Tuesday, 16 May 2017
Have you ever had a problem, that called for some creative problem-solving? I found myself in this exact position this week.
For the last eight, or so, years I've been wrangling two bags back and forth from school every day. One for my laptop and folders and papers, and one for my lunch, charging cables, handbag, and all the things that didn't fit in my laptop bag. This weekend I decided there must surely be a more efficient way to cart my stuff back and forth so Miss Mischief and I set off to find the perfect teacher bag. Because it seems that teachers have some pretty specific needs when it comes to a bag.
I lifted this bag down from a shelf, thinking that it looked like a pretty good size and shape, and it had plenty of pockets around the outside. Guess what little surprise I discovered? This perfect bag is actually a nappy bag. Yes, you read that right! A nappy bag. It has a ton of pockets inside as well and, as it turns out, fits absolutely everything except my lunch bag.
I love, love, love this bag with it's floral lining, waterproof exterior and the ton of pockets both inside and out.
It didn't phase me one little bit, buying a nappy bag, because I just needed a bag that suited my work needs. The older shop assistant seemed to think it odd to consider a nappy bag as a work bag. The younger shop assistant said "oh yes, I use that exact bag for work too".
When I told my class about my shopping adventure they thought it was hilarious that my bag is a nappy bag. Except now it's not. I'll give the change mat to a colleague and then it's just a bag, with a pretty lining.
Got an 'outside the box' problem-solving story? I'd love to hear it!
Saturday, 13 May 2017
What a week. Again!
Miss Mischief had her hand surgery yesterday. We were there all day, getting home late afternoon. She handled the whole thing so well, and seems totally fine with very little post-op pain. Her biggest complaint was that I forbade her from going to life group (the one she leads). We'll see the surgeon again in a couple of weeks to see what he has to say. Today she was happy to come shopping with me, but did admit that walking around wasn't so comfortable, since having her hand swinging normally wasn't that great of an idea. A sling would have been good!
The picture above is exactly how our dinner looked tonight. My hubby adores Malaysian Char Kway Teow - a spicy rice noodle dish. Truthfully, he has trained us all well, and we all adore it. When I was shopping for Mr Busy's birthday present I found a teensy tiny hole-in-the-wall sized Asian supermarket at one of the shopping centres "near" us (they're all 1/2 hour away). I picked up some fresh rice noodles and fish cakes, so they became Char Kway Teow tonight. Oh my. It was soooo good! Better than the Chinese restaurant in Our Town. We're pretty picky and Dh is quite the connoisseur, so it's a little sad that this recipe was better than theirs! In any case, there are some leftovers, so lunch on Monday!!! The recipe I used this time was from the SBS website, and it is an absolute keeper. I used way less fish sauce, because we don't love it *that* much. Also, I couldn't find dark soy sauce in my local Woolworths, so I used kecap manis and omitted the sugar. Oh, and I used samal olek instead of the whole thing with the dried chilis, because same-same, but easier. Obviously there is exactly zero times that I don't mess with the original recipe!! In any case, if you love Malaysian food, try this recipe!
I'm going to take some photos and post about the results of my shopping trip today. I finally got a new teacher bag!!! I love, love, love this bag. It is exactly and totally perfect. I have been carting about a laptop bag, and then a second bag with my handbag and lunch and charging cables etc etc, plus all the papers and folders that sometimes just don't fit in my laptop bag. No more! One bag and it's done. The solution was a surprise, in the end, and a lesson to promote thinking outside the box. I will post all about it early next week. I just want it to be Monday so I can use it already!
Tuesday, 9 May 2017
I can't remember whether I've said anything about Miss Mischief's hand/wrist. Suffice to say that a tussle over chocolate with her big sister was totally not worth it! Two years later, after much pain and exhausting all other possible treatment options Miss Mischief is headed for surgery on Friday. We both have mixed feelings about this. Relieved that the end is in sight, and surgery will reset the healing process and resolve the problem. Grateful that our health insurance enables her to have the surgery immediately....no waiting list required! Hopeful that everything goes exactly as the surgeon explained. And then a bit sad. Disappointed that prayer hasn't healed her. Concerned, because every surgery comes with risks. Sad that this amazing, knowledgeable, experienced, skilled surgeon will be cutting into my precious girl.
There have been delightful moments. Like when we went to book in, Miss Mischief thought it was like making any other appointment - we tell them, not them tell us, when to be there. She was gently schooled in the ways of booking surgery. I still giggle at her beautiful innocent naiveté. I gain a day out of the classroom, in which I can concentrate on my next assignment, because there will be nothing else for me to do while I wait. I have had to "forbid" Miss Mischief from her usual Friday night responsibilities...she doesn't know that you don't bounce from a GA like you do when you're 4yo. She might sleep for 24 hours. She might feel nauseous. She certainly won't be able to drive for up to two days.
We're having some fragile, tender moments this week, the two of us.
Wednesday, 3 May 2017
Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the poor ol' bank account. The photo above is the temperature in my house, as I type. It's gone up 2C since I got up to put the little fan heater on.
Because yesterday was the exciting day we installed a new ducted heating unit. The previous one spent the whole of winter just stopping. Every couple of weeks it would just decide it needed a break and just stop working. Dh is the only one who knows how to deal with the pouty attitude displayed by this appliance, that refused to fulfil its purpose in life. So we had a new one installed yesterday. By 6pm, when I got home, it decided it didn't want to work either. Maybe it thinks it is too good for this 20yo old house? The guy who installed it is onto the problem, so maybe by the end of the day we'll have heat. It is a whole 6C outside right now, so something bigger than a mini-sized fan heater would be wonderful.
On top of that, the TV decided to cark it yesterday too. It's like all the appliances have banded together to stage a mass protest. I expect the fridge and the water heater to join in the plan any day now. But the TV? It has been doing this weird thing where it just loses the plot and has a very loud, very fuzzy hissy fit, right after it gets turn on. It's a bit like a toddler doing the "dead fly" impression in a temper tantrum. After a few minutes, though, it usually settles down (unlike toddlers). Following yesterday's hissy fit, and taking its sweet time to decide to be turned off, it just wouldn't turn back on.
