What a year. I’m still kinda shocked that it’s over, because it feels like it’s January and we’re still getting ready to move. But for a year that gave me heaps of challenges, shocks (Trump?!) and periods of ridiculous struggle, there were so many good things that happened, and I’m thankful for the place this year has brought me to: more assertive, more honest, and *fingers crossed* more focused on what I need. To recap, 2016 highlights – Continue reading “2016 – in review”→
Ah, Christmas. I love this time of year. I’m even accepting that it’s a summer holiday now, and somehow it’s just never going to snow and I won’t get to wear sweaters. And I’m like, almost ok with this. Continue reading “Christmas!”→
Wham’s Make It Big was one of the vinyl’s in my sister’s and my rotation. That and Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl, The Dirty Dancing Soundtrack, Mili Vanili’s Girl You Know it’s True, and Sports by Huey Lewis and The News (can you feel the early 90’s wash over you?) Continue reading “Wham!”→
Correction, I used to eat like a garbage can – and get away with it. I sure as shit haven’t cleaned up my eating habits – ever. And it’s becoming moooore and more clear that I might not have a choice to soon.
One charming aspect of climbing into my 30’s is my new reaction to food. Tomatoes? Heartburn. Onions? Heartburn. Oatmeal? Heartburn. Too much salt? Simultaneous and instant bloat, dehydration headache. Too much sugar? Irritable sloth bitch who can’t keep her eyes open. Dairy? Let’s not get into it.
This is all new to me. In my prime, my garbage can days saw me skipping breakfast for a large coffee mixed with powdered creamer, hot chocolate, and Splenda; mid-morning snack of doughnuts; lunch of fried, instant nooodles scooped up with Doritos; inhaling every processed snack when I got home; giant bowl of pasta, sauce, and bread with a bottle of wine for dinner. Rinse and repeat with no real issues.
But the past few weeks have been a real eye opener. I fell into a downward spiral of fat a couple Saturdays ago. I woke up and ate a chocolate croissant with a cup of sugary coffee. Then we went out for breakfast and milkshakes. Then we had coffee in the park. After I spent the afternoon with a stomach ache so bad I was cursing the dairy Gods and their evil temptress ways, we ordered Pizza Hut and I ate 4 pieces. The next day, I made cookies and ate half the batter. The following week at work, I had take away coffee every day (2 sugars each!), and that week + plus the few weeks that followed were so busy that I found myself eating Welsh Cakes (like a bigger, less exciting Snicker Doodle) for lunch, and really, snacks throughout the day. That’s in addition to coming home to eat dinner and dessert. One night, as I was literally struggling to get off the couch because I was so crabby and so stuffed with shit food and so full of chest pains, I thought to myself, “what the hell am I doing?”
But then fucking Christmas. The season of Obligatory Gifts from Co-workers Who Don’t Know You, i.e. sweets. Cookies. Brownies. Cakes. Cannolis. Fudge. And really, any and every sweet thing imaginable. It’s been a week of not being hungry for lunch because I’m full of sugar. A week of riding a roller coaster of emotions as I peak and valley with sugar highs while feeling and looking a bit like Violet Beauregard.
Suffice it to say, I’ll be looking for a nice sugar detox after Christmas. My skin, my dreams, my joints, and the waist bands on my pants are ALL feeling the strain of eating like shit day in and day out.
Any suggestions? Or maybe a hypnosis program that makes vegetables taste like doughnuts.
Thursday – it rained all day, and the temperature dropped to about 20*C, which was FANTASTIC, considering the temps were near 32*C on Tuesday and Wednesday and I thought I was going to melt. My coworker and I had a day of cleaning up/closing up shop at our smaller practice, and we got out earlier than expected due to construction. The early dismissal gave me time to get my driver’s license and have some quality rainy night couch time with Joel, who put up my string lights and made a damn good pasta dinner and was basically a sweet angel baby. With the exception of some horrendous cramps, it was a great night.
Friday – first, it rained all day AGAIN which meant MORE chilly weather, which meant no sweating and much good times. I had a good day at work, got some surprising (good!) news about my promotion, scored some fantastic second hand clothes,
and I came home to a book surprise/early Christmas present from my parents.
Friday night concluded with more rain, an order of Thai food from our new favourite take out place (Oriental Healthy, if you’re interested – really delicious and super affordable), and watching Home Alone and Botched Brides, and working with Santa (Amazon Prime) until about 1AM.A+, all around.
Saturday: Unfortunately, the weekend of thunderstorms didn’t happen, as I woke up on Saturday morning to annoyingly bright sun, blue skies and stupid hot temperatures. I met my friend/coworker Casey for coffee and a last minute thrift store run before our Recycled Clothes themed Christmas party that afternoon. I mis-read the invitation as 80’s Christmas, so I was on the hunt for a sweet fanny pack (or bum bag, as they’re called here). We trekked through the heat and I sweated through my clothes, but we made it. And even though I didn’t find a fanny pack, I did find some sweet tops for work, a pair of barely worn hi-top Converse shoes, and two awesome little dessert plates.
