30 November 2011

Because my brain is fried

you get another photo of a sleeping cat

you can thank me later ...

29 November 2011

Travelday - Where I Start at the Start

Well, not the start start but I figured the most logical place to start this set of posts was with the start of our most recent and biggest-to-date holiday. Yes, I posted a handful of photos while we were travelling and when we returned but I have yet to expand on that at all.

Having said that, I'm not exactly sure where the start is. The decision making process, the planning, the hours and hours of time spent on the internet were all a part of what made the trip what it was but are probably not all that interesting once put in writing. I think I'll just wait and see what comes out as I go along and if there's anything important that I think I've missed by the end well then it can have its own post.

We headed off to Melbourne Airport late on a Wednesday, checked in, had some dinner with the in-laws (who were nice enough to drive us there and pick us up, both very late nights for them), rang my folks for one last pre-holiday chat, sorted out an issue with The Sparky's travel card and then we were off through the International Departures Gate ...

... the obligatory photo was taken but it is so awful I'm not sharing ...

... a bit of 'duty free' browsing, more waiting and then finally we were boarding.

Now, I know that this is the point at which most people have horror plane stories to tell, bad food, fellow travellers who do or say things that ruin the flight, uncomfortable seats, etc etc etc, but I really don't have one. Okay, the seats weren't exactly anything to write home about but overall we couldn't really complain about any of the flights we took.

We had decided early on that the best thing to do would be to stay awake for as long as possible (easier said than done when the flight was at almost midnight) and then sleep as long as possible on the first 16hr stretch so we started a movie as soon as we were able, interrupted it when food came around (coz, you know, you need a second dinner at 2 in the morning!), struggled to keep our eyes open through to the end of the movie and then slept. I don't know about The Sparky but I slept for about 6hrs straight which surprised me a lot.

Not long after I woke our fellow-traveller-in-the-window-seat (who was just about the best type of stranger you could travel with by the way, she was small, quite, unobtrusive, clean and very polite) got up to go for a walk. I have to admit that when I realised she'd been gone for over an hour I started to worry for her a little ... eventually though she returned with the news that there was a trolley with fresh fruit and snacks in the kitchen. We were both ready to stretch our legs so we got up and went down the back to have a look.

Can I just say right here, best long flight tip ever! Go to the part of the plane with the kitchen and toilets and stretch your legs for a bit. We bumped into a very friendly, chatty Egyptian-Australian man and some great air-hosties and ended up spending something like 2.5hrs up the back of the plane talking, stretching, eating mango ice cream, drinking juice and coffee and generally passing the time in a much more enjoyable manner than if we were in our seats. Eventually the hosties had to start preparing for the breakfast service and we were admittedly in their way so we headed back to our seat for the last few hours (side note - as we got to our seat the chatty man lent over and said hello to our fellow-traveller-in-the-window-seat, now we know where she was all that time).

Another movie, more food and we'd made it to Doha Airport relatively easily - or so we thought, there was still the 20min bus ride to the terminal to undertake!

In the scheme of things I know that an hour stop over isn't a long one and by the time we'd wandered through the duty free shopping, brushed our teeth (Qatar Airlines gave us a little bag of goodies including a one-use toothbrush and toothpaste), freshened up a bit, had what we labelled at the time the-world's-worst-and-most-expensive-coffee and looked around to see what there was to see out the big glass windows we didn't actually spend a lot of time just sitting and waiting but we were tired and sore and ready to keep moving so it did seem like longer than what it was.

Time for a photo dontcha think?

none of our planes was this close to the terminal

Finally it was time to check in, jump back on another bus for a 20min ride to our plane. Smaller this time, almost empty and with the only rude Qatar hosties we came across (which given the plane was almost empty surprised me, it's not like they were run off their feet!).

basically all we saw of Doha (and no, we didn't fly in the '70s, not sure what's going on with the colour there)

More movies (sadly dodgy screen on the smaller plane though), more sleep, more food and a six hour flight later and we were finally in Zurich! But more on that next week, this post has gone on for much longer than expected already ...

28 November 2011

The Plans

Phew, this is a long one so sit back, grab yourself un caffe latte (or a cup of tea or hot chocolate or whatever takes your fancy) and if you get bored and your eyes glaze over I won't blame you and will forgive you for not getting to the end.

