Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hiding on the Pier, Laughing with Sardines.

I went to the market the other day and spotted fresh sardines. It had been years since I'd had them freshly cooked instead of eaten from a tin, adorning my morning toast.

I have a romance with food. It takes me places. Even on my travels my greatest memories are inextricably linked around food. Gelato and chianti in Roma. Baguettes, Nutella crepes and bowls of hot chocolate in Paris. The juiciest nectarines I'd ever had in my life from Barcelona. And sardines in Greece.

Cooking takes me back to these places, and buying fresh ingredients from a market is cheaper than an airfare.

Today for lunch I cooked the sardines. It reminded me of my childhood, visiting my grandparents. As Greek immigrants they'd operated a popular fish'n'chips shop in South Melbourne in the 1960s. At home they would always be cooking up fish, the pair of them dancing away at the frying pans filled with whitebait and sardines. It reminded them of their seaside life in the land they'd left behind.

My beloved Grandmother, affectionately known as Mitsa, passed away just over a month ago, at the stunning age of 92. Today I paid homage to her in my kitchen as I scaled the plump little fish, chopped off their heads and slid my two thumbs down the lines of their stomach, ripping their little guts out. I'm sure Yiayia would have been proud.

(Although, I wish I'd worn gloves. After gutting 1 kg of fish, I washed my hands with soap 3 times, slathered on antibacterial hand sanitizer, layered on lavender handcream and rinsed them in lemon juice and THEY STILL STINK!).

I lightly floured them and popped them in a pan to fry in olive oil for a couple of minutes each side until golden and, voila! Lunch is served!

Which reminded me also of the time I found myself hiding out on a pier, laughing in the company of sardines. Intrigued? Read on...

You may have heard the story of how I met my husband? I was on holiday in Greece, we met at a bachelor party? Not familiar with this romance? You can read it here.
Anyway, after a whirlwind romance, I said goodbye to my life in Australia and hello to new beginnings in a seaside town in northern Greece. For 2 years my darling and I ran a tavern by the sea. Think fried calamari, grilled octopus, saganaki cheese, chargrilled prawns, mussels poached with fresh tomato and feta cheese, fried zucchini chips, tzatziki, roasted eggplant, souvlaki skewers, I was cooking it all, baby!
By the end of our 2nd year in the tavern, tragedy struck with the loss of my father-in-law. It saw us sell the business so we could help out my mother-in-law.

Things in Greece were starting to get tough economically. Work was sparse and what was available didn't pay very well. My husband was approached to manage a restaurant at a nearby resort while I found  a job as a kitchen hand with my sister-in-law at a local beachside tavern. My wages were 18 euros a day for shifts that could last up to 10 hours. Slim pickings but these were desperate times.

My time there was joyfilled, surrounded by woman from various backgrounds. Aside from my sister-in-law, there was Georgia from the country of Georgia, a big bulky woman with short blonde hair, and Peppa, a motherly little lady with brigh red hair and blue eye-liner. She was from Bulgaria. She looked so much like Mrs Garrett from the TV show 'Facts of Life'.

Mrs Garrett from the 'Facts of Life'
Peppa had hands that must have been made of iron. When it was time to change the oil, she would grab the searing hot frying pan, lunge it into the sink and wash it while it must have been a million degrees. "Peppa!", I'd exclaim, horrified, "How can you do that? You'll burn yourself!" She'd laugh, exposing her teeth with gold fillings."Peppa, strong! Best way to clean pan is when hot! See?!" And she was right. The muck would just slide right off.

One afternoon, the tavern's phone rang. It was another restaurant warning the owner that inspectors were in the area checking for illegal workers. Everyone that wasn't on the books or insured by the restaurant owner had to flee until the inspectors left the area. I wasn't an illegal immigrant like Georgia or Peppa, as I had dual citizenship, but I wasn't on the proprietor's books so he wouldn't have to pay me insurance.

So there I was. Hiding out on a pier like a fugitive, among the bobbing little boats and sunkissed, stubbly fishermen. Peppa, with her radiant auburn bouffant, had smuggled out cucumbers and was offering them around. Georgia was puffing away on cigarettes and flirting with the fishermen. 
And me? I was dazzled by pools of shimmering sardines, golden flecks beaming in the sunlight, the situation was comedic. Crunching on a cucumber I laughed joyously to myself, "Only in Greece......".

Have you ever worked overseas? Any crazy stories to share?
Do you love sardines? How do you like to eat them?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Shooting for the Stars and Following Through

A new year has begun and I'm relishing in its newness, and in its possibilities.
I know the reality is that life is just one day, followed by another, followed by another, followed by another. Minutes become hours. Hours become days. Days become weeks. Week turn into months and months become years. Sometimes the days go quick. Sometimes they drag on. Some days meld into each other and you have no idea what day of the week it is. Fridays have a feeling. Sundays have a feeling. Mondays definitely have a feeling. What feeling does today have?

