Friday, July 30, 2010

Presents from home...

I received a parcel in the post a couple of days ago from my friend, Shannon. It made my day! Even the box it came in sparkled with Shannon-ness! It had my address written in colorful marker and pretty flower stickers on the box. It made me smile because even though it's been ages since I've seen Shannon in person, she is still the beautiful person I remember. In high school, Shan was one of my closest friends. She was the girl who wrote "Live, Love, Laugh" on everything, always went first in 'rebellation order' (don't ask!) because she believed we could do anything and always greeted you with a big smile and a chipper hello. It's been 12 years (yikes!) since we graduated high school and I feel very blessed to still have friends like Shannon a part of my life, even if it is from quite a distance!
Along with lots of butterscotch chips and graham crackers, Shannon also sent me an awesome beach towel! It's a Nova Scotia towel, the province where I'm from in Canada. I'm a very proud Canadian and an even prouder Nova Scotian, so this was just the best gift ever! It's funny when you move to another country, you become the poster child for patriotism! I have never owned so many pieces of clothing, bags, mugs, you name it (!) with 'Canada' boldly printed on it. I don't, however have very many Nova Scotia articles (aside from pillow cases another friend bought me awhile back), so this was just perfect!

A lot of Aussies have been to Canada, but rarely the east coast, where I'm originally from. A conversation I can have almost daily goes something like this...

Them: "Where are you from?"
Me: "Canada".
Them: "Where in Canada?"
Me: "The east coast, Nova Scotia."
Them: "Oh. I've been to Vancouver."

The end. Well, not really, I'm too polite for that but I've yet to meet anyone who knows much about the Maritime provinces! Therefore, I will proudly lay my new beach towel on as many beautiful Aussie beaches as possible:)

I've posted this before but since we're on the topic and I LOVE it, I'm gonna post it again...

If you've never been to the east coast of Canada, you should go! It's very pretty and the people are lovely!

Thanks Shan for the fabulous parcel! You really are the best! xo

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gluten and Dairy free brownies...

As most of you know, I've been following a gluten, dairy, soy and fructose free diet for awhile now. Some of you have commented that you're in the same boat as me, tummy troubles, low energy, etc...and you're also on a pretty limited food diet. I do really well with this way of eating most days, mostly because I'm feeling so much better on the diet and I'm scared to screw it up! However, I still crave a sweet treat sometimes and when I discovered these, I was beyond excited! I modified this recipe to make it dairy free as well as gluten free. For any of you also following a fructose free diet, these have brown sugar, which is a "try" food, as per this chart. They don't seem to bother me, if I only have one or two a day. They are very rich (almost like a fudge), so that's usually all you need to feel satisfied. Here's the slightly modified recipe, in case you want to give them a go! You'll be glad you did!

You will need:
  • 200g unsalted dairy free butter, chopped (In Australia I used Nuttelex, but any vegan butter/margarine would work)
  • 200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I used 70% Lindt chocolate bars)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free plain flour (In Australia I used the Orgran brand)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Line a 5cm deep, 18cm (base) square cake pan with non-stick baking paper. I usually grease the pan first, so the baking paper sticks and stays put.

2. Heat butter, chocolate and sugar in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Add eggs and vanilla to chocolate mixture. Mix well. Sift flour and cocoa over chocolate mixture. Stir to combine.

4. Pour brownie mixture into pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until just set. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, lift out. Wrap in plastic wrap. Place into an airtight container. Stand for 1 day. Cut into pieces. Serve.

I think next time I make these, I will lessen the brown sugar, as I think they would still be quite yummy!:)

The worst thing about these brownies is waiting until the next day to eat them! But, trust me, especially if you've been on a restricted diet, they are well worth the wait! :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Online Sewing Class

I've joined another online course. This one I am really excited about! I've been wanting to take a sewing class for awhile, one that can help me learn new skills and take my sewing to the next level. When I saw this one, I couldn't pass it up! The projects we will be making are listed here and here and each project preview specifies what skills/techniques you will be learning, everything from button holes to reading a pattern. The projects get harder as they go and from having taken one of this girl's classes before, I am confident the directions will be easy to follow. I can't wait to get sewing again and these projects look like they will really suit my style and home! What I like best is that you can work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own little craft room!

