28 February 2011

Happy 30th Anniversary!

Today is my parents' 30th wedding anniversary. 30 years of happy marriage. 30 years of a free life together.

My parents met in the 1970s in South Africa. My Dad was there from England, working as an engineer. My Mum, a coloured South African, lived in Cape Town. They met at a party and for the four years they courted, they took a big risk. Apartheid ruled South Africa. If my parents had been caught or dobbed in to authorities, my Mum may have been sent to gaol.

It's kind of the INXS song, Original Sin.

So in order to legally be together, they moved to Australia in January 1981. I am so proud of what they did for love. Moving countries. Leaving their families, friends and jobs. They had to get married within a month of arrival or Mum would have had to return to South Africa.

They married in Centennial Park in Sydney on 28 February 1981. The wedding was incredibly inexpensive - this makes me even more proud - a wedding on a shoestring that has lasted for 30 years. Less than $100, would you believe?!

Moving to Australia didn't absolve my parents of challenges. Things became difficult when I was born. They had me, a severely unwell baby, with no family support, and new to a small town. I was in hospital for months at a time, 300 km away from home. It was tough for my parents, financially and emotionally, but they made it through. We survived it as a family.

It is nice to see them together - they make each other laugh. And when they're apart, they talk each other up. They moved to Australia for a better life, and I think they've made a pretty damn good life for themselves. They live on an idyllic piece of land, travel on holidays regularly, have lots of friends and eat well.
I always say, if Mum and Dad could make a good life for themselves, anyone can.

Happy Anniversary, Mum and Dad. You're awesome, I love you both.

27 February 2011

Josie Bones

Josie Bones. The term conjures up scenes of grizzly murders (is that a tautology?), bones buried in backyards, museum displays of human skulls, and The Lovely Bones - the book turned movie by Alice Sebold. The term doesn't make me think about food. Except maybe of a cannibal scraping meat off human bones and sucking the marrow out. Hold on - what kind of sick thoughts does my mind harbour?

Josie Bones is the food baby of Masterchef couple Chris Badenoch and Julia Jenkins. It is a restaurant in Collingwood featuring meat - including various offal - and beer. Nose to tail eating and beer, more specifically. Given that my only experience of cooking and eating offal in the past 20 years (aside from Mum's tripe, and chicken feet at yumcha) is asking for a pig's trotter for cooking pho, and saying it was for my dog, and that I mainly drink beer in the form of shandies (but I once had a beer spider - beer and macadamia icecream - as a dare to impress a boy), it seemed pretty crazy of me to suggest to Mum that we eat at Josie Bones for dinner last night. But I am glad we did.

Its exterior and interior may keep vegetarians away. An illustrated bone hangs overhead, marking the street number. If my dogs were alive, they'd find a way to get the sign down and taking it home to hang above their kennels.
Cast iron pig's trotters greet diners. My Mum loved these, remembering reading about them in The Age a few weeks back. Pig's trotters were a big treat for my dogs too.

And inside, a digital print of a skinned rabbit is the main artwork. It may freak some people out, but I thought the light and shade on it made it really beautiful. I've seen many skinned rabbits on the kitchen bench at home - that my Dad had caught or bought, or prised from the jaws of my dogs.
At Josie Bones, the drinks menu is far bigger than the food menu. The food menu is one page. The drinks menu comprises about 30 pages wedged onto a clipboard. Chris Badenoch was renowned for cooking with beer during his time on Masterchef - and Josie Bones certainly reflects this.
The drinks menu is divided into two sections: Beer and Not Beer. There are too many beers for me to count, or make any educated decisions about. I was drawn to the page featuring fruit ales.The knowlegable wait staff helped me choose this raspberry ale. It was interesting. It was like drinking raspberry puree with a hint of beer. I think I liked it, but then I didn't know. Then again, I am not a beer fan.
The staff were very helpful and paid a lot of attention to detail - I saw they ensured wheat beer was in the correct glass, discussed the right amount of coasters to serve with the drinks, and served the bills on a tray with a lego or similar plastic toy animal. A cute touch.
During our first drink, we were served the most delicious sourdough bread that I've ever tasted - it's from Loafer Bread in Scotchmer Street Fitzroy. The butter was handmade by the chef.
I loved sitting atop barstools and being served on a beautiful timber bench. Chris Badenoch sat at the end of the bench, eating, drinking beer and making notes with a colleague. Julia Jenkins came to talk to him every now and then.

