Tuesday, July 31, 2012

School dress up days. Otherwise known as crazy things Mums do for their kids.

Tomorrow is dress up day at school, or yet another day that I have to remember to add some cash to the school bag.

The theme is Hollywood, Big Screen, Actors or Singers, basically go as some type of singer or film star. Last week Popps had a brief moment of wanting to go as Katy Perry, but considering she only knows the song from Elmo, she gave up on that.

I suggested she just goes in casual clothes which was also an option and really, the best one for me.

But no, that would not do.

After weeks and weeks on end of singing the songs, watching the YouTube videos and driving Mr H so crazy with Annie the Musical that he placed a 24 hour ban on Annie in the house, we finally got to the performance on Friday night.

Today after school she confirmed that she will be going to school as Annie in the morning.

Right. OK.

She doesn't have red hair, or curly hair, and thankfully, isn't an orphan.

She does have a red dress. She can wear her school shoes for the black shoes and white stockings as it is way too cold for bare legs.

So I have done what all good mothers do the eve before a big day and searched YouTube and looked up how to curl hair with rags.

Tonight she sleeps like this, because Tomorrow, is only a daaayyyy awaaaaaayyyyyyyyy.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

You say potato, I say prepared packet.

I hate fresh peas. I hate frozen peas. Tinned peas can roll on my plate any day.

It's not right I know, should be the other way around, but growing up we had tin peas whenever the garden didn't have fresh ones, I hated when the fresh ones grew in a plentiful harvest.

We all get used to foods tasting a specific way and expecting them to taste that way. For me, peas should be mushy in texture, a grayish green shade...but not with a hunt of mint.

There are other foods I would never even consider eating from a tin; carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, capsicum, chicken...spam all the things that I have never ever had served to me as I grew up.

Tonight my BIL spent the afternoon making a huge amount of gnocchi, from scratch. It was delicious, he had a stew in the slow cooker that he had been preparing for 24 hours to go with it, it was a wonderful end to a fully packed weekend.

Popps and Immy love gnocchi so much that I have a few different ways to prepare it, Mr H never eats gnocchi, so we often have it on days he isn't home.

But neither girl would eat the home made delicious gnocchi on the plate tonight. They swirled it around, politely trying to look interested, they ate some veggies from the stew and declared themselves full.

In the car on the way home Popps requested that we never have that stuff again, can we please always have gnocchi bought from the supermarket.

I would love to have told her that from now we would only consume home made little parcels of potato goodness, but the truth is, in our house, gnocchi arrives in a packet. And peas arrive in a tin.

Do you have a prepared food weakness?


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Does the right wardrobe get you in the right mental place?

I am back from my twice weekly attempt to keep some level of basic fitness. I have been doing this forever and the mental challenge to get myself moving remains my biggest hurdle. It's the boredom. I listen to music, I try and listen to the radio, there are TV screens with subtitles on them so I try and make out what they are saying.

Mostly I look around at other people. I am still bored.

Today I realised something.

I am not wearing the appropriate gym gear.

My 3/4 trackie pants from 3 years ago and a gym top I picked up at kmart for about $6 last year are holding me back, and worse, when I looked in the mirror it was rather noticeable, I need a new sports bra.

I don't look like a runner. I actually look like a hobo. Red faced, shuffling along, unco-ordinated wobbles going this way and that.

Running gear
Could this be what I need?

A few of my friends got the fitness bug last year, they all started as non runners and they have blitzed the goal of 5 km and all moved on to achieve the 10km mark, most are now striving for the 14.4km race. When I look at all their photos they are all wearing the right gear, running leggings, watches that tell you your heart rate and most of all SPORTS BRAS. Never underestimate the value of a decent boob tube.

When I get dressed in my business suits I go into work mode, when I get into pjs I get straight in to sleep mode, so will it be the same that if I get dressed into black running lycra with special powers to repel demons and keep me sweat free that I will get into running mode?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tickets to Lipsynch worth $318. Get them here.

