I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaBloPoMo is No Mo'

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo, and again I find myself feeling enormously pleased with myself for having made it through the month without too many "cheater posts" (a cheater post being one where I said nothing interesting, or just posted a link or whatever). And as per the last several years I've done this, I finish with the intention of continuing on because I like the intellectual pressure of having to come up with something to say on a daily basis, I like the therapeutic nature of blogging, and frankly I find it all just a bit of fun (and an ego stroke that there are people who give a shit about what I have to say.) Each year I promise myself that this year, I'll keep blogging daily. This year, I'll set myself a 365 posts challenge. This year, I'll bring back the weekly activities I used to have (namely baking recipes you are meant to go and share with other people.) This year, I'll be a better blogger. This year, I'll edit every post (for grammar, spelling AND content) before hitting the publish button.

I'm not going to say ANY of that this year - because the year is about progress, and I've learned that sometimes progress is knowing when to say no, or knowing when to just say, "What I'm doing is good enough for now," or just plain old, "Fuck it." So in the spirit of progress, this year I'm going to say I'd *like* to blog a bit more often (and to a higher quality), but if I don't always get to it...well, that's okay too. I did not start this blog with the intention of being on the scale of the Mommy Bloggers who quit their day jobs to write full time. I never thought I'd have any readers beyond my husband and my in-laws, never thought I would use this as anything other than a chronicle of life as a wife, mother, lover of all things sugary and baked, and person for whom sarcasm is a way of life. Of course, it's been ALL of that - and far, far more - but there is some itty bitty teeny tiny part of me that wishes it was all that and then all that PLUS all that and then all that again. The only way to achieve ALL THAT would be to blog more often - because writing is a skill like any other, and it requires practice and perseverance in order to improve at it.

Not surprisingly, being insanely competitive with oneself does not only apply to exercise or business or weight loss. Like everything else in my life, blogging is something I expect to excel at - actually, I work DAMN HARD at excelling at. Good enough...isn't good enough. Ever.


As I mentioned earlier, in the new year (word yet to be determined, although some of the suggestions have got my brain ticking over) I'd really like to be more about what I AM doing rather than the endless beating myself up over the "coulda shoulda woulda wanta needta. RIGHT NOW." So - let me leave you with only this promise: I'll do my best to write more often, and continue to be mostly witty and soul-baringly honest. Sometimes, I'll be boring. Sometimes there will be long gaps between posts. Sometimes I will fail and sometimes I will succeed ...but always I will be grateful to the 6 of you who keep reading, and I'll keep on writing for the six of you and the one of me because we all seem to enjoy it.

And that, as they say, is that.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Those Crazy Kids

I found out about a project which pairs up local businesses with students doing their degrees in IT at about the same time I needed some IT work done.  The basic idea is that the kids involved get some real life experience, and the business gets an inexpensive (eg free other than time) product which hopefully they can get some use out of. They are very careful at the start of the partnership to let you know that NOTHING may come of it at all, that these are after all students, and that it's not a matter of getting free labour as much as it is a potentially beneficial activity. There are no guarantees that you'll end up with anything at all but of course the hope is that you will.

On Monday morning I went to my group's final presentation of the system they designed for the business. They designed a cloud based customer database (or if we're fancy, CRM system- Customer Relationship Management system), which among other things can keep track of our clients and their orders and payments, produce a bunch of reports, auto-send a bunch of reminder emails (to various templates), generate invoices, track income, and a bunch of other pretty cool features. The final presentation was just fabulous - my band of merry nerds had gotten all dressed up (as had I), they gave a really great presentation and everyone was suitably impressed with them. So they should be, those kids worked incredibly hard and produced a great piece of work which I believe I'll be able to get a lot of use out of. It's not entirely done - it's about 90% there - but I've hired these same kids to finish the job for me, so I will get it working for us probably by the end of the year.

So here's the thing I found most amazing - literally every time I had a meeting with these kids and their supervisors, and today at the presentation, a bunch of people THANKED ME for being an outstanding client. It actually got kinda embarrassing there for a few minutes with all the gushing and photo taking and carrying on. Literally, the kids themselves, their teachers, a bunch of local Council representatives, and other academics kept telling me what an amazing client I am, how seriously I took it all, how much the kids appreciated my professionalism, and so on. So either I'm really that fabulous, or they've had pretty bad client experiences before, or maybe both of those...but the part which really bothers me is, SURELY these kids *deserved* to be treated with kindness, respect and professionalism. OF COURSE they did. OF COURSE. That anyone - and anyone in small business - would think or behave otherwise is just, to me, appalling.

From the minute I started this project, I basically treated it no differently to any other business relationship where I need a product or service and another company is providing it to me. That I was dealing with a group of pizza-eating, Coke-swilling, messy jeans and t-shirt wearing young men made NO difference to me at all. For their part, my group was professional, organised, pleasant ...and unless I knew I was dealing with 19 year olds, I'd have assumed I was dealing with adults working for a normal, professional consulting firm. In a word, they were totally awesome and worked damn hard for me (added bonus, they practically orgasmed every time I walked into a meeting with a box of cupcakes for them.)

That they needed to thank me so much for simply behaving like a grown up...well, that just proves that maturity clearly is not related to age or experience.

Monday, November 28, 2011

That Dance Show

This past weekend was DD2's dance recital. I'd like to carry on about how horribly cruel it is to make parents sit through 3.5 hours of dancing, but The Neighbour's Wife took care of that one for me. Instead I'm going to ask the question: Is the 3.5 hours about what the kids want, or what the parents demand?

My daughter was in 8 different dance pieces - and there were *46* pieces all up in this one concert. Yes, she does 3 sorts of dance (ballet, jazz, tap)...but I've got to be honest with you, I would have been quite happy to have seen her in only 3 pieces and that's it. DD2 told me that some girls were in as many as 13 dances. Let's digest that for a second here - we're asking a 10 year old kid to perform in THIRTEEN dance pieces. Ridiculous! Who is it that wants to see so many, and who is it that is demanding so many in the first place? I adore my DD and I'm proud of her achievements, but for me her dancing is much more about fitness, confidence and fun than it is about some overblown performance at the end of the year.  I simply don't understand the logic behind this - which again makes me ask, is this about the KID or is this about the PARENT? My own kid, who feels that dancing is a vital part of her very survival, was herself pretty stressed out about all those costume changes and how much she had to remember. She too was asking why she needed to do SO many of them, and unfortunately I had no (reasonable, without curse words) answer for her.

I imagine the owner of the dance school feels the pressure to give parents what they pay for, and at something like $1500 a year (I'm including shoes, etc in that), and ferrying your kid to class twice a week for weeks on end...you're going to want to have something to show for it. I understand that. I also understand that the owner is trying to keep stage mothers happy by showing off Little Ballerina A LOT...but 3.5 hours of ANYTHING involving children is just ridiculous. Yes, I want my child to perform, but NO I don't need it to be the dance equivalent of War & Peace.

At the end of the performance, the owner gave out some awards - and by some, I mean TOO DAMN MANY. Literally I think it was 40 of them (out of about 100 kids. You do the math,) and a bunch of them were for 'encouragement' and (my personal fave) 'enthusiasm.' I understand she wants to honour these kids and their achievements...but I'm not sure how honourable it is to say that, "this award is being given to the child who has not only been blessed with a dancer's body, but also has the enthusiasm and potential to go really far in her dance career." Fabulous, I think girls don't get enough negative body images, let's now give AWARDS for it as well.  I also do not understand how valuable it is for either the parent or the child to realise that they're exactly as enthusiastic as the 30 other kids who got the same award. Aren't awards meant to be about exceptional achievement? How exceptional is it to be enthusiastic about doing something you really like anyway? She also managed to say pretty much the exact same spiel for each kid...so again, exactly WHAT is so special about these awards that so many of them were necessary?

If you're wondering if I am bitter about DD2 not winning anything, let me assure you I could give a shit if she won, just so long as she is getting the fitness, confidence, and fun which is all I ever really wanted for her in the first place.* Much more importantly, SHE could give a shit (actually, she said she was kinda glad she did not win, since winners have to do a solo and she doesn't want "yet another dance to remember!").  I don't understand the need to make these children perform so many pieces (for whose benefit?) and I don't understand why we need to give a 3 year old an enthusiasm award (again? for whose benefit?).

My Mom made an interesting observation- that the owner gave out the jillion awards and then immediately reminded everyone that 2012 re-enrolment forms are due. What parent still in post-award glow would deny their kid re-enrolment? I'm not nearly as cynical as she is...but she's got a point, doesn't she? When your kid runs up to you clutching their plastic gold statuette says and eyes all shining says, "Oh please Mum, can I come again? Can I? Can I? Can I?" I'll bet that re-enrolment form gets burned from the speed of the pen filling it out.

For what it's worth, I'll keep on keeping on - meaning as long as DD2 is happy dancing, I'm happy supporting her. I've just come to realise that dance concerts are a little like childbirth, in the months between giving birth and getting pregnant, we somehow forget the pain and suffering bit.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's That Time of Year

Last year I crapped on (sorry, 'waxed lyrical') about choosing my Word of the Year. I ended up choosing the word - progress - and swear on a stack of cupcakes, I actually USED my word of the year all year long. There were several weeks when I forgot about it entirely, but there were several weeks when I used it every day (mostly to motivate my ass to the gym or for a morning shufflin' session). Seeing as how I am - or more accurately, have become less of - a sceptic about all things woo-woo and "Universe" and "affirmation," it wasn't so easy to come to the WOTY party. But, I believe that when you play at someone else's house, you play by their rules so I ended up embracing this whole woo-woo Universe affirmation word thing really well (because over achievement does not only apply to tangible things). You know, it's been a pretty amazing, progress-fuelled sort of year for me and mine. A year ago, DH was not (yet) working, the whole lease on the shop thing had blown up in my face, my kids were utter pains in the proverbial, we were in hock about a squillion dollars, and everything was just...shitty.

