Back into baking

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I got so excited when I saw the cake tin for these cakes, I honestly couldn’t let them go and had to buy them.

In my quest to get back into baking I thought that I would try making these cakes but with a cake mix. I haven’t done a lot of baking for a while and although I’m pretty good at cakes I thought it best to ease myself into them.

In creating these cakes I knew that I was getting myself into something more than just a simple cake. The process was straight forward… I mean cake mixes are sinch! But as I was doing so I was delving into an array of childhood memories… I had these Babushka dolls when I was a little girl. I remember they had elements of red in them and flowers of some kind.

I remember opening the big doll then the next size up and so forth until I had all the dolls lined up in a row. The trick was getting the dolls back inside and having the pattern perfectly lined up so they didn’t look sloppy and so they closed properly.

I don’t know where mine are anymore which I believe to be sad because if I did then I know I would still have them. I would still keep them as a treasure. I might even on the odd occassion play with them as I did when I was a child.

On the night of my 21st birthday my older brother gave me another set of these dolls. Except these ones were of a teacher. So totally his style. Inside the smallest of the dolls was a butterfly necklace that had purple gems on the wings. It was a beautiful gift. I still have the doll and necklace and although it’s not quite the same as the pretty red one with the flowers, it’s still such a lovely thing to have.

Then sometime last year I caught up with a friend as the days were creeping closer to Christmas. Here in Melbourne we have beautiful arcades in one of them there is a shop full of these dolls. Now my friend here loves these dolls more than me so we had to go in. There were so many different kinds!! I couldn’t believe it, it was incredible. My friend and I started sharing our Babushka doll stories and I learnt more about them then if I had simply googled…

They’ve also become a bit of a trend so I wasn’t all that surprised to find a cake tin that meant you could have Babushka doll cakes but it was still felt pretty good to see them sitting there in the shop.

The icing details may not be perfect but I’m pretty happy with my little creation.

So tempted to have one before dinner but I know that I shouldn’t… 🙂

Signing to be soon be enjoying these delicious sweet looking cakes!

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My battle with gluten free breakfast!

So today I decided to make myself Quinoa Porridge! It took about half an hour to make which for breakfast is a bit of a drainer, so when I sat down and ate it, I thought to myself: “this better taste good!”

Guess what – it did! It tasted bloody brilliantly in fact. A little sweet so I’ve learnt for next time to add less golden syrup… but a part from that it was warm, crunchy (for the chopped almonds) and incredibly filling!

The afternoon has come and I can still feel a happy stomach and a sigh of relief!

My batttle with gluten free breakfast actually feels like it’s getting easier!

Back in the day before I knew of my Coeliac Disease, breakfast was simple. A couple pieces of toast, fruit and a cup of tea or if I had a bit more time – then I’d treat myself to eggs on toast, maybe even with a bit of bacon.

In the past year or so I’ve been learning what it’s like to live on a gluten free diet and breakfast as been the hardest meal to conquer. I’ve tried everything! From packaged rice porridge, fruit and yoghurt and of course gf cereal. Toast was set aside as gf bread is expensive and it’s hard to find a good loaf out there that isn’t like a brick.  Nothing has seemed to fill me up and I’m usually hungry about an hour after eating! It’s been frustrating as anything plus not exaclty that healthy either. Snacking is NOT a good alternative, that’s for sure.

It’s nice to finally be feeling like I can start the day like most normal people do – with a good breakfast! Since eating the Quinoa Porridge, I have felt fuller and have gained more energy. It put me in the mood to have a productive day. Instead of feeling sluggish and ‘starving’.

Being a coeliac has it’s moments and it’s definetly a learning curve on how to be a better cook in giving myself a healthy, delicious and filling diet. One that I can ensure will give me the most nutritients and thus allowing me to be the best that I can be.  When I discover new recipes like the porridge I made today I am faced with mixed feelings. Somewhere between triumph and feeling excluded. Triumph because I can eat something and enjoy it and exluded because I’m not a part of the ‘normal’ world anymore.

I know that these days being on gluten free diet is easier than it was ten or even five years ago but it doesn’t take away the ‘sucky’ feeling I have when I have to go food shopping, go to a restaurant, a friend’s house, a party or can’t be bothered and want take-way. There isn’t really an easy way out and today with my porridge I’m ok with that but maybe tomorrow things won’t be so easy.

