Sunday, May 31, 2009

Octomum's 'reality'...truth or spin?

I'm feeling a bit shouty today. Yesterday, I spent nearly eight hours in the emergency room with little Miss Sophia who was wheezing and coughing and generally not doing so well with the whole breathing thing. We knew that this was going to be situation normal for her as soon as winter hit given her dodgy premmie lungs - still, not fun.

So, the news that OctoMum has just signed on to star in her own new reality show irked me more than a little. As background, the plan is that "several events in the children's lives would be filmed in a documentary series. One of the events in the children's lives might be their first birthday.”

Why am I annoyed? Because this woman has eight premature babies (and six other children) at home and I will bet any money that the 'reality' of life in that situation is never allowed on our screens.

Life with a premmie is bloody hard work - I can't even imagine what life with eight must be like. When Sophia came home from hospital we had to give her five separate medications every day for four months just to keep her lungs working at acceptable levels. We still have to think twice about whether it's smart to take her certain places in case she picks up a bug, because a sniffle for a 'normal' kid could mean pneumonia for her.

But I'm sure that this 'reality series' will show none of that. Instead, it will undoubtedly be all sunshine and lollipops; the eight kids dressed in cutesy matching outfits and Octomum playing WonderMother as she swans around a spotless house effortlessly tending to her nanny-free flock. All intended to show the world that she wasn't crazy to do what she did.

If she had any integrity at all, she'd show life with 14 kids under eight years' old. Show the help she needs to cope with them. Show the mess, the chaos, the sheer relentlessness of motherhood, and the hard work involved in getting eight prems through their first year.

Now, that's a show I'd watch. Anything less is just spin.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fashion Smashion: All Sorts of Wrongness

I can understand why people find a style that suits them and stick to it, by wearing a host of similar clothes. What I don't get is why Mariah think that principle applies to her.

Perhaps Michelle Monaghan figures if she can't win an Oscar, she may as well dress like one.

And, well, we all know Paula Abdul is barking mad. And that's the only excuse for this dress.

Lemon Lamb Shanks in paper

Finding warming winter recipes that are relatively low in fat isn't as hard as you might think. Last night, I made these fab Lemon Lamb Shanks in Paper and served them with some fluffy couscous, low fat garlic yoghurt and greens.

They're packed full of flavour and are pretty much guilt free (and there's no mess!) Perfect for a cold Autumn (nearly winter...ugh) night...

what you need
4 large lamb shanks, trimmed
1 large lemon, cut into 8 slices
8 garlic cloves
dried oregano
baking paper
kitchen string

what to do
  1. Preheat the oven to 140C. On the kitchen bench, lie two long sheets of baking paper, forming a cross.
  2. Season a shank well with the salt and pepper and lie it on the paper. Sprinkle dried oregano over and cover with two slices of lemon. Add two garlic cloves.
  3. Wrap up the parcel and tie with kitchen string, using a knot that's easy to undo. Repeat with the other shanks.
  4. Place the parcels in a baking tray and bake for three hours.
  5. Serve as per suggestion above or with smashed potatoes and a classic greek salad.
Tip: Making garlic yoghurt is as simple as crushing a clove in a small tub and mixing well. Add salt to taste and you're done!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

When I grow up...

I love words. From the time I was old enough to leaf through the pages of a book myself I’ve been a voracious reader.

I get a butterfly feeling in my stomach whenever I enter a library or bookstore, surrounded by so many books, so many new adventures. I love the anticipation of cracking open the cover for the first time; the feel of the paper on my fingertips; the smell of the ink.

When I was a little girl I wanted to write, and I did. Stories, poems, you name it; I wrote it. I had my first poem, Breaking Up, written about the end of a friendship, published when I was 10. On reflection, I was pretty deep for a tween.

When I was 11, I saw a gap in the market and became the sole writer and editor of my primary school class magazine, which I called Wombat. This generated copycat publications called, rather unoriginally, Koala and Goanna.