We sat flicking through Chris's book between courses. I bought it for Dad's birthday last year and now Mum can't wait to revisit it.
When it came to selecting dinner, I remained conservative. It was enough for me to eat at a restaurant serving offal, for now. Maybe next time.
Mum chose offal - trotters, octopus and bone marrow, and lamb's tongue. Despite the rather graphic depiction of meat on the wall and door, the presentation of the food on the plates disguised its true source.

This is Mum's octopus and bone marrow cigar with green mango salad. She said it was great.
Here are her pig's trotter fritters. I tasted a bit and it just tasted like regular pork. Nothing to be afraid of.
Mum said the best part of her meal was the lamb's tongue with eggplant relish. I didn't photograph this one. She raved over it, wanting to cook the lamb's tongues she has in her freezer.

My meal was not Heart Foundation approved. But the doctor said to eat more, and I figure the fat will go to moisturising my skin from the inside. Well, I can dream? It's the Last Meal kind of food.

I had a plate of pork crackling. Wow. I smiled all the way to the last piece.
Next up was an oyster with crispy nori and a jelly that I think was beer. The oyster was raw and salty, just how I like it.
My main course was slow cooked pork belly with crispy skin and pickled peach. Sticky and moist pork, and tangy peach. So good.
While the meals at Josie Bones aren't big and hearty, I didn't go hungry. The meals are meant for sharing though. The woman next to us was sharing a board of various salamis, including horse salami, and the guy on the other side had lamb tartare - raw lamb.

My piece de resistance was this:
Amazing. Creamy, deliciously ripe and pungent washed rind goat's cheese, like brie but better, served with my favourite fruit and toast.
The wait staff asked if I was sharing. I immediately said no! This cheese board was heaven, and again, I smiled all the way through it.
After our meal, Mum was bold enough to go to speak to Chris. I went up after a few minutes too. Mum was telling him of the food she and Dad grow at home, and butchering their sheep. They talked about brains and smokehouses. And both of their eyes lit up during the conversation about caul fat. Chris was genuinely interested. He is really personable, and a definite food lover.

Mum told him I was going write about our time at Josie Bones. He said he recognised me from somewhere, perhaps I'd been in before. I said no but said I am on TV. He was interested to know about No Limits, and then we got talking about good and bad reviews, and of course, food. I told him I'm a big fan of Masterchef.

He said that while he'd love to serve a whole pig's trotter on a plate, Josie Bones is about making offal more palatable and less confronting to diners. It's about getting offal out there, and respecting the whole animal enough to use all its parts.

Chris was happy to pose with me for two photos.

My dinner at Josie Bones got me thinking about the importance of sourcing local produce, and that offal isn't scary. Next time I will delve further into the menu.

26 February 2011

A few kind words

Hello! You may have noticed my new blog header. Isn't it awesome?!

It was made by the lovely creative Camille from CurlyPops. Thanks Cam, I love it!

And this morning I woke up to read some kind words about my own blog. I took part in a blog carnival on the Chronic Babes website. I submitted possibly the most personal blog entry I've written. And Jenni, host of the carnival wrote this about my blog:
Carly Findlay at Tune Into Radio Carly writes about Sex. And WOW, am I impressed. I kind of want to be her new best friend. It's about time someone in her position (see? I made a sex joke!) wrote a frank article about sex, disclosure, and the particulars of her life. LOVE. THIS. POST.
Wow! Thanks Jenni :)

You can check out the blog carnival here. There are some great blogs to be read :)

PS: don't forget, you can interact with me on my Facebook page.

25 February 2011

Friday mixed bag

Remember last week I was in the audience of the Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight show? Well I saw an extras video online, and there's a quick glimpse of my friend and I.

My friend's Eurochopper got a workout by Hannah Gadsby.

Meanwhile, this is outfit 27 of the 30 for 30 remix. I did have my mint green blazer but it hung over my chair for most of the day.
It was my last day in my awesome events planner role for a little while - I begin a new opportunity at a more senior role on Monday, until June - but am still working on a big event until mid-March. I won't lie - I am feeling quite nostalgic today and will miss this job a lot. The job and my managers are the best experiences of my career so far. But a new opportunity awaits and who knows where it will take me?

