Friday, January 21, 2011

Things I have done lately.


  • Suffered a major guilt trip for complaining that an 8 week school holiday is JUST TOO FRIGGING LONG, when thousands of people in Queensland don't even have a house anymore, due to the floods.

  • Took 2 carloads of stuff to a local lady that had organised free container transport to some of the country towns that suffered very badly in the flood. I may have been overzealous, so Mr BC if you are looking for that unopened packet of underwear, you'll just have to go commando. Ditto Teenage Daughter - stop looking for the external laptop speakers, you don't need them anyway.

  • Shed tears of pride, when Mr BC & Teenage Daughter came home from Salvation Saturday exhausted & covered in mud. Mr BC was quite emotional at the gratitude shown by the home owners to the volunteers. Teenage Daughter felt empowered that she had been able to help; & also direct people! Apparently there were a dozen guys standing around someones garage leaning on their brooms & Teenage Daughter said 'Well come on, lets get into it! We are here to sweep this mud up' & everyone quickly got to work. Good Work, Sweetheart!

  • Went for my twice yearly blood tests wishing I had paid more attention to my diet. This is my year to get fit & healthy, for realz. No, really.

  • Hung out & commiserated with other mums at various fast food places, (yes I see the irony, considering the last point) the bowling alley, cafes, the jetty, the park. We have all grit our teeth so much at our beloved children it's a wonder we have any teeth left to grit. I may have danced the Time Warp at disco bowling, but I most certainly did not do the Chicken Dance.

  • Carelessly got extremely sunburnt. I'm such an idiot; I have irish ancestry & I live in the sunshine state, for heaven's sake. Now I am going to be all leathery in the decolletage area.

Steel body brush, anyone?
Photo from here

  • Swam at the local public pool & immediately raced home to shower in disinfectant, a la Silkwood. Ok that may be a bit melodramatic but it was like a giant warm petrie dish of bodily fluids, people! And no one but me seemed to have any consideration for personal space. Ugh. Gross.

  • Made Steak Salad, simple, yummy & healthy. Perfect for this hot humid weather. Satisfys everyones dinner time desires - steak & potato for the boys, steak & salad for me, tofu & salad for Teenage Daughter. So easy there is no recipe! Just steam some thickly sliced new potatos, arrange them on a platter. Top that with salad of your choice, something asian-y is good. Finely slice some nicely bbq'ed steak & arrange on top of the salad. Drizzle over dressing of your choice - I used sesame oil, soy sauce, some BBQ duck sauce & a little ginger. Plate the Tofu separately, apparently vegetarians dont like BBQ steak juice in their salad. Who knew?

  • Made these Pinwheel Cookies & impressed myself no end. Essentially a basic refridgerator cookie recipe, divided in 2 & cocoa added to 1 half. Roll out the 2 halves flat on top of each other, then roll up like a jelly roll & refridgerate overnight. Cut into thin slices & bake in a medium oven. I want to do these next time with pink coloured dough/ hundreds & thousands dough.

  • Was delighted to find that my Little Gem Magnolia had flowered! I have been coddling it along for a few years now, & this is the second flower.  The first one flowered & died while we where on holiday, so I missed it. This one was beautiful, it smelled lemony & amazing.

  • Took The Gentleman to buy new school shoes, new uniform, new bag, new lunchbox & new drinkbottle. Tommorow I am off to buy contact paper to cover his school books. Because I am extremely joyful to say that School starts back next TUESDAY!! Wooot!! And then the following day is a public holiday. Insert sad face here. Please note that I am not the only mother happy to cancel the fireworks this year.
Mrs BC

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Brisbane, batten your hatches & start sandbagging. We are in the worst flood for more than 100 years.

The drought stricken state of Queensland has suddenly, for the first time in decades, experienced rain. A lot of rain. The rain has soaked into the earth, & now has no where else to go, so it has been travelling down the river ways of central QLD like an inland tsunami, flooding towns as it goes.

The water is going to Wivenhoe Dam, which was built after the 1974 floods to stop the city flooding again. Currentlly the dam is at 190% capacity. Hopefully it will peak at 210%.

They started letting water out of the dam this morning.

photo from here
 This photo was taken in Milton, a suburb close to Brisbane CBD, yesterday afternoon.

They are expecting the flood to peak at 5.5 metres, which will see approximately 40,000 homes inundated. I have learned over the last few days that 'Inundated' is a technical term meaning 'the water level went over the floor boards'.  We are talking about a volume of water twice the size of Sydney Harbour.

So far, 10 people are dead & there over 90 people missing. Bad weather has hampered the resue & recovery effort, so those figures are almost certain to rise.

