Friday, 29 April 2011

How I met the Lovely Husband...

I have been a trippin' and a stumblin' down memory lane. About love. And how grateful I am that things turned out the way they did.

The lovely husband and I met way back when Optus first started out in Australia.

Remember being able to Dial 1456?



That was me and him. And a few others too, but not many.

Back in those days (1995?) the induction training for all new Optus employees was six weeks long. (Six weeks? Fark. Times have changed.)

So, Andrew and I had six weeks of getting to know each other/showing off to each other/nicking off for smokes together.

I liked him.

He had nice long eyelashes. And he was verbose and confident. A cynical optimist. Really. He told me that about himself on the first day we met, and I thought he was mad. Cute, but mad. I thought that to be a cynical optimist was a total contradiction. An oxymoron. But it's true and possible. He is, to this day, a cynical optimist.

We then worked and partied together for a year or so. We were friends. We talked, and flirted. We got messy together on Friday nights at the pub.



I was fond. In a very low key kind of a way. He had a nice bum. Him and his goatee and his general levels of hedonism: they were fun.

We were close, in a drinking buddy kind of way. He would kiss the top of my head as he got up go to the bar to get me a drink. In a way that made our other work mates raise eyebrows. But I kind of just sat with the idea of him, in anticipation.

And then, one day...he then went and got married to some other girl. (A blonde skinny thing.)

I could tell you I was broken hearted. But I wasn't. A little sad that my Friday night pash was out of action, perhaps. It actually didn't bother me. I think I kind of quietly knew that we would end up together eventually one day. But that was a deep down in my gut very quiet type of whisper.

Him getting married to someone else was just an odd detour. I think he was on a one way street with her, unable to chuck a u-ey.

Anyway...his marriage was short and sweet. As was my attention span, to be honest. I think he tried to take me on a few dates. But I never realised he was trying to woo me. I thought we were "just friends".

I then took a trip back to England to extinguish some old flames. And whilst I was away, I would get sweet voicemail messages from Andrew. Those messages from him, well...they made me feel safe.

He picked me up from the airport when I returned from that trip.

He drove from Palm Beach to Mascot at some ungodly hour of the day, to meet me off my plane and to carry my bags.

And I still didn't really get that he was wooing me.

A week or two later, I offered to take him for dinner, to thank him for all of his gracious taxi services.

We went to a beachside restaurant in Coogee.



And he had to walk me through it very slowly.

Andrew: So, what are we going to do about us?

Me: What d'you mean, us?

Andrew: Well, we can carry on as we are...you know, friends,

Me: Yeah........

Andrew: Or friends that hook up on a Friday night...

Andrew: Or you could go get a proper boyfriend on me?

Me: Yeah...

Andrew: Or we could do the sensible thing. Make it official? You and me...
Me: Oh. Errrrm, so which would be your preference then?

Andrew: The latter. Obviously. See if we fall in or fall out, perhaps?

Pause

Me: Oh. Okay then.

(I have to point out something here. The above script makes me sound very cool/charmless/disinterested. Not the case. I was blown away that such a lovely bloke was able to articulate so easily to me the options, and best of all, what he wanted.)

So, that was the night we got together.

We walked, hand in hand, to the top of the headland overlooking Coogee beach, and kissed and talked. For hours.

It was bliss.

There was little pomp or ceremony then.

And 16 years later, there is still no pomp or ceremony.

But it's still bliss....




(This post originally appeared when I guest posted last year over at Lori's place. I am now linking up to both the Weekend Rewind & Maxabella's Grateful....)





Thursday, 28 April 2011

Fat to Fit - the final one!

It's Fat to Fit time again...and as I hinted, Fat to Fit will soon be replaced by a snazzier new linky  - so watch this space!

For this week though, all you need to do is link up any health, diet, fitness, exercise or wellbeing post that you have...






