28 November 2011

Woman of the Week on The Hoopla

I am Woman of the Week on Wendy Harmer's website The Hoopla!! It coincides with International Day of People with Disability.

It is a great honour to be up there with Tracey Spicer, Gorgi Coghlan and Rebecca Gilling. So awesome! I am very proud of this one :)

Thanks for having me Wendy and Team Hoopla!

You can read my whole interview here.

21 November 2011

International Day of People with Disability - blog carnival

International Day of People with Disability is on 3 December. I am participating in the Pin Post and Pose initiative. I hope you can get involved. (See below for further details.)

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations sanctioned day that aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being. The day also seeks to increase awareness of the benefits of the integration of people with disability in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

IDPwD brings together individuals, businesses, community organisations, and governments from every corner of the world to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions, skills and achievements of people with disability.

In 1992, at the conclusion of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992), the General Assembly proclaimed 3 December as the International Day of Disabled Persons. (From the IDPwD website)
The ribbon I am wearing signals my support for International Day of People with Disability.

While we have come a long way in the developed world with disability policy and support, so much more can be done. Increases to funding, improvements to accessibility and changing of attitudes are continuously needed.

I have not identified with having a disability (or chronic illness as I view it) until recent times. The social and medical challenges I've faced with ichthyosis are the same sorts of barriers as my friends with much different disabilities face. I guess my ichthyosis has always been a part of my routine, but I didn't define it until recently. I realised that it can be a barrier to some aspects of life, and also a competitive advantage. Without it, I may not be able to do all the exciting things I've been doing - writing, TV presenting, getting noticed at concerts...
And I'm so glad to be involved in the disability community. I've made some great friends.

For me, International Day of People with Disability is not so much about making people with disabilities aware of the day, but educating and including the people without disabilities.

For three years, I've been coordinating International Day of People with Disability events at work. I have given several speeches, and invited members of the disability community (young people from the ChIPS program) to speak about their experiences. This event is the one I love to run the most. I love giving our guest speakers the chance to tell their stories - for too often, people with disabilities don't get the chance to be heard. And I also love the way the audience - my colleagues, most of which don't have a disability - engage with our guest speakers. The talk in the office after the event is about how the guest speakers inspired them - changed their perceptions and taught them about different ways of living and positive outlooks, despite their challenges.

And I think this is one of the most important issues around disability - challenging the way people without a disability think about disability.

Aside from holding an event at work, I'll be celebrating International Day of People with Disability by attending an official State Government event in the day and at night, celebrating my 30th birthday with family and friends. The doctors didn't think I would survive much past birth, and look where I am now. That's a pretty cool way to spend International Day of People with Disability!

If you want to get involved in a small blog carnival I'm running, write a blog post about what International Day of People with Disability means for you, and post your link below.

  Facebook event here.

Pin, Pose, Post & Ribbons 

You can also take part in a community effort to show support for this years IDPwD.

As part of celebrations for 2011 a colourful ribbon pack has been developed by Nican in partnership with the Australian Government. We hope this ribbon will develop as a recognised way for people across the country to signal their support for the day.

People across Australia can signal their support for International Day of People with Disability by wearing a ribbon in the lead-up to 3 December or on the Day. 

You can also take part in a community awareness effort in the lead up to IDPwD called Pin, Pose, Post for IDPwD. This will involve a range of Australians, including Disability Community Leaders and prominent people from all walks of life, donning a ribbon in advance of the Day, capturing an image and providing a single sentence beginning with “I support IDPwD because”. This might indicate why you support IDPwD and its message of breaking down the barriers as well as supporting access and inclusion. 

If you choose this option, your Pin, Pose, Post for IDPwD will be shared on a Gallery of Supporters via the IDPwD website and Social Media to represent a wave of enthusiasm leading up to the Day across Australia. 

To take part please email idpwd@nican.com.au

Kings of Leon Melbourne concert review

Kings of Leon
Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 
13 November 2011

The Kings of Leon Come Around Sundown tour has been a long time coming - with a postponement due to drummer Nathan Followill's broken arm and the band's future in doubt due to tensions within mid year. But the band came around (at sundown, on a balmy Melbourne night) and didn't disappoint - providing a range of their old and newest catalogue of songs.

