The Best Worst Present

A gift selected with thought and love.

There is a milestone moment in the life of a parent when your child realises that the act of giving a gift can be (almost) as rewarding as receiving one. For my eldest daughter, Monkey, that happened last month and I was the lucky recipient. The gift she thoughtfully chose, sourced, bought, wrapped and tentatively gave me on the birthday morning brought tears to my eyes.

In fact, every time the bloody thing goes off in our lounge room, it still does!!

It was this….









and to fill it, this…






Apparently, the idea came to her during our stay in the serviced apartment in Brisbane. You see, growing up in Asia, our kids have never really been exposed to commercial TV. At the temporary accommodation we had cable, in English. Yay and funness! I freely admit that I used the television as somewhat of a ‘babysitter’ in those first few hectic weeks here in Australia. I also admit that I was not entirely immune to the charms of the 40-odd-channels, indulging in quite a lot of food and lifestyle porn!

It was probably during one of mummies ‘house’ shows that Monkey saw an advertisement for the above objet d’art.

According to the website – Air Wick Freshmatic Automatic Spray has been carefully created to ensure continuous fragrancing that will keep the air fresh and lovely for you and your family and ensure a brighter, happier home.’

Not only that, it comes in several unique fragrances, including ‘Frangapani’, a scent that would surely remind mummy of out home in Lao (The Frangapani is the National flower of Lao)

What’s more, it is available at your local supermarket!

Monkey, accompanied me grocery shopping, secretly located the aisle and item and later dragged Daddy on a special mission to buy mummy a present that would make our new home smell like Lao.

Honestly, it was most beautiful, thoughtful gesture and, despite that fact the our home has started to smell like a cheap brothel, every time I hear the psst of the fragrance dispenser my heart swells!



Monkey quietly approached me a week or so after my birthday, ‘Mumma’, she said, ‘It is OK if you turn the machine off sometimes.’
‘Why would I want to do that?’
She leaned in close, looking me straight in the eyes. ‘Because we both know it doesn’t smell very nice, does it? I don’t think the TV was right!’

I love you my beautiful, smart, baby girl. You are FABULOUS!

Happy belated 7th Birthday



Self Imposed Torture

For the last three days I have not eaten a thing. I have been achy and sweating, isolated and exhausted. If everything goes to plan I am going to feel like this until the end of the week. Then like a butterfly from a krysaliss, I shall emerge, purged, cleansed and feeling like a new woman.

The view ain’t bad.

I am at Samui Detox, in Thailand, on fasting and detoxification program. I booked myself in, it is a rare and wonderful privilege to be here while my wonderful partner, irreplaceable nanny and generous mother take care of the children. But for now I am hungry grumpy, achy and wishing like hell that I could go home.


What makes me even more insane is that I knew what I was in for. This is not my first time down this road. I have made time for a detox once a year, give or take, for the last 4 years. As I whined to G last night on Skype about how rotten I was feeling he reminded me that I say that EVERY time I come here and yet I keep coming back for more.



The detox program at Samui Detox includes a lot of things (food not being one of them): daily supplements and juice, deep tissue massage, steaming, daily exercise and yoga, meditation, workshops on healthy eating, parasites, the importance of the liver…. and yep… daily colonics. For this reason we refer to my annual retreat as ‘arse camp’.


You don’t want to know what goes on in this Bungalow

Arse camp has slowly but surely changed everything about my approach to life, or at least health. Not the least reason being the inspirational and passionate way that the Centres Director, Kim, guides you through the program and helps you to understand the value of taking care of your body, giving it the right fuel and how to take those concepts into daily life. I will admit she does have some crazy ideas. Apparently alcohol is bad for your liver and red meat, butter, cheese, cadbury dairy milk chocolate are best avoided.


Nonetheless, over time, I have made lasting changes to my lifestyle and to the lifestyle of my family that have tangible measurable benifts. Sometimes, when I go to a restaurant I choose the salad over the steak and don’t order french fries.


I am loving my stay here. I am incredibly grateful, though a little hungry. I look forward to going home at the end of it. Home to my children and my man and back to all the crazy stress that is life but with a new sense of vitality, priority and purpose.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy your next meal you bastards.

I do love a Party!

It's never too early for sparkle!
It’s never too early for sparkle!

For all those visiting as part of the Maison Bentley Style blog warming party… WELCOME.

I am guessing that you haven’t been here before, why should you have? If you want to know a little bit more about me and this particular patch of cyberspace check out this.

As it happens, I am typing this from Yangon, Myanmar. My three little princesses and I, for reasons I obviously didn’t think through, are visiting with my partner, G, who was here this week on business.

