Friday, August 29, 2008

About that dress...

To quote my own comments section:

Alison said...

...Now what about the dress?

Which was in response to:

Bush Babe (of Granite Glen) saying...

...Did you want to mention anything about the Dress here??


Now for those of you not fully in the know, BB is my sister, and we come from a family that don't mind a bit of a wind up - or rather, don't mind being the winder uperers...

That little statement actually means "ha ha ha ha ha" and I would be completely understanding - if I was on her side of the laughter.

  1. I am not really scared of the whole dress thing because I am not the girl who is going to frou.

  2. Its just looks like I am scared because, in the name of all things holy, although I joke about the whole tie-dyed hessian sack thing to all and sundry, I am not really going to do that because
    1. have you ever held hessian sack to your skin - so not comfortable,
    2. I am not sure where I could source hessian sack anyway - all the good feed companies seem to have gone synthetic, and
    3. I don't really know how to tie dye.
    'Salina does (based on her child-care experiences) but I have seen her room and am not sure of the amount of care and attention she would put into the task.

  3. So you do understand, don't you, that the whole frocking up thing doesn't terrify me and send me into a screaming mess when the "what to wear" question arises.

  4. Good. We've got that straight then.

  5. I have no idea at all. There have been several dreams, held both by myself and the aforementioned sibling, and even a few hours dedicated to the task regarding the concept of dress, but as to the actually styled cloth I will be swathing myself on the day, there has been no firm resolution.

So I said to Alison:

Alison - my sister was being a bit of a furphette*

Because my sister obviously knows far more than I do about this bloddy dress.

* Completely made up word as I couldn't work the grammatomically** correct combination of words to explain the dress thing was the furphy...

** Another completely made up word - but it works, doesn't it?

The Joker Card Story

(Cross posted from a forum I am on that asked the question - and because I am absolutely knackered after being a Tuck Shop Martyr).

About the reception venue.

As you know, I am not the girl who spent any time whatsoever dreaming of weddings when I grew up. The closest any planning for future weddings went was joking about it with a friend as to who would get to wear the floral chiffon.

And as you may also know, V and I are laid back - as in almost horizontal - and so the concept of any tizz to the celebration is just like too much and likely to force us to bolt from the field.

However, we have found the greatest spot in the world to get married. It is within walking distance of our house, has parking available, not too public for nosy spectators, not so private it won't be found, the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop but with a bit of a windbreak in case November gets blustery.

I (oh, and V to a lesser degree) have family and friends travelling from far afield the concept of having a party afterwards was always on the cards - I mean, no way I am getting my nearest and dearest on the plane to travel 2000km and then say "well, see ya" after the splice.

We needed somewhere:
  • we could use as an alternative in case of nasty weather;
  • with toilets;
  • with parking;
  • within our budget; and
  • child friendly.

Ideally, it would also:
  • be near enough to our ceremony spot to allow for the carless;
  • have food on hand to save on sourcing a caterer;
  • have drinks on hand to save on licensing issues;
  • be able to hold an expanding list rather than a shrinking one;
  • have outlets for music; and
  • be a relaxing spot.

Plan A was so lovely. The local surf club has a spectacular view, a bar, a fair sized upstairs area and a kids playground outside. Of course, there were no food facilities so would have to get it brought in - and the space upstairs would ensure we would have to work out who we really wanted at the wedding as opposed to who we would just like at the wedding.

It is also run by the local surf lifesaving association - a volunteer run organisation that is fairly dormant April - October but saving lives and fundraising the rest of the year.

Of course, when I wanted to organise, they were in their sleeping phase so didn't answer the phone or emails until I got to tear my hair out harassment phase on Monday.

Unfortunately when they did return my call, it was to inform me that their major fundraiser was throughout November and therefore no can do... (The good news is that it wouldn't have been available even if I had been organised many moons ago!!)

My tendency towards the lackaday hides a great panic mechanism, and its threshhold was tested as I went down the list of possibilities.

The golf club - swank (not us), other end of the town and a separate kids room but have a view and catering available - laughed a lot when they thought I said this November - and then laughed even harder when they found out I was serious. I took that as a no.

Tourist town so plenty of restaurants - who don't do events or functions, thank you very much.

Resort town who do not have any function rooms in their resorts...

Okay, it was almost permissable to panic at this stage.

Then a breakthrough - a restaurant at a resort may be able to help us - they had a conference room near the pool and they could put something together for a small crowd.

So we went to check - by "near" the pool, they meant overlooking and possibly no access. The room and drinks would come to $1000 before food - and their food was a set price of $35 per head but we could only be there for two hours maximum. Eek - no way we wanted to spend so much on so little if you know what I mean. It was waaaay at the other end of town so walking out and I could just taste the stress with kicking everyone out just after they got there.

On the way home, a brainstorm attacked - around the corner from our house is an old-fashioned bowls club - you know the sort - Australian Chinese restaurant at one end, bar at the other, a few pokies, windows overlooking the greens.

I asked and the guy in charge said to call in the morning, but yeah, couldn't see too many problems so long as we hired a green.

So - long story short - we get to have a few games of bowls, an area reserved for however many we want, the lady from the restaurant will make it look nice for us - put flowers on the tables and such - our guests get drinks at club prices (and we are talking extremely low priced drinks) and an all you can eat Chinese banquet. When do we need to be out? - heck, Saturday is their slow night, probably be the only ones in the place but we can party on until midnight if we chose. Do we want music? We could bring a band in if we wanted, and they have the name of a few good cheap musicians. However many people we want, kids are no problems, nothing too much hassle. And for less than 1/2 of what the previous guy was talking! Oh - and no problem using it as an alternative venue if the heavens opened - that would mean the whole club was ours as people don't bowl on rainy days!