Anyone want to join with me? We could be sewing buddies:)

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Sunday morning run...

Yesterday morning Steve and I went on a little 18 km run. I thought I'd join him to keep him company and yell at him to hurry up when he dropped back. "C'mon Dude! My Grandma runs faster than you!", you know stuff like that...
It seemed to work a charm. I think he's a bit scared of me;)
It was so pretty along the Yarra river, I couldn't help but take breaks and snap photos.
Steve wasn't allowed to take breaks. Not on my watch. NOT ON MY WATCH!
Oh, did I mention that I was riding my bike the whole time? Sorry, yeah. See, I get out of breath running to answer the phone! I'm a terrible runner but love a good bike ride. It's the perfect way for Steve and I to exercise together! He runs like the Ironman-to-be that he is and I bike beside him and yell occasionally but only for fun. He's too cute to yell at for real:)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dracula's Cabaret

Last night we joined friends for an evening at Dracula's Cabaret. We had such a great time! The food was surprisingly good and the show was fabulous! Very entertaining from the moment we walked through the door. We weren't allowed to take photos but here is a picture of the picture we had taken as a group:) If you ever get a chance to check out the cabaret, I would definitely recommend it!
Ah, and the dress held up well. My sewing didn't unravel at the seams and all straps held intact!:)

A wonderful night out!

What did you guys do this weekend?

Friday, July 23, 2010


It's winter here in Melbourne but the city doesn't get snow. You can drive a couple of hours into the hills and see snow but a shocking amounts of Aussies have just never gone. Most adults that I chat with have never even seen snow, which I find so strange. So, it's not surprising that most children haven't played in snow either. Today at the outdoor shopping centre, they had a tiny little patch of snow (I'm thinking perhaps from the ice rink they just built nearby) and the children were having so much fun! It brought a smile to my face to see their excitement, some in complete shock at what it felt like. I felt for them though because most of them were dressed for a day shopping with Mom and not for playing in snow. Their little hands looked like they were freezing but they didn't seem to mind! Steve and I are planning a weekend away in the snow in August and after seeing how much fun the kids were having, I can't wait! I want to play in the snow! It's been too long. I will be sure to wear mittens and proper snow gear though. Cold hands are just not my thing!

It gets worse.

Upon closer inspection of my toe since my last post (see below), I've realized that it looks even more disgusting from underneath. Does anyone know what you're supposed to do if you think your toe is broken?

Not a great week...

...for my limbs and toes. After the bike crash last week that left me covered in bruises, I've now managed to break my baby toe. Okay, I'm not sure it's broken, maybe it's just very sprained, but either way it's very sore! I stubbed it so hard on the vacuum yesterday (yes the one that I left lying in the middle of the living room while I went to do something else), that I felt nauseous from the pain. It swelled up to 10 times it's size and turned bright red. It looks a lot less swollen this morning (see pictures) but it's quite badly bruised and hurts like crazy to walk on it!
So, while the bruises on my legs may be better enough (okay, not really, I think they may actually look worse but I'm trying to be optimistic!) for the dress I plan to wear tomorrow night, the pain I feel when I wear shoes doesn't make wearing heels seem like an option. Seriously, is the universe trying to tell me not to go or does it just not want me to wear a pretty dress and strappy heels?!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Yah for doing it myself!

I bought this dress at a thrift shop on Phillip Island months ago when we were there with Steve's Mom and Aunt. It was way too big over the back and I've been meaning to take it to be fitted ever since. I was hoping to wear it this Saturday and finally took it yesterday to be taken it. The lady at the alteration place said that it was meant to have an elastic in the back, which explains why it was so big. She was also going to shorten my straps while she was at it. So, it was just a matter of putting an elastic in the back and taking the straps up a little. She was going to charge me $60. I almost fainted. I don't get many things altered but that seemed excessive, no? I mean I only paid $6 for the dress! I decided it was worth trying to do myself. If I messed it up, it only cost me $6 in the first place and it would be a good way to learn. So, for $1.29 a metre for elastic (of which I only used 35 cm), I managed to do just that. Fix it up, not mess it up, thankfully! I wouldn't want you to look too closely at my stitching but I think I didn't do too bad of a job! It's definitely wearable for Saturday night, it fits quite well now and, in total, the whole dress only cost me $7.29! Yah for thrifted pretty dresses! I'll be taking my camera with me on Saturday, so I'll be sure to post a photo of the dress on at some point!:)

Monday, July 19, 2010


Steve and I are going to a Cabaret night on Saturday night with friends and I'm looking forward to wearing a dress I found at a thrift shop ages ago. I'm really hoping my mountain biking wounds heal by then. Seriously, I look like I've been run over! Not exactly the sexiest legs for a snazzy little dress!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Our adventures in mountain biking...

