Wednesday, 5 August 2015

5 Lessons I Learned from The Walking Dead

I've been watching The Walking Dead lately. It's got me thinking, not just about my weapon of choice when the zombies come (which, incidentally, would be a samurai sword) but also about life. Real life. 

Watching these characters live day-to-day, sometimes minute-to-minute is both stressful and compelling. They eat to live, they cherish each other and clothing that somewhat fits is a luxury. Strangely, there's a romantic idealistic appeal to the way they live - excluding the flesh-eating zombies, of course. 

Why? I think it's because they're back to basics. Their "job" is to find food, to protect themselves and to stay alive. It's like the olden days. Sort of. 

Here are 5 things that become undeniably clear when the un-dead plague the world:

1) Everything is Really Hard Without Electricity

Zombie ate your wife? Hang on, I'll make you a cup of tea. Oh, I can't, my kettle won't work. Cold beer instead? Oh, sorry, not cold anymore.

Far out, almost every simple little thing we do relies on electricity. The old black-out is always a little exciting for the first few minutes, especially for children (assuming they're not alone in the dark) but the novelty wears off pretty damn quick.

Fumbling around in the dark for a torch is tolerable, laughable even, until you can't find the torch. That's when you decide to switch on the light so it's easier to look for the torch.

And those are the frustrating little brain lapses that you deal with while you wait for "them" to "get the power back on".

It's impossible to realise how much we rely on electricity until we don't have it. Next time you're making five stale-bread Vegemite sandwiches for dinner in the middle of a blackout, spare a thought for our Walking Dead friends who have to do that whilst simultaneously spearing recently deceased relatives. Unfair prickly-pear.

2) It's All About the People

Humans need humans. We're not designed to exist on our own. We need family, friends, partners, off-spring. We need people around us, people we can talk to, rely on, learn from, teach, grow with. We need connection. 

We are so utterly surrounded by media these days. We are so consumed by all the gadgets, by all the things we have access to, by all the stuff we fill our days with, it's easy to take our loved ones, colleagues and even strangers for granted.

For the characters in the show, their very survival depends on their relationships and alliances with other people. It's not about their job, or their wealth, or their weight or looks or clothing. It's about working together to protect one another, to look after each other. To live.

Their limited down time is about connecting with one another, forging new friendships, sharing stories of the life they once lived and dream of again. It's not about watching TV or playing Minecraft, it's about each other. If you take out all the grossness and death, it's very much a show about life before technology as we know it. 

So next time you choose Candy Crush over your partner, or push in when ordering a beer at the bar, you might want to reconsider your choices. When a hungry zombie is trying to eat you and only one person can save you, pray to God it's not the person you pissed off in the traffic last week.

3) Be Resourceful, Not Wasteful

We live in a throw-away society, in a time when it's easier and cheaper to replace than to fix. We replace rugs and pillows without thought because the interwebs tell us that blue is out, yellow is in. The toaster keeps burning one side of the bread, so we chuck it and get a new one because they're $7 at Kmart. WHEN did that happen?

When times are tough (and you don't need an army of dead people chasing you for times to be considered tough), we can channel our parents or grandparents and think twice before replacing something or throwing it away.

Practicing this skill now will not only save you money and spread a lovely environmental vibe, it will prepare you for a time when things may truly be tough.

Life can take some pretty unexpected turns, leading us in directions of uncertainty. Losing a job, illness, trying to pay for stupidly expensive kid's dancing lessons. Or a zombie apocalypse. Who knows? Either way, you'll be grateful you watched The Walking Dead and discovered a viable alternative use for hubcaps.

That said, if something is of no use to you and is not special to you, lose it. Otherwise it becomes clutter and clutter causes us to lose our shit. You know it.

4) Fitness, Health and Strength Matter

Be as fit, healthy and strong as you can be. 

We all know this is important and I find the older I get, the truer it becomes. Each hangover is evidence of how much harder it is to bounce back. 

If you want to be fit and active when you're 70, you need to be fit and active way before you get there. You need to take care of yourself now. Put the wine down and go for a walk every now and then. 

Maybe The Walking Dead is completely make-believe and the zombies will never come. But if it IS real and they DO come, you'll be so glad you learnt how to breath when jogging. So ridiculously glad. 

5) Appreciate EVERYTHING

In our busy lives with our jam-packed over-stimulated minds, it's really easy to forget how fortunate we actually are. 

I stood naked in the bathroom the other night, waiting for the hot water to wind it's way through the pipes. I was cold and tired and I'd actually had to force myself to believe a shower was a good idea. 

