A Bunch of Fives #14
Welcome to our fourteenth Bunch of Fives
It’s the time of year when my candle business starts to demand a bit more attention...hence why the newsletter is a bit late! We really hope you are enjoying our newsletters, we really love banging on about the stuff we like, don’t like or just want to share with you. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us too! You can leave a comment on the website or on instagram too, and please share it with your friends because it helps get our newsletter out to more people if you tell someone about it! Thanks everyone...read away.
From My Bookshelf:
This is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay.
This is going to be funny, more like it! I really enjoyed this book, its a quick and easy read, written in a diary format by comedian Adam Kay, who was once a doctor. He has kept notes of all his hilarious encounters with stupid people in hospitals. Be warned though, there is also some pretty heartbreaking stuff in there too. I am just glad that my childbirthing days are over after reading his accounts of his obstetrics days...
I am pretty hopeless when it comes to doing all that creative mum stuff like making costumes for Book Week so, with Book Week upon us, my ineptitude hit fever pitch trying to make my daughters costume for her parade. This year she decided to go as Fox in Socks and I can already hear your collective murmuring of “that’s not too difficult” from here, so quit it. Easy for some of you perhaps, but for me, my anxiety rockets skyward at the self-imposed pressure of not wanting to let my daughter down with our collaborative ‘creative vision’, but also that secret judgement from other mums who live for this kind of thing. I would have NAILED her costume had she decided to go as Heidi from ‘TWIG’; author and illustrator Aura Parker’s debut children’s book about the first day of school and how easy it is to become invisible in a sea of colour and movement. Since starting school, my eldest has often found it hard to find her friends at playtime with everyone dressed so similarly and pretty much the same size throughout the playground. Twig is about finding your place, your voice and making friends at school and broaches themes of loneliness and confidence as well. It has been on high rotation for a couple of years now and is coming in handy with our youngest getting ready to head off to big school next year. Perhaps I could encourage her to dress up as Heidi for her first parade? Encourage/demand…same same.
I have a terrible habit of bringing old things home that I don’t really need. Hello old bottles. I know there are serious collectors out there who love them and get really purist about what types they keep and what condition they are in but me...nah. If its got a groovy old label or a nice shape it usually ends up on some random shelf and gathers dust so that visitors can think to themselves “why does she keep all this old crap”. But I guess I just like little reminders of a simpler time, of a time past when there just wasn’t so much shitty plastic packaging. But how cute is this old cordial bottle?
I lost the Netflix remote for about 48 hours and in all seriousness I nearly went mad. I searched the house high and low like a woman possessed, eventually enlisting the help of my children with promises of zooper doopers, marshmallows in milo, and ice cream for whoever found it first but for the life of us we could not find it FOR TWO WHOLE DAYS! So, it was at that moment when my little ones realised that their mumma was going to lose her tiny pea brain they opened up the mostly unused drawers on the TV cabinet and started sifting through DVDs to try and satiate my viewing addiction. Edith came up with the winner handing me a copy of Spotlight; a film that’s been rattling around in the drawer for a couple of years now and one that I’ve never really been in the mood for, but this night I was just moody enough to give it a go and h-o-l-y crap. Literally! I’m not going to get into a heated rant here about how despicable the whole shitshow is because what I am actually writing about is the old timey-ness of DVDs and VHS and how obsolete they have become since the advent of the likes of Netflix and Stan.
I have the fondest memories of going to the Quandi Bowlo after swimming club and poring over the videos, daring and scaring myself to look at the back covers of Halloween, Evil Dead and Friday the 13th and bringing home the gold such as Gremlins, The Dark Crystal, The Neverending Story and Razorback. It was so exciting. Anticipation would be through the roof by the time we got home and if the previous user hadn’t rewound the video and you had to wait those extra 3 minutes to rewind it, excitement levels would be creeping up to pants wetting stages. You could almost guarantee at some point you’d get that irritating wavy effect rippling down the screen during crucial moments in the plot, and there was nothing like that sinking feeling you felt in the pit of your stomach when you heard the unmistakeable noise of your machine ‘chewing’ the tape halfway through the movie. I still have three big boxes full of videos that I don’t know what to do with. I mean, vinyl made a comeback so who’s to say video cassettes won’t become retro in years to come? Up until a couple of years ago I still had the technology to play them, too, it’s just so much easier to click and watch it all in one place rather than lug all the extra gear about and at this stage in my life -that I discuss later in this newsletter-, I'm all for convenience. Desperate times called for desperate measures, so I headed into town and ordered another remote and, of course, later that evening I found the original underneath the rug that lies underneath the ottoman that is usually underneath my children’s stinky bums. T-Y-P-I-C-A-L.
