Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015 badgeAustralian Women Writers Challenge: Book #4

Title: Leopard Dreaming (Mira Chambers #3)

Author: A.A. Bell

Publisher and Year: Harper Voyager, 2012

Genre: Urban Fantasy

 

 

 

Blurb from Goodreads: 

Mira Chambers has an infallible talent for solving mysteries … but using it always gets her into worse trouble.

Having spent half her life in asylums, Mira discovers a sense of self-worth, finally, in helping victims of crime. When the matron who helped Mira to regain her independence is abducted, she attempts to save her with the help of ex-army lieutenant, Adam Lockman. But Freddie Leopard, a dangerous sociopath, tries to destroy Lockman′s reputation… and Mira.

Cut off and alone for the first time in her life, Mira is swept into a world of international conspiracies and betrayals, where her dream of achieving a normal life is constantly thwarted by the far darker desires of her enemies.

Layers of secrets unravel as her world falls apart – until the ultimate sacrifice presents a chance to save her friend and revisit her lost love in the ′echoes of yesterday.′

Leopard Dreaming - coverMy Review:

What a stunning conclusion to this wonderful trilogy by A.A.Bell. I’ve loved reading Mira’s story and seeing how things turn out – there’s so many ways in which this story twisted about and I didn’t predict most of what ended up occurring. I loved the way Ben grew as a character although I think overall he’s a bit too much of a goodie-goodie. I *loved* Gabby, loved the way Mira was supported by people in the end and not just her own determination to stand up to/for things. Also interesting the way the conclusion plays out! I really hope it works out for her – and surely that’s a sign of a good ending where it seems like just as much a new beginning?

Back in February I revealed that my theme for 2015 was Becoming. It was a thoughtful post – one I spent a week or two thinking on before writing because it was all about being in-between, in the middle, in process, a work in progress… how do you look at that? How do you embrace that? What does it look like if you’re setting up a year long enquiry on that?.

Reflecting on where I am at  half way through the year (just over), things are pretty well aligned with the goals I set out as part of my original post on Becoming. However, the year has been anything but smooth sailing – it’s been more like climbing a cliff with my bare hands, without a safety net. The year has been raw and intense, brutal in places. It’s also been wonderful in places too… but I’ve had to deliberately focus on that at times because it’s seemed a bit sparse.

So where am I at with my list?

Reading

Currently I’m at 29/75 books for my Goodreads Reading Challenge, 11 books behind schedule. I anticipate being able to catch up given that next semester’s schedule is much lighter given that I’m going to a half study load. Looking at the books I’ve read so far, nothing meets my goals for reading more diversely yet, so I need to make a plan around that because it’s an important part of my reading goals for this year. I’ve posted twice with regard to my academic reading, one on administration of blood products and one for assignment reading. So far I’ve done very little that’s been over and above what’s required by my units, but wow has it been an intense semester so I’m okay with this. I’ve read and reviewed one book for the Escape Club YA Bookclub, ‘Pawn’ by Aimee Carter.  I’ve also read 3/6 books I plan to for the Australian Women Writers Challenge, and I’ve written up reviews for all of them: Tara Sharp Series by Marianne Delacourt.

So far, so good as far as reading goes. Still a ways to go, particularly for some of the more important intentional goals.

 

Midwifery

I had a setback in that I wasn’t able to pass my prac this semester – which means I have to redo it next year, and that will extend my studies by a year. That’s the downside (and all the mess surrounding it). The upside is, a less intense schedule, the ability to study half time and concentrate on those units I am doing, which might also afford me the opportunity to actually do some paid work, which would make a huge difference to our tiny budget. I can say that I have done my very best at every moment. I’ve dedicated myself to connection, to woman-centred care and evaluating the evidence for practice, and I feel like even in just six months, I’ve come a long way. We’ve started looking at more complex pregnancy and birth, at ethical practice and what’s involved in that, there’s a lot to consider here. I’m still enjoying learning so much about the anatomy and physiology of humans, particularly around pregnancy, labour, birth and the postnatal period. There’s so many interesting changes that go on! I am still dedicated to doing this job I’m training for, I want to be the best midwife I can be.

 

Cooking

Well! Cooking has continued and I’m still enjoying it a lot. Some days I will admit it’s a little like a chore and I struggle a bit more – but I’ve also tried to put in place things that combat that and make it easier. I’m still doing lots of easy weeknight type meals, this year has been so full on that I haven’t had much energy for more in depth special occasion cooking. Also, that tends to be beyond the budget more often than not. I still want to go through some of my cookbooks and do some concentrated cooking from them, but I’ve not really managed that yet.

One of my big wins has been doing more meal planning for a fortnight at a time – it’s been fun to plan out what I’d like to cook and some of the best results are in the savings on groceries which is fantastic! Also, it’s nice knowing I’ve already done a lot of the deciding and I just have to pick something from the list based on the stuff we have in the fridge/cupboard. I’ve blogged about the two proper meal plans I’ve done so far if you’re interested, one for a fortnight in May, one for this fortnight in July.

However, as far as achievements go, I have managed to get into the habit of regularly photographing my food I’ve cooked! My friend Pia is responsible for this as she sold me on Instagram (same username as usual) which I’d been avoiding. I love it! It’s so easy and I am loving it as a low key, low effort/engagement social network. Also it connects to all the other things and I love the easy sharing options.

