Saturday, May 30, 2015

Boston bound...

Well, not quite.

Got onto the plane, waited 40 minutes, and then had to get off again.

It seems that an A380 is just like any other electronic device...if first it doesn't work, try switching it off and on again.

Next, if that doesn't solve your problem, get everyone off the plane and call in the engineers.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Two days at Mornington

I spent the last two days at a work retreat on the Mornington Peninsula. It was rewarding but also mentally exhausting. We had a facilitator to help us through the strategic planning and to help us come up with the big ideas. There were a lot of break out sessions, writing ideas onto post-it notes, and making things with pipe cleaners.

A few of my colleagues were sick with the cold and I was trying to steer clear from them as I'm heading off on my overseas trip tomorrow – and the last thing I want at this stage is to get sick. I'm not sure if I suceeded (you can't tell someone to bugger off when they are sitting next to you at breakfast).

I woke up this morning with a tingle in my throat. Hopefully I haven't caught something at the retreat. That would not be good.

Nathan went to Adelaide today so we had to put Truffles into a pet hotel this morning. I have taken the day off work so I could clean the apartment, organise all my stuff and get my packing done.

I feel very organised this time around. I even managed to work through most of my readings for my course in Boston and to complete the assignments (I will easily be able to polish off the rest when I am waiting at LAX for my connecting flight).

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Holy Velociraptor!



This movie appeals to my inner palaeontologist.


Bits and bobs

I had some errands to run today in preparation for the trip. There were prescriptions that needed to be filled and foreign currencies that needed to be purchased.

By the time I had finished, it was already midday so Nathan and I decided to head into the city for lunch.

We settled on yum cha on Bourke Street at Shanghai Dynasty, which has the most garish decor of any restaurant I have ever seen.

I couldn't resist the beef offal stew, which contains tendons, tripe, and lungs. Nathan thought it was disgusting (says the guy who was happily munching on the braised chicken feet).


Playing tourist

I was hosting a colleague from Sydney this week. He had never been to Melbourne before so I decided to take a day off work to show him around on Thursday. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't terrific but at least there was no rain.

We began our tour of Melbourne with a tram ride to Sonido on Gertrude Street for a South American breakfast. I had the arepa con huevo accompanied by a nice cup of hot chocolate.


After brekky, we walked along Brunswick Street, before cutting across to the Carlton Gardens so that I could show him the Royal Exhibition Building and the Museum (Because we are scientists, I made sure to point out the research spaces of the Museum from street level). We then continued onto Lygon Street and then The University of Melbourne, where we hopped onto a 16 tram to St Kilda.

When we got to St Kilda, we strolled down to the breakwater to try to look for penguins and water rats. We didn't see any. We walked back up to Carlisle Street and over to Chapel, where we hopped onto another tram and made our way to Victoria Street in Richmond.

My colleague's wife is Vietnamese Canadian and both he and she had travelled widely throughout Vietnam. He had a craving for bun bo hue so we went to Co Do, which specialises in the dish. The restaurant is reputed to serve the best bun bo hue in Melbourne (at least according to a Vietnamese lesbian I once met). My colleague said it was good and comparable to what he had in Vietnam. I was pleased.

After lunch, we took the 109 tram back into the city. We caught the tram from the dodgy street corner opposite the Minh Phat grocery carpark, which seems to be a haven for drug dealers. There were plenty of sketchy people out that day so my visitor got to see the slightly seedy side of Melbourne (I should have told him not to stare though).

We got off the tram on Collins Street, walked down to Hosier Lane to check out the beautiful street art, before heading over to Fed Square. My colleague needed to get to Geelong for a meeting but we had plenty of time so we decided to walk to Southern Cross Station along the Yarra. By mid afternoon, the sightseeing tour was over. I said goodbye to my visitor at the station and headed home.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Homework

I started preparing my assignments this week for my upcoming leadership course at Harvard. Bloody hell. It's actually a lot of work. Each case study is taking me a good two hours to complete...and I have quite many I need to read and prepare for. Luckily I decided not to leave it all for the plane trip (not that I ever do any work on planes). I am starting to get both excited and intimidated about the course. I'm looking forward to going back to Boston though I don't think I will see much of the city based on the busy course schedule. It will run for a week and then I will be off to visit my old landlady in Woods Hole before flying out to Europe.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Stupid me getting ahead of myself



I thought I'd be organised for a change and book my train tickets from London to the University of Exeter for a meeting in June. The University of Exeter has multiple campuses and I assumed the meeting would be at the Cornwall campus because the people hosting the meeting are based there. Well, silly me. I was wrong. The meeting will be in Devon. Ooops. The tickets are non-refundable. Lesson learnt.

  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Dinner at the airport

My aunt was passing through Melbourne on her way to Tokyo last night. She used to work for Qantas and is still entitled to staff travel. She pays a fraction of what I'd have to pay but her standby tickets do cause some anxiety and uncertainty. Hence, she was not sure whether she'd be flying via Sydney or Melbourne until Sunday morning.

