In Which I Try Stripping..

I AM talking about stripping furniture of course.  Part of my new found life in the mountains has been the strong desire to decorate my new house in a certain way, with particular furniture.  Given said house purchase pretty much depleted every last penny of my savings, I’ve begun to look at ways of recycling and doing things on the cheap.

 On a recent wander through a gorgeous shop in Glenbrook, I noted a fantastic sideboard that I fancied for my own.  It was white and kind of shabby looking but in that French sort of way, not the throw it out immediately sort of way.  I was admiring it when I happened across the whopping $550 price tag.  The friendly shop owner said he’d take $500 for it.  Generous chap.  Anyway, I got chatting to him and he told me that he’d only picked up the sideboard the day before and it had been black.   And off went a light bulb in my head.  Of course!  I can recycle old furniture!  I don’t think for a minute this shop guy paid more than $100 for that sideboard but he had made it look fantastic and would make a very tidy profit on it.

 Last weekend, I went searching and found two wonderful pieces.  A 1940’s (ish) wooden telephone table and a 1950’s sideboard.  Now I don’t think the sideboard is any more 1950’s than I am – I suspect it is more a 70’s model but I love it!  I found some gorgeous glass knobs to replace the hideous ones that are on there, and then I commenced operation restoration.

 I trotted off to the hardware shop where I was assured that my initial choice of a “citrus” non-toxic paint stripper would not do the job and that only the hard core stuff would do.  I briefly entertained doing the stripping inside, rather than dragging the sideboard onto the back porch.  I’m glad I went with the outside option. 

 Let me tell you something about paint stripper.  Wear protective clothing because you will need it.  That stuff is lethal.  I wore gloves, a mask and protective goggles and I still got a tiny splash of it on my chest where my t-shirt didn’t cover.  That stuff burns and burns quickly.  I was able to clean it off but was super careful after that.  Also, it works really, really fast.  You almost have to start scraping as soon as you put it on.  A word to the wise, it can be an arduous task if you happen to own the world’s dumbest dog – although I don’t think you do because my dog seems to be holding that title.  The varnish came up really quickly and as I scraped it off, fell in huge brown gelatinous heaps onto the deck below.  The dog looked in interestedly, clearly thinking these piles were freshly laid barker’s nests instead of toxic lumps of paint and chemicals.  Next time, the dog will be relegated to the shed!

 I am very pleased with the progress so far.  I had to be pretty thorough with the clean-up and I would lay a larger area of drop sheets next time but stripping is far superior to sanding.  Next step will be the sanding and then the painting.  And then I will have a lovely new (old) piece of furniture, the entire project costing me just under $200.  Not bad!

 

Why Adriano Zumbo is the Perfect Man

I have heard of Adriano Zumbo.   I knew he was some kind of super sweets making chef but I had never taken much notice of him.  I am not really into the whole celebrity chef thing.  Jamie Oliver can be amusing.  I liked George in the first Masterchef but not when I found out he wanted to pay wait staff a pittance.  I don’t mind Gary but he never occurs to me except when he’s promoting Masterchef.  But last week during some intense channel surfing I stumbled across Adriano on SBS and my oh my I was hooked!

Adriano is the perfect man.  He is handsome and he makes sugary treats – what’s not to like?  I love sugar.  I like brown sugar sprinkled on my porridge.  I like white sugar mixed with cinnamon and sprinkled on my buttery toast.  I liked sugar whipped with egg whites to produce a pavlova.  I like cakes.  A man who works with sugar because he wants you to put sweet things in your mouth, this is absolutely the man for me.

Last night Adriano was pulling sugar.  You may not think this sounds particularly sexy but my heart was all a flutter watching him stretch those hanks of coloured confection out, longer and longer.  His muscled arms, flashing the tattoos on his inner forearm pulled the sugar out, making it yield to his touch.  It left me weak.  A light sheen of perspiration covered his face as he explained the exertion needed when pulling sugar as he once again stretched it into submission.  He really is all I need in a man.

As if making fabulous desserts wasn’t enough, Adriano is, if you’ll forgive me, something of a dish.  He is olive skinned and dark eyed and completely has the bald thing working for him.  In a black t-shirt, he is nothing less than delectable.   I’ll bet he even smells like sugar.  Not being a “foodie” as such, I haven’t actually found eating to be erotic but last night, when Adriano was tasting the wares of his employees, he was just so manly about it.  No delicate little forkfuls for him, oh no!  He took large slabs of the samples put before him, using his hands to feel the food and then threw it all into his mouth to fully taste the desserts created for him.  I can tell you I came over all a quiver.  This was the sexiest experience I have ever  had when watching a food show and I honestly don’t know how his female employees weren’t swooning. I wonder if it is too late for me to become a pastry chef?

And so, I’ve finally found the right man for me.. okay, so he’s on the television.. and we are unlikely to ever cross paths .. so just like his Zumbarons and gateaux, it probably won’t hurt me to gaze upon such sweetness from afar.

*Photo borrowed from:  http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/zumbo

Mean Girls

Why are girls so nasty to each other?  What happens between the ages of about 8 and 12 that they go from being best friends five minutes after meeting each other, to being manipulative and cruel the minute they meet each other?  Is it a combination of what they see in the media and how they see the women in their lives interact?

I am loathe to admit it but I wonder at the behaviour of grown women sometimes, myself included, and think they we may be more to blame than we care to admit.  I recently watched on Ms 9’s first day at a new school as a really gorgeous and beautifully dressed woman tried to strike up conversation with one of the other new school mums.  The other mum, dressed in jeans and t-shirt like the rest of us, looked hard at this woman, offered a monosyllabic reply and turned away.  I could see the first mum looking a bit hurt.  Every afternoon since I’ve seen her at pick up standing a bit away from the other mums, which makes me feel sad.

