Tuesday, January 31, 2012

End of January Update on My New Year's Goals

Today ends the first month of this year, can you believe that it is already over!
I struggle with accepting the passage of time, however even I cannot argue with the calendar as it ticks over to the second month of the year. It is an opportune moment to reflect on how I am going towards achieving the goals that I have set for myself in 2012, and insert some pretty pictures of the gardenias I was pleasantly surprised to see had survived our recent stream of daily down pours.

University has yet to commence for the year, I have bought some of my textbooks though and swapped the big comfy couch in my room for a small desk and wooden chair so I feel that I am readying my space for study, as well as my mind.
I have yet to submit any articles to health, fitness, food or lifestyle magazines but I will do better to look for these opportunities.
In preparation for going back to university my workplace has dropped me down to two days per week. At the moment these days are being filled with domestic duties, but I am eager for study to start as I feel a little anxious when I don't have something to do! My garden and mastering the art of the yeasted bread are going to fill some of the remaining weeks though.

The first race for this year isn't until March but I have already gathered my girls (it is the International Women's Day Run after all!) and Jess will be running with me, and Mum will be walking (with Dad, our honorary girl...).
I have been getting into a better routine with my fitness and I have taken some of the pressure off myself. Last week I managed three runs, this week I hope to do the same and then step it up. I am trying a more balanced approach and have started incorporating some yoga, circuit training DVDs (I am a Jillian Michaels junkie, no apologies - she makes my least favourite activity, strength, get over and done with in 20 minutes), and soon to start CrossFit style class at my gym. I am trying this for the first time tomorrow so we'll see how I go and whether I will be able to type tomorrow night...
Last year I spent so much time on the treadmill that I started to resent it. I didn't want to keep pounding away and staring at an orange wall, I took a step back and just started walking at an incline, and now when I am hungry to start running again I am slowly getting back to it. I just need to be mindful to nourish my body and mind with exercise rather than being strict and punishing with it.

Fun Stuff:
I bought some beautiful 'beefsteak' tomato plants to go in my garden, accompanied by heirloom beets (they are striped white and red inside!), yellow bell peppers and some sage and oregano. This week my 'weed patch' shall begin its transformation into a mini Eden.
Mum and I also attacked the fabric store and came out with patterns and fabric for several outfits. Yet to put needle to material as yet, but I am prepared now!
Oh and pie crust! That could be my mission until I go back to uni!! Wonder if I'll be able to find taste testers?
Any favourite pies out there, I am willing to take suggestions

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's All in the Timing

There they sat on the kitchen counter, ripely resplendent in their thick, soft skins, filling the air with their pungently buttery tropical scent. Slightly sad looking now they could be mistaken for being past their prime.
But, those softening, external cues are just the sign that these fruits are ready, they have reached the critical moment of perfection, wait any longer and the magic moment will have disappeared, conjured by time into a rotting mass only fit for the compost pile.
So I seize the moment. Let nature lead the way and pay attention to her timing. Step in when my part is required.
While we must take our destiny in our own hands, and be responsible for our fate; there are times when we can't force action, we must sit and wait our turn. Let the universe carry the load of our future for a spell. Then re-enter with renewed vigour and clarity that our decisions are leading the way to our hearts true fate.
A lesson in life, a lesson in banana cake.

Coconut Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Inspired by Ina Garten's 'Old Fashioned Banana Cake' as it appears in 'Barefoot Contessa: how easy is that?'

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rice bran oil (or other flavourless vegetable oil)
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 teaspoons coconut essence
Finely grated zest of one orange
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup wholemeal plain flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup dessicated coconut (this is the really finely grated kind)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line an 8 inch square baking tin.
  2. While the oven is warming toast the almonds for about 5 minutes and then chop roughly.
  3. Using a hand mixer, or a stand mixer, beat together the bananas and sugars until combined.
  4. Add oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla essence, coconut essence and orange zest, and mix together on a low speed.
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together the flours, almond meal, coconut, baking soda and salt. With the mixer still on low speed add the dry ingredients to the silky banana brew and beat until just combined.
  6. Add the chopped, roasted almonds and stir gently with a bowl scraper.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and slide into the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Test readiness by inserting a toothpick. When it comes out clean, your cake is ready to come out of the oven.
  8. Cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, then place on a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Cream Cheese Frosting

180grams cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons dessicated coconut

Place all ingredients except coconut, into a medium size bowl and beat until smooth.
Spread on cooled cake, sprinkle with dessicated coconut.
Serve and enjoy the fruits of your labour!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Pleasure of Provision

The uncharacteristically cold and wet January weather in Brisbane has had me confined to indoor pursuits this week, and as per usual when the clouds descend and the showers are frequent, my mind has folded in on itself and is content to find pleasure in the most domestic of pursuits, and meaning in those places that are often overlooked on sunny days.
When I wake to the day and hear rain already falling on my roof I long to linger between the sheets, but something deeper inside me wants to patter out to the kitchen and create some warmth and welcome the morning. Today has been one such day, a Sunday morning sky filled with grey clouds, a chill on my nose when woke to my alarm clock, and an idea in my brain to make breakfast for Mum and Dad.

