Friday, April 29, 2011

Not the royal wedding

I am sitting at home in silence because I cannot stomach watching the royal wedding. I am impressed that a wedding of that size was brought together so quickly - a friend of mine has just announced a save the date for 5.5 years' time! so they can save and get organised - but apart from that, I don't care. I also dislike the amount of attention for what should be a family affair, and am astounded at the hype around it for two people who are already in love, living together occassionally, and so forth, formalising their arrangement. I also don't give two hoots about whether she'll be queen, queen mother, king's wife or whatever.

Why yes, repulican here how did you pick?

So to celebrate something far more interesting and important, here is my favourite photo from my wedding day. Self-portrait, at the end of our photo shoot, freezing our legs off by that stage and keen for a spa, some cake and champagne, and our holiday to begin!

We eloped. We had a lovely holiday. It was cold. My dress was orange, not red as the picture implies.

Our rings are titanium but TheHusband damaged his between pallets at work, so I want to replace that with a simpler one sometime soon.

Our wedding was just one day of our lives together. We're coming up to having had 6 lovely years together, 2 married, 5 homes, 1 child and lots of laughs.

I get a bit teary when I hear of Christchurch and the damage to it, as it's a special magical place in my memory. We are really wanting to go back there sometime soon!

So happy wedding day to all who've had one, all who plan one, and all who love them. I hope that any couple marrying today is as happy as we are.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Orange bread! Or how to hide another vegetable in dinner

Our oven door exploded 3 weeks ago. AUGH it is the bane of my life at the moment.

I think I'll bake some... nope.
I want to make a slow cooked... nope.
I have leftover fruit so could whip up some... nope.

And so on.

I also got a fabulous pumpkin from a friend's yard on the weekend, and in true Samhain style to celebrate the harvest, I made damper with said pumpkin to share for lunch tomorrow.

Ah hah! No, I didn't bake it. Or make a fire. I used the Bessemer my lovely sister gave us for a wedding gift.

First time ever using it to "bake" in and it worked a treat. It is sheer tiredness that is keeping me from eating the whole thing RIGHTNOW with butter and a hot cup of tea.

Pumpkin damper
Not too sweet, not too savoury. Sadly it is a bit "a pinch of this" recipe but I hope you can follow along.

1/4 of a pumpkin - about 600g
2 and a bit cups of plain flour, converted into self raising flour
A big pinch of cinnamon
About half that of ginger
1/4C of cream
1/2C milk
Pinch of salt
A small palmful of sugar

Ugh when it's written out like that it looks really weird. But I cook by feel and sound so that's how it's written.

Anyways - cut the pumpkin skin off and then cut it up, steam it til it's soft, cool and then squish down with a fork. You don't want a puree but squished bits of pumpkin. Well, I don't anyway - I like a bit of texture. Add the rest of the ingredients and mash together with a fork. The "bit" of flour is because you need to work it with your hands a little, and it should be a fairly damp dough. Sometimes you'll need a bit more flour than other times. It depends on the pumpkin and the flour and the cream/milk and the phase of the moon. But the dough shouldn't be overworked, or too dry. Damp.

Heh that's the "damp" part of damper perhaps?


Form it up into a cob and put it on a floured baking tray in a 200C oven. Or in the Bessemer if you have one, on a low heat for about 1/2 an hour. It kind of steams rather than bakes, in the Bessemer, so it won't sound hollow when it's done but it'll taste just as good.


So this is an awesome way to get more pumpkin into someone, and it goes well with tomato soup or based meals, any soup especially pumpkin, sweet things as well as it's a bit sweet. I put a bit of paprika in it sometimes too, or chilli. It goes well with Mexican food too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Contemplating my navel

Where do you escape to? Where do you escape from? I do so into my shower. Or cup of tea. Depending on the day and whether Sally is around, I can sometimes have a shower alone or a hot cup of tea.

Rarely both in one day though.

Oh - someone asked me what to do with a Sally-sized childerbeast when in the shower? If her being in the shower isn't an option, such as when shaving or if she has already bathed, I stick her in the bath with a LOT of toys. The shower abutts the bath so she can see me and I can see her and it's a deep bath so she can't get out.

