Friday, 3 August 2012

30 Things for 30 Years

In case you hadn't noticed, I was feeling a little uneasy about turning the Big 3-0. I'm not entirely sure why that was. Perhaps it's because society tells me I'm supposed to freak out about getting older. Not that 30 is old! Or maybe it's because I'm not where I thought I would be (although, really, who ever has a clear picture of that??!). But what I do know is that - from people I know IRL to bloggers - everyone tells me that they loved their thirties. I suppose they don't call them the Dirty Thirties for nothing ;)

I found a list in my mum's dressing table drawer last year. No, I wasn't just ferreting about for the fun of it - she'd asked me to go looking for something. The list was of 10 things I wanted to do before I turned 30. I must have written the list when I was 22 or so, and I distinctly recall putting it in the recycling whilst cleaning my room up when on sick leave back in 2008 after being diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome. I remember thinking that most of the things on the list were now out of reach (although one - visit Machu Picchu - had certainly been ticked off). Those things included doing the Australian Alpine Walking Track (in one go, was the intention - it runs from Walhalla in Gippsland to Canberra); doing The Overland Track (Tasmania); and I think participating in a multi-sport event (the outdoorsy world's answer to a triathlon - usually involves kayaking, trail running and mountain biking, or something simliar, I believe) was on there, too.

Anyway, mum retrieved it and kept it - as mums do. I don't think I've done anything else on the list since I re-found it, but I've begun to have faith that I might do at least some of it, and, now that I'm on the far side of 30, I've realised that it doesn't matter in the slightest that I haven't ticked it all off before 30. There's a whole lifetime to do that. Plus your desires and priorities change, so as long as I don't actually regret not doing anything on the list then I'll be happy enough with that.


My original thought for this post was to tell you thirty incredibly deep and meaningful things about myself, or maybe just something that happened each year of my life.

My second thought was to eat a different cake a day during my birthday month and post the photos here. Actually, that was a friend's idea to eat them (who shall remain nameless), because there's no way I'd be so reckless as to think of risking not fitting into my pants on my birthday ;) But because someone else thought of it, I took the risk! Calories that were someone else's idea don't count, right??

And then I had the brilliant idea of taking photos of 30 things that I saw or happened or I thought of during the course of my 30th birthday, but I got distracted by making my birthday cake about ten photos in. It's not like me to not finish projects I start, at allllll...

So I decided to combine all three - you will learn something about each year of my life, and also show you the photos I took of my 30th birthday and also of my birthay month cakes. If there are any spots left at the end (bound to be) I'll no doubt find another photo to fill the gap. And I just realised how long this post is and I'm really sorry. Okay, only a little bit sorry. Okay, not sorry at all. So here goes!

1. The year that we moved from our house in Heidelberg (which, a dozen years later, sold for over a million dollars. D'oh!) to our house in Eltham, where mum still lives, and the only home I remember.

Up early to get the bus back to Melbourne, I decided to try my luck taking a photo of the moon with those two planets that had been hovering around near it all week. Actually, come to think of it, it seems likely that the large glowing object is actually a street light. Whatevs. The planets are there, though, one of them (Venus) more clearly than the other (Jupiter).

2. ... yeah, I got nothin' for 1984. Can't even tell you which birthday cake I had (mum has them marked on the pages of the Women's Weekly birthday cake book, but it's been a while since I flipped through. Might have been the Humpty Dumpty one but I wouldn't bet my life on it). This may have been the year that I first went to the snow, because there's a picture of me toddling about in a tiny red jumpsuit, but I can't be certain about that. Maybe it was the year I vomited on the back of dad's neck in the car, or the year that I was left, scared and alone in my uncle's yard while everyone ran to help my dad who was being tossed about by an angry bull, but I can't be certain about that, either. (Also, parents? If you tell your two-year-old-ish kid to stay where she is in an urgent voice, she will quite literally stay exactly where she is until you come back quite some time later. Children can be quite literal... or at least, I was!)

The bakery where I buy my lunch almost every day. This is where I got my birthday breakfast (up next). I love fresh bread!

