30 January 2013

Blogging back in the Diaryland days. Evolution.

(Photo by Tash)


I've been blogging for years. I've been reading blogs longer than I've been writing them, and I wanted to join in. I felt like I had something to offer, even when my writing wasn't so refined. I started my first blog on Diaryland when I was 19. It was 10 April 2001. I had printed out some of the 'best' (read: not that good in hindsight) entries, and I found the wad of paper when cleaning my spare bedroom over the weekend. My posts were written almost 12 years ago, and though it doesn't feel like very much time has passed, reading through my words shows just how much I've grown.

While I am mindful of being a responsible blogger in my current blogging foray, I had a lot to learn back then. I'd blog about working at a department store, mention other peoples' names (though seemingly never mine) when they probably didn't know I was writing about them, and I would copy and paste a lot of sad song lyrics. I'd write about Big Brother and Popstars - two things that I have no interest in now. I did write a lot about Felicity though - that love hasn't gone.The writing wasn't great - in fact, it was lazy - with excessive use of "cos", "kinda" and ellipses... The blog post topics were not so cohesive, some were brief and many were just Twitter-length fleeting thoughts (but not so quick witted) rather than exploring topics on a deeper level. To be honest, it was a boring read. Maybe it's because I hadn't had enough life experience as a 19 year old? Or maybe it was because I didn't give enough of myself on my blog.

What struck me most about these blog posts from 2001 was just how little I revealed about myself. It was as though I kept my online life so separate to my "real life" - I suppose hid my face and any information about my Ichthyosis from the world so that I could be a different person to people I had never met.

I was so reserved about the real me then. I was too scared to show my face on my blog because I feared no one would like it, just like no one liked it in the world I lived in then. 

I blogged about being proud of my low weight and being ashamed of my appearance. Two things I never do now. How I've changed - now I edit for better quality writing, and not so much parts of my life I think others won't accept. 

From 5 August 2001:
Seeing I was feeling a bit down, and found out I only weighed 50.5 kg this week, I decided to splurge and buy a Wonka Wicked Choc Mud Sludge bar, because there was a chance of winning a golden ticket.  

I wondered why weight was so important to me then? A low weight especially. Did it come down to the magazines I read? Was it the nightclubs I visited, the way I'd get excited that a drunk boy had noticed my cleavage before my face? Was it that I was finally starting to feel like I was fitting, and so had to maintain some sense of normalcy? The way my body feels, moves and copes is far more important to me now. 


I remember my online interactions from 1999 to 2001 (and probably beyond) - I'd use ICQ, and later online dating, fall in love with boys on there, they'd reciprocate (I think?), and I'd take a big metaphorical breath before sending them my photo, because I feared knew they wouldn't like me beyond my words. Some did. Many didn't, and openly mocked my appearance

From 4 April 2001:
I get worried about sending people my picture online, so I have devised a strategy to overcome the nerves: I send a pic of me next to a gorgeous person, and that way, the gorgeous person would take the attention away from me. Kinda like a decoy.

There seemed to be a mix of mistrust and kinship in the early days of interacting on the Internet. There probably still is. Mistrust in the sense that you thought anyone you spoke to online could be a murderer or a fraudster, and kinship in that you experience the "oh my god someone relates to how I feel and what I'm experiencing and that's never happened in my real life before!!". These two feelings tumbled around each other, never quite stopping to a calm. I didn't show my face or mention my name on that blog.

I hinted that there may be something wrong with me, that I may look different on that Diaryland blog. But I never came out and said it on that blog, nor the two subsequent blogs I had after that. And then one day I did. I introduced myself in my first post on this blog as having a chronic illness, as looking different. I don't know what prompted to be so open about my appearance on the internet. I guess it was the realisation that life online was real life. And the more I wrote, the more I became comfortable with the way I look

How long have you been blogging? What does your first blog or blog post say about you? Have you grown through writing?

Kirsty has a little link up over here - how fitting, considering my weekend find!

29 January 2013

Mother daughter time - laughter, art and Wonderbao

Mum came to stay this weekend. We had a good time together - eating, drinking, cleaning, and soaking in Melbourne's culture. I love how well we get along - even when we do have an argument, it usually ends in laughter. It was fun - thanks for coming Mum!

