Welcome to my Blog!

Hello and Welcome to My Blog!Hi and thanks for stopping by. My name is Inara Hawley and this is a personal space where I will be sharing thoughts and reflections about what interests me, what inspires me, what’s happening in my life and what makes my heart sing.

So why have I started this blog now? In the last few years I’ve done a lot of writing ~ family history and memoir projects which have been all-consuming, and now that they’re finished, I miss it. So, in my desire to keep writing I felt this was a good place to start.

Now while I have a million thoughts and ideas running around in my brain each day I am a bottom-line kind of person, so it will be most interesting to see how well I can organise those thoughts and create words which constitute my bottom lines. I am looking forward to the challenge.

In a nutshell I will be keeping it simple and straightforward ~ I won’t be spending time wrestling anything to the ground. In my years of journaling I experienced many a profound moment, moved through fears and came to a place where I relinquished the need to be attached to the past ~ I much prefer to appreciate what I’ve learned and focus on feeling good in the present.

I wear my Positive Pollyanna Hat most of the time, I live in gratitude and try to find joy in every moment, and I believe there’s a positive lesson in everything … and every word I write will come from my heart. If my way of living and learning resonates with you ~ please stay awhile and in-joy.

Cheers
Inara Hawley ♥

The Lightness of Laughter

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I had the funniest conversation with my 94-year-old mother today. She loves paperwork of all kinds, and not only scrutinises all the grocery receipts my brother brings home, but keeps them!

I pay all her bills via the internet. She calls me her ‘secretary’, but she keeps a tight control on the paperwork. However, with her memory and eyesight, it’s getting harder and harder for her to find where the payment information lives on the different accounts.

We do our ‘business’, as she calls it, over the telephone, and while I do my best to steer her in the right direction, it’s not that easy for me to help her. I just have to be patient until she finds what she’s looking for, but today, it wasn’t so easy and we both cracked up.

It was hilarious, but somehow, amongst all the laughter we worked it out.

It’s a wonderful thing isn’t it, when we choose to handle our circumstances with the lightness of laughter.

Inara Hawley © 2018

 

Let Empathy Lead You

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These past few weeks have been the first time in almost two and half years that I’ve felt relaxed enough to take a moment to sit, read and enjoy it. No matter how often people tell you to take some time for yourself, meditate, or do something to take your mind off it, if you have an unwell partner for an extended length of time, it’s almost impossible to shift the load. It’s like you are holding your breath.

I don’t like to call it a load but that’s exactly what it is.

When it comes to caring for our loved ones we don’t consider it a burden, but it’s something extra to carry. It may manifest as stress, worry, concern, anxiety, fear or even sadness and grief.

After Hubby’s mini stroke in March 2016 life changed. There were lots of wobbles and much monitoring and doctor care. With a strict regime in place we got on with it. But it was constant. There wasn’t a minute when I wasn’t on guard. And that takes a toll. While we hang in there, something always suffers. I may be a positive pixie, but my body didn’t get the message. My hair started falling out.

Then…

On the 1st May this year it became very dramatic. An ambulance transported Hubby to hospital again. I was in shock because this time he couldn’t move, and we had no idea why. It took three weeks and a myriad of tests to find out, but in the meantime, we were in no man’s land. I did what it took to get through it and even made the following video, but the truth was, I felt lost and very much alone. During the first week that Hubby was in the hospital, I didn’t see a single soul. The month of May turned into an emotional blur. I had nothing to hang onto. While Hubby was learning to walk again, I was falling to pieces. I couldn’t sleep, I lost more hair, and because I was exhausted, I got sick.

But this blog post is not about advice.

There are no magic words of wisdom that can help one deal with a shock or how to carry a heavy emotional load. This blog post is about what I discovered. And that is, that I desperately needed was someone’s comforting arms. Like the ones my mother gave me so many years ago in a similar situation. I wanted someone to put their arms around me and let me weep.

My social media friends were wonderful. My appreciation and gratitude overflowed for the love and support I received, but as wonderful as it was, an empathetic hug is what I needed.

Today I feel a lot better and I am grateful that Hubby is on the road to wellness. So why would I bother writing about it? I’m writing about it because it’s important. When we see someone going through difficult times, don’t be afraid to reach out with empathy.

But, here’s the thing about empathy…

If someone had asked me face to face, ‘Are you alright?’, it would have all spilled out and I would have received my empathetic hug. But instead, everyone said exactly what I usually say in the same situation. Things like, ‘take care’, ‘look after yourself’ and ‘I’m sending love and thinking of you’. All the things we say from our hearts because we care. But now, having walked in the shoes of someone who feels totally adrift at sea, I understand it a lot better.

It’s hard to ask for help…

And sometimes, it’s even harder to express exactly what we need. We all try to hold ourselves together, but no matter how strong we are, sometimes we shatter. Those are the times when an ear and comforting arms are exactly what we need.

For those who feel lost, don’t be afraid…
Trust someone enough to tell them. It’s OK to be vulnerable.
For those who notice it, don’t be afraid…
Reach out with open arms. Let empathy lead you.