Then, it was time to suit up for the party. Here I am in my vintage 80’s goodness:
Heaps of fun was had, and heaps of champagne and G&T’s were consumed.
I won “Runner Up Best Female” for what, I’m not exactly sure. It might have been for costume, but I might have just been almost good enough to be the best female at work. I don’t know, I was quite drunk. I was up for Employee of the Year, but the winner was drawn at random and the other American snagged the title. I’ll just have to settle for Second Best Female. Saturday night wrapped up with me passing out on the couch with a face full of make up and spilled curry down my shirt, until Joel put me to bed and cleaned up my mess. #sweetangelbaby
Sunday: The merriment on Saturday meant I was absolutely useless on Sunday. I slept in, and then was stuck to the couch watching Sex and the City until about 3PM. I managed to do some laundry, but that’s about it. Eventually I showered and made it to dinner and pool with Joel and our Abercrombie St family.
So yes, it was a lovely way to wrap up the week. And it’s hard to believe that it’s already Christmas next week. And in two weeks, it’s a new year. Holy shit.
Better get my act together on all those resolutions I was all gung ho about this year o_0
After 2ish years of avoiding the Australian equivalent of the DMV, I finally got my Australian Driver’s license.
I’m not sure why I put it off for so long – maybe I was equal parts scared of waiting in line forever at the Service Centre, taking a right handed drive driver’s test, and maybe it was all just WHAT IF A HUNTSMAN GETS IN MY CAR?! (this happened to me with spiders in the States a few times, it’ll sure as shit happen here. Just much bigger.) Also we have public transport and I’ve really been enjoying not having a car payment or related wallet-crushing expenses.
But the wheels went in motion the other night as Joel and I were having our 500th conversation about when we should get a dog. And he might have said “We can get a dog when you get your license, because we’ll need a car to take him places.” And I might have had my application filled out and ready to go the next day.
And today, we got an unexpected early release from work, so I found the Service Centre that’s about 6 minutes away from our place and walked on over. I waited about 5 minutes, showed a few documents and my application, took a 10 second eye test, took yet another ID photo where I look like a meth-faced criminal who can’t decide which gender he identifies with (seriously, I look like a man in all but 2 of my ID photos. Thanks for the strong genes, Dad.), and $56 and 10 minutes later I was out the door, with my unrestricted license (albeit temporary) in hand.
That’s it? That’s it. No road test, no knowledge test – nothing. I have never driven in the right side driver’s seat and I haven’t even sat behind the wheel of a car in over 2 years. Don’t they know I’m American? And that I learned to drive in Maryland, home of nationally renowned terrible drivers? So this will surely be exciting. And now that I have my license, Joel can finish is permit (#citykids). So, double exciting.
I can’t wait for more road trip adventures and not waiting for the bust to take us to the beach and most importantly – GETTING A DOG PAL! Well, one day.
We have two fans on at night, every day I get 6 mosquito bites, it’s too hot to wear a bra, and I’m wiping sweat off my brow as I scan through my newsfeed filled with pics snow and flannel jammies and hot chocolate. Summer’s here and the time is right for dancin’ in the street. Except no. Because it’s already getting so hot and muggy that I feel like I’m going to die.
At the risk of cursing myself into another season where I spend every day at work and every night on the couch in a coma with my phone in my hand and donuts in my face – I feel like this summer is going to be a good one.
On the docket:
– Australian driver’s licence and driver’s ed (scurrrrrry)
– Beach trips
– Hosting Christmas!
– Weekend adventures (see driver’s license)
– Lots of this:
– Lots of this:
– Lots of this
So much chill. I mean, I’ll probably sweating but I’m excited for the chill.
2016’s first round of summer was pretty much dog shit. Let’s knock the second round out of the park. Or whatever you do to make shit awesome.
On Thursday, Joel and I had our traditional Tree Party, officially kicking off Christmas 2016.
Tree Party started when Joel was visiting me in the States in 2013, and we’ve had a version of it every year since. It’s basically us and some tasty beverages putting the tree together while eating Pigs in Blankets and watching a movie. It’s fun, it’s adorable, and I’m not even ashamed to admit that this year I started to get excited for it in September.
This year, I found a tall-ish fake tree for $12, tree lights for $8, and jewel toned baubles for $10. I think it’s the most Christmassy our tree has ever looked, and I’m really jazzed for it.
I’m a little obsessed with it. I’ve been tinkering with ornament placement since Thursday, but every day I look at it and it makes me smile. I’m happy I went with multi-coloured baubles instead of red and green. It’s definitely making me think “Fun Summer” Christmas, not “holy fuck it’s hot and why isn’t it snowing” Christmas, which is awesome.