By the time I went to high school, I knew writing was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life...and I'm lucky enough to have achieved that dream. Although my job these days is much more about managing people and projects, words remain at the core of everything I do.

Since I started this blog I’ve rediscovered writing for the sheer pleasure of it. Not because someone needs a brochure, or a strategy, or a script – but because I want to. And I’m pretty sure I’ll always feel that way.

I wrote this post as part of a Blogged challenge...this week, we were asked to share what we dreamed of becoming as a small child. If you have a blog and would love to join in some weekly fun, check it out! The next challenge starts tomorrow!

Manscaping advice from Gillette

You may have seen the Wilkinson Sword Mow the Lawn ad, featuring a bunch of glamorous girls getting busy mowing their lawns and trimming their bushes in a very thinly veiled visual metaphor for sorting out the bikini line!

Well, now it's the boys' turn. Apparently, trimming the bush makes the tree look taller...who knew?

Our first 'stylish' review

We're published! Our first review for Baby's/Kid's Got Style hit email inboxes around the world yesterday, and little Miss Sophia was there in all her stripey glory!

I've been writing up a storm for them, having done three reviews in as many weeks, with another due any day. I'm crossing my fingers that this little number is in the next package (and I really wish it came in adult sizes!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fashion Smashion: Fugalicious

Fergie needs a new tailor. Or more booty. Or just some taste.

Man Cold

Hub is feeling a bit swiney, which made me think of this excellent video. Of course, he's nothing like this. No, really. And I'm not just saying that because he reads my blog...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

First weigh in

This morning, not so much! It's been a good first week; I've replaced my chocolate and biscuit food group with fruit and rice crackers and have been generally keeping things low-carb.

The result? A loss of 2.1kg! I'm really pleased, particularly given that week included a night out (and a smidgen of coffee ice cream with chocolate sauce). Let's hope the will remains strong for the next seven days!

Monday, May 25, 2009

A new twist on an old favourite

I've been slowly working my way through a half lamb we bought straight from the producer a couple of weeks ago. Oh my, the meat is absolutely divine. If you live in one of their pick up areas, I urge you to give it a go - it's cost effective and a wonderful product. But I digress...

As you know, I'm on a wee health kick so I was looking for a roast lamb recipe that didn't involve lots of veges cooked in fat...and I found this little beauty, Anchovy and Garlic Lamb Mini Roast with Polenta. Served with broccolini, green beans and asparagus, it was a fabulously flavoursome twist on an old fave.

what you need

1 lamb mini roast (about 500g)
3 anchovies, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup red wine
¼ cup beef stock
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
steamed green vegetables to serve


2 cups water
½ cup polenta
25 g butter
¼ cup shredded Parmesan

what to do
  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Combine the chopped anchovies, rosemary, parsley, garlic and oil in a small bowl. Brush over the lamb.
  2. Place the lamb on a rack in a roasting dish. Roast for 15 minutes for rare, 25 minutes for medium, or 30 minutes for well done. For ease and accuracy use a meat thermometer.
  3. Remove lamb, cover loosely, rest lamb for 10 minutes before serving. While lamb is resting remove any excess fat from the roasting dish and place the dish over a medium heat. Add the wine, stock and jelly; scrape up any residue. Bring to the boil and reduce by about one third or until mixture is syrupy.
  4. To serve cut the lamb into thickish slices, arrange on top of the polenta and drizzle with the pan sauce.
  5. To make Polenta: bring the water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the polenta in a steady stream, beating constantly with a wooden spoon. When smooth, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. Stir in butter and Parmesan.
Source: The Main Meal

Close encounters of the KRudd kind

We don't have a lot of celebrities in Canberra apart from the odd MP or political reporter, so it's bit exciting whenever you see anyone well known. I often see Glen Milne at our local shops and had a small fangirl moment when I ran into 7:30 Report's Michael Brissenden in the fruit and vege section in the supermarket. Yes, I'm aware you'll probably have to google one or both of those names to have any clue who I'm talking about.

