Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New obsession

I love discovering new foods, and one of the great things about our weekend away was the Grampians Pure sheep yoghurt that the hotel provided as part of the continental breakfast buffet each day.



I teamed it with some fresh fruit salad, some dried fruit compote (dried figs, yum!) and a little muesli for the perfect start to my day. It was super-creamy, mild in flavour and now I'll be driving myself crazy, stalking every specialty deli and gourmet grocer in my area, looking for a retailer that stocks it...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My weekend in pictures

View of Mount Sturgeon from our room at the Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld. The fog was descending by the time we arrived on Friday afternoon. Which of course meant that it was perfect weather for a glass of red in the bar by the open fire:



Mount Abrupt - aptly named:



Mount Sturgeon again, taken in the early morning from the hotel grounds:




We picked the easiest of the Southern Grampians to climb, and made our way up the Piccaninny this morning. The view across the surrounding farmland was worth the effort, and I was impressed to find that I had 3G coverage from Telstra all the way up. (Bike Boy was not so happy with Optus):



The native flora was really pretty - and of course I could name most of them (I'm such a nerd when it comes to plants):











The hotel has also done a fabulous job of landscaping several acres of gardens with indigenous plants:










We took a drive down past Hamilton on Saturday and discovered a couple of impressive waterfalls. I suspect they haven't been all that impressive for many years, but the recent rainfall has changed the landscape a bit:





We also discovered that the Western District was a hive of volcanic activity about 8,000 years ago, and took a tour of volcanic caves, lava tubes, and tumuli that resulted from Mt Napier erupting back in the day:







We disturbed three large kangaroos whilst wandering around near the caves, but I wasn't quick enough with the camera. This swamp wallaby obligingly stood still for us as we walked back to the car though:



So did this one in the gardens of the hotel this morning:



And this fella startled us more than we startled him as we descended the Piccaninny today. He wasn't a bit perturbed by the humans nearby. He was more interested in breakfasting on the leaves of this tree:



The verdict: Definitely worth a visit. The hotel seems a bit pricey for a small country town, but it's equal to any city five-star establishment in terms of accommodation, food and service. And the spectacular Grampians National Park is right on the doorstep, along with plenty of other sights and activities.

Unfortunately, the road from Dunkeld to Halls Gap is closed at the moment due to landslides, as a result of the flooding rain that affected much of the state back in February. So we didn't get to do a driving tour of the mountains, as the detour made it a loooong trip. We found plenty of other things to do though, so it wasn't a big deal. Most people go to Halls Gap to see the Eastern Grey kangaroos anyway - and we have those right on our doorstep at home.

We drove home via Ararat, stopping for lunch at a nice little cafe - great food, but awful coffee. And we called in at the Mount Langi Ghiran winery for a tasting. Of course. Beautiful scenery, lovely wines. Worth a detour. ;)

Friday, May 27, 2011

On the road again

I'm in the midst of a frenzy of bed-making, tidying and throwing stuff into a suitcase ahead of our departure for the weekend. I'd normally skip the whole domestic organisation thing when we're not going to be here to enjoy the tidiness anyway. But my mum is coming to keep The Baby company while we're away, so I figure clearing the floor between the door and the bed is probably a good idea...

We should be hitting the road by 11:00am, and I'm hoping for some reasonably fine weather so that we get to enjoy views like this one:



Have an awesome weekend. I know I will. :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Little things

I'm in love with my Pandora bracelet, and I'm never taking it off.



Bike Boy chose the two-tone charm with the tiny gold hearts on it. Then yesterday I took my Mum out shopping and while we were out, I spotted a Pandora store and just had to get the cute little cupcake with the gold cherry on top.



I also called in at T2 and grabbed a box of Melbourne breakfast tea for the office, plus a canister to keep it in.



I do love that shop, with their shelves stacked high with boxed teas, and their pretty teapot displays. Apart from my love of good tea, I think it appeals to the neat freak in me.

I wandered trough Lush, but only bought some utilitarian scalp treatment bars (not photo-worthy, that's for sure), checked out some gorgeous new luggage, browsed in book shops, ate lunch and spent a pleasant few hours without my usual accompaniment of teenage eye-rolling or muttering.

I really should do a girlie day of shopping and lunch more often.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The traveller returns

I'm back from my lightning trip to New Zealand. I had an awesome time, hanging out with Sara, enjoying the comforts of the spare room (which comes complete with warm feline sleeping companion), eating banoffee pie (and plenty of good food too), and viewing some of the awe-inspiring havoc wreaked by the February earthquake. She arranged perfect weather for my visit, but failed entirely on the aftershock front - there wasn't even one decent noticeable rumble the whole time I was there. I'm still sulking...

