Archive for the ‘Random Serene Thoughts’ Category

Well, what an amazing few years! It’s been ages since I have blogged. 15 months and I have begun working part-time, I am a full-time mum and I am a qualified editor and proofreader… one step closer to my dream of being an author!!!

Well, just a quick note today to announce the launch of my new business…


I will update the link to the website when it is fully functional, but until then, if you, or anyone you know, needs the services of a qualified and professional editor, then drop me a line at melanie.dooner@gmail.com

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I have the monkey off my back… for now anyway!

One of my fears as I finished up my Long Service Leave, was that I would simply go back to my old habits. It still concerns me a fair bit, but I have to say, this past week and in particular yesterday morning, has given me a bit more confidence.

Overall it was a solid first week… very productive! I feel as if I am back into the swing of things, if not completely on top of everything on the agenda at the moment. I got to the end of the week fairly unscathed and having really enjoyed catching up with my young charges and colleagues once again!

The highlight of my week has, by far, been the anticipation and then the meeting of the blogging group of which I am a part. Thanks to Judi… a seasoned gatherer of people, we met and talked about all things blogging – where we are up to, any concerns or questions we have, feedback to each other and a sharing of what we are each enjoying the most about the process. By the sounds of the interest in the group who met, coffee every couple of months may become a regular occurrence!

I really enjoyed catching up with where those who could make it are up to…

“Threads in the Needle”… completed the much-anticipated quilt… photos will be posted shortly.

“Social Graces”… inspiring a number of us to read, think and share concerns.

“Early Retirees”… celebrating retirement in style while prompting people to consider things that really matter.

“Beach Blogger”… inspiring people to set goals and stick to them – no matter how cold it gets!

Leslie David… loving his relatively new-found hobby and the medium for sharing his experiences.

William Kostakis… enjoying promoting his novel Loathing Lola. Thanks for bringing some copies along, I’m looking forward to having a read and very pleased I have a signed copy that shares our “in-joke.”

Eric Stanley… his “Be Happy Be Rich” blog has now been created and he’s preparing for his book launch on Wednesday 23rd June at Berkelouw’s Bookstore, Leichhardt. All are welcome!

Helen McNab… using her newfound freedom to write her book and develop her blog.

Thanks to a suggestion by Helen, I’d like to open up this post to anyone who came to the gathering or to anyone who couldn’t make it, but who would like to have, join in a post-coffee discussion about the most important things we have learnt about blogging to date.

I’ll kick off with one of my ideas, but am looking forward to us creating a list of ideas from this now quite skilled group of bloggers… Thanks to William and a lot of hard work on our part!!!


  • I created a twitter account called “LouiseSerenity” connected to this blog, then “followed” the NSW Writer’s Centre… about a month later they started following me! (Needless to say, their tweets will be more useful to me than mine to them 🙂 )

Click on “Add a Comment” if you would like to add to this discussion…

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Scars remind us where we’ve been. They don’t have to dictate where we’re going.

David Rossi’s Character

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I can hear my fridge humming!

No, I’m not going mad. I am nearing the end of my time of Long Service Leave and I’m marvelling at the slower pace my life has settled into. I have moved so slow and experienced so much peace and quiet that I can literally hear my fridge hum almost all the time… and it ISN’T annoying me!

I’m really happy with what I have and haven’t done.  Somehow I feel that, despite doing not much at all during the past seven weeks, I have achieved more than I could have possibly hoped! I am not one to sit around watching TV too often, although I’m addicted to my Thursday night ritual of Masterchef, Glee, Law and Order: SVU followed lastly by Medium, and maybe the odd Midday movie on Channel Seven! In “taking stock” of what I have done, it would look something like this…