It has become increasingly apparent to me lately that if I want to achieve anything then I have to do something about it. Obvious I know but in order for me to do something it seems I also need to plan and to make myself accountable to someone other than me so that I stick to whatever than plan is.

Apparently I'm too easy on myself and lazy as well whereas the people who I imagine read this (and I know that for the most part they are imaginary, I'm not going to kid myself about the sort of traffic this blog gets!) are really hard on me!

So, in light of all of this self-revelation I have decided to release some plans that have been floating around in my head - it's not the best place to be trapped after all ...

Plan One - Thirteen Weeks of Summer

Summer in Australia this year runs from Thursday, 1 December 2011 to Wednesday, 29 February 2012 - exactly thirteen weeks - and I plan to fill those thirteen weeks with changes and challenges that see me a different (better) person at the end. Each week starting this Thursday I will either set myself a challenge for the week or make a change to my 'norm' with a view to changing habits and improving my lifestyle in areas that fall under each of the following categories:

Health and Wellbeing - these will be more general, habit changing challenges than the food and fitness changes and challenges that are a part of Plan Two.

Organisation - I constantly suffer from the feeling that 'there's just not enough time' but when I sit back and break down my day into hourly slots there really is enough time for a lot more things, I just need to be more deliberate about them.

To Do - I have a mental 'to do' list that's longer than my arm and it's starting to hurt my brain! Most of the things on it are probably going to be quick and easy and I'm looking forward to getting them out of my head and done (with all of this stuff coming out I'm going to end up with an empty head!).

Just for Fun - not wanting to make this whole Thirteen Weeks of Summer too much of a bore for either me or you I've decided that I want to set myself something each week that is, well, just for the fun of it!

Plan Two - Become a Healthier, Fitter Person

Short version - I have to move more and eat better! Okay, okay, couldn't we all ...

I have been up and down on this for years now and I've decided that this is it, the last time I go up. In order to ensure that I don't go up again I will not just be focusing on the initial need for weight loss but will also be looking at forming long term eating and exercising habits.

Yes, measurements will be taken and numbers will be written down, there may even be a photo or two for later comparison. No, I don't know yet if I will be sharing the specifics of those particulars with you - I'm just not sure I'm comfortable with that much sharing ...

In the spirit of the accountability I was talking about earlier though I will be sharing my weekly planning and talking about my success/failure at sticking to those plans. Again, there's something about putting it 'out there' that makes me much more likely to stick with it.

Plan Three - Be a Better Blogger

eeeek! The Sparky's Christmas present just got delivered to the office - it looks great! Unfortunately I can't share until after he's seen it but I will, I promise.

So, where was I? That's right Be a Better Blogger or Build a Better Blog, either works. As with everything else in my life it seems that this requires deliberate planning rather than just a desire to do better.

To that end, my current plans are to dedicate a day a week to a different topic:

Thursday will be for the Thirteen Weeks of Summer, an outline of what the plans for that week are.

Fridays I'm generally a little brain-fried so Friday's posts will be simple - photos, thoughts, quotes, pretty much any sort of randomness than takes my fancy.

Saturday will be an outline of the week's health and fitness plans. Unlike the Thirteen Weeks of Summer, I will run my health and fitness week from Sunday to Saturday, rather than Thursday to Friday.

Sunday will simply be a scripture, probably no commentary or expanding just a scripture or a quote that I like or that has spoken to me in some way or another recently.

Monday will be dedicated to ramblings, commentary, photos etc. Generally details about something that has happened during the week, a place I've been, something I've done, food I've cooked ... just stuff that is worthy of it's own post and more than just a photo or two.

Tuesday will be Travelday and will be for photos and stories of places I've been, things I've done and seen, places I plan to go and places that are just plain on the 'wish list'!

and finally Wednesday which will be a run down of the week that's been and how I went with the challenges I set myself for the Thirteen Weeks of Summer.

So, there they are, The Plans. If you've made it to this point, congratulations and please don't hate me for boring you so. I wish I had something funny or insightful to reward you with but I don't, this post was really much more about me than you and, well, that's just the way it is ...

Any hints, comments, encouragement you can give along the way will of course be much appreciated, if the imaginary people that I'm making myself accountable to turn out to be real ... well that thought actually frightens me a little so let's just see how I go.

26 November 2011

It's raining, it's pouring

and soon this old woman will be snoring.

