Thursday, 19 December 2013

Progress with Pickle

Railay Bay, Thailand ~ June 2009
Once we received Mr Duncan's visa grant and were working out the details of our move to Australia we thought we'd spend a month or so experiencing the good food, weather and laid back lifestyle to be enjoyed holidaying on an island in Thailand, while we waited for our stuff to be shipped to Australia.  After all, Mr Duncan only needs a fast internet connection to be able to work.

Then we found out about Pickle and decided it was better to come straight here - I was concerned about continuity of maternity care and had no desire to be somewhere I didn't speak the language if something went wrong like before.

We travelled when I was 11 weeks - I really wanted to be here by Pipkin's due date - and I skipped the 12 week scan completely.  I didn't want the test results last time, and after what happened that was doubly true this time.

I registered with a doctor the week we got to Melbourne who referred me to
  • a pathology clinic to have blood taken and tested
  • a radiology clinic for an 18-20 week ultrasound and to 
  • the local hospital for pregnancy care
I had the bloods taken on the same day as my doctor appointment.  I haven't had any results so I assume they went to the doctor and everything is fine.

I received a letter from the hospital I was referred to saying they accept me as a patient for pregnancy care.  They have scheduled two appointments for me on 7th January.  One for the booking clinic, the second for the doctor clinic.  The hospital website says the booking clinic appointment is usually held between 14 and 18 weeks and mine is scheduled for week 19, so only a little late.  I have no idea what happens in the doctor's clinic.

I hadn't heard back from the radiology clinic as them so made a follow up call and they have booked my 18-20 week scan for 13th January.  After checking my dates I called back to check the appointment has been made for the right time - it is scheduled for 20 weeks, 6 days.  I was told that the doctors there don't want to see you for the scan until you're at least 20 weeks. It is a different hospital to the one I have been accepted at, (I have to get the ultrasound done privately) so maybe they do things differently there.  Except even their website refers to it as "Mid-trimester scan (18 to 20 weeks)".

So I'm a bit confused.  If anyone reading this has any experience of the Australian (Victorian) system for pregnancy care, I'd be very interested in any comments/advice/feedback.

I am slowly getting bigger and now look pregnant enough for someone to offer me a seat on a crowded tram yesterday.  I'm also experiencing some growing pains in my belly which in the absence of any other confirmation is mostly reassuring.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Sardine Fishcakes

I'm not very good at preparing small portions so we very frequently have leftovers.  This is good when it is soup or stew or something that can easily freeze and be revisited some time in the near future.

Unfortunately my potato salad is not a freezer friendly dish, so we had a portion or two left sitting in the fridge wanting to be eaten, but nothing really to eat with it.  The potato salad itself was made from the last vestiges of our vegetables before my first Melburnian organic vege box was delivered this afternoon.

What to have for lunch when there is next to no food in the house...
Sardines?  We had a tin and I'm trying to eat more sardines for the protein and healthy fats.  I suggested sardines and potato salad to Mr Duncan but he wasn't keen.

Then I started thinking about what else I might be able to do with sardines and came across these ideas on The Kitchn.  Several of them mentioned mustard, eggs or onion.

Wait, there is mustard AND eggs AND onion in my potato salad!

Looking a bit worse for wear after a night in the fridge
So I pulled it out of the fridge, mashed it all up with a fork, flaked a tin of sardines into the mix, shaped with my hands and shallow fried in a pan.

Not pretty, but delicious
They're very different from my usual fishcakes, but make a tasty lunch - especially with a few drops of chilli sauce.

I love it when a meal can do double duty.


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Pumpkin, Chicken and Basil Stir Fry

I have been missing my veggie garden and fresh herbs and Mr Duncan surprised me by bringing home a big bunch of basil the other night.  How romantic.

The problem was we didn't have any of the mediterranean type ingredients that I traditionally use with basil.   In fact all I had in the fridge was that chicken I forgot to use and a quarter of a pumpkin which I had earmarked for soup.

A quick google found a chicken and pumpkin stir fry recipe I could modify to my needs.

I added garlic and ginger to the onion and substituted soy sauce for the fish sauce. With no lid for my pan I needed more moisture than just the soy sauce to steam the pumpkin so used about half a cup of water - adding a little at a time to maximum steam. Naturally this took longer than indicated in the recipe.  I also used cooked chicken instead of fresh so raised the heat at the end and stirred it through to brown and heat through just before tossing through the basil and serving.