1.Follow my blog (if you haven't already done so)

2. Link up your post about health, wellbeing, exercise or deting or healthy eating...

2. Grab the Fit Button and pop it on your blog sidebar, or within your blog post.






5. Go visit some other links on the blog hop - share the love, read each others posts, get inspired, follow and comment!

6. Don't forget to come back next week to check out the all new linky that I'm running with!




Wednesday, 27 April 2011

How to build engagement on your blog...

by removing the No-Reply@Blogger addresse in your comments...and enable email replies.

The reason I am going to post this is so that, if you want to reply to blog commenters, via Blogger, you can, directly, via email.

Or, if, as a commenter, you'd like bloggers to be able to reply to you directly and personally, they can.

So, if you are in this blogging game for engagement, for community, for building relationships, this may be useful for you...

How to enable email replies in Blogger

1. Go to your Blogger Dashboard, and on the left hand side, go to your profile section, and click the "Edit Profile" option:



2. Go to the Privacy Section, and CHECK the "Show my email address" box


3. Scroll down a little, to the identity section, and add the email address you want replies to go to.  (It's important to note here that you can use ANY email address - you are not restricted to your login email - I use a different one, just for blogging. So you can still maintain security and privacy if you want to...)


4. Scroll right down to the bottom left and hit SAVE PROFILE.



And  it's that simple.

If you enable this, it will mean that when you comment on any Blogger blog, that the blogger can reply back to you directly.

For even more handy hints on how to get the absolute best out of comments, Jane, of Life on Planet Baby, has a wonderfully detailed post here too: Life on Planet Baby: Tutorial: handling comments and email replies with Blogger

I hope that's useful...let me know what you think?


Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Lose track of time...


Reading?

Cooking?

Gardening?

Loving?

Blogging?

Tell me what pastimes you love to do, that you lose yourself in?




Monday, 25 April 2011

Wii'd off....

We bought a Nintendo Wii a couple of years ago. At first, it was so that my lovely husband could pretend he was Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix (or someone?!) by playing Guitar Hero.

Then it was me, wanting to beat him at Tennis/Bowling/Boxing/Golf

And we then aquired the Wii Fit balance board thingo, for me, in my ongoing attempt to get from drab to fab.



Then, my lovely husband got all clever and installed a new TV, and the Wii stopped working. It died.

Totally. Stopped. Working. Kaput. Much wailing and frustration.

And despite his best attempts to get it all fixed again, it just never happened.

The whole lot, numchucks, remotes, games, controller thingos, they all got chucked into a bag and stashed at the back of the entertainment cabinet, in disgrace.

Fast forward a year...

My son Charlie, at age nearly six, has been asking about "Nintendo Wii" and "Xbox" and "Playstation"...he is at the age where Sonic and Super Mario rule supreme...

So, my husband considers it all, and is just about to go shopping,  before I remind him that we actually have all the Wii stuff, redundant, that he has not able, or inclined, to fix.

Stalemate.

He is generous.

I am canny.

So I despatch them all outside for a long walk with the dog, whilst I drag out the neglected and dusty Wii instucton manuals, fresh batteries at the ready.

After dragging cords and connections and sensors and power packs and goddess knows what else, I am sweating more than I ever did on the Wii Fit when it actually worked.

But........drumroll please....

I did it.

This family is now, yet again, the proud posessors of a 100% fully functioning Wii gaming system.

All the little Mii's are set up perfectly - I made myself a gorgeous slim brunette, whilst lovely husband got given a porky balding character.



I can now proclaim to be a LEGEND mother - the kids, after a day of gaming on the newly discovered Wii, think that I am an utter hero.

I should point out that my lovely husband is an IT professional.
In theory, he knows his shit. He does not, however, know his Wii...

But, I do.

Tell me, do you have gaming systems? Who is the expert? Are the a ten day wonder? Or are they worthwhile?


Sunday, 24 April 2011

My birthday got stolen....

...by the Easter Bunny.........


Thank you all for your birthday wishes!


Saturday, 23 April 2011

Is there anything finer?

Than a home cooked roast dinner?


One of the lovely things about having a glorious amount of spare days over the Easter break is the mood and  inclination to spend time preparing a huge roast from scratch.

