Roast Veggie & Chickpea Nourish Bowl

If you’ve been on Insta in the last year, I’m sure you’ve noticed the hype around Buddha Bowls, Nourish Bowls, Health Bowls.  Whatever you want to call them – they’re cool as fuck fresh ingredients in a bowl.

Chris has been on at me for weeks to start making our own and I guess I always thought they’d be some big hassle of fancy carved avocado and sprinklings of mysterious crunchy black flakes.  I finally gave in and came up with my own spin on them based on what I had on hand.

Wholly shit!  What I was not prepared for was the fact that this was so good, I should have made double so we could indulge in a next level food coma.

So if you’re looking to pop your fancy bowl cherry, this is a great simple start that’s sure to keep everyone happy.

 

Moroccan Roast Veggie & Chickpea Nourish Bowl
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CHICKPEA & SWEET POTATO
  1. 1 400g tin of chickpeas drained & rinsed
  2. 2 small / 1 medium sweet potato skin on, diced into 2cm chunks
  3. 1/2 tsp moroccan seasoning
  4. 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  5. 1 tsp crushed garlic
  6. olive oil
BOWL FILLINGS
  1. 3 swiss mushrooms
  2. 1 cup small brocoli florets
  3. 4 baby beetroots (I cheat & use tinned beets)
  4. 1/2 cup brown rice
  5. 2 shallots finely sliced
DRESSING
  1. 1/2 cup of natural yoghurt
  2. 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  3. 1/2 tsp seeded mustard
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Toss the chickpeas, sweet potato, spices, garlic, a pinch of salt & pepper and a glug of olive oil in a roasting tray, then place them in the oven.
  3. Cook the brown rice according to the instructions or my little trick in the link above.
  4. Slice up the mushrooms and pan fry them on low on one side of a large frying pan with a little olive oil. On the other side of the frying pan, fry the broccoli until tender.
  5. Meanwhile drain and quarter the baby beets, slice up the shallots and mix up the dressing.
  6. By the time the rice has cooked & cooled, the sweet potato should be soft and the chickpeas should be slightly crunchy on the outside and the mushrooms and broccoli should be perfectly tender.
  7. Fill one side of your serving bowls with the chickpea and sweet potato roast, the other side with the brown rice.
  8. Top with the rest of the fillings and whack a large dollop of the yoghurt dressing on the top.
Create Your Fate Collective https://createyourfatecollective.com.au/

How We Built A No Dig Veggie Garden That Never Needs Watering

We’re seriously short on time.  So when we wanted to start our veggie garden, we knew it had to be fuss free and something that wouldn’t drain our time each day.

What we’ve managed to create is a veggie garden that didn’t require any digging and we don’t have to water ever!!  This is where we get most of our leafy greens and fresh herbs from which give us year round fresh produce.

 

Get The Most Out Of Your Waste

When we hooked up our plumbing here, we decided to make the most of our grey water.  Our grey water is the waste water from our shower, bath, laundry tub and washing machine.  The kitchen sink and toilet are considered black water and should always been treated properly through a waste management system.

If you’re going to use your grey water, you need to make sure you’re putting the right things down the drain, especially if you’re going to grow food from it.  No one wants to be eating a lettuce that’s been watered with bleach right!

I swear by Natures Organics for all our home and personal care.  They legit have everything you could need from floor cleaner to face cleaner.  They’ve been around since the 50’s, their line is specifically designed to be grey water friendly, they’re Australian owned and they give a shit about our planet.  I find the biggest issue with eco friendly products is the price point can be a little steep, Natures Organics is more than reasonable, if not the cheapest option most of the time.

Anway, we ran our grey water out from the bathroom with some PVC pipe until we reached the start of our slope.  We then attached a slotted pipe so the water could slowly soak out of the pipe and into the garden.  We made sure the slotted pipe ran slightly down hill and secured it with a few good rocks.  At the end of the pipe, we added a cap so that any water that wasn’t absorbed the first time through, would back up and soak out.

Find Your Local Mulch Dealer

Did you know some local dumps have free or really cheap mulch?  Our local lets us take 1 free ute load of mulch each day.  Crazy right?

The free mulch can have some rubbish in it which takes a bit of time to pick out.  The other option is a finer ground mulch for about $20 a ute load.  Either way, it’s a cheap deal.  This stuff isn’t the best quality of course but to build up your base and get your veggies in the ground, it’s all that’s needed.

We started by bringing home a ute load every time Chris had an early finish at work and started burying the slotted pipe, making sure it was at the top edge of the garden so the water could run down through the plants below.  From memory, we used about 4 ute loads to build a garden bed that’s about 8 metres long and 1 metre wide.  We made sure we marked where the pipe runs incase we ever need to get to it in the future.

Over time the growing of plants, constant watering and breaking down scraps will only improve the mulch over time.

Don’t Buy Your Seedlings From Big Name Places

Sure, it’s convenient to hit up your local Bunnings for some veggie seedlings but did you know you can get insane bargains from your local markets?  Yandina Markets for example has a stall that sells 30 seedlings for $15!!!!  That’s 50 cents each!!!! 

Buying from your local markets also ensures that what you’re buying will grow well in your climate.  The bigger guys can ship their seedlings around between stores so you never can be too sure where they’ve spent the last few months of their lives and what climate they’ve adjusted to.  Your local market stall holder on the other hand is going to be a local to your region so you have a much better chance of your little sprouters loving their new home in your veggie garden.

Close Your Eyes & Dig A Hole

Okay not literally, that would probably be dangerous but don’t be too careful with what you plant where.  We spread our seedlings out as much as we can to give everything a better chance at thriving.

By scattering and planting at random, you’re not only slowing down the rate that bugs and disease can spread from plant-to-plant, but you’ll soon see where each variety does best over the season.  I’ve noticed for instance that our cauliflower doesn’t like being on the high side of the garden, and does much better on the lower side and our shallots reach mamoth sizes towards the end of the garden instead of at the start of it.

So mix it up, play around and see what does well where.  It will be pretty obvious pretty soon how everything’s performing and where it should be planted next time so make sure you take note.  Start a little black book for you to look back on next season.  This will eliminate your need for trial and error every seasonn.

Let Some Stuff Go To Seed

We have a shit load of lemon basil and lettuce growing in our garden because we just keep letting it go to seed.  This is honestly the easiest way to create an abundant veggie garden with heaps of variety.  It also saves you having to go and buy new seedlings each season.

Some of it we pull out, pick the seeds off to put in storage and feed the rest of the plant to the chooks.  Our seed drawer now has a nice little stash of rosella, basil, pumpkin, carriander, dill, capsicum and god knows what else.

Some of it we will shake into the garden to keep them going.  The garden at the moment has tatsoi, dill, broccoli, cauliflower and shallots going to seed which we plan on leaving to do their thing and sprout even more.

We’ve done so well out of our garden these past few months and it’s so awesome being able to step out and pick fresh ingredients for our meals. Chris’s favourite salad consists of random leaves he picks and tosses in olive oil.

We’ve had veggie gardens in the past but they just never seem to do that well when they need to be watered by hand.  This is hands down the easiest and most rewarding way we’ve ever grown and if you’re in the position to do so, give it a shot for yourselves and let us know how you go!

The Ultimate Guide To Being A Tight Ass

This blog post has been a long time coming.  I mean a really long time.

For as long as I’ve been old enough to make my own financial decisions (16 with a job), I’ve been the ultimate tight ass (except for that one time at 18 I sold my dirtbike and bought clothes and shoes I no longer own).

A couple of weeks ago, I was scrolling one of my Facebook Mum Groups and a post asking about the weekly spending on food shops caught my eye.  One lady was spending around $400 a week and I was floored.  I chimed in with my humble tips on how I manage to keep our costs low and before I knew it I had a journalist hitting me up for more tips.

So this online article came out, then another online news journo contacted me, then a national radio station, then a news team, all within 24 hours.  Apparently everyone wanted to know my tips and tricks to basically being the worlds biggest tight ass.  I guess I’ve always thought this was simple shit that everyone does but I guess not.  Everyone has their strengths and areas they really focus on and I guess for me, it’s always been our finances.  Chris and I come from families with self employed parents so we understand the massive importance of keeping an eye on your money at all times.

After a little kick up the ass from Chris, I’ve finally dedicated the next hour or two to sharing ALL the secrets of how I save us a shit-tonne of cash.

