Easter 2018 was a family reunion. My parents returned for two weeks from their year in Tonga. My youngest brother came from the UK with his wonderful GF. SO we did some fun things:
Outside of Easter, I got up to some fun with my gfs from water polo.
Someone suggested my first ever girls weekend away. It was awesome! I BYO’d all my challenge meals, and we each took a meal to cater for. They were kind enough to suggest dessert would be ‘walk to ice cream parlour’ so I could stay home if it was torture. I didn’t stay home, but asked for high fives when I didn’t give into even a taste!
One of our girl posse got engaged and had AMAZING cakes/sweets. She’s an awesome baker, but seems she has other friends who are equally amazing. I think I actually might have left before having some…
But cake is no good if you don’t like it. So another friend made her a two beautiful cookies in the initials of the bride and groom
Casting my mind further back, when I took a month off my ‘old’ job. I worked on getting one of my bucket list items done! I picked apples and made a pie.
Aside from an engagement party, we also had a WEDDING! It was lovely, just the right size. All the girls stayed at my place, and we shared ubers in and out of the Eastern Suburbs. It’s a season of weddings, we have two more before the year is out from the photographed group below!
And on a quiet weekend, my local friends suggested a flower show. I thought it was a tour of gardens, but alas it was more of a ‘best in show’ style. It was right up our alley, as we often walk to the Flemington markets, which sell flowers, fruit and vege!
Well, that’s made up for some lost time (or at least, some time the blog was offline).
With many thanks to a new friend who has worked tirelessly to align the old blog content and integrated my two ‘new’ posts, and now it all look and feels the same, back and front. Here’s a photo of my lovely French friends who helped make this happen, Antoine and Chloe
Today, I want to share a disturbing number of photos of food, that I’ve taken during the first five weeks in my eight week F45 health challenge. Yep, yet again, I’m focusing on reducing my weight. But not just the number. I dream of being able to do unassisted pull ups. And having defined abs. But the route to this path is to get back to 74kg which I achieved in September 2017.
The gym I go to, you can order all lunches and dinners to be prepared ($150 for 10 meals as a woman), and you pick up from the gym twice weekly. That means you only have to handle breakfasts and two snacks per day. Of course there’s an app and website, with the meal plan. And you can search all the recipes, should you want to substitute.
Prepped meals come in plastic chinese food containers. Which, does not really align to my zero waste ways. So I am washing up every one of them, and reusing them in so many different ways, including on the weeks I prepare my week’s meals, rather than buying them.
I’ll admit, generally speaking the recipes and meals have been great. I have also created a few new strong opinions on food. I do NOT abide by half a meal being parsley. I understand that baby spinach and lettuce get boring, but there’s no way parsley is an alternative!
The first two weeks are ‘keto’ or no sugar, dairy or carbs like rice or pasta.
Not all breakfasts are green though:
Here’s some of my cooking attempts. There can be a whole heap of vegie cutting, so I usually get a whole heap done on weekends, so I can come home from work and make life easier for me.
And the results?
So far so good! At the start, middle and end of the challenge I have detailed weigh in. The scales works out the body fat percentage and muscle mass. It can even work out the circumference of your arms and legs and trunk! I’ve seen improvements in all these measurements, though I did lose a little muscle mass 🙁 I also note that a similar scan from October 2017 were a little better. Back then, I was doing F45 but no following their diet. I did often eat small or no dinner as I was feeling queasy after a hard work out. I’m not sure that’s an optimal long term strategy!
Oh and I asked for some photos whilst I was doing assisted (by oversized rubber bands) chin ups, and I can see muscle definition!!
I continue to work out at least 4 times, ideally 5 times a week, and follow the meal plan almost religiously. I allow myself one treat meal per week. And tomorrow it’s brunch and I CANNOT wait!
A friend and I decided to have a healthy month, which included her starting work outs (I’d been going F45 for about two weeks at that stage I think). She also somehow shoehorned me into Dry July a few bottles of wine in too… And we settled on an ‘end of month’ reward being a fine dining meal at The Bridge Room. I’m no stranger to some fancy fine dining, so of course I was in.
Awkwardly, I was about 30 minutes EARLY for the reservation and my friends. So I broke Dry July with a great cocktail. I love when you can’t taste the harshness of alcohol, and this was definitely easily drinkable!! I did feel completely slack using my phone in a fine diner, but I was alone, and a drinks menu isn’t captivating reading for that long!
The above dish was a little tricky to cut, with the raw meat, and even the mushrooms (enoki). This was a clearly Japanese inspired meal, but the decor was largely Scandinavian.
The puddle it’s on is black vinegar, and aged pancetta on top. We weren’t loving seeing the translucent fat on the pancetta!