The rest of the family had all had their baths and showers and obviously bloody long ones because the hot water never came. There was NO way I was having a cold shower so I put my clothes back on and told off each member of my family for enjoying the shower so much.

Poor me. I had to wait till the morning to have my lovely hot shower. 

Millions of people all over the world, every day, go without luxuries like this and sometimes we really need to take a good hard look in the mirror and remember just how lucky we are. And enjoy checking your reflection because ain't nobody got time for that when the un-dead are trying to chow down on your loved ones.

Are you a fan of The Walking Dead? Have you learnt anything?

Thursday, 23 July 2015

5 Ways to Make Your House Appear Cleaner Than It Really Is

Home, the place where you keep all your stuff. Several times a year, it looks pristine, like the pages of Vogue Living. The floors shine, the windows are completely see-through and clean surfaces make you swell with pride as you check your reflection on the kitchen bench.

The other 360 days a year it looks lived-in and for the bulk of those, it looks like it's lived in by 23 extra people.


Part of my commitment to include fun stuff in my life (and not just the have-to tasks that consume the bulk of it) means that most of the time, my house makes me cringe. I'm a Virgo, too, so "shit everywhere" is particularly hard to deal with.

My dining table is NEVER clear, never ready to use for a crazy activity like dining. Each night, all the objects scattered on the table get bundled into a pile and moved to the top of the buffet where paper goes to die. If your child's party invitation accidentally makes it to that pile, we will be unable to attend. Apologies.

We all make an extra effort to clean up before guests come over, even if that guest is actually a plumber coming to fix the leaking tap.

Here are 5 ways to totally cheat and achieve the Vogue Living look in a hurry.


To achieve clean surfaces, all the crap piled up on the table, the buffet, the kitchen bench and the coffee table has to go somewhere. The big obvious stuff gets dealt with properly (time permitting of course) and nobody escapes this task, not even the kids.

What about all the little bits and pieces? The bills, school notes, kids drawings, earbuds, magazines, USB sticks, McHappy toys and paper-planes?

Pile it all up and shove it into a cupboard or drawer that has been left vacant specifically for this purpose.

Next time you need something you can't find, go straight to that special place and sort through it like a rabid dog. You won't mind because you'll know deep down that your dining table was bare when your kid's 9 year old friend came over.

Yes, you'll eventually have to clean it out but the beauty of this method is that by the time you get to this stuff, you'll realise you don't need most of it and chuck it away without thought. Winning.


This one is particularly useful if you're selling your house.

There is not one good reason why you can't store your dirty dishes in the microwave before an open-house. Not one.

It's also completely acceptable to store crap in your car. Trust me.

Enough said.


Who has cleaning cloths that look like this?

Nothing says clean like the smell of bleach. OK, OK, don't yell. I know we don't like to use cleaning products. They're bad for the environment. But I'm sure a little Spray & Wipe on this special occasion won't hurt too much.

If you really want to show off, use Mr Sheen. Then your guests will not only be impressed that you've clean, waxed and polished as you dusted, they'll also think they've time travelled. Warning, they may then expect devilled eggs and ambrosia.

Taking it a step further, a scented candle implies you are calm as well as organised (little do they know) and fresh flowers look great while masking the usual odour of wet-dog.


Think realistically about where your guests will be at your house. Are they really going to hang out in your bedroom or the laundry? Sure, make your bed, do the basics but when it comes to the nitty-gritty, save it for the rooms that will actually be occupied. If the laundry is in view, remember to store all your dirty washing in the washing machine. An empty basket says superwoman.


Your guests won't have time to notice how dirty your blinds are if you hit them with a drink before they've even put their bag down. A ready to go platter means you can get them eating while you're still greeting, totally diverting their attention to what's really important: food and wine.

This is a double-edged winner's sword. If you have to rummage around for a platter or your fancy wine glasses in the cupboard where you just shoved all your shit, you might get caught out. No, don't do that. Be prepared.

Do you have your some cheats of your own? Let us know, share the love.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

5 Things to Do Now to Ease Back to School Pressure

The kids go back to school next week for the beginning of Term 3. These school holidays are like school-year equivalent to Wednesday, hump day. We're on the downward slope after this week, counting down to Christmas, summer (thank God) and the BIG holidays.

It doesn't matter if the kids have a couple of days off or 10 weeks, I'm never organised properly for them to go back. This time, I'm determined to be a little less chaotic on Monday morning and I'm here to help you too.

Here's a list of 5 things that I'm doing this week to minimise the stress of next week. They may be no-brainers to many, even most of you. But if I can help just one other mum, even if it's just reminding her that she needs to take her kids to school on Monday, then my work is done.

