Creating a sweet life

This year my career journey has been a rollercoaster and has included thoughts of real estate, volunteering abroad, horticulture and property development. Only to end up back at the original idea I had more than 15 years ago.  My latest thought is to be a Pastry Chef.

I have always loved food. I love to eat and I love to cook, particularly sweet things.  I have been inspired during my life by the amazing women in my family who could captivate a room with their cooking ability.

My Nonna was a whiz in the kitchen. I experienced wonderful home grown, homemade Italian food.  We didn’t really do dessert; some biscotti, crostoli, zeppole and cannoli that was about it, but that was enough. I have inherited from my nonna the art of being quick in life and in the kitchen.  I’m always in a hurry to get things done so I can move on to the next task. I can still hear her sometimes in her own creative English language Quicka! Quicka!

My Australian grandma was the queen of sponge cakes, powder puffs and potent trifles, a treasure of the local Country Women’s Association.  She passed over 20 years ago, but people still speak of her glorious cakes and desserts today.  I still recall her afternoon teas and suppers with a smile.  The development of my sweet tooth started at her house.

And then there is my mum, she is perfection in the kitchen.  Everything has to be made precisely and cooked and presented beautifully.  Everything is made with love and care.  I wish I had some of her patience.

Recently I wrote about An interview that could change my life.  I heard back and I was accepted.  I start my Hospitality Patisserie Course next week. I have enrolled fulltime, but I’m trying to be a little smart about it and have enquired about part time, so I can work a bit more on the side. Living on love will not pay the bills or any upcoming travel adventures.

It’s a little scary how things can happen so quickly. I think I am on the right track with Patisserie. Although I haven’t decided whether this is something I am doing to feed my passions or whether I will make a career out of it one day. I have been asked by many people what I will do when I finish the course, I honestly don’t know and I’m okay with that.

Life is an adventure and I’m just rolling with it.

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What is the smart thing to do

To recap my adventure so far: I left my career as an Environmental Health Officer (health inspector) because it was no longer enough. I had changed, the industry had changed, but in reality I never really enjoyed what I did for more than 8 hours a day 5 days a week. 2013 is about discovering myself and what I want to be when I grow up, if I ever grow up.

I’m currently passing the time working casually as an inbound customer service agent. People call me and I give them general information. It’s boring. What I have come to realise about myself is that I like to be entertained. I like to be busy, I like action and I like diversity and change. Everything that my current job is not, so I went looking for some action.

I found a temporary position advertised for an Environmental Health Officer. The position was for only a week and I thought maybe that’s what I needed to put some excitement back into my work life. Clearly absence makes the heart grow fonder, because there was a time when I was sure I was never going back.

Once I enquired about the position, things happened quickly and within no time I had advised my current employer not to roster me for a week and I was back inspecting.

The first half day was pretty tough. I could not believe I had gone back to a career I didn’t like, particularly after it had taken so much strength to leave. Had I sold myself out? What would become of my adult gap year? I was a little angry with myself.

Once I relaxed, I soon realised that I was enjoying myself. It was one week out of my life. I hadn’t changed my mind about a new career path. It was just nice to be back in a job where I knew what I was doing and I felt I was using my skills. Time flew. The job I was doing was easy and why wouldn’t it be easy, I had done it for nearly 10 years. Best of all at the end of the week, I could hand the files back and drive off into the sunset.

So back to the customer service job I went. When I was first offered the job, I thought it would be great for my adult gap year because it was casual and it would give me some money and I would have the time to follow my passions. But now I am working fulltime hours in a job that I don’t enjoy, I am being paid not much more than minimum wage and I have very little time to dedicate to my journey.

I find myself being drawn towards contract Environmental Health Officer positions. It’s not something I really want to do, but I’m wondering whether it is the smart thing to do. Being a specialist role, the money would be good and I could work half the amount of time I am now, allowing me to up skill in other areas to transition to a new career.

My week returning to Environmental Health has made me realise that I don’t have a desire to work in the field again permanently. However I could do it on a short term basis if I have too.

An interview that could change my life

I am still in pursuit of my dreams and in the process trying to work out what I want to do when I grow up. This week I took another small step towards something new and exciting. I had an interview. It wasn’t a job interview, but it could definitely lead me down a different career path.

As I sat on the train heading home afterwards, I reflected on my outing. That one little interview, that small amount of time out of my day could have just set things in motion that would change the rest of my life.

As I impatiently wait the next two weeks to hear whether I am in or out, I’m brushing up on some skills.

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Running towards another new thing

Over the weekend I ran 5km for the first time. This probably doesn’t seem far to some people, but I’m not a runner and never have been. I like the idea of being a runner and I have tried to run a few times over the last ten years, but I could never seem to push past the barriers.

I decided to put a running goal on my list of 32 new things to challenge myself. I decided that it wasn’t enough to run 5km. I had to do it in a good time. So although running 5km is a new thing in itself, that alone is not on my list. What will hopefully become one of my new things is running 5km in under 30 minutes.

Turning up on Saturday for the run was a battle in itself, being up and eating breakfast before 7am is not what I would call weekend fun. I’m sure that if I wasn’t going with my sister, I would never have made it at all. My sister is a runner and I tagged along to one of her run meets.

