Saturday, 27 December 2014

Culture, this year.

This year I have really learned to appreciate different cultures. This occurred to me as we drove home from dinner with my brother's girlfriend's Greek family. The meeting of the families is the prelude to him "putting a ring on it".

I've always had a curiosity about where other people come from - both their family origins and their opinions. This has increased this year. Perhaps the PhD study has really taught me to not assume anything and ask "why" and "how" without judgement. Perhaps its that thing about getting older; it is not that you know more, but that you appreciate what you don't know.

So with a belly full of Greek food lovingly cooked up by the Greek mother in law, and a head full of red wine, I started thinking. I have travelled extensively, but the memories I cherish are those where I have had a meaningful personal exchange with somebody of a different culture.

Sri Lanka - Meeting a Muslim family, being presented with beautifully wrapped gifts of tea. Seeing a traditional Dance.

Turkey - great family-style hospitality in the hotel, with the staff teaching me Turkish words. Getting scrubbed by a big strong Turkish lady in an Hammam. Hearing the strains of the call to Prayer from the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

Singapore - meeting up with my "Singapore family" - the mother and sister of a dear friend of mine. We are the "Ang Mo" family. Ang mo literally translates to "redhead" and is the colloquial term for whitey! I now send text messages to my expat Singaporean friend in "Singlish".

I treasure having friends and adopted family who hail from overseas. It was such an honour to be invited to a friend's Sikh wedding, in a Gurdwara. The reception was held in the Grand Hyatt, but there was Indian music playing on the dance floor. The Bride's mum sang her daughter a traditional Punjabi song, which moved everybody to tears.

We had a dinner with my fella's PhD student's family, from Thailand. They were so proud of their daughter for getting a PhD, so proud of their cuisine, and so grateful to my fella for supervising. They bought wine and cake for the occasion, and took hundreds of "family photos" with us. They insisted we visit them in Bangkok.

Last night, our family finally formally "met" with K's family. This, as I mentioned, is a traditional prelude to betrothal. It was warm and exuberant and we had a wonderful time. My knowledge of 5 words of Greek made them improbably impressed.

So this might all sound a bit twee.

It just makes me really sad when I see, increasingly, xenophobic views being legitimised. The filth that spews from people's mouths (or facebook accounts) in the wake of what we saw in Sydney. It makes me think that people like that really have no experience with people of other culture. I have had a lot of experience with people for my years, both in a private and professional capacity. I can say that the vast majority of my exchanges have been positive. Not all of them have been pleasant, but these less pleasant episodes are instructive.

Off to enzed tomorrow, to see the Fella's family and then do some outdoorsy stuff.

I braved the sales yesterday - I was quite restrained. Got me a new pair of running kicks at 30% off. Also scored a necklace I had my eye on for less than half the original price.

I hope you have all had a great festive period. Hope your NYE is fun.

Have you bought anything in the Sales?
What are you up to on NYE?

Thursday, 25 December 2014

An exmas message.

Howdy, friends!

Just a quick post to say Merry Christmas to you. I hope that you had a lovely day, or at least managed to find some joy, peace and rest in it.

Last night, our family had dinner at Longrain. It was lovely and relatively stress free. My family did not do presents this year, instead being happy with presence.

The fella and I stayed at the Crown Metropol and started the day with a dip in the pool. We had some brekky at the buffet and headed home to the dog, who had been outside overnight. She was glad to see us. We went for a long walk with the dog, outfitted with matching fitbits. A quiet afternoon on the couch with champers, cheese and nap followed.

We have a big family event tomorrow night. We are doing the big meetup with my brother's girlfriend's family. He is likely to put a ring on it (16K worth).

Beforehand, boot camp, then off to brave the sales. I have a shopping list in mind.

On Sunday, we are of to NZ for some time with my fella's family, some hot pools, some hiking and some kayaking.

In work news, I seemed to have scored an ongoing position with the place for which I am currently covering maternity leave.

Again, my very best wishes of the season. Stay safe. Drink the good wine (but don't drive afterward). Love youse lots. x

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Trying to make sense of it all.

This week has been a harrowing one, for Australia, for Pakistan.

We all know about the siege in Sydney. On Monday, Australia watched in horror to the same newsreel repeated all day. Operational tactics rightly dictated that there was very little information disseminated about the siege while it was in progress.

We woke up the next day to images of the police storming the cafe, terrified hostages running from the building, ambulance officers performing CPR. The shocking news that two hostages died. It was heartbreaking watching the news in the morning.

It has taken me a few days to get my head around things.

Basically, it was a bad man doing a bad thing. Bad men often have a rap sheet. There is talk about whether this could have been prevented if he were not out on bail. That's probably a very valid question. I can think of a few instances where bailed or paroled criminals have gone on to commit murder. We could be more swift to incarcerate, or at least watch these people more closely. I would imagine that there would be some logistical issues with that, namely that the jails would be full. We can't pre-emptively jail people before they have been found guilty. That may not even work.

This was an absolutely outrageous act, but fortunately, it is exceedingly rare, compared with most other countries. It is tempting to ask "what did we do wrong", but the better question would be "how can we continue to do right?"

Why is this sort of violent crime against strangers (as opposed to by a partner, that's a different kettle of fish) so rare?

We all remember the horror of the Port Arthur Massacre back in 1996. After the event, then-Prime Minister John Howard very swiftly acted to tightly control access to automatic and semi-automatic weapons. So that deals with the access issue.

We are a relatively wealthy country, and democratic. There is not the gross income inequality we see in North and South America, or Africa.  Nobody needs to commit crime to get enough money to eat or live. There are those who might wish to harm us as a country, and these people are stopped by our functional law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Fear and hate breed violence. We have our share of bigots and xenophobes, but this is counterbalanced by a large part of the community that believe that we do well if we embrace other cultures. Even if we don't embrace, we tolerate happily. We could have felt incredibly helpless as we watched the news on Monday, instead people took action and proclaimed hashtagillridewithyou. Love and compassion are the best antidotes to hate and violence, and we definitely took that route on Monday.

Short of pre-emptively locking up every sociopath, we need to keep up the good work we are doing, and ensure that the social checks are kept in place.

Now, the horrors in Pakistan. 141 people, mostly children, massacred in a school, by the Taliban.

I can't get my head around why anyone would do that.

__________________________________

Christmas is almost upon us.
We are having a family event on Christmas eve. Christmas day, it is just the two of us - members of my family have work or other events. We haven't had any invitations. I felt quite sad about that. I had been hoping that there may be a little one around to spoil next Christmas, but what will be will be, and hoping too hard will put too much pressure on things.

I have embraced the situation by reserving us a night in a hotel in the city for christmas, with a big buffet breakfast. Then in the evening we will drink wine and eat cheese. It will be a day of rest, we are both pooped. We are off to NZ after Christmas, and we are immensely looking forward to it.

The events of this week have reminded me to be grateful for the wonderful people that I have around me.

If we don't talk before, a safe and blessed festive period to you and yours.



Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Once. Sussan 10km fun run - Belated Report.

I am sitting on my couch, making a half-arsed attempt at chapter 2 of my thesis. It is nearly finished. But I handed in a draft of Chapter 1 a week or two ago! Wahooo!

In honesty I am feeling like I've been hit by a truck today. Really tired, a bit dizzy when I stand up. Was a big day yesterday.

Last night, we saw the show Once, which is a multi-award winning musical that I didn't know much about before, other than I had heard it was good.  The film (which I haven't seen) was from about 8 years ago. The story is set in Dublin and it is a simple, beautiful and restrained love story. The production was simple and pared back. The stage was set like a pub. The chorus/characters all sang and danced while they played instruments. This was not the usual highly produced musical. The music was a mix of exuberant Irish songs and love songs. The main song, Falling Slowly, has won an Oscar. Have a gander Here.



Those of you who are my friends on Crackbook will know that I ran the Sussan 10km fun run on Sunday. Click away now if run reports bore you!

