Monday, November 26, 2012

Dark spots belong on dalmatians, giraffes and cheetahs

Lets lighten things up around here shall we?

My last few blog posts have been a tad heavy - unfortunately heavy issues are just that. Heavy. So I make no apologies for that. But because you have all been so patient with me, and read the heavy stuff, I'm doing a give away. The very first for Life on the hill.

Now if you've been reading for a while you will know that I am the budget queen, or known affectionately as Frugal Vicky. Its a title I'm happy to have. I like nice things, and to look after myself as much as the next girl does, but I also have to do it on a budget. Gone are the days where I can buy what I want, when I want it, and not care about the price tag.

About half way through this year I started using Garnier's BB Cream and Pure 3 in 1 cleanser. I have had problem skin since I was pregnant with Nathan - 15 years ago, and have tried EVERYTHING! When I started using these two products, I noticed a significant improvement in my skin after only a couple of weeks. Not only was my skin improving, but my wallets wasn't taking a huge hit in doing so. I'm pretty certain I have told everyone I know about these two products. I got my daughter using them both, and she has gone on to tell her friends as well.

When I saw the promotions for the launch of the new Garnier product Dark Spot Corrector, that helps correct sun spots, age spots and acne marks I was keen to try it. I was just waiting for it to hit the shelves!

Fate intervened, and I was very lucky to be gifted Garnier's new Dark Spot Corrector to trial, as well as the new BB Cream for combination and oily skin.

I have been using both these new products for about the last ten weeks, and LOVE them. I'll be honest and tell you that I have no idea why these products are working so well on my skin. Maybe its the Vitamin C found in both of them... I don't know. All I do know, is that my skin feels, and looks the best it has in a very long time. It is literally glowing. It doesn't appear dull anymore, and feels soft and supple. Which is pretty good going for the nearly 43 year old.

My skin care routine involves minimum effort. I use the Garnier Pure 3 in 1 face wash, Dark Spot Corrector moisturiser, morning and night. In the day, I will put the BB cream on after the moisturiser, and if I'm going out at night, I will use the BB cream as a base for my foundation.

Here are some pictures of before and after. It wasn't until today that I could visually make the comparison when I took a photo. My skin looks a lot more even, definitely more hydrated, and generally healthy.
First picture Beginning of September,
second picture 26/11/12

The biggest difference I can is my skin more
hydrated and looks better

I love that my daughter is happy using the BB cream as well. Its a far better option for her young skin then foundation, with the added bonus of SPF in it, and has helped clear up blemishes on her face.

Garnier have given me the opportunity to give four lucky readers in Australia (sorry, overseas readers) the opportunity to try these products. All you need to do is tell me why you would like to receive a Garnier Dark Spot Corrector and BB Cream Package. Winner will be drawn 10 December 2012.

Disclaimer - Garnier sent me some Dark Spot Corrector and BB cream samples as a thank you for being involved in the twitter conversation on launch night of the Dark Spot Corrector. I have received no payment for this blog post. Opinions are my own. I just honestly love Garnier


Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The thing about moving house is there are a whole lot of new things that you have to get used to. Such as the oven.

I love baking. Firstly because its a cheap and cheerful way to feed my tribe, and secondly, it's something I do when I'm agitated. You can measure just how agitated by the amount of baked goods I produce. At times there is more then can be consumed in a week, and it will end up in the freezer.

Since moving to this new house, I have baked the 120 cookies for $5 five times. Today was the first time I have successfully not burnt a batch! And as I bake to relieve agitation, the burning of said cookies was not agitation relieving at all. Instead, it caused a whole lot of stupid-motherfucking-oven curses.

So let the record show, that today, I mastered the oven and did not burn the cookies.

And just in case you want the recipe -


500 grams of butter or margarine

1 can of condensed milk

5 cups of plain flour

1 cup of white sugar


Cream butter/margarine and sugar until pale yellow

Add sifted flour and condensed milk

Add choc chips, 100s and 1000s, cornflakes, sultanas, rice bubbles, crushed nuts. I usually half the mix and make up two batches of two different types. You can also make jam drops with the plain mixture.

Place a teaspoons of mixture rolled into a ball and then flattened on baking paper lined tray, and bake in 180 degree Celsius oven until golden brown.

I freeze half of this mixture.