As Caleb Followill wore the cross around his neck - homage to his religious roots, his fans looked to him as their deity. Girls screaming and shouting 'I love you' and guys rocking out, bromance style. It's what we've been waiting for. The Followill Boys - Caleb, Jared, Nathan and Mathew.
There'd been reports from concerts on this tour that the Kings had turned mediocre in their maturity, playing more stadium rock than the sweaty indie style of their youth. The crowd at Rod Laver didn't seem to think so - getting hot and sweaty to the fast songs, and swaying their arms to the anthems. I think there was something for every fan, no matter when they first became a fan of Kings of Leon. Caleb's trademark mumbly, gravelly voice still reigned.

The show opened with Radioactive - energetic and powerful, though I'd love to have seen it with the beautiful gospel backing vocals like on the album version. Band, take note for next tour. Other stand outs were Taperjean Girl, fuzzy vocaled My Party - the girls on their boyfriends' shoulders behind me were going wild, Fans (my favourite), Crawl, the singalong On Call, Knocked Up and Black Thumbnail.
In terms of a performance, Kings of Leon is more musical than showy. Sure, there was the obligatory light show and stage projections (and the concert even ended with some pyrotechnics - which set off my asthma!), but the band aren't known for moving far from their positions on stage or talking to the audience. They simply play to us, with a few bits of 'chat' thrown out between songs. But they enjoy it, it seems, feeding off our energy and giving off lots of smiles. As Caleb said, 'the more you give us, the more we'll give to you'.

This was the first concert I've ever been more excited about what was happening off stage than on, due to the crew taking a shine to me and showering me with gifts, and so I didn't observe every moment had by the band. But I did see Nathan's excellent coordination of providing backing vocals while drumming and blowing bubbles. And Mathew's guitar fellatio during Closer was broadcast on the big screens - his lipwork on the guitar indicated he may be ...er... good at the real thing.
Dave, head of Kings of Leon security left me a message on my previous blog entry about this concert:
"Hi Carly ,my name is Dave and im the Head of security for KOL ,thank you for you lovely comments and e-mail . The band love their fans and especially those who come and rock there socks off ,they feed off that energy and you gave them plenty ,all done with a fabulous smile .Keep it up lady youre awesome "
I think, from the band's performance and the great treatment I received from their crew, I came out of the concert feeling like a bigger fan of Kings of Leon. I feel incredibly lucky. The concert was worth the wait.

(Sorry for the limited photos - I was actually having too good a time to stop to take many photos!)

20 November 2011

I'm with the band blog - coming soon!

"They don't even know what it is to be a fan.
Y'know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts."

~ Almost Famous

A blog founded by super fans Bere Parra and Carly Findlay, I'm with the band shares stories from super fans loving super stars.
Submit your stories about being a super fan to: imwiththeband101@gmail.com.
We want stories from super fans of musicians, artists, sportspeople, writers, chefs... anyone you find inspirational.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.  
Stay tuned for our blog launch.
It's all happening!

19 November 2011

Happy, nearly.

I went to speak of you, yesterday, as though you are still part of my life. The words were on the tip of my tongue. Then I remembered, you're not a part of my life now. Not outside of my mind, anyway. And so I remained silent. But I kept thinking about what I was about to say, and how things have changed between us and how there's no reason to drop you in conversation any more. It's eleven weeks since things changed, again. And I don't even know what they changed from. Nor do you, it seems.
A friend asked me how I am doing now. If I still think of you every day. Yes. More than every day, I answered. I think of you so much. Too much. I can count the weeks and months since. I can remember how I felt when. Even writing this brings tears. It is more about me bringing the sadness on myself now, through thoughts alone, instead of your (lack of) words and actions.

But things are getting easier. Great stuff has happened lately. I realised happiness because of you is not the only happiness I'll ever feel. I'm not as sad. I'm not as resentful. I'm still sad and hurt your happiness has come at the cost of mine. But I'm glad that your life is on track, and you've found love and maybe even love yourself. I'm happy, nearly.
There's someone else now who loves me. They've told me this. I don't know how to feel, other than thankful and avoiding the situation. I'm not ready. Even though it's been so long since the first time I loved you, and a little while since the last time. I don't think the time between has stopped, actually. It's all just one continuum. And sometimes I can't wait for the end of the week/year/time. Because I have hope that soon I'll feel differently about you. You might become somebody I think of and smile, or somebody I don't think of at all. Time probably heals.
I miss you, I love you.

17 November 2011

We need to talk about Kevin.

