Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Stinky Pact - Retro Post

Pinkster and I have made a pact; she cannot kiss any boy on the lips until her feet stink. And she has to go wash them first while she has a good think about it...

I would say 'not to kiss any boy at all - period' but she is half French so there's the double cheek kissing stuff going on and she has male cousins. She also takes this stuff SO literally.

So during one of those meandering discussions that I get roped into (like the petrol thing) ; Pinkster contorted herself into some sort of advanced Yoga stretch, sniffed her feet, and then asked me why only grown-ups have smelly feet. I told her that when you grow up your feet and your armpits get smelly.

It was bath-time and we'd just been watching Cinderella that ended, as all Disney Princess movies do, with 'the kiss' and 'the wedding'.  
The kissing and marrying thing has become another minor obsession, thanks to Walt Disney. (And to think we'd been concerned about Barbie movies).  

So she's in the bath chattering away about when she gets 'maaa-ried' and does kissing and I tell her;
"Not until you're grown up, my darling."
"Not until my feet stink?" she asks.
I have to laugh,"And your armpits too," I say.

She giggles and splashes around hunting for the sponge. "I'd better wash my stinky feet first.." she chuckles.
Sometimes we are so in sync with each others thoughts it's scary and both using our 'silly voices' we say pretty much the same thing at the same time:

"No one wants to kiss someone with stinky feet!"

"Or smelly armpits" I add, holding my nose.

Then she cracks up - laughing that laugh that comes right up from her belly and gives her hiccups.

Bath-time is often a kind of hostage negotiation. Nights like this it's a total riot.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kitty Craft

Hoarding is the Cat's meow...

I cant help but wonder, what life would be like without, packets of tiny pompoms, pipe cleaners, scraps of ribbon, random feathers and balloon sticks?

She-Who-Still-Worships-Pink broke The Six Million Dollar Kitten’s favourite toy this week and she was distraught - far more so than the kitten, April.

But mummy-fix-it, pulled out a hollow plastic stick, that had previously held a balloon, and within seconds the Cat’s wand was longer, stronger and swishier than ever.

You may consider yourself a hoarder, you may even have saved the sticks that hold non-helium balloons. But I bet you haven’t thought of saving those annoying ribbon loops that you clip out of the shoulder seams of your new sweaters though - eh?

Didn’t think so.

One of the easiest fastest and most gratifying projects we took on this school holiday was making cat wands.
Pinkster had a play date with another cat owner and, following on from our successful fix of the broken wand, the girls spent hours designing and making new wands.

The filles and felines were united in their mutual delight.

Cat toys from scraps of everything

With our many, many trips to Bunnings hardware lately (three of those just on the picket gate procrastination project) and Pinkster's enduring balloon fetish, we have many many sticks saved up. 

We also have a take-out container full of ribbon scraps, many clipped from the shoulders of new sweaters.
There’s another container of random items like feathers, odd beads and a small tub of googly eyes - another full of pompoms.

Here are some of the tips ideas the girls came up with making wands with ribbons - wands with insects attached to the end of twisted pipe cleaners - and combinations of both.

  • Everything holds together better (and neater) if you can get it all into one end of the balloon stick. Wooden skewers are good for stuffing it all down the chute then plug it up with glue.
  • Two pompoms either stitched or glued well together with either googly eyes or two smaller pompoms make great little insects. Stitching makes a more durable toy and you only need run the needle and thread through the centre of the pompoms and back.  If you want to add legs you can glue or just these in between pompoms. (see below)
  • Apply a blob of glue onto the end of a pipe cleaner and thread it into one end of a balloon stick - once that's dry wrap it evenly around a pencil to make 'the twist'. Making a small loop in the other end of the pipe cleaner (I use jeweller's pliers) gives you something to sew your bugs onto.
  • Another bouncy bug style uses a length of shirring elastic. (see below) Shirring elastic is safest because it breaks more easily which is what you want with any cat toy that may get wrapped around their necks. (ideally don't make them too long for that reason; maximum 15cms)
bouncing bug on shirring elastic with ribbon legs

As an aside; I have to say I'm really loving store bought pompoms; there's just so much you can make with/from them, like Pinkster's microscopic cat from this post.

We have however been making our own adorable pompoms: if you missed the PomPom Pups in tea-cups post click here

linking with Amanda Jean's Friday Finish

Linking with Craft Frenzy!

Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


School run at a snail's pace

You know those notes that keep turning up in the school bag? The ones that remind you to have your child at school before the bell?  We get them a lot. They come in many, bright colours - so that they get noticed and read.

"Dear Parent, please ensure your child arrives promptly for a  9:10am start. 
Late arrivals are not only a disruption for the child involved, but the whole class is also disturbed as they wait for instructions to be repeated..." And so it goes on, generally for another paragraph. 

So these notes are working on the assumption that it's the parents who are tardy, disorganised, late sleepers.  
<Clearing of throat> 
I beg to differ.
I don’t know about you, but I have a child who could win a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the slowest consumed slice of toast. Forty five minutes remains her record; thirty minutes is the norm as she says "I'm full!" halfway through.  Ok it is thick cut raisin toast topped with mashed banana but seriously; just two corners? That's it? And that took half an hour?

I have to nag and nag and nag...

Can you PLEASE hurry up? You're moving like a SNAIL!

‘Put your shoes on!' proceeded by the mandatory 10min follow-up: 'why aren’t your shoes on your feet yet?'

Any my old favourite; 'Brush your teeth!; that toothbrush only works if it's in your mouth and moving!'

Four years with a mouthfull of choppers you'd think she'd grasped the concept by now.  
Nope, she still thinks that wandering around the bathroom waving her brush around in the air, like a frenetic conductor at the tail end of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture, is actually doing anything but driving her mum nuts.

I’ve even stooped to tacking ‘I am BEGGING you!’ on to the end of my repeated requests. So I told her this morning about the notes. And how parents get the blame for their kids being late.

She was mortified: ‘ YOU get in trouble when I dawdle?!’  
She takes school notes more seriously than Moses took the Ten Commandments.

So running now for the school gate, she shouts me a promise over the booming peal of  the school bell;
‘I promise to try not to dawdle anymore mummy.’

I know my little angel sincerely means this, but she’s seven…

I won’t hold my breath.

the rugrat's snail rodeo

Monday, July 6, 2015

Pup in a Tea cup

awww cute tea-cup-pup
One good thing about my not having sponsored posts is that when I write about a product, you know that I've been motivated purely by my need to share in its awesomeness.  So let me tell you this one is a gem and after learning the technique it inpired my 7-year-old to make up her own designs...

She-Who-Still-Worships-Pink found this wonderful Pompom Puppies kit, in a local book store, and not only has given her hours of delight, but it's been a stand out winner for birthday gifts. The parents of the recipients may not thank me for the mess, but what little girl doesn't like this tri-fecta; making stuff, puppies and soft toys?
The kit contains everything you need, instructions and materials, to make your own collection of puppies.

Pompom puppies kit contents

Be warned though, these projects are something you'll need supervise and/or  help with; for under-nines.  Tying off pompoms can be very tricky and the trimming instructions, especially on the tri-coloured pups, take a bit of concentration and patience. But the results are uber-cute. I would suggest anyone start with the Chihuahua.

Pinkster has made up some of her own, her first attempt at design was the little blue pup below, with hand-made felt eyes. We've also been up cycling cat food tins to make tea cups.

blue puppy's eyes are made from black felt circles with a tiny dot of white paint.

I've shown her how to cut out the ears more efficiently (so as not to waste fabric) and how to part and position the fur before gluing eyes and ears on.  Now, so long as she has help tying off the pompoms, at seven years old she can pretty much handle a single colour puppy by herself.

If you're looking for this kit, we seen it in good bookstores and toy stores all over and if you Google it, you'll find loads of sellers on the Internet.

Friday, July 3, 2015

On the House

One minute we're enjoying a movie and Suddenly we're Building ...

Now that Pinkster and I watch 'some' of the same movies, I came across and old favourite of mine starring Jennifer Garner and Mark Rafallo: Suddenly Thirty (Also known as 13 Going On 30).

It's about a typical preteen girl who wants more than anything to be grown up and popular. Thanks to some magic wishing dust, she wakes up the next morning; a 30-year-old, successful magazine editor, friends with Madonna and dating a famous hockey player. Terrified, she asks her personal assistant track down Matt, her best childhood friend, to try and figure out what happened. 

It's a cute and engaging story with a very self-empowering message at it's core, so it ticked all my boxes.

Pinkster loved it: She loved the music (there's a wonderful dance party sequence to Michael Jackson's Thriller), she loved the story, also the idea of stuffing tissues down your top, but most of all she loved  'Jenna's Dream House'.

