Friday, March 26, 2010

"Excuse me while I change in front of you"

There was a store in the centre I worked that displayed my post title on a huge sign out the front for months. They were renovating the store. For the first week I thought it quite witty. By the second week walking past every day it became maddening unfunny, to the point I wanted to knock on the door and tell them to go change somewhere-bloody-else! I don't know why it annoyed me so. Maybe because I hated that job...
Anyway, long-winded way of telling you I'm playing with my blog again. I discovered blogger in draft! So forgive the ever-changing craziness while I redecorate my little plot of webland.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Check this out:

stunning, gorgeous, amazing. Just incredible right? Now take a closer look:

Yep. That's right my friends. It's made completely from cotton thread, wire, and more than 14,000 tampons, and it's 5m tall. I found it on one of my favourite design blogs, The Mogg Blogg, and just had to share. It's creators (the blog, that is, not the tampondelier), Joy and Janet, scour the design world for the 'fugliest' and craziest design ideas and display them for all the world to see.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mundane medicine

Even as a child I would make my bed every day. When all around is chaos, that island of smoothed sheet and plumped pillow can calm me more than almost anything. I think the ultimate thing in making a bed is that it allows at least one task to be completed, even if nothing gets done all day, and that gives my life some small semblance of worth.
I stumbled across this article excerpt on Wide Open Spaces and had to share it, because it's the only way I can describe what making my bed means without sounding insane. Of course, my life is sans the children, husband, and fabulous career, but nonetheless full of small moments of desperation and unsteady waters.

 "Making the bed":

The simplest, most satisfying activity I do all day is making my bed. In seven minutes or less, I accomplish something small but worthwhile. I give myself a new beginning.On a morning of chaos, children hollering, misplaced homework, and a husband looking for clean socks, it's the calm in a storm. I love the physical, methodical act of tugging sheets and plumping pillows. I sense my jumbled thoughts being sorted as I exact the length of the blanket along the horizon of the bed. If I am anxious, stretching my arms wide and lifting the sheets high in the air releases some of the unease into the universe along with the eyelashes and the lint. It's organizing in the most gentle of ways.

Life is hard sometimes - hard for everyone differently, but hard. For me, there are intricate blended-family calisthenics, concerns about overcrowding in my kid's school, money worries, children worries, parent worries, and wrinkles in weird places. It can be overwhelming, but I find making the bed is a good first step to getting a handle on it all. Being a mother and a wife, a writer and an actress, is wonderful, really wonderful, but I don't know that I do it right all the time. I make mistakes, feel in search of out-of-reach answers; but I can assemble something that has been dismantled, straighten what has been undone. When I make the bed, I am caring for something important to me and my husband (and sometimes, in the middle of the night, a child.) A made bed is good to come home to. It says to the world and, more important, to you, "I am not unhinged."

It's never to late to make the bed. If it doesn't get done at 7:45 am because I had to start over with the eggs or I slept a little too long, it will still be there later that afternoon. Sometimes I make the bed 15 minutes before I get in it again.
And, inevitably, while i consider if the sheet is on the correct side or pull out a down feather that has poked through the case, there is a moment when it strikes me how lucky I am to have a bed."

The article, published in Real Simple, was written by writer and actress Isabel Gillies. For those of you who loved this passage as much for the writing as the content, you should do as I am and track down her book Happens Every Day.
And in the mean time, make your bed - it'll make you feel good.

Monday, March 22, 2010


My cousin and I both read a lot, but what and how we read is very different. She is devoted to fanfics and much prefers scrolling computerised pages, with the tv on in the background for the occassional break. She reads books as well, but only if she is unable to find the story she's after online first.
I, on the other hand, despise reading online - aside from obsessive blog trolling of course. For me the story is not just the words on the page but the whole experience: the cover art, the feel of the paper, the location it is read in, the history of the writer, the story, and the book itself. Reading online takes so many of these features away, the story becomes cold, sterile, almost hostile in its reading. It removes a level of connectedness that compells me to read.
I think I've mention once or twice that I love old things, and old books are no different, because they link you to the past in an amazing way. Their smell, their feel, their color, even their war wounds excite me and comfort me. For me, finding a book with yellowing pages, scribble marks, chocolate smudges and dog-eared edges is akin to discovering a Burbery trench - in just the right size - for 75% off. Picking up a book like that means not only is the story obviously worthy of reading (and maybe re-reading), the book was loved by the reader (or readers) and then passed on so that I could share in the goodness inside. It's the same reason I love good food, because sharing either is a chance to share with someone something more than an experience, something more akin to an adventure.
To me the outward appearance, the look, feel and smell of the book are just as important to the reading as the words themselves. With online reading you lose all that. Gone is the ability to put a face to the long-suffering victim on the front cover, gone is the mustiness that reminds you Dickens wrote these words some eighty years ago, gone the exquisite touch of thick, smooth pages that warrant the blowing of your monthly budget to live vicariously through an imaginary vixen. And gone the all-important ability to luxuriate in the reading in any location you choose (for me it's usually under the covers with a naughty treat).
Yes, I am aware there are now portable tablets that allow you to store and read hundreds of books, just like an ipod would music. I'm also aware that laptops can be moved from place to place. But this merely solves the problem of location, and perhaps cover-imagery if there is a photo available. And these factors without all  the others are not enough to prevent me rueing the dreaded day when printed word is completely usurped by the multitude of  media varieties available. For me, even cooking from a recipe book gives me more pleasure than scrolling the endless blogs I love for the perfect afternoon sweetness.
So you'll understand why, after noticing my dear friend Wabi had pledged, that I must do the same. And so I do:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Muffin tops (the good kind)

