First post, not The Last Post

I applied for leave over Christmas so I can travel to Europe. I’m meeting Jess over there and we don’t really have any set plans. She leaves Brisbane next Saturday and we meet when I land in Budapest on December 12. We have 3 days accommodation booked over Christmas, in Salzburg.

Europe, for Christmas. I’m an Aussie. Our Christmas is normally hot. Damn hot! Beaches, swimming pools, heat, humidity, bbq’s, prawns, mozzies, beer, thunderstorms. Yes, Europe. Cold, freezing, chilly, rain, perhaps snow? I’m actually not great with the cold. Today’s goal is to buy ‘thermals’.

I’ve done some research. Ok, I’ve spoken to some people who come from those freezing cold places (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany) and they all suggest ‘layers’ of clothes. A good hat, coat, scarf and gloves….

I don’t even know about thermals. I know they keep your bits warm – and that’s a good thing because nobody likes cold bits, right? Where am I going to buy this stuff, here in Brisbane, the subtropical metropolis of Queensland, in Spring?

I’m thinking I will get the gloves when I arrive in Europe. Surely, being an area that is freezing, they will have appropriate gear – price and quality? I’ve got a mass of Collingwood beanies and scarves so that’s not an issue.

I need boots also. Waterproof ones. And warm, warm, warm socks. Cold feet suck!

A trip to Garden City and a visit to Anaconda and this happens! Bright blue thermals! The lovely young assistant tells me they only need to be washed once per week?

Really?

A quick trip into JBHIFI and the ‘recharge’ situation is sorted. Got this funky adaptor for Europe and the UK, with two built in USB ports.

So much to do and still have a trip to Melbourne to organise, before I head to Europe.

If anybody has pointers, hints or hacks for my Europe prep and trip, chime in and let me know!

PTSD PartIII

Shitloads has happened and thus why I haven’t posted in ever-so-long. I followed the words of The King and started at the beginning, which is right here, in a previous post, the onset of the PTSD, the start of it all. The events that set me up for damage. To understand the rest of this blog, you’ll need to read the ‘onset’ post. So off ya go – because, you know, context?

To those who left to read the ‘onset’ post – welcome back.
OK. To run through what has happened – so damn much. The important things first I guess?

Defence Ombudsman

For some reason, Government set up an Ombudsman department to deal with the institutional abuse which occurred, with frightening frequency, across all defence forces. I guess the staggering proliferation is the justification and requirement?

The ADF undertook a review in 2011 and the HRC did an investigation in 2012 – a short talk by one of the commission investigators is here. Its an easy read.

Anyway, I was encouraged by my cousins, psychologist and navy-sisters to document and submit what had happened to me. After months of deliberation I did it. I rocked up at work at my desk at 0500 – because I couldn’t sleep. I’d tried to write it the night before…but couldn’t. I sat for about an hour and a half. I relived the horrors, I wrote and I cried an endless amount of loud-ugly tears. Then I submitted it. Just like that. And no, I didnt feel like a weight had been lifted. I felt like I was subjecting myself to more of the crap I got when it happened.

That morning – there was one other person in the office. He sits a few pod’s over. He watched me and let me be – he didn’t say a word. I submitted my report, washed my face, dried my tears and got on with my day. He didn’t say a word, but he did keep an eye on me.

Ombudsman Findings

Nearly two weeks ago call from Tolna, my case manager at the Ombudsman Office. I was at work. She advised that my my report had been decided upon. Defence acknowledged that the incidents had occured. They acknowledged that I had reported the assaults. They acknowleged that there was evidence on file that had gone ‘missing’ and that the Navy had not dealt or dealt insufficiently with the assaults.
Tolna was so gracious. She did not, at any stage shy away from the ugly truth, she didn’t make me feel bad, dirty or responsible. She just acknowledged. She also told me that my report was horrible and that I wasn’t alone……

I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to think. I didn’t know how to feel. So I took off from my desk, to my work-wifey’s desk, looked at her and burst into tears. So damn professional. She is an amazing, strong, compassionate lady, she took me to a quiet room and just listened while I ugly-cried and poured out my heart.

32 years of shame, guilt, self-loathing, fear, pain, anguish, indignation, frustration poured out of me. I talked with my team leader and told her everything. She is also another beautiful, kind, compassionate, strong lady. Her heart was open. She doesn’t judge. She offered me her 100% support and it was heartfelt.

