Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas shopping covered at Uni Hill - and a giveaway!

If you know anything at all about me, you'd know that I love shopping. And I especially love grabbing a bargain. Well, who doesn't? Lucky for me, Uni Hill factory outlets is just down the road, so I can get my fix of bargain shopping any time I like. They offer big brands at up to 70% off retail prices, including Nike, Cotton On, Tony Bianco, Lorna Jane, Guess and heaps more.

Recently, I was offered the opportunity to go shopping at Uni Hill, so of course I jumped at it. Duh. I haven't even begun my Christmas shopping, but my family has a glut of birthdays at this time of year, so shopping is always on my mind. 

Where do you think I headed first? Hehe. Not buying birthday presents here...unless they're for meeeee.

Full price Lorna Jane gear? No thanks, I'll take the factory outlet prices!
I'm a bit of a regular at Lorna Jane. You can find me there every couple of weeks, browsing through the racks hunting down a super-special. On this trip I was very restrained and only picked up a crop top - you can never have too many of those....

Next it was onto Nike. They've just opened a new store at Uni Hill, and it's BIG. I grabbed myself a top and a pair of yoga pants, plus some Cool Max gear for Number One Son for his birthday. Sweaty boys, ugh.

Did I mention this place is BIG?

I was hoping to find a pair of shoes for myself, but was unlucky this time round - the ones I liked that were at rock-bottom prices weren't available in my size. That's the luck of the draw with factory outlets. Not to time for sure!

A couple of shops further along is Rivers. This is Bike Boy's favourite clothing store. I swear, he owns one of everything they sell. Polo tops, t shirts, shoes, jeans, undies, socks.... I found t-shirts and tops for myself for a tiny $5 and there was a huge range of casual and work wear for both men and women as well. 

Bargains galore!
You can even pick up shoes for teeny-tiny prices, or casual bags, hats, all kinds of bits and bobs.

Uni Hill has more than clothing though. There are shoes, handbags and luggage, homewares, perfume, books, electronic games, furniture and more.

Need sheets and towels?
How about shoes?
They have sports clothing well covered with at least six different shops offering brands like Converse, Russell Athletic, Adidas, Fila and more. And I can outfit my fussy teenagers at Jetty Surf or Surf Dive n Ski, PLUS satisfy my need to own Chuck Taylors in every colour. What? They regularly sell at the Converse store for $30 - that lets me buy THREE pairs for the full price cost of ONE.

I'm also a regular at Simone Perele down there. Gorgeous lingerie and the ladies there are geniuses when it comes to bra fittings. I love a lingerie saleswoman who can eye you up and down, guess your bra size and she's spot on!

There is also a food court, although it's a bit on the small side. The usual shopping centre offerings are there though - kebabs, donuts, Chinese food, sandwiches, etc. None of that really appeals to me, but luckily Nando's is right outside the front door and the fabulous Degani bakery cafe is just across the street, along with a sushi place and a couple of other options (There's also Cold Rock ice cream, but I try my best to pretend it's not there...).

Some of my loot
Uni Hill Factory Outlets is located on Janefield Drive, Bundoora, in Melbourne's north. It's just off the Ring Road (take the Plenty Rd exit) and the number 86 tram stops right outside, so getting there is a cinch. And you can find out what's happening there by following them on Facebook or Twitter.

There you go: your Christmas shopping has been made that bit easier.

Now here's the exciting bit: Thanks to Uni Hill, I have a $50 Simone Perele gift voucher to give away to one lucky reader. 

All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me what you want for Christmas - easy, see? The competition will close on Tuesday 4th December at 5:00pm eastern time and is open to Australian residents. The winner will be drawn at random and announced on this blog.

Disclosure: I received some vouchers from Uni Hill to use on my shopping trip, but also spent some of my own cash.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Social media etiquette rule #346

Not green eggs and ham. Green pancakes.

Comments on social media posts can sometimes leave you scratching your head and wondering "What was the point of that?" One thing that peeves me is people attempting to assert some kind of moral superiority or demonstrate their refined sensibilities by pointing out that they would never, ever stoop to < insert evil deed mentioned in blog post here >. Apart from the Parenting: you're doing it wrong type of comments, one of the most popular topics for this kind of "feedback" seems to be food.

