Busy, beautifully busy

During the past few weeks, life has been busy. Beautifully busy.

I’m one of those people that enjoys running on adrenalin when it’s for things I’m passionate about. Time with friends and family, helping out organisations I support, my writing, my business.

In the past few weeks all of this – and more – has been ticking along.

I’ve had moments where I would have preferred to pull the quilt a little tighter around me and sleep a little longer, but on reflection I’m just so lucky. I’m lucky to be around people who are so passionate, dedicated and committed to what they do. I’m lucky to be part of some pretty special groups. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to balance my work and passions.

I guess that’s the reality of “A life more loved” – the recognition that it’s the little things that matter and being grateful for them.


Grandparent greatness and gratitude

Wise advice, laughter, conversations, tea and much more.

I’ve spent this past weekend with my wonderful grandparents and am feeling so grateful to have them here, providing influence on everything I do.

When I was very small, I spent a lot of time with them. I was the first grandchild, they often babysat me and I’m sure spoiled me terribly! Later, we moved far away and seeing them was a holiday treat involving sleep overs, excursions, building tree-houses and being fed waffles for lunch.

While I’ve sadly lost my other grandparents, I’m luckier than most. I have had many years of love, nurture, encouragement, advice and fun with my grandparents. The two years I spent living with them was wonderful, I speak to them weekly and whenever we get to spend time together it’s easy, relaxed and lovely. 

There’s no doubt I’ve inherited and learned a lot of their traits as well. Among them I count my determination, my organisation, my caring, my sense of justice and a whole lot more.

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.

– Alex Haley

My grandparents live two states away, but I still feel they’re close by. That’s because they’ve raised me to realise that no matter what, our family is here for us. 

I’m so very grateful to be able to call them when I need advice about my garden, on what birthday gift to buy, a favourite recipe – anything in fact.

I’m so very grateful that not only are they amazing individuals, raised pretty wonderful children and are now a perfect set of a grandparents.


Sparklers, sparkles and soaring spirits

I’ve been described as many things over the years, one of which has stuck with me.

“You’re a birthday person,” they said. “Yours and other people’s, you love them.”

It’s true and it’s stuck with me.

In my family, birthdays were always made to be a big deal. My parents didn’t throw hundreds of dollars at expensive toys and over the top celebrations, but they always made us feel loved, special and there was always cake and a party with friends. Image

As the years have passed, the celebrations have changed. Long gone are the birthday parties with pass the parcel, mini sausage rolls and fairy bread, but the excitement and delight remains.

I’ve accepted that with age the day becomes more low key and “the party” is replaced by a nice dinner. It doesn’t stop me counting down to friends’ birthdays, searching for gifts I know they love and generally getting excited on their behalf.

Friends are now entering that next phase – babies – and with that birthday parties make a return. While I’m excited about the prospects of little cakes, the odd lolly bag, party games and hyper children, I’m also a little sad that now the focus seems to be so much more about the gifts and the elaborate celebrations.

I hope that somewhere amidst that, we can keep alive the love for birthdays for the right reasons. A child feeling a special sense of love, class inclusive parties, games that everyone can play, awe-inspiring sparklers, the odd sparkle and a lot of smiles.

If all else fails, you’ll find me in the corner with the sparklers, the glitter, writing birthday cards, wearing a party hat and admiring the cake.

Beating up a little joy

I remember standing on a chair eagerly anticipating the moment the mixing would be over and the cake-lathered beaters would be handed over for licking.

Baking was a frequent event in my childhood, with homemade cakes and biscuits included in our lunches almost daily and intricate designs wheeled out for birthday parties. Chocolate cake, banana cake, Anzac biscuits,  plain biscuits, gingerbread. A Barbie cake, a clown cake, roller skate cakes and more. All connect me to happy memories of the buzz of activity in the kitchen, being allowed to help mix, licking the beaters and the bowl, helping decorate the finished product. The actual eating was almost an anti-climax!

As a result of this, I still love baking. Over the years I’ve gone through many favourite recipes, rolling out massive batches of chocolate chip cookies and brownies during my uni days, gingerbread for office Christmas parties, birthday cakes for friends and family.

Today I’ve spent the morning in the kitchen (sshhh I was supposed to working) whipping up a birthday cake for a good friend of mine. We were lucky to be given a Kitchenaid mixer as a wedding present which meant I got to sip on my coffee while I watched the magic happening in the silver bowl.

cake 1

A hands-free mixer makes baking even easier, but doesn’t reduce the joy.

In recent years, my baking has had to adapt. A number of my family members, this particular friend and I have all been diagnosed with gluten and dairy intolerances. It’s meant finding which recipes work with which substituted ingredients. Fortunately, many of my favourite recipes have made the switch to gluten-free flour, lactose-free spread and rice milk without too much stress. My fingers are crossed that my grandmother’s chocolate cake recipe does the same today.

Even though the recipes have changed and I now have to do my own washing up, baking still fills me with joy. I hope it continues for years to come.

(No picture of the final cake yet – decorating to follow)