Start With A Budget

It’s crazy the amount of people who have never considered writting a budget.  How do you know if you can afford to drop $100 on a fun weekend if you have no idea that your rego is due in two weeks?  How do you know if you can really afford to upgrade your car if you don’t actually know how much money you have spare each month?

I think the trap most people fall into is living week-to-week and pay-to-pay which is so easy to do.  The thought of planning out months in advanced seems over the top to most.  But you know that hot prickling feeling you get when you realise Christmas is only 4 pays away?  I haven’t had that since I started budgeting properly.  I know in January how much I’ll need for every occasion throughout the year.

We’re pretty average to low income earners, there’s no point hidding that fact so our budget is a fine juggling act of money going in on Tuesday to pay the mortgage by Wednesday but because we know our total monthly incoming and outgoing figures, we know we’ll always come out on top.

So pull your head out of the sand, sit down and work out what you pay each month, on what day and make sure there’s money still in the account to pay what’s needed.

Don’t Just Wing It

Okay I get it – not everyone loves being in the kitchen as much as I do.  That’s cool.  But my method of meal planning works wonders at saving me time and effort in the kitchen.  With a house, farm, businesses and baby to juggle, being organised is key.

Here’s how I tackle it each fortnight:

  1. Stock up at your local farmer’s markets or old-school fruit and vege shop with what’s cheap and in season.
  2. Take advantage of anything that’s on sale and buy a decent amount to take home & freeze.
  3. Use your fresh produce as your base for meal planning (see below).  Work with what you’ve just bought.
  4. Sitck to the freaking list!  No, you don’t need another packet of Mint Slice just in case.  Yes, I see that these packet mix sauce things are 3 for $5 but you won’t eat them and they’re full of shit!
    Stick. To. The. List.

My meal planning consists of:

  • a list of all the foods we love to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • a groccery list with planned meals on one side and required ingredients on the other.
  • a menu of what’s on offer for the fortnight for us to choose meals from.

It’s simple.  Crazy simple.

I usually spend about 15 minutes per fortnight planning, 30 minutes in the veggie shop/stall and about an hour in the supermarket.

Live Within Your Means

We’ve fallen into the trap of chasing the flash car, flash house dream.  And it bit us in the ass.  Big time.

Live A Cash Lifestyle

I spend a lot of time biting my tongue when I see our generation bitching that they can’t get into the real estate market.  Well no dude, you can’t because you owe $40k on a car, $10k on your interest free furniture package, $2k on your credit card for those gigs you never paid off and you hit the pub each week with da boiz.  I’m not saying we don’t have debt.  But according to our Finance Specialist, what we think is an extreme amount of money for us to owe, is nothing compared to other couples our age.

Bring Pre-Paid Back

The biggest game-changer for us was switching from a mobile plan to pre-paid instead of upgrading our phone and plan every few years like we always used to.  We were both paying around $130 per month each for our phones on a plan, now that we’ve switched to pre-paid we’re spending $40 a month each.  Straight up, there’s $180 per month we’re saving.  And yes, $40 a month CAN last if you turn your Mobile Data off when you’re not using it away from the wi-fi.

Don’t Be A Fashion Sucker

We don’t drop endless cash on new clothes but we don’t stinge too much either though.  Usually we’ll treat ourselves to a few new brand name pieces every couple of months and fill in the rest with basic budget-friendly pieces.  We make the most of what we do buy and I have been known to wear a basic black tank top I bought when I was 18.  Our clothes are washed in a gentle eco friendly liquid and only see the sun when we’re wearing them – we use an airing rack inside to dry them.  We try to focus on buying more staple pieces that reflect our casual minimalistic style rather than falling for the latest fast fashion.

Get Creative

We’ve always been the kind of people to try and do something ourselves instead of paying top dollar for someone else to do it for us (within reason).  Last month I decided I needed a desk and when a quick online search had me looking at tiny pieces of crap for $250, I told Chris we had to make our own.  For under $100 we built a simple timber desk with a nice blonde pine top to fit exactly in our little home.

I have a heap of rugs, cushions, throws and curtains that I keep in storage.  Every few month I’ll get bored and switch them all up instead of buying new ones.  We needed to protect our suede couch from our little spewing, drooling milk machine but my sewing machine is on the blink so I bought 2 king sized sheets and used them as slip covers.

Our kitchen is so basic but I love it’s style.  The kitchen itself was free from a friend who was demolishing their house (total score!!!!), the top timber shelf was made with some spare pine we had in the shed, the hooks were left over from our hanging plants at the last house, all the glass jars that hold my pantry items are empty coffee jars I’ve pinched off friends and family as well as our own collection.

Before you fork out big time on decorating you pad, see what you can work with first.

This Isn’t One Size Fits All

I’m not sure why I feel the need to add a disclaimer here, maybe it’s because of my recent introduction to “trolls” but I want to point out that this lifestyle isn’t suited to everyone.

There are some people out there who like the finer things in life and are willing to work the long hours and stressfull jobs to pay for those things – that’s cool, good on you.  That’s not what we want though.

We want to spend our time raising our children and being there for them as much as we can.  We want to focus on working on our terms, on things that we’re passionate about.  We don’t want our decisions in life to be ruled by needing to maintain a high income to pay a high mortgage, car repayments or credit card bills.

We can all implement these small changes that I firmly believe will make a difference to you and your family.

Super Simple Creamy Carbonara

Not many can pass up a creamy carbonara sauce stirred through perfectly al dente spaghetti.  Over the years I’ve wasted money on buying the jar sauces in the hope that I’ll get that perfect flavour, but most of the time I’m left with some shitty processed taste in my mouth that turns me off the whole meal.

The only way I could over come this was to step up and use real cream.  There really isn’t any alternative for me so just close your eyes as you pour it in, and leave this recipe for your monthly treat.

Super Simple Creamy Carbonara
Serves 2
This one serves 2 very hungry people, but it's the kind of recipe that you can easily double to feed more.
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Ingredients
  1. 250g dried spaghetti (half a pack)
  2. 300mL thickened cream
  3. 2 tspn crushed garlic
  4. 1/2 brown onion finely diced
  5. 2 good sized mushrooms finely sliced
  6. 1 tbsp basil finely shredded
  7. 1 small handfull shredded parmesan
  8. 1/2 tbsp butter
Instructions
  1. Get a pot of water on the boil ready for your spaghetti.
  2. Gently fry off the garlic, onion, mushroom & basil in the butter in a large saucepan. Stir it regularly.
  3. Once the pot of water comes to the boil, chuck your spaghetti in (I snap mine in half to make it fit).
  4. By now the veggies should be nice and soft so pour in the cream and give it all a good stir.
  5. Turn the heat right down and wait for the spaghetti to finish cooking.
  6. Once the spaghetti is cooked perfectly, drain it and add it to the saucepan, add the parmesan and give it all a good stir with some tongs.
Create Your Fate Collective https://createyourfatecollective.com.au/

How To Halve Your Grocery Bill | News.com.au Interview

Ever have a serious “oh shit” moment?

I had one today while enjoying my besties daughters third birthday.  One of the Mamas from a Facebook group shared a fresh article from News.com.au asking if it was me and if I knew about it!

Oh shit.

All of a sudden I had an embarassing flash back to that time I was hit up to share how we save so much money on our monthly food shop.  I wrote an essay of an email with all my tips and tricks, clicked send, and totally forgot about it.

Next thing I know, it’s being shared around Facebook and has been viewed over 2000 times when Mum last checked (typical proud Mum thing to do)!  Apparently people are interested in what I have to say and have been heading here to read more about us.

So if that’s not the rocket up my ass I needed to keep writting and sharing, then I don’t know what would be.  From now on, I promise to ignore the voices in my head that say “no one’s interested Caity”, “people think you’re weird for living in a shed” or “why is your knowledge worth sharing?”  Screw you internal doubts, I’m going for it.

Read The Full Article Below Or Click Here.

 

IF YOU want to have your smashed avo and your, ahem, soy turmeric latte too — listen up.

Forget worrying about what your fancy Saturday post-pilates brunch is doing to your house deposit.

39% of the Australian weekly wage is spent in the supermarket. That’s a huge chunk of your take-home pay each month. So, sure, $19 for half an avocado smooshed onto two pieces of rye is offensive, but not monetarily life changing when it comes to your budget. Skipping coffees won’t earn you a house deposit. But downsizing your grocery bill will.

