31 December 2010

The Year In Review, with pictures

Well if you are a regular reader of my blog you will know its been a full on year, and really one that I never want to repeat again. But amongst all the heartbreak, hard slog and sickness I've had so many great experiences, this post is a good way for me to remember that.

So, the year in review:

Jan - Our darling 17yr old staffie died, I turned 30 (eek!). I also found a small lump in my left breast.

 Feb - My first wedding cake and a very memorable trip to Gisborne with some awesome friends. A definite first - appearing on TV in Nestle New Zealand's Hottest Home Baker. Something I won't ever be repeating again! Hehe. And I started baking up at Belmont Park Racquets Club on Saturday mornings.

 March - A month I'll never forget. I was baking like a crazy woman. I even had my first competition. My first born turned 8. On the 2nd to last day of this month I was diagnosed with breast cancer after a biopsy on my breast.

April - The most somber Easter we've had, followed by amazing support and rallying around of family and friends. CT scans reveal no spread of cancer. Surgery on the 16th to remove my breast followed the next day by mine and Owens 11th wedding anniversary.

 May - A 2 night stay in a hotel by some fab anonymous people. I get an awesome new camera. The first of 6 rounds of chemotherapy start. Owens beloved 96yr old grandmother dies leaving a huge gap in our lives. My hair falls out and I get a nifty new wig.

June - My brother visits from Chile. Johnny turns 3. Life is a blur. I stay in a hotel for a week!

  July - We are saved by the arrival of Alison who swoops in and takes care of us all.An angel in human form. I get sick and have a 5 day stay in Auckland Hospital. Now halfway through chemo.

August - A tough tough month. By now its been a long slog of chemo and getting sicker each time. Start doing my thankful posts as I had lots of time on my hands to thank those who've been helping me get through it. The last day of the month brings my final dose of chemo.

September - I talk at a pastoral care evening at St Pauls, we go on a family holiday. We have a months break before radiation starts.

October - I start doing heaps more baking as my body starts to return to normal. I do the Dove Pink Star Walk. Radiation is a breeze compared to chemo so I sail through it.

November - A crazy busy month. A book is published with 2 of my baking pics in it. Very proud. I meet Simone from Greatfun4kids, lovely lovely woman. I finish radiation. We have a party.

December - I am interviewed for The Parenting Magazine (Autumn issue next March! Yay!) about my baking. Life gets back to normal. Katie turns 6.

I am SO excited about the coming year. There is life to live and so much to celebrate. Thank you to everyone who has read this blog and supported me. My blog friends that I have never met (except you Simone!) you have been lovely and it has been a pleasure being part of the blogging community with you.

Here's to a NEW YEAR!

30 December 2010

This one is about hair...again

This is me on Christmas Day. See how fast my hair is growing.
A girlfriend told me I reminded her of Jean Seberg.

I'll take that!

23 December 2010

Chocolate Ginger Seashell Cupcakes

These beauties are just my regular old fudge cake recipe with about a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger. Yummo.

Topped with a simple chocolate vanilla buttercream and some Belgian seashell chocolates and a light dusting of edible gold dust!

These made some great presents for Christmas. I've noticed lots of people are making homemade gifts, in particular food, this year. I LOVE getting food for presents! How about you?

21 December 2010

Not just any ordinary ginger cake...

...but my mums birthday cake.

Last year we had lemon cake. This year we had so many plums I thought we could use these somehow. So I made a 4 layer ginger cake with plum jam and cream in between the layers. Covered again in more whipped cream.

Topped with raspberries and truffles from my earlier post. Looked like a winter wonderland kinda cake. And NOT a weight watchers dessert by ANY means.

Chocolate Truffles

These were made with leftover cake bits from a Christmas order I had mixed with dark chocolate ganache, some chopped hazelnuts and dried apricots.

Rolled into a ball

and covered with a variety of coconut, cocoa and for a bit of extra excitement, some chilli chocolate. Deeeeeelicious.

13 December 2010

Start how you mean to go on...

I had a visit from a very wise person and you know when you've had those conversations that really end up being a revelation to your own life? Well I had one of those today. Thank you dear friend.

I've been thinking about priorities and all the things that are rapidly piling up on my plate and how much I should take on and how much I should let go. Forget. Discard. Tough decisions to make but ones that ultimately affect my family and my life.

One pattern I've come to realise is that in my life I've had a lack of  being able to make boundaries, to say no about giving my time away to people. This is something I'm and I'm sure many others are constantly guilty of, and it becomes a burden on my family when I give my precious time away to things that, well at the end of the day, don't matter to them. Yet my family wear the burden of my lack of time or grumpiness. This year has been a year that I don't wish to repeat, nor do I think that God had given me cancer but I've gained many many things that I can count as blessings along the way. This includes people and events, but the biggest by far is the cutting out of all the crap I've tended to drag around with me. The expectations to look and do good. To please everyone all at once. Being hard on myself when I screw up and forgetting that I'm just human.
Well I've decided to change that. To let go. To just go with the flow, not to please others at cost to myself or those I cherish. Starting today. Focus on the important things and the rest will follow.

