Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Keeping it real

I find status a funny thing, especially the symbols of status.  You know, McMansion on the hill in the uppity suburb, brand new car every other year, the biggest big screen tv on the market....
I'm not into it.  All I see when I see someone with these things is a whole lot of debt.  And stress.  And unnecessary complication.  Always having to keep up with (and beat) the Jones' is a full-time commitment.  And not one for me.

Before the LOML and I moved out here we worked in the most affluent suburb of Brissy.  We've seen it all.  I can tell the difference between those people who actually have a hefty bank balance and those who try to convince me they do.  I'm not fooled.  You want to know the difference?  People who actually have the money rarely drive the brand new cars, rarely wear the latest brand label fashion and very rarely do they treat the people who serve them in shops like shit.  They are loaded, but you'd never know it from looking at them.  

The LOML tells the story of a fella he knew of, a property developer, who went into a Mercedes dealership in Brisbane to buy a new car.  To set the scene, this man is a millionaire, many times over.  He wasn't concerned with appearances - he started his business laying concrete so for him, work was hard and certainly not pretty.  He went into the dealership in his usual garb - no shoes, stubbie shorts and a jackie howe singlet (beer gut included).  He had with him his cheque book. 

The dealers were quite rude when he indicated he wanted to buy the car on the floor.  'Mate, there's a (cheap car dealership) up the road, you need to go there.'  After much...animated...discussion, Mr Property Developer walked out of that dealership without a new car.  He then got in a cab and drove to the Mercedes dealership on the Gold Coast, one and a half hours away.  In a cab.  At that dealership he bought brand new the latest model Mercedes (at that time a couple of hundred thousand dollars).  Paid for with the cash cheque he wrote out on the spot.

He then drove back to Brisbane in his brand new car, straight to the dealership that had fobbed him off, still wearing no shoes, stubbies and a singlet, and told them off (he had the language of a concreter so you can only imagine what was said!).  Needless to say those dealers learnt a very valuable lesson that day - you don't need to be flashy to have cashy.

The LOML and I don't have that sort of money - I doubt we'll ever be in a position to walk into a car yard of any kind and pay cash for a brand new car (unless we win lotto but even then we still wouldn't buy brand new!) - but we also don't aspire to be seen to have that sort of money.  We have no desire to impress people we don't like with things we don't need bought with money we don't have.  

We drive old, second-hand cars that are in desperate need of a service.  We watch the news on a ten year old, non-flat-screen, K-mart telly.  We live in what is considered in this town to be the worst suburb of all of them (when people new to the area walk into real estate agent offices to buy a house and ask where not to buy, our suburb is it).  But we don't care.  For us this stuff isn't important.  

Sure our neighbourhood is populated by people who are (well) known to  police for a variety of home and property offences but our theory is that these people aren't stealing from us, their neighbours (who they know, like them, don't have much of anything of worth).  No, they are over in the 'rich' suburbs stealing from people who live in big houses with big screen tvs, new luxury cars and every technological gadget you can think of.

So what is the point of my story?  I don't really know.  Other than an attempt to convey to the world that I don't do the status symbol thing.  I don't care to have the latest fad, the biggest house, the newest car. I certainly don't care for the large debt that seems to accompany it.  I don't feel the need to impress people who think they are important.  I don't need their good opinion of me.

I'd much rather (though I seem to complain endlessly about it!) our old house, my creaky needs-the-CVs-done Camry, my five year old jeans, the camping stove instead of the cooktop....  I'd much rather the company of our friends - good people who work hard and don't care for 'things' - good food, good times, no pretentiousness.

Every now and then I need to remind myself what is important, what I want and more importantly, what I don't want.  :) 

I really do have too much time on my hands.  I'm spending waaayyyy too much time thinking about stuff and life and that.  I need to get out and do something to keep my mind busy, to lighten up a little and not be so serious!

Sunday, May 29, 2011


It's been a whole year already.  How time flies.

On this day a whole long 12 months ago the LOML and I were gearing up to fly out of the country on a one-way ticket to Kuala Lumpur.  Bags were packed, house was clean, fridge was empty, chores were assigned to various family members - chooks, lawn, mail, veggie patch...  

