Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Genuine Thank You

Image via Pinterest

This is blog post 100. Seriously, my One Hundredth Blog Post. Momentous.

When I started I was hella nervous, thinking that no one would read my crazy shit or worse, that someone would. What if I was boring? What if I alienated people with my rudeness? What if people hated my swearing or sarcasm? (yeah, right) What if someone judged me, badly?

Well, all of that has happened in these past 99 posts, & honestly? I don't give a flying fuck!

Some people have unfollowed me & really, I was OK with it. Blogging has made me a stronger person, & I'm proud to say that I don't need to be liked by everyone in the blogoshere. This isn't just a big Eff You to everyone, what I am saying is that there really is room in the whole of planet blog for everyone - everyones likes & dislikes, interests & hobbies, passions & pet subjects. Everyones point of view.

I am happy to say that some people like what I write, some people love my swearing, some people are not alienated at all. Some people (who I love love love) follow my blog, & some leave lovely &/or interesting comments. I am continuously delighted with how friendly, supportive & encouraging other bloggers are. It's been like stumbling into a giant secret club where everyone is genuine in their friendship & generous in their support. I wish real life was more like this, to be honest!

I wanted to pass on my thanks to some people. No, there is no award, or badge, or meme. You don't have to pass on your thanks to  15 or 7 bloggers of your choosing. This is just me, saying a genuine thank you.

Danielle & Danimezza, Thank You for  Hello Blogger Events & organising meet ups. I can't tell you how much I love these get togethers, & how much they have widened my blogging perception.

Tina Gray at PR Friendly Aussie Blog Directory Thank You for creating a blog directory that has not only taught me some excellent blogging skills, it has enabled me to receive products for review  & giveaway.

Brenda at Digital Parents Thank You for being so encouraging when I first started, because it absolutely meant the world.

Melissa at Suger Coat It, Thank You for being so full of ideas & inspiration, & thank you for being so friendly. I recently told Melissa that she was my go-to girl for blogging actualisation inspiration, & I meant it. Also about the girl crush. Meant it!

Bree at The Blog Stylist, Thank You for providing notes for Blogopolis. I was jelly mad that I wasn't actually there, & your notes have allowed me to workshop the out takes, so to speak. One day soon I hope to actually apply those great ideas...

I could go on for ages (because my blog roll sits at around 300, did you know that was the Blogger limit? Of course you did)  Please don't be offended if I haven't mentioned you  - this really is to every blogger who has encouraged or appreciated me, offered advice, taken the time to read my blog & say something to me, I just want to say Thank You.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Aaaaargh it's Monkeyboys Birthday

So, the day of Monkeyboys birthday was overcast but miraculously almost rain free. Mr I'm a Big Boy Now! had a fabulous breakfast of hash browns, rice bubbles & strawberries (the current fave) after the frenzied excitement of opening presents. It was a school day, so he got to spend the whole day playing with the remote control truck, the hot wheels parking station & the Harry Potter wands unbothered by his brother, who had to go to school, heh heh.

We wanted a fairly low key birthday party - memorable & fun but not overdone at all. Poor cherub hadn't had a party before, so the bar was already low, & I know from experience that the bar will get pretty high soon enough. Most of Monkeyboys friends are the younger brothers & sisters of The Gentlemans friends, so there would be 2 age groups attending. They are all lovely kids, & it's nice that they will all get to go to school together.

Monkeyboy waits excitedly for his guests to arrive. You can see I went all out with the decor. OK, don't be so harsh - there where two of these flags, & they are actual pirate flags, from a boating supply store. I plan on making them into cushions.

The younger ones getting some air on the trampoline. That girl at the back, levitating in the stripy pirate dress, is Monkeyboy's sweetheart. Every morning at school assembly they are sitting around with their arms around each other, it's very cute. Sometimes he whispers I love you; & sometimes she whispers stop touching my hair.

I had made paper swords that where a big hit with all age groups. I've made them before & they stand up to a bit of roughness without actually hurting anyone too badly. The tutorial is over at this excellent blog, if you would like to make them - they are super easy & lots of fun for small pirates. This site is chock full of awesome craft projects for children, it's one of my favourites.

