Can You See My Baby Brother?

Image from Vk.com

Image from Vk.com

“For truly we are all angels temporarily hiding as humans.”
~ Brian L. Weiss

*Note – all names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.

Last year Beth’s mother brought her along to a session with me because Beth had been insisting on seeing that lady.

I need to see that lady. I need to see that lady. I need to see that lady, Beth chanted over and over again as only two-year-olds can.

What lady? Beth’s mum asked.

The one who saw me before I was borned.

Yep, that would be me…

Beth’s mum has been a client of mine for fifteen years, and I’d connected to the soul who would become her daughter in our very first psychic session, before she’d ever met her future husband, Beth’s dad. Beth was a bright little bubble of light in her mum’s aura.

Beth’s mum was skeptical that first day. She had PCOS and had been told she would never have children. Over the next  decade I saw Beth’s mum a few more times. She met a wonderful man. They fell in love and married. They tried everything, but there was no baby. They resigned themselves to being childless and adopted two small dogs instead.

Then, at the age of thirty-six, she became pregnant. They’d long ago stopped using any form of birth control. She didn’t realise until she was nearly six months along, such had been the erratic nature of her cycles, and then three short months later Beth was born. A healthy baby daughter. They’d been worried she might have had problems – Beth’s mum had been on aggressive drug treatment for acne when she fell pregnant, but Beth was fine. In fact, she was thriving. Beth’s mum sent me a long email and lots of photos of their adored little girl. I was thrilled for them.

Last year, Beth and her mum came back to see me. Beth’s mum booked in for a top-up session, and cleared it for her to bring her toddler along. Just for a visit. Beth’s mum promised me that her daughter was very shy, and would sit quietly in her lap, or play on the floor with her toys.

Um… no. :)

When the doorbell rang, and I opened the big old wooden door, a tiny person charged inside, her mum hurrying to catch up with her.

Hello, said this little poppet, looking up at me with her big blue eyes. I remember you. Do you remember me? I’m Beth, but my proper name is Grace-Margaret. The way she said Grace-Margaret, the tiny girl sounded like a Southern Belle. That’s my last-time name, she added, but Mummy didn’t know. It’s okay. I don’t mind being Beth this time. It’s a nice name.

Beth’s mum looked at me, confused. I gave her a hug and assured her that everything was fine. Meanwhile her little daughter had walked into my reading room and had climbed up into the chair meant for her mother.

We need to tell Mummy about Will-iam, said Beth in her baby, sing-song voice.

Who’s William? Beth’s mother asked, completely unnerved.

I pretended as if conversations like these happened all the time around my dining room table.

Is he your Guide, darling? Beth’s mum prompted. Or an Angel? Beth’s mum was very into Angels.

See! Beth said, looking right at me.

What shall we tell Mummy? I asked brightly. But I knew…

He’s coming, Beth announced proudly. Will-iam is coming to stay. He’s going to be my brother. And then she rolled her eyes as if the joke was hilarious. Again! she said. Will-iam is going to be my brother again. Like last time.

Image from Bumble Button

Image from Bumble Button

No, Beth’s mother said gently. Mummy isn’t having any more babies. You are my one miracle.

See? Beth said to me. She won’t believe me. You tell her. You can see him, can’t you? You can see my baby brother like you saw me?

But before I could say anything, Beth’s mum held up her hand, and her eyes filled with tears. Please, she whispered, can we talk about something else? The doctors had assured her there would be no more children. Ever. No matter what she tried.

Beth hugged her Mum hard. It’s alright, Mummy. He won’t be any trouble, she said. And then she sat down on the floor with her colouring book while her mum and I talked about other things.

In February this year, Beth’s mum left a message for me on facebook. She was pregnant again.

Last night I received another long email from Beth’s Mum. Attached were several photos of Beth proudly holding her little brother, William. Another healthy child.

