Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The power of pineapples


I am having a really tough time of late. I wrote about it in my last post. I feel like my heart is breaking, my soul is quaking and my entire sense of self worth is dissipating. Like that rhyme? Me neither really but I'm struggling with words at the moment. I'm struggling to be a parent, an aunt, a daughter and a blogger. The four things I love being the most.

I just want everyone to go away from me for a while so I can close up all the blinds in our apartment and watch episode after episode of great television, movie after movie and escape this stuff going on in my brain. I'd have comfy trackies and uggs on. Our couch would be arranged just so it was like a snug cave and I'd be enclosed in it covered with my duvet. By my side would be an endless supply of diet coke, coffee, homemade cookies and chocolate. I'd snooze on and off in between shows. There'd be no commitments, no texts buzzing, no emails. Just me, my remote control and my comfort food.

But, of course, life goes on. I took on board a lot of the advice given to me in my last post. For Noo's behaviour to improve the both of us need more structure to our lives. For my mood to improve I need to look after one child at a time. I felt terribly guilty about it at first but I've decided to put Noo into daycare on Tuesdays so he will now be attending four days a week. It will be an excellent warm up to the five days a week he will need to endure next year anyway. Plus I can't be a quality mum if I'm completely stressed out of my mind all the time. Choosing to put Noo in that extra day is a win/win for everyone really.

One of the areas of concern for me regarding both Noo's and my behaviour and our health is our diet. I've spoken at length before about my fussy eater and of my own weight issues. I've tried to understand why he has very little interest in food. He won't sit still long enough at the table to eat a whole meal, he only likes certain foods and then those certain foods can change all the time. It drives me insane!

I recently got involved in a campaign for Australian Pineapples. The offer of a session with well known nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan was too good to pass up. Dr Jo offered me some really great advice both in regards to my nutritional needs as well as for Noo.

Now I must admit that my slip back into depression (looks like my meds have stopped working effectively according to my GP and I'm seeing Shrink tomorrow to confirm) has really thrown me and I'm using chocolate as a way to get through it. I know you could call it self sabotage. I call it that! But my resistance is low as my mood swings from delicate in the morning through to full blown tears and woe in the afternoon.

My beautiful mum has stayed in the city with us for going on a month now. She is my confidant and my shoulder to wipe all the snot and tears on during the really awful episodes. She knows me so well and can see the cracks begin to appear on my psyche before I do. I really don't know how I'd survive sometimes if it wasn't for my mum!

Now back to pineapples. When my mum is here she makes sure we all eat properly. She doesn't do all the cooking but gives me friendly nudges to get me off my bum and into the kitchen. That coupled with some inspiring recipes from Dr Jo, as well as the winning entry for my giveaway from Claudia from Little Cottage Big Life, means we've had a few delicious and nutritous meals around here lately.

The first recipe came from Joanna McMillan.

Pineapple, Sweet Chicken and Chili Curry

Serves 4-6

Dr Jo's yummy pineapple, sweet chicken and chili curry

750g chicken breast or thigh, chopped
500ml coconut milk
1tbsp red curry paste
½ tsp fish sauce
3 kaffir lime leaves
½ fresh pineapple, diced
2 red chilies sliced (seeds removed if required)
2 chicken stock cubes

+ Serve with brown rice and steamed vegetables


1. Pour coconut milk, fish sauce, curry paste and stock into pot and dissolve to creamy consistency.
2. Bring curry to the boil over medium heat.
3. Add chicken and continue to cook over medium heat for 5 mins.
4. Add pineapple, kaffir lime leaves and chilis.
5. Continue to cook over low-med heat for 15 min.

This is how my attempt at this recipe turned out:

My version

I embellished the recipe a bit. Actually, a fair bit. I think this is why I don't do diets very well. I'm always adding to the recipes. My mum, the retired chef, says it's the sign of a good cook!

For starters, I used thighs instead of breasts. So much tastier! I also browned them off a bit rather than solely poaching them. I also used way more curry paste. I didn't have any Thai red curry paste so I just chucked in half a jar of korma paste which was delicious. I put the paste in just after browning the chicken. Frying it off a bit brings out the flavour of the paste.

We had a lonely eggplant in the fridge so I chopped it up and added it early on before all the liquid went in to make sure it got that nice browned off look and taste.

I'm not a massive fan of the old stock cube. The stock you buy in the tetra pack is the goods for this sort of cooking and it is one of our cupboard staples that is always stocked up. I just whacked in enough til it looked and tasted right.

The fish sauce levels were upped a fair bit too. Fish sauce is the weirdest ingredient isn't it? Stinks in the bottle but brings out the flavour in so many Asian style dishes.

This time around I omitted the chili because I was hoping Mr Fussiest Eater in the Universe might try some. He didn't but oh well, I tried.

We had kaffir lime leaves in the fridge which was lucky because I'd forgotten to buy some when out that day. The pineapple came in last, but by no means least, because it was so delicious.

My mum was sceptical when I told her about the pineapple campaign because she said pineapple wasn't currently in season. It's a tropical fruit right? While we've had a mild Autumn here in Australia, it certainly hasn't been tropical. I've been really surprised by how yummy and juicy the pineapple we've been buying has been. Not to mention some of the other 'out of season' fruit I've bought over the last week or so: rockmellon, watermellon, strawberries, papaya and passionfruit. YUM!

As you can see from my picture, my curry was heavily garnished with corriander and chopped scallions, as my mum calls them, or green onions or shallots as Aussies usually refer to them as. We also had some steamed brocolini on the side.

All in all it was a delicious meal! I had some the following day for lunch as well and my dad, who came down from the Mountains for a couple of days, also got to try some of this delicous pineapple chicken curry and was really impressed.

Do you know what? If you've managed to read this far, my post has gone from sadness, to happiness about pineapple, and my mood has lifted. The power of pineapple? Or, most probably, the power of distraction!

If you want to check out more of Dr Joanna McMillan's pineapple recipes check out the Pineapple Australia's website. I'm going to do the Quinoa Salad with Pineapple and Corriander next. YUM!

Do you like fruit mixed with savoury dishes? 


