Happiness for sale $0.68 a kilo

Are you a morning person? Bounding out of bed at sparrow’s fart to achieve 12 things before tea and toast? 

I am most definitely not. 

When I’m working I am prone to calculate the precise number of minutes I need to hit snooze twice, then shower, dress, make coffee and get myself from home to the office, with no more than 10 minutes up my sleeve. 

At the moment, with nowhere specific I need to be every day, I’ve reverted to my naturally night-owlish ways. I’m writing this blog post at 11pm, and will probably be up for a few hours yet.  

On the downside of staying up late and rising later than most, there are some days where I don’t really “get going” until lunchtime. I may get some housework done, put the laundry on, or spend some time online, but these are kind of automatic pilot activities – which I can do in my pjs! 

This morning I decided to look over my budget. It’s not a bad fortnight, for someone getting by on less than half of the prescribed minimum wage. I worked out what’s left after I put the rent aside, split that into covering bills, groceries and such, and decided I was in need of a few bargain finds.  

After thinking I’d hit the jackpot with a Neighbourhood House farmers’ market (which I had to make three calls to find out wasn’t actually on) I decided to meander over to the local wholesale fruit and veg place. 

And here’s what I saw as I pulled up at the end of the dirt driveway.  


I packed my shopping bag with cauliflower and celery, ginger and garlic and carrots, all at great prices. The ginger was almost TEN DOLLARS a kilo cheaper than the price at Coles. TEN DOLLARS!! Buh-bye Coles produce department. 

The lovely gent at the door said he would be happy to slice the pumpkin for me (as I am not much of a 3.4 kg pumpkin wrestler) and it was waiting at the counter when I’d finished my awed lap of this mecca of fresh, local food. 

As I was paying for my veggie haul, I realised I also needed bread. Hey presto – they sell that too. So my total spend went from an astonishingly low $9.28 to just $11.08 – the large loaf of grainy bread set me back $1.80. I know, right?! 

The 3.4 kilo pumpkin I toted home cost me just $2.36!! For a whole pumpkin!! 

Money can’t buy happiness, or so they say. Well, it sure bought me plenty today!! The happiness of buying from a local producer, then coming home to make delicious pumpkin soup, from half of that beautiful pumpkin, which still had dirt on it (I wiped it off, don’t worry). 


And that my friends is how I found happiness for sale, at just 68 cents a kilo!! 

Where do you get your fruit and veg? Perhaps you grow beautiful food in your backyard or know a great local farmers’ market? It’s definitely worth looking beyond the neon lights of the big players like Coles and Woolworths, and checking out your local area for better quality and bargains, not to mention excellent service! 

There’s plenty of pumpkin still to cook. Got a recipe suggestion for me? 





Caravan Adventures – 70s style

It’s Flashback Friday over at Voicesof2014 and this week’s prompt ‘holidays’ had me rummaging around in my storage room for old photo albums. You may have seen a photo album at your nan and pa’s house – it’s kind of like a huge digital photo frame, but instead of the photos scrolling endlessly over an LCD screen, they’re stuck in a big, bulky spiral bound book under yellowing, striped plastic film. I know, right, so twentieth century!

I digress…. back to holidays. In my childhood, there were two types of holidays, fun-filled summers at Rosebud (totally awesome) or family car and caravan trips around the vast spiderweb of Victoria’s roads in the other school holidays. We went to Little Desert, Swan Hill, and loads of other places that have congealed in my memory into one long car trip, with endless fights over who was causing the most havoc in the back seat of the Kingswood, who got to ride up front in the bench seat, jammed between mum and dad, and how long until we got there.

I found this absolute gem of a holiday snap in one of my old albums.



As I recall, we were driving along happily, when the van started to swing strangely behind the bronze workhorse that was my dad’s beloved Kingswood. Snap, the axle went! Expletives from dad, I’m sure of that. He managed to pull over without rolling the van or killing all of us, quite a feat – and whipped out his mobile and we were back on the road in 45 minutes.

Not likely! This was the 70s my friend, where when you broke down on a country road, you had to wait around on the verge like a beatnick hitchhiker for a car to come by, flag that car down, ask them to call the RACV and then wait for help to come. So there we were, stranded by the side of the road, probably for several hours.

