Smart Girl

I’m a smart girl. I love to read. I love to write. I secretly love when I use a long word that someone doesn’t understand, so I have to explain it to them. Knowledge is a skill I have always been proud to possess. I thought it would keep me safe from things in the world. I thought if I knew better, I would be better.

School and knowledge is lauded as this absolutely vital skill that we will perish without. But devouring books, and filling my head with wonderful facts and stories and languages did not keep me safe from any of the experiences I now realise I share with every person on this planet. Most of which are not experiences we should be kept safe from. They are things we need to learn through action, through screw ups and through learning lessons that will never be taught in front of a chalkboard, or from an encyclopaedia. 

One of the first things I struggled with that I honestly didn’t realise for a long time because of all this knowledge It held, because i thought I knew better, was body dysmorphia. Low self esteem and hatred of the body I have been gifted that keeps me alive every day. 

Because of the education that I was lucky to enjoy so much, none of this really became apparent to me until I was an adult, where the real mind tricks begin. People think girls in high school are cruel, and are at the root of body issues. The adult world, in my opinion, is far more unforgiving and damaging. We are told we are officially old enough to know better. Allowed to vote, to drink, to drive and to live alone. The task of handling all of the mental struggles is a burden we are left to bear alone, and it is a heady weight to carry. 

This experience is particularly grating for women, speaking as one and from the only perspective I have a right too. I have always stood by the fact that every woman, with zero exemptions, has struggled with some semblance of an eating disorder at some stage in their life. It may not be the extreme level of collar bones protruding through flesh, or internal systems shutting down due to lack of sustenance. But every woman has switched on a film, seen a taut and toned body in a swimsuit and instantly started counting the calories of the snack sitting in front of them. Every woman asked out on a date has agonised over what dress to wear to hide the natural imperfections of our bodies, and then has a completely separate torturous process of thinking about what their date will think if they see them without the comforting armour of shape-wear and slimline colours and dress cuts. 

Growing up I was eternally grateful that I did not have a family environment that perpetuated these pressures on women. My mum was a little old fashioned and occasionally chose some slightly outdated clothing for me to wear, but she never made me feel less than for the way I looked. It wasn’t something I even thought of much until a genuine danger to my health kicked off the spiral. 

My father has spent most of my life sick, and when I was at university he had a very long and very stressful stint in the hospital. I was the only person who went and visited him, because I truly wanted to, but it did put a lot of extra stress on my life. Additionally I was working at an incredibly abusive and toxic workplace that served exceedingly unhealthy food. All of the additional stress plus my surroundings lead to me massively overeating to cope, and putting on close to 40kg. I didn’t acknowledge it for a long time, and it wasn’t actually until a break up that I knew something had to change. So I started going to the gym, started cooking from home, an activity I absolutely adore so that wasn’t a chore like I know it is for some. 

My health improved, I was fitter and loved exercising and felt great. 

And people told me so. Everyone noticed the weight-loss and told me how incredible I looked and wow such a huge difference. 

At the time this lit up a little flame inside me. Gave me so much validation and I thought it was wonderful. But what they were actually saying was that I now looked acceptable because I was skinnier, and that if I wasn’t I was no longer worthy of attention. 

I can see this now as I think back on it, but then I was only thrilled with the difference everyone was seeing and wanted to make more of a difference. So I kept going, kept trying new meal plans and new workouts. Some days I would see how long I could go without food until my head began to swim, until I was tripping over my shaky legs. I would be delighted if I could go a full day on just one meal. I would weigh myself in the morning, barely eat and then check my weight again at night to see if I could drop weight in singular days. 

I would lay in bed with my stomach churning from hunger and think how great it was that there was so little food in my body that it was making those sounds. I would delight at the fact that maybe if there was no food in me, my body would start using up the disgusting fat stores and I would get even thinner. And I did. I thought it was ok because I more often than not did eat. I wasn’t starving myself everyday so it was ok. But I did it enough for it to work. 

This would continue with peaks and valleys. I would feel content, even happy with the way I looked, and stabilise a little. And then something stressful would happen, I would binge on a whole block of chocolate and absolutely torture myself for the disgression. 

