSESSED with Deer. I guess if she lived in Europe or North America she might be keen on Kangaroos, but deer (be they Reindeer, Red deer or even Elk) are her passion. She is also about to turn five in early October.

    When I get a creative idea in my little head it pushes and pushes and pushes at me (I go to sleep thinking about it, I wake up thinking about it, you get the idea) until I make it and exorcise it out of my system. 

    I have never made a quilt and yet that's what I've decided to make her for her birthday (I mean how hard can it be??? ho ho . . . nervous laughter). I'm not going to go crazy here, just squares and then I'm going to appliqué some deer silhouettes around the place . . . and, I'm going to genetically engineer the cat pattern to make a matching deer toy. 

    I have 7 weeks and I have "real" paid work to do too (not to even mention all the other stuff) . . . maybe I'm biting off more then I can chew? Oh well, never stopped me before, watch this space.