We didn't know when we would be back, how long we would be away.  We had a vague idea of where we wanted to go, a pocketful of cash and credit cards, and no reason to come back anytime soon. It was great!

So on this afternoon, waiting for the hours to tick by until our flight left, we were entertaining family and friends for the evening in the form of a farewell BBQ.  Unfortunately for us it was raining, quite heavily, so the party had to move inside - twelve people crammed around our dining table dodging leaks from the ceiling! Fun but not so comfortable!  The BBQ still went ahead though - it just wasn't me outside cooking it!

It was a lovely send-off.  Lots of laughter and jokes and story-telling.  Everyone was so happy (we were bouncing out of our skins we were so excited!). I still get a warm feeling in me when I think about it.

The only thing is that this was the last time I got to see my dad before he passed.  I had planned to go and see him after we got back, to show him our photos and tell him our stories, but before I knew it I was too late.  So this is my final memory of him.  A pleasant and happy one for sure, but somehow it seems.....not right, unplanned...I can't explain it in words.

This year will be tough I know for this sort of thing - lots of firsts and lots of lasts - last time I saw him, first birthday without him etc.  Next year should be easier, hopefully.

A happy day tinged now with a lot of sadness.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Self-esteem in a box

Yeah, I know, it should come from within and I shouldn't be dependent on external sources to validate my sense of self-worth but hey, I'm not perfect and at $10 a pop every 6-8 weeks, this little box of goodness wins hands down every time.

A hair colour and an eyebrow wax is all it takes for me to feel good - clothes fit perfectly, good hair day every day, the world appears brighter and happier and more pleasant, birds start singing and flowers blooming, and my purse suddenly seems full of notes and the letterbox empty of bills.  Oh happy days!  

Nice'n'easy 114A (or 115 or 116) - bless your cardboard enclosed little chemical soul!

I'm a home colourer.  I have been since the Best Hairdresser in the World left the state (she knows who she is!).  My head has had many incarnations since then (and even more before!) - from dark brown to blonde-blonde (very high maintenance that one - who has the time!) to now a light brown-dark blonde which is almost my natural colour (if I can remember what that is!).  There was even a disastrous 'red' incident that required the local hairdresser to fix - I haven't done that again!

My sister has a theory that a husband isn't truly a husband until he's coloured his wife's hair - dainty little rubber gloves squeezed over manly fingers, application bottle held aloft like a welding rod, protective clothing worn by all!  The LOML isn't much up for that!  He'd help me for sure if I asked but I've got the routine down pat now that he'd just be in the way!

So tonight I have a date with the bathroom mirror and a box called Clairol.  Tomorrow I shall be a new woman!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The weight of the world

I've been feeling a little frazzled these last few weeks.

Day after day of reading articles in the paper and watching news bulletins reporting on the increasing costs of living...food, electricity, water, council rates, interest rates, health insurance.....it just seems to go on and on and it's starting to get me down.

Add to that receiving said bills in the mail and freaking out big time by the diminished incoming funds (we have a homewares and gift shop - if ever there was a luxury item that people tighten up on during hard times, we are selling it) it's no wonder I'm teetering on the edge.

And then add to that all these same reports predicting that living costs are only going to keep going up (one report said electricity will double in the next four years), in my mind I am planning to purchase a generator, an esky, a cow and a whole lot of tinned goodies, and build a big fence around the house to keep out the hordes who will descend upon us once word gets out that I have a pantry full of tinned spaghetti and a veggie garden and chooks.....it'll be anarchy I tell ya, anarchy!