We've both decided that next time we get together, we need to clear and synchronise our calendars and just spend plenty of time chilling. And of course, eating - we're particularly good at that. But in spite of a fairly manic schedule, I had a fabulous time, saw some sights, met some friendly Kiwis and generally felt like I'd never left home.

Here we are, all glammed up for the gala occasion on Saturday night that was the impetus for my visit:



There are still some parts of the city where serenity abounds:





The ubiquitous security fencing is a bit of a giveaway that something's up, but otherwise, it looks like business as usual along the river:



Christchurch is full of pretty weatherboard houses with ornate fretwork and lace from the late 1800s-early 1900s. Most of them are still standing. Unfortunately, many of them have these brick firewalls on the property boundaries, which didn't stand up so well to the earth's rocking and rolling:



The Catholic cathedral is a bit of a mess. I'm pretty sure the Catholic church can afford to rebuild it, so hopefully it will eventually be restored to its former glory.



Elsewhere, there are stone buildings that have been partly or wholly destroyed.



And people's homes with their furniture and belongings still sitting there...



It was quite strange to walk down apparently normal streets, then see rows of port-a-loos along the footpath.



The seriously damaged sewer system is just one of the challenges amongst the rebuilding efforts. There's also a bit of an unpleasant smell in some parts of town.

Most of the city centre is still off-limits due to ongoing danger, and businesses have been forced to close if they can't find alternative accommodation in the suburbs. Folks appear to be just getting on with things, but it must be very difficult for those whose homes have been destroyed, or who no longer have a job to go to. :(

I got home on Monday, after a ridiculously early flight that required me to head out the door at 4:30am. Sara valiantly crawled out of bed and drove me to the airport, for which I'm sure I must owe her more Koko Black... I managed to find decent coffee at the airport, plus some bargain duty-free grog for myself and Bike Boy, and some Sheep Poo for The Baby. Yes, Kiwi humour....




********

I'm off again this coming weekend. Bike Boy and I are heading off to western Victoria for a romantic getaway to celebrate our wedding anniversary. He surprised me this morning with a gift - we don't do anniversary gifts as a rule, so I wasn't expecting anything.

Turns out he actually does listen to me now and then. I mentioned a while back how much I like Pandora bracelets, but how expensive they were, and guess what he got me?

:)

********

Also? I've posted a new recipe over at my Good Food blog. I pinched it from Delicious magazine, and it's awesome.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Going offline



Apparently telcos have a legal right to gouge massive holes in our wallets if we dare to want to use our fancy-pants smart phones outside our home country. Bike Boy has calculated it would cost approximately a billion dollars to download one Facebook page on my phone.

For that reason, I'll be disabling my phone's data connection while I'm away for the next few days. So the chances of regular online updates from me are looking slim.

Don't miss me too much!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Almost....

I'm kind of half-organised for my trip to Christchurch tomorrow. I've washed clothes, been shopping for books to read on the plane, some extra warm clothing, and stocked up on teeny-tiny containers of shampoo and toothpaste etc. I've thought about snacks to take on the plane (my flight leaves at lunchtime and I'm not buying crappy airline food) and my mother is teed up to drive me to the airport.

I have all day today to organise myself and pack. Which means that I'll probably be throwing things in a suitcase at 9:00pm tonight.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Drama Llama



I thought I'd sort out the mess in my wardrobe tonight, identify the things I want to take with me to Christchurch on the weekend, and make sure I wash anything that needs it. I'm not leaving till Thursday, but I need to get onto it now, since the weather is cold, grey and drizzly, and clothes are taking FOREVER to dry.

Of course, Number One Son has commandeered the washing machine and buggered off for the evening. Grrr. So now I have to deal with his washing before I can get mine on, plus compete for (limited) space on my clothes airers.

No, luckily for me, I really do not have anything more important to bitch about. ;)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Recipe Alert!

I enjoyed my kitchen adventures yesterday. The salmon was fabulous, and I also made Kat Millar's gluten-free apple cake, which tastes super-yummy! That's been cut into numerous slices and frozen, and will be very handy for snacks over the next week or two.

I didn't get to the lemon cheesecake yet, but I did invent a blueberry cheesecake-in-a-cup. Great creamy texture, and I can see this (or variations) becoming a favourite pretty quickly. I'm already thinking about a passionfruit version.



