From little things big things grow…

So. I should be working but decided time was right for a cleanup.  I have a lot of those. Anyone who knows me in real life is laughing their heads right off now. I am renowned for filing things in the big bin but never emptying it. For piling things up until they fall over then putting more stuff on top.

Here is my reward for having clear and visible desk top.

This is a big deal in my cluttered office universe. Cluttered…messy….whatevs.

Pretty candleEnjoying it while it lasts … the candle, not the desk which I know from experience will not last. Frangipani.  My favourite.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all! A new year of creativity and fun awaits. This means you too!

Here are some sage words from Albert Einstein. Perfect. Unless you are a surgeon or an electrician, in which case disregard entirely.

Imagination is more important then knowledge (Albert Einstein)

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Fitz the wondercat

So… we had a pet Armageddon this year leading to a total absence of furry loveables in our house. After a period of weeping and wailing we decided it was time to start again and start we did with the addition of Fitz the (Fabulous and Tiny) Tonkinese.
Little kitten Kitten asleep, tinyA cross between a Siamese and a Burmese they really are an amazing breed.  Doesn’t everyone say that about their cat?  “Really…we have the most amazing cat”.

But in our case it’s true. Honestly. He FETCHES.  Like a dog.

Cat fetching a toy

And he’s a bit of a dude.

Cat with attitude, elbow up

Go Fitz.


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Well hello

Okay… yeah… well… *shrugs*

So it’s been a while.  Where does the time GO I hear you all cry. I don’t know either.

Hey, I joined Facebook.  You can see my Look Mama page here. Universe, please like me. I like you.

I have been there for about three days now.  My usual state of being is this….

Screaming woman

I think I’ve accidentally spammed my friends, I messaged someone I didn’t even know, I liked something so stupid I can’t even tell you what it was and then couldn’t make them disappear forever… and who knows what else.

My kids just look at me and laugh. Oh how they laugh.

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I’m not messy, I’m creative

Book cover: THe life-changing magic of tidying upIt’s no secret among those who know me well that I seem to spend a Great Deal of Time cleaning up. Yet, it would be fair to say, I always seem to be in a bit of a mess. When everything is looking good it’s at least a few percentage points worse on the “My home is a temple” scale than it was the last time I cleaned up.

It’s true that as a kid my dad gave me a t-shirt that said I’m not messy, I’m creative.  It had a cute Boynton pig on it all covered in paint. He also snipped a Hagar the Horrible cartoon for me that said something like “Oh I see you’ve finally tidied your room” … and all the stuff was in a big pile outside the window. As if I’d do that.  I used to sweep it all under the bed.

The very best cleanups occur prior to my mother-in-law visiting.  She’s great, I like her a lot… which might be why I put in an extra million miles of effort.  Just so I can go, “Sorry about the mess, been so busy”.  Ha.  She knows this.  I’ve told her.  She’s that kind of good.

So anyway…  I saw write-ups for “the life-changing art of tidying up”.  Then I saw this YouTube by the author, Marie Kondo.  She is cute as a button.  I just know if she came to my house we would be friends forever.  After I revived her from the shock of seeing my messy piles-o-stuff universe. And after she rescued me from under a toppled mountain of mess.


Yes, I’ve ordered the book. How could I not?

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The top 5 best ever gift wrapping tips. You’re welcome.

Beautifully wrapped giftsEveryone loves a beautifully wrapped present. They do. I, however, find that the shoddily wrapped present is also adored, especially by the children who have no appreciation of finer points and just want what’s inside. There is a certain joy in being able to tear through the wrapping and rip it to bits in unbridled eagerness to get to whatever is inside — plus, the big pile of shredded wreckage is the perfect present for the cat. Bargain.

I also feel chuffed at having saved myself $10 on designer wrapping paper and special ribbon.  I know, how tight is that? But I’d rather spend $5 more on the present. Then that’s $5 extra for you and $5 extra for me. You know it makes sense.

Whilst my favoured wrapping methods may be cheap, there is no excuse for them not to be fun. Top five wrapping tips are:

  1. The very best wrapping paper is newspaper. Kids particularly appreciate the cartoon section.
  2. Use much tape. In fact make your present look like it is laminated. Will guarantee lots of whining as people wait for their turn.
  3. When tying ribbons always use double or even triple knots. Hide the scissors on Christmas morning and watch people gnaw through the ribbon. Those shreds stuck in their teeth are hilarious. Extra points if Nana’s false teeth come loose.
  4. Disguise the gift. If it is an Eiffel Tower money box probably handy to use bubble wrap or a box so it is not immediately apparent as being the Eiffel Tower. Note: If the gift is a puppy or a kitten, bubble wrap is not recommended.
  5. Prolong the unwrapping experience. Wrap one box inside another, inside another > repeat. The excitement is palpable, especially after the third or fourth box.  Of course the best present after all that effort is something really little. Like a peanut.

