Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Finding balance

Sometimes people think our family is unconventional.

It's true we do some things differently to others.

But really there is a lot of how we live that is super doop old school.

Mr Girlfriend is the breadwinner.

He gets all dressed up in his ace outfits of awesome and heads into the city where he works in an office.

I stay at home and look after the kid side of things.

I cook and mostly don't clean...well I do clean but you know I don't love it.

I do the laundry.

I organise paying all the bills and getting any of the housey organisey stuff that needs to get done.

I organise the shopping & cook dinner for everyone every day.

BUT .....

Doing all that stuff is HUGELY time consuming.

It really IS a full time job.

I look at families that have two people working- either part time or full time- and manage their children as well and think they are totally amazing.

I think we all spend our entire lives as adult's trying to find the balance.

Balance between family & work.

The balance between work and family is a constant tug.

Working enough to get the money to keep the financial stress as low as possible.

And then the modern fascination with feeling like you need to LOVE your work.  That places another pressure on everyone.  Or is it just me that thinks that 'loving your work' is a new thing?
Is it wrong to go to work to be able to invest in the other parts of your life that you love?

Don't get me wrong- it is super ACE if you do what you love for work- but I think the pressure to find a job that you LOVE is huge.

What if the other part of your life is what you love the most?  And work is a means to make that how you want? Is that ok too?

It's all so hard isn't it? Finding that balance.

Was it always so complicated?

Do we have to love everything we do?

There are some things in life that you just have to DO and that don't feel good- right?

I don't think it is healthy for our kids to NEVER have a hard time at stuff. I think it is healthy to NOT win all the time.  To feel the sting of disappointment.  To struggle sometimes to achieve something.

I know it is not very popular but I think learning resilience has far greater merit than being a winner.

It is not easy to watch your child struggle but sheesh it feels great to watch your child gain the courage to stand up and try again.

I think people are super dooper LUCKY to be able to do a job they LOVE!  

Bringing up five children is an expensive enterprise.

And having five was what we always wanted to do.

A very considered choice.

Our family is the part of our life that we enjoy the most.

But there are all these things to think about ~

Being home enough to balance the need to be with your family.

Finding time to be with your partner.

And then the hardest part of all.

Finding time to be you.

I am thinking about this a lot.

I guess I always am.

I am grateful to have been able to be around as all of my children have been small.

But there is just one more year left before my fifth and final child will head off to school.

And for me it will be the beginning of a new path for me trying to contribute more financially to the family.

In the time leading up to this I am busily thinking about how I can best do that & still retain the ability to be around for the kids.  Even though they are at school there are lots of things on that are great to be able to be around to be a part of.

Do I do something with the work I do here & make it earn some income for me or do I just find a job that I can walk into & walk out of every day?  

The balance will be tipped again and we will have to find new ways of living our life with balance.

I wonder if any of us ever really achieve it?

Or whether the scales keep tipping?

I have said it before but I think it takes a lifetime to find the balance between life & work.

Summer totally means Salad  season right!
My kids love taking salads like this for lunch.
This salad is totally PACKED with nutritional goodness & lovely textures.
You can add all sorts of goodies- think roast veggies, beets, goats cheese, fetta cheese- just use your imagination!
This is a meal in itself (GREAT for kids school lunch) or just sooo good with any meat. 

  • 100g freekeh 
  • 100g Quinoa
  • 100g Green Puy lentils
  • 100g chick peas
  • 100g puffed corn
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 1 lebanese cucumber, cut into 2cm rough chunks
  • 4 oranges (3 for the salad peeled and cut into chunks and one for the dressing)
  • loads of dill, basil, coriander, parsley & mint- or any herbs of your choice chopped roughly. Don't be shy with the fresh herbs!
  • 4 tblspoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 4 tblspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground Cumin
  • S & P
Prepare the freekeh, quinoa, lentils and chickpeas according to the instructions.

Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl add the EVOO, the cumin, the juice & zest of an orange & the red wine vinegar and mix well.  Set aside.

Add all ingredients into a large bowl , pour over dressing and combine well.

Adjust seasoning and serve.

I have been really enjoying Poor Moon's self titled album this week. A couple of them are members of Fleet Foxes and you can hear their music in this album. It's really lovely.
I love this clip too. Do you?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

We are doing alright

Yesterday my eldest son came home from school and told me something that made me cry.

