Thursday, 27 August 2015

A Post Full of Self Pity

I'm not a negative person.  I don't get down in the dumps very often and i make it my mission to make as many people smile as possible each day.  Truly, how many times have you laughed at my stupidity, my naivety, or my quirky observations of life.  There is always method in my madness. So permit me to indulge in a little self pity because I've just had the worst holiday ever.  Don't take offence Glenda (sister), you kept me safe, fed, medicated and rested when what i wanted to do was jump up and down and say ...

I waited all year for the opportunity to take leave and go somewhere.  It was planned that last week our family would spend 4 nights in a luxury 5 star resort in Torquay on the coast.  Hubby started a new job the week before (unplanned but very happy event) so he couldn't go (Strike 1).  Tom wanted to stay home and look after Tilly and Dad (he did a good job) and so i changed plans and invited my sister Glenda.  Much excitement ensued including a few new items of clothing, new underwear (truly i needed them) and packing of yummy girl munchies (read chocolate), games, books and DVD's (Vikings).  My girlfriend, Kerrie, even dropped around a personalised care package with all the things i consider yummy.   I had printed maps of the waterfalls we would visit in the Otway National Park with the expectation that I'd really clock up some steps on my fitbit and my friends would gasp in wonder.

Well things didn't go according to plan.  I got sick with a bad dose of the flu and on arrival Sunday afternoon i was packed straight into bed (Strike 2).  A very nice bed it was but it was not what i had in mind.

Yes, the location was lovely.  No, i hadn't won Tatts, my friend's brother is a member of the time-share resort chain and when they have vacancies in the off-season they offer them for huge discounts to members and their guests.  I only paid $40 per night for a huge two bedroom apartment.  In reception i heard someone making a public booking for a one bedroom apartment at $395 a night.  Really!!!  Truly!!   Gulp!   So if there is any consolation it was that i hadn't paid a fortune.  Still...

Of course there was a tennis court, a day spa, indoor pool (given that its winter and bitterly cold), bistro for evening meals, buffet breakfast and a beautiful beach across the road for all to enjoy, EXCEPT ME!  See, I'm sulking!.  I made my way through flu tabs and tissues for several days until on Wednesday, fever running hot, we came home early but that is not where my disappointment ends.  I left my Fitbit on the sink in the bathroom and magically it cannot be found (Strike 3).  Since i cant see myself funding a replacement then i guess i am out of the club.

You would think that 3 strikes and I'd be out, wouldn't you.  Well no, the umpire decided to give me another shot and we had planned a trip home last weekend to gather with the family and move Mum and her belongings from her sold house in Leeton to newly purchased one in Narrandera.   This was a much anticipated and planned event and everyone was joining in, as only families can and despite it being hard work the opportunity to be together (and to meet my niece's new baby) was very much looked forward too.
So, as you would guess, i was too sick to go and Glenda went without me.

OK, i get the picture, I'M OUT!!!!

Of course, at work it's all a bit of a laugh.  Something always goes wrong when i have a holiday.  So, its been decided that i'm much better off staying at work.  Better luck next time.

Oh, for those who actually care, i went back to work Tuesday and i am feeling much better, thank you!  I might even consider a Flu Shot next year.

Thanks for Living In The Land of Oz

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Happy Birthday Rob/Dad

Happy 55th Birthday Rob.    Truly this must be the ideal present for him.  I cant see anything missing.  Those of you who know him would have to agree.    Tonight was a quiet night out with just the 3 of us and we tried a couple of new places at the newly opened Urban Dining section of Pacific Plaza less than 2 km away.  It has only just re-opened in the last month after millions and gazillions spent on enlarging and upgrading plus a name change from Werribee Plaza.  Apart from the revamped food court there are several new casual dining restaurants.  Of course there are also many many new stores but I'm not interested in shopping.  I hate shopping and i haven't even looked.

Did you hear what i said?  We tried somewhere new.  Really!!!  We have eaten in the same Turkish Restaurant for years and years but last week when we were celebrating Rob's new job (Yeah !!!) and on arrival discovered that the owners had sold up and moved to Turkey for an extended holiday.  The staff were new (though very nice) but there were changes and for the boys, the magic was gone. Aspie's do not like change!.

We started at Schnitz  -  which sells a range of chicken and beef schnitzels in buns, wraps or meals.

Rob opted for beef schnitzel and salad, Tom went for plain chicken schnitzel and beer battered chips and i had a Mediterranean salad with yummy grilled peppers and chicken fingers.