Nathan and I met her at the airport for dinner. Dinner options are rather limited and I worried we'd be getting fast food until Nathan suggested I explore the restaurant offering at the airport Park Royal Hotel. It turned out to be surprisingly good.

We had a nice two course meal and a lovely catch up with my aunt, before seeing her off on her flight to Tokyo.

As we were driving back to the city, I was thinking I might be tempted to go back to the airport for another fancy meal...if only the car park didn't cost an arm and a leg.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Teapot

I was on my way to the Penny Black yesterday afternoon for birthday drinks, and I couldn't help but pop into my favourite plant/pot/ceramics/japanese shop, Mr Kitly. I ended up with another teapot.

Latest acquisition

This one went straight to the office. Nathan finds it completely disturbing and can't even bear to look at it.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Kyneton, Daylesford and Ballarat

I had the day off yesterday so Nathan and I decided to go on a road trip.

We headed to the delightful township of Kyneton for lunch. We went to a fancy restaurant called Annie Smithers Bistrot, which I had discovered on the internet (I have no idea what a 'bistrot' is but I assume it's the same as a bistro but more fancy sounding).

The food was amazing. I particularly liked my confit duck leg, which was cooked to perfection.
Nathan enjoyed his over-the-top-decadent chocolate dessert. He ate everything except the flowers.
After lunch, we went to The Stockroom, which was a short walk away from the restaurant. It was recommended to us by the waitress and it was indeed an excellent recommendation (she must durect every gay customer there). The shop was filled with all kinds of cool stuff, from clothes to vintage toy planes. 
There was an art exhibition on in one of their side rooms by Melbourne-based artist Nicholas Ives. I particularly liked this little canvas, which reminded me of a Dr Suess landscape. Sadly, it was already sold. 

Nathan ended up buying a vintage camera, which I think he broke before even paying for it (based on the sound it made when he was trying to help the sales attendant wrap it up).

By mid afternoon, we decided we'd had enough of Kyneton and drove to Daylesford for a wander around. Since it was Daylesford, it was inevitable that we'd end up going to the Mill's Market, which can best be described as a giant trash and treasure shop. It is probably more trash than treasure but I did see a few thinks I liked (nothing that I absolutely had to buy and couldn't live without though).

Our road trip then took us to Ballarat – and dinner at the Craig's Royal Hotel. The hotel is so named because royalty had once stayed there (otherwise, I guess it would have just been called Craig's Hotel, which doesn't quite have the same ring to it).

Still full from the Kyneton lunch, we settled for a more modest two course dinner and decided to skip dessert so we can get back to Melbourne at a reasonable enough time not to piss off the dog (who was left at home on her own for the day).

Monday, May 11, 2015

The joys of air travel


It's only a few weeks before I embark on my work trip to the US and Europe. I am flying business class for most of the trip after I managed to get approval from my boss. I can't wait. I've been checking out the different airlines and what kinds of business class service they have on offer, from the quality of the flat beds to the food to the service I can expect in the airline lounges in LA, Boston, London, Helsinki and Singapore. I've selected most of my seats already after first checking out seat guru. Nathan reckons I am more excited by the flights than the actual work. He's correct.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pine mushrooms

It might seem like I'm obsessed with mushrooms at the moment – and that's probably because I am. It is Autumn after all (and the only good thing to come out of the damp weather).

I came across these beauties at the South Melbourne Markets yesterday. They are pine mushrooms and they are a beautiful bright orange (my crappy computer camera doesn't do them any justice). They are also super tasty. I cooked them up for brekky this morning.

I've seen these mushrooms before but did not fully appreciate their culinary qualities. My folks live near a pine forest in Canberra and I remember seeing old (European) ladies foraging for them many years ago when I was walking through the forest trails. Now I wish I was back in Canberra so I can go looking for them.

Saturday flowers


Well, actually, they were last Friday's flowers but these unusual grey coloured banksias are very long lasting (paired with the even longer lasting gumnuts from three weeks ago).

Dog versus bull


Nathan and I took the dog to the farm for a run around last weekend. Truffs was quite intrigued by the livestock.  

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Mushroom time

I love Autumn. I love the milder temperatures. I love the Autumn foliage. And above all, I love that it's mushroom season.

My mushrooming experiences have mostly been in Finland, where the locals, from a very young age, learn to differentiate between the tasty and the toxic. The Finns seem to descend into the forests in droves in search of mushrooms in the Autumn.

Here, in Australia, we have less of a culture of picking mushrooms and it seems all we ever hear about are the incidents of people being poisoned after consuming death caps.

On Saturday, Nathan and I went to Gippsland to visit his family. We dropped in to see his uncle in Yarragon on the way back home. He had just been on the farm and had brought home a nice harvest of field mushrooms. We took some back with us to Melbourne and managed to make a very nice pasta dish with them for dinner.

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).

So...by 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

....at 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...

...is 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

Canberra

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

yam

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.




hospital

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

lunch

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 Australia...to 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)!

Sydney

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 stories...so 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.