Today's jobs? Buy a new TV....because apparently there will be zero days on which there is no television in this house. This has happened before, the day Mr Busy scared a TV into refusing to turn on (he was 4yo and was playing with the on/off button; he (we) lost). Out we went and got a TV that day. Being here for Mr Heater man to come back and sort that beast out.
So here's the maths for this year:
new car for Miss Sunshine + new heater + new TV = no new kitchen any time this year 😭
The year began with such high hopes.
Tuesday, 2 May 2017
Last winter I needed to buy new tights, because the old ones finally carked it. And so began my quest for a basic winter essential, that didn't up around my knees by the time I got to work. Are you hearing frustrated? I bet you're feeling the same! The tights I used to buy were from Woolworths (see, I'm training myself not to say Safeway....I'm getting better-ish). When I went back last winter I discovered they had changed their "recipe". No more control top.
In fact, there are no control-top tights to be had anywhere. So began my quest for keeping my tights UP. A very smart colleague (who is young, so obviously this is something the younger crowd have sorted), shared that she goes "superman style" because tights just don't stay up. Ugh. The only thing strong enough for the downward pressure of gravity on tights is shape wear type garments. Regular undies don't seem to be quite up to the job. That's a day of pretty high pressure!!!! But she was right.
Since it's nearing winter and the days are headed back into the teens for top temperatures, I'm finding myself googling "control top opaque tights" again. Let me tell you, the results thus far are not so great.
So here's my question to you, dear reader: have you found opaque tights that actually stay up, that are currently available somewhere in a store. Or online. Or via pigeon post (see how desperate I am?)? Please share! What do you buy? Where do you buy them?
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
Ahhhh the serenity....
It has been about 3 weeks, and so far no irritating eye-puffing flare-up's. It has been such a long, frustrating experience, as my eyes did their own thing. At times, it seemed, without any provocation. I have a couple of instances this week of very low-grade itchiness in my left eye, but some hot water on a cotton square over that eye, thankfully did the trick. No antihistamine drops required. Sweet relief!
I stripped absolutely everything back until there is nothing left to do, and that has left my eyes totally normal again.
- No make-up
- No moisturiser on my face
- Coconut oil, sparingly applied, until irritation cleared up
- New pillow
- Change pillow case every 5-7 days (this seems to make a difference)
It's been an interesting experience, in reflection. I use a shampoo and conditioner without sulphates or parabens or nasty things like that because they make my scalp itchy. Like, "I think I might have lice" kind of itchy, that drives you completely bonkers. I can't use liquid hand soap, because it gives me contact dermatitis, which often ends up requiring an anti fungal cortisone cream to clear it up. I am so sensitive to synthetic chemicals, yet I was slathering them on my face. Then I was surprised when, one day, that wasn't working anymore.
So...my next step? Now that everything has settled and feels normal again, I have begun to investigate make-up that has very little in the way of all those synthetic chemicals that upset my skin so much. I'm investigating and researching and watching/reading reviews and finding good Aussie companies that care about what's in the products we use.
Monday, 24 April 2017
I am too scared to eat guavas here, in Australia, because I know I'll be disappointed. Topical fruit just always is. But I found this in Aldi yesterday when I was puddling around the spots where the 'limited time' products are found.
Welcome back, childhood.
Friday, 14 April 2017
This had to happen. It was always God's Plan A to bring us to a place where we are without sin in His eyes. This wasn't Plan B because mankind made a mess of what was created perfect. In the darkness of Friday I am grateful that Sunday is coming.
Wednesday, 12 April 2017
But this recipe was absolutely that good.
I tripped over it, only because I was reading Jen Hatmaker's Facebook page (no, I am still a staunched hold-out, but I can read the public stuff, right?), and she's on a Whole30 journey. Me? I'm just looking for food that tastes good and provides us some positive nutrition. Quick, simple, non-processed, delicious. Lofty ideals in a fast-paced, Masterchef kind of world with all its extremes of take out to fuss and bother.
This recipe fits my profile for good, yummy food. I give you Rosemary Balsamic Sheet Pan Chicken with Bacon and Apples. OK, so the name is longer than the drive from Melbourne to Sydney, but if you can overlook that you've got a winner.
Of course there is always the requisite little tweaks a person makes for one reason or another. The recipe calls for chicken breast. I had drumsticks, so that's what I used. The recipe calls for apples. You will want more apples than that. Just trust me. Double the apples. I used 3, because 2 looked like a piddly little amount in the pan. I wish I'd done more. And you can use apples that are starting to feel like you wouldn't want to eat them. Winner! Also, I grew up in the 70s when people boiled their cabbages to death. I don't love Brussels sprouts. When I say I don't love, I mean I have not touched one since I left home. Plus Aldi doesn't sell them right now. Bummer, right? Instead, I served this with our favourite cabbage dish, alongside which is just shredded cabbage sautéed with spring onion and bacon. Talk about perfect!
Now obviously, this meal fits a set of nutritional criteria that doesn't include starch. So if you don't need to worry about that you could add potato cubes to your pan as well. Miss Mischief seemed to think that would make it perfect. I was pretty happy without.
Tuesday, 11 April 2017
"You can't tell me what to do!" These were the terribly misinformed words uttered by my first child, barely three years old at the time. By the time she embarked on the "Terrible Three's" I already had a second child and a third on the way. It was far too late to back out or rethink how many of these little people we were going to have in our house. There was certainly no way a three year old was going to dictate how I was or was not going to raise her! I think I responded with something along the lines of "Well, you're going to be fairly miserable, because I can and I will tell you what to do....."
Thus began my journey of fear-less parenting.
I hear it more and more though....the questions about whether or not parents are getting it right. Am I feeding them the right food? Are they in the right school? Have they had enough experiences? Are they in the right sport? Should we change to another sport? Should we add music lessons? Maybe they should have art lessons? Are they getting enough sleep? Will they get a good job?
Oh. My. Goodness. Are you feeling dizzy? Feeling Inadequate? Frightened?