The Arts Centre in Melbourne has some fab shows on, I admit I haven't been there nearly enough over the last few decades but last week I was in hysterics while at Sing a long Sound of Music, ladies, if you go to such an event ever, remember the Tena. Take a good look around the audience and join in. So much fun!

Coming up in a couple of weeks is an amazing show, for major theatre buffs, for people who like real art, real acting and something a little extra.  I call this extreme theatre going. They call it LipSynch. It is a nine hour show, correct, nine hours, with intervals and a meal break.

I can't tell you heaps (anything actually) about it as I haven't seen it, and I am too busy trying to make friends at Popps' school and going to the $25 a night fundraiser (social life is a rockin' in burbville) so I am giving away my tickets right here.

These tickets are worth $318 for the double pass and as they are the tickets reserved for media - yes, that is me - usually they are pretty decent seats.

Here is the Youtube clip to tell you what LipSynch is all about.

The promo tells you this:

On a flight from Frankfurt to Montreal a nameless young woman dies, leaving behind a wailing baby.
And so begins the epic panorama linking nine lives and spanning seven decades in the exclusive Australian season of Robert Lepage's breathtaking theatrical event, Lipsynch.

Directed by Robert Lepage,  Produced by Ex Machina (Canada) & Théâtre Sans Frontières (UK)

For more information and tickets.

The tickets are for  Saturday 4th August at 1pm at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne.

1) Leave a comment telling me why you want to go.
2) Comments open when the post is live and close at 8pm Thursday 26 July - that is just two days away.
3) LEAVE A CONTACT EMAIL - if I can't get to you within 48 hours these tickets will go to someone else, time is vital here.
4) Anyone can enter as long as you can make it to the show IN MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA.

Disclaimer: I get nothing out of this. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Five Minute Soda Bread - A recipe

I understand, you think you are at the wrong blog, since when do I give out cooking advice? Don't worry, it will be a rare occurrence.

I have been wanting to make some soda bread for about 12 years. Actually any bread really. A couple of months ago I bought a bread making packet and nearly put my back out kneading that dough for an hour. It still wasn't like the directions said it should be but I cooked it up and then threw it in the bin when no one would eat it.

This week I tried an Irish Soda Bread recipe from a magazine, it didn't work either but I ended up with a carton of buttermilk that I didn't want to waste so I tried my own recipe. I actually do this quite often, usually with a poor ending. This one worked well enough for me to share, especially as the dough takes less than five minutes, there is no waiting for yeast to do its business and coming back to it. Just stir and go.

It is as simple as this:

1) Grab a cup, I used a coffee mug because it was close. Also turn the oven to 200 C.

2) Get a mixing bowl

3) Add to the mixing bowl, using the same cup for everything
 - A cup full of wholemeal Self Raising Flour
 - A cup full of wholemeal Plain Flour
 - sprinkle in some Bicarb Soda
 - sprinkle in some salt

4) Mix with your hand held whisk from the second drawer down. This allows magic air to do something to the floor and activate - kind of like the wonder twins used to do.

5) Add in a cup of buttermilk (using the same cup again, no new dishes).

6) Stir with large wooden spoon until mixed

7) Knead for 30 seconds or until you get it into a nice ball

8) Place on tray that has baking paper on it and cut a deep X in the top.

Bake in oven for 30 - 35 minutes.

Cut up and layer large amounts of butter, eat while it is still hot and butter drips over your hands.

If you are a domestic goddess failure like myself, this is the easy peasy, simple pimple recipe you have been waiting for. (Serve with tin tomato soup if you have to!)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Happiness from the hard rubbish.

Twice a year a special thing happens in the burbs.

Hard Rubbish Day.

The council let us know weeks in advance of the day they expect to be in our street and people start erecting piles of odd items they no longer need. The council never turns up on the day advertised, they wait an extra week in the hope that half the stuff will be gone already.