So, on an outing to Manuka (local cafe strip), it was with some surprise that I looked up from the golden retriever sniffing Olivia's hand to find a certain Kevin Rudd on the end of the leash! Apparently Therese had been pointing and smiling at Sophia, who was looking incredibly cute strapped onto Drew's chest in the Baby Bjorn...and I was too busy trying to stop Liv falling off the wall she was using as a balance beam to notice our brush with fame until we were literally nose to nose.

I wish I'd have said something more witty than "Oops."

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Childcare debate: a new perspective

We've talked a little bit about the big issue of childcare vs stay-at-home-mum care in a previous post (you can read it here). The general consensus seemed to be that there is no right answer when it comes to the question of what kind of care is best for an individual child - what suits one family may not suit another. You were very firm on the need for women to support each other in their choices, whatever they may be.

Well, new research has backed up our intelligent opinions, as Babblebaby recently found out. In their interview with Dr. Penelope Leach, author of a new book on child care of all kinds, they find that “the quality of care matters much more than the kind of care.”

I urge you to read the article - it's an interesting introduction to one of the few books which doesn't continue the polarisation of working women and stay-at-home mums. Let's hope it's the start of a new, more accepting approach to the childcare debate.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Roast double lamb cutlets w pumpkin puree & rosemary butter

This is what we're having for dinner tonight...well, kinda. Given we're in the land of healthy living, we'll skip the lashings of rosemary butter on top and serve it with loads of greens...

The original recipe is below, but if you want to make a low fat version, get the flavour into the meat rather than the butter. Marinate the lamb in a little olive oil (really, a bit is good for you), some chopped rosemary and garlic and then fry off in a non-stick pan.

Also, give the butter a swerve with the pumpkin puree - you really don't need it if you season it well with salt and pepper.

Give it a run - either way it's delicious!

what you need
4 x 4-bone racks of lamb
extra-virgin olive oil for frying

300 gm peeled pumpkin, cut into 4cm cubes
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

Rosemary butter
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
125 gm unsalted butter, softened
1 squeeze of lemon juice

what to do
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. To make the pumpkin purée, steam the pumpkin for 20-30 minutes until very tender. Purée with the butter and oil until very smooth and light. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  2. For the rosemary butter, place the garlic, parsley, rosemary and salt in a mortar and bash with a pestle to form a rough paste. Add the butter and lemon juice and combine. Set aside.
  3. Season the lamb racks with sea salt and seal in a hot pan. Place in the oven and roast for 18 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to rest in a warm place for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Cut the lamb racks in half to give you eight double cutlets. Place two double cutlets on each large plate, dollop a little rosemary butter on top and serve with pumpkin purée. Give a good grind of pepper, and serve.
Source: Neil Perry for Gourmet Traveller

Fashion Smashion: Red Carpet Redemption

Yes, Angelina, I know I have been very critical of your yawn-inducing red carpet choices (did someone say black strapless?) but all is forgiven after this effort at the ''Inglourious Basterds' premiere in Cannes.

The softness of the gown's colour and draping, the lighter hair, the 'old Hollywood' makeup...and those legs. 'Nuff said.

Source: Bloomacious

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I don't get it.

Am I the only female on earth who doesn't think Robert Pattinson is hot?

NB: For those of you who don't spend your life consuming mindless celebrity gossip, he's the lead vampire in the Twilight movies.

Source: Dlisted

Bleach: the new 'do' for two year olds

I'm sorry, Gwen, but are you fecking kidding me? You've peroxided your two-year-old's hair to match yours. Methinks perhaps that's taking the matchy-matchy a little too far (and that's not even mentioning that it's probably not a great idea to use BLEACH on his little head.)

Source: Dlisted

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fashion Smashion: Unique or Ugly?