I went to CrossFit after work, then fell in a slump. I started to struggle. I didn’t know how to think. Stupid, right? Not knowing how to think? Really? Yep. Thats it. I didn’t sleep. I went to work early and again, the other early starter was there. I poured out my heart to him. He hugged me, imparted his ever present and valuable words of wisdom and I started my day.

The Mighty Funk

Ive been in a bit of a funk ever since. I’m still trying to process the enormity of what has transpired. I’ve seen my psychologist who has helped me reframe, but I’m still processing. Its been 32 years. 32 long angry years. Its time to change

I’m avoiding people at the moment. Its not personal. Its about me. Other than work and crossfit, I dont want to be near people. Its about me. I need to be with me, find a space I can rationalise all that has happened and work out how to make a new pathway to move forward. I need to rebuild me, into the person I want to be.

A new me starts now. I dont know how long it will take for me to want to be near people again, but it is what it is. And I flatly refuse to adjust this pathway for anyone. When my head tells me I’m ready, that’s when Ill mix again. Until then, I need to be with me. I wont apologise for that. Its about me. And I cant explain to anybody else, what I don’t understand myself.

As a result of all that happened, I get a very small repatriation payment but most importantly I get the opportunity to engage in a restorative justice conference. That may be the ticket to help me get myself back on track? I don’t know, but Ill keep trying and it will happen when it happens.

One thing I do know and have learned – my true friends will be there when I find me. And there will be new friends, who will emerge along the way. Its going to be a tough path, but I don’t have a lot of options, so I will do what I do best and just do it. And every time I fall, I will get back up, dry my tears and keep rebuilding. I will only fail when I don’t get back up – and I will always get back up.

PTSD life – Part IIb – My PTSD

This is a continuation from Part IIa.

Flashbacks and memories

The flashbacks are the absolute pits. There is no warning. There is seemingly no trigger, but there are also triggers. The lack of predictability increases or causes the anxiety, which in turn feeds the depression. The toll these unwanted intrusion, disruption and emotional destruction the flashbacks take on me is unable to be measured.

Flashbacks happen, anywhere, anytime. There are roads I cant drive down at night time, because if I do, I see the bodies of people I treated there, in those places. They are not real, but I see them as real so they are real for me. I know they are not real, but for a split second, I see a tangible, real body, and it causes a massive adrenergic response….and anxiety. The fact that they are not tangible doesn’t take away from how truly horrifying and terrifying it can be for me. There are streets I cant drive down in the day time, for the same reason.

I can be in the middle of talking to someone and it can be just a word or phrase, a tilt of the head, an infliction on a word, and it will stir up another memory or worse, a flashback. I can be texting or msg’ing someone, and a phrase they write will bring back a memory of a suicide note I read, and then Ill have a flashback of one of the to-many suicides I attended. I see trees, with certain shaped branches and see people hanging from them. The same with balconies, stairs, high set houses. Its so unpredictable and so damn uncontrollable.

I can see a street name, or a car with an RIP sign on the back, or a set of flowers and memorial on the side of the road, and again, flashback. I live in the area I worked as a paramedic for 13 years, so driving around this area stirs lots of memories and brings flashbacks. There are a lot of those memorials around our city, that are placed for the people I attended, but couldn’t help or save, or could help and save.

Sometimes, there can be no trigger. It just happens, without warning. These are the worst.

Insomnia

Insomnia is the absolute pits. This is so intrusive and limiting on lifestyle. I struggle to fall asleep, and sometimes I’m so irrational and scared (anxious) I cant go to sleep because I feel I might not wake up again, and then sometimes I think that that would actually not be a bad thing, for me and everyone else around me. I hate the ‘irrational’ side of things, given that I am a complete control freak (Gift from the RAN).

On a good day, I average 4 hours solid sleep and cope really well with it. But on a bad day, I manage to shut my eyes and fitfully drift, not asleep, not awake, aware but not alert. Its horrible. And then there are the nights where sleep just doesn’t happen. At all. The nights I cant sleep are annoying. I used to read, in the days when I could concentrate for longer than 10 minutes, but I cant concentrate long enough to read anything of depth now. Thats a real pisser also. One of my favourite things to do was to read, so having lost that ability has been quite devastating.