So - woo hoo, next hurdle is invitations this weekend...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Joker Trumps...

Remember that grumpy woman who was on briefly this morning?

Not any more.

To all loved ones, related to or otherwise, who were worried about my little stresses - stop.

I played the Joker.

And man do we have the best reception venue!!!

Now a very happy Jeanie is signing off, about to have a homemade submarine sandwich with my honey V.

Conundrum of Olympic Proportions

'Salina has to do an Olympic presentation to her class today.

We She created a bar chart with the medal tally.

She found a picture of Libby Trickett (carrying her pillow) being greeted at the airport. 'Salina is most impressed by the pillow.

She wanted one more bit of information. How many countries in the world competed.

Of the 192 UN recognised countries, only Brunei was not represented.

However, 205 countries did compete.


Move on, move on - nothing to see here

I know that this should be a post about how Plan B turned out to slot into our dreams and, hey, the next 10 weeks will be spent walking on sunshine because I have wrapped it all up.

However, if I said that, I would be lying and I am really crap at that - so I won't.

Of course, if we were willing to spend more on feeding our guests (by a factor of 250%) than we anticipated spending on the whole doggarned shebang, then it would have been a little bit closer - but no, something about being offered a barrel to lie across and no selection of the bullet they would use made us rethink it.

To rub salt into the wound, we ate dinner there and while the food was truly delicious, we then paid for it with the equivalent of half our weekly grocery money.

Sometimes the habits of frugality really ruin an experience.

We still have a few cards up our sleeves - there is a joker and maybe a two I think.

Let me just say that part of the reason that I am sitting here typing at 5.30am is because I have been awake for 3 hours.

I woke up when my sister told me it was the day of the wedding, only it turned out she was joking and I had 2 days. I couldn't work out how I would get a dress, rings, find somewhere in case of a hurricane and send out invitations when there is a limit on what can be withdrawn from the bank in a 24 hour period.

Being awake had one advantage over being in a nightmare, and that is that one can obsess that much better when trying to get back to sleep. It also means that I can obsess about many factors - food poisoning, hurricanes, finances, upsetting people, politics, work, the future, the past, 'Salina's homework, housework, gardening, health, Eddie, V...

I have deleted the rest of this post, because frankly there is only one thing worse than me obsessing about my crap, and that is for me to blog it and just show you what sort of nutcase I am.

Thank you all for your comments on the last post - as this is just such a whinge, I am turning off comments on this one. I know it would be easier if I just concentrated on V, 'Salina and I being happy - see, and there I go on another diatribe I have to delete.

I will resume transmission when I have anything to contribute that does not include sleep deprivation - please instead go to other blogs and read about people who have real issues to deal with.

That is what I intend to do.

(oh, and Alison - thanks for the meme tag - I will address it when I am not addled.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

You may have heard rumours about me organising a wedding.

I was. Well, I still am, really. But I was organising what we dreamed of, and was just waiting for response from the venue of our dreams (speccy views, close to everything, absolutely perfect).

And waiting.

See, the venue is run by a volunteer organisation. One that is rather busy in Summer. One that, therefore, doesn't man their phones or computer or even venue during the Winter.

I tried calling the phone number. The phone number was permanently switched to fax.

I tried emailing them.

Yep - all on hold until we know whether its dream or scramble.

I waited patiently - and then rather impatiently. I tried to find another way of contacting them.

The local council - well, they were willing to google the number for me.

The umbrella organisation? They had the same scant details as I.

Finally I was terse and resent my email and even contemplated the archaic faxing route.

I got a call back from someone most apologetic. With a pinprick she burst our dream wedding.

The good news is it was booked out by them for their own fundraisers - so it would not have mattered if I had tried to organise this wedding in a timely fashion.

The bad news - is that Plan B must be devised - and very smartly. So tomorrow night we swank it up to investigate our alternative.

Our alternative that doesn't have speccy views (but it does have a pool).

Our alternative that isn't within walking distance of our perfect get-wed spot (but it does have onsite catering).

Our alternative that I hope will be perfect enough to get the darned invites out this week because people have already booked their flights and are planning their accomodation - which will no doubt be at the end of town that I dreamed of, not the end where it will be...

Tell me again - apart from the large family and many friends who would be really pissed off with me if I just eloped - and the fact that 'Salina has her heart set on it - why I am letting this whole organising thing get to me?

No stress - after all, still got 10 weeks (and a few days and hours) to go...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Understanding Ads

There are some ads that make you go "huh?" and you spend precious minutes trying to work out why some advertising executive would have pitched and some marketing executive would have agreed to some approaches.

Case in point:

In case you can't be bothered watching it (and really, if you are Australian and saw some Olympics, then you have seen this one 1000 times) - its "The Stalker" ad courtesy of Jim Beam, where a rather attractive woman and obsession fill your screen for 90% of the time, and Jim Beam is the tag line.

And indeed, it has made us go "huh" many an evening so far - but we think we have cracked it...

It is either
  1. advising Jim Beam drinkers that if they ply a pickup with enough of their bourbon, the truth serum will elicit all sorts of truths and they can dodge the bullet of a crazy woman; or
  2. advising Jim Beam drinkers that if they ply a pickup with enough of their bourbon, the truth serum will elicit all sorts of truths and they can finally find the crazy woman of their dreams.

Which, of course, moved us into discussing bourbon drinkers we have known and we discovered that there is the crazy girlfriend common denominator - nice to see that the advertising industry has finally embraced "truth-in-advertising" isn't it?

And then we realised that the crazy girlfriends have all had a commonality also - their boyfriends were nutcases.

