Sunday, February 27, 2011


Perhaps you are thinking about renovating.  Perhaps you are just considering an add-on.  Perhaps you’ve lost your freaking mind.  That’s why I am here. Simply to give you a few points to consider.  From someone who is completely fucking over it – renovating that is.  Here are a few tips.


As documented, we sold and moved from an oh, 5 year old house that needed for nothing, into a 50 year old shitbox.  To be fair, the market was high, we were panicking and we were living with our in-laws.  It was mental times.   That’s not to say I didn’t do my research.  I had dragged 3 kids (one 3 months old) through countless homes in 35 degree heat with no air-con in the car and I had seen renovators dream after renovators dream.  All felt wrong and frankly, stinky.  I was running out of patience and to be honest, sweat glands. 


That’s when through the loss of my mobile phone, a crazy message left on another mobile phone and a band of blue beads came into play.  See, Phil was at work, I decided to do the open houses and let him know which, if any, he should come and have a look at.  Unfortunately, I put my phone on the roof of the car, drove off and ran over it after the second inspection.  I then, had to use a public phone booth and because the number wasn’t recognised, Phil did not pick up the call.  I left a message to tell him where I would be at 1pm.  Be there or be square. 


As it turns out, this was a private deceased estate.  House that had a really low reserve, really close to the water and they really just wanted their cut.  Apparently Hazel had lived the good life of orange shag pile carpet and shower leaks and had carked it in the house somewhere.  I wholeheartedly believe she is still here, just as an aside.


Anyway, this particular day, they were firesale-ing all of Hazels stuff and doing a joint open for inspection.  Maddie fell in love with some of Hazels old blue beads.  As for the house?  Well I did a walk through and thought, meh, too small, too much work, just too much too.  We secured the beads and walked out to see Phil waiting across the road. Seems he’d gotten the message.


He said he’d take a look.  And I started to see it through his eyes.  Rip up the shagpile, put down some timber floors, re-do the (one bathroom), build another level up, put in a pool, fuck we redesigned that baby in 15 minutes.  Ahh, so what the built-ins would not even take my work clothes, pah, who cares, we were on a renovation revolution.  We made them offer 30 minutes later.  And then slept uncomfortably all night, doing our best impression of a prayer, hoping old Hazel's crazy kids picked us.  They counter offered and before you knew it we were the proud owners of the hardest house on earth to renovate.  Well done Morleys.


So:  Here’s a few tips from someone who’s been blinded by the light and no longer sees rainbows.


Never ever, ever, ever, ever, buy a house with only one toilet.  I don’t care who you are, how many people are in your family, one toilet is never adequate.  Sure, I’m married to a plumber, but that doesn’t mean he could wack up a second toilet where there was no basic infrastructure.  There was a constant line up for that toilet and more than once, emergency provisions had to be mocked up in the back yard.  I am not talking about number ones here.


Forget the hot tradesman fantasy.  Just forget it.  There will be no Desperate Housewives scenario with a hot guy wanting to have his way with you on the freshly laid tiles.  Reality: He will be an old fat hairy guy who turns up too early and cops an eyeful of you in your pj's minus support bra. 


Do not try and DIY.  No, you are not a fucking plasterer.  OK.  You are just not.  You also do not know how to kill termites yourself.  As evidenced when Phil decided to bring them into the house in the trailer to try and eradicate them with a blow torch and bug spray.  Call the exterminator.  Or the fire brigade.


Borrow more money than you think.  Seriously.  Whatever you think it is going to cost you, double it.  We had huge ideas about what we would do with this place. Then we got a few quotes.  Even though we are lucky enough to do a fair bit ourselves, the compounding costs just blow you out of the water. 


Get used to going to bed with the shits with each other.  Our worst day was the white on white day.  Let me explain.  We both decided the roof colour and the render colour.  We did the colour test and it looked tops.  So the day we both arrived home from work at the same time and found we lived in a Greek Palace, aka white on white, we both got ridiculously angry at one another.  To be fair, this was just compounded by the fact we had gotten the bill for the addition which was double what we had been quoted and I was more than likely sick of having to play toilet roulette. 

Last but not least do not make friends with the people in your street.  Oh, unless you never want to leave.  Initially we were meant to come in, renovate the shit out of the place and be gone a year later.  Flip it and do it all over again.  That was the plan Stan.  There were factors, sicknesses, deaths, diagnosis of behaviours etc etc that led to us getting a little distracted, but to be honest it was the street.  We stopped renovating and started socialising and loving our neighbours.   The days of wallpaper removal got replaced with days of indoor cricket and pool parties. 


