Monday, April 29, 2013

Suicidal kitchen appliances, alien life forms and why I'm never making cake pops again

This story of suicidal kitchen appliances and alien life forms is sponsored by The Good Guys Kitchens. Please keep reading - I need your help!

As domestic goddesses go, I make a pretty good blogger.

I’m about as domestic as the average not-very-domestic-thing*.

I’m not good at keeping my house neat or organised, and I’m not at all handy.

However, those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I like to cook.

I’m not too shabby at it and I have some nifty kitchen appliances. The kitchen is my favourite room in my house.

I’m one of those annoying people who tweet photos of food they’ve created, like this gorgeous cake:

Or like these wonderful cake pops:

Yes, those are mutant cake pops and they’re in the bin, where they belong.

I tried to melt the poorly-named "melts" in the microwave, as instructed. Suddenly the microwave started making pop, hiss and bang noises, accompanied by a suitably dramatic light show.

Cake pop melts don’t melt on the stove top, even over a bowl of gently boiling water. False advertising if you ask me.

White ones turn to concrete.

Blue ones start to melt, then turn to weird blue glue that won’t attach itself to the outside of a cake pop. No matter how hard you scream, cry or swear.

I couldn’t give those splodgy blotchy blue monstrosities to other people’s children, so in the bin they went. Next to them went the red melts which no doubt would have melted perfectly on the stove top but by that time I was ready to murder the inventor of the cake pop with one of the handy plastic cake pop sticks supplied so helpfully in the kit.


The new, firework-free microwave** is now installed and I’ll be checking the state of mind of all my kitchen appliances regularly to avoid any more suicidal mid-baking-disasters.

It makes me wonder about the rest of my kitchen. We live in a hundred-year-old-house that’s starting to fall apart.

I am as handy as I am domestic, and our house needs some love.***

The last person who renovated our house did it all themselves - clearly without the help of experts like The Good Guys Kitchens. Witness the lack of ventilation under the house. Witness the non-existent ground drainage. Witness the inexorable progress of our house down the hill on which it was built. Oh the humanity.

Thanks to ill-advised DIY renovations, despite keeping my house clean, a new life form is growing on our kitchen bench top. The idiot person who renovated our house used very poor varnish on the wood**** and it’s deteriorating. The varnish is now sticky, so when you pick paper an appliance your hand something up off the bench, nine times out of ten you’ll find it’s fused in place for posterity. Next to the sink, water permeates the wood and has created Fred:

Fred is a new alien life form. Or maybe mould.

Whatever he is, he’s big and ugly and growing each day. At this rate our house will soon be nothing but a large brown stain with a car port.

We need a kitchen renovation. In the meantime does anyone know how to remove Fred? 

Failing that, does anyone speak alien mould?

What renovation disasters have you seen?

* I was thinking maybe a big cat, like a Cheetah. Although apparently they’re actually the biggest of the small cats. I know they’re the only large cat that purrs, because I’ve heard one. Then I realised a Cheetah is fast and I am built for comfort, not speed, and then this whole comparison thing broke down. 

** So far.

*** And new drainage, floorboards, weatherboards, cupboards and bench tops. Love is definitely not all you need.

**** Yes badly-sealed wooden bench tops in a wet area. I don’t. Even. What? 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Depression is a lying little bastard - Part 1 (guest post)

© Alptraum |
Today I have the honour of hosting a guest post by Gaynor Alder.
This is the first part of a series on how she beat depression.
This post can also be seen at MWSG.

