Love on the Rocks

The Rocks Mornington
1 Schnapper Point Drive Mornington

(Visited May ’17)

At the end of a very long Tuesday in early May, where Hubbie, baby girl and I pretty much ran to the reaches of all parts of this city, we settled back in our new home turf to head out to dinner. It was at a destination that had been organised as a surprise by Hubbie, so the surprise itself was known to me, with the destination meant to be unknown by me at the same time… but when he said the menu had primarily seafood, well there was only one local place I thought that was fancy enough for the occasion we were celebrating. 8 years of wedded bliss 🙂

And so it was, that we predictably headed down the Main Street, and kept heading down the Pier ‘til we reached the end, to the rocks.

The Rocks, at Mornington.

My, was I glad Hubbie had pre-booked. A fireplace greeted us nearby after we had climbed the winding stairs, and after our waiter glanced through the already-full room that weeknight, he led us to a table for 3.

I was actually, extremely pleased that it was so noisy. It was a poshy destination, that you couldn’t deny, but I was happy to hear the well-to-doers talking loudly and happily from all corners of the room, filling up the room with a bustling and fluid atmosphere. Though it was a ‘nice’ restaurant, it was actually quite cosy, with wooden and sailing paraphernalia throughout to add that necessary beach-side effect, and yet it was done so tastefully. There was fairly ample room in the large dining area we were in, with an outside area that we could view from through our side window, that was currently empty, but would be an amazing spot in Summer. Oh the joys of beachside living.

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We perused the menu first for the celebratory drinks, and I opted for a local red, while Hubbie went with a … beer. Of course, what else.

Yes, my wine was on the $$$ side, but it was fantastic. Divine. Truly a red worth celebrating love with. ♥♥

And soon after we ordered the food, it didn’t take long for the first few plates to reach our table:

Seafood dumplings, shallot, ginger, chilli oil

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And Spaghetti napoletana for baby girl

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It was a basic pasta for baby girl, but even that, it was done well and kept both her, and US busy (and me a bit OCD-mad) as I tried relentlessly to keep her clean from sauce-stains. Fortunately for this order freak, she is a little OCD too.

I turned my attention to our entrée when I couldn’t take it anymore, and was happily impressed. The dumplings were yummalicious, and the combination of flavours made it a delightfully spicy explosion in your mouth. They didn’t last long on our table.

In between those plates and our mains, we kept ourselves busy. Looking out at the dark waters before us, drawing with baby girl, and of course, taking her to the loo repeatedly, because that’s what a toilet-trained toddler is obsessed with of course, the toilets of the world. Some other diners started to head home, we drank some more, baby girl took blurry photos of us, and then the mains arrived!

Hubbie’s Lamb shoulder – free range riverina, slow-cooked overnight on the bone with Asian flavours and roasted chats, with a side of chips

And my Spaghetti frutti di mare – todays seafood, hand-picked tomatoes from Puglia & evoo (chip additions courtesy of baby girl)

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Here is where I explain why I got baby girl pasta, and not chips, since I was having a hellish time keeping her sauce-mouth in check. If I were to get pasta, and she chips, although she loves BOTH, I wouldn’t have heard the end of it, as she would have been hounding me for bites, getting upset at the distinct spices in it, but then getting more upset because she still wants pasta. We had carefully conducted our plan however, and by this stage not only was she fairly full on her napoletana, but she now had Hubbie’s chips to peck on too. Score.

It wasn’t spicy. It wasn’t meant to be, but it had definite kick and flavour. Seafood, without being sea-watery in flavour, and the pasta was just… mmm hmmm. All the seafood was cooked perfectly, and though I’m not much of a fan of calamari, I still ate most of it, just because I was enjoying everything so damn much. I loved the pieces of salmon and the oiliness of the dish held it together so well, although that component did leave me feeling pretty full once my plate was empty.

It was a slightly different story for Hubbie’s meal. His ‘meat’ was cooked beautifully, to the point that it was falling off the bone, and it certainly looked inviting… but the problem didn’t lie in how it had been cooked. The problem lay in what it was. Because the menu said lamb shoulder. And it was shoulder. It just wasn’t lamb.

It was mutton.

I know, I know. Tell him to do his own food reviews. Believe me, if you think I can be critical, he is of a higher power. But he is allowed to be – he is a butcher after all. He knows his shit, and his shit, is his meat. He deals with it all day. Poshy restaurant or non-poshy restaurant, lamb should be lamb, and the overwhelmingly ‘lamb’ smell that was emanating from his dish, told him it was definitely not the above-mentioned dish, but the parent version. The smelly version.

It didn’t turn him off the dish, and he still ate it… but considering the calibre of the restaurant, he was disappointed, and had really believed they would at least put their money where their mouth was in terms of food quality.

The fussy butcher strikes again.

