Wednesday, August 29, 2012

You do win friends with salad

Winter has not left the building.  We are still experiencing some very cold mornings (-6 yesterday) and icy winds, however every day is just that bit longer, the sun is that bit warmer and spring flowers are appearing here there and everywhere.

It all has me wanting a change in my diet.  In winter I love a hot lunch.  I fight off the cold with hearty soups, steaming pasta and warming casseroles.  But now those lunches are starting to feel a bit heavy.  Like my winter coat I no longer need that hot food injection in the middle of the day.  It is time to return to my other love, salad!

I know Homer Simpson thinks you don't win friends with salad but he clearly never met me!  Even just a humble green salad has so many options.  I love the combination of tastes and textures and I just feel so good after eating one.  Today's salad has mixed leaves, cucumber, capsicum, avocado, carrot, tomato and mushrooms.  With every mouthful I feel just that bit closer to spring.

Do you think salad is good for making friends?  And what is your favourite salad?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dance Camp

I spent the weekend at Dance Camp.  Three days of dancing have left various parts of my body in pain.  I'm hideously sleep deprived after late night dance parties followed by early morning (vitally important) stretch sessions.  I have a giant pile of dirty dance clothes waiting to be washed.  But I'm utterly thrilled at having experienced it all and am completely inspired by just how brilliant the teachers were.

I could go on and on about how wonderful the weekend was, but here are a few of my favourite highlights:

  • Dancing till I dropped. I can't remember the last time I danced so much in such a short period of time.
  • Lazing in the sun.  It was sunny and warm all weekend and between classes I soaked up as much as I could.
  • I spent all weekend in comfy track pants, t-shirts and wore socks with my open toe heels - and I didn't feel daggy.  It is the outfit of choice among dancers.
  • The teachers were brilliant, funny and inspiring.  I feel so motivated, not only by the wonderful moves and techniques they taught but also to bring some of their tips into my own teaching.
  • Spending time with my dancing friends, on the dance floor, lounging between classes, over dinner, in the car.  There were so many hilarious and irreverent conversations that we had all the time in the world for.

For many years I let the nervous anticipation that precedes any new activity limit my life.  Before heading to camp this weekend I certainly had the butterflies and doubts, but I powered through them and had a truly awesome time.  I think it really shows that as real as the fear of trying something new is, it is important not to let it control your life.  Getting out of your comfort zone every now and then is a really positive thing to do.  Most of the time when you work through the nerves you come away with new skills, new memories and a fantastic experience.

Have you powered through nerves and tried something new recently?

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Yesterday was sunny and mild.  It might be stretching things to say it was warm, but for once I didn't have to wear a coat or reach for gloves.

Today is a complete contrast, grey, cold, raining.  And yet somehow today, spring seems more apparent.  I don't know if it is just that the soft colours of early spring are easier to see against the dull grey sky but today, everywhere I look I can see blossom opening, tree branches turning the reddish colour that shows sap running, the first tiny feathery green leaves appearing on the willows.  The wattle seems to glow with golden covering of flowers.

I wish I could have taken a photo of it for you, but that would have involved going out in the rain and trust me, while I may be able to see spring arriving, I can feel winter hanging on.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Have you ever noticed how last night's yummy dinner, is suddenly extra delicious when eaten as leftovers?  And maybe it is a bit of schadenfreude but it is extra, extra good when all your colleagues just have boring sandwiches for lunch.

I get bored of standard lunches pretty quickly, so I often make extra at dinner time to give me something different.  Today's lunch was leftovers of leftovers - recycling at its best.  I made a giant pot of bolognaise sauce on the weekend which was turned into several lasagnes.  But even after that we had enough to have it with pasta last night and leave me some for lunch today.  My hours of cooking on Sunday have so far made 4 meals for us, all the time spent making the key ingredient seems very worth it at this point.

What is your favourite lunch?  Are you a fan of leftovers like me?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

C.R.O.W.N Project

No post here today, because I've got a post over on the CROWN Project -

The C.R.O.W.N Project is a fabulous site with a simple mission, to uplift and build.

The Crown Project exists to bring women/girls of all ages together collectively to:
  • Build genuine friendships and support.
  • Take ownership of personal self esteem and use it to help others build their self esteem.
  • Participate in positive conversations to bring hope and support to women.
  • Honor divine and unique journeys.
  • Share stories and find voices.
  • Gain strength and knowledge in our lives.
  • Promote awareness, strength and love.
  • Learn/participate in educational seminars, workshops, group work, social events, sharing media, and pledges.
  • Celebrate the beauty of womanhood.
  • Come together to fight the distorted image of beauty media is trying to push.
  • Discover individual astonishing lives.

