Sunday, August 17, 2014

Five months down ...

Here we are five months down the track of the initial six month contract.  After our first week I said we were surviving, I'd still say we were surviving but nothing more than that I'd hope we might have been thriving but that really seems quite aways off at this stage.

Drew is I'm pretty sure still loving the job.  Of course there are challenges but there are those in every job. We are still getting used to Drew not being here 4 nights a week.  There have been a couple of times when he has been gone longer than that but not many.  

Some things I've learnt over the last few months:  

*  I am stronger than I think but at the same time I fall in a big heap at times too! 
*  Support networks these are so important!  Make sure you have a great support network in place for both of you before you even consider dido or fifo work!
*  I need to ask for help more and pretend less but this is something I have always struggled with.  There have been a lot of times when I haven't been coping at all but I don't want to admit that to myself, I don't want to burden Drew and I won't burden my already busy friends so I say nothing and suck it up.  My intuitive friends who typically aren't local will notice I'm not ok and will send me messages and to them I am truly thankful and to all the others (and Drew) I only have myself to blame for not asking for help!  I know you would give it (or Drew would come home if he could) if only I would put my hand up and say I'm drowning not waving!
*  Shared parenting is really hard when you are not doing it together, I have to make the bulk of the parenting decisions during the week and then I may have vented during the week about something and in my mind that's all it was but then Drew has come home trying to sort things out that have long since been sorted out.  This is hard for me and the kids particularly when the consequences are typically things that i have to follow through on during the next week.  
*  Communication is really, really important and this is something we are not great at, never have been.  I try to talk during the week but then we have ended up in fights, as I don't want to fight over the phone I say nothing and then because he's only home for a short period of time I don't bring things up on the weekends either. So I would say our communication isn't great.  It is especially harder when the other person doesn't know there are problems or doesn't think the things you think are problems. Not saying this is particularly our issue but generally we don't communicate well.  We talk a lot about the superficial things but never really anything more than that.  
*  Balance this is really hard when Drew is home on the weekends the kids want to see him a lot and I am simply exhausted to I will often retreat this then means that we don't see each other.  Then I feel guilty taking him away from the kids but if we don't make a conscious effort there is no time for us as a couple.  
*  Chaos this is something that we have always lived with but there just seems to be more of it these days.  Take one person out of the equation even for a few days and things run differently.  I am not saying better because it is not better when Drew isn't home but it is certainly different.  The kids and I get into a little routine and get things done we are all normally in bed quite early.  When Drew is home that all changes Drew has a different concept of time to us and seems to run a little slower so often if he is looking after dinner (as an example) it won't get started until after I would normally have had it finished.  This is only a little thing and it is something that I have to let go.  Perhaps the chaos and my lack of enjoying that has more to do with that I like order and structure because I cope better that way and less to do with Drew is a go with the flow bloke.  
*  Overscheduling I try to squeeze in so much on our weekends because he isn't home that sometimes it is just exhausting.  I need to remember that sometimes we need to just chill and that is ok and if Drew wants to see his mates he is perfectly capable of organising it. 
*  Competing priorities this is a lot to do with communication but I think you both need to be clear on why you are doing this and what you are hoping you will get from the fifo/dido experience.  There has to be more than just a pay packet in it.  For us the pay packet is important (but it is just a basic pay packet it isn't your usual fifo/dido money incentive) but in reality the real incentive for us was the foot in the door for Drew to a different career hopefully converting all of his volunteer hours and passions for emergency service into a career of the paid variety.  It was an opportunity after being made redundant to try to forge a different future doing something other than working on the tools.

I would say that over the last few months we've had some doozies of arguments and mostly these come from lack of understanding on both sides me not understanding that it is hard being away from us and him wanting to fix everything when he comes home when really I just wanted him to listen.  

I'm not sure we are cut out for long term dido or fifo work and I am certainly sure that I wouldn't cope if I didn't have a great support network but for now we are getting there little bit by little bit every day.   What I do know is that in the changing job market there are likely to be more fifo/dido workers and more "non traditional" family structures.  We are hopeful that making these short term sacrifices will pay off with a job closer to home but for now we make it work. We are lucky that the kids are older and can understand where dad is and what he's doing but sometimes that makes it harder too.  The change to dido work from shift work has also meant that the kids have had to get used to that Drew is no longer available during the week like he once was for school things.  So every work pattern has its pros and cons.  

What I know for certain is that we love our house and the area we live in and have a great support network so it would have to be an amazing opportunity for us to move on! Most importatnly I know we love each other so we will get through this together and look back on this time as a growing experience.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Test Kitchen

It's been a while, a long while in fact, since I wrote on here.  So much has happened in that time.  Our renovations are I think, almost, finally finished.  Well at least the building side of things.  It would seem that there are lots and lots of things that we are going to be working on for what I would imagine years to come.  But the super exciting news is I have a second toilet and shower for the first time in forever and as of today I have a new bathroom door on our old bathroom that also has a lock!  It's the little things that make me happy but to have two working toilets with two locking doors is simply amazing!

The man of the house is still doing drive in, drive out and we are still working through this, some days are better than others, which means some weeks work better than others.  Overall I think we are making the best of the situation and we will make this work for however long it continues.

