Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Hospitality Establishment - Tapas Dancing

It is little wonder that some things escape me.  I live in an ordinarily positive world, only capturing pieces of the news here and there.  My world would be different and more negatively impacted if the headlines ran across the bottom of the Tom and Jerry show, but thankfully, they don't.  And reading the newspaper is a thing of the past, at present!

Likewise when driving, I am watching the road or adjudicating the 'discussion' in the back with my 3 and 4 year old or (and usually the case) answering 50 gazillion questions. Most often the one that goes:-

Jai (4): "Mum, what did that sign say?"

Me: "Which sign?"

Jai: "The one back there?"

Or like on the weekend:-

Jai: "Mum, what does that one, one, zero sign mean?"

Me: "It means I can do 110 kms per hour."

Cruz (3): "Mum, do 120."

So to have driven down President Avenue at Caringbah in the Sutherland Shire numerous times and have not noticed The Hospitality Establishment does not surprise me at all.  I was however pleasantly surprised it existed when my sister suggested we do one of their cooking classes as our birthday gift. 

We are Taureans and LOVE food - cooking and eating it!  And we love a cooking class!

The Hospitality Establishment runs all sorts of cooking classes.  And, they are BYO!  

Does it get any better?  

From Rustic Italian to Superfoods to Mexican Street Food and many more delectable enticements in between.  What to choose, what to choose! You can see their assortment of classes here.  They even have ones for kids in the school holidays!

My two sisters, three sister-in-laws and myself graced The Hospitality Establishment with our presence.  

That's a lot of BYO.  


The class we chose to do was Tapas. In total there were around 15 or so doing the class - on a Friday night!  Garth and Tash ran the show.  Garth is the chef, Tash the cook. Tash came to be Garth's trusty assistant after doing numerous cooking classes, and clearly loving them. 

The class is informative, educational, hands on if you want it to be, relaxed and a whole lot of fun.  Participation is encouraged but not pressured.  You can partake in as much or as little of the cooking as you would like.  Hand-washing is mandatory.  So is the laid-back atmosphere.  My most enjoyable cooking class to date!
My sister in law, Kim,
preparing the Blue Cheese Tarts

In our Tapas class, we made...huh! The royal 'we'!  Okay okay, Garth and Tash (and a little bit of the rest of us) made Duck Spring Rolls (I'm now pretty good at rolling up these little tackers), Prawn Miang (divine), Blue Cheese Tarts (even if you don't like blue cheese, you'll luuuurve these), Lamb and Minted Pea Bruschetta (yummo), Albondigas (sounds like a country but these meatballs were delish) and Churros (please, who doesn't like Churros dipped in chocolate?)  

The top two are Prawn Miang,
the bottom is the start of the
Churros (looks like mashed potato!)

What a fun (and delicious) night!  It is such a friendly         atmosphere.  Everyone, including our chef and cook, 
were there for a great time.  It is a night that can, depending upon the cuisine and your experience, walk you a little sideways out of your comfort zone, teach you a thing or two and allow you to realise that making some of these tasty morsels isn't actually as difficult as one may think.  And chopping like a pro is not required! 

 All in all, I can highly recommend a night of Tapas dancing  at The Hospitality Establishment.  We had more than enough to eat, shared some great laughs, were given a handout of the recipes 'we' made and indulged in restaurant quality dishes - in taste and presentation.

What's not to love about a night like that?  

If you love cooking or the idea of doing a cooking class, then you will love what 
The Hospitality Establishment has to offer.

I wonder what class will take our fancy next time?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mother's Groups - To Join Or Not To Join? That Is The Question.

When I was pregnant with my first son, I pondered this exact question: should I join a mother's group?  

I thought that if you did the ante-natal classes, the women in those classes became your mother's group.  I am still unsure on this point.  However, being a planned caesar, and therefore believing I wouldn't need to know how to breathe my way through a labour I wouldn't have (yeah right, if you have read my previous posts....!!) I didn't sign up for those classes, just the 'what to do with your newborn' class.