I know.

It doesn't take much.

But this was really super special.

Something that made me feel as if we are doing alright.

Bringing up our kids with the right attitudes & morals.

Those things are very important to me.

Much more so than what they are going to 'be' when they grow up.

Surely HOW they be is more important?

Not so long ago I was in one of my son's classrooms for a parent meeting and I saw a quote on the classroom wall that really resonated with me.

I am going to segue a little here....remind you of ol' skool Snoopy cartoons.
Do you remember the bits where there are adults in the cartoon speaking and all you can hear is 'Wah Wah wah wah'- like in this video......

I had that happen to me at this meeting when I read this quote.

All around me went to 'Wah wah'.

All I could hear was the words I was reading resonating loudly in my head.

A light bulb had gone off.

I wish I knew whose words they were...I forgot to take notice.

The words.  It was all about the words.

Stuck in my soul.

"It is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings"


So much YES!

Mr. Girlfriend and I had only been laughing at ourselves as parents the other night.

We were laughing about how as we get older we seem to have less & less idea about everything. So much so that soon we will be in negative territory.

I retold this idea to some friends of mine last night.  

It is good to laugh at ourselves. Not to take ourselves too seriously.

I guess it feels as if we are stepping into a whole lot of foreign territory with our teen. After years of having young children and feeling pretty well versed in how to manage that we are now back in 'beginner' territory.

Not really sure if we are doing it right or not?

Lots of self doubt as parents.

The kind you have when you are doing things for the first time.

Then our eldest comes out and tells us about something he did.  And it made me feel me ok about it all. That we are indeed doing ok.

We could have very nearly never known about what he did.  Kids do lots of stuff we don't know about.

And one thing I DO know about the teen years is that there is a whole lot more secret stuff than not secret stuff.

I guess we assume that is not a good thing & it is hard to reconcile the letting go with the being attached there is no doubt about it.

But I am sure there are LOTS of really amazing things. Little things. Little and GOOD things that happen that we won't ever know. 


Let me tell you about this one good thing.

This amazingly good thing that my 14yo son did yesterday.

He is currently undertaking 3 weeks of school in the CBD of Melbourne.  He and his fellow class mates make their own way into the city each day to their little school away from school to encourage familiarity with their home town.  To encourage them to dig deep into the history & workings of the city they live in.

How great.

He was making his way into the big smoke for his very first day of the CBD program.

He got off the train right in the centre of town & made his way up out of the underground station to the street.

For some reason there were a stack of bananas being given away in the train station. Some kind of promo.

He grabs a couple & continues up the stairs.

There on his way up on the landing of the staircase was a homeless man.  He tells me he was VERY smelly and his clothes were really ragged & filthy.

My son smiled at him & offered him his bananas.

The man accepted, and thanked him profusely again & again smiling at my boy.

My son could have chosen to NOT see that man. That man who was so invisible to every other commuter walking by him.

One of many many invisible homeless people in every city on earth.

He could have decided that the very unpleasant smell and his ragged appearance was too much.  Too confronting. Too much to warrant an interaction.  

But instead he chose to engage with him and offer him something of real value.

This is why I cried.

I felt overwhelmed.

Amazed that he behaved with such tenderness & compassion towards a complete stranger when it would have been so much easier to walk past like most other people did.


Just wow.

Our kids teach us SOOO much each and every single day.

It is so important that we make the time to listen to what they tell us.

I might NEVER have heard this story.

And I would have missed so very much.

Tostadas are a delicious fresh, tasty & easy dish from Mexico.
Most people love Mexican food but might have never thought of eating it for Breakfast.
I bet it will be a weekend favourite once you have tried it!
You can change the ingredients to suit what flavours you like.
You can serve it as described below but it is also great with a fried egg on top or maybe even a little bit of cooked shredded chicken or prawns if you want to be all fancy.
You can change the ingredients that make up the salsa to your won liking. I like this mix as it provides a lot of colour as well as different flavours & textures.
Super yum scrum.
You can add chilli if you are are a chilli fiend like me!
I had the absolute pleasure of cooking this recipe with some 12yo girls at our local Primary school & can tell you all that they LOVED eating it and were super doop great at making this.
Get your kids in the kitchen and enjoy! 
Cooking together is one of the BEST ways to have interactions & conversations with your children.
  •      2 avocadoes
  •      2 mangoes
  •       1 orange, peeled
  •      ½ Lebanese cucumber, peeled
  •       100g fetta cheese
  •       ½ bunch  coriander
  •      2 limes
  •      1 teaspoon cumin powder
  •      1 packet of Round Tortilla chips
  •       ½ Spanish onion (red onion)
  •       Salt & Pepper
Using a sharp knife, chop the mango, cucumber & orange into 2cm cubes.