It was cold, I was nervous and had no idea how far I could run. Up until this day I had only run a maximum of 3 km.

For my first 5km run I am pretty happy I ran the whole way. That’s probably largely due to my sister pushing me along. I found that it helped knowing how far I had run and how far I had left to go. My time was 33 mins 21 secs. I have a little bit of work to do to bring my time under 30 minutes, but at least I now know what I have to work with.

At this stage my focus is on crossing off another one of my new things and don’t intend of taking running up permanently. Although I’ve heard that it can be addictive.

Troubled by a dream

The other night I had a dream that I went back to being an Environmental Health Officer. In my dream I was happy. I awoke from my dream a little annoyed with myself. Do I want to be a Health Inspector again?? My immediate thought was NO!! So why am I dreaming about it with so much fondness. What am I missing?

I am at week 4 in my new job. Recently I completed my timesheet. Sitting at my desk, I peered down at my total number of hours worked for the fortnight. It was 42. Uncontrollably a broad smile filled my face which soon turned into laughter. This was crazy; I only worked 42 hours in two weeks. Before I had decided to take my gap year, I would work more than that in one week. I was stressed, grumpy and tired, uninspired and felt unappreciated.

Although my income is significantly less then it once was, I didn’t think it mattered because I am happy. But I am beginning to wonder whether I am missing some of the challenges that come with a higher paid job……

#5 of 32 Blood donation

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I had a friend tell me that I was being boring for counting blood donation as one of my 32 new things. The person thought that there are more exciting things I could be doing, but what could be more exciting then saving lives.

I have been walking past the Australian Red Cross Blood Service in Bendigo for years; I didn’t even know they were there. I arrived early, because I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going. I found the staff at the service to be awesome! Everyone was very friendly, chatty and reassuring.

After the boring but important paperwork was completed, I got to sit in one of the big chairs. It was almost like a theme park ride. The chair lifted and reclined seamlessly, my adrenaline was pumping and I was being given instructions on what to do if I felt unwell during the donation.

I don’t love needles, but who does. I didn’t think it was necessary to watch the needle go into my arm. I could feel it pierce my skin, so I knew it was there. My blood was a little shy to begin with and the slow flow rate set off the alarm on the machine. It didn’t faze me, but the staff were quick to reassure me that everything was ok.

The donation itself took about 10 mins. I would have taken a photo of the process, but the staff set me a challenge of spending 10 mins without my phone. I had to laugh when part way through the donation my phone started to ring. It gave me the opportunity to say: see, I told you I needed my phone 😉

I thought I was very calm about the donation process. I’m not sure whether it was because it was my first time or whether on the exterior I looked like I was freaking out, but the staff kept checking in on me to make sure I was okay. It could also be because the newbie before me had fainted.

The nurse described to me that you never know how your body will react to donating blood for the first time. Your body may think that you are hurt because you are bleeding and its natural reaction might be that you need to rest, so you faint.

Overall I had a fab time donating blood. I got to chat to some really nice people, I tuned out from the world for 10 mins and I had some juice and snacks afterwards. Before I left I schedule my next donation.

A couple of days after the donation I received a phone call seeking feedback on my experience at the blood service. The first thing out of my mouth was: ‘it was awesome, I had fun.’ The caller was a little shocked and said she had never heard blood donation being described as fun before, but it was true. I think the staff made the difference in my experience. They were all up beat, chatty and efficient which passed the time quickly.

I’m really happy that I chose blood donation as one of my new things. I have now set myself a new challenge of donating blood when I can for the rest of my life. It feels good to do something that will help someone else.

Numbers 3 & 4 of 32: Fun in the Barossa Valley

3. Scarecrow Hunting: It started with a map, a car and a camera and ended after an awesome journey around the Barossa Valley.

The scarecrows appear as part of the biannual event, the Barossa Vintage Festival, which is the longest running wine festival in Australia.  The scarecrows are made by the community, school groups, families and businesses. They can be found in shop windows, farm paddocks, along the streetscape and household front gardens. Here are a couple of my favourites.

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Check out the event website for more photos. http://barossavintagefestival.com.au/barossa-scarecrows

I left the scarecrow hunt with grand plans to make my own scarecrow to watch over my vegetable garden. Stay tuned for photos.

4. Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop: I love food. I enjoy growing my own produce and making delicious food using whatever is in season.  Maggie Beer is one of my inspirations.  I didn’t know what to expect from my visit, but from the moment we arrived I was overwhelmed by the warmth and hospitality.  My visit to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop can only be described as magical.

We strolled around the gardens, doing the nature walk and the farm walk and enjoyed watching the birds. We stayed for lunch and selected from the picnic style menu while enjoying a delicious wine.

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Porcini Mushroom & Verjuice Pate Picnic Basket & the Seasonal Cheese Picnic Basket

It was a wonderful relaxed concept.  Our food arrived in actual baskets and we ate with our hands.  If the weather was better, it would have been perfect to sit on the lawn areas outside.

After picking up a few of Maggie’s goodies for the pantry we departed. If you are ever in the vicinity, I would highly recommend a visit.

http://www.maggiebeer.com.au