You with me?

1) Clean out the School Bags

The gunk that can accumulate in the bottom of a school bag is, at times, repulsive. Crumbs, apple slices, even mouldy sandwiches if you're particularly unlucky can pile up in the bottom of the bag. Wipe them out, wash their hats or jumpers or rain coats or whatever else lives in there. Put them in a sunny spot to dry out and get some good, sunny, germ-killing vibes in the bag. Check for any notes / forms in their bags and file / sign / return as necessary.

If I look, I'll always find a pencil with some other kid's name on it.

2) Replenish Stationery

Glue sticks, pencils and highlighters seem to be the items that wear out or get lost the most in my house. Write their names on the new stuff and pack them into their bags now. Cover and books that need covering and locate any school or library books that need to be returned.

3) Bake 

Cook a batch of something that can go in the freezer to call on for lunch boxes. Banana bread is always a good one and you can freeze individual servings wrapped in Glad Wrap. Be careful, don't cut yourself like husband did! You can read about that here.)

I tried a recipe for pumpkin muffins from Maxabella Loves and it is yum. Mr 9 won't have a bar of it (although he helped make them) but Miss 6 is on board. You'll find a lot of tasty lunch box suggestions there.

4) Prepare Uniforms

Wash and iron the uniforms. If they don't need ironing, fold and put them away so you know exactly where to find them on Monday morning. This includes shoes, socks, hats, ties, tabs and any other necessity for school.

5) Remind the kids 

There's nothing worse than your child being shocked about going back to school, especially younger children who are less time-aware. I find it's best to remind them regularly but reiterating that they still have so many days left to enjoy. If your kids love the idea of going back to school, this may not be much of an issue but if they don't, this can be a big one!

You'll still need to make up the lunchboxes and get the children dressed on Monday morning, which is always easier said than done, but if you've done these 5 things before Monday arrives, you'll be eternally grateful to yourself.

Is back to school a drama for you? Or is anything better than juggling school holidays?

Monday, 6 July 2015

Retail Anxiety and Coping with Kids at the Checkout

Do you shop at Aldi?

Have you ever used the self-service checkouts at Coles or Woolworths?

Have you ever done either of the above whilst shopping with children?

Good Lord, is it just me, or is grocery shopping, especially with kids, becoming more stressful?

The Aldi checkout is a well known centre for stress, particularly to the novice Aldi shopper. Even regular Aldi patrons with a trolley full of products can come unstuck at the register, trying in vain to pack their own goods, invariably scrambling to finish bagging their items well after the transaction has been completed.

"Sorry, I won't be a second, I just need to get my frozen chips, chocolate, ski-gear and drop-saw and I'll be out of your way." Crazy.

Add kids to the equation and you spend 30 minutes assuring them that Little Bears are EXACTLY the same as Tiny Teddies and promising them that they will indeed like Wheat Brix.

Aldi is cheap and they have fabulous random items each week that seem to be perfectly timed. Have you ever found yourself looking through an Aldi catalogue and spotting the very item you declared two weeks ago that you needed but didn't know existed or thought it was way out of your price range?

I need a dome-shaped, pink fridge with hairdryer attachment and bonus socks for less than $30. Oh, there it is, page 3 of the catalogue, on sale this Saturday. I'd better get there 15 minutes before the shop opens wearing riot gear because those other Aldi shoppers are BRUTAL. It's carnage.

Sound familiar?

The self-serve checkouts at Coles and Woolies are just their way of making us do the work for them. Once upon a time people used to scan our groceries and pump our petrol. Now we do it ourselves. They bloody-well tricked us into working for them! We tell ourselves it's quicker, more efficient and cheaper. Is it? I don't think so.

Do you avoid buying fresh fruit and veg if you plan to use the self-service checkout? No barcode, no purchase?

I've been that shopper. Not any more. I've gradually come to know the self-service system and am now competent at looking up items with no barcode. Please don't applaud, I'm not yet worthy. I'll let you know when I'm beyond competent, when I've reached the sparkly golden status of expert.

Skilled as I may be at it now, it's a particularly courageous mood that will persuade me to self-serve when shopping with the children.

There are basically two options here. Let the kids participate or don't.

If you choose the latter, you need to be prepared to put up with all kinds of shittiness as denying a child the right to scan a barcode is a punishable offence.

You must also be prepared for the system to glitch more than once as the kids will undoubtedly lean on the scale or remove a product / bag when the computer says no. You may need to call for assistance several times per transaction (irony?). That sucks.