Dice the Spanish onion finely.

Chop the coriander coarsely.
Add all chopped ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Add the juice of two limes & the cumin powder.

Mix well with your hands.

Taste and season with salt & pepper.

Place the tortilla rounds on a large platter and add a small amount of the salsa (the mango, cucumber mix) on top of each.

(If you are adding a fried egg you would fry them up at this point– it would be better to do individual serves and pop the egg on top of each individual serve)

Once you have finished crumble the fetta over the top of it all.

Add a little more fresh coriander to make it look super fab.

The fact that I am not taking my eldest to see my wonky-eyed fave singer man & his band (Radiohead) with me on Friday was only tempered a little by the fact that yesterday I bought him tickets to see another fave of ours- Kings of Convenience -with me- 3 rows from the front early next year.
OMG did I tell you how excited I am that my lads are old enough to come with me to music gigs now?!!!!
And the fact that they want to......and love the same music.....THE BESTEST.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Ladies who lunch

Last week was my birthday.

We like to make our birthdays last as long as possible in our house.

For years Mr.Girlfriend has had to travel to NY for a week over my birthday.

I KNOW!!!!! 

After years of trying to get this time shifted to no avail......this year he FINALLY did!

I was SOOOO happy!

Go Mr.Girlfriend!

This year my birthday week also happened to co-incide with one of the busiest weeks in the history of our family in terms of the kids schedule's that we have ever had.

I was so happy to have him around.

The day before my birthday he stayed at home, didn't go to work.

My parents were flying over to be here too.

He told me he wanted to take me out to buy my present.  Something he thought I would love but wasn't quite sure.

We hopped in our family bus with our littlest and off we went to a 'secret' destination.

So much fun!

And there it was.......

Something I have been coveting for years.

And unbeknownst to Mr.Girlfriend I had just included it in a Xmas wish list of mine a couple of days earlier to be published elsewhere ( that he knew NOTHING of).

He knows me so very well.

An exquisite Japanese Nabe pot from here
 Then we quickly scooted around to Richmond for some Pho for lunch.

And it wasn't even my birthday .......yet!

And then it was.


For the first time in about 5 years I woke up on my birthday and ALL of my family was there with me.

And I was showered in hugs & love & more presents from my lads. OMG. So Lucky!

I got phone calls form my siblings, hundreds of lovely messages on le internet. So. Much. LOVE.

On my birthday morning I came over all 'Ladies that Lunch' style & invited a few ladies over to my place for lunch at the last minute & they said yes!

Cause that's what 'Ladies that Lunch' do dontcha know?!

I set the table.

And cooked some yummy fish and everyone brought a plate. And it was ace.
And then another friend arrived and she brought a cake and these GORGEOUS flowers from her garden.
They are still gorgeous a week later on my mantelpiece.

Then that night Mr.Girlfriend and I went out to dinner together.
We ate at a fave Japanese restaurant.
Looks so pretty doesn't it.
Tastes pretty too.
you should go eat here too. Sooooo good!
Then the next night we had a campfire- as we often do.
We cooked on it & ate by candlelight outside and stayed up really late and played music by the fire, we sang, we laughed and talked and talked & forgot to notice the time.
The next day it was cold and I got to wear my new Swedish Cape I bought myself and my Mumma got to wear the gorgeous new hat she bought at the same gorgeous Swedish shop & we toasted a gorgeous friend on the other side of the world who has shown us amazing compassion & generosity at a very very hard time in our family's life.
The wine was bought by this same very special friend and brought all the way across the other side of the world by my mumma to share with me. we look very happy don't we. we were. xxx
I was tired by the end of my birthday week.
But me oh my it was one of the bestest most loveliest weeks ever there was.

