Monday, 30 December 2013

I'm quitting!

So, I've recently been diagnosed with GERD. To live with this, one doctor says that I can have a normal diet, but another says I actually need to be really strict with what I eat, as my body is repairing, and to reduce the risk of further damage to my oesophagus, etc. Well, I have not been really strict. Or even a little bit strict.

Because of this, I've realised recently that I am completely addicted to sugar. I would easily (and often) accidentally eat through a whole packet of lollies and an entire box of ice creams... Sometimes within an hour! I've decided that I need to do something about it. And so, I'm going to give up sugar (just for a month!) in the new year.

For me, this "sugar" includes lollies, chocolates, biscuits, cakes, ice cream, and soft drinks - everything that sugar is added to, either physically by me when I cook, or is already part of the main ingredients. I'm not going super hardcore giving up particular fruits, breads and pastas. No way, José! One step at a time, eh?

I know this won't be easy. I am imagining headaches, unbearable cravings, and constant stress! And that's going to happen on Day #1. January is going to be really hard! But I've researched and researched benefits of cutting sugar out of the diet. My body (and life) will benefit from cleaner eating.

Has anyone else given up sugar? Have you remained sugar-free? How hard was it on a scale of 1 to "Just hand over that chocolate bar or I'll punch you in the face!"? Do you have any tips that might help myself and/or others be successful in giving up sugar?

Here's a poem I stumbled upon the other day:

'Twas the week after Christmas, and all through the house,
Nothing would fit me, not even a blouse.
The cookies I'd nibble, the eggnog I'd taste,
All the holiday parties had gone to my waist.

When I got on the scales, there arose such a number!
When I walked to the store (less a walk, more a lumber)
I'd remember the marvellous meals I'd prepared,
The gravies and sauces, and beef nicely rared...

The wine and the rum balls, the bread and the cheese,
And the way that I'd never said "No, thank you, please"
As I dressed myself in my husband's old shirt,
And prepared once again to battle the dirt...

I said to myself, as only I can
"You can't spend the winter dressed like a man!"
So away with the last of the sour cream dip,
Get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip.

Every last bit of food that I like must be banished
'Til all the additional ounces have vanished.
I won't have a cookie, not even a lick,
I'll want only to chew on a long celery stick.

I won't have hot biscuits, or cornbread, or pie.
I'll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.
I'm hungry, I'm lonesome, and life is a bore...
But isn't that what January is for?

Unable to giggle,
No longer a riot.
Happy New Year to all,
And to all a good diet.

Sadly, the author is unknown! I thought it was brilliant, and my favourite line is the carrot one. It reminded me of this picture I've seen floating around the internet, too:

So... Is anyone else keen to join me
on this quest for better health in January??

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

JOY to the WORLD!!


Late last night (of all nights) I decided to begin constructing a gingerbread house (which wasn't actually a gingerbread house, because it was made of shortbread). After seeing photos of many other gingerbread house creations, I also wanted to make one! But, different.

You may or may not remember, but I wrote about a friend's book launch I went to a few months ago for her book Wonderfully Madison. The launch day coincided with the birth of famous royal birth, Prince George, and I wrote some thoughts regarding royal births.

Thousands of years ago, God had made a promise to this guy called David, that one of his descendants would be king, and his kingdom would rule forever (see 2 Samuel 7:1-13). Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth- the beginning of the answer to that promise (see Matthew 1:1-25 or Luke 2:2-21). To me as a Christian, that's a pretty big deal.

This morning at church, I was reminded that Christmas isn't just about remembering Jesus' birth. He grew up into a man (a perfect man), who performed many amazing miracles; who taught his friends what it meant to follow Him; who calmed the wind and waves with his voice; and, who was beaten and killed because of humanity's rebellion against God. He was born king, and he died on the cross as king. And, he rose again, still as king, whose rule is forevermore. Christmas is just part of the incredible story of God's love for us (see the whole Bible).

So, I made this "gingerbread" house,
representing that very first Christmas Day :)

It is simple. It didn't take me that long to complete. I didn't spend hours agonising about where I am going to put all the marshmallows, Smarties, or musk sticks (and trust me, as a perfectionist - it usually does!!!).

It is purposefully simple, because God's love for us is perfectly simple (see John 3:16). And so today I proudly sing:


Merry Christmas!! :)

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Eve!

