Archive | November 2016

My chicken soup

I am going through posts I have written but not got round to posting this year. (Hence the rush of blog posts.) And here’s a gem for those needing a simple soup. I wrote it in winter. Not much use in summer now. Oh well. 

I’ve previously posted my favourite, and oh so easy, pumpkin soup recipe. Here’s my chicken soup recipe. 

It’s quite versatile. You can serve it with toast, bread, rice, noodles. More meat, less meat. Take out the meat and use the meat for salad or sandwiches, leaving the broth. I give a leg to a hungry son to make him happy. 


  • One whole chicken
  • Litre of Campbell’s Real Chicken stock and extra water
  • Chopped veggies of choice – I use couple of big carrots, an onion or leek or spring onions, celery. I have used wilting stalks of celery. Great to use up past-their-best veggies. Make sure you use things that don’t ruin the clear broth and hold their shape in long cooking. So no mushrooms. 
  • Bay leaves (about three or four) 
  • Whole pepper corns
  • Water 


I have cooked this in a slow cooker. (Good because it cannot boil over or burn but takes ages to get going.) I’ve cooked this on the stove top. Same same. 

  1. Put chicken in pot with Campbell’s real stock and some extra water. I just do it not look. 
  2. Add herbs and vegetables. 
  3. Add water to cover. 
  4. Bring to boil and simmer for hours in the slow cooker or one and a half to two hours on stove top. 
  5. Remove chicken, shred meat and add as much as you want back. 

Schimple. Why did I take so long to realise it was so easy?

Assaulting our senses and sensibilities

Shop windows loud with placards so exclamatory they make one’s eyes jump. (Thank you J.B.Priestley for that phrase. I love the “with placards so exclamatory.)

I’m not a frequenter of shopping centres. The noise, the crowds, the commercialism rankles me. I tend to limit myself to my minor Westfield shopping centre – it has enough choice for me – and within that centre I tend to limit myself to one department store. The one that plays gentle music and has more open space and fewer people. Even so, going once every ten weeks is enough for me. Add to this going once every ten weeks into the city. 

I hate the visual pollution of shouty shop signs. 

I could never work in sales. I’d be telling people they don’t need to buy. And, indeed, they shouldn’t go into debt to buy whatever it was I might be selling. This product wont give them happiness. Go out and do something. Go for a walk somewhere nice in the fresh air, close to nature. Read a book. Talk to family friends. 

Though all this aside, I can shop with the best of them. And I just bought a CD of a local up and coming artist (Alex Lahey, listen to her on YouTube) from the shop in the picture above.  Ahhh, inherent inconsistencies, I embrace you. 

But let’s make a start and not buy from any shops with shouty placards so exclamatory. 

Down with visual pollution!

The day I thought I was choosing a blog title but was actually choosing how I was going to live.

I was chatting via text with a friend. I asked her… actually here’s the conversation thread. Why bother retype it?

Now in her defence, we had been discussing the book I was reading and how it provided food for my blog. And she did provide a couple of blog titles:   A Perfect Day for Scones and Assaulting our Senses and Sensibilities. 

So how are you feeling today? Active with the activists? Or would you rather be like Mercester and choosing a blog title? Or would you rather be disappearing in a good book?

I do so have good intentions in being more active in my local community. Protecting the trees. Protecting heritage sites. And so on. I know if I commit, I just won’t have the time and energy to sustain a commitment. 

One day. 

Peace – curses to the internal combustion engine. 

I love watching the English TV show “Escape to the Country”. Like many millions of others around the world, I imagine myself in any number of “character-filled” homes near a lovely village. 

But I am always amazed that even when they are seemingly in the middle of the countryside, you can hear the roar, sometimes distant, sometimes close by, of a busy motorway. 

Why would I want to live in the country and hear the constant noise of traffic?

Is there nowhere in England that the peace of total quiet can be heard? 