Inara Hawley © 2018

A Story About Love

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Sunday MusingsThis is a story about love.

Three years ago, these two, Hubby and my mother were having a fun moment. All was well with the world. Recently, however, Hubby has been very ill and during that time, my mother who is now so frail she can barely walk, did her special thing – her ‘healing with the heart’ love thing, which reminded of a time 42 years ago.

Not long after we were married, Hubby was admitted rather dramatically to hospital with a suspected heart attack. After four days in cardiac intensive care it was discovered he required gall bladder surgery, but the night he was admitted, I was lost and needed my mother.

She was at a formal Latvian ball. I found the telephone number of the venue caretaker, a family friend, rang and asked him to find my mother amongst the crowd, and he did. Within half an hour, in all her finery, she stepped out of a taxi and I was wrapped in the loving arms of the one person I knew I could trust.

That night I was terrified and asked her, ‘Mum, is he going to die?’ She held me close, and with complete certainty, promised me that he would not. And I believed her.

We talked about that moment today, and she said that she truly believed she could save him with the power of love. And that’s how she still feels today. She gives that same love in this very moment to me, to my husband and to all our family. It is a mother’s love.

She is an Angel in our midst. I am so grateful that at 94 her heart is still so giving and that I have the blessing of hearing her loving words every day.

What a gift.

Inara Hawley © 2018

Spinach Triangles

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Greece would have to be one of my favourite countries. I have wonderful memories of the Greek Islands and the food. Greek yoghurt and honey for breakfast, dolmades and stuffed peppers for lunch and spanakopita (spinach pie) for dinner. I remember it all, and it was wonderful, but apart from stuffed peppers I’ve never made Greek food.

So, fast forward to last weekend. I was expecting guests and had a hankering for spanakopita. So as you do, I visited YouTube for the visual delight of seeing it made. I was impressed. I quickly scribbled out the recipe and went shopping. I was so impressed in fact, that I decided to make two – one for my guests and one for the freezer.

I spent half a day chopping and crumbling – there was a mountain of baby spinach to destalk and chop, and another mountain of feta to crumble. I followed the recipe to the letter, and when it came out of the oven, it looked fabulous! It even looked fabulous on the plate… that was until we tasted it. My guests were very polite and ate it, but for me, it was so overpoweringly salty, I couldn’t stomach it. So sadly, what was left went in the bin as did the spanakopita that was in the freezer.

Not to be beaten though, I decided to make spinach triangles with the remaining ingredients. I did a little research and came up with my own low-salt recipe, and the result was perfect. Exactly as I imaged the spinach pie should taste. So here’s my recipe…

Spinach Triangles

Ingredients: Makes 27 triangles

  • 1 packet of filo pastry
  • 250 g baby spinach
  • 10-12 baby spring onions
  • 250 g soft creamy ricotta
  • 50-75 g of full fat feta
  • Milk to soak the feta
  • ½ cup grated cheddar or tasty cheese
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • Melted butter or olive oil to brush filo
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Preheat the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius
  • Place the feta in a bowl of milk and allow to soak for half to one hour. This is to reduce the salt. If you like it salty, then miss this step
  • Finely slice the baby spring onions
  • Destalk the baby spinach and finely chop
  • Add the spinach, spring onions, ricotta and grated cheese to a large bowl and crumble in the feta, then mix well with your hands
  • Taste and season for salt and pepper, then mix through the lightly beaten eggs
  • Place two sheets of filo onto the bench, brush lightly with olive oil or melted butter and cut into three lengthwise strips
  • Place a spoonful of the mixture onto a corner of the filo strip making a triangle and keep folding over to the end of the strip. Repeat until all the filo used.
  • Brush the triangles with olive oil or melted butter and place on a tray covered with sprayed baking paper
  • Bake for 25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius

Enjoy and happy cooking!
Inara

Inara Hawley © 2018

Cauliflower Pizza Base

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I’ve been wanting to try a cauliflower pizza base for ages, and as I had a big bowl of riced cauliflower and broccoli sitting in the back of the fridge that needed using up, the time had come. And surprise of all surprises, it worked perfectly! Why do I say that? Because I’ve heard of some monumental disasters.

So, I watched with some trepidation as it cooked in the oven, browning nicely. Then it was time to flip it. Would it work? It certainly did! I was amazed. And when out of the oven sitting there in all its topped glory, would it cut without crumbling? Well, it sliced beautifully, and we could even pick it up like a regular slice of pizza. To say I was impressed is an understatement. And of course, those of you who are wheat intolerant like me or into a Keto-based diet, it’s the perfect alternative. So here it is, and as you will see, there is a trick to it.

