Thursday, April 28, 2011

Should I Be Elsewhere?

For the past few weeks, well probably months to be honest, I've been feeling a bit unsettled at work, and couldn't really put my finger on it.
I love my job for the most part (like every job there are days when you could just walk out and keep going), I enjoy the company of the people I work for and with (mostly!), and I love working with the horses (always). So there's not anything glaringly wrong, I just have quite a few days when I'm very easily distracted, and know I'm not putting in 100% which I really don't like!

But I've just had that 'should I be elsewhere' type feeling. Yes I can do my job well, but should I be doing something else?

Ideally I'd love to work for myself, or with Mr Mel, however the jump to leave this job to have a go at something when we have a mortgage, an impending wedding and a hopeful start to our family this year, make me think maybe I should stick to the safe option.

Things I've considered:

- Real Estate - I love it, but don't know if I could do it as a career, plus it would mean starting from bottom in an agency, getting to a place where I could work for myself would be a long way off

- Blog - we started a blog - - recently and are hoping to build it into something substantial, however with me working full-time, organising a wedding, trying to get fit, and Mr Mel working fulll-time, we're struggling to put enough time into it
- Farm - both Mr Mel and I want to buy and work a small farm, raising produce and stock for our use, and with a view to selling meat, cheese, vegies etc, currently we don't have the capital to do it, but we will one day!  And of course we'll have horses on the farm! :)
photo source
- Aussie Farmers Direct - a new franchise business that I've been following since it launched, Australian farming is something I'm passionate about, we try to buy Aussie everything foodwise, and support local suppliers, attend every farmers market we can.  Everything I've read about AFD has been positive, they have been highly ranked by BRW as one of the best recent franchises.  The only downside the setup costs are quite expensive.  We could probably manage at a pinch (with a loan), but it would put alot more financial stress on us.
Aussie Farmers Direct
I think I'm most likely rambling, as I said earlier I've not really been able to put a finger on what's got me thinking this way, and obviously I'm struggling to put it into words also!

Maybe it's just because I've got so much going on, but I don't think so, I think the underlying issue is that I need/want to move on? Mr Mel as usual has been so supportive, and such a rock, he's told me a few times now, "Chickadee if you're not happy we need to do what we need to do to make you happy".

I think I'll give myself until after the wedding to make sure it's not the stress of sorting everything for the wedding that is making me think this way, if I'm still on this train of thought after our honeymoon (10 days in Vanuatu), Mr Mel and I will get our heads together and work towards change!

Any advice/inspiration more than welcome :)

Till next time,

Sunday, April 24, 2011

ANZAC Day - a very special day

I went to Gallipolli in 2001 for ANZAC Day, and it was one of the best, most emotional, worthwhile days of my life so far.
ANZAC Cove @ Gallipoli
In total we spent 2 weeks in Turkey, and 3 days on the Dardenelles, which is the coast on which Gallipolli is located. We arrived at ANZAC Cove at about 2.30am on 25 April, with another 15,000 Aussies & Kiwis, it was quite surreal, everyone was laying on the grass and dirt listening to the waves crash in on the beach, hardly anyone slept.
Dawn Service
About an hour before dawn the officials started to take their places, the Turkish and ANZAC soldiers wandered around, making sure everything was in place, then as the dawn broke the ceremony started, there were speeches from the officials, presentations to soldiers and families, a very moving reading by an Aussie schoolgirl.
Lone Pine
After the ceremony was completed we walked up to Lone Pine, and the Kiwis went the Chunuk Bair (the Kiwi memorial). The ceremony at Lone Pine was even more emotional than the one at ANZAC Cove.
Chunuk Bair
There were rows of seats to the side, about 6 levels high but the majority of us sat on the grass between the headstones of the fallen solders. There were also a couple of rows of seats at the front, beside the ceremony area. A couple of these seats were spare, and one of the officials came on the loud speaker and asked if there were any diggers sitting on the grass, to make their way to the seats at the front.
Lone Pine Cemetery
What happened next is something I will never forget. A girl, probably 20 or so, helped an old digger, he would have been 85+ up from the grass and escorted him to the front seats, with that the entire crowd, about 10,000 people, stood up and clapped, it was beautiful, goosebumps stuff.
Crowd at Aussie service
The ceremony was lovely, a lot of Aussie songs sung and memories verbalised, and Alexander Downer gave a great speech (one I didnt' think he was capable of at the time!). After the ceremony, we wandered around Lone Pine as much as we could with the huge crowds, got a few photos with some of the Turkish soldiers and with Mr Puffy and some diggers.

We then sat on the side of the dirt road for probably 4hrs waiting for our bus, I'm not sure how many buses were there, but well over 200. It was over 38c and we all got fried to a crisp. That night we had a couple of drinks and everyone was talking about their impressions of the day.