My current friend, J.B. Priestley (OK, he’s not my friend but I really like his book that I have referred to before) opines that quiet “is the most luxurious commodity on the world. I doubt if wealth can buy anything better than a little extra privacy and quietness.”

I know, I know, people in glass houses etc etc. The car has given me wonderful holidays and access to quiet, peaceful areas. And my two huge road trips in the last two weeks’ break obviously come at the expense of someone’s peace and quiet, not to mention all the pollution. 

I live near one of the noisiest roads of Sydney. I no longer hear it or the trains that run between me and the noisy road. Unless there is an especially noisy train or truck. 

I do love to escape noise. Hard to imagine that in the early 20th century, according to Priestley, they thought modern transport was too fast for humankind to deal with. Too noisy and too fast pace. They feared mental distress. And there was Priestley, never thinking we’d get to over a hundred kilometres an hour. And how prescient is Priestley with this idea:  No that we are whizzed about the world, there is no time for absorbing and adjusting. Perhaps it is for this reason that the world that the traveller knows is beginning to show less and less variety. By the time we can travel at four hundred miles an hour we shall probably move over a dead uniformity, so that the bit of reality we left at one end of a journey is twin to the bit of reality we step into at the other end. Movement but no real travel. 

Anyone stuck in airports will know this is so.

But back to cars. 

On our road trips, I hate it when Mr S stops for a tea and sandwich break by the side of the highway. I’d rather drive a little off the main road, and drink my tea without the sound of traffic. 

So my dilemma is: where to live when I love the culture, restaurants, libraries, theatre, people watching of urban life but hate the noise of traffic. 

My recent trip to the northwest of the state was heaven. Peace and quiet. But I know while I dream of living in such a peaceful place, after a few days I’d dream of leaving. 

Are you suffering nervous distress from the speed and noise of modern transport? And where do you sit on the Quiet Country/ Busy City dichotomy? 

Tell me your thoughts. And if you live on the east coast of Australia, or even better close to Sydney, where should I live?

The best and worst of a Sydney weekend

Best: On Saturday, I went to the theatre. Saw A Flea in Her Ear. A funny romp put on by the Sydney Theatre Company, at the Drama Theatre in the Opera House. I travelled in by train. Great play. Great location. So easy to get there by public transport – no worries about traffic or parking. 

Worst: The opera bar, beneath the Opera House foreshore is crowded, noisy and overpriced. The food was ordinary.  

The Worst of The Worst: the toilets are disgusting. Aussie won’t pay for public toilets and although the toilets are in the bar area, they are really public toilets. But really when the bar charges $25 for a cocktail and $10 for their cheap house bubbles, they should provide a higher standard of toilet cleaning. You need loos when drinking. Honestly they were the worst toilets I have used in Australia in a long time. Overflowing sanitary bins, vomitous smell of urine. I have decided I will not buy drinks from there again. 

Best: On Sunday I went to the beach. It was beautiful. With the fresh salt air and pounding ocean, you feel alive. 

Much goings on to watch with a surf competition. 

I love the free beach pool. Reminiscent of a more egalitarian time. 

It’s exhilarating to watch the tide coming in and the waves hitting the rocks and the ocean side of the pool. The water rushing in keeps the pool clean. 

So much to see. People fishing. Surfing. Having fun. 

And not crowded at all. As you can see in the view of the beach below. (Curl Curl for those who are interested.)

Worst: Yes, there’s a “worse” thing about the beach. No, it’s not the sand, though I do hate how it gets into bodily crevices that even though they don’t like sand, they hold onto it. 

Its blue bottles. There were lots of them. And warning signs up. 

I didn’t swim. Not because of the blue bottles. The waves were too rough. Also it wasn’t hot enough for me. The water was a tad chilly and I only venture into the water when it is almost too hot for me to go into the sun. Of course, Mr S went for a dip. And no, he wasn’t stung. 

I’ve actually never been stung by blue bottles. Probably an indication of my cautious nature. If I see them on the beach, I’m out of the water. 