Apparently, we were west of Donald (I dunno – Google it) and can’t now agree on whether we were going to a destination, maybe Echuca, or coming home. Dad says coming home, so I’ll defer to his recollection. Here’s what I remember most vividly about the day – while we were awaiting rescue, lunchtime arrived. Not being one to do anything by halves, my mother required plates for luncheon to be served on (we probably had straz sambos with sauce). Where were the plates, in the damn van.


Now, in this photo, Dad’s done a bang up job of righting the van, which we’d borrowed from dad’s fishing/shooting/get me away from these bloody women and kids compadre Peter Cottrell. (Peter Cottrell could pass me in the street and I wouldn’t know him, but he looms large as my dad’s BFF then and now.) Before this photo was taken, the van was listing like the Titanic, at about 45 degrees.


Somehow I drew the short straw and was dispatched to the van, which was as hot as a camping oven, to scramble up the sloping floor and get the plates for lunch.


Hmm, if we’d thought that through, we may have realised that a severely listing van, plus the location of the plate cupboard (above the sink, on the high side of the listing van), plus the smallness of the child dispatched would result in plates raining over my head and all over the van floor. Honestly I can’t remember if the plates smashed or not, but for dramatic effect, let’s say they did.

Bloody plate shards everywhere! Shit! This was a disaster on equal scale to the snapping of the van’s axle.

The rest is fuzzy, but we finally got back on the road and safely home.

And those white posts with the reflective red thingamajigs you can see in the photo – they make great braces for busted vans, and they are certainly NOT still planted in my parents’ suburban backyard, 30 years after the Great Axle Snap.

Some kids probably went to amazing places like Disneyland – whatever. I’ll take my happy, crammed in the back of the Kingswood, with an ever expanding number of siblings memories over more ‘exotic’ holiday stories any day of the week.

God bless that Kingwood, and Peter Cottrell’s wonky caravan.



The Great Caravan Axle Snap of 1978-ish!

It’s Flashback Friday at Voices of 2014, and the theme this week is holidays.

I rummaged through old photo albums and found this gem. And here’s the sad, sad tale of a family trip gone awry.



Apparently we were north west of Donald, Victoria and coming home from a family holiday. I think we’d been to Echuca or Swan Hill, but I can’t pin it down. It must have been around 1977/78, which makes me about 9 or 10.

We were cruising along in the Kingswood, mum, dad, my brothers Darren and Michael, me and maybe baby Kristine (who can remember the specifics, it was at least 30 years ago)!

All of a sudden, SNAP, the caravan axle is gaawn (that’s gone for those who don’t speak Aussie).

Hours ticked slowly by on that country roadside, waiting for another car to come by, and stop for us, and agree to take a message into the next town to get the RACV to come out to us (which everyone did, peeps were friendly in the 70s), and I remember it was a warm day and we had been out there a while, so mum decided we needed feeding.

Somehow I was appointed fetcher of the plates. Seems an easy enough task until I reveal this shocking fact. At the time of the plate retrieval mission, the van was not in an upright position as it is in this photo. Oh no! It was listing like the Titanic, at about 45 degrees.

Blind Freddie could have seen what was going to happen, but he hadn’t come on this holiday with us (perhaps he got a better offer – Disneyland, Sydney?).

Into the van went I, no guide ropes, no head-lamp… and as I opened the upper kitchen cabinet where the plates lived….

SMASH! PLATE AVALANCHE! BLOODY HELL! I bolted from the van and was in trouble on two fronts, no plates for lunch, and busted plates all over the van floor.

Eventually, we were rescued, the axle was fixed and we were back in the ‘burbs where we belonged.

I love this holiday memory. And most of all, I love the fact that those white roadside posts that dad used to jack up the van are still lovingly planted in our backyard.

How good are holidays?






Autumn, how I love thee… let me count the leaves

It isn’t a new revelation but it is now OFFICIAL, I am utterly besotted with autumn. I’m in awe of the changing of the colours in the trees and the blue, blue sky. I’m a goner for autumnal beauty, and for the word autumnal. I think I know why the Yanks call it fall, because you FALL in love with the beauty and cleverness of Mother Nature, year after year. Swoon!

I took these today, and I didn’t have to search high and low or catch a plane, or take a four-hour train ride… it’s right outside my door. And it is GLORIOUS.