Today was my darling Katie's 6th Birthday and unfortunately her birthday falls into one of the busiest times of the year due to her being 13 days late (the longest 2 weeks of my life!) - and this year I am just so exhausted and tired of the thought of living up to expectations and competing to have the best cupcakes and best ideas and best all round everything. So I canned the beach party with games and fish and chips and big exciting themed and decorated cake in favour of a weekend of friends and memorable times. Katie went to some of her good friends birthdays, and yesterday we went to GLOW the carols by glowstick event put on by our church St Pauls at the Vector Arena. It was a whole weekend of partying! And I didn't have to do a thing!
To top it off today, her actual birthday, Katie popped off to school to hang with her friends, play games and at morning tea I brought in some cupcakes to share with her class. Seeing her face was such a treat. This is all she needed. For me to put aside some time and make her feel special. We had some friends over for a play after school. A lolly scramble. A packet mix cake ( I hear you gasp...well Nigella does it!) to give to the kids and make together. Decorate the cake with M&M's, marshmallows and an assorted handful of candles. Voila! Impromtu party, good friends and cake! And what's more. A relaxed mum.

Start how you mean to go on is one of my mums sayings and at this time it comes to mind.

Start how you mean to go on. Focus on what's important.

10 December 2010

I'm still here

Last week we were given the opportunity to have a break away in the Coromandel. Suffice to say it was BEAUTIFUL. But unfortunately I damaged my lens (thanks to "someone" dropping it in the sand) and am unable to photograph my food until I get it fixed/replaced. Boo hoo!!! So gutted!
Anyway I got some great photos in before it happened but I'm having some problems with uploading them. Will post these when this glitch is fixed.

30 November 2010

Christmas Cookies

These are what I've started on so far.

Ginger cookie
Star Ginger cookie
Heavenly Espresso Cookie

Finishing treatment Fiesta!

This weekend we celebrated...Mexican Style! It was so much fun, thank you to everyone who came to help us finish off a hard year in style.

There have been so many people we are so indebted to and it was great to have a way to thank everyone all at once. Obviously not everyone could make it, but we had a drink and a toast to you. Especially to the wonderful staff at Auckland Hospital (mum and Amanda represented you!).

Complete with a boobie pinata, tequila jelly shots and margarita cupcakes the evening was a great success! And hopefully we will never have to celebrate finishing chemo and radiation ever again.

Mexican paper flowers
Boobie pinata

25 November 2010

Delish Cupcakes Review

At the beginning of my diagnosis this little shop opened up in Forrest Hill and I've been getting daily Facebook updates on the daily flavours and events of the shop. I salivate everytime. Today for example their flavours for sale are banoffee, choc raspberry, vanilla filled with passionfruit, vanilla stawberry, caramel, choc bomb and JAFA. Sounds delish yeah?

This little shop is Delish Cupcakes.

I heard about these ladies last year when my dad went to the Auckland Food Show and came across the Delish Cupcakes stall. Their progress has been from friends who bake and decorate fantastic cupcakes together to actually opening up a beautiful shop with different flavours everyday. So I thought it was high time to get myself up to Forrest Hill to try them out.
And I wasn't disappointed.

I bought a chocolate with chocolate ganache cupcake and my niece Zara chose a lemon raspberry. Both came in these adorable wee boxes so they wouldn't get squished. The chocolate had a beautiful rich ganache with a lovely moist chocolate cake, and the lemon raspberry had a lemon curd filling with a creamy, sweet and slightly tangy raspberry buttercream which was absolutely delicious (I got to try both, as we left them in the car and forgot about them in our hurry to get Zara to the airport, so she missed out on eating her one....lucky me!). These gals know how to please a fussy cupcake lover like me!

Delish Cupcakes cater for weddings, birthdays, corporate functions, baby showers etc and you can even order online.

So if you are in the area - Shop 4, 14-16 Raines Ave, Forrest Hill - then I suggest you pop in and have a squiz and try out a cupcake and a coffee. They also have a range of decorating products if you are inspired to go home and try decorating your own!

Things are happening...

Well you can tell by my lack of posts this last week that I've been busy enjoying myself! Now I've announced to the world that I'm free I've had a few plans developing in the pipeline for next year which are pretty exciting. One of which includes going back to school. Well not really proper school, but a higher form of education in the area of photography. I'm so excited about this, so watch this space.

Some more things happening are the odd Christmas baking orders, including a Christmas Craft Market next Tuesday night in Northcote and of course organising a party this Saturday night to celebrate the finish of my treatment. If you have been involved and are in Auckland this Saturday please please please come and celebrate with us (Mexican theme) and enjoy some good food and dancing. Email me at delissimon at vodafone dot co dot nz if you are keen and want the address! This is our way of saying thank you for the continuous love and support we've received over the last 8 months!

What I've got to do now, is make sure I don't overdo it, enjoy the Christmas break and get my energy back to return to my original plans for this year with a renewed energy and zest for life.

20 November 2010

Lovely Blog Award

Thanks Renata from Testado Provado e Aprovado! for granting my blog this award, what a sweetie!

In order to receive this award I must pass it on to 15 other blogs, which is easier said than done!
So in no particular order these are my favourite lovely blogs that I read regularly!

Bobby Robin
Bake in Paris
Bella Cupcakes
Cannelle et Vanille
growing up
Little Gumnut
Heaven Espresso
Sprinkle Bakes
Munchkin Munchies
My Guide to Surviving and Enjoying Life's Mundane
The Cupcake Gallery
The Food Librarian

All the talent and humour that is poured into these blogs make them such an enjoyable read.

18 November 2010

Chocolate Espresso Cake

This cake!!! Oh this cake!! Chocolate and coffee...a marriage of perfection and deliciousness! And this wonderful cake, although almost a disaster (the cake overflowed in the oven) turned out magnificently.

A moist chocolate cake sandwiched with an espresso cream filling and slathered in espresso buttercream, sprinkled with chocolate shavings and drizzed with an espresso syrup. After eating this you need to go dancing or something to work off the caffeine high!

Thanks to Arron at Heaven Espresso for the coffee...its the best!