Image from Red Rose Mummy

Image from Red Rose Mummy

William looks quiet and wise, and very peaceful. The love between Beth and her brother shines bright in every image. It’s so fulfilling for me to see the souls I have met firstly as energy, now made human in their form once more. Especially in the presence of so much love.

Life is the most amazing mystery, isn’t it? I take great comfort from that. Great comfort, indeed.

 

Kindness Challenge – Week Three

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
~ Lao Tzu

“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.”
~ Robert Fulghum

 

Hello Lovelies! Welcome to Week Three of our six week Kindness Challenge.

To participate in today’s challenge all you need to do is select and perform one of the following kindness activities. The beneficiaries of our acts of kindness for Week Three are our Loved Ones.

Loved ones are those souls who are closest to us. It could be our partner, our children, our parents, our pet, a best friend, a brother or a sister. It’s the family we were born into, or the family we make for ourselves.

Sometimes we get so busy, or time slips by, and we take our loved ones for granted, or fail to show them just how much they mean to us. This week lets us address some of that imbalance.

Naturally, if you choose to do this activity more than once, or to work on one each day that’s absolutely fine. In fact, it’s marvelous. :)

Okay, Kindness Ambassadors, let’s go!

  1. Make a phone call or a skype call to a family member who lives too far away for you to visit easily. Let them know you’re thinking of them, and send them all your love.
  2. Send a card to a dear friend. One they can find in their letterbox. Just because!
  3. Visit an elderly loved one. Spend time talking together. Everyone appreciates a visit.
  4. Do someone else’s chores for them.
  5. Make your loved one a cold drink, or their favourite hot one, and take it to them for them to enjoy. Maybe include a tasty treat too. :)

    Image from risewall.com

    Image from risewall.com

  6. Knit, sew or craft something as a surprise present for someone you love!
  7. Leave a loving and encouraging note in a loved one’s lunchbox or diary.
  8. Wrap your loved one in a big hug, and whisper in their ear how much you love them.
  9. Make a favourite food from your childhood (or their childhood) to share with a loved one.
  10. Offer a back rub, foot rub or manicure.
  11. Say sorry for that thing you did. Mean it. If you can’t say it to their face then write it in a letter. Let there be space again for healing and love.
  12. Forgive a loved one for that thing they did. Let them know they are forgiven.
  13. Acknowledge the struggle of a loved one. Sometimes the best kind of support is actually not being invisible to the ones we love.
  14. Recognise and praise the efforts of a loved one who is making changes in their life.
  15. Pass on a book/movie/music that you’ve enjoyed.
  16. Read a bedtime story to your child, or anyone else you love who might enjoy one!

    Image from Wikipedia

    Image from Wikipedia

  17. Organise a get-together for no special reason.
  18. Tell a loved one how much they mean to you, and why they are important in your life. If you can’t do it in person, write it in a letter.
  19. Send a newsy letter or email with some photos to someone who loves you but who doesn’t get to see you very much.
  20. Play. With your children, your pets, your lover, your friends. Playing is good for all of us.

    Image from This is Me

    Image from This is Me

  21. Give a loved one the gift of your undivided attention.
  22. Let a loved one sleep in, while you take charge. Better yet, stay in bed together!
  23. Meet a loved one for a picnic lunch, or a simple picnic dinner. What matters is that you spend time together, making new happy memories.
  24. Do something together that you used to do when you first met or knew each other.
  25. Leave a meaningful treat and a loving note for that person you love. It could be a bunch of flowers, a chocolate, a batch of homemade brownies, a warm pair of socks or a book from a much-loved author.

Kindness is all about spreading the love around. Thanks for being part of the magic. Bless xoxo

Image from BeemBee

Image from BeemBee

Easy Nutella Cheesecake Recipe

nutella cheesecake

“….I can dream away a half-hour on the immortal flavor of those cheese cakes we used to have on a Saturday night.”Mary Antin, ‘The Promised Land’ (1912)

 

This is probably the easiest cheesecake I have ever made. It only requires a few ingredients, and it is seriously yum. Not too sweet, not overpoweringly Nutella flavoured, and it makes the perfect end to a meal. It’s also the kind of cheesecake you can dress up or down, depending on the occasion.