Place… fabulous! Travelling with smalls…well… check this out! 

It is my absolute pleasure to be part of the PARTY. Kate and I discovered each other days after I started 44andafourth and I have been her cyber-friendly ever since… any friend of Kates as they say! This is how awesome I think she is.

Living as an expat in South East Asia has its ups and downs but this is my recollection of one of my favourite ups.. and a post I am very proud of.

I hope you get a chance to wander around a bit. Though I might be late (I am travelling on Sunday) I look forward to joining you all.

Happy blog warming!

Sober September: a summary

We did it.  One month of Sobriety. Champagne anyone?

On the evening of Monday 31 September G and I opened a bottle of Prosecco and proposed a toast to our remarkable achievement!

It was moments after the first drops of bubbly, boozy goodness touched my lips that I realised it was actually still September and we really should have waited until midnight (or even the following day) to jump off the wagon!


Nonetheless, I am claiming a victory.   Sober September success!  We did it. We owned it. It was a little more difficult than I thought it would be.


The first week was miserable.  We had jet lag.  I was sleeping badly.  I had a psychological, if not physical, need at the end of the day for a glass of SOMETHING… just to take the edge off, as a reward for making it through the day, to help me sleep, because I WANT A DRINK AND I AM A GROWN WOMAN AND THIS IS A RIDICULOUS IDEA.

G was all, “Well if you want to I am not stopping you but I won’t be joining you”, which  just made me determined not to let him win.  He can be such a manipulative bastard!

We had just returned from France where my daily intake of wine was really quite impressive so I guess, on reflection, that I was detoxing, cold turkey.  It was quite sobering (pun intended) to realise just how reliant I am on alcohol as both a physical and emotional crutch.

But it did get easier.

During the month that was September, I thought a great deal about alcohol. Mostly, I thought, “Fuck, I would like a drink”, but there was the occasional moment of more serious contemplation.  Booze has really played a major role in my life.

  • Firstly, I am an Australian and for most Australians drinking is a right of passage, a cultural expectation and sometimes a lot of fun.
  • My parents are both drinkers.  In their heyday they were heavy drinkers. For better or for worse, drinking was celebrated and revered in our house.
  • I spent (or perhaps mis-spent) my student years, most of my twenties, and some of my thirties developing an appreciation of many mind-altering substances including, but not limited to, fine wine and whisky.
  • Apart from the 27 months that I was been pregnant,  I reckon that I have had a drink every week (in fact most days) of my adult life. (I even took the occasional drink while my girls were on the boob)
  • There is a (very valid) assumption amongst our peers that I will ALWAYS knock back a glass or two given the chance.
  • I have enjoyed some wonderful times with friends, family and a drink in my hand.
  • Many of the WORST moments in my life have been directly related to me, or those close to me, drinking too much!

I don’t want to mislead anyone into assuming that all this deep thinking actually led to any sort of revelation.  There was no epiphany, no life changing decision, just some sober (yep, that one was intended too) reflection.

Also, some observations:

  • After the first week, I slept much more soundly;
  • It was easier to return to sleep if I was woken in the night by one of my small people;
  • I was less groggy and more alert in the morning;
  • I was less irritable with my children, mostly;
  • I was sometimes more irritable because I didn’t have ‘mothers little helper’;
  • My skin improved and I looked less puffy in the face;
  • I craved something sweet in the evening after dinner (no doubt a replacement for the sugar in the alcohol);
  • I DIDN’T lose any weight (probably because I was giving in to those sweet cravings);
  • I became a bit of a hermit because I didn’t want to go out and be asked why I wasn’t drinking;
  • I enjoyed a lovely, sober night out with a group of girlfriends and didn’t miss alcohol at all (but I did have dessert);
  • I missed the ritual of sharing a glass of wine and some adult time after the kids went to bed;
  • I missed drinking – the taste of a good red, the match with a great meal, the buzz after a chilled glass of bubbly stuff.

Ultimately, not drinking for a month was good for my health and good for my head.  We might make Sober September an annual event.

That said,  I think it might be wine o’clock somewhere!  Can I tempt you?


Patsy: What will you drink if you stop drinking?

Edina: I shall drink water.

Patsy[Blank look]

Edina: It’s a mixer, Patsy, we have it with whisky…. I mean, you’ve given up drinking before.

Patsy: Worst eight hours of my life.

( Absolutely Fabulous, Series 1, Episode 1)


Have a FABULOUS weekend lovely readers!

Purple Corn Fritters…

We have a little garden at our big wooden house.  Actually, that is not entirely true.  We have a BIG garden at our big wooden house.  We also have a fabulous bloke called Kek who, along with his wife (who we fondly call Madame Kek) and his eldest daughter, Euyi, spend lots of time making sure the garden looks spick and span.