This year, the year of progress - DH is working (and volunteering, and getting fitter, and looking hotter than ever before, which is pretty fantastic for a nerdy bespectacled love-handled engineer), the kids have loved their new school, the shop and the business have come along in leaps and bounds, and while we are still in hock a squillion dollars, on the whole me and my family are much happier, content people. We have ALL made an enormous amount of progress this year. I'm in no way saying that all this has come about  just because I chose to make my focus "progress," I'm simply saying that the combined forces of intent, hard work, determination, perseverance, the restorative powers of sugar and doonah-therapy and the support and love of an entire crowd of people has made this one of the best years my family has ever had.

The coming year is STILL going to be about progress, as all the foundations laid this year will continue to reap further reward and benefit - but I need  new word to reflect what I've got planned for the coming year. My plans for 2012 include (but in no way are limited to), a reasonable amount of travel for purely adventure purposes, some increased demands on my own fitness goals (I'm SO going to give that Zumba thing a try, and I'd like to learn to roller skate), increased success for the business which enables me to continue along my 5 year business plan, some goals for DH and I as a couple (just between you and me, I'd like to hang out with him NOT while in front of Top Gear or Dr Who), and some other things involving the children, our home, and some other bits-and-pieces stuff. With all that I intent to do, but being mindful of the words of the neuro guy (and all the friends who seem to agree with his advice), my word of the year needs to be something which reflects my desire to continue to move forward but perhaps not at such breakneck speed.

I'm struggling with this - is there any sort of word which means 'kick life's ass' and 'slow the fuck down' all in the one word?

I'm thinking maybe "gratification" - because one of my problems is that I FORGET to just stop and ENJOY all the things I work so hard for, but then that seems a little...selfish? Self satisfying?  I've rejected: Gratitude (because I practice that every day anyway), Achievement (well, duh...), Serenity (too boring), Measured (again, boring!)...and a couple others but so far nothing is fitting right.

Suggestions welcome - and feel free to share if you 2011 word worked for you, and if you've thought about one for 2012. Come and join me on the woo-woo band wagon. It's fun here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Slowing Down

Stuff I did today, in no particular order:

  • Apply stage make up to DD2 for her ballet concert,
  • Watch DS play basketball (who knew my kid could hustle so well down that court?),
  • Clean up yet another flood at the shop, this time somewhere totally different to the other two floods I cleaned up this week,
  • Drove well over a hundred kilometres,
  • Made lunch for my family,
  • Apply DD2's stage make up again (for concert two),
  • Answered work emails,
  • Answered work calls,
  • Will sort out some sort of dinner for all and sundry (but I probably won't cook it),
  • Put on three loads of laundry,
  • Did several bits of washing up and putting away,
  • Sorted out some mail,
  • Delivered 4 orders,
  • Folded two loads of laundry,
  • ...and probably some other stuff I have yet to do (it's only 2:30pm as I write this.)

Somehow I think this whole "slowing down" thing might be just *wee* bit harder to do than I thought.

Friday, November 25, 2011

This Time

My words escape me only because I've had a really fabulous, happy day but one which left me no time for blogging. Rest assured my words will come back tomorrow, but in the meantime I leave you with my favourite kids' joke:

Two muffins are baking in an oven. One muffin says to the other, 'Geez, getting kinda hot in here, isn't it?" The second muffin screams, "ARGH! A talking muffin!"

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Slow The Fuck Down, Would You?

My life runs at double speed. Heck, sometimes triple speed - I always seem to be on the go, I have a million (at least!) things which need my attention, I've always got the phone ringing and the email pinging, and basically my life is completely insane. I love it (most of the time) - because I like being busy and needed, and I like having things to do and people to see and all that. The old adage of, "if you want something done, ask a busy person," totally applies to me.  I fill as much stuff into my life as I can because I enjoy living each day to it's fullest, and lots of things are important to me. So I make the time for the gym, for work, for friends, for STUFF.

It sounds a little nuts, but I live my life as though my time will run out, as though I am in a race against a hourglass filled with sand. I not only LIKE to live my life as busy as I can, I also feel I NEED to. For reasons I can't exactly explain, I just feel like I need to GO GO GO all the damn time. If I don't succeed NOW, if I don't pay back the business debt NOW, if I don't do everything NOW....well, I don't even want to think about the consequences of that. Will anything happen if I don't achieve, do, be, go, have all those things right this very second? Probably not, but I don't plan on finding out, either.

Sometimes, living your life at maniacal pace gets (a lot) exhausting, and sometimes that exhaustion manifests itself in funny ways. For the last several months, I've been struggling with my words - I trip over them, mis-spell them, forget whole phrases, and in general feel as though the words in my brain do not match those which come out of my mouth. It's very disconcerting because I am such a word-oriented person. I read - no, I DEVOUR - several books a week. I read and write blogs, talk a lot, handwrite notes, and so on.  I just adore words...so to be losing them is horrifying to me. Strangely, NONE of my family or friends have noticed this peculiar thing happening. It finally got irritating enough that I went to the GP, who although she felt it was just stress-induced, sent me along for a neuro consult anyway.

Today was the consult - and although things seem to have settled down a bit, I thought it was worth going along anyway. The doctor and I had a good long chat, and he did a whole bunch of tests, both physical and cognitive, and we had another long chat about what is going on. The good news is, there is not a damn thing wrong with me. There is no mysterious organic brain disease, I'm not suffering early dementia, no signs of anything at all untoward. He did take all of it very seriously, but smiled when he said most patients who present with brain troubles generally do NOT engage in witty banter between the testing questions, nor do they stop to tell him why the questions are flawed in the first place and suggest ways to make them better. He was particularly amused with my answers to one of the questions - which was - in 60 seconds, name as many words as you can which start with the letter 'p.' Apparently most people do not come out with words like 'polycystic' 'perpendicular' 'positively' 'prehensile' and so on - but being the professional that he is, he carried on with ALL the testing even though it became pretty obvious there was nothing wrong with me.(...and for the animals one...apparently 'tree frog' 'rhinoceros' 'wallaby' 'seahorse' and 'sulphur crested cockatoo' are not common answers either. Go figure.)

We got to the end of the consult and he looked me in the eye and said, "Okay, well, I think we've established there are no brain issues here, but there is no doubt that you are being driven a little crazy by what is happening with your words. So here's my suggestion: SLOW YOUR LIFE DOWN."

"That's it?"

"Yes. That's it. MAKE the time to have quiet time every single day. Learn to meditate if you need to,  listen to relaxing music, swing in a hammock, whatever it takes to make you just STOP for an hour a day and just learn to BE."

"You make it sound simpler than it is."

"Actually, it IS simple. The human brain is only capable of making ONE decision at a time, no matter how much the current social norms would have you believe we are capable of more than that. It's yes or no, on or off, but it's only ever ONE of those at any given time. Remember that - you are only capable of making ONE decision at a time. ONE. I never, ever want to see you in my office again, so I'll say this again so you cannot ignore me: SLOW YOUR LIFE DOWN."


Bad News: I probably need to actually take his advice.
Good News: I'm the only patient he has ever had who managed to get more points on the damn test than it was actually worth.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Totally Shit Day

I had an extremely crappy day today - filled with lots of sad and yucky things like funerals, floods, migraine headaches, broken equipment, late deliveries, and a bunch of other crap. So I am not much in the mood for blogging today - and I'm sure you'll forgive me, won't you - but I did want to say this:

Everything today was kinda shitty. But I'm still counting my blessings, and I'm still grateful for so many things...that tomorrow, when I wake up, I just know things will be okay. And even if some of them are not...well, it's what keeps life interesting, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Best Gift Ever (from DH)

I feel the need to rescue my poor DH's gift reputation by telling you all about the best gift he's given me - in terms of actual tangible gifts. The intangible ones are too numerous to blog about. (Awwww....)

I can't remember if I've blogged about this before, so forgive me if you've heard this story already.

Since I was old enough to do so, I've worn a gold chain around my neck. At various times it's had various things on it - but it always has a gold letter "M' which my Mom gave me, a small diamond and sapphire charm my Dad gave me, half of a 'best friend' heart my sister gave me (she has the other half), and at the moment there is a small opal DH gave me for my birthday several years ago, plus the item I'm going to tell you about in a minute. When I was pregnant, I hung my wedding rings on it because my fingers were so swollen, at times it's had charms from friends, and so on...it's a terribly useful piece of jewellery. I very rarely take this necklace off, and it's extremely important to me because it hangs right above my heart. I love that the people I love are symbolically close to my heart and so this chain pretty much is as much a part of me as my hair or my skin or anything else. Anybody who knows me in real life knows how much a part of me this necklace is.

The day the children were born, I lay in that hospital bed (feeling rather blech indeed) and DH handed me a tiny jewellery box. Inside of it was a small gold medal - basically a round disk. On one side it had engraved the words, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" and on the other, "17 May 2001."

Not surprisingly, I burst into tears, put it on my chain and it has not come off since.