And when it comes to changing your weekly spend, consciously deciding to halve your grocery bill is tough, but doable.

One year ago, Caity Fitzgerald and her husband Chris moved to the country to start a new life — and soon had a baby. With the shift to one wage, Caity began to make changes to the family’s food and grocery bill in an effort to thin out their already tight budget.

For starters, their grocery bill had to shrink — from $500 to $250 per month.

Caity is serious about grocery spending. She now plans all of the family’s meals in advance each fortnight.

She shops at growers markets before heading to the supermarket to see what’s cheap — and hasn’t purchased pre-prepared meal bases or sauces since she moved to the country.

Sticking to a strict shopping list and growing her own herbs and some vegetables has also saved her plenty of money each month, as well as not just buying in season, but buying big when something is on sale.

“A couple of months ago red capsicum was crazy cheap so I bought a heap of it, sliced it up and put it in the freezer. I do this a lot with produce when it’s cheap and in season. My freezer currently has celery, blueberries, strawberries, and capsicum in it,” she told news.com.au.

Caity Fitzgerald and her husband Chris on their wedding day. Picture: Tyra Gunnis

Caity Fitzgerald and her husband Chris on their wedding day. Picture: Tyra GunnisSource:Supplied

And Caity also says with a pantry that’s always well stocked with the basics, rather than having to shop for every item when you decide on a particular recipe, it’s much easier to cook a basic meal — without needing to buy anything at all.

So, do frugal supermarket choices mean more available budget for chai lattes and embarrassingly expensive breakfasts for Caity and her family?

“I’m a self confessed tight ass so for me, buying the infamous avo smash kills my soul when I could buy enough avos for the month for the price of one breakfast,” Caity says.

“But coffee is life with a baby, a house, a business and a farm so no expense is spared for our regular coffee dates! Changing our shopping and eating habits has made a huge different to our household budget. It’s been the difference between our son going to childcare and me going back to work. This was the one area we could really cut costs without feeling like we’re missing out.”

Caity and Chris now live in on a beautiful property in the country.

Caity and Chris now live in on a beautiful property in the country.Source:Supplied

CAITY’S EASY TIPS TO HALVE YOUR GROCERY BILL

Stop buying the junk food, the soft drink, the chips, lollies, expensive cuts of meat, pre prepared sauces, brand name everything. We buy a lot of home brand and honestly, I don’t feel like there’s a huge difference on staple ingredients.

Shop at your local growers market. Not only are you able to afford organic and spray free — yes, there is a difference — but you’re supporting the small guys. Start at the markets THEN do your supermarket shop.

Plan your meals. Put a little time into it, involve the family so they get a say and are more excited for the meals ahead.

Cook humble meals. Honestly, simple for us is best. Our all time favourite dinner is a creamy mushroom and onion spaghetti carbonara with fresh basil and some nice crunchy bread.

Think of the environment. When you become more aware of the waste you’re creating and the products you’re buying, you naturally reduce your costs. At the end of the day, if it’s bad for the planet, it’s generally bad for your budget.

To read Caity’s blog about moving to the country and saving money visit createyourfatecollective.com.au

How We Eat Like Kings On A Single Income

I seem to spend a lot of time in my various Facebook groups sharing my tips on how we eat really great meals on a single income.  With daily living expenses rising and more families finding it hard to manage, it’s the question on the tip of many Mama’s tongues and it’s one that’s taken us a long time to perfect.

For us, it all started when we moved here.  For the first month we had no fridge – just an esky and a bookshelf for a pantry that needed to sustain us through the hard labour of setting up the property and me entering my second trimsester with Cypress.  We were sinking all of our money into the property and buying a family car so I had to get pretty creative with our groccery spending.

We started by only eating meat half the fortnight – mainly because storing fresh meat, living an hour from the shops, and both working fulltime made it very tricky to manage fresh meat with no fridge.  After having Cypress, we then decided to eliminate almost all meat from our diet, allowing ourselves the salty oily goodness that is bacon.  Naughty, I know – but it’s bacon!

Our current eating habits aren’t as perfect as we would like them to be.  At the moment, we’re not eating orgaincally and are only growing a small portion of our produce.  As Cypress grows and we’re able to have more spare time outside, we plan on growing all of our fresh produce.  Until then, we’re doing the best we can with what we have.

Get Organised In The Kitchen

How are you going to plan healthy, budget friendly meals if you have no idea what you already have on hand?  Getting your pantry, fridge and freezer organised is crucial to keeping your shopping costs low.  I use a Kitchen Inventory list to keep track of what I have and what I need to top up on.  As something runs out, I mark it on the list and when it comes time for groccery shopping, half my work is done for me.

Organising my food seems a little over the top but for me and my family, it just works.

Tips for keeping the pantry under control:

  • Store flour, pasta, grains, sugars etc. in clear containers.  I use our old coffee jars so I can see how much I have at a glance.  Everything is clearly labelled and kept in neat order.
  • Spices are kept in clear containers next to the stove top, again these are clearly labelled.
  • Tins and cans are stacked neatly two deep again, so I know at a glance what I have.
  • Everything else is organised into containers that I can pull out easily. 
  • Left over ingredients from larger packets are transfered into zip-lock bags or containers and clearly labelled.

How I keep the fridge neat and tidy:

  • On the top shelf we have drinks – water bottles, soft drinks, beer, juice etc.
  • The second shelf is for left overs, snacks and lunch ingredients.
  • Chris has a lunch box on the second shelf.  He makes his lunch ahead of time and I got sick of it being crammed in everywhere.
  • The third shelf is for fresh produce or prepped food for dinners. 
  • Everything on the shelves goes into a click lock container with a post-it note label on the front.  When the container’s empty, I pull off the label, give it a wash and chuck it in the cupboard.
  • Our small vegetable drawer is for fuit and the larger bottom vegetable crisper is for our veggies.
  • The door has a home for eggs, cheese, jarred cooking ingredients, spreads and condements.

Tackling an over-flowing freezer:

  • The top small drawer is for prepped baby food.  I use silicone ice cube trays to freeze the puree into shape, then transfer it into ziplock bags and label it.  When a bag is empty, I make more and top it up.
  • The second draw is for frozen fruit and vegetables.  I buy up when something is on special, chop it up and freeze it.  I also buy corn, peas, beans, broccoli and cauliflower frozen because we never seen to eat it quick enough.
  • The bottom draw is for bread, pastry and frozen meals.  Again with the ziplock bags, I put everything in them – including soup.  I lay everything flat until it’s frozen, then stand it up to take up minimal space.

Plan Your Meals

Not everyone is as excited by a well executed list as I am.  But this is my key to keeping our food bills as small as possible.  Each fortnight, Chris and I sit down to brainstorm our meal choices for the fortnight.  We try to keep a balance between rice, pasta, vegetable based meals and will often flick through my collection of cookbooks to get some inspo.

I’ve created my own print out with our meals on one side, and my shopping list on the other side.  So many times I add something to the shopping list and have no idea what I’m buying it for.  It also makes life easier having it all on one sheet.  It also has quick tick-and-flicks for our staple supplies that I seem to need each fortnight.

Once we’ve worked out what we want to eat, I check the pantry, fridge and freezer to see what I have and write down what I need to make the meals on the list.

When the house is stocked with our grocceries, I use post-its to plan out our Weekly Menu which includes food for Cypress.  This lets me be prepared and make the most of fresh ingredients or left-overs.

Stick To A Shopping List

This is the very most important part of my whole process and I’m very particular about how it’s done.  For starters, I DO NOT take my husband the man child with me.  He will try and shove every bullshit thing in the trolley that we just don’t need and then I feel like a bitch for saying no to him for an entire hour.  The actual child on the other hand is always welcome as long as he’s fed, full and healthy.

My shopping list goes in order of our supermarket so I’m able to whip around super quick, throwing in everything on my list and I’m usually in and out within the hour.  I avoid those aisles that have nothing but crap in them and I ignore everything that catches my eye that isn’t on my list.

Sometimes I’ll need to substitute if something is unavailable but for the most part, I stick to my guns.