It could just be that I'm spending far too much of my time in jeans these days, but there's something about each of these outfits that just doesn't seem to quite work. What's your verdict?

Exhibit A: I dunno, Whitney Port, but if someone said 'hey, why don't you wear this beige satin jumpsuit with draped harem pants, and team it with some coral heels, a chain purse and chunky necklace,' I'd be inclined to show them the hand. But that's just me.

Exhibit B: Or you, Katie Holmes, a cropped leather jacket over a ruched dress and worn with grey suede shoes with ankle straps? You seem to be unsure whether you're Biker Chick, Formal Chick or Nana Chick. And please don't tell me that's one of your lost me with that satin and lace jumpsuit monstrosity you co-created.

Exhibit C: And, lastly, you Ali Larter. Not only is part of your top missing, but apparently you are wearing sheer chiffon pants (yes, I can see your hand in your pocket, so I don't dare look anywhere else).

Lemon-Feta Chicken

To kick things off, here's the recipe for that yummy looking Lemon-Feta Chicken above, adapted from a Donna Hay recipe. Please excuse the tired looking green beans, it was one humdinger of an arsenic hour with the kids last night!

So, no, there's no oozing sauces or flaky pastry, but it was pretty good! Even hub liked's my lower-in-fat-than-Donna's version.

what you need

2 chicken breasts
Feta cheese (I used the Mainland Feta Crumble for added speed!)
5 sprigs oregano
1 tbs lemon zest
2 tbs lemon juice
Olive oil, to drizzle
Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper

what to do
  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Place chicken, a small amount of feta, oregano, lemon zest and juice in a baking dish
  3. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper
  4. Bake for 18 mins or until chicken is cooked through
  5. Serve with couscous and green veges or salad.
  6. Serves 2.

...and so it begins

A while ago, I blogged about my complicated relationship with food and how I now consider it a good thing that I don't obsess over every kilojoule. Well, it's also part of being on good terms with my body to know when to start looking after myself a little better.

I'm now edging up to the weight I was when I was 12 weeks pregnant with Sophia and am feeling decidedly uncomfortable in my clothes (and out of them!) So the time has come for action.

A few of my lovely Twitter Friends and I have joined forces to support each other while we endeavour to eat healthy meals and get our butts moving. We each have different goals which we'd like to achieve by September.

My goal? I think 8kg is about right - we'll see when I get close to it. I'm not so worried about the number, more how I feel. I've decided to blog about my 'journey' (to use that tired old reality tv cliche) because I figure it's harder to fall off the wagon if you have people watching you hit the dust! I'll be 'weighing in' every Tuesday.

So, from now on, you'll be seeing a lot of recipes with a lower fat content but I hope they'll be just as yummy. And, if you've been wanting to kick start a healthier way of living, join in...the more the merrier!

How old is too old to have a baby?

Days like today, when I've had about 30 minutes sleep since 3:30am (thanks, Sophia), I'd say 36 is too old. But British woman, Elizabeth Adeney (above) is set to give birth and she has an extra 30 years on me...that's right, she will become a mum for the first time a few weeks before her 67th birthday.

A successful businesswoman, she says she feels fit and ready to have a child and is not concerned about the lack of support available to her (she is divorced and has no family in the UK). She also says she wants someone to leave her money too. I say, let's see how sprightly and independent she feels at 2am when her baby has a raging fever and all the money in the world can't make it better.

Her son was conceived by IVF treatment using a donor egg at a clinic in Ukraine as British clinics refuse to treat woman over 50. I have a bit of a problem with this.

I think menopause is the body's way of saying "hey, having a baby at your age probably isn't such a hot let's just shut off all that equipment that would give you that option." Donor eggs, of course, mean that women of any age can fall pregnant even if their own are no longer viable.

Having had to get some help along the way with our first little treasure, I firmly believe in the right of any woman to access assisted reproduction - but I think this really pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable.