Or, you can be patient-happy-herbal parent and let them help. "Help".

It will take longer. They will argue over who scans each item. They will lean on the scale and move the bag and take 45 minutes to find a barcode. You will, at least once, lose your shit.

The trick is to enable each child to scan the same number of items and touch the screen the same number of times. If you have 5 or fewer items in your basket, you should be sweet. Less than 15, it will be as outlined above. If you have a trolley and children, join the other queue and let the professionals handle it. Trust me.

How do you feel about self-service? Do you start to sweat when you reach the checkout at Aldi?

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Remembering Our Beloved Pet After One Year

It's been one year since our beloved dog Ricko left us.

It was a terribly sad day for everyone. He'd been part of our family for about 12 years and was always happy to just be.
When Mr 9 was Mr 2, with Ricko

Ricko was a tri-colour King Charles Cavalier. He had that soft, silky fur that kids can't keep their hands off. He was effeminate. He didn't particularly like to get his feet wet.

He loved to bask in the sun with his mouth open, his tongue poking out ever so slightly until he saw you and caught you looking at him. Then the mouth closed firm, until he looked away and let it drop open again. Hours of fun in that.

He was Lucy's best friend. Lucy, the staffie, bossed him around and was often a little rough with Ricko, especially as he got older and the arthritis and blindness kicked in. Ricko knew how to handle her, though.

He would leave the bed or spot they were resting in, take a few steps away and then bark, as though he'd seen something amiss. Lucy would jump to her feet and run to investigate while Ricko silently slipped back into his spot and watched her work. He was brilliant.

Always together

Ricko left Lucy behind and anyone who knows dogs will understand when I say she was sad. She knew her friend was gone and for a while she would wander around, looking, sitting awkwardly as if waiting for him to walk in the room. Her ears pricked up when we mentioned his name. It was heartbreaking.

We still miss him but we make a point of talking about him a lot, laughing at stories about him. We often look at photos of him and we keep a little stone with his name engraved on it in the lounge room.

In the garden, we planted a rose. Ricko's rose. It was a bitch of a plant with uncontrollable growth and deadly thorns, so we replaced it. You've got to be practical, right? It's what he would have wanted.

I'm thinking about Ricko today because Miss 6 brought her English book home from school this afternoon. It's full and she'll need a new one for next term.  Flicking through the pages, I came across a story titled Pets. I nearly spat my tea all over it when I read the last sentence.

My pet used to have a buddy but my dad took him to the vet.


Have you lost a pet and what do you do to remember your fluffy loved one?

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Happy First Birthday to My Blog - What's Happened in a Year?

One today. My, how the time flies.

What's happened in a year besides the whole Glad Wrap debacle?

Well, there are 66 posts on my blog, so I guess I've written a lot more. Word.

I've completed 15 paintings and sold 7.


Novel word-count is 55,000. Not great considering I was at 42,000 a year ago, but hey, growth is growth, right?

The vegie garden is still producing, but husband must take most of the praise for that. I'm more responsible for eating it.

I wrote a 1500 word short story just for the hell of it.

With the help of Dad, two pieces of furniture have enjoyed a coastal makeover.

I've had a surfing lesson and gave up tap dancing.

Wait, is that me or Cameron Diaz???

The dog is still a total bitch. Love her to death though.

The children are, according to their school reports, a year wiser.

I'm a season behind on House of Cards due to this whole bloody Netflix / Foxtel mess and mourning John Snow.

Am in the process of getting my polyp-filled nose fixed and, after less than 2 weeks of medication, I feel like a new person. For real. Radical changes, people, radical changes.

Winter is still the hardest part of the year, but summer is coming.

Can't wait for more of this gear.

I think that sums it up. Thanks for celebrating Blog's First Birthday with me. Don't forget your lolly bag.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Recycling - Do You Know What Goes Where?

It's true: recycling is no longer just for hippies.

In the last twenty years or so, our general approach to recycling has shifted considerably, with an emphasis on reducing waste, reusing what we can and preserving our planet for future generations.

Every household has a yellow bin and most actually use it. Our councils have reduced the size of our regular bins in comparison, gently encouraging our cooperation. Many public places offer recycling bins and children are learning the importance of recycling at school.

Slowly but surely, we are changing, uniting for the greater good. Be proud, humans because it needs to happen.

The sheer volume of recyclable products in the household is astounding and despite my best efforts, there are still items that make their way in error to the regular bin at our place. As head of recycling at Team Turner, my family feel the wrath when I open the bin to find a cardboard or plastic item buried beneath other juicy waste, abandoned, never to know the joy of living again.

