Influencers and Tablecloths

It has been a strange week, full of highs and lows, with people both lost and gained, full of new places and adventures, whilst also taking comfort from the old.

I was particularly distressed to read of the latest TikTok dinner hack. This involves dumping the meal directly onto the centre of the dinner table which is covered in a plastic tablecloth. The point being that it makes meal times “fun” and there are no dishes to wash up afterwards.

I can think of a lot of other ways to make family time around the table fun, can’t you? Spaghetti Bog and Parmesan Cheese dumped in the centre of the table simply does not appeal. 

Personally, I like tablecloths. They add to the ambience of an occasion. Their colour, the feel of the fabric, their pattern, is every bit as important as the dinnerware that is used. Since downsizing I’ve limited my source to ten, and most are for daily wear. But on those rare times when the crystal glasses make an appearance so does the hand made lace tablecloth.

The earliest accounts of tablecloths in history were attributed to a poet named Martial in 103 AD, and they were believed to have been used to sop up spills and keep the tables generally clean. However, table coverings came into their own in the late 19th century following the growth in textile industries and the invention of the sewing machine.

These days they are mass produced and can be picked up as cheap as chips, especially in the current financial climate with Australia’s shortage of spuds.

I think back to earlier days when as youngsters we were punished for having our elbows on the table whilst eating, not eating everything on the plate, and incorrectly manoeuvring the knife and fork. How times change. 

I am pleased though that we are moving away from seersucker tablecloths. They may have saved on ironing but talk about butt ugly.

We will not be adopting this hack and if you must know we will also be retaining our top sheet in the bedroom. I’m not easily influenced.

Book Spines & Coffee Table Books

I don’t know whether it’s a result of my parenting skills (or  lack thereof ) but I was recently concerned by the discovery that my eldest daughter colour codes the books on her bookshelves. Even the Little Person’s books are arranged according to the colour of their spine.

I’ve read about this trend in Interior Design magazines of course though I didn’t think it was something that normal people did. Normal as in the majority of us who don’t live in a home with a 6 car garage and with a dedicated wine fridge that chills 1000 bottles simultaneously.

I guess it is another version of stacking glossy unopened coffee table books in pyramids or arranging their spines according to height. That is, books being used as a design object. Strangely my coffee tables have always been used for – da da – coffee cups. Never had a book out purely for display purposes in my life. Don’t even remember ever owning a coffee table book.

Have you? Don’t be embarrassed  – please share. Dr Brizzy is researching these phenomenas.

In other news my struggles to cook desserts in any shape or form are real. Two batches of chocolate brownies went into the compost bin yesterday. What coloured spine does the recipe book have?

Change of Seasons

Spring slipped right by us and this week we ran screaming into Summer. Ceiling fans and salads are the order of the day once again. Sadly, this means that some of the projects I planned aren’t going to happen because of the heat.

The pumpkins are loving all the sunshine and have taken over my minuscule lawn. While they are producing I don’t mind but as soon as they stop they will be culled. Too good a place for snakes to hide. Project 1 successfully completed: blade of snake decapitator sharpened.

Project 2 : completed my James Bond jigsaw puzzle. Purchased in Tasmania during my August travels it has been calming when the news on the tv proved overly distressing (which is most of the time).

A DIY Lazy Susan project for Pocahontas for Christmas. The base is a coffee table top I purchased for $10 from the hardware store with $6 spent on the turn table. Bargain! The condiments I purchase to go with it will undoubtably be costly.

Project 4 is a work-in- progress. A gift for the Little Person. Just turned two he refuses to go by the name of Harrison. “No MeeMaw, it’s just Harry”.

I love art. Used to buy a piece every Wedding Anniversary – which I duly lost in the divorce. Have absolutely zilch artistic ability but I love colour. It makes me feel good and it hugs the spirit. Treated myself to a couple of hours painting ceramics during the week. Lots of colour added to a serving platter. My last one chipped after five glasses of champagne. Lets be clear : the platter didn’t consume the plonk, I did. Currently being fired. Touch wood for a successful conclusion to Project 5.

Project 6 required propagating plants for seeds. I now have 20 chilli seedlings and four mandavillas.

Project 7 : Epic Fail. First Guest Bedroom is stripped and sugar soaped. I lack the energy in this heat to continue

Project 8 : Christmas Shopping done and dusted. I live by the mantra ” No shopping centres come November”.

Two carloads from the garage have been taken to the Tip. Did not bring back any Frangipani cuttings for potting. Yay!

