Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tempus Fugit

All the clocks in my life are wrong.

Not very wrong, just a couple of minutes fast or slow.

This causes me untold angst, as I have had it inculcated deep into my psyche that four minutes early is actually one minute late. And if I'm only three minutes early? Mein gott! Mission failure!

Unfortunately, despite this ingrained need to be punctual, I am also a pathological procrastinator. If I have a minute to spare I won't leave home and get there early. Instead I'll faff around wiping the benches and checking twitter. (Probably more likely the latter.)

This would be totally fine.

Except all the clocks are wrong.

So my morning goes something like this:

Eat Breakfast. Check the wall clock (5 mins fast). Panic and flail madly, throwing the dishes in the general direction of the sink and then running to the bathroom. Extra points for corners taken at a slide in socks.

Shower like I am being pursued by ravenous wolves (very scary in a confined space). Hop out, and peek around the corner at the bedroom clock (3 mins slow). Congratulate myself on managing to shower and wash my hair all in a single minute. Dawdle through picking clothes and getting generally gussied up.

Put on my watch (3 mins fast). Oh sweet merciful lemons, where did the time go? How could putting on jeans possibly have taken a full twenty minutes! Panic. Flail madly. Yell directions about hats and jackets at the children while trying to wrestle my shoe off the dog.

Hop one footed to the kitchen, channeling the vibe of a very speedy flamingo. Check the microwave clock (5 mins slow). Ah ha! I am a Time Lord! I suspected as much. Somehow I have jumped through a portal in the hallway and gained eight minutes. Put together a snack and pack our bags as quickly as a snail stuck in treacle.

Then check my watch... and run to playschool.

I need to standardise my clocks. But hey, who has the time? (*Boom tish*)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Help wanted

I love my neigbourhood. I feel so lucky to live where I do.

I visited a friend for dinner. It was so impromptu that I wore my ugg boots over there, classy lady that I am (but if you can't wear them to walk around the corner on a cold night, where can you? The privacy of ones own home? Pffft. Just call me trailer trash Betty.)

But it's not the close proximity of my friend's house that got me thinking about the positives of my neighbourhood. It was the fact that the street light was out in the lane that links our houses. This is highly unusual - I live in a Defence enclave and the infrastructure is usually well maintained. As I approached the lane, a women walking unaccompanied, in unsuitable shoes, and with two very young children in tow, I felt a shiver of uncertainty cross my mind.

Was the light out on purpose?

Was it a foolish idea to enter?

I looked at the houses on either side of the lane. Their lights were on, people were home.

But if I needed them, would they come when I called?

I remembered an article written by Sam de Brito about a respectable woman, well known in her neighborhood, who was the victim of a home invasion and ran to her neighbors (in her underwear) to try and summon help. The neighbors (two sets!) turned off the lights and refused to let her in the door.

Would that happen to me?

Then I remembered another story, told to me by a good friend Annie. She and her boyfriend, both Defence members, were walking through a large shop when they heard a commotion a few aisles away. They ran straight over. No hesitation. A man had suffered a heart attack and there was quite a crowd gathering. But no one was helping. Not one person had stepped forwards. Annie's boyfriend pushed through the milling hoards and started resuscitating the fallen man, while Annie called the ambulance and ran crowd control. God knows what would have happened if they hadn't been there that day. Perhaps the inertia of the other indecisive shoppers could have cost a man his life.

And I remembered another time while I was at the pool, and I heard a dad calling for help - his daughter was choking. I found myself running to him well before my brain was in gear. I left my own child to care for his. That shocked me, afterwards.

There are many similar stories among my serving friends, where a swift and decisive reaction to trouble has been ingrained, instinctive.

And I came to a conclusion - that kind of response has either been successfully trained into serving members as a result of their profession, and perhaps also it is the type of career that attracts people with those attributes. I suspect it rubs off on the people around them, too.

So I stepped with confidence down the dark lane, surrounded by Defence houses, comfortable that if I needed help, then help would come.

I love my neighbourhood.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mrs Accident is a crafty minx

Peanut has decided she is ravenously hungry today. So, instead of my usual wordy post, I am going to give you a tour of our arts and craft centre. That way, when I jump up every three seconds to make her yet another sandwich, I won't have a complicated train of thought to derail.

To make it interesting for those less kid-craft-inclined, I'll insert the content of Peanut's snack breaks at the intervals they interrupt me trying to write. Cause that will be sure to keep you reading...

First up, lets talk location. Banana.

Our craft table is on tiles, and close to the kitchen. This makes clean up wayheyhey easier. Craft and carpet don't mix. (Unless your craft is carpet weaving.)

We have a kid sized table that can be wiped clean, and four kid sized chairs. Bug can use them comfortably already, and I can still sit on them too. They're just the right size. For women. Mr Accident looks like he's Gulliver on a good day.

In the photo up there you can also see a wipe-able, splash proof picture I have stuck to the wall by the table. It's saved our wall from sticky fingers and flung paint many times over.

Now, onto the contents of our shelves.

When it comes to art supplies, I like to give the girls the real deal. Glue that actually sticks, real oil pastels, proper water colour paint. I also give Peanut real scissors, mandarin, but I keep them up out of Bug's reach.  

Here's our paint stash. I normally keep it in one of Mr Accident's old protein buckets (man drinks a lot of protein) but I took them out today to show you. We have poster paint and finger paint. I always buy the biggest bottles I can find.

The girls love this shelf. Cotton balls, match sticks, foam shapes, patty cases, paddle pop sticks, feathers, pompoms and beans. Some of the containers are divided, so we also have googly eyes, glitter and pasta hiding back there. Peanut-butter and sultanas on a big corn cracker, times two.

