Dinner at Aria – 12 in 2 list

Aria is one of the top shelf restaurants in Sydney – on Sydney harbour at Circular Quay. ¬†It serves ‘modern Australian’ and has breathtaking views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. About a year ago, I added in to my ’12 in 2′ goals list, hoping to visit for dinner in the next two years.

As was customary with past birthdays, I met with some close friends and enjoyed the degustation this past Friday. Aria offers a 7 course menu with matching wines for a breath taking sum of $260.

Here’s what it looked like, til I’d drunk too much ūüėČ ¬†These are phone photos, so don’t expect breathtaking compositions!

Salmon: Confir fillet of king salmon with avocado, vanilla and orange
Salmon: Confir fillet of king salmon with avocado, vanilla and orange

I’ve never had crunchy avocado ūüôĀ

Wagyu: lightly smoked wagyu beef with soused onions, Dijon mustard and rye
Wagyu: lightly smoked wagyu beef with soused onions, Dijon mustard and rye

Tasty!

Scenic shot of the Wagyu with the noisy neighbouring table in shot with the bridge
Scenic shot of the Wagyu with the noisy neighbouring table in shot with the bridge
Barramundi: crispy skinned fillet with steamed mussels, cos lettuce and samphire
Barramundi: crispy skinned fillet with steamed mussels, cos lettuce and samphire

The fish disliking BF ate this, though I did end up with extra mussels. Oh and they cooked the lettuce?!

Truffle: kipfler potatoes poached in butter milk with shaved truffles, brioche, parmesan and roasted onions
Truffle: kipfler potatoes poached in butter milk with shaved truffles, brioche, parmesan and roasted onions

By FAR the table’s favourite dinner! It was like high end mac and cheese! There were suggestions that my 30th might be in a hardware store, serving mac and cheese… It could happen! Or the venue could be Ikea?

Peking Duck Consomme: with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms
Peking Duck Consomme: with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms

The signature dish of Aria – and we loved it. Though, in a lot of ways, didn’t match the other dishes..

Lamb: roasted loin and neck with sugar loaf cabbage, sweetbreads, sorrel and salt bush
Lamb: roasted loin and neck with sugar loaf cabbage, sweetbreads, sorrel and salt bush

Also yummy, and my first taste of salt bush, it was tempured. ¬†It was lovely, and you can get lamb that’s fed on salt bush!?

And then the matched wines got me – I missed the Berries tart of summer berries with strawberry sorbet and short bread. ¬†And there were petit fours, and I had a affrogato with a shot of something… come on, it was my birthday! ¬†I did fail to mention I had a strawberry Pimms cocktail to start too.

The hangover on Saturday morning was HORRENDOUS, so we were late to the wine and cheese, and there was no more wine for me. ¬†I even scoffed a packet of McDonald’s French Fries. ¬†I wouldn’t have thought to go to McDonald’s but the BF wanted his favourite burger of all time, so I let him ūüėČ

Would I recommend Aria? No. ¬†There’s some personal reasons which I won’t share, about our particular event and the staff not being particularly sensitive. ¬†At the cost of meal being so high, you do set your standards of service incredibly high, and they totally missed the ball park in so many ways. ¬†There was wonderful company, a great view, and a pretty tasty menu. ¬†I really can’t complain! ¬†And another 12 in 2 list item demolished!

What’s the memorable (good or bad) meal you’ve had in your life? ¬†Was it the food that shone, the service, or the company?

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!

Thanksgiving – Aussie style

Australians’ don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. ¬†But I read so many Canadian and American blogs that I can’t help but want to get involved with pumpkin pie, and I don’t mind some turkey. ¬†So I thought I’d host my own dinner party!

I think I did it right – there’s no traditions to start with here, so I wanted to go for ‘normal’.

We had:

Turkey – I went for a rolled roast, with a simple ‘put in oven and cook for this long’. ¬†Not zero waste, but zero risk of failure

Turkey
Turkey

Sweet potato fries – the BF likes there, and thanks to Economies of Kale for teaching me how – although mine never end up crispy.

