Friday, December 31, 2010

A new year poem

I'm in a tropical paradise right now, but thought I'd pre-write this little post to wish you all a very happy new year. 
As we draw the curtains on 2010 and welcome 2011, I wanted to share with you a poem that I first read in secondary school. It's not deep and meaningful, but I think it contains a very sweet message. Let's find time to smile in 2011!

I shot a smile into the air

It came to earth I know not where
Perhaps on someone else’s face
In some forgotten quiet place.
Perhaps somewhere a sleeping child
Has had a happy dream and smiled
Or some old soul about to die
Has smiled and made a little sigh.
Has sighed a simple final prayer
Which lifts up gently in the air
And flows into the world so wild
Perhaps to wake the sleeping child.
~Michael Leunig

Thursday, December 23, 2010


December 22 – Travel 
How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year? 
(Author: Tara Hunt)

Once again, today's reverb10 prompt comes at what seems like a very appropriate time. In fact, today will be my last reverb10 post, as I will soon be off exploring the world and away from my computer. To briefly recap on the year that was, travel in 2010 was not anywhere near as extensive or elaborate as it has been in other years. This year we are yet to travel abroad (however, this will be rectified in a matter of hours!) and have instead visited a number of places around regional Victoria... well as spending a week in tropical North Queensland. 
Next on our list is one of our favourite destinations for relaxation and rejuvenation:
These are photos from our last visit. Can you tell that I'm literally bursting with excitement? A full trip report will be posted upon my return.  

While travel has been minimal (by our usual standards) this year, we made a conscious decision to make 2010  a low key travel year, as we are saving for our two month trip to Europe in mid-2011. To answer the second part of today's prompt, I would love for "Eurotrip" (as it's come to be known) to be filled with much laughter, discovery (especially in a food sense!) and new friendships. Our itinerary includes such cities as Dubai, Paris, Barcelona, Florence, San Sebastián, Munich, Amsterdam and Kuala name just a few! Jealous much?!

As this will be my last real post for the year, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers every happiness over the festive period. Have a brilliant new year and I look forward to catching up on all of your news upon my return! 

Season's Greetings!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A taste of Japan

This afternoon, I was delighted to find a parcel for me all the way from Japan. I knew that could only mean one thing - my beautiful girlfriend, Ms Fi, had very generously decided to spoil me (yet again!). While, I always endeavor to resist opening my Christmas gifts from abroad until as close to Christmas as possible, Australian quarantine had hacked into this parcel and had done a less than stellar job at re-wrapping it (not that I'm complaining - it's important to maintain our pristine ecosystem!). Accordingly, I decided I could justify taking a sneak peak early (sorry, Fi!).
I'm always particularly excited when Fi sends packages, as they are quite often, Japanese foodstuffs and, in particular, Manjū. This parcel did not disappoint and I was thrilled to see the little doughy ovals (individually wrapped of course - there's no other way in Japan!). My beloved and I fell in love with these treats while travelling throughout the south of Japan with Fi during the blossom (sakura) season of 2008. 
Once I saw these babies, I couldn't resist trying one! 

Thank you so very much, dear Fi! You are such a special and thoughtful friend and I'm extremely lucky to have a person like you in my life!

On a concluding note, I personally think Asian desserts are far, far superior to Western treats (with the exception of a good tiramisu or vanilla slice!). The use of bean pastes, taro, coconut milk, pandan leaf, sago, jack fruit (not simultaneously...although there's an idea!) and the other various goods involved make for more complex and delicate flavours, less overbearing richness and, quite frankly, huge amounts of deliciousness! What do others think? If you're new to these flavours, I implore you to take a trip down to your local Asian bakery/grocery store to try some cakes/desserts NOW!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Choc-peanut butter balls (and a lack of reverberation!)

I've sort of had enough of the introspective navel gazing that seems to accompany most of my reverb10 posts. As such, I'm having a little break. I also think that you've all probably heard enough about the highlights of my year and my numerous foibles (and believe me, they are numerous!). Interestingly, it seems that some other participants have been growing weary of the exercise too.

So onwards and upwards - it's time to share with you one of my all time favourite recipes. This was initially sent to me by my oldest, dearest friend (who has since informed me that she's lost the recipe and could I please send it back to her!). It has since become a staple in the home of my brilliant Swedish/Kiwi pals and is demanded annually by my parents. These little gems are salty, sweet and crunchy. They have enough fibre and protein to make you think they're healthy...and enough fat and sugar to make you feel just a wee bit guilty! The thing I love most about this recipe is that no baking is required. You can literally throw the ingredients together in minutes - a great last minute dinner party gift.

