mutteringhousewife

What does the last of the housewives do?

Category: Housewifery

Necklace o’ Squares

I done a necklace! I haven't done one for AGES, what with working and studying and kids managing to fit an an outrageous amount of extra curricular and making kilos of chocolate chip biscuits and moving upstairs. I'm going to a fancy military dinner next week, or possibly the week after, I really should pay more attention, and of course the outfit I plan to wear requires a rounded necklace, rather than the pendant type I tend to make.

And there it is. You'll notice that it's on my flashy new beading desk that I'm managed to clutter up extremely quickly. Yes, the renovation is finished, and you didn't hear about it because it was rather uneventful, which is excellent for living through but no good for blogging. Except for the shower screen, which I should have told you about, and the smoke detector which is too annoying for words and I'm worried that if I start writing about it I may actually set it off. And the painter's name is Silver. Either that or he's lost the battle with autocorrect.

I got terribly terribly efficient and went through all of my beading magazines and scanned all of the patterns I wanted to keep into Evernote, and I highly recommend it. You see, in my new work area, or the Lair as I like to think of it, I have ample shelf space and no desire to put anything on it. So the magazines all went out, and now I have this terrific system of filed patterns, searchable with tags and everything. When one wishes to produce a necklace based on a string of black agate squares, one merely searches the tag Square, and there's a pattern from Beadwork 2010 that fits the bill perfectly. The pattern was for the red square in the middle, but it scales down beautifully to 8mm rounds with size 15s and 1.5mm cubes to make the silver squares either side of the centre.

Do you want to see the Lair?

We put in an upstairs bedroom, and there was this space around the corner from the stairs and I baggsed it. Some amount of joinery later, and the kids are lucky to ever see me downstairs. To the point where the Moose has been known to email me goodnight. The curtain conceals, not a window, but an enormous amount of triangular storage space, all around the corner of the roof. It does require some stooping, but it tucks away ones various hoards of material, wool, coffee tables, craft stuff, suitcases, framing equipment, screwdriver collection and so on. IKEA has made a fortune out of me. Awesome doesn't even begin to describe it.

I don't know if I've got time to do earrings. Oh, I do have some that would match it, but they're not long and dangly and fancy. Hmm. Depends what my hair is doing that day, it's very temperamental and one never knows until one gets there.

Did I mention that the dinner is at Gallipoli? Yers. Expect to hear a bit more from me in the near future.

 

The Chair Part One

Because I’m going back to work next week, and have to write some tutorials for the two hundred students I’m about to meet to stop them from tying me up, shoving me in a cupboard and running around the classroom in their underwear, because I’m starting a research project, because it’s AGM season and I have a whole lot of Treasury stuff to finish and reconcile, because I’m on the quest for the perfect bathroom mirror, because I’ve got to make a metric buttload of jam for the upcoming fete, hang on, I’ve lost track. Oh yes, I thought I’d renovate a chair.

I may have mentioned that we’re putting in an attic. We’re at that agonising point where I’m about to bid a fond farewell to the builders, but the painting isn’t finished, the wardrobe guy might be able to get drawings to me next week, the shower screen man had to go to a funeral so can’t fit me in for another fortnight and the alarm man has gone on holidays so can’t connect the smoke detector.

I’m sure we’ll move up there eventually. I plan to have a workspace in the new bit, and a new workspace needs the perfect chair. I’ve had the same chair at my desk (when I’ve had a desk, not much in the last decade) for as long as I can remember.

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It was once one of a set. One of the fondest memories of my childhood is of our morbidly obese next door neighbour sitting fairly gently one on of these and smashing it to pieces. Precious moments.

Anyway at some point someone, probably my mother, painted this one white and gave it to me. It is just about due for its second paint job.

I don’t know if you’ve had a crack at this yourself. I’ve really only painted new stuff. I had a fair idea that sandpaper would be involved, any excuse to go to Bunnings really – did you know you can get these cute little pointy hand held sanders that you Velcro the sandpaper onto? A very comfortable lady’s sander you’d describe it as if you were irredeemably sexist. Excellent workout for the triceps as it turns out.

