Monday, 31 December 2012

Keeping pace


I stepped into 2012 packing boxes with a tree change on the horizon.The promise of a busy year ahead as the Little Drummers prepared to start kindergarten .

We welcomed two new puppies, Jed and Dashi and Ziggy, our cat disappeared ...for good.


Every puppy should have a boy ~ Erma Bombeck
Life was good and the big day arrived Feb 6th with 4 sets of twins joining them - 5 pairs in total.
Sadly, little Jed was only with us 6 weeks.

In March we survived a white ant invasion (termites) - a lot of our stuff was damaged , some irreparably. Keep Calm - yes I nailed that ! In the end I resolved it's just stuff.

My sights were set on running the City to Surf in April and I started training for an event I'd wanted to complete for years. I chose to sponsor Team World Vision

May my DH bought me this battery operated device for Mother's day - never thinking how significant it would be a month later.
June was the most defining moment of my life to date... my world shattered when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer  and I had a double mastectomy a week later.

The Little Drummers turned six on July 1st and less than 4 weeks later I started my first round of 4 chemotherapy infusions, in Sydney.

There were and are miles to go ...




I was focused so much on my goal to run [and walk] the City to Surf in August .Two weeks after my first chemo - I crossed the line. It was so gratifying , especially to raise $1000  for World Vision with the help of my family, friends and online community. I got to hug the gorgeous Grace at the finish line.

In September I kept moving forward to build a better life for myself , dwelling less on the negative ...well I tried. One of the reasons I'm blogging about my breast cancer journey is to raise awareness. Encouraging women to have a good feel every chance they get is so important.



October, a different round of Chemo {Paclitaxil weekly x 12- only 2 more to go} began at my local Cancer Care Centre. We were both so grateful that the exhaustive traveling [700-800km return] to Sydney for treatment was over.

I started to feel stronger , as this current chemo is less intense and by the end of November I was at the half way mark. We also welcomed new calves to our little herd.

December ...how did it arrive and end so fast ?

I have struggled to know what to write the last 6 months without whinging too much about chemo and surgery side effects or banging on about breast cancer awareness. No-one would be much interested and I'd be wasting my breath. I don't need sympathy and I never asked for anything except understanding.

I know of others doing it much tougher so I've felt reluctant to say how I am feeling physically and emotionally.

Cancer is complex and I had no idea before I was diagnosed how complicated breast cancer is ..so many different types, stages and treatments.

I am TWO infusions off finishing chemotherapy {insert wild fist pumping} - Chemo today was postponed till Wednesday because it's a non public holiday , Public holiday for the hospital. I will still continue a different infusion every 3 weeks for another 10 months.

I have felt very overwhelmed,  I feel crushed by the significance of so many unrelated things and despair over things I can't change. Many things are a mystery to me.


2012 has not been the best of years for me but here I am on the threshold of a New Year.

As I stumble leap into 2013 I know that there are good things ahead that will bring me joy, happiness and contentment. Sometimes when our life has been shaken up it's hard to believe good is ahead...

Life is full of seasons and we weather all manner of storms* in any given year. I enter a different season by the hand a faithful God, who leads me on.

The knowledge that He cares for me and holds together the pieces of my brokenness, keeps me afloat .


My blog helps keep the memories ...because right now it is shocking !


Did 2012 get the 'thumbs up' from you ?
What was your highlight ?
Are you ready to leap into 2013 ?

*By the way I really wish it would RAIN !

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Wordless Wednesday ~ All is Calm


All is Bright

Peace on Earth ..(idea from here)



Silent Night
Oh Yes, yes it is ...

Mother & Child
Mum this is our 4th Christmas in these T-shirts ...2009 - 2012

2009

May the gifts of peace and joy be yours at Christmas time and happiness dwell around you wherever you go 
May your home be blessed with laughter and love every day of the year ! 
PS - it was all good fun and lots of laughs for Christmas Photos.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Sony Vaio ~ Escape to the city with Ben O Donoghue

On December 11th [drove down 10th actually] I had to travel to Sydney to see my Breast cancer surgical oncologist for my six month review. It was all good news too.

Fortunately for me it coincided with the chance to see the Sony Vaio Tap 20 in action and meet celebrity chef Ben O’Donoghue, plus hang out with a few blogging buds.

Photo by Sony

One of my sons was receiving an award at the presentation day, so in fairness neither the Little Drummers accompanied me .I tagged onto Tina & Annabell's team.

The Grounds of Alexandria is like an escape to a secret garden oasis and I am going to take my boys and Hubby there soon.