PS. Thank you to all the lovely readers who entered my competition a couple of weeks ago. You had some awesome ideas for me. I can't wait to give sweet and sour pork a go. Also, I'm thinking I really need to try Kylie's mood lifter - dancing to 80s music in my undies sounds like something that could really help me right now!

Disclosure: I was given a free half hour session with Dr Joanna McMillan to discuss my nutrition issues as well as a $150 Woolworths gift voucher that was given away to one of my readers. No cash has exchanged hands. All opinions are my own in accordance with my disclosure policy.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

My favourite photo is breaking my heart

Day 17, Friday: A favorite photo of yourself and why

The prompt for day 17 of #blogeverydayinmay (I know it is actually the 24th but on Vanessa time it is the 17th) is to post my favourite photo of myself. My favourite photo of all time is the one of me holding Noo just after he was born. I've already published it several times on this blog but what the hell, here it is again.

Noo's birthday

You can read about the day Noo was born in more detail here. On this day my life changed. In this moment I wasn't thinking about what kind of baby he would be or what kind of parent I would be. I hadn't even thought about parenting styles let alone did any research into it. I just figured mothering would come naturally.

What came naturally was the love I felt for my son. So pure and simple. But parenting? This gig sucks sometimes. Sometimes I think I'm doing an awesome job and others, like now, I feel like the worst mother in the world.

I've mentioned quite a few times on my blog and on social media that I've been brought to tears a lot lately. I'm crying right now as I type this. An emotion so strong overwhelms me. Sometimes I think it is my anxiety but as the days turn into weeks I feel like I'm dipping back into depression. I'm not quite sure how this could be.

I keep telling myself that it's my meds. Maybe after four years of taking citalopram my body has built a tolerance up. Or maybe my iron levels have dropped again. I had chronic iron deficient anaemia until this time last year when I finally got an iron infusion. Or maybe my thyroid has gone crazy again (I had postpartum thyroid disease so there's a chance my thyroid could go nuts again).

Surely there has to be a rational explanation for all these tears!

Now back to the photo. The trigger for my tears over the last month has been Noo. He's changing before my eyes. He's back chatting, refusing to do as he is asked, hitting me, so angry with me. It breaks my heart because I don't know what to do.

I am turning into the parent I don't want to be: screaming, distant and inconsistent. But my usual methods of parenting are not working. Nothing is getting through.

I made the decision quite early on after Noo was born to do 'attachment parenting'. This style of parenting fit in with my values. I could never let him cry himself to sleep. We co-shared our bed until he was three. I have always tried to discuss any behaviour problems directly with him rather than doing timeouts. So far it has worked.

Noo and I have always been as much mates as we are mother and son. I guess not having a dad around has made this a really natural way for our relationship to evolve. I've always loved his company. Yes there have been bad phases before now. This time last year I was at my wits end with severe RLS, anxiety, low mood, headaches and concentration issues thanks to the anaemia. I even briefly put him in for an extra day at daycare a week because I just wasn't handling him.

The situation last year was a lot like it is at the moment except Noo is older. He has more words and has become more physical. He sometimes looks at me with these angry eyes and angry mouth, his little hands clenched in balls and I just don't know who he is any more.

Why do I make him so furious?

I look after my niece two days a week. On Mondays Noo goes to daycare and I look after Mala. Is that what makes him cross?

On Tuesdays I have both children. Noo loves his cousin but is always trying to pick her up or bop her on the head or trip her over. I am constantly telling Noo to leave her alone. Stop touching her! She's only a baby! Does that make him cross at me?

Is he craving a dad and doesn't know how to articulate it? Is he angry he doesn't have one? Is it a testosterone surge that has him needing to do male things? Is he sick of hanging around women all the time? He doesn't behave badly with his grandmother or aunty...

Why aren't I handling this situation? Why do I fear my four year old child?

Does Noo pick up that I am not feeling well and so he behaves badly as some sort of defense mechanism? Is he angry that I'm crying. A mother should be strong, right?

I know last year after I had the iron infusion and my restless leg syndrome was cured and my mood stabilised Noo's behaviour improved incredibly.

But what if my mood now is low because of his behaviour, not the other way around? Chicken and egg... which came first? Noo's bad behaviour or my bad mood?

Fucking hell. I hate this. I just want my baby boy back. My heart is breaking for him. Fuck knows what his teen years will be like, for the both of us.

I know I broke my parent's hearts more times than I care to count. I know that it is a certainty that Noo will one day say he hates me and lash out at me because of something I wouldn't let him do or have or whatever.

But why now?

Isn't it too soon for kids to hold grudges against their parents?


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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Vanessa time - it can be difficult

Day 16, Thursday: Something difficult about your "lot in life" and how you're working to overcome it

I like to do life on "Vanessa time" but some might say the way I negotiate time is "something difficult about my lot in life". Vanessa time is a little slower than the conventional understanding of time. Vanessa time exists to help me deal with my ever present anxiety. I don't like to be rushed. I hate deadlines. Often when I am forced to do things within the usual constraints of time I freak out and get nothing done at all. Seriously, life is better here on my wavelength but it can make life difficult when dealing with most people because they are on normal time.

Vanessa time

I can get to appointments on time (mostly) but I try to make them later in the day so I don't have to rush. Trying to get out the door before 9am seriously makes my anxiety levels soar. I'm already dreading Noo going to big school next year because I'm worried about how I'm going to get him fed, dressed in uniform, lunchbox packed and on school grounds by 9am. Five days a week!

The same thing goes for #blogeverdayinmay. Today is the 23rd of May but Vanessa time has me on the 16th. My head is full of so many ideas for blog posts, adventures I want to do with Noo, recipes I want to cook, shows I want to watch, books I want to read... A lot of the time I have a million different things going at the same time but only a few projects actually get completed. Vanessa time makes me slow down and focus one at a time.

Everyone/thing else can wait.

But can they?

I'm really lucky that I don't have to work but the fact is I can't work in the old way I used. Work is full of deadlines and expectations on what time I need to be somewhere and when things need to be done. Vanessa time does not exist in the high flying corporate world that I worked in before The Assault.