No, we're not the best at recycling and mistakes do get made, but we give it a red hot go.
That looks a little painful.

When you consciously think about recycling for a while, eventually it becomes second nature. There's no need to stop and think about which bin the Coke can goes in, or where to put the newspaper. Those ones are obvious.

The problem is the grey area, the items that aren't blatantly obvious.

The little triangle with a number in it is incredibly misleading if you haven't spent an hour or two educating yourself on the topic of recycling.

Surely I wasn't alone when I believed the little triangle with a number in it meant first, an item is recyclable, and second, if it's recyclable, you put it in your yellow-lid bin?

WRONG. The number inside the triangle indicates the type of plastic a container is made from. It's not a green light to chuck it in your recycling bin. The plastic bag that pasta comes in, for example, is recyclable. But not through your yellow bin. This one has to go with other plastic bags into the recycle bin at the front of the supermarket. Apparently.

Right? Got it. That's easy.

Now riddle me this one batman:

OK, so it's already been recycled, that's lovely. Can it be recycled again? I don't know.

They've specifically asked us to dispose of this egg carton responsibly. What does that mean? Don't make a loud noise when you close the lid on the bin? Don't flush it down the toilet?

I don't think it's reasonable to expect the average person who isn't university-qualified in the finer points of recycling, manufacturing and engineering to understand HOW to do the right thing here.

To add a little salt to the wound (that is the gaping wound of feeling like a dick for not knowing which bin to use), councils vary in their guidelines for what they will and will not take. Some will take pizza boxes, some won't and some will only take them if they're not too pizzary. Yes, that's a word now.

The worst thing for me is that I know, despite how much I'm banging on about this right now, I'm going to continue to get it wrong because the rules just aren't clear enough.

I hate the thought of putting something in the regular bin that could have a meaningful existence elsewhere. Conversely, I feel pretty bad knowing I could be accidentally busting some green-machine and costing the council thousands of dollars to get it fixed.

How about you? Do you feel you have a complete handle on recycling? What are your best tips?

Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Conundrum of the Creative Virgo

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. It might be an unexpected change in living arrangements. It could be turning up to work to discover it's your last day. It might be spilling red wine all over yourself at your own wedding.

Or it could be this:

Say whaaaaaat?

I hear you, scratching your heads, brows furrowed, staring at the image. Am I missing something, you ask? Let me explain.

I am a creative kind of girl. I love drawing and painting and pictures in general. Opening Pinterest is like cracking open a beer. It's full of promise and overwhelmingly exciting. Sometimes I take a still shot of a scene on the TV just because I like it.

When my kids say "can we make a cake?" I pretend I didn't hear them, buying me some time to come up with a super awesome distraction. "A cake? Pfft. Let's go to Luna Park!"

When the kids say "can you draw with me?" I'm on it in a heartbeat. In fact, quite often they've moved on and I'm still colouring in the sky. It's a similar feeling to finding yourself sitting alone on the lounge watching Adventure Time. You're not having a bad time, you just wouldn't wittingly make this choice.

On top of the creativity, I am also a Virgo. Virgo's love order and organisation. Amongst many other wonderful traits, we Virgos love things to match. For this reason, we are often the butt of our non-Virgo friends' jokes. We accept that.

So back to the textas. These fabulous Faber-Castell Connector Pens aren't like normal markers. They are Colour Changers. You can draw something in yellow, then go over it with the special white pen and it will change to red.

Funky right? There's blue that changes to yellow, brown that changes to green and black changing to purple. It's the lid that indicates the colour it will change to as you can see in this pic:

It's creative heaven. And it's a Virgo's nightmare. That, friends, is the conundrum. Many of you may shake your heads in disbelief but I am certain that some of you will completely understand how hard it is to NOT put the yellow lid on the yellow pen. So very, very hard.

When these colourful babies joined our household, it changed my life. Well not really, but it certainly made me think twice when the kids asked me to draw with them. I was all yes-no-yes-no with the children, jumping around all antsy-in-my-pantsy trying to settle the excitement and calm the twitch at the same time. Thank God red wine came out of the red wine bottle, that's all I can say.

Go ahead, Sagittarius, mock me, mock us all. We creative Virgos don't care. And when you're done, you'll find us happily humming away, arranging our wardrobes by colour. That's how we roll.

Is there something in your life that makes you twitch?

Sunday, 24 May 2015

One Marketing Promise Regularly Letting Us Down

Cheese. I love it. Next to potatoes, it's the ultimate. ON potatoes it's even better. Although  potatoes   are my all-time favourite - in any format - it's much easier to go without them than it is to go without cheese. This is based purely on convenience - it's a lot easier to grab a chunk of cheese from the fridge than to cook a potato. Word.

