Wednesday, September 28, 2011


For the first time in ages, we spent the entire day indoors. The change of season has finally caught up with me, in the form of a bad head cold. The boys both seem to be on the precipice of a cold also and the weather refused to offer up anything other than dark skies and drizzle. A day at home definitely in order. Physically, I am zapped. I feel weak, fuzzy, decrepit. Emotionally, I couldn't feel better. Ordinarily, a day trapped inside, mountains of washing and sickness rife, would leave me stressed and disillusioned. Not today.

Today, we played and cuddled. Watched Tv and snuggled. Read books and coloured in. Danced and indulged in a rare afternoon nap... all 3 of us. I reflected on even more beautiful photos captured in my parents garden, yesterday afternoon. And a candid shot taken by my sis-in-law on the weekend, of Felix in my brother's akubra hat. Just can't help but smile when I look at such images. And even though the boys didn't completely share my calm state of mind for the duration of the day, they were exceptionally good, for a gloomy day indoors.

At this point, I'm in a state of limbo. I realise in the next week I will need to make some decisions. I know these decisions won't be easy and they will undoubtedly impact our little family going forward. I'm at a crossroads in my career, if I can honestly call it that. A career. Right now, I'm not even sure I know what my career should be. If I've even started on a genuine career path. So many questions pondered, so few answers acquired. I stumbled across a sun dial in my parent's yard, they have lots of quaint stone features scattered throughout their garden. This one has been around for years, but I've never truly thought about the words... or even properly read them. Yesterday I embraced them... 'Grow old along with me the best is yet to be'. The right decision is just waiting to be made. I can feel it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Choc-Peppermint 'No Bake' Slice

I first tried this slice at a baby shower, about a year ago. Four pieces later, I was in love with it. My friend who made it did a much better job than I did with this first attempt. Though it was still yummy and satisfied the hungry hoards at my brother's 50th birthday party. With this much chocolate in a recipe, it is hard to go wrong. Next time I make it, I'd like it to be a little chunkier, though the flavours I would not change a bit. It's all about tweaking, I guess.

An interesting concept, baking... when it's not. actually. baking. I suppose I'm always wary of things being too simple, especially when it comes to baking/cooking. But this cheeky short cut of a slice lays those concerns to rest. It was just the ticket at 9pm Friday night, feeling tired and exhausted, children sleeping and still wanting to take something along with me for the weekend... because for whatever reason I just don't like turning up to parties empty handed! So this was me, taking the easy option, yet again from my old faithful, The Women's Weekly COOK bible.

Choc-Peppermint 'No Bake' Slice

250g plain sweet biscuits (I used Arnotts Marie)
100g butter, chopped
1/2 cup (125ml) sweetened condensed milk
2 x 35g crispy peppermint chocolate bars, chopped coarsely 
(I used Cadbury mint bubbly, though aero bars would do the trick too!)

200g milk eating chocolate, chopped coarsely
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Grease 19cm x 29cm slice pan; line base and two long sides with baking paper
Process 200g of the biscuits until crushed finely
 (or crush with rolling pin as I do)
Chop remaining biscuits coarsely
Stir butter and milk in small saucepan over low heat until smooth
Combine processed and chopped biscuits with peppermint chocolate bar in medium bowl; stir in butter mixture
Press mixture firmly into pan; refrigerate, covered, about 20 mins or until set
Make chocolate topping. Spread over slice; refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares

Chocolate Topping

Stir plain eating chocolate and oil in medium heatproof bowl over medium saucepan of simmering water until smooth

Monday, September 26, 2011

Time and Space

There is nothing quite like a bit of distance, to provide the much needed distraction and clarity, for a mind that has been working overtime. As we headed out of the city and meandered along the scenic roads in the beautiful wine country region of northern NSW, I felt myself unwinding. With each kilometre driven, the fog in my head gradually lifted. The weather at home depressingly cold and miserable when we took off on Saturday morning. Two hours into our journey, sunny blue replaced rainy grey and the warm, fresh country air filled our lungs. THE most perfect timing, after an emotionally challenging week.