Embrace Scratch Style Cooking

The last one sounds harder than it is and sounds sketchy.  When I started looking into heamsteading and budget meal planning, the term of “scratch cooking” kept popping up.  The theory is to buy base ingredients and cook as much from scratch as you can.  It’s ofcourse much easier to do when you’re a stay at home Mama and you love to be in the kitchen but it really does save us a bunch on money.  For example, if I need a tomato spaghetti sauce, I’ll get a large jar of Passata and add all my own flavour to enhance it.  If we have pizza, I make the bases with flour, water, oil and herbs.  I buy individual ingredients over getting packet mixes and jar sauces which makes way more quantity and variety of meal bases.

Fully Loaded Roast Vege Salad

This salad is the kind of salad you feed a heap of hungry blokes.  It certainly isn’t dainty, or delicate but it packs a punch in the taste department.  It’s the kind of meal you can chuck anything in that’s in season, so adapt to whatever’s fresh and needing to be used.

Fully Loaded Herb Rubbed Roast Vege Salad
Serves 2
I have self control issues when it comes to portions so to make sure I have the perfect amount of salad, I build it on the plate. So for this recipe, start with two plates with salad green spread in a single layer. I usually go for baby spinach and rocket. And if you have left over roast veggies, just save them for another meal!
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Roast Veggies
  1. 2 medium potatoes washed and cubed
  2. 2 small carrots thickly chopped
  3. 1 small sweet potato
  4. 1 cup pumpkin with the skin on cubed
  5. 1 red onion thickly sliced
  6. 1 cup cherry tomatoes, skin pierced
Other Ingredients
  1. 1 handful of finely chopped mixed herbs. I used mint, thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley.
  2. 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  3. 4 rashers bacon fincely sliced
  4. 1 small fancy bread roll chopped into large chunks. I used an olive ciabatta.
Dressing
  1. 1 teapsoon finely chopped dill
  2. 1 teapsoon honey
  3. 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  4. 2 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Boil the potato, carrot, sweet potato and pumpkin until tender but firm.
  2. Fry off the bacon in a large pan until crispy. Remove and set aside to drain on paper towel.
  3. Fry the croutons in the bacon pan until crunchy, stirring constantly. Remove and set aside.
  4. Drain the boiled vegetables and toss in the mixed herbs and minced garlic, carefully coating all the vegetables.
  5. Add the boiled vegetables and cherry tomatoes to the pan and cook on high until crunchy, turning ocassionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Meanwhile, mix the dressing ingredients, adding oil or mayonnaise to get the consistency you like.
  7. Remove the vegetables from the heat to cool slightly.
  8. Assembled the salad on each plate starting with the bacon and croutons, adding the roast vegetables and finishing off with a generous drizzle of dressing.
Create Your Fate Collective https://createyourfatecollective.com.au/

How To Use The New Moon | New Moon Ritual

Setting New Moon Intentions

Sometimes life just really sucks but you can’t quite work out why.  You feel like you need a little reset button to get rid of this shittiness surrounding you and start fresh with a new, happier perspective.

Lucky for us, this is actually possible if you believe in the power of The Moon and you’re prepared to harness it and make it work for you. 

So this post is all about focusing on the New Moon.  And no, I’m not talking about that soppy teen crap with the submissive woman who can barely speak to her dominant half human, blood sucking boyfriend (not a healthy portrayal of teen relationships BTW).

As it’s name implies, a New Moon is all about new beginnings and there’s a few little rituals we can do to get the kinds of new beginnings happening for us that we feel like we really need.  Don’t worry, there’s no chanting, burning of sacred herbs or nakedness required (unless that’s what you’re into, then go for it).

I find towards the end of the moon cycle, I start thinking about starting new things.  New projects, meeting up with new friends, changing little things around the house, anything that I feel will make life less stale.  It’s only when I realise what I’m doing internally that I check the calendar and sure enough, there’s a New Moon looming.

There’s a few different ways to do this, but because I’m a busy and easily distracted Mum, I’m going to keep it simple this time.  All you’ll need is a piece of paper and a pen.  You can also gather some treasures such as crystals, candles, incense or anything else that helps you go to a happy place.

Find a sacred place & get the good vibes flowing.

This doesn’t have to be some fancy alter or anything like that.  I find my sacred place is my bed so I’ll strip all the blankets and pillows off, spray some White Sage Spritz and re-make it nicely.  I then usually sit in the middle, cross legged and just take a second to chill a little.  Where ever you feel calm and settled is perfect so whether this is outside, in the bath or hiding in the car from your household, if you’re chill, that’s all you need.

Think about the crazy bad and crazy good.

Take a moment to reflect on the past month, taking note of the crazy shit that you’re not too keen to experience this next month and the crazy awesome things that you want much more of this month.  Don’t dwell on the bad, the acknowledge it as being crap and make a point of focusing on not going through that again.  As for the good stuff, really bask in it, think about how it made you feel and why you want more of that.  It could be as simple as a nice family day where everyone got on happily, it could be a small win at work being recognised for some hard work.  Whatever gets you going.

Set your intentions & goals for the coming month.

On your piece of paper, I usually write the month at the top then list in dot point forms what I’m working towards this month, keeping it to no more than 3.  What is it that you would like from this month?  Is it to find a little more calm and clarity, do you need a little cash injection, are you hoping for a promotion at work, or do you just want to manifest more good times?  I sometimes ask myself “What do I need, right here, right now?” and just wait for the answer.  It will come and usually your first response is the correct one.  Just roll with what comes to you and try not to question it.

Visualise your intentions playing out.

I find it always helps if I can visualise myself enjoying the intentions I’ve just set.  Look at each intention and picture them playing out, focus on how you’ll feel and how that will improve your current situation.  Let yourself day dream for a bit, allowing your imagination to run wild won’t do any harm at all.  I’ll usually leave my piece of paper somewhere special where I can check in on it regularly throughout the month but I keep it folded and stashed to keep it secure and special.

 

And that’s it, all there is to it.  Just remember you can’t expect dramatic miracles.  The affects of this may be subtle but if you’re paying attention, you’ll find them.

If this is your first time doing this, chances are you’ll feel like a weirdo at some point.  That’s fine, roll with it and channel your inner weirdo.  These sorts of things aren’t for everyone, but I find for me, they really help me focus and move forward in the new month.  So give it a go, just once and see how you feel.  Even if you just get 5 minutes of peace, then surely it’s worth it right?

If you’re a crystal lover like me, why not try making a crystal grid as well?

Realities Of Being A Breastfeeding Mumma

Breastfeeding…

More people have seen your tits than you ever thought possible. Most of the time you don’t even realise one is still hanging out from the last feed as your little one burps all over your chest.

You leak milk fucking everywhere! In the bed, down your side, on your kid, on your phone. That old habit of drip drying after a shower in summer is a distant memory as you end up with milk streaming down your jelly belly.

Speaking of phones, you will almost drop yours on your infant at least once in the night while trying to check their “Special K” lip latch.

You will be spewed, pooed and pissed on all while this cute little thing guzzles and guzzles, further adding to their inability to control their bodily functions.

You will look down at this little face that has just “popped” off and perched on top of your boob, with a tiny mouth open, a dribble of milk on the side, and a slow deep breathing that can only mean one thing… It’s asleep and think “thank fuck, time for sleep”.

Then you remember this won’t last forever and soon you’ll have some surly teenager that won’t let you hug them in public and decide to leave them there just a little bit longer.

Post Natal Anxiety Part Three | Learning To Be At Home

Throughout all my chats, and counseling sessions, there was one thought I wasn’t sharing with anyone.  It was so selfish and ungrateful of me, I could barely handle saying it out loud.

I wanted to sell the farm.

Just typing those words now still bring tears to my eyes.  Here was had everything we had dreamed of and worked so hard to get and I didn’t want it anymore.  I had no real idea why, I just couldn’t be there anymore and we had to move.  I think the isolation, being an hour from any friends or family and not being able to drive really took its toll on me and resulted in these thoughts.

I became obsessed.  I was scouring real estate to see what we would get if we sold, what we could buy for our money and I was terrified on telling anyone.  I had no idea that Chris had seen this over my shoulder and was terrified of what I was thinking.

I still remember the feeling on relief when I told Mum and the look of heartbreak on her face.  Mum and Dad lived bush when they had me, when they fell pregnant with my brother, they moved into the middle of suburbia and I guess I never thought much about what prompted the move.  Mum was doing her best not to say specifically why they moved, but she didn’t have to.  Unfortunately I can read Mum by the glint in her eye and right now, her eyes said it all.