Thanks EoK!
Thanks EoK!

Potato gallete Рthinly sliced potato, with butter and garlic almost every layer.  MMM mmm.

mmm potato, already started too
mmm potato, already started too

Green beans – cause otherwise, it’s be a little monochromatic

The healthy part?
The healthy part?

Cheese and garlic biscuits – there’s nothing I love more than garlic, and cheese. ¬†So even though I try to eat gluten free, well I didn’t on this night!

Oh yum yum yum
Oh yum yum yum

Stuffins – when you don’t have a real turkey, you don’t have a place for stuffing. ¬†Thanks to pinterest, I had stuffins!

Don't look great
Don’t look great

There was no gravy, I’ve never mastered it. ¬†There was a jar of cranberry sauce.

Dessert failed to be photographed – I made a pumpkin pie with a hazelnut meal base, and my mother made an apple pie, which was lucky, as not everyone has a taste for pumpkin pie here.

Here was my tablescape:

DSC_1259 DSC_1257

I can’t see any reason not to repeat this next year!

Food in Vietnam

Again, authentic tourist I am not! I like to eat what I like to eat, and the last thing I want is food poisoning! I have a good history of getting ill on holidays, so with much joy I came away from my trip to Vietnam unscathed.  The BF was not so lucky! Here’s a photo document of some of the meals (and some of the meals we didn’t have – ie market stalls!)

 

Yep, plain old pizza - tasty too, with just tuna and olives
Yep, plain old pizza – tasty too, with just tuna and olives
A flavour I've never seen - sadly I didn't try it. This was the land of exotic juices
A flavour I’ve never seen – sadly I didn’t try it. This was the land of exotic juices
Kanye West Cheesecake - love the names the NY dessert cafe had. We liked it so much we went back for dinner on our last night!
Kanye West Cheesecake – love the names the NY dessert cafe had. We liked it so much we went back for dinner on our last night!
Bad photo of bulk vermicelli - almost a zero waste option!
Bad photo of bulk vermicelli – almost a zero waste option!
Another 'didn't eat' - live fish in the market
Another ‘didn’t eat’ – live fish in the market

We went to an outdoor Barbeque restuarant. I have never seen so many staff! There was at least one staff member to each 2 chairs, I’d say! They pretty much did all the BBQ cooking for you, so much so they tut tutted when I went to take a skewer – they’d determined they weren’t yet fully cooked.

BBQ Garden - a hybrid of Korean BBQ and many other dishes. I've never had so many staff attend to my meal
BBQ Garden – a hybrid of Korean BBQ and many other dishes. I’ve never had so many staff attend to my meal
Save for the coriander garnish, this noodle dish was tasty!
Save for the coriander garnish, this noodle dish was tasty!
We think this was Pho - the national dish. The BF had no idea what he ordered would be a soup :(
We think this was Pho – the national dish. The BF had no idea what he ordered would be a soup ūüôĀ
Club sandwich, with exactly 9 chips!
Club sandwich, with exactly 9 chips!
Nacho cheese: not exactly what we were expecting!
Nacho cheese: not exactly what we were expecting!

It’s sort of surprising at the same resturant as the Nacho cheese, we got the following two dishes:

Spring rolls (or nems)
Spring rolls (or nems)
Squid stuffed with pork and crab mince!
Squid stuffed with pork and crab mince!

Poor cultural joke up ahead:

I'm kidding, they surely are not food! But it was weid to come across them on the pavement on an footpath otherwise devoid of walking trade
I’m kidding, they surely are not food! But it was weid to come across them on the pavement on an footpath otherwise devoid of walking trade

We certainly weren’t that adventurous! And to go with all that eating?  Drinks! I love all things pineapple, so there were lots of blends of juices.  I also enjoy mojitos, and some margaritas, and even a caipirihna to swap out that mint and rum.  And the BF was all over the gin and tonics – with a side of beer sometimes.

