Polyester melts: when sewing, belly dancing and parenting combine

You never know what random life skills are going to pop up when you have a small child.

See, I used to belly dance. I was semi-professional by the end; I briefly taught and you could hire me for your party (well, if I felt like doing the job. I often didn’t).

The lessons that I took away from it are not what you’d imagine. Two words of Arabic (“beladi” and “habibi”). The fact that performing (and specifically, smiling) while you dance is actually phenomenally more important than getting every step perfect.

And that polyester melts.

Specifically, that if you’re sewing a dress or skirt out of cheap satin, you can cheat on the hem. You don’t need to bother stitching it; just run a match along the raw edge. Nobody’s going to notice on a dance costume anyway. Especially if you’re smiling.

What does this have to do with parenting? Because it turns out that this sewing cheat that my dance teacher passed onto us isn’t quite as well-known as I had imagined. My own mother, it turns out, had no idea. She panicked the other week, because half of the hem of the satin Queen Elsa costume that she had bought my child tore right off while they were out.

My child wasn’t upset. She just ran right up to me when she got home and showed it to me, demanding I fix it.

And, within 60 seconds, I had.

With a match.

Then, this week, a friend brought around a Tinkerbell costume that her daughter had grown out of. It was just the right size for my child, but it had some fraying bits.

“Can you fix these, mummy?” My child asked. “Of course I can, darling,” I said.

And I did. With a match.

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You can barely notice the bit where it caught fire and I had to blow it out. Stop looking so closely.

SO, to sum up — when confronted with a fraying princess costume, do not spend all night long mending it, for the love of god. Just get out the damned matches.

They won’t even fit in the damned thing in a month anyway.

 

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Random sick musings

I did one of these the last time I was just wrecked by being sick. Realised it’s all I had the energy for.

So what have I been up to? I’m glad you asked.

Watching
I’ve caught up on a bunch of movies I’ve had on my to-watch list for ages. I saw Suffragette, which I didn’t enjoy even though I expected to. I just don’t think they spent enough time getting us to care about or understand the motivations of any of the main characters. I thought they were pretty one-dimensional.

Also I get that being a militant suffragette at the time was awful – I already knew that it was awful, so I was expecting that, and worse – but would it have killed them to include a few lighter bits in the script? It made me think of that Joss Whedon quote, where he pleaded with writers, “make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.”

I also watched Only Lovers Left Alive, which I had been putting off because how many vampire movies can I watch?

All of them, my friends. All of them.

And this one was so unpredictable – I mean, nothing much happens, which is why it was hard to predict, but once I sort of got that that was the point, and it wasn’t particularly going to go with any of the usual themes, I really enjoyed it. It was frequently visually gorgeous, and the music was great and I love the three lead actors in everything they do. Also it kept being unexpectedly funny. There’s this one bit where everything’s looking a bit bleak and Tom Hiddleston’s character just randomly gets angry about some bad wiring he happens to notice up on the wall, and I laughed out loud. You wouldn’t think that would be funny but they made it work.

And I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower because the cast looked good and I like teen movies. Well, sometimes. This was one of the times.

I also caught up on Call the Midwife, which I had forgotten is just so great, and watched a lot of Disney because my child has also been sick. She’d never seen Dumbo, for instance, and I hadn’t watched it myself since I was little. My god, the pink elephant scene. That scared the shit out of me as a child. WHY IS IT THERE:

Teh Internets
I also read basically every comic up on www.fowllanguagecomics.com and he has parenting down, man.

I’ve also been slogging my way through www.harkavagrant.com but wow that shit is dense. Though hilarious. If you like history and stuff. That cartoonist has a kids book out now, The Princess and The Pony. I tried to get my child interested in it – I read it to her in the bookstore – but the fact that the pony does farts somehow annoyed her (I think she didn’t believe that was really in the book) and she thrust The Gruffalo at me instead. Ah well.

Reading
Apart from The Gruffalo, I recently read Lady Killer on no more recommendation than The Bloggess was reading it on a plane and some jerk tried to tell her it was anti-feminist based on nothing but the cover. I enjoyed it. I’ve been thinking I need to read a few more graphic novels since I’ve liked the ones I’ve read. And it wasn’t anti-feminist.

I also just read The Bloggess’s second book, Furiously Happy. I kind of hope her husband is nicer and more supportive in real life than how he comes across in it, but I guess she wouldn’t be with him if he wasn’t. I enjoyed it but her first book had a bit more of a linear narrative; this one’s a bunch of anecdotes sort of loosely about her struggles with mental health problems. It’s poignant and real but also laugh-out-loud funny.

