Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 can go get stuffed ... here's to 2016

It is not secret at all that 2015 has been a pretty long tough year for me and well frankly just about everyone I know has been through something life changing who knows perhaps it was something in the air!  I will be glad to see the back of it as I am certain many others will be too.  It is often hard to remember the good things that happen unless they are huge!

On that note here are a few things I am incredibly grateful for in 2015:

*  My beautiful family and the friends I have been blessed with
*  I have managed to get a few things back to "normal" (whatever that is) like knitting, crochet, baking

Of course there are all the normal things like jobs, health, children, food on the table etc.  I think in my case the very fact that I am here to enjoy all the everyday normal things is something to be grateful for.

On that note I honestly think I would like to leave 2015 behind and start a new.  That doesn't mean that things are very different for me in that I still have lots of memory loss (though I can usually fake it through a day if I need to - thank God for fb!), I still have a long way to go with lots of things but I have the support I need to be able to do that.  I have over and over thanked everyone for standing by me this year and I truly mean that.

So instead of looking back I want to look forward, I have lots of things I want to do, lots of dreams but for now I will be happy to get up tomorrow and remember what I did today.

In 2016 some things I want to do:

*  I want to keep getting well
*  I want to learn how to make dumplings
*  I want to get off my walking stick
*  I want my driver's licence back
*  I want to at least double my writing on my blog

Somethings I will do to occupy my time:

*  Read books at the moment I am enjoying The Chocolate Promise by Josephine Moon
*  Knit and crochet ... I appear to have a long list of scarves I need to knit
*  Write lots of my writing barely makes sense to me but at least I keep writing.  One day I hope to turn it into something meaningful but we will see
*  Now that my toe isn't hurting as much get back on my bike and start getting my 30mins a day back into my routine
*  Write more often on here

Somethings I hope to do:

*  Catch up with friends more often even if that means them coming to me
*  Investigate an idea I have and how it would be possible to bring it to life
*  Finally start some actual real work on a book I have been looking at for nine years now

Image source: life, love and hiccups

I have lots of other dreams but these are not resolutions in anyway, they are very much long term plans for the future.  So they are not related just to 2016 as much as they are to 2016 and beyond!  I saw this today on Down that little lane and I think this is a great idea for 2016.  These are things I will need to think about so I will get back to you on these.

I am spending tonight with my family, parents, aunties, uncles, and a cousin and his family.  It will be a nice night surrounded by lots of love but very low key which is exactly how I like it.

Lastly the biggest thank you to everyone who has in anyway supported me this year it helps me more than you know.

I hope that whatever you do for NYE you have a lovely time and see you on the flip side!

Image source:  little paper lane

hugsCathy xoxo 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

Last night on Christmas Eve Eve, we had a lovely catch up with friends and a surprise visit from my Uncle who was working in the area.  We were missing a some very dear friends who are living in America for the next few years.  They may not physically be here but they are always in our hearts.

Christmas can be a very busy time catching up with everyone.  It can also be a very reflective time of year.  Many people are missing loved ones because they are no longer here, or because they are separated by time or distance.  Others are separated for other reasons like work and that can also be incredibly difficult heading off to work on a day when it can feel like the rest of the world is sitting around and having fun.  We also think of the Emergency Services who keep us safe and well at Christmas time please look after yourselves so that they can get home safely to their families at the end of their shift.  Whatever the reason is it can be hard seeing all the joyous celebrations and reminders of what they do not have.  Spare a thought for them.  We also think of those who have nowhere to go or be at Christmas may you find shelter, warmth, a nice meal and some company to share it with.  

For my family Christmas is a time of religious significance where we celebrate the birth of Christ.  We do this through heading to Church, reflection on the year that has passed, the blessings that we have, time with our families and we also exchange gifts.  The tradition of gift giving at Christmas time is symbolic of the wise men offering gifts to Joseph & Mary in the stable when Christ was born.

The year that we have had has been an incredibly challenging one for us as a family including our wider families included in that is our friends as well.  Hopefully though we are through the worst of it and we can can focus on what is in front and not what has gone.  It has also I think (well from my notes and journals) one of growth for us as a family as well.  We have learnt that we have a resilience to bounce back; a strength to keep going even when it felt too hard; love lots and lots of love for each other and also we are surrounded by lots of love and it is this love that keeps us going; hope, that tomorrow will come and it will bring a new hope, a fresh beginning and a new book that is yet to be written.  Life without a sense of hope can be very scary but with every sunset is a promise of a new tomorrow and that brings with it a sense of hope even if it is just a glimmer it is there! 

