a reflection: teenage mutant ninja turtles and what you look for in a life partner

As a young girl with a VHS player, I always fancied Donatello more than the other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve come to realise that it says a lot about what I look for in a man. On reflection I see, I have always been more attracted to a quiche man than to a cave man.

Leonardo wears a blue mask and a burden of responsibility like a prized possession to nurture. He’s career driven, focused, dedicated… but when is he coming home?

Raphael is a strongman. He has a forceful nature. Some might say he’s a dark and swarthy guy. He can sit alone at the bar, but not necessarily because he wants to.

The free-spirited comedian of the group is Michelangelo. He’s an adventurer. He’s eating pizza from the box and living in the now, dude.

As the engineer, inventor and wordsmith of the group, Donatello uses the power of his smarts. He doesn’t seek the limelight, but the limelight finds him for his less brash achievements.

While Michelangelo made David famous, it was Donatello that broke with tradition and pioneered nude sculpture. He showed us that it’s not all about men with muscles; that a young man can take down a giant just with intellect and a great sun hat.

Brains beats brawn in the eyes of this fair maiden. And so, on Donatello’s behalf because he wouldn’t say it himself, I believe the caption shall read, “So there!

Donatello's David

 

image: Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi (Donatello), David (1440)

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the magic of hong cons

Hong Cons

I love Converse shoes. If I had to wear one pair of shoes for the rest of my life they would be cons: All Stars, of course. They’ve got to be the most versatile shoe. You can walk for days, dance for hours, and with a rubber sole like that, you can clean out the gutters without a fear of sliding off the roof. And, if I’m not too fussy, I can make them work with any outfit.

So I kinda live in the county, right. So there’s kinda no shops around here. So I default to the online mega-mall: ebay.

I don’t understand why there isn’t a universal shoe size. My first pair of cons are a size 4 now with holes in the soles. The next ones, worn out and tired, are a 4 ½. I chalked that up to a spreading foot and ordered a replacement pair of 4 ½ shoes from Hong Kong. These are too big. And I mean like clown shoes too big. I hid them from my husband somewhere in the garage and ordered another pair, size 3.

I’m truly not sure which shoes are the counterfeit shoes and I have no idea what size I am. That’s the magic of Hong Cons. So I’ve been thinking, if there can’t be a universal shoe size, we need to add the counterfeit size to the list of sizes.

“Do you know your size?”, enquires the shoe store attendant wearing the obligatory shoe store pair of shoes.

“Oh yes, I do!”, I proudly announce. “I’m a European 36, USA 5.5, UK 3.5, Japanese 22.5, and a Counterfeit 3… Do you have these in a counterfeit size 3?”

sometimes life throws a newspaper at your car

I had been lamenting a time when I had time. I call it lamenting but it would have equated to a mere flashing thought amongst a constant stream of thoughts that I have lately.

I had just dropped off my little Bean at preschool and returned to my car. While starting the engine a car came to idle up beside me. The newspaper delivery guy was passing through. I can wait, I thought.

Next thing, he threw a newspaper smack-bang at the side of my car! Not skimming the roof of my car, or brushing past lightly, but an almighty thud right into the side of my car.

As he drove forward slightly he passed by the bewildered expression on my face. Face to face. I saw his humoured embarrassment and he saw my face move through surprise then confused delight. I waited for him to get out of the car, bend down and reposition the newspaper in a more compliant delivery location. But he didn’t.

He edged his car forward, made a 4 point u-turn and threw a newspaper at a parked car on the other side of the road. Thud. It fell to the roadside.

I don’t blame him for feeling exhausted (in his right arm) by the daunting task of throwing hundreds of newspapers out of his car window. And I’m sure the requirements of the job of newspaper delivery are very specific, “newspapers deliveries: Must be made on the driveway, not in the garden; Must avoid puddles; Must avoid pedestrians; Must avoid parked cars…” rules ,rules, rules. Sometimes, when you haven’t got time for bending over, the rules are for bending.

So what’s this got to do with my time? Well, had I rushed off, in my usual distracted, hurried fashion, I would have missed this opportunity to share faces with the newspaper delivery man.

Sometimes you’ve got to wait, while life throws a newspaper at your car, to remember that precious moments (and newspapers) come to those that are there to receive them (on the road).

