Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Friendships In Your Forties - What I've Learned

IMAGE : MORGUEFILE.COM | Female Friendship In Your Forties

I've been having lots of wonderful times spent with friends lately.  New friends, old friends, new friends who feel like old friends, and friends you don't really know you have until you both step into each others' path and say, "I have always liked you and I want you in my life."

I seem to have struck that scenario quite a few times in recent years. I've written before about my love of the 'mummy mafia' and how I have been fortunate enough to have had a largely positive experience with the schoolyard interactions. The truth is, I love the friendships I've made in this chapter of my life. I love that at this age if you wish to connect with someone, you just do. No games, no pretense, no insecurity, just a simple desire to connect with someone who is like-minded and maybe makes you laugh, or makes you feel happy. It's as simple at this age as it was when we were kids ourselves because when you have kids of your own, potential friends seem to be all around you if you're willing to put yourself out there.  And while as a kid I was always more likely to hang around with boys as I seemed to connect with them more easily than with girls, these days my brilliant, widely-varying female friendships are pure gold to me and I'm so grateful for each and every one of them. 

I had a really special friend a few years ago who I adored and to this day I believe she taught me a lot about making friends and about the simple act of reaching out and being transparent.  We connected with each other almost immediately and she provided me with such happiness and joy. My friend had cancer throughout our friendship and while it didn't define our friendship in any way, I think in a small way it helped bring us together in the early days.  We weren't friends because of cancer, but I believe that we both knew that there was no point wasting time in making our connection 'a thing'. My beautiful friend, who was experiencing the awful possibility of dying sooner than the rest of us, knew better than anyone how to connect with others who would provide her with that wonderful friendship-y stuff I'm talking about; the friendship stuff that had nothing to do with her illness.  She connected with many of us wholeheartedly and in doing so, she taught me how to make friends without hesitation and without the time-wasting notion of waiting to see what pans out over time. Although we had to say goodbye to her some time ago, this lesson in friendship is something I have taken with me to this day. For that, (and for so many other things I learned from her), I'm truly grateful.

So here's the thing about me in this chapter of my life. These days, if you and I are destined to be friends, it probably won't be me hanging back in the shadows waiting for you to make the first move.  In my forties I've learned to step forward, to reach out a hand and to say what's in my heart; about what a friend means to me. My dear friend taught me that too. I really believe we should foster wonderful, deep and fulfilling friendships as though time is not a luxury and we shouldn't allow hesitation and insecurity to get in the way of whatever wonderful things are there to be experienced as a cherished friend. So if there's someone bubbling away on your radar that you know you're destined to be friends with, take that step. Discuss the prospect of coffee! It's the age old caffeine-y glue that binds friends together! You just never know the joy that you may be missing by hesitating.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Costco - The Magical Land Of Bulk!

IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Costco - The Magical Land Of Bulk
Anyone else fed up with spending $200 every time they sneeze in the general direction of the supermarket? I am. Goddamn, my kids can eat  - they're like two impatient chimps who have just completed a holy month of fasting. It's ridiculous. I buy what I think is more than enough at the start of the week and surprise, surprise we have a whingey, whiny 'cupboard is bare' situation long before the week is out.  It's like living with two Pacmen. So from a family budget perspective, I feel like there's a) the mortgage, b) the school expenses then c) the damn never-ending grocery bill.

I'm on a mission to shop cheaper and for better quality produce than my local large chain supermarket. *cough* Woollies *cough*.  Not only do I feel completely touched up at the checkout whenever I leave there, but I've also found myself walking away with more droopy eggplants and brown avocados than I care to count. Meh. Annoying. So as part of my mission to check out more economical options (you know already of my love for Aldi if you've hung around here for a while) we recently signed up for Costco. I know - sound the trumpets! I had my fourth visit there this week and I can finally say, I'm getting the hang of it. By getting the hang of it I mean successfully walking out of there having NOT spent $600.00 on stuff I really didn't need in the first place - to achieve that takes quite a bit of practice as it turns out.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Cinnamon Scrolls - TaDa!

IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Cinnamon Scrolls - TaDa!

I've been doing a lot of cooking lately and I can't NOT share some of the gems here. No kidding, these cinnamon scrolls with a cup of tea will deadset solve world peace I reckon. I think the UN could seriously do with a batch.

When it comes to baking, there's nothing better than making your own dough  - nothing tastes better and if you've never done it before rest assured it's really nothing to be scared about. I found this recipe on Best Recipes a few years ago and although I've only made them a couple of times, I can guarantee these cinnamon scrolls are to die for. And while they're super easy (that can be our little secret) you will seriously impress even the toughest audience with your superior culinary skills. Have a go!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pet Fret! It's A Thing!

IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Pet Fret! It's A Thing!
Confession time. I have a serious case of 'pet fret' currently.

Is there perhaps a support group for those who long to have a furry companion but just can't? Surely there are others out there who also suffer from pet fret? There should be a support group. We need to come together and work through this unfortunate vacancy in our lives!

I'm all over dogs like a flea-bite rash at the moment. I think I may have a set of doggy ovaries in me somewhere as every time I see a dog something aches inside me and I make a desperate bee-line for the poor unsuspecting animal showering them in over-zealous pats and gushy doggy dialogue.  What have I become now that I'm no longer a pet owner? A crazy pet stalker lady - that's what! 

In my lifetime, I've never been without a furry companion and boy, have I had some great ones. Cats, dogs, horses, sheep - I've had them all and they were all significant members of my family (even Betty Bantam did alright at holding her position in our brood). And now, I find myself pet free for the past six months after we said goodbye to our beloved Honey (read my tale of unfortunate farewells here) and although my hallway is free from the hairy tumbleweeds that used to frequent our entrance and my grocery bill is a little cheaper, my heart is emptier without a quiet wet-nosed companion tangling around my feet as I attempt to move from room to room. I miss the quiet tap tapping of nails padding up and down the hallway checking the status of various family members. I miss the slow, rhythmic sound of dog snores at my feet as I type away at my computer. I even miss flipping over the damn water bowl for the umpteenth time, then slipping in the spillage in clean socks. (Actually I only miss that a little bit but you get my point).

And while I would like to adopt one (or many) of the dogs I obsessively pore over on Pet Rescue each day, sadly for me and my doggy ovaries there are several reasons why we can't just go out a satisfy my longing for another K9 companion right now. So in the meantime, I will continue my crazy dog lady behaviour and if I happen to run into you and your beloved pet in the street, please forgive the inordinate amount of time I may spend stroking your dog and looking lovingly into its black beady eyes. I'm just soaking up some of it's unconditional love. OK?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Julie Goodwin's Chicken And Lemon Tagine

How good is pearl couscous?! It's awesome, right?! Sorry what? You've NEVER had it? Good Lord - it's time you did! Why not start with the lovely Julie Goodwin's Chicken and Lemon Tagine? It's super easy and outrageously yum.

Here's the lowdown:

Julie Goodwin's Chicken and Lemon Tagine

1/3 cup olive oil
800g skinless chicken thigh fillets
4 garlic cloves
1 large onion
2 TBS sea salt
1 TBS ground turmeric
1 TBS ground cumin
1 lemon
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
1 cup pearl couscous (this is the kicker!)
12 large green olives (although I leave these out as it's more than my youngest child can bear)
1/4 bunch flat-leaf parsley

Cut the onion into quarters, and place the pieces into a food processor (or Thermie) along with garlic, salt, turmeric, cumin and 3 TBS of oil. Zest and juice the lemon into the processor and whizz it all up until if forms a smooth paste. (Have a sneaky sniff! How good does it smell?)

Cut chicken thighs into thirds, pop into a large bowl and coat with the yummy paste. (Doesn't need to be marinated for any length of time - just well coated). Add oil to a chef pan with a lid, wait until oil is hot then add the coated chicken pieces. Fry without turning for about three minutes or until golden brown on one side. Turn chicken pieces over and slowly add chicken stock and water. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low. Using a spoon, sprinkle in the pearl couscous spreading throughout the pan evenly, ensuring its submerged in the liquid. Pop on the lid and allow it to simmer away for about 15 minutes (without stirring) until the couscous is cooked and liquid is almost all absorbed. Sprinkle the parsley over the top, gently stir it through and voila! Serve it up. Yes - it's that easy! (And no, I haven't left any steps out as is my usual form in the kitchen).

* Can be served with your choice of green vegies too, if you want to boost the kids' intake.

If you want more excellent yumminess like this, you should check out Julie Goodwin's 20/20 Meals Book - it's a total winner for weeknight dinners for under $20.00 and it's completely devoid of any eyeroll-inducing recipes. I didn't even get a fake gag when I cooked this one. Winner.

Enjoy! (Not a sponsored post, just sharing some Julie Goodwin love).

Friday, January 15, 2016

Starting School - Five Tips For Making It Easy

IMAGE: THE MOTHER LOAD | Starting School
Have you got a little one starting school this year? How exciting! No really - it is!

