Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Domestic Goddess Success

I asked Mr H to choose the cake he would like for his birthday this year. Usually this is partly his choice and partly which ever child speaks loudest about what they want.





This year he gave me two options - A White Christmas or a Giant Chocolate Cake. I don't get why he would want a cake decorated like a snowy Christmas  for his birthday.

I went with the choccy one.

I quite enjoy making a cake. But I don't like having to serve the cake to people other than the kids who think anything covered in icing is a master piece.

When it became clear I was going to have 10 people at dinner to eat the cake I got a little nervous.

But away I went.

The cakes are so decadent that it took over two hours of cooking time for them.

The ganache icing has 700grams of chocolate and a tub of cream.

It was more a game of being patient and letting time do its job of cooking/cooling/setting.

And when if finally came time to serve it up it was well worth the six hours this cake took from start to finish.

It didn't look like the picture. But it did look and taste mighty fine. 

Do you think you can have too much chocolate in a cake?


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I paid my friends to come over and visit

I paid some friends to come over the other night. 


I asked them to come over, have a little snack, and chat for a couple of hours.

I had to find five friends to come over (some said no - even when I was paying them!) and we all sat around the dining room table, and talked about kitchen towel and toilet paper.

All in the name of research.

Market research is important for your business and one of the best ways to get it is by asking your clients, or potential clients about how they use your product, why they don't use your product, or what affects their decisions around your product or service.  There are lots of opinions, even on what we wipe poo with. Pattern or no pattern, packaging, scented rolls, the list goes on and on. But also they have ideas...one idea from the our focus group I am expecting to be sent straight to the R&D team for fine tuning.

During the focus group I realised just how set in my ways I was about the paper products I buy. 


I thought I was pretty relaxed about something so basic but I learnt that:


- I never consider the option of buying home brand toilet paper
- No matter what marketing you provided I probably wouldn't buy scented toilet paper.
- I don't use paper towel, thinking them an environmental waste, but I use shower wipes, window wipes, baby wipes...
- I don't know how many tissues are in the box of tissues I buy or the price per tissue
- I use a 'stick' to store our toilet paper on, others find this tacky or even germy and never use the roll at the bottom, they throw that one out.
- I keep tissues in the kitchen - not everyone does this, each home has a 'home' for their tissues.


Very boring image showing where I keep my tissues. Research people like this.


Who knew?


If you are a business, do you regularly ask your clients about your product/service? Because you see even the humble tissue has a lot to be discussed. 


For coming over and participating in this research my friends each got $70, a night away from the kids and a chat. 

Easy money. Good for us and good for them.

Would you come over to my place if I was going to pay you...even if you had to talk about toilet paper?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Good smells required

Operation Open Fire was a mere simple plan.


A plan to remove the unused, though working perfectly, gas heater from our front lounge room and use the space for an open fire. The picture was simple. Open fire roaring, with me lazing in front of it, glass of red wine and the weekend papers.

Once the gas man and the electrician had been to visit, the chimney sweep refused to come over saying the chimney had never been used so clearly didn't need soot removal, we got to work building a fabulous big fire.

They say when first getting the chimney going you need to get it roaring to really warm up the chimney and make the 'draft' work.

No one said we should check the height of the chimney and that the hole at the top needs to a precise size (minimum 10% of the opening at the front of the fire).

Next thing you know Roaring Fire = Smoke Filled Lounge Room. Camp fire smoke. Even the expensive 'non smoking, enviro logs' were billowing smoke into the house. With the fire roaring we couldn't exactly pick the logs up to remove them.

Fire Alarms going off - check.

Clean washing all hanging in the lounge  - check.

So Operation Open Fire has not yet been a success.

Instead we have washed the walls, the roof, the ceiling fan, skirting boards, all the cushions, linen, clothes again, carpets, books and still the smell of campfire remains in the house.

Roses from the garden, room sprays, reed diffusers - I am trying what I can (other than smelly candles as the fear of more smoke terrifies me) but the campfire stench remains.

And I don't even like camping.

Please send good smells asap.






Thursday, May 24, 2012

DISNEY ON ICE: LET'S CELEBRATE - TICKETS!

I am learning that school holidays come around pretty quickly. Terms do not seem to go for very long at all.
When the school holidays arrive it is useful to have a couple of special days with an activity or a destination that gets you out of the house, tires out the kids and gives them something to remember from those holidays. Sometimes for us this means going to the indoor pool and staying until you get wrinkly. 
On extra lucky days it means heading off to Disney on Ice: Let's Celebrate, the latest Disney production. 