Things like this kill me, really, they do. I sit there across from him, hearing him complain, and I’m like really? Are you sure? But does it taste good? But see how it’s falling apart? ALL TO DEAF EARS. I enjoyed my dish but because he didn’t enjoy his, it just meant we were going home a whole lot faster.

He probably would have indulged in a dessert, but as it was, opted to share with me, and go a dessert wine. He had his vino to forget about the mutton, while I went for

Panna cotta with figs and pistachio crumble

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And baby girl kinda stayed still long enough through her intense excitement, to let me snap a blurry pic of her own ice cream and chocolate sauce dessert

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So yep, she enjoyed hers. After an oily pasta dish, my panna cotta was light and creamy, not too heavy, and the figs on the side gave it that freshness that accompanied my full stomach well. It was the perfect dessert to follow what I had eaten, however my usual preference would have been something much richer and decadent… maybe that’s for the day I eat a salad there. Salad for dinner? Nah, not happening.

We soon paid and left the restaurant with a much lighter wallet.

Food: 8/10. That score was a tough one to make. I don’t take to deception well, and yet I see the quality in the rest of the meals they prepared, bar Hubbie’s… their emphasis is on seafood, and you can find it in most parts of their menu, except for the grill. They also do breakfast, which on a clear sunny day, would be splendid.

Coffee: N/A this time.

Ambience: Really relaxed despite what I would have expected. The wooden beams and sailing decoration added a chilled vibe, reminiscent of a beach-style lifestyle. Well, it IS a beach-style lifestyle where we are! It was cosy, yet happily boisterous too.

Staff: They were attentive and friendly, but we didn’t have much to do with them, beside their taking our orders and delivering our plates/removing them from the table. I didn’t feel they went above and beyond the call of duty like other restaurants we’ve been to, but they did their job.

People: A well-to-do crowd. What does a 20-something guy do when back in his home turf? Why, Mother and Father take him out for some dining. Celebrate a birthday in style with 8 of your closest friends! Go out for a special dinner at that seafood place with your special someone, and smile at that mischievous girl at the adjoining table because she reminds you so much of your own rascally child at that sweet age – oh wait, they were looking at baby girl? The people there were actually really good with baby girl’s insanity: older couples, families and groups alike. An older crowd ruled that night, majority 40 +.

Price: $140ish. Phew. Wowza. Had Hubbie been happy, this wouldn’t have been a problem, it was a special night for us after all.

Advice: Definitely book ahead. Get something seafood (not hard here). Take in the views, (and I say that without even having seen the views!) If your partner is a fussy butcher, make sure he DOESN’T get the meat shoulder!

In a nutshell: I have not given up on this place, not by a long shot. I am yet to eat more seafood here, have a drink overlooking the water, have brekkie overlooking the water, have a coffee overlooking the water… I think I need to have EVERYTHING overlooking the water. The quality of food is above average, and though the price is up there and may make you flinch, remember that its mainly because of the prime real estate… everything is that much dearer when you are on the rocks.

The Rocks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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An open letter to those I love…

A critical letter.

So often in life we talk to those closest to us about those that upset us. Shit us. Rev us up the wrong way. We critique them and bad-mouth them, complaining ’til the cows come home about all the things we so detest about these people.

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…

It is so easy to poke the finger and make negative comment when it is about people we do not care much for… and yet when our loved ones make us find fault in them, it is a bit harder to swallow.

You don’t want to hurt them. You don’t want to make them sad. You don’t want any suggestive words spoken to affect the relationship. You remain quiet, hoping they will fix themselves, by themselves.

They never do.

So here is my open letter:

Dear loved one,

I know there are people who have lied, and deceived you. I know you have been hurt more than words can say, and that in turn has left you distrusting and guarded, speculative and wary.

But believe me, people are not all out to get you. Please do not squint your eyes at everyone. Firstly, that is rude. Secondly, I hurt for you when you do that, and like the innocent people you judge unfairly, they start to judge you back… and I can’t stand that. I can’t defend you. I can’t win.

Dear loved one,

We have so much to say, right? But please let me say it. I know you think you can read my thoughts, or you know where I am headed in my speech. But I want to say it anyway. I want a chance to be heard. I just want to hear myself talking out loud, the way I let you do so often.

I may not go on as much, but that is because I get side-tracked and my mind never stops. I may not divulge so many details, but that’s because I am afraid of getting hurt. I may not express it all, but that’s because I fear the blab-mentality.

Please, just breathe. Don’t assume.

Dear loved one,

Don’t get all prim and proper on me now. Where has that spark gone? That glint in your eyes, that constant youthful laughter? Life is hard, I know it is hard… YOU know it is hard. But try to remember where it all began. Make it simple again. Don’t try too hard. It’s ME here. Remember that.

I want you to start the day laughing, and don’t stop ’til nightfall. Then I will know you are back.

Dear loved one,

Please say more. I know you have been knocked down. I want to hear you speak more. I want to hear your voice. I want you to muck about as you used to. Most importantly I want to see you smile.

