Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kitchen in Paradise

I contemplated this when I read of Ree at My Life as a Hotfessional's Household demolition Improvements last week.

I gathered impetus when Kate at Picklebums posted her kitchen in response to a dare by someone I don't even know (called Rhubarb Rhubarb - as opposed to Rhubarb Whine). Is it rude to steal an idea on the blogosphere if you have never stumbled upon them before?

Of course it isn't.

It also assuages the guilt I feel for not yet following through with the pictures of the desecration calculated remodelling improvements to our backyard for a myriad of different reasons.

So now, to allow you all to feel better about yourselves, here in its unvarnished wonder, I give you - KITCHEN IN PARADISE...

Shall we begin at the back door - or rather, the main entrance to the house, because this is always the way we come up and in.

So the first thing you see is the fridge, the freezer, the water filter and the fruit bowl.

The water filter is magnificent and has saved us a dowry in not buying bottled water because the local tap water - horrid.

It has taken two years to acclimatise to having it in tea and coffee, and if weren't for the whole darned monthly thorough cleanse and daily refill it required, this water filter would be considered family.

What you don't see is the stockpot awaiting some real muscle to get the burned cabbage off the bottom. Its okay - we keep missing it too.

Now the sink - this is where I try to put on my best "om" when I emulate the latest in dishwashing gadgets. Of course, I often fail, but I think one day I will perfect the serene spiritualness required to wash up in an aura - either that or get a dishwasher. We are contemplating training 'Salina up for the role.

The bit that really trips me up the most is that whole concept that it is a four-step task - I rarely clear the old "dry and put away in a timely fashion" hurdle, and that is what I lay the blame on for not having the whole karmic kitchen experience.

We like to joke around that this is a bench. I know, we love to laugh.

But honestly - this particular piece of real estate is a much sought after commodity in this part of Paradise.

Sure, its yellow. But really, when combined with the chin height cupboards, the toaster, the kettle, the coffee machine and - on an inspired day - the toaster-grill, you have to raffle every square centimetre.

Oh - and can you see that beautiful ceramic bench stove disappearing to the right of the photo. My pride and joy - especially joyous when it replaced the previous version (for the full story of that, you will have to travel to Winter last year).

In fact, if you clicked that last link, you would know why it is there is something missing from this shot.

In fact, household renovations are up there with the discussions on organisational strategy for the wedding - I could either build up a little blood pressure and try to talk it out with my beloved OR I could accept the many benefits of such an arrangement (Well, actually, not really - apologies to V) smile at the beauty of not having to fight like a navvy to open that darned cupboard as much as every other cupboard in this kitchen requires. Apparently someone though "living by the beach" equated to "cabin catches" for all kitchen doors. Great for the abs.

Oh - by the way - this is the good bench for preparation, with only the microwave and knife block as full tenants. The food processor, the hand beaters (oh how I love thee), all chopping and decorating take place here!

Technically, this is not within the kitchen, but our stash of presents are yet to find their final homes. It has only been a fortnight, after all.

The problem with looking at all these goodies and thinking about where they should dwell is it leads into discussion about which wall we have to knock out, how to most efficiently take away valuable cupboard space to alleviate some of the stress with kitchen preparation (especially from "the best kitchen hand in the world" - a self-bestowed but not that far of the mark title) and where to put the electrical outlets.

But this is what makes it all worthwhile (well, except for the fantastic food that comes forth, if I do say so myself) - no, not the compost awaiting emptying nor the recycling bin, but the light - no longer tinted red, I realise, but still - Paradise just out of the window.

So come on - give us your kitchen in all its glory - and the only rule is you are not to specially tidy just for the shots.

And I have just realised - those curtains HAVE TO GO.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday night all right

Last night was a very rare occurence in the night the life of Jeanie chronicles.

Last night I left the house - and not only did I leave the house, but I left behind 'Salina and V and set off unescorted all the way to the local pub.

Oh yes, big party animal that I am, I met with all the other tuckshop volunteers for a wild girl's night out.

Big party animal that I am, I drove - because I figured that even if I got smashed I could take my life and the lives of unwitting pedestrians into my inebriated hands and lurch home in my green pride and joy without getting breathylised I could stagger the 3 blocks home, even if the gale force winds were against me. V did offer to rouse the sleeping child and come get me if the situation required.

I was also fairly secure in the knowledge that however exhilerating the company I wouldn't get too plastered, because these days I just don't do plastered.

I never was much of a plasterer anyhow - whenever that status was achieved it was very messy and painful - and I derive greater pleasure from good company and conversation than I do from feeling out of control.

My body assists me in the pursuit of non-plastered status also, as it has a habit of bringing forth the hangover before the plastering is fully achieved, so it is not a goal on my horizon.

Anyway, I toodled down the road to the local to meet with the tuckshop ladies.

I did imbibe - I discovered that it takes 2 hours to imbibe 2 tall vodka, lime and sodas, and the effect of it is quite enough for me.

I also ate - yes indeed, food not cooked at home, a novelty indeed.

A novelty in a "gee, its okay but I would have left the sauce more chunky to bring out the full character of the olives, capers and anchovies a little more rather than give the impression that tomato is what you were ordering, why do they garnish with an indifferent triple-curled parsley clump rather than put an effort into the whole presentation and use a little creativity (like maybe an olive, a caper an anchovy - and heck, continental parsley), why do chips have to come with everything and take up so much of the real estate on the plate, do you call that a salad bar and what else could I have spent that $20 on" sort of way.

