2014 – The Year That Shocked the Pants Off Me

Okay, no doubt you’re thinking it’s a smidge late for a 2014 Year in Review type post. And I wholeheartedly agree.  I realise all the Serious Bloggers had this one mapped out by November and scheduled to go in time for festive season reading.

I also realise that Serious Bloggers write for their target audience.  They don’t jump wildly between travel, cake decorating, fashion, nutrition, parenting, and flowery reflections on life, as the mood takes them.  And they fo’ shiz don’t disappear for months, without tacking the virtual equivalent of a ‘We are experiencing life difficulties – back in 5 min’ sign on the door.

Oops. But then I never claimed to be a serious blogger.

And the beauty of that, is that I can disappear when I just don’t have anything interesting to say, or when it all goes pear-shaped, as life often does.  And if I’m getting all excited about my revolutionary new system of Lego organisation, then I’ll bloody well write about that next (stay tuned folks – it’ll change your life).

But it’s true.  Last year did shock the pants off me.  And I think it quite apt that my first post for 2015 is written sans pants, from the shelter of my doona cave. It’s quiet, warm, safe… and there’s a whippet at my feet.

And so, let’s cover the good bits first, shall we?

In Blogging News…

2014 was the year I cracked the shits with celebrity chef Pete Evans and his ridiculous brand of food-wankery (you can read the post here).  Fortunately, this turned out to be the best move of my blogging career to date, as far as stats and follows go.  But more importantly, it got me writing about what I know as a dietitian.

So I’d just like to say thanks to Pete for the inspiration.  Thanks for making my blood boil every time I heard your name, and for introducing my blog to search engines around the world.  It was great while it lasted, but I’m kind of over you now.  You see, positive body image and moderation are the new sexy, and Rick Kausman has recently ousted you as top dog on my stats page.  Not sorry.

rick ousts pete 2

In Crafting News

For much of 2014 I crafted my arse off in preparation for the school fete – making some dear new friends and earning a few new frown lines in the process.

In the name of Hartwell Handmade I did things with parachute cord that I never knew existed, and discovered a plethora of uses for an enigmatic substance called Modpodge. I literally developed furballs while handcrafting 400-odd pom poms and then stringing them onto garlands.  And in hindsight…  I learnt about the dark side of Pinterest, and the virtues of delegating, and Ryan Gosling craft memes.


In Pet News

2014 was the year we adopted Billie the whippet puppy.  We mopped up lots of wee, and watched her grow from a needle-toothed little teddy bear into a sleek, speedy supermodel of dogs.

Billie was very busy in 2014.  She dug up the lawn, tortured the children’s beloved soft toys, and created her own doggy door by clawing and chewing at the back door until… it just wasn’t really there any more.  You see, Billie has persistence.  And mad DIY skills.

billie one year

And in other news

I’m not quite sure how to say this.  But I’m just gonna rip that bandaid off.  2014 was the year my marriage ended.

To me it was sudden.  Nonsensical.  Flabbergasting even.

‘I just think we’ve grown apart’


‘I have feelings for someone else’


And there I was, suddenly contemplating life as a 41 year-old single mother of two. And wondering how on earth it happened to me.

Rest assured I won’t be delving into the details here.  Firstly because no-one wants to read a 50,000 word thesis on the subject of my marital issues.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.  And secondly because I might be tempted to use the term conscious uncoupling, and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t go with the type of expletives I’ve been using lately. I don’t think Gwenyth would approve.

So… What’s on for 2015 then?…

Ah!  Thank you – Great question!

Well, there will undoubtedly be a lot of refocusing, rebuilding and being strong this year (combined with a good measure of wine-drinking).  I’m also going to have to learn how to deal with scary spiders in the house, and inexplicable computer issues.  And my awesome friends and family will be there every step of the way.

Of course the two most important people in all of this are my beautiful kids.  I’ll be snuggling them tight, and trying not to miss them too desperately when they’re spending time with their dad (gulp).

