30 May 2011

Orange Cupcakes with Choccie Doughnut Topper

If you love cupcakes and doughnuts here's an idea of combining the two to make one yummy treat! Especially nice on a cool grey day like today.

These little cuties are such crowd pleasers. The kids love them, the grown ups love them. The waistline doesn't, but as with all sweet treats...well they are a treat! I'll make sure I'll eat a plate of brocolli before having one of these.*

*no I won't.

Anyway. These are orange cupcakes, iced with a chocolate orange buttercream and a chocolate baked donut placed on top...like a little hat.

28 May 2011

Things I'm Loving

Loving all the lovely support and word, thoughts and prayers this week.
My appointment went very well - in fact the mammogram was quick (but not necessarily painless) and found nothing, and the ultrasound that followed was even less eventful. The doctor couldn't even find the cyst! So that was so good, and such a relief.
The meeting with the surgeon afterwards was easy, as we got to speak instead to his registrar. He informed us that he was sending a referral to the plastic surgeon and at least at their end they were going to do what was needed to move me along the track to surgery. This was all so good, and such a relief.
I'd been barely holding myself together beforehand, so walking out of there it felt like another big deep breath of fresh air.

Loving that my darling Ashley and her incredible loving partner Cinzah had their much anticipated and already truly loved little boy. Loving cuddles with a newborn!! I feel like a surrogate aunty this week.

Remembering Grandma Betty, a year this week since she left us. Loving that she left an amazing legacy to her family. Getting together on Thursday to remember her - with all 10 of her great grandchildren zooming around her house.

Loving my girls, posing for me for my assignments. Being so beautiful they helped me get top of the class this week! Hehe.

Loving Bayswater Senior Choir singing for Friday assembly...bless.

Loving fires on cold nights, making fresh bread, morning fun with my boy since he ditched full daycare and started afternoon kindy, coffee's from Vauxhall, cake from Little and Friday and friends to laugh and cry with.

Loving that life is full and beautiful, if not always easy.

24 May 2011


Okay well, tomorrow I meet with my surgeon again. I'm crossing fingers and holding out hope that he'll tell me I'm on the waiting list for reconstruction. This is my little light in the long dark tunnel - having my body restored...well as much as possible anyway. I'm also keen to ask about the possibility of having my right breast removed as well, and how that works into the plan to give me nice normal, as symmetrical as possible boobs. I'm asking this because the nature of my cancer was aggressive. Being a rare diagnosis -  with it being lobular and Her2+ means that I could be a good candidate. Or so I was told.

Before that meeting I'm also scheduled for an ultrasound and a routine mammogram. NOT enthused about the mammogram one tiny wee bit. The good part of that is that there is only 1 boob they have to squash. Sorry men out there.

The reason I'm having the ultrasound is because they did find a small possible cyst or fibroadenoma when I had my last MRI . This was also there last year before treatment so its not a worry - if it was cancer it would have been affected by the chemo and it hasn't changed since last year.  Regardless, I'm still super nervous and I find myself second guessing them. What if they decide its not a cyst (as that's what we thought my cancer was last year) and want to take a biopsy. Will I fall apart? I'm getting myself a little worked up about it already see?

So, if you like...can you just say a little prayer for me tomorrow...for peace mostly. That whatever happens I will be okay?

Anyway...I'll let you know how it goes. 

19 May 2011

Tummy Warmer...

I've had so much great feedback about the tips for chemotherapy article. Thank you to everyone who has read it and commented to me, its great and humbling to know that the things that come out of my head can be helpful.

Anyway this week has been SO COLD hasn't it? Well up here in Auckland where the temperature has dropped to the low teens. The rest of the country are laughing and sniggering at our patheticness and are probably thinking that early teens are downright tropical...but certainly our house isn't built for cold weather so I've been walking around with my many layers and my trusty old cardie. BUT along with cold days and nights come warm, hearty and filling dinners and puddings (soup, casseroles and wonderful roasts!). And since our feijoa tree is finally dropping MASSIVE sized fruit, I was requested by my family to make a giant feijoa and apple crumble. This is a great pudding, but also doubled as an addition to the girls lunchbox, and again as an after school snack. So versatile and so filling and so delicious. As I used wholemeal flour, I'm hoping it was good for them too!

What's your favourite winter warming dish - savoury or sweet?

I served this hot out of the oven with vanilla icecream and a granita made from the stewed apple and feijoa syrup - absolutely divine.
The recipe out of the Edmonds cookbook is perfect for the crumble topping, but I swapped plain flour with wholemeal and used brown sugar. I think its much nuttier, crunchier and richer in taste that way. You could also probably add oats if you want more crunch.

So, the recipe is:
75g butter, 1 cup wholemeal flour and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Rub the butter in with the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, stir through the sugar and place on top of stewed fruit. Bake at 200deg C for 30mins or until nicely golden on top (and usually the fruit syrup is by now spilling out everywhere...which adds to the deliciousness!).

