Sunday funday.

I think my blog posts have gone a great way towards painting a picture of the age of bliss I currently find myself in and the self constructed mix these days of having a life that is both full of spontaneity and routine. On reflection, however, I don’t think the word ‘spontaneous’ fits anywhere within my life choices. My personality type is the opposite of this. I love a well ordered lifestyle and almost all my down time is fashioned with great thought and consideration.

Looking back on my post ‘On a whim and a prayer’ I used the word spontaneous to highlight the joy I have in life at being able to do pretty much anything I want to do at any given moment in time. And although this is absolutely true, I am actually too ordered and obsessive so rarely do anything on the spur of the moment. Instead my life is planned so that everything runs like clockwork, my social life and my relationship is included in this. This personality trait has become more set the older I get. My youth was vastly different, but then so was my next day recoveries and my work obligations.

I am quite routined and one day that is sacrilegiously forged to focus on just family is Sunday. This is the one day a week dedicated to just Mark and I and our paw family. I love this day. We wake up at our own pace, have a cooked breakfast, laze around the house for an hour or two before taking the dogs to an off leash park. The afternoon follows in similar fashion, it is just about being together at or around home. Mark’s work hours and my work/social life means this is the only day we really have together and so we commit to no other distractions. And truth be told, we are very inflexible around it. The only additional thing I will occasionally do is take nana to church.

Thursday and Friday nights will often be locked in with events outside the home usually solo on my part, with Mark staying at our abode because he is a super early riser and is equally early to hit the sack. I am a semi-regular team member at a Lygon st trivia night on Thursdays for a bit of harmless shenanigans and Fridays I have monthly Book Club dinners and Girl’s movie nights amongst other things. This Friday night just gone was spent watching ‘Beautiful – The Carole King’ story after dinner with a girlfriend.

I love Saturdays because it is a real freedom day for me whether it is caught up in the mundane of shopping and other household chores or friendship catch ups with brunches or visits to markets or festivals. The afternoons can range from relaxing with Netflix to afternoon drink sessions on roof top bars or beer gardens in the warmer months. Saturday nights swing between couple nights, group catch ups and other bookings or events, such as bands or concerts and of course the odd overindulgence in the drinking of bubbles.

In between all this I have the luxury of weekends away and longer trips during holidays. So my life does reflect the theme of my blog very much, but it is in no way spontaneous. I live in fear of chaos and disorder. I could never take a trip abroad or in Australia for that matter without everything booked in advance. I delight in having the critical parts, i.e. where we will be sleeping each night, locked in before we arrive anywhere. This allows my anxiety levels to subside to a level of normal functioning where what to do next becomes a joy and the main focus of any trip. I like to think that my self diagnosed OCD and associated anxiety works in my favour rather than against me. It does not impact on my life in a negative way and without a doubt both Mark and I benefit from it every Sunday funday!

Jodie xx

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Cheers!

I can’t go another blog post without talking about one of my life’s greatest loves; champagne, also known as sparking wine, bubbles or prosecco. I have had a funny ever changing relationship with this fine drop over countless years but I am now nearly at a point in my life where I can fully and guiltlessly embrace it.

It’s hard to know where to begin as the details of the start of this love affair is some what blurred, most likely due to my dabbling with many other relationships in my younger days, including West Coast Coolers in my teen years, my dark Cointreau and Tequila Slammer days, followed by Midori Illusions, Vodka and Raspberries, Black Russians and many a cocktail. I think it’s fair to say I was very much an Aussie stereotype; typical drunken yobbo with a tinge of boganism. I certainly wasn’t alone in this culture, fully surrounded by like minded friends, all out to get wasted on weekly binge drinking sessions.

I have no regrets of this time, with so many memories and I still see all these mates, although now we are all fully fledged middle aged adults. These days though I do like to think we are all slightly more mature and perhaps a little bit more cultured in our drink choices. The difference for me, however, is that unlike many of my friends who stopped this blatant abuse of alcohol when they began families I had no need to stop and continued on my merry way for quite some time. In fact, truth be told I have never really fully stopped. I have always found people to over drink with, sometimes I haven’t had to stray too far from family with both sides genetically inclined to the bottle.