“If you haven’t cried, your eyes can’t be beautiful” – Sophia Loren
Me: Get up off the floor Gaynor.
Depression: But, why?
Me: C’mon Gaynor. You can do it. Just get up and go lay on the couch.
Depression: What’s the point? I’m not going to feel any better on the couch.
Me: But you can’t lie here all day.
Depression: Why not?
Me: I should have a shower. Maybe blow dry my hair and put on some lipstick?
Depression: Why would you waste your time doing that? Why don’t you crack that bottle of wine in the fridge? Go on, that will make you feel better.
Me: But it’s only 11am.
Depression: So?
Depression had invaded every part of me, its weight heavy on my heart. A sorrow so great it should have instantly identified itself, instead of hiding in the shadows and dishing out its pain by slowly seeping through the cracks of my confusion. A sorrow that once its tears formed puddles at my feet, dropped me to my knees with its piercing and persistent pain.
This was no garden-variety depression, none of your general malaise and misery on offer here. This was the deep debilitating kind that straps you to your bed and meddles with your mind, making a complete mockery of who you are. Sadness was surging through my veins with ferocious velocity. I was as flat as a day old pancake and I wanted to know where the fuck the maple syrup was?
I held onto hope like a child clutching at a bag of lollies that were in fear of being stolen by a sibling, but depression is a lying little bastard and kept telling me I was never going to get better. Attacking my self esteem with all those nasty things it was saying about me, isolating me from everyone and holding my confidence captive, so it could pin me down with its force and strip me back to nothing.
There were plenty of people telling me to pull up my socks, but every time I tried, I discovered the elastic was long gone and they’d just end up around my ankles. They could have tried to walk a mile in my Pradas, but they’d long been gathering dust in my wardrobe and had not seen the light of a dance floor since depression had decided to barge in one day uninvited like a bunch of teenagers with a six pack of Bacardi Breezers.
Sure, I tried all that positive thinking bizzo and even though I’m naturally an optimistic person, it did jack. Because let’s get one thing straight, this is not a self-indulgent negative mindset, this is an illness.
Know that I’ve been to that place, when you think you’re never going to get better. Know I’ve been to that place when you don’t know how you’re going to get through the night. Know that I’ve felt that endless struggle just to get through every day, hour and second. Know that I have been to that place and I have returned.
Follow this series each month as I share how I overcame a decade long battle with depression. From a rocky love hate relationship with medication, psychics wearing purple crushed velvet skirts cleaning my aura with feathers whilst telling me the problem was in my past lives, coping with the people kicking me whilst I was down, to finally finding a kick ass crack team.

Have you fought depression? 

Gaynor Alder is a Melbourne based writer with a penchant for vintage glamour and all things Parisian. She is the Editor-in-Chief of The Modern Woman's Survival Guide magazine and editor-at-large Teenage Girl’s Survival Guide, gallivants around the world as a Travel Writer testing the thread count of sheets and the fluffiness of hotel pillows and freelances in public relations.

She started writing The Modern Woman’s Survival Guide, after the umpteenth person told her, you know you should really write a book. Her fingers struggled daily to keep up with the thoughts that desperately wanted to become words on pages, to take centre stage in a book that she knew was going to become the new voice of womankind. Her calling, her destiny, her whatever you want to call it, Gaynor writes because she can’t not write.

You can catch her being awesome here:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Conversations with my brain: Nature is an arsehole

Why the fuck is there a picture of Stras at the top of this post?
Looks delectable (cough). Mmmm.
Read on.

Brains really are arseholes.

I guess that explains why I failed Biology.

Seriously, though, it doesn’t help me one bit when I try to sleep and my brain decides to write a comedy routine. An hour-long comedy extravaganza, as it happens.

And a pretty shit one at that.

It was called Gently Mental and one day it may appear somewhere other than inside my head.

Or not.

One of the themes from this questionable comedy classic was how much nature, as well as my brain, is an arsehole.

Nature has no trouble with not being nice. It just does what it pleases, lets it all hang out, without ever fearing judgement.

The natural world has absolutely no problem at all being a total bastard, and frankly, I’m jealous.

Take a few examples:

I recently talked about how I disposed of a particularly objectionable slice of beetroot.

That wasn’t the last example of my creative food disposal techniques.

Have you ever eaten Stras?

Strasbourg is a type of lunch meat, made from the snouts, ears and bums of various unidentifiable hooved animals, mixed with sawdust.** It's also called Devon, Fritz, and OH MY GOD IS THAT EVEN FOOD?!