Once the secret was out, I was able to openly discuss it with those around me and as much as it hurt Chris to do so, he responded perfectly by letting me know the option to move was always there is that was what I truly needed to do to find happiness.

I think it was a few weeks before I felt confident enough to try being at home.  I knew it had to be baby steps for me with a safe way out.  We started with day trips to the farm in the afternoon when the temperature had dropped, leaving at night before I become too worked up.  We then tried a sleep over, just the three of us.  By 8 that night, I just knew it wasn’t going to work and out of fear of taking steps back, we left while it was good.

The following weekend, we planned a camping weekend with the parents at our place.  The idea was to try and help teach me how to be at home again with the support and comfort I had attached myself to over the past month or so.  We spent the weekend creating a new routine for me, setting up a nice outdoor area for me to be in and getting the house a little more comfortable.  Sunday came around and I was feeling more confident in my ability to be happy on the farm again.

I think Chris as I had another week before he went back to work so we really focused on getting me settled and confident.  The first week of him being back at work, I wasn’t at home by myself for more than an hour.  The second week was better and by the third week I was really back on track.

I still have moments of loneliness and isolation, but I think that’s a normal part of being a Mum that most of us experience but I have all the support in the world.  I joined a Mothers Group that the hospital put together for a few of us Mums with babies around the same age who I meet with every week. I have a group of friends who I casually meet with down the coast some weeks.  I’ve started my own Mary Valley Mum Crew (find it on Facebook if you want in) and we meet weekly.  And I’m a member of a Facebook Group that is like having 150 sisters to lift you up when you feel shit, share in the laughter of being a mum and tell you you’re killing it when you really need to hear it.

This new gig of mine isn’t easy.  But it’s hard in a way I never imagined.  The sleep deprivation is yet to hit me, as is the difficulty of leaving the house or keeping it tidy.  This, annoyingly comes naturally.  Feeling safe and at ease in my own home is what I struggle with.  Daily.  But like I said, it’s getting better and I know as Cypress grows and I start to see the pay off of living here, it will become even easier.  But for now, I’m happy running away to the Coast as much as I need to.

Post Natal Anxiety Part Two | Gaining Control Of Panic Attacks

It’s taken me two months to write this second part and my now 4 month old baby is talking himself to sleep in his cot.  I guess thinking about my mental state all those weeks ago is still difficult to do but hopefully I can finish it all tonight.  If Cypress stays asleep that is.

So I had just seen my doctor who had put in place a Mental Health Care Plan for me.  I asked him what to do about our current living situations.  I wasn’t sure if to learn to deal with the anxiety, I needed to FEEL it or if I should do what I can to not feel it while I learn to manage.  He advised that allowing myself to have panic attack after panic attack was definitely not a healthy thing to do.  How was I to care for Cypress when my brain was trying to shut my body down?

So we reluctantly went home and packed our things to head back to Chris’ parents house for a while.  I didn’t know how long we would need to be there this time but I knew it wouldn’t be a few days this time.  We took our time.  Had a nice lunch, packed everything we would need, tidied the house, watered some plants and got in the car to leave.

I wasn’t driving at that point and I remember the feeling of helplessness as Chris drove me in my fragile state to what I considered safety.  Never in my life have I felt more vulnerable and out of control of what was happening to me, my mind and my body.  Not a nice feeling for a head strong control freak.

We walked in the door and there was Chris’ mum, waiting for me.  I crumbled in her arms and sobbed that it didn’t work, I still couldn’t be at home and I must be such a failure.

Chris and I were going through our own rocky patch.  The pressure of what was going on, not being at home and the worry of what this extreme heat would be doing to the farm caused more tension than we had ever experienced.  I felt like I had let him down and crushed his dream of being at home with me and his boy.  He withdraw into his own state of internal turmoil, not wanting to discuss how the situation was affecting him and choosing to switch off all emotions as a way of coping.  I of course, took this as a result of me and my actions, further adding to my state of ‘what the fuck’.

I woke the next morning knowing I just HAD to pull through this.  I couldn’t live there forever.  Mum and her partner had come to Queensland from South Australia in mid December for Christmas and had stayed for the birth.  Of course when things went pear shaped, there was no way Mum was leaving until I was back on track and by now it was mid February and there they were, still camped out in their caravan in that horrendous Qld heat. (Thank fuck for Mums right?)

Hanging off my neck, fingers and wrists were an assortment of crystals, every morning I would spray essential oils, and I had a few tricks up my sleeve to get on top of the panic attacks before they took over.  I’ll share them in dot point so that if anyone you know might benefit from them, it’s a less daunting way to read them.

How I gained control of my panic attacks:

  • I identified the physical trait of a panic attack building.  For me, my ears burn and then a prickling feeling runs from my head to my toes.  When I feel this, I leap into action with one of the following.
  • “Breathe in calm.  Breathe out panic.”  This helped SO much and has saved my ass many, many times.  I close my eyes and do deep breaths while saying this mantra.  Sometimes I’ll visualise the “yukky” feelings blowing out in a big black cloud of smoke.
  • Hot showers.  My attacks would mostly hit first thing in the morning so I would make sure every morning Cypress and I jumped in the shower together.  The skin-on-skin with him and the concentration required would pull me out pretty quick.
  • Chamomile tincture.  Lucky for me a family member had been making this for a while to deal with their own anxiety.  It’s super easy to make (here’s how) and I would carry a dropper bottle with me everywhere.  A good squirt under the tongue would calm me within a few minutes.
  • Connecting with someone.  This sounds so lame but I would hold Chris’ hand.  I would rub my fingers through his and focus on the rough and smooth patches.  We would sit quietly and breathe deep.

I don’t know how much science there is behind my methods, but for me they work.

The hospital had put me in touch with the Mental Health Department who phoned me every second day to see how I was doing since being discharged.  When they called the day after we arrived back down the coast, they decided to send out a Psychologist and a Nurse to make a home visit.  This lady was awesome!  I loved her.  We had a massive chat about what I was going through, how I was feeling and the methods I was using the cope.  With the support of my Mum, I opened up and shared all those dark thoughts you don’t dare tell anyone. 

All but one.

Click here to read Part Three.

The Actual Shittest Day

My day started with cradling my nut job baby from 6:30 until 6:30 while he slept.
If then progressed to trying to hold onto said slippery baby in the shower without dropping him.

Into the car and guess who has learnt the stiff baby trick. Woo fucking hoo.

Arrive at Caloundra, take it him out of the seat and oh what’s this sticky substance on my arm. Is it spew? Nope. Fresh shit.

That’s okay, I’ll put his spare pants on. The ones sitting at home on the couch.

Shit everywhere. Running late for my reiki which requires total calm. Zen like fucking calm. Yeah righto.

Nap time while out and about. Why, that’s my favourite. 15 minutes walking the bumpiest part of pavement I could find while old ladies try to stop me to make horrifying faces at my screaming shit machine.

$20 lunch of chewy calamari with mysterious food items and a rogue hair for lunch because my $3 cheeseburger meal seemed a little slack.

Stopped to get bread and milk and oh look, my once super comfortable carrier now breaks my shoulders because it’s adjusted to fit a 6 foot giant.

Home then for playful screams and fake coughs to make my heart falter followed by an hour long melt down and refusal to go the fuck to sleep. Enough boob to put him in a coma and finally success.

Leap Four you are a true asshole. That is until crazy crying screaming poopy monster rolls from back to tummy. Responds with lightening reflexes to the sounds of my voice. Pushing himself higher and harder during tummy time. And strokes my face to put himself to sleep.

Being a mum is disgusting. It’s exhausting. It’s terrifying. And it’s fucking amazing. I remind myself daily that this time next year he won’t need me as much and it will kill me.

So for now I’m happy to be covered in all the bodily fluids he can throw at me. I’m happy to sleep in 1.5 hour intervals. I’m happy to wince when the air reaches my nipples. And I’m so happy to be lucky enough to experience all the good and all the gross with this perfect little human that I made.

