A weekend in Melbourne — food

#melbourne

 My favourite Instagram photo from my Melbourne trip.

I spent my birthday weekend down in Melbourne, and among shopping and general milling about with friends and catching up, I also got the chance to check out a few cool bars and cafes. Which was pretty much part of the whole Melbourne plan, obviously.

Oh hello. Salmon pastrami with saffron potatoes, smoked yoghurt and crumbed egg at Pope Joan. Amazing!

Salmon pastrami, saffron potatoes, golden egg, cucumber, yoghurt @ Pope Joan ($19)

1. Pope Joan, East Brunswick

This place is gorgeous–beautiful interior, great outdoor area, and most importantly, fabulous food. I spent a wonderful rainy Sunday morning here with my Kindle (currently reading Americanah by Chimamama Ngozi Adichie, it’s a great book). If you come early it is calm but it becomes busy fairly quickly with the brunch crowd.

2. The Alderman, East Brunswick

A great little wine bar on Lygon St with a roaring open fire, which is excellent for wintry nights and gossiping with friends. Check out the toilet that has the rather eyeopening mural depicting various options for sexytimes. There also seemed to be gorgeous dogs that just lived at the bar? So Melbourne.

Shakshunka eggs

3. Bowery to Williamsburg, City

A cool little New York subway-themed cafe, tucked away in a laneway in the city. I always find it amazing how you can get great food in the actual city in Melbourne–in Sydney, the ‘burbs shine and the CBD leaves much to be desired. I’m sure it is very busy during office-fooding-and-caffinating-hours (i.e. before work and lunch) but in that snippet of time in between it was calm and very satisfying. Pictured above is their shakshuka eggs with pastrami–they also had lots of Americana-themed foods on the menu. The coffee (Padre) was very nice too.

4. Two Little Pigs, Brunswick

Charcuterie meets coffee house. Nice coffee and a very nice pork roll.  A sweet little spot with friendly people, good prices and some nice boutiques nearby.  Light and bright. Not too far to stroll to Savers either.

I also had some non-food experiences as well, and by that I mean shopping. I’ll get into that in a separate post.

New glasses from Bonlook

So I decided I needed a spare pair of glasses around the place… but I mostly had just been looking at Bonlook for ages and wanting to order a pair.  So I did.  Well. I ordered two pairs. But for $99 US a pair, I figured I could take the gamble.

I actually really like both the pairs that I got, which is great. I was a bit hesitant about whether the sizing would work etc, because when I go to a glasses store I usually try on so many pairs that just don’t fit well, but I had no problems. I was also a bit hesitant about the looks, whether they would be a bit too hipster for me to pull off, but I think I can manage them.

I’d really recommend reading all the advice on Bonlook about measuring temple length, etc, or basing it off the measurements of a pair of glasses that you already have, to find the right size frames. They also have some good tools that make suggestions.

So here’s the pairs that I ordered from Bonlook (apologies for the selfies):

 

My new (spare) glasses arrived from #bonlook! Yay! $99 FTW. #whiskyThese are the Whisky frames in Chocolate Tortoise.

OK so maybe I ordered two pairs of spares. Yay! Online glasses shopping FTW. #bonlook #dylan

And these are the Dylan frames in Cinnamon Brown.

I think the Whisky frames are my favourites, but I do like them both.

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For comparison, these are the glasses below that I paid more than $400 AU for from OPSM last year (before my private health cover got reactivated from me being overseas).

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They are Ray Bans. I do really like them and I will probably still wear them the most. But I don’t think they are four times better quality than the Bonlook glasses. And there was basically nothing cheaper in the store when I was trying them on. Everything was designer branded and $400+ with lenses. It’s good that we can end this rort on fashion frames….

For those wondering how long it takes from ordering to delivery in Oz for Bonlook, it was just under two weeks for me.

I know some people have had troubles getting scripts out of their optometrists, I was fine on that luckily. But remember, they actually have to give you the script, they can’t just blackmail you into buying overpriced glasses from their shop. I just took a photo of the script and send it to Bonlook, and the glasses are sharp and clear and everything they should be.

If the looks at Bonlook don’t tickle your fancy, another friend told me about Sneaking Duck. The benefit there is that you can claim against your Australian health insurance if you have private cover — I couldn’t claim back my Bonlook glasses. So I may trying Sneaking Duck as well, since I won’t have to pay for a pair with my insurance… I’m tempted by the Sorbet or Red Comet for a really bold look! And Sneaking Duck have a free try on at home service, so I might just take advantage of that. Oscar Wylee are another Australian option with this service.

