Thursday, May 23, 2013

Two Travelers Go To: Sydney

In the shortest trip to Sydney ever (made by us), we had a jam packed day!

Step 1. Get up at 3:30am (or, if you're me, wake up at 12:30am feeling anxious, and then be scared out of your wits by Marsh sleep-screaming bloody murder at 3am), get your bags and head to the bus station, where you get the 4am bus to Avalon airport.

Step 2. Grab a coffee and hop on your 6am flight to Sydney, where you arrive at 7:30am. Store your bags in the airport ($12 for 24 hours) and get the train into the city.

Step 3. Be on time for Marsh's 9:30am appointment at the travel doctor to get a Hep B booster.

Step 4. Go to a web cafe and print out all the supporting document you think you'll need when you arrive at US customs (you won't need them, it's aloha time in Hawaii).

Step 5. Walk and walk, head for the Rocks where you sit in a cafe to meet your buddy, Sam, and her house-guest/Lindy Hop guru Lennart, for coffee and a trip to the old observatory.

Step 6. Talk jazz! science! weather!

Step 7. Hightail it to Darling Harbour to meet Anna, then hightail it to Google HQ to meet her boyf Abdullah, who works there and is kindly hosting you for free Google lunch and, what, a tour?! (Thanks, Abby, you shouldn't have!)

Step 8. Take all the free stuff from Google and gleefully get a picture taken.

Step 9. Rush back to the train station, jump on the train to the airport, and check in for your 6pm flight to Honolulu.

Phew! Thanks Sydney, we like you and we will be back for longer next time!

Two Travelers Go To: Melbourne

Almost two weeks ago, we left home for the longest trip away we have ever done. We are hoping it will be about eight months before we have to come home, but we will see how far we get. First stop, Melbourne! 

Melbourne is like a second home city to us now. We have visited enough times to have seen the sights, have a basic understanding of the layout of the city so we can walk without a map, and have friends and family (my sister lives there now) enough there now that we spent a good few days catching up with people. Alternatively, we sat in a cafe with free WiFi and started making plans for the next week or so of our trip.

By Perth standards, the weather in Melbourne was icy. The first day was pleasant enough – sunny and 22 degrees – but the following two really delivered in terms of Melbourne-typical weather. Showers, hail, wind, a high of 15 degrees; we were longing for the beach.

Leaving Perth in the whirlwind in the way we did - with weeks of hard work, moving, sorting out problems – made Melbourne the perfect first destination. Finally, we had the chance to relax and leave our work behind. My sister and her boyfriend recently moved into a new house, with new housemates, and we spent two really fun nights with the whole house-full, eating homemade pizza and playing beer pong, then cooking Indian food for the whole crew and polishing off a bottle of red wine. They are good people, and I am happy to see my sister happy.

Here’s where we ate:
Quince Cafe – amazing Italian hot chocolate
Gamispecialising in Korean fried chicken and beer, the spicy chicken had us all gulping down water
Purple PeanutsJapanese lunch for cheap, vegetarian rice ball ftw
Ponyfish Islandif you like to sit in a bar in the middle of the river and let the trans-arctic winds ice you up, here you go (also, we saw a goose!)
Horn, Pleasehipster Indian with a mysterious name
The Hardware Societe – ubiquitous French-style cutesy cafe, Perth prices

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

food party: rollins mosh pot (spanish style)

another favourite and easy recipe of mine, adapted from somewhere i don't remember! it's a good one to get rid of left overs, you can even try it with leftover roast chicken, which we did the other day (just cut down the cooking time).

  •  chicken pieces, whatever you like (about 300-500g is about right)
  •  chorizo or some kind of sausage (2 chorizos worth)
  • oranges (2)
  • onion (1, red or brown, it's up to you)
  • misc vegetables (i've tried tomatoes, beans, spinach, asparagus... you could try cauliflower, capsicum, whatever)
  • olive oil
how to:
1) chop up all ingredients into bite-size chunks, except the chicken, you can  leave those bits whole. quickly peel the orange (i chop the peel off ala juicing days) and cut into segments
2) all goes in a baking dish
3) drizzle generously with olive oil (3-4tbsp)
4) whack it in a 180 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through

served suggestion:
either serve as is or with a couple of poached eggs on top.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

food party: whole 30 friendly baked meatballs

yo! here is how i do the kitchen: quick, easy, in bulk, not too many recipes. last week i made the yummiest meatballs in the food processor. i'm not kidding. let's rumball.

whole 30 friendly baked meatballs
step 1. preheat oven to 180 °C
step 2. get your food processor and hook up your grating attachment
step 3. prep and stick in 2 carrots, half an eggplant, 1 onion
step 4. no more grating, swap to your mixing/slicing tool
step 5. pop all your veggies back in, add 500g of mince, 1 egg and a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste
step 6. whiz it around until combined
step 7. shape about 2 tablespoons worth of mixture into balls and pop into a baking dish
step 8. bake for 20-30 minutes or until nicely browned on the outside

Sunday, March 17, 2013

sunday evening in the maylands

the sun is setting.
the apartment has been tidied, sheets washed, beds made, carpets vacuumed (dishes not done).
a paleo strawberry coconut pie has been made, a chicken been roasted.
scented candles have been lit and it feels just like sunday night.
winding up the week, preparing for the next.
i'm trying to let all worries go and just wait for my man to come home.
enjoying this lovely view, dusk, and quiet,

Friday, March 15, 2013

blueberry picking!

