The end of the road…

IMG_0917

Hmm, I could have done with a camel recently. Two weeks ago I was sitting in my car at the end of our road, waiting to turn into the main street, when some hoon (for non-Aussies, that’s a person in a car who is driving like an idiot) came barrelling into the back of me, ripping off the bumper and wrecking the boot. My trusted car of eleven years was promptly written off by the insurance company, and taken to the scrap yard. The stupid driver of the other car was whinging at me about his insurance excess (being a 19 year old. Yes, it was $1,500), but I wish I had said to him, ‘hey dickhead, I’m on foot now.’

I’ve been catching public transport ever since.

Still, I wasn’t injured, and I’ve found a new car which I get tomorrow, so all is well in the world! This experience came shortly after we lost two of our little ferrets to cancer and old age. They passed away together on the same day. We’ve had a lot of change happening around us lately, and it’s made me think about the whole idea of letting go of things, and moving into new phases of your life. Not the easiest thing to do.

Sometimes you simply don’t get a choice. The best thing to do is try and accept the situation and make the best of it. While I hate public transport, I’ve rediscovered that 30 minutes to work is the perfect amount of time to get stuck into a smutty book a friend has lent me. And two new fur babies have found a home with us, from the animal shelter.

It’s hard to trust that the future will work out, but these last few weeks have shown me just that. And I got a great new car to provide it.

 

Dark Days Are Here…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYup, it’s winter in Adelaide. That means frozen feet and fingers, cold noses, tasty stews to eat, and lovely warm fabrics to wear. I really don’t like the summer because I get exhausted by the continuous sunshine, I get super sweaty at times, and we are prone to 40 degree days, which is no fun for anyone. However, now winter is on our doorstep, I’m yearning for the sun, dreaming of swimming in the sea, and I’m missing the long days. It’s dark by 5pm now. My muse thinks I could win a prize for the biggest weather whinger in the Universe.

So Jane, I hear you saying, where are you going with this dreary post? Well, I’m going to quite a fabulous place as it turns out. Now it’s winter, I had to take a long, hard look at my neglected oven, realising that it had to be cleaned if I was going to use it. I’m not keen on the thought of all those scary chemicals being used in oven cleaners, so instead, I googled a method that seemed weird, and too easy to be real.

I bloody wish I’d taken a before and after photo (but then you’d be looking at a dirty oven door photo, not a nice sunny shot of Sydney), because it was like a science experiment. My oven door was filthy, as were the oven racks. Yes, I know that’s disgusting, but really, cleaning the oven is just not something I have made a priority when there are manuscripts to be worked on. So, without further ado, let me share this amazing cleaning tip with you, which resulted in an oven that literally sparkled!

CLEANING YOUR OVEN WITH MINIMAL CHEMICALS

You need a bottle of ammonia, and a jug of boiling water. Firstly, preheat the oven to 150 C, or 300F, for about ten minutes. Turn the heat off. Next, place 1-2 cups of ammonia into an oven proof dish. I used a ceramic casserole dish, but you can also use a heatproof glass dish. Put this on the top shelf, and put another oven proof dish, containing 2 cups of boiling water, on the shelf below. Now shut the door and leave it overnight. In the morning, take out the dishes and wipe out the oven with a cloth. My oven door was so bad I used a scouring pad on it, but the dirt just seemed to lift off! Next, I did the inside of the oven, then I soaked the shelves in the laundry tub, in hot soapy water, with a splash more of ammonia. I scrubbed them after about half and hour, and was amazed to find their colour was actually silver, not black!! The oven sparkled. I was amazed. You will be too.

Remember to ventilate your room well if you are using ammonia (it’s pretty stinky), and wear gloves when handling chemicals. Don’t mix the ammonia with anything else. All in all I can’t recommend it enough. Here is the original article I found on the net. I hope they don’t mind me sharing it with you, but somethings are too good not to share.

http://www.superheroindisguise.com.au/clean-your-oven/

In the presence of a princess…

IMG_4746I’m not talking about myself being a princess, although my muse likes to think he is the king of the castle from time to time (good luck with that!) No, this week was super exciting because Prince William, Princess Kate (I’m going to call her a princess because she is so lovely), and baby George have been in Australia, and on Wednesday, they came to little old Adelaide. They flew in to town in the morning and left in the afternoon. My friend Jess and I decided to go along and see them, joining in the 50,000 crowd lining the streets, to wave them a royal hello.

