This post is brought to you by Strepsils 

I remember watching an episode of the Beverely Hillbillies about just this topic back when I was a kid.     Old granny had a secret remedy to cure the common cold and the unscrupulous family banker, who live next door, was literally falling over himself trying to his hands on it.  He knew full well that particular  cure would be worth millions.    Can you imagine coming up with a cure for the common cold?    Even better can you imagine being able to swallow a pill and minutes later your stuffy nose and sore throat vanish?  That would be awesome – in the truest sense of the word. Little  wonder the banker was so keen!

flu season ahead

Our family has been under the gripes of a cold for a few weeks now. We are all pretty much ready to wave the white flag and spend the rest of the week curled up in bed.    It’s one of those horrible draggy ones that just won’t let up.   One of the girls brought it home from school and it’s slowly made its way around every member of the family until over the weekend it came to settle with me.    Being that I’ve been doing the Whole3o for the past 21 days (no sugar, no grains and a million veggies a day) I thought I might escape it.  But no.  I’m coughing and spluttering right along side the rest of them.  Thankfully I do seem to be picking up a little quicker than the others though – so all that veggie guzzling might have done something.

Unsurprisingly it is the husband who got hit hardest.   Putting aside all of the Man Flu jokes that desperately need to be spoken of about now,  he really did get hit hard.   He came home from work at 3.00 in the afternoon one day last week and went straight to bed.  We didn’t see him again until about 10.00 the next morning.  That’s very unusual behaviour for this guy – whom I normally have trouble keeping still for me than ten minutes at a time.   And it’s taken him days to start to recover.  I have a sneaking suspicion that he may have actually had the flu – but I’m not about to tell him that!  (Shhhh – if you know him you are sworn to silence.)

So, what do you think.  Is there an answer to the question how to soothe a sore throat?    Well if you go by the Hillbillies secret family remedy the answer goes something like this.   Drink a tall glass of water with a good squeeze lemon juice and head off to bed ………… voila ten days later you are cured.  (Yeah boom boom.)  Frankly, although there are lots of things that can help, I’m pretty sure we’re a little way off a cure for colds and flu.   But if you’d like to learn more about the difference between a cold and flu, or check out some Strepsils products.  you can visit the links above.   (She says as she heads off to wipe her nose – yet again.)

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For me, the best thing about owning a Cuisine Companion is that it makes cooking simple and easy. I love good food. But as I discussed recently I get very bored making meals for the family EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.   I have days when I love to cook, but I have others when the pressure to produce good family food drives me nuts.    So, since Cee Cee came to live with me last February, I’ve been researching and literally playing around with simple family meals I can cook up with absolute minimal fuss and bother.   Today, I’d like to share with you my own simple easy version of Thai Green Curry Chicken for the cuisine companion.     It’s inspired from a recipe my sister-in-law makes regularly and totally delish.     (Good work SIL!)

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If you just want to print out the recipe and avoid my pretty pictures and explanation, head on down to the bottom of this post.   But for those of you who like some explanation and visuals – read on. 

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Insert the Ultra Blade into your Cuisine Companion and add a peeled and quartered onion and two peeled cloves of very roughly chopped garlic.  Work at speed 12 for 10 seconds – resulting in a lovely fine chop.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

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Change the blade over to the mixing blade.   Add 1-3 tables spoons of green curry paste.   (1 tablespoon =  a mild flavour, 2 tablespoons =  strong semi-hot flavour, 3 tablespoons = a real zinger.)    Press slow cooker function and select 1.  (130 degrees  for  minutes 5 minutes).  

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While this is cooking chop your chicken breast into small cubes.  There is a lot of room for personal preference here. I like my chicken smaller and shredded.  You may prefer yours larger and more intact.  That’s the joy 0f cooking this way – you get to choose.  

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Add the chicken to the bowl and press the slow cooker function 3 and set the timer for fifteen minutes.  (95 degrees for 15 minutes).  While this is cooking roughly chop up your selection of vegetables.  For example (but not limited to) 2 medium-sized carrots, a zucchini, several stems of cauliflower and or good-sized piece of broccoli.  

If you do like your chicken well shredded you can swap back to the Ultra Blade once the chicken is cooked and  work it for 5 – 10 seconds at speed 8, however I’ve found this means you need to tip the chicken out to swap the blades and then put it back in and for me that feels too messy. I prefer to keep it simple.  However if  you do ever need shredded chicken for something such an easy way to do it.

