Another year older!

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They say with age comes maturity. I don’t know about that. To be mature you have reached the most advanced stage of a process, or are fully developed. I don’t think we EVER reach this point. Although we technically are fully grown by our late teens, we never really stop developing. We go through various stages of transformation throughout our life span. And this is pretty darn exciting because it means there’s room for growth!

It is my birthday today and I have had a few people comment on my age, especially when they find out that I am 37. Well, at least those who are older than me. I don’t know if they thought I was older due to our kids being a similar age, or if I look older than what I am. It is as if they suddenly feel older. I would hate to think that my age might affect someone in a negative way! I usually never say my age and often just refer to myself as ‘a few years short of 40’.

But today is different. Today I embrace that I turned 37. That I am 1 year older. That I am content with my life. That I am in love with life. That it took me 37 years to be in a position to say “c’est la vie”. That I am not afraid of a number. That everyday, good or bad, is a blessing. That I am me.

That’s life, come what may!

 

Day 129 9 May – black&white

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I have mentioned in my post that I use to draw. I started art from an early age and discovered my knack for pencil drawing in my early teens. Although I was taught still life drawing while attending art lessons, drawing animals (mainly portraits) have always been my comfort and specialty.

The owl I roughly drew with pen is currently in our shop, not on display but it is visible to our clients. Today a client approached me and commented on the drawing. She said that she wondered how much it will cost to have that exact drawing done. Little does she know that I am the owner of it. I told her that there isn’t a price attached to the pen drawing as it is really just a draft so to speak. She went on saying how much value her mother-in-law place on owls as it is her Iwi’s crescent. She said that she would love to give her that drawing as a Mother’s Day gift. I hesitated and mentioned that I drew it and that it will take several hours to properly re-create the drawing. She was willing to pay for my time and seeing as we are saving for a family holiday (more info on that at a later time) I accepted.

I had 4 incomplete days before she collects the drawing. I was very happy with the drawing for the first 2 hours. Some aspects of the face was near perfect, but then I fumbled with the proportion of the cheeks and one side is smaller than the other. I didn’t have time to start over again and I don’t believe in using erasers when drawing. I informed the client but she was still very happy for me to continue. It took me roughly 5 hours to finish. I worked approximately an hour and a half per day. Self-doubt was constantly gnawing at me, making me want to tear the paper up and throw my pencils away. I find that the essence of therapy doesn’t occur until long after the drawing is complete. When I can stand back and look at the finished product as any other person would. When I am no longer the artist but an admirer.

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The client informed me afterwards that her mother-in-law cried when she received the gift and that makes it all worth my while.

 

Day 116 26 April – oatilicious

I am not a huge breakfast eater at home. Now I don’t mind going out to a cafè, sit, relax and eat till my tummy is satisfied but that’s a luxury we don’t have at the moment so home cooked breakfasts it shall be. I usually have egg or avo on toast, and there was a time when I enjoyed muesli, fruit and yogurt but the trend seems to wear off and I get bored with my meals.

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I’ve seen some incredible creations lately of oatmeal and/or smoothie bowls so this morning I tried making something hearty and warm for myself and the kids. Luckily my pantry is stocked with rolled oats as I often use it for baking the kids’ school treats. The rest of the ingredients I sourced from the freezer and fridge. I made a mixed berry oatmeal, topped with sliced plum, almonds and additional berries. I lightly sprinkled cinnamon sugar over as I know my kids will ask if they can add some sweetner.

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Breakfast took me 10 minutes to make and it was filling and satisfying. With winter approaching this will surely become a favorite in the house.

What is your go-to winter breakfast?

Procrastibaking – when there’s a pile of laundry to iron but you bake instead

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My sister tagged me in a post on Facebook to which I could only giggle as it is so very true. I have always enjoyed baking but only truly found my passion for it over the past few years. I think it came about when I started baking to fundraise for my daughter’s gymnastics competitions back in 2011. We had additional costs that year as we were travelling up to Auckland from Cambridge once a week for extensive training. I started out by baking one of the best biscuits I had ever tasted called Death by Chocolate biscuits. It is not an easy biscuit to bake compare to the ones I bake now, but they are devilish good. Rich, sweet, decadent and literally melt in the mouth.

Soon afterwards my husband bought me my first Nigella Lawson cookbook. I have made several of her desserts and baked goods but what I love the most about her books is the way she writes them. You might as well be having a one-on-one conversation with her. It’s personal, funny, witty, just like her.

Baking cakes only started in 2013 when I worked for a company where sharing your baking was considered the best thing since slice bread. At first I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes (the seasoned company bakers) so I didn’t bake anything for the first few months. It was only when we moved to our new premises in April 2014 and we lost more than 1/2 of our workforce that I brought my baking in. I baked traditional and fail proof cakes, muffins and biscuits at first. It was through the encouragement of my work mates that I started experimenting with flavours and cake combinations. Whatever I baked I took with to work. I baked for individual employees, whether it was to celebrate their birthday or send them off as a farewell. I felt great joy when I could share these baked goods with them. My most memorable cake was the Hummingbird Cake which I baked for the sales manager’s farewell. It was rustic and full of flavour and oh so pretty.

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Today I still mainly bake to share. I bake to give as gifts, to show love and empathy when friends loose a loved one, for my husband to share at work (expecially when the ladies ask for anything sweet with chocolate). One of those cakes was a traditional Black Forest Cherry Gateau. I baked it for my husband’s birthday so naturally he took it into work for everyone to share.

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I bake because I learn something new every time. I bake because I can’t think of anything more satisfying to do. I bake because nothing smells more divine than the aroma of freshly baked cookies. I bake because I owe it to myself to enjoy food.

