Thanks for stopping by. Mummy Mayhem is no longer updated. I now have a new, albeit smaller blog over at www.jodieansted.blogspot.com.au.

Drop by anytime. :)


Monday, January 31, 2011

Meet My Friend: Elizabeth - Chasing Her Dream

Another Perfect Day
Meet one of my friends.

This year, I thought I'd introduce you to some of my friends. Everyone has a story, and many of my friends have some interesting ones and/or experiences to share. Some of my friends will guest post. Some I'll write about (with their permission of course).

Today, I want to tell you about Elizabeth - or Liz - as she's known to many.

I've known Liz since our eldest son's went to daycare together. Many years. Although, to tell you the truth, I've only really gotten to know Liz better in the last couple of years. Our boys attend school together.

Liz and I have one thing in particular in common in that we both rediscovered a little late in our lives a passion for creativity. For me, it was writing. (I used to love writing short stories in primary school and high school, but never wrote another thing until I started writing in the school newsletter on behalf of the P&F a couple of years ago, which eventually led me to blogging here.)

Two White Birds at Night
For Liz it was painting.

When she was 6, Liz won a whopping 50 cents in a Sun Herald "Paint a Poster" competition. So it may come as a surprise to you that she never thought about pursuing her art until many, many years later.

In 2008, Liz couldn't decide what to give her husband for his birthday. She suddenly thought she could have a go at producing a painting as a surprise for him, and he loved it! She did the same for her father's birthday, and he encouraged her to continue with her art.

Her family is an artistic one: her brother being a well-known northern beaches artist here in Sydney, and her parents both artistic themselves. After that first painting in 2008, Liz started reading art books and studying other artist's works and eventually, she realised she had found her 'thing'.

But she was very quiet about her talent, I have to say. In June 2009, I was chatting to Liz after school one day and I asked what she was up to that weekend. She said, "Well, I'm embarrassed to tell you to be honest, but I'm actually having an art exhibition, with a group of other artists, on Sunday." I had NO IDEA Liz could paint.

I turned up to the exhibition, not quite knowing what to expect to be honest, and quickly found her stall. I was completely gobsmacked by her pieces. I got there maybe an hour after it had opened - perhaps even less - and Liz had already sold six paintings by then. Six! She then sold another three that day, and received four commissions. Pretty good for her first exhibit, huh? Since then she's gone on to sell around 45 paintings. She has been one busy chooky!

But here's the reason I really wanted to tell you about Liz today. Liz is actually holding her first solo exhibition from the 1 February through to the 25 February. If you have some spare time, and you're perhaps in the market to buy something (prices range from $200 to $750 per painting) to complete that wall at home, why don't you go and take a look? (I own one of Liz's paintings myself. I think her work is AMAZING! ) Here are just some of the pieces...

Ladies in Red on the Lounge

Blue Green Abstract

Naive Family Commission 2

Fields of Gold

Urban Landscape

Here are the details for Liz's exhibition:

Where: Lane Cove Music and Cultural Centre
              266 Longueville Road, Lane Cove
When:  1 February through to 25 February
              on  Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays
Time:   10 am to 4pm

To make an appointment outside these times, call the centre on (02) 9427 8027. 

You can check out more of Liz's paintings on her Fine Arts America website here, but also note that Liz has some new pieces that will be unveiled at the exhibition! I'll definitely be stopping by!

Thanks Liz for letting me write this post. I believe wholeheartedly in your work, and I wish every success for you.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Dance of Revenge - Chapter Nine

I'd like to welcome all my new followers here since last week. Hello! Lovely to have you here. :) 

If you haven't had time to look around (and please do) then you may not yet be aware of my weekly Sunday post: The Dance of Revenge.

Dance is the story of Sherrie Dolty - a young, french, ballet dancer whose mother has married a man Sherrie despises. After an horrific accident, Sherrie finds herself separated from her mother and it's here we pick up the story. (You can read all the chapters so far by scrolling down the RHS of my homepage, looking for the pink ballet slippers, and clicking on the links underneath.)

Oh, I should most DEFINITELY tell you that I wrote this book when I was 14. Yes. About 26 years ago. I've dusted it off and posted it here for your reading pleasure. And for fun. You see, my writing back then was still...developing shall we say?

Here we are at Chapter Nine. Last week, Adam went home to tell his new wife the news: that he couldn't find her beloved daughter, Sherrie after the train derailment. Of course, this was a lie, as Adam had attempted to cover up the truth of Sherrie's survival so that he could finally be rid of his financial strain. There were many 'pokers' involved in last week's chapter. You'll just have to go back and read if you want to know what the hell I'm talking about.

In this week's chapter, we find out if Sherrie has woken since her ordeal, and if she recalls who she is....

As always, my comments will be written in [red in square brackets like this]. Enjoy...

Chapter Nine

THE cold sheets that lay beneath Sherrie's body helped soothe the soreness a little. Sherrie lay with her eyes closed as she could not open them. She didn't know why, but they just wouldn't part. Where was she anyway? What had happened? And then she remembered. The accident on the train. What had happened again?

Footsteps came towards her and she clenched her fists in fright. Then she heard hushed voices. 