I saw We need to talk about Kevin at the cinema with Bern last night - thanks to Mamamia. It's based on the book by Lionel Shriver, starring Tilda Swinton. Such a brilliantly shot film, such an important story. It's a story about hatred and love and blame and warning signs and evil. And a mother's struggle to grapple with the tragedy, grief and blame her son has caused.

In the before, she lived a life with colour. A life of could have been travels, dreams and trying. So much trying, and compromise, with Kevin especially. But colour. 

In the after, her world was stripped of colour. Except the paint of blame she scrubbed off the walls, the porch, her car, her hands. The blood red paint. Always a reminder. The biggest could have been.

The film was thought provoking and confronting. You never know the burden someone carries. 

I wondered what it'd be like to carry her burden. So damn hard. She'd be grieving for the community while they'd be blaming her. Every moment she'd be worrying what someone would think of her. Carrying the burden having lost everything. Who would grieve for and with her? How could she start over?

It's an example of nature versus nurture. 

Sometimes you can't shape someone, no matter how hard you try.
Sometimes you've got to trust your gut instinct.
Sometimes people are pure evil, born that way, without explanation.
Even your own flesh and blood.
And a mother's love will always be unconditional. 

15 November 2011

On being a fan

"Make me feel like I'm the one who moves you,
The only one you see"
~ Fans - Kings of Leon

After I wrote the review of the Sydney Darren Hayes concert, and emotionally expressed my joy in meeting him, I received a comment from an anonymous reader expressing concern for my emotional wellbeing. Here is the original comment:

 I enjoy reading your blog Carly... But this is an interesting read. I know you find comfort in Darren's lyrics and music however I feel that you are in a little too deep here... I feel that you are slightly obsessive and almost 'drowning' in what he gives to you. The fact that he is a gay man makes this 'relationship' you feel you have with him even more uncomfortable to read at times :)”
After a number of people went in to bat for me (thank you everyone) the anonymous reader replied:
I'm quite happy to read your opinions on my original post and please let me clarify that I was not alluding to the fact that Carly's love for Darren can not be reciprocated in a traditional sense. I perfectly and honestly respect the love you have for him as a musician... I too believe that he is freakishly talented and I enjoy his lyrics too. My concern and question stems from the fact that Carly has obviously had heartbreak, distress and upheaval relating to her personal relationships and she is very open in discussing this. My post came from a place of concern for her emotional well-being. l just think the level of adoration she has for Darren is somewhat concerning... Gay or not gay has nothing to do with it. I'm only posting anon as I don't have any other sign ins.”
I also replied to the comments, ending with:
Let me have this happiness without criticism or condescension. Maybe one day you'll experience the joys of being a fan too.”
While I wasn't upset by the comments made, I was disappointed that I was criticised for taking joy in meeting my idol and expressing how much he and his music means to me, after having such a shit time recently. Last week was truly the start of me getting back on track and feeling like the old Carly again.And that feels great.

And today I want to tell you about the joy I get from being a fan. Of Savage Garden and Darren Hayes more specifically. Laugh. Diagnose me with some sort of obsession. But also take the time to realise how the music moves me. It really does. And music and fanship moves other people too. I've got some friends' comments about being a fan too. Here goes.
I can recall the very moment I became a fan of Savage Garden. It was August 1996 and I was watching Rage. I saw Darren Hayes on the back of a truck on a Brisbane highway – reddish long hair, sounding a bit like Roxette. Daniel Jones, also on the back of the truck, was playing a guitar. The song was catchy, they band was cute. It was the I Want You video clip. “I am going to be a fan of everything this band does” I told myself. In September 1996 I went to Geelong on a family holiday with a friend. I remember buying the blue I Want You CD single, the one with the garden gnome on it, in a cardboard case that pulled out like a drawer. At the end of that year, I wished I had spent my $5 pocket money a few weeks before on a much coveted red version of the CD single, with a rare b-side. About three years later, a penpal sent me a signed red I Want You CD. Rare. And in November 1996, I remember seeing To the Moon and Back on Hey Hey It's Saturday. The song confirmed Savage Garden would be the band of my life. I bought that CD single too, and every single and album after, even the rare ones from overseas. I think I have around 80 Savage Garden and Darren Hayes CDs. I know people who have more. When my parents' house was under threat by bushfires, Mum asked me if there was anything I'd like saved. “My tower of Savage Garden CDs”, I told her.