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There’s something about the vibrancy of the colours against each other – the red and yellow leaves against the too blue to believe sky… I just love it. These crisp autumn days make me so happy. They remind me that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Every year, sometimes early, sometimes late, but without fail, the trees put on this awesome display.

I took a photo of this amazing yellow frocked tree last year, in its autumnal glory, and as I passed it again today, I thought, look at that tree, it’s still there, still strong, tall and beautiful. It hasn’t uprooted itself in search of greener pastures, it hasn’t tried to change who it is, it’s not making apologies for the beauty it has, this tree is proud and shining. I think that’s awesome. Perhaps there’s something in that for we mere mortals, or maybe I’m slightly drunk on today’s sunshine and colours.

This tree is at home right where it is, quietly drinking in what it needs from the earth, and giving back to the earth, and it is majestically beautiful.

I think I want to be a tree when I grow up – okay, maybe not an actual tree, but to have a tree’s steady presence, to stand tall, to know my purpose and to let my colours shine. Trees take only what they need, and provide shelter and life and shade and beauty in the world. That’s not a bad checklist of ambitions is it?

Oh, and for bonus points, dappled light.

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Is it autumn or fall where you are? I’d love to hear about how autumn looks in your neck of the woods.


Annette x




The Secret Of Life – according to James Taylor

Today I’ve been out and about, which has been a fun way to spend my Saturday.

Some driving, shopping, chatting, eating and grocery shopping, and now some blogging. Perfecto really. I was very generously given a gift voucher to spend (thank you Claire!) at Harlow which is an awesome local fashion label for sizes 14 – 24 ladies. Luckily for me today is their monthly salon day, so I hopped in my car and trekked over to their Brunswick digs to try things on. I even timed it perfectly, and arrived just after a gaggle of ladies had shopped themselves silly. I was as excited about meeting the lovely Kerrie and Angelo, who are pouring all their passion and creativity into getting this label up and running, as I was about finding something new.

I came away with a great top, which I’ll probably wear to a wedding in a few weeks, and had a few chuckles and a lovely chat with Kerrie and Angelo while I was there. If you’re keen to support local fashion brands (which I hope you are), I highly recommend that you check out Harlow’s website. Their Aussie made garments are really great quality, and you’ll find their customer service outstanding.

A trip across town means tunes, and my preferred radio station is unabashedly Gold 104.3 – because it plays songs that transport me – to other places, happy memories, to the music video library that lives in my head, and I can often be seen singing along really loudly and as I do, I feel my happiness quotient going up, up, up, which is awesome. Combine that with gorgeous sunshine (at least when I set out on today’s jaunt), amazing tree-lined streets, and I was, and am, in a pretty great mood.

After my successful (and free!) shopping trip, I stopped in at a little corner cafe in a bursting-with-autumnal-gorgeousness spot, where I devoured a delicious vegetable frittata (so keen was I to chomp it down, that I didn’t even take a picture of it)! While I was enjoying my lunch, I overheard the girls at the next table earnestly talking about having dreams of demons and tsunamis swallowing the city (quiet eye roll), flipped through an issue of Home Beautiful, and then took another 10 photos of autumn trees and leaves as I meandered home.

I’m also doing something BRAND NEW today, and that is making chicken soup from scratch. You can find the recipe I’m using here. It’s the Pip of Meet Me At Mike’s variation on a Sophie Dahl recipe and I think it is going to be delicious. (Just had to check the chicken, it is getting crisp and SIZZLING and smelling amazeballs). The recipe involves croutons cooked in the tray that the chicken has been roasted. I know, right! Cannot Wait. But I will, I still have to complete phase two of the recipe.

So while I’m cooking, and typing this blog post, I’m listening to James Taylor and it’s transporting me back about 11 years (I’m utterly hopeless with specifics). This part’s quite convenient, as today’s theme for Claire Hewitt’s May daily blogging challenge is about being transported by music!

