The Dinner Party

I was told to bring Hors d’oeuvres. 

I toyed with chips and salsa but then decided on something more impressive. Avacado Egg rolls with a Cilantro dipping sauce; a Cheesecake Factory recipe I seized from the internet. The sauce itself had a difficulty level of about a 9.5 on the Olympic gymnastic scale. As a safety measure I decided to throw in an easier dish as well; brie with honey, caramelized pecans and some sliced apples. It sounds fancy, but all you really do is throw a pricey hunk of brie in a frying pan with some pecans and dump honey on it. Easy. Delicious.

I started work on my contributions to the dinner party early in the day. The sauce was completed with time to spare. All that was left to do was purchase egg roll wrappers, stuff them gently with a mixture I prepared in advance, throw on some “glad rags”, and warm up the brie.

I decided to start my search for egg roll wrappers at Asian World. I perused each aisle with care. I found won ton wrappers, spring roll paper, and dumplings of all shapes and sizes but nary an egg roll ingredient. I asked several employees and a customer. All looked at me as if they had n2ever seen or heard of an egg roll before; as if somehow the concept itself was disturbing. Did I mention I was shopping at Asian World?

I would have to use won tons. Appetizers should be bite sized anyway.

I cooked up the first batch of miniature morsels without incident. However, round two was “a damn nightmare”. Chaylee arose with a passionate cry from her premature slumber. Mike intervened. A knock at the door followed: the teen babysitter arrived accompanied by a DVD of Sex In the City. I was thinking something more along the lines of Care Bears or perhaps Shrek. The wee one was inconsolable. I nursed her frantically and ask Mike to tend to the deep frying. He promptly removed the little guys from the lake of fire, but it was too late. They were visually disturbing and nearly inedible. It was 8:00. The guests were without their nibbles.

We arrived at The Dinner Party forty minutes late.

As we entered the room it was clear that we had come grossly under prepared. The table looked like an evening at Buckingham Palace. Each place setting had countless utensils, three wine glasses per person, extravagant candle holders accompanied by fresh flowers and linen napkins.

Our contribution? One deep fried wonton per person and a blackened brie pancake with store brand crackers and sliced apples haphazardly arranged on a bright green dinner place covered in crumpled foil.

Bon Apetite!

The next course, provided by the host, was a creamed corn fancy-naise of some kind, topped with seared scallops, spring greens and caviar. I suck. Thankfully, the martini and the three glasses of wine that I was obliged to drink for cultural reasons made it all seem okay.

Poll: What recipe do you use to dazzle? Do you have any plating tips to throw my way?

Fun Fact: Australians love to drink. They always have.

” All through Australia, in every class, it is not considered good form for a man to drink by himself. Very few even of the most hopeless drunkards ever do so. The consequence is, that when a man feels inclined to drink, he immediately looks out for someone to drink with” “At whatever hour of the day a mans meets another whom he has not seen for say twelve hours, etiquette requires that he shall incontinently invite him to come and drink. This is a custom that pervades every class in the colony, and cannot be departed from without something more than a breach of good manners.” Finch Hatton 1887

Words of the Day:
Tucker: food
That’s Bonzer: That’s great
That’s Bonzer, my tucker sucked.

Advertisements

My Mom

It was Chay’s Australian Birthday. Chay baby and I dropped off Kenna at school and headed to Chatswood to pick up a birthday treat and a few things for her little party ! It was a lovely morning. The sun was shining, the leaves were falling, and the town was bustling. Heaven.

My bliss was interrupted by a large camera, a boom mic and a smallish woman with a clipboard.

“Hello, we are from the Today Show (AU) and we are asking people to give shout outs to their mums. Would you like to say something to your mum?” Slightly stunned by the opportunity, I explained that my “mum” lives in the US and so I may not be the best candidate. They instructed me to “ave a go” anyway.

They had no idea what it was they were asking me to do. Before I was able to utter a single syllable, a lump the size of a melon emerged in my throat. I knew I was in trouble.

“Crap,” I said. “I don’t know if I can do this. I am crying already.”

They appeared moved.

“Go on”, the smallish one said. “What do you love about your mum?”

“What don’t I love…..” It was a strong start, but what began as a moving tribute became an unintelligible slew of guttural utterances. You see, I am completely incapable of crying and speaking simultaneously. Those of you who know me know this is true. It is sort of a cross between Yoda and Sloth from Goonies. The tears were magnificent. You would have thought I had just returned from her memorial.

