Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Telling My Story: The Power of Vulnerability

I was talking over vulnerability with a friend today.  I mentioned that, though I choose to put a lot of myself out there, on this blog, in real life, and all over twitter (and I mean ALL over twitter!)... though I choose to write about my insecurities and crankinesses and teacup sized dramas and utter cooking failures, every time I do it there is a twist of reservation in my heart.  A little whisper of discomfort. An uncomfortable sense of vulnerability.

What's up with that? I asked.

She merely grinned and told me to watch this YouTube video.  Brene Brown's TED talk on the Power of Vulnerability.

I watched it. Then I watched it again. Then I watched it with hubs.

 I laughed, and I cried at the end when she says...
And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we're enough. Because when we work from a place ... that says, "I'm enough," then we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves.
And by the end of all this, my attitude to what I choose to share publicly, and what others choose to share, had changed profoundly.

 You see, those of us that blog honestly, keep it real, don't buy into fakery or magazine superficiality... those of us who tell you our stories online, or in the cafe, or on the phone, are summoning our courage* and we are being imperfect. We are willing to let go of who we think we should be, and are being who we really are.

 Its not easy for me.  It never has been.

But this, dear readers, is my gift to you, every single time I post here.

 *I also loved Brene's definition of courage...
Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language -- it's from the Latin word cor, meaning heart -- and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kids Favourite Snack

For some reason we've ended up with about four litres of yoghurt in the fridge, and some of it is getting close to its use by date.

Miss 6 won't touch yoghurt in its liquid form.  However, freeze it, and she'll eat nothing else :)  To make my frozen yoghurt drops I simply cover a tray in baking paper and drop teaspoons of yoghurt onto it.
That's about 200ml yoghurt
I stick this in the freezer, and a couple of hours later take it out and put the frozen drops into freezer bags.  She will even force herself to eat bolognese sauce to get one of these :)

Of course the leftovers had to be put to good use by me :)
Arvo tea

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Aftermath of the Disaster + Salad dressing

Following the serendipitous seed disaster of April which forced me to kick-start the vege patch, things have been growing nicely in the garden.  So well, that I spent the morning thinning out the rows of seedlings.  Normally I wouldn't have planted so many seeds, but in this case I was trying to get whole packets into the ground, so there is a lot of thinning out to be done.

Thinnings have a very mild flavour, so I collected the ones that were culled, picked them over and turned them into a salad.

Thinnings: Turnip, beetroot and lettuce
Dressed them with a perfectly lovely dressing

5 tsp Maple syrup (can use honey)
3 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
 A perfectly lovely dressing
And lunch is served...

Well, this was the entree

Friday, May 18, 2012

Advertising and Nepotism

Yes, TWO of the seven deadly sins on the blog today.  Which makes a refreshing change from crimes again cookery, I think.

M'cousin is in advertising, and is the creative mind behind the much loved Christmas Bond's ad...

Well, she's been at it again, and here's the latest Bond's ad, it has babies, many cute babies, if, in nine months there is a spike Aussie births, we shall blame her...

This is all free social media floggery for Bonds.  Am just ridiculously proud of m'cousin :)  Though, have no complaints about Bond's gear, come to think of it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Twice Burnt Seafood Pie with Singed Leeks and Celery

Oh Gourmet Garden, you had no idea what you were getting into when you sent me some herbs and suggested that I cook with them and blog about it.

I wanted to be a chef once, used to do dinner for six, twelve and even twenty-five if the mood took me.  But then I had children. The cooking part of my brain disappeared when I was pregnant and never, ever came back, and now regardless of what I serve up, it is invariably declared 'disgusting' by Miss 6.  My will to cook, wavering after endless sleepless nights and an ill-fated attempt to cook rice cereal with my own breast milk, has gone entirely.

For this I apologise.

So, I shall call today's creation Twice Burnt Seafood Pie with Singed Leeks and Celery.  If I was one of those food bloggy types I'd call my leeks and celery, over caramelised.  But I'm not. I'm just tired.

Ingredients are thus...