Newspaper Delivery

image: http://www.gaebler.com/How-to-Start-a-Newspaper-Delivery-Business

scallop, apple and radish salad

scallop salad

This is a lovely little starter to a candlelight night dinner in with your loveliest friend. It’s light and fresh and oh so tasty. He’ll think you’re a closet kitchen dynamo… as opposed to a kitchen closet dynamo which I’m sure would be a hand vacuum.

12 scallops (roe removed if you prefer)
2 tbsp butter
1 green apple, sliced very thinly (or julienned as pictured)
2 tbsp lemon juice (squeeze the lemon juice on the sliced apple to keep it looking fresh and stop it browning)
2-4 radishes, julienned (if not serving immediately, place in an ice bath to keep crisp)
4 chives, snipped or torn
chive flowers (if you happen to have them in your kitchen garden)

dressing:
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
Prepare the julienned apple and radishes.
In a hot pan, fry the scallops in butter. Scallops don’t take long to cook – about 4 minutes each side.
Arrange the apple and radish on small plates, top with scallops, chives and a drizzle of dressing.

jelly bubble bath: a parent’s beauty regime

My beauty regime has taken a turn since becoming a parent. And then another more drastic turn when I went back to a fairly demanding full time job just recently. My leisurely home-made day spa beauty regime has become an ‘as needs’ pluck or snip on the run. I now look for ways to combine the two: Parenting and pampering that is, not plucking and running as I assure you that will never end well. Have you ever poked yourself in the eye with tweezers? I have. It sets you back a bit.

Drum roll, the Jelly Bubble Bath. It’s super fun for little (and big) kids to have a tutti-frutti bubble bath. And it’s probably a lot healthier than actually eating the jelly.

jelly bubble batha packet of jelly
a dash of bubble bath
a slosh of almond oil (optional)
a ducky (not really optional)

ducky in the bath

summer brought me sunshine

We have had some pretty silly weather. At the beginning of summer it was so hot that we thought it would be a fire season. Then it started raining.  And it kept raining. We’ve had so much rain that people walk around looking soggy. At first, you could almost hear the seedlings in my garden sigh with relief when the rain began. But now their little faces, turned to the hidden sun, are bloated and blotchy. Like the people I pass in the street.

But who am I to complain. Summer brought me sunshine in the form of this dwarf sunflower that burst open to display 15 flowers from the one woody stalk. I just had to share this glorious gardening moment with you.

dwarf sunflower

rob roy: the cocktail

This is an ode to the Scottish Robin Hood, Robert Roy MacGregor. Well actually, the drink originated much after that in honour of a musical operetta based loosely on some of the key points of a select few years of the man’s life. With such an intro, it’s only appropriate to garnish this drink with a cherry for ol’ Red MacGregor.

Rob Roy cocktailAs far as drinks go, you could call this a Manhattan made on scotch and you’d be pretty right. Similar to the Manhattan and Martini, you need to do a bit of experimentation to find your perfect balance of dry and sweet, you do this with sweet and dry vermouth combinations. The starting point is this:

30 ml scotch
15 ml sweet vermouth
angostura bitters
maraschino cherry to serve

Add the scotch and vermouth to a well iced cocktail shaker, shake or stir to chill, then pour into a chilled martini glass that has been rinsed with bitters and garnish with a cherry.

I just want something to wear to dinner

I struggle to understand why I can’t just wear my jersey pants and fluffy flats to dinner.

Too often going out for dinner turns into a fashion faux pas. I’m looking for something pretty, but sophisticated, and of course, something with a bit of give in the midriff. The reality is that after I’ve gorged myself on my dinner and several glasses of wine, holding my tummy in isn’t going to be achievable nor consistent.

It’s a 1950’s black pencil dress with some leopard pumps.

I start out looking great, by the time I’ve had my main course I can only remember to hold my tummy flat on the way to the bathroom but not on the way back. I’m alternating between looking great and looking frumpy. I’m confusing people.

My friends decide to go to the local bar now that the restaurant is closing. It sounds like a great idea.

I’ve completely forgotten that my dress has a long slit up the back thats now riding up quite high to compensate for my pot belly out front (that I couldn’t possibly hold in now).