I was up at 5:30, an ungodly hour for God's day of rest. I heard the rain falling heavily on my roof and pondered how the term "fun" run might not be applicable here. For five of the twenty minutes I had to get ready, I pondered how I might pike out of the event. However I was going with some other girls in my training group and I didn't want to let them down so off I went.

There were thousands of sprightly women crowded in St Kilda at that ungodly hour, waiting to start. We were given tribute cards to pin to our backs - it was a run supporting breast cancer research. It was really sad to see some of the tributes - mums, sisters, aunties, some of them having passed quite young. I felt acutely grateful for my good health, and had a surreptitious grope of my boosies to check there were no lumps and made a mental note to check them more thoroughly at the appropriate time.

I had not been attached to a particular race time, as I had just learned a new running technique and wanted to see how that might play out over the course of 10km. I focussed on form, and set out. I got to 3km and was about 2 minutes faster than my goal pace.

I did my usual mid run panic at about 4-5 km "I can't keep this up", but I kept it up, cheering on other women. One was running to celebrate her 40th birthday and had this marked on a cape and balloon she ran with. The rain was not too much of a problem, but the wind was a bit bothersome. However, we had a good tailwind on the final stretch.

I was feeling good after 9km so I picked it up for the last k, passing a few other women. I bought it home in 68 minutes, the fastest I had run in 3 and a half years and about 4 minutes faster than my previous run! My personal best time is 66:55, so I am not too far off chasing another PB!

I am certainly not about to break any land speed world records. Running, for me, is about learning to be happy with what I can do, not comparing myself to anybody else, believing in myself, and hanging in there when it gets hard. All good things for me.

We are on the fast road into Christmas, now. Next week will be the last full working week before the silly season. I have lots of events on.

Et Tu? How are you managing to find a balance in this frenetic season?
Any big events/things planned?
Spill!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Research Rage. Thoughts on Christmas.

Well hello there from under a new government!

Yes the libs took a bit of a hiding. Some commentators are saying that this wasn't a backlash regarding the federal budget and the electorate knows the difference between federal and state issues but I disagree. It was a retaliatory bitch-slap; I think Victorians, particularly the urbanites, are a more left leaning bunch than average. The Greens got a lower house seat and will get some upper house seats.

My colleague, a card-carrying Liberal party member, said that the recent Lib government did not achieve much. That says a lot, I think.

Having said all this I don't know how much better Mr. Andrews is going to fare, or how he will weasel his way out of the East West link palaver unscathed. I am undecided on the EW link, but believe that we need better public transport. The population has grown but the PT infrastructure hasn't really.

I would like to see the Ambos paid as much as their interstate counterparts, though.

Ok enough about that.

It's been a bit of a bleh week here. A few general stressors have come up, most of which I shall not bore you with here, and they are firmly in the realm of "first world issues".

But I will have a rant about this.

I put a paper in for a conference in Boston. I specified "oral presentation only", not poster. I don't really want to go around the world lugging a poster that I will stand beside and nobody will look at. It's a bit of a let-down.

I got an email on Tuesday - the bastards gave me a poster presentation. That just shat me.

I think of my research as kind of like my baby. If somebody does not give it the respect (I feel) it deserves, I become cross. Because a lot of blood sweat and tears went into it.

Also, it plays on the fear of "maybe it just isn't good enough".

Although looking at the program, all the big-shots with the big studies are giving the talks. I just have to suck it up and stand meekly beside my poster and hope somebody takes an interest.

Gotta have a tough hide in this game.

Aaaand enough about that too.

Last week I did 1 on 1 running technique session with a former Olympian, who did a video analysis of my running, and gave me some tips to improve. I am now running about, imagining a plank of 4 by 2 on my chest, and trying to hold it up. It's interesting. I shall be trying it out at a fun run I'll be doing on the weekend.

Christmas preps will be mercifully absent this year. My family have decided to go a "no presents" year, and we are going out together to a nice restaurant on Xmas eve. I still get the heebies going around shopping centres, and feel very overwhelmed. Even though Christmas is a more enjoyable time of the year now more than ever, I have memories of fairly sad Christmases, which I am shaking off. Keeping things simple seems to work. It will be great when (hopefully) I have a little 'un for everybody to spoil; Christmas really is all about the kids.

And what about you guys?
Share your rant here? Can be anything. No judgement here.
How do you feel about Chrissy? Excited? Nonplussed? Fearful?

Monday, 24 November 2014

Slow, but not over.

Hiya.

The time spent at my computer is being increasingly devoted to scholarly pursuits.
My brain power is being increasingly focussed on writing my thesis. Next year may bring more gainful employment, and hence there is a lot of pressure to work faster on the PhD.

So I am going to apologise and say that the blog posts may be a bit few and far between for the next little while.

I will be posting when big inspiration takes hold, or if there are any big/interesting events. Or if I wish to post a picture of something pretty.

But I still very much enjoy reading your blogs, and will comment.

I consider you my friends and will share your colour, ups, downs, house renovations and your quest to find pleasure in the little things. I will remain out-n-about on social media. I won't be far away.

All the very best in preparation for a wonderful festive season.
Big hugs and much love
C xxxxx

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Goody 2 shooz.

Greetings, interweb friends!

I've been rather slackola on the bloggy front of late, but I've been very good in other aspects of my life....

Lately, if a day goes by where I don't run, I crave it. The thing I like doing at the moment, run wise, is going to Prinny park and doing a Fartlek session (it has nothing to do with botty toots). And, as with everything, there is an app for that. I am also actually enjoying my group sessions and look forward to them.

Must be the time of the year, with the weather improving.

I have performed a hardcore declutter (to borrow from FF) of my wardrobe and drawers. I can actually find stuff now.

I have been eating my veggies.

I expanded my cooking repertoire into Fillo Pastry.

Behold my spanakopita, full of green goodness.







I have taken the advice of a professorly type and been doing the "small amounts frequently" thing on the thesis. I have put a fixed time goal on the first chapters of the thesis (Dec 3). Might have to tee myself up a special reward for it.

I have even cut back on the wine. Quite substantially. And feeling better for it.

I have been loving the guts off this stuff:


image from coles online. No artificial sweetener.

I have been appreciating the abundance of spring.



However the goodness went out the window today - we went to Taste of Melbourne for some good food and drink, and plenty in the way of champers.





At the back was the dish of the day- the soft shell crab souvlaki from the Gazi stand. I have never been able to get into Gazi, so it was great to try some of their food. In front is a braised wallaby bun!

We saw a whole lamb being butchered ("oh, so that's where those chops come from").
It's good to have a feel for the provenance of the produce, is it not?

Ok so there was also good food had last night. I have been a bit obsessed with all things mozzarella/ bocconcini at the moment. But the king of them all is burrata. Like a sac of creamy milky goodness.

Here is a gnocchi dish I ate last night, with Burrata.





The sac was cut open and all the runny cheesy goodness leached out into the tomato sauce. Very simple and very good!

But it's back on the straight and narrow tomorrow....

Meanwhile, we have been in full spin mode with the state election in Victoria. Pretty much all of the ads have been focussed on lambasting other parties rather than what the party can offer. It's just a race to the bottom, mostly. Though the Greens look like they might nab a few lower house seats in the inner city, unless the dirty preference deals between the major parties scupper them.

ugh...
off to beddy-byes....


What about you? What have you been obsessed with lately? 
And what good habits have you adopted?

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Less meh, more vegies. Adult acne.

Hi All.

My Meh of last week has settled and I am feeling a bit more raring to go.
I have started project "optimum health for hopefully getting up the duff (and also for me)".

I do 3 by group training sessions a week, but have started doing a couple of other 0.5-1 hour workouts per week as well. Hence my exercise is very good.

Eating optimally (and drinking wine judiciously) is a bit more of a challenge. I thought "I know what to do" but I went and picked the brain of a dietitian at work. She showed me the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. She also encouraged the cut right back on wine thing, and finally, I have.

Here is what one should be eating.

And Here are the serving sizes - I draw your attention to a serve of cooked pasta being half a cup!

The most challenging thing, and the thing I have been concentrating on, is getting the five serves of vegetables in! The thing with eating more veg is that it is completely non-controversial - there is lots of quibbling about other diet related things but just about everyone in the know agrees on this!