I first ate this cheesecake at a friend’s place. My friend is a chef and when I asked about the recipe they were embarrassed. “You don’t want that. It’s so easy,” she said. “It’s barely even a recipe!” Turns out, her eleven-year-old son had made it all by himself from a recipe given to him from a friend’s mother after he’d eaten this cheesecake at their house.

All the better. If a child who doesn’t cook can manage this, anyone can!

I made this for Saturday night dinner, when our friends from the city came to stay. It took just a few minutes to whip up, and not much longer to devour.

Why don’t you try it, and you’ll see what I mean…

nutella

Ingredients:

250 grams sweet plain biscuits (I used a packet of caramel pecan cookies and the caramel and pecans gave a lovely texture and flavour!), 75 grams (5 tablespoons) of butter, 1 x 400 gram jar of Nutella (which is a chocolate hazelnut spread in case you don’t know!), 500 grams of cream cheese, 75 grams (1/2 cup) of icing sugar (confectioners’ or powdered sugar)

I also used a punnet of fresh strawberries and an extra tablespoon of icing sugar for decoration.

Method:

Place the biscuits in the bowl of a food processor and whizz until they are crushed. Then add the butter and a tablespoon of Nutella. Whizz again until it begins to form clumps.

making the crust

 

2014-07-19 11.06.45

*Note – if you don’t have a food processor, place the biscuits into a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Tip into a bowl and add the butter and Nutella and mix well with a wooden spoon.

Tip the biscuit mixture into the bottom of a 23cm / 9 inch springform tin, pressing down firmly over the bottom and slightly up the sides of the tin. Place into the fridge to chill.

2014-07-19 11.13.08

Now cut the cream cheese into cubes and add to the bowl of the food processor with the icing sugar. Whizz until it softens and combines. (Can you spy a few biscuit crumbs on my cream cheese? Yes, that’s right. I didn’t bother to wash out the food processor bowl before I used it again. I promise it won’t matter.)

cream cheese and sugar

Spoon the rest of the jar of Nutella into the bowl, and process again until smooth and completely mixed together. (Can’t see those crumbs now, can you?)

nutella mix

Remove pie crust from fridge and carefully spoon the cheesecake mix over the base, smoothing the top. Place back into the refrigerator to set. This will take four to six hours, but it will be even better if you can leave it overnight.

smooth cheesecake into tinIn emergencies, the freezer will help chill things down quickly too. I understand – sometimes you need to make and eat that cheesecake FAST!

Carefully unmold the cheesecake from the springform tin, removing the sides first and then easing the cake from the bottom tray using a knife and a spatula or egg slide. Removing the cheesecake from the springform base stops you cutting through the non-stick coating with a knife when you slice pieces of cake and helps your pan last much longer.

nutella cheesecake 2

To Serve:

It’s perfectly good served plain. But I like to garnish my cheesecake with sweet fresh strawberries and a little dusting of icing sugar. It’s also super yummy with the following variations:

  • whipped cream and a drizzle of salted caramel
  • whipped cream and fresh berries
  • whipped cream and mandarin or orange segments
  • lashings of shaved or grated chocolate
  • tiny chocolate truffles and chocolate sauce

You might also like to make individual cheesecakes, or even put your mixture into teacups or cocktail glasses for something a little fancier.

However, in the end, what matters is the eating. Our visiting campers, Hannah and Mitchell, gave this dish their stamp of approval.

