Today is Sunday. And, incidentally, the last day of my NaBloPoMoMoMo. How did I do? Did I get a post in every day?

So what’s so special about Sundays?

On any typical visit to Brisbane, and for as long as I can remember, Sunday has been the day we visit Nanny and Grandpa’s place for a meal. Most recently (as in the last decade) it has been an 11am meal. We would normally stay for a couple of hours while Nanny served up 3 courses of delicious foods. It would be mostly the same each week, but every now and then she would surprise us with something “a bit different. Just for fun.”

We won’t be going to lunch at Nanny and Grandpa’s today. Nanny’s not doing so well. We don’t know what the future holds for her, but we do know that she won’t be cooking for us at her place again. It’s the end of an era. No more will we sit around Nanny and Grandpa’s kitchen table and laugh and joke and tell Nanny she has cooked too much again. Or listen to her and Grandpa tell stories. Or get a tap on the shoulder and be beckoned to the “back room” where she would give us a little present she had bought for us. We won’t get to see her wave us goodbye from her gate, not going inside until she can’t see the car anymore.

How do you say goodbye to someone who’s still here, but at the same time, isn’t?

And today we saw Grandpa!

Chance really put on a lovely show and it was lovely to see Grandpa with a smile on his face.

It’s been a very tough time for him, understandably, and it was great to see that he is being so well looked after. He is currently in a respite care facility and although he misses Nanny terribly and would rather be in his own home, he is doing as well as can be expected.

We saw Nanny again today and she actually opened her eyes and was reaching out to us which was really great. It’s still early days and things can change rapidly and significantly but we’re all hoping for the best.

I saw Nanny today

It was hard. Really hard. I haven’t had to face this sort of situation – sickness of a loved one – many times in my life. In fact, I can probably count on one hand. But today I saw a woman lying in bed, hooked up to leads and tubes, and I knew it was Nanny, but it wasn’t. This is how I remember Nanny:

I keep trying to reason with myself that Nanny is 87 (88 next month) and has had a great life and and and… but it doesn’t make it easier. This woman has been in my life in so many different ways from the day that I was born. And to see her this way is breaking my heart.

We don’t really know what the prognosis is at this stage; we just have to take it one day at a time. So that’s what we’ll do.

(Thank you so much for all your thoughts and prayers and texts.)

Nanny and Chance

While we were up in Brisbane, we visited Nanny & Grandpa each week. Almost as soon as we arrived, Nanny would tell me to sit and eat while she took Chance to the lounge room to play. Chance is Nanny & Grandpa’s first “grand-grand son” and they really doted over him. They didn’t quite understand that “Chance” is a name, so in true style, Nanny said to me “I just call him Harry.”

Nanny would sit herself down on the couch and put Chance on a cushion on a stool in front of her and tell him all about how life works.

And kept him cool in the warm Brisbane summer:
And sometimes he would go to sleep:
He really loves his Nanny!
The 4 generations together:

Chance is so lucky to have 4 great-grandmas and a great-grandpa. He hasn’t yet met his Ouma Lies in South Africa, as well as the rest of our family over there, but hopefully that will be on the cards in the next few years!

Our mammoth long weekend – days 1 & 2

Well it’s a good thing I have all this energy at the moment, as the 6-day-weekend we just had was not for the faint-hearted! It began on Thursday when we drove the kombi from Wang to Melbourne just after lunch, arriving around afternoon tea time to catch up with the staff at Newman College. It was really nice to see everyone and catch up on all their news, and to share my growing bump with them.

We then headed over to our friend’s place where Hubs and our friends headed out to a photography exhibition while I looked after their 2 & 4 year old sons and their neighbour’s 3 year old daughter. We had a great time in the bath (clearly that was the kids, not me) and had some dinner and then had lots of stories. I had them all in bed by 8pm and was commended for my “baby whispering”! I guess I just wore them all out with all those exciting stories!

We were up at 6am Friday for our 9am flight from Avalon. We drove the kombi to the airport hassle-free and the plane left basically on time. We arrived in Brizzie just after 10am (thanks to daylight savings) and headed over to Nanny and Grandpa’s for a spot of lunch. It was lovely to see them as usual and so good to have yummy Nanny food again! And she was very happy to see us, though she couldn’t help herself and told me I shouldn’t be flying now that I am a “big lady”. 🙂

A snap from lunch:

We then headed to St Andrew’s Uniting Church in town, the location of a very memorable day in December almost 3 years ago, for the wedding rehearsal for “Brisbane’s Wedding of the Year”. Hubs rehearsed walking the lovely bride down the aisle,

and it was a pretty typical wedding rehearsal, other than the pregnant lady sitting in the 3rd row having a little cry. Yes. At the rehearsal. You got something to say about that? I knew that the following day I would have to a) wear water-proof mascara and b) take extra tissues.