I may get around to making the other cheesecake sometime today. We'll see....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Recipe Alert!

As promised, I bring you a new recipe. No, not the cheesecake (patience!), but a really delish Middle Eastern baked salmon.

The best thing? The recipe makes two serves and Bike Boy isn't all that keen on salmon, so I get to eat it again for my lunch on Monday. :)

Rainy Saturday Ramblings

I was going to blog yesterday and the day before, but Blogger had other ideas. Apparently there was some massive disaster with a planned one-hour outage that went on and on and on... Oh well, they've obviously sorted it out. Now I just have to remember what it was that seemed so important to write about... Or perhaps I'll just wing it and see what comes out.

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There are now only FIVE MORE SLEEPS till I fly out of the country to visit Sara and help her to celebrate her thirty-tenth birthday. Am I excited? Eeeeeeeeeeeee!! You betcha.

I have my passport, some Kiwi dollars, a gift all sorted (shhh!) and I start my leave a day early so I'll have plenty of time to pack, unpack, repack, unpack again, repack and then worry that I've still left something vitally important behind.

The photo is the two of us in 2006 when we attended Phat Camp together. Yes, we have seen each other since then, but I don't seem to have any photos of the two of us. Must remedy that this time!

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I've spent this week dutifully working on my new training plan, and the almost total absence of back pain has seemed like something of a miracle. This morning I woke up feeling a bit stiff and sore in the lower back - probably a result of Thursday night's osteo treatment. Even though I haven't yet done my exercise routine, just adopting a slightly different sitting posture has banished the pain in no time.

How am I sitting differently? I'm simply using my glutes to pull my pelvis from its habitual anterior tilt back towards neutral. Translation: squeezing my butt and keeping my feet flat on the floor. I can tell I've got it about right when the quite severe lumbar lordosis (sway back) that I've had forever disappears and the chair back fits quite snugly against my lower back.

There's a lot more to my exercise program than just sitting differently, but the lower body segment involves a quite simple process of stretching my hip flexors and strengthening my glutes through some basic exercises. Repeated ad nauseum. LOL

I'm still amazed that something so simple is so effective, so quickly. Of course, permanently retraining my movement patterns is going to take time, but I'm prepared to persevere. The rewards are well worth it.

I'm not doing much about my upper body issues at this point. I chose the problem that was bothering me the most to begin with and will add to my program to deal with other wonky bits in a couple of weeks.

********

I've been stuck in a food rut for the past several months. I simply couldn't be arsed cooking anything that took any effort. Even thinking about doing something different seemed like too much effort. You know what happens when I stop being creative with my meals? Danger, Will Robinson! Yep, I get bored, look at my lunch and think "Bleurgh! I don't feel like eating that", and then go in search of something - anything - that's more appealing.

For me, it's kind of difficult to eat well without any sort of planning and/or effort. So this past week, I've been more organised and made more effort with my daytime meals. That doesn't mean I've been living on chicken salad (although that did make an appearance on the menu once during the week). Thursday night I treated myself to my favourite Chocolate Dream cake from Brown's. And last night Bike Boy made me a sensational pizza with prawns, olives, mushrooms, capsicums, onion and fresh basil.

As a result of making a bigger effort and just being more conscious of what I put in my mouth, the scales have moved downwards quite significantly, without the need to weigh or measure food or log anything at all.

I've also gone on a couple of shopping expeditions and hunted down some of my old favourite ingredients. I went on a fruitless quest for unsweetened apple sauce - seems the old IXL brand I used to buy has disappeared (damn you, SPC/Ardmona!) and I couldn't find any brand that had no added sugar. Then Bike Boy suggested baby food, and success! Heinz apple puree - just what I needed! Yesterday I found some organic quark in the fruit shop/deli where I usually get our fruit and veg. I almost did a little dance in the aisle; it's been years since I've been able to buy quark.

I grabbed some passionfruit and fresh dates while I was there and stocked up on walnuts. Plus we have fresh chestnuts in the fridge from a relative's tree.

Having some delicious ingredients on hand has inspired me to get my kitchen goddess mojo on today, so I'm planning some new recipes. Quark cheesecake is on the list - can't wait to try it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Can we slow down a bit?

Who do I see about ordering a few more hours in my days? Life is a wee bit busy just now...

