Thursday, 30 May 2013

2 years.

Around this time 2 years ago, my marriage broke down.

I am just reading through the posts from that time, and from 1 year later.

2 years ago, my emotions could be summarised as:
  • frightened
  • confused 
  • angry
  • guilty. 
All in very large measure.

1 year ago, I could summarise them as
  • frightened
  • lonely
  • sad
There was a general feeling of "ok, what now?". But there was quite a bit of happiness there. I had started to feel hopeful. To get up and brush myself off. To do the best I could, and make the best of what I had.

Today, I could summarise my feelings as
  • contented
  • wise (is that a feeling?)
  • accepting
  • relaxed.
  • In control.
I bumped into my ex-brother in law today. I smiled and said hello and kept on going. I know that my ex's baby is due around now, but I don't think I am quite ready to hear about it. And how would it help?

We don't have to confront everything. Sometimes the less we know, the better.

A lot of stuff I was worried would happen 2 years ago did actually materialise. And you know what? I am ok. Great, in fact. Things were bad at the time but you do survive, and get stronger. It sounds cliched but it is true.

I am living the life I wanted to live. Contented, conscious and grateful.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013



just got that over with now.

I feel a bit better.

I did my abstract art class yesterday. I would show you some of my paintings but they are not very good. So here is a Kandinsky

Dunno what is called, but the colours are pretty, no?

Abstact art is such fun. It requires real creativity. The possibilities are endless- you have to avoid any symbols, actual images or representations. You can just!
Last night was my first class. It was fun to experiment with the paint, and have a look and see how you can get good effects, and what colours are good together.

Okayyyy. Here is a painting I did. Somebody said it looks like breasts. The colouring reminds me of an Asian restaurant.
Boobs, apparently.       

 Not quite as good as the Kandinsky but it will do for a first effort.

This morning I had been dreading for a couple of weeks, but it actually went quite smoothly. I tried to be organised beforehand and plod through the work methodically. But now I have the feeling of being shot out of a cannon, and don't feel like doing any work.

My back has been really sore. I need to get back into pilates.

Can't wait for my holiday.


Sunday, 26 May 2013



Don't you hate it when you have to squeeze five days' work into four? That was me last week.
Another monster week looms this week, with abstract art painting, running and such. And work. Always work.

So, what in this past week or so has been particularly blog-worthy?

Thursday night, the fella and I went to a beer vs pig (the Kiwis) event at Atticus Finch in Brunswick. My fella is Kiwi and loves his brew and swine. Me, I am much more a wine girl than a beer girl. I actually gave most of my beer samples to him. They were very complex brews, a bit too funky for me (when I must drink beer, it is Corona or something light and fruity). There were many matched smallgoods on offer. It was good, but more of a man-thing. Plus I woke up at night with palpitations, probably related to the nitrates. But now I am sounding like a tool so I will shuddup about that.

I tried a bit of pattern-mixing in my work outfit on Friday. Behold:

All of the clothing is stuff I have had for a while - the frock is very old concession Leona Edmiston ($70 bucks, but never fails to get compliments and washes up beautifully), the cardie is Witchery, the scarf was gifted and the boots are circa-2009. The toilets are my work building, circa-1960.

And a closer look at the pattern mixing, and my chins.

Friday was a tough day. It was, as somebody said, Fuckwit Friday. Fraught with frustration.
I found myself at various times about to lose my cool, but held it together. I always feel bad for getting angry, and find it might come out in my voice, but a lovely colleague said that I held up admirably. That was good of her to say and made me feel better. Though these situations, plus being busy and a bit tired, certainly bring up the aggro factor.

Hence, when I got home on Friday, I was very tempted to go "fuckit, I want a pizza, then I want a bottle of wine, and screw driving across town to visit my brother".

(ie doing the very thing that I had told my patients not to do in clinic a few hours earlier.)

I thought "NO, I am going to LOOK AFTER MYSELF!" A bigger and better act of defiance against the world, don't you think?

I had some mexe beans with capsicum and salsa and corn, and ate them with some oven-baked corn tortillas. Kind of like healthy nachos.

Go. Me.

On Saturday, I had a facial, which was part of a birthday present. It was lovely, and my skin really did look and feel nice after. They slopped on some off-milk and shone some special light or some such on it. It is something I need to do more often, being on the downhill side of thirty and all. Part of LOOKING AFTER MYSELF.  The fella and I then made a trip to the city to wander about, and have a nice dinner at geriatric hour. However, on arriving at the Meatball and Wine Bar in the city we were told that the wait would be an hour. I got distressed at that point. But, always clear thinking, I bundled us in a cab to Collingwood and made an emergency call to Josie Bones. Luckily, they had one table of two left, which I promptly nabbed. The Porkstravaganza of Thursday evening extended into Saturday evening.

I have been to JB a few times, it is always popular with people of the man-variety, so I figured the fella would like it. The menu is based around beer and meat. There are vegetables and wine too, if one is so-inclined. The beer menu is encyclopedic. There is something for everybody there, even me. They have a little counter on their wall which, Julia tells me, is the number of people who they have managed to convert to beer drinkers. (Not, as I guessed, the number of dumbass references to Masterchef the owners Chris and Julia get).