To be perfectly honest, these are not questions I spent my time asking. From the moment Miss Sunshine challenged my authority as her parent I was far more interested in what kind of children I was raising, not whether they had everything the world could offer them. Besides which, for most of our children's lives, we weren't in a financial position to give them all their little hearts desired. And we have led a quieter, much more sane life because of it....I don't think that's a bad trade-off!
How did I parent fearlessly? It was instinctive at the time, and as I've gotten older I've realised not all parents have been parented well, and instincts may be harder to find.
Be the parent
Once challenged by that deluded three year old, I understood I needed to lead my children. I cannot tell you how often I see parents whose children walk all over them. We need to be the authority in our children's lives. Not authoritarian, ruling with an iron fist. Authoritative. Unafraid to set reasonable limits and things that are not-negotiable in our homes, and then keep those limits. Children need to know where their boundaries lie and that they won't move. Believe me, they will try to push them! If you have spent any time with any child you know this to be true. Be prepared with consequences that match the age and act, and be consistent in applying them. I have learnt that when these lessons are learned early, the rest of being a parent is much easier. I only have to count back from 5 and my son still moves very fast! Our kids all know it is unwise and useless to test our boundaries.
Have high expectations
Part of being a parent is knowing how you want your kids to behave and then expect it of them, rather than excuse them. Whether it be using manners, eating all their dinner, requiring obedience...whatever it is that hits your radar as important. All of the things above were on my radar for high expectations, and so these things were constantly being addressed in my parenting. I wouldn't hand over something without receiving a thank you. I didn't begin fulfilling a request without a please. Our kids were required to have at least one bite of everything on their plate. I knew what they did and did not like, and I would still give them a bite or two of things they didn't like, so they would learn to eat dinner without being offensive to a potential host. The other side of that coin is that our kids eat a very varied diet and enjoy lots of different cuisines. If they kicked up a stink they were offered their meal or their bed. No alternative meals. Only one ever chose bed. That only happened twice, and then realised tomato sauce covers all sins and makes food edible.
As teenagers I had many conversations with my children about my expectations for them not to become sullen, moody, hateful people who do the wrong thing. I challenged and expected them to be above the stereotype of their age. I don't believe that just because "everyone" says kids are like a, b or c means they have to be like that.
Be comfortable saying no
Our kids need us to say no, as much as they need us to say yes. Sure, small people will throw a tantrum. Indeed bigger ones will also try. Don't let their tactics scare you off from being the parent. It's not our job to keep them happy, in the sense that we should feel obliged to give in to everything they desire. It is our job to stick by our word. If our word is 'no' then let it be no. When I have had my children beg and plead because they didn't like my no, I was more inclined to stick with that no than ever. It's the stubborn streak that runs through the females of my mother's family. This kind of goes with "be the parent". It is not our job to be popular with our kids, or be their best friend. It is important that we be able to make good decisions for our kids and stick with them, despite their best efforts to persuade us otherwise. Whenever my children accused me of being the meanest mother I countered by insisting I was being the best mother. Actually I probably just agreed! "Yes, I am the meanest mother...that means I'm doing a good job". The poor babies had nowhere to go with that one! Be confident with your no and let your kids learn that disappointment is a part of life. Most of our "no's" are not spirit crushing, and they shouldn't be. But it is a normal part of life.
Are you paralysed by parenting fear, or do you parent confidently and fearlessly? What's your best tip for raising amazing kids?
Friday, 7 April 2017
A few days ago DH, Mr Busy and I were watching pelicans and seagulls feed on some fish heads and guts that were dumped into the water, off the little jetty at Rhyll on Phillip Island.
Suddenly my husband wondered what that thing was, moving just beneath the water behind the pelican. Imagine our surprise to discover an enormous stingray languidly moving through the water, in search of fish. We watched it stop over a spot where there was a dead fish. It hovered and flapped again, and then moved off. And then another stingray joined in. They moved about so gracefully and we took some video.
They were just so enormous and so smooth. They were remarkably close to the shoreline. I'm not a fan of swimming in Victorian beaches, they're too cold for my topical upbringing. I'm even less inclined now that I know these enormous animals lurk so close by! The picture above doesn't give any reference point for it's size, but it was at least a metre across.
It was a truly remarkable sight to watch these two rays stay close and wave their "wings" so beautifully. Just amazing.
My boss came back from summer holidays with video of an octopus his family found in some rock pools. You can be sure I'll be sharing my video of stingrays with him!
Tuesday, 4 April 2017
Last week I was watching a vlog by Jennifer over at The Daily Connoisseur (one of my most favourite new-to-me bloggers), where she talked about her current skincare favourites. One little gem she shared was regarding frankincense. It seems, upon further investigation, that this essential oil is quite the miracle worker for repairing skin and reducing scarring. Since my local pharmacy carries it, I dropped in there yesterday and picked up a little (expensive!) bottle. I've mixed a handful of drops into some extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil. I had to use a warm teaspoon to mix it, since the oil is now quite solid, due to the cooler days we've had. But now it sits in a teensy little pot, looking quite cute.
Last night I had it on my eyes for about an hour and then had to get it off. My eyes were tearing up terribly, but the coconut oil feels so smooth and silky!! Interestingly, my eyes are a little puffy this morning, not as much as I would have expected. The skin on my eyelids has settled right down. It's not red and irritated, like it has been. So half a win.
I'm going to try using the coconut oil/frankincense mixture for short amounts of time and see if I can't build up some resilience for my eyelids. Maybe if I take it off after 15 or so minutes it'll help my lids to resist puffing up, and the skin will continue to heal?
The saga continues....
Tuesday, 28 March 2017
Olive leaf extract (OLE) is my version of a magic potion. I don't know what is in this stuff, or what makes it so effective, but I would not be without it in my cupboard. The minute I start to feel my throat getting that little pre-cold niggle I start taking it. If someone else in my house is unwell I take a half dose a day to make sure I'm all boosted and fighting those germs. I don't get sick very often, so I'm a very bad patient. I refuse to get sick just because people around me aren't well!
