less Paper Giant, more spit ball

So you all watched Paper Giants right? OH what? Some of you don’t live here? Go here then and MAKE time.

1. You’ll get this awesome insight into Sydney in the early 70s – OMG I almost crapped myself at seeing the buses, the tollbooths, the 20cents to cross the bridge, the red rattlers (trains) – it’s all just too good.

2. You’ll see an actress take on one of Australia’s female media figurehead – lisp and all.

3. There is no three, just go and watch it.



While the series is the story of the birth of Cleo magazine, a cornerstone to the Australian Consolidated Press (the Packers) stable, the magazine was in fact initially slated as the Australian version of the US Cosmopolitan. Fairfax somehow trumped them on that front and launched it as the only competitor to Cleo – but by the time of my story both were part of ACP and ensconced in the Park Street offices of the company.

Somehow, my dreams of being a writer for National Geographic magazine morphed into wanting to be writer then back to being a journalist preferably covering crime and the courts and then there was the brief dalliance of wanting to write for magazines. With hindsight I realise just how indicative my career aspirations were to my mental state. Jumpy.

So there I was, three years into university life, my second year of a degree in journalism (and PR because I was lured by the promise of $$. What an idiot) and somehow I scored a work experience spot at Cosmopolitan magazine. I was beside myself.

Remember, this is the era when the Interweb was the domain of scientists and cost eleventy gagillion dollars a minute if you did have access to it. There were no mobiles, no Facebook, no – gasp – Twitter.

Magazines were the lifeblood of my generation. Dolly then Cosmo and Cleo. It was the time of the supermodel – think Elle, then Helena and Cindy. The time when the women’s magazine was about empowerment and celebration.

I mean, it was a sealed section in Cosmo that taught me how to masturbate for fuck’s sake.

What? Too much?

Anyway, there I was, the dowdy fat kid in the house of glamour. I ADORED IT. The office dogsbody was away on leave so I basically did her job for the week – there was some subbing, a hell of a lot of gophering and one time when I got to carry the latest cover artwork (all covered and top TOP secret) from the offices to the courier dock to go to the printers (or some such, the memory is now fuzzy – almost as fuzzy as the bottle green collared jumper I wore in there one day).

There was also a lot of fetching cups of tea for the editor, Pat Ingram, something I knew I was meant to be outraged at doing (I was at UNIVERSITY! Getting a DEGREE! The whole point of which was to bypass the TEA phase. Again, what an idiot) but secretly loved. Of course, it was destined to end in disaster. I break something at least once a week in this house, putting me in charge of the editor’s gorgeous Laura Ashley tea cup and saucer was like throwing a big thumping dog a teensy little bone in a really confined space piled high in glassware.

I broke her cup on Day Four.

Shattered it. And the saucer. On the manky floor of the manky teeny tiny tea room.

The look of horror on her face, the way she recoiled as I put a … m.u.g. … down in front of her during the editorial meeting, the collective gasp from all those around the table. OH GOD it was horrendous. She tried to deal with it with grace and good humour but I knew. I could TELL. She was pissed off and upset. The travel editor, Elisabeth, had bought it for her a lifetime ago on one of her trips to the UK.

Awesome. It had SENTIMENTAL value as well as being pretty.

There was only one thing for it. That lunch hour I went down to Pitt Street to the Laura Ashley store and asked them if they had any tea cups and saucers in the range I had noted down from the shards of fine bone china on the tea room floor. OH GOODNESS NO, that range was LONG retired. Gorgeous though.

So I chose another one I thought was lovely. It cost me nearly all of my fortnightly Austudy allowance.

Pat’s reaction made it well worth it. She was incredulous and may have even had watery eyes. I allowed one of my regular delusions of grandeur for quite a few years afterwards to be that she’d take her tea in the cup and regale people with stories about how the work experience girl had bought it for her.

I loved that week at Cosmo. I remember Pat walking in one morning and remarking how it felt like I’d been there for years and how amazing it was at how I had just slotted in.

Stupidly I never called them again for another session. Never went back. Despite my love of it, despite them clearly being thrilled with my efforts I felt like a total dowdy duck out of water. You know those scenes of Anne Hathaway in the beginning of The Devil Wears Prada? Well I was that but without the height. And there was no gay fashion director throwing free shit my way.

So there you have it. Not so much a Paper Giant as an origami crane. Or maybe more a spitball being fired from the casing of a biro.