But the – how much do you sand? Just enough to rub off the stickers that tiny hands have put on there that┬áhave since become one with the paint? Get down into smoothing off the dents and chips? Half sand off the paint even though shabby chic has been and gone and I never liked it anyway?

I hoped to resolve these questions with a visit to the local paint shop, and even pick up a pot of paint so I could start Part Two. I foolishly chose one of those fancy shops which, as it turns out, are rather reluctant to sell you paint and would much rather point out very carefully how much of a feckless idiot you are for even contemplating such a project. “Do you even know what type of paint is on the chair right now?” asked the blonde assistant who, possibly from weeping out the back at man’s inhumanity to man, had a smudge of mascara under one eye, making it very difficult for me to concentrate on what she was saying. What would James Valentine’s form guide suggest in such a situation? Offer her a tissue? Come at her with a Wet Wipe? I went with what I was comfortable with, the slightly open mouthed stare. “That finish? Well, you’d need to apply this primer, then this crackle medium and a couple of layers of top coat, then sand it back, then another coat and then black wax it”. Ahahahaha. Ha. Yeah. Nah. Do they ever sell anything to anyone?

What she had convinced me of is that the paint should come off. It did appear that my mother just slapped on the one coat all those years ago, which meant that most of the paint was coming off very easily. Showing the original colour below. Originally, it had been stained a fetching olive green, not a colour you very often see in chairs any more.

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This does mean that I need to let go of any idea I had of just roughly sanding it back and lacquering it. It looks like something the perpetrators of the Zombie Apocalypse would relax on after a hard day amongst the brains.

So my choices are to sand it enough to get a smooth surface, then prime it and paint it. Or sand it back enough to remove all trace of zombie and stain and lacquer it. At my advanced age I know myself well enough to realise that I’m capable of getting the larger surfaces smooth and a lot less green, but there’s no way I’m getting into those nooks and crannies even if I get involved in a whole lot more things to procrastinate about. So primer and paint it shall be.

No I don’t know what colour. Didn’t you read the title? I’m only up to Part One. I do hope there will be a Part Two, the desk I’m having put in isn’t one of those standing desks that are so very 2013. I’m going to have to wait for another burst of enthusiasm to come along.

Frosting a Window plus a spot of Amateur Plumbing

I’ve had one of those efficient days. I blame my husband. He was working from home today, so I kind of felt like I had to look busy. So not only did I do much washing, cleaning the fridge and packing for skiing, I also attended to some of those little odd jobs that I feel I’ve are part of my remit.

We have a bathroom on our back verandah. I had it renovated two years ago, and it was fully as painful as the current indoor bathroom refresh. It has a door leading outside to the washing line with a large pane of glass in it, giving a clear view of our neighbour’s back verandah. Conversely, giving them a clear view of us showering. I can’t help notice that they’ve put up a wooden screen.

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See? On top of the fence, on the left. Now I don’t really care if they see me showering or not, but my parents in law are coming to mind the house and animals while we’re away next week, and they may be more shy and retiring. And they don’t have a choice, if they showered in the indoor bathroom the would be water everywhere due to the continuing lack of a shower screen. So it is time to frost that window.

Yes, the door was supposed to have a frosted window, but the bathroom people, when met with that suggestion, just gave a resigned shrug. Hardier souls would have taken it up with them, but not me. No. I waited two years, then got me up to Bunnings for a $16.99 roll of window frosting. It’s next to the fly screens.

It’s easier than covering books with contact, that’s for sure. You wash the window with a spray bottle of water and your trusty Enjo window washer.

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You discover that the glass is already covered with a plastic film. I knew the outside was, because it’s starting to decay and flake off. So out with the Stanley knife, after you’ve retrieved it from under your daughter’s pile of “craft” on her desk and gently trace around the frame, then it just peels off in a rather satisfying manner. You cut a piece of film slightly larger than the window, then lay it on the floor. You peel off the backing and spray the sticky side with water, which appears to stop it curling up on itself like contact does. You then press it onto the window and squeegee it down to remove any bubbles. I don’t usually say this, but et voila!

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Flushed with success, I turned my handy attention to the next family complaint. This was that the new tap in the new sink in the new bathroom was a bit too enthusiastic. Could I get the plumber back in to have it tamed down? Not on your nelly, I’ll have a crack it myself.

