Monday, 27 June 2011

Maternity Leave

I think I’ve mentioned my shamefully short maternity leaves before. For the first one, I decided to work up to my due date as the doctor had said being posterior, I’d probably be 2 weeks over due and need to be induced. However the week before my due date, I was starting to feel like crap, so thought a 3 week rest before mightn’t be a bad idea. We went to lunch at Di Stasio’s on my last Friday – another lovely Melbourne restaurant - and then back to the agency for a desk tidy before my farewell drinks (Diet Coke for me) and the presentation of a cane basket of baby gifts. I got home around 9pm, still felt a bit crappy, had a bath, went into labour, went to hospital around midnight and gave birth at 2am. As mentioned last week, it was a long weekend, so some colleagues apparently wondered why I wasn’t back on the Tuesday... clearly no-one who's actually given birth....

After 3 months, as planned, I was back at work.

For the second one, I did work up to my due date, but still no baby. I had a dull week at home before finally having Jazzy-angel. The house was being re-stumped and renovated and we spentmonths at home before she went to crèche and I went back to work.

Third time around, the first was starting school, so I finished at Christmas. (I had to really, it was pointed out that the buttons on my maternity jacket were straining and threatening to take out an eye – I pointed out that was as big as they came. I was running out of office wear options….). She was born 2 weeks later in January and I went back after first term holidays.

The fourth is also a January baby so similar to number three. As the other kids were all at school, I thought this leave would be great. I was cooking Indian curries and baking and experimenting with all kinds of dinners. The kids were begging me to go back to work – they liked it better when Dad just threw some chops on the barbeque.

Six weeks in, the Creative Director and Account Manager called me to talk through some scripts. “Have we caught you at a bad time?” they asked.
“Thank god you’ve called!” I assured them. “I’ve just emptied the fridge, dragged it out of its hole and was in behind it  - cleaning!!” Yep – too much time home with a baby is not good for a mother who works. I just about wore out the basins drying them every time they were used.

So, my very last day of maternity leave - ever – and I’ve planned it perfectly. I’m meeting Dianna at Chadstone Shopping Centre for a lazy day of coffee, cake and shopping. I get the kids ready for school and number three says she’s not feeling great. Damn. She looks fine to me so off they all go.

We’re at Chadstone having just met up and are sipping the first latte for the day when the call comes. She’s just thrown up all over her book while reading. “Can you call her Dad?” I say. “Seriously, I really can’t get there...”. They did (I called him too) and he kindly went and scrapped  her up so I could enjoy my last day of leave. What a guy!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Lunch for 21

Firstly, a big hello to all my new followers – and thank you!! Much appreciated.

For my son’s actual 18th birthday we had 21 for lunch. I would have liked to have invited more, but that’s as many as I can seat at trestle tables in the front room. (One of the bonuses of being a Cub Scout Leader is being able to borrow the trestle tables – some would say it’d be cheaper to buy some…)

So I thought I’d share what this working mother put together for the occasion. Not so funny – except of course when my parents arrived unexpectedly at 10.30am and announced as they came through the door that they would be needing to leave by 3pm. Okay….

Luckily it was a long weekend and I recruited the 12 year old to help (she's a very good cook) – so we had Saturday to shop and prepare and Monday to recover.

As I’ve mentioned before, my cooking style is loose, so bear with me, and feel free to comment if you'd like more detail on anything.

With drinks:
Bite-sized pancakes (bilinis) made the night before. Put some self-raising flour (it makes them thick which is perfect for this) in a jug with an egg, a pinch of salt and enough milk to make it the consistency of honey. Leave to sit for 30 minutes before making pancakes. The next day, spread with soft cream cheese, add a generous twist of smoked salmon and a sprig of dill.

Skewer 3 prawns on soaked bamboo sticks – if you can be bothered – otherwise throw the defrosted, green, peeled prawns (tail on) into a bowl and either way marinate in a mixture of  lemongrass, garlic, ginger, chilli, fresh lime juice and a couple of slugs of sesame oil all blended in the food processor.  Barbeque on the day and serve with mayo with fish sauce and fresh chopped coriander stirred through it.