Not good: I am sunburnt on the back of my neck. You’d think I’d have learnt my lesson by now! But no. The wide neck dress exposed skin that hasn’t seen the sun for a long while. And I wore a cap, not a wife brimmed hat. And I didn’t put on any sunscreen. Should have worn a top with a collar. Or put on the sun screen!!!

Still, the ledger has come out heavily on the positive side. This has been a good weekend. 

How was yours?

Surviving Aldi: lessons from a successful shopper

You know I have dreams of having a beautiful garden, don’t you? 

Well, much like the person who buys all the cleaning products with hopes it will give them a clean house, I spied a magical piece of garden equipment that I thought would help us. A four in one garden trimmer, hedger, lopper thing. 

I knew it was good quality cause my step-father, who knows these things, said so. 

And it was cheap. It was an Aldi special buy. 

No, not the Aldi brand. One of those magical items – an outside well-known brand occasionally stocked by Aldi. The weekend special buys had all manner of gardening items included a lawn mower with a Briggs and Stratton engine, and my desired four in one, also with the Briggs and Stratton engine. 

I told my gardening friend I intended to get one. In fact I told all the ladies at work of my intended weekend purchase. “Could you get me one too,” a number said. 

“No worries,” I naively replied, “if I can, I will.”

My gardening friend, who is also an Aldi fan, said, “You will need to go early.”

“Yes, I’m going to be there at 8.30. You know how hard that is for me on a weekend.”

“Pfff,” she replied, dismissively, “that won’t do. It opens at 8.30. You have to get there earlier.”


“No. That’s no good.”

“Really? Will 8.15 do?”

“Mmm. You may be lucky.”

Now while I have Aldi items too numerous to count, my only other early  morning, on-opening-time, expedition was years ago. I picked up a special buy on the way to work. Oh, it was a gentler time then! The elderly in the queue had given me tips on how to get the camera I wanted, where to queue, where to rush to. This expedition proved to be much different. 

On the morning in question I attempt to get Mr S to join me in leaving home just before 8am. “I’m not going that early. You go. I will be there at opening.”

Not well pleased, I head off, arriving at the designated Aldi by 8am. This is silly, I tell myself. This is way too early. So I sit in the car for five or so minutes. [First wrong move.]

Imagine my surprise when I get to the shop front at 8.10 to see this queue!

These people are clearly Aldi experts. My friend was right. I may not have been early enough. I spy my competitors. Men in gardening clothes. Pensioners whose love of early mornings is only surpassed by their love of a bargain.

I can see the face of the Aldi newbs like me. When they walk up the ramp from the car park, thinking they’ve arrived in plenty of time before opening, and see the queue, they momentarily pull their head back in surprise. 

Anyway, I get my trolley [second mistake] and join the queue. And wait until opening while texting my gardening friend with regular updates on the Aldi campaign. 

The queue continues to grow. Some people try not to join the queue but surreptitiously stay to one side. I know their game. They want to rush in with those who queued earlier. 

See the blue-shirt-squatter on the left of the photo below?

I had my eye on her. Not for her a queue. She looked around for where she could squat close to the front of the queue. Her chosen spot is in front of the queue that has now formed a right angle.  She is alongside the part of the queue that is in front of the door. If this was a junior maths lesson she’d be on the hypotenuse. Well, I for one would thwart her entry afor me. 

It’s getting close to 8.30 and no sign of Mr S. I’m getting nervous. How will I lift the thing?

At 8.27, they open the doors and the rush is on. Lucky I didn’t get here at 8.30!

Yes, blue-shirt-squatter rushes forward. I use my trolley to block her entry. But she is not my real competition. 

If you know the Aldi layout, they have the special buys in the centre aisle, down the back. Most of those in front of me run down the first aisle. They clearly plan on turning right at the fruit and veg. I take the centre aisle, the aisle less taken. 

What’s this?!?

A man blocking everyone from rushing down the centre aisle. He is walking with his trolley, ssslllooowly, nonchalantly, frustratingly, in the middle. 

