Thursday, May 31, 2012

Traveling Shoes

Each of the last three trips I've taken overseas has required a new pair of shoes.  They are all very different, as the trips have had different requirements.  However they have all had in common the need to comfortably support me as I make my way through new lands.

In 2009 I spent 7 glorious weeks traipsing all over South America.  Before we went I knew we would be hiking, I knew it would be cold, I knew I needed some serious footwear.  So I invested in my first ever pair of hiking boots.  They were comfortable from the moment I put them on and they took me across the high salt plain, over the Andes, through the Pampas without a blister.  They walked the beach in Rio and paved streets of Machu Picchu.  They protected my feet from all manner of weather and best of all kept me warm.

My next big trip was to Vietnam and Cambodia.  Here I knew my feet would also be hiking but in hot, humid weather.  So this time I invested in a good pair of sneakers with mesh inserts for ventilation.  They powered me through the Ben Than markets, onto boats and up the Meekong.  They guided me though the jungle to ancient temples, keeping my feet comfortable and not too hot.

Now I'm headed to Europe.  I will be in fashionable cities during summer.  I needed shoes that I could wear with shorts and skirts, that would support my feet over cobblestones, around museums and to the theatre while looking somewhat more stylish than the sneakers which would be adequate for the job.

And so I've ended up with these sequined sketchers.  Comfy and supportive, hopefully a bit more fashionable than my hiking boots, I wonder what these shoes will allow me to see.  The anticipation is wonderful.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Moldova was robbed! A Eurovision wrap.

I love Eurovision.  However I love it in a very specific set of circumstances.  Eurovision must be watched with a large group of people wearing strange clothes, while eating yummy food and drinking lovely drinks.  The Sunday night time slot means that my responsibly employed friends and I do not take part in the Eurovision drinking game (there are many versions of the game, but this is a good run down on the general rules), however there was plenty of food, a sensible number of drinks and yes, some unusual outfits.

This year the horde gathered in our lounge room.  The feast was spread.  We provided assemble your own yeeros - pita bread, slow cooked Greek lamb, tomato, lettuce, cucumber and a delicious sauce made of roasted garlic, greek yoghurt, fresh oregano and lemon juice.  But there were plenty of other delicious treats to keep us fed and watered.

I wanted to wear an all white, silver spangled jumpsuit, but not owning such an item I settled for wearing every other colour I could find.  S was slightly taken aback when I emerged from the bedroom complete with purple eyeshadow and winged eyeliner.  My friends made similar efforts, I was particularly thrilled by the pastel striped glittery jacket that one of my (male) friends apparently already owned and wore for the night.

Soon however our attention turned from food and clothing to the TV.  We sat for hours, commenting loudly on anything and everything.  Here is our wrap of the night:

UK - Engelbert Humperdinck - Love Will Set You Free
Oh Englebert, you were so very boring and off key.  Even your dancers (who were quite good) didn't capture a room full of dance enthusiasts.  I'm astonished he managed to garner 12 points.

Hungray - Compact Disco - Sound of our Hearts
The singer wore a leather coat and looked a bit like Robbie Williams.  There were flame throwers, but the song was pretty forgettable.

Albania - Rona Nishliu - Suus
Her hair made me think of the urban legend of the man killed by spiders living in his dreadlocks.  But there were just so many questions raised by Rona.  How did they stick that dread to her chest?  Why was her cape pinned to her boobs?  Why was she screaming?  Did she get 146 points for that song because people were afraid she would eat their soul if they didn't vote for her?

Lithuania - Donny Montell - Love is Blind
Donny proved that props are only good at Eurovision when they have sequins.  We loved that sequined blindfold however then he had to start dancing.  The one hand cartwheel was impressive, the pelvic thrusts with strategic microphone placement - not so much.

Bosnia & Herzegovina - Maya Sar- Korake Ti Znam 
A sort of central European Delta Goodrum with sparkly shoulder pads.  Did anyone else notice that this year the traditional Eurovision white outfits were outweighed by the black? 

Russia - Buranovskiye Babushki- Party For Everybody 
The dancing Russian grannies were a favourite to win and lets face it you could see why.  What is there not to love about 6 dancing Babushka dolls who bake biscuits while singing a party anthem.  A worthy second place but I do understand those of you who wanted them to win. 

