Wednesday 18th October 2017

Letter to 20 year old Me. #LifeThisWeek. 40/52. 2017.115.

Letter to 20 year old Me. #LifeThisWeek. 40/52. 2017.115.

Prefacing my letter with this photograph. My eldest granddaughter is the age I am writing about. In fact she will be 21 before year’s end as I was too around this time of year. Thanks J for the inspiration and the LOVE you share with me and many. In fact, by co-incidence, J has posted her Sunday night vid on You Tube about her at 20! Neither of us knew what the other was up to. Love this.


Dear Denyse,

I remember you being 20 so well. It was the last year of teachers’ college. You were acing the pracs at the schools you were sent to and in fact those schools were great but you had something else on your mind. You were ready to flee Sydney weren’t you as your boyfriend of almost 3 years was going to a regional area for his first job after graduating Uni?  No longer a Northern Beaches girl like your friends from school, you were about to go BUSH…in fact to Barraba NSW that January 1970 but wait. There is a little more to remember before you became loaded with class teaching responsibilities and being ‘dropped’ by the long-term boyfriend….and not being sure of what was ahead after that.

Graduation as a teacher aged 20. End of 1969.

Social life aged 20. Uni balls were the best!

Teacher’s College mates and yes, pigtails on me.

So, in 1970 you had some highs and lows. However, you also had one of the best times socially as in the country back then teachers tended to group together and have dinners and parties and it was good. On October 17 1970 something VERY important to you then and now happened. You met the man who would become your life’s partner. He was a young 21 year old in his 3rd year of teaching in a small school beyond the mountains where you were teaching. But once the love grew and GREW, you no longer wanted to be apart. In fact, after becoming engaged just before your 21st birthday something else grew. A wee baby was on her way – we did not know that yet – and even though that was a surprise, we both knew…we are together for life!!

Wedding Day 1971. Dad, Mum, Bro, Gran, B & Me, Poppy, Papa

It was not an ideal beginning to our marriage but you know what, Miss 20, you chose well as did your B. Despite some criticism from your parents, in particular your mother, you shone. Marriage is a hard road and you learned that early. B was and is always a great life partner and you know what? In all the ups and downs, health scares, financial matters, relationship changes with our kids, welcoming grandkids into our lives, having to retire early, and more, we have shown that OUR decision to be together for the rest of our lives was the BEST. Coming up to 47 years since we met this very week!!

So, a little bit of what was ahead for you in some snapshots. Gosh look at you. You have always been self-conscious of your weight. Do you remember in teachers’ college PE class you rated yourself fat? I know, a bit of something wrong there. I think though, that you also thought you were NOT a fashion plate like your Mum and that you actually enjoyed learning and education whereas your mum was the true home-maker mum who never worked once she had kids. Your dad supported you there but both parents often made you feel a little less than OK by veiled and actual comments about your weight. Yep. Always there and even now, as you have been diagnosed with cancer and lost a lot of weight I can tell that you ‘worry’ about putting it back on. Many women, in case you did not know, have similar battles in their hearts and minds, so take comfort and be kind. As your B would say “treat yourself like a friend”. I didn’t know how to do that properly until I was 67 so sorry, Miss 20 and beyond, you have had a rather torrid time with self-talk.

Let’s go with the show!

I would love to add some photos of our children, Miss 20,  but for privacy reasons I cannot.  We had two children in the end. Ironically after falling pregnant with our daughter it took another 7.5 years for our son to come along. I had a lot of medical and then surgical intervention for that to occur. I would add too, that as a young mother about to turn 30 you had another significant challenge in life occur when the severe and chronic illness of your B meant he was medically retired from teaching. The next 4 years, until he steered himself towards better health and recovery, were exhausting and busy to say the least. In fact, your parents stepped in to help out in  ways which supported  you so you are grateful for those times even though it is still hard to let the ‘judgy’ times heal and let go. But this time saw you embark upon more self-education and career path moves and you completed two degrees, B.Ed and M.Ed, along with raising two kids (by now B was at home helping majorly both in a physical sense as he managed the house and started a tutoring business) and going for a 3 work promotions where you eventually became a school principal.

