Thursday, 29 January 2015

4 Shows I Can't Wait to See in 2015

I'm rubbing my hands together, raising my eyebrows in anticipation and excitement. Why? TV.

That's right. It's been a long summer when measured by standards of TV content. I know, I know, that's not a fair way to measure a summer but as much as I try to shun TV to make way for more rewarding ventures like painting, reading and writing, sometimes the call of TV is too loud to ignore.

And when it's calling you loud and clear, you go to it. You settle down with your remote and snack of choice (and wine, let's just get that out in the open). You search a gazillion channels, TWICE, and find there's NOTHING ON and you spend the rest of the evening bitching about the lack of content and how much you pay Foxtel for it. Then you open that other old chestnut "why am I paying for TV with ads in it?" and before you know it, it's bedtime and you've achieved nothing other than perfecting your ability to sing The Big Bang Theory theme song. It can be a little more than irritating.

Phew, glad I got that off my chest. Anyway, the end - or should I say the beginning - is near.

In just a couple of weeks, my TV viewing will return to shit-hot mode and a kind of fabulous-series-relay will begin.

It kicks off on Feb 19 with Vikings. Ragnar and his brutal clan will be back to, I don't know, take more land and stuff? Whatever they're going to do, I'm going to be right there with them, some sort of blood-soaked vicious weapon in hand, ready to battle even the scariest and hairiest of enemies.

He even looks good when clearly in need of a long bath.

If you're not familiar with Vikings, here's a link to the official site where you can check it out and decide if you will join me on this bloodthirsty adventure: Vikings. Oh, and Ragnar's pretty easy on the eye, too. It's worth noting.

A couple of weeks into Vikings, Kevin Spacey will return in House of Cards. Where do I start with this? I mentioned it last year when I got all goose bumpy over Spacey (which you can read about here). I'm pinching myself that he'll be gracing our screens again shortly with Season 3 of the show that constantly causes viewers to say "No! He won't! He Won't! Oh my God he DID!" I'd better start practising that.

Oh Kevin....

Now I'm quite sure you'll be aware of the next one in the 2015 TV relay unless you're one of the 3 people in the world who doesn't like Game of Thrones. If you are one of those people, whilst you're welcome here, I suspect we'll never be close.

I believe April 14 marks the commencement of GOT Season 5 and I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see Arya continue to tick people off her list. I can't wait to see the Mother of Dragons rock the seven kingdoms some more and John Snow is welcome on my screen any time. ANY. TIME. And Tyrion. And Sansa. And Jamie. Jeez, I even want to see Cersei, evil, evil bitch that she is.

Daenerys needs to punch Cersei in the throat.

What's a little freaky is that there's going to be a cross over period where House of Cards (and, I haven't done the maths, maybe Vikings?) will still be on when Game of Thrones starts.

This is a little bewildering. Blog might be a little quiet around April. Kids might not get fed either.

So, while we're mourning our favourite GOT characters (PLEASE don't let it be John Snow. Or Daenerys Targaryen. or Tyrion. Or Arya. Or....aaaagghhhhh stop killing them!) I'll be waiting for one more series to start, possibly my favourite:

Ray Donovan. This isn't the first time I've mentioned this show (previous post here) and it won't be the last. If you're not up to speed, I envy you, as you have two full seasons that you can watch, back to back, while waiting for the third, which I am guessing will be out around July. That's some sweet catching up you've got.

Ray Donovan. JUST. WATCH. IT.

OK, so that's the next 6 - 9 months covered for me. This is likely to put a serious dent in my 2015 goals, which means I need to churn out about 12 paintings and 100,000 words in the next couple of weeks while getting Madonna fit.


What show are you hanging to watch?

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Are You Failing at 2015 Already? Blame School Holidays.

So we're approaching the end of January and my plans for 2015 are  already turning to stinky poo.

I'm not going to spell out exactly what my plans and goals are for 2015 (mostly because they're not accessible right now without me getting up and, well, lazy) but let's just say it's about writing more, painting more and improving my health (through both intake and output).

Earlier this week, I started getting a little down on myself, giving myself an ear-full for losing, for failing at goals I set less than three weeks ago. How can I achieve anything this year if I'm struggling to get started IN JANUARY?

I copped my verbal self-slap on the chin and I'm going to cut me some slack now. I know that whilst school holidays may be just an excuse, it's a bloody good one.

The lack of routine that comes with school holidays is wonderful in many ways, most notably not having to make lunches because WE ALL know about the struggle I've had with Glad Wrap! (But in case you missed it, it's here: Glad Wrap Bitchin' )

Without that routine though, the kids are all over the shop, going to different places each day, having kids over at our place and getting all up in my face about not needing to go to bed on time because it's school holidays. I call BS on that - I can't listen to you fight and bitch all day long and then let you stay up later so I can cop some more! No.