Ethical issues aside, has Ms Adeney given any thought to how she might cope with kicking a soccer ball with her son at, say, 77? Or whether she'll even still be alive to see him reach adulthood? To me, it smacks of selfishness.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Googlicious fun

...and now for something completely different! The lovely Iris from Fleur Delice posted this brilliant google 'getting you know you' game...I thought I'd give it a run, too.

The idea is to hit google and publish images which represent your answers to the questions. Excellent time waster...

1. Your age on your next birthday

2. Your favourite colour

3. Your middle name

4. The last meal you ate

5. Your bad habit

6. Favourite fruit/vegetable

7. Your favourite animal

8. The town you live in

9. The most useful thing in your house

10. Your most recent purchase

11. Something that makes you happy

12. Your first name

13. Your last name

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Oxtail Lasagne. Oh. My. God.

This is one of those 'blue moon' recipes. It's fiddly, it's messy, it takes hours to cook but Oh. My. God. This has to be right up there with my favourite recipes of all time. A twist on traditional lasagne, it's so rich and luxurious - the ultimate comfort food. You must try this at least once in your life.

Serve the lasagne with a green salad simply dressed with some olive oil, white balsamic, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper...the zingy acidity cuts the richness really well. And forget about won't have room after this!

what you need
60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
1.5 kg oxtail, cut into pieces at joints, rinsed and drained
150 gm flat pancetta, finely chopped
2 each onions, carrots, celery stalks with leaves and garlic cloves, all finely chopped
140 gm tomato paste
400 gm canned tomatoes
1 litre (4 cups) beef stock
250 ml (1 cup) red wine
60 ml (¼ cup) vinocotto
2 tbsp brown sugar, or to taste
6 sheets fresh pasta, or 8 of dried pasta
80 gm (1 cup) finely grated parmesan

1 white onion, cut into wedges
1 tsp whole cloves
1 fresh bay leaf
1.25 litres (5 cups) milk
100 gm each butter and plain flour

what to do
  1. Preheat oven to 160C. Heat olive oil in a casserole over medium heat, cook oxtail in batches for 10-15 minutes or until browned. Remove and keep warm.
  2. Add pancetta, onions, carrot, celery and garlic to pan and cook for 15 minutes or until pancetta and vegetables are soft, add tomato paste.
  3. Return oxtail to casserole, add tomatoes, stock, wine, vincotto and season to taste with sugar, sea salt and ground pepper. Cover and cook in oven for 4 hours or until meat is falling off the bone, cool and skim fat from surface.
  4. Shred meat, discarding bones. Place meat and sauce in a saucepan over medium heat, bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer until sauce is reduced to about 6 cups. Keep warm.
  5. For besciamella, combine onion, cloves, bay leaf and milk in a saucepan over medium heat, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and keep warm.
  6. Melt butter in a heavy-based saucepan, add flour and stir over medium heat for 1 minute until combined and starting to colour. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in milk until combined. Return pan to low heat and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. Season to taste.
  7. Increase oven to 180C. Spread a third of oxtail sauce over base of 2 litre-capacity ovenproof dish, then spread a third of besciamella and a third of parmesan and top with 3 overlapping pasta sheets, trimming to fit. Repeat, then top with remaining sauce, besciamella and scatter with parmesan.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden. Serves 8.
Source: Gourmet Traveller

Love from the blogger community

Loads of thanks to the girls from BonBon Rose and Leila from That Random Leila for passing on some lurv via the One Lovely Blog Award. Glad that you enjoy this little piece of me!

I'm going to pass it on to some of my fave blogs (in addition to my award-givers'!) I've capped my list at six but I find new, fab blogs every day so expect future editions!

Florida Girl in Sydney - witty writings about a new life in Oz
Jo Blogs - general hilarity but particularly funny for those watching Australian tv
Potty Mouth Mama -
the misadventures of a modern day mama
Wisdom of the Open Mind - Musings of a gen Y writer, mum, photographer, and all-rounder.
Bellsknits - if you're into knitting, you'll love this blog. I'm crap at it, but visit to admire those who can!
Canberra's Got Style - fabulousness from our nation's capital.