When lockdown #1 hit it was a strange time because while it was stressful, it provided me with an unusual period of stability. I was working from home, I had a full time job with very stable income that I was enjoying at the time. So I spent the copious free time working out, testing new meals. And I was enjoying how healthy I was. But I was still doing it to look better. 

When I eventually hit the number on the scale that was my official ‘goal weight’ I was ecstatic, smug. But I’m not sure if happy was the right word. It was an achievement, yes. But it was one made in a period of tunnel vision in my life. Not based on reality. While I was briefly thrilled with the way I looked, thrilled that I could buy dresses a full size smaller that clung to my small frame. It did not last. I started to look at my body, the lack of fat. The lack of curves. I began to worry that there was still something wrong. That I didn’t look like a woman anymore, that I was less desirable because my boobs and bum had shrunk as is inevitable with major weight loss. 

After a brief period of a relationship, when weight and diet were the last thing on my mind, and as we emerged from lockdown, and finally back into reality I could see the impacts of the real world on my mental health and my body and knew it wasn’t me that needed to change. 

I needed to realise that a goal weight was never going to make me happy. That the tape measure that still hangs over the door of my wardrobe serves only as a cruel reminder of how our bodies become reduced to inches and kgs, instead of strong people going through some seriously hard shit. At the start of this current lockdown I tried to replicate the first one. Thinking maybe I could do it again and it would stick. But after some seriously enlightening conversations with others also struggling with their body image, I knew that I had to put my mental health and what is really important in life as the number one priority. That I am not meant to be rake thin, and I am still beautiful and fit and smart and funny. And my weight has piss all to do with that and that is a fucking relief.

My People

There’s a special brand of friend that hopefully many have the blessing of acquiring at some point in their lives. It takes a certain level of maturity and let’s all be honest, getting through some serious shit to make it to these types of friends. These are the friends you have gotten off your bed, gone to a class or event or anything else purposeful and deliberate and found. You don’t know who they’ll be or how they will find you when you do this but it is what you do. They aren’t just convenient friends from school, or friends of a boyfriend or mutual friend. They are your people who came to you when you were ready. And they are the ones you know will stick. 

These friends of mine, my true and genuine people, came to me through the art of burlesque. I’ve danced my whole life. People have come and gone. But this class was different. Burlesque for me has been very different. It’s shifted my life and helped mould me into the fabulous person I am today. It was something I choose, and did so because I was ready to own my body, my sexuality and myself. And I was rewarded with some truly spectacular people. 

Sammy was first. She was this bizarre and bubbly sunbeam of a woman. So beautiful and enthusiastic about life and about performing. We both love chick flicks and dancing our arses off to 80s music and drinking far too much wine. She has the most awe inspiring gift of a voice, I never get sick of listening to her croon our literally any style of music she can do them all. Blues, pop and even opera, the kind that shatters mirrors and takes your breath away.

We both needed someone who would make an effort for the friendship. We both treasure when the other calls out of the blue for a chat or a wine. We have both had friendships when we felt we were doing all the heavy lifting. But the two of us are equals to each other. And we have so much fun and connect on so many levels. 

Em was next. We didn’t know it but we actually met a year prior to our dance class meet cute. When I bought her adorable desk and she dropped it off in her massive silver Ute. Clearly we were meant to be in each other’s lives. 

We connected at burlesque, she gave me rides and I listened to her wild stories about her life, her partners and all the wonderful different things she had done so far. How she was almost 30 but was switching up her career and her life goals. This inspired me so much. Made me want to do the same thing. She had this fantastic stick it to the man attitude that I shared. She loved the beach and nature and music. And she brought my first real love into my life. Someone who I am no longer with but who I cam so glad I met and shared some of my life with because it wouldn’t be as good without that experience. My bond with Em never shook amidst the break up. We became stronger, learned to communicate better and she helped me through my grief. 