Enjoy!

happy faces

Exhausted, with Aprons…

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“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” 
~ Albert Einstein

 

What a lovely weekend I’ve had. Our friends and their children visited the farm, and to my delight I found that these particular children had a great love of rambling walks in the countryside, board games, stories, an exceptional fondness for fairies and pirates, and a deep appreciation of yummy food, all of which are among my favourite things! :)

Ten-year-old Hannah was also very keen to strap on an apron and help in the kitchen, and so we practiced knife skills, invented crazy salads, decorated desserts with strawberries and made endless delicious treats, including Blueberry Crumble Slice, which was a huge success with her blueberry-addicted brother, Mitchell.

Blueberry Crumble SLice

Today, I’m going to catch up on all that energy I expended. The dogs are equally exhausted after all that fun so we’re going to stay snuggled up on this rain-sweetened frosty morning, drink tea, and write. Well, I’ll be writing, and the dogs shall be lending moral support, bless their furry paws!

Tomorrow, after I am caught up on sleep, I shall share a particularly delectable recipe for Nutella Cheesecake, which was the dessert we enjoyed on Saturday night. I promise it’s both easy and divine. :) Mmmmm, cheesecake…

Dog-gone it, we’re busy!

2014-07-15 20.30.37

“Sometimes, the best way to help someone is just to be near them.”  ~ Veronica Roth, Divergent

 

This will be a short blog post, owing to the fact that it’s cold, and all we really feel like doing this morning is going back to our nice warm bed for a cuddle. Sometimes, comfort takes priority, you know…

The picture above is of Harry Dog, all curled up on the couch next to my husband, Ben. Harry’s saying “Hurry up, Mum, and finish writing. It’s too cold and you’re taking too long!”

When I finished taking Harry’s picture I put my phone down beside him for a moment, and somehow managed to snap an accidental photo of Bert, our other dog, who was sitting by the door, pouting and wishing there was more room on the couch.

Some pictures speak louder than words. Poor Bert…

Okay, enough writing. Cuddle time!

Wishing you all a magical, love-filled day xoxoPouty Bert

Reality Check – A Reminder of What Really Matters

Image from Mummy Quotes

Image from Mummy Quotes

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” 
~ Stephen R. Covey

 

I have a beautiful girlfriend who is the ultimate career woman. She has worked for the same corporation for 25 years, starting at the very bottom and working her way up. She is one of those women who has climbed the ladder and broken through the glass ceiling. For twenty five years she has devoted herself to this organisation, and enjoyed a meteoric rise. She’s a stunning project manager, and she gets things done. They always call on her in a crisis. There is always a crisis. She works insane hours, lives and breathes company business, and is paid accordingly.

In the middle of this she has managed to complete a degree, an MBA, and to marry and have two children. She always wanted to have children but by the time she and her husband started trying for babies in her late thirties, pregnancy just wasn’t happening. She has two beautiful daughters, aged 3 and 6, both from IVF, which was a long and difficult process. It took many attempts to bring those little girls into the world.

No, this is not a post about leaving babies til the last minute.

It’s a post about leaving life til the last minute.

You see, my friend sent me a frantic text yesterday morning, and then called me as soon as she knew I was awake.

I haven’t seen her for a couple of years. You know how things are when people get busy.

She had news. The worst kind. She’s been diagnosed with aggressive and advanced ovarian cancer. It’s inoperable. They think she may have twelve weeks to live, give or take. There’s no time left for treatment. Only for palliative care.

She started losing weight eighteen months ago and put it down to stress. But secretly she was also thrilled. She had put on plenty of weight during each of her pregnancies and had never been able to get it back off again. Still, her tummy stayed round and bloated.

She hasn’t felt her best since the babies were born. But that’s normal for busy mums, isn’t it? Anyway, she always said to me that she was too busy to have the luxury of a sick day.

My friend left it so long to do something about the pelvic pain, the back aches, the bladder leaks, the fatigue, that when she finally made the time to see a doctor it was all too late. She is riddled with cancer. It’s in her bowel, her brain, her liver, her lungs, her bones. Everywhere.