Good to see glasses being able to be more fun and affordable thanks to online shopping! I am probably going to collect a lot of pairs of spares now…

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Returnaversary

It’s been more than one year now since I came back to Canberra! It has gone super quickly. I’m feeling quite happy and settled, which is nice. Sure, the Can still annoys me sometimes, but my overall feelings toward the place are positive, largely thanks to the many wonderful people I know here.

Given that this is the first time I have spent more than a year in one place since Jakarta Stint 1 (2008-2010), it’s quite a nice and unusual feeling to not be thinking about the next move and just living in the moment.

Gorgeous sunrise this morning when I was hitting the gym.

Why I’m doing Walk in Her Shoes this week

This week, I’m walking 50km for the Walk in Her Shoes challenge, to raise funds for the work of CARE Australia to help women and girls living in poverty in developing countries. You can sponsor my walk here. Every little bit helps.

There’s a few reasons why I am doing it.

1. Some of my lovely colleagues decided to do it together in a team, and it’s fun to be cheeky and hassle each other about how many steps we have done, as well as to walk together.

2. When I was living in Timor-Leste and Indonesia, I saw how poverty disproportionately affects women and girls. Things such as having nearby water supply or sanitation facilities can make a huge difference by reducing the amount of time women and girls have to spend carrying water, by reducing the risk of them being attacked, etc. This isn’t just fundraising rhetoric, I have seen how important this is first hand, particularly when visiting remote villages in Timor-Leste. Getting water from far away sources eats up time. More free time means girls get to go to school, or women can grow vegetables or do other work to earn livelihoods. And when women have an income, they are more likely to pull their family out of poverty by spending on the important things, like health or education. Girls with education raise healthier children and have fewer children. It’s all connected, so I’m enthusiastic to raise money to support projects working on these issues.

(On a somewhat related note, imagine having your period and not having access to water, sanitary products or toilet facilities? What a nightmare. I wrote about this issue last year.)

There’s another reason. And it’s certainly not the main reason, but it is a reason none the less. At the risk of sounding irritatingly Gen Y, self-absorbed, first world problems and everything else…

3. Most people think I am lazy and it isn’t true!!!!

It’s so irritating, being a fat person, that people just make the assumption that I come home from work and flop on the sofa (yes, some days I do that, but not most). That I do my groceries at McDonald’s rather than at the farmer’s market.

Even if it doesn’t look like I do, I go to the gym at least three times a week. In summer, I was swimming multiple times a week. I regularly go for walks. I buzz around doing errands and cleaning and whatnot. I was doing Zumba and now I’m looking at doing floor barre. Even if I do come home and flop, it’s usually because I’m trying to write something or finish things off. I’m no angel, I’m not some crazy Paleo crossfit machine, but I do try. There have been times when I’ve been trying more (like when I used to run, yes, run, across the harbour bridge and back five times a week) and times when I’ve been trying less (being stuck in Jakarta traffic jams didn’t help the cause). But I’m not lazy. Yet I have basically been the same size I am now for well over a decade, so go figure (except for losing from dehydration when I caught giardia and paratyphoid when working overseas — yet another good reason to have improved access to clean water in developing countries!)

People are too quick to judge a book by its cover. For girls in many parts of the world, they are told they can’t do things simply because they are a girl and that judgement, compounded with other expectations based on gender, is actually the thing that holds them back. If I only did the things that people expected of me because of stereotypes about the shape of my body, I would have missed out on a whole lot of fun and many opportunities (i.e. did I mention that some people think fat people are stupid? Yet I work at a think tank.).

So this is an exercise in dispelling stereotypes, while supporting something that will empower women and girls in developing countries to smash the damaging stereotypes that persist in their communities.

I actually haven’t found it hard to hit the 10,000 steps a day target and I’m ahead of schedule on my KMs for the challenge. As long as I go for at least one walk a day or go to the gym, and then just do normal life stuff, I’ve hit 10,000 steps or more every day.  But it’s good to have a conscious reminder of it and to have an added motivation to drag myself out of bed at sunrise to go for walks (the picture above is a gorgeous sunrise I spotted on Tuesday). That being said, it’s also kinda inconvenient when you are busy, which is the whole point of the exercise I suppose. And I’m also very glad I don’t have to carry 20 litres of water with me while I do it.

It’s good to be able to prove a point while also raising funds to support women and girls who have to deal with far bigger challenges and problems than I do. So get on board and support the cause if you can.

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Rise and shine

It was a pretty gorgeous morning by the lake today. I should make more of an effort to get up early and go down there for walks. The sun is already rising later than it used to, so time is running out before wintriness sets in.

