Friday, December 11, 2015

Festive Cocktail - Citrus Drop

It is that time of year when the frocks are out, the drinks are flowing and we are at our socialising peak!

If you are looking to add a little zing to the party you are hosting, here is a simple and delicious cocktail recipe just for you:-


In a cocktail shaker with ice, mix equal parts of 

Ruby Grapefruit Juice
Absolut Citron Vodka

Strain into a glass, adding a squeeze of lemon 

Image courtesy of via Pinterest

Friday, December 4, 2015

My 3 Fav Budget Friendly Items For A Healthy Summer Glow

Summer is finally here.  That means sun, swimming, Christmas and lots of socialising.

If, like me, you are conscious of the sun's effect on your skin and don't have time to lay around getting a tan (even with +30 SPF on) then you will love these products that help you achieve that healthy summer glow.  The added bonus? They are all budget friendly!  

For a natural looking tan that doesn't compromise my health, I look to the following products:-

LACURA BB Cream - available at Aldi for AUD7.99

I use the Medium Tint colour because I am olive skinned.  For the days I don't want a full face of make-up but just an even coverage that looks like I have gone to some effort, I love this.  I don't look made up, my complexion just looks natural, even and fresh.

LACURA Foundation - available at Aldi for AUD5.99

For days, and nights, when a full make-up face is required, this has been my go to foundation now for a few years.  I have tried many foundations in my time (being a make-up artist by trade) and for me, this one just works.  I like the coverage, I like how it blends, I like its staying power and for those that are budget conscious, you will love its price!

DOVE Summer Glow Body Lotion - available at supermarkets and pharmacies for approximately AUD7.00 per 250ml bottle.

Hands down, this has been my 'go to' self tanning lotion for years.  The reason is two fold: a) it gives a gorgeous and natural looking tan to my skin and b) it does not have an offensive scent. I use this as my sole body moisturiser during spring and summer, and some other times of the year if I want a tanned look. Upon first use for the season, I find it takes about 3 days to build up to the colour I like and then I just maintain it.  I constantly receive questions about where I have been - on holidays, out in the sun etc.  If you like self tanning and want a lotion that doesn't streak, this is it.

With these 3 'Not So Secrets' out and about, have a fabulous weekend enjoying the sunshine - or looking like you already have!

Note - this is not a paid or sponsored post.  It is just me giving credit where it is due and sharing the secrets!!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Treating Ourselves To Tasmania

Life happens.  You meet, grow up, move away and.... remain friends!  In celebrating our 30 years of friendship, 3 girlfriends and myself recently re-united in Tasmania for a 5 day getaway. In August.  It was not cold.  It was FREEZING!  But I did get to live out my desire to dress like I was weathering a New York winter complete with gloves, coat and hat for the duration of our stay.  I was in heaven!

Tasmania has so much to offer.  It is scenic beyond description.  We were embraced by our great country's stories, immersing ourselves in the abundance of history and the fresh surrounds in varying shades of green that only Australia displays.

I learned that Tasmania is not just history and lush scenery.  Along with the freshness of the temperature was the refreshing discovery that Tasmanians offer a friendliness and an effortless helpfulness I have not experienced in what seems like forever.  Not just one, but ALL.  Whether we were out for dinner, buying groceries, doing the tourist jaunts, e v e r y single person we came into contact with was pleasant and helpful.  And it was apparent that this was neither an effort or out of the ordinary for them.  Old fashioned perhaps, but the 'mainland' could learn a thing or two from our southern neighbours customer service.

We chose to stay at a house high up on a hill overlooking what I thought was all of Tasmania then quickly realised it was only all of Hobart, called, funnily enough, House on the Hill. Did I mention customer service?  Not a face as such to be seen by our hosts, but their touch was incredibly visible. To walk in to the home and see that quite a few of our needs for the weekend had already been thought of and catered for just took my breath away.  Have I become that jaded not to expect such consideration?  From our hosts Simon and Jennifer, it is probably all in a days work.  To us, it was attention to detail beyond measure.