Now off to cook Sunday breakfast and work on my new thesis - what alcoholic beverage goes with "looking after other people's children" sort of crazy...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Notes on the child-free night experiment

I know - I am not meant to be here until Sunday, but my goodness the morning is long without a lunch box to prepare and a girl to whip along - and I have to tell you about our child-free night (and day) - well not everything, but the most important bit!

So - where was I - dropped off child, anticipating, quick blog post, set for meeting mother for lunch.

V also had a day off, due to an aversion from taking the food from the apprentice's mounth (actually, told the boss he would let him and the apprentice dig the footings - bit gracious, hey?) and so he and I got to do something we rarely ever do.

After a lovely lunch with Mum we went out shopping.

We had a budget. We were going to look at clothes and ideas and if we fell in love with anything we would lay-buy. (V assured this by "forgetting" to take his wallet. Smooth move there, honey!)

We spent an hour in the main drag.

Went in to my favourite toy store - well, its for grown ups, but oh my it is just like a toy shop - Avenell Bros Gift Store is packed to the rafters with stuff from chef's blocks and saucepan sets to 2m high bird cages. They don't have a website (it would be a full-time job just keeping it up to date on their inventory) so I can't link them (heck, they don't even have email - they have moved forward to fax they told me) but it could soak up a good part of anyone's day. Going in there and admiring the ever-changing merchandise is always a wonderful indulgence.

We also went into and very quickly out of several "boutiques" - I know what I want and no-one ever has anything remote, unfortunately.

Finally got to one large chain who didn't even have a casserole dish to admire (I know, quelle horreur - apologies to francophiles) but did have a clearance rack of clothes. I made a tragic decision to try something on, which basically put a funk over any more clothes appreciation.

We did buy something - incense from the hippy shop is fairly much always a given for us while shopping, but it was a different hippy shop than where we normally go.

By halfway back along the strip we realised that our one hour parking limit would be up and the local council takes infringements of such nature very seriously so we had to vamoose.

We discussed the luxury of the whole evening stretching before us and what we could do with all that time and the possibility of having someone else cook for us as we went to a shopping centre for the next session.

By about 5 minutes into the shopping centre (or "mall") experience, we decided that
  1. it was too long to be in town to wait for a restaurant to feed us,
  2. we could probably put together a better feast than they
  3. that would be exactly what we wanted
  4. for cheaper
  5. (except for the washing up benefit)
  6. and my goodness we are getting OLD!!!

So finally I get to my reason to post - here is the most fantastic pasta dish in the world (without pictures because candlelight doesn't show up well and I was far to busy creating and then eating to think of you - sorry)

  • 1 loaf pasta dura - this is the most yummy chewy bread and can be occasionally found on special at large grocery chains
  • about 1/2 dozen chorizo or interesting sausages with some paprika or yummy european pretensions - we lucked upon checking out a butcher on the off chance, and found out he was "Sausage King" in quite a few divisions and proud of his chorizos
  • eggplant - I heart eggplant!
  • olives - giant kalamatas are generally pretty cheap and go so wonderfully well
  • pine nuts
  • about 300g mushrooms (we used buttons because that is what was available)
  • onion
  • garlic (I used about 4 cloves)
  • capsicum
  • jar of Dolmios Spicy Peppers Pasta Sauce (yes, I know - big time cheating, but it does the job and is a nice little shortcut without that nasty pasta sauce tang)
  • splash of whatever red wine you are drinking
  • italian herbs - if you have fresh basil and someone stupid enough who loves you enough to pick them when it is cold and dark, lucky you - but dried out of the cupboard worked
  • olive oil
  • San Remo Fresh Fettunccine - so much better than dried!!!

So - the moment you get home, slice the eggplant about 3/4" thick and salt it well to sweat it. (Or you could collapse in front of the television news saying how shopping wears you out so much more than a full day of bricklaying, and find someone to love you enough to be joyous in the kitchen while you do so).
Then grab a frypan, very lightly oil it and put in your sausages to fry them on a low heat - we want them cooked through with a soft sizzle, not spitting and splitting.
While that is happening, prepare the veges - as I had visions of a chunky sauce, I just cut the onion into eighths, capsicum into strips, mushies into wedges of sixths and eighths (depending on size), and garlic small as I wanted it smooshed.
Once the sausages were done, I rinsed the eggplant and poured the oil off the pan into a mug. I brushed the eggplant with it and fried it - eggplant is thirsty so will soak whatever oil you offer it, and as I like my eggplant cooked but not soaked I only brushed it just before and just after turning, and cooked twice on each side - the surface gets lightly browned without looking burned and it is cooked through without being adolescent in its ooze. I then sliced the slices into 3/4" strips.
I then toasted the pine nuts lightly in the pan before I got talked into a bigger pan because I always call the pan/ingredients ratio wrong.
The rest of the sausage oil and a dash more olive oil and add the onions and smooshed garlic.
Stir around until just starting to soften and then add the herbs and capsicums.
Add a good dash of red wine as you are refilling your glass - probably about 1/2 a glass full - and stir it around and add the mushies to get full value from the flavour. (Start the pan for boiling water at this point, darling)
Chuck in the rest of the ingredients and stir around - yummy thick sauce.
Oh, I also experimented with a little roasted sweet potato in my mix, but it was such a small amount I ended up with an an extra step for you that I completely forgot - fried it in the sausage oil in discs and then chopped like the eggplant (before I drained the oil off - sweet 'pud just bubbles up with oil rather than having the drinking problem)
Harass your sweetheart into doing the pasta (and try not to question how long it is to boil and has to boil because remember, he survived long before you fell in love with him on more complicated stuff than reading a packet) (and try not to hover over him as he gives your sauce a stir in case he stirs with too much force and breaks up the eggplant) (and try not to get too carried away on extrapolations on other things that his stirring and force could... oh hang on, I am giving you the recipe here).
Anyhow, set the table, light the candles, slice the bread and put out the butter and serve up - mmmmmmmmmm-mMMMMMMMMMMMMM.
This probably should feed about 4 - we had leftovers for V to have for smoke-oh (even though we seriously pushed our stomach limits because it really is THAT GOOD!)
After rinsing off the dishes (where are the staff when you need them) we contemplated the rest of the evening... (then fell asleep in front of CSI Miami because, darn it, we could do WHATEVER we wanted to!)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another Great Excuse Post

Yeah - uh hi, hello - haven't been around here lately, have I? Sorry - you may have noticed an absense of me in your own comments section too.

