A Bunch of Fives #11
Welcome to our eleventh Bunch of Fives
It’s been a little bit longer since our last newsletter but that’s because I run a business, we are mothers of small children and we are married to farmers. ‘Nuff said. Hope you enjoy our latest issue, please send feedback as we love hearing from you! Fist bumps, Sarah and Amber.
From My Bookshelf:
Creatures of The Order
My parents gave this to my son on his 12th birthday recently but I think its a book to suit any age. You know those kids obsessed with bugs? Or sharks? I do. I have one. Has been since he was one year old. This book is perfect for that kind of kid. It covers the orders of the animal kingdom, like the butterflies, snakes, whales, frogs, etc. Did you know owls have an order entirely of their own? The illustrations are my favourite bit, painterly yet simple and not too realist., like looking into one 9f those glass cases at the museum but with a touch of artistic illustration thrown in. Its put out by Australian Geographic and it’s well worth grabbing a copy for your kid, the present cupboard or even yourself.
Blurring the lines a little here but I am listening to My Mum Says My Memoir is a Lie. It’s actually a podcast but the premise of it is that each episode the host reads one chapter from a book she has written to her mother and they sit and talk about it afterwards. I figure it’s kind of like an audiobook so I am including it under this heading, plus, I have now given you both book AND podcast recommendations. Winning. From what I have heard thus far (I am only halfway through the book) Rosie Waterland has spent a colourful and traumatic life with her mother, Lisa, who in turn has spent the majority of Rosie’s life voraciously drinking her way through casks of wine and cheap cleanskins. Sober for the past year, and pretty much for the first time in Rosie’s life, the episodes consist of Rosie reading out one chapter from her book, The Anti Cool Girl, and then discussing it at length with her mum as the two of them try to stitch together some kind of congenial truth to their past. They usually just agree to disagree about a lot of things. There is a real confidence to Waterland’s writing: within the pages of her memoir she recalls moments from a traumatic childhood with humour and has accepted the life she was born into without pity. But no matter how hilariously she is able to describe what is fast adding up to a multitude of disturbing events, it is uncomfortable and sometimes very hard to hear particularly because her mother - the one responsible for placing her in many of the situations she experienced as a child- is sitting in the room as her daughter reads aloud each account of her childhood as she remembers it. There are moments of denial, great sadness, blame, and regret. There are also a lot of awkward moments due to Rosie’s propensity to overshare and grill her mother on topics that her mother clearly does not wish to discuss with her daughter (i.e. sex stuff). Regardless, this mother and her daughter seem to be solid and supportive of one another despite the lives they’ve lived sometimes together, sometimes apart. I am only halfway through the book as I write this but I should be finished by the time this is published. For now I am really enjoying it even if it is with a heavy heart.
I grew up in a house full of my mother’s old collected kitchenalia. It’s her first stop at any clearing sale or auction if she spies a box with a wooden rolling pin or wire cake rack poking out of the top . I’ve even seen her buy a whole box of pretty ordinary china mugs and 80s vases just for a small piece of pretty blue and white china she saw in the bottom seen. But enamelware has a real soft spot for her. Me too. My fellow Bunch of Fiver Amber gave me this enormous teapot some years ago and its a cracker. I don’t know how many cups of tea it makes but I’m sure its seen a lot of CWA meetings and country dinner dances over the years. The smaller cream coloured one was a gift from my husband’s sister who even knitted a tea cosy especially for it. If you are after quality new enamelware, visit Odgers & McLellland Exchange Stores at Nundle (www.exchangestores.com.au) . They stock a good variety of trays, dishes, plates, mugs, teapots and more, and they will send them in the post. The set of six enamel cups I bought from them a few years ago are still in daily use in our house. They have lots of chips and dents from being dropped a hundred times but I quite like the patina this kind of use gives them, it suits enamelware and makes them look old fashioned, which I love.