We had kept the evening plan-free just in case of a pre-wedding dinner, so when the bride and groom decided to just have a quiet night in, we arranged for Hubs’ Mum, sister and kids to come on over for dinner at my parent’s place. In the mean time, we hung around town for a bit and grabbed a coffee and just chilled out together. It was really lovely being back in our old stomping ground and enjoying the lovely warm weather. We were talking about who we might run in to, as is inevitable whilst in Brisbane. And sure enough, on our way to the rendezvous point to meet my Mum for our lift home, we ran into very good friends of mine and their 6 month old daughter whom I hadn’t met yet!

She. Was. Divine. And her dear parents were very lucky that I’m about to pop out one of our own, or I may have run off with their little cherub. I actually had tears of joy and awe at this gorgeous little girl (seeing a hormonal pattern here people??) I simply had to get some shots with her.

The lovely Henna and the gorgeous little baby Iida

It was SO nice to see our friends and have a little catch up! We headed back to Mum and Dad’s for a feast of seafood marinara and carbonara pasta and Nanny’s apple pie for dessert. And of course, we had to play with the lego as well.

Lego time!
And we had to take some fun photos! Mine’s the biggest!!

And our friend Ian popped over around dessert time as well, so that was another bonus! So that was the first 2 days of our awesome weekend – and they were the most restful days! So much more to come…

Pierogi Party!

My Nanny has been making pierogi for a LONG time. Ever since I can remember, pierogi has been part of  our family. We wouldn’t have it every weekend at Nanny’s, but certainly often enough for it to be a favourite. And I’ve only ever assisted Nanny with making it.

Until a couple of weekends ago.

A few girls at college, including Aleks from Poland, were keen for a pierogi party and they made it happen! I was SO excited, but very nervous. What if it was a disaster? What if I couldn’t cook pierogi? The pressure was intense!

We got together on the Saturday morning and with some tunes in the background, we got straight to work. We first mixed up the pasta dough and did a bit of kneading. Because we are non-discriminatory pierogi-makers, and there was a vegan amongst us, we made a few different types; the traditional pork, traditional spinach and feta, spinach and feta with rye dough, and spinach with rye dough (vegan).

 Wifey making the dough

Getting ready for kneading (with the tongue poked out in concentration)
And then there’s the rolling!
The rye dough was coming along very nicely as well! It was much more difficult to roll but Aleks did a super job!
Then cutting out the circles:
And the fun part! Filling the little friggers! I made up a traditional pork filling, but in hindsight I should have used more flavouring (salt, pepper, garlic, onion). I’ll do that next time.
This part is actually quite tricky. You want to put in enough meat to not have an “empty pierogi” once it’s cooked, but not so much that you can’t seal it, and susequently have the filling fall out during cooking. Easy does it…
Success! They look like Nanny’s! 
(Okay, so this wasn’t my first attempt – I think it was about number 6, but that’s not too bad!!)
We had quite a production line happening!
And the rye pierogi were looking fantastic also!
Next up, you boil them for about 10 minutes to cook the meat and pasta.
In the mean time, we were heating the butter in the pan ready for the final stage – frying! (Obviously we didn’t use butter for the vegan variety – oil worked well too). 
This is my “oh-my-goodness-they-look-like-Nanny’s-pierogi” look!
It seemed to be a success! And now for the taste test!
 Winners all round! They were SO GOOD. As I mentioned, the pork filling needed a bit more flavour, but the spinach and feta ones were just delish!
This was such a great day for me. I felt so good afterwards, knowing that this is something I can continue with my own family. It might take another 40 years, but maybe one day my pierogi will be as good as Nanny’s. Thanks Aleks, Alyssa and Chelsea (who didn’t make it into the photos cos she was too busy taking them!) for organising this. It really meant a lot to me and I had a GREAT time. 
Mmmmmmm…… pierogi……

Happy Anniversary Nanny and Grandpa!

Today is not only my Mum’s birthday (Happy Birthday Mum!!!) but it’s also the 60th Anniversary of when my grandparents landed in Australia. They were refugees from WWII and had a choice to come to either Canada or Australia, and luckily for me, they chose Australia! (Lucky, cos, you know, otherwise I wouldn’t exist. So maybe it’s lucky for ALL OF YOU!!! Ha!)

Mum and Dad wanted to commemorate this milestone by throwing Nanny and Grandpa a party, and Mum took it upon herself to make the coolest cake EVER!

Mum hired the cake tin from a cake shop and bought the accessories to put this creation together. When she first emailed it to me, I thought it was a picture from a magazine that she wanted to copy, but no! It was the real deal! I showed all the ladies here at work and they went berserk over it as I did!

