Trying new stuff – Aerial Yoga

So this weekend, I did something ‘cool’ that I didn’t even know existed, so it couldn’t even be on a bucket list!  It was sky yoga:

S\itting around
Sitting around

It’s a small studio in the centre of the grungiest part of Sydney, near Central station. To get to the ‘Sky Lab’ you go past a graffiti wall – more like a whole artistic commune!!

Upside down
I did upside down in the class too – nearly killed me!

 

I went with a friend after our usual “Pilates in the Park” was cancelled. A school friend recently started it (another implant from the state of Queensland) but she was in NZ for the weekend, so we forked out our pennies to try sky yoga! I have the best and smartest friend, who’ll try any quirky challenge. And take silly photos ENDLESSLY!

Who's a silly billy?
Who’s a silly billy?

I’m pretty sore today – two days later. The back of my thighs… and some soreness in my back. Still the quirky factor of fitness has me hooked.

There are so many professional photos, they’ve taken, so check out the website for some ethereal photos… I can’t help but want more!

The 30th Birthday Dinner Party

This was the party to end all parties.  It had every element I could hope for, and of course, nothing I wouldn’t want.  You might recall a teaser post here.

The flowers all delivered
The flowers all delivered

The morning was frantic. I got a fake tan. Then for the two hours waiting for it to set, I finished my jigsaw puzzle, cause I was not packing it up half done!

Table all set!
Table all set!

I needed two additional tables, and one (nail biting-ly) only arrived at 3pm, thanks to some wonderful friends up the road!  You’ll notice I made meters upon meters of bunting as you can see in the background.

Isn't it pretty
Isn’t it pretty

I also had three friends arriving from interstate. Sadly I could only fit one in to stay here, and she arrived at the same time as the last table. Another guest helped out with picking up the three cakes at 4pm and dropping them by.  Sadly I forgot to take photographs of the cake 🙁

One was nutty, another was maple and apple, another chocolate.
One was nutty, another was maple and apple, another chocolate.
Oh, so these were bios of all my guests... save for two
Oh, so these were bios of all my guests… save for two

I knew not all my friends had met one another, as two came from school days, another two from my trips to Paris, and others from university. With this in mind, and a desire to ‘give back’ to my wonderful friends, each person had a small bio/highlight reel written up for them. I thought the early guests could ‘busy’ themselves finding the bio that matched them, but in the mean time, find out about other guests. On the other side of the card was their name. Inside the card, was their seat number. I’ve never been a seating plan gal, but I didn’t want new friends to feel like they had nothing in common with those around them, so I tried to socially engineer 😉

Entree was ravioli mmm
Entree was ravioli mmm

Everyone loved the entree… I thought I had enough white crockery borrowed from my parents and a friend, but alas, I forgot about the side plates… and I similarly was under resourced with tumblers and cutlery. Thankfully the caterers had some in their van, and luckily avoided those costs!

The chicken main
The chicken main

The best thing about catering were the two waiters who cleared everything and kept all the glasses filled.

The beef main
The beef main

There is nothing I like more than a sparkler, and for $5 I got 80! That was enough for us all to enjoy countless!

Let's get this sparkle started
Let’s get this sparkle started
My dad, isn't he lovely
My dad, isn’t he lovely
We're friends cause we share the excitement about the same things!
We’re friends cause we share the excitement about the same things!

I invited 16 guests to join me for a sit down dinner party in my home.  I got the event fully catered, with three canapes (or two, after decorating resulted in me upturning the dish of arancini balls!), one entree and alternate mains.  Then I bought three different cakes from Adriano Zumbo, a celebrity patisserie.

The birthday pinata
The birthday pinata

You’ll remember (or know) I’m not keen on stuff. Well, my brother and his girlfriend MADE me a 3 and a 0 pinata and filled it with candy. That’s an activity/experience combined with a consumable I love!

I don't look scary here
I don’t look scary here

They filled the pinata SO full they couldn’t hang it without it breaking the string, so my daring brother held it! Much to the amusement of my guests AND the neighbours and their guests who were also having a dinner on their facing balcony!

Hold on tight!
Hold on tight!

No event of mine would be complete without some craft.  Or with flowers.  And sparklers.  Oh how I love sparklers.

The other surprise arranged for me was a video tribute.  My friend had contacted my facebook ‘friend’ list, and perhaps even some of you bloggers! She asked for a short video, and she stitched together with facebook photos.  I was totally surprised, and had Dar from An Exacting Life come to life.  Interestingly, she was mistaken by my family by another Canadian friend we have!  An Israeli friend dialled in (and then there were embarrassing photos of us with mud on us from when I visited her!).