For some reason I awoke over the weekend with a rampant desire to move stuff about the house and, FYI, this is one of my husband’s worst nightmares. Usually…OK…almost certainly, this scenario plays out a little something like this:
The process begins with me asking politely if he could help me move some heavy furniture, to which he begrudgingly says ‘OK’; we will then spend the next half an hour struggling with whatever the hell it is I’ve decided needs to be moved from one corner of the house to the farthest corner of the house right this very second. There is the occasional swear word uttered at one another’s attempts to navigate the monolith through doorways and down hallways, and really helpful opinions bandied about as to knowing where the other one can actually ‘shove’ it. By the time we arrive at our destination we are barely on speaking terms and I will faff about under the frowning gaze of a man who has been here many, many times before and knows exactly what is about to come out of my acid mouth next. It is inevitable. I’ll stamp my foot, growl and utter “Nope…I don’t like it here…it’s not right…take it back”. The whole bonding experience is then repeated in reverse and when all is done and dusted Rolesy suddenly remembers he has urgent work that needs attending, and will disappear for the remainder of the day. So with that little dramedy playing out in your minds you can imagine how excited he was when I took it next level and decided that I wanted to find the old school desk that I ‘think’ is down in the old dairy (i.e. miles away and possibly underneath a whole heap of junk) because I want to fix it up for the girls playroom. I was right; it was underneath a huge pile of junk that required some serious Tetris moves to get it out of the shed and me being told -a lot- to get out of the way. As he was huffing and puffing away at my behest, I noticed far too late in the exercise that my latest ‘project’ needed a lot more work than I had anticipated…a LOT more…but I was committed to the job now. When we got it home and I had a decent look at what is essentially just a few planks of rotten wood barely held together with years of bird faeces and dust, it was evident that I had made a terrible mistake. Seeing as I had managed to ruin my husband’s Sunday with this fanciful request, I knew I had to continue on this path to restoration (despite the abysmal state of it) as a matter of principal. I spent the afternoon sanding off what I'm pretty certain is some kind of toxic lead based paint and wondering just where I had left my mind between the hours of going to sleep last night and waking this morning. I'm sure it will be great if -and by if I mean when- I tart it up; this old relic’s form and function means I will have a neat place to hide all of their finicky craft stuff and my eldest daughter will have a new place to play ‘schools’ with her younger sister, barking the alphabet at her with the authority of a teacher whose teaching mode and disciplinary measures haven’t been observed since the 60’s. That would be the 1860’s.
This instagram account belongs to the very clever Rae Dawson from Grenfell who is taking care of her six year old daughter who has a disability, and home schools her in an old bush church that they have painstakingly renovated to be the loveliest little building I’ve ever seen in these parts. All the photos in her account are taken at the church, and it’s easy to see that Rae was a photographer by trade. The soft grainy hues and muted palette marry beautifully with the timbers lining the church, as well as complimenting the gentle, patient way she teaches her daughter. Rae also writes little books and first readers that she sells as educational resources. My daughter also uses them and she loves them for practicing her sight words. If you ever get to meet Rae, you will discover a very warm and wise woman with a strong belief in raising kind, clever and resilient children. Make sure you check out her page at @wisdomforthelittle
Overheardla on Instagram. I wonder just how many of these snippets are really “overheard” and how many are just made up by the same clever social observer that manages the page. Regardless, most of them are pretty bloody funny and oh so L.A. Not that I would know. I am being completely judgemental and basing said judgement on anecdotal evidence. Sloppy work, indeed.
