Things that shit me… #16

Things that shit me…

People who can’t wait patiently in queue BEHIND ME.

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Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash

Yeah, you thought I’d been gone a while with my disposition to get revved up the wall by unsuspectingly stupid people. Ohhh, don’t worry, the stupidity is still rife.

And the annoyances are still damn well irritating as hell.

Like today at the Tesselaar Tulip festival. The day was beautiful and the flowers were spectacular as I expected, but one thing that got to me today…

The people who can’t seem to wait their turn in queue.

SEVERAL TIMES I was waiting for something, making an order or waiting to pay for a drink, and then suddenly I would feel something or someone breathing down my neck.

I would turn slightly and see they were practically resting their chin on my shoulder in their extreme impatience to get served.

Like, wait your bloody turn! We are all here trying to get fed/satiated/made happy by the services, just bloody well calm the F down and step away from me!

UGH! Personal space required much? Man these people are shit!

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Baby girl says the darndest things #2

She is role-playing. In particular Frozen. Specifically, she is Elsa, and Hubbie has to play the role of Hans.

Baby girl tells him that Hans has to ask Elsa to marry him (no where does this happen in the movie, but you know, imagination).

Hubbie: “Please, Queen Elsa, will you marry me?”

Baby girl: “No!”

Hubbie: “Please Elsa, but I love you.”

Baby girl: “Hans, I don’t like to marry you… You’re shit.”

Oh how I LOL’d! If everyone just spoke their minds like this, Disney movies would be fair simpler, and A LOT different…

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A Royally great time

The Royal Hotel
770 Esplanade Mornington

(Visited March ’17)

Minutes before we were due to head out of the house that Tuesday night for dinner, we looked out the window… and saw a storm about to unleash. The weather report had warned of extreme weather and rain, and the south-east was about to cop it, BAD. We stood there, already dressed, asking ourselves “Should we just stay in?” Was it worth going out when the weather was going to be so terrible – hell, even dangerous to drive in?

But then, we realised what we were saying. I mean, what, the weather was going to hold us back? Since when? No bloody way. Besides, we were locals now. We’d be in the car, driving an average of 40ks, for 5 minutes, tops.

So how lucky we were then, to arrive at The Royal Hotel and find a park right out the front. Try to get us now Rain.

Although a neighbour to Kirks and also on the Esplanade, both establishments sharing amazing bay views, the feel of the Royal Hotel is completely different. And understandably, why would they want to modernise the place when its history holds such Royal ties? Inside it is all white with seemingly freshly-painted interiors, however unlike the sweeping views from Kirks of a full-length windowed wall allowing uninterrupted views from almost wherever you sit, here at the Royal the windows were small, possibly the same as they had always been, and though from there you could also see out towards the bay, you really had to be near them to get that beautiful view.

Intricate ceiling and wall detail, arches, and pillars that separated the left side of the room from the right: both sides that appeared to have been former large living quarters, with a large bar in the centre towards the right of the room, and a staircase leading up from the centre, this hotel had been transformed with a recent facelift, but the old-style feel remained, and it oozed character. You could just see how this place had been in existence over a century ago, at a time of horse and carriage, and adding to this vibe was one more, fairly prevalent thing: the musty smell.

It actually smelt like an old hotel. But not in a rotting, outdated, unclean way. It smelt earthy, original, and very very cool.

The hotel was renamed to its current name after a visit from Queen Victoria’s second son Prince Alfred. Remaining a site of enjoyment for some of the finest members of ‘societe’ over the years, it is clear to see this reflective in the current day interior retaining old-world charm, and why it has continued to hold onto its strong and proud ties to its noble past.

The hotel shows its age with its great, expansive spaces, something I learnt soon after as I took baby girl to the bathroom… on the way there and to your left, is the open-view kitchen that allows you to look in and see the chefs at work. And in the bathroom itself, old-world grandiose continues in the little details, fixtures and fittings, with large amenities too. New hotels are not the size that these magnificent pieces of history are. You can tell this is an old, old building, in the most fabulous and appreciative of ways.

The hotel is open 365 days a year and as well as having rooms for accommodation, it also has the fine restaurant we dined at that Tuesday evening in March.

We were showed to a table that wasn’t in front of the ‘bay’ window, but we could see out through it still from our distance… instead we had a window that showed out the side towards Kirks, and it was nice to see that while we were deliciously snug, it was rainy out.

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I had called that day to see if we needed to book ahead, and I think being a non-peak season period the man suggested it was ok if we just ‘rocked up’ as I would say, or ‘arrived,’ as he probably would.

We were brought menus and ordered our drinks, but realised fairly soon after our French-looking waiter disappeared for a while, that we actually had to go up to the counter and pay and order for ourselves.

We got beer and a Kuku Pinot Noir to start

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while baby girl entertained herself with some pencils and colouring paper brought over by French-man. It was fairly quiet at this stage, so it felt super library-like, and I was super-freaking out over any outbursts baby girl would make. More on that later.

After not too long a wait (there weren’t many people there so it was to be expected) we received our meals:

Baby girl’s Crumbed chicken strips with fries & vegies

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Hubbie got the Murray Valley Port cutlet, mash potatoes, green beans, walnut & parsley salsa with red wine jus

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While I got the Malaysian chicken curry, jasmine rice & roti bread

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So I’ll start with baby girl, and her meal was fantastic. I was really pleased to see something other than the usual chicken and chips on her plate, and it was vegetables! And green ones at that! When provided with chips I know she will prevail on that, but she is a good eater and at home she eats her vegies… so when given the option, she will graze slightly, and so she did that night. She ate the chips and chicken alright, but she also had her broccoli, and that just makes any Mum happy. The food on offer was real, and didn’t look like crappy offcuts or leftovers, so that made me doubly happy.

Hubbie enjoyed his Pork cutlet, and it showed in how clean the plate was on removal… the only thing that wasn’t to taste was the red wine jus, he thought the marinade had burnt, as there was a slightly off-putting taste to it. If it weren’t for that, top marks from that fussy butcher Hubbie of mine.

And, leaving the best ‘til last… my meal was amazing. The highest honours, if only for that. The chicken was falling apart, it was succulent and soft and delicious. The jasmine rice in the banana leaf I believe, was very appealing and looked great, and then there was that roti bread. Drool. Oh man, if this is what all roti bread tastes like, I HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT. Of course the next roti bread I have elsewhere will not be up to scratch, I guarantee. But this roti bread was warm, puffed up, stretchy and soft. We all had some, I actually don’t know why I decided to share it as much as I did… maybe it was because I wanted to share my sudden intense love for roti bread… but they all concurred with me that it was definitely mmm-worthy.

I cleaned up my plate, easily.

Dinner had been yummo. I would have gladly stayed on for dessert, but for some reason baby girl just wasn’t working with us, and the other diners were now looking over… grrr argh. Great food, but snob-central. That night at least, we would have to give coffee and cake a Rain-check, so to speak.

Food: 9.5/10. Sensational. Fresh and delicious.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: Quiet, library-like when there are not many diners present. You can feel the character of the hotel and so silence is almost necessary to sit and soak up the chapters of history that have unfolded there.

Staff: We really only dealt with French-man, and he was fine, very concerned about doing his job properly, ‘to the book.’ But good.