Don’t lose Hope, loved one. I haven’t.

Dear loved one,

I know you want to make me happy. But listen to my version of happiness – don’t impose upon me YOURS. When I say I want something, please understand that is what I mean! You know me well… but I know myself better.

Dear loved one,

You are not the first, and you are not the last. Calm the f^%k down. Also, grow up.

Dear loved one,

Maybe when I wronged you, you thought it was intentional… but I didn’t realise what I was doing. However, you ‘getting me back’ is a conscious decision. Don’t play games.

(TIMES TWO).

Dear loved one

I know you wonder, ‘what happened?’ I honestly can’t remember anymore. But I thought we were stronger than a slow and prolonged absence due to ‘assumptions.’

Pretty weak huh?

Dear loved one,

I don’t know… do you actually like me? Or do you want to keep me around so you can continually judge me? I try to respect you and give you the friendship our years deserve… and yet I find myself hating you more.

Do you hate me more with every day, too?

Dear loved one,

You actually don’t know everything. Try to sound surprised, because I know you are.

 

Very Sincerely,

SmikG.

 

 

 

 

 

How to vote in the same-sex marriage postal survey

Here’s the thing: the outcome of Australia’s same-sex marriage postal survey will not impact me greatly.

I do not identify with the individuals who will be negatively affected in a possible majority ‘No’ vote.

I am straight. I am happily married – we said our vows in a church. And I have a child.

However, I do identify with them, as a fellow member of the human race. I am a member, and they are too.

Firstly let me start by showing you how I have voted:

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(and you will see that I have taken care not to include the lower barcode in this pic, in fear of the vote being deemed invalid, or risk of it being used by online scammers).

And now, a bit about myself.

I was raised in a fairly traditional European family. I was taught to respect and listen to elders, do as you’re told, and work hard.

We have a large extended family unit, and this only grew as the years passed. Family came to Australia from overseas, and so too the numbers went up up up.

When I was about 16 someone in this family unit came out.

It was my first time, being in the proximity of this knowledge. This ‘kind.’

Maybe I had been sheltered. Maybe it was a different time then. Maybe because it was so close to home…

… But the news really shook me. I felt altered. This person, who I had grown up with, who I had looked up to, who I had made some of the best childhood memories with –

was not the person who I thought they were.

Maybe because I was almost 16, maybe because it was that oh-so-pivotal and dramatic point in my teenage years – but I seriously felt lost. I didn’t know, what and who I knew anymore. The history that I had between myself and this person, didn’t appear to exist anymore.

To quote Gotye, they were “somebody who I used to know.”

Time went on. I still saw this person. They were still a part of my life.

And an important realisation surfaced. Through the continued interactions, continued laughs, continued memory-making…

… nothing had actually changed.

This theme grew stronger and stronger throughout the years, when I entered the workforce, and met more people who were gay and lesbian. And to date, I have lost count of the number of people in my life, both in personal life and at work, who are gay or lesbian.

I learnt a lesson very early on. There was nothing wrong with these people.

And this told me something. The sexual orientation didn’t make the person; the character did.

There were straight people who shit me.

There were straight people who I loved.

There were gay people who shit me.

There were gay people who I loved.

And lately, these gay people that I love (and some straight too) have been getting very vocal online. They’ve been getting vocal, because they want the same rights as every straight couple has, to be able to get married in Australia and have their union recognised legally.

I was sitting quite impassively on the subject for a while. I always knew how I would vote. But like I said, it didn’t concern me.

A quote sparked my interest though, and took me by surprise.

It was questioned, that when our children asked us in the future how we voted at this time, whether we would shy away and feel guilty, or whether we would be proud and say we had made a difference to the way people live their lives.

To the way people are able to live their lives.

That’s what it comes down to. Gay and lesbians do not have a say, nor do they have a right, to make their relationships official in the court of law.

I couldn’t help but think of women’s rights, and how it took so long for women to be able to ‘acceptably’ work… AND to be able to vote.

I work, and I vote. But if I was born before 1902, that wouldn’t have been at all possible for me. People back then made history, allowing me and every other woman in this day and age to do what shouldn’t just be a privilege, but a basic human right.

Think of the Aborigine people. We have come a long way, but in some respects, we still have a LONG way to go.

It has been progressive, has it not? People will argue either way, and yet if we look at the rights that Aborigines receive nowadays, they are vastly improved from how it used to be.

But for gays and lesbians, NO.

I didn’t think I needed to speak up, to give them a voice. It didn’t affect me, you see.

I read another story about a gay man preaching his case. He said under current Australian law, his brother, who he hasn’t spoken to in years, would have rights over his remains and his estate if something happened to him… his brother who he is estranged from. Who he clearly does not have a relationship with. Who he does not want anything to do with.

His brother would have rights, and yet his partner, who he is happily committed in a relationship with, would have none.

I read that, and I thought “that is just not fair.”

And then days earlier, the clincher.