Why do they make these meals so big.  I guess its more cost effective for me because you know I'm going to ask for a doggie bag.  Lunch tomorrow is taken care of.  Tom declared his battered chips the best ever and i would highly recommend the chicken strips with a light squeeze of lemon.  Rob was equally as impressed with his beef schnitzel which i noted was slightly pink and tender.  Kudos to the young man who served us. Nice manners.

Tasmanian Tatters
Instead of a cake we went to The Pancake Parlour for a short stack and ice-cream.  What a yummy meal we've had tonight and best of all, i didn't have to cook it.  That's it for us.  No birthdays or planned celebrations till Feb next year.

Rob's new job starts early and so I'm up at 5 for at least the first month until he goes on permanent afternoon shift.  This will bring many changes to our little family but we will adapt.  The work is much more suited to him and best of all, he is not a service technician that travel all day.  For someone who hates driving as much as he does, going to the same location each day, working with the same people on the same equipment is like a breath of fresh air after the last six years of upheaval.  Im going to do a post soon on all the pre-employment tests you have to do.  If you haven't done it recently, you are in for a shock.  You would think you were applying to NASA.

So that's 3 posts in as many days.  I'm on holidays next week so until then I've run out of things to tell you.

Thanks for Visiting Living In the Land of Oz

Monday, 10 August 2015

Walking in Winter

Am i mad?  Am i trying to get the winter sniffles?  Nope, just trying to keep my steps up by going for a decent walk when its wet and freezing, and also trying to get some girl time in with my BFF. Multitasker, yep, that's me.   This event happened a few weeks ago but i was browsing my phone photos today and realised that i hadn't yet shared this free activity with benefits to all my readers. All 3 of you.  You see, I'm thinking of your health.  No special equipment required so put away the wet weather gear, hiking boots and poles, and the new thing, pocket warmers.

So where can you go for a decent walk, stay dry, keep motivated, not get bored. Oh, and stop half way for coffee (only a little Almondine croissant, i promise). After all, you are only half way through and there is a whole lot of more to go, so you need to keep your strength up.

Its big, isnt it.  All 82 aisles of undercover walking track with interesting things to look at along the way.  Its so big you can't even see the trade entrance that we parked next too which should be about a centimeter from the left hand side of the above picture.  I think you need a helicopter to get a photo of the whole thing in one frame.

Kerrie and i donned our FitBits and entered into the land of fence palings, sleepers, concrete and besser blocks.  Interesting stuff (NOT) and the coldest part of the warehouse.

Kerrie, the intrepid explorer.  Its a good thing we've been friends forever as I'm sure she thinks I'm nuts sometimes.  
Never-mind, we were warming up.  After dodging tradies and weekend warrior's 4WD, SUV's and Utes loading up in the trade area we ventured into less dangerous territory, the aisles.

 I don't know why I'm showing you this shot, you cant see the other end anyway.

How many different ladders can there be?
We bypassed the Tool Section.  Those who know me know how much i hate this section.  Hubby can go in there and not come out until after dark.  Its such a trap that they have a bench outside it so all the patient wives can rest their feet while they wait.

Was it only a few weeks ago that i threatened him with a giant wrench over the head if he didn't hurry up?

If you started your marathon at breakfast time, then you could stop at the quarter way mark and grab a sausage in bread with barbecued onions, tomato sauce and a dash of mustard for $2.50.  Its for a good cause people, give it up!

Actually it wasn't until we reached aisle 35 that things started getting interesting for us.  We entered the garden tool and what nots section.

Pssss - i have a green one. 
Our increasing interest was marked by the gradual slowing pace of our walk There was even sporadic moments when we came to a complete stop to discuss the merits of a particular item. It could also have been that we are middle aged unfit women who needed a rest and it seemed like a good way to get one. I truly wasn't that interested in half the stuff i picked up.

Did i mention that coffee break?

Not far from the cafe is the DIY Workshop where you can undertake short workshops on various DIY projects (the name kind of gave it away).  Today's itinerary was

Can i let you in on a secret?  The only difference between the bookcase and the shelving was a backing board so its yadda yadda yadda and Oh, here's one i prepared earlier. !!

OK, we are at the other end now and so its outside into the garden section and whiz around all the aisles out here including loading up a trolley with 4 bags of potting mix and a bag of poop.

Why?  Well after that delicious croissant i was feeling guilty and so to punish myself i pushed this loaded trolley for the second half of the marathon, up and down the aisles, taking only God knows how many corners and running in to many many customers ankles who didn't get out of my way fast enough.   Its the wheels people, not me!

Major pauses took place in the tile aisle while we both chose our preferred bathroom tiles.  Its in our future but we both have to win Tattslotto first.

We are both going for large white tiles with a feature stripe.  Kerrie's choice is red and mine will be some shade of blue.  
We stopped for so long in the kitchen and bathroom section that i think you could officially call it an intermission.