What’s your favourite cocktail?

Aria for lunch

I mentioned in my post on Friday that I half achieved my plans to go Aria restaurant here in Sydney. ¬†I thought I’d share some photos of our lunch during Good Food Month.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper hosts Good Food month, and part of the initiative sees high end restaurants offer a lunch time deal at a relatively affordable price ($38).  This usually includes a glass of wine, and tea or coffee. My father has taken me and my mother previously Рthis year he lucked out, having two lunches with his two lovely ladies seperately, and another lunch with my two brothers at a non-Good Food event.

The view, the menu, the company
The view, the menu, the company
Left to righ, Main of barramundi, amuse bouche of venison terraine, and petit fours
Left to righ, Main of barramundi, amuse bouche of venison terraine, and petit fours
The petit fours - I can't remember all the different items, but you'll see a marshmallow, a mint choc truffle, some 'twills' and a lolly pop salted with olive
The petit fours – I can’t remember all the different items, but you’ll see a marshmallow, a mint choc truffle, some ’twills’ and a lolly pop salted with olive

This was all planned for my rostered day off Friday, and happily coincided with the night we flew to Vietnam. What a wonderful start to a holiday! I think I will return to Aria for my birthday and sample a degustation menu, which is sometimes up to 10 courses! I enjoy these nights immensely, sharing veryhigh end food and wine with close friends, and coming away with great memories as presents!

Dear readers – I am homeward bound, I’ll be reading all your comments in a few short hours! How I’ve missed you all!

Goals Update – September

To be honest, usually I spend the month editting and drafting my monthly goal update post. ¬†Not this month! So, there’ll be no list of my meals. ¬†And everything feels a bit sketchy!

For new readers, every month, I like to check in with the ‘New years goals‘ I set. ¬†It’s a regular reminder of what I’d like to be doing!

Financial

Save $20k $26k cash by 22 Dec (for when I get a mortgage offset account): stalled
August: $21,140.13
September: $21,020.20 (-$120)

Such a nice looking number, but sadly not on target for my stretch $26k goal. ¬†Thanks to… booking a holiday to Vietnam with the BF!

12 in 2 Adventures savings fund: hahaha what? nope
July: $749.93 (how’d that go down?)
August: $1.72 (-$748,21)
September: $1.73 (+$0.01) Oh for interest!

Grocery spend:¬†improved from August’s HUGE spend

I’m loathed to share figures, as Australia’s costs vs other countries and readers might be misinterpreted. ¬†Let’s just say, it’s a little more than double my ‘usual’ spend when I lived alone. ¬†I’m happy with that. ¬†22% is on meat, 13% on dairy (we eat so much cheese!). ¬†I’m pleased that fruit and vege % spend are up on last month. ¬†I’ve got a piece of fruit a day as a snack (banana or apple), plus frozen berries on my porridge. ¬†Vegies aren’t so simply integrated, yet.

Volunteering hours: alright (poorly remembered though!)

Sat 13th: 4hrs doing church flowers

Health

Cook at home twice a week: Achieved! 

The BF and I have a great ‘menu’ for every week, which helps the ‘I don’t know, what do you want’ conversations. ¬†I’ll get a few more photos together, and then I’ll share it with you.

Sugar: Totally not on my radar

Although, after our housewarming this weekend (I’ll bake a number of treats), I’m pledged to try and join Lucinda Sans in her first mention of the¬†Droptober challenge to eat less sweets. ¬†Here’s the rules she published.

Train for polo¬†–¬†Training to run a half marathon: ¬†inconsistent, but some running

Actually, the summer water polo season is starting, so far I’ve not been to training, due to a cold, then my lift/carpool hurting her toe, and the next week being out of town.

However, on the running front, I did a 9km organised run, and I’ve signed up for the Neon run in October (5km) and the Color Run in February (5km). ¬†This past week, which is technically October, I’ve run twice, though quite short distances, and once the week before.

