The Guilt Trip

Flight

About this time last week we were on our way home to Harbour City after a lovely long weekend visiting Mr Posy’s family down in the City by the Bay. Niece Posy read us the riot act back in January – she was very unhappy that we hadn’t been down to see her for a while, and demanded to know when we would next be visiting. Given our last visit was in August (time got away from me), her guilt trip was very effective, and that night I was looking up flights.

I started a countdown calendar of work days to our trip (because I am five), and I was tickled pink to hear that Niece and Nephew Posy were counting down the days on their own calendar (“THEIO AND THEIA POSY IN TOWN!”). Getting up at 4.30am to get to the airport for our early morning flight was hideous, but worth it once we got off that plane at the other end and I could give the kids a big hug.

Melb

Niece and Nephew Posy are getting so grown –  I relished every minute of colouring-in, playing superheroes, making tutus, reading storybooks, singing at the top of our lungs, searching for fairies, and taking selfies. And bowling! We took the kids bowling for the first time and they loved it.

Saying “see you next time” still felt like a knife going through my heart, but there were no tears on leaving this time round (theirs/mine). We’re hoping they might be able to get up here in May for a long weekend, and Mr Posy and I are making a list of all the places we want to take them and all the things we want to do.

It’s funny how life works out sometimes, isn’t it? If somebody had told me when I first started this blog (after sidelining my previous blog), that the thing I’d miss most when Mr Posy and I moved to Sydney was having his family right across the road, I would have said they were out of their mind. Yet here we are – more than four years and one interstate move later, and I miss them dreadfully, and I wish they lived across the road. I don’t miss Mr Posy’s Ma’s cooking, but I do miss having his family so close. I miss our family BBQs, and I miss seeing the kids grow.

We’re at a bit of a stalemate though – they will never move to Sydney, and Melbourne will never be on the cards for us. We will just have to settle for video chat and frequent flyer points.

Sad for Summer

Beachin'

I was quite enjoying our seemingly eternal summer, but like all good things, it had to come to an end. The mercury dropped over recent weeks, freakishly climbed again to summer-like temperatures around Easter, before seriously dropping once more this past week. After packing away our beach towels and bathing suits and pulling out jackets, boots and warm knits, I have finally come to accept that I will not be hitting the beach any time soon.

We have had much to keep our minds off the beach, however –  festivals and fun events (we attended the Royal Easter Show for the first time), amazing meals in some lovely restaurants, and many many coffees out and about.

As well as a visit from Wills and Kate (sorry- Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) over Easter (ha!), we were also very fortunate to have a few fleeting visits from family, and friends (who we consider family).

It wasn’t until I caught up with my station girl J and her fiancé over dinner (on their stopover in Harbour City before jetting off to the US for three months) that I really realised just how much I have been missing my people. I knew I was missing our family and friends, but I think, for the most part, I’d been able to quash those feelings – until we met up at Alpha for dinner, where I found myself fighting back tears because I was so happy to see my beautiful friend. After a good catch up over a few glasses of wine, an amazing Greek feast, and a walk around this gorgeous city, by my beloved bridge and the sails of the House, I said farewell, while my heart was both bursting with happiness and aching with sadness. As much the visit from my lovely friend just made me miss her more, it was also just the recharge that I needed.

It’s hard to be sad for too long in such a beautiful city, especially considering Vivid Sydney kicked off only a few days after J’s visit! Mr Posy and I always tried to time our visits to Sydney to coincide with Vivid – it is one of our favourite events on the calendar, and this year’s festival was more amazing than ever. As part of Vivid Live, we saw Kate Miller-Heidke at the Opera House – I have never been so mesmerised at a concert, ever. Her performance was nourishment for my soul that I didn’t even know I needed.

Vivid

Last weekend we took a roadtrip down to Canberra for the day to visit my mum, and we also dropped in to see my great aunt. It was an exhausting trip (an 8 hour round trip, for a 4 hour visit), but it was good to see Mum’s new abode and also spend time with my dad’s aunt and uncle. I am still recovering after driving both legs of the trip!

I want to drive up to Newcastle to visit my aunt and little cousins again soon, and we also want to take another trip down to Melbourne to see Niece and Nephew Posy (and BIL and SIL) – but our calendar is fairly packed for the next couple of months, so I will have to contend with Skype catch-ups for a little while yet.

It’s probably a good thing that the weather has cooled and we no longer spend our weekends lazing by the beach – with birthdays, baptisms, NRL games, concerts, comic book festivals (don’t ask), dinners and drinks, roadtrips, and, oh, work, we just don’t have enough hours in the week to squeeze everything in. I won’t lie though – I am definitely counting down the days until I can get back in the water… and shortly after fly out to Bora Bora!

