Friday, September 24, 2021

Living well in challenging times #1




Hello you.

How are you? How are you really? How's life travelling in your home? 

Are you all living well?

And what is that anyway? What does 'living well' look like when we are still a motley crew dealing with a Pandemic?

Two years ago, if you asked many folks, what they need to live well, they might rattle off a list like, a fancy home with a view, European car, nice clothes, easy access to restaurants, and so forth.

More recently, thanks to pandemic life, living well, has come to mean simpler things. Things like spending time with loved ones, being involved in significant life events, and learning how to get along with others in less than ideal circumstances are common themes.

If you do an internet search on 'living well in challenging times', you get a heap of stuff about mental health, and the psychology of living in challenging times. Very necessary information, no doubt. Stuff that I am not qualified to deal with.

There's a wealth of information on stocking up, and growing food, and being more self-sufficient. That's very useful too. I could go there, but others like some of the ladies blogs you'll see in the column here to your right, others are better at that than I am.

Sadly, nobody is addressing the practicalities of 24/7 life together, and how to just make day to day tasks and routines easier.

To live well, I believe, is far different to living 'luxuriously'.

The next several blog posts will address what I believe, are essential to living well in both good times and less good times. 

First of all, no human being, can live well, if their basic needs are not being met. For most of us, shelter comes first. We cannot even begin to contemplate other higher needs, until this need is met. If your 'shelter', or in other words, where you live, and with whom you live to feel safe, is threatened, you are going to have a heck of a time fulfilling other needs.

What does that mean to you? 

Does it mean trying to maintain a mortgage on a home, on what is now a limited income? 

Is your 'shelter' under threat due to lockdowns, downturn in your income, or other circumstances beyond your control? 

Do you feel unsafe where you live, either financially, physically or emotionally, due to the pressures of continued effects of a pandemic?

These are serious issues, that need to be dealt with by professionals. Organisations such as Lifeline, The Salvation Army, and Beyond Blue, and Homelessness Australia (or your local equivalent), may be able to help you. Please, please, do not hesitate to contact them if you require assistance.

On the other hand, if it's just day to day routines and getting stuff done, and making life a bit easier, then I CAN help. That's something that I AM good at.

Are you with me?

Today, I want you to do one thing.

Find a quiet corner, or a noisy one and pop in your earbuds, if that's the best you can manage at the moment.

Now....

List three things that you do well. It can be anything. Anything at all. Maybe you give great hugs. Perhaps your choc chip cookies get rave reviews. It could be that you are the glue holding your family together just now. It just might be that you are the Calm in everyone elses Storm.

Then....

List three things that are bothering you. Again it could be anything. Is it being out of routine? Is it just the fear that 'things may never be the same'? Is it that you feel like you spend all your time 'doing' for others, but no-one is 'doing' for you?

Action plan....

Now, this weekend, DO and BE the three things at which you are most accomplished. Give hugs freely. Bake choc chip cookies, be The Glue and The Calm. GIVE freely. Soak up the good in life that comes with giving. It's all there for you.

And then, make sure you RECEIVE. Ask for help and support. Have a family meeting, and explain where you need help and why. Assess the things in your life that are the constants, and know that they will always be there, no matter what happens. I bet there are plenty.

Use your spiritual, and emotional supports, whatever they may be, to be at peace. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Breathe more deeply and slowly. Do two full minutes of that.

The common thread here, is to preserve YOU. To nurture YOU. 

Self-care has been fruitlessly promoted as spa treatments and walks along the beach. All well and good when you can accomplish those things. 

Really, self-care is making sure you have the physical, emotional, and psychological stamina, to meet what comes next. Today, and all of the todays after that.

Today is the only day you have. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow isn't here, and when it is here, it's no longer Tomorrow. It's Today.

Today, do the things, some of which may be easy, some of which may be more difficult, to preserve YOU.

If YOU are not 'living well', then how can you help others do so? 

Please feel free to share your thoughts, or lists, or outcomes with me, either in the comments below, or privately at atrayofbliss@yahoo.com.

Our next post will explore this idea further. See you then.

Warmly,

Mimi


Thursday, September 23, 2021

Gateau Opera....no singing required...


Son number two (in birth order, not in affections), requested a Gateau Opera as birthday cake a while back.

I, being the adventurous type, took on the baking and assembling of this monster. It's a bit like a Tiramisu, but not, if you know what I mean.

Description:

Opera cake (French: Gâteau opéra) is a French cake. It is made with layers of almond sponge cake (known as Joconde in French) soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache and coffee (or Grand Marnier) French buttercream, and covered in a chocolate glaze.

Yeah, nah, no worries as we Aussies say. *cough*


First of all, could someone, anyone, have told me that Gateau Opera is usually served in individual portions. I could have thus baked and assembled them that way, rather than in Jack and The Beanstalk giant terms.