This week the nature strips are sinking with massive big televisions that don't pick up digital channels. Where do they all go? Is there some horrible hole in the earth filled with 25 years of big fat black boxes?

I hate to think of the amount of rubbish that is placed in landfill. It is the one area where I try extra hard to be a greenie. We place stuff out on our nature strip all year long, never has it lasted more than two days, our trash, someone else's treasure.

When Immy and I went for a walk to the park I spotted an old tupperware container in a box. I grabbed it and saw many more. We walked home with me carrying six tupperware containers (quite difficult when holding hands with a three year old) and I asked Mr H if he would walk down and get some more with me. He screwed up his face. The idea of 'taking' this stuff makes him uncomfortable. Once when I got him to pull over while I grabbed some chairs he drove off and parked around the corner, making me walk with the chairs to the car. Yet he loves it when he knows our junk has found a new home.

Photobomber expert 
I have spent a couple of hours soaking my vintage tupperware in pine o clean, it has hit the dishwasher for an extra scrub and now it's looking pretty good. I am deciding what to fill it with, but whatever ends up in it, I expect it will be getting another twenty years of use around here.

Filthy old tupperware has made my day.

Do you pick things up?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

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The last days of the toothy pegs?

I snapped this picture of Popps this morning as she was walking out the door. That top tooth on your left is rather wobbly and she has been waiting for this moment FOREVER!

As one of the oldest in her class she thinks it is terrible that she is one of the last to lose a tooth.

That little pearler is getting wibbled and wobbled non-stop today. She has requested an apple for lunch to see if it comes out while she is eating.

Depending on how much action that tooth gets today this could be my last image of her with all her baby teeth, if it isn't, I am going to take photos of her non stop til it does fall out and we start the next stage of gappy teeth and tooth fairies.

Were your kids excited to lose their first tooth?  (and do you love pigtails?)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mummy Hoarders

It's time to go: Baby Shoes
If you stay up late enough and flick the TV channels enough you will find one of those shows on about hoarders, people who have a really tough time throwing anything out. They surround themselves with so much stuff that the home becomes a stinking prison of mess and junk. Interesting viewing for a bit, until you realise that these people are in desperate need of help.

It seems some of us Mums have a teeny bit of the hoarder in us too.

I have a box of baby stuff that I haven't given away. Most of the clothes are gone except the last box of items that I thought were too good/special/wonderful/my favourites so they needed to be kept.

I am not sure what I plan to do with these things.

After downloading and figuring out how easy the ebay app is to use on my phone, I wanted to load up some stuff. It is time to get rid of the last box of things, but really the value someone else has on these is substantial. Unless I sell them for a trillion dollars then I keep thinking I might as well keep them. No logic.

My friend Herbie was telling me how much she loves her pram, will never part with it. My prams are well used, I am still using them when we walk to school, when the time comes that Immy is happy to walk the whole way I will happily pass them on to anyone that is in desperate need of a pram (they are well used).

My high chair and portacot will soon hit ebay too and a couple of car seats are sitting ready to go to new families, whatever price they reach wont bother me, it will be just getting them out of the house that I need.

But I wont be selling our cot. It is packed up under the spare bed collecting dust. I can't part with it. I remember checking out all the cots, working out what I wanted, putting it together and dreaming about how our babies would sleep calm and quiet in that space (of course they never did).

I have no idea why I want to keep a piece of furniture that we have no need for, but I will, that teeny bit of hoarder in me just can not part with it. It makes no sense, but it's staying anyway.

What are you hoarding?

Friday, July 13, 2012

The evolution of a wrap.

This baby wrap started life as a gift for a newborn baby. It became a preferred item because it was new, not used by baby number one,  it was perfect for a summer baby in weight and texture.

Notice back corner, Stripy Blanket has entered the house. (About 4 weeks old)

After noticing how much it was used, the provider of the gift actually gave us another identical wrap, the two were then used constantly, one used, one washed.