People: We didn’t come across many. There was an old gentleman dining on his own who left before we did; a few couples beside the long-desired for window seats; and towards the end of our meal a rowdy American family sat near us, and this made me happy as their business and family talk almost blocked out any of the noises that baby girl was sporadically exploding with. I say almost, because she was still loud, and there was a couple, what looked like a 30-something woman with a 50-something man, who gave us ‘looks,’ staring pointedly when baby girl would yell out. Well, you all know how happy I am about ‘looks.’ I gave her a really good one as we exited the hotel, making sure she caught full well my intention… her rudeness and the library-vibe was the only thing that made the night difficult, as even though there is a kids meal section, and colouring and pencils for the kids, well unless they are in a straight-jacket, I don’t know quite how accepted they are there…

Price: $95ish for the lot. For 3 meals, and 3 drinks. The prices were slightlyon the upside, but the food was most definitely worth every delicious morsel I mean coin.

Advice: Book ahead if you want to sit by the window. Order the Malaysian chicken curry (you won’t be sorry). Maybe go at a peak time if you don’t want to deal with snot-faced moles when your child decides to you know, have a voice, and just generally be a child. F*&k me.

In a nutshell: I really loved this place, as Hubbie did too. The character and the food both won us over, but I wouldn’t hurry back (even though the Malaysian chicken is calling me), only because I am afraid of the too-quiet ambience and how that gels with a generally rambunctious and full-of-life baby girl.

I do highly recommend it to anyone else thinking of giving it a go, as I think the food and the atmosphere are something unique to be experienced. Stepping over the threshold where a royal has, is reason enough.

*UPDATE*

A year later, and back we went. And guess what? This is my new fave. The food yet again, amazing. And the alternative to possible snobby people inside?

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Sit outside. Ahhh.

The Royal Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Things that shit me… #15

Things that shit me…

People that get my coffee order wrong… and then give me ‘squinty eye.’

No, I am not an unforgiving, bitch-face, rigid, uncompromising, cold person who doesn’t realise people can get things wrong.

We are all human. I get things wrong too.

But when someone makes an error, and makes it out to be my fault… and it collides with one of my loves, coffee…

WATCH OUT.

Today I ordered at the café I always get my afternoon coffee at when I have a late shift at work. I walked in, an easy 20 minutes before starting time, happy that today, unlike other days, I wouldn’t be rushing. I was on time. I was even, if you can say, early.

I placed my usual coffee order of ‘medium cap with one’ with a newish-looking lady there, and then stood back to wait. It was 50 cents dearer today, but who knows, maybe the price had gone up in the few weeks since I had last had an afternoon shift.

The barista, who was not new, looked up at me, with some slight hesitation when she called out a coffee order only moments later.

I heard her say ‘cap,’ and ‘one sugar,’ but what was that other nonsense? I moved closer.

“Almond milk cappuccino with one sugar?”

I shook my head.

“No, I ordered a medium cap with one sugar.”

The newish woman was behind her, and hearing the exchange, made a confused, squinty, almost “okkkkaaaaayyyy nnnnoooooowwwwww!” face as the barista spilt out the whole almond milk cap, only to start again.

Almond milk cappuccino lady? I had ordered a medium cappuccino! She had mis-heard me, and as I watched, continued to keep this confused, squinty look on her face the whole time, as the barista recommenced my order.

I kept staring at her. This squinty-faced newish lady did not look at me. She didn’t call out a ‘sorry-for-the-inconvenience-of-waiting-for-another-one-in-lieu-of-my-f&%k-up’; she didn’t even smile apologetically. She just stood there in the background, watching the barista fix her mistake, without so much as an acknowledgement to me.

And when my ‘med cap with one’ was called out, I confirmed it definitely was that, before adding “I paid $5.00 for my coffee, do I need to get any money back?”

The barista nodded she would fix it up, and asked squinty-faced newish lady to go get me my 50 cents. And then walking over, she handed it to me, without so much as anything remotely offering consolation on her part. I said “thanks,” when really I wanted to thank her by removing that ill-placed confusion from her face.

She stuffed up my order, AND didn’t care to give me my money back?

I don’t expect the right royal red carpet of apologies when someone gets something wrong. I don’t expect them to mutter sorry repeatedly under their breath either. Nor do I think they should be kissing my feet and begging for my forgiveness.

All I am asking for is recognition and accountability. When someone can’t even give a small “whoops, sorry, my bad!” and a wave of their hand, and still they make me feel like it was ME…

Sorry, I’m OUT. When you get shit service like that, don’t be surprised when people walk… Looking for a new coffee place, because…

When people get my coffee wrong and aren’t even sorry for it, that really SHITS ME.

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#MeToo

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual allegations that have recently come out, a recurring thread has been popping up on social media.

#MeToo

It stands to encourage and empower women, by providing them with a voice to speak up now amidst the majority of women speaking out everywhere. This two-word hashtag is giving woman a platform to say “enough is enough.” A platform that is supposedly safe. A platform where supposedly judgment does not live.

 

I read an online comment the other day, posted by a male, who wrote that 50% of the blame lies with sexual harassment victims – basically if you dress provocatively, you need to be accountable for what will happen to you.

I cannot tell you how much I was infuriated by that bastard. He deserves all the Hate, Karma and horrible consequences of his unsightly accusations, and I hope he gets it three-fold. A woman can wear WHATEVER she chooses. She can do and go and be seen however she likes, because at the end of the day, if she says “no” to sexual advances, her opinions and choices need to be respected.

No buts. No excuses. No ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ cards.

She has red nailpolish? No means No.

She has blonde hair? No means No.

She has a tight dress? No means No.

She is flirty? No means No.

She fell asleep? No means No.

She is unconscious? No means No.

She said Yes before, but now she’s changed her mind? No means No.

Having the immature excuse of “she is teasing him in that dress,” is the most incomprehensibly weak excuse. It paints men as an immature, childish race, a race that cannot be held accountable for their actions since they apparently ‘can’t help themselves.’

(The female race has been dealt with the word ‘No’ for centuries now for not being as ‘strong’ as their male counterparts, and we’re still somehow surviving).

It paints men out to be like children. We say “they are learning” when our children draw on the walls, accidentally spill drink on the floor, and drop that ornament that has been in the family for years. They are learning, because they don’t know better. They are making accidents as they grow, and as they make their way through life. They are learning action leads to consequences, and so on.

A man forcing himself onto a woman, is not a lesson to be learnt. A man forcing himself onto a woman is NOT an accident.

NO means NO.

It is sad that despite years and years of sexual harassment, only now are women in the entertainment industry coming out and sharing their story. It is sad that there are other women in this field, saying it happens EVERYWHERE.

It is sad that women are expected to endure sexual harassment, and have to turn a blind eye, because ‘guys are just being guys.’

Like, No, these aggressors are not just ‘being guys,’ they are being DICKHEADS.

In the past week or so, as I started to see people I know posting the above hashtag on social media, some even commenting on scenarios they have been in, I started to think of myself and my life, and any incident of a sexual harassment nature that had made me upset, or scared to speak up.

I had to think for a while. Not because some incident happened years ago and it was something I had pushed to the back of my mind. No, I had to think, because I didn’t know where to start.

