Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This week I'm thankful for...chocolate coated licorice

Organic licorice coated with Belgium chocolate. Yes this week I am thankful for this fabulous treat!

As mentioned in my last post I ventured home on the weekend. One of the best things about the part of the world I am from (and there are many) is the locally produced licorice. Mix it with chocolate and you have a perfect combination.

I had a list of things I wanted to do while home for the weekend and one of the jobs at the the top of my list was to load up on chocolate treats from the Green Grove Organics Junee Chocolate and Licorice Factory. The chocolate coated organic licorice, macadamias and almonds are just some of my favourite treats.

In addition to the chocolate available at this heavenly location, it's also a great place to visit for a tour of the factory and a devonshire tea.

Thanks Green Grove for your fabulous licorice and chocolate. I am one happy and contented lady!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Politics can be a funny business

Politics can be a funny business. It has the ability to divide people, start debates and fire people up. But it also has the ability to unite people, inspire people and give people hope for a better day. I’ll be the first to admit this election campaign has been lacking inspiration and substance, but last night I experienced firsthand the commitment and passion of a regional community and how important a good representative is.

I have just returned from a weekend in my home town helping out a friend standing as a candidate for Federal Parliament. I grew up in regional NSW in a great part of the world. Despite moving to the city four years ago I still feel connected to and passionate about rural and regional Australia.

For many people living in the city, life in the country is hard to imagine. And I know in many cases it’s not because city people don’t care (although I’m starting to realise some of our city politicians don’t give a damn) but because they haven’t experienced it. They haven’t had to pay to see a general practitioner because bulk billing is available, they haven’t had to travel for hours to visit a specialist or travel to a capital city and be away from their family and support network while they undergo cancer treatment and they haven’t had to experience the heartbreak of drought. It is for all these reasons and many more that I feel so strongly about the bush and rural and regional people having services on par with their city cousins.

So yesterday I spent the best part of six hours handing out how to vote pamphlets to voters in the Riverina at various locations around the electorate for The Nationals candidate Michael McCormack. Michael is someone who is committed to the region and will work hard to represent the interests of the rural and regional electorate he now represents. He will fight for his constituents, ensure that services and funding continue to flow to the region and represent their best interests.

It was a great day; there was no animosity or rudeness at the booths, despite the fact the Liberal Party also decided to stand a candidate running the risk of splitting the conservative vote. All of the volunteers were there because they believed in their candidates, National, Labor, Liberal, Green, Independent and so on and what they in turn stand for. So whether you agree or disagree with their political views it's impossible not to admire and respect them.

After the polls closed, the waiting for the results began. While the rest of the nation was on a knife edge (and still is) the news came through in just under two hours that Michael McCormack had been elected the new Member for Riverina.

You might be asking why I would go back home to help out on in an electorate I no longer live in. My hubby and I are country people at heart. We both care about rural and regional communities, particularly the ones we grew up in and where our family and friends live. One day we may return to live in the country and I’d like to see this part of Australia continue to grow and flourish. We need more people to stand up for these communities and understand the issues that they face. And finally I wanted to support a friend who has always supported me in my endeavours.

It was a tough campaign but at the end of the day, the people of the Riverina chose to elect a candidate they believe will stand up for them and fight for their interests in Canberra. I know Michael will do just that. Looking around the campaign celebrations last night I was inspired. Inspired by the former Member for Riverina Kay Hull who has dedicated the past 12 years of her life to the region and has delivered above and beyond, inspired by the new Member for Riverina who is full of enthusiasm and so committed to doing the best job for his region and finally inspired by the tireless volunteers who have worked so hard for this result. It was impossible not to be inspired, to believe and to be united by hope for the future.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

This week I'm thankful hairdresser

This week I’m going to be totally vain and be thankful for my hairdresser! Yep, that’s right my hairdresser.

I had my regular appointment on Saturday and it’s one of my luxuries. I love the salon, the service, the product and most of all the way I feel after each and every visit. I feel like a million dollars and wish that I could visit my hairdresser every couple of days for a wash and dry, because we all know that no matter how hard we try our own styling never looks as good as the hairdresser.

I have friends who view a visit to the hairdresser as a chore and others who get home from an appointment and wash their hair straight away. Not me, I look forward to my hair appointment for at least a week before I go and try to get as long as I can from my wash and blowdry. Dry shampoo helps drag it out another day if I’m really loving my hair style.