The church where Hubbie and I got married, well they sent me a text. In summary, they were asking everyone to not be pressured and bullied by the same-sex marriage vote, and to vote NO in the plebiscite.

A direct quote:

“vote no to protect the holy sacrament of marriage, the family unit and the future generations.”

I was stunned. Stupefied. I told Hubbie, and we had a good, LONG discussion.

How dare they? What has it got to do with them? Gays and lesbians are not asking to be recognised by the church. The churches can continue to dismiss their relationship and deny their wishes to be married in their ‘sacred’ house… gays and lesbians are wishing for their unions to be respected and recognised legally.

By law. In the courts. Not in the church.

Marriage will still be sacred… because what is sacred, is LOVE. Let’s not pretend us ‘straight’ people are perfect. Divorce, adultery, abuse, both mental and physical… need I go on? Whose to say we are the only ones that can do it better? Straight people have been screwing it up since the beginning of time.

How will the family unit be affected? In what regard? From what I know, I’m fairly certain you don’t really have a choice to be gay or straight. You’re “born this way,” as another artist sings. Whether your parents are straight, or gay, I don’t think none of that will affect the family, or how their children will orient themselves sexually.

Straight couples produce gay children. Case closed.

And, future generations? Don’t we have an overpopulation issue? Like really? Will us ‘straight’ couples not be able to produce enough babies because of all the sudden gay and lesbian couples popping up everywhere?

Give me a break.

If anything, “church.” I am even more pro-God, anti-church establishment, than ever before. The man-made restrictions constantly placed upon the general population by the churches shits me to no end.

This law, isn’t going to make gay and lesbians go away. It isn’t going to make them disappear. And they shouldn’t have to. They are people, they have dreams, hopes and wishes, and theirs is to be respectfully recognised if they choose to marry the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. They have a basic human right, like so many of us.

They have a right to be recognised.

Like Aborigines do.

Like women do.

We all have a right. We have a right to be respected. We have a right to be heard.

We deserve the right of freedom. We deserve the right of public speech.

We deserve the right to marry who we want to.

We deserve the right to not be discriminated against for our race, colour, or gender.

We deserve the right to not be discriminated against for our ethnicity, work place, religion or geography.

We deserve the right to immunise our children, how and when as we wish. We deserve a say in this also, highly debatable topic, and need to be respected and listened to, our concerns understood and discussed, not pushed away in the corner and off to the ‘too-hard, crazy-person’ basket.

We deserve to be recognised by law, when we love someone. Let it not be based on gender, race, geography, or religion. Let it be based, and guided by, only the heart. 

And this is how this post came about. I was passive about the topic of same-sex marriage, still voting ‘YES,’ but neither feeling here nor there…

But then I realised, my voice was even more beneficial, because I was part of the middle group. The group that didn’t know how it affected them. The group that lay undisturbed from the decision. The group that would sleep well after the votes were cast, either way.

I am NOT a lesbian gay activist. I am not one way or the other. But I do believe in a person’s right to do as they choose, especially if they are not hurting anyone.

And they are not hurting anybody.

My voice is as important as every other humans out there.

And for the gays and lesbians, their voice is as important as MINE.

Please be a part of the ‘YES’ movement. Make a positive difference to our ongoing history. Be someone your future children will be proud of.

It feels awful to say it. But give the right, of basic human rights.

P.S And oh, just so you know…

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WordPress votes ‘YES’ too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loving and hating your friends

I have a friend. Every so often, she does something that confirms to me, her firm place in my life as a true, close, long-standing friend.

She’ll make a loyal gesture. Unexpectedly say or do something kind. Go out of her way to help me.

I have a friend…. Every so often, she does something that confirms to me, her firm place in my life –

As that person who shits me up the wall with her irrelevant, unnecessary competitive comments. She’ll say something judgmental. She has no ability to censor her mouth from bullshit. She tries hard to beat you at life, in general.

The above two friends are the SAME person.

I’m always swaying wildly with the pendulum on this one. I love her. I hate her. I wanna hug her. I wanna strangle her.

After I had baby girl, she actually had a dig at me for using certain pain relief while I WAS IN LABOUR. It is perfectly acceptable pain relief, and yet for her, who had not actually passed a baby from her nether-regions at that point of judgment, went on to say I could have risked my baby.

Fuck off.

She speaks highly of herself to raise her level of awesomeness, even if it means hurting someone else in the process. She doesn’t appear to have the awareness to think, before she speaks, to ask herself if what she is about to say to make herself sound soooo good, is actually going to put down someone else nearby.

Or she just doesn’t care. She is my friend, so I’ll go with ‘she doesn’t think.’

This friend is competitive. She will level whatever it is at your playing field, even if she has the up-front disadvantage, the later start, so that she keeps up with you at all costs… AT ALL COSTS. I mean, life is about winning, isn’t it?

???