Okay, so maybe I'm not all that old yet but I have had a cold for four weeks now so I will definitely be snoring!

25 November 2011

Because -

  1. he's a little jealous of the air time the other two have been getting;
  2. it's Friday night and my brain is fried; and
  3. I'm trying to get myself in the habit of posting everyday, even if it is just a close up photo of my dog's shiny nose 

You're welcome

24 November 2011


We have a football/cricket oval just up the street from our house, as in just over 200m up the street. Its a great spot with two ovals, cricket nets, change rooms, public toilets, restaurant, car park, the lot. More importantly to us though, it has a larger than usual amount of park land around it.

A small portion of the park looking down to the lower oval.

It's a great place to take the dogs for a quick walk to relieve themselves and to run off some excess energy. They love it and, needless to say, we love the convenience of it.

I have a lot of trouble getting pictures of the dogs when we're out, they don't stay still!
and if they see me trying they run straight to me and stick their nose in the phone/camera.

When we first moved to our current house there were a pair of resident Plovers living there and nesting on the top oval during spring. Plovers are a nasty piece of work when it comes to protecting their eggs and can do quite a bit of damage with the hooks on the end of their wings. Making cricket season even more interesting was the fact that they nested on the oval and, because they are protected, a portion of the oval would have to be roped off while the nest was there!

Over the past few years, and particularly since the Black Saturday bushfires, I have noticed a much greater variety of birds in the area, particularly down at the park. Most, like the Rosellas and Lorikeets, are very difficult to get a photo of however I was walking through on my way home from the train station the other day and came across these two ducks -

I was surprised at how close they let me get to them without flying off. Granted it's hard to tell from this photo, but if you take into consideration that I can't work out how to zoom on my phone then you'll realise that I'm almost on top of them!

Oh, and this is what happens if you're still trying to take photos when your two dogs run at you and the ducks take off -

23 November 2011

Awww ...

I think my all time favourite photo of Ms Nutmeg, way back when she was just a little pup who could hardly see over the grass

22 November 2011

Astro is ...

... getting far too confident with his new found freedom for my liking. He never used to even think about climbing the fence in the backyard. Now, thanks to a run in with a possum, he's all over it.

Looks like he's about to fall off? That's because he is!

Pesky tree getting in his way - what a scowl!

I wish I could have captured the turn around - very little cat like grace ...

21 November 2011

Happy Birthday to ...


Please excuse the blur, I was running late for the bus ...

We first came across these rings walking through Bologna. They're silicon with a teeny tiny diamond in them, they're Italian designed (and I think made), they're unconventional and they're just what I always wanted but didn't know it! I've actually been looking for something unusual to replace my engagement and wedding rings with for a couple of years now but everything I find is just so ... normal. These were perfect!

Full points to The Sparky for hearing me, for finding the note I made on my phone of the brand name, for sneakily finding my ring size and - most impressively - for finding a place online that he could buy them from (they've hit Europe and the US big time but haven't quite made it to Aus yet). Also, he has this great nack for picking colour combos that I would never choose but that turn out to be perfect.

17 November 2011

More OJ

Liddle Fact

I got myself an orange juice yesterday morning instead of a coffee because my stomach was feeling a little sensitive, turned the lid over to find this little snippet -

Thanks Spring Valley, just what I always wanted to know!

15 November 2011

Too Tired to Think

We were out late last night ...

Kings of Leon - awesome!

14 November 2011

New Found Freedom

Astro's always been more of an indoor cat. Not so much because he doesn't want to go outside but because we wouldn't let him. You see, a combination of issues with the person we bought him off, her vet and ultimately our laziness meant that he wasn't microchipped. Without the security of ID on him we just weren't willing to take the risk that he'd run off and be unreturnable.

Not that he minded too much - most of his day is spent like this anyway ...

is it sad that I have enough of these on my phone that I had trouble choosing just one?

Not that he was always inside, the backyard is completely enclosed and he has never shown any inclination towards climbing so he would get to roam out there fairly regularly.

Two days before we left on our holiday we took him to the vet to finally get 'chipped - we figured it really wasn't fair on our house/pet sitter to leave her with the stress of what happens if he runs away!

So now, newly microchipped and with a collar and tag, he's been able to run around out the front a bit since we got home.

This weekend I took it one step further. The Sparky had taken the two dogs to work with him on Saturday so, with no worries about them heading out the open front door, I propped it open and let Astro come and go as he pleased.

