Sweating the cold stuff

 Iceblock

I know that there is a recurring theme with my blog posts. But, in my defence, it seems to me that most problems in life relate to logistics; that is, the moving of people or things from one place to another. As I grow older I have come to consider the benefits of staying put. In fact I might be happy if I never had to move anything or anyone ever again.

Recently, I met the lovely Luke. Luke makes icepacks. Icepacks are good for moving dinners from our kitchen to your house. Last week I needed to visit Luke, pick up the icepacks and take them back to the kitchen. Couldn't be too tricky.

Because I rarely do such jobs alone, I had to take the most junior of the recipe testers with me. He wasn't all that keen, until I mentioned that we were going to be travelling in the ute, and there would be a forklift at the end of the trip. He then decided he was very keen indeed.

I messaged Luke to arrange a suitable time to collect the cargo. I proudly told him that the entire load would fit comfortably in the back of the ute, and we would collect the lot.

A message came back. "The icepacks weigh 900kg. Are you sure your ute can handle the weight?"

Ooo errr.

I consider myself knowledgeable on many topics. Vehicle weight limits are not among them. I phoned the senior recipe tester.

The senior's phone trilled loudly. On the kitchen bench. Next to the kettle, where it was still plugged in charging. The senior was across town at work.

After some soul searching, I did manage to contact the senior and discuss weight limits. He was fairly clear in his reply. "You can carry that weight in the back. If you don't mind doing a wheelie all the way home."

Ooo err again. I phoned Luke to suggest that perhaps I could take half of the load. No problem.

The senior recipe tester had taken the ute to the kitchen that morning, which is where we usually need it to be parked. The junior and I drove the car to the kitchen to collect the ute to collect the icepacks. It was when we arrived at the side of the ute that I realised, contrary to what Luke had suggested, we did have a problem.

The senior, while leaving his phone at home, had taken the ute keys to work with him. The junior may have given me a withering look. I phoned Tim, who delivers your dinners to you.

Tim had a key to the ute, and most fortunately was not very far away. We drove to meet Tim and procure a key. We drove back to the kitchen.

The ute is not well designed to carry the most junior of recipe testers - it only has a front seat. The particular junior I had with me, required a car seat. We removed the car seat from the car and commenced putting it into the ute. In order to anchor the car seat the front seat has to be bent forward. I pulled the lever, which violently flung the seat forward, pinning an overenthusiastic junior under the dashboard. He may have given me another withering look.

We look forward to delivering your dinners. They'll be cold when they get to you.

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An award winning weekend!

Image of Rachel with Peace Mitchell & Katy Garner, AusMumpreneur founders

It has been a big weekend. On Friday night I was honoured to be awarded the Women's Business School Excellence Award at the AusMumpreneur Awards for 2017. It was a night of celebration of the many, many remarkable achievements of entrepreneurial women in Australia. I certainly spent the evening in the company of greatness.

Image of Rachel, Kimberley and Jay with their awards

My huge congratulations to my fellow finalists, and to especially to Kimberley Colquhoun, Handy Communications and Jay McClure, The Invaluables who took second and third place.

Image of Kate & Irish with the Hills Shire Council Locals for Locals business awards

But that wasn't where it ended. Across town, Dinner on the Table received the Hills Shire Council Mayor's commendation Locals for Locals Business Award for community contribution. Kate and Irish, who work in the kitchen cooking your dinners were there to accept this award.

We are just a little beside ourselves with excitement - and are so grateful for this recognition. I am so very proud of the Dinner on the Table team. They pour their hearts and souls into cooking your dinner and are committed to changing the daily lives of all those we cook for.

I certainly wouldn't be without them.

We've launched our own #waronwaste

Image of pumpkin and someone cutting it up in the background

We buy veggies for your dinners from a local vegetable farm. When I first went to the farm to talk to the farmer about this arrangement we gazed out across his fields. "Well," he said to me, "You'll have to give me a couple of days notice of your order."

"Ok," I replied.

"So I can pick 'em."

When the veggies get to our kitchen they have often just been plucked from the ground. We need to wash them, then we trim them, before we chop them up for you. They don't come in plastic bags, they're rarely neatly cubed, and they never have a 'washed and ready for use' sticker on the pack.

But all this chopping and trimming means we fill up our bins with vegetable scraps.

Like many of you, we recently watched the ABC's War on Waste in horror. Compostable waste, put into the bin might actually create a bigger problem than other kinds of garbage. We were dismayed at this, and decided we just couldn't carry on.

The Hills School just down the road from us, in Northmead, caters specially for the educational needs of children and young people with disabilities. They also participate in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. They have the most beautiful productive gardens.  AND they compost. ...We got an idea.

We're really excited to tell you that each week students and staff of The Hills School now visit our kitchen and collect our veggie scraps. The scraps feed the school chickens and their herb and veggie beds. School students participate in the gardening program, learning how to grow, and then cook food.

In the spring, these same veggie beds will provide us with herbs that we'll cook into your dinners (just quietly, we can't wait!) We'll keep you posted!

Parenting on display, and the case of the sore... um...

Ants

There are times when you find your parenting on display for those around to observe. This will oft invite opinions from others: thought, if you're lucky or they are kind. Spoken, if you, and they, are not. It is perhaps most disconcerting when you need to deal with the goings on of a more sensitive part of the anatomy. In public. In this situation, the stakes only get higher.

We strongly encourage our junior recipe testers to play sport. So they do. The eldest of our juniors plays soccer, and so on a Saturday morning, along with the rest of the parent and sibling martyrdom, we go along to watch. It should be stated that for those juniors not actually engaged on the field, there is something less than delight expressed about attending a game.

