Friday, October 23, 2015


There is no such thing as too much cake, well there probably is but I am yet to discover a time.  I think mainly because I don't eat that much cake.  I love to bake and in reality I don't eat all that much cake compared to the amount of cake that I bake.  My hubby on the other hand probably would say there is too much cake in our house at times.  My mum once thought I was going to kill him through food with the amount I was baking.

I have a tendency to bake when I am anxious or particularly low, I am not sure why I think it is because by baking I am giving people a part of me and sometimes that makes me feel happy for a fleeting moment or less anxious while I bake.  I was anxious on Tuesday because I was going out for the first time in the longest time to get my hair done at a friend's salon but I was going it alone, I had no-one holding my hand.  I know it is silly I really shouldn't have been worried but I was and ultimately she did the best job so there really was nothing to worry about at all.  Here is the before & after shot.

This week I have made the most lemony, lemonicious, lemon cake with crunchy topping.  Honestly this was pretty divine the recipe came from Sammie at The Annoyed Thyroid, the only change I made was that I substituted the flour for a gluten free self raising flour premix bought at any supermarket.  This cake could be easily made without a Thermomix by in the cake mixture simply substitute raw sugar for caster sugar and instead of peeling the lemon grate it and then just mix all the ingredients in a normal mix master.

Today I had a beautiful mate dropping by and while I saw that there was still some lemony goodness on the bench it was in reality a couple of days since I had made it.  I am nothing if not a good hostess and I will not serve stale cake up to anyone except well maybe family.  Though typically cake doesn't really last long enough to get stale around here, except of course lemon cake because the kids have decided they don't like it.  

So I did what any good hostess would do.  I made another cake!  This time I made the gorgeous Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim's Epic Chocolate Fudge Cake.  I did modify this a little bit mainly because I had the Thermomix there so I used that, basically I just popped all the ingredients in at the same time and mixed on speed 5 for about one minute.  I also used gluten free premix plain flour.  

Chantelle bakes hers in a square tin and decorates with sprinkles.  I only had a round tin down and wasn't climbing a ladder to get my square tin and well frankly I wanted white chocolate on top instead of sprinkles.  So I blitzed some white chocolate in the Thermomix to get my sprinkles and it is a round cake! 

The cake itself is pretty amazing but seriously the ICING was something else all together!  

I think all in all that is a pretty successful baking week.  Now all I need to do is learn how to take better photos of my cakes! 

Thank you to both Sammie and Chantelle for sharing your amazing recipes.  Have a great weekend everyone.  

Happy baking 

Cathy xoxo 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Change ...

Change is an inevitable part of life.  Change will happen regardless of how hard we try to hold on and stop it.  Change is not something that I leap at enthusiastically, in fact it would be better to describe my feelings on change as something I am dragged to kicking and screaming all while digging my heels in trying to hold onto what is or has been.

I am not sure what about change it is that I don't like.  According to the Harvard Business Review the top ten reasons that people resist change are:

*  loss of control
*  uncertainty
*  when it takes you by surprise
*  everything is different
*  loss of face
*  fear of appearing incompetent
*  can involve extra work
*  the ripple effect of the change
*  historical reasons
*  very occasionally the threat change poses is real.

Looking at this list alone starts to raise my anxiety levels.  My mind is racing off to faraway places, times, events that haven't even had time to happen yet.  I have catastrophised every single possibility even the good ones.

I wonder if my fear of change came before my anxiety or if my anxiety was as a result of lots of change that has occurred that was a) out of my control and b) in many cases resulted in difficult or traumatic outcomes of varying degrees.

I have always been the type of person that likes to know how things turn out before they happen.  I will read the first and last chapters of the book to determine whether I read the middle based on how it ends.  I get frustrated with TV shows that have series long story arcs and there is no resolution in the one hour time slot and have been known to stop watching a series for this very reason until the entire series is available on DVD so I can binge from start to finish.  I am fairly sure I wasn't always like this (my parents might argue differently.)  I am almost 100% positive that my need to control every situation has gotten worse as I have gotten older (or quite possibly more anxious without realising that was a result.)