Fertility Focus
Pumpkin is high in carotenes which are converted to vitamin A by the body and a good source of B vitamins and iron.
Basil is great for pregnancy according to Fit Pregnancy:
Basil is a pregnancy superfood. This fresh herb is a good source of protein, vitamin E, riboflavin, and niacin; plus, it’s a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. 
Basil is also packed with iron, vital for keeping your energy levels up; calcium, essential for strong bones and teeth; and folate, vital for many processes, including fetal cell growth and division. (One serving of basil has 20 micrograms of this B vitamin.) Whenever possible, choose fresh basil, because it contains more of these nutrients than dried basil.     

Friday, 13 December 2013

Bok Choy and Stir Fried Noodles

While it is great to have access to a kitchen again, the kitchen here is pretty limited in its equipment - it has one pot with a lid, one pot without a lid, a frying pan and a casserole dish.

Additionally I'm reluctant to fully stock the kitchen with staples and spices as we'll have to move it all again in another six weeks so I've been trying to keep my meals simple and not go crazy on the ingredient buying.

This was supposed to be a Chicken and Bok Choy Stir Fry to use up about a cup of white meat we had left over from a roast chicken, but I completely forgot to put the chicken in.  Oops.  Never mind, it turned out to be just as tasty.

Fertility Focus
Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage) is nutrient dense and a good source of vitamins A, C, K and folate.  It is also a good source of calcium as its oxalic acid is low and the body is able to absorb the calcium more easily.


  • coconut oil
  • onion
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • chilli pepper
  • egg noodle nest (1/2 per person)
  • soy sauce
  • bok choy (1 per person)

Place the egg noodle nest in a bowl and cover with boiling water and a lid (or a plate) to keep the heat in.

Chop the onion into wedges while you melt some coconut oil in a wok (or frying pan if that's all you have).  Add onion to pan with finely chopped garlic, ginger and chilli.  Stir fry until onion is soft.  Wash and slice through the bok choy lengthways so each leaf is at least halved.  Add softened egg noodles and a little of the egg noodle water to the pan along with the bok choy.  Splash in some soy sauce. Saute until the bok choy is wilted and the noodles have separated.  Serve hot.

If I'd remembered the chicken, I would have added it before the onions were completely soft and tried to brown it a little before adding the noodles, water and bok choy.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Clothing alterations...

Super comfortable skirt
Although I was nowhere near large enough to show when we left London, I packed a couple of bits of clothing I could alter in my luggage as I knew I was likely to outgrow my trousers before our goods arrived in January.

I figured I'd rent a sewing machine for a week or something once we arrived in Melbourne.

Alterations complete

In Brisbane I was at a bit of a loose end during the day - our hosts were working/in school and Mr Duncan was also working all day from a little desk in our guest room.  While we were there, another friend gave me a few hand me downs in anticipation of my growing form so I took the opportunity to blow the dust off the eldest daughter's sewing machine (she's at university in Canada) and set to the task of making some maternity alterations.

I altered my cargo pants as previously planned following these extremely easy-to-follow instructions for maternity pants.  The waistband turned out to be fairly loose - still okay as the elastic in the original hem holds them up, and they'll fit perfectly once I start getting bigger and wearing the waistband unfolded, but I decided I needed to use something much tighter for the waistband for my denim skirt conversion.

I had a look around the local charity shops and found the perfect thing for just two dollars which is a lot less than buying the fabric.  It was very tight on me and two-way stretchy, without a seam.  I fell across a pair of commercially made maternity jeans in the same shop which fit me perfectly so I snapped them up for ten dollars as well.  I altered these using the same method.
Before: skirt and way-too-tight tank top

I had some of the tank-top fabric left over, so I doubled it over and used it to make a waistband and turn a comfortable old dress (which had become too frayed and out of shape to wear) into a skirt.

Gather and pin to the new waistband
Floaty skirt with room to grow

Too-big tunic
The last piece I altered was given to me by our friend.  A large tunic-type top in a fabulous blue.  It was just too wide for my frame (and indeed, for my friend's which is why she was passing it along).

Amazing what one piece of elastic can do
My plan was to bring in the neckline while retaining the fullness by using pin tucks per this T-shirt to pin-tuck tunic tutorial but once I had it pinned and tried it on, I realised it would mess up the existing neckline - and I didn't want to cut a new neckline as it was already huge on my shoulders.