This delightful combination is mashed together and moulded into a tube. You then slice this tube up and inflict it on your children in the guise of “Stras sandwiches”. Often served with tomato sauce.

Stras sandwiches were a lunch of choice on the camping trips of my childhood.

Safe to say, my hatred of Stras is only outweighed by my hatred of pickled beetroot.

Me:        “What’s that noise?”

Brain:    “It’s coming from under the log. Oh no.”

Me:        “Now mum’s looking under there. We’re in trouble now.”

Brain:    “It sounds like something’s eating under there. Jesus! What kind of moron would voluntarily eat that crap?”

Me:        “It’s a Blue Tongue. No denying it now.”

Brain:    “Why not? We could pretend that Stras occurs spontaneously in nature.”

Me:        “Nope, I’m going to confess.”

Brain:    “No don’t be a fool! Shit. You’ve already done it. Idiot.”

It’s quite hard to deny that you’ve thrown your stras under the log you’re sitting on, when there’s a massive Blue Tongue lizard sitting under there chewing on a big slab of the stuff. And not being quiet about it.

There it was, munching away, thinking its reptilian Christmases had all come at once.

A windfall for you, mate, but pretty damn embarrassing for me. Thanks, bastard.

* Under a pile of rubbish at the Whitehorse Recycling and Waste Centre, I suspect. I know, I’m going to hell.

** I have no idea what’s really in Stras. Please don't tell me.

Have you ever caught nature being an arsehole?

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Beetroot Incident

The beetroot slid down. It left a slimy trail as it oozed towards the floor and then stuck; a monument to childhood arseholery, hovering, purple and pickled, on the while wall.

Best place for it, really.

Beetroot. What even IS that shit? And who in their right mind feeds it to a three year old?

My mum, that’s who. A brave woman.

This was back before the fear of not being nice had grabbed me. Back then I had a modest but swiftly developing talent for creative food disposal.

We had to eat everything on our plates. So I threw that slice of shitty beetroot as far from the plate as my chubby arm would send it.

Problem solved.

Nothing was ever said about The Beetroot Incident, but I feel it’d be unreasonable to think my mum could have missed a pinky-purple circle of beetroot at eye-level on her kitchen wall.

When you’re small, rebellions tend to be on a pretty minor scale. No setting fire to the house, or running away for me. Food was the mutiny of choice.

Now and then I wonder about that stain. Is it still there, on that Canberra council house wall, capturing a beetroot slice’s precious last moments for posterity?

I hope so because The Beetroot Incident was the first memory of the hatred of pickled beetroot I harbour to this day.

It was also the last memory I have of being so consciously, joyously un-nice.

Are there any foods you're tempted
to throw at the wall?

Lava in my loungeroom

The following is the result of a memory writing exercise from the Life Writing workshop I attended on the weekend. It was facilitated by Patti Miller and organised via The Australian Writers' Centre. This is not a sponsored post, but I thoroughly recommend the workshop for anybody wanting to write about their life.


My dad used to be a teacher, but he wasn’t always that. Before I knew him, he was a geophysicist.

Our school holidays were spent driving to remote parts of Australia, looking at rocky outcrops, sedimentary formations and soil erosion. I remember being cold, and always sick.

We didn’t go to fun parks or playgrounds like other kids, but I did own a very impressive rock collection.

Late one night I crept out of my bedroom and slithered down the long hallway, past my parents’ empty bedroom to the hallway door. The hallway door marked the No-Go Area. It was always closed at bedtime and all hell broke loose if we dared open it after lights-out.

Weird sounds were coming from behind the door. They drew me from my bed and tempted me. Do I dare risk the inevitable parental wrath by opening the door? Do I dare enter the No-Go Area?

Normal No-Go Area sounds were comfortingly familiar. Documentaries about science. Bodie and Doyle shouting and shooting.

These were not those sounds.

Clickety clack. Clickety clack.

Waves of crashing thunder.

Clickety clickety clack.