He wasn't so sure about it at first - maybe because those boots are responsible for gently letting him know that going out the front door is not okay? (by blocking his way, no kicking involved) ...

he stood in the opening for ages before going out the first few times

But eventually he got used to it ...
every time I got closer than this he got up and came to me so I took what I could get

11 November 2011

Tropical almost-Spider

You know how sometimes a thought leads to a thought leads to another thought and when you get to the end you can't quite explain how you ended up where you did?

You do? Good, because there is no way in the world I could explain to you how the recipe for this salad inspired me to try to make a Tropical Spider. To be fair the first leap of logic was Hannah's but the next was mine and the rest is now history ...

I started with a bottle of Passiona (ordered especially for the occasion) and one Coconut Mango Smooze (I got these free with one of my grocery orders a while back and, well, mango ice cream is expensive!)

Placed the full Smooze into a glass with enough drink to almost fill the cup.

Yeah, that's why I called it an almost-Spider - turns out you need actual ice cream to get the fun frothy stuff happening.

So, I waited a few minutes for the Smooze to defrost a little, mixed it all together and - despite the slightly curdled look - it tasted fantastic!

Not sure that it's one I'll try again - we don't usually have the likes of Passiona in the house and The Sparky doesn't like mango so it's hard to justify buying mango ice cream. Glad to finally get it out of my head though and I think there may be more spider attempts this summer ...

09 November 2011

One Day

I have a bad habit.

Truth be told I have a lot of bad habits but the one I want to address today is the one where I keep 'starring' items in Reader - recipes, ideas, crafty activities - with the thought of 'I'll have to try that one day' but then never get around to actually trying it. Its become a problem and it's a problem that I'd like to fix so I'm going to make an effort to attempt at least one 'blog inspired' idea a week.

After reading Mama Pea's recipea for Tandoori Mmmm Sauce last week I decided that Saturday would be my first 'one day'.

Turns out I didn't actually have as many of the ingredients on hand as first anticipated so the end result was definitely an 'inspired by' product rather than an 'I followed the recipe and this is what I got' product.

I started by mixing roughly -

1 cup sour cream
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp ground cumin (it was all I had left)
1 tsp ground corriander
1/2 tsp garam masala

don't be fooled by the spoon, no measuring actually took place

Once mixed I added a sprinkle of ground lake salt and dried chilli flakes to the top and chilled for about an hour before the first use.

note to self - this bowl is nice for presentation, not so great for mixing in!

I first tried this spread on our wraps for lunch with salad and oven baked four bean mix - it was fabulous!!!

The Sparky and I are both big fans of anything even remotely Indian inspired and this sauce had us both wanting to go back for more. In fact we did go back for more and finished it of at dinner time on top of our rice and veggie bakes. No left overs within less than 12 hours of making it - definitely a good sign!

02 November 2011

The Aftermath

Thanks to our great city's love of all things sporty, yesterday was a public holiday in Melbourne. That's right, we get a day off in celebration of the race that stops the nation and I for one am not complaining!

The Sparky and I had a group of friends around for a bbq lunch and much fun was had (I hope).

The morning started early with chicken being marinated, cupcakes were made, eggs, potatoes and corn were cooked for inclusion in salads, hummus prepared, carrot and celery chopped, salads thrown together and meat barbequed. It was busy but well worth it - I was organisation itself which, for those who know me is quite something and much better than my usual 'I had planned to do such-and-such but ...'. Dips and dippers were brought by friends as well as a delicious chocolate tart (home made by my little bro).

Although none of us has a particular interest in horse racing we did stop for a few moments to watch the race - it was after all the reason we weren't at work. Photo finish!

Despite the abundance of food we were only left with just enough to cover our lunches today and possibly some salad to have with tonight's dinner (not sure how it will have held up). We do still have a lot of cupcakes thanks to the richness of the chocolate tart but I wanted some for work lunches anyway so that's fine just fine.

Once the last of our guests had left it was heading towards late so we did a quick spruce rather than a full clean up, in the middle of which I finally realised that despite my grand plans to photograph the food I hadn't taken a single photo (and there you have it, my usual 'but ...' was there after all).

I grabbed my phone and took a quick photo of the kitchen as we left it last night - not bad considering we had fed and entertained ten people.