I know I have to stick to the diet for my health and stay positive which I do with all my determination. But all I’m saying is – sometimes I wish I didn’t have to. Sometimes I wish I could walk across the road and buy some fish and chips and finish off the meal with an ice-cream in a cone – now that would be a real treat!!

In the meantime: here’s to brekky! You don’t know how amazing it is until you can longer find a simple way to enjoy it.

Signing off so I can more fun learning how to be a better gluten free cook! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Where does time go?

It’s five days until I leave for Darwin, seriously when did that happen? I always knew that the time for me to leave for this trip would come but it always seemed far away like somehow it wasn’t going to happen…

When I first put my name down as a person of interest… I thought – oh yeah it could happen, I could be spending 6 weeks in the NT for my final placement etc It will be totally amazing yadda yadda but for some reason in the back of my mind I didn’t actually think it was happening.

Why, I don’t really know?

I don’t think it was until about a month ago that the thought of actually doing this crossed my mind. The plans were in place, it was marked in my diary and I even knew who I was going to be partners with but still somehow I thought that I would still be in Melbourne…

But no it is really happening!

But it isn’t just this trip that has crept up on me it is also the whole year…

I still have vivid memories of celebrating new years – my one wish was that this year had to be better than last year after being as sick as I was  and not even thinking that I would finish my course in the same time as originally planned to now thinking about what job I want… I think I got the 2012 that I hoped for…

The trip will be amazing and will probably make the year for me but if you took that away I would still think that I’ve had a great year…

As simple as it is but not getting sick again is all I needed to get through this year… It was all I needed to say to myself at the end: “I’ve really had a good year”

A lot of people I think when they reflect on a year gone by think that if they haven’t had any grand accomplishments or done ‘amazing’ things like for example a huge OS trip or whatever it is that they want… that they think “oh what a crappy year” but for me a good year really means: being healthy, getting through anything challenging a long the way and just allowing for life to be the best that it can be in the moment…

One of my favourite quotes is

“be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”

I like this because it shows me that everyone out there has hard stuff that they have to deal with and that it isn’t just you. We forget this when we’re the ones that are ‘suffering’ because it does feel like we are the only ones, that we are the only ones going through something, that we are the only ones that feel miserable… But really we’re not. We’re one in a million/billion/trillion and there is probably someone else out there is going through something a lot worse than you are.

I remember when I was admitted to hospital before I had an appendectomy and thinking “oooh this feels so awful… no one else has any idea what this feels like, etc” you know that whole ‘wo as me…life is bad, etc” the common thing for people to do when they’re sick even if it’s just a cold…

Then I got a txt from a friend saying something like “I know how bad it felt before I had my operation, etc” (this friend also no longer has her appendix) and it made me realise how a lot of people have had the exact same operation that I was about to have and that it was going to be ok… plus not only that but I was going to have key hole surgery which is much more simple than how it used to be… so out came “it could be worse”

“it could be worse” last year became something I would say every time I got sick, every time my blood got tested, every time I got asked if I was pregnant, the list goes on…

And you know it’s so true “it could be worse”…

I’m not saying you’re never going to feel awful and when something happens to you especially if you have never had that happen before it is really hard to deal with, it’s tough… It is placed there for you to go through, experience and to face up to…

And I’m sorry to have to say this, but that’s life

Just like this time that is slowly drifting away, it’s going to happen and there really isn’t that much we can do about it. These next five days which is now looking more like 4 1/2 will take the time it takes and at the end of them I will be on a plane heading for Darwin.

The six weeks though that I’m away could actually feel quicker then these next few days – now that’s the scary bit 🙂

To me life is taking the happy/amazing/great/joyful/exciting parts or the sad/horrible/awful parts and being in either of those moments… you have to take all of those things as they are and except that sometimes that is just how it is…

Signing off so I can actually do something about all this packing I have to do… eeeeek!

 

Regaining my imagination…

I want to write a story that is based on the home/house that I grew up in and possibly then have it extend to other areas of Australia that I’ve been…

I’m about to go to the Northern Territory!! I will be living and working in Pigeon Hole for six weeks and will get to be amongst the people of that community… This trip is part of what is called SWIRL or Story-writing in rural locations and is run by my uni and also happens to be my last ever teaching placement.

I am so excited, scared, and simply just awaiting all the possibilities of what will come from this experience.

When asked “what do you wish to bring?” I thought and thought for an appropriate response and came up with – an open mind. I think in this case instead of being the teacher I will be very much the learner. I don’t really know what I’m getting into, about where I’m going, what to expect or how I’ll cope living in such a remote area.