Then came retirement for you. I know. In this day and age retirement is nothing like you saw for your dad. In fact, you retired a few times. Once in 2003 after having a health breakdown at work and not being allowed by your doctor to return, second when you had gone to a teaching role in 2004 and then by age 60 in 2010 had decided enough was enough…and thirdly in 2015 when you surrendered your part-time roles at University teaching pre-service students, closed your business as an education consultant and ceased working for NSW  BOSTES.

I know that at 20 I would have had no idea of what a blog might be or of course social media. But what I did know, into my late 50s is that I am an early adopter. I like technologies that work for me and do not need too much technical prowess from me. I also know that at 20 I loved photography but not nearly as much as I do now.

So, this next and current life stage Miss 20, is getting a little bit easier but also a little bit scarier as I approach 70. OK, not for 2 more years but hey, it happens. Life. And of course, death. You’ve experienced the deaths of 4 of the people who loved you from the photo at your wedding. Dad remains well and in fact praises you now. Yes. He has written you some healing letters and often shows his appreciation for you as his daughter and is proud of you. He tells you that! So, remember it. And in terms of new life…Miss 20 GD above might have been first, but since then you have become Grandma (Miss 20, I love that name!) to 8 children. 6 girls and 2 boys.

Of course, no-one ever wants to get sick, Miss 20 do they? You have always been fearful of that. The past few years saw your anxiety levels skyrocket as you made 3 major life transitions and your well-known IBS decided to return. It all helped you lose weight but that was not the point. Then, knowing your teeth were always trouble some you had gum problems. These were found to be cancer and you had major surgery. I am delighted to say it is highly likely the cancer has gone. But you will continue to need check ups just as you need more surgeries soon.

It is hard to decide where to end this letter so for now, it will be open-ended. I am hopeful that my recollections can soothe my 67 year old self as I recount some of the stand-outs told to my 20 year old self…and that you remember you are LOVED by many so it’s time to add you to that list too.

All my love,

Denyse xx

Joining with Alicia here for Open Slather and here with Kell for Mummy Mondays.

Thank you for joining this week’s link up here:


Selfie Time.#LifeThisWeek 32/52. 2017.99.

Selfie Time.#LifeThisWeek 32/52. 2017.99.

When I was younger I resisted being in most photographs and I used the excuse “I am the photographer”.

And I realised that by doing this I was avoiding my appearance flaws (in my head and in reality) of my size.

I read something which made me change my mind…not matter what I looked like and that was….

how will your family remember you as their mum, mother-in-law, grandmother if you are not in any of the photos?

It then clicked with me that I needed to be willing to be part of the picture!

I am glad I did because there are records of me playing, having fun and being with the kids.

But what is it about ‘selfies?’

Since the advent of the mobile phone and reversing camera inside, it is easy to take a photo of yourself and I admit I have become more interested in taking selfies as a way to measure new experiences, where we live now and…most recently, my cancer diagnosis and surgery.

So: here are but a few of my selfies.

I sometimes can talk my husband and my dad into being in a selfie and my grandson (down further) is selfie- savvy and is very tall!

Most of the  following selfies were all taken once I knew I had cancer in my gums and the ones in the latter stages are following surgery.

Do you take selfies?

Do your record your life in photographs?

Happy Monday.



Added: On Sunday 20 August I drove myself to the Beach as I wanted to see the effects of the high tides and the windy was an independent activity I handled really well. In fact I came home and said to B “that was the most normal I have felt” since before surgery. To let you see the effects of the wind..I present 2 selfies!!


Joining with Alicia for Open Slather here and Kell for Mummy Mondays here.

Link up here for Life This Week!

Here are the rules:

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today! Next Week: Mindfulness.


Ideal Meal. #LifeThisWeek 31/52. 2017.97.

Ideal Meal. #LifeThisWeek 31/52. 2017.97.