For me to be able to do just a fraction of what I want to do I have to forego sleep. I average around six hours a night which is not great considering I'm trying to manage Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Everything I do has to be done slowly and methodically. It has be checked and double checked. I just can't be rushed.

How am I working to overcome this problem?  I set myself little goals. Like my blog. Each post is like a little project and I'm so chuffed when a post is ready to be published. I'm writing whenever I can, reading lots of blogs and participating in this community as much as I can. This stuff keeps me busy and I am extraordinarily grateful that I get to do my blog on Vanessa time.

And then there's parenting. Noo is the one living person who can kick me up the butt and get me moving out of Vanessa time. Sometimes it kills me but mostly his youthful enthusiasm for life is contagious. He has my heart pounding with nervous energy when we go on our adventures and so much of the time it's almost too hard to tolerate but I do it. I have to do it.

I spend a lot of time wandering through life thinking that I'm not coping. My anxiety overwhelms me to the point that I burst into tears. But most of the time I am coping. I need to stop and notice those times.

Like right now: Today I didn't cry. Today I actually talked to people I didn't know in a professional environment and I didn't fall apart. Not only did I survive today but I enjoyed it.

Sometimes it is important to forget about time and just savour the moment.


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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Want to win one of 1200 house fires this winter?


Want to win one of 1200 house fires this winter?

Me neither.

Noo and I are pretty lucky with where we live when it comes to the risk of a house fire. Do you know why? We live in the city right opposite a fire station!

We also have a smoke alarm that is tested monthly, a fire extinguisher, fire blanket, monthly emergency alert system testing for the whole building as well as ceiling sprinklers. But there's more we could be doing to prevent a fire.

The view from our balcony

We also spend a lot of time up at my parent's place in the Blue Mountains. Their house is surrounded by the most fabulous Australian bushland. It is a tranquil life up there but bushfires are an ever present threat, especially in summer. My dad is very safety conscious and makes sure the house and property are as prepared for a fire as they need to be all year round.

The view from my parent's balcony

Now, as we near the end of May, the cool weather is really starting to be felt here in the city. In the Blue Mountains it is already very wintery with overnight temperatures of around 3 degrees celsius. Brrrrr!

When the weather gets cold we all like to do what we can to keep warm. And this is where the trouble starts: power boards get overloaded, clothes are thrown over heaters and electric blankets are left on after everyone has left home for the day. There are countless other scenarios around the home that pose as fire risks. Knowing what they are and how we can avoid them is the key to keeping our families safe.

There's a lot we all can do to help prevent a tragedy. Fire and Rescue NSW have come up with a nifty little website where you can conduct a Home Safety Fire Audit for your place.

Noo and I went through the questionnaire together which was educational for the both of us. You just need to answer a series of questions and then the audit gives you a report at the end with recommendations of what you can do to ensure your place is as fire safe as possible.

Whether you live in a house out bush, a unit in the suburbs or in an apartment in the city all options are covered. I highly recommend all families give the Home Safety Fire Audit a go to learn what you can do to ensure you are prepared for the cold season ahead. Have the kids sit with you so they can see the importance of fire safety too.

I know I don't want to win a house fire this year. And I bet you don't either!

Do you have an emergency response plan for your family?


Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own as per my disclosure policy.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Day 15: A day in the life of us

Sunday 19 May 2013

Sunday 19 May 2013

From top left to right:

  1. We left the apartment very early for a Sunday. As we were driving out of our building at 8am the Sydney Half Marathon runners were making their way down our street.
  2. After picking up my sister Yolanda and niece Mala we headed to Leichhardt to a great cafe called Ragamuffin. I Googled "best coffee in Leichhardt" and this place showed up. We weren't disappointed.
  3. Ragamuffin serve absolutely divine coffees but their speciality is the steamed then baked muffins. With a couple of dozen flavours to choose from everyone is sure to find one or more that they like. 
  4. Yo enjoyed her piccolo latte and Mala had a frothy soy milk.
  5. Noo aka Batman loved his vanilla milkshake but was gagging to leave the cafe and get on with the day.
  6. We arrived at the Italian Forum on Norton Street right on time for the Toddler Proms. Noo scored us the centre position on the back row.
  7. The Sydney Youth Orchestra filled out their seats one section at a time. Both kids were really impressed with just how many instruments came out onto the stage!
  8. Both kids, actually most of the kids, there for the Toddler Proms were pretty fidgety. Noo and I took some silly face photos while we listened to the nursery rhymes being played by the orchestra.
  9. Yo and Mala look down to the orchestra. 
  10. After the show was finished we came out to the Forum to check out the kids' market. Noo had a go on this ancient tank ride which he loved.
  11. After dropping Yo and Mala back home Noo and I went looking for a place to get our filthy car cleaned. We stopped off at Maccas in Waterloo to check Google Maps for the closest car wash. As I looked up briefly from my iPhone I saw a black car jump over the cement barrier in the centre of Botany Road and crash into the oncoming traffic! At first I thought the driver must have been drunk. It wasn't until another witness came and parked next to us in the Maccas carpark and explained that a taxi had veered right to change lanes and hit the black car so hard it pushed it over to the other side. I watched on in amazement as the traffic incident truck turned up as if out of nowhere within minutes of the crash happening. Did someone call them? Or was the accident beamed up to screens in a traffic control centre somewhere via CCTV? Whatever the answer, the whole event was weird.
  12. After discovering the carwash we wanted to go to was closed on Sunday Noo and I headed to another place as informed to us by Google Maps. We got sent on a bit of a wild goose chase around tiny back streets of Rozelle until we got to the joint that was closed and looked only for boat cleaning. We then decided to go for a drive down to East Balmain to see our apartment building from the other side of the Harbour. After that we headed to Gladstone Park for some playground and scooting action.
  13. Batman/Noo experimented with some scooter tricks while mummy (me) sat down enjoying the warm autumn sun against my back.
  14. Batman was off again in search of fun on the other side of the equipment.
  15. I sat and admired my Duo Boots for the umpteenth time.
  16. By around 1pm I was busting for the loo and hungry for lunch. Noo and I walked up the main road on the hunt for sushi and a toilet. We were delighted to come across this place. Unfortunately I didn't note the name down but I would highly recommend it. Noo was happy to sit by the sushi train while I was just happy he was eating solid food. 
  17. All requests for photos get met with either a cranky face or a silly face. Noo has been inflicted with a serious case of four year old bad attitude lately. I wish he'd snap out of it and get back to his delightful self asap.
  18. We stopped off at a toy shop on the walk back to the car. I thought these strange looking walker/ride on bikes looked awesome! Noo would have loved it when he was little. 
  19. A lot actually happened between photo 18 and 19 but my phone ran out of batteries. After our Balmain adventures Noo and I came home at about 3pm. My parents were back from their Sunday outing. Dad decided to go back up the Mountains and mum decided we needed to go grocery shopping. I was so buggered but thought I better go along because we still hadn't got the car washed. We ended up back at our favourite shopping centre with the car being tended to while we spent more money upstairs. I dropped another hundred bucks at Kmart. More coloured long sleeved tops to go under dresses and flowy tops and four new pairs of leggings. More money was spent at Coles and when we finally got home at around 7.10pm I was buggered and over it.
  20. Noo watched that new movie Escape from Planet Earth while playing on the new alphabet mat. We played letter naming games where he had to name the letter and a word that started with it. He's pretty good actually but couldn't quite get the letters C, I, K and Q.
  21. It was too late to make a proper dinner so I had a plate of cheese, crackers and strawberries in front of the laptop with a can of Diet Coke.
  22. Noo finally went down at 9.46pm. He was so tired and fought me to stay up later.
  23. This is me in front of the laptop collating photos for this post. I was so tired! On the days Noo isn't in daycare late at night is the only time I get to work on my blog in peace.
  24. My view on the climb up to my loft bed. Noo sleeps soundly below.
  25. 12:50am and I've finally turned the light out to go to sleep.

