Monday, September 27, 2010

Like minded

On Sunday we went to our local market, the first one they've held since I moved here 3 years ago.

We were hoping it would be a bit more than a fete type setup, so that it would encourage the tourists who come to the Valley to spend more cash locally, and keep the market going, as currently the closest good markets a 2 hour round trip away.

Anyway we arrived at 8am, and were pleasantly surprised to see the car park filling up and stalls galore, excellent!

Our 2nd stall stop was a tiny one with organic seedlings, because the market was just starting up there weren't huge numbers rolling through yet so had a chance to chat with the stall holders. Gloria and her husband Bob.

They live about 10 mins from us on a couple of acres and have converted an acre or so of lawn/garden into an organic vegie patch.  Mainly due to Bob being ill and needing a hobby.

We got chatting, they're trying the first market with seedlings to test the market, then next month bringing the produce along. And they also have a stall at their property, which we'll be heading to this weekend!

I've been thinking more and more over the past couple of years of how much our lifestyle and especially food contributes to our health.

How do we know what the stupormarkets are getting farms to spray onto their produce to ensure it has a longer shelf-life or is more attractive to buyers, or has a uniform appearance, or is available out of season?

Over the past 10 years or so there has been alot of coverage about the effects of asbestos, and people now can't believe that houses were allowed to be built with such a toxic substance.

I wonder if in 20 years our children will be reading the same sort of headlines, but instead of asbestos, it being about chemical 1234 (etc) being highly toxic and having been a common spray for produce 'back in the 2000's'.

Longterm Mr Mel's and my plan is to have our own farm and be as self sufficient as we can be, growing as much produce as we can, and raising and slaughtering our own meat etc.

But in the meantime, we have put alot of effort into our veggie garden, this season we're growing : tomatoes (2), capcisum, chilli, lettuce (5), spring onions (10), snow peas (15), mushrooms, strawberries (5), mint, coriander, sage, oregano, parsley, bay.  It's only small, but it's a start, we haven't had to buy spring onions or parsley for at least a year, and get through summer with our own supply of tomatoes, capsicum, lettuce & snow peas, usually with some left over for neighbours etc.

Gloria & Bob asked for our details after our chat about organics/health etc, and I'm looking forward to maintaining and growing a friendship of sorts.  They've asked if we'd be interested in bringing our surplus veggies out to their stand, for them to sell (and give us veggies in return), and Mr Mel are very excited to get involved in some bartering and exchanging produce.

We're quite excited about having bumped into some like minded people who live close by, even though they're 25+ years older than us, we all had an instant connection, which is rare these days I feel. Especially when we're relatively new to the area (me 3 years from Melbourne, Mr Mel 1 year from Sydney).

I'm excited  :)

Till next time,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Our New Arrival

No not the 2 legged, crying type (yet!), a 4 legged, gorgeous colt, which our mare foaled this morning at 2.30am.

Weirdly last year she foaled a filly at 2.30am also, but 3 days earlier.

The filly weighed 55kgs, this colt is a big boy weighing in at around 75kgs!

All is well with mum & bub, will take some better photos soon, this one is from Mr Mel's phone, we're both extremely happy, and as you can see mum is very proud :)
Till next time,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Can We Do It - Update 5

Another month down and it's mid September, unbelievable, this year is flying.  This is update 5 on my 'Can We Do It Goals', some movement forward, and a fair bit of treading water unfortunately, but it is what it is!

We bought our home in July 2009, We're aiming to have our mortgage paid off in 7 years from starting out, which would make it July 2016.

We're on month 14 of our mortgage, and we're going quite well, we've got approx 54% equity

According to my obsessive excel calculations, if we continue on the same path we'll have the mortgage paid off by mid 2016, even allowing for a couple of years at minimum payments (fingers crossed that becomes reality soon!! read below)

Other debt
Our total non mortgage debt includes a car loan (as part of mortgage package, at same interest rate), and a VISA we've since closed.

We're sitting at approx 25% non mortgage debt gone, which is good, we've got the bulk of our money against the mortgage, not sitting in the car, so we're happy with that situ.
Our aim is to have all of this debt paid off by mid 2015, so we're on track there too.

As per other updates, my weight covers a few areas, getting healthy & fit, getting my body in the right place to conceive (and fit in a near 'normal' wedding dress!!). I am easily distracted from weightloss, so hoping this blog can keep me on the straight & narrow!! We've been talking wedding options over the past few months (even though Mr Mel hasn't proposed yet!!!! don't get me started!), so have to keep on keeping on!!

A new goal is Xmas, Mr Mel & I are venturing to my old hometown for the first time since I 
moved to Melbourne (1992) and I want to move some pudge before heading home.  So the timeframe is set!!