So, who picked this prompt? Ummm. It would appear that I DID. How interesting then when I cannot EAT all of the foods I am about to list….so let’s go! It is a story about ‘my ideal meal.’

One day, perhaps next year some time I WILL be able to eat these again. Mind you, they would not have been cooked by Mum. Sadly.

Let’s venture back to the 1960s and 1970s for this. Although I must add that this meal combo does still occur! I am making this prompt a tribute to my late Mum. She made these meals many times for friends AND family. My mum was a superb cook and was self-taught. She had many guides and recipes but in the end she followed what she thought would work. I notice I am a cook like that too.

Dad misses Mum’s cooking too but he is managing for himself very well these days! 2006. Mum’s last Mother’s Day.

Even though I could never eat 3 courses any more, I am presenting my ideal meal thus:


Simple ingredients: shelled cooked prawns, shredded lettuce, a sauce of tasty tomatoey-goodness. Accompanied by little triangles of brown bread with butter.


Lots of ingredients: Ham, Cooked Chicken, Cooked Pork, Turkey, Roasted Potatoes & Pumpkin & Sweet Potatoes. Cooked green vegetables and carrots. Accompanied by apple sauce, Mum’s gravy (made from the pan leftovers), cranberry sauce. This photo is as close to one of Mum’s baked dinners that I could find!


Few ingredients. In fact, the one Mum, my daughter and I make is the recipe on the back of the Nestle Condensed Milk can. Yummo! Not accompanied by anything. Warm or cool. Fine. Must have at least one slice left over to the next day.×680.jpg

So, there it is. An ideal meal where there would have been the company of family and most of all my parents.

However, I have made all of these meals too, over the years but with only me and one husband to cook for we tend to eat much more lightly.

What is your ideal meal?

Are you salivating over this page like I did when I wrote it?

How hungry are you now?

Denyse. I link up here on Mondays too: Alicia’s blog  for Open Slather and Kell’s blog  for Mummy Mondays. This is my link-up: Life This Week. You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today! Next Week: Selfie Time.


Best Summer Holidays. #LTW14. 366/334.

Best Summer Holidays. #LTW14. 366/334.

This time of year when our adult children were kids, there was always a summer holiday coming up!

With school still in, and my husband’s business as a cabinet-maker in full swing getting things finished for Christmas, our summer holiday was the reward for the finish of a big year.

We lived in north-western Sydney and whilst we had the comforts of air-conditioning and a swimming pool, there was nothing like a holiday by the beach.

For some years we travelled up the N.S.W. coast staying at places such as Fingal Bay and Nelson Bay in the Port Stephens area. Other times we holidayed near Ballina and Nambucca Heads. But over the years, what we found spoiled the beach/summer holiday was the time spent in the car with the traffic. We are talking about the 1980s and I know conditions have changed but there are still bottlenecks at certain spots on the Pacific Highway.

credit: NSW Tourism

We found The Entrance on the N.S.W. Central Coast was ‘just right’ with travel time even in the heavy traffic of less than 2 hours door to door. We found a 2 bedroom unit overlooking the beach and the pool and that was BLISS. We must have stayed for at least 5 years in a row. Re-booking it for one week at the high January prices was our practice because that was when we could get away.

The days consisted of surfing, walking around the rocks exploring, going in the seawater pool, relaxing out on the balcony, taking in the view and just doing those great holiday things such as an ice-cream after tea, walking around the seawall and taking the kids to the night time carnivals. We’d sometimes hire a boat and go out on Tuggerah Lakes and fish. Whilst we never caught anything it was all part of the fun and memory-making.

View from the Unit meant we could see the kids in the pool. The Entrance Beach in 1990s was still very safe for swimming.

The holidays here stopped as the children became older and that was it for ‘family holidays’.

What we never thought about though was that one day this is where we would move to and settle somewhere nearby for the foreseeable future to live and retire. Those units we stayed in are still there, as is the pool below. What is sad is the fact that the storms over the past 2 years which have wreaked havoc on the N.S.W. coastline have cost The Entrance its beach. There is still a ‘beach’ but there is too much exposed rock for it to be deemed safe, for now, for surfing and swimming.