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Add a 400g can of coconut cream (or coconut milk if you prefer), plus half of the same tin of water and a tablespoon of fish sauce, into the bowl along with the veggies.    Select the slow cook function 3 again but this time for 20 minutes.  (95 degrees for 20 minutes).   Now leave Cee Cee alone to do her work and go and do something more important than cooking!

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Tadah. Perfect and delicious Thai Green Curried Chicken.   Add some rice or enjoy as is.   A perfect winter warmer meal which also keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days.   I could seriously eat this every day of the week at the moment!

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Disclosure.  My Cuisine Companion was gifted to me and I have agreed to post recipes for your enjoyment in return. 

Easy Thai Green Curry Chicken for the Cuisine Companion
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Ingredients
  1. 2 chicken breast fillets
  2. 1 onion
  3. 2 cloves of garlic
  4. 1 can of coconut cream (or milk) 400g
  5. half of the above can of water
  6. 1 tbs fish sauce
  7. 2 carrots
  8. 1 zucchini
  9. 4 florets of cauliflower
  10. 1 head of broccoli
Instructions
  1. Place the Ultra Blade into the bowl. Add a peeled and quartered onion and 2 peeled and roughly chopped garlic cloves and process on speed 12 for 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Change blades to the mixing blade.
  2. Add 1-3 tablespoons of green curry paste and press slow cook 1. (5 minutes at 130 degrees) While this cooks dice the chicken as small as you can manage.
  3. Add the chicken to the bowl and select Slow Cook 3. Set the timers to 15 minutes. While this cooks chop your vegetable into your preferred size and style.
  4. Add coconut cream, plus the same can half filled with water, fish sauce and vegetables to the bowl. Select Slow Cook 3 (which will automatically set to the necessary 20 minutes).
  5. Go away and come back when Cee Cee tells you she has finished her work. (Maybe cook some rice if you want to.)
Notes
  1. You can leave out the fish sauce if you don't have any. (As I have learned from experience.) IT will still taste amazing.
Room For My Soul http://www.roomformysoul.com/

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This post is brought to you by KitchenwareDirect

I know I’m not the only mum who goes through stages when she thinks cooking was invented purely with the intention of driving mothers insane.  You know what I mean.  Those nights (or weeks ……. or even months) when the thought of making YET ANOTHER meal to feed the family seems like the most monotonous and soul-destroying thing you could be asked to do.     Don’t get me wrong,  I’m  not against food per-say (in fact I love it)  but meal preparation has been known to make me  bang my head on the nearest wall. 

Sick of cooking tea every night

My cooking mojo seems to run in ebbs and flows.   While I’m never going to be someone who gets really excited about meal preparation, I do have stages when I can happily spend quality time in the kitchen and get some satisfaction from producing  good food for my family.  Entering the world of thermocooking with my Cuisine Companion has helped a lot in that area, but that’s not really what this post is about.  What I’m talking about today are those horrible dry spells when the only thing you want to go into the kitchen for is to make yourself a cup of coffee.   But, being the mum, there is no ‘get out of jail free’ card and you still have to make tea.  Every. Single. Night.  How do you cope with that?  (Unless of course you are one of the lucky ones who paired up with someone who loves to cook.  Which obviously I didn’t!)  

I hope you didn’t come here looking for answers.  Just so we’re clear I don’t have any.   My approach to it is pretty simple. I roll my eyes, sigh loudly and then put on my big girl apron and get on with it.  Eventually the feelings of boredom pass and I start to regain some pleasure from being in the kitchen.   It usually takes a couple of weeks, by which time my family don’t care if they never see a plate of spaghetti bolognese, tuna mornay, or any of the other classic ‘think free’ family meals, again in their life time.   (Which is a shame for them because of course they will.)

I guess what I’m really saying here is that if it happens to you too, don’t panic.  We weren’t all born to be masterchefs and a little lull in the endless progression of night-time food preparation  isn’t going to ruin anyone’s family.   One thing that does help, to some respect, with my own kitchen motivation is good quality cooking gear.  If you are in the market for some of that you might like to check out kitchenwaredirect.com.au – especially if you like the professional cookware range by Jamie Oliver and Tefal.  Just lovely!

In the meantime may the cooking force  and inspiration mojo stay with you for all your night-time meal preparations. Off you go now.  Get your big girl apron out and get cooking.  