3. The year I killed my first fly (probably). I remember sitting on the floor of my brother's kinder playing with blocks while mum talked to the teacher, and this massive blow fly landed on my knee. I was wearing a white dress with navy blue polka dots and navy blue ruffles around the bottom. It must have been a particularly slow one because I wasn't the most coordinated of kids, but I still managed to give it an almighty WHACK and kill it. I remember looking up proudly to see if mum had seen, but she hadn't. Boo.

Ham and cheese toastie. I was going to go the ol' egg and bacon toastie with tomato sauce but decided that wasn't what I really wanted. Light provided by bus headlights - I could do with bus-esque lighting in my kitchen because that photo, taken with an iPhone, is better than a lot that come out of my DSLR (nothing to do with the user at alllll...). Should probably have taken a photo of the frost on the ground, too!

4. My first year of kinder (I spent two years there because I was too young to go up, not because I was too stupid). I remember turning four and being absolutely distraught because I thought they would kick me out of kinder. I'd seen it happen to my brother (at least, that's what I thought had happened), and I was certain it was about to happen to me, so first thing that morning I ran into my parents' room and cried my li'l heart out, hoping they could stop me from aging. This is also the year I had the swimming pool cake for my birthday.

The doughnut I had for "second breakfast". This doesn't count as eating on the bus, right?

5. My second year of kinder, and the first time we went on a horse-drawn caravan as a holiday. This is still lodged in my mind as being the best whole-family holiday evahhhhhh (not to be confused with our trips to West Wyalong, which was just my dad with my brother and I. Dad would cook us such culinary delights as sausages with baked beans, mashed potatoes and Twisties. Yes, they really do go well together.). Oh yeah, and this is when I got my first adult-sized sleeping bag (might have been on the 4 side of 5, actually) because I was too long for the kiddy one. The day we got them we laid them down in the hall, took a great big run-up through the kitchen and slid on them. So. Much. Fun. Until I caught my big toe on the piece of chrome trim bent up from the corner of the old awesomely-retro, burnt orange, enamelled oven on my way through to the hallway. Ow. Blood everywhere.

Blue lights on the bus. I assume they're to stop people shooting up and not to provide ambience...

6. My first year of school (prep), and the year of Australia's bicentenary celebrations ("Celebration of the nation! Let's make it great in '88! Come on, give us a hand!"). I think this is the year that we visited my dad's (dead) best friend's family down in Warrnambool for the first time, and I was talking to the daughter, and pointed at a photo of her dad and said "he's dead" and made a cutting motion across my neck with my finger and that noise you make with the back of your tongue that sounds a little like a duck. I don't know why I did it. I think I thought I was being smart or hardcore or something. But considering that all was left to identify the poor girl's dad after he rolled his car was a piece of face with his eye in it, and his ring finger, it wasn't entirely appropriate. Mind you, six-year-old me wasn't aware of that level of detail. Anyway, don't drink and drive, people! And Lisa, I still feel really bad about that. I'm sorry. I'm also not entirely surprised you turned to religion and became a doctor...

Birthday sunrise! (much brighter than that awful story)

7. I reckon this might be the first year I broke my arm. I tripped over a rock at Kate Bucknell's mansion house after Rebecca McIntyre's birthday party and broke my wrist. I say this is the first time because I then went on to do it a further three times over the next three years, including one time where I re-broke it the afternoon I had the plaster cast removed. I wonder what happened to Kate? Mum always said she was being groomed to be part of the European royalty. I'm not sure how that works and I'm not even all that sure what that means, but what I DO know is that in this digital age she is nowhere to be found on the interwebs - no public FB or MySpace or anything - so I suppose it's plausible. Either that or she's married. Or technologically retarded (seems unlikely for a smart girl with buckets of money). Dad told me recently how intimidated he felt driving up their driveway in his crappy old Corolla wagon to drop me off to play. I guess it was a mansion after all...

Spencer Street Station. Yes, it's Spencer Street. No, I will probably never, ever, ever, ever refer to it as Southern Cross Station. Even though it has a pretty funky roof these days.

