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‘Having a two-year-old is like having a blender that you don’t have a top for.’ Jerry Seinfeld.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

For the past week my girls and I have been playing host to a lovely wee dog called ‘Cinder’.  I am not sure Cindy is quite two years old yet (she might be just short of that) but I have to say, after living in her exuberant wake for the past week, I reckon Jerry Seinfeld’s blender analogy is spot on . . .

Cindy has stayed with us before but not for a whole week and I was a little concerned about how that would go.  Earlier visits had only been for a weekend or a few days and I had been at home to supervise.  This time I was going to be out working for a good part of her visit, and, as anyone who has fur-children knows full-well, you are never entirely sure what’s going on at home when you’re not around.

I tried to prepare my girls for Cindy’s impending arrival with constant reminders‘Cindy’s coming to stay for a while.  You remember Cindy, don’t you?  She’s a lovely girl.  You liked Cindy . . . ‘ so they had plenty of time to brace themselves but, unfortunately, as little dogs are wont to do, they often hear only what they want to hear.  The look my my Mabel gave me when Cindy actually launched herself through our front door . . .

Now don’t misunderstand me, Cindy is a lovely girl and a very sweet-natured dog.  She’s polite, affectionate and well-mannered and there isn’t a mean bone in her body, but my girls are all grown up now (I still can’t quite believe they are all now classed as ‘senior’ dogs) and they like their little routines and their quiet life . . . and I guess we had all kind of forgotten just how much energy a young dog can have!

Take going for a walk, for instance.  Walking my girls these days consists of a short saunter to the park where I let them off their leads so they can bimble about in the undergrowth and check out (and pee on) all the new smells that have been deposited since our last visit, followed by a slow wander home.  It’s all quite sedate.  Not so this week . . .

I quickly discovered I couldn’t let Cindy off her lead at all.  I did try once, in the early early morning when there was nobody else around and I imagined there would be less to distract her.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  Apparently anything can distract you when you are not quite 2.  I spent the next 30 minutes trying to coax her to come back to me.  She would come juuuust within reach and then . . .  whoosh . . .  she was galloping off again, laughing madly as she went.  Cindy thought that was the BEST.GAME.EVER.  

(I, on the other hand, was terrified she would fixate on something really exciting and head off into the swamp . . . or the river . . . or across the road and down the street  . . . and I’d be left having to explain the dire consequences to her mum!)

But, differing energy levels aside, it was a good week.  My initial concerns about leaving Cindy alone in the house with my girls all day proved to be unfounded.  Apart from a couple of thoroughly deconstructed and de-stuffed doggie toys (it’s astonishing to me how much stuffing can come out of one little toy) and, on one occasion, coming home to a rather wild-eyed and ruffled Molly (who Cindy occasionally tried to use as her own personal squeaker toy) there were no major dust-ups or dramas and yesterday Cindy was delivered, happy, excited (and unharmed) back to her mother.

Today we are almost back in routine.  Most of the debris has been cleared away (although I am still finding stuffing in the oddest places), special favourite toys (which I had, thankfully, the foresight to store safely away before our visitor arrived) have been returned and much needed nap-time has been (and, in some cases, is still being) caught up on.

It’s all good.

Cindy—resting after from one of her romps around the park.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands—and then eat just one of the pieces.’ Judith Viorst.

Chocolate.  Mmmmmm . . .

Over the years I have done the old ‘I’ll-buy-myself-the-‘family block’-and-make-sure-I-only-have-a-small-piece-(or two)-after-dinner-and-it’ll-last-until-my-next-big-shop’ dance more than once.  It never ended well.

I would start with the very best of intentions.  I would eat one small piece of chocolate (slowly, slowly, savouring it, letting it melt in my mouth) and then another . . . and maybe just one more. Then I’d ‘be good’ and put the rest safely away and go do some reading, or work in the garden, or get out my sketchpad and pens and . . . nope . . . no good.   How could I possibly concentrate on anything else when there was chocolate in the house begging to be eaten?  It was beyond me.  I would invariably end up eating the whole block and then spend the rest of the day castigating myself (‘. . . this is the  very last time  . . .  I will not be buying any more . . .  no more . . . ever . . . ‘) while also madly trying to exercise my latest indiscretion away.  (Where was Dr Phil and his ‘How’s that working for you?’ when I needed him?)

Moderation does not come easily to me.  For some people it is perfectly sensible to have only one piece of cake, or one glass of wine, or to buy one pair of shoes at a time.  I am not one of those people.  I struggle against ‘wanting’ things all the time.  I want another sketchbook (although I still have a stack in my office that I haven’t used yet).  I want that lovely red sweater I saw on-line the other day (I already have a red sweater, although, in my defence, it’s not the same kind of red)  . . . and I want another puppy (sssshhhh, don’t tell the girls . . . )

I don’t need . . . but I want.

