Eat in: Menulog Review/Giveaway

*I received a voucher from Menulog.  As always, all opinions are my own.*

There are nights during the week when I look into the fridge at the food that needs preparing in order to give Mr 5 dinner that doesn’t consist of two minute noodles and just think ‘ugh, no way’.  I also don’t have a car or license so our take away options are limited to pizza aka the only places that deliver.

So when Menulog came along I was pretty excited that there was finally another cuisine (even Indian!) I could order in and eat in the comfort of my PJs!

The whole process was super easy and the Menulog website is set out really well to make finding your suburb simple.  They also have apps for Apple and Android so you can order on your way home from work and have a nice hot meal waiting for you not long after you get home!

The first step is to type in your suburb (for me I searched for Rockhampton).

Secondly choose the restaurant that takes your fancy.  If you are feeling a little more energetic you can also order online but pick up your meal in store.  This is a great option if you are on your way home from work and don’t have time or energy to cook!

The next step is to place your order.  Most places have a minimum order amount, but this is usually around the $20 mark which is mostly on par with other delivery services.  There is also the option to have your order delivered ASAP or at a specified time later time.  You can even order it for another date in the future.

Payment is also super easy with all major credit cards and paypal accepted.

It was great to be able to have a bit of variety for take away options, especially when transport is an issue.  I’ve used it a a couple of times since, and have been impressed with the process of ordering online.

Now for the extra awesome part!  I have a $20 voucher for Menulog to give away to one lucky reader!  All you have to do, to be in the running is to answer this easy question:

What is your favourite cuisine and why?

  1. Competition is open to Australian residents only
  2. Competition starts 6am 31st July 2014 and ends 6pm 6th August 2014
  3. One entry per household. Any extra entries will be removed.
  4. The winner has 48 hours to reply to correspondence or the competition will be redrawn.
  5. The winner will receive a voucher to the sum of $20 to use on the Menulog website.
  6. All decisions are final.

Monster Truck Party

Just over a week ago my gorgeous Mr 4, became Mr 5.  His only request for his party was that the cake had a monster truck on it.  I went trawling through Pinterest to find ideas for food, and how to make the cake.  I came up mostly empty handed.  I was really disappointed.  So I decided to share what I did, in case there is another poor mother out there who just wants an easy Monster Truck Party.

monster truck partyI got all of the decorations from a US website.  It did take about 3 weeks for them to arrive though so if you are needing them a little quicker I would probably try to source them from an Australian website.

Party Food:

  • Clinker slice – Recipe from Bake Play Smile
  • Cheese and Bacon Scrolls (puff pastry, tomato paste, bacon and cheese)
  • Cheeseymite Scrolls (puff pastry, vegemite, tasty cheese, parmesan cheese)
  • Chocolate cupcakes with monster truck picks (recipe same as birthday cake below)
  • Cheezels
  • Cheese and Bacon Cob Loaf – recipe from Multitasking Mummy

The hardest thing seemed to be finding a simple chocolate cake recipe.  I put a call out on my blog page and decided to go with one suggested by Teresa.  Used 2 batches to make the size cake that I needed.

Chocolate Cake Recipe:

  • 1 cup of self raising flour
  • I cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essense
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

Mix all ingredients together.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Now for the fun part..the construction!  After baking 53 cupcakes and a cake, I decided to outsource the added bits of cake to great the race track.  The cake didn’t look how I envisioned it at first, but overall I was really happy with it.  I got the plain rectangle sponge from Woolies.  I also got premade icing because icing is absolutely my kryptonite.

monster truck chocolate cakeI was going to cut the top of the cake off, to make the surface more flat but I decided not to tempt fate because the cake came out perfectly.

monster truck cake piecesI laid the rectangle sponge on top of the round cake, in the place that I wanted the ramp to start.  I then cut out the section of cake from underneath the rectangle sponge.  I then pushed the rectangle sponge into the gap left.  It was a pretty snug fit so I didn’t worry about using icing to stick it in place.

monster truck cake rampStarting at the end that was closest to the round cake, I cut through the cake on a 45 degree angle.  This helped to create the ramp up onto the round cake, which was going to be main arena.

monster truck cake chocolate rampI also made mini ramps on the round cake.  I used chocolate roll sponge to do this.  I cut a slice off the roll that was about 10 cm wide.  I then turned the piece on its side and sliced through diagonally to give it the ramp shape.  I stuck the pieces to the round cake using icing.  I then covered the entire creation in icing.  The rectangle sponge was a little more fresh than the rest of the cake and so it was harder to ice, but I got there in the end.

monster truck cake finishedTo finish it all off I placed monster trucks on the ramps, using icing to stick them in place.  I also placed a couple of cars underneath one because a monster truck cake wouldn’t be complete without some car crushing!