For me, a visit to the hairdresser is also a chance for some pampering, a hot chocolate, some gossip and an excellent sampling of the latest magazines. An added bonus is that my hair salon is located in Paddington so it’s a great chance to check out the Paddington markets or Oxford Street. Not good for the credit card, but oh so good for the soul!

Anyway, like I said it’s totally vain but this week I’m thankful for my hairdresser and his ability to make me feel great after every visit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The renovations continue...

A week or so ago I wrote about the plans for our new kitchen and the choice we had to make on floor tiles. Well with just one week to go until the tradesmen come in and perform their magic my hubby and I (read hubby) have been busy little beavers.

The splashback has been removed and clearly a home handyman who was not so handy decided to tackle that job when the current kitchen was installed. We were left with one last window frame of ridiculously bright yellow and that has now been painted over. My style is to start with a neutral base and then add brighter colours to accessorise. We’ve based our renovations around that idea and I think it makes our home feel more spacious and more homely. I’ve never really understood using the rainbow of colours in an open plan house or for that matter any type of house.

Anyway, so back to the kitchen. Hubby has set up a temporary pantry in our office, which he is calling our own Masterchef pantry. Check out the photo – it’s pretty clever. This will sustain us for the week and then I’m off for the weekend while my hubby does the last few required jobs before the professionals turn up Monday morning.

Four days of takeaway and paper plates later we will have a new and transformed kitchen. And I haven’t mentioned the best bits – a sparkling new oven, big pot drawers and wait for it, a dishwasher!

Stay tuned.

Friday, August 13, 2010

There's more to New South Wales than Sydney

I’m angry, frustrated and fed up about an issue that has been part of my life for a number of years and I’ve finally reached the point where I just have to let it all out and let the world (or my little band of loyal blog readers) know I’ve had enough.

Ok, some background – I was born in a city in regional New South Wales, Australia and spent the first 20 odd years of my life in this community. My family had been part of this community for generations, I was educated there, worked there, met my husband there, have lifelong friendships there and I still feel a very close connection to this city and community. I have fought for this community, been proud of this community and most of all it will always be my hometown.

This city serves a much larger region. As the regional centre, people come for education, business, shopping and most importantly, medical services. With buildings from the 1920s and 1960s, the city’s public hospital is past its use by date. A new hospital is desperately needed yet the NSW State Labor Government doesn’t give a damn.

As a safe NSW Liberal seat, this community after years of successive Labor Governments has been totally ignored by leaders who see no importance in providing much needed funding for a new hospital. As I said I have watched and participated in this debate for what feels like years and it’s always been a source of frustration. Frustration that NSW Labor Governments have not taken responsibility for this issue, frustration that they want to pass the buck to the Federal Government and frustration that they don’t even care, or pretend to care.

People in regional and rural areas work hard and pay their taxes like all taxpayers yet are continually subjected to sub standard services and a complete lack of disregard because their vote doesn’t seem to count.

The NSW Labor Government has recently shown a complete disregard for another regional community. They have decided to close the local hospital now and build a medical centre. Sounds ok – except the time between closing the hospital and the opening of the new medical centre will be months, possibly a year. So in that period, locals will have to travel to the next town, which as a regional NSW health facility possibly has its own issues. And the Health Minister has the audacity to claim it’s a ‘win, win situation’ for all (Channel Nine News, 6pm, Sydney, 12 August 2010) Excuse me?

Check out this article about the issue and well done to the locals with their Save Gulgong Hospital website.

So I’ve vented my frustration at the complete lack of understanding and willingness of the NSW Labor Government and I do feel slightly better that I have had my say. But it brings me back to my central concern and frustration, why are we as taxpayers and citizens of this state forced to put up with sub standard health services and decisions made by people in government who either don’t have a clue or simply don’t care? Why should the people of this state have to fight so damn hard for basic services.

The other thing that makes mad about the inaction of this government is that the city where I grew up like many others in this country is a can do community. About 10 years ago, my home town was tired of having to send its residents off to Sydney and Melbourne for cancer treatment. For many the travel was isolating, expensive and so very hard for families forced to be apart while a family member underwent treatment. For others, the travel was too much and they were forced to forego treatment, resulting in death. So this community banded together and raised the millions required to establish its own cancer centre. They raised the money, obtained the necessary commitments from the Federal Government thanks to an incredibly hardworking and dedicated member of parliament and built a life saving facility.

So don’t think for a second these people don’t care or aren’t committed to their community. They are, but at a time when they need the understanding and commitment from a government, they are left on their own to fight this battle.

I’ll climb down off my soapbox now!