For now, because she's worked out how to stand up and sit down. And with cruising that means that climbing is not far off.

Anyways, so the shower. I escape from the world into a warm, white-noise dominated, pleasant and reassuring. I think we all need a place to go, for silence and comfort, for consolation or a little private jig when something goes right. In the out-of-focus latte-coloured tiled and glass box, I can stand and be whatever I am that day. In my shower, I only have to deal with what's within arm's reach. Soap, shampoo, tiles, water - all have a place, and a purpose, and an honesty. Running water does not lie to me. My navel is open for gazing in.

In recent years, perhaps the last 5 (4 in particular) the shower has been my epiphany, my muse. In the bathroom my focus on life changes from a ways over there, to just a few feet, when I take off my glasses and my clothes and wait for the hot water to run through. In the daylight hours, or the bright lights of the ceiling extractor fan, I am forced to stand, literally and figuratively, naked, and contemplate myself. Truly see myself for that moment. To look myself in the eye and assess how I'm doing. In the shower, feeling spray on my shoulder and neck, I realise things that I otherwise would not or could not face. Often just a small thing, like why I have hoarding tendancies (That was this morning's epiphany. It's so that I have something to look forward to. I'll unpack that one in a later post too I think).

I have made some amazing realisations and decisions in the shower. Some not so exciting or profound, of course, but the daily ritual of revealing my 31 year old body and seeing how things change or how I'm feeling, is a distancing but at the same time connecting ritual. I see myself for who and what I am, in the warm light of the heat lamps or the cool sunlight on an Autumnal morning. In that moment, before I shower and dry and put on moisturiser and choose a face from the jar and gird my loins for the day, I look at myself - confident, genuine, concerned, upset, lost, found. I can lie to the world for the rest of the day but to myself, in the mirror, in the slightly-steamy moments I cannot lie to myself. I can dress up or down, choose funky shoes or sexy underwear, interesting socks or a different scarg but I can't hide, in my eyes and face, that which a careful observer might see. My skin my fluctuate, my hair misbehave, my physical form improve or decline, my bright points and dark nooks blend into the greynes of normality and reality, but in the end I cannot hide my soul nor my light under a bushel.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Where do I get my writing style from?

Heh did you even notice I have one? I didn't realise until the other day that I can pinpoint the inspirational writing that inspired me to write and convey the stuff that's in my head. The following article is probably the biggest inspiration but more than that - it really does sum up how I think and my writing may as well reflect that. I have developed it further of course, and do occassionally talk like this (especially when tired, frazzled or excited) and do write neatly for academic reasons. But I do also like to acknowledge my sources!

So here is the article, entitled "Thesis of Superman":

This is an actual essay written by a college applicant. The author, Hugh Gallagher, now attends NYU.


I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.

I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I
play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

But I have not yet gone to college.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Anyone else tired of being frugal?

Is anyone else out there tired of being frugal?

It's like the unspoken elephant in the room sometimes when I'm talking to other frugal-types. Not just the pissing contest type conversations about who's more frugal, but the genuine frustrations of needing to do x and only having y options because of frugality, poverty, or ambition.

This thought started when I got sick of our toilet paper. It's not the cheapest, but I thought it was a good compromise between tissue-paper thin and the uber expensive, while also being a little bit green. But one time too many of having to ration the paper so that I got enough coverage without taking 2m of the stuff made me realise that I wish I didn't have to make these decisions. That I sometimes wish money wasn't an issue.

I am happy to buy a greener product.
I'm happy to buy a larger pack at a lower unit cost, or a different brand to see if there's a cheaper alternative.
Or even, a more expensive brand that is something else I value - locally made, or without x or y.

But what I'm tired of is the penny-pinching just to get by. We're not destitute or poor but going on 5 years of student-ship means we're close to the bone while still achieving some savings goals. And that means making the tough decisions about toilet paper.

Ok woe is me - first world privilege, I has it. I am able to make these decisions. I am able to choose what toilet paper I buy, and opt for one over the other so that money flows elsewhere in our budget.

