Thursday, 31 July 2014

Arbonne Skincare {Review}

Within a week I had heard about Arbonne from three entirely unrelated people. It seemed to suddenly 'arrive' on the Australian market- although, most likely it did so about 12 months before I heard about it (as it turns out it has been in Australia for seven years...). I am definitely not a beauty guru, beauty blogger or beauty... anything for that matter but I do like to take care of my skin so when The Bookworm's sister in law became a consultant and was offering trial packs I jumped at the chance.

Arbonne skincare RE9 range

That was back in March. I used the products for a week and really liked them. However, I was pretty attached to the skincare range I have been using for years- Australian made and owned, cruelty-free. But my skin does not like Melbourne winters and as the cooler weather set in, and annoying little patches of dermatitis crept their way onto my visage, I decided I didn't want to go down the cortisone path again. There was a special on the the RE9 Advanced (anti-aging range) so I decided to give it a try.

Left to right: Smoothing Facial Cleanser, Toner, Intensive Renewal Serum, Eye Cream, SPF day cream, Night Cream
And document my experiment with some tired, Tuesday-night, make-up free selfies.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Happy Monday

Thank you universe, this week has been a good'un. The Powers That Be obviously looked over their wine glasses and saw that I needed a bit of a break.
 photo IMG_2415_zpsd9bb090a.jpg

Things that made me happy this week:

:: This song

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Roast Pumpkin Soup {Recipe}

Have you ever read the ingredients on a can of soup? Pretty scary huh? I have got into a bit of a habit lately of eating canned soup for lunch, healthier than some other alternatives but still not terribly good for me. The other day it occurred to me that I can save money, and do something for my health by just making up a big batch of soup and freezing it in meal-sized portions.

I know, revelationary right! Don't sass me, I've had a lot on my mind :)

Soup is one of the easiest things in the world to cook, and one of the healthiest things in the world to eat- there are at least three serves of vegetables in this one little bowl.

roast garlic pumpkin kumara sweet potato soup recipe

Monday, 21 July 2014

Happy Monday

This week I feel very sad for my baby brother. Friday morning I awoke to the news that Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over the Ukraine. There were thirty-six Australian citizens on board and one of them is my brother's friend. My brother has suffered the shocking, unexpected loss of three loved ones in as many months and I can't begin to imagine the sadness in his heart.

I am so grateful, rather selfishly, that my brother wasn't on that plane. He is a jet-setting corporate and whenever there is a disaster my parents can expect an early morning phone call answered with a panicked "Where in the would is D at the moment?"

It seems futile to make a list of half a dozen things that made me happy when there are so many families out there wondering is they can ever be happy again. Much of what happens to us is outside of our control; what we can do is focus on making our own short time on the earth, and that of those whose lives we touch, the best it can be.

Things that made me happy this week:

:: Running for the train on Monday morning, and making it! It was a real 'Sliding Doors' moment. I'd prefer nothing else to mirror that film though...(pregnancy, death, short blond hair).
In fact I had very good public transport luck every day this week when I had to travel across town for my teaching block; managing to get connecting trains and trams. I know this sounds terribly mundane, but trust me, in Melbourne it's significant. There is also nothing like a 200m sprint to get the endorphins going of a morning.

:: Noticing this enormous clock in Melbourne Central. I am a bit in love with it but have never noticed it before. On Monday after the 'Sliding Doors' moment, it was gonging (is that a word) its 9 o'clock gongs as I ran through to catch the connecting tram. I got up a bit earlier the next day to take a picture of it.
large clock melbourne central plaza

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Menulog Magic and Giveaway {and Asian Kitchen and Bistro Review}

I had never been a huge fan of takeaway. I just did not get what was so exciting or relaxing about: calling up a restaurant during their peak service time; trying to make your order clear and heard while the staff member has to shout above the din in their restaurant; hoping against hope that you are actually going to get what you thought you ordered (because there is no way you understood what was said when the order was repeated to you); finding a pair of shoes to pull on when you realise that you should have left five minutes ago; debating whether you need to change out of your track pants; waiting in the cold because the food is not quite ready when you arrive- or worse- it was ready early and that trackie change meant that the food is now cold; arriving home, organising drinks, cutlery, plates etc while the food gets colder; realising it would have been much less stress to just knock up an omelette.