The gentle scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and roasted apple wafted out of the oven as I paused a moment to reflect over the last few days, and the meals that I have made; some nights just for Mum and Dad and I and on Friday evening a feast for friends. The other thought that popped into my mind was a comment from the librarian as I picked up a stack of cookbooks to read over the weekend; "you're going to be busy with all that cooking, better you than me".
I think she missed my point when I merely smiled and replied "It brings me joy."
To me, cooking is more than the mere preparation of fuel for the body.
Imagining something my family and friends will love, selecting the highest quality ingredients I can find, chopping, stirring, simmering and plating in the creation of a meal are all exercises in joy for my soul. They are a moving meditation.
I call it the pleasure of provision. When I am engaged in providing something for my family, whether it is food, or making the house tidy before they come home, or just making Mum a cup of tea while she works on something; I feel warmer inside, I feel that these ordinary days have some deeper meaning, some connection to who I want to be as a person, the life I want to lead, and the things that are most important to me.
One of those things that is most important to me is to be giving to others, to provide for my family, to have something to offer when we all sit at the table. Making a meal, or a treat, to share amongst companions is a physical manifestation of the love and care we share at a deeper level. These plates I fill are only symbols of the hearts that I hope to touch everyday, and the places I hope my love nests itself, ready to nourish when it is needed most.

Roasted Apple and Oat Muffins
You will need to prepare the oat and milk mixture the day before. If you forget to do so never fear, you can just add them as separate ingredients, the oats will just be crunchier than if they were soaked.

1 cup of oats
1 cup of wholemeal plain flour
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup low fat milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg
1 apple, quartered and sliced thinly

  1. The night before you wish to cook the muffins measure the milk into a jug and add one half cup of the oats. Allow the mixture to soak overnight in the fridge.
  2. The next morning, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. 
  3. While you prepare the rest of the mixture and the oven heats spread the sliced apple across a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until softened. 
  4. Spray a 12 hole muffin pan with oil.
  5. In a large bowl mix together the remaining half cup of oats, wholemeal flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  6. In the jug with the overnight oat and milk mixture add the olive oil, vanilla and egg. Beat together.
  7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir gently, before it is fully combined add the sugar and mix until just combined.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared pan and top with a few slices of the baked apple.
  9. Bake muffins for 12 - 15 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched.
  10. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan and then remove while still slightly warm. Serve the muffins with butter and jam or enjoy on their own.
These muffins go beautifully with a steaming cup of English breakfast tea and some chunky raspberry jam. Especially on a rainy Sunday morning with those you love.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Everlasting Love

I am not sure how large a human's heart can grow before it starts to ache at the seams. All I know is that every corner of my life is filled with sunshine at the moment, and no cloud could possible shroud its glow.
Just before the wonderful events of last weekend, when my sister married the man of her dreams, another beautiful moment occurred.
Matt and Casey (this is the "good one" of Matt)
Two of the people dearest to my heart got engaged! On a quiet summer afternoon Matt asked Casey to be his wife, and of course, she said yes!
I am so ecstatic for my darling Casey and Matt. Matt and Casey have been together for ten years and come December they will be bound together in marriage, another symbol of the love that has kept them together despite the physical distance that has often separated them.
After meeting Casey seven years ago at the start of our undergraduate university careers I instantly fell in love with her and we have been best friends ever since. Casey has seen me through some of the darkest moments of my life and sparkled in some of the happiest. She is my favourite person to share a meal with, and entertains me endlessly whenever we are together.
Matt is the brother that I never had, the biggest warmest hug giver that I have ever known, and he makes Casey happy - the greatest gift I could ask for.
More Matt and Casey (this is the "good one" of Casey)
I am privileged to know such a brilliant and beautiful couple. I am astounded at the gift I have been given in being able to share in their life.
Congratulations my darlings, from the bottom of my heart to both of yours.
Here is to you, and to everlasting love.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Greatest of These is Love

Saturday the 21st of January 2012 is now a date marked eternally in our family calendar.
Last Saturday, my little sister Jessica wed her darling Trent in a beautiful and heart touching ceremony. Every moment of which I am hoping to lock away in a special place in my memory only meant for pretty happy things; moments that are the sunshine of our lives.