I am (slowly) getting better at wanting less.  Wanting less ‘things’ at least (although, puppies . . .  sigh . . . ) but I still struggle hugely when it come to food.   Especially sweet food like biscuits  . . . and cake . . . . and lollies . . . and chocolate.  I (usually) manage to keep these constant cravings at bayat home at least.  I just don’t keep any of those lovely sweet, sticky,  yummy things in my house.  Out of sight out of mind.  Right?  (Fair warning: if you come to visit me you will need to bring your own cookies with you.)   Most of time this strategy works . . .

. . . but not at Easter.  Easter eggs are my downfall.  The first Easter eggs appeared in our shops here right around New Year.  I remember thinking, ‘Well, that’s just rude.  It’s pure commercialism and I am not going to buy into it.’  And I didn’t.  I made sure to quickly avert my eyes every time I came across them (or hot cross buns) in the supermarket aislesI was not going to get sucked in.  Not this year.  I felt all very virtuous and pleased with myself.

And then two weeks ago one of our college students presented me with a great big scrummy chocolate Easter Bunny.  He was gorgeous.  I took him home promising myself I would not touch him until much, much closer to Easter.  Who was I kidding?  I don’t think he even made it to tea-time.  Sigh.

Since then other lovely friends have also gifted me with all manner of glorious festive Eastery treats.  So that’s it.  I’m done for.  Chocolate coma, here I come . . . 

Happy Easter All!

This is an example of what can happen when Sally is let loose with her kiddie paints while on a chocolate high.
It got a little messy . . .
🙂

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.’ George Eliot.

nothing to sayI have nothing to say this week.  How sad is that?  (Well, sad to me, possibly not to you . . . )  Seriously, I have been sitting here for almost a full week (although at the moment it seems much much longer) fingers poised over the keyboard, determined to start my next post and . . . nothing.  Nada.  Not a single idea.  (Well—not a single idea that I think anyone else might be interested in reading.  I have been tired and cranky all week but I didn’t really want to write tired and cranky things here—there is enough of that in the world already.)

So, rather than berate myself, I am just going to acknowledge the fact and give myself a break (you could probably use a rest from me anyway) but I thought it only polite to let you know that nothing would be forthcoming today—just is case you thought I was being rude and ignoring you all.  (You don’t really think I would do that . . . do you?)

I don’t even have any new ‘artistic insights’ to share with you (I haven’t done my art class homework this week either—sigh—head drops to chest) but, by way of compensation (although I am not sure that is the right word) here is a quick sketch I did last weekend, before the malaise descended.  I hope it will suffice until I can drag myself out of the mire.  (A slow weekend of chocolate, wine and cuddles with my girls will work wonders I am sure . . . )

See you all next week.  X

P.S.
‘Word Count’ has just informed me that it has now taken 289 words to tell you I have nothing to say.
George Eliot must be turning in her grave . . . 

img066

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Large, naked, raw carrots are acceptable as food only to those who live in hutches eagerly awaiting Easter.’ Fran Lebowitz.

bunny&crrot (2)I wholeheartedly agree with that statement (although don’t spread that around. I am still on my new ‘exercise and lifestyle’ program and whole, unadulterated ‘real food only’ is the mantra of the moment.  So—sssshhhhh).  I do actually like carrots as a whole thoughas long as they spiced, candied, glazed, roasted or caramelized—preferably with a full roast dinner to back them up.  If I have to eat raw carrots they need to be slathered in some yummy kind of dip, otherwise it’s like chewing on a grainy piece of stick—definitely best left for the bunnies.

(I wonder do rabbits actually like carrots?  Or do they just eat them because we think they should and so that’s what we feed them?   And does the Easter Bunny himself eat carrots do you think?  Or does he have some other special kind of diet?  Although he is a rabbit, he is also a rabbit who poops chocolate eggs. Which kind of suggests that his main diet is something other than orange and green and leafy . . .)

But I digress (and this early on in the piece that is not a good sign.  This could go anywhere . . . or nowhere . . . )

easter bunnyWhat I was going to start with was—I am not a religious person (the carrot thing was a bit random, I admit) so I don’t really pay much attention to the religious ramifications of the Easter holiday.  For me Easter means two extra days off work, hot cross buns on Friday and chocolate Easter eggs (and bunnies, bilbies or anything else chocolate) on Sunday (oh well okay—not only on Sunday . . . )  But I do realise that Easter, for millions of the more devout among us, is, and always will be, indelibly connected to the Passover and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  And that’s all good.  I get that.