However. This friend has been my friend for a LONG time. She has always been there for me, through thick and thin. We may disagree, a LOT, and I hate her competitiveness, and her judgmental nature, but at this stage I think too much has transpired between us to end this thing called friendship.

It doesn’t mean she doesn’t drive me up the wall with rage at times.

I’ve been thinking of something that happened recently. And in regards to her, and generally the way we think as a society. I’ve been wondering why we are so predisposed to hold onto the negative, when we can choose to focus on the real positives of a situation/person/event?

This friend recently helped me out. She willingly offered her assistance to me, where she had to organise something for my sole benefit. Still when I saw her later, she showed so much kindness, happiness, love. Every time something like this happens with her I think ‘wow, maybe we are reconnecting in a mature, adult, post-teen way.’

And then I’ll see her again, and she’s indirectly putting down my child’s inabilities, by praising her own child.

She’ll make remarks like “people don’t do that anymore” when I am in fact doing it.

(Because if she isn’t doing something, that means NO ONE is. I mean, she is EVERYONE, after all).

These incidences, good and bad, have been rotating around in my mind for days. I can’t let go of the negative. It’s driving me a bit insane. I wonder if it’s because the negative happened more recently, and is therefore fresher in my mind than the good. But I’m not too sure on that one. Good HAS happened, and yet the good is not strong enough to outweigh the bad that was said, inferred, suggested… that bloody knowing tone.

As a gratitude gal, I know I should be focusing on the good stuff, but with repeat offenders such as her, I just find it so hard to let go. It’s not like it was anything HUGE. But as it is with straws on the camels back, the littlest of twigs can set you off. And when it comes to things suggested at, especially in reference to your own children… let’s just say the lioness in me roars wildly on that one.

I didn’t say anything about being shitty, I never do… and maybe that’s where the fault lies. Speaking up and actually asking her what she meant, would not only have cleared the air, but would have gotten things off my chest and out of my tumultuous mind. I would feel better, and maybe I’d make her self-aware in the process.

I could have been more upfront, but I wasn’t, because long ago, I used to be VERY upfront and speak my mind more freely. That got me into a bit of trouble, which is why I am so careful now to watch what comes out of my mouth. I’ve learnt the hard way, once something is said, it can NEVER be unsaid.

So maybe this is all me. Maybe this is my battle, trying to learn how to deal with people like her, by learning how to first approach the issue in the first place, knowing how to act and what to say and how to feel. That’s ok, I can deal with constructive criticism, I get that.

Maybe this is all MY thing, and nothing to do with her. My own drama, my own insecurities. Me making too much of little, repetitive, annoying, childish mind games of hers.

I’m not sure. But one thing I do know for sure. Although our negative experiences may be clouding the happy rays of light she has shone my way, there is something stronger than the shitty moments, that beats it all.

The friendship. The loyalty and the history we share… nothing can beat that.

(Although she would try to).

And that’s why I’m back to square one again.

I lied

The other day when I was writing about coffee and tea… well, I lied.

Today at 4pm, I had my first sip of caffeine for the day in the form of a cappuccino. And that sip was so warm, so soothing, yet also so hot, that it touched my soul.

Love and sex combined, and I found my soulmate.

Coffee vs. Tea…

My boss made the most brilliant comment regarding these two caffeinated beverages.

So a while ago I’m at work, about to head off on my usual, post 9:30am coffee walk with colleagues. I ask her if she wants us to get her a coffee – she stops and pauses, and after some to-ing and fro-ing in her mind, she makes it up.

“No, I think I’ll have some tea.”

Fair enough, I respond to her. I can’t contest – after all, it was only some years ago that I never drank coffee, like NEVER, and only drank tea. Blacks, whites, herbals… as long as this letter was in it  – T – I happily tried them all.

We start talking about how sometimes, you just need a tea. Coffee is great, sure, hell yeah… but there are some Sunday mornings where I wake up groggy from a big night, and immediately think ‘tea.’ I need the hot quench of the liquid to satisfy my dry throat. Coffee can be too milky and often not hot enough, and I’m not going into the business of burning my beans or milk just to get the coffee hotter. No, I repeat to them. Sometimes you need tea, and only tea can touch your soul.

You know that first sip? Ahh. I wrote about it in-depth in my review on a magical little Tea house in Carlton North called Travelling Samovar. That first sip can literally, send chills through your body.

And then the clincher. All this talk, and boss comes out with an almost perfect caffeine-to-life comparison.

“Tea is like love… and coffee is like sex.”

We all pause, wanting to say something, cheeky grins on our faces, yet not sure if opening our mouths at this point will exact to a good idea.

“Well yes,” I begin. “They’re both important.”

I almost said more, but stopped myself. Enough. Enough had been said, and enough of a picture was made in our heads as we headed off to our sex/I mean coffee walk.

You can’t deny the soul-touching elements of tea. But coffee is extremely vital. Every so often/ 3 times a week you just need to knock one back and feel the buzz rush through your body.

