Archives for the month of: May, 2013

This post is kinda stolen from a St Thomas More Primary School fundraising cookbook.  

I’m told that this soup originates from East India, but I discovered it thanks to my mother’s best friend.  And I’ve cooked it for lots of people I love.

This is, without a doubt, the yummiest soup I have ever made.  And my hubby’s favourite too.  It almost has me willing for wintery weather to justify this warming up.    

MULLIGATAWNY SOUP

Ingredients

2 large skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 large zucchini
2 sticks celery
1 medium brown onion
1 large Granny Smith apple
2 tablespoons butter
1.5 litres chicken stock
2 teaspoons curry powder (less if you prefer it milder)
¼ cup rice, uncooked
¼ cup cream
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon chutney

Method

Melt butter over a low heat in a saucepan.
Add curry powder.
Fry off diced chicken that has been tossed in flour.
Add diced zucchini, celery, onion, apple and fry off gently.
Add stock and bring to the boil while stirring.
Reduce heat and simmer for one hour.
Add rice and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
Add lemon juice, chutney and cream and stir through while simmering gently for five minutes.
Serve in deep bowls and eat heartily.

Try it and do let me know what you think.

Love to hear what you look forward to cooking/eating this winter.  

Image

I shot my sister-in-law yesterday (that’s her blue bump).  And while developing her images I realised that waiting makes me happy.

Admiring her beautiful bulging belly, with my new niece or nephew snug inside, I reveled in the anticipation of meeting her/him.

I believe that having things to look forward to is essential for happiness.

So tonight I’ll enjoy a slow cooked lamb curry.
Tomorrow Hubby returns from a fortnight interstate.
This weekend very dear (but seldom seen) friends are coming for dinner.
Next week I’m seeing The Great Gatsby with girlfriends and bubbly.
Next month we’ll welcome my new niece or nephew into the world.
Before Christmas we’re whisking the kids away to Bali for a week.
And next year we have a long awaited family wedding to celebrate.

So there are exciting times ahead.  And I’ll relish the lead up excitement.

Amidst our culture of convenience and instant gratification, it’s nice to remember that waiting sometimes enhances our enjoyment.

For too long I told myself that things will be better when I just meet this deadline, or lose that weight, or pay off X, or get through Y.

But what is infinitely more satisfying is accepting today and hopefully anticipating what’s to come.

What are you looking forward to?

On my 36th birthday I realised I had everything I had ever wanted.  Cue mid-life crisis.

It’s a nice problem to have, I know.  And yet a quandary none-the-less.

Now what?

I am achievement addicted.  I love the feeling of working toward something meaningful – planning, studying, saving, crafting, training, anticipating.  I get more of a kick from the process than the result most times.  And this trait has served me well to date.

But for the first time in my life, I found myself uncomfortably goalless.

I had it all – hunky hubby, gorgeous kids, happy home, healthy parents and successful career.  I should have been ecstatic.  Yet I was not as happy as I felt I could be.  But I did not breathe a word of this, for fear of sounding disgustingly ungrateful.

Then an insightful girlfriend gave me Getchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project”.  At first I was a little offended that she thought it apt, but on reflection it was genius gifting by her.  Much of the book is common sense, and it scared me to realise just how far I had strayed from the basics.  I resolved to make this the year I chose happiness.

In my eagerness to please and achieve, I had ended up carrying too much.  As wife, mum, boss, celebrant, photographer, friend and daughter, I made myself so busy that I had no time left to enjoy any of it.  And the stress of my over-commitment was manifesting in unwanted kilos around my waist too!

So I took stock of everything on my plate, and prioritised according to which brought me the most joy.  Then I made the brave decision to cut my job loose.

I’m pressing pause on my career, for now.  Giving myself permission to take a detour.  And making time to truly savour my many blessings.

Yes, my bank balance will suffer.  If I don’t adjust my lifestyle our savings will be hemorrhaging in fact.  But I am willing to take that.  After two decades of working I am deeming myself due for some long service leave.

If it sounds like I am justifying my decision, that’s true.  It’s been one of the most difficult I have ever made.  I love working.  And my job was with an awesome organisation, leading a team that I had hand-picked, for a boss I found inspiring.  But it took so much out of me that I had little left to give at home, and I hated that.

Having it all is possible.  But not having time to savour any of it was depressing.  Each week I survived the endurance test, but I was not having fun.  And it was making me feel yuck.

Sharing my decision to opt out has been an interesting experience.  People have told me they wish they could do the same.  You can.  Another working mum lamented the loss of a friend who shared the juggle.  I’m still here.  Others ask, perplexed, “so what do you do now?” which momentarily had me seeking a label for my new way of life.  My answer is simply “whatever I want!”  My father-in-law cheekily termed me “housewife” which is a title I hate.  It suggests I married a house.

I want my new title to be HAPPY.

I have not given up my career to be a mum.  I was already a mum.  I merely quit my job to create more space to enjoy my beautiful life.  And to invest time in being the best me I can be.

At the Big Hearted Business Conference recently, Catherine Deveny spoke about what she called ‘Fuck Off Status’ – that obligation free state where you can do whatever you choose without playing slave to anyone or anything.  Her advice included:

  • don’t have a mortgage or more children than you can manage on your own
  • use public housing, public health and public schools
  • have as few financial burdens as possible, because debt is the biggest barrier to being brave enough to do what you really want.

I resisted much of this messaging at first, but Catherine’s advice has played on my mind since.  She’s onto something.  And it’s sure worked for her.

I like the idea of not buying into the script that has been pitched to us – work hard at school to get to uni, work hard at uni to get a job, work hard at your job to get a raise.

There is another way to live.  All you need is less.  And perhaps choosing AWOL (another way of life) is the ultimate indulgence these days.

Stepping out is not the norm.  And I get that it’s an economic impossibility for many.  79% of Australian mums work, and that figure is growing.  For me, it’s merely a case of timing.  I am willing to bet that my career will get time to shine later.  But my kids will only be little once, and I will never be this young again.  I want to really enjoy now.

For years I have been striving for that elusive “balance”.  But I have finally decided that it’s not something you can achieve day to day.  We need to look at it over our lifetime.  There is a season for it all, and you can have everything, but it’s best not taken all at once.

My decision did not not feel fabulous right away.  Liberating, brave, and exciting – yes.  But it’s taken weeks for me to detox from corporate life.  And a part of me will always be tuned in to it.  I can take myself out of the office, but I don’t take away my professional skills in the same sweep.

Aussie music producer John Watson describes life as a four burner stove. “The burners represents yourself, your family, your friends and your career. True success involves you turning off at least two of those burners, and great success involves you turning off three of them.”

So it’s all about trade-offs and compromise.  I guess all we can do is be clear about what success looks like for us at each point in time.

Last week I read Alex Carlton’s “The Retro Housewife” article in The Age and I wondered if I was indeed the newest “cult of domesticity” recruit.  I have long been an admirer of the Stepford-esque 1950s aesthetic, but I draw the line at aspiring to the associated entrapment.

Inspirational baker and maker Pip Lincolne, responded to Carlton’s article with her take on women reshaping their lives and re-inventing themselves via all things home-y.  Her post “The New Domesticity” is a great read.

Perhaps I am just cementing gender stereo-types.  But I am no less ambitious or capable than I was when I was on the payroll.  I just want to find a way to do it that works for me and my family now.

That said, if I start building a backyard chicken coop or planning home-school lessons, somebody slap me please.

I’d love to hear about the bold calls you’ve made in pursuit of happiness.  Please do share.