Last night I was on my way home when I had a call from my bestie, who had tickets to the theatre for a new MTC play - at 6:30pm! I changed route, rang Bike Boy, told him I was going out, and we made it to the Arts Centre with time enough to spare for a pre-show drink.

The play was good, but I ended up missing dinner, and the pile of folding and ironing I had planned to do last night is still sitting here. Tonight I have a client to train, and programs to update/emails to answer, so it'll be another busy evening.

Oh well, it beats being bored. :)

Monday, May 09, 2011

New week, new outlook

This past weekend was a busy one - no time for the usual relaxing Mother's Day with breakfast in bed, lunch with my Mum and sisters and an afternoon of doing whatever I like. Instead, I was off at the crack of dawn both days to travel to the other side of town so I could brush up my training knowledge and earn some CECs.

My two day Centrality course was excellent, and I'm bursting to put everything I've learned into practice with my clients. But the best part about it? I'm now confident that I can resolve my own injuries and reduce the recurrence of the low back pain that's plagued me for over thirty years. The principles I'll be applying are just so logical, and actually tie in perfectly with the work my osteopath has been doing over the past three months.

I've already begun, with a completely changed focus to my training this morning and a far more positive outlook. I'm happy to report that I completed multiple sets of (unweighted) squats without my ITB bothering me. I've not been able to do any kind of squats without pain for almost six months now. A few simple changes to technique made a huge difference in that exercise alone.

Being so severely limited in my training options for so long has really done a number on my head and that, combined with my reduced activity, has not been at all helpful in the weight department.

Now I have a plan to follow that I know will work, I'm excited to see what I can achieve over the next six months or so. My goals haven't really changed, they're still:

1) Reduce (and hopefully eliminate) pain and return function
2) Get back to normal training and to my usual level of strength and fitness
3) Drop the extra kilos that are making my clothes uncomfortably tight

But now that I have a plan that has a good chance of actually getting me there, I feel as though a load has been lifted.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Life on Planet Kek

I do tend to go off into my own little world when I'm training, that's a given.

But you know you've successfully zoned out the entire world when you're at the (quite small and pretty empty) gym first thing and you don't notice your own son there, running on the treadmill...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Gee, it's crowded in here


Do you ever feel like there are so many people inside your head that you want to move out and go live somewhere quieter? Or is that just me...?

I've been doing battle with my inner whiney-pants lately. Seems she doesn't want to:

- get up early
- go out in any weather other than sunny, 25 degrees and perfectly windless
- do anything that involves getting physically uncomfortable
- do anything even slightly strenuous

She pretends it's because [my leg hurts/my neck is out of whack/my back is cranky/I'm sick] (or insert any other vaguely plausible reason), but really, she's just looking for an excuse not to train. I'm telling you, that biatch needs a good thumping.

Yes, I have been sick for the past week, but I'm on the mend now. I'm still snotty and coughing, but thankfully, the asthma has gone dormant again. As for the whole injury situation, that's gone on way too long and I'm bored and frustrated with it. But I know that avoiding exercising makes things worse, not better, so it's time to (wo)man up and get back into it.

Today I had to leave early for work, but I squeezed in some tennis ball trigger point therapy and some stretches while my oats were cooking. Then I headed out for a brisk walk before dinner. Yes, it was cold, but I did it anyway. (Take that, Little Miss Precious!)

Tomorrow morning, I plan to be at the gym when it opens to crank out a quick upper body workout and some cardio.

Time to get some consistency happening again.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Recipe Alert!

In case you missed it last night, I tested out a new recipe yesterday. It possibly needs just a little refining to make it more presentable, but the taste is perfect.

Check out my raw chocolate fruit and nut bars - delish!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Slight interruption to programming

So much for being back in the groove. My germy kids have shared a nasty head cold with the entire family and I've spent the past couple of days feeling like crap.

In spite of waking with the mother of all sinus headaches on Friday, I got up anyway and did some core work, got the tennis ball into my glutes and did some stretching. Yesterday, I had planned to train upper body, but a rare bout of asthma put paid to that idea. My inhaler wasn't doing a thing to help, so Bike Boy dragged out the old nebuliser we used to rely on when the kids were little, and that did the trick. I was good - didn't even need to be bribed with colouring books or Lego to sit still and take my medicine. ;)

I'm better today, but still feeling tight in the chest, so my plan is to go for a walk before the forecast rain starts, then do some Pilates. I don't think anything strenuous would be a wise idea.

There's always something. I'm feeling a bit grumpy at the moment, so thank goodness April is over and I don't have to be grateful for anything today.