Oh what a night …

And a day, and a night… I’m sorry for the silence on the Face First front (if you’ve noticed?) but I’ve been living large IN THE REAL WORLD what!? It seems June is the festival month of births. Everyone who is anyone (i.e. my husband and friends) is born in June.

There has been a June bonanza of birthdays, and upon waking on Tuesday morning, I was slapped with the rude realisation that we’ve not all just turned 21. Thursday night – 1am. Friday work from 6am. Bed -10pm. Saturday night – 12pm. Sunday – BBQ at ours from midday – 1am. Monday – husband’s ACTUAL birthday, start-time, 7am with BOUNCING CHILDREN. I have learned something from this experience. Celebrations are bad for your health. This week? I will be holed up in my monastery, behaving like a monk, doing monk-like things. I will be drinking water (broth? holy water?), making friends with salad (gruel? vittels?), and going to the gym (err… kneeling for 5 hours? Ugh. I’d pick the stairmaster over that). I will sleep. And sleep, and sleep. (But it won’t be fun, cos I’m a monk).

Lights_opt

Oh what a tangled birthday web That Man weaves

It seems most of my friends are born in June. Why is that? What is it that happens nine months before June? Is it the springing of spring? Couples, walking around, see a baby lamb and a daffodil, and say ‘Oh! New life! We must procreate! QUICKLY! Give me your SEED!’ Or was it the irresistible music topping the charts in September 1976, when most of these friend-babies were conceived? In late August, early September the Australian no. 1 single was ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’. Ah. It all becomes clear. Young and sweet, only 17. That’s the music of LOVE, right there. Are you cringing yet, friends of mine?

In any case, preceding the festival of husband on Sunday, we went out in Manly Saturday night to celebrate a close friend’s birthday. It was a quiet and sedate night. In the cab on the way home one unnamed male party offered the cab driver a cheese stick from his pack of 12 he’d picked up from Colesworths, and the other asked the cabbie what he does for work. It turned out there were in fact TWENTY-FOUR cheese sticks. They were on special, so it made sense to buy two packets. We ate them all by the time we were home.

Girls out in the the REAL WORLD drinking … water.

Girls out in the the REAL WORLD drinking … water.

The lunchtime BBQ Sunday was a day full of friends, family, and kids going crazy. A wonderful fun day that ended in the night with a bonfire and toasted marshmallows. That Man is SMART, I tell you – having his party the day before. I awoke to excited kids, tiptoed away from Sleeping Beauty, and faced wine glasses that had procreated and had wine glass babies while we slept. Wrapped presents, blah blah YAY YAY IT”S YOUR BIRTHDAY  YOU’RE REALLY OLD YAY YAY then I crashed out and slept on the couch for two hours. AHHHHHHHH. Job well done me. Then I cooked a gourmet seafood dinner. The only thing he said that was missing from his birthday? A cake with candles. SERIOUSLY. I’ll give him candles.

This is how you occupy kids for HOURS. My technicolour  chalk path and bricks look gorgeous.

This is how you occupy kids for HOURS. My technicolour chalk path and bricks look gorgeous.

In any case, I had fun too. My festival of living in the real world was wonderful, connecting with friends and spending proper quality time with them. If you need me this week though, you’ll find me asleep on my stationary bike in my monk cell at the gym.*

*An update: it’s raining, a LOT. I can’t possibly go to the gym. Therefore I’ll just sit quietly and think repentant-type thoughts.

Do you still ‘do’ birthdays? Or do you let them slip by quietly like I do? 

xx

Italian in a past life

 

I don’t believe in past lives, but there is a little italian living inside me. Not LITERALLY, you twisted people. Since That Man’s not italian, that would present something of a problem, yes?

I’ve been fortunate to travel to quite a number of countries in the world, but nowhere speaks to me and feels comfortable in the way that Italy does. Everything Italian – the language, the food, the excess of emotion, the landscape – just feels like it fits to me. Learning the language when I was at school and then at uni felt like pulling on a pair of ugh boots. It was warm, soft and enveloping and the words just wrapped around me. I didn’t want to take them off when the HSC was over. Well, my ugh boots either, for that matter. My language skills these days are pretty shabby, but after a couple of wines in an italian restaurant they seem to spring forth from nowhere, and I end up engaged in discussions with homesick waiters about their homelands. A particularly lovely one two weeks ago invited me to visit him in Calabria later this year when he returns home. Um… about That Man and two children …!!!!