I have a new food processor so got a bit excited and made hummus – canned organic chick peas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, olive oil, salt. Whizz together, taste and add more of what you like. Serve with veggie sticks.

The main event:
The day before, I processed garlic, rosemary, salt, olive oil and preserved lemons, slapped it all over two huge legs of lamb on the bone and shoved them back in the fridge. (yes, my amazing fridge!!). On the day, I poured the liquid from the lemons into the baking dish with the lamb and baked for 2 hours at 150C for 2 hours, took the foil off and baked at 180 for another hour and a half. I sliced one plain and the other I sliced and smothered with fresh pomegranate, chopped mint and parsley (this bit nicked from Mandy at work – her ‘jewelled lamb’).

There was also chicken portions in a (bought) smoky barbeque sauce for those (possibly the smaller cousins) who mightn’t care for the lamb – but naturally I forgot it until we were sitting at lunch, so we had it for dinner the next night!

Potatoes roasted in duck fat. Yum! Heat fat first, toss in potatoes. Roasted tomatoes halved and drizzled with balsamic glaze, olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper, steamed green beans. (Some potatoes were done in olive oil for the vego in-law, along with wild barramundi on the barbeque). Corn on the cob – also barbecued, a salad of rocket, pear and walnuts and a noodle salad from an aunt – sorted!!

A tier of cake saved from the 18th birthday party the week before – chocolate mud – yum!!
Chocolate ripple cake made by the 12 year old, looked like a car, so she added wheels (choc biscuits) and printed off pics of the birthday boy to be in said car!

That was it! Not too taxing but very delicious!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Selling Alison

One of the highlights of Jordan at Christmas was visiting Petra. It was truly breath taking. If you ever get there, it’s worth taking the trek up the mountain to the Monastery and please say hello to our Jazzy-angel – we sprinkled a few of her ashes at the back, in the centre on what appeared to be a raised altar. (We take her everywhere with us and scatter just a small bit in the most beautiful places we find, which may seem odd, but it works for us.)
The famous Treasury at Petra

We were in Jordan with the kids, my parents and my friend, Alison. The Monastery was too far for my folks, so they caught a donkey back to the camels, to get a camel back to the horse and carriage, to get back to the bus. The transport system there is quite a feature! Our gorgeous guide Tala said she’d take our oldest (he’s in a wheelchair) and the youngest (the little one) while my partner, Alison, the then 11-year old and I made the climb. We arrived to find the entire site engulfed in a cloud and we couldn’t see a thing! Thankfully, after wasting some time in the extraordinarily expensive souvenir shop, the cloud lifted for an amazing view.

Donkey (as opposed to Gorilla) in the mist
The Monastery

So we now need to hot foot it back to the bus. My partner is not keen on riding animals so elects to walk. We grab a donkey and then walk about 2kms to the end of the gorge before getting on horses to ride back to the gate to meet up with the rest of the party. Tala has told us the horses are included in our ticket and that we just need to tip them – a ridiculous amount of money. They must be making more than anyone else in Jordan.
I get on my horse from the concrete platform erected for the purpose and grab the reins. The horse starts rearing up and I hope to Christ I don’t fall back off and crack my head on said concrete platform. ‘Let go of the reins!’ yells the horse guy. As a rider, albeit merely occasionally these days, it’s counter intuitive but I manage to let go and horse drops to the ground. That was more excitement than I needed!
Eventually, all three of us are on horses and set off with three horse handlers along side.
‘Have you got a boyfriend?’ one asks my daughter.
‘I’m eleven,’ she says in that voice that implies the question was stupid.
‘Can I marry you?’
‘I’m eleven,’ she repeats, slowly and loudly like he’s stupid.
They now move on to Alison.
‘Your daughter?’ he asks me.
Okay, so Alison is a few years younger than me – like 7 – not enough to be my daughter!!!
‘Aw, Mum,’ says Alison. I swear, if I were not stuck on a highly strung horse, I’d have jumped off and run back to bitch-slap her.
‘How much for your daughter,’ asks the guy.
‘A camel ought to do it’, I said.
‘Hey Mum!’ said Alison, ‘How come you happy to sell me, Mum? You love the other daughter more than me Mum. And surely I’m worth more than that….Mum!’
‘Okay, how about 2 camels? Too much? How about one camel and a chicken?’
The guy has warmed up. It goes on for a bit before he says to Alison:
‘I come to your hotel. I pick you up. Take you to the desert. We have some Bedouin whisky. You, me and a million stars….’ (Bedouin whisky is tea – these guys are devout Muslims and don’t drink alcohol.) ‘Where are you staying?’
‘The Diamond Hotel,’ I blurt out.
Alison, quite rightly, doesn’t think this is now funny. We are staying at the Diamond Hotel.
‘Just ask for Sarah,’ I improvise.
We’ve thankfully arrived at the gate and get off the horses. I tip the guys and they stand there and complain they want more. Gee – and I thought they liked us??
We get back to the bus and my partner is already there. So despite our relatively expensive donkey/walk/horse trip, he walked all the way and still beat us. But he didn’t have the entertainment!