Highways & roads all over the state, including Brisbane CBD have been closed by water. Many communities have been isolated - & not just country towns. A suburb 30 minutes up the highway from us was completely cut off yesterday - a metropolitan island. As I type this, the tv news reports that 3500 houses are currently flooded in Brisbane CBD alone.

The power to the city has been turned off as a safety measure, so there are no traffic lights operational. Luckily hospitals have generators.

Supermarkets have been stripped in a frenzy of panic.

And here is the kicker; today, we are expecting a King Tide. So extra metres of salt water will be travelling up the Brisbane River to meet extra metres of flood water. Their meeting place? Brisbane City.

This flood is expected to peak at midday tommorow.

Casa de Chaos is lucky to be one of the few suburbs that won't experience flooding. It has rained for the last 6 weeks of school holidays & we all have cabin fever so badly that tempers are incredibly short. The dryer has been going non stop & the house is still full of laundry. Downstairs has been flooding with rain run off & so far we have vacuumed up at least 500 litres of water with the wet n dry vac.

But at least we are not sitting on our roof, waiting for the rescue chopper.

Please send your thoughts, prayers & best wishes to the people of Queensland. And Sham-wows.

Mrs BC

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I am not an arse kisser, so peace out to you.

When I started this blog, my intention was for it to be a bit of me, a view of my life & the various people who inhabit my landscape, through my eyes. I have spent years squashing myself into pidgeon holes - corporate, mum, whatever..I was really looking forward to the chance to say fuck it, I don't care what anyone thinks, this is me.

This has proved a little difficult. I've been holding back.

My interests are many & varied. If you look at the blog roll in my profile you will see blogs on parenting, decorating, art, photography, gardening, thrifting, home life, craft, cooking, furniture restoration, upcycling, &....witchcraft. Yes, I am a little bit pagan. But as I have mentioned before, it's not the only thing that defines me. I am first a mum, & a wife. This 'new' strand in the fabric will not be a surprise to the people that know me - if I haven't actually told them they might have guessed by the tarot or rune reading they requested & recieved, my kooky joy in the seasons & the moon's phases, or the house full of crystals. Or one look at my  bookshelf, for heaven's sake!

And anyway, this new strand? Not so new. Been there for about 25 years.

I have remained quiet for many reasons but mainly the fact that my children go to an excellent catholic school & I really don't want to rock the boat for them by upsetting any parents who are less then tolerant. Before that I remained quiet because I was worried about prejudice in my workplace.  It's not like we are talking about a massive deal - I haven't been passing myself off as catholic while secretly kissing satan's arse. I'm not that much of an arse kisser. Truth be told, I've kinda liked hugging this part of me to myself. It's just that lately I've felt that I have been leaving stuff out, in case I was outing myself. And that did not feel right.

So what is new around here? Not much, business as usual. Trying to get laundry done & maintain my sanity in week # 6 of very rainy school holidays. Wondering what to cook for dinner that will integrate Teenage Daughter's vegetarianism & Mr BC's love of red meat. Gathering photos togethor for a post on the vege garden (I know, I promised ages ago), excited about the Greek Orthodox 'Blessing of the fleet' festival that we are going to tomorow, checking my craft supplies for the unwieldy amount of projects I have on the go, & lighting a candle for some peace & harmony in this house of chaos.

Mrs BC

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Resolutions? Bring it on!

All around the blogisphere everyone seems to be talking about resolutions at the moment, being either definitely for or against them. I love them. My view is that you want to achieve something, you have to plan for it. I'm not saying all of my plans come to fruition or that I achieve everything I want to, but I am sure that if I just drifted along in life without planning, nothing would happen. Things rarely just fall into my lap without any effort, & if they do, they aren't always exactly what I had in mind anyway..

A planning tool I have picked up along the way is called the OGSR. I have based this on the famous OGSM model invented in the 50's, but have tweaked to suit my purposes. It helps to spend some time scribbling down your thoughts about what you want to get done this year & how you are going to do it.

Objective - the big picture of what you want to get done - ie increase health
Goal - the different things that will result in increased health, ie lose weight, get fit, manage a chronic illness, etc
Strategy - the actions that are required to achieve each goal - lose weight might be join weight watchers, get educated on portion sizes, dont eat carbs after 5pm. Or something, I'm not an expert in this field.
Resources - each strategy will need a resource, something that will help you along, because you don't have to do it by yourself. ie contact details for your local weight watchers, contact details for a dietician, the names of several blogs that will be a source of inspiration, a reminder of a local jogging group, etc.