P.S. Spotlight is an autobiographical film that won the Academy Award for Best Film in 2015. It deals with the exposure of systemic child sex abuse rife in the Catholic Church in the Boston area (yeah, I'm looking at you too Pennsylvania) by a number priests that was also hidden underneath a dirty rug from the top down. It’s incredulous but definitely worth the emotional viewing.
I’m not really sure what’s going on with my head lately but I am feeling the creative juices flowing...I just never seem to have the time to carry the ideas out! I had some little sculpture idea bouncing around in my head the other day which I am busting to explore, and some drawing has been happening lately. It might just be a few scribbly pictures on an envelope or two, but it feels GOOD. I feel that we are all here to create something, whether its art, good food, awesome clothes, a gorgeous garden, a book, whatever! I just know that it makes me feel GREAT when I get some stuff out in the world...ok, my newsletter ramblings could use some work but hey, I’m more of a visual person OK? Anyway, I am going to keep illustrating a few more envelopes after being inspired the ultra-talented Naomi Bulger (@naomibulger) who draws on envelopes for a living. She is so prolific and she also coaches people with their creative pursuits. I will endeavour to get some of these little sculptures in my head made and post some pictures in the newsletter but until then, here’s an envelope I have been working on...
I thought my days of attending weddings were over but there are still a couple of mates and family members out there who are up for the lifelong challenge of matrimony. As discussed in a previous Bo5, I’ve been on a magazine hiatus for a while now but Sarah put me onto Lunch Lady and a couple of days ago I bought myself a copy, went home and actually spent the afternoon reading it in front of the fire. It was bliss. Inside I discovered a gorgeous alternative to the traditional types of things people like to peg at newlywed’s as they take their first steps into the world as husband and wife. You know the stuff- rose petals, paper confetti, glitter, rice etc. Well this substitute is simple, environmentally friendly, completely free and one that I am absolutely going to use at my brother in-laws wedding that’s fast approaching (YAY!!!). It’s a bit fiddly but the end result is beautiful. All you need are a few leaves from your garden or the roadside, a hole punch and a little of your time. Not only do you end up with the prettiest biodegradable confetti, if you're up for getting extra creative, the patterned leaves would make a lovely garland or some such. I for one know exactly what my Christmas wreath is going to look like this year! Here’s some I had a quick go at making this afternoon. I love the soft muted tones of the leaves I’ve used. So purrty. The lemon scented gum leaves smell divine too.
Better Things is an American TV show that I discovered on Foxtel one night. I have fallen in love it! The show centres around Sam (played by Pamela Adlon... remember Marcie from Californication?), a single mum of three girls, who also takes care of her eccentric, vague mother. Sam is an actor in a sitcom and she juggles her daughters school problems, boy issues and the underlying transgender vibe surrounding her 12 year old daughter, Frankie. There is no real storyline to the show, it just follows their day to day lives, the scripting being very natural and conversational. Really funny and at times excruciatingly awkward, I urge you to check it out. Mums of girls will love it especially.
I mentioned in the last Bunch of Fives (btw sorry for phoning that one in guys, I was just very time poor and had a lot going on) and in several insta updates that I am painting my house and hammering through a multitude of podcasts as I go. One of the standouts is a podcast by UK comedian Cariad Lloyd called Griefcast – a series about death and bereavement. Cariad herself lost her father at the age of 15 and struggled for years to come to terms with it because death is something no one wants think about let alone talk about for fear of saying the wrong thing. She thought that interviewing other comedians who had lost a loved one could be one way of shining a light on a topic that for some reason is considered kinda taboo in our society. Hearing other comedians talk about the loss of family members and their dealings with their own grief is uplifting, touching, and as you would expect from people who make their money from being funny, humorous. But death is ironically a part of life and it is coming for all of us in one way or another, and personally I think it is important to discuss these matters with those we cherish most. Recently my father’s sister passed away; she had been ill but it was still shocking and unexpected but her death brought our family together in ways greater than any birth, wedding or reunion ever could. We surrounded our cousins with love and laughter and tried our very best to soften the sorrow they were so desperately feeling for the irreparable loss of their mother. Nothing can ever prepare you for death and no one is ever going to hand you a script with a bullet point list of all the right things to say but anything is better than total avoidance, and this is what Cariad and her guests discuss intimately.
Griefcast recently won the Best Podcast of the Year at the British Podcast Awards. The episode with Adam Buxton is a standout (he too has a wonderful podcast that I will talk about in a later newsletter) and her interview with Gemma Whelan (Yara Greyjoy of GoT fame) will give you chills.
Ahh food. If winter is good for anything (which I seriously think it is not) then it might just be food. Lovely stews, casseroles, bakes, cakes and soups that warm the belly and soothe the soul. Standing by a toasty oven while a pot simmers away is very calming indeed. One thing I love to watch simmer is this Asian Chicken soup which is a mash up of a Donna Hay recipe, a Bill Granger recipe, and some bits and pieces added by me. Delicious.