Friday, 17 June 2011


Yep. You absolutely know you’re a mother when that little one has crawled into bed next to you with a sore tummy and an ‘I feel sick’ and two minutes later –was it a small noise, intuition?– instinctively you’re leaping out of bed, dragging the small fry with you and straight to the bathroom for the predicted big chuck. For 22kgs, she can project with incredible force. She must have abs of steel.
It was close. It hit the cupboard doors and gushed all over the tiles – but better than the possum-skin blanket and carpet in our bedroom. It’s 2.45am as I pop her in the shower and mop up a bucket or two of sick. ‘Wash your mouth out,’ I instruct.  ‘Why?’ she asks. Hmmm, pretty self-explanatory I would have thought.
She’s all shivery but snuggly in clean jarmmies and back in her own bed, as am I, and it’s only 3.05am. Job done!
Until of course, I wake to footsteps thumping through the house and a big ‘Muuuum!’ before the big burp-slash-yodel-slash- spattering of vomit all over the kitchen floor. At least that’s floorboards. Jarmmies off and back in the shower. It’s now 4.15am, an hour and a half before my get-up time. She doesn’t want any jarmmies this time and I can’t be bothered to argue as I wipe sick off the kitchen wall. She goes back to bed nude.
6.45am and I’m waking up the 12 year old to discover the small nude one must have gotten cold and crawled in with her. Spread the joy, I say! The little one rushes out of bed and throws up – right into the toilet! – she’s getting really good at this.
So here I am, working from home for the second day in a row. The 12 year old has just walked in from school with an ‘I feel so sick. I’m going straight to bed.’ Who’d have thought?

Monday, 13 June 2011


Now there’s a fantasy. Can you even imagine?? My uncle was here yesterday to help celebrate our son’s actual 18th birthday (as opposed to the party last weekend) and said he didn’t even realise it was a long weekend until a couple of days ago.
The idea of retirement is exciting. One of the ladies from my Pilates class is flying to Rome with a girl friend, hiring a car and with no plans at all, they’re heading off. Doing a ‘Thelma and Louise’. I did suggest they pull up at the cliff. But how much fun would that be?
With my last baby in prep and only 6½  years of primary school to go before she gets to 6 more years of private school fees, retirement ain’t looking that close. I can’t even smell it.
I had some vague notion that once I started blogging, I’d get so many followers that I could eventually launch my book(s) off the back of my blogging fame and ease myself into a comfortable and effortless income away from the demands and hectic pace of advertising – but that hasn’t happened, has it?? No, it has not! You can see I have a sum total of 18 followers – up from the 16 I’ve had for the last year or so – so thank you to those two - Dorothy and How To Go Left. And my Feed Burns have been vacillating between the mid 70s and high 80s but really, no major change there either. It’s tragically sad – but here’s where you come in!
In a desperate bid of blatant and shameless self-promotion, I am asking – no begging – if could you please send my link on to one or two people you know who may, or may not (I really don’t care), appreciate my ramblings, I would be eternally grateful. And retirement may be a mere 20 years away instead of my current calculation of 25.
Yours, grovellingly, MWWx

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Mother Who Works: CRAFT's Disease

Mother Who Works: CRAFT's Disease: "The other day someone at work asked if I could remember anything about some TV scripts that were presented a couple of years ago. I could..."

