Friday, 31 January 2014

Twenty & Eight & a bit more than 365

This week saw two large milestones in 'Taking back Me'.

It has been a little over 365 days since I began this new life project.

And this week saw some happy achievements.

I reached twenty kilos in my weight loss & to celebrate......

I ran eight kilometres- my furthest distance ever- in just over 50 minutes

I am NO expert on exercise but rather a person bumbling along trying hard to keep my friendship with health going.

I have learnt to truly LOVE this part of my life.  Me & health are aiming to be friends for a long, long time.

Here is what I have learnt over the last year & a bit and I am sure I still have a LOT to learn

  • it never ever gets easy.
No matter HOW fit you are there are some days where your legs feel like lead, you just don't have the mojo and just really can't be arsed.  
  • you never ever GET the desire to exercise.
It was a revelation to me - and probably the one single thing that prompted me to start moving- when I realised that NO-ONE ever has the desire to exercise.  The difference is that some people DO exercise and some people DON'T. 
  • sweat really is your friend.
I spent most of my adult life resenting sweat.  It was an outward reminder of how unhealthy I was.  Now I have learnt to like it (I know......weirdo!). It feels as if it is a reminder that my body is working hard at melting the bad away.  Flushing it out.
I know my skin always feels AMAZING after running- all those pores getting a good clean!   
  • there will be times when life gets in the way &  you fall off the horse.
Don't panic.  That is when some of us feel like failure and give up all together.  It's ok. Life sometimes throws curve balls- work gets busy, we get sick etc, etc.  Accepting that sometimes there will be breaks and just getting back on the horse when you can is A-OK.  You'll feel a little rusty but thats ok.  
  • be kind to yourself.
ALWAYS.  ALWAYS. ALWAYS.  find one thing that positive and say it to yourself at those times when you are being too tough.  Eat that piece of cake! It's ok not to be perfect.

  • find good people who support you
Find a great support network. One that you can ask 'stupid' questions, one that will champion you when you do something great, one that won't belittle you when you make a mistake but instead cheer you on to get back up.  It really does make a HUGE difference.  It could be a training partner, a friend or a group of people. 

  • it should be just another part of your everyday life
I think it needs to be a part of your life just as taking a shower, eating lunch or brushing your teeth is.  I never really understood this before.  It felt like something 'other' people did.  It should be something ALL of us do - whether that be in doing incidental everyday exercise, or doing a physical job or fitting in planned exercise into our day. 

  • practising mindfulness is key
This goes hand in hand with exercise.  It is about being considered in everything we do. Taking notice.  Not just letting things slip us by. Be active in how you live your life- by that I am not talking about moving, but rather being ENGAGED.  I also meditate at the end of every exercise session.  

  • be grateful
I was exercising the other day and I looked around me and saw so many people- all shapes, all ages, all abilities out doing their thing.  It made me smile.  I felt grateful that despite not taking the greatest care of my body for a long time that it still looks after me and is doing a GREAT job at helping me move. 

Now I am putting my feet up, ordering take-away after a VERY busy week and looking forward to watching this film again with our big two.
We have been on a bit of a Wes Anderson Marathon love-in at our place. Well how can you not be really?

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Heading out from the big smoke for a Family Picnic

We are in our last week of school holidays this week & have decided to spend it being tourists in our own town.

The other day we headed over to a part of town not so familiar to us and had such a great day exploring neighbourhoods where other people call home. It was so super ace and felt like we had gone an a 'real' holiday when in fact we were just in our own town. It's so great to do- I highly recommend it!

Lots of family fun = good times in our house.

We love to do stuff together as the big group we are.

Sometimes it feels as if lots of planning needs to take place to help things roll a bit smoother but sometimes we like to wing it a bit and feel a bit free & wild.
Crazy huh!
We are totes rock and roll like that!

Anyway......this morning when we saw the weather forecast we decided to get up and pack a picnic and head off to the country & make the most of it.