On Thursday, when I realised I had a cold, I sent Miss Sunshine a text asking her to bring my magic potion school. I knew I needed to get onto it really quickly or I would nose-dive before the end of the evening. She made the quick trip out to school and refilled my water bottle so I could take a dose right then without having to leave my class...which I can't do! They all laughed at me! The kids thought I looked like I was eating a lemon. I have to say, it doesn't taste that wonderful. On a scale where chloroquine is a '10' in "that tastes really awful", this is about a 2. But it makes me screw my face up until I've washed it down with water. Miss Sunshine was laughing at me, and my class. She declared us all "flipping hilarious". Thanks!
By 4pm, when parent-teacher meetings started, I was feeling much better and I wasn't blowing my nose as much. Over the last four days I had sounded all stuffy, but haven't really felt like that. I've also been a bit more tired than usual, but a good snooze has got me going again. The cold really didn't progress beyond a runny nose that stopped almost as quickly as it started, on the same day. Other times, when I've used OLE at the first sign, the cold that was beginning has just stopped in its tracks.
I can't take cold and flu medication and I haven't needed to use the cold and flu vitamins I had been using before I found this stuff. It is truly a magic potion.
And just so you know, I have not been asked to promote this product, or been provided with a sample. I literally walked into my local pharmacy and picked it up on the advice of a good friend. My pharmacy happens to have the brand picture above. It should be labelled "Magic Cold Fighter".
Tuesday, 21 March 2017
I am a 'hills' kind of girl. Cool, fresh mountain air. Chilly winters, enveloped in still, fog in the mornings. Roaring fires. That's my kind of deal. I adore where I live, and my little town is about the best place I can imagine living.
And then there's the beach.
I grew up less than a handful of kilometres from the beach, in a little tropical paradise. We swam almost every day, not because it was idyllic, but because we needed to cool off. It was sticky and hot and we had no air conditioning back those days. Listening to the ocean roar at night was my favourite sound, after tropical rain thundering on our uninsulated tin roof.
Last week I mentioned that we'd been away with old friends, and we always camp near the beach in a foreshore caravan park. It is way more upmarket than the foreshore caravan parks I remember when I was small! After about 10-12 years of avoiding the beach there, I finally ventured out. Miss Mischief and I walked to the front of the caravan park, because I just wanted to see the water. When we discovered the tide was out I was easily convinced to walk back to our caravan along the shoreline.
What I remembered was that I love walking on wet sand when the tide is a long way out. It's easy to walk on, and it is just so relaxing. We slipped off our thongs and enjoyed wet sand and water between our toes. And I said "I wish I'd done this yesterday", about 10 times.
I wouldn't swap where I live for all the tea in China, but I was reminded of how much I love to walk on the beach. We'll be near the beach again in a few weeks, and this is what I'm looking forward to. Long walks along the beach on wet sand when the tide is out.
What's your favourite place to be? Beach, hills, or somewhere in between, like the suburbs?
Friday, 17 March 2017
Even better than just a salad....or a salad with wholemeal toast, dug from the depths of the staffroom freezer:
Salad and a baguette from The Artisan Crust. With butter.
You can't even begin to imagine how good lunch was yesterday!!!
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
I'm not a huge salad lover. Salads are OK, but by the end of summer I'm after some good old fashioned cooked veggies. For me to find a salad I love enough to eat more than two days in a row is quite a thing.
Enter Shauna Niequist's Greenwell Salad.
This is my go-to salad for lunch. We don't have pears and grapes available at the same time, so I use an apple, and I've never seen dried cherries. Dried cranberries work well instead.
I took all the bits for this salad away with us over the weekend, so this was my lunch. Miss Mischief likes this one as well, so she also had salad one day. And then I had some goats cheese left yesterday morning and nothing else to take to school for lunch. Hmmmmmm.
The apples need to be covered in the dressing so they don't go brown, but everything else needs to stay out of it. That's when I remembered reading about mason jar salads...where the dressing is on the bottom and only gets mixed with the top things when you tip it into a bowl at lunch time. So I began layering up in a Tupperware container that was the right size and shape.
Apple & dressing
(yeah, I didn't have a few of the ingredients)
It ended up being perfect at lunch time, even with the missing onion and craisins. I tipped it into a bowl and found some wholemeal bread in the staffroom freezer, so I made some toast to go with it. This salad just seems to go perfectly with buttered bread/toast.
I'm not sure I love any salad enough to have it four days in a row. I'm not at school today so I'll find something else. But tomorrow, this will be back.
Tuesday, 14 March 2017
I realised, just this morning, that the Labour Day long weekend has occurred at exactly the right moment in the middle of the school term. I know it was the right moment, because I slept for 10 hours the first night, and seven hours for each of the next two. Hours and hours of uninterrupted sleep. That's when I know I'm really tired.
As well as sleeping, however, this weekend infused us with a needed dose of our tribe. Each year we camp with people we've known our entire lives. A family of five siblings, some of their spouses and many of their children. Plus us, and another family, all of whom grew up in the same church as children. Back then we played together, holidayed together, churched together and spent our days in one another's homes. My aunt married the cousin of the 5 siblings, so we are connected in more than just deep friendship.
It takes time to develop community; a tribe of people that are part of your everyday life. I didn't realise how valuable that was until we needed to uproot ourselves and move to a new church. All of a sudden our tribe wasn't our tribe anymore. But these whole-of-life friendships have been the ones that have sustained and fuelled us along the way. They are precious and necessary. We know each other's faults and gifts. We know when to "smile and nod" or roll our eyes quietly, and when to challenge and how to laugh. That's not a quick thing to develop.
So this weekend we've camped. Us in our 30yo very saggy caravan. The kids now use little tents because they don't fit in the bunks at the back of the van anymore. But it does the job. It only takes us an hour to pack, and we're on our way.
The next time we camp it will be with a new tribe. One we're building and growing and sewing ourselves into. That's also necessary. But there's nothing like the comfort of something deeply known.
Thursday, 9 March 2017
I've raised two children to young adulthood, and a third who is mere year away from officially, legally joining them. We've parented and trained and disciplined and talked and guided and shepherd these children through the past 21 years. Mostly they're really great people to hang out with, and certainly for everyone beyond our picket fence that is still totally and absolutely true.
But yesterday I blew a gasket.
