Baking, birds, and booked

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

I made reference a while back that I haven't been cooking. It requires too much energy, too much thought. Anyone with kids knows that trying to plan something that all the kids will eat (without too much complaint) and is quick and easy on a work night, is near impossible. I'm too distracted and my energy is used up in staying focussed. On a good day, I'm actually able to make it from our office to the bus station (which is 800m straight down ONE street) with minimal distraction and without an overload of memories of all the places Duncan and I had been together in the city. Planning something like dinner, that's a whole new level of energy I don't have.

What about weekends? Or my Friday off? Surely I have energy then? Hahahah fuck no. I'm so exhausted from adulting and mentally surviving for four people all week, that those days off involve a hangover from Thursday dinner and drinks, and sitting on the couch watching whatever series I've chosen to further distract me from reality on that day. Its Game of Thrones right now. Yes I know everyone has seen it, yes I know I'm behind on this one, no I'm not addicted, and no I'm not happy Sean Bean and Jason Momoa are dead and Joffre the little wiener is still alive.

And weekends, well, they're not days off. Currently they involve Friday night rugby, Saturday water polo x2, and Sunday water polo training. Throw in the odd birthday party, Bledisloe Cup match, or sleepover, and there's the weekend gone. Yes there's sport during the week, too. Saturdays are just a little full on.

So when I can outsource an energy-sucking chore, opposition is met with little resistance. I have go to work everyday. I have to do laundry. I have to make sure the kids brush their teeth. But I don't have to cook. UberEats does that for me. I swear I should have bought shares in the company, I'd be killing it right now.

When Duncan was on chemo, he had varying desires for food, if any at all. Because I didn't want to be in the kitchen and away from him, we just ordered shit all the time. Kids loved it, I got to be with him, he got whatever he was craving, it was just too easy. When Jen, Marty, and Qin were here, it was the same. None of us could be bothered cooking, we just wanted to be with Duncan. And after Duncan died, and ever since, the idea of being creative or inventive or even managing to follow a recipe has felt like the most laborious task. So I haven't.

Until recently.

Brooke and Ellie have started coming over for dinner with us on Thursday nights. Brooke's partner, Gordon, trains with friends on that day, and Ellie gets on really well with the kids (not Goose so much yet, but we need Goose out of her "teenage" years) so it makes sense to spend the evening together. We ordered out the first night, Brooke cooked with Oscar the second week, she brought food the last time, and I figured I needed to step up and do something for the next time. I made tacos. It wasn't hard or even thought-requiring, but damn it was good. Just to have something homemade again.

Carol came by with Sam and Emilia last week, we had san choy bow. Again, easy as. And delish.

So as usual and to no surprise, I have Carol and Brooke to thank.

Now for the baking. I have in the past loved to bake, but I'm one of those annoying moms who bakes with healthy alternatives and likes to make things somewhat less sugary and processed. No, I don't go as far as agave and xanthan gum, but I use rice malt syrup and add chia and flaxseed and use wholemeal flour. And while the stuff I make ends up being delicious to my friends and me, the kids would prefer some shit lamington from Coles or a fucking Mars bar. Needless to say, I haven't been overly inspired to bake.

Before last week, the last time I'd actually baked anything from scratch (or even from a box for that matter) was Carol's Oreo cheesecake birthday cake that I made, early last May. Duncan was still with us, at one of his better stages over the months leading up to his death. Carol had been an absolute godsend during COVID and lockdown (I note she still is a godsend) and grabbed prescriptions, brought our groceries, brought meals and food, alcohol, stayed and drank with Jenny out on the front porch, she became family. Its not an accident that I say she's friends that are family repeatedly.

Anyway, I wanted to surprise her with a birthday cake, as her husband would be away for work that day (and her previous birthday was even worse - yes I brought her a bottle of wine for that one). Of all things that are important to me as a friend as a human, is making sure people I know I appreciate them. (Is that one of the 5 love languages?). So I made her a cake. I ran over to her house when she got home from work and before she left to celebrate the day with the kids and her mom, Penny (who I have yet to meet but feel has been on this journey with me, having lost her husband and Carol's father when Carol was 20).

Carol, Sam, and Emelia

Oreo Cheesecake

Long story short (or looking back at the previous paragraph, not so short) Carol told me later a story about how she's never needed anything on her birthday, except for a cake. I didn't know that at the time, and before I brought the cake over, she was convinced she'd be celebrating her birthday without a cake, and was just a bit disappointed about it. Us moms. We don't need gifts and glory. Sometimes just a bit of thoughtfulness.

Thank God I stepped up that night.

That was the last time I baked. Until last week.