  • I completed a couple of writing courses (the meditation and writing course is tomorrow).
  • I developed my personal blog and started a work-based blog.
  • Did a complete makeover on my garden with my mum.
  • Had a massage from Sr Tess at the Bethany Healing Centre… always a wonderfully unique experience that I will no doubt share with you in a later post.
  • Cooked a number of mains and desserts, including a Oreo Cheesecake which used 450g of Oreo biscuits… yuuuuummmmm!
  • Caught up with many friends, some of which I haven’t seen for many years… and cooked some more.
  • Went to the Easter Show for the first time at Homebush.
  • Walked with my mum on many days in my favourite park.
  • Read Leo Babauta’s ‘The Power of Less’ and started my first habit!
  • Started Covey’s ‘Seven Habits’ Book.
  • Went away down south for a week.
  • Watched a sunset.
  • Did heaps of wedding planning and spent quality time with my man.
  • Gurneyed a fifth of my backyard… don’t ask!
  • Got my bathroom partially renovated.
  • and how could I forget… waking up at 2am to make a cup of tea for Michael because I dreamt he had asked for one. Man was I mad when I realised I was sleep walking!

This list is pretty amazing to look back at… I can say in all honesty that I have no regrets… there is nothing I would have liked to do and didn’t, and I did nothing that I thought was a waste of time!

In summary… time well spent!!!

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Great conversation, lamb cutlets and berries drizzled with white chocolate… what more could a girl ask for?

While I enjoy baking biscuits and desserts, I don’t really consider myself much of a main meal cook. Saturday night, much to my delight, was an exception. Two fellow teacher-friends came over for a catch-up and I spent the afternoon preparing ingredients for the meal so that I could cook it when they arrived. I don’t think I will ever be a Masterchef Australia contender, so my main reason for blogging about this meal is that the girls  wanted the recipe. Be aware that it was more appealing to eat than the photo suggests!

So here goes… after a “healthy” snack of red seedless grapes and crackers with spinach dip we ate our main meal of Rosemary Lamb Cutlets with chorizo and tomato couscous.

Lamb Cutlets with Rosemary

(courtesy of Donna Hay’s 10-minute meals, p60 – which NEVER take me 10 minutes! I altered this recipe slightly to feed 3, not 2 people)

  • 1 Tbs chopped rosemary leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • [4 anchovy fillets, chopped… which I left out]
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 9 lamb cutlets(far too many for us)

Preheat a barbeque or char-grill (I used my George Foreman) to medium-high. Combine the rosemary, garlic, anchovies, vinegar, sugar, oil and pepper and brush over the lamb. Cook for 2-3 minutes each side or until cooked to your liking (altered to accommodate the George Foreman).

Chorizo and Tomato cous cous

(Serves 4. Unsure where I found this recipe – Coles magazine I think! Prep 10 min, Cook 15 min)

  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 2 chorizo sausages, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs Moroccan seasoning mix (I added a little extra for a stronger flavour)
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock (I used extra because I like my cous cous more moist than dry)
  • 250g Frozen Broccoli florets
  • 1 ½ cups cous cous
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley

Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium. Cook chorizo for 1-2 min each side, until golden. Remove from pan (rest on paper towels to drain oil – my addition). Cook onion in same pan for 3-5 mins, until soft. Add seasoning mix and stir until fragrant. Add tomatoes, stock and broccoli. Bring to boil and sprinkle over couscous. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 5 mins, until liquid has been mostly absorbed. Stir through parsley and chorizo using a fork.

This meal was really nice. My advice? Three lamb cutlets with the cous cous was too large a meal for the three of us girls – two cutlets would have been plenty.

Dessert… Berries with white chocolate sauce

(Serves 3. Again, unsure where I heard about this)

  • 175g quality white chocolate
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (I used essence)
  • 30mL fresh cream
  • 250g unthawed mixed berries (I also added some chopped fresh strawberries)

Melt the chocolate, vanilla and cream in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering hot water. When melted, stir to combine. Put berries in three glasses or bowls and drizzle the sauce over the top. Serve with a biscuit such as biscotti (I had baked some chocolate-studded honey biscuits earlier from Donna Hay’s Chocolate Simple Essentials recipe book.

I can assure you, the ladies left well-fed and satisfied.

A lovely, relaxed evening.

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I am a 32-year-old fossil!

Despite my lifelong interest in Murder She Wrote, Inspector Gadget and Get Smart and as exciting as it would be… I’m NOT a spy, I don’t work for Customs, I don’t have access to intelligence that could threaten Australia’s security if revealed, and my Cluedo skills are disappointing. So why online anonymity and privacy?