Ideally you should only have a few Objectives, as they will be your major focus for the year & it's difficult to focus on too many things at once, as well as all the other multi tasking you are currently doing. Each Objective will have a few Goals, each Goal will have several Strategies & hopefully you will have lots of resources to keep you going. So by the time your spreadsheet is finished it will be a large wedge shape with the point on the left. Not unlike a piece of pie, mmmmm.

My former workplace didn't have an R for Resources, they had an M for Measure - when will you achieve this, how much will you achieve, ie 5kgs per month, etc. (it was more about billings, less about weight loss, really) I choose not to have the measure because it should be part of the strategy, & anyway, who needs that pressure? Don't you already have enough on your plate? Also, I prefer to start actioning resolutions on my birthday, as it is the 'new year' for me. So feel free to work it the way you want, because it's your life, baby!

It is important to formalise it on a spreadsheet (or whatever you prefer) & print it out, & also to display it somewhere prominent, so that you can see it every day at least once. The reasons for this are twofold;
  • To stay focused. You really do need to remind yourself of the big picture because it's so easy to get bogged down in day to day crap.  
  • To stay motivated. Missed a weightwatchers meeting? Check out the other strategies that you didn't miss, you are still doing a great job! Tired of thinking about portion sizes? What other goals need attention right now? 
My Objectives are always about having a healthy happy family, finding opportunities to be more creative, & being financialy prosperous. In recent years they have included career goals, but hey, I've got all this weight to lose...

So, I hope you find this helpful. I should point out that my friends laugh at me for doing this, especially the ones that are former colleagues. Are you making any resolutions this year? Do you have any sort of structure or system that you use?

Mrs BC

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

handcrafted christmas decorations

I know, I know - christmas decorations are so last year! But I couldn't show them last year because it would have ruined the surprise for the recipients. So! I had this old coat, that I loved but had been ravished by moths or silverfish or something hungry. A beautiful, red woollen Table 8 coat. Fucking insects.

You can only see the larger holes in this photo. Poor lovely coat.

Cutting the coat into circles was hard, but better than throwing it away.
It did feel good to be able to use the lovely wool.

Cutting matching circles of contrasting/complimentary material.

Sewing the circles wrong side togethor & stuffing with cotton wool. I only blanket stitched this material set due to time considerations, everything else was a simple running stitch, using embroidery floss.
After I had stitched the circles closed I realised it would have been a good idea to add the ribbon hangers beforehand. So I tied/stitched the ribbon to a match stick & pushed it inbetween the stitches. Good Save!

 4 Sets of christmas decorations, almost finished..

I printed 4 sets of photos of the BC Family on photo paper, cut to size, & glued onto slightly larger felt circles.

Voila! A set of family photo christmas decorations.
Please note I do not condone the use of plastic christmas trees.
I made a set for my parents, a set for Cheryl Ann, a set for a dear aunt & uncle who I hardly see anymore, & a set for the inlaws. Actually, I made a few extra of each set to make up a mixed bag set for us as well. They looked quite nice on the actual tree, mixed in with all of the other decorations - not toooo much like a primary school craft project.

Also, & I can't believe there is no photo of this, I made my mother a bottle of Rhubarb Schnapps. She adores rhubarb but my father despises it, so it's not something she would buy for herself.
  1. Empty a litre of vodka into a large jar (or 2, if needed)
  2. Add 300g of castor sugar
  3. Add a large bunch of rhubarb stalks, finely chopped.
  4. Leave on your kitchen counter, & shake every day for about 6 weeks.
  5. Strain into a beautiful glass bottle
  6. Make a fancy vintage label using a download from The Graphics Fairy
  7. Admire your beautiful handiwork - the ruby coloured schnapps glinting in its beautiful bottle, the custom label looking amazing, personalised fine print wishing a merry christmas.
  8. Forget to take a photo!

Mrs BC

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Very Jindabyne Christmas

When my parents announced  their plan to retire to Jindabyne, a small snow town in NSW, about 15 years ago, my first reaction was 'For god's sake WHY?' I don't love the dusty arid brown landscape. I am not in love with the insular nature of small country towns, or the smack you in the face culture of some snow tourists. I am the only one in the extended family who has never ski'd. Over the years my low opinion of Jindabyne hasn't changed, in fact it has grown worse. I have joked about Jindabyne being alot like SouthPark - a small town full of strange people living at the bottom of some snow covered mountains. So when my mother finally had her way that we where all to have a Very Jindabyne Christmas, I was expecting to hate it.