Shea was next. Such a fabulous mix of a woman. So unwaveringly kind and hilarious. She gives her whole self to so many people. She makes me want to always be there for her and share my life with her. She is the absolute enigma of a human who can drink like an absolute trouper, stay out until 5am every day of the weekend and be daisy fresh Monday for her extremely grown up job as a high school teacher. She introduced me to the glorious art of watching soccer in the summer sun with a can of Sunkist laced with Tequilla and for that I will be forever grateful. 

She and her partner Phil are the rock solid couple we all aspire to be a little like. In no way perfect, they have been through a huge array of trials and tribulations in their life. But they are each other’s forever and they know it so completely. 

Each of these girls has brought something so different and so special into my life. We have the kind of friendships where even if one of them moves, or another goes on a roundtrip of Australia in a van like a loon, that we will persevere, and they will be there for me no matter what. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Vegetarian Breakfast Wrap

Inspiration is the most fickle and unpredictable little shit I have ever encountered. You give her a lovely welcoming environment, make a big mug of tea, put on your comfiest sweater and get all strands of hair out of your eyes. But she’s checked out for the week, probably off on some Insta worthy holiday taking poolside selfies with a mojito in each hand. When your trecking home in 10 degree weather however, blasting walking on sunshine and practically trotting to stay warm there she is, waving her pretentious little wave just begging you to forgot the fantastic thought before you can get it down on paper. Well not this time missy, some inspiration hit and i will attempt to articulate that and file it away for future use.

So you know a few weeks ago I did a burlesque show. Birthday cake and tits out on stage, remember. If you seriously don’t here’s the link to get all caught up, then pop back here once your situated. So of course since that glittering moment of stardom sans clothing all of my spare brain space has gone to mulling over my next act. Now i have playlists a foot long of songs that could make great, normal Burlesque acts. Some sultry boa shaking, gloves the whole shebang. However as my first act demonstrated, which I know you haven’t seen yet the video and photos they are on their way i swear, I don’t do things completely ‘normal’. My song was from a musical of course, you will learn i am a total musical theatre freak of the highest order, and it was big, fast and i was in a faux leather corset with a riding crop. So for my second act I had to come up with an equally ‘interesting’ concept, at the very least something that spoke to my personality at least a little.

All of the best burlesque performers ooze their own brand of joi de vivre through their numbers. Mae De La Rue wraps herself in mink, sparkles and tiaras and grooves to her favourite tracks which range from classic Hollywood glamour to Elvis hits. Surely Knot in all of her electric energy pulls out the most bizarre concepts, including and not limited to stuffing her face with Oreos on stage as the cookie monster, with goggly eyed nipple tassels no less. So you understand my desire to ‘ooze me’ as it shall here to for be known as. Shut up not in a sexual way, but also a little bit, it is Burlesuqe after all.

So as i bounced along the road bundled up in my most adorable scarf and 60’s inspired wool letterman jacket, i thought about what essence of me i could ooze this time. Baking maybe, it’s been done and could get messy Im not quite game to douse myself in edibles just yet. No i had just the thing, something simple yet luxurious, both innocent and very sexy. Pyjamas. Lesson I’m-not-sure-what-number-we’re-up-to-lets-call-it-5 about me is that my ultimate pleasure, my one true love in life is the glamorous gloriousness of Peter Alexander pyjamas. Since I was exactly 11 when i was gifted my first pair i was in love with how beautiful yet comfortable they were. I didn’t know such a combination could exist in this amazing package, yet they do and they have never lost their magic. Anyway more on my time in bed with the scrumptious Peter for another day, i have settled on pyjamas for my next performance theme. I desperately want to tell you the songs I have picked, but I think in true burlesque fashion i want to tease you a little. All in good time mes petite chou fleur, but you must all be wondering what on earth this has to do with todays blog title.

Well the aforementioned dish, a simple vegetarian breakfast wrap was also a product of some inspiration, as a lot of my dishes are. i’ll often have something delish out, then attempt to recreate it in my tiny kitchen. This one was based on the amazing vegan wraps my local cafe makes, that have saved my ravenous arse at 5: 30 in the morning when i barely make it out the door and into the Uber that i definitely cannot afford to take me to the train station. So i thought it would be appropriate to share this recipe along with my burlesque musing, as it seems to just be the day for a good helping of inspiration. Enjoy and let the #inspo goddess smile down on you, although she probably wont because she’s moody that way.