I've never been a skinny girl. In fact, for the bulk of my childhood I was larger than I am even now. I was the token fat kid. Suffice to say any dreams of Supermodel stardom were short-lived. During high school I slimmed down a bit, and in my early twenties I was even a size ten for a while - A size I never thought I'd see again.
But, after three almost four months of resting my knee and three months of food overload, I looked in the mirror last week to discover that my muffin tops have muffin tops. And not the yummy, crunchy on the outside soft on the inside, baked treat type either.
So, in an effort to banish both layers of muffin topage from my middle I decided to start swimming with a vegeance, and stopped eating with one. The second part of that plan is the hardest to fulfill, what with my vow of eternal loyalty to chocolate and all. I put my plan into action this week and am already feeling better for the early morning swims and almost-always-good meal choices.
The hardest thing has been finding snacks that are both healthy and delicious, and ones that use the neverending supply of fresh veges Darling mother produces with her incredible green thumb. So when I came across this muffin recipe on the Australian Master Chef website I was chuffed. I know muffins aren't exactly the god of all things healthy, but they are a tasty baked treat that doesn't blow all your good eating out the window like, say KFC chips (I know, so bad...but sooooo good).
I changed the recipe slightly to accomodate my family's need for meat in everything, and also to give it a bit more flavour, and I think the paprika and bacon gives it a lovely smokey flavour that is really satisfying. I also baked mine at 180C instead of 200C because I hate that burnt-mouth taste a lot of muffins have because the flour hasn't been cooked out enough.

Savoury Zuncchini Muffins - Dotty Style
2cup self-raising flour
1cup vegetable stock
2tbsp olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4cup parmesan cheese, grated
1cup tasty cheese, grated
2tbsp chopped chives
1tsp mustard powder
2tsp paprika
2 medium zucchini, grated
1/2-1cup bacon, diced
1. Preheat oven to 180C and line 12-cup muffin tray. Cook off bacon until crispy and cool.
2. Combine Sifted flour, mustard powder, paprika, chives and cheese in large bowl. Add zucchini and bacon and stir well. Combine stock, oil, and eggs in jug and pour into dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
3. Spoon into muffin tins, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 30mins, or until golden on top.  

Oh, and here's what they look like:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Writing things down

I applied for a job this morning with both excitement and trepidation. A friend of mine told me she'd put in a good word for me with her superiors if I applied for the position, add to that the horrendous amount of skills I have and I think I've got a rather good shot. The problem: it's as Assistant Manager in a retail store and I'm incredibly sick of convincing people to buy things they just don't need. I'll save my consumerism rant for another time but, suffice to say, after ten years in retail I know how much mark up is on products and I also know the shiny leather Gucci bag isn't really $2000 of better quality than the shiny leather unknown-brand bag. 
There are countless other reasons I'd rather not go back into retail - standing on your feet all day, working every public holiday, nasty customers, the threat of being stuck in retail forever! Yes, that last point is the one that scares me the most, why do you ask? But when it comes down to it, I'm also excited at the possibilities retail offers me. It means I have a job, but it also means I can move back to Brisbane, have a purpose in my days and save some money. And the money is the most important, because with that I can afford to go back to study, travel, and maybe...just maybe create my own little business on the side. 
Besides, the company I'd be working for, kikki.K, is one of my all time favourites. Just look at the cuteness they sell:

Oh and of course, it's not all about cute, they do sophistication:

and style as well:

Now all I have to do is get the job. Cross your fingers for me.   

Monday, March 15, 2010


I've been lazy again. But I've also been away. A Darling Friend turned twenty-four on March 7 and, while this is not such an auspicious birthday, I packed a suitcase and headed south to celebrate with him.
My friend lives in Orange, a medium-sized town about three hours north-west of Sydney. While there I spent countless hours wandering the oh-so-English gardens and parks, snapping photos of all manner of flora and fauna, and eating...eating...eating. Although, with much less of a gap between each bite.
Yes, as with all adventures, much of my time centred around gluttony, the sin for which I'm sure I will eventually be cast into death by heart failure. The area around Orange is prime farmland, filled with cattle, sheep, vinyards, and all manner of delicious foodstuffs. Ironically, Orange is not famous for oranges, rather apples and cherries of which, again ironically, I tried neither while there. I did however buy some local honey (for a belated Christmas gift) and experience a restaurant that you simply must try next time you're in the neighbourhood.
Tonic is situated a half-hour drive from Orange itself, in a town which I'm sure I'll go back to experience sometime in the future. But for now, Tonic. Set in the old Millthorpe picture theatre, the restaurant itself was enough to make me smile (I love old buildings and architecture), but the food: Heaven.
The menu on the website is slightly different to that available on the night, but I'm sure even the fussiest gourmand could appreciate their Vennison with duck liver parfait, or the rediculously delicious amuse bouche of roasted capsicum and tomato soup. It sounds simple but fresh capsicum, basil, tomato, lime...I'm drooling!
Dessert was no less fabulous. My Darling Friend had a raspberry chocolate semi-freddo we all agreed would substitute sex quite nicely, while my mango souffle and french vanilla-bean ice-cream would easily entice me to take a vow of chastity in order to taste just one more bite. If I could offer any advice it would be to skip the complimentary petit fours as they left a dry, dirty taste where once had bean* only sweet delight.

*Still dreaming about that ice-cream...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Nice wheels

No doubt you've discovered my bike love already. I've got a bit of a thing for big-wheeled, high-seated, old school bicycles especially. So when I found this:

I had to share. The best part: this t-shirt is created by a Pretty Racoon from Canada who makes and silk-screens a bunch of fun and funky printed tees and other things. Love!