Looking forwards, and Challenge Accepted week 1.

I guess now is the time to set my goals for the year ahead.

I’m not calling them resolutions as such, more goals and plans for the year ahead.

– I want to try and blog weekly,so it’s more regular.

– I want to run some more races – at all three distances of 5km, 10km, and a half.

– compete in the local triathlon either as a team with my sisters, or individual (or if possible, both as a team and an individual)

– remain injury free and get my ankle back to 100% again.

– cross train better. Get more cycling/weights in to supplement the yoga and running.

– get my blood tests done 6 months or less to check my levels of everything and assess if I’m managing vegan nutrition well

– donate blood again. I used to donate plasma regularly but it dropped off.

– complete my Challenge Accepted weekly challenges.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED week 1:

Remember how I am aiming to set a challenge for every week of the year?

the first weekly challenge I am setting myself is to practice Yoga daily. This challenge is one I picked for myself.

I feel better when I practice – even 10 minutes makes me feel more centered and ready for the day. Even if I don’t do any difficult poses, the focus on breathing is a kind of meditation and that’s always beneficial.

So I’m not setting a time limit, just a task of practicing every day this week. I’ll report next week with how I went with the challenge, and let you know what next weeks task is.

If there’s any suggestions for challenges, feel free to comment in this post and let me know!

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New year

So… 2013 has passed into memory, and 2014 has sprung into life.

At least here in Australia it has. I know much of the world has yet to catch up.

For me it was a perfect NYE. a few drinks and some board games with a small group of people, close to home.

I’ll post a more comprehensive post tomorrow, but for now stay safe, enjoy your time, and use the changing over of the years to reflect on what has been, and look forward to the future.

Enjoy. As for me, I’m off to bed now.

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Also, as a side note – if you have pets and local fireworks, keep an eye on your cats and dogs! It’s easy to be terrified with all the banging and lights.

Road trip with Clarisse along the Hume Highway.

A couple of days ago, Clarisse and I took a road trip to deliver her to her new home at my Dad’s house in Goulburn. Gary wasn’t coming as he had work, but I headed up to Dads for a Birthday visit.

Having made the trip quite a few times, and because Clarisse is a metal chicken, I drove while she sat there not doing anything and we made a few stops along the way at some of the more memorable landmarks.

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I did the driving, so Clarisse read a little

Our first stop was at Holbrook.

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The main reason people stop here is because it’s 4+ hours inland and yet there’s still a submarine embedded into the ground, which you can climb on, in, and around. For more information about it, this siteis a good brief history of why there’s a submarine in Holbrook.

Our next stop was Tarcutta.

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It may not look like much, but Tarcutta is the halfway point along the Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney. It’s the traditional stopping point for a lot of the truck drivers carting goods along the Hume.

There’s also a monument here, listing the names of Truck Drivers who have died along the highway.

It seems a little sad now that they have finished all the work on the Hume, and there’s now bypasses around both Holbrook and Tarcutta. We always drove through those towns on our way between mum and dad’s house as children so I’m kind of attached to them.

Anyway, we continued on down the road and got to Gundagai. Gundagai is a well known location in Australian folklore. I like it for a couple of reasons. One is the long bridge (seems like about 1.5kms) across the Murrumbidgee floodplains outside the town, and the second for the reason most people know it.

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the dog sat on the tucker box. And the chicken walked on by, uncaring. Because she knows it best not to get involved in such things.

The question of why there’s a dog sitting on a tuckerbox (lunch box) can be answered with the following poem.

Bullocky Bill

As I came down Talbingo Hill
I heard a maiden cry,
‘ There goes old Bill the Bullocky –
He’s bound for Gundagai.’

A better poor old beggar
Never cracked an honest crust,
A tougher poor old beggar
Never drug a whip through dust.

His team got bogged on the five-mile creek,
Bill lashed and swore and cried,
‘ If Nobbie don’t get me out of this
I’ll tattoo his bloody hide.’

But Nobbie strained and broke the yoke
And poked out the leader’s eye,
And the dog sat on the tucker-box
Five miles from Gundagai.

anon

Some sources credit this to Anon, some to an otherwise unknown poet using the pen name Bowyang Yorke. Whoever it was, the poem has been a part of Australian lore for a while, and has been immortalised in Song and with this statue outside of Gundagai. It’s a tribute to the pioneers and early (white) settlers of Australia and the coins people throw into the water are all donated to the local hospital.

We hopped back in the car and headed off. Our next stop was to have a look at the rather impressive wind farms at Gunning.

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There’s something very impressive about these massive wind turbines. They are huge. And they just sit there, on the hill, creating energy out of the wind to power 23,250 homes between them. (I looked that up – have a look at this site for some information about the specs for the farm.)

Our final stop was at the big merino in Goulburn.