We stopped in on a few op-shops and second hand book shops in country towns as we travelled, to hunt for treasure- it is necessary dontcha know!
Our family van seems to swerve suddenly to take up rock star car parks in front of these type of stores anyway, so I feel it is necessary to oblige and check them out!

We spied a lovely fruit store and bought up some lovely summer stone fruits & grapes and our picnic was complete.

At home I had packed a thermos of tea, a kilo of fresh baby cucumbers, some pickles, a lettuce and a couple of tomatoes (I had made a vinaigrette to throw on the lettuce & tomato when we stopped), the remains of a coconut butter cake I had made the day before and my delicious, very easy to make & picnic perfect Pork and Veal Terrine.

And of course packing cute table linen is a MUST to give the picnic that magic touch!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar tablecloth seemed a perfect vehicle for our spread.

It was the loveliest of days. And the loveliest and simplest of picnics.
And as always it was the people who made it special.

Taking in the majesty of our incredible native trees as we walked......

We came home happy, and very very tired from our happy day in the country.

Sometimes it is the simplest days that give the most pleasure don't you think?

I originally posted this recipe here but I have had so many requests on Instagram for the recipe I thought I might update it- so here it is!
I love making terrines and every time I make them people seem really delighted about how delicious they are.
Did you know they are really very easy to make?  Once you get the hang of it you might be keen to try a few variations too!
Well let me tell you how to get started on being a Terrine making superstar!
Next time you make one why not head to the country to eat it- they really taste much more delicious out in the fresh air.
I highly recommend it.

  • 900g pork & veal mince
  • 700g streaky bacon 
  • 5 eggs (one raw the others I hard boiled and popped in the centre of the terrine)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic
  • good bunch of fresh sage
  • 3-4 juniper berries
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 4-5 asparagus stems
  • good handful of shelled pistachio nuts


  •  in a mortar and pestle add fennel seeds, garlic, salt, juniper berries and sage and pound to a paste.
  • add this paste to the mince with the raw egg  & pistachios and squeeze thru your hands to incorporate the mix well.  (tip: any leftover mix can be wrapped into puff pastry to make the most delish sausage rolls EVER!)
  • then line the terrine dish with the bacon strips as in pic below so the strips hang over the edge- these get tucked over the top later ( a loaf tin will work just as well)

  • now add some of the mince mix- press it down well and then add the asparagus stems.  I added my boiled eggs lined across the terrine here too- skip this if you don't want eggs in it.  I just thought they would look pretty!
  • keep adding mince, asparagus till terrine full. press down firmly.
  • then place rashers across the top to seal in mince- like this
  • now pop terrine lid on (or foil if using a loaf tin) and put the terrine in a deep roasting dish.  Pour water it into the roasting dish so it comes half way up the terrine .  Place in the oven at 180c for about an hour.
  • take it out of the oven and let it cool down.
  • now place weights onto the terrine and place in fridge for 4 hours minimum or better still, overnight or so to cool and set.
  • take out of fridge and upturn onto a plate. it should look something like this
Now you can slice it and enjoy!

Wrap any remaining terrine and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

This week we also watched the Royal Tenenbaums with the big kids.
We love that our big kids are old enough to enjoy some of our fave movies with us and we get to watch them over and over. And it is nice to share some things with just some of our kids and other things with others you know?
And to be reminded that Wes Anderson is the King of all good things. I love his portrayal of flawed but loveable characters. and really every single thing about everything he does. Wes is 'The Midas of Movies' for me.
I loved listening to Nico in this scene.

Friday, 17 January 2014

LOVING vegetables

The way the Indian culture has elevated vegetables to the magnificent is perhaps only matched in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Whilst we are by no means vegetarian in our house, we love to eat a LOT of vegetables and I often serve dinner with no meat.  My kids never ask "where's the meat?".  In fact there are fights over the remaining salad and veggie dishes at the table most nights. And as I wrote this one of my boys was in the kitchen making Guacamole to serve on his toast for breakfast.