I am relaxing tonight before I spend a day with my Mum tomorrow. I am tired and sore, so I am happy to do a little writing, listen to a little music...

drink a little cider...
...and read a little about Melbourne's fashion.
Happy Friday!

24 February 2011

Would you speak up?

A friend linked to this video on Facebook. I watched it, and it got me thinking.

I thought about my own experiences - both with questions, comments, bullying and stares I receive, and whether I have spoken up for someone else on the receiving end of nastiness.

It's interesting because I believe in speaking up against this behavior. Abusive people need to be told that their behaviour and insults towards people with disabilities is not acceptable.

But, from experience, I often find that when friends and family defend me in similar situations, it can be almost as outspoken as those who are giving me a hard time. Then when a stranger speaks up for me when I'm alone, it's a relief, and so very rare. 

As I wrote on Ramp Up, 'There are those who gather a group of friends to point, laugh at and ridicule the 'girl who got stupidly sunburnt'. These ones usually receive a mouthful from my well-intentioned but defensive friends, making me more self-conscious than the stares themselves.'

I remember my first boyfriend almost started a fight with someone who stared at me, and my second boyfriend was so intent on setting the record straight that he was 'proud to have a pink girlfriend' that I ended up walking ahead of him while he gave the commenter a whatfor!

So many times though, I am left to fend for myself when abuse occurs. People usually do not step up and defend.

In 2003 I was told I am ugly and should be dead by a woman with spider tattoos on her face, on the 86 tram to Collingwood. She carried a bottle of alcohol and may have been a prostitute. She ranted at me for two minutes, it was awful. And scary. No one spoke up. And a similar thing happened with a group of five dwarfs in 2008 - pretty much the same words, but near a supermarket. Passers by didn't stop to tell them their abuse was wrong. I was left yelling at them like a madwoman. And then I cried in a heap in the office of my real estate agent (they didn't know what to do), got really drunk on $8 wine and called the boy I loved and cried like a girl (he didn't know what to do either).

When the guy on the train defended me against four boys taking photos of me on their phones, it made me feel really proud. There are some kindhearted, strong people out there.

I wondered whether I had seen the situations that have happened to me whether I'd speak up? Probably, given my experiences, but also, probably not if my safety is compromised. 

I was trying to think about when I've stood up against this kind of behaviour, and I can't pin point it. Of course I am highly protective of my friends with disabilities - I see stares, hear comments and am appalled, but I am also mindful of causing a scene, for my friends' sakes. One thing I'm considerate of is letting the person receiving abuse speak for themselves, if they're in a state to. I hate people asking friends and family what's wrong with me, assuming I can't speak.

There was a time recently when a friend made a derogatory comment about disabled people, and I told them not to talk like that. When asked why, I said it's rude, inappropriate and I have many friends with disabilities and this sort of attitude sickens me. I think my friend was shocked at my warranted lecture.

This video came by at an appropriate time. On Monday after work, an intellectually disabled girl got on my train and kept repeating that she wanted a seat. Her Mum wouldn't let her move to a seat, but no one offered her a seat. She was nearly in tears. School kids were sniggering. I was half a carriage away from her and really wanted to call out 'can someone give that girl a seat?'. But I didn't speak up. And I felt like I should have. I left the train feeling guilty. I'm sorry, and next time I will speak up. 

Would you speak up?

23 February 2011

The end is nigh

I'm on the home stretch of the 30 for 30 remix.

It's easy not to shop, but as I wrote last week, it feels a little dull to only have a small portion of my wardrobe to choose from. It's like wearing a uniform, but takes more thinking. I want to wear my cornflower blue dress that I wore to the Rush premiere. I want to wear my red skirt. My navy ruffle top. The multitude of dresses I have for work. I want to dive into my wardrobe and go crazy. I really have no desire to buy anything new. Except to replace my Diva bling ring that I have lost. One thing I have discovered is that I could quite happily wear my black ballet flats forever. Versatile!