We started our weekend waiting for a bus on Friday night. We waited. And waited. And waited some more. So we took some photos. Mum tends to be very serious when she has photos. I am not sure what I said to make her laugh so hard, but this was the result!
I bought a new dress recently - it's from Elwood (the store, not the suburb). It has a tie back neckline - not something I'd usually pick for myself, but I loved it on the mannequin and had to have it. I have been wearing it with a cream cardi, but it was nippy on Friday night, so I grabbed my pastel blazer, which I prefer to my cardi.
 
 And we got a stranger to take this photo. I love it, will get it framed.
 
No photos of dinner - I know, right! We had Mexican with Bern - she is so incredibly stylish and lovely. On Saturday morning, Mum and I did some cleaning, attended to a washing machine disaster and and a home cooked breakfast. We then set off to the city where we saw some sculptures at Federation Square. These are called Paparazzi Dogs, created by Gillie and Marc. Newshounds. I love them! They're at Federation Square until 30 April.

  
Mum wanted to see the Stickwork sculpture - or the nests, as she called it. We saw a bride and groom posing in the sculpture - very cute.
I love this sculpture so much. I have visited it three times now! I love how you can see Melbourne's buildings through the woven windows.
 
And we ate at a little hidey-hole off A'Beckett Street - these amazing pork buns are from Wonderbao. They were similar to what we ate at Momofuku when we were in New York. Steamed buns filled with juicy rich pork belly, carrot, cucumber and hoisin sauce.And only $3.80 each! So yum! I also had an egg custard bun which was so good - I could have eaten more than I did. Apparently the silken tofu bun is the star of the show. I'll definitely be back!
 
And as we walked down the laneways exiting Wonderbao, we saw some street art in progress - the artists were beginning to paint this beautiful lady's arms, outstretched around the corners of the walls. She's located behind Little la Trobe Street.

It was fun being a tourist in my own city! Hope you had a good time, Mum :)

PS: as I write this, I am watching the flood crisis in Queensland and Northern NSW - such devastation, again. My thoughts are with you up there - keep safe.


24 January 2013

10 years in Melbourne - I love this city!

10 years ago today I set off down the Hume Highway and made a new home in Melbourne. It is hard to believe I've lived here just over a third of my life. I'm so glad I've made the move. Melbourne's the place that's made me whole, allowed me to blend in, allowed me to be myself, and allowed me to stand out. All at once.


When I first moved here, I would explore like a tourist, I'd take a tram to anywhere, looking out of the window in awe, marvelling that this city is my home now.
I have good friends here. It's a community. I love that even among four million people, I can still bump into someone I know. And when the city feels too big, I can call my parents (every day) for a chat. I do.

I don't mind the weather. Melbourne goes through many costume changes - grey coats, full skirted midnight blue gowns dotted with rhinestones, and cornflower sundresses. She's a stylish one. I like that for the majority of the year, it's cool, and knowing that even when it's ridiculously hot, it will probably be close to half that temperature the next day!



I love that some of the world is brought to me in the form of cafe strips, flash restaurants and cafe strips. If I take the train just for one stop, I can alight then choose from Malaysian, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese,Thai, various African, pizza, Mexican, and the Golden Arches if I want.

I love the culture. Just last weekend I saw Perfect Tripod featuring Eddie Perfect and Tripod at the Arts Centre (and Eddie Perfect remembered my name!!), and then I saw Chrissie Swan, Virginia Gay, Care Kennedy, Stella Young and Steph Hughes read out letters they'd written to themselves at Women of Letters. I love the street art and the music scene.

 



I love living alone - the thought of coming home to do whatever I want is a wonderful one. Cooking excites me, I'm ok with cooking for one. This year I'm learning to be a better housekeeper. It's about time.

I love this city. I love being able to call it home. Look how she sparkles.

21 January 2013

[Video] Samuel Johnson chats about Love Your Sister


 
Samuel Johnson, one of Australia's most recognisable young actors and voice-over artists, is training eight to nine hours a day on a unicycle. He's resting up where he can, even in steel circles in parks. Because in February, Samuel will embark on a trip around Australia on a unicycle. That's 15,000 km over a year. He's doing it for his sister Connie, who's dying of breast cancer.
Samuel and Connie have set up the Love Your Sister charity to raise awareness about breast cancer and $1 Million for the Garvan Research Foundation and The Cancer Support Group. The unicycle trip is a challenge Connie set for Samuel as her legacy.