Mike and all of us at the Drive Christmas Party 2018

I've mentioned my trainer, Mike. He's good. Like really good. He started me on my fitness journey beyond running. And my health journey. As in, though he probably wouldn't eat it, he's the reason I add chia, flaxseed, and wholemeal flour to my kids' food. He's supportive, kind, encouraging, and understanding. He knows when to push, knows when not to (and just pushes not as hard), and is a counsellor to many of his clients (including Brooke and Carol). We swear equally as much as one another, we get annoyed with the same stupid shit stupid people do, and we give each other advice on what TV series to watch next. He's like a little brother to me (and I don't think Scott or Steve read this blog so I know they won't be offended) and I'd do anything for him and his girlfriend, Teagan, who is equally wonderful and loved by all of us.

Mike, Teagan, and Mim

A few years ago I baked some goodies for Mike and Teagan at Christmas to say thanks for everything he'd done for me and how supportive he was. And just for his friendship. One recipe I made in particular he loved. I do note, the stuff I made him was again recipes I'd never tried but thought it was a good idea to use for a Christmas thank you. Luckily they turned out. This one in particular:

Matcha Coconut Cake with Lime Glaze

It was so good in fact, Teagan asked for the recipe so she could make it. Now its not Teagan's fault she couldn't nail the recipe, and its kind of not my fault that I did. I followed the ingredients but not the actual method. But not because mine was better than the actual recipe's, but mine was easier. So after a couple of not-so-successful attempts, Teagan gave up and stopped making it. She seemed pretty happy when I texted and asked for the recipe last week, so they could both enjoy it again. Yes, I had to ask for it from her because it had been so long since the last time I had made it that I couldn't remember which recipe it was. Yes I know that's pathetic. And yes, there was a lot of pressure for me to actually make a decent cake.

Mike was thrilled when I brought it in for our PT session which happened to fall on his actual birthday (and the second State of Origin match, which means you can eat whatever you want and calories don't count). He even took a photo and texted Teagan (of course not knowing I had to ask her for the recipe in the first place).

After they ate it he said it was brilliant. I thanked him for letting me know. And for being the sort of person that wouldn't tell me even if it was shit.

That's why I love him. And that's why I wanted to bake again. Because I appreciate him and its apparently my love language (even platonic big sister love). Next baking adventure is Max's birthday on Tuesday. But I'm kind of thankful he only wants banana splits.


This afternoon we're getting a bird.

We've been waiting for the right bird. Heaps of birds on Gumtree and down the road at Brookfield Pet 'n Produce, however all of us in our hearts want a rescue. Goose was a rescue and Maebs was a rescue from going to rescue and they're both part of the family now. The fish, well, you can't really rescue fish I don't think. But we're sticking with being a 100% rescue family.

The lorikeet that we found at the RSPCA a couple of weeks ago we were told was overly bitey and probably not suited for kids. Shame, she was beautiful.

Yesterday however, we found a lovely cockatiel that needed a home. We're not sure if its tame, but we do know that it was brought to the RSPCA in the animal ambulance with a broken wing that has since been healed. I told the kids it might end up not being one that we can put on our shoulder and play with like our previous birds, but they didn't care. They're just happy to provide a home to a little bird without one. My kids have the biggest hearts.

We get him/her at 2pm today. Pictures to come.


Its been a while since we've been able to camp. So much sport. Not complaining. I love watching the kids play. Well, when I'm allowed to watch (someone please tell me why 40,000 people can watch the Wallabies play in one venue but I can't watch Alex play at St Rita's College being the only parent trying to sneak in? Just let me sneak in for fuck's sake).

St Rita's COVID viewing section

There is a bright camping light at the end of the athletic tunnel however, with Oscar's 7s rugby finishing last Friday (not really celebrating that because most of the team is made up of my rugby family I talked about in my rugby post, and I really do love them). Alex has one more weekend of water polo for this term - well, of regular season anyway. State championships are the weekend before school starts in January, which means more swim and polo training over holidays (but not weekends!) (I don't think). Max's sport is Tuesdays, so need to worry about that.

So, Carol and I have booked! The two families are going away for the weekend to somewhere new. We've invited a few others to come but like me, they have prior commitments - work Christmas parties and whatnot. I'm trying to convince my beautiful friend Sharon to take a weekend away and come with us - I said with or without her kids but really hope without so she can get a VERY well-deserved weekend away from the 5 men in her house. Just come and drink and eat with us Sharon! Let me spoil you in food and laziness!!

I'm looking forward to reporting back on the weekend. Even more so, I'm looking forward to getting away for the weekend. And more than anything, I'm looking forward to using all my 3am online shopping purchases.

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