Monthly Archives: January 2015

Wednesday(ish) Recipe: Vegan Mozzarella

Yes I’m late again. I think we’ve established that punctuality is not my thing.

Moving right along…

A friend of mine recently shared this recipe for vegan mozzarella on her Facebook page. I immediately bookmarked it and intended to make pizza as soon as humanly possible. JOY! I miss pizza. It’s just not the same with no gluten. And no cheese. And no joy…

Anyhoo, I was all psyched to make it this evening but ran out of puff mid-afternoon so settled on throwing some leftover bolognese sauce together with beans and rice and topping with this gooey, tapioca-based deliciousness as a bit of a pot pie experiment.

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In one word: YUM! It formed a pretty good crust and was nicely oozy underneath. I think I’ll boil the cashews next time though – they were still a little gritty despite the four-hour soak.

The rest of the family remain unconvinced but it really hit the spot for me. I’ll definitely play around with it some more to see if I can win them over.

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But of course

So we were late to school this morning, because of course we were.

I was List Woman all day yesterday. I pretty much left the girls to their own devices as much as they would let me (they needed convincing at times) and got through everything that needed doing for school – plus some more, as I was supposed to have some friends over this morning too. I lowered the hem of my daughter’s tunic and let out the waist on her shorts (we can’t afford to buy new uniforms for a couple of weeks so my slap-dash hand sewing would have to suffice for now). I got out her backpack and lunchboxes and drink bottle and checked they were clean and labeled. I cut up a bunch of veggie sticks and packed all the non-perishable stuff into their boxes. I even baked some muffins!

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I also cleaned the bathroom and tidied the kitchen bench – and got side-tracked sorting out the plastics cupboard and fixing our headband storage solution for a bit, because of course I did.

I made a list for the morning and got to bed at 2am, knowing that so long as I got five hours of sleep I’d manage well enough the next day.

And then I couldn’t sleep, because of course I couldn’t.

And I did that classic insomniac thing of stressing about not sleeping, thus making sleep absolutely impossible, because of course I did.

And then I slept through my alarms and woke up about 20min before we had to leave, because OF COURSE I did.

Poor Miss 6 was rudely awakened and carried out of bed by my husband (who had slept in too) while I woke up Miss 2 and got clothing sorted. It was cold and rainy so my daughter wanted to wear her long pants but I hadn’t let the hems down on them yet (because of course I hadn’t! It’s the middle of Summer ffs) so that triggered a meltdown which I didn’t have the time or energy to deal with gracefully. Much screaming and crying and hand-wringing ensued as the plan quickly morphed from me walking the girls up, to hubby driving her up and taking her to class himself, to hubby driving ALL of us up so I could jump out with Miss 6 at the gate without him having to find parking. We finally got her dressed, then she ate some cereal while I quickly packed the rest of her lunch (big hugs to past me for prepping so much last night!!) and did her hair before she quickly brushed her teeth and grabbed her bag while I threw my clothes on and got gumboots on the little one (extra big hugs to past me for dressing the little one in outdoor clothes for her to sleep in last night!!). We got in the car two minutes before the school bell was due to ring and ran in the gate at school just as all the kids were filing in to class.

I got her to her old classroom just as her Kindy teacher was about to lead them off to the hall where they would be redirected to their new classes. I said some quick hellos and lightheartedly laughed off running late on the first day (while trying not to cry) before heading back to the gate to wait for hubby to finish circling the block so he could pick me up again and take me and Miss 2 back home before he dashed off to work.

I then promptly collapsed in the rocking chair to zone out for a bit.

Thankfully, due to the rain, most of the ladies who were going to come over this morning cancelled, and I managed to convince the others to meet up with me at a cafe instead. So at least I didn’t have to run around picking up clutter and vaccuuming this morning too. A small victory today, but I’ll take it (plus I had some fabulous food and coffee at the cafe as an added bonus).

Seriously, guys: I. Am. So. Sick. Of. This. Shit.

I am 36 years old, not 16. How can I still suck so damn hard at time management? Why am I still sleeping through alarms and overcommitting to things and just plum not coping with basic life stuff?

I don’t want to play this game anymore.

I want a new head. One with a shiny, streamlined, zen brain, and emotions that make sense and are easy to deal with. Where can I get one of those?

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to wake up my 2yo and start the trek back up to school to pick my little First Grader up again. If I’m not careful I’ll be late for that too.

Because of course I will.

Update: I got to pick up a few minutes early! I’m more excited about this than I really should be!

