Thursday, April 17, 2014

What a week!

What a week I have had! There is a bit to catch up on so I'll do a quick update chaos notes style, and then we can resume normal programming. Ready? Lets go!

Variety of Chefs Ball 2014.
Every year Variety the Children's Charity hold the Variety of Chefs Ball, where 10 amazing chefs donate their time and showcase their talents to raise money for a combined focus. Last Wednesday I went along to the media preview to find out what this years focus is, and to my delight they have chosen Assistance Dogs. Assistance Dogs are trained to each individuals needs, and as you might imagine it costs a bit to do so. Variety have committed to sponsoring ten dogs through the training, and that is ten lives changed forever. As well as tasting some of the amazing food that will be on offer at the ball, there where three Assistance Dogs to cuddle, and one of them was very happy to show us how clever he was: turning the light on and off, picking credit cards and coins off the floor (even I have trouble with that!) and opening a cupboard to collect a toy and take it to someone else. I can see how an Assistance Dog will make a massive difference to someone's quality of life. If you would like to attend the ball (and who wouldn't?) here are the details of how you can go.

2014 Variety of Chefs Ball
When:                  6.30 pm Saturday 14 June 2014
Where:                The Grand Ballroom / Hilton Brisbane
Dress:                  Black Tie/Formal
Cost:                    $275 per person / tables of ten $2750
Tickets:               07 3907 9306 or

Hospital Again
If you have been following my pity party on facebook and Instagram, you will know that I've been in hospital again. Quick recap: Early March I underwent surgery for two large abdominal hernias. Two weeks later I had developed a Seroma (fluid collection) on the surgery site that needed to be aspirated (sucked out) and a week later an even bigger Seroma came back, requiring the insertion of a drain (a gross looking little bag that sucks fluid out of my body through a long tube. I've been hiding it in my pants.) Last Thursday the drain was due to come out, but on Tuesday I started feeling very sick. While cuddling Assistance dogs and scarfing down Luke Mangans Smoked Salmon pillows, I needed to have a sit down and a glass of water, the whole time thinking how mortifying it would be if I was to vomit, because it would be no reflection on poor Mr Mangan. Thank heavens I didn't! That afternoon I went to the ER with fever induced chills (new word: Rigor. To flop around like a fish with your teeth chattering uncontrollably) My drain had become infected! They replaced the drain and after a lot of strong IV antibiotics and I was finally released on Monday night, when they decided I could take the antibiotics in tablet form. Lucky, because my veins had burnt out and I'd run out of places to put a Cannula. Ahh, fun times! I've been a bit overwhelmed at the outpouring of well wishes from everyone, so thank you so much for being the light of friendship in a bit of a dark time.

Kidspot Voices of 2014
The main reason for my in hospital pity party was due to me missing out on a weekend in Sydney. I had organised to fly down (sans kids, what a luxury!) and attend the Voices of 2014 Masterclass and Gala Launch. Because Hello! By some miracle I have made it to the top 100! The top 30 in my category!! (Can you hear my voice go up a few pitches when I squeak that out?) I've been nominated in the Personal and Parenting category and am beyond thrilled and honoured to be included in such an esteemed group of bloggers. When VO2014 emailed me I actually asked them if there had been a mistake, because I tend to think I trundle along on my own little blog journey, and I still am astonished that other people read my blog let alone take notice.

Dumpling Queen
While in Sydney I'd also planned on catching up with old friends, some quality time with my sister and a lone visit to Eveleigh St Markets to gorge on Kylie Kwong's Dumplings. I've been following her on instagram and facebook for ages, and if you at all love dumplings you should follow this dumpling porn too. I sent her a note on facebook saying how dissapointed I was that I couldn't be there, that I was a big fan and maybe one day I would get to enjoy some KK dumplings for myself, and she replied back! Honestly, I was so excited that she would take a moment to reply and it really cheered me up. All hail the Dumpling Queen!

