Thoroughly Nourished Finds – Inspiration and Escapism

Things in the world are getting really real at the moment, and because I don’t listen to the radio, or watch the news I find out about them on the internet, or through friends (and then end up trawling the internet for more information). Bad people, bad things, big decisions about the future of countries and people, all of these things are flooding the pages of this big wide web world. In these times we can only reach out to each other, give a kind word, a kind touch, try to spread a message of hope. Without the intention of belittling the problems of the world, perhaps we can all share in some good things on the internet, some support for our fellow humans. This month my Thoroughly Nourished Finds are about inspiration and escapism and just a little hope that the end of 2014 will find the world walking a more peaceful track.

Inspiration

After reading this article in The Atlantic about Afghan girls who live as boys for a few years I cannot wait to read the forthcoming book.

Somedays I feel like I am too old (I know, I’m only 27 Mum) to start something new and creative like writing that book I’ve always wanted too, but this Manifesto for the Late-Blooming Writer is consolation and inspiration.

I want to gather my friends together in the summer light for feasts where I can  wrap myself in the protection of their laughter and light. I would serve them Baked Almond Pancake, or perhaps Grilled Eggplant Rolls with Cream Cheese and Herbed Millet, or Veggie Chilli with a big pitcher of Fresh Honeydew Margaritas. Nourish them while nourishing my soul.

Thank you Ben and Jerry’s. Love does come in all flavours.

Escapism

Burning Man 2014 Artworks. I love ‘The Embrace’ although I don’t know where I’d put it in my tiny backyard, and the ‘Hayam Sun Temple’ is strikingly designed and perfect as a reflective space.

Wonder if they’d set up one of these mobile pools in my office car park this summer if I asked really nicely? I’ll bring the sangria.

The kick-butt princesses that Disney will probably never touch, but oh wouldn’t it be awesome to see some of these strong women on screen someday! (more here)

I dare you not to cry at this story and beautiful photo shoot for a single Mum with cancer.

Hope

Martin Luther King Jr once said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I wish to see light and love change this world, so I will practice light and love in my life. Perhaps it’s naive of me, but if we all practiced being the light and the love, each little corner of the world would have light up with a spark, and slowly that would become a fire of light and love, tolerance, peace, justice, hope, creativity, that would consume all of humanity. That is my hope.

R U OK Day?

Do you mind if we have some real talk today? Some ‘what’s going in your head today?’ talk.

Today, September 12, is R U OK? Day. The R U OK? Foundation was established to help encourage real conversations between family and friends about mental health. Countless times per day we answer the question ‘How are you?’, but does anyone really give an authentic answer, and similarly, do any of us asking the question really listen after we have asked the question?

Today I have a question for all of my wonderful readers, but first let me tell you a little story.

I have spoken before about my own struggles with mild depression and anxiety, and how much of this battle of the mind played out in the theatre of my body. I have mistreated myself and eventually found my way back to true nourishment and a healthy relationship between body and mind. I’m not perfect but I’m learning and moving forward every day.

If, today someone asked me R U OK? I would genuinely have to answer ‘Yes’. ‘Yes…but’. Yes, but for some reason I am so happy in my life that I am unhappy. I am happy that after a tumultuous start to the year with so many worries about my job and future my working life seems to be back on track and I am making long term plans for my career and where I want to be in ten years time. I am happy that I have great relationships with my family members and even though I was afraid that I would lose the special connection I have with my sister we seem to have worked out a new more adult relationship and lost none of the closeness.

I am so happy that I am surrounded by passionate amazing men and women that I am fortunate enough to call my friends, and even though sometimes I am not the best person to stay in contact with, when we do spend time together it is diamond-grade quality.

And every single day I am so happy because I get to see the face of the man I love. I am so happy that I have found the one who is twin and mirror of myself. Someone who shares my love of science and satire and mostly melted chocolate ice cream spooned out of the container for a Wednesday midnight snack. Someone who sweetly puts on my favourite shows and tucks me up into bed on the days when I am not feeling quite right. Chris makes me so happy.

post race snuggles

And I am so unhappy because I am afraid of the time when I am no longer happy. I am afraid that somehow I am going to upset this beautiful life and the house of cards is going to tumble down, shattering and burning and breaking on the way. I am afraid that I will do something wrong, upset someone, neglect someone, damage someone, and take away their happiness and my own. I just want to create a better corner of the world, make everyday count for the ones I love, and show gratitude for the blessings I have been given.