So there you go, my few tips on how to successfully avoid being a shit renovator.  We are only two or three jobs from finishing this sucker.  And then, because we want to move onto a desirable suburb, we will buying the worst house in the best street AGAIN.  One thing I can promise you, no matter how shit the house, there will be two toilets.  That much I do know.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I have been, in as many weeks, to as many birthday parties.  The average age of the birthday boy or girl has been 5.   Bar one, they have all been held at an indoor play centre, aka the surface of hell.  One more, and I fear my soul will be completely destroyed.

And, eleven years in, I am probably what you would consider a veteran of the kid’s birthday party. I’ve seen it all.  Rides in Limos, swims with dolphins, Bowling, Shop-a-thons, Reptile shows and of course, Hungry Jack meltdowns.  Luckily, they go in cycles and in the not too distant future, I may very well be into my birthday party retirement.


Maddie, now 11,  is blissfully old enough for me to drop and run.  No matter what the occasion, I rarely need to stay and chat to the parents and/or get involved in the politicking at school.  Unless they want to discuss her insanely good looking teacher.  Then I might stay a few extra minutes.


She was however, the child I had to cut my teeth with at Birthday Parties.

The very first party she ever got invited to was to that of the little girl of the coolest couple at the kindy.  I wanted desperately to be friends with them. She was a model, he was, well, I don’t know what he was, but he too was disgustingly good looking and they were the hipsters that while polite, were untouchable.  Then came the invite to their house for their daughters party. 


I turned up early.  And first.  Not knowing a soul.  It’s pretty much how I left. First, early and not knowing a soul.  Every time the hot models spoke to me it was like I had some weird speech impediment and could only respond with weird monosyllabic answers.  Like “Dirt” or “Crud”.    To be fair, it was a weird home party where no one really seemed to be speaking to each other much.   The clown was fun though and I hung out with her.

I thanked our uber cool hosts when leaving and was strapping Maddie into her car seat when I felt a weird pain in my groin.   And then on knee cap.  I looked down to see I was standing on a giant green ants nest and those suckers had moved up my jeans faster than St Kilda AFL club scandal.  My first instinct was to dack myself.  I mean, they were biting me and they were in my undies.  I looked around at the quiet street, saw it was all clear and ripped my jeans down.  That’s when I heard this “Bern, you’ve forgott”.  I turned around to see gorgeous father holding out a party bag.  There I was, standing in my undies, ferreting around inside of them, jigging up and down quietly moaning.  To his credit, he didn’t respond to the scene and simply handed me the bag and turned on his heel.  There were no return requests for play dates.


On our second shot we fared a little better.  In hindsight anyway.  Oh, except for the bit where we gave the entire Kinder class of 2004 pinkeye.  See, we were invited to a bowling party of a little girl in Maddies kindy class.   Maddie was complaining about a sore eye.  Said it felt like she had sand in it.  Plausible, we had been to the beach that morning.  Still, we decided to attend.     She probably touched every single bowling ball that day. Right after rubbing the shit out of her eye.  It was around about the third time that she came running over crying saying her eye wouldn’t stop hurting that another mother suggested she might have conjunctivitis.   We stayed for cake (which, by the way, I, as a parent, ALWAYS have a slice of regardless of the death stares from the other mothers) and went straight to the doctors.  Bingo.  Conjunctivitis.  Highly contagious.  Freaking A.  By week’s end, half the class were missing due to a case of Pink Eye.    Funnily enough, we are fantastic friends with that girls’ parents today.  It’s funny where you will meet them, but often it’s not obvious at the time. 


But you truly can’t rate yourself as a parent until you’ve had to endure a play centre birthday party.  Now you might have attended these play centres so you can catch up with your girlfriends and a mild case of giardia, but until you’ve sat through the two hours of small talk with the other mums and dads and occasional soul sucking disco dance, you haven’t really done it right.  Today was no exception.  Not only was the committee member mother from hell there, I also had to rescue kids from the Shark shaped jumping castle (complete with gigantic scary as shit teeth) as it collapsed.  Every parent’s worst nightmare.  Fortunately the play centres operators didn’t seem to be too stressed and simply plugged the power cord back into the powerboard.  Um, I’m sorry; WTF is it doing accessible to young kids in the first place??


Once that drama was complete, there was the obligatory head clash.  Can I just let you know now, your child will cry at least once during the play centre birthday experience.  Whether it be from falling off the stage when the party hosts blow bubbles just off the edge of the stage so all the kids go nuts and fall to their fates below, or simply because the big kids let a giant medicine ball loose from a ramp to mow down your poor unsuspecting child below.  There will be tears. And at least one child will have to be rescued by their parent from tunnel 6 stories up.   Heads up, do not wear a dress.  