Stuff they get right:

Food. 

Prosciutto. Antipasto. Tomatoes. Olive oil. Buffalo mozzarella that doesn’t cost $10 per piece. Limoncello. I could eat prosciutto all day every day for the rest of my life. I think easter eggs should be made from prosciutto. Cake should be made from prosciutto. Hell. The harbour bridge could be made from prosciutto, but then they’d have to rope it off with barbed wire or I’d eat my way from one end to the other. Poor piggies. They never saw me coming. If I ever have a night home alone, my ultimate meal involves some pickings of deli meats, good tomatoes, spinach leaves, olive oil, basil, sourdough and some kind of cheese. Party for one. Yum. And for dessert? Stuff dessert. All dessert should be affogato, forever. Coffee, icecream, and frangelico (my preferred liquer for the purpose). The italians are not the best at bureaucratic efficiency, but when it comes to gastronomic genius, it doesn’t get much more streamlined than this.

My kind of dinner.

Coffee:

On the topic of efficiency and streamlining, we are kindred spirits on the notion of caffeine and food as fuel. In Italy, sitting and lingering over a cappucino is a fairly strange notion, with natives preferring it short, black, and taken standing at a bar before they continue their day. Since most of my coffee and, indeed, meals seem to be consumed standing these days while I focus instead on the needs of others (under 1.5 metres tall), I like to think I’m being hip and italian rather than harried and disorganised. Yep. That’s me. Italian mamma.

Language:

It sounds like a song. It’s pretty intuitive. It’s sensible, unlike english. And, we’ve already adopted half the words anyway. Cappucino, foccacia, bruschetta, antipasto, pasta, vista etc etc. They seem to know that style even matters in your speech, and I love that.

Style:

I can’t help it. I feel naked leaving the house without bling. And tell me, have you ever seen an italian devoid of jewellery of any sort? We are kindred spirits. You don’t really need me to point this out to you, but Gucci, Armani, Prada, Cavalli, Ferragamo and Versace, the best of the best of the best, all hail from Italy. Their style is more bold and colourful on the whole than the French, and I like it.

Angelina’s leg is wearing Versace, and her foot is wearing Ferragamo. Head to toe Italian. Noice choice Angie.

A friend of mine made the EMINENTLY sensible choice to get married in Lake Como in 2011 for no other reason than that Italy’s awesome, so I was forced, dragged, kicking and screaming by my bestie and thrown on a plane to accompany her on a 2-week child-free girls’ trip. It was awful (ly wonderful). After a few days in Milan, we discovered the joys of the Aperol Spritz, and spent a lazy week by the lake with the wedding party, dipping in to Bellagio and Menaggio from our home in Varenna, a magical place. I learnt to make gnocchi (who knew? I’m a natural!!) and perfected my ability to eat my body weight in gelato. The sales were on in Milan. A happy coincidence. We saw Aida in Verona in the original open-air Roman amphitheatre, which ended dramatically around 1am when we were washed out by a torrential thunderstorm.

They get plenty wrong too. Living there is a bureaucratic nightmare, and driving there? Just don’t. Berlusconi needs no mention, unless anyone is fond of a bunga bunga party and wants to impart the true meaning… I think we’re still all a little unsure. It’s Australia for me, all the way, but Italy remains number 1 on my holiday destination list.

Lago di Como – from Varenna

xx

My happy place

So, I joined a gym.

Exercise used to be to lose weight, to look good in a bikini (yep, ok, naked) and to not feel completely crap when turning up at the beach or, worse, flicking through a glossy mag featuring models in bikinis, WHILE at the beach, wearing a bikini. But now?

Now I just want a quiet place. A place where nobody pulls on me and asks for food, a place where nobody hits anybody (without gloves on), and, blissssssssss, a place where I can ride a bike to nowhere and read a trashy magazine about nothing while someone else looks after my kids for the princely sum of $2. If you need motivation to exercise, people, have children!

The other day I was feeling particularly grumpy about my domestic ungoddessness (it’s my blog and I’ll make up words if I want to DAMMIT) and I needed to get out of the house desperately. Where to go? Where to go?

YOGA. Perfect. Ten minutes of screaming at the girls to get shoes on, eat breakfast, stop dancing on the toilet, and we were in the car driving at breakneck speed towards RELAXATION.

I barrelled through the door without a second to spare, lay down and took my ten long breaths in, and out, in, and out.

I fell asleep. And it was good.

 

This is not me not doing yoga.