So here it is.

Once upon a time, a beautiful queen had a celebration for her anniversary of birth. Her children and their loved ones gathered around to honour her and shower her with dreams and gifts.

One daughter visited the centre of commerce and procured 'ovis arian' limbs with which to create a feast.

One daughter created a hearth of beauty and warmth and decorated gaily with flowers and garlands.

One son travelled from afar with tales of his endeavours at festivals in fierce competitions of men against wood.

They mingled together with their families and the evening was good.

Six children streamed around the house, delivering joy and screeches of delight to every corner to be echoed back to the elders.

Upon the morn, the equine lovers gathered at the yard and assisted (by shouting encouragement from their saddles) the men in their endeavours to make large bulls gleam.

Believe me? That is 25% of my excuse so far - then there is...
  • Working on a web page;

  • making great leaps forward on the wedding front;

  • sending my daughter off to an overnight camp for school;

  • contemplating a child-free night; and

  • meeting my mother for lunch.

If any, or all, of these excuses work for you, thank you. I am sorry. I will return soon.

If none do - my goodness, what does it take?

Anticipated date of return to the blogosphere proper?

Well - camp, mother, child-free night, tuck shop duty, do my own web site, softball sign-on, childminding duties - how does Sunday work for you?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Kiss and Tell

Picture this - sweet sixteen.

1985. Sweet sixteen and an absolute dork. A witty dork, sure. A getting fitter (due to being in the up and coming 3rd IV rowing combination) dork, but still un-hourglass shaped, unsexy glasses-ed, un-stylish, uber-academic dork. Sweet sixteen, an absolute dork (checks around to see who is listening) never been kissed.

Now, you know and I know how truly dire such a state of affairs can be to the average sixteen year old girl. I mean I had kissed heaps - there were posters of Paul Young that I had plastered over my walls that will testify to that. But I dreamed of it being real - and without the real Paul Young to assuage my desire, I would have to find a stand-in - and fast.

Because we know there is only one thing worse than being sweet sixteen and never been kissed - and that is reaching seventeen in the same sad state.

Even though I was cloistered at the Red Roof Jail (aka boarding school) I was extremely lucky that the school was not above offering us chances of interaction with the opposite sex. Not many, mind, since so many boys boardings schools had gone co-ed and we weren't talking to them any more, the number of opportunities was exactly one. That one was St B's.

Now, St B's were not in such dire circumstances as us. There were two other girls boarding schools in the area, and they too were limited to St B's for male interaction. St B's had the sort of problems many teenage boys dreamed about (well, except for the being stuck in boarding school that sort of kyboshed a few fantasies, although if the rumours about the matron were true...)

Anyway, as I was saying, a school social was coming up, St B's were coming and I had an unkissed status to strip.

Here was my simple plan.

Exactly - I had none! What I knew about attracting boys would form white on black in a red lit room.

I knew they liked me being funny. I had been funny all my life and boys would flock around. Then they would go and get attractive girls and flock around getting me to make their girls giggle also.

So that ruled out my trump card really.

I knew they didn't like you to be too smart. Made the mistake once of telling one what subjects I was studying and it was instant repellant.

I knew they liked a well-formed figure (which I didn't have), blonde hair (ditto), plucked eyebrows, shaved legs and pits, a bit of bosom (yay - my one asset) and girls who knew what they were doing (I had no clue what that meant) - at least according to Dolly, the magazine aimed at my demographic.

Cleo, the magazine aimed at a few years older also advised that men knew just by the way a woman walked whether she was a virgin - I hoped their younger counterparts wouldn't notice the unkissed bit as easily!

So I did with what I had. I let a hairdresser streak my hair (and tell me, if you ever want to pay for pain, start there - back in the 80s with the cap and crochet hook).

I wore a brown, cream and gold drop-waisted dress that I thought was divine, hid my worst faults (in the way a cardboard box would have) and gave indications that my bosom was there, although not flashing the neons.

I shaved, plucked, made-up and blow-dried like mad to achieve something close to what the magazines advised was "sexy".

I took off my glasses and flew blind, with all of my friends on watch to advise if any boy I danced with were too ugly.

"I Want to Know What Love Is" blared from the speakers and the girls waited for the buses to arrive. Girls of all ages were hanging from dorm windows to catch glimpses of the elusive males, but we, the lucky grade 11s, lined the Hall anticipating 80 Prince Charmings to answer the song for us.

"Better Be Good to Me" belted out Tina, and our prayers were one below hers - let me not be left a wallflower as the phalanx of gorgeous, built 16 year old boys burst into the hall. Well, they were all gorgeous and built according to my unassisted eyesight.

"Say You, Say Me" stirred the boys into action and one by one we were peeled off the wall and enticed to dance.

"Don't You (Forget About Me)" as relevant questions were asked and answered between moves. Name. Where from. What subjects. I knew enough to mumble through that last one.

"Neutron Dance" by the Pointer Sisters. The standard dance for boys was shuffle, shuffle, shuffle from one leg to the other, while sort of shadow boxing with clenched fists - it didn't matter the music, tempo made their shuffle faster or slower but not one deviated.