The cake was an absolute hit with the kids, and there were lots of exclamations of ‘woah’ when I bought it out.  It was a stressful week leading up to the party but to see it all come together and see the kids having so much fun definitely made it all worth it.

monster truck party finishedLinking up with Jess for IBOT

Prey of Fear

We were watching Ice Age: The Meltdown for the 500th time this week and something Sid said to Diego really struck a cord with me.  I had an ‘aha’ moment.

Sid: I’m just trying to help you get over your fear of the water.
Diego: Fear is for prey.
Sid: Then that means the water has made you its prey.

Did you know that 10% of Australians will be affected by an anxiety disorder at some point during their life.  An anxiety disorder is a little more than just being scared of something. Anxiety can be crippling for a sufferer.

According to Anxiety Australia physical symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder can include:

  • Blushing
    Sweating
    Shaking/trembling
    Dizziness
    Tachycardia, rapid heartbeat
    Muscle tension
    Nausea
    Numbness or tingling in arms, hands  or legs
    Diarrhoea
    Headaches
    Butterflies in the stomach

It wasn’t until I wrote this post recently that I even realised that anxiety had become an issue for me.  I know that must sound ridiculous but it’s true.  My response to anxiety is to get angry, and so I wasn’t recognising a lot of the symptoms for what they were.

I can’t pinpoint my fear to one specific thing, it is more of a feeling than anything else.  It’s the feeling that everyone in the world is staring at you and just waiting for you to fuck it all up.  It’s the fear of judgement, of scrutiny.  I avoid situations where there is the potential for it.  Turning into a hermit, exacerbating the other symptoms that I am dealing with.

I’m exhausted from the fear.  I’m exhausted from putting the mask up every day.  I’m exhausted from having to deal with the bubbling cauldron of anger that my body has become.  I just want to hide away.

Are you becoming prey to your fear?

Beyond Blue has some great resources and information on helplines to help you conquer the fear.

So you can be just like Diego

What the Internet has taught me

Hi everyone!  Welcome to the meeting of the minds that is The Lounge!  Grab a drink, make yourself comfortable and get ready to share some stories!  This week the prompt is ‘Things the Internet has taught me’.  If you haven’t written a post yet and still want to join in then please feel free as we have the link open for a few days!

Image credit

Image credit

I’ve been accessing the internet for nearly 20 years and I have learned a lot of things over the years.  Social media was only just starting to be appealing to teenagers when I was in highschool and I am so thankful.  I could often be found skulking around forums dedicated for people with mental health issues and the worst I had to deal with was the occasional troll who would come in and spew hate at the ‘crazies’.  They were often dealt with pretty swiftly though.

I learned (and so did my parents..sorry!) that listening to emo music on internet radio for hours on end every night will make your parents go over the internet allowance, and they will be pissed at you because they now have a ridiculously massive telephone bill (I am so glad that have now introduced no extra fee internet!).

I learned that a kid in year 9 can create a virus that will wipe out half the town’s computers, including businesses and it will be one of the times that I was glad I wasn’t msn friends with the popular kids.

I learned that if someone tells you to google something and then laughs…NEVER EVER GOOGLE IT EVER because what has been seen cannot be unseen.

I have learned to bide my time until investing my all into another person online.  I have a tendency to blurt stuff out and then I chastise myself for letting so much of myself out.  I find it easy to get caught up in what others are doing.  I have learned to take a step back when I need to.

I have learned that the internet can be a lonely place sometimes.  That it can feel like everyone else is doing stuff, while you are being left behind.  It’s these times when again I need to take a step back and take stock of the things that I do have.

I have met some of the most wonderful, supportive people online.  Many who I am happy to include in my circle of friends in my day to day life.  The internet has allowed me to engage with people all over the world who have similar philosophies.  I have been able to connect with people who challenge my way of thinking, who can educate in a way that leaves you hungry for more.

I have learned that the internet is forever, it doesn’t forget.  For this I am worried about the world that Mr 5 is growing up into.  A world where everyone is a google search away, that things they do as a stupid teenager could come back to bite them in the arse when they go for that dream job.  I worry about the mental health of our future generations.  I worry that the anxieties of growing up in a technological world where no one is ever switched off.