Since I became a fan of Savage Garden, and continuing on with Darren Hayes, I've amassed a lot of stuff. Articles, CDs. Posters. Setlists. Merchandise. And memories. Memories are the most precious. I can recall all the concerts I've been to – even what I wore to the Savage Garden one in 1997. And I remember the moments that I've met Darren (I haven't met Daniel).

People laugh at me, and are also critical. Even I take the piss out of this particular love of mine sometimes. But I am a proud, dedicated and committed fan. Why am I a fan? And why Savage Garden and Darren Hayes?

When I was younger, I think it was an obsession. I couldn't stop thinking about how hot Darren was. I'd be inspired by his lyrics. My friends and I would analyse his interviews so much, and dream of what it'd be like to marry him. He had not yet come out. 15 years after I became a fan, my fanship is more realistic and mature. I don't want to marry him. I still think he's incredibly attractive. But my love goes deeper than the superficial. The music gives me incredible joy. It takes me back to a place when my life was simpler – before adulthood, but also provides hope for each day too. It's Darren's lyrics, perspective and experiences that I can relate to, and as he's grown. I've grown too. As I've matured, I've taken some solace (and sadness) knowing that some of the very things I've experienced (isolation, bullying, difference) are some of the things Darren's experienced too.

 (If you look closely you can see me in the background. Darren took my camera and took this photo himself!)
 I think Savage Garden and Darren Hayes helped to shape my identity. The music gave me something to believe in. It was there through my headphones when I've had needles, and posters on my wall when I've been sick in bed. I made many friends because of my fanship – penpals and face to face friends. I'm still friends with many of these people today. And just last week, at the Darren Hayes concert in Melbourne, I befriended a girl who was also there by herself. She read my review and couldn't believe how much she could relate to the way I feel as a fan. 

The music has also been a friend – for during the many times I've felt lonely or rejected or love-lost, or even so overwhelmed with love, I can immerse myself in it and it's like receiving a reassuring and loving hug. However, despite me and my fanship maturing, I can still be reduced to a puddle of tears (rather than screaming with awe) when faced with Darren Hayes in person.

The thrill of being a fan is what brings joy too. The race to stand at the front of the stage (and the standing that often accompanies it). The breath held as he walks out on stage. The rush through my veins as he sings live. The special moments when he's looked at me during a concert – and the kisses and hugs he's given me from the stage. And the wait outside the venue, hoping to meet him. And when the meet happens – wow. The shaking and immense happiness afterward.

Darren Hayes is a fan too. He's spoke at length about being a fan of Michael Jackson (and was very affected by his death - to the point of writing Glorious about Michael), Bono and Madonna. He has mentioned the excitement when he's met his idols, and his experience seems very similar to mine.

It's not only Savage Garden and Darren Hayes that I am a fan of. I love so many other bands, though not to the extent of getting super knowledgable about them. Probably the closest would be Angus and Julia Stone, Bob Evans and Genevieve Maynard. Back when I was young (and possibly dumb in one case) I was a super fan of Southern Sons (it was the long haired boys that caught my eye) and then cricketer Shane Warne (the dumb phase for me, pre-text messaging phase for him). I must say, I liked the look of Warnie when he looked more natural – bleached hair and tubby. I've actually met some wonderful friends through being a fan of other bands – Bob Evans in particular (I've met some great girls out at his gigs and online), and even become an online friend of one of my favourites – Genevieve Maynard. Genevieve has commented on some of my blog entries and has told me she's a fan of me too! And this means so very much, being a fan of her!

My Dad is a huge fan too. I think I get my dedication to the cause from him. He loves Liverpool Football Club, and I have not known him to miss a game. Before Albury received SBS on TV, we'd travel to Melbourne to watch big games. He'd listen in for the football scores on his shortwave radio at 7.55 am every night. Now he uses the internet to find the scores, and watches most games live on pay TV. It was Dad who encouraged me to go see Savage Garden live when I was 15 – I thought the idea of going to a live concert in Melbourne was pretty out there, but I am so glad I did.When Savage Garden broke up, a Brisbane radio station dedicated an hour of airtime to them. At this time, we only had dial-up internet so streaming radio stations online was a very slow option. So Dad encouraged me to call the Brisbane radio station and ask to be put on hold, so I could listen to the tribute. I did. Dad encouraged me to call the radio station, because that's what he'd do to hear information about Liverpool, back in his youth.
Before I was born, and when I was very young, Dad was out of work for some time. He used to do a program on community radio. This radio show saw him wrongly pronounce INXS as 'inksess'. He is not from Australia. Anyway, Dad was telling me about a man who also used to have a show on the same community radio station. This man was so committed to his passion he'd source rare music from rare record shops in Melbourne, and play the types of music he truly loved – cutting edge punk in the early 80s. He'd do fill in shifts. He loved his music, and he was dedicated to the cause. I admire that commitment and passion. I think it can give people something to live for.
So that's my story. I could write forever about being a fan. As mentioned above, I've got some more stories from friends about their fanship.When I read Edenland's blog about meeting Bono, I cried. Not because I am a huge fan of Bono, but because I could relate to the joy, and was so happy she got to meet her idol. I love reading/hearing other fan-meets-idol moments.
This one is my favourite, from Carmen, who I met at Bob Evans last year. She's a fan of Josh Pyke, and when I read on her Facebook that she met him, I was so excited for her, as I know what a great feeling it is to meet an idol.