Bastard! He is clearly working in cahoots with someone who rushed down aisle one. His partner will get the lawn mower and hedger while he foils the competition. In fact, those who were behind me in the queue but are rushing down aisle one, as we dawdle, will beat me. 

And now what’s this? Blue-shirt-squatter is trying to shimmy past. I swing my trolley. Success in blocking her again. But my foot is injured by my own trolley. 

I will not bow out. I am not yet hors de combat. 

I make it past the blocker. The crowds are already amassed around the two in demand items. Someone has sent in an 8 year old boy to duck under the adults and grab the dwindling pile of hedgers. I leave my trolley in the aisle. I duck under a man lifting up one hedger and put my hand on the second last one, to claim it. “Careful love,” says the man under whose arm I ducked. Someone else rushes in and says, “I want one like everyone else here.” Or was that me talking? In the emotion of the chase, the centre of the battle, all clarity is lost. 

But what’s this? I can’t slide my hedger off the shelf. The boxes are not rectangular. They are narrower at one end and packed alternately. I have my hand on the one with the narrow end to the for. It is the second last one. I have to get it out. I can’t lift it. The crowd are pushing on me. 

Where is Mr S?

The one with wider edge to the front is removed. I slide mine off the shelf, wide-eyes looks of envy on those around me. Actually, I think they are looking for signs of weakness. Will I falter? Can they swoop in and claim my item? 

No, I will put it in my trolley and leave. I can’t risk leaving it in the trolley to look at any other items. Someone will take the hedger. It’s mine. It’s my precious. Get back!

I turn to my trolley. On no! Blue-shirt-squatter is pushing it away. “Hey, that’s mine.”

“Oh sorry. I didn’t know. I thought I could take it. Sorry, I don’t have good English. I didn’t know these things.”

“No.  You have to pay for a trolley.” And in my head, “Don’t give me the no English excuse. You knew well enough. It’s why you didn’t get a trolley. You were right behind me. You saw me leave my trolley on the side.”

Struggling, I put my item into the trolley. Within a few steps I have someone else ask me where I got the hedger. It is 8.31. “Over there,” I point. “But they’re all gone. They opened early.” The last sentence said almost sympathetically.

Triumphant, I walk towards to checkout. 

It is then I see Mr S strolling in. “I’ve got it,” I call out, “Let’s go.”

“No, I want to look at a few things.”

I frown. I am not well-pleased. But he won’t be moved. 

I am asked by strangers again about my item. I keep my hands firmly on my trolley. People are eyeing the hedger off. I know if I leave alongside other crates of special buys, it will disappear. I cannot afford to lose it now. Not after the time and injury sustained. 

So the lessons I will share:

  • Go early. Very early. 
  • Don’t get a trolley. They get in the way of getting to the desired item. You can drag the larger item to the register if needed. 
  • Big garden items will be at the back. 
  • Work with a partner. They can bring a trolley up from the rear after you’ve claimed your desired item. 

And as to the garden. Nah, the hedger’s only been used once or twice since its purchase in March! I will have to find something else that will work.  

Like hiring someone. 

Aldi, Aldi, ich liebe dich 

I know I shouldn’t. 

I know I say I’m against cheap plastic crap and have written about the true cost of our cheap manufactured non-degradable goods. 

And I know Aldi is a company that apparently doesn’t pay much tax in Australia, sending its profits overseas. 

But I do love Aldi. I’ve become an Aldi addict.  

Not for their food. But their special buys! Yes, some of the special buys are cheap shit but much is top quality. Sold at cheap due to the high turn-over, small range of stock policy to get people in the door. 

Oh! I have to stop Mr S going to their annual ski sale. I mean how many pairs of ski socks does a person who only skis one week a year need?

Let’s do an Aldi audit. 

Ski pants  – me two pairs and Mr S, three. 

Skis – a pair for each member of our family. (Mr S also owns a pair of super duper skis he bought from the US).