It appears I will be repeating todays scenario at least up until Jack is 8.  Let me count that on my hands, shit, 4 more years?  I don't think my stress levels can take it.  One way to change that is to have the kid with perpetual pink eye though?   Up there for thinking Bern. 

Monday, February 14, 2011


Depending on your situation, Valentines Day can either be the loveliest of loneliest day of the year. 

If you are newly in love, you can pretty much count on the 12 red roses being delivered to your workplace, obligatory cute teddy bear and giant card.  And, unlike someone who has been married for say, over 10 years, this card will NOT have fireworks on the front and words that not so sublety hint at some firework action later that night.  Oh yeah, stay Classy Phil.

I digress.

If you are single however, Valentines is just one giant Fuck you.  Oh you’re single?  Really?  No one loves you on this day that is February the 14th? Well why  don't we just dedicate an entire day to rubbing that in your face?  Shall I get the razorblades or will you?

And it shouldn’t be this way.   No.  I propose a day we can all relate to.  Warnie Day.

Love him or loathe him, you’ve got to admit, if there is one guy who can turn a completely shit situation into a great one, it’s Shane Warne, top cricket player, even better, player of the people.  

He’s been caught and banned from cricket for taking banned substances.  His excuse?  "My Mum was keen for me to look skinny on TV and slipped me a couple of diuretics."  Plausible?  Sure. In fantasyland.

Then there’s the hair. And the teeth.  And whatever he’s packing in his shorts.  Because clearly he must be.  I mean, that’s the thing about Shane Warne, all men want to be him and all women just want to know what the hell the attraction is.  Does he ooze some kind of special scent?  

I saw him once at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.  He was at the bar, texting on his phone (given) and looked up when I walked past.  My loins did not stir and equally, he did not approach me for a possible lurid text messaging relationship.  I feel like I have let the people of Australia down with this admission

Perhaps it’s his way with words?  I’ll let you judge from the following tweet:

@warne888  to @ElizabethHurley have a suggestion for your new bed linen. Wake up - shower, look at bed linen and its made itself - wow. Best seller!!

See! Don’t tell me ladies, you would not be on the first plane out to Australia if you received that on twitter?  This is why this guy needs to be celebrated.  Forget your Keats and your Wordsworths, Warnie is the poet of our new generation.

Then, once he had Liz safely cocooned in Melbourne, he put the call out on twitter to his followers:

@warne888 Where is the sexiest place to take Elizabeth for lunch ? Suggestions please ? Chapel St ? Crown ? And no - not for spaghetti on toast !!

A sexy place to eat?  Now sure, most people you and I know who are courting,  would perhaps request the most “romantic” place to take their new lady, but not Warnie, no he wants somewhere that incites a frenzied hot and heavy session.  If only the Rooty Hill RSL had been closer....

And then this. Late tonight, on Valentine’s Day, from Elizabeth:

@ElizabethHurley Happy Valentine's Day! Remember, love is like a rollercoaster ride-sometimes it's exhilarating but sometimes u feel sick and want to get off.

I wonder if that is reference to the fact that Warnie was allegedly texting a Gold Coast porn star on the same night he was out to dinner with her?  Either way, the jury is out on whether Warnie is punching above his weight with Liz.  One thing we know for sure, he's not short on willing candidates. 

So have I sold you?  Let’s face it, presents on Warnie day would be a no brainer.  Simply pick up a hair tip frosting kit for your man and fire him off a lurid text message. Equally, guys, just send out a tweet to your gal, complete with euphemisms about stroking parrots called Ping Pong and dance with a wicket over your head and voila,  Happy Warnie Day.

As for me, this post would have been up in time for Valentine’s Day but I spent the entire day in bed with my husband instead.  Woah, backup, get your mind out of gutter.  We decided the best way to say I love you was to contract a vomiting virus and be totally incapacitated for over 15 hours.  Nothing says romance like cleaning vomit off the sheets.

I’ll leave you with something I came across yesterday.  I don’t necessarily agree, but I can see the appeal...

"No woman will ever truly be satisfied on Valentine’s Day because no man has a chocolate dick wrapped in money that ejaculates diamonds!!!"

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I’ve never had that burning desire to travel.  I’ve never ached to see Big Ben or The Grand Canyon. Big clock. Big hole in the Ground.  Not my thing.  And yes, even after hacking out the entire movie length version of Mama Mia, I was still not tempted to jump on the next plane to Greece and find a lazy pool boy or two.

