Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The comeback

Current state of my fitness: abysmal

Current attitude: shitty

Current energy level: about equivalent to a snail on tranquillisers *yawn*

In spite of all the above and in spite of it being mid-winter, I have embarked on a new fitness program this week. I won't be breaking any records, but I will be hitting the gym or my spin bike most days.

The 5:30am alarms are brutal, but I'm doing it.

Yep, the pink sparkly training gloves are coming out again.

There. I've declared my intention. Now I have to do it.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Genius approach to mammography

Brought to you by Nuffnang and Genius 3D Mammography.

Being proactive about your health means paying attention to so many things. There’s the food you eat, maintaining a healthy weight, being active, getting enough sleep and minimising stress. But no matter how many veggies you eat or how many kilometres you can run without breaking a sweat, you still need to make sure you have regular medical screening tests. And for we women in the 40-55 age bracket, mammograms are right there at the top of the list of important tests.

Most of us have been affected in some way by breast cancer; if not personally, we have a friend, a sister, a mother, a grandmother or an aunt who’s been diagnosed. I’ve participated in a number of Mother’s Day Classics to raise funds for breast cancer research because it’s a cause I feel strongly about, having lost a close friend to the disease ten years ago. I also feel strongly about nagging every woman I know to get regular mammograms.

It’s well known that early detection is important, because finding invasive breast cancers early increases the chance of surviving the disease. If found before spreading to the lymph nodes, the 5 year survival rate is close to 100% (96%).

Early detection is where Genius 3D mammography comes in. Around 8 million women around the world have benefited from Genius 3D mammography. Unlike 2D mammography, which produces a flat image, this technology takes a series of images – thin “slices” – which are used to build a 3D image, giving a much clearer view of the breast tissue. It allows the radiologist to examine your breasts layer by layer, making it easier to detect abnormalities. It really is genius.
It’s no more uncomfortable than a regular 2D mammogram; in fact the process from the patient’s point of view is very similar.

Genius 3D mammography is proven to detect 41% more invasive breast cancers than traditional 2D mammography alone. That’s a pretty huge number. It’s also proven to reduce false positives by 15-40%. This means earlier detection than ever before and less anxiety about unnecessary further testing, including often uncomfortable biopsies. Nobody needs an anxious wait for further test results, which turn out to be nothing at all.
All women can benefit from 3D mammography, but certain high-risk women may derive particular benefit, such as:

  • Women with dense breasts (women in their 40s who are not actively targeted by BreastScreen);
  • Women who have noticed changes, i.e. a lump;
  • Women with a strong family history;
  • Women with a previous diagnosis of breast disease;
  • Or those with a suspicious finding from a previous 2D mammogram.

You do need a referral from your GP to a Genius 3D Mammography clinic, so if you think you would benefit from this technology, have a chat with your doctor.

To find more information, or your nearest Genius 3D Mammography clinic, visit www.genius3D.com.au


Friday, June 05, 2015

Ten things I like about winter

Anyone who knows me, or who has read this blog for any length of time (a big hello! to my three dedicated readers), knows that I'm a committed winter-hater.

It's especially difficult for me this year because:

a) We just got back from the tropics. Boarding a plane in 32º and disembarking into 4º is not amusing, let me tell you; and

b) Melbourne has been afflicted with a record-breaking cold snap, the coldest start to winter in 65 years. Brrr! I expected to be eased into the season with gradually descending temperatures, but nope.

Instead of following my usual M.O. and whinging constantly about it, I decided this morning that I'd try to see the good side. I set myself a task on Twitter, to find ten good things about winter. The first few were pretty easy, then I ran out of ideas. Except for food. There's hot soup, hot tea, hot toddies, hot casseroles, hot pies, hot chocolate... but ten food-related "good things" would be cheating. *sigh*

It took me more than six hours, but here's my list:

Of course, that last one is a bit of a stretch, because I usually put my pyjamas on the minute I get home from work, whether it's daylight or not.

What do you like about winter? If you're a winter-lover, you're not invited to answer, by the way. This lady said it best:


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Back in Oz

Sawadee ka! I'm back from my Thai holiday. 

Don't worry, you didn't miss a thing. It was really quite unbearable.* We planned a lazy, relaxing holiday to mark our thirtieth wedding anniversary, and here's what we got:

Day after day, we had to eat this food....

Pork something or others, wrapped in noodles and deep fried. Blech.

Sunday brunch included Raclette. Disgusting. I mean, who likes melted cheese on anything?

Soft-shell crab in a green papaya salad. By the pool. Dreadful.