I arrive at the bar feeling the confidence of my last drink but look like the martini, three glasses of wine and two courses that I’ve consumed.

My clumsiness is incompatible with the slit in my dress. Someone should really tell me not to bend over. And the phrase, dance like no ones watching, didn’t originate from this teetering shuffle – because let’s hope they’re not watching.

The next morning its the jersey pants and fluffy flats that make me feel like me again. That, and the alka seltzer.

Alka Seltzer Roy Lichtenstein 1966

image: Roy Lichtenstein, Alka Seltzer (1966)

oh jamie, I think I love you: cheat’s pizza (or, the-never-buy-pizza-again pizza recipe)

Oh, Jamie, it’s a slow burn, but I think I love you.

Jamie Oliver is an international cooking phenomenon. Quite possibly he is the world’s most well known kitchen-dweller. At first, about 14 years ago, I wasn’t so sure I liked his busy, uber-chatty, hands-in, chunky-chopped style. But it could have been I was deterred by the rolling and jittering hand-held camera work of his first show. As a sufferer of motion sickness, the combination of boating and food does not conjure positive association.

More recently, the release of ‘30 Minute Meals’ has seen the reemergence of my man-friend into the realm of steam and kitchen-whizery. At our house, one night a week has been named ‘Jamie Night’ as he works from cover to cover. But there is one recipe that makes me say (and often out loud), “…genius…” and it is, Cheat’s (10 minute pan) Pizza*.

Jamie Oliver cute and cuterpizza base:
1 ½ ‘mugs’ self raising flour
½ ‘mug’ tepid water
dash olive oil
pinch of salt
another dash of olive oil for the pan

tomato paste
feta, crumbled

tomato salsa:
cherry tomatoes, halved
basil, torn
chive, flowers/ chopped stem
dash olive oil
dash balsamic
salt and pepper
Combine them all in a bowl.

In my stand mixer with dough hook attached combine the flour, water, salt and oil to form a dough. If you don’t have a stand mixer, use a food processor to get it started and then knead it for a minute on a well floured surface, but don’t fuss over it.
Put the grill on to med- high.
Put a dash of olive oil into an ovenproof fry pan.
(Jamie uses half at a time to make 2 pizzas – I use it all at once and make a thick crust)
Use your hands to spread the dough to the edges of the pan so its a fairly even thickness.
Turn the stove top heat on to med-high and let the dough come to golden brown on the bottom. Check it by lifting a corner using a spatula.

Spread a spoon of tomato paste over the top of your pan pizza and crumble feta.
Place under the grill for about 3 minutes.
Top with salsa.
If it’s breakfast/ brunch, add a poached egg on top of each slice.

Obviously, you can top yours with whatever you like, but don’t over load it for grilling.

What’s your favourite Jamie recipe?? Or, what’s your fav pizza topping?? I wanna know!

10 minute pizza

*This describes the actions I take when I make it, if you want to hear it how Jamie writes it, buy the book.

image: http://www.rspca.org.au/news/jamie-saves-our-bacon.html

garlic and retrospect

If I had been better organised lately I could have done a really nice little Halloween post about dirt and garlic and vampires. There would have been blood and a skeletal figure rising from a soil-filled box (that reminds me, I really need to plant out those potatoes withering in the pantry and do some fertilising) … In events far less dramatic than wielding knives and wooden crosses (although there may have been some wooden stakes near by), I got some dirt in my hair. Anything is possible, I’ve learnt that about gardening. But, no, that’s not it, the real life experience was … was the real life experience of harvesting my first home grown garlic!

fresh garlic

How to grow garlic:
In Autumn, go to the local co-op or organic fruit and veg shop and buy a few bulbs of garlic (don’t use imported garlic, it’s likely to be treated and may contain contaminants that may affect your soil).
Separate the cloves without damaging them.
Plant your cloves into the garden (or a pot) in a sunny, well drained spot about 15 cm apart.
Mulch, water and keep the weeds away.
Wait until Spring/Summer when the bulb foliage dies down to harvest.

Storing: Hang the whole plant in bunches and leave to dry undercover for 2 to 3 weeks. Store in a spot with good air circulation. Vampires be gone from my garage!

Cooking: Fresh young garlic has a beautiful mild flavour. It’s worth growing just to get some.