Looking back on 2013: A belated Year in Review

Given we’re through the first month of the new year and fairly well into the second, television has resumed its regular programming, school is back in session (traffic, uggggh), annnnnd I just had a birthday, I can no longer deny that it is now well and truly in 2014.

I know I am a little LOT late with my ‘year in review’ post, but I wasn’t quite ready to let 2013 go – it was a huge year for me; my biggest year yet.

The First Quarter

Thinking

As has become the custom for us, we marked January with a trip to Sydney. Sidenote: I’m not sure what we’re going to do now that we actually live here?! We caught up with friends, ate too much, met with wedding vendors, and celebrated a friend’s gorgeous little boy’s second birthday.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t always the best company – I had discovered a lump a month earlier (Christmas! Best gift yet!), and being particularly stupid I had decided to bury my head in the sand (hoping it would go away), only to rediscover the lump on our trip away. Pretty stupid at the best of times, incredibly stupid when you have my family history. After crying hysterically to Mr Posy, I made an appointment with my GP (who was also Mum’s GP and had diagnosed her cancer) for when I returned to PosyTown. I cried even more when my GP referred me on for an ultrasound, saying “We need to get this looked at”… Thankfully, it was just a false alarm; however it did prompt me to quite seriously look at my lifestyle and how I was treating (or not treating) my body, and make necessary changes.

Community Service Announcement: Get your girls out (and the rest) – see your GP and get a health check. If something doesn’t feel quite right, have it looked at, don’t just hope it will go away.

The rest of the quarter involved drowning in huge changes at work (and all the additional work that these changes created) and supporting staff through said changes. Explaining to staff, who after many years working together had become like family, that there would not be a position for them in a new structure was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my career. Thinking about it now still makes me feel sad and uneasy. I can’t even rationalise it to myself as one of those “growing experiences” that “only makes you stronger” – it was an experience I could have done without.

PosyTown is such a transient place, and as with every year, I said goodbye to more dear friends who rode off on their way to greener pastures – always hoping that it would soon be my turn to leave.

Needless to say, my heart was pretty heavy and I shed many tears during the first quarter of 2013.

Quarter Two

Sydney

Fortunately, the second quarter balanced out the first.

After many years of balancing surviving work and study, I finally donned a cap and gown, and walked across the stage to collect my degrees. I don’t know who was more proud – me, Mr Posy, or my parents. I am missing study, but I’m not quite ready to throw myself back into another degree just yet. For now I am enjoying making travel plans, exploring Harbour City, and researching possible future courses.

We took another trip to Sydney, this time for a friend’s baby shower and to meet with our priest in the lead up to the wedding. I was far more relaxed and in a far better head-space than our previous trip, and we had a wonderful time catching up with friends. I went back to PosyTown feeling refreshed after our very quick trip away.

Niece Posy turned three, and she had a Minnie Mouse themed party. I tried my hand at cake pops for the first time, and will never ever forget my little niece’s reaction when she saw the finished product. I had so much fun helping my SIL with the party-prep, to the point of finding myself designated as face painter for the big event. Luckily the three year olds were quite impressed with my basic flower, love heart and a little glitter; the older children, on the other hand, were not quite as forgiving of my ‘skills’…

Quarter Three

Chaos

Chaos. Bedlam. Total pandemonium.

All the changes at work that had been brewing for months with the restructure hit boiling point. It was an incredibly challenging time – but I can honestly say that it was made somewhat easier working with and for such amazing people. I have many decades in my career ahead of me, and I am sure it won’t be the last major restructure that I have to stomach, but I’m thankful that my first experience with such significant organisational change was with such an incredible bunch of people.

I said farewell to more friends leaving PosyTown, but I also said hello to my very dear friend who was back visiting after two years living in the UK, so it wasn’t all bad.

I found out that I had won a job in Sydney! I received two job offers within days of each other (and came *this* close to a third), but with one permanent and one on a temporary contract, it was an easy(ish) choice with such a huge interstate move to make. Telling work and our family and friends that we were leaving was much harder than I had anticipated, but the opportunity really came at the right time for Mr Posy and me.

I took Niece Posy to the Royal PosyTown Show for an Aunty & Niece Day Out, and we had so much fun checking out the cows, goats, chickens, horses and fire trucks. Gosh I miss that kid. She and Nephew Posy are so sweet, and I miss them every single day. Fortunately they moved down to Melbourne with BIL and SIL, so they’re now only an hour flight away (instead of four!), but I do wish they were still only across the road.

