Monday, December 30, 2013

Is Goal Setting An Art? Part 3 - Leaving the Comfort Zone

In order to assist me in achieving my goals, I have a dream board: a board with pictures of all the things I would like in my life, the people I would like to meet (yes, George Clooney, I'm coming for you!), charities I would like to support and other bits and pieces I draw inspiration from.  This has extended beyond just the board and now takes over a wall.  The wall also has my list of affirmations...and my son's baseball competition draw! 

I surround myself with these as reminders of the 'why'.  I believe it is one thing to know the 'what' - what am I wanting to achieve?  Understanding my 'why' keeps that fire in my belly alight.  I do all of this for one summed-up reason: options.  Options can give you the choice of many things from time to money.  Having options to me means having freedom to choose.

Having made that profound statement, I was journaling recently about my goals for 2014 and came to realize (why I hadn't before I don't know) that to achieve my goals next year, and I mean really achieve them, will mean leaving a comfort zone that I have known for 25 years.  The security of an industry that I have worked in for a quarter of a century! Put simply, I just don't have a passion for it. I do it and do it well.  Gosh who wouldn't after that long? The first 10 years were great.  After that, I knew I wanted out, I just didn't know where I wanted to go.  More importantly, I didn't know what I was passionate about.  Now I do. The industry has served me well and vice-versa.  It is not that it is time to move on.  That time, as I said, was actually a long time to go.  It is just that now, the comfort of staying there is outweighed by my own desires to go forth and finally achieve what I have been wanting for a long time: to work for myself, in businesses I enjoy, that give me the life that I want for our family.  A life with options.

May the new year bring you many things, all good of course!  I look forward to sharing the journey with you all as we set sail into 2014, leaving the comfort zone of 2013.  For some, it will be great to close the chapter on the year and embark on a fresh start, for others like me, it means getting down to business and turning what's been on paper into my way of life.  Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Is Goal Setting An Art? Part 2: What Myself At 25 Saw For My Life At 40+

OK, so it is a little longer than 10 years since I was 25.  

The fact of the matter is, the age of 25 was a wonderful time in my life. I was together. 

I had moved to New Zealand for work and was absolutely loving it.  I was getting back on my feet financially after an ordinary break up had all but leveled my financial ground.   I was training regularly, I was on track with my money, I was making good use of my time and my life, all around, was just fantastic.  I had used my time in New Zealand to really take stock and think about what I wanted for my life.  I think because I had been so set back financially in the break up and so awakened by it, it became my focus to re-build bigger and better. What I wanted was to set myself up and I thought I had contrived a smart plan to do this.  I was single with no debt. I could pay my credit card off entirely every month. I was budgeting and saving like never before and had planned to purchase an investment property again, learn about the stock market and buy shares.  

Then I returned to Australia.

Rather than commit myself to these projects I had set, I really enjoyed my life to the full. In hindsight, that is not a bad thing.  I don't regret it at all.  I did a lot and did it all paying cash.  My natural short-sightedness (where goals are concerned) took hold and my newly acquired post break up aversion to mortgage commitment reared its ugly head. Yes, that is my technical term for it!  What I should have done though was still aim to achieve the plan I had set for myself whilst back in New Zealand.  Because both living it up and achieving my plan could have been done.  I just couldn't see it at the time.

I did invest whilst in my thirties and was very proud of myself for doing so.  It was very long-sighted of me to plan ahead for my distant future.  However, I stupidly took the advice of a financial advising 'friend' who I trusted and opted for other investments aside from property and shares.  Interestingly he 'retired' at the same time they went belly up but not before lining his own pockets with commissions on my dodgy investments and building a house with them!  To that I say two things a) lesson learned and b) karma takes care of people like that!

Here I am in my forties with young children and can absolutely see the benefits of having an investment property and shares had I executed my master plan at 25 and not been swayed from it.  What I have realised though is that it is never too late to start again. Just because I didn't kick my plan into gear back then, does not mean I can't kick start it  now. It will take a bit more creativity than my straight up original idea now that my situation is different, but it is not impossible.

