List thirty one: Things you may not know about me

We’re on the home straight people! One more list for me to write, one more list for you to read. In just a few minutes, my A list a day in May series will be over. Doneski. Kaput.

So, to end this list making bonanza, here’s a few things you may just not know about me:

1) Apart from bacon, I have never touched, nor will I ever touch, raw meat.
Ian does the meaty stuff at our place or I use tongs in one hand and a knife in the other.

2) I used to be obsessed with playing Commander Keen. I’d scream loudly when the green monsters chased me.

3) I have never watched more than five minutes of any cooking show. Cooking is one my favourite things to do so nobody ever believes this.

4) Despite Jay’s highly insulting assumption that I would be a fan of Neighbours and Home & Away, I’ve never watched a full episode of either. And just by the by Jay, those shows are nothing like 90210!

5) I have also never watched The Simpsons but when people make Simpsons jokes I laugh along and pretend I know what they’re talking about.

6) I really, really want a tattoo but I would never, ever get one.

7) I am obsessed with having clean ears. Although nowhere near as obsessed as my sister is. She probably has the cleanest ears of any person on earth.

8) Cookbooks overwhelm me. So do subscriptions to cooking magazines. There’s too many options and I get indecisive. I prefer reading interviews with chefs online and finding recipes there too.

9) I hate wearing jackets. Always have.  I avoid wearing them as often as possible.

10) I only know my 1, 2, 3, 5, 10 & 11 times tables. Don’t know what happened with all the others.

11) I count on my fingers.

12) I’ve turned into a total cry baby in the last year or so and cry about everything. Ian thinks this is funny. So do I. Usually I cry and laugh at the same time.

13) I rarely find comedies funny. I remember watching Zoolander with the girls and they were laughing hysterically. I felt confused.

14) I never drink water without lemon in it.

15)  I have two reoccurring dreams. In one I’m with my sister walking through a house that has lots of little pokey corners with really low ceilings. So low that we have to duck. It’s always the same house and we’re always looking for something. In the other dream I’m always hanging out with James and Aaron from school. Neither of whom I ever think about at other times.

16) Following his gazillion training sessions last week, I’m now married to a certified scuba diver.

17) I’m completely over macarons.

18) Sometimes as I’m about to take a big gulp of water, I suddenly wonder if there might just be a gold fish in my glass. I never bother to check though, I just keep drinking and hope for the best.

19) My biggest fear is being sent to a psychiatric  hospital. I guess in that case I shouldn’t write things like I just did above.

20) I clear my phone logs every night. We’re talking all the calls, all the messages, all the websites I visit. It’s one of my little OCD things. Ian tells me that if I’m ever convicted of murder that it will look as dodgy as hell. I never intend to kill anyone though so I don’t think it’s a problem.

21) I usually only get one cold a year. That’s the only time I need tissues, I never use tissues any other time. I’m just not a sniffly person. One box usually lasts about 18 months at our place.

22) Last year, I only ironed 5 items in 365 days. So far this year I’ve only ironed one thing.

23) I’m not very friendly. That’s sort of ok in Sydney, because no one is really friendly. But when we leave Sydney, Ian and I are always taken back by other people’s friendliness. This leads to us constantly checking in with each other –  ‘Do you think we’re being friendly enough?’

24) I feel like an igloo when I wear white.

25) I’ve been sad lately. I miss hanging out with Donna, Sheela, Kylie, Amy and Amber all at the same time.

Well, that’s it folks, my nonsense is done. If you didn’t know ANY of those things about me, then you win a Neen date! We clearly need to spend more time together.

And now I think a little blogging hiatus is necessary. Don’t you?

List thirty: My questions to the universe

Universe, listen up, I have questions for you!

1) Why can’t I write comments on to Blogger blogs?
Sometimes I post a comment and it works just fine. Most of the time I write something, hit send, nothing happens. I re-write the comment, this time copying it just in case, I hit send, nothing happens and so on. Usually after the screen has refused about six times I quit.