Everybody knows somebody – helpful links

So that’s just a small insight into the complex that is my PTSD. I haven’t touched on the emotional toll so much, or the toll on personal and interpersonal relationships, or my ‘quirks’, yet. But I will.

Everyone knows someone with Depression, Anxiety, Mental Illness and chances are it is a loved one. When dealing with them, (us), if we actually tell you we are having a ‘rough/not so good’ day, just be there. Don’t try and intrude into our heads. Don’t try and analyse what it is making things ‘rough’. Don’t try and fix it, because you cant. Don’t tell me ‘you should try…..; etc, because I wont be able to comprehend it anyway. And don’t ask me, the very next day, ‘how are you today? Are you better now?’ – because that’s not how this shit works. Just be there. You dont need to talk – you just need to be there.

Black dog Institute

Beyond Blue

Lifeline

Open Arms (Defence Members, past and present and their families)

Phoenix Australia – Centre for post-traumatic mental health

SANE Australia

PTSD life – Part IIa – My PTSD

In my first post, I talked a bit about PTSD being an individual experience. It is. So for this post, I thought I would explain what MY PTSD looks like, but I’m not really sure how.

PTSD

The Black Dog Institute provides us with a ‘definition’ of what PTSD is. It doesn’t state that the symptoms each person suffers can be vastly different, but they are.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a group of stress reactions that can develop after we witness a traumatic event, such as death, serious injury or sexual violence to ourselves or to others. PTSD can happen after we’ve been through one traumatic event, or after repeated exposure to trauma. Sometimes, PTSD can develop after hearing details about devastating and traumatic events many times, like the experience of some emergency workers. It’s important to seek help to manage PTSD. There are effective treatments for PTSD, and you can feel better.

Anxiety

Anxiety regularly manifests, for me, as self doubt mixed with fear, exacerbated by self doubt. Thats probably the best way I can describe it. It is also very unpredictable. I dont know when I’m going to get excessively anxious, or how bad it is going to get. It starts with pounding in my ears which is so loud it both blocks all extraneous noise and amplifies it at the same time, until there is a cacophony of noise thrashing around inside my head. It frightens me and makes my heart pound. I can feel my heart rate increase.

I can feel the palms of my hands become instantly wet, and also the backs of my knees. I’m acutely aware of the noise in my head. Over the cacophony of thrashing inside my head is the voice telling me how shitty everything is, and in a single second I can have a billion thoughts and conversations, play out a multitude of scenario’s and not be able to form any kind of reason or realism. Yet, everything seems so real. Its so confusing. It stops me doing simple things, like going to the markets, or going to the movies, or any number of normal, every day things. But sometimes I can go to the markets, I can go to the movies, I can do everyday things. Just depends on the day, time, people, place…..

Depression

Depression is rough. Its so damn rough. Its always lurking in my psyche. Its part of me and it doesn’t leave. Depression isn’t being ‘sad’. Its not something that ‘goes away’ for a day, its not something that I’m always aware of. For me, its a lack of emotion. Its a lack of being able to feel. Its also feeling like nothing is good, nothing can be good and when something is good, its not going to last. It is oppression and oppressive.

Each day is a battle and fight. It can be a struggle to get out of bed, and sometimes, taking care of basic hygiene is the most difficult and exhausting thing. Most of the time its easy enough to ‘look happy’, which helps other people.

Helpful links

Black dog Institute

Beyond Blue

Lifeline

Open Arms

Phoenix Australia – Centre for post-traumatic mental health

SANE Australia

– The PTSD life – Part I of…..who knows?

So this is the deal, the PTSD story. Its hard to write, its hard to know where to start. So I’m using the words of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson as a guide, of sorts.

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?” he asked. “Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

But starting at the beginning doesnt really make sense. I cant start at the end, because I don’t know what, when or where the end is or will be. So Ill start with the diagnosis and work through, a bit like Roald Dahl’s Wonkavator, not an elevator…..

Elevators can only go up and down. But the Wonkavator can go sideways frontways 

Charlie Bucket : And backways? 

Willy Wonka : Yup roundways, and squareways. Just press the key and Zing! You are there! By now pressed all the keys! Except one! Go ahead, Charlie! Press!

