Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Crepecakes" and are these best ever muffins

Bella likes crepes but gets frustrated when the contents start to spill out of them. Just like me she doesn't like the taste of self-raising flour ("mum, my teeth tingle") so she is not keen on pancakes. So we came up with "crepecakes" - crepes shaped like pancakes. Voila!

I make them bland, so they are great with both savoury and sweet condiments.

Also, I'm constantly looking for dessert recipes that are not ladden with sugar and fat. I came across these muffins here The author claims that this is the "best ever muffin recipe". I did cringe at the amount of self-raising flour (both plain and wholemeal) but I liked the other ingredients - carrot, apple, raisins, oats, natural yoghurt, apple sauce instead of butter or oil. I replaced raisins with cranberries and added some chopped walnuts as well. The muffins are really tasty, although I think that next time I will add some cinnamon to enhance the flavour. Best ever muffins? Probably not, but they are quick to make, healthy and tasty, and I will be making them again.

My trifty store cloches came in handy! Oh, and can you spot Bella :)?

Friday, October 28, 2011


Finally, I am sufficiently inspired to write something. I wondered if people would be interested in reading about my weight loss challenges, as those of you who still seem to be following me (a few have dropped off - don't blame them) didn't sing up for those sort of posts.

So just briefly, the 'renovation of me' continues and I am happy to say that I have shed nearly 15kg so far. The journey hasn't been without roadblocks and barriers, but no journey is straightforward. During that time, the house renovations and projects have been put aside. But now that the spring has finally sprung I feel very inspired to tackle some new projects.

But first is first - I needed to clear and declutter. It was the garden first today (it was such a glorious day for it), then my study aka junk room and finally my wardrobe. The charities will be pleased with a load of clothes and knick-knacks I gathered today - phew, the amount of stuff we collect!

Here are a few photos of our garden today.

Pomegranate in bloom

Beautiful pomegranate flower also known as Persephone's fruit

This was a tiny pup 2 years ago!

a pretty side of our garden

Add caption

we 'borrow' large gums from our neighbours and the park we back onto

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Different kind of reno - the renovation of me

Hi all

I've been absent from the blogging world for a while, and for a very good reason. For years I've been complaining about my weight and general well being and, unfortunately, like so many others, I expected a silver bullet or a magic potion to help me get rid of that problem.

So after some serious soul searching I decided to try Michelle Bridges's 12 Week Body Transformation program You know her - the seriously tough trainer from the Biggest Loser.

It is nearly week 6 of the program and I am over the moon. It is the best present I could have given myself. I've lost 5 kg which is half way to my goal weight for this round. You may wonder why I hadn't spoken about this sooner. The truth is I had doubts about the program and about my own willingness to stick to it.

I have to admit that in the past I was a bit snobbish when people told me they were on a diet or joined the Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. Yes, some truly lost weight, but many put it back on as soon as they were off the program. Despite hearing great things about the 12wbt, I still believed it was a fad. I was still sceptical even after I joined and the doubts didn't leave me until week 2 of the program.

But on the cusp of week 6, I humbly and happily admit that I was wrong. Big time. Beside eating cleanly and exercising like a mad woman (I power-walked 7km on Sunday - I am still in awe of myself for doing that), I have gained confidence, become better organised (there's lots of cooking, scheduling exercise, work, family, renovation,etc) and have adopted a new perspective - life is no longer a glass half empty, it is a glass half full.

My biggest challenge was to resist "the call of the sweet fang". I didn't have a sweet tooth, seriously it was a fang! The first two weeks were hell - I had withdrawal symptoms - and endless morning teas and "muffin meetings" at work were a huge challenge. But, I'm happy to say that the monster is safely caged now. No, not caged - that implies that it might escape. The monster is gone - it has been defeated!

None of this would have been easy without Michelle's guidance and a well designed program. But what is truly unique is the way the participants have organised themselves. My biggest inspiration and motivation to keep at it is the brilliant 12wbt Perth Crew, a bunch of women (and one and half guys) who cheer and support each other, exercise together, party together, kick butts when kicking is required. There are some truly inspirational people in the group who also blog about their experiences - these are from two awesome ladies from the Perth crew and

I'm sorry for such a long post, but I simply wanted to share this with the world. OK, all 11 of my wonderful followers, and I already hear you cheering me on. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Maja xx

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A post that's long overdue

Hi all
Long, long time ago I promised to post pictures of our living room reno but somehow the pics don't truly convey how lovely the room is now.

