Last minute orders are here... for when you're begging for mercy!

Black and white image of children's hands on a table topRecently, I had one of those days. Not the good one. I had a bit to get through, so I made a list. Lists are good. They keep you on track. And there's that sense of great personal fulfillment when you tick something off.

My big problem is, I lose little pieces of paper on which I write lists. But I will not be deterred. I now write them on my phone. And then they do not get lost. Very often.

Towards the end of last week I had a long list and, arriving at my first of many ports for the day, I reached for my list. It was not in my handbag. It was, I then realised, plugged into the charger. On the kitchen bench. At home. My second port of call for the day was home. My third port was my first port. Again.

I played that sort of scenario on repeat, pretty much all day. I finally fell in my front door and started loading up the mixmaster with the requisite ingredients to make pizza dough. Predictably, given what had gone before, we had no yeast.

Now bread dough for pizza is not tricky to make. But it is made inordinately difficult without yeast. I pondered this for a minute when my phone beeped.

The text was from the mother of a friend of my eldest junior recipe tester. Her name is Nancy. I do not know Nancy well, and I promptly replied to her text. Autocorrect saw fit to amend her name. To my horror, I referred to her as "noncustodial". I have no reason, nor, presumably does she, to think that perhaps she is not her child's mother.

I was begging for mercy...

We get it. On Monday, when we brow beat you to get your order in, you feel bright and breezy - and you figure this week you just don't need help with dinners.

And then Wednesday afternoon rolls around. You fly out of the office to battle the traffic, arriving just in time to pick up the kids and then you remember that you forgot to take the meat out of the freezer. Or perhaps you have run out of yeast (we've heard that can happen). And you really don't want to feed your people takeaway. Again.

Well, now you don't have to! We're now offering same-day delivery on top of our usual delivery options.

We're starting this new service in the Hills District. Our Hills customers can now order same-day delivery on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Just order by 3pm and we'll deliver same-day.

We're still offering our usual Tuesday delivery for the Hills and Outer West - just get your order to us by 8am Tuesday and you'll have dinners delivered as usual.

And for our other regions, we're extending order cut off times:

  • if you're on the North Shore, in Northern Sydney or the lower Northern Beaches, order by 8am Wednesday for delivery on Wednesday
  • all other eligible suburbs* should order by 8am Thursday for Thursday delivery.

We can do nothing about autocorrect. We cannot retract embarrassing, insensitive text messages. But when you're begging for mercy, we'll bring you a real dinner.

Other articles:

Turning into my mother, fixing a toilet at 3am, and the perils of flexible work

I think I'm turning into my mother.

Now, I should clarify I like my mother. A lot. There are great many characteristics of hers that I should like to emulate. Her sleeping habits are not one of them.

When I was a teenager my mum could never seem to sleep an entire night. She would wake anywhere between 2am and 4am and look at the ceiling for hours. I couldn't understand it. She was tired... nay, she was exhausted. She worked for both love, caring for 4 children, and money, in a job she enjoyed. I considered her sleeping issues ridiculous. And perhaps evidence of a character flaw.

I've changed my mind.

Now, with irritating regularity, I wake up between 2am and 4am and look at the ceiling. Sometimes for hours.

The other night, one of the junior recipe testers woke up to go to the loo. That was enough to wake me up. And so the ceiling watching commenced. 

He put himself back to bed, with neither incident nor need for assistance, and I tried to go back to sleep. The toilet finished flushing and continued to fill itself. And fill. And fill. And gurgle. And fill some more. And sound like it was flushing again.

It was killing me. So, seeing as I was awake, I thought I'd get up and fix it. I jiggled the button. I flushed. I jiggled some more. I flushed some more. It was hopeless.

To save getting a set of screwdrivers out at 3am, I sought an alternate plan. I left the bathroom, firmly closing the door behind me. The door handle came off in my hand. I stood in the dark, clutching the handle for a few moments, considering my next course of action. I thought about getting the screwdrivers after all, but frankly, couldn't be bothered, and went back to bed.