Here's the backstory. DH and I went through the lovely process of IVF to have our children.  It was not the most pleasant experience (although compared to some, really not too bad either.) I struggled with the whole experience emotionally - I felt like a failure, resented that we needed it at all, and so on. Believing that knowledge is power, I attacked this experience like a project which needed me to whip it into shape. I researched, I read, I took notes, I asked questions, I demanded answers, I challenged the status quo on almost everything, I made phone calls, joined online forums and so on.  In short, I was the biggest pain in the arse patient my doctor(s) had ever encountered. I advocated not only for me and DH but also for the children we were yet to have, and I was determined as anything to be successful at this (but I did have a "no more treatment" cut off point in mind.) DH and I went through the main part of our treatment right in the middle of the Sydney Olympics, and pretty much that is all that was on TV, radio, news, etc. Olympic fever had taken over Australia in a big way. On one of my darker days, DH told me I needed to treat this experience like the Olympics - meaning that like an athlete, it may take us years and years and years of dedication, preparation, special treatments, etc...but in the end, making it to the Olympics (getting pregnant) and then maybe even winning (bringing home a child) would make the long haul to get there totally worth it.

The Olympic motto is "Citius, Altius, Fortius" - or "Faster, Higher, Stronger" and so we adopted this as our mantra. I'd whisper it to myself every time I had an injection, suck down a pill, or sniff something (nobody tells you about those nasty nasal sprays.) I'd repeat it in my head while going through yet another embarrassing and demoralising internal examination. I'd scribble it down while writing down the notes from the (endless) lectures we got from doctors. DH would squeeze my hand and  whisper it in my ear when he saw I was going to (yet again) burst into tears.   Basically I lived and breathed that expression and I hung onto it like a lifeline because if I just believed in it and stayed the course, we'd get through it, surely. Giving up was not an option for me. I'm no athlete but in this case, I was as prepared and organised for that race as any of them are.

Once we got pregnant, I hung onto the mantra still.  Every time I had a pre-natal check up - because triplets are high risk, and we still needed all that strength to make it through the pregnancy we both wanted so much. We really NEEDED those kids to be faster, higher, and stronger than most triplets are - because more often than not, higher order multiples are born prematurely, need hospital stays, and are in general in need of more care than your average baby. So I swallowed enormous amounts of vitamins, drank oceans of water, litres of milk for calcium, ingested as many calories (of the good variety!) I could possibly, and basically again treated this pregnancy like I was in training for an Olympic event. These babies were going to come out happy and healthy and well because I was going to work damn hard to make it so.

On May 17, 2001 - the most amazing miracle babies were born. All of them a very healthy weight for triplets, none of them needing very much special care, all of them then meeting their developmental milestones either on time or even a scrap early. By the time they were 6 months old all three of them had not only grown enough to be on those stupid baby growth charts, but were the right size or a bit over what would be expected for full term singleton children. In short, all that preparation was well worth it.

The best tangible gift I ever got from the love of my life was the gold medal he gave me on the day our children were brought into this world. It's a gold medal we both earned, but I get to wear above my heart every single day to remind me that together, we can do anything - and that almost everything in life worth doing takes patience, time, and perseverance. The gift of the gold medal was in fact about much, much more than just a piece of gold.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Art of Giving

Thanks to Marie's lovely comment, I thought I'd write about me as a gift giver...because it can't always be about receiving, nor should it be.

I'm not a huge gift giver - meaning that more often than not I totally forget about needing to give gifts at all. Not that I'm selfish or inconsiderate, more that I'm a social retard who never seems to know who is meant to get gifts and when. Luckily I am friends with The Neighbour's Wife, who not only reminds me of gift-appropriate events but also shops for me! I actually am a far more prolific gift giver when it's NOT an event - so I'll see a cute card and send it to a friend for no reason, will cut articles out of newspapers that I think are of interest and will send them on, will go out to dinner with a friend and offer to pay just for the heck of it. Or I'll be out and about somewhere and will find something - a book, some foodstuff, whatever - which will remind me of someone I love and I'll give it to them for no reason at all. I'll send flowers, send cupcakes, write "I'm thinking about you" emails and texts. I'm far more about the smaller, more often gifts than I am about the big showy once-a-year gift. I want my friends to know I am thinking of them and love them even when it's NOT their birthday. Many times the gift I give is just one of time and love - so I'll give a friend biz advice if she asks, will take time out of my chaotic life to have a chat to a friend on the phone, will put 500% more effort into a cake they've ordered from me, will go for early morning walks (on a Sunday) and so on. Sometimes it's not really the gift of 'stuff,' it's just the gift of time and love which is important.  In many ways my friends are my family, and I want to honour that by being a gift giver when no gift is really necessary.

That being said, when I *do* remember the big gift events, and I do take the time to think about it - I LOVE giving gifts and especially those which the recipient does not expect, and one which is totally tailored to them in every way I possibly can.  Perfect example of this was our recent wedding anniversary - DH and I are anniversary nerds and so therefore follow the "first year is paper, second is wood" etc Hallmark rules. We do have a "creative interpretation" rule, though - so for 'tin' he got a 30-can box of Pepsi Max.  Why? Because he is totally addicted to that stuff, in Australia cans are known as "tinnies" and they're made out of aluminium, which is the closest I could get to actual tin.  For 'paper' he got a paper bark tree and a note about how we, like the tree, would weather many storms and still be standing. You get the idea. (Although god help me next year, which is crystal.)

This year was ivory - and since I'm not into harming elephants, I had to get creative. You can actually buy mammoth ivory (which is okay, environmentally speaking) but again, I wasn't all too happy with that option. So DH got an enormous (and I mean huge), sculpture of an elephant (wearing shoes) which was made out of white chocolate.

Let me dissect this gift for you. First, white chocolate is not white, it's ivory in colour. Second, elephants produce ivory. Third, for a very long time now we've had an inside joke about elephant shoes. If you see someone across a crowded room and mouth the words 'elephant shoes' to them, it looks as though you are saying....wait a sec. Go find a mirror and try it. You'll see why it's our inside joke. :) Lastly, my DH's favourite treat is white chocolate, and this was the expensive European couveture sort so I was being especially nice.  So this gift was appropriate on a number of different yet very personal levels. Exactly the sort of gift I love to give.

If I'm going to get a gift for someone, it's going to be the end all and be all of gifts - not just the gift voucher you picked up at the department store (although they too have their place). I've given friends all sorts of crazy things - because to me, putting in the effort and love to make it truly personal is SO much more important than what you spent on it, or when they gave it to you. I absolutely ADORE giving someone something which they are not expecting, which comes at a time when they are not expecting, and which really and truly says, "I've been thinking about you, and you are a part of my heart."

As for gifts I've received which meant an enormous amount to me...well, there have been a lot of those. The earrings which belonged to my Mom, the ones I'd always admired - the ones which even now when I put them on I suddenly feel extremely grown up. The beautiful vase a friend brought into the shop right after I opened it - she knew it would look perfect, it was one of her own special collection and yet she chose to pass it onto me. The flowers my SIL brought me, also when I opened the shop. The paintings a friend gave DH and I for our wedding. The various people who have contributed small charms to the gold necklace I wear every day of my life. The personal time Biz Guy makes for me even though he is not one for friendships. The funny parcels which appear on my doorstep from The Good Doctor - parcels which he sends at random times with his family members so they look as though they have appeared out of thin air. The stuff my sister sends - the drawings her children have done, the pictures she has taken of them, the picture frames which she sends for me to put those pictures in. You get the idea. I suppose for me the giving of the small stuff is wonderful, and the things I get which I love are those which are sent with love.

Ultimately, gifts are wonderful to give and receive - we all like getting stuff, right? For me it's remembering that not all gifts are given wrapped with a bow that is the most important of all.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


This week I received a package of new business stickers from my graphic designer. In the package was the stickers, a really nice note from her...and a laminated card with a photo of some creepy old guy on one side. The other side had this circle thing with a bunch of other circles inside of it, with numbers and the star signs and symbols and other stuff on it.

I have NO IDEA why that was in there. No idea who the creepy guy was either, so I asked my resident Catholics (just in case it was some bishop? Deacon? Religious dude not of my flavour?) on there. One person looked at it and said, "Yeah, no freakin' idea who that dude is," and the second person said, "I'm pretty sure that's Nostradamus and some sort of calendar on the back."

Now I'm not terribly religious, nor superstitious...but why on earth was there a laminated creepy old guy in amongst my stickers?

I should totally have emailed the graphic designer to ask, but exactly how does one say that delicately?! Ummm, excuse me but I think you may have misplaced some quasi-religious dude inside of my label bag?

Anyway I stuck Nostradamus (or the artist formerly known as him, since we did not have a positive ID on this guy yet) on the shelf and tried to forget about him. I couldn't forget, of course...those damn eyes kept following me around the room. He really creeped me out! I couldn't just throw it out, isn't that messing with my juju? Or karma? Or...something? I just couldn't chuck it out all willy-nilly like that! It seemed somehow sacreligious, or tempting fate, or...something to throw out this guy. For all I know we could have thrown him out and he comes to life, or...something. All I know is, I was not happy about him being in my kitchen, and I had no sage with which to smudge the place once we got rid of him.

Anyway after several days of me freaking out about ol' Nostry (if that's even who he was) Brave Employee got exasperated with me and chucked his ass right into the bin.

No points for guessing who has had crappy days at work since.

Update: OMG I just Googled it and she was right! Here's the picture we got...and OMG his full name is Michel de Nostredame. Coincidence?!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Worst Gift EVER

Since it's "the most wonderful time of the year," the conversation on the radio (and subsequently at work) has been all about gift giving. In specific, the worst gift you've ever been given.

I've actually got two of these.