Strangely, they chose to go to the suburb of Elisabeth. This is not a suburb with a great reputation. I think a lot of people got offended that they weren’t been taken to our wine region, or to somewhere equally upper class. Instead, they got taken to a break dancing demonstration in a suburb known for missing front teeth and unemployment, and they seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. Jess and I had a ball too. The secret service guys were good looking (which is excellent, because when you are standing around for five hours, you want something good to look at), the people around us were hilarious, and they shared their sweets with us. All in all, a great day. Oh yeah, and we got to see William and Kate from a distance. They looked very nice. Despite the fact Jess and I got badly sunburnt (it’s autumn for crying out loud. Who gets sunburnt in autumn?), we feel we were privileged to be part of history in some small way.

So, what is the point of all this? Well, I came away from the day glad that I am not royalty. I think I would find it hard not to swear, and even harder to be so nice all the time. I probably wouldn’t be as thin as Kate either, nor would I want to have to sit up so straight in my chair all day at receptions. No, I’m glad to be me, and I’m glad my muse is my prince/king (whatever), and that I can slouch down and watch Dr Phil at lunch. It’s a bloody good life.

 

 

 

Summer in the City

photo-90 A big truck rolled up outside my house today. I was inside, doing housework on a 43 degree day (110F). At first, I thought ‘oh my Lord, my muse has got me a smart car for Valentine’s Day!!’ In fact, it was a new neighbour moving in next door and this was the truck with all his stuff in it.

photo-89Things got a bit hairy when I realised they were trying to back down the lane beside my house. Please note, that’s my car they are just about squashing!! I went out into the street, dressed in a completely inappropriate outfit (pole dancing shorts with not enough fake tan on my legs to go anywhere in this getup), only to find out that my new neighbour is a really nice guy, who works as a nurse too (although I’m not sure if he is a writer as well). I think they put a big scratch on my car, but I can’t prove it…

‘What’s the point of this post Jane?’ I hear you saying. Well, there isn’t any point to the above story. However, here are my top five fabulous features of a heatwave! Cos I can’t listen to anymore whinging about the heat, including my own voice banging on in my head. Here’s a photo of me wearing a jumper, which makes me nostalgic… Although one of my ferrets caught their nail in this said cardi, and it ended up in the rubbish bin.

photo-87I’m trying to return to my zen zone, instead of ‘my body is about to spontaneously combust and I’m ready to kill you’ zone.

TOP FIVE FAB THINGS ABOUT A HEATWAVE!

1) You can wash ANYTHING in this heat, and it will dry. I could drag my king sized mattress out onto a plastic mat on the back lawn, spray the whole thing with water, drench it in sheep dip, and leave it to dry. It would be done in an hour.

2) You can ditch the diet. During a heatwave, no one has the strength for discipline. Lemonade, chilled beer, red wine, chips and anything else your body fancies are allowed. After all, losing all that sweat is bound to create some sort of electrolyte imbalance. The same excuse can be used to ditch your exercise routine.

3) If you get grumpy, you can blame it on the heat. I like to stand over the hot stove, with a face like a beetroot, yelling things at the TV, that normally I couldn’t get away with. My muse knows to leave well alone.

4) You are stuck inside all day. Even going out to the washing line for five minutes can result in heatstroke (but the washing is dry in 20 minutes), so there is no excuse not to get on with all those creative projects you would normally do in winter.

5) You can throw all your dishes into the cupboard dripping with water, because they will dry themselves in about 30 seconds. In fact, you can stand under the shower fully dressed and soak all your clothes, then go for a stroll up the road to the shops. You will be dry by the time you get there!

So there we have it. Time for bed, and if I wake up baked in my own sweat at 2am, at least I have the Winter Olympics to cool me down!

Lessons Learnt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOkay, this photo is pretty radical. Clearly I am not in IKEA buying my dream bookcase.