So, listening to James reminds me of this great story: I have some AMAZING  long time friends, let’s call them Craig and Bron, who are big time James Taylor lovers. As you can imagine, I was absolutely gobsmacked when my friend Craig called and said that he’d bought me a ticket to the upcoming James Taylor concert, and that he was going to surprise Bron by taking her, which meant all three of us were going to the show. O.M.G. The extra ticket was their gift to me, just because they love me. I mean, geez, couldn’t that just make you cry? Generous people ARE out there, and I hope you know some, and/or are one of them. As this was a surprise, Craig and I came up with a great ruse of them meeting my boyfriend and I (he’s long gone now, phew) for dinner by the Yarra, and then we’d make like we had to be somewhere else, and I’d sneak around to the Arts Centre and be there when Craig unveiled the surprise. The funny part was, that Bron was a bit cranky to have missed the concert (or so she thought), but we still had a pleasant dinner and her loving husband really pushed the limits by producing fake tickets to a James Taylor tribute show at the Sunshine Hotel (or something like that). It was hilarious. But not really. Anyhoo, as Bron and Craig walked around the corner to the concert hall, hand in hand, and she saw me, it started to dawn on her that we were GOING TO THE CONCERT!! So even though Craig was the mastermind, I bore the brunt of her shocked surprise and got pummeled in the arm! It was worth it though, to see her face and then Craig’s pleasure at surprising her. Naaw, ain’t love grand?


The concert was AMAAZING, as you’d expect. We had a sensational evening, friends being together, seeing and hearing one of the best singer songwriters of our lifetime, right in front of us. Thank you James Taylor. You are THE MAN. Click and sing along…. Secret O’ Life

The secret of life is enjoying the passing of time
Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it
Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill
Since we’re on our way down, might as well enjoy the ride
The secret of love is in opening up your heart
It’s okay to feel afraid, but don’ t let that stand in your way
‘Cause anyone knows that love is the only road
Since we’re only here for awhile might as well show some style
Give us a smile
Isn’t it a lovely ride?
Sliding down, gliding down
Try not to try to hard, it’s just a lovely ride…..

Have you ever  been part of a great surprise?
Got a concert memory you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it.


My date with Kate – how blogging has made me a serial blind-dater

As you know, earlier this year, I did the Blog With Pip course which enabled me to get I Give You The Verbs off the ground – yay! The next intake of BWP is coming up in May, so if you’re wondering, ‘should I?’, let me give you a tip – you should!

One of the unexpected, and very pleasing benefits of the course has been meeting some of my classmates in real life. I wrote about my first bloggy blind date here, and this week I went on my second. I’ve never been on a ‘real’ blind date in my life, but it seems blogging has me expanding my horizons, in more ways than one!

So, to date number two: Kate is a BWP classmate from Brighton, England and we clicked early on in the course. When I heard she was visiting Melbourne I thought it would be nice to see if we could meet up. Plus, I LOVE showing visitors around my home town, it’s kind of a sick lifelong obsession of mine. I love this city!

Kate and I texted, Facebook messaged, and emailed back and forth, working out what day of her short stay would suit her best, where she was staying and only getting as far with specifics as that  I could pick her up from her hotel. When I looked up the address of her Melbourne digs, I knew it rang a bell with me. Sure enough, the secretarial college that I attended in the mid-1980s is now a hotel! Kate was likely sleeping in a (hopefully modified) room where 30 years ago, I struggled with basic accounting, or blitzed shorthand. I’ve still got mad shorthand skills, FYI.

I was running early, a lifelong habit, so I idled illegally behind Federation Square, where I noticed a giant kangaroo. Do you see it?

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A few minutes later, I pulled up outside Holmes Secretarial College Kate’s hotel and after a moment of scanning the crowded street, Kate’s smiling face appeared in my window, she jumped in the car, I made a lame joke about Pip going to a lot of effort to start an international white slavery ring, and we were off!

We decided to drive across to Fitzroy, and after taking an inordinately long time to find a carpark, we went for a wander, stopping to take photos, and chatting easily about work, where we live, this and that. I think I was a bit nervous, because I regaled Kate with stories about my dad’s predilection for wearing really loud orange socks, how I suspect Our Tone is doing the Locomotion on the global stage and other weird things, things I drove home thinking why did you say that?, but hey, I’m a newbie at this dating game!

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I guess if I was really dating, I’d be pleased as punch that conversation flowed freely, we chatted about how much we had enjoyed Pip’s course, had other things in common, and both stopped to take lots of photos. It was an easy, relaxed afternoon, and Melbourne turned on a pretty nice autumn day, phew!

