Plagues and Death


Well, May didn’t quite turn out how I thought it would. By that I mean, even in a pandemic, where your entire life is turned upside down, you can still end up on a spin cycle that you didn’t see coming, on top of the pandemic that you kind of saw coming, but still can’t believe arrived.

Our little ferret Maisy (pictured above) got a respiratory viral infection at the beginning of May and died. She fought so hard to stay, but in the end, her little body just couldn’t take anymore and we lost her on our wedding anniversary. It was horrible, and I miss her everyday.

At the same time, I noticed black dandruff coming off our five month old rescue cat Sparkles. She literally is a rescue cat, as I rescued her from the next door neighbours garden in January, when she was a tiny, lost scrap of a kitten. I casually googled black cat dandruff and discovered she was INFESTED with cat fleas. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have a bit of a phobia when it comes to fleas, and trying to deal with that, while Maisy was so sick, was stressful.

Thank God for my washing machine. Fifteen boiled loads of washing later, the house was sanitised and scrubbed, although my friendly vet informed me that problem will be with us for years, and in fact, I’ll probably never get rid of the billions of flea eggs around the house. So Lottie, our remaining ferret, and Sparkles settled into their new routine in our very quiet house. It didn’t last. A few weeks later, hubby and I agreed to foster three gorgeous ferrets from the ferret shelter. They needed a home, and they all come with physical issues, so they can’t be adopted out. We thought it was the least we could do to help out the shelter. Lottie and Sparkles were totally unimpressed with the new arrivals, but after a lot of squealing, chasing of the cat and general ponging of their scent glands, the tribe has now come together harmoniously, so we have five animals in our care.

Great, I thought. Everyone is getting along and it looks like we’ve flattened the flea curve so things can settle down now.

But no. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Turns out, as soon as I let my guard down on the flea front, we had a second wave. The new ferrets came with their own fleas, so everyone got reinfested, and all had to have baths and be dosed with flea treatments. Sparkles sleeps in our bed, and the new arrivals had been bounding all over the bed, and into every dark corner, and couch pillow in the house. It’s winter now so I can’t possibly wash everything again. The vacuum cleaner and flea comb have become my best friend.

Pandemic dramas. They bring their own special problems. Along with the fleas, I think I’ve given myself RSI from kneading bread dough, and whisking flour into butter and sugar, because I’ve been in a baking frenzy trying to get through a huge bag of flour I stupidly purchased, thinking we would never see flour again. The flour is poor quality too, so it hasn’t been a very satisfying experience. Thankfully I don’t have a stash of 540 toilet rolls to work through too. Honestly, 2020 is just the weirdest year all round. What else is going to happen?

We shall have to wait and see. Meanwhile, our house has closed its borders to any new animals coming to visit. A third wave of fleas is not going to happen (until next summer when apparently all the eggs will hatch – dear God).

Stay safe and flea free




Not so long ago, in a land now far, far away, a friend and I went walking one summer morning. And, we stopped at a bakery and had breakfast. I’m so glad now that I ate what was quite frankly, a glorious meat pie that morning, because now, we couldn’t do this activity at all. The bakery is closed for sitting down and eating, the road it is on is too narrow for social distancing with a friend, and if you did manage to get a meat pie, you’d have to eat it out of a paper bag, perched on someone’s fence down the road (okay, I might have done that). Yes, I know meat pies are not the breakfast of champions, but it was so delicious, and reminded me that sometimes you just have to seize the moment, because god knows (literally) what might be heading our way, so it is important to enjoy what is in front of you.

So Jane, I hear you say, share something with us that will help us while we are stuck inside. Okay, I’m not even going to pretend this is healthy, but it is seriously one of the most delicious slices I’ve ever baked (and eaten – I can’t stop when it’s around). It’s super simple too, so if you can get it into the oven and baked without eating all the filling, then you are in for a treat. It’s a really old recipe from New Zealand (where I grew up). Hopefully you can get the ingredients. It doesn’t contain loo paper or hand sanitiser so that’s a good start. Let me know if you try it!


185g butter
310g flour
60g sugar

Rub the butter into the sifted flour which has been mixed with the sugar. Press into a sponge roll tin lined with baking paper, but save some of this mixture to sprinkle on top of the filling.