One step at a time,

Ginger Snap xxx

Vegetarian breakfast wrap

  • Large wholemeal wrap
  • 1/4 tin of chickpeas
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • 1 tomato sliced
  • Handful of grated cheese
  • Sliced mushrooms and zucchini, baked or sautéed
  • 1 tsp garlic
  1. Mash chickpeas and mix with lemon juice, salt and pepper and garlic
  2. Spread on wholemeal wrap
  3. Layer veggies and cheese
  4. Toast, cut in half and enjoy!

Salmon Pasta Bake

So in case you needed a refresher, I really love to cook. A shock I know considering the subject matter of my first two blog posts. I’m writing this on a Sunday morning, on my futon couch with a cup of coffee and several cooking magazines scattered around me. One of my favourite monthly rituals is buying a fresh new magazine. I actually work for the company that produce the publication, I even interned for Taste itself. However I still love to go to the Woolworths around the corner from my office and buy a shiny new copy once a month.

Leafing through the glossy pages with immaculate photos of recipes and mouth watering creations, I think how Michelin star restaurant worthy all of these dishes look. With splashes of ingredients you would definitely have to visit speciality stores for, they’re not the most realistic of creations to whip up while I’m meal prepping for the week ahead. None of them would use up the chickpeas and lentils I have sitting in my cupboard, and wow the clean up after every pan in my kitchen would have to be used to prep and cook everything. Not that this often stops me from giving some of them a try, but my versions are usually amended in a more realistic fashion. I take the recipes more as guidelines then actual rules, let them inspire some fresh dishes without breaking the bank.

I’m lucky that I know how to do this, twist recipes to make them work for me with the knowledge that nothing will blow up or burn. However I know so many people who are often hindered by how complicated and elaborate recipes make cooking look. Yes the magazines have to cater to all the dedicated chefs who would make up a lot of their readers, but in this age of convenience and desire for instant gratification i feel like there is a need for more simple and realistic cooking.

Even the health and lifestyle type books and magazines, the ones that promise they can change your life and help you get into healthier habits, seem to forget not everyone is on the salary of an Instagram influencer. They encourage avacado on and in everything, swear a properly cooked sit down breakfast in the morning is their key to better life and they all get at least 8 hours of sleep. Now I for one know that all of these things when you don’t earn a lot of money and commute 3 hours a day are just downright rubbish. There’s a lot of nutritionists and lifestyle personalities that i look up to, Lyndi Cohen for example is amazing. However even she doesn’t quite seem to understand the type of lifestyle so many people live but get very little guidance on.

There are options out there of course, but they are very seldom marketed to us the way a lot of these books and magazines are. This website for instance is something i just discovered mid typing this post, and actually allows you to plug in what ingredients you have at home and generates appropriate recipes to use them up. Pure genius, and yet I had no clue it existed until i really went searching for it. There’s more people on social media these days as well catering to people who need quick, easy and healthy meal prep, real people with tight budgets and 5am wakeup alarms. Work week lunches is one of those people who i scroll through recently to get inspiration from, with a style i can only aspire to.

Contributing to this burgeoning slew of information on cooking for the perpetually busy, tired and uninspired is something i would love to do, and will shoot at from this blog. The title of this particular post is a dish that my mum actually inspired, an ultimate feel good and healthy meal that is perfect for meal prep and is ultra cheap. Give it a go and let me know what you think.