Samuel met me for a chat about Love Your Sister, Connie and the 36 inch wheel that will be getting him around Australia. While we kept our chat quite light, the reality of Connie's terminal illness - and the many, many other cancer patients -  is so very sad. It made me reflect on the people in my life who have been touched by cancer.

You can watch our chat below. Mum, Dad - I hope you are watching because I set Samuel a challenge that involves you and haggis...


 

I wanted to see Samuel in action, so he gave me a demo on his unicycle. There were some kids playing in the park and they were so excited to see him cycle.



Samuel has asked me to help him out with promoting Love Your Sister, so look out for some more updates of his journey. I'd love it if you got involved too - promoting and donating where you can. We all have women in our lives who can benefit from Samuel and Connie's mission.
For more information, updates on Samuel's unicycle journey and to donate, visit Love Your Sister's website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


19 January 2013

The man who told me he was a rapist - a small update.

Remember just before Christmas I wrote about the man who told me he was a rapist? Thank you so much for your comments on that post, and particularly the reassurance you gave me about telling the bar staff and calling CrimeStoppers. I have an update on that event. Not huge progress, but an update that I want to share with you.

Last Wednesday I returned to my desk after a meeting to find some missed calls and a text message asking me to call Victoria Police. After being told by CrimeStoppers that it's doubtful my call would lead to anything, I didn't expect a follow up on the matter. And so I didn't expect to get a call from the police - was my unit broken into? Were my parents ok?

I returned the call, reaching the sexual assault centre. A police officer asked me to give a more detailed report of what happened that night - I had to recount what happened, and how I felt. I told her that the incident was only verbal - nothing came of this man's words, and she told me it was good that I made the initial call, just in case. I told her that while it was probably the alcohol talking, I didn't want to do nothing. She told me that this information I provided to her will be filed away, and may jog her memory when investigating a future case. She also said she will speak to the pub staff and check out the CCTV footage if it's available.

After the call, I talked with someone who used to be a police officer dealing in sexual assault - they said it was often these small leads that enabled the perpetrator to be caught.

The call from the police showed me that they do take these matters seriously and do follow up on reports. I didn't feel silly for reporting this incident that was only made up of a few conversations.

If you experience a situation like I did - or worse - I urge you to report it. You never know the difference that your report could make to someone else's safety.

My blog post has also been republished on The Peach - I extended the original a little with my reasons for calling CrimeStoppers, and also left a comment about the idea of clothes inviting unwanted attention.

You can read it here.







If you need immediate emergency assistance call 000.

If you want to report suspicious behaviour call CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.

If you need to talk to a crisis line call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

17 January 2013

Blessed by Brenna - the story of an adorable baby with Ichthyosis. My guest post.

You may have seen me mention a blog called Blessed By Brenna before. Brenna is a beautiful baby living in Illinois America - she has Ichthyosis as well - though her's is Harlequin Ichthyosis. Brenna was born in December 2011 and her Mum Courtney has kept a blog since Brenna's birth. Courtney has documented Brenna's journey - she's been extremely honest and heartfelt in writing about the very difficult times and also the very happy times. Brenna - and also Courtney, her husband Evan, and Brenna's big brother Connor - have certainly had a trying first year, but there have been so many triumphs like Brenna's smiles, her first time rolling over and her first birthday party. Look! The cuteness! (I too have a thing for The Hungry Caterpillar.)

 

I visit Blessed By Brenna every day, and I love seeing Brenna's developments - and that beautiful smile. I have cried in empathy and squeeeed in delight while reading many of Courtney's words and looking over the photos. I cheer at at the moon-sized milestones Brenna achieves. And I wince when I see her skin red raw. In all honesty, it is difficult knowing the pain and social challenges of this condition affects others, especially a baby so tiny and unable to articulate their feelings. Life's not fair, but life is also blessed, and I also know that Brenna has and will continue to have many wonderful moments because of and despite of her Ichthyosis.

Courtney's writing helps me realise and better appreciate what my parents went through in raising me. Parenting a small child with such an unexpected, complex, painful and unpredictable illness is certainly a challenge. I have also learnt a few treatment and laundry tips from Courtney - if only some of those products were available in Australia!


