Sorrow shared...

Friday, September 12, 2014

This post is so far left of centre compared to my usual topics but sorrow shared is sorrow halved right? My heart has felt so very heavy these last few weeks. It seems that every second day has brought sad news as I have found myself sending messages of comfort and condolence more often than not. Almost every few days it seems. And then last Thursday, the weight of sorrow became a little too heavy for this usually hopeful, happy heart of mine... and for the first time in a long time, my spirit, and maybe my heart, feels broken.

If you take away the fact that we were holidaying and honeymooning in an incredible part of the world, last Thursday started like most days. I woke before my alarm (because let's face it, once you have kids you won't be needing one for a long while) and like most mornings, I am the filling in an Allegra and Anya sandwich. Knees in the back, legs streched out horizonatlly across my body. But despite all of the discomfort and despite the fear that us parents encounter at the thought of prematurely waking our little ones, there is no where else I would rather have been. I strategically reached for my phone (yep, I've lost all ability to sleep in these days, even if I am dog tired) and opened up the usuals to catch up on what I'd missed over night. I opened up Facebook and was delighted to see a notification from one of my best friends. She always has something funny to tell me, or some kind of lousy gossip that has us emailing back and forth giggling away like we are still the same naughty girls back in high school. But as my eyes skimmed over her words, my brain could not compute what I was reading. I read it again. And again. And again.

This is the same friend who's comforting voice was the first I heard on the other end of the phone fourteen years ago as I sat in the back seat of the car as my Mum drove us home from the hospital. And I remember it like it was yesterday. All of it. I remember the last few weeks. Because despite being given a 12-18 month diagnosis, that's all it was, a couple of weeks. And I remember those last 48 hours the most... because what I saw and what I felt, that is what nightmares are made of. Whilst I am absolutely grateful to have been there to say a proper goodbye, watching my Dad take his last breath is something that still makes me short of mine when I think about it. And I also remember choking on the words 'he's gone' when I answered my friends call that Thursday afternoon all those years ago. So now, fast forward fourteen years, to read the words that my dear old friend had just suddenly and unexpectedly lost her Mum, well, it flicked a switch. Sandwiched in bed, whilst my three loves slept, I wept. And so did mother nature. It had been a sunshine dream every day since arriving in Mexico but not that Thursday. It rained and it poured well into the night. And the wind and the waves... they were violent and angry and sad. Selfishly, I cried for a good hour before I made my great escape out of bed and called my friend. I needed to find some composure because I'm always the composed one... aren't I? The thing about our friendship is that no matter the distance or time or place, 'we' are always the same. Not many words were needed which I think was a relief, for both of us. After our call I did what makes sense to me. I went to burn off some of the pain and anguish. I adjusted the spin bike in the resort's gym and instead of playing my 'gym' mix I did what many of us crazy woman do in time of crisis, I played my 'depressing sure to make me cry even more' mix. And that's just what I did. I sat amongst a dozen strangers with my head dipped below my cap, my bike spun, and so did my head. And with every push of the pedal I felt my heartstrings pull. And I cried some more.

And tonight, just over a week later as I sit here and type this my friend is saying her final goodbyes to her Mum. I should be there and that breaks my heart a little more. I am so sorry that I am not.

I've felt very fragile this last week and some other news this morning (which hits too close to home to discuss right now) has only added to my fragility. I was just 16 years old when I lost my Dad and despite thinking I was so mature at the time, I was just a girl. Now I am grown, a woman, a wife, a mother, I think my heart is mourning the loss of my father all over again. It hurts just as much as an adult. Somehow, even more. And it is also mourning for those close to me who have lost and will lose. Because to know the pain that they will encounter is sometimes just a little too much.

Tonight whilst the girls were in the bath Allegra turned to me and asked 'You're never going to die, right Mum?!' I looked at her and said hopefully not until I'm really old and really wrinkly and she then replied 'well, it's ok Mum, because I will die too one day and then I will see you in heaven anyway, and Wolfgang too'. Wolfgang is my Dad's name. I'm not overly religious, but I hope she is right about the heaven part.