The crew seemed more concerned then moved at this point and so I brought my deluge of emotion to an end and walked away. Much to my chagrin, the tears continued. I looked very unstable as I navigated the streets of Chatswood.

Mom, it appears I love you. And evidently I miss you more than is normal. I pray that one day when my daughters are older and asked to express how they feel about me, they too will crumble publicly. It is an honor to be yours. You are the kind of woman I am trying to become and….it appears I cannot type and cry all at once either.

Happy Mother’s Day Mummy.

Your baby girl,

Flow Pow

 

 

My left thumb

People thank God for the strangest things. We thank Him for helping us find our keys. We thank him for nice weather on special days and snow on Christmas. We thank him when we are happy and when we get stuff we always wanted. But today I want to publically express gratitude to God Almighty for something I have never found cause to thank Him for. My left thumb. 

All of my life I have had a double jointed left thumb. I can bend it in impossible directions and it even appears a bit shorter than it’s twin on the right. It is an oddity I have never given much thought to unless I am performing party tricks or frightening small children with the removeable thumb illusion. But today something amazing happened.

I was driving to the drycleaner through heavy traffic. I was experiencing the usual light headedness, shortness of breath, and heart palpatations when something miraculous happened…

I begin to notice that every time I took a right turn into the left lane I was involuntarily bending my freakish thumb back. It was as if my ridiculous thumb was a beacon of safety guiding me into the correct lane. With each turn confidence swelled within me. With my trusty thumb at the wheel my family as well as Australian motorists and pedestrians will be safe.

Cougar may have turned in his wings, but I am no Cougar….
The codename is Thumbelina baby. And this soldier can roll in any hemisphere.

Thank you dear readers for your support and thank you Lord for my thumb. It was a comfort to me as a child and is a comfort to me now.

 

Just call me Cougar

I got the call at 7:30pm. 

“Meet me at Ashley and Archer, ” he said.

It was dark, very dark. The enormous, silver, diesel, she-beast sat in the carport waiting for me. Naked…no plates. But that didn’t matter because it was dark, very dark.

I strapped my trusty sidekicks into our new silver bullet and then attempted to enter the vehicle confidently, but on the wrong side. My second attempt was more successful but equally disconcerting. Everything felt wrong. Windshield wipers where the turn signal should be; my left hand suddenly responsible for all the most important tasks, i.e. shifting, stereo manipulation, air conditioning… With very little experience and no “rego” I was an outsider and an outlaw.

I rolled out slow on the creep tip with track nine settin the tone in the background T-Town style.

“They see me rollin, they’re hatin, patrollin, tryin to catch me ridin dirty…try to catch me ridin dirty, try to catch me ridin dirty, tryin to catch me ridin dirty”

Paranoia raged within me like a stoned teenager. The soundtrack somehow helped though. And when I saw my man approaching I rolled down my window so he could hear our rebel anthem. He nodded. I nodded back. _______

My next excursion did not go as well.

In order to register a vehicle, one must get a green slip (insurance) a blue slip (auto inspection) and a pink slip (from the DMV which is called the RTA). A gal from down the street was nice enough to let me follow her to Castle Cove so I could obtain said Blue Slip. The drop off was without incident, but picking up the car proved dangerous.

I packed Chaylee and a carseat in the pram and picked up Kenna from Kindie and walked 1km to the mechanic. This time I would have to take the car into rush hour on my own. I took a wrong turn within 5 blocks.

Bollocks!

I found a landmark I was familiar with and got back on track.

Bloody great!

Jane, a friend from down the street happened to pull up behind me as I drove (still dirty) carefully down the crowded street. Her presence brought minimal comfort and a great deal of pressure. I must perform. I must let her know that her children are still safe to walk about in the neighborhood with me on the road, I thought.

Nearly home, I sat patiently on Penshurst waiting to take a right (which is akin to taking a left at home). The cars kept coming and coming. The sun was piercing and distracting. Panic begin to seize me…

Jane is waiting. They all think I am a terrible driver. I have not plates. Is that a cop? Grow some balls Hev. Come on! Just turn right. There’s a gap…go, go, go….

And go did I. Straight into the right lane…the wrong lane.