Anyway, the future's still bright. It's ONLY January is how I need to look at it now and really, I haven't been totally unfocused. I've managed to make a few small steps and when you think about it, that's what it's all about. You can't achieve big without achieving a series of small first.

Goals  need to be broken down into manageable chunks. They need to be specific and measurable.

It's pretty easy to dismiss a goal, walk away from it completely, when it's something fluffy like "improve fitness" or "write more". Improve it how? Write how much more? Write more what?

So I'm reviewing my goals, making sure they're set in a format that's designed to work. And I think I'll include something about NOT eating toasted sandwiches for every meal. Maybe.

Oh how good does that look?

Did you set goals for 2015? Are they achievable?

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Luna Park: Coney Island's Gone All Captain Sensible

Luna Park. For most Sydney-siders, the name conjures images of the famous big smile, the Ferris Wheel that provides ridiculously brilliant harbour views, the cringe factor that is The Mighty Mouse and everyone's favourite spew-generator: The Rotor.

On top of all that, it's Coney Island that we fondly remember from our childhood. The seriously old-school wooden slides, the rotating barrel that you have to walk through, the mirror maze and the moving floors known as The Wonky Walk.

For me Coney Island in my childhood was all about The Joy Wheel. I only discovered it's name 3 seconds ago when I Googled it. Prior to that, I knew it as "the big upside down plate that spins and you have to try to stay on" ride.

Fun times. But I feel compelled to tell you....something's changed.

We recently took the kids to Luna Park. It was a great day, kids had a ball, everyone was happy, it was all good.

From the moment we arrived the kids were stinging to get to Coney Island and frankly, I was a little eager myself. After climbing the stairs to the giant slide 387 times with Miss 5, the kids decided (thank God) they wanted to ride the dish thingie. I mean, The Joy Wheel.

So husband and I got a rest while they joined the queue. We watched as they made their way into two separate queues - one for the little kids, one for the bigger kids. Oh, that's cool.

The attendant pulled back the rope and the smaller kids were permitted to enter. About six or seven of them rushed up onto the middle of the wheel and sat their little bottoms down, looking around to locate mum or dad, sussing out their competition.

At this point, the attendant roped off the entrance and made his way onto the dish. Interesting. He then asked all the kids to stand up again. He proceeded to move them one by one, making his way around the dish until they formed a perfect circle, facing outwards. While we stood watching, sweating like pigs because SUMMER, he asked the children to sit once again, maintaining their perfect circle.

Naturally, the kids who had ridden before weren't interested in this shit and wiggled their bottoms back into the middle of the plate to improve their chances of winning the elusive Joy Wheel challenge. Nope, that wasn't going to wash with attendant man who insisted they all stand and start again.

When the children finally complied and the operator was happy with said child placement, he started the ride. Oh wait, no he didn't. He took to the microphone and rattled off 30 seconds of instructions!

"Now children, if I can just draw your attention to page 43 of the safety brochure....."

It was then that husband and I slowly turned to each other, our eyebrows twisted into full question marks.

"Is it just me?" I said, whispering in case someone had a bionic ear and would hear me over raving attendant. "Is this how you remember this ride?"

Husband shook his head slowly, both perplexed and disgusted. "No," was all he said. When the ride actually started, the attendant continued to bark instructions, ensuring hands did not touch the plate or any other child. When a kid slid off, the ride was switched to a painfully slow spin until that child had climbed over the barrier and exited the ride area.

And if a parent dared wait for their child near the exit, they were told nice and loudly over the microphone to move on. Oh. My. Godfather.

I'll tell you how I remember the ride. The rope was pulled back and you ran for your life onto the plate, pushing and shoving past 20 other kids, some twice as big as you, trying to get your arse into the middle of that wheel. The ride went full swing as soon as everyone was on and if you started slipping, you grabbed onto any limb you could (or probably a pair of flares) and you hung on for dear life. If clinging to someone else wasn't enough to keep you on the dish, you took that loser with you. You flew off at high speed and you bloody-well loved it.

I don't think the Joy Wheel even spins as fast as it used to. I also think Wagon Wheels are much smaller than they used to be; so maybe it's just me. But I don't know....I'm just not convinced on either of these things.

Now I get that we've come a long way in terms of personal safety. I agree that there's nothing more precious in our life than our kids and I'm sure that these new procedures have prevented a lot of sprained wrists but far out, talk about a freakin' kill-joy.