Of late though, perhaps because my children are becoming more self-sufficient or maybe because I’ve been watching too many movies set there, I am beginning to want, deeply, to visit New York.    I don’t even know what I would do there.  Just stand on the street and let the throngs of suited up people pass me by.  Eat in a Diner.  Take the Subway.  Go ice skating in Central Park.  Sure, cheesy and clich├ęd but absolutely blissful in my opinion.  

The other day someone suggested that my sometimes questionable fashion sense comes down to the fact that I live on the Gold Coast. I however, disagree. Fact is, I could have been born on a  Milan runway and still been fashionably challenged.

And, to be honest,  the Gold Coast is all I’ve ever known.  I was born here and apart from a brief stint on the Tweed Coast, a few weekends in Melbourne and 1001 trips to Bali, I haven’t really been anywhere else in the world.


Kirsty of  4 Kids, 20 Suitcases and a Beagle asked me why I live where I live and originally, this was going to be a post about exactly that.  Why I choose to live on the Gold Coast.  But the more I thought about it, the more I could only come up with one valid reason.  It’s my home.  My friends and family live here.  And that to me is home.


Now Kirsty has covered a lot of ground.  Like, literally.  4 Kids people!  Ground covered.  But seriously, she has  lived in 7 different countries in 11 years and currently lives in Qatar with funnily enough her four children, a beagle, a vast amount of suitcases and oh, her husband.  She knows her shit.  From Libya to the USA, she has witnessed more than most, all the while making additions to her expanding family along the way.  Her favourite place in the whole entire world?  Well, she tells me it's by a creek in country South Australia.   Kirsty also went on to tell me though, she has loved each of the places she has been fortunate enough to live in, but for very different reasons.


So where is your favourite part of the world?  Where do you want to visit most and why?   Do you long to live anywhere but where you do now?


Oh and by the way, if you are wondering the real reason I live on the Gold Coast I’ve got two words for you – Warwick and Capper. 

You're welcome

Sunday, February 6, 2011


So the other day, my friend and I were discussing the footy players who took "sleeping tablets" and got into trouble for it.  Then we started chatting about the stupid stuff we did with drugs. When we started drinking.  Whether we smoked. And whether and/or when our own children would start.

For me, I had my first alcohol experience at 5.  Now wait, don’t call DOCS because it’s too late.  That window of opportunity closed around 1981 and I’m pretty sure if the authorities didn’t care that I was driving around unsecured in the back of an EJ driven by my pissed father, they probably wouldn’t have had him arrested for feeding me  beer in a medicine glass.   Though in hindsight, perhaps they should have.

I am not even kidding when I tell you that he would get himself a beer, apparently I would request some and with Mum giving her blessing, would pour me about 20mls and off I would pop to wander the neighbourhood and talk to the birds in the trees.  Parenting at its finest.

But my first non supervised, covert alcohol experience?  I was 14.  I was staying at my (still) best friend’s house and her parents were going out for the night.  Green Light.  We found a bottle of BOLS gin in their study, hooked in and promptly fell over the Webber bbq out the back.  After picking up the black charcoal and fixing up the BBQ, Bobby Brown demanded we dance to My Prerogative up and down the hallway.  That could have been when we ran our charcoaled hands up and down the walls.  Maybe.

Bonnie’s parents, thankfully, were oblivious to the fact that we filled the Gin bottle up with water and we blamed the dog for the rest.  Unscathed.

My first other drug?  Marijuana.  At about 15 I suppose.  Like most kids, I had a go, but because I’d never smoked cigarettes, was a bit clueless about inhaling and exhaling, hence my lungs did not thank me.  Nor did my Epoxy fringe that accidently caught fire when my friend was trying to light the bong in the 7/11 car park.  Needless to say, getting stoned and I never really took off.

The most stupid experience with drugs?  I was in grade 10.  Probably 16 I guess.  It was our big school Sydney/Canberra Trip.  Trip by name, trip by nature.  See, I get motion sickness and as this was all to be conducted on a bus; I took travel sickness tablets with me.  Around about half way through this, somewhere in the Bonny Hills area, the boys cottoned on to the fact that say, taking 6 or 7 of these tablets, was akin to taking copious amounts of acid.

Now, up until this point, I was a total straight one eighty.  At school.  At home. At my part time job.  I got good marks, didn’t shag boys, and didn’t talk back.  So it was of course unexpected that I, along with my about 10 other girls, would also take the tablets and get faceless.  But take them I did and running through the bush in my Pj’s at -2 degrees kind of gave the game away. That and one of the boys slept in his undies under the bus because he believed it was trying to leave without him.