Back to school tomorrow

Back to the grind of implacable routine. Back to the stress of getting everyone up and out the door on time each morning. Back to the embarrassment of constant late notes from the office when we inevitably fail. Back to wishing we weren’t “that family.” Back to all the effort of packing lunches – just to see them not eaten anyway. Back to trying to find other school-parents I click with and dutiful play dates and having to fit my days around drop off and pick up.

Blergh.

I’d so homeschool if I were more organised. I HATE having to fit around the school day. If it went from 10.15 til 4, instead of 9.15 til 3, there would be no issue. I really resent how “morning lark”-focussed the world is.

Here’s a poem in honour of the impending dread of tomorrow morning. I memorised it for a talent show in primary school and it seems so appropriate right now. I’d much rather spend all day painting and playing with ducks and going on family shopping trips than dragging myself out the door on time every day too!

I don’t want to go to school mum

by Pam Ayres

I don’t want to go to school Mum
I want to stay at home with my duck.
I’d rather stay home with you Mum,
And hit the skirting board with my truck.
Don’t make me go to school today Mum,
I’ll sit here quite on the stairs
Or I’ll sit underneath the table
Scratching all the varnish off the chairs.

I don’t want to go to school Mum,
When I could be underneath your feet.
It’s shopping day and we could go together
Taking twice as long to get to Regent Street.
And every time you stop to talk to someone
I won’t let you concentrate, no fear,
I’ll be jumping up and down beside you
Shouting ‘Can I have some sweets Mum?’ in your ear.

Or how about me doing a bit of painting?
Or what about a bit of cutting out?
Or sitting in the open bedroom window
Body in and legs sticking out?
Or what about us going up the park Mum?
Or how about me sitting in the sink?
Or what about me making you a cake Mum?
And Mum. Hey Mum. Mum can I have a drink?

Mum what’s that at the bottom of the cupboard?
And Mum, what’s that bag you put down there?
And hey Mum watch me jump straight off the sofa,
And Mum, whose dog is that stood over there?
What you doing Mum? Peeling potatoes?
Sit me on the drainer watching you
I wouldn’t mind me trousers getting wet Mum,
Oh I aren’t half fed up. What can I do?

What time is Daddy coming home Mum?
What’s in that long packet? Sausage Meat?
How long is it before he comes Mum?
And Mum. Hey Mum. What can I have to eat?
Oh sorry Mum. I’ve upset me Ribena.
Oh look. It’s making quite a little pool.
Hey Mum, hey, where we going in such a hurry?
Oh Mum. Hey Mum, you’re taking me to SCHOOL.

*I should note, my 6yo is SO EXCITED to be going back. I just needed to vent for my own benefit…

Straya, maaaaate!

Another Australia Day, another bout of ambivalence.

I’ve never felt that comfortable around excessive patriotism. Flag-brandishing chest-beaters outright disgust me: oh wow, you were lucky enough to be born here rather than somewhere else. Woop-de-freaking-do, mate. That’s something to feel grateful for, not proud of. Save up your pride for an actual achievement rather than something you had absolutely no control over. Also? If you care about the flag so much, stop dragging it around on the ground. That is seriously disrespectful towards all these ideals you apparently hold so dear.

I’ve also never felt that comfortable about unquestioningly celebrating the date the First Fleet arrived. Given all the atrocities in Australia’s past with regards to Indigenous relations it doesn’t sit right that this day also marks the date that the land started being forcibly taken away from the people who had lived off it for tens of thousands of years. We either need to get our shit together with the reconciliation process or change the date to Federation Day (aka the actual birth date of Australia as a nation in its own right rather than a loose conglomeration of colonies). Sure, it’s on 1st January but that would just mean an extra public holiday on 2nd Jan – and who on earth would complain about that?!

But…

I am grateful that I live in a country as beautiful and free as Australia. I am grateful that we can publicly criticise and discuss the failings of our government and culture without fear of reprisal. I am not so grateful that our current PM is such a tool, but I am grateful that more and more people are getting angry at him, and making that anger felt. I am grateful that we have reasonable welfare systems in place to genuinely give everyone a fair crack at a good life regardless of class or family support. I am grateful that we are taking baby steps towards proper reconciliation with our First Peoples and may even see a treaty in my lifetime. I am grateful that my girls are growing up in a world where their biggest gripes are that I restrict how much they can watch on YouTube and won’t let them eat lollies for breakfast (I know, I’m such a monster!).