Tomas and Jones – if you’re reading this, I loved the question with which you ended your last blog. Blogger just wouldn’t let me tell you!

2) When will it be possible to scroll through images in a person’s etsy store rather than having to click on each item individually?
I’m sure it would encourage more browsing.

3) How did I ever live without my Samsung Galaxy?
And was it really even living?

 4) Why is the ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ app not in the Android app shop? Why is this app only for iphone people? It seems very platformist to think that only iphone people might want daily suggestions for performing random acts of kindness.

5) When will I get to see Donna?
I feel empty and sad that it’s been so long. I cried a great deal about this today and still feel very sorry for myself. And her.

6) When will Paulina Simmons write a happy story?
I mean, don’t get me wrong, Universe. Misery has never been more pleasurable than in her hands, but seriously does the woman even KNOW how to write a happy tale?

7) And what do people think about my obsession with starting sentences with conjunctions?
Purists,  I’m sure, would not approve.

8) Why does it only rain when I wear satin, suede or gauze shoes?
Why? Why? 

9) Why would I buy shoes incorporating gauze anyway?
Ok, this question is probably for myself, not the universe. And I know the answer to this one, it’s cos they look cute.

10) Why am incapable of making good eggs?
Poached, scrambled, fried. None of them ever work out.

11) Will I ever be able to fly without my ears aching for ages afterwards?
I hope the answer  to this is yes!

Metal works

Yesterday I sang the praises of some talented ceramicists I admire. But if it’s metal ware we’re talking, then Michael Aram is the man. His work, inspired by nature, incorporates some wooden elements but is primarily metal. If I’m in DJ’s, I always make sure I walk by his counter and and admire.

His work would look quite striking on a dining table, of this I am sure.

Weekend foodage

Oh me oh my, hasn’t it been chilly this weekend? We’ve stayed snuggled up indoors as much as possible, heading out only for supplies.

Last night it was finally cold enough to make the pork neck, snake bean and peppercorn curry that I’d seen in the January edition of Gourmet Traveller. It was spicy hot – like a little bowl of fire and it absolutely hit the spot.

We’ve drunk more cups of tea over the last couple of days than we’ve ever drunk in our life. Along with a freshly brewed pot, this afternoon we also enjoyed a lovely orange and almond cake that I made from my Food Safari book. You can find the recipe here.

Don’t you love my tea cosy? Amber, Sheela and I each bought ourselves a cosy from the tea pot festival in Morpeth last year. The other girls laughed at us and told us we were like old ladies. Leigh has also made fun. But I know they were all just jealous. Mum had to perform surgery to mine so it could actually fit on my tea pot.

I’m off to bedfordshire now. Think I’ll take the laptop to keep my fingers warm!

List twenty nine: Neen’s tips for clutter free living

Alissa seems to be of the flattering opinion that I am a cracker jack organiser. She suggested that I create a list of pointers for being organised and for getting rid of unnecessary items around the house.

It’s really quite sweet but I’ve been wondering if it’s actually true and whether I’m qualified in any way to sprout off about clutter free living. I myself could be much more minimalistic than I am and there are many times I am quite disorganised.

However after thinking about this some more, I realised that I do have the cleanest desk in my office and I do have almost every item in my flat sorted out and lined up. And I am pretty hell bent on getting on top of things before they get on top of you. I never forget a birthday or to pay a bill on time. So, yes.  I think perhaps I am qualified.

So here we go. My top tips for living a more organised, (read happier) life.

1)    Don’t fill your home with things you don’t use or that you don’t love

For me, decluttering is probably easier than for some other, erm, pack rats. And this is because I’m not at all sentimental. I don’t keep things just because someone gave them to me or because I might one day use them.

My suggestion is that you do an annual clean up and give away any unwanted gifts, or any item that you haven’t used for a whole year.

 2)    When things starts piling up, box it all up then throw it away later

If you have lots of bits of paper or other random items that you haven’t had a chance to look through, put them in a box, write the date on it and if you haven’t looked at in a year, then throw it away. Don’t even sort through it first.