An enjoyable sweetness to this dish (and I AM a sweet tooth), but I wouldn’t say I’m a duck fan like some. My father drools at the thought I think!
Bring on the desserts:
The vertical column was melon, and quite tart compared an otherwise very sweet dish.
This was delicious, although one of our table of three missed it being served, and the habit of them explaining the dish. A misstep for a fine dining resturant.
One of the fabulous things about fine dining with set menus is that ‘six courses’ was seven course with a petit fours. So, BONUS! There was a jelly like thing there, and I have no recollection of what the ball was!
It has the top accolades with 3 hats, but I have to say, it didn’t feel three hats. I’m not sure if I’m jaded in all my experience? I’m not for a minute saying it was horrible. Just it lacked sparkle or something perhaps?
The other day, my mobile phone recharged (yes, I’m on prepay) and I realised a month had flown by since i got back from Europe. I spent a week or two after returning recovering from mild but lingering cold. Work gobbled me up, however, these summary posts remind me, that’s not ALL that happened!
I started thinking I’d done nothing, but then I found photos of a band I went to with my brother. Simon doesn’t know them, but enjoyed them, and said more than once that he couldn’t believe I like this genre of music. Shrugs. They sung a cover of a song I love too – a cover that they adjust the words to, and make EVEN better!
I also had my turn of doing flowers for the church. There was a funeral, right after I did it, and I had requests for the colours and flowers. I hope they were happy! In any case, I was proud of the outcome.
We should rename this section “photos I took of food when I ate out”, because none of the following were at ‘dates’! I’ve really slowed down from dating. Some of this is due to focusing more on my fitness. But also, you get fatigued with profile reading and become very judgemental. So instead, here’s snippets of a breakfast with friends, a great cafe near my parents, so I spent the night at their house. Actually, three Friday nights I stayed with my parents, once for the flowers, once for this brunch and once to take them to the airport on Saturday morning.
I have a lovely friend who I met at church who also lives locally, and when he’s in town we catch up for coffee or breakfast prior.
I have settled back into a groove – the week or two post holidays I was clearly revitalised and much more perky and upbeat than some around me. It’s worn off a little, but I’ve worked long hours again this week – really trying to take some load off my team, but also preparing to hit the ground running in the new financial year with all the ambitious targets and programs. So much so, I left work late on Friday 30th June, and was mighty angry at my boss <- it was NOT his fault, but being angry at myself was not fun :p
I did it – I joined F45. I did a week’s trial and attended three classes, and still did my usual 2 Barre tone classes. It’s around $580 for a 3 month membership, and I feel this is a timeline I can commit to. I paid upfront, as I HATE automatic deductions and all the rules to cease the deductions. And, to be totally hypocritical, I do happily pay $35 per week for two classes at Barre Body, and sometimes miss weeks due to illness. Seems sometimes, the ‘cost per class’ I can stomach!?
I also did a special Barre class on the 30th, and was late, which was by candlelight. I thought it would be darker, with the light dimmer more, but alas no. Still, it was a different teacher and routine/style to usual so that was a mix up from usually doing F45 on Fridays and Barre on Saturday.
Candle wicks – to remake candles from leftover wax
Suction hooks to hang coats – sadly didn’t work on our loggia tiles, but the internal bifold glass is a winner!
Moisture absorbing ‘egg’ – ceramic with material inside that can be microwaved and reused! An impulse purchase
Marcs cropped Lani wool jacket – $100 off spot sale, so $179.95
White bra from Target
Wooden shelf and hardware to ‘expand’ storage in my pantry
Cancer council sunglasses – replacing the pair left overseas
Cancer council lip balm – an impulse purchase
Two pairs of runners – one pair for high impact, blue and pretty, one pair for lower impact, black and great for long walks
New (second hand) bed frame. The Ikea Malm fell apart when I moved, and I made do, but it creaked and felt on it’s last legs. I wanted a padded head so I could sit up and read, or blog. $175!
Between paying for the F45 membership, and these little shopping moments, I feel quite cash poor. Hopefully in coming weeks and months, it’ll feel better having prepaid the workouts at least.
The bricks that built this house – Kate Tempest. Very disappointing, I have NO idea why I read it to completion
Innocent – Scott Turow – a great author, I really feel like you get to know the characters but without making it long, and a compelling story that isn’t predictable.
Looking ahead to July, I hope to continue on the 5 weekly work outs, trying Dry July with a friend, and rewarding ourselves for those two feats with a fancy dinner at The Bridge Room.
Right after arriving in Amsterdam, Qatar Airways emailed with an offer to upgrade on either return sector of my flights. Well timed – send that email when the pain of long haul is FRESH! So I decided to take up the offer for the 14 hour flight from Doha to Sydney. Overall, adding this upgrade STILL made my total fare less than what I usually spend to fly to Europe (given it was May, it was cheaper than July/August or around Christmas/New Year when I’ve travelled in the past).