At the back of the garden is the veggie patch.  We built the beds not long after we arrived here in Vientiane.  Three solid years of composting absolutely everything has produced some luscious soil.

G, along with his daughters Pigeon and Chilli  (Monkey is not so keen to get her hands dirty) spend lots of time, every weekend, weeding and finding snails and worms, turning the compost and planting things to grow and eat.

My job is to turn the fresh produce into something delicious.

Last weekend, Chilli toddled up the stairs and deposited a bucket full of these at my feet.

Purple Corn. WTF!

They looked pretty weird and manky but the individual kernels were sweet and juicy.

I was rather proud of brunch that morning… colourful, healthy and it tasted FABULOUS.

Miss Pip’s Spelt and Purple Corn Fritters served with lao avocado, tomato, chilli salsa and natural yoghurt.


Have a fab day!

Sober September

Three weeks in France.  C’était FABULEUX!  (FABULOUS)

Selfie with big tall thing in background!


We arrived home from aforementioned adventure, dirty, ratty and exhausted on Saturday afternoon.

I rallied, started sorting through the piles of washing, opened suitcases (then quickly closed them again), opened fridge, emptied three week old bottles of milk, calculated that we could not make it until tomorrow with the three nappies we had in the house and sent G into the afternoon haze to gather the essentials.

Our vegetable and herb garden had blossomed during our absence so I was actually excited about preparing dinner – Fish fillets slathered with homemade asian inspired pesto (coriander, basil, chilli, olive oil, cashew nuts and soy sauce),poached in coconut milk and served on a bed of steamed bokchoy.  Perfect with a crisp Australian Riesling… don’t mind if I do!

As I was popping my culinary creation into the oven, G returned home from his shopping expedition.

“Wine?”  I asked not bothering to wait for an answer as I splashed a liberal amount into a second glass.

“I’ve made a decision” he responded.  I froze, mid pour. Decisions are not G’s strong point.  They are invariably foolish and ill-considered.

“What’s that then, dearest?”

“Sober September”


“I’m sorry, dear heart, I’m not quite sure what you mean?”

“No booze for a month. Detox. Get healthy.  Go back to gym.  Are you in?”

“Sure. What the hell.  Sounds great. Answer my question, do you want a drink?”

“Of course, I do.  It ain’t September yet, Biatch.”

I didn’t think he was serious.  I didn’t really think at all.  I had always planned to step up my exercise routine now that the kids were back at school.  A few weeks of focused healthy eating was already on the agenda in order to shed the few pounds of croissant and french cheese that had adhered itself to my hips and butt during the holiday.  But stop drinking! Completely! Why?


Because, I drink too often and often too much.  Because my NEED for wine has exponentially increased every day of the school holidays (funny that).  Because the French have wine with lunch and I was all for embracing the local traditions!  Because the thought of doing this shouldn’t worry me as much as it does.

So I am in.  Sober September. 5 days down.

It could be the jet lag, the lingering cold or it could be the fact that I am not drinking but I have been tired, irritable all week and today had a killer headache for most of the morning.

Also, I could really smash a glass of wine right now.

How many more days to go?????


Thanks for reading, it is nice to be back again. Just in case you were wondering, the fish was fabulous.

Well… she is a bitch

Is it possible to blame the cocktail of anti-flu drugs in my system yesterday for the awful rant I unleashed in this space.  Certainly, my miserable physical state was contributing to my general crankiness. This morning I reread my little tyraid and felt just awful.

It is true that getting ready to go on holidays is a painful process and that holidays with kids are not exactly relaxing in the traditional sense but I have been looking forward to this break for months.

Last night I was scared because every time we go on holidays things go pear-shaped.

This is a rare chance for us to be together as a family for more that one or two days.  The girls love our holidays.  G loves the adventure.  The only person with the power to ruin the whole schebang (Is that a French word!!!) is me.

But I am not going to do that this time.

We are going to Paris, how many people get to do that?

We are going to holiday in a house in the French countryside, how many people are lucky enough to have that opportunity?

We are leaving Vientiane (which has been getting me down lately), that is just what I need!

I am going to get the packing down today, I always do.

We are going to get on that plane and this time tomorrow I am going to be in Paris.

PARIS, I can feel the first stirrings of excitement in my loins.

Maybe it is time I put all the work I have done in the last year into practice….

My family doesn’t deserve to have their holiday ruined because I am a grumbly, selfish, ungrateful bitch.

My family deserve to holiday with someone FABULOUS.


Righto, see you later folks.  I am off to France.