Over-reaction perhaps?  Who can say yay or nay but I'm thinking about it as a worse case scenario.  Not that I'm about to build a bunker and retreat from the world in preparation for the social descent into the apocalypse but I figure it's better to be prepared than caught unawares.  I mean, the LOML and I already live very frugally.  I grow most of our veggies, meat is really a once a week thing, we don't buy 'stuff' we don't need, we make do with what we have.....just yesterday I plugged the drafty gaps around the windows and doors with newspaper, sticky tape and carpet offcuts in a shining example of Nana Technology....but just what will happen, what will we do, when electricity gets to $600 a quarter?  When a bag of flour costs $20 a kilo at the supermarket?  When selling 'giftware' to earn an income is no longer a viable option?  What will we do then?  What will my mum do, who rents, lives on her own, works full-time and is nearing retirement age?  What will my brother and his wife do with their new baby and house out of town?

This sort of thinking takes up way too much of my mind-time lately.  

I think I'm going to stop reading the paper and watching the news.....right now, I'm off to see a man about a fence....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Count me out

It's that time of year already.
A time for a boof (collective noun) of no-necked Neanderthals to go up against another boof of no-necked Neanderthals on a rugby league field to prove their high level of boof-ness by attempting to kill each other in order to put a little leather ball over a white line.
Photo: dailytelegraph.com.au
Oh goody.
Photo: abc.net.au
Also a time for everyday-Joe-Bloe Neanderthals to roam the streets and shopping centres dressed in their finest Maroon paraphernalia picking fights with anyone wearing blue.  Yes, I live in the capital of Yobbo. 

As you can tell, I'm not really that interested or enthused.  

Once upon a time I was.  Back when the game was about skill and talent and speed and tactics.  Not brute force.  Back when players actually were role models for young kids and not fronting court every week for charges of rape, sexual assault, drug possession, domestic violence, alcohol related violence and the like.  

So tonight I shall be watching Criminal Minds whilst partaking of a soothing drop of red.  My usual Wednesday night TV date anyway, but tonight especially so.  
Photo: tvrage.com
Pity the husband who changes the channel for 'just a quick check of the score'.....

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Sometimes I wished I drove a Smart Car.
Photo: treehugger.com
That way, when I pull up at a red light behind a car that leaves a full car-length space between them and the car in front, I could just zip around and pull up in that space.

Just to prove a point.

Friday, May 20, 2011

On My Mind: Peas

This morning, after hanging out the washing on the line (the sun is shining today - must make the absolute most of it so the washing machine started early!) I went for a wander through the veggie garden.

Truth be told I was feeling a bit peckish for something sweet and was on the hunt for strawberries but ended up finding a whole lot of peas ready for picking.

I loooove fresh peas.  I have many memories of helping my Nana shell them when I was a kid.  Well, actually, she would shell them, I would just eat them as she put them in the colander!  Nothing beats the taste of a just picked pea!

I think this lot will go into dinner tonight.  I'm thinking a white wine, prosciutto, parmesan and pea risotto.....mmmmmm!

This On My Mind feature is lead by Rhonda at Down-to-Earth that anyone with a blog can join. It opens the door to sharing our lives through photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Appliance Love

I am in love with my slow cooker.

I've had it for years but only now do I truly appreciate its wonderful-ness.

I love you Breville Meal Maker.
I love you with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns.

I love you like kids love kittens, like cats love catnip, like a fat man loves cake.....

And when teamed with this book.....
...it is entirely possible that I love you even more!

Mmmmmmm.......slow cooked casserole.....mmmmmm!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

WonderBoy-Man vs Old Spice

The other night the LOML decided to wear the cardboard tubes from the centre of my crochet cotton balls as bracelets very macho armbands.  He then proceeded to flex his muscles and make sound effects, much like this guy...
Truly, this is one tv ad guaranteed to get me snorting my hot chocolate out of my nose! 

And as for this one, well, let's just say not all men are boys!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I went into the world today....

....and saw lots of things but forgot to take my camera to take pictures of them....So here's a picture of where I would rather have been walking....
and a written description of what I actually saw....

I saw the trees losing their leaves - glorious autumn browns and oranges and reds and yellow - being blown off in the hundreds by the gale-forced wind we have going on today.

I saw some beautiful fences out the front of gorgeous (and some not-so-gorgeous) houses.  I'm a big fan of fences - big, solid, privacy ensuring fences.  I don't see the point of low, just-step-over-it fences.  