Have you looked under your bathroom sink? Chances are you’ll find that the taps are attached to woven metal pipes which have their own taps.

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You need to keep an eye on the hot pipe, they need to be replaced about every five years because they rust. Also a simple Bunnings job. Anyway, turn the sink tap on full in the cold position, then turn the tap under the sink counterclockwise until the pressure drops to your satisfaction. Do the same for the hot side. Plumbers, who needs them!

I also finished a kind of crocheted mitten without any fingers, it’s more of a tube with a thumb hole really, and now I just need to make one more for my left hand. But instead I’m making a pompom for the Muffet’s beanie. I can’t tick off too many things on the list, I’ll be setting my standards too high.

Bathroom Progress

It’s not like it’s a complicated bathroom. It’s a straight rip out, reinstall stuff in exactly the same spot only new. Yes, we did discover that the floor waste wasn’t at the lowest point in the room and just emptied under the house anyway, and we did need to cut the giant architrave around the window to accommodate the shower screen. But why does it feel like this may be the first bathroom this team has ever done?

I get that there’s a lot of tradesmen involved. I’ve met Terry, Stu, Andrew, John, Sam and Alfio. I didn’t quite catch the names of the demolition team, but I think they were both called Scott. And Crystal, the site supervisor, has popped off for a week’s holiday, the slacker, so that doesn’t help. But I’m up to my fourth schedule version in this three week job. They’re not even bothering writing them down any more. At least today’s revision involved an acceleration.

I was expecting the carpenter, he was the one finally tasked to remove the window architrave after the demolition Scotts and the renderer passed on it. He actually arrived in the expected window between seven and seven thirty this morning. “Where’s the plumber?” he asked. What an excellent question. He was supposed to be here too, putting in the bath so the carpenter could build a frame around it. Fortunately he appeared while I was dropping off kids. “Where’s the bath waste?” he asked. It was a day for excellent questions. A text to Tony the bathroom supply chap brought it by express delivery half an hour too late. They managed to insert it anyway.

I was just stepping out of the house for a delightful lunch with friends when my mobile rang. It was Sam the tiler. “I’ll be there in half an hour” he said, not on Saturday as advertised. I put the keys in the tiny safe attached to the front door and advised him of the code. I arrived home to the distinctive smell of polymers cross linking. It’s been a while, so I can’t pick the exact chemicals, but I’m feeling like its an acrylate of some sort. I’ll have to check with the husband, he’s the one with the PhD in polymer chemistry. Anyway, he’s put a fan in front of the bathroom to help dry it and to push the pong out the denuded bathroom window. “Where’s the tiles?” he asked. I knew that one, out on the back verandah. “Ah yes, but where is the capping?” Cursing a little, I texted Tony again. “Where’s the capping tiles?” I texted. “And also, peeping into Chapter 2, is the vanity ready?”. Trying to preempt further snappy texts next week. It’ll be arriving tomorrow lunchtime. I wonder if it would have without any nifty phone work?

As I farewelled Sam, he paused to criticise the key safe. “Three digits no good”, he opined. “Any teenager, half an hour to get into it. Four digit much better.” I removed the keys from it immediately. That’ll show those teenagers.

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I thought it prudent to close the dogs out of this bit of the house. I can just see them both up to their furry little ankles stuck in the waterproofing. I have enough going on without having to call in a dog extractor.

These bathrooms take time

Do all tradies smoke? Are they given a carton of Winnie Reds at the beginning of their apprenticeship? Are there courses at TAFE on how to suck on a fag while checking your texts? Anyway, all the ones that have been involved in my bathroom so far have been. Even the suave purveyor of fine bathroom products, who used to be in the bathroom building business himself. Actually, I tell a lie. Crystal, the site supervisor, doesn’t appear to. She used to sell bathroom products, but got into bathroom building. Bathrooms seem to be a thing that doesn’t let you go. Can’t understand it myself.

You’ll be pleased to know that the bathroom bits and pieces have arrived. I keep looking at the new bath, perched as it is on a box on the verandah. Is it smaller than the old one? The measurement says I should be able to lie down in it, but it looks small to me. Then again, the Muffet thinks it’s bigger than the last one. All a matter of perspective.