But then I discovered Menulog. I remember the evening, it was December 2012 and as we left work late at night my colleague was debating what she wanted for dinner. I assumed she was looking up menus online, which she was, but it was So Much Better. She explained Menulog- you type in your postcode, select delivery or pick up (it's a no-brainer which one you should pick), and a list of restaurants that offer delivery pop up on your screen (and delivery is free with a minimum order value!). The menus are up to date, you pick what you want, place the order, settle into those track pants, pour a glass of wine (because now you don't have to drive anywhere) and magically, a little while later your food arrives. Exciting hey!

Once you have ordered the first time and set up an account you don't even have to enter your details. I have the app on my phone so I can order food wherever I am. Whenever. That is luxury.

For the purposes of this review I ordered food from one of my faves, Asian Kitchen and Bistro. Within 5 minutes I received a text letting me know my food would arrive at 7:28 (about half an hour wait). At 7:23pm there was a knock on my door.

The best way to enjoy thai food is with a floornic

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Sticks and Stones...

It is never appropriate to comment on somebody's weight.

I know I've done it a bucket of times, without meaning to be hideous, you may have too, and we have to stop.

We live in a society where we are used to commenting. We are asked to comment all the time on social media and in all those surveys that flood our inboxes. I think that generally it is a good thing to prompt discussion, if in fact discussion is prompted. Sadly, more often an opinion is stated and then either the opinionator is celebrated with warm fuzzy comments or told to piss off and get a life.

Most of us know that it is inappropriate to comment on race or disability but it seems other aspects of appearance are still very much in the firing line.

Last week I was working in a Pharmacy when an elderly customer mistook an 18 year old staff member for one of her colleagues. Upon realising his mistake, the explanation was "Well you are chubby too".

Monday, 14 July 2014

Happy Monday

Oh dear! Another week of the universe being a huge meanie. This time it was the loss of a job (that I was ready for really, a management restructure thing) but the loss of those work-friends has really hit me hard. People that you grow to know so well without actually being close enough to hang out for coffee. I remember details about people's lives, ask after their kids, their parents; and to suddenly not know how J's final exams went or whether A got on OK with her braces has really made me very sad. Plus, I am now officially on a very low income until something else comes bounding around the corner so there may just be a series of 'interesting ways to serve beans on toast' coming up.

The good thing about the tough weeks is that focussing on the happy stuff is a challenge and I do like a good challenge. It is really important though. Most of the time you don't have that much control over the things that happen in your life but, without meaning to sound like a self-help book, you do have control over the way you deal with them and move on. Looking for the moments of joy stops the moments of darkness, crippling self doubt, betrayal and loss from being overwhelming (yep, that has been my week).

Things that made me happy this week:

:: I finally watch "The Grand Budapest Hotel"; heartstring-tugging, hilarious and poignant. Just magical. Visually beautiful too. Just go see it.

:: This amazing chocolate pudding that a friend brought over for dinner. I haven't even edited this picture- just look at the gorgeous natural ooze.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Superlative sipping {The Carlton Wine Room- Review}

When I say 'The Carlton Wine Room' I always have a little swoon in my voice. I lived in Fitzroy when the gorgeous building that houses it, showed signs of new life. I walked past and saw the signs being mounted. I peered through the window at the menu. And then finally, one day, we popped in for a glass of wine. It was exceptional. Yes, the wine, but everything about the place was too- the wine list, the service, the ambience. We kept promising ourselves we would come for dinner one night but, as always, our budget is more in line with a special glass of wine or two and then home for cheese on toast :(

So, finally, three years after it opened, multiple drop-in glasses of wine and dinner promises later, we made it for dinner.

But of course, we had to relish our tradition of sitting at the window table and swooning over a glass of wine first

Did I mention the wine list is exceptional?