Mr Posy and I took another trip to Sydney – this time for wedding prep (nothing like leaving dress shopping and the menu tasting to only a few months before the big day!), to meet a friend’s new baby, and to meet my new employer. It was a quick trip, but the weather was amazing, I got to spend time with some of my closest girlfriends, and it was exciting knowing that we would soon be calling Sydney “home”.

A few weeks later we took one last trip from PosyTown to Sydney, this time to find a place to live! We returned to PosyTown just in time to pack up our little life (which surprisingly filled a huge truck) and send it on its way to Harbour City.

The Final Quarter

Dream then do.

I think we managed to cram maybe a year’s worth of activity into the last few months of 2013.

I finished up in my position in a team where I had worked for the past four and a half years (with the same employer for six years), said our goodbyes to family and friends, and caught a one-way flight to Sydney. Moving to Sydney was a dream around ten years in the making, and it felt (and still feels) so surreal finally making it happen.

Our new life in Sydney kicked off on the right foot, when my beloved Roosters WON THE GRAND FINAL – and we were actually there to witness it. It was a nail-biting game, and I will never forget the moment when Jennings basically put his body on the line for an amazing try that turned the game back in our favour. A fellow female Roosters supporter in the seat in front of us turned to me – we stared at each other incredulously for a minute, before giving each other the biggest high-five. It still makes me tear up just thinking about it. I have been trying to brainwash telling my little Manly-supporting cousins (now 8 and 10) that they have been barracking for the wrong team for years – I may have rubbed in our victory when we finally caught up with them a couple of weeks ago…

We had a little under a week to unpack our home, before I started work – it was an adjustment going from a three-bedroom house with ample storage, to a two-bedroom terrace with only one built-in cupboard and a much smaller living space. While we had purged our lives of things we no longer needed when packing in PosyTown, we used the opportunity to further simplify our lives and rid ourselves of junk. It was incredibly cathartic.

After working for the same employer for the past six years, it was a little strange starting a new job. I’d managed to develop a nasty chest infection in the week between arriving in Sydney and starting work, so the first few weeks completely knocked me about. I am still adjusting to a less frenetic pace than I was used to in PosyTown (a pace which I secretly enjoyed), but the people are nice, so I can’t complain.

One of the highlights of 2013 for me was of course getting married, and also having all our family and friends in Sydney to celebrate in the lead-up to our wedding. Niece and Nephew Posy completely lost their minds when we picked them up from the airport, however I still can’t decide who was more excited over our little reunion – them or me. While the weather wasn’t amazing (torrential downpours, anyone?), we did manage to get in a daytrip to Taronga Zoo, and the rest of the time was spent at the Aquarium in Darling Harbour, eating out for breakfasts and dinners, walking around shopping centres like mall-rats, and of course gearing up for our wedding celebration. We had an amazing dinner with our bridal party and immediate family a couple of nights before the wedding – it was so nice to have everybody together before the madness started.

I will save the wedding post for another day, but we had a truly beautiful day that exceeded all our expectations and was more amazing than we could have ever imagined. Mr Posy and I felt so incredibly humbled to be surrounded by all our family and friends, many of whom travelled such a long way to be there. I don’t think  I will ever tire of looking at our photos and watching our wedding highlights video…

After not managing to catch a single one of the concerts that we’d planned during the first three quarters of the year, we finally squeezed a few in – Ricky Martin and Taylor Swift for me (both of which Mr Posy also surprisingly enjoyed; they put on a great show), and Muse for Mr Posy (and okay, partly for me also).

The time came to say farewell to my gorgeous friend (and beautiful bridesmaid) who returned to the UK for what sounds like another two years minimum. I’m just grateful for all the mix-ups with her visa paperwork which meant she was home for longer, and meant that she didn’t have to do a crazy flight back to Australia for the wedding, only to have to get on the plane back across the pond the very next day.

Mr Posy and I finally took our first real road trip, down the coast to spend Christmas with my grandparents. While it took us around six hours each way, it was such a nice drive – so nice that Mr Posy who has always been Mr Anti-Road Trips is now keen to take more of them – and it was the perfect trip away to recharge after such a crazy few months.

As it was our first “married” New Year’s Eve (and our first in Sydney), I soon found myself manically scouring the web for ideas of where we might go on the night to ensure we started 2014 with a bang. In the end, Mr Posy talked me down off the proverbial ledge, and we spent the evening eating dinner at home and watching movies. I managed to stay awake for the “family fireworks” (which I could just see from where I had positioned myself on the couch), but fell asleep barely ten minutes before the main event. It was the perfect way to start our first year of marriage, and our first year in Sydney – and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Epilogue

While this post is long overdue, I figure better late than never. I needed to write it – it’s important to me to look back and reflect on the year that was; to celebrate the good times and mourn the bad, to step back from it all and gain a little perspective, and to stop and really appreciate the people in my life and the moments I have with them.