Watching my peers develop more sensible drinking habits never really deterred me over the years as I continued to use my level of drunkeness as the measure stick of a good time. In earlier blog posts I have touched on the mask that alcohol helped play in hiding some of my real inner demons, my true hatred of myself, but it was never as clear cut as that. Hating myself was not the only reason why I enjoyed a drink, but it sure did help in not feeling the weight of my fear and self-loathing. With this part of me now almost fully healed I get to enjoy drinking in a new way, still with some abandon but with a level of peace and a far greater ease at stopping when I have simply had enough. These days my drinking habits simply have no ties attached, no real purpose except to socialise and I find myself slowing down.

When I first sought help from a psychologist I said it was because I was worried that I may have been an alcoholic. The reason for this is because at the time the only real happiness I could seem to find was when I was blind drunk. It was in those moments that the weight of everything was lifted. I was concerned because I was on regular benders beyond normal fun nights out, but most significantly was the blues that followed the next day.

Ironically my biggest fear of going to see someone about my drinking was that they were going to say that my drinking was my problem. I felt I could deal with anything but that. By now you know of course, if you have been following my blog for long enough, that by no means was drinking my problem, just a common side effect. The relief at uncovering this was by far a wonderful byproduct of healing. Now I could drink to my heart’s content! The absolute need to do this, however, is just no longer there. Instead I find myself in a real life ‘happy hour’. A time in my life where I can enjoy a drink for the sake of enjoying a drink, still sometimes over excessively, but for no other reason than socialising and having a good time before heading home, earlier and earlier it seems, to my real happy place.

Jodie xx

The root of the problem.

I write this post the morning of what is fast becoming my main purpose as the Victorian Ambassador for the Australian ‘Sisters for Love MRKH Foundation’. Today I get to host, for the second time, a casual, all inclusive, non-threatening catch up with a group of women who have common experiences that match my own. It is hard to describe how I feel. I was so alone with this syndrome for so long, the silent, hidden burden was incredibly isolating. I literally had no one to talk to that could ever understand.

When you are sixteen years old and you are told by an old and experienced gynaecologist that they have never come across a case like yours it is pretty easy to see how you can come to the conclusion that you are the only one. And I was basically told just that. When your doctor says your case is so unique you are not given a name of a syndrome but instead a list, and in my case as it turns out an inaccurate one, of medical issues.

I got whisked off for specialist treatment to really what can only be described as a specialist who had no real experience in cases like mine. The resounding message I walked away with over and over again was that I was, purely and simply, a freak of nature. It is of no surprise that I felt completely and utterly alone with an unnamed and unique diagnosis and I carried this inside me for years.

To once again be having the opportunity to meet up with other women who not only have the same diagnosis, but have shared and similar experiences to my own still blows my mind. To actually have a name for my condition is equally remarkable to me. What a turn around from the first 25 years. These days I have links with women world wide. I participate in Australian based activities and are part of a global network of women that reach into the thousands. Support now is just a quick click away.

The acronym MRKH stands for Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser Syndrome, a ridiculous mouthful. Yet the first time I heard it it was instantly adopted into my known vocabulary, I never once stumbled on the name or the spelling of this unusual syndrome. The significance of this is not wasted on me one bit. I know that having a name, at long last, for what was wrong with me was my first chance of grabbing on to a life raft and getting to some place safe. Australia having a relatively small population compared to most Western countries is possibly one of the keys to why it has taken so long for the name of this syndrome to reach our shores. But to be honest I still struggle to fully understand this.