Iceland - Greta Salóme & Jónsi- Never Forget
I thought these guys were actually pretty good and deserved more points than they got.  Ok so I was kind of worried by Jónsi's canine teeth, that guy had a bit of vampire going on and I think their choreographer may have previously directed the models on the Price is Right, but still, a decent song and Greta had an awesome dress (black again).

Cyprus - Ivi Adamou - La La Love 
Ivi proved that you don't have to be drunk in a bar to dance on a table, you can do it in a flesh coloured partially see-through dress at Eurovision too!  We gave her points for her high energy singing whilst dancing, but the song didn't grab us.

France - Anggun - Echo (You And I) 
When in doubt add acrobats.  Actually they were pretty awesome.  So too was Anggun's train and use of the wind machine.  Oh and the song was ok - plus it was a French entry partially sung in English, drink up those on the drinking game.

Italy - Nina Zilli - Out of Love
There were some serious shades of Amy Winehouse here.  I loved her, the song was great and boy could that girl wear gold lame.  I might actually consider buying this song - it was definitely too good to win Eurovision.

Estonia - Ott Lepland- Kuula
If there was a Eurovision category for best eyebrows Ott would have won it hands down. We did feel a bit sorry for his backup singer who barely got in a shot let alone a close up though - that said at least she was wearing Eurovision white.

Norway - Tooji - Stay
I don't know why Europe wasn't voting for the Scandinavian countries this year but we thought Tooji was great.  Extremely good looking, some great dance moves, and a decent song.  No idea what politics were behind them only scoring 7 points.

Azerbaijan - Sabina Babayeva - When The Music Dies
You would certainly hope for good staging as the home act and the lighting on Sabina's dress was impressive and she had the full smoke machine / wind machine going on. Also impressive were her eyelashes, I would love to know how many sets of falsies she was wearing.  The song was ok, nothing brilliant, but still a decent act from the host country.

Romania - Mandinga - Zaleilah
Every Eurovision needs a moon walking bagpipe player and this year Romania provided it.  You are only allowed 6 performers on stage at Eurovision, so this 7 piece band had to leave their trumpet player in the dressing room.  Luckily no one actually plays an instrument in the performances so they could just dance on stage with them.  Unfortunate the song just wasn't that great.

Denmark - Soluna Samay- Should've Known Better
Was it just that every Scandinavian vote went to Sweden because we thought Soluna was great.  Ok so costuming apparently forgot the cellist who just wore a hoodie and wasn't grooving, but we loved the rest of this act.  Definitely deserved more than 21 points.

Greece - Eleftheria Eleftheriou - Aphrodisiac
It has been said that in times of trouble hemlines get shorter, in my lounge room the question of what defines a garment as a dress rather than a top was hotly debated.  What I can tell you was that the Greek entry featured some great legs and a rather lame song.

Sweden - Loreen - Euphoria
The winning song. It was good and the act made excellent use of the wind machine, however they could have used some better lighting.  I have to say, I wasn't blown away like the rest of Europe apparently was because it was a run away victory.

Turkey - Can Bonomo - Love Me Back
He was dressed as a sailor.  His backup singers wore capes that they transformed into a boat - a boat!  Other than that it was a pretty terrible song.

Spain - Pastora Soler - Stay With Me
In the year of Eurovision songs about breakups/broken hearts Spain had another.  And another transparent dress when the lights hit her white dress from behind.  Drinkers probably would have got to have a second sip based on the size of her hair, that seemed close to a head sized bun to me.

Germany - Roman Lob - Standing Still 
He wore a tea cosy on his head and had a strange tattoo on his chest.  The song was ok, nothing particularly memorable from Germany this year.

Malta - Kurt Calleja - This Is The Night
Kurt wore one yellow glove - a Michael Jackson tribute which coordinated with the socks of his backup dancers, as you do.  There was some fancy footwork and a pretty decent song, although it didn't score well.

FYR Macedonia - Kaliopi - Crno I Belo
Kaliopi seemed somewhat confused if this was Eurovision or a job interview.  Her black suit was just not Eurovision and the song, well it was pretty awful.

