Wednesday, 31 August 2011

More Food...

I made a few things the other weekend.

Friday night Pasta Bake
(You can make this while talking on the phone to your friend – I did!)
Pasta Bake

Fry off a couple of sliced chorizo sausages and then some chopped skinless chicken thighs. Pop on some pasta – shells or tubes or whatever you have in the cupboard but probably not spaghetti! Put some chopped onion and garlic in pan you were frying in and soften. Add a bottle or two of tomato sauce and/or canned chopped tomatoes. Mix everything together. I also added some cooked broccoli as it was in the fridge and if you add some vegetables, surely it’s a complete meal??

Whack it all in a baking dish, smother with cheese and bake for half an hour or so until cheese is melted and the kids are so hungry you can’t put them off any longer.

Pumpkin Soup

This is so easy and versatile. I chopped up 3 onions and softened them in a big pot with butter and some crushed garlic. Peel and chop a small Kent pumpkin. (I save all the pumpkin seeds and bake them in the oven – not only are they yum but by sparing them from the compost, you don’t get those random pumpkin plants popping up all over the place where you’ve spread it around the garden. Win win!) Chop some new potatoes – don’t bother peeling them – and toss them in the pot. Add enough chicken stock and water to cover and bring to the boil. Simmer until veggies are soft and then bamix or blend the hell out of it until smooth.

When serving, you can have it plain, or I like piles of freshly grated ginger. Kids tend like a bit of sour cream or Greek yoghurt, but you could also add a splash of sweet chili sauce, coriander, grated nutmeg or anything else you might fancy.


Chop a bunch of rhubarb into 2cm pieces. I cut them on an angle – no idea why – force of habit. Put it in a microwave-proof dish. Check the fruit bowl for apples and pears that everyone is avoiding. Peel and chop and throw in too. They’re not essential – they don’t add or detract – but it uses them up. Add the grated skin of an orange. (I hate grating but it’s worth it.) Squeeze the juice in too. Add a couple of cinnamon sticks, heaps of brown sugar and grated nutmeg (always better to grate your own – but not essential if you can’t be bothered. You could also use ground cinnamon as well if you don’t have sticks, or even mixed spice if that’s what’s in the cupboard.)
Cover with Gladwrap. My microwave has cooking sensor, so I just put it on ‘Fruit’ and it cooks it.

It’s so delicious I confess I have had it with plain no-fat yoghurt for dinner.


2, Yes, it looks like sand and sticks..

3, More delicious than it looks - promise!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Rewarding Bad Behaviour

I’d be as guilty as the nest mother for rewarding bad behaviour. You’re tired, run down and the kids go on and on and on, and on occasion, you cave. I know it’s wrong. I know it flies in the face of my mantra “I am the mother. I will win” but sometimes my strength is drained and they do get to buy their lunch, eat pizza for breakfast and stay up later than they should on a school night.

But this weekend, I took rewarding bad behaviour to a whole new level – my partner.

I was so mad that he had not gotten around to so many jobs around the house that I took matters into my own hands.

Months ago I’d had some vague notion to paint the hallway dark green. It wasn’t going to work so the test patches needed to be painted out to white. He said he liked them. Gave the impression of something happening. Ahhhhh!!! He also said there’s no point because the loo in the kids’ bathroom backs onto the hall and he needs to cut a hole in the wall to adjust something in the cistern. It’ll just have to be painted again. So when did he think that would be happening? No time soon apparently. (I have mentioned he’s a plumber and builder, haven’t I?)

After a couple of choice words from me (yes, not in front of the children!) I marched down to the shed, grabbed some paint and started. Now despite working on what’s probably the world’s most famous paint brand, I’ve never really painted before. But I did! It’s a bit rough (it will need to be re-done when that cistern is attended to) but the green is gone and it does look a hell of a lot better. He even had the decency to comment that it looked good!

Now I was on a roll. I replaced the toilet seat in the kids’ bathroom that’s been hanging around all year, I fixed George’s (our oldest) all-terrain stroller that was damaged on the trip to Africa, I glued a few things that needed gluing (I think I may even have super glued the vacuum cleaner closed forever…whoops! No confessions just yet.)

So I ended up feeling quite smug and capable. But the more I think about it, the more I’m kicking myself… am I now going to have to do all the jobs myself - forever? Have I shown myself to be too capable? Am I an idiot for even opening up that Pandora’s Box? They do say righteousness is its own punishment.

What do you think?

Sunday, 21 August 2011


Have you ever found yourself screaming at the kids to stop shouting?? Only to realise you are now shouting?

I had dinner on Friday night with some mums I’ve know for 16 years. We laughed so hard I came home with a sore stomach.