Our play dough shelf. We're using pink at the moment, you can probably see some caked on the utensils there. I wash the gear when I change the colour, it's a good prompt. 

Chalk, crayons, textas and pencils. Another cracker like before - that makes three! I'm going broke here, people. Our pencils and textas are well used, and as a result they have been decimated by Panzer. Seriously, that dog has chewed one in ten. It's impossible to expect Bug to keep them all on the table, but every one that falls to the floor is cactus. You can see a lidless marker in the box there. I HATE LIDLESS MARKERS. I can feel an eye twitch developing...

Our nature shelf. There is normally a magnifying glass here too, but I have no idea where it's gone. Perhaps off studying nature on its own. Maybe on the front lawn. Probably starting fires... I might need to go find it before we have another sunny day.

The little tin boxes hold our seed and nut collection. I try to keep the decayables out, but it's a challenge. Only the vigilant will win! I did find a worm in there one day, that was a treat. Cashews.

Our stamp collection. (The interesting kind, philately was never my thing, although my mother tried to encourage me. I like the messy ones better.) We have big stamps for little hands, littler stamps for the more dexterous, and a random Hello-Kitty-in-a-plane. I have no idea where that one came from. I should check the airport arrivals board. 

Brushes, sponges and other paint smearing utensils. I keep the shaving brushes there for Bug, she finds them easier to manipulate. On the paper, that is, she's too young to shave. 

Apple and a chocolate cookie. Finally, we have the easel. It's a whiteboard on one side, chalk board on the other, and I keep the clips to hang large paper when we head outside and paint "plein air". Ahem. Bug has eaten more chalk than she's even drawn with, and I fear the day we see her on "My Strange Addiction." 

And that concludes today's tour. Thank you for joining us, and I hope to see you next time, when I show you the contents of our bathroom cupboard.


You hope.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pride goeth before the fall

I was a walking proverb this morning.

Or, to be more precise, a tripping one.

I was carrying a large sack of chicken feed through the backyard when it occurred to me that I was quite possibly having my most productive day ever. I started congratulating myself on getting the breakfast dishes and laundry done so blisteringly quickly that I had the time to clean out the chicken house, all before leaving for play school. However, just as my pride was building, along came my fall....


There was a stray bamboo cane on the grass. It clearly had Bad Intentions, as the rest of its well behaved brethren were stacked politely against the fence. As I passed it leapt from the ground and grappled me into submission. My feet and the cane were more twisted than a Stephen King story.

I fell like a slapstick stunt man; juggling the feed, trying not to crush anyone smaller, stumbling and flailing, and eventually landing on my bum in a giant pile of spilled corn and sunflower seeds.

That, of course, brought a pack of (normally docile) slavering chickens and dogs running to gobble the spoils.

Which I was sitting on.

When I finally extricated myself from under a pile of excited animals, I turned to Bug to check she was alright. With the insouciance only a one year old can muster, she pointed to the stunningly evil bamboo cane and said "look Mummy! Stick!"

Yes my dear, I know.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Baby led weaning

I am a huge fan of baby led weaning.

HUGE fan.

I'm pretty sure BLW also stands for Best L-idea W-ever. (The L and W are silent.)

Peanut was a puree eater. And not just any puree - it had to be Rafferty's Garden. She wouldn't touch my homemade slop with a ten foot, plastic handled, easy grip baby spoon. I bought baby-food recipe books. I searched online forums. I even tried to copy the ingredients in the bought stuff. No dice. It was Rafferty's or nothing. I felt like a total failure and, in hindsight, I bred a fussy eater. Even worse, feeding Peanut was costing more than feeding me! (In her defence, that stuff is pretty delicious.)

I'll chew screws, but not your delicious pie. No siree.
I didn't make the same mistake with Bug, she was fed actual solid food from the very beginning. She started by swiping normal vegies off my plate and by six months was in her high chair, munching on the same food as the rest of the family.

Did you know you can pop a whole cob of corn?
The things I learn on twitter...
Yup. My six month old was eating lamb chops. Peas. Grapes. Everything.

But won't she choke?!

Surprisingly, no. She never did. Instead of struggling with a spoon of purée thrust into her mouth, which would encourage her to suck the food straight back into her throat, she had control over the rate and amount of food she ate. There were a couple of incidences of mild gagging, but she was never worried by it - she was just learning how to control the food in her mouth.

A child's hand to mouth coordination and mouthing / swallowing control develop at around six months of age, at around the same time as 'solid' food is normally introduced.  Kids this age are naturally curious and learn by mimicking others, and love to be included in family activities, so baby led weaning made developmental sense to me. As Bug became more competent chewing and swallowing, she naturally ate more food and dropped her milk consumption. In the meantime she was still getting the sustenance she needed from the milk. Perfect!

The biggest advantage of baby led weaning was being able to continue to eat as a family. First time around, I used to feed Peanut her dinner first, then eat after she was in bed. I starved half to death Every Single Night. The other option was trying to feed the baby while eating my own dinner, and that just frustrated both of us. Babies suck at taking turns. But baby led weaning meant Bug sat at the table with the family and her own plate, and I could just leave her to it. Bliss.

Now, if you're going to give this a try, expect mess! As a baby gets more practice she will become neater but the first few months are interesting. Ahem. I was very thankful for a tile floor, two dogs to lick it, and a big plastic bib. Also, make sure to sit the baby up to eat. This will let food that they are struggling with to fall forward from their mouth, lessening the risk of choking.