Have you ever been that happy that you question the infinite nature of our capacity for joy? Can a human heart be this happy forever? Do I deserve to be this happy and let go of the moorings of worry and panic and just float out into the big blue warm sea of happiness and gratitude and a life nourished in so many ways?

On this R U OK? Day I am making a vow to myself, and to all the blessings in my life that give me happiness. I don’t want to be worried about being so happy. I don’t want to be emotionally draining on those around me because I live on a teetering scale of truly happy to worried-about-being-so-happy. So, my vow today is to cast off the lines of worry, and just live in this moment of happiness. My vow is to recapture the joie de vivre of being present in this moment, in this time. I can’t help what may happen tomorrow – good or bad. But I can choose to make this moment, this day, the happiest that I can. I am okay. I am more than okay. I am happy and blessed and ready for this moment and the next.

My question to you readers is R U OK? Really? Have you asked those around you today? Have you truly listened?

Nourished Life Gratitude List Week Twelve

Oh so much sugar this week! Thank goodness I have been training for a half marathon is all I’m going to say. This colder weather has me diving into the nearest sugar bag and baking up a storm, so much so that I might need to just pull back a little and focus on nourishing my body with a little more than cookies and frosting. So, once I’ve shared my new cookie recipe with you tomorrow, maybe we should agree to a few healthy winter recipes around here for a few weeks? Not quite a diet, but a mid-winter refresh!

Saturday walk.

Saturday walk.

All that sugar definitely made for a very sweet week for more senses than taste. Here is the Nourished Life Gratitude List for last week:

Monday: The Queen’s Birthday long weekend meant a Monday spent at home with my family and my sweetheart. Then reality struck and I worked on my second-last assignment for the semester (and third last for my Master’s Degree) into the small hours.

Tuesday: Today I got to hand in that second-last assignment. I also had a chance to bake a cake for a beautiful friend (check it out here).

Wednesday: After a long and challenging day at my internship I was so grateful for a ride home with Chris. Despite the bad (really bad) traffic I enjoyed the time to relax and catch-up on our days. These are the little moments that count the most I feel. Don’t let traffic throw you out of a good mood. Crank up the radio, chat to your car-pooling buddy or just cherish a few moments where no-one can interrupt you and you can sift through your thoughts in peace.

Reading while waiting for Chris.

Reading while waiting for Chris.

Thursday: Today was all about baking and biking. I baked some biscuits for Chris’s work (the recipe that I will share with you tomorrow) and then I jumped on the stationary bike for a long (40km) cross-training session while I watched Murder She Wrote and dreamed of the day that I am a full-time writer (it’s all about visualisation).

Sweaty and smiley

Sweaty and smiley

Friday: This week my long run was only 8 miles so after I finished I came home and had time for some baking – cookies for me this time! Then I made pumpkin soup and whole wheat cheese and herb scrolls for dinner before Chris surprised me by taking me out to the movies to see ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ – so, so good.

Saturday: Mum and I had a great morning at the markets. The chilly winter morning was perfect for sleeping in so we arrived a little later than usual, but I was grateful for a little more snuggle time and then time to chat with Mum. Saturday night was all about gratitude for the wonderful man that I am in a relationship with. Chris and I celebrated our six month anniversary with dinner and another trip to the movies – I am a spoiled girl. Thank you darling, I am so lucky to love you.

Stacks on stacks of cookies

Stacks on stacks of cookies

Sunday: Oh…I slept in late this morning! So late in fact that I couldn’t term my first meal breakfast it had to be brunch. Chris and I played Scrabble as we woke up, I gobbled more cookies all afternoon, and my baby sister came to visit us.

 

Let’s Talk Family, and Muffins, Definitely Muffins

It’s Tuesday. Let’s talk about muffins. But first let’s talk about family. Let’s talk about my family.