But you know—and I never really thought much about it until this week—when did the bunny who poops chocolate eggs come in to the story?  I don’t remember reading anything about the Easter Bunny in Sunday School.  (I know what you’re thinking—it must have been a slow week in Sally’s head—but hey—I can’t always control the random thoughts and questions that pop into my head, okay?)

Anyway, I looked it up.  (Pay attention now, this may one day be really important.)   It appears that the Easter Bunny has absolutely nothing at all to do with the Bible (shock, horror) but began with the pagan goddess of Spring, ‘Oestre‘.  A festival called Eastre was held during the spring equinox by the Saxons in Northern Europe to honour her.  Oestre’s earthly symbol was the rabbit (and there’s your bunny connection) which was also known as a symbol of fertility (No?  Really? . . . )  

animated-picture-bunny-hopping-easter-eggs-basketThe first Easter Bunny legend was documented in the 1500s, and around 1680, the first story about a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden was published. The legend of the Easter Bunny bringing eggs appears to have made its way to the United States by early German immigrants around the 1700s.  The tradition of making nests for the rabbit to lay its eggs in soon followed and eventually, these nests became decorated baskets filled with colorful eggs, sweet treats and other small gifts.

So there you go.  The Legend of the Easter Bunny in 2 short paragraphs.

easterbuttObviously somewhere along the way someone had a merchandising epiphany and Easter eggs and other Easter paraphernalia now usually start appearing in the shops the day after Christmas and can still be found on the shelves the week before they bring the tinsel out for the following Christmas.  (And that is not a complaint, by the way.  I would be quite happy if Easter chocolate never came off the supermarket shelves.)

But I don’t want to keep you away from your Easter treats so I am going to sign off now and  wish you all, devout and pagan alike, a very happy Easter.

EASTER CHOCOLATE TIPS:
easterbulldog
If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you’re eating it too slowly.
Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices and strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as you want.
Eat an Easter egg before each meal.  It’ll take the edge off your appetite.  That way you’ll eat less.
If you can’t eat all your chocolate, it will keep in the freezer. But if you can’t eat all your chocolate, what’s wrong with you?
If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge.  Calories are afraid of heights, and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.
Chocolate has many preservatives.  Preservatives make you look younger.

and, finally, remember
There’s nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
(Linda Grayson)

easter-cookie_m

P.S.  On a more serious note—someone from Belgium regularly drops in to read my blog and although I do not know who you are I just wanted to say that we here in Australia have all seen the horrific scenes of what has been happening in Brussels over the last few days.  I just want to let you know that I, and many other people around the world are thinking of you all, and sending all good thoughts and prayers your way.  Be safe.
Perhaps the poor ‘dumb’ animals in this video link could teach us all a thing or two about living together in harmony.
 ‘We’re all in this together’
Sally, Mabel, Maude and Molly.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies.’ John Tullius

chocolate roseI’ve been thinking about chocolate a lot today. (Don’t look at me like that—I can think about anything I want to.) Chocolate. Mmmmmm. Just saying the word out loud can make me start to salivate.  Everyone knows (or at least they should know) that there are four major food groups—dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and anything else chocolate covered—and I try my best to include all these major food groups equally within my diet (you know, for the health benefits, like the flavenoids and antioxidants—which, by the way, are also found in red wine. 😉)

i_could_give_up_chocolate_greeting_cardAlthough I really do love chocolate (and I absolutely like to keep my flavenoids and antioxidants up) I do not consider myself a bona-fide chocoholic. I can actually go without eating chocolate for quite a long time. (I heard that. Don’t be rude.)  Well, in fairness, I guess ‘a long time’ is a relative term, but, honestly, I am talking weeks. I can actually go for several weeks without eating chocolate . . .

hearnoevil. . . if I don’t think about it at all, if I don’t have any in the house, if it isn’t offered to me in any way shape or hidden form at morning tea in the office, if I stick my fingers in my ears and close my eyes when the oh-so-many-deliciously-decadent-ads come on TV, and if I walk really, really, really fast past the confectionery aisle at the supermarket—it’s really not an issue.

countsassaladAnd even if it was an issue (which, again, it isn’t) I don’t think that people should get all ‘judgey’ with me anyway. There are worse things than being addicted to chocolate. At least you can’t get arrested for being addicted to chocolate. Well—yes—okay—I guess if I broke into the local Darrell Lea shop in the deep, deep, dark of night and loaded my little red car with boxes and boxes of chocolate covered bullets, or chocolate covered licorice, or chocolate honeycomb or rocklea road or caramel snows or . . . sorry . . . lost my train of thought . . . where was I going with this . . . oh yes  . . .