"How is she doing, nurse?" Sherrie decided it was an English or Australian voice. 

"Very well, doctor. I think she has come out of her coma." [I'm pretty sure they'd be able to tell this by Sherrie's fist clenching etc, non?] This time it was a french nurse who was probably young and pretty. [Cliches would say so.] She was in a hospital. Where was her mother? She could not speak, either. [I think I meant that 'Sherrie' could not speak. Not her mother.]

"Doctor Wilder? Where is her mother and father? She's been here a week now. Where are they?"

"Well, Miss Shonti, I heard that no one claimed her. But we can't say who because her face is completely ruined and you can't tell much from her body either [I'm not quite sure what I meant when I wrote that], and there were others who haven't been found yet and also others that have been...well, abandoned, I guess." [Seriously, what's the chances of more than one person abandoning their loved ones in a train derailment?]

Sherrie couldn't hear much of the conversation, but she caught enough to know that her mother and Mr Brair had not collected her. They would have known by her ring. Sherrie's heart stopped. Where was her ring? She could not feel it. It had to be there. There's no way it could have fallen off. Her heart ached. They had probably took it. [I think I meant 'taken', don't you?] Her mother and Mr Brair. There was financial difficulty, of course, and they would save money not paying for her funeral or medical treatment! Sherrie's eyes stung with hurt and anger. Then the tears came, hurting her face all the more. [You know, if that doctor and nurse haven't jumped in yet and said something to her, then they are seriously incompetent at their jobs.] And what had they said about her face? RUINED! Her life was over. Now. 

*     *     *     *     *

Doctor Wilder looked at the young girl who sat in the corner. She had come here a month ago. The train accident had left her without the memory of anything. [Probably 'without her memory' would have worked too.] She could not remember her mother or father at all. Now her eyes were open and they were beautiful and brown. Wilder knew that she would have once been beautiful. But now...

Jim Wilder now strode over to the girl and sat beside her. If he could, he'd adopt her. But he had no time for such a girl. Though he wish he had. He'd had a daughter in Australia once, but she had died in a freak accident in a bus. [Ok, then...] That was six years ago, and when it happened he and his wife have moved over to France. She had been french [probably still is] but they had separated and now he didn't know where she was. 

"How're you doing, kiddo?" he asked the girl.

"I'm alright Doctor Wilder," she replied hoarsely. Her speech had only come back three days ago. 

"Come on, kid. You can call me Jim. You hear?" She nodded in agreement. 

"Oui, monsieur." Her hands were still bandaged and so was her face. Except for her eyes. 

"Have you remembered anything about your past yet, kid?" The girl shook her head and Jim sighed. It was so damn frustrating. If she didn't remember in another week, she'd have to be fostered into a family, and he hated doing that to kids if they already had a family. This was worse. She'd never have her normal face back to normal. [Is it normal to use the word 'normal' twice in a sentence like that?] He got up and said a polite goodbye to the girl after asking her if she wanted anything to eat. She had said, "Pas encore." Not yet.[I tell you, that french traveling dictionary thingy I had back then came in REAL handy.]

*     *     *     *     *

Jim sat in his office a week later looking at two of the most richest couples in all of this side of France. Their names were Pierre Silk and Marianna Silk. [Two couples? As in...two husbands and two wives? No? Tsk, tsk.] Both french and they both had a son who was in college in America. [Is it the same son, do you think? Or did they amazingly both have sons that went to school in another country? I don't think we'll ever know...] They had come to foster 'the kid' as she hadn't remembered anything yet. She always seemed quiet and distraught and this worried Jim. But Jim was glad that Mr and Mrs Silk had come to foster the kid, as she would get the best treatment. They had also both agreed to put her in a 'face place' as they called it - so that she could have cosmetic surgery. The kid's first reaction was "The Silks? I'm going to stay with them?" He had told her about the cosmetic surgery and he had thought he'd seen her smile slightly, but he couldn't be sure. [Hey - how come he didn't twig that she knew The Silks? Wouldn't this raise questions about her memory? Once again, I'm pretty sure this doctor is actually dodgy and got his medical degree from a Wheeties packet.] Now he turned to Mr and Mrs Silk. 

"Are you sure you want to do this? It'll cost a lot of money, you know, and the best surgery I know is the one in the capital city of Paris. [Just in case the couple from France were unaware that Paris was the capital...you know?] Are you willing to pay for her flight there and accommodation of six months in the clinic? Plus the cost of surgery, food etc..." Both had smiled and Madame Silk had given a quick, "Oui!" So it was done. The papers were signed and the kid was theirs. 

"Come back and see me some time," he demanded to the kid. 

"I will, monsieur. I am even speaking a little Australian now. Such bad habits!" And she had laughed. It was the first time he had heard her laugh. "Goodbye...Jim."

"See-ya, kid." As he watched her walk out with Mr and Mrs Silk he had tears in his eyes. He hoped to see her again some day. 

*     *     *     *     *

Sherrie's eyes widened in shock when she saw the limousine parked outside the hospital. Madame Silk laughed when she saw her surprise. 

"It is our car, madamemoiselle. Ours." Sherrie looked at her in amazement. 

