A Little Process, A Little Progress

Current work, Nathanael's painting in progress

Nathanael Paul, 17 weeks

Nathanael's tiny 1" footprints

This was the year where I was going to be organized.  Our youngest finally went off to school full time and our oldest went off to University, where she is busy enough that she isn't keeping us running around all weekend and several nights a week with extracurricular productions.  The four in between all safely in school and out of my hair.  So this was supposed to finally be My Year.  I enrolled in two educational programs, one international (Post-natal Doula and Breastfeeding Counselor training) and one local (Community Services Work).  I signed up to volunteer more hours for a local crisis pregnancy centre than I worked last year.  I really wanted to be able to start helping people, especially in the field of pregnancy, especially crisis pregnancy.  In between all that, I started painting art and that was well-received.  Little did I know that I would have two crisis pregnancies of my own within the first six months of the year.

It all started out well.  Then I got sick.  Then I got pregnant.  Then I miscarried in the 3rd month and was hospitalized for a few days.  Then I got sick again, very sick.  Off to the hospital again, and a long period of recovery.  Then I got pregnant again.  AGAIN!  I could not believe it.  We acclimated to the idea yet again, were starting to buy baby clothes, were excited to see the ultrasound at 12 weeks and hear the heartbeat and start to feel the little kicks in the 4th month.  I had two nasty viruses back to back in the beginning of the pregnancy but things seemed to be going ok and I recovered.

Then, at 17 weeks, sudden silence.  No kicks.  No heartbeat to be found.  Off to the hospital again, to have the horrible ultrasound in the emergency department.  The ultrasound where a perfect round-headed little baby floated motionless in my belly, no heartbeat, head gently bobbing as I was prodded.  The next three days were spent in hospital, where they tried to induce delivery, which ended up more or less working directly before I went into surgery in the middle of the night on the third day.  I had to have surgery anyway, which was partially to put me out of my misery as the delivery of our tiny baby boy was very emotionally traumatic in ways which are not decent to describe.  It will never, never leave me.

We named our baby Nathanael Paul.  We are still waiting for his little hand and footprints, and his ashes to be returned to us from his cremation.

In the meantime, I'm trying to carve out time to work on the only painting I had been able to begin while I was pregnant with Nathanael.  Between being sick with the viruses and morning sickness and just trying to keep up with the demands of a large family, I wasn't up to doing much else at the time.  No studying, no volunteering, no commissioned paintings...just this one little watercolour, which began as a study in silk inks.  And right now I'm still trying to carve out time to finish it.  I'm trying to pick up the studying again (in a different field.  I'm not ready to work with pregnancy and probably won't be for a little while yet.  I'm so painfully tender yet, we all are.)

We are also dealing with a very ill child, who has a condition called HSP which was triggered by those same viruses we had at the beginning of Nathanael's pregnancy.  He's been out of school since September, very ill.  And all kinds of other events are happening with the other children -- graduations and end-of-school year festivities and carnivals and all sorts of things.

There hasn't been any time to grieve or really process the death and birth of our little baby.  Our lives are just too busy.  I try to take time late at night to write.  But then I also, for the rest of the day, try not to think about it.  I guess this little artwork is my way of acknowledging our little one in a gentle way, a little process and a little progress.

Best Thermomix Choc Chip Cookies EVER

Recycled photo from 2007.  They only look even better than this now in 2015.

Since I've lived approximately half my life in the USA and half my life in Australia, I think I have a pretty good background knowledge of what makes good food good.  By good food, I mean cookies, baked goods, and desserts mostly (of course), as well as traditional American food, and Aussie/Asian fusion, and curries.  I'm very, very sorry to admit that traditional Aussie food (adapted from English recipes) tends to be...well...underseasoned, flavourless, and in the case of baked goods, rather dry.  Now this is because those recipes use good ingredients like butter, and fresh fruit, and good stuff like that -- but they tend to be under-sweetened and lacking in salt and spices.  The Asian influence has worked magic for Aussie cuisine over the past three decades.  Aussies are quite knowledgeable about food, and dare I say, quite picky with regards to fresh, quality ingredients and authentic flavours.  There has certainly been a big, big change since the mid-70's when we moved to Australia for the first time.

Anyway, since I promised to start sharing some of my own thermomix-adapted recipes, and I will say that with baked goods I tend to lean far more to the American-style rich flavourings, but using the Aussie-style fresh ingredients (the thermomix makes this easy of course!), I'm going to just put an easy one here for you all today.

Americans -- Do you remember those delicious chewy Duncan Hines chocolate chip cookies?  These are like those -- crispy on the outside, soft and chewy in the middle -- and they stay that way!  They don't go hard!  And no nasty preservatives.  Just Moey magic.  Aussies -- just trust me.

My delectable Brass Tacks Chocolate Chip Cookies have moved into the 21st century with thermo-convenience.  Here they are. (Original recipe for non-thermomixers HERE )

Brass Tacks Chocolate Chip Cookies (THERMOMIX)


100g butter (no substitutes)
100g white sugar
100g brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP boiling hot water
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
240g plain flour
120g dark chocolate chips (use real chocolate chips please!  No compound chocolate!)


1. Add the first six ingredients to the thermomix bowl.  Mix 20 seconds, speed 4.  Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula.

2. Mix the hot water with the soda to dissolve.  Add to the thermomix bowl.  Mix 5 seconds, speed 4.

3. Add all of the flour to the thermomix bowl.  Mix 20 seconds, speed 4.  Scrape sides of bowl with spatula.

4. Add the chocolate chips.  Mix 20 seconds on INTERVAL (knead).

5.  Place rounded teaspoonfuls on baking-paper lined baking trays, approx 4cm apart.  Bake 10 minutes at 180C or until edges are lightly browned and middles are just set.  Cool 1 minute on the tray, then transfer to wire rack to cool.

You won't regret this. 

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