Choc-peanut butter balls
Makes approximately 40 (2.5 x 2.5cm) balls

1 cup good quality chunky peanut butter
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1 cup chopped dates
1tbls butter/margarine 
150g cooking chocolate (I suggest dark chocolate)

Mix peanut butter, sugar, nuts, dates and butter well. 
Shape dough into small balls.
Melt chocolate and spread on top of the balls
Refrigerate for a minimum of 20 voilà! How easy was that?!
Note that I was in a rush to prepare this batch and went for a *cough* rustic look with the chocolate. You can even see the distinct fork marks, which I actually think give the treats a little character. If you have more time up your sleeve, I suggest skewering each ball and then coating the top half in the melted chocolate.

Enjoy...and trust me, it's hard to stop at one! 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Healing (oh the irony!) and C25K training

December 19 – Healing 

What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011? 
(Author: Leoni Allan)

Today's prompt seems like a cruel, cruel irony right now. Despite this, it does lend itself well to a description of my day and my now delayed 5k running preparation. At around 7am this morning I decided to go for a 45km bike ride in Melbourne's east. Nearing the halfway point of the ride (a café, of course!), I rode off the bike path, onto the grass area next to it and, in attempt to get back onto the path, mistook the height of the asphalt and ended up sprawled across the pavement, missing quite a bit of my epidermis! Here's the evidence (*WARNING* slight gore factor, but I have refrained from posting the most gruesome bits):
Shredded 2XU compression skins - there goes $100...but better those shredded than my skin! Mind you, there's about a 4x4cm section of skin missing from my knee!
Elbow ouchies!
Even my thumb didn't escape the fall! (Note that the cats seem more interested in any potential food than their mother's wellbeing!)

My accident has two implications for today's blog post. Firstly, in response to today's reverb10 prompt, I can say that I really do hope that these physical aches and pains mend in 2011. Secondly, with regard to my C25K training, I might have to take it easy for the next week or so. Let's hope I can pull some miracle out of the bag for improving my endurance in January! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

C25K update - Week 3, Day 1

Yesterday afternoon I made the executive decision that I would up the ante and move onto Week 3 of the C25K program (see this for some context). I headed over to the gym after a day of work and hit the treadmill. The work out was once again surprisingly easy - I comfortably ran/walked a little more than 3.5km in around 28 minutes. However, my ankles were aching throughout the workout. Upon further investigation, I am now able to confirm that I will to have to train outdoors going forward. You see, the springiness of the treadmill means that for people like me (tall, hyper flexible and with a less than perfect running technique), my ankles tend to move laterally when I land (don't visualise it - I can guarantee it'll make you feel queasy!).

So, what's the plan? 
No more treadmills obviously!
Today is a rest day (which, in good news, means there may be some food blogging involved!). Tomorrow, provided that the ankles are feeling good, I will head to the local park and attempt Week 3, Day 2 of the program. It will be particularly interesting to see whether I struggle with Week 3 "on land", given that I don't have a belt propelling myself forwards. I will, of course, report back.

Lesson Learned

December 17 – Lesson Learned 
What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? 
(Author: Tara Weaver)

In addition to what I have learned about my physical capabilities, I have also learnt two valuable lessons in 2010. Firstly, I am most efficient and successful when I'm very busy. It is at these peak times that my supreme organisational skills kick in and I make time to really get things done. The second (and ostensibly conflicting) lesson I have learnt is that I do need my down- and alone-time (symptomatic of being an only-child  perhaps?) - time and space to focus on the little things that make me feel good. In a sense, 2010 has been a contrasting year of very busy moments and "me time". Let's hope that I can balance these opposite states in a way that is conducive to a "happy Georgia" in 2011. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thoughts on my first 5k training

I’ve commenced training for my forthcoming 5k event and am feeling like a big mixing bowl of nerves, curiosity, energy and confusion. On Tuesday, I played two games of basketball and had a break from exercise on Wednesday. Yesterday, I commenced day one, week two of the C25K program. As I noted in a previous post, I decided to forgo week one, as I am on a tight schedule (the event is in early February). Week two of C25K involves 90 second jogging intervals, followed by 120 second walks over 20 minutes, bookended by two five minute warm up/cool down walks. I received a free week long trial pass to the gym at work, which, I was very happy to learn, is particularly well equipped. The treadmills even have a touch screen and USB port for uploading run statistics. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my USB stick on hand, so can’t fully remember the results. I do recall that I had covered 3.5km by the end of the half hour. 

