Toodle Pips 2011

It’s New Years Eve and the last pump class of the  year. We’re like pumping sardines in that studio – everyone must be really taking this last chance training to heart! Today, it’s so busy, we don’t just run out of weights, we run out of steps, risers and mats! St Leonards has gone potty for pump! I arrive early enough to stake out a super spot and have a muscle ripping workout. I love it!

Back at home, it’s action stations. I chuck  Donna Hay’s Ultimate One-Bowl Chocolate Dessert Cake into the oven while helping Barbara and John co-ordinate their NYE survival kit. They’re going to watch the fireworks from Manns Park in Greenwich which is one of the few places you can watch the fireworks from, and drink alcohol at the same time. The park is only about 30 minutes walk from our place but we figure they’ll have to arrive uber early to score a good spot. Armed with an esky, liquid refreshment, a picnic fit for a king, blanket, sunscreen and a sun tent they head off at lunchtime for their firework fest. They’re hardcore!

Donna Hay’s Ultimate One-Bowl Chocolate Dessert Cake  and I have apoplexy. It looks wet. Very wet. I remember last time I made it, it was too dry and now it’s too wet! Aaargh! I decide to put my faith in Donna, and let the wet cake set in the tin as it cools. I’ll put it in the fridge later and hope it firms up to something more solid. Fingers crossed.

I have no time to plutz about my chocolate cake… it’s time to  do the domestic goddess thingy; washing, ironing and a bit of baking. Tonight we’re going to our friends Tracey and Nick. I know Tracey loves Lokshen Pudding so I faithfully follow my Auntie Sandra’s recipe and chuck that into the oven. This time I use fat pasta and it looks good enough to eat. However, even I know  it’s not the best etiquette to go to dinner with a half eaten cake for desert so I manage to hold back (but only just!) Inbetween, I also throw together some of those Chocolate Shortbread Stars which are Alice’s (Tracey and Nick’s daughter) favourite. However, I forego the stars and get into the spirit of the occasion by making the cookies in the shape of the Harbour Bridge! They look sooo Sydney!

We find some time to go to the shops for some last minute provisions and can’t help but stop off for a big beer at the Bavarian Beer Cafe  on the way! Time flies by and before we know it, it’s time to head off to Tracey and Nick’s. We have a few tense moments trying to wrestle Donna Hay’s Ultimate One-Bowl Chocolate Dessert Cake off the base of the springform tin, and finally, give up and take it, cake, base and all!

North Sydney is a mad house; packed with people, roads closed and all kinds of chaos. There are that many people that it seems like everyone on the planet has decided that Sydney is the place to be on New Year’s Eve.We’re armed with chocolate cake and we’re dangerous. We head directly to Tracey and Nick’s; we do not pass GO and we don’t collect $200 but we do manage to arrive at their place on time and with cake and cookies in tact! Their house is brilliantly located right in front of  the Harbour Bridge with the most breathtaking views. They also have some totally awesome pets, a divine dog called Toby, a cute cat called Danny and the gorgeous guinea pigs, Peaches and Cream! I’m going to be in firework and pet heaven tonight!

There’s champagne, wine, beer, a delicious dinner and lots of cheer. First we watch the 9 o clock fireworks which are mindblowingly good. After the 9pm extravaganza, we take a dessert break  and I can breathe a massive sigh of relief, Donna doesn’t let me down, her Ultimate One-Bowl Chocolate Dessert Cake is sufficiently firm and fudgy, not runny and ridiculous. We then sit back and wait for the midnight firework fest. I’m a bit of a sap and have some trouble staying awake, and almost begin cat yawning which is never a good sign. However, as midnight approaches I get second wind, and perk up significantly. Just as well, because this is one firework fest I don’t want to miss!

Seeing the fireworks so close is totally awesome. They are breathtakingly beautiful and amazingly colourful. They’re the most fantastic fireworks I’ve ever seen! ‘I can’t think of a better way to  kiss 2011 goodbye and say hello to 2012!

2011 has certainly been a real rollercoaster but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. For me, it will always be the year of the Cancer sandwich, but I’ve lived a lot and learnt so much. There have been awesome highs; turning 40, the Biggest Loser Finale, raising $1000 for the Mothers Day Classic and some desperate lows; two cancer diagnoses and  running on empty sans thyroid plus,  lots of wonder and weirdness inbetween. It’s all been good. Of course, I would have preferred to have had a whole healthy year, instead of half of one, but being diagnosed with cancer has quite ironically, given my life a whole heap of purpose and  meaning that it didn’t have before. So I say cheerio to 2011 with mixed feelings but there’s a warm welcome for 2012 which I’m hoping will be packed with good health, good fortune and all good things not just for me, but for all the people I know and love. 365 days of things to look forward to! Bring it on!