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This post is brought to you by Ford 

Curiously our family has always had a rather close relationship with our family cars.  We’ve had two or three since we first had children and each one has been bestowed with a name and a matching personality.    I’m not sure if it’s just the nature of children  to do this type of thing or if it’s something a little more in-tune with the slightly oddball nature of our family  (my money is on the latter) but regardless, cars that come to live here end up  becoming members of the family.

Blessy blue car

You don’t need much more proof of this than suggesting to the girls that we might sell our current car and (god forbid) buy a new one.  The cries of protest would be deafening.    Our ‘Bessy’ (who dreams of looking like the car above) is starting to get a little long in the tooth.   She is a delightfully un-dainty seven-seater SUV in a deep midnight blue who has just tipped her  front fenders  over the ten-year mark.  But despite her age  she has done an amazing job of serving our family.    She is as reliable as they come and gives her heart and soul to whatever we ask of her.  There have been no breakdowns or expensive car tantrums and I’ve not so much as locked my keys inside her.  Which is amazing in itself as it’s something I used to do with monotonous regularly.

I am told by a reliable source (AKA my  husband) that Bessy is a little heavy on the fuel.  But for me that’s a small price to pay for the security and comfort that comes with owning such a terrific car.   He has also had the gall to suggest Bessy might even be a bit on the ‘butch’ side.  But we best let that pass and move on as the rest of us don’t agree.   We prefer to think of her as capable and motherly.   

Bessy is not the only car we’ve had this intense type of family relationship with.  We’ve  also had Bert the dual cab ute, Harry the work van and let’s not forget  Kermit.  Kermit is technically a camper trailer  but we don’t hold that against him.    Yes it seems that personification might be getting more than its fair share of airtime in these parts.    I probably shouldn’t go on to tell you the names of our household appliances because I’m pretty sure you might start to think it’s really all about me and my obsessive needs to connect with everything and anything.     (Yeah lets not go there.)

Cars are important to families.  It’s important enough that most of us take a lot of time and consideration when we’re planning to purchase one.   If you’re in the market for a car right now you might like to head on over to check out these Ford offers.  The time is coming, all to soon, when we are realistically going to have to think about letting go of our delightful Bessy Blue Car and introducing a new member to our family.  But thankfully that time is not quite yet. 

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My four-week Docket Diaries challenge has flown by.  Seriously, is time speeding up or something?  The weeks just seem to have grown wings lately.   If you want to catch up a bit you can you  read week one Docket Diaries, week two The Adventure Continues and week three Learning New Things by following these links. (That should keep you busy for a minute or two.)

For my last little Shop-A-Docket adventure I took a much-needed caffeine stabilizer break at Gloria Jeans.  Toasted sandwiches and coffee mid way through the shopping was just what I needed today. (It’s toe curlingly freezing here at the moment.)   I did have  great plans to  take the family out bowling and use the ‘buy one game get one free’ shop-a-docket we have in our area at the moment.  But alas a dreaded lurgy has moved into our place this week and the level of coughing and spluttering meant it was never going to happen.  But that’s okay, coffee is always a good thing.   (FYI: By using my voucher I got my coffee at half price after buying a toasted sandwich). 

Anyhoo today what I really wanted to do is give you a summary of my experience doing the Docket Diaries and let you know whether I think Shop-A-Dockets are worth you giving them a second look.  What better way than to make you my own ‘Docket Dairies’ clip, because seriously there is not enough vlogging going on  in the world at the moment.   That and the fact that as I’ve never done it before it’s should be good for a laugh.  (Trust me I will be laughing so you might as well too.)    Why does your own voice always sound so ridiculous when you hear it back? And why didn’t anyone bother telling me my face is embarrassingly expressive?    Okay, suck it up princess and just get on with it.  

Are you ready?  Then press play below and let’s get it other with. 

So that’s a wrap then.  Docket Diaries challenge is done.  It’s seriously been fun and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.   Hopefully you have too.   I have no doubt I’ll be checking the Shop-A-Docket app to see what new deals come up around here.   Do you think you will too?

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chocolate bliss balls cuisine Companion

I have had the pleasure of having a Cuisine Companion in my kitchen for almost two months now and what I am loving most about my Cee Cee is how easy she has made making healthy choices.  These days, when I’ve been too busy (read forgetful) to plan for tea, I can throw a risotto together for the girls in less time than it takes to cook fish fingers in the oven.   That my friends is called winning,  especially when you are fighting an ongoing war against processed foods. 