Goodbye to the flaking paint, gray ceiling, ugly fan and fake ceiling speakers.

Hello to the lovely white walls, billowy curtains and a fireplace. And we only spent less than $1000, electrician being the most expensive. We replaced the old ceiling fan with the new Fanaway and I can't speak highly enough about this brilliant product. It is quiet and when not in use, the transparent blades fold away so it is only a light fitting. Brilliant!

The gas fireplace is now fully enclosed. We bought some new furniture and the bookcase we found fitted perfectly in the new space that we constantly get asked if we had it made to order. Unfortunately, my camera makes the furniture look yellowish. It is actually French oak with a grayish finish.

So, now I'm on the look out for some nice artwork, a coffee table, a couple of armchairs, a mirror for over the fireplace, cushions, etc.

Our Bella reckons that this is now the most beautiful room in the house and that her dad is the cleverest dad in the world. That's one of the reasons she wants to be in every shot.

trying some artwork

here she goes again

What do you think?

Maja xxx

Monday, April 25, 2011

Anzac - our real Australia day

I have only been in this country for 15 years, yet Anzac day always reduces me to tears. It is an amazing day when the whole nation stops to remember all those who sacrificed their lives to protect this wonderful country, and also to celebrate those who returned and who struggled to resume their lives. 

It is wonderful to see all those people going to the dawn services or making pilgrimage to Gallipoli, France, Korea, Vietnam. What is more amazing, the numbers seem to be increasing.

I recently 'rescued' a book by Alan Moorehead called "Gallipoli". The book was published in 1956 and what struck me was this description of Gallipoli:

"For nearly fourty years the cemeteries have been tended with great devotion by a Major Millington, an old Australian soldier. He has a curious existence, for at Chanak on the Narrows, where he has his house, he is in a Turkish military area and may not move more than a thousand paces in any direction without escort. However, the young Turkish conscripts accompany him willingly enough as he goes over the penninsula month by month and year by year to supervise his staff of local stonemasons and gardeners. ...[], the Turkish gardeners work well; no wall around the French and British cemeteries is allowed to crumble, no weed is anywhere allowed to grow, and now in the nineteen-fifties the gardens are more beautiful than ever. Yet hardly anyone ever visits them. Except for occasional organized tours not more than half a dozen visitors arrive from year's end to the other. Often for months at a time nothing of any consequence happens, lizards scuttle about the tombstones in the sunshine and time goes by in an endless dream." 

What a contrast to what we've seen today. As the author of this article says, today certainly felt like our real Australia day.

Lest we forget.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Today I'm Grateful...

I am not a religious person, but this morning I sent a little thanks into the ether for all the good things in my life. You see, on this day, 15 years ago, my husband and I arrived in Perth with three bags, a cutlery set (a wedding gift from my mum) and $500. We didn't care that we had nothing; we were lucky to escape the conflict in former Yugoslavia alive. Our new life in Australia hasn't been without setbacks, but my husband calls these 'happy problems'. Like today, we still marvel at our good luck for being given such a gift - to live in this wonderful country, amongst such wonderful and generous people.  We have everything we'd ever dreamt of and more - a lovely home, great friends, a beautiful daughter and moreover, a chance to live our lives to the fullest.

All the best

Maja xxx

Friday, January 28, 2011

When it rains it pours

Just when I thought that we've seen the end tail of natural disasters across the country for this summer, Queensland is bracing for a cyclone 'Anthony' and WA for a cyclone 'Bianca'.

Cyclones are fickle and have a tendency to change course, but strong winds and more rain are likely to cause damage, so our generosity and help to the affected residents, particularly in Queensland, are still very much needed.

I hope that the Prime Minister's levy won't stop the flow of personal donations because these go directly to the people such as James and many others.

So if you'd still like to help and like to read, particularly if you like Australian speculative fiction, then you could perhaps do this.

Maja xxx

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Australia Day!