Project 10: Clear up a myth.
When the girls recently suggested going to the flicks to see Ticket To Paradise apparently one was supposed to get all giggles over the prospect of George Clooney. Ridiculous I know – I have Errol Flynn on movie posters all around my house ( which in hindsight may have contributed to the divorce). Anyway, George Clooney…………my father would call him “soapy”. I would say as boring as bat shite. Clooney and Julia Roberts are supposed to be in Bali stopping their daughter’s wedding. It’s a Furphy; filmed in Queensland. Ex-Clu-Sive Qld where rumour has it ol’ George’s twins were not accepted into certain venues.

Yep, Queensland; Winter one day and Summer the next.

Alfresco dining is very summer but you have to fight the midgies……….

A Tea A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Martha Beck, American author of multiple Self Help Books recently said  “Almost all my middle-aged and elderly acquaintances, including me, feel about 25 — unless we haven’t had our coffee, in which case we feel 107.”  

How true is this!

In my case insert tea. I do like the occasional good coffee with friends but to start the day on the right foot I need tea. A pot of tea. Hot, brewed, and in bed.

Indeed, one of my greatest pleasures since having retired is to sit up in bed drinking my Twinnings Breakfast Tea watching all the cars drive past taking the workers on their merry way to spend their day putting their nose to the grindstone. It is a joy to be a spectator and not a participant after thirty years in the workforce.

As a Senior my days are filled with varied interests, projects and people. The constant intake of beverages at Book Club, after attending a theatrical or musical performance and catching up with friends keeps me on the go and focused.  “Will you have a cuppa?” seems to be the current anthem of my generation.

Is tea an addiction? Certainly. Right up there with Errol Flynn, good books and dark, bitter chocolate. Add garlic prawns to that list too.

Beverage protocols do exist : tea for breakfast, coffee with cake, and tea with jam, cream and scones.  It’s that initial caffeine hit though, the one as the sun rises, that shapes my day. No heart starter equals no joy.

The evening beverage protocol is Secret Seniors Business. At my age I earned it.

April Update

Retired coming up to three and a half years ago and I still have a need to “achieve”. Small achievements are quite acceptable, but I don’t sleep well if there hasn’t been something successfully completed throughout each day. Mopping floors does not count yet mowing lawns does. Strange, isn’t it?

So where did April go?

Successful completion of #A-ZChallenge. Look out for Errol Flynn Trivia in 2023.

Attended a Soap Making Workshop. Attempted to repeat my efforts at home and nearly blew the house up. (Does that count ?)

Attended theatrical performance, a cabaret about Depression which was littered with humour.

Completed Harry’s Book Cart though after a few heated discussions it evolved from a bus to a fire engine. I just need to paint ladders on the sides.

Successfully mastered scones. Only took 45 years. Rosemary, Pecan Nut and Parmesan Cheese – to die for…….

Attended a concert : Troy Cassar-Daly and Ian Moss. Loved the former, the latter thinks he’s Brian May. Still, soaking up live music was wonderful, especially without a mask.

Mastered Egg Plant Lasagne. Still picking 6 or 7 aubergines a week so all new recipes are welcome.

Finished 2 books for the Gaia Reading Challenge, 2 for the Books That Made Us List, and 3 for Book Club. Reviews to come.

Planted pumpkins and tomatoes in vege garden. Bonus points because they are ALL still alive.

Painted patio and fence without any paint splatter on brickwork. Now that deserves a Gold Star!🌟

Most importantly, enjoyed my pots of tea watching those around me go to work. Boy, do I love retirement……

A Walk On The Wild Side

I have suffered mightily this week from a debilitating dose of midge bites that I collected during an early morning walk along a local tributary. I point this out because I could have stayed in bed eating honey on crumpets with a pot of tea, reading a trashy magazine focusing on Meghan Markle’s latest shenanigans or the breast enlargement/reduction of a so-called celebrity.

Instead I opted to walk in nature, smelling the Eucalypts, listening to bird song, and admiring spiderwebs. It’s all about mindfulness, being in the moment, and taking responsibility for your own health. A stupid mistake for which I am still paying. Look at my arm….

So what is a midge? Also known as no-see-ums  they are tiny flies, about the size of a pin head, and their bites can cause severe reactions. Only the females bite, using the blood they obtain as a protein source to develop their eggs. So much for the sisterhood. And yes, I had sprayed with insect repellant though I’m obviously more allergic to bites than others.

The itch factor during the nights has been horrendous. For two nights I spent every two hours under cold water in the shower hoping for relief which provided plenty of time to ponder on why tummy bugs, toothaches, and itchy bites tend to affect us more at night. Any clues? 

