Monday, 29 September 2014

Happy Monday

Stress is a horrible thing. For the last month I have been riding a wave of cortisol, constantly preparing my body for fight or flight, yet I can do neither. I fully anticipate that in the future we will find a way of studying the effects stress has on the body more thoroughly and discover that it is just as bad for you as sugar or even tobacco. I bet it causes cancer. I feel rubbish. I have not been sleeping well and I have lost my appetite. My body is so busy diverting blood flow to my extremities (for the fight/flight) that my digestive system doesn't get a look in. I have been eating at all the right times but only because I know I need to to keep myself strong. I feel light and barely connected to the earth and I hate it.

A couple of weeks ago someone commented on my Happy Monday post that I had obviously had a great week. I hadn't. It had been a horrible week in which much of the source for the current stress had been unearthed (sorry to be cryptic but I'm not ready to talk about it until I know where it's heading). I try not to be a 'sunshine and lollipops' blogger, making my life sound styled and perfect; but constant whining about my (mostly first world) problems is dull and quite frankly is a little toxic. It was interesting that by focussing on the positive I had given the illusion that life was sweet (even with my usual 'disclaimer' at the beginning).

This year I have been focussing on the positive things- I started with #100happydays (here, here and here). It has been a pretty tough year so far but I am coping with it much better than I would have in the past. If you are having a tough time of things I certainly recommend recording the moments of joy in whatever way is convenient for you, it provides a great perspective.

Friday, 26 September 2014

The Melbourne Blogger Meetup

One Saturday morning in July I received an email informing me I was no longer required in my Pharmacy job.* I was crushed. You see, I remember the minutiae of peoples' lives, I care about helping people, and this was one of those rare communities where it is not just about how quickly you can dispense a script (although there was that); people would come in for advice on their child's rash or baby formula. I love that stuff. I didn't care about the loss of the job. I was wounded by the loss of that community.

As I drove to (my other) work it occurred to me that there was a bunch of opportunities for connection around me and I just had to grab hold of one. I had joined a couple of Facebook blogger groups two months earlier and had seen a Sydney meetup occur but nothing in Melbourne. So I created an event and started telling people about it. I ran an online survey to see what people wanted because I had no idea what kind of lives other bloggers lead, and armed with the results I found a venue with the location/pricepoint/timing people wanted and made it happen.
A couple of people had left by this point but you get the idea. Photo by Millicent Nankivell

It was glorious.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Beatrix Potty {Beatrix Bakehouse/cafe Review}

My name is Nicole and I am a Beatrix-addict.

I can't help myself, I drop in to pick up a little treat for afternoon tea and leave with a box full and sometimes a ciabatta for lunch!

Owner and cake magician (for that is the correct term) Nat Paull uses locally sourced, in-season produce whenever she possible can and did her apprenticeship with Maggie Beer. It doesn't get much better than that.

This is the crack cocaine of the lunch world.

I have prepared this review over a number of months. I use the term 'review' loosely, let's be honest here, this is a gush, and providing pictures of a large range of tasty treats was really just an opportunity for me to keep going back.
beatrix cafe cake shop

Monday, 22 September 2014

Happy Monday

It has been a big week. There has been a lot of worry, a bit of busyness, very little business and a few exquisite moments that remind me why we keep battling on day after day. So, without further ado...

Things that made me happy this week:

:: A new word by one of the Shakespeares of our time: Conundrumified. If you have never read Eden's blog you just gotta. It can be hard-going, her younger brother committed suicide almost a year ago and she is grieving hard, but the way she writes cuts through so much of the fluffy fakeness in the world and deals the the stuff that matters. And she creates new words, or at least is influential enough that new words she uses may just become part of the Oxford dictionary. In the same post I saw this awesome new word, she shared this extraordinary little film by Shane Koyczan, spoken word poet, writer and performer. Another Shakespeare. Extraordinary people.

Friday, 19 September 2014

10 tips on getting a dog

In the 2012-2013 financial year 49189 dogs were received by the RSPCA (this is their report). Of these, 17946 were reclaimed; leaving a staggering 31233 dogs to be re-homed, of which 10355 were euthanised. If you've ever loved a dog (or a cat, the statistics for cats are even worse) this is mindblowingly tragic.

I once had to re-home two beautiful spoodles; Ernie and Maisie. My long term relationship ended, he didn't want to keep them and I (financially) had to move into a share house. It was impossible to find shared rentals in (Brisbane) Australia that would allow two indoor (one highly challenging) dogs. It took time to find them homes and they both ended up with very loving owners. But I don't know if I will ever get over it. I am tearing up writing about them and still have dreams where I am trying to save them (often from a flood!?!). When I got Ted I committed to being his forever mum. One dog is much easier to manage than two and he has been treated and trained to be suitable to live anywhere I may need to. I am not making the same mistake twice and I don't want you to ever suffer the heartbreak I did so I put together this practical little guide. I am no expert, there are plenty of guides out there from experts; this is based on my own experience, research and time working with rescue groups.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Happy Monday