The Sony Vaio Tap 20 had some amazing apps and I could see how much fun the kids (& adults) were having playing with the apps. I knew little about the Vaio, it looks like a PC screen , performs like a PC because it runs Windows 8  but you can use it like a 'huge' tablet. The touch screen is amazing or you  use the wireless keyboard and mouse. It comes with a built in web cam . The Sony Vaio is definitely top of the list when we next upgrade our computer.

The tablet was standing upright displaying the recipe, first up everyone was cooking pancakes.

Photo by Sony

Then barbecued peaches ...mmm.

 It made it so easy to view the recipe from any direction. The drawing and colouring app was a lot of fun. It can also be used flat on the floor for games. It is an awesome device.

Photo by Sony

Tired of doing the same things over the holidays? 
Want a selection of cool and inspiring summer suggestions in the one place?
I posted on my facebook page a month ago about  Sony Australia launching the ultimate summer entertainment guide called Summertainment -with 1001 ideas for summer.


You can be inspired by events listed across Australia and even cheerful and quirky things to do at home .Prizes are up for grabs too !



I love The Grounds ...grounds.




The team at the Grounds cooked us a a lovely lunch too. I loved the chips !

Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. I was not paid, nor instructed to write this post. I did however receive a goody basket  and I wanted to share this experience. All opinions are my own!


 

Friday, 21 December 2012

The Stick Up {giveaway}

Since early December the Drummer boys have been excitedly collecting Christmas cards and eating radioactive candy canes from all their Kindy friends. Fiercely guarding their card stash [for 5 mins before they rush to fridge] and re-counting who was on the naughty or nice list !

I didn't know what to do with all the cards. I was fed up with picking them off the floor and kitchen benches...  I can't recycle them till January, when they aren't looking !
Boys loved it that I let them stick things to the walls -finally ! It kept them busy for an hour rearranging them- best use of 4.95
When the Scotch Restickables arrived in the mail I knew the problem licked - minus the licking. We cut some of the tabs up to keep the cards in place.


The Kindy craft 'paper plate wreath' on the glass door has withstood everything including  wind & intense heat and being slammed shut.

My boys are addicted to making balls out of the coloured putty stuff , they steal and hoard it . Then it gets dirty and gritty or ends up stuck in the shoe tread or worse...

Last week I had to remove a huge squished in wad of it from the back pocket of Joel's school shorts...I still cannot pick it all out ! I thought freezing it would work -uh no  #FAIL

Restickables are a light weight mounting product with double sided adhesive, little squares of tacky goodness to mount precious school artworks or signs like this ...

Credit
The difference is when restickables get dirty (and loses its adhesive power) you just wash with soapy water, rinse and air dry - to restore stickiness and to be reused again.

Restickables sit 'flush' against surfaces and remove cleanly, without leaving any residue. Our teen's room needed sanding and re-painting from his efforts to keep posters and photos on the walls.

I need to re-do my motivation board with restickables now - lot of things are falling off with just blu tac!
I think it will be perfect for scrap-booking my special cards and letters too- because the tabs are photo safe and can be moved around without damaging anything.


The Christmas elves were a problem , fridge magnets were ugly on them and they fell off  whenever we opened the doors (like 50 times in 4 hrs) - restickables nailed it! The shapes are our favourite.

now cutely and firmly stuck.

 I wish it could stick the kids to their seats during dinner and keep the fridge door shut.


The Restickable range is available in a variety of sizes - small tabs, strips and shapes.
RRP is $4.95 at any Officeworks or Bunnings.

I have one set of the Restickable range to give away plus a few extra samples.

Leave a comment and tell me what you would use it for ?


1. Only Australian Residents are eligible to enter.
 
2. The winner will be chosen by originality and creative merit, not by chance. 
3.One winner .
4. Entries - Open 21/12/2012 - Close 11.59pm  31/12 /2012 AEST. The winner will be notified by email, and posted to mylittledrummerboys.blogspot.com.au - the winner has 5 days to respond or a new winner will be drawn.
5. Prizes are not transferable, changeable or redeemable for cash. 
6. Prizes sent out by PR firm directly will not be replaced in the event that they are stolen, lost or damaged in transit.

 Sponsored by 3M

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Flicking the bird + { giveaway }

Lately, I've been eating much less meat and hooking more Salmon on my fork, and vegetarian meals into my diet.

This year I'm flicking the bird ditching the Turkey for Christmas and eating Salmon instead...Tassal smoked salmon is my favourite.