Part of the view from The House on the Hill

Our first sight seeing venture took us south to Port Arthur.  Such an amazing experience to learn more of Port Arthur's early days as a convict settlement.  The weather was overcast, cold and drizzly - befitting the stories of its history.  It is perfectly picturesque and so beautifully kept to maintain its heritage.
Magnificent Port Arthur

Picturesque Port Arthur
Remains of a convict settlement, Port Arthur
Jonquils line the original fence at the Commander's cottage, Port Arthur
After a hearty home cooked breakfast on the Saturday morning, we set off for the renowned Salamanca Markets.  Most of where we wanted to go was either not that far or you get so swept up in the beauty of the scenery, it doesn't seem that far at all.  In this case, Salamanca was about a 10 minute drive from where we were staying.  And then... It is so easy to park in Hobart city, even on a Saturday!

Salamanca Markets with snow covered Mt. Wellington in the background.
The Salamanca Markets are something else.  They are down on the waterfront and showcase loads of local produce from fruit and vegetables to honey, truffles, nuts and condiments, literally to name but a few.  Local artisans display their craft: unique and practical items impeccably carved from Tasmanian timbers, jewellery made from kitchen utensils, loads of fashion ranging from clothing to various accessories, again to name but a few.  The whole extensive experience is like one huge treasure chest.

Salamanca Markets
True to local form, there are many helpful signs at the stalls letting you know what is acceptable to be taken back to the mainland or back overseas, what can be carried as hand luggage, what is suitable for main luggage or prices for shipping to your destination. The stall holders are all friendly and know their products.  They are more than helpful in explaining the item you are enquiring about: where it comes from, how it is made, why it is good for you. Tasmanians are exceptional at customer service!

Cascade Brewery - how could we not come here?

Need I say more?  Well, in fairness to the Cascade Brewery, yes I will.  We came here on the Saturday afternoon to do a tour of the brewery.  We learned not just of the beer and cider making processes but of the history of the brewery itself.  Did you know it was once a flour mill?  Being a weekend afternoon, the brewery itself was not operating but again, always thinking of the customer, there were detailed DVD's showing the brewery in operation so that we had a clear idea of how the amber nectar is brought to life.

At the beginning of our tour, we were given three bottle tops which we could 'cash' in at the end of our tour to try the various products. I was interested to learn, and saddened a little, that only a small variety of Cascade beers are distributed to the mainland.  The good stuff comes up here whilst they keep the great stuff for themselves!  True.  I tried the great stuff.  Made me sad we can't get it.

View from the top of Mt. Wellington.

Sunday saw me take the wheel of our hire car - a Ford Kuga.  Of course!  Because what other car do 4, dare I say it, middle aged women hire but a 'Kuga'?  We aptly named her Sonia Kuga and she was, I must say, a comfortable ride.  So, yes, my turn.  Of all days for me to take the wheel, it was the day we were heading up to the top of Mt. Wellington. Me who is petrified of heights!  And edges. That. Have. Nothing. On. Them!  It got the better of me half way up the mountain and my driving duties, for then, were relieved. Even the gentleman at the top of the mountain assisting the drivers where they could park was helpful, and friendly!  Could this place get any better?  I mean, seriously.  This is not just a one or two person being helpful type of thing.  This is now a running theme among all Tasmanians and my mind was being blown!

It was of course, chilly at the top of Mt. Wellington.  4 degrees cooler than at the bottom of the mountain to be exact.  It was breathtakingly beautiful between the snow and the views.  Hobart and its surrounds seemed to stretch on forever.  After the obligatory snow fight, we jumped back in Sonia and took in a countryside drive heading towards the Huon Valley.  Seeing a sign directing us to a winery we thought we would stop in for a quick visit.

The Home Hill Winery is at Ranelagh in the Huon Valley.  An architectural delight and clearly with wines and food to savour, the restaurant was filled to Sunday lunch capacity. Being a Taurean and therefore all about food (and wine) I couldn't help but check out the meals heading to the tables. They looked delicious and plentiful and I was personally sorry that we had arrived a little too late to enjoy lunch there.   Now I am very particular about my white wines. I tend to favour New Zealand whites and am on a personal mission to find a bad one! It has been an extensive search I can tell you.  But on the simple geographical basis that Tasmania is roughly in line with some of the most amazing wine producing parts of New Zealand, I thought I would give the Home Hill Sauvignon Blanc a try. I was not disappointed.  It was everything I had hoped it would be. From there I moved on to try Kelly's Reserve Pinot Noir.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Why did I only have hand luggage??? Rosemary who owns the winery with her husband Terry, talked us through each of the wines we wished to try and was so very friendly, happily answering all the questions we had about the wines,  the winery, the architecture and the history of Home Hill Wines. This is one place on my list of places to re-visit when I return to Tasmania.