Pad Thai, presented in an egg "bowl". This place was so bad, we
went back again just to be sure it was no good.

Complimentary fruit every arvo. Free stuff? Nah, nobody likes that.

Sunday brunch seafood. Lousy selection... nothing but prawns, oysters, mussels, bugs,
crabs, salmon, fresh sushi made to order right in front of you.

Desserts. You know I hate desserts.

And in the afternoons, there were naps that needed to be taken. Or maybe just a quiet read, whilst looking out at the awful view.

We had to drink horrid concoctions like these....

Cosmpolitan. With beach view. Yuk.

Bubbles, every damn day. 

Unlimited Bloody Marys at Sunday brunch. Not even close to acceptable. 

Mmm, I don't know... mojito? Can't recall but I'm sure it was awful.

Another G&T forced down.
 And the hotel was dreadful. Just look at this place. Pfft. I don't know how they can call it a five-star resort...

We kept finding tropical flowers in our room. Ugh.

The resort is built around pools and ponds, with lush tropical gardens. The scent of frangipanis was just horrid.

The pool had to be swum in, numerous times every single day... 

With only 15 rooms accessing the lagoon pool, we had it all to ourselves most of the time.
Where are the crowds? The dive-bombing children? I ask you...

Our patio, shutters closed for privacy, with our own pool entrance.  Unbearable.

Perfect pool, perfect weather. Aargh!

The pools were open 24/7. No 10pm curfew? Unacceptable.

There were storms on two of our ten days. Nothing to do but sleep, read, eat and relax. Sooo boring.

I had to suffer through foot massages and mani/pedis....

It cost me less than half of what I pay at home. I should complain.

And there was sunset after tedious sunset...



See? Horrible!

Is that the best they can do? Really?

Even when it stormed, there were sunsets to endure.

Nope, you wouldn't have liked it at all.

*Actually, it was bloody marvellous. If you like doing a whole lot of nothing in perfect surroundings, book yourself into the TwinPalms Phuket Resort. It's the duck's guts. 

If you prefer to be sightseeing and doing stuff, there are tours and trips to suit anyone. We'd done it all before though and preferred to just chill out this time. Which we did. 

I wrote a review for Trip Advisor if you're interested to know more...


Monday, May 18, 2015

Radio Silence

*taps microphone* *blows cobwebs out* Testing...testing...

I know! It's been eight months since I published anything here. EIGHT MONTHS. I didn't even finish recapping our trip to Europe. My excuse? Mmm, I've just had the blahs. I haven't felt especially motivated about anything at all. Work, housekeeping, training, writing, anything. And if it wasn't for Bike Boy's cooking skills, we'd probably have been living on pizza and KFC.

I didn't blog about it at the time, but my Mum died unexpectedly in April last year. I still don't really want to talk about it here, but the short version is: it's been a very rough year, where it seemed that everything was spiralling out of control. The end result is that I worked myself into a pretty bad state, both physically and mentally.

But enough is enough. I need to reclaim some kind of normal, and I'm starting with blogging. At this point my plan is to just post something, anything, at least a couple of times a week to get back into the swing of things.

I'm also about to head off to this little piece of paradise in a couple of days, so assuming the hotel wifi works, I can promise plenty of photos of cocktails and Thai food and (hopefully) glorious blue skies.

Now I need to go rummage through my wardrobe to see what I can find that's suitable for a tropical holiday that still bloody fits me.


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Introducing The Ten Minute Project

Thanks to our extended holiday, being flat-out busy and if I'm honest, a complete lack of motivation, things around our home have been sadly neglected of recent months. The place is, quite frankly, a bit of a mess. With September upon us, I seem to have acquired a desire to get it sorted...to do a bit of Spring cleaning, if you will. But I stand in the middle of a room, look around, sigh and don't even know where to start. There's so much to do it's simply overwhelming, and so I end up doing nothing. 

It's driving me mad because I can't find my favourite shoes, that pair of pants I want to wear NOW, my youngest son's birth certificate, or the lead for that gadget that needs charging.

So I've devised a plan that's brilliant in its simplicity. I've called it The Ten Minute Project and it involves breaking big jobs down into ten-minute chunks. Instead of aiming to clear and clean the entire house, or even a whole room, I just pick a small area to work on at a time. It doesn't sound like much, but I figure if I spend ten minutes every day on de-cluttering and tidying up, things should be a lot more ship-shape by the end of the month. Thirty times ten minutes adds up to five hours - who has the time, stamina or attention span to do five hours straight of tidying and de-junking? This way, I get it done without it even feeling like any effort at all.