It’s a continual never-ending blur, the stuff we women must put up with. Incidences that occur in our day-to day-lives, the way we feel when we step out of the house alone, the thoughts that run through our minds, the scenarios of possible threatening situations, and the way we as women have been programmed to think, to be wary of all men, has now become an everyday normal thought process, something we don’t think twice about, and yet something that has merged all our unfortunate nightmares into one to make the opposite sex a feared one.

I have memories of dancing with my friends out at the nightclubs, and having guys tap you on the shoulder, push into your dancing space, or try to grab you not-so-conspicuously on the dancefloor. And when you tell them “stop” or show no interest, or turn away… they would get upset. A guy who I have never met before in my life, got upset I didn’t let him touch me, and he didn’t even know my name.

And knowing my name does not give him a reason to do it either.

Rule 1: why do you think girls go to the toilet together? Safety in numbers.

Sorry dude. Apparently me dancing with my girlfriends means I OWE YOU MY BODY.

There are the stares. The leers and the whistles. The way you walk past a group of guys, and their quiet lingering is unsettling as you pass them by. The deafening silence as they stare you down, their heads following as you disappear behind them, screams in your ears.

It is the day-to-day uncomfortableness. It is there ALL the time.

2. Don’t look a male stranger in the eye. It ‘encourages’ them. 

Do you know what I read today? An Egyptian lawyer has come out to say that women who wear ripped jeans deserve to be raped. In fact, it is a man’s cultural obligation to do so to women, because they are teaching them ‘self-respect.’

This is what is being said in this day, in this age. A man is publicly speaking and encouraging other men to do their duty and ‘take care’ of the women, who by wearing slits in their jeans as a fashion statement, are apparently not looking after themselves.

Rule 3: Do not live life freely. Do not for one second think you can live like a man and not get in trouble for it. Your sex will catch up to you.

I was followed once. I was followed after departing from a train station on a Friday night. The guy was breathing down my back, following me back to the car park until he realised Hubbie was waiting for me there – he then abruptly veered off and stood amongst some trees before back-tracking and making his way to the train station, undoubtedly to look for his next victim.

I can’t imagine what would have eventuated if I had not had someone there waiting for me. I shudder to think of all those girls who make their way home from work, from school, from being out with their friends, and DON’T have the luxury of someone waiting for them on the other side.

This makes me so sick.

There are not only 3 rules. The ongoing rules of life as a woman, are to avoid all kinds of male interaction EVER, in all of your day-to day activities, and ensure you avoid at all costs any alone time with a stranger man. With a man. Because you NEVER KNOW.

It’s the disparaging remarks in the workplace. Men can get away with making fun of the female form, vagina jokes and lesser-sex putdowns, but can you imagine if a woman poked fun at a man’s temperamental dick? At his sensitive testicles? About how at the beach, all of his manhood is on show?

Do you think us as women, would get the sack? Of course we would. And yet men are getting away with sexual discrimination of all kinds, of favouring one sex for promotions and jobs and opportunity, and let’s not forget the never-ending equal-pay dispute, the constant reminder that a woman still IS lesser than a man while at work, doing the exact same job.

It’s telling your Hubbie not to get odd-job house quotes when he is at work. It’s the unease about being in a house alone with a man you have never met before and having that nagging thought in the back of your head “what if?”

It is choosing to wear ‘safe’ clothing, because you will not be noticed.

It is bowing your head down low as you walk so as to not meet any lingering eyes.

It’s the world-wide excuse of acceptance, normalising the behaviour, and enabling it from incompetents such as the Egyptian lawyer, who added that his own daughter should be raped if she too, wore ripped jeans.

And after all of this, and so many more incidences that fail to come to mind because I have been programmed like the rest of women in society to ‘get used to it,’ I also say

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#MeToo.

Me Too. This has to stop.

 

Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

 

Things that shit me… #13

Things that shit me…

Drivers who speed up when you need to get in their lane.

I mean, I was in an area, a road I don’t use often. I had google maps to help me, but still, when I saw I was soon turning right, I didn’t also realise at that stage I could have stayed in my current lane, as 3 lanes were turning right.

I saw the little white, bullshit car speeding up, coming up fast from behind me. I know I jumped in front, but I swear it wasn’t a dangerous manoeuvre…

…The little shit box stayed close, clearly pissed that I had gotten in front of them, despite my indicator, despite their speed, and BEEPED!

I saw the driver in my rear-view mirror, motion left and right, and I was like “geez dude, you’re kidding me right?”

I put a hand up, in a motion of “sorry” and CALM THE FUCK DOWN.”

They went back to their soap box, and I sat there. Silently fuming. 

Because although I had jumped in front of them, I had felt I had no choice at the time.

And they, despite my driving manners (i.e. clear indicator), decided I shouldn’t be let in.

The mother-f%^er sped up.

I wondered:

Would that driver be the type of person to push in at the supermarket check-out in front of an elderly hobbling grandfather, or a struggling Mum with screaming kids?

Would that driver be the type of person to take the last piece of shared cake from the work communal kitchen, and then whinge that it was all gone?

Would that driver be the type of person to take their dog for a walk, and let it shit on someone else’s lawn AND NOT PICK IT UP?

Would that driver be the type of person to complain loudly of anyone making noise in a movie theatre, and yet continue to receive loud notifications and calls from their phone?

Would that driver be the type of person to complain of beetroot in their burger, even when they clearly had seen the menu description and don’t even like it in the first place?

Yep. Yep, that driver is probably ALL of those things.

Shit people.

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Photo by Kevin Lee on Unsplash

Umpteen reasons why you should LOVE Winter

It hit me one Saturday morning during a work shift, as I left the warm confines of my place of employment to walk down the road and grab a coffee. Feeling that fresh air, that Winter chill on my face, reminded me of the time I felt it last year, and suddenly I was down memory lane, remembering the things about Winter you choose so hard to forget when it is done and dusted for the year.

So, then, I tried harder to remember. What fascinates me about this time of year, is that once it is upon us, it’s actually not that bad. It’s the anticipation of it – that is the shits, and one of the major factors of making the entire season that much more unbearable.

Hey, calm down… I’m not like, a ‘Winter ambassador’ or something! I am the first to put up my hand and forge ahead with the get-rid-of-Winter fan club. I wouldn’t say I HATE it, since that is a strong word, that I HATE to use (see what I did there?) but I do in fact, detest the coldest of seasons to a degree that once the longest day has come and gone in January, I am in slow grief over the gradual dissemination of Summer.

But like I said above: it ain’t too bad. I’ve been most surprised by my own attitude towards it, in finding that there are actually plenty of great things to enjoy, and celebrate, about the coldest time of the year! You don’t say! Let me hear it! Well ok then, here is my list of things to get your blood boiling…

(And don’t fret, this isn’t one of those bullshit ‘buy a really good coat and scarves’ nonsense post. We all know that we need more than layers to make up for the fact of Winter, duh).

1. But First, Coffee.

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And so one of my fave coffee quotes signals the beginning of this Winter Warm-up list. When else to drink, and enjoy coffee most, than in Winter? Not only does the caffeine hit give you a burst of much needed non-hibernating energy, but it is WARM, and therefore, heats you up from the inside-out. This is a super simple and accessible way to keep you happy, buzzing and hot, ALL DAY LONG. Make it at home, or buy it out and about… really, this one is a no-brainer.