Day 101 11 April – pen pal

 

 

My daughter started writing to a pen pal this year. At first I thought we should look at pen pal groups online, but knowing what a slightly disillusioned world we live in I mentioned to her that perhaps she should write to someone we both know of but haven’t had any contact with in 9 years.

One of my best friends in South Africa has a daughter a year younger than her. My daughter was only 3 1/2 when we left South Africa and although her and my friend’s daughter use to spend a lot of time together she doesn’t remember her. My daughter was very excited about the idea of writing to someone else so far away. I told her what a lovely feeling it is receiving mail the ‘old fashioned’ way. Knowing that someone took the time to carefully put their words together on paper, add a photo or two, pay for postage. It is something an email or instant message can’t replace.

This off course brought back the memories of my own pen pal writing days. I remember that I found my pen pal on the pages in one of these vibrant teen magazines. During my early teens mobile phones (if you were lucky to have one) were the size of bricks and you could only make or receive phone calls. Yes we had computers but again that was a luxury not all families had and as a family we never used emails until I was much older. So writing letters and  make landline phone calls was still the best and most efficient way to communicate.

The pen pal I choose to write to was a young teenager who farmed with his family. Writing to only a name at the time, not knowing anything about the person who might (or might not) write back was pretty exciting. I was very fortunate that he respond and several weeks later I received a letter back. I can’t remember where he was from as I have since lost all the letters, but he was a year or so older than me, lived some distance away and even though he attended school, he spend most of his days on the farm. He was really lovely to write to and it always remained platonic. Thinking about it now, I not only wrote to a complete stranger but also provided them our address of residence which in hind sight was probably neglectful, but my parents didn’t see any danger to it as back then we were reasonably sheltered from wrong doings. No one thought of the ‘what could happen if’ scenarios. We felt safe.

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Today my daughter received her pen pal letter! I will treasure her facial expression when she opened the mail box and retrieved from it a letter marked with foreign stamps and beautifully neat hand writing. She opened her letter and read it out load. There were two photos accompanying the letter which she had since pinned to her board in her room. While she read the letter she would laugh at funny bits her newly found friend wrote, or exclaimed ‘I didn’t know that’ as she explains in her letter how far away they live from the beach, or how big her school is.

These are the type of memories I want to instill in my children.

Let the journey begin.

Day 83 24 March – gratitude

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Today I received a card from my friend who left New Zealand a short while ago to finish her travels before she heads home. It was such a lovely surprise and it made me feel such gratitude towards our friendship.

I was reminded again, through this small gesture, of how important it is to be surrounded by people who add value to your life, who will walk an extra mile with you and who still thinks of you even though you are apart. I am truly grateful to have met some amazing people throughout my 36 years on earth. But I have also learned that unfortunately not everyone has good intentions. We need to cut ties with those who munipulates, distracts, adds negativity and do not have our best interests at heart. It certainly isn’t an easy thing to do and I had often kept ‘friends’ around out of guilt and not wanting to hurt their feelings or be portrayed as the bad one.

I remember how I had a huge friendship group while in primary school. Honestly, we could have formed our own gang. I was never bullied, never exchanged bad words to anyone or felt that I didn’t get along with any of the children in my year group. After primary school the majority of us moved to the same highschool while others went to a technology focused highschool. It was interesting seeing how these friendships from primary school soon withered as we formed new friendships. All of my newly formed friends were students from other primary schools. I still had contact with the boys who attended the technology school and we got together on a regular basis, whether it was to go to the movies, each others birthday parties or to the drive-in.

I went to university a year after highschool and attended one of its local campuses. All of my friends had since moved on from highschool, most going to universities in the larger cities and others started working. A small handful travelled overseas and had since settled in places such as the UK, Italy, Brazil. My university friends had become my family. We have been through so much together: engagements, weddings, stork teas, our children’s births, birthdays. And today it’s them who I treasure.

I think with age comes a sense a responsibility towards yourself.

 

Day 64 5 March – kitchen improvements

We moved into our current house 3 1/2 years ago. The landlord had a lot of promising envisions for the kitchen, one being the splash back. We reminded him numerous times to have it put in as the kitchen wall is now being plastered with food splatters, and it is becoming a sight for sore eyes. Well, after all this time we finally took it upon our hands, went out and bought the splash back and put it in ourselves. He will eventually reimburse us.

And how it makes a huge improvement to the kitchen. It is glossy, shiny, new and the stained wall in now well hidden. It almost inspires me to keep the kitchen spotless…I said almost!

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And what a great way to christen this splash back than to buy Donna Hay’s latest foodie magazine and make something summery, bright and zingy. We are still deciding on what that something will be, but I know it will be delightful.

It might be autumn, but it’s summer in my kitchen.

Day 59 28 February – last day of summer

I feel like crying! Even though we will still have several warm days ahead *fingers crossed* during March, today officially marks the last day of summer in beautiful Aotearoa. There isn’t enough words in the dictionary to describe how much I LOVE SUMMER. The early morning sunlight desperately trying to peek through the curtains into the bedroom, the late evening walks along the beach front, the ice cream buying dash, the slip. slop. slap philosophy to ensure you don’t burn to a crisp, the cicadas buzzing loudly all day long.

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This morning was another stunner of a sunrise. Pushing my depressed thoughts aside, I went outside phone in hand, took a deep breath, smiled and took photos of the painted sky. I walked around the back of the house which oversees the polo training paddocks and captured the fog ever so gently forming an eerie layer over the fields. The fog is usually an indication of cooler mornings yet sunny days, and today was just that. I’m glad I took the time to take these photos as it lifted my spirit instantaneously and my day turned out pretty good.

Cheers summer, until next December.