125g butter
1 tin of condensed milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup

Warm these delicious ingredients together in a saucepan and don’t even think about the calories. Pour over the base in the sponge tin and sprinkle the remaining base over the top like breadcrumbs.

Bake for around 30 minutes at 180C


A New World

I’m not even going to try and justify the time it’s been since I last posted, but in this weird, new world we find ourselves in, I thought I’d like to fire up my blog again. Here in Adelaide we are not in official ‘lockdown’, but so many places are closed that there is no where to go, and really nothing to do. Plus, the government is asking us all the stay at home. So here we are…

To be honest, it’s strange, but not unpleasant to finally have an excuse to get on with all the craft projects that have been lying around half finished for what seems like forever. I was in the process of setting up my own business, but all that’s been put on hold. I have been put back on the nursing registry by the Australian Government, but whether or not I get called back into duty is something to wait and see about. Who would have thought?

My muse (husband) is around the house more, and thank God that’s a good thing. We also have a new member of the family – Sparkles – a rescue kitty. That’s her hanging off the front door. She even gets on with the ferrets.

So, here we are. A very uncertain future, but I’m certain there will be good things to come out of this situation.

But dear God, look at the banner for my blog. No social distancing there. I’m going to have to update that I think!!

Okay. See you soon.


Super Annoying!

IMG_0980 If this year has taught me nothing else so far, it’s that kombucha tea does not give you super powers, and that the whole superfoods movement is a load of wilted kale. My kombucha tea scoby is now in the compost, and yesterday I discovered that my organically grown kale plants were being destroyed by caterpillars. After picking about 40 of the little bastards off my ravished plants, I realised the only thing left for it, was to uproot the whole lot and be done with the kale phase of my life.


I felt too guilty to just bin it in the compost, so I took a deep breath and spent the next hour trying to wash all the caterpillars out of the curly kale leaves.



Finally, facing a mountain of clean kale, I got out my trusty NutriBullet and pulverised the lot, before pouring the extremely bright green liquid into ice cube trays. I now have about 60 kale cubes ready for green smoothies. They are pretty smelly, but I think it will work. Either that or they will be thrown in the bin in due course.

So, that’s it so far for organic gardening and fermented super foods. I think my next task will be to find an exercise class I enjoy. Anyone for yoga?


I’ve Admitted Defeat



Well, at least on the kale front. I’m just going to say it. I don’t like kale, I can’t stand quinoa and I think my green smoothie days are over. However, I’m still loving my fruit smoothies so all is not lost with my Magic Bullet. I also had to admit defeat this week on squashing my creativity into a rigid daily timetable of set amount of words at a set time each day.

At the beginning of the year I set myself quite a few ‘goals’. I’ve realised that my life can’t be that rigid. I do know some people can organise themselves into powerhouses of amazing achievements, but I’m not one of them. Instead, I’m sitting down for an hour each day and just writing for the fun of it. No word count, no deadlines, no pressure. Otherwise, writing becomes like having to drink a kale smoothie every morning vs. eating what you feel like at breakfast. There’s something so depressing about ‘should’. I’m not saying discipline isn’t important (hello weekly yoga class and daily french lessons on Duolingo), but at the end of the day, I’m not sure following some weird idea of what life ‘should be’ is a recipe for success.

So, onwards! With less kale, a few more laughs and less pressure to achieve.

An alien poo in my tea


I’ve got a feeling fermented foods are going to be the next craze in our fad-obsessed diet culture. But that’s a good thing, because 70% of our immune system exists in out gut, and fermented foods are excellent for improving gut health.

So, enter kombucha tea; a fermented substance that looks something like an alien poo, floating in a sea of urine (that’s the nurse in me coming out – sorry). It’s a pretty scary looking brew, however you view it.


I came across it at a health fair, where I spoke to a herbalist who sold me a bottle of the tea. There was a tiny wisp of the alien poo thing (called a scoby), floating in the cold brew. After a bit of internet searching, I decided to try and produce my own tea, by growing the scoby, with the hope that I wasn’t going to poison myself to death in the process. The top picture shows how big the initial scoby was, and the bottom photo is what it looks like at the moment. So far, both myself and my muse are still alive. The finished product tastes much better than it looks, that is if you like things that taste like a cross between vinegar and sweet tea. The floating poo thingie sits in a brew of cold, sugary tea, and turns it into fermented kombucha tea, which you drink morning and night (just a tiny cup full at this stage.)