I'm not kidding people, watching this ride was like watching M.A.S.H. after Henry Blake and Trapper John left. It was OK, but you knew it used to be so much better. You knew it should be so much better.


I've often looked back at the '70's and wondered how so many of us lived. You know what I mean. But we did, and we rocked that bloody Joy Wheel like these kids will never know.

Do you remember Coney Island as a reckless free-for-all? And did you love it?

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Toast for Every Meal. Am I Onto Something?

My last 5 main meals were a variation of toast. I shit you not. It appears that I am officially in a food rut.

In case you're not quite sure what I'm getting at, let me break it down for you.

Breakfast - two slices of toast with cheese and tomato, open grilled
Lunch - two toasted sandwiches filled with cheese, tomato and lettuce (eaten about an hour apart)
Dinner - two slices of toast with cheesy Vegemite

Breakfast - one slice of toast with cheese and tomato, open grilled
Lunch - one toasted sandwich filled with cheese, tomato and lettuce


Firstly, let's acknowledge the reduction in quantity today vs yesterday. I think we can all agree I deserve some sort of award for that.

Other than that small achievement, I do believe this meal plan is an eyebrow-raising cross between totally awesome and concerning. It's awesome because it's delicious. And it includes both tomatoes and lettuce, so I'm ticking off some impressive food groups.

It's concerning because, well, let's see. It's:

  • NOT high on the nutritious scale
  • high in carbs (I didn't even tell you it was the devil's white bread)
  • low in protein
  • a bad example for my kids (not that they witnessed each meal, but still...)
  • counterproductive to my goal of eating better in 2015
So why do it? Again, this:

Freaking beautiful

It's yum and it's easy. Making a salad takes time. All that washing and chopping and slicing. It's overrated. I do like a good salad and usually you would see at least one on my "last 5 meals" review list. But the last couple of days,  I just couldn't be arsed. Perhaps it's all the fuss of food over Christmas that sent me spinning into this simple bread-fest. Perhaps it's just sheer laziness. I don't know. All I do know is, the madness has to stop.

By writing this blog post, I guess I have self-shamed and in turn encouraged myself to eat something for dinner that is NOT toast.

I think I feel a pizza coming on......

Do you ever find yourself in a food rut?

Sunday, 11 January 2015

4 Things I Discovered in My Surfing Lesson

See the surfers? They're carefully watching the ocean, observing the sets, waiting for the perfect wave under the watchful eye of their teacher at Sydney's Wanda Beach.

These are no ordinary surf students. That's my 17 year old step son on the left. The back right is my 9 year old son. The guy in the blue is the teacher and smack-bang in the middle? Oh, that's me.

Yep, me. Surfing. Well, trying to.

Husband bought us all a surfing lesson for Christmas. We've all expressed interest in learning to surf over the years and it's now becoming a reality. Sort of.

It took some serious concentration, strenuous effort and some advanced contortionist techniques - that was just to get into the wet-suits. Jumping up and down on the spot, yanking on my full-length steamer I couldn't help but think this was going to be the hardest part of the lesson.

The surf conditions were pretty ordinary with a dumpy shore-break that grew as the lesson went on. Our teacher, an ex pro-surfer named Blake explained that it was far from ideal but he would still be able to get us onto a few waves and we'd hopefully enjoy the experience.

Blake wasn't wrong. He did manage to get us onto the waves, but there's only so much a teacher can do. At some point, the student has to make the commitment to lift the chest off the board, jump to the feet in a wide stance in one swift motion and make a conscious decision on which way to fall off.

Unfortunately, it took me quite a few goes before I got past step one. It seems at the age of 32 (OK, OK, 42. Shut-up.) and with no more than 2 burpees under my belt in the last...ooh... what's it been....8 years?....that jumping quickly up onto my feet on a floating moving board in a split second is really freaking hard.

As the reality of "jump up failure" hits, remembering to not fall face-first into the very shallow white water (remembering we're learning in a shitty shore-break) did not come easily either.

And so it went. Pep-talk from Blake, determined agreement from me, motion, chest lift, attempted stand, face plough, recover, battle and paddle back out. Repeat.

On a positive note, it was a great way to clear the sinuses.

Don't fret, friends, it wasn't all hopeless:

This may or may not be me.

The above image is used for illustration purposes only. Seriously, I did manage to get onto my feet, even if it was without an ounce of grace. If husband have had taken this photo just a little later, I swear I would have looked just like the chick in the other pic. Swear.

After this wave, I decided to quit while I was ahead. You know, go out on a high. That's the high of having conquered that 1 foot wave. I also felt it was highly likely my arms would fall off if I tried to do it just one more time.