It was reassuring to know that one of them, Julie, has also screamed at her kids so hard her throat has sustained injury. I have gone to work on more than one occasion with a throat that feels like I’ve just swallowed razor blades – not from a savage bacterial infection, but from hysterically yelling at the kids that I’m fed up, have had enough, am at my wits end, etc, etc – you know how it goes. (Don’t you??)

I admit, it is not a lovely start to the day. I’ve also pointed this out to the inciters/victims of my yelling. Maybe if they got up earlier, got themselves more organized, just got going in the morning, we’d all have a better start to the day. It’s exhausting. I’ve even asked them for their suggestions on how to avoid the morning chaos, but to no avail. It’s all promises, but no follow through. And the next morning we’re back to me, standing on the nature-strip and screaming like a banshee “Which part of ‘get in the car’ are you not understanding???!!”

Lord knows what the neighbours think.

So how are the mornings at your place? A relaxed and calm routine of serenity? Give me your tips, please!

Friday, 19 August 2011


Last Saturday I got up at 3.30am to take the 12 year old and my 15 year old “nephew” (one of the relatives-who’s-not-related) skiing for the day. It was a 3 ½ hour winding drive in the dark and fog, but was well worth it when we arrived in brilliant sunshine.

I’d not been to Mt Buller for many years – since the friends we used to go with so rudely moved to the UK for 5 years (yes Penny, I’m talking about you!) When the kids were little, we had seven very happy consecutive years when we went for a week with a whole pile of families.

It turned out to be quite do-able for a day and next time I’ll even take the little one and pop her into ski school for the day.

I put the 12 year old into a lesson, as she hadn’t skied since the shopping mall in Dubai at Christmas – and that’s not quite the same thing. My nephew and I are pretty well matched so managed to get in some good runs before collecting her. In my usual gentle mothering style, I then insisted she just come with us and promised we wouldn’t do any black runs, just blue.
“It looks really steep!” she moaned.
“Oh for god’s sake you’ll be fine! Just get on the lift,” I said in my short tone used on the kids when they're being wimpy.
And of course she was fine, keeping up with a thigh-burning snow plough!

When we got home, the little one said, ‘How was the skiing? Was it inside or outside?’ Yes, she too was last at the Dubai mall……

Monday, 15 August 2011

The Ballet

I took Jazzy to a few modern ballets and she seemed to really enjoy them. We saw some extremely creative performances including a beautiful, traditionally dressed ballerina dancing to the sound and backdrop of a freeway at night, some to U2 and Lenny Kravitz and dancers squirting water from bottles and their mouths over plastic sheeting before artfully sliding across it in time with the music.

About a moth ago, the next daughter and I went to see The Netherlands Dans Theatre.  It’s well worth checking out the link - they are breathtaking. The concepts tare hought provoking – like a dance with teams and puppets and a woman softly reciting:
This is you,
This is your face,
This is your hand,
This is your back,
This is you – reaching back….
It struck me that this was all about trying to get back to the past – but regardless, it was provocative and beautiful. And their ability to integrate the background footage to the actual dance on stage was startling. I really can’t speak more highly of this performance.

So when I got the email from The Art Centre offering reduced price tickets for Ballet Revolucion (surprisingly, that’s NOT a typo!) – direct from Cuba. I snapped up a couple and took my friend Dawn, our suggogate grandmother and one of our wonderful relatives who’s not related.

And what a disappointment! I realise now how lucky I’ve been with my previous selections. This was like a high school rock eisteddfod. There were 16 dances and for some reason they felt – like school children – that they should all be on stage together for most of the time, which would have been fine if they could all keep together. In fact, it took me a while to try and work out if their lack of precision was deliberate – I don’t think it was. The music and their efforts were highly energetic and they all looked like they were having fun – but it was just modern dance to modern music. It could have been ‘Cuba’s Got Talent.’

Next time the tickets are reduced, I should know there may be a very good reason….

Friday, 12 August 2011

Liar, liar...

Last night I was running late for a dinner. I arrived in the precinct and couldn't find a car park for the van anywhere. So I abused my disabled car parking permit. Which I do try not to, as when I do have my son and his wheelchair on board, I find it infuriating when I can't get on. But deperate times call for desperate measure - or something like that.

As I left the car, there were a couple of young guys buying their parking ticket.

"You know that's a disabled car spot," one called to me.
"Yeah, I've got a permit. Bad heart,"  I said, patting my left hand on my chest for the desired effect.

Bad heart all right. What a lie!!!I shocked myself at how easily that slipped out.

Anyway, must dash... off to have a ct coronary angiogram...yes, really!

Thursday, 11 August 2011


We had friends over for lunch the other Sunday – the ones we went to Africa with. It turned out to be an unusually warm day so we sat in the sun on the back deck eating – lasagna. Had I known it was going to be so warm, we could have barbequed, but such is Melbourne’s weather.