She and Evan are doing a wonderful job with Brenna and I am so pleased that they have support from their local Illinois community as well as the whole world - which blogging has enabled. I imagine the great unknown looms darkly with having a seriously ill baby like Brenna, but there is light and comfort in having the support from others who have lived with the condition, and also from those that don't have Ichthyosis and may never have heard of it until they read a blog. I particularly love that like me, Courtney and Evan are raising awareness about Ichthyosis by being in control of their story - to avoid sensationalism of a rare and often confronting condition and appearance. Courtney wrote a great response to recent exploitation of Ichthyosis on social media.

Courtney and I keep in touch on Twitter, and she asked me to write a guest post for here blog. I wanted to give the message that Brenna will grow up to be OK, just like me. You can read my full post here.

 
Thank you for featuring me, Courtney, and I hope to meet you all in person one day soon! (Though you'll have double the greasy fingerprints!) I certainly feel 'Blessed By Brenna' and I thank you and the other Ichthyosis bloggers out there for sharing your stories, and for the support and awareness blogging about Ichthyosis has generated.

You can read Brenna's summarised story here. You can also like her Facebook page to keep informed about Brenna's milestones and gush over her cute pictures between blog posts.

 

16 January 2013

Pyramid scheme healthcare products are not miracle cures. My 'Iridescents' moment.

The way the cast of The Secret Life of Us lived back in the early 2000s was the way I imagined living in Melbourne would be when I moved here almost 10 years ago. It turns out, I don't really even like St Kilda, but I have been to the awesome apartments with the rooftop that overlooks the beach, and I know Samuel Johnson. This past month, I have been thinking about a few episodes of the show a lot. I have always related to the characters in some way - finding my feet as an adult, confusion of love, career goals, feeling lost, feeling on top of the world. But it was an incident that happened last month that made me feel like it may be the closest I come to living like a Secret Lifer.

Remember when Kelly got figuratively hypnotised into selling placebo pills through a pyramid scheme? She bumps into an old school friend (not really a friend) who claims to be in "the health industry" and invites Kelly over to her place for some drinks. In place of drinks, her friend whips out a whiteboard, spews forth some affirmations, and convinces Kelly she can be living her dream life by participating in Network Marketing.

Absolutely not selling!

(source)

"All you need to do is tell a few of your friends how well these vitamins are, and bingo! Instant income and instant fulfilment!" Kelly's friend tells her. Her friend's business partner adds, "For just a few hours a week Kelly, just be talking to your friends, you can have total financial and spiritual freedom". Through pills. Iridescents. Absolutely not selling, and absolutely a cure all for every ailment.

Kelly is initially sceptic, and then convinced. Armed with some jars of Iridescents tablets, she listens to an audio book - it too spurts out the same hypnotic, naively empowering catchphrases as her opportunistic acquaintances - phrases like "choose a life of prosperity and joy", "choose abundance and financial wealth" and "understand the satisfaction of empowering others and empowering yourself". After taking in the book's contents, she's in a trance.

Kelly invites some friends to the flat she shares with Evan and Alex for an information session about Iridescents. Evan is cynical, asking questions about income and expenses. The pyramid sellers aren't buying his relevant points.

Kelly spends $70 a bottle on the Iridescents to on sell to others. She claims she has never felt better. Even though, as Evan points out, there was nothing wrong with her. There's no medical proof behind the tablets, despite the testaments from Average Joes. Kelly "talks to her friends and shares what she knows". She's persistent. Her friends are cynical. In the end, Kelly sells very few tablets and she only makes a few cents over $27. And no serious illness was cured.

(source)

I totally had an Iridescents moment recently. The moment where Kelly tries to sell me Iridescents to cure me. I've had a few Iridescents moments in my life actually. I often get unsolicited and unwanted medical advice, including these "healthcare" pyramid sellers - with no medical background - who see opportunity in me, to further their own riches. A few years back Mum sent someone over with half a dozen bottles of a weird concoction of mangosteen juice, similar to Noni juice, for me to trial without payment. If I saw healing effects from drinking the juice, I could purchase more bottles. No harm was done, but I saw no healing effects. I had one bottle it tasted awful. Another bottle accidentally fell from the cupboard and smashed all over the floor, leaving a temporary red stain in the grout. I threw out the rest of the bottles.