“What’s happening Jane?” I hear you say. “Are you performing a tracheotomy in a restaurant on a dying person, has someone thrown up on you, or are you in pain from being shot in a hold up?” Well, it’s none of the above. It’s me in a Bali toilet (it’s a selfie!) God, I hate public toilets. It’s what puts me off traveling overseas. If I was one of those blessed creatures who don’t care about what goes on around them, then I would have been to Bhutan and back, several times. But I hate it. I hate plane toilets. I hate all toilets that are not my own. I have nightmares about going to the loo in public places.

So, what does this have to do about my blog? Nothing really. It’s 10pm and I’ve just scratched some chilli in my eye by mistake (where did that come from??), I have a 5am wake up call for a nursing shift a the hospital which may, or may not be available (ahhhh, the joys of being a casual worker), and I’m in the middle of editing my new book, which I am having a mini meltdown over (it’s crap. I am crap. My writing is crap.) So perhaps that’s why I posted a photo of me looking at some crap in a loo.

On a brighter note, here is a fabulous way to restore confidence in all areas of life, when one is doubting oneself (that might be the lesson learnt, because the title implies something wise and deep, which is not really going to happen!)

SKIN POLISH

Okay, so forget about spending loads of money on skin exfoliation products. Just grab some castor sugar, pour it into a bowl, and add a good dash of a body lotion. I find sorbalene works wonderfully for this. Now hop in the shower, and rub it all over your body. Rinse off, et voila! A polished skin. You won’t be disappointed. (Public health warning: obviously, don’t rub so hard your skin comes off and don’t rub it on your face).

 

It was the night before Christmas…

photo-76The day before Christmas…

Today is the equivalent of going on a complicated overseas holiday, to a destination you are not entirely sure how you should pack for. You get to the immigration gate and you can no longer pack another pair of knickers, or some more sunblock. All the shops are closed, and suddenly it’s too late to post anymore Christmas cards, or buy anymore gifts.

That’s how I feel about Christmas. As for the food situation, I blame all the stupid Christmas specials they put on TV in Australia for the mess in my fridge.

Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson (OMG, what a year she’s had. Love her to bits), Gordon Ramsay and Rick Stein. I’m so confused… We don’t have snow in summer, so why are we roasting a chicken tomorrow, and boiling a pudding in a big pot on the stove?

Well Jane, I hear you say, what’s so hard about that? What’s so bloody hard is that we just went through two days of the hottest temperatures in December ever on record – 43C degrees (110F). Sitting inside a house about to burst into flames from the sheer heat outside, while watching Jamie Oliver cooking in the snow (and everyone else mentioned above), is just wrong. I feel like I should be bounding out my front door, to carol singers, snow, and a hundred things roasting in the oven, while surrounded by loving family members, who never make you so angry you could murder them. Instead, we should all be at the beach, bounding out of the surf in our bikinis (another fantasy which won’t be happening,) drinking martinis and eating prawns with salad.

However, a gal and her Muse can make the best of any situation and we have a lovely Christmas day planned, with some friends, food which won’t need hours in the oven, and some bubbles in a glass (we can’t call it champagne anymore – Australian sparkling!)

On that note, I’m going to give the recipe for a lovely Christmas Day.

1. Forget your diet

2. Drink some nice bubbles

3. Hide when the cleaning up needs to be done

4. Listen to some Celine Dion

Have a great Christmas, and remember… the mince pies, Christmas pudding and brandy cream will all be gone for another year, this time next week, so enjoy.

xxx

 

Nearly Better Than Celine…

IMG_0741 About two weeks ago, I had the chance to grab a place in a masterclass with a famous Australian author, Fiona McIntosh. She was brilliant. So brilliant, I contemplated ditching Celine Dion as my ‘go-to-girl’ when I need advice, instead replacing her with Fiona McIntosh as my screen saver. However, there have to be limits to your loyalties, and Celine is pretty well up there for me. Having said that, I love Fiona McIntosh only a smidgen less than Celine (you have been put on notice Mrs Dion).

What did you learn on your course, I hear you say? Well, I discovered the novel I was writing was crap, and I am now working on a new novel as a result of the course. Sometimes, you just have to change lanes mid-journey and be true to yourself (that sounds deep!) Fiona showed me that discipline (ie. not lying in bed until 9am on your days off reading Hello magazine), determination (not watching Dr Phil instead of writing while lying on the couch on your days off), and belief in yourself (as opposed to lying in the fetal position while chugging down red wine, when you get home from being sent to work in the ER as a nurse, when you have no emergency training), are what you need to succeed as a writer. That and a lucky break.

