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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stress less, smile more - 7 tips for reducing stress

To say last week was a stressful week was an understatement.  I had (or at least was meant to have) a head office visit at work. Not just any head office visit, I'm talking owner of the company, CEO, national manager and state manager. Like major visit. I have never met the owner in the whole five years Ive worked there (because he lives in France - lucky for some) so I was beyond paranoid about it. After rushing around like a crazy person all week making sure everything was perfect, they didn't even come. Sometimes they come for a visit and just skip our store, but this time they didn't come at all. Like didn't even set foot in the state. Biggest, most stressful visit of my life and it never even happened! Beyond annoyed. I swear they do this on purpose so they know we are running around making everything perfect, just to make sure we are 'focused'. I could have done without it.

I'm no stranger to stress, seriously. I usually stress about everything, including stuff that has already happened and is over and stuff that could happen, but hasn't actually happened yet. I'm surprised I don't have constant headaches and my hair isn't falling out all the time. Somehow I have learnt to cope over the years. I thought I would share my tips for reducing stress with you guys. They always seem to help me.

7 simple ways to reduce stress

1. Smile - Find reasons to smile, even little ones. While you're smiling you wont be worrying about the problem at hand, just thinking about something that makes you happy.

2. Laugh out loud - Laughter really is the best medicine. Do something funny, pull a funny face in front of the mirror. Dance like a crazy person in the car on the way to work (and pretend nobody can see you doing it). Trust me its funny dancing only with your arms while seated, it will definitely make you laugh (just don't do it while the car is in motion - traffic lights are always good for this).

3. Listen to music - Not sad music, something you love. I find listening to music really loud or with headphones on is really good. It helps you block out everything else that is happening. Music can also help you to smile & laugh.

4. Dance like no-one is watching - This is my favourite one. Dancing is fun all the time, but especially good when your stressed. Just listen to the music and move to the beat. Who cares if you look strange, your dancing like no-ones watching so it doesn't matter! And if someone does happen to walk in, no problem, that just leads to laughing which as mentioned above is good too.

5. Ask for a hug - Its OK to ask for a hug. They make you feel protected, needed, wanted and loved all at the same time. All good feelings for when your stressed. They also make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside (which is better than feeling like your going to throw up).

6. Exercise - This is one of the best ways to release stress. If you have pent up anger or frustration go for a run, lift some weights or better yet do some boxing. It will get rid of the stress and make you stronger and fitter at the same time.

7. Look at the sky - I am obsessed with this even when I'm not stressed. I love looking up at the clouds and the sun. They say sunlight helps when your depressed so maybe that's why I like it - all the vitamin D soaking up into me. I remember as a child lying on the trampoline just looking up at the sky for ages. Its equally as good to look up at the sky at night. All the stars are so calming.

So there you go, next time your stressed try one of those (or all of them if your super stressed) and it will make you feel at least a little bit better I promise.

Toni x

Friday, August 24, 2012

How to make Chicken Casserole from scratch

chicken casserole sprinkled with parsley

I never thought I would be posting a recipe on here, but here goes... I came home tonight all prepared to make dinner for myself. I had all the ingredients I needed and the Masterfoods recipe base. All set, so I thought. I got everything out to make dinner and for some reason actually checked the use by date on the back of the recipe base and realised crap its out of date. Not like a few days, were talking two months. For a moment I did consider using it anyway and risking food poisoning, but then my brain kicked in. So, then I got resourceful and decided to make the recipe base myself. All simple savings style using what I had in the pantry and backyard. So here’s my simple cheap chicken casserole recipe to save dinner, if you should ever find yourself in this situation or if you just want to try a cheap and easy dinner option. No oven needed, ready in 30 mins (including prep time).