Monday, November 19, 2012

He screamed, She screamed, I screamed, We all screamed

The baby screamed from where he lay in his cot. The three year old screamed and banged on the bathroom door. And I sat on the floor on the other side of the bathroom door, sobbing. This is not how it is supposed to be. What is wrong with me?
I faintly heard the knocking at the door through Nathan's screaming. Laura had gone to the door, and come back to the closed bathroom door to tell me that Deanna, my next door neighbour, was here. Great.
I looked in the mirror, and a stranger stared back at me. There was no point trying to hide the puffy eyes, she had obviously heard all the screaming. No point denying that it was all fun and fairy floss at my house! I opened the bathroom door and Laura's scared and confused little face peered up at me. I could see it in her eyes, Where's my mummy gone?
I grabbed the hic-coughing Nathan out of the cot. Hot white shame washed over me with each step I took to the front door.
Are you OK? She asked through the screen door. No, I replied, but it's OK. Martin will be home soon. Just having a bad day. Her look of concern cut through me like a knife. Don't pity me. Don't pity me. Don't pity me, played through my head on repeat. I could see what she saw as she stood there looking at me. bedraggled mumma, with baby on her hip, that was crying that quiet little cry that they do when they have been crying for so long there is no longer any sound - you know the one, intake of shuddering breath, sniff - Toddler wrapped around her leg, with a look of utter bewilderment on her face.
This was so far away from my first experience of motherhood. This wasn't motherhood. This was a nightmare that never stopped.
She reluctantly left, after I assured her repeatedly that I was OK, that Martin was going to be home soon, that it was just a bad day. I closed the door,and heavily leaned against it. I can't do this anymore. I don't want to do this anymore. Make it stop.
Nathan had fallen asleep against me. Exhausted. I lay him down on the Laura's little fold out lounge, and put the ABC kids shows on for Laura. When Laura was born my best friend, who was learning to be a midwife, had given me a book written by a mother after her child was born. It talked about all the changes and feelings she'd experienced. I had only glanced at it after Laura was born. I hadn't needed it. Life after Laura had been idyllic. Life after Nathan was anything but.
While Nathan slept, and Laura watched TV, I went to the bookshelf and searched for the book. I flicked to the index and scanned the pages, anxiously seeking ... something. An explanation? An answer? I don't know. Just.. anything. I found what I was looking for Post Partum Depression, Post Natal Depression. I read each reference, including the long list of symptoms, and for the first time in 8 months since Nathan was born, everything became blindingly clear.
No wonder my reasoning of once my mother in law goes home everything will be alright, once Christmas is over everything will be, once the christening is over everything will, once Nathan starts eating solids everything, once he starts sleeping through the night, once I had finished this assignment, once this, once that.... was amounting to fuck all. I was so far away from OK, that I didn't even know what OK looked like.
Standing there hissing at Nathan to just go the fuck to sleep, and then standing in my back yard crying so I had removed myself away from him was not what OK looked like.
Walking around the block with gritted teeth and clenched fists the minute Martin got home from work was not what OK looked like.
Hissing for fucks sake more times then I care to remember as I heaved this lump of a crying child on to my hip because I had dared to put him down for two seconds and had left his field of vision was not what OK looked like.
Snapping my beautiful girl's head off because she had asked me to play with her was not what OK looked like.
Dreaming of getting in the car and driving away - anywhere but where I was - was not what OK looked like.
I had isolated myself from people, everything was too hard. It was too hard to have people around, and too hard to go and visit people. It was too hard to do anything. It was too hard to even breathe.
I made an appointment with my GP for the next day, and with my own self diagnosis in hand went and saw her. And cried. She agreed that it was Post Natal Depression and prescribed an anti-depressant that had been approved by the World Health Organisation as safe to have while breast feeding, but did suggest I attempt weaning Nathan. Nathan wasn't up for that suggestion, and when I went back two weeks later for follow up she advised me to leave it. The stress of trying to wean him was not worth it.
 the picture I held until I met my son
A month after I started on the anti-depressants I started to feel better. The world that had all its colour leached out, started to return to its full techni-colour glory. I could feel the sunshine, and my soul didn't feel as black and hollow. A couple of months after starting medication, I remember taking Nathan for a walk in the pram along the river. It was a gorgeous late winter's morning, one filled with the promise of spring. He fell asleep, and I sat in the shade writing out a list of all the things that I had felt contributed to me ending up the black hole of PND, and then worked out which ones I could actually do something about.
holding Nathan for the first time
There weren't a lot that I could change. Most of the things were circumstantial. I couldn't change him arriving early, or me not seeing or holding him for ten hours after he was born. I couldn't change not seeing Laura meet her little brother for the first time. I couldn't change getting an infection in my Cesarean section site, or mastitis. Or the myriad of other things that happened. But I could defer uni, I could put him into day care one day a week, I could start exercising, I could start looking after me without feeling guilty and I could accept and let go of the things I couldn't change.
I remember so clearly how I felt that day. Relief. And hope. Relief that I was going to be OK. Hope that I was going to be OK.
Hindsight - the ability to understand, after something has happened, what should have been done or what caused the event - enabled me to be able to take action when I was pregnant with Aston. I knew while I was pregnant with him that I was suffering from depression. I chose not to take medication while I was pregnant, but started 3 months after he was born. I also started counselling. If there was one thing I would do differently during my experience of PND with Nathan, it would be that. I would go to counselling. I wish that my doctor had recommended it, and that I'd gone. In my opinion medication isn't enough.While anti-depressant medication will get you to a place where you no longer feel like you're going to drown, I believe that it is the combination of both medication and counselling of some sort that will be of the greatest benefit.
Look at my eyes - they tell the story
I have written this post as part of PANDA (Post Ante Natal Depression Assoc.) Postnatal Depression Awareness Week. I truly believe that information is empowering, and that sharing our stories helps to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. The feelings of isolation and shame are greatly lifted when you know you are not alone. That you are not the only person feeling this way. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
PND is not limited to women. 1 in 7 Mums and 1 in 20 Dads are diagnosed with postnatal depression each year. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing any of the following, I strongly encourage you to reach out. PANDA NATIONAL HELPLINE: 1300 726 306