The next day we headed back over to Gallipolli, and went back to ANZAC Cove, Lone Pine, Chanak Bair, the ANZAC & Turkish Museums, and the Turkish memorial site. Some people didn't want to visit the Turkish sites, and I can understand that, but I'm glad I did.
Turkish Memorial
The ANZAC museum is very sad, there are the iron army caps with holes thru them, a skull with a bullet still embedded, half written letters to loved ones, shredded and blood soaked uniforms etc.

We walked on the beach where our troops landed, and standing in the water looking back up at the cliffs that they faced, it gave a true perspective to the position the ANZACS found themselves in, lambs to slaughter is an understatement, the cliffs are so steep we struggled to get up them, I can't imagine trying to do so in a full Army kit. I pocketed some stones from the beach, which I will treasure forever.
Gallipoli beach - so special to have been there
We walked thru the ANZAC trenches, and that also made it all a bit more real, standing in the trenches, you realise how awful a place it must have been, two people can not stand side by side, there isn't enough room, if you stand straight your head is above the top of the trench and there is barbed wire everywhere, to think that hundreds of diggers shared these spaces seems unreal.
Wandering around the graves the ages on the headstones are quite shocking, the majority are under 21 with hundreds aged 18, we also saw John Simpsen's grave.
John Simpson's grave
We wandered over some of the scrubland and found bullets laying along the ground, there are memorial signs everywhere stating what happened, and you can't go 100m without coming across another area where hundreds of ANZACS were killed.

It's not all doom and gloom at Gallipoli tho, the Turkish people are very respectful of the ANZAC history, and most have a good understanding of the fighting that occurred at Gallipolli, from both a Turkish and ANZAC viewpoint.
Ataturk quote - took a while to read, through tears
In the village where you arrive on the ferry they have the Vegemite Bar, the ANZAC bar, and a couple of others, with paintings of kangaroos, kiwis, maps of Australia & NZ everywhere. And you're not an Aussie or Kiwi there, you're an ANZAC, the local people all address you as 'Hello ANZAC'.
If any of you get the chance to go to Gallipolli, make sure you do, it's something you will never forget. 

Till next time,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Time To Get Fishy

In our quest to get healthy in general, and specifically for our wedding, Mr Mel and I are using Dr John Tickell's book 'The Great Australian Diet' as a guide.

In the book Dr John recommends we should all take a leaf out of the Japanese culture and eat more fish. For Mr Mel that's no worries, he is a keen fisherman and loves fish, he'd eat it every night if he could. Whereas I'm a bit more of a problem child!

I do like fish, well some fish!  I grew up in a coastal town on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, crayfish weren't a delicacy, they were something our dad & uncles caught every couple of weeks, we caught yabbies in the dam, and our uncle would bring home a gummy shark every few months.  All of those I love, and as you can probably tell from the list, they're quite mild tasty sea creatures.

The fishy taste is what gets me, I know it will sound childish, but to me some fish smell like Kittie Cat!  Tins of Tuna make me gag. (see childish!).

Over the years I've expanded my repertoire so to speak, I'll now eat:

  • Shark - preferably gummy, my fave fish to eat
  • Barramundi
  • Prawns
  • Yabbies
  • Crayfish/Lobster
  • Swordfish

The problem now is Dr John recommends steering away from the predator fish ie shark, barra, as they can carry more toxins.

On Sunday while we were in Sydney for a family do we went to a fish market and bought prawns, barra, swordfish and salmon. (I'm determined to find a way to like salmon, it's so pretty!)

Last night we had our first fishy dish, a mild one to start with.

Kylie Kwong's Simple Fish Soup

  • 1 bunch Bok choy
  • 6 cups Chinese fish stock (we used 3 cups fish, 3 cups vegie to not fish me out!)
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger julienne
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 400 g firm white-fleshed Fish Fillets cut on the diagonal into 1cm slices
  • 75 g fresh oyster mushrooms stems discarded and caps halved
  • 1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • 1½ cups fresh bean sprouts
  • ¼ cup coriander sprig
  • 2 tablespoons finley sliced spring onions scallions


  1. Remove core from bok choy, cut crossways into 4, then wash thoroughly and drain.
  2. Bring stock to the boil in a large heavy-based pot.
  3. Add ginger, soy sauce and sugar and stir to combine.
  4. Reduce heat, add fish and simmer gently for 1 minute.
  5. Add mushrooms and simmer for 30 seconds.
  6. Toss in bok choy and simmer for a further minute or until fish is just cooked through.
  7. Stir in sesame oil and remove pot from stove.
  8. Serve in bowls garnished with bean sprouts, coriander and spring onions.
Am pleased to report it was delicious, we added some noodles, and next time will add some chilli flakes for a bit of kick, but as my first fish dish of our new eating plan/lifestyle, it was a winner!
Would also be nice with poached chicken, but I won't tell Mr Mel that!
Thanks Kylie! (photo source)
I'll try to remember to take photos of our next fishy recipe attempts!