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Jack hammering off all the tiles in the bathroom had its consequences. It’s opened up a Dr Who style crack in the Muffet’s bedroom that she’s trying not to think about.

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The bricks around the shower seem to be in the last stages of collapse.

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Crystal assures me she sees this all the time. She tells me that it’s only the outer lining of bricks in a double brick house that are sturdy, the inner layer are just… She waves her hands about. Not terribly reassuring.

We had the renderers today. It’s not a terribly large bathroom, yet they’d crammed in a work table and two workers in there, wedged in by a wheelbarrow full of cement.

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There was a lot of grunting and puffing and slapping about of cement. I think they’d puff less if they cut back on the fags. Apparently they were able to cobble the brickwork back together again. They did forget to take off the window architrave, as had the demolition crew before them. The unflappable Crystal assures me that the next lot will sort it. I’m guessing they also meant to leave the door off.

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Four days into the job and we’re two days behind schedule. Lucky I’ve got another bathroom to ablute in. Meanwhile I’ve got all the doors and windows open to try to get rid of the fug of smoky, dusty, hardworking tradesmen. Should be fresh again by Monday.

Goodbye Bathroom

I know my limits, sometimes, and I know I don’t do renovations. I’ve lived through my parents’ renovations and my Nanna’s renovations and it’s not for me. My neighbour nearly had a nervous breakdown doing hers and a friend said her renovation was far worse than having cancer – speaking from experience – and had permanently warped her view of mankind.

I only renovate when the house portion in question has actually stopped functioning. A couple of years ago it was time to bid goodbye to the old kitchen and bathroom. I had to send my husband to Afghanistan for six months to get it done with the least discussion. I got in a kitchen and bathroom company and told them to tell me what I wanted. I agreed, with the proviso that whatever they installed had to be extremely hard wearing. I don’t want to have to do it twice.

The inside bathroom had a toilet which had been condemned by the last plumber as being unrepairable, a rotting vanity, a peeling bath and a completely unworkable shower curtain arrangement.

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A couple of chaps turned up this morning to remove it. “Expect them between nine and ten” said the bathroom company. Which, as you all know means that’s the exact time of the day they’re guaranteed not to turn up. They arrived at ten forty eight, with a gripping story of flat tyres and bent axles. “Are you keeping the bath?” they asked. What, the cast iron one with the wobbly feet, the chipped enamel, that sucks all the heat out of the water? No way. “Put it out on the grass, and I reckon someone will come past and take it”. It lasted less than ten minutes before it had a new and grateful owner. Sucker.

One of the practicalities of a renovation is stopping the dogs from escaping. I stayed with them out on the back verandah. Harry’s normal tactic for removing an obstacle in his path is to sit beside it and determinedly lick it. He went one step further with the cardboard box I’d put up to block the dog door.

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To entertain myself, I went on with my black and white necklace. I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped.

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After much jack hammering and smoko breaks and the fire alarm going off and wheelbarrowing, the old bathroom was evicted.

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Apparently the tiles had been simply glued on to the original hexagonal tiles underneath, explaining why the bathroom floor was higher than that of the rest of the house. I was slightly tempted to keep some of the original tiles, but what would I do with them? They’re just octagonal and terracotta coloured. Let them go.

And now I must call the bathroom fitting company who were going to deliver my new bathroom last Friday. Then Monday lunchtime. Then how about Wednesday? No, I said, I really need them Tuesday at the latest. Oh all right, you can have it Tuesday. I called them at lunchtime to check my bathroom was on its way. “Yes, the truck will be there a bit after four”. Here it is dark, the children full of sausages and gone to tennis and nothing to fill the aching void of bathroom. This is why I don’t do renovations. Look out, I’m putting on my terse voice.

Half Yearlies

The Muffet’s school is probably not alone in having the bright idea that they could run their Year 7 half yearly exams at the same time as NAPLAN, which would enable them to say that they didn’t focus on training for NAPLAN, but if you could study English, Maths and Science for your half yearlies, that would be super.

Study is a new concept for the Muffet. She generally does homework spread out on the lounge or the kitchen bench top and it takes her twice as long as it should because of all the singing, eating and fighting with her brothers that this entails. It has taken a phalanx of teachers all giving her the same advice that has finally persuaded her to try studying at a desk. This has been a little problematic.