I keep hearing from my friends who have toddlers that parents only have a handful of magical Christmas seasons with their kids. At first I thought it was a bit bullshit- Christmas is awesome no matter how old you are. I always looked forward to Christmas, because it was the one of the few times my family were together laughing, eating, watching movies and having a good time – amidst the occasional drama flair up from visiting family members or my over-worked parents. With the exception of Christmas 2001 when the whole year was kinda shit and my dad was overseas for Christmas and each of us were going through some form of depression so we just said “no fucks given” and left the tree in the garage and decorated a $5 fern plant with household nicknacks on Christmas Eve (which sounds really sad, but it ended up being a fun time and thinking about it always makes me happy), my parents always made a big, big effort to make Christmas a big, big deal. We always had a huge tree with all the trimmings, presents, a giant breakfast, and lots of hang times. So the season has always been magical and happy for me.
But then I thought a bit more, and I realised that I can’t remember the last time decorating the tree as a family was a thing. And that bums me out a little. I always loved that my parents decorated for the holidays, but I never invested in the experience. And at some point I stopped participating. I mean, I helped my dad a few times by handing him tools when he hang the lights outside, but mostly I just reaped the coziness that came from their efforts.
So maybe you do only get a brief time where the magic is real and your kids want to be a part of it all – when decorating the tree is serious bizness, when waking up to open your advent calendar, or in my case – move the candy cane from the snowman calendar to the tree, when hunting for hidden presents is a top priority, and leaving treats for Santa is non-negotiable. But it seems to come back in full force when they start their own families, and their own little traditions.
Comfort eating – my favourite sport. I have a few meals in my rotation for when times get tough, or when I just need that ultimate food hug. Yes, it’s unhealthy to use food as a coping mechanism. But we aren’t here to discuss my unhealthy coping mechanisms – that’s another post all together. We’re here to talk about the food that takes you to a safe space. The meals that give you an island in a sea of bullshit.
My most craved meals are almost all from childhood, and they’re almost all amazingly unhealthy – chicken enchiladas, biscuits ‘n gravy, bbq chicken with yellow rice, brisket sandwiches, french toast, I could go on in a gravy coated, cheese topped dream.
Today, though, I’m all about bolognese. Full disclosure: I love my mom’s spaghetti sauce. It’s pretty damn good and my #1 meal of all time is her baked chilli spaghetti (coming soon!) But this sauce isn’t my mom’s recipe. I happened upon this deliciousness when I was older and living out of state on my own for the first time.
My sister’s God-brother’s wife, Mandy (yes) posted this recipe she got from her friend, and claimed it was life changing. I was an Extra Super Cooking Novice (I have since become a Kinda OK Cooking Novice) and had always thought bolognese was intimidating and too advanced for me. But Mandy made it look easy. I book marked the recipe until the one random night that I was gutsy enough to try it.
Sheeeeeew – it was incredible then, and it’s incredible now. It’s even good when I forget/swapped some ingredients (read: forgot to buy the right ones). It was the first real “adult” or “more than 3 ingredients” meal I attempted, and it was a raving success. And now, it holds a special place in my rapidly clogging arteries. Joel thinks we should have it once a week.
So, here’s the low down, complete with inevitable Audrey Mayhem (see above about forgetting/swapping ingredients) –
Step 1: find some good trash TV to cook to. You’ve got some chopping to do.
Step 2: cook the onions in some olive oil for 2 minutes.
Step 3: Add the celery, carrot, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes
Step 4: Pour yourself a glass of the $5 wine. Hold out hope that this is the one $5 bottle of wine that defies the odds and doesn’t taste like room-temperature, freshman year of college bad decisions.
Step 5. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes
Step 6: Add the beef and cook until brown
Step 7: Add the remaining ingredients
Step 8: THE HARDEST PART – let it simmer for at least 45 mins.
Step 9: NOSH
This recipe makes between 5-8 servings, depending on how big your servings are. It’s wonderful, complex, creamy and savoury, and I suggest you try it tonight. Because I’m off the store for more pancetta…
– olive oil
– 1 large yellow onion, diced
– 3 stalks celery, diced
– 1 carrot, diced
– 4 cloves garlic, minced
– ¼ pound pancetta, chopped
– 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
– 1 cup dry white wine
– 1 cup whole milk
– 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
– 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
– ¼ teaspoon red pepper
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried
– ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
– 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
– ¼ teaspoon black pepper
– ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
– ¼ cup grated Parmesan (plus more for sprinklage)
Directions 1. In a Dutch oven (sigh. Or deep sauce pan, or wok, or something stove-top oriented that’s deep), over medium heat, heat the oil.
2. Cook the onion in heated oil for 2 minutes.
3. Add the celery, carrot, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes
5. Add the beef and cook until brown
6. Add the wine and the remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes or until sauce is thick.
7. Serve with fave type of pasta and top with shredded parmesan cheese.
8. For garlic bread with an extra kick – melt butter with some garlic powder and a pinch of paprika. Dip the surface of the bread in the melted butter mix, lay on a pan and toast until the edges are brown. Delish.
*I’ve been told that this sauce freezes and re-heats very well, for all you make a head types.