Sunrise Bringing Good Vibes

I can’t believe that two months ago I couldn’t be here.
That was honestly my darkest days I’ve ever had to endure. How do you tell the man you love that we can’t live in the place he adores most? The place we had spent 8 months shaping into our dream, where we’ve invested hundred of dollars in fruit trees, spent endless hours planting and caring for them. All for the dream of providing the perfect life for our child.
As soon as that beautiful child arrived, my head was telling me it was the biggest mistake I had ever made. It was too hot, too dry, too far out, too much to handle. I grieved for our house we had just sold. With our best friends next door, my Dad 7 minutes up the hill, Chris’s parents 30 minutes away. It was normal, it was predictable, it was what I needed right there in that moment. So many times I wanted to call the new owner and explain we made a mistake and needed our house back.
But slowly it got better. I knew deep down, this is what I wanted. The dream life we have worked so hard for. The reason we don’t have brand new cars, take holidays, go out drinking, buy expensive clothes. Everything we have sacrificed has been for this. Slowly I remembered that. Slowly the temperature left the high 30’s and kid 40’s. Slowly I found confidence in my abilities as a new Mum. Slowly I began to fall in love with this place all over again.
I still find it isolating at times, but isn’t motherhood lonely at times not matter where or how you live?
So the trigger for this post is this sunrise. As my boys giggle and chat away inside, I’ve snuck outside to snap this. So much about this photo reminds me of our very first morning out here. When we jumped out of bed in excitement to see that first sun break over the rise. This property changes daily through the seasons and I guess our life will now too. I just need to look toward the change with as much excitement as this and I’m sure our life here will be our version of perfect.

Today I Locked My Baby In The Car

Today I had the most terrifying experience a parent could ever have. I went to Hastings St for a stroll with Cypress and my Dad. Put Cypress in his seat, handbag on the floor, chucked my keys on the front seat and shut the door to fold down the pram but Dad couldn’t open the boot because it was locked. I raced to the doors and they were all locked with Cypress in his car seat.
Total panic kicked in and I remembered RACQ so phoned them totally hysterical and bawling my eyes out screaming at them to hurry up, my 8 week old baby was in there and had started crying.
Some beautiful by passers stopped when they realised what was happening and phoned 000 for me I have no idea what I said or asked for but within minutes, Cypress had cried himself to sleep, I had two police officers, two RACQ guys, one fire truck and an ambulance blocking all of Hasting St.
So the lesson from my own stupidity is to never ever put your kids and your keys in the car, I now have a lanyard that I’ll use to chuck them around my neck while I’m loading up.
Always call RACQ first whether you’re a member or not they will come and get in if there are kids in the car free of charge. They were there within minutes, literally ran out of their cars and to mine and had busted in within seconds.
Then call 000 because if all else fails, you’ll want them to use their batons to smash those windows to get your baby out safely.
Anyway, Cypress is fine and was smiling at the medic as he got checked over and is perfectly fine. Just thought I would share to hopefully save anyone else going through that.

My Worst Nightmare Came True

I finally feel comfortable at home and…. Chris wakes me a few hours ago to tell me we’ve run out of power. Just now sitting in bubs room on the rocking chair and I see something strange – a fucking snake above his window in his room.
That’s what I needed. My biggest fear coming true with no lights. Still considering sleeping in the car or bailing to a motel.

Post Natal Anxiety Part One | Three Day Panic Attack

As I sit here writing this post, my beautiful 8 week old baby boy, Cypress, is snoozing peacefully in his bouncer and the first 6 weeks postpartum feel like a distant memory filled with some of the darkest days I have ever experienced.

Before I dive into sharing my most personal experience, I would like to add a little disclaimer.  What I experienced was in no way a reflection on Cypress.  I wasn’t sleep deprived, I wasn’t nervous to be a Mum and I wasn’t scared that something bad would happen to him.  It was so much more than that at although it was triggered by is birth, it wasn’t caused by it.  I would also like to say that if you or someone you know may be struggling, please seek professional help immediately, your mental health is worth fighting for.

My labour and delivery didn’t exactly play out the way most first time Mums would hope for but it was exactly what Chris and I had expected and prepared for.  After 23 hours of labour, I was wheeled into theatre for an emergency cesarean delivery.  We always knew this was a possibility due to my Mums deliveries and a few complications I had during my pregnancy.  One day when I get time, I’ll write my Birth Story.

The first two days after our little boy was born were bliss. 

Chris and I sat in hospital staring at our perfect little creation, watching hilarious YouTube videos of Mum and Dad Life rap songs (not a great idea with a belly full of stitches BTW) and dreaming of what our life will be like for the next 5 weeks until Chris returns to work.

On the second night, my Mum came to visit me in hospital and stayed into the night to help me settle Cypress and thank god she did because this is when ‘Baby Blues’ hit and wholly shit do they hit hard.  I was fine, totally fine and one little insignificant comment reduced me to a blubbering mess that I just couldn’t pull out of.

The following day wasn’t any better as I continued to sob into my blankets while Cypress and Chris caught up on sleep.  The afternoon of day 3 we made a decision to head home, thinking that I would feel more comfortable and settled once I was in my own space.  I had experienced some vomiting which the midwives put down to exhaustion.

We stepped out of the hospital doors into a dry 38 degree summer afternoon and I felt a little nervous at the thought of Chris driving for the first time with our baby in the car.  The trip home was tense and I just couldn’t relax and once we got home, the tension built.  It was SO hot and I was vomiting again.  I tried to cool Cypress in a cool bath which he wasn’t having a bar of and all it did was make him scream hysterically.  I hadn’t been able to eat all day and when I ended up on the bathroom floor vomiting with my eyes rolling, I called for Chris.  He carried me to the couch and rang my Mum.  Mum came up, got some food into us and cuddled Cypress for 7.5 hours through the night while Chris and I slept.

Problem solved right?  I’d caught up on sleep and had eaten some Vegemite on toast.

Two days later, I still hadn’t been able to eat much, was still vomiting and felt dizzy, hot and prickly, faint and I suspected an infection or reaction to something from the cesarean.  I phoned the midwives who told me to come up immediately to be checked out.  After hooking me up to all the machines and running all the tests they could, they had no idea what was up with me.  I remember staring at Chris sitting across the room from me with a puzzled look and saying “what the hell is wrong with me?”.  He commented that the words I was using and the way I was speaking was like anxiety. It was one of those light bulb moments where the doctor and I looked at each other in amazement.  How could anxiety be affecting my physical well being this much?

I was admitted back in and kept under observation for another 4 days with Cypress by my side and Chris coming in each day to sit with me.  During this time I met with social workers, psychologists, counselors, and even a chaplain in the hope of working out what the hell was going on and how I was going to manage it.  Eventually I was diagnosed with Post Natal Anxiety which I had never even heard of, I thought it was Post Natal Depression we all had to watch out for? 

From what it seems, I had just experienced a 3 day long panic attack.

I convinced myself the cause of my anxiety was the heat and the fact that the shed was so unbearably hot in this heat wave summer we were experiencing.   All I could think was that I can’t be at home.  I would dream of being able to stay in hospital until summer was over and all I could think was if this is summer on the farm, we need to move.

Our mums banded together to make an executive decision that we would go and stay with the in-laws in Currimundi until this heat passed and that I was not to return home after leaving hospital in case it triggered another panic attack.

I arrived at Currimundi in a daze.  I couldn’t quite act normal, my voice wasn’t mine, my thoughts couldn’t slow to focus on what people were saying to me and apparently my eyes reflected this for the first couple of hours.  Then after settling in and Cypress dozing off to sleep, that switch flicked and I was suddenly myself again.  I remember looking up at my MIL and saying “Oh, Hello!” as I finally felt like I was there, in that same dimension as everyone around me.

In true Rigby, Fitzgerald form, our family rallied to help us out.  While we camped out in their spare bedroom, my Dad, Chris’s Dad, Mums Partner, Chris’s Dads best mate and Chris all worked through the night to insulate the shed roof and install two big shade sails off the side of it in the hope that this would reduce the heat, and help me be at home.

Once the work was done, we had a BBQ to celebrate and I remember being so optimistic about returning home to finally start life the way it was supposed to be, just in time for Valentine’s Day. 

I can’t even explain my disappointment when we returned home for two nights before I was hysterical, hyperventilating on the phone to my MIL in the middle of another crippling panic attack.

I was so dissapointed in myself and frustrated that these feelings hadn’t gone away.  I felt like I was letting my son down, my husband down and was making our life harder than it needed to be.  I felt guilty that this was supposed to be the most amazing time of my life and I was ruining it by crying and hating being at home so much it was making me physically ill.