I just don’t know myself anymore…

1. On Friday night I put up Christmas wall decals (they were really cheap at the Christmas store at Forestway Fruit Market).

2. Today I saw this on Loobylu‘s site and thought, ‘how adorable’ and went to order the pattern (I stopped myself but it’s only a matter of time).

3. I am into Week 3 of C25K and am loving it. I was a runner as a child so I figure this should not be that surprising. What is shocking is that I am running in a singlet top and bike shorts. In daylight. I have even taken to taking next door’s dog with me. I KNOW!

4. I am wearing clothing that bares my upper arms. Dudes, I have not worn sleeveless items of clothing since c1980. I have had bingo wings/foodoobadahs/tuck-shop arms since puberty. It’s not pretty. It appears I no longer care about public health and safety.

5. I am into week 5 of losing weight. I have neither forgotten that I am attempting to lose weight or given up. I’m down 5.5kgs.

6. In 1992 Chef and I went on a holiday together to Tasmania. We played Scrabble. He beat me. Badly. Being somewhat unhinged tempestuous I threw the Scrabble board in frustration. This would have been far more dramatic was it not Travel Scrabble, thereby meaning the pieces were magnetised and well, you can guess the rest. Fast forward to 2010 and now the proud owner of an iPhone (a totally new addiction I now how to reign in) Chef and I have started playing Words with Friends. Dudes, I have whipped.his.arse. TWICE. OH YEAH BABY. Of course in the current game I’m 70 points behind and seem to have a serve of vowels to make an Eastern European jealous but who the fuck cares. TWO GAMES IN A ROW. Bring it.


The answers!

Duyvken: How are you planning celebrating the kids returning to school next week?
Champagne. Natch.
And maybe a jig.
Or perhaps just lying down on the lounge and watching anything NOT on the childrens’ channels
Maybe a nap?
Maybe eating junk food w/out having to hide it and consume it in the pantry

Jasper and Grover will still be here.

(and D, I am thinking of you each and every moment…)

I just read (somewhere on your food blog) that you make gratin dauphinois and now I’ve got cravings. I know what I’m making for dinner tomorrow night! So, my question is, what’s the recipe?
OH Potato Dauphinois how I love thee so. Here’s the recipe sweets:

Gratin Dauphinois
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 500ml milk
  • 500ml thickened cream
  • 2kg potatoes, cut into 1cm slices
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 190C
  2. Butter a large ceramic baking dish
  3. Bring the garlic, milk and cream to the boil
  4. Add the seasonings and potatoes – cook until potatoes are soft but not falling apart
  5. Layer the potatoes in the baking dish, pour over the cream mix
  6. Bake for around 30 minutes.

Fe: When are you going to start your next quilt?
Already have – am making a quilt for Felix next. It’s an Amish Four-Patch Lightning quilt which means alternating 4-inch squares of one 4inch block of fabric with 4inch patches. We’re using dark grey for the solids and pinky-reds, greens and purples for the patchwork squares. Sounds awful I know and certainly not what I would have chosen but for a boy becoming a teenager it is perfect and he loves it. And that is what counts. I guess.

(Another friend having an awful time of it. Thinking of you and D in some sort of tag team type arrangement)

Jane: When are you your most happiest? (Hi JANE!)
Gee.Um. I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it. When we’re all together doing nothing in particular – you know, when you’re all having dinner and some conversation starts that gets everyone giggling. Like the other night we had fresh corn cobs as part of dinner and I made mention of how it comes out looking exactly like it went in. What followed was a delightfully erudite family discussion about corn poos. Hilarious!

Kurrabi kid: What’s for tea?
Ahh, tonight was spaghetti al’oglio w/broccoli (cooked in the pasta water then mooshed through the pasta when tossed in the oil and sautéed garlic). It was very low-key as it was just me and the two little boys. Last night was pasta (I KNOW! Granted we haven’t had pasta in over a week) as well – farfalle – with a simple tomato sauce to which I added a smidge of cream. Just because. That was served with rocket and English spinach tossed in a simple vinaigrette of olive oil and red wine vinegar with some homemade olive bread.

Kurrabi kid: If $ were no object (ie you can pick any ingredient from anywhere) what would you make?
Wow. I never really think of ingredients in terms of cost. If $ were no option I would be at Simon Johnson’s cheese room once a week. At least. I would have tried some of this Spanish jamon everyone raves about. I would have tried truffles more than the once I have. We’d probably eat a lot more seafood. I would only buy organic meat – always.