Yes, shut up, internal Gordon Ramsay. (The internal food critic - I don't have any other internal GR leanings - well, okay, I probably swear more inside too. But that is it.)

The conversation did range considerably, especially considering our posse was made up of the quiet achiever neighbour of the convenor (handy for functions and cleaning), a couple of raucous party girls (who fire up the tuckshop every second Wednesday), the convenor and me.

Apparently the common denominators for such a fivesome to connect in terms of conversation starts with parenting, children, children hitting puberty, how we hit puberty, how our parent hit us handling handled us hitting (freudian slip there) puberty - and sort of degenerated from there into realms not covered in this blog.

We were given gifts by the convenor. Considering the complete lack of fiscal support by the P & C for such a gathering, her choices of gift were token but very well thought and meaningful. I got a jumbo pack of lifesavers and angel earrings.

It was then decided to go into the public bar where the pool tables were for a game. Where the two pool tables were. Where the two pool tables were - one with skinny, ever-so-slightly post-pubescent youths gathered and impressing each other, the other with skinny, time-, sun- and spirit-cured regulars.

We put a coin on each table and waited patiently for our turn.

It was impossible to get a drink, as the two behind the bar were busy handling the TAB.

It didn't smell like the pubs of my youth - instead of the reek of stale beer and cigarette smoke, there was a lone reek of stale beer. I wonder if they banned beer from pubs would they at last smell tolerable?

It was impossible to chat, as there was some loud noise which I would like to call music pumping - but it was so loud that I actually came away with no discernible impression other than "noise".

The only way to converse was to stand lips to ears of the person you were talking to and say your bit, then it would be repeated back in the reverse position to verify, then the whole dance would be reversed and we would purse our lips and nod in complete accord. Or, if not in complete accord, the decision would have to be made whether to pretend accord or try the whole round again to give a different view.

The table with the more weathered players apparently cleared - but another had put a coin on before our claim and so it was bare and alone.

After a very long ten minutes, we gee'ed each other up to be brave enough to enquire the status of the table. After all, we all have extensive experience in getting swathes of children to stand in one line and say please and thank you - how tough could it be?

The bravest of our number went to the table and asked the nearest character. Quite vehemently she was told that it was impossible for us to fit in a game while they waited for their friends to return from the smoker's balcony. Oooo-kay.

It appears my tolerance level for such behaviour is below my tolerance for children behaving rudely and pushing and shoving for poll position - but rather than shrill at them I contemplated my lot.

I could stay in the bar and wait for a table and wait for a drink and try to have a good time - or I could mosey on home to my beloved and have a conversation at normal pitch on any subject chosen with my best friend where I was guaranteed to enjoy myself, the company and maybe even a wine or two left over from the wedding.

Hmmm - tough decision there.

Ah yes, the last of the party animals, that is me.

Am I old?

And is that really such a bad thing?

I did have a great time, despite my jaded description. But man, I am so out of practice and wonder if it is worth my investing in practice when, quite frankly, I have always been one who associates loud music with dancing and all other social engagements with food, conversation and comfort.

Yes, I am old. I prefer to call it "grown up".

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I crashed

I crashed the computer putting together the pictures...

I crashed into many brick walls with work today, so didn't get a chance to revisit the backyard...

I intend to crash early tonight.

I will crush all my work tasks tomorrow - after I have crash-tackled the weekly tuckshop challenge I set myself.

Then there is a breakup for tuckshop volunteers - the four of us may get smashed.

V and 'Salina will have a quiet night in, won't they?

I hate it that I can't give you what I promised, what you want nay what you need from me - follow through.

But I crashed.

And now I think a chardonnay is in order.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Promise yesterday something for tomorrow that, when today hits, proves impossible.

It wasn't that I didn't take the photos - hundreds of the beggars (well, fives anyway).

Then the pear formation began on my day.

First, there was the delight that my new husband would be with me for the day... As exciting a prospect as that was, I had a hooverload of work to do this morning, so I sent him fishing and to hardware stores, and promised him some of my afternoon.

Second, there was the "little requests" from my client that I do love to do - and indeed I did them. However, those little requests knocked my own workload sideways and it threatened to topple if I didn't take something I had on my agenda to get done today into the get done tomorrow pile - which sort of kyboshes my plans to do some much needed clothes shopping - but I had an afternoon promised with V and there are so few of those with the concept of "child-free" attached.

Even so, my "little requests" did stretch into a portion of afternoon, and so all too soon the concepts of "child-free", "afternoon" and "with V" came to a halt.

I did assemble the first series of photos into a nice montage - on the other slower but more photomanipulation friendly computer in 'Salina's room rather than my handy-dandy notebook.

However, my daughter had done some neat homework and was to be rewarded with an afternoon of softball in the backyard.

And we have plans for a barbie.

And I have taken 10 minutes off my salad preparation time to let you all know and beg your forgiveness.

One day, I promise you - one day you will see photos on this blog.

But blog promises, as is life, does not always run true to plans...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today I promise you tomorrow

I know, it is unforgiveable but I have been out of the blog loop since I griped about the weather.

And since I griped about the weather, Paradise has turned on all her charms - hence my hesitation at staying indoors at this keyboard, and with the exception of promises of some shekels tying me down to it for some hours yesterday, I have been enjoying these charms under many pretexts.