In fact, it was a perfect weekend, as the majority of my family converged to celebrate my brother's 50th birthday. The birthday boy and his family live in a picturesque country town, with rolling green hills on their doorstep and a refreshingly relaxed atmosphere all round. The boys thoroughly enjoyed lapping up all the extra attention from their aunties, uncles and cousins... just as I relished every moment of watching them together. Racing up and down the gigantic yard, on the lush green grass. Playing tip, footy and hide & seek. Bouncing gleefully on the trampoline. Laying mesmerised in front of the bonfire, as flames licked the night sky and embers fell like fairy dust around them. And the cheeky little games they shared, pulling silly faces and giggling hysterically.

With sister-in-laws who are like my own flesh and blood. Nieces and nephews who are funny, caring, intelligent individuals. Brothers who know how to tease with the best of them, but after all is said and done, love and support me no matter what. And the most adoring and devoted parents anyone could wish for. I am truly blessed with the wonderful crew I get to call my family. If only we could spend even more quality time together, like the weekend just gone. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Sometimes life throws a curve ball and the tricky thing about curve balls is, no one ever sees them coming. Out of the blue, when it's least expected... curve ball. Today, I cried at work for the first time in over 12 years. I fought every inch of my being to hold it back. Smiled. Nodded along in bemusement. Refrained from opening my mouth for as long as I possibly could. But in the end, the tears had to fall. Some situations are simply too overwhelming to remain stoic. Another restructure within my company and this time, my role is on the chopping block. 

I have lived through dozens of restructures and until now, have always been lucky. They are part and parcel in a large company and many friends and colleagues have experienced the exact gut wrenching feeling I faced this morning. My poor manager and human resources representative (who also happens to be a friend), looked pale and shattered as they delivered the news. I felt so deeply for them. No one ever wants to be the messenger. And that's precisely what they were. So many emotions surged through me. I felt numb. In a dream state, where I heard the words, but none of them actually registered. When I did eventually respond, I couldn't make sense of what I wanted to convey. Instead, I smiled and blubbered and nervously laughed and smiled and blubbered and flapped my hands around my face, in a vain attempt to cool the prickly hot sensation. It was everything I imagined a redundancy conversation to be like and more.

This is the biggest round of role redundancies in our company, since the GFC hit in 2008/09. 'Streamlining' and 'cost cutting' have been part of the theme bandied about for weeks now. In my heart of hearts, I always knew this role was a dream come true for a Mama seeking part time employment. I've had it good. But all good things must come to an end. I understand and accept this. I am not the only one thrust into this boat of uncertainty. Friends of mine have also been informed about the fate of their roles today. Now, we're left with decisions and options and thank goodness, there are options. This company does do the redeployment thing well. So now I'm just letting the dust settle on the day. Reviewing the situation. Thinking rationally. Staying composed. Because it isn't the worst thing in the world, more a bump in the road. The right path will become apparent before too long and I'm blessed to have a wealth of incredible people to help support me along the way. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blustery days

The winds have been strong here this week. Almost unpleasantly forceful. As far as wind is concerned, I prefer a gentle breeze. On days like these, I find myself nervously glancing out of our kitchen sky window, just willing the thick, large branches of the gum tree out the back, to stay. put. Whipping leaves around, swaying back and forth, teasing me with it's enormity. After our day outdoors, I feel decidedly wind swept also, with the tell tale chapped lips and ruddy cheeks to show for it. Though it was really nice, having special guest star Daddy home with us today.

Which meant I was able to steal away for an hour first thing this morning, to do a beach run. It's been a few weeks since my last run, so it felt good to work the muscles again. A perfect day for washing... and I washed up a storm! Much to Angus' delight, as he ran around and around the sheets drying on the line. We had fish and chips for lunch at the beach and then spent a good chunk of the afternoon playing at the park.

Then I caught the unmistakable scent of jasmine in the air. Sure enough, the first bloom of the year that I have been waiting for... sort of in my neighbours yard... but nevertheless, I'm reaping the benefits and appreciating every whiff. Bits of Spring loveliness, on a blustery September day.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Flying Solo

I am almost certain that the boys would eat their weight in blueberries, strawberries, grapes, bananas, watermelon and mandarins, if I let them. I have never struggled to get either of them to gobble down plates of fruit, which I'm actually quite happy and relieved about. I don't know what I would do if they didn't like fruit. They'd definitely go a little hungrier, as I'm a meanie pants with the processed sweet foods. Being the expert Mama that I am, I'm not even entirely sure just how much is too much to be letting them munch on. But I'm not about to curb their enthusiasm.