One step at a time,

Ginger Snap xxx

Salmon Pasta Bake

  • 400g tin of salmon or tuna whatever you want to use up
  • Carrots, corn, celery pretty much whatever vegetables you need to use in your fridge
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 300g of pasta
  • White sauce packet mix, anything including ‘cheesy cauliflower’ or normal white sauce will work
  • Grated cheese to sprinkle on top
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  2. In a saucepan make up the white sauce according to the instructions
  3. Add tin of salmon
  4. In a fry pan saute garlic and onion, add vegetables and cook until slightly tender
  5. Add the salmon and sauce mix and stir until combined
  6. Cook pasta according to instructions
  7. Add pasta to the salmon and vegetables mix
  8. Pour into a prepared casserole dish
  9. Sprinkle cheese on top, bake until cheese turns golden brown
  10. Enjoy

Rainbow layer cake

The tale of a toddlers birthday cake and getting my tits out on stage

Have you ever had a fantasy materialise itself, something show up in real life and measure up exactly how you pictured it. Nah me either, because usually fantasies are exactly as advertised, a load of trumped up bullshit that usually disappoint. I have had a fair helping of let downs as any flawed human being will attest to. My 21st birthday was a total shambles, losing my virginity an embarrassment of the highest proportions, stories for another very entertaining time. You adjust to not getting what you want, exactly how you want it of course, thats just real life and theres plenty of other experiences that often prove better then anticipated. However those rare moments that play out exactly as designed in your naive little imagination are pretty cool, and I was lucky enough to have a few in the past week. Yes more then one i know lucky me, but i swear it’s not crap so just hear me out.

The first wonderful event, one to foreshadow the weekend to come, was making my nieces 3rd birthday cake. A rainbow layer cake with cream filling was requested of the resident baker, so I set about making this thing that I had ever yet to try. Step by step i had no issues, not with the layers, cream filling, crumb coat, buttercream icing or covering the whole thing in sprinkles. Cutting into the cake was a truly glorious moment of pride. The layers were bright and perfect, a vibrant rainbow with white cream layers peeking through. My niece loved the colours and sprinkles too, a true triumph for a novice baker.

So that was fantasy number one, might seem trivial but it was wonderful to create something new that really worked out and everyone appreciated. Now take those very feelings and crank the oven up about 200 degrees and we have Saturday night, my Burlesque stage debut. I have always adored dancing, it just seems to work with my body and my brain. Craving a new style I stumbled across the Muse School of Burlesque, and undertook the feature performance class. Yes this did involve being alone, on stage in front of loads of people getting my kit off. Thankfully that bit didn’t bother me, dancing and my upbringing have given me pretty solid body confidence which i am eternally grateful for. I had run through the routine a million times, a completely clear picture of how it would look and feel.

The night came, after months of rehearsal, we were at the Bulli Heritage hotel, make up applied, hair teased within an inch of its life. It was the most thrilling experience of my life to say the least, knowing all eyes were on me, and taking in the overwhelming enthusiasm and appreciation as i performed. Every step got stronger as the audience’s energy oozed through my number, a delicious cocktail of awe and lets face it, intense sexual attraction. I completely owned that stage, clad in a faux leather corset and whipping myself raw with a riding crop. It is something i never thought i would do, and once it was over i truly never wanted to leave the stage. The lights, the applause was better then any other endorphin, better then sun on a freezing winter day or a quadruple shot long black. It’s where i belong, and it definitely won’t be the last time a crowd full of people see me in nipple tassles.

One step at a time,

Ginger Snap xxx

Oh and for your encore, the recipe that birthed the magnificent cake you saw above

Rainbow Layer Cake

  • 625 g butter (softened)
  • 2 cup caster sugar
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 cups self-raising flour (sifted)
  • 1 2/3 cup milk, extra tablespoon for buttercream
  • 1 cup of thickened cream
  • 2 C icing sugar mixture
  • Food colouring in 5 different colours
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C, line 5 20x6cm cake tins with baking paper
  2. Beat 500g of the butter (set rest aside for icing), sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl until pale and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs in one at a time until combined.
  4. Add half of the flour and half of the milk and fold into the mixture using a spatula. Add the the rest of the flour and milk and continue to fold until all combined.
  5. Seperate the cake batter into 5 bowls and use food colouring to dye them the desired layer colours
  6. Pour into the prepared cake tins
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean
  8. Leave them to cool completely
  9. Carefully level the tops of each cake with a serrated knife or desired tool so they can stack safely
  10. To make cream filling, whip the thickened cream with a balloon whisk until it thickens and stiff peaks begin to form. Slowly add 1/2 cup icing sugar until thick and combined
  11. For the buttercream icing, beat the remaining 125g of butter until pale and creamy, add the remaining 1 1/2 C of icing sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk

Cake assembly

  1. Put a dollop of buttercream on the cake board to secure the cake, firmly attach the first layer
  2. To prevent the cream from seeping out the sides, pipe a thin line of buttercream around the edge of each layer
  3. Put a dollop of whipped cream filling in-between each layer and place the next cake on top
  4. Make sure the cake is secure, level and even and put a crumb coat on it and pop it in the fridge for an hour
  5. Ice your cake with a thick layer of butter cream, ensuring the sides are smooth and even
  6. Cover the cake in sprinkles and enjoy your masterpiece

Eggplant Bruchetta

There are not a lot of things in life I can say with complete confidence that I am good at. Partly some self confidence issues for sure, but mostly just because quality usually needs some sort of judge and who the hell wants to sign up their most beloved activities for judgement or speculation. I can’t be trusted, i’m too close too close to judge objectively or represent anyone apart from myself and the small subset I live within. That’s fine of course, I don’t feel like i need everything I do constantly validated, although in the most needy generation of all time it is ever so slightly etched into my DNA.

What I am trying to say with all this overthinking of the concept of skill and merit, is that I can without a doubt say I am really good at cooking. Now i know this for several reasons, first because I have been told. I’m the baker, I bring adorable cupcakes and scrumptious cookies to any event that even remotely calls for a food chaser. I hosted a stall for the Cupcake Day for the RSPCA charity fundraiser, made chocolate goody bags for homeless Christmas luncheons. Massive humble brags I know, look at me I’m so charitable look at all the things I volunteer for. Thing is I am definitely one of those typical bleeding heart millennials who really hopes they can change the world. But also each event is another excuse to cook so that sort of doesn’t suck.

The second and arguably most noteworthy reason I know I’m a good cook is because of the intense euphoria every aspect of it brings me. I have always said cooking is my therapy and it seriously is. Everyone has their thing, some people’s minds quieten when they swim, or when they solve really tough equations. Mine is most at peace when i am chopping, sautéing, stirring and baking, breathing in the heavenly and completely simple aromas that i have crafted with my own hands. Making something from start to finish, and that creation nourishing my body and fuelling all of the tasks I have to get through.

This eggplant bruschetta that is sitting before me only half assembled is the reason why I will be able to get up at 5:30am every morning this week for work. The chicken mince shepherds pie that I just removed from the oven, so loaded with fresh vegetables that they almost overflowed, is the meal that will fuel my boxing classes after lunch. So fantastically simple and easy to make, yet I literally couldn’t live without them.

An intense relationship to have with some vegetarian bruschetta I know, but this blog is going to be a little bit like that. I am a massively emotion over thinker who is really passionate about her hobbies, her very tiny set of family and friends and her pyjamas that cost far too much to admit to you, a stranger at the moment. But don’t worry I’ll tell you once we get a little more acquainted, and I’ll have you Peter Alexander obsessed and maniacally baking cupcakes in no time.

One step at a time,

Ginger Snap xxx

Oh also in case you clicked on this actually shooting for a recipe here is the one I used

Eggplant Bruchetta

  • 2 eggplants, sliced into 2cm thick slices
  • Salt
  • Olive oil to coat
  • Your cheese of choice
  • 2 punnet of cherry tomatos, diced
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Balsamic vinegar to taste
  1. Lay eggplant on a tray, liberally salt and leave to rest for 30 minutes, then pat dry with a paper towel
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced, line a baking tray
  3. Drizzle eggplant with oil so it’s coated on both sides and lay on the tray
  4. Sprinkle with cheese of choice
  5. Make bruschetta mix by chopping tomatos, red onion and garlic, mix and spoon onto eggplant slices
  6. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden and crispy
  7. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and garnish with basil leaves
  8. Enjoy!!