Steve and I have gone mountain biking the last two Saturdays. It's been really amazing. It feel so good to have the energy back again to do such a thing, although, I am painfully out of shape! My fitness level definitely does not match my enthusiasm but I enjoy it so much, I'm happy go week after week and eventually I know I'll start to see improvement. It's just so relaxing and one of the only activities I do that I don't think about anything but what I'm doing. It's great!
We've been going to Lysterfield Park, where Steve has done his endurance mountain bike races. It's a beautiful park with well groomed trails and lots of kangaroos! Not just the little guys either, we saw some very big gray roos too! We only have our iPhones with us when we go, so pictures of the kangaroos are hard to get because they blend so well in their environment! Can you see that guy in the photo above?
There were actually lots eating grass in this area, so we stopped to watch. I never, ever tire of seeing roos! It's always an amazing reminder of the adventure we're living in Australia!
You can't see the kangaroos in this pic but there was a HUGE one and one with the most adorable baby joey in it's pouch. They're pretty relaxed around people and watch us as much we as we watch them.
Steve is so much fun to ride with. He's very patient (I'm very slow!) and gives me lots of tips on how to do stuff like get over big logs, which just so happens to be one of my favorite things...I love me a good challenge!:) We got very muddy on this ride, which made it all the more fun! I'd love to have an all pink mountain bike, covered in mud, how cool would that be?!
All was a success until...we were riding along the paved road back to the car park. Steve was ahead of me and he was standing up on his pedals. Before I go on, let's just note that I'm a bit clumsy on foot, so me on 2 wheels is even more risky! Anyway, so Steve is riding along and I can't help but think how cute his butt looked. He has a really cute butt! So, I decided to catch up, slap his bum and keep going. He'd never see it coming, it would be great. Well, Miss Uncoordinated Me sped up, got really close, but while concentrating on his butt, I totally misjudged and ran smack into the side of him! Our bikes collided, and before I knew what even happened, we were both laying smack in the middle of the road, our bikes a gigantic tangled mess! I even injured my dear sweet Steve and broke my bike! That's hardcore.
Although, I think my bruises win! hehe:) We actually had a pretty good laugh because Steve says to me, "What were you looking at??" after I collided with him and all I could say was, "Your butt. You have a really cute butt!" Ha! It definitely made for a pretty funny end to our day, although a wee bit painful! I did succeed at one thing though, Steve definitely never saw that coming!

I can't wait to go back next weekend!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A sign?

I've been thinking for awhile now that I would like to work as an Integration/Teacher Aide in a school. I have a real passion for inclusion and have always really enjoyed working with children who have additional needs. A few months ago I did a course (Supporting Children with Additional Needs in Early Childhood Programs) at a university here in Melbourne. I learned a lot in just those 3 days and was full of inspiration. Unfortunately, my energy levels at the time and the entire room of kids I was responsible for made it difficult to make all the things I learned possible for just one or two children. This is one reason why I think I would really enjoy being an aide, where I have more time to help just one child who needs it and put my energy into doing that really well.
Anyway, so when the university sent me my certificate for course completion, they also sent me a pamphlet with other available courses, one of which is an 8 day course to gain a 'Certificate of Education - Integration Aide/Teacher Aide'. I think it would compliment my degree well and honestly, when I did that 3 day course awhile back, I really enjoyed being back in school and learning again. It mixed things up a bit and I liked that. I tucked the info away at the time because I felt way too crappy to even look at it. Today, I thought about it, decided to dig it out and started to do some research...
That's when I noticed the picture in the pamphlet. I thought to myself that it looked like the class I had done and then, I realized it was! I'm in the university pamphlet! It's funny because I was only there for 3 days, yet I look like a settled in full time student, a cranky one at that! Seriously, do I always look that serious? I'm the 3rd person in on the left, by the way. Anyway, I'm all about signs and can't help but think, perhaps it's a sign that I should take the course? After all, I am already in the uni pamphlet, I might as well, don't ya think?;)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Funny how things change...