I enquired as to the benefit of joining a mother's group.  My cousin was pregnant with her second at the same time I was pregnant with my first.  So I asked if she had joined a mum's group and what she thought.  I have never forgotten what she said because it rang so true when I did eventually join my own mother's group.

She said:-

It is a group of women who you may not have otherwise met.  Yet you will share the bond of having your first born's roughly at the same time and therefore going through the same things - give or take - so you connect.  To this day, they are a group of women that I would always give the time of day to, even if I have not seen them for months or years, because we share something that I don't share with anyone else.

That sold me.

The idea of a sisterhood at a time I would be embarking on something TOTALLY foreign to me sounded like what I would want and need.  I had a zillion nieces and nephews before I became a mum, but nothing is like having your own child twenty four hours a day, seven days a week!

Within the first week or two of coming home from hospital, the midwife visited our home to check on the baby and I.  We signed up for her mother's groups meetings.  We would meet for 4 consecutive weeks with her (the midwife) and after that, should we choose to still meet, we were on our own.  

On our own!  What?  No guidance?  

We met on our designated day.  I remember looking around the room at all the new mum's and the even newer babies.  There were 11 of us from memory, with a total of 12 bubs. Yes, one woman had twins, just a few weeks old.  Not only did she show up, but she was pretty much there on time, and looked completely comfortable shuffling the two babies around to hold and cradle them.  I am still in awe of this woman.  It was all I could do to get myself dressed in somewhat co-ordination, run a brush through my hair, and three point turn my pram successfully, let alone get the 'morning rush out the door' routine down pat with two kids!!  I decided that some people are just quite literally, incredible.  

On week two one of the girls turned up with morning tea to boot!  Home made.  Oh please!  How come I was the only one who seemed to be thrown for six in finding my new 'normal'?

Fast forward to the end of week four.  It was going to be time for us to be on our own, if we chose to continue our gatherings.  The following week would be Melbourne Cup.  Well, it is just plain un-Australian not to celebrate it in some way, shape or form.  A conveniently located pub that could accommodate space for prams was thrown into the ring as a suggestion.  Okay, so it was the only suggestion.  Why look for others when the first idea made sense?

We continued our weekly catch ups at various venues.  Coffees, lunches, park visits, whatever worked.  There were about 9 of us at this stage (plus bubs).  We would discuss anything and everything.  Nothing was off limits and judgement never entered the equation.  I think that is why the topics were so open.  We could be ourselves - good and bad - and just be accepted and more importantly, supported.

I remember my husband commenting after we had attended one of the kids' 3rd birthday parties just how apparent the bond is between us mum's in the mum's group.  It made me proud and it made me smile.  Because what he said is true.  We look out for each other. And we look out for each other's kids too.

Our catch-ups became less frequent as we all either went back to work, moved, or had second babies.  Lunches turned to dinners.  With alcohol.  And no kids.  

We caught up just last Saturday night.  It was brilliant.  We are all so genuinely excited to be in each other's company.  We share something special.  Even down to stories that will be shared with us and no-one else.  Because we get it and we get each other.  We do share something unique.  We experienced our first borns together.  For most of us, our paths wouldn't have crossed otherwise.  Our babies are our common denominator.  Our babies who are all nearly 5 and heading to school next year!

So if you are pregnant right now and wondering whether or not to join a mother's group, the decision is entirely yours.  But this has been my take on the immeasurable value that my mother's group has meant and still means, to me.

Friday, May 9, 2014

What's Your Favourite....Mum Moment?

I could write a post on how special Mother's are, on what it takes to be a Mum (or Mummy as I still am at this stage) and the qualities only a Mother could have.  But if you are a Mum or have/had one, you know exactly what I am talking about anyway!

Instead, let's chat about our favourite moment of being a Mum or with our Mum.

Many moons ago, that many in fact I can't remember if it was a nephew or a niece, a First Holy Communion or a Confirmation that we were attending at our parish Church.  It was one of those occasions though where seats were being taken up quickly so an early arrival to the Church was warranted. The Bishop was coming!