I have to confess that during and after the treadmill session I didn’t in any way feel tired, sweaty or out of breath. Indeed, after 30-45 seconds of my walks yesterday, I was ready and rearing to jog again. I’m not sure whether it’s because treadmill running is significantly easier than pounding the pavement; whether I have a greater level of basic fitness than others who attempt the program; or if my treadmill speeds were too slow. I can tell you that (according to the treadmill), my jogs were at 10km/h (6.2m/h) and my walks were between 6.5 (4) and 7km/h (4.35m/h). I’m not trying to build speed in anyway – rather, I’m intent on working up to being able to cover a 5k distance. 

I am acutely aware that the C25K program does not in any way advocate skipping weeks, but in all honesty, I am tempted to start day 1, week 3 of the program after work this evening – a 5 minute warm up, followed by two repetitions of the following:
 Jog 90 seconds; then  
Walk 90 seconds; then   
 Jog 3 minutes; then  
Walk 3 minutes.  
    It sounds doable and perhaps more challenging than week two. However, I remain somewhat conflicted with regard to the best approach – perhaps I should try running outside instead, or trying a different type of treadmill, or even sticking at week two and just taking the whole thing slow. So many questions and probably just as many answers!

    I would be particularly eager to hear from anyone with comments or suggestions on this, or perhaps even about your own experience with building endurance.


    December 16 – Friendship 
    How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? 
    (Author: Martha Mihalick)

    Brief post today, because, quite frankly, all of my friends continue to drive the evolution of my perspective on the world. I am privileged to have such a colourful bunch of friends, from all walks of life, from different cultures and races and who hold different religious beliefs and values. I am consistently amazed to learn about and, more importantly, understand what many of my friends consider “normal”. Moreover, being challenged about my own version of “normal” also continues to be a fascinating exercise. As someone with a very liberal view of the world, who is religiously agnostic (or, as I like to call it, “hedging my bets”!) and has had a middle class upbringing, some of my friends found my willingness to become "mortgaged" prior to becoming married confronting. To me it was totally normal and acceptable – I’d even go as far as saying it was a prudent decision. Others marvel at what they consider to be a privileged upbringing – compared to them it likely was; compared to most of my peers at the time, it was simple, loving and comfortable. Some find my drive to keep learning somewhat strange. However, I will always be drawn to ways to absorb new information. Others do not understand the love and compassion I have for animals. The list goes on...
    In spite of our different values, I truly appreciate all of these perspectives. In fact, I wish more people in the world would sit down and discuss, debate and laugh about such things. Not only will we find that we are all more similar than we are different, but I also believe that by articulating our norms, we can engender acceptance.

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    5 minutes

    December 15 – 5 Minutes 
    Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. 
    (Author: Patti Digh)

    Okay, here goes. My most memorable moments in 2010 included:
    • the glory (oh the glory!) of the mighty Magpies' Grand Final victory;
    • spending 5 blissful nights with my beloved relaxing in tropical North Queensland, surrounded by lush rainforest;
    • the purchase of my bicycle (an excellent investment if I do say so myself!);
    • the successful juggling of part time study and full time work (including a change of jobs in April);
    • the many hours, my beautiful Maine Coon spent draped over my lap;
    • my participation in the wedding of a close girlfriend;
    • spending time with my international guests (who came for the above wedding); and
    • being spoilt rotten on my Birthday mid-year (and indeed every day by my other half).
    How five minutes flies! There are clearly many other moments that made 2010 the special and busy year that it was, but I'll have to save those for another post. 

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010


    December 14 – Appreciate 
    What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? 
    (Author: Victoria Klein)

    Today's prompt ties in nicely to a big decision/commitment that I made last night. In the past year, through a combination of more exercise and working towards removing the guilt I had associated with food for so long, I have come to appreciate the wonderful machine that my body is and what it is capable of. I have enjoyed a number of long bike rides and still marvel at the fact that my legs are capable of taking me from one side of Melbourne to another. 