It is school holidays and my husband has just taken our girls to the park for a couple of hours. It dawned on me that for the past 32 days of school holidays this was the first time that I was actually home ALONE. A selfish delight welled up inside of me. What to do with this precious time? Laze about? De-clutter? Laundry? Read a book? Cook? Dance about my kitchen and sing along with Elvis?
What to do with THIS day?

The possibilities flustered me. Decision-making is not one of my fortés. My brain filters decisions in this order: other people's happiness first, then mine. I have wasted a lot of precious brain activity going through the pros and cons of a decision so that I come up with a win-win for everybody. It's exhausting having my brain sometimes.

I am essentially a people-pleaser. And pleasing people that I love genuinely makes me happy. Sometimes I feel that it's what I live for. But it's futile if you don't put that same love and energy towards pleasing yourself too.

And so, to put some sort of order and meaning into my life, I have come up with my Intention for this new year. I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions. I have always been disappointed by them. So instead I would like to live my life with Intention.
My intention, especially this year, is to Follow Through.

There are so many little projects and dreams I have been wanting to do. Some I attempt, but through disorganization and distractions they are left in utter disarray. Books left unfinshed. Attempts at jewellery making. Recipes ripped out of magazines. Places I'd like to visit. People I'd like to see. Things I'd like to do. Things I SHOULD do.

Often I think I don't have enough time, but really, that's just my lazy excuse. I need to be smarter with with my time. To sort out the chaos that runs through my mind, which usually is reflected by the state of my house, I have come up with some mantras to keep me focussed. Whether it is an action or an object, I will ask myself this:

What PURPOSE does this fulfil in my life?
It has to make life BETTER in some way.

Where does this BELONG?
This is to help me de-clutter. Everything should have a purpose, a function, a use. If it deserves a place in my home and my life, there has to be a dedicated space for it. If there's no purpose, it has to go.

What GOOD shall I do next?
This I interpret in many ways. It could be an altruistic gesture like visiting my grandmother to brighten up her day. It could be tackling one of those chores you've been putting off but once you've done it the result make you happy. An action that brings you satisfaction and joy.

And so, as I type, it suddenly dawned on me that a decision had been made. I chose to write. I wanted to re-ignite my passion for this little blogging space and I followed through, distracted, fuddled mind and all. The sound of keys in the door. Giggling girls carrying chocolate milkshakes followed by their smiling father bound in.

"Did you have some nice 'Mummy Time', mummy?", they ask.
"Yes, darlings. I sure did" I reply, arms out for hugs.

Mamma made a decision today.
Mamma followed through.
Mamma feels Good.

Did you make a New Year's Resolution this year?
What is your Intention?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Serendipitous Sign Indeed

Image credit

Today, after dropping my 3 girls off at school, my feet decided they did not want to return home. Well, not straight away, at least. What was waiting for me at Casa de Whoa Mamma (dirty dishes, dirty laundry, sticky floors and smudged windows) could wait a little longer.

The sun was shining, warming my back as my black pointy-toed flats led the way. I wasn't sure where I was heading. I was wandering. Meandering. Destination unkown.

I love walking. I can (and often do) walk for hours. While I walk, I get lost in thoughts. I problem solve. I daydream. It relaxes me.

I walked through the park, friendly dogs approaching me, trying to lick my ankles. Birds frolicked in the trees. Joggers raced on by, followed by a whizz of cyclists. Calmness, serenity. I smiled at a group of elderly ladies all dolled up in their hot pink tennis outfits with matching hot pink lipstick shuffling off to their tennis club. 'I hope I'm that awesome when I'm 80', I thought to myself.

My feet felt the urge to turn left, so I followed. Meandering through the back streets and cobbled laneways of my neighbourhood. It's funny how you can spend your whole time growing up in a neighbourhood and yet discover streets that you never new existed.

This was my excitement for the day. The thrill of discovery. The thrill of exploring. I 'ooooohed' and 'aaaaaahed' over pretty little cottages with their pretty little gardens. Strangers walked by and we'd smile and say 'Hello'. I know we teach our children never to talk to strangers but it is always nice to share a smile and extend a bright and cheery 'hello'. It's good for the soul, I say.

The highlight of my walk was when I came across a house that featured a glorious cursive metal sign featuring two simple words: 'Hello, Beautiful'. What an impact it had. It stopped me in my tracks and filled me with delight. It actually made me feel beautiful. 'Aw, shucks. Thank you, House. What a lovely thing for you to say'.