In unison we chose this shower enclosure and fixtures.  Both of us have homes approaching the 20 year mark and i know mine is decidedly out of date with its 3 fold sliding shower door that comes apart nearly every time you use it. I want a big door, to get my boobs and butt through at the same time!  (You Jest?  Its working for Kim Kadashian and JLo)

Have you ever noticed how i get Kerrie to do all the embarrassing things for photos.  Well, i am taking the photos, its my blog and she doesn't say no.  Love that smiley face!  XX

After that it all went down hill as we went through storage, cleaning and pool products, plumbing pipes with only brief interest shown on roof vents. The walk got a bit quicker until we reached the final aisle which was internal and external doors.  Once again, our 20 year old project homes came with cheap hollow doors with no features at all and gross white handles.  We both envisage solid doors that actually keep sound in or out depending on where the teenagers are.

The finish line was in site.  Just a trip to the trade desk to pay for the bags of soil and a quick discussion with the boom gate operator on the way out.  Nope, I'm not so big that i cant fit through the normal entrance/exit but this is where we parked the car, remember?  He did tell us that its a huge security risk as people walk out the central exit with their register slip and then come back in, pick up the same item and go out the trade exit showing the same slip.  Its only stamped at this exit and they estimate they loose $1 million a year this way.   Pretty brazen isn't it.  Oh, don't get any ideas!  I trust you all.

So,  how did we go on the steps.  You would be thinking close to 10,000, wouldn't you!  I was (my feet told me it should be) and wasn't i disappointed to find out that it was only 3,500.  Hang on, Kerrie did 4,000.  Did she run on the spot in the shower when i wasn't looking?  Apparently, Fitbits only record when your hands are free.  Just like the treadmill, if you hang onto the handles and your feet move but your hands don't, it doesn't record.  Hello! I was pushing the bloody trolley for extra effort !!!!! Go Figure... and yet, if you keep your feet still and move your hands it still doesn't record.  I tried!

See, this wouldn't work, her hands are holding something.  
My Fitbit is on my wrist but Kerrie's is attached to her bra.  Personally i think she might have gained a few extra steps with boob wobble.

So have you enjoyed your visit?  Yes, i will write about anything.  After 262 posts, you would too!

Thanks for Visiting Living In The Land of Oz

Lion Ribbon Graffiti in Melbourne

Has anyone else noticed all the lion's heads done in pink fluro ribbon around Melbourne.  There are several near my work in West Footscray and i consider them works of art rather than graffiti. Its takes some skill to do this in a public place, usually on a fence, with time constraints and under the cloak of darkness. Considering its a very cold winter this year, it also takes serious dedication to ones art.  I was sure it had some meaning as a logo for some political statement but when when i tried to Google it, all i come up with is Lion Ribbon which is a brand of haberdashery. Further investigation was needed.  This link from a radio stations has some more examples around town.

Triple M Melbourne - Lion's Heads

I continued on until i found some forums and the general chatter tells me that it appears to be the work of a Melbourne artist known as Sunfigo and its obviously been happening for quite a while.  There are numerous sightings of the ribbon work all over Inner and East Melbourne.  Its also possible that there are now copy-cat artists around.

Upon further investigations, there have been sightings in Melbourne of other animals.

Graffiti art is not new to Melbourne.  Its everywhere in all its various forms from the most amazing murals in the lane-ways of Melbourne and sides of buildings to the disgusting illegal tags that cover everything including trains, buses and twice now, our front fence.   So i guess, as with all things, there is good and bad graffiti.

With the old adage of "cant beat them, join them" Melbourne City Council now has approved locations that it promotes on its website and you can now do lane-way tours.   See link here for Melbourne's Public Art. These locations are not just public thoroughfares but also locations used for fashion shoots, movies and even trendy pop-up restaurants.

The good thing about all this "public art" is that it has now opened up the lane ways and darker area's of the city and brought foot traffic making it safer.  In the past these alley ways were dangerous places to be, even during the day. Now, many are lit and under camera surveillance.  There is a code among graffiti artists of not destroying the work of others.  A sign of respect i guess.

What do you think?  I like the ribbon art.  Its temporary and doesn't damage property.

