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The lack of good close friends I had before I moved to Sydney in 1999 has made me have a strong appreciation for the friends I’ve made since I moved here. They may not be fully aware of how much I love having them in my life. I’m not a good phone caller – as an introvert I don’t like talking on the phone, I much prefer to see friends and family in person otherwise I prefer to keep in regular touch through texting, facebook or twitter. In fact I am a serial ‘liker’ and commenter on facebook and I frequently send out text messages inviting friends to different occasions I keep thinking of organising. Hopefully this is not getting annoying for them but I know what it means to be lonely and so I love to come up with reasons to get together. All relationships take effort and care, it took many years for me to realise this and to learn how.

Anyway, one of the occasions I organised last December was a Champagne Breakfast for my birthday (not having done anything for my birthday for several years). It was meant to be held at Balmoral Beach but as the weather was so crappy last summer I ended up hosting it at home, not as nice, but once everyone has arrived who cares where you are! The breakfast was made even more enjoyable because none of us were preparing or cooking food – I used the fabulous caterer Camilla Baker. It meant much less stress for me (especially as Christmas was approaching), all I had to do was have the house in order. Camilla had baked and made the most delicious food for breakfast which was washed down with lovely Champagne and to top it off we devoured what we all agreed was the best chocolate cake ever!! A beautiful way to start a Sunday morning in summer. I highly recommend Camilla, you can find her at www.camillabaker.com.au. I also used Camilla’s services for a what-the-hell type of party back in March (I mean really, who needs a reason for a party?) and again it was so stress-free to have her provide most of the food and on both occasions I could actually enjoy my friends’ company instead of being locked away in the kitchen, brilliant!

No, I’m not posing – I’d just blown the candle out! The view behind certainly isn’t Balmoral Beach but the kids toy room and chalk drawing on the bricks behind me, ah family life!

I originally got to know Camilla and her work through her blog “Family of Foodies”. I was starting to tear my hair out with my son’s eating habits last year (he would be so happy if he could just live on  sausages, home-made chips & pizza – actually any meat and carbs really) and then I discovered Camilla’s blog and found some great advice, and good ideas of what foods are good to make for kids and with kids. I don’t have much patience at the best of times so the idea of having my kids cook with me in my kitchen doesn’t fill me with warm fuzzy feelings inside. But I have persevered on occasion and I’ve noticed they started looking at food in a better way. Camilla’s blog reignited my interest in cooking and I re-opened all my cookbooks and started getting more ideas again. Sometimes people inadvertently give you a nudge or inspire you to do something different which is great.

Actually, I don’t particularly enjoy cooking but I do love eating! I usually go to quite a bit of trouble for dinner, I can’t seem to bring myself to do something quick and easy – unless it’s summer and DH is cooking on the BBQ. At this time of the year I love the more hearty, rustic type of meals. I’ve been told I make a fabulous Beef Bourgignon – it’s the sort of food I grew up on and I can’t help myself, it’s probably terribly unfashionable, but I don’t care, it tastes divine!

I didn’t grow up in a house that had friends or family over much but my DH comes from a gregarious family. He loves to have friends or colleagues over for dinner. I grew to love it too pretty quickly. He would frequently bring someone home for dinner with a 5 minute warning! (When we lived in Wollstonecraft his office was only a 5 minute drive away). For many years we were always hosting things and inviting new people we had met over for dinner (I’m quite conscious of this as moving to a big city it can be hard to meet people who actually invite you home). However, since baby #2 came along we don’t have friends over very often except for a casual dinner with our closest friends (with kids a similar age) – they’re expecting your house to be messy and your kitchen unorganised!! But as my baby girl is nearing 3yrs old I can see that I should be starting to make an effort again. I miss seeing everyone regularly and when I’m looking through cookbooks I always seem to think in terms of cooking for others not just for my family. I think for me food and friends are inextricably linked.

There’s my DH with some of the girls – he always manages to drop in when it’s a girls only function, he’s so nosy!!