Be Kind to Yourself
On my first day of freedom I couldn't wait to head out to Chermside Westfield. I took it easy and was careful not to overtire myself, but I needed to get amongst the land of the living and seek out some TLC. Mr BC took the Monkeys to see The Lego Movie, while teenage daughter and I cruised around the mall, buying things here and there. There is nothing like a week of nurses and doctors pulling your duds down to make you realise you need new underwear, and maybe even new pyjamas! I got myself to the Jurlique counter and got some Herbal Recovery Elixir to sooth my tired skin, and then I bought a gorgeous green bracelet to replace the hospital one. Mostly I just enjoyed hanging out with my beautiful family, even when they did steal my coffee!

So that's me, what have you been up to?


Monday, April 7, 2014

Late Summer Gardening

Yesterday, we finally got into the vegetable garden after an extremely long, super hot summer. It has been such a scorching, dry four plus months that we've been to scared to plant anything, because if we feel like shriveling up and dying in this heat then I'm pretty sure a delicate little plant might feel the same. The days are still incredibly hot but we are starting to get some decent rain occasionally. Yes, we are in Autumn but I don't think anyone has told Mother Nature. 

Do you have a husband who likes to prune? Mr BC and I learned to compromise about this early in our marriage and I think it has saved us from the divorce courts. He prunes far less than he actually wants, and I try and turn a blind eye when he prunes beyond my comfort level. I said I try! Sometimes I have to say something.

All of that pruning dislodged a fair few insects, which the monkeys had a lot of fun with. That fascinated look of thrilled terror amped up a bit when the baby stick insect decided to take a walk on The Gentleman's freshly shaved head. In other news we have a new family member named John the Grub, who lives in a plastic jar in the lounge room.

Mr BC loves staking and tying as much as he loves pruning, and to his credit he has nursed this Pineapple Feijoa back from a very sick state. We are all hoping that it actually fruits one day, so we can see what a Pineapple Feijoa tastes like. A you a fan of the Feijoa? They are a big thing in New Zealand, and I know I've eaten one but I can't remember how it tasted. Fruit saladish?

Anyway, to the vegetable garden! My in-laws gave me some Bunnings Vouchers for my birthday recently so I went off to the garden center to see what looked good. We are technically in between seasons so there was lots of sad looking summer stuff and shiny new winter stuff like brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage. After last winter's caterpillar-geddon I'm a bit hesitant to go overboard on the brassica's again, and to be honest, I'm not convinced Summer is actually over. I was lusting after some cavalo nero but it was caterpillar eaten and even had some moth eggs on it before it even left the shop, and I didn't want to bring that drama into my garden. 'Aint no one got time for that!

After carefully selecting the best seedlings I could find, I sketched up a little map showing what would go where. This is based on what area gets the most sun and where the climbing supports are. I kept changing my mind about the herbs and in the end they don't exactly match my plan. Oh, look! It our 24th wedding anniversary today! Happy Anniversary Mr BC! xx

We garden to the layer method, made famous in Australia by acclaimed chef Stephanie Alexander and her Kitchen Garden Foundation. We prepped some extra layers months ago using manure from the local stables, compost from our compost bin and sugar cane mulch, rather than straw. I like using sugar cane mulch because it doesn't create weeds like straw sometimes does, especially if it sits for any length of time.  Mr BC and the Monkeys sifted out another wheelbarrow full of compost for me to use to plant the seedlings out.

The garden beds are raised, and the layer method is actually no-dig, so it was very easy to get the plants into the ground. I did dig a small divot where the seedlings where to go, but I used a hand trowel and could easily have just used my hands, it was so easy. No back breaking shovel action required! After that I back filled it with a scoop of compost, put the seedling in and re-covered around it with the sugar cane mulch. Couldn't be easier! Have I made the impression that this is very easy? Good.

Ta-da! Four Tiny Tom Tomatoes ready to clamber up the support. This area gets the most sun, so I hope they will be very happy. After everything was planted in, we watered them in with some diluted worm tea from the worm farm, just to give them a little welcome-to-the-party drink.

