Monthly Archives: March 2013

The secret of success

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had a revelation! After years of watching reality TV I’ve realised that the only thing standing between me and success is an awesome backstory! It seems that anyone who’s anyone has suffered for their art.

The only trouble I see is this – looking back through my own life story, I’m struggling to find some angst – any angst – that would qualify.

I’ve looked into addiction – but the closest I’ve ever come to any sort of substance abuse is my lifelong dependence on a long, hot cup of tea. Seven cups a day. Mmm-hmm! I tried to give up once, but after enduring a hellish 24-hour headache, I fell off the wagon with a sickening Darjeeling thud.

My next thought was homelessness – but, while we’ve moved around a lot, I’ve always had a roof over my head. I did try sleeping in a tent once. That ended badly, no-one got much sleep, but I don’t think that counts.

Broken home? No luck there either. To this day my parents still seem to like each other.

The only option left was bullying – but aside from a height challenged boss whose bald head turned a flaming red while he rocked on his toes and yelled up at me – I can’t really say I qualify for that one either.

So the only option left is invention.

I could be the secret love child of powerful statesman or the daughter of a pirate abandoned on the high seas. Perhaps I was jilted at the altar, buried alive, lost in the desert. This new life story has Hollywood blockbuster written all over it!

If nothing else I will enjoy the notoriety long enough to make a name for myself before being revealed in a dramatic expose. My story will be drafted into the annals of history and give my own kids a fabulous backstory to roll out when the time is right.

In the meantime, my plan to achieve success has just one more hurdle to overcome. Talent. Apparently I’ll need one of those too.


Cooking the old-fashioned way


I have a ‘new’ favourite book. But it’s not new at all. It’s from 1946 and I love everything about it.

Firstly there’s the title – ‘How to Cook Well’. No fast, furious, low-fuss cookery mania here. No boutique, chef hat, posh nosh in sight. No sir-ee. From the out-set, the author, Ann Roe Robbins, is keeping her expectations low, which suits me fine.

As it happens, we actually have a bit in common. In her preface, Ann Roe Robbins admits she never cooked until she was married. Unless you count cakes, I too was in the same boat. In between leaving home and getting married (perhaps a little longer if I’m honest) my diet consisted largely of peanut butter and honey on toast. Things improved somewhat after the nuptials but there was always a jar of peanut butter on standby in the fridge.

Around this time, I was given one good, contemporary cookbook. It covered some of the basics until I eventually inherited Ann Roe Robbins’ answer to all things culinary. It’s just what I needed. It seems she wasn’t interested in simply compiling a book of recipes. She wanted to explain why things were done the way they were done. She believed in instructions over instinct and measuring over guess-work. She wanted to share her money saving techniques and make sure her readers were eating healthy, flavoursome food.

That meant rules – always have a hot dish with every meal even in the summer; include flavour, colour and texture to ensure every meal is appetising; avoid dishes that require last minute attention, and; don’t be scared of a long list of ingredients.

Not every rule rings true today, but her enthusiasm and passion for food shines through. Ann Roe Robbins and her sky blue cookbook with its linen cover, gold embellishments and understated title would give any of today’s chefs a run for their money.

Rush, rush . . . stop!


Beach (Photo credit: Craig Anderson)

It can’t be said that I rush into things. Most of the decisions in my life are made over the course of weeks, if not months. Take, for instance, the decision to have my wisdom teeth removed.

Back in 1993 a dentist advised me to have this done “soon”. I looked into it and decided there were more pressing things to do like . . . not doing it.

I revisited this decision in 2010 when another dentist looked at my x-rays, frowned at me then hastily wrote out a referral.

It’s 2013, my teeth are still in-situ and my wisdom remains (though my kids question this daily).

The fact is, I don’t like to commit too soon then find myself looking for ways to undo what’s been done. After all, that’s not always possible, (cue gnashing teeth).

So, when it comes to holidays, major purchases, social gatherings, even sports – I like to take my time. After all, who wants to end up sitting in a ski lodge, surrounded by snow bunnies watching snow fall when you could be at the beach, draped over a banana lounge, sipping cocktails and watching the kids leap frog over jelly fish. I know which option I’d prefer and it requires sun and quite a bit of surf.

Perhaps the only exception to this drawn out rule is clothes shopping. If I can buy it off the rack with just one look – excellent. If I can try it on once and still be happy – good. If I can buy it online and have it delivered to my door – even better. But don’t make me think about it.

After all, there are more important things to worry about, like – how exactly does all that wisdom fit inside four teeth? What do you do without it when all those teeth are taken out? And – importantly – does the tooth fairy still visit 30-something year olds?

When someone can answer those questions, then I might make a decision.