Anyhoo today I though I’d share my own version of Chocolate Bliss Balls with you.  These I make more for myself than the kids, although they do love them too.   They are totally delicious, very filling and made from real food ingredients.   Having something like this tucked away in my fridge (usually hidden at the back so little fingers can’t find them) makes me very happy when the late evening sugar cravings hit.  Perfect to put your feet up with once the kids are in bed.

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You’ll find a printable recipe below, but for those of you who need to know ingredients up front my chocolate bliss balls  are made from natural or unsalted cashews, pitted medjool dates  (slightly bigger and plumper than regular dates), sultanas, cacoa (or cocoa if you prefer), coconut oil and coconut. 

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Place 250g of unsalted cashews into the Cuisine Companion bowl with the Ultra Blade (Sharp) attached. Seal on the lid and work at speed 12 for 20 seconds.   Remove lid and add 220 grams of medjool dates.  Work at speed 12 for another 20 seconds.  The mixture will then look like the picture below.

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Remove lid and pop in 150 grams of sultanas.  Work at speed 12 for another 20 seconds. (Yes there is a 20 second theme here.)   The mixture will now start to clump together and form a more solid mass.   (As seen below.)

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Add two tablespoons of cacoa and one tablespoon of coconut oil.   Seal the lid and mix at speed 12 for a further 30 seconds.    As the mixture comes together you will start to here more of a thumping sounds from Cee Cee as the lump moves around the bowl.  Feel free to adjust the 30 seconds if you think the mixture needs more or less time for this stage. 

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The  mixture will now be a perfect consistency for rolling into small balls.

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You should be able to make approximately 30 balls from this recipe, depending on the size you make.  Roll each ball into the coconut and pop into a sealed container in the fridge ready to eat when hunger strikes.   Alternatively you can press the entire mixture into a sealable container and cut it into squares once it’s fully fridge cold.   (This method is less time-consuming and less messy but not as much fun.)

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These chocolate bliss balls are delicious and meet a lot of special dietary requirement but best of all, from my point of view, they are simple, natural and pretty much unprocessed.     Do you have a favourite Cuisine Companion recipe?   Link me up in the comments if you do because I am loving learning all of the wonderful things this baby can make happen. 

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DISCLAIMER:  I was fortunate enough to be gifted my Cuisine Companion and while this doesn’t alter my style of writing I do prefer my reader are made fully aware. 

Chocolate Bliss Balls
Yields 30
A healthy a delicious snack sugar free, gluten free and unprocessed.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. Natural Cashews (250g)
  2. Madjool Dates (220g)
  3. Saltanas (150g)
  4. Cacoa (2 tablespoons)
  5. Coconut Oil (1 tablespoon)
  6. Coconut for rolling.
Instructions
  1. Insert Ultra Blade into your Cuisine Companion
  2. Add chashews and work at speed 12 for 20 seconds
  3. Add madjool dates (pitts removed) and work at speed 12 for another 20 seconds
  4. Add sultanas and work at speed 12 for a further 20 seconds
  5. Add Cacoa and coconut oil and work at speed 12 for 30 seconds.
  6. Roll the mixture into approximately 30 balls and store in the fridge. (Alternatively press into a container and cut into square once the mixture is fully cooled. Again store in the fridge.)
Notes
  1. There are many similar recipes for bliss balls - this is simply my variation and the one I enjoy the most. This recipe could be prepared in a blender or similar. However times for working may vary.
Room For My Soul http://www.roomformysoul.com/

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Life in pictures ….

April 18, 2015 · 4 comments

 

The Seventh Birthday Party

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Sonny Bird

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A crazy day at the beach

Our week in pictures4

 

A self-portrait

Our week in pictures

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Those words up there in the title are a  direct quote from the  Media Release for Taryn Brumfitt’s new book. EMRACE ~  My story from body loather to body lovers.  But honestly I could have spoken them myself – probably along with half the rest of the female population of the western world.   What is it with us and our bodies?  Why do so many wonderful, funny, creative, adorable and clever human beings hate the vessel they were born into to live out their lives on this earth?  If you’re looking for answers to this question you may have come to the wrong place.  I don’t have any.  What I do know is that it’s a deep and potentially debilitating issue that stops many wonderful women from reaching their full potential – and that sucks.   

what if I could live happily with my body?

