A Bunch of Fives #19

Welcome to 2020 (Ha! It’s March!) Well gosh, do you blame us? Drought, bushfires, and now COVID19?? What better time than now to get stuck back in to our newsletter that covers five topics each issue, and what Amber and I have been reading, watching, listening to, cooking and making. So here’s our lockdown issue so that you might get some ideas for all those lovely days and nights at home because there’s nothing to go out for anymore!!

From My Bookshelf:


The New Homesteader by Bella & Nick Ivins

It’s like it was a sign of things to come! My husband gave me this for Christmas and I thought, “Oh what lovely things to do when you’re at home for an extended period! Its full of old fashioned tips on living a simple life like all humans once did. How to make a garden bed and grow vegies, how to make sourdough bread, home cleaning products, even how to raise livestock. So watch out, I might get all Little House on the Prairie on you.

I’ll also include a little list of good reads I enjoyed over the past summer (I cant believe 2 of these are what Amber read, so double upping here but so what, more the merrier.) :

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood: Friendship, old rivalries, ageing, letting go. All set on beautiful Pittwater in Sydney.

Fleischman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner: A wife goes AWOL and her husband resorts to online dating hook ups. An in depth look at a woman who loses her way and what happens when she tries to keep it all together.

488 Rules for Life by Kitty Flanagan: Basically a book about what annoys Kitty about other peoples behaviour and manners. Bloody hilarious. If you enjoy bike riding (of the serious kind, and all the paraphernalia and outfitiing that goes with it) then you may not like what she has to say about you.


I’ve read a few cracking books lately; Bill Bryson’s A Walk In the Woods was an entertaining tale of his time spent walking the Appalachian Trail in the US with a long lost friend that was in every way unsuited to the task. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by  Mitch Albom had me in the tears that I was absolutely expecting ( the title kinda gave me the heads up, plus he wrote Tuesdays With Morrie which had the same effect on me).

I am loving dipping in and out of Fleabag: The Scriptures (Phoebe Waller Bridge and my excellent Chrissy present from Sarah) that has me wanting to binge watch it all over again; The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Albright and Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner were great for some serious middle aged drama and Kitty Flanaghan’s 488 Rules for Life; The Thankless Art of Being Correct had me laughing out loud and reading out loud to random audiences whether they wanted to hear it or not. 

Old Timey:


The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

OK, technically should be in the bookshelf section BUT see the photo? This was my mums copy as a little girl which she read to me and now Ive just read it to my 7 year old daughter (and to my two boys about 8 years ago). Im guessing most of you have read this or the first instalment, The Enchanted Wood. Its such a great read for young and old alike (Im enjoying it way more than Billie B Brown or Ella12) and even now Clem and I are on to book 3, Folk of the Faraway Tree and we love all of them. We have even downloaded and listened to a few chapters of it on Audible read in a very English fashion by Kate Winslet. This could fill many hours of lockdown time, while you listen to the adventures of Moonface, Saucepan, Jo, Bessie and Fanny (who mysteriously became Frannie in the later versions). Proof that good old Enid Blyton was onto something all those years ago.


Our household went device and TV free for a fortnight last December. We filled in a lot of our newfound family time playing good old fashioned games like Snakes and Ladders, Kids Charades, Jenga, Sequence, Operation, Race To The Roof etc (FYI that last game can take a really long time so I recommend it as a last resort). We also got back into jig sawing and ambitiously attempted a Star Wars puzzle but it beat us in the end- there were just far too many black pieces that wouldn’t go where we wanted them to. It was a pretty decent detox though and one I wish could have lasted longer because we were all pretty gross once the ban lifted. I have all but disappeared from the old socials these days; with everything that was going on in Australia over the Christmas -New Year period I started feeling uncomfortable posting inane photos of our family holiday where the drought and bushfires didn’t seem to be affecting too many people. I still check in now and then but I haven’t posted in a while. There’s more than enough content out there to scroll through without me clogging it up with my mindless business. For now I will leave it to the experts.

Art/Creative Stuff/Instagram:


Ive been lucky enough to help out with my kids school recently in running a program called Home 2020. Its all about studying indigenous artists from the Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi nations to show kids from country schools what indigenous art comes from their area. Each week we look at artists such as the Euraba Paper Makers, Brooke Andrew and Karla Dickens. By the end of term 3 we will have made a number of artworks as a class and will be exhibiting them along with other schools in the Wagga area at the Wagga Gallery. Its valuable and exciting work and you can follow what we have been up to on the Quandialla Public School Facebook page.