Outfit 24. A bit the same as outfit 23. A bit different too.
Target blazer, Valleygirl tee and skirt, Diana Ferrari shoes, Mimco headband, Lavallier bangle and Tiffany necklace.
Outfit 25. I felt like I was wearing a bodysuit. I used to have a floral bodysuit from Miss Shop, circa 1993. It was cold so I wore my lace flower scarf and pleather jacket.
Someone said it was a good outfit. I think it was too. My boobs looked big yet my tummy was flat. Win!
Sussan cardi, Mink Pink skirt, Basque top, Diana Ferrari shoes, Mimco headband, Lavallier bangle and Tiffany necklace.
Outfit 26. I had lunch at the hospital with lovely Camille, blogger from Curlypops, who guest blogged earlier. It was nice to see her - and hopefully next time we won't meet at the hospital!
I wore Target blouse and trousers, Cotton On cardi, Diana Ferrari shoes, Mimco headband and Lavallier bangle - I am loving the bangle!

Hope you all had a good day!

On a serious note, my thoughts are with the New Zealanders who have endured a serious earthquake. It's tragic. Mother nature has not been kind recently.

Donate Life Week

I am an organ donor. Are you?

I can't donate blood while I'm alive, but I want to make sure I give life to others by hopefully donating my organs, and give hope to people with ichthyosis by donating my skin to medical research when I pass away.

My friend Camille posted a very moving blog entry which I want to share with you here.

"I'm a couple of days late, but this week is Donate Life Week in Australia.

It's the perfect time to not only join the official Organ Donor register, but to sit down and have a discussion with your family to ensure that they are aware of your wishes.

Just in case you don't know my story, there's a very good reason that I'm so passionate about this issue..... so here's the very short version:

I'm 36 years old and I've had a chronic lung disease since the age of 15. I was then diagnosed with panhypogammablobulinemia about 11 years ago which just added further complications.

At the age of 28, I was told that I would need a lung transplant at some time in the future. That was a huge bombshell and the first time that I really took the time to think about my future (or lack thereof). Well that was eight years ago now, and I've managed to keep plodding on with my own very dodgy barely working lungs, connected to a never-ending supply of oxygen.

I often think about what it would be like to be able to breathe again - to ride a bike, to go for a run, to walk up a hill, to go shopping, to pick up my nephews, even to mop my floors! All those normal things that I can't do.

At this stage, I need to keep my own dodgy lungs for as long as I possibly can. But, I'm hoping that when the time arrives that I can't go on any longer, I'll receive the ultimate gift.

There are over 1700 Australians waiting for an organ transplant at any time, and the wait can be anywhere between 6 months and 4 years.

The Donate Life website is a wonderful resource full of information, including the family discussion page.

Please spare some time this week and have that conversation...."
(From Curlypops' blog, 21 February 2011)

22 February 2011

Panda goodness

Too cute not to cut and paste!

Visitors in the mountainous Wolong Nature Reserve in Southwest China's Sichuan province were so amused to see people carrying a panda cub in a basket on Sunday morning that they couldn't stop taking pictures. 
What they didn't know was that the animal would soon be taken to a new habitat high above sea level. Nor did they recognize that the arduous journey the panda would make for an hour and a half along a snow-covered mountainous path would form part of a program intended to release pandas into the wild, said Li Desheng, deputy chief of the reserve's administrative bureau.
In July 2003, Wolong began a project mean to train captive pandas to live on their own. Its first "graduate", Xiang Xiang, was released to the wild in April 2006, after undergoing three years of training. In February 2007, the five-year-old male panda was found dead, bringing an end to the first phase of the reserve's program.
Researchers believe Xiang Xiang fell from a high place after competing with other members of his species for territory and food.
The case revealed the hostility that wild panda communities often show to male outsiders, Li said.
Despite the failure, researchers refused to be discouraged. They saw no point in continuing their studies of panda breeding if the animals weren't to be released eventually into the wild.
In June 2010, the Wolong Nature Reserve resumed the project, planning to train four pandas in three years' time and release one or two of them from captivity.
A month later, the reserve brought four female pandas to its field-training base situated 1,800 meters above sea level. On Aug 3, Cao Cao, an 8-year-old panda, gave birth to a male cub, Cao Gen. Researchers, keen to let Cao Cao be raised with as little human interference as possible, decided to observe the mother-and-son pair from a distance using special equipment.
If they had to get closer, they would don panda costumes, Li said.
Cao Gen, who weighed 205 grams at birth, is now up to 11.6 kilograms.
His primary source of food is milk from his mother. Still, Cao Gen likes to stay in trees for about 18 hours every day.
Unlike captive pandas, Cao Gen isn't dependant on human beings. Rather than welcome the researchers who would dress like pandas to give him monthly physical examinations, he would snarl and bite their fingers, according to Huang Yan, deputy chief engineer in the reserve.
Recognizing Cao Gen had retained many of his wild instincts, the reserve moved him and his mother on Sunday to its field training area, perched about 2,200 meters above sea level among the mountains.
The area contains about 40,000 square meters surrounded by steel wires standing 2 meters in height, making it about 16 times the size of the field training base nearly 400 meters below, Li said.
To monitor the two pandas in their new habitat, workers installed 55 surveillance cameras. If their assistance is needed, the keepers will don panda costumes rather than risk letting the animals get used to contact with human beings.
For pandas, the best time to learn to live in the wild is between the ages of six months and 18 months, said Hu Jinchu, an 82-year-old panda expert.
Because the chief predators of pandas in Wolong are leopards, Hu, a leading panda researcher, advised keepers there to dress and roar like a leopard. Doing so, he said, will help Cao Gen prepare for life in the wild.
Hu's suggestion was accepted by Huang at a meeting in Wolong on Saturday.
Giant pandas are among the most endangered species in the world. About 1,600 of them live in the wild.