In a small local boutique yesterday I was completely ignored by the owner and her staff.  I went in to buy shoes, a little fetish of mine, and this shop has a great collection.  In every other store I went to yesterday I was greeted in the friendly fashion I’m getting used to here in the mountains.  Not this shop though.  Both owner and her obnoxiously loud friend very pointedly looked me up and down and literally turned their backs on me.  Given that I have quite a thing for shoes it was a very big mistake on the part of the owner.  I searched on-line and found the shoes I was looking for and I won’t go back to that store.  What was so offensive about me?  I was wearing jeans and t-shirt and I am not a size 10.

On the television at the moment we are seeing tiny, skinny, over made up personal trainers tell terribly overweight and depressed single women (and men) that if they lose weight, they’ll find love. But not until they’ve been publicly humiliated and pitted against each other so that there can only be one winner.  There was recently a magazine cover for one of those awful women’s magazines, depicting Elizabeth Hurley and Shane Warne’s ex-wife in their swimmers declaring “bikini wars”.  Whether these two women are actually at war, only they can say for sure.  It is my opinion that Shane Warne’s ex is almost certainly at peace now she doesn’t have to worry about her husband’s constantly wandering eye!

So I think we set girls up early to be nasty to each other and it starts around age 11 or 12.  Ms 9 just started a new school and came home on the first day with 3 new friends.  By the end of the week she’d been invited to a birthday party and had a whole new social circle.  Ms 12 started high school and was immediately thrown into the cutthroat world of teenage girls where one wrong step can impact to the point that you are an outcast before you know what you did wrong.  Throw text messaging and social media into the mix and you are in a minefield so dangerous you barely know where to walk for fear of a catastrophic explosion!

I don’t know why this happens and why, to some extent, it follows us into adulthood.  One theory I have is that women are always set up to compete with each other.  As a divorced woman I often find that my single status alone is considered something that will make me a predator, seeking out other women’s husbands so I can seduce them.  This is absolutely not the case.  In the media we are shown pictures of women heavily airbrushed and told this is what you should look like, the worst of these are the “six week post baby body” photos.  We have television dating shows where hundreds of women are lined up and compete with each other to have a man they’ve never met choose them as their girlfriend/wife.

Is it any wonder that girls turn on each other?  This is what they see.  I am trying to teach my daughters to negotiate their way in the world without stomping on other people, especially other women.  To do this, I am taking a good look at my own behaviour. I am, after all, the first female role model they had and it’s up to me to do my best to show them the way.  Wish me luck because I am really going to need it!

The Quality of Being Resolute

I realise I’m a little late to the game being that it’s half way through January and all, but a word if I may, on New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t make them.  I used to.  Every year.  They generally involved something similar to everyone else, lose weight, drink less, and so on.  I usually started on the second of January.  Obviously I couldn’t start on the first due to being too hungover/full of food from the celebrations the night before.  Inevitably these resolutions were broken, usually by Australia Day due to there being some sort of drinking and eating type function in honour of having another public holiday so close to Christmas.

A few years ago I decided once and for all that resolutions are pointless and just another way of letting yourself down.  I wanted to stop putting this enormous pressure on myself to make huge changes in my life, which couldn’t be maintained and ended up making me feel like a failure.  Then I’d do that thing where you say “ well I’ve messed it up, I may as well starting drinking/eating/smoking again.  Hand me that case of wine would you”.   Instead I decided that in January, when we are given a fresh start, I would choose something that could be applied in lots of areas of my life.

One year I chose to be brave.  This gave me the strength to try for a new job (which I got), end toxic friendships (which was painful but got better fast) and to finally say no to my ex-husband’s constant demands.  Last year I chose to wait.  Wait before I jumped into a conversation.  Wait before I agreed to requests that asked way too much of me.  Wait before hurrying my children along when they were telling me a story, just because I needed to do some household chore.  This year, I’ve chosen to live my life differently.  Now obviously my life is already on a different track because I’ve moved to a completely new area, and I’ve got a new house to play in which is mine and therefore I can do what I want with it.  But I want to take it further than that and the beauty of doing things in this generalist kind of way, rather than setting myself one task (I WILL do 100 sit ups every day) means that I can build up over time, I can apply it where I want to and I don’t let myself down and give up before February!

So far the different things I have done have involved doing more baking so that there are healthy snacks in the cupboard, going for a walk every day, turning on the television less.  They aren’t huge things and they probably don’t seem like that big a deal to anyone else but I like that I’m doing something with the fresh start which comes every year, just after Christmas whether I want it to or not..

 

Adventures…

On my third night in my new house, in my new mountains surroundings, it occurred to me that if I were a “real” writer, I would probably have already begun documenting the move by now.  But then it occurred to me that next to death and divorce, moving house is the next most stressful life event and I decided to catch up on some sleep instead!

After many years as a dedicated city girl, also dedicated to bringing my children up as city girls, I decided it was time for a change.  Quite a change if you listen to the locals around here.  Although I am approximately one hour’s drive from the city (at least in off peak time), many of the very friendly people here in the mountains are stunned when I tell them I moved here from the inner west.

So far so good.  Despite the discovery of a resident blue tongue lizard and the local cats putting my moggy firmly in her place, I think we are going to like it here.

I hope there will be some of you out there who want to follow along with this new chapter.  Advice on mountain living gratefully received.