I have always had a “thing” about giving people too much information. Like revealing information about myself somehow limits my freedom. (Yes, crazy)

I reached a milestone today… I realised that you’re meant to register and show your face on Facebook so that others can find you!  This “ah ha experience” took a lot of work. In a society where anonymity is a foreign concept and freedom of information is a given… I felt like a fossil trapped in a 32 year old’s body, mostly brought on by the challenge put forward in my ‘Blogging for Beginners’ course to get out there and promote our opinions, ideas and writing.

I created a Facebook account last year (feeling very modern and up-to-date), only to realise that the very concept freaked me out. So to fix this, today I decided to upload a photo of myself, not my best angle… my face is a little chubby and I look so rugged up that snowdrifts would suit the background… the waterfall is worth looking at though.

From the simple action of uploading a photo there was no stopping me. So I did the unbelievable… I told the world (well the 22 friends I have given permission via my incredibly high privacy settings) that I like to bushwalk, I got engaged last year, my favourite TV show is NCIS and that my hero of all time is Jim Henson. Gasp!

Did my world fall in? No! Did a flood of undesirable people come hounding me for my personal details? No! Did I receive advertisements targeted at my updated profile? Yes! Like I needed any more Wedding Advertisements in my life.

I DID however get back in touch with a number of Primary School friends, a few I haven’t seen or spoken to for over 20 years. I also learnt how to connect to groups and even decided to go the whole hog and sign up for Twitter.

Today, Facebook… tomorrow, ASIO Agent #378!

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So, my site stats resemble something like the dip in an exponential graph… Why you might ask? Most likely because I have stopped visiting my site every 10 minutes! (see ‘Blogging Buzz’).

Take this post for example, in my wish to blog at a more steady pace, I have opted to blog about nothing in particular at 11.00pm at night!

Today was a constant stream of housework… Typically, when I am working, I rarely do housework in the traditional sense, so it’s a little novel to actually do a series of things that resemble cleaning, in one day! My usual routine is wiping down benches when I spill something (which is quite frequent thankfully) and vacuuming when I can no longer walk barefoot and feel the plush carpet between my toes… when I can feel other “bits” I know it’s time to vacuum! I like to think of myself as a sensual person and apply this to my cleaning methods.

I enjoy the free and light feeling I get after having sorted through everything I own and categorising it into the “I-need-this-to-live” pile and the “I-want-this, but-it’s-unecessary-clutter-complicating-my-existence” pile.

Now, what to do with the piles of unnecessary clutter?… This time, in addition to the usual bags of old clothes and shoes, I have discarded two particular items of interest. First is the third of the four mops I own (see Sydney Royal Easter Show post). It lay discarded, unloved and rejected, a reminder that purchasing a mop in my household should never be a decision made lightly or carelessly. The second item is a pair a green marbled stallions rearing up on their hind legs. They’re bookends I was given as a gift many years ago by an old boyfriend. Whether the horses were of any significance to him, me or us, I have long since forgotten. They do, however, serve as a reminder that, at least for me, serenity comes from remembering the past and then letting go of old things to make room for the new. Hmm… I think I read that in a quote once.

Have a happy, uncluttered day.

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I can’t help myself! I keep revisiting my blog to see if it’s changed… I suspect checking every ten minutes is a BIT unrealistic 🙂

I’m still buzzing since starting ‘Blogging for Beginners’ on Saturday. I will admit that secretly, I thought spending three hours at an inspirational place such as the NSW Writer’s Centre and doing a course about blogging would miraculously turn me into a writing/technological guru (the venue and course sounds a little trendy in the circles I move in).

Well it’s been two days and I am loving the concept of finally writing, if not on my novel, at least on my blog. I was really inspired to see that blogs and putting an opinion ‘out there’ can have the power to change things (hopefully) for the better (Thanks William!). Still wondering if it will work with our politicians!

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Welcome to ‘Ahh… Serenity,’ a blog about all things that create peace and serenity in my life. Enjoy your time here!

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