 

2. To café, OR, to café…

And, how to get to your hot coffee? Why, you enter a café of course. Just picture it: you are in the freezing winds, walking briskly to your café of choice so as to remove yourself from the unnerving elements, when you finally, step inside, and –

Ahhh. That moment.

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You know that moment, when the feeling of cold is replaced by the scent of coffee beans, and you are away from the outdoors, but can still see everything including all the fools still stuck out in the real world? And you’re ‘in here?’ and about to get a coffee? Yeah that’s great. Café-ing it, not just for coffee, but for anything in Winter – be it brekkie, lunch or any other fare – is a beautiful way to while away the day. Choose a good one, a cosy spot, and watch the world go by… just see if you don’t feel better about Winter when you put yourself in this supreme predicament…

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3. Walk This Way…

On a contradictory note, on those cold and still Wintery days, sometimes it can be somewhat, what is the word, rejuvenating! to take a nice long walk.

Yes, the air can be biting. Yes, the cold will still seep through your clothes. But there’s something about a fresh, freezing-cold walk that awakens the senses, both physical and mental, as it is often when I am walking in the cold that my creative mind is switched on. I don’t know why, but a brisk walk in Winter allows me to daydream and plan for any future blog posts (how this one came about) much more efficiently than in Summer. Maybe it’s the fact that other than getting into a heated area immediately, there is no other thought trying to take up head space like it does in Summer, where I would be planning future events and social gatherings, and the things I’ll be doing for the next 3 weekends. In Winter, it’s just Winter, and my creative thoughts are allowed to fly beside the recurring thought of ‘get inside.’

I don’t like to be in the cold, and yet a walk like this brings about a whimsical dreamlike effect to my walk, where I find myself observing, being in the moment, and smiling often. I’m not wishing myself out of this hellhole, I’m just smiling. I’m not trying to prove a point… Next.

4. Stay IN

Although I absolutely love Summer, there is one thing that gets tiring by the end of the season: the constant go-go-go. Summer makes you feel like you have to be super-efficient and on top of the world, heading to every social event, enjoying every ounce of sunshine, waking at the crack of dawn, and starting a new body-building course when you’re not preparing your new gluten-free, dairy-free, animal-free, everything of any joy or texture or enjoyment-free diet. It is FULL on.

But Winter allows you to just chill. Hibernate like a bear, and in doing so, drink all the hot chocolate/tea/coffee before doing so. If there is any season where you should feel the least guilt about doing nothing, and where you should completely and utterly embrace the act of doing absolutely nothing, it is Winter. It’s okay, you will be at it again in a couple of months time…

5. Pimp up your home

But, if you absolutely HAVE to, you could always forgo sitting around and chilling on the couch, with doing something around the house. Just as our sanity and ‘me time’ gets neglected in Summer, so too does the house, and house ‘stuff.’ You know those odd jobs. The broken door handle. The 3rd light bulb that has been burnt out in the lounge room for 4 months. The pile of boxes that hasn’t been broken down into pieces. That heap of junk in your garage that you know a charity would love, but alas, Summer time.

In Winter, it is ALL possible. Case in point. We had bought new door handles from Bunnings to replace our old ones, as we wanted to spruce up the 80s-style house we had recently moved into. They remained untouched for months and months, ALL THROUGH SUMMER, and it was only when the cold hit, that Hubbie finally started replacing them.

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Winter is the best time to look outward-in. Look around you and see what needs a little TLC, and then proceed accordingly. Home improvements, up-dos, renos – whatever it is, you will feel soooo much better for it, and not at all like a lazy bear once you are done.

6. Go OCD, mofos

And for those of you like me, that love to sort and clean and organise… well, what are you waiting for? Use these cold months to file away. File to your freaking hearts content. Label and shelve and box. Store those photos in chronological order, organise your home family videos, and clean up your menu folder so that you don’t have crappy old recipes in there that you won’t even sniff at again. There is no better feeling then tackling a long, put-off job, and I swear, as Winter ends and Spring begins, the sense of accomplishment you feel in knowing everything is sorted and ready for another season/year… GOLD. GO you OCD peeps, GO!

7. Jump!

Ok, so this is kinda parent-specific. But, you don’t need to be a recently-acquired trampoline owner for a cheeky monkey princess like I have, to jump. You probably do need a child of some kind, so if you don’t have any of your own, borrow one – like you probably have a niece, or nephew, or know someone who would LOVE for you to kindly offer their brood a day out? (You will be on their Christmas card list FOREVER, I promise you).

But my point is, be childlike. Jumping is not only fun, good for you, and is healthy (hey, exercise), but it warms you up too! And if you think jumping is only for kids – 20 seconds on the thing and you will remember what a jumping extraordinaire you used to be 20 or so years ago… and then it will be the kid trying to get you off the trampoline, not you, them.

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8. A good book

So, a no-brainer. Totally. But when else is it more acceptable and necessary to snuggle up with a book and lose yourself within its pages? Never, ever, EVER. Even on holiday, you should be doing things and seeing things, but at home, in Winter? Perfect reading weather.

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Whether it’s at home, on your lunch break, or on the train, waiting for your doctors appointment (that brisk walk/jumping probably gave you a little cough, ahem*) or at the park while the kiddies play, there is really no better time to invest in a good book.

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9. SLEEP

So a totally acceptable place to read is in bed, but if you’d rather not even do that, you can just sleep. I know this is such a ‘Duh, Fred’ point, but still, it HAS TO be said. Fred.

Sleep ’til your big hearts content. Of course this is totally dependant on whether you have a paying job or go to regular schooling (most of the Western population), but in your down time, this is a perfectly acceptable hobby. Yep. Even if you have kids that don’t let you breathe, just pull them in, throw a blanket over your heads, and once the hilarities have died down, watch them fall into a slumber. You will be there too soon, don’t worry.

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Sleep on the bed, sleep on the couch… wherever you wish. Just make sure it’s comfy and inviting, there are plenty of blankets, and a real nice place to rest your head. Ahhhh.

10. Shop ’til you Drop

Let’s change tack and ramp it up a little, to my favourite past-time! Like seriously, how annoying is it in Summer, when you need some new clothes/shoes/pillows/coffee beans, and you head into the confines of a multi-level shopping centre, but it’s a stunning, and I mean STUNNING day out? You don’t want to miss out on that, and stay indoors most of the day? This is so especially true for us Melburnians, as sunshine, even in Summer of all seasons, can be soooo fleeting.

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But in Winter? Hell, bring the shopping on! You won’t miss out on ANYTHING because its so cold and miserable out! YAY. Shop to your hearts content, in fact, shop for all seasons, and stay ahead of the pack.

11. Work it out 

Ok, so I know some of you might wanna swipe me over this one, as I am known for finding gratitude in the most wide-ranging of places… but I tell you, work really IS better when it’s cold. I mean, just look at the below:

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How miserable is the above photo? Okay well it is oddly pretty in the dim light, but you know what I mean… I am not really missing out. It’s taken from my work window… do I wanna go outside? Hell no!