I am a fan of Josh Pyke. Haha. I love his music more than any other and it satisfies me in some way I cannot define.
It was like it was familiar to me even before I had ever heard it. A big part of it is that it provides me with an escape from the mundane and his voice & lyrics comfort me. I know that would probably sound ridiculous to a non fan.
He has songs that suit my best and worst days. Seeing him live is the ultimate and the times I have met him are like treasures I carry in my heart. I know it's soppy but if I can't say it here where can I? 

I also like the thrill of the hunt in finding him after a show and talking to him, it is never easy. I am very shy and it takes a lot for me to approach him but I do it as the rewards are great.
If I didn't find him to be as warm and sweet as I have done, he wouldn't be quite as special to me as he is.

I certainly don't think I am lacking anything in my life. My love for Josh is just an added extra.

Social media has had a big impact (mainly Twitter for me) as it has provided me with direct contact with him.

I could really relate to your latest Darren story as last time I met Josh he held out both his arms to me and pulled me in close and cuddled me. It was one of the best moments of my life. You have to be a fan to understand the thrill of that. It has nothing to do with him being 'known'. It is just him. Sorry if I sould completely mad, just had to get it out!”

Dane, a guy I work with, loves musicals. 
I've had people comment that I'm crazy for seeing musicals all the time. If someone finds solace, comfort or escapism in someone's art, talent or interactions - no matter how deeply they feel it - it shouldn't be denied”.

Ellie K loves Bob Evans. Lucky Elly gets to have him sing at her house! 
“You will not be surprised to hear that I am a Bob Evans fan. I became a groupie at the ripe old age of 35! His music simply makes my life better. I can't explain it and people think I'm nutso but I don't care. There is just something about his music that satisfies my soul. I enjoy being enthusiastic and passionate about something so joyful. And my friends get pleasure and amusement from my joy. I had an amazing response of support (both financial and emotional) when I bid for Bob in the EMI auction. And because of them I won! In 15 days he will be in my house...And as an added bonus, through my fandom I have met some gorgeous fellow fans on-line including your lovely self.”

Joel, a guy I met at Steve Poltz earlier this year, and presenter on the Stibbard-Me-Timbers Radio Show, said this:
"For me, I grew up with Australian and New Zealand Rock, I really love the songwriting of Richard Clapton and Tim Finn. To me they represent a time when I was a young tacker growing up in the late 70's into the 80's so add in there Split Enz. Noel Crombie from the band also designed and sewed their costumes, creativity like that I regard highly.
I also really love the late 70's to early 80's underground British music - Simple Minds and anything experimental. Also punk but more The Clash style than Sex Pistols.

Moving into the 90's, I took a liking to a band from Sydney called 'The Clouds', Jodi Phillis and Patricia Young were a great songwriting combination and they played my hometown of Hobart on Hobart's second warmest day recorded at 40.8 degrees in December 1994.

Also Nirvana, I loved the fact that they totally transformed the music scene in 6 months then moving onto 'Foo Fighters'. I probably don't say I'm a fan of anyone too much but Dave Grohl for me is a total legend!”

And I think this is something that sums it all up for me. Tim, from the Stibbard-Me-Timbers Radio Show said: 
 “David Francey, he's a true folk singer and very creative, he worked in construction for years then developed a career in music. Sings about working class, poverty, cause he has been there and done it. His songs have timeless youngness about them. I can kind of relate or at least dream that I can inspire somebody in the same way, I think that what makes you like someone. If they write the song you feel you should've written or want to sing”.

