Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday night ramen

I've been walking past this ramen shop on Russell Street and it always seems super busy (long line of people waiting outside).

Tonight, I met Nathan in the city after work and noticed the queue outside the shop wasn't horrendous so we decided to give it a try.

Fifteen minutes later, we were tucking into some delicious ramen, karaage (fried chicken) and gyoza (dumplings) all washed down with a can of cold green tea. Bliss.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Birthdays x 3

It was Olivia, my niece's second birthday yesterday. We went to a nice restaurant to celebrate. It specialises in Peking ducks. We ordered two! They were delicious. Who doesn't love Peking duck? Even Olivia ate three duck pancakes.

Afterwards we went back to my sister and brother-in-law's place for cake. My sister and brother-in-law are very conscious of what Olivia eats so they made a sugar free banana cake (they got the recipe from some mother's blog). It was delicious (Well, I liked it very much but Nathan scrunched up his face as he was eating it so I offered to have his portion too).

After the banana cake, my sis surprised Nathan and I with a second birthday cake. This time to celebrate Nathan's birthday (which was a few days ago) and my birthday (which is coming up in a couple of weeks). the mid afternoon, stuffed with duck and cake, we left my sister's place and went to a funky little shop in Collingwood, where I got this nice little winter landscape painting by a Swedish artist from the 1950s as a present from Nathan (I bought him a new camera last week).

The stupid dog that we love so much

We had a bit of a scare yesterday morning.

Nathan and I have a routine of taking the dog with us to the supermarket and always make the effort to let the dog have a run around at a nearby park on the way. The dog usually sticks to the grassed area and tries (unsuccessfully) to get at the rainbow lorikeets in the palm trees.

Anyhow, after the shopping yesterday, we walked past the same park again and Nathan let go of the leash to let the dog have a second run around. And boy did she run. In fact, she bolted over to, and then past, the park and went straight to the main road...and then disappeared out of sight.

Our hearts sank. Nathan ran after the dog. Luckily, a very nice person in her car stopped and managed to entice the dog to her car and get Truffs out of the traffic.

We were both angry at the dog and relieved at the same time.

The thing that spooked the dog? A tourist horse and carriage on its way to Swanston Street. We didn't hear the horses' footsteps but obviously the dog did.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday lunch the Laksa King. I had the fish head noodle soup. Yum.

Short shanked

Nathan had been in Gippsland dealing with some family matters and returned home last night for the weekend. We decided to go to our favourite Japanese restaurant just across the Yarra from where we live. The food there is great but I was a bit disappointed with the portions. Some of the dishes are half the size they used to be. The most obvious was the miso grilled lamb shank. The last time we ordered it, we got two shanks to a serve. This time there was only one. And it's not as though shanks are an expensive cut. Oh well, at least the dog enjoyed gnawing on the bone.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Saturday flowers

After completing my household chores this morning, I decided to take Truffles to the South Melbourne Markets to pick up some flowers. This week's selection is made up of Eucalyptus pleurocarpa some kind of Erica, and a few Banksia blechnifolia leaves from my balcony.

Moving backwards into the future... the title of the new exhibition of indigenous art at the NGV. The title references tradition as the springboard for the creation of new art.

Among the recent acquisitions is this interesting piece by Robert Andrew. It is made up of a computer-operated palimpsest machine that uses water to erode away the layers of ochre and chalk, which bleed down the surface of the gallery wall.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

West bound

The art courier service came to work today to pick up the painting I am lending to the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Exciting. This is the first time an institution has borrowed a piece from my collection. Hopefully I'll get to make a trip to Perth later in the year to see it at the Gallery.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Back in Melbourne...

...but not before a stop over at the Euroa Bakery for a meat pie (or two).

Monday, April 6, 2015


We've been having a relaxing time here in Canberra.

On Saturday, Nathan and I went to the National Portrait Gallery to check out the national photographic portrait prize. Afterwards, we made our way to the National Gallery of Australia to look around the indigenous galleries. In the evening, I caught up with some of my cousins who were visiting from Sydney. We went bowling. I was terrible.

The next day, I took Truffs for a long walk up Isaac's Ridge in an attempt to work off the hot cross buns I had for brekky. Nathan, who ate many more buns than I, was lazy and stayed home.