You may be punching the air with jubilation at the prospect your child stepping into this new chapter, or perhaps you're feeling a little nervous and sad as you say goodbye to endless days spent together having pyjama mornings, morning babycinos at your favourite cafe and daily nourishing day naps. That's okay. It's kinda normal to feel a tinge of sadness; in fact it's kinda normal to feel both excited and a little sad all at once. After all, it was really only five minutes ago that we were wearing our favourite maternity outfits and affectionately referring to 'the bump' wasn't it? The beginning of a little person's school journey is a wonderful milestone and these years will bring them so much happiness, excitement, independence and amazement as they learn all about the world around them.  With that in mind, I thought I would share a few things that I think you can do to make the transition as easy as possible for both of you (but mostly for them!). There's no hard and fast rules but here's what I learned from our experiences of starting school all those years ago.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2016 - A Snapshot To Date

Welcome to 2016! I hope the year has started well for you - mine certainly has given we've spent most of our time beach side. We're slowly easing back into normality and with that in mind I can't believe in less than three weeks we're back into a new school year once more. Didn't I JUST wash those damn lunchboxes???! Anyway, the school shoes are done and that's enough for now until the books arrive sometime next week. Let's just hang here in denial for a bit longer, OK?

In January 2014 I was inspired by the lovely Nikki Parkinson at Styling You to post my snapshot of the year so far. (My original version is here). Two years on, I've decided to repeat the post as it's a lovely way to capture the holiday vibe and tuck away the memories for another year.

Let's do this!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

May Your Shirts All Be Pocketed!

IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Shirts Be Pocketed
As we skid across the line from one year to the next tonight, the usual amount of yearly reflection saw some family members and I sitting around the kitchen bench last night, chatting about the woes of recent years gone by. (I know, right? We're a barrel of laughs).

As generally lucky and blessed as we are, we've seen our fair share of shit on the shovel in the last two years. There have definitely been some dodgy times through 2014 and 2015 and as it turns out, our family has a tendency to toss those various woes around in conversation like deflated footballs, comparing one to the other.  Our discussion is not a competition about who had it the worst but rather more a bit of a therapy session knowing that at a certain point it's good to download and discuss these challenges particularly when you're on the tail end of them. It seems to make everyone feel as though they've conquered and survived their own little Everest or something. So we say, "Remember this one? But don't forget this! Or that - what about that! That was terrible!" Etc. etc. and then everyone feels a little better about the past and about looking forward into the new year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

An Era Ends!

IMAGE : A WYATT | An Era Ends!

I'm sitting here tonight, dog tired from all the school festivities and annoying grown up responsibilities of the past month and I'm feeling somewhat blissfully reflective and proud of my first born gal who has happily and triumphantly finished her primary school years today. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Can We Just Build A Fort?!

IMAGE : VIA BUZZFEED | Can We Just Build A Fort?
Christ On A Bike! I know it's a bit wiffy of me to pop in on the blog and spew a life whinge given how long it's been since my last post, but for the love of Jah I'm so tired of being a grown up! Being a grown up sucks! Right now, I want nothing more than to build a fort and hide in there while people bring me peanut butter sandwiches or hot chips.  Who's with me? There's room for a few of us.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Farewell, Old Friend..

IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Farewell, Old Friend

She lay still on her bed, knowing that her old body was slipping away long before her head and her heart were ready. I cupped her heavy head in the palm of my hand, nuzzled her old grey face and she gazed back at me with her black eyes, pushing aside the pain she was enduring.  Both she and I knew what that nuzzle meant.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Is This Thing On....?!


I know, I know. It's been three months. Three bloody months!! My creative well has been bone dry for THAT long and I fear I'm now tapping away here for the sole purpose of my own self-therapy once more, maybe devoid of any kind of audience at all. Are you even here? Is this thing on...???! *microphone squeals to life*.

I'm not going to meticulously fill you in on all the juicy details of the last three months; I'm not even going to do what they do in TV shows to catch you up by rolling a package of highlights. I'll just say that while 2014 and 2015 were especially shaky for a while there, things seemed to have turned the corner and I suspect the ship is once again heading in the right direction. Yay for that.  And now it's September. SEPTEMBER!!! When did that happen? Did we even have a July and August or did we totally skip them? I read that someone had finished their Christmas shopping the other day. Pfft. If that's you, please stop reading this, head to a mirror and take a good hard look at yourself. Then punch yourself in the face for being annoying.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Dreaming Of There (And Not Here)

IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Dreaming Of There (And Not Here)
We've had lots of the proverbial shit-up-hill day to day stuff lately, and it got me thinking. I sooo need a holiday!!!