"You don't mean..."

"Yes. Yours too." With those words, Madame Silk rushed Sherrie in to the car. Sherrie had heard about the Silks when she was ten. They had been in the paper for some reason. Sherrie thought she had done well in the last few weeks faking her amnesia. [Not too difficult when the medical staff are a bunch of dumb-dumbs.] She had thought before about somehow getting her face changed, but when Jim had told her about the Silks, she had been delighted. She wanted revenge on her mother and Mr Brair for what they had done to her. And now she'd get it. 

"Now, ah.." Madame Silk started. "Oh, my. Little madamemoiselle, we must have a name for you. Why don't you choose one?" Sherrie hadn't thought about changing her name before. 

"Choose one? Any one?" Madame Silk nodded. So did Monsieur Silk. Now she remembered a name that has been one of her dance teacher's. 

"Could I have, ah, Louina?" She watched Madame Silk smiled with satisfaction. 

"Louina Silk," she muttered. "Wonderful! What do you think, Pierre?" He nodded, smiling. 

"I like it. It does have a ring to it, doesn't it?" Marianna asked. "Louina Silk. I love it. We'll get it finalised tomorrow before Louina goes to the clinic. Is that alright with you, Louina?" Sherrie smiled. Louina Silk. She liked it herself. 

*     *     *     *     *

Her name was finalised. [Just like that? Wow.] She would now be known as Louina Silk. Louina found it hard to get used to her new name, but she knew that someday she wouldn't even think of being known as Sherrie Dolty. Today was the day that she would go to Paris to the clinic for cosmetic surgery. She couldn't wait, but was a little scared. Maybe one day when she was a famous dancer she would reveal to all that her real name was Sherrie Dolty and not Louina Silk. But there was a problem. If she danced, Doctor Wilder would soon find out who she was as she was the only ballet dancer who was hurt on the train accident. She suspected, anyway. It would not take him too long to find Mr and Mrs Brair. 

Louina had thought of a plan though. For the six months she was at the clinic, she could practice her ballet privately in her room. And then when she got out of the clinic, she could take private lessons with the pocket money Madame Silk said she would give her. Then when she was eighteen, she would be allowed to do as she liked. She could convince Jim and her foster parents that it was her life and she did not want anyone to know about her past. They could not stop her from being Louina instead of Sherrie. 

Madame Silk sat beside Louina on the flight. Already Louina liked her. She was very kind and caring enough to stay with her for the six months she planned to stay in Paris. 

"Madame? Will this cosmetic surgery hurt?" It had been a question that had been bothering Louina more than the question of why her mother had abandoned her. Even though she sort of knew the answer to that. Mr Brair. She still hated him. Even more now. 

"Let us get one thing straight, ma chere. Please call me Marianna, alright? Madame or Madame Silk is too formal." Louina smiled. "Now, about the surgery. In all my honest truth, ma chere, it will hurt at times. Sometimes it may be very painful. I want you to try and be strong. You are already strong. You have proven that by living with us and being strong about not having your real parents with you." Louina frowned a little, but just for a short time so Marianna couldn't have seen it. She hoped she hadn't anyway. 

"Thank you, Ma....Marianna." She smiled at the woman who gently patted her hand. 

Time flew by and it wasn't long until Paris finally came in to view. Louina had never seen it before and she was all wide-eyed at everything she saw. It was purely beautiful. 

Finally the plane landed and Marianna and Louina stepped off the plane with a flourish of delight. Louina wore a large hat so her face could not be seen. She was very embarrassed and felt terrible when children her age looked at her and made horrible faces. [I'm presuming she still has the bandages on though, right? Otherwise, that'd be the fastest healing time in history for the burns that she was supposed to have sustained in the train wreck. In face, the whole recovery process has been super-duper quick, hasn't it?]

It was an hour's drive from the airport to the clinic but Louina didn't mind. She liked looking at all the different places in Paris. The clinic was very private and was supposed to look like a fantasy island, [you have to give me credit for a WILD imagination back then] except it was in the middle of a huge city. [That'd be the 'capital city of Paris'. Just in case you still weren't sure about that.]

When they reached the doors they were welcomed by a lovely plump lady who told them her name was Francine. 

"You call me Frannie. I'm sorry I do not speak English much. You speak french, non?"

"Oui," Louina replied. Frannie smiled joyfully.

"This girl is here to have her face changed. She doesn't know how to have it changed as she doesn't know how it was before. The records will tell you why." Marianna said this all in french. "Her name is Louina Silk." [Oh dear. It's like the woman has walked in to a hair salon and is talking about her latest hair style!]

Louina realised at that moment [that Marianna is a bit ditzy? Don't blame you, Lou], that the remains of Sherrie were soon to be rid of. She would no longer be Sherrie Dolty, but finally she would be Louina Silk. 

Well. Isn't that handy? We had another french lesson today, a history lesson and a lesson in medical terminology! Ahem.

My commenter last week - Mark - was almost spot on (clever you, Mark)! VERY Return to Eden (as I mentioned in my first post on this actually - I was totally influenced by that mini series)! No burlesque dancing though - but I'm now wishing I'd gone with that. Wouldn't it have made a good storyline?!