I also need to make the effort to take more photos. The camera phone on my new iPhone is much better than the old one. But I’m thinking I should practice more because I enjoy it and I think I haven’t really improved my skills at all in a while.

 

Much #canberra love this morning. I should get up early more often.IMG_1735

There was also a gorgeous sunset last night when I was walking back to Civic after work (well… after after work drinks).

#canberra

Skywhale

Her Majesty the Skywhale

I have loved Skywhale since I first saw her and her ten pendulous breasts.

But until now, I had never seen her in the flesh! I am feeling a bit off colour at the moment with some sort of minor bug or something, and I went to bed stupidly early last night and hence woke up stupidly early. I decided to go for a walk by the lake. Unbeknownst to me, the Canberra Balloon Spectacular had not yet finished and I was able to see Skywhale in all of her majesty. What a delightful way to start the day.

(If you haven’t heard it, the Ode to Skywhale song is worth a listen…)

Bow down before our breasty ruler, people of Canberra.

 

Boobpreciation. #skywhale #canberra

 

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She's so happy. #skywhale #nofilter #canberra

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Skywhale gathers her comrades. The time is nigh. She will liberate her people and form a new government, where breasts and their owners are given the respect they deserve.

PS. You may have noted that I have redesigned the blog! If you have any feedback, leave a comment.

Enlighten 2014

The weather here is strange lately. It looks like it is going to rain, then it doesn’t rain, yet it somehow surprisingly  then erupts into brilliant sunshine after you’ve already resigned yourself to cloud. I didn’t do much outdoorsy stuff on the Canberra Day long weekend because of this strange weather, but on Sunday evening I did go for a wander around the Parliamentary Triangle to look at some of the architectural projections for the Enlighten festival. They are always quite cool. And it was a beautiful clear and starry night, even though it had been hinting all day that it wouldn’t be.

 

Bless this mess?

New year.

I haven’t written on the blog much at all since New Year. It has actually been an incredibly busy month and a half, it has really felt like a whirlwind. Some of it has been good busy, some of it just busy busy.

So what have I done besides work…

I got a haircut because my hair was totes feral. (I always laugh when the hairdressers imply I should come back every 6-8 weeks. Yeah, cos I have $100+ and a couple of hours during the work day to burn every two months for a cut… sure.)

Curly:

Not even curly fro is making me enthusiastic that it is Monday. So sleeeepy.

Straight (kinda):

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I don’t know why I have cynical face in both of those photos. I should do that less. But it is so hard in the current environment. Reading the stories about what is happening on Manus is just shameful, not to mention everything else. And my bus keeps running late. So it’s hard to avoid cynical face under these circumstances.

I have started taking French classes, which is kind of fun but also a bit infuriating at the same time. I’m not exactly a patient little butterfly and I want to learn things quickly!

I am going to the gym a bit more. Next month I am doing the Walk in Her Shoes challenge to raise funds for CARE Australia, so if you would like to sponsor my walk for a good cause, check out my fundraising page.

Also, a project I’m helping out on a bit for survivors of family and sexual violence in PNG got funded, so that was exciting.

I have already failed on most of my new year’s resolutions, particularly the ones about saving money (i.e. my iPhone died and had to be replaced). So it’s good to get that out of the way early in the year.

I can now play two songs on the ukulele (Riptide and Hey Ho), mostly because I learned them while procrastinating on writing.

Other than that, generally things are good. Except I keep accidentally stumbling upon really hateful comments or articles on the internet about fat people or women lately, which is just a bit shit in general and really dents my mood when I’m too tired to get indignant about it.

But I think I need to go on a holiday somewhere this year. It’s been a year since I was last overseas and frankly it feels a bit unnatural to be in Australia for such a long period of time without a break. So now I’m starting to think on that.

So I should probably try to start saving money I guess.

At Penny University in Kingston

Penny University

I had been reading lots of hype about Penny University on Canberra blogs. Seeing lots of great photos. And hype hype hype.

So when little sister was in town we took a break from the multicultural festival and ventured Southside to Kingston to check it out. It was pretty impressive and nicely done. It was packed, so we were seated in the cute courtyard out back, which was pleasant enough, with its green wall, keeping the cutesy vintage theme of indoors (thankfully it was the morning so not too hot, might have been less fun out there later in the day in the recent heatwave we had).

Penny University courtyard Kingston

We were there for brunch, so obviously I needed a coffee. It was pretty good — I wasn’t blown away or anything but it was definitely a good coffee. Sister ordered avo eggs (saving me food envy because I am allergic to avocado!) and I ordered the Cazuela.

Sister brunch. No food envy since allergic to avocado.