8. The year I first visited (by which I mean, visited and stayed and helped with farm work, not just visited and toddled about and ate a packet of chips his cousin's wife gave me) my dad's cousin's sheep station Cowal West, up on Lake Cowal near West Wyalong (related: I was reading a book a couple of years ago, and the characters actually spent some time on that property. Which means the author was familiar with the property, which is pretty freaky). Sadly, after about five or so years of school holidays spent there, the place was sold and is now being mined for gold by a Canadian mining company, and that breaks my heart more than a little. I just found it on Google Maps and the homestead and shearing shed appear to still be there, but all those paddocks are an open-cut mine now. I don't think I'll show my dad, because he spent his childhood holidays there, too, and it would kill him to see it.

Lunch. Croissants are one of my favourite foods ever, and this one was still warm from the oven. Oh, yes.

9. The year my Gramps died, and probably the first real grief I'd had to deal with (if you don't count watching our cat Grey siezure himself to death... but the fact I remember we had tinned pears with chocolate mousse for dessert that night tells me that the pain was short-lived!). I still miss him. I swear to God he (Gramps, not the cat) would deliberately not shave the day he saw us, and then he'd pick us up and give us a big kiss and hug and grind his bristly cheek against our soft ones until we squealed with pain. Sometimes he'd pull out his bridge so he looked like a vampire, and at the end of a visit he always pulled a silver coin out of his pocket for us (mysteriously, 99% of the time of the same denomination). He's been gone twenty-one years and I still tear up when I think about him. It wasn't a great year for Much Smaller Ness because he died in September, and then on the first day of the Christmas holidays I came off my bike and stopped myself with my face on gravel (resulting in a scar I carry to this day. Luckily I have rosy cheeks when it's warm, but when it's cold my right cheek goes sort of purple) and hid my face from public view until the scabs fell off two weeks later. And then on Christmas Eve I stepped on a bee whilst playing soccer with my brother in the back yard. Fun times!

Uncle Andrew fixing our front door. He came down from Wagga for my birthday, and I think he got annoyed at it when it was hard to open/shut. He's one of those Mr. Fix-It types who can't stand to see something not working properly, and while he was here he re-hung the door and the screen door, as well as realigning the metal plate the tongue on the screen door goes into; bolted the front steps together so they had another 20 years' life in them and the third step stopped threatening to collapse; installed a hook for our aprons to go on; rewired the plug on the extension cord; and replaced the sockets in two broken lamps. He's great to have a around and it is wonderful to not have to fight with the door to close or open it! On the down side, you now can't just pull the door to without locking it and expect it to stay shut, so no more sneaky trips down the shop with the door left over. Boo. Oh, and ladies? He's single, and he bakes...

Aaaaand now we're out of photos from my birthday, so now we move onto birthday month cake!

10. The year mum took us on a family holiday to the UK to meet all her aunts and cousins. We spent a month driving about England and Scotland, doing all manner of fun things and eating waaaay more rock candy than we should have. Oh, and I saw the Loch Ness Monster. I know nobody believes me, but I did. So there.

This is the date and chocolate torte I made a few weeks back. It's gluten free and totally divine, and absolutely insist you go and make it immediately. Or, post-haste, as they used to say in the olden days (I can say olden-day things now that I'm 30)!

11. My very favourite year at school. We did a gold rush-themed thing like all Year 5's do in Australia, only this time we took it a step further and instead of "owning" a plot of land to mine in a plastic tub full of sand and "mining" it for "gold" each morning like every other class had before us, we renovated our classroom with Tyvec and paper mache and paint and turned it into an underground cave system, complete with tree roots (stockings stuffed with paper and painted brown) coming through the ceiling. The story was that we had all travelled from the UK to the Ballarat goldfields (we chose our "friends and family" to "live" with, and to be part of our story, and built a "cave" with them with our desk in it), and there was a flood, and we sheltered in a cave on the mountain, and the entrance collapsed so we had to live there. My character's name was Priscilla Hughes, my best friend Lisa was my "brother" James, and we wrote in journals about everything from our ocean voyage to the goldfields and our experiences trapped in the cave, as well as everything else that followed. Somehow, and I can't remember how, we ended up "meeting" all these characters from history (by which I mean, the school's drama department! And the only two characters I distinctly recall were an alchemist trying to turn lead into gold, and Howard Carter, (co)discoverer of Tutankhamun's tomb) who taught us about the Red Cross' humanitarian principles through a new activity every week or two. It was the most amazing year ever, and then one Monday we showed up and the classroom was bare and white and awful. It was a huge crash back down to earth, and when I found out that my dad had helped demolish the classroom I cried and didn't talk to him for three days. Imagine actually living a Narnia book for two terms, and then having it ripped from you. But props to Mrs Peters for having the imagination to integrate art, and drama, and maths, and english, and social studies, and ecology, and history, and actually have us absolutely gagging to learn. If every kid had a teacher like that I think kids would get more out of their education.