Stay tuned next week for the next exciting (and no doubt educational) instalment of Dance.


Friday, January 28, 2011

This Week I'm Grateful For...Technology

I'm joining in again this week on Maxabella Loves' weekly grateful post. 

For those of you who have known me for a while, you will know that I've wanted an iPhone for quite some time. Well, I finally bought one just before I headed to Perth at the beginning of the month, and just like my friend, Jen, promised - it has changed my life.

Well, not changed my life per see, but most definitely helped me to get organised.

I'm sure Hubby would confirm that I'm one of those people who thinks they're a lot more organised than what they actually are. I have a diary, but it doesn't always get checked. I constantly forget birthdays, or I remember them, but forget to send a card and/or gift. I've been known to deliver my 6yr old son to school dressed in the wrong uniform because I have completely forgotten that he had an excursion that day.

I mentally write To Do lists, convinced I won't forget the ingredients I've run out of, or to pay that pathology bill that came in the other day. Or was that last week? Last...month? Surely not. Gulp.

Now, with my iPhone, I've got my calendar sorted. My contacts are correct (for the first time in years). I downloaded an application called Errands and I have lists for Food Shopping, Vouchers to Use, Miscellaneous Purchases to make, Stuff to do Around The House and so on.

In my Notes, I write blog ideas (that I usually file in my head, and promptly forget).

I can now access Twitter and Facebook and update both whilst the kids do their activities. (Yippeeeee!)

I can read blog posts and comment on the go. (SO handy.)

I have Password Keeper - so all the passwords I need for my blogging etc I don't have to try and remember anymore. Or search for the paper I wrote them on.

I haven't set up my emails on it yet, but once I do, I think that will be an enormous help. I can check emails when I'm out at my kids' various activities, rather than sit down at home and do it when I could be doing something else. With them.

I'm taking more photos, and capturing moments on video with my kids that previously I haven't bothered to get the camera out for. I can also make them retro looking with Hipstamatic, and 8mm Vintage Camera.

My first ever Hipstamatic shot. Hubby would be proud.

Quite simply, I love it.

So, this week, as shallow as it sounds, I'm grateful for technology. I think this particular piece of technology is going to help relieve some of the stress of every day life.

So long as I can stop playing Cover Orange, that is

Do you have in iPhone? What applications do you suggest are useful?

Hot or Not? Gerard Butler

It's time for some Friday fun...

Each week, I ask if you think a celebrity of my choice is hot, or not?

Last week, Nicolas Cage received a lukewarm response. Whilst he certainly has his fans...Verdict: NOT.

This week's choice I've seen in a few movies and he's one of those celebs that I'm, like, 'sometimes hot, sometimes not'. Call me undecided on this one. (FYI: in these shots...HOT!)

I've never seen The Bounty Hunter, but I'm curious as to whether he and Jen have that on-screen chemistry or not. Anyone seen the film? Is it worth a viewing?

It's on my 'To see' list anyway.

But enough with the jibber-jabber. Why don't you tell me what you think?

Scottish lad, Gerard Butler...hot, or not?

* This weekly post was inspired by Insomniac Mummy's weekly Hot or Not. 

On Mummy Mayhem This Week

What happened on Mummy Mayhem this week?

I feel like I haven't really been in the swing of things on my blog lately. I'm going to blame school holidays, and our trip to Perth causing all sorts of body clock issues. Needless to say, I'm hoping (as I'm sure you are!) that next week I'll be back on track.

This year I'm hoping to have some of my 'IRL' (in real life) friends write some guest posts, or be interviewed by me that I can include here. Many of my friends have had some pretty interesting experiences happen in their lives, and I think you'd love to hear their stories. (So, if you're a friend of mine and you haven't heard from me yet...look out!) I'll be kicking that off on Monday when you can meet my friend, Liz, and find out what talent she discovered in recent years. (You'll be glad to note that glass bottles and/or pom-poms are not involved.)

Ok, so here's what happened since I wrote this weekly post last.

Hot or Not - our weekly Friday fun post - saw Nicolas Cage up for the vote. How did he go, do you think?

I joined in on my first 'This Week I'm Grateful For...' and talked about family and old friends.

This week in The Dance of Revenge, we found out the lengths to which Adam would go to keep Sherrie's fate a secret. We also learnt a lot about 'pokers'. (You'll just have to read to find out what I'm talking about.)

The vlog is BACK. My first for 2011: The Keepsake Box. Do you keep one? What's in yours? I show you some of my stuff, and you just have to read what some people keep. FUN-NY!

I talked about the Back to School Blues this week, and promoted my first GIVEAWAY for the year! WIN one of THREE Pilot Pen Back to School Packs worth $50 each. Entering is as easy as leaving a comment. Good luck. (Will be drawn Sunday night, and winners will be announced on my Noticeboard above on Monday.)

Whilst it won't be a weekly thing, I joined in on Wordless Wednesday this week. I give you proof that the 4ry really is a daredevil.

Yesterday, the day after the Aussie Day celebrations, I found out that kids and alcohol just don't mix. (I'm better now..thank you.)