I’m still making my own stock, due to make a batch of both chicken and beef stock – but the last time I made it was in January some time I think? Maybe December… So it’s lasted wonderfully! I’ve recently visited my friend Skud and been inspired by her home cooking and preserving endeavours, so I am hoping to try and gradually increase the amount of stuff I do in that area mindfully. Even if I only add one preserving effort this year, I’ll be happy – hopefully preserved lemons as they seem easy to do. As we speak I’m working on fermenting my own starter, and today I made bread again for the first time this year – a yeast bread because of the lack of sourdough starter, but it worked beautifully.

Some pictures of recent food I’ve cooked:

Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies

Alice Medrich’s Best Cocoa Brownies

Curried Satay Chicken with Noodle Medley

Curried Satay Chicken with Noodle Medley

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani

Kasundi and Coriander Egg Scramble

Kasundi and Coriander Egg Scramble

Balsamic Glazed Lamb Shanks with Julia Childs' Garlic Mash

Balsamic Glazed Lamb Shanks with Julia Childs’ Garlic Mash

Quick Yeast Bread

Quick Yeast Bread

Shakshuka on CousCous

Shakshuka on CousCous

Blogging

I’m still doing my ‘5 things about today’ posts, nearly 300! So close to doing a whole year of posts! I’ve managed to post a bit more regularly here, but not as much as I would have liked, I’d still like to do that more, but I’m not sure what that looks like. Work in progress and I’m happy with it.

The only thing that’s a bit up in the air is blogging about midwifery stuff, it’s been impressed upon us that we shouldn’t be talking about stuff generally speaking – the thought is that it’s too easy to say too much somehow. The problem is that… I don’t think secrecy about our profession does any good as far as community level health promotion goes and advocating for better practices and systems of support and care for people. How does that happen if no one knows what’s really going on, what’s there to be discussed, agreed and disagreed with? In any case, I’m feeling a bit concerned about discussing stuff critically so I’m not likely to do it for the moment.

 

Self Development

License… it’s still something I have to do. The year has been so intense, there’s been so much that has happened and it’s been one thing after another. I will get this done. Urgh.

Job stuff is looking more positive though, especially given I’ll be studying half time from now on. I interviewed for a potential job a couple of weeks and I should hear soon if there’s work for me – I liked the organisation and it’s in the line of work I used to do so there’s potential for a decent income even at part time hours. Plus, getting to feel useful and like I’m contributing financially – a win for mental health and for our budget.

As far as being ‘me’ goes, I feel like this year hasn’t left me much room to do much more than… react I guess. I’ve been myself but it’s been a me largely under stress, or recovering or staving off crisis. Honestly it’s sucked even if I’ve managed to come through it intact so far.

I will say that one of the best things this year about being myself and getting to really feel at home in that was getting to go to Continuum 11. That was possible because of a dear friend of mine and words fail to express my gratitude. I got to see so many people I’ve missed so much! Spending time and soaking up amazing women being awesome at their stuff. Listening to them speak and admiring them, it was awesome. I played games, had conversations, got hugs, shared time and felt at home. For the first time I felt like Continuum was *my* convention – that’s been Swancon for so long and I’ve missed it so much. It’s welcome to me that the convention in my state now feels like ‘home’ to me.

 

Socialising

I’ve been better at this so far this year. Even with things being kind of hard and stressful fairly constantly I’ve managed to be more social. I’ve hosted people for dinner and I’ve been better at making time to visit people I went to a party, and I spent a few days away with another friend who lives out of Melbourne. So it’s improving… well, sparingly. But I have worked at it, and I expect it will be a bit easier this coming semester, again because of studying half time. I’m hopeful.

Community stuff is still something I’d like to be better with but I’m still unsure how it will come about. I have made it to a couple of Poly Vic things and I will continue trying to do that. I am unsure about volunteering for this Continuum committee as I only know one person on there. but maybe that’s a reason to do so as well…  Greens stuff and CWA stuff is still attractive but might take more energy than I have to give at present so it’s a bit up in the air. Sometimes I wish I was a bit more like the people I admire who seem to have energy for All The Things. I do the best I can.

 

All in all, it’s been a hard year so far, one that’s been trying and has tested what little resilience I’ve had. I’m grateful for the people around me, for my partners, my friends, chosen family. I couldn’t get through all this without you and your time, care and quiet support means the world to me. I’ll get through this and I’ll get on top of things – you’ll see. I’m determined! In the meantime, not only will I continue to work hard on my study, but I will also concentrate on taking the best care of myself that I can, and building on things that add to the quality of my life – who I am and what I’m doing in the world.

I had thought that this year was about ‘becoming’ in the sense of becoming a midwife – but I actually think it’s more than that. I think that it’s ‘becoming’ also in the sense of who I am as a person and who I am growing into. That’s a both terrifying and exciting really but… I have faith in myself, fundamentally so I’m just going to see where this enquiry leads. Here’s to the rest of the year ahead, may it be gentler but remain a learning experience that is fulfilling, generous in all that lifts me up and sparing in further harsh lessons.

