Tuesday, November 24, 2015

at the Oasis Bakery

In about June, one of my oldest girl friends booked tickets for four of us to attend a cooking class and dinner at the Oasis Bakery.  

I was a few days away from leaving work, sick and exhausted, didn't really know what it was all about but wrote it in my diary for November and sort of forgot about it. The girls had eaten breakfast there once or twice and other people I know had raved about it, but as it's so far away from where I live ( about 40 minutes south) it's not on my radar at all.

The Sunday dawned and I was ill and delerious from the insomnia, and my husband deemed me to too sick to drive so he drove my friend and I to the bakery. He is the kindest person ever.

Well , the bakery is AMAZING. It encompasses a big supermarket packed to the rafters with middle eastern food and cooking ingredients; a bakery, producing cakes and breads, and a cafe: just look at the breakfast menu and tell me you're not tempted.

Upstairs is the cooking demonstration room, where 18 of us sat in a horseshoe arrangement and watched chef Marwa and her assistant Nicole make vegie burghul,  maftoul salad and dawood basha
 ( spicy lamb meatballs in a tomato sauce), all the while talking about cooking and food and techniques in a really entertaining way while she cooked. Then we were all served a most magnificent dinner, along with Lebanese coffee and little sweets, and hot spicy apple tea.

The last part of the night was where we were taken through the supermarket, able to buy all the special ingredients used in the dinner. I just bought some bread, pomegranate molasses and the apple tea and some garlic dip and spice paste: other people filled trolleys!

Even if you don't want to do a class, you really should go and see the incredible range at the supermarket, particularly if you like middle eastern cooking. Every spice, sauce, oil you could ever want in cooking, just amazing. The classes are wildly popular but book ahead and go with friends - nearly the whole room was groups of women having a lovely alternative to a night out in a restaurant.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Insomnia has not quite killed me, blogging tomorrow!

Yes it goes on, but so does life at a very cracking pace. Tomorrow I promise to write a post about the wonderful cooking class and tour I went to at Oasis Bakery. This is over a week ago now but I took photos so come back here tomorrow so you can see. Sorry about the slack blogging, I do want to keep going here, however erratically, but but my bloody health means that I'm operating at less than half speed!

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Thank you so much for your comments, suggestions, and for the commiserations from the fellow insomniacs. I'm now up to Night 14 of this torture, and it takes me back to the first non-sleeping year of the non-sleeping baby. One night I remember saying to my poor husband ( over the screaming baby who was ten months or so) that was IT, I was getting on a bus and going to Queensland and never coming back and the whole baby thing had been a stupid idea anyway.

But I survived then and I will survive now. I've tried all the lovely herbally gentle calm things and now I'm going for the big guns.  If I don't sleep tonight I going to the GP tomorrow and begging for a sleeper. I only had a twenty minute nap today and have tried to be more active, very hard when you feel so dozy. A few nights ago I had a really warm bath for nearly an hour ( I never have baths) and actually fell asleep in it for a minute or so. Beautiful. I was so relaxed and warm I quickly dried off and got into bed and slept for an hour before the cycle started again.

Aside from this, things are  going along as normal. J has his last Year 12 exam tomorrow. None of them have bothered him at all so I'm hoping Australian History isn't a shocker. S has to move house because her landlord in Tasmania is selling the house, they have found another cute one in a nicer area so fingers crossed. Husband keeps saying "the year is over", which it really is in his industry once Cup Day is done with - the rest of the year is about finishing up and clearing up unfinished business.

Because I am clearly insane I've been planning Christmas soirees today and now have 12 for dinner in the middle of December. They are bringing pretty much everything, all we have to do is buy some cooked chooks and set the table. Otherwise, so far, there is a book club breakfast OUT; and I want to have S's in-laws over for a mince pie and a drink on Christmas Eve. Otherwise we will have some other friends over for fish and chips in the garden one night. My sister and my niece ( the saints) generously cook Christmas Dinner for us all which we love every year.

Wish me luck tonight.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Insomnia. Help needed.