We continued on our Sunday drive winding through the Huon Valley.  It is so pretty and picturesque and just so relaxing to take the time to enjoy the countryside.  We made our way down to Cygnet - what a beautiful township this is.  It has an outlook across the hamlet that makes you feel transformed by its serenity.  As I say in the photo below, it is as pretty as a picture: colourful, rural, balanced.  It is worth the drive there to check it out.

Cygnet - pretty as a picture.

We began to make our way back to Hobart, stopping in at the village of Kettering on the way. Kettering is the gateway for those wishing to travel to Bruny Island.  Another pleasant little township with, of all things, a Turkish cafe.  Pasha's wasn't what I expected to see but clearly what the locals and visitors alike appreciate as business could not have been busier! 

Back in Hobart, we headed out once again to the Brunswick Hotel for our last dinner.  I indulged in a huge plate of ribs and a pint or two of the Lazy Yak. The Brunswick has such a great vibe - live music, great food, chilled atmosphere, a tasty variety of craft beers and here I go again, helpful staff!

Up and at 'em come Monday morning.  It was our last day in Tasmania and we still had a few things we wanted to see.

Richmond Bridge - the oldest working bridge in Australia.
We headed up to Richmond where we stopped and paid homage to the oldest bridge that is still in operation in Australia.  As we stood with our beanies, scarves and winter coats on, we watched as the children at the school behind us played hockey in shorts and t-shirts! I guess you become acclimatised after a while.

You'll find this sign if you pop in to
the Man O Ross Hotel 
Further north we drove until we arrived at a quaint town called Ross.  It is a heritage town with the most beautiful colonial buildings.  Wandering around here is like stepping back quite a few decades. It is quiet, peaceful and yet draws many a visitor.  The Post Office houses some fantastic and reasonably priced gifts and souvenirs.  Across the road we found ourselves ordering Devonshire Teas, the famous Scallop Pie, Pasties and Coffees at The Bakery Cafe. Not a crumb was left on my plate.  The interior with its warmth and tasty aromas made it hard to leave.  I could find myself a permanent spot just outside that kitchen any day!  

A delayed flight home makes for extra sight seeing time.  We were all grateful the stars had aligned like that for us.  We called back in to Richmond to see more than just the bridge and take some time to explore the treasures it held.  What a perfect maze of interesting boutiques housing a unique variety of content.  

I couldn't go past the lolly shop! With its free samplings and colourful array of every. single. sweet under the sun, I was in lolly heaven. And so were the bus load of school kids that had just arrived! 

The Peppercorn Gallery is an amazing co-op of local artist's works. From photographs to jewellery to cards and carved timber pieces and so much more, there is something for everyone. Every year I like to add a keepsake ornament to our Christmas tree.  This coming Christmas will be the first without my Mum so when I saw this delicately handmade angel made in Mum's favourite colour, I just had to buy it.

A slight twist in the maze lead us into Rosehip and Co. It houses some of the most glorious homeware and giftware creations I have seen in a long time, all amid crisp, modern and fresh surrounds. I purchased these Coconut and Grapefruit scented tealights...oh how I wish you could take in their scent through this post.  They brighten my day - no pun intended!

You can smell ScentSations long before you get there.  Such beautifully handmade candles, oils and all the accessories you need to breathe gorgeous aromas in to your home - or a friends.  My visit there could ultimately be described as out and out loitering.  I looked, sniffed, admired and just stood there taking it all in for what must have seemed like an eternity to the lovely lady politely and proudly explaining each fragrance and methodology to me.  

Richmond is a place where you could lose yourself for quite a few hours if time permits. If you are visiting Tasmania, Richmond is most definitely one place to add to your itinerary.

With a name like The Wicked Cheese Co symbolised by a huge pair of lips blowing us a kiss, who were we not to stop?  We sampled some divine cheeses - my favourites being the blue goats cheese and the camembert as well as their amazingly flavoured yoghurt cheeses.  For a very reasonable price, we were able to purchase either a small or large icepack in order to bring our delectables home. And as luck would have it, the Wicked Cheese Co also have online ordering and a few outlets on the mainland where their wickedly tasty delights are sold.