Today, Nathan and I took the dog for another walk. We parked near the National Library and walk along the Lake. Despite the wet weather, there were people everywhere and the cafe we had planned to visit was full so we continued through the sculpture garden of the National Gallery and ended up having a hot drink at their outdoor cafe. This is the view from the cafe towards the iconic pear sculpture (visible on the right). The sphere on the left is a sculpture by aboriginal artist Thancoupie.

We ended up at the War Memorial (Prince Harry had been there earlier, but we missed him) to take some photos before heading home for lunch.

We are making our way back to Melbourne tomorrow.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter break

I always look forward to Easter. And this year, I'm really relishing the break.

This past week at work has been awful. It was the first week back after my stint in hospital and just when I thought it was going to be a relatively laid back week in the lead up to Easter, I found out on Monday morning that one of my colleagues had passed away suddenly. It was unexpected and very sad and a lot of folks at work were deeply affected.

Anyhow, by week's end, Nathan and I were both ready to put the working week well behind us (Nathan had some dramas of his own to deal with mid week).

So...on Good Friday, we made our way up to Canberra to spend a few days with my family.

Nathan had just bought a car so we decided to do a road trip and bring the dog along. We stopped at Albury for lunch with some friends to break up the trip. Nathan (who was fresh from getting his P plates) was keen to drive the whole way. Bonus.

I just sat in the front, listened to the music, and zoned out for most of the journey. It was great.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Last week I tried unsuccessfully to bid on a couple of aboriginal paintings at auction that went well above the estimate.

While in hospital on Tuesday, I finally succeeded in getting one by the same artist at a different auction. Her name is Emily Kngwarreye. In the final 8 years of her life, Kngwarreye produce a flourish of art that propelled her into the status as one of Australia's greatest contemporary artists.

The work I bought was painted in the year before her death, when her artistic style shifted from dots to lines, which represent the roots of an important food source – the pencil yam.

Here is an image of my painting.

And here is the monumental Big Yam Dreaming, which measures almost 3 x 8 meters, owned by the National Gallery of Victoria.


Wow, what a week.

On Monday afternoon, I went to the GP to get my prescriptions renewed. She took my blood pressure, listened to my heart, and asked me whether I had private health insurance.  I said 'yes' and she called an ambulance to get me to hospital. Apparently I was experiencing atrial fibrillation and my heart rate was 170 beats per minute. I was feeling fine so it took me completely by surprise.

Nathan met me at Emergency. I received a shot of blood thinners, and some meds to stabilise the heart rate and was then wheeled into a room where I spent the following two days getting a bunch of tests done.

I'm now on some new meds and have to go back to see the cardiologist in a few weeks. On the plus side, things I had associated with getting older (e.g. feeling dizzy when I stood up) was probably due to my condition so at least I can now receive treatment for it.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday outing

It was a very busy Saturday.

Nathan and I started with brunch at nearby South Wharf. 

I then decided to go into work to clean out my gigantic office aquarium. I inherited the aquarium when I first started at the university and my busy schedule laziness meant that the fish tank was starting to look like a cesspit (it was starting to smell like one too).  I figure it would be a good idea to do the aquarium clean out on the weekend so I could surreptitiously spread the gravel out across the garden beds adjacent to my office building (and to give my office a couple of days for the stink to dissipate). Nathan offered to give me a hand. Sucker. Actually, I'm actually glad he helped me out because we managed to clean out the aquarium in next to no time (though we both ended up being splashed with smelly detritus). The dog came along too, for fun.

After cleaning out the fish tank, we took the dog back to the apartment and then headed straight out to Mt Evelyn for a late lunch and a walk around my favourite native plant nursery, which was having a sale.  I couldn't resist these beautiful Cyathea cunninghamii tree ferns. Of course, the tree ferns were not on sale but I ended up taking one home anyway (along with some other plants for the balcony garden).
We were back in the apartment for no more than 30 minutes before heading out again, this time to Williamstown. We took the dog again. We bought some battered fish and scallops and ate them in the car (by then it was starting to get a bit cold and windy). The dog watched on (she had chicken). 

Am now back in the apartment...completely exhausted. I think I'm going to take it easy tomorrow.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

cannibal country

Andrew, in his post today, alerted me to an exhibition at RMIT that is showing an animated short film telling the story of the underground cannibals of Lake Disappointment. The animators created the short film from paintings by one of my favourite aboriginal artists, Billy Atkins, including a painting in my collection. The trees from the painting I own our actually visible in the photographic stills that Andrew took of the animation at RMIT.