Are you a follower of my recipe blog? Would love it if you were. Why don't you pop on over there and see:

My Australia Day BBQ Menu Planner - although, you don't have to just enjoy this on Australia Day. Includes the recipes that were posted on Uncle Toby's Facebook page last week. Delish!

I also changed my banner again. A girl is allowed to change her mind, you know. Check out the new caricature that Kim of Flufflepot made for me.

As per usual...Hot or Not will be back later on today.

Happy Friday, people!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kids & Alcohol Just Don't Mix

I'm not a big drinker these days.

In my youth, I would go out drinking with my friends sometimes three times a week. (Probably explains my appalling memory.) I remember turning up to work the day after a big night with a chocolate milk and a sausage roll in hand - my 'recovery snack'. Working with a hangover was hard - but I was in my late teens/early 20s back then and could handle it.

But parenting with a hangover - at the age of 40 - is even worse (even when you're drinking far less than all those years ago).

Which is why I always regret that 'one champagne too many' the next day when I occasionally indulge in more than a few drinks (and I don't usually indulge at all during the week - except for special occasions, of course). When kids scream and you have a pounding headache, it's ten times worse. Perhaps I shouldn't have accepted the margarita Hubby made for me before we left? Hmmm.

I need a lie in and some Q.U.I.E.T. (I'll pop that on the 'never gonna happen' list, shall I?)

My heart thanks my gorgeous friends for hosting a great night last night. My head? Not so much.

Hope you all enjoyed the Aussie Day celebrations. :)


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Proof The 4yr Old is a Daredevil

In case you missed this on Twitter and Facebook the other day. He really is a daredevil

Happy Australia Day, people. And Happy Birthday to my dear friend, Jen. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Back to School Blues - and a GIVEAWAY (to help make them go away)

Do you remember your first day of school for the new year when you were a kid? Remember how it felt?

Remember thinking about what the first day of school might be like? I remember the butterflies I'd get about which class I would be in (I don't recall ever finding out my class list or teacher details prior to the start of the new school year like my kids do).  What teacher  would I have? (I recall the year I got Mrs Lightbody. Lightbody. Isn't that a funny name? Sorry if you're a Lightbody or related to one..but come on! It's FUNNY. Then there was Mrs Chitty. As I'm sure you can imagine, she was either referred to as a car, or the first two letters of her name 'accidentally' got pronounced as 'sh' instead of 'ch'. Poor woman. Then there was Mr Duncan. He was known as 'the sprayer', because whenever he spoke - usually berating us all at the time - he would spit everywhere. Ugh.)

Anyway, not surprisingly, my 8yr old and 6yr old aren't falling all over themselves with excitement about heading back to school. I'm running around them like a regular cheerleader at the moment, saying things like, "Hey. Let's go buy your NEW SCHOOL SHOES! YAY!!!!" and, "Let's go shopping and buy you a new LUNCH BOX! Woo HOOOO!" I'm trying my utmost hardest to get them even the faintest bit excited about Monday.

Last year, on our way down to school on the first day, my 6yr old asked, "How come we have to go to school sooo much?" To which I replied, "Well, to learn. There's a lot to learn, you know." To which my 8yr old son then asked, "Well, why can't we just look up all that stuff on Google?"

An interesting idea. However, that would involve some sort of home schooling on my part I'm sure, and quite frankly, that just 'aint gonna happen.

So right now - just like this time last year - they're not doing cartwheels over the prospect that school starts soon. (I, on the other hand, would definitely attempt one myself if I wasn't already aware what 40-year-old women should not do.)

However, today we have plans that I know will get them a wee bit excited about Monday, because I used to love doing it each year. And they are my children, and even though they may look like clones of their father (two of them do anyway) my genes are in there somewhere, and this is one gene I know has carried through to them from me.

We're buying our school stationery today. Woot!

I've written before about my love of stationery. The start of a new year always holds fond memories of picking out a new pencil case, pens, pencils, erasers, rulers, school books. Doing my stationery shopping distracted me enough from the anxieties that came with the first day of school.

My kids love it too. We head off to our local Officeworks or Kmart and fill our basket with goodies. Then we label it and arrange it in our bags. Good times...

Now, if you have kids that are heading back to school (some have already started, I know), then you might like today's GIVEAWAY.

When PR companies contact me about stuff, I try to pick things that I think my Mummy Mayhem readers will like (I don't accept everything I'm offered) and I have THREE fab-o Back to School Packs (valued at $50 each) - thanks to Pilot Pens - to giveaway to three lucky readers! (It includes Pilot's new pen called the B2P "Bottle to Pen" - the latest addition to the eco-friendly BegreeN range and is the first refillable gel ink pen made from recyclable plastic PET bottles. It even looks like a bottle itself! How cool is that?)

Just leave me a comment below - maybe tell me about one of your teachers as a kid if you like - together with contact details if you can (your Twitter name or email address will do - but don't panic if you can't or don't want to leave those details, just make sure you check back here to see if you've won) and we'll go from there! (Open to Aussie residents only, I'm afraid.) Competition closes Sunday 30 January, 6pm EST. I will contact the winners, but will also announce the winners on Monday morning on my Noticeboard at the top of my homepage. So look out for that. Okely dokely?