There I sat frozen, staring into the young man’s eyes whom I nearly struck head on. I pleaded with him like a deranged mime begging him to back up so that I could get off Penshurst and experience my shame and total loss of confidence in the quiet of my own culdesac. He obliged, stunned and curious. I rolled down my window and shouted in my most apologetic voice…

“I’m sorry. I’m American!” Once again representing my nation with dignity and grace.

Jane consoled me from her automobile and I pretended to be fine. I wasn’t. As she headed on her way I started to cry. Kenna caught on quickly and attempted to reassure me.

“Don’t worry Mom. We all have accidents. Sometimes I pee.”

I laughed briefly and then proceeded to cry some more. The crying continued off and on throughout the evening. Peaking when I picked up Mr. Pasley from the train station. My wingman Michael “Maverick” Pasley offered to drive home and I suggested I turn in my wings.

Click on this link for dramatization:

Pray for me dear ones. I am homesick and longing for the peace of mind that comes with knowing how to friggin drive.

Poll: Would you rather:
a. walk through your neighborhood virtually naked in a storm
b. reveal your buttocks whilst at the park
c. humiliate yourself on the open road by driving on the wrong side of the street in traffic.

Trivia: In the early years of English colonization of North America, English driving customs were followed and the colonies drove on the left. After gaining independence from England, however, they were anxious to cast off all remaining links with their British colonial past and gradually changed to right-hand driving. The first law requiring drivers to keep right was passed in Pennsylvania in 1792, and similar laws were passed in New York in 1804 and New Jersey in 1813. Only 1/3 of the world drives on the left. (Wikipedia) America, a truly independent nation!

Words of the day:
Figjam : “F*ck I’m good; just ask me”. Nickname for people who have a high opinion of themselves.
Seppo: An American
Cockroach: Someone from NSW

I use to think I was a Figjam Seppo, but now all the Cockroaches know this drongo doesn’t know how to drive worth a darn.

Family Fact: Chaylee loves vegamite. Kenna does not. Chaylee walks, sort of.

Love to all. Pray for safe travels with me behind the wheel…if I can bring myself to ever drive again.

Misc. Moments

On Australia Day I was struck several times by an angry disabled, elderly woman whom I was trying to assist. She had me cornered. Mike sprung into action by escorting Kenna and Chaylee off the elevator safely. Evidently, he felt I had things under control. 

“No Hitting!” was all I could think to say as I stood paralyzed…conflicted. She was throwing combinations and I felt it all. A touch of terror and a sympathetic ache. Poor old girl. I would have liked to have been friends.

Thankfully, a train station worker saw me on the ropes and relieved me, assisting the agitated woman. I only hope that if I start throwing punches at random strangers in my old age, I can strike with the same accuracy and flare.
—————————————————————————————————

On Wednesday I locked myself in the house. Not out of the house. In the house. I locked my keys in the stroller, which was in the garage, which could only be accessed by using said keys. In fact, all doors leading out of the house require keys. Why not open a window you ask? Because our landlord, Houdini, decided to put decorative bars on all the windows in addition to automated metal shutters. How should we go about exiting the premises in case of an emergency? Not sure yet. Suggestions are welcome. In this case, a neighbor came to my aid. She opened the garage, located the keys and set the little ones and I free.

I was wondering how I would go about humiliating myself in front of my neighbors this week. Glad that’s out of the way. At least this time I kept my clothes on.

—————————————————————————————————-
Mike sprayed the perimeter of the house a while back in an effort to reduce the amount of roaches of unusual size that were taking up residence in the house. Later that evening, we discovered a plethora of curious red bites on his ankles. His feet swelled up like a pregnant woman. He now refers to himself as “Mike, it’s what’s for dinner.” or, “Mike, the other white meat”. Evidently my brand of flesh is only appealing to caterpillars.

—————————————————————————————————-
We still have no car and rental furniture. Pray both reach us soon. Till then, may we continue to grow and stretch and embrace what is in our reach.

Word of the day: Blue: fight
The poor old gal wanted to have a blue with me.

Daily Poll: Have you ever been locked in? Mom….this is a great opportunity for you to tell your story. Go ahead…let it out.

Trivia: Britain decided to use its new outpost (Australia) as a penal colony. The First Fleet of 11 ships carried about 1500 people—half of them convicts. The fleet arrived in Sydney Harbour on 26 January 1788, and it is on this day every year that Australia Day is celebrated.

Nuddy in a Southerly Buster


It was just a drizzle. A gentle tickle of rain. I dressed Chaylee in a valor sweat suit with a hood just in case the chill in the air began to nibble at her soft cheeks. We were off to pick up Kenna from kindie. 

