Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Travel tales

Our short break in Port Douglas was lovely. For my non-Aussie readers, Port Douglas is a tropical seaside town that promotes itself as the only place where two world heritage listed attractions meet. Those would be the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree rainforest.

The weather was a little cooler than normal for May, but quite warm enough for a couple of Melbournians escaping our own wet and chilly conditions. We may not have had a chance to swim, but when it's warm enough to wear shorts or summer dresses, I'm happy.

Here's a brief pictorial summary of our weekend:

Breakfast daily on the balcony of our apartment. I could get used to this view!
Exploring around town: Old sugar wharf at the entrance to the inlet

St Mary's by the sea
Four mile beach viewed from the lookout above the town. 

While we were having coffee on the marina, Bike Boy spotted this prawn trawler selling their catch....

....and the deal was done. Lunch!

It may have been cloudy, but the view across the inlet whilst sipping a pre-dinner cocktail was just fine anyway. 

Of course there was food. We stopped for some tropical fruit flavoured ice cream on a tour of the Daintree.

Overcast and a bit drizzly, but still spectacular - Cape Tribulation

These baby saltwater crocs on the Daintree River are almost cute but I don't fancy meeting them when they're fully grown.

The sun shone on our last day, so that called for lunch in the park with a view of the Coral Sea.
We both wish we'd been able to stay bit longer, but we're grateful for the chance to get away at all. Luckily we've both seen the Reef before, as there really wasn't time to cram that in as well as a rainforest tour. Besides, we're wary of trying to do too much on short breaks - the idea is to relax, after all.

Now it's back to reality... although I'm busy researching accommodation for our next holiday in September. Planning our trip to Malaysia and Vietnam should keep me going through the next three cold and miserable months.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Weather report

If you're not in Melbourne, go check out the BoM radar to see what kind of bollocky weather we're having today. (I'd post a link, but have no idea how to on the blinking iPad) We're expecting a top of 14C today, with thunderstorms, strong squally winds and bucketing rain. We're on flood watch, as some parts of the city will likely receive a generous 70mm. I don't give a toss though. This afternoon I'll be sipping a cocktail in Port Douglas. If its raining there, who cares? At least it won't be 14 freaking degrees. See you Tuesday!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

So much to blog about; so little time...

Did you miss me? I've been busy as a little bee these past few days, with no time for blogging at all. Here's a quick glimpse of what I've been up to:

A little "Death by Chocolate" on Saturday night:

A trip to Bendigo on Sunday amid a spell of perfect autumn weather:

To see this (which was brilliant, by the way):

I have NO IDEA how these ended up on my feet yesterday; I swear I wasn't going into the Diana Ferrari factory outlet in my lunch was like I was in a trance or something; one minute I was walking by and the next I was standing on the footpath with a shopping bag in my hand. Honest.

This morning I ventured out into the freezing cold in my bike knicks, wondering if perhaps I was actually insane.... Seriously; who goes around with bare legs in this weather? But 15 minutes into RPM, I was feeling nice and warm. I knew it would be worth the effort. And no, I don't have a photo of that - you don't want to see my knobbly knees, trust me.

On with the day!


Friday, May 18, 2012

The winners - Sirena giveaway

I've just drawn the winners of the Sirena picnic basket giveaway

Once again, the draw involved extremely high-tech processes: Folded slips of paper placed in a Tupperware bowl and drawn by me using the time-honoured "eyes-closed" method.

I loved all of the responses - everyone's fantasy picnics sound wonderful. The winner of the main prize, the fabulous picnic basket stuffed full of goodies was cam:

cam said...
Well, if it's a fantasy...
My picnic would be at the end of the North Pole marathon (which I have just successfully completed), under the northern lights. My companion would be my Dad - the person who first inspired me to run and got me hooked on something that makes my life better.

The two runners-up, who each receive 12 packs of Sirena Tonno e Riso, were Mademoiselle Slimalicious

Mademoiselle Slimalicious said...
I would love to have a picnic with Mr Slimalicious in a vineyard in Italy!

...and Anne @ Domesblissity

Congratulations to the three winners, and thanks to everyone who entered. Oh, thanks also to Sirena for providing the prizes. :)  

Cam, Mademoiselle Slimalicious and Anne, please email me your postal addresses and I'll arrange to get your prizes to you.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gourmet Garden - recipe #2

This is recipe #2 in the Gourmet Garden blog-off/cook-off. Recipe #1 can be found here.

