Getting my Griswold on

This is a sponsored post for www.oo.com.au

For the last few months I have been rubbing my hands together with absolute glee at the prospect of going Christmas-cray-cray. It’s our first New Zealand Christmas as a family, it’s my first Christmas here for four years and it’s Bubba’s first Christmas with more than just her Mama and Papa around. And we’re hosting it. I can’t wait.

I think I’ve been showing signs of becoming one of those slightly eccentric people who turn their whole houses into Santa’s grotto for some years now. I love colour, glitter, flashing lights and canned carols as much as the next three-year-old and I love the whole ‘a parade just exploded on my front lawn’ type of decorating that is taking hold now.

My only Achilles heel, my little smidge of Kryptonite is my husband. In Norway they keep their deccies fairly classy and low-key, and – get this, his family normally leave putting the tree up until December 23! And generally people don’t climb on ice-covered roofs to string up flashing Nativity scenes in -20 degree weather either. The Viking is mystified by my tinsel-obsession. He simply shook his head and walked away when I unveiled the elf hat with sewn on elf ears for him to wear. He tried to take Alfie with him but I’d already nabbed him and forced him into a Rudolph outfit.

I’m not taking any prisoners this Christmas.

So when I got an email from OO.com.au asking if I’d like to be set free on their awesome Christmas Decorations website I started foaming at the mouth a little.

I opted for some white LED lights, because I want to do this:

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And then, then I cut loose a little and got an LED Santa Sleigh! Because HELL YES! Obviously there are a lot of Griswold-wannabes with the same mind-set as me because this has since sold out,

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but, if your lounge needs some festive flashiness, I found this:

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Crazy-tall sparkly tree.

and this:

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Big, friendly, LED Polar Bear 

And elves on a see-saw, just because.

I love seeing more and more houses getting their Christmas glam on, and I’ve been fervently researching the latest trends in festive faberdashery (I just made that up, I’m aware it doesn’t make sense but I’d committed to the alliteration before I read it back). Over the weekend I joined a thousand other dedicated Christmas loving women (and about 4 men) in trekking around 9 houses that had taken part in ‘Deck the Rooms’ – which is a local fundraiser for Women’s Refuge. It was good fun and great inspiration. Note to self though – when looking around a very fancy house with posh lady owner sipping Pimms in kitchen, do not make jokes about slipping beautiful antique furniture into one’s handbag. You will find yourself ostracised from the group immediately.

How are your Christmas deccies coming along? Are you all over it or just over it?

If you’re interested in perusing the www.oo.com.au site I’ve noticed (she says while simultaneously checking the Christmas budget) that a lot of their decorations are now on special. Cheap and sparkly – two of my prerequisites for decorations, jewellery, clothes and nail polish. AND they deliver to NZ. 

 

Pink in concert

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Through some karmic fateful payback for good deeds done in a former life, I managed to get my greasy paws on a ticket to see Pink in one of her sold out concerts this week. And it was fabulous. Spectacular in the true sense of the word. The girl’s got pipes and she puts on a hell of a show. The whole thing was like Moulin Rouge on coke, like Mick Jagger had a lovechild with the cast of Cirque du Soleil. It blew my mind and was honestly, the best concert I have ever been to in my life.

But how do you even call a show with acrobatics, amazing dancing, fantastic singing and a set to rival a Broadway play a concert? It was an incredible performance and the energy in Rod Laver Arena was amazing. I’ve been to a lot of concerts that are more rock than pop and the energy of the crowd can get a bit masculine, which, I guess when I was 25 and happy to be smooshed around in a mosh pit wasn’t too bad, but flash forward ten years to a stay-at-home Mum who likes to whip her bra off and put her feet up with a hot chocolate and an episode of Wentworth by 9pm of an evening – headbanging testosterone is no longer how I roll.

At Pink’s concert I would estimate the crowd was at least 85% female, about 5% of whom were decked out in pink wigs and feather boas. 2% wore a “it seemed like a good idea at the time but not so much now we’re lining up outside in the cold for a $50 t-shirt” look on their faces and lacy pink ruffle knickers over leggings. One guy wore a cow onesie, complete with udders, and was rewarded with praise from Pink herself as he did some sort of erotic cow dance in the aisles.