What should she do, my friend asked me. She has recently moved her husband, two little children and their nanny to yet another new city while she works on a difficult merger. They haven’t really settled in yet. She began to tell me all about the work…

Screw the work, I said. Come home. Come home to your family and your husband’s family. Come home to the people who love you, and who can take care of you all. Forget the responsibilities. Now is the time to focus on what truly matters. Living. Loving. Drinking up every last moment. Creating the best kinds of memories. Gifting yourself and your loved ones the time you have left.

She kept crying, over and over, I thought I’d have more time. God, it almost undid me.

All her working life my friend has put things to one side; holidays, celebrations, lazy Sundays, time out with family and friends, because she though that one day she’d be in a magical place where there was plenty of time, and plenty of money and plenty of life left to enjoy all those good things.

heart

Life is so short. So precious. None of us ever really know how much time we have.

Oh, it breaks my heart, dear ones. It just breaks my heart.

I’m going to take a few days off blogging, while I support my friend through this next part of her journey.

Please, look after yourselves. Look after your health and your loved ones. Work out what matters and spend time on those relationships and activities. It’s the journey, as much as the destination. You know that, don’t you?

That great behemoth of a corporation my friend works for will get by just fine without her. She might not have realised it, but she is expendable to them, although I’m sure they’ll miss her, and her talents.

Her husband and kids? I’m sure they can’t say the same.

My friend, ever the one to seek productive outcomes from any situation, asked me to write this post. She hoped it may serve as a reality check for people like her, who’ve strayed too far from what really counts.

Will you hold her and her family in your thoughts and prayers? Her name’s Julie, and she sure could use a little extra love and light right now.

Thank you.

Image from Paper Masters

Image from Paper Masters

Remembering Hot Chocolate

Image from Elite Decorative Arts

Image of Vintage Porcelain Cups from Elite Decorative Arts

“There’s something liberating about not pretending. Dare to embarrass yourself. Risk.”
~ Drew Barrymore

 

My early childhood was spent in a far-flung suburban estate in Brisbane, a place not noted for its cultural diversity let alone culinary delights.

And yet, one of my strongest food memories comes from this time.

One street over from our house was a block of low-set flats, a very unusual thing in a housing estate full of brick boxes with big back yards that served as family homes. It was an oddity, and few people spoke favourably about it. Because it was in the next street, it was out of bounds. My mother was very strict about safety. No talking to strangers. No wandering out of the cul-de-sac.

As I walked home from school with my small brother and sister one afternoon, we took the long way home, past the flats. My father worked in the city, and my mother had started a new job a few suburbs away. Mum wasn’t home before five at the earliest, and Dad walked home from the bus, arriving just before the six o’clock news.

It was my job to collect my siblings from the waiting area at our primary school, bring them home, lock ourselves into the house, supervise homework, and take the washing off the line. I was ten. Virtually a grown up!

To my surprise, Julie, a shy blonde girl from my class and new at our school that year, was standing inside the door of one of the much-frowned-on flats when we walked past, an old stout woman dressed in black by her side. She waved frantically, and out of politeness I made my brother and sister wait on the sidewalk while I went to the front door to say hello. Julie was staying with her grandmother, who stood behind the little girl, not uttering a word. This was Nonna, she said, indicating her grandmother.

Weirdly, I curtsied. Nerves I guess. “Good afternoon, Nonna,” I said politely.

Did I want to come for afternoon tea? Julie’s request had a pleading quality to it. Yes, I said. Thank you. I would love to. I will come back soon, I assured them. After which I felt ill. I had said yes because I was too shy to be rude and say no, and now I had broken one of Mum’s cardinal rules.