The Entrance Beach. 2015. Our Unit is above white pool building mid-right side.

Our unit was middle one with deck out front to left of large pines. 2015.

Where do you have Summer Holidays?

Has there been one tradition for you and your family?

Do you know The Entrance in N.S.W.?


Joining these bloggers on their Monday link ups too. Alicia here for Open Slather, Kell here for Mummy Mondays and Sue here for Over the Moon. Thank you ladies!

Thanks for linking up today for “Life This Week” #LTW14. Only 2 more left until the end of the year!

#LTW15  19 Dec “this time next week”  #LTW16 26 Dec “appreciation.”

The Link Up will continue into 2017 and the list of first 9 prompts will be out very soon!


2 Months to Christmas Eve. #ltw7. 366/298.

2 Months to Christmas Eve. #ltw7. 366/298.

Adding this post here for #ChristmasLinkUp !

I chose this prompt and yet I am somewhat challenged by writing what’s ahead. Why? Christmas Eve is N O T H I N G like it used to be (for me) and I need to A C C E P T that. Ok, I did a year ago, so I am not going to wallow any more. Christmas and all that it brings to family life is completely different now that we are the retired couple who live away from the family. And the family has changed. For all the different reasons families do over time! We will be by ourselves for Christmas and getting used to the changes too. It is fine. Life is like this! So, for the prompt I am writing what Christmas Eve was back then, when our now grown kids with their own kids were the kids in 1980s. CHRISTMAS EVE:

  • traditions…we would go to Christmas Eve mass, then return home with Maccas for tea and have a sing-along with guitar (hub) and holding candles (kids) and making memories on the camera (me)
  • food prep for the next day, depending on who was hosting for Christmas Day for the extended family, would include peeling oh so many potatoes, along with pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes for the “baked dinner” of mammoth proportions which included chicken, pork, ham and turkey!
  • setting the table and finalising decorations for the area, along with added crockery containing sweets, chocolates, nuts, and the ‘christmas bon bons’
  • exciting time…because Santa is nearly here…before bedtime, a snack and a drink is left out for Santa by the kids, and some carrots and water for those tired and thirsty reindeer
  • longing for bed time (for the kids) on long, light evenings and then waiting…waiting…waiting..for them to go to sleep so present-packing into Santa’ bags (left under the tree for him) could commence
  • packing presents (once they were unearthed from the cupboards, back of wardrobes) and checking to ensure ‘the bags and contents looked even enough in terms of quality and quality’. Sigh. I sometimes failed this because I would forget what I had. So, a present or 3 might be held back for an upcoming birthday
  • lugging Santa bags to place at bottom of the child’s bed and hoping against all hope, no-one woke
  • relaxing by singing along with the Christmas Carols By Candlelight on TV and remember the lovely times of yesteryear
  • going to bed…excited and tired…not with sugar plums dancing around my head but lists of ‘to do’ for the BIG family lunch the next day

NOT our house but close-ish!! except: Summer! Credit:×768-1

So, what does 2 Months to Christmas Eve mean to you? Denyse. life 150 Thanks for linking up ( I hope you have!) whether it’s about the prompt or not! Here are the rules for the link-up “Life This Week” is a link up that runs every Monday and remains live for until Thursday at 5 p.m.during that week.

  • You can link up something old or new, just come on in.
  • Please add just ONE post each week!
  • Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.
  • Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!
  • Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right!
  • Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine!
  • Respect and tolerance however, are the hallmarks of acceptable on-line social behaviour and as my blog is family-friendly I will reserve the right to delete comments that may be offensive to me or others.
  • Tweet with the hashtag #ltw (adding the numeral for prompt) if you like.
  • THANK you for linking up today! Do come back next week.

life this week icons 150 2

The next 8 optional prompts taking us to the end of 2016 are now on the Home Page. I hope you will join in. Joining two Monday link-ups here: Thanks for hosting them…Alicia at One Mother Hen for Open Slather and Kell at All Mum Said for Mummy Mondays.