Mr 9 had already pulled up. He enjoyed the lesson; he was just ready to dig a hole. Standing on the beach, I had the opportunity to properly watch Mr 17 who didn't seem to have a problem at all with the process. Despite years of his dad encouraging him to take up surfing, this was his first lesson. He nailed it. Pfft.

So what did I take away from the lesson? This:

  1. Wet-suits are well worth the effort. They keep all your bits in place and create the illusion of a flat stomach. They keep you warm, too.
  2. Surfing makes you hurt in unexpected places.
  3. I'm desperate to try it again. 
  4. I might turn professional. 

Thank you, husband.

Have you tried something new lately?

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Check Out My New Coastal Coffee Table - Thanks Dad!

I've had an urge to "do stuff" with furniture for a long time. I'm talking redecorating, painting, re-purposing - the kind of gorgeous stuff you see on Pinterest all the time.

Truth be told, I pin that kind of stuff on Pinterest all the time. Just pin it. Never do it. I think about doing it, I want to do it, but don't.

Well folks, that's changed because this week, I took the plunge. Well, my Dad did, but under my request and strict instruction, so I think that's just as good.

I have a vision for several pieces of furniture in my house. One is particularly important because it is currently functional and acceptable as it is. I have therefore been reluctant to mess with it. So I used another piece, an old, hand-me-down coffee table as a guinea pig.

After a rather brief consultation with The Google, I took the plunge and described to my Dad exactly what I wanted to happen. I know, I know, why am I getting my poor 85 year old Dad to do my dirty work? Because he bloody-well loves to do shit, OK? Seriously, hanging out is simply not an option for him and spending several weeks at my place for the Christmas holidays is a big ask without a "job" to do. So I've actually been a GOOD daughter by giving him work.

There was much discussion and input from both my parents, my husband and myself, plus some research on what others have done. I really liked a few pieces I'd seen that had a coastal feel and decided to go with that.

The decision was made to use white chalk paint on the legs and the bits just under the top (as you can see, I'm a furniture expert from way back) and to bring the top back to it's natural state and then varnish it.

I distressed the legs a little before varnishing to give it a little something extra (and by that I mean so I don't feel so bad when I crash into it at 120kms / hour  with the vacuum).

Sound simple? Well, quite frankly, it was. I mean, again, it was Dad that did the real work, but making decisions is not easily done in my family so I really feel I can take credit. At least some.

To me, the result is fabulous. To someone who knows the name for the bit just under the top of a table, it mightn't be fabulous, but I can live with that.

Unfortunately, I wasn't smart enough to take a before shot of the table, but I managed to find this pic among my old snapshots:

Don't be deceived by the beautiful gloss on top, in reality it was old, scratched, marked and...well...boring.

This is the transformed table:

Cool, huh? Now I know I can do this, I'm moving onto the next piece. Soon my house will be a sea of fresh varnish and chalk paint and yes, I will rejoice.

What do you think? Have you given something a makeover and been happy with it? Feel free to share in the comments, even the epic-fails (promise I won't laugh...much).

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

2015 - You're Mine

It sure has been quiet around here, on my blog. You may have noticed the lack of content from me over the past few weeks. Then again, if you're anything like me, you probably didn't notice at all.

That's because for most of us, the Christmas period, whilst lovely and all that, is stupid busy. I mean, really, it's full on. The family and friends, the presents, the food, the drinking and the late nights and the not-sleeping in all combine to be a whole lot of fun in that exhausting and often way too stressful manner.

For kids, it's just awesome, plain and simple. They get presents, they play. Done. For us, it's a whole different ball game. It's not just a day. It's a season. It's weeks of preparation. It's financial hell. It's the constant guilt of filling your guts with bad choices. Then doing it again.

Fun Fact: Most of what's missing is in my belly.
That said, I do love getting time out with the kids where I don't have to be constantly ready to switch into work mode. That's when we get to enjoy these moments:

I just LOVE how they're pretending to get along. Warms my heart.

Anyway, now that I'm officially finished my holiday (and I use that term loosely), I'm back. I'm ready to lay low for a while. I'm ready to put the wine glasses up in a high cupboard (not too high, of course). I'm ready to remove 2L ice-cream from my weekly shopping list and I will try, I repeat try, not to leave my house in the same clothes I slept in.

I'm getting the easel and the paints out. I'll be posting regularly again on this blog and I might even crank out a sit-up or a push-up every now and then. I'm setting goals, friends and stuff me with more Christmas if I don't reach them.

2015 is going to be a good year, I can feel it in my bones, buried deep beneath layers and layers of wine, trifle and Christmas cake.

Do you have big plans for 2015?