Sunday flowers

This week I picked up some snapdragons from the Queen Vic markets. Snapdragons bring me back to my childhood. I first saw them at a school friend's backyard. His mum was an avid gardner and had all kinds of weird and wonderful flowers. I remember my friend showing me how you could make the flowers open and close just like the mouth of a dragon when you gently squeezed them from the sides. For me, as a kid, the sight of a snapping flower was out of this world.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Phillip Island

I spent a couple of days in a resort at San Remo this week attending a leadership induction. The actual event started on Monday and ran until Tuesday but the University offered to pay for an extra night's accommodation on Sunday because of the early Monday morning start.

So...Nathan and the dog decided to come along for an outing on the Sunday. We got to San Remo by noon, just in time for fish and chips by the water.

Afterwards, we went over to Phillip Island to try to take the dog for a walk on the beach. It turns out that at this time of the year a lot of the beaches did not allow dogs so we decided to drive over to Inverloch instead to visit Nathan's grandma, where we gorged on cheese scones (Nathan ate six!).

Nathan and the dog dropped me off back at the resort in the evening before heading back to Melbourne. I was still full from lunch and scones so decided to skip dinner.

Over the following two days, I attended the induction and got to meet lots of interesting folks from across the University. We each had to do a psychology test beforehand to work out our leadership styles and went through the results with the Facilitator during the induction. I found out that I had traits that were (1) rare in leadership roles and (2) rare in males. Great. I'm a freak and out of my depth. I also found out I'm not a workplace narcissist. Thank God for that.

The induction was actually very helpful and it turns out I'll get access to some one-on-one coaching sessions during the year as well to help me in my new role.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

why I'm feeling a bit stiff and sore this weekend...

Apart from my abseiling adventure, I also went hiking (we had to get a stretcher with a raw egg up a mountain) and white water rafting with undergrad students...

my fuukiran

I picked up my latest ebay purchase from the post office today - a fuukiran or wind orchid (Neofinetia falcata).

The wind orchid is native to East Asia and is believed to have been cultivated by the Japanese since the 1600s. The flowers are sweetly scented (a bit like jasmine). The plants were grown by the wealthy and the powerful, and samurai would help scour the mountain side in search of the plants.

There is an etiquette to admiring fuukiran. Traditionally, f you're a commoner, you can forget about it. The plants were strictly for the rich and noble (sorry Nathan). For everyone else, you'd need a piece of calligraphy paper to cover your mouth so you don't breathe on your plant when you're looking at it up close.

Friday, February 20, 2015

conquering fears

Today I had the opportunity to make amends for all the times I had let fear hold me back. Today I went abseiling.

When I was younger, the idea of stepping backwards over a cliff was absolutely terrifying to me. I skipped out on every chance I was given to abseil when I was at School, beginning from year 8 camp.  Now, as an adult, the idea of abseiling didn't seem anywhere near as bad. I'm not exactly sure why.

I was reflecting on this as I lowered myself over the precipice, how fearless I actually was feeling. Maybe it was me letting go. Catharsis. I didn't give a shit anymore. I'm no longer scared. I'm no longer afraid of being who I am.

Halfway down the cliff, I look up at the instructor. "You must be really enjoying it", he said, "You've got a big smile on your face."

Saturday, February 14, 2015


It was too hot for a soupy lunch at my favourite Vietnamese restaurant yesterday, so I ordered this instead (pork chop with broken rice)...

Perth bound

One of the aboriginal paintings I own is going back to Western be part of an art exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. I'm very excited. The curator came over to Melbourne to check out the piece (and several other pieces owned by other collectors) and decided they would like to borrow it. I told them they can have it for as long as they like because I have no wall space to hang it (it's currently sitting on the floor in my office). Unfortunately the exhibition opening will take place when I am overseas but the exhibition will go for 4 months so it might give me a good excuse to go to WA for a holiday to see the painting in the gallery.

out of office friday

I've been working a lot out of the office lately. It's grant-writing season, the time of year when researchers are busy putting together proposals for funding from Australia's major national competitive research scheme, The Australian Research Council. It can be a stressful time of year.