Truthfully, there's almost nothing I wouldn't give to be in the photo above right now. Winter has set in here (I hate winter), life is a bit one step forward, two steps back and therefore I'm craving the warmth of the sun and the simplicity of decisions that revolve around which ice cream flavour to choose or whether the day requires beach or pool time. (Sun, ice cream and water fixes most things for me).  I long to feel warmth on my feet, hear the sound of my kids happily playing at the beach and have a few lighthearted conversations for a change.  Who's with me? Anyone else feeling the same?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Our Social Media Sabbatical

IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Our Social Media Sabbatical
I don't profess to be the perfect parent. Although I may at times make the mistake of striving for perfection, I often fall pretty short in the parenting stakes. Generally if I fall short, I always try and get up, dust myself off and learn whatever lessons there are to be learned. Then I come here and share these lessons with whoever wants to listen. (Or I eat a block of chocolate - whatever gives the most satisfaction). I certainly don't declare what parenting path I choose to be the best way or the right way but it's just... well, my way.

This post is perhaps one of those lessons I'm choosing to share - whether I'm right or wrong in my approach only time will tell.

Friday, May 29, 2015

So - What's Been Happening?

IMAGE : PINTEREST.COM | So - What's Been Happening?
Hello, Blog. Hi Bloggy Mates. Remember me? We used to hang out together quite a bit. Then I went kinda AWOL. It's nothing personal, I just needed some time away to sort out the real world for a bit. Now I'm back and although we're a little stuck for conversation right now, I'm hoping it'll be just like old times really soon.

What's been happening? Oh! Glad you asked!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Raspberry And White Choc Muffins - Julie Goodwin Style

IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Raspberry And White Choc Muffins

So as my quest for Mother Of The Year continues, at some point every week I'm baking homemade yummy stuff for the lunchboxes. I know - I'm a regular Margaret Fulton. Sadly, I missed out on a MOTY nomination this year but I reckon these muffins would have definitely got me over the line.

Today, it's raspberry and white chocolate muffins, a recipe taken from the fabulous Masterchef herself, Julie Goodwin. I love Julie - she's down to earth, she cooks stuff that all of us can successfully conquer (not major flouncy stuff) and it's always deadset yummy. So in the spirit of sharing the deliciousness, here's Julie's recipe. It works. And it's yum.

Raspberry and White Choc Muffins

2 cups of self-raising flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup white choc buds
1 1/2 cups of raspberries
2 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of vegetable oil

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl (include the choc chips).
Chop half the raspberries, combine all the berries with the dry ingredients.
Make a well in the centre of the bowl.
Whisk the eggs, milk and oil in a smaller bowl. Pour into the well and mix with a spoon or spatula until just combined and there are no lumps (but don't over mix)
Spoon mixture into muffin cases and bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes.

Eat at least one warm - it's a crucial step. And while each bite may require two hours on a treadmill to cancel out the damage, I have no doubt you'll agree that it's totally worth it. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Dangers Of Being A Social Media Vigilante

IMAGE : MORGUEFILE.COM |  Being A Social Vigilante
Here's a good lesson for all of us to consider if we ever choose to become a social media vigilante.

Earlier this week, a Dad was shopping alone when he spotted a life size Star Wars figure outside Target. He promptly decided to take a selfie in front of it for his kids. (Yup, a little nerdy, but sweet and harmless nonetheless). There were other children around him waiting for their turn and as he held up his camera phone to take a pic of himself, a woman assumed he was photographing in the direction of where her children were standing. Thinking he was a predator, she promptly snapped a pic of him, shared it on her Facebook account, publicly accused him of being "a creep" while calling for everyone to keep an eye out for him and report him to the police.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ten Things About Me

IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Ten Things About Me
Hey! I want to write and write but there's literally nothing happening in my life worth sharing this week. Nothing, I tells ya. Do you have 'bell jar' weeks like that? Literally, NOT ONE THING about me is interesting right now. So, in the spirit of the Instagram hashtag #tenthingsaboutme, I'm sharing some bits and pieces about myself that most people don't know. Here goes. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Getting Crafty With CleverPatch

IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Getting Crafty With CleverPatch
Look at us! We're doing craft! (I know. It's a certified miracle - save your applause, please.)

As a parent, you either love the idea of craft or you loathe it. I so wish I loved it a bit more but I must admit I'm usually too busy quietly stressing about the state of my Eames chairs under all that paint, glue and glitter to really relax and let go. I know. Life's too short. (But c'mon! Eames chairs, yo!) Admittedly, my two girls are both really creative types so I often find myself having that eternal parenting struggle between protecting the furniture and simply letting them go for it. Too often, the furniture wins.

