Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas calm

Proof that I'm being very laid-back and calm about the tree that we put up a whole day earlier than scheduled....

Can you find....
  • the pasta-and-cardboard star that was spray-painted with gold?
  • the wooden kinder triangle decoration?
  • the silver star that's about to take a very dramatic dive from the top and possibly hit someone on the scone?
  • the wooden door greeting decoration that's been randomly shoved in amongst the branches?
It's all so festive!  We did decorate to the lovely sounds of a Future of Forestry advent CD.  Regrettably, it did not prevent sibling rivalry and this photo was taken after everyone had been crossly sent to their rooms by their mother for fighting over the musical reindeer antler headbands.

Yep, deck the halls with joy!  It's all happening around here.  How's your decorating going?  Anyone so excited that they've embarked upon outdoor decorating?

12 Days of Christmas

The Concert Pianist sent me this gem the other day...

Friday, November 29, 2013

End of year crazy

Signs that we have gotten to the end-of-the-year crazy:

1. I am letting my pre-schooler spend way too much time in front of the telly and telling myself they'll work him really hard at school next year so it will all even up.
2. I am running the dishwasher with strange items in it and less than scrupulously full because it just needs to be done.
3. My mother-in-law rang my husband this morning to ask if I was working today and he replied truthfully that he had no idea.
4. I heave a huge sigh of relief for every Christmas-related event that gets cancelled due to poor weather (hooray for one less thing!)
5. I keep thinking I've come to the end of the present list and then remembering with a sinking feeling the ones I've forgotten.
6. I'm actually contemplating letting kids decorate the tree entirely without my pedantic supervision to save time (this might be a good thing all round).
7. Yesterday, I used blank envelope mailing labels to stick the wrapping paper on my parents' Christmas present (that must be posted this week) because after 10 minutes of trying to find the sticky tape roll in my seven-year old's bedroom I gave up.  No bones were discovered, however, which shows we are making progress.

There's more.  So much more.  And we are still not even in the advent calendar countdown season.  Please feel free to add some of your own crazy to the list in the comments below.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nothing's working right

Computer disasters.  I'm posting in a brief moment of opportunity when my laptop is talking sensibly to my modem.  The rest of the week they have been in some kind of electronic spat that has left me intermittently isolated from the online universe.  You would think I've used this down time to construct some meaningful posts about the nature of life and the universe.  I haven't.  I've done washing.  Because sometimes it's unavoidable and the people in my household demand clean clothes.

So to make up for that, I've found you cute puppy photos.  Yea, verily, so much cuteness you may just be able to skip dessert for the next week.  Go here.

See.  Told you so.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


A local cat has had kittens in the only spot in the backyard that Honey cannot reach.  Aghghghg!  Frustration.  I suspect it is one of Sparkles kittens now grown and having kittens of her own.  Have to wait till next door comes home to ask them about it.  For now, we have a very frustrated dog (who can see the kittens but not get through a wire fence to get to them) and some very excited children (who have cuddled the kittens and found them adorable).  They must have been there a while - they already have their eyes open.  Sweet but...... I don't want kittens!!!!


The Concert Pianist has lent me her slow cooker to try out.  I'm excited about having a go at two slow cooker recipes this week and getting a feel for whether I want to invest in one of my own.  I've just put on a pineapple chicken recipe.  In the process, I've discovered a side-effect of slow cookers I had not anticipated.  At 11 am on a Saturday morning, the children can already start discussing how much they are going to dislike tonight's meal.  Sigh.  Usually that doesn't start until 4.30 at the earliest.

Friday, November 22, 2013

'Kristallnacht' and William Cooper's protest

Here's a story of protest that I knew nothing about before today but which deserves wider recognition.  'Kristallnacht' is the name given to the coordinated Nazi attack on Jews that occurred on the night of 9 - 10 November 1938.  The brutality was undeniable and it marked a clear turning point in the German treatment of Jews.  It provoked condemnation from governments around the world but the only private protest against this event was made by William Cooper of Melbourne.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Not fair!

Fairness is such a hard-wired concept that even monkeys get it.  Watch for the reaction of the monkey who doesn't get the grape.


Friday, November 15, 2013

The 'invisible' bike helmet

Instead of a bike helmet that messes up your hair, how about a scarf with airbag technology that deploys in the event of a crash?  Really.  See here.