Last month I met someone over a group lunch. He asked me what I do, I told him I am a writer, that I have a blog. I explained that my blog could be described as 'health activism from a patient perspective'. "I work in health too", he told me. Oh really, are you a doctor? are you one of those in Secret Life of Us?!, I thought, wondering whether this was his second career, and he practices doctoring on the side. Something about stem cells, he told me. I thought about my friend who is receiving stem cell treatment to be able to walk again, and thought it might be a bit like that. I continued lunching, and carried on other conversations.

After lunch, he farewelled our group, and handed me his card and some pamphlets, selling his business. A pyramid scheme health business! It was the stem cell treatment form of Iridescents. The pamphlets featured lots of graphs and long words, the only one I could distinguish featured 'algae'. Of course there were no prices in the pamplets. One was specially targeted at healing skin, a headline screamed that taking these tablets would lead to SMOOTHER YOUNGER SKIN IN SEVEN DAYS!!!!! But my skin does that naturally, overnight! Take that, wannabe Iridescents. KAPOW!

I received a call from him the day after our lunch. He invited me to speak at a marketing event for these tablets. I asked what sort of things he'd want me to talk about. Healthcare and blogging, he said. I told him I can do, but I charge a fee. He said he could only pay me in product. I was polite but firm in telling him my thoughts:

I told him I can't use the product because I only use what my dermatologist has prescribed me, and even then I ask lots of questions about side effects so I can make informed decisions. He said he had done some research on my condition ("how do you pronounce it again?" he asked me) and thought it'd be suitable for me as he's seen it improve peoples' eczema.

I explained Ichthyosis is not eczema, and told him a story of when I took some allergy medication for some painful ears, as recommended by my trusted pharmacist. The medication caused a bigger allergic reaction which made me extremely sore for two weeks. I wasn't able to walk, I wasn't able to use my hands. My whole body peeled red raw. I also said I will only promote products I believe in and use, and so I can't speak at his event, whether I spruik the product or not. He understood.

While he probably meant well, he was an opportunist. He saw dollar signs in my redness. I imagine he wanted to show that these tablets were on their way to curing my rare condition as fast as money was draining from my bank account. I was disappointed that he felt qualified to suggest a dodgy, costly tablet would help a serious medical condition that until meeting me, he had no idea about.

I worry that these pyramid sellers prey on vulnerable people desparate for a cure. I worry that these pyramid schemes do more for lining the pockets of opportunists than healing the sick. I worry they believe these products work, and try to convince people (with and without illnesses) that they can be used alongside or instead of prescribed treatment - be it treatment from a doctor, pharmicist or registered alternative therapist.

I strongly believe being a pyramid seller of a magic cure all tablet like Iridescents does not make a person a healthcare worker. People should not take opportunity in others' illness, or even wellness, to benefit their own finances. We are not here so you can try to perform miracles by selling us these products. We are not food for your Tupperware.

If you are offered a 'miracle cure' like Iridescents, I recommend you do some research on the product and speak to your doctor before taking it, and if in Australia, consider reporting the miracle cure to the ACCC ScamWatch.

I also recommend you watch the entire four series of The Secret Life of Us. It's so wonderful. Especially the snippets of the Motor Ace song between episodes.

Have you been offered a miracle cure product for your illness? Did you buy and try it? Did it work?

PS: are you following me on social media? I'm on active Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

14 January 2013

Balding.

Sometimes I read a piece of writing, and it takes me back to an experience I've had. I was so moved when I read an article on Daily Life by Katie Fridkis (visit her great blog Eat the Damn Cake) about her experience of hairloss in her early 20s. Katie writes about initially feeling self conscious about her hair loss to having to use a male hair growth product, associating hair with femininity and finally owning her hair loss by shaving her head and exposing her peach fuzz scalp to the world. She received so many compliments about how great she looked, and she came to love her appearance again. The comments under Katie's article also showed how hair loss in makes can also decrease self confidence.

I thought back to when I lost a large portion of my hair between the age of 14 and 17-ish. Though I did not go completely bald, and I certainly can't compare it to a cancer patient losing their hair, the hair loss certainly impacted on my confidence and dare I say it, ability to feel beautiful.