Hunting, Gathering, Preparing, Eating. 366/151.

Hunting, Gathering, Preparing, Eating. 366/151.

In reviewing the prompt for Kirsty’s I must confess this week,

The one thing that drives you absolutely crazy.

I pondered…ONE? She asks about ONE??

Then I settled down and decided that my relationships with friends and family were more important that making enemies so I gave it more thought.

And I decided this is what drives me crazy and probably has ever since I became the person, mostly, in charge of feeding the family.

Let’s take the steps one by one and add a time frame to it:

None of the times include travel, but they should! At the moment we are located about 10 minutes from the big shopping centre. It does not include time in the supermarket queue nor that horrendous hilly ascent I must make with the trolley!

Hunting: Time: 20 minutes. 

The beast, or the fish, or the poultry as is (in our family) the main part of the evening meal. Ok, I don’t have to send hub out to find one and kill it but I still have to stalk the corridors of the local shopping centre and compare the prices, the quantities, the use-by dates and the actual piece of protein I am selecting.

Gathering: Time: not concurrent with above. Oh no. In addition to: 20-30 minutes.

From one end of the supermarket to the other, from fresh fruit & veg to the staples, to the freezer section and back again because I missed an aisle with the one ingredient I would find essential. Of course. I do take a list!

Preparing: Time: ‘how long is a piece of string?’ This timing cannot be estimated because it can range from 20 minutes to 2-3 hours. Or More.

There is, of course, pre-planning. Making the menu, searching for the lost piece of paper with that one recipe I decided to cook TONIGHT. And adding the list to the iPhone notes.

Eating: Time: 10 minutes.

No matter how well I put this. We seem to inhale our meals here. Or is that most of us? Anyway…this, my readers is my issue:

The one thing that drives you absolutely crazy.

is that it is all over….and I will have spent at least ONE hour (minimum) on a meal that takes 10 minutes to eat.


Clearing away and loading the dishwasher. Not my job.

So, what is it about meals? Is it any wonder it is the question most of us hate…”what’s for dinner?”


life 150





Grandmothering. 366/129.

Grandmothering. 366/129.

It’s Mother’s Day today.

If you celebrate, then Happy Mother’s Day!

I’m honouring the role of grandmother today.

I love being a grandmother and it is truly a blessing to be loved by your grandchildren and to share their lives at the various stages. But today is not about me as a grandmother.

I had two grandmothers.

One, on my mum’s side, Nanny, was a hard working woman who had the responsibility of not only raising her own 3 children but two of her brother when his wife sadly died in childbirth with number 3. I remember Nanny as strict and I was never spoiled. She left that to my Papa, her husband. She was never happy but I also understand why due to her workload at home with 3 boys and 2 girls. Recently I have started researching family history and know she was one of 13 who grew up in a farming family on the NSW South Coast and Southern Highlands. I remember her being very unwell for 2 years before her early death of a stroke at 62 in 1958.

One of the few photos of Nanny - in the 1940s.

One of the few photos of Nanny – in the 1940s.

The second grandmother, Gran, was my father’s mother. She was distant and certainly not particularly affectionate but I recall her letting me have a 3d ice-cream from the local shop once! Gran had a great start to life born into an English almost middle class family sharing her parents with one sibling. The war of 1914-18 brought her love, and to Australia as a war bride, then her life changed over a decade to being parent of 4 children in a tough economic time in Australia. Her husband, my grandfather, survived the first world war but was fatally injured in a workplace accident in 1935. She never got over the loss and it clouded all of her relationships it seemed. Gran lived into her 80s dying in 1985.

I'm in Dad's arms at my christening in 1950, Gran is on the left of the photo and her mum, my great grandmother is on the right.

I’m in Dad’s arms at my christening in 1950, Gran is on the left of the photo and her mum, my great grandmother is on the right.

I watched my mum as a grandmother and I know she struck a pretty good balance as both a ‘spoiler’ and a ‘loving carer’. I had my first daughter at 21 and I know Mum got a lot of joy helping out with her when we came to Sydney and even had her stay as a bub for a week once. I was always grateful for how my mum helped me out…but the icing on the cake was that she got to do so much for her grandkids. Mum and Dad often had our kids stay and took them on holidays.

