Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Monday, 23 September 2013

Happy Blue Ribbon Monday

Woo Hoo it's been a heavy weekend of sports and we're celebrating!

So grab yourself a celebratory bevvy and I'll give you the run down!

Melbourne is gripped by Footy Finals fever and it's all about who is going to win the 2013 AFL (Australian Football League) Grand Final which is next weekend. But of course we (what am I on, just slipping into 'we' as if I was actually playing....) I mean our team had to qualify, and the preliminary finals were last weekend.

When you arrive in Melbourne you get asked pretty quickly who you barrack for. It goes like this:
What's your name?
Where do you live?
What do you do?
Who do you barrack for? 
v.intr. Barrack
1. Chiefly British To jeer or shout at a player, speaker, or team.
2. Australian To shout support for a team.

Zzzzz. So after we determined what barrack actually meant, we choose to support the local team, Hawthorn. This year we received our Hawks Football Club thirteen year membership scarves and on Friday night in a tense down-to-the-siren match, Hawthorn advanced to the Grand Final with an incredible come from behind win over Geelong. Go Hawks!

So if you ever want to impress with your Australiana you can tell the world that you're going for Hawthorn in the AFL Grand Final and that One Direction have just arrived in Adelaide. That pretty much sums up all the big news stories here, nothing else much going on of note in the country at the mo.

On Saturday night we were invited to a 21st birthday celebration and they had this very cool blue-lit Esky (above) with the drinks in it and hundreds of blue and silver balloons.

So where were we? Oh yes, you had a drink and I was telling you the story...

Aussie Rules football is played with an oval ball, but our kids play Football, the World game with a soccer ball. This weekend saw the last rounds for the season, and our own finals series. The kids have played twenty weeks of competition and started their first pre-season training in early January. The kids play in the Seniors competition and they both coach Junior teams. Between club and school soccer, at the height of the season there will be soccer every day of the week for our family.

So when we get to the end of the season and are hanging up the boots for a few weeks, it is a big deal in our house!!!

The girls went out on a high having won their league to earn promotion into Women's Premier League. Yesterday they won their Finals series as well and were presented with their gold medals by Football Federation Victoria.

It's a race against time for daughter No 2 to get fully fit to compete in the Australian University Games next week up at Gold Coast, she played half a game complete with bright pink physio strapping. She was supposed to have blue strapping tape but hopefully the blue socks count for Blue Monday!!

Queensland are you ready for the University Games? I was in Adelaide last year for the Uni games when Adelaide City Council put out a request, please would the Uni Students refrain from removing any more pot plants, and return any pot plants in their care.

Of course my daughter would never do anything as silly as that, but Queensland just in case there is any mischief up there, she has certain clearly identifiable distinguishing features these days, you let me know!

Well that's enough mischief from me today.
Thank you so much for stopping by.

Please do pop across to see Sally and the other Blue Monday posts if you have the time.
Happy Blue Monday and have a great week!

Smiling Sally

Friday, 20 September 2013

Orange You Glad It's Friday and Mooncake time 中秋節?

Hooray! It's the Aussie school holidays... 

The weather is warming up. I've unearthed my summer clothes, replenished the sunscreen, found the sun hats and sunnies, got my water bottle permanently to hand, and have started to get that frisson of excitement when you get the last car parking space in the shade...

Orange flowers looking blooming good in the park this week
Spring is in the air, and yellow wattle trees have burst into life. All around is a familiar sound, the drone of lawn mowers and the sneeze of summer.

The Wattle's out - Bless you!
If we were back in China or Hong Kong we'd be on holiday too. It's Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋節, known as the Mooncake Festival. Families gather to eat mooncakes and watch the moon. There are lots of brightly coloured lanterns everywhere.

Happy holidays to all my Chinese friends and to those living in Hong Kong and China. I hope you are enjoying the full moon festivities and your mooncakes!

Photograph from Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong's website
We too have been preparing for the full moon here, in slight trepidation for the predicted rather hairy week. My yoga teachers have mumbled all week about the Full Moon and everyone being out of sorts...
'We are not even going to try the tree pose on Thursday night. Everyone's balance will be out'
Someone breaks the ensuing silence to mutter ...
'Wise move'
They're given the 'get back in the zone' stare from Ms Yogamudra. It's hard to focus and stand on one leg when giggling...

