26 July 2012

There is always hope...

I don't write this because I'm trying to garner sympathy - I'm not. I just want to be real - give you my warts and all experience of my life. If you don't want to read that my life is not all perfect with always happy and clean children and baking coming out of our ears then this isn't the blog for you!

So yesterday I woke up feeling really foggy and super duper tired. Fatigued to the max. I haven't had a day like that for ages and it really hit me for six. I hate being like that.
So I cried.
I threw a pity party for one. 
I  started back down The Well. I thought about all the depressing stuff. I dwelt on the loneliness of being away from my beautiful friends who KNOW me. I worried about all the preparation for surgery. I'm already worrying about the full body CT scan I'll have so they know they can go ahead and operate. They'll be looking for any cancer. That scares me silly. 
I stressed about money and the amount its cost us to make this move. I worried about the truck needing major repairs. I worried that I've caused more stress by having a rather large speeding fine to pay (stupid!). What is happening to me? I've always been a rather calm person, at least I thought  I was!
So this went on for about 1 hour before I pulled myself together.

I ferociously cleaned.
Then to pull my soul together and try put it all out of my mind I put on some music to soothe my soul and began to bake. Like I've said before baking puts my head into a healthy space. I only think about measuring, pouring, creaming, adding one ingredient together and going through a process. It CLEARS my mind.
Yesterday required something a bit decadent.
Chocolate, salted caramel, hazelnut all together needed to happen.

Then I realised, and I still am realising. This is all under control right? There is a plan for us, we didn't move down here on a whim. We did it because it ticked all our boxes and as a bonus its SO beautiful down here. We've already made some connections with people. In time they will get to know us just as well.
I need to stop worrying and focus on the right now. Right now its a beautiful day, right now the house is clean, there is food here, I'm going out for a girls night tonight, my family love me, my parents are coming down tomorrow. And God is always good. And there is always hope. And chocolate.

Out of darkness into light
I know that I will be alright 
Here inside Your hands
I never want to stray too far
Just want to be where You are 
Here inside Your plan
And You're the center of 
The beginning and the end

And I place my life inside Your hands
You hold for me a perfect plan
And You are... 
The beginning and the end

Everything that I've done wrong
Put You there on that cross
Where nails drove in Your hands
A crown of thorns deep in Your brow
I never knew it until now
It was all Your plan
God, You've always been 
The beginning and the end

You have plans for me 
You've given me a hope and a future
You have plans for me 
You've given me a hope and a future
(I place my life inside your hands 
You hold for me a perfect plan)
And You are... 
The beginning and the end

24 July 2012

Rhubarb & Orange Compote with Meringue

So yesterday I was up in Auckland for an appointment with the plastic surgeon. I drove up to spend the night halfway up there with my best girl Becky and her family, on the way collecting myself a speeding ticket (oh man SO didn't need that!) and then left them early to make an 8.30am appointment. 
As it turned out I was so grateful for such an early appointment by the end of the day!

I left Auckland at 10am and by the time I got to Paeroa the rain was getting harder so I decided against pulling over and browsing through the awesome antique shops they have there. Just past Paeroa is the beautiful Karangahake Gorge which usually is a picturesque drive with a river meandering along beside you. Yesterday it was a raging angry torrent which, as I was driving, was threatening to come right over the top and swallow up the road! It was scary! I decided to turn off and take a back road to avoid going through the next town of Waihi - every farm I passed was flooded and the poor old cows looked miserable. Driving into Katitkati I got stuck in a traffic jam as the river that runs behind the town flooded over and caused major disruption on the State Highway. I realised when I finally got home that had I been 10minutes late or had I popped into the shops at Paeroa I would have been looking at a night there, or driving back to Becky's house for the night as they closed all the roads I could take home due to all the flooding. So next time I'm given a hideously early appointment at hospital I shall just be happy - these things always work out right?

Usually the water level is WAY below this!

Anyway today I'm making a sweet dessert. 

This compote came from the Little and Friday book yet again, its in their book in the back under Poached Rhubarb. Its absolutely divine with anything...ice cream, morning porridge, rice pudding, anything really. 

I've added mine with some low fat lemon yogurt to some light peachy meringues I made. The combination of the sweet crunchy meringue, tart and orangy sticky compote and creamy yogurt is delicious! You could add cream but I didn't have any and also I didn't want the heaviness of the cream.