And now, with Bug at eighteen months, I can happily say that in the great puree vs baby led weaning battle, I'm BLW all the way. The kid's an eating machine. Dominates sushi. Loves a curry. Veggies are eaten by the plateful.

Bug would eat this in an instant...
...and then lick the chopping board.
So how did you / do you / were you fed? Baby led weaning? Puree? Bread and water? Or prechewed  from your mum's mouth, like Alicia Silverstone's baby Bear? Do share....

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Don't Know How She Does It!*

{*"it" clearly being "blatantly blog while the floors are so grubby"}

I have been asked a couple of times about my daily and weekly routines by people who are kind enough to assume I have it "all together". (Stop laughing Mr A, maintain the illusion...) 

Now I could list my day to day doings here and hope you don't fall asleep by the second paragraph (or break in while we're at swimming and steal our six year old tv) but I thought instead I would explain how I developed our routine, as that would probably be more helpful. 

I'm not, however, going to pretend it's foolproof. I still struggle with getting everything done, but I'm the kind of person who prefers to struggle within a defined framework. ;)

Let's jump in, shall we?


First up, work out what you're working with.  

If you have a high intensity baby that only naps 20 minutes a day, or you work all but three hours a week, then that's the grand sum of the time you've got. No point starting in on a housework schedule that doesn't fit your life. If all you can manage is wiping the counters daily and vacuuming once a week, then no point stressing about the window tracks! Do what you can, forget the rest until your situation changes. 

So work out what hours (or minutes!) you have available. You also need to work out what times you have set arrangements, like swimming at ten and dinner at six. Then you know your limitations and can work within them. 

I am lucky to be a stay at home mum so I have a fair whack of time to play with. Here's how I do it:

We wake in the morning, and then have about two hours before we need to be out the door. Because of organised out-of-home activities (like playschool and swimming) and the unorganised disorganised unscheduled activities like painting and gardening that we do at home, we are busy for the rest of the morning until we eat lunch (usually with Mr A) at 12:30. 

Then the girls nap for two hours from 1pm until about 3pm, and dinner prep starts at 5:30pm, we eat at 6pm, and then it's dinner clean up, bath and bed for the girls. I knock off at about 8pm, because I flat out refuse to do housework at night. 

To keep track, I draw all the information on a military-inspired timeline, like this:

{Just to make it perfectly clear: this is just an example. I DON'T actually wake up at 4am. Ever. EVER!}

So that gives me two hours in the morning, two hours kid-free in the afternoon, then about two and a half hours after nap time: six and a half hours total. Because I'm not a masochist, I don't use all these for housework! I read somewhere that housework should take about 15 minutes per household member per day, and I think this is about right, if you count housework-done-with-small-children-underfoot as taking twice the time, and a new puppy as three people. 


Next step - work out what jobs you need done, starting with the necessities and working down to the less-than-vital. These will fall into weekly and daily tasks. Here are a couple of my examples:

  • Shower
  • Dress children
  • Laundry
  • Feed chickens
  • Make bread

  • Grocery shop
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Change sheets
Some of these daily tasks fall into obvious locations on your schedule. Write them in first. 

Then fit the rest of your daily jobs in the gaps.

Make sure to fit in the other things that are important to you, too!

Now to the weekly jobs. 

I write the days of the week in a row, then write the set activities we have to attend underneath them (like play group or science time.) This gives me an idea of how busy we are on any given day. 

Now, some of your "to do list" chores will have obvious days they need to be done, like putting the bins out on a Wednesday. Write these chores in next. 

Others tasks can be done any time. Some will take a lot of time and energy, some will be quick and easy. Pick times during your week where your time and energy matches the task. Don't expect to find the motivation to deep clean the kitchen when you're rushed or exhausted! This will take a bit of thought and probably some trial and error, but eventually you will find a workable fit of jobs to days. 

For example, I pay the bills on Friday, a day when we are quite busy and sitting still for 15 minutes is very welcome. I grocery shop on Mondays when I have only one child in tow, and I change the sheets on a Thursday when I have the time to do a extra load of washing. 

Because my days are all very similar I can schedule in a set time on my daily time line for weekly tasks, but if you have variable days you can obviously use any suitable time you have. 

I write all this info out on a whiteboard that lives near our kitchen. Having in in a central location, where I see it all day, keeps me on track.

It looks a bit like this:

I haven't included everything on my list in this example. Not even close! I change and add to the list regularly - I'm always having earth shattering realisations that I haven't cleaned the skirting boards in a year and a half, and I should probably stick that on the list too...

I also include the children's activities on my real board, as well as any craft or lessons I want to get done with the girls that week. It's my brain. In erasable marker. (Did I mention hanging it out of the way of small kids? Do.)  

You will also notice I included a "monthly tasks" line on Fridays. That's for things like washing the dog or the windows, sweeping the back path and other stuff that isn't weekly but does warrant doing occasionally. I keep that list in a notebook and tick them off as I go.

One nice thing about having designated days for specific tasks is that if I notice the bathroom is a bit grubby on a non-bathroom-cleaning day, I give myself leave to ignore the grime, knowing it will get cleaned soon enough. Because if I cleaned the bathroom today, then the sheets wouldn't get done, starting a horrendous domino effect of undone chores... egads! 

So that's how I organise my week. 

I'd love to hear how everyone else runs theirs, I'm still new at this game and I'm sure there are a multitude of different ways to skin this same cat. So please, share away!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mrs Accident is at home

Sometimes an at-home day comes at exactly the right time.