How was your day today?


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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sell yourself, miss something, apologise and be happy

Oh my! We are already well and truly halfway through May. This year is flying just as I expected it would. I wish I could slow down my perception of time to that of a child. Remember when the summer school holidays seemed to last forever? I must admit though that this Sydney summer seems to have gone on a long time. The sun just keeps on shining and we are still in t-shirts so I shouldn't complain.

I am a week behind in the #blogeverydayinmay challenge. Rather than drop out I'm going to attempt to catch up in a couple of posts. Here we go...

Day 11: Sell yourself in 10 words or less

This post seemed way too difficult to write over the last week. Something weird has been happening to me. I've had some pretty full on emotional ups and downs over the last six or so years but the last week takes the cake. I've been spontaneously bursting into tears. Seriously. It happened in the supermarket the other day. Crazy shit is going on in my brain.

I just have to think of something sad and I'll start crying. Or the kids will stress me out and boom! I'm losing it. I'm really struggling with looking after both Noo and Mala (my niece) on Tuesdays. How do you mums with more than one in your brood do it? One kid? No probs. Two? Send me back to the asylum!

My sister offered to put Mala in daycare an extra day but I said no. I really want to be the person that can handle this. I should be able to handle looking after two kids for eight hours on one day a week! I love how close Noo and Mala are. Noo asks about her all the time and Mala beams when she sees him. When Noo goes to big school next year they won't be able to have this special day together as often. I really want to make it work.

So ten words to sell me? When I'm feeling so crap about myself?

When I was young and learning to type I used to practice typing this sentence over and over so it is the sequence of words I can type the fastest out of all the others. And it just happens to have 10 words.

Vanessa is the best person in the whole entire world.

It is silly, immature and clearly inaccurate but what the hell! No one is going to mark this shit.

I just aim to get these two home in one piece at the end of the day

Day 12: What do you miss? (a person, a thing, a place, a time of your life...)

What do I miss? I miss living in London and travelling. I wouldn't change my current situation for the world but I do sometimes miss the freedom of living on the other side of it from my family. I miss the freedom of not having a kid, of not having to tell anyone where I'm going to be, of not being accountable. But only for a second.

I miss the trips abroad organised on a whim on pay day. I miss the art, the nightlife and the gigs. Oh how I miss the music! Occasionally I even miss the drugs and the alcohol. But rarely.

Hell, sometimes I even miss the Tube.

     Said no one ever!

  Ok, maybe I did.

In New York City for my 30th birthday celebration

I really hope one day I'll leave Australia again to visit some places I haven't been to yet. But I never want to go back to the life I used to have. Even if I do miss it just a tiny bit.

Day 13: Issue a public apology. This can be as funny or as serious or as creative as you want it to be.

I want to apologise to my son and my family for not being an easy person to live with. I'm sorry that my moods can be erratic and that I can't handle stressful situations very well. I'm sorry that I'm forgetful and vague sometimes. I'm sorry that my anxiety overwhelms me so much sometimes that I burst into tears in the middle of the supermarket (I clearly can't get over this!) while trying to look after two kids with the help of my mum. (Thank god she was there but seriously? Anxiety attack when mum was even there to help? WTF?)

I'm sorry that I haven't gone back to full time work yet and that I'm shit at cleaning the bathroom regularly. I'm sorry I leave stuff all around the apartment. I'm sorry I don't cook dinner every night. I'm sorry I spend so much time in front of my laptop.

I think that is all I'm sorry about at the moment. I bet there's more though. That's enough for now!

Day 14: Ten things that make you really happy

  1. My son. Occasionally he drives me nuts but 99% of the time he is the light of my life. Seeing Noo smile. Watching his reaction to experiencing something new. Hearing him say "I love you" for the 20th time in one day.
  2. My family. All of them. What would I do without them? They are my everything. They get me. It has taken a long time but I think they finally accept me for who I am - neuroses and all! That makes me happy and sort of nullifies my apology (see day 13 above).
  3. My blog. My lifeline. My 24/7 counsellor. My fun. My mental stimulation. My community.
  4. The warm autumn sun. Not too hot and not too cold.
  5. Looking out onto Sydney Harbour from any viewpoint. Blue, grey or black. Just looking at that deep blue Harbour and the city that envelopes it sends pure joy and love through my veins. I wasn't born here and I've spent over ten years of my life in other cities but Sydney will always be home to me. 
  6. Being entertained and/or provoked to think. Watching a great TV series/movie. Reading a page turner or a great newspaper piece. Seeing live music. Viewing amazing art.  
  7. Drinking a really great cup of coffee. The smell of it, the taste of it, the feel of it. Coffee I love you. You make me very happy.
  8. Eating food that flavour bombs your tongue and makes you want to close your eyes to enjoy not only the taste, but the smell and texture all at once. Think a freshly made cake, dumplings from Din Tai Fung, my brother's BBQ and his homemade sauces that go with it.
  9. Shopping makes me so happy! Especially if the item is on sale. Purchasing something that I know I will love for a long time. Especially footwear and clothing. I probably have an unhealthy relationship with spending money but still it makes me happy. 
  10. Losing weight. Seeing the numbers go down on the scales. I really need to bring this kind of happiness back into my life. Really.