If those 5 serves were all potatoes, I would have no problem, I think.

It is quite sobering to think of how our usual dietary patterns deviate from this, even if we think we eat reasonably well.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I am clearly going through my awkward phase from 12-45. I have experienced a surge in what can only be described as zits.

I had pretty bad acne which was at its worst around age 17. It kept potentially interested boy-folk away so that I could study. A blessing in disguise. I have always been glass half full.

Much of the more effective vitamin A based stuff is off limits for me. My skin gets a bit oily but is still very sensitive, and that benzoyl peroxide based stuff just about burns my face off.

I saw an infomercial about this, so I went and got a starter kit from Woolies. It retails for 30 bux.

Image via Terry White Chemists.


It is based on salicylic and glycolic acids. It is a wee bit drying, but less so than other acne treatments. If my skin gets a bit dry I skip straight from the cleanser to the repair cream. My skin looks a bit glowy after I put it all on.

So far, so good.

Sundee night, big week ahead.

So tell me....
Do you have the worst case scenario of wrinkles and zits or are you blessed with baby skin?
What skin products do you swear by?
How well does your dietary intake match with the official recommendations? (Fess up, no judgement here)

Saturday, 1 November 2014

All the pretties (Or: A remedy for meh)

Harro!

Things have been chugging along in life quite uneventfully, which is great.

I have been feeling a bit "meh" though, for various reasons.

That is a feeling of "meh" is neither good nor bad. It's okay, I'm okay! Things don't have to be ecstatic and exciting all the time. However, it is particularly now that I try and take pleasure in the smaller things.

Like having my family over in our backyard for a barbecue last weekend. Bella had her first canine visitor, and the two dogs did happy laps in the backyard. The weather was beautiful.

Our garden, like the whole neighbourhood, is bursting forth with blooms in a rather riotous fashion.






And, for the first time since I was about, I don't know, 4, I picked a posy, and did some floristry. Behold.




I had been procrastinating about getting my hair done, but went and attended it on Thursday. I had a lovely wander about South Melbourne. I had some lunch alfresco at the South Melbourne Market.





I had a Paella Valenciana. Having been to Valencia, I can say that this Paella was better. Al dente grains of rice, a flavoursome base and tender chicken and seafood. The only thing missing was a squeeze of lemon to cut through the richness and match the seafood. It tasted all the better for it being consumed outside on a nice day.

I bought a little trinket - the Misuzi bar necklace, in gold (image courtesy of misuzi.com.au)


I was very thrilled to learn that the little shop I bought it from (Mr. Darcy on Coventry St in South Melbourne) is one frequented by one Asher Keddie!

I have been to a couple of hens parties recently. For one of them, I donned a frock that I won from a competition on the blog iCurvy back in June. I got to pick one of three dresses (here) hand made to measure by  Audrey Lane (or more correctly the designer Ann Martin). She specialises in whimsical tea dresses which fit and flatter all shapes. I have to say, I am not really a girly-girl, but I felt really special in this dress, like I walked straight off the set of Mad Men, and also felt the need to twirl in it.

See? Made for twirling in!


It was comfortable, flattering and fit beautifully. It is a thick cotton, well made, and was firm enough to smooth bumpy bits. I wore it with some plain pointed black heels, and minimal accessories. Red lippy was mandatory. I picked the dress because of the beautiful lace detail.

Ann was lovely and helpful to deal with, and she rechecked all of my measurements (some I gave were dodgy). The dress came quickly, the delay was in me finding the appropriate location to wear it.

I might just have to take it out dancing next time. Or to a garden wedding.  Or I could work it back with a black jacket and heels to wear to work.

Had I been interested in horse racing, I could've worn it to Derby day yesterday, the theme colours there being black and white. The people watching on the train into town was, as my mate FF would say "11/10". There was lots of bare skin on show, and the weather was a quite chilly; there might have been some frostbite occurring!

Now I am going to do some hardcore decluttering of my wardrobe (there using FF parlance again). I have the first world issue of a jammed closet and not a thing to wear. I have a colleague who has had a very rough last 2 years, culminating in some major surgery. I am going to weed out some stuff that I don't wear and she might like, to hopefully up her mojo. She deserves it.

I am looking forward to having a short, broken week, on account of cup day. I plan to write an abstract (like a precis of a full scientific paper) to submit to a conference. Here is hoping for some writing inspiration!

What have you got on for the week? Anything exciting? Tell me!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

A belated conversation

Like my bloggy mates H and FF, I have been lacking in the blogging mojo department recently. My facebook statuses are a bit few and far between as well, unless it is something shared, a talking point.

Perhaps it is that being outdoors is so lovely at this time of year?

Walking through my 'hood is a real treat at this time of year. There are lots of lovely established rose bushes in people's front gardens. I have been performing an olfactory survey of all of the roses. Some of them look pretty but have no smell. Some of them, like the peachy ones with the pink bits at the end of the petal (not the botanic name) smell divine. We have some in our front garden; our cleaners prune a few buds and put them in a vase for me to sniff regularly. Perhaps encouraged by green thumbed bloggy friends, I am starting to appreciate having a garden.

Also I have been thinking about things that might be a bit boring and or repetitive for the blog.

But there has been a bit happening elsewhere in the world to talk about.

Like Gough Whitlam.

He was only PM for three years, and before I was even born. Though I never had any experience of his leadership and no feel for the type of man he was, I know I am a beneficiary of what he achieved in his time. Somebody from my background would not have been able to do what I have done without his legacies, and I am acutely aware that it is getting harder for people coming from more modest backgrounds to achieve what they want.

I was talking with an older colleague about him the other day. My colleague, who is quite conservative politically, was quite generous in his praise of Gough Whitlam. My colleague was of the era that he could just as easily have been packed off to fight in Vietnam, rather than having a wildly successful career in business and finance before becoming a doctor and being very contented. He was glad when Gough ended conscription. He said that Australia become a bolder   and more confident nation after Gough's time; perhaps inspired by making sweeping changes that would have been considered quite shocking and foolhardy at the time.

Yet all we hear about is the assorted gaffes of the politicians, and failed reforms. I have a friend whose husband is a politician. We don't hear about his good, steady work behind the scenes. Our view of politicians is shaped entirely by the media.

But that will do about that....

Bella the dog's personality is coming out more by the week. She sleeps on the couch at night. When I get up, I find her coiled up in a snail position on the couch. I greet her, and I get only a side-eye in acknowlegement (perhaps she is not a morning dog). I can only lure her outside with soup bones; no dog treats or dry dog food will work. And she is starting to get me figured out.

When I get home, she greets me with a waggy tail, then sits on the couch with me for a quiet cuddle. When my fella gets home, she bounces about like a loony, and they play their wrestling game. They have it choreographed quite well.They are best mates. The dog has improved my fella's stress levels quite considerably.

She likes to do crazy happy-laps in the backyard. She will get an old bone from her stash and throw it up in the air with her teeth. Funnily, she does not do ball games.

She loves to shake hands too. She is scared of most visitors, but we are getting visitors to hand-feed her dog treats. Maybe she will learn that humans are good.

But most importantly, it's Friday! It's going to be a good weekend! A cooking class, a hens' night and a family barbecue is lined up. All the weekends in November have big events in them too. I have to find time to re-curate my wardrobe, having performed a de-clutter of the garage with my fella.

Tell me, what are you doing this weekend?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Mindfulness, the cilosophy way.

Perhaps mercifully I have not been internet shopping and have nothing to show you.

Actually that's probably a lie; nothing has tickled my fancy enough to want to buy it.

Today comes another navel-gazing post. Well not navel gazing. Quite the opposite.

In order to get my body ready for being a  sacred vessel of the wonder of new life(?!), I have had to make some changes to medications. That finely tuned neurotransmitter and hormone balance that keeps me well and functioning has been upset, and other things need to be brought in to maintain that balance.

Don't worry! I am ok! Thankyou for asking!

I am exercising regularly. I have cut back on alcohol. I wear clean undies and wash behind my ears.