Behold, some pork crackling. And other deep fried deliciousness. Behind is a meat cutter thingy. This photo contains approximately 500 grams of saturated fat. Just looking at it can clog your arteries. But YOLO, right?

And here is some beer that I liked. The first one is a Belgian Raspberry Lambic. Kind of like a tart raspberry cordial, for grown ups. It went down a treat. The second one is an apple beer - the front part of the taste was apple-y, and the second part was a very beery, hoppy, fragrant taste. It was very yummy, and will have to get my mitts on some.

We ate the rolled pigs head, some confit chicken, some vegetables and some cheese to finish. No sweeties.

Sunday was a quieter day. I had to do some work, making amendments to a paper which is due today. Yes. I know. Distasteful.

I have been quite good, food wise, during the week, and this is starting to show up on the scales, which is good.  The weekend is where I like to let my hair down a bit, but the next goal is not to be a complete glutton. Just a little bit of one. Contained gluttony.

I am already looking forward to Friday.

On another, more navel-gazing note, a couple of years back, I never used to look forward to weekends. Mostly because I was bored shitless. We would never do anything.

Then, when I separated from my ex, I jammed my weekends with stuff. Mostly because I was like a puppy being let out of a laundry, doing happy laps, but also because I was scared to be still. Scared of what stuff might pop into my mind.

In the end, I had to find a balance between doing cool stuff and relaxing. Both are important.

I hope you all had an interesting, but still relaxing, weekend.

Also, what is your favourite drink?

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Stop Press - The Nina Skirt.

In honour of Offspring starting this evening, I have made an internet impulse purchase.
(Bad Cilla. Bad, Bad Cilla).


It is the Binny maxi skirt which will be worn by Nina. 
It is not cheap (as Faux Fuschia would say, it is 'spensive) But I'll get a lot of wear out of it, and it will go with many things.

I had better get back to work.

Have a good night tonight, enjoy your Offspring!

ADD: I should really just go around saying "I am gonna buy some really expensive clothes". Because whenever I say I am not gonna buy stuff I just buy stuff. 
Reverse Psychology.
Or whatevs.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Tuesday, which feels like Monday.

Well hello my lovelies.

I had myself a little procedure yesterday (no, not the type of procedure that my colleague had). I had a gastroscopy/colonoscopy. I am a little knocked around, mostly from the bowel preparation. I spent most of Sunday Evening and Monday Morning on the Loo. Could've done with one of these (this was one of the gazillion discount deal emails I get sent daily)

Though I am not really partial to golf.

Apparently, after the procedure, while I was still half out of it, the anaesthetist came to see me, and I asked him about my blood pressure and pulse during the procudure. He told me my blood pressure was fine but my pulse went down to 45. I told him that I have run a marathon. He probably thought I was bullshitting, (but I'm not). I don't remember any of this, the nurse relayed it to me after.

When I woke up properly in the recovery, I tried to be helpful - I pointed out to the nurses the lady across from me who looked a bit poorly (in pain, shivering). That is me; always looking out for others. :D I also helped the nurses by partially taking down my IV site dressing to save them some work. I am all about efficiency. Plus I was in a hurry to get out of there.

Everything was fine, you will be glad to know.

Luckily the lovely fella was on hand to look after me. He bought me some medicinal and restorative jelly snakes, picked me up from the hospital, fetched me some dinner then made an ice-cream run (medicinal and restorative icecream).

God love him.

I am back to work today - feeling still a bit tired and peaky from yesterday's adventures, but I am nothing if not tough and I have soldiered on.

On the weekend the fella and I went out with a group to Itali.Co which claims to have the best Pizza in Melbourne.

This is a big call. Unfortunately it is wrong. The nutella and strawberry dessert pizza deserves an honourable mention, because who could not love that, but it has been done before.

400 (Quattrocento) Gradi and Pizza Meine Liebe have the best pizza in Melbourne. I Carusi deserves an honourable mention.

Today is a real getting back into it day. Tomorrow will be exciting, as Offspring is on. I have been HANGING OUT for Offspring to come back on, and to covet the couture (the correct terminology is boho-luxe). I am going around to my gf Y's place, and we will have dinner, as has been our Wednesday night tradition for the past 2 seasons.

I have a major girl-crush on the luminous Asher Keddie. Here is a painting that her fella painted of her, which won the People's Choice award in the Archibald Prize Exhibition. I love Vincent Fantauzzo, he has a beautiful, almost hyper-real painting style. It captures Asher really well, I love how her hair dances in the wind and the light jumps off her collar bones.

Anyway, enough drooling over Asher for the moment. I am hoping Nikki at Styling You will do another "So you want to dress like Nina Proudman" series.

Though I don't need any more clothes. Holiday plans are afoot, and I need the cashola. I am heading to Seoul for a conference and making a little side-trip to Hong Kong to see a friend.

More about that after.

I hope you have a good week!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Body Image - what's mine is not yours (and vice versa)

I think most of us women have battled with body image to some degree.

We are bombarded with pictures of perfection.

Advertisements assume that we all want to lose weight, or have a flat tummy, or have a smaller butt or thighs. Everywhere, a miracle cure for our inadequacy (and an underlying assumption that we are inadequate). It takes a conscious effort not to buy into it.

The fat-shaming is loud and proud and in the guise of care and concern. Take a rich, wealthy, good looking personal trainer, a bunch of obese people, have the former scream abuse at the latter, then have the fat people get thinner and all their problems vanish. Cue halo for the trainers. Another poor fatty saved.