18 July 2012

Repost of Peanut Butter Cheesecake - Gluten Free

I posted this baby back in October of 2010 when I had just finished chemo and we were having a BBQ for Labour Weekend. Just looking at it again makes me want some!

The cheesecake itself was super easy and the ingredients list pretty simple. The base was a bit more convoluted however but I loved making it and its well worth it. I'll include both the cheesecake and the gluten free biscuits recipe below. I wasn't entirely happy with the look of this one as I was expecting more height but it tasted amazing.

I'm now a huge fan of making (and OF COURSE eating) cheesecake - I think there will be a few more featured here before the summer is out. And I can only hope I'll get better and better at them.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake


1 1/2 cups gluten free biscuit crumbs
115g butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds

3/4 cup (210g) crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup cream
250g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar

Hot Chocolate Sauce:
200g dark eating chocolate
20g butter
1/2 cup cream

For the base, melt butter, sugar and cocoa together. When combined and warm take off heat and add egg, stirring to thicken. Stir in crumbs, coconut and almonds. Press firmly into 24cm round loose-based flan tin. Freeze for 30 minutes.

To make the filling combine cream and peanut butter in small saucepan and stir over a low heat until smooth. Cool. Beat cream cheese and sugar in mixer until smooth. Stir in peanut butter mixture. Spread over base, cover with foil and freeze for 3 hours or overnight.

Make the hot chocolate sauce and serve with the cheesecake.

(The toppings are made with cheesecake mixture and the base rolled together - cheesecake bites! I popped them in the fridge to set and then dipped them in the chocolate sauce before serving. Also some cream fraiche on the top. Suffice to say this recipe ain't for the dieter!)

Gluten Free Honey Biscuits:

1 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tspn baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
100g unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey
5 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla

Put flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt into a food processor. Add butter and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs.
In a separate bowl combine milk, honey and vanilla and add to flour mix. It will be very soft and sticky but wrap in glad wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. When chilled you will need to use a fair bit of flour when rolling it out as its a sticky mixture still. Roll out and cut into shapes and bake for 25 mins or until browned at 180 deg C.

This recipe made me more than enough for the base and some for leftovers to freeze, and even some to give away to my gluten free friends Ash and Cinz so you get plenty out of it.

17 July 2012

Carrot Cupcakes

What to do with 3 children sleeping or playing quietly on a sick day?*

*yes I can't believe they were quiet and/or sleeping either. They MUST have been sick.

Bake. That's what I do.

I bake to relax, to kill time, to make me happy. Its my go-to stress reliever. There's something almost meditative for me about the process of measuring, mixing, folding, adding and the end result is something warm and delicious. And it gives an amazing sense of achievement when they turn out just right.

The Little and Friday baking book was the inspiration for these but instead of the cake I decided to make some little cakes for the kids lunchboxes this week. This adds to their vegetable component of their diet too, albeit wrapped in sugar! I've also substituted a few ingredients as I didn't have candied orange peel, or any walnuts and dates. Instead I used passionfruit, prunes and coconut flakes alongside the chocolate and carrot. This gave the cakes a lovely sweet bite with a bit of zing and crunch in there too. I think I prefer the prunes to the dates for the flavour anyway.

Topped with a cream cheese icing and a little passionfruit pulp or an extra sprinkle of coconut these beauties are well worth serving up as a treat for the carrot cake lover in your life.

Carrot Cake Recipe - slightly adapted from Treats From Little and Friday

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
4 eggs
1 cup oil
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups grated carrot
100g good-quality chocolate
1/2 cup chopped prunes
3 large passionfruit. 2 for the cake, leaving 1 for garnish.
1/2 cup shaved coconut

Preheat oven to 160deg C. Line cupcake tins with papers or grease x1 23cm tin.
Sift flour, baking powder and spices together in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs until combined then add oil and brown sugar and beat to combine.
Add grated carrot, prunes, passionfruit, chocolate and coconut and combine. Add all this to the flour mixture and stir to combine.
Spoon tablespoon sized amounts into the cupcake tins and bake for 30mins. This made me roughly 18 cupcakes.
Let them cool completely and then ice with a cream cheese icing.
Garnish with leftover passionfruit or coconut.

I HIGHLY recommend getting Treats From Little and Friday if you are in the market for a lovely well presented and easy to follow baking book.

15 July 2012

What Little Girls Are Made Of...

Sugar and spice and all things nice....and frolicking in orchards and making daisy chains and floral art.
Of being little mothers to babies and giggling together.