Till next time,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Our foal - an update - 2

It's been a while since I've updated on our foal, the last post being back in Dec 2010.

Well our boy is now 6 months, 3 weeks old, and is growing into a lovely lad. He is a big strong lad, with plenty of bone, and quality, we just need to keep our fingers crossed that he keeps on the track he is currently on for the next 2 and a bit months, as we'll be selling him in Sydney on 22-24 June!

He was weaned off his mum in early Feb, and was turned out into a big paddock with 6 other weanlings, however he is proving to have a very very good appetite, a bit too good for this stage of his life.

With Thoroughbreds, if you're raising a foal to sell, you have to be ultra conscious of the leg development.

If a foal gets too heavy, it can cause his legs to deviate through their knees, which if you imagine a horse leg, the bone should be aligned above and below the knee, when they deviate, the bone below the knee misaligns from the bone above.

A foal being too heavy can also put unwanted pressure on his developing legs, and cause the lower leg to turn.

Both of which are not looked upon favourably by buyers.

When you're selling a foal as a weanling, alot of buyers are looking to buy a horse they can sell as a yearling the following year.  So they're looking for a young horse that is growing well, and one that looks like it will continue to grow well.  Any problems in the legs as a weanling can get get significantly worse a year later as a yearling.  Saying that though sometimes mother nature looks after it and any issues can right themsleves.

However it's a punt and when buyers are spending 10's of thousands, sometimes 100's of thousands on wealings to pinhook (resell) as yearlings, it's a punt most don't want to take.

So back to our colt, he was starting to get a bit top heavy, which would, if left unchecked, have started to put undue pressure on his growing legs.  So we have moved him and his best mate into a smaller paddock, where they don't have access to as much lush grass, and where we can ration his feed a bit better.

When he was in the paddock with the other 6 weanlings you would often see him going from one feeder to the other, cleaning up leftovers, and at times bullying the smaller fillies off the feeders so he could keep eating (little piglet!).

He is like his dam and will always be a solid lad, but happy to say at this stage he is on track, and we're keeping the extra weight off him.

Our 2010 colt - Gatto
Curious boys - Gatto at right, his best mate Jesty is left
Hasn't he grown! The day he was born
While it will be very sad to see him go come 22-24 June, I'm happy that we have given him a great start to life, and he will hopefully go to good owners who look after him and give him every chance to fulfill his destiny on the racetrack!

Plus if we don't get some $ coming into our horse business again, our accountant may string me up!

Till next time,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Great Australian Diet - Week 2

We're onto week 2 of our 91 day 'Great Australian Diet', and the good news is we're losing weight, the bad news is the soup we have to eat each cleansing day (weekly) is morphing into mouthfuls of razorblades.

First the good news:

Week 2

Mr Mel -4.2kg
Mel -3.1kg

Now the bad news, the kind of yummy soup we made for our first 2 cleansing days in week 1 (post here) has become almost unpalatable to us, yes we're being a bit woosy, but yesterday we both had it from lunch, I received a email from Mr Mel saying he couldn't face it for dinner, I was in the middle of my lunch and was thinking the same.

So for dinner, we froze the soup, and had fruit platter and shared a banana smoothie, not the letter of the GAD law, but pretty close.

It's working!
We're going to keep up with the weekly cleansing day, but just can't stomach the soup, we'll use the frozen leftovers for non cleansing meals, when we can add some meat/flavour to it!

All in all a good week, Mr Mel is walking for about an hour a day (including 1/2 hour on the treadmill while playing golf on the Wii!), I'm at Curves 6 mornings a week, loving it, and loving the company of the Curvey ladies :)

Till next time,

Monday, April 11, 2011

Our New Venture!

Mr Mel and I have been in the Hunter Valley for a couple of years now (Mr Mel permanently from Feb 2010, myself from July 2007), and we absolutely love the Valley.  Having 120+ vineyards, world class restaurants, producers, on our doorstep, leaves us very spoilt for choice.

Last year we were trying to find things to do with our extended family that were kid friendly, and found that the info, what was there, was hard to find.  So we decided we'd start a blog for the Hunter, on things to do, see, things we'd done, with honest, non airbrushed content.

We registered domain names, sent in a business name to the government, to include under Mr Mel's business ABN, and continued to mull over the concept for a few months.

This past month or so we have setup the website, as a blog to start with, and have some intial content online.  We're in the middle of writing up more content from our travels around the Valley, and will be posting them online shortly.

We're still tweaking the format, so bear with us!

Hunter Valley Grapevine - come and say Hi!

Our new venture - Hunter Valley Grapevine
We're hoping down the track our site will be a valuable resource for people wanting to come to the Valley, we'll have reviews online, good, bad & ugly of alot of places, and will happily go check out locations for non Hunter people to give them the real deal, rather than the photoshopped content on alot of websites.