Against that is the scream of "you are perfect as you are", "accept yourself", "you can be healthy at any size", "be proud", "be happy".

It's all a very confusing. Both, at extremes, can be just as dangerous.

It is hard to have a good strong sense of your own worth, to feel attractive, and at the same time, to have a good insight into your own limitations, or where you might actually need to improve. Some might say that these are incompatible.

For example, I have been a few kilos overweight for all of my adult life. My BMI has ranged from between 26-29. It is probably at the higher end of that now.

I have a good insight into what health issues a certain weight may or may not cause me, as I do research into obesity.

I know that older people in the overweight range live longer than those who are underweight or obese,  and don't seem to have as many of the health problems as those at higher weights. This is good news for me.

However, I am painfully aware that I have started to carry a bit of extra weight around my middle. It puts pressure upwards onto my gullet, worsening my reflux. I know a few kilos off can help me. It might help the tightness in my hips and back.

I used to obsess constantly over food, and my weight. I deferred pleasures and promises to myself until I got to a magic weight. I used to think I was unattractive. I had binge-eating disorder (mild, but still there).

Through a couple of bouts of depression, lots of therapy, and a big 180 in my life, I have come to an acceptance of my body. That my bum and thighs might never accommodate those designer jeans (I'm talking about you, Ms Sass and Ms Bide...). That I will never be whip-thin. And I have gotten to a point where, sometimes, if I am feeling particularly confident, I strut about like Miranda Kerr.

I am happiest when I make the best of what I have, rather than wishing for something entirely different.

I am strong and I have run a marathon. My body is functional. It has great potential for experiencing pleasure and giving others pleasure. Hopefully, in the future, it will be able to support a little life within. With all of these wonders, wearing a pair of overpriced jeans seems a bit silly.

Not only do I understand this intellectually, most of the time, I have these beliefs internally.

I try to reconcile this with the need, as I alluded to above, to change a few things. To make myself a bit healthier and less symptomatic.  I can now set about making these changes out of a sense of self-love and care, rather than trying to punish myself.

It's a good place to be. It's been a long time coming.

I met with a junior colleague yesterday (who does not read this blog), as I am helping her with some research. At first I did not notice anything different about her, but then she apologised for some faint bruising about her lips.

She said "I've had a little procedure done". She had had fat from her tummy injected into her face, everting her lips, giving her a trout-pout.

Now, this girl is gorgeous. Like textbook, unambiguously gorgeous - slim, well proportioned figure, neither too tall nor too short, blonde hair, big blue eyes, pillowy lips. Envy from the women, dropped jaws from the men. Even if blonde, blue eyed, slim and evenly featured is not your cuppa tea, most would agree that this lady is a looker.

She went on to explain that she had taken some time off work to get a bit of work done. She has spent all of her hard-earned savings (many thousands of dollars) employing the best cosmetic surgeon in the state to buff her up like a prestige car. She has had work on her face, her nose and her thighs, and probably other places but she wouldn't tell me. Not only has she spent the bucks, but she has had quite significant complications.

I initially said to her "but sweetie, you are gorgeous, you didn't need it", but then I promptly shut my trap - I just didn't know what minefield of issues I might be bombasting my way through with my assumptions. So I just nodded and smiled and looked appropriately sympathetic.

I thought about her quite a bit. Who is anybody to judge her? It's her money, she should be able to do what she wants with it. Et cetera.

I thought about whether I would have plastic surgery. There are a few things I would have done - a bit of lipo, a pin back of the ears (one is a bit more sticky-outy than another), perhaps something on the boobs. The things I have are things that people commonly get work done for. The things that stop me are the cost and the potential for complications.

More than that, though, these things are annoying, but don't take up enough of my thought to go and see a plastic surgeon and pay out all the money and go under the knife. I would rather spend the money on a holiday. Really, I would.

I wonder what would possess such a beautiful, clever woman to make these changes. Can she not see what the world sees? Was she so dissatisfied? Does somebody necessarily need to be that bothered by their looks to get this done?

We all make changes to ourselves - a wax, a haircut, even a diet, and it does not necessarily mean we are insecure. Is her surgery the equivalent to her of my upkeep? Does it necessarily mean she has a significant body image issue? Who am I to say that she cannot improve herself, that she must be happy and satisfied with what she has if she has the means to change it?

If I am to be completely honest, yes, I do think the surgery she had was borne out of insecurity rather than acceptance and love plus an "honest" need for change (whatever an honest need is)... I don't see how she could feel the need otherwise. But yes, I accept that I am not her and I can't say what is right for her.

I just hope that she is happy with the results, and that is the end. I hope she is healthy.

I hope that every person who reads this accepts themselves, and plans changes to themselves out of a sense of love and care.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Emergency Chocolate Cake.

You should keep all the ingredients in your pantry for emergencies.
If you don't, you should take a long, hard look at yourself.
It is dead easy and absolutely scrumptious. No separating eggs.

200g dark cooking chocolate (good quality)
200g unsalted butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbs rum or grog of your choice
3tbs ground almonds
1tbs plain flour
1 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Melt butter and choc.
Add rum and mix.
Add eggs and mix
Add dry ingredients and mix 
Put in cake tin lined with baking powder
Bake for 20 minutes
Allow to cool
Apply to face
You're welcome.
Here is photo.
Piece is missing.
I didn't do it (actually I did). 