What a dilemma. This was rule-breaking at its most serious. I hurried my siblings home,  rushed them to change out of their uniforms and have an early bath, made afternoon tea for them, brought in the clean clothes, and then, as a bribe, let my brother and sister watch cartoons on television. Something else strictly forbidden. As soon as they were settled, I raced back to Julie’s grandmother’s hoping that none of the neighbours would see me. It was only a distance of about eight houses, but for me it felt like a mile.

As soon as I arrived, I explained that I could only stay until four-thirty. One hour. I said it very clearly, hoping that they would understand the seriousness of needing to be home on time. Julie relayed this to her grandmother in strange-sounding words, and I was fascinated to learn that my school-friend could speak another language! Yes, yes, Julie and the old lady agreed, home at four-thirty.

While I was gone, Julie’s grandmother had set the table in her tiny flat with a fine lace tablecloth. There were tiny cups and saucers, and plates of the most unusual biscuits I had ever seen, as well as slices of some dark spicy cake.

My eyes feasted on the old cuckoo clock, the pretty wooden dolls, the religious icons and the vases of silk flowers. It was the most exotic place I had ever been, and it was just a few doors down from my own home!

“Do you like hot chocolate?” Julie asked me.

“Oh yes,” I assured her. My own Nana made me cocoa all the time.

But what Nonna made for us bore no resemblance to any hot chocolate I had ever tried. In a saucepan on the stove she heated milk, and then broke real chocolate, milk and dark into the pot, stirring carefully. To this she added a tiny pinch of salt, and a pinch of ground cinnamon. The thick mixture was poured into a pretty china pot decorated all over with painted flowers.

“A coffee pot!” I said, trying to sound worldly.

“Caffé? No, no, shock-oh-lat!” Nonna said, shaking her head as if I was the silliest girl in Australia, and perhaps I was.

Nonna seated us at the table, and poured the thick, fragrant chocolate for us. She then spooned a little whipped cream into the top of the tiny cups.

I was disappointed that the cups were so small, until I tasted my hot chocolate. Julie showed me how to use the special little spoon to scoop the thick liquid up and drink it like soup. A cup any bigger would have been way too much. I almost swooned from the taste. It was, perhaps, my first truly sensual experience. So rich, so velvety smooth, not super sweet, but oh! Even now I find myself without adequate words to describe the experience.

We sat and ate our spicy gingerbread cake, and our almond biscuits and jam drops, and slowly, slowly savoured the hot chocolate until it was all gone. I had one eye on the clock the whole time, sick with guilt but unable to tear myself away. Nonna didn’t say much. She just smiled and urged more food on us, and when it was time to go home, she insisted on giving me a little parcel of left-overs to take to my mother.

My sister and brother were still in front of the cartoons. They didn’t even look up when I walked into the room.

I cut up an orange for them, and then tidied things away.

When Mum came home from work she was cranky, and I knew that I would cop the wooden spoon or the end of Dad’s belt from her if I even breathed a word. I gave her the little parcel, and told her just that Julie’s grandmother had made them.

“That’s nice,” Mum said looking vaguely taken aback.

“Can Julie come round to play on Saturday, Mum?” I asked, hopeful that she’d look favourably upon my request.

“No, you know I don’t allow friends home from school.”

And that was that. I never went to Nonna’s flat again, and Julie was so slighted that I never asked her to my own home that she would no longer be my friend.

I forgot all about that afternoon until 2010, when I went to Italy for the first time. In a little hilltop town called Gubbio I stopped to write in my journal and gaze out over the view. There I was served a hot chocolate that took me straight back to my childhood, and Julie’s Nonna.

All those years later I still felt the sting of being unable to reciprocate their kindness, even as I felt the magic of being transported through time by something as simple as a hot beverage.

hot-choc-gubbio

On that cold morning in Gubbio, the chocolate was thick and rich, not too sweet, with a delicious dollop of whipped cream on top. It was heavenly.

The staff at the little cafe were kind enough to share the recipe with me, and I’ve made it often since then. I’ll post it for you tomorrow!

Much love, and a really big hug, Nicole xx