Work is actually not too bad, and you can almost be grateful to be in the confines of work, when it is so shit-faced outside. You will never be sad being at work during Winter, unless of course you had to get up at 5am like me, and are staring out the kitchen window at 7am thinking of Hubbie and baby girl asleep and warm in bed… damn.

TRY to be grateful for work while you can, in Winter, at the very least.

12. Let’s go to the beach

Your welcome. Ok so maybe not Summer-thumping-beach-vibes weather at the mo, but you know where I’m headed.

This may be a bit left-of-centre for some, but for me being fortunate enough to live BY the beach, not so. But either way, a trip to the beach is for most in our fair country, accessible and do-able.

Why should you do it, you cry? Cold, winds, uninviting waters…

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What do you think? I’m not telling you to jump in. No, hell no. I’m just saying that the ocean views bring about a sense of calmness, of peace, of reflection, and retrospection, and the waters don’t even have to be still and unrippled. No. They are in fact most beautiful and spectacular when they are savage, wild and unleashed, ripping against the shore or pier or rocks, and showing you the brutal nature of Mother Earth herself.

Rug up and try it. See how your mind feels afterwards.

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13. Do something NEW

While you’re out and about at the beach, how’s about you keep trying new things, and enrol in a course of some kind. (Like not literally walk down the road, just think about it). Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Like maybe, learn a new language? Try your hand at some knitting? Learn how to cook like a chef? Drive a manual car? For some creative pursuits, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home – just log in and you’re connected.

Doing something you’ve been wanting to do for a while is not just fulfilling, as you are catering to yours truly, yourself, but you are putting yourself out there in a vulnerable position. Only when you are vulnerable, can you really learn anything. Since everything is on the down-low in Winter, there is no time like the present to focus in on yourself, and give something new a go. Time to study, reflect on where you want to go in life, and centre yourself both spiritually and mentally, is the perfect cold-time creative pursuit. Just try. You won’t lose a thing.

14. Cook up a storm! 

While doing something new, you may want to try your hand at some new recipes.. or old, whatever tickles your fancy. But what I love about this coldest of seasons, is the deliciously warm dishes to match. Or should I say, warm you right up. Whether it be a vegetable curry

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a cauliflower soup

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or some yummy baked goods

there is nothing quite so inviting on a cold Winter’s night, than to indulge in warming, delicious and comforting, Winter-specific foods. Slow-cooked meals, lasagnes, roasts… the list goes on and on and on. And the upside? When you are buying Winter-y things like cauliflower for your soup, you are buying in season, so it is cheaper! Winning 🙂 Go foodie mad.

15. Catch up with some old ‘friends’

Now, I don’t mean ACTUAL friends, and boy would it be appropriate here if I actually  loved the show of the same name. Instead I’m talking of your movies and your DVD box sets. Plop yourself in a comfy place, and get ‘re-acquainted.’ I feel forever-guilty whenever I sit on the couch – I always feel like I should be doing something more worthy, more important, and being a Mum makes the feelings more so. This is an activity I rarely indulge in.

But this Winter, I am really going to take it on board… and what better way to feel better about the blowing winds outside, than to be laughing/crying/hysterically shaking, over the antics of some old faves.

You don’t even have to have the DVDs. Shows like Sex and the City are on repeat on TV, there are streaming devices, and have you heard of Netflix? People even ‘download’… I’m not condoning it, I’m just saying, ok?

It’s never been easier to catch up with, or watch a brand new series to get stuck into. Need tips? Some of my old faves:

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The above mentioned, my fave gal pals. “Abso-fucking-lutely” amazing.

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Angel. An amazing series that is 5 seasons long, and is totally worth investing your life into. Get ready to have your soul literally ripped apart, thanks Joss Whedon (no really, thank you!)

Dawson’s Creek is actually on free-to-air Go! at the moment. My face when I realised this? Bliss 🙂  I know it’s a teenage show, but it’s one of my ol’ faithfuls, and besides, the actors were probably my age when they filmed it, so….

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my current must-watch on TV, Shark Tank. This is splendid in every way. Seeing the investors rip through and tear to shreds some of the up-and-coming entrepreneurs and inventors, is just brilliant. You must watch this show.

So grab a warm drink, snuggle up on the couch (child or partner is optional) and chill-ax….

16. Bust a move.

Exercise. I know I know, it’s not bikini time, and it’s probably the only time of the year when there is no pressure to be beach-ready… but it doesn’t mean you can’t devote time to yourself to be healthy.

Still not sold? You don’t even have to leave the house. There are a world of gyms, gym classes, personal trainers, and get-fit programmes out there, and there as just as many exercise DVDs! Find what tickles your fancy, and do it in the privacy of your own home.

Do as I do, and pop on some trakkies, put on that old Zumba DVD, and get dancing! Exercise gets you going and warms you up at a time when it is so easy to be sluggish and sloth-like. And you know what I was so surprised to find? Even one session a week (baby steps) has given me increased flexibility and energy to run after a certain 3 year-old rascal. True story.

17. A ‘warming’ drink

I couldn’t bulk ‘warm drinks’ with ‘coffee,’ as coffee is just too damn important to me to be watered down like that… but I conclude with the option, that if you don’t like coffee, maybe tea is more your fancy?

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Or maybe a spicy chai latte can rub you totally up the right way

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No? Vino? There’s nothing like a good glass of red to get the fires burning

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Wanna get more creative? I give you, a combination of the last two options, Gluhwein…

https://www.chowhound.com/recipes/german-mulled-wine-gluhwein-30925

Which is German Mulled Wine. It’s a whole lot of fabulous spices and wine/alcohol, warmed up, and you will create some GREAT memories in the making and drinking of it, let me assure you.

If you can’t be happy with a glass of wine/mug of tea/brew of gluhwein, while the winds are raging outside your window, well then YOU CAN’T BE SAVED!

 

So, how did I go? Have I given you renewed (or maybe just NEW) inspiration to totally LOVE Winter? We may be about half-way through the coldest of seasons, but living in Melbourne, we ALL KNOW it’s going to totally screw us up right up ’til November, if we’re lucky.

So guys. Pick a point and get to it. If you think I’ve left anything out, drop me a line!

(I say as I finish off a warm mug of tea…)

 

 

Things that shit me… #12

Things that shit me…

People who stare at you when your child is going off their head.

Mole-customer from Chocolat café in Mornington, I’M TALKING TO YOU.

So, unless you are a parent yourself, you might not know, that it is often REALLY, REALLY hard wrangling kids. You may have the best of intentions, and want them to use their manners, and want them to keep quiet, and want them to smile, and want them to learn how to adult, really… at the tender and naïve age of 3.

That’s not unreasonable, right?!

However, often the 3 year-olds themselves often think it is. And the people who stare you down when your child doesn’t behave like they’re 33, THEY sure think it is unreasonable when they don’t behave.

A couple of months ago I was in the supermarket with baby girl. She was being awesome. Listening to me, helping me, understanding when it was time to move on, and just generally being a star.

Another Mum approached with her kids. And one of her tots, absolutely CRACKED it. She lost the plot. The poor Mum tried to go about her business and quieten the child, who appeared as if she was possessed by some demon.

I wanted to cry. I felt for the Mum so badly. I nearly offered to go over and help her out, pick her groceries, even hold her demon child for her, but then remembered the golden rule – IGNORE her.