Sure we have had some really tough times in the midst of all of this where we have all had to search deep down inside and find those reserves of energy to keep on going on.  There have been days on end when I was not just doing it one foot in front of the other but at times I was down to breath by breath.  Knowing that I was surrounded by all of love, hope, faith, and support it helped others were able to carry all of those things for me as a beacon like a lighthouse for me to aim at.  Life is by no means a picnic for me even now.  But I think it is better.  Every day is still very tough and confusing but that is ok, I love to write so I take lots of notes which helps, to orientate myself.  

Christmas will be down time for us as a family which will be nice.  We will get to see loved ones we haven't seen for a long time.  We will get to spend time with each other (I think this will be nice - though please feel free to remind me of this when I am moaning about the kids getting on each others nerves.) 

I just want to take this opportunity to THANK everyone who has supported me or my family in anyway at all this year.  There are simply far too many people to thank individually but our wider families have been an enormous support to us and I know that we couldn't have gotten to here without that.  Our friends who have supported us physically and emotionally throughout this year we really couldn't have done it without you.  Our wider communities of schools, community groups and churches have been incredibly important this year as well.  All of this will not be forgotten (well it might be in the morning but I have it all written down I promise) and may we be there for you in your hour of need as well.  

Lastly wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Nice Public Holiday whatever the season means to you and your family enjoy it, hold your children tight, tell your family you love them (even the ones that annoy you), and most importantly keep safe.  If you are driving on the roads take it easy better to arrive a little bit late than not at all.  

love and hugs Cathy xoxo 

Do they know it's Christmas? Band Aid 1984

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

'tis the season to be merry ...

We call it the silly season for a reason.  Everyone gets a little bit silly at this time of the year.  There are lots of parties and lots of get togethers with all sorts of people.  Work functions, friends, families, end of year breakups everywhere and all of this brings with it lots of eating and drinking.

As a non-drinker I think it has been at least a good four years since I had a drink.  I don't not drink because it is better for me, well kind of it is that but it is because some years ago I had a significant growth on my liver and I had that removed.  For a little while after that it was great I could enjoy a drink or two and not feel sick but then it all came back basically my liver just doesn't like me drinking anymore.  Perhaps I did far too much of it in my younger years (I know I certainly had more than my fair share!)

Anyway, these days I don't drink at all.  Which I think has been really great for my friends and family who knew that they always had a designated driver.  These days sadly, I am not even that useful.  I am not allowed to drive for now and I don't drink.

With all this merriment upon us it can be quite a little bit boring for me when we go out.  The standard non-alcoholic drinks that are on offer are usually fruit juice, soft drinks, soda water with flavouring or soda water with fruit juice or sometimes a non-alcoholic fruit punch a la '70s style with canned fruit chunks sometimes frozen in a ring!

So that set me on a mission.  I found the usuals as I mentioned above.  Then I discovered a few others on The Merry Thought site. 

And a few more Spring Cocktails here

In the past I have taken a bottle of Appletiser with me places so that with a little strawberry in it drinking out of a champagne flute I don't feel so out of place.  I don't mind a drop of Appletiser so I wondered if they had some ideas for mocktails and to my great happiness they did! 

Here are a few of my favourites and I am going to send this along to my Dad so he has the ingredients to make me a few over the Christmas/New Year break.  

Apple Garden Fizz 

Appletiser, to top (approx. 500ml)
Cucumber, chopped into 2cm chunks
8 strawberries, hulled and chopped in halves
12 mint leaves, torn
Apple, chopped into 2cm chunks
1 orange wedge per drink, for garnish
Lime juice, to taste

Add all ingredients to an ice filled jug and stir well.
Pour into an ice filled wine glass
Garnish with an orange wedge and a mint sprig.

Fruit Cooler 

Soda Water
Appletiser\White Grapetiser
Crushed Ice

Add all the ingredients into a jug except the ice and serve in a highball glass over crushed ice 

Virgin Mojito 

10 Mint leaves, chopped
1 Shot of Lime juice
1 Shot of sugar syrup
Top up with soda water if it is too sweet

Mix all the ingredients together and pour into chilled tumblers.
Rim the glass with mojito sugar if you have it.

Berry Sweetheart

Red Cranberry Juice
White or Red Grapetiser

Add all the ingredients and serve in a martini glass rimmed with sugar, ice and a slice of lime.

Apple Paloma

Appletiser, to top
60ml grapefruit juice
10ml lime juice
10ml sugar syrup
Grapefruit & Apple wedge, to garnish

Add all the ingredients except Appletiser to an ice filled shaker.
Shake and strain into an ice filled highball glass and top with Appletiser.
Garnish with a grapefruit and apple wedge

To find these and many more ideas you can go to Appletiser.  You can also find lots more alcoholic and non-alcoholic options.  All photos and recipes for the Appletiser/Grapetiser mocktails have been used courtesy of Appletiser. 

I was also flicking through recipes of mine and thought that this might also work.  No photo sorry I haven’t made it yet!

