31 October 2011


Last week I got a phone call from the Manukau SuperClinic to confirm an appointment with my plastic surgeon to discuss my reconstruction surgery. Whoop whoop! Hi fives all around!

The plastic surgeon Owen and I met with last year was my first preference as he was such a lovely man, however because of that and the fact he is good he is booked out solid. So they have given me the Head of Department. We're pretty happy with that!

The Manukau SuperClinic deals with a lot of plastic surgery and is the "home base" for the breast cancer reconstruction team. The government gave them a heap more money last year to reduce waiting times for women such as me. I'm very grateful. In fact National have really had my back in the breast cancer department firstly with fully funding Herceptin and then last year finding $8 Million to reduce the horrible waiting lists. Keep in mind this isn't just any breast enhancement surgery, but an important step for women who have been ravaged by the loss of breast and  much much more. Giving women - mothers, wives, sisters, daughters a chance to feel like women again if that is what is important to them. For me, well if I was older perhaps I wouldn't care, I don't know. But I'm only 31. Being 31 with one breast is horrible to be honest, it hampers what I wear and going swimming is a bit of nightmare so its easier not to. I feel old and unsexy and mutilated. And I'm much too young for that.

What struck me last week was that I announced on my facebook page my excitment at this development, and once again the reaction from friends and family was so lovely and encouraging. Every step along this journey I've never felt alone in support in that area. There was plenty of banter in upsizing, perky new boobs and modeling a new chest etc. Funny? Yes, but true? Probably not. Realistically I'll be lucky to get the cup size I've always been and will have to settle for whatever is left to scrounge together a boob.
Last year when I had my mastectomy I was originally going to have an immediate reconstruction, which involves removal of breast tissue by the breast surgeon, and then the plastic surgeon steps in and he would have given me a silicon implant (that's the easy version). Less scarring, immediate results. But then my cancer had to go and get more complicated - rapidly and dramatically increasing in size and giving us all a big fright and there was no chance of that happening. I was told it would take another 3-5 years to have a breast reconstruction done. At the time I wondered if my surgeon was cryptically trying to tell me he didn't think I would last that long so there was no point spending money on me. Then I realised he meant the waiting lists were horribly long. Phew. Everything was so scary back then I almost chuckle at the absurdity of my thinking.

Back to what's ahead now though. The surgery I'll have will involve putting a bag under my skin where the breast implant will go and then it will be gradually filled with saline over a period of weeks, perhaps months. When it is finally at a size we are all happy with or its the best I can get I have another surgery to put the implant in. But that's not all.
When I finally have my breast I'll always have a big long scar cutting through it which will go through to under my arm. I won't have a nipple. That's another surgery where they make me a new one out of my own skin and tissue and sew it on. Then the areola gets tattooed on if I'm still game to have them played with. Its an intense process.
And this isn't even mentioning the right boob, which is feeling incredibly left out right now. I'm still determined to have that one removed too, so if they can time it right and get them done on the same operation then that would be so great.

I wanted to write all the above information, not to make those who bantered with me feel bad, because I love banter and jokes and I feel secure in their support and love. But I also want the truth and the right information to be out there. Having breast reconstruction doesn't mean getting a new pair of awesome boobs, but just a step in the healing process, healing of the mind.

I know I linked to this site last week, but I'll leave you with a few beautiful images of women who have done or are to do what I've got ahead of me. Photographs by Jay David for The SCAR Project.

29 October 2011

26 October 2011


I haven't done one of these in a while, but since Breast Cancer Action month is drawing to a close I thought I'd show a few choice links for that.

This first one here, from Cake Wrecks, shows the insanity that bakers can go to just for a sale. Thank god I haven't seen anything like this here in NZ!

The Save Seven project, a series of clips by seven NZ women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer at different stages and times of their life. Very powerful and worth watching.

Watch this video...its awesome!

And finally, the most powerful photography exhibition I've seen yet. The Scar Project by David Jay. Probably because it represents my reality and can't hide behind a cute pink ribbon. I cried buckets when I first saw it and it still brings tears to my eyes.

Oh...and go give yourself a check after you've looked at all of these. The men above should have helped give you some pointers ;) hehe.

25 October 2011

Kiwi Valley Farm

On the first proper sunny day of the holidays we headed out with friends to Kiwi Valley Farm in Henderson Valley.