I also made eye patches which where simple black felt shapes machine stitched onto black elastic. I bought the cranky old machine out of retirement & bullied it through 18 fricken eye patches & no one wore them. Not a hit at all. If you would like one, please say so & I will send one to you. I have quite a few left over....

I wanted a pin the tail type game that was pirate themed, so I googled for ideas & this came up - paint a treasure map, blindfold the pirates & give them a crayon to mark an X on the treasure. This was pretty popular with everyone getting a prize - the closest getting 'peices of eight' (8 chocolate coins in a cellophane bag) & the others getting a toy eyeglass ' help them see better'. Do you like my map? I painted it on butchers paper,  using acrylic paint in burnt umber to try for that faded, authentic look, & painted most known sea hazards - angry mermaids, Humboldt squid, sharks, dragons, as well as island hazards like quicksand, haunted graveyards, deserted houses, mysterious caves..I used this book for map inspiration.

Google also came up with 'pin the eye patch on the pirate' & suggested using a poster of Captain Jack Sparrow. Alas, if only I had one spare...

The shark pinata was a big hit. Here is The Gentleman getting blindfolded, ready to kill that shark. It worked out really well in that every kid had a go & got a hit, & the last kid hit an absolute pearler that smashed it to smithereens! Very exciting.

Besides lollies from the pinata & treasure map, food included regular party pies & sausage rolls, chips, dips & crackers, fizzy drink (a big treat in this house) & wine for the mums (not so unusual...) There was also blue jelly's in cups with a shark lolly which I almost forgot to put out. The cake was red velvet/vanilla layer cake with butter frosting, & a pirate picture in royal icing. The cake was delicious but the icing could have been better executed - oh well, keeping it real over here at Casa Chaos.

The turd burger sewing machine needed a bex & a lie down after the eye patches, so pirate swag bags where bought at the party shop & generously filled with lollies. That machine better get it's act togethor for The Gentlemans Disco Extravaganza in November, I'm telling you..

This is my favourite picture of the day - a little blurry, just like my eyes. Monkeyboy truly had a wonderful birthday, fun & memorable, full of laughter & friends. Not overdone at all.


Did I mention I love glossy magazines?

Maybe once or twice? Well last week rocked because these are the magazines that I got totally wet with my drool perused.

Oh be still my beating heart
Ikea Catalogue
Are you thinking Oh what a dumb arse, doesn't she know that is a free catalogue, not a real magazine?? Well of course I know, & that is why I love it so much! I am always excited to see this in my mail box because it is such a thick, glossy substantial, inspirational...omg rambling now....hello it is IKEA. And boy do I want a new kitchen. This magazine catalogue is like crack for me right now. CRACK, people!

ABC Gardening Australia
The nice people at ABC Gardening Australia sent me this magazine for review because they knew;
  1. I am a slut for free magazines
  2. I am passionate about recycling in my garden.
  3. I am about to replant my vege garden for spring
  4. All of the above
Did you answer 4? Well give yourself a Tim Tam (or Oreo, hello USA!) because you are 100% correct. The articles that I loved in particular are;
  • Maggie Beer Growing Oranges, she also has some yummy Maggie Beer recipes;
  • Trash the Trash which gave me some genuinely brilliant new ideas like packing compostable scraps into recyclable cardboard boxes & burying these parcels in the vege garden, or where you intend to plant a tree. I love this idea because my compost bin is full, but not yet ready to use..
  • It also has a great article about the flowers at the recent royal wedding - I'm not so much a royalist but I was very interested in the language of flowers section of that article. What I also love love love about this magazine is that it has detailed information about planting region by region.

That is totally me, doing my bit on the Food Front. No, not that girl saying 'I carried the watermelon'.

The only place I could find this recipe on the net was here, hello fellow blogger!

Better Homes & Gardens
I bought this because A; I like to watch the Better Homes & Gardens show on Friday night but can rarely hear it over the screeching sound that embodies the monkey house I live in, & B; it came with a kick arse goodie bag on pack promotion if you bought it from a Woolworth's Supermarket, which is where I spend half my life. I love that this magazine has a monthly gardening by the moon section, besides being useful information it validates my witchy the-old-ways-are-the-best-ways leanings. This month also had a feature on Asian noodles, which inspired me to cook this. Deconstructed of course because that's how we roll.