Disclaimer: this post contains a lot of visual media. I would apologise, but it is a wedding folks!

The day started out with all the girls gathering at our family home to get primped, preened and prepared for the special day ahead.
At the breakfast table

Sam plays supermodel, hair and make up all at once!

There we all are! Just need some dresses now.
(from left to right, back row and then front) Mama Chickpea, Dada, Casey Tara,
Jasmine, Maddy, Sam, Jess, Grace and Me!
Casey and Jess love
After we were all beautified (and the poor make up lady had touched me up twice because I couldn't stop have little weeping fits) it was time to get all dressed up and get some photos taken!
Mama Chickpea and my gorgeous cousin Grace

Dada, Jess and Mama. The proud and the pretty.

Isn't she lovely.

Girls on film.
Snack time! Even the bride needs calories!
I can't wait to see the professional shots that the photographer captured. Jessica was absolutely radiant and Mum and Dad were so proud of their beautiful daughter, on this most special of days.
After the special shots we were off to the chapel, to watch her get married!
Daddy's little girl, on her way to be Trent's wife.

Promising forever, and whatever comes after.

For these smiles alone, I would do this every weekend.
The ceremony was absolutely perfect. Jessica and Trent wrote their own vows and professed their love in ways that meant the most to them. What was most important is that they promised to love and care for each other forever, and to care and nurture the love that has grown between them.
Mum made a reading from 1 Corinthians  and I was given the honour of reading the 'Blessing of the Apaches' during the ceremony. Both speak of love, a love everlasting and that is what I wish for my sister and brother-in-law; a love beyond what is definable, beyond reason, beyond doubt, beyond time.
The happy couple
After the ceremony, and some more photos, it was time to dance the night away! We all made good use of the photo booth, jukebox and lolly bar and the delicious food at The Brisbane Golf Club.

Young vegetable salad with beetroot jelly and hazelnut dressing

Double tomato risotto with English spinach, parmesan crisps and chive foam 

My menu, bouquet and gift (a lolly jar to fill up at the lolly bar and take home!)
The lolly bar! This was obviously popular!
After dinner, dancing and dessert it was time for speeches. As Maid of Honour it was my special privilege to send my well wishes to the couple with a few words. However, when it comes to my sister my usually verbose nature fails me, and so all I could come up with was a poem which I would like to share with you now.

The Bridesmaid's Tears by Amy Chatwin

She knew he would come along someday the man who could change it all
Come along and take her away and she was ready for the fall
And then there he was with his quiet smile and the ocean in his eyes
They took a leap and gave their hearts, young love and one life

Take his hand tonight, let him lead you across the floor
Now you'll dance into forever and you'll never want for more
When there's just the two of you, you have the world and stars beyond
Now two hearts share one beat there's no question where you belong

Every look is a photograph, every touch a story to replay
Hours turn to eternity when you just live for the day
Love as if there is a tomorrow, but live right here and now
Exhaust all the joy of the present by the time your future comes around

You are each other's somewhere over the rainbow
Tonight is your once upon a time
Step into the happily ever after
Have faith in your love and together you will fly

Now the happy couple are in New Zealand enjoying a well earned break. See you soon Mr and Mrs B.

All my love, the chickpea.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Being " In Spite Of "

One of my worst personality traits is procrastination. If something can wait until tomorrow, you can be sure that it will take it's place in the 'pending' file on my desk for a decent period of time.
My delay tactics are one part of myself that I truly do not enjoy and would dearly love to work on improving.
I have certainly improved since my university days of leaving assignments until 3am in the morning of the day that they were due, but still something is holding me back and building a road block to consistent action in some areas of my life.
The main areas where I face issues with putting my life on hold tend to be about taking chances that may lead to permanent changes and potentially lasting failure. In other words, how do I take steps to make my dreams for the future come true? How do I start doing the work to build my future?
Why am I afraid?
Thus, I turned to my on-call therapist (Google) to find out a little more about procrastination, and where this could be stemming from, and what I could do to shift my life out of the 'pending' folder and into the 'active' file!
A search in Psychology Today turned up  a definition for procrastination as 'the gap between intention and action', and over 900 articles dealing with this topic.
So, I guess dealing with this undesirable habit is going to take a little while, huh?
I am willing to put in the work. I am capable of delving into whatever quiet and dusty corners of my soul are building plaque and stopping the flow of my future.