I am tired of fighting with these people to have them do their dishes job after dinner. Totally and complete done with it. So yesterday, after asking one child to empty the dishwasher before they went out in the morning I ended up just doing it myself.
Me: Could you please do the dishwasher before you go?
Child: But Mum, I have to go, because I need to get in some hours at work and I have an appointment and I'm about to leave....
Me: What, you can't take 5 minutes before you go?
Child: No, because otherwise I'll miss out on time at work
Me: Fine. I'll do it myself.
Note: Child works for their Dad and when they go and how much time they spend there is very fluid. It's not a normal "start at this time" kind of job.
So I emptied the dishwasher. And refilled it. And cleaned the disgusting microwave that is above my head height, so I can't actually see in there or clean without standing on a chair. I did the dishes, and dried them and put them away. And the dish rack (no one seems to remember it has a place in a cupboard!). I wiped down the bench and put all the bits and pieces away. Then I decided I will just do the stupid dishes myself, for the rest of my life, and give up on arguing with all the people in my house.
Yesterday's episode came on the heels of another Child throwing a hissy fit because they didn't want to cook dinner. That child got to stamp off to their bedroom and I had to figure out cooking dinner. After I got home, so wasn't able to start dinner til after 6pm. I have been known to tell these people they are free to move out....
I wonder when I get to throw a hissy fit and just choose not to do things...and then have them magically be done for me?
For now. At least I have a clean kitchen.
Tuesday, 7 March 2017
I wanted us to have a long and happy relationship. I really did. Everyone told me you were gentle and soft and good for sensitive skin. They told me that you were the perfect thing for removing eye makeup. You even come in a hypoallergenic formula. I thought we were set for years to come.
You were so disappointing. Rather than being gentle and soft, you were harsh and irritating. You made my eyelids swell and become heavy, like they were sitting on my bottom lashes. I have had days and days of antihistamine eyedrops and topical cortisone cream (thank you Miss Sunshine!) to get my eyes back to normal. No, I just don't think this is going to be a long-term, sustainable relationship. And I am terribly disappointed about that. Disappointed that you didn't live up to the hype. Disappointed that no one warned me this was a possibility.
Since I can't be friends with you I'm on the lookout for a new friend. I'm thinking organic, cold-pressed coconut oil might be a better friend for me. No chemicals, no detergent-like liquid masquerading as something more pure that it really is. Yes. I think coconut oil might be just the friend I've been looking for.
No Longer Putting Up with Puffy, Itchy Eyes
I'm calling this summer my "Makeup School Summer". It's amazing what you can learn on YouTube. One of my very favourite teachers has been Kate at The Small Things Blog. She is so sweet, and very knowledgable, so I felt like I was in good hands all the way through summer. I had to supplement her tutorials with a few for more mature skin, and hooded eyelids, but I'm well on the way now. And then came the micellar water debacle. For the last 6 weeks or so I have been battling these itchy, puffy flareups and wondering if it was the mascara, or what else it could be. The micellar water is the only other new thing I hadn't used before, so by process of elimination I am fairly confident this has been the culprit.
I'm hoping the coconut oil approach to removing makeup will do the trick (again, thanks to Miss Sunshine). I'll be posting a follow up to report on how that goes.
Do you have sensitive skin? What have you found to be a giant flop? Or a great thumbs up?
Thursday, 2 March 2017
I briefly considered doing a fast again. Briefly...let's say, a nanosecond. Doing a serious fast seems to work best for me when I am surrounded by others sharing that journey. So for this period of Lent I decided to reduce my intake of sugary food to one dessert/cake a week. No other sugar, and no bread or crackers or likewise for snacks. Especially when I get home from work and dinner isn't quite on the table, and I could eat the very people in front of me, I'm so hungry. These are the two things I think I need to push aside for awhile. And while I'm pushing those aside I'm aiming for pulling in more stillness with God. Perhaps my Bible on top of my computer will be a good start...
Tuesday, 28 February 2017
Happy Shrove Tuesday everyone!
My class at school has been learning about things to do with places and maps and people and community and celebrations. I love that Australia's multiculturalness means that all these international celebrations happen right in our cities, towns and communities. Right where we are. And that we get to travel the world via our kitchens! A couple of weeks ago we made wonton soup, because it was Chinese New Year.
The kids thought that was the best thing ever. Indeed, I got to church last week and a good friend said that's all she'd heard about all morning, from some of my kids and their parents - you know - the three or four families that would entail!
Last week I decided to prepare my students for Shrove Tuesday. In their handwriting practise they wrote about it, so they know it's not just a day to eat pancakes. There is a reason behind it. Many mainstream protestant churches these days don't teach on or practise fasting or observe Lent, so many of my kids had no idea that Ash Wednesday was the beginning of Lent. Or that Shrove Tuesday is about being shriven - a word that means the acts of confessing sin and being forgiven. Nor did they know that Lent is traditionally a time of restraint and preparation to remember Jesus' death, and celebrate his resurrection, so the day before people clean out (or used to!) all the richer foods in their stores, hence pancakes.
Since we've already cooked as a class, and because it's really warm here in Melbourne, this week (about 33C/91F today), I decided I wasn't going to cook with the kids again this soon. But mostly because it's really warm, and our Food Technology room is one of the few left with no air conditioning!
So last night I made pikelets for my class to share at morning tea time. I'll take butter and jam, and they can have pikelets, or not. So many of our celebrations have some kind of special food attached to them, and preparing for Lent is no different. I love that we get to experience that in real life! Hopefully they'll remember why we eat pancakes at this time each year.
Saturday, 25 February 2017
I was at work unreasonably early yesterday morning. Mr Busy's class (well, 6 out of the 8...yes, you read that right, he is in a class of 8!) attended a Melbourne Prayer Breakfast event. At least one of us was well rewarded for being at school before 6am. Look at that breakfast! Meanwhile, I was hungry by 9am, because no one should be eating breakfast at 5am. No one!