Ireland - Jedward - Waterline
Thank god for Ireland.  After the monochrome nature of this year's line up we were in serious need of some silver and gold leprechauns who randomly leapt around the stage and ended their act in a fountain.  I was so mesmerised that I have no idea what their song was like but I loved them for truly encompassing the spirit of all that is good about Eurovision.  Also if anyone was still playing the drinking game Jedward would have rendered them unconscious.

Serbia - Željko Joksimović - Nije Ljubav Stvar 
It was all a bit serious, mysterious and there was that strangely creepy clarinetist wandering around in the background.

Ukraine - Gaitana - Be My Guest
She had flowers on her head, they flouted the 6 people only rule by having holographic backgrounds with strangely suggestive crotch lines.  The song was upbeat, they had male dancers in skirts, what was not to love.

Moldova - Pasha Parfeny - Lăutar
Oh, my beloved Moldova.  The unicycle riding pixies were robbed last year and Pasha and his strangely robotic dancing girls were robbed this year.  ROBBED I tell you.  Not only did they have hands down the best costumes, their fantastic little jazzy song had me dancing in my seat.  Next year has to be Moldova's year.

And so Eurovision fades into the background for another year - and we await what Sweden will deliver in 2013.  Will it match the Crystal Hall whose facade lit up with the flag of each performer?  Will the hosts be as cheesy?  Will the interval entertainment feature lasers, flame throwers and a dictator's son-in-law?  Only time will tell.

Did you watch Eurovision?  Who did you think deserved to win?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Boeuf bourguignon pie

On the weekend I made a big pot of Boeuf Bourguingnon.  It is one of those meals that is worth making a lot of because it is best after hours of slow cooking.  The rich flavours are just perfect for these cold nights, but last night I decided to mix things up a bit and turn it into a pie.

The result was delicious - but not photogenic.  In future I will take the meat and vegies out of the gravy as my pie was too wet and the result was more a delicious plate of slop rather than a distinct piece of pie.  Still it was a very worthwhile experiment.

To make the pie I lined a pie dish with shortcrust pastry (I think Maggie Beer's sour cream pastry would be phenomenal for this but it wasn't happening after a long day at work) and blind baked it.  I filled the shell with the cold boeuf bourguignon and topped it with potato and jerusalem artichoke mash, then baked the pie at 180 degrees for about 45 minutes.

It was pure comfort food and it has me thinking about pies in general.  I think the season of the pie could be upon us!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The fading glory of autumn

Autumn is nearly over.  It has been a brilliant season this year.  The temperatures dropped fast, but that led to such beautifully intense colours, really the city has looked as gorgeous as I've ever seen it.

Most of the trees are now bare, their black branches arch against clear blue skies or are dusted with crystalised frost in the mornings.  The leaves lie in deep, brown piles just asking to be jumped into.  I hope I never lose that urge to jump in a pile of dry leaves whenever I see them - even if they do occasionally hide sock soaking puddles.

But I've passed some very pretty trees in the last few weeks, so here are a last few of Canberra's finest.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Busy, busy, busy

I've been so busy lately.  Work, planning our holiday, just general life stuff.  It can be so easy to lose yourself in being busy.  But if I've learnt anything over the last few years, it is that there are some things you just have to make time for, family, friends, self.  Stopping whatever is making me busy to spend time on these things is always so rewarding because it renews my spirit, gives me the strength to keep going.  When I don't stop I feel myself being slowly worn down and I end up less productive as a result.

Last weekend was a time out weekend.  Ok, so I did do some chores and other necessary life stuff, but I spent a good chunk of it catching up with friends, dancing and just vegging out.

S and I have not been dancing as much as usual.  We have been busy and sick and somehow got out of the routine.  But on Friday we headed out to test my new shoes and had a fantastic time.  I just adore dancing with him, it was an absolutely blissful few hours.

Then, two of my best friends and I managed to organise to get together in record time.  It usually takes us weeks to find a time when we are free, but we clearly all needed a few hours of girly chat, so we made Sunday morning work.  We gathered over delicious, enormous breakfasts to chat, share stories and wisdom, commiserate about the craziness of life and re-affirm our friendship.  I felt absolutely rejuvenated by our time together.  Those girls are worth their weight in gold.