And it's Flog Your Blog Friday so check these awesome blogs out!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This week I'm thankful for...a hint of spring

Ok it’s Wednesday which means I’m sharing what I’m feeling thankful for this week.

I’m feeling thankful for a little bit of sunshine and a hint of spring. I don’t enjoy winter – it’s cold, it’s dark and the days are far too short. I’m more of a spring and summer person. I love those seasons for the warmer weather, the sunshine, longer days and daylight saving. While I love the warmer months, I also have to take extra care with my skin since I am a red head with fair skin to match.

The weekend weather consisted of cloudless blue skies and the right amount of sunshine. I took a few moments to relax in our backyard with our little dog Max. I took stock of the vegetable patch, herb garden and the peace and quiet while Max snuggled into my lap. It is in these moments that I remember why a backyard was a must have when we bought our home and why we spend hours each day commuting to work.

So with less than three weeks to go until the end of winter, I’m eagerly anticipating the start of spring, the onset of warmer weather and daylight saving (love those extra hours of light at the end of the day).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Renovations are go...again!

Renovations are underway again in our home. I have been enjoying our beautiful bathrooms for the past few months. Hubby and I managed to clean away the dust, paint and rearrange the furniture. It’s a nice place to be at. No dust, no banging, no disruption. But it was never going to last for long.

Yesterday hubby set to work on pulling up the tiles in our kitchen. Yep, next project is the kitchen. Work starts in a few weeks and ideally the floor tiles need to be selected, ordered, laid and grouted all in preparation for our new kitchen. Fortunately for our sanity, professionals will be coming in transform our kitchen from a tired and dated kitchen that really has seen better days to a sparkly, shiny and yes new (I love new) kitchen exuding some serious sophistication (well that’s the plan) all in the space of four days. How awesome is that!

So the tile hunt is on. This is the second weekend we have been tile hunting. We found two tiles last weekend and brought them home for a second look. One was quickly eliminated. We ventured off again yesterday.

Sometimes I have an ability to select a colour or a style and know it will work. Other times I am so indecisive it’s painful. I thought I knew what I was looking for and then I met a saleswoman who completely took charge (which can drive me insane) but yesterday she made it work. A friend had recommended this particular person to us saying she had a real talent with colour and style.

We walked in with our samples and handed them over. She suggested a couple of tiles to ease us in and then bam! hit us with her recommendation. And it worked, boy did it work. I loved the look so much that I didn’t ask the price until we were at sample ordering stage (very economically irresponsible of both hubby and I). The sample is due to arrive sometime this week and then it will be decision time. Which tile will it be?

Here’s a photo of our current kitchen with the floor tiles missing (I didn’t get to photograph it before hubby started ripping tiles up). Stay tuned for the tile decision and the transformation!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Proof that great things come in little packages

Meet Max!

Max is our little baby and our practice run at parenthood. I told my hubby at the outset that if we screwed the dog up then we knew we were not destined to be parents. So hubby and I agreed that if we could feed it, care for it, love it and generally spoil it, then we’d have some chance of succeeding as parents (hopefully!).

The good news is Max has more than survived, he has thrived and so have we. Max is a Maltalier, a designer breed of dog but simply put he is a cross of Cavalier and Maltese. And he leads a pretty charmed life.

A little bit of background as to how and why we settled on the dog that we did. Growing up I always had a family dog. Our last family dog died about 12 months before I moved out of home to live with my boyfriend (now husband).

After buying our first home and getting married, we decided the time was right to get our own little puppy. I grew up with fox terriers and jack russells while my sister chose a chihuahua when she moved out of home. But after a lot of research and talking to people, we decided on a maltalier. The reasons were mainly because of the cavalier influence. I had been told that cavaliers were wonderful pets, especially for families and children, and were very easygoing and not too hyperactive. I received positive comments from most people I spoke to and most of the information on the net. However when I called the vet my family had always dealt with to seek some advice, she promptly launched into a lecture about the problems of cross breeds. At that point, I doubted our initial decision to select a maltalier. My sister-in-law who at one point in her life had bred dogs pointed out the family vet was actually a breeder herself, of pure breds, and so may have been slightly biased towards cross breeds. My sister-in-law reassured me with some good advice – do what feels right for you and what you’re comfortable with. How right she was.

So we went with our initial decision and I have not regretted that decision for any moment of the past two and a bit years we have spent with Max. Hubby and I have both said to each other on many occasions that Max has been one of the best decisions we have made. My parents-in-law have even commented on how much more relaxed and comfortable we have become since Max arrived.