Dr Google provided information with regards to reducing the irritation and discomfort of midge bites though keep in mind that I also suffered bites to my scalp, my face, and inside my ears.  Imagine if you will three nights without sleep resulting in dark rings around the eyes and red blotches all over my face and arms. I looked like an ice addict.

So here are my Top 5 Tips to ease Itchy Bites : 

  1. Vinegar rubbed all over effected areas works well and after the third application you wont notice that you smell like a fish and chip shop.
  2. Aloe Vera Gel is soothing though not recommended if you haven’t vacuumed the house for a while as it picks up all the fluff and pollen floating in the air.
  3. Perfume seems to calm the itching immediately, although only the $200 a bottle kind, not the cheap stuff you spray into your lingerie drawer.
  4. From personal experience, the antibacterial kitchen wipes that sold in huge numbers during the height of the pandemic do a great job in calming irritated skin. When I visited Uncle Dan’s, the local bottle-o, ( or grog shop for non Australians) to restock they were amazed to see me rubbing myself down with antibacterial wipes at their point of entry instead of wiping down the trolley.
  5. You know all that hand sanitiser you purchased in bulk in readiness for the next Lockdown? Marvellous for calming bities. Who knew?

Thank goodness I was able to pick up a few cheap books at the local Rotary fundraiser to ease me through those long, disturbed nights.

Disclaimer : I am not a medical practitioner, nor a health expert, or anything even remotely close. I drink too much coffee, will kill for dark chocolate, and will do the same for a good sparkling shiraz.

A Parenting Mistake Of Sorts

When my youngest daughter was transitioning from Primary to High School I made a massive mistake in gifting her the book, 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.

Why was this a mistake? Because both our lives became book-centric involving visits to book sales and secondhand outlets in search of the books on The List. It became our” thing”. My child is the one you see lugging a suitcase on the train to enable her to bring purchases home from the Lifeline Bookfest. Her greatest joy comes from spreading her purchases on the floor all around her, similar to how we emptied the contents of our Easter Showbags all those years ago and sat enthralled as we surveyed all that was on offer.

She’s been home these last few days and is still chasing books from The List. Plus, thanks to the ABC television program of late last year we are now also chasing the books from The Books That Made Us.

Cat Balou’s time in Qld went all too quickly and we’ve cooked together, chatted non stop, laughed, and drank coffee ( as well as lots of bubbly things). Walking home from a Cafe one morning she spotted a table on someone’s front lawn with a sign advertising Free Books. Move over Cathy Freeman – I’ve never seen anyone move so fast! Another twenty books for the Little Community Library. Excellent work.

We walked up to the Little Community Library one afternoon where she of course insisted on alphabetising the contents. She also located another entry from The Books That Made Us compilation which she celebrated like a medal winner on the Olympic podium.

The local Op Shop was another adventure (because Mo, I need a book for the plane ) where said child, 34 years of age, located yet another read from The List. WOW, this is turning into an exciting holiday, she says. Only 300 more books to locate.

This is one happy daughter.

Until she spots a lone book on a display shelf.

Mo, have you been donating any books here, she asks. Yes, Cat Balou, sometimes I do that. Books are meant to go round.

Mo, she says, Mo, is that my book that I lent you and asked you to return before Christmas? And is that my copy of the Booker Prize winner you were supposed to send to my sister for Christmas?

An expensive little visit to the charity store as I was required to buy back many of the books I had donated in recent months.

My payback came when reminding her that a new edition of the 1001 Books had been recently published adding almost an extra 100 newer novels since her copy was released twenty years ago. More books to collect, kiddo, said with a smirk from mother.

The house is quiet once again and we are living on pots of tea, cheese and biscuits, and left over San Choy Bow. Cat Balou has returned to her 1 bedroom, 1 reading room unit in a trendy pocket in the nation’s capital and my Wizard Of Oz jigsaw puzzle which scares the bejesus out of her is back on display.

Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”
– Clementine Paddleford

“Miss you heaps.”
– Mo

Traditions : New & Old

When I was a child the dinner table was the source of good food for nourishment of the body as well as the venue to share the days events, whether they be local, national, or international, as nourishment for the mind. That hasn’t changed any with a number of visitors sharing my table over the past few weeks to celebrate and commiserate the last 12 months. We’ve been able to solve the problems of the world over Turkey Pies, play Trivia over Ham Croissants and to solve each and every crisis in the world over Sweet Potato Casserole ( courtesy of blogger Murisopsis).

No Christmas seafood this year as the thought of queuing for three hours in the middle of a Pandemic held no appeal. Cross that Christmas tradition off the List.