Muffins, but first - family.

Muffins, but first – family.

My family: we are a circus without a ringmaster; we are loud – intimidatingly loud; we are emotive – every emotion, all the time, from ecstatic to furious and back again in barely a sentence; we are so, so different to one another, and a homogeneous lump of genetics at the same time; we are, well, we are a family.

My Dad at the time I sat down to write this post was standing next to me with two baseball caps on top of his head giving me his impression of a ‘gangsta’, before he made himself a slice of apple pie for dessert, and drafted another angry letter – see: a funny, homespun, and cranky old man all tied up in one package.

My Mum is currently ensconced on the couch with the cat on one side of her lap and Molly the malamute’s head on the other side. No doubt she is working on one of her detailed quilts all the while  watching crime shows and solving the case before a CSI cast member can say ‘mass spectrometer’.

My sister and her husband no longer live here but when I last saw my superwoman of a sister we gave each other lectures on our various personality faults (mostly calmly) and then discussed our next baking challenges – we’re just like that, and sometimes people get freaked out that we can go from yelling and crying to best of friends, but people, that’s the way these sisters roll, m’kay?

When a newcomer is introduced into the fold of our family they had better brace themselves. Sometimes it is funny to watch people’s reaction to the way that four people can uphold eight different conversations at once all while paying attention to what’s on television and which of the animals requires feeding or letting in/out. Most of the time though I feel sorry for the initiate. My brother-in-law is a sensible and quiet young man and I think it was truly a test of his mettle that he lived with us all for three years and didn’t run screaming into the night. In fact, he bound himself to our circus wagon forever when he married my sister. We’re like that – get attached to one family member and you get the whole clan.

Over the years I have brought various friends home who have then become like family – Casey, Caroline, Josie, Shane – all of them have been through the trial by fire that is dinner with my family, and survived (I hope) mostly unscathed and mentally un-scarred.

Chris, bless his mismatched cotton socks, fits into this mess perfectly. He pays attention to Dad’s work stories and hands out IT advice free of charge, compliments Mum’s cooking or bonds with her over her action movie collection, and he even likes my dog and is super cute when handling our fairy-sized cat.

Mum, Dad, my Aunty Lone (in the middle), little me (brunette) - and little Jess - see that smirk, still has it.

Mum, Dad, my Aunty Lone (in the middle), little me (brunette) – and little Jess – see that smirk, still has it.

So yeah, that’s my family. We may have to apologise when we leave shops because the sales attendants are either visibly shaking with trauma or laughter;  we never know which it is. We may have to pack an entire boot of food, chairs, books, gardening equipment, an industrial-size first aid kit, and a laptop computer whenever we go anywhere – just in case. We may snack endlessly on whatever lies around the house and hide our sweets from each other (like the time Mum started hiding her Chico babies in her unmentionables drawer because my Dad is a sweet-tooth beyond compare). We may sing Christmas carols in Woolworths in the middle of April, and share forkfuls of food, ask for the special dietary menu, and order milkshakes with low-fat milk and whipped cream, and cry in public, and laugh louder than is acceptable, but that’s okay with me, because they are my family. And I love them.

We also bring things when we visit. There is always too much baked goodness happening in our house for one family to digest in a reasonable amount of time, so we bring things.

Today, I am bringing you, my Thoroughly Nourished Life family, my recipe for Tropical Carrot Muffins (p.s. the whole family can enjoy them because they are gluten-free).

Muffins to share

Muffins to share

Tropical Carrot Muffins (gluten free)

This recipe makes about 14 standard-size muffins. If you don’t require these to be gluten free, simply replace the buckwheat and brown rice flours with 160 grams of wholemeal plain flour or white plain flour. Keep the almond meal as it adds a great texture and healthy fats.