It’s fairly frequent at this point that we find ourselves with a very tight budget fortnight. However, the past 8 weeks or so have not been kind to my ability to meal plan as part of keeping costs down. We’ve managed, but it’s been a bit piecemeal overall. We’re in the middle of another fortnight where we’re trying to keep groceries to the cheaper side of things, and since exams are now done, I’ve made a meal plan. Details of the plan I’m working from are below.

General notes: 

  • Past!me has still got stock to draw from (but I think next fortnight I should make a point of doing a batch of beef and chicken stock).
  • Also I took advantage of cheap ethical meat on sale butcher I like at the markets recently for both chicken and pork options.
  • Still well stocked for spices, vinegars and a bunch of dry good things.
  • This meal plan I wanted to dig into my ‘untried’ recipes folder on Taste.com.au and try a bunch of things I’ve been meaning to for years.
  • I wanted to try and avoid too much repetition of standard familiar favourites, just as part of the challenge.

Meals: 

This time I did have a loose time frame, but it follows the same basic principles of evaluating having enough meals for the fortnight, including lunches and taking into account the potential for leftovers.  This particular fortnight, I was away in Ballarat for a couple of days (and a post from that experience is brewing too), so my partners had a couple of nights where dinner was up to them and not planned specifically. The dishes I proposed for this fortnight:

  • Beef Ramen – this was my own on-the-fly recipe and was for a dinner party night where timing needed to be flexible. I make a soup broth, make the noodles and slice up the meat and veggies thinly. I then use the very hot soup to cook the ingredients in the bowl upon serving. (Note: a tender, lean cut like eye fillet works best for this).
  • Japanese Vegetarian Hotpot – this turned out beautifully, and though I forgot to take a picture, it looked much like it did on the recipe page. I didn’t use the egg for this recipe and didn’t miss it, I did add some extra veggies and didn’t tinker with the soup base and it was delicious. Scope for tweaking, if I wanted to I’d make it spicier.
  • Tuscan Bean Soup with Bacon – I decided that on this occasion I wanted to add bacon to this recipe, I thought on it’s own it lacked a little something and I wasn’t interested in hunting down other recipes to compare and figure out what when I was pretty sure adding bacon would just bring the awesomeness to the table. It did. I slowcooked the leeks with the bacon and garlic for about 40 minutes, not letting them brown much at all. I didn’t mash the beans – it didn’t seem necessary. It turned out really delicious, hearty, comforting and filling.
  • Mapo Tofu – I don’t have a recipe for this yet, but I’m on the look out. If you have a favourite one, please let me know. Loosely, fermented black bean sauce, Szechuan peppercorns, tofu, pork mince all deliciously cooked together over rice and greens.
  • Butter Chicken – This recipe looks like it’s worth trying as a start to figure out what makes a good butter chicken recipe when you’re trying to build it from the beginning. We’ll see how it turns out!
  • Pork Chops with Red Onion and Pear Chutney – This was tonight’s dinner and really, I only used the recipe for the chutney. That said, it was inspiration and worked really well – the spicy red onion and pear chutney was fantastic! And it was quite quick to put together. I sold a sceptical Ral and Fox both on the awesomeness of pork chops, so a win from all angles I think.
  • Asparagus and Sage Butter Pasta  – I know asparagus is out of season so I may yet do the familiar pumpkin recipe that’s similar. However, asparagus is Fox’s favourite and he’s had a rough few weeks so it’d be something to spoil him with and the pricing atm isn’t horrible (it might actually be on special this week).
  • Chicken and Potato Provencale – I’ve made this before, but not for Ral and Fox, and it’s a good quick and light chicken dish that works all on its own without needing extra sides. I might even include the olives for the first time…
  • Pasta with Lemony Sauce – This recipe I have also done before, but not for my partners, and just for fun I’m thinking I might make the pasta myself for practice, as I’ve barely done it and always want to do more.

Pork chop with spicy red onion and pear chutneyPicture of tonight’s dinner, the pork chop with spicy red onion and pear chutney. Served with sweet potato mash and steamed green veggies.

The main grocery shop for all of these meals was about $140 ish – I’m really pleased with this as it pretty much means we only need to buy milk and a few extra veggies by the end of the fortnight (and the asparagus because it’s easy enough to buy that on the day I make the pasta). Things I already have in the freezer include the pork mince, the chicken thigh fillets, the chicken thigh cutlets, the pork chops.

 

Other meals I’d like to make soonish (ish): 

  • I want to recreate a dish I had in Ballarat with Skud just this week that was a pork sausage and kale polenta lasagne – so delicious and Tuscan peasant food style. It was fantastic. I was very inspired about food the whole time I was in Ballarat, this list really shows that.
  • Roast lamb with all the trimmings – I blame the very cold weather lately.
  • Black bean Mexican style soup – this is Skud’s recipe and I remember having it last year and meaning to make it once it got colder again, still plan to do this on a cold night and make it nice and spicy.
  • Curried cauliflower soup – again inspired by Skud, because homemade soup is the best way to be greeted out of the cold. Also, it was delicious and am certain, simple and cheap – attractive qualities!
  • Fish things because Fox would love more fish more regularly, and the challenge for me would be to find stuff I also think I’d enjoy eating (I like fish, but it was hard work to get to that point).

