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Come to our barbeque, bring your own meat…

13 Dec

Weber Family Q305 2

I am so embarrassed.

Some old friends invited me to a barbecue at their new place. I was so looking forward to seeing them. I packed the kids into the car and headed their way. We walked in and exchanged hugs and greetings. I sat down and watched as other guests arrived, proudly handing over parcels of meat to my friend’s husband who was firing up the barbecue. Crap. We were meant to bring our own meat (and drinks apparently) and I hadn’t brought a thing. I’d heard about such events but I had never been to one.

I hate being invited to barbecues these days. It’s just gotten worse.

Have you noticed how many barbecues require you to bring your own meat? And it’s not even that you have to bring your own meat that is the real issue – it’s that it’s hard to tell which barbeques you have to bring meat to and which you don’t.

Rarely does anyone bother to let you know if you are meant to supply your own meat…they just seem to think you’ll figure it out. So you either turn up to a barbecue expecting meat to be provided and it’s not (we had to go down the road to KFC for our lunch once) or you bring meat to a party that has it already (and you’re esky of sausages is left to rot in the car).

This is fair enough when it comes to drinks. If you want to get on the piss then bring your own alcohol. Alcohol is expensive and people like specific brands. But being invited to lunch and then having to provide your own lunch is filled with uncertainty and wrong assumptions.

Will sides be provided? What about plates and forks? Can I use one of your napkins? Is there any water?

And meat-envy is the WORST. I turned up once with cheap chicken sausages (because I knew my kids would eat them) and my friends were barbecuing chicken thighs marinated in lemon, olive oil, garlic and rosemary. I almost did a grab-and-run. They smelled AMAZING.

In my family we have never asked guests to bring their own meat. The thought is preposterous. We are Italian. We are happy to over-feed you at our expense. But pasta is cheap and meat is expensive. How do you socialize and keep it affordable?

This is why I think we need to adjust new-age-barbecues a little. If guests have to bring their own meat, TELL THEM. Or even better…if everyone brings a dish then we can all share. That way there is no food envy and you don’t have to fry your meat on your corner of the barbecue, trying to avoid your friend’s t-bone steak. We can slap it all on, put it all out and dig in.

Barbecues are Australian but if they are going to continue without incident we need to start communicating better or switch to picnics, although picnics seem to be increasingly BYO too.

I pulled my friend aside at my first BYO-barbecue and explained that I hadn’t brought anything. I apologized profusely and she said no worries, she had enough for us. I fed the kids but stuck to communal corn chips myself. It really was the worst day.

I have another barbecue tomorrow and we weren’t told if we had to bring meat so I texted and vaguely asked if I needed to bring anything. “Just meat if you are staying for the barbecue…and drinks”, she responded.

I mean really. She’d better have nibbles.

Getting better with age

27 Nov

Have you even stopped and thought, “Gosh I love my life?” That’s how I feel today. I am having one of those days (weeks in fact) where I am experiencing the perfect balance of work, family and weight-loss. I’m 58 once again (it’s not my goal weight but it will do for over Christmas/New Years), I am doing some amazingly fun and fulfilling writing work from home while my little girl plays with her new playdough in the next room and I just received a phone call about another work opportunity – and next week I get to sit in and observe one of my radio idols doing his thing. 

And tonight I have family coming over for dinner (I haven’t seen them in AGES). It’s absolute perfection.

Now…how to hang on to this feeling and enjoy every part of it without psyching myself out. I want to enjoy all of this and make the most of it. I don’t want to self-destruct, second-guess myself or sabotage myself as I sometimes do when I feel overwhelmed or un-deserving. I want to live it and love it. How????

When I was in my twenties I was overweight, then I wasn’t but I was too naive and aggressive in how I pursued my dreams and I didn’t quite know who I was yet so I came across as inauthentic.

Now I know exactly who I am, I love life but I’m at an age where most women feel like the clock is ticking on fulfilling their dreams. And even before I secure myself my dream job I am already worried about the impact my goals will have on my family. But I deserve to be happy too, don’t I? I just want a great job and plenty of time with my kids. I don’t want to have to choose one or the other.

The difficult choice is turning out to be which career to pursue – the one that pays the most, the one that requires the least hours or the one I enjoy the most?


All I know that now that I am in my late thirties I am more than willing to fight for the life I want and I won’t let anyone (even myself) guilt me into not having it. I love my life, my family and my work and I want it all. Yes there will be days when it will be difficult but it will be worth it. Because by fighting for the life I want I am teaching my children to fight for the life they want and if I’m happy, I’m a much better mother.