Asian Chicken Soup
- 4 cups chicken stock
- Good knob of grated ginger
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- Pinch of vegeta gourmet stock powder
- Handful of broccoli florets
- Handful of cauliflower florets
- Cup of shredded BBQ chicken
- Fresh red chilli sliced (or a pinch of dried chilli flakes)
- Fresh coriander
- Spring onion thinly sliced
- Dried ramen noodles (optional)
Bring stock to a boil with the grated ginger and garlic. Add oyster sauce and vegeta. Add vegies and simmer until tender. Add noodles and cook for 4 minutes. Pour into a bowl with BBQ chicken and top with chilli, coriander and spring onion. Serves 2.
Well! Didn’t my impending middle agedness slap me in the face like a bitchy youth when I attended a Pink -sorry, P!nk- concert a couple of weeks ago. I went with three other women (also in their 40’s) and with VIP tickets in hand we strutted (ok, I waddled) past the hordes of people lining up to get in, smirking happily at one another because, well, they had to line up and we were VIP, darlings.
Those smug little grins were quickly wiped from our smug little faces when we walked around the corner and were met by a 200 metre line up to get into the ‘VIP’ pre-party. For a good 45 minutes we stood in various lines slowly snaking our way down into the bowels of Qudos Arena for what was fast becoming a Very Impressively Poxy pre-party. Once there, we were thrown into a room with 750 other ‘very important people’ with faces silently but surely portraying their disappointment at being thrust into a dungeon with almost a thousand other people who thought they too were paying for something a little extra special. The free food and booze didn’t flow as ‘freely’ as expected and with less than an hour left of the soiree it was every man, woman and child for themselves. (Kidding about the ‘child’ bit. There was no youth to be seen that night. Anywhere.)
You see, for $560 per ticket- YES! PER FREAKIN’ TICKET- we were all hoping for something a little more substantial than dumplings, mini kebabs and some weird cold-gelatinous-mushroom-tower vombomb that we very nearly had to violently fight each other for out of equal parts hunger and rage. Nor did we expect to have to stand in queues for beverages that rivalled a passion for alcohol only ever witnessed in parents when last drinks are called, and you're out for the first time in forever, over revved with excitement and the knowledge that the grandparents have the kids and “there’s no rush” to pick them up the next morning, or so I imagine would be the scene. I shouldn’t complain though, they gave us a little pressie for the privilege in the form of a pillow… Yes, you read that right, I said a pillow with Pink’s face on it and you're damn right if you think you know where it was going to be shoved! But you live and learn I guess.
Once inside the arena I sat down next to a fella named Alan. Alan seemed lovely but just looked like he wanted to be anywhere other than at a Pink gig with his enthusiastic wife and her friend- also of the middle aged vintage. Maybe it was my animated grilling for his life story that contributed to his friendly but sullen mood- who’s to say, really? - all I know is that once the show started I never sat down, and probably obscured much of his view with my big wiggly butt dancing uncomfortably close to his facial region. At one point I sang so loudly that the lovely couple in front of me turned around and looked at me with what can only be described as disgust. It wasn’t until I got home and listened back to some of the footage I had taken to show my girls that I completely understood the horrorshow I had subjected them to. I deleted it immediately. I have to give it to Pink though; considering she had cancelled the previous night’s show and went on to cancel the following two nights after our gig due to ill health, she was incredible. She’s empowering, strong and can sing right side up, upside down or just casually flying about. I'm looking forward to taking my girls to see her if they are still into her when she comes to town again but I am very happy to sit in the nosebleed section if there is ever a next time round.
I read/heard/maybe even completely fabricated the whole story myself, that sales at Just Jeans go through the roof when Pink is in town and for some reason the thought of all those middle aged mums getting a new pair of threads for this occasion tickled me. Poor Alan, though. My jeans were of the Tah-zhay variety and I can pretty much guarantee that my mum bum was not the vista he had come to see but pretty much had no choice in seeing anyway. I never did get to say goodbye to my new buddy, for he was long gone by the time Pink closed it out but I do hope he had a good time.
It truly was Mum Central and being surrounded by thousands of women shaking their booties in their hoiked up mom jeans left me with mixed emotions. I had never really felt my age until that night and no matter how young I still feel (and act) I am, glaringly, almost middle aged. I don’t know how it’s aching back and sagging ass appeared on the horizon so quickly, but I am glad that it’s coming for me. I'll keep on singing loudly and badly, striking up conversations with strangers and feeling like that girl I was in my youth, hopefully until old age makes an appearance and I find some semblance of grace. Maybe. It has taken me years to build my confidence and find contentment within myself and in all honesty I would not give up anything to be young again in this day and age. The thought terrifies me, just like most stuff does these days.