In between S and I spent some quality time communing with the couch.  Curled up together on our not quite big enough couch, we caught up on movies, chatted and napped.  He brought me cups of tea and chocolate and rubbed my feet.  It was like a holiday for the soul.

This week is as busy as ever but somehow it doesn't feel as hard.  Just those few hours of time out have given me all the strength I need.  It really is that easy.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

White Shirt Day

Do you have ovaries? Or love someone who does?  Well in that case today you should be supporting White Shirt Day.  White Shirt Day is a fundraiser for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.  If you are in need of a new white shirt, Witchery has a special range where the profits go to OCRF or you can donate directly here:

Ovarian cancer was something that wasn't on my radar until fairly recently.  Sure I knew it existed, but I had never really heard much or thought much about it.  That all changed in 2010 when in a matter of weeks my Mum's best friend, otherwise known as Aunty Sue, went from feeling unwell to having terminal ovarian cancer.  I don't mean that the cancer grew overnight, it is just that it is such a difficult cancer to detect that by the time most women discover they have it, it is too late to treat and that was exactly what happened in Sue's case.  Symptoms are easy to dismiss, they can include:
  • changes in your bowel habits
  • unexplained weight gain or loss
  • bleeding in-between periods or after menopause
  • back pain
  • indigestion or nausea
  • excessive fatigue
They are such generic symptoms that it is really easy to ignore them or not even notice them.  They key is to be aware of your body and if something is going on that is not normal, get it checked out.  If caught early, ovarian cancer is very treatable and this is why Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation is working like crazy to find an early detection test.

Each year I do my best to support the OCRF by participating in Frocktober - a month long festival of dresses.  I'm already planning activities for this year, so you will hear loads more in October but for today, wear a white shirt and consider if there is a way that you can support this amazing foundation.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New Dance Shoes

My new dance shoes arrived today.  It is always so exciting to get new dance shoes.  Being a shoe lover, new shoes are exciting in themselves, however, dance shoes come with this whole promise of happy dancing times to come.

Dance shoes are a breed unto themselves.  The sparklier, the brighter, the better.  I would class this pair as reasonably restrained - they are glittery, but in a subdued colour.  They are shoes for class rather than shoes for performances.  My sister can never quite get this, if I ever show her shoes I'm considering to buy she always likes the ones that I think of as training shoes.  I guess the dance world just believes that more is more when it comes to anything sparkly.

My dance shoes get worn until they fall apart.  I have a car boot full of dance shoes in various states of disrepair.  They live in the boot because, well to be frank, dance shoes are invariably stinky.  They may look like sparkly heels but they get the workout of running shoes minus the socks.  And there are so many of them there because I find it very difficult to part with them.  Even if they are falling apart and no longer supportive in all the ways that is necessary I've spun, slid, ronded and stepped to hundreds, if not thousands of songs in them.  They have been to parties, been in performances, been sweated and usually bleed in.  I feel like they are little, stinky, tatty shoes of happiness given all the good times I've had whilst wearing them.  If anything embodies dance, it is the shoes.

So tonight I take home a new pair.  I will punch a hole in just the right place on the strap, test the flexibility and then bug S till he takes me dancing to " christen" them.  In time they will fade and become worn, but I will love them all the more for the process that got them there.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Canberra - Why -5 degree isn't as bad as it sounds

I can just imagine all around Australia tonight there will be people watching the weather and thinking "thank god I don't live in Canberra".  And I can understand.  On paper a temperature range of -5 to 15 degrees celsius doesn't look good.  But here is the reality.  -5 means that you have had a clear night with the biggest most sparkly stars and when you spend it snuggled under a thick doona with a loved one it is delicious.  And 15 on a day like today means bright blue skies, warm sun, no wind, it is invigorating and beautiful to wander about in.  Add in a city coloured red, orange and gold with autumn clothes and you have a stunning day.