Melbourne full moon tonight
So tonight with the full moon clearly visible through the trees I remembered I had a couple of the photos from our trip to China last year to show you. We went to Xiamen just off the coast of Taiwan.   Xiamen is a popular Chinese tourist destination but it is the sort of place that if you see another Westerner you look, smile and probably do something radical, like invite them for a beer. I know and I don't drink beer.

We were really happy to be told at the hotel check-in that we'd be given an upgrade to a room with a pool view...

Room with a pool view (remember to pack binoculars next time)

In the hotel handbook we find the following safety warnings:

Close the door when you leave - fair enough.

Store your valuables in safe box - sensible advice.

Be careful about your check-in luggage. Leave nothing behind - Oops mine's downstairs in the lobby waiting for the very nice porter to bring it to me... Maybe. Maybe not, I guess...

No gambling - I don't. Well maybe. Just occasionally when our horse runs.... Here I won't.  Promise

Use Internet properly - SOMEONE'S blocking access to my BLOG. Big Brother is that you?

Follow no strangers to the fun places - Whaaaaat? Come on, this is supposed to be a holiday!!!

The next day we go out and about to see the sights - here are some of my favourite signs:

Safety first! Please do not run
 Shame I was planning to start my marathon training. Ok I'll leave it to tomorrow (again)

No Thoroughfare... it's ok the cactus wins.

It's been China week on my blog, so I hope you have enjoyed the trip to mainland China. If you look out of your window and see a full moon, spare a thought to those celebrating this weekend. Or indeed for those of us with the wobbles-on in vrksasanas (tree pose)

Here's proof that we're all a little bit out of sorts this weekend. I'm off to see the One Direction movie with my girls. It's a secret because my youngest at nineteen has proclaimed she is way too old for One Direction... So what does that make's me...????

I hope you are doing something out of sorts this weekend?! Have fun.

This blog has been posted as part of Orange You Glad It's Friday.
Do pop over and see Maria and the other blogs if you have a mo!

Thank you for joining me today.

Orange You Glad It's Friday

Monday, 16 September 2013

Happy Blue China and Glass Monday

Last week my blog had a Japanese influence, in honour of our lovely Japanese guests. This week we managed a quick change of the linen, mopped the floors and welcomed two lovely lasses from Hong Kong and China. In fact had you come round earlier I would have handed you a duster...

We are lucky we know both countries well, on account of living in Hong Kong for a few years, so there is much to talk about. The girls are with us for the three weeks of school holidays whilst they study for their Year 12 final exams.

We've turned the living room into a study hall, I've added a jug of lime juice and some jellybeans...
'You don't do that for us' the cry went up
'You don't study' I replied - touché.
So here we are, for the first time in a zillion years in a school holiday and I've no plans to go anywhere much... So I'm glad you've popped by, I'll put the kettle on. I'll get my special blue bird mug out.

Reminiscing about our old life in Hong Kong and China (oh sorry, were you expecting to read a blog about my best porcelain?) brings back many memories. A life where we...

  • Never left the house without hand sanitiser and a handkerchief to mop our sweaty brows.
  • Look forward to celebrating new holidays - such as Chinese New Year or Ching Ming tomb sweeping day, and even grow to like the taste of mooncakes! 
  • Find all our clothes are either tailor-made or at the opposite extreme from the bargain shops of Wan Chi.
  • Never bat an eyelid as an 85 year old woman, pushes a hand cart with tons of rubbish through the streets of Central.
  • Forget that entertainment can mean anything other than shopping, eating and learning to play golf.
  • We get excited when Jackie Chan, the Movie Star comes to the kids school to celebrate the 10th anniversary, we smile when he is introduced to the other ten Jackie Chan pupils who also attend the school.
  •  We feel like a super tall super models, brought back to reality when the shop owner asks 'You want extra large?'
  •  We get offended when people admire our chopstick skills, and proud to have mastered the skill of slurping our noodles.
  • We know to take a coat and scarf in summer to fight off hypothermia in the buses, ferries, supermarkets and cinemas.
  • We are not surprised to find footprints on the edge of the toilet bowl.
  • We never had the need for the ultimate status symbol - a lawn mower.
  • We adopt the Hong Kong slow shuffle, walking slowly with the crowd and become adept at squeezing into the smallest of spaces in lifts and on the MTR public transport.
  • We learn some local words but know when all else fails adding Ayyyiieeaahh every other word will get the sentiment of surprise, pleasure, pain or anger across. 
  • We experience the highs and lows of surprise, pleasure, pain and anger every day in discussion with our Helper concerning what she will cook for tea. Ditto when dinner is served.
Ah yes our Hong Kong life was a million miles away from our Aussie life. Here in Australia we are now into Spring. The blue flowers in the garden have burst forth this week and then being Melbourne we had our coldest September night for ten years!

