Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Sieze The Day

Such a cliche, but so true. And I'm now realising why this concept of mindfulness and being in the moment is so incredibly important.

It's a frightening realisation that you don't remember most of your life. In fact, far less than 1%. Some would suggest it's as little as .001%. Of course it varies from person to person - many of my university friends wish I didn't remember as much and I certainly wish Geoff would remember more... but it's somewhere in that ball park.

Think that can't possibly be true? Well, what did you have for lunch on Tuesday two weeks ago? Unless it was your birthday or some other differentiating day, chances are you'll have no idea. Those ordinary days just all blend in together. So you need to be mindful of today and now - because all too often it doesn't mean anything else.

And even with what we do remember, there's much speculation around it's accuracy. Is that actually what happened or is that just our version that has evolved over time? Who knows.

I guess in the current era, we all have more evidence  - the extraordinary amount of photos and video.
Here's an amazing pictorial on the rate of photos taken by the world, ever. We've taken half of the pics ever to exist in the last 4 years - and most of those are on mobile phones.

But it does concern me. That time is passing by and I'll remember nothing of this winter save a couple of lovely catch ups with family and friends. So that was my motivation to get up at 4am on Saturday to go skiing and to get Geoff to organise footy tickets for next weekend.

When George and Jaz were with us, these periods of stability and nothing-ness were treasured, but now they just make me restless. I find myself trying to remember details of my grandmother's house or a hotel in Egypt or the lodge I worked at in Scotland...

How about you? Are you accepting of this situation or like me, do you try and recall what you can while always knowing you can't remember what you've forgotten?

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Not amazing photogenic but this salad is yum. Here's the drill:

  • Break a whole cauliflower into smallish florets, dice any chunky stalk bits, drizzle generously with olive oil and roast at 180C, turning regularly as it browns pretty quickly once it starts (this is what makes it nutty and delicious). Allow to cool
  • In a bowl, mix the cauliflower, a can of drained chick peas, a heap of dukkah, a few seeds and nuts if you like (I used sunflower, pepitas and almond slivers) and a handful of baby spinach
  • Add a good sprinkle of sea salt (only if the dukkah is salt-free) and a generous drizzle of pomegranate molasses, a squeeze or two of lemon juice, toss and serve
We had it with slow roasted shoulder of lamb, fresh pomegranate and flat leaf parsley, crispy roast potatoes and a rocket and edible flower salad (below), but it actually makes a great meal on its own. 

While the oven's on (gosh I sound like my mother!) peel and core some pears and put in a roasting dish. In a Pyrex jug, mix some brown sugar, break in some cinnamon sticks, add some vanilla extract (the kind with seeds in it), hot water and a knob of butter - microwave for a bit and then pour over the pears and roast while you're doing the cauliflower (although depending on how green the pears are, they might take quite a lot longer..).

I served them warm with salty caramel sauce that I confess I bought at the supermarket, cacao nib crumbs that I had made a couple of weeks ago and frozen, caramel and macadamia ice cream and cream. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

What matters?

We were recently fortunate enough to work on a brand strategy that landed us in a space of 'what matters'. It recognised that we often get so caught up in the everyday 'doing', of being busy, that we don't know if it is achieving the things that actually matter. The brand encourages people to take a moment to reflect on what does matter to them and just check that it is where your energy is directed.

For me, knowing that I have been fortunate in life means giving back matters.

I'm currently part of a small group, The MJs, (please do LIKE us on Facebook) who undertake various grassroots events to support different causes. Our key aims are to have minimal expenses so the maximum amount of funds raised end up with the cause, to try and get people closer to the cause (perhaps through a personal connection, the type of event or an activity) and to put the FUN back into FUNdraising.

Our current project has been providing physical help to an amazing organisation called Avalon, which collects, sorts and distributes clothes and bedding for the homeless. It has some other very worthy activities as well - check them out at avaloncentre.org.au 

Before we started mobilising the small army of helpers, Elle and I went out with Avalon on their Sunday night run, following the St Vinnie's food trucks and helping pack and unpack the vans at the various city locations.

At one stop, the well-signed bus was rushed by an exuberant woman who clearly had business on her mind. She'd spoken to the key organiser and had rendezvoused here, as planned, to make her donations. We climbed out of the van as she handed over a couple of black plastic garbage bags - one at a time with explanation:
'Now this bag has sheets and doona covers and pillow cases..'
The second bag came our way.
'...and this one has everything matching - the doona cover and pillow cases and the thing ... the frilly thing for the mattress...'
'The valance?' I offered.
'That's it!' she exclaimed, clearly relieved someone was speaking her language.
'It's got the doona cover, pillow cases AND valance - all matching - and I would REALLY like them to stay together.'

I managed not to laugh out loud. Was she insane? What homeless person is going to be concerned about having a matching valance? In fact, what person anywhere is lying awake because they don't have a matching valance? And what does a person sleeping rough even do with a valance? So many questions....

But, as she pranced back to her black BMW,  high on the goodness of her charitable deed, I realised... a matching valance mattered to her. And that is absolutely her prerogative.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Fishing Trip

Before you read this, know that I have permission to tell this story.

So a couple of years ago we were staying with my parents over the Christmas break. Geoff and my oldest brother Will had taken George and Sass up to the harbour to fish and Elle and I were meeting them up there. (Mum had kindly tipped a good amount of tonic water out of the 300ml bottle and topped it up with Hendrick's gin for me to take. As it turned out, I needed that drink!!)

On the drive to the harbour Elle was saying she had managed to get a tampon in but that it was really uncomfortable. Now as it happens, I've spent her entire lifetime working with a brand of feminine protection, so these conversations are well within our comfort zone. I simply explained it probably wasn't in far enough and she needed to push it up further.

Once we arrived, Elle had a go at 'adjusting' but was still whinging so I sent her back to the loo with the instruction to just take the tampon out. Minutes later she was back, white, sweating and threatening to pass out. 'I can't get it out...' she's almost crying. Good grief. 'Okay,' I say, reminding myself I've dealt with far worse crises. 'I'll come with you as you'll just be pulling the string at the wrong angle.'
'Everything okay?' asked my brother Will, cheerily.
'All good!' I replied, matching his cheeriness.

I took Elle back to the corrugated oval structure that is the public toilet - with enough room to hold a small party! She plonked back on the loo, in serious danger of fainting. I tried to coach her through it, even sliding down into a sitting position with my back against the wall next to her to demonstrate the angle (with pants up!!) but she was now so distressed nothing was budging.

Next minute there was a crunching of gravel and a knock on the corrugated iron door - it's Uncle Will. 'Everything alright?' he called out - although it wasn't necessary for him to raise his voice as the structure provided no sound proofing what so ever. Elle was almost hyperventilating. I opened the door a crack and whispered 'All fine - secret women's business....' with a very earnest and hopefully imploring look.
'Oh,' he said, bewildered and wondered off. And I still wasn't  certain that he wouldn't be coming back.

All demonstration and coaching options had now been expended so there was nothing for it - I was going to have to fish that sucker out myself.

In a moment of clarity, I realised my best approach was to turn my back to Elle rather than head in head first. I reached down and got her to pass me the string and within a nanosecond, the offending tampon was out and she was breathing again.

Back at the wharf the fish-fishing was proceeding in a relaxed manner as I grabbed my tonic bottle and glugged it down fast, wondering where in the manual of being a mother it mentioned the removal of recalcitrant tampons??!

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. ...