"We Belong" clap clap. Unpicked girls danced together. Girls bored with the shuffle danced in front of the boys who had asked but with the girl beside them.

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" - a great song but unable to maintain the shuffle, the boy would ask if you wanted a break, a drink, and chance to look around and see if there was anything better offering.

"We Built this City" in the background as I escaped to the bathrooms with a girl I knew slightly who was dancing with his friend. "What's he like" I asked. "Oh" she said. "Cute enough." Which, in girl speak is not exactly hot but unless there is an unclaimed gorgeous one wandering the hall, he will do.

"Take On Me" and every couple on the dance floors were exchanging meaningful glances - I assume. I prayed I was sending the right signals and being sent a few. It is very hard to read a face when you can only see a blurred outline.

"Like A Virgin" and now the night was coming to a close, there was no time to change our minds or partners - just a matter if all this spadework would result in a peck at the end.

"Everytime You Go Away" oh and Paul was playing. I melted into the music and the boy saw whatever signal said "you may touch me" and put his arms on my shoulders.

"Suddenly" and he moved in closer. Okay, close enough I could see he was "cute enough" and given enough detail that when I closed my eyes I would know what face to focus on. I could edit acne scars and make his eyes a little brighter, his brow a little less heavy, give him darker hair and an English accent - oh, who was I kidding, no-one would ever replace my ultimate fantasy.

"I'm On Fire" and the heat generated by Bruce and the boys in the hall brought the houselights up. It was time to say goodbye, to wave those boys off on buses and send us back to the dorms.

We gathered on the steps. Our hands remained entwined and we had the last few minutes without music under the eyes of the boarding misstresses and masters. Murmurs, last call and then I closed my eyes and leaned forward to accept the ultimate gift...

This was written in response to Scribbit's August Write-Away prompt "First Kiss".

Oh, this takes me back. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Today is the first day

of the rest of my life. (Yet another quote courtesy of my dad)

After a start like this:

And a read of this:
Jumping off Cliffs - Peter Got Out of the Boat (thanks Mary)

I am inspired - so the to do list is ready (with several ticks against it) and I am tackling the world!!!

I hope everyone else has had an inspiration of late.

PS - I was going to do Screw Up Tuesday yesterday (coutesy of Bettina at Dances to the Beet of her own Drum), but I screwed up and didn't get around to it - ah, the fallacy of living life without a good to-do...

Monday, August 11, 2008

At Aussie Bloggers today

I have a guest post at Aussie Bloggers today.

Does that give me a get out jail free card?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Post Grapefruit Marmalade Post Ramble

I promise you, much shorter than the first!! Well, the marmalade making bit will be, anyhow.

For a start you are meant to soak the fruit from the previous post overnight. Due to my amazing time and motion management (and some persuasion from V not to embark on marmalade making post 'Salina's bedtime - something to do with wanting to spend quality time with me or something). Therefore I stretched the definition for overnight to over two of them.

For a second start, you are not meant to have a screw loose - in your glasses, that is, on the day you are to marmalade.

Therefore you are not meant to be scrounging around looking for rarely worn contact lenses so you can drive in to town to get your glasses fixed.

So rarely worn, in fact, that I had no idea what script is for what eye. The way I generally determine is trial and error.

Of course, being of some Scottish heritage, I had to use up a pack of the old script before I even contemplated the newer, stronger variety languishing in my dresser.

Therefore all trials and errors were slightly cockeyed, not reflecting my current glasses strength. So skewed, in fact, that when I dropped one of them it required both 'Salina and I on our knees using the "palms across the tiles" technique to try and find it.

It was on the mirror.

Anyhow, I did end up being technically not blind (but slightly startled looking from this side of the view) and did the shopping.

Forgot the glasses so will have to continue the contacts experiment for the next two days. Eeek!

Forgot to get new saline solution, so will either disprove a theory about expiry dates on bottles OR have to de-Scot myself and break out the new contacts sooner rather than later...

But you aren't here for such trivialities - you are here for grapefruit marmalade.

(I know - no cute grapefruity photos this time - something about rechargeable batteries that mean they require charging every so often, which would be NOW - which would be achieveable if I could find the darned camera)

Take out your cauldron largest stock pot and pour in the fruit and water mixture you have had in the downstairs fridge over(two)night(s). Bring to the boil and simmer until it is tender.

The time required for that would equate to about eating lunch, clearing up, playing a game in the living room with your child, thinking about napping and suddenly remembering the pot. And voila (insert mental photo here) - tender fruity stuff.

The next instruction is add cup for cup sugar. I had so much I made that jug for jug. And when I ran out of sugar (yeah, I thought 3kg would be enough but I thought wrong) I added every other variety of sugar I could find.

(Well, no, that was for dramatic effect. I added another 1/2 jug of raw sugar).

Bring back to the boil and simmer until it reaches setting stage.

Or, in my case, turn up the stove to where you think it will boil.

Then turn up the stove a little more to where you think it will boil.

Then turn up the stove a little more to where you think it will boil.

Then turn down the stove to where you think it will maintain a boil.

Then turn up the stove a little to where you think it will boil again.

Then turn up the stove a little more to where you think it will boil again.

Then make placatory gestures to your partner and child who really want your sunny presence when they attack the yard.

Then turn up the stove a little more to where you think it will boil.

Then turn down the stove to where you think it will maintain a boil.

Continue this until you are as frustrated as bat$hit and contemplate life.

Remember how jam making was with Grandma. As good as she was at chopping fruit, she did have one annoying habit during the process.

See, Grandma was the most wonderful, gregarious, entertaining, scatty woman. Unfortunately in her latter years, the scattiness became more pronounced and got a definition placed on it. Before that, we could put it all down to her just being Grandma - after that, we had Al in mind.