So sit tight and press the button. Read away. And if you don’t like it, don’t read it. I’m ok with that, because again, its about me and its my story and I need to write it to help me. Or you can go read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – its about as twisted as this stuff!!

PTSD – what is it?

So the diagnosis is PTSD. People love labels, people need names for things, people need an explanation. PTSD can manifest in different ways for different people. Whilst there are ‘textbook’ signs to tick boxes, the actual signs and symptoms are variable and very much individual. So when I talk about ‘PTSD’, this is MY PTSD, not anybody else’s PTSD. Because we are all different, collectively different, but still ‘same-same

Blackdog institute provide this snippet for us:

What PTSD does do to me is multifactorial and ever changing. Some things are transient, some things are intermittent, some things are permanent. And some things are just plain scary as fuck. Crippling Anxiety, depression, hyper-stimulation, exhaustion, lack of concentration, insomnia, fear, nightmares, flashbacks, triggers, and of course, the gift that keeps on giving – seeing weird shit. Everywhere. Makes life interesting.

What PTSD doesnt do to me is make me stupid. I’m not stupid, I’m not an idiot, although I can be, and I can do stupid things. I’m not unintelligent, I’m not lazy. And sometimes I laugh inappropriately, because I feel that if I cry, I just wont stop. Ever. I function like a ‘normal’ person, most of the time. And the times I don’t function, you probably wont see, if I’m lucky.

History

Most of my family, friends and acquaintances, know that I have spent 23 years as a paramedic. Most of those years were at the highest clinical level. Some of you know that that means, but loads of you don’t . I will explain that further in another blog.

Most of my family, friends and acquaintances also know that prior to being a paramedic, I was in the Navy. I spent 8 years serving my country and the majority of the experience was absolutely fabulous – yes, I did make lifelong friends. What most of you don’t know though, is that whilst I was in the Navy, I was sexually assaulted, whilst at work, twice. By senior sailors. So if I cast my mind back to pre-assault and the person I was pre-assault, I think that’s where the PTSD life possibly started.

Navy Life

The first assault occurred at HMAS Coonawarra, in NAVCOMSTA Darwin, by a POROT. I will never forget it. I will never forget his name, or his face, or his filthy fetid brown beard. I had just turned 18, I was a small statured kid. I reported it to my boss and because i was ‘just a WRAN’, I was moved out of my job in the COMCEN and sent to the TTY workshop. Still in the same building, but not on his shifts. Then they moved me to Humpty Doo, thankfully.

I’d created a stir by reporting the assault, and that upset the applecart. I was not supposed to report it, because, you know, in 1988 it was just what happened to the young girls in the Navy….it was, you know, ‘just a joke’, and the boys just ‘having a bit of fun’.

The second assault occurred on HMAS Tobruk. Again, a senior sailor. Again, I reported it. But the result this time was that because I sat next to other men in the mess and hang out and stepped with other men, it really wasn’t an issue and I didn’t really have a problem with men being in my personal space.

I remember being devastated when I was told this. I also remember the fear when this leech followed me when I was on duty and doing my rounds. He eventually caught me alone a second time, pinned me agains a bulkhead with his hand around my throat and told me what a bitch I was for dobbing him in, that he knew he would get away with it because he was a married-ey (navy term for married man) and that he was going to make my life hell. And then he reported me for supposedly not doing rounds properly….

But the final kicker was after these two assaults. Because I wasn’t fucked up enough from that. From being a kid, assaulted by dirty old sailors, and subsequently not being protected from the same. I thought I would make myself safe, I thought I better take control, because the Navy wouldn’t, and so I quickly got married…..into a domestic violence situation, to a man with a love of guns. The marriage ended the night our neighbours called the police because they thought he was killing me. It wasn’t the first time.

When the police came, they took me upstairs and they found, sitting on my duchess two shells for his gun, which was downstairs, where he had held it at my head. Not sure who the two shells were for, because there were three of us. Me, him, our baby.

To cut it short, it went to court. The Navy sent our Divisional Officer with him to court, for support, but nobody was sent to be with me. I had to go alone. He had his gun licence removed and was forbidden from handling or using weapons. So the Navy put him on the Standing Sea Guard – which is a squad of sailors who do official parades etc, in formation, with rifles.