I'm not sure that this post really has an end point. I think I just needed to spill these words and a few more tears. For me, for my family, for my friend and for her Mum. Because sorrow shared is sorrow halved right? I've been counting my blessings a lot lately and I know I have so much to be grateful for. And it is the love of these blessings that will help heal the little cracks in my heart. So go and hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them. Every single day. Enjoy and live this precious life we have been given because it really is a gift. May your blessings keep your heart full... and in one piece xxx

Baking with Mrs Bouw: Home Made Muesli!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Earlier in the year I had gotten into the habit of making my own muesli, however, with packing up our life in Sydney and then spending two months with family in Melbourne before arriving in the US, let's just say home made muesli was not on the top of my list of priorities! ;) However, now that we are relatively settled here in Chicago, I am turning my focus back to a healthier lifestyle for all of us! The main reason I was keen to go back to home made was due to the breakfast products (and food products in general) in the supermarkets here. Without going by what is written on the side of the box and judging with your taste buds alone, the foods are either ridiculously salty (and that's coming from someone who loves salty foods... shhhh) or beyond sweet or BOTH (if that's even possible)?! And given breakfast is the most important meal of the day and can often set our 'eating' tone for the day, you can't beat home made and healthy! This recipe is, quick, super yum and so adaptable so you can tailor it to your personal taste adding or subtracting ingredients as you please, And the best part is knowing exactly what goes into it! I serve this up each morning with fresh fruit, a couple of tablespoons of greek yoghurt and just a splash of low fat milk for a little extra moisture! Oh and this recipe made two medium sized jars (picture below).

Mrs Bouw's Home Made Muesli


3 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup mixed dried berries (I use dried blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and raisins)
1/2 cup mixed unsalted nuts, chopped (I used all natural almonds, walnuts and cashews) roughly
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
2 tbs milk
2 tbs coconut oil


- Preheat oven to 180°c.

- Line a large baking tray with baking paper and set aside.

- Place oats, coconut, nuts, mixed berries and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.

- In a small saucepan, place honey, milk and coconut oil and stir over low heat until combined. This should only take a minute.

- Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

- Spread mixture evenly onto prepared baking tray and place in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and slightly crisp (you can bake for longer if you like your muesli super crunchy).

- Set aside to cool before transferring to an airtight container or jar.

- Enjoy! :)

Get the look: Leggings, Laces and Lippy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Earlier this year I did a post called 'Bummy Yummy Mummy' and let's just say I've upped the anti! Being a busy Mumma and wife (and currently being without a car) you will find me walking (a lot!) so most days due to comfort and practicality more than anything, I reach for the quickest and easiest option... leggings and sneakers! This is by no means the most glamourous of looks but it doesn't mean you have to leave the house feeling drab and frumpy. Some choose to match their nail polish to their handbag so who's to say we can't do the same with our lippies and sneakers?! ;) A bright lip can go a long way and leave you looking and feeling that little bit happier and more confident. AND it gives the impression that you indeed look 'together' when you may in fact have been scrambling to feed two kiddies, get them cleaned up, dressed and out the door hee hee Lipstick may not solve world peace but it does work a whole lotta magic! Smoke and mirrors my friends :)

As for the shoes, go for bold! Choose something fun and punchy to dress up an otherwise boring pair of black leggings or if you are brave enough to have the leggings be your statement piece, than invest in a neutral shoe, black, white and grey is always a safe bet!
Eastbay has an enormous range to choose from so I always like to browse online and once I have found a shoe I like I search for stockists that are closest to me. Can you tell I gravitate towards pink, green and orange runners?! ;)  photo Slide1_zpsdf59774c.jpg 1. Nike Free 5.0 from Eastbay 2. Free TR Connect 2 (Grey) from Renarts
3. Mizuno Wave Elixir from Finishline
4. Free TR Connect 2 (Pink) from Nordstrom
5. Nike Luna Racer +3 from Eastbay

Below are five of my absolute fave lippies, all by MAC cosmetics! Number 1, 3 & 5 really pack a punch and numbers  2 & 4 are softer and much more subtle...