The first one was from my DH - who in addition to being the most fabulous man on earth, is also the worst gift giver on earth. He always radiates good intention but pretty much fails miserably. I'm not going to repeat the whole birthday cake saga, but suffice to say he is a shit gift giver (sorry my love. But this is not new news for you.)  Anyway, the first year we were married, he gave me the strangest gift for my birthday - an enormous A3 sized Ahskenazi Haggadah. (Translation for anyone who wants one: broadsheet sized religious book.) To this day, I've got no idea why he bought it. Sure, it was nice..but a) I'm not terribly religious and in fact hate Passover most of all the Jewish holidays, b) I don't find sitting at a dinner table reading a broadsheet sized book all that comfortable, and c) are you for real, DH? What the hell were you thinking?


Second worst (actually the WORST but chronologically after the Jewish Book That Ate Manhattan) was from DH's Uncle and Aunt. For my 27th birthday (I think? In my 20's in any case) they made a big song and dance about my gift. How they put a lot of thought into it, thought I'd enjoy it, how they really thought it was appropriate for me, how much use I'd get out of it, and so on and so forth. They presented me with said gift at the dinner table and encouraged me to open it in front of everyone, so with some excitement (new car? mortgage paid off? clothes voucher? vacation?!) I opened the gift.

It was a personal blood pressure device.

I totally thought they were kidding and so I started to laugh. It took a minute or two before DH leaned over to me and said, "Seriously, it's not a joke gift," when he realised before I did that nobody else was laughing. The Uncle and Aunt in question then went on to say that they really thought someone of my size (eg FAT!) needed to be aware of these things, should look after themselves, and how important they felt it was that I use this thing. I basically got a "You are fat and will die early," lecture at my birthday dinner in front of my family.

I've never been so humiliated in my life, not even the time I fell down during the big "Beauty School Dropout" number in high school and popped all my balloons on my costume as the curtain rose on Act Two. I literally wanted the world to swallow me up right then and there.

I did try to see if there was some OTHER gift hiding somewhere - maybe in the card - but there wasn't. That was it. A blood pressure monitor and a lecture. I know they were coming from a place of love and good intention...but it was just plain horrible. My brothers in law saved me, though, because they immediately wanted to grab it and give it a go and play with it. We soon discovered the damn thing was crap, because the same person could do a reading 3 times in a row and never get the same answer - one minute it would be wildly high, the next very low. Not enough they gave me a horrible gift but the damn thing was crappy quality as well.

I'd love to tell you all that I'm over this gift, but I'm not. I totally appreciate their concern for my health, but are they so socially inept that they had NO idea just how horrible that might make me feel? Needless to say, I generally refuse to open gifts in front of other people now.

In case you are wondering, I came home and chucked it in the back of the cupboard for a while...and eventually threw it out. Not because it's not useful, not because it's not a nice thought - but because no medical device needs to make me feel so horrible about myself.

...and for the record, should you ever be in the market for a gift for me, please may they not:

- be smelly. No soaps, no perfumes, no creams, nothing of the "stinky stuff" variety. I really hate that crap and on the effort scale it's a minus five.
- require either ironing or dusting. "Dustables" irritate me, and ironing is against my religion.
- imply in any way that I am fat or thin or anything in between, the size of my ass should not be reflected in my gift in any way
- have the word "medical device" anywhere on the packaging unless we are talking about a vibrator (oh yes, I went there...)
- ugly handbags are also out of the question and for the love of god:


Consider yourselves warned. Less than 6 shopping weeks to my birthday.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Brain Malfunction

I tried to write a blog post from my phone but the damn thing did not want to cooperate with me! It's now 11 minutes to midnight and I'm posting purely to make sure I don't miss a NaBloPoMo day...but I've got nothing to write about at this late hour.

Instead I'll post a quote I read today - you can't move on to the next chapter of your life if you're spending all of your time re-reading the last chapter. :)

Until tomorrow (where I will be more awake and infinitely more witty, I hope).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friends of Friends

So .... what happens when your friends (who you love and adore for so many reasons) have other close friends which you simply can't stand?

Do you...
- just be grateful you don't need to see those other friends much?
- say something? (not sure what the purpose of that might be....)
- suck it up and pretend to like your friend's friend? Even though you are very bad at pretending to like people, and they can probably see right through it?

....because here's what I'm wondering. I think the whole 'birds of a feather' thing is really true, in so far as we are attracted to certain personality traits and so all our friends have at least a few common threads. Assuming you like your friends for personality traits X,Y,Z...is it that you don't like their other friend(s) because those people are too much like you? Or do they like *different* personality traits in those people to the ones they like in you? Shouldn't it be a simple if you like them, you should probably also like their friends, because theoretically all of you share personality traits, which is what attracted the person in the middle to you and the person you don't like?

Enlighten me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Once in a while, you get a fabulous NSV (non-scale victory) come along which just reminds you WHY it was so worth 'waking up' a few years ago and deciding to get your act together (from a weight and fitness POV anyway!).

This week at work we've got 50 gingerbread houses to make. 50 might not sound like much to you, but we are talking about 550 separate pieces which need to be rolled, cut, baked, and then assembled. This is without making the dough itself, decorating the houses, wrapping them, etc.  Physically, the dough making is pretty hard work but it's the rolling and cutting which is most demanding on one's body. It's heavy work, it's extremely demanding on your hands, arms, and chest muscles...and bloody hell, it's WAY more work than you think it is when you first embark on said experience. It's not just rolling, it's kneading all the bits back together again, lifting the trays back and forth all the time, and so in. In short, it's a pastry chef's idea of hell.

These houses are also fairly large, so there is the added bonus of only having 4 roof pieces fit on each tray, and if you're rolling the dough out - the MOST you can get out of one roll is 7 pieces (possibly only because I have long enough arms to roll it out that long...the average was more like 3-4 pieces per roll out.) We needed 100 roof pieces - which is one hell of a lot of kneading and rolling...and we're not using any machines for the rolling bit of it, so that's a HELL of a lot of physical labour right there. That's not counting front door, back door, side walls, tree pieces...

Anyway, it became clear early on that the person who was going to do a vast portion of this couldn't physically do it - she'd broken her wrist not that long ago, and she's not as tall as I am so bending over the bench and rolling that far was none too easy. Since I believe the buck stops with the boss, and I didn't want to place unreasonable physical demands on an employee like that, I took over the job and have spent something like 18 hours getting these pieces rolled and cut. By the end of the first day, I thought I would get home and my arms would ache, my chest would ache, my back would be throbbing, my feet, hips and legs would be in agony, and I'd be able to do nothing but lay on the bed and beg DH to end it all for me.

The NSV is that I'm now at the end of the rolling and baking...and NONE of that is true. My arms, chest, feet, etc all feel totally fine. I am tired (but it's mostly mentally) and my body can feel that it's had demands put on it...but basically, I'm fine. I don't feel like I am going to die. I don't feel like my arms and legs are made of lead. I don't feel shitty AT ALL. What...freedom (!) that is!

By the end of this week, when all the houses are done (and I've probably got RSI in my wrists from the damn piping!), and all the other orders are finished, and I've hosted dinner for 13 people on Friday night, and I've answered a bunch of work emails, and done a whole lot of Mum/Blogger/Business Owner stuff...I'll probably be pretty wiped out. But I will STILL BE STANDING and that, my readers, is the BIGGEST NSV of all.

68 kilos and 2-and-a-bit years ago, no way in hell would I have been even able to stand up after such a week...and no way in hell would I have been able to even contemplate taking over the rolling job in the first place. I would have given it a red hot go, but no way would I have been able to do it, in the time I've done it, without suffering a whole lot of physical and emotional consequences.

Please may I hang onto this feeling of victory for a good long time. NOT being exhausted feels pretty damn fantastic.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Things I Can't Do

  • rollerblade
  • roller skate
  • ride a scooter
  • jump rope
  • hula hoop
  • skip without looking like a complete idiot
  • go across monkey bars (not even when I was small.)
  • ski (have tried many times.)
  • knit (have tried many times.)
  • eat just one cashew nut
  • eat just one Pringle chip
  • suck up the last slurp of a Slurpee with a straw, I have to hold the cup up and knock the last bit out into my mouth.
  • not give my opinion on something
  • drink tea without sugar or fake sugar of some sort
  • go a day without myriad hugs and kisses - I'm a touchy feely person
  • tolerate people who are stupid, or slow at doing stuff, or both
  • wear sporty-style socks which are anything but white
  • put my shoes on while standing up (I fall over)
  • put my undies on while standing up  (I fall over)
  • cook without salt (no salt, no flavour - true for sweets as well)
  • run in any graceful or even vaguely natural looking sort of way
  • sing in tune, although I so sing with gusto and enthusiasm
  • give up sugar for longer than...about ten minutes
  • keep my mouth shut even when I know I should
  • wear yellow, it makes me look ill
  • drink alcohol (it makes me itch)
  • smoke cigarettes (it makes me throw up)
  • enjoy vanilla ice cream unless it's in an iced coffee, in which case it's only just bearable
  • cut a straight line with a knife. I blame this failing on having boobs which get in the way
  • use an umbrella. What is it with those things? I am literally incapable of using one and staying either dry or looking coordinated. Why is the damn stick in the middle and not to one side?

What are you incapable of doing?

Monday, November 14, 2011


My whole life I've had close male friends - not a single one of which ever veered off into anything more (although of course I did think about it, and of course I may or may not have harboured a not-so-tiny crush on one or another of them.) Boy friends - or friends who are boys - have always just been a part of my life and I don't think it's a big deal at all. I've always had a bit of a tomboyish thing going on, I'm a giraffe (and so other girls find me intimidating by sheer height alone), and I'm sarcastic and loud and can tend to be a bit...overly honest. As one of my female friends pointed out, I've always worked in very male-dominated industries (tertiary education, the food industry, etc) so it stands to reason that I'm fairly comfortable among males. In short if it were not for the boobs, I can almost (in personality anyway) pass for "one of the guys" anyway. Therefore it makes perfect sense that I've always had one if not more close male friends in my life - but this is something none of my current cohort of female friends have much experience of, so they struggle a bit to understand it.