But back to the title test kitchen.  Some of you may know that I have been selling Your Inspiration At Home  products, this is a wonderful range of spices, vinegars, evoo, chocolate powders, teas and coffee (just to name a few.)

I have over the last few months been creating treats each week for my hairdresser for their clients at the wonderful day spa salon I go to.

I thought I would mix things up and step outside the normal range of taste sensations that I have been creating with the wonderful YIAH  chocolate powders.  This week I decided to infuse milk with the Marsala Chai tea and use that in the cakes I created, I was sure it would work but would everyone like it was the real questions.  Turns out that the answer was overwhelmingly yes!  

Here is the recipe and some photos from the Marsala Chai test kitchen.  

Basic Cupcake
200g Gluten Free Flour
20g Corn Flour*
160g Caster Sugar
15g Baking Powder*
110g soft butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla

Infuse 1 cup of milk with 4 tblsp Marsala Chai tea for at least 12hrs (in the fridge) when that is done strain the tea from the milk and set aside to use. 

Preheat oven to 175C
Sift flour, cornflour, baking powder into a mixing bowl on a low speed mix well 
Add butter and mix well on low speed until the butter is covered in flour
Add 1 egg at a time mix well between each addition, then add vanilla 
When the eggs are combined into the flour and butter mixture, add 1/2 cup plus 2 tblsp of infused milk mix well on a low speed, turn up to a medium speed and beat for approx 2mins until well combined and mixture looks light and fluffy. 
Divide evenly between 24 muffin trays (using a 6cm ice cream scoop you will get approx 24 evenly sized cupcakes, using a tupperware melon baller you will get approx 72 mini cupcakes)
Bake in pre-heated oven for between 15-17mins

400g Icing Sugar 
150g butter soft
40g milk (I used the left over marsala chai infused milk)

Beat all ingredients together well.  Pipe onto the cooled cakes using a rose tip and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. 

This exercise got me to thinking there are lots of amazing flavours in the YIAH range, would they also work as cupcakes?  And so the test kitchen happened.  With another friend we trialled Raspberry Mojito, Maple Bourbon Balsamic, & Choc Raspberry Truffle Red Velvet cupcakes.  

Here's a photo from the test kitchen (not nearly as pretty as the cakes I created earlier in the week but certainly just as yummy!)  The biggest decision will be working out which flavours to make for the gluten free guests at an upcoming family 21st! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

We survived

Here we are at the end of our first week as a DIDO (drive in, drive out) family and I think we've survived. On the one hand it's been a tough week, but on the other our routine at home has just continued on as normal.  Of course as is normal for us we have had an eventful week including loosing Zac for a little while and Zac tearing his hamstring and landing on crutches.  

It hasn't been an easy transition and I'm not sure how we are going to go long term but I think we will do ok.  There were lots of little things that we just didn't know like if hubby would have mobile service where he's living so would we be able to talk at night or would we have to try and squeeze in a goodnight call in our busy afternoons.  Turns out he has mobile service which means we get to mostly keep part of our routine from before where the kids would talk to their dad before bed.  And I'm able to fall asleep talking to him just like at home.  There are lots of things that have been hard this week like him not being here when I couldn't find Zac but I'm guessing that was hard on Drew too.  Missing him is hard but I'm lucky I have the kids and dogs to keep me company.  

I have kept myself busy cooking a lot this week.  I had a cricket meeting early in the week and I tried out a new baked cheesecake recipe which was pretty amazing.  Then on Wednesday I created a few treats to showcase my new business venture at my hairdresser.  And on Thursday night I had a group of girlfriends over for a Tupperware party and created a yummy cob loaf dip and shared a selection of my cheesecake, chocolate brownies, cupcakes and dips with my pals, all while shopping from home for some awesome plastic containers that I desperately need to organise my baking pantry!!! 

I have recently become a Your Inspiration at Home consultant, primarily these are dip mixes, dukkahs, dry spices and lots of other yummy products.  I got involved because I went to a party and couldn't decide what to buy I wanted everything!  Now I am using the YIAH products everyday I wanted to share them with everyone,  I was trying to think of a way to get these amazing products in front of lots of people without taking me away from the kids too much.  I am lucky enough that I have an amazing hairdresser who also provides yummy treats Wednesday and Thursday nights for her clients.  She has been incredibly supportive of my new business.  If you need a wonderful hairdresser or beautician give Roza and the team a call at Total Bliss in Wollongong.  

Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to put dips in various forms into the salon and also I have been creating lots of yummy cupcakes.  I am hoping that this new business venture will help keep me busy while Andrew is away for work and also transform the way we eat as a family. 

I am trying to incorporate these yummy new spices into all areas of my cooking, the best part is they are preservative and gluten free, so I know that when it comes to Zac and his coeliac I can use these and be confident they are safe for him to eat and healthy for us all by cutting out the nasty preservatives.  

Life is different for us now but I am certain we will adjust to this and be stronger for it.  Over the coming months we have some exciting things happening including renovations at home which I'm very excited about.  Meanwhile we just keep on keeping on.  We are blessed with beautiful friends and family who support us through everything so I know we will be ok.  Bring on home time I say.