I thought as these were all from the same series and I read them back to back that I’d put them all in the same review post :)

Sharp Shooter - coverAustralian Women Writers Challenge: Book #1

Title: Sharp Shooter (Tara Sharp #1)

Author: Marianne Delacourt

Publisher and Year: Allen & Unwin, 2009

Genre: Crime

Blurb from Goodreads: 

Tara Sharp should be just another unemployable, twenty-something, ex-private schoolgirl . . . but she has the gift – or curse as she sees it – of reading people’s auras. The trouble is, auras sometimes tell you things about people they don’t want you to know.

When a family friend recommends Mr Hara’s Paralanguage School, Tara decides to give it a whirl – and graduates with flying colours. So when Mr Hara picks up passes on a job for a hot-shot lawyer she jumps at the chance despite some of his less-than-salubrious clients.

Tara should know better than to get involved when she learns the job involves mob boss Johnny Vogue. But she’s broke and the magic words ‘retainer’ and ‘bonus’ have been mentioned. Soon Tara finds herself sucked into an underworld ‘situation’ that has her running for her life.

My Review:

It took me way too long to get to this book, because I’m not a crime reader. But, what I mean is that I’m not a *serious* crime reader, I don’t want the heavy stuff (without the magic), but light and fluffy? I’m all over that. I loved how recognisable Perth was in this book to me, and the characters with their friendship were delightful. I loved the way Tara’s story starts out and she’s kind of fumbling her way through things but managing to make them work in the end. I devoured this and immediately went to the next book.

Sharp Turn - coverAustralian Women Writers Challenge: Book #2

Title: Sharp Turn (Tara Sharp #2)

Author: Marianne Delacourt

Publisher and Year: Allen & Unwin, 2010

Genre: Crime

Blurb from Goodreads: 

Tara Sharp’s unorthodox PI business is starting to attract customers – though not necessarily of the kind she envisaged… Working at Madame Vine’s luxurious brothel teaching the ‘girls’ to ‘read’ their clients better isn’t exactly what she had in mind when she started out…

So it’s a relief when the man of Tara’s dreams, Nick Tozzi, lines her up with a lucrative job. Something is rotten in the local motor racing industry and an associate of Nick’s wants Tara to sniff out the bad egg…

It’s not long before Tara finds herself in all kinds of danger, with a murder at Madam Vine’s followed by the discovery of a bloated corpse in the Swan River.

My Review: 

What a great continuation from Tara’s first adventure! Tara has more of an idea what she’s doing with her business and how, plus there’s Cass. I love that Tara can’t help but take in strays and help them – she’s not so different from her Aunt Liz whatever she might say. I loved the mysteries being unravelled, spicy enough but not heavy enough to impact on the overall light tone of the book that aims to entertain rather than frighten. I love that about these books and I keep falling in love with the characters even more, especially Smitty.

Stage Fright - coverAustralian Women Writers Challenge: Book #3

Title: Stage Fright (Tara Sharp #3)

Author: Marianne Delacourt

Publisher and Year: Allen & Unwin, 2012

Genre: Crime

Blurb from Goodreads: 

Tara Sharp is back in this frightening foray into the music industry.
Things are a bit hot for Tara Sharp in her home town of Perth, so she jumps at the chance to leave town when a music promoter offers her a gig looking after a difficult musician who’s touring Brisbane.

Though minding musicians isn’t Tara’s usual line of work, the money is good and she’s a sucker for a backstage pass. Respite from her mother – with her not-so-subtle hints about ‘eligible young men’ and ‘suitable jobs’ – is also a plus, as is the time and distance to try to resolve her mixed up romantic life.

Arriving in ‘BrisVegas’, Tara finds her hands full dealing with the bizarre habits of the ‘artist’, not to mention his crazy fans. And it’s not long before she discovers that the music industry can be more cut-throat than she imagined and it can be very dangerous messing with the big boys…

My Review:

Tara Sharp is at it again, and I loved it. This time in Brisbane and a mystery surrounding concert promotion. I love that the mystery is once again coming from all angles and it’s unclear until the last moment where the strife is really coming from. Bon Ames is an interesting character but Wal still tops him for me. I love the way Ed is just nonplussed despite all the drama that Tara stirs up. This is a delightful series, just the kind I like to read most.

This is the summation of the academic reading I’ve done for semester 1 this year, mostly for assignments. I’ve had three written assignments to produce, one on woman-centred care in relation to obesity and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (terrible essay question, way too complicated and too much to cover for 1500 words). I had one assignment on provision of woman-centred care in a contemporary maternity care setting (1500 words), and the third one was on what a midwife can do when confronted (their word not mine) with a woman who does not consent to a midwifery procedure (1000 words). This last one was equal parts about legal obligations as well as provision of woman-centred care (always a central theme).

I’ve been thinking about whether to provide any commentary on any of these but there’s an awful lot of articles so actually I think I will just post the list and respond to any specific queries about articles. I may yet do a blog post summarising overall what I learned and took on from the research I’ve conducted, we’ll see. This is the reference list so the articles I *used*, I did read a few others that I didn’t use but this is already a comprehensive list so I’m not going to worry about including them at this point.

It’s also worth nothing that you’ll need library access of some sort to access these, I’m not aware that any of them are open access.