The stories are diverse and so worth reading.  Big thanks to the C.R.O.W.N Project for featuring me, I'm absolutely chuffed.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Guzman y Gomez - free burrito day

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Canberran in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a free meal.  Yes, in this city where the average salaries are the highest in the country the population seems acutely attuned to anything they can get for free.  I've seen events massively over subscribed, people walking for miles owing to not enough parking and queues of hundreds for a free event.  So when Canberra's newest Mexican restaurant Guzman y Gomez announced they would be serving free burritos from 11am till 8pm today, I knew that the citizens of the 'Berra would be out in force.

One might think the freezing weather, bitter wind and icy rain would deter the crowds, but they had obviously never contended with the Canberran love of anything free.  Throughout the day I heard reports of long lines but the reports also indicated the lines moved quickly, so straight after work S and I headed over to check it out - hey we are as fond of a free thing as the next Canberran.

The line was long but true to the rumours it moved quickly and it really didn't take much time till we were inside being serenaded by the mariachi band and were considering burrito options.  There was a crack team on in the kitchen, I reckon they were turning out an order every 15 or so seconds.  We ended up trying the Spicy chicken guerrero, the steak chipotle, the pork chipotle and the barramundi burritos.  Given it was only one burrito per person and there were two of us, I will leave it up to your imagination to work out how we managed that.

All of them were very tasty, although in general I felt they could have done with more sauce.  There are sides of sauces you can serve yourself but given the crowds they were hard to get to and I'm not quite sure how you are then meant to get the sauce etc into the wrapped up burrito.  I don't know which was my favourite, probably either the barrumundi or the pork - which probably means the pork is awesome given that I'm not usually a huge pork fan.  What I can tell you was that after eating that much I ended up so full that I've been sitting blob like ever since.

Only time will tell how Guzman y Gomez will go when people actually have to pay for their food but I can say it certainly was a hit with the Canberra freebie seeking public. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Beautiful Blogger Award

While we were in Paris, Kim from A Dag's Life (a cute quirky blog well worth a visit) nominated me for a Beautiful Blogger award and I promised to respond when I got back.  First of all a big thank you to Kim, it is just lovely to have someone think I have a beautiful blog!  I'm very aware that we have now been back for nearly a month (eek how did that happen) but I've finally found time to sit down and think about this so here goes.  In response to my award I need to share seven random facts about myself with you all, they are:

1.  If I could have any talent in the world I would love to be able to sing.  I sing very softly to S (who by some miracle actually likes it) and loudly to myself in the car.  But I'm fooling no one, this is not a voice for sharing.

2.  My favourite colour is blue and yet most of the contents of my house seem to be red.  No idea how that happened.  Still all my favourite jewellery pieces contain sapphires, so I guess I've got my priorities right.

3.  I love scary movies that feature zombies / vampires / supernatural themes etc.  But anything involving humans doing horrible things to each other, particularly those that are filmed in a documentary style - Wolf Creek and The Strangers I'm looking at you - will give me nightmares for weeks.

4.  I think cheese is food of the gods.

5.  I make my own muesli mix.  This started because S thought it would be cheaper - it isn't because I put all sorts of expensive ingredients in but it is yummy and much healthier than the mass produced versions.

6.  I have the most amazingly wonderful group of friends who are way too cool for me.  I wonder if they will figure out that I'm the dag in the mix one day.

7.  I don't drink coffee, but I love tea.  I would drink somewhere between 4-8 cups in an average day.

Now I am meant to nominate 7 blogs that I think are beautiful.  Recipients, feel free to do the list of 7 things or not, I'm just happy that my readers can find some more beautiful blogs to visit.

The CROWN Project - a project sharing stories of personal growth and resilience from amazing women.

Alexandrea Nea The Art of Afternoon Tea - gorgeous hand drawn illustrations accompany yummy recipes

Best of Fates - awesome tales of awkwardness 

Lovely Jublies - Z has the most fabulous style and truly covetable shoe collection - plus she is hilarious

An Accident of Hope - Summer Pierre does the most amazing illustrated one page stories.

Super Kawaii Mama - I can only hope that I can ever look even half as glamorous as Candice DeVille on an off day.

Joy the Baker - for her stunningly beautiful food photos, delicious recipes and oh so honest writing.

Monday, August 13, 2012

What day is it?

Yesterday, very early in the still dark morning, I woke up.  The howling wind had woken me and I had an inward groan as I wondered just how long I had till I had to get out of my comfortable warm bed and face what was obviously a cold day.  And then I remembered, it was Sunday.  Sunday!  I could stay in bed as long as I liked!  It felt like my weekend had just grown an extra day.

It isn't often that this self trickery happens, but every time it does it feels like I've been magically granted an extra day's rest.  All day yesterday I felt a little like it was a holiday.  We had been busy and done nearly all the chores on Saturday, so I could laze, taking my time to work on the photos of our holiday, to catch up on some recorded TV viewing and we even went to the movies (Batman is very good).