I phoned my doctors surgery in tears and pleaded with an emergency appointment.  They said they could see me in 2 hours and I remember thinking “I don’t have 2 hours”.  I don’t remember much of that conversation but they told me to come in right away.  As I sat there sobbing, telling my doctor I wasn’t coping and I desperately needed help to get better, I could feel the load lightening just a little bit.

He put into action a Mental Health Care Plan which entitled me to 10 free sessions with a Psychologist who visited the surgery.  I assured him I had no intention of harming myself or Cypress so he was satisfied with not medicating me at that point.

Click here to read Part Two.

It’s A Boy | Cypress Fitzgerald Birth Story

Welcoming to the world our baby boy – Cypress Fitzgerald.

Born on January 31, 2017 at 9.05pm, weighing 6 pound, 2 ounces.

 Just a heads up, this post may be a little too much information for some.
There’s no gruesome photos, but there’s no holding back on the information I’m about to share.

I always knew this birth would test every fibre of me, but I never expected the pay off to be a love this intense!

Monday night Chris and I were hanging at home on a suprising cool summer night.  I had four days to go until my due date so I was preparing some freezer meals to have on hand.  We had been invited to go to my brothers for dinner but thought it would be best to stay closer to home than 3 hours from our hospital.

Labour Begins

At about 9.00pm I went to the toilet for a wee (nothing knew at 39 weeks pregnant) and as I leant over to grab the roll of toilet paper, I felt a strange trickle coming from ‘down there’.  I leant back to finish doing my thing and out of curiosity, leant back over and felt the same trickling feeling.  I wiped and inspected it closely – yep, no denying there was a slight pink tinge.  I called out to Chris that I was fairly certain my waters had just broken.  I put on a pad and phoned the midwives who excitedly confirmed that’s what it was and to just wait and see what happens now.

I phoned our friend who I had a breakfast date with the following morning to let him know I wasn’t going to make it.  I made up some excuse about being tired and sick but promised to call him tomorrow for a chat anyway (assuming it would be to tell him we have had the baby).  Chris tidied the house while I unpacked and repacked the hospital bags, making sure I had everything I needed.  I had a shower, washed my hair, shaved what I could reach and we went to bed excited and anxious for what the next few hours would bring.

At about 11.00pm my contractions started.  They were mild and mostly just uncomfortable but I knew there was no sleeping for me tongith so I got up and myself a comfortable little nest on the couch and settled in to watch a few movies.  I left Chris to sleep, knowing I would need him to be well rested for me as labour progressed.

I didn’t notify our parents just yet.  I figured it could be quite a while until something actually happened and I didn’t want to feel like I had to keep updating everyone on how I was travelling.  As the contraction gained strength, I found it hard to get comfortable laying down so sat up on the gym ball bouncing and rolling to ease the strengthening but manageable contractions.

At about 1.00am all I could think about was having a hot bath.  I put another call into the midwives who gave me the all clear to soak in a hot tub and laughed when I told them Chris was still asleep in bed and that I would wake him and call them if things got seriouse.

So there I soaked for an hour or two until the pain really start to set in and I decided I didn’t want to be alone anymore.  I got out of the bath, dried off and went to wake Chris which was easier said than done at that hour of the morning.  Chris got up and sat with me through another movie or two. He sipped coffee while I sipped tea and water and I think I tried to have a nibble on some toast as I bounced, rolled and moaned through each contraction.

Off To The Hospital

At 3.00am my contractions were about 5 minutes apart but not as strong as I had always expected them to be at that point.  I phoned in again and was told to head up and we live about 30 minutes away from the hospital. I got into my going out pj’s and we hoped into the car, down our bumpy dirt driveway and onto our very bumpy dirt road just as the sun was starting to lighten the sky.

I remember saying to Chris in a confident tone “I think we’ll meet our baby before the sun comes up babe” as my contractions went through the roof as soon as we got in the car.  The close we got to the hospital however, the more they died down in regularity and intensity.

3:30am we arrive at the Emergency Department and are buzzed into the main entrance of Gympie Hospital so we can make our way up to the Maternity Ward.  As we exit the elevator, we’re meeted by a midwife who is all smiles and a sense of comfort washed over me.  I was here and I knew I would be well looked after.

We were admitted into the birthing suite to get comfortable in our room with the view as the sun worked its way towards the horizon and the fog settled in along the Mary River.  The ladies showed us where everything was, and told us to buzz them if anything changed.

Chris put on our playlist that was entirely Hermitude and Flume and I paced around the room wondering what the fuck happened to my contractions?

The rest of the morning is a blur of contractions building, gaining strength and momentum and dying away, leaving me frustrated and confused.  At some point, we messaged our parents to fill them in on the nights excitement.  My parents headed up to Gympie to wait the day out at McDonalds to be as close as possible for when the baby was born.

Cue Happy Gas

After breakfast I decided I needed some gas to take the edge off.  Wholly shit is that stuff fun for someone who barely drinks and doesn’t take drugs!  WOOOOOH.  One of the midwives gas me a run down and I was off, almost making myself sick on the shit at first.  I laughed with Chris as my voice went deep and I confused the hell out of my midwife and student when she came to check on me and I told her my eyes were hurting from squinting….. okaaayyyyy time to turn the gas down a little!  After a run down on how to not be high as a kite, I was back on earth and sure that I was progressing well.

Before lunch I stripped to my bra and undies and made my way to the shower (gas in hand) with the gym ball and Chris who had to hold the shower head on my back because it was broken and wouldn’t stay on the wall (good ole Gympie).  I stayed in here for a couple of hours, even managing to eat my lunch off the trolley without getting my food wet or sliding off my gym ball!

Once out of the shower, I climbed up on the bed, leaning over the back of it propped up and found a way to use the gas as the contraction built, cutting it as soon as it peaked and breathing deep as it subsided.  This really helped me avoid from over using the gas and gave me a purpose through each contraction.

Throughout this time, they would come in every so often to check mine and baby’s vitals, then let me go back to how I was.

Failure To Progress

Finally at about 2.30pm, they decided to do a stretch and sweep (where they physically try to open yoour cervix).  I braced myself for the discomfort but the horror I experienced I had no way of preparing for.  My doctor determined I was only 2cm dilated and my cervix hadn’t softened very much at all.

They let me go for another half hour and carried out another internal examination and stretch and sweep but I was still only 2cm dilated so the decision was made to administer an Epidural and hook me up to the Oxytocin drip (the drug used to induce labour) so help get things moving.  As it had now been 18 hours since my waters broke, they also gave me anti-biotics to help prevent any infection.

At about 3:00pm, the doctor arrived to insert my Epidural.  They had me sit on the edge of the bed facing Chris, lean over as far as I could and let them know when a contraction was subsiding so they could get it in before another one came.  I felt a sharp jab and a strange sensation that I can’t really explain properly.  It wasn’t pain as such, it was just a strange and uncomfortable sensation.  I told them what I was feeling and they removed the cannula, waited for a few contractions and tried again.  This time I felt the jab, but no horrible sensation following it. 

They laid me down and did the ice brick test.  The doctor ran an ice brick down my side, starting at my arm pit.  At my armpit I could feel how cold and hard it was, but as she moved it down my body the cold sensation dissapeared, until she reached my navel where I could only feel the pressure of the ice brick, no cold at all.  I made her remove the blankets because I thought she was tricking me.

Once it was confirmed the Epidural had worked, a midwife came in to insert the catheter which again I could feel but with zero pain at all.  At that point I was releived to not have to make it to the toilet to pee in between contractions.  They then gave me the dose of anti-biotics, and started the Oxytocin drip to increase my contractions.

Tamrin was brought in especially to sit and monitor me and baby around the clock.  I could tell straight away she was someone special.  Her soft and caring nature and her excitement over my birth put me entirely at ease.  It could have something to with the fact that I no longer felt any pain and was completely delerious though.

Chris was struggling big time.  The last internal examination left him looking white and he hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before.  I kept telling him to go eat and get some fresh air but I wonder if he wasn’t in any condition to drive.  I messaged our bestie and asked him to make the 40 minute drive to town to take Chris out for air and food.  He didn’t hesitate and was there before I knew it.

With Chris gone and after another internal examination,  I was able to get some rest.  The lights were turned off, my phone was taken off me (I had been texting everyone since the Epidural because beleive it or not I got bored) and I was ordered to rest.  I managed to snooze for a little bit while Tamrin sat beside me silently watching the monitors with her hand on my tummy feeling each contraction.