Here’s my usually vague recipe. I make it in a roasting pan so it feed the 10 of us easily and lasted a bit for the week. If there’s too much meat sauce, just pop it in the fridge and use with pasta for another meal. And it freezes well too.

Meat sauce:
I bought 2 trays of prime 5-star mince, 1 tray of pork mince and one of cheap 3 star mince. (There is method in this madness – the pork makes it all a bit softer and the cheap-shot makes it juicy).
Brown a couple of onions, some shallots and a heap of crushed garlic. Put into a big pot with a heavy base. Brown meat in small batches – so it fries and doesn’t stew. If the meat's releasing a lot of water, there’s too much meat, the pan has cooled and it’s now stewing!!! Toss in the big pot. Add a couple of cans of organic canned tomatoes, some organic tomato sugo (sauce), some mixed herbs, some extra oregano, a couple of bay leaves, a heap of cracked black pepper (it sweetens with cooking) and about half a bottle of red wine of a drinking quality. Add a bit of water if needed to ensure meat is covered. Bring to a simmer and leave on the stove simmering over a low heat for hours. Stir occasionally. Add more water - or wine - if you haven't drunk it yet! - as needed. It should end up quite thick though.

White sauce:
The trick here is to use self-raising flour. Just makes the sauce lighter. Melt some butter, add the same quantity of flour (ie same amount of butter and flour), cook over the heat until the butter melts and combines with the flour. Cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in cold milk. There shouldn’t be any lumps. Stir with a wooden spoon over the heat until it comes to the boil. Allow to simmer – keep stirring! – for a couple of minutes.  It ensures the flour is all cooked and you don’t get that ‘raw flour’ taste. You can add more milk if it's too thick. You can also slug in cream or whisk in an egg - if you like it really rich. Egg also gives it a bit more 'lift'. Add some sea salt, heaps of grated nutmeg and pepper if you like. You can add cheese too – grated – any will do. (Don’t boil it again after adding cheese. It doesn’t like that.)

Layer up with instant pasta sheets. Yes, I reckon they’re just fine! You can sprinkle some grated cheese in between too if your cholesterol is under control. Otherwise, save it for the top layer!

Shove it in the oven and cook until cooked (check the pasta packet…)


PS Penny the proof reader is still away….sorry.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Stock Market

This morning, I asked my partner if he had any money in the stock market given the roller coaster day it had had the day before.
'Yes,' he answered.
'How much?' I asked.
'Less than we had.'

Oh dear.

PS My proof reader Penny is away .... Sorry in advance. MWWx

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Wax fact or fiction?

Further to the last waxing post, I was reminded of a story so bizarre, I really question its authenticity. As all such stories begin, the teller assured me she knew someone who knew the husband of the woman involved – and he works in advertising. (I work in advertising but it doesn’t mean my bullshit detector has been completely disabled.)

Anyhow, this woman had her period and a waxing appointment....

Actually, that was another discussion at work; should you cancel an appointment if you have your period? Some women are adamant that it’s fine if you have your period, others are equally adamant that it’s so NOT fine.

Back to the woman….so the waxer gets wax on her tampon string by mistake and doesn’t notice until she whisks the strip off – ripping the tampon out with it - POP!!! Without missing a beat, the waxer says to the mortified woman, ‘Well, I don’t suppose you’ll be wanting that back,” and flings it into the bin with the rest of the wax.

So, two questions for you this time:  
       1.  The story; fact or crap?     
       2.  Should you be getting a wax while you have your period? Yes or no. And if yes, please explain what on earth you do with the string??

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Waxing Menu

We were discussing waxing at work on Friday. A heavily pregnant friend had dropped by on her way to her appointment.
“What do all those Xs mean?” bemoaned a colleague. “They need pictures.”
“It should be like a take away menu, so you order by number,” suggested another.
“Especially as we’re all in open plan,” I pointed out.

We got onto the subject of the accidental ‘all off.’

I told them about the memorable occasion when my daughters were with me for a said waxing appointment. They had gotten a drink before hanging out in the waiting room – equipped with toys and books. I could hear them over the partition as the little one was yelling ‘Mum! Which one are you in?’
“I’m here sweetie,: I called back.
“Can I come in?” she yelled for all to hear.
“She can,” encouraged the waxer, as I lay there, pantless, legs akimbo and her digging about my nether regions.
“You’ve got to be joking,” I replied, “I’ll never be able to afford the therapy.”
“No. You can’t come in. I’ll just be a minute.”

And a few minutes later….
“There you go, all done.”
I looked down. OMG. All done all right!
“Oh? Isn’t that what you usually have?” No. It is not!! But you can hardly put it back can you??

I got a text later on Friday from my pregnant friend: OMG it just happened to me! My baby better not come early and see this :(
MWW: Perhaps you need to reconsider Vagazzling?? A bit of bling at birth??

Have you ever had the accidental all off?? Come on.... I've told you about mine!!

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...