For the pineapple: drain first and then measure. Keep the juices to drink with breakfast – delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 80 grams almond meal
  • 80 grams brown rice flour
  • 80 grams buckwheat flour
  • 80 grams brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder (gluten free if required)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup drained crushed pineapple
  • 1/3 cup sultanas

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (390F) and line 14 cups in two 12-cup muffin trays.
  2. Into a medium bowl weigh the almond meal, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, and brown sugar. Whisk in the salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and shredded coconut. Make sure everything is well mixed and no lumps of brown sugar remain.
  3. In a measuring jug measure the milk and add the eggs and vanilla essence. Whisk together well.
  4. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients along with the crushed pineapple. Mix well.
  5. Add grated carrot and sultanas and mix to distribute.
  6. Spoon mixture equally among the muffin cups and slide trays into the oven.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until tops are golden and spring back when lightly touched.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. Share with your family, or those friends who are like family.
Take a big bite

Take a big bite

My dear readers, what makes your family unique? What is a stand-out trait that everyone shares? Any favourite family recipes?

Happy Birthday Little One

I clutched tightly to my Aunty Lone’s hand as we crossed the pedestrian walk from the car park to the hospital. The mint green cardigan my grandmother had hand-crocheted for me kept out the late autumn breeze. As we walked through the entrance I didn’t notice anything but the big blush pink desk of the nurse’s station. I was only three though, so my view point was a little limited.

I didn’t care. There was only one thing I wanted.

You.

Mine...all mine...

Mine…all mine…

23 years and about 9 months ago I asked Mum and Dad for a present. The best present I was ever going to get: a baby brother or sister.

I waited, and waited.

Mum and Dad let me choose your name. I was so perplexed. I loved the name Sarah, but I had a doll named Sarah. Then there was always Penny, my favourite character on ‘Little People’. No, it had to be something really special. Something that I would always remember – Jessica after my favourite grown-up on TV: Jessica Fletcher.

I watched Mum’s belly grow larger and larger. I watched Dumbo with her and touched the shadows of your hands and feet as you reached out to touch only the skin that separated us.

Then, you were here.

My baby sister.

So perfect. So pretty. The biggest sky-blue eyes and the softest blonde hair.

You had the cheekiest grin – the devil himself couldn’t beat that smirk you had even as a little girl.

Then you would switch and your little forehead would crinkle and crunch as you concentrated on something – so serious, so business like straight away.

I idolised you. I still do in many ways. You were the walking embodiment of perfection on earth. The best present. My best friend. My baby sister.

Your first Christmas.

Your first Christmas.

I crowded you, I still do. I can’t help it, you are the thing that sits the closest to the heart within my heart.

People say they can see the resemblance between the two of us. Maybe it’s the smile, (we both know it’s that ahem…nose), or maybe it’s the way we both cock our head when we are trying to figure something out (look I understand that ‘black’ mascara is a totally different shade to ‘very black’), or maybe it’s the naughty look we both get on our faces when we lick the bowl.

For years as a teenager and a young woman I wanted to look like you. I wanted to be you. Baby sister you move through the world with an impact that belies your petite stature and small gnome-y hands. You seemed to face any problem with a ferocity of intelligence way beyond the grasp of us normal humans. You still do. Only now that I am older I know that your carefully constructed façade sometimes hides a woman who is crumbling like a cookie inside.

Let me be there for you the way you are always there for me.

Me and You.

Me and You.

Every time I have fallen, every time I have been smashed to smithereens on the rocky ledge of life, every time my bridges have burnt at my feet and scorched my toes – you have been there. You have fished me out of the deepest chasms of my soul. Been the candle in my darkest night. Been the balm to soothe my scabs, and told me just how beautiful my scars are.

You are the hardest working woman I know. People often think that you have had such a lucky life, but those who are closest to you know the truth: when you decide what you want in your life you work to make it happen. Every dream that has come true for you has been born from blood, sweat, and tears. You are the brave young thing. The bright young thing. You are the woman who is not afraid to go after what she wants. Whether it is the man you love or a home of your own I have watched you fight for what your heart desires. You deserve your dreams darling because you work so hard for them.

My favourite photo from your wedding day.

My favourite photo from your wedding day.

I love you Jess / chicken / Jec / boob (don’t ask). You are the sprinkles on top of my cupcake. The Romy to my Michelle. The Splenda in my cup of tea. You are the sparkliest piece of soul I could have ever hoped for cast into the sky to shine brightly into my life. I am so heart-bursting-at-the-seams proud of you.