What does having a close male friend entail at my age? Well, emails on various topics. Texts...and some of which are not entirely academic in nature. Maybe the occasional one-on-one dinner or lunch out (especially true if we do not live in the same city or country). I've even gone to the movies with them, gone shopping with them, exercised with them, Skyped with them, had lengthy phone chats to them...and that's about it. Really not any different to my female friends (except possibly the flirting bit). Most other women find this odd for a couple of reasons - 1) why would you want to hang out with guys, and 2) what does your husband have to say about it?

Here's the answer:

1) Men are fascinating creatures. Most of the ones I hang out with are funny as hell, uncomfortable when I ask them pointed questions but answer anyway, are intelligent, fun to flirt with, and basically all around fabulous people. Plus I can rib them about being male and they could care less. Guys, in short, are FUN and because we're friends and not lovers, they're HONEST. And they're direct. None of this game playing bullshit us girls have going on.  So my male friends are just as good if not better than the women I know. And not one of them would hesitate to tell me my ass looked big in something (but they'd qualify it with a, "but I love you anyway!" and then try not to look sheepish. God bless them but they try.)


2) My husband has known me long enough to know this is who I am and he could care less who I hang out with. Hell, he's met all of my male mates, and most of the time, while he likes them, he has no interest in being friends with them himself. He trusts me and loves me enough to know I have no plans to do anything stupid with any of them - and more than that he knows that if I DID, the first person I'd come home squealing about how awesome it was would be to HIM. (I'm all about the over share, as you well know by now.) To him, my having male friends - with whom I actively flirt, text, and communicate with - is a NON issue altogether. I must admit I'm grateful, because I'm not sure I could cope with a jealous husband. That he has no female friends makes no difference - but if he did, I don't think I'd care too much, for the same reasons he doesn't care.

In short, having boyfriends is one of the great joys in my life. To the men in my life who I am neither married to nor related to - you're fabulous. Not only for being great men, but for being smart enough to take on a woman like me, and live to tell the tale.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Zumba Lady

We went to a party this afternoon and I met a woman who I'm affectionately going to refer to here on in as The Zumba Lady (TZL). TZL is someone who I've seen around the traps over the years, because apparently our children used to go to school together (not the foggiest idea who her kid is, of course...) and now our sons play basketball together.

She came over to talk to me - sat herself down, introduced herself, and started to chat ten to the dozen about various things. I was even willing to forgive her wearing a gym top to this nice afternoon event because I am the last person who should be judgemental about clothing choices. She seemed pretty nice, and friendly enough certainly - not nearly as stuck up as I'd assumed her to be all these years when she steadfastly ignored my existence. Things were going kinda okay in so far as I didn't immediately feel the need to race home and blog about her.

That you are reading a blog about her right this very second would seem to indicate that the conversation did not continue to go well.

It was somewhere between, "I'm a complete Zumba snob, I'm a member of (exclusive-sounding gym) which gives me the reciprocal rights to (list of other shmancy gyms) and I go around testing the teachers all out, I hate the lazy teachers who are not real dancers..." (insert 10 minute dissertation on her Zumba whoring) and her inviting me to be part of a 35-and-over female basketball team, "You're so tall and it can't hurt, you know." (insert looking me up and down in a less than complimentary fashion) that I pretty much decided she and I were not destined to be best mates and she was destined for blogging immortality.

The final nail in her friendship coffin was when she managed to make the words "bake cake" into dirty four letter words. "Oh, sorry, what? You do what? Oh, CAKE? You bake cake? As in you bake it YOURSELF? Just...as in...cake?"

I'm thinking I'm going to go along to her next over 35's basketball game just so I can sit on the sidelines in my non-approved Zumba outfit and stuff my face with...cake.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

How Does She Do It?

The age old question of how the superwomen of the world do it can be answered very simply: they are all ducks. On the surface of the water - gliding serenely past, with hardly a ripple to mar the beautiful reflective surface. Underneath the water - paddling like hell just to keep moving forward.

Women lie - sometimes by omission, sometimes not - about almost everything when they are talking to other women. Childbirth was a breeze (hell, getting pregnant was easy as anything), recovering from a c-section is no big deal, losing that last 10 kilos wasn't so hard, we're having sex every damn day and it's always inventive and exciting and thrilling, the kids are never grumpy, the siblings never fight, you will feel a sudden rush of undying love for the wrinkly bloody package which comes out of your hoo-hah the minute you hold it, all husbands help with the dishes, your tits are as perky as they ever were, you're totally fulfilled by your job, you love going to playgroup because the mothers there are so nice...and so on and so forth.

The woman who has it all DOES NOT have it all, she just lies about it because she thinks that's what other women want to hear, or she thinks that's what they expect to hear from her.

Here's the thing, women - there are life experiences which for some woman are truly great, and for others truly shithouse. Which one of those experiences you're going to have will depend on a) the circumstances, b) how good you are at dealing with things, and c) the luck of the draw, because shit happens and it happens to YOU and your friends.

In my work kitchen, when things get a little hairy (and boy-howdy do they get hairy sometimes), we have an expression - "Less talking, more working!" or more accurately, "Less bitching, more piping!"  I think the same expression can apply to women's lives. If we spent less time lying to other women about stuff, and more time supporting one another and just being honest about it...I think we'd find that the 'superwoman' myth would die a rather quick (and hopefully extremely painful) death.

It's about time we let that bitch die.

Friday, November 11, 2011

That Cake Show

Recently a cake show premièred on Australian television, chronicling several weeks in the life of a well-known (perhaps Australia's best known) cake company. Some disclaimers: 1) Only two episodes have screened, 2) It's television, so it's hard to know what's real and what's 'made for TV,' 3) I used to admire said cake company.

I was a little torn about this show. On the one hand, I think its GREAT that there is finally a local show to rival the endless American and UK import shows we get here. I also think this company has raised the profile and quality of the cake industry across Australia as a whole, so it's a good thing that the non-cake world will get a taste of it too. Often people have no real concept of the time, effort, skill and artistic talent which goes into a cake - so to show that to millions of people can only be a good thing. For all those people who wonder why bespoke cakes are so expensive - well, now they get to see behind the scenes and find out. My negative feelings about it were probably because I'd heard some not-so-complimentary things about the owner of said business - and that, too, has the potential to affect the industry if people are watching what I'd been told was, shall we say, less than ladylike behaviour. Plus, let's face it, I'd like to be on TV someday, too.

After two episodes, I'm still torn about what this show may or may not be worth to the industry. But one thing I'm not torn about is the amount of confidence it's given me in my Big Boss Lady skills. Let's face it, I'm watching a company which is - in a small way - my competition. They're hugely successful (although it's been many years in the making). Their company name is said among cake decorators with some reverence, and for a long time they were the end-all-and-be-all of cake companies. Let's just say what it is - I used to be envious of their success, and in awe of their owner.

I'm not anymore.

Even given the above disclaimers, I've now watched two episodes which show an owner who speaks poorly of her clients, discounts at the merest whim, leads by intimidation, does not believe in her staff's skill, believes the only way to "be the best" is to "poach the best,", who gives her off-sider design authority and then totally ignores said authority, who blames her staff for decisions she was clearly a part of and so on.

I'm a fan of Duff (annoying laugh and all) and Buddy (comic accent and all) NOT because they are crazy talented cake decorators and pastry chefs - but because they lead their staff with love, with education, with strength and by example of their own behaviour. I've never heard any of them speak ill of their clients - although I'm sure they've done it behind closed doors, they're not doing it on camera. I've also never heard them discuss price either on camera or with staff, as compared to, "Does this LOOK like a two thousand dollar cake to you? Because it doesn't to me!" In short, at best this Australian show is showing off what an incredibly talented and resilient group of people the staff of that company are, and at worst, it's showing the owner off in a pretty unflattering light.

Today one of my staff members (who reads this blog - so I can't even varnish the truth if I want to) came to work and said, "You know, after watching that episode last night, all I could think was, THANK GOD I work for you and not for her!" I'm pretty certain that's just about one of the nicest compliments I've ever gotten. (Thanks, K. *smile*)

I don't run the biggest cake company in Australia. Not the best one, either. Not the most amazingly special, not the most expensive, not the most "I want to be them when I grow up," and not the most well known or revered, either.

I DO, however, run a damn fabulous cake company. A cake company that creates cakes with personality and love for both the people we are and the people we serve. We create cakes which are about WAY MORE than just the cake - and they are more than cake not only for the customer but also for those of us hiding behind the buckets of icing.  I treat my employees with love and respect and most of all I TRUST them to use the skills they have, learn the ones I (and others) can teach them, and to make decisions on their own. I'm not the bestest boss ever (let's face it, nobody is), but I do my best and that's about all I've got to offer. Every single day, I'm proud of the products we produce, but I'm also enormously proud of what we are achieving on a personal level. We are growing and learning, together, in SO MANY WAYS.

TV show or not - judicious editing or not - I don't think it's EVER okay to throw your employees under a bus, which I've now seen happen on that show more times than I care to count (and I've only see two episodes.) So I'm no longer envious of that cake company, not one teeny tiny iota. They might be able to command a lot more dollars per cake, they might have a huge, gorgeous cake studio, they might make cakes for famous people, they might [insert brag-worthy achievement here] - but they've got NOTHING on my company. Nothing at all.