The standing sea guard practiced on Fleet Base at Garden Island, where I worked. He was legally not permitted to hold a weapon, and here he was, literally 20M away from me, with a rifle. I was terrified. So I did what I thought was right, and called the police. He was on a Navy base, so they had no jurisdiction, but they reported it to the Navy Police. My Chief also reported it to the Captain of HMAS Kuttabul, but he didn’t think it was a concern or a threat, having my violent ex-husband outside the doors of the health centre, with a rifle.

I’m glad he didn’t think it was a concern. I did. I’d come to the realisation that the Navy wasn’t going to keep me safe. That being a female in that institution at that time put me at risk and that I didn’t want to be near my ex-husband, with a rifle. So I discharged and ran. My Chief knew I was leaving and one or two friends. Other than that, nobody. I couldn’t risk being stopped from moving as far away as I could. I had to get myself safe because my employer wouldn’t. They could have, but they wouldn’t.

The real tragedy with what happened in the puss (Navy), is that it was not uncommon for this to happen to girls in those days. It was not acceptable, but it was accepted. I’m hoping that it is different for girls now.

So I think this was the start of it. This is what first started my ‘control’ need. I thought that if I am in control, I can keep me safe. If I am in control, I can keep others safe. Ive now discovered that that shit doesn’t work.

I was done. Now, I’m just beginning.

It was rough…..

Its been a tough few months. The cause of my gastric bleeding was found on February 28, pretty much by accident, and surgically fixed the very next morning. It must have been a sign, because if there were no answers for me at that consult on February 28, I was checking out. I was done. I’d vomited blood, daily, since December 5. I was so very sick of feeling continually nauseous and lousy, yet trying to fake happiness and smile. I had decided that if there were no answers at that consult, it was my last day. I’d never been so physically unwell, for such a long time, and never been so defeated. I was done.

I am eternally grateful to the amazing team I had – my surgical, medical and gastro teams, the pathologists, radiologists, and my incredible psychologist – I wouldn’t have made it to February 28 without him.

My recovery, post surgery, was rapid. I sorted my life out. I’ve set some goals and made myself a bucket list – which I haven’t reduced to writing, but I will! And I’m being incredibly selfish – because my bucket list is all about me. I’m taking on my Navy-Sister’s mantra ‘My life, My way’ (Thanks for the inspo Mel, love you forever <3)

It was a month before I could exercise again, but I am back at CrossFit, with the most awesome bunch of folk one will ever meet. Ive been back at it now for a month and I’m sure its killing me?!! It’s not, but I really do love to complain about how much my body hurts! CrossFit keeps me going, its so damn good for my mental health and I hear from some of my CrossFit fam that it ticks the boxes for their mental health also. Shoutout to my CrossFit Fam at CrossFit 189 – the best bunch of people I know ❤

Onward and Upward

So I’m moving on. I’m moving up.

I’m doing things for me.

I did a course a few weeks ago on how to make beeswax wraps. It was lots of fun and I met some nice ladies. Ive found a wax supplier and am going to start making and selling beeswax wraps, beeswax candles and some therapeutic lip balm- not for the money, but for me. Because I want to. Because its a bucket list item.

I did a macro photography course today. Its the first photography course I’ve ever done and it was a lot of fun and really quite overwhelming. I learned just how much I don’t know! The facilitator was fantastic and was incredibly helpful with making photography work with my dodgy eye’s – I have bilateral strabismus on horizontal and vertical plains and was diagnosed about 5 years ago with Fuchs Dystrophy, so I cant judge distance AND am slowly losing my sight. Gotta love good genetics! Photos on my facebook page – here!!

Im going to do another photography course soon – a Wildlife photography course. Or an Astral course. Or probably both. Because I want to.

I’m loving my new workplace. My colleagues are hysterical and the fast pace keeps my mind occupied, mostly. And they accept me, PTSD and all.

I’m loving the cool weather and I love that my workplace is so flexible I can set different hours and train in the afternoon instead of the morning. Running at 0630 in the freezing cold is just not appealing….so I’m going at 1600 or 1700, depending on what I fancy. Because I can. Because I want to.

I’m going to write a bucket list and start ticking things off. Not a full-on wanky bucket list though, just a little bit wanky – and subject to change. I’m making goals and intend to kick goals. And I’m going to keep fighting my battles……and the bats in my belfry…..but those bats…..they get a blog of their own. Special buggers that they are….