The first siting of the not yet named syndrome is recorded as far back as 400 years BC. It wasn’t until the 1800s, however, that the need to actually classify the symptoms began to be discussed in medical circles, with a full blown diagnostic name for the condition finally occurring in Europe 1961. My unnamed diagnosis occurred in 1987. The term MRKH only begun to be bandied around amongst some experts in our medical system, as far as I can tell, as recent as 2013 and is still widely unknown by most gynaecologists and certainly by every single GP I have ever come in contact with. This is my experience at least. I constantly shudder to think of how many girls in Australia today may be experiencing the same level of isolation I felt and, quite frankly, it is just not good enough. MRKH is considered a rare disorder but in the scheme of rare disorders 1 in 4500 is certainly not that uncommon.

To me MRKH is as much a disorder of the mind as it is the body. The psychological impacts are huge and we can make a difference to this through education, and I’m all for beginning with our medical profession. Even more significantly is the difference we can make for an individual woman on a solo journey by holding meet ups like the one I am about to host today. It is on occasions like these that for a whole afternoon you can get face to face support from really the only people who can fully understand, how wonderfully normalising and uplifting it is to be able move from a life raft and on to a ship!

Jodie xx

Time flies.

My holidays are going too fast, speed of bullet kind of stuff. When I was a kid the summer holidays felt like they went on forever and were a deliberate ploy to get kids to actually want to go back to school. What has happened to time? Why does it seem the older you get the faster time flies?!

I’ve always been convinced that going away for holidays slows time down. It seems when I stay at home they are over in the click of a finger, but if I am away I seem to get more down time and hence they feel longer. Not true this holiday. Our days at the beach were done in a flash and I am caught back at home with a list of things to do before heading back to work in 2 weeks time.

When I pass the half way mark of any holiday period a little anxiety kicks in and a touch of daily hyperventilating. It’s not that I hate work, I just have a seemingly endless list of things I put off doing until the holidays and now I feel the pressure of this. Once work kicks in I have only so much motivation to get other things done. I do realise, as I write this, that I am kind of whining First World style. Life work balance is a constant juggle for most people, I struggle to remember how I managed this with a child in toe and stand in awe of all working parents. How do they not go around biting people’s heads off all day long?! And then there’s those super crazy ones who also volunteer additional time to kid’s sporting clubs, charities, churches etc.

I have volunteered in different capacities over the years, fostering included, which can be a perk of having no kids. I am not really a selfless person, valuing my free time too much pursuing the things I love, so any form of additional work has to be super rewarding. These days my only voluntary work is focused on my MRKH Support Group. It formed a large part of my recovery so giving back, even a little bit, is important to me. It doesn’t really involve a lot, but if raising awareness or contributing my own story for newly diagnosed young women helps even one person I feel validated.

One of the biggest things I have done for my charity, Sisters for Love MRKH Foundation Australia, was to participate in two awareness videos (SFL Passion Projects – You Tube search it). This was huge for me because it was super scary putting my face, voice and story out there for public viewing. The end result, however, made me incredibly proud of the courage I found, although I shook with vulnerability for a good couple of months following.

I share this now because one of my things to do before I go back to work is the third Passion Project video. I keep putting it off. Participating in these projects really take me back to times I’d rather not think much about anymore, they do not include any happy memories. I am steadfast, however, in my belief that sharing my experiences and raising awareness does nothing but help others and if it steers even one young woman towards a less rocky path then it is truly worth it.

Apart from the creativity of these projects, what I love most is how they can normalise the feelings for newly diagnosed girls, as well as guiding those closest to them to have a better understanding of the syndrome and how best to support them. So stay tuned, I look forward to sharing this little part of my life with you in coming months.

Jodie xx

Not thinking too hard.

Mark is many great things but one thing he is not is a great conversationalist. The second leg of our driving holiday this summer was three hours. I would be surprised if he said all of ten sentences in that time. Anyone who has met me would know I am the opposite of this. I find it hard to be silent. So it is fair to say Mark and I probably drive each other equally nuts. I wish he would talk more and I have no doubt he wishes I would, perhaps, talk a little less (that’s saying it nicely).

He’s not the silent, broody type, however. You know the deep thinkers, wondering about how to solve world hunger. When I ask him what he’s thinking about, something I try to do irritably often, his reply takes no great feat to guess; ‘nothing’. Mark has this true insidious belief that it is simply easy to think about nothing, he insists that not only is it humanly possible but that it requires no real effort and absolutely no thought for that matter (I encourage you to sit and ponder that for a moment).