Thai-style pumpkin and sweet potato soup

Serves 6

1 tbs peanut oil
½ a butternut pumpkin (about 800g), peeled and chopped
1 medium kumera (orange sweet potato), peeled and chopped
1 onion, finely diced
1 tsp Gourmet Garden garlic paste
1 tbs Gourmet Garden Thai seasoning
2 cups chicken stock
165ml can of light coconut milk
1 tbs fish sauce
Squeeze of lime juice
Gourmet Garden coriander paste, to serve

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan, add onion, stir over medium heat till onion is beginning to become transparent.  Add garlic and Thai seasoning, continue to cook, stirring for a further 2-3 minutes until onion is cooked, Add pumpkin, sweet potato and stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until veggies are tender. Blend the hot soup until smooth. Return to the pan and add coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice. Stir till heated through. Taste and add extra fish sauce and/or lime juice if it needs it. 

Pour into bowls, add a little Gourmet Garden coriander paste to the centre of each and swirl through with a teaspoon before serving.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spicy yoghurt chicken

This recipe is the first of my entries in the Gourmet Garden blog-off/cook-off promotion.

Much as I love my fresh herbs, sometimes we just don't have them handy. We've tried and tried, but just can't grow coriander, and it's a bit of a hit-or-miss item at the supermarket. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not... Basil on the other hand, we can grow by the armful. At least until the cold temperatures descend in May, when our previously lush bushes turn to slime. So the Gourmet Garden herbs and spices in a tube come in VERY handy.

Tonight's dinner called for these:

Spicy yoghurt chicken
Serves 2

2 tsp Gourmet Garden coriander paste
1 tsp Gourmet Garden hot chilli paste
1 tsp Gourmet Garden chunky garlic paste
½ tsp lime zest
1 tsp lime juice
½ cup natural yoghurt
2 chicken breast fillets

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl, mixing well. 

Add the chicken breasts and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour – overnight is even better. 

Place each marinated chicken breast on a piece of baking paper about 30cm square. 

Bring the edges of the paper together and fold down several times, then tuck the ends under to form a parcel. 

Place the "parcels" on an ovenproof tray and cook for 20 minutes at 200C. Unwrap the parcels to expose the chicken and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes.

Serve over steamed rice, accompanied by your favourite steamed or stir-fried veggies. Add a wedge of lime and you can squeeze a little more lime juice over if you like some extra tang.



The winners - Dove hair oil

I completely forgot to post the winners of the Dove Nutri-serum giveaway last night (Oops. Bad blogger!).

The lucky three ladies are, in order drawn:




Congratulations! Email me your postal address and I'll get your prizes off to you this week.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Up for a challenge

I've been in a bit of a blogging black hole lately. Busy life, slightly overloaded brain, that sort of thing. You know how it goes.

So of course, when I was alerted to the Gourmet Garden blog-off/cook-off (thanks Liz), I immediately stuck my hand up. Because, yeah... I really need something else to add to my schedule, don't I?

Tonight when I got home, my pack of assorted herbs-in-a-tube was waiting for me, so it's on! The deal is that between today and the 20th May, I'll be blogging recipes using Gourmet Garden products. I have one in the works, but since I got off to a late start, it's still marinating in the fridge right now. So recipe #1 will be up tomorrow.

Check back daily this week to see what I come up with. :)


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Friday, fun and freebies

Yesterday I had the most lovely, LOVELY day. I'd organised a day off work, and since I had the time available and wanted to do some shopping in the city anyway, I'd jumped at an opportunity to attend a product launch at Southbank, thanks to Nuffnang.

I took the train to the city, a bit peeved that it was rainy and miserable. But by the time I arrived, the sun had come out and it was a glorious autumn day. I was early (Ha! Of course I was), so I stopped for coffee and took in the view.

Even the muddy Yarra looks more appealing when the sun's shining.
Then I wandered down towards my destination: the massive Eureka Tower:

Southgate from Princes Bridge with the Eureka Tower behind.

The venue for the launch was what grabbed my attention in the first place. Skydeck on level 88 has now been open for six years and I have never been up there. I'm a little embarrassed that I haven't visited one of the must-see sights of my home town. *ahem* Anyway.... I was heading for the 89th floor. One floor higher than Skydeck - and for FREE. Awesome.

90 stories of Grollo glory
The lift was an unnerving experience. Super-fast (38 seconds to the top) and it kind of wobbles. A lot. I don't really love lifts at the best of times, but since 89 flights of stairs was the alternative, I sucked it up.

I'd carefully considered whether or not to take my camera and decided against. My bag is heavy and bulky enough and I planned to do some shopping in the afternoon, so my phone had to suffice. Sadly, it wasn't really up to the job. The sun was out and the glass is gold-plated, so I had major reflection issues. These were about the best two shots:

Looking east along the Yarra. Arts Centre spire in the foreground and sports precinct top right.

Looking down from the south-west side. The aquarium is the funny little building with "fins" on the north bank.
This is what the whole thing was all about... Golden Circle are launching a new fruit juice with added probiotics. It'll be in the shops on Monday, if you're interested...

