On Friday Immy ran out screaming from her Prep class room. The excited squeals of a child who may have been invited to a birthday party or a play date. Except it wasn't, I just couldn't understand what she wanted.
Soon her teacher came over and asked if Mr H would be available to talk to the Preppies about his work for half an hour this week.
Sure I said. When?
When can he make it? she asked. When do you want him I replied.
We settled for Tuesday at 9 am and I rang Mr H to tell him he had an appointment with 65 five year olds. He asked what he had to do. Just talk about work I said. I then heard a big heavy sigh, and could pretty much see him rolling his eyes through the phone.
Today he sat at the front of the class. 64 little people cross legged and wiggly on the floor and Immy by his side.
He asked his first question. "Who thinks they know what I do at work." Lots of hands went up, including Immy's.
Let's let Immy answer this one the teacher says and Immy confidently declares that "Daddy plays Candy Crush all day".
Over the next half hour I am not sure who had more fun. Mr H or the 65 little people. He talked and got to make jokes when everyone laughed. The kids got to ask questions which mostly turned out to be comments about what happens in their house. He showed pictures from work and laughed at the stories that will only come from the mouths of five year olds.
He finished up with his last question to the class, asking if anyone could guess how
many years he had been working.
All hands went up. The first little boy guessed 200 years. LOWER shouts Mr H. Someone yells out 100 years. Lower he says. The next kid say 700 years.
Mr H refers to Immy and says, you tell them how many years Daddy has been doing his job.
Ok. Immy claps excitedly. It is 60 Million Hundred Thousand years!
And somedays Mr H looks like he just might have worked 60 Million Hundred Thousand years. But not today.
After four years of living in our house we have finally purchased a couch and a fabulous chair for "The Front Room"
Previously the Front Room has contained other people's old furniture. It has the Barbie Glamour Jet in one corner, a very poor excuse for a 'desk' in another corner, there are wires hanging out of the walls for a surround sound system that we don't own, the previous owners tried to do us a favour by making it easy to plug our own system in...if only.
But finally the new couch has arrived. I wanted modern but not to modern. A back that was not too low and not too high. I wanted some colour.
The Monti arrived and fits perfectly.
But he needs some cushions.
Buying cushions is hard work. I keep seeing so many that I like, some are very very expensive and Mr H requests I keep looking for a few more.
Here are some of my favourites that I have found on the Down That Little Lane website. I like a cushion with a message and a bit of colour, but there are pages and pages and pages of cushions over there.
Then I saw these at Country Road, I like them, but they are a chain store which means these cushions are going to be everywhere and that white sparkly look will not last more than three minutes in my house.
A few clicks later and I am over on Made it and I find this one, among 678 others.
So while it took me four years to find the couch, I never expected the cushions to be so difficult to decide upon.
There were times not long ago when media releases used to come by fax, on the roll of paper that the print would fade from if you kept it long enough.
Before that, I guess they came by post or hand delivered by the junior mail clerk.
These days, a media release itself requires an entire team to plan and execute it to perfection and when it is done well, it is music to marketing trained brain.
Over the last year I have received a few great media releases and each time I have started writing this post about how much I love a great media release, today we received one that went above and beyond the usual.
Case Study One:
The Product the PR team want to get exposure for is: Disney Cakes and Party Printables Cookbook.
They could have sent me an email with the details, a few images to use and added the usual boring note of 'let us know if you would like a copy for review purposes'.
Instead, they sent an email asking me what time the girls got home from school, their ages, and which Disney movie was their favourite.
Then exactly as we got out of the car, a man arrived with a big wooden box with this on the top.
Inside was all kinds of personalised treats, the media release itself was in a scroll, explaining what to do with everything - Have your own party. It included invitations, bunting, posters for the door and decorations, a diary.
There were dress ups.
For Miss 5
And something different for Miss 8.
There was also a copy of the new book.
It just happened to also be a half birthday in our house so we got all the stuff out and used it straight away. We didn't make a cake tonight, but I certainly will. The party box showed me how easy they have set everything up for anyone wanting to host a Disney themed party.
Different kits were sent to people all over the place, search the hashtag #DisneyPartyAu and you will see some other themes.
When you get a media release, the business knows that you might be receiving lots more that week and the majority will not get a look in. This is not a sponsored post, I don't get paid to write about the Disney book. But would I buy it myself or recommend it - Sure would. Did I take the time to read the media release? Yes.
Case Study Two: Target Toy Sale.
This one started with an invitation to attend the toy sale for a preview night. I just don't have time to get out to many blogging/PR events so I sent a response to let them know I wouldn't be attending.
A week later, in a smart fancy black envelope I received a card, like a giant pop up book. It included a section with a countdown to the toy sale and also a nifty USB in the shape of a key. The key caught my eye, so I plugged it in to the lap top. There wasn't much on the key, but it did include some toys expected to be big hits this year. I wasn't expecting to see anything I liked, but I did.