Who knows?  Maybe I’ll throw myself into yoga, or meditation? Or swing dancing!  I already have the perfect wardrobe for the latter.  Or perhaps this year I’ll realise some deep, previously-untapped love for endurance sports or rock climbing. (No. That was a joke people).  What about a sweet (little) rockabilly-inspired tattoo? Why the hell not?

However it pans out, I’ll be sure to let you know along the way.  And I promise to think of a smashing topic that has nothing** to do with my marital issues, for the next instalment.

**well.. maybe just a little, if I’m keeping it real

This is me.  Being all positive and 'bring it', in front of a lime tree.

This is me. Being all positive and ‘bring it’, in front of a lime tree.


And then there were five

Life in our household used to be a bit mad.  And by mad, I mean up and down like a yo-yo with an average noise level rated as extreme.  It was also mad as in one minute we’re all getting along swimmingly and the next minute it’s fisticuffs.  I think the madness level was pretty much on par, for a family with two young children.

And then, along came Billie.

Along came BillieBillie who has impulse control issues and a penchant for destruction.  Billie with her fetish for eating pencils, the children’s soft toys, and human food (straight off the table).  If she’s not supposed to have it, you can bet she wants it – with every fibre of her being.

Billie is what you might call a keen gardener.  In fact keen is an understatement – I’d venture she’s more of a fervid gardener.  She has a grand vision for our back yard, and in this vision, succulents just will not be tolerated.  The ones in pots are toppled, and those in the garden beds are enthusiastically chomped apon.   I like to think that her online dating profile might go something along the lines of:

‘Hi, I’m Billie.  I have a shoe fetish and a penchant for rigorous pruning and excavation work’.

Needless to say, we’ve given the winter veggie garden a miss this year.

Billie is also a keen collector.  She curates and covets the strangest things – such as the awful fluorescent green wig and the Hulk mask from the kids’ dress-up box.  These enigmatic items are so much more tasty and interesting than the dedicated dog chewy toys we bought for her. And her collection continues to grow – so that this week I had to buy her a toy box of her own.

She fills it by slowly appropriating more and more of the kids toys – each desperate dash into the playroom being carefully timed and orchestrated.  She has learnt, you see, that possession is 9/10ths of the law.  And persistence pays off.

naughty billie brady bunch.jpg

And then there’s the food thing.  The problem is that Billie just isn’t that fond of dog food – which is troubling for me as a mother, dietitian and general food enthusiast.  I simply can’t have a skinny dog.

I mix up puppy milk for her every morning (even though she’s technically too old for it now). Sometimes I squat next to her and coo words of encouragement while she eats.   And the other night I even added double cream to her doggy kibble, in an effort to bump up the calories and tempt her little tastebuds.

I know – she’s a Whippet, and they’re skinny right?  But I can’t seem to help it – I’m a feeder.

I can, however, confirm that she is growing, because last Friday when I tried to bath her in the laundry sink, she didn’t really fit anymore.  There was a lot of scrabbling, splashing, slipping around and sweary outbursts until we finally emerged  – both utterly flustered and dripping wet.   It was not unlike trying to bath a baby giraffe.

Another development of late is that my weekly purchases of paper towel and disinfectant wipes are slowing, and I can’t remember the last time I stepped in a puddle of urine.  In fact, Billie has recently taken to tapping at the back door to go out for a wee. Can I tell you how exciting that is?!  To me, it’s a bit like finding a forgotten fifty in my jeans pocket.

What - they do dog graduation certificates now?

What – they do dog graduation certificates now?

The main reason she’s learnt to do this, of course, is the treaties.  If we learnt nothing else from puppy pre-school, we learnt that treaties are the currency Billie works on.  Thanks to treaties she can also sit, and drop, and wait at the road.  Which is why my pockets are always full of liver treats these days (no forgotten fifties to be found).

It’s also the reason why the people at City Farmers LOVE me.

And when I add up all the food, the paraphernalia, puppy pre-school lessons, kennel make-over expenses, doggie parkers (plural, because she ate the first one), vet bills and registration ..

…well, the truth is that I don’t.  I think it would give me a small coronary to see the final figure.  And that wouldn’t achieve much now would it?