It's Christmas Eve! Which means there's only:




Which also means it's time to share some last-minute Christmas treats and decorations I've made, because after tomorrow, it's too late! Life becomes about New Years Eve plans, and making "resolutions" for 2014. Lights start to come down; Christmas trees are packed away; recycling bins are full and await to be collected...

Anyway, here we go!


Inspired by various looking Christmas pudding-looking cake pops I've seen lately (which aren't actually made with Christmas pudding), I wanted to make some with Christmas pudding!

I used my cake pop tray to mould the Christmas pudding into shapes (which ended up being a waste of time because the chocolate didn't go on as smoothly as I had hoped!)

N.B. Christmas pudding is a lot heavier than chocolate sponge cake!

I used white chocolate ice magic for the 'sauce' part, but had to hold the fondant holly and red M 'n' Ms in place until it was set enough...

The Christmas pudding originated in England, and various 'charms' were often inserted into the mixture, granting particular luck to the one who found them in their serve of pudding. Sadly, these pudding pops don't have coins, rings, thimbles, anchors, or mini wishbones inside them, but really, everyone's a winner when Christmas pudding is served!


Inspired by a friend's Christmas tinsel-like decoration made the same way, I wanted to make a  fabric Christmas wreath.

I bent and shaped a wire coat hanger to be as round as possible. I had green, red, and white strips of fabric ready to be tied onto the hanger. One by one, I tied them in knots around the wire. Of course, I had a pattern of how the fabric would be tied on (dark green, dark green, light green, light green, red/white), and eventually, eventually, it's finished and you can add a bow or hang a giant bauble in the middle of it with a rubber band, or just leave it as a plain wreath :)

I had also made mini fruit mince pies out of puff pastry and Robertson's Traditional Fruit Mince in a mini cupcake tray... I had put mini puff pastry stars on top of them, too... But, I forgot to take photos of them! I can tell you (unbiasedly, of course) that they were really tasty, especially still warm right out of the oven.

Hope you have a good night's sleep this Christmas Eve!! :)

Friday, 20 December 2013

Dear Santa...

Ah, Santa Claus. The man whom everyone has a different opinion about... Don't worry. I'm not going to write a post about my views on Santa. I'm going to share a creative Santa-based cupcake I have just made!

Much like the pretzel reindeer pops that were inspired by stumbling upon creative and tasty Christmas treats on the internet, I'm sure you've seen these before, too.


Made on chocolate cupcakes, I piped buttercream icing, dipped it in coconut, placed the strawberry on top, and put some more buttercream icing and sprinkled coconut on top. So simple, yet so so tasty!

I love Christmas, I really do. It's an incredibly busy time, but especially this year, I'm so excited about it! I enjoy watching Christmas movies (my favourites probably being Home Alone), buying and wrapping presents, listening to Christmas songs, and seeing my children making plans to get up super early on Christmas morning to make Mum and Dad breakfast in bed... Just kidding, but that would be  really lovely, hey.

Okay, maybe I will write a little something about my views on Santa.

My 10 year old and I have recently chatted about the "idea" of Santa. He is at the age of doubt, repetitive questions, and repetitive questions. This chat, though initiated by him, I think only went as well as it did because I stumbled upon this letter that has been making its way through the internet. When prompted, Ben told me that the idea of Santa was to get kids to behave for their parents or they won't get any presents... Which led to a discussion about what it means to be "good" and "naughty", and about receiving something even though we don't deserve it. We discussed God's love for us, and the greatest gift he gave to us - Jesus! We don't deserve forgiveness or eternal life, but God still gives it to us through the death and resurrection of his only Son.

As I gaze across at our Christmas tree, surrounded by colourfully wrapped presents, I am excited about seeing them be opened soon. There's a certain joy of giving and receiving at Christmas time, and it fills me with delight.

And, alright, I'll admit: I'm also delighted because this is the first year that all three of my children have had their photo taken with Santa without a family member needing to jump in due to tears.


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Christmas angels!

Today, I had a spontaneous urge to make (painted!) Christmas crafts to attach to some teacher gifts this year... I felt like making angels, using paint, my children's hands, and wooden pegs (only because I found heaps today while "de-cluttering").