I’m not even going to attempt to advise on how to cultivate this stuff, as I’m still on a learning curve, but if you are interested, then it’s certainly a journey into quite strange food territory. And it’s something you can use to frighten unwanted guests away!

I’ll let you know how it goes…

A Magic Bullet…


I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but I succumbed to the whole ‘green smoothie’ fad, after a recent visit from my friend David. David is one of the wisest people I know when it comes to nutrition, herbs, and anything to do with health really. So, when he told me about how good the NutriBullet smoothies were, I was willing to be open minded.

Then the universe stepped in, and I won enough money on a random bet at the casino to buy one!! You can argue with that.

‘So Jane, have you become a kale drinking hipster?’, I hear you ask. Well, not exactly. But I have started putting more fruit and veggies in my diet via my Magic Bullet superfood nutrition extractor (yup, I’ve watched those infomercials), and I am feeling better. I’m not saying that adding a shot of vodka to the morning mix wouldn’t make it a even nicer, but, as this is my year of getting my act together on as many fronts as possible, this is a damn easy way to rev up your diet.


Mind you, you need a good recipe. The first one I made went down the drain. It was disgusting. So, here is my version of a green smoothie (thanks David!) I want to try drinking one a day for a month. And, if I don’t feel better at the end of the four weeks, then I’m heading straight to McDonalds for a burger and coke.

Hipster Kale Smoothie Drink

2 pitted dates

1 tablespoon raw cashews

1 large celery stalk

Slice of fresh ginger (to taste, it makes the smoothie very zingy)

1 small red apple (no seeds or core)

2 kale leaves

1/2 peeled lemon (no skin, no seeds, no pith)

1 cup of cold water, or coconut water if you want to be super trendy

Combine the lot in your Magic Bullet blender and blast it to kingdom come.

It’s the end of an era

photo-121Well, it’s a day I never thought would come when I was in my twenties, thirties, or let’s be honest, even my forties. I’m fifty years old tomorrow.


How the hell did that happen? In most Western cultures, turning fifty is meant to be accompanied by a few achievements – a happy marriage, a house nearly paid off, maybe a couple of kids, and a career which is reaching it’s peak. Hmm, I’ve missed a few of the boxes along the way. Apart from the husband (found at forty), I’m not going to be able to invite you to gather around my camp fire, to listen to the wisdom of how I achieved all that women my age seem to be meant to have.

So, on the eve of a rather scary transition from one age to another, I hear you saying ‘Jane, share some of your wisdom with us! Tell us a secret we can’t know. You are an old chook now. There must be something.’

Okay, lean in. I’m about to share a secret which may change the landscape of your life.

How do you get entry into the grooviest bars in town, be on first name basis with the head cocktail waiter and/or owner, to the point they even know your favourite drink, and may let you in when the bar is full. No mean feat at any age.  Here’s the secret. Gather around while I whisper it to you.

Turn up when the bar first opens. Yes, this may mean you are there just after 5pm. Yes, it may be five hours before you normally go out. There will be no one else in the bar. You can chat to the bored staff, let them mix you a drink which they invented and want to try out on you, then gush over it because it will probably be friggin delicious, and et voila, they remember you forever! Not that hard.

The other piece of wisdom I have to impart is this. Many people don’t get to celebrate getting older. I see it all the time when I nurse at the hospital. I really can see the benefit of enjoying each day, enjoying the journey and being thankful that you are still here to celebrate it. You can’t stop the march of time, but you can bloody well make sure you know the best bartenders in town to help you pave the way to old age.



Kitchen Myths

photo-151One of the benefits of being currently underemployed is I get to watch morning TV as I go about my household chores. Lately, I’ve decided to stop watching the morning news shows (too scary), and have been watching Jamie Oliver’s Thirty Minute Meals instead. The trouble with this sort of TV show is you get to thinking that you too can create something fabulous, in half an hour, in one pot for dinner… With lots of spare time on my hands, I started going through my folder of recipes I rip out from magazines, which I’ve been meaning to try for ages. Last night, it was time to try something new.