Now, on the plane!!
I was well and truly getting a cold, and so my sleep was restless but I can ONLY imagine how much worse I may have felt elsewhere in the plane.
The seed that started my 2017 tour of Europe was an invitation to a wedding in Heidelberg. J is a friend I’ve had since 1999, when she was a boarding house supervisor and I was a student. During the intervening years, we’ve both lived in Europe, and in different parts of Australia, but early on we formed a strong friendship via email when she was completing a part of her PhD in Bonn in Germany. When I lived in France in 2006, she was back in Brisbane, Australia, but in 2008 when I returned to France for a three week Women in Engineering conference/summer school, I spent a few days with her in Heidelberg. In late 2010, J visited me in Sydney for a weekend, and quite on a whim, I decided to go to Germany for a white Christmas. It was a fabulously snowy winter, and I got to meet a number of J’s colleagues and friends.
J met her partner T, at work, however returned to work for CSIRO in Melbourne Australia not long after they’d started dating (at least… that’s my recollection!). For a number of years they did a long distance relationship, but J found a job back in Heidelberg and they were reunited. In December last year (2016), T formally proposed, and they set a date of 20 May 2017.
I’ve never attended a German wedding, and J is also quite naturalised as an Australian, so there was some variations on German wedding. For example, at the reception, games and skit/performances are quite common in German weddings, and this wasn’t largely done. That only happened to the smallest extent – there was a tub of sand they had to dig through for treasure…. And a projected address from a whole heap of famous Germans (Angela Merkel, a football star, Darth Vader etc) I assume wishing them all the best.
The wedding ceremony was held in a lovely old church in a monastery. I was so perplexed being told that the pew decorations were being double sided taped – I’m used to pews having a ‘head’ or something similar, with which one can loop around. Nope – not these modern, minimalistic pews! And sure enough, at least two arrangements in their glass test tubes did become detached… 🙁 The test tubes were a gentle nod to J’s chemistry background, and I don’t know about T’s studies and work, but perhaps his too. So much so, at the reception, the lolly table held things in beakers and test tubes in racks.
It felt like every detail was attended to – in the sense that, it feels like all the lovely things were there, nothing was forgotten or struck off. Here’s some of the lovely details
every pew had a floral decoration (not every second etc)
plants and little vases to decorate the low stone wall
floral napkins to put out with cakes, croissants and quiches for after church
a coffee cart, which also poured and distributed champagne (or similar)
bikes to cycle between the ceremony and the reception, complete with helmets!
lace bows for attaching to car antennas (which I made with my room mate); but the florist who’d decorated the bridal tandem bike, had left wired bows to decorate the bikes
sushi snacks for cocktail hour at the reception
tablescapes that included
placeholders were little glass jars with a chalk label and bowled lollies inside with T heart J and similar
coasters with ‘Advice for the bride and groom’
love hearts out of novel pages & wooden cursive ‘love’
a table set up for children – with colouring books and mini lego
bathrooms with make up wipes and sanitary items (and pew flowers (roses) which I’d rescued and mimed to the florist we could reuse)
a lolly station (despite there being about 6 dessert options in a pick and choose layout)
It was such a wonderful night (and day!). The bike ride between the locations was a lovely part of J & T’s story, and it was SUCH a lovely day to do it. Everyone waved and clapped and honked their horns. And I didn’t fall off. I may have been a little immodest riding in a dress, but it’s not that uncommon either. The reception was lovely and leisurely, and we were seated with really interesting people, who spoke English and German, so were wonderful at summarising speeches and helping decipher the menu/blackboard, though some things just aren’t translatable: mashinis was mashed potato in a martini glass, and was to be served as a midnight snack 🙂 That being said, I think we left after 1am, and fresh from having desert, so the midnight snack was shelved.
The overall experience was wonderful. My usual waitress was Lithuanian (second I’d met in Iceland) and happy to help and generally pretty bubbly. I was initially worried when the menu said only for tables of two or more, but it wasn’t a problem. Interesting the first few dishes were quite rapid in coming, but then there became long lapses between the mains (the fish and the lamb particularly). I had nowhere else to be, but I’d forgotten to bring a novel, due to a small handbag, and in the end, resorted to writing on my map!! Of course, like absolutely EVERYWHERE in Iceland, there was wifi, so I could also occasionally chat with people in Australia. Seems a bit vulgar, but I didn’t have company with me.
A lot has happened in March, so in the style of others, I’m doing a month’s round up.
I went to the ArtExpress featuring the graduating class of 2016’s artworks, which I shared a photo heavy post on.