For an unintentionally amusing video of how to wrap a gift “professionally” see here. Personally I think sticking the paper TO the present to get the creased “I paid for this wrapping” look is cheating. It also wrecks the box.

Luckily they have chosen to wrap their gift in a crappy Amazon box instead of taking it out first. Good to see I have some standards.

The beautifully wrapped gift image is from the Flickr stream of Premier Packaging
Note to family: none of your presents are going to look like this.

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Decorate a great Christmas tree without even trying (or caring)

Look Mama Angel's head

Don’t be afraid to use possessed ornaments.

Here we go again!

My friend’s Christmas tree is the tree of trees. It’s absolutely picture perfect. It matches. It has a theme. It is divine. Our tree, however, does not follow any of the standard rules for tree decoration. Our tree is a bit of an equal opportunity tree.

I told my tree-perfect friend to come and have a look. She said, deadpan, “I’ve seen your tree“. Ohhh-kay then. Each to their own. She takes the whole tree biz most seriously.

Well none of you have seen my tree and, since I haven’t put it up yet, I can’t show it to you in all it’s glory.  However, if you follow these simple steps your tree will be the spitting image of mine. Adopting a minimal care attitude involves much less angst and heartache than striving for catalog perfection.

Real tree or artificial? Several years ago during The Great Drought we opted for artificial. It’s bad enough when the needles fall off after two weeks, even worse when they fall off before you buy it. This year we thought about buying a new one or a real one but it seemed a waste of a couple of hundred dollars that we could spend on alcohol instead. Yes, that’s how we roll.

Under no circumstances opt for the “pine tree in a can” scent. It’s worse than toilet freshener and we used the rest of it up on the cat’s litter box. The cat then refused to use the box and we spent a week on a “treasure hunt” you don’t want to know about.

Colour theme. You can have any theme you like.  We find you can’t go wrong with multicoloured. This is also known as “eclectic” by those in the know.

Ornaments. Of course you can buy every manner of matching ornament and decorate with up-to-date modern style and flair.

Christmas ornaments

Don’t be afraid to add a touch of whimsy to your tree. And maybe a dash of the hysterical.

We choose to keep every ornament ever made by the children and hang them up year after year.  Not so much because we adore what the children made, but because they are in the box. And everything in the box goes on the tree. It’s a tradition and traditions are what Christmas is made of.

Isn’t our angel beautiful? Look how happy she is to see you, and see you she can see you boys and girls because she’s just a little bit possessed. Don’t be afraid, unless of course you are naughty, in which case she will fly into your room at night and… well, you don’t need to know the rest.

Look Mama! Angel

One year we did buy new plastic balls for the tree because I had some faintly ludicrous idea I’d do a pretty tree and not one that looked like a sparkly rubbish tip. Turns out they looked plastic but were in fact glass. Gave the cat a bit of a shock when he found out. He ran down the hallway with one in his mouth <so funny we cried, look at that we laughed> and proceeded to crunch it up in a bedroom doorway. We had glass in the cat’s mouth and glass in the carpet.  Tops. Cat was fine by the way, ornaments went in the bin.

Christmas ornaments

The less things that match the better

Lights—how many do I need? You need four thousand.  That is my absolute minimum. Our decorations may be a bit on the dodgy side but when those lights click on every evening you can’t see the decorations at all. In fact, if it catches you unawares you can’t see anything for a good 5 minutes.

As a final touch you can (after too many margaritas or a mixup in your meds) opt to hang a couple of birds from the roof near the tree and have them hold decorations in their beaks… maybe a bauble, maybe a string of beads.  This is very realistic and makes it look like the birds have decorated your tree for you. Under no circumstances use real birds. We are after Disney reality here.
Note: Too many birds may invoke an Alfred Hitchcock reality.  Also to be avoided.

If you aren’t going for the birds plummeting in from above the least you can do is run a train around the bottom of the tree.  Santa will love you for it. There’s nothing like stepping on a toy train in the middle of the night as you dispense the gifts under the tree.

So now you know how to make a tree every bit as beautiful as mine. Off you go to the garage or the attic to dig the dusty old Christmas bag out of the heap of junk it is under. You know there will be a tarantula hiding in there somewhere. Just when you think “Phew, no spiders”, it will leap out at you like a furry ninja. My last tip is to take a can of mace and a taser.  Good luck.

Cat and dog ornaments from the Flickr Stream of Patti Haskins
e other images are mine. I’m not even embarrassed to say it. Yep, that’s pretty much what it looks like, year in year out. And if you try hard, or rather not so hard,
yours will too.

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