I am still finding it a little difficult to really embrace 2014 (maybe I should have stayed awake for those midnight fireworks after all, ha!). I can’t decide if it’s because so much happened last year and I’m still processing it all, or if I simply don’t want to believe 2013 is over. It certainly was not always an easy year, but 2013 will forever be a special year for me, and one that I will treasure always.

I can’t wait to see where 2014 takes me.

Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

North Bondi

Aren’t summer holidays just the best? All these years, I’ve had no idea just how much I was missing out.

Three occasions aside (three – 2005: I spent a few days down with my Nan and Pop and the rest of the family as we hadn’t had a Christmas away since 1995; 2007: Mr Posy and I went to the US for Christmas; 2009: Mr Posy and I went to Sydney for a few days where it rained the whole time), I’ve always worked the period between Christmas and the New Year, instead choosing to go away in late January (closer to my birthday!). Back in PosyTown, it was usually a slower (and quite lonely) time in the office which meant that I was able to catch up on work (and filing, ugh) while the phones were quiet and there were fewer interruptions, so Mr Posy and I always chose to work through. I always felt a little jealous when my colleagues would come back to work in the new year looking and sounding refreshed and happy, while I was completely exhausted, but I had our trip away to look forward to.

Having recently started a new job down here in Harbour City and having just had two weeks off for our wedding in November, taking time off over Christmas hadn’t even crossed my mind – so I was very pleasantly surprised when I found out that our office shuts down for nearly a fortnight! I worked until just after midday on Christmas Eve, when Mr Posy drove into the city to pick me up, so that we could drive down the coast to spend Christmas with my grandparents. My colleagues had all warned me about horror traffic, so I was bracing myself for a very very long and tedious drive; however Mr Posy and I had the highway largely to ourselves. The drive is fairly spectacular; I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a thousand times – it really is God’s country down that way. 

God's country

It was so lovely to spend Christmas with my Nan and Pop, and spend a few days just recharging our batteries. Nan has the most amazing garden and it was so nice to just potter around checking out all the flowers in the morning or afternoon sun (however my Pop’s tomatoes have seen better days!) while chatting with the cows over the back fence. We would drive down to the beach in the mornings after breakfast, before heading back in time for lunch, after which we’d spend time reading or napping or driving around Tathra/Pambula/Merimbula/Eden with my grandies. We took a trip to the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre for milkshakes – I had been talking these up to Mr Posy for weeks and weeks. My shake wasn’t quite as good as I remember, but doesn’t everything taste better when you’re ten? Nan served dessert after every meal (we had fruit after breakfast), and I didn’t feel even a little bit guilty over the extra calories. Not once. Living so far away in PosyTown, I didn’t get to see my grandparents nearly as much as I would have liked over the years – I am so happy that we can spend time with them now. 

Summer holidays

The drive back up the coast was a little slower – I could have walked faster between Ulladulla and Milton – and we stopped in to visit my brother in Wollongong for lunch on our way past, as he wasn’t able to make it down to Nan and Pop’s. I really have to give Mr Posy kudos for listening to around 13 hours of Taylor Swift and Tina Arena (more Taylor than Tina), with me singing along, on our drive down and back.

Mr Posy and I had a quiet night for New Year’s Eve back in Sydney – I saw the family fireworks from our couch (I could just see them from where I was sitting, if we’d gone for a walk around the block we would have had a slightly better view), but I missed midnight by about ten minutes. I just couldn’t keep my eyes open a second longer.

We spent the last few days of my summer break just as we’d started – mornings at the beach, afternoons reading and napping. I did sneak in a High Tea date at The Langham with a girlfriend, as well as a lovely lunchdate with another friend.

The worst part of my summer holiday? Having to go back to work. I am not-so-secretly a little glad that the weather has turned – it is a little less depressing having to go into the office each day when it is rainy and miserable outside. I just hope it clears up in time for the weekend!

Bright Lights, Big City

Sydney

I still have to pinch myself daily.

Twelve weeks ago, a removalist van pulled up in our driveway back up in PosyTown and took away (almost) all our belongings. Two weeks later, we hopped on a one-way flight to Sydney.

Yes, this little Posy family finally moved to Harbour City.

It will come as no surprise that I love Sydney – I have always been quite vocal about my affection for this beautiful city. It is my happy place, a place that has always felt like home, and for the longest time I hoped that one day it would be.