17 May 2011

Tips for Chemotherapy Treatment

I've been reflecting today. Trying to remember the lessons the last year has taught me. Tomorrow will be exactly a year since I first sat in Day Stay and received my first round of chemotherapy.

The fabulous and hilarious Stan administers the evil concoction...

A part of why I included so much about my treatment and myself on this blog was because I want other people to maybe benefit from my experience - or at least to know there is someone else out there who knows what they are going through...or about to go through. So here's my advice from my own personal experience to anyone who is making this journey through chemotherapy and even for those who have someone they love going through it.

1. Keep energy for yourself and those most important to you. For example, during treatment I had a woman I knew through one of my children's kindy who kept texting me and sending me invites to have the kids over, or for a party. Some of these I replied to and declined for reasons that were perfectly valid or otherwise I didn't reply as I was just too low on energy or too sick to even think about lifting a finger to text back. I did that a lot, and I did it to everyone. There were no special cases. Towards the end of treatment I recieved a text from her asking why I never replied and what the hell was my problem? How did I react? Well normally I would have cried but by this time I had grown a spine and any unanswered messages/emails/text/phone calls were because I just plain couldn't. Or if I had a small bit of energy then I would have spent that on my husband and kids. Because basically and shortly put - they were more worth it. I was unapologetic and told her exactly why. Being honest is the best thing really.

2. If your bloods are low - keep away from crowds.
This was a hard one for me. I missed a whole two and a bit terms of school, hardly visited the supermarket and parties were occasional. I couldn't visit Owens dying grandmother in hospital and I was so often an absent mother - I couldn't go to school for pick up except maybe for the very odd occasion, and only if my bloods were okay. But this is important - If your bloods are low and you expose yourself to the worst bug carriers (kids) then you are going to spend time in hospital. Don't do it. Being neutropenic can actually kill you. I was unlucky enough to have to spend a week in hospital because I caught the tummy bug that went around while my white blood cells were way down. There are some things you can't control and that's your own kids coming home with a bug! But exposing yourself as little as possible will help.

3. Don't be hard on yourself. Before I started chemo I had heard of one woman cutting down her daily run to a walk and a weekly run when she went through chemo. I blithely imagined it wouldn't be that hard for me so I committed myself to a daily morning walk to keep active and balance out the steriod weight gain. HA! As if! There were many days where just making it to the bathroom was a struggle. One time I managed a walk around the block with about 20 stops along the way and the whole way around I though my heart was going to explode. I was so disappointed in myself. So when I had the energy I went hell for leather and then left myself empty for the next few days. I eventually found a balance, but I had to be kind and listen to my body.

4. Take ALL the anti nausea drugs prescribed to you. Don't imagine that you will be okay because you felt fine the first night after chemo. Because its the next day and the day after that which start beating you up. Its much harder to get a handle on nausea and vomiting once its started, so take everything that you are told. Its not worth being as sick as a dog because you don't want to take more drugs!(which is the way some people think - after being pumped full of nasty toxic chemo drugs!)

5. Accept as much help as possible. If someone offers to cook for you, say yes. If they offer to collect your children from school, say yes. If they offer to fold your washing, shop for food, bring you fruit and veg, clean your house....say yes. All those little things are energy sappers. Even my husband who thought he could keep a handle on all these things lost it after a while and we ended up with some amazing help. We couldn't have kept our sanity and gotten through it without the help and assistance from some magical people. Its also a chance for others to help when they feel SO helpless. 

6. Check what WINZ can do for you. This organisation is great and there are many things people don't know about if they don't ask. I went in to see what help we could have as I wasn't working, and we were offered a great amount of help. Because I was Johnny's main caregiver we were given a subsidy for up to 50 hours a week for childcare and also the cost of fuel to and from the hospital for the entire duration of my treatment, including doctors visits. (Note: we didn't have private medical cover so the deal might be different if you do) Its worth filling out a few forms for this in the long run as it saved us around $2000+ per year, plus the staff were incredibly understanding and kind. If your gonna have cancer, at least let a few things work in your favour!!

7. Make regular special dates. If you have a significant other in your life then when you get the chance to spend quality time with them - do it! Thursday nights became Owen and my date night as I needed something to pull me through the week and make me look forward to something. It was also the day before I crashed after a Tuesday chemo infusion so I had a little more energy. Even if it was a walk, or a movie, dinner, a drive, or a couple of drinks next to the fire it was always so nice to have an excuse to dress up and pretend normal for a wee while. I got out the wig, the lippy, the clothes I could (just) fit and we would pretend for a night that we were just a normal couple. And its something we still do every Thursday now and its been great for our marriage. 

