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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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.


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

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.



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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 run 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:

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:


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!


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


A bit of fancy plasterwork falling out of the ceiling


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”)


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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Visit to the Johnston Collection; plus random appreciation of East Melbourne

I’ve been meaning to go check out the Johnston Collection for years. It’s a house museum that is regularly re-done to show off different parts of its collection but unfortunately, I only found out that it even existed during my exhausted months of pregnancy and then, what with the small child and all, I haven’t had a chance to go since. I took the other week off to get some precious R&R time to myself, however, and finally made it. Woo!

The museum is kind of mysterious. Partly that’s because they are not part of the National Trust but rather operate under their own trust; but also, they’re prohibited from advertising its address as part of its permit, since they’re in a residential street. Visitors have to book in advance, meet at a nearby hotel at a designated time and then take a shuttle bus to the property.

However, since they name the property as “Fairhall” on their website it’s perfectly easy to look up on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Which is what I told my partner to do, should I fail to return home afterwards. I may have mentioned organ harvesting.

I have precisely two photographs to show you of the property, as they actually confiscated our phones and indeed our bags, before the tour. I considered telling them that parting a Gen Y from her phone was cruel and unusual but since I was the only person present under 60, decided to just go with it.

Here is the front of the house:

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 9.20.31 PM

And its heritage plaque:

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 9.20.58 PMWait, I lied. I have a third photo, which is of the floral arrangement in the bathroom, which I partly took because I wanted to look up what these flowers were, but mostly was taken out of relief at having my phone back:

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 9.21.15 PMI very much enjoyed the museum. They have all sorts of stuff, such as: a collection of English Regency-ish era miniatures that made me feel like I was in that scene in Pride and Prejudice where Lizzy is sneakily checking out Pemberley while Darcy isn’t there; an impressive antique furniture collection, including a French desk from the early 1700s that is allegedly the one King Farouk of Egypt signed his abdication on but which Mr Johnston used to just use as his desk and put his feet on and stuff; a bunch of genuine polar bear skin rugs that made me uncomfortable; and (temporarily) a whole lot of crazy shit that Richard Nylon has done for them, since he’s the latest in a long line of creatives asked to re-do the collective for display.

Said crazy shit included a bed covered in porcelain statues of dogs and a dining table covered in a “corpse” made out of antique crystal glassware, to give you an idea. Also he made a bunch of hats for the statuary. As you do.

I did kind of feel a bit rushed going through. I didn’t feel like we got to really linger anywhere like you can in other house museums around Melbourne. I wanted to examine the miniatures and look at the furniture and not be on a tour. But it was what it was, and it was interesting.

Walking back to the car, however, was also very interesting, as the architecture in that part of East Melbourne is stunning. I mean, look at these:

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 9.42.58 PM

An old church that was converted into apartments after a fire.

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My god, this Art Moderne apartment block is just begging to be used in some 1940s murder mystery…


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And this one is just waiting to be used in a 1960s period drama

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 9.43.19 PM

This one just needs to be mine.

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There is also a stunning block of flats on Powlett Street that is just mindbogglingly beautiful but I couldn’t stop the car when I saw it due to traffic. There are some shots of it here, though. Jaw-droppingly gorgeous.


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I went to paperlicious and I loved it

I went to Unleash Creative‘s Paperlicious event last month and it was lovely.

Paperlicious lightbox with mooses

I wish I knew who made those moose statues, they’re pretty spectacular.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.14.16 PM

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.17.11 PMMy god, the food. And the pretty way it was displayed! And the washi tape cross stitch backdrop!

We had a session with Kate Pullen on hand lettering our own card designs

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.15.05 PMAnd a session with Paula Mills from Sweet William on water colours, which was really interesting because we were barely allowed to look at the paper, only at what we were painting, and we weren’t really supposed to lift our paintbrush off the paper (I’m not telling which one is mine):Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.11.21 PMAnd the finally a session with Pete Cromer on paper collage. First we came up with our designs:

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.10.55 PMAnd then we painted all the bits. It was oddly satisfying. I’m used to making paper craft with whatever colour paper I happen to have so it was kind of nice to tailor exactly what colours you wanted (that said, we’d kind of run out of paint by the end of the day so we had to make do with what we could find in the bottom of tubes. Still, I was happy with the colour combos I managed):

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.10.14 PM

When I got home, I expected my child to steal this one (in fact I’d designed it with her in mind) but nope – she yelled for the watercolour and got very anxious until it was propped up on her table. It’s hers now, apparently.

We even got a goodie bag to take away!

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.09.34 PMNot surprisingly, it was pretty much all women; and a lot of creative types. There were textile designers and bloggers and school teachers; and a lot of them were mums who were just happy to have a day spent doing something creative for themselves. Sounded familiar 🙂




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