But in the meantime, I will enjoy the trappings of my life and ponder whether this is why some people go off the rails. Whether we all need a little "thing" in our frugality that means we don't go crazy. For me it's dried spices. I buy them, and I use them generously. Others might scrimp on what they use, how much they use, when they use it or don't use it or what they cook. I also buy and use nice tea and collect tea things (pots and cups).

I do know though that this kind of stress can turn into something more than toilet paper. And living on our budget at the moment means that when I start working professionally we'll be well set to save and prosper. And that these habits are those that self-made rich people use to get the most out of each dollar.

But sometimes, I wish for nice loo paper.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tautology rules!!

I applied for a position blogging for someone else. Crazy talk perhaps?

I have shown I can blog every day for a month (ugh). It was a hard slog and boring towards the end but do'able.

So here's my application for posterity. And so you can wish me luck.

Hello! My name is Emma and I'm mama to a 13 month old girl. I write a mishmash of a blog at the moment but would love to focus my writing on one topic, in a different forum, and have my own blog for the rest of my writings that aren't about being a mama.

I am happy to commit to blogging regularly - I find it cathartic and enjoyable. I love taking photographs and have a dSLR and am not afraid to use it. I'm actually enthralled with learning how to use it, and Photoshop, and would love to develop my skills further! I'm comfortable with sharing my life with people as well and have been blogging about bits and pieces for ages!

I am a fun mama even though my daughter is only 13 months. I am crafty, I knit, sew, paint, experiment with lots of things, am wanting to learn to play the ukulele and I sing in a choir. I live in Adelaide and have done for 5 years now, and love the city. I also own a Thermomix, am a great cook, have an interesting family and a photogenic cat.

Plus I have a lot of friends who'd stalk my posts and drive business through your site.

I'd love to blog about lots of not quite mainstream elements of parenting though, so am not sure you'd be interested in my story and journey. I have tattoos, had a private midwife for my pregnancy, homebirthed, we co-sleep and co-parent, I am a mature-age student nearly finished with a midwifery degree, I am book smart and well-spoken. I dress eclectically, op-shop with determination, love tea and baking, and have a soft spot for peppermint. I also garden, have an interest in herbs and traditional medicines, am staunchly feminist and unapologetically interesting. What I do have is a fabulous marriage, a whole suite of potentially life-changing events on the horizon, a warm demeanor and a lot of confidence.

What I don't have is a photogenic gene in my body so I do apologise for the picture of me attached. But wanted you to have a face for my name! Hope to hear from you soon.

 Wish me luck, yes?

And for posterity, I can share that back in the day I got sent an email that inspired my writing style. I'll blog about that on another day, yes?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oven exploded - sad face

Am I going to look back at this blog in 5,10, 20 years and be able to groan at my language as being so... teens? Are we up to them already? Anyways, yes, our oven door exploded. This is not ours but it is similar to what happened.

The safety glass exploded off the front of the door, and is now taped up with safety cardboard. It's been 2 weeks without an oven and I am getting a bit annoyed with the whole process. I keep thinking that I'll just bake bread... nope. I'll just make some muffins... nope. I'll just pop a casserole... nope. I'll just invite people over for dinner and... nope.

Ok so Thelma the Thermomix is getting a lot of a workout but I'm noticing that I love to combine things and pop them in the oven or the slow cooker. And then write, study, photograph, play with Sally or do what I want. Instead I'm cooking quickly with Thelma, and not getting any baking done.

I don't mind the not baking so much as I still don't have a sweet tooth. TheHusband on the other hand I'm sure is missing my skills. I love baking for so many other reasons and I am getting better with steaming things in Thelma but it's not the same, ya know? And it's not quite as easy to make steamed pudding things, rather than "what's left in the fridge yes oatmeal and some fruit and random chocolate and fruit yoghurt sure that'll taste delicious in my normal recipe". And they don't keep as well either.

But the batter is so. YUMMY!!! when made with coconut cream.