I liked this idea from Nikki @ Styling you   Smoked Salmon Cucumber Canapes .

I did a taste test run and tweaked it by adding a small amount of cream cheese and since I had no capers [I don't eat them much] - I added chopped craisins instead.
 


Take your pick , there are hundreds of Christmas Salmon recipes online - I liked the idea of using cranberries and almonds together ...plus I had them in my pantry.


 Cranberry and Almond Crusted Salmon for Christmas
Ingredients 
2 x 200gm fillets (portions) of salmon (serves 2 as main or 4-6 as entree {remember to check for bones})
1/2 cup approx: fresh wholemeal bread crumbs (I used a thick slice off a whole loaf)
1/4 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1/4 cup whole or chopped slivered almonds or less (I used whole almonds because I had them - blitzed these in the mini food processor)
1 tablespoon or so fresh parsley (Thyme or whatever herbs you like - again I only had parsley)
1 heaped teaspoon of tahini (or melted butter if you prefer)
Squeeze of lemon juice and zest if you like it more lemony (I had no zest ...and I didn't want to drive 20 mins to the shop)
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Drizzle of Olive oil

*Depending on the thickness / size of your fillets you might need to add more crumb ingredients - I had the choice of flatter wide fillets or narrow, thick ones.

This crumb could be prepared ahead earlier to save time later...if you are as disorganised as I am.

Preparation
  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 °
  2. Place Salmon skin side down on baking paper.
  3. Blitz all the ingredients [except Salmon] to a medium 'crumb' - I used whole almonds instead of slivered... Season with fresh pepper as preferred.
  4. Press crumb mix gently onto top of fillets and drizzle fillets with a little olive oil (as you prefer).
  5. Bake salmon until the center is firm to the touch but not hard (or until the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork in the thickest part) mine took about 10 to 12 minutes to be pink and cooked through ...I guess it depends on thickness of your fillet. (I ate the thin bits off the end mid way through ...because the cook has to test)
  6. The crumb should hopefully be golden and crunchy by now !
  7. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. 
  8. I served it with Cranberry sauce - and Salmon goes well with salad or steam vege.
I ate the second crusted salmon fillet cold the next day and it was delicious cold too...

 Asparagus in Salmon with Dukkah  is a new find , that might go on the anytime Christmas menu too!

Credit : Tassal Recipe Finder

Salmon is considered to be one of nature's Super-foods as it is a rich source of Omega 3s (EPA & DHA). Just two serves per week provides the recommended intake of Omega 3 which research has shown is beneficial for heart health, depression and a range of diseases & conditions.
Anti-oxidants (vitamins D, E, B-carotene, minerals zinc, iron, copper, manganese and selenium) are excellent for boosting immunity, B vitamins for vascular and neurological health and calcium for bone and muscle health. 
Important to me is ...
Research into the benefits of Omega-3s for cancer is still in its early stages but so far the results look promising, according to the Dieticians Association of Australia’s Victoria Branch Oncology Interest Group. There is good evidence to suggest that Omega-3s can enhance our immune function and help slow tumour growth.

 Why do I like to eat Tassal - Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon ?
  • I love I can now buy fresh individual smoked salmon slices at the deli especially for lunch (sandwiches, nori rolls and salads) and not a whole packet . It's convenient...and I don't end up wa$ting any.
  • It's a protein rich food which helps to curb my hunger cravings making me feel fuller for longer.
  • Suitable for every meal from Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner - so versatile in that you can use it for appetisers, entree & mains - pastas ,or stir-fries or gobble straight from the fridge !
  • This recipe finder - has so many recipe suggestions.
  • Salmon is quick, simple and easy to prepare even for average cooks like me. BBQ, bake, Grill, pan fry, poach or steam - any way at all, in significantly less time than it takes to roast a bird.
  • Tassal is demonstrating a commitment to environmental and social sustainability to safeguard valuable marine ecosystems, through its partnership with WWF.
Tassal supplies Coles Deli with their fresh Salmon
Now for the ....Giveaway !


Leave a comment below telling me why should win ?

Wild Water and Woodsmoke Cookbook RRP $29.95
$30 Coles gift voucher – to purchase Tassal products
2 x Salmon seasoning salt rubs RRP $20 approx.


Terms and Conditions: 
1. Only Australian Residents are eligible to enter.