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Weather and Wins.

The weather here in Melbourne is cray-cray (I love that expression). A couple of weeks ago, it was summery. Like 27 degrees. I was wearing a sleeveless frock. Then BOOM. Winter.

Seriously! We are meant to have autumn to segway us from summer to winter. After an unusually long summer, with temperatures in the 30s until mid-march, and some glorious days after that, we are straight into winter, complete with hail, thunder, wind and temperatures in the low-teens.

In my thin wool cardie yesterday, I was shivering.


The sky today looks grey, leaden and angry. Yesterday, as the bad weather moved in, the sky was a mix of blue and cloud. Here is a cloud-specimen. It is a lovely cloud. Look:

But I am thoroughly a glass half-full kinda gal. This kind of weather is good for
  • slow cooking
  • wearing boots
  • wearing wooly things
  • wearing scarves
  • wearing leather jackets
  • bold lip colour
  • going to bed early and schnuggling with my (very handsome) fella
  • having the heater on full-ball and warming the tootsies.
  • eating mandareenies to ward off colds (scientifically, that is crap. Avoiding colds is all about hand hygiene. Trust me.)
  • drinking red wine in front of a fire. 
  • Planning holidays to warmer locales.
I have had a few wins recently. Important to bask in the glory of small wins.

Yesterday, I had a 4km time trial at running group. The weather was crap, but the worst of the rain held off. I started back running training 6 weeks ago, and had a 4KTT then. In 6 weeks, my time had improved by 54 seconds. WIN. I am not about to break any land-speed world records but it is a WIN.

On Tuesday night, the fella bought around a bottle of red wine. It was a variety I had not tasted, dolcetto and langleis or some such. I initially moaned, saying "you KNOW I am trying to avoid wine during the week" but then I thought, well, nobody is forcing me to drink the stuff. So I had a mouthful to have a try, then took no more. WIN.

On a similar note, yesterday I knocked back post-lunch-dessert, of the warm brownie and icecream variety. Will save the yummies for the weekend. WIN.

Got a journal article manuscript back from the reviewers. Their comments were positive, and only minor changes need to be made before it can be published. To borrow the phrase from Smaggle, I have a writer-boner. It is great not to have my hard work trashed by a reviewer. WIN.

I have booked some leave the week before my conference. That means I go on leave in a month. In a month I am OUTTA HERE. WIN.

Have a great day. Stay at a comfortable temperature. Hope the wins come to you.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Thoughts on Adversity.

I was watching Australian Story last night. It was on track- cyclist Anna Meares.
In January of 2008, she came off her bike and fractured her C2 vertebra (in English - very high up in the neck). Had that interrupted her spinal cord, she would have been rendered a ventilator-dependent quadruplegic. That is pretty dire.

She trained her guts out and qualified for the Beijing Olympics, held in August 2008, in which she won Silver, against world No1 Victoria Pendleton. She started training before her fracture healed, so another fall could have paralysed her.

In the 4 years after that, she trained and plotted. Victoria was the one to beat, and she made a game-plan to beat her. She became stronger but learned how to exploit some of Victoria's weaknesses.

And, in London, as you know, she lost to Victoria in the Kirin, but took gold in the sprint.

Victoria has retired, but Anna wants to go to Rio. Incidentally I want to go to the Rio Olympics too, just to watch.

Anna's story really resonated with me, and I had to think a bit to figure out why.

It was the concept of adversity that struck a chord.

You see, when things are crappy all the time, they grind you down, and can make you weak. Then you can hit rock bottom.

Or things can be going along well and the BAM something bad can happen. You survive but things have changed dramatically.

When you hit rock bottom, or the shit hits the fan in a spectacular fashion, something can happen.

That  little downtrodden, brutalised nub of spirit inside of you can scream "NO. I WILL NOT LET THIS DEFINE ME".

When that happens, it is like an animal is unleashed. An animal that is prepared to fight.

To survive. To conquer. To excel and dominate.

And then you look for ways, any way at all, to do what you need to do. And you work towards it and let nothing stop you.

That's what has motivated me in my life. A few times.

Go the nub!


WARNING: Toilet Humour.

I have had a few symptoms that, while probably not dire in origin, I ought not ignore. Hence I wrote myself a referral to a surgeon to get them checked out.

I went there today. During potential thesis writing time. Practicing what I bloody well preach....

10 minutes with the Surgeon, no hand laid on me at all (in fact, very little eye contact), and bada boom bada bing "you need a colonoscopy and while you are under we may as well do a gastroscopy too, how is next Monday?"

"Uh, yeah.....I might need to see some of my own patients.....uhhh, probably can't. Nope, can't. Might have to shuffle them round.... yeah...."

Not long after that, out the door, my wallet being a great deal lighter. You may think that it is a bit rich that a doctor complains about another doctors fees, but the thought of lining the surgeon's pockets and keeping his kids in private school and him driving the latest prestige vehicle just gives me the warm fuzzies. What can I say?

Gastroscopy (camera down gob into gullet, stomach and first bit of small intestine) is a pretty straightforward matter. Fast, needle, asleep, awake 10 minutes later. I've had a couple before.