If I am honest, the life I envisaged for myself in my forties when I was 25 is not the same picture as now.  For a start, I hadn't planned on being financially leveled twice in my life! The picture though is not bad.  At all.  That is not to say I am settling for less.  On the contrary and hence this sequence of posts.  I had contrived, but my drive went off in another direction. Having children has given me the drive and much needed fire in my belly to commit to my plan for setting and following through on my goals for next year.  It is as much for me as it is for them.  I am looking forward to proving to myself (both my present and 25 year old self) that I will do this.

Does your life look like your younger self envisaged?
What did you plan for your life and has it worked out?
How are you at goal setting?  (I am open to any tips anyone can offer)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Is Goal Setting An Art? Part 1 - Growing From a 'To Do' List-er to a Goal Setter

It is that time of year when many of us move into reflection mode on the year that was and ponder our thoughts for the upcoming year.  Granted, it is a skill to run this reflection alongside the buzz and chaos of the festive season, but as natural multi-taskers I have faith in us all!

So in my not-necessarily-quiet reflection, I have chosen my goal for 2014: goal setting!

Let me explain myself...goal setting does not come naturally to me.  'To do' lists do.  I seem to have one growing 'to do' list and I want to learn how to actually get those items marked off.

I am rather short-sighted when it comes to planning and long-term goals because my long term is 3 months.  Life to me is much more fun when lived on impulse.  I do however love to be organised yet become uncomfortable very quickly with structure because it often involves repetition.  I have children though so understand that structure (I like to call it 'pattern') is important for them so we have it.    

In my reflective state this is what I have observed and learned about myself: 

  • because I am a 'to do' list-er, I will give myself a daily 'to do' list.  The time to complete each item may vary from 5 minutes to 20 minutes but if there are about 5 items on the list, I can guarantee that list will be incomplete at the end of the day. Why?  Call me crazy but the list becomes overwhelming.  Let me point out that these are items in addition to my usual day to day activities so it is finding that extra time or more aptly, thinking I will have the extra time in the first place, that is actually the overwhelming element.  Did I mention I am an idealist so tend to think anything is possible?  Then the day happens!
  • I have learned that I am better at having one item on my list for the day (even if it is a 5 minute one) because I am more than half a chance of actually completing it and marking that item off the list once and for all.
  • have you ever heard the saying "You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time"?  I have come to realise that I am also better at looking at the end picture, or goal in this instance, and breaking it down into smaller, more achievable bite size pieces (even chunks are too big for me!).  
  • I work best to deadlines.  Guaranteed, if I have a calendar year to complete a project, I will not look at it until October.  Again call me crazy, but my best work is done under the thrill/threat (your choice) of a deadline.  Giving myself a deadline that I know can be shifted does not work.  I will shift it.  The deadline must be absolute.  

I truly admire those folk who set goals, plan, focus, go forth and achieve.  I would like to have a crack at being one of those people in 2014.  My idealistic self believes it to be possible!  This is why I believe goal setting is an art - because not everyone is good at it. Mine is a little abstract at present.  Give me time.  I will present a masterpiece!

Stay tuned for next week's installment - Is Goal Setting An Art?  Part 2 - What My 25 Year Old Self Saw For My Life at 40+.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Secret To The Best Christmas Cake Is In The Chocolate...Yes, The Chocolate!

Here we are, 6 weeks out from Christmas.  

Some super organised people have already begun their Christmas Day preparations, like my best friend who sent me a text on Monday to say she had completed all of her present was the 11th November!!  I wish I could be like this and resolve with myself each year that next year I will be more organised, but the truth is, I run well to deadlines!  In some macabre way, my body seems to thrive on the whole 'last minute' vibe.  Just once though, I would love to try an organised Christmas to see how it feels.

One thing however that I am always organised with is cooking our family Christmas Cake six weeks out from Christmas.   This is a recipe I found in a magazine many years ago (yep, I can't even take credit for it!) and have been making it each year since we married.  This Christmas fruit cake has a twist on the traditional....chocolate is one of the main ingredients!  Now that is what I call a Christmas cake.  This cake smells divine when cooking and tastes delicious.  So there was no way this year I was going to keep this little beauty to myself.  As I say, some secrets are best when shared!  