I would say that I have always been headstrong others would perhaps say bossy and I like things to go my own way.  I truly believe that the reason for this is because I was/am so scared of the uncertainty of the change, I was/am scared of how different things would be.  I cannot control how others will cope with the change and I project my feelings about it onto them (ripple effect.)  Many, many times in my life the change whatever it may have been moving house, moving schools, having no friends, being bullied, death, cancer, and so much more where things that simply happened to me, around me or to my loved ones.  That is so very scary so for me the perceived threat (or my catastrophised thoughts of the future from the change) has in many cases been very real.

I also have this ridiculous fear of letting people down so I can think of a time when I was editing a publication for an organisation, it had a very small circulation varying of between 3-5000 copies.  I had been editing for a number of years and had taken on more responsibility and the magazine was in reality one thing I didn't need on my plate but I struggled with letting it go.  I knew that once I did that things would change with it.  I can look back now with a little bit of self-reflection and hindsight and see that it wasn't the change of the magazine that I didn't want I was scared that if things changed this meant that all the blood, sweat and tears I had put in and the countless hours I spent away from my family was for nothing, because by changing the magazine in my irrational, crazy little head that meant that people weren't happy with my work and I had been doing it wrong the whole time and I had let people down that I loved and respected.  I truly believed this (and I think still a part of me still does) but I also understand that change is inevitable and that change can be necessary to stay relevant and current, which in itself is absolutely no reflection on my efforts.

I really want to be a 'go with the flow' type of gal but I just can't do it.  It goes against everything in me and I really struggle to enjoy things if I don't know what is going to happen.  If someone was to suggest going for a drive that would fill me with dread.  Where are we going, why, how long will we be gone, what is the purpose and on.  I find it really hard to just sit back and take in the scenery of the drive or that sometimes in life there is no other purpose than just to get out of the house and do something different.  I have certainly never been a jump in the car with a few clothes go travelling kind of gal.  I am much better if I know where, when, why and how (and to be the driver!) there is a bigger chance I will enjoy things and not ruin it for everyone else if I know all of this in advance.

Lots of change in life can bring beautiful outcomes like the biggest change when I discovered I was pregnant after being told I would never have children that is a huge thing to get your head around.  I have amazing children as a result of this change in my life they are the light of my life but boy that has been a huge learning curve in letting go, this is such a hard thing to do when every fibre of your being fights against it.

You would think I would have learnt through having children is that you cannot control everything, change will happen whether you like it or not but no I didn't learn that lesson.  So perhaps that is what this season in my life is all about it is about learning to accept that which I cannot change and the strength to cope with the change that does happen.  I don't think it is as much about changing who I am but more learning to love who I am and get it to work for me instead of against me.  Let's face it we can never go back to what has been because we are different people, we are older, in some cases wiser and very possibly we in our heads have romanticised the past it can never be that way again.  We need to live in the moment and enjoy things for what they are.

Change is not always bad contrary to what I tell myself.  Change can be amazing so I am told.  I doubt I will ever be someone who leaps feet first into change but maybe one day I can at least go along more willingingly and far less fearful than I am.  Let's face it without change a caterpillar would always just be a big fat grub instead of the beautiful butterfly it becomes through change.  Robin Sharma says "Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end."  Just like the butterfly!

image source:

How are you with change?  Do you like it?  Love & thrive on it?  Or hate it just like me?  Tell me your stories.

Big Love 

Cathy xoxo 

Friday, October 2, 2015

45 years

Forty five years is a long time in anyone’s language. 

A lot of things can happen in 45 years.  In Australia we have had 12 Prime Ministers, we got out of one war and been involved in three others.  There have been world catastrophes both from human hand and Mother nature.  There have in fact been too many events to list.  So what does 45 years mean to you? 

My parents celebrated 45 years of marriage a week ago today.  Wow, you guys are awesome!  Like events on a national or world scale, marriages are full of lots of different things filled with joy, sadness, frustration, and happiness.  A marriage like life brings with it a roller coaster of events and emotions.  It is how, together as a couple you ride that roller coaster that will determine whether when you look back you appreciate the ride of life of not. 

Mum met Dad when he was serving out his time for National Service.  Dad was posted to Canberra and it is easy to see how they fell for each other.  Mum being a gorgeous 60’s gal in the typing pool and Dad being a Buddy look alike in uniform.  