Colonoscopy - not so much. Why? You need to clear the colon out. Press ctrl-alt-delete on the bowel. Done with the aid of some industrial-strength laxative. Otherwise known in the biz as the bowel prep.

I have done this once before. It was rough stuff. Evil.
I once went to India and Nepal. I had stomach issues that were similar to the bowel prep. It was super-sonic shit. Pooping through the space-time continuum.

Not something that you want while working, obviously.

And after that a further outflow of cash.... money I had quarantined for holidays, up my bum. Literally.


Oh well - I am lucky to get it done quickly and get it out of the way, and any problem diagnosed. It is good that I have quick access to it.

The gastroscopy is being done because I am having a lot of reflux symptoms, despite medication. I realised as I was speaking to the surgeon that losing a bit off my tummy might help with the reflux. Not a particularly revolutionary realisation, but I suppose it strengthened my resolve about something I have had in the back or forefront of my mind for quite a number of years.

You see, I have a wine-belly-baby.
I need to work on this.
I need to really, really reconsider most of the extras that go into my mouth. Especially the wine.
Again, to practice what I preach.
And that might be a good segway into a body image post - one that I have been thinking up for a while.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Week in a wink.

I know I know I have been slackola with le blog.

My excuse (and I don't believe in excuses but here it is): the last 7 consecutive days (Sun to Sat) I have been at work/conferences.

So apart from eating and running and catching up with the fella I've not had time to do a great deal. I've not even gone to the pool.

This week is shaping up to be a bit less feral so I will get into it. Plus make some headway on the thesis.

Some things that have been happening:

  • I have alluded to a slight positive change in my financial circumstances. Given that paperwork has been signed, and a start date has been posited, I can say that I have been offered a Scholarship that is a fair bit more generous than my previous one. Hence, I will have a bit more money. Which is good, because holiday planning is afoot. Plus it is a nice thing to gussy up the CV.
  • I am getting better with my running. I love running group. I run with a fantastic group of girls and our new coach is fantastic. He pushes us hard but in a non-demeaning way. He makes us feel good about ourselves, which is important when you are puffing around a park in the dark. I find that the only way I reliably go for exercise if I make time for it and pay the not-insignificant fees for the training upfront. I am much less likely to slack off if it is scheduled and pre-paid.
  • It is a good thing I am getting better with the running, as I have been eating quite well of late. When I say well I mean nice food in generous amounts. 
  • A group of us went out for dinner at B'Stilla last night - great company, great food and great wine. I drank a mataro, which I picked for a group of us. Usually these grapes are blended with Grenache or Shiraz, but this vino sang on its own, and what a lovely melody it sang. Like a pinot, but with a bit more guts, and quite fragrant too. The food was lovely, we ate the eponymous B'Stilla (a pigeon and duck pie which is very tasty) plus lots more. The group that I went out with was a group called Melbourne Dining Out, organised on It was eating out with this group that I met the fella.
  • I went out with the family for Mother's day. We ate at Tramway hotel, which does a fantastic line in burgers (beef, chicken, lamb, quinoa and fish) and serves up probably the best chips in Melbourne. The family loved it. Dessert there was salted caramel cheesecake. Yes, I kid you not. After lunch I napped then caught up with a friend for dinner.
  • I got a haircut! A bit shorter, a bit more red. Very sassy. The results are up on instagram (@cillajean79)
  • I actioned a fantastic pumpkin soup - 1 butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut up and roasted with an onion and 3 cloves of garlic. Meanwhile, boil a peeled and diced potato in some chicken stock. Pop the roasted ingredients into the stock, Whizz up with a stick blender, add about 150 mL low fat cream and whizz up some more. Serve. I did not get photos because me and the fella nommed it before it got a chance to be photographed. 
  • I think I need to be a bit more proactive with meal planning and shopping, so that I can bring lunch in more reliably. In other news I am thinking of investing in a thermomix. There is very little they can't do.
Anyway I have a few posts in the offing soon, including a post about one of my favourite tv series. Bear with me!

And have a lovely week.

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Waiting Womb.

I have had this post brewing in my head for a little while. It says in my "about me" pic that I am an aspiring mother. This post will elaborate on it a bit.

As I have alluded to, I was married. I got together with him at 19, having never been in a serious relationship before. We were married when I was 25. 2 years ago, when I was 32, I got divorced.

Having been married for nearly 7 years the pressure was on us to have children. During the painful but necessary marriage counselling that we had, I found out that he had a lot of resentment towards me, because we had not had children. He pined for a child. We never discussed this in a lot of depth during the time, so finding this out was surprising, and explained a lot of what occured in the latter part of our marriage.

To be clear, having children was always on my agenda. But first, there was medical school. Then being a junior doctor leaves very little time for anything else. Then add study for specialist exams to this. Add a couple of bouts of depression to the mix.

Also, at the back of my mind, I had increasing doubts about his usefulness as a potential dad - insofar as I could not even get him to pay attention to me. I could not get him home from work. This I shared with him in marriage counselling. He stays away because he is resentful. You can see what a vicious cycle this would have caused, I know that now.