So Happy Arrival/Invasion/Survival Day, Australia. I know I can be overly cynical and laconic around such matters, but I do love living in you and having you live in me. There are FAR worse places in the world to call home.

You’re alright, Australia.

(And thanks for turning down the heat in Sydney today! Much appreciated)

*crickets chirping*

I’m all over the place at the moment, but this blog is always at the back of my mind, despite my apparent neglect. I have A BUNCH of posts taking shape in my head but they’re all in pieces and the windows of time in which they are relevant are closing. I also need to chase up a couple of leads for possible writing work but find myself a little paralysed over them AND school starts up again in less than a week, so that’s hanging over my head too. In no particular order, here’s a bit of a brain declutter:

– I’ve emptied two more boxes from my back room as per my “one box a week” resolution. Blog post coming soon!

– I saw Amanda Palmer speak at the Sydney Writers’ Festival the other night, with special guests including Tara Moss (who I now have a bit of a lady-crush on) and of course Neil Gaiman. “Inspired” doesn’t quite cover how I felt afterwards but it’s close enough for now. Blog post coming soon!

– I have been wanting to pull my thoughts together in the aftermath of the Sydney siege and Charlie Hebdo shooting as a Sunday Soapbox post, but I think I may have to accept defeat. It’s too big and convoluted a topic for me to tackle right now. Thankfully David Wong has covered off most of my intended talking points over at Cracked with his article 6 ways to keep terrorists from ruining the world. It’s well worth a read for anyone with a handle on nuance and an ounce of compassion for this big, crazy, mash-up of madness that we call humanity.

– I’ve set up a twitter account (@meg_mediocre) and a Facebook page tied to my personal account, with the intention of linking them all together and deleting my current Facebook presence for this blog. It’s too much of a barrier having to re-login with a different account so I’ve been letting it languish too much.

– Speaking of Facebook, I’ve been made an admin for an international attachment parenting group that I’ve been involved with for some time now. It’s fun, but distracting! I still think I’d be a much better parent if only those pesky kids would stop hassling me with their needs all the time…

– I’m going to apply for a local blogging grant and another casual writing/editing job a friend sent me an ad for. Plus my Dad is going to hire me for some technical writing and research work for some apps he’s developing. Part of me is freaking out but hopefully the rest of me can settle that part down with a cuppa and just get it all done in time. Fingers crossed!

– My winner’s profile has gone up over at micro bookends, and it includes my surname and a picture of me for anyone curious. I’m thinking if I want to make a go of this freelancing gig I can’t necessarily stay anonymous anymore. Still not going to post identifying photos of my kids here but I reckon I’ll ease up a bit on personal secrecy. Meanwhile, I had the option of opting out of judging this week’s contest – but I didn’t. Quite looking forward to it now!

– I have been discovering so many cool blogs, recipes and books lately! I think my next big goal for the blog is to really work on scheduling and committing to regular writing so I can feel more on top of things again. I actually bought a pretty nice diary this year (blog post coming soon!) and have been reacquainting myself with my laptop. I can do this!

– My youngest has been dropping her day nap quite a bit lately and actually going to sleep as early as 6pm in the evenings. I’ve consequently had a chance to test a theory and experiment with bi-phasic sleep for myself. So far it’s looking promising. Basically, I pass out with her, sleep for a few hours until I naturally wake up in the middle of the night, get up and do stuff for a few hours, then nap for a few hours more. It’s how humans normally slept back before electric lighting and I suspect my brain will lap it up if I can get it right. The experiment is ongoing.

I think that’s most of what is currently going on in the Life of Meg. The meds I’m taking for my depression have been helping keep my moods on an even keel but they’re playing havoc on my (already small!) plan-making stamina. I guess at least they’re forcing me to live in the moment more!

To finish up – three things I’m grateful for today:

1. My Dad, for dealing with his discomfort with me breaking down over the phone to him the other day and coming up with a really awesome solution.

2. A bag full of clothes that I bought from a new friend. I SUCK at clothes shopping for myself these days so it was fantastic to be able to try on a bunch of beautiful pre-loved stuff in someone’s house while the girls could happily play with a stash of previously unseen toys. Now I just need to get rid of some of my old clothing to compensate.

3. Free dental care for the girls! I finally got them in for their first ever dentist check up today – and it was a bunch of fun! I’m so grateful I waited until I knew my oldest could handle the invasiveness, and I’m so grateful that the dentist and his assistant were AMAZING with kids, and I’m so grateful we finally have (albeit limited) government-funded dental care for children here now. It’s about bloody time! Such a worthwhile investment for the future of the country.