You see, I don’t think all kids have to have their own rooms. Just my kids. It’s just the way it’s worked out. To achieve this, we had to extract my husband from his study, and believe me, I’m never going to hear the end of it until she’s moved out of home and he’s back in there. Muffet it is in the study because it is the smallest bedroom and she is the messiest child by quite a long way. It makes perfect sense to me. Not to her, obviously. So I have provided her with a desk in what was the dining room when the house had such a thing. And here’s what it looks like.

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I’m sure we could salvage it from underneath all the craft and actual garbage on it, but she really doesn’t like working there. She has got a tiny little desk that pulls out from under her bed, but until two weeks ago that was groaning under even more detritus. Until we decided to put the German billet in there, that required a mammoth cleanup and now it is once again visible.

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All it needed was a chair. She has managed to study there this weekend perched on that tiny IKEA stool, but I want that back, it’s my sewing stool. So I promised her that if she found her school blazer, I would buy her a proper stool. This morning I marched her into the school and, holding her firmly by the ear, dragged her into the school office where we found the blazer by the simple expedient of asking the ladies there to look in lost property for it. A whole week it has been missing, and that never occurred to her. Oy vey. So now to my end of the bargain.

I’m fairly horrified to find that you can buy a gas lift chair for twenty bucks.

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I’d rather like to buy one that’s made in Australia, but such a thing does not appear to exist. A fully reclinable leather executive chair, yes, but not a dinky little stool. Another thing for me to feel guilty about. It slaps together very quickly, even more so because I decide not to put the back on it for space reasons, and because I know she’ll just end up hanging all her clothes on it.

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There. I’ve provided her with seating arrangements, fresh fruit, chocolate chip biscuits and Nutella sandwiches. I have also discussed states of matter, densities and crystallisation with her, somewhat confusing the issue with a tangential discussion on liquid crystals that is never going to come up in her exams. I’ve done what I could. Good luck in your exams, Muffet!

Cookbooks

A combination of a balmy day and an impending council cleanup has seen me tuck my skirts into my bloomers and have a bit of a tidy up. I’ve got rid of a bag of clothes, three bags of rubbish, a box of paper recycling and a box of toys. And you still can’t see where I’ve been. But in the process I’ve cleared a shelf that’s close to my cooking space and it’s just perfect for my cookbooks.

I have a lot of cookbooks, almost none of which I’ve bought myself. I’m rather fond of my joke cookbooks, many of which are in this picture:

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Some have been given to me, the dog biscuit one belongs to the Muffet, and some came to me from my Nanna. The Flo Bjelke-Petersen one has a lot of recipes she’s clearly lifted from other sources (what Queensland housewife uses dark corn syrup?) and the proportions are often wrong. The Colleen McCullough one is a great read, she devotes a whole page to the evils of dieting and fancy foreign food, but I’m unlikely to be making mutton neck soup or plum duff any time soon. I do read through these cookbooks, and I sometimes get some inspiration from them, but it’s mainly to tell people that there is actually a recipe in print for a pizza topped with tinned mushrooms and tinned spaghetti. Remember tinned spaghetti?

The ones I’ve put on the newly reclaimed shelf are the ones I actually use.

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I do actually have a Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion, but even though I’ve read it cover to cover I just don’t get a lot of inspiration from it. I get a lot more from the imposing Cook’s Book that my dear sisters gave some birthdays ago. There’s a tonne of stuff in there I’m not game to try. Yet.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that I bake a lot more than I make exciting dinners, so I keep Tish Boyle’s The Good Cookie and the Donna Hay baking book close by. The Women’s Weekly cookbooks I inherited from my Nanna, the purple covered one was published in the year of my birth and I’m particularly fond of the confectionery section. I think Adam Liaw’s book is just terrific, and deals with a cuisine I’m not at all familiar with cooking, so I’ve been browsing through that a lot and gradually accumulating strange smelling ingredients. The Black and White cookbook is a collection of recipes from the parents at my sons’ school and I love looking at what other people cook. Some of these are creeping into the repertoire. The two Pillsbury books are from the early sixties and also from Nanna’s collection. Some recipes are truly hilarious, like the chicken salad nestled in a strawberry jelly moulded in a bowl shape, or the suggestions to elegantly garnish your casserole with slices of salami folded to look like bells. But the Americans know a lot about cakes and cookies and I’ve picked up some terrific ideas in there.