I know Pink is a phenomenal gymnast. I expected to be wowed but to see her swinging upside down over the heads of thousands of screaming fans, secured only by silks wrapped around her ankle, was incredibly impressive. To do this without chundering is amazing. To do this while singing is kind of inhuman. I wish I had the constitution she has. I bet Pink has never had the slightest hint of motion sickness in her life. She probably gets sleepy on rollercoasters.

Just chillin upside-down with nothing but this ribbon to keep me from crashing to the ground

Just chillin upside-down with nothing but this ribbon to keep me from crashing to the ground

Everyone she had on stage was a powerhouse. There were incredible hulk looking male dancers who would throw her up in the air one minute and then tumble around like Olympic gymnasts the next minute. Pink’s female dancers were sex bombs with body builder strength. It was a big pile of freakishly good DNA on stage all night.

But above all else, the main thing I took from the concert was a sense of what a cool chick Alecia Moore is. Sure, I’ve been to concerts where the singers chat to the crowd, sometimes there’s some good banter, but I felt like Pink really engaged with the crowd. She literally flew above everyone on a trapeze, we all felt like we could touch her. Faces from the audience were captured singing to the words on a screen on stage, hands were touched, gifts were given, she somehow managed to make us all feel like we were her personal guests. I got the sense that if you threw a party she’d be the one dancing like an idiot in the middle of the room to make everyone laugh.

If you get a chance to see her in concert please go. I’m pretty sure you’ll love it.

There’s still a few tickets available here. 

Have you seen Pink in concert? What did you think? What was the best concert you’ve ever been to?

 

A few of my favourite things

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Winter is well and truly here now, and as I hunker down, straddling the radiator and nestling my head on my slow cooker, I like to gather a few comforting items around me for the frosty season. Here are the treasures I’m rocking this winter:

Jeggings.

I’m starting with a controversial one. Before this winter, my only experience with jeggings was via a good friend* who marks them as the most vile creation of mankind, fit only to attire the devil himself. What they are, in fact, are a cross between leggings and jeans. They look like skinny jeans, but they FEEL like leggings. And I tell you what, I’m all over them like nori on a sushi roll. One of my medium-term goals is to squeeze my buxom self into a pair of skinny jeans, I actually have said skinny jeans in my wardrobe, two pairs in fact, with tags still attached. One pair laughs out loud when it reaches three quarters of the way up my thighs and the other does up with considerable manipulation and leaves me looking like an overfilled double snowcone (on a hot day). So, until I have my desired buns of steel, I shall instead rock incredibly comfortable jeggings, with a longer top as the pretend fly and ‘lakky’ waistband are a dead giveaway. I got mine from Sussans but the ones in the pic are $49 from Target. Asos has a few too, including some kind of fab tie-dye maternity ones.

 

Behold the jegging!

Behold the jegging!

Paraffin manicures

Now, I have only ever had one of these, a couple of days before my wedding, but I tell you what – it was blissful. A lovely young lass slipped my hand into a bag of warm wax and voila – when I pulled my hand out it was miraculously about ten years younger. I nearly wrapped a nappy around that baby butt softness. I draped my silk-like hands over the face of my ‘tell it like it is’ aunty Pam who was amazed I’d never heard of paraffin wax manicures before. She said when she worked at the Eltham Cheese Factory all the girls would stick their hands in the cheese wrapping wax for a bit of a pick-me-up. So there’s the budget version – break into a cheese factory and push aside a wheel of edam.

 

Fancy baby food

Sometimes I feel like a bit of schlep when it comes to feeding my child. I spend approximately half my life making a smorgasboard of food for Bubba’s rejection so to have some nutritious, could easily pass as home-made if you have judgy visitors, meals in the fridge is a time-saver I’m very keen on. Well the celeb chef Luke Mangan very kindly sent Bubba the full range of his new toddler meals – Baby Bites (I’m not sure he personally called the courier but I can dream). Anyway, I tell you what, Bubba wolfed them down like nobody’s business. Every toddler deserves a Chicken paella every now and then don’t they? Really delicious (it’s only responsible to taste-test isn’t it?) and super easy. At the moment it’s only available in Australia from Thomas Dux and other speciality supermarkets.  More info.

