Sunday, July 26, 2015

My slipper orchid is flowering again

This is the one that looks like a green toilet bowl and smells like raspberry candy (and no, this is not my photo)...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday flowers

These were actually last Saturday's flowers (some kind of Eucalypt) but they are still looking very fresh. These weren't the only flowers I bought last week...
My sister had her second baby last Friday (Lauren is the baby's name and she is adorable...of course). Nathan and I went to visit our new niece at St Vincent's Private and I went a bit OTT at the florist.

Apart from the Eucalypts for home, we also got my sis a huge floral bouquet from Flower's Vasette.

The guy that served us really took his floral artistry very very seriously. He told us to go grab a coffee and to come back after a few minutes. We returned after coffee and breakfast and he was still busy arranging the cymbidium orchid and hellebores and God-knows-what-else he grabbed from the front of the shop. Eventually he re-emerged from the back with the most amazing arrangement placed inside a large glass vase full of water – which Nathan and I then had to carry halfway along Brunswick Street to the hospital.
By the time we got to see my sister and the baby, my arms were twitching from the weight of the flowers.

Spicy winter warmers

Ok, so winter in Melbourne isn't all that bad. Sure, it's cold and grey and wet but it's also the perfect time for spicy food and winter stews. And since I've been back, I've wasted very little time getting into the spirit of winter cooking/eating.

Last weekend, I caught up with some friends visiting from Perth. We were booked into Dainty Sichuan on South Yarra for dinner on Saturday (I really like the beautiful murals on the walls). I love Sichuan food (and judging from how busy the restaurant was, so does half of Melbourne).

The mouth numbing combination of chilli and sichuan peppercorns is absolutely addictive.  I left the ordering to my learned friends (in truth, we could have picked anything from the menu and I'm sure I would have enjoyed it).

One of the highlights was this spicy cumin pork rib dish. The pork was deliciously salty and fatty and spicy. However, the best part was the sauce. Indeed, I remarked that it would be such a pity to waste the left over sauce so my friend (bless) asked for a take away container from the waiter, spooned all the leftover oily goodness for me to take home, and challenged me to create a new dish from the leftovers.

During the week, I ended up creating three new dishes (there was heaps of sauce). The first was this chicken and bean dish for Sunday lunch, followed by a prawn and capsicum dish for mid week dinner and, finally, with the very last of the left over sauce a couple of nights ago, I made a minced pork and vermicelli dish. It was a pretty satisfying week of spicy sichuan goodness.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The scary meeting

So...I met with my boss last Monday. Although I wasn't able to sleep a wink the night before (a combination of jet lag and stress), the meeting itself wasn't a complete train wreck. In fact, it was extremely constructive. I went into the meeting well prepared – and I think that's what made the difference.  I was able to show evidence of what I have been doing the past 6 months and what I needed from him to do my job even better into the future.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Back to reality...

I arrived back to Australia yesterday morning. Unfortunately, my last days in Finland didn't go according to plan. All it took was an email from my boss telling me I haven't been doing my job, and the past 6 weeks of unprecedented work productivity and good feeling all came tumbling down. I can't say I'm not despirited but I will try not to be defeated. I will be meeting with him on Monday. Let's see how it goes.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Almost home

I am heading back to Oz on Wednesday night, which means my 6 week overseas stint is almost over. Six weeks! I an't believe it. It seems like quite a while now when I was flying out of Melbourne on my way to the USA. Yet, on another level, this trip has gone by really quickly. I have to admit, though, that I'm starting to miss Truffles (oh, and Nathan too).

Today will be my last full day at the research station. I made sure I told the head chef (in the hope she will make something really good for lunch). Long term researchers here at the Station bitch and moan about the quality of the food but I don't think it's that bad at all. Besides,  think it's nice that there is someone to prepare hot lunches (though 11.30am is, in my opinion, a bit too early for lunch – even by Finnish standards).

Tomorrow, I am taking my students to Helsinki for the day. I think they have earned a break. Because there is five of us, we'll be needing a bigger taxi to get us to the closest train station. There is only one such taxi in the adjacent town and I hope it arrives on time.  Typically, you can rely on Finns to be punctual (with the exception of my one Finnish friend who is always reliably late). Hence, it was a big surprise last week when we ended up waiting 40 minutes for the taxi to arrive. We'd be screwed if the same taxi is 40 minutes late tomorrow as we only left ourselves 24 minutes to get to the train station (and it's 15 minute drive).

Anyhow, assuming we get to Helsinki, the plan is to spend the day doing touristy things with the students and then send them back to the research station in the evening (they are all staying a few days longer). I'll then have almost another full day 'student-free'. Yay.

And with only a few days to go, I've once again started to obsess about my flights (part of the fun of air travel). As mentioned in an earlier post, I managed to convince my boss to allow me to fly business class on this trip (on medical grounds). It has been a real treat so far – and so nice not to be crammed into an impossibly small seat. I've already reserved my seats for the trip home and chosen my meal on the Singapore-Melbourne leg of the journey (a chicken rendang with kankung and jasmine rice).

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards

One of my favourite artists, Billy Atkins, was selected as a finalist in this year's Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards. The opening was last night in Perth. It was a pity I couldn't attend but I found some images of Billy in front on the work I loaned to the Art Gallery of WA for the exhibition. I can't wait to get over to Perth to see it for myself.