The cake I made for my second Wilton cake decorating class. It's red velvet cake on the inside, and covered with more buttercream than you can poke a stick at. I'm really excited about the fact I can make these flowers now!

12. The year I decided to trail the whole "long fringe swept to one side" thing for school photos. I was quite overweight, and quite sunburnt, and didn't have braces yet, and kind of backed out of the whole fringe thing about three minutes before the photo and tucked it behind my ear instead. Worst. Photo. Ever. And no, I'm not going to share it with you.

The cake is more of the same. The boys at work did a good job of demolishing it though, don't you think? And I had nothing to do with its demise. Nothing at all.

13. My first year of highschool, and the year that I met some of my best friends in the whole world, including Kaye, Ness and Danielle. I also met Emma that year but wasn't close to her until we did outdoor ed together in Year 10, which was also the year I met Al. Apparently it's unusual to be this close to highschool friends so many years later, but I number them amongst the dearest people to me in this world. Their partners are also quite awesome people, and I would expect nothing less from them.

Now, who doesn't love a good ol' lamington? The Barham bakery does a really nice sponge, and this lamington is no exception to that. Known as a "lammo" by some, this specimen is all-original and is just plain sponge with chocolate icing and desiccated coconut on the outside. But I must say I'm somewhat partial to the ones with jam in the middle.
14. The first year I participated in our school's House Music competition's dance item (like a Rock Eisteddford, but internal). I was in Bell house (go Bell, go! Die, Ross, die!) and frankly, it was the best house. The dance item was some sort of industrially-themed thing and required us to wear these awful black pants made of cheap cotton (so one had to wear black underwear) and a grey chesty Bonds singlet, but it was a lot of fun. The day we bought the underwear and singlet was the day my Nanna died. We left the hospital to go shopping, and she died within about half an hour of us getting back there. I didn't even notice, and was indignant that mum had asked me to get a nurse when I was so engrossed in my Cosmo magazine. Is fourteen too young to be reading Cosmo? Maybe... but I was mature for my age! (Sure, Vanessa, sure...) Apparently the doctors were reluctant to sign the death certificate without an autopsy because they knew mum was a nurse and thought that us leaving and coming back and her dying was awfully convenient. Scandal! (but, like, totally not. Nanna had suffered a series of small strokes for nearly a week and had barely regained consciousness, and her time was up.)

Macarons. Some would shoot me for saying this, but I think I'd prefer to eat a nice scone with jam and cream than a macaron, but I do like the pretty colours. And it's pronounced mack-a-RON, people! There's only one O there! A macaroOn is something else entirely and often involves coconut.
15. The year my parents divorced. I thought at the time that the sky was falling, and I wanted them to get back together so very, very badly. I won't go into the reasons why because it's pretty personal stuff, but I was just so sad that the family dream was over, and I didn't feel like I would be living in a house filled with love and laughter anymore. I was right about the laughter, at any rate. Within about three months, though, I realised I could play my parents off against each other and get them to more or less buy my affection and allow me to cut class. Excellent :)

This has to be the world's largest wagon wheel, to be found at the Beachmere bakery in Queensland. I think it had a little too much chocolate on it (I know, scandalous that I might say such a thing. Biscuit + jam + marshmallow + chocolate = WIN) but it was altogether quite wonderful.
16. The year I did karate with Kaye, which was also the year I dated James, my first boyfriend. We held hands and kissed and stuff but I don't think we were really in love, although we were quite fond of one another. Still, you've got to start somewhere, and starting with a really nice guy who treats you well is a good benchmark to set. We're still good friends and he (okay, his wife) is having a baby soon. Hi, James!