One of the things I have been encouraged to practice is mindfulness. It is a cognitive therapy based on Buddhist meditation.

Imagine you get a bothersome and unpleasant thought in your head. It could be reality based.
The thought becomes bigger and darker.
It becomes so real. It is like that thing you thought about is actually occurring.
You get the physical signs of that thing actually occurring. The breathing quickens, the pulse quickens and becomes palpable. You feel sick, or can't sleep.

Thing is, it's not actually happening. In fact, 90% of the unpleasant thoughts and worries don't actually occur. If you are thinking about an unpleasant thing from the past, it is just that: past. It is not the here and now.

Cognitive behavioural therapy gets us to challenge the beliefs that occur as a result of these thoughts. I can be quite good at that.

Mindfulness gets us to stop the thought. Hold on for a minute, without judgement or letting it affect you too badly. Then let it go. Return to the here and now, mainly by concentrating on your internal signals like your breath, and your surroundings.

I actually find concentrating on the breath quite anxiety provoking, to be honest, but the theory is good. I am told it actually helps with frontal lobe function (that bit of your brain that carries on higher functions like planning).

The here and now is actually not at all threatening.
My situation at the moment, my life, is actually....really really good. I need to go back to that.

Here is a link to some short mindfulness exercises from the black dog institute - anyone can try them.

Do you meditate? How do you go with it?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Not making dreams my master.

Howdy!

So I have gone from light, shopping related posts to an introspective one here.
One never knows what I might come out with.

It must be that time of the year where I hear every few days that somebody is pregnant. A close girlfriend of mine is about 14 weeks.

I am thrilled and excited for these people, but part of me gets a little jealous. Exactly the same as in this post.

I have a bad case of preggy-envy.

Now that the...ahem...trying..is going on, there are certain other things that are occuring within me.

I think about babies quite a lot. It's not a mournful thing. I just have to catch myself.

I am making plans based on being pregnant within a certain period of time.

I catch myself deferring things "in case" I get pregnant.

That is not the path I want to go down.

I came to thinking about this stanza from my favourite poem, If.

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;



I must continue to live my life unashamedly. The path to mumma may well be long or beset with trouble. I can't make dreams my master. As somebody clever once told me, I have to trust in the process.


So I will submit that abstract to present in Boston next year.
And I have registered for the 10km fun run in December with the aim of improving my time.
And I will continue to try and build my private practice.


And I will just try and be patient, and live fully.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Cilla wants.

Continuing on with the theme of the last dress, I have been looking for an occasion dress (I've a few weddings coming up).

I want this one!

It's the Atiya dress from Coast.

I am thinking nude heels and diamante earrings. What say you?

I went to the Bill Bailey concert last night.

Bill Bailey is the funniest and cleverest man in the world. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. He poked fun at our government, he told funny long winded stories, did interpretive dance and sang Abba's "Waterloo" in the style of Rammstein. In German.

I think I have a bit of a crush....

I am now trying to write a talk for a presentation I am giving on the weekend.
I agreed to it 6 months ago.
I know.
No good deed unpunished.

I am running the 10 km event in the Melbourne Marathon event this weekend. I have a bit of a dicky calf. Fingers and toes crossed for me, 'kay?

I am procrastinating....
better apply nose to grindstone....


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Impulse buy(s)

There is this clothing/accessories/lifestyle shop near where I live, it is called ili (I love it). It is owned by a woman who is a stylist. She stocks lots of Australian brands like Sacha Drake, Mesop, Elk, Walnut, Nicole Fendel etc.

She also stocks a label called nancybird. Nina from Offspring wore a lot of the clothes and Accessories.

I have been there to look around and have a chat with the saleslady a few times, but never felt confident to buy anything. Today, I bought this. It's silk. Look:

Image courtesy of the-dispensary.com.au.

I shall style it with some grey skinny jeans and sandals. Or blue/indigo jeans.
Or with a straight skirt for work.

Also, I have a few weddings coming up. Any good ideas of where to get formal-ish dresses?

I quite like this frock from DeCjuba. It would look good with a gold belt. But it might be a bit bright.

I generally love garments that you can throw on and feel fab. That can be dressed up or down. I bought this from Katies a couple of weeks ago, after I saw it on Sonia Styling.


image via Sonia Styling (who is on my blogroll - she is a babe)


How would you style these? 
Any good buys you wish to talk about? Brag here!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Wedding dilemma update.

I touched base with my friend who gave the wedding invite.
The invite was for me alone. The only reason why she did not invite my partner was due to numbers limitations at the venue. She was super apologetic and said that if other invitees don't come, that he would be first on the list. My fella is super understanding about this also.

You've probably all heard about the sad and frightening events in the south-east of Melbourne recently. There is probably very little I could write about it that hasn't already been covered in detail, but it makes me sad.

There is a lot that is confusing about it. How could this boy, who has spent most of his life in Australia and with fairly limited life experience, developed such hateful views. Was he ill, psychotic, drug-addled?

What did he think he was doing, rushing at an armed pair of police officers with a knife? Was he thinking of martyrdom? Was he thinking at all?

The fallout is already occurring. People protesting Islamophobia. A poor lady (presumably a hijab-wearer) had her head slammed against a train carriage. What a hateful, filthy act.

Religious Muslim women are often targeted; their faith is patently obvious. It's ironic that they don't seem to be the ones fighting the holy war. Islamophobia meets misogyny, perhaps.

Phrases like "high alert" and "be vigilant" and "increased security" are bandied about in the media. Fear makes the community like decisive action from hard-liners. We send military might into the disaster area, with no clear endpoint.

And what worries me is that our hard line leaders start looking like good blokes, much like George W. Bush did in 2003. "You are either with us, or against us" he said.

I don't have a solution here, but I do worry about the way things are headed.

I suppose climate change and a $7 medicare surcharge are a little moot if we all feel we are under threat of being blown to smithereens.

I have seen very simple but very powerful instances of kindness, compassion and tolerance between cultures and religions. Can we not start with this?

Anyway that's my slightly addled thoughts for the evening. I have been having terrible tension headaches recently and my scalp and back are sore. I might take my achy carcass to bed.

I hope you are all well, and that you are blessed and stay safe x

And thankyou to all those that visit and comment; I don't often reply but I love reading them and receiving them. Thankyou for listening. Link to your blog if you have one, and I will come visit.

Monday, 22 September 2014

A rant, a dilemma and a miscellany.

Howdy!

First the Miscellany.

I went to rAdelaide for my conference. The conference was great; there were good practical things I learned which will change my practice (or at least stop me from looking at my junior blankly when they speak of a new medication).

I stayed in the Hilton Hotel and I recommend it. Those who follow @cillajean79 (think most of the readers of this blog do) on Instagram will have seen the view from my room.

I would love to travel a bit more around Adelaide, namely to the Barossa and other great food and wine regions, and to Kangaroo Island. To have a Bacchanalian road trip!

I got to meet the gorgeous Heidi of Adelaide Villa. Lovely to see you H!

I ran a 10km fun run on Sunday. Lovely day to run on the banks of the Yarra.

Now the Rant.

I am at a ranty time of the month.

Is it just me? Have found that my PMS is getting worse as I get older. Or perhaps I just have better insight into my peaks and troughs as I age.

Being the scientist that I am, I had a thought about it. My amateur reproductive physician view is this:

We spend most of our (reproductive) lives bathed in lady-hormones. These add to the milieu that allows us to nurture children etc. It's for the sake and safety of the species.

By and large, I am a fairly patient person. Forebearant. I have learned to let small annoyances go, and bite my tongue. I will go out of my way for people.

1-2 days per month I have far less tolerance for fuckwittage. I still bite my tongue but it gets harder to do so. I may well up in tears. The impulse to take to inanimate objects with a blunt objects is strong. That's the time when those lady-hormones are at their nadir. If I am not being annoyed, I am fine.

So basically that time is not one where we are more bitchy, but one where we are far less inclined to deal with the shit that we usually encounter with a smile and good humour.

Amirite, Ladies?

Now the Dilemma.