There we were, in our pew, with seats rapidly filling around us.  I was seated next to my Mum.  With about 5 minutes to go before the service began, Mum leaned across to me and asked "Love, did I put mascara on both eyes?"

Without even looking I knew the answer. Still, I checked just to be sure.

She hadn't.

It really didn't matter for the one eye that did have mascara because by the time we managed to compose ourselves again, that eye's mascara had run all over the place anyway!

How on earth does that happen?  How do you get distracted mid application and never get back to it?

And of all places to ask? Church. 

We couldn't laugh out loud. That would be inappropriate! Rather we sat there with shoulders jumping up and down with our muffled laughter, tears rolling down our foundation streaked cheeks, and continued to do the pretend cough throughout the service when the thought popped back into our heads and we started all over again. 

In hindsight, through two mascara'd eyes please, we shouldn't have continued to sit beside one another that day! 
Happy Mother's Day!

Ah, I still laugh.

What has been your favourite Mum moment?

To all the Mum's out there, to those who will be remembering their Mum's this Sunday, for those who will be experiencing their first Mother's Day or their first Mother's Day without their Mum, to those Mum's who have lost their child, I wish you all a very special Mother's Day.  May Sunday be a day for you.  A day of memories made or memories cherished.

Photo credit to beautyswot.com

Friday, May 2, 2014

What's Your Favourite....Age?

We all have it.  We all have either an age we thoroughly enjoyed being, or an age we are looking forward to being.  What's yours?

Looking back, my favourite age would have to have been when I was 27.

For someone who loves being in a relationship, my favourite time of my life was actually when I was single!  And absolutely loving it!  The only person I had to take care of and consider was me.  Well, that's not entirely true.  Of course there are always people to consider, like my flatmate, but you get what I mean.  Life was carefree.  I had a great and well-paying job, no big responsibility like mortgages, I could make plans for whenever with whomever I wanted. I completely ran my own show.  It was bliss with a capitol 'B'!

Life has not gone down hill from there.  Not in the slightest.  I've had a few tough lessons, but you get those.  27 is just a time when I remember the funniest nights of partying, being out at all hours and having the luxury of being able to sleep all of the next day if I needed to. I traveled 'just because'.  Have you ever traveled 'just because'?  Just because you could, with little time to plan, it just seemed like a great idea so you went with it, and had one of the greatest times of your life?  I ate at restaurants and places I had never been to.  I owned a caravan. No. Wait. This one deserves a paragraph all to itself.

I owned a caravan.  It seemed and was a great idea at the time.  It was permanently fixed on-site at beautiful Bateau Bay, about a two hour drive north of Sydney on the Central Coast.  The park was bordered on one side by a Golf Course (we never played) and on one end by Shelly Beach.  The location was awesome.  The caravan was orange.  If the Brady Bunch owned a caravan, this was it!  The exterior was orange with white stripes, the interior was orange vinyl with faux timber paneling - scrumptious!  It had an annex with sliding doors at both ends - apparently quite a luxury in comparison to other vans on site as it turned out.  The loos and showers were 50 metres up the pathway - a minor and liveable inconvenience, all things considered.  I would wake up to the sound of waves and a refreshing breeze on my face through my slightly opened window.  It could sleep 9 comfortably, though we did manage 13 one weekend when all who said they 'may' come up, did!  One visit very early on with my girlfriends and the caravan was promptly named "The Convent" - where the only habits were bad habits - and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were founded!  

This isn't us singing Kumbaya, but it does give a good
 indication of what The Convent's interior was like.

See?  Who wouldn't love a time in their life like this?  I have such fond memories of this era (am I old enough to use the term 'era' in reference to my own life?) and will always get lost in the wonderful memories if I sit and contemplate this fabulous age.

When has been your favourite age?  What happened?  Or is your anticipated favourite age still coming?

Photo credit to OurBetty.blogspot.com - my photos of The Convent are locked safely away in storage!