I began last night with the tallboy in our bedroom. The top of it had disappeared under discarded earrings and necklaces, piles of papers I'd cleaned out of my handbag, odd buttons, coins, a couple of books and other flotsam that had somehow landed there. I set a timer on my phone for ten minutes and set to it. It's now clear, dusted and everything is neatly in its place (or in the bin). 

Tonight's job was the laundry. Eesh. Take a look:

That's all a bit much for one ten minute chunk, so I elected to focus on just the bench for now:

Before: Random crap and a nice layer of dust, lint and spilled washing powder.

After: Tidy, clear and all sparkly clean again. Let's hope I can save that poor orchid...

I actually had some time left over tonight, so tidied up the shoe rack in the mud room as well. Go, me. :D

I think my Ten Minute Project is so bloody brilliant, I'm issuing a challenge - or an invitation if you prefer - to anyone who'd like to join me. Spring-clean September will be much more fun than Sugar-free September, I promise. There are only two rules:

1. You must spend ten minutes tidying or cleaning or throwing-out. Set a timer or use a clock so you stick to the allotted time. If you want to keep going once the ten minutes is up, go right ahead, but ten minutes is all that's required.

2. Anything you remove from the area you're working on has to be put away in its correct place or thrown out. No moving piles of crap from one place to another, the point is to reduce the stuff sitting around.

Easy, no? Who wants to join me?


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Travel tales: Scotland part 2

Where was I....? Ah, I covered Edinburgh in this post, but that was just the first couple days of our little Scottish jaunt.

Day 3 saw us on the road to the Highlands. We were bound for Inverness, but thought we'd stop along the way to see some sights and have some lunch. Which ended up involving a distillery tour at Dalwhinnie and a pie from the servo.

The distillery tour was great - our guide was an entertaining fellow, and as I consider whisky one of my hobbies (...what?!), it was interesting to see how the golden liquid is produced. We also got a tasting and a souvenir glass. Being a bit serious about my whisky, I opted to pay for an additional tasting of three whiskies, paired with locally made chocolates - purely for scientific research purposes, you understand.

Whisky and chocolate - a match made in heaven.
Fortified by good Scotch whisky (me that is; Bike Boy was driving), we forged onwards to Inverness.

After checking in at our B&B, we set off to explore the town. We *may* have been distracted by a pub we stumbled across and abandoned our walking tour prematurely. Dinner, drinks, walking distance from our accommodation...what more could you want?

The Castle Tavern. Who could resist the warm glow of those lights and the musical clink of glasses?

The following day was dedicated to sightseeing. After fortifying ourselves with a massive breakfast, courtesy of our hosts, we soaked up a bit of Scottish history at Culloden battlefield and wandered through the glorious gardens of Cawdor Castle.

Then it was onto the REAL reason we were in Inverness: to have dinner with my lovely blogger mate and ex-pat Aussie Shauna and her fab husband. We chatted for hours about Scotland, Australia, travel, food, this and that, and generally had a fun night - and managed to not take a single photo. Oops. Bad bloggers.

Oh, I did take this one of Loch Ness from the pub car park (no monster in sight, sorry).

Leaving Inverness next morning, we drove along the length of Loch Ness and around past Ben Nevis, stopping at Fort William for some pretty decent fish and chips for lunch. The scenery changed markedly. Along the loch it was green and lush with wildflowers blooming, but as we climbed up into the hills, it became wild, bare and dramatic with patches of snow glinting on the higher slopes. There aren't many places you can stop for photos though, so this is about all I have:

SNOW. On the last day of June. 

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness. 

I dunno. Somewhere between Ben Nevis and Fort William

We stayed in the beautiful village of Luss for our final night in Scotland. I could have happily stayed there for a week. It was so peaceful, so pretty and our accommodation was GORGEOUS.

I did have a creepy feeling of being watched though. Possibly something to do with the stuffed birds, fish and deer heads hanging on the walls of the bar and restaurant. Decorating with dead animals is a thing in Scotland, apparently.

Luss - on beautiful Loch Lomond
We took a short cruise on the loch before we left next day, and then we were on our way to The SOUTH. That's how all the road signs are written, in capital letters. I felt I had to shout "THE SOUTH!!!" every time we passed one. It amused Bike Boy endlessly. Especially after about the tenth time.


We bypassed Glasgow, stopped very briefly at Gretna Green (horrible tourist trap, don't bother) and we were heading on into Cumbria for our next adventure.

Scotland, you won me over. I'll be back, just as soon as I can.