What’s new with you?

I Don’t Wanna

This phrase pops up a lot in my writing, as it also pops up a lot in my head. Basically all my struggles in trying to establish a peaceful, satisfying life boil down to this one phrase.

I don’t wanna.

Like right now, for instance. It’s around 3.30am. I should be asleep so I’m well-rested enough to wake up with my kids and have the energy to go beyond just “getting through” the day and actually enjoying myself.

But no, I don’t wanna. Tomorrow is Future Meg’s problem.

I have a million and one things going around my head, from how to fix some administration issues with Centrelink (which are leaving me seriously broke and need to be addressed); to getting organised before school starts up for the year (in two weeks!!); to planning out blog posts so I can enjoy blogging rather than seeing it as yet another commitment hanging over my head and being neglected too much; to working out what I need to do to apply for some grants and potential work I have leads for. I should sit down with paper and pen to map it all out and break it down into manageable chunks to tackle one at a time over the next few days.

But no, I don’t wanna. It’s too overwhelming and hard. And what if I do all that and still don’t get any of it done? How much crappier will I feel then?

I need to actually get out my laptop to do a bunch of stuff that I can’t do on my phone and tidy up my online presence to tie everything together and simplify things. Then I’ll be able to make more progress toward establishing some sort of writing/editing career, maybe.

But no, I don’t wanna. I hardly ever use my laptop so it’s kind of confusing and aggravating now. Plus as soon as I sit down the kids are all over me trying to tap the keys and poke things so I always end up frustrated. And do I really want to commit to writing and/or editing professionally? How the heck am I going to keep on top of deadlines when I’m so disorganised and depressed?

And of course there’s the ever-present grind of cleaning and culling and sorting hanging over my head. I’ve been doing bits and pieces here and there, but it’s still chaos as usual here at Chez Meg.

BAH! I don’t wanna I don’t wanna I. DON’T. WANNA!!

When my head is in this state I literally visualise a four year old girl, stamping her foot and scrunching her eyes up and SCREAMING these words at me with a wide open oval of a mouth.

And then I visualise myself punching her, repeatedly, in that stupid, obnoxious little face.

It shocked me, the first time that image popped into my head. But it really does help! I’d like to stress that I’m not even vaguely violent in real life (let alone violent towards children!!) but inwardly indulging my sense of frustration and powerlessness in the monolithic face of my depression in this way really does feel quite cathartic and empowering.

I’m feeling overwhelmed and paralysed by a blend of perfectionism, stress, and social anxiety, but at least now my brain isn’t screaming at me anymore. Instead I’m lovingly holding it and explaining how we can work together to feel on top of things again.

It’s a small gain, but I’ll take it.

Wednesday Recipe: Fruity Ice Pops

I’ve been a little quiet and misanthropic again the last few days but wanted to get my groove back. What better way to lift the spirits in the midst of a humid Sydney summer than homemade icy treats?

Well, I say treats, but these are actually ridiculously healthy! No cane sugar, cordial, or reconstituted juices here. I really love making these when the kids are home a lot because a) it’s a fun activity making them together, and b) I can break them out when the girls are bugging me for lollies at breakfast. Winning!

Pear, Lychee and Cinnamon

I first made this by throwing together a bunch of fruits that were about to go off but the flavour ended up so delicate and delicious! It really surprised me how nice it was.

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Ingredients:

1 green pear (Josephine, if possible)
6-8 fresh lychees
1/2 red apple (optional, but it beefs up the flavour a bit)
1-2tsp ground cinnamon
1-2tsp maple syrup (optional if you want it a little sweeter)
Water

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Peel and dice the fruits and blend them in a processor with the cinnamon and maple syrup. Add water and blitz again until you reach your desired consistency and volume – we like it a little chunky so only made 2 cups of mix, making 6 icy pops.

Pour into moulds and freeze for at least a couple of hours.

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The flavours would also work well with some yoghurt or coconut milk instead of water, but this is super refreshing as it is on a stinking hot day.

The Cocoba! Cocoa, Coconut and Banana

Ingredients

1 large banana
1 small tin of coconut milk
1-2tbsp cocoa powder (or cacao if you want it even healthier)

Blitz everything until it’s smooth and creamy. Try not to drink it (harder than it sounds!).

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Get someone to help pour it into the moulds and freeze for at least a few hours.

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Feel free to gorge!!