If you don't eat something, like... I don't know.... green food? cottage cheese? animal products? - do you really think it's necessary to leave comments such as "Yuk" or "Euww" or "Well, I wouldn't eat the meat/cheese/green stuff, but that tomato looks nice" on somebody's blog post or Instagram photo?

Here's a tip: NOBODY CARES IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT. If you are repulsed by a particular food, that's your business. Move on, go make a constructive or insightful comment on another post or another blog.

I'm just saying.

*This little rant was not prompted by any recent comments on this here blog, so don't anybody waste a second thinking "Oh God, does she mean ME?" I promise.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Healthy cooking made easy

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I love variety in my meals. I understand how some folks think it's too hard to whip up gourmet treats every night and so just end up rotating the same few meals week in, week out instead. But seriously...urgh! Nothing tips me off the healthy eating wagon faster than boredom. ANOTHER plate of grilled chicken and salad? Kill me now...

So allow me to introduce you to my hero:

I've had a soft spot for Jamie Oliver since he first bounced onto my TV screen back in 1997 with The Naked Chef. He wasn't just entertaining (and a bit cute), his food was REAL and unpretentious, not to mention delicious. He made cooking seem fun and easy - which it is.

So when I spotted Jamie's 15 Minute Meals in the shops a few weeks ago, I grabbed it as a birthday gift for Bike Boy. Smart thinking, no? We've only just begun to work through the recipes, but the ones we've tried have been FAB. 

The premise of the book is that healthy, fresh, delicious food shouldn't take forever to prepare. 

I. Freaking. LOVE. That.

Does the book live up to its promise? Absolutely. With a small proviso: You do need to be a fairly well-organised cook. If you watch the TV show, you'll see that Jamie generally has ingredients at hand and ready to go. A man after my own heart - I can't stand disorganised cooking! If you're not naturally an organised person, you're probably looking at more like 30 minutes, but that's still a quick meal in my book.

The time saving lies mostly in using a bit of technology - a blender and food processor are essential, or you'll be chopping and pureeing for hours. Like this Jerk Pork that we had for dinner last night (I was too hungry to pause for photos, sorry):

The sauce ingredients just get chucked in a blender and the salad is a tear-and-throw-in-a-bowl job - Apart from the corn on the cob, but he even makes that easy, just grill and use a sharp knife to slice the kernels off.

We found a pork fillet in the freezer and decided to make this at the last minute, but we didn't actually have all the ingredients. It doesn't matter. The beauty of this type of cooking is that you can substitute and improvise. These aren't temperamental recipes that require precise amounts of the exact ingredients.

We had the sad remains of a bunch of coriander - more would have been good, but we made do. We had no corn cobs, but in the back of the pantry I found a small can of corn kernels. Close enough. No cherry tomatoes, so a bit of chopping was required with a full-sized tomato. No cress...meh, leave it out. I added cucumber, which wasn't in the recipe, to beef up the salad ingredients. Luckily we had lettuce and a ripe avocado in the fridge or the salad would have been nothing like the recipe. The sauce asked for red wine vinegar - we used balsamic. Spring onions? Oops, out of those; a little red onion did the job. And corn tortillas were nowhere to be found, but we did have some soft wholemeal flour tortillas. I didn't bother trying to make those into a crisp salad basket, just warmed them up and chucked them on our plates.

The end result was superb. We've also made the spicy cajun chicken with smashed sweet potato & fresh corn salsa and the British burgers and both were sensational. Every recipe uses fresh ingredients, includes a large amount of veggies and is pretty nutritionally balanced. I'm having no trouble at all fitting these into my 40/40/20 (ish) meal plan.

If you're stuck in a food rut and desperately in need of help, but don't have heaps of time to play domestic goddess in the kitchen, grab yourself a copy. Add a food processor and blender if you don't already have one and you're all set.