The trick is to put as much effort & thinking into your vegetable dishes as you do your meat ones.  We tend to think hard about how we are going to cook our meat- but very often people just serve steamed veggies on the side as if they are an afterthought & not something that is worthy of more.

It makes me so sad when I read over & over about parents hiding veggies in food so they can get their kids to eat them.  Consider this- would you really want to eat veggies that were just steamed and set upon the plate as an afterthought either? Perhaps not......

Let's re-think the VEG!

I think a lot of us grew up in homes where the veg was always 'just' the side dish.  We, alongside the Brits are known as the 'Meat and 3 veg culture'.
It is understandably hard for people to break out of that.  But I promise that once you do there will be no turning back!

I often cook the other way around to most cooks. My thought process goes something like this- What delicious veggies do I have in the fridge? What will I do with them? And do I want to serve a meat dish with it?

The meat usually comes last in my menu planning. Seasonal eating demands that.  We start with the Veg.  The rest comes next.

When I do serve meat, I am mindful that the meat portions are smaller than the vegetable and salad portions.

I think as a culture we eat far too much meat and having a few good vegetarian recipes that satisfy is a great way to go.  When you find a few real favourites, it won't feel as if you are 'missing out' as some people tend to feel.

I love to eat meat. A LOT. But I am careful about eating meat raised ethically and I buy in bulk from Farmers I know.  I am happy to support them in the work they do- for me that is super important. I love my meat Farmers!

I know lots of people like to participate in Meat Free Monday, but maybe we should be aiming for 3-4 meat free days.  So much better for so many reasons.

It may initially be quite a challenge for lots of us but maybe it is worth giving it a go.  It can really help reduce your weekly food bill too. And it is super nutritious! BONUS.

Here are some cookbooks dedicated to vegetables that I LOVE & use a LOT.  I highly recommend them as a starting point for people who want to start cooking more vegetable dishes.
They are all available at libraries so maybe you can go and borrow them to help kick start your new love of the VEG!

Mr. Wilkinson's Favourite Vegetables



River Cottage Veg


Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery- or really ANY Indian cookbook.

Veggies for the WIN!

DO you want to join me in learning to love veggies in a whole new way this year?

Why not begin TODAY!

My earliest cooking experiences at 10 years of age were curries. I grew up in a family that ate spicy delicious curries a lot- amongst other delicious foods form all around the globe. So very lucky.
It has been a life long love affair.

This is a super quick, easy & delicious curry that I make when I have a hankering for a curry but can't wait for the slow cooked variety!
It is equally as good with added potatoes- or really any veg you want.
Dosa are a lovely flatbread (pancake like) perfect alongside curry- in Southern India they are served for breakfast as well as lunch - I often have them for breakfast too- YUM. The mix is best if left to sit for half an hour or so but I often can't wait!
WHAT YOU WILL NEED for the curry:

  • 1/2 butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes 
  • 1/2 pack of frozen peas
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 red chilli, sliced fine (optional)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee or rice bran oil

Melt the ghee in a large fry pan.  Add the pumpkin and fry till brown and soft.
Add the mustard & cumin and stir until the mustard seeds pop.
Now add the garlic & chilli and stir for a minute or two.
Add the frozen peas and cook till they are soft.
Take off the heat and add the chopped fresh coriander & the fresh lemon juice and serve.

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour (from health food or organic food store)
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 green chilli, chopped extra fine
  • 1/4 bunch fresh coriander, chopped fine
  • water
  • oil for frying (I find the spray oil best for this)

Combine all ingredients and add enough water to make a runny pancake batter.
It should be almost the same sort of consistency as Buttermilk- quite runny!

Let it sit for half an hour (if you can! It helps get the Dosa nice and crisp).

Heat a non-stick pan & when hot spray oil to cover base.

Pour a little batter into pan so it is in a fine layer- tilt the pan to spread evenly.

Once edges are quite brown CAREFULLY (they are fragile!) flip to cook other side.

Remove and set aside.