Yes you have to dress appropriately - the perfect excuse for accessorising with boots and scarves - but I can say that days like today really are gorgeous and one of the reasons why I love living in this city.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Museli Parfait

We had a delightful Mother's Day brunch yesterday.  Mum isn't into big cooked breakfasts so we had croissants, apple and blackberry shortbread cake (this recipe, but with a half apple filling) and museli parfaits.

I would love to claim that I invented this, but I didn't.  The idea came from the Canberra institution that is Milk and Honey.  My version used my home made muesli, creamy vanilla yoghurt and rhubarb compote.  It is so simple to make, just assembly really.  In a pretty glass layer compote, muesli and yoghurt, topping with some flaked almonds.  It is such a pretty, tasty and healthy breakfast, a winner all round really.

You could use any kind of stewed fruit but Mum and I are big fans of rhubarb.  Its tangy flavour and pretty colour is the perfect accompaniment for muesli, custard, icecream, so many things really.  I know it divides the masses, but if you are a fan, here is my recipe for rhubarb compote.

Rhubarb Compote
1 bunch rhubarb, leaves and ends removed, chopped into 4-5 cm lengths
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
half a lemon
sugar to taste

Place your rhubarb and apple in a saucepan.  Squeeze the lemon over, then add the lemon half.  Add sugar to taste, I usually start with 2 dessertspoons, then taste when it is almost cooked.

Heat over a medium temperature, stirring frequently so it doesn't stick until the rhubarb has mostly broken down and the apple has become soft.  Remove the lemon, and serve warm or cool with anything you like!

This compote is also great with pear and orange juice instead of apple and lemon - just reduce the sugar.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

So today is Mother's Day.  A day for spoiling our mothers.  My sister and I will be making brunch for our Mum but no details yet because if there is one person in the whole world who I know will read this blog it is my Mum - aka my most loyal follower.

I've been blessed with a super fantastic mother.  We are very close, speak pretty much every day, see each other at least once a week.  Next week she is going to a morning tea called "Aspire to Inspire" where everyone is meant to tell a story of their life to inspire others.  Mum is going to talk about her Dad (who was amazing) because she didn't think she was very inspirational.  Well I disagree, Mum is absolutely an inspiration to me in so many ways.

So Mum, here are a few ways that you inspire me every day.

Mum puts family above everything. Lots of people say that family is the most important thing in their life.  For my Mum that statement is an understatement, our family really is the most important thing in the world to her and she is its centre.  She is the star that we all revolve around.  I don't have the words to describe how Mum makes this family just work.

Mum is exceptionally kind and caring.  She has a whole host of people who she checks in on and helps in any way she can.  She has spent countless hours doing all sorts of things, amazing things like sitting with people in hospital, running errands, talking on the phone.  I doubt she realises just how important those phone calls, morning teas and chats are to those people but there are very few people who go out of their way for others like my Mum does.

Mum is a volunteer.  For my whole life Mum has been volunteering at one thing or another.  These days she volunteers as a diversional therapist at a nursing home.  Nursing homes are the kind of places most of us avoid.  But Mum heads over, at least once a week to do a cooking demonstration giving the residents a real highlight of their week plus something much more delicious than normal to eat.

There are so many other things I could say, but maybe I can sum it up like this. Mum, you taught me about family and love.  You taught me to be kind, to care and to give of myself.  You taught me that money is a means to an end not an end in itself.  You taught me to cook, to draw, to be self-sufficient. You taught me to be a good friend, a good daughter and I hope one day I can be as good a mother as you have and always will be.

Happy Mother's Day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tuesday night Coq au Vin

I'm a fan of slow cooking.  Browning each item thoroughly, slowly caramelising the onions, carefully dicing the vegetables into an even size to make a beautiful sofrito and leaving it on a low simmer to bring out the maximum flavour and have the meat falling off the bone.  Slow cooking like that is a Sunday afternoon activity, when you have all the time in the world to make a beautiful dish and the perfect side of smoothly mashed potato.

Even when cooking quickly get some decent colour on the chicken.

On Tuesday night it is less about a perfect fine dice, more about a random "rustic" chunk.

Then there is Tuesday night cooking.  When a conversation with my Mum has me craving that rich casserole flavour but the reality of a working life means I want all the prep done in the minimum time.  On nights like that the pan is hot, the cooking is fast, the dice is random and the potatoes are not mashed.  The flavour might not be quite as deep, the meat not quite as tender, but the satisfaction is all there.