I eventually dozed off right before a predawn wailing commenced in the hallway outside the bathroom. A desperate junior was standing at the bathroom door, his hand clamped in the, um... clamping position when desperation looms large.

"I'm busting!" he bellowed, "And I can't get into the bathroom." What followed might have come straight from a Goldilocks sequel: "Someone has broken the door handle right off!!!!"

I left him there, clamp in place, and ran for the screwdriver set.

In the last few weeks, researchers in the UK have released their findings that full-time working mothers experienced chronic stress levels 40% higher than women who had no children. Based on a study of over 6,000 women, flexible work arrangements did reduce stress, but only when mothers were working part-time or reduced hours.

Here in Australia, researchers from the University of Sydney agree. But it's not just the hours we putting in at work. It's the hours we're putting in at home. Household labour is not equally divided: women shoulder more. But this isn't about bashing the senior recipe testers we know and love: there are plenty of challenges for them participating in the way they might like.

As I hunted for screwdrivers, praying I could fix the doorknob before the impending flood, I wondered whether flexible work hours sometimes just mean we work all the hours? Like, day and night?

We keep talking about how we should bridge the gender divide when it comes to home and care work. Sometimes we berate our men to do more. But the gap remains.

Other times we implore our employers to provide our partners with better access to work flexibility (Crabb, 2015) so they can be more engaged with their children, with the local school, with the work of running a household. But it still hasn't happened, to the detriment of us all.

And so I have begun to wonder what would happen if employers were prepared to pitch in at home? Will we find employers brave enough to roll up their sleeves and take on some of the work at home?

Sore boobs, the smell of wet sheep and a Happy New Year!

It's 2019. Already. We're so excited to be back in the kitchen for 2019, cooking for you.

I love the Christmas and New Year period. But on reflection through January, I do feel that there are some things I will do differently this year...

Seems every year, on Christmas Eve
That all good sense just ups and leaves
Although I swore we never would
We joined that martyred parent-hood

Of those who stay up far too late
Constructing toys with long debate
Why do we always feel the squeeze
To get things done by Christmas Eve?

I meant to get the carpets clean
During the year, but time was lean
On eve of Christmas. Hip hooray!
"Last chance," I thought, "Today's the day!"

A man arrived, a friendly chap
Took out his hose, hooked up the tap
And in a jiffy he had steamed
The carpets new - they simply gleamed!

"In time for Christmas!" it's bewitchin'
Our furniture piled in the kitchen
I hadn't quite considered yet
The Christmas prep. With wet car-pet.

How does one get a pudding cooked,
While climbing over case of books?
The gifts placed under tree, it's true
Just soak up lots of floor shampoo!

Come faithful ye, glad tidings keep
Our house now smelled of wetted sheep
And yet with Santa in the sky
We'd more to do, with Christmas nigh.

'Twas VERY late on Christmas Eve
We built the kids a trampoline
After searching all the things
We chose the one without the springs

The one that's tricky to erect
Even with strong arms, I quite suspect
But full of hope, the prize in sight
We headed out into the night.

Now let me tell you, let me say
Those tramps are hard in light of day
But I assure you, my words mark
They're even harder in the dark!

We toiled and laboured, watched YouTube
One spring sprung free and whacked my boob
It wasn't really all that fun - 
At last we got the bugger done.

We paused, each to congratulate
By now, it was so very late;
But one small flaw, there was no doubt
The net, it seemed, was inside out.

The juniors, tucked in bed, none heard
I said a lot of naughty words
And so instead of rest and play
We built again on Boxing Day.

From us, we wish you all good cheer
Can't wait to serve you this new year
For me, the break has taught me this
Start sooner on the Christmas list.

Trying to help

I feel certain that the dog would not have bitten the senior recipe tester. That is, if the dog had not thought the senior had pushed it down the stairs.

The senior, it should be said, is not prone to violent acts, towards cute furry animals nor anyone else for that matter. Yet this poor creature saw need to attack the senior's ankle in rather a vicious, blood-drawing fashion.

Shortly after it fell down its own front stairs.

Surely, if it had not fallen down the stairs it wouldn't have even considered that the senior recipe tester had pushed it.