Cauliflower Pizza Base

Ingredients:  Makes one medium sized pizza base

  • 1 large egg
  • 5-6 cups cauliflower rice (I included broccoli rice)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried herbs of your choice
  • 1/3 cup soft goats cheese or 1/2 cup grated mozzarella/parmesan/vegan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Topping: Toppings of choice plus cheese of your choice

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 220 C/450 F.
  • To rice the cauliflower, place washed florets into a food processor and blend until you’ve reached the required consistency.
  • Next, the cauliflower rice needs to be cooked for a short time to bring out the moisture. You can do it several different ways. Either on baking paper in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes, cooked for about 5 minutes in a covered pot filled with about an inch/3 cm of boiling water and drained, or heated in a large oil-sprayed pan on the stove, stirring occasionally to avoid burning (my choice).
  • When done, place a thin towel on a large plate or in a large bowl and spread the cauliflower out on top to let it cool.
  • Now this is the trick, but don’t do it while the cauliflower is hot. When cool to the touch, pull the ends of the towel together and twist the cauliflower into a tight ball, and then with all your might, keep tightening to squeeze out ALL the liquid. This takes quite a bit of strength and was too much for me, so I used a spatula – I squashed the liquid out of the ball onto the plate and drained it off. It was easier and worked well.
  • Next, in a large bowl whisk together the egg, dried herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Then add the cheese and cauliflower ball and mix well with a fork.
  • Place mixture on an oven tray covered with oil-sprayed baking paper, flatten and make it into the shape you want. The thickness should be 1/2 to 3/4 cm or 1/4 inch. Don’t make it too thin or you won’t be able to flip it.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes at 220 C/450 F until it’s nicely browned, then take it out of the oven, flip carefully with two spatulas and bake for another 2-3 minutes.
  • When it’s ready, add your toppings plus cheese and bake until the cheese is just how you want it. If you like it bubbly and you’re worried about the pizza edges burning, put it under a hot grill for a minute.
  • When done, carefully slide it onto a plate and slice.
  • NOTE: It’s fine to add a thin layer of tomato-based sauce before you add your toppings once the base is fully cooked – it won’t soften or cause the base to crumble.
  • NOTE: I haven’t done it, but apparently the base can be frozen.

So, there you have it – the all vegetarian pizza with a dash of cheese.

Happy cooking and enjoy!
Inara

Inara Hawley © 2018

Green Tomato Jam

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What’s a girl going to do with the last of the tomato crop after she’s already made enough tomato relish to last six months? Green tomato jam of course. I’ve never made it before, but as I discovered, it’s very easy and it’s also very delicious.

Green Tomato Jam

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of small green tomatoes
  • 750 grams of white sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons

Method:

  • Wash and cut the tomatoes into quarters – no need to peel
  • Place into a large bowl and add the sugar and lemon juice – mix well
  • Cover and set aside overnight
  • Next day transfer the contents and all the liquid into a large pot
  • Bring to boil and simmer for half an hour as it thickens stirring frequently
  • Allow to cool and transfer to sterilised jars or containers and freeze

Enjoy and happy cooking! 

Inara Hawley © 2018

Rich Tangy Tomato Relish

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Looking for a rich, tangy tomato relish? Well, this is it.

I never bothered making my own relish until Hubby needed to go on a low-sodium diet. I was stunned at how much salt there was in tomato sauce, which he loved, so started looking around for alternatives. The local cafe sold a nice enough relish without any salt, but when I looked at the ingredients, I thought…. hmm… I could make this. So, I found a recipe with the same ingredients and I made it. And it was OK – a sweet, tangy relish but a bit on the thin side.

Then… we grew our own tomatoes and what a difference. We had a bumper crop, but they were the small variety. The recipe calls for 4 kilograms and they need to be peeled, so I’d always bought large tomatoes, peeled and chopped them, and into the pot they went with all the other ingredients. But as these were small I couldn’t face all the peeling, so decided to roast them and squeeze out the flesh. Well, we all know how roasting intensifies flavour, but this was unbelievable. For a start, our tomatoes tasted a 100% better than what I bought at the greengrocer, and secondly, the roasted flavour was out of this world. So, here is my recipe.

Rich Tangy Tomato Relish

 Ingredients:

  • 4 kgs ripe tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 kgs white onion
  •  1 1/3 kgs sugar
  • 3 tbs curry powder
  • 4 1/2 tbs mustard powder
  • 1 2/3 litres white vinegar
  • 1 tbs cornflour
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Roast tomatoes until soft, squeeze the flesh into a bowl and discard skin
  • Place the tomato pan juices into a saucepan, bring to boil and allow to thicken
  • Peel and finely chop the onions, place in a large pot and cover with the vinegar
  • Add the sugar and boil rapidly for five minutes
  • Add the tomato flesh and turn the heat down to a simmer
  • Combine the spices and stir into the relish mixture
  • Simmer gently uncovered for one hour, removing scum and stirring frequently to prevent burning
  • Add salt and pepper to taste at any time during the cooking process
  • When the tomato pan juices have cooked down add them to the mixture
  • After one hour the relish should have thickened, look rich and taste tangy
  • For the final thickening mix the cornflour with a little water to make a paste
  • Add a little hot liquid to the paste, mix well and stir into the relish
  • Add the paste to the relish and cook for 5 minutes stirring continuously
  • Either bottle into sterilised jars or place into containers and freeze

Enjoy and happy cooking! 

Inara Hawley © 2018