Jindabyne is about 18 hours drive south of Brisbane, if you where to drive straight through without any rest stops. If you drive with 3 children & an enormous amount of luggage including a large amount of christmas presents then it might take a bit longer. We had all had enough of each other by the time we got to Sydney (12 hours away) but we didn't realise how much the family car had had of us, when it spat the dummy & exploded the water pump, stopping our journey right on the freeway off ramp, at Wahroonga. Those outside of Sydney might not realise how busy this off ramp can be, but let me tell you the build up of angry drivers behind us was quite impressive!

After an intense but short lived panic Mr BC had sorted a tow truck & roadside assist. (the smoke had spooked him) After about 15 minutes the car had cooled sufficiently to limp loudly around the corner to a more, umm, quiet location. A few minutes later an angel disguised as a stranger appeared with the offer of tools & engine coolant, & then used his iphone to locate the nearest Mitsubishi service centre.  He might have been hiding his wings under his turban but I could tell he was an angel. Anyway, this dealer was around the corner from my sister's, who offered to put us up until the car was fixed, & even to lend us one of her cars to continue our journey if needed. There was no way she was having a Very Jindabyne Christmas without me to share the wine fun!

The Mitsubishi Service Centre people could't have been nicer - finding the part needed straight away, giving us a big discount, & having our car fixed within 24 hours. They where also lovely to our fed up children while we waited for the mechanic's prognosis.
So a Massive Thank YOU to Mitsubishi North Narrabeen in Sydney. You guys rock!
Monkey Boy & The Gentleman being shown the Mitsubishi sponsored race car at the mechanics. After a ride in a tow truck. This day could hardly get better for the BC brothers.
Staying at my sister Cheryl Ann's overnight gave us the opportunity to drink a lot of wine have a pre christmas dinner with my brother in law's side of the family, who couldn't have been more welcoming to an extra 5 people at short notice. Which was just lovely. The next day it was on with the show, to Jindabyne we go. In a small convoy.

This wasn't the convoy, it was Grandpa giving endless 'sleigh rides' around the property. Heaps of fun, & no one rolled the ride on mower. Bonus!
The boys became very attached to headwear, especially these hats. Please ignore the wooden gun.

Teenage daughter also loves the headwear. Cute!
No, it's the hat, not the shape of her head. She doesn't really have horns, does she??

Going up the chairlift, Monkey Boy modelling yet another hat.
No, Mr BC is not scared of heights, why do you ask?

On top of the world in Mt Kosciusko Nationl Park! Children get back on the path, this is a National Park you know.
Mind the wildflowers!

Back down the chair lift. A bit of rain never hurt anyone.
Built for speed. Lucky because this toboggan gets up to 60km per hour.
The Gentleman tries his hand at the Emu Rodeo.
Sadly, it wasn't mechanical - just a statue.

Exhausted, Monkey Boy is carried by his Grandpa back to the car.

Beautiful Poplars at the Trout Hatchery.
No, that isn't an elf, it's The Gentleman.

The Gentleman inspects a yabbie.
Later, this yabbie became a nice peice of sushi. He liked it better then.
 When we finally got to Jindabyne, it was dark. We saw rabbits & deer as we crawled along the dirt road to my parents property, worried a kangaroo would bound out of the darkness & collide with our car, which probably wouldn't take any more nonsense. The next day dawned bright & cool, & the Chaos Family absolutely loved every minute of their stay. Thanks to the recent rains, the landscape wasn't so brown, it was almost green. The wide open spaces seemed to uncoil our tightly wound springs, & we all breathed deeply of clean, crisp unpolluted air. There where a few very nice shops to peruse in the local shopping area, & about 5000 people greeted my mother by name & wished her merry christmas as we went about some christmas eve shopping. The insular nature of the small country town had been hugely supportive during my Dad's recent cancer - in heartfelt, friendly, generous ways.

We spent the week riding up the Crackenback Chairlift, riding the superfun toboggan at the bottom of the mountain, visiting the rainbow trout hatchery, trying not to spend money in the shops (Mitsubishi where lovely but not cheap), reading, rabbit watching, cooking, eating & having nanna naps. Most excellent. Mr BC was very happy to stay on, & actually it was hard to get him to leave...

On the way home we drove overnight & I woke up to find that Mr BC had driven to South West Rocks in time to watch the sunrise! Growing up my family had spent every christmas holidays camping at this beautiful beach on the mid north coast of NSW, now a thriving tourist town. It has a special place in my heart, although I will never camp again *shudders at the horrors of The Ammenity Block*. I was so touched that Mr BC had surprised me with this visit & I wish we could have stayed longer. Hmmm, perhaps another family holiday? This last one seemed to go so well.....

One of my favourite places in the world, South West Rocks!

Breakfast at last!

No sleep, no coffee, no makeup - but look how happy & relaxed we are.
Hope your holidays where just as lovely.

Mrs BC
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