Assignment 1: woman-centred care in relation to obesity and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. 

Biro, M., Cant, R., Hall, H., Bailey, C., East, C., & Sinni, S. (2013). How effectively do midwives manage the care of obese pregnant women? A cross-sectional survey of Australian midwives. Women and Birth, 26(2), 119-124. doi:10.1016/j.wombi.2013.01.00.

Callaway, L. K., O’Callaghan, M., & David McIntyre, H. (2009). Obesity and the Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy. Hypertension in Pregnancy, 28(4), 473-493. doi:10.3109/10641950802629626.

Daemers, D., Wijnen, H., Limbeek, E., Budé, L., Nieuwenhuijze, M., Spaanderman, M., & Vries, R. (2014). The impact of obesity on outcomes of midwife-led pregnancy and childbirth in a primary care population: a prospective cohort study. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 121(11), 1403-1414. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.12684.

Dahlen, H. (2010). Undone by fear? Deluded by trust? Midwifery, 26(2), 156-162. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2009.11.008.

Davis, D., Raymond, J., Clements, V., Teate, A., Adams, C., Mollart, L., & Foureur, M. (2012). Addressing obesity in pregnancy: The design and feasibility of an innovative intervention in NSW, Australia. Women and Birth, 25(4), 174-180. doi:10.1016/j.wombi.2011.08.008.

Ghulmiyyah, L., & Sibai, B. (2012). ‘Maternal mortality from preeclampsia/eclampsia’. Seminars in Perinatology, 36(1), 56-59. doi: doi:10.1053/j.semperi.2011.09.011.

Heslehurst, N., Moore, H., Rankin, J., Ells, L., Wilkinson, J., & Summberbell, C. (2011). How can maternity services be developed to effectively address maternal obesity? A qualitative study. Midwifery, 27(5), e170-e177. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2010.01.007.

Hutcheon, J., Lisonkova, S., & Joseph, K.S. (2011). Epidemiology of pre-eclampsia and the other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Hypertensive Disorders in Pregnancy, 25(4), 391-403. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2011.01.006.

Jomeen, J. (2012). The paradox of choice in maternity care. Journal of Neonatal Nursing, 18(2), 60–62. doi:10.1016/j.jnn.2012.01.010b.

Keely, A., Gunning, M., & Denison, F. (2011). Maternal obesity in pregnancy: Women’s understanding of risks. British Journal of Midwifery, 19(6), 364-369. Retrieved from http://www.magonlinelibrary.com/toc/bjom/19/6.

Madan, J., Chen, M., Goodman, E., Davis, J., Allan, W., & Dammann, O. (2010). Maternal obesity, gestational hypertension, and preterm delivery. Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 23(1), 82-88. doi:10.3109/14767050903258738.

MacKenzie Bryers, H., & van Teijlingen, E. (2010). Risk, theory, social and medical models: A critical analysis of the concept of risk in maternity care. Midwifery, 26(5), 488-496. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2010.07.003.

McGlone, A., & Davies, S. (2012). Perspectives on risk and obesity: Towards a ‘tolerable risk’ approach? British Journal of Midwifery, 20(1), 13-17. Retrieved from http://www.magonlinelibrary.com/toc/bjom/20/1.

Mills, A., Schmied, V. A., & Dahlen, H. G. (2013). ‘Get alongside us’, women’s experiences of being overweight and pregnant in Sydney, Australia. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 9(3), 309-321. doi:10.1111/j.1740-8709.2011.00386.x.

Nyman, V. M. K., Prebensen, Å. K., & Flensner, G. E. M. (2010). Obese women’s experiences of encounters with midwives and physicians during pregnancy and childbirth. Midwifery, 26(4), 424–429. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2008.10.008.

Schmied, V. A., Duff, M., Dahlen, H. G., Mills, A. E., & Kolt, G. S. (2011). ‘Not waving but drowning’: a study of the experiences and concerns of midwives and other health professionals caring for obese childbearing women. Midwifery, 27(4), 424-430. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2010.02.010.

Seibold, C., Licqurish, S., Rolls, C., & Hopkins, F. (2010). “Lending the space”: midwives’ perceptions of birth space and clinical risk management. Midwifery, 26(5), 526–31. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2010.06.011

Singleton, G., & Furber, C. (2014). The experiences of midwives when caring for obese women in labour, a qualitative study. Midwifery, 30(1), 103-111. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2013.02.008

Swank, M. L., Caughey, A. B., Farinelli, C. K., Main, E. K., Melsop, K. A., Gilbert, W. M., & Chung, J. H. (2014). The impact of change in pregnancy body mass index on the development of gestational hypertensive disorders. Journal of Perinatology, 34(3), 181-185. doi:10.1038/jp.2013.168

World Health Organisation. (2015). Overweight and obesity. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/.

 

Assignment 2: woman-centred care in a contemporary maternity care setting.

Ängeby, K., Wilde-Larsson, B., Hildingsson, I., & Sandin-Bojö, A. (2015). Primiparous women’s preferences for care during a prolonged latent phase of labour. Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare. doi:10.1016/j.srhc.2015.02.003.

Australian College of Midwives. (2011). ACM philosophy for midwifery. Retrieved from http://www.midwives.org.au/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=MIDW/ccms.r?pageid=10019.