So, about 15 years ago I spent a few months in the company of my Grandma at my parents and part of that time was just me and her. We created our own jam making label - "Jeanie'n'Gran's" - but really, it was therapy for both of us.

The downside of jam making with Grandma was that the moment anything approached boil on the stove, she would turn it off fearing it burning - this from a woman who stewed tea on her own for sixty years - and the key to making jam is getting that nice sweet boil to setting stage.

Anyhow, I have patience issues, so only time will tell if my 7 bottles of marmalade really passed the setting stage test or whether I just imagined a wrinkle on the surface of my test saucer.

So the recipe in entirety:

Grapefruit Marmalade
  • 2lb grapefruit before slicing
  • 3 pints water
  • 1/2 pint lemon juice

Slice grapefruit. Add juice and water. Soak overnight.

Boil until tender. Add cup for cup of sugar. Cook until gels. (According to my notes, about 3/4 hour for this quantity).

And this is a picture of 'Salina being something she saw on a David Attenborough documentary - because its nice to have a picture...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Inaugural Grapefruit Marmalade Post


Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, Jeanie's father planted grapefruit trees in a creekbed on his cattle property.

He did this for many reasons.

Foremost, if there is ever such thing as a Grapefruit Marketing Board they should go no farther than my father for testimonials.

He swears on the health-giving properties of this bitter, bitter (think your average bitterness of a storebought lemon and multiply by ten - and then ten again) cat-bottom bitter fruit.

He claims it cleansed his blood when he was a teen and enabled him to emerge from adolescence hale, hearty and handsome (I have seen pictures - could be something in that).

He claims that he never gets any lurgy due to its prophylactic qualities. Well, actually, he doesn't use high-faluting (or suggestive) words, but it actually means "wards off illness" so suck on that, Google searchers looking for things other than bush cures for the common cold!!

As he has never had a negative thought in his adult life, it must also be the breakthrough in mental health we have all been searching for.

In fact, if everyone listened to my father, the world would be a healthier, happier, grapefruitier place.

And as I only sporadically listen to my father, I shall have to settle for a sporadically healthier, happier, grapefruitier life.

This week is definitely the grapefruitier kind.

Last weekend, while I was busy playing with bushbabe's computer, Grandpa got to play with 'Salina, Dash and TLW.

One of their "fun things to do with Grandpa" was picking grapefruit. This is necessary, as those trees planted oh so very long ago are prolific and bountiful at this time of year. So prolific and bountiful, in fact, that if they are not harvested then sixty cows boycott the water facility due to the essence of grapefruit tang that taints the tank.

As they had no receptacle reciptacal bucket, they picked them and threw them into the back of the ute.

In the back of the ute, you will often find crowbars, wire, toolboxes, motors, dogs and, on occasion, small children.

(According to V, you should also always find a rake in there - to get the disintegrating grapefruit that have managed to get into the tank out - he has been on a grapefruit harvest with my father in the past. He also mentioned barbed wire and wasps. The kids didn't mention them - or a rake. I wonder if my father took advantage of lightweight grandchildren - they would be the ones that are NOT my daughter - and dangled them across the tank for that purpose, or if he had a rake?)

Add many loose grapefruit (my tower here plus the half-dozen I left for my father's eating and the couple I chucked) to this mix.

Drive the said ute across paddock roads - the latter term is sort of the equivalent of cattle tracks but two parallel ones - in the style of a cattleman whose mantra is "time and motion" for half a day. Leave it in the open overnight. Take it for another paddock trip, this time with the driver having a 6 year old on her lap and half a mind on the photos, an 8 year old changing gears and a toddler and goddess shrew sister holding on to the passenger door - from the inside, thank goodness - the next day before getting the same children to bag them and you can see what a pristine operation harvesting really is.

And, indeed, the resultant fruit has a lot going for it - in fact, with the world price of crude oil, they may even be more valuable than my father can mention.

This is why I chose to wash the fruit I was going to marmalade very well. Whenever people say "what is the difference between marmalade in jam?" the best answer is "the skin" - which, as far as I know is the right answer. I always find if I say things with a certain air of authority they will believe.

Of course, that was about where my preparations ended yesterday, because although I had thoughtfully bought sugar for the marmalade in my mind, I had overlooked that lemon juice was a key ingredient.

So I drafted off what I thought was about 6x the recipe (in case I felt like doing bulk marmalade when I got the lemons) and juiced the rest. We now have 3.5 litres of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice in fridges and freezers to tart us up over the next few days!

Today I got the lemons. As the amount of lemon juice I could squeeze would determine the amount of marmalade I am going to attempt today, I saddled up to squeeze them.

I won't go into my day prior to this point - let me just leave it at buying the lemons being just one of the large hurdles I had to overcome to get to this point - and each were as convoluted and bitter as the lemons.

Hmmm - I just heard my father's voice saying something medicinal about grapefruit...

Hot water, sugar, pure grapefruit juice, water, Gloria Hippo glass, sip, cat-bottom mouth, instant mental fortification.

Lookee - that one sip and I was able to squeeze 5 lemons - well, me and my Molineaux.

Lets see - 6 x the recipe = 6 x 1/2 pint = 3 pints required...

Darn - even accounting for parallax error, there doesn't look to be nearly 2 x the recipe quantity there, does there?

That equates to needing only 4 pounds of sliced grapefruit required. Sure, that sounds like a lot - until you chop up one of these beggars. Here is a smaller one...

Note my attention to detail - which one looks better?

There we go - 1 sliced grapefruit = more than 1 pound - and I have over 9 of these beggars behind me.