    While I can proudly brag about cycling over long distances, the same cannot be said for running (as I noted in a previous post). To date, 1km is the longest I've ever run before turning into a puddle of jelly or similar. It's not that I necessarily *can't* run further, it's that I have no reason to. (N.B. I'm sure I've run further than 1km in the many hundreds of games of basketball that I've played, but basketball involves a different type of fitness - the capability to sprint over short distances, typically followed by the opportunity to catch one's breath). Anyway, you're probably wondering why I'm rambling. This is the reason:

    Essentially it's a 5km charity run around Melbourne's glorious Albert Park Lake in February to raise money for the Leukemia Foundation. While I'm terrified about the prospect of running 5km (at least in my current state of fitness), I know that without a goal, I'll never know what my body is capable of. Moreover, the cause resonates strongly with me (and I know will with a number of blog readers) after we lost a very dear friend to cancer a few years ago. I know that his braveness and positivity in the face of adversity will be a source of inspiration throughout my attempts at running. 

    So here goes - I officially have 53 days to get my derrière in gear for the event. With less than 8 weeks to train, I intend to start the C25K program (a 9 week "couch" to 5km running program) at week 2 (well, I need to expedite the program somehow and figure that with my basic level of riding/basketball fitness, I may be able to manage starting at a slightly more advanced stage).

    So there you have it - I am so very thankful of what I am capable of doing and *hopefully* will be capable of. Please brace yourself for lots and lots of running updates and whining over the next 8 weeks and thank you in advance for your support.

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Gingerbread gifts

    If any of you were wondering where that mountain of gingerbread went, I can tell you that they're here - wrapped and ready to be distributed by yours truly.


    December 13 – Action 
    When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? 
    (Author: Scott Belsky)

    I'm sorry folks, I just can't deal with another inward looking post. I'm a well-balanced, happy person and have been feeling almost interrogated by the last few reverb10 prompts. Please allow me to use this:

    ...and, for shits and giggles, this:

    Thanks for your understanding! 

    The Yorkshire Hotel

    Where: The Yorkshire Hotel (48 Hoddle St, Abbotsford, VIC 3067)
    What: Sunday Lunch (using this discount)
    Rating: 15/20

    Lunch is the new dinner in my opinion. Or maybe I'm just saying that because I'm a morning person and find it hard to partake in interesting discussions beyond about 10pm. In any case, I was thrilled to learn that my beloved booked us into the Yorkshire Hotel for Sunday lunch. After a long, early morning bike ride, what can be better than tucking into a couple of juicy steaks and a bottle of red?!

    First and foremost, I have to say that I was most impressed by the staff at the Yorkshire. Warm and down to earth, these blokes were clearly passionate about the refurbished joint and the quality of its food. The atmosphere was cozy and family friendly - it's the sort of place that could simultaneously please a number of generations.

    We started our meal with a bottle of Rothbury Estate Cabernet Merlot and some fresh bread with olive oil. Our 500g aged rib-eye steaks soon arrived, cooked perfectly and accompanied by a peppercorn sauce. A crispy cabbage salad and thick wedges of potato complemented the meat well.
    After eating this dinosaur-sized steak, our stomachs were full, but our "dessert stomachs" were open for business! We opted to conclude our meal with a dessert that took our fancy with its fascinating combination of ingredients (and the promise of homemade ice-cream!) - ruby grapefruit jelly with fennel and Campari ice-cream.
    The grapefruit jelly was quite the palate cleanser, with much of the fruit's tartness retained (to my delight and my beloved's dismay). The ice-cream was milder in flavour than I had initially anticipated, but it worked well with the tartness of the jelly. 

    Overall, the Yorkshire Hotel more than lived up to my expectations. It's rare to find an unpretentious gem that can boast both a great approach to food and service. We look forward to our next visit! Yorkshire Hotel on Urbanspoon

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Body integration

    December 12 – Body Integration
    This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? 
    (Author: Patrick Reynolds)

    Oh dear, we have another navel gazing prompt today...but hey, at least y'all got some gingerbreads between my self reflection, right?! 
    I'm not sure I can recall a moment when my mind and body felt totally integrated in 2010. However, one event comes to mind when I think about this topic. It occurred during a few hours of pampering (facial, massage, hair treatment etc...bliss!) at a local day spa. During the facial, I recall feeling so relaxed that it were as if my mind and body were totally physically disconnected. In contemporary literature, when we read about people dying, analogies of people's souls floating above their body are often employed. While I was in no way (I hope!!) close to death, I did feel as if I was having a bit of an "out of body" experience. There's nothing like a day spa to reach new heights of relaxation!