I know we are due for one when I start to feel overwhelmed by the clutter on the kitchen table, the floor is pretending to belong to a mud hut, and we are scraping the bottom of both the biscuit barrel and my patience.

Not my house
Then it's time for a reset. A morning to clean and clear the house and bake, an afternoon to sit quietly with a well earned cup of tea and a fresh, warm biscuit.

Peanut is feeling off colour today. She had a fabulous day yesterday with swimming lessons in the morning then a long play at an adventure playground. (She can do the swinging chain bridge and the flying fox by herself now! Today the swing bridge, tomorrow uni... she's growing up so damn fast.)

But today Peanut woke up cross, picked at her breakfast, and then retired to the couch with a book on tigers. She didn't want her favourite snack, she didn't want to watch tv, and eventually, three hours early, she decided that she should probably take her feverish head back to bed for a nap. Poor kid.

(For the record, Bug seems totally fine. She spent all morning pretending to be a pirate on the dog couch, with Archie as her loyal and sleepy sidekick. He may have known where the treasure was, but he certainly wasn't telling.)

So, without the girls underfoot I have been a cleaning whirlwind. The floors are back to shiny; the clutter banished; the courtyard is swept; and the pot plants, previously considering turning into cactii due to neglect, have been watered. And I won't even begin to gloat about the laundry. Suffice to say it has been well and truly beaten into submission. Of course, I outsourced the beating to the washing machine, for I am a thoroughly modern woman.

I didn't feel modern yesterday, though. Yesterday my neighbour turned up at my door with a bucket of pears that she had just picked. She tipped them into my held-out apron skirt, and in return I gave her six fresh eggs from the Accidental hens. Which she carried home in her apron. A regular 1950's street, we are.

In other news, our bath toys have been secretly breeding. They multiply overnight, then perch around the rim of the tub like lepers at Lourdes, slopping in their own damp puddles. We have many bath toy holders from bath toy sets, but they are all specifically designed to hold exactly two fewer toys than they came with. Frustrating.

But mix an old mandarin bag with a scrap of ugly orange bias and voila: solution.

I should have washed the bias first, though. It came from my grandmother's stash and probably originated sometime before sliced bread. The first time it was wet, orange dye ran into the bath and made the water look like someone had had a not-so-little accident. I jokingly blamed Peanut and she blamed me right back... and I wasn't even in the bath. What did she think I had done? Thankfully the dye is easy to rinse off, so no harm done.

Finally, in this meandering post about nothing in particular, it's time to award comment of the week. 

And our winner?  Sarah from Stitching and Needling. Check out the sidebar to see what made me chuckle. And a big thank you to everyone who comments. I blog for comments, (they are cheaper than peanuts) and get excited every single time I get a new one... so feel free to leave another today! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tiny Tip Tuesday - Accidental Style

Time for another Tiny Tip for the Nature's Nurture blog hop!

And the Accidental tip of the day? OIL.

You may already be using the oil cleansing method for your face, but have you tried oil on the rest of you?  The Greeks and Romans were certainly onto something.

We are heading into winter down here in Australia, and that always causes my skin to dry out faster than a worm in a volcano. I get crispy. Scaly. Flaky. And then I split. It's horrible!

Conventional shop bought moisturizer covers the dryness for an hour or two, but it's a bandaid solution; it doesn't solve my skin issues, just hides them.

But when I hop into a warm shower and rub in a small amount of plain old olive oil? Bliss. The tightness is gone, the skin is supple and protected all day, and best of all, it's so cheap!

So if you need some serious skin protection for a very affordable price - oil up!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When he's away....

I just received a lovely email from a reader (I'm not telling who unless she says I can) about how her husband is away, and wondering how I cope with all Mr A's coming and goings.

I started to reply with an essay, but then I thought other people might be wondering too, and perhaps might find what I was going to say useful. So I'm posting it here, in no particular order:


I have two routines. One for when Mr Accident is away, and one for when he is home.

I used to procrastinate on "his" household jobs, refusing to empty the bins or clean the floor until they were in dire need of attention, then finally doing them with a sooky attitude, a massive grudge against his work, and usually spiced with delightful profanity.

Every time I looked at the filthy floors or almost overflowing bin, (both kind of hard to ignore) I would be reminded about his absence. It wasn't making life happy.

Mr A and Peanut in 2009, just before he deployed for 8 months
But now I have an absent-Mr-A routine that means the chores get done before they really need doing, so it's a quicker and easier job, and I sook less.

Keep busy

Keeping occupied is vital. Find something that excites you and keeps your hands and mind busy. This is why I bought chickens, why I took up knitting, why I made hair clips, why I began to bake bread, and why I started the Saturday playgroup (do I need to go on? I could...)

They are all hobbies that interest me and keep my mind occupied ticking over with plans and improvements, especially during the evening when I would normally be pining for Mr A.

I still have difficulties on the weekend. It tends to drag on horrendously. I try to plan a special event every weekend so I have something to look forward to, even if it's a trip to a new park for a picnic lunch, or a visit to my grandpa for morning tea. When all else fails, I throw myself on the mercy of my friends and beg to come over. Classy.

Look after yourself.

I am a MESS when I don't eat properly. An absolute mess. Almost certifiable. It's easy to let the business of food slide when you're cooking for just one or two (or even three, in my case!) So I make an effort to eat three square, healthy meals a day, and plenty of snacks too. I try to keep that blood sugar stable. Unfortunately this keeps my waist stable too, but thems the breaks.