I have no idea what it will be like, I can't tell you that you are going to love it, all I can tell you is that I love having it all organised and that we are going. I will also be using it to bribe the girls to brush teeth, hair, go to sleep, stop whinging and not ask for anything for the next 6 weeks. I like to get value out of such things. 


I do love a musical, great costumes and nearly any live performance so I expect to enjoy it myself!






Immy is mad about Minnie Mouse, she may squeal like a tween at a One Direction Concert.


I can also tell you that I have 8 tickets to give away. 


I am going to split them so that there will be 2 winners of four tickets each for you to use with your family or friends. This is four tickets - not a family pass - four tickets.


THERE IS FINE PRINT - But I am making it the MIGHTY FINE  - DO NOT MISS IT PRINT.


YOUR TICKETS ARE FOR 
Thursday the 5th of July at 2:30pm, in MELBOURNE


Each ticket is valued at $42.50 which means four tickets = $170. That is the value of your prize. If you don't get to this presentation time, you do not get $170, you get a message saying, bad luck.


To enter this giveaway is very very simple. Just tell me why you want to go. 
Last comments accepted at 8pm Monday 28 May. AEST Time.
Best two answers will be selected on Monday 28 May. Winner will be announced when I get time to post it, likely on facebook and twitter first. 
If I do not have an email address for you, please include it in your comment. 
If I do not hear back from the winner with 72 hours of sending my email the prize will be redrawn.
Entry open to anyone who can make it to the event at the time mentioned above.






Note: The spacing on this post is wrong, I know it, I just can't get it working and am giving up for the moment.






Edited: 28 May 2012: This giveaway is now closed.


Winners are MichVee - as a bonus prize for finally getting her licence at age 32 and Kari, she has never even seen the snow. But Kari has not supplied her email address - she has 72 hours people!



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Don't visit

There is gastro in the house.

Popps vomiting from a virus and me from the smell of it.

Excuse me for a few days while I disinfect the house, wash forty thousand towels and spray Glen 20 on every surface on a half hour schedule.


Friday, May 18, 2012

I am bringing in the "Change the empty toilet roll" Star Chart.

I saw a tweet today suggesting that you could use a star chart to teach your children correct coughing etiquette.

Really?

 Just how many star charts have people got going on in their homes?

Are the kids not sure what to do for fear of losing a sticker on a chart?

If you need a chart, I found this very pretty one at a blog, you can download
it yourself at: All Things Simple.



So far I have seen charts that are suggested for toilet training, fussy eaters, bad behaviour, sleep routines getting ready in the morning, getting home reading done and now correct coughing.

That could be a lot of star charts, especially if you have a few kids.

If we are going to have star charts to teach kids to cough/blow noses properly, what else do you think we could use them for?

The best answer wins a big fat star sticker from me.

Here are a few to get you started...

- The Close the door the heater is on star chart. 

This one gives stickers just for closing the door and if the chart is full then we don't get sent to the poor house when the gas bill arrives



- The empty toilet roll holder chart 

The person first to get 5 stars on this chart gets a weekend away to a resort, because I am 100% sure the only person to get a star will be me.


What else have you got for me?






Disclaimer: I don't care if you love star charts and use them I just think the whole star chart fad is going too far.




Thursday, May 17, 2012

I have a secret weapon

You can call her Mary.

Proud Mary really, but just Mary for short.

Mary is the only song I have found that actually makes me get running on the treadmill.

Me and running are never going to be friends but Me and Mary, we can belt out a kilometre on the treadmill at a fast pace.

I know I have a few friends and twitter peeps trying to improve their running skills, so here you go, just add Mary to the Ipod, the smart phone or even the CD player.

If you're lucky enough to not be running, put Mary on while you cook tea and you will notice how much more fun it is, be careful of high leg kicks and disco duck moves, don't go putting your back out.

If you need more hard factual evidence - just check out Tina's legs after a few decades of prancing around to Proud Mary. The lady has legs that I want when I am 60+.

Not so secret weapon any more.






Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mental Health Day off school

Tonight's dinner was spoiled.  Not by the usual and acceptable comments of 'what is this Mum? I am not sure what I am eating?'.

Tonight there was crying, screaming and downright close to vomiting over a 5 cent piece size of roasted zucchini.

Popps was not going to try it.

I was not giving in.


She threw it across the table, smashed it up, let it go cold and damn right refused to try it.