Good luck!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vlog #5: The Keepsake Box

It's been a while since my last vlog. Here's my first for 2011!

Do you have a 'Keepsake Box'? You know - something you keep all your special birthday cards, photos, letters, old business cards in?

I was looking through mine yesterday and I found a few things I'd thought I'd share with you. Lucky you!

I also sing a little in this video. Note though, that by using the term 'sing' I'm using it very loosely.

Anyway, hope you enjoy.

Oh, and here's the letter I wrote to my grandmother that I told you about.

The Dance of Revenge - Chapter Eight, Part II

It's Sunday. Time for another instalment of The Dance of Revenge

You may recall last week that Adam and Elizabeth received the news that Sherrie had been on a train that had derailed, and was missing - thought injured or dead. Adam, leaving Elizabeth at home with a friend, had driven to the scene of the accident and eventually located Sherrie's badly burnt body - with the only recognisable feature being her ring - and was about to do something rather despicable in his attempt to hide Sherrie's identity.

Intrigued? Well...don't waste another second. Read on!

As always, my comments to my 14yr old self's writing will be written [in red in brackets like this].

Chapter Eight - Part II

Adam looked again at the ring on Sherrie's finger. He wouldn't have known it was her if he hadn't noticed the ring. If he claimed that none of these girls were Sherrie, then he could say that she must of [have] been swept down the river. Therefore, no more money problems! [Ok, one small problem here. What if Sherrie woke and, like, TOLD people who she was? Did you think of that, Jodie Adam?] He almost shouted for joy as his idea began to look realistic as he slipped the ring from Sherrie's finger. He pushed it in to his pocket and looked one more time at the body of Sherrie. Her face was horribly mutilated and so was her body. [Ok. Obviously I wasn't in to the subtlety of writing such a description of a person's body having sustained injuries from a fire. I'm so sorry. What can I say? I was FOURTEEN!] She was unconscious and Adam could see a bump on the side of her head. He turned away from her body and cringed with horror. She had once been a beautiful girl [like, that morning, Adam], but now all she was was an outcast of pure ugliness. In a way, Adam felt sorry for the girl, but he quickly pushed the thought away. He had no time to feel sorry for someone who could have ruined his financial status. 

In less than five minutes he had found the officer who he had spoken with before. 

"No luck?" the officer asked gently. 

"No. I want a search party for the people who are in the river. Can that be arranged?" Adam asked, shakily. 

"Mr Brair, we're really doing the best we can. [Ok, get ready for a bit of a laugh here. I was going for serious, but...] We already have people scooba diving [as in Scooby Doo?] in the river under way and people using [wait for it] pokers to find any bodies. [Pokers? Obviously I had no idea of the technical term for such instruments. Actually, I still don't, but I'm pretty sure they're not called 'pokers'.] I know this is hard for you [well, I would suspect it would be when you tell people you're using POKERS to find their relatives!], but please, the best thing is to go home and just relax. [Oh, sure. Let's all relax with the knowledge that POKERS are being used to locate our loved ones!] If anything turns up [you mean, using the POKERS, right?] we'll call. Alright?" Adam nodded slowly. 

"Is there anything I can do?" he asked softly.

"Look, Mr Brair, if you want something to do, just go home and relax. We're really busy here. [Nice.] I'm sorry. [You should be.] Really sorry. [I should think so.] I'm sure we'll find your girl." He excused himself in french and then left. 

Adam pretended to look sad as he walked to his car. When he was safely inside, and at least a kilometre away from the site, he let out a whoop of joy and put his foot down on the pedal. 

*     *     *     *     *

Elizabeth heard Adam's car pull in to the driveway and hurried outside to meet him, with Julie at her feet. 

"Adam? Where is she, honey? Is she alright? Where's ma chere?" She collapsed into his arms and he silently stroked her hair. 

"Come on, Liz. Let's go inside and talk." Elizabeth followed and so did Julie. 

"Should I stay?" Julie asked anxiously. Elizabeth didn't want her to stay right now. She needed Adam. 

"No, no Julie," replied Adam. "She'll be alright with me. Thanks." Julie greeted Elizabeth goodbye and said something in french under breath, then left. 

"Liz, I looked everywhere. Bodies were everywhere, but no Sherrie. I'm sorry, Liz, but it looks as though she went into the river. A fisherman found this when he was scooba diving for lost bodies." [Ok, firstly, it's scuba diving. Secondly, why is a 'fisherman' diving for the bodies?!] Elizabeth looked into her husband's hand to see Sherrie's favourite ring that her grandmother had given her. 

"Oh my God," she whispered. "Non, non, non. Non, ma cherie. Oh, Sherrie!" Her crying and screaming filled the empty house. 

"NON! Not ma cherie!" Her screaming could not be stopped by Adam. Finally, he could not control her at all so he slapped her hard across her left cheek. Elizabeth stopped and looked at him. Her mouth was slightly open and a frown traced across her eyes. [Not sure how that works, but anyhoo...] Then she collapsed against his broad shoulders and cryed [there's that old problem with the 'ie' thing again] softly whilst Adam stroked her hair with his hand. He kissed her cheek and every tear that fell from her eyes. Elizabeth was touched by his warmth. He would help her. She knew it. 