Finally, it was time to bid Sonia 'adieu' and for us real live girls to enjoy one final drink together before heading off with our pilots into the sunset.

For anyone entertaining the idea of heading to Tasmania, I say do it.  It is lush, scenic and bountiful with an endless assortment of things to do, buy, see, eat and lose yourself amongst.  I will say it one more time.  The people are beyond friendly.  They have left the most amazing and lasting impression on me.  It is the first thing I think of now when I think of Tasmania.  I say thank you to the not so small island off our great southern land for being so hospitable and gracious in all manner of ways.  You make a return trip a must on anyone's bucket list!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Cord Blood Donation

Whilst on the topic of Donate Life Week - running from 31st July - 7th August - I thought it would be a great time to briefly talk about cord blood donation.

My personal view, as with organ donation, is that if I am finished using it, then whoever needs it can have it.

I first became aware of cord blood donation back in 1993 when it was an option looked at to help save my nephew's life.  Unfortunately, it wasn't the match it needed to be, but the story still ends well. You can read it here.

Cord blood is the blood from the umbilical cord and placenta that your unborn baby uses up until birth.  Once your baby is born, in most cases, the umbilical cord and placenta are discarded.  You can however choose to donate your baby's cord blood.

My first son was born at Royal Prince Alfred Womens and Babies (RPA) which is one of the hospitals registered as a cord blood collection centre.  I had wanted his cord blood donated but because he was an emergency caesarian it was unable to happen.

My second son however was a much more orderly birth, also at RPA.  I had made known my request for donating his cord blood so the collection team were on hand to take the umbilical cord and placenta soon after his birth.

The cord blood collection team rang me the following day to say the blood taken from the cord was just shy of the amount needed to donate to someone.  His cord blood would therefore be used for research.  They apologised that it could not be used for a donation.  Are you kidding me? He was still helping someone.  Or many!  The fact my son's cord blood could be used for research could potentially save countless lives.  I was not upset in the slightest.

To save a life or lives on the very day he drew his first breath?  What greater gift is there that my son could give?

If you would like to find out more about cord blood donation, you can do so here.
Image result for cord blood donation australia
Photo cred:

Monday, August 3, 2015

Donate Life Week 31st July - 7th August, 2016

This year, Donate Life week is running from 31st July - 7th August.

If you have been thinking of registering to donate your organs or tissue, then this week is a great reminder to do it.

I talked about a story very close to my heart in this post about organ and tissue donation.  This week is a good time to remind everyone of the benefits of being on the register and possibly saving one or more lives.

For more information about becoming a donor, visit the Donate Life website here.

It is really important to discuss this with your family members so that they are aware of your intentions should your donation time come once you have passed away.  Because not all donations need wait until then.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

How To Create Your Child's First Cookbook

Back in early March, I was discussing with my cousin Lisa what kids eat and of my cooking, what my children's favourite meals are.

Now I am one for memories and family sentiments.  I have a memory box each for the boys and a joint one for my husband and I.  Anything that I think will be nice to look back on one day goes in there.  From photos to certificates to champagne corks (in mine, not the kids), to birthday cards etc. You get the idea.  I have a journal each for the boys that I started before each of them was born.  The entries were more frequent back when they were babies, but I still do write in there for them from time to time.

The idea being that maybe not right now, but in years to come, they will treasure what has been kept and written. Being boys, this may not be entirely the case, however it will be up to them what they choose to keep or if they choose to keep any of it.  Being my boys, I can see already they both have a strong sense of family and a strong element of sentimentality about them.  Neither look like me so at least they have something of mine!

When Lisa and I were discussing meals, she suggested I get a scrapbook each for the boys.  As I make a meal they love, put the recipe in the scrapbook and one day when they are moving out of home, hand them over their very first cookbook filled with all the home-made recipes they love.

What a FABULOUS idea!

There is always that one recipe that your Grandma baked or your Mum made that you wish you had the recipe for.  Being Taurean and constantly thinking about food, I have made sure that I have obtained these recipes as I have gone along in life.  I NEVER miss out on anything food related. From anyone.