Cultural

2 films a month: wow, another month with no cinema visits

2 books a month: achieved

I read World War Z (remember I saw the film earlier this year?)  The book was totally different, as commenters warned me.  I enjoyed the book, but it took me a while to get through it.

Then I read Plastic Free, by Beth Terry which I reviewed earlier this week.  I really enjoyed it!

I’m in the middle of Mr Know-it-all by A.J. Jacobs. ¬†I read his book about reading the bible and living it literally, and was reminded of this book of his thanks to Lucinda’s review.

Social

Call/connect with an out of town friend: Did wonderfully

I had a friend from Orange come to town, and we met for a hot chocolate. ¬†Another friend stayed two nights in our guest room when she came to Sydney for a wedding (I’d seen her a few weeks ago in Melbourne!). ¬†A very dear friend in Brisbane has been great at encouraging me via Facebook, so I feel closer there, and another friend who used to live in Sydney and moved to Alice Springs, and then to the UK, we had a great chat on Facebook the other evening. ¬†We couldn’t believe it was three years almost to the day, that I’d visited her in Alice!

Career

Certification: last edits needed, then submit them in October

All my episode reports are written, and long enough.  My external mentor has reviewed them all, and now I need to make some improvements and submit them!  I hope to have them submitted by the end of October.

Sorry there wasn’t any photos… How are your new year’s resolutions progressing?

Goals Update – August

Every month, I like to check in with the ‘New years goals‘ I set.  I’m getting a little rusty on updating some of my reporting (like meals and volunteering), but if nothing else, it’s a regular reminder of what I’d like to be doing!

Financial

Save $20k $26k cash by 22 Dec (for when I get a mortgage offset account)nicely replenished with a tax return
July: $18,035.56
August: $21,140.13 (+3,104.57)

12 in 2 Adventures savings fund: something had to give in the month of rent + mortgage
July: $749.93 (how’d that go down?)
August: $1.72 (-$748,21)

Grocery spend: increase achieved

That’s a blog post in and of itself – probably on Monday.  Let’s just say it’s more than doubled, and we’re shocked!

Volunteering hours: alright (poorly remembered though!)

Sat 3rd: 4hrs doing church flowers

Sun 4th: 1 hr doing Sunday School

I’m sure there’s heaps more – bad at tracking!!

Ah that's right - I did church flowers this month!
Ah that’s right – I did church flowers this month!

Health

Cook at home twice a weekAchieved! Since no eating out month (and the BF being around all the time), I’m much better at eating hearty, homecooked meals!

Items in bold were cooked at home from scratch

(Thu)
Dumplings out (Fri)
Apple sauce (sick) (Sat)
Domino’s pizza (Sun)

week 1 –
Soup and garlic bread (Mon)
Mac & cheese (Tue)
Leftover Mac & cheese (Wed)
Nothing – feeling bloated (Thu)
Cauliflower risotto – as in no rice!(Fri)
Mum’s birthday dinner (Sat)
Roast lamb (Sun)

week 2 –
Quesadillas (Mon)
Out for a 30th (Tue)
Pizza Risotto (Wed)
Omelette (Thu)
Leftovers?! (Fri)
Thai out for another 30th (Sat)
Roast beef (Sun)

One of the most vibrant things I've seen whilst on site!
One of the most vibrant things I’ve seen whilst on site!

Week 3 –
Cornbread, with pork mince with homemade taco spice (Mon)
Macaroni with anchovies and bacon (Tue)
Leftovers (Wed)
Crust Pizzas out(Thu)
Schnitzel/grilled chicken & chips <- ready made (Fri)
Beef sliders (even using left over cabbage!) (Sat)
Pulled pork nachos with Mexican beans (Sun)

week 4 –
Macaroni & Cheese (Mon)
?? (Tue)
Red Rooster (Wed)
Mexican out (Thu)
Gnochhi, then Nutella pizza (out) (Fri)
Risotto (Sat)
Dinner at parents for Father’s Day (Sun)

The boyfriend has taken the lion’s share with cooking.  He doesn’t need recipes, it’s tasty and it’s about 1/3 to 1/10th of the time it takes me.  I enjoy weekend prepping ‘weird’ hand and home made meals (like gnocchi).