While I was sitting at my desk in the small, dark hours of the morn, with eyes still bleary, I snapped a pic of this week's gel nail polish, from Aldi. This is the taupe, which I didn't mind at all. It's less sheer than the pink from Rimmel, but it was nice and neutral, and didn't say "Hi, look at my nails". The photo above was taken on Day 7, and it was still looking magnificent. I could have pushed it a few more days, but I did noticed some edges were starting to lift. Not chip - no chipping! But a few edges looked less secure. When I went to remove the polish last night I tried to chip it off. No dice. The little corner that lifted was the only bit that came away.
My review for two-step gel nail polish? It is ideal for the non-nail polish wearers of the world, like me. It lasts at least a week and it is so smooth. I had none of the feelings about this nail polish, that I normally have with regular polish. The Aldi version was equally as good as the Rimmel London brand I used first, and the Aldi one only cost $10. If you can still get it!
Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Despite being a very girly kind of girl, I've never really been into make-up and nail polish. Perhaps it has to do with growing up in the tropics, where make-up would melt off. Perhaps it was the fact that in a third world country these items were hard to come by. Perhaps it is that my mother is not really into these things either. Whatever the reason, this part of being a girl kind of bypassed me.
The other day I had a strange hankering for nail polish - a rare thing indeed. So I pestered Miss Sunshine to see if she had any really pale pink stuff. Because that's about all I could possibly handle. The only thing she had was a two-step gel thing, but the right colour so I went with it.
One of the things I don't love about nail polish is that within two days it is chipped and driving me nuts. I don't like the feel of it when I'm using my hands (you know, all the time), and stuff touches the top of my nails. It's just all been icky. This gel stuff is completely different! The photo above is three days in. It hasn't budged. Not a bit. And it actually feels really nice on my nails.
Miss Sunshine happened to have Rimmel London polish. This week I bought a two-step gel in pale taupe from Aldi. For $10 I figured it was worth a shot...otherwise I'll go back to the Rimmel.
Other things I'm loving:
- This rhubarb crumble recipe (for the rhubarb) from Maggie Beer, with this crumble topping from Shauna Niequist. I omitted the pecans and added coconut to the topping.
- New blog at "The Daily Connoisseur"
- Discovering Aldi jam is made just up the road from where I live, from fruit grown in Australia.
- "This is Us" began last week, and "Fixer Upper" starts this week.
- Most importantly....feeling like I was winning at my job yesterday, even though we had a mucky, messy afternoon with kids going in all directions.
What are you loving today?
Tuesday, 7 February 2017
I know you know what I mean. I can't be the only one.
I posted, last week, about tackling my fear problem. Even now I want to say lesser words, like stress, anxiety and concern. But I know it really is all just fear. Or not so much "just"! I am praying my way through and claiming Truth over those feelings and I'm doing better. Sleeping better. On Sunday I made a very long list of all the things I had to get done at work by the end of today. Most of it has been crossed off, and I'll tackle some more this morning. Because I made the list on paper I've been less fearful of forgetting things, and then being more relaxed. Repeatedly praying through my fear is making me less fearful. It's working!
My next thing? My health. I just need to make, and act, on better choices. My blood tests all told me I am in good shape, but the outside shell tells a different story about my relationship with food. So, I am working on being more mindful, deciding on what I want that outside shell to be like, and then acting towards that. Small steps.
What do you want to be, that seems like a struggle right now? Let's be people that act excellent, in order to see the results that come from habits rather than willpower!
Wednesday, 1 February 2017
Chicken ready for flash freezing
Recently, Frances (from The Lefthanded Housewife) talked about ways she was tweaking her daily routines and how that might be the trick to getting on top of things like her infamous attic. Although I will miss the odd post here and there about her attic woes (they make me feel better about little spots in my house, like the dining room), it made me wonder if there were things I do that could be changed to help me be more efficient?
One possibility came to me as I was preparing dinner tonight. It's such a long time since we've had oven-baked orange chicken**, because anything with "stations" to get meat prepared is low on our list of weeknight dinners. However! This week marks the beginning of my four-day work week, with Wednesday's being my day off. I decided I would go to the effort of making this chicken recipe because it's really yummy, but also because I can prepare the chicken and then flash freeze it, and then bag the prepared, frozen drumsticks in single-meal quantities.
And this is my routine game-changer. I hope! My Wednesday's can be my prepare-ahead night. If I choose meals that take just a few extra minutes to get a little extra prepared (freezing meat in marinade, making two lasagnas etc) and into the freezer for another night I may just find we manage better with conquering Idon'twannacookdinneritis.
This has certainly been my most productive half hour in the day. The first 8 hours involved filling out forms for Miss Mischief's Youth Allowance application, getting documents from the accountant, and sitting at Centrelink for over an hour to submit said forms before the deadline for her application. I had hoped to get some rhubarb relish made. Well, the day's not over so it's still a possibility I guess.
** Recipe adjustments:
- Used chicken drumsticks instead of breasts
- Juiced two oranges for about 3kg of chicken
- Skipped brushing chicken with butter - dipping in the orange/honey liquid is plenty
- Preheated an oven tray with a little olive oil before putting chicken in the oven
Tuesday, 31 January 2017
It all started because of a couple of sermons at church, recently, about overcoming fear. I didn't think much about it, until the week I went back to work. Then I was back to my insomniac ways: whirring thoughts, waking up panicking over all the things I hadn't managed to get completed. And then of course, we're walking Miss Sunshine through overcoming her very real, and understandable fears about driving on dirt roads.
Fear seems to have become a theme for the month of January!
Last week I realised that we use a lot of different words that are all different ways to say fear: doubt, worry, anxiety, concern, despair, dread, panic, unease. All of these feelings come from a place of fear. When I realised that these were some of the adjectives for my early morning feelings I decided it was time to get this sorted out once and for all.
I am a Bible reader, and there is this great verse that tells me exactly what to do. It's awesome. It's one of my favourite verses, because it's so practical. I've taught my school babies about this verse and watched them put it into practice and conquer their fears. Apparently I'm not great at putting it into practice myself!! Rats!