The pop up caught my eye, an email with a pdf attached would not have even been opened.
Case Study Three: Fairtrade
This was a few months ago, but I still remember it
It was a cardboard box filled with boxes and tins of teas. Heaps of them, all sorts. There was no media release, instead there was a handwritten letter on some note paper telling me about a Fairtrade festival that was soon to occur. The box introduced me to many brands I hadn't heard of before.
The best thing about this box was the sharing bit. When friends popped in, I told them to pick a tea to take home with them. When I went to a School Mums house for a Mums catch up, I took some teas for everyone. When I sent a friend a hello note, I sent some tea and when another fellow tea lover came for dinner we tried a couple of herbal teas as we went.
Every interaction with other people meant that I explained about where the teas came from and why I had them.
Were all of these media releases considered a success for the campaign managers? I don't know. But I did read the release, I did enjoy the creativity of the campaigns and they have been the ones I engaged with. It helps to build relationships with the PR teams. Had they simply sent me an email, it is likely that I would have scanned it at most, but more than likely have deleted it, with the pdf unopen, and moved on to the next email.
When I was a teenager some of the cool kids wore glasses. I thought I would quite like to get myself a pair too. So I told Mum I needed glasses for reading. We lived in the country and this meant I needed a day off school to go to the optometrist of choice.
Sadly for me at the time my eyes were perfect.
No chance of glasses for me. The next thing on my list was a decent pair of sunglasses. I actually wanted yellow ones, I still remember them. My parents said a big fat no. Sunglasses were considered a grown ups fashion accessory, kind of equal to a pair of stilettos.
Last term, the school nurse sent a letter to suggest we get Immy's eyes tested and her teacher also asked it be done as she has been complaining of a sore eye. So I booked Immy, Miss 8 and myself in for eye testing during the holidays.
I find eye tests fascinating. Since I was a teenager I have regularly had my eyes tested every few years but this was the first time I was told that I have significant UV damage, the optometrist asked me if I grew up in Queensland? No. Do I have sunglasses? Yes.
He then told me I must have spent a lot of time in the sun without any eye protection as a child.
I did!!! So I can blame my parents for not protecting my eye sight. I called Mum and told her off for not allowing me what I wanted as a child.
These days I am not great at looking after my sunglasses. After investing a few hefty amounts into snazzy sunglasses and then either losing or breaking them, these days I have lots of cheap sunglasses in the car, in my handbag, near the clothes line. But now I think I might need to invest in some fancy shades.
These ones even have some yellow like the ones I wanted in the 80s. And a bargain at just $430...maybe I should get two pairs?
I also might have to invest in some optical health cover.
You don't see too many recipes here so when you do you should know that they are easy to make, worth the effort and tasty little treats.
We still had a few extra oranges rolling around and I wanted to whip up something for the girls to take to the babysitter in the morning. It was perfect timing for my amazing orange cake.
Except it isn't my orange cake, it's Yota's Orange Cake.
I have a book where I started collecting recipes from people, it's actually pretty empty. But the recipes in it are the best. Yota and I used to work for the same law firm. We got pregnant with our first babies at the same time. Her bub was born early - on the day mine was due, mine was born late - the day hers was due.
We met up a few times post baby but we lost contact in the years that followed. I am not sure where Yota works now, but I still have her email printed out that she sent me with this recipe and I think of her every time I make it.
Recipes and food are pretty cool like that. Entwining memories, happy times and nourishment all at once.
This week I made the orange cake into cupcakes and then iced them with lime icing. Pretty delish.
It's a basic recipe, but here you go.
Print it out, sticky tape it to your book and dance in the kitchen when you bake it.
Yota's Orange Cake with Clairey's Lime icing.
You need a Food Processor for this cake.
185 grams of butter (melted, but not hot...don't rush this. LET IT COOL).
1 cup of Castor Sugar (I use raw)
1.5 cups of Self Raising Flour
Put the freshly washed orange in the food processor. Blitz that baby to whatever consistency you want.
Put everything else into the food processor and blitz it again until all is smooth and cake mixture like.
Pour into whatever bakeware you want. Big cake or cupcakes or muffin pan. Whatever.
Bake in oven of 170 degrees (fan forced).
If you want, you can copy Yota and sprinkle brown sugar on the top just before cooking.
You can squeeze the juice from one freshly picked organic lime (any lime will do though) and stir it into 3/4 cup of icing sugar and then stir like buggery until you have smooth icing.
The cakes are cooked when they are ready. Don't burn them. They are ready when they have cooked through and are springy if you touch the top.
Remember to let them cool before you ice them.
There is one downside to this cake. There are no beaters to lick - do not give your children the blades from the food processor.