Exercise is a lifesaver. I'm a big fan of walking. It's cheap and easy to do with young kids, you won't tire yourself out too badly and be incapacitated for the rest of the day (ugh, pump classes), and if you put on a couple of bursts of speed you get a lovely punch of endorphins with your change of scenery.

mmmm, sweaty....
Also, sleep. I find it challenging to sleep when Mr A is away, he is my comforter, and I also struggle to get to bed on time without him. His role in our relationship includes gently prompting me when to go to bed. I am night owl, but the toddlers are certainly not. So I set an alarm to go to bed on my phone, so I have the rest I need to have a clear and coping head the next day.


Keeping Daddy in the mind of the kids, especially when they young, can be very tricky. Before Mr A deployed, when Peanut was four months old, I plied him with wine and had him read her favourite books on video. They are HILARIOUS. Tipsy daddy is even funnier and more witty than sober daddy. We would watch a story together a couple of times a week. Skype is also a winner, if that's available.

Daddy-in-the-computer. Pants optional.
I also printed out a life sized colour photo of Mr A's head, and stuck it on a stick. I made Peanut kiss it good night. (Yep, Peanut-in-ten-years-time, I really did. I promise to help fund your therapy.) I am happy to say she recognized him at the airport, so I count that as a solid win.

Paper daddy, laminated to protect against enthusiastic smooching
I tell the girls plenty of stories about Daddy, we talk about him every day, and keep him in our hearts and minds. I also try and give the girls (Peanut especially, as she's a bit older) the words they need to describe the feelings they have about Mr A leaving and coming back. It helps us understand each other and I can respond to their moods and feelings more effectively. We use words like sad, worried, I miss him, my heart has a hole, confused, lonely, excited, happy, shy and joyful. Not too complex, but Peanut's still only three.

Guard your thoughts

When your other half is away, and you are stuck at home with the daily grind, it's easy to get thinking about what fun they might be having (and with who?) and how tough it all is on you.

Just don't. Don't.

It's your brain, you get to think what you want. Choose to think positive thoughts. Watch positive TV shows. Listen to positive music.

But don't be too hard on yourself if you happen to spend the evening of your first wedding anniversary sobbing in the corner on the kitchen floor. Hey, we've all done it at some time... right?

Find someone to talk to

Having someone to listen makes a big difference. Everyone needs to feel validated - to feel like the things they do actually matter to someone! That's normally a role that a husband would fill, but when he's away it can get difficult to find someone to fill that gap. Suitable friends can be hard to find, (and can get tired of the daily minutiae I would normally foist on my husband!) so a diary or a blog is a good substitute.

When all else fails, I call my mum and make her listen.

I also like having people in the same boat as me. I made one of my best friends when our husbands deployed at the same time, leaving us both home with new babies (hi Kate!) These people don't necessarily need to be geographically co located, just someone who understands what you are on about when you vent. You know, like a random woman on the internet who you can email with questions and receive a whole essay in reply. *ahem*

My lovely corespondent also asked, does it get better? Well, yes and no (helpful, aren't I?)

You get used to it.

But I'm not going to pretend it's easy.

And every deployment is different.

I think everyone just does the best they can on the day they have, and then wakes up and does it all again tomorrow.

And now, finally, I am going to direct you over to my friend Posie's blog, to read her lovely posts about her husband coming home. Because every cloud has a silver lining!

Has anyone had to cope with an occasionally absent husband? Especially one who is gone for long periods? If I've missed any advice, share it below...

Monday, May 21, 2012

The one where I do a million tiny stitches on fiddly felt

I am a miser.

A penny pincher.

A mean mum who doesn't buy fripperies for her daughters...

...but I do like to make them.

I spent my Sunday Switch Off making hair clips for the girls.

I had loads of felt in my stash, left over from random Halloween costumes and similar important constructions. Some was floppy, mostly it was stiff, there was plenty of pink, with purple and lashings of white. (Is it just me, or does that last sentence look dirty? Mr A has been away too long...)

I googled and Pinterested for inspiration, then let my scissors do the talking.

I'm not very happy with the mushroom, but I love the flowers and I think the owl is nice*. It looks better in real life - especially when attached to a moving child. This photo is kind of...close.

(*If I say so myself. I always have such low expectations of the things I create, I'm always pleasantly surprised when they look even vaguely presentable.)

I experimented with different ways to attach the clips and I like the owl way best, but the other methods work pretty well too.

Stitched on with embroidery thread

Double layer of felt, encasing the clip, stitched around the outside.

Ribbon sewn on the back, then the clip stitched on too.

The girls love them, Peanut is wearing one today, and Bug strokes them and says "Ooooh, pretty. Pretty hair." (I may have coached her.)

These suckers seem to retail at about $5, so I'm pretty happy to have made them myself for far cheaper, and Peanut loves that she can order whatever shape she wants! Now, off to try and make a dinosaur... wish me luck!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fancy Pants

My friend Sarah (long time IRL friend, short time Accidental blog discoverer) posted today on people who dress their toddlers in silk.

And that got me thinking...

I took the girls to a concert this morning.

Not as flash as it sounds - Peanut was going with her playschool anyway, so Bug and I tagged along since it was held in the brass band hut on the corner of our street. I'm all about convenience.

Straight afterwards we headed back to the girls' playschool and playgroup. I had dressed the kids in their normal play clothes, which in this weather is usually tracksuit pants and some layered t-shirts, under a jumper or jacket.

Now, let me be perfectly honest. These clothes have a patina of wear. Which is a nice way to say the odd stain or rub mark. Not huge ones - just a stray grass mark on the knees, or a bit of discoloration on the neck of a t-shirt that has seen one too many dribbled apples (I'm looking at you, Bug).