I saw lots of beautiful, old-people-tended gardens with their staked daisies, manicured lawns, mulched garden beds and their roses in full bloom.  Plus I saw a few rented house gardens (non existent - just mow that sucker) and a couple of housing commission gardens (lounge in the middle of the yard, kids toys/clothes rained into the ground, car on blocks in the carport.  Classy).

I saw only one other person out walking which was strange.  Sure the wind is gusty and bitterly cold but that didn't stop me (well, it almost did but I figured if I'm not going to walk in this I'm sure as hell not going to get out and walk when it's sunny!).  On a fine day you say 'good morning' about every 10 steps.

And then finally, I saw my neighbours out mowing their front lawn and cleaning their car.  Good on them.  Me, I went straight inside for a hot shower to try to defrost my toes and bring a little blood flow back into my cheeks.

A good start to the day. :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A tragedy of epic proportions

This morning, thawing out in the tiny bit of sun coming in my kitchen window while waiting for the toast to pop, I got myself ready.  Butter, knife, Vegemite....
O.M.G.  Who puts an empty jar of Vegemite back in the fridge?

What am I going to have on my toast now!?!?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A card for every occasion

These days, it's true.  Think of an occasion - falling off your bike, meeting your true love, winning $50 on a scratchie - and there's a card for it.

I got this one years ago when I was on the hunt for a birthday card.....

Thanks Hallmark.  I do feel better!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mrs Jekyll and Madame Hyde

Yesterday morning I could have cried. Big fat woe-is-me tears threatened to spill their guts and turn my face into a swollen, red puffball of self-despair.

Yesterday afternoon I could have stabbed something. Anything. Anyone. With a biro or a fork or a phillips head screwdriver. Driving home from work I could have rammed the old man in front of me who insisted on driving 20 kph in a 60 zone with his foot on the brake.

Today, my apathy is astounding. My whole being is saying, 'Meh. Whatever.' The thought of having to actually get up off the lounge and do something is overwhelming. Curling into a ball under the doona with all the curtains drawn is the most appealing option of all.

Stupid hormones. Playing games with my emotions and imprisoning my brain behind foggy bars of self-deception.

Just go away so I can get back to normal.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

#1 Mum

Happy Mother's Day Mum!

I hope you had a great afternoon, surrounded by your kids (and their kids), laughing and joking, remembering old times and good times, and talking about the future.  You're the best and I love you.
And she is, you know.  My mum.  The Best.  She doesn't think so but she's wrong.

My mum has done so much, not just for me but for my brother and sister too - provided for us, sheltered and protected us, guided us towards opportunities and helped us on our chosen life paths.  She did all of this (basically) on her own - by working full-time throughout our childhood, on a single wage with minimal financial support.  She left an unhealthy marriage in a time when that was not on, she bought a house and met every mortgage payment and still managed to make home improvements along the way.  Her encouragement saw us all finish high school, two of us go to university and one of us complete an apprenticeship.  None of us has been in trouble with the law and we are all now happily married and settled in our own lives.

She is a great role model my mum, one who always told me that I could do anything, be anything, the world was at my feet.  She supported me, listened to me, dried my tears, shared my joys, and laughed at my sillies.  She taught me to respect myself, to respect others and that sometimes things in life just don't go your way but that's okay.  She showed me that it's a good thing to stick up for yourself and what you believe in and not let others walk all over you.  And she always told me that she loved me.

She also told me that white high heels dress up any outfit and that sex is like a block of chocolate and once you start you just can't stop.  Those two I could have lived without!!

But that's my mum.  A great friend and a barrel of fun to be around.  I'm glad she's my mum and not anyone else.


On a side note, our family lunch, which I have spent the last two days slaving away in the kitchen planning and preparing, was delish!  And the decorations and celebratory gingerbread biscuits created with my niece yesterday were a big hit. I would have taken photos as evidence but by the time I pulled out the camera, the hordes had descended and all that was left were some breadcrumbs, a few morsels and lots of dirty plates!  Sure signs of a good meal!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Preparations begin....