Dispatch to a Friend (@dispatchtoafriend)
Annabel Hickson and Gillian Bell are good friends who write letters to each other. They read them aloud on the podcast and then have a little conversation about them. They chat about their travels, their jobs, and what they are cooking in their kitchens. I have found this podcast to be very quaint and soothing, and it makes me so happy to know that there are peo0le still writing letters. Real letters on paper. Amber and I wrote letters to each other religiously through high school and then when Amber travelled the world. She even wrote me a letter from the South Coast of NSW while on holidays a couple of months ago, even though we live about 120km from each other. I still have all of our high school correspondence bundled up with liberty and grosgrain ribbons (fashion of the time) but I am almost too scared to ready any for fear of uncovering some mortifying episode involving my latest crush on some boy who I met on the XPT coming home from boarding school for holidays. Anyway, this podcast has inspired me to start writing letters again. Now who should I write to first?
A couple of weeks ago Rolesy and I headed over to Canberra for the evening to celebrate the anniversary we had both managed to forget this year with dumplings and a show. Luckily for us Tex Perkins was touring again as The Man in Black (his tribute show to Johnny Cash) so we chowed down on a mountain of dumplings, loaded up on mid strength beer in plastic cups and headed into the theatre to find a ‘mature’ crowd waiting very quietly for the lights to go down. It was a funny old night; even though the majority of the audience were on the other side of 50 they were seriously up for a bit of JC on a Wednesday night the moment Tex stepped on stage. (I don’t really know why this surprised me; they were the ones that grew up listening to him after all) They hooted and hollered and sang along with Tex as he belted out some of Johnny’s biggest hits whilst weaving the story of his life, and relationship with June Carter Cash, into two hours of rollicking entertainment. Tex was joined onstage by the huge voice belonging to Rachael Tidd as June, who also orated much of their story in between songs. The band, The Tennessee Four, was incredible as well. I'm pretty sure the tour has finished in the eastern states now and is heading for Perth but if you ever see it advertised in your parts in the future get to it. If you're a fan of Johnny or even just Tex, you won’t be disappointed. It was a lot of fun and I guarantee the show will have you tapping your toes and smiling like a loon from go to woe.
High Five Johnny Cash songs
- Walk the Line (I walked down the aisle to this at my wedding. My mother’s friend was convinced the music guy had put the wrong song on until she saw my face beaming from across the garden and realised - with much disappointment, I think - that he hadn’t)
- It Aint Me, Babe
- Get Rhythm
- The Wanderer
- When the Man Comes Around
My Open Kitchen Gathering
Two weekends ago, I travelled to Orange to attend the My Open Kitchen gathering for those who are part of the MOK e-course alumni. This course was designed by Sophie Hansen (of @locallovely fame) to help online creatives, foodies and small business owners use social media to tell our stories through beautiful words and photos. It helped me find new connections and friends, as well as my online ‘tribe’. And here they all were at the gathering.
We began with welcome drinks at The Sonic hosted by Pip Brett who was so warm and welcoming. My cousin Rachael and I had so much fun meeting lots of lovely people from all over Australia. The first person I met was Annabelle Hickson (see above podcast) and I’m sure I unnerved her trying to tell her about our Bunch of Fives newsletter but she was very kind and let me bang on regardless.
The next day at the Old Convent, Borenore, we were all treated to incredibly inspiring panel discussions and speakers, and first up was the amazing Sara Tasker all the way from Yorkshire, UK who has one of my favourite podcasts, Hashtag Authentic. I was so thrilled to meet her all I could ask her was if Yorkshire was where All Creatures Great and Small was made! Again, I was treated kindly and not made to feel too much like an idiot.
Sara’s insights to an online presence were invaluable and I took away so much, but mainly that it’s very important to be you, and not try to be someone you think followers will like. It’s all about authenticity, telling people your story, and engaging with those that want to engage with you.
Next up were a couple of excellent panel discussions with the likes of these awesome ladies:
- Megan Trousdale (@exchangestoresnundle)
- Fiona Walmsley (@buenavistafarm)
- Michelle Crawford (@_michellecrawford)
- Annabelle Hickson (@annabellehickson)
- Sara Tasker (@me_and_orla)
- Tamsin Carvan (@tamsinstable)
- Luisa Brimble (@luisabrimble)
- Barbara Sweeney (@foodandwords)
- Pip Brett (@jumbledonline)
- Skye Manson (@skye_manson)
- Honey Atkinson (@honeyatkinson)
- Victoria Carey (@countrystylemag)
I hope I didn’t miss anyone.... there were so many great tips for anyone using social media, and I was pleased to hear a lot of talk about newsletters which has given me momentum for this little one of ours.