When one of my best friends broke up with her partner, she lamented that she no longer had the recipe for the best Caesar salad dressing you've ever tasted.  I said "I have it." She also commented that there was this great Indian chicken dish that she would no longer know how to make. I said "I have that recipe too." Then there was the all time party favourite, the Watermelon Smash. I said "no worries, I have it." I had obviously spent a lot of time at their place! And what a funny conversation it was when I was able to say "I have it" to each of the recipes my girlfriend wished she still had.  Her ex was a fabulous cook. Gotta give credit where it is due!

So back to the scrapbook.  I actually bought two A4 lined ring bound books.  I thought it would be easier for writing the recipes in there in a straight line! As for the covers of them, I thought it would be a neat idea for the boys to cover the books so that they could always look back on them as adults and see it was something they did when they were 5.  Which brings me to my next point.  My youngest turned 5 earlier this week so now I have two 5 year olds for the next two months.  I specifically waited until they were both 5 as they get such a thrill out of being the same age.  

True to form, Jai's is very ordered.  Cruz's is more abstract.  

The boys had the best time doing this activity and I had the best time watching and helping them. I was chief glue bottle squeezer!  Now I just need to cover them in contact so that their artwork stays in tact.

Thanks Lisa for the idea.  I love it and the boys love it. They are totally on board and suggesting which recipes I should add to their books already.  Caesar salad being one of them!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Struggling to Fall Pregnant?

I wanted to write this post because when I was trying unsuccessfully to fall pregnant, I ended up scouring the internet for ANYTHING that may have given me a clue, a glimmer of hope. 

Skip to the bottom line, end result, whatever you wish to call it.

The sum total of my pregnancies sound like a dream: 
  • pregnant after our first attempt with IVF 
  • fell pregnant naturally with my second 
  • both pregnancies I wasn't sick 
  • both pregnancies I craved chocolate
True Story.  

Does it get much better?

The truth of the matter is, in the grand scheme of things, I was VERY lucky.  And I know that. There were however a lot of other lines that could have been written in between those ones above.

When I decided to begin this blog, one of the things I dearly wanted to impart were positive 'secrets' if you will.  Exactly as I say - things that shouldn't be kept to ourselves. If there is one woman out there struggling with her own pregnancy journey and this post can help, then it has served its purpose.

Every woman has her own pregnancy story.  

The reality is, whatever it took, however long it took, pregnancy and childbirth truly is a miracle.  To this day, the whole concept still amazes me to the point where I feel there needs to be a bigger word than 'miracle' to describe it.  

My husband and I were in our late 30's and tried for 14 months to fall pregnant ourselves with our first child.  I realise that this is not a long time at all.  My heart breaks when I hear of couples who try for years, or who go through so many cycles of IVF, and I am in awe at their tenacity.  

I honestly don't know that I could have done the same.

The 14 months we tried for felt like 14 years.  If you are trying now and struggling, you will understand what I mean.  The whole thing became like a scientific experiment rather than an exciting adventure.

Six months prior to us ever starting to try for a family, I was involved in a head on car accident. My car was a write-off. And apparently I was a broken toy as well!  I had various injuries and a few interesting breaks.  The physical and mental toll was bigger than I had thought. You know you have that mentality of 'getting straight back on the horse'? That was how I felt. My body had other ideas.  It still amazes me just how the body can respond both positively and negatively, in situations like that.

For those who like alternative therapies, as I do, you will be interested in the following.   I was recommended to a reflexologist who was incredible. He does a lot of work with the labour ward at St George Hospital in Sydney, helping women in labour.  He helps their babies to turn if they are breech or could be better positioned for birth, can bring on labour if required, his stories are amazing!  I figured if he could help at that end of a pregnancy, then maybe he could help me at the starting blocks!  I saw him for 10 sessions. Wow!  

In relation to my body, I learned:-
  • if your spleen is damaged in anyway, you will find it difficult to conceive
  • pressure points coinciding with the reproductive system are found in your ankle region
  • nerves attached to the uterus are found in your lumbar spine.  Any damage to these will also make conception difficult
  • if your pelvis is out, your body will find it difficult to carry a pregnancy so may well prevent one!
Who knew?

As I said, I had sustained various injuries and a few interesting breaks making all of the above applicable to me.

So how did we end up doing IVF? 