Because what I've got - and what I'm nurturing every single day - is quite literally priceless.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Practical Parenting 101

This afternoon DD2 asked me if she could help make dinner. This is not an unusual request, most of the time she (or one of her sibs) asks if they can help with the cooking. Most of the time I nicely tell them they can go play or read instead, because frankly I lack the patience for my apprentices. By the time I get to the end of the day I just want to cook and serve in record time so I can get on with the business of falling into a heap. They are adorable and helpful, but slow and tend to make more mess than I otherwise would. The point I'm making is, DH and I feel very strongly about children learning to be helpful members of their community - from the smallest (their family) to the largest (their school, religious group, sports team, etc.) Although we know we get this message across to them, sometimes it's really nice to have that message affirmed.

So, tonight I let her help, and while she was cooking she was telling me about her day. They are currently learning about the water cycle in school, and today's discussion was about how they use water in their daily lives (in ways other than the obvious, e.g. showering.) Apparently DD2's answer was that she uses water every time she does her chores - eg making her lunch (washes the utensils), putting a load of washing on (clothes washer), walking the dog (and filling his water bowl afterwards) and so on.

The rest of the conversation went like this:

DD2: So anyway Mum, I said my list of activities which use water, and everyone except maybe 2 people looked at me and said, "WHAT THE...?" because hardly anybody in my class has chores of any kind.

Me: (in a very joking manner) - Oh, so you're saying Dad and I are the mean and nasty parents, then! We always wanted to be the mean parents! YAY! I'm totally going to give you like a million more chores now, Cinderella.

DD2: Nice one Mum, but no, what I'm saying is that you are the AWESOME parents, and the other ones are the CRAP parents! They're all busy raising a bunch of spoiled brats who have no idea how to be useful!

Yes, indeed. My work here is done. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why I Love My Job

We already know I love my job, but here are some lesser-known reasons why:

  1. No other job needs you to Google pictures of Gerard Butler, and then decide which photos are 'not hot enough,' thus forcing you to keep looking for more of them until you find the one which makes all the girls go, "pphhhwwwooooaaaarrrr!! Yes! Pick that one!"
  2. Free chocolate all damn day. (Yes, Biz Guy, I know it's not technically free, but it's FREE, okay?")
  3. There is a 7-11 literally around the corner, and I own the only business I know of which has an official "Is it Slurpee O'Clock?" afternoon break most days of the week.
  4. People nearly never come to me for sad occasions, and this suits my Tigger-esque nature. Cakes for funerals and divorces are purchased at el cheapo cake shops. Thank god for that, I'm not sure I could handle people coming to me for depressing reasons. I think even Eeyore would be happier if he stuffed his face with ganache once in a while.
  5. My left brain and right brain are equally at home in my work kitchen. Every day I'm forced to be creative and yet logical - often while working on a single order, and often simultaneously!
  6. Everyone else thinks I have the coolest job ever. They're right, I do.
  7. There is a dishwasher which can wash dishes faster, cheaper, and better than any human I know, AND it's even as environmentally friendly as it's possible for one of these things to be. I think someday I shall marry it, although I have already expressed my undying love to it.
  8. I get to buy all sorts of crazy cool stuff - funky ribbons, baubles (*swoon*, I said baubles!), blingy buckles, figurines, feathers, interesting stationary, sparkly stuff, things which light up...the shopping aspect of this job is AWESOME.
  9. Did I mention the free chocolate?
  10. I don't need an excuse to watch all those cake shows on TV. It's research, people, research.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Picture Project

Shortly after I went on my big shopping spree (you know, the one which is years overdue, the one I'll probably not do again for a looonnngggg while), I both sent a text to a friend and posted a status update which said, "I look so fucking cute today, I almost want to marry myself."

Modesty is just so becoming, isn't it?

On facebook this started a riot of people wanting to see pictures (and bizarrely some matchmaking, but anyway...) and the friend texted back, "Picture?" Taking pictures of myself is really not something I'm into, and surely not full-body pictures which would show off what I'm wearing. It's just not my thing, but then I think you would be hard pressed to find a fat female for whom full body pictures IS her thing.

But...you know, this year, it's all about progress, remember? And frankly, I'm feeling chuffed that I not only OWN a cute outfit, but I can totally ROCK that cute outfit, AND I'm feeling brave enough to announce it to the people I hold near and dear. So I took  a picture. Yes, one of those annoying 'in a mirror' pics where you are holding your phone up at about waist height and trying to remember to look ahead and not look at the camera (which results in a photo of you looking kinda skew-eyed.) I even then sent the picture off...and the next day, I did it again. The day after that, I did it again. In part it was to prove to myself that I can get through a week not wearing jeans and t-shirts, in part because it just kinda became entertaining...but it's now about 10 days later and I've got 10 days worth of pictures of me. Full figured. In a mirror. (Holding up a phone.)

What started as a total lark has actually become a really useful, fascinating exercise. How often do we look at full body photos of ourselves? How often do we make an extra effort to look nice (okay for some people, every day - for me, nearly never)? How often do we just really LOOK at ourselves, truly LOOK? It was like my own personal Trinny and Susannah moment...and I've got to say, it's made a MAJOR difference to the way I see myself, and it's made me aware of so many things I think I just never really thought about before.

Firstly, I'm a goddamn giraffe. Seriously. I know that I'm a hair shy of 6'0"...but in these pics, I've got really, really long legs. Lily white legs which desperately need to see some sun, but still a decent set of pins. I've also got a pretty decent waist line - in the right clothes, my body actually does 'nip in at the waist' to give me a reasonable shape. I've got killer clavicles - which again, in the right clothes are shown to their advantage. I can get away with horizontal stripes. Pale colours don't suit me all that well, they wash me out. The bras I'm wearing are decent ones, and that's actually more important than we realise. You get the idea - I've suddenly come to realise that there is a body in that mirror which, while FAR from perfect - is a body worth looking at.

For so long my body was the excuse I had for not doing things, for being afraid of things, for not pushing myself, for...hiding from life a bit. Now that I've got (to some degree) a body which I can't hide behind - just IMAGINE how far I've come and how far I've yet to go.

I'm standing taller (that's another thing I've learned, my posture sucks), I'm bothering to accessorise (at least a bit!), I'm learning which bits I'd like to work a little harder on, I'm realising how much going to a circuit gym has made a difference in terms of muscle tone. In short, I'm actually *liking* what I see in that mirror.

I've spent the last 30+ years of my life hating every part of my body - with the possible exception of my eyes...and I've spent the last 10 days discovering the very same body isn't so terrible, is worth showing off, and is something to be pretty damn proud of. I LIKE this emzee, and I'm going to continue to work damn hard in order to keep her. I'd like "the new normal" to also be about having not a single qualm about taking a full-body photo.

Not sure how brave - or not - you're feeling about yourself at the moment, but I'd encourage you to try this exercise, even if only for a few days. You don't even need to send the photo to anyone - just take it, and really LOOK at it, and see what you learn. Maybe you won't like what you see and it will motivate you. Maybe you'll love what you see and will affirm to yourself that you're worth loving. Maybe it won't have any impact on you at all, and you'll look at it and think, "Meh, I don't get what she's on about," ... but I'd still encourage you to do it. What have you got to lose? (except possibly the ten pounds which sits RIGHT on your hips in the most unflattering way...which you only know about because you took a photo of it, and photos do not lie.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stuff I Love

A small random list of small random things which I adore, in no particular order:

  1. When a Slurpee explodes out of the top of it's lid, leaving a little mushroom shaped cone of sugary sweet coloured artificial goodness which you can then slurp off without looking ridiculous. You're just trying to keep it from spilling over and making a mess, right? Not trying to suck extra out of the top so you can top it up (you would never do that...).
  2. Using a whole lot of adjectives in one string, like 'sugary sweet coloured artificial goodness.'
  3. Cookies. Especially the broken ones, because all the calories fall out of those.
  4. All the European junk food sold at Aldi which I don't allow myself to buy but I just love that they have it in stock in the first place - Haribo gummy bears, Toffifee chocolates, and cookies with vowel-heavy names like Spekulaas and Pfefferneuse. Just saying the word "Pfefferneuse" is a joy.
  5. Food in small packages - sushi, dumplings (!!), cake pops, steamed buns, almost anything encased in pastry, party pies, sliders, shot glasses of chocolate mousse, finger sandwiches, goujons, baby muffins and tiny lemon tartlets. If it's small and edible, I love it and I want to look at it admiringly before I pop it into my mouth. As a chef I can also appreciate the amount of effort which goes into tiny food. Some poor chef has been VERY industrious.
  6. The satisfying tightness of new underwear.
  7. The awesome sound of silence in those few minutes when the kids and husband have gone to work/school, the dog is out for the day, and the only noise is my breathing and whatever noise I make getting ready to go to work.
  8. The swisha-swoom swisha-swoom swisha-swoom sound of my bedside fan, indicating it must be (nearly) summer in Australia. I adore summer in Australia. Flies, mosquitoes and all.
  9. The cuddly softness of the really good quality thick white socks DH selfishly only buys for himself, and so I teach him a lesson in sharing by stealing them all from him.
  10. The smell of my kids' hair right after they have showered.
  11. Bringing home a pile of books from the library and taking a few minutes to re-read all the flap blurbs and then ordering them, so the one I want to read the most is either last or somewhere in the middle. The anticipation of knowing I'm nearly at THAT book is just awesome.
  12. The clink-clink-clink of seashells in my pocket, seashells I've collected during an entirely indulgent, totally solitary beach walk in the middle of the day (which I've told nobody about.)
  13. The way our crappy mattress sags and therefore wakes me up *just* enough to let me know that DH has gotten into bed beside me. It's almost worth never replacing it because I love that nightly 'announcement.'
  14. Making lists and feeling zero guilt about putting an item or two on there which I've already completed, thus earning me the right to cross stuff off said list and feel infinitely superior before I've even begun my day.
  15. People watching and developing milli-second crushes on people as they walk past.
  16. The way your breath catches just for a second when you get into a pool for the first time, even if the water is warm.
  17. The way a long, hot shower can solve almost all of life's problems.
  18. Rubbing the top of my son's head with shameless glee after he's gotten a buzz cut. I don't care that he is embarrassed, I'm pretty sure I had kids especially for moments like those.
  19. The way your hair feels weightless after you've had it professionally done.
  20. The way two eggs cracked into a frypan kinda look like eyeballs, so for a few minutes there, your frying pan is staring back at you.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Leisurely Pursuits

Last night I had dinner with me coven of bestest female friends - and one of them was talking about her shopping habit. Suffice to say it's a reasonably...umm...robust (ooh, good word!) ...habit. While the rest of them were oohing and aahhing over the dollar amounts and the sheer volume of purchases, all I wanted to know was how on earth she had the TIME for all this shopping.