It was a wonderful evening, and pretty stress free thanks to the amazing caterers and help from friends and family.  I feel honoured to have such wonderful people around me, and that extends to my readers, who were duly talked about too!

Half marathon – 12 in 2 list

Hot on the heels of my harbour bridge climb last Friday, yesterday, Sunday 6th July, I did the Gold Coast Half Marathon.

Talk about a busy month – between the BF cashing in his skydive, to me climbing the bridge (and having a fancy dinner), then the half marathon, and in less than a week, leaving for Osaka, Japan, I hardly have time for chores 😮

My running pal!
My running pal (still asleep?)!

My training program heading towards the half marathon was sporadic.  I had periods of very regular short runs, and I moved from a non runner to 5kms in a period of 12 weeks.  After that, things sort of feel apart, and my running routine was more ‘resistance to running’.  I managed two or three ‘runs home’ which varied from 6-7kms to 13kms, but that’s probably as far as I ran prior to the half.  So I always knew it would be TOUGH!

Usually, I run first thing in the morning, or after work.  Neither times, is it just after a meal.  Despite this, I decided I’d have porridge before the half marathon.  Perhaps a rookie error!  I’m pretty sure all that liquid was the cause of some serious cramping, or stitches I felt in my side.  I just walked them out, but it got to the stage that returning to running was a sure way to shake another stitch into forming!!

Derange 'why am I doing this' face - and we're in C starting group - ie not the slowest!
Derange ‘why am I doing this’ face – and we’re in C starting group – ie not the slowest!

I also run with a heart rate monitor.  This started when I started the Michelle Bridges 12 Week running program, as a way to ensure I wasn’t overexerting myself, and in the early days, I realised I was running at too high a heart rate.  I was shocked to repeatedly see my heart rate at 180 during the half marathon.  I usually want it to be under 172, and in training runs, once it gets to 177-178 I usually walk til I can bring it down.  In the race, I ended up employing the same strategy.

Those speedy gonzalas in front... at the start line
Those speedy gonzalas in front… at the start line

I hoped to run to my usual pace, which is about 9km/hr (5.6mph).  This would have been ambitious, but part of goal setting it to aim high!  This would have had me with a finish time of 2hrs 20mins. Thankfully, the very well organised Gold Coast Half Marathon has pace runners, the ‘slowest’ of whom ran at a target completion time of 2:20.  Sadly, I let them get ahead of me, and never caught up with them somewhere in the middle single digits of the run.

Proud father and daughter duo!
Proud father and daughter duo!

I was lucky enough to run the race with my father, who I ran with for the first few kilometers.  My father has run a number of ‘halves’ before, including this particular race when I was young.  It came as no surprise that he beat me, quite substantially!  He is slow and steady, but he NEVER walks!!  So my father finished with a time around 2hr10!  I however… came in at about 2hrs33 (by my timing – official timing below).

My stats
My stats

To be honest, I’m pleased I made it across the line unaided!  Was it a run?  Mostly not!  I walked a WHOLE heap, and I wish the pain I felt from the stitches, and later my heart, could have made it possible to run more of the race, but no.  That being said, I don’t for a minute diminish the achievement that is finishing a 21.1km course!

Dad's more impressive stats!
Dad’s more impressive stats!

A day on, I’m sore in my hips, the right arm (from the ‘strain’ of holding my phone… I prefer that to an arm strap).  Even my shoulders are achy.  And I spent the whole day after the run sore and tired! Tired beyond belief!

Views to die for!
Views to die for!

The only photo I wish I had to share with you is of my T Shirt – duly handed out once you FINISH the 21.1kms!! I did take this freebie (but not the medal) cause I am gosh darn proud, and feel I need proof I made it! I will wear it on (much shorter) runs in the future, to shock & awe!

Harbour Bridge Climb – 12 in 2 list

I finally did it! For a long time I’ve wanted to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, so I made it one of my 12 in 2 goals (12 things I wanted to achieve in two years).

It's on!
It’s on!

I have an incredibly generous boyfriend who took the hints… and bought me a voucher for my birthday to use.

Onsie... unisex... with enough D clips so that nothing falls on the traffic below
Onsie… unisex… with enough D clips so that nothing falls on the traffic below

The frugal minimalist in me did NOT want to pay for a photo, but after reflecting on it for 5-10 mins, I went back and paid for one of the eight photos they took on the trip. Yep, no BYO cameras allowed… Cars below etc.