I've had quite a rough time with insomnia. It started about 10 days ago.

I am a bad sleeper now, and have been for the last couple of years. Many women once they hit 45 develop terrible sleep. Combine mid-life with renal failure and you get twice the pain. I can't remember the last time I slept through the night - five years ago? During the winter there was a night when I only woke once and this was a red letter night.

A "good" night for me is one where I wake twice, at about 12, and then again about 4, and I can get straight back to sleep.

On a "bad" night ( quite regular now) I wake about 5 times, but I can get back to sleep.

10 days ago a new thing started. I would get into bed and then lie awake for three hours.  Then I would fall asleep and wake every ninety minutes. On day 7 I slept about two hours for the entire night. Every day I felt nauseated, depressed, flat, and spent time just sitting in a chair staring across the garden/the room.
I cried in the car once when I was driving because I felt so awful. I tried ear plugs, yoga breathing, a warm shower, no electronics anywhere upstairs, no reading, reading only children's books...... all with varying degrees of success of different nights -  then of course I started getting anxious about going to bed.

I should mention I am also having other awful side effects from KD now, which include really itchy skin, terrible vagueness occasionally, even more so than usual, and more fatigue. These are also related to anemia, which I suffer from now. I've started iron supplements which may be easing the insomnia a little. I'm still waking a lot but not taking 3 hours to sleep. Well, the last two nights anyway.

If you have a wonderful insomnia cure, would love to hear it.
Just don't say a banana and a glass of milk before bed because they're on the "limit or avoid" list.
(full of potassium and phosphorous).

Sunday, November 1, 2015

sweet november and a whole lot of books I've been reading

So now it's November, which is one of the nicest months of the year. Far enough from Christmas that no-one needs to panic, with a winding-down of the year feeling; and some interesting, very changeable weather which I enjoy because you never know what's going to happen next!

I've been reading lots and lots. Right back into the books after wasting too much time this year faffing about on the Internet. Yes, it's wonderful but what a time suck.

 The book above, Rush OH! is what I'm reading now. I'm only half way through but just adoring it. Funny, interesting, historical, informative - it's an absolute delight despite the gruesome subject central to the plot, which is whaling. Based on stories about a real whaler who worked in Eden in 1908, the narrator is his daughter, nineteen year old Mary, who is raising her younger siblings after the death of their mother, and who is chief cook and bottle washer for all the "whalemen" who live with them and man the whale boats during the season. There is romance, humour, and at the heart of it all, is the story of a unconventional family made up of the whalers and their employers.

It's a relief to read some comedy because Kate Atkinson's A god in ruins, her companion novel to Life after life, is one of the saddest books I've read in a long time. It tells the life story of Teddy, the brother of Ursula Todd, who was the main character in LAL. It's a heartbreaking book: Teddy is such a sad character. Oddly, the parts I found most engaging were the passages about his war experiences, where he served as a bomber pilot. I had no idea how dangerous this was, and the shockingly high fatality statistics for pilots. Absolutely tragic for the German towns bombed and destroyed as well as the pilots often sent to their deaths dropping the bombs.

What else? I've been reading books from my own bookshelves! A heap of childhood favourites: the 3 books in the Carbonel series by Barbara Sleigh; and lots of Joan Aiken short stories have been quick reads in the afternoon before I have my nana naps. I love my childhood books.

Also re-reading Musk Farm, the beautiful book featuring the late Stuart Rattle's garden in Musk. We visited there on an Open Garden day only days before he was tragically killed: it was the most incredible garden and I'm so grateful this book was written to capture the beauty of the garden. It's with a real sense of sadness that I look through this book and realise all his work will gradually fade away now he's no longer there to keep the vision alive.

Two more I'm dipping in and out of are Sunday's kitchen and Sunday's garden, by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan, both books about the art patron Sunday Reed and her husband John, and the garden they made and the meals they cooked at Heide in Bulleen. It was a fascinating household with some huge and strange personalities coming and going, and living there! Like the Musk Farm book, beautiful photos to pour over as well as interesting details about Heide life.