If the dog had not gone out of his front door it would not have fallen down the stairs.

If the senior had not summoned the dog's owner to his front door, the dog would not have escaped out of said door that morning.

If the senior had not needed to turn off the water to the house of the dog owner, he would have had no need to summon the owner to his front door.

If the dog owner's dripping tap had not gone from dripping to steadily running, the senior would not have had need to turn off the water to someone else's house.

If the tap's washer had been changed sooner, the tap would not have gone from dripping to steadily running.

If a large volume of water had not have been running through the retaining wall between our house and their house, the senior might never have considered that the tap's washer should have been changed sooner.

If a large puddle had not developed on our driveway, the senior might never have realised that there was a steady stream of water continuously running through the retaining wall.

If the senior had not driven the car through a hitherto unnoticed large puddle of water on our driveway...

well then, the senior recipe tester would not have been bitten by a dog.

The maintenance of general personal hygiene

I know I don't have it as tough as my grandmother, or her grandmother. Most certainly not as difficult as her grandmother. Modern appliances make the washing of clothes, and therefore the maintenance of general personal hygiene, much simpler than in years gone by.

Until said appliances decide they cannot possibly go on.

Clothes washing in our house is more or less a daily necessity. Late last week, as many days before it, I put a load on, slammed the laundry door, and hastened to the kitchen for breakfast. Some time after breakfast the senior recipe tester went in to the laundry to see if the load was done. One of the junior recipe testers, predictably, had no clean school shirt.

A strange groaning noise emerged from the laundry. The washing machine lights were blinking wildly. "Um," bellowed the senior. "Do you know what F11 means?"

The digital display indicated the washing machine was having an F11. It also sounded like it was having a hernia. The school uniform that needed to be washed, dried, ironed, on the body and out the door was resolutely trapped within the machine. 

We pondered the situation for a moment. The senior threatened to have an F11 of his own. The junior started wailing about what was he going to wear to school. I seriously considered the dinosaur pyjamas he was wearing at the time.

We averted the uniform crisis with the donning of the sports uniform wrested from the drawer. The noise coming out of the washing machine was quieted by opening a valve on the machine near the floor.

The opening the valve required a large bucket, a significant number of beach towels and the opening of the back door to deal with any left over tsunami that escaped past the beach towels.

We all got out the door with my promise to contact a person to come and pay attention to the machine.

As soon as I got to work I dialled the first number on the repairers list. "I think I have a problem with the pump on my washing machine."

"Right." came the friendly reply. "We can come and see about it next Thursday."

"As in, more than a week away?"

"Yes."

"But I'm going to run out of clean undies by the weekend."

Weirdly, there was no response.

"Are you sure you can't come any sooner than that?" I enquired.

"No."

I rang the next repairer on my list.

"I'm sorry, we no longer service that brand."

I rang another repairer.

"We've never serviced that brand."

I rang yet another repairer.

"I don't know anyone who services that brand in this area. Perhaps if you lived somewhere else..." I may have hung up before she finished.

My patience was wearing a little thin. I rang the appliance shop where we purchased the machine to ask for advice on who to call. They gave me the number of the manufacturer and suggested I ask for a recommended repairer.

This seemed very sensible. I phoned them.

"No problem."

"Thank heavens," I replied.

"Let me look you up in our system. It would have been logged for warranty purposes when you purchased the machine. What was the name?"

We went through the usual suspects, name, phone number, address but nothing appeared on the kindly woman's screen. "The only thing I have here is a dishwasher," she said.

"Yes, we have a dishwasher of the same brand, but it's the washing machine that has had it."

"Could it have been purchased at another address, or under another name?"

We went through the senior recipe tester's name, same address details, and his phone number. "No, it's not coming up at all."

I am often grateful to strangers for teaching me things I did not know before. I was sorry that this woman was not able to tell me what brand of washing machine was actually sitting in my laundry, that I purchased approximately 5 years ago, and have used daily since. I am grateful to know which brand it isn't.

I called the first repairer on my list.