All of that considered, though, we weren't acutally that compatible. We were/are 2 good people, but not that good for each other. Our personalities and ways we react to things are completely difficult and increasingly at odds during our relationship. It eventually got to the point where I dreaded spending the next 30 years with him, and I had to get out. He was very upset and wanted to get back together, initially, but after a 3 months of separation he started going out with his female friend. I have heard he is happy, and I am happy that he is happy (really I am).

A lot of the people close to me did not agree with what I was doing. There were many things said to me that I had to deal with. One of the most difficult things was "you will never meet another person as good as him" and "you will never get to have children".

This played on one of my deepest fears. Fear of being alone. I had to face that fear headfirst. I knew deep down that fear is not the right reason to stay in a relationship. A common reason, but not right. I knew that having children in that relationship would have been a disaster.

From very soon after the separation, till about 14 months after, I put a lot of energy into trying to find a new relationship. Mostly to offset my loneliness, but, in one's thirties, there are biological imperatives.

I met lots of nice people, and some complete fuckwads (there's my favourite word). I met a man who had a couple of kids. His wife died very young of breast cancer. The warning signs were there; he had not really been single for any length of time since his wife died. I quite liked him. I asked him if he wanted more kids - he said yes, if he met the right person. That was ok by me, but later he told me he'd had the snip, but no worries, it could be reversed. Then, after a fairly short but intense period, and the very same day he told me that things felt very right with me, he said "I don't want more kids". I never saw him again. That happened  a year ago to this day.

That was painful, but it made me have good hard think about what I wanted. I did want to have kids, or a kid. I wanted them in a functioning, honest relationship. Not long after that, on Mother's day last year, I acutely felt the first tick of my biological clock.

I went through a bit of a rough time after that, no marathon training to keep me from acting in a feral manner. Meanwhile, though, I was trying to make peace with my future. If the relationship/children thing did not work out, there would be other things I could offer the world. I tried to relax.

And as you might have read, the moment I relaxed, I met my lovely fella.

After previous experiences, I told him right upfront: "if you don't want children, you need to tell me now". He is a bit older than me, no children, and I was scared that he didn't want them.

We have revisited this discussion a few times. Well, I have. Just to make sure. Because, increasingly, I am getting clucky. I just want a little bubba to hold. One of my own.

Perhaps it is because this relationship feels good and right.

Perhaps it is because I am much more emotionally ready to have children. This is because (through tens of thousands of dollars worth of therapy) I am now able to attend to my own emotional needs; I am in a much better position to give to a child.

Much of it, I think, is biology. "It's not logical, it's hormones" a work colleague said to me.I would be inclined to agree.

Over the last year or so, there has not been a week go by without one of my friends, or somebody I know, telling me that they are pregnant. Or I find out on facebook. I am not exaggerating.

Just before Christmas, I found out that my ex and his new partner were expecting, they are due at the end of this month. I was with the fella in New Zealand, about to meet his family. I had a little cry in the airport toilets (that was where we were when I heard). The fella was so good about it. I was so glad I was with him in New Zealand.

I am happy for every person that tells me they are pregnant. I fully and wholeheartedly share in their joy.

But I can't deny that it is becoming a bit wearing. I wonder when it will be my turn. This may seem a bit weird to people reading, I am in a good relationship. There is no reason why I should have problems (other than that my age is slowly creeping up). Yet the talk of poor fertility all around scares me.

Part of it is a bit of a desire to escape the grind of work, and the PhD. To do something different. Again, sounds weird, right?

And I know that no good will come if I push things before they are ready (no pun intended). It is quite early in our relationship. We need to move in together first. I need to get a bit more done of my studies, ideally.
I try really hard to be happy in the present. It always helps, though,  for me to be a bit mindful of what is going on in my own head.

Thanks for reading.

Stuff I like that other people have trouble liking. And stuff that I don't like that other people do.

I like most things. Most foods. Most people. I am generally quite agreeable. I am sure I will have a rant on this blog about things I don't like. Tony Abbott (strictly speaking a person, not a thing) is one that gets me ranting.

Anyways here is a list of stuff I like that you might think strange.

1. Brussels sprouts
My beloved (now deceased) nanna used to serve these up. She boiled the bejeezus out of them. They were yummy cos everything nanna turned out was. It was the love with which they were made, I think. Nowadays, I sautee them with butter, then lemon juice, add some flaked almonds or pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper. Can't do any better than that.

This little girl's mum had clearly not tried my recipe.

2. Parsnips - I just generally like root vegetables. Beetroot too. I like controversial Vegetables. Peas are awesome.

3. Julia Gillard
Ok bear with me on this one (or I might be preaching to the converted, I dunno....)
  • she is the member for Lalor - Werribee - where I grew up. She lives in Altona. Go the wezza sheilas!
  • Though much less liked by the electorate than Kevin Rudd, Ruddy wasn't very good at playing nicely with the other children - he was a bloody nightmare to work with, by all accounts. JG is far more respectful to her colleagues.
  • Some arguably very good things have been done during her tenure - Carbon tax, NDIS, Mining Tax (could be expanded but still...), Apology to mothers forced to adopt their children, hopefully the NBN will get up. Admittedly a lot of these things have been done at the behest of the Greens. Still, she has got a lot done as head of a minority government, with a lot of hostility from within and without her party. 
  • [Yes there is a lot of stuff that could be improved, I agree - but I don't mind her, that is all I am saying]
    Painting in Bald Archies, JG posed as a lady of the night. A "bit" tongue in cheek.