I don't mind this at all. The kids don't look shabby, just (in my view) appropriately dressed for the activities they do. Activities like painting with stainy paint, or running and skidding on their knees in the black-rubber-topped play ground. Activities like "being kids".

When they wear clothes that are cheap and easily replaceable I can let them be as active and messy as they choose. They are happy doing what they please, and I am happy that I don't need to nag them about keeping clean. (Although I do wish Peanut would stop wiping her fingers on her shirt. I'm not *made* of laundry powder, I *make* laundry powder. There's a difference!)

So, back to the story... At the concert there was a sweet little girl who was dressed in a grey woolen smock dress, red stockings and shiny black patent leather shoes. She looked adorable, and her mother was understandably very proud of what she was wearing. Unfortunately, the mum was so proud she would barely let the kid move. While the other children were dancing (and Bug was dancing so hard she fell over, then kept right on grooving, while lying on the floor) this poor girl was made to dance right beside her mum, and asked to calm down if she got too excited so she wouldn't scratch her fancy shoes.

Now, I have no idea if the mum was about to head off somewhere more important for the day, and just brought the girl to the concert as a pleasant diversion on the way. (but I suspect not, as Mum was still in her Uggs... but maybe she was dropping her daughter somewhere? I'm not sure.) But I think the mum probably dressed the kid up in her best duds to show her off a bit. And that's fine, it's something I'm equally guilty of on numerous occasions.

Still, I was glad I saw that mum and her daughter today, because it reminded me that young children in general don't care about fancy clothes and all that goes with it, except when it interrupts their essential job of being a kid. (With the notable exception of dress-ups, of course.)

Peanut and Bug are happier and more comfortable in their play clothes, and they arguably learn and experience more too, since they have greater freedom of action.

I know the day may come when the girls prefer to sit pretty dresses rather than play soccer in the playground (not that it ever came for me!) but today was a reminder for me that I should probably (where possible*) try to match their clothing with their world view, instead of inflicting my own agenda. And hopefully, dressing them in practical clothes will lead them to learning practical skills and being practical people.

So, dear readers, what are your views on play clothes? Am I out of line dressing my girls mainly in shabby-not-so-chic? Will my cunning plan backfire?

*I do retain complete veto power for Important Occasions... and the right to declare an Important Occasion at will. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I have dags.

They flap round my bum and annoy me.

Dags, of course, being my patented Dogs Affirmative Guidance Sacks.

I had had enough of Panzer. She was running rampant.

Messing everywhere, making my floors into a minefield. Chewing things she shouldn't. And, far far worse, jumping up and snapping at the children. They were terrified. 

I had two little girls who would cry whenever she came near, yesterday Peanut wet her pants because she didn't want to leave the safety of the couch to run to the toilet, and Bug was constantly being pushed over and dominated. I blocked off the playroom as a Panzer-free safe zone, but it didn't solve the basic problem. 

Pan was a menace, and it had to stop. 

Of course, none of this was actually Panzer's fault. She needed guidance and leadership, and someone to teach her how to behave. Ideally Mr Accident would do the training (she is his puppy, after all) but he is away again, so it's all up to me. 

I gave myself a pep-talk while I was putting Bug down for her midday sleep (ok, in the interest of full disclosure, there may have been slightly less pep and slightly more self-pitying sobbing, but the outcome was the same.) Something had to change, and clearly, since the dog wasn't leaving, that something had to be me. 

While the girls were napping, I dug into my fabric off cuts and made up two little sacks.

They are just basic square bags with enough elastic around the top to hold the treats in but still allow me quick one-handed access. I filled them with the dogs' normal dinner biscuits. I had to make two so Archie wouldn't feel left out, he can't eat Pan's food because of his pancreatitis.

Then I just stitched a ribbon onto the hem so I could attach them to a carabiner...

...and hang them off my belt loops or my apron ties.

Voila! DAGS! 

And yes, they do look very daggy indeed, but they are not as bad as owning a feral dog.

Since I started using them at about 3pm yesterday, I have had two incredibly attentive dogs, Pan had only messed inside twice (while the girls were in the bath and getting put to bed - not much I could do!) and best of all... *drumroll please*... she has stopped jumping on the kids, because when she sits as they come near her, she gets a reward. WIN!

HUGE thanks to everyone who gave me advice and encouragement in yesterday's post. I needed it! You are all my village. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Our bin is biohazardous.

I very glad our garbage truck is automated or else, like Hyacinth Bucket ("it's pronounced bouquet") I would be ashamed to own our rubbish.

Mr A left again on Monday for another short stint away (not "away" away, just out of state). Peanut took it hard. She worked herself into a tremedous state at dinner, after a tiring day of play school and quite possibly with a cheeky stomach bug on the side.

It ended with an epic projectile vomit from my lap. While it mostly missed me, the vertical blinds were not so fortunate. And it just kept coming. It was like that scene from Team America, crossed with the Exorcist.

Poor Peanut. Poor bin.

Panzer has decided the world is her toilet. Except the outside bit of the world - that's too cold. I send her outside regularly (in a doggy coat!) but she spends the whole time trying to get back in rather than getting about her business.

So, since the outside part of her world won't do, that leaves my floor.... I have put down paper and tried to train her onto it, but she is a sneaky leaker and is very hard to catch in the act. I usually find her puddles in the dark with my feet.

Poor feet. Poor bin.