The cost of Billie

So what’s life like with a Billie in the family?  It’s a little bit more mad than before, but it’s good.

It’s good to see the kids race out to greet her when we get home, and to hear her skidding around the house at top speed first thing in the morning.  I secretly love it when she goes missing at night, and I find her quietly snuggled up and eyeing me sheepishly from one of the kids’ beds.  And she gets us out of the house and walking every day.  She reminds me that what really matters isn’t that the beds are made or that the floor is mopped. Housework will always be there tomorrow.

We’re just so in love with our kleptomaniac, hyperactive, little bony-assed dog, it’s insane.

Billie goes to the park






NEWS FLASH: Impossible Quiche Saves Day

I’m sitting on the couch, snatching a moment of peace with my coffee and computer. The weather’s grey and drizzly, the puppy’s sprawled in the plush bean bag by the heater (I’ve conceded defeat on that one), and the room is filled with the loud tick-tock of a metronome.  One of the kids was playing on the keyboard, but has since scuttled off elsewhere, leaving just the oppressive tick, tock, tick, tock.  And so goes my Thursday afternoon.

dog comaWe’re almost a week into the holidays, and my patience is waning.  I’m trying to embrace the mess, but really I’m not fooling anyone.  I’ve reverted to ‘take no crap’ mode.  In the car just now I presented them with the facts: If you don’t stop arguing I’m going to lose the plot!  Of course, what I really wanted to say was I’m dangerously close to LOSING MY SHIT.

…< big breath >….

The addition of our newest family member – the delightful Billie – has added an extra level of intensity these school holidays.   It’s been wonderful watching the kids rolling on the grass with her, lovingly making her dinner and cooing to her while she laps up her puppy milk. And against house rules, we’ve engaged in many indulgent, late-night couch snuggles.  She’s beautiful.

billie on bean bag

With the territory though, has come a few not-so-great moments.  There’s the early mornings which always start with paper towel, Pine-O-Clean and rubber gloves.  And there’s the constant stream of ‘Billie NO!’ ‘NO SHOES!’ and ‘No BITE!’ exclamations throughout the day.  Beautiful, and kind of exhausting.

Because of the puppy we’ve stayed close to home this week, and I’ve been donning the apron and getting my Nigella on a bit.  So while I’m inspired, here’s one thing I’ve been meaning to do for ages:  I want to share the magic of The Impossible Quiche.

Don’t worry – I haven’t gone all ‘easy, quick meals for mums’ on you.  I’m just really loving this quiche right now – it’s dead simple and bloody delicious.

The ‘impossible’ component is the lack of any pastry, yet the oddly pastry-like end product.  And the bit I’m amazed by is that it’s all light and fluffy, rather than all eggy and wet like your traditional frittata.  As long as you have the integral ingredients of eggs, milk, flour and cheese, you can make up the rest depending on the contents of your fridge.

I also tried this with gluten free flour, and it still worked beautifully.  The kids and my ‘eggs are not dinner’ husband all gave it their seal of approval.  And (be still my beating heart!) it even holds up well for lunch the following day.

Behold.. The Impossible Quiche (thanks Anna!)

The Impossible Quiche

Core ingredients:

4 eggs

1 cup grated cheese

1/2 cup self-raising flour

1 1/4 cups milk

Discretional ingredients:

Spring onion / onion / any vaguely onion-like vegetable in arms reach

Chorizo / ham / bacon / last night’s leftover sausages

Cherry tomatoes / capsicum / sun-dried tomatoes / spinach leaves / any old crap from the crisper

Basil / parsley / neither


  1. Preheat oven to 200 celsius and grease a large, round, quichey-looking dish (I use a non-stick fluted metal pie dish)
  2. Heat oil and cook spring onion lightly, then add tomato / ham / other crisper remnants and cook down for a few minutes
  3. Whisk eggs, milk and flour in a bowl, then stir in cheese and add vegetable mixture from the pan.  Season, add herbs.
  4. Pour mixture into quiche dish and bake for ~40 minutes, until golden on top and not wobbly in the centre.  Leave to stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Slice and serve with a green salad (the kids may baulk – but at least you tried)
  6. Pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back and bask in the glory of the impossible quiche.