Devonshire Tea for Poor Health

Health

My mental health has taken a beating this past year and unfortunately, my physical health followed suite.

Ive just come out of hospital from my second gastric bleed in 3 weeks. I feel like a bit of a lab rat pin cushion and still don’t have a lot of answers. Histology of my stomach wall shows nothing sinister and while my Hb drops with each bleed, we cant find where or what is bleeding. Surgical team want to find something surgical and Medical team are of the belief it is gastritis secondary to PTSD. Oh well. Such is life.

I am very thankful for our fantastic public health system here in Australia. I received excellent care and when I was allowed to eat (about day 4) the food was pretty darn good! Yep, No free TV, not that I was up to watching, but I had my iPad with me and the free WiFi allowed me to watch what I wanted, when I was up to it.

I got out of hospital last night, and when I went to bed, I actually slept. I had forgotten how good sleep is. Its been so long. I woke up feeling a little blue and had more medical appointments in the afternoon, so dearly-beloved decided a drive in the hills was in order.

We headed up towards Beechmont to watch the paragliders take off and fly, while I contemplated life, the universe, everything (sounds like some sort of cliche). On the way, we came across this funky ‘Nook and Kranny Cafe’ and stopped for a look.

Location, Location, Location.

I hadn’t been to this area of the Scenic Rim before, and I will most definitely be going back. Beautiful windy roads, plenty of bush and spectacular views. Nook and Kranny is just off the road, and looks like a cottage that has been converted to commercial premises. It is set amongst the trees and offers indoor and outdoor seating.

The indoor section is reminiscent of a country cottage and we did notice the wood burning heater, perfect for sitting near on those cold winter days, enjoying a hot coff…er, tea. There are a few seating areas, with dining tables of various sizes and a couch area, to lounge back on with a drink and magazine – did I mention this place is licensed?

The outdoor area has undercover and open seating. An open garden kind of area, surrounded by lunch greenery with plenty of space. We sat undercover on what looked to be a porch area of the old house and watched the world go by.

Devonshire Tea

Anyone who knows me is well aware of my hankering for Coffee. Ive blogged about my affair with the beautiful, brown liquid from the gods. However, the doctors have ordered me off coffee. How dare they?! Don’t they know how important coffee is? Tea, though, apparently its ok – so I’m trying my best to make the switch without to much moaning.

Nook and Kranny offer Devonshire Tea for around $8.00, so that’s what I decided on. It was worth it. They have around 8 varieties of tea, catering to most tastes. I saw Camomile, Green Tea, Earl Grey and I cant remember the rest. We decided on a nice pot of English Breakfast and took a seat outside.

The tea was made with tea leaves – not a bag in sight! Ive not had ‘pot tea’ for years and I really enjoyed it. I cant work out why I can have tea and not coffee, but like I said, no moaning!

The scone was delicious. It was loaded with sultanas and slightly warmed, firm on the outside and with just the right amount of buttery flakiness defining a good scone. Topped with jam and cream, with my dearly beloved, in this tranquil setting,what more could a blue girl ask for to soothe the soul?

I didn’t check out the rest of the menu, although their wine selection looked pretty decent, from what I could see on the shelf. When we go back, and we will, I will check out the menu in more depth and see what is on offer. I did see that they have live music in the garden, every Sunday from 3-5pm. It looks like an idyllic place for a relaxed quiet Sunday afternoon wine.

Nook and Kranny – we will be back!

CHRISTMAS ‘DOVERS

Christmas Leftovers.

Silly season is progressing nicely and we are in that weird time, between Christmas and New Year’s – when everyone knows its day time, but nobody quite knows what day it is.

One of the conundrums that confronts us at this time of the year is all the Christmas Day ‘Dover’s, what to do with them and how to avoid waste. We have a leg of ham that we hardly touched and a large roast chicken. We’ve had our fill of toasted sarnies and modified pasta dishes, so I took to the internet for inspiration. Google, you rock my world!

Being silly season, I actually don’t want to put in a great deal of effort, because ain’t nobody got time for that. I wanted quick, easy, economical and tasty. I found it.

I hit up Google and a hand app called ‘Tasty’ and decided on Pinwheels.