My goal is:

Lose 15kg by 20th December, that gives me 18 weeks, that SHOULD be do-able, the only thing stopping me, is me!!  C'mon me!

Since this new goal was set on 16 Aug, I've lost the miserly amount of 1.4kg, which is pathetic, but the good part is I was pathetic, little to no extra exercise, and too much naughty food, so at least I still lost while being very naughty.

So on that goal of 15kg, I'm 9% there, it's better than 0%, so that's a start!

The good news is we fixed the treadmill, so this week I've been on the treadmill every morning, after walking the pug.  Results should follow!

Mr Mel's work (majority of our business) continues to grow, he gets frustrated that he's not 'bringing home all the bacon he should' but we'll get there, as long as he's happy in what he's doing that's the main thing, the rest will follow

Our bloodstock side of the business (my part) had it's first profit a few weeks back, so it was nice to make a deposit from the horses, instead of constant outgoings.

I think that's about it for the month.....

Till next time,

Monday, September 13, 2010

Boys v Girls oh the differences!

Mr Mel & I are definite soulmates, and know each other inside out, but it still amazes me the fundamental differences between males & females, as an eg:

Saturday morning I'm booked in for a haircut and eyelash tint at 8am, as I'm walking out the door Mr Mel asks if 8.30am is ok to meet me up the street for breakfast, I laugh and say 'yeah right' thinking he's joking, only to look at him and see a face of 'why not' looking back at me.

 gave him a hug and a kiss and say 'you boys are so cute', I'll call you when I'm almost done.

So I head off for my haircut (a local salon that's as good as any I've been to in Sydney or Melbourne), after an hour and a half of coffees, head massaging, hair washing, conditioning, treating, eyelash tinting, cut, blowdry, I'm feeling totally rejuvenated.

As I'm walking to my car, I'm fumbling in my bag for my mobile to let Mr Mel know I'll scoot home and pick him up (we live 2 mins from centre of town), and I hear a familiar whistle, there's Mr Mel walking behind me.

He said he'd left home at 9.30, thinking an hour and a half was more than enough, then had walked by the salon 3 times, once he saw my hairdresser and me laughing, then the next passby I was sipping a coffee, and the next walkby reading a magazine.

He thinks a hair cut should involve:

8am - arrive

8.01am - sit in chair
8.10am - stand up from chair, quick thanks mate to barber
8.11 am - pay and leave

I detailed my appointment for him:

8am - arrive, chat with receptionist for a few mins

8.03am - sit at chair, consult with hairdresser, order coffee
8.10am - head massage, hair wash, conditioner, treatment
8.30am - back in chair with halo thing on giving the treatment a zap, read a mag, enjoy latte
9am - eyelash tint with hair still wrapped, lovely relaxing music
9.20am - chat with beautician about other spa treatments available, have a look downstairs at new setup
9.30am - back in chair, blow dry, hair cut, tonged waves for something different, chat with hairdresser, plus a few of the other girls
10.15am - pay and leave feeling sooooo relaxed

Mr Mel was dumbfounded, and walked with me for breakfast shaking his head and saying 'chicks'................

I'm sure I'm not the only chick whose had a similar situ.......:)

Till next time,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Frustration & Joy

Mr Mel & I headed to Sydney on Saturday arvo for a family do on Sunday, in between my weekend chorses & packing etc, I loaded around 200 songs onto my IPod.

Our new Hyundai has an IPod connection, so I thought sweet, one way to override the sports radio drive is to show Mr Mel how cool the IPod connection is.

I loaded some great tracks, heaps of 80's (much to Mr Mel's chagrin), some Paul Kelly, PowderFinger, Machine Gun, Johnny Cash, U2, current hits etc, a pretty good mix.

So we head off, Mr Mel driving, and I plug the IPod in, it reads that there's a USB connection but says 'no media', I try another 3-4 times, then think maybe I'm meant to press a button, so pull out the car manual, and there in shocking black & white is written that certain IPods won't work with the connection, including my 5 year old IPod Nano.

Sooooo frustrating, I know we didn't buy the car for the IPodedness (new word), but it sure was something I was looking forward to.

So I have a bit of a sook and Mr Mel tunes into the sports, interchanging with some rock, not totally awful.

We stop at the big servo on the F3 to get a drink, and there sitting on the counter is a 5 CD of the 80's Boxset....The angels start strumming and the clouds part, Hallelujah, I start giggling as I hand over the $29.95.

I get an odd look from Mr Mel as I skip back to the car grinning, and he then starts cringing when I show him the case ala Delvene Delaney on Sale Of The Century.

CD 1 Song 1 - AHA - Take On Me....................and all is right in the world again......................