"I won't lay down unless you're there, Adam. I need you. Please come lay down with me." And so he did. They did not speak. They did not sleep. Their hands clenched tightly together brought them together for now. 

Well. There you go. The end of Chapter Eight. What a doozy that one was.

Next week, Sherrie wakes to find herself in hospital. Does she recall what happened, where she is and - more importantly - who she is? Find out next week.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

This Week I'm Grateful For...Family & Old Friends

It's time to be grateful.

The very lovely Maxabella of Maxabella Loves hosts a 'This week I'm grateful for...' post each weekend. It's a lovely way to reflect on the week and think about what you're grateful for, because really, you'd be surprised how many wonderful things happen in a week. Even in a terrible, horrible week there's something to be grateful for.

I haven't joined in until now because I always felt I couldn't fit another post in, but I've thought about it, and I decided that it was too important an opportunity to miss to reflect on the good, so here I am. Thanks Bron. xxx

Ok - so this week I'm very grateful for family and old friends, and for being able to spend some time with those that I see so little of because they live all the way across the other side of this expansive country of ours, in Perth.

Going back to see them can be tough (mostly because of the goodbyes), but all in all, I am so grateful that we arrived safely there and I was able to hug my parents again after over a year and a half apart. I also got to spend time with my sister and her husband, and cuddle my newly born great-nephew, as well as help out his mum (my niece) who unfortunately had to attend a funeral on the day I arrived, by looking after him whilst she did (I got lots of cuddles).

I saw my other great-nephew for the first time since he was the same age - now walking around and as cheeky as a monkey - and caught up with his Dad (my nephew).

I had a lovely, relaxing dinner with three old school friends that I miss. They know me so well, and getting together after so long means we have a lot to say! A fun night.

And very importantly, I got to spend some much needed down time with my own family as we lazed by the pool - even for just an hour or two - most days. It was great to see the kids so happy and having so much fun.  

What are you grateful for?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hot or Not? Nicolas Cage

Welcome back to Hot or Not!

A couple of weeks ago, we started the new year with our very first Hot or Not candidate for 2011: Mr Simon Baker. Seems Simon is rather popular with Mummy Mayhem readers. Verdict: HOT.

This week's choice is in celebration of the newly released The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

I have one word for Nicolas Cage: quirky. I very much doubt he's everyone's cuppa tea. Without doubt though, in my mind, he certainly has a presence about him. There are times in this movie when he looks completely HOT doing his stuff. Other times, admittedly, I wondered if he's a bit past the action stuff? At the end of the day though, he was great in the film.

I am certain there are some supporters of Nicolas out there. Take this comment from 'River' on my blog the other day:

River, we have your vote.

Now, how about you? Nicolas Cage...hot, or not?

*This weekly post was inspired by Insomniac Mummy's weekly Hot or Not. 

On Mummy Mayhem This Week

It's back. My weekly wrap up of what you may have missed here - and with a new little pic and everything!

I haven't done my weekly wrap up the last couple of weeks. Actually, I was on holidays for a bit, and last week it didn't seem appropriate, but here it is again. I would just hate to think you missed something here. ;)

So last Sunday we finally saw the return of the book I started writing at age 14 (are you sick of reading that part yet? I just have to keep saying it for the new readers, because I wouldn't want anyone to think I had written it, like, last year or something. Gah!). I'm talking, of course, about The Dance of Revenge. What is our nasty step-daddy, Adam up to now, hey?

Speaking of holidays, I wrote about heading back to my hometown of Perth, and how I find it kinda tough when I go back.

I also reviewed my kids' new fave film...The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Check out the trailer. AWESOME.

Things are still a little quiet on my recipe blog following my holiday, but I did manage to post a really simple, light and tasty salad with a yummy dressing I think you might like.

Oh, and if you're on Facebook, check out the Uncle Tobys page. I shared some recipes for a family bbq I think you might like. Don't worry non-FB users. I will post the recipes myself next week on my recipe blog, just in time for Australia Day. Woot! :)

Now, I'll be back later today with 2011's second Hot or Not candidate, so don't miss that, will you?

In the meantime - are you a blogger? Did you write a post this week you think I might like to read? If so, please leave the link(s) below in your comment - I would LOVE that!

Until later, ya'll...


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Movie Review - The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Do your kids love magic?

Thanks to Walt Disney Home Entertainment, I was sent a copy of the newly released The Sorcerer's Apprentice recently starring Nicolas Cage (who brings his lovable quirkiness to the film) and the very funny Jay Baruchel.

I don't think my boys have had such a positive response to a film in a looooong time. I think because it has a bit of everything: action, adventure, humour, a bit of good vs evil (who doesn't love that stuff?) and, of course, magic.

In fact, the 8yo went through a very big stage of being fascinated by magic tricks and the film incorporates it with flair, adding high tech effects using LOTS of imagination!