I have a work friend who is getting married. She is going the whole hog. Designer dress, great location, even employed a wedding stylist. It's a big deal. That's her prerogative.

She has spoken about having to limit her numbers, given that the price per head for the reception is high. There are people in our workplace who may not be receiving an invite (haven't scoped it out yet). I had not expected an invite. When she was explaining the cost and need to limit numbers I told her it was ok not to invite me (then gave her advice regarding cheaper catering and spit roasts).
 
The invite came, but only my name was on it. Do I presume the invite is just for me, not my partner? That is what I thought...

She has only met him a handful of times, too.

I respect her right to invite who she wants, and am happy for the invite. I have not yet raised it with my fella.


You already know my view on what wedding I would want; an inclusive one. Kids too. It's a celebration of love, after all.

What is your view on the etiquette of wedding invitatitions?

PMS...yay or nay?


What did you get up to this past weekend?


Monday, 15 September 2014

Domesticity. Soothing banalities.

Hey there.

Melbourne is in that phase of glorious then foul spring weather. We are currently in the foul stage. Should come good this weekend.

I will be off to Adelaide tomorrow, for a conference. Looking forward to it. Good to have my brain fed.

I suppose that this is a late "what I did on the weekend" post. After all the gallavanting and glam of Singapore, I think the fella and I really just craved a bit of time in our new home, tending to it, basking in it. Just doing some normal, simple things.

Saturday I went to my old mate, Princes Park, and did a couple of laps (2.6 to be more precise, about 8.3km). It was the longest run I had done in a while, it was as slow as all get out but I enjoyed being out in the fresh air and sunshine. My other old friends.

I saw the movie "Predestination", with Ethan Hawke and an Aussie newbie, Sarah Snook, who was brilliant. It was an absorbing movie, very original. I recommend it.

Sunday was spent on domestic duties.

I don't consider myself a domestic goddess in the slightest however I am slowly getting more domesticated.

I even did GARDENING.

I know. I don't know myself either.

I spent an hour and a half pulling weeds and giving the shrubs and roses crew cuts. That's 85 minutes longer than I've ever spent on gardening in the past. Who knew decapitating shrubs could be so therapeutic! I have sore forearms from using the clippers vigorously.

Then after all that exertion, I went and did some cooking. We massaged some spices into a pork shoulder the night before, then put it into a slow cooker on the Sunday. The result was some very tasty pulled pork. This was served up for dinner when some friends came over.

Also cooked was a guacamole and some fresh tomato salsa.

For dessert, we had a chocolate, chilli and tequila cake. The recipe is here. You can't really taste much or any tequila in the recipe.

It is a really easy cake to make and I recommend it. It has a truckload of butter in it.

Yesterday was quite a draining day at work. Usually such a thing would send me ranting to whoever would listen, or into the chocolate/wine. Instead, I got home, and without even sitting down, I started on dinner. After about 10 minutes I forgot about my day. I find cooking tasks quite absorbing and often quite calming.

I am still quite happy to palm off the dishes to my fella though.

What is your favourite and least favourite domestic task?
What is the weather like where you live?
Do you have a super easy and impressive recipe that you use? If so, share.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Singapore. Segue to thoughts about weddings.

It's been a little while.
It's mainly that I hate typing on my iPad. I am home, with a proper keyboard, so here it is.

Heyyyyyy!

We just got back this morning. I can definitively say that a night flight (and the time traipsing around town awaiting said night flight) is far less stressful when one has had an upgrade to business class. Emirates do it well; they chuck in a transfer to and from the airport. Noice.

The purpose of our trip was to attend the wedding of one of my fella's colleagues. With the added benefits of being in Singapore. Which means good food, great shopping, great people watching, staying in a nice hotel with a pool and jacuzzi and oh, good food. It was nice to get warmed up after a cold winter and a halting start to spring.

I have been to Singapore a few times. It has a few memories, including some bittersweet ones. It was great to create some new memories of Singapore with my fella.

Memories of lounging by the pool, partaking of the pool bar (can still not abide drinks in plastic cups). Reading books on a banana lounge (thanks for the Burial Rites rec K!) Books are far more enjoyable when read by a pool, while drinking a drink from a plastic cup and being caressed by a warm breeze.

Memories of looking at ALL THE SHOPS and ALL THE THINGS! I find the window shopping both exciting and overwhelming. So much choice! I didn't buy a lot, just jumped on the "shooties" (half boot half peeptoe shoe) bandwagon finally. I was quite restrained. I am finally getting into a "don't buy it unless you love it" frame of mind.

Memories of doing a bus tour of Singapore. The fella loves those city bus tours. I am a convert. The cheesier, the better. Plus good to learn trivia.

Gustatory memories of the Food! Chilli crab. Black pepper crab! Salted egg yolk crab! Working hard to get all the sweet crab flesh and getting your fingers sticky in the process.

The Assam Laksa. The curry!

The yummy brekkies. Gotta love a brekky buffet. This one had fried chicken in it. This may be a controversial call, but I like fried chicken better than I like bacon, unless said bacon is very good bacon.

And there seems to be a bit of a trend toward Fries with Truffle aioli. I can taste it now. The culinary equivalent of world peace.

The peking duck pancakes, at Fatty Weng restaurant. Washed down with Tiger Beer. Singapore has great beer weather and Tiger Beer with Singaporean food is a great match.

Anyway enough about food, I'm getting hungry and I am on a post holiday detox.

Most holidays involve a touch of the local culture (as I am a classy sheila). We went to the Peranakan Museum. You can learn more about the Peranakan culture here. They gave the world Laksa. So said one of my Peranakan friends when I first met him.

The Arts and Sciences museum  near Marina Bay Sands was hosting an Annie Leibovitz photography exhibition. One of the most iconic photography "voices" of our time. She took the famous pic of a nude, pregnant Demi Moore.

And the wedding. As per Singaporean tradition, the wedding took place over several days and events, with multiple bridal costume changes. It was a lovely wedding, in the way all weddings are lovely. The bride looked beautiful.  I really was honoured to be included. The food was amazing, and the view was even better.

That sounded all a bit...trite.

Weddings are a bit of a bittersweet thing for me. First there is the thing about marriage being forever, how that stings when you have had a marriage fail.

The inevitable memories of your own wedding.

I also wonder whether the true emotion, love and joy behind a wedding gets lost in all the pomp and ceremony. Or is that just me? I hope the bride and groom had those great emotions in amongst the mandatory busy-ness of the period leading up to the wedding. I am sure they did.

The fella and I have talked about getting married. Both of us have been married before. Both of us have a little ambivalence about it. It's not off the cards, just not officially on them. We have committed in the second strongest way one can (the buying of real estate) and are planning an even bigger commitment.

We have agreed that, if we do get married, there will be no white wedding. No minister. There will be great music, with lots of dancing. Probably a Mariachi band and a Salsa instructor. There will be good wine and lots of meat, on a spit. Kids will be invited, as watching kids dance is wonderful. Minimal speeches, as we both do enough talking in our jobs.

Or equally we could just bugger off to Las Vegas and do it in a Klassy way.

Having said all this, I am not averse to diamonds. Some of the fella's colleagues (he works with a few wonderful women) have taken it upon themselves to see that one is forthcoming for me. So they told me over dinner and a few wines at the hen's night.

God love them.

Anyway that is enough ramblings.

What about you...
Fried chicken for breakfast? Yay or nay?
Bacon? Crispy or not?
Where do you stand on the topic of weddings? 
Favourite Asian country? 
Do you like Laksa.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Slackarse

Well I have had all of these great blog post ideas but I just have not gotten around to writing a post, hence my usual brain dump of miscellania.

Last weekend, I went out to a hen's night of a colleague of my fella's. It was lovely of her to include me. It was in St Kilda, so a sassy girls night outfit had to be arranged. I duly got all sequinned, skinny jeaned, ghd-ed, smokey eyed and generally gussied up. Yet I forgot to take a selfie (if a fab outfit isn't selfied, did it occur, I wonder?). So I went into the toilet at the restaurant with my phone to take said selfie and ...WHOOPS....my phone did a dunny duck dive.