2. Entries not answering the question will be deemed invalid. The winner will be chosen by originality and creative merit, not by chance. Judges decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into.
3.There is one winner of prize as detailed above.- 
4. Entries - Open 20/12/2012 - Close 11.59pm  4/1/2013 AEST. The winner will be notified by email, and posted to mylittledrummerboys.blogspot.com.au - the winner has 5 days to respond or a new winner will be drawn.
5. Prizes are not transferable, changeable or redeemable for cash. 
6. Prizes sent out by PR firm directly will not be replaced in the event that they are stolen, lost or damaged in transit.

7. Subscribe to my blog HERE to receive MLDB updates.
8. Follow via Facebook or Google Friend Connect on the sidebar >>>>

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for how well  you cook your Salmon or the recipe -  I was not paid  for this review but I received a gift card to purchase Tassal salmon and other ingredients for the purpose of the review. 

What do romantic fish sing to each other?
…Salmon-chanted evening

Have you seen the romantic comedy  'Salmon Fishing in Yemen' ? 
Did I miss a good movie ?
 
 Tassal Salmon on Facebook
 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Wordless Wednesday ~ Beginning to taste like Christmas








Please visit others linking up in the same row as you , so everybody gets a visit and comments.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Touchy Time out - my first RedBalloon experience

I am beyond thrilled to announce that I’ve been chosen to be a #RedballoonMum




I have a choice of over 2000 possible Redballoon experiences and I plan to have the time of my life...though I am more inclined to be indulgent and pampering than adventurous ...you never know but I'm warning you I squawk like a chicken ; I am  !

As a mum sometimes our days feel excessively full and hectic no matter how prepared and organised we are or try to be...

When the day seems long busy and the "to do" list has overwhelmed us we all need to take a quiet moment to sit, breathe deeply...then drink a cup of tea or another favourite beverage , reflecting on the ebb and flows of life.

Often we don’t get much “me” time and when we do we still put our family first. That is when I feel my strength waning.

Anyway, I decided that a day spa pamper was just what the Dr ordered as my first RedBalloon experience. As I immersed myself in the list of indulgent possibilities I wasn’t limited by choices. I was very surprised by the range on offer.

On the day, I arrived very stressed after a rough start to the morning , running late due to traffic and being caught up in road works and because I thought my motorway toll pass had been taken from my car by hub...[no toll roads in the country]. Just as I decided I didn’t care [it was hidden behind the mirror)... I felt it. Then near the venue, the concrete island in the middle of the road prevented me turning directly into the right street and I had to do my the block completely at the GPS.

I finally made my way to Tonic Spa in Castle Hill and was warmly greeted , then offered a cup of herbal tea and shown ‘my room’ ...deep breaths ensued.



The massage room with soft ambient lightening , had a welcoming flower blossom and a little name tag bearing my name.
 

My tired ‘smelly’ feet were soon immersed in a aromatic foot bath filled with Dead Sea Salts, I was left to sip my herbal tea as I soaked and sighed with relief - then my therapist, Caitlyn, returned to give me a exfoliating bamboo & spearmint scrub ...brave lady ! It was bliss !


I hadn’t quite pictured how relaxing the massage would be – Caitlyn was brilliant she checked a few times to make sure the ‘pressure’ was sufficient . I felt all my tension reduce , instantly restoring calm and well being with every stroke, using pure Macadamia Nut Oil blended with beautiful essential oils that left my skin smooth and soft.
Sorry I couldn’t share any photos but I’m not partial to semi naked photos of myself - that would be too alarming.

It has been so long since I indulged in a massage...well my hubby does give my back a rub sometimes but he doesn’t have the same ‘touch’ (shhh don’t tell him) or patience to go for longer than 5 minutes.

I could feel the tension of the last few months melt away, lying atop a soft fluffy towel , soft melodic music playing. I just ‘drifted’ away during the 60 min decadent massage . My therapist and I chatted a little – to ensure I stayed awake ...snoring is not cool. She finished up with a soothing face massage.

The Tonic Spa massage all over body body was very euphoric , from head to toe , it unwound the knots and milked the tension that life builds up. I’d highly recommend it.


RedBalloon vouchers make the perfect gift especially for that hard to buy for family member or friend, as well as being an awesome experience – they are prefect for creating awe-inspiring  memories and as well as photographic evidence for friends ...though I don't plan on hot air ballooning I know my MIL has it on her bucket list.

I know most of us have so much stuff  and we buy what we really want now .A RedBalloon experience won’t take up any space in the cupboard or  on the shelf – unless of course you take some awesome evidence photos  ! My hub is very keen for a motor racing experience.

Do you ever feel like you just want to stop and catch your breath?
Would you like to press pause and take a sabbatical from the busyness ?
Or do you need an adrenaline infusion to get you fist pumping again ?
What would you choose ?