Ski gear – a container load of socks, gloves, beanies, neck warmers, under layers and mid layers, and ski boot bags and ski bags. 

Turbo cookers – makes the best ever roast chicken and roast potatoes. We own three. In our defence, we bought one and it was so good (or as Mr S, who very rarely swears says, they are fucking good), when I saw them on special for $20 or $30, I had to get two more. Hey, if/when we have family over we need to use two and the oven to do all the roast meats and veggies. So that gives us one to spare, just in case. 

Water pressure cleaner – I should use it more but can live with dirty pavers. (Keep your eyes up, I say.)

Fridge esky – given to Mr S by my step-father who is also an Aldi addict. It’s an esky. It’s a fridge. It’s amazing. 

Torches – numbers innumerable. First one also given to Mr S by my step-father. Mr S loved it so had to buy more torches. 

Torch from my step-father

Lamps – two. Loved them. Use them. 

Light fittings to match the lamps – two and awaiting reno in our family room. 

Bike gear – tonnes of it. For Mr S. He started with their padded bike undies. Same quality as ones you pay $80 for. It was bike gear that sold Aldi for Mr S. We still await the return of the undies but in mean time Mr S has acquired many other bike items. 

Activewear – lots for all of us, including runners for Mr S. 

Digital radios – apparently Mr S owns two. (He says I need to stop. I will never finish if I continue this audit. We own too many Aldi things. But let’s try and perservere.)

Wireless speakers – I didn’t know these came from Adi. 

Noise reducing headphones – these were a god send on my recent trip to China. Shouty, shouty people! Mr S hasn’t used his pair yet. 

Shopping trolley with rotating wheels to go up stairs – Mr S often walks to buy seafood from the fishmonger and groceries from Aldi and another supermarket across the railway tracks and highway. I rarely go to “the other side”. Getting the loaded trolley up the steps was a problem this new trolley has solved. 

Heated throw – this was a gift from my sister-in-law. What a wonderful thing! With a timer, I fall asleep snug and warm on the coldest nights. And don’t bake as I find I do with heated blankets that go under the sheets. 

Heated clothes rail – we use this as an airer more without the heat. 

Elliptical trainer – the purchase of this probably needs its own blog. 

Four in one garden hedger, trimmer thing – the purchase of this will definitely get its own post. 

Watch – Mr S has an Aldi watch but if I know him he has bought more than one. 

London travel book: Top 10 London. This was great for last year’s trip. I’ve lent it to someone. 

A moving trolley. This is so good. It folds flat but is sturdy. Used recently by oldest son to move a mini fridge. And used by Mr S to purchase two boxes of bubbles from the bottleshop for me. 

And now for some past things which we’ve let go:

Digital camera and memory stick – Dreamer just had to have this for his school trip to Japan. Now outdated with iPhone but probably still in giving in his room. 

Bullet blender – this was a dud. Given away. 

Steamer for clothes – another dud. Just spat hot water. Tossed the thing. 


While I was recuperating I sorted a massive shelf of Mr S’s clothes. 

Clothes were tossed up on the top shelf; some were in a massive removalist box that had split, threatening to spill its load on me. The threaten of physical injury was less injurious than daily injury to my sensibilities looking at this mess.

So while Mr S was away at work, I pulled everything out. Normally I don’t touch his touch. And I don’t declutter his things when I have enough issues with my possession, splinter in my own eye, log in others kind of thing. 

But I did. I touched. I tidied. I got a potential “these have to go” pile. 

He has crateloads of clothes still with their tags on, many items ordered online were still in the postpacks. From 2008!! Over 20 items from his favourite clothing supplier still in packaging. That’s about $2000 worth of unworn, never used clothing. But there was more! T shirts, track pants, underwear, clothing galore. 

And mixed in all this was clothes he wears regularly and old clothes that he doesn’t wear anymore. And some he shouldn’t wear anymore as they are like rags. 