1. 'Lady Danger' by MAC
2. 'Saint Germaine' by MAC
3. 'Candy Yum Yum' by MAC
4. 'Coral Bliss' by MAC
5. 'Morange' by MAC

And lastly, three examples of amazing leggings. I swear by the black Topshop ones (I have around 6- 8 pairs), I just adore the hydrangea print and most of you have probably already gathered that I love me some animal print :)
1. 'Hydrangea Prana' pants from The Upside
2. 'High waist Extra Long' leggings from Topshop
3. 'Blue Tiger' leggings from Brasilfit

So there you have it, leggings, laces and lippy. Simple, comfy and effortless! xxx

Baking with Mrs Bouw: Frozen Yoghurt Buttons!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ahhh, I'm back! If you've been keeping track of my pics on Instagram you will have seen that we arrived in Chicago late last week and are finally in our apartment! This means one thing... I have a kitchen again, whooo! Given our cupboards are still very bare, it will be another week or so until I have stocked up on all my baking ingredients, so today I am sharing a super easy non-bake recipe! Months ago after sharing a few of Allegra's bento lunches which included yoghurt buttons, I had several people ask me if I had made them. Initially I was like 'Pfft, who do they think I am?!' but then I began seeing a few different recipes floating around the net of a 'frozen' variation (the only downside being that they are not suitable for lunch boxes as they melt like ice-cream) so today Allegra and I decided to give them a go whilst Anya was having her nap. They are super duper easy to make, require just a few ingredients (of which I almost always have in the pantry anyway) and SO much fun for the little ones to get involved! I picked up all the ingredients from my new local Whole Food Market so all of my ingredients (including the food colouring) were natural and organic! Allegra had so much fun mixing the colours into the yoghurt and I think she secretly loved the 'Frozen' element after being obsessed with the movie 'Frozen' for the last few months. As you will see above I served them along with strawberries and blueberries for the girls' dessert tonight and they gobbled up the whole lot and came begging for more... what a delicious, fun and healthy treat! I think these will now be a staple in our freezer :)

Frozen Yoghurt Buttons

Greek yoghurt (if you don't have greek yoghurt any regular yoghurt will do)
Agave nectar (you won't need this is you use regular yoghurt as it will be sweet enough)
Food colouring
Sandwich/snaplock bags (for piping)
Baking paper


- Line a baking tray with baking paper.

- Divide yoghurt evenly between bowls depending on how many colour variations you would like and add a few drops of the agave nectar to sweeten the yoghurt until it is to your tasting.

- Add 2-3 drops of food colouring and stir until combined.

- Snip a small tip off one on the bottom corners of your snap lock bag/s.

-  Turn the bag inside out and place your hand in like a glove and spoon the mixture into your covered hand.

- Flip the bag inside out and squeeze gently to pipe your buttons.

- Place in the freezer for an hour before using.

- Enjoy! :)

Get the look: The Leopard Print Shirt!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

It's no secret that animal print is a staple in my wardrobe and this 'Sage Pink Leopard Print' shirt by Cartel & Willow is a new fave! It is so light and comfy, has the most adorable and flattering tuxedo-style tail at the back AND it features my two favourite colours; pink and yellow! On it's own it appears to be more appropriate for spring/summer, however, with the sleeves rolled completely down teamed with some fur and skinny black jeans it is transformed into a great winter ensemble!

Get the look:

Cartel & Willow Sage Pink Leopard Print shirt here
J Brand black luxe sateen skinny jeans here
Tory Burch 'Reva' clutch here
Tony Bianco black pumps, similar here
Gold origami chain necklace here
Inglot lipstick #132 here
Inglot nail polish #036 here

Baking with Mrs Bouw: Basic Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I have had many questions over the months about how to bake and ice the perfect cupcake so I thought I would share the recipes that I use to make basic, fuss free cupcakes along with my buttercream frosting... yum! This is a great go-to recipe when you need to whip some up quickly as the ingredients involved are generally ones you always have in your pantry and fridge and they are just SO simple to make. Now, as for my secrets, well it's pretty simple... get to know your oven and don't be scared to use your better judgement! Whilst cooking times are essential (especially for those who are new to cooking or baking) I don't always believe in following a recipe and it's cooking time exactly. I have lived in several different homes now and have found that even if each oven was set to the exact same temperature, they don't necessarily cook the same. When baking cakes and cupcakes there is a very fine line between being undercooked and overcooked. For example, this recipe suggest cooking the cupcake for 15 minutes. I would suggest you check them with a skewer from the 13 minute mark. If they still seem really runny in the middle don't be fooled as they turn very quickly. Check them again in another minute or so and you will often find that they are almost done. Another thing you need to remember is that they will continue to cook slightly once you remove them from the oven and often this is where the overcooking occurs, resulting in dry cupcakes! As for piping the icing, I'm planning on sharing a video tutorial once we are settled in our new place in Chicago but if you are desperate for some tips in the mean time I'm sure there are plenty already available on youtube ;)

Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


125g (4 oz) butter, softened
½ cup caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup plain (all purpose) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ cup (2 fl oz) milk
Paper patty cases

Buttercream Frosting

125g butter, lightly softened (I usually take it out of the fridge half an hour before I plan on using it)
2 1/4 cups icing sugar (I always use CSR 'Pure Icing Sugar' as it is for hard setting icing)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence


- Preheat the oven to 180°c.

- Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy.

- Gradually add the eggs and beat well after each addition.

- Add the flour, baking powder and milk and beat well.

- Spoon the mixture into x12 ½ cup capacity muffin tins lined with paper patty cases and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Set aside to cool (I like to cover mine with a clean tea towel to keep them nice and moist).

Buttercream Frosting

- Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for roughly six minutes or until light and creamy.

- Add in icing sugar a half cup at a time and add vanilla half way through (food colouring is optional).

- Beat until well combined at at piping consistency (approximately 5 minutes, you should be able to tell when it's done).

- Ice cupcakes as desired.

- Enjoy! 

Baking with Mrs Bouw- Sugar Cookies!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Oh I wish I had have posted this recipe before Easter (because some mini bunny cookies would have been so adorable!) but better late than never right?! I've been meaning to post this recipe since I first baked these gorgeous, sweet little cookies for Allegra and Anya's Joint Birthday Party back in November last year. They were such a hit (and so easy to make) that I made another batch a few weeks later for Christmas! For my girls' party I wanted to create a cookie that would go with their party theme but something that would not take up too much of my time as there was so much else to do and make. Icing cookies is an art and process within itself (something that I hope to be able to master one day) but with time not really on my side I decided to cheat just a little. I baked and iced the cookies myself (I just used a basic royal icing recipe for the icing) and then outsourced the edible toppers from Custom Icing. Once I had a PDF of the images I wanted to use, it was as simple as placing an order online. The service was super quick (I received in the post within a matter of days) and despite being a little overwhelmed when I first read the step by step instructions, the process of removing the toppers from the edible sheets and placing onto my cookies was super easy! I was so thrilled with how they turned out and had so many people comment on them... a small effort for a 'wow' factor! This recipe really is super easy to follow and will make about 30, 2 1/2 inch cookies or 16, 3 1/2 inch cookies. Perfect for any occasion :)

Sugar Cookies
3 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Baking paper

Line x2 trays with baking paper.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream together until light and creamy.  This should take about 3 minutes.
- Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another minute or so.
- Add the flour mixture one cup at a time (this stops a storm of flour dust!).
- Mix until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a piece of baking paper.
- Using your hands, knead the dough a few times.
- Place the dough in a large plastic (ziplock) bag and refrigerate for about 2 hours.  If you would like to speed up the chilling process, place the bag of dough in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes (just be sure not to forget to take it out).
- A few minutes before you are due to get the dough out of the fridge or freezer, preheat oven to 180°c.
- Once the dough has chilled and feels firm to touch, take out about half, leaving the rest in the refrigerator until your ready to work with it.
- Place dough between two sheets of lightly floured baking paper. This enables you to roll out the dough without having to add too much additional flour. Adding too much flour can cause the dough to be become a little tough and can also result in pockets of flour which may result in bumpy cookies.
- Roll out the dough to about 1/4 of an inch thick
- Cut the dough with your choice of cookie cutters (I usually use a small circle cutter as it makes gorgeous little bite-sized cookies). Try to make the best use of the dough you’ve rolled out.  Every time you have to re-roll the dough you will need to add a bit more flour resulting in the bumps I mentioned above. 

- Carefully place cookies onto prepared baking sheets. To avoid unevenly baked cookies, be sure to only put cookies of similar size on each baking sheet.  
- Place the entire baking sheet (with cookies on it) in the freezer or refrigerator for about 3-5 minutes.  Chilling the cookies will help ensure they keep their shape while baking. This is one of the best tips I was ever given!
Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.  Bake until they are just barely beginning to take on a golden tone.  They will continue to bake as long as they are on the baking tray, so don’t let them get too brown.  Cool for just a minute or so on the tray and then carefully remove cookies from the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack.
- Once cooled, the cookies can be decorated with either frosting, royal icing or rolled fondant. 

- Enjoy! :)


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