Unfortunately, I still wasn't falling pregnant.  My GP referred me on to a gynecologist/obstetrician who also happened to be an IVF doctor.  I recorded my temperature on a flow chart for three months.  It then took him the time it takes to flick 3 pieces of paper to say "have sex on days 10 and 12". Really. You got that in 4 seconds?  I was 38.  I knew my body (I thought quite well) and even I couldn't figure that out!  I had tried everything under the sun. Ev-ery-thing! I thought I should have been able to get this. When I asked how he knew that so quickly, it was the same answer as the one he gave me when I asked how he could tell what were legs and shoulders in my pregnant belly - "because I've been doing this for 35 years and that's why you pay me the big bucks!" Well, I'd been doing my body for 38 years and seemingly still didn't know it! Sometimes it just takes another perspective.  And clearly an educated one!

I've heard women say over the years that there is one other man that a woman will fall in love with besides her partner, and that is her obstetrician.  It's true.  He walked me through such a personal journey and treated me like I was the only patient on his books. He was witty, laid back, loved yoga and wore animal print frames on his glasses.  
I asked once if he ever panicked in a situation.  He said he didn't because it doesn't serve anyone. I believed him. I liked his sarcasm (refer "big bucks" comment above).  But nothing outweighed his expertise.  He knew his stuff completely and I felt completely safe in his hands.  I cried the day I found out he retired. We weren't planning more children. But the journey shared with him was personal and for a female, quite intimate. I wasn't in the habit of showing and revealing 'those parts' to just anyone! He was so instrumental in making our dream come true. 

I digress.  Back to the story.

After 3 months of sex on days 10 and 12, (and a few others thrown in for good measure!) we still weren't pregnant.  I would cry when I got my period.  On one occasion I sat on the stairs and just sobbed.  I caught my reflection in a mirror and instantly just felt like I had failed.  My body had failed us in our quest to become a family.  It was gut wrenching.  I will never forget that feeling.  

My doctor was about to prescribe fertility tablets for me to take, when he stopped, looked at me and asked if I thought I was still traumatised by the accident.  Absolutely I was.  It was all he could put my 'not falling pregnant' down to.  He said he could do investigative surgery, put me on fertility drugs etc but in his experience there was no physical reason as to why I would be infertile and why I was therefore not pregnant.  He believed my body was still traumatised and, based on the fight or flight response, was protecting itself whilst ever it still felt vulnerable and in need of further repair. He suggested that subconsciously my body was deciding every month that it was better for me to just look after myself rather than add another factor into the equation by way of a pregnancy.  He further suggested we skip past fertility drugs and move straight to IVF. When I asked how he thought it would work if my body was deciding not to allow a pregnancy, he simply stated that by doing IVF we would be by-passing the decision making process of my body and making the decision for it.  The idea being that once my body had an embryo inside it, it would know what to do and we would capitalise on it being in 'protection' mode.  The plan worked.  

The next piece of important advice I received, and acted upon, was the suggestion from my doctor to commence acupuncture.

The results of acupuncture combined with IVF treatment speak for themselves. It is the reason why now most, if not all, IVF clinics will request that you have acupuncture treatment prior to an embryo transfer and follow up treatment afterwards.

I had been given the details of an acupuncturist at Miranda (in the Sutherland Shire) - Michelle Craven at Living Health Care.  We lived at Alexandria at the time so it could have been considered quite a journey to take once to twice per week, but I would have travelled to Darwin once a week at this point if it was going to bring us our much desired baby.  

Michelle ran the statistics:-
  • you have 22% chance of falling pregnant naturally every month
  • +40% chance of falling pregnant on IVF
  • 67% chance of falling pregnant on IVF whilst doing acupuncture treatment
I asked Michelle in my ever most delicate way what her 'hit rate' was!  Modestly, she answered that if clients had an embryo transfer when she believed their body was balanced enough, she had a 100% hit rate.  

My body began responding to acupuncture after my first treatment.  I was amazed.  My husband thought it was a whole lot of rubbish at the time. He thought we would be the ones to screw up Michelle's 100% hit rate!  He is of a VERY different opinion now.  I was seeing Michelle as regularly as she could fit me in, which was once every one to two weeks.  Michelle put me on to the worst tasting herbs ever but again, I would have eaten dirt to make this work!  I was willing to do whatever it took to get pregnant.  See?  It becomes an obsession of sorts doesn't it?  