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

CRAFT's Disease

The other day someone at work asked if I could remember anything about some TV scripts that were presented a couple of years ago. I could and with exacting detail, which caused my colleague to note what a great memory I have. In truth, it’s a bit patchy. There are some things I remember with absolute clarity – my partner reckons I can remember everything I’ve ever eaten at every lovely restaurant – but that’s not actually true.
It’s also been said that I know a heap of useless information – not the kind of useless information that’s useful at a trivia night – just useless stuff, like what a caboose or a mitochondria is.
But there are times when my memory is shot. Like when someone said they’d been to a Thermo-Mix party in the street next to mine – do you think I could remember what the hell that street is called??
Mum calls it CRAFT ‘s disease – Can’t Remember A F-ing Thing.
So when I read the book – Still Alice by Lisa Genova, about a woman coming to grips with early on-set dementia, it was a little bit scary.  It’s a truly great book so I lent it to a friend. I thought it was my friend Sophie, so after a few months I sent her an email:
Me: Hi Sophie, did I lend you the book Still Alice?
Sophie: Not that I recall. What was it about?
Me: A woman with early on set dementia.
Sophie: Are you getting the irony of this?? And no, I don’t remember you lending it to me or reading it. Should I be worried?
My friend Kate used to say our minds were so filled up that it was inevitable stuff would start to drop out. But if it’s stuff I’m interested in, like creative ideas, food and useless stuff, I’m pretty good at keeping that in!
How’s your memory?

Thursday, 2 June 2011

A Couple of Quick Soups

After uni, my parent felt so sorry for me having persistently limped through my commerce degree, with two majors in accounting, (happily my social life was far more energetic!) that they sent me to cooking school. I’ve always enjoyed food and cooking (probably the later is motivated by the former!) So for something different, I thought I’d share a couple of quick soup recipes I made up as part of my artillery in my war against those 5 kg I need to lose.
I’d really love some feedback if you like this kind of post. My recipes are always pretty loose, which again, may or may not appeal. Let me know what you prefer because I can make them tighter
It’d also be good to know if you’re having problems posting comments – as I regularly have issues! So if you can’t comment, please drop me an email
Asian Style Chicken Noodle Soup
In a large pot, bring 2 litres of chicken stock to a simmer (Campbell’s is pretty good if you don’t have any  – and no – I’m not being paid to say that!!). Add 3- 4 sliced skinless chicken breasts and poach for a few of minutes.  Add about half a packet of Pad Thai (wide) rice noodles (from the supermarket) and a punnet of slices Swiss Brown or shitake mushrooms. Simmer for about 10 minutes and that’s it. You could also add spring onions or small broccoli flowers.
When serving, add a generous handful of fresh coriander, a big squeeze of fresh lime juice and several splashes of fish sauce (or Tamari if you’d prefer). Add chili if you like it hot.
It’s a really tasty, fat free, salty and sour concoction. The chicken provides protein too, which keeps hunger at bay for longer. You can keep it in the fridge for days and just microwave the base soup, adding the fresh condiments at eating.
Green Vegetable Soup
This one was inspired by what was left in the fridge, so quantities don’t really matter. Sautee a couple of diced onions in a mere splash of olive oil in a big pot. I added lots of chopped celery, 2 bunches of asparagus, about 2 continental cucumbers (peeled), broccolini and broccoli (including the stalk – peeled.) Toss it all around for a bit then add chicken stock until veggies are covered (add a bit of water too if you need). Add 3-4 chopped up big potatoes and simmer the whole thing until all the veggies are soft. Give it a burl with the Bamix until it’s smooth-ish. If you don’t care for it so thick, add more stock/water. Serve with sea salt crystals and cracked black pepper. It’s surprisingly tasty! 

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...