I read somewhere once that when cooking your Christmas cake, it is tradition to get each family member to stir the mixture once, making a wish for the following year as they do so.  Maybe it is an old wives tale.  Either way, it is a bit of fun and can't hurt, so we do it!

Without any further ado, here it is:


Serves: 16 - 20  Prep: 15 mins (+ 2 hours cooling time)  Cooking: 2.5 hours

Fruit cake is best stored in an airtight container in a cool cupboard or in the fridge in warmer weather, for up to 2 months.

850g    (5 1/4 cups) mixed dried fruit
150g    dark chocolate, chopped
250g    butter, chopped
200g    (1 cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
250mls (1 cup) whisky (feel free to vary this...I use whatever I have: port, sherry etc)
4          eggs, lightly beaten
225g    (1 1/2 cups) plain flour
50g      (1/3 cup) self-raising flour
30g      (1/4 cup) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp  bicarbonate of soda
145g    (3/4 cup) dark choc bits (I use the whole 250g's chocolate!!!)
60g      blanched almonds (due to nut allergies in our family I use Icing Sugar dusted over)

1.  Line the base and sides of a deep round 22cm cake pan with 3 thicknesses of non-stick baking paper bringing the paper 5cm above the side of the pan.

2.  Combine dried fruit, chocolate, butter, sugar and whisky in a large saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the butter and chocolate have melted.

3.  Increase heat to high and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat to very low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a large heat resistance bowl.  Set aside for 2 hours to cool.  (I just leave it in the saucepan to cool).

4.  Add the eggs to the fruit mixture and use a wooden spoon to mix until well combined.  Sift together the flours, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda.  Add the dry ingredients and choc bits to the fruit mixture and mix well (making your wish!)

5.  Turn your oven on to 150 deg C.  Pour the mixture into the lined pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.  Decorate with the almonds (if using).  Bake in the oven for 2 hours and 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Cover the cake loosely with the foil after 1 3/4 hours.  Remove from the oven and cover the cake in the pan tightly with foil.  Wrap in a tea towel and allow to cool completely overnight.

The following day, I then wrap an additional 2 - 3 tea towels around the cake and put it aside until it is required on Christmas Day.  I then remove the cake and dust it lightly with icing sugar.  I will even use some stencils shaped like holly to give it a Christmas-ey appearance.  

Enjoy this delicious cake.  You won't be disappointed.  Happy Baking!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Riding A White Kangaroo

I have just enjoyed an exciting and all consuming week in New York.  Wow!  What an amazing and vibrant city?  It has so much to offer, to see, to eat, to shop.  It has been a place to visit on my bucket list since being an addict of the celebrated TV show that the city played the leading role in....of course I am talking about Sex And The City.  New York remains on my bucket list as I would love to return, several times!  

On this occasion, I visited my beautiful girlfriend Brooke - a fellow Australian who has taken up residence in New York - and is the perfect host and travel guide for me who has no sense of direction even in a city like New York that is so deliberately mapped out.  I know, it astounds me too!

After my compelling week, it was time to say 'see you later' to both New York and Brooke and embark on the lengthy, but worthwhile, journey home: New York to Dallas, Dallas to Brisbane, Brisbane to Sydney.  

A quick review on the morning of departure of the intended weather for Dallas revealed a warning for severe storms and tornadoes!  I was not without hesitation in boarding the flight to Dallas and was filled with sheer delight and relief when those wheels touched the tarmac, all of us in one piece.  

I must admit though, those feelings are nothing compared with what runs through you as an Australian when you set eyes upon the big white Kangaroo on the red tail of the Qantas aircraft and you know that is your safe ride home.  I don't know why, but so many travelling Australians will say the same thing. Being overseas and seeing that tail will bring tears to your eyes.  Regardless of how long you have been away from home, seeing that familiar icon, the most recognisable piece of Australia anywhere in the world, brings the same level of comfort as a loved one holding your hand.  