I was the only girl to get caught, along with 3 other guys.  We were VERY lucky not to be expelled.  We were suspended for a week but the reputation lasted much longer.  The worst of it was that I let my Mum go and defend me to the Principal.  See, I told her I had taken a Panadol and coke, and wigged out.  That old chestnut.  I am so ashamed I let my Mum go into that office and defend her child who didn’t deserve her protection.

I don’t regret the above though you know?  It scared the living shit out of me.  I’ve never touched anything harder.  Ecstasy, GHB etc etc.  It’s around, it always was around, but man, one bad move and that’s your mind – gone.   And I’m kind of fond of my mind.

I have a brother in law who has basically lost his life and massive potential from years of pot smoking.  An incredible artist who now, on a good day, can work up the energy to drive to his mothers house.  We’ve all got stories about how alcohol has broken down families.  Good families, ones that without the addiction to the drink, would be very much an entity today.  If you have never been touched by drug addiction, you are incredibly lucky.

And now, I have three children who are yet to experiment with drugs, but hope I’m a little bit more savvy than my mother was.    Best keep a close eye on the Gin and the medicine glasses though.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Admission: Today I wore high heeled clogs to work. And no, I do not seductively yodel for a living.

I didn’t even realise the error of my ways until I stopped in to the local 4square to get some milk and caught sight of them in the reflective mirror. What the hell Bern? At what point did you think that this was OK? What kind of drugs did you ingest before you purchased them not more than 2 months ago? Bloody good ones, that’s what kind.

And hey, it’s not like it’s my first fashion faux pas. I’m one of those people who never gets it quite right. One step behind or one step too far in front. Like the time I wanted a Choose Life T-Shirt but Mum thought one that said YES in fluorescent yellow would be far more pimping.   Or my cheesecloth era. I was heavily into the cheesecloth skirt and matching bralette. That I wore out. Into Surfers Paradise. Not only did Mum condone this, she freaking well whipped it up on the sewing machine for me!

Nikki here at Styling You awarded me a Stylish Blogger award.  I figured I must have led her in the wrong direction at some point and,  clearly never having met me in real life, I thought I best give her the heads up about my fashion history.

I think I can pin point when it started.  Pre-school

The Year is 1980.  I'm the one in the blue dress in the back row with the punctured eyeball.

So you can see, I clearly had a few issues.  Not only did I black out the eyes of the kids I wanted to take down, I stabbed out my own eye.  See the boy on the right with the boots?  Yeah, I dug him.

Then came school.  I was just never going to be popular when I looked like this:

Grade 1. Complete with Cowlick

Could my pants be any higher??  Could I look anymore like a guy?  Could my shoes be any more colour co-ordinated?  The answer to all three is no.

My brother and his camelscroe.  Greg Chappell was worth it.

So this probably highlights our dual pain.  My brother was a massive cricket fan, hence the Greg Chappell shirt tucked into the highest stubbies on earth resulting in the indecent camelscroe (camel toe x scrotum).  I was just his prop in this photo.  Why do parents make siblings stand in creepy poses such as this?

Yeah. I actually do know these people.  Very well in fact.  Clearly I just wanted to get in on the action and thought I might just photobomb from on high. The lunatic with the daggy hair and pink tartan jumper was a fabulous guest.

But up until here, I could at least blame my mother.  I didn't buy my clothes.  From here on in though, there is no one to blame but myself.

I was going to a Melbourne Cup Function.  Let's just say I failed to win Fashions on the Field.  What the fuck Bern.

I'm the hawt one blocking the poor girl out in the background with my gigantic hair.

This was my year 12 formal. My dress was purple velvet.  It was short.  It had silver piping and it had velvet gloves. And a silver choker.  I do believe this photo was taken in the toilet cubicles and that is the dance teacher in the middle who didn't particularly like me because I wouldn't wear a unitard for her.  

And this was our last public Work Christmas Party.  The Crap decisions just keep on coming.

Today though, when I arrived home, I found this waiting for me on the kitchen table:

No, not a hot chick with massive boobs, the bra!  It's called the miracle bra and apparently it's going to save me $10,000 and painful surgery.  Perhaps this is my new era, a stylish one.

Thanks Nikki,  I've had fun reminiscing about my truly daggy childhood.

Now is when I am supposed to pass on the award, but I am really crap at doing this.  Instead, feel free to take the idea over to your own blog.