I feel exactly that about Darren Hayes. He writes the songs I feel I should have written or want to sing. Especially this song. The Siren's Call. I recorded it in Sydney.

Who are you a fan of? And what joy does being a fan bring for you?

14 November 2011

A funny (and special) story about the Kings of Leon Melbourne concert (and their crew)

So I had another blog entry scheduled for this morning, but in my excitement, I need to tell you this story. It is A funny (and special) story about the Kings of Leon Melbourne concert (and their crew). It's not really a review. One will come.
I went to the Kings of Leon gig at Rod Laver Arena last night. I went on my own, so it simply wasn't safe enough to be in the middle of the mosh. But then, I want to be able to see the band on stage, and being five foot one, it's difficult standing any further than three rows back. So I positioned myself in a safe spot with good airflow on the left side of the stage, in the front row against the barrier. I was the last person in the front row.

Before the show, I figured out this side of the stage was near the backstage section. There were lots of security guards and official VIPs standing around and going through a door. At one point, the door was open enough to see Jared Followill putting his jacket on, and Caleb Followill's red check shirt.
So I was dancing and singing my heart out to Closer, when a VIP with a lanyard walked out of the audience, and came back in to slip me a signed guitar pick! That was pretty cool. I had a look at his lanyard, and thanked him. Turns out, he is Doug Chabbott, Jared Followill's bestie, according to google.

Then, a burly yet friendly crew man with a headset tapped me on the arm after Fans and slipped me another guitar pick! This one is a bit worn, maybe just used.

I have a guitar, should I start playing it?
A bit later, the same crew member walked by and I smiled at me. He went up to the side part of the stage and came back down with a drum stick. He gave this to me too! All these instrument tools! He told me the drum stick was from Nathan Followill's stash on stage.

The show went on, I was really enjoying it! The band played well and there was a lot of energy in the audience. I was especially pleased for the amount of songs played from Because of the Times.

Another crew member gave two setlists and a guitar pick to a very excited girl on the balcony who was cheering the whole time. She was so overwhelmed and happy she cried!! It was a lovely gesture to see.
The show ended and I stood waiting to go out. Doug Chabbott smiled at me telling me I did pretty well during the night! Another crew man gave me another drum stick. So that's two drum sticks and two guitar picks.

And as I was getting ready to go out, a ruffled mohawk guy walked off stage, gave me a setlist, and said in his gorgeous American accent, "thanks for coming out tonight".

It was so lovely to be treated special by the crew. Really nice guys! And I couldn't figure out why I was getting such special treatment. I showed no boob, and was really just having a good time!

Now, if only I got a member of the band, I'll be set!!

Thanks Kings of Leon crew for making my night! This has certainly been a great fortnight of music!!

13 November 2011

Sunday food

Here's (most of) what I ate today. Its been a good food day!

This was a really good brunch - cold rice pudding with strawberry and mango, and toasted coconut from Three Bags Full in Abbotstford. Yes sir! YES SIR!
I also had this. Poached egg, salmon and goats cheese. Probably the healthiest brunch I've had out in in a while.
Kirsti from Melbourne on my mind was with me - we had a lovely catch up - finally! She had hotcakes with poached pears and berries. It was as hot pink as my jeans
Brunch was really good - very filling. Three Bags Full is definitely worth the trip across town and the queue. The bonus of queuing for 15 minutes or so is the fashion watching - everyone looks fabulous there!!
For my very early pre concert dinner I cooked seafood tacos - salmon, prawns and calamari, organic baby carrots, mushrooms, asparagus and spinach, seasoned with mayonnaise and jalapeño salsa :)
And I cooked this lasagna for week nights and work lunches. Leftover bolognaise (roast pumpkin, carrots, capsicum and broccoli, pork and beef mince, tinned tomatoes, Italian pasta sauce) and more roast vegies, layered - eggplant, spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms, with lasagna sheets and mozzarella cheese! I think it's quite healthy sans bechamel sauce and packed with vegies.
Sunday has been yumday!

12 November 2011

Music I've been missing (and looking forward to) - Kings of Leon


Tomorrow night I am going to see Kings of Leon. It seems ages ago since I bought the ticket, and they postponed, so my excitement has sort of waned. But this week I've been listening to their music on my iPod while doing admin stuff at work. I love Caleb's gravelly voice. And even though I love their old stuff better than their new stuff (especially Because of the Times), I love the sexiness of this song.