To the entire Qantas crew on my flight, thank you.  Thank you firstly for bringing me home safely to my family.  Secondly, thank you for making that long journey enjoyable.  You are friendly, professional and accommodating and your efforts do not go unnoticed.  You are second to none.

To New York, I loved you and look forward to meeting up again one day.  But Dorothy said it best when she clicked those red sparkly heels of hers and announced "there's no place like home".

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Organ Donation - A Personal Story

Today marks a very special anniversary in our family.  

Twenty years and one month ago, my nephew - Master M - was diagnosed with a rare disease called Aplastic Anemia.  In layman terms, his bone marrow was failing to produce platelets which are the blood cells required to clot your blood. This meant that he would bruise wherever he was touched and receiving a cut could prove fatal.  

At the time, Master M was 6, the second of (nearly) 4 children.  Miss L had just turned 9, Master J was 2 and Master S was still in utero.

The only cure for Aplastic Anemia is a Bone Marrow Transplant from a compatible donor. Until the transplant could occur, Master M required a series of platelet transfusions which he received from compatible family members, including myself.  That and so many prayers was the least, in fact all, we could do.

The best option for a perfect match with the bone marrow is always to turn to the siblings first.  My pregnant sister-in-law was due to give birth and on the 6th October gorgeous Master S came into the world.  As the first option, his cord blood was taken and tested to see if it matched Master M's.  It didn't.  The two remaining siblings were then to be tested.  9 year old Miss L who detests needles to this day had not only agreed to be tested "if it would help save" Master M, she was also the closest match.  It was up to her, entirely, to be the one to save her brother's life. 

As a matter of course, Miss L bravely underwent the operation to retrieve her bone marrow and donate this to Master M.  It was not without pain for her - the procedure is such that your pelvic bones are drilled and the bone marrow drawn out, leaving the donor (especially at 9) on the sore side.  The bone marrow was 'patched' to provide a 100% match to Master M's requirements.  After undergoing necessary chemotherapy to deplete his immune system (this increases the chance of acceptance of the transplant), the Bone Marrow Transplant took place.  

Today - the 20th October 2013 - is the day that marks the 20th anniversary of Master M receiving this life saving gift.

The bond created between a then 6 and 9 year old brother and sister runs deep.  What is amazing is that they accept and treat this bond with the same innocence now as when it occurred. To them, it just is.  Because it had to be.  

For us as a family, we realise the enormity of what Miss L did and did without hesitation. A child who hated needles yet 'took one for the team' because options were not just running out, she was it.  But for her, he would not be here.  It's that simple.

This was a time that touched our family incredibly and continues to do so.  We are all listed as organ, plasma, platelet and bone marrow donors.  We have seen it in action and there is no feasible reason for us not to be.  If ever you were wondering whether or not it was something you could do, I say this: if a 9 year old can be a donor without complaint, so can you.  The life, or lives, you could save and the families you would help cannot be counted.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A True Story About A Secret Business

Today's post is an incredible story.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  There is a little something in it for everyone.