Jenna's very best friend Matt, gives her a dream house he's made himself. He's included a miniature of her and everything she wants for when she's grown up including her favourite pop-star sat on her sofa.

Suddenly this has become our school holiday project.
Off to Bunnings hardware once again to buy balsa (craft) wood, PVA glue and teeny tiny nails, although we soon discovered cut down tooth picks work much better.

Pinkster's Dream House - a Work in Progress

As you'd expect, Pinkster is as tough an architect as she is an art director: she wanted a fridge with opening doors and shelves inside (!!) - 'sweetie, they just don't make hinges that small!'  (the appliance is only 4x1.5cm)

I'm quite proud of the bathroom vanity and concealed cistern toilet which is a replica of the one we had designed during the Flat Out apartment renovation (feel free to click the link and compare).

But she hasn't assigned all tasks to me; she made Snowy her cat of the future..

I'm quite proud of her ingenuity of design here; putting two of the tiniest pom-poms together on a toothpick and gluing on a bead for the nose. We added another half toothpick, poked though and trimmed and painted the ends of those to make Snowy's ears.

Later in the week we added some essentials to the living areas, Harry Potter on TV (her new favourite), some books and an Adirondack lounger for the conservatory.  We've borrowed some garden accessories from the Sylvanian families (who may end up moving in).

We still have to make some figurines, using photograph cut-out faces.  She can't decide if Thor will be one or the "Mystery Boy" from school she has a crush on. Unless the next school newsletter includes Mystery Boy's photo from the recent eisteddfod, it may just have to be Thor. Or perhaps Harry Potter - although she says he's not funny enough to be a good boyfriend. Funny is her romantic priority, then kindness then good looks. That's my girl.

She's promised to be more hands on on this project and make all the soft furnishings and help paint and decorate.

We'll see..

Thursday, July 2, 2015


No one does Avoidance like me; forget false modesty - I totally rock at it.
Talk about your serial procrastinator - I can really pump up the 'pro' in pro-crastination and my typical delay tactics usually involve power-tools.
I will build a fence or paint the house or landscape the garden before I get on with doing what I should be doing to earn a living.

But no more.
I've made a career changing list.
I wrote it down on my Kiki-K weekly-planner last night which I then dutifully broke down into daily tasks:
  1.  Notes to read through from my photography course;
  2. Canon software to load on my laptop for my new camera (actually I've had it quite a few months now);
  3. Image editing software to download and practice;
  4. Edits to my Linked In profile because it's a shambles that makes a mockery of my claim to 'creating clean compelling copy to tight dealines' (there is nothing clean or compelling about my Linked In profile) and don't even talk to me about deadlines; mine are floating bits of mist wafting around in the fog of my motivation.
  5. Work on my novel which is in the home stretch (and must NOT remain there for another six months - or else!) What?
  6. Add some blog posts, (if I intend Rugrat Rodeos as a showcase my prolificity in writing and ideas generation, then maybe future online editors should be able to see more recent posts than er, last April?)

So today I had a plan.
A clear cut and productive plan to clip the jumper leads on my (not-so-much-lately) brilliant career.

What's that I hear? The council guys scraping the bins around, so after reviewing my plan, I nip outside to quickly bring them inside the gate.  (the bins, not the guys - friendly as they are)
While swapping the bins over I bump into my new neighbour.
'What are you doing today', she asks.
'Oh I've made a list' I say crisply, nodding; 'Working through that, you know..lots to do... 
Hey would you like to come in for a quick coffee?'
I insisted on making her two.
After she left I finished putting the bins in the side passage and then I noticed the lawn!
Had it only been two weeks?
Putting the mower and the broom away I looked at my watch in horror.. what about my list?
But look, now it's lunchtime...
Thanks to Mister Frenchie I scored a new office chair. A very cheerful Kermit green glossy chair. But now I'm thinking: it would look very much nicer with a brighter seat cushion; a bit of colourful padding, maybe some retro, 70's style psychedelia. I could just whip over to Ikea... wouldn't take that long...

I have made an art form of procrastination.

Every time I have work to do that may actually eventually generate cash income, I feel suddenly compelled to build something, or clean the oven, the house, the yard, the pets beds, or even the pets themselves... I have very clean pets. Ooh that reminds me I need to take the dog's clean bedding out of the dryer.