This is so beyond my capabilities that I don’t believe it, not for a second. My brain does not know how to relax into nothingness, I can’t even think what this would be like. All I do is find myself thinking about how to not think, which really in itself is just a whole lot more thinking. But then this skill does come from a man who, whenever asked about the organising of his two month European holiday, visiting eight different countries, staying in sixteen different towns, simply states ‘it was great, I just turned up’. And a man who has only two gifts to buy every year and, when just days out from both my birthday and Christmas Day, will still often seek help.

It is fair to say in our long standing, glorious marriage, I do all the thinking, talking and organising whilst Mark does all the other stuff. When you are the household organiser and the family social secretary there is no way you can ever learn the skill of thinking about nothing, and when we were parents my thinking was tenfold. For that whole seven plus years my brain was on constant high alert, flitting from one thought to the next. In that time I never, ever, ever, forgot anything! Our child had high needs and a copious amount of appointments and parental visitations, along with the standard extra-curriculum and schooling demands. I think it is fair to say I had to do an exceptional amount of thinking back in those days.

When she left my brain kind of stopped working for a little while. I remember how our first holiday after becoming non-parents was full of things I had forgotten to pack. Or how I’d forget something at home when visiting friends or family, like the. drinks or the salad dressing. It was so out of character for me that at the time I wondered if perhaps I’d had some sort of mini stroke. To put it simply, never in my life had I ever forgotten anything and all of a sudden I found myself in a new space. I have recovered fully now, thankfully, but when I look back on that period of about twelve months I put it down to the lessening of stress that came with no longer having to care for a child and the enormous amount of additional thinking needed then just to survive.

A child for me meant my brain could never relax, it was full 24/7 thinking, even when 8 hours of this was spent asleep. You don’t know the full extent of it when you are in the zone, after all it’s not like you have any alternative, but when it’s over and your brain can finally go back to thinking mostly just for yourself then you really do notice the difference. I may not be be able to think of nothing, but I sure am grateful for having the time these days to think mostly happy thoughts, like which places to visit on our next overseas holiday and how to annoy Mark a little bit more to get at least some level of chit chat out of him.

Jodie xx

Fishing gear.

We are mid way into our two week holiday down the south east coast of Victoria, at which point we are packing up to move on from our first cal de sac to our second. We had originally wanted two weeks in the one spot but were unable to get dog friendly accommodation for the dates we had so we opted for a week in two different places, a very happy alternative I might add.

What I don’t like, however, is packing up. I am, like most people I suspect, a keen holiday maker and traveller. The worst part of this is always the pack up. I find just packing my suitcase an absolute bore, so on a holiday like this one the packing is super tedious as we have so many additional items considering we have brought the car along. We have not mastered the art of minimalist when it comes to car traveling and I’m the worst. I have literally worn six articles of clothing this week, outside swimming gear, but have something around 30 plus more items still in my luggage untouched. I am one of those ‘just in case’ and ‘what if’ packers. The weather this week has been faultless, so that hasn’t helped much!

On top of the all season clothing, I have brought along board games (which we are yet to play), three beach towels, four sarongs, four lots of bathers, five pairs of shoes (so far I’ve only worn my thongs), a picnic cooler bag, a picnic blanket, two camp chairs, three coats and an umbrella. I never leave home without my makeup, my hair straightener and hair products, although proudly I am yet to use any of these things. Then of course we have all the dog gear; a copious amount of toys and balls, their bed, two blankets, three bowls, 2 lots of leads, vomit emergency bucket and towel. And now that I am a beginner kayaker the gear for that is an enormous addition. We have also packed our snorkelling equipment, another passionate pursuit, along with a ginormous amount of fishing gear (for the man). And what Aussie holiday maker goes anywhere without a big esky? All of this I find quite ironic, considering we are the opposite of hoarders at home, prideful de-clutterers.