1. Signs and symptoms of postnatal depression - general
Symptoms can begin anywhere from 24 hours to several months after delivery
·Sleep disturbance unrelated to babys sleep
·Changes in appetite
·Crying - feeling sad and crying without apparent reason OR feeling like you want to cry but cant
·Feelings of being overwhelmed, out of control, unable to cope
·Negative obsessive thoughts
·Fear of being alone OR withdrawing from family and friends
·Memory difficulties and loss of concentration
·Feeling guilty and inadequate
·Loss of confidence and self-esteem
2. Signs and symptoms of postnatal depression - men
Symptoms can begin anywhere from 24 hours to several months after delivery
·Tiredness, headaches and pain
·Irritability, anxiety and anger
·Loss of libido
·Changes in appetite
·Feelings of being overwhelmed, out of control and unable to cope
·Engaging in risk taking behaviour
·Feelings of isolation and disconnection from partner, friends or family
·Withdrawal from intimate relationships and from family, friends and community life
·Increased hours of work as a part of the withdrawal from family etc.
·Increased use of drugs or alcohol instead of seeking treatment for depression

For more information and resources visit the PANDA site.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I fail at being a girl

There are times when I really fail at being a girl.

The whole menstratuion thing. Periods. You'd think after 30 fucking years of getting them, month after month, with the expection of the wonderful break of 3 x 9 months, I would be used to this.

But no. Each month I am knocked on my arse with fatigue, pain, and malaise. And each month I tell myself to be gentle, to embrace my femaleness, to celebrate it. All in the hope that by doing so being knocked on my arse will not feel so horrid. I have come to the conclusion that I can embrace my feminity until the moon turns blue, its aint gonna change the way my period effects me. I think I just need to embrace the fact that painkillers and my hotwater bottle are my best friends for one week of the month.

I can see why it was nicknamed the curse. For me it fucking is.

Please tell me I'm not alone.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

There is an awful lot you CAN do in Canberra, just don't plan on doing it in a weekend.

Sunday morning I woke cranky, and overtired. I didn't think the hours difference due to daylight savings would wreck such havoc with my body clock. But that, and the incredibly full schedule for the day before, had me feeling somewhat exhausted.

Needless to say, I was grateful that the mornings proceedings involved brunch at the Australian National Botanical Gardens, where if you were so inclined you could go and meander through the beautiful walks, or do as I did, lay on a picnic blanket, and listen to the music, and eat the amazing food in the hamper made by Floresco in the Gardens, full of fresh produce featuring Australian bush foods.