Recent clothing purchases and my new Duo boots

I love these kids! They make me crazy sometimes but I love them and they make me happy.

Phew! Only 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 left to catch up!

Do you want to issue a public apology? Maybe tell me what makes you happy.

I hope you're having a great weekend wherever you are.


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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

For the love of boots

Unsurprisingly I've fallen way behind in #blogeverdayinmay. I do plan to try to catch up but sometimes I just don't feel like writing. I'm still here online lurking about social media websites, ashamedly rubbernecking on snark forums (I never actually snark but I can't look away from the ugliness) or flicking through page after page of fashion retail sites (think shoes, clothes, handbags - oh how I lust!).

Last night for instance I spent hours looking for long black leather boots for winter. I've been hunting for the right boot for months. I hope I've finally found them because I've paid and am now waiting patiently for my order to come from the UK.

I have the dodgiest feet and legs. I'm knock kneed, pigeon toed and my knees are hypermobile (bend back). One foot is longer than the other and the shorter one is wider than the longer one. Buying comfortable shoes that I know I will wear and that will look good is a huge challenge for me. I hardly ever wear heels. In summer I wear Birkenstocks. In winter, well, I'll tell you all about it...

This year I was going to go for an ankle length biker boot. I've had a picture of these ones pinned up on my wall for weeks:

Oh how I love these

Are these not the most gorgeous biker boots? They are called Ash Tornado Black Studded Ankle Boots. They scream rock chick and would look hot with a short girly dress with leggings or with skinny jeans teamed with an oversized cardi (like I know this shit - sarcasm). The only downfall is that Ash boots are really heavy. Myer stock one style of Ash biker boot which I had a touch and feel of and I was astonished by their weight. After a long day out and about with the kids I reckon these babies would cause a bit of foot fatigue. They are also quite exy being in the $300+ range.

After weeks of looking around I thought maybe I need to go for a long boot this year. Last year I bought a pair of Camper biker boots which are gorgeous but the right one is a little small for my annoyingly longer foot. They are also heavy. I've been a major fan of Camper since I got my first pair in 2002. They were a lovely pair bright tomato red Mary Janes. Oh how I loved those shoes! I've had five other pairs of different styles of Campers since. I love their original look.

Last year's boot from Camper

My most enduring footwear relationship though has been with Dr Martens. I got my first pair of Docs in 1988. I was the second girl at my school to wear them as school shoes. It made me feel pretty damned cool. I've had seven pairs since. From lace up shoes to 6-up romper stompers to ankle boots and mid calf wedge heeled boots. I feel like I have grown up with my feet wrapped in Dr Martens.

I have a pair just like this one below. I bought them in 2003 when I first arrived in the UK. They cost about 60 quid if I recall and I wore them everywhere. I still have them but they have a hole in one of the soles where the seam has split. You can't really tell, but when I wore them on a weekend trip to Latvia back in late winter 2007, icy water seeped in making it pretty chilly down there for my poor little toes.

The most comfortable Doc around - the Wedge

My other favourite Docs when I lived in the UK were the Jenna Ankle Boot. Here they are in blue although mine were deep red. I practically lived in them. The heels had to be replaced several times and I actually wore them down to the leather. Unfortunately they can't be worn any more but I refuse to throw them in the bin. There's just too many memories in those soles!

Jenna - my old best friend

So back to now and my 2013 winter boot decision. I could have bought another pair of Docs and gone for the cherry red or maybe even the brown in the Wedge boot but Docs are so expensive in Australia and I refuse to pay more than the rest of the world does.

I want need a boot that is going to be comfortable, practical, look good with all my clothes and a pair that will keep my legs warm and cosy through winter.

So.... drum roll please... I found Duo Boots. Duo specialise in wide calf boots and have the most gorgeous selection of winter tailored boots I have seen in a long time. I don't know if I am maturing and moving away from my chunkier style rock chick footwear passions or simply just looking for cleaner lines this season but these Duo Malmo Boots are the ones. I haven't received them yet so I can't speak for their comfort but by the looks of those non-slip rubber soles I am in for some long days of easy walking.

Duo Malmo Boots

These boots are actually really reasonably priced too. At only A$180 I reckon they are a steal! They retail online for GBP140 but because they are getting delivered to Australia I don't have to pay the VAT. Plus with the Aussie dollar being so strong and the fact that Duo don't charge for shipping these are turning out to be a really great purchasing decision... and I haven't even got them yet!

If they turn out to be really comfy, I've got my eyes on these lovely tan numbers as well...

Lusting after these Carvel boots

As soon as I get my new boots I'll let you know how they feel.

Do you lust over shoes like I do? Do you have a favourite style or brand?


PS. None of this post has been sponsored. All opinions are my own. I just felt like writing about boots. Are you cool with that?

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Day 10: Embarrassing hair

Day 10, Friday: Most embarrassing moment (s). Spill.

What a blog prompt! Most embarrassing moment? I actually have to think about this because I can't remember the last time I was really embarrassed. Which is good, no?

When I was younger I was embarrassed all the time. I think I spent my entire young existence in a permanent state of embarrassment. I was so shy and so worried what anyone and everyone might be thinking about me. I craved approval. Now, of course I do still care what people think about me, but not as much.

Of course when I was drinking I embarrassed myself all of the time. I hated waking up and getting a flashback of the night before and cringing at the thought of what I had done under the influence. I can't even bare to repeat some of those stories.