I feel like I was born with body issues.  I can remember very  early on in life feeling an actual and real hatred towards my legs.  You see I have heavy thighs with a big booty and have to stretch  myself to reach my 164cms or 5’4″.   I well remember the day my Dad christened my legs tree trunks.  (Yeah, I know, but he didn’t have the luxury of understanding how words like that can affect a young girl.)  Throughout school and right up into my twenties and even early thirties I spent an immense amount of time obsessing over my body – both trying to change it and simple hating the way it was.    Looking back now, and thinking about how much of my younger self’s energy and vitality was absorbed by my own body hatred, I shudder.    How many achievements and how much fun did I miss out on because I was too immersed in my own self-loathing to recognise them?

Today I am forty-four, and although my body has changed a little over the years, I can happily say I love it.  It’s far from perfect, whatever the hell that is, but I feel forgiving and kind towards it and I enjoy treating it well.   What changed?  It might have been children.    While bearing them adds stretch marks and flappy bits to your body, their presence in your life makes you so much more widely aware.   I made a decision very early on in my parenting journey that I would always speak positively about my body in front of my girls, in the hope that this would give them permission to love their own bodies.   All three are very clear about the fact that I love my big butt.  Maybe I spoke those words so often I started to believe them myself?  I don’t know.   But I do know my perception has changed a lot as I’ve grown older. 

I still have moments were my thoughts plummet back into the dark desperate abyss of self-hatred.  Things were pretty bad for me for a long time.  Words like bulimia were bounced around and I seriously struggled to like, let alone love and respect,  myself.    But these days I treat my body like I would a  friend.    I care for it.  I have compassion and forgiveness for it and I don’t expect perfection.  I enjoy the fact my girls think I’m soft to cuddle and, like the velveteen rabbit, I’ve embraced being real. 

I haven’t even started reading Taryn Brumfitt’s EMBRACE yet.  In fact I only pulled it out of the mailbox ten minutes before I started writing this post.  Just the front cover and the Press Release had my inner Word Nerd on a rampage.    I am a self-confessed fan of her work though.  I contributed to her crowd-funding campaign and I love her message.  I want girls from the new emerging generation to understand this stuff and not lose years of their lives in a cesspool of self-hatred.     I want  my own girls to grow up knowing their bodies are amazing, just like they are, and to use them to achieve all of their dreams and ambitions.   I want to help stamp out the deception that there is even such a thing as a perfect  body and embrace the concept that we’re all perfect in our imperfection. 

Right, all that said I best go read the book now.    But tell me did you grow up understanding that you need to love your own body?

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At the start of this year I decided it was time I thought seriously about learning to care for myself.  Typical of most mums I am fabulously good at caring for my family.  I can anticipating their needs with almost scary accuracy and have spent the past tens doing so – both day and night.   But as for treating myself with the same kindness?  Hmmmmm,  well let’s just say it had never even occurred to me that I should – or even could for that matter.  I come from a long and well established line of martyrs, and to put it simply I grew up thinking self-care was just another word for ‘selfish’. 

Learning to care for yourself

But if you read along here regularly you’ll know my life has had its emotional challenges lately.  At some point a light bulb went on in my head and  I realised I had to get to grips with true,  honest and realistic self-care.   I’ve lived in the belief that the best gift you can give those around you is your own happiness  for years  (because it releases them from ever having to worry about you)  but for some reason I still expected other people to pick up the cheque when it comes to caring for me.    I was  living under the false belief that just because I  cared for others they would automatically  do the same for me.  It’s actually come as a bit of a  relief to know I can care for myself.  It feels amazing and even empowering.   So much so that today I thought I’d share a few things I’ve come across that have really resonated with me – because maybe they will do the same for you.

Marthe From The  Freedom Experiment told me that “self-care is the practice of treating yourself with enough respect that you honour and fulfil your own needs as they arise.”  She believers this is an ongoing job that involves asking yourself what you need right now and learning to deliver yourself the same high level of care that you already provide for others.  (Marthe might be a mother too I suspect).

Learning to care for yourself

World Of Psychology  have put to rest my fear of confusing self-care with selfishness with these words.   Self-care absolutely is not the same as selfishness. Selfishness is lacking any consideration about others and profiting by this. Self-care is about making sure that we are well and healthy so that we are more available to help others. They are in fact polar opposites.”