3)    Use a calendar

Put everything on the one calendar. Social engagements, birthdays, anniversaries, anything you need to remember. Look at the calendar every Monday to see what you have on, who you need to text, send a card to, visit, etc. If someone’s birthday is on the 1st of the month, don’t discover this only when you turn the page. On the calendar seven days before their birthday write ‘Sam’s birthday, coming soon’. That way you have time to mail a gift.

 4)   Pack and separate things in dedicated boxes or containers

Cords all go in a cord box. Stationery in a stationery box. Spices in a spice box, etc. That way if you need something you know where to find it

 5)    Create a functional junk drawer

Use a bunch of boxes to bring order to your junk drawer. I use gift boxes. I figure out what fits into them, and then how they all fit together. Dividing things into separate boxes make it easier to find what you are looking for.

 6)    Folderise

You must have folders. Folders are your friends. Files on your computer should be in folders, papers in your house should be in folders. If there is no folder for it, get rid of it. Things that can’t be filed should be feared.

 7)    Have a place for everything 

I always know where everything is so I never waste time looking for something. I could tell a stranger where to find anything in my home. If I can’t find something, it’s because it’s not there.

The place for things you never use is in the bin or at Vinnies.

 8)    Put it away now

The single, simplest thing I do to stay personally organised is to put whatever item, clothing, bag, pen, etc, away immediately after I’ve used it. Before I leave work every day I clean my desk, put away files and therefore come in the next day to an organised space. This helps to mentally feel on top of things.

9)    Sort at the source

Throw away grocery receipts before you leave the shopping centre. Go through your mail at the mail box. Only take into your house what you need to have.

10) Clean or tidy one room per day

This is something I learnt from my sister. She sets the timer on her phone and rotates through the rooms in her house, cleaning a different room a day for 15 minutes. Gone are my two hour cleaning sessions each weekend. Love it!

 11) Make lists!

Before you go to bed at night, write down one thing you have to achieve the next day and one extra thing you’d like to.

My list for tomorrow is:
Must do – post Lisa’s card
Try to – Call Mum & email Donna

Also make a list of all the things you want to do in your life and try to cross one off each month.

12)  If all else fails, invite me over
I’ll purge your place for you!

I really do feel the most calm about life when I am in a well ordered space. When life gets a bit crazy, some people turn to the bottle, but not me. Oh no, I turn to my linen cupboard. Cleaning it out brings me a sense of peace. I know this sounds kind of silly. Sometimes I wonder what other people would think if they could see me sorting and resorting cupboards. And I figure they’d probably say the same thing that Ian does:

“You really are very anal but you do seem to be enjoying yourself”.

Precious, pretty, perfect porcelain

I do so love alliteration. And even more than I love alliteration, I love beautiful porcelain. Not the old school, porcelain doll kinda porcelain, but the pretty, whimsical art by the likes of Helen Beard and Samantha Robinson.

I simply had to reblog, Helen Beard’s work that I first saw on First House on the Right a few weeks ago. I’ve been looking at Helen’s website almost every day since. She illustrates onto her own hand thrown pots and the results are just delightful.



I first discovered Samantha Robinson when I visited a few of the Husk stores in Melbourne earlier in the year. Her watermelon bowl caught my eye and I’ve admired her ever since. She distributes through two of her own Sydney based stores and has recently been picked up by Anthropologie.












At the Eveligh Artisan Markets, I was also impressed by ceramicist Keiko Matsui. Her work is less detailed, more structured but no less striking. Leigh’s friend, Kim was with us as we were oooh and aahing. And as she’d experimented with this kind of work before, she explained just how hard it is to make teapots and jugs on a kiln. When she explained the process, I appreciated even more, the time that must have gone into Keiko’s work.

I really love the blue vase with a dent in it. I like things with flaws.




And lastly, don’t you just love the ideas of the four seasons mugs produced by Bailey Does Not Bark? Wouldn’t it be nice as the seasons change to swap the cup you drink from?

