31 May 2010

I'm being published!

In the midst of all the drama in the last few months I forgot to mention I have two pictures appearing in a book being published in November. This book here:

Another kiwi blogger and baker I follow, Vanessa from Bella Cupcakes, also has her cupcakes appearing in this book. In fact she even made the cover. Check out her stuff, its INCREDIBLY gorgeous.

I'm so excited, I can't wait for it to come out! These are the pics I have appearing. Look familiar? One of these plates was my audition for NZHHB! And of course very similar to my signature dish round on the first episode (oh those blue cookies!).

29 May 2010

Meet Ginger...

She likes warm sunny days and being indoors mostly. She is a fiery mix of blonde and red, so I think she can be a bit ditzy sometimes but is armed with a mean temper, which forgives and forgets pretty quickly. She doesn't require a lot of things. She only takes a bath every 3 weeks so she's pretty low maintenance.

And she's now my new best friend. Maybe? I'm not committing to anything but so far she's working out okay. I haven't had any strange looks when I've been out with her yet.
Here she is blogging with me...

We first met last Saturday when I decided it was time to decide on a wig before I felt too blah and horrid to venture out. So mum, Mads, Katie and I headed out to the fabulous ladies at Wigs by Hair Creations in Newton. Upon meeting Becs and Claire there it took mere minutes to decide. Mostly because so many looked so bad on me that by the time Ginger was placed on my head we were all in agreement. The litmus test on all wigs was that it was passable if Katie wasn't laughing at me. So, decision made, all I needed to do was wait for my hair to start dropping out.

Well this week its been slowly coming out like my hair was malting badly. But last night I had chunks coming out in my hands and my head was aching all over. In my frustration this morning I rang the shop and they just happened to have 11.30 free for me. Perfect. My incredibly wonderful and beautiful friend Ange offered to come with me for this trip and after my terrible dry lifeless hair had been shaved she did the same! Wahoo! Go Ange!
It felt rather liberating and strange all at the same time. And I didn't shed a tear strangely enough.

Showing my newly shaved head (which personally I think is quite a nice round head) to the family was a bit shocking though. Mads begged me to please put Ginger back on and hid under her jacket. That made me cry in secret just a little after she was out the room. I don't want the girls to see me upset about my hair. For goodness sake its only hair! It'll grow back!

So welcome to the family Ginger (if you see her, say hello!). And if you want to see the new bald me then look at the below pics.

(BTW That's a bit of the lamp sticking out my head by my ear. Not an abnormal growth.)

See? Not so bad aye?
Now I'm off to watch G.I Jane or V for Vendetta.

27 May 2010

May 2010 Daring Bakers Challenge - Piece Montée

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri. To view the recipe click here.

I did it! I baked something, finally!

I really really wanted to do this challenge, as it was what Owen and I had at our wedding for our cake. Although the one we had was HUGE and super amazing delicious. It was filled with the most gorgeous chocolate mousse and then dipped in chocolate - white, milk and dark. Man that was good.

The one I made today however was dainty and simple. Pretty much all I'm capable of right now!
Unfortunately for me I was just too hasty in the sugar department and burnt my finger. And now I'm hoping mum doesn't read this and ring up and tell me off!

My contribution this month is a chocolate crème patissiere croquembouche with a sugar syrup. Considering the injury I caused myself I should have stuck to a chocolate glaze instead. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Sandra, due to your request I've included our wedding pic. xx

26 May 2010

How am I feeling? Part 2

Its so hard to write how I'm feeling when its all a bit of a mess really.

Owen was so close to his grandma, and it breaks my heart that she's gone from his life. Although she was sick and her body was failing her so much he really relied on her support. She loved him getting involved and heading up to her house on the point every week to mow her lawns and do odd jobs and, well basically she let him turn her garden into his new golf green and she loved it! So I imagine he'll shed a few tears this afternoon when he goes up to mow the lawn.

Its been hard also to focus on her being in hospital. Especially hard as I was unable to visit her and say a proper goodbye as I would have liked. Its all just terrible timing as my blood counts are so low I cannot compromise virtually non existent immune system by heading towards sick people. It sucks. And Owen needed to be here to take care of the kids and me, so he was unable to be as supportive to his mum as he would have liked. Its just one hurdle after another really.

Otherwise apart from being really tired and a bit uncomfortable with a huge pimple INSIDE my nose I feel a bit better today. My blood counts are obviously still down, so I can't go out and party but the good news is I did some baking. A Daring Bakers challenge to be exact, so that will be posted up later today. Was good to get some alone time in the kitchen too.