The Business 9 Women Kept A Secret For Three Decades

--by Lori Weiss, syndicated from, Jun 29, 2012
Somewhere in West Tennessee, not far from Graceland, nine women -- or "The 9 Nanas," as they prefer to be called -- gather in the darkness of night. At 4am they begin their daily routine -- a ritual that no one, not even their husbands, knew about for 30 years. They have one mission and one mission only: to create happiness. And it all begins with baked goods.
undefined“One of us starts sifting the flour and another washing the eggs,” explained Nana Mary Ellen, the appointed spokesperson for their secret society. “And someone else makes sure the pans are all ready. We switch off, depending on what we feel like doing that day.
“But you make sure to say Nana Pearl is in charge, because she’s the oldest!” she added with a wink and a smile.
Over the next three hours, The 9 Nanas (who all consider themselves sisters, despite what some of their birth certificates say) will whip up hundreds of pound cakes, as part of a grand scheme to help those in need. And then, before anyone gets as much as a glimpse of them, they’ll disappear back into their daily lives. The only hint that may remain is the heavenly scent of vanilla, lemon and lime, lingering in the air.
Even the UPS driver, who picks up hundreds of packages at a time, has no clue what these women, who range in age from 54 to 72, are doing. He’s just happy to get a hug and a bag filled with special treats. What he doesn’t know is that he’s part of their master plan. A plan that began 35 years ago -- when the “sisters” got together for their weekly card game -- something their husbands referred to as “Broads and Bridge.”
“Pearl says it was all her idea,” Mary Ellen teased, “but as I remember it, we were sitting around reminiscing about MaMaw and PaPaw and all the different ways they would lend a hand in the community.” MaMaw and PaPaw are the grandparents who raised four of the women, Mary Ellen included, when their mother passed away; and they took in Pearl as their own, when her parents needed some help.
“MaMaw Ruth would read in the paper that someone had died,” Mary Ellen remembered, “and she’d send off one of her special pound cakes. She didn’t have to know the family. She just wanted to put a little smile on their faces. And we started thinking about what we could do to make a difference like that. What if we had a million dollars? How would we spend it?
So the ladies began brainstorming.
“One of the sisters suggested that we should all start doing our own laundry and put the money we saved to good use. I admit, I protested at first. There’s just something about laundering that I don’t like. But I was outnumbered! So among the nine of us, we’d put aside about $400 a month and our husbands never noticed a thing. Their shirts looked just fine.”
And then the women started listening. They’d eavesdrop -- all with good intentions, of course -- at the local beauty shop or when they were picking up groceries. And when they heard about a widow or a single mom who needed a little help, they’d step in and anonymously pay a utility bill or buy some new clothes for the children.
“We wanted to help as much as we could,” Mary Ellen said, “without taking away from our own families, so we became coupon clippers. And we’d use green stamps. Remember those? We’d use green stamps and we’d make sure to go to Goldsmith’s department store on Wednesdays. Every week they’d have a big sale and you could spend $100 and walk away with $700 worth of merchandise.”
The Nanas would find out where the person lived and send a package with a note that simply said, “Somebody loves you” -- and they’d be sure to include one of MaMaw Ruth’s special pound cakes.
The more people they helped, the bolder they became.
“We gave new meaning to the term drive-by,” Mary Ellen said with delight. “We’d drive through low-income neighborhoods and look for homes that had fans in the window. That told us that the people who lived there didn’t have air-conditioning. Or we’d see that there were no lights on at night, which meant there was a good chance their utilities had been turned off. Then we’d return before the sun came up, like cat burglars, and drop off a little care package.”
For three decades, the ladies’ good deeds went undetected -- that is, until five years ago, when Mary Ellen’s husband, whom she lovingly calls “Southern Charmer,” started noticing extra mileage on the car and large amounts of cash being withdrawn from their savings account.
“He brought out bank statements and they were highlighted!” Mary Ellen said, recalling the horror she felt. “I tried to explain that I had bought some things, but he had this look on his face that I’d never seen before -- and I realized what he must have been thinking. I called the sisters and said, 'You all need to get over here right away.'”
So 30 years into their secret mission, the 9 Nanas and their husbands gathered in Mary Ellen’s living room and the sisters came clean. They told the husbands about the laundry and the eavesdropping -- even the drive-bys. And that’s where their story gets even better -- because the husbands offered to help.
“They were amazed that we were doing this and even more amazed that they never knew. We can keep a good secret! All but three of them are retired now, so sometimes they come with us on our drive-bys. In our area, all you need is an address to pay someone’s utility bill, so we keep the men busy jotting down numbers.”
It wasn’t long before the couples decided it was also time to tell their grown children. And that’s when happiness began to happen in an even bigger way. The children encouraged their mothers to start selling MaMaw Ruth’s pound cakes online, so they could raise money to help even more people. And it wasn’t long before they were receiving more than 100 orders in a day.
“The first time we saw those orders roll in, we were jumping up and down,” Mary Ellen said with a laugh. “We were so excited that we did a ring-around-the-rosie! Then we called all the children and said, 'What do we do next?'"
That’s when the 9 Nanas moved their covert baking operation out of their homes and into the commercial kitchen of a restaurant owned by one of their sons, where they can sneak in before sunrise and sneak out before the staff comes in. They even hired a “happiness coordinator” (whose code name is “Sunny,” of course). Her identity needs to be a secret, too, so she can help out with the eavesdropping.
“We swore her to secrecy -- her parents think she works in marketing. And, really, if you think about it, she is doing public relations and spends a lot of time looking for people to help at the supermarket!”
These days, The 9 Nanas are able to take on even bigger projects, given their online success. Recently they donated more than $5,000 of pillows and linens and personal care products to a shelter for survivors of domestic violence. And this August, they’ll celebrate their second consecutive “Happiness Happens Month” by sending tokens of their appreciation to one person in every state who has made a difference in their own community.
And that million dollars they once wished for? They’re almost there. In the last 35 years, the 9 Nanas have contributed nearly $900,000 of happiness to their local community.
But that doesn’t mean they’re too busy to continue doing the little things that make life a bit happier. Sometimes they just pull out the phone book and send off pound cakes to complete strangers. And if the Nanas spot someone at the grocery store who appears to need a little help, it’s not unusual for them to start filling a stranger’s cart.
“Not everyone is as lucky as we were to have MaMaw and PaPaw to take care of them, to fix all those things that are wrong.
“So this is our way of giving back,” Mary Ellen said. “We want people to know that someone out there cares enough to do something. We want to make sure that happiness happens.”