I dared a peek.

Lava flowed out of a crater, oozing slowly down a hillside, filling my lounge room with eerie yellow light.

My Dad spotted me and I froze, cringing, waiting for the inevitable get-back-to-bed script.

Instead, to my permanent surprise, my Dad beckoned me onto his lap. I watched the reel-to-reel film with saucer eyes as pyroclastic flows burst down mountainsides, and the earth’s core broke free of its mantle, pushed up and out by inconceivable eons of pressure.

It would be a few years yet before I knew how that felt.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How Seal Ate His Own Children - Ben Pobjie's Let's Put on a Show gives me an asthma attack

Image by Ben Pobjie - FUNNY DUDE

Last night I went to a gig and was reminded how old I was because I swear foetuses were ordering drinks at the bar.

Then I laughed until my lungs exploded.

Ben Pobjie’s “Let’s Put on a Show” was so damn funny that I was reaching for my Ventolin after only ten minutes. This takes some doing, since I’m a humourist of sorts myself and I consider myself a bit of a veteran when it comes to the whole laughing thing. I do it a lot.

Little did I know. I AM AN AMATEUR.

“Let’s Put on a Show” is hilariously mental. Completely different each night, Ben launches the theme for each show based on the random craziness generated from members of the audience.

Last night’s audience was pretty high on the Mental-O-Meter.

The show started with Delta Goodrem’s Neo-Nazi robot indoor cricket team having a holiday at the beach while Delta herself was pregnant to Seal.

Hard to believe, I know, but it got weirder from there.

Brilliant, random crazy humour was interspersed with white-hot social and political comment as the story of “How Seal Ate His Own Children” gambolled through a huge range of hilarious subjects before coming to its insane conclusion. Ben educated us about sex, something the audience appeared to know nothing about (although we had an unnaturally detailed knowledge of nature, apparently). Thanks for not putting your elbow in my mouth, Ben. I appreciate it.

We discovered that Delta is a mammal who lays eggs* and that Seal is half seal. Explains a lot really.

I could explain more about the show but frankly SPOILERS SWEETY and you should all just go and see it for yourselves. You won’t regret it.

“Let’s Put on a Show” is part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and runs until 14 April. You can book here.

Take your asthma meds with you.

A ridiculously cheap night of jaw-aching hilarity.

A truly educational show.

7.384 stars.

Delightfully mental.

Just go fucking see it, OK?

* Ben I think this makes her a monotreme. I know. I need to get out more. And sorry about my craptacular timekeeping skillz.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A community service announcement and why I'm having two showers today

Image from here.
I bet THEY don't have THEIR water turned off in the middle of a shower.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have your water turned off in the middle of a shower?

How about in the middle of washing long hair? That first really lathery wash before you wash all the shampoo out with the next wash?

I wonder if you’d emit a scream of horror that sends your partner syphoning every millilitre of water from all reservoirs (the tea jug and coffee machine in this case) in the house.

Would it be worth pouring that tragically pitiful, luke-warm trickle over your head? Just so you can get dressed and stomp out to the guys working on your pipes without looking like a rat that had been drowned in a really, really soapy bath?

Ever wondered how it would feel if, after drying your soapy skin off and brushing your heavy, greasy, shampoo-laden locks, you discover that you can’t even sooth your ravaged nerves with a cup of coffee because you’ve poured the last water in the house pointlessly over your head?

Have you felt the rising dread of realising that a large digger is parked in your driveway and now you can’t even go out and BUY a coffee? (Or water, for that matter).

Ever stomped out to the water supply dudes in a white-hot rage to have them profusely apologise that they had to turn off the water FOR 30 SECONDS while they changed a fitting?

Have you ever realised that if you’d not panicked, if you’d just waited, and tried again in 30 seconds, you’d be sitting at your desk calm, content and ready for the day, with clean hair and a successful cup of coffee?

No? Never had that experience?

Just as well then, that in the spirit of community service, I had it for you and I can report back that it sucked.

You’re welcome.