A symptom of the variation of Ichthyosis I have is brittle hair - or 'bamboo hair' as described in medical texts. When I was a baby, and also as a pre-schooler - as Mum tells me, my hair fell out. My parents thought that I was going to go through life without hair. Fortunately my hair growth has sustained, and I've managed to have the same hairdo since I began school! A few years back, my dermatologist showed me my old patient notes from when I was six years old. My only dream was to have long hair. That dream has never come true, though while away on holidays last year, my hair was touching my shoulders when wet and I was very excited about that! Though my curls give the facade that my hair is voluminous, my hair is actually quite fine.

The hair loss as a teenager came at a time when I was at my least confident. When I just wanted to fit in and not look any more different than I already did. I wanted to use Clearasil and shave my legs and wear skimpy clothing - even though it was impractical to do any of those things. After a holiday to the Great Ocean Road, where we stayed in cabin accommodation , I felt my scalp get more itchy than usual. Maybe I picked up an allergy from the pillows? I scratched and scratched, and in doing so, the hair on the back of my head broke off. My scalp bled, my skin peeled, my hair didn't grow. And I effectively had a self-cultivated undercut (something I found attractive in boys at school in year seven, but something I did not want for myself!). I also had lots of bald patched over my head, including at the front of my head.

I was so self conscious of it. I hoped no one would notice. Mum used to tie my hair in curly pigtails and brush the sparse hair over the bald patch at the back. When my hair did grow a bit, I would flatten it and tie it back, doing a side part to cover the bald bits at the front. I hated it.

Over a few years, my hair became fuller and has stayed that way, and now I only have to manage smaller bald patches which are usually caused by me being too rough when combing my scalp. My scalp still can get extremely itchy and sometimes I rub my head up on corners of walls or furniture to relieve it. Weird, like a sheep scratches itself on a fence. I wash it with sulphate free shampoo and condition every day, and don't use much product in it - only Bodyshop Brazil nut cream and Dove hair oil. Thanks to my gentler treatments, and more positive outlook, I feel far less self conscious about my fine, sometimes broken off hair. I've had it straightened twice in the last year, and have even felt a little more confident at hairdressers.

Katie writes

"...sometimes flaunting the stuff that you’re most self-conscious about forces you to embrace it. It forces you to acknowledge who you already are."

Her words touched me. I wish this article was written 17 years ago, to help build my self confidence. I am so glad to finally feel positive way about my whole appearance . Able to make jokes about it, accept that this is how it is - I will never be Rapunzel, and never reach back to my South African heritage with an Afro - and not want to change things. And most importantly, I am able to feel happy looking in the mirror and also when I face the world.

-

There is an initiative run by Pantene called Beautiful Lengths where women can donate a ponytail to create wigs for other women who have lost their hair to cancer treatment. It's such a great cause!

 

12 January 2013

The indoor barbecue, inspired by SBS Feast Magazine

Everybody knows I'm not outdoorsy. I hate the heat, the wind, the flies, the sand, the grass and the cold. I don't mind soaking up the sunshine until it gets to about 23 degrees, but only for a short amount of time. I love a barbecue but since I moved away from home almost 10 years ago, having barbecued meal is rare. I had a few over the Christmas break - my parents bought some beautiful lamb ribs and butterflied chickens which were delicious, and made me want more barbecued meals in my life!

A few Christmases ago, my parents gave me an indoor barbecue. I haven't used it too much - it lives atop the fridge and it seems a bit of a hassle getting it down to use and then cleaning it. In reality , it's no hassle to get down or clean! An indoor barbecue is the best thing for an indoor creature like me! It's electric, so no fumes, flames or tricky gas bottles to turn on, and sits neatly on the stove, so I can put the exhaust fan on to avoid smoking the house out. I vow to use it each week this summer!

Despite my aversion to the outdoors, I had lunch in the park today - from the Taco Truck! I sat and read SBS Feast Magazine, which has a summer entertaining special in this issue. I've cooked a few things from Feast recently - a pandan fruit salad, cornbread at Christmas and a lemon yoghurt cake, and I adore the food journalism and photography within. It's beautiful, and gives me lots of inspiration .

There is a whole section devoted to barbecue and grilled food in Feast - recipes from around the world. So once I'd finished my tacos, I went to the green grocer and seafood shop to grab some ingredients that I didn't already have at home.


