The Birthday Festival


Several years ago, I had a horrible birthday. I can’t exactly remember what happened, but I vowed from thereon that I would take control and make each birthday better than the last.

I started by turning it into a weeklong festival. During that week, I did whatever I wanted. I ate out, went shopping, went to the movies, did minimum housework, got a pedicure, went to the beach… and I was determined that it was all guilt-free. It was quite easy initially, because I didn’t have any children.

A side note on guilt: So many of us feel guilty if we take time for ourselves. It was one of the biggest hurdles I encountered with the Birthday Festival, but over the years I’ve almost overcome it and I would encourage you to try too.

Fast forward a few years and Lulu was born. It became harder to take time for myself during the Festival, so I stretched it out over the month of February. February became The Month-Long Festival of Penne. (To this day, my husband calls it that.)

There are lots of ways to turn your birthday month into a festival without blowing the budget, and here are a few:

  • My local Ella Bache salon offers a half-price facial during the birthday month of clients. Pampering at half the price.
  • If you are a Cellarmasters customer, they send a $25 voucher for your birthday. You can buy some nice bubbles to celebrate!
  • Ikea Family members – receive a free cake
  • My local shoe shop sends me a 25% discount voucher for my birthday month.
  • As a customer of Jo Malone, they will send you a card enabling you to claim a hand massage and perfume sample.

These options pertain to me and my lifestyle (and purchasing habits), however many places offer treats and discounts for birthday months. You don’t have to be spending money the whole time, but obviously if you’re clutching a discount voucher it’s a good time to buy things you might need / want.

There are other less ‘consumery’ things that I like to do during the birthday festival: beach walks, coffee with friends, swimming…it’s all about trying to slow down and doing something lovely each day.

My birthday was last week. The Month-long Festival is drawing to a close, but I’m not feeling blue.

It’s been the best one ever.




The Family Picnic

This is how our Sunday afternoon played out.

Mr UnStepford has been a bit tense lately. He’s stressed AND he has a cold. We all know that a man-cold is so very much worse than a lady-cold. So naturally he’s in a really bad way.

For the past few weeks I have taken it upon myself to organise relaxing Sunday family outings to ease his stress, and the Sunday-night blues. Today’s outing was a BBQ dinner down at the Noosa River.

I packed an esky with a nice bottle of wine and few beers, some sausages for the BBQ, cheeses, crusty rolls, a wedge of butter, and a tangy home-made coleslaw. Simple but tasty fare.

When we arrived there was a howling wind blowing off the water  (I hate wind, really hate it.)  Still, we gritted our teeth and stoically set up camp at a table where our first argument was over the importance of using a tablecloth. (For me: very important. For him: about as important as eating vegetables, which is not important at all. In his world.)

I rather cleverly and boy-scoutedly devised a way to tie the tablecloth to the table, thereby getting my way and having an aesthetically pleasing and hygienic dinner table even if all the food kept blowing into the sand.

I laid out the cheese platter, and the wind was so strong that it actually blew most of the crackers off the table. I found myself running into the middle of Gympie Terrace to retrieve half our canapés. (At this point, was starting to think that this is not so relaxing and fun.)

So the Mr went for a stroll to find a ‘better table’, beckoned me over and we set up again.

Then my glass of wine blew over.

So the Mr went for a stroll to find a ‘better table’, beckoned me over AGAIN and…you know the drill. I was starting to get a touch crabby by this stage because each table was no better than the first, but we were getting further and further away from the lavatories (essential to be close when picnicking with a five year old) and miles away from the actual BBQ which was why we were there in the first place.

Mr UnStepford trooped off to cook the sausages, and that’s the last I saw of him for half an hour. Lulu frolicked merrily in the river, then tipped a bucket of sand on her head. (Why? WHY?) Meanwhile, I needed an anchor to keep our food from flying away.

It was a classic case of ‘best laid plans’.  I felt like a cartoon mum, saying through gritted teeth with a big fake smile, ‘isn’t this FUN! Isn’t it lovely to be TOGETHER?’, while a black cloud boils furiously above her head.

But after we had eaten our sandy cheese & crackers and our sausages, we took a walk to get gelato, and suddenly it felt as though we’d had a really lovely time.

Isn’t life funny sometimes? That is one mighty powerful gelato.

The Rookie Error

As I write, there is a load of washing waiting to be hung out, and many more waiting to be folded. The vacuum cleaner and mop bucket are poised in the middle of the living room floor as if waiting to be given the go ahead to dance together. Jamie Oliver’s “15 Minute Meals” is on the kitchen bench, open to a recipe for which I plan to do the preparation before I pick Lulu up from Montessori (because let’s face it, who can ACTUALLY do those recipes in 15 minutes?). There is a pile of paperwork in the in-tray, and a pile in the ironing basket that resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

I could continue to dive, like a woman possessed, between each of these tasks. But a short while ago my uncle left me a voicemail message to say he had read my blog, and honestly I’m so touched that I am sitting down RIGHT NOW to write my next post before the moment passes, then another fortnight passes, and then The UnStepford Wife disappears into the ether never to be hear of again.

The fact is, I have a problem with technology. Yes, I know it’s our friend…


I sat down two weeks ago and put my heart and soul into a post that took me two hours to write. Then I added a nice little photo. Then I lost the whole lot. (Why? WHY? I hit ‘save’!) Talk about a rookie error.

I have a lot to learn, but I’m going to get the hang of this thing if it’s the last thing I do.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to do the food prep for a ’15 minute meal’ that I know takes me exactly 57 minutes to make. I timed it.

The Procrastination Trail

I have wanted to start a blog for quite some time (read: 12 years), but a lack of technical expertise, and a strong streak of perfectionism has rendered me prostrate with a sense of hopelessness.

Basically, I have been procrastinating for 43 years. I am EXCELLENT at procrastinating. I could do a thesis on it. Teach people how to do it. Win awards for it. (Oh, I wish there was a Procrastination Award!)

This is an example of my thought processes and procrastination trail on Wednesday, when I was putting off writing my first blog post:

  1. Decide to write first blog post.
  2. Hmmm. Ironing basket looks full. I’ll just ‘zero’ the ironing basket (i.e. do every single little item right down to an old handkerchief that has been sitting in the basket for 5 years) while listening to this old album by The Waifs that I just found. (Yay!)
  3. What was the name of that guy in The Waifs?
  4. Find album cover and look up name. OH, YES, Josh. That’s right. Josh. Hmm. he was cute. I wonder if he ever got married.
  5. Google ‘Josh Cunningham’ to see if he ever got married.
  6. Spend next hour looking at every article / You Tube video of The Waifs from the past 10 years.
  7. While Googling, discover new recipe.
  8. Check pantry for ingredients to make recipe.
  9. Missing three vital ingredients. Need to go to shop.
  10. Need shower before I go to shop, because hair is hideous, and might run into someone I know.
  11. Drive into town to buy ingredients.
  12. Remember that I need Halloween costume for my daughter.
  13. Get home several hours later with groceries, a Halloween costume and library books.
  14. Ummm…What was I meant to be doing?

So, I am pleased to say that now, on the last Friday afternoon in October 2015, I am finally throwing myself into the arms of the cyber world, putting myself on a platter (in a manner of speaking) and presenting to you my first ever blog post.

I dedicate my first post to Cassie, who popped the procrastination bubble and helped me get started. x