We had been saying that we were moving for more years than I care to admit – it was always “next year, in six months time, at the end of the year, middle of next year, we’ve had to push it back again, we’ll get there soon, yes we are still moving” – but we are finally here. When an ex-colleague back at my work in PosyTown asked earlier in 2013 if I really thought we’d move this year, and whether I thought it would be before the wedding (which at the time was fast-approaching), I could barely contain my very defensive “YES!!!!” – however, at the time I wasn’t sure I really believed it any more than she did.

When I received the phone call letting me know that I was the successful applicant at the end of July for a job I had interviewed over the phone for, I was shocked. Mr Posy was far less surprised than I (love him and his unwavering support of/confidence in me and all that I do), but anxious. Telling our families was hard, there were tears. Telling work was harder, there were more tears. And there was support – so much support. Our family, friends, colleagues and bosses were all so wonderful and so supportive. Every time I would get nervous or scared or sad, my (then) boss would tell me I deserved this, that it was a new and exciting chapter of our lives, and to embrace it with open arms. She would tell me to give it my best shot, and that if I didn’t like it or it didn’t work out, I could always come back, that there would always be a place for me in PosyTown. I love her for that – for helping me keep things in perspective, for reminding me that moving to Sydney was what we wanted, for letting me know that it was okay to do something for us, that nobody would hold it against us, that our family and friends loved us.

Packing up your whole life and shifting interstate is no easy feat. We flew down two weekends before our moving date to inspect and apply for rentals, and we were very fortunate to secure a little terrace the day after we applied in a great location that would allow PosyDog and PosyKitty. This meant that we could take the remaining couple of days of our whirlwind trip a little easier, instead of sticking to the gruelling schedule of open-inspections that I had planned for us. We arrived back in PosyTown at 1.00am on the Monday morning, and our removalists arrived out 6.30am (we thought that one through well – we were still throwing things in and taping up boxes right before our flight to Sydney, as well as the morning that the removalists arrived). The house was packed up and we were back at work mid-morning.

We both worked right up until the day before our one-way flight. This is the one thing that I would have changed if I had my time again. We were working all day, then coming home and cleaning our place at night, leaving little time to spend with our family and friends before we left. We were still throwing clothes and shoes and other various belongings into our SIX suitcases the day of our flight (we’d had a late night at a Farewell BBQ our SIL threw for us the night prior), before and after brunch with our family. Somehow, we managed to make it to the airport that day, and with time to spare.

The farewells at the airport were hard. Mr Posy’s Ma cried. A lot. Saying goodbye to Niece and Nephew Posy was especially hard, and I cried a little right before boarding, but managed to pull myself together for a final wave, before crying a lot more on the plane. I was so happy to be catching our one-way flight down to Sydney, but I was sad to be leaving our loved ones behind.

Our arrival to Sydney was eventful. Our flight arrived at about 8.30pm on the night of a fireworks and pyrotechnics display as part of this little thing called the International Fleet Review. There were masses of people everywhere, streets were closed off, and our taxi driver decided he would leave us, our six large suitcases, three laptops, and two carry-on bags a little under a kilometre away from our hotel. I was emotionally and physically exhausted, and I had no idea how we were going to get all our gear to our hotel. I rang the concierge, nearly in tears explaining that we had just moved to Sydney, that we had so many bags, that our taxi driver had deserted us, and two amazing attendants came down to our rescue. I will be forever grateful. While it wasn’t so funny at the time, I can look back on it now and laugh – what a way to start our new adventure!

We’ve been here for a little over two months now (nearly three months!), and I am still completely exhausted. But happy. Oh so happy. We’ve been all unpacked for a little while, the furkids are all settled in, and our place feels like home, but we’ve only just managed to do a proper grocery shop, instead of just popping up to our local to buy what we needed day-to-day. I think I felt like we were just on this extended holiday, like we lived in a serviced apartment or something, that we’d have to go back to our old life in PosyTown any day, so we didn’t really bother buying groceries.

I still can’t believe we live here, but at the same time, I feel like we have lived here forever.

Furkids

Minnie Mouse cake pops

Speaking of baking and cake pops, Niece Posy recently turned three, and I thought it was as good a time as any to try my hand at Minnie Mouse cake pops (actually, making cake pops in general) for the themed birthday party that my SIL organised. As well as arranging an amazing cake, she also managed to track down Mickey and Minnie suits!

Minnie Mouse party

All the articles and blog posts that I read online suggested making the process as easy as possible, so I totally cheated and used cake packet mix and store-bought icing. The cake pops were quite time-consuming as it was, so I was all about shaving off a few minutes where I could. I made the cake on the Friday night, so that I’d have all of Saturday to get through the remaining steps of this Bakerella recipe, for the party on the Sunday. I was still up fairly late on the Saturday night finishing the cake pops off!