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What A Child Can Teach You About Sundays

Sundays - be it in the Biblical or modern sense - are a day of rest, relaxation or just plain doing what you want to do.

Coming home last week from our family reunion, my 4 year old was crying because he didn't want to go home.  He and his brother had more fun than even their imaginitive minds could have constructed and his words to me through tears were "I don't want Sunday to end." 

I get it.  We've all been there.  Every week in fact I would imagine!  The only reason I don't cry (now) is that I have managed to rationalise with myself that Sunday will be there again in another 7 days. 

It occurred to me though that I now take Sundays for granted.  Sundays, to me, have become just another day for getting things done, usually around the house.  What was so special about last weekend was that there were no chores or other commitments.  The weekend was 3 days of Sunday: time devoted entirely to having fun and doing whatever it was we wanted to do, and undivided attention to the children.  How often does that happen on our Sundays?  I decided not often enough.

Life gets so busy.  We let it get busy.  Mine has become so busy I had, up until last week, almost forgotten how to have a Sunday!  The innocence and purity of my 4 year old making the comment he did struck me.  In essence, his life until school starts, is entirely Sundays.  The Sundays he is after though are the ones full of fun and not Mummy and Daddy being busy with 'stuff' around the house.

Though some commitments on a Sunday are unavoidable, I've realised that planning here is the secret - to schedule Sunday into our Sunday.  

How do you spend your Sundays?

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Secret To Glowing Skin Is In Your Kitchen

I make no secret of the fact I am all for natural remedies first where possible.  I don't turn away from medicine, I believe it absolutely has its place, and do use it.  However if I can maintain or return to health naturally, then that is my preference.

I could shout from the rooftops about LEMON JUICE

I first came across this little wonder a few years ago when a massage therapist suggested I put some lemon juice in my water in order to bring my body back to a more alkaline state. Huh?  I failed to understand science at school and this proves why.  How could I take something acidic to make my body alkaline?  An explanation is lost on me when I can't even get past the first molecule, so I just accepted that what she said was true and tried it.

I'd had a rash on my face as a result of taking a course of antibiotics.  It usually settles about two weeks after finishing them, but in this case, hadn't.  Fast forward three months past a dermatologist, more antibiotics and the ongoing rash to my discussion with the massage therapist.  Overnight the rash began to clear and within 48 hours was gone.  I was stunned.  Happily stunned of course with a fresh and glowing face!

I have since learned that the lemon juice helps to remove toxins from the body and does so at a pretty rapid rate.  Hence the glowing skin because you are 'detoxing' from the inside, out.  

I use a squeeze of approximately 1 maybe 2 tablespoons into just one of my bottles of water per day (I use a 600 ml bottle).  If you don't have time to squeeze a lemon, you could use the bottled lemon juice instead.  Either way, I can guarantee it will have a positive effect on your skin's appearance. 