Over time the stripy wrap become a permanent fixture, over my shoulder, in my handbag, in the cot, in the pram, wherever baby Immy was, stripy blanket went too. It was wonderful when I started back at work to know that such an item could actually make her happy. If she was upset, stripy blanket could calm her down and make her feel safe and happy.

Stripy Blanket is now coming along on car trips. (Immy around 3 months old)

After a while, stripy blanket became blanky and as I worried that blanky 1 or 2 may one day disappear I rang the maker of them to see if they had any left at all as the website said they were no longer making them. They did, so I bought the last seven, I put a few away for emergency situations, and added two more into the regular cycle of use, now that Immy was walking blanky got dragged through all sorts of mess and required more washing.

 11 months old, she could not walk but would stand like this for ages.

As Immy started to talk, blanky became blankLet.

Two blanklets got lost, even with my mobile number written on them and searches far and wide, they were never seen again.

Immy's second birthday and first Carols by Candlelight. Blanklet came too.
I tried to throw another blanklet into the mix but "New Blanklets" were not received. The fabric was just not the same anymore.

Once I realised they would never be used as a comfort toy I sewed all but one of them together and used them for the transition to a big girl bed. There was much delight in having a bed covered in blanklets, but they were still not 'attached' to.

Blanklet was once rubbed on the side of the nose while she went to sleep, but somewhere during the year of two, Blanklet started to be sniffed instead. Blanklet was no longer. Blanklet was now called Sniffy.

The corner were the tag must be sniffed.

We have two Sniffy blanklets and one NEW blanklet that is only used for playing dolls.

This winter, Sniffy has been sniffed like someone with a chroming habit and when Immy got a cold Sniffy became nothing but manky, covered in snot and cough. During this time Sniffy also got a preferred corner (the one with the tag on it) to be sniffed and even in her sleep she will spin that rag around until she gets the appropriate corner and sniffs it up with all her heart.

Sniffy is no longer called Sniffy. Sniffy is now called Stinky.

I could not cope with Stinky any longer so yesterday I snuck one of the remaining two from her bed while she slept and washed and dried it and then snuck it back in.

Stinky is still more brown than white.

In the morning there were tears. Stinky smelt wrong. Stinky was  not stinking properly.  But more had to be done.  I gave her the washed Stinky and threw the other one in the wash too. She was more than distraught. Washed Stinky was thrown against the wall as only an old rag can be (softly) he was stomped on and she hugged the front loader like it was her last friend on earth.

Washed Stinkys are currently being dragged around the house, used much less as they don't feel right, and apparently they 'don't have much stink and my body doesn't like them yet".

But they will not be discarded and 'New' Stinky will still not be touched.

There is life in Washed Stinkys yet.

Do your kids have a comfort object, what crazy things have they attached themselves to?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Public speaking: Love it or hate it?

For someone who tends to talk quite a bit you would think that talking to a group of people would be pretty easy for me.

But presenting information to large meetings, standing up next to a lectern or even worse, having to use a microphone is one of those things that terrifies me.

The more people the worse I am.

Then I go and agree to be on a speaking panel for a blogging seminar in a few weeks. It is being promoted as a casual affair, but with over 50 people attending I am already stressing about it.

No idea what I should wear - casual, not business, so suits are out, but it's at night so it needs to be warm - least of my worries really though. Mainly I stress that because I get so nervous I can either just talk and talk and talk or I forget the question.

Or what if I am asked a question and I don't know the answer?

What if I am so nervous that I stutter and stumble over the words?

So the question you might be wondering is why would I say yes to such a thing? Because, just like I keep telling Popps when she laces up her roller skates, you never get better at something if you don't practice.  I need to get better at public speaking. I need to be able to stand up and explain concepts to people without falling apart for 24 hours beforehand so I am going to have to force myself to do it.

What are your tips for speaking to a crowd? (Please don't say imagine them all in their underwear!)