Pasta, sauteed seafood, fresh rocket, tomato cucumber salsa,
a sweet ketciap manis based dressing & optional chili sauce.

Elle Decor US edition
This is my favourite magazine of all time. No lie. I have what seems like several hundred back issues that I will not part with, for any money. Don't try & give me the UK version, not interested. I only love the US edition. I luuuuuuuurrrrrrrrve it. I love the celebrity homes, I love the style details that seem to showcase products that we never see here, I even love the advertising. This month I especially loved that the price was reduced to $6.95 as it is normally double that, even with the freaky exchange rate lately, also I suspect because it was the July/August edition (don't know how I missed that, must have been too excited to notice small details). It is completely aspirational escapism, & I love it. (did I mention that?) I wanted to jump into the pages & live at this farm.

Go look at the other photos
So, addiction much? Tell me what magazines you can't live without.

* Disclaimer - ABC Gardening Magazine is the only magazine I received as a review copy for this post. All words & opinions, good, bad or snarkily sarcastic are completely mine. Ikea, Better Homes & Gardens, & Elle Decor have no idea I love them, sadly.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Greetings Wally* Watchers

At 8pm the night before the book week parade I started making a Where's Wally costume. I had a great plan & all the materials I needed - 2 long sleeve Tshirts in red & white. Thats all. What could go wrong?

I laid the inside-out shirts directly on top of each other, carefully matching up the seams. Using only my eye, & no tape measure, I start cutting strips through the shirts. My eye is generally pretty good, don't worry.

 Looking good! No turning back now...

 Remove alternate pieces of shirt so that you are left with a striped shirt,
 that simply needs it's stripes joined togethor. Easy peasy!

 Make sure you keep enough left over material to make up a hat..

On to the sewing machine........

Holy SHIT Batman, is that really the machine you are going to use??
I know you just made 18 eyepatches** on it the other day, but look at it!

Can you guess that this is where my plan fell down?
It got through half a stripe & then shat itself.

Refused to go on.

Fucking mole.

So I armed myself with fortifications, & prepared to get down
 with a few hours of handsewing.

Clearly I am determined to live up to my coffee mug.

 Only a few hours later, Ta Daa!!!

All worth it.


*Or Waldo, if you prefer. Does he have a split personality or a twin, separated at birth? Hmm, a mystery for Wizard Whitebeard to answer.

**Monkeyboy's pirate birthday party. Post to come.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Scheduling my to-do list

Please note this post is not instructive.

It is my habit after the school run/morning walk to sit with a coffee & organise the rest of my day. I have often been critisized for scheduling too much into the time available, thereby either a; not achieving my objectives & feeling the associated angst, &/or b; utelising my middle management* delegation skills & becoming a very hard taskmaster/bitch.

Whatevs, I think you have to show up for your life. If you don't plan things they won't happen. You can't 'find' time, you can only manage it. Yadda yadda, sure.......but all true.

Associated angst? Being a stay at home mum has forced me to (thankfully) embrace a relaxed attitude to running a tight schedule, so forget that. Not feeling guilty, just enjoying my coffee (& also better health, thanks), while I redistribute the uncompleted points from the to-do list to other days in my diary. And those delegation skills? No one to delegate to, sadly, so no chance there.

I tell you this because I have a bit on at the moment. This weeks list is spilling over into next week, which is already full. Highlights are;

Monkey Boy is having a small birthday party on Monday;
  • grocery shop for party food & provisions
  • make lolly bags (fabric pirate swags out of stash, tutorial coming)
  • make felt eyepatchs
  • make paper swords, spraypaint cardboard hilts gold
  • paint treasure map for pin the tail game variation
  • wrap pass the parcel
  • make party food, including layered pirate cake
  • source & fill an appropriate piniata
  • take photos & blog about it all

Play with my router
Back in March, I was given a router for my birthday, which was Yay! Awesome! I have finally gotten around to using it & am loving it - I am turning all available scrap timber into coatracks & shelving with beautiful routed edges. I love creating these so much I may have to have a market stall to get rid of them. Also, need to take photos & blog about it.