Artistic shot of herbs - I use these ones because they grow in my garden.
The rosemary is so close to the door I don't actually even have to step outside the house - I use it a lot.

Yum mushrooms, all for me because S doesn't like them - score!

This is my Tuesday night Coq au Vin. (note, I also usually throw in some bacon with the onion etc but our reliable freezer supply was unfortunately used up last night).

Tuesday Night Coq au Vin
serves 4
olive oil
8 pieces of chicken - i.e. drumstick or thigh is best
1 onion diced as roughly as time allows
2 carrots diced as roughly as time allows
2 sticks of celery diced as roughly as time allows
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
sprig rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
handful of mushrooms - mine were fairly large so I cut them into quarters

Heat a heavy casserole over a high heat. Toss your chicken with a little flour, pepper, salt, dried oregano, paprika.

Add some olive oil to the casserole and start frying the chicken in batches being sure to get a good solid golden colour on the chicken pieces.

Once the chicken is cooked, throw the onion, carrot and celery in the pot and cook stiring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick, for as long as you want - ideally till it is all softened, but probably more like 5 or so minutes.

Throw in the tomato paste, the wine, stock and herbs, bring to the boil.  Add the mushrooms and chicken and stir to coat.

Keep on a light boil until your boyfriend asks when it will be ready and starts investigating the leftover lasagne in the fridge - hopefully at least 30-50 minutes later.

Serve with boiled potatoes and slightly dehydrated peas from the freezer where  you forgot to tie the bag up.

Enjoy with a big glass of wine and an episode of Masterchef.

Note to self, the peas are much tastier if you don't let the freezer dehydrate them.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Slippers to work

It is beyond me why anyone would build anything in Canberra without insulation - yet they do.  Case in point is our office.  Above our ceiling tiles there is a little bit of sarking and roof tiles, that is it.  As a result it gets cold in our office very, very quickly.

Luckily we have an excellent heating system but on these cold and frosty mornings it takes some time to get the temperature up and as a result, even with my fantastic Flox stockings, I've had cold feet too many times recently.

My office is quite a casual place, so this morning, knowing there were no visitors expected, I wore slippers to work.  The boys haven't even noticed, or at least they haven't commented, and I'm pretty sure they would, if only to agree that it is an excellent idea.

So I can add wearing slippers to my list of inappropriate things I've worn to the office - along with a ballgown, cocktail dress, large hat (for Melbourne cup day) and that time I accidentally wore a black bra under a white shirt.

Have you ever worn something odd to work (either on purpose or not)?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Autumn outside my window

Do you remember this tree that lives outside my office window from spring?

Well it looks like this now!

It is almost luminous in its red gold colouring.  Usually it is one of those trees that changes a bit at a time so you end up with a multicoloured effect, but the consistently cool temperatures this autumn seem to have it all turning at once and it is just spectacular.

Autumn is proving to be such a joy to behold this year.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Homemade Muesli - attempt 1

For some reason, at some point in my life I decided that I did not like muesli.  It was the strange thing that Mum ate in the morning and it was clearly awful.  Then when I was in an Asian country with no other cereal options I finally tried it - and realised I love muesli.

This is not the first time this has happened.  Pesto, parmesan and beetroot were all exactly the same.  At a young age, for no decernable reason I decided I didn't like them and given that I eat pretty much everything everyone assumed that there must be a reason for this.  I guess it is the reason why it is important to try everything and if there is something you don't like, keep trying it every few years because our tastes do change.  I'm still hoping that coffee will become something I like in time because it just isn't the same ordering a pot of tea when everyone else has a coffee.

Anyway, back onto muesli.  Having discovered that muesli is in fact awesome, I set about trying different varieties.  I prefer untoasted muesli, served with greek yoghurt rather than milk. While each brand I tried had great elements, I was struggling to find one that exactly matched my preferred tastes.  So I finally got around to making my own.