I think the argument should be that there isn’t a caffeinated beverage that’s better than the other. Tea and coffee are both important for so many reasons, and without each other, the other becomes bland, and empty. Monotonous. Incomplete.

You need balance.

I think this is the perfect metaphor 🙂

 

 

 

Blind Love/Hate

Isn’t it funny how

We’re aware of our partners weaknesses

yet we continue to excuse them

Explain them away

Justify them

to ourselves

to others

to the World

Their characters

Their behaviours

The words they speak

It all has a reason, doesn’t it?

 

Aloof – “He only has time for his circle of friends.”

Moody – “He works too much, doesn’t get enough sleep.”

Loose with words – “He likes to speak his mind.”

Uptight – “It’s only because she values tradition.”

Judgmental – “She’s hard on others because she’s hard on herself.”

 

Is love that blind?

Or are we too critical with indifference?

 

(Actually he’s egocentric;

Actually he’s insulting;

Actually he’s heartless;

Actually she’s choleric;

Actually she’s sanctimonious).

 

Should we be harder on our partners

and kinder to strangers?

Should we expect more of those dearest to us

and let the others look after their own, withholding all judgment?

Should hate be blind?

… now that’s a thought.

 

 

The true meaning of Christmas

‘Be Nice to People. This is a stressful time of year for many.’

Is what my daily calendar said to me on the weekend. I was fortunate to have the only problems of trying to find some last-minute presents amidst the madness of shopping centres, with the addition of cramming in time amongst work and baby girl and writing to make gingerbread cookies, and a gingerbread cheesecake for Christmas day.

I am so, so thankful to have these festive challenges. I will not call them problems.

You know what a problem is? Terminal illness. Disease. Young children fighting for their lives. Being unable to move, or speak, or do anything for yourself, because an illness has taken hold of your body and has you captive against your will.

I was thinking about the concept of giving earlier this month. It’s a time of year when there is such an emphasis on gifts, and an abundance of stuff, that the true meaning of Christmas is often forgotten. Along with family, and love, and appreciation, I believe one fairly prevalent theme behind this time of year is in giving to the unfortunate.

I was at a shopping centre and was stopped by a young guy trying to organise monthly donations to the Starlight Foundation – a fabulous organisation that grants wishes to children with terminal illnesses. Terminal and children. Those words should not belong together in a sentence.

I wanted to help, but I couldn’t dedicate my money in such a consistent manner as to be donating a certain amount every month. I wanted to do a once-off donation, but his stall that day was to gather as many consistent donations as he could. He let me off gently by saying “You can make a once-off donation online – just promise me you’ll do it alright?”

I often get letters by the Stroke Foundation too, ever since a family member suffered from one and I decided to donate. That reminder, along with the above incident, and Christmas lights strung outside houses and carols warbling about “good tidings to the world” ringing out through stores, I approached Hubbie with an idea.

On a particularly low day, days later, I went online and donated to three organisations. Two were for conditions that close family members of ours had been affected by – Stroke and Brain Cancer. The third one was The Starlight Foundation. I don’t go back on my promises.

They were the best presents I’ve given this year, and it’s not even Christmas day yet. I had been feeling low, but I knew it was no where near what people dependent on these organisations were feeling.

Together, Hubbie and I decided, that we’ll have a new Christmas tradition. Along with the Buble songs playing throughout our home in December, my kikki.K advent candle burning down to the number 25, and the smell of gingerbread occupying the house leading to the Merry day, we’ve vowed to make a donation to organisations important to us each Christmas.

Because, when you think about it – if you can buy $50-100 presents for members of your family, I’m sure there’s $30 or $40 bucks somewhere there to spare for an organisation that you think matters. If we all made a little contribution, no matter how small, imagine the tremendous impact it would make for the people with REAL problems at Christmas-time.

Just imagine. Now is the best time to make a difference.

Sun Room Buffet

The Conservatory
Level 1 Crown Entertainment Complex, 8 Whiteman Street Southbank

Something about the word ‘buffet,’ just makes you drool that little bit more. Is it the thought of an endless amount of food on offer for the one price? Is it the thought that rather than agonise over the seemingly endless food choices in the menu, you can try a little bit of everything? Or are we a gluttonous breed that just wants to nom nom nom?

Does anyone actually realise that our stomachs can never digest more than our eyes can absorb?

With high hopes of a banquet feast, we ventured off to The Conservatory on a Sunday for lunch, to celebrate our 6 year wedding anniversary. Awww. I had booked in advance, and upon arrival we were immediately seated at a table with high chair for baby girl ready and waiting. Superb.

The room was amazing. We weren’t seated near the windows, but even so you could see the city skyscrapers and the Yarra River below. Sun room indeed. It was an amazing location. The interior had great high cathedral-like ceilings, and though everything, from the white décor to the staff presentation to the customers themselves, were of a very high and poshy standard, there was a warmth to the atmosphere too. Maybe it was the surprise of the glorious sun shining through on that Autumn day.