I managed to find this cute site with free Minnie Mouse printables, so while the cake was baking, I got busy with my printer, some scissors and sticky tape.

Cake mix

Crumble the cooled baked caked into a bowl and mix in a little icing at a time – you don’t want the mixture to be too squishy.

Cake pop balls

Roll a tablespoon of your mixture into cake balls, and place in the freezer to firm up (but don’t allow to freeze). You don’t want to roll these too tightly, or they’ll expand and crack once they’re out of the fridge.

Styrofoam

Melt Candy Melts in the microwave (as per packet instructions – don’t overheat, they do burn!); dip your cake pop stick into the candy melts (I didn’t bother adding any candy colouring) and insert into the cake ball (about 2/3 through). I then placed these back into the freezer for about fifteen minutes to firm up some more.

Place the cake pops in a block of styrofoam – then stick two ‘ears’ (I used Nestle Melts) to the cake balls using more of the melted candy. Stick these back into the freezer for about fifteen minutes, before moving to the fridge so they don’t freeze, because a certain little person wants to get stuck into the arts and crafts.

Melt more of the Candy Melts in the microwave, and very carefully dip (no twirling or the ears will come off!) or, using a spoon, pour the melted candy over the cake pop. Fashion a bow using pink hearts, and stick back into the freezer to firm up, before wrapping in a cellophane cake pop bag and tying with ribbon.

Ta-da!

Ready

I had more than enough Minnie Mouse cake pops, so also made some plain cake pops with sprinkles – these were much easier and far less time-consuming to assemble.

Cake pops

While the cake pops were fairly labour-intensive, the look on Niece Posy’s face when she saw the finished product made it all worth it. “AUNTY POSY! YOU MADE KICKEY MOUSE CAKES! FOR MEEEE!” 

Yes, my little bug. I made Kickey Mouse cakes, just for you.

Happy Birthday

Getting our bake on

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As a kid, we lived pretty remotely for a few years (so much so that I had to do school via correspondence), and during the summer holidays I would fly down (by myself! – so exciting when you’re 7!) to spend a week or two with my nan and pop. I have fond memories of my visits with my grandparents – their house has always felt like home. Other than my younger brother (who was way too young to come along, being five years younger than me), I am the eldest grandchild on my dad’s side by more than ten years, so growing up I had a lot of one-on-one time with my grandparents, and I really treasure the time I spent with them.

Pop and I would play game after game of Draughts (I can count on one hand the number of times I actually beat him, he’s not one of those people that will just let you win!), and he would take me to the golf course so that I could drive the golf carts, to swimming lessons at the local pool, to the pond down the road to feed the ducks and swans, to the cheese-making factory for milkshakes… I would read books, witness new calves born over the back fence, hang out with the girl my age next door, play ping-pong in the rumpus room, and listen to stories about my dad as a kid that Nan and Pop would tell me over meals.

One of the best parts of my visits was when my dad’s youngest sister came to stay while she was on university holidays. My Aunt B would take me along when catching up with her friends – we’d hang out in a cafe, or spend all day at the beach; I couldn’t wait to be a grown-up like my aunt, I adored (and still adore) her. Best of all, she would bake with me. I love water, I love swimming, and I love the beach, but my favourite memories with my Aunt B are dreary days stuck in the house spent baking in Nan’s kitchen. I don’t know if it was the only recipe she knew, or if it was just her favourite treat, but we baked a lot of butterfly cakes over the years.

Me and Aunt B

I know that we won’t always live across the road from Mr Posy’s brother (and ergo, Niece and Nephew Posy), so I try to make the most of this time while I can. Just as I loved making butterfly cakes with my aunt, Niece Posy loves to come over and spend the afternoon baking – and she really loves when our baking involves berries.

The recipe for raspberry and coconut muffins (well, cupcakes…) on the Taste website is one of our favourites.

Ingredients

Missing from picture: baking powder and milk; we used melted butter instead of oil (excuse the toddler feet…).

Dry ingredients

1. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl, add sugar and coconut.

Eggs, milk and butter

2. In a small large bowl (to prevent toddler-stirring-splashback), whisk eggs, milk and melted butter.

Mix Ingredients

3. Mix egg/milk/butter into flour mixture until just combined; fold in raspberries.

Oven ready

4. Prepare cupcake cases (should have done this first, whoops!), and carefully spoon mixture into cases. This takes an exceptionally long time when you’re two/three years old, so allow time accordingly.

Snack time

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes; allow to cool slightly, and indulge while watching Ramona and Beezus/Peppa Pig/Angelina Ballerina/Enchanted (whichever takes your fancy).