The little battered green one on the end? That’s what I used to use before iPads were invented. Remember when you’d see a recipe in the newspaper, and you’d cut it out and keep it somewhere safe? That’s where mine went. If I made it more than a couple of times, I’d write it out and chuck the clipping.

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Pretty retro, huh. Now I have the Paprika app on my iPad and I can type out my recipes and they won’t get covered in butter and they’re backed up. I have no nostalgia for the written book at all, so spare me your hand wringing. I can even Google a recipe and suck it into the app, where a record of the original website is also kept. I can add photos. I can email recipes to admiring friends and acquaintances. I love living in the future.

A Day in the Life of this Housewife

I know most of you secretly suspect that us housewives do actually spend most of our days reading Mills and Boon and wondering if we should purchase an Elliptical Abiscizer, as advertised on sausage stuffing morning TV. So, for the negative, here’s how my day is going.

Awake at 6.15. Technically it’s the phone that wakes me up, softly playing Galadriel’s theme, but really it’s because the Horror is up and trying to get dressed quietly. He doesn’t have an alarm, he just wakes up that early. I take his lunch order (toasted garlic bread, not herb bread because his friends keep demanding bits of his lunch if it’s herb bread) and wake up the Moose by tripping over his drum set. I make the lunches and have a shower, wake the girls then take the boys to school. I make a detour to pick up the choir mail, then back home to pick up the girls. Muffet can’t find her flute or blazer, so she has to borrow my old flute and put up with being cold. I get them to school by eight.

Back home for some breakfast. I eat this in front of the computer while doing a bit of emailing and spreadsheeting for the three committees I’m on and the one I’m baking for at the moment. Then it’s time to take my newly freed foot for a walk. It’s complaining a lot less this week, so I take it up to the Hungry Grasshopper where I revel in being able to order a takeaway coffee. Ah, the joy of not being on crutches. You should try it some time.

Quest time. I don’t have a quest every day, but I do at least once a week. We were eating dinner the other night when the German billet remarked upon our eating implements. We were using Splayds. I keep forgetting that they are an Australian invention, and the German billet decided they were the perfect gift for her mother. She’s quite right, they will be. This quest I’m pretty sure of being fulfilled at David Jones, so I hie me thither.

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While paying for the Splayds I receive a phone call from the Muffet asking if I could bring her pipes and drums uniform in to school by lunchtime. “What time is lunch?” I rather reasonably ask. She’s in her third year at this school. She doesn’t know. After a lot of shouting and giggling in the background we establish that it is at 12.29. I’ll be popping home then.

She’s only been in the pipes and drums band for a week, though she’s been taking drum lessons for a term. It has quite an elaborate uniform which we’ll eventually have to buy, but as they are performing tomorrow night and Saturday she’s having to make do with a cobbled together one. I manage to locate the shirt, the blazer, the kilt, the sash, the badges and the sporran (yes, really), but not the socks or tie. Well, it’s just a rehearsal today, and I make it up to the school with five minutes to spare.

I’m starving when I get home, but the children and husband consumed all the bread this morning. Looks like Thermomix to the rescue. I want to make more bread, so I do a batch of buttermilk and mess up a batch of fruit loaf before making my lunch. Don’t trust the Thermomix scales! Or rather, check that it isn’t sitting on its own cord before weighing your flour. I rescued the fruit loaf by adding more liquid and yeast, so it looks like we’ll have a loaf and a half of that.

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Once they are done I make myself up a batch of hearty vegetable soup, an off piste version of the vegetable patties I made here.

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I blame an interview I was listening to on the radio on the way home about how very very obese everyone is, and why can’t we all eat more vegetables. I’m impressionable.

After lunch I realise the Moose is out of school shirts (the Horror is experimenting with wearing the same shirt every day, reasoning that there’s less washing to put away), so put on a wash. Then I punch down the breads and put them back under the oven light to rise. Then I toss up between writing a blog about the vegetable soup or boring you with what kind of day I’m having, and decide you’ve had enough recipes and nobody’s making you read this.