We went to the Medieval Festival in Caboolture, and I saw real horseback jousting (only I think their lances were rigged and not, and sword fighting, and drank mead and mulled wine, and saw Dr Chris Brown, Bondi Vet, dressed in armour and having a whirl at swordfighting. I caught up with Danielle, met her new man Shannon (did I spell that correctly?) and ate a Hungarian Langos with caramel sauce, for which I stood in line for approximately twenty minutes to procure. And yes, it was totally worth it.
17. The year I dated my first bad boy, and the year I first had my heart broken (direct correlation, people! It was probably also the first time I was in love/lust). Actually, Taran wasn't that bad (in fact, by today's standards, he was pretty soft), but he was from a boy's school that had a bit of a reputation, plus he had stubble (swoon! He really started something there...), plus he was a little bit cool, plus he had actually noticed that I existed! Unfortunately this also meant that he was a bit of a player and a bit of a jerk, an opinion seconded by another girl from my school who dated him (briefly) almost immediately afterwards (which was kind of what broke my heart). Live and learn!

A Krispy Kreme apple crumble and custard donut. I'm sorry people, but I'm just not impressed by KK. This is my third, and maybe last, donut. I MEAN THEIR DONUTS NOT ALL DONUTS!!! They're just not that good. They're too greasy and heavy and big, and they tend to give me an acid stomach. I don't think my body wants to process them, and I can't say I blame my poor body! Cinnamon donuts from your local bakery FTW.

18. The year I finished highschool. What a year! If only I'd studied instead of partying every weekend, I may have reached my full potential. As it was, I got an ENTER of 84.2 which isn't too bad considering the zero-studying thing, and got into the course of my choice where I continued to slack off... and achieve a double degree with first class Honours! I'm just a big ol' ball of unrealised potential, aren't I :)

Mmm, apple slice - fools you into believing it's healthy, every time!
19. The year I got my first real part-time job (before that I had done quite a lot of tutoring for cash). It was at Adventure Supplies, formerly Aussie Disposals, and it was one of the best jobs a camping-loving girl like me could possibly imagine. I was in heaven. It probably didn't hurt that my boss had a smokin' hot body and a cheeky sense of humour (hi, Bernie! This isn't at all awkward for you, is it?), and that all the staff got along really well. It was always fun to challenge a (generally) middle-aged man's perception and prove that I did in fact know my stuff. They'd come in all condescending because I was a girl, and by the time they walked out I'd generally educated them, run circles around them and then encouraged them to flog their credit card. By the time the store closed down (sad face) I was selling sleeping bags in my sleep. But I do do some weird stuff in my sleep...

Caramel slice. These are nice in small doses but I think my pancreas is getting too old to deal with the sudden onslaught of sugar. Next time I'll cut it in quarters and make it last four days, I think.

20. The year I bought my dad's VL Commodore from him for the price of having the gearbox reconditioned. Yeah, that should have been the warning sign...

Snot block! Also known as a custard slice or vanilla slice. But hey, if assigning a revolting name to a dessert puts people off them, there will be more snot blocks in the world for me!

21. The year I bought my first fashion item - an Alannah Hill top - and cut my bum-length hair to my shoulders and dyed it black with blue streaks, all for my 21st birthday party. I still have the top but I'm significantly less chubby than I was then, so my b00bs fall out of it now and I need to tape myself in.

Scottish Tablet cupcakes with whisky frosting. Good thing whisky is such a harsh taste because it balanced the tablet (made of caramel condensed milk and butter) nicely. I made them for an online international ingredient swap.