In our house there are two things that multiply while I sleep.
Pencil Cases and Books. (but let's not talk about the books today)
We have so many pencil cases. They are all packed so tight that the zips hardly do up. We have collections of pencils, crayons, pastels, highlighters.
There are special cases for gel pens, glitter pens, smelly pens.
Yet no matter how many pencil cases we have overflowing, there are never any textas that last the next colouring session. There are lids with no matching partner and many a dried up useless texta that has run out.
Let's be honest. No one ever wants all the pencils, everyone always wants the textas. Or the gel pens. But a certain child never shares her beloved gel pens with her sister and will often hide them. The pencils go blunt and then break in the sharpener. The crayons are 'for babies' and the oil pastels are hidden because when someone gets pastels on the carpet or their clothes, this Mumma ain't doing a happy dance!
So here we are yet again, pencils, pencils everywhere but not a thing to colour with. And still, I can't bring myself to throw any out. Instead I just fill another shoe box with pencils, rubbers, rulers, pens, half used sticky notes and smelly highlighters and go shopping for yet more textas.
Over on pinterest people recycle old textas and make paints. When I was at school we used to use the barrels of the old textas for 'pea shooting'. I haven't taught my kids pea shooting yet, it's probably nearly illegal these days.
Got any tips on keeping the colourings under control? Do you know what a pea shooter is (perhaps I should add that to pinterest, I checked, there are none there yet!!)
Over the weekend I had big plans to sit around the giant bonfire in the county that we have been building for over a year. It's huge and will take all day and night to burn. The rain had other plans and left the bonfire too wet, and even if we got it going, there would be no fun in standing around in the rain cooking damper on sticks.
Instead, in the brief moments when the rain stopped we picked the citrus. The trees are loaded with oranges and grapefruits, the cumquat tree is just ridiculous. Really, why is it that a tree can bare so much fruit, yet be a fruit that no one wants to eat as is?
The lime trees have taken seven years, but they have finally decided to go crazy and their little branches are aching, begging for someone to start drinking mojitos, and fast.
Back to burbsville and we had way too many bags of fruit for four people.
Who wants to have a shop I asked?
Moments later Immy was up and at the front door, she had a sign organised and she had delegated advertising signage to Miss 8. Initially she thought she would sell everything for $16.00 a piece, I discussed that $16 for a grapefruit was a lot of money and that the 50 cent piece was her favourite coin so maybe we say that one.
Once she was set up, all was very very quiet for some time.
She got out the colouring pencils and then after the bus driver gave her a wave she decided to just try and get the cars driving by to wave to her. This was her best marketing tactic. Over the next hour five cars pulled over and bought her wares. The first sale was two grapefruits and it was such an exciting moment that Miss 8 all of a sudden wanted to join the citrus shop too.
It got so much fun that it was only the rain and the promise that we can open up again another day that got them inside.
Having a shop was a really great thing to do. Both the girls really enjoyed it, from sign writing, to setting up, to counting their profits (a full $10.50) and talking to people going past. A truck went by and blew the horn and even that was exciting.
The Citrus Shack will be opening again soon if the weather allows it - and the fruit is still good (and the Mum hasn't consumed all the limes in her drinks).
It's been quite some time since we called her that nickname and it just feels wrong to keep using the term on here. We have other familiar names now, but they aren't really used outside our immediate family and friends and it also isn't right to use them here.
Miss 8 likes to dance. She takes classes in hip hop, jazz and tap and can't decide which she likes best. She likes to sing and has joined the school choir, she would also like to take singing lessons, but doesn't want to sing in front of people, probably ever.
Books are her other thing. She was blessed with the ability to learn words fast and to read through books at an alarming rate. I think she would like to run her own book club, but you need to be able to read a book a night to keep up with her pace and I can't keep it up myself.
This girl knows what clothes she will and won't wear and is very clear on it. No frills, no bows, no skirts, not dresses. There is to be nothing too girly and nothing that looks like boys clothes. They should not be too big and baggy or too short in the arms (which is currently every jumper she has). Clothes must be totally comfortable at all times, providing access to cartwheel and do middle splits in case the need should arise for such a thing. Shoes can be sneakers, runners, trainers or dance shoes.
She is funny and has lot of questions for anyone that will sit quietly enough to allow her to ask them and answer them properly. She can tell a great story. This girl has very little tolerance for injustice which can cause her much angst as she tries to work through why people act the way they do and why some people live with so little.
She also understands social media. How it works and what is appropriate and from this she has made her own request. No longer is her photo to be on Instagram or Facebook without her consent.
This will make my yearly instagram photo album a little less family focussed but it's a request I will obey. It will mean me being a bit more creative with how I collate our stories. This blog is my story and Miss 8 is a big part of that, she will remain in the discussion, but in a different way than when she was younger.