The companion Jamie's 30 Minute Meals is equally as good. Maybe ask Santa for a package deal for Christmas... :o)

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my copy of Jamie's 15 Minute Meals out of my own pocket. I am however, an Amazon affiliate and may receive commission on items purchased via links on this page. Opinions expressed in this post are my own.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Recipe alert: Everything old is new again

When I moved FitBodies Food over to WordPress last year, a heap of my early posts didn't make the transition. *Poof!* They just up and disappeared. Well, not quite - they're actually still sitting over on the old Blogger site. But unfortunately because that redirects to the WordPress site, you can't see them. Technology. Hmmph.

I only discovered the missing recipes a few months ago, and I've been meaning to re-post them ever since. And I will, honest. It's just a LOT of work, so not likely to happen in the near future.

Anyway, the other day, Sara tried to post a link to one of my recipes and emailed me because she couldn't find it anywhere.

So... by special request, I give you a new (old) recipe for blueberry buckwheat pancakes.

I know just how old this recipe is, because that's the kitchen bench at our old house - that we sold in 2007.

I'm not as creative as Sara with my pancakes... I don't have buckwheat fermenting in my bedroom, I just buy the flour from Coles. These are still good, I promise.


Monday, November 12, 2012

A little pause

You know what's fun? Spending all day in your pjs on a day off; flying a kite at the park on a windy day; watching a spectacular sunset in an exotic location' or ....I don't know, touring a chocolate factory, with free samples?

You know what's NOT fun? Freaking menopause. I wouldn't use the word "crazy" exactly, but let's just say that hot flushes, constant anxiety and disrupted sleep do not make for a serene outlook on life. I've spent the last couple of weeks alternating weeping and biting heads off, whilst managing to get exactly nothing done...and that includes blogging. I'm rectifying THAT situation right now, after just a little some stalker-level prompting from a certain someone who's been emailing, commenting and Facebooking me "RUOK?" type messages.

I agreed to join in Sara's Festive Fitness challenge, but I have to admit that my first week hasn't been impressive. Exercise has been limited to a few walks, one RPM class and running a client through an outdoor session. Food was pretty good overall, but there was a Cup Day BBQ, in which these pear drop tarts from Jamie's 30 Minute Meals featured:

Noms! Pear, raspberry jam and a meringue topping.

Plus my annual outing to the Oaks at Flemington, at which event champagne is compulsory:

This year's ensemble

...and there may have been a few glasses of bubbly consumed at home to celebrate an actual warm and sunny weekend.

And to top it off, I didn't even manage to blog my challenge goals. Nice going, Kek. I'll rectify that one right now. Here's what I'm committing to between now and Christmas:

Training - 6 days per week. 2 weights sessions, 2 spin sessions, 2 other cardio sessions per week. Shoulder rehab to be done every day as well.
Nutrition - No alcohol, no junk, no wheat, no more than 2 coffees per day. I'll be going heavy on the veggies too. Also? I need to add a few supplements to my regimen - and take them on a regular basis.
Lifestyle - Adequate sleep each night and no procrastinating about stuff that needs to get done. That only leads to stress, which very quickly throws me into a downwards spiral in the areas of food and exercise.

But to quote Captain Barbossa (imagine piratey voice here), these are not exactly RULES; they're more like GUIDELINES.

Exceptions can and shall be made. My birthday weekend in Hobart, for example, will most definitely involve some lovely Tassie wine and no doubt also some dessert. If I'm tired and sore and feel the need to throw in an additional rest day one week, I will. You get the idea.

My goals? To drop another 2-3kg and to get back to running 5km without feeling as though I'm going to die. My most important goals though, are health-related:

1. To gain a further 20 degrees of flexion in my right shoulder by Christmas. (I've gone from 120 to 150 over the past few weeks, so that's certainly doable.)
2. To reduce the hideous menopause symptoms to a level I can tolerate and regain my sanity.
3. To push down my pesky cholesterol from an unacceptable 7.0 to somewhere closer to 6.0, or even lower if I can. More on that subject later...

That's it in a nutshell. I will be making an effort to get the blogging juices flowing more regularly too. Accountability and all that.

I'm off to squeeze in a little R & R now. Over and out.