We were sharing our earliest memories of Christmas one night and my brain went back fifty years to making White Christmas with a cousin on Christmas Eve. Never ate the stuff myself – far too sugary – but the memories of mixing, taste testing, and family are vivid. It was a tradition throughout childhood.

With the arrival of the first grandchild the mother was interested in instigating such a tradition for little Harry Kilom for next December when he is more human and less  “pooh-and-spew.” A tradition is “a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past.”

The child’s aunt, Cat Balou, last year instigated a calendar featuring said child with a new meme for every month which was distributed amongst the family.

It seems we have a new family tradition with the creation of another calendar with a monthly meme for the coming year.

Here’s to Family, Fun and Tradition, both new and old, for the New Year. Blogging Family included.


How To Make Gravy & Granita For Xmas

It’s December 21st which means that it is time “to make gravy”.

It is also time to watch the best ever Christmas movie ever : Die Hard. I ‘m going to order this decoration for next years Xmas tree.

The house is spic and span and has been totally rearranged to avoid any accidents and collisions. Smashed wine glasses on a toddlers head conjures up such awful visions. Likewise I don’t fancy a trip to the vets so the garden too has been organised so that the grandfurbaby is unable to munch on chillis.

I will however be making a canine version of a croquembouque using meat balls and peanut butter to occupy the pup and I also have an oversupply of palm fronds for him to chew. The only issue is that he likes to play with the possums during the night which means I’ll be getting up three or four times a night with him. It’s harder than having a newborn in the house.

Meet Paulini and her joey

It remains wickedly hot here. Argghhhh, the memories of Christmas’ Past when the paper hats from the bonbons disintegrated on your head through perspiration…….

Not a sweets cook, never have been, so the Lychee and Coconut Granita sorely tested my skillset. I served with mint leaves, though my guests suggested berries or passionfruit as an accompaniment.

Blend together : 1 x tin of lychees including juice
1 x tin of coconut milk.
Pour into a metal tray and freeze.

( Tip: I froze over night. Do not serve immediately to anyone with dental issues. 3 hours in the freezer is probably sufficient. )

Dessert complimented my Xmas Placemats beautifully.

Merry Christmas and remember…..

My Home Town

Cleveland was the traditional territory of the Koobenpul clan of the Quandamooka.

European settlement of Brisbane and surrounding areas was banned from 1824 until 1842, due to the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement ( where convicts were detained on an island named St Helena, infamous for its barbaric cruelty) though the area to become Cleveland was first surveyed in 1840, and in 1841, was recommended for a maritime or seaport.

In 1847 the Government planned for the new town, and on 13 December 1850, Cleveland was proclaimed a township. The first land sales of the new township took place a year later, with early purchases primarily around Cleveland Point, at the time an early candidate for a major port to replace Brisbane. 

Low Tide and The Lighthouse Restaurant, famous for its fish n chips.

However, when Governor Sir George Gipps visited Cleveland in 1842, it is reported that upon disembarking his boat, he immediately sank into the mudflats up to his waist. He was so annoyed by this that he changed his mind and suggested an alternative site.

The views across Moreton Bay to North Stradbroke Island and the sandy Moreton Island are spectacular and attract many visitors, local and otherwise.  Movies filmed using this stretch of water include Unbroken ( when gossip had Angelina Jolie staying at the local pub and eating chicken schnittys) and Narnia’s “Dawn Treader” was built and located at the end of “the Point”, only to be dismantled at the end of filming much to the chagrin of locals.

In 1852, the first large buildings were built in Cleveland including what is now known as the Grand View Hotel, which just just happens to be my local. On a hot humid summer day nothing beats the beer garden of The Grandy.

Many of the traditional “Queenslander” homes have been retained and renovated and command big bikkies which adds to the Point’s charm.

And then there is “progress”.

There is a secret development application in the works for Toondah Harbour, where the ferries depart for the Islands, which will encroach on the Moreton Bay Marine Park and a Ramsar wetland of international importance that provides important habitat for: 

  • Threatened migratory shorebirds 
  • Dugongs 
  • Whales and dolphins 
  • Sea Turtles 
  • Koalas 

The area is also used by the Critically Endangered Eastern Curlews to feed and fatten up to prepare for their 10,000 km trip to their breeding grounds in the Arctic Circle.  

This development of 3,600 units and harbour facilities including mooring for private seafaring vessels will mean the loss of beautiful parkland at Cleveland Point and the mangroves will be reclaimed for high-rise apartments.

Ferries travel across the channels
Photos taken from the Beer Garden.

I guess it would be churlish to hope that they all sink……..