I started with Jonathan. Thankfully, he enjoyed smooshing his hands into paint, which made the process far less painful (and messy) than I originally anticipated.

Though I made it up as I went along (with the "idea" in mind) I needed:

- Wooden pegs
- Sticky dots/tape
- Yellow paint & paper
- Angel faces
- Co-operative children (optional, but definitely helpful).

I started with the painting part (as it could only get easier after that, right?). One hand at a time, I collected  my 3-year-old's handprints:

While they were drying, I stuck the angel faces to the tops of the pegs:

Once the handprints had (mostly) dried, I needed to figure out how I was going to attach them to the pegs... This was idea #1:

With some thought (and more time for the paint to dry completely), I decided to cut around the fingers, so there would be less white. And, instead of attaching the handprint wings at the palm, I thought they looked a bit better joining the thumbs together, which makes idea #2:

The handprints were then taped into place, and the pegs attached (I used sticky dots for that part for extra strength).

Before I started, I'd wanted each of my children to make these for their own teachers. But, looking at the size of Jonathan's handprints against the pegs, I figured that perhaps the others can do something different. Plus, there's so many Christmas crafting ideas on the internet! Footprint Rudolphs, handprint Christmas trees/Santas/elves, fingerprint Christmas lights etc.

Today's craft has certainly gotten me excited about Christmas crafts! Maybe we'll do some more next year.

The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid!
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people.
A Saviour has been born for you.
He is Christ the Lord!"
Luke 2:10-11

Christmas: The beginning of a wonderful love story :)

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Rudolf the pretzel reindeer...

So (as probably everyone else, too), I've stumbled upon many different Christmas style'd cake pops and individual treat ideas all over the internets lately... Santa hats made with cream and strawberries, Christmas tree cupcakes with strawberries (hmm, lots of strawberries), and various reindeer faces, for example.

As there's only a couple of weeks until Christmas (and school), and since I'm feeling like being creative again after being unwell, I thought I'd give something like this a go!  Except, opting for something I didn't have to bake and/or wash up... Because I'm feeling a bit lazy.

Following my sister who recently made some Oreo 'pops', I gently pushed Oreo biscuits onto cake pop sticks with some melted chocolate. I instead used double stuffed Oreos, though, so that I didn't have to squeeze the end of the sticks together with pliers like my sister did... See? Lazy.

Basically, once they were dipped in melted chocolate, I worked out (the hard way) that they set best laying down on some baking paper, not upright in the egg cartons. Faces became quite droopy very quickly that way! It was much easier attaching everything while they were flat.

I ended up also learning that there really wasn't any need to break the pretzels so that they looked more like 'antlers'. I was making a big mess, and it wasn't necessary. Full pretzels fitted perfectly in between the (double stuffed) biscuits of the Oreos. Once everything was on and they had set a bit, I transferred them back to the egg cartons:

Cellophane bags were easy to slip on while they were sitting in the cartons, too. Many discount shops sell them for just a couple of dollars, and they add a nice finished touch:

Overall, these were pretty simple (and quick!) to make. It was a bit tricky trying to balance how many Oreos I could dip before attaching the eyes, noses, and pretzels. It's best to have them all attached while the chocolate is still soft, but, if your chocolate sets quickly, you can still dip the pretzels into some left over chocolate and gently push them in.

These were really fun to make, and the best thing was that there was minimal washing up!

Here's my Jonathan carrying them to play group to hand out to his friends:

It's a great idea for school staff or play group, etc. Perhaps even your child's classmates. If you weren't as lazy as me, you could probably even attach a little reindeer style'd "Merry Christmas" tag, and write from your child (or you!)... Such as these that I designed after they'd all been handed out:

And, if you're going to use an egg carton to transport them, it may look nice if you covered the egg carton in Christmas paper/stickers, or write "Merry Christmas" on the front or something... I would have done that, but, you guessed it - I was lazy ;)

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Creative pathology!

In the last couple of weeks, while doctors were working out what was wrong with me, I've had numerous blood tests... I'm pretty If you've ever given blood or had a blood test of your own, you would be accustomed to the procedure:

- Squeeze/contract your fist;
- Have the strappy thing tightened on the top half of your arm;
- {Grit your teeth and look away while} the needle goes in;
- Blood is collected;
- The strappy thing is removed;
- The needle comes out;
- You're told to hold the cotton wool bud on your arm while the doctor or kind blood taking person fetches a bandaid...