After wrestling the layers into submission, soaking them in caffeinated beverage, and coating them with enough buttercream and chocolate to feed all of Paris, it was done.

Still, no harm done. Apart from several near nervous breakdowns in ensuring that said layers of Jacone remained in one piece, given their gargantuan proportions.


In the end, it was yet another lesson in 'if you build it, they will come', or 'try anything once', or 'made with love is best', or any number of other heart warming homilies.


Edible gold dashes were added for dramatic effect, and Son declared the ensuing cake a success. He enjoyed it with a cold Corona, as men will. No palate, I tell you.


I hope he liked it, 'cause I ain't making another one....lol!

Here's the main recipe I followed, although, as ever, I added my own touches...



What's been your most adventurous cake making escapade?

...Mimi...



Monday, August 23, 2021

Insourcing to stay sane in insane times...




 If there's one thing I've learned since, at the age of 61,  I transitioned into my seventh decade on this Earth, it's to be myself. Find what I like, in the sea of being told what to like. It's liberating.

It's only when you remove yourself from all of the external influences in your life, that the Real Self, sometimes comes into clearer focus. I think this has been the case for many of us, as we negotiate lockdowns.

These days, if I want to eat home made Enchiladas in the middle of Summer, and Sashimi in the dead of Winter....I do.


I'll eat pasta for breakfast....


...and fresh hot off the pan flatbread for lunch, all by itself if you don't mind.


Muesli and yoghurt for dinner? Sure.


Chocolate mousse for afternoon tea? Why not?


Surely at this moment in time, we should all do whatever we need to do to keep our spirits up.

Bubble bath at lunch time when you work from home? A sanity saver if you ask me.


What about this idea....

Give yourself a hand massage. Go on. Slather on some hand lotion. Or even better, make a hand scrub with equal parts raw sugar, olive oil and a few drops of your favourite essential oil. Now, don't just rub it on haphazardly. Pay attention to the back of your hand, your palms, each of your fingers and your thumb. Massage your wrist and up to the crook of your elbow. Use long strokes, and take your time. Rinse with warm water to activate the scent of the essential oil. Pat dry. Nice, right?


Give yourself a head massage. Particularly nice if you have a bit of length on your fingernails. Why do we wait for 'someone else' to do these things that we can do for ourselves?

See how here.

Curl up with a really good read. Something totally escapist. Certainly nothing to do with pandemics, thankyou. This is not the time for a Stephen King novel.

Can't go to the gym? Find an online workout or app that works for you. There are thousands. Gyms are not a good insourcing idea anyway. 

Compile a new playlist on Spotify and dance at home, instead of attending a class.

Weights are your thing? Improvise with weights at home, logs of firewood, bags of clothing (those ones you've just decluttered). Get creative. Previous generations got their cardio by doing what needed doing around the place. They didn't pay someone else to do their chores, wash their car, walk their dog, and clean their gutters, and then also pay to go somewhere to exercise. It's a special madness, I tell you.

The Universe is trying to tell us something. And all respect to anyone with different beliefs, but it is NOT that the government is trying to kill us or take away our liberties.

We need to return to a slower way of life. A more authentic one. 

Until we do that, nothing much will change.

How sad.

Look after yourself. Give yourself a break from the news and social media. Whatever is happening out there will continue to happen whether you engage with it or not. Rest your weary mind.

This storm will pass.

Stay safe. Stay calm. Breathe.

...Mimi...



Friday, July 9, 2021

Homespun Things...upcycling a denim jacket...


It all started when I was Pinterest-ing one day, scrolling through trims for Chanel-a-like jackets. I will make one in my lifetime. I've promised myself. This bit of froth and frou-frou caught my eye, and I've dreamt about it ever since.

Finally an opportunity presented itself. Not a Chanel jacket sadly, but a marked down denim jacket in KMart, for just $7. Just the ticket for a bit of upcycling.

I'd purchased the feather trim some time ago, knowing that if I did so, the 'jacket' would find it's way to me. The Universe provides. I know that. You know that. No harm in being ready!


I cropped the jacket to just under the bustline, and likewise, trimmed the sleeves to mid-forearm. That's the best length for me.

Trim was pinned and I thought I was ready to go.


However a quick try-on showed that due to the jacket being shortened, it was sort of tent-like, especially at that under-the-boob level.

I unpinned the trim, inserted a couple of darts, and I was off and running...well, stitching actually.




Two broken sewing machine needles, several broken pins (don't buy those ones at the checkout at Spotlight, they're s**t), and a small amount of bad language later, I was done!



Cute undone as it is above...

Or done up as here below.


I'm feeling rahther Zsa Zsa Gabor.

A bit of fun. Life is short, right?

...Mimi...