Make a Where's Wally costume for The Gentleman to wear at next Thursday's book week parade. At his request.
I've bought 2 long sleeve shirts in white & red that I plan on cutting up & sewing back into a striped formation, using the scraps to make a beanie. My major concern is that the only day I have to do this is also the day I am scheduled onto tuck shop duty. Also, I haven't actually sewn anything on the sewing amchine for um....not quite a decade, surely? Fuck. This has the potential to be an epic fail & I have no back up plan. But I will take photos & blog about it.

Projects on the go
  • I am turning an ugly sofa bed into a single bed sized ottoman, which is a long held dream & going really well. I am up to the upholstery stage. Tutorial to come.
  • Refinshing/reupholstering a mid century arm chair, which is coming along, you know....
  • Clean up, relayer & replant the vege garden.
  • Overhaul half of the front yard, plant fruit trees, find ground cover for underneath trampoline.
  • For heavens sake start a yoga class & stop re-fucking-scheduleing it.
  • Take photos & blog about these, & the other 15 projects not listed.

Projects on the 'backburner'
These are projects that have no hope of fitting into anyone's schedule for a while.
  • Renovate the kitchen. I live in hope that this will happen this year, you can guage just how much hope by the fact that it is just a point in a sub header. Sad face.
  • Freshen up the laundry. I have more faith in this, but it's not a major job.
  • Update the loungeroom - refinish a section of floor/replace all horrible blinds with nice timber slats/install some lovely curtains on one wall/replace boob light with a small chandelier.
  • Build a deck along one side of the house, replace windows on this wall with second hand french doors.
  • Refurbish fishtank: turtles!!
  • Who are we kidding here there is a notebook crammed with these projects.
  • Take photos & blog about it all.

Are you sensing a theme?

image from here
* Is there any position more redundant (in all ways) than 'middle management'? I think not.

Friday, August 12, 2011

This week in the Chaos household...

One of the guinea pigs died. We found her lying stiff at the bottom of the cage one morning. I'm not sure what killed her but we have had some very cold nights lately.. We gave her a proper burial attended by all of the chaos family, but not the remaining 2 guinea pigs who really where only interested in eating, as usual.  

This is her grave transforming the garden into a Pet Cemetery. We said some words of thanks for being such a lovely guinea pig, buried her (wrapped in some nice cloth) & then planted some chrysanthemum seeds on her grave - appropriate in a los dias de los muertos sort of way.

Planted some seeds in containers from the recycling bin - English spinach, sunflowers & zucchini. Yes, those are toilet paper rolls. Gross, I know - but they don't have any actual poo on them, I was able to plant 2 seeds in each tube, & when they sprout I can plant the whole tube in the garden. If we get sick I promise to tell you!

Our local farmers market, easily one of the highlights of my weekend. It is just great to be able to buy local fresh fruit & vegetables, local honey, handmade soap, get a psychic reading (no I haven't - $25 for 15 mins? C'mon!) buy some plants/dog jackets/jewellery/clothing/something yummy to eat, etc, etc, etc. It is so handy to home, & best of all it is right next to Morton Bay!

What a great location for a Farmers market!

I didn't need to buy any eggplant or silverbeet, because my garden has still been  productive during the colder months. Not very, but enough to supplement our table, which is kinda nice.

Nothing like this, though. About $35 worth, including a free pineapple!!
For freeeeeeeeeeeeee!! (name that movie)
The 'Maca' on the honey denotes that it was harvested from bees that had been collecting nectar in a macadamia plantation. Sometimes I get blue box honey, sometimes mangrove honey, or even Patterson's curse, which was super sweet.

You can tell summer is on the way when the jasmine start to flower.
I've planted 3 different types of jasmine around the bedroom windows because the scent of night flowering jasmine is very conducive to vivid dreams. Truly! Try it..

 These guys can't wait for summer, they are crazy about it! Swimming, boating, fishing.

Some of us are just crazy...


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wash Tub Upcycle

Old concrete wash tub + easy lid made of scrap lumber
Tidy toy storage for outside toys + a great place to sit & read the paper

(Pretty sure 'making cushions' is on the project list..)