    Spicy Swedish Gingerbread

    Last Christmas I decided that rather than purchasing presents for friends, baking them gifts was the way to go. The idea was a resounding success and I have been receiving requests from my beloved's colleagues for "that amazing gingerbread" ever since. In 2010, the trend continues and last night I threw together a batch of gingerbread cookies. This much loved recipe comes all the way from my dear friend in Sweden, whose baking talent never ceases to amaze. These cookies are spicy, a little chewy and, according to my beloved, are reminiscent of "the taste of Christmas" (whatever that is!). While this recipe is very straightforward, please note that the dough is best prepared 1-2 days in advance of baking. The wait is worth it, as it allows the spices to more strongly infuse the dough (not unlike how a curry improves in the fridge overnight). So here goes - "the taste of Christmas":
    Spicy Swedish Gingerbread
    Makes approximately 250 cookies 

    300g butter
    2 cups caster sugar
    0.4 cup maple syrup
    0.8 cup water
    2 tbls ground ginger*
    2 tbls ground cloves*
    1 tbls ground cardamom*
    2 tbls cinnamon*
    1 tbls baking soda
    6¾ cups flour (appox)
    *I sometimes up these quantities slightly for an even spicier taste.
    Cream butter, sugar and maple syrup.
    Blend spices and baking soda into the butter mix.
    Mix in water.
    Add flour gradually, until mix becomes a smooth firm dough (believe it or not, you'll need around the specified 6¾ cups).
    Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours (I refrigerated mine for 2 days).
    Preheat oven to 200°C.
    Cut dough into manageable sizes to make the rolling out process easier.
    On a floured surface, roll out dough to a thickness of approximately ½ cm (N.B. thicker dough will require a slightly longer cooking time) and cut shapes .
    Place on a non-stick tray.
    Bake for around 5 minutes (it's great if you have a number of trays, which you can use on a rotational basis throughout the baking process, as this recipe makes quite a few a lot of cookies!)
    As you can see, I used a gingerbread man cutter, a star cutter and a circle cutter (below).
    Oh no! How'd this one get in there? 
    You'll end up with a veritable mountain of cookies by the end of the baking process.
    Oh, and be sure to break a few cookies, which will then become "testers"!

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    11 (three!) things

    December 11 – 11 Things 
    What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? 
    (Author: Sam Davidson)

    These prompts are getting more serious by the day! I have to say that I'm pretty content in life and really cannot identify "11 things" that I'd like to eliminate. Three is all I can muster at this point in time. I'm also not sure that I can be bothered going into how I will go about eliminating these "things" from my life and I think that any changes to my life as a consequence of their elimination are fairly self-evident (i.e. work it out for yourself!). So, here goes - 11 (or three!) things I want to eliminate:

    1. Embarrassment at my achievements - I am fairly kick ass in an academic sense, but constantly downplay my intelligence, fearing that people will regard me as conceited. However, I am aware that there is a way to balance pride in one's skills and modesty. (N.B. On re-reading of this point, I realise that it's hard to believe someone could be embarrassed by their achievements and describe themselves as "kick ass" in the same line...oops!)

    2. Pessimism - My beloved Magpies may be ten goals up (60 points for all you non-AFL fans out there) with only five minutes of game time remaining, but in my mind, there's still a very real possibility that they will lose. This approach can, at times, spill over into other aspects of my life. I suppose a negative approach guarantees that if the worst does indeed eventuate I will be prepared. On the other hand, it makes for rather miserable footy viewing companion!

    3. Taking things personally - I have moved forward in leaps and bounds in this area in 2010, thanks to a dear friend recommending this book. Now, I'm really not one for self help books, but this really is a little gem (and, incidentally, isn't what I'd consider a conventional self-help book). Essentially, Ruiz's idea is that nothing others say or do is because of you - rather, their words and actions are a projection of their own reality. This realisation has certainly had an effect on my people pleasing antics and I would like to further cement the notion in my mind in the coming year. 