On Sunday I weeded and pruned and harvested the vegie beds. You want photos? Ha - I did not think to take any.

Then on Sunday I went to the beach with 'Salina to meet up with cousins and siblings. My sister and SIL took many photos - but again, a vacuum here.

Then on Sunday, we (as in V) dug large holes in the back yard to plant some wedding gifts - and hopefully we will be inundated with limes and mandarines and lemonades in the years to come. (add in your own chorus of "yes, there are no photos").

Yesterday, I actually derived great joy from escaping the computer for stolen moments here and there pegging out the washing. When V and 'Salina were both home, we then took advantage of long Summer hours to work on batting and pitching and catching (and getting to know our neighbours as we fetched the ball back from other backyards).

Last night, right at dinner time, the phone rang. This is not unusual, as it seems certain companies have discovered that I no longer have a silent number and they would love to offer me free phones and better deals - and there is no time like dinner to shower us with these presents.

But this phone call was different. This phone call was from the tree guy.

He will be here today. And so today, before that moment, I will take and make a photo montage of my backyard. And also today, after that moment, I will take and make a photo montage of my backyard.

How exciting - the anticipation of actually getting a picture or two should tide you all (or at least both of you) until tomorrow.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Welcome To Paradise - beautiful one day, howling the next

Many of you noted the time of the banter exchange on yesterday's post and remarked that it seemed a little on the early side.

We do early.

My father would laugh at that concept - he spent my entire childhood encouraging this feature courtesy of a wet washer, although I think it had a more profound effect on my vocabulary.

But here in Paradise, we do early - especially at this time of year.

In conjunction with our feline alarm clock requesting access to the great outdoors, nature does her bit in the wake-up function.

She starts with a gentle heating of the atmosphere as the sun begins its ascent behind the Poinciana.

On good days, Sol peaks through the windows and winds around curtains to tease you with promises including garden delights and swims to cool you down. These are often enough to get a bounce out of bed in joy.

On other days, steam begins to generate. It is hard to find sleep again when you are sweating.

Today, the Northerlies that have been howling through the louvres all night have upped their intensity. It is impossible to cool down with judicious openings of windows or doors.

I have never done well on the sleep-in thing. Once I am awake, I am ON. My mind, which has been lurking in the corners generating dreams stretches it power and starts to churn - things to do, things to plan, things to cringe about in my past - recent and long ago.

As a result, it is a rare 6am that passes without me upright and making my morning cup of tea.

And it is also a very rare 6am that my companion 'Salina is not up, churning, drawing and creating.

V doesn't mind a sleep in. His habits are slightly different. He very rarely sleeps right through, and so may have had up to 6 wanders during the night - as a result, he has an ability to either fire or fall back into bed, dependent on the need for him to be awake. It is a skill I envy.

Monday - Friday, his work starts at 7am on a jobsite - whether that jobsite is 5 minutes or an hour away - and he has a knack for being ready at the moment he is needed to get into the vehicle to go.

However, on a Saturday (as it is here right now) he can sleep through my crashes in the kitchen, 'Salina's giggles of delight at a "brilliant idea", the sticky sweat bath and the howling wind.

Last weekend was the wedding.

The weekend before it was sticky and stormy and howling and uncomfortable.

This weekend it is sticky and stormy and howling and uncomfortable.

Last weekend it was hot and brilliantly sunny and a gentle breeze was cooling.

That is why this is Paradise - just because it is the sort of weather to send a girl mad today, there are many of the brilliant to make up for the discomfort.

Friday, November 21, 2008


"Grapes are like communism." remarks V. "Great in theory, but in the end I always have to throw away more than you guys eat."

Oh yes, this is the logic that works at 6.30 in this house.

Any good similes in your house this morning?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The view from the kitchen

at the moment is the poinsiana.

It casts a red glow across the room when the sunlight hits it right.

Now is the only time I love this tree. In a month's time the rotting flowers will carpet the ground, then the leaves will fall and the twigs are an endless pain in the derriere.

It has not had a lot of love over its life, and the lack of pruning makes it unsuitable for children to climb, gives it sprawl across the neighbours rooves, the lack of planning for neighbours means it lifts their concrete.

My grandmother had a poinsiana right in the middle of her back yard. It was pruned regularly and so perfect for climbing. It probably left as much litter across her lawn, but she had endless patience for the delights her garden gave.

I too want to delight in my garden, but I have not the time for raking, nor the love for reclaiming what the years have wrought, and indeed not the money for making my neighbours happier or safer.

Next week, baby, it is coming down. As is the travelling palm and the pandanus.

We are contemplating new shade options and planting fruit trees. We may well put back some natives - but well away from the borders and the unnecessary divide irksome plants on boundaries can create.

Right now, this poinsiana in all its brilliance has my affection.

I will enjoy it to the end.

Monday, November 17, 2008

For those baying for more...

Hmph. You don't think our repast was worthy enough?

The day before most guests arrived in town. I roped about 6 into drinking champagne and filling bonbonierie bags. 'Salina, V and I went to stay at a local resort and then met about 30 friends for fish and chips near the beach at the town centre.

The day itself was gorgeous, the 75 guests were lovely (although rather hot), only 1 person fainted during the photo shoot, 6 of the 9 tables were relatively well behaved during the feast, the cakes were yummy (I found out for myself at about 9 in the evening), bowls were lots of fun, we got away about 10 minutes after V had reached his threshhold and I believe the party continued for many.