Panzer is also an incorrigible chewer. This was totally expected and she is well supplied with toys (Mr A spoils her rotten!) but it doesn't seem to help. She prefers the lure of the forbidden. Including shoes, pencils, my iPad case, my phone, books, chair legs.... *sigh*

Her greatest act of rebellion occurred this morning, when she thoroughly ripped up her completely unsullied wee-paper then shat in the middle of the kitchen. (At least it wasn't a big steamer on a library book, like last week.)

Poor floor. Poor bin.

I need to take out shares in the paper towel industry.

And possibly buy apology flowers for the bin man.

I do know I need more newspaper.

Off to the shops!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hairy Bread

On my bread improver post the other day, Garcott made mention of some of the questionable  ingredients in the improver. Here's some of what she said:

"I have been reading about the stuff that bread improvers are made from - including chicken feathers and pig intestine!"

I was intrigued, so I looked into it further...

The ingredient she's concerned about is E920, or L-cysteine. It can also be made from human hair (soylent green IS people!) Manufacture of E920 from human hair apparently only occurs in china, but then it can be exported, of course. Human hair derived E920 is banned in Europe, I'm not sure about Australia. 

Other options for manufacturing E920, besides those mentioned by Gartcott, include using pig bristles or duck feathers. 

Now, "Nose to Tail" eating is an excellent concept, but not one I manage very often in my own kitchen. The idea of pig snout for breaky quite honestly turns my stomach. So, if industry can use the left overs that I don't want, that's excellent. Good job, industry! 

As for the human hair... Well, I was initially repulsed by the idea of this, but then I got to thinking. The humans aren't slaughtered for their hair, or kept in feedlots, and it's probably providing a source of income to people who really need it. The hair is so highly processed that any bugs or nasties would be totally removed. (Unlike my hair I found in my veggies the other day - yuck!) So, in other words, it's actually pretty ethical and not as gross as it initially sounds. 

Ok, lets move on from the squeamish bits. There has been a bit of concern on le Internetz that E920 is not listed on some ingredient lists even when it is used. That may be true for bread that is bought already baked, because the E920 is broken down in the baking process so isn't actually present in the final product, and some manufacturers use this as a loophole. However, it would be present in its initial form in the bread improver so should be listed on the ingredients panel if it's included. It's NOT listed as an ingredient in Wallaby Bread Improver. 

However, to find out the full scoop, I rang Laucke Flour, the manufacturers of Wallaby Bread Improver.

(Yep, I'm now officially one of *those* people. Did I ever mention one of my friends rang Arnotts to find out the correct pronunciation of "Nice" biscuits? It was to settle a long term argument. He couldn't find anyone at Arnotts who could tell him, so the debate continues. It's been ten years and counting! Anyway, segway complete, back to the story.... where were we? Oh yes, I rang Lauke.)

I wanted to find out if they did somehow sneak in E920, and if so, its source.  And their answer? They don't use it. At all. Not in the manufacture of their Improver, and not in the final product. Apparently, its use is becoming increasingly uncommon, as it has fallen out of favour over the last decade or so.

So, even though E920 (from either animals or human hair) might be ok in my book, it's not in my bread regardless. 

But I can't guarantee the same for shop bought bread....

Hair sandwiches, anyone? ;)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sharing the love

Apparently I'm a "Kreative Blogger". As a firm opponent to kreatively sppeld wurds (and names!) I'm kind of hoping this award is not a comment on my spelin skilz! I received the award from the very lovely Sarah at Nature's Nurture, and I'm honoured, and very chuffed. I love that people like to read what I write!

So, the rules...  Share seven things about myself, and nominate seven other blogs.

Seven things about me? I suppose after skipping out on the 100th post list, I can manage seven here:

1) I am an only child. This makes me feel hopelessly under-prepared to parent siblings. I make up for it by reading copious how-to books, then disregarding 90% of the advice. So far, this approach is working.

Phone cameras. Blurring priceless moments since 1997
2) I like to walk up hills for exercise. I then take photos of the kids sitting up the top of the hill and send them to Mr Accident so he can complement me on my hard work, but so I don't look like I'm bragging. He sees straight though me. 

3) I think my fish is bored. I'm very glad that my work here at home is so relaxed that I have the excess mental capacity to worry about such trivial matters. (Not that this matter is trivial to Mr Fish.) I would buy him another friend but he kills them off. Perhaps he is a fish psychopath, and I should worry about that instead.

4) I occasionally wear "tummy trimmer" jeans. They do NOT trim my tummy - they just push it three inches higher. It looks weird. But at least my bum doesn't sneak out the back when I bend over, like it tries to in normal height pants. I'm undecided which is the lesser of the two evils.

5) I used to be a Brownie, then a Guide and Venturer. It was the highlight of my childhood. I hope my girls will want to join too. I swapped from Guides to Scouts at 14 because Ranger Guides looked lame. They were singing round campfires while the Venturers were paint balling. Also, boys. Boys!

6) Panzer ate all the flowers in my courtyard and shat on a library book, and the chickens scratched under the fence and escaped to next door. Animal husbandry makes me swear with quiet enthusiasm.

7) Once I was calling drill on a parade, and the SAS Major sitting behind my mum said "wow, that chick's got serious balls." I don't think I've ever seen my mum more proud. I'm still not sure if he considered it ballsy for a "chick" to try and call drill, or if I was doing a good job. I choose to believe the latter...

And seven worthy bloggers, all chosen from my followers so I can share the love:

1) Keifer Cottage - She describes herself as "A brilliant, beautiful, and talented woman, blessed with a good-looking, hard-working, yet tragically simple husband, raising the fruit of her fertile loins while desperately striving to transform a 1940's bungalow into her dream home." She makes me giggle.