One quote that I really like from an article on the Psychology Today website states:
"For chronic procrastination that stems from a deep sense of meaninglessness in life, "being in spite of" defines the existentialist's "therapy." In spite of feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand, in spite of not feeling like doing it, in spite of fearing failure, in spite of seeing little value in a necessary task, the answer is courage to persist and continue. This choice will define you, just as the choice not to persist, to needlessly delay has already defined you through procrastination"

My first step to dissolve the block of fear in my way is to 'be in spite of'. In some ways I have put this into action in my life already; regardless of being afraid of rejection, or of discovering that I don't make any sense when I string words together, I started writing this blog. When I found that putting my thoughts out there fed part of my soul and that people were reading what I had to say; I kept going, and it motivated me to enrol in post graduate study this year. Achieving some small successes by just 'being in spite of' my fear motivated me to persevere in this area of my life. Whenever I have had the best adventures while travelling, it has been because I have taken a chance 'in spite of' not knowing where the road could lead, 'in spite of' being far away from home, 'in spite of' potentially not speaking the language or getting lost. Every time I have taken these little risks, the road not yet trod by my feet, I have uncovered another puzzle piece of who Amy is, learnt more about myself. I need to take this lesson of 'being in spite of' and apply it to the risks and growth I need to make my happily ever after a reality.

Tell me, dear readers, are you a procrastinator or a doer? How do you shift yourself into gear? What have you learnt, just by 'being in spite of'?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wedding Week Begins!

In seven days my little sister will wed her best friend and soul mate. Accordingly, this weekend was her hen's night and the girls had to go out!
We started off with our weekly visit to the farmer's markets where Sam joined us! She has just flown in for the wedding (she's Jessica's other best friend and our third bridesmaid!) and of course a catch up breakfast and coffee was essential.

After doing our weekly provision gathering trip, and a final try on of the bridal gown and bridesmaids dresses it was time for the fun to begin! Unfortunately Sam couldn't join us because she had another wedding on this weekend (she is a very popular lady!).
Jess, Casey and I headed down to the Gold Coast to meet up with the rest of the lovely ladies who would be part of the Spring Chicken night proceedings. I refuse to call it her hen's night, she's too young to be a hen!
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Surfer's Paradise, which I had never been to before but we were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed our stay very much!
The view from our hotel room
 We also happened to spot some filming happening around the pool area. Jess and Casey were very excited to notice that Kevin Federline (Britney Spear's ex-husband) and several other celebrities were filming the new Australian television weight loss show 'Excess Baggage'.
 I was much more interested in our other views of the Gold Coast hinterland and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. We were so fortunate to have such a great view and a gorgeous day to enjoy.
The canal estates that make up part of the Gold Coast.
 We settled in for a little while to wait for the rest of the girls to arrive and plan our next move.
The bride in serious consultation with Casey about the location of the best ice cream shops.
It was a little too cool to go swimming and so we settled on walking to the main mall strip of the coast. I also discovered that my darling sister had never had Royal Copenhagen Ice Cream before, such a travesty that we quickly had to remedy it before she became a married woman!
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
 As the afternoon drew on we made our way along the beach and back to the hotel.

Hugging it out.
No need to mention the large dose of ocean water Casey had just splashed all over Jess... 
After some primping and preening we started our night at the hotel bar with a little aperitif. Jessica and I chose a lovely white wine.
The beautiful bride, ready to celebrate.
In search of some delicious dinner we had made reservations at the Amalfi Bistro and Wine Bar at the Watermark Hotel. The service was brilliant, the food was amazing and the company was stunning!
We started with two appetizer plates to share; an antipasto platter and a trio of dips with toasted Turkish bread. Then our mains arrived and I was especially happy when I learnt they had gluten free pasta for a delicious primavera for this chickpea.
Heather, Jess and Fiona
Amanda, Micaela and Jess
Part of the Bridal party - Casey, Jess and I!
After a very satiating dinner we needed to walk a little and we wandered up to Cavill Avenue in search of our type of fun. And so it came to pass that our merry band of travellers stumbled into a gaming arcade! Who says a hen's night has to include cocktails and people taking their clothes off when there can be......
Bumper cars!
Oh Trent, I watched her drive --- don't let her use your car even if she is your new wife!
 And giant teddy bears just out of reach (don't worry she didn't frown for long)....