Image from Pinterest

P.S.  If you are at the event please only ask me super easy questions.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Friends that don't bring lasagna

Do you have those friends that you don't see for ages and ages and then when the moons, stars and babysitters align for you both you finally get to see each other again and it is like you just chatted yesterday.

Recently I got to have dinner with two long time friends that I hardly ever see now - on separate nights - and both times it was as though we had only just chatted days before.

These are friends I met at uni and over the last nearly 20 years* we have all been through many adventures, weddings, bridesmaid dresses, births, jobs, european adventures and kids parties.

We don't live very close to each other anymore, we don't deliver each other lasagna when one of those babies is born. We don't drop around to each other's house for coffee and cake or let our kids play at the park together.

But when we catch up, I have the greatest of times.

Maybe it is because I know they are good sorts. That I know when things are shite they will listen to Mariah Carey's 'Hero' on repeat for three days straight.**

Maybe it is because when I am in Ireland and low on cash they will also be happy to sleep in a bed that cost less than a pint of beer for the night and risk the threat of disease to save a dollar. Or attempt a drive off when you missed the curfew and didn't even sleep in the dingy establishment.

It could be that they saw me through those dodgy university days, of dating the wrong boyfriends, being dumped by same wrong boyfriends, that they waited with me in the streets while I was the last person on earth to turn 18 or tried to smuggle me in the back door of pubs. We shared lipsticks and bronzing powder and perfume. We shared houses and huddled around gas heaters to keep the bills down in winter. They dragged me out of low times and celebrated my high times.

Perhaps it's because they are glass half full people, the ones always ready to have a laugh. They could not care if I breastfed, co slept, or wore a baby sling. They care that I am well, that things are good.

It might be ages before I have dinner with them again, but I know when I do, it will be just as good as it has always been.

I have new friends that surround me but I will also always have my uni friends, our catch ups may be few, but they are also mighty fine.

Do you have friends that don't bring lasagna?

*Considering we are now 27 we were clearly very young at uni.
** It was the early 90s, it was the only choice.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Is the whole work from home thing so great?

Does working from home provide you extra freedom?

Maybe, for now, yes, but forever? I don't know.

For me right now I have the golden ticket for our family. Part time (decent) work that provides flexibility to work in the office or at home depending what is happening everywhere else.

It's a give and take situation, they give me the flexibility I need and in return, when I am asked if I can do a bit extra I do my best to ensure I can (like 7am meetings!)

But working from home isn't everything. It means you can see the clothes that need hanging out, the dishwasher may need unpacking and in school holiday times there are little people who need lunch and no matter how good they are behaving for the entire day, when the phone rings they are likely to call for you.

That's just parenting, working parenting, I can deal with that, and those days are few once the school year starts (thank you creche for never taking holidays).

What I miss is the lunch and the chatter.

Working in an office there is always a cafe (or hundred) to order lunch from and there are usually people to eat it with. 

There is news of workmates and other projects, successes and failures. Sometimes there is boring office politics but I am pretty good at keeping out of that most days. There is also the sharing of work skills. If you can't get something to work maybe someone else knows another way or has a better idea. 

But then again, you can't go to work with your slippers on or sneak back down to school to see an award being given at assembly. 

Working from home can mean catching up with emails and reading at night when the kids are in bed to ensure you don't miss other things during the day.

For me, working from home is a great solution to many of the requirements we need, but I don't know if I will want it forever (perhaps I will). I do know that I will want the flexibility to do a bit of everything, work from home, work in the office and be flexible enough to meet the needs of my girls. 

Is there ever the perfect happily ever after job? If you are a working parent are you a work at home fan or an office lover?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Warning: If you do not like excessive amounts of food colouring, look away now.

The days are shorter when you have a crazy activity to do with the kids, so I thought I would do this one. I got the idea from a blogger on Instagram who was doing it properly and put some photos up, but this was my "let the children play" version of rainbow cupcakes.

We made two packet cake mixes up, you could make up whatever usual batter you prefer.