  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 tomato paste sachet (or 2 tablespoons of tomato paste)
  • 1 400g can of tomatoes
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 brown onion
  • 4 mushrooms
  • Garlic (paste or 2 cloves)
  • Parsley

chicken casserole ingredients 


  1. Cut chicken into strips.
  2. Slice mushrooms, onions and parsley.
  3. Put rice on to boil for 15 mins.
  4. Sauté onions and garlic for 1 min until translucent. Add chicken and brown.
  5. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, mushrooms and parsley (save some parsley to garnish). Stir.
  6. Cook for 10-15 mins stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through.
  7. Serve in a bowl sprinkled with parsley.

chicken casserole with cheese and parsley

Optional changes:

  • You don’t need to add mushrooms if you don’t like them. You could substitute with olives or cauliflower.  
  • Instead of parsley you can use basil or chives, depends on your personal taste.
  • You can substitute rice with cous cous or pasta. I like it with any option, just depends what I have in the pantry at the time.
  • Grate cheese over the top to serve.
  • This recipe makes enough for 2 people for dinner, however if you want left overs for lunch or you just eat more than me you can use 2 chicken breasts and 2 cups of rice/cous cous/pasta.

I was pretty happy with myself to come up with a solution for dinner. Given that I’m home by myself takeaway would’ve been the easy option. If you’re forced to stop and be resourceful  you really do find out just how much you can make with the few items you have in your pantry.
Oh and it tasted amazing if you’re wondering. Just like if I used the recipe base. 
Toni x

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The elephant that hides in the room

When I ended my marriage it was hard. Not hard to leave the marriage, but hard emotionally knowing that going forward I would always have a problem to deal with. A problem that most likely would not go away and would affect any future relationship. Well my entire life going forward to be honest. It’s the elephant in the room that I have to carry around with me for the rest of my life, or until it kindly decides to piss off and leave me alone - which I’m hoping it chooses to do. Usually it sits contently in the back of my mind without making a sound, but occasionally it gets restless and determined to be heard. One day I hope it will run away and join the circus where it belongs. The elephant is my infertility.
In a way I’m glad and also resentful that I have fertility problems. Sounds weird right?  Allow me to explain, I’m glad because it meant that I never fell pregnant during my marriage. Whilst I would have loved my child or children unconditionally, I would have felt sorry for them having my ex as their father. I’m glad that we don’t have a child linking us together; I am free to go off and live my life completely separate from him. A child would have tied me to him forever. Again, I would've loved that child dearly, but I’m immensely happy that any children I may have in the future will have a loving father, not an a-hole as their dad.
I’m also resentful for the infertility because it means that I can’t just decide I want to have a baby and go ahead and get pregnant. I’ve mentioned before about my incessant need to plan, so the fact that I can’t control this really annoys the crap out of me. I was born to be a mother. My heart aches so much that I can’t experience it for myself. Thankfully I have my two beautiful nieces so I get to live vicariously through them as an aunty and I love being an aunty. In fact I would go as far as to say I’m a pretty dam awesome aunty. My brother might disagree, but in the eyes of a two year old girl I’m pretty sure I’m cool.
The elephant in the room has reared its ugly head of late. I think it’s because I’m at the age now where all my friends are having babies.  Three friends have all had babies in the last month and my close friend is also pregnant. There are babies all around me and yet none are mine. I hate that infertility makes me think I’m missing out. I’m still so happy for them all, but there is a tiny part of me deep down inside my heart that is sad.
I think the elephant has also appeared again because I've found T and he is so dam awesome. Somehow I managed to find a man who wanted children as much as me, but is just as happy if it remains the two of us. I never thought I would get this lucky. How did I possibly find the perfect guy who understands my issues and still loves me anyway? That was my biggest fear when I was by myself. Now I’m scared. What if we can’t have kids? It would be so cruel; to finally find the one who I know is perfect for me and not be able to make the most beautiful gorgeous babies together. I almost feel guilty in advance, like I’m pre-empting that I’m going to shatter his dreams. I’m over thinking I know. I can already hear him telling me off for worrying about this; in fact I know that’s exactly what he will do when he reads this. Its making me second guess writing this, but I need to get it out of my head. I feel a brain dump is in order and if I get it out onto paper (or the computer screen in this case) then maybe it will make sense. My feelings will suddenly become logical and I will be able to analyse them without going around and around in circles. Maybe I need therapy? Maybe I need to sleep. More than likely I need to not write about these things when I’m over tired.
So anyway, that’s my elephant in the room. It’s a part of me and I accept that. It doesn't mean that I won’t challenge it and I certainly intend on beating it. It annoys me that it keeps coming up at random times even when it’s not an issue in my immediate life at the moment. I didn’t choose it, I don't like it and I can’t control it. I just need to get it out of my head right now.
Thanks for letting me vent. I already feel better.
Toni x
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Best. Day. Ever

Don't you love it when you wake up expecting nothing from the day ahead and it turns into the best day ever? It wasn't even on purpose.