One Heck of a Lady...

Today was a very sad day for the Williams/Orr family.

Owens adored Grandma Betty or Beatrice Laura Orr died this morning from complications from a lung infection she got early last week. She was 96.

This is a woman survived by 2 children, 7 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren and has been incredibly involved and special to us all. She has lived through two world wars, lived a full life, watched her own daughter almost die, lose a husband, a son in law and never lost her faith despite many heartbreaks. She was, in short, a very unique and very strong woman.

Her unwavering support, humour, kindness, generosity and love will be so sorely missed. Owen and I are so pleased our children got to know her.

13 August, 1913 - 26 May 2010. What a life!

24 May 2010


Last November there was an article on Campbell Live about a young woman on their staff who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was happy to tell her story and let the cameras follow her.

At the time I remember watching and thinking she was so brave, and so positive. But I didn't give it much more thought. Especially as I was heading into being on NZHHB and was busy as hell.

Then this evening for some reason she came back into my mind and I looked up the segment and watched it again. Helena McAlpine was also diagnosed with a lobular carcinoma with all of her 23 lymph nodes affected. I was blown away. Lobular carcinoma occurs within 15-20% of breast cancers. Most of them are ductal. And I've not met anyone yet who had the same as me. Not that I've met her but she totally reminds me of my cousin Carla. And she's definitely inspiring and so positive.

I don't know how she is going now, but if you are interested in watching the original article click here. (I'm not sure if you can view this overseas though unfortunately :( )

How am I feeling?

That question I'm asked a gagillion times a day. So I better answer it aye?

Well. Like crap.

My face is acned up worse than my 15 year old self.

I fart a lot. And they stink.

I hurt. All over. Including the soles of my feet.

I can't drink wine/beer/vodka. It upsets my tummy.

My hair hurts.

My gag reflex kicks in anytime a pill even comes close to my mouth. I nearly choked on a friggin panadol today.

I'm tired and grumpy.

There. That sums it up nicely. 1 down, 5 to go. 1 down, 5 to go. We're going for cure. All those positive things I just gotta tell myself.

19 May 2010

My First Chemo

Well I had my assessment with my oncologist on Monday, who declared me all clear with my bone scan. So with the fact that we can't see any microscopic cells we were all ready to rock and roll with the chemo for the next day. Everything went so well, and so far with the fact I'm taking every anti emetic (anti nausea) they throw at me I'm feeling quite fine.

Here's how it went down yesterday:

Before it all begins. Looking a little bit nervous.

Getting the needle in. My nurse Stan did an incredible job. And he kept me laughing.

That was easy...

Close up. Not too bad aye?

Lunch time.

Nap time

Cuddle time.

The whole thing took about 4.5 hours to get through. It was the longest because it was the first one. Next time it should take about 2 hours. The time went so fast, and was quite fun considering the enormity of what was being put into me!
I woke up this morning feeling a wee bit nauseous, but taking the anti emetic drug really does work and it went away very quickly.

So far so good...next week might be another story as my blood count decreases.

17 May 2010

Weekend Away

An incredibly generous, lovely and anonymous couple paid for Owen and I to have a weekend away before chemo was to begin. So this weekend we got to stay at the Stamford Plaza in Auckland. Coincidentally it was the same hotel we had our wedding night in too, and we hadn't been back since (and that wasn't because as we were checking out we were asked if we had just been to our school ball. Can you believe it? We must have looked like babies!).

So we had a lovely time exploring the city, as its been a few years. I found this sweet little bakery in Lorne St, which sold all manner of exquisitely decorated cakes and buns so I couldn't resist buying some.

Here's a green tea sponge roll, with a red bean paste in the middle, and the other cake is a red bean cake which was so deliciously moist. Worth a look if you are in the area for something different. They also make tofu cakes, pork rolls and it all smells amazing. Its also a gorgeous looking shop. There's a few of these popping up over the central city, but this one is definitely the best I've seen.

We also got to Pat Menzies and I scored these cool red Vans for myself.

I love the colour!

Such a good weekend, and definitely a great way to have kept our mind off the coming week.

14 May 2010

Sweet Katie

Lately we've been having a terrible time of it with our middle child. She's always been stubborn and fairly belligerent but she's taken it to a whole new level. She never wants to leave my side, yet when she's home she's horrible to everyone. She's not been laughing and as happy as usual and although fighting with her brother and sister is also normal she's just taken it up a notch. Frankly, it's been exhausting and I've wondered where my sweet little girl has gone.