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Kosmea facelift cream

Okay, it’s not called facelift cream – but it should be. It’s called Eighth Natural Wonder cream. A friend gave me a bottle of this magic stuff about a month before the wedding and I couldn’t have had better wedding-skin prep. Serums are all the rage now but this one is just fantastic. I ended up shouting myself the cleanser and daily exfoliant from their range too. I also have the ultimate radiance boost, good for me because my skin tends to have the moisture sucked out of it by heating and winter days. Give it a try if you like smooth skin but but botox scares the frozen eyebrows off you. More info. 

Kosmea Eighth Natural Wonder

Kosmea Eighth Natural Wonder

Crochet

Okay, this is my new addiction. And yes, yes, yes, I know that you’re jealous of my rock n roll lifestyle and crazy, crazy party nights. But crochet is supercool now, I even have a book called ‘hip crochet.’ And pinterest doesn’t lie. There’s a Japanese style of crochet called Amugurumi that is currently well above my skill set and is about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. So far I’ve completed a baby blanket and one granny square. I’m kind of on fire.

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And to add to the list – soy hot chocolate, flannel pjs, the Viking’s cinammon buns (not a nickname – he’s more of a french vanilla bun actually) and Samantha Wills jewellery.

 

What about you? What have you turned to for comfort on these cold winter days? Have you rocked a pair of jeggings yet?

 

*my friend who hates jeggings first discovered her disgust for them while living in England. She’d been tempted to the motherland from New Zealand by her cricket playing husband who’d been headhunted by a cricket team. They went off with lofty ideas of a delightful village and were instead welcomed into the unofficial teenage pregnancy capital of the world, where 30 year old grandmas chain-smoked at playgrounds, screeching on their bedazzled phones, flicking their fake nails and wearing their jeggings. On the plus side, the village pub was called The Cock which provided many creative options for hilarious photographs.

Top 5 iPad apps for toddlers

I’m not going to lie, my baby can swipe an iPad like she’s a technology tester for Apple. She loves the iPad. At first, I tried to keep her away from it, maybe because I was concerned that her eyes would start swooshing from left to right, maybe because the iPad was Mama’s toy. But now I’ve totally embraced it as the ideal 5 minute distraction when she has that “I’m going to tear this house apart” look in her eyes.

I feel slight guilt when I pass it to her and watch her little face light up like a Christmas tree, but my personal, unendorsed, non-researched rationale is that if she has more time with books than the iPad every day, she will be fine. Fine I say.

As proof of the power of the iPad, last week I had a business meeting to go to with a potential new client, essentially it was a job interview. “Bring your baby!” said the woman I was meeting. So I did. But I also bought another member of the family with me – the iPad. And my darling daughter sat on my lap and played Peekaboo Barn like a little champion, looking up only occasionally to smile sweetly or nibble on her gingerbread man (she has far more fruit than gingerbread men so I’m sweet on that one too).

I did some hunting to find the perfect apps for sticky little fingers, and Bubba has now put forward her recommendations of the top 5 apps for toddlers:

Peekaboo Barn

Peekaboo Barn

Peekaboo Barn – this is the favourite app by far. It’s a sweet little barn scene that shakes until it’s tapped by the child playing and then the doors open to reveal a different animal every time. Simple but effective and it won’t make a mother’s ears bleed if played over and over.  You can get the ‘lite’ version for free or get the full version for $1.99 from iTunes.

Fisher-Price Giggle Gang

Fisher-Price Giggle Gang

Fisher-Price Giggle Gang – this is cute and Bubba loves it but the adorable baby giggles on the fluffy little creatures can start grating on your nerves after a little while. Great for a quick game and fun and easy for little fingers. Free on iTunes. There’s a range of good Fisher-Price apps and most are free.