I look at this mountain of stuff that we have to pack and it just exhausts me. So I am eternally grateful that I also packed Mark. He’s a gun at getting all the hard stuff done, whilst I casually fuss about over my suitcase, the toiletries and whatever food supplies we think are worth taking to the next haunt. Despite the luxury of a hard working hubby, I still find time to moan. At least I am fully aware of what a real princess I can be at times.

The fact that we don’t have children and all the additional packing that they require is not wasted on either of us. I went traveling with a girlfriend to Italy three years ago for three weeks. International travel often requires a lot of packing and unpacking as you move from place to place. On that occasion we stayed at six different towns so that meant packing every three days. Naturally after the second or third time of packing up to move I began to have a little whinge about it. My girlfriend just laughed as she’d been thinking the opposite and had nothing but happy thoughts. For her it was all about how fabulous it was to only have to pack her own bag and not her kid’s as well. She was thoroughly enjoying the experience.

So now, as we put the final items into our car, the lack of kids and their likely mountain of additional stuff once again fleets across my mind. All I can think is ‘thank christ they don’t exist, imagine the additional work that would involve, not to mention we probably would have had to leave all the fishing gear at home to simply fit them in and then where would poor Mark be?!’

Jodie xx

Maiden voyage.

My kayak maiden voyage was done twice. The first did not quite go to plan with our two puppies not so keen to sit like Pochahontis on the front of our rafts as we paddled majestically around the lake. Rather they both took to lunging into the water in fright and coming up as drowned shaking rats, followed by loud whimpering that made clear their displeasure at being out on the water. A swift return to land followed and they were safely deposited to their yard before a highly successful second attempt was made. Despite this minor hiccup, day one of the new year saw my resolution still strongly intact and I would include kayaking as a definite on my list of self care ideas.

As a Christmas gift from a work colleague I was given a fabulous magazine called ‘Breathe’. Having never really been an embracer of alternative lifestyles and their accompanying theories I was a little bit sceptical as to whether I would do more than a quick flick and discard. Therefore I was very surprised to find myself quite engrossed with it. This magazine literally had 37 independent articles full of ideas for increasing self care. It kind of stole my new project from under my feet. It seems I’m not the first person to think of making a collection of ideas of how to regularly care for yourself, who would have thought!

To top it off, I was also given a book by a cherished friend called ‘How to Feel Awesome Every Day’. For a second I wondered if I should be in some way alarmed at the theme of my gifts but considering I was not given an over abundance of soap and deodorant my mind moved away from this thought quickly enough. So now I find myself surrounded by a myriad of new and easy ways to introduce more self care into my life. Day two into 2018 and my new year’s resolution box is already ticked.

This now leaves me with the question of what else to do with my life this year. How fantastic is it to have a life where you can actually spend time contemplating what to do with it? I have already acquired festival and concert tickets for every month up until June. And at that point I’m heading off on a month’s trip overseas. So my 2018 life is already filling up pretty fast. I do, however, want to set some goals as I fully enjoy the luxury of finding additional purpose.

My magazine ‘Breathe’ already has the answer to this as well, of course. One of the articles is on Mindfulness, something I already know a lot about having spent the last few years alive. One of its suggestions, however, caught my eye. It discusses how having a willingness or openness to be a beginner can be life enriching. At 47 this is a bit of a hard concept for me. What does it mean to be a beginner at 47? It doesn’t take long for me to realise I’ve actually started achieving this already. I’m a beginner kayaker and last year I was a beginner blogger. So my goals this year are about becoming more of a beginner. I am aiming for three more beginner experiences this year with the view to getting a round total of four. I am after all a keen perfectionist and four is a number that divides evenly into 12 months for tri-monthly goal setting or every quarter, whatever maths tickles your fancy, I love symmetry.