And died.

This, people, is the price of vanity.

The rice trick did not work.

Anyway I was forced to spend NEARLY 48 HOURS without a phone.

I actually found it quite liberating.

That Sunday, I took the train into the city, and was forced to actually sit and notice things. Like how good some of the graffiti is on buildings near the train line. And how many people sit looking at their phones. And how leggings do not do as trousers under anything shorter than a dress. And how the ladies with the best style are usually those who appear over 40. Imagining some gangly young men and women of about 16 or 17 all grown up and looking stunning.

As my eyes were peeled, I managed to scope out a dress for a couple of more formal wedding parties that I am attending...





I bought this one. It is a bit Downton Abbey and quite pretty on. I have some art-deco style accessories that I will wear with it. Plus I bought some sparkly heeled sandals to wear. All on sale! Bargasms!

The work week was fairly standard, the usual ups and downs. Last week, one of the secretaries where I work accidentally deleted my dictated letters from the dictaphone. She was super apologetic. I was all like "it's ok, really"; it rates fairly low on my inconvenience/annoyance list. This week she bought me a powerball ticket to say sorry. I was all like "you didn't need to"....

Well I believe I have won myself $43!!

It should be a good weekend!

We are off to the day wedding of this couple on Saturday. Next week we are off to Singapore for some R and R, but also to attend their proper wedding (and don my nice pink dress). Looking forward to it.

What would you spend a $43 windfall on?
How would you style this dress?

Monday, 18 August 2014

Taking stock....

I think this is a good theme for my post as it sums up what I have been thinking the last day or so....

As somebody who has had to tame the black dog, I have had to learn to catch myself out of negative thoughts about myself.

I was always taught to be humble, a little self deprecating; I think a lot of us have been taught not to toot our horn too loud. Yet I took that to heart. Thoughts that would start innocently enough, but would be so frequent and magnified, then they would be internalised and taken as God's truth without a single challenge.

I have learned a lot about mindfulness, and catching and letting go of unhelpful thoughts.

Better yet, though, would I dare think something nice about myself?

Could I catch and keep hold of a good thought about myself?

So I gave myself a challenge today. Think of five good things about myself. It was not a comfortable thing to think about, but here they are.


1. I make people laugh.

I am the queen of irreverent and inappropriate humour.  Get a couple of wines in me, and I am even better.

2. I give a shit.

I am a caring person. If I see somebody floundering, I will ask them about it and try my best to help. If I see your child about to swallow something they shouldn't, I will let you know (it takes a community to raise a child). I will give a person a hug if they look like they need one.

3. I am not afraid (anymore) to be myself.

We can only really be ourselves; to be anything else is very difficult and tiring. I used to show bits of myself then worry incessantly that people didn't like me. Then I would apologise and vet my behaviour.

With maturity, I have learned that there are times when I need to shut my gob, let it go to the keeper, but as a general rule I can be myself and people will like me for it (and people won't - their loss).

4. I am good at drawing.

And painting. I showed a bit of aptitude at high school but gave it away for more scholarly pursuits. It is a talent I would like to embrace a little more, train a little more.