Ayyyiieeaahh - Oh my goodness is that the time? 

The crazy poodle is sitting patiently at the back door waiting for his walk - must dash!

This blog has been posted as part of Blue Monday - if you would like to pop over to see Sally and the other Blue Monday blogs I know they'd be pleased to see you.
Smiling Sally

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Fashions on the Field palaver

With the Australian General Election over, we can turn our attentions to some other important matters of life, the Spring Racing Carnival...

As some of you may know we have a part itsy - bitsy share (like a tail) of a racehorse...

We have had two previous horses and neither saw me galloping flat out around the shops in an absolute tizzy trying to work out what to wear...

The first horse was in the UK where British weather dictates a smart coat (or more likely a raincoat) will suffice...

The second was an Aussie horse, but let's just say we were never remotely near the winners enclosure and leave it at that...

So this weekend I've been pondering frocks, hats and the rest.

Fashions on the Field is a big part of a day at the Aussie races, even for those not remotely interested in entering the famous competitions.

They say that over 26 million dollars was spent on hats, dresses and accessories for the Spring Racing Carnival in 2012

It is quite an industry, the stakes are high. You can win big, but even for a regular race goer like myself it's a bit of a palaver...

For a start weather in Melbourne is entirely unpredictable and so the old adage
'Melbourne - four seasons in one day' means it's is hard to plan ahead

It is likely that the weather will be hot,
Requiring some work to be done before legs can be bared and toes can be peeping...

It used to be great that you could just plonk on a hat and forget about hair,
but now hats are so last year and the fascinators or hatinators replacements require a hair do.

Then not only do we have the horse entered for a rather big race in October
but a few weeks earlier we've scored an invite from the Chairman of the Victorian Racing Club
for Luncheon and Afternoon Tea in the Committee Room, Flemington
(For those not in the know, the invite comes with details of appropriate attire, it's Posh, with a capital P)

I've got some pretty race dresses from ten years ago and I have an orange hat and a black hat (somewhere)

I am excited to read that vintage is big this year - does wearing ten year old clothes from the back of your wardrobe count as vintage, or is this just plain sad? (I'll let you know)

Apparently I also need to have a different look for Spring racing than our previous outings in the Autumn
(Which is good because when Our Little Miss Hussy won in the autumn we didn't make the winners enclosure, we'd already headed off to the Owners Bar.
No worries about being photographed in the same outfit twice!!!)

The quest to fit into clothes from 2003 is a long term project and won't be achieved overnight (without surgery)

Things I need to consider...
  • First and foremost frocking up, and not too skimpy (Moi, skimpy?!)
  • A head to toe look ( does shabby-chic count?)
  • Making a statement, don't be afraid to be bold with colours (good news for the orange hat)
  • Open toes or strappy sandals styles (panicking now)
  • Different race days have different codes - Derby Day is black and white (OMG - are they serious I need to have more than one outfit - mega palaver)
  • Colour is in - even neon (who hoo orange hat it IS your big day out)
  • No need for hosiery just a good tan (more work needed)
  • Hat needs to work with shoes and bag (Bag!! Forgotten about the bag!)
  • Attention to detail with accessories (get out the best jewels)
  • Understanding and interpretation of the current fashion trends (Whaaat? I'll do my best)
  • Grooming and deportment (forget it)
  • Smile and remember to have fun (Are you kidding? Alright I'll try)

So I hope you have enjoyed a little insight into the joys of fashions on the field - bring back the days of the Barbour coat and the Hunter green wellies I say.