It has been a big two weeks since my last Happy Monday post. I think The Sweet Swap was a worthy diversion though (I am linking back the recipes as they become available so keep an eye out - if you want to get your inner child squealing with delight I suggest you make the Musk Sticks). I do enjoy writing my Happy Monday posts though. Do you enjoy reading them? Or are they just self-indulgent and dull? Someone commented the other day that bloggers are narcissistic, which is kind of sitting with me. I think some are, but the vast majority are pretty humble, empathetic individuals just striving to be a part of something- whatever that means for them. I met a whole bunch on Saturday and that is certainly the impression I got. Anyway, feedback appreciated :)

cherry blossom australia spring melbourne

Things that made me happy this week (well, fortnight really):

Friday, 12 September 2014

Brunch Art {Ascot Food Store Review}

I once did a course on Food Presentation. When I enrolled I thought I was going to learn how to make cakes look nice, I should have read the fine print, it was on food styling- I spent four weeks learning how to paint a raw chicken so it looks golden and roasted, and the best way to sprinkle coconut. I have never needed those chicken skills again and I like a natural approach to my coconut sprinkling (read as: I give myself about 2 minutes for food shots before I hoover it down- style queen I ain't). However, my lack of skill makes me appreciate those with the gift even more, so when I noticed plates arranged like artworks slipping into my newsfeed, there was no question I would be trying Ascot Food Store sooner rather than later.

I had read reviews on Urbanspoon about their excellent service and my experience was no exception. I showed up about 11am on a Monday and asked very awkwardly for a table for one (I never dine alone but it is something I would like to embrace). The waitress enquired if would I like somewhere a little quieter where I could chill out, and took me through to the cute, smaller back room. This was the first big tick for me, the previous house, turned Spanish deli, turned cafe has multiple dining areas which allows you a choice between large public area (and people-watching fodder) or somewhere you can tuck up and read a book, or, let's face it, Instagram your little heart out.
ascot food store back room

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A Liebster Award and Creating Contentment.

I have been gifted a Liebster award by Sarah of Creating Contentment. Sarah writes unflinchingly honest posts about the challenges she faces and the ways she manages to find contentment in this crazy, busy, stressful world. I am a little in awe of how she manages to wrangle five kids and still find time to really look after herself. Definitely worth popping over for a read.

The Liebster award is essentially a little bloggy thing that has been going around for a while. Bloggers nominate others that write good blog and pass forward the goodwill and attention that bloggers crave. While I started this to write for myself, I delight in writing for you lot and am thrilled that my readers are constantly growing. I also love being part of this little community. It may not quite be the communities of old but people who are passionate about writing and talking and helping each other is something that should be fostered, IRL or URL.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Sweet Swap 2014

I am forgoing a Happy Monday post this week for something that has been making me happy for a couple of weeks now- The Sweet Swap!

Last year two bloggers, Sara of Belly Rumbles and Amanda of Chew Town, came up with the idea of bringing bloggers together over sweets. Inspired. It was so successful that it has become a 'thing' and this year I heard about it in time to join in. Taking part was as simple as registering for the event, posting off some homemade sweets to three bloggers assigned to me and receiving three sweet packages in return. At the same time the entry fee is raising money for ChildFund Australia, a charity that provides care for children in underprivileged countries.

Friday, 5 September 2014

I am, I am trying to be, I am not

I am
Absolutely flogging this idea from the miraculous Michelle at Life Outside London who pinched it from Crumbs in the Bed, who stole it from Dear Mrs Leigh, borrowed from Habitual Homebody who in turn acquired it from Five Sixteenths blog - the instigator. Feel free to keep the thievery going.
Completely besotted with my dog.
Really bad at getting to work on time but good at staying back.
Addicted to Social media.

I am trying to be
A writer
A wine guru
Less envious of other peoples' lives.
Better at relaxing.

I am not
Doing too well at the moment.
Shy and retiring (how The Bookworm described me when we first met- fortunately I didn't kick him to the curb after that). 
Good at saying what I mean. 
Ditzy, although sometimes I pretend to be.
A good daughter.
As tolerant as I should be.

Go on, give me one of each in the comments...


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Chai-Spiced Cheesecake with Rhubarb Compote {recipe}

Any excuse to make a dessert and I am there, beaters in hand, rearing to go. I struggle with the idea though of 'a signature dish'. I get bored making the same thing too often. One of the things that excites me about baking is the opportunity to play and come up with new ideas. I also like to use my dessertee (receiver of dessert) as inspiration. The dessertee in this case was a tea drinker, a chai-loving vegetarian who I happen to know loves cheesecake. Naturally, a chai-spice cheescake had to happen! But it needed to be gelatin-free and I prefer the texture of a no-bake cheesecake. I couldn't find a recipe I liked that met these criteria so I made this up using inspiration from Nigella's no-bake Nutella Cheesecake and Donna Hay's Chai-Spiced Cheesecake Tarts

Monday, 1 September 2014

Happy Monday

I have been lurgy-lugging again this week. I think perhaps I cursed myself; about three weeks ago I though 'Hey! I haven't been sick all winter, those green smoothies must be working to make me invincible.'