Fruit Shaker

Any type of fruit you like that goes together would work here.

250g Strawberries
250g Pineapple
500g Sorbet (any that works for you would be fine)
500g Vanilla ice cream
Soda water

Put it all ingredients into a blender and blend until all combined. 
Pour into a glass about 2/3 full and top slowly with soda water.

As you can see there are lots of really fancy non-alcoholic options that you can have and not feel as though you are missing out on all the fun.  Whether it be by choice or not you no longer have to feel like a social pariah if you don’t drink alcohol.

Have a great Christmas & New Year 

Til next time

Cathy xoxo

Monday, December 21, 2015

I have really lost my mind

Oh boy I think I have lost the plot.  I was actually considering blogging about craft!  Anyone who knows me will know that craft and I are not words that would normally be used in the same sentence.

I even took progress photos 

Of what I was working on that is until I cut it out only to be told by the children that we had no glue.  Then I thought no worries I will use sticky tape but you know what I got lost in the instructions.  

I have a mate and her kids coming over tomorrow and I was thinking if I could do it then maybe it would keep the kids occupied if it is still raining.  But I pretty much got lost in what to do after I cut it all out. 

So rather than me continuing I thought I would just include the link to where I found the original idea, they are called Flextangles.  If you are wanting the template or to make them all the instructions are on the website above.  I thought it looked cool and that maybe it would be fun to make, you might too.  Here is a video all about them. 

til next time I loose my mind 

Cathy xoxo 

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...

Here we are the week of Christmas.  Australia is typically throwing at us some really unusual weather there are bushfires, storms, droughts, pouring rain in Wollongong and the potential for Tropical Cyclones up North later in the week you take your pick.  Though this is almost typical weather for the Australian summer these days.

As is usual for us at this time of year the kids are on holidays.  My eldest has come home from a week away with his grandparents sounds like it was great fun for him.  Golf, fishing, dinner out, birthday celebrations for my Uncle it was a hard week away.  Oh well back home now being put to good use.  

The girls are on their first full week of holidays.  It would seem that in reality they are still catching up on that end of year exhaustion that comes with school, end of year school concerts, dancing concerts and just being busy girls who never seem to be able to keep their room tidy.  Though a quick scan of my friend's on Facebook tells me that I am not alone in the battleground that is our children's bedrooms.  I think I will take the approach of simply closing the door and if they can't find it tough.  

I am truly not sure if the dogs are enjoying all these people home or not! 

We are in that last week, that final throw before Christmas is over and gone for another year.  It seems crazy when you think about it we have this huge incredible build up it lasts a day or two depending on the family celebrations and then it is over for another year.  I think most of the presents are bought with a good portion wrapped and under the tree, with the last few needing to be finalised this week.  

The wall of Santa photos plus some of my nephews

For me Christmas also means baking, making sweet treats, and all sorts of little things like that.  This year I have not made nearly as much as I would in previous years but that is ok. I am sure that people love me for more than just my sweet treats.  In saying that I have made a few varieties of fudge and some amazing passionfruit melting moments this afternoon because well I needed a pick me up! 

It's an old family recipe and they are so good! 

I am still trying to finish off a few handmade gifts.  Hopefully I will get it all done.  

This year for the first time in the longest time we are having a lovely little Christmas at home with just the 5 of us.  My plan for lunch is a Turkey loaf full of yummy goodness including bacon and some cold ham served up with veggies.  I can pre-make the turkey loaf on Christmas Eve so I will only need to cook the veggies on Christmas day.  I will try to remember to take photos and share the recipe if it is any good! Christmas with my family will be down the coast and with hubby's family is in a restaurant this year for something different (it will certainly save on cleaning up!) 

We have had our yearly Santa photo and this year was the first time since 2001 that hubby and I jumped in the photo too.  We figured it has been a while since we have had a family photo and this would make a cheap one lol.  It is likely to be another 14 years until we jump in again! 

We all love Santa who doesn't! 

Christmas time it seems is causing my anxiety to go through the roof.  Hubby told me today that I need to stop stressing about Christmas and let it all just happen.  I am certain he is right though it really is fair easier said than done.

He tells me to stop stressing yet he is the one with bottle of Bourbon stashed amongst my wool!

Anyway, I am off to eat my passionfruit melting moment and drink my Chai Latte.  I am sure we will all get through the next few days and see the enjoyment on the faces of the kids as they open up all their presents.  

Passionfruit melting moment

Chai Latte

Til next time 

Hugs Cathy xoxo 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Family and Friends are important all the time.

It is the crazy silly season.  That time of year when everyone wants a piece of you and everyone wants to catch up.  There are 364 other days of the year that it is possible to catch up too but no it all has to happen in the space of one month per year.  This is of course in and around end of year sporting commitments, school award ceremonies, graduation dinners, end of year dance concerts, work get togethers, you name it there is typically something on the calendar for most days in the month of December.