The weekend before last was a long weekend so a bunch of us managed to get out of town for a quick break down in Dunsborough. We cooked, ate, swam and snorkeled on the reef, all got sunburnt, hung out, and then we went blueberry picking. Our friends, Cam and Nadia, who live down in that part of the world, told us about a secret blueberry farm where you can pick your own berries for cheap. Uh, sold!

We also visited Gabriel Chocolate (where Nadia works) and Arimia Estate (where Cam used to work) in Yallingup. Go there. You won't regret it. And here we all are. Delight!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

our bodies and our struggles

Relevant because we're eating donuts. Okay.
Something happened on the weekend that's been on my mind a little and I've decided to share it, because I think it's relevant to a very human struggle that many of us share.

On Sunday night, I was at a work dinner in Canberra. It was convivial, with wine and laughter. I ordered dessert, because 1) work was paying and 2) HELLO! Chocolate cake! Um, yes.
When my dessert arrived at the table, I tucked in, then,
"How dare you be able to eat that and stay so thin," a lady at my table said, "How unfair!"
I was a little taken aback and jokingly tried to deflect,
"Actually, I'm quite active," I said. She hmm'ed and nodded, my explanation seemed to justify a little, but not enough to stop her making the same comment again.

On one hand, let's just admit this, I was pleased with myself - and not just because I was eating a delicious chocolate cake - but because joy of joys! someone thought I was thin! What a reaction, huh? I surprised myself a little in thinking that. Most days I think I'm just a normal lass or I'm not 100% happy with my weight (see below), but events like this remind me that body satisfaction is all about perception. In her eyes, I am normal sized, therefore thin. Yes, and by all measures I am a very healthy weight.

On the other hand, something about her saying this didn't sit well with me.
"She was a little out of line to say that," I blurted out to a colleague later. "How could she think that I can eat anything and stay in shape? I can't! I mean, I am 26 and my metabolism is still in my favour, but I have to exercise and watch what I eat, and I certainly can't eat anything I want and stay the same weight..." And so on.

Can I side bar for a second to just put this out there, world, right now? I'm no stranger to struggling with my weight (/health). As a teenager, I was 20kgs heavier than I am now and, oh, how this impacted on my self esteem. I lost this weight through strict eating and exercise and a generally healthier lifestyle. I do watch what I eat, I try to build healthy habits in my life, and when I eat crap, I gain weight like a normal human. Some days I look at my butt and just go, "Damn, where did you come from?" I eat and I enjoy food, but I try to balance it. Sometimes it's difficult. So there's that.

Back to the story and after mulling over that little incident for a few days, this is essence of my thoughts: How dare she presume to know my struggle.

And this has given me much pause. What a horrible thought this is because, oh dear, I am guilty of presumption myself, of judging based on outside appearance. Also because, what must she be feeling to say something like that (which I totally am not angry at her about, I feel I must add). Where must her thoughts be, as she denied herself dessert and watched me devour a hunk of cake? Hmm, that's a thinker.

I don't think many women go through life not worried about their bodies. What an insular struggle this one is, a solitary worry, and a secret one often. I think there's shame encouraged in feeling this way, in caring about how you look, particularly when you are at a healthy weight. I think we are prone to believe that we have it hardest, don't we? I think this because of the shock I encountered when I told some colleagues I was wearing Spanx (i.e. "suck in pants") under a dress, no one could believe that I worried about my appearance, which is not an unusual thing. And I'm back to this perception thing, do we always imagine ourselves fatter and more imperfect than we are?

As I get older, worry about my body has lessened, or rather, I am more accepting of realistic bodies, in all shapes and sizes. I'm not scared of flesh and the form it takes, I know it better. I show mine (we're talking about my thighs here, my worst enemies) and don't mind so much what people think. It's my body, I'm happy with it.
On the other hand, I check my size every morning in the mirror. I analyse, I look, I weigh and sometimes I wish I was smaller. I compare. It's quite the contradiction, yes?

Here's the lessons I am taking from this: firstly, we simply cannot presume to know the struggles of others' lives. Secondly, let's just support and love people for who they are - let them eat cake, if you will - because I am sure many of them chastise themselves enough for their so called failings. Let's enjoy our life and health. This brings to my mind Meg's thoughts on "fat talk", which I think are particularly valid here.

I'd love to know your thoughts and feelings on this, please. Have you had a similar experience? Do you feel isolated by your experiences?