Sugar:

What? Surely I didn’t think I’d stop eating sugar.  I have a killer caramel cheesecake recipe, remember! With a gluten free gingernut biscuit bases… mmmm.  And then… there was a lemon meringue pie for the greater good of the family.

Made this for the big family dinner for Mum's birthday. She got a coconut and date mousse (as it was sugar free)
Made this for the big family dinner for Mum’s birthday. She got a coconut and date mousse (as it was sugar free)

Train for polo – Training to run a half marathon:  sort of – good weeks and bad

Stopped for a week after I got some bad shin splints!  So I just bought some new shoes to (hopefully) help.  Thankfully I googled for a outlet, and shaved $70! (!!!!) off the price by buying the old style.

Cultural

2 films a month: still  none!?

2 books a month: achieved

I finished Zero Waste Home and I will add to my blogger friend’s review.  I’m likely to be a little harsher, I looked very intently on all that was said :p  I did read something else, but hmmm not sure what.  Maybe there wasn’t

Social

Call/connect with an out of town friend: YEP!

Thanks to a Melbourne trip I caught up with a friend!

Career

Certification: oh so close…

 Oh so close – I have the 150 hours (over the past three years), and I have one episode report that’s too long (a mash up of two ‘episodes’ and totally disjointed) and one that’s too short AND makes no sense… I have no idea what I was trying to write/say!

Melbourne in photos

Last Wednesday afternoon, I headed to Melbourne for three nights to complete some training. The course will help make up 150 hours on my continuing professional development to help me become a certified engineer.  This is one of my annual goals – getting my certification!

Naturally, I can’t enter a hotel room now without taking photos, so I figured I may as well share:

I could easily have snuck the BF in - or a gaggle of friends!
I could easily have snuck the BF in – or a gaggle of friends!

This was the Holiday Inn on Flinders, which is well located when your course is in the same building! I didn’t get much ‘sight seeing’ other than inside the course room for 16 hours, so the photos are of the little quirky things I did see.

Back to my room, the pillow ‘menu’. There were “hard” ones too!

In case you were wondering... Though I did struggle to remove this temporary band!
In case you were wondering… Though I did struggle to remove this temporary band!

Breakfast wasn’t included in my room rate (well I never asked?!) so I headed out each morning to get a coffee and something to eat. The first morning I got a fruit salad, but the photo seems have gotten lost. The next day, I went all out!

I think I paid far more than the size would have you think - those globs of colour must be worth their weight in gold! Still, yummy splurge b'fast
I think I paid far more than the size would have you think – those globs of colour must be worth their weight in gold! Still, yummy splurge b’fast

I was a lovely place, the Grain House, and I did break my attempts at being gluten free. It was lovely a venue, and they were totally flummoxed I didn’t order coffee (repeatedly). See, my course had great coffee/hot chocolate!

The interior of the lovely maker of pancakes
The interior of the lovely maker of pancakes

After two nights in a hotel, I’d used my ‘freebie’ and moved to stay with my friend in South Melbourne. I’ve known this friend since school (she was my boarding house supervisor). In that time, she’s lived in Germany twice, me in France once. In addition, I’ve visited her twice in Germany and once in Brisbane (when she was visiting her parents), and she’s visited me in Paris and in Sydney. We certainly are jetsetters!

The view from my friend's apartment. I can see why she chose it!
The view from my friend’s apartment. I can see why she chose it!

We had a pretty leisurely evening together and morning before my Saturday afternoon flight back to Sydney. We did so much walking!! Though, the walking was worth it, for the things we ate (not all of it was I ‘blogger’ like for, so there’s no photos of delicious gnocchi or pear & nutella pizza or my pastry!)