Instead I adapted the Deep Vee Nursing Tunic tutorial and simply gave it a princess waistline by using elastic to gather in the fullness.

Ready to grow into

Some of the pics of me in the altered clothing show a bit of a bump (though mostly just bloating at 12 weeks) so I've put them here.

These items will do me for now, indeed I practically live in that denim skirt, but when my sewing machine arrives I have plans for some more alterations to accommodate a larger belly.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


Although technically I have more time on my hands than usual given I'm not working, time has been flying and I just feel tired all the time. I've been trying to figure out why. I don't think its just the pregnancy. Or just the heat (which is lovely).

Moving to a new country, no matter how well you speak the language, is an exercise in non-stop information processing and decision making: Where to go to get or do this? Where is it?  How to get there? How to pay for the transport? How do things work here? All new rules and ways of doing things.

Then there is the food. Where to eat if we're out? Where to buy ingredients if we're cooking at home? I take a while reading food packaging when I shop normally, but in a new place everything is new and each option needs weighing up and deciding upon. Its exhausting.

I've been extremely neglectful of this blog so I'll just summarise the past couple of weeks to get up-to-date.

We enjoyed a couple of weeks staying with friends in Brisbane.  While Mr Duncan was working each day I sorted out flights to Melbourne, somewhere to stay while we look for a rental, health insurance and insurance for Mr Duncan's expensive work computer kit which was a condition of his new employment contract.  We both swam in the pool a lot.

I also borrowed the sewing machine to alter some of my clothes to fit my expanding waistline. I have a draft post on that I'll try to get up this week.

Brisbane was lovely and sunny and we were there just in time to enjoy some amazing tropical storms after they had endured nine months of no rain. Here are a few shots inspired by Marcy who always has such great pics in her posts.
Ben and Jerry's Open Air Cinema on the Southbank.  The bean bags are extremely comfortable.
View of the city from Southbank as the sun starts to go down.
View of the city from Southbank after the movie finished.  
We arrived in Melbourne last Monday.  I accidentally left my glasses case on the plane.  At the 11th hour our serviced apartment was upgraded from a one bed to the originally requested 2 bed with balcony.  It is great.  Spread over two floors it is larger than our home in London.   And about the same price which puts the expensive glorified bedsit we stayed in for three nights before we left into complete shame.  It is big enough for Mr Duncan to have his own work area and we're not in each other's pockets which is good, because he's been pretty tetchy of late.  I put that down to all the uncertainty - he prefers to be settled and surrounded by all his 'stuff'.  

The apartment is located next to a large park and only a ten minute walk from the city.  It has a 'full' kitchen so I'm back to cooking, but with limited equipment and ingredients there is only so much I can do.  We spent the weekend charging around lots of different areas trying to get a sense of where we might like to live.  We have until the end of January to sort it out but the rental market here seems to be quite competitive, so I'm a bit concerned our belongings will arrive and we'll have nowhere to put them.

Just before we left Brisbane I developed eczema on my inner arm for the first time in about ten years.  

I guess I've been eating less well than usual - its tricky when you're eating out or a guest at someone else's table.  It could also be due to moving stress or the increased dairy I've been consuming because of Pickle as both stress and too much dairy are known triggers for me.  I'm making a concerted effort to cut down on both and now that I have a kitchen, return to healthier eating habits. I've also been lavishly applying coconut oil to the eczema. Something is working as I've seen some improvement in the last day or two.

Not much to report, but no news is usually good news.  I registered with a doctor last week.  I kind of expected her to take my blood pressure and weight etc but she just referred me to a hospital and to a radiology clinic to book my 20 week scan.  She told me I should hear back from the hospital with an initial appointment date in a week or so.   

I sorted out medical insurance when we arrived, but there is a 12 month waiting period for maternity related services so I'm with the public system whether I like it or not. Which is actually fine with me.  The Australian health system is of a high standard and must be on a par at least with the NHS in the UK.  I joined the library and got out a book on pregnancy in Australia, so hopefully that will tell me what to expect.

Today I am 15 weeks, which is the time we lost Pipkin.  As far as I can tell everything is okay, though thats how I felt with Pipkin until it wasn't okay any more.  The nausea has abated which is to be expected and I am bigger than I was with Pipkin which is reassuring.  I had to give up on the hairband trick last week, so its just as well I put in the sewing time I did while I was in Brisbane!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...