Speaking of graphic novels and mental health problems, only this time not so funny, I also recently finished Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant because I thought reading about someone going through putting their elderly parents in care might help me somehow come to terms with the fact that my Nonna has dementia or something.

I say “or something” because any time anyone comes to assess Nonna, she throws them out of the house or just doesn’t let them in to begin with. So we don’t know what’s going on with her. But she’s losing it and while I’m sure it’s always very upsetting when this happens, Nonna wasn’t easy to begin with. And she isn’t losing it in a vague “oh dear, where is my knitting” way. She’s losing it in a “I’ll call my son every hour to have the same borderline-abusive conversation with him and then when he tells me it’s time for him to go to bed I will call him at 3am to tell him he’s a horrible son for not devoting his life to me and I’m selling the house and he gets nothing” way.

Anyway, the book is from a cartoonist for the New Yorker and because of that, I kind of expected it to be funny and it wasn’t. I mean, there were some funny bits, but it was mostly just really honest, and kind of gut-wrenching. I mean, her parents decay and die, as promised on the label.

Even thinking about it has made me sad again.

I should go have some panadol or something.

 

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Being sick is balls.

So, I had surgery last year to try to get rid of my pregnancy-related sinus issues. It was months before I was well again, since my worn-out immune system kept picking viruses up.

All up, I was almost permanently sick with a variety of things for about 18 months, and then I spent six months well. Great!

Except in the last two months I’ve had two viruses and two sinus infections.

I am so sick of sinus infections. I recognise them straight away now; the sore throat, the headache, the sore face, the pointless cough that disrupts your sleep.

But I’m looking favourably on sinus infections right now, since I have just spent the last week completely wrecked by a really fucking awful virus.

You know how there are a whole bunch of symptoms, with cold and flu, and you don’t normally get them all?

We got them all.

My child has never been really sick. The odd snotty nose, an ear infection when she was small, something that the GP described as “very weak conjunctivitis, maybe?” But she went down like a sack of potatoes with this thing, and mum and dad followed.

Heaps of her kindy class have gone down with it, apparently, and all the parents got it after them. Heaps of my friends with kids got sick too, but they didn’t get it from us, since we haven’t caught up in weeks. One child was sick for a full three weeks with it.

But it’s all the secondary stuff that happens when everyone is sick that gets you down. The house is filthy. The refrigerator’s empty. The child is frustrated because she’s ready to play now but mum and dad are still crook (you shouldn’t have COUGHED IN OUR FACES for a week, daughter).

Oh, and since everyone else was sick, my mother tried to change one of her own blown light globes. She proceeded to FALL OFF HER LADDER and FRACTURE HER LEG.

I feel especially bad because my third cousin is in town for a few weeks for work (she’s normally in America) and we haven’t gotten to do any of the fun stuff I had promised.

Screw this. Bring on another six months of being healthy.

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IT’S FINALLY FINISHED THAT’S WHAT IT IS

THIS IS ME RIGHT NOW

giphy

Because the MOTHER-FLIPPING feature wall is finally FINISHED that’s what it MOTHER-FLIPPING IS!!!!
Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 8.58.00 PMAnd all I have to say is, I will never doubt the difference between proper Contact and cheaper imitations ever again.

I cut the bottom bit of the stencil using proper Contact, and it was the best stencil ever. The knife cut out my design nicely, without tearing; it  didn’t break while I was putting it on the wall despite the many holes in it; and it came off nicely too.

BUT.

I couldn’t find any proper Contact for the rest of the stencil (I think it was the Christmas break; I expect it was all bought up by kids going back to school) and so I bought cheapo el-crappo fake no-brand contact from Bunnings for the rest of the stencil. How bad can it be? I thought. Ooooh dear.

It tore while I was cutting AND while it was being put up. The adhesive didn’t stay on while the paint was drying:

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which lead to this:

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Those are NOT clean edges, people. NOT CLEAN EDGES AT ALL.

It took me months of on-and-off handpainting to clean that shit up.

Also, the sticky residue it left? IS STILL THERE, MONTHS LATER.

Moral of the story? Much like cheap superglue, cheap Contact is CHEAP FOR A REASON.

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Well, that was delicious: Chocolate ice cream with mascarpone

I made mascarpone the other day. It was the easiest thing in the world: heat cream; add citric acid; let it sit.

I made two tiramisus (the internet tells me that is the plural even though it looks bloody weird) and then wondered what to do with the last cup of it because there is only so much tiramisu one can eat.