Sunday, August 7, 2011

BLACK is the new Black

It's done. I love it. The end.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Glossy magazines are my LIFE

It is no surprise to anyone that I luuuurve shelter magazines.
It's my dirty secret.
I have thousands of magazines on industrial shelving in my work area.
I love them.

This month, I have been feeling a bit sad & sorry for myself. So when Country Style offered to send me a copy to drag me out of the doldrums I jumped at the chance. A bit of joy, a bit of inspiration, a bit of escapism!! As usual, it didn't disappoint...

I couldn't find any photos on the web site, (these photos are of other amazing houses) but the bestest story was about Sally Wise; amazing baker, cookbook writer, mother of 6, gardener extraordinaire. She lives above the wonderfully named Pirates Bay in Tasmania, has a very huggable looking beagle & has a new book named Leftover Makeovers, which I would love to read because who doesn't need tips on delicious economical cooking for large family's?

The article immediately made me want to jump into the pages & explore her amazing garden. She has a roadside stall for 'a bit of fun', & leaves a sign on the gate saying 'baking in the house, please come down'. Here is her website, or grab a Country Style of your very own.

What do you do for inspiration?


Monday, August 1, 2011

10 things I wish people would invent

What would you love to see invented? Obviously clean renewable energy, a way for the excess food & medicine of the west to get to the other side of the world, & an end to world poverty; we all want that. But I'm feeling selfish so here is my top 10.....

Drive thru Sushi. How nice would it be to not have to choose between fried chicken or burgers on a long drive? I don't want to get out of the car, I don't want to wake my sleeping babes, I don't want to harden my arteries, I don't want to increase the size of my (ok lets just say 'mummy tummy' & be done with it). I just want something fresh & healthy to eat, & I like sushi. C'mon big business, it's not that hard! There is money to be made!

A TV show called Life Hack. Like Surprise Renovators, but not for your decor. I'm thinking  psychologist, financial advisor, doctor, life coach, fitness trainer, etc that will help you upcycle your life & remove roadblocks so that you can be your best you.

A proper Medicare System. C'mon Australia!! Yes, we have a medicare system that sort of works but not very well, & that isn't good enough. There are better ways of doing things. Look at how the UK treats it's disabled, for example. Exemplary.

Holographic Scales. I cannot have scales in the house or I would attach them to my feet & obsess, obsess, obsess. I want a hologram to come out the side of my laptop that I can stand on, or use to weigh stuff to calculate postage. Those with iPhone, is there an app for that?

A Family Outlook Calendar. I need to merge every ones schedules without breaking any privacy protocols, print it out, & put it on my kitchen wall. I don't want to scribble on a calendar. I don't want my husbands work to see what the rest of the family is doing. I just want to be able to merge it, & print it. If I had one of those groovy fridges with a monitor embedded in the door, I wouldn't even have to print it.

Decent knee high boots for chicks with shapely calves. I am not quite a Russian weightlifter, but my calves must be ahem, shapely, because I cannot find nice boots to wear. I don't want elastic material panels. I don't want boots that stop at the mid length. Designers please note: I am not the only one experiencing this annoying problem.

Community Gardens, the extended version. I love the idea of Community Gardens. Imagine how wonderful it would be to extend this to Community Farms. Free, local, organic eggs, milk, chickens, lamb, goat...I imagine this would require the invention of inexpensive local abattoirs, which would also be an opportunity for community farmers to learn some new skills. This could also be an opportunity for people to dabble with cheese making, or wool production, for example.

Some decent children's party performers. In my area. I don't need a clown *shivers, mildly freaks out* I really want Obi Wan Kenobi. Even a generic pirate would make me happy, it doesn't have to be Captain Jack Sparrow. (Well, if you insist).

Recycling Centres/Trade Workshops that coordinate furniture restoration skills between retirees/skilled trades people/ volunteers; with students from schools, the general public or even people doing community service. I'm thinking of saving furniture from landfill while learning skills such as upholstery, carpentry, french polishing, etc. The list could go on..Maybe have an antique appraiser come in for a chat occasionally?

A Cone of Silence. Please, for fucks sake. I am sure there is a market waiting.


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