Twinkle twinkle little star

Twinkle twinkle little star

Twinkle twinkle little star – this is basically just the kids’ song with some cute graphics. Doesn’t sound too amazing but Bubba loves it. One issue is that there are really prominent ‘upgrade’ buttons on this which ask permission to charge for new  features regularly. Free on iTunes.

Paint sparkles draw

Paint sparkles draw

Paint sparkles draw – this is a cute one where kids can fingerpaint on the screen while it makes glittery wand-waving sounds. Free on iTunes.

Kids Karaoke Machine

Kids Karaoke Machine

Kids Karaoke Machine – we rock out to a bit of ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ in our house, and this app has this song and a bunch of others. Really simple graphics but Bubba seems to like it. Free on iTunes or you can upgrade to the ‘no ads’ version for $1.99.

If you’re thinking about letting your toddler loose on the iPad, it’s worth going into the settings to turn off the ‘Multitasking Gestures.’ This just means that your kid won’t keep swiping out of the app by swooshing the whole screen over. We were also gifted a Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity case which has been really good. Bubba smashed the screen of my phone a few weeks back so I’ve been worried about the iPad but it’s totally protected in this case. They run at about $35.

Fisher Price iPad case

Fisher Price iPad case

 

So that’s our top 5, have I missed any that your wee one adores? A few others that I’ve got stored up for future use when Bubba is a bit older are Eggy 100 (apparently it is used in lots of schools), Lunchbox and Agnitus.

 

The first concert I ever went to

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The year was 1986. I was 8 years old and thrilled from the soles of my kung fus to the tip of my side-pony to be allowed to attend two concerts over three nights at Taranaki’s most prestigious outdoor music venue – the Bowl of Brooklands.

The Bowl - in my opinion, New Zealand's best outdoor concert venue

The Bowl – in my opinion, New Zealand’s best outdoor concert venue

For those of you not familiar with the provincial prowess that is Taranaki, New Zealand,  let me impart upon you my fond memories of ‘the Bowl’ Many, many a big name act have performed on this stage. Jack Johnson, REM, UB40 – what’s that you say? UB40? The 80s reggae icons who penned the song sung by every person who has stained their lips and their tongues purple by sucking back a bottle of red for the good of their heart? Oh yes – them. And it was UB40 who were to be the first band I ever saw live. What a way to kick off a lifelong love of live music. My sisters and older cousin had been shackled with chaperone duties over my annoying younger sibling self. They begrudgingly accepted the duties in exchange for tickets but got their revenge by dressing me like some sort of Cyndi Lauper/Boy George tribute doll. My cousin had an obsession with blusher that was sadly encouraged by her pop icons and took it out on my face that night. I wasn’t allowed to look in the mirror before I left. I was shown how to dance like Molly Ringwald and made to perform like a wind-up 1980s monkey repeatedly while we queued our way into the Bowl.

Shoddy bone-structure? Just paint it on love!

Shoddy bone-structure? Just paint it on love!

But my mood could not be dampened. Even my slight fear when a big, drunk guy stumbled into my sister was quickly dispelled when a nearby, even bigger and not quite as drunk guy picked him up by the collar and told him to ‘vacate the area’ in fewer words. The same beefcake then started drinking from a hipflask he had inserted into a lovely tapestry cushion to sneak in past the liquorban and kindly offered it to my teenage sister. She wisely said no but kept him close by for security purposes. And as my sisters and cousin kept me within their peripheral vision from as far away as possible, I danced and twirled, snapping my suspender straps and tipping my bowler hat at my older lady fan base. Back in the 80s, the Bowl crowd would show their appreciation for the act by swimming across the eel-ridden moat and sitting on the edge of the stage, sometimes swaying with lighters flicking, often with boobs out. Nowadays there are some killjoy rules about not swimming across the moat and splashing muddy water onto the electrical-wire covered stage – I must agree that barbequed rockstar is rarely a crowdpleaser but watching the sodden faithfuls clamber onto the stage was a very fond childhood memory of mine.