Serve Curry on top of the Dosa (I like to serve some Lime pickle with it too)

Friday, 10 January 2014

Things I am loving ~ Part 1:: 2014

I have started the new Year off reading this book:

It is written by M.F.K. Fisher's great-nephew, Luke Barr & it chronicles the year that M.F.K Fisher, Julia Child & James Beard~ all very important & influential people in the food industry~  spent in Provence.
I am loving peeking into this little window into their interesting little world. I recommend it!

Did you get any great books to read for Xmas or have some on your 'must read' list?

Speaking of cooking- Beth has posted a great idea of how to dive into your not so well used but much loved cookbooks.

Do you want to join in?

I think it looks like such FUN & a great way to rediscover your cookbooks.

Loving seeing Hailey Bartholomew's 365 Grateful project all over the place.
Have you seen it?
If not go watch the short film here. 
It is sooooo great! And I think SUPER important. Sometimes in the busyness of our lives we confuse the things that really matter. Practising gratitude is an everyday must I think.

I am also LOVING Pip's 'A Year of Ethical Fashion' series.

It is good to think ethically about how we spend isn't it?  It is easy to be seduced by lovely things and press buy without thinking too much about how that 'thing' came to be,  and at what cost.

I think about it a LOT when buying our food but not as much with other things. Weird huh?!
I do buy a lot of pre-loved things- most of my clothing (and clogs!) are second hand buys, in op-shops and via ebay but I am also guilty of the impulse buy without much thought to the real cost of the product.

Mr Girlfriend and I once participated in 'Buy Nothing New' month- whereby we bought only second hand, swapped or 'free' to us things for the month of October.  We stretched it right to the wire of mid-December of that year as we liked how it changed our behaviour.  It certainly does make you think more about your buying patterns.  And that is a good thing I think.

You can look more at Pip's posts here & here .

Do you want to join in too?  I know I am going to try really hard to do my best!

I am also LOVING this amazingly awesome kid's talk about happiness & education.
He talks about practising being healthy & happy. It is the BEST.
I really recommend taking some time to watch it!
Once again KIDS RULE THE WORLD!!!!!
We REALLY need to stop and listen to them.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

The Year of Being the Best you can be.

Welcome to the new year.

Does it feel shiny for you?

An opportunity to begin again?

Or are you not so much into that?

I kind of like the feeling of popping on a new outfit, so to speak.

To de-clutter the old and look ahead at new things.

My kids and I had a chat about this year & what it means for us.

We decided on it being 'The year of being  the best you can be'.

It was inspired by a speech my 11yo gave to his school about what he believed being a leader was.  He believes it is about being the best you can be and in doing that helping others to be the best they can be.

I really latched onto it.  SO wise. So good.

I like the idea of trying your best to be your best.

So this year that is what I am going to do.  Trying to be the very best I can be.

It doesn't mean being perfect.  It means being real.  Living with meaning.

To me it means being mindful, being able to see the good around you, being able to give things a go.  Step out and forward in the things you do.  Let go of negativity and strive to see the positive.

To me it means taking care of those I care about, making time to be with people that are good for me and my family.  Working hard at all I do.

I think there are real benefits in doing all of these things. I think it is good to take stock and be considered in how we behave and how it affects others.  People are what I care about most.

Does it sound like something you would like to try and do too?

Or maybe you have other things you are trying to do/achieve this year. Let me know!

We have just about come to the end the first week of Mr Girlfriend being back at work after an ever so lovely Christmas/New Year break.

We had loads of extra people here and it felt like one of the best recharges ever. SO many of our very favourite people around us.

We took the opportunity to finish the build of our wood oven- it has been a LONG and ongoing project, interrupted by life, busyness and a large renovation.

I will post about the building of it soon- lots of you have asked!

I first posted about it here.

We have been cooking from it nearly every day.

The very first thing we cooked was Pork Crackling. Appropriate non?

Then the most gorgeous & simple pizza. It was the BEST.

It was such a heart filling project.  Built by a community of loved ones in just the manner we intend for it to be used- eating the food from it, with people we love.  The very best sort of food experiences.

We have been listening to this a lot.