Other people about me turned at the incessant screams, and I nearly went over to slap them. I wanted to yell at them: “Stop it! Don’t look! Leave her be!”  I knew what it was like to be in that horrible situation, where a child is misbehaving and just won’t be settled no matter what you do. I know the pain of embarrassment. I know the anxiety. I know how upsetting it is to get those stares.

I know, because I have been there.

Yesterday case in point.

So, baby girl, is the best thing on this planet. She is so clever, cute and charming, already at her young age. I swear, if she were to go up to you and start babbling as she does, if you were not to smile, I would immediately assume you to be an alien, or some foreign creature that has no compassion. A shark would show compassion to her, that is the adorable depth of her influence.

Simultaneously, sometimes she can shit me really well. Really well up the wall. Often it has to do with her not getting what she wants, which is a problem, because very often kids, and adults alike, can’t get what they want. This is part of the general growing up process.

She was in a funny type of mood as we were enjoying some lunchtime pastries and coffee at Chocolat yesterday at midday. The food is delicious, coffee superb, yet the café itself is tiny, cramped, and every little cry from a rascal toddler, becomes so much more unbearable in such a confined space.

Unbearable to just me. Imagine what the other diner’s think.

So when your child yells, and despite your best efforts, you cannot for the love of God calm them down, do you know what it is acceptable to do?

Pretend they don’t exist and go on with your life.

Look away.

Keep talking.

Keep drinking.

Keep eating.

Look out the window.

Laugh with your friends.

Stare off into space.

DO NOT, EVER, EVER, EVER, STARE.

Do you know what this mole-customer and her partner did?

They pointedly turned to us at baby girl’s first outburst. Not a quick glance over the shoulder ‘what is happening over there?’ look, but a ‘I-am-a-bitch-from-hell-and -I-will-stare-you-down-for-thinking-you-can-café-with-a-toddler’ type look.

(For those parents playing at home, baby girl was upset because we were not letting her dip her finger into the nutella centre of our takeaway doughnuts. Yep.)

So we breathed, and quickly let her dip her finger into the freaking centre. Ok, we were now to leave. She was getting antsy, we had to get out, PRONTO.

Hubbie was out the door with my bag and the tray of doughnuts, and I got up to follow after him, holding baby girl’s hand.

But wait! Yell! She indicated that she wanted to open the door herself, and then we could exit the café. Breathing rapidly, I said “ok, open the door,” praying to God that we would get out before any other interference occurred.

To my dismay, another customer started through the door, entering into the shop, stopping baby girl in her tracks.

Another yell! Ahhh!

I scolded her. I don’t condone any rude behaviour or outburst, especially when it appears she is losing her shit at a stranger. NOT ON.

So I tried to grab her and pull her out the door, but she just did her floppy, ‘I-will-hang-around-and-throw-myself-on-the-floor’ bit.

And then she started to crack it, AGAIN. From the corner of my eye, I saw the mole-customer turn in her seat, and just sit there, watching us.

Like we were a fucking play.

In quiet enraged fury, I grabbed baby girl and hauled her up on my waist, and stormed out the door.

Yes, baby girl got a really good talking to in the half hour that followed. There were many tears and sighs and hugs and kisses and sorry’s to make up for the shitty incident.

Baby girl is 3. She is still learning. But you know who should fucking know better?

That mole-customer at the café. You, lady, should know your manners. Do not stare when a child is misbehaving. Firstly, it is NONE of your business.

Secondly, who taught you YOUR manners? There is some failure of the learned transference of human compassion there, since you STARE at a difficult and highly troubling incident for both parent and child, rather than choosing to ignore it and accepting, that children are children.

You, MOLE, are a bitch-cow. Anyone who does this, and stares while a child is having a meltdown, and the poor parent is doing everything to diffuse the situation as quietly and quickly as they can, FUCK YOU. With a royal middle finger too.

If anyone is still reading this, and not afraid to continue this conversation, honestly, what do you think? Do you think people should mind their own business, and not sticky-beak when a child is having a meltdown in a public place, or should parents just not go anywhere with their kids until they’re at least 21?

???

 

 

The ‘Truth’ in my head

Let’s start the New Year with some enlightenment and self-awareness.

True Rules, as coined by Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project, is what she calls a collection of principles, to help make decisions and set priorities in your life. Defined by you, they work for you, which is why they are true; and they are used time and time again, which is why they become rules. I’ve outlined some of mine below. Although many of them are perhaps more like life reminders than rules to live by, there are many I hold dear to me that blur the lines between advice and rule, and so I’ve decided to include them all.

  • If you have the opportunity, always choose going out over staying home. When you’re at work later and sad you’re not at home doing your own thing, at least you’ll be satisfied with the happy memories you made on your time off, where you utilised your time well.
  • Where one door closes, another one opens.
  • There’s a reason for everything.
  • Treat others how you would like to be treated. And if they don’t treat you right (even if they’re older) fuck them off.
  • TV eats your time. TV can wait.
  • Home-cooked food is best.
  • You won’t get this day again/Absorb the moment you’re in/Take Note.
  • You’re only young once – so buy that dress/those shoes/show some leg, cleavage, ass (respectfully if you can – and if you can’t, just flaunt it).
  • Writing is more important than cleaning/tidying/washing/sorting/insert house activity (excluding home cooking, see above – not to say the cooking is more important than the reading, but to eat well refuels our energy stores and better prepares us to tackle our tasks and passions – so it is a necessity). Which is why I am never on top of any housework, but we are always satisfied and content in our tummies if nothing else.
  • Reading and Writing FIRST (Facebook and The Bold and the Beautiful sometimes win when I’m tired – I’m human).
  • Don’t get too hungry.
  • Always skim the edges and top of hot soup (many debates over how Hubbie cannot eat hot soup properly over this one).
  • But first, coffee.
  • Try to make everyone happy.
  • If a great song comes on while you’re in a clothing store, chances are you should buy something there.
  • If it’s not meant to be now, that means something better is waiting.
  • Life goes up; life goes down. Then repeats.

Some of my regular thoughts aren’t necessarily true, or constructive for a happier life. For example, making everyone happy is almost always a death sentence – I should be trying to do that for myself. And I don’t always find something I want to buy when a great song comes on in a shop I love, leaving me feeling unsatisfied when I walk out empty-handed. I don’t always get to put writing first, which leaves me feeling frustrated most of the time, and I don’t always find a ‘reason’ as to why things are the way they are. Sometimes I’m left wondering for a while, a very long, long while.

And yet, these are the things we think and feel in our day-to-day lives, whether they are true for us every time, or helpful for us to think, we still think them, out of habit, out of experience, which makes becoming aware of them all the more important. If we can pinpoint any troubling repetitive thoughts that aren’t conducive to our way of life, we can try to make things better, and us happier in the process.

Not letting myself go hungry is a good thing, and makes sure my energy stores are usually on the up especially with the demands of life as a Mother/Wife/Daughter/Sister/Friend/Butler/Driver/Cook/Whoever else can you think of?

Heading out when faced with the other possibility of staying at home, means I am filled with happy memories, and now for example as Hubbie is at work and baby girl is asleep for her afternoon nap, I can recall our lovely breakfast we had at a nearby café yesterday morning, where the sun was shining, baby girl was content, and the food and coffee were great. That is a memory worth remembering, rather than the usual butter-and-vegemite toast Sundays.