Dad 1969

Mum 1969

Wedding 1970 

They started their married life in Queanbeyan before Dad’s time was up and they moved to Sydney.  For Dad to head back to work at the Bank of NSW as it was called then.  Soon after the move their little family of two became a family of three when I came along.  

Soon after my little brother Sean joined us to make us a nice little family of four.  

Sean on the day he came home    
  Sean and I

  Our little family of four

As a family of four we had lots of adventures, thanks in part to Dad’s work in the bank and in part because Mum and Dad wanted to give us lots of great memories to build our lives on.  
Our first move was from Sydney to Melbourne where we lived until just after I started school.  We moved back to Sydney and we stayed put for a little while.  Dad had an amazing opportunity with work to take us as a family to Suva, Fiji to live for a couple of years.  

Suva markets 

I can’t imagine how scary that was for everyone.  This was back in 1981 when we moved!  Back in a time of no internet so to communicate with friends and family it was mostly letters.  International calls were booked and cost a fortune.  I honestly can’t imagine what they were thinking, but boy, did we have an amazing time!  My brother & I had a great time swimming, playing and school.  We had the most amazing long weekends to the Coral Coast (on dirt roads!) staying at the resorts there.  We also went on tiny planes to island holidays with other families.  

In Fiji 

Our grandparents came to visit and we had more wonderful times exploring the holiday hot spots with them.  Then it was time to come home, we flew home first class probably the only time that will ever happen!  I remember Art Garfunkel being in first class with us, ahhh imagine that a singing legend and two pesky kids!  Our time in Fiji was something I will always treasure, we made some great memories, lifelong friends that we are still in touch with today and I survived two years without proper TV.  As much as I can’t imagine picking my kids up and moving almost anywhere, the memories and experiences you gave us moving to Fiji are irreplaceable.  Fiji will always hold a special place in my heart.  Thank you.  

Our last weekend in Fiji at the Travelodge

Coming back to Australia meant coming back home to real life.  This transition was easier for some of us than others, but it wasn’t long before we were off on our next big adventure.  We were headed to Disneyland, England and Europe!  Thank you.  

Heading off on our world trip

When we got home life was back to the familiar routine of school, work, sports and weekends for all of us.  Of course as is life there were plenty of curve balls coming our way.  My teenage were a delight for everyone.  My brother’s driving gave Mum & Dad more than one reason for concern.  Somehow, we all survived.  I think this has a lot to do with Dad’s incredible patience and Mum’s incredible love for us all, we didn’t only survive we still loved each other at the end.  

Our family expanded to a family of five when Sean & Jeannine got married.  Soon after Andrew became a regular fixture too when we got married.  Mum and Dad you showed me that a strong lasting marriage is not who lives through the good times but how we get through the tough times that is far more important.  

Over the next few years at fairly regular intervals we increased the size of our family with the adored grandchildren Zac, Lachlan, Charlotte & Lillian, Henry & Dylan.  After nearly 37 years we were complete, their once little family of two had swelled to 12.  

We have faced more than a few curve balls in the last few years - but through it all the cornerstones of our family Mum & Dad have been there for us all.  Their steadfast love for each other has enabled them to support and teach Sean and I all our lives.  They have been amazing roles models through their work ethic, love, compassion and so much more.  In fact they have so many great qualities as a couple, sibling, parent, child and friend there are too many to list.  

Dad retired a few years ago and Mum is still working part time.  They are amazing grandparents to all of our children who just adore spending time with them, whether they are going fishing or having fires and eating burnt marshmallows.  A coupe of years ago Mum was able to fulfil her dream of taking the whole family back to Disneyland in Anaheim , to share the experience that Sean and I had with our children.  

The 12 of us in Disneyland

This year has been a particularly tough one for my little family and through it all the strong family bond that Mum and Dad have fostered since we were born has helped us through everything.  Mum and Dad taught us that it is the sickness in “sickness & health” and the bad in “good & bad” that we can never plan for but we need to be there the most for each other.  Just like we all stood by Sean’s family when they faced their family challenge a few years ago.  

Mum and I 

Mum and Dad this is for you.  Congratulations on 45 years.  You are both such amazing people and fantastic role models to me personally.  I can only hope that when Andrew & I celebrate our 45 years that our children will look back over our lives and feel the same way.  If we have been half the example that you have been to us then we will have done well. Love you both. 

Cathy xoxo