Berg, M., Lundgren, I., & Ólafsdóttir, O. (2012). A midwifery model of woman-centred childbirth care – In Swedish and Icelandic settings. Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare, 3(2), 79-87. doi:10.1016/j.srhc.2012.03.001.

Borelli, E. S. (2014). What is a good midwife? Insights from the literature. Midwifery, 30(1), 3-10. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2013.06.019.

Daemers, D., Wijnen, H., Limbeek, E., Budé, L., Nieuwenhuijze, M., Spaanderman, M., & Vries, R. (2014). The impact of obesity on outcomes of midwife-led pregnancy and childbirth in a primary care population: a prospective cohort study. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 121(11), 1403-1414. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.12684.

Davis, D., & Walker, K. (2011). Case-loading midwifery in New Zealand: bridging the normal/abnormal divide ‘with woman’. Midwifery, 27(1), 46-52. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2009.09.007.

Easthope, S. (2010). Keeping Birth Woman-Centred. Midwifery Matters, (125), 17. Retrieved from: http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/51433357/keeping-birth-woman-centred.

Homer, C. S. E., Passant, L., Brodie, P. M., Kildea, S., Leap, N., Pincombe, J., & Thorogood, C. (2009). The role of the midwife in Australia: views of women and midwives. Midwifery, 25(6), 673–81. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2007.11.003.

Hunter, B., Berg, M., Lundgren, I., Ólafsdóttir, O., & Kirkham, M. (2008). Relationships: The hidden threads in the tapestry of maternity care. Midwifery, 24(2), 132-137. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2008.02.003.

International Confederation of Midwives. (2011). ICM international definition of the midwife. Retrieved from http://www.internationalmidwives.org/who-we-are/policy-and-practice/icm-international-definition-of-the-midwife/.

Jordan, K., Fenwick, J., Slavin, V., Sidebotham, M., & Gamble, J. (2013). Level of burnout in a small population of Australian midwives. Women and Birth, 26(2), 125-132. doi:10.1016/j.wombi.2013.01.002.

Leap, N. (2009). Woman-centred or women-centred care: does it matter? British Journal of Midwifery, 17(1), 12-16. Retrieved from http://www.magonlinelibrary.com/toc/bjom/17/1.

Leinweber, J., & Rowe, H. J. (2010). The costs of ‘being with the woman’: secondary traumatic stress in midwifery. Midwifery, 26(1), 76-87. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2008.04.003.

MacKenzie Bryers, H., & van Teijlingen, E. (2010). Risk, theory, social and medical models: A critical analysis of the concept of risk in maternity care. Midwifery, 26(5), 488-496. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2010.07.003.

Murphy, P. A., & King, T. L. (2013). Effective communication is essential to being with woman: midwifery strategies to strengthen health education and promotion. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 58(3), 247-248. doi:10.1111/jmwh.12080.

Nilsson, C., Lundgren, I., Smith, V., Vehvilainen-Julkunen, K., Nicoletti, J., Devane, D., & … Begley, C. (2015). Women-centred interventions to increase vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC): A systematic review. Midwifery. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2015.04.003.

Seibold, C., Licqurish, S., Rolls, C., & Hopkins, F. (2010). “Lending the space”: midwives’ perceptions of birth space and clinical risk management. Midwifery, 26(5), 526–31. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2010.06.011.

Sidebotham, M., Fenwick, J., Rath, S., & Gamble, J. (2015). Midwives’ perceptions of their role within the context of maternity service reform: An Appreciative Inquiry. Women and Birth. doi:10.1016/j.wombi.2014.12.006.

Taylor, M. (2014). Caring for a woman with autism in early labour. British Journal of Midwifery, 22(7), 514-518. Retrieved from: http://www.magonlinelibrary.com/toc/bjom/22/7.

Walker, S., & Sabrosa, R. (2014). Assessment of fetal presentation: Exploring a woman-centred approach. British Journal of Midwifery, 22(4), 240-244. Retrieved from: http://www.magonlinelibrary.com/toc/bjom/22/4.

 

Assignment 3: the legal based one. 

Australian College of Midwives. (2011). ACM Philosophy for midwifery. Retrieved from http://www.midwives.org.au/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=MIDW/ccms.r?pageid=10019.

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQH). (2008). ACSQHC: Australian charter of healthcare rights. Retrieved from: http://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/national-priorities/charter-of-healthcare-rights/.

Borelli, E. S. (2014). What is a good midwife? Insights from the literature. Midwifery 30(1), 3-10. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2013.06.019.

Brass, R. (2012). Caring for the woman who goes against conventional medical advice. British Journal of Midwifery, 20(12), 898-901. Retrieved from http://www.magonlinelibrary.com/toc/bjom/20/12.

Carr, N. (2008). Midwifery supervision and home birth against conventional advice. British Journal of Midwifery, 16(11), 743-745. Retrieved from: http://www.magonlinelibrary.com/toc/bjom/16/11.

Dexter, S. C., Windsor, S., & Watkinson, S. J. (2014). Meeting the challenge of maternal choice in mode of delivery with vaginal birth after caesarean section: a medical, legal and ethical commentary. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 121(2), 133-139. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.12409.