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The big merino is an icon of Gouburn. It’s often said that colonised Australia was “built on the backs of sheep”. This is particularly true of Goulburn, which had a strong merino wool industry and calls itself “Australia’s first inland city”. For more information on Rambo, the giant concrete sheep, have a look here

And thus concludes a rather silly way to share some of the landmarks along the Hume highway between here and Goulburn!

A lovely day for a ride.

Me, posting twice in one day? Crazy!

Just wanted to (briefly) share my bike ride today.

Yesterday Gary and I rode together. We got 4kms along and this happened:

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Due to some unfortunate glass Gary got a flat. He switched his spare tube in, and the valve broke. So I rode with him while he ran his bike home, then he got on his mountain bike and took off for the hills for a bit.

By this point I didn’t feel like riding anymore so I did a bit of yoga and stretching.

This morning I definitely felt like a ride. It’s a lovely warm day, almost too hot really but what can you do? (It was around 30 when I left home).

I headed out with no real direction in mind, but as I made my way I decided to ride up monument hill. I rode up the front first and took a photo at the top.

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yes I did put on a lot of sunscreen before I left. Remember the title of my blog?

Then I thought to myself “why not do that again?” So I rode down, followed the road around the hill and climbed up the back of it to the top again.

Then I did a little more rambling though Albury, and took a photo of the rather charming and historical Albury train station.

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If I remember correctly, Albury station has the longest platform of any station in Australia. Albury and Wodonga are twin cities, with Albury on the New South Wales side of the Murray, and Wodonga in the Victoria side. Back in the day NSW and Vic had different gauges of tracks, so people traveling between Melbourne and Sydney had to swap trains at Albury. That’s why it’s so long – to allow room for all the trains they had to have there.
I could be wrong on that, but I’m pretty sure that’s the reason

So anyway then I trundled home again.

35 kms, two ascents of monument hill, and almost 2 liters of water.

Good times.

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zephyr demonstrating how I felt after – please, just let me lie somewhere cool and then maybe rub my belly.

Kayaking

A week or so ago we loaded up our kayaks onto Gary’s car and went for a bit of a paddle. We haven’t gone for ages, and I was pretty keen to be back on the water again.

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We still don’t have a better system than the picture, and until we get racks for the car organised we will need to keep doing this. It’s ok for the short trip to the river though!

We decided on impulse to hop in to Wodonga Creek at the Stock Bridge rather than going a little further and getting in the Murray, mainly because we hadn’t explored that section of river yet.

Me and My Kayak. I haven't named her yet, but Lucy just popped into my head so let's go with that.

Me and My Kayak. I haven’t named her yet, but Lucy just popped into my head so let’s go with that.

It was a lovely day. Sunny, not too warm, lovely cold (read: refreshing and awesome) water and the river is pretty quiet along this section. I’m not at all confident in rough water or particularly fast water yet so we went upstream to the section where it started getting rough and we turned and came back. I practiced my turns and paddling backwards upstream. When I first got my Kayak I couldn’t even paddle in a straight line. Now I can, and I’ve worked out how to turn (rather ungracefully) and I can correct my course. Progress!

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Below is the old Stock Bridge, and in front of it is the new suspension bridge that the council is building. This is great because they get to keep the historical bridge, and make a better, smoother, link so people can use the path through to Albury without having their teeth shaken out across the rough wooden Stock Bridge.

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After spending some time playing about, we packed up the Kayaks and headed home. We keep them off the ground in a storage nets (totally my idea). What we did was get some nets – I think they are to secure trailer loads, etc, and hung them from the roof with some straps and volia!

Kayak Hammocks!

Kayak Hammocks!

Kayaking is good upper body exercise and I generally find my core is a bit sore after we go as well. I would like to go more often however it’s been a bit difficult to organise time. Ideally I’d love to have some sort of trailer for my bike and ride with my kayak to wherever and spend the whole day being active.

I would also like to get myself a life jacket before tackling anything more than a quiet river. I’m more than confident in my ability to swim or float, but it’s better safe than sorry. Another safety note – I never ever kayak alone, and I also text someone telling them where I am and what time I plan on being back. Each year we have some pretty big ad campaigns locally because our river can be dangerous – cold water, underwater obstacles, very fast flow. We’ve had a few locals in danger or killed on the river because they got caught in situations they weren’t ready for. I tend to err on the side of caution and if I’m not comfortable with a section I don’t kayak there.

remember – its good to take a risk and try something new, because exposure to different experiences is how we learn. Just make sure you calculate the risk and be as safe as possible.

Very vegan trifle (and other Christmas food)

Great success!

My vegan trifle was a pretty big hit, apparently.

Check it out.

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I don’t know if other countries do this, but , in Australia a Trifle is pretty much mandatory for Christmas. In fact, the only time I ever make one is for Christmas. I’m fairy confident they have their origins in England but we Aussies seem to go nuts for Christmas trifles. A few years ago I had three Christmas meals (lunch, dinner, then Boxing Day lunch) with three different parts of my family. Each meal had a trifle for dessert.