I had a weekend in Melbourne with my mother. It was spectacularly sunny and warm the whole weekend – Melbourne’s not known for having consistent weather at all! We ventured to a new suburb to try a Barre Tone class with an instructor who I used to have teach me in Sydney. I’d forgotten what an intense work out she provided, and my mother enjoyed her first ever class. We scoured op shops, first out of necessity for Mum to buy some work out pants, but then for fun. She brought a great black and white dress and a multi colour rain coat. I settled for a polyster top for work (I’d NEVER buy polyester new, but for cheap and second hand, I’ll bend the rules). The main reason for the trip, however, was to see Book of Morman. Neither of us are musical fans, but we both loved it. It’s incredibly quick, punchy and completely irreverent. We went to a Saturday matinee which was blissful (we’re both sleepy heads). On Sunday, we met Fiona from Declutterer for breakfast at St Kilda. All three of us talked our heads off, helped that Mum is also a teacher.
The following week was no slower for first times and fun times. On Thursday evening, I braved a lot of traffic to see my very first drive in film, Beauty and the Beast. Having a car is a certain prerequisite I didn’t fulfill previously! On the Saturday night, I went with my brother to see some Aussie Hip Hop. The main act was Urthboy, but I’d almost saw I enjoyed the support act more, Joyride. Joyride just seemed to have a smoother sound and strong convinctions in his thoughts, and I couldn’t help but be a little starstruck.
Following all this, on Sunday, Lucinda met a less than shiny and bright me – yep, in a week, I met two long time blog readers and writers. We ate lunch at a cafe (as Lucinda thinks breakfast out is ridiculous, which I’d agree if I settled for avo on toast, but I clearly do not!) before heading to see a French film at the festival. It was a harrowing (true) story of Polish nuns, pregnant through rape, and the help of a younger French doctor.
As with past months, I continued dating in March. I saw one guy three times – first for a drink. Due to wet weather, I decided to hail a cab rather than walk the relatively short walk to our meeting point. The same time a water main failed in a main city street. In the end, I escaped my sky rocketing taxi fare for a different pub, and he came and found me! I was quite impressed by his efforts, so we met for another drink the following week. He kindly drove me from the date to Newtown, where I met my parents and my brother and his girlfriend for her farewell dinner (she’s returning to the US). It was a fun night, my family were in great spirits for a weeknight! I was going planning to go to the drive in with the same fella but he got cold feet waiting for me to pick him up (due to heavy traffic – an emerging theme!) We ended up catching up the next evening, but things didn’t gel and have silently fizzled out since then!
Technically the 1st of April, I went on a first date at a very hip and local cafe (it’s closed when I drive by for work, but I read it’s tasty menu one evening walking) They churned us in and out quickly but it was tasty!
And earlier in the month I met for a post work drink in what ended up being a very smokey outdoor area. We’ve remained in contact and somewhat as friends, he’s a lawyer, so good at chatty banter!
Work has been revolutionary in the past week – they announced some rather unexpected and hard to stomach changes to my management line. Both my direct boss and his boss (also my mentor) are in a perilous position. My boss is told to await Easter, and they may find him a role. My mentor is finished and leaving the company at Easter. The last week of March was consumed with finding this out, then disseminating the information, and attending roadshows and talks from management. Right now, it doesn’t mean my job is in jeopardy, but blind freedy can see it will mean my role and those similar to mine will need to be rationalised evenutally, having see such a huge reduction in front line staff in the two years I’ve been in this role.
Black with white patten polyster work shirt – second hand – Melbourne
White knit dress – second hand – Oxford brand
Grey cable knit pullover – second hand – Cotton On <- cheap brand, cheap fabric, but comfy
Navy top with sequin detail collar – second hand – David Lawrence
In keeping with past fancy dinners here, here and here, this year I booked with a small group to go to Momofuku in Sydney’s casino ‘The Star’. The creator is the guy behind now 21 resturants, mostly in the US, and this was the first outside the US.
It was a great night, and the photos tend to speak volumes!
The meal alone was $175, and then $105 to match all courses with alcohol – my mother and I shared that. Two friends went for ‘reduced pairing’ which resulted in half as many drinks, but standard pours. I think mum and I got more variety! Dad ordered a glass of wine, and uncommonly, the tasting resulted in him rejecting it. They were great about it, and (unsurprising to me) Dad picked the French red wine of the two replacements they offered.
Overall, it was a great. It’s a very intimate small resturant (42 seats) with an open kitchen. Mum preferred to other places she’s dined like this. So that’s a recommendation. Oh, and despite the name… it’s not Japan.
Somehow, this post never got posted, but the pictures are no less lovely, so why not now?
Last year (ie 2013), we went to Diner en Blanc held at the surprise location of Bondi Beach. I posted about it here. This year (cough 2014!), we went again, and here’s a photo summary. This year it was held in Centennial Park, which wasn’t as ‘wow’ as a beach, but still a lovely setting.