I will probably take a few older stories from this blog and rewrite them on the grapevine also.

We're always open to any suggestions/comments/feedback, so feel free!

Till next time,

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday On My Mind - 8

Another Friday, another week gone, 8th April, how has that come round so quickly?   And Friday means another photo for the lovely Rhonda from the Down To Earth blog Friday Photo Feature - 'On My Mind....'

So what is on my mind this  Friday?.............................

The evidence of a lovely afternoon in the Hunter
No we don't have a drinking problem, the above bottles were from 12 people :)

A couple of weeks ago Mr Mel & I went to a Members Lunch at a vineyard we're members of, Ernest Hill Wines, what a lovely day of decadence and great company, we blogged about it on our new blog - Hunter Valley Grapevine.

Till next time,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Flukey Foal Foto

Happened to fluke quite a cool photo of one of the foals on the farm, he'd been trying for about 15 seconds to reach the itch and gave it a good going over once he worked out how to get to it! Usually I'd try to take photos of the horses away from non natural backgrounds, but I think the colour of the shelter in the background works quite well in this shot.
Till next time,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Great Australian Diet - Week 1

Mr Mel and I have been on the 'Great Australian Diet' for a week now, and happy to report we both have lost weight:

Week 1

Mr Mel -2.2kg
Me -1.8kg

The fist week happened to coincide with me having to travel to Victoria for my cousins engagement party, and Mr Mel heading for a boys day at the Golden Slipper in Sydney, both had a high probability of being blowouts diet wise.

However happy to say we were pretty good, Mr Mel more so than I (oops).  I only get together with my parents, sister & Aunt a few times a year, and my cousins a few times every 5 years or so, so it was always going to be celebratory, which in our family means eating & drinking!

Have to admit I did enjoy the nibbles of cheese & biccies very much, and the slice of pre-party pizza, ok slice & a half!  But I did restrain myself, moreso than usual!

Mr Mel also had a not too bad weekend, Chinese for dinner was his only blowout, along with a couple of beers at the races.

So all in all, what could've been a weekend to set our diets back to where we'd started, turned out to be not too bad dietwise, and great weekends overall.

Lifestyle's a better description but diet will do!
Today we're back into it, fruit for breakfast, fruit & salad sandwich for lunch, tonight we're cooking an Asian Noodle Soup. We poached 4 chicken breasts last week to use on sandwiches, and have 2 left, so they're going in the soup.


  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ Chinese cabbage finely sliced
  • 1 small Red chilli finely sliced optional
  • 2 tablespoons Coriander chopped
  • 1 bunch Bok choy shredded
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-salt Soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Fish sauce
  • 125 g Hokkien egg noodles cooked
  • 1 cup skinless Chicken cooked and shredded
  • 1 cup Bean Sprouts
  • 1 spring onion sliced
- Combine stock and cabbage in a large pot and bring to the boil.
- Simmer over gentle heat for 5 minutes or until tender.
- Add chilli, coriander, bok choy, ginger and sauces.
- Divide hot noodles and chicken between 4 deep serving bowls.
- Ladle soup mixture over noodles, add bean sprouts and garnish with spring onion.

Hopefully I'll remember to take a pic of the end result before we devour it!

So after a week we've lost a couple of kgs, but the main thing is the mindset, we're both enjoying exercising more (me @ Curves, Mr Mel walking twice daily), and we've got our heads in that all important 'we can do it' space that can be a struggle to get to and maintain.

Our looming deadline is of course helping with our motivation, but the overall feeling of not being so lethargic and heavy feeling, even after a week of moving more and eating better & less, is great motivation.

Till next time,

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools Day - Nice One Ikea!

Today is April Fools, and it's been a while since I've been caught by a joke, so hats off to Ikea.

Reading the paper today I saw this ad:

I thought who the hell would buy that?  Gees if we put our pug in that he'd be jumping out onto the table in a heartbeat.  Then turned the page and thought nothing more of it. 

Just heard on radio a commentator bagging the hell out of a caller who'd been sucked in by it.  Ooooops!

Till next time,

Friday On My Mind - 7

Another Friday rolls round yay, and another photo, well a couple, for the lovely Rhonda from the Down To Earth blog Friday Photo Feature - 'On My Mind....'

So what is on my mind this  Friday?.............................

Yes I know they're most likely photoshopped, but gee whiz I LOVE these photos, would almost kill to have dining/kitchen & sitting room views like these!

View from home in Vaucluse, Sydney
Most likely photo-shopped but still lovely
Gorgeous verandah view - and love the plants in pots - we're thinking of having them in our modest garden
The house the photos are from, Kianga at Vaucluse sold for $12.6 Million in November 2010! (photos source)

Till next time,


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