Having said that, yesterday we absolutely, undeniably went for it. Craft ahoy. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I Hate Swimming Lessons

IMAGE : PINTEREST | I Hate Swimming Lessons


Between the hours of 5-5.30pm every Friday you will find me at home dedicating the necessary amount of time to breathing deeply and recovering from the insanity and mayhem that is, the after school swimming lesson.

I hate swimming lessons. It's not actually the lessons per se, but more the indoor pool environment that I've grown to loathe. I. Hate. It. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Am I Blogging As My True Self?

IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Am I Blogging As My True Self?
I've been asking myself this question quite a lot lately. 

Am I really blogging as my true self?

This question has been bugging me in recent times, niggling away at the creative side of my brain which most of the time also doubles as my harshest critic. Truthfully, the answer is that I'm no longer sure. Maybe I am but I feel a bit of a disconnection to my own story lately and the words aren't flowing quite so freely. I feel like maybe I'm censoring myself a bit? This might be because I'm going through a few life changes; not the type of changes that see me driving a red sports car and shouting hormonal obscenities at random strangers, but more the kind of lifestyle changes that flip your world upside down while you hang on by your fingernails and hope for the best. More about that later.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Movement For Change - A Family Violence Forum


"I want to tell people that family violence happens to anybody, no matter how nice your house is, no matter how intelligent you are."    
Rosie Batty, Australian Of The Year 2015.

Here's a statistic that I didn't know existed before I took notice of Rosie Batty and her anti-family violence campaign. Domestic violence happens to 1 in 3 women here in Australia. 1 in 3. The Breast Cancer Australia Network suggests that 1 in 8 Australian women are likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 60 - that's a high and pretty devastating statistic in itself but 1 in 3??! If that's the case, how do we not all know at least two women around us suffering some kind of family violence? Truthfully, the answer is we probably do. We probably just don't know about it because of a) the stigma attached to being a victim of domestic abuse and b) because a large portion of society suggests that in some way the woman is to blame if she doesn't "just leave".

And therein lies part of the problem. Stigma, a lack of understanding and support, and silence.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lunchboxy Stuff...



Look! Bento Lunch boxes!! I know! Bento!

Do you have a bit too much love for lunchboxes like me? If not, you're excused and may I suggest you read one of my more sensible and thought-provoking posts. If you  love the plasticware vibe in a most unhealthy way, let's chant the mantra together:

"While my plasticware drawer may be spewing containers, dividers and colourful lids, I do indeed have room for one more lunchboxy thing".

Say it with me.

"While my tupperware drawer may be spewing containers, dividers and colourful lids, I do indeed have room for one more lunchboxy thing".

Are you now convinced?

You need to check out Little Bento World. They have really cool lunchboxy stuff and if you're on the long and arduous quest for the perfect school lunchbox as I am (it's been an eight year journey so far), head to their website here and all your plastic-based problems may well be solved. Or at least your craving for that one more piece of cute plastic will be fulfilled. Either way, winning!

(Now get yourself to therapy before it's too late, you plastic obsessed minx...)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Making It Count - An Invitation To A Family Violence Forum

IMAGE : MORGUEFILE.COM | Making It Count - A Family Violence Forum

The world of blogging has exposed me to so many fantastic and varied experiences since I began sharing here​ a few years ago. By far the experience I'm anticipating most is the opportunity to attend a forum hosted by The Nappy Collective on family violence next week, where I will have the chance to hear Australian Of The Year Rosie Batty speak about family violence from the front line and discuss the passionate campaign she has devoted herself to since the tragic death of her son Luke in 2014.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Aldi - If You Dare

IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Aldi - If You Dare

So I've recently discovered the benefits of shopping at Aldi supermarkets. I know. Aldi. It's a whole new world. 

I've discovered that I can pretty much cover our weekly food shop with a bit of clever planning, for about a third of what I was spending elsewhere. Seriously, A THIRD. And we're a family of four hungry hippos who live solely in anticipation of our next meal so that's good news all round I reckon. I did the Aldi thing a few times just to try, then what followed was an overwhelming sense of smugness for my new found economic windfall and therefore I've been back for several weeks in a row. Let me tell you, the smugness has not yet dissipated and in fact, it increases every time you step into a mainstream supermarket and get completely fleeced at the checkout. 

The checkout. That's where things at Aldi somewhat unravel for me.