Some people might think I’m mad and I’m happy to accept that, maybe I’m mad and maybe we’re all mad. But what good would it be if all we did was sit at home and did not take on adventures like this? I don’t think I’m any less mad than someone deciding to go to Europe by themselves, am I? 

I feel very much inspired by this and I think it might have something to with always wanting to be a story-teller. For some reason creative writing to me as always been something that even though I have had to work at (a lot!!) I have still very much enjoyed…Some of this comes through with reasons as to why I wanted to be a teacher as well so equally it’s both just great!

I want to write about home because no matter how I far I am from it I’m always thinking about it, it’s always there in the back of my mind, I have such a love for the place that I grew up in that I think wherever I go it will be with me… People have often said that home is where the heart is amongst other sayings of similar ilk but to me – home is where the cat sits on your lap and where you find fairies hiding in the garden.  For me I wasn’t the one who moved – it was my mum… I have lived in other places since she moved out and am now back here but without her… It’s a long story!!!

The idea behind my ‘home is…’ is that I have a cat (last year I had two cats 😦 ) and wherever he goes I feel at home because he is comforting. The fairies though are because when I was a child I very much believed in them and I think even as an adult if you look at a garden very closely you can see that somehow they are there – they take you wherever you need to go and I think that comes back to them being ‘make believe’ or ‘magic’ – they create the colours, the leaves, the petals, the branches, the soil, etc of what makes the garden so beautiful and warm. Because they can fly – they fly with you…and it doesn’t matter where you are or who you live with…

{I think that our mind can very much be in a ‘real’ world and in a ‘fantasy’ world… ‘real’ = cat ‘fantasy’ = fairies…}

 

I am very lucky to live in an old terrace house… The floor boards creek under feet, there are cracks in the walls, there is a door with an old-fashioned key that allows you to enter a part of the garden…

My imagination as a child would be racing with stories… Stories of a made up past; I used to think of so many past lives that this house had and so many fantasy style lives that this house had…

They were intertwined with other people’s imaginations but my favourite stories were those that were merged with the author of the Secret Garden, the Little Princess and Little Lord Fauntleroy — I remember creating my own secret garden and pretending that I lived in boarding school. The funny thing was that I took these imaginings with me…

There was an old brick building as big as big could be… It had tennis courts you see… I used to walk past dreaming of whom lived there and dreaming of all they could have had… What was this place so grand and strange…? I wonder? Who lives there?

Little did I know that red brick building that I used to imagine as a grand house was the school that I attended… I laugh now when I think back to that child who was me but in the same light I also wish I had that same imagination.

Imagination is lost somehow and that loss begins when we go to school… Is it possible to harness it and not drag it down? I don’t it’s primary school, I think it comes more once we reach secondary school…

Hopefully I can allow the very real stories of the children in the NT to open my mind to a whole new world of stories, stories that have been passed down from generation to generation and stories that will keep being passed on. I’m writing this now with anxious butterflies in my stomach just thinking of what is ahead of me…

Goodness!!!

Signing off to get some rest. 🙂 


 

Oh Baby It’s Cold Outside!

You know you are on holidays when it gets to 3:00am and you’re still awake. The day couldn’t have gone any slower and your pjs become the attire of choice…unless you need to buy chocolate. Well at least this is what happens in winter. Winter days are filled with dreaming up your next hearty but comforting dish and you can’t help but to indulge on baked goods… and knowing that tomorrow you’ll be wearing 3 jumpers just to keep warm makes it all the worth-while. This morning I nearly decided that  I would read all day long with a cup of tea and a cat on my lap, but as I realised there were forms to fill in for my up-coming N.T trip this wasn’t going to be possible…

But I will make it up to myself 🙂

At this point in time though it’s not just that I’m on holidays it’s also that I’m really close to finishing my degree! The day that I never thought would come is soon here and although I’m excited I can’t help but to take a big swallow and sigh!!

I cannot believe that I’m sitting here half-way to finishing my degree – I keep having this terrible dream that I’m in a classroom on my first day and all I do is stare at the kids… I don’t know what to do on my first day – I will, I know I will…but in the back of my mind I’m second-guessing myself… It’s almost like I need other people to stop saying that I’ll be fine and to say I’ll be rubbish – just so I can be determined to prove to them they’re wrong…but that’s crazy!!!!!