I didn’t bring much other than my phone and some sultanas (raisins) for Chaylee. I wanted to pack light so that I could negotiate the pram with greater ease. It is a 40 minute round trip walk so every little bit helps. The walk was a dream. The cool temperature, a welcome departure from the scorching sun.

Kenna was eager to tell us about her day and walked along side the stroller with much to say. I could only listen with moderate attentiveness however, because I was distracted by some ominous clouds that were quickly approaching. They were black. They were bulbous. They screamed of pending doom!

“Hey Kenna…we may need to pick up the pace here dove. It looks like rain is heading our…..” No sooner had I spoken did the dam break.

This was biblical rain.

I grabbed my phone from my pocket and placed it in a small compartment next to the cup holders that were steadily filling with water. It would be safe there. Kenna screamed with delight. Chaylee splashed in the pool that had developed in her tray. Water begin to fill my shoes as it rushed down the sidewalk. It was then I looked down and realized…

I was naked.

How could I make such a terrible wardrobe error? A long sleeved white shirt, a black brazier and a pair of thin light beige pants? WHAT? Nothing was left to the imagination. Every curve and crevice was on display. I begin to push with even greater fury and purpose. I kept my head down, my stomach sucked in and my arms arched so as to prevent shirt suction.

It did not help matters that the entire neighborhood was out in force picking up their children from school. Umbrellas floated all around me. Children ran all about in rain jackets and clever hats. My children looked as if they had been thrown in a pool.

At least we survived. My phone was not so lucky.

An old family adage: If you can’t make it good, make it memorable.

Poll: Would you rather:
a. Fall off a swing in a public park exposing your bottom
b. Have your whole neighborhood see you naked due to flash flooding

Trivia: They are referring to this summer in NSW as the “lost summer” due to the unseasonable cool temperatures and abundance of rain.

Word of the Day: Nuddy: Naked
“I got nuddy in a Southerly Buster”

Australian Party Habits

 

Today is Kenna’s Birthday!!! She is four years old and very proud to be so.

I have to admit, I was afraid of what this day would be like for her. Our parties at home are generally a raucous affair. Typically, I cook way too much food, invite far too many people, provide ludicrous amounts of sugar to small children, spend way too much on cheap decor, and lean heavily upon the help of friends and family to pull it off. At some point during the night, I usually get my groove on to some old school beats with the help of my beloved sisters/girlfriends (and Mitch) and we dance into the night, stopping only to eat some more…

So, what is a mommy like me to do when her little girl is about to embark on another year and family and friends are an ocean away? She invites the three families she knows over for ice cream.

It seemed perfect. Quaint, simple, and easy.

Last week I noticed that Kenna had made a sweet little friend named Elspeth. I decided to ask El’s mom if she could come to our little party. Unfortunately, it wasn’t her mom. It was the mother of another student and hence, my quaint plans begin to unravel before my eyes like a dollar store sweater.

“Oh…well, Matt can, uh, come too…I mean, we would love to have him…all the children are welcome,” I said with an unsure stutter.

I called upon my Aussie friend Jane and explained the scenario to her in hopes that she could help me deal with the situation in a way that was culturally appropriate. She instructed me to post a little note at the preschool the day of the party informing parents that there would be a gathering to celebrate Kenna.

This morning Mike took Kenna to school and delivered the small, hand written party invitation to Kenna’s teacher. When I arrived to pick Kenna up from Kindie, I was greeted with a giant sandwich board containing my homemade invite, a larger typed version of said invitation and three balloons adorned with ribbon curls. I knew I was in trouble.

Poll: If you were invited to a stranger’s child’s birthday party the day of the event, would you attend?

Fifty people, mostly children, showed up for Kenna’s party today…ON TIME! I was flabbergasted, appalled, paralyzed by culture shock. Who are these people?

My friends Jane (a.k.a. Super Jane) and Sonja saved the day. They brought snacks, wine, extra dessert, and tea. Evidently, no party is complete without tea. Holla!

Word of the day: Cuppa: Short for cup of tea. “Come over and have a cuppa and we’ll chat about how full on the party was.”

Factoid: * In 1954, Bob Hawke was immortalised by the Guinness Book of Records for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Bob later became the Prime Minister of Australia. What does this have to do with birthdays and pre schoolers? Nothing. I just found it intriguing and thought I would share it with you.