Sourcing local honey for you

It's estimated that one third of all food produced on the globe is dependent on pollination by bees. One third! One colony, containing around 50,000 bees, can pollinate approximately 4000 square metres of fruit trees. That's a lot of fruit.

Bees are extraordinarily important to the production of food for both humans and animals to eat. And that, of course, is apart from the delicious honey they make!

As you know, we launched our first dinner cart at Thomas Holt Drive Macquarie Park a few weeks ago, partnering with AMP Capital, who own the site. AMP Capital have been investing in sustainability initiatives to increase the productive use of the sites they own around Sydney.

At Thomas Holt Drive, they have bee hives, along with trained staff to maintain them, keep the bees happy, and to collect the honey. They were delighted to give us some of their honey to cook your dinner.

And so this week we're excited to bring you two delicious offerings: our much adored Teriyaki Chicken, and Apple and Cinnamon Muffins made with honey sourced from our second site at Thomas Holt Drive. Local honey indeed, from hives just 15km down the road.

And on Wednesday this week (5 Sept) we'll be back at Thomas Holt Drive serving up our sensational Teriyaki Wings with a crunchy salad for lunch. If you happen to be in the Macquarie Park area from 11.30, do stop in for a nourishing, locally grown lunch.

Come and sit amongst the trees in the beautiful gardens at Thomas Holt Drive, hear about the onsite sustainability initiatives, and the importance of bees to the world food economy, and enjoy a delicious lunch, cooked using the onsite produce. We'd love to see you there.

Garbage trouble

Setting up a new kitchen has taught me many things. It takes longer than you think. It is more complicated than it first appears. Brand new stainless steel panelling comes wrapped in a protective plastic film. The plastic film needs to be removed before you can start cooking.

Plastic film is bulky and creates a lot of rubbish.

Too much for the new bins that just got delivered.

I offered to assist in this situation by taking a large bag of rubbish home from the kitchen to deposit in our bin. It wouldn't fit in my bin either, and so it sat forlornly round the side of my house.

The other day it was garbage truck day. I was just about to walk the junior recipe testers to school when the garbage truck rolled through our street. In that moment, what I assumed to be a brilliant idea struck me. I grabbed the rubbish bag, instructed the juniors to wait at the top of the driveway and dashed across the road in front of the garbage truck.

Once our neighbour's bin was emptied I signalled wildly to the truck driver that I had another bag of rubbish and could he possibly take it. Not realising just how noisy a garbage truck is, I employed my best sign language. Through various arm waving I indicated to the driver that I would hold the rubbish bag out for him to extend the clamping arm things and lift it into the truck.

He shook his head.

On hindsight, this was probably wise. I was not wearing particularly loose sleeves, but I imagine it would be quite a thing to explain at the depot if I had gotten tangled up in the clamping arm things and flung aloft into the truck.

He wound down his window. "Throw it in," he instructed.

I looked up at the truck. "Um..." I responded.

"Just throw it in." He was starting to sound impatient.

I looked up at the truck again. I'm not sure I had ever previously considered the size of a garbage truck. I clutched the bag of rubbish and took a back swing.

I have now learned that I might have had more success had I tried to throw the rubbish bag over our house. Launching a bag of rubbish into the opening of a garbage truck is like trying to throw it onto a balcony.

On the third floor.

The bag did not sail into the rubbish receptacle in the top of the garbage truck. It hooked itself on the side. And tore. And opened, sprinkling rubbish into our neigbour's driveway. There was a particularly awkward moment when I had to reach up to try and disentangle my bag of rubbish from the side of the truck and pull it down.

This is when I learned that the bag didn't just have protective plastic coating in it. Turns out there was a pile of other stuff too. Pulling the bag down served to spread yet more rubbish across the general vicinity.

With some panic that the truck might just drive off, I got down on my knees and started scraping it up with my hands.

By this stage the driver was wondering what he had done to deserve this scenario on his morning run. I am, however, exceedingly grateful to him: he did hop out to help. We loaded the rubbish into the neighbour's, now empty, bin. The driver hopped back in to operate the clamping arm things.

Setting up a new kitchen has taught me that the best way to get rubbish into a garbage truck is via a rubbish bin.