22. The year I started dating my first proper boyfriend, Hamish. Like James, he was lovely and not at all bad like Taran! He also broke the four-year mandrought (punctuated only by bouts of unrequited love and a sneaky pash or two). We had a lot of fun in the three years we were together, but towards the end I realised I wasn't very kind to him and didn't like who I was when I was being mean and he deserved better, so I ended it. I think it was a Missy Higgins song that convinced me to pull the pin (which one, I can't recall).

23. My Honours year at university. I did a project on Weed Invasion at High Country Huts, and spent the year hiking and 4WDing to 26 cattlemens/hikers/skiiers huts in the Victorian Alps. Soooo much fun, and I think I left a little piece of my heart up there. In hindsight, though, I nearly died doing it - I had a seizure one morning up on the Bogong High Plains near Falls Creek. At the time I had been on medication for epilepsy for about a decade, even though what was causing the seizures was actually my heart not beating properly and starving my brain of oxygen. Morons. I guess that explains why I faded in and out of consciousness twice (I distinctly recall the neurologist not believing me about that, or about how short a period I was out for), and can remember screaming out for help in the two seconds I came to, even though I knew I was totally alone and 10km from civilization. Luckily, because it was my heart and not my brain, once it started beating properly I was bright and perky and capable of thinking clearly, so I packed up my tent, doctored myself to restore my body's balance in every means available to me (I drank about a litre of water with electrolyte replacements in it, ate some breakfast to boost my blood sugar and gave my limbs a good stretch), and hiked on out of there.

If I could only eat one dessert for ever... okay, let's rephrase that. If I could eat only one bakery item forever, it would be a strawberry tart. These are a close second, and it wasn't bad for a tart that came from a booth at Flinders Street Station!

24. I spent the start of this year backpacking through Europe with my BFF Ness, and in the second part of the year I got my current job. That trip was pretty darned awesome - UK, France (plus Monaco), Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Spain, Switzerland (plus Lichtenstein, where we skiied. How many of you can say that? Yeah, I thought so *looks smug*) and Italy. What a fabulous trip. I discovered that you can get a decent bottle of wine for less than two Euros; that if you survive on cheese sandwiches you can splash a little in other areas; that you can be incredibly attracted to someone for their mind/intelligence; that European skifields don't hire out ski clothing because everyone already owns it; that travelling in Europe in winter means that everything is cheaper and less crowded; that the American accent outside of its native setting could cut through concrete (although maybe that has more to do with the type of Americans who are loud at major tourists sites and not the fact that they are American - some of the most wonderful people I met backpacking were American, and they were very quiet and respectful); and that you will always pack something that you don't wear and swear never to do it again, only to re-offend on your next trip.

We got this custard-filled almond croissant at Hoboken cafe in Hosier Lane, Melbourne after the Run Melbourne fun run. I think they kind of lost our order when we swapped tables so a larger group could have more space, so this was their way of apologising for the wait. The service was brilliant once they remembered we were there, and I completely accept their apology :) I will write a review on them at a later date.

25. The year Kirsti and I sent several billion emails between us to hold onto our collective sanities whilst bored at work, and ended up planning a trip to South America for the following year. Also the year I broke up with Hamish; I got a killer haircut at Jools for Jim (they have massagey seats at the basins! Bliss!); my friend Matt took me to his company's corporate Christmas party in Sydney and I realised how much companies spend on people higher up the food chain (and I'm still not sure if they were serious when they tried to poach me...); and I shared a house with Sheepy, a (obviously, at least, obvious to an Australian!) Kiwi that I worked with. Sheeps and I spent many a lively evening playing guitar, drinking red wine, debating God (his corner) versus Darwin (my corner), and eating Malteasers in front of The Biggest Loser. That was a pretty big year of personal growth for me (not related to the Malteasers), plus I really enjoyed living on a farm. A dog called Happy even came with the house, not to mention Spider Sheep (long story...)!

Instead of a birthday cake for each of us in the office, the budget belt was tightened and we got one cake for all seven of us who were born in July! I mean, what are the chances of that, in an office of fourteen people??? That's pretty amazing! Okay, so now that I've though about it a little harder there's a one-in-twelve chance (or is it one-in-168?), because each birthday is a discrete event. I think. Shut up, that's why!