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hears and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)The first bit of the verse is where the turnaround begins. Don't worry about anything. That's not a flippant instruction or statement. It is a directive to make a choice not to partner with fear; not to engage with it, to turn your back on it. Choose a different way. A better way is to pray about everything. I love that I get to chat with God about the stuff I'm worried about and leave it with him. This is when I choose to remind myself of God's characteristics, his faithfulness, that he has already won my battle with fear. That's what I choose to partner with, because that's Truth.
What was I worried about last week? Getting everything done to have my classroom and my lessons planned for this week. My room has had a new ceiling, paint, new roof, new lights, new ceiling fans and optic fibre installed over summer. I didn't get the lights back up til last Friday. Our internet network has been sketchy because it was also having a major overhaul. I finally got to print stuff on Saturday! I needed three days in my classroom, I had the equivalent of one! So on Sunday night I decided to follow the advice found in Philippians. I decided I didn't want to partner with fear. I told God what I was worried about and what I felt I needed. This morning? I woke early, but later than I had been waking. Not panic, no worry, no whirring thoughts going a million miles an hour. I just lay there thinking about all the things I was going to get to do with my kids today.
Do you know what the antonyms for fear are? They are great words: calm, confidence, contentment, faith, ease, joy, courage, fearlessness. That's how I want to be able to describe my life!
My students came back to school today and we had a great time. As much as I am looking forward to having Wednesday's off this year, I can't wait to get back on Thursday.
Sunday, 29 January 2017
No, no. Not new 'people' family members. Nor pets. With adults and near adult children I am done with the people variety of new family members, and I am absolutely not a pet person. Ask anyone who knows me in real life (although Frances' Travis is mighty cute, even to me!)
Miss Sunshine is the very excited, and proud new owner of a Mazda 3. It is one of the few things that has her keen to be driving again, after Chelsea's untimely demise. This has been her dream car for a quite a while now, and I'm not really sure why a 20yo gets to have her dream car already. I had to wait 'til I was 44! But this car fit the desire and the budget I had set for Miss Sunshine (read: I wasn't willing to hand over any more than the set budget!). A budget she agreed to, by the way, because she will need to repay it.
So meet Luna.
She is officially metallic blue, but looks a bit purple in the right sunshine. Luna is now trying to figure out where she belongs in the driveway real estate pecking order and we're back to shuffling cars again. Someone is going to need to move out before Mr Busy gets are car in a couple of years (less if he had his way 🙄).
Meanwhile, last night I took Miss Sunshine to drive on the dirt road that caused all the kerfuffle in the first place. It was not without some high, but controlled, emotion, but it was an uneventful drive and all ended safely back home again. All that is left now is prayer for healing her mind of the fear.
Tuesday, 24 January 2017
I'm still not convinced I'm ready to return to work, even after I started back yesterday. By lunch time I was desperate for an afternoon nap, but decided hiding under my desk to do so was probably not going to go down well. We had someone sign himself out, a few years ago, and then have a nap under his desk. To say his wife was frantic, when he wasn't at home, nor thought to be at school, is an understatement! So no nap.
But rhubarb relish. I had my favourite lunch, and the Secondary Indonesian teacher questioned me "is that all you have". I told her yes, but it was sooooo good. But it comes with lots of containers - for crackers, and cheese, and butter, and relish. My teaching partner had a little taste of some leftover and she wants the recipe. One of the others in my teaching team has parents in law with lots of rhubarb plants. I suggested she could hand some my way, because I now know I'll never have enough!
The other issue, my return to walk highlighted, is the dinner cooking situation. The children seemed to forget that I was out all day until 5.45pm, and they were home. Dinner was meant to be quiche. It was frozen chicken pieces (from Costco) with a pasta salad Miss Sunshine had made the kids for lunch, and had intended to eat today as well. Too bad, I say, since she didn't make dinner.
I find that if Dh continues his laundry ways and the kids can cook dinner, I seem to manage alright. Coming home at 6pm and having to cook? Not so great.
What helps you manage the home/work juggling act?
Friday, 20 January 2017
Note to self. Do not touch eyes when cleaning.
Thursday, 19 January 2017
When we were up at Mum and Dad's last week, our everyday lunch was fresh bread rolls, cold meat and salad. On the first day Mum insisted I try some new relish she's made, unfortunately she only pressed me once I'd had my roll and I was reluctant, because I am not a huge relish/chutney fan. I'll eat them, but won't be all out for them.
Rhubarb relish? Total game changer! This is my new favourite lunch, pictured above. And by favourite I mean totally obsessed. Wholemeal Prista crackers from Aldi, butter, rhubarb relish and Colby cheese (I use a veggie peeler because I like my cheese thinly sliced). And I am disappointed when this can't be my lunch. This relish stopped me in my tracks and I insisted on the recipe, because you know, I have a rhubarb plant that is thriving.
I am totally in love with this relish. Want to know what I'm on about? Have a go for yourself. Mum says it's super simple (I'm still enjoying the jar she generously gave me), and since my Mum isn't not prone to long, finickity recipes, you can believe this is super easy and unfiddly.
~ Rhubarb Relish ~
1kg rhubarb, chopped (about 1cm in length)
4 onions, finely chopped
4 cups sugar
10 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup white vinegar
- Combine ingredients in a pot and cook for 30 minutes.
- Blend if you think the rhubarb is too stringy (I would use a stab blender)
- Decant into sterilised jars and store in the fridge.
Ta da. You will need ten thousand rhubarb plants to keep up with the addiction this stuff will birth in you.
Wednesday, 18 January 2017
I've just had a whirlwind 24 hours with my parents visiting. Dad needs to be close to home for the next couple of months, so they came down so he could do some phone repairs for us, because he's very clever with things like that. We have no clue on earth! So while Dad fiddled with wires and crawled under the house (he likes that we live on a slight hill, because space!) Mum decided she would clean my windows.
Well. You will never ever see cleaner, sparklier windows than these. A little cloudy ammonia, some water, a few swipes and lots of WOW! So since Mum was cleaning the glass and needed to remove the screens to do those panes I figured I'd clean the screens. Every time I look near a window, now, all I see is outside. No dirt. No dust. No mould. Just outside.