It went on way too long.

It eventually went in her mouth and then the bin and she begged to go to sleep.

She was still crying as she prepared for bed, nearly vomiting as she cleaned her teeth.

By 7.30, she who never sleeps was exhausted and asleep, but not before needing to talk about her latest love - school choir, and the stress of trying to eat lunch and get to the toilet before the choir teacher told her off for being late. And what happens if she forgets the words at assembly on Monday. Or the ordeal of having to sit with a kid in sick bay who fell off the monkey bars. She was worried about what would happen if I couldn't get a car park in time and was not there to pick her up one day. Lastly all those w h spelling words were swirling in her head giving her a headache and she couldn't talk anymore

She worries too much.

I have announced tomorrow Mental Health Day for Popps.

She doesn't know it yet, and I am not even sure how she will take it. She may be excited, she may be stressed that it is against the rules.

Either way, she is getting the chance to recharge and learning that sometimes you need to look after yourself. You also need to eat your greens.



Do you give your kids a day to rest every now and then?



This, just in via email...


Our creche is back to its best.


The follow up to my tantrum yesterday:


Edited version of email just in:


Since our catch up I would like to inform you that FM radio will not be being played within the children's learning spaces at Creche.
All educators are now aware of this.
I am in the process of purchasing additional music to extend our music selection...



Issue over. The End.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When Mummy has a tanty at kinder

I dont complain much at creche (maybe about the fees) but after five years and three creches I know the issues to worry about. Decent staff and appropriate play spaces are what I care about.

Except for my latest issue.

FM Radio and inappropriate music.

It has been going on for nearly a year. Since 2 year old Immy had a tantrum on stage at an engagement party when Beyonce was playing on the duke box and some Gen Y groover moved it to the next song. Little Immy was mid way through a hip thrust of "if ya like it then ya shoulda put a ring on it'" and was not impressed with the next song choice at all.

My complaint was responded to with the comment that Beyonce is played in the Alvin and the Chipmunks film, which is rated G and therefore anything associated with it is also rated G and deemed appropriate for 2 year olds.

Let's not get me started on the fact that children's movies focus on children usually at school age, NOT toddlers and preschoolers.

But now the carers have decided to just play FM radio stations instead. My thoughts are:

1) Advertising for nasal spray for people who can not get erections is not required in an Early Learning Centre

2) When writing the marketing strategy each year the team at most FM stations do not write down
"2-5 year olds" when they fill in the section on their target audience

3) FM Radio is entirely for the benefit of the staff. How about they play it in the staff room?

4) If staff need additional entertainment when looking after 12 three year olds in a room, perhaps they could consider setting up a new activity, reading a book, dancing to age appropriate music.

5) If staff hate the wiggles and Justine Clarke, then they are in the wrong job.

If you think that kids don't listen to what is played in the background or can't understand the words of the songs, how do you think they learn the other nursery rhymes? Remember that thing about children being like sponges - they soak in everything within their environment, this includes sounds.

As for advertising, it is designed, by experts, to ensure it is easy to remember, easy to pick up and easy to understand. Small people don't have an 'appropriate filter'. They hear the jingle and go with it.

If you think it is cute for a three year old to walk around singing  "I am sexy and I know it", then you are a total bogan.

According to the centre management I am the only parent out of around 100 families that has an issue with their children listening to advertising and adult themed music.

My fourth complaint was made on Friday. Stay tuned for next week, because Mummy may just lose her shit (note that shit is no longer deemed a swear word and is considered generally acceptable language on FM radio, not beeped in comments or songs - thus appropriate I guess for me to use when speaking to the staff??)







End Note: I don't mind what you and your family listen to at home. Your place, your choice but at our creche we don't celebrate Mothers Day, Easter, Christmas in case it offends a child. I am fine with this, we celebrate enough at home. I just expect my personal (and I believe some other parents) wishes to also be considered.




Wednesday 16 May
EDITED TO ADD IN: Issue Solved


Monday, May 14, 2012

Would you press the button?

Two questions.

Would you press the button?

How much do you love a decent marketing campaign?









Thanks PF for the link.

What's happening over at facebook and why.

Facebook is an amazing product. Since it started we have used it to connect with old friends and keep up with family members, learn more about new ones, stalk people, poke them and sell to them.

But facebook actually have a lot of rules and I am guilty of breaking many - tagging games, requesting people to like my page or even just to leave a comment to win a little prize. These seem like pretty basic things, but facebook closes down pages everyday for doing such things. Even little pages like mine.