And thoughts like ‘something better is waiting,’ and ‘life has its ups and downs,’ puts me in a conscious and balanced state, aware of the force of yin and yang. Knowing that life is a rollercoaster we are riding, with occasional things to jump out and scare us, with others to delight and surprise us, keeps me on my toes, and grateful for the joyous moments I receive. Additionally, if I don’t get my turn immediately on that rollercoaster, I tell myself ‘My time will come. Everyone gets a shot.’

What are some of your True Rules? What goes through your mind when making decisions and setting priorities in your day-to-day life?

At ‘home’ with Lebanese cuisine

Bayte
56 Johnston Street Collingwood

I don’t just lie, horizontal, on the couch. I’m usually sitting on the couch, messaging, facebooking, on my laptop, typing up to-do lists on my phone while I catch up on Bold and Beautiful eps in the background.

No. I don’t lay. That is unproductive.

On one Tuesday night however, many weeks ago, I was lying on the couch. I wasn’t feeling the best, and going up to bed seemed way too hard in the state I was in. Hubbie had control of the remote and I really didn’t care. I just stared. So when he said “that looks good,” luckily, a little part of me took notice.

It was the show Food Safari on Foxtel. And the cuisine on discovery that particular week was Lebanese.

Hubbie went to bed minutes later, leaving a spent yet still somehow oddly fascinated and suddenly energised enough person, me, laying horizontal but now trying my damndest to pay attention to the food being presented before me, on the couch. It was fresh. They used a lot of bread. They ate with their hands. They created and cooked, with their hands. And the ingredients were readily available.

‘I could make that,’ I observed. I wondered about Lebanese cookbooks. I decided I must buy one.

Then, in my cactus state, I decided I had to eat at one. A restaurant, that is.

The following day I looked up Lebanese cuisine on Urbanspoon, and promptly made reservations at the current top-rating Lebanese restaurant in Melbourne.

Which is how we found ourselves at Bayte for Valentine’s Day.

I had been really excited about this leading up to the Saturday night. I couldn’t say for sure that I’d ever had Lebanese food, and yet having seen the dishes on offer via Food Safari there was nothing overly unusual about the meals or the ingredients typical of the cuisine. There was a lot of bread, and dips, and after seeing it on TV I was really looking forward to the Babba Ganoush. Apart from some of these more oily/creamy dishes, lots of the other food options were fresh, simple, yet inventive with the spices and flavours they combined to create the taste explosion in your mouth.

I knew I was going to eat a lot. I knew I had to have one of the sickly sweet desserts. And with the heading ‘Lebanese eatery, wine and espresso bar’ on the Bayte web site, I just KNEW I was going to have some of the Lebanese coffee too.

We parked off Johnston street, and walked 20 seconds to the restaurant on the main street. Although it was on Johnston street, you could easily walk by and completely overlook it. It wasn’t part of any main strip of shops or restaurants, yet Hubbie and I felt this made it feel off-the-beaten track, a little hidden gem to be explored and discovered within all the rough diamonds waiting to be found in Collingwood.

I had booked ahead and sure enough our table was ready and waiting. Luckily it had been a warm day, as we were positioned by the entrance door, and a decent breeze kept wafting in throughout the evening. You’d hope for a closed door in cooler weather.

I actually can’t remember if I had in fact mentioned we needed a high-chair, or if it was lost in in the booking conversation, but I distinctly remember saying “2 and a toddler,” yet they had assumed we’d bring a pram. Not to mind, they set up a high chair for baby girl fairly quickly.

And then we started.

I had a Hendricks and Tonic with fresh cucumber

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My work friend had recently had cucumber in one of her alcoholic drinks while out and had told me I just had to have a cucumber drink. So I did. It ended up being a beautiful, fresh offset against the many creamy/spicy dishes we experimented with. A perfect accompaniment to our meals.

Hubbie started off with the 961 beer, and after trying another one, ended up back with that one again.

Also he tried an ‘Arak’ drink. I say ‘an Arak drink’ because I forget which Arak drink it was, but it was sweet with an aniseed taste. It was all a bit sweet to him, as he had also had hints of sweetness in his beer, but we were out and trying new things so I think it was ideal to be venturing out into the unknown, in line with where we were dining.

After perusing the menu for a while, we decided on a combination of starters and share main meals.

I needed some form of bread for our carb-loving baby girl, and I had to see what this babba ganoush was about. Hence the following:

Khoubiz el Saage – chargrilled flat bread made in house & Babba Ganoush – smokey eggplant dip

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And our lovely waitress had also recommended we share a Falafel after discovering we didn’t mind spice

Falafel – spicy red pepper falafel w Aleppo labne and pickled cucumber

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The warm flatbread was warm, and presented rather cas/rustic. Baby girl loved it, and it was oh-so-easy to eat with the Babba, dip dip dipping away into the delicious, spicy, garlic-y, eggplant flavours all rolled into one. It was creamy, yes, spicy, yes, and a tad oily – but in a good way. It was really fresh though, not something you’d eat too much of and then feel sick and remorseful for doing so.

The falafel was spicy too, and it was only at the end I thought ‘why don’t I actually eat it with the gherkin on top?’ When I did, the flavour explosion of sour and spice was even more intense. I suggested Hubbie do the same and give it a go, however unfortunately our waitress asked if we were done, in wanting to clear the plates from our table, and obviously mistook the “no we’re right” to mean ‘we’re right we’re finished,’ as she took it away before we had a chance to protest. That was slightly disappointing, and I felt bad for Hubbie as he hadn’t had the chance to have the last flavoursome bite, but fortunately for us that was the only disappointing factor that night.

The menu was inspiring in its range of small/share/large plate options, and it certainly excited me going from our positive experience at Café Maritana not too long ago. Also, there’s something appealing about being able to order many little plates as opposed to just two large ones, as the option to eat such a variety of foods and get more of a taste of the cuisine on offer is so much more pleasing and satisfying, especially when experiencing a new culture and wanting to see as much of its food as you can.

So for ‘mains,’ the following share plates came out in this order:

Al-Halaioon bi Muhammara– chargrilled asparagus w muhammara and dehydrated labne

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Banadoora ma’ Naanaa – mixed Heirloom tomatoes, eschalots and mint

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Bataata – roasted Nicola potatoes cooked in lamb fat

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And then our BBQ skewers:

Lahem Meshwi- spiced lamb backstrap and onion

Djej Meshwi bi Toum – garlic chicken glazed w pomegranate molasses

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(apologies for the crap photo)

These people love their dips. The asparagus had a tangy spicy sauce on the side (I’m assuming that was the muhammara?) and our skewers had come with a garlic-style dip and also a hummus one. They’re not afraid of lots of spices and flavour, and it showed. The red dip amongst the asparagus was flavoursome, and the garlic dip situated with the skewers was my favourite, so yum.

The garlic chicken glazed in pomegranate molasses had great flavour, Hubbie loved it especially, and the lamb backstrap was good too. The potatoes were great and a beautiful golden colour, which I’m sure I can attest in part to the lamb fat. Again like Maritana, the salad shone, and I loved the fresh and biting flavours of the tomato with mint and eschalots. The combination of this dish was just brilliant, I loved it.