We ate dinner - you already know about that.

Yesterday we packed up and came back home, where Mum was hosting a barbeque for any lingerers, so about 30 people had burgers and salads and birthday cake for my brother. Oh - and the bonbonierie we forgot to hand out the day before!!

Most guests were out of town by 5pm and we opened many wonderful gifts.

I dropped the last guest at the airport this morning and came home to work frantically - all I want to do is sleep!

But you want photos - photos that I do not have. My sister has a few shots up and I have received only a few more.

Here are three of them...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Festival of Jeanie and V

is drawing to a close.

We are exhausted and delighted. Many stories we are still hearing about what really happened.

Huge thanks to so many friends for travelling, and my marvellous family for disaster-management.

There are no photos yet (we failed to take our own camera, and the specially bought camcorder stayed in its box until 9am this morning, when I took 50seconds footage of the view from the balcony at our hideaway). A friend had his far superior skills and camera available and was ordered to film it by his wife who could not attend.

So instead, a recipe.

We snuck away from the reception at about 4pm on Saturday - well as sneaky as going around and saying individual goodbyes to 70 people scattered across a bowling green can be.

After an attempt at a nap and a small mini-drama involving one of our witnesses, an ex-wife, a father-of-the-bride and a found wallet brokered through our mobiles can be, our minds turned towards food.

See, we spent the night (and the night before - but with 'Salina) at a swank resort apartment on the foreshore, with the most excellent kitchen. As our night before had involved fish and chips and 30 friends at the turtle park, we were very keen to test out all the possibilities of our surrounds.

And our surrounds had very cool benches and a Smeg wall oven. Much as we were exhausted, we have experience in creating marvellous food.

Our options were crap take-away, recreating our first date with an undercover outing to the pub (good decision not to - apparently the whole wedding party ended there for dinner), or grabbing one of the cards with cash gifts and getting some ingredients for a feast.

Chicken Enchiladas a 'la Jeanie and V and the Superior Smeg Oven
Mini tortillas (yes, not traditional but given the range of the local IGA)
Taco seasoning
3 chicken breast fillets
Sliced jalopenos - would have normally got fresh for free from our garden, but we cheated and bought a jar pre-sliced
Can of re-fried beans
Sour cream
Grated tasty cheese
Grated mozzarella cheese
Jar of mild salsa

A bit of oil probably wouldn't go astray - we forgot but luckily the pan was non-stick.

Mince chicken and cook in pan. Add taco seasoning, water and some sliced jalopenos and simmer.

Warm refried beans with a little sour cream if you have inferior Australian excuses for refrieds. Whack some sliced jalopenos in there as well, because you can and don't have to consider the palate of a 9 year old girl.

Spread about 1/3 of the salsa around a baking dish - hey, some oil would have been handy here also!

Try to work out how to operate a Smeg oven that has no actual markings on the dials. Think you may work it out from the manual that is helpfully in the bottom drawer. Find out that the only diagram they have failed to include in the 32 page 8 language instructions is the one that tells you how to operate an oven.

Twiddle until you work out something that approximates warming up.

Do not attempt to work out how to change the time. Really. Don't.

Spread tortillas with refried beans mix, put some chicken mix on, top with a little sour cream, roll and put in tray.

Realise you have cheese. Spread tortillas with refried beans mix, put some chicken mix on, top with a little sour cream and grated tasty, roll and put in tray.

Notice avocado out of corner of your eye. Slice and spread tortillas with refried beans mix, put some chicken mix on, add a slice of avocados, top with a little sour cream and grated tasty, roll and put in tray.

Pour rest of salsa sauce over the rolls. Chop tomato and add. Put rest of avocados on top. Sprinkle with grated mozzarella and put into oven.

Find out what has happened to your child not just after the wedding, but interesting antics during the reception that I was completely unaware of. The upshot of it is 'Salina can handle herself well, and sometimes it takes a terrorism expert to deal with ADHD children.

When all melty and yummy,eat with extra sour cream and jalopenos.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thrilling Thursday

You will be pleased to know that I have given my sister and mother a little job to do.

After a day on Tuesday of coincidences
  • my hairdresser came from Golden Bay, the only place I know anything about in NZ because family of a friend moved there
  • her trainee's stepmother is the lady at the bowls club who is organising that end of the deal
  • A girl I know who runs a lawnmowing business with her hubby can come and do the lawn (okay, that wasn't a coincidence but it pays to have all sorts of contacts)
  • V got served in a clothes shop by a friend of the lady at the bowls club
Yesterday was a little less free-flowing.

The money for the chairs and tables hadn't gone through but the cake deal was finalised, my contacts came in and I was able to put a hold on a camcorder.

That's okay - that is what running round like a headless chicken today is designated for - but also lady at the bowls club in now in hospital, but the guy who is standing in for her is as laid back and got the "no worries" attitude.

Until 7 last night - while sitting down to dinner with my sister and mother. A phone call from the chairman of the board at the bowls club wanting exact number, exact timings and the news that the "lady at the bowls club" no longer held that position.

So I have handballed that looming mess to my mother (who was dealing with them anyway about alcohol requirements). She is going to take my sister along for moral support and a bit of backbone (my sister is great at both).

I also gave my sister a task last night of prettying a few things for printing - signs, table lists, orders of service. See, I can let go!!!