Even today it feels like I had an extra long weekend.  So yay for self delusion I say, it made a great weekend even better!

Do you often forget what day of the week it is?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Everywhere around me I see signs of impending spring.  The daffodils are opening, blossom trees flowering, new leaves are appearing on my roses reminding me I really have to prune them.  But I have to say, those plants must be able to feel something I can't because it still feels darn cold to me.

And as such, comfort foods are calling.  We have been enjoying hearty soups, warming curries and rich casseroles each night, not to mention the odd delicious hot pudding.  So when I saw that crumpets were on special, I didn't waste any time getting them home and into the toaster.  A hot crumpet smothered in rapidly melting butter and honey has to be one of the most cozy snacks ever created.

Cold weather may not be my favourite thing, but it certainly is an excellent excuse for some truly delicious comfort food.

Is spring arriving near you?  And what is your favourite comfort food?

Monday, August 6, 2012


Before and After
I had such fun on Saturday at the Lindy Charm School for Girls workshop.  A morning spent playing with hair and makeup really is heaven for me.  But along with the lessons on styling, undergarments and a good eyeliner flick, there were some important messages.

We began the workshop by reciting the Lindy Charm School for Girls oath.  It was filled with hilarious things about always ensuring our seams and the seams of others are straight and always endeavouring to wear red lipstick.  However the truly important part of the oath was that we would endeavour to always find an opportunity to pass on a compliment.

As Miss Chrissy said, you never know how someone is really feeling.  Their fab outfit or cute haircut doesn't mean that inside they are glowing and happy.  Paying that small compliment, just a few words can really make someone's day.  I've written about compliments before, about how I'm still learning to accept them gracefully and how they really can give you a lift, but Miss Chrissy's oath reminded me that it isn't just about getting compliments, I can give them too.

One of the things that I really noticed over the course of the morning was how the mood in the room changed as people glamed up.  I don't think it would be going too far to say that many of the women slinked into the room, eyes down, posture slumped.  No doubt most of them, like me, rarely leave the house completely barefaced and with un-done and un-washed hair (it is much easier to style hair that has had at least a day if not two since the last wash).  However over the course of the morning, the room got progressively louder, happier and more energetic. 

It wasn't just that we were putting on our face and doing our hair it was that our neighbours and the instruction team were continually giving compliments.  All around me I could hear people saying "your eyebrows look lovely", "wow, check out how well you did those pin curls", "you look amazing".  By the time we got together to pose for a group photo, there were pin-up poses, beautiful posture, wide smiles and laughter all around.

Confidence is such a tricky thing to find.  Makeup and hair might help, but I have to say, a compliment is the best confidence booster I've ever found.  So Miss Chrissy, I'm doing my best to wear red lipstick regularly, I will check my seams and those of others and most importantly, at every possible opportunity, I aim to give a compliment.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Charm School

Today I went to charm school and emerged extremely charming, if I do say so myself.

The Lindy Charm School for Girls, run by the fabulous Miss Chrissy and her team, is all about vintage glamour.  Today's workshop was an introduction to vintage hair and makeup techniques and it was brilliant.  A room full of bare-faced, lank haired women at the start of the morning finished as a team of pinups by the end.  We learnt the importance of appropriate undergarments, how to put on a vintage face, pin curls and victory rolls  and each of us left at the end of the session looking absolutely glamorous.

But don't take my word for it, here is how the day went down ...

What better way to start a charming day than with an elegant cup of tea.  While at the cafe we spotted another patron with a giant makeup bag - it was a popular pre-workshop venue!

Getting my kit in order ...

My gorgeous friend Megs as waist cinching demo.  Note Miss Chrissy's subtle knee in the back cinching style.

Megs demonstrating a cinched waist!  That waist cincher is almost 100 years old and still reducing waists with maximum discomfort but serious efficiency.

Note the concentration!  I love the new eyeliner technique they taught me.

Megs gets pin curled.

There is nothing quite like a whole room of women, hands in the air, concentration solid on the mirror in front.

Working on those pin curls - I got a good handle on them by the end.

Victory roll work - those babys are hard to do!

The charming duo at the end of the day.
I really have to thank the totally gorgeous Megs for taking me along to Charm School.  It was such a fun morning and I will be using the techniques I learned at every possible opportunity.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Our last week in Copenhagen was quite cool.  "It is good" I told S as we put jackets on over t-shirts "we will be all aclimatised for when we get home".  WRONG!  A nippy breeze and grey skies do not aclimatise you for -5 degree mornings and days where the apparent temperature is 4.5.  The weather man tells me that this is a particularly cold winter and my toes tell me that too as they struggle to thaw out.

But every year at this time, when I'm feeling like it will never warm up again, spring starts to raise its head.  I've spotted the first blossom trees, the daffodils by my front window are budding up and the wattle is coming out.  Spring is coming, I've just got to survive the rest of winter first!