Monday, 7 July 2014

Happy Monday

It has been a bit of a mixed bag of a week in Seeking Victory land. There were some truly lovely things as you will see below but also a funeral, illness of loved ones, multiple days in a row of puffy eyes from too much crying, feeling lost and floundering about in the big scary universe. But Happy Monday is all about finding the happy (especially when it seems like it is hiding) so let's dive right in.

Things that made me happy this week:

:: Seeing these little guys. It is winter, and it has been damn cold (significant wind chill!) yet these fellas popped up in a grey day to remind me to smile. They are clearly delusional and all kinds of cray cray but that's Melbourne for you.
rose winter day pink and yellow

Friday, 4 July 2014

Live Your Best Life

This morning I went to the funeral for the mum of a dear friend. I have only been to one other funeral, I realise how lucky I am to be able to say that.

It was conducted by a Catholic priest, Father Bob Maguire, who is quite famous in Australia. Known for his "orthodox, yet unconventional" approach to religion, Father Bob is an exceptional human. At almost eighty years old he is a presenter on youth radio, TV personality, campaigner for the poor, champion of all and he has a good sense of humour about the church (which often gets him into trouble). I say he 'conducted' the funeral because the family aren't religious and didn't want scriptures and bible readings. It was a celebration of The Fighter*, with opportunity for anybody who wanted to share to come forward.

Stories were told of a woman who reached out to people, embraced and cared for all of those in her life, reunited family, helped people back on their feet, worked multiple jobs, made time for volunteer work, participated in charity work, gave generously, bought groceries for ill friends and drove across the city to deliver them. She was sassy, rebellious, the black sheep in the family, a bit of a rev-head, challenger of the status quo.

She rocked the world and made it better.

"But what do we do now?" questioned Father Bob. He asked for volunteers to take her place, to continue her good work. Someone responded "She is irreplaceable". Another nominated The Rock*, but Father Bob told us he didn't accepted conscription:)

The Rock has earnt her stripes. She never stopped believing in her mum, helping her family through the toughest of times, meeting every single challenge (and there were so many) battle-ready. When I embraced her after the service, the first thing she said was "How are you?". The apple didn't fall far from the tree.

When we say "Live your Best Life" a lot of us take it to mean embrace every moment: travel, have fun, be fabulous, eat burgers, climb a mountain, instagram everything, no regrets. These are all important, but I think some us lose sight of the stuff that sticks, I know I do.

Love fiercely, reach out to your community, extend a hand, ask "Are you ok?", look for ways to help others, cherish, practice kindness; this is the best that life has to offer.

So we need volunteers, people who will give back to the world now that The Fighter can't anymore.

I'm raising my hand. Who's with me?

*If you are new to my writing, all the 'characters' in my blog have nicknames to protect their anonymity. 'The Fighter' was chosen because she loved boxing and wrestling matches and battled cancer for over twenty years. 'The Rock' is my friend, who stood by her mum's side the whole time, even as a child; just being amazing.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Prahran Pastry Palace {Abla's Patisserie, Prahran Market - Review}

Last week I was invited to try some of the traditional and new and exciting products at Abla's Patisserie in the Prahran Market. For those of you not in the know, the Prahran Market is Melbourne's Gourmet Market (yes, it deserves the capitals) with some of the plushest seafood, richest meat, freshest veggies and mouth-watering cakes, bakeries and cafes. You do need to check it out.

Now, before I go any further, a quick word on pronounciation. If you aren't from Melbourne it is important that you learn that Prahran is not pronounced poshly, like Prah-rahn, or, you need to pop on your best Aussie twang, flip the sound up into your nasal passages and run the word together. All together now.....Praaahnnn. Good work. Now the locals will understand you when you tell them you are spending the day there.

Back to pastry. I have spoken before about my fostered Greek heritage. I grew up eating baklava. I thought I knew everything there was to know about baklava.

I was wrong.

Baklava has multiple variations depending on the country (wikipedia has an extended explanation) but for the purposes of this review we will focus on the Lebanese approach, spelled baklawa and steeped in rose syrup.

I hope you've had lunch cause this is going to make you hungry.

pastry abla's prahran baklava