Today, I have to organise the printing for them, pay for the cake, pay for the chairs and tables, collect my contact lenses, collect a few Sydney girls from the airport, collect the camcorder, do the groceries, my brother's birthday present, another girl's wedding present, girl-down-the-road's birthday present and gather fripperies for bonbonierie (or however the doggarned things are spelt) - and try to coincide with the mower guy here to pay him. Then there is only softball practice to contend with...

It is all in control. And if it isn't? Well, it will happen. C'est la vie.

Had a bit of a funny thought, though, last night. I am going over to the "other side" with getting married.

I have had relationships and boyfriends on and off over the years - but I have always been an independent single girl - as are many of my friends.

And although V and I have been together and doing the family thing for quite some time now, my technical "solo mum" and "single gal" tags are being traded in for "blended family" and "married woman".

I am not scared about that or anything silly - its just weird...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - in a rather wierd way...

That is my day (and my daughter's spelling list).

I would much prefer this:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday To Do List

  • Wake up oops - an hour later than normal, though!!!
  • Strip spare beds
  • Sort washing
  • Put on the first of four loads of washing
  • unpeg dry clothes
  • Make to-do list
  • Fold dry clothes
  • and put away
  • Put on the second of four loads of washing
  • Breakfast
  • Lunches
  • Make beds
  • Tidy
  • and wash up
  • Finish work project
  • Budget
  • Sort desk and find numbers, vouchers and little bits of paper with notes on
  • Call bakery and chase about cake - wait for call back
  • Call mower guy
  • Call cleaners - wait for call back
  • Get ATM card from V
  • Go to beautician for waxing
  • Hairdresser for colour, cut, foils and looking at books
  • Home to finalise another part of work project
  • Do other three two loads of washing and peg
  • Send email to reception with final numbers and tables
  • Cook beans
  • Take 'Salina to hairdresser
  • Turn to do list into blog

For those in a different time zone, I cheated, and crossed of my last "to do" early - so its all still ahead of me. 6.38 and all systems go here!!

And now it is 8.32 - do you really think the cat needs ringlets?

I think trainees who don't know how to "play with" hair should possibly rethink their future career paths... Just saying...

2.30 and its off to put on another load of washing, do a little work, look at the washing up and piles of folding before 'Salina returns for her hair appointment.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Tale of the Sister-Outlaw and the most unusual present ever given

I do love Sister Outlaw - with every aching muscle in my body.

She and Favourite Cousin arrived after school on Friday. They came bearing gifts and chocolate.

We had coffee. Her eyes surveyed her surrounds. I know she was looking for dirt and grime, checking out the smudges on the windows, counting up the cobwebs on my ceiling.

Its not because she is judging me, which is a mercy because I have had coffee with folk like that and the coffee never tastes as good as it does with the Outlaws.

She was sizing up, planning her attack, assessing the foe and assembling resources in her mind.

The kids played in the back yard while I pegged and she pondered.

"Do you have meths? Scourers? Vacuum? Rags? Bicarb? Disinfectant?" She rattles off the requests.

"Some holiday you are having, SO." I said to her.

"Ah mate, we can have a holiday next time I come to visit. You guys have got a wedding next week. What sort of rags have you got? I only like 100% cotton." She was only 80% joking.

Once she had put together a list of requirements and we had bathed and fed the kids and put up with a few whines and put them into bed, we all relaxed with a few wines.

That is one of the best things about Sister Outlaw. I may never have chosen her as a friend as the odds on our paths meeting without my having met her brother first are astronomical.

However, we did meet and she is the only girl in a family of five kids - and the chances of her two brothers over here finding a stable girlfriend are extremely slim while the brother in Croatia is as dodgy as a goat on goatweed. So I am it - her one shot at a sister.

And even though she lived through my breakup with P. her brother, we all went through his illness and burial, and there are moments when we do not gel - all in all, I am the closest thing to her having a sister and she is a pretty handy person to have as an outlaw.

And when we get together, we can talk. In fact, on the first night we did - time was called (when it was finally noticed) at 1am.

Saturday morning, and V and I took the kids to softball.

"Have a sleep-in" I advised her. Sister Outlaw is known for appreciating a good sleep-in.

"Nah, mate." she replies. "I didn't come up here to sleep. Get me up before you leave."

'Salina took a catch at shortstop in the first innings - her first catch! It was a reflex, and she was blown away because she didn't even know she had caught it.

It was a tight game - first innings was 7-6, their favour. Second innings was 11-10 to us. It was a timed game, so they had room for another innings of 5 minutes each. They scored 4 more - and we just got our 4th when the game closed - so we won by 1 run.

Then I dragged the kids around the shops looking for shoes for 'Salina - which we are going back in to buy with the dress as the chosen cloppers came in 2 colours.

We got home around lunchtime and I had yet to get the groceries.

Sister Outlaw had got a start. The thing about Sister Outlaw's cleaning method is she is extremely thorough. You do not realise how truly slack a housekeeper you are until a Sister Outlaw comes into your house and does a thorough job. The downside of being thorough, of course, is time becomes elastic.

The kids by this stage had gone past the "I am so excited to see you, I have wanted to play with you for months" stage and were into trying to impress one another.

I honestly don't know why 8 and 9 year old kids do this - because the suck at it big time. Every time another bignote is issued, it seems to either require trumping or sulking.