Leila was also sweet enough to feature me in one of her 'Getting to know you' spots...check it out here if you're interested!

Ugly Little Mirrors

A friend of mine commented the other day that your kids can be ugly little mirrors. By that, she meant you see the worst of your behaviour reflected in what they do and say. We've had a few incidents this week that have made me a wee bit more conscious of what comes out of my mouth.

Incident 1
The girls and I had popped down the shops for a few things. Waiting to get charged $2 for daring to take money out of someone else's ATM, someone came up behind Olivia and startled her. "Fok!" said she.

Although an appropriate commentary on bank charges, I wasn't sure I'd heard correctly, so I asked, "What did you say, Liv?"

"Fok, Mummy. He scared me!"

Oh dear.

Incident 2
I'm a...well, let's call it 'assertive'...driver. I greatly dislike people who drive slowly in the right lane, slow for green lights and general idiocy. But I'll be trying to voice my frustration internally after hearing Olivia join me in berating other motorists.

"C'mon people! What are you doing? Get out of my way!" pipes the little backseat driver. She's even perfected the 'up-palm' (the exaggerated 'what on earth was that?' hand gesture).

Again, oh dear.

Incident 3
My lovely hubby is also an assertive driver...a little more so than me, as evidenced by Olivia's contribution to his communication with other drivers:

"Oh, for fok's sake!"

Needless to say, we are both washing out our mouths with soap and watching our manners a little more when we're in the car. Ugly little mirrors, indeed.

If you're a parent, what have your kids done that has made you think about your behaviour?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fashion Smashion: Cannes Film Festival

Love them or hate them? The jury's out on more than the best film at the Cannes Film Festival. Cast your vote...which stars get the thumbs up and which should be booed off the red carpet?

Tilda Swinton

Robyn Wright Penn

Isabelle Huppert

Elizabeth Banks

Eugenia Silva

Asia Argento

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Shu Qi

Source: Zimbio

Chicken saltimbocca with creamy polenta

You know, it wasn't until I started blogging the meals I'd made and enjoyed, that I realised how many new recipes I try and how much cooking I actually do! That probably says something about the amount of time I spend thinking about food.

This is another newie which I found on my fave food website, ... it didn't disappoint.

what you need

4 medium (about 220g each) single chicken breast fillets, tenderloins removed
8 slices prosciutto
16 fresh sage leaves
50g butter
375ml (1 1/2 cups) water
500ml (2 cups) milk
170g (1 cup) instant polenta (cornmeal)
20g (1/4 cup) finely grated parmesan
60ml (1/4 cup) thin cream
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
125ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
Finely chopped fresh continental parsley, to serve
Steamed broccolini, to serve

what to do
  1. Use a sharp knife to cut each chicken fillet in half horizontally to make 8 thin pieces. Place 1 piece of chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Use the flat side of a meat mallet or a rolling pin to gently pound the chicken until about 7mm thick. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
  2. Place the chicken pieces, cut side up, on a clean work surface. Top each piece with 1 slice of prosciutto and 2 sage leaves. Roll up firmly to enclose the filling and secure with a toothpick.
  3. Melt half the butter in a frying pan over medium heat until foaming. Add the chicken and cook for 4 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Set aside for 5 minutes to rest.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the water and milk in a large saucepan over medium heat until mixture almost comes to the boil. Gradually add the polenta in a thin steady stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until all the polenta is incorporated into the water. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until mixture thickens and polenta is soft. Add the parmesan, cream and remaining butter and stir until parmesan melts. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat the frying pan over high heat. Add wine and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until liquid is reduced by half.
  6. Divide polenta among serving plates. Top with chicken, drizzle with wine sauce and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with steamed broccolini, if desired.