In true kid style all the kids pretended they owned horsies and took rides on tractors every day. They fed lambs, goats, chickens, llamas, ostriches (rather gingerly...those beaks!), cows, donkeys. There's rabbits, rats, mice, possums, pigs, piglets, birds and a rather big bull. Yeah being a farmer is fun...until it gets a bit stinky or a bit noisy. And hot. Then they were quite happy to hop back in the car and head off again.

But this place is great for kids, there's plenty to do! Tractor rides, farm bike rides, mazes with secret fairy caves, noisy silly donkeys and most of all horse and pony rides. HEAVEN for little girls and boys (and big ones too). Spring is an ideal time to come as the weather is not too hot, and of course the lambs are all being born. We were allowed to pat a wee lamb that was only 4 days old!

When we first turned up we thought it was quite small, but its deceiving and after the kids have been on the tractor ride, taken a farm walk, run around the maze, had a drink, slurped an ice block and you've ordered a much needed (and very hot!) coffee from the very good cafe then time has raced by. It's a great place to take kids and give them a taste of country life. There's also a really cool shed to hire for parties.

Johnny's first horse ride!

I'm not sure about the characters in the maze though...this one even made me scream.

Johnny made a friend. While he still had food in his hand.

12 October 2011

Kaitaia Fire Cupcakes and Giveaway

Well hello there cupcake...you look delicious and chocolatey....I'll just have a little nibble. Oh okay why not the whole thing, can't let a cupcake go to waste.

Oooh why is there a party in my mouth...and someone brought matches?

These beauties come with an extra little kick. If you are from New Zealand you probably know what Kaitaia Fire is...if you are not then Tabasco Sauce is probably its closest cousin. In fact you can use Tabasco Sauce instead. But Kaitaia Fire is closer to my heart. It's made in the town of Mangonui where me and Owen honeymooned 13 years ago.

These are also gluten and dairy free! Whoopee!!

Kaitaia Fire and Chocolate Cupcakes (also known as Chilli Chocolate)

1 cup gluten free baking mix (I use Healtheries brand, its never failed on me)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 eggs
3 tablespoons melted dairy free spread
2 tablespoons soy milk
A good dose of ground chilli flakes - I used roughly a teaspoon.
2 teaspoons baking powder.

Mix all the ingredients on high in your mixer for about 3 minutes. Stop and add the baking powder. Test the mixture to see if it suits your level of spicy. Add more to taste if you wish!
Spoon into cupcake papers and bake for 15 mins on 180deg C.

I added the Kaitaia fire to the buttercream mix - and used dairy free spread and soy milk instead of regular milk and butter. It turns out so delicious and creamy.
2 tablespoons dairy free spread
a good few dashes of Kaitaia fire to taste
2 tablespoons soy milk
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups icing sugar.
Beat the spread, Kaitaia fire and milk together with the cocoa, then add the icing sugar. If the mixture is too stiff add small increments of liquid to bring it to the consistency you want. Add more spice if you like!! Its up to you!

Eat and enjoy!!

But WAIT!! There's more!!

Update: Congrats to Miriam from MakeItGiveIt for winning the prize. Your bottle will be on its way shortly!

I have one bottle of Kaitaia Fire Chilli Pepper Sauce to giveaway to a lucky reader. Leave a comment and tell me how spicy you like your food (or if you don't at all) to go into the draw!! Entries close on Tuesday 18th October at midday. This is for NZ residents only though (sorry!!). Don't forget to include your email address!

Your Help Please!

Atypical Hemolitic Uremic Syndrome. 

Have you heard of it? Probably not because its extremely rare and incurable. And a sweet little 21 month old Auckland boy called Jethro Morrow has it. This is how his facebook page explains it:

Source: NZHerald

There is no cure, and no treatment guaranteed to help him survive. It is just trial and error to keep him stable as this condition is so unpredictable and spontaneous. 60% of children die within the first year of diagnosis. The complications associated with this illness are
• Kidney failure
• Seizures/Neurological problems
• No response to supportive treatments
• Return of HUS even after kidney transplant occurs
• Severe Hypertension (high blood pressure)

For Jethro to have a chance at a long life they need to get him onto a drug Soliris, one of the world's most expensive drugs which is not guaranteed to work but will give him a shot and a chance to live a life that's more stable. The biggest hurdle however is that it costs $500,000 yearly, and he would need to be on it for the rest of his life. So far any application for funding has been rejected based on the fact its an ongoing expense.