You are my sister. My mentor. My partner in teasing Mum/Dad/Grace. My Christmas tree light detangling companion. The other half of the sing-along to every Britney song duo.

photo (21)

You are the only one I want to watch ‘In Her Shoes’ with because you get that sometimes I’m Maggie and I need you to be my Rose and tell me to get my stuff together. You are the one I look up to. We both know who the real older sister is in this relationship.

You are my little sister. The best present anyone ever gave me. I am grateful for you.

Happy birthday Jec, and here is to many, many more.

(P.S. I love you)

e e cummings

e e cummings

Bookends of Love and Pancakes

Sometimes Chris will drive over from his house to mine in the middle of the night – what a gift it is to have someone leave their cosy bed to join you just because they sleep better when they are holding you.

Even when we are staying under the same roof, I usually retire before he does; we are souls born for the opposite ends of the day: he is a night owl and I am an early bird. I don’t mind falling asleep by myself and he always comes in at the time of night I need him most: those middling hours where the threat of nightmare tends to dwell. I love to curl up within his arms. My body knows instinctively which way to twist and turn into his even in the depths of sleep. We dance under the covers throughout the night. Change positions as we get too warm, or an arm starts to cramp.

Choc-chip pancakes

Choc-chip pancakes

As he sneaks into bed late at night, so do I sneak out of bed in the early morning hours. We both have our bookends of the day where we find the best moments to nourish our souls as individuals, and those in-between to nourish us as a couple. I sneak out (with a kiss goodbye and a murmured reply) to run, or write, or visit the markets on the weekend, or to talk to Mum and Dad, or….to make chocolate chip pancakes for my still-sleeping Prince Charming. They are my gesture, my way of easing the hours of the day that he needs easing into. My way of starting the day with a show of love. Just as my darling ends the day that way.

Stacks on stacks of pancakes...

Stacks on stacks of pancakes…

These pancakes are fluffy, crispy on the outside. Once you pour the almond-vanilla-buttermilk dough onto the pan you need only wait about a minute before studding it generously with chocolate chips and then flipping it over to cook on the other side. Once you decide you want to make these you are only moments away from choc-chip heaven. I have even made these while doing dinner, cooled them on a cooling rack, and then packaged them in plastic sandwich bags to be taken for breakfast-on-the-run the next morning.

Sunday morning incarnation.

Sunday morning incarnation.

Chocolate-Chip Buttermilk Pancakes

These pancakes will make you immensely popular. Make them on a Sunday while your loved ones sleep, or on a Wednesday night when everyone needs a pick-up on Thursday morning. This recipe makes about 12 medium pancakes (I measure out my batter with an ice-cream scoop – the easiest cleanest method ever). You of course, can make them larger or smaller as you wish. A half batch also turns out well.

Ingredients

  • 100 grams of plain natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 150 grams plain flour
  • 75 grams almond meal
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk (or dark or white) chocolate chips

Method

  1.  Combine plain yoghurt, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Beat well.
  2. Whisk together flour, almond meal, caster sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Add yoghurt mixture to dry mixture and whisk together.
  4. Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray. Use an ice-cream scoop to portion out batter onto the heated pan. I cook about three pancakes at a time because this is what fits on my pan.
  5. Allow to cook for one minute then stud the uncooked tops of each with the chocolate chips. Let cook for another half a minute then flip and cook on the chipped side for about a minute and a half.
  6. Remove cooked pancakes from the pan and serve right away with ice-cream (for Chris) or cream (or both like my Dad), and some chocolate sauce never goes astray either. Or allow to cool completely and then pack in sandwich bags.

Tell me, dear reader, is there an unspoken way you show love to your family or partner? Are you a pancakes-for-breakfast kind of person? 

ANZAC Day 2013

Cold pre-dawn air. Stamping feet. My breath puffs out in visible clouds of steam. The sun begins to rise. The bugle plays the Last Post. Chills run through my body though I am wrapped tightly. A voice splits the minute of silence: Amazing Grace. Tears track warm streaks down my face and drip into the dew-damp grass below my feet. So many lives. So many wars. Too many loved ones left behind. We gather to remember their sacrifice. We gather in honour of those who still serve (lots of love to you Christy-Lee).