We separated the mix into five bowls and the girls picked which colours to make. 

The purple was tough and cooked up more like a brown but was all part of the fun.

Once the mix was made I divided up (equally to prevent any crazy carry on) the pans we had to use and each bowl was given two spoons (again to prevent crazy carry on).

We also added lemon flavouring to the yellow and vanilla to another colour, who knows which, but it was to make things very fair!

They were allowed to prepare their rainbow cakes in any way they wanted.

There was only one rule 

"If Mum catches you with the spoon in your mouth you have to stop"

This seemed to work.

It took them nearly an hour to fill their cupcake pans and they really enjoyed doing the whole lot pretty much by themselves. 

The results are pretty colourful.

It filled in an afternoon and has provided snacks for the next few days. 

I am not sure if this is considered Art or Craft or Cooking. Arftooking maybe?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Other bloggers write great stuff: 4 things you might like.

Four things you might have missed if you don't spend hours checking your google reader each week:

Click on the image to take you to the blog post.

The lunch box image was from this blog 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Another stage? A short one I hope.

First semester holidays are attacking me.

They got me by surprise, rarely do I get this cranky with the girls.

I was looking forward to the relaxing mornings and letting the girls just play rather than rushing off everywhere. It hasn't happened that way. Popps is agitating Immy half the day, the games of Babies and Mum and Dad that Immy usually quietly plays for half an hour are interrupted with fights over who gets which doll and which pram and which outfit.

It is freezing outside and heading to the park is barely an option.

They are always hungry.

There is mess everywhere.

I didn't book in the gym creche and can't get to do my usual exercise.

I am trying to work a couple of hours from home (this means I am staying up late to do it).

Popps has been in tears because I am yelling at her too much.

Immy has been in tears because she can't wear the same jumper as Popps.

So I have gone back to old school tactics.

The old school video shop. We went, we signed up. I let them pick two weekly's each.

There has been fighting over who got to watch their's first so I yelled some more and they cried some more.

But right now, I have made bowls of popcorn, got out the bean bags and Mickey Mouse is playing. It goes for an hour, which is hopefully enough to get me back on the calm track.

I am hoping the last few days are just a stage, one that is about to end as quickly as it started.

Please tell me it is.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Do blogs influence your behaviour?

I was chatting with a researcher recently, (they are studying bloggers at universities now) one of the questions she asked was about the influence of blogs in decision making. Do blog posts influence people in their behaviours?

I answered yes. Not always, but sometimes.

People wanting to sell things certainly think so as they are spending time trying to get coverage on the biggest and best blogs.

Others say they read blogs for information, which I guessing often leads to a change in some type of behaviour, be it exercise, decorating a house, cooking, holidays, health or shopping.
One of my first posts was a review of a kids movie, that post still gets hits for people looking to know more about the film. I have had emails and messages about my sleep post and my poo post from parents glad to have read them. These are not posts that are trying to influence a persons purchase behaviour, but they still have influence.

I feel inspired by others from their online sharing of information, I signed up to the 12wbt after seeing the success of other close friends on facebook and twitter. I have not had their success, but what they shared online made me decide to give the program a go.

I have long said the tube dress and skirt is not for the likes of me and my muffins, but ended up getting one after this post from A beach cottage.

It isn't only purchase decisions, blogs have affected many of my behaviours, from my cooking, kids party ideas, craft activities I do with the kids (the spaghetti painting was one of them). I have donated to causes I have read about and use other blogs as a source for new places to visit. 

At another seminar I went to recently the host was discussing gourmet foodie mags he was working with, they had told him that blogs were a major source of competition for the mags now. A food blogger may give a daily step by step post on a fabulous meal and readers are engaged with the blogger and keep going back for more. It has meant food magazines have had to step it up and really only show case the most amazing meals to keep their readers coming back.

Blogs do influence my choices, thoughts and behaviours, sometimes more than others

What about you?