It was a very nice feeling to know we were going to be there for the next few hours.

Our lunch buffet session was to last from 12:15 – 3:00pm. I had plans to have little plates and try to taste a little bit of most of the dishes on offer there. I certainly couldn’t try a bit of everything, not only because not everything is to taste, but really? It would be a difficult job stomaching too many flavours together.

As I haven’t food-blogged recently, and having the wonderful bonus of our daughter getting cranky in her high chair, I forgot to photo my first dish. So I kind of had it again for this posts’ sake.

Following are the photos I took on the day, with some brief descriptions.

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My lovely wine, with the unmistakable white background and Hubbie’s meal.

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No I don’t eat prawns, cheese and bread together – the bread and cheese were for baby girl. The prawns were lovely and fresh, really enjoyable.

She didn’t like the cheese, I think it was a bit of a rich, heavier cheddar, so I later brought back bocconcini which she loved.

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I had a kind of sweet chilli chicken salad, which had a decent kick to it – I liked that. I had a few rice paper rolls, which also had a bit of bite due to the lemongrass I think, and I chose those specific ones because I was on a prawn-fest and was craving seafood.

The sushi had cucumber and prawn with some kind of paste, and also not pictured I tried a mussel which had spicy oil flavours drizzled over it. All were great. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the chicken salad though, considering there were no carbs in it.

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I next had food from the Indian/Asian station, which comprised of vegetable and pork dumplings with soy sauce, a spicy papaya salad, tandoori chicken, a mild potato curry, and I think what was saffron rice.

I loved the vegetable dumplings – I should have gotten more of those. The papaya salad surprised me too with its spices, whereas the chicken, potato curry and rice were warm and comforting.

By this stage I had had 4 plates. Some were small, some comprised of light seafood, but still four plates equalled a bit of consumption. I took that opportunity to give myself a needed food break and try to find a change room for baby girl.

*Parents, take note.* By all means, take your nappy-wearing children out with you, everywhere, anywhere you dine, much like we do… just be advised that if eating at the Conservatory, you will have to jump on a golf buggy to find the nearest suitable toilets.

I went through two levels before I found a very kind Crown employee who discovered there was a baby change table in the disabled toilets of The Waiting Room, one ground below Conservatory. Take note parents!

It was probably a good half hour by the time I came back to the table, to see Hubbie brimming with happiness over his half-eaten smorgasbord of a dessert plate, telling me he’d just ordered a latte. So I had to catch up.

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So did baby girl.

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Above dessert plate: A raspberry tart, brownie, goats cheese cheesecake, macaroons, and some fruit with chocolate-dipped strawberries in the middle.

And I seriously thought I was going to go back for more! I couldn’t. The dessert station was a work of art in itself, my God. There were so many things I wanted to try, that I just couldn’t after I’d finished my plate… sigh.

I actually enjoyed my raspberry tart the most, although everything tasted great. Baby girl had bits of dessert here and there as well as some fruit, and then of course she had her babycino which looked great.

My coffee was great too, a much needed finishing-line drink after all that food.

Apart from the day being a celebration of when Hubbie and I exchanged vows to each other, it ended up being surprisingly punctuated by more nostalgia when I discovered that my high school homegroup teacher was eating with his family for a birthday celebration, just two tables over. I haven’t seen him for 13 years, yet we recognised each other almost immediately! It was a happy addition to a wonderful day, and it was great to see again, one of the people who positively impacted me during those crucial high school years too. What a (not) coincidence 😉

Food: 8/10. A lot of it, of a great standard, and very fresh. I almost find this difficult to rate, and explain, because usually when you eat at a restaurant you have chosen a meal that has most times been created by the chef, a meal that should be a wonderful balance and/or contradiction of flavours that dance in your mouth and that leaves you feeling satisfied, happy you ate there, and amazed at the creativity of the dish. When you dine at a buffet, YOU create the way your dish looks, YOU decide what is going to go with what and at the end of the day YOU are the responsible one for what you have eaten. Singularly, the dishes at the Conservatory were consistently great-tasting and the presentation of their food in the stations and of the stations themselves, was amazing. It’s the only food-presentation they are in control of, before we come in slap it on our plates and upload it online to show off to our friends.

Coffee: 7/10. Smooth. We discovered that the first round of coffees was free (part of the price you’re already paying really) when you are lunching there, with any subsequent coffee rounds at an additional price. With a coffee/foam each, we left happy about that.

Ambience: Really lovely. Everything looks so polished and refined, the staff breeze on by, and the people dining there are all dressed up and looking so smart… it’s an upmarket buffet experience. With views of the city coming at you through the windows, you kind of lean back in your seat and go “ahh, I could get used to this.”