With this goal in mind I look forward to relishing all the great things that come with being a beginner. I have no expectations at getting it right or being good at it. I am open to failing and then learning from it. I can abandon if it is just not right for me. I can master it if if I fall in love and turn out to be actually good at it. I can experiment. Most of all I can actually have fun discovering things I don’t know how to do. Who knows, maybe that guitar that’s being sitting in my spare bedroom for the past 10 plus years will finally be picked up as I begin the first ever over 40s chick rock band. Stay tuned and you just may hear me sometime soon in the 2018 top music charts.

Jodie xx

In with the new, out with the old.

When I woke up this morning to a brand new year I felt this overwhelming sense of gratitude. I had a spectacularly happy 2017 and I fully intend for 2018 to follow suit. I was watching a Dawn French clip the other day, I’m an avid fan, and love her honest outlook on ageing. She’s happy to be in her 60s, firstly because she has known many a friend or family member who never made it to her age, but mostly because of the sense of confidence it brings with it. In other words she is at an age where she is being kinder to herself and really doesn’t give a fuck about what others think (that is my first official blog swearing). I love this and I get it. I love being at an age and time where I feel fully comfortable in my own skin and don’t care a great deal about impressing others. To be more self assured brings about a real sense of contentment.

In 2018 I intend to fully embrace this concept of contentment. I am no longer on a youthful search for fulfilment, I know what I love about life and have the means to maintain this and the strong sense of wellbeing that goes with it. This comes in three little packages for me. A purposeful and rewarding work life, an active social life that balances this out and the odd quiet downtime to regather and enjoy breathing slowly. I write this in one of these latter moments.

This summer holiday has been deliberately forged to give me and Mark some quality downtime. We packed the car and the dogs and headed east to two towns that, although coastal, are as laid back as we both aim to be. All I can hear right now, as I write, are the native birds that fill the trees surrounding our rental home. We spent New Year’s Eve walking the dogs along the coastal lake front of Lake King before a quiet back deck BBQ with pre and post dinner drinks. We watched a little bit of TV before hitting the sack well before midnight. It was a sensational way to farewell the old year and welcome the new.

My new year’s resolution for 2018 is to up my self care. This might sound a bit rich considering a picture I sometimes paint of the bliss in my life, but it’s not consistent. I have ridiculously crazy weeks, sometimes wrought with levels of stress that are well beyond a healthy balance. My 2018 aim is to dedicate one hour a week to deliberate self care. I welcome others to join me in this pursuit, it would be great to share tips and ideas and to encourage and support one another.

The start of this new campaign is easy when you are away on holidays. Almost everything is very much focused on self care. I am about to launch my kayak into the lake for it’s maiden voyage. Mark and the puppies are joining me. This plan to paddle along with my most treasured loved ones is an absolute perfect start to my New Year’s resolution. Happy 2018 to you and yours, may the start to this be equally full of the things you most love to do and if it’s not may it come your way some time soon!

Jodie xx

Ironing out the creases.

This will be my last blog for a few weeks as I head off on holidays and allow myself time to gather my thoughts before kicking off again some time in the new year. What a journey this blog has been for me this past six months. I am proud that I have fulfilled my commitment of writing once a week. It has given me some particularly tough moments as I reflected on my life, but mostly it has given me a freedom that I never knew I needed. Before you read my final blog of 2017 I want to thank you for the feedback, the many comments, the support, the encouragement or simply the time you have put in to just read. Know that by participating in my journey with me you have played an incredibly uplifting part of my final stage of healing. May you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, if that is something that you celebrate, at the very least know that in this year you played a little part in helping a slightly broken person feel whole again. Happy final read, see you all again in the new year!

Once in a workplace we were asked to share our mid week morning routines and what our days looked like before our working day had even begun. The purpose of the exercise was to supposedly demonstrate how we lead such busy lives and that very often we have done a range of household duties and running around before work had even started. It was meant to encourage us to be mindful of each other’s situations and how we very often don’t know the outside stresses many of us are faced with. So we wrote down all the things we did before work that day and these were put namelessly on display in the staff room.