While my page only has a few hundred likers I have taken a year to get them and if facebook decided to just close my page down it would take a long time to rebuild it.

Also,while I have 1300+ twitter fans and less than 300 facebook followers, my stats tell me most of my readers come from facebook so my actual blog growth relies heavily on facebook interactions.

All this brings me to two things.

The first - I have a new giveaway for you. But all my smaller (in price) giveaways will now be hosted on facebook, which of course would be against the rules and risk the page being closed down simply by me telling you to comment to win. Instead I have a new app at the top of the page (thanks Three Lil Princesses for the short stack tip) and all you have to do is fill in the two basic fields - name and email and you are in the draw.

Second. What am I giving away? A great new novel "The Good Father" it is the type of book that you can't put down, which meant I stayed up til 2am reading it one night and was very close to being late for the school run in the morning. If you like the Jodi Picoult style you will love this even more.

CLICK HERE TO GET TO THE FACEBOOK PAGE to enter and like the page if you enjoy giveaways, as my blog wont be hosting so many from now on, unless I think they are really worth it.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Some things change, some stay the same.






This image is 18 months old, you can tell because the girls have changed so much.

But my Mum and I, we still look the same.

The girls have changed in many ways. Popps can read, she asks if I know the band One Direction and can I download a song for her, she argues about swimming lessons because there are so many other things she wants to do, gymnastics, hip hop, tennis, flute and French just to get started. 18 months ago outside influencers were powerless. Mum was the only person who knew the good stuff.

Immy is at a lovely age. She walks to our room when she wakes in the night or early morning and quietly crawls up the middle, rolling from Mum to Dad so she can share snuggles with everyone. She requests particular clothes and refuses many. She believes my handbag is a never ending magic bag of treats. She now says Kiwi, not key weed. But still says blankLet and Chicken Pops. Mums are still the persons who know everything.

My Mum and Me, we look the same and are the same. I know that my Mum doesn't know everything. But she knows how to help when we need her. She knows when to ring when we need to hear from her. She knows when she sees a fancy salad dressing that I am going to love it. She knows when she sees a fancy candle to put it away for the next special occasion. She knows how to love us and make us laugh. It has always been the same.

Mums don't have to know everything to be everything to you.

Happy Mother's Day Mum.

Love all of us.





Thursday, May 10, 2012

Found around the interwebs


Thought I would share a couple of my favourite reads in blog world this week.

I may also have been hanging out in PicMonkey a little - click on the images to go to the original source.






   I made this after seeing the recipe at Where's My Glow.
I left out the All Spice and added Dried Cranberries. It is good!




I dribbled over the extreme detail on this Farm Party that Maxabella Loves
 put on for her son.



This blog is filled with beautiful rooms, most I would be happy to sleep in.
Check out Just Kids Wallpaper for ideas to deck out your kids room. 



I have added this to the list of meals that I am making next week,
 found at The Misadventurous Maker.  Shall let you know how I go.



What have you found this week either online, in the paper or from a friend?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Are you a Flasher?

Sometimes when I am driving along, mainly on more rural roads, someone will flash their lights at me.

Usually I am not speeding. But I slow down anyway.

My expectation is that there is a speed camera coming up.

But sometimes only one out of many cars gives me a flash, so then I wonder if it was a real flasher or just someone checking their lights.


Or is there perhaps a kangaroo instead? 

Sheep on the road?


People riding horses?
Why are the other cars not flashing me?

Then I might see the speed camera, move past it and have to decide if I am a flasher or not.

Sometimes I am. Sometimes I am not. The other day I was flashing away to warn drivers to slow down and I started wondering how far along you stop the flash... 2, 10, 15 kms? 


If it is too far away do they start wondering if I was just checking my lights?
Flashing your lights to warn of on upcoming speed camera is apparently illegal, but flashing lights to warn of danger ahead, slow down is not. So if you are a flasher, it seems that you flash at your own risk.


It seems nothing is simple (in my mind) so tell me, are you a flasher or do you appreciate the odd flash?










Image - you can buy these on Amazon.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Waste not...



The odd sock issue in the Huey house is out of control.

Yesterday I gave up the fight, gathered all the lonely ones together gave Immy a permanent marker and just like that we had an afternoons activity organised.

Call it recycling or thrifty, crafty or creative. The drawers are now cleaner and we have lots of new puppets.

Where do all your odds end up?