Lunch was on the grass around the firepit with a box full of delicious goodies and bubbles from @seesawwine in the sun (all work and no play...) We also had a small market are set up where participants could sell some of their products so while I set up my candles, I managed to meet (and buy from) some more clever people like @sue_singingmagpieproduce (chocolate dipped figs you can buy online! Yes, it’s true!), @burtonslanecurrypaste (delicious tomato kausundi), @sixsmithcreate (great granola) and @1803deer (my next birthday request is one of their chef’s knives...so cool).
So after a huge day, we headed back to Orange for dinner at the yummy @sweetsoursalt while watching the royal wedding on an iphone (that dress!). Sunday was workshop day back at the Old Convent, and I had signed up for the Bloom and Grow workshop with Sara Tasker and Annabelle Hickson. We played around with fun photo apps like Unfold and Lumyer, learnt how to make cinemagraphs and how to make our Insta stories more beautiful.
I cant get over what a treat it was to attend this amazing event, nor how Sophie Hansen actually pulled it all together and got all of these talented people to say yes. I really hope it happens again! If you get a chance, jump at it. If not, just look up all the instagram handles of the people listed above and see how its done. And done WELL. So much can be learned from just following people on Instgram, and watching what they do. I am very grateful to all the speakers and presenters for being so very generous with their knowledge. I came home with a new spring in my step and ideas galore buzzing around in my head. Now to put it all into practice.
I'm talking about the Royal’s again because, HELLO! THE GINGER MEG’S WEDDING. I don’t even know where to begin…so how about I just dive straight into the range of reactions displayed by the royal family, and their guests, when Bishop Reverend Curry seemingly went rogue and gave an almost-15 minute sermon that mentioned the world ‘love’ about 700 times. The nervous shifting about in seats, the smirks, the wide-eyed sideways glances at one another, David Beckham’s schoolboy grin, Elton John’s grimace literally dripping off his face (and that hair?!)… IT WAS GOLD! I do have to admit though, that even I started to squirm around the 10 minute mark but I just could not look away. Worlds were colliding! Catherine and Camilla were visibly pushed to the edge of their comfort zones, at one point the queen seemed to just shrug in defeat and even Charles and Wills shared a little guffaw with one another. I actually started to panic a little and wondered if this was going to turn into some kind of ‘scene’…I had no idea where his sermon was going, as passionate and heartfelt as it was. I wondered what the protocol might be if he took things too far because as far as I know (and I’ll let you in on a little secret here, I know nothing) there’s no band to drown out your voice and play you off stage when things get too heavy at a royal wedding. Regardless of whether or not she was sweating in places we couldn’t see, Meghan managed to maintain her composure and a magnificent smile throughout the service. Nothing was bringing her down that day, not even a holy man talking about slavery in front of a family that built an empire on colonisation. Awkies. That aside, the bride really looked beautiful; she was understated and elegant and Harry just seemed to be absolutely smitten with the young woman standing next to him about to become his wife. There was barely any of the pomp and ceremony that is expected when it comes to a royal wedding, instead it was an entertaining blend of tradition and modernity. I get the feeling we witnessed the beginnings of the Royal family finally being ushered into a ‘contemporary’ realm with the union of these two. Here’s hoping anyway. And is it just me or do Wills and Catherine now seem like a younger version of Charles and Camilla in comparison to the spunky Harry and Meghan? A Bad Lip Reading video started getting about almost immediately after the official wedding and it is hilarious. If you haven’t seen it already, you can See it here I promise it won’t offend.