And Dance Dance Revolution!
The Dancing Queens!
The last stop of the night was Max Brenner - of course the night must end with chocolate! Our transportation for the night was mostly by foot but we were very lucky to have a wonderful taxi driver, who goes by the name 'Gordo the Great' who we were surprised to bump into every time we needed to get off our feet for a while and try some wheeled transportation!
This morning we were met with a beautiful dawn and a delicious discovery in Bumbles Cafe. Set in an old house that also had a dark past as a brothel the cafe now has a shabby chic vibe and each room is decorated in it's own style. We were seated for breakfast in 'the library'.
Gorgeous dressers, flowers and candles decorated every room.

This says it all really!
The bride ready for breakfast!
In order to gain the bride's view I asked for her highlight of the weekend, strangest experience and stand out moment.
Highlight: Eating ice cream on the beach with all her friends.
Strangest experience: Being asked by a stranger who spotted her 'bride to be' sash whether she was off to marry Justin Bieber! (don't worry she is far far too old for him, we just have great genes).
Stand out moment: Reliving her childhood at the games arcade - being grown up is highly overrated! 
All in all a wonderful weekend and great start to Wedding Week countdown.
Only 6 days left until the bells will start ringing!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday Book Corner: Unlimited

Hello my lovelies, I am sorry that nearly seven days have traversed the stage since I last posted about the happenings and thoughts bouncing around in chickpea land. You see, we are now only eleven short days from my sister's wedding and so my time has been blissfully (she is as far from 'bride-zilla' as you could ever wish) spent doing final fittings for dresses, setting up her 'spring chicken night' (she is far too young to be a hen!) and going through final check lists for everything.

Today I would like to premier a new fortnightly segment for One Chic Chickpea - Tuesday Book Corner! To keep up with my New Year's resolution to read one 'fun' book per month (something that isn't on my university syllabus) I have decided to share my current literary entertainment every fortnight. I plan to use the Tuesday Book Corner to tell you about the books I am reading, or perhaps an interesting article I have read in the course of my university or at work.

To get us off to an inspirational and aspirational start I present to you 'Unlimited: How to Build an Exceptional Life'. As my family (and my iTunes account) are aware at the moment I have a slight Jillian Michaels obsession. I am revelling in listening to her podcast during my workouts and find her vim and vigour and sheer passion for things completely inspiring. Given that I am assessing things in my life at the moment and thinking about what it is I really want for myself now and in the future the natural choice from Ms. Michaels' book list was her latest offering 'Unlimited'. I am only into the fourth chapter but it has certainly given me a lot of food for thought already.
The title of the book really says it all, 'Unlimited' is dedicated to discovering what your dreams really are, believing in yourself and that you are worthy of your best life, and what steps it will take to achieve these dreams. There are self discovery questions at the end of most of the sections designed to lead you into deeper thought about preceding information and how it applies to your reality. On the 'Unlimited' website there is further content to assist in really utilising the tools and information in the book.
My verdict so far is positive, and all of the questions have helped me to unearth exactly what my dream of the future is, and why I might be holding myself back from achieving all that can dream.

What are my dreams for the future?
  • I dream of writing for a living. Works of fiction, lifestyle and health books and articles, travel and everyday living are my areas of interest. I have already made a start towards this dream with my goal to submit at least two articles in these areas to magazines, websites or newspapers this year.
  • I dream of living by the beach with dogs to keep me company and a big vegetable patch to yield plenty of food for a chickpea.
  • I dream of spending time every year in Italy, and speaking fluent Italian (so I can order my porcini risotto and pistachio gelati in their native tongue!)

There are many more dreams, I firmly believe that our souls are inexhaustible wellsprings of these ephemeral gifts, and of course there are many steps on the journey to making these come true. The destination will be worth the journey and the journey is exciting too.

Jillian Michaels next covers the self destructive behaviours that may be holding us back from achieving these dreams, that which undermines our confidence and puts up roadblocks in our path to success. This section is proving more challenging and as I dig deeper, and make the commitment to applying myself to answering the questions at the end of each section I am gathering a clearer vision of behaviours and habits that I need to learn to unlearn so that I can take those steps to a successful future. I am sure that each subsequent chapter will only prove more instructive and I am certainly enjoying this book even more than I thought I would. There is more depth and purpose to it than I first imagined and I look forward to seeing how I can apply the rest of the book to building my own positive reality.

So now it is your turn, dream big! Tell me dear readers, what are your ultimate dreams for your future?