And for my final gem for today it’s back to Marthe who provides some hints on how to actually learn to take care of yourself by pointing  out that  “the true currency of self-care isn’t money – it’s time, compassion, attention and intention.   If you treat yourself as someone worthy of your time, care and attention, you will eventually start feeling like you are.  Don’t wait for the feeling to come first, lead and it will follow. ” .

Do  you have thoughts on learning to care for yourself?  I think most mums must go through a stage where we have to claim back our ability to honestly and openly care for ourselves.  For me it’s important my daughters see me lovingly looking after myself  so they grow up being free to do the same.    Let me be honest here,  this is  a baby steps process and I have to remind myself A LOT, but thankfully I am well on my way.  What does self-care mean to you?

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I have been busting my buttons trying to find time to post about my flying trip up to Sydney last week to check out the Tefal Cuisine Companion.   Sometime, as bloggers, we are lucky enough to get invited to take part in some seriously fun  and exciting  projects  and for me this is one of those.    Along with a small team of other Aussie foodie and parenting bloggers I got see how this little baby works first-hand in the masterchef-esk kitchens of the Sydney Seafood School.  Impressive stuff.    But that’s not the end of this tale.   I also got to bring home my very own Cuisine Companion.   It would be an understatement to say that being one of the first people in Australia to test drive this awesome piece of French design in my own kitchen has had me a little  excited ….. a complete understatement. 

A Tefal-Cuisine-Companion

It was a ‘flying trip’ to Sydney in the true sense of the words.   I’m pretty sure Jac (Common Chaos Chronicles) and I spent more time in cars, planes, taxis and airport waiting areas than anything else.  But even so it was quite the adventure for us country gals.  Nothing like some good company to pass the travel time.

CommonChaos and CazFilmerWrites

The event itself was top-notch.  Beautiful, informative and fun.   After a short demonstration we all got to cook up our own culinary masterpiece with the Cuisine Companion in the state of the art kitchens of the Sydney Seafood School.     By the end of the night we all, the cooks and the non-cooks alike, had made a delicious risotto or a sumptuous baked cheese cake.  (I know – so clever.)  Then we were all seated at a gorgeous banquet table in the cooking school dinning room to enjoy our handiwork.   It was a fabulous evening with excellent company and, if I do say so myself, delicious food.

Cuisine Companion Kitchen

A few more extended taxi rides and delayed flights later and Jac and I landed back in Melbourne with our carefully guarded Cuisine Companions – all set to embark on a new adventure in family cooking.  I’d secretly made a deal with myself that I was going to use the Cuisine Companion, now known as Cee Cee to her friends, to cook for my family everyday.    If you follow me on Instagram you’ll  know I’ve pretty much kept to this plan (and you may well be cursing my over-abundance of foodie posts).  I have made beautiful chicken stock, nut butters, perfect meringues, delicious risotto, corn fritters, home-made tomato sauce,  ratatouille, beef stroganoff, short-crust pastry biscuits, soups and taco filling.  Yup, my family has eaten very well for the past few days.  And better still, for the first time in a long (LONG) time, I am actually enjoying cooking for them.  

CC collage

Over the next few months I’ll be updating you on how Cee Cee and I are getting along.  Let’s be honest, right at the moment I am still in the first flushes of love with her.  She is intuitive, clever, well designed and makes cooking a breeze.  (What more could you want in a great relationship!)  The good people at Tefal will be setting me some cooking challenges and I’ll be posting some of my favourite recipes and letting you know what it is, or isn’t, that makes this little French cooking machine great.    There is a lot to talk about and much cooking to be done.  And I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds. 

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Social Media Free Saturday

Social media is an interesting beast.  I’ve pretty much lived and breathed it since I started this blog back in 2009 – but if I’m honest I’m only starting to really ‘get it’ now – six years later.    Maybe that’s because these days I make part of my income in the world of digital communications, or perhaps because I’ve had my first experience of feeling a bit burned by social media recently.  (First time in six years – that’s pretty lucky I know.)    Or,  more likely, it’s because I’m starting to see how social media is going impact the world of my girls in the not so distant future. 

This year the powers that be deemed it necessary for my eldest to have an iPad for school.  (Deep breaths.)  To be honest I’m fully supportive of technology becoming part of education.    In fact I think it’s  really important.  Our kids are going grow up in a world filled with technology and school is one of the safest and most productive places for them to learn about it. 