Cherub Chocolate_full (1). . . as I was saying . . . even if I did become a full blown chocoholic, it wouldn’t really be my fault—it’s been at least 2000 years in the making. That’s how long it has been estimated that chocolate has been around. Maybe not chocolate as we know it now—but chocolate nevertheless. Both the Mayans and the Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical, even divine, properties (and who am I to disagree? It has a heavenly effect upon me). Apparently it was also used in their most sacred rituals and it was even thought that Aztec victims were given it before they were sacrificed (possibly in an effort to cheer them up a bit before their more-than-likely-horribly-painful demise?)

moctezumaLegend has it that the Aztec king Montezuma welcomed the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes with a banquet that included drinking chocolatehaving unfortunately mistaken him for a reincarnated deity instead of a conquering invader. Oooops.  (Just in case you were wondering, the term Montezuma’s revenge alludes to this Spanish incursion and doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the actual consumption of chocolate. Phew.)

When the Spanish took the original bitter chocolate home with them they mixed it with honey or cane sugar and by the 17th century it had become a fashionable drink throughout Europe (for those who could afford it of course). Over the next few years the taste and texture was experimented with and it was a relatively short step to the creation of solid chocolate.  Then in 1847 Joseph Fry discovered he could make a molded chocolate paste, et voila, the first modern chocolate bar was born.  (Three cheers for Mr Fry!  And, on a side note, the modern-day Frys Cream Bar—yum.)

zombieeatingchocolateSince then the there has been a constant and relentless push to addict the whole human population.  And it’s working. How could it not? There is something out there for every taste.  Bitter, sweet, dark, light, smooth, rough, liquid, solidand everything in between.  And we have embraced the choices with alacrity.  Here’s a fun factevery ten years or so, a typical adult eats their own body weight in chocolate! No word of a lie. Typical chocolate consumption ranges from about 5kg a year in the United States to 9.5 kg a year in Switzerland.  That means you could eat a person’s worth in about ten years. (My apologies to those three (or four  . . .  or possibly even five) poor souls I have eaten over the years.)

chocoholic_homeSo, even if I were to become a full on, raging, rabid chocoholic, unable to go a day, or even an hour without tasting it (not gonna happen, ‘cos I can go weeks—honest—weeks) I would be in stellar company.  And more and more people join the chocolate-lovers-of-the-world-society every day.  Welcome!

 When I started doing some research for this article (and by research I mean actual research—not just taste-testing) I found lists and lists of holidays dedicated solely to the veneration and adoration of chocolate.  (They may not be holidays where we get an actual day off work yet, but surely that is something we can lobby for.)

Below I have listed just a few of these fabulous chocolatey holidays for you.  Pick your favourites and plan your treats.

And for those lonely few out there for whom the taste of chocolate does absolutely nothing at all —

mouse and cheese1. How weird are you?    and  

2. I bet I could so a similar search and find just as many holidays devoted to all the exceptional wonders of cheese . . . .  how does that sound?

Jan 1       It’s a Brand New Year
(excuse enough to eat any amount of any kind of chocolate as far as I’m concerned)

Jan 8       National English Toffee Day

Jan 10     Bittersweet Chocolate Day

Jan 27     Chocolate Cake Day

Feb 5       National Chocolate Fondue Day
(also World Nutella Day)

Feb 14    St Valentine’s Day
(any kind of chocolate day)

Feb 19     National Chocolate Mint Day

Feb 25     National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day

Mar 6       National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day

Mar 19     National Chocolate Caramel Day

Mar 24     National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day

Mar 28     National Black Forest Cake Day

EASTER!!
(Chocolate Eggs, chocolate bunnies, chocolate bilbos—
and Hot Cross Buns—’cos you can get chocolate ones of those too you know . . .)

Apr 3       National Chocolate Mousse Day

Apr 21       National Chocolate Covered Cashews Truffle Day
(cashew-truffles?  I didn’t know there was such a thing.  I’m feeling deprived.)

May 2      National Truffles Day

May 12    National Nutty Fudge Day

May 15    National Chocolate Chip Day

June 7     National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

June 11   National German Chocolate Cake Day

June 16   National Fudge Day

June 22   National Chocolate Eclair Day

June 24   National Pralines Day

July 3      National Chocolate Wafer Day

July 25    National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

July 28    National Milk Chocolate Day

Aug 4      National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Aug 10    National S’mores Day
(Mmmmm . . . s’mores . . . )

Sept 13   International Chocolate Day

Sept 22   National White Chocolate Day

Sept 27   National Chocolate Milk Day

Oct 14     National Chocolate Covered Insects Day
(seriously????)

Oct 18     National Chocolate Cupcake Day

Oct 28     National Chocolate Day

Nov 7      National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day

Nov 30    National Mousse Day

Dec 8      National Chocolate Brownie Day

Dec 16    National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day
(way to cover all your bases)

 and then there’s Christmas . . .

and then it’s New Year. . .

and then we can start all over again . . .

😀

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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