The peeling, the preparing, the scoring, the baking and the carving. The timing. (My granny always joked that a roast was never hard to cook, but the timing to dish it all up, hot and crisp, was crucial....)

I like to lose myself in these simple preparations.

I have classical music on in my kitchen whilst the lovely husband gardens with children outside, and I am pottering, and it is safe and nice.

I shall lay a table later, with place mats, and napkins even.

And I shall nurture my roast potatoes (surely the very best bit of the meal?) carefully...

Pork for us, today, along with the roast spuds and some homemade apple and onion sauce. And steamed carrots, peas and corn.




Beef, lamb, pork? With gravy or without? And which veggies?

Tell me, what is YOUR favourite roast?


Friday, 22 April 2011

Blogged down...

I am feeling a little blogged down, so will be taking a break for the duration of the Easter holidays....
...to return with new vigour.

I shall chill with my lovely husband and play with my children and just be, for a few days.



Have a lovely Easter. Tell me, what are you up to?
What plans do you have?



Thursday, 21 April 2011

Blog Comments 101



Over the past few days I have been immersed in the world of blog comments.

 It seems that comments make the blog world go around, with most, if not all, bloggers telling me that they are "very partial to comments". It seems that "comments feed the blogging soul" and comments validate in so many ways. Blog comments tell us that there is, happily, "someone out there reading".

 We all want comments on our blogs. We know that. (I can only think of a tiny minority of bloggers who turn comments off permanently - usually huge massive money spinning bloggers.)

My blogging friend Allison (of Pink Fibro fame) wondered if I could post a 'difinitive guide' to blog commenting. Sadly not.
But, I will share with you what I have found:

Bloggers -

Love comments
Want comments
Thrive on comments
Need comments

Commenters -
  • Are pushed for time
  • Are often reading from an iPhone or Crackberry, so find it easy to read, but frustratingly tricky to comment.
  • Are dragged away from reading and subsequent commenting, by children, husbands, shiny things and real life. (Real life, getting in the way of blog commenting? Imagine!) 
Sometimes a bloggers ability to comment regularly, feels almost like a chore. Between real life, and actually writing your own blog, commenting can begin to feel a little like "work". The pressure is on to comment. And that in itself draining and anti-intuitive.

 So you retreat for a while, and your commenting falls off. You don't lose blogging friends, because you chat with them via Twitter and Facebook anyway. So it's OK. But they maybe miss the affinity they felt from your regular comments, and in turn don't comment so much on your blog...

 Twitter and Facebook are complimentary to blogging. But it's the comments that miss out as a result. Stand alone bloggers (IE those who do not tweet and do not engage on Facebook) seem to still enjoy a higher volume of comments.

 Blogging and blogging commenters are cyclical it seems.

 The life cycle of a blog (and its commenting audience too) is well outlined here.

 Faithful commenters come and go. Faithful readers seem to stay.

 This, I am lead to believe, is a result, not of the blog itself, but of relationships. We find affinity. We start the relationship via blogs, then get close via Twitter and email and Skype and even real life. And then we take the blogging relationships off the blog, and sometimes for granted, perhaps? The impetus to comment on the blog of a friend is less? Who needs to impress when you're already wed, kind of analogy?

 There are a whole host of practicalities that may mean comments fall away - the time of day seems to make an impact. If you are blogging at the same time every day, and Tweeting links at the same time, comments from "regulars" become, err, regular. For a while. Until your blogging routine, or theirs, change.

 I follow a few US blogs. I notice their early morning blogs coincide with my bedtime. As soon as daylight savings kicks in, however, it all becomes confused. I go to bed BEFORE their posts hit my reader. And by the time I get to them the next day, all relevant comments seem to already have been made...so I don't bother...slackness kicks in...

 In reality, the majority of bloggers are commenters, and the majority of commenters are bloggers. We are mostly both. Supply and demand.

We all want connections, and a real sense of community. We all crave positive affirmation. And we all want our blogs to have a large and engaged audience.