So, having pitched my imaginary new novel to a Sydney editor who came to the course (it was a masterclass!!!), I now have to write said imaginary novel, in about eight weeks. I think that could be my lucky break. I hope so, but if not, then well, fucked if I know. I shall post some new spring recipes soon. Until then – leap, then look. It works!

When your mojo vanishes…

photo-60 Something weird and wrong has happened in my universe. I can’t go into the kitchen at the moment, I can’t cook, I don’t want to read recipe books… I’ve lost my cooking mojo. I found this definition of mojo

Self-confidence, Self-assuredness. As in basis for belief in ones self in a situation. Especially in the context of contest or display of skill such as sexual advances or going into battle (author: or making dinner).

I was looking outside today at my garden (pictured above). I think this sums up where I’m at. This is what the garden looked like last year:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow it’s a friggin’ wasteland of weeds and half dead chilli bushes. I told my muse (husband), who is now on cooking duty, that maybe I’m gearing up for a mid-life crisis. The problem is, I can’t think of anything I would like to do, to mark such a crisis. A friend of mine is having twins at 50 years of age, another friend left her husband and found the love of her life, and yet another friend has decided to train as a kineseologist. None of these options appeal. I was thinking of a trip to Paris, but everyone does that. Plus, my birthday is in the middle of the tourist season. Then I thought about working in a hospital overseas, but I work as a nurse here, so it doesn’t really make much sense. I might just give up cooking, and sit morosely looking out the window for a week or two. I could pout, and look interesting, sip some wine and read a book. Except I still have to go food shopping, and clean the house (and tend to the pet ferrets) so that’s not going to work either.

Meanwhile, the release of my new e-book romance is getting closer. Maybe, I will have a little party to celebrate instead. That, and the return of the sun. I can’t remember the last time it stopped raining, or wasn’t grey outside. French Champagne. That might be the magic needed to pull me from my slump and bring back my mojo…

Let’s move on from condensed milk…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHmm, I’m feeling guilty about sugar today. I’m feeling bad about processed foods and carbohydrates too. I’m feeling bad that I haven’t been to pole dancing for a couple of weeks, and that I still haven’t joined the pilates class I’ve been talking about. I feel guilty that I don’t bound out of bed, eager to go nursing on the days I’m not writing, and that I often cancel my shifts when I don’t need to because I can’t face the patients whinging at me. I feel bad that I watch too much TV in the evenings instead of working on worthy craft projects, and that I like gin so much. I feel angry at myself that I bitch about people and that I never meditate, and that I haven’t saved more money in my life. Not to mention that my garden has run to rack and ruin, and is full of friggin’ weed and crap. Apart from that, it’s a gorgeous, nearly spring day outside today. I posted the photo of our markets in the city. They are awesome. Every week I feel bad that I go to Woolworths instead to shop…  I should go for an afternoon walk now, but I think I might lie down and have a little nap instead. I’m exhausted!!

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sauce for Ice Cream

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve just been watching the news, and seen the heatwave in some parts of America. It’s scary stuff to be caught in. We went to a New Year’s Eve party at a hotel two years ago, and the temperature was still 40 degrees (104 Fahrenheit) at midnight. The hotel went into meltdown, with the air conditioning failing. Needless to say, we left early, and went home. It’s not much fun having sweat coming off the end of your eyelashes! So my thoughts are with the people in those areas, even though it is 4 degrees this morning (39 Fahrenheit). It’s also the final day of the Summer Blog Hop. It’s been so much fun collecting new recipe ideas from fellow writers. I’m going miss it! So, to finish up, I’m doing a dish with no garlic. It’s not one I make too often, because once made, it doesn’t last very long (in other words, I eat it all).

Ingredients:

175ml of thick cream

100g chopped up milk chocolate

100g smooth peanut butter

3 tablespoons of golden syrup

Method: Put all the ingredients into a saucepan. Stir over a low heat until melted together. Once cooled, either eat it all directly from the saucepan, or spoon it over ice cream. Consume in the shade. Yuuummmmmm.