This all of course needs to happen in and around normal school, work and extra curricula activities and preparing for the silly season.  Which includes buying that perfect gift for the mother in law or finding the ingredients for that perfect alternative to the traditional trifle that will still keep old Aunt Dot happy even though it isn't quite trifle.

Sometimes though the ones we really love and really want to spend time with are the ones we brush aside thinking that there will always be next year or they love me so they will understand.  Which of course is true we do make allowances for those who we love.  But should we?  Shouldn't it be the other way around?  Shouldn't the ones that we make the priority to spend special holidays with be our loved ones instead of people that we don't hear from any other time of the year?

This clip has been sitting in my drafts since 3/12/15.  I watched it again tonight to see why I had put it there.  I cried!  I guess I put it in drafts because I really couldn't find the words to put with it that would make any real sense.

I think all that needs to be said is that every day is precious don't put off seeing your loved ones whether it be family or friends.  Make them the priority not all the other things that fill our lives.  The gifts and time spent at work are not the things that will be remembered it is the time and the memories we have made together that we will treasure the most of all.  Make the time and don't make excuses to not spend time with those we love the most.  We never know what is coming around the corner.

Cathy xoxo 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

12 Days of Christmas

I have over the last 12 days been following along the Black Dog Institute's 12 days of Christmas.  They have been sharing tips on how to make the holiday period less stressful.  I thought that I would simply collate all 12 into one place and share them with you.  

Day One: Work out priorities, keep a list
Prioritise tasks in order of importance and tick them off when they are done. Make the tasks realistic- don’t burden yourself with impracticable goals which will only stress you out.

The festive season is a great time to make the important people in your life your top priorities and attend to these relationships.

Day Two- Think before you agree

We often agree to situations to meet other people’s expectations. There is no better example of this than the holiday season, when we try to squeeze everything into our diaries.

Practise saying “no” to requests that are unreasonable or more than you can handle at the time- rather than suffer subsequent regrets and stress.

Day Three- Practice Relaxing

Take time out for yourself and focus on breathing deeply.

Pay attention to each breath in and out as they follow rhythmically one after the other. This will ground you in the present and help you to move into a state of awareness and relaxation.

Day Four- Identify your Stressors

Make a list of events which leave you emotionally drained. Once you have identified your stressors, connect each event with one or two ways to reduce the stress.

When these situations then arise, use them as an opportunity to practise stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing and note what works for next time.

Day Five- Take your Time

Don’t let people rush you.

Frenzied activities lead to errors, regrets and stress. If you feel like you are being rushed, request time to orient yourself to the situation before proceeding. Where possible, plan ahead and arrive at appointments early, composed and having made allowances for unexpected hold-ups.

Day Six- Set aside time for exercise and recreation
Allow time for yourself. Gentle repetitive exercise such as walking, swimming and cycling are great to relieve stress brought on by the inevitable end of year rush.

Or perhaps you would prefer some meditation, yoga, Pilates and dance? The trick is to find what suits you best. Hobbies that demand your attention are also valuable as they can provide a much needed sense of individual achievement and satisfaction.

Day Seven- Think Positively.

Smile whenever possible, you will be amazed at the difference this can make to how you feel.

If a difficult situation arises, try to walk away with a positive thought, this will help you deal with stressful times in the future.

Image by Matthew Johnstone

Day Eight- Watch your alcohol intake.
It’s easy to get caught up in the festive spirit and sometimes a drink or two can feel like the solution, but this is only temporary.
Drinking can create more problems in terms of physical and mental health.

Consider moderating your alcohol intake or switching to a healthier alcohol-free alternative like coconut water.

Day Nine- Perform small acts of kindness

Performing five kind acts a week creates a measurable boost to levels of psychological well-being. Giving not only makes you feel good about yourself, it enhances your connection with others and can bring you positive feedback from others.

Day Ten- Don’t do it alone

For some of us Christmas can be an overwhelming and occasionally isolating time, but we don’t have to do it alone.

If times get tough pick up the phone and talk to someone you trust. Or if you need help, don’t be afraid to contact one of our friends:

Lifeline: 13 11 14
beyondblue: 1300 22 4636
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800

Day Eleven- Live in the Moment

Try this one minute exercise: Sit in front of a clock or watch that you can use to time the passing of one minute. Your task is to focus your entire attention on your breathing and nothing else, for the minute.

Have a go- try it now.

Day Twelve- Have fun

It is important to not get caught up in all the festive planning and forget to enjoy yourself. Join in the festivities, be a bit silly and have fun!

Tis’ the season after all.

I hope that these tips help just a little bit and most importantly remember you are not alone. 

Cathy xoxo