Monday started out as an ordinary day off. I slept in, probably too long to be honest, but its what I do on my days off. Then, for no apparent reason, I got breakfast in bed - eggs, toast, hashbrown and bacon. Admit it your salivating reading this aren't you? If I'm truthful I kind of ruined the surprise of breakfast in bed by waking up and getting out of bed, but upon being told I was going to get breakfast in bed I got back upstairs and back into bed real quick. Can't miss out on these things because of minor technicalities, it wouldn't be fair. By the way breakfast was awesome.

Then we went to check out the new Masters store. I went there thinking it was going to be just another hardware store, but turns out its a massive store filled with pretty much everything I love. Its got your traditional hardware gear, tools, appliances, bathroom stuff, flooring, doors, paint and my favourite - wall art & clocks. I lasted over an hour in there without getting bored, and I'm a woman. Its like Bunnings + Good Guys + Ikea all in the one place. If you're in Australia you know what I mean, if you're not then refer to previous description above. I spent about $800 so I should probably limit my trips there in the future (the same as I have to limit my trips to Ikea).

Afterwards I was content with going home to catch up on some housework I had been putting off for the past few days. However, half way home T (my boyfriends crap pseudonym for here) asked if I wanted to go visit my nieces. Stupid question really, when do I ever not want to see the babies? So, on top of breakfast in bed and a trip to my new favourite store I also got to stop in and play with Elouise and Izzy for an hour. Kids are so much fun, seriously. So many cuddles and kisses. It was even funny, mildly hilarious actually, when Elouise started telling me off while pointing her finger at me. Not fun however when my brother decided to shoot me to death with a nerf gun. Seriously why are guys obsessed with nerf guns? I dont get it.

Anyway, what I thought was going to be an ordinary day laying about the house infact turned into the best day ever. You will be happy to know that in the end when I did get home I still mopped and vaccuumed the house instead of laying about exhausted (which is what I wanted to do). We then hung all of the prints that I'd bought for the house.

What I learnt was I love breakfast in bed - I think we should do that more often. Shopping is fun when its for house stuff. I cant wait to have kids. Decorating makes me happy. And, putting all these individual things together in the one day creates unrivalled happiness and makes T the best boyfriend ever!

Never underestimate how much happiness little things can bring you.

Toni xx
Saturday, August 4, 2012

I think its time for a holiday

Randomly today I decided it might be time to plan a holiday. Not just a little holiday either. I’m thinking along the lines of taking a few weeks off work and actually getting on a plane to go overseas as opposed to taking a weekend and driving 2 hours somewhere. I’ve done a few of the little holidays this year, but I think it’s time for a big one.

It’s been 14 years since I have been overseas and I’ve always wanted to do more travelling, but never enough to actually start planning to go somewhere. I kind of got over the travelling bug because I did all my travelling overseas before I was 15. I never did the gap year between high school and university and I also didn’t do the obligatory end of university trip either, or the go and work overseas for a year trip. I never thought I missed out, until now. This year seems to be the year of holidays and adventure, for everyone else that is except me. So many of my friends or friends of friends and even my own mother are going or have already been on an overseas trip this year. Finally I feel like maybe I should do it too.

Now, the dilemma, where to go??

I have soooo many places on my list. I want to party hard in Ibiza, Cancun & Rio. Eat my way through Italy and gorge on chocolate in Switzerland. Enjoy the scenery in Spain & Greece. I'd also love to re-visit Paris, London & Scotland. And I would love to go anywhere that looks like this...

Where to go first? I think a Europe trip might be in order.

I have seven weeks of annual leave up my sleeve so now I just need to work out where to go and when to do it. Oh, and how to pay for it....

Does anybody have any ideas of other places to go or have you been to any of these places?

Toni xx