4. Tinned corn/spaghetti
What is not to love? Taste of my childhood. 

5. Indie Music
I started listening to triple J a few years ago, almost on a whim. I have never looked back. I have learned the wonder of Flume, Bertie Blackman. Other artists like Gotye, Florence Welch and Cee-Lo Green were on JJJ long before they appeared on commercial radio.

6. The F-bomb.
Yes, call me uncouth. But sometimes I love to cuss. Only in appropriate company; the closest people to me have the same potty-mouth that I do.
I marvel at the versatility of the F word - it can be used as a noun, a verb and an adjective. It can be used multiple times in a sentence.
It can be used to express delight (f@#king awesome), frustration (f@#k!!) or anger. To commisserate (that's F@#ked mate) or deride (f@#kwit).

Don't have a lot of time for:
1. The Voice - couldn't get into this. Delta is corny. Rather hear her sing than talk. Delta very pretty though, see:

2. Downton Abbey - didn't get into it. Perhaps I should? I prefer NCIS. Great ensemble drama, although couture not as good as DA I'll admit.

3. Miso Soup - a lot of people are mad for it but I can't deal with it. It repeats on me.

4. Commercial pop - Can't go back after JJJ. No lyrics, no musicality.

5. Womens magazines - meant to be supportive of women, but actually insidiously undermining them a lot of them. And the rest of the articles are very boring. Give me a blog, or pinterest any day. I can get all the interesting info from interesting people for free.

6. Other swear words - Bitch and Slut. I am very comfortable with the F-bomb but not with these two. I had a think about this a little while ago - perhaps it is because they are aimed at degrading women particularly. The F word is unisex. I am all for equality.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Some outfits. Some thoughts.

Hey there, I hope everyone had a good weekend.

I was a bit under the weather on Saturday - it's a long story (no not morning sickness), but am better now. I took it easy on Saturday as I had a big day on Sunday - road trip with the Prof to present some of my work to the other big cheeses.

I think the big cheeses liked it. Apart from one particularly curmudgeonly one. He gives everybody else a hard time. Luckily the other big cheeses dish it back as good as they get it.

Here I would like to present some outfits I have worn... (please disregard sinks - it is the only full length mirror in the building)

1. The rather controversial peg-leg pant
Pants - Asos
Wrap around Cardie - Witchery - 10 years ago
Beads - Country Road - 7 years ago.
Ankle boots - Clarks 4 years ago.

I have to say I am not entirely sure about these pants. They certainly are comfy I will give them that. They are made of a jersey material. Perhaps I need a pair in a stiffer material.

2. Channelling Nina Proudman.

This is my take on the look. Like my sassy pose?
Gratuitous Scarf close up.
Denim Jacket - Esprit - last year
Dress - Sussan - 2 years ago
Ankle boots - seen in previous post
Scarf - Mimco - Saturday (YES I said I was going to be frugal, YES I was, but the fella bought it for me. Cos he wanted to. I graciously said yes, he could)

In anticipation of Offspring being back soon (have already pencilled in a Lady-date in front of the telly with my friend Y) I am style-jacking Nina Proudman. Cept she doesn't wear black much. But she certainly does the denim jacket over maxi skirt thing. And she has a team of stylists perfecting her look, and her couture budget is a bit more generous than mine. I just have my own resources.

I love this scarf, yellow is so cheerful. Yellow and blue are a very cheerful colour combination, made popular some years ago by Vincent van Gogh, who was decidedly cheerless in himself. All that ear cutting off stuff, I tell you..

This denim jacket was a great buy - it is a fantastic fitted rather than boxy cut. I don't do boxy. It makes me look like, well, a box.

You know how I was talking about money recently? How I had decided to embrace frugality? (For instance I cut some runner insoles down and put them into a pair of uncomfy shoes to make them comfy rather than buying a new pair, I know, yeah, revolutionary).

I had a call on Friday afternoon. My financial situation may be changing, for the better.... will not give away too much now, we shall see how it all goes - will believe it when the first payment is in my account. For the moment, Frugal is the Watchword round these here parts.

I am developing a theory.

It goes a little something like this.

If you are longing for things to be different, change them - this takes guts and sometimes ruffles other's feathers. They will get over it. Or not.
Find a place where you are happy. It may not be perfect but it should be "yeah, I am doing fine".
Embrace the circumstances. Make the best of them.
This is the time when nice things tend to occur.

Me - spent months longing for a fella to sweep me off my feet. Then actively made decision to stop longing for things like this, they seemed so hard to come by. Then - whoosh- fella.

Nanna had a plaque thingy she had on her mantelpiece (I miss nanna). It said "things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out". True, dat. Some things just cannot be sugar coated, and are just crap, but most stuff is eminently bearable and potentially, with the right attitude, enjoyable.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Frugal Fancy Food - Minestrone

I love food.
I love cooking.
I don't let the fact that I live alone discourage me from cooking. I only wish I had a dishwasher in my flat. When the fella comes over for food, he is the dishwasher. He is better at washing dishes than I.
Cooking is one of my things. Dishwashing is not.

I enjoy the challenge of making run of the mill, economical food into something amazing and healthy and yummy. And filling.

I have been wanting to action a soup since the weather went cooler, but I wanted something very, very tasty.