Fifi: …what is your worst food disaster?
OH MY. So many to choose from. The time I made a lemon delicious with limes but didn’t grate the lime rind fine enough so it was like eating sponge with bullets of bitterness. Hideous. Or the sponge that you couldn’t even cut let alone chew (granted I was about 12 at the time). Or the first 100 times I made bread and just didn’t get the whole kneading concept and basically became totally adept at making paper weights. The stir-fry I made a few years back that tasted solely of that taste of tinned asian foodstuffs. Hideous. Or the seafood risotto I made for a dinner party of 14? The first time I’d ever made risotto and when I was still hopelessly impatient with my cooking. The rice was undercooked and all we could all do was giggle at how the mussels looked like female genitalia. The other dinner party for about 16 (can you believe I used to do full three-course dinner parties for friends when I was at school! This was in Year 10 I think) when I made a three-tiered almond vacherin for dessert but forgot to take the paper liners off from under the pavlova layers so we were all fishing out soggy gladbake from this most delicate of desserts. Shall I go on!

How do you make that fancy icing like on a wedding cake, can you buy it in a shop and assemble it on the cake and justify your very existence by impressing people???
What, are you planning on making it? I HATE that fancy icing on a wedding cake – it’s tasteless and normally involves a level of marzipan, a foodstuff I just don’t understand or appreciate. You know why it’s tasteless? Because it’s made of eggwhites and icing sugar. That’s it. Nothing good can come of eggwhites and icing sugar. Where’s the butter!?!

If you were a drag queen, what would your character be named, and what would be your signature song to bump and grind to?
HAH! I have absolutely NO IDEA. Probably some play on Mae West due to my ample bust. And really, if I didn’t bump and grind to Footloose then I’d be doing my teenage years a gross injustice.

Peskypixies: fave food to cook??
Any dessert. Any. At the moment I am in love with making and cooking with puff pastry – it is just an absolute delight and makes me skip in the kitchen. Oh, and bread. I adore making bread. There’s something so organic about it.

tea or coffee??
Tea. I used to drink coffee – up until my pregnancy with Jasper when the smell and taste of it made me heave. I have never been able to come back to it. Now it makes my anxiety go through the roof and my tummy sad. I have come back to loving the smell of it. Except on people’s breath. Gag. I take my tea strong with barely a dash of milk. That or any of those herbal numbers – except peppermint. The idea of drinking a cup of something that tastes like toothpaste makes my neck itch.

day or night??
early morning and if I’m in the country, dusk. There is something about dusk in the country. Like a day well spent.

summer or winter?
Winter all.the.way. baby. All the way. Warm sunny days make me hideously cranky.

sweet or sour?? 
That totally depends on my mood. If you’d asked me sweet or salty then I’d pick salty over sweet. But again, depends on my mood. I’m very contrary you know.

fave thing to do??
play with my kids.
have talks to Felix.
receive and give cuddles to my boys.

fave movie??
That’s too hard – there’s so many – Footloose, Steel Magnolias, St Elmo’s Fire, The Breakfast Club, When Harry Met Sally, The Royal Tannenbaums, Stranger that Fiction, The Darjeeling Limited, Napoleon Dynamite, I could go on and on and will get annoyed when I remember ones I haven’t put down here

fave drink??
room-temperature water. I hate cold water.

fave snack??
When I’m good? Cherries. Or figs. Or a really crisp apple. Or grapes.
When I’m bad? Salt & vinegar chips

best memory from childhood??

Waking up and coming into our family room and seeing my mum and dad sitting on the floor together reading the Saturday Herald. One of the few memories I have of them together, happy.

Dancing Morgan Mouse: were you a chef in a former life?
Oh aren’t you sweet! Maybe. I think if I hadn’t gone to the swanky girls private school where it was just an unspoken no-no to go into a trade I may well have ended up doing hospitality and becoming a whizz-bang pastry chef.

Janet: how did you get the stitching so good on your quilt? was there swearing involved – or did it just flow?
I drew lines! And yes, there was swearing. And a LOT of unpicking. I unpicked a.l.o.t. Nothing with quilting goes with the flow for me just yet. I can’t wait until it does!