Rather than describe my most embarrassing moment I'm going to show you some of my most embarrassing hairstyles. I've noticed a few bloggers lately talking about bad hair or bad fashion of the past. It's fun to look back and laugh at what I used to wear or how I used to do my hair. I guess in 10, 20, 50 years from now I'll think the same about what I wore today.

My hair is naturally ash blonde. I coloured my hair with henna when I was about 15 years old. Most people thought it was natural. That's me in the top left hand corner on the night of my year 10 formal sporting a very Molly Ringwald look.

Later in 1990 I shaved an undercut into my hair which you can't actually see in the second picture, but it is there. Goes so nicely with the 2 Live Crew t-shirt (sarcasm here). From 1989 through 1991 I was playing a lot with colour. Clearly.

The photo on the bottom right hand corner is me before leaving to go to my year 12 formal. I had a gob full of braces and the 'do the hairdresser created was a very strange interpretation of the photo I asked him to copy.

That picture of me taken in 1995 is an interesting one. That was a sad period in the life of my hair. Not long before it was really long and beautiful. One day I woke up bored with it so went to the hairdresser and asked them to cut it back quite a bit. The new look was quite good, once I got used to it, but when I went to get it trimmed again at a different salon the hairdresser totally stuffed it up. I went to a number of stylists trying to get the cut sorted out and ended up with really short hair (shorter than in this picture). I was dressed up like a boy for this photo because we were off to a cross dressing themed 21st birthday party.

After the short hair debacle of 1995 I have pretty much always had mid length to long blonde hair. That is of course until my recent dalliance with pink hair!

I quite liked this brief brush (get it - brush, hair - so funny) with the wild side of colour but I'm glad to be back to my standard half head of foils, mid length, layered, blow dried straight hair.

Tiredness is overwhelming me tonight but I really want to get this post out because I'm already a day behind with #blogeverydayinmay. Please excuse any typos. I'm off to bed.

What was your most embarrassing hairstyle?


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Friday, May 10, 2013

Day 9: One moment please

Day 9, Thursday: A moment in your day (this can be just a photo or both a photo and words)

5.37am Friday 10 May 2013

I took this photo this morning at 5.37. I woke up at five needing to go to the loo. Rather than climb back up into bed I figured I should probably get the day started. Day 8's post for the #blogeverdayinmay challenge was half written and seeing that today is day 10 I thought I better get a move on with it!

Yesterday I discovered this blog post by a blogger I hadn't heard of until this week. Jojo from iCurvy recommended a couple of iPhone apps she uses to take and process photos for her blog.

Noo and I are app addicts. I just counted 307 in my iTunes! About 30 of them are photographic apps. I always have my iPhone on me and at the ready to take a picture. I literally take thousands of iPhone photos a year. Thousands! I love capturing the everyday moments of life.

I often think about all those moments from the past that haven't been recorded because the iPhone hadn't been invented yet. It makes me a bit sad to think I just don't have that many photos of me or my family from before I got my first digital camera in 2003. Photos were taken of course but so many have either been lost or damaged or are bundled up and stored somewhere out of easy reach.

This photo I took this morning is rather mundane but it is me: sitting in front of my laptop in my lounge room, coffee in hand, writing my blog. This is my favourite place to be. It is so early that the sun hasn't come up yet. My mum and Noo are both sound asleep in their beds. There is that blissful silence that parents don't get to enjoy enough. No one is asking me anything, telling me anything, shouting, singing, demanding, requesting. Out of shot I can see the traffic start to build as workers head north onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Kent Street or off the Bridge heading south. I feel grateful, as I do everyday, that I'm not one of 180,000 cars that cross the Bridge everyday.

I took this picture with the usual camera app that comes with the iPhone but edited it with Tadaa as recommended by Jojo. This app is awesome. It has selective editing which none of my other photographic apps have as far as I know.

The app allowed me to select an area (in this case my arm and coffee cup) and exclude it from the filtering process. I think it looks pretty cool, if I do say so myself. There are some pretty interesting filters on there too. I'm really excited about having a decent play with it over the weekend.

So, there's my moment for day 9. A babbling one at that!

Happy Friday everyone! Here's to a great weekend wherever you are and whatever you do.


Aussies: Don't forget to enter my competition to with a $150 Woolworths gift voucher

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Day 8: Some free (nutrition) advice and a giveaway


Day 8, Wednesday: A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.

I'm two days behind with #blogeverydayinmay. A very minor head cold, combined with lack of sleep, has made my brain feel a little muddled up making it difficult to write coherently. I'll confess I spent most of yesterday on the couch sleeping and watching TV.

My very late day 8 is all about advice. Rather than me give you some advice I'm going to tell you about the professional advice that I got last week. And then I'm going to offer a $150 Woolworths gift voucher to the reader who can give me the best bit of advice.

        Read on for more details...

The BB and the (famous) nutritionist

The Skype session started and Dr Joanna McMillan's familiar face was beamed into my bedroom. It felt really weird speaking to someone I know from the telly. I was quite nervous at first but it didn't take long before Jo's friendly smile assured me I was in good hands.

Dr Jo asked for my background story. "How long have you got?" I replied with some playful sarcasm.

I tried to sum it up in a few sentences: I told her that I had a history of drug and alcohol addiction as well as anxiety and depression. I told her I had five years of sobriety under my belt but was still very much addicted to sugar. I told Jo how I'd quit sugar for seven weeks last year but when I fell off the wagon with a chocolate cake on my birthday I have not been able to get back on it. I told her about my lapband and my struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle because of my self saboteur who visits with all too much regularity. That about sums it up, right?

First up Dr Jo told me to stop being so hard on myself. With five years of sobriety up my sleeve I ought to be proud. And of course I am but I told her I wish I could do with sugar what I did with booze and drugs - let go of it. She told me I needed to take baby steps to turn my food habits around. And that jumping in the deep end with any extreme lifestyle change (like IQS or 12wbt - both of which I have attempted) was only doomed to fail.

Back to basics with you BB!

With the Alcoholics Anonymous slogan in mind we talked about "taking one day at a time", or even one meal at a time, rather than me setting huge unachievable goals that were doomed to fail. Dr Jo suggested I take "baby steps" and make small changes to my everyday eating habits.