$15 to prove I got to the top!
$15 to prove I got to the top!

To be honest, I wasn’t scared for a moment!

Here’s the view of our bridge in the early morning…

Thanks former polo coach/ref... stole this photo he took today!
Thanks former polo coach/ref… stole this photo he took today!

Some pretty famous people have climbed the bridge – and some pretty famous people have had their affairs come to light thanks to being on roof top pools…! We heard some AWESOME stories from our guide Billy. The usually group is 14 people, but I was lucky to be in a group of 7 – a couple (with grown up children) for California, who had chickens. A mother from Queensland and her son (who’d gifted her the climb) from Sydney. And a pair of sisters from Sutherland Shire, who’d climbed before. One of the sisters was doing it for her 18th.

The things we were told!  For example:

  • It took 8 years to build, starting in 1929
  • 16 people died during it’s construction, which is NOTHING given they had no fall arrest or protective gear like harnesses.
  • Families were given £800 for the death of the worker
  • Only one person feel from the bridge construction and lived – using his tool built to break the harbour’s surface tension before he entered the water.  He suffered some broken ribs amongst other things, but returned to work 12 days later.
  • When it was designed/built, there was five cars in Australia, and one in Sydney
  • It was designed with two ‘lanes’ for trams, two ‘lanes’ for trains, and four lanes for cars.  It now has no trams and more car lanes.
  • This bridge is SEVERELY over engineered!
  • Almost all the steel came from England (which is comical given Australia’s large steel mills now!)
  • The large sandstone pylons are ‘hollow’ and don’t actually support the bridge as you might think

 

  • It’s 145m from water to the base of the bridge – supposedly a Defense Force aircraft flew under it recently!!
  • The bridge is currently undergoing a treatment to remove the lead paint, and have a permanent polymer coating on it.  The projections on how long the project will take to complete are astronomical
  • Before the ‘Bridgeclimb’ business, all sorts of drunken fools can and did climb parts of the bridge
  • You are given a breath test prior to getting in your onsie… no drunks on the bridge now!
  • You walk through a metal detector before induction.  My bobby pins were rejected, and I was given hair elastics
  • Everything you take up (fleece, hat, beanie (or toboggan?!), gloves are all attached to you.  There are significant risks to traffic below should things fall, and we were told of some horrific accidents
  • You get put through a test climb with ladders and your harness – if you don’t pass you don’t climb the bridge
  • Some of the walkways are wooden – which just blows my mind, given how wood can rot etc
  • The whole time, you are continuously attached to a line, that naturally takes you up one side, across the middle, and down the other side.  Not once do you get unlatched.
  • Riveters used to throw hot bolts to their mate – just incredible in today’s workplace health and safety conditions!
  • One guy climbs the bridge every six months when his wife comes to town to go shoe shopping. He’s now got a personalised onsie!

 

  • Tour guides are part time employees, some being teachers, lawyers, and our guide is a photographer the rest of the time
  • Billy, our tour guide, kept telling me I should be a guide – I’m really not sure why (I do know I spent more time in awe, than giving smart alek comments, which is usually more my style on guided tours!)
  • The busiest time of year is between Christmas and 4 January
  • The bridgeclimb is suspended for the NYE fireworks display and preparation, which you can imagine eats into the profits of such popular days!
  • Our guide told some amazing stories – such as guiding a blind person the whole way, with multiple guides used to share what he would see; another person did the whole ‘climb’ on their bottom with their hands – they had some disability with their legs.

 

  • There’s been countless proposals (and one the day we climbed).  Only one has been rejected, and the groom had filled the tour with his mates.  Talk about tense!
  • The best time to climb, according to two staff, is winter.  The weather compresses the air, so we could see the Blue Mountains to the West.  It is also more comfortable, with a onsie etc
  • The flags fly all the time, one of the very few places to fly flags at full mast all the time.  We saw the damage to the flags at day 12 of their life – the winds up there just destroy them!  Their is the state flag and the national flag up there most times, with the state flag occasionally being swapped for the indigenous flag.
  • The Bridgeclimb owner was rejected 4 times in his applications, and each time, with a list of concerns. Supposedly, to each list, he ticked each off, and raised a larger list of things authorities hadn’t thought of.  It is, without a doubt, an incredibly well thought out business, and nothing is left to chance!

For someone who usually has poor fact recall, I think I did well!!

Any questions you have, I’d love to know!!