Sound familiar??

Well... Not at the hospital I was at! When the time in the taking-of-my-precious-blood came, I was expecting to be told to hold the cotton bud tight on my arm... But I wasn't! I was even already reaching my other arm over, ready for my job, when this happened:

GENIUS! I think everyone who takes blood should do this. The pathologist didn't take the strappy thing all the way off! She just loosened it, and tightened it over the cotton bud while she fetched the bandaid.

Like. A. Boss!

Perhaps it's because she works in a hospital and would take blood however many times each hour (probably with many patients not being able to use their other hands), but what a fantastic idea. She was a bit taken back by my amazement at her method - I didn't need to do anything!

Will you help me spread the word??
Next time you have a blood test - share this idea!

P.S. As I'm not very happy about using the phrase "strappy thing", I researched and found it's proper name: tourniquet. How about that - you learn something new everyday! (unless you already knew that) :)

... Still doesn't help me understand the song by Evanescence, though.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Ohhhhh Deadpool!

Birthdays. The days that come just once a year to celebrate the anniversary of someone's birth. A day of gift giving (or receiving if it's your own), food, cake, laughter, and enjoying the company of the person who's birthday you're celebrating.

It was Husband's birthday this week! As my gift to him, I was finally discharged from hospital for the fourth time in just over a week... Yeah, it's been interesting.

After my last post, I thought it was over. I had no pain, so I was good! My body was fixed! ... Sadly, after a couple of days of my body tricking me into thinking this, the pain, nausea, and vomiting came right back, and I returned to Emergency another 2 times in 3 days. Still without a diagnosis, I came home again and again without an answer... In the meantime, Husband had to cancel his birthday dinner.

During those two days when I thought I was better (and before the celebrations were cancelled), I had managed to organise some things to make Husband feel special. Birthdays mean a lot to him, and as I'd been out of action for 4 days already, I wanted him to be the centre of attention for a moment. To feel appreciated, loved, and important.

Mixing my desire to do/make something special for Husband, some creativity, my desire to remain youthful, and knowledge about Husband (you'd expect to gain a fair bit of info after being married for 10 years), I made PARTY BAGS!


If you're having trouble reading what I put into them (which were red paper bags with printed out/coloured in Deadpool eye mask things) I've added a bigger version, plus a picture... He was very touched that I had put so much effort into it for him. And so he darn well should be! Haha. Just kidding. He was so amazing while I was out of action and in hospital so many times. There's only so much patience a guy can have! As they were slowly handed out individually, it was nice to overhear him tell a couple of friends that "she gets me." <chuffed>

DEADPOOL: Like you really need to ask!
GUITAR: Reuben plays this instrument (among others). If conversation gets awkward, ask him about his band, or to show you his guitar collection.
If that fails, open the GUITAR and you'll find BUBBLES: They will make him laugh watching his dog try to catch them.
SOUR COKE BOTTLES: His fav lolly.
TURKISH DELIGHT: His fav chocolate.
THONG: Reuben loathes thongs, and even calls his wide a bogan whenever she wears them. Beware if you wore thongs tonight. Quickly go and put some ugg boots on! Strangely, they're more acceptable.
MINI POM-POM: Believe it or not, you being here tonight makes Reuben feel a little fuzzy.
DINOSAUR: He's getting old! But hey, so are you! Mwahaha.
BALLOON: In Reuben's fav colour, what's a party without balloons?
ANACONDA: Well... Just 'cos :p

As it turned out, a few days later (with continued symptoms) I was severely dehydrated and admitted into a private hospital, which became my home for the next 3 nights, to be discharged on Husband's actual birthday, finally with a diagnosis of what had been causing the chest pain: "reflux esophagitis"... Reflux! Something that I thought only babies get (though explains why babies scream and cry so much when they vomit - it hurts!)

And, because birthdays need some form of cake (and since I felt bad that his party was cancelled), I took out a cake from the freezer (something that I also made when I felt well in-between hospital visits) when I got home, and attempted to ice it as his favourite Marvel character, Deadpool:

So although the birthday celebrations didn't quite go according to plan this year, I still (along with Deadpool) want to wish my loving husband a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

We're aiming for a non-hospitalised/cancelled birthday next year :)