I promised the kids I would take them to the beach if they stayed out of Sister Outlaw and V's hair while I got groceries.

The wind was howling, so the promised barbeque was postponed and a roast was prepared before we went to get sandblasted.

Sister Outlaw said "I can go to the beach another time, mate. I just like to keep going once I get started."

V and I galloped them up and down the beach and then to the playground. We left the playground to the tunes of "its not fair, he got to" and "why is she whinging so much".

While I prepared the veg and Sister Outlaw cleaned, V watched the kids play kid games in the backyard. Then there was an almighty blowout and 'Salina was crying in her cupboard (oh yes, not woth being a drama queen unless you can be really dramatic) and V got to be all blokey with Favourite Cousin in rolling their eyes and saying "girls."

They got washed and we all got fed and then bedtime again had "how come he gets to stay up later than me" because we enforce a fairly strict bedtime for 'Salina - not out of cruelty but because we do know how she reacts to overtiredness. It is not pretty for anyone.

All the grownups called it a night at about 10.00. The room Sister Outlaw had cleaned - from ceiling to skirting board, every window and fiddly crevice - looked amazing.

"Should I do the bathroom tomorrow?" I asked because when you sit at the feet of the mistress, you want to be able to take orders.

"Nah, mate, I don't like anyone working beside me because I just feel I have to redo what they do - no offence."

She also refused money. "This is my wedding present. None of the family can come and we can't afford a big present for you guys."

Sunday, and there was no way I was going to let my guest work so hard without getting a sweat up myself, so I found a corner of the house well away from her after asking her instruction on technique.

The kids alternated playing games and bickering like siblings and Sister Outlaw cleaned the other entrance room - again with the cobwebs, the dust, the dead flies and the windows.

Well, the whole downstairs is not pristine - but the main areas to attract people during the barbeque on Sunday after the wedding are now glowing with the efforts of sugar soap, elbow, bleach and disinfectant, even if I do say so myself.

After the chil'ens had expended some energy on computer games (another excuse to argue) and room tidying (ditto) V had girded his loins to take them to the beach for a swim (where apparently they argued about the boogie board).

I hooked in. The area with the fridge where the food will no doubt be prepared and guests will no doubt be herded in case of rain is good, so long as you don't start comparing the walls of that section with the walls next to them past a certain point (that would be the brick pillar neatly marking "clean" from "unclean").

That is the problem with doing a thorough clean, though - you can really tell the difference.

We don't have shed, so the closest thing V gets to a "zone" is the downstairs toilet. Its curtains got washed, the toilet (which was actually pretty clean-within -the-bowl-wise) reverted to some former glory (or as glorious as a downstairs toilet can be), the walls denuded of goodness knows what and several hundred daddy-long legs were made homeless, the window can now be seen through (so you can see the clean curtains clearer) and the deck got swabbed.

Sister Outlaw finally headed to the beach in the afternoon, taking the kids for another round and I did another acre or so of wall and doors so from one angle (so long as none of those pesky guests look sideways) it looks like a new downstairs.

A storm was threatening, so our barbeque was cooked on the stove and the kids were cleaned, fed and poured into bed - and then Sister Outlaw headed back for a bit more bathroom activity while I did the laundry.

And my muscles also had a certain glow up last night as I tried to sleep.

3am this morning, and with a little assistance from Eddie my half-wake state moved into full and I did a mental to-do list before I went to sleep.

Today, once people are awake, I have to pack them up, drop 'Salina off at school, drop them off at the station, collect a script from the chemist, see if there are any camcorders still on special we saw in a catalog (and while Sister Outlaw will not take money, she wants a video of the day) get one of them, get home for an hour's work before going in to see 'Salina perform in a concert, come back home for as much work as possible before collecting her from After School Care. I also have to call the cake lady, the cleaners (to finish up the floors that we didn't get around to), and lawnmowing dude (because bad weather meant it didn't happen for us on the weekend).

For your enjoyment, here is a private concert with 'Salina from a few months ago - she was pretty good then - now she is awesome. I hear her practice nearly every day, but she put on a show (which I didn't tape) for us on Friday and it was excellent. I would say that even if she was someone else's daughter!

Well - I was, but the 32M of it was just too much for me to wait for - and no doubt would have affected your download too.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Fend

I bought shoes yesterday. I so never ever buy shoes, so I dragged a girlfriend into town to help me.

I started by forgetting the friend. Had to drive and extra 10km for that little mistake.

Then I forgot my keycard - V had grabbed some milk and bread on the way home yesterday and gave it back, but I didn't put it in the wallet.

Then I forgot my pin on my other card - because on that account, I do nearly all transactions online.

So really, my friend bought me some shoes yesterday. And a dress. And a bra. And hair fripperies.

So all I have left to do is:

  • organise flowers
  • work out to MC or not MC
  • advise the club exact numbers and arrangements
  • get the cake finalised
  • clothes for V
  • shoes for dd
  • Sign for the venue carpark (so people know where to turn off)
  • Printed lists for the table
  • Another tussle with to MC or not MC
  • bonboniere

And people are launching themselves at me offering assistance.

It appears I am very hard to help - but I have discovered I am my own version of Bridezilla, because even though I may have everything under my version of control (which is fairly free-flowing) letting anyone in means they I live in fear of them moving into bulldozer mode (I speak from a certain level of experience - I have historical scars - how else does a toddler get known for saying "I can do it myself") and so I say a very firm NO before they can start their engines.