We had some lovely friends down to visit this weekend and while Madeline was out with them visiting the local op shops these wee girls, Johnny and I took a stroll.

And the token boy on this little jaunt? He's not made of snails and puppy dog tails - but he does smell like dirt, run like crazy, jump on everything and ride his bike like a maniac. He also gives great hugs. And I love him fiercely for all of that. He reminds me of his father everyday.

Today though we are feeling the nasty effects of a tummy bug and all three of my children have been camping in the lounge with towels, bowls and the Adventure Time marathon on Cartoon Network. And so the end to a relaxing lovely holiday ends on a bit of a low note. I'm feeling thankful that they all have it at once rather than having it staggered and drawn out. Fingers crossed me and Owen don't get it!

I also wanted to say the support from my last post has blown me away. I didn't expect to get the amount of feedback I have received over that. I'm so grateful to each and every person who has supported me and my family - I honestly feel so incredibly loved. Thank you to everyone who has commented and emailed me.


11 July 2012

Breast Reconstruction Update

Well its confirmed, although with no actual date yet but I am 5 months away from surgery - MAJOR surgery. This is not a breast reconstruction that will be pretty or easy and I'm sure if most people knew the involvement they would wonder why I'm doing it at all! 

I've spent the 7 months deciding what surgery I wanted to go with and when I finally came to a decision it was one I came to with full knowledge and understanding and a certain amount of peace. That's not to say I'm looking forward to the feeling of going into surgery for 6-8 hours and the resulting recovery from two surgery wounds and possible side effects, but I am looking forward to getting past recovery and feeling more whole, in a sense, and I feel that it will finally help complete the journey I've been on. 

When people hear about me going for breast reconstruction they are always really supportive and kind and happy for me. And I know I've said it before but sometimes along with that comes someone who is ignorant as to the degree of pain and side effects of surgery - it is not a surgery that is going to give me back the body of my 18 year old self. It is not a surgery where I'll even look normal naked - more like a patchwork doll! A breast augmentation and tummy tuck it is not. Not in the least.

This morning I read this article - its brilliant and sums up exactly what I've experienced. I have actually recently had someone joke that they wished they'd get BC as they would be able to get better boobs. I'm sure they were joking and perhaps it just came out without them really thinking about it. But my first thought was WTF? Educate Mon, educate them - don't get mad. Most stupid comments come from ignorance.
Seriously, if I could truly have my slightly saggy, stretch-marked D cup breast back that fed my three beautiful children and looked perfectly fine hoisted into a supportive pretty bra then I would in a heartbeat and I'd never complain again. But I can't. I deal everyday with an aching shoulder, tender skin, and phantom pain, nerve twitching, numb arm and the loss of a breast from stupid stupid horrible life changing and disfiguring breast cancer. Don't EVER say to anyone who's been through that that you'd want that too. Because I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. 

So please don't ask me what size I'm getting, or about the awesome beach body I'll be rocking, because its not like that. I'm doing this for me, for my mental state, for the fact that I'm so sick of shelling out $118 everytime I need a new bra so I can fit my prosthetic, for the fact that said bra needs to be purchased in a dark corner motel room from a travelling saleswoman (seriously it feels like I'm rocking up for a drug deal), for the fact I'm missing wearing cute tops and dresses and having to cover up so I don't frighten people with a full view of my non cleavage (I'm not one of those awesome women who don't care who sees it), I'm doing it so I don't get hot and angry and teary everytime I have to go shopping for new clothes. This is all for me. And I'll have to deal with the consquences if it does go wrong (and there is a teeny tiny chance it could but I'm not dwelling on that).

And also, perhaps let this serve as a reminder to us all, myself included, that everything is not as it seems all of the time. If someone is going through something take some time to listen to them, really listen and find out important details. If you don't think you have the right thing to say then its fine to say nothing rather than open your mouth and say something awkward or ignorant or embarrassing

I selected this post to be featured on my blog’s page at Breast Cancer Blogs.

10 July 2012

Fine Times

We are having some fine winter days lately. It is really really cold though and every morning there's a thick frost on the ground. Its no fun getting out of bed! But during the day its bliss to sit in the sun and get that vitamin D fix. I think we are having better winter weather than my cousins in the UK are getting in their summer!

Anyway all this lovely weather is a good excuse to get outside with the kids and have a ramble through the orchard. There's something about that crisp winter air!