From the Day on a Plate food diary I gave Dr Jo she concluded that I snack too much and that I needed to give more structure to my meals throughout the day. The day I diarised was actually a really good day for me and I admitted I usually eat a lot more chocolate, cake and ice cream.

A day on the BB's plate

Oats for breakfast - salad and cheese for lunch - a (tiny) bite of Noo's ice cream in the arvo

7.30am Black plunger coffee with one sweetener

8.00am Half a cup of Uncle Toby’s quick oats served with 1 cup of low fat milk, 5 chopped fresh strawberries, 5 raspberries, sweetened with 2 teaspoons of stevia, plus a dessert spoon of Benefibre for added fibre

11.00am 1 fun sized Kit Kat and a can of Diet Coke

1.30pm Shared two plates of mixed salad at the 13 Rooms exhibition pop-up café with my mum. The salads included quinoa, vegies, beef, salmon, rocket, white beans. Very healthy and gluten and sugar free. We also shared a cheese platter with gorgonzola and triple cream brie, fresh figs and grapes and lavosh crackers

3.00pm a mouthful of my son’s choc top Mr Whippy soft serve

4.00pm three slices of my son’s spinach and ricotta Turkish gozleme

5.00pm Black plunger coffee with one sweetener

6.00pm handful of plain potato chips and a handful of red grapes

8.00pm four chocolate covered scorched almonds

All in all not that bad a day. Usually I would have also had at least an ice cream or piece of cake plus much more chocolate.

Advice from the expert

The best advice I got from Dr Jo to incorporate some better eating habits into my day include:

  • Take one meal at a time. Aim to make the next meal a healthy one. And then the next and the next. Slowly but surely make changes to my everyday rather than expecting to wake up one morning as a health freak who never eats sugar, cake, chocolate, ice cream, hot chips... because that ain't gonna happen. I need to make gradual change.
  • Back to basics - Eat three solid meals a day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Seriously, that basic. Eat until almost full so I can be sustained through to the next meal without reaching for a bag of Malteasers. 
  • Make sure half my plate is salad or veggies. The other half needs to be divided three ways: protein, carbs and oil - oil being just a little bit.
  • Try to reach for health snacks between meals - a piece of fruit, handful of nuts.
  • Think of cutting back chocolate and other sweet foods like giving up cigarettes: go without for one minute, five minutes, one hour, two hours... and see how it feels and build up from there.
  • Dinner is my weakest area. Because Noo is so fussy and won't eat very much I've got lazy about cooking for one. I need to get more disciplined with dinner to avoid snacking on junk all through the evening until bedtime. Make something easy (eg steak and salad). Sit down at the table with Noo. Eat together. Offer Noo foods he doesn't usually like. Don't resort to giving him treat food.
  • Take large doses of fish oil (9000mg a day). This has also been told to me by three psychiatrists. Fish oil has been seen to help with mental health issues like depression, anxiety and ADHD. 
  • Don't rush into personal training, aim to go for a half hour walk every day and build up from there.
  • Notice as you slowly take control.
  • Avoid black and white thinking. If I have a piece of chocolate don't see it as a major fail and fall completely from the wagon. 

There's some really great advice there that I'm slowly incorporating into my everyday.


Now it is your turn to give me some advice for the chance to win a $150 Woolworths gift voucher.

Just answer one of the following three questions in the comments below for a chance to win. The most creative answer will win the $150 gift voucher.

1. What is your most delicious, nutritious and simple recipe for dinner that is suitable for one mum and one fussy eater?

2. What healthy activity do you do to relieve stress (rather than eat junk like me)?

3. What is your most delicious, nutritious snack for kids?

My session with Dr Joanna McMillan and this post were sponsored by Australian Pineapples. Extra points will go to entries that include pineapples in them.

Competition details:

1. Answer in the comments section one of the questions above.
2. Like on Facebook.
3. Follow on Twitter.
4. Subscribe to (see the form at the bottom of the post).
5. Australian residents only. Sorry!
6. Most creative answer wins.
7. Judge's decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.
8. The winner will be notified by email so please ensure you subscribe.
9. This giveaway is in NO way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.

EDIT: Competition closes next Friday 17 May 2013.
Entrants who don't use Facebook or Twitter will not be penalised as long as they subscribe my email.




Disclosure: I was given a free half hour session with Dr Joanna McMillan to discuss my nutrition issues as well as a $150 Woolworths gift voucher to giveaway to one of my readers. No cash has exchanged hands. All opinions are my own in accordance with my disclosure policy.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Day 7: I fear death

Day 7, Tuesday: The thing(s) you're most afraid of

I didn't feel like writing this post for #posteverydayinmay yesterday. It meant missing a day of the challenge but I'm afraid of feeling uncomfortable and we covered that a couple of days ago. And I just didn't feel like going there. I had an awesome, yet exhausting, day yesterday. Why ruin it by thinking about my fears?

The number one thing I'm afraid of that wasn't mentioned in the 'uncomfortable' post is losing any member of my family.

My family is my life.

I woke up this morning to this text from my sister:

"She's very lucky to have an aunty like you and a cousin like Noo.
                 What a special family we are!"

I'm sure Yo won't mind me quoting her here. She was talking about the big day Noo, Mala (my 16 month old niece) and I had out and about yesterday. I look after both kids on Tuesdays and we had our first big outing together yesterday. Yolanda said Mala was so happy and content last night after such a fun day.

Tears are starting to prick the back of my eyes. Just thinking about my family and how wonderful it is brings tears of happiness but also sadness... because we are talking about my fears here. Losing any one of them would devastate me.

We all understand the cycle of life. How does the saying go? The only certainties in life are death and taxes. But I don't want anyone of my family to die. Ever.

When my nan died in 1989 was one of the saddest times in my life. My own experience of her death was horrible but watching my mother's grief was heartbreaking. My mum and I talk about my nan all the time. My mum tells me how she dreams about my grandmother and wakes up missing her as much as she did the day she died. I never want to miss my mum. I want her to live forever. The thought of my mum not being here with me is almost too hard to handle.