There’s might be a few different versions, but the ones we’ve always eaten have been layers of cake (with sherry or other fortified wine sprinkled over), jelly, fruit, custard and cream. Generally it’s topped with fruit and/or chocolate flakes.

Not too vegan friendly as it is.
Gary loves trifles and I was determined that being vegan would not mean he misses out.

So I did a little label reading, moved a little away from traditional and made the trifle as follows:

Cake layer: I just made a vanilla cake using egg replacer and soy milk (cheap cake mix had no animal ingredients)

Jelly layer: the local health food shop had gelatin free jelly. I added some tinned fruit to it while it was setting.

Custard: quite a few custard powder brands are vegan, it’s the dairy in made-up custard that isn’t vegan. So I made up some custard with coconut milk (the kind for drinking, not for curries). It was delicious.

Cream: I made whipped coconut cream! It was so good. The first lot I tried, which I tried the morning of Christmas Eve, didn’t work. The coconut cream had emulsifiers so I’m guessing that meant it didn’t separate enough. I went to the health food shop and got organic, emulsifier free coconut cream and it was amazing. Decadent, yet light enough that I didn’t die after a spoonful.

Whipped coconut cream is so easy. Just pop a can in the fridge overnight (you need full fat too, not light). When you open it, it will be solid on top. Scoop out the solid part, and beat till fluffy. I added a small amount of icing sugar just for a tiny bit of sweetness.

Then stack it all up! I also put some of our muscat on the cake. I grew up in Rutherglen, a fairly well know region amongst people who enjoy fortified wines, particularly port, muscat, and tokay* so I like to use a local muscat in these sorts of things rather than the traditional Sherry.

In celebration of all that coconut, we topped it with strawberries, banana and mango.

The resulting trifle was creamy, but not too heavy, well balanced, and a bit hit amongst the animal product consuming crowd.

For dinner we went home (with our leftover trifle) and my brother David came round.

We had a BBQ feast.

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the meat you see is the venison steak Dave brought from home. Mum gets meat that a friend up in the hills hunts – far more ethical than commercialised farming! I didn’t mind throwing it on the BBQ for him, but we did joke about having to throw out the BBQ after

I marinated some tofu and veggie chunks in a store brought marinade for a couple of hours before skewering them and throwing on the BBQ (basting with more marinade as I turned them) with some home grown zucchini and eggplant, and some sweet potato.

I also made this potato salad:

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I’m kind of shocked now I’ve been making this salad for a bit. Old school mayonnaise based potato salads are so much heavier! This is light, perfect for summer, and delicious.

For the dressing I combine whole grain mustard, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and sugar or a syrup and shake to mix, adding a little of whichever component I think it needs until it tastes good. I’ve found though that it’s good to make it with a little more mustard/vinegar bite than is preferred because it softens when you put it on the potatoes.

Toss through some fresh dill and spring onion and you’re done. Just because I could, I also added corn this time.

Christmas in Australia is actually pretty easy for vegans. It’s summer here so BBQ and salad is a common go-to. Very easy to make vegan options!

Bonus points: here’s a photo of our beautiful girl Zephyr getting all the attention she wants and loving it

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*fun fact: a few years ago I remember some legal issue meant that the Rutherglen region had to change the name of their wine varieties because they couldn’t use the same names as the other regions internationally used. So we now make wines like Rutherglen muscat and topaque

Challenge accepted – assistance required!

Hi everyone,

I’m looking for some assistance. I’ve decided to set myself a weekly challenge for every week of next year.

These challenges can fall under any category really, but I’m focussing on working towards a healthier, wholistic, conscious lifestyle. I’m also accepting fun challenges

Some of the challenges already suggested include things like:

– set aside time for reading fiction every day
– no TV
– don’t buy anything with plastic
– exercise (of some form) every day
– a week of only eating raw food.
– meditate every day
– don’t use an ATM for a week, and only use cash. I’m assuming this one is about maki me more conscious of the money I’m spending!
– participate in the “below the poverty line” challenge. I need more info on that one.

Etc, etc.

I’m looking for challenges that are challenging, but achievable. They can be related to social things, food related, focus on emotional well being, anything really.

There’s only a couple of rules.

1) they must be practical. A 1 week vow of silence isn’t practical for me because I need my voice for work.
2) if they are food related, please keep in mind that I intend to remain vegan.
3) I don’t have to accept every challenge, but once it’s accepted and scheduled I must do my best to complete it.
4) I will blog weekly with the title “challenge accepted week #”, where I will report the week that’s been and the challenge for the week ahead. It will start Jan 1.

so if there’s any suggestions, please make them in the comments. Help me set enough challenges to get me through the year!

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