Actually, before I saw the film, I had the pleasure of sending through some interview questions to an American award-winning magician - Johnny Ace Palmer. (Apparently, Mattel used his knowledge to help them design some of the Harry Potter merchandise - to give it that authentic magician touch. Cool.)

I'm not sure if Johnny expected some of the questions I asked him though. In fact, there was one he didn't answer about when he appeared on Letterman. (I asked him if Letterman asked him to magically make his affair with a colleague go away, or did he just spend most of the time trying to hit on Johnny's assistant? Hmmm. Maybe he doesn't have an assistant and that's why he didn't answer that one?)

Anyway, here are the questions Johnny did answer.

Jodie: What magic tricks did you very first start performing? Were rings and rope or egg cups involved?

Johnny: Initially, coins and cards were the items I used to do magic. As I expanded my repertoire, I did use rings, rope, and cups, as well as
many other ordinary items. My best trick is now the Cups and Balls.

Jodie: I heard you won a Grand Prix. Congratulations! I didn't realise you
were in to car racing as well. Do you use your magic when driving?

Johnny: Very funny! Although I have driven a NASCAR race car on the California
Speedway, I am best at magic, and that’s what I won the Grand Prix in
at the 1988 International Federation of Magic Societies’ convention
(FISM ‘88), where  a judge told me, “You made me love magic again!”
That’s when I realized I was doing what I was supposed to.

Jodie: Do you ever show anyone your magician's secrets, and if so, are you
able to show me how I can make a bling ring appear for myself? My

Johnny: Generally speaking, a good magician never tells a
secret. The exception to that rule is: unless it’s to another magician.
Magicians are a wonderful bunch. We are a special brotherhood, and
share generously with one another. Although I’d like to show you how to
make a bling ring appear, my wife would be the one to advise you on
that. If your husband does give you one, as Billy McComb used to say,
“If it’s adjustable, I’d be suspicious.”

Good advice there, Johnny. But still...how is it a magician can whip out a rabbit and not a ring? Hmph!

Trust me - the movie is great. The boys laughed out loud in parts and were on the edge of their seats in others. There are definitely bits that are a little on the scary/thrilling side - but even the 4yr old could handle it. (Oh, and I kinda loved it too. Ssssh.)

Here's a clip from the film:


The Sorcerer's Apprentice is rated PG and available on DVD ($39.95) and Blu-ray ($49.95) NOW!

Jodie x

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Going Back Is Tough...

No doubt, many of you are aware that I'm not originally from Sydney.

In fact, my hometown is Perth. Hubby and I left Perth's sandy, white beaches over 15 years ago to move to Sydney for "a couple of years". Ahem. 

Anyway, we are very settled here in Sydney. I will always be a "Perth Girl", but Sydney is now home. That doesn't mean I don't miss terribly my family in Perth - including, of course, my parents (now in their 80s) and my sister, niece, nephew, their extended families, my other family members and a few close friends I've kept in contact with from my old high school days. Hubby is the same. We miss them all very much, and getting home to see them is always a lot of fun.

However, it's also a very stressful thing for me.

The lead up is always busy. Lists are made of what we should take with us. We need to find a place to stay, a car to hire, book our flights. As you know, I don't like flying very much, and that adds even more to the stress. (It also doesn't help when you deal with very unhelpful Qantas staff when trying to finalise details - but that's a whole other post.)

In fact, planning a trip home back to Perth is equal parts pleasure and pain. There's the excitement of seeing everyone, mixed with the anxiety of getting it all together and traveling there.

But that's not even where the real stress begins.

As my parents have gotten older, whenever I see them these days, I really notice how much they have aged since the last time we saw each other. It's difficult. And I also feel a lot of guilt that I'm not there to help look after them. It's my gorgeous sister who does all that. She takes them food shopping, pays their bills, organises maintenance on their behalf... It's a lot of work for one person. They are very independent, but my sister still needs to help out a fair bit (which I know my parents appreciate very much).

Add to that the birth of my two great nephews in the last couple of years. My niece, nephew and I were so close growing up, and we talked about marriage and kids when we were kids ourselves. Now I hardly see them because of the distance, and I know the next time I see their babies, they'll be so big and I will be an almost virtual stranger to them. I hate that.

When I catch up with my girlfriends from high school, it's like no time has passed, and when they talk about their semi-regular get-togethers for lunch, I realise how much I'm missing out on by not being able to join them. Thank God for my friends like Jen and Mardi here in Sydney. Without them, I'd feel lost.

I have often wondered if living here in Sydney is partly like living in denial of what's going on back in Perth? What I don't see won't hurt me, you know? Seeing everyone in Perth is both great and upsetting for me. And when I return to my nice life here in Sydney, I'm away from that - living in my own little world.

I spend about a week before flying to Perth stressing over the trip: the flight, when I will catch up with everyone, how the kids will be etc. Then the last few days before we fly home I stress over saying goodbye (which is incredibly difficult), the flight (again) and what I have to catch up with on my return.

Going back to Perth isn't easy. It's tough, in fact. But not only do I have to do it, I want to. Not seeing everyone is worse, no matter how hard it is sometimes to see them and to also say goodbye.

That's just the way it is, I guess.

Jodie x