Any advice (that I probably won't take but at least I do listen and make a decision - offers of help get the deafness)?

Anyhow - I know when they arrive and crunch time comes, things will turn into the dictatorship and zey will do what I say.

I just wish I had a bit more grace in the dictatorship.

All booked in for hair stuff on Tuesday - this beautician who my forum-friends got the voucher from works out of a local hair salon so that took the guesswork out of who I would have fix my hair!

And then the talons on Friday, so I can sink my claws into V beautifully on Saturday.

I really tried to keep the numbers down - honestly, if my list had been the first draft it would have been about 3 times as many people (most of whom would probably have gone "Who?"), even still there will be 75 of us sitting down (at last count) to Australian Chinese cuisine on Saturday week.

In the RSVPs I have had two pregnancy announcements, a separation advisal, a widowing, a leaving Australia decision and about 10 wonderful surprises of people who I never expected to travel so far.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


The commentluv experiment is over until a glitch or two is fixed...

The commentluv itself worked - sort of - but the posts were not in order and it was too confusing for even my most hardy commenters.

Meanwhile, on the wedding front...

I know, its all wedding all of a sudden - 'Salina did successfully turn 9, V has successfully returned to work and I am consumed with feeding them, housework and working - and the wedding...

I know I don't talk about my work here because really - how riveting is it for you that I entered a few logging sheets and put a few graphics on a few pages, fixed a few forms and analysed some statistics today?

So, my all consuming passion apart from this today was working out who is going on which table. Whee.

Do you put all the marrieds together?

Should I scatter the very sparse male representation across the room?

Is it okay to just have a spare seat on each table for V and I to hop and just ditch the whole "sacrificial alter" thing?

We have no wedding party except from 'Salina - our witnesses are guests - and she is very keen to be queen of the kids tables.

While it would be nice to just have a tete-a-tete with V, I don't like the goldfish bowl thing.

There are people in our family who could probably be up there - but it is a large family and I want them to be on tables with guests.

I want to be on tables with guests.

I am not stressing. Yet.

Ah, that is better - I just typed a whole psychobabble about something and then deleted it.

Suffice to say, I am glad I got it out onto the screen - and I am glad you didn't have to read through it!

8 more sleeps. Sister outlaw and favourite cousin arrive on the train tomorrow.

They can't make the wedding so they are having some special time with us before.

Besides being a really cool person, sister outlaw is a professional cleaner always in need of cash, and I am happen to have some aside for some professional housecleaning (I am very much in the part-time amateur field) it is a fortuitous combination.

Favourite cousin has been best friends with 'Salina since she was 3 months in-utero. Sister outlaw worked out her pregnancy status at my party where we announced 'Salina.

Shoe shopping tomorrow. I hate shoe shopping. Bra shopping too. Ditto. Thank goodness sister-outlaw is in town tomorrow afternoon - a bright spot to look forward to.

Sister-out-law and favourite cousin are visiting and helping with a house blitz on the weekend.

Try to fit a week's work into Monday.

All things hair on Tuesday.

The first wave of help arrives Wednesday - friends and family.

Everyone is offering to help but I have no idea what tasks to set.

All I have left to contemplate is shoes, flowers and bras, really.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Social life courtesy of the internet

I am blown away by the kindness of the people I know through this little box.

I have this from Bettina.

Tiff gave me this a little while ago.

And Trish gave me this last month also.

I will, when given the chance, go through these and do all the i-dotting and t-crossing they require. Saves me having to think. That is good!!

Right at the moment I am looking at 10 days, 75 guests, no shoes and no flowers. Otherwise its just work and the general hum of life here.

However, I also have to give thanks for some IRL love from online friends.

Up there with anticipating the wedding, is anticipating the opening of gifts - and we are all intriged by a parcel delivered all the way from the USA from Debby.

And to help me get to the special day, some ladies (and a gent) on my favourite Aussie forum (no link, its for sole parenting and if you want it drop me an email) sent me a voucher for a beautician to help me turn into a princess.

By the way, I have made a change on my blog to enable CommentLuv - if you have any problems, my email is jeanieinparadise AT yahoo DOT com.

So really, its not a post, is it? Its more a "my goodness, I have to remember too much stuff, I will put some out there with links so when I need to remember I can find things again" sort of post.

Sorry folks.

I am lucky if I talk sense to myself at the moment...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

When you next hear me say

"oh, I am going to make it easy on myself", and it happens to be in relation to celebrating (or not celebrating) 'Salina's birthday and it is in regard to the "no party, no stress, no fuss" aspect I have attempted not once, not twice, not thrice but - oh goodness, lack of latin, you rear your ugly head now? - four times in her lifetime, just smack me on the upside of the head and tell me to stop fooling myself.

For her first birthday, we had a party in the park. Despite having friends (childless) who couldn't quite understand the concept of timing a party to the birthday girl's naptime (that would be why a beginning and end time were on the invite - heads up, end time has something to do with when we expect a nap, not when we expect the last guests to arrive), all went surprisingly smoothly.

For her second birthday, P. had just died and I was in no fit state to throw a party - but my amazingly wonderful sister took over and gave 'Salina a lovely party in their back yard.

We were 2 for 2 in the birthday party stakes.