It just so happened that I had ironed my clothes that morning. You will never see me in creased clothes and I will iron out the smallest of creases rather than look even slightly crushed. My list was mocked by a couple of very busy parents I worked with. The comments went something like this…..‘who in the world has time to iron?’ and ‘you can tell this person doesn’t have kids’, followed by lots of laughter. I get it, I really do. I did parent an incredibly challenging child for 7 plus years. My mornings in those days were very different to today. Even then, however, I still often ironed and usually in between disputes over what clothes she wanted to wear to school that day.

I did not realise how wonderfully peaceful my mornings were until I lost them for a while. Now I fully appreciate the calm and tranquil solitude I have every morning as I get ready for work. It is truly a time I cherish and also often the only time I have the house to myself. Mark might not be a kid but he is certainly capable of breaking the peace. My mornings are sacred to me. And like much of my home life I have wonderful start of the day routines that help keep me grounded.

To be able to get chunks of real down time is a privileged part of my childless life. It is yet another of one of my life’s perks. When Mark and I visit friend’s houses that are busy, noisy places with lots of kids we have great fun and will somehow manage to get some interaction with the adults we have really come to spend time with, as well as enjoying fun chats and playing with the kids. When we get home, however, we will often breathe a collective sigh. Both of us love the serenity, we fully appreciate the calmness, the quiet and the uninterrupted adult talk.

I have an incredibly busy social life, as mentioned in my previous post ‘On a Whim and a Prayer’, but equal to this is my peaceful home life. I don’t have to tackle anyone for the remote control (I have a husband who doesn’t care for TV), I don’t have to get anyone else ready before we go anywhere (just the odd hubby nag), I have the time to blog without interruption (mostly), I can shower and go to the loo in complete privacy and without waiting (thanks to an ensuite) and most importantly I can iron every single day of the week and, thankfully, usually without judgement.

Much love everyone,
Jodie xx

Michelin Mark.

One of our life’s luxuries is having weekly dinner menus that read like a restaurant’s. Although I’m not a great lover of cooking Mark seems to care about it an awful lot. I’d even go as far as to say if I was on my own my weekly meals would probably consist of beans on toast and eggs. Whilst Mark, even in my absence, would continue to cook like a chef. Sometimes his best creations come in those times I am away as he gets to throw in things that I would not normally eat.

So let me give you a snapshot of a weekly sitting at our house; easy moussaka pots, teriyaki salmon with parsnip mash, BBQ prawns with herbed potato salad, sumac lamb with coriander yoghurt, warm Persian beef & black-eyed beans with pomegranate salad and turkey & fennel sliders with radish slaw.

You may be able to tell with a list like this that we use both cook books and online recipes. Here is our foolproof system. I sit down most Thursday nights and create the menu for the week, with the odd contribution from the head chef. I write the shopping list whilst creating the menu. On a Friday, after work, I head to mine and my mother’s ‘church’, more commonly known as La Manna Supermarket to collect the goods. The menu is stuck on the fridge for the week and the meals that follow are loving prepared and cooked by Mark and sometimes begrudgingly by me. We have been following this system to close on twenty years.

Being borderline OCD this kind of system is one of those things that helps keep a calmness about our home and reduce the need to make decisions mid week. It is just one of a number of home created routines that I have come to love. I can not tell you how many times we have sat down to dinner and commented on the amazing food we cook, it’s very much a scene from The Castle, we are totally complimentary of ourselves.

On top of the nightly meals Mark is a keen preserver of olives. We live in a suburb where they literally fall off the local trees and he will often walk the streets collecting up this wasted fruit. I’m not a fan but I’m told by olive lovers that they are truly delicious. I’ve taken to calling this olive business ‘The Stolen Olive’ and recently created designer labels to match.

Mark has over the years been a keen home brewer, a very amateur bee keeper and more recently a curer of salmon. His Scandinavian influenced salmon gravelax is quickly becoming a yearly Christmas treat, this I do love and look forward to it in coming weeks. I constantly marvel at his foodie persona and the level of motivation he has to deliver all food he creates at an exceptionally high standard. Sometimes his attention to culinary detail drives me absolutely insane but, at the end of the day, this reviewer gives this home chef three Michelin stars.

Jodie xx