We had had quite a few plates on the table, and at first it was a case of ‘how are we gonna eat all of this?’ Easily, as we soon discovered. Yes our table was terribly squashed, plates and glasses and things everywhere, but as Hubbie succinctly pointed out the table was small, and so the appearance of many plates and lots of food was amplified and made more so. The food itself was flavoursome and tasty without being sickly or overly fattening, dips included. The food and the flavours were inventive yet still very simple and homely, so that once we had actually eaten EVERYTHING there, it was a case of “oh, that wasn’t too hard.”

In retrospect, we should have ordered more. That seems silly I know with all of the above, but we were drinking, and with alcohol comes a healthier appetite. Not only that, but because the meals were healthier, and a good portion of the meals ordered were vegetables, we really could have fit more in, and should have gotten at least one more skewer to share between us, at least. Us Europeans and our oversized appetites, I know. Just a thought for next time, and something to ponder for anyone planning on their share plates.

Although we were still bordering on full, there were no sickly feelings of over-stuffing or overconsumption, and of course it was Valentine’s Day so damn it we were going to have something sweet!
I had to try the doughnut – especially with its description:

Awamaat ma’ Dibbis – glazed Lebanese donuts w carob, tahini and almond praline

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And we had to try the Lebanese coffee – any self-respecting coffee snob wouldn’t dare exclude this from their dining list, no matter how full of food they were!

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The doughnut was… filling. After all that food, (maybe better we didn’t get the extra skewers!) I was still glad I got it, and I did eat most of it as Hubbie was too into his beer at this point to really want much of it. The outside was a beautiful golden crust, yet inside it was doughy, not doughy as in not fried enough, but doughy as in the way a doughnut should be, lovely and soft and fresh. The filling was liquid goodness, and the combination of flavours made it very sweet, but very very moorish. OMG I’m still thinking of it. I think I have to have it again. No, I will have it again. I devoured it, and the combination of it with the Lebanese coffee was perfecto.

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Our waitress was right. She had said Lebanese coffee was similar to Turkish coffee, though not as strong. Our backgrounds meant we had come across Turkish coffee only a million times before, so we knew what we might expect. I did find it strong at first, but once I started on the doughnut I realised they were made for each other: Lebanese doughnut and Lebanese coffee = mmm. You can’t have one without the other. The coffee was made for the sweetness of the doughnut… it became a necessity.

And I have to add, I loved the old-fashioned cups and coffee pot it was served in. So old-school, so authentic. Some things must be left the way our parents used to do it.

Our waitress had been brilliant from start to finish, and apart from the quick removal of the falafel, had been helpful in our ordering, and extremely sweet and friendly to baby girl. She offered genuine guidance on what drinks we should order, even offering to replace them if they weren’t what we liked. She even let me sniff the Hendricks that went into my drink. We should all be allowed to sniff, I think, everywhere we go 😉

Baby girl liked her a bit too much, yelling out when she walked away to actually do some work, leaving us to remind her “honey, she can’t talk to you all day, she actually has to do some work!” The guy behind the bar and even another waitress were all friendly and nice to us and baby girl, even the chef who walked out the door at one stage gave a kind smile our way, and it’s become my firm belief that a nice chef will put more love into your food than a cranky one. Gordan Ramsay might disagree with me on that one but f^$k him.

The restaurant had been sparse when we had arrived at 6ish, and by the time we left just after 8 (yes we ate all that food in under 2 hours) it was rocking. Even though the tables were fairly close together the only diners we had a chance to kind of look at and become familiar with were the ones beside us where there were two couples, and they were more than happy to look baby girl’s way and coo at her, making her indeed a happy girl.

And the last, sweet touch? Our waitress offering us some free couple of pieces of baklava for baby girl, as we were having our dessert and coffee. Aww, shucks. She totally loved it, by the way. Bravo (or however you say it in Lebanese).

Food: 9/10. Flavour, herbs, spices, made it a party in your mouth.

Coffee: 7.5/10. Different, but great with the sweets.

Ambience: Magnificent. I really, really loved the style of this place. I particularly loved the antique yet classy lamps of different colour/shape/pattern adorning the restaurant, some hanging high and others cascading down low in a beautiful flowing presentation. I also loved the low bookshelf I was sitting in front of, that separated us seated at the front part of the restaurant, from the people behind us seated a few steps up in the second half. I didn’t have a chance to venture to the facilities but Hubbie told me that it wasn’t overly spacious, seating-wise behind us, and that in addition to the above there appeared to be some covered seating outside. This lack of seating space only added to the cosy atmosphere, and makes it even more of a rustic gem of a restaurant.

I really loved the ambience and style. Old-world meets class meets Collingwood. I can’t say it any better than that. So unique.

Staff: Friendly, helpful and accommodating. And genuine.

People: I was surprised by how many older groups of people ventured here! To Collingwood! I mean I say not a bad word about Collingwood, I support the club for goodness sakes… I was just not expecting that number of older, rich-looking people to come through the doors post 7pm. I must have been expecting more of an eclectic crowd, which really there was very little of. There were many groups that night, which might be odd given it was Valentine’s Day (and isn’t that usually a couple thing?) but hey, whatever the people want. The foursome next to us were in their 30s, and as I write that I realise so are we, so I’ll change that to late 30s-early 40s. Generally a nice crowd, if you know what I mean.

Price: $121. That included 5 alcoholic drinks, 3 starters, 4 main share dishes, dessert and coffee. I thought that was a good effort, and a good price considering. Hubbie did point out that many of the dishes were still expensive for what we got, and after pondering the receipt I thought he might be right. For example the asparagus was $14, maybe a bit steep for green vegies, but then the skewers were $8.50, about on par for meat? I still think overall the prices were very acceptable for what we received, especially in respect to the beautiful Lebanese flavours (oh, drool).

Advice:

1. Firstly, book. Their web site states that they only take bookings several days before the day required, however when I called a week and a half earlier, they were taking bookings then. So maybe it was an event thing being Valentine’s Day. Having watched all the people roll in that night, I think practically all of them had booked. Again, it might have been an event thing due to the day. Because of this 3 girls walking in off the street had to be turned away, and Hubbie heard one of the waitresses on the phone apologising for not being able to squeeze in someone wanting to book last second. So, book, book, book. I think being the number one Lebanese restaurant on Urbanspoon makes it very sought after, and rightly so.

2. If it’s cold and you have a child, don’t sit near the entrance.

3. Don’t be tricked by the servings, or by the fact that you’ve ordered 4 dishes to share so for sure you’ll be full. Look at what it is you’re eating and if it’s likely to really fill you up. If you’re not of European descent, disregard this entire point.

4. Eat the doughnut.

In a nutshell: I really think I need to go back and eat another doughnut. That thing is infiltrating my mind.

Okay seriously though. I had expectations, and flavour wise, they were very much fulfilled. Despite the abundance of food we ate, I still feel like there was so much more we could have had, so much we missed out on. Which means we’ll have to go back and eat more. 

A great Lebanese restaurant, deserving of its Urbanspoon rating. I AM going back. Those Lebanese sweets had me at ‘glazed.’

Bayte on Urbanspoon