For her third birthday, I thought rather than a party, we would just meet a few friends down at the park and have a play and some cake. The weather looked ominous. Brisbane in November has an even chance of being stormy, and we had just blown the chances. I cleaned my house and yard, rang all the invitees and held it at home in case it stormed. It didn't but I blew the "relaxed" approach.

For her fourth birthday, I decided that I would push out the boat. It was a full on organised party, with over 20 children and easily double that number of adults (I have many friends who still "borrow" my child), a clown and a sausage sizzle. It was huge, I didn't get to see a thing as I was running around "ko kokosh bez glave" and she scored heaps I cannot attribute as the children had a run on the present table before any adults thought to start writing down what was coming out of the flurry of paper.

Her fifth birthday I thought rather than a party, we would just meet a few friends down at the park and have a play and some cake. The weather looked ominous. (I was on a forum at the time where I wrote a splendid rant about the day - unfortunately the forum is now a memory (or rather, a webpage devoted to adverts on single parents, it appears)) So I cleaned my house and yard, rang all the invitees and held it at home in case it stormed. Luckily (for my sensibilities) it did storm - and I was confronted with a dozen children indoors wanting party food (I had a cake at least) and games - that was what the park was going to be for, kids!!! One other mother was the children's coordinator at her church so she stepped in. Ah, the good old days when parents stayed with their offspring at such times.

So - 3 for 5.

Her sixth birthday she had a surprise party with family (and lord how she howled at that - note to self, six year olds do not deal with surprises). For her friends, I thought rather than a party, we would just meet a few friends down at the park and have a play and some cake. The weather looked ominous...

4 for 6.

Just as a test of a theory, her seventh birthday saw not 1 but 2 organised parties. Unfortunately it was a month before I discovered blogging, so you do not have the benefit of that experiment. Let us just say that it proved:
  • weather turns out wonderful when I put the word "party" on an invite;
  • I am crap at paper mache, and
  • chocolate melts in pinatas

Last year, I dodged the whole weather-watch aspect to her birthday, so I am not sure if I include it in the statistical analysis? I shan't.

This year, I went for the (lets all join in here) "rather than a party, we would just meet a few friends down at the park and have a play and some cake" - only to avoid the whole afternoon thunderstorm thing, I pitched it for the morning and a swim at the beach. So yes, rather than thunderstorm warnings, we had morning drizzle that threatened to clear...

That would make it
  • I organise a party, it happens (although I am so stressed on the minutae it burns, yes even griefstriken and letting my sister do all the organising I stressed about the little things) with no weather intrusions - 4 out of 4 (although do we count the 6th as 1 party or 2?);
  • I organise a "play and cake" alternate to a party and end up having to roust up a party with the added degree of difficulty of cleaning my house and yard - 4 out of 4

Of course, I speak from the sort of deprived childhood that only had 1 proper birthday party - one that I had to share with my sister, even.

So deprived was it that I remember that party as a truly wondrous and special occasion, where my mother baked cakes decorated in nursery characters (it was fantastic) for my sister and I and 8 of our friends.

Advice? Stories?

The good news is that under the house is finally tidied in preparation for the wedding, so its a left-handed tick in the to-do box!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Mental Arithmetic

I still have a list of things I want to get done today, and the end of today is looming - but you know that magnet that draws you to the keyboard to blog a gripe?

Young people today, hey?

ha ha - I am immediately transported back about (ahem) twenty years and shaking my head at my elders when they made such pronouncements.

But really? They had nothing to gripe about compared to some of the youth I have encountered today.

It is of course the week before (Red Wednesday, that is) and so I am inclined to be more gripey and less accomodating, but seriously?

It is the child's birthday on Monday, and therefore we got to fit a little more retail into our Saturday than usual, so I am prepared to lay my intolerance on either over-exposure to teenage checkout operators or just being over it.

But having a 16 year old tell me (in words of two syllable or less) that I was old to consider that she should be able to mentally subtract one figure from another - it sort of rubbed me up the wrong way.

And for that to happen not once, not twice, but thrice?

Tell me, am I entering the fuddy-duddy zone?

I was in Capital Letter-Mart, having just bought up on birthday clobber for the girl (and mentally subtracting my 25% as I was going along so I could, you know, buy to my budget), the girl gave me her total.

I handed over my card and told her to give me the change from $170, as I had the groceries yet to do and I like my bank not to charge me for every transaction.

The girl gave me a pained, silent expression.

"Um..." she sort of gulped. You see, her register obviously didn't have any sort of shortcut on working that out for her.

"You subtract that figure on your register from the $170," I helpfully advised her.

She gulped again, and her hand hovered on the "help from a manager" button.

We had a standoff for what seemed an eternity.

"My change will be $123.05" I finally gave her the answer.

"Thanks." she said, and regarded me like I had an extra head suddenly spring up.

"I used to always work out the change in my head for fun when I was your age," I explained to her for my amazing mental agility.

"Oh," she said, relieved. "We have calculators these days."

Now, I would overlook this as a bit of a blip, except that it (the mental arithmetic, not the breathtaking rudeness) happened twice more during the day.

I know not everyone had my mother, and therefore not everyone gets sums fired at them at the kitchen table.

But surely it is something we should ALL learn before we hit the cash register - how much you will be expected to pay and how much you expect to get back.

I am known (and subsequently avoided) at tuckshop for making the children add and subtract their transactions, and I hope to goodness that I save at least one or two from being ripped off witless.

But am I an OTT fuddy-duddy here, or are you on my side?