On Saturday, however, one of the juniors finally had good reason for his chagrin.

While we stood on the sidelines cheering and attempting not to provide too much refereeing advice, the non-playing juniors, along with some other long-suffering siblings, sat on grass at the side of the field playing. Sometime into the second half we were distracted by some yelling. The youngest of our juniors walked towards us with a pained expression.

"My penis hurts," he announced in his loudest voice.

I walked towards him, mainly in an attempt to get out of earshot of the gathered parent-crowd. If we were going to commence a discussion of a sensitive nature, I figured this best done without an audience.

By the time I reached him he had his hand down the front of his jeans and was looking more distressed. I picked him up and walked further away, attempting to soothe and comfort. I may have suggested a small drink of water? He shrieked and became rather distressed.

There are some items of clothing that civilised folk don't usually remove in polite company. Your jacket, for instance, may be perfectly acceptable to doff. Your pants not so much. It was however, quickly apparent, that no amount of soothing talk was likely to aid the situation. The clothes were going to have to come off.

Now, in my defence, my reluctance to believe there was any real problem does stem from the junior in question and his propensity towards histrionics and hypochondria. So you will understand my surprise when I found a large black ant in his small pair of undies. The ant was quickly squashed and the soothing recommenced.

Given the commotion we were causing, several parents enquired after the poor unfortunate junior's wellbeing. Four spectator fathers winced when we informed them of the predicament. One watched the remainder of the game with his legs crossed.

Thank you to the parent martyrdom who managed firstly to locate an icepack, but most heroically, didn't flinch when they realised where it needed to go.

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.

Confident in my capability... Challenged when proving it

Image of a sunset across a paddock

I blame it on the time. Actually, I blame it on the time of day. And the lack of sleep. And the fact that I felt a little fraught at the time.

I am not generally inept at public transport. I do not usually have difficulty discerning sign boards and timetables. A very long time ago I lived in East Africa, and managed to negotiate the public transport system there. On one notable occasion I shared my seat with a live chicken, while a panic stricken goat was hoisted past my window and onto the roof of the bus upon which I sat. When it comes to transportation, I have runs on the board.

I was, on those occasions, travelling alone.

Last week, the junior recipe testers and I had the opportunity to travel to the most senior recipe testers' (AKA Mum & Dad's) farm. By train. The train left Central Station at 12.19pm, a perfectly decent time to travel. It was when I went to book the tickets I made the horrifying discovery that there were no seats left on the train.

The juniors were dismayed. There were tears. And gnashing of teeth. The only alternative was a train leaving Central at 7.04 AM. This meant that we had to be at the bus stop near home at 5.30. AM. The juniors were not the least deterred. And so the senior recipe tester dropped the four of us, and our four wheelie suitcases, at the nearest bus stop, at a time at which is it both very dark and very cold.

We travelled to Wynyard on the bus with little incident. During that first leg, I felt it incumbent upon me to educate the juniors about commuters. They are travelling to work, I instructed. They are busy, and in a hurry, and won't be pleased if they trip over a Spiderman wheelie bag. And if you cannot swipe your Opal card very quickly at the turnstile... I will have to do it for you.

The juniors dutifully watched out for commuters, stayed close, didn't get lost, and got remarkably adept at swiping efficiently. Even those who aren't tall enough to be able to see the touch pad.

We then struck a small hitch at Wynyard train station. The trouble with being responsible for small children, is that you not only have to convince yourself you are capable of caring for them, you may, on occasion, be called upon to convince random members of the public too. But when your holiday travels start well before dawn, I think you could perhaps be cut a little slack if you occasionally sound like a complete lunatic.

"I'm looking for platform 2, please," I enquired of a uniformed man.

"There isn't a platform 2," came the reply.

"What about the train to Epping, leaving from Platform 2?"

"The train to Epping leaves from platform 4. Do you want to go to Epping?"

"No."

"Where are you going?"

"I need to get to the city."

Given that we were in fact standing in a city train station, I should not have been surprised when the gentleman raised his eyebrows.

"The next city circle train leaves from platform 5."

"Doesn't the train to Epping leave in about 2 minutes?"

"I thought you weren't going to Epping. Where do you want to go?"

"Central. But I thought the Epping train would be quicker."

There was a pause, while he considered me and my three progeny and their significant suitcases for a journey of only two stops. "Where are you actually going?"

"Bungendore."

At this point I believe the gentleman was making mental notes. He noted what the junior recipe testers were wearing. He memorised what I was wearing... all things he would need later to explain to some authority, either law enforcement or child protection, about the missing passenger who, together with her three charges, had not the first clue about where she was going. 

I'm not sure of the final destination of the train we eventually got on. Fortunately for me, it stopped at Central.

I could use your vote... AusMumpreneur Awards

Vote for me button AusMumpreneur Awards

I am honoured to be nominated for an AusMumpreneur Business Award in the Making a Difference (Business) category.  This is a people's choice award... which means I could really use your vote.

Our long term vision at Dinner on the Table is to challenge the way we support people with disabilities and those close to them, most often their families. We believe that meeting the needs of all members of a household has a positive impact on family wellbeing. This may be no more prevalent than in families living with disability.

Did you know that crisis driven family breakdown in families living with disability is often related to the unmet needs of those in the household who don't have a disability? And yet, disability services continue to provide support to individuals with disabilities and rarely to those who live with them. We all have to eat. So why not cook people a really good dinner?

We want to make a difference in the lives of families living with disability as well as those who don't. We want to make your life easier, and we want you to eat well. Winning this award will help us tell this story to a bigger and broader audience.

I'd love your support, with your vote, here. Every voter also goes into the running to win a family sailing adventure, courtesy of Melbourne Sailing Adventures.