Mac and cheese burger by the beach
Mac and cheese burger by the beach

Wow, my phone takes great photos in good light (and horrible photos in bad, as seen below!)

As you can see, burgers and slaw are my thing – and… whilst i don’t have a file photo, so is Mac and Cheese! The BF cooks it to ‘pick me up’ pretty regularly.

Compared to my homemade version with potato bread and red cabbage slaw
Compared to my homemade version with potato bread and red cabbage slaw

Speaking of – I came home to a beautiful bunch of my favourite flowers, which I (of course) have forgotten to photograph. I’ll get a snap as they open up nicely. There you have it, a mini break in Melbourne in pictures.

Goals Update – July

Every month, I like to check in with the ‘New years goals‘ I set.

Financial

$20k¬†$26k target by 22 Dec:¬†ah, maybe this will need to be adjusted again with the move. ¬†I’ll leave it for now, and see how things settke
June: $17,938.69
July: $18,035.56 (+$96.87 thanks to moving costs :()

12 in 2 Adventures: failed: not done any adventures, working on the two long term ones, and no adding to savings
June: $898.81
July: $749.93 (how’d that go down?)

Grocery spend

I thought I’d add a quick update, seeing my July challenge was no eating out, I figured my grocery spend would go up. ¬†It hasn’t, it’s about the same. ¬†Although, I probably ate at the bf’s more this month, so that might be why?

Volunteering hours
Tue 2nd: 4.25hrs at the co-op
Sun 7: 1hr at church
Sun 14: 2hrs at church

Health

Cook at home twice a week:¬†definitely achieved with my ‘no eating out’ month, but records are patchy!

week 1 –
Leek tart(Mon)
Coop food provided (Tue)
Wedding meal (Sat)
no more records?

week 2 –
no record for the rest of this week, except:
Multi course birthday dinner (Sat)
Chinese roast beef with vegies (Sun)

week 3 –
Another forgetful week!
Dinner @ parents (Sat)
Pizzas (ready made from grocery store) (Sun)

week 4 –
Gnocchi with tomatoes (Mon)
Sweet potato chips (Tue)
Fried Rice (Wed)
Sushi (Thu) <- yes bought out
snacks/leftovers (Fri)
Macaroni & cheese (Sat)
Spaghetti bolognese (Sun)

Week 5
Quesadillas (Mon)
Leftovers from Mon (Tue)
Beef with rice noodles (Wed)

Sugar¬†–¬†so so, not commited like I have been, but not entirely a free for all
It started well, but ended poorly, with lots of cakes at work, including me trying a gluten free sponge recipe, making a GF chocolate cake, using a packet mix for brownies (just to use it up). I also made a vegan cheesecake with dates and a touch of sugar. Then I also ate dessert at the fancy friend’s b’day dinner, and we bought ice creams in the past week. Sigh!

Train for polo¬†– Training to run a half marathon:¬†just platueaing! Something I want to achievely work on once I’m settle in my new home
2nd – couldn’t run 3kms to Co-op, so mainly walked with some jogging stints
9th – home to co-op, 2.93kms with some running
12th – 1.23km walk to the bf’s work
13th – 2.83km jog with hills around the bfs, with running
15th – 4.8km run back from dancing, some walking
22nd – 4.4km est, home to pole dancing, more walking than running
23rd – 4.3km mostly walking to/from hair dresser
29th – 1.53km jog/walk to appt

Cultural

2 films a month: failed (though did see two DVDs)
I can hardly believe I’ve not seen a movie in a cinema in a month – that is SO unlike me. I did mention to the BF that perhaps we could see something last night. I did watch two DVDs recently, one based on the IRA (slow burner, not really recommended). The other one was called The Factory and was better than I expected – it stars John Cusack and Jennifer Carpenter (from Dexter), and follows serial abductions of prostitutes, until John Cusack’s daughter also get abducted. There’s an awesome twist too!