Max has proved to be the perfect choice for us. He is a very chilled out and relaxed dog who is happy to go with the flow and adapt to the situation. He absolutely adores people and loves nothing more than a cuddle. And boy can he lick. He licks everything, everyone and even licks thin air.

We bought Max from a breeder in Bathurst, NSW. I found the breeder online, spoke to them and requested a maltalier with a strong cavalier influence. The breeder placed us on a waiting list in December 2007 and we received an email in mid April containing photos of two male puppies. We picked a little apricot puppy, named him Max and waited for the four weeks to pass until we could collect him.

We prepared ourselves for his arrival; bought a little bed, blankets, soft toys, bowls for food and water, collar, leash, treats and anything a puppy could possibly want. It was finally time to collect him from the breeder. We met the breeder at a local park who was carrying a tiny, furry little bundle in his arms. He gave us the rundown on this little puppy; what to feed him, vet information, etc and then I signed a couple of forms, parted with our money and he was ours. The breeder also revealed that he had placed the puppy on the floor in the backseat of the car in a little box and the puppy had crawled through to the driver’s seat and snuggled up in his lap. Looking back, this was an indication of the personality of the dog we were taking home with us.

Dogs are incredibly loyal and loving. It's one of the amazing attributes of dogs. And Max for us is certainly proof of this love and loyalty. The excitement he displays each night when we come home from work is evidence enough of that.

Next week...Max goes to puppy school

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This week I'm thankful for...

Life throws us all types of curve balls and challenges. When we think we’ve dealt with one hurdle and some smooth sailing would be good for a while, bam another obstacle presents itself. Fortunately or unfortunately this is life and all part of the journey.

Often we hear about the sad events, the tragedies and the negative experiences of life. Sure we all have happy moments and good experiences, but sometimes the positive moments of life are overshadowed by the negative and they go unnoticed and unappreciated. So this is my attempt to try and record some of the things in life I am thankful for. My intention is to do this every Wednesday. It’s halfway through the week and if my week isn’t great, then hopefully it will give me a jolt and remind me of all I can be thankful for.

I will come up with at least one thing I am thankful for. If it’s more than one, I’ll note it down as well.

So today I’m going to start with being thankful for the right to vote. Thankful that there were people in our history brave enough to campaign and fight for the right to vote, something so many of us take for granted.

We’re all aware the 2010 Federal Election has not been the most exciting election campaign to date. There is a lack of passion and debate and we’re left wanting something more from our politicians. I know I want to be inspired by the vision each leader and their party has for our nation. And I’m left wanting more.

However, the election is an opportunity for Australians to have their view and express it by casting their vote for the party they believe will deliver the best future for this nation. In my view, the right to vote is not something we should belittle or complain about. Throughout history, people fought and died for the right to vote. Today in countries around the world, people are desperate to vote in fair elections. I think we should remember this come August 21 when we take a few minutes out of our day to cast a vote. My wish is that every Australian does this responsibly.

I'd love to hear what you're thankful for this week.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A trip down memory lane

I took a surprise trip down memory lane yesterday and relived the cartoons of the 1980s! I’m a child of 80s and while as adults now we look back on that time and laugh at the culture, mainly the fashion, music, television shows and society in general, the reality is that time in our lives is part of who we are today! And what was really wrong with fluro, perms and scrunchies?

Do you have a favourite cartoon from your childhood, maybe it’s been remade in recent years or the original still lingers in your memory? If so and you remember the 1980s, then take a look at this online slideshow titled 'the top 20 greatest '80s cartoons' and enjoy!

For me, as a child in the 80s life was pretty good. I have many fond memories of that time, the television shows, the toys (my parents owned a toy store when I was growing up so my sister and I were incredibly lucky in the toy department), the music, the fashion and of course Australian culture. So when I came across this slideshow online I had a great time flicking through the 20 most awesome cartoons of the 80s.

When talking about our childhood, my hubby and I can both recall a lot of events, television shows, music and movies, but because there is a three year age difference there are often things I don’t remember. Plus I spent a lot of my childhood immersed in books which is something he didn’t experience to the same extent I did, since he was too busy being a boy and playing sport.

So after I came across this slideshow we sat down together to see what cartoons we could remember and reminisce about our favourites.

Here’s my top five (which blew out to my top seven)

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

2. The Smurfs

3. Babar

4. Duck Tales

5. Gummi Bears

6. Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers

7. Inspector Gadget

Further note – I love The Jetsons and while the first series of episodes was recorded in the 1960s, further episodes were produced in the 1980s (thanks Wikipedia).

Let me know what yours are!


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