It was a rather restless weekend, with the emergence of a nasty big molar burrowing through Felix's poor little swollen gums. He was irritable, out of sorts and majorly clingy. We also had Scott away for 3 nights. On the annual golf weekend with the boys. The time actually flew by, with plenty of things to keep us busy. Truth is, I actually kind of relished my evenings. Once the boys were settled and it was just me, the tele and my apple mac companion. Whilst I wouldn't want to be flying solo regularly, once in while, it's not only manageable, but quite enjoyable.

Though I didn't realise quite how much I'd missed Scott until he arrived home. The chatting, the laughter. Cuddles and companionship. It's easy to forget just how important these little things are, when I'm focused on going to work, being Mama, maintaining a household, catching up with precious family and friends. Then savouring that tiny bit of 'me' time at the end of the day. It's amazing how time apart can often crystallize just how much you need someone. In fact the time alone with my two boys was also very special. I'm definitely head over heels for ALL of my boys.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Carrot Cake w/Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Baking this cake, I couldn't have worked myself into a bigger tangle, if I tried. Ingredients and utensils strewn over every inch of bench space. Flour and sugar sprinkled about. Washing up piled high in both kitchen sinks. It was a right mess. And I don't even like carrot cake! However, I know that my Mama does and this cake was to take to her place. She is forever making us batches of bikkies and I enjoy returning the favour every so often. But I AM a sucker for cream cheese frosting and when I spied this recipe with a little splash of lemon, I was mildly swayed. That and the fact the recipe came straight out of my Women's Weekly COOK bible, which never fails to deliver the goods.

It didn't disappoint this time either. Producing a really yummy cake (despite baking it in a tin waaay too small for the amount of mixture, which just resulted in an extra tall creation!), that has altered my former opinion, for the better. I have always wondered what business a vegetable has getting involved with the likes of cake anyway. According to the facts column in COOK, carrot cake is an adaptation of carrot pudding, popular during the 18th & 19th centuries in the UK. Who'd of thought!?

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup (250ml) vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups (300g) firmly packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3 cups firmly packed, coarsely grated carrot
1 cup (110g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 1/2 cups (375g) self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons mixed spice

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

30g butter, softened
80g cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1 1/2 cups (240g) icing sugar

Preheat oven to moderate (180/160 degrees fan forced) 
Grease deep 22cm-round cake tin; line base with baking paper
Beat oil, sugar and eggs in small bowl with electric mixer until thick and creamy
Transfer mixture to large bowl; using wooden spoon, stir in carrot and nuts then sifted dry ingredients
Pour mixture into tin. Bake, uncovered, about 1 1/4 hours
Stand cake 5 minutes then turn onto wire rack; turn cake top-side up to cool
Make lemon cheese frosting
Spread cold cake with lemon cheese frosting

Lemon Cheese Frosting

Beat butter, cream cheese and rind in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy
Gradually beat in sifted icing sugar until frosting is of a spreadable consistency

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Warm & Fuzzy

I received a belated birthday present from one of the lovely friends I had dinner with the other night. Every year we make each other promise that for the following year, we won't. do. presents. We both know that the promise will never hold water. We're both way too stubborn and honestly just enjoy giving one another a little something to mark the occasion. This year, I received the softest, loveliest scarf. It was the perfect choice, as I love my scarves. Wearing it to work on Thursday, gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling. The delicate scent of Chanel ensconced in the weave and the knowledge that I was wearing a gift from the heart of a dear friend. It all felt good.

I arrived to pick Angus up from preschool that afternoon and he was clutching a folded piece of paper in one hand... while eating his afternoon tea with the other hand, of course. His teacher prompted him to show me the piece of paper. On it, all crumpled and creased, a scribbly teddy bear. Made with care by Grace. For Angus. Their teacher informed me that Grace has quite the crush on Angus. He held onto the piece of paper, folded and small, all the way home and wanted to put it in a safe place where Felix wouldn't get it. Such a warm and fuzzy day. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Giggling Gertie

I don't often film videos. Usually I'm too busy snapping away with the still shots to think about shooting video footage. But the other day, at the park, I witnessed an opportunity to good to miss. So I filmed it. The boys had been at it long before I started filming and they continued long after I stopped. Though I am so glad I did decide to capture 1 of the 20 or so minutes of fun & frivolity that took place. Watching over it this evening for the first time since I shot it, I couldn't help but have a giggle myself. There is something extremely infectious about a baby's laughter. And something quite adorable about a three and a half year old's voice.