Bringing order to my shopping list, Sheelster style

I’m anal about quite a lot of things. My grocery list is not one of them.

I usually write down the things that I know I want or need and then as I read through recipes I want to make, I just add the ingredients to the list. Before I leave the house I do a final scout around to see if there’s anything else I haven’t thought of. There’s no structure, there’s no grouping of any sort and there’s certainly no tidy handwriting.

Exhibit A:


The Sheelster on the other hand is very particular about how these lists are written. It’s one of her (many) little quirks. There has to be the right amount of spacing between items and sometimes if she isn’t happy with how it looks then she’ll start again.

Exhibit B:

Earlier this year I sent her a photo showing what my list looked like. I received a frantic sms back exclaiming ‘Why aren’t the pastries grouped together’??? ‘And why are the cleaning products written amongst the fruit’.

I had thought I’d done quite well at least grouping the clothing items I needed together.

When I got home and sent through the updated version, where I’d scribbled out as I went along, the response was along the lines of ‘I can’t believe you haven’t drawn a straight line across the items. You’ve just given me a coronary. Goodbye’.

                                                               Exhibit C:

Since then, I have been trying to improve my list structure. Mostly to appease the Sheelster but also because I do end up doubling back through the store quite a lot as I suddenly find some other product whose aisle I have long since passed.

So far, this is the tidiest I have been. Yesterday I saved time, AND I no longer have to worry about friends dying of heart attacks. Well, not from my shopping lists anyway.

Exhibit D:

Are you thinking that Sheela and I spend a lot of our relationship discussing the silly things in life? Well then you’d be correct. And I love it.

List twenty eight: Fabulous features of my future home

Daydreaming about what our future home might look like is something I do a lot of. According to Donna, once you buy the home, you often don’t have the dollars to decorate it the way you want. But a girl can still dream right?

So first up, the house itself. I like two styles – federation homes and cute white cottages. Although I wouldn’t be opposed to living in an old church or firestation. I like the idea of a firepole taking me from my bedroom to the lounge.

Sheels and Kylie used to live in an old church. They used the baptisimal font for storage!


And now the list of essential features:

1. A kitchen with lots of bench space and an island
The island is not negotiable but I wouldn’t mind if it was white or chocolate brown.


2. A communal table
I like the idea of a square table for eight. I wouldn’t want to cook for more than eight really and a square means that everyone can see each other and interact. A lazy susan would of course be needed for the centre too.

This long table also really appeals to me though. It means that you could craft or work on one side by day and still have space for dinner to be eaten by night.


3. Dual showerheads, dual basins
The bathroom is one place I don’t like to share. Dual showerheads and our own basins sounds like a dream come true. Our own cabinets would be nice too!


Although I’d never do either of the following styles, these wacky bathrooms make me laugh. I’d love to suprise E with Star Trek tiles!


4. A library!

5. A nook for reading
I know it’s quite greedy to say that I want a library PLUS a reading nook. But I really do think both are quite essential.

6. A Neen chair
I’ll need a chair that’s so colourful Ian won’t want to sit in it. Preferably one that is patch
work-esque. Where DOES one buy a patchwork chair? Sighs. I wish I knew.


7. Some whimsy
An indoor slippery dip? Hells yeah! And a Hobbit hole in the backyard will be needed too. Where else will our guests stay?


8. Splashes of colour
I love the multi coloured chairs in the first image. And a chest of drawers Kate Spade style. Nioce.

9. A mantel piece
Even if it’s fake. We’re having one. It shall be filled with candles on the inside and ceramic white vessels shall cover the top.


10. Wall art
Oh yes. Everyone needs Peter Pan on their ceiling!

 11. Cute stuff for outdoors
An envelope mail box up and a wicked witch weather vane

12. A doggie
What’s that you say? I need a Golden Retriever to share it all with. Ok, I’ll take her. I’ll call her Mooze 2.

All images from Pinterest except:

– House number two from Martha Stewart
– Library number two from First House on the Right
– Nook number two from White Tapestry
– Chest of drawers with splashes of colour from Kate Spade