Yes, pinwheels! I’d never made them before and had everything I needed in my fridge, freezer or pantry. I thought I would do Chicken & Pesto to use up the chook, and Ham, Cheese, onion & tomato sauce to use the ham up.

Super Easy, Super Quick.

Ingredients:

Puff Pastry, Ham, Cheese, Tomato Sauce, Roast Chook, Pesto from a jar!

Method:

1). Slather the fillings on:

Ham, Cheese, onion and tomato sauce

Pesto and Chicken

2). Roll it up and cut it:

3). Place on a baking sheet, brush with a beaten egg, then bake for about 20mins in a 160C oven.

The finished product:

Light, flaky, delicious warm and cold. I had a few scraps of puff pastry left over, so spread them with cinnamon, brown sugar, butter and some lamington M&M’s. The didn’t look so pretty and the butter melted out and burned, but they still tasted pretty damn good!

Dearly Beloved loved the savoury pinwheels so they will definitely make an appearance in our home again – and we may get more creative with fillings, just for fun. I’m thinking salami, cheese and chilli jam, or prawn and mango, or blue cheese and crushed pistachio with cranberry jam. So many options.

Have a great day!

Schnitzel & Spaetzle

Dearly Beloved and I were curled up on the couch, enjoying our quiet Saturday afternoon and watching the cooking channel. I really like that channel, although it is a bit dangerous.

The common theme, being October, was ‘Oktoberfest’ and German food. We saw the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl in Munich, stirring up memories of my European Christmas Vacation and consumption of a beer as big as my head. I was able to show dearly beloved where i hung my coats and where I sat and it has been added to the list of ‘where to visit in Europe’ for the trip we are planning together.

A few of the shows featured schnitzel and Spaetzle. So I thought I would give it a go? Why not? I dragged my butt off of the couch, and headed for the kitchen. I have supplied the nutritional details at the bottom of the post – for the health conscious folk among you!

We didn’t have any veal for the traditional schnitzel, so I used chicken thigh fillets. I cut them in half and bashed crap out of them with a wooden rolling pin. I don’t have a meat hammer, for safety reasons (anyone who knows me personally will understand why!!). On the shows, the meat was put through a roller, making it super thin.

I dipped it in a beaten egg, coated it in breadcrumbs and shallow fried it.

Half a thigh, bashed to within an inch of its life, with a fork so you can see how much I bashed it!

Spaetzle – German Egg Noodle

I didn’t try it when I was in Europe, and now I wish I had. They are made throughout Europe, and called different things, depending on which country – Kind of like Devon/Polony/Fritz here in Australia! I will try Spaetzle though, when I go back! It was so easy to make. Just a mix of plain flour, egg and a bit of milk, with consistency a little thicker than pancake batter.

I dont have a Spaetzle maker, so I improvised and used an old steamer pot and pushed the batter through with a spatula and my little tadpole drops of batter fell into the pot of boiling water, cooked in about 40 seconds and floated to the top. Amazing!

It worked well. I drained them, tossed them in a little melted butter in my cast iron pan, then mixed through some grated cheese, milk and ham. I put a bit more cheese on top and whacked it under the grill to brown. OH, MY, LAWDY.

My little tadpoles, floating to the surface!

In the pan with cheese, milk, ham and cracked black pepper

The finished products:

The finished product – nicely browned.

Schnitty and Spaetzle- delicious!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Carbohydrates: Too high to count

Fats: Don’t even go there.

Protein: Not to bad at all actually.

Food Type: Heavy, a bit stodgy, definitely comforting

Frequency: Without doubt a “sometimes” food.

Accompaniment: Could try a garlic bread if you like – why not boost the carbs and fat content to the moon, just for shiggles..??!!!

Drinks to have with it: Anything you damn well like, although the Germans are pretty fond of beer, so why not try a German Ale?

Enjoy!!

High Waist Shorts

I first started sewing at school. I was at St Mary’s, Carnarvon WA and remember my first sewing task being a pencil skirt. Our sewing teacher, Sr Assumpta, sadly didn’t have the patience of a saint, or maybe she did. Her continual berating us poor girls scared me for life. She frequently called me a messy heathen. I didn’t even know what a heathen was, but I did learn to sew. I can blind hem, by hand, better than Sr Assumpta herself now. Needless to say I stopped sewing when I left school.