2 tsp olive oil  (glug of canola from bottle, couldn't find olive due to earlier plastic bag avalanche in pantry)
1 leek, thinly sliced, washed, drained (grew my own *smug grin,* also we may define 'thinly' slightly differently)
2 sticks celery, chopped (I went 1 stick, yes, living on the edge, me)
2 tbsp plain flour
1 cup reduced-fat milk (I just poured it in until the flour got to the right stage of gluey-ness)
200 g smoked cod, chopped (also remove skin and check for bones esp if cooking for kids)
300 g skinless salmon, chopped (as above)
12 individual king prawns, peeled (don't forget to pull out the poo-chutes)
1/2 cup frozen peas, (wow, peas, I had no idea they were needed in this recipe)
2 tsp lemon rind, grated
1 Tbsp Gourmet Garden Thyme (see, plug, admit it, I'm a marketing dream)
1 Tbsp Gourmet Garden Basil (more plugs, its like a sink around here)
Reduced-fat puff pastry, just thawed (thawed?? hmm, that would've helped)
1 medium egg, lightly beaten (I used milk, the Ladies's eggs are not to be wasted on glazing pastry)


Preheat oven to 220°C or 200°C fan-forced.  (Is anyone actually this organised?)

Heat olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. (Turn stove onto full, put on pan, add oil of choice, ignore unless the smoke alarm goes off)

Add leek and celery and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. (Pah, add leeks and celery to dangerously hot oil, turn stove down, get distracted by cutting up fish and de-poo chuting prawns, smell burning, swear, add cup water, scrape burnt bits with wooden spoon. Get distracted by dog, children, husband, twitter, facebook, ebay etc...  Repeat from 'smell burning.' Congratulations your pie is now twice burnt.)

Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. (If you can stir the resulting sludge then you are a better cook than me, but it is easier to see the burnt bits now)

Gradually add milk and ½ cup (125ml) water and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until sauce boils and thickens. (Turn down heat, desperately add more milk, and stir like mad to stop the whole thing sticking and burning even more, when it looks like glue and stops bubbling, you're there)

Reduce heat to low (oh, NOW you tell me)

Add cod, salmon and king prawns and cook for 5 minutes or until just cooked through.
Add frozen peas, lemon rind and herbs, stirring to combine.  (I put in herbs ages ago, so I could pretend burnty bits were actually herby bits)

Spoon seafood mixture into prepared ramekins. (But what if you can only find one ramekin? I have four, I do. But just never all in the same place at the same time)

Cut pastry into 4 squares.
Brush edges of ramekins with egg.
Place pastry over filling and trim edges, pressing to seal.
Brush tops with remaining egg.
Using a fork or skewer, lightly pierce tops to allow steam to escape.
Place ramekins on a baking tray.

Bake for 25–30 minutes or until puffed and golden. (Don't forget and burn the pastry, just sayin)

Taa Daa
Twice Burnt Seafood Pie with Singed Leeks and Celery
End result...

Hubs: Loved it
Me: Actually it was really nice, the prawns and the salmon saved it
Miss Nearly 8: I'm not eating that (she ate the lot)
Miss 6: Disgusting (she ate the pastry)
Louise Next Door: Smells lovely (she dropped in too late to eat any ;))

Next stop Masterchef...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Blogging Should Never Make Anyone Cry

Had an attack of the PMT stabbies yesterday, so I apologise if I was harsh about the changing face of Mummy Blogging in this country. However, in my defence, I'm watching a truly nasty bit of judgemental bitchiness unfolding at the moment, and have seen similar incidents over and over in recent months. Three of my favourite blogs have been deleted by their owners in recent weeks, and I'm reading (and relating to) post after post from women who are feeling invisible and overlooked, doubting themselves and their writing, and having to justify having an opinion that isn't politically correct or you know, honest. I'm also reading posts ridiculing these women.

Seriously, blogging should never make anyone cry.

All this has made me think about this blog, and after going around in circles and ranting to Hubs and Mum at length I've decided...

 Not to change anything.

 Yeah. And Lo There Was A Miracle.

It'll get more book orientated around here, as publication dates draw near (thus far I've got 'maybe December'!!) But the usual tragic tales of burnt cakes, cliff-hanger descriptions of gardening, and eye-rollings about pretty much everything will continue.

 So as you were dear reader. As you were.

Yesterday I was also having an attack of the Told-You-Sos with regards to the Very Famous Author who, at the start of my publishing journey, generously informed me that E-publishing is a total waste of time, and that I was doomed to failure, and should just give up and stop wasting my time with a dream that'd never seriously become a reality.

I have an info-graphic for you my dear...

  E-book Nation
Brought to you by:

And this, my friend, is just the beginning.
Told you.
Heh :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Six Frickin Years

15th May 2006. The day I started blogging.