You won't get that without putting out.

Give as good as you get.

You get out as much as your are prepared to put in.

Give consistently good blog content, wonderful posts, and share of yourself and engage your readers by making them think, and you will generate comments.

Visit other blogs and genuinely contribute to their conversations generously, and comment.

Yes, you will run out of time. Yes, real life is more important. If it feels like work, step back.

But if comments are what drive you in this wonderful blogging world we find ourselves a part of, party on, and comment...




Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Comments about comments...

HUGE post about comments coming soon, as a result of all of the insights you shared yesterday via your observations here on my blog, via Twitter and via email.


I am fascinated.

And today? A day of play dates and driving round in circles.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Comment love...

On Twitter yesterday, someone made a comment along the lines of how their blog commenters have changed. Evolved.

And it's something that I have noticed too.

A few of us ended up having an interesting Twitter convo about the nature of blog comments (Well, as much as a convo you can actually have in 140 characters.)

I love comments. They are crack to this addicted blogger.




If you are a regular commenter of mine (and you know who you are....) I thank you, very much.

So tell me......what makes YOU comment?

What makes your fingers fly and itch to leave a witty response?

Do you love comments on your own blog? Do you see them as validations?

Do you get less comments that you used to from "old regulars"?


Do you worry about the volume of comments you do or don't get?

Do blog comments build a community? Or a clique?

Is Twitter a comment distraction? Replacement, perhaps?

Do you feel an affinity to other "regular" commenters?

Are there blogs you ALWAYS comment on, regardless?

Do you ever suffer from blog comment apathy? The can't be bothereds?

What turns you OFF - what kind of post DON'T you comment on, and why?

Do you have a favourite commenter?

Do you reply within comments or via email, back to a commenter?

Do you have a preference on commenting systems? (Plain standard Blogger? Discus?  I actually am one of the few that uses Echo - do you love it or hate it?)

What kind of posts inspires you to comment?

Tell me? Share? Let me know your thoughts?




_________________________________________________________________


Total calories inhaled - 1451 ~ Exercise calories burned - 0 - too effing busy today ~ Glasses of water sculled -3 ~ Amount of times I drove round in circles with the kids - felt like 10  ~ Hours of glorious sleep - 5

Monday, 18 April 2011

Jaffa deliciousness

Mandarins appeared in our fruit and veggie shop this week.

I love them. Who doesn't?

I eat the soft skins, which my children think is hilarious. I explain to them that the skin is soft, and this reminded me of an old Nigella recipe, a Clementine cake, where you boil the small oranges and blend them to make a cake.

I have long since lost my copy of Nigella's How To Eat, in which that recipe appears. (The book disappeared in a house move some years ago. I am still grieving for a stash of classic cook books that, I imagine, are being enjoyed by someone else somewhere around the Alice Springs region...)

But a similar, and perhaps even more delicious replacement recipe has been adapted, which I shall bake this week, with the new seasons Mandarins.

It is a cake that contains no flour, so is gluten free. (It uses almond meal instead of flour.)

It is THE most moist cake I have ever baked or eaten. It keeps all week, so is ideal for school holiday morning teas. It is divine and decandent served, warm, with ice cream and berries.




Jaffa Chocolate Cake

3 Mandarins
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
50g butter
4 eggs
150g caster sugar
150g almond meal
1 tablespoon cocoa

 
1. Place the mandarins in a saucepan. Cover with cold water & bring to the boil. Reduce to a low heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the oranges and set aside to cool. Cut in half and remove any big pips. Puree all the mandarins in a food processor until finely chopped.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave, stir to combine until smooth and blended.
3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 22cm cake pan with non-stick baking paper. OR, line a large muffin tin with greased muffin papers.
4. Use an electric beater to beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until well combined.
5. Fold in the almond meal, cocoa, orange puree and chocolate mixture until well combined.
6. Pour into the cake pan or into muffin cases. Bake for about an hour for a cake, or 30 minutes for muffin sized cakes. A skewer inserted should come out clean. Allow to cool in the pan.
7. Dust with icing sugar and serve with ice cream and berries.