When I was at Bunnings I also bought some bamboo stakes, for the peas to climb up. Garden stakes can sometimes be shockingly expensive, but these six foot stakes where six for $1. Such a bargain!

We made two tee pee supports for the peas, using three stakes each, and tied them at the top with the string used to bundle them in the shop. There are two pea seedlings at the bottom of each stake, so in case one seedling fails there will still be a good chance of a well covered tee pee.

The sunniest bed. The parsley looks a bit shocked at the whole ordeal, but it is just playing possum and will bounce back in no time. Parsley likes to pretend it is high maintenance but it is not. These strawberries are from the Hills Planter. They loved the planter but the tree overhead grew a lot in the hot sun and created so much shade the strawberries stopped thriving, so we moved them.

The corn gets a lot of sun in this position and I always plant it here, because I want it to grow tall and thick and screen the bogan neighbours. I am a little concerned about the rainbow chard. Normally it is as tough as old boots but these seedlings where very soft with hardly any root structure. I've given them the most sheltered area and although they don't look dead, they do look very sad. Hopefully they'll bounce back soon.

We put in this old section of pool fence as a climbing support, and I hope the sugar snap peas love it. It's accessible from both sides so I'm hoping the monkeys will snack on it as they play in the back yard. We've had success with yellow beans before so I hope they do well again. No pressure, yellow beans! Also, I've hedged my bets with a single rainbow chard in a different position, just in case.

It's all a bit sad and bleached out just now, but I think as soon as the rains start we will see some lush green growth and a productive, attractive garden. It's hard to see in the photo below but just as we finished the heavens opened and we had an absolute deluge for a few hours, which was perfect timing. Thanks Mother Nature! No more scorching sun please!

What's growing in your garden at the moment? Is your husband an avid pruner?


Friday, April 4, 2014

The Ultimate Vegas Show Giveaway!

Before we go any further you need to know that The Ultimate Vegas Show is on at Jupiter's Hotel and Casino on the Gold Coast. Sorry to get you all excited for Vegas. But!!

If you are hankering for Las Vegas or even a grown up night out, then this will definitely float your boat; and face it - during the school holidays we can ALL do with a grown up night out.

The Ultimate Vegas Show mixes magic, illusions, and juggling from a Las Vegas performance artist together with a flock of very finely feathered show girls and boys in a show that pays tribute to the legendary greats. The show references Salsa to Showgirl, Ballroom to Ballet, Rock and Roll to Rio, The Ultimate Vegas Show promises to be just that…..  and a little more.

Cathie Costello was the mastermind behind the costumes in Mystique! so I am confidently expecting that the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail will transport me straight to Sunset Strip. “Most of the costumes are hand sewn. The costumes are tiny – G-strings and bras, but feature incredible detail, beading and intricate design. So in total, there’ll be more than 3,000 of costume design and production on stage under those spotlights every night!” Sounds exciting!

Costumes range from the classic showgirl, through to cowgirl to 50's Rock and Roll, to the famous Rio look. All have been custom-created from head to toe - shoes and stockings, to the skirt, jeweled G-string and bra, choker, gloves, bracelets, earrings and the feathered hats, headpieces and harnesses; the costumes require between 10 to 12 pieces per showgirl. To give you just a hint of what to expect; there are over 6000 individual feathers, as well as all manner of glitz and glamour, hand sewn into costumes that include 50 headpieces!

******Winner Drawn******
The winner of this prize is KIM MAXWELL for her Peacock inspired showgirl extravaganza!

I have two tickets to give away to The Ultimate Vegas Show! All you need to do is leave a comment to tell me what your costume would look like if you where a Vegas showgirl. This is a game of skill, so feel free to be as detailed or not as you like. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, April 15th.

Tickets are valid for The Ultimate Vegas Show on 19th April 2014 only.
Show commences at 7.30pm, at Jupiter's Hotel and Casino on the Gold Coast. 
Prize does not include travel or accommodation, sorry. 

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