Next on the list is knocking up a batch of oatmeal choc chip biscuits, as the cupboard is bare yet again and it’s the kids’ current favourite. Then I’ll wash up, then go pick up the Muffet and the billet from band practise and head due east to collect the Horror from his band practise. Once home I’ll be baking the bread and grilling a tray of sausages for the Horror and his father to have for dinner before they go to soccer training. Me and girls are going to go to the Moose’s school for a sausage sizzle before his house chapel service at which, I’m reliably informed, he’ll be singing a solo. That should be interesting, given that he was just dropped from alto to tenor in the choir a couple of weeks ago.

Then home to bed. But before bed I’m going to have to pin up the Muffet’s borrowed kilt which is big enough for two Muffets and do some emergency tacking so no one sees her undies if she does some violent drumming at tomorrow night’s concert. And bring in the washing, of course.

When does anyone find the time to hold down a job?

Rainbow Jelly Shots and What Happened to the Dorcas Squares

The things we do. The boys’ school normally just asks for cash, which is easy. Although the Horror’s mate told his mum that his class wanted to win the competition to buy goats for a village somewhere that was short of goats and could he have $250? She did beat him down to $5, but someone, somewhere is setting the bar too high. The girl’s school, on the other hand, seems to prefer your blood and sweat. Or perhaps that’s just how it filters through the Muffet.

Do you remember the Dorcas squares? Every girl in Year 7 was supposed to knit a couple to be later arranged into blankets for the deserving and frosty. Except that I knitted some for the Muffet because hers were a bit more Art Nouveau than a square. I assumed at the time that most squares had actually been composed by adults. Well, they asked for volunteers to assemble the blankets and guess who’s childlike faith in her mother’s abilities stuck me with a pile of ill-assorted squares? Go on, guess.

It turns out that some girls did knit the squares themselves. They were given a template to make it easy on the assemblers, but some were more free spirited than others. Muffet brought me home eighteen assorted “squares” to sew together and if you think about it for a bit, eighteen is not a square number. So I laid them out on the bed and eventually got them into a pattern that would give something with three straight sides anyway. I also invented a fabulous way to thread a wool needle that I’m sure has never ever been thought of before. You get a bit of cotton and loop it around the wool. Then you feed both ends of the cotton through the needle hole, then pull the doubled over wool up through the hole after it.

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So working sometimes with the ends that had been thoughtfully left on the squares and sometimes with a purple wool that clashed with all the other colours I managed to whipstitch it all together. I think it’s called whipstitch, it sounds good. It’s quite a small creation in the end.
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It has come out nice and flat (in that picture it wasn’t all stitched together yet) but it’s still a pretty rough looking thing. I’m not sure even the dogs would bother with it.
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I could be wrong. I wonder what it’s eventual fate will be?

And also due tomorrow is jelly for the jelly stall. Apparently the girls in each house run stalls from time to time and the Muffet and buddies have been assigned the jelly stall. Some show offs are doing jelly in orange halves. I resisted the urge to just hoik some gelatine leaves into a five litre tin of apple juice and laid in some plastic cups and a rainbow of Aeroplane Jelly packets.

It’s like feeding a baby, you do it every four hours. You lay out your twenty plastic cups. Put the packet of jelly crystals in a coffee plunger sitting on a scale. Weigh in 250 grams of boiling water. Stir. Weigh in 200 grams of cold water. Stir. Pour small amounts into plastic cups. Place cups on the shelf you’ve just cleaned off in the fridge. Repeat next time with a different colour. Sometimes the colours will blend into each other, but it gives a nice lava lamp effect.
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I’m just off to do the last layer and try to work out how she’s going to carry them safely to school. Lots of plastic bags I rather think. They’re going to sell them for a dollar each and while it didn’t actually cost me twenty dollars in goods and being a housewife my hourly labour rate is zero, it feels like they’re getting it cheap. Although from the Horror’s reaction upon eating a test sample, they will be very very enjoyable. And nobody forced me to do rainbow jelly, I just can’t help myself.