Oscillate Wildly – Newtown

I use this blog as much as a photo album, so here’s another multi course dinner at Oscillate Wildly in Newtown, Sydney.  I avoided using the flash in this small restaurant, so apologies for the grainy footage – it’s mainly so I can remember the night 🙂

Sorta creepy tea light holder
Sorta creepy tea light holder
Butter and... some smoked fat of the pork mmm
Butter and… some smoked fat of the pork mmm
Starting course - some root vegetable I'd never come across with mushroom dust, and a sugarcane slither infused with gin & tonic
Starting course – some root vegetable I’d never come across with mushroom dust, and a sugarcane slither infused with gin & tonic
Very decorative... seafood. BF got grapefruit (sadface for him)
Very decorative… seafood. BF got grapefruit (sadface for him)
More yummy seafood... and kelp
More yummy seafood… and kelp
Some sorta seafood in broth mmmm (The BF got a gingery coconut broth with his non fish - so yum!)
Some sorta seafood in broth mmmm (The BF got a gingery coconut broth with his non fish – so yum!)
Fancy creamed corn
Fancy creamed corn
Beef playing hide and seek with a sesame leaf
Beef playing hide and seek with a sesame leaf
Beef - mmm yummy beef
Beef – mmm yummy beef
Optional cheese course - cheese with coffee stewed onion
Optional cheese course – cheese with coffee stewed onion

Oh no! I forgot to photograph the ‘custard apple’ course – with guava and cucumber. Deliciousness, I tell you – like and fluffy, crispy but sweet but neutralised by cucumber…

Strawberries and cream interpretation
Strawberries and cream interpretation

There were also some lovely truffles and jellies for having with coffees… mmm…

We went for matched wines – most of them were biodynamic or similarly untouched by chemicals and preservatives. Mostly whites, but still tasty!

This topped off one of the best days of my life – the day was my Harbour Bridge Climb:

Bridgeclimb selfie
Bridgeclimb selfie

To friends, and boyfriends, and expensive experiences.

Gingerbread House!

On some list, somewhere, I knew I wanted to make a gingerbread house this Christmastime.  I kept putting it off on weekends past, to snuggle on the sofa and read blogs and watch TV shows.  But this past weekend, a friend wanted to catch up, and so I decided we could build our first ever gingerbread house.  Come on, two engineers, what could be better? (Answer: two civil or structural engineers! Electrical engineers aren’t ideal).

Let’s start with making the pieces, from this template:

Cutting out the walls
Cutting out the walls

I didn’t use the recipe attached to the above template, instead using this, but adding all spice and nutmeg that other recipes mentioned.  I also decided against the window, as I didn’t have boiled lollies on hand for the cooking.

While they cooled, we headed to the shops for decorations:

What a haul - about $26 worth!  We didn't use them all and my friend took a lot of them home with her
What a haul – about $26 worth! We didn’t use them all and my friend took a lot of them home with her

From directions elsewhere, we decorated before constructing. I think if kids were decorating, you’d want to build it first, cause construction is slow.
DSC_1377

DSC_1378

Here’s the start of construction:
DSC_1379

We were worried it wouldn’t hold together when we put the first roof panel on, so we did some temporary bracing (in Christmas colours!)

Longchamp ribbon for the win
Longchamp ribbon for the win

One of the roof panels was a little thick and not cooked to a crisp (which I prefer). So we decided on some structural reinforcements!

Bamboo skewers use 45
Bamboo skewers use 45
DSC_1384
Fully constructed

After a date night to the movies, I put the last roof panel on, to dry overnight:

Sadly, the first roof panel we put on slipped a bit, and stuck lower than intended. Or we wanted a row of light to enter the house, and did this intentionally, you decide?
DSC_1385

All this, right off the bat from making a candy cane wreath on Thursday night, remember?

Crafty Thursday
Crafty Thursday

I’m so chuffed with our house! I’m not sure what to do with it now though! I am thinking of taking it to show at Sunday School’s Christmas party, but as to who gets to finally deconstruct it and eat it… I don’t know… Any winning thoughts?

Le Diner en Blanc – Sydney

On Saturday, I was invited to join in an exclusive international event – Diner en Blanc.  As the name suggests, it started in France, and it’s a dinner in white.  The tradition started many years ago when a group of French friends decided to reunite after years of living abroad – but how would they recognise one another?  They decided they would all dress in white for a picnic.  However, their planned location was a somewhat fancy area, so they all decided not only to dress in white, but to dress up!  Since this first picnic, the idea has grown in size, and geographical location.