Thanks to RedBalloon - When you spend $129 or more on any RedBalloon experience you’ll receive $30 off if you enter the promo code RBXMAS12 at the checkout. 

T &C: Offer valid until 31/12/13. Promotional Code can only be used once per person. 
All purchases are subject to RedBalloon T&Cs, for full details see: www.redballoon.com.au/help/terms-conditions

Disclaimer: Thanks to the team at Digital Parents Collective for inviting me to be a part of the RedBalloon Experience program. I will be sharing my awesome experiences with you over the next 6 months. As always, all opinions are my own however the experiences are complimentary.

Check out RedBalloon on Facebook

PS-  Christmas deadlines here 

 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

On the far side of yesterday

No doubt you heard what happened yesterday unless you live in a cave.
Unbelievable, shocking, heartbreaking and so tragic.

I read this morning all 20 children were aged 6-7yrs old, the same age as my cherubs.
I cannot begin to imagine their parents grief or how their community will recover and rebuild their lives.

In the back of my mind is the fear from yesterday, scanning the list , I was relieved there were no twins.

All any of us can do when we encounter unfathomable tragedy so far away but so close to our own hearts is to hold your children tight always. This will shape the rest of their lives, knowing how much you love them, more than anything else.

I'm so very grateful for so many things this week .

I got free printable from Kate Hadfield

I'm most thankful , that the Drummer boys have their delightful kindergarten teacher again for Year 1. Class lists were posted at school Wednesday, they are the only boys from their class [11-12 boys] to have this privilege. Two girls from their kindy class will join them too.

Ms W is the only kindergarten teacher moving up to yr 1. There will be four classes , though they're away from their little buddies they will know enough of the 'new' boys and girls in the class.

I had asked purposely they remain together [they are very independent anyway], not so much because they are twins but rather for my benefit . As I will continue my treatment [until October] and have ongoing medical appointments etc - it is just easier for me to deal with one lot of classroom commitments, assemblies,notes or whatever.

I didn't think about it till afterwards but it is also a huge relief that I won't have to introduce myself to a new teacher and advise them about my breast cancer. I have a suspicion the teachers consciously and carefully left my boys with Ms W or she choose them because [I might be biased here] she told me they make her laugh and she enjoys them in her class.

I'm grateful too that the school year is drawing to a close, it's been a lovely year for them at school and their reports were pleasing. They have come so far and it's a joy to hear them read to me.

Today ,we are making Reindeer noses for their friends and that will make all the kids jubilant !
It's a pity, there are only just enough Maltesers so we cannot indulge.


What are you grateful for today ?

 

Thursday, 13 December 2012

How are you travelling ?


Dear Santa

How are you travelling ?


This year my boys have been 50% naughty 50% nice !
They just toe the line between cute and cheeky !

I know you are a busy fella and all , so I got a plan for me you  !


Choose exactly what you want for each boy or girl using the filters, for age, gender, brand and budget. From outdoor games and wooden pieces to arts ‘n crafts, bath toys, games and puzzles and more.



Then to save you time and reduce the reindeer emissions they will deliver to the any chimney down-under faster than you can hitch up the sleigh and without the frustration of parking.


They have all the cult-classics to best selling and bespoke brands from across the globe including Lego, Mattel, Fisher Price, Tolo, Alex and Munchkin. I love the Schleich Toys and I remember my little sister having Baby alive !

It's a virtual carousel of real bargains offering toys across a broad range of categories at comparable to retail price tags or less .

Santa wouldn't you rather shop online from the comfort of your favourite chair , sipping your favourite beer beverage instead of trying to beat path through the crowds.



What's more, Toysie's little helpers gift wrap (and deliver straight to your door) !




Go to toysie.com.au enter code TOYS1012 and get $10 off
Then spend over $99 and delivery is free


PS - Get Christmas orders in by DEC 13th 2012 11.59pm for Christmas delivery 


I wasn't paid for this review though I got to a voucher to spend at Toysie .
I choose some Lego City products to add to our arsenal of Lego - I may regret it. I just wish I'd known about Toysie when my boys were littles. The baby and toddler toys are awesome. I love the wooden toys especially.

I don't know about you but this year I'm struggling to stretch the budget. I want to keep Christmas simple but also see beaming smiles Christmas morning when the kids wake up.   

How do you make the Budget stretch ? 
How are you traveling ? '
Have you got Christmas in the bag ?
What won't you buying your kids for Christmas ?