Just for fun, I looked back on our blog to see what we were doing exactly one year ago today. That's one of my most favorite things about having a blog, it's such a wonderful tool for documenting our memories and adventures! It struck me really funny how much things can change from one year to the next. Last year, we were indulging on thick shakes, chilli fries and hotdogs at an American diner near our house. I was feeling healthy, energetic and I really liked my hair color! This year, I'm on a very restricted food diet, trying really hard to get my energy up and my tummy feeling better. I guess this is exactly why they say to live life to the fullest, because those things we take for granted, like chilli fries and energy, might not always be the norm. Life has lots of ups and downs and remembering the ups during the down times can really help to keep you motivated! I'm trying to remember this as I eat my grapefruit when really, right about now, I'd love to be pigging down a plate of those chilli fries! What were you doing one year ago today?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tonight's Dinner...

...was so yummy! Seriously, eating healthy has never tasted so good! On the menu, grilled barramundi with lemon and a spinach and goat cheese salad. Delicious!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Date Night

Stevie and I had a little date night tonight. Sushi at the sushi train restaurant, a drink at the pub and then Toy Story 3. The perfect date night!
Here's a few pics that I snapped with my iPhone and the super fun "Hipstamatic' app...

Date nights really are the best:)

Friday, July 09, 2010

Jesse is grounded.

I took Jesse to the dog park yesterday and he peed on a guy's leg! In Jesse's defense, he was aiming for a spot on the grass and the guy's leg just happened to be there but he peed on the guy's leg all the same. It was really embarrassing. Please tell me that my dog isn't the only dog who's ever sent a poor guy home early from the dog park because his entire left leg was soaked with dog pee...?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


One of the toughest things about my "feel better way of eating" is not being able to eat bread. I really do love bread. Gluten free bread from the shops almost always contain dairy or soy, so even that hasn't been an option. Then recently while browsing the aisles of the supermarket, reading all ingredients on each and every item I picked up, I stumbled upon 'Orgran Gluten Free Wholemeal Bread' mix. It is dairy and soy free (among many other things!) and bonus...I get to bake it! So, I thought it couldn't hurt to give it a go. I actually put off making it because I was sure it was going to be crap (I mean really, how good can bread be when there's nothing in it???) and my hopes of eating bread ever again would go right out the window. Well, today when I finally made it, I became more optimistic with each passing minute. Yes, the dough was actually rising. Yes, the bread was actually resembling bread in the oven. Yes, it smelled quite good. Yes, it wasn't rock hard when I sliced it. Until, finally, the moment of truth...and yes, it was actually pretty good!!! It was a real treat to eat a slice of warm bread with (dairy free) butter and sip a cup of tea. I think it'll be especially good as toast for brekky in the days to come. I'll definitely be making it again and would recommend it to any poor soul unable to eat bread with everything in it!

Pantry Clean-up!

I really love having a pantry but man, it gets messy in there! The shelves had become a cluttered mess and every time I went in there to get something (which is often!) I felt an overwhelming desire to just move to a new house. I know, I need help. But, moving forces you to get organized and de-clutter! Since moving was clearly not the best option, I decided to just suck it up and get those shelves tidy! These are the before pictures...

And the during shot...I was pretty much wishing I had just chose to 'move house', as the Aussies say, about half way into it!
Jesse wasn't much help, except for when I spilled the coconut and then he gladly helped to clean that up for me.

And 4 hours later, the after photos...
Yeah! I used old baskets that I've had lying around to help organize everything. I have a lot of baking stuff. That whole wire basket thing is pretty much just full of all different types of flour, self-rising, all-purpose, gluten-free self-rising, gluten-free all-purpose, buckwheat, spelt, wholemeal, rice flour, you name it! I don't even know what I bake with all those flours!

I really do love wicket baskets.
Um, I think it's time for me to make a real effort to remember my green bags when I go to the shops. I mean, yes we do use the plastic ones for doogie poop bags, but I'm thinking I could volunteer to clean up poo all day everyday at the dog park and still have plenty to spare!