My fear of losing my son is too awful to even talk about. I absolutely cannot fathom what losing a child would feel like. My mother lost her first born just six weeks after she was born. She still feels the pain of that loss almost 60 years later.

At the recent Digital Parents Conference I heard the extraordinarily brave mum, Rachel from Mummy Muddles, talk about the loss of her 20 month old son to pool drowning. I listened with respect for her grief, amazement at her bravery and ability to speak in front of an audience about it so soon after, and in awe of the beauty of her words. Until it became too uncomfortable. When someone writes with such vivid clarity you cannot help but put yourself in the picture as you hear each word. At one point in Rachel's story I couldn't handle it any more and realised I started chanting in my head "detach, detach, detach" over and over.

Almost everyone in the room listening to Rachel recount the day her son died was crying. Some were sobbing. It was an incredibly moving and sad moment. Completely unexpected at a blogging conference! I didn't cry because I did what I always do to survive: I avoided feeling.

I believe my sobriety is absolutely rock solid but should one of my family die? I don't know if I could handle feeling that sort of pain. That is what I fear. Death and oblivion.

Anyway! Way too depressing to talk about. Fingers crossed the next #blogeverydayinmay topic is less morbid.

What do you fear?


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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Day 6: What do I do?

Day 6, Monday: If you couldn't answer with your job, how would you answer the question, 'what do you do'?

Aha! Great question Jenni, creator of #blogeverydayinmay.

Anyone who reads here frequently would know I have a few self esteem issues and I suffer a bit of anxiety. By a bit I mean a lot. If you wanted to ask me a question that could likely send prickles of anxious sweat down my back then this is the one.

What do you do?

Before child I was an executive assistant. I worked for a large financial services company. I had done secretarial work since I graduated high school with a couple of certificates and an ability to type 45 words per minute.

I always hated answering this question with "I work as a secretary". This came up on day 3 - what makes me uncomfortable.

I felt stupid and pathetic and unworthy. The lowest in the ranks of the office. Of course there are lower jobs that are not stupid, pathetic and unworthy. And secretaries are definitely not stupid, pathetic or unworthy. Being a secretary, being a great secretary is hard. And I was a great secretary. When I wasn't hungover.

Back to the present. What do I do?

It is interesting how often people ask that question. ".... and what do you do?". Small talk. So much of human existance is defined by what we do.

Remember my post about work and how much I don't want to go back to the office? I link back to this post all the time...

Funny, I still haven't answered the question yet, have I?

What do I do?

I never seem to stop. From around 7.30am to 1am everyday I'm doing.

But I don't have a 'job' and I'm not on anyone's payroll. But I do pay tax.

I rarely watch TV any more. I hardly ever read fiction these days. I stopped reading political commentary.

And I'm single.

So, what do I do?

I look after my four year old Noo.
On Mondays and Tuesdays I look after my 16 month old niece Mala.
I read blogs.
I write my blog.
I do social media.
I do domestic chores.
I pay my bills.
I shop.
I eat.
I drink coffee and Diet Coke.
I worry. A lot.
I go to doctor's appointments.
I wonder where my time goes.
I manage my moods and my anxiety levels.
I avoid anything that might make my anxiety levels go up.
I over analyse my neuroses.
I occassionally catch up with friends.
I question how I ever had the time to work or sleep in or read a book or follow a TV series.

What do you do?


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Monday, May 6, 2013

Day 5: Love and devotion

Day 5, Sunday: Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your blogger friends. What makes them great? Why do you love them? 
If you don't have blogger friends, talk about a real-life friend or even a family member

Wow, I am not sure about this topic for #blogeverydayinmay. Pick just one blogger I like? Profess love and devotion? There are so many that I love and try to read every post they publish.

But, as this is a challenge, I am going to play along but bend the rules slightly. I'll tell you my two favourite big bloggers at the moment.

Magneto Bold Too is one of my most favourite blogs. Kelley gives a lot of herself to her readers, much like I do. I've never met Kelley in real life but somehow I feel like I know her through her writing. She sometimes struggles with life and she's not ashamed to say it. She is funny and compelling and has a style of writing that is uniquely her own. I like the design of her blog and the fact that she swears. I love that she pretty much always replies to comments. I like that she told the GOMI bitches to fuck of. I just like her and I want her to win.

Woogsworld is my other favourite blog. Mrs Woog has got the lot: easy to read writing style with humour, humility and great giveaways. She does sponsored posts like no other. As a small blogger I look up to Mrs Woog as the benchmark of how to do this gig right. I love that she brings in massive reader numbers yet she doesn't have the glossy photos or an over designed site. The words are what brings me back time after time. I have actually met Mrs Woog several times at blogging events and she has always been lovely. I was completely intimidated by her awesomeness nonetheless which is all on me (read day 3 - what makes you uncomfortable to find out why).

All the other blogs I love are over there on the left hand column in my blog roll. Check them out. There are some awesome women on there with some great stories to tell.

What is your favourite blog right now? Got any recommendations for me?


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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Day 4: Favourite quote

Day 4, Saturday: Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it

When I first read the prompt for today my mind immediately went to this quote below because I say it over and over in my head all the time during my downs:

"This too shall pass."

Of course these are comforting words but I didn't want to choose them as my favourite quote. I say these four words over and over in my head as a mantra for survival. For this post I want to choose words that inspire me not just words that get me through tough times.

The quote that I'm going to choose as my favourite quote came from Shae at Free Range in Suburbia. I came across Shae's blog when I participated in the I Heart My Body campaign last year. This quote from Shae's post for this campaign resonated with me so strongly that I immediately typed it up all pretty, printed it and stuck it on my wall above my laptop screen.

If I could truly feel these words for myself and live by them everyday I reckon my life would be really different.

These words acknowledge that the society we live in has a strong preference for "perfect" when it comes to body size and shape. Too much of my sense of self is wrapped up in this warped and unrealistic ideal.

My interpretation of Shae's quote is that she is saying a big fuck you to society and standing up for the right to feel sexy and worthy no matter what she weighs.

This quote is triumphant and powerful and I love it.

You don't know me Shae but I just wanted to say thank you for such an inspiring post with the most awesome quote!


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