I hope you've had a lovely day today. We celebrated at home, with barbecue, of course, and lamb and prawns were on the menu.

This day means different thing to different people, but we always say a little prayer of thanks for being given a chance to live in such a beautiful country and amongst such wonderful people.

How is this beautiful sunset over the Hillarys boat harbour? Just takes my breath away.

Maja xxx

photo by me

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The year ahead

If you remember, in my previous post I mentioned that on 1 January I wrote an uplifting post that was all about great things that I would do in 2011.

So I looked back at that goal-achieving post and this is what I had written then:

"This time of the year a famous quote by F.M. Knowles comes to mind. "He who breaks a resolution is a weakling. He who makes one is a fool." We've all been here, making promises to ourselves that definitely this year we will lose weight, or start going to the gym, stop smoking, cutting up the credit card, etc. And it never happens. So for a few years I made no plans, I let the things unravel on their own accord, but that doesn't seem to work for me either, as I feel I've been left with far too many loose ends and unfinished projects.

So 2011 is going to be the year of goals, commitment and discipline. I got this idea from Julie Isaac (she is a creativity coach) who says that
"Without commitment discipline is impossible,
With commitment, discipline is inevitable."

So this year I commit to doing this: 
  Home Renovations
  1. Finish all projects from the 'unfinished projects' list before starting a new one.  Here are a few projects that are on this list: a pantry door (pantry is door-less since 2009), water fountain (a beautiful vessel waiting since last year), veggie garden (bare patch of land just hurts my eyes), install a clothes line (old and rusty Hills Hoist was removed in 2005!)
  2. Renovate the laundry. Only after the 'unfinished projects' list gets ticked off.  
  1. Write every day for half an hour. Just like exercise, no excuses. It will be in the evenings after Bella's in bed and hubby is happily nestled in front of the TV. I think this is achievable and may suppress this crazy urge linked to goal number 2.
  2. Gather all loose bits of my novel. I write a lot but I write everywhere (whilst commuting to work, shopping, etc) and on anything (backs of old envelopes, my work computer, my laptop, post-it-notes, notebooks). I get an idea and have to write it down right there and then, but later have no idea what had happened to that. So this year I will gather all that and transcribe it all into my laptop. 
  3. Join a writing group
  4. Start a new blog about books and writing. (Stop press: new blog is up an running, see here).
Home life (family. me)
  1. Organise a family holiday. This doesn't come easy to us. We tend to sacrifice our holidays for home projects. In 2009 we decided to install photovoltaic panels (aka solar panels), in 2010 I had to dash back to see my family (yes they are in Europe, but that certainly wasn't a holiday). So as we speak I'm making plans for a holiday in Sydney and Gold Coast in September. This will be our first family holiday since Bella was born 5 years ago!
  2. Complete my post-grad studies. I only have one unit to go, and I've been postponing it, rescheduling, changing it around. Again, I sense the end and lose the interest. But I am committed to put this baby to rest in 2011.
  3. Get Bella through her first year of full time school. This is mostly about getting her earlier to bed. She's stopped having daytime naps and that has helped.
  4. Organise the study. This room has been a dumping ground during our renovations, but very slowly this room is once again starting to resemble a study that it once was. A few days ago I culled a lot of paperwork (old bills, bank statements, even my payslips from 1998!) and the room (and I)already feels better organised. 
There. I apologise for the long post. I will leave you with a sneak peak of our living room reno. I will do a separate post once it is all done. 
Maja xxx


during (hubby did it all himself)

Friday, January 14, 2011

What a start....

On 1 January I drafted a rather uplifting post about all the things I want to achieve this year, only to be saddened by the passing of my beloved grandmother who I grew up with. Unfortunately, she is in Europe and it was impossible for me to get there for her funeral, so I've been grieving here by myself.

Also, seeing the unravelling of this huge disaster in Queensland, and reading that some of the bloggers I follow have been personally affected, has been heart wrenching. Here in WA, we've also had floods and bushfires. My heart goes out to all people who have been affected by one of these horrible events.

As for me, I get out of saddness and despair by keeping busy and focusing on all wonderful and beautiful sides of life. So, the first thing to do is to finish that uplifting post :).

Keep well

Maja xxx

Image source unknown (sorry)


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