My solution? Get out of the office. Yesterday (as I have been doing almost every week since the start of the year), I spent a day writing in a cafe. This has become one of my favourite spots...Rowena Parade Corner Store in Richmond. I love the courtyard at the back – and their milkshakes (brain food....not). The owner has threatened to charge me for electricity usage. I told him I'm leaving his staff a good tip.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday flowers

South African proteas from the South Melbourne markets. These flowers are huge...

cushion crush

Ok, I have to admit I am slightly totally obsessed with cushions. And these new sea anemone inspired designs from Marimekko are too beautiful to resist. On our way home from brunch today, Nathan and I made a quick stop over at South Yarra, and I ended up buying myself some of these beauties for the couch. So pretty.

pho in Carnegie

Nathan and I made our way to Carnegie to meet up with my European collaborator and his girlfriend for brunch (they are staying nearby for the next month or so). I had no idea that there were so many fantastic restaurants surrounding the station. We didn't have a specific cafe or cuisine in mind but couldn't resist stopping into a vietnamese restaurant for pho. It was pretty darn good too. The stock was full of flavour. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saturday lunch

...a Thai green curry chicken paired with the juice from a coconut I managed to open up all by myself (with the aid of my seriously kick arse meat cleaver)!


I went up to Sydney on Wednesday to meet up with a colleague who is here from Europe for two months. We spent a couple of days hanging out (and doing some work in cafes) before taking the train back to Melbourne on Friday. I had never done the trip between Sydney and Melbourne by train so I thought it'd be nice to give it a go. For the most part, it was quite a pleasant (albeit long) 11 hour journey. I even enjoyed the meal I ordered (a spinach and ricotta cannelloni).

I remember a train trip when I was a kid between Sydney and Canberra. Back then, smoking was still allowed in designated carriages and I recall ending up in a smoking carriage (I think all the non smoking carriages were full) and, at some point during the trip, I had to use the curtain next to my window seat as a mask to try to filter out the smoke.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Happy Australia Day

My grandma used to make my lunches when I was at primary school: soy braised chicken with rice. All the other kids wanted to have what I was eating. But I craved meat pies.

Lunch orders were a rare treat and involved writing your order on a brown paper bag and putting the money inside the bag and dropping it off at the tuckshop at recess. The order would then be delivered to the classroom just before lunch....a meat pie (or was it two?...I was a fat kid) with the sauce squirted inside, and a chocolate milk. Simple pleasures.

Being able to devour the pie without getting the hot filling and sauce all over your hands is a good test of what it means to be Australian.

Happy Australia Day!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

the case of the exploding pork

I just had a roast pork disaster. The pyrex roasting tray managed to explode after I took it out of the oven. Bits of pyrex and pork dripping went flying everywhere. And the biggest disaster of all? I burnt most of the crackling!

Sunday flowers

I am rather proud of my latest floral arrangement for the dining table (smoke bush, blackberries and some sort of Proteacea). I was going for a contemporary, asymmetrical look. The berries were from Nathan's dad's home.

Saturday in the country

We went to Gippsland yesterday to attend a birthday party. One of Nathan's nieces turned 18.

We stopped in at Yarragon first for lunch and to visit Nathan's dad (but it turned out that dad had already gone to Nathan's sister's place). After lunch, we too made our way to the sister's home in Trafalgar where the party was being held.

We were unfashionably early. Five hours early to be exact. As a result, we had to sit through some rather arduous conversations with one of Nathan's brothers, who was already a little drunk.  I think he was telling us funny I laughed along.

Birthday niece –the far more sensible one of Nathan's two nieces– was not amused that her older cousin had also arrived drunk. Drunk niece was a child when she had children of her own.  Now 21, she brought her two young kids along. Not sure what the future has in store for them but, in the meantime at least, they seem well cared for and are very cute.

After sitting around for about two hours, we decided to use Nathan's dad as an excuse to leave so we offered to take him home back to Yarragon. Fortunately, he accepted.

After dropping dad off home, Nathan and I went to Warragul to visit his mum and younger brother. Mum was asleep (she works as a nurse and had an evening shift) so we had dinner with the younger brother in the living room (he had already gone to a family birthday dinner the night before for the niece so didn't feel like coming to the party).

At some point, we decided we should head back to the party in Trafalgar. Well, actually, Nathan wasn't too keen but I insisted – for sensible niece's sake. So..we made our way back to his sister's place and stayed for another hour. We were back in Melbourne by 10pm.

The party was suppose to be a dress up. Nathan bought along some props but we left them in the car. We took a photo of ourselves when we got back home and sent them to sensible niece afterwards. I quite like my oversized glasses.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

the late Christmas card

I received a card from the US yesterday. It was from my friend's wife. Sadly, she shared the news that she and my friend have filed for divorce. They had been living at opposite ends of the country (my friend in California and she in Massachusetts). She couldn't do the long distance thing anymore, gave him plenty of opportunity to do something about it – and he didn't. She is wonderful. He is too passive. It's my friend's loss really. I seems weird to say but even though I feel sad and sorry for him, I am happy for her.