Most of all I have learned that the internet is about what you make it, just like anything else in life.  If you choose to only seek out the negative, then that is what you will find, if you don’t reach out, then you will always feel lonely.  The internet is massive, there will always be room for you.

What has the internet taught you?

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Depressed: An Anonymous Guest

Being depressed and being a man are two things that often aren’t spoken about.  Today I have an anonymous blog post from a man who wants to share his story.  I am happy to provide this space for him to speak about his experiences safely.  Please make him feel welcome.

If you or someone you know is struggling with feeling depressed then please seek help.  The first port of call is usually your GP, however there are a plethora of help lines available including Lifeline, Kids Helpline, and Beyond Blue.

Image credit

Image credit

Sometimes something happens in my head that just makes functioning as normal seem like an incredibly difficult thing to do. People say things like, oh we all go through slumps, we all have peaks and troughs; we just have to buck-up, take a teaspoon of cement and crack on. She’ll be right, as you Aussies say. Stiff upper lip for us Poms.

Sometimes though, the mountain in front seems insurmountable. And yet it might be something as simple as going to work in the morning. Sure, we all have days where we can’t be bothered going to work, but you know something is amiss when you would rather not do anything for the fear of a situation in front of you. I’m not talking about a soldier going to war or a fire fighter running into a blazing inferno, I’m talking about those times in our lives when, for some reason, the situation we are about to be in, as mundane as it may be, just seems too damn hard. And so, rather than put yourself forward, you make excuses to not do anything. You orchestrate a way of ‘getting out of it.’

This will take some explaining and first of all I should address my anonymity. I am a male blogger and there are clues to my identity in here but I’d rather keep it a little hush hush. Tegan has been kind enough to host my rambling as a guest post and I thank her for that.

My blog goes alright but many of my readers know me personally and I’d rather some of the things I say here not get back to certain people… particularly my mother, my wife and the students I teach (or rather, the parents of students I teach) The first will worry, the second doesn’t quite understand, and the third… well, I give enough of myself in my job every day. I don’t need to give everything.

So back to my point about orchestrating a situation in order to avoid something. In my job I am the person at the centre of things. That is my role. I’m a counselor, a disciplinarian and a motivator. Recently though I seem to have lost my edge. Or, more accurately, I am very aware that my ‘edge’ is at risk and I don’t know what to do to fix it. There are huge events that I organise, lead or a play a big part in. If I don’t show up, I let a lot of people down. The world will still turn without me of course, I’m by no means indispensable, but it is an expectation of my role (and the persona I’ve created for myself) that I will be there. Front and centre.

Sometimes I just don’t want to be. The thought fills me with dread and I look for a way out. I want to sit on the sidelines like an awkward teenage nerd at the school dance. I want to be in a room by myself. And this is the core of the matter; sometimes the simple act of getting out of the house is a feat in itself.

Let me make it clear. I have NEVER not done something I was expected to do. I have always made it out of the house, I have always played my part, and I have always found satisfaction from the achievement.

But it shouldn’t be an achievement. I’m increasingly aware of how much harder it is becoming for me to simply function. And it isn’t just work, though even as I write this I am consumed with the thought of my day tomorrow because I know there will be confrontation. It’s nothing big. Nothing I can’t handle, but it would be so much easier to ‘just not go’ and so my brain keeps whirring. But like I say, it isn’t just work.

I was so very close to cancelling or re-organising a trip away for my wife’s birthday because the thought of flying was consuming me… weeks before. I’ve never been afraid of flying until a terrible storm a few years ago. We nearly crashed. Now I have to chew down panic whenever we hit the smallest turbulence. Also normal, I know. What isn’t normal though is the anxiety that creeps in WEEKS before the flight. The heart flutters when I book the ticket. I fixate on things.

Years ago, our son was born not long after a natural disaster which took our house. He nearly never made it but he pulled through like a champ. At the time, and for about a year afterwards, I was having severe pains in my head that I’d never experienced before. I had a patch on the top of my skull that was prickly and sensitive to the touch and for nearly a year, whenever I touched it (daily showers were a nightmare) a shooting pain needled down through my skull and into my neck and shoulders. Then one day I collapsed. A storm broke over my head and the agony of it dropped me to my knees. My wife found me clawing at my own head and I was rushed to hospital.