2 books a month: achieved
I read Bottlemania, which you can read the review of here. Other than that, I finished The Heart Broke In by James Meek, and here’s my review (gosh that seems like a long time ago I read that!). Lastly, I’ve started on a book about called Nice Girl by R.j. Chin about Keli Lane. Keli Lane has been convicted of murder of her second child, who disappeared after an informal adoption. This is one of three children she had in secret, the other two being formally adopted. Her fourth child lives with her. This story is compelling to me, because… Keli was my boss at the school she was employed at during the years much of this drama happened! She was an Olympic water polo hopeful, and recruited me as a casual coach at her school. She left suddenly during my time working at the school. Based on the half of the book I’ve read, most people who knew her, myself included, do not believe she killed her baby. I think it’s rotten you can be convicted of murder when there’s no proof of murder. I’m sure there’s crimes committed, but murder is certainly not one of them! Here’s some more background in wikipedia

Social

Call/connect with an out of town friend: achieved
YES! A friend I made in Paris, who at the time lived in Wollongong, has been in Sydney since Feb. So I finally had her around for a cuppa, before moving out of my place. I also spoke to a number of school friends with the bad news of a friend’s death. Lastly, I semi spammed my nearest and dearest (but not local) with the link to my new house, so they could ooo and ahhh… So all round, a great month on social connections.

Career

Certification: minimal progress

Seriously, other than three hours spent at talks for continuing professional development (I need 150 hours). ¬†I booked into a pricey course to get another 16 hours. ¬†I’ve also been meeting with both my mentors, I’ve really not moved forward with this one as much as I could have. I need to set some time to get onto this and get it DONE!

Looking for next role: achieved, will remove from goals list

I’m in the new role, and I’m swamped. Let’s say I was under utilised in the last role, and now I hardly can think straight! But I love being busy, just perhaps not at the same time as moving house!!

July Challenge: No eating out

Although it’s not the true end of the month, I thought I would check in with my experience of my self imposed challenge not to eat out for a month!

1. I was innovative, with packing everything for a two day road trip. So I know I can be ‘frugal’ and skip eating out. (I will summarise grocery costs at the true end of the month, and see if there’s been a noticeable increase, and probably update this post with more info).

2. I did cheat. There were a handful of take away coffees (some even in single use take away cups!). There was one breach in the first weekend, and then two breaches the following two weekends. I also went out with my next door neighbour for Vietnamese. I didn’t want to reject her suggestion (it’s our first ‘date’), and cooking at home wasn’t practical with going to open houses on the same night. ¬†Last night I got sushi from the sushi place outside the grocery store – so it’s sort of out, and sort of not?!

source: www.mslimalicious.com
source: www.mslimalicious.com

3. My boyfriend was on board (but bored!). He encouraged me to stick at it (like last night! He cooked nachos, but I didn’t want nachos). Though it’s become a common placeto say ‘we’ll do that/go there in August’. ¬†Bring on August and some dates!

4. I did buy some ready made meals from the grocery store, such as garlic bread, soups and (freezer) pizzas. I’d like to move away from processed foods, as I’ve mentioned before, but it’s just too hard sometimes to balance all the things you want to do, with LIFE! So I gave myself leave passes.

5. I’ve certainly spent less money, with every week having some of my weekly allowance still in my wallet. That being said, I’ve spent way more than a usual month as I outlined¬†here, and more recently with the rental bond and that sort of thing.

Overall, it was an interesting challenge. ¬†I proved to myself that I can cook at home, and eat at home, and it’s not all that taxing, though I do occasionally take short cuts with ready made meals. ¬†It is a little more socially challenging to not eat out, and my relationship with my colleague seems less strong after missing our weekly lunch date. ¬†Actually, in light of my role change, a few one on one lunches might have been better to keep the relationship strong, even though I’m ‘jumping ship’.

On the whole, I don’t think I’ll re-do this challenge for the sake of it. ¬†It’s good to know I can tighten the belt, but it’s all been a bit too much of a challenge in these later weeks of the month, with all the moving plans.