Considering this is a rare rare disease and this beautiful boy is one of the youngest in the world to get this it is sad they cannot get funding for this. So Jethro's family need our, the great kiwi public's, help.

Here's an article from the Herald this week, and here's his facebook support page. Please read the article to find out more and anything you can do to help or give then please do.

The account to donate to is: 

The Jethro Morrow Health Trust
38 9012 0102064 00

06 October 2011

A post about more lemons...this time with lime and coconut

Lemon. Lime. Coconut. In my head the combination summons up images of summer, long cool drinks on the  deck in the balmy evening with that slight tinge of sunburn on the cheeks. A sunny feel-good trio of flavours.
This cupcake is moist, tangy, sweet and so satisfying.

Lemon, Lime and Coconut Cupcakes

1 1/4 cup plain flour
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
Rind and juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
2 teaspoons baking powder

Combine all ingredients except baking powder in bowl and mix on high for 3 minutes. Add baking powder when light and creamy and mix to combine. Pour into 15 cupcake cases and bake for 15 mins on 160deg C or until springs back when you touch. Set aside to cool.

Once cool fill with lime curd and top with buttercream from this recipe here - instead of peanut butter I used a pina colada flavouring. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Your friends will love you for this one!!

05 October 2011

A post about Lemons and Meringue

I was going to follow up those photos from the previous post with the recipes but I didn't in the end as I thought I'd save that for another post. So here's the first of three.

The lemon meringue tarts were the most popular and went down a treat with everyone. Except for the part where I was a little uncoordinated (or perhaps a little tiddly) and ended up throwing one, quite accidentally, at Owen's head. He didn't want it after that. I thought it was pretty funny though.

Lemon Meringue Tart. 
Recipe adapted from the outstanding Hummingbird Bakery.

Here's the 3 components:

1. Pastry - a basic shortcrust pastry here. I used the one from the Edmonds cookbook as it makes a perfect amount for either 17 small tarts or one large tart. Or you can use bought frozen sheets.
2. Filling - the easiest and most delicious I've tasted. It just means you have to separate 8 eggs!!
3. Meringue topping - in the recipe book there's an option for an Italian meringue method or the simple method of whipping up egg whites and baking the pie for a further 20 mins. I used neither. I went for the Swiss method of heating the egg whites and sugar together over a simmering pot of water in the kitchenaid bowl then whipping it up. MUCH easier for me. But you can decide which works best for you. In any case if you use the Swiss or Italian method you can guarantee the egg whites are completely cooked through which is safer for the old or very young, immune compromised or pregnant people in your life.

8 egg yolks
2x 395g sweetened condensed milk cans
Freshly squeezed juice and rind of 8 unwaxed lemons

1 basic pie crust, partially blind baked (170deg C for 10 mins, the bottom of the pastry should still be slightly raw)

Mix all the above ingredients together - it will thicken naturally and pour into partially baked pie crust. Bake in 150deg C oven for 20-30 mins. The filling should be firm to the touch but still slightly soft in the centre, not wobbly. Leave to cool. Can be left overnight also.

For the meringue topping:
7 egg whites
400g caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used paste).

Combine the egg whites and caster sugar in metal bowl and heat over pot of simmering water, being careful not to have the bowl touch the water. Keep whisking until mixture heats to a smooth liquid (there should be no sugar granules if you rub a small bit between your fingers). This takes roughly 8 mins.
Using the whipping attachment whip the mixture on high until it is just like meringue - fluffy and light, then add the vanilla. I keep whipping on a low to med speed until the mixture has cooled a bit. You are now ready to spoon or pipe it on to your filled tart(s).
I used the blowtorch to brown the edges but you can just put it in a 150deg C oven for 20 mins to get a nice golden brown crust.

That's about it folks. It really is the most delicious tart!

03 October 2011

Dad's 60th

What a full on weekend!!
We had a party for my dad on Saturday night for his 60th birthday, which was lovely and tons of fun. I made a dessert table and was in charge of taking photos. Until I had one too many drinks and the camera went forgotten...oops!! Sometimes the camera just needs to be put down for the sake of a good time hey?

So here's the photos I managed to get from that night. Complete with the baking done for it.

Getting the baking ready...
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts

Our entertainment

Lemon Lime and Coconut Cupcakes
Eddie, with Lisa and mum in the back.

Birthday Boy. My lovely dad.