Given that making your own natural muesli basically involves just mixing a bunch of stuff together and then eating it, it is a remarkably simple process.  My first attempt is very tasty.  Even S who is not a muesli eater commented it was yum when he stole some of my breakfast.  I think this is a mix I will be making again, but I do like variety, so expect some different recipes in the months to come.

Do you like muesli?  What type and how do you eat it?

Lisa's Natural Muesli - take 1
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup soy and linseed bran straws
1 cup natural almonds roughly chopped
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried apple cut into pieces about the size of the cranberries

Put in a bowl, mix together, eat any way you enjoy!

Friday, May 4, 2012


I am generally very good about bringing my lunch to work.  Not only does it save me a lot of money (where I work you are very lucky to get change from $10 for lunch) but it also helps me get in my 5 serves of veggies a day.  In summer I eat a wide range of salads.  In winter it is usually veggie soups, ratatouille with cous cous or a veggie curry of some sort.

However, every now and then, often on a Friday when my brain has run out of the energy needed to remind me to bring something with me, I buy lunch.

On those days I am almost paralysed by the choices available.  I've worked in the same street for almost 15 years (although for different companies and in different buildings, crazy I know) and in that time we have gone from one grubby takeaway and one nice sandwich shop to a plethora of choices.  You can get everything from gourmet sandwiches, to sushi, dumplings, pasta, the standard chinese and greasy chips, etc.  So it is a big decision.

Today I went with Turkish.  Delicious fluffy rice, topped with chicken and a side salad.  Actually surprisingly healthy for a takeaway lunch option.  And so delicious.  I ate well beyond what I needed to, but it is hard when it is so yummy.  Time for a walk around the block I think!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Koko Black take 2

I haven't been there in months, and then within weeks I've had two visits to Koko Black - believe me I'm not complaining!

This time I opted for the walnut brownie served with hot chocolate sauce and vanilla bean icecream.  The presentation at Koko Black is always gorgeous and as someone who eats first with their eyes, it is always a delight when such a plate is placed before me.  The brownie was rich, yet surprisingly crumbly, so the hot chocolate sauce was lovely with it.  In fact the hot chocolate sauce was delicious on the brownie, with the vanilla ice-cream or just by itself.  It is lucky we were with friends or I might have been tempted to lick out the little pot it came in, as it is I probably took a layer of china off with my spoon.

After the chocolate overload of our last visit, I decided to forgo the hot chocolate as a drink and instead chose a pot of tea.  It really was the perfect match for my brownie and meant I didn't end up in the same diabetic coma as last time.

We had been to a BBQ earlier in the day and S was stuffed so he just ordered a cappuccino.  However in true Koko Black style, even the coffee came with chocolate in the form of a small cup of chocolate shavings to scatter over the top.  He said it was delicious.

Koko Black is definitely not for every day, but it is the perfect place for leisurely indulgence with friends - the kind of indulgence that means I will be doing my power walks this week!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Flox Tights

Check out my "normal" opaque tights.
(Not the best photo - it is hard taking a picture of your legs.)
Other than a random week in November and my time in Adelaide over Christmas, I don't feel like I had a real summer.  Scorching days were pretty much non-existent.  My power bill was the lowest it has ever been owing to the lack of air conditioning use.  So you would think that the change into winter weather would be easy.  But somehow I'm struggling this year.  I keep finding myself not quite warmly enough dressed, particularly at work.  I've had too many days of cold feet so today I brought out the big guns - my Flox tights.

I discovered Flox tights last year.  They are the holy grail - fleecy lined tights.  Yes you read that right.  Some genius managed to merge tracksuit pants with opaque tights and the result is awesome.  They aren't quite as warm as thermal leggings, but they are close and they look exactly like normal opaque tights so no one will know your secret to staying warm.

They do have a slight tendency to pill, so you need to be careful with your handwashing and they do stretch a bit over time - but people, they are fleecy lined tights, they are still awesome.

Apparently this year they are also selling footless tights.  This I don't understand.  Being someone with perpetually cold feet, why if it is cold you would not want your feet covered is beyond me.  But if that is your thing, the option is there.

So if like me, you insist on continuing to wear dresses through winter I highly recommend Flox!  You can buy them here on their website.

This review is all my own opinion, I am not in anyway connected with Flox, other than through my now toasty warm legs.