Guess what the checkout chick told me today

Woolworths is planning another round of collector cards at Christmas time.  Haven't said yet whether they will be the same animal cards (with a new folder presumably missing the swear word) or a totally new set.  Either way, it sure to make them extra-extra busy.

MSG is back in vogue?

Apparently, it is!  This article at the Smithsonian gives you a history of the infamous additive and explains how 'umami' is now making its presence felt as a hot new food trend.

What do you think?  Has MSG just been given a bad rap or is it the arch villain of food?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The haircut

There's a saying I heard somewhere that you should never let your mother brush your hair when she's mad at your brother.  Very true.

I'd like to add that you should never let someone cut your hair when they are upset about their daughter's Year 11 subject choices. Made the mistake of mentioning I was a Year 11 teacher. Obviously, she had been bottling this issue up a bit.  And so she started vigorously cutting away and telling me all about the lack of support and cooperation from the school (not mine - another local establishment).  I was making sympathetic noises while watching in a slight panic, desperately wondering if there was anything I could do to slow her down, as my locks disappeared in all directions.

Worst haircut ever.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Albanian blood fueds

This is a bit off the beaten track, but I was reading a really interesting article the other day about Albania's modern blood feuds.  Since the fall of communism, the resurgence of adherence to the ancient law of the Kanun - a 500-year old medieval code of conduct - has meant that up to an estimated 800 children and 1500 families are caught up in blood feuds.  The male children of families can only find sanctuary in their own homes and they remain virtual prisoners for as long as it takes for the feud to be resolved.  Here's a clip about it.

Stuck At Home In An Albanian Blood Feud from Storyhunter on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Pass the tissues, please.  I'm sorry I've been so quiet.  It was a combination of a nasty cold and a hugely busy week.  In short, I had a mountain of things to get done and in between I lay around the house, gloomy and moaning.  My long-suffering husband tended to me kindly while putting up with my frequent complaints about the state of my health and predictions of the end of the universe as we know it.  I have a genetic default towards pessimism at the best of times but give me a decent cold and I can break out into a full-scale case of the Eeyore.  "I have no real friends.  Everyone is no doubt just putting up with me because they are too nice to tell me to get lost."  "This cold will never end.  I will be snotty forever."  "I'm a terrible wife and mother. I don't know why - hachoooooh! - you put up with me at all."  "It's all going downhill.  Nothing will ever be sunny and happy again."  "It's all too difficult.  Too difficult for words."  Thankfully, he is much more of the Christopher Robin type and just chuckles at me and says, "You really are a glass-half-empty kind of gal, aren't you?"  And he makes good tea.
On the mend now.  Life may go on after all.  I might even blog occasionally.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Messy life

The Ministry of a Messy House by Amanda Robbie is a deeply encouraging book.  No, not an encouragement to develop more mess.  And, no, not an encouragement to get super-organized and deal with all the mess.  It's rather a look at the reality of mess in our lives (both the physical and the immaterial) and a reminder to look to grace and not our own super-efforts when dealing with mess.

The Ministry of a Messy House: Grace in Place of Guilt
I really feel like I can't do the book justice other than saying I was so impressed that I bought three extra copies once I'd read it.  It's not earth-shattering or the exposition of some profound mystery.  It's just that it hits the nail on the head so well.  Robbie is a vicar's wife in the UK and I related to lots of the craziness that comes from living next door to a church (ah, memories!).  But it's not focused on ministers' families by any means.  If you are in charge of any combination of home, work, children, ministry or life in general, you will be faced with mess at some point and this book gives a very sane and helpful perspective on how to deal with it without getting overwhelmed with guilt or perfectionism.  It has a lot to say about hospitality and how we work to make our home a place of grace for those living in it and those being invited into it.

I felt...
* a renewed desire to get out there and share my life with others
* a lifting of the burden of guilt for letting the place get messy and failing to be the perfect housewife
* a helpful reorientation as to the purpose of the time I spend caring for my family and my house
* reminded that life - including relationships and church life - is always going to be messy this side of heaven and that God's purposes are not the least bit thwarted by that even if I sometimes feel the whole thing has gone terribly pear-shaped

Terribly, terribly encouraging.  Well, for me anyway.  Maybe it just hit my nail on the head.  But you might like it too!  There's even a couple of recipes in there to boot.  Borrow my copy if you like.