I’d forgotten about ye Old Fashioned until Dad Down Under popped it back into my head. I’m a BIG fan of Whiskey. Big. Huge. So is Inky apparently. I asked Melbourne Dad the other day if he wanted a Wild Turkey and little Inky popped her head into the conversation and asked, “Wild Turkey please, Mummy”. Little Mimic. Cough.
Here is one of the finest of the Whiskey classics and it’s so simple it will make you cry.
40 ml Scotch or Whiskey
1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Put sugar cube in a glass and drench it with the bitters. Muddle until dissolved. Fill the glass with ice cubes and add whiskey/scotch. Garnish with orange slice or a maraschino cherry if you’re super-dooper fancy.
No prizes for guessing who Scout is dressing up as. I did ask her to chuck me an evil snarl for the photo, to “Be really… witchy poo. Or something” but this is the best I got.
* All reviews are the opinion of Melbourne Mum, and are not sponsored.
Grafete is located in an unlikely pocket of Northcote, on Gladstone Street, opposite the Foodworks near St. George’s Road. Sounds romantic, right? The cafe itself is in a converted printing shop and the walls look like a psychadelic rainbow has vomited all over it. I guess it’s what they call regurgitate industrial. Whatever it is, it works.
If you are looking for a kid-friendly spot, this is IT. They have a kids menu. They have highchairs. They bring out crayons and colouring-in books to entertain the children WITHOUT EVEN BEING ASKED while you scoff crispy bacon and achieve Brainiac status on The Age Quiz. Um yeah, it’s good.
The food won’t set any creativity or adventure hearts on fire, but it’s damn tasty and the serves are generous. There are standard bistro-type dishes for lunch (Beef Burger, Chicken Parma, a variety of Foccacias and Calamari Salad to name a few) and a decent breakfast menu with regulars including Eggs Benedict. Their hand-cut hot chips are EXCELLENT. Coffee is good but I don’t think it’s possible to open a breakfast/brunch place in Northcote/Brunswick and NOT have good coffee. I think there may be local by-laws against it.
The wait staff bend over backwards to help you out. They genuinely seem to love having kids eat there. AND there is a little covered al fresco area at the side of the place for lingering Summer lunches. I’ve never seen it occupied as it’s been colder than a nun’s tittie here on the north side, but bring it Summer. Bring that shit right on.
It’s not the most obvious place for a relaxed breakfast or lunch but Melbourne Mum and the Hungry Ferrets love it! And hell, there’s a bike on the WALL. It doesn’t get much better, or more Northcote, than that.
- What was the bill? Lunch for 4 + coffee for 2 (and mainlined babycinos for Inky) – $60, pretty standard for this area.
- Where is it? Grafete, 126 Gladstone Ave, Northcote (it’s super new, so no website yet, but they do have a Facebook page)
- How kid-friendly is it? 9.5/10. Kids menu, highchairs, amusements, lots of space to spread out. Credit cards accepted. It almost got a 10/10 for kid-friendliness but I think to get a perfect 10, you’d need a mini-golf course or something out back. This place is pretty close.
I may be a social media junkie, but I love me a good book. I adore the smell of an old library, it’s books yellowing at the edges, the perfume of age, well-worn with thumb and fingerprints and dreams. Here are 10 of my favourites.
- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood. Just. Handmaid’s Tale. That is all.
- The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath. Tortuous but remarkable. Mental illness has always fascinated me. Does that sound wrong?
- Wild Swans – Jung Chang. Not purely fiction, it’s the most amazing journey of a chinese woman through China’s Cultural Revolution. This book moved me so much, I sobbed when I finished it. I was on a #3 tram at the time. Embarassment.
- Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte. Fuelled my romantic notions of chasing the love of my life across abandoned moors. Shame we don’t have many abandoned moors in Australia. Do deserts count? Dream aborted.
- To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee. I read this at school and STILL that fact hasn’t put me off the book.
- The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini. Hell and inspiration wrapped up in one little book.
- The Shining – Stephen King. I could have included all Stephen’s books in this list, but it wouldn’t be very varied now, would it? This is probably my favourite.
- No Reason for Murder – Ayako Sono. A crazy story by a female Japanese author that illustrates the hotbed of Japanese society so wonderfully and dangerously.
- Seven Little Australians – Ethel Turner. Is there a book more quintessentially Australian than this one? I’ve read this book so many times, I think it’s probably falling apart.
- The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty. When I was 13, I gave my original copy of this book to a friend I met at Guide Camp. Her mother found it and BURNT IT. Clearly, this was a book that was meant to be read.
I’m a sucker for a citrus bevvy at the best of times and every day is no exception. You will NOT regret trying this number. It’s SMASHING. I make it a little sweeter than the usual. If you like a dryer cocktail, add some more brandy (do NOT reduce the Cointreau/Curacao, it’s always better to add the brandy). This recipe will give you a couple of serves. Unless, of course, you’re really shithouse at balancing the dryness/sweetness, in which case, it may be more like 3 or 4 serves.
Shake the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and pour into a martini glass with a lemon wedgie.
And of course, drink in moderation, please! Or not. Your choice.
Scout was very proud to show off her published “work” at the Writer’s Festival at school. What I want to know is, to which “S Word” is she referring?
And while I’m at it, it’s looking more and more like this “jail” of which she speaks is, in fact, our kitchen when Husband is interstate on a conference tour. Sucks to have your handsome busboy/dishwasher on leave.
In support of the national RUOK Day? tomorrow, I’m going to go back in time. Way way back, well, not too far back actually, 2006.