Of course, at that point of the preparation my hands got covered in grapefruit goo, so just assume I chop and chop and chop and chop and chop and chop and - you know, its moments like these I miss my grandma. For lots of great reasons, but mostly because when I was looking after her when she was quite elderly I could pass this task off on her and she would chop and chop and chop and her little chops would be so fine and neat and we could laugh together and she would berate me for being an oaf chopping so chunky and I could slide a bit more to her side of the board and she would just chop and chop and chop so fine.

Can you tell my hands are too gunky to take shots of the further 2 grapefruits required to make my 4 pounds required - these certainly are not delicate little fruit.

So therefore the next shot is the finished product - or rather, the finished product for today. I did mention this was just part one up there, didn't I?

Oh well - in this hugest plastic container I could find, there are 2 pints (or nearish) of lemon juice, 4 pounds of sliced grapefruit and 6 pints of water. Well, it could be 5 and a bit pints of water - I lost count - or it could be 6 and a bit.

That is what my cooking is all about, really - precision.

Leave it to soak overnight, and I will post the rest of the recipe as I do it tomorrow.

Prelude to a Post

Correct answer gets to name the outcome.
Guess what this is:

Oh - was that too blurry? First to point that out gets to buy us a new camera.
Is this any better?

Or this?

The "what I do with it post" is yet to be finalised.

Or started really. I have contemplated and pondered it at length however.

Of course, if I don't get it finished straight away, I can always show you what my loved ones did with these...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Brilliant - me! me!

Lookee what Brissiemum2 gave me - isn't it pretty?

Here are the guidelines:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

But I have far too many brilliant blogs to gorge myself on contemplate - how to whittle them down?

And then I remembered my latest statcounter visit - and while none of these ladies are directing quite as much traffic as the Asian p0rn site that has me on their blogroll (yep - go figure) they are the most prolific in hitting on me - hang on, that came out wrong, didn't it?

Anyhow, here are the chosen 7:

1. Me & Boo - I actually know this lady from another internet connection since before Boo, and I love how she and her little darling are blossoming in blogland.

2. Bush Babe - as you know, I have known this lady for a looooong time, too!

3. Three Ring Circus - things are, as my father would say in his backhanded way, fair to middling in the 3RC household at the moment, and I do not want to tear anyone away from any hospital beds, but I truly think Tiff is fairly brilliant on so many levels.

4. Our Great Southern Land - Jayne's computer is likewise laid up at the moment, but she does her best to keep us amused and informed on the wierd and wonderful history of this land (and the neighbours)

5. Big Little Sister - Melody is soon to be heading South from her far Northern paradise, and she has taken me on many beautiful trips over the time I have been reading her blog.

6. Jumping Off Cliffs - Mary is someone I met through my sister's blog. I still don't know where the Ozarks are, but I am keen to find out.

7. Penseive - Robyn really does her best to interact and involve her readers! Mind you, I am still no wiser on her latest mystery.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake

Waay back when I began this blogging malarkey, I wrote a post called Baked Blog where I offered recipes for not one BUT two of my staple indulgence foods.

Over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks there is an emphasis on dairy this month including a competition for a recipe using milk, cheese and/or yoghurt. Apparently there is some mention of health in there also.

As I only ever got 2 comments on the original post, I am going to redo the Kolaca a'la Baka on this post for you all to drool over. Of course, you will have to drool in your imagination, as I am much better but don't have any chocolate in the house have housework to do - which is why I can't make it today. ha - believe me if you will, but lack of chocolate is the only thing holding me back.

So here it is - an almost direct transfer from the original post with updated comments from the peanut gallery. The health benefit of such a recipe should be immediately apparent - it is extremely beneficial to your mental welfare, you have to invite friends around to help you eat it and good friendships are great for your health AND if you make it in your imagination, it can be considered exercise.

So, courtesy of my (to try and minimise the explanations) Croatian mother-in-law, Biscuit Kolaca.

Biscuit Kolaca
  • The cream (or "mortar")
    • 1 litre milk
    • 8-10 tablespoons plain flour
    • 5-6 tablespoons sugar
    • 60-70g butter
    • ½ block dark chocolate
    • ½ block milk chocolate
    • 1-2 tablespoons imitation rum
  • The layers (or "bricks")
    • 1-2 packs of milk coffee biscuits (rectangular plain biscuits of any variety)
    • Cup of milky coffee (instant is fine)
  • The topping (or "render")
    • ½ block dark chocolate
    • ½ block milk chocolate
    • 1-2 tablespoons milk
    • 1 tablespoon butter

As my paper instructions are very brief - and a little stained - I will translate as best I can.
  • Mix together milk and flour on lowish heat on stove until thickens – about when your spoon leaves tracks (I am making this more detailed than her notes, I swear!)
  • Take off heat and add rest of cream ingredients. Refrigerate for a few hours.
  • When mixture is cooled, make a cup of milky coffee and let cool to blood temperature.
  • Line a baking pan with alfoil.
  • Quickly dip individual biscuits into coffee, spread with the chocolate mixture and layer in baking pan. It makes no difference how creative you are with your biscuit layering – the coffee “opens” the biscuit to soak in flavour and the choc mix sort of melds in and you end up with a 4-6 layered block.
  • When you have run out of your bricks or mortar, melt the remaining chocolate then mix in milk and butter and pour over the top.
  • Refrigerate overnight.
  • Slice and serve – very rich and very delicious.

Warning: If you haven't put weight on reading this recipe, you may do so eating the offcuts! Slice about 1cm x 5cm slices with a hot knife and it will be eaten like wildfire!!!

Oh - and for those of you concerned about my health - much better, obviously, if I am thinking of food (although still not 100% if you consider that I am finding brickie terms humerous)...

I am making Chocolate Squares (the other recipe in the original post) this afternoon for 'Salina and GDR (who gets to spend the WHOLE AFTERNOON with us).