Lest we forget.

I wrote this poem many years ago when I returned from an ANZAC service. What must it have been like to be left behind while the man you loved marched off into the unknown to serve his country. How could you sustain yourself. How much love does it take to bind you together across the sea, the time, the loss. What do you say to a world, offer to the universe, in the hope that he would come home safe.

Home Port

I’m waiting for you, pacing the shore
Watching the moonlight play
I can hold my heart back for hours
But at night I close my eyes and pray

Bring him home to me
Where I can keep him safe
Let him run back to my arms
I can’t bear this empty space
My heart is cold like the ocean in wintertime
Bring him home to me, so I can make him mine

I couldn’t watch you leave that day
Couldn’t wave you goodbye
We had our own ritual for safe journey
On that final night
I’m keeping your place for you
So you better be keeping mine
Make sure you come back to me
All I’m asking for is more time

Bring him home to me
Where I can keep him safe
Let him run back to my arms
I can’t bear this empty space
My heart is cold like the ocean in wintertime
Bring him home to me, so I can make him mine

Don’t leave me on this shore alone
I’m standing here, holding my heart
Waiting for you to come home

Bring him home to me
Where I can keep him safe
Let him run back to my arms
I can’t bear this empty space
My heart is cold like the ocean in wintertime
Bring him home to me, so I can make him mine

You’re coming home to me
I’m waiting as the ship pulls in
I can hear the ocean calling
But all I can see is him.

In honour and memory of William Alfred Archer and Athol Allan Archer and all who still serve near and far from home. 

Monday Mantra: Feel Your Love

 

How will you make those around you feel your love today? How do you want people to remember the way you touched their life?

I want my patients to feel comfortable with me, so I listen to what they truly mean rather than just what they say. I want them to trust me to help them grow through their journey, so I try to stand in their shoes and walk in them a mile. I want them to know that I truly do care, so I employ empathy and trust them to be the expert of their own life.

I want my family and loved ones to feel that they can call me any hour of the day or night if they need me, and I will be right by their side. I want them to feel exactly how much I treasure their presence in my life. I want them to feel happy in mycompany, so I try to create more laughter than sorrow. I want them to feel that their wildest dreams are not beyond their reach because I will always believe in them. I want them to feel that we are all in this together, and that even in the darkest of times, we have the light of each other’s love to guide us through.

I want to be remembered for making people feel happy, comforted, individual, important, soothed, protected, nourished, cherished, loved.

Dear reader, how do you want people to remember you? How will you make that possible?

 

Gather Them Close, and Let Them Know

This morning I sit in stunned silence with tears wet on my cheeks while I watch more coverage of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. So many young lives. So many little ones who should be eagerly counting down to Christmas with their families and getting excited about Santa visiting next week. These Christmas Angels were here too briefly, their wings beat whispers on the snow, and their lives were bursting with potential and the promise of a long future for each soul.

I do not yet know the pleasure of parenthood, and I cannot imagine the heart-shattering devastation that their parents and families are experiencing in the cold dawn after this event.

The teachers and staff who put themselves in danger, who guarded those children with their lives, and in some cases gave their lives. These are angels who walk the earth.

The majority of us will never know the sharp and searing pain that the loved ones of those who passed are experiencing right now. We will never understand the depth of their grief and the task of rebuilding a future on a foundation that no longer exists. My heart goes out to every family touched by this tragedy.

Today I look around at the photos of my family and friends that line the walls of my home. Memories and moments captured; love caught in celluloid. I realise how lucky I am to know that most of these people are only a phone call or an email away. I can reach out with my arms and wrap them around those I love, pull them close and listen to the beating of their heart. Each breath, each beat, every sound, reminds me how blessed I am to have these beautiful people in my life. I am not always so grateful; I am not always so aware of my good fortune. I am ashamed to admit that sometimes I forget the blessings bestowed upon me by life. But I have always known that I am loved.

Every single day. Every. Single. Day. My parents have told me that they love me. Each night before I go to bed we say those words, and they anchor me to the hearts that surround me.