I had given birth to the most beautiful of creatures and loved her more than anything. But when she was about 3 months old I started to feel anxious. Not anxious that she would be hurt or kidnapped or anything, but anxious that she wouldn’t sleep when I wanted her to. I resented her when she screamed her head off (I’m sure the neighbours heard “What the f*ck do you WANT FROM ME” more than once), needing me more than anything and I was too wrapped up in my own sense of failure and frustration to see it. I read EVERY SLEEP BOOK and went to 3 sleep schools and there were so many answers and no answers. I went crazy trying to solve a “problem” that (I know now) would get better with time.
I wish I’d taken a deep breath. Wish I’d looked upon this tiny defenceless baby and gone with my gut rather than relying on everyone else’s good intentions (Hell’s paved with them. I think I’ve been there) and “advice”. Advice is at once both wonderful and terrible. Some people give it out of love, some people don’t. As a first time mother with NO CLUE about what was normal, whether I should have a routine, whether I should let her sleep with me when she cried, the terrible confusion of what was going on with my daughter and with me sent me trotting off to the G.P when she was about 6 months old. I’d gotten to the stage where I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t recognise myself anymore.
I hadn’t slept properly for months (I still have residual insomnia, but that’s another story). I was exhausted and the G.P did one of those little PND questionnaire thingies and told me I was high risk for PND. That was the end of the conversation. She prescribed me some anti-depressants and sent me on my way. The clinical way she did this made the feelings worse. I didn’t take the drugs. I had no issue with taking anti-depressants if I genuinely thought I had depression, but I reckoned I was just. so. tired. So tired. I became a horrible, anxious shadow after a bad night with Scout. Even when she started sleeping through, I woke up at 2am every night and would be awake for HOURS trying desperately to get back to sleep. The more I forced it, the worse it was. I thought “why bother going back to sleep when I’m just going to be up again in a couple of hours”. So even when Scout slept soundly, I didn’t. Night after night I was in tears. Husband was at his wits end wondering how to deal with this mound of blithering mess as I was so irrational. In retrospect, I should have taken the drugs, but I was too proud and stubborn.
I was clearly not OK. When I had my second daughter, her sleep was even more rubbish, but I dealt with it so much better. It had a lot to do with it being my second rodeo, though. And the fact that I hadn’t screwed up my first daughter. Scout was turning out to be an absolute cracker of a kid, with a wonderful spirit. One day, fairly recently, she said to me:
Scout: You’re the best mum in the whole world!
Mum: I’m sure that’s not true, Scout. I don’t feel like the best mum sometimes.
Scout: Well, you’re the best mum for me.
There’s my inspiration right there.
As a first-time mum I sought advice when what I should have been asking for was a non-judgemental ear to listen to my shit. I found a better G.P (a wonderful G.P actually) and although my sleep isn’t crash hot even now, I don’t feel the same horrific anxiety at 2am. I have amazing friends and family. A fabulous school community full of mums who, not only feel the same way, but verbalise feeling the same way. But I acknowledge that I’m lucky in that respect. There is a lot of not talking out there in mum land, because of shame, because of fear that others will think they are freaks if they admit to actually beating their head on a wall out of frustration (I’ve sure as hell done it) or sitting cross-legged on the floor of their child’s room rocking and sobbing because their child has been awake for 3 hours in the middle of the night (I may or may not have been this person last night). But there are people out there who feel the same way, remarkable parents who feel like they are losing their shit, their mind, their everything some days.
I may be a second time parent and my confidence in my parenting skills is higher, sure, but there are days when sleep deprivation kicks me square in the patootie (like, ahem, today). Australia and the States (and other similar first-world nations) still use sleep deprivation as a “method” of torture. So if we use it to force confessions out of terrorists, what the hell is it doing to us, as otherwise sane people?
If you are not OK:
- Talk to a non-judgemental friend - all it takes is one beautiful soul with an open heart to ease the burden.
- If you’re not happy with the care given by your G.P, see someone else. It’s not worth feeling worthless when you’re already feeling hopeless.
- Write about it. Writing can be the most cathartic way to put emotions into perspective. You don’t have to show it to the world, but that act of putting pen to paper (or keypad to monitor) can be wonderful.
- Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Shame can be such a destructive emotion. Ask for help from friends and family, your local GP or health professional, your psychologist or counsellor or from crisis counselling services such as Lifeline (131114), Sane Australia Helpline (1800 18 SANE) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636). For more information about these services, contact Mindframe.
- Laugh. Laugh at stupid shit. Laugh at people being hilariously dicky on Youtube. Watch some Jon Stewart. Crack open some One Direction and sing and dance loudly with your kids in the lounge room. When you’re in the middle of a funk, it can be bloody hard to break the cycle, but life surprises us like that. Kids are wonderful people to blindside you with their unorthodox hilarity. If you don’t have kids, hire some for a few hours. You won’t regret it.
11 years ago (minus a couple of weeks), Husband and I were in the States for a friend’s wedding and we made a pilgrimage to Ground Zero. I remember being really spooked about taking actual photos of it. I don’t know whether it was being horrified at tourists smiling in front of the devastation, or the acrid smell of wet concrete making me feel claustrophobic, or the feeling that the dead would haunt me forever if I poked a camera near where they lost their lives.
We saw more, we saw more than we wanted to see, but this was all I took. I’m glad in a way that we witnessed at least part of the aftermath of what New York went through. Although no-one I knew lost their life, the stories that we were privy to touched me in a way I never expected. And the New York we spent those few weeks in was one suffering in extreme recovery, but also one showing the most remarkable sense of community. I hadn’t expected New York’s people to be so accommodating to a couple of strangers gatecrashing its grief – New York wrapped its arms around the people it loved in a most terrible time and there is so much grace in that.