So last week I made a gate!
I couldn't possibly get going on my writing, reading notes, or playing with my camera equipment if every time I stopped for a coffee I had to look out of the kitchen window at that monstrosity my neighbours called a gate.
You see it wasn't even entirely my own gate.
But it was a rusted  patched up cyclone wire mess hanging off an even more rusted tubular frame. It's been bothering me for four years!  An complete eyesore, clinging limply onto a post that is leaning over so badly it looks like it was trying to divorce the smelly old wall it was attached to.  How could I be expected to be creative when that was my coffee-break view?

So I pressed the pause button, yet again, on 'The List' and headed off to Bunnings hardware for pickets and brackets and basically any other hardware that took my fancy. (There are lot of jobs to do around this old house.)
I had a few return visits to the hardware store, for touch up paint and one more picket.
Then I right into the painting of it.
It looks lovely. Really.

My four hour extreme gate makeover*
 Well at least I've written two posts today, I've packed away my sewing projects, tidied the office, put away the filing, and shelved the psychedelic cushion idea for another day.

I will NOT give in to the urge to redecorate my office; I don't need an office, if all I do in it is tidy and decorate. I will not offer to fix the neighbour's fence so it looks as good as the gate. Not necessary. And they're renting from an awful stingy landlord anyway..

Avoidance stops here!
At least I've done two things from my list: two out of five isn't so bad is it?

high saddle clamp

*It is a damned shame I neglected to take a before shot, because this was one fast, sexy and easy-peasy gate makeover - where the four hours included shopping.   I used 7 pickets, 21 saddle clamps and one can of Dulux Ironstone Spray enamel. and of course a bunch of screws.

Most appropriately I'm joining Amy's Anti-Procrastination linky

Mummy Mondays: Always!

another fun linky...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Firing Questions

Seven-year-olds can fire questions faster than semi-automatic assault rifles... 
But this time, my oh-god-it's-not even six-thirty-no-coffee response hit pay-dirt..


The interrogation started like this:
"Mummy, what is your favourite food in the whole world?"
No brainer: 
'What's your second favourite food?'
Fortunately for my caffeine deprived state, another no brainer; 
'Your grand-mère's Pastillia'
'What's THAT!?
I'm on auto pilot - my stomach is doing the talking; 
'Its a traditional Moroccan pigeon pie except grand-mère makes it with chicken - it's delicious  and amazing.'
She shrugs. 
''Ok. What's your third favourite food?'
My stomach riffs on the theme, thinking of Bordeaux and the other lovely food we enjoy at my mother-in-law's table. Dropping a capsule in the Nespresso machine I say, 'Saucisson.'
'What's your fourth favourite food?'
My stomach still dreaming of Bordeaux takes another pass from my brain; 'pâté'
I'm beginning to wonder how long this line of questioning can possibly go on, but my brain leans in towards the coffee aroma in anticipation.

But by the time I take my first grateful sip of coffee, she's wandered over to her homework book on the dining table and is distracted by some math equations.
'Mummy How do you spell multipleoccasions'
Caffeine now skipping gaily through my scull is shouting time to get up everybody and jabbing it's delicious fingers at my synapses.
'Do you mean multiplication?'
She looks at me, slaps the top of her head and giggling, pulls a face.
Random questions. Lots of them. All of the time
The most enjoyable and entertaining questions are the random ones. They can take off in the oddest directions often winding up on another map entirely. One minute you're noticing a table someone's thrown out onto the curb and within moment's you've covered topics like recycling, poverty and social services, even the government's stance on deforestation and it's impact on the environment.
We got into another discussion on the latter when I asked her not to use sooo much toilet paper (we also touched on plumbing with that too). She told me that she wanted to be an environmentalist when she grew up after that. Not a plumber - no way! I think there's more money in plumbing, but not having bills or credit card statements she can afford to be totally altruistic.

Mummy, how do you spell ---?
Now that she wants to be an author, she wears my nerves thread-bare with 'how do you spell--?' questions.
She'll be writing another book and the how-do-you-spells will go on and on, through cooking dinner, while I'm vacuuming, feeding the pets, hanging the washing on the line. She's relentless - she'll keep it up for hours.

Well I hope she does become an author, rather than a vet, or an environmentalist, or a zoologist, a director, a superhero or a pop-star because I intend relating these stories to the media at her first big book launch.

But this weekend I hit pay-dirt indeed with her favourite food cross-examination: she railroaded her father into taking her to the Sunday fishmarket!
for Sunday lunch we had fresh lobster, prawns, muscles...they even found saussison and pâté!

sharing the linky love

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Imperfect Parent

She-who-no- longer-worships-Pink-In-favour-Of-Animal-Prints (lets just call her Little Cheetah because that's her latest animal and fashion obsession) has decided that Mummy needs a reward chart; to keep her on track in this parenting gig.