In the wake of this tragedy, gather close your family and friends.

Let them know that they are the candles in the window lighting the way home.

Let them know that they can turn to you whenever they are in need and you will answer the call.

Let them know that you value them more than any earthly fortune.

Let them know that you love them.

A Many Splendored Thing

Love really is a many splendored thing.

Sunday dawned clear and bright: the perfect day for a wedding, and what a perfect wedding it was.

Casey and Matt put such thought into each little detail for the day to create a wedding that was stamped all over with their personalities, and the nature of their love for each other.

Casey resembled an art deco sculpture in her long sweeping gown; only once in my life have a seen a bride as beautiful. I was honoured to serve as her bridesmaid and see the smile spread over her face when she saw Matty waiting for her at the end of the aisle. I could see her hands flutter a little with excitement and nerves, but as soon as Matt laced his fingers through hers a sense of calm came across her face.

DSC00370

Casey and Matt.

I saw time unravel, a million moments of serendipity and hard work flashed before my eyes, the look between those two was the most precious substance in the purest form imaginable: love.

photo (18)

Casey with me, Mama, Dad, and Jess.

After Matt and Casey committed their lives to one another at the church it was time for the celebration to begin!

photo (21)

Casey’s beautiful mum Fiona prepared a feast for guests to enjoy post-ceremony and pre-reception. The gorgeous Melissa made her famous sangria, I made some little scones, and Casey had made cookie pops for guests to eat on their way in the door. Cassie crafted Casey’s gorgeous bouquet (along with all the bridesmaid’s bouquets – not bad for a future doctor, and novice florist!) and Jess was on make-up duty. I think Cass put it best when she said that she had never been to a wedding that she felt more invested in, more a part of.

A piece of each of our heart’s was there on Sunday, and it belonged to the splendid couple we were celebrating.

Cass made these beautiful bouquets

Cass made these beautiful bouquets

The reception took place at Kingsleys Steak and Crabhouse. I could not think of a more perfect venue, or a more idyllic summer night. The food was amazing (they dealt with my special requirements in a most delicious fashion), the wine flowed, the staff were incredibly friendly and attentive (special thanks to Liam and Broughton), and the view was stunning.

The band was comprised of Casey’s friends from medical school and they were amazing. The music ebbed and flowed directing the mood as the night progressed.

Casey and Matt made heartfelt speeches to one another, and I cried the whole way through my speech even though I promised myself I wouldn’t.

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Dancing, more wine, and then: time for dessert! Rather than the restaurant providing dessert Casey and Matt opted to create a dessert buffet, which was perfect because every person in that room loves, and understands, the power of food. As Casey’s cookie pops stated: ‘There is no love sincerer than the love of food.’ The table was resplendent with two truffle trees featuring four different types of truffles (made by Casey and Cass, assembled by Melissa and Jess), salted caramel ice cream, chocolate hazelnut ice cream, meringues with passionfruit cream (made by my Mama), a cheese tower (oh yes, a whole tower) with Fiona’s handmade crackers, two croquembouche towers handmade by Fiona, and buttermilk panna cotta with raspberry jelly.

Melissa, Taso, and Cassie

Melissa, Taso, and Cassie

The cake was an ambrosial creation by Fiona: one layer of lemon syrup cake with white chocolate buttercream, one layer of pistachio cake, topped by a layer of red velvet with white chocolate buttercream.

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The sweetest Casey also asked her mum to create a cake especially for me. Thank you so much ladies, from the bottom of my chocolate cake and white chocolate buttercream coated heart.

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The love in the room on Sunday night was palpable. It shone from the hearts of all assembled as brightly as the moon hanging over the river, and it whispered glad tidings and best wishes for Casey and Matt’s life together as gently as the wind caressed the tops of the waves in the harbour.

Casey and Matt

From our hearts, to yours, Casey and Matt: long lives filled with love, adventure, and delicious things to eat.

Your love is a many splendored thing.

 

(P.S. Some of these photos are mine, and some belong to other guests. If you don’t want your photo published here please let me know and I shall remove it. I was too busy handling a bouquet, sipping sangria, and smiling for photos to take too many of my own!)