Staff: Fantastic, accommodating, which I expected nothing less considering the establishment and price we paid. Our waitress in particular was really kind and friendly, explaining everything to us on arrival, and tending to our needs and baby change requests 🙂

People: There were those celebrating milestones like us, and then there were those that are so rich they rocked up an hour into service and left earlier than everyone else because they do it once a month. Generally an older crowd, I would say 30 +. A few families though, and many large groups of people, it seems to be a social gathering meeting ground.

Price: Our Sunday lunch was $95 pp. We ended up paying $212 in total with my $10 wine and Hubbie’s $12 beer. $12 for Crown?! Get your wallets ready drinkers. Children under 4 do not pay, which is great seeing as most toddlers appetites are so all over the place. (I think children 4-12 years pay 50% of the adult price). Baby girl enjoyed her bread, cheese, cheesy pita bread and bits of vegies, and of course the cake. There are things to suit the kiddies, don’t worry, especially from the dessert station – make your own ice cream cone? Hell yeah even I’ll do that!

Advice: Book in advance, no matter what. I booked 6 days in advance and lucky I did, as I hadn’t realised the Logies were on that night at the Crown! Booking wasn’t an issue though.

As for the food, I would suggest two things.

1: eat the things you like, whether they are a tired and true favourite, like in my case the fresh prawns, and the vegetable dumplings. Eat a lot of them too.

2: try different and interesting things that you have always wanted to try. I know this is in contradiction to the above point, but if you take these two things on board, you’ll leave happier. For example, I had the saffron rice, the sushi and then the macaroons for dessert – all great items which I enjoyed, but these three things I eat quite regularly, and if we’re being honest, they tasted about as good as all the other times I ate them. I was happy I tried the spicy chicken salad, because it was a different dish for me, however I wish I had also tried some of the Asian stir-fry and noodle dishes. It had been my intention, I just got too full and then it was dessert time. Also, rather than the macaroons, I should have tried one of the other magical looking sweet treats… you just gotta check out that food station. Food for thought.

In summary of the above, eat what you like but that which you don’t get to eat often!

In a nutshell: I would love to go back. They cater for dinner and breakfast as well, so you can always find a suitable time to buffet there. Taking my above two points in mind, I would go back with a vengeance. A beautiful food-lovers experience.

Conservatory on Urbanspoon

Happiness Is… #10

My Sister.

You know how most people only have time for themselves? I don’t mean that in a selfish way, I mean just generally how people can barely look after their own dramas, let only those of others?

You know how people promise that they’ll show up, or help you, and most of the time they’re just empty words?

You know how people pretend to care, but secretly they’re envious of your position, what you have, or something you’ve achieved?

All of the above: not my sister.

If everyone had a sister like mine, there would be no war in this world. Because if they did, she would talk them out of it, so that everyone would be singing and dancing and holding hands ‘We are the World’ style.

I don’t say this because she is my sister. You may think I am bias, but trust me, I am not. I am the luckiest person to have someone as beautiful, inside and out, as her in my life. Growing up, my friends without sisters, wished she was theirs. Even my friends with sisters, wished she was theirs too.

I have never met anyone else so giving of her time and energy like her. She will lend an ear when you need it, and not even be irritated if you call at the wrong time. She will drive across town to help you out, despite having to take her boys to school or get them babysat. She will move all her events and plans around, so she can get to the other side of the earth, and help you, willingly, and happily, with a smile. She will do so, genuinely, and not expect one ounce of help for her, in return.

Despite hardships she faces, she will give you her time and wisdom when you’re facing a problem. She won’t get mad when you whinge about something trivial, and she won’t have a go at you because your problems aren’t as big as hers. And God knows, she could complain, if she was that kind of person. She has problems, she has challenges. If anyone were allowed to be angry, or sad, she would be completely forgiven for it. And yet, she smiles. She continues to be positive and thankful, and does everything at once, to please everyone at once, because that’s just her.

She gives so much of herself, of her inspiring, beautiful energy, to everyone around her… even those who don’t deserve it. I get mad sometimes, because I find myself thinking ‘why are you so nice to them!’ That’s her greatest fault, right there. She is too nice.

She is so selfless with her time. She will drop the 101 things on her plate to help you out. I am still sometimes bewildered by how giving she is of herself in spite of all the things going on in her life. She works, has a husband, and 2 boys, and I just don’t know how she fits it all in, and is still able to be there for others. She is wonder woman.

She’s one of those people, that everyone loves. If you were to not like her, sorry (actually I’m not) but something is severely wrong with you. You can’t even say she’s too nice, because she is so much fun, so happy, so up for doing new things and partying and drinking with you, that she is genuinely an EVERYBODY’S person.

I actually can’t put into words, how amazing she is. Because it’s one of those things, that until you see it, and experience it for yourself, you just don’t know. She’s one of those special, once in a lifetime people, that once you find, you hold onto with all your might.

She’s my sister, and I’m so freaking blessed and lucky and stoked that she is mine.

Thank you Big Sis, for being the best person there is. You make the world a much happier, lighter and brighter place with your presence.

I love you. We all do.

Love, Little Sis.