All these irrational thoughts are crazy… I just hope I’m not the only on thinking them…

Am I the only one thinking them?

This is crazy! This is crazy! This is crazy!

Why do I do this to myself? Think like this?

I guess it’s partly human nature and partly going back to not believing in myself and also partly totally normal but still!!

Urggghhh…

I’m sure it will all come into place I just sometimes wish we didn’t have to go through all of this before it did or that I could just magically see exactly where I’ll be next year.

Ahhh I seriously dislike not knowing what I’ll be doing…

This is crazy! This is crazy! This is crazy!

*deep breath*

Tonight I will dream:

Knowing what to do, knowing that mistakes are ok and knowing that I will be ok no matter what happens.

Tomorrow I will:

Write a list of things that still needs to happen before NT and tick them off as I do them so that I’m not sitting around stressing

and then we’ll go from there…

Is it too late to bake a cake?

I’m conjuring in my mind the perfect layered cake perfectly decorated, GF and utterly delicious…

Right now… maybe I’ll have a sneaky scoop of ice-cream with drinking chocolate on top? hmmm yes… Ice-cream in winter that’s what we all need!!

Ok. Good plan.

Lets go and execute it!!!

Lesson of the day (haven’t done one for ages…):

RELAX! It’s all good. 🙂

Signing off to make a yummy concoction.

A Purple Foods Tea Party

 

As a child a read a book where the characters in this book decided to have a red food day – they would treat themselves to all their favourite red foods and make it a celebration of their favourite colour.

I though have always loved purple and thought that celebrating this colour in eating food of that colour would be much harder – I mean all I could think of was eggplant, plums, beetroot, blackcurrant or foods that had more a purple tinge than colour…

However this afternoon I decided that I would use my purple carrots and make carrot cake which brought back the idea of having a party with all the foods being purple. It seems to be that the rediscovery of food in their natural colour of purple have been made with the carrot, potato, corn, capsicum, etc Although most of these foods do have many colours the idea behind making a ‘discovery’ of the purple form is that they are the superfood…

Or making discoveries in the western world??

It seems to be that superfoods are a part of the ‘modern’ world… but as I’m not one to eat these things because they are popular in the media I will continue with the idea of eating my way through many of these purple foods – to see if I’m eating them because they are purple of if I simply prefer them.

Once of course – I have more recipes under my wing I will of be having this purple foods tea party to live a childhood wish and to see how many foods I can produce that are purple!

As I’m known for being a sweet tooth and baker – I’m sure as well as the veggies there will be many treats on offer… yum!!

If you chose to comment on this post – please send me recipe ideas. (make sure they are gluten free!!)

Looking forward to this celebration of food and colour – maybe one day I’ll try another colour?

But for now I’m signing off for chai tea and my carrot cake [oops to the nearly 10 at night 😉 ]

Leaves make Autumn beautiful

As I am sitting here enjoying what has now turned into brunch. I cant help but to think what a beautiful Autumn we have had. I look out onto my backyard and get to witness all the beautiful colours that make up Autumn. As the last leaves are falling as we get ready for Winter this is what I get to see…

    

The colours I believe give us a sense of warmth through the reds, yellows and oranges and sometimes even silver, grey and blue we can visualise and remember the summer and spring just past… just as a new change is beginning. Autumn leaves have seen us through many changes…

When we were children we jumped and played in them…coming into Adulthood we walk through the old days and look forward to new things and as I’m almost at the end of my first semester of my final year I can see a new change emerging for me.

At this time of the year I always reflect on what has gone and what will happen next it’s exciting to think that I will be working at a school in my own classroom this time next year – a new change that will occur just like the seasons that change every year.

With every new season comes new foods in summer we eat ice-creams, have BBQs, Pavlova with summer berries, in spring we enjoy a good old lamb chop, in autumn it’s a spicy pumpkin soup and by winter we are eating comforting stews and warm apple pies!!

With each change we feel something different and we do different things… My change will be going from a student to being a teacher… It’s an exciting change but it’s a big change.

It’s bigger than going from jumpers to tee-shirts or soup to ice-cream…it’s more like taking a leap or jumping into the unknown…

I will be ready to take it on. But at this stage I can’t imagine how different it will actually be.

Signing off as I have to finish my final assignments for the semester…

I hope you are enjoying the colour of the leaves or whatever weather it is for where you are as that might be not quite the same. 😉

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