2) Michelle Gills  - I'm not religious, but I do enjoy reading what she has to say.

3) Haak-en-stekie - Stel's a South African crafter, who kindly writes her whole blog bilingually. I love reading about people living similar lives in other countries. It makes me feel very connected.

4) Mealy and I - my IRL friend Kylie. Her knitting is incredible! She inspires me.

5) Living the Gentle Life - I want her gumboots! I have serious gumboots envy this winter. Plain black just isn't doing it for me.

6) Imogen Eve - Flowers, books, babies.... lovely.

7) Out Back - Tania's photos of her outback home bring back my long buried childhood memories. Saltbush, spinifex... and epic burns!

Congratulations, Kreative Bloggers. Now share the love by linking back here, sharing seven facts about you, and picking out seven other people. I look forward to seeing who you chose!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Play dough

A couple of you were wondering about my play dough recipe.

It is very easy to make and has a lovely texture, and keeps well if it is in a sealed plastic bag away from the air. We have kept some in our fridge for over a year! Of course, now I find the colours get mushed together way before the play dough gets old...

That's a dinosaur wearing a playdough coat, obviously.

Here is the recipe:

Mrs Accident's Playdough

2 cups plain flour
4 tablespoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons cooking oil
1 cup salt
2 cups boiling water
Food colouring

Dissolve the salt in the water, add food colouring and oil. Add to the dry ingredients and stir. That's it!

Some notes...

Adding the food colouring to the water before putting it in the flour means even colour distribution right from the start, so faster kneading, and less chance of coloured hands. If the water is the right colour, the end product will be too.

Of course, if you use a mixer (like my much adored Kitchenaid) it's even easier, but it doesn't take long by hand either. Do be careful when you first knead the mix though! It is very very hot! Boiling water will do that ;)

If you have a great play dough recipe, feel free to whack it in the comments, I'm always up for trying something new. (Well, you know, something new like a new playdough recipe. I'm not quite up for polygamy or fried worms. Thought that might need some clarification.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tiny Tip Tuesday - Accidental Style

My friend Sarah over at Nature's Nurture (she of the sixty five THOUSAND repins on Pinterest. Yup, her tips are That Good) has started a new Blog Hop called Tiny Tip Tuesday.  (I knew her before she was famous. About three days before, anyway...)

I shudder to think of my tip being added to the likes of hers, but I'll give it a crack anyway. No point quitting before you've failed, right?

So, Mrs Accident's hot tip of the week?

Wash up less.

Well, use less washing up water, anyway.

Try filling the sink up only halfway. Or, if you have a dual sink and wash in the big side, switch to the small. If you already wash in the small sink (go you!) then try using a smaller container to hold the water and sit it in the sink.


To save water (especially here in Australia), to use less detergent, and to spend less on hot water. (Do you refill the kettle while you wait for the hot water to come through? Give it a try.)

Having a half full sink also helps those of us who are slightly less coordinated and tend to splash water everywhere - since I started washing in less water my clothes have stayed 87%* drier!

*Totally unsubstantiated. But much drier, regardless. 

If you have a Tiny Tip, head on over to Nature's Nurture and link on up. I'm looking forward to reading everyone's good ideas!

Bread: improved

I was strolling through the supermarket, with only 50% of my children, so arguably 200% more time.

A small packet in the flour aisle caught my eye...

Bread improver, hey?

It was cheap. I had nothing (except my still-slightly-cakey loaves) to lose. I bought it. Whoo! The excitement! I can just hear you clutching your seat from here!

But my goodness, did it ever live up to its name. (The improvement bit, unfortunately not the wallaby bit. That would have been nice.)

Using the recipe on the packet

Check. It. Out!

Soft, fluffy, not-in-the-slightest-bit-cakey bread! I was so excited. There may have even been a bout of kitchen dancing.

Ok, there was definitely kitchen dancing.

My bread is now shop quality. It's lost it's home-made feel. I'm quite happy about this, I was brought up on shop bread and I do like it. Mr A was very happy with my old "damper bread", but he's not complaining about this either. It's a solid improvement. Ahem.

The cost for the bread improver is 14c per loaf, which seriously increases the cost-per-unit, but since a loaf of the comparable pre-made bread we used to buy costs $6.29 (!) it's still a considerable saving.

Also, the wallaby is cute. It's the little things in life.

So, my dear internet friends, are you using bread improver too? Was I just really late to the party? And, more importantly, is there some other magic powder out there that I have overlooked? A special powder that cooks dinner for me? A vacuuming powder? Hit me with it! I need to know.

{By the way, this post wasn't sponsored or paid or anything. I'm just seriously digging this discovery and thought you might like to know too.

Also, Katherine? You won comment of the week! Have a look in my side bar to see what it was that made me laugh...}

Monday, May 7, 2012

Welcome Panzer!

Oh hai!

My name is Panzer.

Or Pansy.

Or Pan.

Or poppet or puppy or pupples...

I'm not sure, actually. It's a bit confusing.

(Mum calls me a one pound puppy in two pounds worth of skin. I think she's teasing.) 

But I do like my new house...

...and my new garden...

...and my new people! 

And my people adore me. 

They give me snuggles. I need them. Right now the world is big and scary. 

My big, tough husband with his big, tough bulldog. And a quilt.

Also, tiles. Tiles are big and scary. 

And don't get me started on chickens!

But soon, I'll be big and scary too.

30 solid kilos of big and scary.

Watch out, world!