Homer, C. S. E., Passant, L., Brodie, P. M., Kildea, S., Leap, N., Pincombe, J., & Thorogood, C. (2009). The role of the midwife in Australia: views of women and midwives. Midwifery, 25(6), 673–81. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2007.11.003.

Hunter, B., Berg, M., Lundgren, I., Olafsdottir, O., & Kirkham, M. (2008). Relationships: The hidden threads in the tapestry of maternity care. Midwifery, 24(2), 132-137. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2008.02.003.

Kruske, S., Young, K., Jenkinson, B., & Catchlove, A. (2013). Maternity care providers’ perceptions of women’s autonomy and the law. BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, 13(1), 1-6. doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-84.

Medical Treatment Act 1988 (Vic) preamble (Austl.). Retrieved from: http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/.

Medical Treatment Act 1988 (Vic) section 5.1 (Austl.). Retrieved from: http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. (2008a). Code of professional conduct for midwives in Australia. Retrieved from: http://www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Statements/Codes-Guidelines.aspx.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. (2008b). Code of ethics for midwives in Australia. Retrieved from: http://www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Statements/Codes-Guidelines.aspx.

I’m not sure how to characterise these links, maybe I just need to put them out there together and let them speak for themselves…

Centrelink (one of my least favourite organisations) is coming under scrutiny for poor response times and leaving calls unanswered. I think the criticism is actually a little unfair though because they like any other public service department has to operate within budget and the public service in the past several years has been very poorly funded. People are already working beyond their means in an effort to meet demands – just because you ‘restructure’ and justify cutting jobs, doesn’t mean the amount of work actually reduces – it’s all still there and those trying to do it struggle.

What’s also interesting is their response to the criticism, pulling people off all other tasks to answer calls and reduce waiting times, as though this will in any way address the underlying problems – all the non-phonecall work still needs to be done, and probably also suffers from delays. Answering calls will absolutely increase the amount of that non-phone work that needs to be done. Once you get to a certain point in the process/acceptance of your claim it is easier to deal with the online process and that becomes possible – but only after a certain point, before that it’s just painful and frustrating. Painful and frustrating describes the general experience of Centrelink overall.

More on politics in Australia, this article from The Australian (note, some readers may find this is behind a pay wall, sorry about that) talks  about how the ALP may be forced to recognise that Australia is now a three party political system (let’s assume the Liberal National Party are still firmly in denial about this).  It’s nice that the ALP strategists are finally joining the rest of us in the present, because I feel this has been true for a while – certainly the way in which the Greens have been a more effective Opposition, they’re saying things that the ALP won’t say and refusing to support things that the ALP should refuse to support (data retention, whistle blower laws anyone)? Anyway, the language of this article is appalling ‘serious threat’ – please! A friend commented that ‘viable alternative’ and ‘effective choice’ were better ways of describing it. I’d also like to point out, that holy fuck the language in this article! “planning a campaign directed at conservative voters in Liberal territory who had strayed” as though the voters are naughty children or something. I can’t even!!!

One of the bigger news stories going on in the past week has been the boat full of Rohingya refugees that have been turned back by multiple countries, and basically are being left to die in the middle of the ocean. The callous response to these people in need has horrified me so much that I’ve barely been able to stomach the headlines. These are some of the most oppressed people in the world, and I don’t understand how we can stand by and let this happen. Gambia puts us all to shame by making room for these people and offering to resettle them despite the poverty of the country. The bureaucratic way in which there’s the ‘multi-country effort’ double speak trying to make it seem as though Gambia hasn’t shown up the rest of the world makes me ill. I wish these people peace, and recovery and a place to call home without fear.

And now a small breather, something more positive to uplift for at least a few moments and break the horror and sadness. There’s an Australian bat rescue hospital. They look after and rehabilitate bats! And the little bats all wrapped up that way is seriously one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen! How cute is this?!

Two orphan baby bats, wrapped up in coloured blankets, one bat hugs the other and one is dozing with a teat in its mouth.

Back to reality… Maggie Gyllenhaal has been notified by Hollywood that she’s ‘too old’ at 37 to play the lead against a 55 year-old male co-star. What the actual fuck?! Maggie Gyllenhaal is a brilliant actress – people should be clamouring to have at her after her performance in ‘The Honourable Woman‘. Also since when is 37 ‘too old’ – that’s not even in the same decade as the male lead! I know it’s part of the existing culture of Hollywood, but I’m so glad when any of the esteemed actresses speak out about it honestly and candidly because it’s the kind of thing that needs to change. I live in hope.

And here we have an article that looks into the statistics and reports from the NSW Coroner’s Court in relation to domestic violence. The findings are not at all surprising, they remain sobering. The fact that as a nation we’re not coordinating a national response addressing the existing horror, need for change, rehabilitation, healing and also on prevention and changing things for the future is despicable. It remains obvious to me that the lives of women don’t matter. We have a deep societal problem with family violence, but we just don’t seem to care – or we think it’s someone else’s problem. Whatever it is, the real threat of terrorism in Australia is domestic violence.

Another positive moment, and I feel like they’re necessary given all the awfulness! I realise that it’s a bit in the realm of clickbait, but the story itself is actually adorable. I love the way this little girl describes seeing her little brother being born. Just gorgeous!