Nom nomWe were both suitably enamored with our breakfasts. We also ordered the homemade iced teas, which were rather fabulous–the drinks menu had lots of very tempting options too, like shakes and juices.

Ice tea

All in all, it is a nice little spot. Great interior design, good food, good drinks, nice atmosphere, good service too (I was worried we would be forgotten out in the back courtyard, but thankfully not so)… but the usual Canberra hipster prices.

 

 

Sydney NYE 2013-14

Bang bang bang. Happy New Year.

Sydney NYE 2013-14

 

Even though I lived in Sydney for five years before moving to Indonesia, I never did the NYE fireworks. Logistical nightmare, being home in Albury over the holidays visiting family or being overseas were the main excuses. So when an opportunity came up for a bird’s eye view of the fireworks this year with some friends, I jumped at the chance. These pictures don’t do the fireworks justice (I stupidly didn’t bring my tripod), but they were pretty special! You can watch a full video of the fireworks here.

There’s other things that add to the atmosphere when you watch the fireworks in real life — such as the electric buzz of a whole neighbourhood of people having house parties, every balcony filled to the brim. And the echoes of an excited crowd around the whole harbour, counting down to the new year, gasping in awe at the fireworks and loudly cheering. Plus the day of being bunkered down in anticipation, which was a lot of fun too!

Sydney NYE 2013-14

Sydney NYE 2013-14

Sydney NYE 2013-14

Sydney NYE 2013-14

Sydney NYE 2013-14

The coathanger

For NYE, I was lucky enough to be able to bunker down in an apartment in Lavender Bay with some friends with an amazing view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (and opera house, and Luna Park, and city, etc!). I took so many photos of the view over the week…. how could I resist?

Sydney NYE 2013-14

Sydney NYE 2013-14

2014

Fourteen things for 2014….

1. Write more. Make time to write and be disciplined about it.

2. Read more.

3. Don't waste time doing pointless things.

4. Thinking and imagining and being creative is not wasting time, so that's OK. But take notes when you think of something good to follow up, don't just let those ideas vanish into thin air.

5. Exercise more.

6. Be more proactive about being social and meeting new people.

7. Do more research. Don't just write easier/popularist things, push yourself until you understand the harder stuff.

8. Volunteer.

9. Take more photos.

10. Save more money.

11. Go places you haven't been before.

12. Be confident.

13. Be the Beyonce of aid blogging.

14. Be grateful for all the good in the world and always leave the door open for good things to come right on in for a cup of tea.

 

Soft baked eggs at Reuben Hills

Quick cafe review: Reuben Hills, Surry Hills

While in Sydney, it makes sense to get your hipster on. Today I went to Reuben Hills on Albion St in Surry Hills for brunch. It's very hip indeed — great design and interior, sort of industrial neon light ecclectic warehouse chic if I had to describe it? It's very popular, but since I was just brunching with my Kindle and not a big group I got a spot on the communal table pretty quickly. I didn't drink my usual coffee, but instead decided to try the cold filter coffee — it was nice but I kinda missed the milk, so that might make me a coffee wuss. But it was clearly good coffee. To eat, I had the soft baked eggs (pictured above) with spinach, goats curd and ranchero ($16). It was quite delicious, spicy eggy goaty goodness with delicious rye toast. I love baked eggs and I know they are pretty easy to make so I shouldn't buy them out… but then I can't resist. Since I felt like hanging around reading for longer, I also ordered a mango lassi. It tasted more like a mango smoothie than a lassi, so that wasn't a highlight… and it was super expensive ($8.50!). So that was a bit disappointing, even though it was served in the hipster beverage vessel of choice, a jar. But other than that, I enjoyed my hipster brunch.

Read what others think on Urbanspoon:

Reuben Hills on Urbanspoon

Hipster jar-based drinks.

 

Winston 2-2

Berries, homemade granola and coconut yoghurt

This was my ‘emptying out the fridge before driving home for Xmas’ breakfast. Summer berries, organic coconut yoghurt, and some of my homemade granola (modified off this recipe… I make up a big batch maybe once every six months, each time giving it a bit of a tweak or a twist… the latest variation included spelt puffs and macadamia… it’s perfect sprinked on yoghurt or fruit). Plus a scattering of leftover pomegranate that I had from making the Ottolenghi roasted cauliflower and hazlenut salad for an Xmas lunch (the Jerusalem cookbook is under the Christmas tree for me… yay). The salad was yum–I made a total mess seeding the pomegranate though, red splotches all over the kitchen floor!

Quite a sweet breakfast but also quite lovely. I love when raspberries and blackberries and such are in the realm of affordability.

(Plus my camera is back from a trip to Melbourne for some surgery, yay)