I’ve been taken back to that heady night recently because the UB40 classic, There’s a rat in the kitchen has been stuck in my head for days. Why? Because my mother, the least rodent-loving human to roam this earth found a filthy giant rat striding through her kitchen like  some sort of rat druglord. Unfortunately for Mum, at the time Dad was staying with us for a couple of nights on his way back from a business trip. She was alone with the rat. Wisely, she skyped my sister while holding two walking sticks as weaponry and standing on top of a chair. Apparently my sister peppered her advice with fits of laughter and jokes of the ‘look out! It’s behind you!’ nature. She did wisely suggest getting a professional in though, advice Mum took immediately. A rat-finding wonderwoman swiftly trapped the giant rat and Mum banged pots around the rest of the house to scare off any of the rat’s brothers and sisters. I’m fairly sure she considered hanging the trapped rat up as a warning to others, Braveheart style, but she was scared it would detract from the peonies that have flowered by the front door. And what support did I provide to my mother during this ordeal? I posted this video to her facebook page of course.

Who was the first band you saw in concert? Has red, red wine ever gone to your head?

Say laters to leather-skin – my top 5 moisturisers

tumblr_m3ervkCSMb1qg1kcso1_1280 Summer is done so it’s time to put the long pants on, throw the razor away and look at your jungle legs in about a month and gasp with awestruck disgust. It’s dry skin season people! I am not one for naturally dewy skin, I am one for lizard-like scales and unless I moisturise about five times a day, I basically turn to dust and fall through the cracks in the floorboards. The Viking is equally as dehydrated, although he impressively got frostbite on his fingers while doing military training outside in -30 degree Norwegian winter temperatures and suffers dry skin as a result. Kind of adorable. Anyway, moisturisers are located in every room of our house, and we have road-tested our fair share.

Here’s my top 5 anti-lizard skin moisturisers: 1. Aveeno – Daily Moisturising Stress Relief Lotion $13.95 342853 This is a supermarket staple for us. It’s cheap, smells like lovely sleepy lavender bedtime and is quickly absorbed. Definitely my number one. 2. Grown – Intensive Body Cream – $29.95

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A friend gave me this cream and I’ve got to say – I love it. I’ve hidden it from the Viking so I can savour every drop of it. It’s full of a bunch of amazing ingredients,  pomegranate, capuacu butter, acai berry, the list goes on. It’s all natural and has a gorgeous light fragrance. Perfect for crunchy elbows and dusty kneecaps. Not the cheapest but worth the splurge if you need a pick-me-up this winter. 3. Trilogy Everything Balm – $29.95 (95ml) or $18.95 (45ml)

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Not only is this an amazing balm for lips, face, hair and hands but it’s an awesome gift for any pregger in your life. Apparently Danni Minogue used it as a belly rub when she was up the duff to fend off stretch marks. I’ve also taken it on planes to lather on before the aeroplane atmosphere sucks every drop of moisture out of my body. One 95ml tub will last you forever and ever. I also rub it in the palms of my hands to squish down split ends if I’m ‘between’ haircuts. It’s made from evening primrose oil, sweet almond oil and rosehip oil.

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4. Melrose Coconut Oil $11.95 Now this cold-pressed, unrefined oil is amazing. A friend of mine put me onto Coconut oil as a beauty product a few years back and I’ve kept a jar in the pantry ever since. That’s right, the pantry. Coconut oil is super good for you when used as a replacement for other cooking oils and it’s fabulous as a beauty product too. And talk about cheap! I use Melrose but there are many others out there, just look for cold-pressed virgin coconut oil. You can use it on your face, your body and your hair, and if there’s some left you can make a stir-fry with it. You know it’s got to be good for you if you can spread it on crackers! Sometimes I find that the oil doesn’t absorb that quickly into my skin and needs to be dabbed off, but if you’ve got time to spare it’s a good one to let sink in for a while. Whenever my hair looks like it’s going to snap off from dryness I whack some big clumps on my hair, rub it in a bit, pile my hair up in a topknot and sleep with it in, wake up and wash it in the morning and it’s the best intensive moisturising treatment your hair will ever get. Lait-Corporel_200ml 5. Biotherm Lait Corporel Anti-drying Body Milk $39 I am blessed with lovely in-laws, but I’m particularly blessed because they regularly buy me French luxury line – Biotherm as Christmas presents. I probably wouldn’t spend $39 on a body moisturiser for myself, but I’ve got to admit – this one is worth it. Biotherm is huge in Europe for a good reason, it’s beautiful, light, smells amazing and goes on like silk.   What about you? What’s your staple moisturiser? Feature photo credit: Take over time

Gig review – At Last – The Etta James Story

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When I was asked if I wanted to review the Etta James story I said “At laaaaaaaaaast, my love has come along!” And then I thought to myself how fortunate I am that most of my correspondence is via email nowadays.