My mother is a very funny lady, with a brain for problem-solving. She happened upon this cleaning method because she was cleaning grout with cloudy ammonia, and she began wondering what it would do for her windows. Not being one to die wondering, she gave it a go. And then wanted to bless me with her magic window cleaning potion. I am definitely the winner. Her very diplomatic assertion was that cleaning my windows was very satisfying. I'll bet...some of them were pretty awful.
This is yet another episode in a lifetime of ammonia events for my mother. I remember, when I was 9yo, and we had not long since moved to Wewak (PNG). I came home from school one day to find Mum on her hands and knees with a bottle of ammonia and a bread and butter knife, in the kitchen. She was scraping years of floor polish off the floor boards. I distinctly remember the acrid stench and that I very quickly left the house and went outside. But Mum pressed on, because she is not only funny, but also very determined (some call it stubborn, but I think determined is a kinder description to this trait, which she has passed down the line of oldest daughters). That polish was also embedded with grime and mould, so she did not stop until it was done. And then she took to caring for that floor properly, until they refinished the floorboards a few years later.
Me? I'm scared of ammonia! Hopefully the windows stay shiny for a long, long time!
Tuesday, 17 January 2017
#1 Highlights not Details
I am not a details kind of person. I just need the general gist of something that takes about 2 minutes - not the half-hour, fine detail version. The problem is kids don't understand summarising for the main points. I'm sure my eyes roll back in my head - I know I kind of switch off a bit.
#2 Where did you put it last?
Because children never seem to know where THEY put THEIR stuff. I sure can't track what they do, especially when there's 20 of them!
#3 What do I get if I find it?
This quickly follows #2, because inevitably said child does not understand the concept of actually lifting things and moving things with their actual hands in order to see if their "something" is hiding beneath all the other rubbish they possess.
#4 I love you - that's why I mix your names up!
This covers a multitude of name-mixing sins. And I am an expert at it. For the last week I've just had Dh & Mr Busy at home while the girls have been off housesitting. Cannot tell you how often Mr Busy gets called his Dad's name. Which is his middle name, so not such a stretch. When Dh gets called Mr Busy's name....no such excuses. I have been known to call a child their sibling's name, when I've never worked with the sibling. *sigh*
#5 I don't need your help being a grown up
Children don't seem to understand that I lived a whole lot of life, quite successfully, without them telling what to do and how to do it. At school this is also stated as "I went to Uni for four years to learn to do my job - you have a lot of school to do before you get to take over".
#6 When was the last time your nagging changed my answer?
You know, what they ask the same question a thousand different ways, hoping for a different answer? My own children have finally figured out this doesn't work. Well...Mr Busy still tries it. The kids in my class? After a year they still had to have this pointed out.
#7 What did I say?
After they've tried about three different ways of asking the same question....
#8 The rules haven't changed!
Because kids seem to think a different location, or a different grown up will change the behaviour expectations.
#9 What did I ask you to do?
Cannot tell you how often children get distracted on the way to complying with a direction or instruction. Mr Busy used to find it hard because "his teddies were always talking to him" (he was about 4yo). My 10yo's at school? They would rather chat or wrestle than remember what they were meant to do. Or they just weren't tuned in, in the first place. My baby adults are like "oh, you actually meant it? Like, now?"
#10 Is this working for you?
In response to inappropriate behaviour choices, the outcome of which means I have to intervene with some stern words, and said child looks totally uncomfortable about being called out on their behaviour.
And of course, often a pointed stare can remind children of the repetitive script they are likely to hear, if I actually have to say words!
What things do you find yourself repeating constantly?
Saturday, 14 January 2017
I began the summer holidays with some stitching, and discovered I couldn't see that well. Again. The last time I got my lens prescription updated, stitching was the instigator! Yesterday I went and picked up my new specs - two for the price of one, thank you very much Spec Savers.
The black will stay at home, the pink will go everywhere else I go. I have had two sets before and found it very helpful in preventing those forgetful moments, where I neglect to take my glasses with me. I cannot tell you how often I phone Mr Busy at about 7.30am with a "Can you please find *xyz* and bring it to school with you?" phone call. He makes an excellent courier, by the way. His bus arrives at school right as we finish staff devotions so we connect on his way to his classroom and I am reunited with whatever it is I've phoned him to bring.
Glasses and computer cords top the list of things I forget. Once it was earrings. He thought that was a tad weird, but the girls helped out with that one.
I can now read small print, thread a needle and get that needle in the right spot. It's meant losing a little distance vision while I'm wearing the glasses - but I can peer over the top to get that! I cannot tell you how much I leave seeing clearly!!!
Thursday, 12 January 2017
I think I may have mentioned that the girls have named their cars. A trait passed down from my mother, and which skipped a generation! Miss Sunshine's car was named Chelsea. Despite not having power windows, she was quite attached to Chelsea. Until Wednesday. Chelsea has been sent off to car heaven under some not-so-pleasant circumstances.
As of today, Chelsea has been farewelled with registration and insurance refunds on their way. Thankfully, Miss Sunshine only has a graze, a bump, and muscle stiffness.
Tuesday, 10 January 2017
I'm still in the process of tidying up my dining room - I'll post before and after photos when I'm content that I'm done. It's one of those projects that seems to be best done in little snatches, rather than exhausting myself to get it all done at once. In the meantime there have been some interesting finds. Or more accurately, rediscoveries of things that had gone missing.
For example I found the glass confectionary jars given to me by a student at the end of my first teaching job. I knew they'd come home and then didn't know where I'd put them. Well...I'm not wondering anymore! I also went through a bag that came out of the boot of my old car. I've had my new car for 15 months now. 🙄
Then I unearthed this little pile of school sports shirts. Our school doesn't have a uniform, except for this one item, to be worn the day the kids do PE and if they are off site for excursions or sports days. Having had three kids wear these shirts over many years, we have had to enough for each of them to wear one in their current size. And then as the kids grew they were replaced, and the too-small shirts handed down. Until finally, Mr Busy, the last one at school, owns one shirt in his current, tall size. The girls have kept the shirt the each had in Year 12.
The five on this chair have been cleared out of Mr Busy's wardrobe over time. These are headed for my brother's girls, who also attend Our School, and who both still have many years ahead of them!