This week I enter my seventh year of blogging.  I also enter my ninth year of marriage. Clearly it is a week of milestones.

Bits of me have changed a lot over the last six years.  Like my bottom, it got very big, then small, then less big, then small again.

Other parts have stayed the same.  Take this morning for example... having poured a cup of warm tea over my laptop and my lap I make a swift exit from the shopping centre, a box of cupcakes clutched in my hand.  Who do I meet, with my damp crotch and high fat treats? My weightwatchers leader.  Sigh.

I cannot fully describe how blogging has changed over the years.  I'm proud that I was there, in the beginning, before the term Mummy Blogger had even been thought of.  Back then it was my own little idiosyncrasy.  Now its a cut throat world of narkiness and PR agencies.  Don't get me wrong, there is an abundance of awesome lady bloggers out there.  But its got commercial and competitive, and that can sometimes leave a sour taste.

When I started there were no programs telling you your blog statistics. No function for comments. Google didn't own blogspot. You couldn't post photographs easily. Facebook and Twitter were just beginning. Chat loops were the go, Yahoo groups was the place to be, and Myspace.  Everyone was on Myspace. No iPods, iPads, iPhones or Macbooks...

And I was being told by established author after established author that e-publishing was a waste of time.

A total waste of time.

Luckily I've got a really really stubborn streak.

So I wanted to say thank you to you, my readers.  For six years of visiting my blog.  I have no idea how many people have drifted by in the last 2190 days.  Thousands without doubt.  I appreciate the time you've taken to read my musings, ranting, moanings.  The commenters who made me laugh. The give away winners. Everyone.  Thank you.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Total Mummy Win

I cannot describe how awesomely I won today.  I'm still swept away by it.

You see, it was a day of maniacal dashing around.  Even I, with my penchant for goal setting (LOL) and punctuality (LOL!LOL!) was thinking I'd bitten off more than I could chew.  We have one of our cars off the road for the time being (a boring tale of unbalanced wheels and a tyre so bald it'd put Bunsen here to shame -
Bunsen the Muppet
its so far gone we need to switch it with the spare before we drive again - seriously, that bad, but only one tyre, the other is fine)

Anyhoo. Down a car, hubs due in Balkie Hills at 2pm for an appointment of undisclosed length, me due to fetch kids at 3.30pm and kid dentist appointment at 4pm.  With 15ks of the busiest road in the state in between (Pennant Hills road).

I'm thinking that this has the potential to go horribly wrong.

1.31pm Arrive Balkie Hills

2pm Hubs heads to appointment - deal is that if he isn't out by 2.50pm I will go to get kids and come back (nightmare scenario involving massive driving with tired hungry kids on horrid road)

2.03pm Bored. Ring mother - get told unsettling tales of puppy poo, baby snakes nests, infected alpaca eyes and other lovelinesses

2.31pm Get off phone, check twitter, fb and emails on phone
2.32pm Think about walking up hill to get coffee
2.42pm Realise that hubs had better be out soon
2.50pm Chew nails in froth of indecision
2.55pm Stare in rear vision mirror willing hubs out of building and into car
2.57pm Start engine, phone rings, hubs appears

3pm Exit Balkie hills without getting lost OR being converted to Hillsong-ism
BUT Need to make 35min trip in 30mins.

3.29pm Arrive at school adhering to speed limits At All Times (as if I'd speed)
Park somewhat illegally in staff car park spot, get smile and cheery wave from Deputy Head (PHEW)

3.40pm Everyone, plus cello, two tennis rackets, library bags, school bags, sports bags and a scrunched up bit of paper about an excursion into car

3.45pm Tackle motorway and more vile traffic

3.55pm Arrive dentist ON TIME, nearly faint at the unbelievableness of it all

4pm Miss 7 in dentist chair, hubs and Miss 6 in supermarket
4.14pm Laugh loudly at inappropriate text message sent by hubs, startling dentist and earning reproving look from dental nurse - then Dentist smiled, and told me Miss 6 needs to see an orthodontist asap. sigh.

4.30pm Arrive home to dinner in slow cooker and large glass wine

Huzzah.  I made it.