I felt soooo loved.

My favourite birthday gift of all was having Mr.Girlfriend home with me.
It was the best present ever.

It's going to be a good year.

At my Ladies Luncheon I cooked up an old fave. 
A super quick an easy Fish dish. The ladies approved! 
And I have been asked for the recipe - so here it is.
I used Dory fillets but it is also delish with Flathead or any other firm white fleshed fish.
And as it is Broad bean season i am always looking to invent ways to use broad beans. 
According to Mr.Girlfriend this was the 'Best Raita EVER'- this is coming from a dude who DESPISED Broad beans until recently!!

  • 500 g firm white fish fillets- or any fish you like
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • S & P
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Rice bran oil
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 100g shelled broad beans.  (I removed mine from the pod & boiled for about 3 minutes then removed and shelled)
  • handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, sliced finely
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 green chilli, sliced fine (omit if you like)
for the fish:
In a wide bowl add flour, ground cumin, turmeric, S & P & 1/2 bunch of fresh coriander leaves. Mix well.
In another bowl add the whisked eggs.
Take each fish fillet and drag through egg to coat, then place into the spiced flour.
Set aside on a plate.
Repeat with all other fillets.

Heat a non stick fry pan to medium high.
Place butter and oil in together.
Once butter melted gently place fillets into pan. 
I fry two or three at a time- don't overcrowd the pan.

Fry for 3-4 minutes and turn gently and fry for a couple of minutes on the other side.
Remove from pan onto paper towel until all fillets cooked.

for the Raita:
Place chopped walnuts, shelled Broad beans, yoghurt, spring onion, chilli (optional), S&P, cumin seeds and Yoghurt into a bowl and mix through well.

Serve with some freshly steamed Jasmine Rice -( or as we did on my Ladies Luncheon with an assortment of salad yuminess. )
I also served mine with my Indian Chat potatoes - recipe here

I love this song by Poor Moon (the side project of a couple of members of Fleet Foxes).
And who doesn't love a Combi?!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Optimistic for the future

Last week I had the pleasure of watching my 14yo son's school production of Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.

The kids did it all.

The set design, the lighting, the direction, the production design & the sound, the art for the handouts, the ushering.

It was so incredible to see.

There were errors, little lines forgotten here & there, people that were hard at times to hear, lights on the wrong players but there was also inventiveness, amazing music played by the kids, incredible make-up & costumes, fantastically choreographed flash mob dance scenes, lines delivered with brilliant humour and acting that the Bard would have been proud of.

Here in front of the audience was a generation of burgeoning adults who are often labelled with descriptors such as "lazy, selfish, unable to concentrate or finish anything, no-hopers".........

What I saw was a generation of young adults who were filled with endeavour, wit, camaraderie, concern for one another, humour, originality,  musical genius, courage & intellect.

I for one will not partake in the conversation that puts down the current generation of youth.

Give them the opportunity to fulfil their talents and they will seize the opportunity.

I wish someone had told me to pack tissues.

I sat two rows back with tears slowly and silently falling.

I wasn't one bit sad.

I was just plain overwhelmed.

So proud of each and every one of the kids on that stage that night.

To stand up in front of an audience & recite William Shakespeare is no mean feat but to have done so & given it the life they did was truly something to behold.

I am optimistic for the future.

The hands that it is in are filled with creativity, genius, independence, courage, friendship, humility & love.

It is in good hands.

Summer means lots of stone fruits.
This is a good way to use the stone fruit that is sitting in your fruit bowl that needs to get used up.
This recipe is for Peaches but you could substitute any stone fruit.
Delicious served on your cereal with some yoghurt, on Ricotta Hotcakes, Pancakes, or served with a good Ice cream for a fresh and delicious dessert.
It will keep for a week in an airtight container in your fridge once made.

  • 200g sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 6 peaches, halved & stones removed
Put the sugar & water in a large pan ( I used a deep frying pan) & stir until the sugar dissolves.
Now stop stirring and bring to the boil.
remove from heat and place the peaches flat side down on the pan.
Reduce heat to medium & place back on heat for ten minutes.
Can be served hot or cold.
Place remainders in an airtight container & put in fridge.

Cat Power's newest recording 'SUN' is out....I LOVE her.
This song seems perfect for this post.......