Monday, January 5, 2015

new year, new role

It will be my first day back at work for the new year and I have butterflies in my stomach. I will be starting my Deputy Head role and my first task will be to fill in for the Head for the month of January while he is on leave. I guess that makes me the boss. Talk about jumping in at the deep end. Already, towards the end of last year, I've had to make some unpopular decisions and tell some colleagues that their teaching will be increasing this year. Hmmm...I hope I don't regret taking this job.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

eyes on the news

I spend a lot of time during the break reading and watching the news. On New Years Eve, I had the TV on ABC News 24, and noticed the very handsome reporter covering news about the gathering crowds around Sydney for the fireworks. A quick google search reveals lots of images of the photogenic, sartorially savvy journalist (who is also very active on social media). Here, he is talking about the Sea Shepherd. Well done ABC.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

sucky saturday

So, after a pleasant few days wallowing in excessive feast and general merriment, things got kinda sucky yesterday.

First,  I took a bit of a tumble in a car park and managed to hurt my knee and scrape myself up a bit so am at home with my leg elevated on the couch.

Second (and this is cause for greater concern), grandma wasn't feeling too well in the afternoon so my parents and youngest sis had to take her to hospital. It looks like grandma will have to stay there for the next few days.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas at home

It's nice to be in Melbourne for Christmas this year. My folks are visiting from Canberra and we are heading over to their serviced apartment for Christmas lunch (we are going to sneak the dog in as well). Judging by all the planning and shopping my parents have done since arriving in Melbourne, it will be quite a contrast from the boiled carrots and rice I had for Christmas last year in Nicaragua.

Merry Xmas everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2014

midnight intruders

The dog was restless last night, jumping in and out of bed and whinging. Nathan thought it was because Truffles was responding to drunks out on the street. I wasn't convinced.

Eventually, I noticed an animal noise that didn't sound like a seagull so I went out onto the balcony to explore.

In a nearby gum tree, fruitbats had gathered to feed on the blossoms and were making quite a commotion. I ended up switching on the radio to drown out the bat noises to calm the dog down – so that Nathan and I could sleep. I have no idea for how long the Eucalypts will be flowering but I hope the fruitbats move on after the flowers have faded and don't settle permanently in the trees.

Friday, December 5, 2014

the island

I'm currently on the Great Barrier Reef for an undergraduate marine biology field course. It's been another year of extensive jet setting for work. This, however, will be the last bit of travelling for the year and the last time I'll be on the field course (I will have to give this up when I become Deputy Head of Department next year). In the meantime, I'm just going to lap up the tropical surrounds.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


When I was in Canberra a couple of weeks ago, I bought my grandma a bunch of peonies. During the course of the weekend, the petals started to unfurl into the biggest flowers I have ever seen. And they smelt wonderful too.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


I was in Hobart for three days. Just got back last night. I took my research group for a 'retreat' (13 of us in total).  Everyone had a great time. MONA was a definite highlight.

Many of the artworks were rather confronting, like this wall of vaginas.
My favourite artwork was Zizi, the affectionate couch. It makes noises and vibrates when you sit on it. I want one.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

yum cha

...I also rediscovered this photo of Nathan from last Saturday's yum cha. It was an all-you-can-eat buffet with a two hour time limit. Boy did we eat. We were done after 30 minutes.


I was looking through my iphone yesterday and discovered some photos Nathan had taken last Sunday when we took Truffs off to Port Melbourne for brunch (well, actually, we had the brunch...she had fun playing with the other dogs in the off leash area after we finished).


We went to a quaint little cafe in Yarralumla yesterday for scones. There was a nursery next door and they had these cockatoos for sale. I miss the cockatoos foraging on the side of the roads here in Canberra. I see mostly silver gulls and pigeons in Melbourne (though I seem to be attracting the occasional native bird with the plants I have flowering on the balcony).

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I'm up in Canberra this weekend visiting family. It's been a crazy few weeks at work (hence lack of blogging activity). We've had a staff retreat, several work functions, interviewing of candidates for a new position, and am now in the midst of exam marking. I had to take a break. Dad is currently in the process of making fresh fish and chive dumplings for lunch. Yummy.