Mum has made many of our cakes over the years, mainly from the Woman’s Day Birthday Cake Book. You know the one. I had the doll cake, the bunny, the monster, the piano (it was purple cos purple is my favourite colour and Mum would do anything for me), the sewing basket, a few numbers (like ONE – 3 cakes spelling it out!), the cricket bat (yes, I had the cricket bat) and a few more I’m sure. This is a bit of a hobby of Mums, but I reckon she could turn professional!

I hope you have a lovely birthday Mum! And I trust the Anniversary celebrations were a blast! 🙂

Updated: And here’s Nanny and Grandpa enjoying themselves on their special day:

Cooking with Nanny

I’ve written about my Nanny and Grandpa previously, and they have had such an amazing life that I could do a hundred posts about them. Today I would like to tell you about Cooking With Nanny. Nanny has been cooking for a very long time. She learnt to cook a lot of dishes when she was growing up in Ukraine, then some more when she was in Germany during the war, and she has continued to learn since being in Australia.

Of course she has a few staple dishes that we LOVE, and today I’m going to tell you about Cooking Pierogi with Nanny. When we were up for Christmas, Hubs and I stayed at Nanny and Grandpa’s place just before Christmas and I wanted to get some photos of us cooking together. Hubs did one better than that, and did some videoing without me knowing! It was such a lovely surprise when I got to watch them later!

First of all, you mix up the ingredients for the dough in an old saucepan that Nanny and Grandpa bought in Germany, around 60 years ago. Nanny doesn’t really measure things. It’s more like “2 big spoons flour, a few egg, some milk.”

And then you knead it like so: (listen to the audio! Classic Nanny!)

Nanny has the most amazing hands – they have been through so much, and I’m sure would have many stories to tell.

After kneading the dough (then letting Nanny knead it properly) you need to do some rolling. I’m pretty good at this part:

Next you cut the dough (it’s actually more like pasta) with Nanny’s aqua cup. It makes the perfect circle size for the pierogi. (Funny audio again):

And finally, the making of the pierogi. You put a heaped spoon of mince (hand-minced, prepared by Nanny the night before!) Again, listen to the audio. Priceless!

This is what they look like “raw”:

Then you boil some water and cook them in boiling water for 12 minutes:

Then put a wad of butter in the fry pan and go to town! This is the step that just makes them soooooooooo goooooooooood!

Oh! And for extra fatty goodness, don’t forget to fry up some bacon (til it’s super-crispy!) to put on top! Ta daaaaaah!

I really want to try making them myself down here in Melbourne. That really should be a New Year’s resolution!! Watch this space!

A dizzy Brizzy visit

Our recent trip home to Brizzy has made me homesick for the first time since being in Melbourne. We just had the most amazing time! Well, I did at least. Hubsband wasn’t feeling 100% but he made the most of it. Where do I start??

We arrived in Brisbane at 11pm and had to adjust to the 1 hour time difference. After a port/cuppa/glass of wine with Mum and Dad, we were off to bed. We had a lovely morning setting up at Nanny and Grandpa’s and Grandpa’s 90th birthday party kicked off around midday. It was raging! Well, as much as a 90th birthday party can be! We had a lovely afternoon and got to catch up with family and friends and got stuck in to some Amarula Cream which was just lovely. As you can imagine, there was plenty of food and mountains of desserts. We left around 6pm feeling full and primed for our next “event”.

In preparation for our visit, I sent word via the internet that we would be at our old local from about 6:30pm for anyone keen to catch up. I had a few replies so we were expecting a fairly quiet night with a few friends and a few beers. What we got was something entirely different, unexpected, and so very much appreciated. About 20 of our friends rocked up to the pub and we were there drinking beer (and Cosmos!!) catching up and taking VERY silly photos til after midnight! I was truly touched that so many of our friends made such a great effort to not only come out, but to stay til the end! (some even stayed longer than we did!) Hubs and I had to call it quits after midnight. We were utterly exhausted, and we still had 1 more party to go to for the weekend!

Mum celebrated her birthday on Sunday and my bro’s gf (let’s call her Kturtle) and I decided that something special needed to be done. Since I’m in Melbourne, Kturtle ended up doing ALL the work, but I know that it was a labour of love. You see, the thing about my Mum is that she does SO much for everyone else and expects nothing in return. So it’s nice to show her every now and then how much she is appreciated. I’m going to do a separate post about Mum’s birthday brekky, as there is just too much to show and tell!

Hubs and I arrived back at our doorstep at 9pm Sunday, happily exhausted after a fabulous trip home. And here’s what we have to show for it:

Nanny and Grandpa (check out the size of those cakes Mum made!!!)

The girls after beers, wines and cocktails!

The boys after beers, beers and beers!

Hubs is so pretty…

Sharing’s caring! Especially when it comes to Cosmopolitans!