Linda: how many remote controls on the coffee table and do you know how to operate them all? (HI LINDA!)
ONE! We have one of those logitech ones that controls the tv, xbox (also used as our dvd player), av reciever, optus – it is even programmed to turn the heater on and off or increase or decrease the heat. I know how to use it but have no idea how to program it.

action or procrastination?
Are you kidding? Procrastination all the way baby. I’m meant to be editing someone’s uni assignment as I type this.

Karl or Kochy?
Neither. Both make me want to stick pins in my eyes and other blunt objects in my ears. To me they both represent the complete dumbing down of our population. They’re like the white bread of current affairs. I am Jo and Virginia (ABC Breakfast on ABC2) all.the.way. Plus the guy who does their sports is kinda spunky.

dessert island read?
Too hard. Maybe a pile of the classics with some Tom Robbins, Chuck Pahlanuick and David Sedaris thrown in for good measure.

dessert island food?
Figs and cherries. I’d be nothing if not regular.

if you are not writing a book – why not?
Fear. Plain and simple. Fear.

Paola: Did you always know you wanted many kids? (Beautiful Paola!)
Yes. And I always knew they’d be boys.

Were you always this GREAT at cooking?
I think I always had an affinity for it. But it has taken me a great many years to get the feel for it – to know when something is just right or needs something else or to just leave it. Particularly with savoury stuff. I was always in such a hurry as a child/teen/twenty-something with my cooking. Maybe that’s why it’s only been in recent years that making pastry and bread have come to me – that I’ve slowed down.

And parenting?
OH aren’t you gorgeous. I’m not sure you’d be asking me that if you’d seen me tear strips off all of them in the carpark at Warriewood Square today about how disgusted I was in their behaviour and how ungrateful they were and so on and so forth. That said, I think I am a lot more comfortable in my own skin as a parent now that I was even just three or four years ago.

What’s your favourite car?
I quite fancy those little Audi Roadster TTs or maybe a Mercedes SL Class Roadster. To transfer all the family? The Audi Q7 would be nice.

Can you drive a motorcycle?
No, but my husband can! And I’ve gone pillion.


What? Drive one? Sit on one and have someone sail me around the harbour while I sip champagne and eat canapes? SURE! I did learn to sail about 12 years ago but after I had Oscar and got back on a boat I had a complete anxiety attack and was convinced something bad was going to happen. 

Suse: So you steal my blogpost idea, but don’t ask me a question?
Yep. You’d already answered! I didn’t know the shop was still open!

And get Fifi to come here and ask a PLETHORA of questions?
Yep. Fifi loves me. What can I say.

Blackbird: How tall are you?
5’4” or 166cm

And what size shoe do you wear?

And Wellies or Blunnies?
You’ve totally thrown me with this discussion. They’re for two totally separate situations. Gumboots are for the rain. Blunnies are for the farm.

Norma: if money flowed very freely to you what would you change in your life ? (HI NORMA!)
We’d travel. That’d be about it. OH sure, I’d buy brand-label clothes and shoes, ohmyGod the shoes!, and I would have bought Felix the expensive sneakers he wanted today which I refused to get him. And the boys would go to private school for high school. But travel. We’d travel. Every year. To somewhere new. OH, and I’d buy the family a holiday house/weekender at Patonga.

Sooz: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
A platypus. Platypuses ROCK.

If you could choose any job in the world, what job would you have (feeling free of course to alter any other life details to accommodate)?
An archeologist.

Why did you start blogging?
There were just too many words in my head.

What would it take to get you knitting?
Drugs. And that it wasn’t actually knitting. Knitting makes my neck itch.

Elizabeth Brooks: So do you ever get worried about having a public blog? Do you get tempted to over share (about people who annoy you for instance) and then regret it.
Done it. And it wasn’t about someone who annoyed me but a story in which I gave a back story and the back story upset someone very close to me. It still makes my stomach turn. But I stood my ground – that my blog is my place and in my life I have very few ‘my places’. If people don’t like it, don’t read it.

This has been so much fun! If you still have a question, ask away – I’ll do another round next week!


Totally stolen from Suse, but I have noticed there is absolutely no correlation between the number of hits I get a day and the number of comments received. So all you lurkers, de-lurk and ask me something. Anything. And I shall answer to the best of my ability.

Please note: if I only get like, five questions, then I may retire to the drawing room with the revolver.

No pressure.