Niece Posy is a very proficient helper in the kitchen – together we’ve made an assortment of cakes, cupcakes, muffins, brownies, ANZAC Biscuits, and even cake pops. She is also very good with salads (broad bean, chorizo & feta, mmm), and she loves to supervise when we make pasta dishes. Next time we bake, I think butterfly cakes are in order… Now that I think about it, I can’t believe we haven’t yet made them!

The Year the World Didn’t End: My 2012 Recap

If I could describe 2012 in one word, it would be … hectic.

Given I’m not one for stopping at just one word when describing something, I’d say it was also tiring. And demanding.

2012 may have been busy, but it was always pretty darn remarkable. I grew more than I realised possible in a very short timeframe – it was a year of pushing my boundaries and venturing outside my comfort zone.

Celebrations in Sydney

Sydney

We started 2012 with a trip to Sydney – to celebrate my Nan and Pop’s 50th wedding anniversary, and also for the baptism and 1st birthday of a dear friend’s very special little boy. We spent two weeks in Sydney in January, and had a glorious time. I wish I could bottle the love, laughter, warmth, excitement, and happiness that filled the rooms for each of the celebrations – it’s the stuff that makes your heart feel so full it might burst.

I wrote a 30 by 30 list

When I first started thinking about what I wanted to achieve over the next few years, I thought my list would be short – get married, move to Sydney, finish a half marathon. It wasn’t until I really started to think about it, and put pen to paper that I realised that my list was long. Very long. Much longer than what made the final cut, but I figure I can only achieve so much in the next few years. What comes after that, time will tell.

I chopped off my hair

It might not seem like a big deal, but for me, it was averybigdeal. I felt such an overwhelming sense of relief, and like I had just shed years and years of unwanted thoughts and emotion. It wasn’t just a hair cut, it was somewhat of a spiritual cleansing. Or an exorcism.

I took up a new sport

When a work colleague asked if I would join her beach volleyball team (indoor), with people that I didn’t know, my internal reaction was a resounding “hell no”.  The words that came out of my mouth were another story, however – “Sure! I’d love to!”. Funnily enough, I’ve had a lot of fun, and I’ve made new friends. I am not the most skillful player, but I am getting there. I can hit the ball, so I figure that’s a good start. It has also been strangely cathartic, belting that ball back over the net, particularly after a bad day in the office.

Another Sydney trip

From Nan's kitchen

June saw us take another trip to Sydney, and then down to the Sapphire Coast (it truly is God’s country), for another special occasion – my grandfather’s 80th birthday. It was so nice spending time with all my family, and for Mr Posy to visit my Nan and Pop’s house for the first time. It is the place that has always felt most like home. I could stare out Nan’s kitchen window all day.

Mr Posy

We also managed to squeeze in a brief stopover in Canberra – Mr Posy’s first trip to our nation’s capital.

More family festivities

Melbourne

This time, the celebrations were for Mr Posy’s family – we flew to Melbourne to celebrate Nephew Posy’s baptism (in the same church Niece Posy was baptised, and my brother-in-law was married).

I never really understood people who went on holidays with their family, but after all the family holidays we’ve had over the past couple of years, I finally get it.

We celebrated our ten year anniversary

Mr Posy and I celebrated a milestone anniversary this year – a decade together. Ten years! It really doesn’t feel like ten years. Gosh we’ve had some seriously amazing adventures together – I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us.

I finished studying

It was about bloody time. I’d had a semester off here and there (for Mum’s cancer etc), but it was still such a bloody long slog. Two degrees later, and I’m done. Only, I’m not – I’ve been browsing course catalogues, and it’s taking every ounce of rational thought that I have not to enrol in another course. At least, not just now. I’ll give myself a study break in 2013, but I can’t promise the same for 2014.

Work was crazy

No, really. It was C-R-A-Z-Y. Sometimes good-crazy and sometimes bad-crazy, but always one hell of a ride. I have grown and learnt a lot this year, and I’m very fortunate to work with such amazing people.

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Looking back, it is pretty clear that family and festivities were the overall themes for me in 2012. I am surrounded by such wonderful family and friends, both near and far, and I feel so blessed to be so lucky.

I was sad to see the end of 2012. There were days of pain and sadness, and days where tears were shed, but I wasn’t ready for this year to end – on the whole it was a good year. It was a huge year.

2013 will be another big year for Mr Posy and I, starting with a trip to Sydney later this month – for a special little boy’s 2nd birthday!

2012, it’s been grand. 2013, please be kind.