Nowdays, the event grows through attendees each year being able to invite some friends the following year.  But space is limited, and logging into the website is best done with military precision (for once I was thankful for my early work hours).  The venue remains a surprise until groups meet at various meeting points around the city.  You pay a small fee to attend and this covers a coach to the secret location (and all the other logistics – such as some shared lighting, security and a DJ).

Last year, the Sydney event was held at Circular Quay, outside the Museum of Modern Art.  This year, it was held on Bondi Beach.

Guests clad in white, are also required to bring their own table and chairs, white table cloth, cloth napkins and ‘real’ crockery and cutlery.  Glass is not permitted, so plastic cups are OK.  (You can imagine how pleased I am with an event for 3,000 people encouraging reusable options!)  You may bring your own gourmet picnic, or buy hampers.  The event is not BYO (Bring your own) alcohol, as a number of alcohol companies sponsor the event, and it’s difficult to get a licence for this.

These are more than enough words – let the pictures do the talking! There’s more traditions that I didn’t mention, so please feel free to ask.

White people congregating on a North Bondi street corner
White people congregating on a North Bondi street corner
What would all these people in white be doing?
What would all these people in white be doing?
Beautifully set tables
Beautifully set tables
White for as far as the eye can see
White for as far as the eye can see
People lugged flowers and urns to decorate their table - there was a competition
People lugged flowers and urns to decorate their table – there was a competition
So many tables!
So many tables!

 

Bondi Beach's former pavilion/kiosk decorated for the night
Bondi Beach’s former pavilion/kiosk decorated for the night
From here to the water's edge!
From here to the water’s edge!
I don't often like photos of myself, but this selfie is just lovely - you can see my halo shining (tongue in cheek!)
I don’t often like photos of myself, but this selfie is just lovely – you can see my halo shining (tongue in cheek!)  You can also the DJ behind, who played chilled out music til the dance floor opened
The hampers for sale
The hampers for sale
The eco friendly wrapping of the hamper items
The eco friendly wrapping of the hamper items
My darling, and a reflection of the event
My darling, and a reflection of the event
The waving of the serviettes is done en masse, and signals the start of the meal
The waving of the serviettes is done en masse, and signals the start of the meal

If you ever get the chance to attend a Diner en Blanc, take it! (this link has a button on the right that scrolls through other cities) They are magical. Sure, there’s a little preparation to get tables and chairs to the venue, but once you’re seated in a sea of white in a public location, you can’t help but think just how lovely life can be!

Neon Run

To keep with my 12 in 2 goal to run a half marathon sometime by the end of 2014, I signed up for the Sydney 5km Neon Run this past Saturday with my water polo coach and some of her friends.  The run was in the evening around the Domain and Mrs Macquaries Chair – iconic parkland around Sydney Harbour.

Here’s the foursome:

Light in our eyes for the neon run
Light in our eyes for the neon run

The glasses were $10 (!!) each – seems a lot for plasticy goodness with LEDs.  I wasn’t going to buy any (partly because I didn’t bring any money, and partly – well regular Wednesday readers would know why).  But the team bought me a pair, and were smart enough to know they just HAD to be blue!

I'm blue, if I was green I would die
I’m blue, if I was green I would die
Blue glasses for the blue eyed girl
Blue glasses for the blue eyed girl

There were other merchandising options, like these:

Other merchandise - fluro dreadlocks on head bands.  There were also mowhawks.
Other merchandise – fluro dreadlocks on head bands. There were also mowhawks.

Here’s the crowd, it was a small event, relatively speaking. That being said, we entered in a walking group, but did want to jog a bit. Sadly, there were too many people underfoot at the start, and of course after our first burst of running, we weren’t as interested anymore! There were four different music and dance stations, as well as fantastic harbour views! We did run the last 750m plus to the finish, which was nice.

The crowd and the starting arches
The crowd and the starting arches

My phone ran out of battery not that much later, so there’s no ‘night’ photos, which is when the run started. It was pretty amazing to see all the costumes, and we vowed to amp it up next year. I’d love me a bright tutu, though I’m not sure how comfortable it would be to run in! There was one guy just in fluro jocks – and painted on suspenders! And it was cold at the start line… So he was very daring.

Events like this a great – legitimately FUN run (or walk). I’m pleased to report that they used paper cups (unlike last time) AND they had lots of recycling bins for the cups too! Sadly, the glasses were plastic wrapped, as were our ice lollies filled with rehydration fluid, handed out at the finish.
For more fun photos, see the Neon Run site.

What’s the most fun you’ve had exercising? (Or is that an oxymoron to you?)