A few years ago, blogging friend and writer, Kelly Exeter was writing ‘manifestos’ and I offered my help towards this one. The one for Grandmothers. I did feel it was pretty pertinent to me. I haven’t shown any of my grandchildren’s photos here on the blog due to privacy reasons but I know that they love and as I do them.

Today, Mother’s Day I also reflect on what it is to hear a little voice say “Grandma….love you”.


Love you too….JR, SM, BJ, EC, HM, RK, EK, MN.

Tell me about your grandmother!


more 150

Joining with Leanne for her link up on Sundays, here.



Memories of School Lunches. 366/14.

Memories of School Lunches. 366/14.

In Australia ‘school is about to go back’ and this week I reminisced on social media about

“school lunches.”

In most cases, students at Australian schools carry a ‘packed lunch’ with them to school each day.

There are school canteens or tuckshops where food may be purchased. Often it’s a once-a-week treat or special in  families for kids to be able to buy their lunch. It’ s one of the first independent steps some children take with using money, and it’s quite fun to be privy to the little ones who have “some money to spend” at the canteen. On hot days iceblocks are very popular!

Today’s post came from this! It was my lunch this week that took me down memory lane: as I was making of a white bread sandwich with lettuce, Vegemite and lettuce along with a glass of lemon cordial which was a long-time lunch in my high school years in the 1960s.

Then that made me think as I posted on both Instagram and Facebook “what memories do you have of school lunches?”

Here’s the memories from the adults who responded to my question:

  • marmite on brown bread – every – single- day @kal20m
  • devon sambos (sandwiches) with an apple and orange cordial @ramblingvine
  • tuna, lettuce and mayo – EVERY day and I haven’t had one since I left school @kaz_phi
  • horse drawn cart with pies in Newcastle along with with cream buns, cream horns and sausage rolls. Ian.
  • sandwich by mum (even when I was at Uni) some biscuits – sweet or savoury like Sao or Vita Wheat & a piece of fruit. Marion.
  • tomato sandwiches on white bread (influenced by a book Harriet the spy) but mum preferred to make vegemite on Vogel bread. I loved vita wheats with the butter and vegemite “worms”. Rachael.
  • variety of: apple, cream cheese & sultanas, honey & vegemite, cheese and honey, something with pecans or some kind of salad. My own kids get cheese, ham or salami, capsicum and tomato and spinach leave, or if we run out of time, cheese and honey. Rachel.
  • Vegemite, latvial liverwurst or salami sandwiches, an apple and homemade biscuits or shoes with vegemite, accompanied by a plastic bottle with a little cap on top, filled with cordial. Anne.
  • Raspberry jam sandwiches. Every. Single. Day. (which I never ate). Katherine
  • Lunch order in Prep (Kinder) egg and shredded lettuce on white bread which was a special order and we watched the Wizard of Oz in instalments. Kira.

school lunch

There are some interesting and heart-felt memories there of love and connection as well as some resistance to what we might have been given for lunch. I know as the ‘lunch maker’ for many year it becomes tiresome and half the time I am sure I was “mollified” by “yes Mum, I’ll have that every day too.” I made bread rolls more often than not, and spread out the makings along the bench usually a week’s worth at a time. Then they were popped in the freezer for retrieval by the kids, who’d  grab a snack pack or two from the selections I’d bought and put into boxes of ‘sweet’ ‘savoury’. Drink bottles may have been frozen with cordial or water for the next day and wrapped in a towel to keep cool. We are talking 1970s to 1990s. here. Our kids also bought lunch from the canteen once a week. I also know that lunches did not always get eaten and I would prefer not to say where I found some of these… HINT: check your kids’ bags from time to time and “smell” out the culprits.

school lunch in pack

What are your memories of school lunches?

Do share!


Joining  Anne here at Domesblissity for Thriving On Thursdays.