    So there you have it, folks - the three "things" I need to work on eliminating in 2011. I feel as if I'm getting worse at this reverb10 business as the days of December tick over. I hope I'm not boring any of my readers - my sincere apologies if this is the case. You will be pleased to know that my next post will feature hang in there! 

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Homemade pizza

    I have been a lover [lover is perhaps the understatement of the century!] of pizza for many, many years, but until earlier this year I had remained ignorant of the ease with which one can make dough. In fact, I regularly searched for the best and most affordable pre-made pizza bases. Sadly, I was never 100% satisfied with purchased products and was subsequently encouraged by a colleague to make my own bases. I can only say that after trying this recipe, I'll be surprised if you ever go back to the purchased variety. These bases are incredibly easy, cheap and versatile and can be topped with any number of delights. 
    So here you have it - my rustic, simple homemade pizzas! Go on, have a crack at making these - you won't regret it!  

    Homemade pizzas 
    Makes 3 thin bases

    333g (approx 2.5 cups) strong bakers flour
    5g (approx 1 teaspoon) yeast 
    215ml tepid water
    pinch of salt
    1/3 teaspoon of sugar
    Preheat oven to around 230°C
    Mix sugar, yeast and water and allow to sit for a couple of minutes.
    Combine flour and salt and gradually add the sugar/yeast liquid. 
    Mix until you have a dough - it will initially be sticky, but should soon firm up.
    Knead for around 5 minutes (until smooth).
    Leave it covered in a bowl for around 30 minutes (until the dough has expanded somewhat).
    Split the dough into three.
    Roll out into the desired thickness and place on pizza trays (or trays lined with tinfoil). As pictured I like to stretch the dough out using my hands for a thinner base and more authentic look. 
    Add toppings (I use whatever's in the fridge) and bake for around 10 minutes.
    Two of today's pizzas were topped with tomato paste, ham, goats cheese, red onion, yellow capsicum, mushrooms, mozzarella and fresh basil from our herb garden (check out our lush basil at the moment!).
    Here they are:
    And again:
    The third pizza combined olive oil, salt, local garlic (purchased from the farmers market) and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. It would make a very simple and tasty entrée pizza.

    Now for the best part - consumption! 


    December 10 – Wisdom. 
    What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? 
    (Author: Susannah Conway)

    Money management is probably not the most exciting topic to blog about, so I'll keep today's post short and sweet (plus I have some delicious pizza to make). However, I would have to say that I was at my sagest this year, when I made the decision to set up an automatic savings plan. This set up essentially involves the automated removal of money from my everyday bank account and its deposit into a special little "Georgia's treats" account on a fortnightly basis. I barely notice the disappearance of $25 from my bank account every two weeks - it pales in comparison to mortgage repayments and other important purchases, bills etc. However, checking back on my "treat" account in September, I realised I had stashed away a nice little amount. In fact, it was enough to buy my new, shiny bicyclette! Huzzah!

    Thursday, December 9, 2010


    December 9  Party.
    What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. 
    (Author: Shauna Reid)

    First and foremost, today's prompt writer, Shauna is one of my favourite bloggers/writers. Her writing is wry, quirky and honest and I am thrilled that she has been asked to provide a reverb10 prompt (and you gotta love a fellow Aussie, right?!). Shauna, thanks for keeping me amused with your tales of Eating Disorder Pigeon and Friends among others, and for being a genuinely cool chick! 

    So, onto today's prompt....P-A-R-T-Y
    This year I was blessed to participate as a bridesmaid in my close girlfriend's wedding. (Incidentally, this is the same friend who labelled me as "most likely to be right, even when she isn't" around a decade ago). It was an absolute ripsnorter of a day and couldn't have been more enjoyable for the entire bridal party. However, it took place on the day of the hailstorm. If you ask any Melburnian about the hailstorm of 2010, they'll know precisely which day you are referring to. It was epic! 
    Exhibit A:
    We certainly didn't let a little (or a lot of!) bad weather spoil the day and tucked into a hearty feast and enjoyed a boogie at one of Melbourne's most illustrious (and historically controversial) venues. The day (and indeed, month) was made all the more special by the attendance of a number of my friends from abroad. 
    However, most importantly, I felt blessed to witnessed the union of two wonderful people who were (and are!) very much in love. What an absolute privilege!