That's my happiness for today :)

Sunday, May 06, 2012

May or may not have pee-d

The Culprit

Today's main source of happiness has had unexpected and dire consequences.  You see I gave Miss 6s bedroom an Autumn clean, and whilst fluffing up her vast soft toy collection I started to sneeze.  I sneezed so long and so hard that I've hurt my back and pulled my stomach muscles. I may also have pee-d, but I was too busy sneezing to figure out if I actually did or didn't.


Needless to say every single soft toy in the house has now been through a long wash and into the dryer at a high temperature to kill every single dust mite in there.


But, over six hours later and on antihistamine, I'm still sneezing.  Waaaaaaaachoooooo.  Waaaaaaaachoooooo.  Waaaaaaaachoooooo.

Still, I'm extremely happy that her room is now spotless and dust-free.


Saturday, May 05, 2012


Yesterday I had no happinesses.  Nope, not a one. Couldn't have thought one up if I'd tried.  Which I didn't.

I had many irritables, as anyone who follows me on twitter will know.  The consensus was that I should go and find a bridge to live under, and god-help any goats that might try to cross it.  If there were worms under the bridge, that would've helped too.

Anyhoo, being a perky sort (LOL) I bounced back today, and so today's happinesses are as follows...

1. Miss 6s toothache was not an abscess, hole or anything else dire - and was easily fixed by the dentist this morning with the minimum of fuss.  (One tooth is being pushed up by the adult tooth below it, causing pain when bitten on - he sanded it back a smidge and now its all good)
2. The Dog's sprained back has improved enough that he can now lick his nether regions. Huzzah.
3. I spent most of today at the embroider's guild, and look, I stitched a squirrel...

See, squirrel
Its done in an Italian style called Assisi
Also managed to sew a straight black line, am very proud of my line

And made me a bookmark.
Yep, very sad I use a Kindle now

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Four Thursday Happinesses

Four happinesses today :)

1. Coffee with a school mum / writing friend who  is just starting to get somewhere with her writing.  So excited for her.  Publishing can be very tough, and its great to hear good news.

2. Spent the morning with my sewing ladies.  Love them.

3. Problem solving meeting with Miss 6s therapist.  She had some fantastic kid-wrangling ideas and I'm feeling a wee bit less overwhelmed now.  Also she made us cup cakes.

And finally,
4. Off to meet with the Hawkesbury River Writers this evening (actually am about to be late, which is why this post is so brief).

Have a lovely evening everyone.  Back tomorrow with Friday's happinesses.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Finished in the nick of time

Two happinesses today...
Flat stitch sampler
1. Have been sewing like a fiend for my Embroiderer's Guild course.  My first assignment - two surface stitch samplers, is finally finished.  Due Saturday, so in the nick of time.  Colour washed out in photo am afraid, they're much more vibrant in real life.  So happy I've taken another step towards passing the course :)
Loop, knot and chain stitch sampler 

2. Been doing a bit of book downloading on the kindle...

- Entangled Publishing has just put out Love Knows No Bounds, the proceeds of this anthology will go towards Autism research.

- My dear friend, the deelicious Jess Dee has just released her latest novel Office Affair

I love a book that supports Autism, and I love it when a mate releases a book :)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Always, always wear a Sports Bra

Am taking part in Seven Cherubs Happy Days in May this month.  I got married in May, so its always been a happy month for me, and its autumn, my favourite season.  So its a nice fit to be dwelling on my happiness every day :)

So without further ado, today has three happinesses.

1. Miss 7 has been doing a project on school uniforms and how they've changed over time.  This led to me hauling out the photos and finding this gem, of me aged 5 in my school uniform.  So many happy delightful memories.  I went to primary school in Sevenoaks, in Kent in the UK.  My school was called Walthamstow Hall.  And that was the uniform.  Proper tie and all.  Yes, thats a tube of smarties in my hand (it was the 70s, that's what you fed kids then).
A lifetime of eating smarties
2. A 5 Star Review for Running Scared - This review is, without doubt, the best I have ever received!!!  I am still grinning about it :) Thank you Shereen!

3. Couch to 5Ks - So as per my blog post of the other day, I have undertaken C5k, ie running. Tonight was my first run.  I learned something very important.  Always, always wear a sports bra.  Things became so dire that I was forced to run holding my own ample bust in place (otherwise they would have BOUNCED OFF - no kidding).  THEN, towards the end I was so totally knackered that I forgot to let go during the walking part.  Yep, basically I was walking around my neighbourhood panting and holding my own breasts.  But I did it. I thought I was going to have a heart-attack, but I did it!!