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Surrender is the best policy

Well, I am much haler and heartier than yesterday.

I rang the doc - and got a cancellation at 11.30am - my luck was running!

I rang the place where my major bills were due - I could do them online!!

I went to tuckshop and bossed the convenor around some!!!

I went to the doc and she told me that my method of getting through the dreaded lurgy (ignore it, positive thinking, looking in the medicine cabinet for inspiration and ignoring anything that tasted too yucky) was what she generally prescribed, and to just steal someone else's puffer if I gasped too much. Too bad she couldn't write a script for time, because that is what she ordered. Oh - nearly forgot exclamation points!!!!

I did work stuff, sent invoices and put 4 loads of washing through machine and dryer!!!! !

I palmed my child off on a friend and glammed up (and so did V) and we saw some beautiful work by Rhondda Scott at the local University campus. Oops - here they are !!!!!

While waiting to say our farewells there, met lots of interesting folk - including people who run a "child-free resort" and a lady who organises weddings - ha ha, maybe the universe sent me there for more than artistic pursuits!!!!!!

Got back to babysitters by 9, home by 9.30, child in bed by 10 - thinking about what to have for dinner and OMG we only have very limited hours before tomorrow... I know, rest is what you all said - so I did forgo a late main meal, and considered the 3 sushi and other nibblies at the show dinner.

Up at 6.30 and somehow it took until 9 to get a car packed, a child ready and us out the door to go see my sister.

In fact, you can go and see the rest of my day at her place. Actually, don't - apparently she is putting some unflattering photos up, and although I have made her trim my tuckshop arms she has not botoxed my hands enough and used a shot of my 80 year old grandmother instead of my unblemished face so don't go there. Go here and laugh at stupid people.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Okay, I give up

Do you know what I am going to do today?

Call the doctor.

I know people from near and afar have been singing that tune for nearly two weeks now, but I truly thought I was getting better. I WAS getting better. In fact, I would have assessed my health yesterday at 5 as being 85% of the way towards getting better.

Do you know what that narky 15% of "not better" did last night.

It kept me awake.

It forced me to sit up in bed (I am a one flat pillow sleeper). It made me lie on my back (I normally cuddle that pillow on my tum).

It made one tiny spot on the back of my throat force me to cough - and then it got the lungs to squeal in sequence and make that cough into a cough-and-cough-and-cough-and-cough.

Then it would lull me into a false sense of stupidity security and make me think it was over, I could try to sleep, ha ha ha ha bloddy ha. Nearly asleep yet? Wham - lets play that sequence all over again.

It got to a point that I gave up on even trying to think I was going to get to sleep, because it was pointless. That didn't really help matters, because the cough sequence didn't care if I was trying to sleep or not. It just waited until I seemed to relax.

Now the next two paragraphs (after this one) (I counted them) will be TMI and I won't be offended if you sing "la la la", close your eyes and scroll down further. I will be peeved if you click the little black x but hey - its a free world and statcounter doesn't tell me who leaves my pity party early. It will possibly be so layered in euphemism anyway because I am not often a TMI girl.

Now, for those who aren't squeamish, who have birthed one (or more) childrens who hit the 8 pound or over mark and who are nodding their head in anticipation - you KNOW how there are just some things you cannot relax about when you have coughing lurgy.

I know - if you did your Kegels earnestly from the moment of conception to the pain-free, drug-free perfect birth that this does not apply to you - or if you are a Singapore dancer - but some women (and no-one is EVER admitting that it may be them) thought they Kegelled at enough red lights to get a pass found that there are some moments in time - generally accompanied by a cough, a sneeze, or an attempt to jog - where you should have Kegelled stop signs and ceasared two months early just so certain muscles wouldn't get temporary amnesia at crisis moments.

So combine coughing attacks designed to leave me gasping, sleeping positions more suited to wakes, sleep deprivation without the bonus of a screaming infant AND being smited for clenching 29 times a day rather than 40. Is that picture painted clearly enough?

So what do you do when you have all these factors combining? Well, you start thinking about what other carpy aspects of your life you can grind your mind over.
  • Work and money issues? Piece of cake.
  • Funny way other people of the P&C look at each other during meetings? Check.
  • Wearing pretty clothes marked "lingerie" to a dinner party as a child? Oh, its always good to throw into the mix.
  • Twenty years of inappropriate choices in men, careers, flatmates? Oh, I know they are good to laugh at while in the mood, but so nice to use as screws in self-torture.
Heck, even god got a trot last night it was such a widely cast net!

So all up it was a happy hacking clenching wrenching writing pity party. It sucked.

Wehn I awoke this morning (because I must have drifted off between the girl screaming at her boyfriend's car out front and V rising for work) my head was pounding, my coughing attack renewed like it had never been away and I made the monumental decision that perhaps I would seek medical attention. I give up. Taking vitamins, pretending I am getting better, looking at the other medicines - its just not working.

Admitting it caused V to look at me with pity. He knows how much I cling to my pretence at stoicism.

I made my daughter treat me with extra care this morning. She gave me a special seat on her imaginary boat to take me to the doctor, where she gave me cough lollies, sat me down, made me vegemite toast (I must say she is getting better at this) and was an angel. I wish I could appreciate it more.

So - off to track down a doctor who will see me some time today. Then peg out 2 loads of washing, finish one little job, send off three invoices, go and do tuckshop paperwork (I know, but Friday is double any other day of the week in TS and noone else volunteers) (I won't point myself towards any food), go to town, pay bills, get mail, hopefully see a doctor, pack for the weekend, get gussied up, feed daughter, drop her at a friends, network at an art gallery opening (while holding my breath, I guess) dragging V, collect 'Salina, come home and I hope to goodness get a better night's sleep.