I  buy a lot of cheese and I buy it often. I'm not talking about fancy-pants blocks for platters (although I could live on those if the body would be kind enough to allow it). I'm talking sliced cheese, Parmesan, grated cheese (tasty, cheddar or sometimes pizza mix) and, usually when it's on special, big-arse blocks of tasty.

It's hard to be brand loyal when your financial situation can be likened to a steaming pile of puppy poo so I usually buy which ever brand is cheapest at the time.

And when brands are priced the same? How do I choose then? Why, the packaging of course.

Packaging. My jaw clenches just thinking about it. Little hairs rise on the back of my neck. Despite the cold, my cheeks burn with fury driven by one overused marketing promise:

Resealable? Pigs arse.

Can you see that? The strip inside the bag which, if the packet is to be believed, should seal both sides together, is planted firmly against one side of the packet only. The little male and female strips are working perfectly, sealed tightly together, snug and comfortable, totally oblivious to the gaping freakin' hole next to them.

This bag is therefore NOT resealable.  Sure, it comes with a promise. It even comes with the necessary equipment to BE resealable. But it's not resealable. It's just not.

You know how I feel about the labelling of shampoo and conditioner. You might recall my struggle with the tomato sauce bottle and I think we all want to bury the great Glad Wrap disaster of 2014.

Mankind is remarkable. We send rockets into space.  We replace faulty human hearts with viable working ones from a human who no longer needs it.  We can grow ears on mice. One of us even wrote Game of Thrones for God's sake!

Please. Please. Can we just try a little harder to get the basics right?

Have you been caught?

Thursday, 21 May 2015

This Old Cabinet Gets a Gorgeous Coastal Makeover

Back in January, I showed you my coffee-table makeover success story. To be fair, it was my dad   who did the work, sanding, painting, varnishing to achieve a lovely coastal look:

It brightened up the lounge room, creating the impression our furniture had been chosen and not just randomly acquired.  Of course it's beauty is hidden most of the time under a pile of kid's drawings, toys, textas with ill-matched lids and the occasional coat hanger, but you can't have everything, right?

Happy with the result, Dad stepped up again and agreed to take on another piece of furniture, this time a small cabinet:

Stain and wax had previously been used on the cabinet and Dad really had a hard time sanding back the top,  particularly in the grooves on the edges.

Luckily, the chalk paint went onto the cabinet without  any need to sand it - by far the biggest benefit of this paint.

We applied the white chalk paint to the bulk of the cabinet, leaving the top in it's natural wood state. I rubbed back the chalk paint in some areas to give a  distressed look. Dad then applied a gloss varnish over the whole piece.

The varnish was a little tricky. We actually did this back in January. Dad was pressed for time, it was extremely humid and the result wasn't great. We also applied the varnish with a brush which caused some dripping and pooling.

So on a more recent stay, Dad gave it all a sand and repainted it. I rubbed it back again and we then reapplied the varnish. This time it was cold and wet, so it still had trouble drying but I think that was better than the humidity. We used a foam pad to apply the varnish this time  and I really recommend that tool if you're having a crack at something similar. This is the final result:

I'd like to replace the handles with some coloured ones, probably blue, but that will be one day when I get around to it.

I'm considering tackling the dining table next and maybe the chest of drawers in my bedroom. I wonder when Dad's coming to visit again?

So what do you think? Are you a fan of this look?

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Tomato Sauce Bottle That's Destroying My Life

I remember being told that adding tomato sauce to a meal is the ultimate insult.

Lucky I'm not precious about my culinary skills because my kids (and often my husband) absolutely coat my cooking in the stuff. Granted "my cooking" is often 2 Minute Noodles or chicken nuggets, but still.

Even when I do surprise us all with an actual meal - and it does happen occasionally - that tomato sauce gets slapped all over it as if it were a mere hot dog.

Delicious Chicken and Vegie Pie. Apparently, it's only edible with sauce.

Mr 9 and Miss 6, like most kids, love to be independent. I do my best to encourage it, even if it's sometimes through gritted teeth as I know it will result in me having to do MORE stuff. You know what I mean.

One of those simple things is letting them put the tomato sauce on their own plates.

Sounds reasonable?

Well it bloody well should be. But do you think these poor sauce-addicted offspring can open the pouring spout on the bottle?

Hell no. Of course not. They can remove the entire spout / lid thingy, but not open the spout itself.