They did every test imaginable on me but found nothing wrong. I got the impression the doc at the hospital thought I was bunging it on a bit… I promise you I wasn’t (this is anonymous, why would I lie?) And then a few months later I was in front of a different doc for an unrelated matter and the ‘head thing’ came up. He asked what I knew about depression. I said not a lot, but that I’d once sat the Beyond Blue test online and my score tipped me over the line.

The fact that I’d sat the test really interested him and he told me to talk to my wife about it and come back to him. I didn’t know how to approach this conversation with her so I made a joke of it,

‘You’ll never guess what the bloody doctor said, he reckons I might have depression.’

I waited for the response to see which direction this conversation would take,

‘What do you have to be depressed about?!’

Okay, that direction.

‘I know right!’ I said, ‘what a load of bollocks!’

That was three years ago. I never went back to the doctors. And here I sit, finally, for the first time ever, writing about it.

I don’t know how to describe it adequately so I’ll recount a conversation I had about two years ago with an older man I worked with. He sat at the desk next to mine and he asked me if I was okay. I said I was fine to which he replied, ‘cut the shit, you’ve been out of sorts for ages. What’s going on?’

We talked and somehow I managed to squeeze out the dreaded D word and then waited breathlessly as it hung in the air between us. I felt like such an arse. Men don’t talk to each other about this shit. I waited for the ‘tea-spoon of cement’ or ‘she’ll be right’ but it never came. He looked at me and said, ‘so how do you feel?’
I hesitated and realised I didn’t really know so I stammered out the D word again. He told me that wasn’t good enough. The D word wasn’t a feeling. He wanted to know how I felt.

I didn’t know what to say to him. I’m a sensitive sort of guy but even I have my ‘grunt and scratch myself’ limit. The silence dragged on as I searched for the words to express what I couldn’t express. You’re a writer, damnit! Speak! But I didn’t. Eventually, he looked at me and said, ‘I don’t want to put words in your mouth but tell me if this is close. Sometimes you just get washed over by sadness and you feel like crying for absolutely no reason. Or fear. You get attacked by a sudden and irrational fear that leaves your heart fluttering uncomfortably. You feel like you’re walking through a tunnel.’

I swear to god those were his words. His eloquence and absolute accuracy hit me like a shot to the gut and I stood up and walked away to smoke my first cigarette since my daughter was born. And then I had the second. When I finished the third I went back to my desk and said, ‘yes.’

My colleague looked at me and said, ‘I know mate. I’ve been there and I see it in you and I’ll tell you the same thing a doc told me that made me finally understand. It isn’t a weakness. It isn’t something you can just ‘get over’. A teaspoon of cement will not fix it. It’s chemical. The levels are wrong and you need help to get them evened out again.’

He gave me the analogy of a runner. Someone who runs every single day and then suddenly stops. The chemicals in the runner’s body are used to being at a certain level and then all of a sudden they no longer have the means to reach those levels. This affects more than we can possibly know. The runner quitting his routine is just an analogy for something being wrong with the balance and we can’t put it right ourselves. We need help. He told me to get help. I said I would.

I didn’t.

I haven’t.

So why am I writing this? It isn’t a cry for help; it is simply that I was given an opportunity (thank you Tegan) to write about it for the first time in my life. To really and truly express the inner turmoil that sometimes threatens to completely, totally, and utterly consume me.

I’m a ‘Daddy-Blogger’ and being a parent is the worst part of it.

Every parent deals with the stresses and anxieties of having their heart outside their body; running around in the fragile forms of their children. We all know the terror when they get hurt, the sleepless nights when they’re ill, and the ache when they aren’t with us.

But sometimes I can barely leave the house for fear that I’ll never see them again. My wife is getting wise to this. The days I ‘forget things’ and come back inside, giving the kids one more hug and kiss before I finally leave for work. The nights I sleep on the floor of their room in case they stop breathing (??!!) The times at the park I bring them home early when other kids show up, just in case they get pushed over and hurt.

And the night terrors that have me screaming.

But don’t worry, this isn’t a consistent thing. This isn’t something that you, as a reader, need to be concerned about. I know it isn’t healthy but I have it under control.

The very act of writing this is a great help and I thank Tegan for publishing it and you for reading it. I think we all just need someone to talk to; whether it is the guy at the desk next to us or a collection of readers I may never meet, it’s good to talk.

Now go give your loved ones a hug.

Linking up with Jess for IBOT.