Go you.


ps. It also helps to close your eyes and pretend you’re sitting in a wine bar
(Image: Judy Merrilll-Smith)

Hi, I’m the new puppy

Allow me to introduce myself – I’m model no. WHIPPET-14T.  I’m fitted with standard soulful grey eyes, and yes, I am very cute.


Care instructions:

During my first few days at home with you, you’ll feel like an anxious first-time mother with a precious newborn.  I’ll cry at night time, and catapult myself toward the laundry door out of desperation and anxiety, causing you to feel heartless for wrenching me from my mother’s breast.  And as you get up to comfort me, you’ll remember with horror, the broken sleep that comes with a newborn.  I’m pretty much as demanding, but you can’t breastfeed me to sleep.

To compound your anxiety, I’ll refuse to eat dog food or drink water, but I’ll delight in eating anything which is not a foodstuff.  Please see the ‘traffic light’ guide below for my preferences.

Puppy diet preferences - days 1-3

It’s universally accepted that puppies love to chew shoes – but did you know this is not limited to inanimate shoes?  I much prefer moving shoes (with real feet in them) due to their interactive nature, and the added element of potentially tripping the big person inside them.  Awesome.

If there are no shoes available, I’ll settle for odd socks, pyjamas or underwear.

shoe fetish Specifications:

The model you have purchased includes variable speed control (options being ‘ON’, ‘OFF’ and ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’).

In ‘ON’ mode, I am pretty intense.  If you plan on getting down low to say hi when I’m ‘ON’, you may want to cover your earlobes and nostrils – I’m fast, and my teeth are needle sharp.

Over the course of a day, be prepared for me to enter into the ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’ mode at random intervals (during which I have been likened to the lead character from The Wolf of Wall Street, after he’s just snorted five consecutive lines of coke off a prostitute’s buttocks).   In this mode, I enjoy taking flying leaps at your body, and running in crazed circles around the yard at breakneck speed.

'ON' mode

Factory settings mean that the ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’ phase is followed immediately by the ‘OFF’ phase (this may last for periods of up to 2 hours at a time).  During the ‘OFF’ phase, it is normal for you to wonder what has gone wrong with me, and to poke me to check if I’m still alive.  I won’t wake up.

I generally enjoy solitude when ‘OFF’, and may take to hiding under furniture to achieve this.  However, I’m very adaptable, and can just as easily complete an ‘OFF’ cycle while sleeping on a small bush.

'do not disturb' mode

‘do not disturb’ mode

 Warnings and troubleshooting

On the first morning, I’ll be so overwhelmed with excitement that I’ll leap out of the child’s arms and land awkwardly, provoking a good 15 minutes of high anxiety as I limp around the kitchen with a potentially broken leg.  You’ll wonder if there is a pet equivalent of the Maternal and Children Health line.

Contrary to popular belief, I do not know what the words ‘wee wee’ or ‘poo poo’ mean. I’m especially uninterested in these terms when taken outside in the rain in the small hours of the morning.

You are strongly advised to purchase paper towel and antiseptic wipes in bulk.

A personalised message from your WHIPPET-14T

I’d really love to know more about these things that you scatter around the house at night. Is this an obstacle course?  Are they like lily pads? Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to urinate or defecate on them.  As you will have noticed, I’m very careful to wee anywhere but on these.

Tonight's obstacle course was really tricky, but I did manage to avoid weeing on the lily pads

Tonight’s obstacle course was really tricky, but I did manage to avoid weeing on the lily pads

Also, thank  you so much for buying all of these colourful, chewy little rubber things for me.  You’ve gone to so much trouble to supply them in each room of the house.  But why do you always remove them from my mouth, as soon as I have my gums around their rubbery goodness?

I love loom bracelets

And finally – that really big dude with the low voice?  The one who thinks dogs should live outside?  Don’t worry – I’m working on him.  Last night when you were out, he let me sit in the lounge room and lick his toes 😉