So I sorted and folded and organised. So therapeutic. 

Being aware that they’re his property, I didn’t throw anything away. Just put this pile of clothes I thought should go to one side for him to deal with. 

I knew he’d freak. He is a hoarder. He enbues items with memories. 

And I was right. He did freak. “Oh no. This can’t go. Nothing from Gowings can go.” (Gowings was his favourite shop that shut down over a decade ago.) 

“Oh no. This has to go back. I like this shirt.” Said shirt is stained and stretched and has been unworn for years. 

I told him I had given three pairs of socks that were still in packaging to our son. “Which socks?” Ones that you bought probably 10 years ago. “Oh no, I need those. I’ve been saving them.” Stop, I say. There are more. “Oh I will just take back one pair for exercising. I need them now.”

I worked on him a bit more. “You haven’t worn these three t shirts and look you have three more worn ones still on the shelf and even more new ones in packaging. You don’t need three with worn collars, stained and badly stretched.” 

“You can’t talk,” he said. “You have too more clothes than me.” So I showed him how he actually has more wardrobe and cupboard space than me. That half of one of my shelves has our linen. And two of my shelves are for bags and shoes. 

I kept up the campaign that evening to get him to release the clothes. I explained how fashions change as has his body shape and his tastes. And pointed out how much money he has wasted. He countered claimed he had enough clothes for the next 20 years. You can’t be wearing tie dye and purple pants at 75?!?

He finally said, “You’re right. I just needed to process it. I love all my stuff.” 

Several days later, not all have been tossed. He reclaimed a pair of track pants and started wearing them. Other clothes were just moved to the floor in another room. But the top shelf still looks organised and I think he will let so more items go. And I know he won’t buy any clothes for a while. 

He even looked into his wardrobe and said he needed to toss some shirts! 

How’s that for success? 

And you? Would you declutter your partner’s property? Why is it easier to toss other people’s stuff?


Clear sign that I am back at work: I forgot to post my October reading entry. I know The Dry got its own post – as it deserves – but I wrote this before I read The Dry. 

Possibly as an antidote to the heaviness of The Natural Order of Things, possibly just because I was cleaning out my book shelves, but I picked up a Famous Five novel. The first in the series. 

I bought the whole series as a box set a couple of years ago. Kind of fulfilling my childhood desire to have the set. 

Of course I did some googling. Enid Blyton wrote the 21 novels over 21 years – from 1942 to 1963. Funny how she kept the same naive, nostalgic tone and setting. Yes, the novel is full of cliches, and some horrendous, from our sensibilities, social gaffs. But it was exciting. If I was 8, I’d still love it. 

Post operative reading needed something light. So I read James Rebanks’ The Shepherd’s Life. I enjoyed the rhythm of the writing and the life on the farm. It took me away to another life. Here’s an interview with him on ABC radio. The connection to place and community and the strong sense of identity is alluring. Possibly not so the hard physical work. 

A friend brought around some novels to read while I was recuperating. I thought I’d give Liane Moriarty another go with What Alice Forgot. After slow last read of Truely Madly Guilty I wasn’t too keen but willing to try. But no, this was just as  slow and just as pointless. Domestic issues writ large with no real climax. A short story in the making. Just needs some culling. About 375 pages. 

Among the friend’s pile was Pants on Fire by Maggie Alderson. I know she is meant to be “lite” summer reads, perfect for pool or beachside, but it was just all so shallow to me. And what I took away was these drug-taking, shallow, party-goers, who turn up for work late and swan off to parties, are paid more than teachers. OK, it’s a work of fiction, not a textbook, but I am glad I have lived through the death of  newspapers and magazines. Up themselves, arrogant, dickheads who think of themselves as intellectual (when all they do is basically rewrite PR media releases) and think themselves so avant guarde because they live in a few certain inner city suburbs. 

Almost totally back to myself (as if that rant wasn’t evidence enough), I need something more weighty. Something with substance. Thank heavens I had The Dry.