I am proud to say that this minestrone is pretty freaking awesome. Instead of bacon (too salty and a bit bland) or pork hock (a bit more expensive and hard to get my mitts on), I used italian pork sausages, which were lurking in my freezer.

My recipe:

  • 4 good quality pork sausages, casings removed. I used the spicy sausages and they made the soup hum nicely.
  • 1 440g tin borlotti beans (you can use cannellini if you prefer)
  • 1/2 litre of beef stock (that was all I had hanging around and it made the soup lovely and rich)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic/2tsp crushed garlic.
  • Diced Vegetables - 1 zucchini, 2 stalks celery, 1-2 carrots, Parsnip. I got my mitts on some freshly chopped vegetables at my greengrocer - they were discounted as they had been sitting around a bit - $2.50 as opposed to $6. WIN.
  • 2 potatoes, unpeeled, diced. You could substitute some pasta here but put it in in the end so it doesn't go mushy.
  • Some leafy greens - very nutritious but very tastless on their own. You could use silverbeet or chard. I used a bag of baby spinach that I had in the bottom of my fridge that was on its way out.
  • Oregano, 1-2 teaspoons
  • Fennel seeds- 1 teaspoon - goes well with the pork.
  • Water, added to correct consistency and make "soupy" rather than "saucy".
  • Salt (I had some mushroom flavoured salt hanging about so I added that, It made the flavour even deeper)
  • Sugar - 2-3 teaspoons - adds well to the spiciness of the sausages, and brings out the sweetness of the tomato.
In a heavy based pot, fry the onions and garlic in a generous glug of olive oil till glossy. Add the sausage innards and fry till browned.
Add some more olive oil and then add the rest of the veggies apart from the spinach. Pop the lid on and let them sweat for a little while.
Add the beans, tomatoes and stock, plus some water. Add the greens and herbs and salt and sugar. Bring to boil, let reduce a little, simmer for about 1/2 hour. Ensure veggies are tender. 
Serve with some parmesan cheese and some bread. But really this is so filling that you don't actually need the bread. Any excuse for sourdough, though, right?

This makes about 5-6 generous serves. It is gosh-darned tasty, if I don't say so myself. It is so nutritious I am glowing like I have just been for a run or done some mattress aerobics. I have popped some in the freezer to enjoy later.

It works out to about 2-3 bucks a serve, depending on how cheaply you can source the sausages. But given that these are the hero in this dish, if you can, go for quality.

Here is some minestrone porn:

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Setting my intentions for May.

It's a day late but I have been thinking about this for a while.

These are goals that I like
  • short-medium term
  • concrete
  • with an end date
  • achievable
  • with maybe a reward at the end
In the past, my goal was always to "lose weight", never with a sustainable plan or a "how to", and never with an end date. I would be chronically disappointed in myself. All my other goals, like my medical training, were long term and a bit of a slog.

I am going away to Seoul for a conference on June the 21st. So the goal can encompass both months up till June 21. Then I can toast myself at the airport.

My goals are:
1. Go to Korea with no/ minimal credit card debt (less than $200).
How I will do this:
  • The end of April was decidedly un-frugal, with a bit of spending in Sydney. I bought me some pretties - look:
    Pullover from Cue.
    and this:
    knit Tunic from Veronika Maine.
They look great on, but cost a bit. Plus the trip itself, I paid for.
My problem is that, this year, expenses are up and income is down. Though I must emphasise I am not struggling for cash, I do have to watch it a little more closely this year. I grew up with a single mum, and lived out of home on $300 per fortnight (a good 10 years ago, but still) so I know what it is to struggle for cash, in fact, this motivated me to get into a good profession. 
But I digress.
I have to put a lid on the discretionary spending, as I have some nice and not-so-nice but necessary big things I have to pay for.
Here is where I can happily cut back:
  • no more new clothes/shoes. Seriously. I have enough of them. 
  • no buying tickets to expensive gigs/ concerts/ fun runs - with the exception being the Sri Chinmoy race on may 26th. That is cheap and they have pancakes afterwards. Win-win.
  • try to bring lunch to work every day. Or if I forget, making it a cheap meal (simple sandwich) or one I can pick up on the way to work from the supermarket. It is quite easy to spend about $13 on lunch, including a drink. That is $65 per week.
  • Cook at home when I am at home, and using up what is in my cupboard. Planning meals. Buying cheap, seasonal fresh produce.
  • Spend a night in, watching a movie on Fetch-TV. They are usually about $5 or $6 - far cheaper than a movie out. Plus nobody yabbering or kicking the back of your seat.
 2. Get Chapters 1 and 2 of the Thesis written.
I am doing a PhD, this takes up most of my working week. I work for actual money 0.3FTE. I need to be a bit more disciplined (ie not piss about on the internet). But if I give myself an end-date for this, I can get it done. I can get on the plane happy.

3. Go for a swim once a week.
I love swimming - it is so relaxing and helps with my sore back +++. It soothes my sore muscles from running. This is a nice goal. I can do this.

4. Get to bed for 10:30 when I am at home and not doing anything. Perhaps even earlier.
I am one of those folks who needs my sleep - 5 hours doesn't cut it for me. Plus it's getting cold and my bed is warm.

I think that'll do.
I shall check in at the end of this month and then before I go off to Korea.

Anything you'd like to do this month?