5. I know a little bit about lots of things.

I think it's important to take an interest in things. If something piques my interest, I will look it up on wikipedia. Apart from 1970s bands and footy stats, I would be quite good on your pub quiz team.

~~~~~~~~~
The other thing I need to take stock of, I feel, is my spending. To be clear, I don't spend more than I earn, but money can burn a hole in my pocket and I tend to spend it on clothes and shoes. Fine feathers make the bird, as I said last post. However, more stuff does not a happy person make, and I would like to be a little more mindful about what discretionary purchases I make. It is far too easy to go shopping. In fact, I just did, which is what prompted this post (plus the fact they had 25% off shoes I had my eyes on....)

So as a first step, I got a (free) app to monitor incomings and outgoings....particularly these discretionary purchases. It might just get me thinking a little more before I buy.


Sooo, what about you?
Here is your opportunity to toot your horn - tell me some awesome things about yourself. Let's cheer each other on.
Any budgeting tips to share with me?



Saturday, 16 August 2014

Unlock Your Style book launch

Happy Sunday, lovelies!

I was lucky enough to get a spot at the Unlock Your Style book launch, and meet the beautiful author, Nikki Parkinson. Also I got to meet the gorgeous Carly, of Smaggle.

If you looked up the word Charming in the dictionary, you would see a pic of these two ladies.

The message was very much that every woman deserves to feel good about themselves.

There are so many messages out there, both implicit and explicit, that try to make women feel less than gorgeous, that they must improve on something. Multi-million dollar businesses are predicated on making us feel needful of something, or feel inferior. If you don't believe me, just look at a few ads and think about what they imply. But I digress.

Nikki breaks down the method to looking and feeling fabulous into something that all of us can confidently and simply achieve. It's about wearing things because they give you mojo, or boom chicka wah wah, and if they don't, they don't deserve to be taking up valuable real estate in your closet (or money out of your account).

It's also about looking after your skin, and how a bit of simple makeup can lift you into looking super.

"Fine Feathers Make the Bird", as my crazy Auntie used to say.

I can't tell you how much people like her have improved my sense of style and, subsequently, body confidence.

Also Nikki and Carly are genuinely friendly, warm ladies.

Here are some pics.

Carly, after she introduced the guest of honour.
Nikki, 'splaining things.

Me with the Doyenne.

watching a thoughtful inscription on the book

cuddling with Carly. She is tall and I felt safe....

And I have been putting a bit more thought into my outfits lately. Here are some. My little bro told me that my full length mirror has been seeing lots'o'selfie action recently. It has. Believe in your selfie, they say.




Now some weekend baking awaits. Some food shopping. Some internet shopping. Patting/teasing the dog. Our neighbours have thrown a welcome drinks thing this arvo. A nice Sundee arvo.

What are you up to?
What have you been wearing recently?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

A check-in

Hi lovelies!

It's a bit of a miscellany today.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Poor Robin Williams. So sad to hear of his suicide. There are a few people saying "he was so successful and had so much, why could he not be happy". One even slammed him as a coward for committing suicide.

Depression is poorly understood and mistaken for unhappiness or even weakness. It is not even that. Even when we have sad times in our life, there are moments of joy.

When it comes right down to it, joyful happy feelings are bought about by neurotransmitters like serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. Happy chemicals.

The nervous systems of people who are depressed are deplete in these chemicals, and raising the amount of these in the space between one nerve cell and another (a synapse) leads to improvement in symptoms. It was not a secret that Robin Williams snorted his share of cocaine and drank his share of Bourbon while he was alive. This probably depleted his happy hormones and lead to quite a treatment-resistant depression - just to break it down, mechanistically.

In preparation for trying for a baby, I saw a mother-baby psychiatrist. She asked me what my depression was like.

For me, I felt like a record player switched from 66 rpm to 42 rpm. Everything shifted, slowed down. My usually nimble mind could not even string a sentence together, or plan what I was going to do next. I started something and forgot what I was about to do. I usually laugh easily, but I forgot how, and things that would usually tickle my fancy could not raise even a chortle. I usually lead a busy life with reasonable energy, but I felt extremely fatigued and would wake early from sleep.

This is not even going into the psychological symptoms of guilt and hopelessness. I've had sad times in my life, but they were quite different to my depressed times.

Suicide is to depression what dying of heart failure is to a heart attack. The former is the final stage of the severe latter.

Depression is a debilitating and potentially lethal illness. An illness. Even I find that hard to believe, as it is so easy to blame oneself, but there it is.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On a much much happier note, my fella is back. The dog and I are very happy to have him back. We are off to Singapore in three weeks, for a wedding. I am so very much looking forward to it. I will get to wear the dress I won!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am still doing the fasting, but I have shifted it to one day per week as I am trying to fit in extra training for a 10km fun run I am doing in October. I would really like to improve on my time. My best time for 10km is 1 hour 6 minutes and 55 seconds, and that was 3 and a bit years ago. I wonder if determination and consistency will make up for dwindling youth...

I am starting to get used to the fasting. It has taught me a lot about how to manage hunger, that hunger is not a disaster and often comes in waves rather than increasing. It makes my mind sharp, especially when I am at work and distracted away from hunger. I don't have the mid-arvo slump.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Did anyone watch the documentary on Manny Waks on the ABC last night? It was about the cover up of sexual abuse in a Melbourne Orthodox Jewish School community, similar to in Catholic Church communities. So incomprehensible to think that obeying a religious doctrine would stop you from bringing your child's abuser to justice. Hundreds of years ago Orthodox Jews who turned any of their community in to Gentile authorities for commiting a crime were ostracised from the community, or worse. Manny and his family were ostracised from their community for going public with the crime, and the cover up of those in charge. Manny's ultra-Orthodox parents were so badly ostracised from their close knit and insular community that they returned to Israel, though they are very proud of their son. Manny has set up the agency Tzedek (Justice in Hebrew) to provide culturally sensitive support and advocacy to members of the Jewish community who have been subject to this abuse. May God bless him.

Some values transcend religion. Some things are not on, no matter what the religion.

Anyway, that is my brain-dump for the afternoon.

What about you?
What was your favourite Robin Williams Movie? Mine is Mrs. Doubtfire. Mum took us to see it on a family holiday in Torquay when I was young, and I have fond memories of this.
Any news re: fitness goals?
Any documentary that has got you thinking recently?

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Heads, shoulders, knees and feet.

I've been missing my fella, as he has been in Peru, at a conference. 
He sent me these. They are lovely, but sadly he did not burst out of them, singing (or indeed at all)



But I have had plenty to distract me.

On Sunday, I was an examiner at the physicians exam. Young physician candidates from all over the country came to go head to head with us.

We had to be there at 7:30 in the morning and were on the go till 5:30pm. It was fun and challenging and exhausting.

Monday was frenetic as well - I was doing work things in all corners of Melbourne, driving between them, and I started my new job.

Tuesday and Wednesday were chockers too. Last night was the finale of my favourite-ever-show, Offspring. I had some lady friends over for wine and salad and lady-pie (or spanakopita). For reference, meat pie is man-pie. Or is that sexist?

I commissioned the baking of the spanakopita, by my trainer. Her talents truly know no bounds






It was devoured.

The show last night was fantastic, if not a bit trite. It certainly tied up the vast majority of the loose ends, and left Nina happy and hopeful.

The frame of Patrick's ghost being there, being all Patricky, just about undid me.

Today I have had the afternoon off. I went to the podiatrist. I have been having a bit of knee pain. My shoes, it turns out, are fine. I was referred off to a running-specific physiotherapist to sort my stride out, and sent for an x-ray. My kneecaps might be a bit arthritic! I have also been told to alternate runners to get different inputs going in, which is healthy.

I have also capitulated and bought a GHD. It does good curls. Just have to learn to do the back now... anyone have any ideas or tips?

I have been doing a fast day today. I have made this soup. It is a thermomix recipe but you can adjust it and use a food processor. You can thank me later. It is very simple but very elegant and very filling.

It has been a bit easier today, the fasting thing. I find it best to defer my food intake until as late in the day as I can.

On Saturday, I have to drive my mum down to Mornington, for my Sister's birthday. Wish me luck.

Next week, I am off to the Unlock Your Style launch! The outfit is being plotted.

What have you guys been up to?

Saturday, 2 August 2014

A rockin' Saturday night...

I am having a quiet one tonight, have a very early start tomorrow, examining. Have to have the game face on.

Last night we went to Becco, an Italian restaurant in the city. I think I have been a bit spoiled by Masterchef and previous culinary experiences. A menu on the item said "Becco Fish and Chips". At $39 per main serve, I thought it would be some ingenious re-imagining or deconstruction of fish and chips. I was wrong. It was just battered fish and shoestring fries with a bit of home-made tartare and a wedge of lemon. Not even a bit of salad. The cheeky devils! $39!!

I saw the fella off to a conference overseas early this morning. He will be missed, but the calendar is packed until he comes back.

My little furry friend has happily taken his spot on the couch.






I went out to the city and bought some work clothing today. I had been hanging out to try a Jimmy Grant Souvlaki, so I went to the outlet at the Emporium.


I tried the signature souva, the Bonegilla (chicken and lamb). The were all made freshly, in proper greek Pitas.



And this was it:



It was a bit small, as you can see. But it was delicious - full of tender lamb and chicken (not the chewy stuff off a spit). And chips! And mustard aioli! It could've done with some fresh vegies (tomato or onion or a bit of lettuce) but it was yummy.

I was going to go out and see an arthouse flick, but I was worried my little mate here was getting lonely. Hence I am here with my butt glued to the couch, after attending to the chores.

On a bit more of a serious note, I saw the Women in Black this morning


They are a group of Jewish Feminists who speak out against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and abhor the violence committed. I had a chat with them; many of the Jews in Melbourne are descendants of Holocaust Survivors, and are Zionists. They strongly support a Jewish state. These women aren't part of the mainstream Jewry here in Melbourne.

They spoke passionately against the violence and "land grabs", the abuses of human rights occuring in Palestine. People in Palestine are stateless, and have to cross Israeli Check points to get anywhere - to a wedding, to a family member, to a hospital. They form long queues in the heat. That is when they are not being shelled.

I told them I wanted to go to Israel. They told me I should, when the fighting stops.

Very little warms my heart more than friendships and support which transcend religion and creed. Why can't we all love each other? I stated this, bade my goodbye. I told them that I was agnostic, but God bless them anyway. They said something similar to me, in Hebrew.

This exchange was far more nourishing to my soul than any souvlaki or purchase (though the souvlaki and purchases were very nice).

Patting my dog is very nourishing to my soul also. Hopefully the time my fella is away goes quickly.

What is nourishing your soul at the moment? Nourishing your belly?






Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Food and No Food.

Family feud is on the box. I like Grant Denyer. He is Funny.

Or perhaps it's the fact that I am fasting today that is making me more easily amused.

This is my third fasting day. It's easier when I am busier. It is ok up till around 4 or 5 o'clock, when the headaches and nausea start coming in waves. I try not to eat much during day, then have a light dinner later; that seems to be a better way of using the available calories.

My friend says it gets easier after a few weeks of having the 2 fasting days a week. She says to keep busy and drink fluids. That helps.

The science is quite solid behind it; I recommend you download/buy the book or go to this website if you want to know more.

On fast days, this is most definitely not allowed.






Have you tried this? It is the dog's bollocks and the bees knees. The chocolate icecream part is rich but not too sweet, and the salted caramel is caramelly and salty.
It is the icecream equivalent of world peace, and may well solve all your problems.
I could probably eat a whole tub of it. Most of it in a sitting. But I haven't and I won't.

I am also thinking a little bit about this vegemite spaghetti recipe. It looks awesome.

But enough about that, the drool is pooling in my gob.

I am hanging out for my show tonight, Offspring. The premiere of the Bachelor is on before and the start of Offspring is delayed till 9:10. I am not right impressed about this.

Next week, I am throwing an Offspring party for the finale. I am having some ladies around, and I have commissioned the baking of a spanakopita for the event. My trainer is an expert baker. What talent!

Otherwise, things are good. The stress of last week has settled.

That is it from me.

How are you guys going?
What is your favourite icecream?

Sunday, 27 July 2014

To jog, perchance to wine.

Happy Sunday evening to you all.

I spent a lot of the weekend talking myself down from Friday. In retrospect, the tasks (work and non-work) of the last month or so have built up a bit of stress; it's been creeping up on me. I've made a very active effort to de-stress, be mindful, ie stop building up situations in my head that are in all likelihood not going to happen.

A large proportion of what we worry about never actually eventuates, am I right? And if it does eventuate, we deal with it often a lot better than we imagine we will. Or at least, we get through it.

To this end, I did my usual Saturday morning boot camp with my group and trainer. A good bit of sweat builds up a good bit of happy.

The fella then decided we would go for a traipse around the new hood in the drizzle. I put some glad rags on, and we lunched.



Dinner was at a Greek restaurant. If you don't walk out of there without rubbing your inflated belly and murmuring "foooood baby", you aren't doing it right. We did it right.

Today we took the dog for a walk out to a cafe. She is quite difficult to walk on the lead as she pulls and gets overwrought at the sight and smell of other dogs, and has slipped out of her lead and chased cats before. The fella was very stressed out, and I had to be firm and calm with them both.

I had a hipster breakfast. GF bread, avocado, fetta, seeds and asparagus. Was healthy and yum. There was a lemon slice there and did I eat that too? You had better believe it!


We have been doing, to quote Faux Fuchsia, some hard core decluttering.


I went for a jog. Now I can have wine.
Cheers to what will hopefully be a successful week.


Ooooh, speaking of glad rags, I won a dress, which I took possession of this week. It is made by Ann at AudreyLane, and the competition was at the blog of the delightful iCurvy (who I believe is very soon to give birth.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Non-traditional debriefing.

Happy Friday, Peeps!

My fella is blowing off a weeks worth of cares, in the traditional way, at the Pub, with beer and chips.

I have taken inspiration from Nikki and am giving the 5:2 way a decent crack. I decided yesterday. So today, I fast. Usually I want to do it on a non-Friday/Saturday/Sunday, but I thought that I would start today. I got on the scales the other day and thought hmmm.... that new mirror that makes me look taller and thinner is a dirty lying bastard.

Unfortunately, some work-related nastiness occurred today.

The week has been plagued work related self-doubt, irritation and frankly a bit of resentment. It's just sucking the life out of me a bit at the moment. I am sure many of you can relate to this. It's been quite full, these last few weeks.

Such a week with this ending would usually culminate in quite a few drinks. And deep fried morsels. In fact, I was invited to the pub by my fella for these very things. My response to the invitation was "Nup. I am fasting".

The fasting has forced me to be mindful. My default response to stress is to eat or drink. I've made inroads into this, but old habits die hard.

The thing is, you still have to go through the stress, the anger, the frustration. Nothing will stop that.

I had to consciously plan a nice evening.
I was very grateful for the chance to debrief with my fella.
I am consciously trying not to think about stressful events, as they are done now.

After a hectic morning, I went to have an ultrasound. See, I went to do the pre-pregnancy obstetrician visit, like all the other nice uptight professional women. She just wanted to make sure that all the bits of the oven were in good structural order.

There was a long wait, apparently the fetuses were not behaving themselves (!?). I saw the preggy ladies, and was a bit.... I don't know...envious?

Also, my colleague bought in her little bubba to work today. Those chubby wubby cheeks! Hearing the baby squeal and gurgle and even do hungry moans from my consulting room - that was the highlight of my day.

I am ready for a change, I think. I have no illusions that my child(ren) won't severely try my patience, but the joys of it will far outweigh them, and I am just finding work a bit joyless at the moment.

Re: the intermittent fasting, I am not actually a great deal hungrier than I get on a usual day. I feel a bit more alert. It was not too bad. And apparently it gets better.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

New House. The art of making do.

So we moved into the new house on Tuesday.

We have a kitchen unpacked and meal-cookery-capable, a habitable bedroom with a new bed, and most of our clothes unpacked. We are no longer tripping over boxes (much).

We are really enjoying the new place. The proximity to the pool (where I had a swim just a few hours ago). The house has a nice feel to it - it is very much a home. We know the history of it, and we have added our own touch to it already. It is also warm, courtesy of the ducted heating!

And check out this light fitting in the lounge. They are not made like this anymore.






Thankfully we have a shed, because inside the house we are a bit short on storage space.

And think! Last generation, this house was home to 5 or 6 people! We are two! Why is it that we have so much stuff? We probably only use a third of it regularly.

With this in mind, this morning we made our trips to Bunnings and Ikea.

What would a trip to Bunnings be without one of these?





Food of the Gods, I tell you. It matters not how recently the last meal was eaten, this never fails to stir up the appetite.

We got some little bits and bobs - brackets to put the spare bed together, little claspy things to put the telly cables over the doorway rather than on the floor, a new dunny roll spool, and a new shower head.

We then made the long journey to Ikea. It is easy to go berserk there. But we were jumping the gun a little; we had not done a lot of the measuring required to fit the genius storage solutions sold there.
We came out with only a few little things - a new dish drying rack and a rug to stop the pale carpet from getting too dirty.

We will live in the place and see how we get along before we spend any substantial amount of cash or start putting holes in walls. To see what we need, but, perhaps more importantly, what we can do without (or what we can sell at a garage sale).