Me being me, I asked her. "Good God, when the hell does one have the TIME to do all that shopping?"

The answer to this is two fold - one, shopping is in some sense a hobby, so she makes time for it with quick trips to the mall in the very same way I will sneak in a quick chapter or two of a book. Two, she will shop for herself on trips to the mall whose main purpose is to buy stuff for her kids - as in, "I'll just swing past KMart, Target, the kids' shoe store.....and Fossill/Tiffany & Co/Nine West." Admittedly, I hate shopping - of any kind - and so it would never occur to me to just 'swing by' the mall in the first place. Having to faff about with parking, then wandering past and into a bunch of shops which contain things I cannot afford nor wish to store, then buying something or not, then dragging it home, then getting home through traffic...oh it just all seems like so much damn trouble, how on earth would someone want to do this at times when they don't have to?

Honestly, I didn't really understand it...but then it occured to me that she probably looks at  my life and thinks, who on earth has time for... baking bread from scratch, going to the gym a million times a week, reading 3 novels a week, blogging, facebooking...and so on. Fact is we all spend time (or more accurately, CHOOSE to spend time) on our various pursuits, and to each person the pursuit is different. My friend Claire is an amazing sewer (seamstress? quilter? what's the right word here?) and she creates stunning quilts, toys, clothes, aprons...she's amazing. I have no idea how to find the time for that - but I'd like to. Biz Guy and DH are both into mindless TV (yet another thing I don't understand how people have time for! Especially Dr Who, but that's another post altogether). Other friends spend their time food photographing and blogging, going to endless concerts, engaging in hours of online/phone sex (nope, not kidding), buying wine, collecting stuff via Ebay, cooking...whatever. We each have our own way of winding down, of tuning out, of making the everyday noise and madness of our lives just hush up for a while.

Funnily enough, prior to thinking about this whole shopping thing, I probably would have said my life has very little room for inherently selfish pursuits. I would have told you I spend all my time working, sleeping, or thinking about either working or sleeping. In writing this post, though, I've come to realise that I actually do spend some time in leisure activities (as listed above, and that's not even all of them).

I blogged a little while ago about a quote I read which said, "If it's important to you, you'll make time. If it's not, you'll make excuses." So I guess to my friend, shopping is important - just like to me (being the card carrying member of the nerd squad that I am), reading a ridiculous amount of mostly poorly written chick-lit books is important enough for me to make the time for.

What are you making time for these days?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The General Public

Dealing with the general public every day, I am astounded at the kinds of insane requests I get. I realise that to the person calling, the request is probably pretty normal - but to me, it's often amusing if not a little...insane. I realise that I purposely set myself up for this madness - after all, I run a company that prides itself on taking on the requests nobody else will touch, making the customer as happy as I can by giving them exactly what they want, and in general bending over backwards to ensure I've got a loyal clientèle. At the same time I've got to wonder, are these people for real?

Here are some recent requests or comments I got from clients:

  • At 4pm on a Thursday night - "Can you make me a wedding cake for tomorrow morning around 8am?" "Sorry, no, we can't turn it around that quickly." "Oh but I only need to feed 8 people!" 
  • At 5pm on a Friday afternoon - "Can you make me a 3 tier birthday cake for Sunday morning?" "Sorry, no, we can't turn it around that quickly." "Okay then, how about a 5 tier?"
  • "I need to organise a stunning wedding cake for 100 people and I've got a budget of $75. What can you do for that?"
  • "I need to organise a wedding cake for my daughter/friend/sister/mother/cousin. She doesn't care what is looks like as long as it's chocolate, round, 5 tiers, covered in white icing, with pink roses but not too big, a purple bow on the side, a love heart on top in silver, with draping and quilting and some bling. She's not fussy AT ALL."
  • "I need a cake for my daughter's birthday. She's 2 and is demanding a dinosaur cake, but I want a garden theme. What can you do with that? Can you do a French Provincial dinosaur of some kind?" (Actually yes I can and guess what? I did!)
  • "I need a cake for a 50th birthday for 80 people. He loves anything Art Deco, giraffes, dolphins and his favourite colours are colours red, orange, and green. Oh, and it's for this weekend. As in tomorrow."
  • "We've got 400 people coming for a function in two days and I've got a budget of $200 to give them all morning tea. What can you do for me?"
  • "If I bake the cupcakes, can you decorate them for me?" "Yes, sure." The cupcakes then arrived BURNED - and I don't mean toasty, I mean charcoal. I begged her not to tell anyone it was us who decorated them for her. (Seriously!)
  • "Every cake we've ever had has been dry and horrible and nasty. Are your cakes like that?" (What would they have done if I said, "yes"..?)
  • "Which flavour would you eat if you had to? I mean which is a NICE one?"
  • "The peach in the peach ribbon was too orange-y, we wanted it more pink-y. And also the ivory was not white enough. My guests had 3rd and 4th serves, totally loved it and said it was the best cake ever, but the ribbon situation was very disappointing."
  • "I know this is probably a hard ask, but any chances of getting a penis cake for tomorrow morning? I've been left in the lurch by my other guy."
  • "I'm supposed to make this cake for a friend of mine, but I'm no good at it. What will it cost me for you to make it, but don't make it perfect so she thinks I did it?"
  • "I need a cake for this weekend - and I know it's Friday at 5pm- but what can you do for me?" "Well, we happen to have a spare 9" chocolate cake but that's about it, so if that's okay, we're happy to decorate it as you would like it.""Okay, well, what if I want it two tiers, in vanilla?...and can you go any better on the price?"
  • "Can you make me a wedding cake for this afternoon?"

And then there are the clients which I take on even though I know they're painful, and I just shake my head at their funny ways - The "something simple" client whose design brief goes for 3-4 pages, the people who urgently need a cake for 9am but don't pick it up until the DAY AFTER (or in one case, TWO days later), the people who ask me for a price then ask if it's the best I can do, and when I say no they tell me they can do it cheaper themselves, or the people who request a quote and then say "But XYZ cake shop quoted me much less for the exact same cake!" (great, go and order from them- PLEASE!)

...and my most recent favourite client, who asked for a quote on a metre high, totally perfectly correct (eg lots of reference photos) 3D Eiffel Tower to feed a couple hundred people. I sent through the quote, to which she literally replied, " O.M.G. That's like $300 more than all the other cake shops I asked for quotes from. That's a CRAZY price. I just thought you might like to know that your price is INSANE, there is NO WAY I'd pay that, and you really need to know how far you are pricing yourself out of the market! I just HAD to let you know, that price is totally ridiculous and I'm not sure what makes you so much better than all the others, that's completely ridiculous." (The tone of her email was friendly enough, but she basically told me off.)

To which I replied, "Thanks for the feedback, wishing you the best of luck, hope your function is fabulous! Regards, emzee"

To which SHE replied, "What flavours do you offer? Can I book a time to come in and make an appointment with you to discuss my cake?"

Ahhh, the general public. Gotta love 'em. 
(I did not give her an appointment. My time is worth more than she can pay anyway.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Imposter No More

In the last couple of months I have acquired some mentees - people who are looking to me for advice and support as they begin (or continue along) their journey to small business ownership.  At first it was just answering the odd question - like recipe queries, passing on recommendations for printing companies, etc. As time has gone on, the questions - and the interactions - have become a lot more involved. These wonderful, capable people all want my advice on maintaining stock levels, marketing, making financial investments, achieving that mysterious work/life balance...and all sorts of bigger questions that small business owners deal with every day.

I answer these people in the best way I know how, which is with brutal honesty, with love, and with the very big disclaimer that I do not know everything and do not claim to know everything, and that most of what I've learned thus far was via trial and lots of errors. Fact is, I think that until Biz Guy walked into my life (or more correctly, magically appeared into my email inbox), I'm not entirely sure I would have considered myself a business owner. Not REALLY, anyway. I was a cake maker...or if we're feeling very fancy, a pastry chef. A damn clever cake maker, but a cake maker nonetheless. It's really taken my relationship with him to feel like I'm not just an imposter in the world of business ownership. For a very, very long time I just kinda felt like I was muddling along, making decisions based on gut feel and kinda just hoping it would all work out. Truth is, I WAS doing all of that - and no way would I go back and do it differently - but it took another person observing for me to realise that there was actual value in all that muddling.