26. The year that I went to South America, backpacked around Chile, Argentina, Uraguay and Brazil with my friend Amanda, then swapped her for Kirsti in Peru where we (I) ate alpaca, did the Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu, and shortly thereafter I discovered that what they had thought was epilepsy for about thirteen years turned out to be quite a serious congenital heart condition. As in, the first symptom for many people is death. Oops. 10 days in ICU, a lift with the Peruvian airforce and a trip home flying business class with a Candian doctor pushing me about in a wheelchair and I was home. I lovvvve the pointy end of the plane :)

Jelly slice. Om nom nom. If you have never eaten one you need to. STAT! Please also disregard the fact that the footpath is in better focus than the slice. Let's just pretend that my vision blurred in the ecstacy of biting into this slice, mmmkay?

27. The year I visited Thailand, and also lived in a mansion by the beach. If you don't believe me, get on Nearmap and check out 113 Seaview road, Tennyson, South Australia. Actually, truth be told, I lived in a stinking hot/freezing cold granny flat off the back of the garage with a seriously crap shower, not in the weirdly-shaped mansion bit overlooking the ocean. In case you couldn't tell, the place was built on feng shui principles. Zoom in and you'll see some interesting lines. Oh! Actually, I lived in one mansion and one large, Victorian era sandstone house by the beach - 30 Esplanade, Semaphore South, SA. Also directly on the beach, give or take a road. What can I say - rent is cheap in South Australia! And no, I wouldn't be giving you the address if I lived there still ;) This is also the year I lost 10kg (turns out weight loss = calories in - calories out! And exercise and healthy eating really help with that! They were telling the truth in the magazines all these years! Who knew!), and the year I met Boy, who charmed me senseless, turned my world upside-down and opened my eyes to so many new things. Never have I felt so intensely about someone.

Cherry ripe slice. Do they do these in other countries or are Cherry Ripes an Australian thing? Coconut with cherry, covered (or, as the advertisers would say, enrobed - sounds way sexier, huh?) in chocolate. Oh, yes.

28. The year I bought a house, got engaged, went on a cruise, visited Darwin for the first time and went to a Bon Jovi concert. Big year. Good year.

My birthday donut appears again!

29. The year that went pretty horrendously wrong for a lot of reasons. Firstly, the arse fell out of my universe and our wedding had to be postponed. But on the plus side, I really enjoyed work and found my tree-huggin' passion again! I also joined a gym for the first time and loved that, and I went on my first overnight hike since discovering I suffer from the tendency to try to die... oh, and then I tried to die. Oops. So I caught a chopper home (what is it with me and being air lifted? Guess I like to fly!), spent five nights in hospital and rung in the new year alone with a front row seat/bed for the fireworks in Melbourne - I could see three different lots of fireworks from my window. All things considered - chopper ride plus fireworks plus a meal on a compartmentalized tray which I LOVE (yes, I am a little bit nuts, why do you ask?) - it wasn't a complete disaster.

Obviously, the last photo being my birthday donut, I am out of cake photos. That's not to say I haven't eaten cake since - I have indeedy, and boy oh boy I'd murder for a custard slice right now (not literally, of course) - but it stopped being about the cake. Yaknow? So instead you get a pair of swordsmen at the Caboolture Medieval Festival (where I ate the langos - revert to the cakey section of this post).

Aaaaaaaaand 30! The year I wasted half a year terrified that 30 would be awful because of all the things that had gone wrong recently and the fact that I wasn't anywhere near where I had expected at this pointin time... and then discovered once I got here that it was actually quite okay.

The year I took the bull by the horns and actually took a few cake decorating classes (hitherto my style has been to just wing it with things I have a natural talent for, because that way, if I fail, then it's not as disappointing a failure. I know, that's a really stuffed up philopsophy, hey? But no more! I'm a sensible 30-year-old now! Life is short! Give it your all!).