I did the necessary needles, had all the scans and blood tests associated with IVF treatment.  When the time came for egg retrieval, we had 11 eggs retrieved, and 3 healthy eggs fertilised to the standard that the embryologist was happy with.  I cannot speak for all IVF clinics, only the one we were with, but their standards were high!  In speaking with the embryologist (gosh they are passionate about what they do - they are INCREDIBLE!) she said they are in the business of making babies, not disappointing couples with a failed pregnancy attempt. Hence the standards. I liked their way of thinking.  

My doctor was pleasantly surprised at the amount of eggs retrieved (for my age) - that was the herbs working.  But wait, there's more....

So as you know by now, the one embryo we had transferred, took.  Michelle, the acupuncturist, had me place an acupuncture needle in the crown of my head (do not try this at home - you need the exact spot!) in order to make my uterus hold the pregnancy. I did this daily for the first 12 weeks.  I literally looked like a martian, but by now you know the deal about me willing to do anything.  I was finally pregnant.  I was not about to stuff it all by worrying about what people thought of a needle in my head!  My confirmed pregnancy test came back so strong that both the IVF clinic and my doctor suggested it could be that my one embryo had split to identical twins.  It was 4 times the required levels!  When I spoke with Michelle about this, she laughed and said it was the herbs. That is how powerful they are and hence why she was intent on me taking them. My embryo was one healthy little tacker. 

Roll on 9 months.  As I said, I had the best pregnancy ever.  I was not sick because my body was balanced from the acupuncture.  Seriously, you have GOT to try this!  After 12 weeks, my treatments moved to monthly.  I had a treatment with Michelle at 38.5 weeks to help prepare me and our baby for the birth.  He was prepared alright. I went into labour very early the following morning delivering a very healthy baby boy.  Apgar scores reading like his current school report!

Our son was two days old when I made mention to my husband that I could not wait to be pregnant again.  Be careful what you wish for!

I visited Michelle again about a month after having our son just to re-balance my hormones and my body.  I fell pregnant again naturally with our second son just two weeks after that.  We did not plan to fall pregnant.  Even my doctor had said at my 6 week check up that we would commence IVF again in 12 - 18 months. I had asked about contraception but he laughed and said I had needed help with my first pregnancy, what made me think I wasn't going to need help with subsequent pregnancies!  Neither of us knew at the time I was indeed already pregnant.  But when I re-appeared in his rooms 4 weeks after that, he just looked at me and said "'re back."

By no stretch am I endorsing pregnancies so close together.  My body had clearly gotten over its trauma, for falling pregnant anyway.  Sometimes I think the body just needs a helping hand to realise it is capable of doing what it has been designed to do.

In sharing my story I hope that it might help a woman currently struggling to fall pregnant and looking everywhere for answers.  I was there.  And it hurts in countless ways.  I'm not saying these are the answers, just that I found mine in reflexology, acupuncture and a damn good IVF doctor and clinic.  

It can be a tough road.  Tougher than anyone can imagine because each of our stories and journeys are different.  I personally wish you well on your journey towards parenthood.  I hope you find your answers, but more importantly, hope you get the little bundle you are dreaming for.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Home-made Hershey's Style Chocolate Sauce

I have GOT to share this secret.  It's not really a secret if, like me, you already follow the blog of The Slow Roasted Italian.  They have some fabulous recipes on there but I am not sure if there is one better than this for all you chocoholics out there!  

Because this recipe uses ingredients I already have at home, when I came across it, I couldn't help but want to try it out immediately. 

Kudos to The Slow Roasted Italian as this is the yummiest chocolate sauce I think I have ever tasted!  I don't usually do dessert every night, but I have this week. Divine!

I won't hold you up with a longer post today.  I'll link you through and let you get on your way so you can start making this ahhhh-mazing recipe!

Happy Sunday folks!

Delicious used simply
as a topping on icecream
N.B. This is not a paid post at all.  I just came across this amazing recipe, tried it, loved it, and wanted to share it with you whilst giving credit where credit is due to The Slow Roasted Italian.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Turkey & Cranberry Patties

The deliciousness of this recipe is all in the Cranberry and Caramelised Red Onion Chutney.  One word. Yum!