This morning at 9am I was standing outside the doors of the bottleshop waiting for them to open for trade for the day.

Desperate I am not but this sort of behaviour could be considered grounds for an intervention.  

Or an invitation to a meeting.  

But fear not, I was only there for wine....(that doesn't make it sound any better....)....

This wine....
Why this wine?  It was cheap, there is lots of it and there it a picture of a meal on the box so it has to go well with food, right?
So that I can make this....
Coq au Vin...mmmmm
And this.....
Beef Bourguignonne.....
For Mother's Day on Sunday.... 

About 12 people all up (plus or minus a few) will converge on my house for a late lunch to celebrate the joy of motherhood.  Given that it is my family, a lot of food is needed so stews it is - served with steamed rice, mashed potato and heaps of piping hot crusty bread.  And since stews taste soooo much better the next day (and the day after the next day) I am making them today so that they have plenty of time for their flavours to infuse and blend (am I sounding Masterchef-ish?) and mellow and taste even more delish.  Nice.

Now to clean the house for visitors (a whole different level of clean to what I normally do!), mow and tidy the yard, find some extra chairs and work out what's for dessert.  Here's hoping the weather will be nice for us....

What are your plans for Mother's Day?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Over it

Facebook that is.
Pic by Avantcard Australia (www.avantcard.com.au)
I was a late bloomer when it came to this marvelous, wonderful (sarcasm there) social networking tool, preferring instead to text or email or heaven forbid actually speak to the people in my life.  But I caved.  I gave in.  I succumbed to the peer pressure.    It was bound to happen eventually.  

It was great when I was first hooked - seeing what my much younger, tech savvy siblings were up to, getting in touch with old school friends and seeing what they looked like now and how many kids they had, joining groups, playing games, liking ridiculous pages....  It was also great for staying in contact with the family when the LOML and I went gallivanting around the world last year and keeping them up to date with our adventures.

But now I'm over it.  

I'm tired of the inane posts, the attention seeking posts, the don't-make-sense-to-anyone posts, the racist-bigoted-narrow-minded posts of people who should know better.  I'm tired of people I don't know, have never met and never want to meet wanting to be my friend.  I'm tired of the competition that seems to have arisen around how many friends you have.  But most of all I'm tired of the politics of not feeling able to de-friend a whole heap of people who I don't really want to see what I'm up to....

And so I started this blog. 

Without telling anyone.  

Except for those people I liked.  


Don't get me wrong, I still use Facebook.  

But secretly, in the morning when no one can see I'm logged in, and only to see what everyone else is posting - not to post myself, just to stalk.  

It's good for that.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


It's a bit chilly here today.  The sun is shining so beautifully in the sky (if a little low on the horizon for my liking but you get that this time of year) yet the wind is going straight through me.  And the house.  And everything else.  Except the car strangely - I think I might go and sit in it in the sun with a good book for an hour or so to defrost my toes.

As you can tell, I'm not that big a fan of the cold.  Not a good way to be when you live in an area known for its cool autumns, freezing/rainy/miserable winters and cool springs.  But I no complain (not too much anyway!!).  

In preparation for the oncoming winter, which all the old-timer-locals tell me will be a cold one this year (and last year wasn't???), I got in and cleaned the combustion stove.  I found some instructions on the net (I love google) and worked out that there are little access points all around the oven and warmer sections which allow cleaning access - who'd a thunk it!  

Anyhoo, the other day I got in and scraped out a 10L bucket full of ash and soot and who knows what else.  I also managed to fix the flue lever so that it doesn't need to be held precariously in place with a piece of strategically placed wire.  Nice. And then I gave all the doors a good scrub to make it look as pretty as it is.  Pretty.
And wouldn't you know it, it's like a new stove.  We fired it up that night and it lit first time!  Fantastic!  And then, best of all, all the smoke actually went up the chimney, not into the kitchen, lounge, bedrooms and hall....even better! I'm in wood-fired-stove heaven!