The year my ICD was replaced with a pacemaker-ICD named Zappy II in the most excruciatingly painful surgery - says the girl who has never had open heart surgery or a hip replacement or that limb-elongating surgery which apparently really blows - evahhhh (plus I tried to die again in the process). Following on from that, the year that I had to say goodbye to my naturally low heart rate (48-52bpm by day, and anywhere from 29-48 overnight) in favour of having a machine beat my heart for me at 80bpm, which I still hate, but which I'm sure has prevented a few episodes already so I should jolly well be thankful.

The year that I decided I will be going to Mexico to see what I missed when I was Medivaced, plus Africa (hopefully that trip doesn't end like the last one did...).

The year I made new friends, reconnected with old friends and family, and drifted further away from others.

The year I became a silver frequent flyer, both with Qantas and Virgin (and you wouldn't believe how bad the regular service is by contrast... okay, maybe you would!).

The year I realised that I do actually have a lifetime to do those things on that list, that there is no arbitrary point by which they must be complete, and hey, if I die before that happens then it's likely to be sudden and I won't have time for regrets!

I'll finish this off with a picture of my birthday cake. Yep, I made it myself. I'm quite proud of myself, and yes - I am considering doing this as a sideline to the tree huggin' thing. Mud cake with dark chocolate and raspberry ganache for top and bottom layers, and the middle layer is white mud cake with white chocolate, lime and coconut ganache. I actually preferred the middle layer! PS - I wore those sensible, old-person AirFlex shoes to my 30th. But they were black patent leather stiletto Mary-Janes, so I think that balance things out.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to my first 29 years - good, bad or indifferent - because who we are today is the sum of our experiences thus far, and thus far it has been one hell of a ride. Thanks to those of you who came out of the woodwork in this most recent, most challenging year so far and supported me - I'm sure you know who you are, and if you don't, well I'm not going to name you so too bad! Thanks also to everyone who has ever supported me and who intends to do so in the future.

Here's to my thirties, friends - may it be a decade of balance; fun; challenging myself; travel; love; good food; good friends; good health; family; laughter; stability; adventures (the good sort); learning... and hopefully just a little bit of wisdom follows all of that!


  1. 1. Wait, those were AIRFLEX shoes???? They'd have to be the highest Airflex shoes of ever, surely?! I didn't think they made anything with a non-chunky heel. Who knew?!
    2. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, cake...
    3. I ate alpaca too. I just wasn't brave enough to commit to ordering an entire serving! ;)
    4. Was the day you broke up with Hamish the day you smashed the lights off the ute at Chaddy? Because I can remember thinking "WOW. She is, like, over the top, crazy upset about those lights..."

    1. I'm such an old lady that I actually *prefer* chunky heels!

      Well, I learned some things from reading this post! Glad you ate lots of cakes and have lots to look forward to :-)

    2. It's actually a little bit strange - despite the heels, they were actually really easy to walk in. Which is really saying something considering I normally wear boots or sneakers!

    3. Oh and @Kirsti, they weren't the highest shoes in the store! They had a few higher pairs that didn't have the strap, and I couldn't walk in them without my heel falling out so I gave them a miss. And yep, the light smashing was the same day as the break up. Best-laid plans for retail therapy fell flat that day. I seem to recall that I was not only upset over the break-up and the broken lights, but also over the fact that I didn't find a single darned thing worth buying!

  2. Wow! What a way to look back and celebrate! Great many yummy desserts, you've made me hungry ;) Here's to a so many wonderful years and many, many adventures ahead of you!

  3. What a 30th my friend, happy belated birthday :D
    You enjoyed it to the fullest!!!
    And no 30 is definitely not old :)
    Take it from a teen!

    Choc Chip Uru

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Having reached 30 I am ever so glad to have discovered it isn't old at all! :)

  4. Happy Birthday (it seems I am late) ... you are still so young! :) (I am 33 so I have to say that!) ... sorry I didn't really read everything... I got distracted with the food pictures! YUM!

    1. I can't say I blame you - the food was yummy and it was quite an epic post. And 33 isn't that old, either ;)

  5. I love the look of your birthday cake and congrats on making it yourself! Happy 30th! What a milestone! I love the cake decorating you have done too and I'm so pleased you now have a heart beating at the proper rate - what an ordeal you have been through. May the next decade be your best ever xx

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