Pinning and Penning

This Image is stolen from Becky off Instagram - Check out how she is going at BeckyandJames.com



Six letters in six weeks...harder than you thought? Or easy?



I know some people haven't started, others got a head start with three in the first week and some are just doing the one per week.

However you are writing I hope that you are actually enjoying it. This is not meant to be a difficult challenge.

There were some lovely images coming through on twitter, facebook and instagram so I have also started a Pinterest Board for the lovely images too, as in really just started and I was hoping to try and find the images, but if you have some of your own send them to me and I shall get them up on the board - or Pin them yourself!

If you are writing to a mother figure in your life though, probably best to get that in the mail asap.

Happy Writing.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Who do you vote for?

Image of voters in Sierra Leone






I am not really asking you to tell me. In fact I am suggesting that you don't. 

Chances are pretty high that you vote either:
 
1) Exactly as your parents did/do
2) For the same political party that you voted for the first time you voted.

Popps recently came with me to a polling station for a local vote and as we left she asked "who did you pick, which one did you vote for?"

I told her that I couldnt tell her. That it is important people vote secretly, for who they believe is best and don't have to justify or discuss their choice with their friends. We talked about how everyone likes to vote for different people but you can still all like each other. 

That you shouldn't worry about who other people vote for either. It's their choice. 

And what I was doing was exactly what my parents did, without really thinking about it.

I still have no idea who my parents vote for. Mum once answered me with 'donkey vote' and told me to look up what it meant. The next time she told me she voted informally, and I had to look up what that meant. I don't believe this was true either time, but it was the fast answer of saying, 'none of your business'.

Every time I asked Dad "who'd you vote for?" he replied that he voted by secret ballot. 

When I first had to vote, I had to make up my own mind. I invested many hours in my choice, really feeling as though my vote was going to be the deciding point. According to the statistics who I voted for will likely be who I choose for life. I wish it was that easy.

All I really know is that I wont be sharing with the girls who I vote for either. Instead I will share with them my values and ethics and try to teach them to be independent thinkers so they can make the choice that they think is the wise one when they start voting one day. If I don't agree with it, then I will just have to live with it. As long as they get to vote things will usually be ok.



Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rolling, rolling, rolling.

Today was a day for roller skating.

Did you have 'boot skates'? Maybe roller blades as a kid?

Me, I am not a roller of any sort.

How are you rolling lately?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The pressure of the class mascot


I think they all have them. Schools, Kinders, Creche. Each one has sent me into a flap. A toy that comes home for the week and spends the week with the child. The child then fills in a scrap book about their adventure for the week and presents it to the class.

First up we had a dinosaur and he went everywhere for the week, we took photos, Popps drew pictures, it was fun. The book was filled with some pretty amazing artwork, seems some kids have graphic designers for parents, or go flying on weekends to exotic destinations.

Last night we had Farmer Ted. He arrived home as part of the ongoing theme of 'farming' in the prep year. Popps had swimming to go to and became distressed, "Mrs G asked if I had anything on tonight, I said no, but I forgot, oh no, we have swimming, I will be in trouble" Ahhhh disaster in her mind.

Mrs G is not really like that, but anyway.


I let her know it would all be ok. We could work it out.

Then I realised the printer at home was out of ink and the photos she wanted were not going to be printed out.

So as she got ready for swimming I snapped some shots of Farmer Ted. As the girls hit the pool I emailed those from my phone to Mr H, he was able to print them at work for us. Then he somehow managed to get locked in at work, which is what happens when you are working late. Poor Mr H has started riding his bike to work, after being locked in, it got dark, the rain came down and it was awhile before the photos arrived home. Popps was getting tired.






Finally she began her Farmer Ted homework and an hour and a half later it was done. She filled three pages of the scrap book and finally got to bed, she was so tired but really wanted to do a portrait of Farmer Ted, exactly as he looks. Thankfully, hers is the first entry in the book so we had no pressure to do or compare to what some other parents may get up to.

The difference with this one was that we only had one night, not the week to get the task done. It was a bit of a hassle and made for a late night, which Popps was ok with, but I was missing evening TV viewing and twitter.

Scary Bunny, Tired Child.
But maybe it makes no difference. All this reminded me that earlier in the year Immy had the Bunny from creche for the week and we took hundreds of photos of her and Bunny over the week. Then forgot to fill in the book, I mentioned I would print the pages out and stick them in...must add that to my list.

How do you cope with the class mascot visiting your place?
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