I do need to get my hands on some new silicon cupcake pans though. The only ones I can find are bee shaped or fairy shaped or flower shaped. These don't work in the confines of the Varoma on top of Thelma but I'm reluctant to buy them online and pay for postage as well.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Grow where you are planted

It can be so hard to look on the bright side of life when there are so many other places you would like to be. And "if life hands you lemons, make lemonade" doesn't really describe it. It's not about making the best of a bad situation. It's not about being happy with wanting something, getting something just as functional but not ideal, and making something! even! better! out of it.

It's all very Biblical of me to draw on this proverb as it is from Corinthians. And there is lots of interpretation of it on the webs about the Biblical approach to this but that's not where I'm coming from, although it does show that (a) I heard this somewhere, (b) some aspects of Christianity are universal and (c) it is universal.

But when it comes down to it, the take-home message is that adverse life-situations need not prevent you from having a successful and fulfilling life.

There are lots of things in my life right now that I don't like because they are situations that are not what I want, and not where I'm happy. Physically I am troubled by my lack of (not being able to do the couch-to-5k program that got me started in running 7 years ago, and that people who are less motivated, less fit, less driven, less experienced, less pigheaded, have taken up and wah! I want to be able to do that even though I hated running and am not athletic) fitness, I am flailing because I am not finished my (degree of doom with vague scents of a groundhog day) studies, I'm sick of being a student and not having income when I'm putting effort into my life, and so on. I'm tired of working at Bunnings - I'm something (ashamed? embarassed? amazed?) about the fact that my longest employment has been at mininum wage in a position that I've gone nowhere in, because it was never a 5 year plan to be there.

But this in part clouds the rest of my life, where I am happy. I have a good marriage, a healthy fabulous child, earning capacity, a future to work towards and look forward to, a roof over my head, access to so many things that are first-world, and so much potential.

So it's not that I have lemons, and need to make the best of it. It's deeper than that. It's about being in a situation, planted somewhere specific, and having to not just get by. Not just dwell on the momentary need to make lemonade, but to put down roots and bloom.

And that's what I'm doing with this placement. It's not where I want to be with my midwifery - I want to work with women who trust their bodies, who understand what they're doing, who embrace and celebrate the journey, and joyously welcome labour and birth. But I am doing good things on my placement. I have identified what I want to learn from it and I'm learning. I'm stepping up and using the skills I have to support women in their chosen birth. I'm good at what I do and I have had to choose to bloom where I am planted.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Infrequent blogger is infrequent...

I am still alive and here. I'm on placement at the moment.

I have 3 weeks 7 days left of this placement.
Then 2 weeks more of placement, in about 6 weeks' time.
Then a week or so off, then another week of placement.

Then an exam.

Then a hand up of my portfolio.

And I'm done for this semester. Totally achievable.

And then next semester is 6 weeks of placement, 2 assignments and a portfolio hand up and it's done all together.

Then... what? Aiiiiieeeeeeee I don't know. So many options.

Graduate position - needs to be 0.8-fulltime which is 31-38 hours a week. I cringe to think of whether I can do that. Though the money would be good.
Maybe find a position somewhere at a lower load? Private hospital? Agency?
Take on 1 private client a month and see what happens there? Do it part time until Sally is a lot older?

Or the temptation is there to never ever practice midwifery and instead start up a business to sell gender-neutral baby and toddler clothes.
Or take up photography instead.
Or move to New Zealand.

It depends a bit on what happens when my court case resolves in a few weeks time. A friend mentioned the other day that she just had to help me through til May and I drew a blank of what I needed help with. After all, my exam isn't until July and my placements won't be over until late June... oh right, that court case.

Another huge unknown is what will happen with that. It's impossible to make plans without knowing whether it will resolve in my favour (highly likely), how big a settlement it'll be (no idea) and then what we can do with it. Can we buy a house? Do we buy a house? Where do buy a house? A fixer-upper? Something off the plan? Something that's rented and not move in?

Yeah. Lots of stress and unknown. I'm just trying to concentrate on one week at a time, one shift at a time. It's not easy but right now I have to concentrate on the path my feet are on, and ignore the maelstrom of eddies of fate and decisions that are out of my hands.