500g turkey mince
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs (add more if required)
3 tbsp cranberry and caramelised red onion chutney
1 tbsp parsley
1 egg
1 clove garlic, crushed
Photo Cred: Yours truly!
1 tbsp olive oil
plain flour

Mix all ingredients (except oil and flour) in a bowl.

Roll mixture into the size patties you prefer, and toss in the plain flour to give them a slight dusting.

Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frypan and cook patties to your liking.

Serve with your preferred side of salad or vegies.  Or put them on a burger!

Bon Appetit!

NB: I have modified the original recipe because that is what I tend to do in the kitchen a improvise!  If you cannot get your hot little hands on the cranberry and caramelised red onion chutney (I got mine from Aldi), then finely chop 1 small red onion and use 2 tbsp cranberry sauce.  I also use minced garlic from a jar instead of crushing a clove.  

Friday, May 29, 2015

Recipe: Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

Simple, easy and
ready in no time!
I have long been a fan of 'kumara' since I spent some time many years ago living in New Zealand.  I came across this recipe for Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup, tried it, and have made it every winter since. It is simple, easy and ready in no time which makes it a fantastic mid week meal!  Enjoy... 


1 tbs olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp ground cardamom
3-4 large sweet potato (kumara), peeled and sliced
3 cups chicken stock
400ml can coconut milk
1 tbs lime or lemon juice
salt and black pepper to taste

1.  In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion
       and ginger, cooking until soft.
2.  Turn the heat up to high and add the cardamom.  Stir to coat the onion.
3.  Add the sweet potato and stir.
4.  Add the chicken stock and cover.  Once boiled, turn the heat down to a 
     simmer, covered, for about 10 - 15 minutes, until the sweet potato is soft.
5.  Puree the soup with a stick blender or food processor.
6.  Stir in the coconut milk and juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

Bon Appetit!

Photo Cred: Superfood Magazine.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Different Kind of Mother's Day

As Mother's Day 2015 looms, I am pondering my first Mother's Day without my Mum.

I have a new appreciation for what it is my girlfriends who have already lost their mothers have experienced.

It was only recently that Mum passed away - the week before Easter - so 5 weeks now.  She had been sick for the two months prior: a month of testing, followed by a month of knowing she'd be leaving us soon.

Everyone has their time to go and at 78, I would say that Mum had a pretty good innings.  She lived a life that ticked all of her boxes - wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and SO much more, but those first 4 are what she prided herself on the most.

But even at 78, as her child, it still feels too soon. 

Mum and I didn't have a close mother-daughter relationship.  It was just the way it was.  She was still my Mum though and it leaves a profound gap with her no longer being here.

It's true.  Reality does bite.  For the most part, I feel I am fine and at peace with Mum now in Heaven.  I still have moments though - and I never know when they're coming! - that the realness of Mum no longer being here hits me like a brick to the face.

In my haste of grabbing a couple of quick items at the supermarket recently, I was confronted when turning the corner of the aisle to almost take out the Mother's Day card display!  I remember thinking in what would have been about 2 nanoseconds,

"Oh yeah, must remember that",

"Oh wait, I don't need to this year" (which was VERY confronting and I could feel the tears welling so then thought...)

"Stuff it, she is still my Mum no matter where she is, I'm buying a card" and just like that, the first card I actually looked at was written in the most appropriate way for me to 'give' to my recently deceased mother.  Uncanny how things work.

Navigating the concept of death and Heaven with 4 and 5 year olds has also been an important part of my grieving process.  To explain in a format that little minds will understand where Grandma has gone, why she had to go and how we will recognise her ongoing presence with us has shown me just how beautiful and special death can be.  It slows you down and it makes you realise that a 4 and 5 year old are at times capable of teaching more than they are taught.  Their acceptance and their faith is unmatched.

Though the year of 'firsts' following a loved ones death always brings its challenges, I must admit, it will be my family and my faith that will continue to make this coming Mother's Day a truly special one.  Simply because Mum is no longer on earth does not mean she is no longer with us.  No matter where Mum is, she is still our Mum.  Our family will joke that she may have less input on the day, but with our faith, I actually can't be so sure!

Happy Mother's Day Mum.
I took this photo the day you passed away
 - the only rose blooming in your front garden xxx