~~~~~~~~~~

I've been trying to get my head around the MH17 disaster. Perhaps appropriately, I can't.

I dread hearing the news now. How the insurgents won't allow the proper investigations to be undertaken. The mortal coils of the deceased not given due dignity.

I've dealt with quite a lot of death in my time. It is hard for everyone, but it is usually at the end of a long illness.

It's quite another thing to see photos of people who, up until 48 hours ago, were living full and vital lives - even the littlies.

And those who are left - their friends and loved ones. My heart breaks for them.

This, the losses in Gaza, Allison Baden-Clay. Other atrocities.

It's easy to switch off the news, not becasue I want to be ignorant, but because I fear I will be desensitised.

I hope that we, collectively (but particularly the powers that be) can continue make decisions based on compassion, doing good and being our best, rather than out of fear or hatred. 

I hope that this disaster in Ukraine does not escalate into a broader conflict.



But more simply - I hope you all had a good weekend, and focussed on the small joys. I did.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Imagine.

There is a lot of talk about the senseless loss of life. In the Ukraine. In Gaza. In our own cities.

I really don't know what to say about it all, but the lyrics of John Lennon say it best. Written 43 years ago, it has never been more relevant.

I will leave you with these lyrics.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one


May you all have a blessed weekend. Hugs to you all.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Nearly there...

I don't really like the word "busy" - for me, it has too many negative connotations. I feel uncomfortable at the word "busy. It's used too often to shirk quality interpersonal time, or as a badge of superiority.

Having more things to do than usual - that's a bit more descriptive. I feel lucky to have lots to do. The time goes too fast though. I try, however, to smell the roses. Value-add to the day, add some pleasantness to the rat race. A good coffee in the scarce sunshine. Lunch between appointments at a place I've never before visited.

The fella and I are in the throes of moving. Always loads of things to do. It can get a bit stressful. Everyone has to take in their stride at least one thing going wrong (for us, it was a hired professional cleaner doing a crappy job and charging a premium).

I've also had a crook back - not so good a time to have one, with all the bending and lifting required. I am thankful to my trainer that my arms, legs and core are strong; I can squat right down, handle a big box, and stand up without bending. Ability to squat deeply and strongly is super important. I recommend you practice, if you don't already.

But I digress.

My dear friends M and R helped us do some of the initial moving today, as R has a big van. We got quite a lot across to the new house. M and R also got to see our new digs for the first time. They loved the new digs, and their enthusiasm helped us to remember to be excited!

I've already done some important things. Dusted the skirting boards (the Fella gets uptight about such things, I don't notice them). I've unpacked some kitchen utensils, laying out a very logical kitchen arrangement. It would appear that the little lady that owned the house had a bit of a souvenir teaspoon collection; it was left in one of the drawers. Every time I see that sort of thing, I am reminded of my nanna. The box had "Spoons" written on it, in copperplate handwriting. Bless.

The fella and I put our new bed together. It only took us about 25 minutes, and the fella only cussed a few times, and there were no cross words between us. 

The neighbours' cat, whose name I later discovered is Lebowski, paid us a visit while we were unpacking. It just waltzed on in like it owned the joint. I suspect it got feeds and pats from the previous owner.

I do not think Bella will take kindly to Lebowski invading her territory.

Poor little Bella has been a bit confused. She does not know what is going on. Having visited the new digs, we think she will like them - she rolled about on the carpet to make it smell nice, and did some happy laps in her new backyard.

So the actual moving day is on Tuesday. Tomorrow, I have to work. A manic couple of days, followed by what I suspect will be a protracted period of unpacking, trips to Ikea and Bunnings, and imagining renovations.

How was your weekend?