After I had Jess, I got back in to sewing. I made her baptism gown, all white and puffy, with a baby pink tulle overlay, fake opals around the waist, flowers and all sorts of decorations. We still have it, 26 years down the track. When she started swimming, I also made her training togs. Loads and loads of them – from a pattern I drafted myself. I made her year 10 formal dress – a gorgeous black, white and red deal but I dont think she still have that one.

Ive made other bits and pieces of late. The world of YouTube has opened up a whole new interest for me. Ive drafted some patterns and made myself some skirts, some jarmie pants for Dearly Beloved, and a skirt for Jess. Last week she mentioned that she would like some more high waist shorts – and today I gave it a go. Perfect project fo a lazy Sunday and I was able to concentrate only just long enough to get them done.

The most difficult part of sewing for me is my poor eyesight which makes it difficult to thread needles and sew in a clean line….and my poor concentration span. Te hour that it took to make these was right on my limit so I’m really glad I got them done.

First step was to use Jess’ only pair of high waist shorts to draft a pattern from.

Fold down the front to trace the pattern

I traced the front of the shorts, added a seam allowance and snipped away. For the back, I traced the front pattern I drafted, but made the curve deeper and longer – to allow ‘butt-room’ then cut them out also. I measured a waist band to use as facing then laid the paper on the fabric to cut it out.

I got this gingham at an op shop for $1 for 4 metres. Its really thin and not great quality fabric, but I didn’t want to use ‘good’ fabric because given that this was my first attempt, I didn’t want to waste the good stuff. It was so thin I ended up cutting 4 front panels and 4 back panels so I could line the shorts and make them stronger.

I stitched the fronts together, along the crotch up to the front waist, then did the same with the back but basted from the base of where my zip was going to the waist. Then I stitched the front to the back at the side seams, stitched the crotch and that was pretty much it.

The zipper was a little more challenging. I put the waist lining in first and then had to try and manoeuvre the zip under the lining and stitch it in. It turned out ok though and next time I know how to do it better. A quick hem of the legs (by machine, thank you very much Sr Assumpta) and that was the machine sewing done.

I had some red love heart buttons in my button jar, so decided to whack them on and see how they looked. Im pretty pleased with the final product and will give them to Jess in the morning. Hopefully I will get a photo of her wearing them and be able to post it.

It took about an hour, including drafting the pattern, to finish these shorts. So quick and easy! And so very cute!

The finished product

A little bit of Europe at home

Christmas in Europe was an unforgettable experience. I had such a wonderful time with Jecca and cant wait to go back. I constantly tell Dearly Beloved about my Christmas and all of the things I loved about Europe, so myself and my Dearly Beloved are in the process of saving to go to Europe, together, hopefully for Christmas 2019.

In the meantime, I decided to bring a little bit of Europe into our home. Anyone who has been in Europe at Christmas will know of mulled wine – not only how delicious it tastes, but how amazing it smells. So, I thought I would try and make it, not expecting much success. I found a Jamie Oliver recipe, picked up some citrus, and tonight, stuck the big cast iron an enamel pot on the stove and gave it a whirl. I already had all of the spices, and it wasn’t at all labour intensive.

Check this citrusy goodness!

It was actually really easy to make, and very quick. The whole house smells like Europe Christmas Markets – that sweet, fruity, spicy aroma, like a big warm hug and stimulating the ol factory. It passed the taste test and sent me crashing back to Christmas, markets, foreign languages, exotic cities and marvellous memories. The memories have been a welcome reprieve from my normal, everyday life and have given me a moment of peace and quiet in my head. Its a good thing we are not drinkers – this is something that is an ‘occasional treat’, not an ‘every day drink’!

Star Anise, Citrus, Red Wine. YUM

I wasn’t really in the mood to cook tonight, so made a lazy but delicious dinner. My eating habits are pretty good now, but tonight I carbed it up and got this deliciousness into my belly. Beef ravioli with pesto, goats cheese with truffles, roma tomatoes and parsley. So much deliciousness!

Simple pleasures – pasta, mulled wine, Dearly Beloved, memories and anticipation at creating more memories. Life’s pretty rough right now, but it will get better and relaxing into some memories has been a nice reprieve.

Pasta and red wine for dinner. Not to shabby!