After brunch we were off to the Old Bus Depot Markets and the Canberra Glassworks. Unfortunately, 45 minutes to go through the  markets didn't do it the justice it deserved.
After speed shopping through the markets, we went on a tour of the Glassworks. Incredibly beautiful pieces of art, in the forms of bowls, vases, glasses, jewellery. The glassworks is housed in Canberra's oldest industrial building -
Canberra Glassworks is housed inside the existing fabric of the Kingston Powerhouse has carefully preserved the heritage values of this iconic Canberra building. Many of the original finishes and fittings remain and the building includes a range of heritage interpretation signage to give visitors a glimpse into the past life of the building.
The Kingston Powerhouse is Canberra’s oldest permanent public building. It was built between 1913 and 1915 and was designed by the Federal Government architect, J S Murdoch. Murdoch also designed other important heritage buildings in Canberra such as Old Parliament House and its East and West Blocks, Gorman House, the Hotel Canberra (now the Hyatt) and the Kurrajong Hotel.
The Powerhouse was originally intended to be a temporary structure and was used to supply Canberra with coal-generated electricity from 1915, continuing to operate as a powerhouse until 1957. - from the Canberra Glassworks

Look closely and you can see a face

While there we saw part of a demonstration of glass blowing occurring, an art form I have great admiration for. I know without any hesitation that I would have neither the patience or strength to do what they do.
Then we got to the bit I had been waiting for all weekend. The creative bit. We got to make our own glass tile. I love doing anything where I learn a new creative process, and this is a process that I would love to explore further. Unfortunately, I think it's an expensive medium to learn, so I will have to investigate that one further.


I am incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in the human brochure. It was a huge undertaking. Other then being shattered by the time I got home on Sunday night, and at times feeling like I was on a travel agency junket, I did have a fabulous time. I had been to Canberra as a child of 9, then 12, when I did the obligatory school trip and then again as an adult. And I had always had the opinion that Canberra was a somewhat sterile city. My opinion was challenged and changed. It's a beautiful city, green, and clean, and rich with activities, places and experiences to be had by pretty much anyone.

Just don't plan on doing it all in a weekend.

Stories - we all have them

For me blogging is a place where I can record my story. My truth. My passions and views. Some will resonate with others, some may inform and educate, some may just be the recognition of a kindred spirit fighting her fight, living her life, in the same way they are.

That is what the National Museum of Australia is like. A place full of stories. Where our stories live, to borrow their tagline. Its a place full of stories from the varied and different cultures that make up this country. It's an amazing place. From the architecture - a building designed to look like a knot, representing the diversity in this country - to the displays telling stories from different perspectives and points in history.

I could have stayed there all day. There was so much to see, and learn and experience. Stories to be told and heard.


We were lucky enough to see behind the scenes, and see curators at work on restoring items to be displayed. It was wonderful to hear people talk about their passion with such enthusiasm and excitement. It was contagious.



This passion and enthusiasm carried onto where we had lunch at Two before Ten. This cafe roasts their own beans, so the place smells amazing. (And the view was pretty good too ;) ) I can honestly say it was the best cappuccino I have ever had anywhere. The food was delicious, starting with a tasting platter of different meats with a salad, and ending with a tasting platter of desserts that were sublime.

After having our taste buds tantalised, we were taken to another place that is full of stories, the National Film and Sound Archives. I didn't even know such a place even existed. It is the place where anything recorded or filmed in Australia is kept, where film and sound from days long gone are restored and kept for You and for me.

Unless you work in the recording or film industry, we have no appreciation for the amount of work that goes into something we listen to, or watch. To see and hear the people who work at the NFSA was for me a gift. Again, these were people who LOVE what they do. It was evident in the way they spoke with such passion.

With a quick stop back to the hotel (no rest for the wicked, or this exhausted little vegemite!), we got ready to go out to dinner.

There were two restaurants that our stream would be going to -  Ginger Catering at the old Parliament house, and The Messalira Ristorante  We dined at Messalira. The service was impecable, and the food... oh my... the food.

This was one of my favorite events of the weekend. The opportunity to sit down and relax, not having to race anywhere was a welcome respite after a very busy day. It was a time to meet new people, where we were able to share some of our own stories, and connect together as humans.

Lest we forget

The opening function for the Human Brochure was at the Australian War Memorial. All streams, Adventure, Family Fun, Food and Wine, and Art and Culture all came together to be welcomed, and shown a snap shot of of Australia's history in war.

The building is magnificent, solid and strong, standing at the end of Anzac Parade, where Parliament House can see it, and remember. (That's the theory, how much remembering happens is a topic I'm not keen to touch on). Lined along Anzac Parade is memorial after memorial, beautiful monuments built in recognition of the soldiers lost fighting for this country.

War for me is an exercise in futility. Loss of human life over perimeters of land, religion, economics, or what appears to me as pure insanity, makes no sense. I hit a brick wall when it comes to understanding. I know the why and wherefore, but still... Maybe it's the peace loving mung bean hippy in me.