Let me know what you think?



_________________________________________________________________


Total calories inhaled - 1335 ~ Exercise calories burned - 566 ~ Glasses of water sculled - 10 (!) ~ Weight lost since last week - 0.8kg   ~ Hours of glorious sleep - 6.5

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Indian Summer



When you are faced with a day full of parties and treats and spontaneous decisions that take you out to dinner in delicious restaurants, the calorie counting just has to take a back step for a day.

Slack, but delicious.

I have slapped a "sad smiley" on my record for yesterday. Simply because it was a day that was so much fun and went by in such a blur of hedonism that I know if I enter all the buffet party food and curries into my Calorie King account the page would most likely explode. So I am not sad. But in terms of my intense period of weight loss, it was a write off.

My Saturday centred around fun and catching up and family and community and spontaneity.

I did not eat for any sad old emotional reasons. I was relaxed about it all. My family and friends were pretty chilled too. It was a day to bask in my good fortune.

So I had a day off the calorie counting.

It was a lovely happy gorgeous day.

My children ran me ragged on the footy oval all morning.

We introduced them to the delights of Indian cuisine in the evening. They are, like their parents, now converted to the delights of a curry and a poppadom. And in between I caught up with friends and revelled in those connections.
And today? A huge bush walk in this beautiful Indian summer weather that Adelaide is enjoying.

We will stretch it out and play follow my leader and play hide and seek in amongst the red and gum trees.

 We will trek up hills and explore and search for koala clues and billabongs. We will admire the view and saunter home again, for cups of tea.
 
It's all good. So very good.


 
 





_________________________________________________________________


Total calories inhaled - About a million ~ Exercise calories burned - Not enough ~ Glasses of water sculled - lots ~ Party food that I simply couldn't resist and curries that were devoured - I lost count  ~
Hours of glorious sleep - loads

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Coming home...



My lovely husband was away last week, interstate again, on business.

We cope fine when he is away.

I juggle a little more quickly, a little more intensely, but force myself to slip into a groove that excludes my need for him.

The bed is too big without him, but I fill it with books and children.

There is no clarity or anticipation to my evenings when I cannot expect him home, but the solitude to write and plan and focus is welcome.

There is no maleness around, no smell of him, no all encompassing hugs. No laundry or shirt ironing either.

We do not spend hours on the telephone with one another when he is away - to talk but to be apart makes that lonely gap widen.

And then, at last, he is home. I feel my whole being relax with sweet relief. (I am sorry to my Twitter friends who I abandoned rudely last night. He appeared. And my Twitter was forgotten mid tweet.)

Late evening sun with a view, and him, and talking and sideways glances. A shower together and reading together, curled up. Red wine and slow smiles and talking. Oh how I love talking with him.

He has come home and I am more grateful for him as a result of his absence.



I am linking this up with the lovely Maxabella. Where I remember that the LOHL was away this week too....



_________________________________________________________________


Total calories inhaled - 888 ~ Exercise calories burned - 450 ~ Glasses of water sculled - 4
School terms completed without a dose of nits - 8! ~ Hours of glorious sleep - 6

Friday, 15 April 2011

Before & During Photos...

I have been lucky enough to meet some of you.

I feel as if I know a great many more, even though we haven't actually met.

And in light of the fact that I am currently enjoying (yes, enjoying?!) a spell of intense calorie counting, I feel brave enough to dig out a few terrible before photographs and slap them side by side with some current "during" photos....



They say a picture tells a thousand words.  The words I associate with looking at these snaps are:

"Thank heavens I finally woke up and took charge of my health......"



This post here details another insight into my "before and after".

I am not done yet. I have fitness and firmness still left to accomplish.






_________________________________________________________________


Total calories inhaled - 1381 ~ Exercise calories burned - 268 ~ Glasses of water sculled - 3  - Easter Eggs resisted at work - 4 ~ Hours of glorious sleep - 7