Isn't it interesting that I needed SOMEONE ELSE to validate my skills, my experience, my knowledge? It's almost as though I didn't really believe in myself until someone else came along and said, "You know what? You really ARE damn clever and you've really achieved a lot." On the one hand this makes me a little sad - to think that I didn't have enough self-belief to think that.  On the other hand, it makes me grateful to Biz Guy - and grateful to ME for even hiring Biz Guy at all - because now that I'm learning to believe, the business (and most certainly it's owner) are growing enormously.

I no longer feel like I'm an imposter in this whole business game, and nowhere is that more true than in my band of merry mentees, who are looking to me for advice, comfort and support and getting it in spades. By far one of the best side effects of having Biz Guy in my life is that our work together is very much like the stone thrown into the pond in so far as I have learned to believe in me, and I'm helping others to believe in themselves - and who knows who they too will influence into the future. Theoretically this passing on of faith in oneself has no end point.

I may not know it all (and I hope I never do, how boring!) - every single day I'm learning heaps more about what it means to run a business. I'm just a person who is still muddling along, but these days in a far more organised fashion - and I suppose that makes me worthy of being a mentor. I no longer feel like I'm faking it, and I think that shows...otherwise there is no way the people I'm helping would be attracted to me in the first place.

That there are people out there who trust my opinion, want my support and love, and who think I somehow have the answers to their problems...well, that in itself proves that I'm an imposter no more.

That perhaps I was not an imposter to begin with is besides the point entirely.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Assume The Worst

The other day I got a phone call from the kids' school. Like most of these calls, the first question out of my mouth is, "Are my kids still alive?" - at the same time as the caller is saying, "Don't worry, the children are fine!"

This phone call was actually to tell me that DS had won an award for excellence in mathematics - which of course proves two things: 1) That he and I are not genetically related, and 2) That even those who are a pain in the proverbial arse can shine, when placed in the right environment.

The sad thing is, when I get theses sorts of phone calls, I assume the worst. Not that all three of my kids had fallen off the monkey bars simultaneously and we had 6 broken arms to deal with, but that the caller was going to tell me my kid(s) was in some sort of behavioral trouble. I guess all that trouble we had last year made a lasting impression on me - because I find myself mentally cringing a bit when they call, and then exhaling when I find out the reason for the call is not at all bad. 

All year I've had phone calls from school (for as much money as we pay SSOTH, it works out to like $2450 per call or thereabouts) - and except for maybe one, all of them have been for great reasons. DS is doing well in math, DD1 is doing well in science, DD2 is progressing well with Hebrew, or whatever - mostly the calls have been for good - no, great -  things. I've had lots and lots of great phone calls and only one which gave me pause (DS had a minor hiccup which has since been swiftly and lovingly resolved, which is how most issues with kids should be resolved, IMHO).

At some point, I'm sure I'll get over it. Fact is, I KNOW I'm raising kids who are not only capable and independent, but also kids who are brimming with personality - personalities which will on some occasion get them into trouble (the personality gene also comes with the big mouth gene) but will mostly serve them well as they grow into young adulthood. I should believe in them more, I really should.

Or maybe....I should just encourage them to spend more time on the monkey bars.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Body Versus Brain

A couple of days ago I went clothes shopping for myself, in the company of a friend of mine. This was a momentous occasion because I hate shopping, and I definitely hate shopping in the company of other people. Mostly because I am not all that happy about my body, but also because I don't want someone else making me try on things I do not want to try on. I want to go to the mall with a bunch of money, and come out of it with yet more jeans and t-shirts and a big sigh that there was NOTHING there which was suitable. However as we all know, the word of the year is PROGRESS - and so this had to apply to my wardrobe as well. Thanks to my tendency to throw things out, for the past several weeks I've had a closet which contained the following:

  • Two pairs of jeans
  • Two pyjamas
  • Two long sleeved black t-shirts
  • Some long sleeved shirts which don't fit and/or are stained
  • A couple of polar fleecy items for warmth
  • Two dresses
  • Undies which are too big
That's about it. Literally the situation got so desperate, I'd wake up in the morning and raid DH's closet for a clean t-shirt. I finally succumbed to peer pressure and went shopping for some summer clothes. It was actually...kinda fun. I enjoyed it more than I care to admit. However I was reminded on that excursion of the most difficult part of weight loss - the mental effort required.

It takes mental effort to: NOT eat 'just one more' square of chocolate, to get your ass to the gym in the morning, to control your emotions, to let go of the mental protection which being fat gives you, to not be hurt by well meaning comments, to accept compliments, to eat mindfully, to celebrate the losses and not be laid incapacitated by the gains...in short, losing weight and keeping it off IS ALMOST TOTALLY A MENTAL EXERCISE.

Let me tell you, I didn't recognise that woman in the mirror today. Not at all. Physically she looked kinda like me, but mentally she was really struggling to accept what she was doing there - she felt a bit like an imposter. I spent my day walking into a dozen or more NORMAL people stores. I walked in there and tried on things I never thought I'd be caught dead in (hello, horizontal striped dress!). I was in normal stores and I was being asked if I needed a MEDIUM. I was being told to put down that XL top, because "you'll be swimming in it!" and so on and so forth. WHOAH there, this is not what I'm used to. The whole experience (while overall wonderful) was uncomfortable. Scary. Strange. CONFRONTING.

I'd be lying if I said I did not want to come home from the shopping and stuff my face full of crap which is bad for me because of all the emotions that shopping brought up. I really, really wanted to. I DIDN'T, but I wanted to. Losing weight - regardless of the method you choose - is an incredibly difficult thing to do but it's not at all about the food or the exercise. It's about the triumph of mind over matter and it DOES NOT STOP just because you have reached your goal weight. I pass by my reflection every day in shop windows and I do a double take. I have no idea what stores I should or could walk into. I don't really know if something will fit me just by looking at it. I still assume I will not fit into chairs with arms on them. I am amazed when I'm not tired after a short walk. People say nice things to me and I think I don't deserve to hear them. I think that in normal stores they will look at me and say, "Sorry, we don't carry your size." I assume that things won't fit before I've even taken them off the hanger. In my head I'm still fat and I may always be. Don't let ANYONE tell you that weight loss is about eating right and exercise. Sure, those things are a big part of it - but by far the hardest part of all is the mental strength it takes to get through each day, to accept the major changes you and your body are going through, and to just maintain that mental strength for the REST of your life.

So - I bought the horizontal striped dress. It's super cute, will work well for the summer, and I'll feel just a wee bit saucy wearing it...but every time I put it on, I'll have that self doubt (does this look okay? REALLY?) and I'll probably be mentally waiting for someone to tell me it's not flattering. It will take diet and exercise to keep me the right size to fit into that dress, but it will take mental exercise to get me to not only want to wear it, but to feel like a million bucks in it.

Speaking from experience, I can tell you which one of those tasks will be harder than it seems - and it's not the hour I'll spend at this gym today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Welcome to Day 1 of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). Here's hoping I make it through the month - although this being my third year, it shouldn't be that hard, right?


I used to consider myself a sentimental person...until I discovered the insane joy one gets from throwing stuff out. Throwing stuff out is amazingly liberating - and your house actually gets cleaner as a result. There has been the odd time I've thrown stuff out that I wasn't meant to (including but not limited to 10 movie vouchers...) but most of the time, I throw stuff out with reckless abandon and I love every minute of it. Unfortunately for me, I not only married a hoarder, but I seem to have acquired a whole bunch of friends who are hoarders, and at least one of my children seems to have inherited the hoarder gene.

I love nothing more than attacking a part of my house and throwing crap out - but it's a two stage process. I fling all the items for potential chucking into one area, then sort into a "chuck now" pile and a "keep" pile. Once I've done that, I think about it for a few seconds, and I then chuck out BOTH piles. Sure, one or two things might escape my frenzy but not very many things. This is a totally different method to DH, who will sort things into the 'keep' pile, the 'keep forever' pile, the 'never throw away' pile and the 'think about it for so long it will grow into it's own pile' pile. He doesn't believe in throwing stuff out until his wife threatens to literally take a match to whole rooms of his stuff (and by now he knows not to test if I am just kidding or not.) (I don't 'do' kidding.)

Over the past several weeks I've introduced him to the emzee method of crap clearing, and he's dons a surprisingly good job of it. So much so that even HE had the balls to admit, "Finding stuff I've not filed since 2006 probably means I should file stuff more often." Gee. Ya think?

I am a very 'live in the moment' person in general - I'm not great at taking photos, I suck at journalling (present blog excepted) and I'm too busy living my life to record very much of it. It makes perfect sense, then, that I throw things out all the time to make room for other stuff, or just to keep from being suffocated by old stuff. The good news is, I mostly throw out stuff which belongs to me. (Okay that was a lie. I chuck out my kids' and husband's stuff out too, but they have so much crap they never notice.) (Kids who are reading this into the future: I'm not sorry about it, I've saved you from being suffocated under all that crap. DH reading this right now: I'm not sorry, you have enough crap for both of us. But I love you anyway.)

Enter the TV show "Hoarders" - have any of you guys seen this show? It makes my family and friends look like total neat freaks. It actually makes me terribly sad to watch that show, because there is a real emotional basis for that behaviour - and to think that these people derive some sort of comfort from keeping stuff like cat faeces and rotten food...well, it just boggles the mind. Mind you, I'm sure someone out there can find an emotional basis for me chucking stuff out like a madwoman, too...maybe (like most things in life) it's all about balance.

So - what have you chucked out lately? Or, what have you KEPT lately that you feel no guilt about? (And DH, your answer I already know - the gallstones.) (Everyone else: I am married to a man who keeps his gallstone in a jar on our bookshelf. I know, I know, I KNOW.)