Saturday, 17 November 2012

No Time Like The Present

When I contemplate how it is that I have ended up as a new Mum on a farm at the end of a dirt road with my crazy life amongst my family, the dogs, chickens, cows and horses and the unforgiving elements, I compare it to how busy I always was when I was working. In fashion retail you are always looking at least two seasons ahead, so it was sometimes hard to focus on the here and now. I always felt stressed and anxiety ridden. I was constantly on the go and forever scrambling to catch up with myself. 

Here on our property amongst the flora, fauna and the natural landscape, everything just takes a more simple, organic and much quieter course. Time really slows down in the country and instead of racing from appointment to office to stores and travelling overseas up to four times a year for buying, my days are now punctuated by our son's naps, cooking, washing and endless walks through the paddocks with him and our dogs. Some days I am feeding him in his high chair and as I gaze out the window at our Arcadia with the cows and horses casually grazing in the 100 degree scorching heat, all I want to do is scream. I have resisted and been dragged kicking, so as not to slip into the seemingly borderline banal passing of time - until I recently realised that this is my chapter to learn to be in the present moment. To just breathe, as the breath is the only thing that connects us to the present. I say this as I take shallow breaths from my upper chest. 

Having a child also forces you to get down to the basics and just drop back the pace a little. When I am cursing my monotonous days of washing and cleaning up and feeding the kid and animals, alone and isolated whilst my partner is at work, I try to remind myself that had I not moved to our property, but had kept on with my career in Sydney, I would never have had the opportunity to really strip back to live a much quieter existence and learnt to let go of a lot of things that really don't matter. Having said that, I still fantasise about being in a photo shoot feeding the chickens, wearing my Hunter Wellington Boots and my Nina Ricci ostrich feather sweater - aka. the one worn by Carrie in Sex And the City. So when I beat myself up for not getting to my yoga classes - only a picnic and a thermos away - I figure that I shouldn't be so hard on myself and that this is my yoga - be like Buddha and just live in the now. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Ellie's Fail-Proof Chocolate Sponge Cake

It was our Son’s first birthday a couple of weeks ago and we had a party for 50 of our nearest and dearest. Not confident enough in my cake baking skills I ordered a dinosaur themed cake and cupcakes from My Little Cupcake.

We had an intimate party a few days before with the Grandmas, and I was determined to try at least to bake a cake for his first birthday. My partner loves a chocolate sponge cake, and as it’s all about him, I thought I would give it a go. I can bake cupcakes and muffins and cookies, however my forte has never been a cake. I tried a Chocolate Sponge from a recipe I found online. The result was so bad that even the horses wouldn't eat it. I didn't want to resort to packet mix so I asked my partner’s Mum. She gave me this one from her neighbors Nana, Ellie. I didn’t end up serving mine, but this is a good and easy recipe, and edible even made by a novice like me. Apparently packet mix is the way to go and it is all about the icing. 

2 cups self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon bicarb of soda
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large or 2 small eggs
1/3 cup soft butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients into large bowl. Add sugar, butter, milk, vanilla and beat on low speed for 2 minutes. 

Bake in preheated oven 180 degrees C for 25-30 minutes.