So I live in a poly household in Melbourne, myself and my partners – who are the ‘on paper’ relationship. I’m the ‘single’ person who lives with them. And unsurprisingly Centrelink have been awful, one of my partners earns too much, so his partner can’t get the Austudy he’s entitled to. I can’t get Austudy because even though I haven’t claimed it before, the fact that I have an undergraduate already precludes me from support when I need it. Because I of course planned the massive career change and letting go of 10 years I spent pursuing another career all for nothing…

So we subsist on one income between the three of us, and it kind of works. It kind of works because one of our parents is in a position to help us with rent. It kind of works because we all genuinely work together and try hard to be good about money and all the messy emotions it brings up together. And we recognise that at this point in our lives and relationships, we’re intertwined financially.

We all contribute to the house, in various ways, and so we’re all entitled to the income. There’s not much to go around but it (mostly) pays the bills, the rent and groceries. I’m better than I ever have been about making groceries last, making food last and making it delicious and so we don’t often *feel* poor. Even though we rarely can have a night out, or dinner out, or go to the movies or any of those things we could  manage occasionally when we at least had some welfare support.

I’m writing about this because I am looking at the meal plan I made on the fly yesterday for the next two weeks to get us through a fortnight where anything we can avoid spending on food, can pay bills. We’re not late on anything, but we’re working hard to keep it that way. In any case, I thought I’d share what my meal plan was and how I decided on it for this particular fortnight. Namely, what stuff has past!me done that makes this next two weeks earlier. Let’s do that bit first:

Past!me has:

  • Made oodles of stock, so I have vegetable stock, beef stock, and chicken stock in my freezer. I also have plenty of frozen veggie scraps to make more (and we are running low on veggie stock).
  • Stocked up on some dry goods that are good for stretching things, accompanying things, part of the regular stuff we would use and works for a bunch of the ‘go-to’ meals we might make.
  • Looked at what is in the fridge and freezer that can be used for the fortnight easily: some beef mince, a lamb roast, 1/2 a cabbage, 4 small zucchinis (I still don’t have a plan for them yet).
  • I also have a well stocked pantry for spices, vinegars and other similar ingredients that you often need for various recipes and are good to have on hand to make awesome stuff from very little.
  • Made a beef and barley stew before the meal plan but that meant it was there and could be part of the planning process straight away! One meal and a fair few lunches down!

And now for the meal plan. I reasoned that counting leftovers and the need for lunches for me at home and Ral’s uni lunches for the next two weeks, we needed about 9-10 meals.

So this is what the meal plan looks like:

  • Tunisian Chicken (I had everything except the chicken and the coriander).
  • Marcella Hazan’s Smothered Cabbage Soup (I have everything for this).
  • Chana Masala (I needed the ginger and I bought some cheap dried chickpeas rather than use the canned ones I have).
  • Chicken Adobo (I needed the chicken and spring onions).
  • Alfredo Pasta (I do have some cream but it’s going on chocolate cake for birthday dinner tonight, so that remains the only thing I need).
  • Marcella Hazan’s Tomato, Onion and Butter pasta sauce (I have everything for this – we almost always do).
  • Macaroni Peas (I had just finished the last of the frozen peas and have bought some more).
  • Bukhara (This is where the lamb roast will go, and I had everything else except the ginger, which I bought for at least one other recipe).
  • Spaghetti Bolognaise (I have a great recipe for this and had the mince in the freezer. Plus, it makes a large pot. I had everything for it except red wine and we bought a cheap decent bottle).

So that’s 9 so far and I’ll see how far that gets us before I evaluate further. It’s a whole lot of guesstimation at the moment, so we’ll see how close or far off I am toward the end of things. (Maybe I’ll even remember to blog about it.) There are several options that are cheap that I can rope in at the last minute like Dal Makhani, or this gorgeous Broccoli Frittata which always impresses, or make a risotto or soup – those are always good go-to options.

So, there you have it, my angst, frustration and making the most of it in the form of meal planning. What makes things easier for this fortnight is, I’m home and I have very few commitments so I can do the cooking and make things work and spend extra time eking things out and adding to my stash of freezer meals without extra stress. The reason I’m trying to meal plan, spend as little as possible AND still maintain my freezer stash is because I’ll be away from home in June on prac, and it will make life a lot easier for Ral and Fox dinner wise if half of them are already made. It will also make it cheaper for them, which will be important because I anticipate needing more of our budget while I’m staying away from home and going to the hospital every day.

I have to say that my meal planning and frugal skills are both inspired by, and not nearly as well established or finely tuned as my best friend Sarah’s. She can do amazing things with meal planning and frugality. But all in all, I do well enough for what we need right now, and I pass it on to my partners. One  of whom is an exceptional cook, and also quite accomplished at making do, the other of whom is still learning the very basics of cooking. In my mind, this stuff is part of that basic learning.

Anway, have a picture of last night’s Tunisian Chicken dinner (not the prettiest plate unfortunately). Alas I forgot to take a picture of the cake! But I made this amazingly simple and delicious Chocolate Bundt Cake, which is not expensive to make and is one of the most delicious chocolate cakes I’ve ever made.

Not the prettiest plate, but Tunisian Chicken with couscous for dinner.