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How beautiful is this building? A bit neglected, yet its beautiful craftsmanship is standing the test of time, and the faded, almost illegible sign-writing on the sides of buildings like this – I’ve definitely got an architectural crush on this city. Click, click, sigh, click.

We popped into Arcadia for coffee, and treats. As evidenced below by the mandatory food shot for Instagram, it was a Portuguese tart for me, something for Kate, and a brownie for Kate.

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When we’d all introduced ourselves at the start of the Blog With Pip course, Kate had mentioned books she’d written, so I knew she was on an upward trajectory in her career, but I confess I didn’t ‘look her up’ again prior to our date – to me she was my writer-y classmate Kate, not an extremely successful author, with books on the best-seller list.

It’s funny how we associate people with the way we meet them, if I’d gone out with ‘Kate the author’ I think I would have been a bit of a wreck, but because I went out with Kate my BWP pal, I was able to be myself, and enjoy pointing out great buildings, parks and other landmarks as we meandered around to funky Fitzroy.

I’d call my BWP blind dates a real success, I think I’ve made some ongoing connections by stepping outside my usual comfort zone and meeting new people. There’s another meet-up for Melbourne BWP chicks in my diary, and I got to show a groovy bit of my beloved hometown off to a first time visitor. I’m proud to say Melbourne had bewitched Kate by the time she’d been here half a day, so I’m sure my tales about my dad’s blinding sock collection haven’t completely undone her fondness for my favourite place.

So, thanks Kate, I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your Australian visit. See you online again soon, and now that I’ve met you in person, I must get my hands on one of your books, maybe this one? And upon reflection, I’m glad I googled you after our date, not before, or I could have made a real nitwit of myself! You’re lovely, it was a pleasure to spend an autumnal afternoon with you.

For those whose curiosity I’ve piqued, I think you’ve probably heard of this one of Kate’s books.

If I was a gambler, I’d say the odds are 5:2.


Thanks Melbourne, you’re still my one true love.


Everything old is new again – a trip to the Antiques Bazaar

Today I ventured out to a hashtag I’ve seen recently on Instagram, #waverleyantiquesbazaar, which luckily for me exists in the real world too.

My friend Krissy and I wandered around for a couple of hours, and  didn’t see everything, or even half of everything on the floor.

Seriously, that place is HUGE!

Stall after stall after stall, row upon row, of furniture, bric-a-brac, clothes, glassware, junk, trinkets, tools, duck decoys, kitchen paraphernalia, ladders, jewellery, books, lamps and more – ranging from the ridiculously overpriced, to bargain finds.

Hmmm, can they really be antiques if there’s new stock arriving daily? Quite the conundrum! (I think it would be more properly named a Vintage Market, though the TYPO portfolio I saw didn’t seem very vintage-y.)

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These four items epitomise the variety in this emporium of domestic detritus – amazing and raunchy lamps, old jars by the thousands, a KILLER chandelier and a killed animal. The chandelier was really, truly amazing – my photo doesn’t do it justice.
If I was planning any kind of renovation that required lighting, this baby would be top of my wish list. She was beautiful.

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I think this was my favourite find of the day, because TYPEWRITER. And for bonus points, YELLOW. Swoon….

What occurred to me as we wandered around, oohing and aahing, sometimes in delight, sometimes in bewilderment, was that most of these items probably had past lives as functional, even mundane objects in people’s homes. All those jars and bottles, rotary telephones and telephone tables, the armchairs and dining chairs, lamps and pliers have belonged to someone, or a series of someones. They’ve been held, sat on, talked into, slept in, cursed and oohed and aahed over as brand new, possibly quite extravagant purchases. They’ve witnessed family celebrations and traumas, and eventually were discarded, as their usefulness expires, or  fashions change.

And around and around we go, things go out of fashion, then rush back in about a generation and a half later, and we’re out in droves on weekends to trawl markets, trendy strips of vintage furniture stores in the inner suburbs, or day-trip it out to rural ‘antiques’ hot spots, all looking for pieces of our collective past to decorate our oh-so-individual present and futures.

We’re creatures of habit, and seekers of treasure.


Some of my most treasured possessions are the ones with family history. I’ll pop a few pics up on Instagram, and tag them #familytreasurepics. Do you have anything in your home that belonged to your grandparents or parents?