I took a photo and posted it on instagram. One of my followers recognized the house as belonging to a friend of hers. I commented that her friend has a gorgeous house and must be a gorgeous person to feature a sign like that for all to see. She replied that her friend just likes to make people smile.

The world needs more friends like that, don't you think?

Do you ever wander or meander?
Where do you like to go to get lost in your thoughts?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Phoenix Rising

It has been a while since my last blog post. A long, long while.
'What happened to your blog?', they asked.
'Why have you stopped writing?', they queried.
I don't know.
Something inside me quietened and sought shelter deep within my soul.
I'm not sure exactly why, but suddenly I felt vulnerable and exposed.
I was sharing a lot about my life and my family and, although I very much enjoyed doing it, I suddenly felt the need to retreat.

A shy gal, such that I am, needs a bit of quiet time now and then.

My thoughts and my dreams hibernated in their safe place, swirling around with my list of Must-Do's. Sometimes it was quite chaotic in that little mind of mine. The clashing of Wants vs Needs. I needed the quiet time to re-evaluate my priorities and to put things into perspective. The past few months have seen me earnestly dedicating my time to my husband and children, creating beautiful moments with them, while my caterpillar-like soul snuggled in her cocoon.

I've had my rest and now I'm ready. The cocoon served its purpose. This butterfly is ready to spread her creative wings and take flight.

So many ideas are fluttering about in my head. So many possibilities. So many paths I could take. It's a little bit scary, you know? Unleashing your creative spirit. Especially since I've been holding it back for so long. It's like a wild, black stallion on a stampede. Dangerous and exhilirating. But I'm ready for the ride. Giddy-up!

Have you been holding back your creative urges?
What is your  soul crying out for? Are you ready to listen to it?
What's holding you back?
GO FOR IT!!!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

ANZAC Deliciousness!

 Do you know the story behind one of Australia's most loved biscuits?

As most Australians & New Zealanders would know, the iconic ANZAC biscuit was developed by the women (wives, mothers, sweethearts) left behind by the Australian and New Zealander soldiers (ANZACs) when the armies set off for battle at the beginning of the first World War . These women wanted to send sweets to their loved ones, a little treat from home, but they needed something that would keep well on the journey.

And so, with a mixture of rolled oats, dessicated coconut, and golden syrup as the signature traits, the humble ANZAC biscuit was born. They were usually packed lovingly in tins, a message of love and courage tucked away inside, sent with a prayer that these sweet, nourishing biscuits would reach these embattled soldiers, hopefully alive and as well as could possibly be expected.

The other week, ALDI Australia had kindly invited me to visit the The Modern Baking Co, a fabulous bakery that produces their wonderful ANZAC biscuits. I was so excited at  the invitation because:
          a) I'm a real baking afficionado
          b) I was always fascinated by the history & tradition of the ANZAC biscuit
          c) I could leave domestic drudgery behind for an afternoon
          d) and (of course), COOKIES!!!!!.

I was greeted by my lovely host Erin who took me on a tour of the bakery. The scent was delicious!

Look at the size of those ovens!!!

I skipped my gypsy earrings and leopard stilletos  and traded them in for sensible shoes, a slicked back mamma bun, tres chic blue hairnet and glamazon fluorescent orange overcoat to venture onto the bakery floor to see where the magic happens!

Factory floor chicness! 

One of the magic ingredients, rolled oats! Tonnes of!
Welcome to cookie heaven!

The coconutty, golden syrupy, oaty batter goodness is dolloped out
like little soldiers marching in lines. 

On their way to get baked! 

Plaque on the oven dedicated to former RSL President, Bruce Ruxton
Did you know that 4% from the proceeds of sales of ANZAC biscuits are donated to support the wonderful community work of the RSL (The Returned and Services League)? This initiative was started by former RSL President, the late Bruce Ruxton in the 1990's.

The lovely staff at The Modern Baking Co pack, pack, packing the ANZAC goodness.

Millions of ANZACS packed and ready to be eaten! 

 Which brings me to the extra special commemorative tins....


ALDI Australia, in collaboration with The Modern Baking Co, has created an exclusive, limited edition Unibic ANZAC Biscuit tin, commemorating 100 years since the start of World War 1.
The tin, entitled “The Ancient Tombs of Giza”, honours the nearly 20,000 Australian servicemen and 300 members of the Australian Army Nursing Service who left for training camps in Egypt in 1914.
Endorsed by the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL), the limited edition “The Ancient Tombs of Giza” and “The Victoria Cross” Unibic ANZAC Biscuit tins are available now across ALDI stores nationally for $9.99, until stocks last.