Manhattan's the music I've been missing. I hope my time in Manhattan, New York is as hot as this song. Caleb Followill is hot damn sexy.

If I get close enough to the stage (I have a standing ticket, but am going alone so I don't feel safe enough to be in the mosh like last time) I will take some photos, and I'll try to do a review for the blog. :)

And I see even rock stars were affected by the QANTAS grounding

10 November 2011

Red. Weighing it all up

On Tuesday, amongst a million other things, I had a good chat with one of my dermatologists. It was a bit of a debrief, I guess. We didn't talk much about my skin, other than the emotional and social impacts of it. Since hospital, and hospital again, my skin's felt ok. It's the heart and mind stuff that's troubled me. How to cope with stuff and when to take a step back. How to manage expectations of blog readers and people who seek advice from me. And whether the social challenges of ichthyosis should be healed above the medical challenges. We returned to what I wrote about in March - quality of life. So much food for thought.

One of the major things we spoke about was a breakthrough in medication. There's a new drug that has the potential to dramatically reduce the inflammation of my skin. Great! Not as many people staring at me. I can walk down the street in peace.

But. And there's always a but. Administering the medication is quite complex. And the other big side effects are that it would not reduce the dryness and scale, and also make me more susceptible to infections.

So we talked about how I can deal with the redness and the social challenges that come with that. But I can't deal with the pain of infections. It's. Just. Too. Sore.

And I mentioned something I hadn't thought about until recently. For most of my life, I didn't want to be red. Black or white or a skin colour that society is used to. Anything but a skin colour that makes people stare.

But it's now come to this. My redness is my profile. I tell stories, and have the face to go with the stories. People often want to get to know me because of how I look (rather than how it was - people not wanting to get to know me). I am remembered by those that matter. I now have to use my looks to make a positive impact. A bit like the way bikini models use their bodies. And maybe, for maximum impact, I could strip down to my bikini too.

So if I wasn't as red, how would I get messages across? How would I show someone what it's like to look so visibly different? And as a friend said to me, people may get the impression that  I've "had so much work done since I've been on TV". Hah!

Have you ever been given the opportunity to use a medication with such big opportunity costs? And have you eve been thankful for your illness or disability because it gives you a great life?

08 November 2011

The Hoopla

Today I was published on Wendy Harmer's website, The Hoopla! The Hoopla is a great mix of social commentary, news items and personal stories. 

Wendy tweeted me this morning, which was a nice surprise while waiting at the hospital clinic.

I love Wendy Harmer. Ever since I saw her featured on Australian Story, I have found her inspirational, clever and so very funny. I have downloaded her podcasts with Angela Catterns and chuckled as I've drifted off to sleep. And so it is a real honour to have been published on her site.


You can read my whole article on The Hoopla here. Thanks for having me Wendy and Team Hoopla! Much appreciated.

07 November 2011

A Sydney adventure - guest post by Sydney Shop Girl

My regular readers will breathe a sigh of relief to know that this is the first post in November that does not feature Darren Hayes. And my concerned commenter can rest assure that I haven't drowned in my obsession (I will address that perception when I'm not so busy living a Hayesless life this week). This is a story of the other things I did in Sydney. Mostly eating and drinking. Fact.

Tonight's post is a guest post by the equally lovely and beautiful Sydney Shop Girl. When In Sydney I was privileged to spend an evening with her and Sandradee from St Frock. It was a gorgeous night harbour-side, and as I sat eating and drinking extravagantly, I realised I was in the company of two smart, funny and strong women, who have overcome such adversities. I admire them a lot, and I am so glad that we are friends. 

Sydney Shop Girl wrote this post on her blog so brilliantly I wanted to reproduce it on my blog. (It's actually lazy blogging - I am still in a food coma from my Sydney eating, and asleep on my feet from my Darren Hayes OBSESSION. Actually I am about to prepare for a pretty big week ahead. Got stuff to do). Take it away, SSG!

I'm a bit of a nanna when it comes to going out on a Friday night after work.

I like catching an early evening bus because they're usually pretty empty city bound and I get a seat and some piece and quiet whilst I listen to my BBC podcasts and try not to smudge my dramatic evening makeup.

This usually means I get to my destination early enough to have a soothing cup of tea before pre dinner drinks.

Soaking up the atmosphere outside Jamie's Italian on Friday night.  As you do.