All dressed up...but no lippy!
8. Expect that some people will disappoint you. Like the woman up above most people aren't going to understand. It hurts though when there are people you love and imagine are close who back away. Everyone deals with a cancer diagnosis in SUCH different ways. What I couldn't handle was people not educating themselves properly and therefore jumping straight to the conclusion that I was going to die!...awkward!
But its okay, its not worth your energy to make everyone happy as you have to focus on yourself. Some people will surprise you with their distance, and others will surprise you with their overwhelming desire to help.

9. You will probably hear LOTS of cliches. "It happens for a reason". "Stay positive". "You'll be a better, stronger person". I heard those A LOT. I don't particularly like them either. It doesn't mean the person saying them is wrong, because I'm sure most of the time they were just trying their best to say something meaningful. The thing is though, staying positive is downright hard, nigh impossible at times and if you've been through anything traumatic you are probably nodding. Through most of chemo it just kept hitting me over and over again how my main thought was "this is so unfair" or "I can't believe this is really happening". I cried all the way through the 18 weeks, pretty much everyday. It's not something that you can be positive about, apart from focusing on the end and knowing that one day this will all be finished and you can maybe be yourself again. 
Here's a tip for those who don't know what to say to a cancer patient: The best thing to say rather than "be positive" is "you WILL get through this". You can't promise they'll be a better stronger person because of it, because maybe they will, maybe they won't. But they will get through it, and if you are there encouraging them and letting them know you care even in the littlest way...then that means more than all the cliches in the entire world.

You're not always going to look pretty though....
So there you go. There's a general couple of tips from me. If you have any questions or found this helpful then I'd love to know. I've always said I am open to discussing my journey and if its helps even one person not feel alone and scared then I'll be pleased.

15 May 2011

Mothers Day Away

Last weekend we went away for a couple of night, with Mothers Day falling on the Sunday it was a welcome break. Owen had a round of golf at the local course, ending in $3 beers and a massive feed at the end. I love these country courses - everyone is so friendly. Rural NZ is well and truly alive and special.

And of course I love this place - the air, the light, the peacefulness. Northland is magical.

03 May 2011


Its been a while since I've done some Delissilink love. So here goes.

Check out this blog Made From Scratch by the talented Rachel McMahon who also owns an online boutique selling such delicious things! Her boutique sells such gorgeous handmade items such as this stunning wee girls dress by Ashley Scott (of Owl Baby Shower fame). I've seen this dress in person and I loved it so much I nearly wanted another baby to put in it. Of course I don't really.

Did ya get a glimpse of the royal wedding cake? It was pretty impressive, some of the most incredible piping I've seen. But I'd take the chocolate biscuit McVities cake over a fruit cake any day.

A new range of cupcake papers from Kiwi Cakes for the allergy sufferers. Great idea! Check out Sandras post and the products on offer.

On the allergy topic, there is a new blog by the lovely Barbs, who I met back when Mads was at kindy. She has a daughter who has allergies to nuts, dairy, soy and much more, making baking and feeding her a challenge. Over the years she's perfected recipes for her sweet daughter and the rest of the family to eat and enjoy and now she's sharing them with the blogosphere.
Check out her blog Feeding Emma, in particular the recipe for Chocolate Brownie and Feijoa Sorbet. Yum!

If you are around Auckland this Mothers Day how about entering the Delish Cupcakes competition for a Mothers Day High Tea? Click on this link for more details.

One of my new favourite blogs to read What Katie Ate is a beautifully photographed food blog, which makes me want to reach into my computer screen and eat it all. THIS chocolate cake? Ahhhh its 7.30am and all I want is THAT CAKE. 

Enjoy your day (if you're like me you're probably gonna think about this cake all day huh?).

02 May 2011

Owl Baby Shower

Last week, in between this...

Why, yes she did cut her own lovely hair.

And this...

Why, yes he did cut his head open at Motat and require 4 hours at Starship

I spent some lovely quality time with Alison and Ashley helping out Ashley make goodies for her and Cinzah's baby shower (which was yesterday). We had so much fun combining our talents and creating lots of yummy food while the kids fought and watched tv in the lounge (thanks weather).

Ashley and Cinz are on a strictly gluten free diet so although the ginger cookies and cake were glutinous the cupcakes and cookies in the jar weren't and Ash did an amazing job getting these all out and looking mouthwateringly delicious. And she's the one who should have her feet up resting before her little boy arrives next month!

Here's some pics from our week.

Ashley whipped up a batch of peacan & chocolate and cranberry and white chocolate cookies. They were deeelicious! Of course, they needed test tasting....

And then we made a chocolate cake for the table centre. Which was topped with this wee guy here. I'm a little proud of him. Its the first cake topper I've made. I know he's a little on the chubby side but I love him anyway. He's kinda cute.

Here's the cake and the rest of the set up at the party.

And Ash made all the owl bunting as well. See? So clever!

Now...we just need to wait for baby to arrive!