Chicken Pasta Bake. It looked so simple, and implied in the instructions were that it would take twenty minutes to make, was easy to prepare and was perfect for busy, time poor people. That’s not me at the moment, but pushing through the social guilt of not being a stressed-out, high flying career woman, I gave it a go. The above photo is the end result of this bloody recipe. Jamie Oliver would be disgusted. It took me forever to make – at least one and a half hours. The kitchen resembled a war zone, as I filled the dishwasher up entirely with pots and pans. I got so hot and flustered, I completely lost the plot and ended up screaming at my muse, as my ‘ready for 7pm dinner dish’ ended up being served at 8pm.

The dish was entirely ordinary.

Which brings me to the conclusion that a lot of those untried recipes, which promise to be ready in half an hour, should just stay in that recipe folder. Much like the perfect career, the perfect marriage or perfect children, these images we are sold by the likes of Jamie Oliver, Nigella and Rick Stein, are like episodes of The Bold and The Beautiful. They exist in a world of fantasy, far beyond the reach of an everyday woman… (The Bold and the Beautiful is on before Jamie Oliver in the mornings, so I know what I’m talking about).

However, there are exceptions to all rules and in the true spirit of a true one pot dinner, I am going to share a wonderful chorizo sausage stew I make. You can cook it in one big pot. It tastes awesome. It’s easy to make. It only takes half an hour. I think there is a lesson in all of this. Probably that I should leave the TV turned off in the mornings, and instead concentrate on my studying my Chinese lessons from YouTube (yup, that’s something else you can do when you are underemployed. Learn a new language). Hmm, I wonder if they do cooking tutorials too?




4 chorizo sausages, sliced

1 brown onion, chopped

2 crushed cloves of garlic

1 red capsicum, chopped

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp smoked paprika

400g can chopped tomatoes

2 cups beef stock

420g can corn kernels, drained

400g can cannellini beans, drained

1 bay leaf

2 tsps chopped fresh thyme (I use dried if I don’t have fresh)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Put the cut up sausages into a large pot and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until brown. Add the onion, garlic and capsicum. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft. Throw in the spices and stir around for about 30 seconds before adding everything else. I sometimes put tomato paste in as well, if I want the stew to be thicker. Simmer for about 20 minutes and serve with garlic bread. You can also top the stew with a dollop of sour cream, so take that Jamie Oliver!

What A Week…

photo 1-13Firstly, a big apology for the lack of posts in May. ‘Jane, we’ve really missed you. Where have you been?’ I hear you say. Well, I’ve been a bit down. Not getting any work at the hospital where you’re employed as a casual nurse, sending off your manuscript to publishers who don’t get back to you, realising you haven’t lost those ten kilos yet, and nearly ripping your thumb off while dismounting from your aerial hoop at circus class can take it’s toll on a gal’s joie de vie. However, as always, there is one person I look to for guidance and courage.

My Celine.

‘Celeine, what would you do if you were me?’ And invariably, I feel her reaching out to me to say ‘Jane, dust yourself off, hold your head high, and get back out there.’

It was also an extremely busy week in this usually quiet town. I got interviewed by a TV station about my writing, attended a healthcare protest on the steps of parliament, and then we had an armed siege not far from my house which closed off the centre of the city.

My friend Lauren also made me this totally delicious recipe which probably won’t help me lose 10kgs, but is so tasty and easy to make, I’m going to share it.

Boursin Stuffed Mushrooms In Chilli Garlic Butter


3 large Swiss mushrooms, or 6 smaller button mushrooms (but not the tiny ones)

50g garlic and herb Boursin cheese

20g butter

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 red chilli, finely chopped (add more if you love chilli)

Cracked black pepper


Heath the oven to 190 C/376F. Pull the stems out of the mushrooms and discard. Next open the packet of cheese and try not to eat it all before you use it. Squish the cheese into the mushroom caps, then place the mushrooms into a baking dish.

Heat the butter to melt, and add the crushed garlic and chilli. Spoon the mixture onto the cheese-filled mushrooms, sprinkle with black pepper and put in the oven to bake for around 20 minutes.