I decided ice cream would be the go and googled, and ended up re-working this recipe to come up with this. I was very tempted to just eat the mixture at room temperature before freezing it, as it was delicious and would make a lovely chocolate-pot type of thing, but it’s delightful in ice cream version (although VERY rich, since it’s mostly FAT, and probably doesn’t have enough water content. Basically, eat it in little bowls).

Chocolate mascarpone ice cream

Ingredients
Two eggs
Half a cup of sugar
1 cup mascarpone
150g dark chocolate, melted
2 tblspns cocoa

Beat the eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water with a hand-held mixer for 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Beat in the mascarpone, chocolate and cocoa.

Churn in your ice cream machine according to the instructions. Mine took about 20 minutes and was a good texture when it came out, so you could totally serve it/eat it all immediately rather than needing to bung it in the freezer for a few hours.

FullSizeRender

 

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It’s your own damned house. Do whatever you like.

One of the great pleasures of home ownership is the ability to set your house up just the way you like it. Want to hang pictures on the wall? It’s not like the landlord is going to complain. Want a hundred garden gnomes and plastic flamingoes all over the backyard? Go ahead, nobody is the boss of your garden but you. Want a Hello Kitty themed bathroom? Hey, it’s your money.

If, like me, you decide that your laundry would be much more interesting with some ridiculous home-made floral space invaders, or your gardening shed would be better off painted purple, decorated with bunting, and set up like a tiki bar, nobody has any right to stop you.

This totally applies to renting, as well, just without the painting bits or the redoing-the-bathroom part or the bit about hanging pictures on the wall, depending on your lease, but what I’m getting at is that it’s a free country.

Which is why I have become increasingly cross in recent weeks, when Domain has ran a series of articles trying to shame people for furniture and décor choices that the author just didn’t like while pretending to educate readers on the things they should and should “never” have in their own damned houses.

They’ve covered everything from dictating where you’re allowed to shop, what books you can and cannot display on your shelves and how much cutlery you’re supposed to have, to insisting that your house should always be spotless and your bed should always be made.

What are you, my mother?

A man’s home is his castle. The only things you should “never” have in it are judgemental killjoys who are going to think less of you for not having plantation blinds or matching plates.

And the only things you “should” have in it are the things that make it your home.

It is yours.

Do what you want.

I don’t know when having your own place became about buying stuff to impress other people but I find that concept really unhealthy and joyless. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, just like those articles that tell you what bathers to wear to “hide your figure flaws”. Bugger off. People should be able to wear what they like.

I wasn’t going to link to any of the articles but fuck it, here are the two that annoyed me the most —Things you should never have in your home after 30 and the follow-up piece Things you should have in your home after the age of 30. I don’t advise reading them, though, unless you want to be baffled and annoyed.

They especially annoyed me because as a home-owning renovation-survivor with plenty of matching cutlery, I was presumbly supposed to feel smug about winning at adulting or whatever, or at least relieved to have the approval of some total stranger. I felt neither. The way that I choose to store my music collection says nothing about how functional I am as a human being and I resent the implication that it is supposed to.

It brought to mind this excellent cartoon from xkcd:

xkcd allows people to reprint his comics under a creative commons license: https://xkcd.com/license.html

And it also reminded me of this quote, which I am signing off with. Good night. I’m off to swap out all my wine glasses with jam jars and replace my dining table with some milk crates.

“To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

C.S. Lewis, Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories

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My accidental visit to the former Burnley Theatre

In my hunt for some cheap-but-cheerful outdoor furniture, I found myself going to Swan Street Sales, at 365 Swan Street, Richmond. I didn’t like their replica Tolix tables at all when I got there but all was forgiven because OH MY GOD, it’s an old cinema that closed down after television arrived in the 1950s and has been a furniture warehouse ever since, slowly crumbling:

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The salesman was so pleased at my clear fascination with the place that he took me around the whole building (including the off-limits staff area) and showed me lots of the old features. Look, projector-related holes!

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The holes in the walls for the projector picture to go through to the screen. I want to call them projector boxes but I’m not at all sure that IS what they’re called

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A bit of fancy plasterwork falling out of the ceiling

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One of the box seats (this one’s been repaired; it apparently cost them $20,000 and they said “yeah, not worth it to do any more”)

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I approached it from the other direction and I’m never in that neck of the woods (I was on my way to visit the Johnston Collection) so I wasn’t prepared when I walked in. If I’d come from the other way, I would have seen the facade and been forewarned:

Richmond Burnley Theatre

If you’re wondering why this pic doesn’t look like it was taken with an iPhone on a winter’s day, it’s because it’s from wikimedia…

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