So whilst it was a learning experience uploading and saving a video file to youtube and I am not quite certain who this apparent technologically savvy Mama is, these are the moments that make the toils of Mamahood so worthwhile. The long days, long nights, trying weeks. All forgotten, after a minute of seeing giggling gertie and his big bro at play. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sunny Disposition

It would have been difficult not to feel good these past few days. I truly believe the warmth and sunshine influence me in profound ways. Together, they change the type of person I am. They make me the type of person I like to be. Poor Angus has been battling a cold and the night's have been fairly restless, with both of us camping out on the lounge, for everyone's comfort really. He sleeps so much better propped up with a myriad of cushions and pillows. I recall the very feeling this gave me as a child. Reassurance and coziness. I also get to watch him that little bit longer when he's on the lounge, before I lapse into slumber myself. I kind of like that.

Despite his cold, he has been super keen to soldier on during the days. We've taken leisurely walks, enjoyed plenty of park play and one of our favourite weekly rituals of visiting Nana and Pop. Sitting on the lawn, in the afternoon sun, observing my Mama and the boys busying themselves with weeding the garden and watering the plants. Seeing the boys racing back and forth on the little fire engine and exploring all the wonders of nature. I love all of it. It's simple, but it's this that makes me beam.

A mid week dinner with two gorgeous girls I'm lucky enough to call dear friends, was a nice way to spend an evening also. These girls have been in my life since we were 12 and although we don't catch up as often as we should, it's always the same sense of certainty when we do. Life itself changes constantly, but nothing between us ever does. I would love to be sitting around with these treasures, eating gourmet pizza and chatting the night away, when we're 80. A sunny disposition for this Mama of 2 boys, indeed.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Musings

Lately, I have been thinking about my overwhelming propensity to misplace things. Like the garlic press that has gone walk about. Without a trace, it just vanished. Or the glue stick, Angus repeatedly requested I find for him today. I put it somewhere 'safe' and have no idea where that place could be. Or the missing beater for my electric mixer, which is bound to be in a cupboard somewhere, buried under a pile of saucepans and cake tins. Sure as eggs, if I buy replacements, the ones missing in action will show up straight away. They always do. 

I don't mind chopping garlic finely by hand and I can always pass glitter glue off as substitute for a glue stick AND I have made do with one beater when baking a cake. But the disorganisation frustrates me. If everything had a place and wasn't crammed into piles and systematically shoved into every spare nook and cranny, I may have a chance of actually finding things when needed. Something to work on.

*   *   *

Over the weekend we tried Doughboy Pizza for the first time. Oh my, I don't know what took us so long to get on board the Doughboy train. As it states on the box 'quality since 1999'... so we've actually had a fair whack of time. The Hot Chick (what a great name!) was my pie of choice and it tasted soooooo good. Delicious crispy base, fresh and flavoursome topping. I do love a successful pizza find... and this one has the added bonus of the Pilsbury Doughboy adorning the boxes, cute!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Festival of the Winds

The things that make Sundays great: Colourful bunting and brilliant sunshine. Jumping castles and giant slides. Flags flapping in the breeze, against a bright blue sky. Enormous kites, itty bitty kites and every size in between, flying high and free on a sunny beach. Fun, laughter and endless community spirit. Farmyard animals and fascinated babies. Captivating street theatre and hand made pirate hats. Ball pits and hula hoops. Fresh corn on the cob and sizzling hot spinach and cheese gozleme. Long naps in the pram and quality time with my boys. Happy children and even happier parents.

We spent the day at Bondi Beach today, playing, enjoying, living the Festival of the Winds. A fantastic way to do Sunday. When I'm old and grey... or even in a few days time, when it might feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders... it's the days like this one that I want to remember. Good times.