I am breaking rule after rule, making a multitude of rookie mistakes and well, generally behaving (especially around bed-time) more like the teenage babysitter than the mummy person.

And the films I watch with her; the M rated films!  Yes it's true. As long as there's no blood, gore dismembering or gratuitous swearing or sex scenes, she's watching them with me:
Thor 1&2, The Avengers (she's a big fan of The Hulk), Suddenly 30, While You Were Sleeping, and tonight we watched Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.

So I am to make a reward chart like hers, with sad faces for crimes such as -
- leaving her school bag at home,
- hitting her in the head with the hair brush,
- pulling too hard brushing her hair
- and tonight's crime: exciting the child right before bed.

We'd just finished watching Lindsay Lohan in Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen and she was dancing around the living room. I had this sudden urge to show her what real dancing was.

I turned  the final dance scene of Dirty Dancing;.  I gave her a quick background about the 17-y-o girl who'd been taught to dance by the nice boy everyone thought was a not-nice-boy and how they had fallen in love but never could execute "the lift" even with lots of practice.

So at five minutes to bed-time we've created a dance party and even the orange dog has joined in.  We shrieked, we sang along, we cheered when they made the perfect "lift". We had a ball, and my girl was so excited that after all their mistakes and trying that they got it in the end.

As we cought our breath, I explained the my Little Cheetah the basic rule of parenting; how parents are not supposed to over-excite their children before bed. Calm bed-time routine etcetera, etcetera.
She grinned at me and said "Oh-oh!"

So then we came up with the idea of a reward chart for me.

<sigh> In fairness, I'm getting better at getting her to school on time (even if I have to make a rare trip home for the school bag and sneak it onto her peg while she's in class) the lunch box is packed and she has shiny polished shoes and some sort of hair-do every day.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Persona non grata


“In a show of our good manners and breeding we are extending you a  dinner invitation (albeit indirectly and as an after-thought).  

Really hoping you can’t make it… “

When I found out that the dinner invitation to Eurostars’ wasn't even firsthand but came through our friends who were coming to stay with us.  :0/  We decided we were busy that night.
(Had a pile of shoelaces to shampoo actually)

Who asks someone over for dinner who lives under 20klm away via a family in Europe?? Is it just me or does that just scream of "oh well I guess we're obliged to include you, but maybe you'll get the message anyway and NOT accept..."

Both Mr Frenchie and I had worked with the husband over several years and two continents and we kept in touch. We all travelled out to Australia around the same time, and I’d welcomed her to Sydney with open arms, genuine sympathy and a much needed ear; it was such a culture shock for this princess; the transition from Holland Park London to Malooloobah Queensland. But despite the friendly support, seems I will always remain persona non-grata to Princess Eurostar.

Then some more ex-colleagues came down under for a visit, and the Euro Stars wanted to have them to dinner at the mansion.  So they were invited.
But ‘Awkward Much?’ The dinner party would be during their stay with us and after a heavily pregnant pause, eventually it was extended to include ourselves.
It didn’t come directly, but through our visiting colleagues after they’d been staying a week. Kind of a case of;  ‘oh why not ask those two if they can make it as well.’

Why not indeed. Like I said; many dirty shoelaces to attend to.

Well the last time I’d seen Princess Eurostar it was at another ex-collegue’s cocktail party. She was making sociable noises in my direction that night.

That is until I found myself in a Mr Darcy eavesdrops on Mrs Bennet moment.

Someone had asked me how my book was going and I ended up in an animated discussion with the hostess about my writers block of the moment; which happened to be my difficulties with writing sex-scenes.

Euro-princess dropped her mask on the floor; her beatific smile turned to a look of someone whose Louboutins  have just sunk into a steaming pile of dog poo, and she shot off like a racing greyhound.
(she's certainly built for it)

And while the hostess and I really bonded (and I got some great sexpirational  tips from the saucy minx) Eurostar kept her distance the rest of the night has continued giving me a wide berth ever since.

I am the social equivalent of a steaming pile of dog pooh, apparently.  That's Cool.


This clip is for all the lovely genuine and supportive friends I’ve made and kept not just from my years in Europe but also since my arrival down under, who still like me very much  just as I am. 
And that setniment runs both ways xx