Cleaning like this really is good for the soul, don't ya think? Now, if only the rest of the house were this organized!

I'll worry about that tomorrow, for now, I think I might go take a little Nana nap...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A lazy lunch.

This is pretty much my go-to-lunch since I started my "feel better way of eating". I reckon I'll call it that since the word 'diet' just sounds scary and strict and scary. Wanna know what's in that bowl of mine? Thought you might! I throw some rice noodles (sometimes just white rice or rice pasta...I like to mix it up!), fresh chopped basil, canned tuna in olive oil blend, grated lemon zest, goat cheese (YUM!) and a little fresh squeezed lemon juice in a bowl, toss and enjoy! Sometimes if I'm feel really adventurous I'll add fresh ground pepper. I know, I can get a little crazy sometimes. It's so easy and everything free (gluten, dairy, soy) and has a low fructose level. Bliss.

In other news, I bought new slipper socks at Big W today, otherwise known as Walmart to anyone living on the other side of the world from me. I'm in love with them (see picture) and have seriously spent time pondering how I can possible never have to take them off again. They are so comfy! More bliss.
I reckon (yes, I've said that twice in one post!) today is a good day! :)

Monday, July 05, 2010

Toller de France

Stage One took the Tour de France from Rotterdam in Holland to Brussels in Belgium, a total of 224km. Early on in the race a dog decided he wanted to cross the road resulting in several riders crashing (see above pic of crash victims) ....

"David Millar and Ivan Basso were caught up in another crash when one of the Tour’s perennial cycling hazards—a dog—decided to cross the road. Millar and Basso were unharmed, although Millar did require some mechanical assistance on his bike and Basso needed new shoes.

The fate of the dog is unknown, although he wasn’t hit by any of the bikes, he almost certainly received a very stern “bad dog!” from an embarrassed owner."

The dog, in fact, was ok, and I was able to find pics of the offending puppy....does he look at all familiar? We're pretty sure its a Duck Toller.

At least it wasn't our Toller causing trouble, for once!...

Steve (bad dog) Dickinson


I haven't been a great blogger these last few weeks, have I? Truth is, I've been very focused on feeling better and this has meant lots of reading and research! I'm being really proactive about my health and learning as much as I can, experimenting and finding what works best for me. I rest, do gentle forms of exercise (walking and yoga) daily, see my chiropractor regularly, take my vitamins, avoid alcohol, etc...but it wasn't until I changed my diet that I really started seeing results. You may have previously read that I started following the Paleo diet. Through keeping a food diary, I closely monitored my symptoms and strangely found that my IBS like symptoms (something I was told I have 3 years ago) actually got worse after eating lots of fruit and vegetables. This was incredibly discouraging, but after talking to a few people at my chiropractor's clinic, I started looking into fructose malabsorption. This is similar to having a lactose intolerance, only your body doesn't process high levels of fructose well. To my surprise, the foods listed as high in fructose (most fruit and lots of veggies, among other things) were all the foods that I seemed to be eating and feeling dreadful afterward. I decided to cut all foods high in fructose out of my diet, along with the gluten, dairy and soy (which I've already known I'm sensitive to). This chart has been like a bible to me! Seriously, that very day, I started feeling more myself again than I have in months and it's only been better with each new day. This is only day 4 of eating this way and I have had no IBS symptoms, a clear head (I feel like I've come out of a fog), stable emotions and more energy than I have had in ages. I haven't even needed a nap in the last few days. It's amazing! I'm hoping this lasts, but for now I feel like I've made great progress on my road to better health! I have no idea why, it makes so much sense, but the impact your diet has on your health continues to amaze me!

Thursday, July 01, 2010


I baked cookies this week with my lovely neighbor, Emma. She came over and we whipped up a huge batch of sugar cookies. We patted and rolled it...
...and marked it with a "B"...okay not really, but we did make a big mess!
I finally got to use my Canadian animal cookie cutters I bought recently at Ikea (squirrel, fox, moose, bear, etc...) Just in time for Canada Day! Happy Canada Day, by the way!
I made Emma take the cookies home or else I'd be tempted to eat them all...they were very yummy!

Baking with a buddy is even more fun than baking alone! Fun times!:)