And just to prove how stuck I am in the past comes this offering: Nick Cave’s delightful The Red Hand Files newsletter. Each month a fan puts a question to Cave and he answers them with absolute honesty and intense vulnerability with that gift he has for words that makes everything he writes sound so poetic and lyrical. He seems to have mellowed from the dark and brooding musician I have known and loved for a while (cause high school is starting to go back quite a few years now!) since the sudden death of his teenage son a few years back. The result of his experiment in truly bridging the gap between fans and their idols is ALLLLL the feels. Check it out here The Red Hand Files to subscribe or read this article from the New Yorker The Brutality and Tenderness of Nick Caves Newsletters to see if it might be your thing. I promise you it is (mostly) pure joy.



SUCCESSION (Foxtel): Im a bit late to this one but thanks to the insistence of my friend Jane, Im roped in. It centres around a family run multi billion dollar media company and what happens when he decides to step down. The kids are all played off against each other and you wont believe the level of lies, deceit, and skulduggery they all stoop to. Aussie actress Sarah Snook is amazing as the golden haired daughter and Keiren Culkin plays an excellent liability of a younger brother doing whatever his father tells him to do. The greed, swearing, power hungry antics and wealth are obscene and it’s a scary insight into how families can treat each other when there’s money involved.

THE CALL OF THE WILD: I saw this a few weeks ago with my kids because I had read the boys the famous old book when they were about 6 and 8. It’s the story of a domestic dog that gets sold to a sledding team that delivers the mail across remote Alaska. This is a remake of the old Charlton Heston movie which was pretty good, but Harrison Ford stars in this new version using very good CGI for the dogs and wolves. Needless to say, the scenery is spectacular. Also centres on the message about finding where one belongs.

STRONG SONGS WITH KIRK HAMILTON: Im borrowing this one from Leigh Sales who recommended this podcast on Chat 10 Looks 3 and it has already grabbed me. It looks at famous songs and why they work and became hits. Hamilton pulls apart all the different instruments and isolates them, playing them for you in his studio, all the while explaining why the riffs or the drum beats or the vocals work. Musicians are so bloody clever and have brains I could never understand but this goes some way to explaining how excellent songs are made. Highlights for me were the episodes about Aretha Franklins “Think”, Beyonces “All the Single Ladies” and Elton Johns “Tiny Dancer”. Did you know that one of the backing singers on “Think” was Whitney Houstons Mum? I know!!


Flipping things a little here because there is nothing really blowing my hair back in any of these departments lately, so if anyone can give me some recommendations I would really appreciate it. I’m stuck in time, listening to the same old music and same podcasts and getting tired of going around and around the Netflix/Stan grounds in search of something new that by the time I find something I am too tired to start it. I think I have had this gripe before on a previous Bo5 too. See! Stuck in the past. I have finally given The Crown a go and I am really enjoying it, late as I am to the party. I cringe watched The Devil Next Door, a doco about a suspected Nazi war criminal living a quiet life in the US (for my 2 bobs worth, he’s guilty as!). I jumped on the Cheer bandwagon thinking it was going to be something akin to Bev Hills 90210 when I needed something mindless and was pleasantly surprised to find it was a doco about the most inspiring kids, their coach and their insane individual athleticism. (And Jerry. I heart Jerry 4eva). Oh, and Season 3 of Ozark is about to come out too (27th March) and even though season 2 started getting a bit far-fetched I am still busting to see Jason Bateman onscreen again. You’ll find them all on Netflix.



Even though Im an art teacher I am by no means a qualified ceramic teacher but I do enjoy a bit of clay work. So as a fundraiser for our school excursion Im running a handbuilding ceramics workshop soon. Getting your hands into clay is one of the primal artmaking activities anyone can do. Plus you get to chat while you make! There are 18 of us doing the class and it sold out in no time. If you are interested as well, direct message me and I will put you on the list for another class we might hold next term if we get enough.

Well that wraps up our latest Bunch of Fives to keep you busy during this time of social distancing. Stay calm, don’t hoard, and we will all get through this.

*UPDATE* This class has been postponed due to Covid 19 (No surprises there) so stay tuned for a new date later in the year.


I am not a good cook. I am all about necessity and ease when it comes to dinner time. I used to enjoy it before I had children but I would really like to deviate, even just a teensy bit, from the menu that has been on repeat for what seems like an eternity in our home because my youngest is so bloody fussy, and I am not one of those mums who makes 2 or 3 different meals to satisfy the tastes of every individual in her brood nightly. (HUGE Middle finger up to that business). I am also not a “food show” fan- well, I should say I ‘wasn’t’ a fan- until I came across Sylvia Colloca’s Cook Like an Italian. I like the look of the simple and creative recipes she whips up and I’m actually going to attempt a couple of them this weekend because they seem easy enough and tasty enough for the majority of the family. Bops will be eating another jam sandwich (made by her!) if she isn’t up for penne with Sicilian pesto and it will be her loss cause I am backing myself that it will be a winner. Cook Like An Italian is on SBS Wednesday 8:30pm.

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