Regardless of how I feel about war, I was humbled, and after watching a short film directed by Peter Jackson, in awe. The young men that flew those planes that had not long been invented, were brave beyond belief. None of this computerised high tech super sonic airplanes. Planes that they sat in, unprotected from not only enemy fire, but the forces of nature.

There is a rich history of war memorabilia at the Australian War memorial. Far more then I was able to see in the short reception that was held there. It is a place that needs hours to explore to really appreciate.

When we were telling the kids about the War Memorial, my boys response was "When can we go there?".


Flying is ok as long as you don't have to do it in a plane

I'm not a good flyer. Why, I haven't quite worked out, because I've been on and off planes since I was six weeks old and left my birth place New Zealand.

The fact that I would have to actually get on a plane to get to Canberra to participate in the Human Brochure was something I kind of buried away in the back of my brain until Thursday. Then as I started working out what I was taking with me, throwing clothes onto the bed, the anxiety started leeching in. I tried ignoring it. Hah. Ever tried ignoring anxiety? It's like telling someone to not think of pink elephants.

The anxiety just continued to amp, as well as the excitement. And the self doubt. "Who do I think I am? Some refined travel blogger/ social media queen/ writer even?!" Then I reminded myself that I was chosen to go on this trip. Everything else is irrelevant. After trying to pack my bag, which succeeded in me running around from room to room forgetting what it was that I was actually trying to do, M said to me come and watch some TV. I had to pick Laura up from work at 9 anyway I told myself, I'd pack when I got home.

Instead I decided to go to bed, and dreamt of Eden and her trip to India. Who knows why. I've given up trying to figure out how my brain works. All I know is that I think she's a legend, even if she doesn't. And she inspires me to be better, speak louder, use my voice.

We set the alarm for 4.30. Kind of needed to, as otherwise the clothes that I had dumped on the lounge to take were not going to make it into the bag. I have a few lessons still to learn on being poised and organised from Nikki over at Styling You.

We managed to get out the door at 6.15, a good idea, because as soon as we hit the highway so were 1000s of other people. We arrived at the place we were leaving our car just before 7am, and took the free shuttle up the road to the airport. As I get closer to the airport, anxiety starts really letting itself known. Feeling my blood pumping, throat closing, skin tingling, we approached then Qantas check in.
This looks like the face of someone eagerly waiting to fly doesn't it?

Everything is becoming automated now. None of this walking up to a counter and speaking to a human. There are banks of check in machines - type your name in, select your flight, out spits your board pass and luggage stickers, which you have to stick on yourself, obviously. In amongst that process, as we were shown the seats we were allocated on the plane, there on the screen is one seat highlighted in one row, and another highlighted several rows back. I don't know what my face did, I just knew the rest of my body was about to launch into outer space! Thankfully M grabbed one of the humans milling around to assist and told them that I have panic attacks and are not a good flyer. He directed us to the customer service counter and they very kindly seated us together. Thank god, because I was shaking at this stage, and tears were very close to falling. Needless to say, I had another Valium.

Once we had ascended, and I was able to let go of my claw like grip on Ms thigh, I read. A few minutes out from descending into Canberra we hit some turbulence. My eyes slammed shut, and my claw returned to gripping Ms thigh. there was a little boy a few rows in front of us who squealed with delight, while I gripped Ms thigh harder. Stupid anxiety.

We arrived in Canberra at 11.30am. We had been told to look out for the humans carrying the The Human Brochure sign. It wasn't hard to miss. There were several different participants from different streams coming from Brisbane, so we had the opportunity to see which hotel each stream would be staying at. According to the twitter stream, all streams were happy with their accommodation. I was ecstatic with ours.


The Arts and Culture stream were staying at The Diamant, originally built in 1927, to house parliamentary staff. The building has been fully refurbished with some amazing artwork displayed throughout. The service was impeccable, and I would have to say probably one of the best hotels I have ever stayed at.

Chocolate Rocks came with the bill!

As we had a few hours to kill before the opening function at 6pm that night, I was able to catch up with family. They own a printing company Prinstant, and had very kindly made me my business cards. They gave us an impromptu tour of Canberra after we lunched at Rodney's in Pialligo, a lovely cafe set amongst the Nursery area.
Metaphorically wall hitting

Getting up at 4.30, and losing an hour resulted in M and I hitting the metaphorical wall at 3pm, and a much needed nap on our lovely king size bed was required. Otherwise I would be a babbling incoherent human at that nights function. (Who am I kidding, I was still a babbling incoherent human.)


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