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Wine @ 129

    Where: Wine @ 129 (129 Auburn Rd, Hawthorn East VIC 3123)
    What: After work drinks and dinner
    Rating: 10/20

    I'm going to keep my review of Wine @ 129 short and sweet, because I have very little to say and unfortunately did not have my camera/phone with me (hence the lack of pictures). The venue is small, but comfortable and modern, with a touch of history (evidenced by the exposed brick walls teamed with beautifully ornate high ceilings). The staff were courteous and efficient, but not memorable in any way. So far so good.
    However, the food, while described in incredibly appetising detail on the chalkboard menu, was disappointing and overpriced. Our soft shell crab did not seem to have even remotely united with the coconut or coriander as described on the menu. Similarly, chili seemed to be lacking from some of the purportedly "hot" dishes. The food highlight of the evening were the empanadas, but at nearly $15 (from memory) for four small pastries, I was not particularly impressed. The one dessert on offer - a chocolate, mint mousse topped with a layer of raspberry jelly - was extremely heavy, with a consistency not dissimilar to warmed margarine. While the food wasn't inedible, it certainly wasn't anything to write home about.
    I would strongly recommend that the establishment seek to ameliorate the quality of their food to better match the excellent effort they have put into creating a welcoming wine bar ambiance.Wine @ 129 on Urbanspoon

    Beautifully different

    December 8 – Beautifully Different. 
    Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. 
    (Author: Karen Walrond) 

    I have agonised over this topic for a number of hours and think it may warrant a focus group, which is not only extremely self-indulgent, but would take far too much of my time! After asking a number of friends and receiving an array of answers ranging from "You don't make me hate you" (always a good sign coming from a friend, right?!), "You're an educated Collingwood supporter with all your teeth" (astounding, right?!) and my beloved's "your bum" (yes, it is disproportionally "ample"), I decided to trawl through the archives of my brain for some sort of idea. 

    After a big meal accompanied by a few beers and a cider (a girl needs her inspiration after all!) I recalled a comment printed in my high school yearbook, which was written by a school friend who remains a very close girlfriend to this day. In the annual review of the school year, each completing student was individually pictured along with a "girl most likely to..." caption. Captions typically appealed to the 18-year-old female psyche - "Girl most likely to marry an oil tycoon" and "Girl most likely to breed echidnas as domestic pets" - that sort of thing. 

    However, I think that my friend may have pinpointed one thing that makes me different when she provided my caption - "Girl most likely to be right...even when she isn't". While the statement could, in part, be attributed to my debating abilities, I think it also describes my strong sense of justice and the passion with which I defend those people and things that I care about. Although this description may lead some to believe that I'm a stubborn, argumentative type, I don't think that is entirely correct. I am very open to new ideas and diverse opinions, but I am strongly passionate about my family, friends, cat babies and a number of more general issues that lie close to my heart. 
    To be perfectly honest, I don't really feel like venturing into navel gazing territory on why this may or may not make me beautiful (if you are even still reading!). Instead, I'll leave you with what I think is a very pertinent quote by artist Peter McIntyre:
    "Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong" 

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010


    December 7 – Community.
    Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? 
    (Author: Cali Harris)

    My passion for travel has meant that throughout 2010, I've consistently enjoyed contributing towards and receiving advice from the online travel community. Despite it's palpable weaknesses, I have enjoyed participating in the TripAdvisor community and, in particular, responding to questions relating to parts of the world for which I have a passion (notably: Melbourne; Hong Kong; Vanuatu; Malaysia; and Germany). I have also used the resource to assist in the planning of our forthcoming tri-continent(!!) trip...but more about our very exciting travel plans in subsequent posts.  

    In 2011, I wish to engage more deeply with the broader blogging community. I have been enjoying a number of excellent blogs on a wide variety of topics (including, but not limited to, cooking, health, fitness, travel, weight loss, craft - just really those that spark some sort of interest). I suppose what I have been doing is technically known as "lurking", which is a horrible expression with unnecessary negative connotations (in a blogging sense at least!). In any case, I am beginning to understand how a blogging community can offer support and encouragement for personal development, as well as for the evolution of its author's writing. As I am (evidently!) keen to develop my writing through regular blogging, I hope to broaden my network of blog readers/supporters and also participate more actively on blogs belonging to others. In a sense, reverb10 was brought to my attention at a very opportune time – I had made the decision to start a public blog less than a week before I first heard of the project. 
    Now that this baby's up and running, I very much look forward to making new connections  blog community, are you ready for me?!