Four Christmases

Wreath

I’m not really sure why, but I always feel a deep sadness on Christmas Day. Perhaps it’s knowing that it will soon be over for another year, or having unrealistic expectations of what Christmas should be like, or maybe it’s just the general stress of the holiday season and the amplification of family dysfunction getting the better of me.

Whatever it is, I was not looking forward to running the gauntlet of Four Christmases (sounds something like a cheesy Hollywood film, doesn’t it…) this year on Christmas Day.

Swimming pool

I woke early so that I could get a swim in before the festivities started. An early morning Christmas swim has become somewhat of a tradition for me – the solitude of the pool and the repetitive meditative nature of the strokes through the water calms my mind, and I feel less guilt over all the calories that I know I am about to imbibe.

The exchange of gifts between Mr Posy, the furkids and I was left until quite late this Christmas morning – there was beetroot to be roasted, chorizo to be fried and broad beans to be shelled for salads, and presents for Mr Posy’s folks to be wrapped.

PosyDog

As a small child, I would poke holes in the wrapping paper of my gifts under the tree, too excited and impatient to wait until Christmas. Now that I’m older, I never want to unwrap my gifts. It means Christmas will soon be over. I try to delay the unwrapping as long as possible (in fact, I still have one gift left to unwrap…). PosyDog does not feel the same, and let us know as such throughout the morning. When she was finally allowed to open her gift, she ripped into it, eager to play with her new toy.

Mr Posy / PosyDog / Miss Posy & Niece Posy

Soon after presents, and a video-call with my brother who is holidaying interstate with his girlfriend, it was on to our first stop of the day: lunch with Mr Posy’s family.

Niece Posy has grown so much since last year. “Merry Christmas!” she would shout over and over, while pointing at the presents under the tree. “I won!” she would yell, as she cracked bonbons with Mr Posy, her Papou, her Yiayia.

I wanted to squish her little cheeks when she unwrapped the books that we bought for her, refusing to open other gifts, instead wanting to read.

The poor kid was over it all after a couple of hours. My favourite part of this Christmas was Niece Posy curling up in my lap, because she was tired and wanted a cuddle. Nephew Posy had no idea about what was going on around him, and kept himself amused in a pile of discarded wrapping paper and ribbon.

Next stop: a half hour drive out to visit my dad and his partner in their new house. Too full from lunch, we exchanged gifts over cold beverages and took a tour of their property. An hour flew by pretty quickly, and then it was time to get back on the road and on to our third stop: Mum’s house.

The plan for Christmas with Mum was afternoon tea, but it was too hot and humid, so we skipped the coffee and gorged on chocolate brownies instead.

Mum and Dad only split a few years ago – this was the first year that we saw them separately for Christmas, and I have to say, it was a bit of an adjustment. It was pretty weird. And kind of awkward, made more so because Mum didn’t want to celebrate Christmas. I’d like to think that it is something that will get easier with time, but right now the thought of spending future Christmases out of the country is very appealing…

Swimming pool

Our fourth and final stop was back with Mr Posy’s family – his sister-in-law’s family were up from Melbourne, so we spent dinner with them. Niece and Nephew Posy had each had a three hour nap, and were back in fine form entertaining the extended family with their antics, and having a splash in the pool. Mr Posy and I later sat outside with his brother, our feet in the pool, watching the boats in the marina.

By the time we arrived home late that evening, I was exhausted. The overwhelming sense of sadness had mostly dissipated (as it often does by the time I’m back home all tucked up in my bed), and I was ready for our annual screening of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (the ultimate in family dysfunction); another Christmas tradition.

And so Christmas is well and truly over for another year. The post-Christmas ennui hit hard on Wednesday, soon after I left the madness known as the Boxing Day Sales, and even harder yesterday when it was time to return to work.

Perhaps by the time 2013 rolls around PosyKitty might have forgiven me for making her wear a polyester shirt.

PosyKitty

Birthday Hoopla

November through December is a very busy festive time in the Posy household. Along with the usual Christmas Eve / Christmas Day / New Year’s Eve celebrations, we have Mr Posy’s Name Day, Mr Posy’s brother’s Name Day, my father-in-law’s Name Day, Nephew Posy’s Name Day, Niece Posy’s Name Day, and Mr Posy’s birthday.

This week we celebrated Mr Posy’s birthday. With pizza. And chocolate cake. And hula-hooping. As you do on your thirty-fifth birthday!

Birthday Hoopla

Niece Posy was very insistent that she was helping her theios (uncle) blow out his birthday candles… and what a great helper she was, with Nephew Posy along for the ride. Birthdays are so much more fun with our niece and nephew.

Happy Birthday, Mr Posy!

Birthday card