I love this stove.  It is the exact same make as the one my Nana had - she used hers for all of her cooking and to heat the hot water.  I remember many cold mornings and cool nights sitting on the lounge she had in front of it (in the kitchen - how cool is that!) watching her mix and whip and bake.   When the LOML and I first looked at this house when it was up for sale, I fell in love with all of the fruit trees on the block (the LOML fell in love with the sheds) and then the deal was cinched when I spied this stove in the kitchen.  Right then and there we were buying this house (though I was under strict instructions to 'play it cool, don't look interested' so that the agent wouldn't know how keen we were!).  My charade obviously worked!
My Aunt had a stove like this as well.  She married a cane farmer (46 years ago yesterday!) and always had a kettle on the stove ready for anyone and everyone who passed through her kitchen.  That's her kettle in the photo - she gave it to me last year.  She long ago updated her kitchen yet this kettle had special memory and she kept it in her cupboard.  Makes it even more special to me that she chose to pass it on to me.

Speaking of kettles, maybe a nice steaming hot cup of something sweet will warm me up.....that and putting on another couple of layers!

Monday, May 2, 2011

What a weekend!

This long weekend was Labour Day weekend and the LOML and I used it (along with most of our neighbours) to get out and physically 'labour' in our yards!  I usually describe myself as lazy and while this is true 99% of the time, this weekend (indeed this whole last week!) I wasn't!
The magnificent Ponytail I found amongst the weeds - it is well over my head!
I spent three days of last week getting into the jungle that was our front yard (2m high weeds - who knew what was hiding in there!) and cleaning it all up.  Two trailer loads of green waste later and wouldn't you know it, we have a tap, a gate down the side of the house and a path to the front stairs!  I also found the letterbox and the front gate!  Woohoo!  And I am happy to report that no neighbour saw the massive stack I had when pulling on a stubborn weed and it suddenly gave way!  Funny but embarrassing!
The front yard now - before you couldn't see the stairs or the palings on the bottom of the house.  My back hurts just thinking about how much I pulled out!
It's all still bit bumpy and rocky (and in places a bit muddy) but that's what you are left with after a guy in a bobcat gets free reign to 'clear the place out' (as happened about 18 months ago when we planned to renovate the unruly gardens and cracking paths.  After the bobcat fella left it started raining and didn't stop for about 10 months hence the weeds took over).
The Mulberry tree out the front, at last all mulched and free from weeds....
So Sunday was spent getting trailer loads (7 to be exact) of mulch (more free dump mulch though not as smelly and without any face planting or dump lip) and spreading under trees and on garden beds.  Nice.  Still not finished (!) but certainly more presentable.
Mulch, glorious mulch!  Last week this area was covered with a nasty succulent 'noxious' weed.
The pine tree at the side of our house - to give you an idea of scale, that fence is 6ft high....I love this tree!
And then, because we are suckers for punishment, we spent all of today at our investment property trying to reinstate a level of control over the grass and weeds that have grown through every garden bed, up every wire fence and in between every paver on the place.  We only managed to get the house yard (about an acre) under control before collapsing from exhaustion - took about 6 hours so good effort really.  If our tenant wasn't such a lazy %$@^#* we wouldn't have to be spending our one day off together busting our butts.  As you can tell, I'm not happy. 

Anyway, I'm now all relaxed from a hot shower, have a glass of wine in hand and am sitting in front of the fire staring at the flames (well, actually, right now I'm staring at this computer screen but you know what I mean!).  Tomorrow, muscles I didn't know I had will be hurting as well as all the ones I do know I have - I'm not looking forward to that.  Maybe another glass of red will fix me.....!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I went into the world today....

....and this is what I saw....
A single lime still growing amongst some amazingly long thorns....
Our second bunch of bananas this year - given the price of them in the shops at the moment, these are worth more than their weight in gold....
A pumpkin vine taking over...
Kiwi fruit in the hundreds....
Our lone custard apple....
A nosy chicken...
Persimmons coming on nicely...
Macadamias too...
The loquat tree starting to flower....
A monster cucumber that managed to escape detection for a number of days....
Passionfruits waiting to ripen....
Yummy winter strawberries....
And a beautiful flower to brighten my afternoon!

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