Try it, and let me know what you think!

I will note that I am not a medical or natural therapies practitioner, and have the lemon juice with a fairly well rounded healthy diet.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Can Time Be Booked For Speeding?

Being only ten months apart, for two months of the year our children are the same age. Our eldest 3 year old celebrated his 4th birthday through the week with much excitement, a countdown of how many sleeps to go, lots of cake and of course presents! 

As their mum, I regularly watch in awe at both of my boys learning and growing, but this week there was a lot of contemplation about the last four years and just how quickly that time really does fly.  Everyone tells you it will and experience tells you it's true, though you do second guess just how quickly time will fly when in the midst of sleep deprived nights and days and willing your children to reach that magical age of 'sleeping through'. Then you realise it is not an age but a stage.  Everything is a stage.  Sometimes you are ready and welcome the next stage, like their first steps (and sleeping through the night). Other times the next stage appears and you didn't see it coming, like when they don't want to be held in your arms to have their bottle anymore.  I have come to realise that the stage you weren't ready to farewell as yet is ultimately replaced with a new stage that is equally gratifying.  They may not want to be held for their bottle anymore, but at that age, they can't tell you they love you either, or simply call you 'Mummy' - my best job title and role yet even though it is the hardest role I've ever undertaken!

For my son's birthday, his kindy made him a special page with his photo and his foot and hand prints.  It was a realisation of just how big that hoof is compared with the tiny newborn trotter just (what seems like) five minutes ago!  You know when you see a puppy with REALLY big paws and you just know that one day that puppy will grow into those paws and be a huge dog?  Yep, that is my son's footprint.  And yet, where I look at it now and think how big it is, when he turns twenty four, I will reminisce at how small it was.

They say that time flies when you are having fun.  I must be having a ball!  I have made a concerted effort this year to be 'in the moment' with the expectation in doing this that time will some how seem to slow down.  It hasn't.  It is satisfying living this way, I am constantly in a state of awareness.  As for time though, no, weeks and months are still zooming past at a rapid rate of knots to the point where it should be booked for speeding!

Friday, September 6, 2013

An Attitude Of Gratitude

Praises have long been sung about being grateful.  

I have started many a Gratitude Journal in my time.  I haven't abandoned them because they don't work or I wouldn't have started it up again!  I get busy, tired, lazy (I hated admitting that, but it's true) and it falls by the wayside.  You know the feeling though when a theme keeps re-occurring and you just have to sit up and take notice?  My theme of late, in various forms, has been to be grateful.  So I have begun, again, a Gratitude Journal.  It's nothing fancy and I don't even get out the 5 things I am grateful for all the time.  But it has put me into a frame of mind of noticing what I am thankful for and being aware of all the good things happening to and around me.

Like attracts like.  Being grateful will bring more for me to be grateful for.

Enjoy adding some brightness into your life and outlook with this very easy and rewarding thing to do.

Happy Friday!!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Have The Secret To The Best Brownies In The World!

I consider my children, at 3, to be well informed, experienced connoisseurs of the ever popular "Brownie".  Above all slices, biscuits and cakes I have ever baked, the one they repeatedly request is this ever loyal treasure.  It never fails in its delightful taste and texture and is so easy to make...all with ingredients we more often than not have residing in our pantries.  All credit goes to Donna Hay - Australian celebrity chef, food stylist, editor, author and Midas touch giver to these fast and fabulous Brownies!


You'll need:-

  • 150g butter
  • 1 1/4 cups castor sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain flour

How it happens:-

In a saucepan, stir the butter, castor sugar and cocoa over a low heat until smooth. Place this in a bowl and adding the eggs and vanilla extract.  Sift the flour into the mixture and combine.  Pour the mixture into a tin lined with baking paper and put into a 160 deg C oven for 30-35 minutes or until a knife blade comes out clean.  Allow the Brownies to cool in the tin before cutting and dusting with icing sugar.

I am asked for this recipe time and time again.  Everybody says they are the best Brownies they have ever tasted!  Enjoy....