I love the music of Etta James. I love Beyonce singing Etta James. I love American Idol contestants singing Etta James. I had a sneaking suspicion I would like the show.

The show is a ‘narrative concert,’ so it’s all the fantastic songs with a chat covering Etta James’ life in between. The concept worked as a whole. It’s like reading an abridged biography and stopping after every chapter to listen to her songs.

Vika Bull

Vika Bull

I can’t believe I’ve made it in four paragraphs without mentioning Vika Bull. Vika was fabulous as Etta. Fabulous. She has the same raw, full, kick-ass quality to her voice as Etta. She didn’t try to emulate her, her voice was still her own, but she did every song justice and shimmyed around the stage like a true diva.

I love a voice that sounds like it would pinch your cheeks lovingly with one song and open-hand slap your face with the next. Vika has that. Big ballsy, classic singing, with no trills, no falsetto, no digital tampering – just real-life singing.

Vika’s 8-piece band were authentic and superb. Full props have got to go to the fantastic guitarist – Dion Hirini who shone throughout the show.

Etta.

Etta.

It would have been amazing to have gone along to Etta’s concerts when she was in her prime, when she was jacked up a cocktail of hard drugs but still owning the stage and dominating the audience with her voice. At times last night, when the lights went down and the dry ice wafted over Vika’s silhouette, I felt like this was about as close as I could get to what it would have been like.

At Last – The Etta James Story has a short run in Melbourne before heading to Sydney.

For dates and tickets click here. 

I wonder if Vika would play my wedding? If Lenny Kravitz can’t make it that is. We’re looking at bands at the moment and I had an unfortunate dream that the band we chose were drug addicts and in between songs would steal money from the wedding guests handbags and duck off to their dealers.

Do you love Etta? Got a favourite song? Call me clichéd, but I can’t go past this:

Will Lenny Kravitz play my wedding?

Many, many moons ago, in a land far, far away – called London, I had a job reviewing concerts, clubs and restaurants for a magazine. If it sounds like I’m bragging, I kind of am – it was absolutely the best job I’ve ever had – even if the pay was just live music and free CDs. Best. Job. Ever.

A highlight of this job was the time I got to review a Lenny Kravitz concert and fronted up only to be put in the VIP section, sitting behind half of the cast of Eastenders. It’s hard to look cool and aloof when you cannot close your mouth long enough to swallow the drool making its way down your chin.  [Read more…]

Facebook likey likey

Nowadays every man and his blog has a business facebook page. What’s that you say? Yes, Sassmouth Mama does have its own page actually. Hmmm? Yes, it’s been stuck on 69 likes for quite some time now, and yes, it is an awkward number to stall at.

*silence*

*audible blink*

Anyway my friends, there are a great range of Facebook pages – some are very good, informative and spice up your newsfeed nicely. There are others that spam the crazy out of you and do the equivalent of the new tweeters daily “morning tweeps!” tweet. [Read more…]

So much I can’t say…

There’s so much happening that I can’t talk about that it’s driving this over-sharer to drink. And just quietly, cleanskin white shiraz is my new summer drink – it’s cheap, cold and delicious.

Anyhoo, let’s start with what I’m NOT doing – I am not pregnant. And this is not surprising given the Viking and I are not ‘trying’ at all. But I will say, we went to the mall yesterday and I saw two of the freshest little bubbas ever and looked at the Viking and said “let’s make a baby”, twice. What I lack in forward planning, logic and common sense I seem to make up for in impulsiveness and rampant cluckiness. Alas, even under the romantic glow of Chadstone’s florescent lights the Viking was able to resist me. [Read more…]