Thanks for Visiting Living In The Land of Oz


Monday, 3 August 2015

Introduction to Indian Cooking - Workshop

She's gorgeous, isn't she?  Surya looks like an Indian Princess who went slightly off track and found her way to the Eco Living Centre in Wyndham Vale for a workshop presented by Shoestring Gardening.  How lucky were we and how lucky was I that at last a workshop was being held on a weekend and not mid-week.  I grabbed 3 of my buddies (including my sister) and we made our way to a morning of heavenly spices, yummy food and a good ole natter.  Shoestring are hoping to make this a monthly workshop with local people demonstrating their cultural foods to others.  What better way to bring a community together - sharing food.  I don't dine out at restaurants and my circle of friends is decidedly "Anglo" (why is that?) so I'm hoping that there are some brave souls willing to share some Thai, African, Turkish, Italian, Asian, ........... cooking skills .  I'm open to it all.  Bring it on.....

Our morning started with Spinach Onion Pakoda.  It is a spicy fritter batter dropped into hot oil until cooked.  The mixture was made up already on arrival so i arrived just in time for the cooking and eating.

What started out as a flavoursome opening snack certainly had a bit of a kick in the tail.  Not too much though.  I didn't see anyone diving for drinks and there were plenty going for seconds and thirds.... Oh, was that me?  I noted when we were finishing that the bowl had a rather large quantity of batter remaining so i nabbed it to bring home and make up for my hubby.  Waste not, want not.  I dry fried it in a non-stick pan making them flatter and they turned out equally as good as the deep fried.  I think they would be lovely with a mango chutney.

I do have the recipe and ingredient lists for all these recipes but if i included them here, the post would be very long.  Give me your email address in comment section and I'll send them to you.

The main course for the workshop was Sambar (Indian Lentil Vegetable Stew or Chowder) 

This is one healthy meal with lots of vegetables and certainly different and more interesting than the usual steamed veggies i serve up my crew.  I'm not sure, no I'm pretty sure, that Tom wouldn't eat it but Rob is open to anything.  I tried Okra for the first time and found it a bit ho hum, squash kinda taste but it did pick up some of the spice flavours.   This particular dish included Tamarind Water (made from paste), Coriander Powder, Sambal Powder, Curry Leaves, Fenugreek Seeds (the list of health benefits associated with these seeds is long - check it out), & garlic.

During the making of this meal there was an open general discussion between all the ladies about some of the products we were using.  Simple ones like, what is Dal?  What exactly is Ghee and when do you use it? Unless you are a vegetarian you, like I, may have an idea but you are not quite sure.  Shoestring workshops are the perfect opportunity to ask seemingly stupid questions. They are always friendly and relaxed.   Surya was happy to go through each of the questions and give us simple explanations that were informative and cost saving.  If you don't cook Indian food everyday you run the risk of going out and buying an enormous collections of unusual spices that you may not ever use again (though you should). Surya gave us hints on buying dried powders rather than pastes. Checking for use by dates and storage and where to buy locally. We all loved her stackable spice cans with the smaller tins of spices displayed inside.

Our accompaniment for the main dish was Indian Spicy Potato Roast.  

This dish should come with a warning for all vampires.  Phewy, does it have a garlic hit.  The recipe says 2 pods.  We all naturally thought this meant cloves.  Nope, that's 2-3 bulbs.  Apart from the garlic there was fennel seeds, Sambar powder, coriander powder, Asafoetida and Turmeric.  These were all folded into the diced potatoes before roasting.

You might have noticed that i keep mentioning some ingredients that are a bit different.  What the hell is Asafoetida?  Well if you are Indian you would use it in almost every dish.  If you are an Australian then you probably should.  There is a hole in our ozone guys!  This is such an important topic that i did an entire post on it What is it with men and Farting?

Asafoetida is made from the dried gum of a middle eastern herb.  Its main use in cooking is to reduce "gas" in dishes with lentils and pulses.  Since these are a staple in most Indian dishes you will find that it will also include a few shakes of Asafoetida.  It can be used in any dish as although it stinks close up, it cooks out and enhances the flavours of a dish.  I'm thinking of buying it by the tonne and handing it our to all my friends to use so that their husband might be relieved of their gas issues.  There are also many health benefits and you can check them out here.

So what is Sambar Powder.  I guess its a bit of a curry mix.  Instead of buying a stack of little sachets of spice you can buy one powder with it all mixed.  It includes Lentil, Coriander, Chili Pepper, Cumin, Turmeric, Mustard, Fenugreek, Compounded Asafoetida, Ginger, Curry Leaves & Salt.

What's the difference between Dried Peas and Lentils.  Check this out here but I'm still a little confused.  I know Dal is the Yellow Lentil (flatter) used in Indian Cooking.  Lentils come in a variety of colours and peas are either green or yellow.  Lentils are the seeds from the  pod of a legume.  Isn't a pea pod a legume too! So confusing.  Either way they are all, along with beans, pulses and they are very healthy for you.  Just use the Asafoetida people.

SO until next time....

Thanks for Visiting Living In The Land of Oz