ALDI 100 Year Commemorative Tin
"The Ancient Tombs of Giza'' (1914-2014)

ALDI ANZAC Biscuit Commemorative Tin
"The Victoria Cross"
 Whether you're looking forward to dipping into a cup of tea, or making it into a sandwich with Nutella (highly recommend!) don't forget to pop into ALDI this week to pick up an extra special commemorative tin. A percentage of proceeds from each sale will be donated by ALDI Australia  to benefit the wonderful work of the RSL. On top of that, ALDI Australia will also be donating an extra $20,000 to the RSL to provide welfare assistance to members and their families. Very generous indeed!

***** GIVEAWAY!!!!! *****

ALDI Australia would like to offer 5 of my readers a special ANZAC treat.
I have 5 gift packs of of the Exclusive ALDI ANZAC tins to give away!
(That's a delicious amount of ANZACS, enough to share with the rest of the family!)

To enter, all I want to know is:

"What is your favourite way to eat an ANZAC biscuit?"
So easy!!!

Leave your answer in the comments below!
Entries close 6pm, Friday 25th April 2104 (Melbourne Time)
*Sorry, giveaway only open to Australian residents xxx

*This is not a sponsored post. 
*I was gifted (and tempted by) super yummy cookies in order to help ALDI Australia raise awareness and funds for their ANZAC/RSL fundraising campaign

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I'm Still Here! : Kinda, Sort of...

Well, hey there!

How nice of you to stop by!

I'm still here, (well....kind of, sort of...)

My mind is taking a bit of a bloggy break, of the mental health kind.

Time for a bit of Mamma Time Out.

I'm hoping to get my writing mojo back soon.

Very soon.

I hope you'll be back to read my shenanigans.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

It means so much that you still think of me.

I'm still avoiding domestic drudgery by hanging out in Facebook Land.

If you want to join in the fun, you can find me there, at

Thanks so much for popping in!

Did I tell you that you look lovely today?

Well, you do.

Just thought you should know...

Sending big, bright shimmery love your way,

♥ Jess


Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Blank Page


My mind has gone blank.

So much to say and share but my voice is quietly protesting.


The cursor just blinks patiently as I open up the laptop, wanting to write but nothing comes out.

Is my voice shy? Tired? Bored? Protesting against frivolity?

Maybe she needed a bit of time out?

A holiday away from Whoa Mamma Land?

Maybe my voice said: "Ssh! Listen. You hear that? That's the sound of your family needing your presence, the greatest gift you can ever give them. Stop checking in on Facebook before kissing them good morning. Stop trying to take the perfect pic to post on Instagram and just ENJOY the moment. It will never come again".

Oh, the irony!

When life is in a frenzy, that's when my voice is the loudest. I would blog on the run,  while cooking dinner, I'd wake in the middle of the night. Whenever the inspiration would hit, I'd take a 'Mamma Time Out' and charge at the laptop.

Now, life is quieter, things are falling into place. There is a contentness and a serenity to the rhythm of my life, which is wonderful, but also scary, in a way.

The New Year is fast approaching. It will bring about great life changes.

An exciting new business venture for darling Le Husband; opening a restaurant! Hurrah!

The New Year will also see my baby girl joining her bigger sisters and heading off to school.

I often jokingly rub my hands with glee when speaking about my baby going to school.
But the truth is, I'm sad.
It's the end of an era.

For years (6.8 to be exact) I have pondered what it would be like to have all 3 kids at school.
To have FREE TIME.
It's been so long, I don't know what to do with it.

Return to work? What work? Panic sets in when I think about it.

Something I've been yearning for for so long, but it's terrifying me.

You see, I need a purpose.

My last 6.8 years have been dedicated to staying home and raising my children.
That was my choice, that gave me a sense of purpose.
Now, there is a slot of time that I can Dedicate To Me and I'm panicking.

What to do with this precious time?
Work, study, relax, clean, volunteer, work from home?
Sometimes I feel I need to validate my time. Crazy, yes? No?
I don't know where to start.
I'm going blank.

I've loved being a Stay At Home Mamma (well, not every minute of it, to be quite honest, but every other minute). It's become such a great big part of who I am, that sometimes I'm not sure who I am without it.

Can I still be a Stay At Home Mamma even when the kids are at school?

The new era is a Blank Page and the cursor is patiently blinking.

The Blank Page is Me.

What am I going to write on that page? 
I'm the author and the editor. 
The main character, the star of my show. 

I'd rather fill that page (and my life) with inspirational triumphs over tragedies, panty-wetting laughter over self-indulgent tears, and swoonworthy/butterflies-in-tummy romance over not-worth-wasting-my-breath drama. I want to fill that page with adventures and engage with wonderfully inspiring and creative characters that add colour and passion to my life. 

I want to turn that Blank Page into such an engrossing novel that I just never want to put it down.

Well... I guess my voice had something to say afterall...

P.S What do you think of this ending:

"And she lived Happily Ever After"

What do you do when your voice goes quiet?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...