Then last night she asked me. "When are you going to be dead?"

Oh man.

My sweet girl has spent the last few weeks worrying about when I'm going to die. Wondering if she leaves for school will she come home to mummy? Or if Mummy goes to the hospital will she come home? How could I miss this?????
Oh the guilt. And the sadness she's been feeling like this and none of us have picked it up.
My poor baby.

So we had a chat. I told her that I'm not going to die from this sickness. The cancer has all been taken out, and the medicine I'm having will make sure it won't come back. She's not entirely convinced but she smiled and was happy and trotted off to school for the first time in weeks without a problem. Like a weight had been lifted.

Most likely she's gonna need a few more of those conversations to reassure her.

13 May 2010

Bone Scan.

Yesterday I spent the majority of the day at Auckland Hospital.

I was booked in for a bone scan for 2pm, but I needed to be there at 11am for my radioactive injection (oohh fun!). 
This takes 3 hours to get into the system so when I have the scan they see all my bones clearly. We were late getting there (Auckland traffic!!) so the day didn't finish until 3.30pm.
Again I made some finger nail marks in Owen's hand when I got the injection. He thanked God I've got a portacath for chemo, else I'd rip his hands to shreds every time a needle came near my arm.
I HATE NEEDLES! Did you notice? 
Anyway that wasn't so bad after all. It was over in about 30 seconds. So I went and had an ECG, which was cool.

Then mum took us on a tour to the Day Stay Oncology and Radiation areas and introduced us to some of the staff. One of the nurses gave me a card she had written on the day of my surgery. Reading it made me cry it was sooo lovely. I mean she doesn't even know me but like I've said, peoples reactions have blown me away. I love people.
Then we spent an hour waiting. So Owen got snappy with the camera.

All in all a good day, plenty of waiting but it was good to get familiar with Auckland Hospital as I'll be seeing a lot of it this year. And the nicest thing is that the staff were all super lovely (well my mum works there, so of course that's a given). And its so much nicer looking than North Shore Hospital!

I'll know results on Monday when I meet with Mike, my oncologist.

Johnnys' Idol

Look at this...

my wee man is helping his daddy..."I fixed the mower!".


07 May 2010

On start date, new things and Mothers....

Sorry for the delay with this post. I spent most of last week lost for words for once.

After finding out my start date for chemo I went into a quiet, reflective mood and I've still been processing the whole last month. There's been a lot of tears this last few days, but not all bad ones. I'm a bit emotional at the best of times, I've even cried during Home and Away, so that gives you an idea of my willingness to have a good cry. So its been quite a release for me.

So the start date? Well its next Tuesday, the 18th of May. Soon hey? Its good, because that means by the time I've finished all my treatment, summer will be around the corner and Christmas will be here to celebrate. And I'm secretly hoping my brothers will be here to join me then (hint hint boys).

New things which are exciting this week are a flash vacuum cleaner which was more a present for Owen than for me. He's so excited about it. Mostly because its got some flash gadgets.
But far more exciting than a boring vacuum cleaner is my new toy! Finally I've got my long awaited birthday present in the form of a new camera. A lovely Canon EOS450D. So I spent most of my mothers day playing with it.

Oh AND I got a new haircut. I've gone real short as a sort of transition to no hair at all. Owen was a wee bit heartbroken about that.

But Mothers Day was lovely.An early start (can you tell?).

Katie gave me pastries, even going so far as to turn on the oven, pop them in, set the timer and brown them nicely on top. The bottoms were still slightly undercooked but what did that matter? It beats burnt toast!

We watched Mamma Mia. Katie was engrossed. And then got a bit bored.

So did Johnny. So he trashed his room. Again.

We had a cuppa, cake and a dance to mums new Michael Buble CD. And a cuddle.

I love my mum sooo much. I know she gave birth to me and all (and always says I was by far the easiest baby out of us 3, Edwin missed out on that honour because I dropped him on his head) but truly she has been so amazing. So much in fact that when she leaves me to go home I feel like Katie did when she left for school this morning, except I don't kick and scream anymore.

I love you mum!

And I love being a mum to these ratbags. They really are the best.

02 May 2010

A Day in Pictures

Olive picking in Helensville, followed by an amazing lunch afterward. 
Of course being post surgery, I didn't do any picking I just watched and rested in the sun.

And now I wanna move to the country...