But what I didn’t expect was how the new school iPad was going to opened up our home to an entire new level of social media.   Suddenly my daughter has access to email, face-time and a plethora of other junior social media produced by the Department of Education.  In the past my girls have never been overly obsessive about screen time or games. We’ve never had to worried too much about managing their online time or restricting access – because they didn’t really care that much.    But now that the social aspect of technology has arrived, I can see that this is going to change – quickly.  

Where as I used to have to  beg my mum to let me call my friends on our home phone (admittedly we talked for hours on end)  kids these days can face-time, message and email each other.   The social aspect of school life can keep running way outside of school hours.    You can send each other emails at night to arrange what to play at lunch time tomorrow and organised play dates before your parents even know you’re chatting.  It’s a brave new world of social overload. 

Now all these things are genuinely okay on their own, but what I am starting to see is that social media is luring my girl in and there is a real danger of it beginning to suck up too much of her life.  And that’s before we even start to think about the more  far-reaching implications. I think the time has arrived for some purposeful family planning around the use of  social media in our home. 

So this, along with my own personal revelation that I too need downtime, has led me to Social Media Free Saturdays.  I am beginning to think that as people we don’t actually turn off or enter into downtime when we are continually focused on our social media.    As a self-confessed  introvert, who gets my energy from downtime,  that can be exhausting.    Sounds weird I know – but I honestly don’t fully relax when I’m staying connected.  Forcing myself to spend some planned time away has been a revelation and a relaxation all wrapped up in one – not to mention  good role-modelling.

So my weekends are now pretty much social media free.  (To be honest I occasionally sneak a look on my phone – but it’s happening less and less I promise.)   And it feels good.   It’s almost like closing the door on work (or school or whatever the case may be) and walking away into my own life again.   (Feel that?   See it’s relaxing just thinking about it.)      Do you ever feel the need to unplug from social media?  How do you set limits for yourself and your family. 

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I have been struggling to write much about my mums  journey with alzheimers lately.  It’s hard and emotional and writing about it brings it fully into focus.     (In my own true style I’ve been trying to avoid that.)    But as a good friend told me recently you can’t bury your head in the sand forever – even though sometimes I really want to.   A few weeks back we made to tough decision to move mum out of her home.   We have been trying our damndest to preserve as much of her independence as possible, but in the end you have to balance that with personal safety and she had started to dance a little close to the line. 

Alzheimer sucks I will remember

One of the hardest things for me to deal with at the moment is her house – or more importantly her home.   Mum and I have spent most of the past couple of months slowly sorting through her endless piles of things.  She has always been  collector of stuff and very reluctant to throw things away – so there was quite a bit and we never reached the end. We slowly emptied out boxes and sorted through draws.  Sometimes we did them twice – because she’d forget and wouldn’t believe me that we’d been there before.  She talked about things from her past and sat shaking her head while she read old letters from friends and family she was struggling to recall.    I watched on seeing more and more clearly that she had forgotten her attachments and had begun to live only for the now. 

And then the day came the day she moved.    It feels to me like she left mid-sentence, leaving her world hanging and half completed.    But she didn’t seem to mind that so much was unfinished.    She spent her last few hours in her home doing what she normally did on any other day.   And then she simply got into my brother’s car and drove away. Her days as an independently functioning person of the world ended and there was no fuss or fanfare.    

alzheimers it hurts to know

For the first few weeks after she left I’d walk into her house to see her cardigan still sitting on the kitchen bench and her book resting open on the coffee table – all waiting dutifully for her to return.     For days I couldn’t bring myself to wash the plate and cup she left on the sink or to pack up any of her things – because  once I did those last little moments of her life at home were gone forever.

Mum has gone to live with my brother and his very accepting and giving wife.  I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the way they have taken this challenge on board and run with it.  (If you are reading this you guys totally rock!)  With three little people, and already having my ageing  father-in-law in our own granny flat, reality dictates that I couldn’t take on care of mum as well – even though deep down I feel like I should have.  Her life from this point is going to be better.  She’ll have companionship, be taken out regularly and get to live in the country.  All things she loves.  But most off all she will be safe and have people who love her to help her through this unexpected and unwanted last stage of her life’s journey.   I know she is lucky and I am grateful for that.     

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