21 February 2011

The taping of the Adam Hills show - when I met Megan Gale and Tim Minchin ate my Bounty

Last Monday night, my friend M and I went to the taping of Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight. It was a long but fun night. M and I made the trek to Gordon Street, where the show is taped.
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and we picked the first restaurant we came across to eat dinner at. After the Tears - a Russian vodka bar. It's a relative of Borsch Vodka and Tears in Windsor.

M and I were so impressed! Fast service, interesting menu and really pretty interior.
There were large candles with strings of melted wax hanging off them. A frieze of Babushka dolls.
I had the most amazing cocktail: a chocolate vodka martini. Wow. I was in love.
Van gogh chocolate vodka, czekoladowa afrykańska, vanilla vodka & chocolate syrup strained over fresh cream & topped with a strawberry.
M had a beer.
We shared three really tasty vegetarian dishes. Saganaki and salad:

Vegetable croquettes topped with yoghurt and a mushroomy pesto:
And risotto balls.
After dinner we went to the ABC studios. There was a long wait in the queue, and a long wait in the cafeteria. But worth the waits. My photos inside the studio aren't so good, sorry.

It is a lot flashier than the Channel 31 studios.

So many overhead lights! They made me hot then cold, hot then cold.
Last Monday was the second ever taping of Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight. It's such a fun, funny and nice show. Adam is great - a genuine bloke not afraid to take the piss out of himself - he had a boyzillian as a follow up promise to the first week's show, and put on rainbow harem pants in the episode we went to.

The show's first guest was eyeliner loving singer and pianist Tim Minchin.
I think Tim Minchin is quite cute. I like men in makeup. He walked by and raised his eyes and smiled at me. I squealed like a girl. M laughed at my fan girl reaction. He also called for food and I was quick to offer him my Bounty chocolate. He accepted my bounty, along with M and Ms, and ate it. Squeee!

Tim Minchin is not only cute but really articulate, funny and talented. He performed this cover:

Model, Megan Gale was also on the show. She has the longest legs ever! She was clearly guarded in her interview, but very funny and spoke of having to poo in the desert.
In the break, I asked co-host Hannah Gadsby for a photo with Megan. Hannah wasn't sure if Megan would, but she happily obliged. Megan was so lovely, and SO tall!
Hannah took a second photo just in case.
Sydney lawyer, Charles Waterstreet was the third guest. The TV show Rake (and its leading character) is based on him. He told some quite disturbing stories of true cases he's defended.
While M was filmed and interviewed about an object she brought in (something her partner would like her to throw away) - unfortunately it didn't make it to air, and something she wrote on her pre-audience survey was read out, neither of our faces made it on TV. But we were in the background of a woman being interviewed about some undies she'd sewn for charity to repent for burying $15 in her childhood backyard. The following photos are screen shots of the TV show:

In this picture, the item my imaginary partner would like me to throw out is featured. Can you spot it?
It was such a fun night! We laughed so much. Thanks for coming along, M!
You can watch this episode on iView for a few more days, or download it to keep via links on the show's website.


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