Emergency Cesarean Time

I woke at about 5.45pm to the smell of dinner.  Thank god, I was starving and dying of thirst.  My water bottle had dissappeared so I asked Tamrin for some water, she said she would get me some but didn’t seem to be moving.

At 6.00pm, I realised my dinner wasn’t coming, and neither was my water.  I turned to Tamrin and said I’m not getting fed am I? She mumbled something about them possibly forgetting I was in here.  I messaged Chris telling him to come back because I was most likely going in for a cesarean.

At 7.00pm baby’s heart rate dropped a little so the doctor returned and did another internal examination.  I hadn’t progressed any further than 4cm and she looked up at me with an appologetic look on her face.  I said to her “I’m having a cesarean aren’t I?”  She asked if that was okay and I said if that’s what we needed to do, then that’s what would happen.  Get my baby out safe is all I remember saying in total confidence that day.

As soon as the decision was made the room was buzzing.  Chris was gathering my things, the doctor returned with the consent forms, the lights were on, my bed was propped up, there were people everywhere changing my drips, taking off my jewellery, Chris was removing my nail polish, my hair was being pulled into a fresh pony tail it was all systems go.

This is when I started freaking. 

If I could have used my legs, I would have run away.  I wasn’t scared of the surgery, I was scared of becoming a Mum. Of being responsible for this little human.  I had no fucking idea what I was doing and neither did Chris.  How could we be resposible enough to be parents?  Who’s fucking idea was this????

I was parched, I hadn’t had a sip of water in hours and the panic that was setting in was making my mouth so dry.  I pleaded for water but they couldn’t give me any.  They kept telling me they would bring som eice cubes for me to suck but they never came.  The thirst was more than I could take and I just wanted to cry.

I was transfered onto the bed that would take me down to theatre with slide sheets and we began the trip out my door, down the hall and into the lift.  Tamrin and Chris promised they wouldn’t leave my side.  Chris was bouncing with excitement.  I tried to replicate what he was feeling but all I can feel was a heavy panic setting in.

We arrived down in theatre and Chris was whisked away to get into his scrubs.  I asked how long he would be gone for and they told me about 45 minutes.  That’s how long they needed to get me prepped.  A lovely nurse came to my side and must have seen the terror on my face.  She held my hand and stroked my head and told me everything would be okay, they perform this surgery all the time and I was in safe hands.  I shared with her the thought that my fear was of becoming a mum and she looked at me with soft eyes, called me sweetheart and told me to close my eyes.  She stood there stroking my face while we waited for everyone to prepare.

I confirmed my name, date of birth and allergy to morphine for the hundreth time and it was all systems go.  I started trembling from the adrenaline coursing through me and had to be pinned down while my blood pressure and heart rate was checked.  They wrapped me in hot blanket to try to settle me while they began wiping down my tummy and shaving me (no one tells you they shave you).

I asked for Chris and as I turned to my right, there he was beaming down at me.  I held his hand and stared into his eyes.  I was feeling impatient so I asked when they would start, they told me they had almost reached the baby.  Any minute now.

A Boy Was Born

All of a sudden there was this pulling and tugging in my tummy but no pain.  You know those old school wash boards from the olden days?  I felt like I was one of them with the bed shaking and rattling and they did god knows what to my insides.  There was a cheer from behind the sheet and before I knew it, there was this little body hanging right above my head over the sheet.  I looked up and saw these big red balls and willy.  We had a baby boy!

I remember there was a droplet of bodily fluid on him that was about the drip on me.  My first thought was “oh gross, dont let that hit me”.  He let out an almighty, healthy cry and was passed to Tamrin.  She asked if I wanted skin to skin but I was still shaking uncontrollably and was terrified of dropping him so I asked for her to give him to Chris.  She wrapped him up and handed him to Chris who looked up at me with tears in his eyes and whispered “Meet Cypress”.  I smiled and laid there watching the two of them bond and cuddle while I was stitched up.

After a few minutes, Tamrin said we really needed to do some skin to skin so she unwrapped Cypress and laid him on my chest and wrapped us both in hot blankets.  I remember the smell of him.  This spicy smell that was kind of gross but amazing all at the same time.  He began lifting his head and throwing it forward while wriggling his body.  He found my boob and started suckling at it, crying in frustration.

I could barely move my arms so he was given back to Chris after a few minutes and was taken into the recovery area while they finished putting me back together.  I was wheeled into recovery to see my two boys there waiting for me.  I was finally given a sip of water in a fucking shot glass.  I begged and pleaded for a real glass and promised not to chug it.

The First Feed

Tamrin was on hand for our first feeding attempt.  Within 11 minutes of being born, we was straight on that boob and sucking for dear life.  I think we were in recovery for a couple of hours with Cypress and I being monitored closely.  When it was time to be taken to our room, there was no one other than the two security officers available.  In walk these two big blokes who’s hearts melted when they saw little Cypress.  We joked about our security escort the whole way up and Cypress continued happily guzzling his first feed.

I was wheeled into my private room and prepared for transfer onto the bed.  Under me was an inflatable mat that acts as a hovercraft to slide me across and into position.  Once in bed, tucked in and comfortable, we were left alone.  The three of us as our own perfect little family at last.  We dressed him in the special outfit we had chosen, took a hundred photos and sent them all to our friends and family and sat there marvelling at what we had created.  I think by this point it was about 11.00pm so Chris left to go home and get some sleep while Cypress and I settled in for the night with the midwives on stand by to come and assist as I still couldn’t move after the Epidural.

I’m sure there’s so much I’ve forgotten and it’s sometimes hard for me to remember those first few days as the following few months kind of over shadowed those first moments.  But I do remember feeling totally at peace with arrival into the world.  There really isn’t anything I could have changed.  He was here, he was safe, he was perfectly healthy.  What more could you ask for.

The Most Honest Selfie I’ve Ever Snapped

I wasn’t going to share this image publicly.
For starters, it’s probably boring and it’s shitty quality.
This was last Monday, the first day Chris went back to work. I was walking around the house while feeding Cypress when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I have no idea why but I had to capture this look and this moment.
It’s now one of my favourite pics of me in all my raw, post baby, pre 8 am, healing tummy, breastfeeding awesomeness.
I feel so empowered when I look at this and reflect on how far I’ve come in the past 6 weeks.
Anyway, thanks for reading my amazingly boring story and looking at my lumpy, bumpy mum bod.

Baby Steps Towards Being At Home

Yesterday we were meant to have a sleep over at home. Something didn’t feel right and I chickened out.
So my wonderful husband loaded us up and drove an hour back to Currimundi at 8 last night.
We did have an amazing afternoon there though, laying on the couch bed watching TV, organising the house to feel more like home, showering in our beautiful rain water and sharing a kick ass chicken and mango salad dinner.
I even caught myself thinking “fuck I love this place” and almost cried with joy when I realised.
Friday we’re heading back up with the parents for the whole weekend with them camping just outside the front door for support and I just can’t wait!
I painted a pretty bad picture of home in my mind but yesterday all I noticed was the cool breeze, smooth polished floor, bright light spilling in, the coziness of the plywood walls and the beauty of the landscape and animals and this incredible sunset.
We also came to the realisation that we could afford to rent the property out and live closer to town if that’s really what I need. I don’t want that at all and I couldn’t ask that of Chris. But the realisation that I’m not trapped out there makes me feel even more empowered.
I chose to live here once, I just have to choose it again.

Baby Steps

Today I had my first psychologist appointment.

She was so lovely and confirmed that everything I’ve been saying, thinking and doing is totally on the right track.
After seeing her, we headed up to the property for an afternoon visit with a friend.

I had one moment of tears which I swiftly snapped out of.


We walked the property with Cypress on the boob once the sun had started to set and as I watched the paddock glow and the kangaroos graze, I felt myself falling in love with this place all over again.


The next step is to have a sleep over here with a set time that we’re leaving by. This weekend we’re going to invite the family up for a camp out so we can spend a couple of nights here without being alone.

It’s all baby steps but they’re in the right direction.

It breaks my heart that I can’t love our home the way I used to, but I know the feelings will return in good time.

I just have to keep making these new, happy memories of the 3 of us to replace the anxiety riddled ones I currently have.

Until then, I can’t even express how thankful I am to our friends and family.

But most of all my husband who has been plucked from his kingdom, swallowed his pride and reminds me daily this can’t be rushed and there is no deadline to finding our new normal.