I have set my my fashions on the field palaver amidst photos of some of the beautiful women I met in India last year.
They all look like they effortlessly meet the criteria above.
Originally I was thinking how easy it would be to wear a sari and how much less fuss. But when you start to look closely at the women there is often just as much palaver going on and all of these women were photographed on the street, they were having an everyday day, not trying to be fancy...

This post has been included in Beverley's Pink Saturday.

If you would like to see how creative and wonderful the other Pink Saturday bloggers are - please check them out here!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Quintessentially Japanese

Quintessential... of the pure and essential essence of something: the quintessential Japanese art of origami. 2. of or pertaining to the most perfect embodiment of something...

My Japanese maple tree in the garden bursts into life this week

There can be nothing more quintessentially Japanese than Origami and how lucky are we to have two Japanese house guests to share and delight us with their skills at paper folding...

Go on tell us more, I can hear you ask? 
We are a Homestay family, who open our doors to international guests who come to study in Melbourne. On Sunday, we had two lovely Japanese nurses move in for the week.

We learn on arrival, one guest  is a Japanese food model and fellow blogger - can you imagine the pressure of the week knowing that everything you serve up with be photographed for a well respected and established Japanese food blog?!

Now I have two approaches to cooking, first and foremost I love rustic cuisine - think of the dessert Eton Mess with its smashed up meringues
...'of course they're shop bought Darl, do you think I have time to whip up my own egg whites?'

The second is that I get away with serving up a lot of things as Australian - burnt sausages, soggy this that and the other.  (I exaggerate, it's not quite that bad...!) 

I know, I know I have no shame, but I love the fact that most of our house guests have never left their country of birth and are heading off into the big unknown when it comes to the delights of Australian cuisine. So I generally don't panic about the food...

I am helped by their English language course, where the first lesson is generally on manners and etiquette. Thus having mastered the word 'delicious' earlier in the day, they are keen to use it...and I am happy hear it.

They always say 'Your food is delicious'
And I always reply 'Thank you. That's very kind of you to say so'

We manage to blend the manners and customs from both cultures quite well. Before eating, Japanese people say "itadakimasu," a polite phrase meaning "I receive this food." This expresses thanks to whoever worked to prepare the food ... My Kids never itadakimasu me for anything I serve up, so I love this!!!

Now let me take you back to Sunday evening about 10pm at night, when I, blissfully unaware that one of our house guests is a renown chef and self confessed foodie and have just offered the options of cereal or toast for breakfast... Gulp!

I'm up bright and early the next day ( ok well was a somewhat sleepless night... ) to forage around in the back of the fridge looking for inspiration.

Fortunately I find a brand new batch of my husband's lemon curd in the fridge - perfect. Together on a pretty plate, decorated with some of the many fresh lemons we have in the garden, we do rather well for breakfast. I am now looking forward to seeing that in publication in Japan!

Our second guest tells us that she too also cooks but she prefers running. I offer up daughter Number two, our Sporty Spice as a running partner to show her our local running route, along the old railway track and through the park... She tell us she runs marathons, but so used to having a few things lost in translation, we ask how far she would like to go. She replies
'42 km's'
'Mum will take you instead', my Sporty Spice offers!!!

We have just had the most wonderful week with our Japanese homestay guests. We counted up. These are the 23rd and 24th guests from Japan we have had in the past five years. We hope there will be many more!

If you follow these photos above, you should be able to recreate the quintessential Japanese art of origami to make a rabbit. It's not quite as easy as it looks but it should keep you out of mischief until we meet again- have Fun!

Today I'm participating in Alphabe Thursday thanks to Jenny and her Alphabe - Thursday blog.

The instructions were to link a "Q" post

Jenny Matlock

I am also participating in Thursday favourite things thank you to Katherine and Angel. 
Have a wonderful Thursday!

Thursday Favorite Things