For a list of all the glorious hits:

Till next time,

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sanctuary Restaurant @ Pokolbin

It was Mr Mel's birthday yesterday, and we headed to Sanctuary Restaurant at the Peppers Guest House, Pokolbin (formerly Chez Pok).
The Head Chef is Michael Bolam, formerly of the very highly regarded Shakey Tables Restaurant also in Pokolbin, he also worked as Chef de Partie at The Ledbury in London.

We were lucky enough to have a 2 for 1 voucher, which was part of a promotion from the restaurant for the month of August.

We were a bit concerned that dining at 7pm on a Tuesday night might be a bit quite and we could be the only table there. Luckily we weren't, there were 2 other tables of 2, and another of 4.

We went to the restaurant for my birthday last November, in it's former guise of Chez Pok, and since then they have undertaken a fair bit of work, refurbishments, new paint and furniture.

For dinner the options were a 2 course ($55 pp) or 3 course ($75 pp) dinner, or a 7 course degustation dinner ($95 pp or $130 pp with matching wines).

We opted for the 3 courses, our choices were:

House baked bread with Pukara Estate Olive Oil, Balsamic Reduction, Dukkah, the bread was very moreish

Mr Mel:

Entree - Steamed Scallop & Yabby Lasagne with Shellfish Cappucino, Curried Cauliflower - Mr Mel is a seafood fiend, he adored it, I love yabbies, so I was happy with my taste too, I though the shellfish cappucino would be a bit strong, but it was very understated, lovely

Main - Charred Lamb Loin, Roast Cutlet, Smoked Potato Puree, Minted Pea, Baby Carrots - Not a huge serving, but very tasty, the lamb was a little bit over the medium rare Mr Mel ordered, but not terribly so, you could taste the smoked potatoe puree before you ate it, it filled your mouth with a very rounded smokey taste, and the minted pea was scrummy

Dessert - Ginger & Orange Rice Pudding, Burnt Butter Icecream and Citrus Madeleine - Very nice, a piece of the citrus madeleine on top of spoonfull of the rice pudding & icecream was the perfect mouthful, crunch with soft and creamy


Entree - Roast Breast of Duck, Broccoli & Brussels, Truffle Cream, Muscatels - Melt in your mouth duck, and a good sized portion, the truffle cream & muscatels were lovely

Main - Binnorie Labna filled Courgette Flowers with a 'Risotto' of Butternut Pumpkin - Mr Mel & I shared a plate of Kipfler potatoes, with rosemary and a toffee crunch, which we both found a bit sweet with the lovely potatoes I love labna, and the courgette flowers were very nice, while not a huge serving, 3 smallish flowers, they were very tasty, I wondered when we ordered if the 'Risotto' was a 'real' risotto, it wasn't a rice dish, it was small cubes, maybe 2 mm by 4 mm in size, of butternut pumpkin, a new texture for me, but with me being a pumpkin freak I adored it

Dessert - Spiced Carrot Cake with Pumpkin Icecream and Housemade Shortbread - I had this dessert for my birthday under the Chez Pok banner, the pumpkin icrecream wasn't as pumpkinny as it was in November, but was still a winner, the carrot cake is lovely

Wine - Margan Verdelho - very nice, one of our favourites, from Margan Wines at Broke

With it being Mr Mel's birthday I took along some candles asked the waitress if they would mind putting them on Mr Mel's dessert. Well of course he orders rice pudding, hard to stick candles in that, so the kitchen sent out a large slice of the carrot cake with sparklers and candles, free of charge.  A lovely touch.

Before our entrees were served the chef sent out 2 lots of tastings:

  • Cured Trout with Creme Fraishe
  • Oysters Beignet with Wasabi

When we asked for the bill we were given another unexpected gem, a cute treasure chest that contained:

  • Marco Polo Macaroons with Marco Polo cream - delish, apparently Marco Polo is a tea, will be trying to track some down!
  • White Chocolate & Olive Oil Truffles in Bitter Chocolate
  • Strawberry Jellies rolled in a citric acid that made your mouth literally water

Have to give special mention to our waitress (is that the PC term?), she was an absolute delight, very approachable, knowedgeable, and attentive, she made a great night all the better.

All in all a terrific night, we left very happy, and very full, after a 3 hour graze. We weren't shocked to read that they won Best Restaurant in a Hotel in the Hunter Valley Region.

9/10 for Restaurant Sanctuary :-)

View the Restaurant Sanctuary Dinner Menu

Or the Restaurant Sanctuary Degustation Menu

Till next time (and Happy Birthday Mr Mel xxx),

Mr Mel & I were paying diners, this post has not been endorsed or sponsored by Peppers or Sanctuary


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