See, the sauce makes the lid sticky on the inside. So when you turn the top cone shaped section, it turns the entire lid. Little hands combined with still-developing skills in logic results in frustration and further dependence on parents. I'm busy shoving food into my own gob. I don't want to stop to open the bloody sauce bottle.

Sounds a little dramatic? Maybe. But hells-bells it shits me.

You need to hold the base of the lid and twist the cone-shaped part in order to make it work. I feel we could do better in 2015, but maybe it's just me.

I get that the lid works better if it's clean and yes, I do, from time to time, wash it. Which frankly fuels my hatred because, I don't know about you, but I have enough things to clean without having to wash this bloody thing.

I'm no engineer and perhaps this suggestion would bring a whole new problem that I haven't thought of but couldn't those two parts turn in opposite directions? Or couldn't the cone part lift up? Just an idea.

Guys, you rallied in support last week at my shampoo / conditioner font size issue and for that I am forever grateful. Now please, PLEASE tell me I'm not alone with this one?

Does this bottle shit you up the wall? 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Single Most Annoying Thing About Washing Hair

There's nothing  more punishing on a Monday morning than having to wash your hair.

On top of dealing with Monday blues, grumpy kids, making lunches, packing bags and God forbid, a trip to the shops, the regret of not washing my hair on Sunday is nearly crippling. Why, oh why do I continue to make bad choices?

I could have washed it last night, let it dry naturally and then spent a mere ten minutes straightening the shit out of it before going to work. But no, I didn't bother.

So now I  have to wash it, knowing I'll spend the entire time hearing (or at least thinking I'm hearing) the kids fighting and someone knocking at the door and trying desperately to wash all the conditioner out quickly with the shitty water pressure that is my shower. Then I'll have to blow dry it AND straighten it because my fluffy hair can't be seen in public without this process or a ponytail. I'll be damned if I'm going to go through the hassle of washing it to put it in another bloody ponytail. You with me?

Despite the regret and annoyance of my own actions, there's one thing that ticks me off more.


One of these is shampoo. The  other one is conditioner.

If you've ever washed your hair before, you may be aware that it's important to use both. In the right order.

Which one is which? It should be pretty easy to tell, right? I mean, it's important, yeah? I'm a girl, I should know intuitively, shouldn't I?

NO! I don't know which is which. I have to read them. I have to read the ENTIRE label every time because how freaking hard is it to find the one word on each bottle that you need?

When the clock's ticking, the hot water's running out and the dog is scratching at the door to come in (because she just loves me..naw..) the last thing I want to do is read the entire bloody label just to find out if I'm holding the right bottle. I don't care if it's hydrating or colour friendly or contains more passion fruit than a pavlova. I just want to know if it's bloody shampoo or conditioner.

Big bloody letters. That's all I'm asking for.

Now this is not a dig at Herbal Essences. When it comes to hair products, I have zero brand loyalty. This means I have real experience with this aggravating issue and I am very comfortable pointing the finger at nearly every supermarket brand of hair care.

I must stress it's supermarket brand as that's all I buy. Maybe if I paid $30 a bottle I wouldn't have this additional stress in my life? Rest assured when my lotto numbers come up I'll be at the nearest spa measuring the size of the font on their bottles.

Until then, I beg you, hair care peeps. Stop with the 6 point font for the most important word on the bottle. Please.

Does this shit you up the wall? Does spending more on hair care buy you a bigger label?

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Back to School Fail. Again.

The kids went back to school on Monday. Just.

There were no winter uniforms prepared. Why would there be? My kids are notorious for not wanting to wear shirts, let alone jumpers and on Saturday, we got sunburnt watching Mr 9 play footy for an hour.

Winter uniforms were not even considered.

Until Monday morning when we woke up to torrential rain, near-cyclonic winds and temperatures forgotten since last year.

Miss 6 wanted to wear her long pants. A fair request.

Except that Miss 6 appears to have grown 6cm since she last wore these pants. Request denied. I waved it off, promising to fix the pants as soon as possible (a lie, I don't sew) and reassuring her with "You'll be right, sweetie,  it's always too warm in the classroom." *fake smile, convincing nod.

Somehow over the 2 week school holiday I'd completely forgotten my commitment to being more organised. If it was only about the uniforms, I wouldn't be so hard on myself (or on my husband - he's the parent too). But it was about so much more than the uniforms.

We woke Monday morning to a shit-storm in the kitchen. The previous night's cleanup didn't really exist. We had not prepared kid's lunches and we were lacking key ingredients. The kids were grumpy about returning to school and were uncooperative as a result. Even the bloody dog was high maintenance.

