23 November 2012


Do you know I have 3 Monica's in my life?

I spent a brief period of time when I was younger feeling like I needed a name change...to a more common normal name. I remember wondering why couldn't have my parents named me Amy instead of relegating that fabulous name to my middle name? Anyway one of my best friends ended up being an Amy, that would have just been confusing so its just as well I made peace with it.
Until 5 years ago I had never met another Monica apart from the beautiful lady and best friend of my mother to whom I was named after. She is one cool Monica to be named after.

Now in 99 days a very special Monica is about to become my sister-in-law. She's a petite, curly haired Latina firecracker with a delicious laugh and a wicked sense of humour. She's delightful and talented and  I can't wait to be at this wedding because I can't think of a better person for my brother.

I also more recently met another Monica, who even more coincidentally has shared the same breast cancer journey as me. She is a very very smart lady with a lot of good advice to give, mixed in with a lot of goofy laughter. This week while relaxing in her garden in the sun and a coffee she gave me some food for thought about my upcoming surgery. Some very wise and decent advice.
So I went home and thought about it.

Then my dad talked to me and said the same thing.
Then my someone else said the same thing.

Don't you love when something that has been weighing on your mind and you need to make a decision it helps to make it when people are all on the same wavelength? And the advice is good?

Well anyway, the upshot of all this rambling is that I have decided to put off my surgery until after March 2013. This way I can enjoy our trip of a lifetime to watch my brother marry his Monica in Santiago without having to worry about pain or fatigue. 
The boob can wait; creating precious family memories is the top of the list of my life.

I feel really at peace and good about this now - its been a long road of waiting and re-evaluating. There will be an end to it eventually!

19 November 2012

Lemons into Lemonade...kinda

Johnny's been playing in a rippa rugby tournament every Monday after school lately. 
It's about a 25 minute drive away up the highway to a little inlet in the bay. 
Today I was so so tired I felt my eyes drooping and body aching - the couch was begging me to sit on it and stay there. I knew if I sat down I'd never get back up!
So I dragged myself to school to pick up the kids, grab some waters and afternoon teas and high tail it up to the sports field.

We turned up in our usual rush and disorder only to find out there was actually a bye and of course I hadn't checked the schedule I had so carefully put on our fridge (I usually lose these important pieces of paper) so I didn't forget this kind of thing.

Of all the days when a lie down would have been ok!

Instead of trekking back home back up the highway I decided perhaps a read of the paper while the kids played in the park, then a slow gentle stroll across the beach was in order.

Not exactly a lemons into lemonade in the dramatic sense but it was one of those moments I could have been easily frustrated and flustered and instead I just thought - stuff it, lets just enjoy while we're here.

I guess it was just what we all needed...

Strolling along a beach does something to my soul in a very good way.

(see the pohutakawa beginning to blossom in the background?)

(this cute wee shack was for sale...I was dreaming of a perfect beach cottage hideaway!)

Yeah I didn't have my camera, only my phone. 
Yeah my lens was rather smudgey!

15 November 2012

Rose with French Vanilla Tea Cupcakes

These delicately flavoured cupcakes I actually made for a Dilmah tea competition and also for the fact that I have been wanting to try infused tea baking for a while.
I found the perfect way to infuse butter from the Cupcake Project website and it really works very well. The technique is described below as I've used it in the buttercream. I infused the milk with the tea for the cupcake batter.
The little cupcake stands came from my sister in law Meagan who purchased them in London. Thanks Megs! They are so perfect!

1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/2 cup rice bran oil
1/2 cup milk
4 Dilmah Rose with French Vanilla Tea Bags
1/2 teaspoon lemon or white vinegar

Buttercream Icing:
6 Dilmah Rose with French Vanilla Tea Bags
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon milk
A drop of pink food colouring

Preheat oven to 180 deg C

Start by heating the milk in a small saucepan with a very low heat. Add the 4 teabags and leave for 5 minutes to infuse. Once the time is up remove from heat and let it cool. Once it is cool add the lemon juice to the milk (this creates a buttermilk consistency).

In a medium sized bowl add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir.

In another bowl with an electric mixer add the eggs and beat for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and continue beating on a high speed. Add the vanilla and oil and keep beating for another 30 seconds.

Stop the mixer and slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the infused buttermilk. Beat until just combined.

Pour mixture into cupcake tins and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked right through.

While the cakes are cooking start on the Rose with French Vanilla infused butter for the icing.

Melt the butter under a low heat until just liquid. Add the contents of the teabags (you will need to break these open) and add to the butter. Keep on the low heat for 5 minutes.
Using a fine sieve strain the butter through it, pressing hard on the tea leaves to get as much flavour out as you can. Discard the tea leaves and set the butter aside to cool and harden.

When the butter has hardened you can put it in your mixer.

To make the icing add the hardened infused butter, milk and vanilla essence to the mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment slowly mix the ingredients together.

Add the icing sugar and mix until all ingredients are combined and smooth. Add the food colouring and turn the paddle attachment on high and beat for 1 minute until the buttercream is light and fluffy (if it is too stiff, add a little milk until its softer).

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and serve!

Makes 12-14 cupcakes

I've also entered these into the November Sweet New Zealand hosted by Kitchen Maid

13 November 2012

Never Ending Saga

The seemingly never-ending saga of my journey towards a reconstructed breast has taken an incy wincy tiny step forward. 
No I STILL don't have a date but I am supposed to hear back any day now (I've been ringing every week to hassle them and remind them I exist!).
I have however been booked in for a chest and abdominal cavity CT scan up at Middlemore in two weeks time. This is a good start, it means they are keen on getting me ready.

When the surgeon comes back with his annual leave dates then they'll fit me in. I'm still hoping and praying and crossing all my fingers and toes he wants to do my surgery before he goes on holiday....please Mr Surgeon!?!?!?!

If they can't fit me in I'll have to put off the surgery until after March next year as we are going to Chile at the end of February and I CAN'T travel 6 weeks, preferably more, after surgery. Its going to be hard enough to move around my house let alone travelling on a plane. Besides I really want to enjoy my big brother getting married without worrying about my own health.
I really really really don't want to wait. My brain has been fixated on the December surgery to go ahead and I think if they can't do it I'm going to be a little bit heartbroken. On the other hand I'm trying to be all cool about it as I'm sick of this whole thing dominating my emotions, however getting a job, planning my support team and just putting my life on hold is proving very difficult until I'm sure what I'm doing.

In the meantime...we wait. 


08 November 2012

Delissimon - Made With Love. A Collection of Sweets Treats

This is possibly my most exciting post yet.

My very first ever book is done. Finished.

Here, look!

This has been an immense project as I have made the recipes, baked, styled, photographed and edited and typeset the ENTIRE thing all by myself. I had help from two amazing friends who gave me their time to edit and proof read for me (thank you Emma and Ash!!) but otherwise its all been me. The reason it had to be me only is because this is my final portfolio to hand in for my photography diploma. This is what almost two years of studying has brought me to and I'm so so pleased with the result. 
I'm also exhausted! 

Anyway I'm trying to find a way to make this available for purchase as I've had an OVERWHELMING amount of requests for a copy (thank you everyone who has requested one or more! Its unbelievably and wonderfully uplifting!).
The only problem I have is that it is currently really expensive to print it.
So I don't expect people to buy it at this price.
I have plans to print it via a New Zealand publishing company but this may take longer than expected. So you might have to wait a wee bit to have it in your actual hands - but it will be worth it!!

At least I can officially say I'm a published author. How cool is that?!!