Thanks to Lite n Easy I am now a reasonable weight again and my goal now is to maintain the weight over Christmas and New Years. I have put in a massive order for soups (Pumpkin and Chicken) because they are so healthy and filling and I will navigate family functions (of which there are many) to the best of my ability.

In my experience, there’s nothing a Lite n Easy soup dinner can’t fix. If I’ve over-eaten that day I have a soup for lunch or dinner and I pretty much get through the day without a total disaster (like not fitting into my clothes!).

Ahh, the possibilites are endless, the food is plenty and the challenges are ongoing but I’m ready.

La Dolce Vita,

Jo Abi

Vegemite, so wrong yet so right

19 Nov

Dear Lite n Easy,

Thank you thank you thank you for giving me Vegemite toast for breakfast today. I had a rather challenging weekend and Vegemite was the food-hug I needed on a Monday morning.

Every Monday morning I wake up wondering how I will get everything done for the week. Swimming lessons, karate, school, homework, uniforms, laundry, grocery shopping…forget the fact that I need to squeeze in exercising, dressing myself and all the selfish things I do for myself (may I please use the toilet in private just once!).

Surrounded by Vegemite love and fueled by coffee we were all having a great morning. The kids washed and brushed their without too much fuss, the house was reasonably tidy (my husband did housework yesterday – rare but welcome) and we were on time for school.

In between school drop offs I popped into Coles to buy cordial for my husband (don’t drink your calories!) and I saw that the latest Women’s Weekly magazine was out. Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s the little things in life that keep us happy I think. Healthy kids, a box of mangoes, a new magazine, sunshine, Vegemite!

Once again I have split my breakfast and have saved my Honey Muesli Flakes for morning tea with my mega-juicy orange.

Chicken and vegetable risotto for lunch, choc nut mix for afternoon tea…this is going to be a great day.

This is Day 5 of Lite n Easy and I am over the very hungry stage and now I just feel lighter, more energetic, cleaner, in control, happy.

This is what people mean when they say it isn’t just about the weight. My body is functioning better, more efficiently, I’m enjoying my food more, I feel happier, my clothes are fitting me better. It’s a really good time of the year to do Lite n Easy because you’ll learn about portion size ahead of Christmas, a time when grabbing handfuls of snacks mindlessly is common and over-eating expected.

My sisters and I always try to maintain over Christmas. If we can maintain our weight, it’s been a good festive season.

La Dolce Vita,

Jo Abi


Don’t mention the ‘C’ word yet…(Christmas!)

28 Jun

If I see Christmas decorations in the shops next week I am going to SCREAM! When did we start celebrating Christmas for six months and Easter for six months? It’s like it’s all set up to taunt me…You’d better get started…be prepared…buy some decorations now or all the good stars will be sold out…the look on your children’s faces when they don’t see their preferred fit under the tree…those pudding tins need to be purchased today…

Don’t get me wrong – I love both Christmas and Easter but it completely takes the enjoyment away when it is thrown in my face way too early. I can’t even explain the pressure I feel when I see tinsel from July through to December – the shakes, the jittering, the financial panic, the tightness in my chest…

I know there are some amazingly super-organised people who are happy to stock up early (I think they are doing all their shopping at the current sales) but I am not one of them.  I enjoy the anticipation in the lead up to Christmas but why does the lead up have to be so long and painful?

The horror I have felt for the past two years on New Year’s Eve for crying out loud when Easter eggs are positioned at checkouts across the country – I’m all for eating Easter eggs and hot cross buns for six months but once again, it isn’t as special when it lasts for months instead of weeks.

So here is my suggestion – NATIONAL BOYCOTT.

Repeat after me, “I pledge that I will not purchase any Christmas gifts or Christmas related items such as candy canes, tinsel and inflatable snowmen until at least late October.”

And don’t even get me started on Christmas lights. There are two houses in my suburb that still have some up from last year. Why?

I know, I know, Christmas in July. But I do remember when Christmas in July products were offered and then put away until later in the year for Christmas-proper. Now they are left out, taunting us and wagging their finger at us.

Christmas is my favourite time of the year. The love, the joy, the shopping, the presents, the special food, the mess, the fun…it’s special because it only happens once a year.

So PLEASE don’t mention the ‘C’ word around me until much much much later in the year. At least let me get my tax return done first. Let me enjoy the start of Spring, argue with my children of whether or not we can celebrate Halloween this year and then, maybe then, I’ll think about Christmas.


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