When it came time to pack their bags, I realised they hadn't been responsibly dealt with at the end of last term. I found food containers, notes and items belonging to someone else's children because, quite clearly, 2 weeks isn't long enough to empty a freakin' bag.

I want so desperately to tell you that we  learnt a lot on Monday morning, but unfortunately, we didn't. On Tuesday morning, we woke to worse weather, pants that still don't fit and insufficient ingredients to prepare lunch boxes. Their raincoats spent the day at home on the back of chairs. Dry chairs, I should add.

Husband got to enjoy a 7am trip to the shops (in the pouring rain) just so we could feed our freezing children at school. They might be cold, but I'll be damned if I'll let them starve too.

To be fair, it wasn't possible to do anything on Monday night because Game of Thrones was on. You understand.

Perhaps I did learn something however because last night, I took measures to ensure this morning didn't go quite as pear-shaped. I made lunches, I prepared breakfast (sandwiches that simply got toasted this morning - you know how I feel about toasties!) and organised today's uniforms.


Despite wretched weather yet again (and still grumpy children), this morning was seamless in comparison. Breakfast went smoothly, bags were packed with all appropriate gear and we had time to cuddle on the lounge together for five minutes. Feel free to place your Mother of the Year vote for me whenever you're ready.

It may not have been the best start to a term, but at least we got our kids back to school on the right day. That's something.

How's your week been?

Monday, 13 April 2015

3 Reasons You Do NOT Want to Lose Your Sense of Smell

Mid-way through a 12 hour flight you're woken from your light sleep. It's not the flight attendant offering you another meal. It's not a the guy next to you trying to climb past. And it certainly isn't the turbulence.

It's the flatulence. The stench of another passenger who thought they could drop one mid-air and get away with it has infiltrated your nostrils, bringing you back to reality which has now become a sensory nightmare.

Whoever smelt it, dealt it.
Humans stink, particularly when confined to a small space with 300 other stinkers. As the smeller, we could argue that each gas-bomb should be detonated in the aircraft lavatory, at least attempting to keep it all civil.

As the smellee, however, we eventually resign ourselves to the fact that it's natural, reasoning it has to happen and if planned well, no one will ever know it was you.

Imagine a flight where you couldn't smell a thing. Imagine being completely unaware of the rotten-egg or wet-dog odour your fellow passengers were trying desperately not to inhale, subtly burying their faces in their scarves or sleeves, counting the seconds till it passes.

Well I'm living that dream, people!

Yep, that's right, can't smell a thing. NOT A SINGLE THING.

Sounds heavenly, right? There's no mad nagging to take the rubbish out in my house. Haven't washed the dog? Who cares?! Have to use the toilet but someone's just been in there? No problem, if I can accept the slightly warm seat it's business as usual.

It's not all roses, however. There are several rather important drawbacks to nostril failure and quite frankly, they stink:

1) Is this food off?

There have been four, maybe five occasions in the last couple of years where I've opened a packet of chicken mince bought at the supermarket to discover it had turned. It looked OK, but it smelt horrendous. Is it OK to eat off chicken?


Not even a little bit OK. It's severely NOT OK to feed your family rotten chicken. But without the trusty schnozz, it's a real risk in my life and it was only a month or two ago that Miss 6 saved us all with her supersonic snout, noticing the odour just seconds before I slapped the foul foul into the frying pan. Miss 6, a tops chick.

2) Do I need a shower?

Is it possible that I've been the stinky person at work, forgetting to deodorise and completely oblivious to a bad onion smell that's driving my colleagues away? No, I'm going to go with no....but.... am I?

3) There's no chocolate in my chocolate

With reduced smell comes reduced taste. Logically, one would therefore live on spinach chips and a matchbox-sized piece of boiled chicken, snacking on lettuce when the kids have gone to bed.

Sadly, my inability to taste food has in no way stopped me from eating it. I have consumed just as much chocolate and crap of late with comparatively no enjoyment as I did last year when I could taste the difference between a pink Skittle and a red Skittle with 100% accuracy.

Now I'm just adding fat for purely mental reasons. Comforting.

So next time your dog drops a silent but deadly while you're watching Game of Thrones, resist the temptation to kick your wannabe dire wolf in the blurter and be thankful that you know you are clean, you did not poison your children and the Toblerone you're about to consume will bring you actual joy, not just imagined joy.

If you're wondering why I can't smell anything, well, honestly, so am I. I'm off to the specialist in June to see if I can't get this snorkel back in action.

Until then, smell ya later.

If you could pick any nose, who's would it be?