The company put on a tasty brunch, with spinach omelette, avocado toast and muesli with fruit... and of course, plenty of juice laid on.

Nicole Livingstone, former Olympic swimmer and now sports commentator, was there to help promote the product and we had a great chat about healthy eating, training and setting a good example for your kids. 

Crappy photo. Should have taken the camera after all.

I'm not really a juice drinker - given that I like to eat my food, not drink it, I mainly stick to water and black tea or coffee. But the rest of my family love their fruit juice, so I was interested in this. There will be  info on Golden Circle's website (on Monday, I assume), but it contains two types of lactobacillus, which have been shown in clinical trials to support immune function. It comes in two flavours and I'm betting it will appeal especially to people who don't eat dairy products (or don't like yoghurt), but who still want the benefits of probiotics. Oh, how does it taste? Great. Don't tell the family it's good for them and they'll never guess...

Apple Mango or Breakfast (apple, orange & pineapple)
We were all given a bag to take away with a couple of 1 litre bottles of the juice and some other goodies (including a tube of anti-wrinkle revitalising serum... Oh yeah. I'm gonna be using that!).

We were also given a raffle ticket on arrival for a door prize draw. Guess whose name was first out of the box? A three-piece luggage set from Samsonite's American Tourister range? Thank you very much!

My lovely new set of Samsonite luggage.
I couldn't believe my luck. We bought new luggage to take on our holiday to Thailand last year and one suitcase only made it to Chiang Mai before the handle fell off and a hole got knocked in the front of it. We were discussing our upcoming trip to Malaysia and Vietnam in September about two weeks ago, and Bike Boy said to me "Just go out and buy a couple of Samsonite suitcases." My fairy godmother must have been listening.

Best. Day. EVER.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

Yesterday I watched the movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. If you haven't seen it, it's well worth a look. It follows the progress of Aussie Joe Cross as he embarks on a 60-day juice fast (yes, yes... keep reading...) whilst travelling across the US.

Don't worry; Joe's not a vegetarian/vegan agenda-pushing zealot. He was just a guy with a chronic illness who wanted to see if removing the crap from his diet, flooding his body with micronutrients from fruit and veggies and taking up exercise would cure him. Did it work? You'll have to watch the movie to find out...

The best part of the program in my opinion, was the positive effect that flowed on to other people. He challenged a few people to join him and actually got some takers. About halfway through his 60 days, Joe met a truck driver in Arizona (I think?), who by coincidence, had the same disease as he did. This guy was so inspired by Joe that he took up the challenge as well, downing glass after glass of organic, freshly squeezed juice for 60 days. The change in his medical stats after only 30 days was nothing short of amazing.

If it sounds like something that might interest you, then run on down to your local newsagent, because there's a free copy of the DVD being given away this month with the Australian Women's Weekly. Personally, I don't think the magazine is worth $6.95 (what have they done to Kerri-Anne on the cover? She looks like a waxworks dummy), but the movie definitely is.

Inspiring stuff. I'm off to Google juicers now....  :o)


Sirena giveaway

Remember last month when I did a product review for Sirena Tonno e Riso? And remember how excited I was to receive a lovely picnic basket full of goodies? Here's a reminder:

Well, guess what? Thanks to Sirena's generosity, I'm able to give you the chance to win one for yourself! But wait, there's more.... I also have two runner-up prizes on offer, to spread the joy around. (I know! It's a veritable freebie-fest around here lately!)

Here's what you could win:

Main prize:

One Tonno e Riso picnic pack containing:

4 packs of Sirena’s Tonno e Riso
Stainless Steel cutlery
2 x Grant Burge piccolos
2 x Plumm champagne flutes
1 x handmade French Market Basket
Value: $140 +

Runner-up prizes (x 2):

A weekend supply of the Tonno e Riso range (12 packs)
Value: $45.48 each

These are the four varieties, and I can vouch for them all:

To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me where and with whom your ultimate fantasy picnic would be....

I really, really liked this product - so much that I've bought quite a few packs to keep at work for lunches or snacks. The price is reasonable - way cheaper than buying a sandwich - and I know that there's no artificial stuff in it, just good, whole foods.

You can find out more about Sirena's Tonno e Riso (or their other products) over here.

The competition is open to Australian residents only and closes at 6:00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time on Friday 18th May 2012. Only one entry per person is permitted. The winner will be chosen at random and announced here on this blog on Saturday 19th May. If the winner’s postal address is not received by Thursday 24th May, their prize will be forfeited and a re-draw will take place.

There is one main prize and two runner-up prizes to be awarded, with an approximate total prize pool value of $230. Postage within Australia is also included.

This is not a sponsored post, and no cash payment was received to promote these products, however prizes were provided by Sirena.