And I also have an older persons dislike of queuing for dinner.  Or in the case of Jamie's Italian on Pitt Street (really hard to find actually), lining up in the the line to wait for the chance to have dinner.  Apparently, if you get to the start of the queue I was in, you get to wait 2 more hours for dinner.  7.30pm on a Friday?  I think not.

Luckily, Carly and S, who I was meeting for dinner felt the same about all the waiting.  We met, turned on our heels and walked to the Opera Kitchen, which is a relatively new development in the concourse area of the Opera House.

Where good food, seats and a bit of quiet came our way pretty quick smart.  We were blessed with perfect weather and clear skies.  The Sydney sky line at night always takes my breath away.

We decided to sample dishes from a few outlets at the kitchen, starting first with Kenji.  Kenji Nishinikagawa was originally the sushi chef at Koi in Woolwich (one of my favourite local haunts and I'm so sad it's now closed) and this sushi kitchen at the Opera Kitchen is his latest venture.

I'm cursing the decision to try and take photos in total darkness but I had no other choice.  The photo above was meant to be of our bento tower which was served high tea style.  We also each had a bowl of miso.  This wasn't overly salty but lacked a strength of character.

The top layer was an assortment of vegetable, prawn and calamari tempura. The batter was crisp and the vegetables had bite to them.

Underneath was a platter of mixed sushi and sashimi.  I was pretty impressed with the freshness in a 'food court' setting though the flavours were not as delicate and refined as at Koi.

The final layer was sashimi.

Kenji Japanese @ Opera Kitchen on Urbanspoon

It wouldn't be a Friday night amongst friends without bubbles.  For me it was also a celebration of surviving a rather long and draining week.

I think Miss Chu will forever remind me of CarlyS and K (who was unable to join us on Friday).  We met earlier in the year at the original Miss Chu in Darlinghurst and now here we are at the Opera Kitchen ordering a few of our old favourites.  Unfortunately, they were all out of rice paper rolls.  I can safely say that this outpost of Miss Chu's is every bit as delicious as the mother ship.

The pork dumplings were juicy and well seasoned.

The 3 of us all eyed the final duck pancake.  But alas, there could only be one winner of a second serve.

Miss Chu @ Opera Kitchen on Urbanspoon

There's always room for a bit of the 80s on a Friday night and we had our flash back with a prawn cocktail from the Cloudy Bay Fish Co.  It was deluxe.  The dressing wasn't fluorescent pink or too thick and there were plentiful prawns and a crisp vibrant bed of greens and red onion to boot.

Cloudy Bay Fish Co @ Opera Kitchen on 

We still had so much to talk about after all that food that ending the night with a dessert stop was the logical next step.  S and I managed to sweet talk (love the unintentional pun) Carly into going to Guylian for dessert.  Carly isn't the biggest chocolate fan but we convinced her that there would be non chocolate items on the menu - macarons, danishes and the like (or at least we thought we'd seen these foods at Guylian the last time we checked).

We needn't have worried.  Once we entered the chocolate coated world of the Guylian Cafe (link to menu) at Circular Quay, Carly decided that she'd bat for our team just this once.  We ordered a tasting plate which included a hot chocolate that our waitress kindly offered to divide into 3. In hindsight I wondered how 1 person alone could finish a hot chocolate as well as the array of desserts that accompanied it.

The hot chocolate is served with a Guylian chocolate seahorse at the base of the cup.

Then someone with a steady hand like S pours hot chocolate over the seahorse and you stir the 2 together.

It was heaven and a little goes a long way.  Carly was impressed.  Here she is modelling the Diva replica of the Duchess of Cambridge's sapphire engagement ring.  We were both lucky to get ours as they sold out at full price at practically every Diva store in Australia.  Apparently Kim K's version is now going for half price.  I might investigate this during the week.  Carly, if you want me to pick you up one, please let me know ASAP.

Yes, that's the tasting plate.  The scoop of vanilla and berry ice cream was delicious actually.

A cup of chocolate dipping sauce with strawberries and a selection of beautifully decorated cakes.

I am pretty sure at least one of them was a chocolate sesame cake, another a chocolate mousse cake and the pure pleasure cake with almond in it.  There were also chocolates.  There was too much choice.  The orange gold flakes scattered on the plate looked gorgeous.  If I wasn't so full I would have tried them too.

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe on Urbanspoon

What more can I say?  Here's to friends, food and Friday nights!


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