Tonight I cooked Italian chargrilled octopus marinated in balsamic, olive oil, garlic and rosemary, plus sweet potato, zucchini, corn and onions (seasoned with the same marinade) plus the most amazing Brazillian caramelised cinnamon chilli pineapple. That pineapple - amazing!

Clockwise from top: everything cooking on the barbecue, octopus and zucchini, caramelised pineapple.


I served my barbecue meal with a chopped tomato, and crumbled some chèvre over the vegetables (which tasted great with the zingy sweet and spicy pineapple too!). It was a plate fit for a queen.
So. Yum.
What have you cooked recently?
 

03 January 2013

Just Peachy

It's a new year and I have a new place to write! Check out The Peach for some wonderful writing by talented writers.

I love The Peach's mission:

"The Peach is an online magazine covering relationships, love, sex, fashion, beauty, body image, feminism, health, lifestyle mental health and lots more.

At The Peach, we don’t preach to you about what you should think, the way you should feel or how you should look.

Instead, we love you just as you are."

 

To start with, The Peach has reproduced some of my existing blog posts, but I'm looking forward to writing some originals for them soon.

My first piece is about the awful guys I've come across on Oasis, the online dating site.

You can read it here. And look out for more articles of mine there soon.

I hope you return to The Peach and show it some love. Thanks for having me, Amelia!

 

02 January 2013

Iktyos Tidningen - Ichthyosis Magazine. Published in another language!

I was recently approached by Maria, a Swedish online friend, to write an article about my blogging journey for a Swedish Ichthyosis magazine. The magazine called Iktyosis Tidningen is a feature of the Swedish Ichthyosis website. It seems the Swedish Ichthyosis community is thriving. I'd love to meet them someday.

I was thrilled when Maria sent me the magazine on Monday night - it is a beautifully presented publication.

Though I cannot understand the Swedish translation, I can tell you I wrote the article about how I blog about Ichthyosis, and the literary, geographical and personal places my blog has taken me.

You can download the full magazine to read here. It's all in Swedish so you will need a translating program to read it.

Thank you for having me, Maria, Helene and all at Iktyos Tidningen. It's certainly very cool to be published in a foreign language!

PS: the photo of me was taken by the lovely Ulyana, more to come on the photoshoot.

 

01 January 2013

See the sun

Today I let my legs see the sun. It might be the only day this year that I do this. The conditions felt right - the day was filled with sunshine and was warm but not too hot. plus, I was only popping out for half an hour.

I can't wear sunscreen, and the wind, pollen, things flying around the air, surfaces and nature can hurt my skin. Plus I get cold. And so I cover up. Sometimes my face is a bug catcher, with bugs sticking to my Vaseline. It can be tricky going outdoors! When I was at school, I used to get infections on my legs so often because I'd have to wear a school dress with bare legs. Now I can wear whatever I want, the infections have decreased. (I'm sure if I was a school student now, I could tailor my uniform, or maybe I could back then too, but I didn't want to stand out any more than I already did.) People take their skin and its normal resilience for granted.

The sun on my bare legs felt delicious. I sat in the sun for five minutes to get some Vitamin D (the dermatologist recommended 15 minutes a day in the sun). I also felt like the sunshine heals me of potential infections.

It was a funny sensation when the breeze brushed past me. I was careful not to let my shopping bags bang and scratch my legs today - I have sustained many scratches from those horrible rigid boxy shopping bags brushing against me.

When I was in the supermarket, a woman stopped, looked me up and down and told me I'm very sunburnt. "God you've got yourself very sunburnt" she said, disapprovingly.

It had been so long since I've been asked/told (I haven't been asked since before the Christmas break, or I haven't noticed!) that I almost forgot how to answer.

"Yes... I mean, I was born like this", I said.

"Oh", she said. No apology.

And then I added, "What if I commented on your appearance?", realising that 2013 may be the year I take no shit from nosy people (but I do predict 364 days of appearance related comments!).

"Yeah yeah", she said, her voice trailing off down the laundry aisle.

I smiled. I almost told someone I'm sunburnt. I've got to do that for real.

In unrelated news, but still on the topic of skin, I cleaned my washing machine with citric acid powder today, and some got on my hand. Now parts of my body feel like it's been dotted with Wizz Fizz. Tingly. Fruity.

Happy New Year everyone! See the funny side of life :)

 

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