what I’ve learned from O

I have such admiration for Oprah; what she’s achieved, her compassion, her generosity and her joie de vivre.

I don’t remember how or when I started watching Oprah. For as long as I remember there’s always just been Oprah….in light her final three episodes ever last week (and me shedding a tear or twenty) it got me thinking of all the things I’ve learnt from watching the Oprah show.

  • don’t judge a book by it’s cover; people come in many shapes, sizes, ethnicities and have such diverse backgrounds and experiences. I’m constantly learning never to assume you know someone’s values or beliefs simply by looking at them, or knowing where they grew up or went to college, who their friends with or how much money they have in their wallet. People can always surprise you. You don’t have to hold the same opinions to be friends with or respect someone.
  • embrace diversity; how boring would it be to open the wardrobe and only ever wear one colour, or to eat the same food every meal, or listen to the same band on the radio every day? It’s a simple analogy but the same applies to people. Racial diversity brings difference. And difference is the spice of life.
  • to accept myself fully; beauty and flaws and all. I don’t look like a supermodel and there are things about my body that I want to work on. I need to remember that looks aren’t everything. When you look at the bigger picture, like issues in your community or the adversity women face in other countries, then making sure that the cellulite on your butt gets the latest miracle cream just doesn’t seem all that important. As long as your healthy and your body functions for you, then learn to accept and love what you’ve got and not to equate your beauty to that of models and celebrities.
  • your health is important Oprah introduced me to her “women’s doctor” Dr Christiane Northrup. I bought her book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and it is amazing. She has an empowering approach to women’s health and wellness, and having spent over 25 years in obstetrics and gynecology she knows a thing or two about women and they way they work physiologically and mentally. This book changed my view on health and medicine.
  • you are not your circumstance; Oprah is the example of this. She came from very humble beginnings to become the influential woman that she is today. Her message has always been that you have the power to change what you don’t like about your life. Not everyone can make big changes in one attempt, but that shouldn’t stop us from constantly trying to better ourselves and our circumstances to reach our goals. Jay & I are pretty good examples of this. Without going too much into the details, we have both gotten to where we are in our lives and career purely on our own without financial help from our parents. We’re here in-spite of our parents and childhood circumstances. I think of my friends Mandy and Grace who are living their best lives despite their parents and childhood. You just have to make a decision and then keep inching out towards the top. I truly believe this.

I loved what one of Oprah’s guests said during the two-part second to last show. When speaking about what lasting legacy Oprah’s show will leave behind, Madonna said

“the legacy from the Oprah Winfrey show; everything you made us feel, dream, wish, wonder, believe, hope. All of it, felt by women and men in 150 countries around the world.”

To me, that’s what’s most important about what Oprah has given the world through her last 25 seasons of the Oprah Winfrey Show; that you have the power to make a great life possible. You just have to believe that you can. And do it.

week of dinners

I love cooking! Which is just as well, cause I also love eating! And I have a husband who couldn’t cook to save his life…so the household story goes; I cook, he eats, he fills my need to be praised for my cooking. It’s win/win!

Here is last week’s dinners:

the menu pegged to the kitchen wall


smoked chilli chicken burger

Recipe by Donna Hay (Fast, Fresh, Simple) Smoked chilli chicken burger

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp  smoked sweet paprika
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 x 200g chicken breast fillets, trimmed and sliced lengthways
2 bread rolls, halved (*I used a long baguette, cut into half)
rocket (arugula) leaves, to serve
lemon mayonnaise:
1/4 cup (85g) store-bought whole-egg mayo
1 tbsp lemon juice

To make the lemon mayo, place the mayo and lemon juice in a bowl and mix to combine. Combine the oil, paprika and chilli and pour over the chicken. Preheat a barbecue or char-grill pan over high heat. Cook the chicken for 2 minutes each side or until cooked through. Spread the rolls with the lemon mayo and top with the rocket and chicken to serve. Serves 2.


angel hair pasta with shelled-crab

Date night! Jay & I went to Raffinato’s Cocktail bar and Restaurant in Pyrmont for a lovely date night. The company was fantastic, the wine was good, too bad about the food… [read my review here]


One of the coldest days in May (11-14°C) and the first of three State of Origin clashes between NSW Blues (cockroaches) and QLD Maroons (cane toads)! While we watched the game, I served up:

Mexican corn & bean salad with grilled pork

1tsp ground cumin
1tsp chilli flakes
2 lean pork rib-eye fillets (or whatever cut you prefer)
oil spray (or 1tbsp olive oil) for cooking
2 cobs of corn, kernels cut off
1 (400g) can of kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
4 shallots, diced
2 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1/2 avocado, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix cumin and chill-flakes and rub over pork. Grill pork over mid-high heat, 3 mins on first side, 2 mins on the other side. Cover and set aside.

Fry corn kernels for 2 mins or until brightly coloured. Add in beans, stir and cook for another minute before adding in tomato and herbs (coriander, parsley, shallots & chilli). Season to taste. Take off heat, add lemon juice.

Serve corn and bean salad on a plate, topped with pork steak and dressed with diced avocado. Serves 2.


roasted carrot & parsnip salad with grilled scotch fillet

Roasted carrot & parsnip salad; recipe by Donna Hay (fast, fresh, simple)

3 carrots, peeled and quartered
3 parsnips, peeled and quartered
2 tbs oil
1.5tbs ground cumin
2 tbs honey
2 tbs lemon juice*
1/2 cups coriander (cilantro) leaves
85g labne or creamy feta
1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, halved
1 tbs sumac

* this is where I deviated from the recipe as I found the dressing mix needed an acidic balance.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the carrot and parsnip in a ceramic baking dish. Combine the oil, cumin and honey (& lemon juice) and pour half the mix over the veggies. Cover and cook for 15 mins, then uncover and cook for a further 15 mins or until the veggies are tender. Divide the veggies between serving plates and top with the coriander, labne/feta and hazelnuts. Pour over remaining honey mixture as a dressing and sprinkle with sumac. Serves 2.

(I forgot all about the feta, so it doesn’t appear on my dinner plate!)


…night Jay, James & I ate pizza and drank copious glasses of wine. I did not cook! I’ll move that meal plan to next week.


Saturday night we listened to music, slow danced in our lounge room and cooked ribs.

ribs dry rub

Spice-roasted ribs. Recipe by Donna Hay (fast, fresh & simple)

1kg American-style pork spare ribs or baby-back ribs
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 160°C. Cut the ribs into 4 sections. Combine the paprika, chilli, sugar and salt. Rub generously over both sides of the rubs and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Cover with aluminium foil and roast for 1 hour. Remove the cover and increase heat to 220°C. Bake for 15 mins or until browned.

chinese cabbage, finely shredded
red cabbage, finely shredded
red capsicum, finely shredded
red radish, thinly sliced
1 carrot, grated
1/4 cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp whole egg mayo
2 tbsp lite sour cream

Ribs and 'slaw

one picture

last day in 10 daily reveals

this is bold! me in all my no-make-up glory….

this is Melly

for me, blogging over the last 10 days has been educational & fun! I enjoyed discovering my thoughts on each subject and sharing all this with you! hope you enjoyed it!

let them eat cake!

Yesterday was Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea to raise funds for the Cancer Council. 

Groups and businesses can register to be apart of the event and this is the second year that my workplace has been involved. According to the morning tea website, so far $890,666 has been raised!

For a gold-coin donation, colleagues could have morning tea and then place a vote on which cake they liked best.

I came in second place for my Coconut Vanilla Cake (above, second-row on the left) and I also make some Ninjabread men (third-row on the left).

Third place was my work buddy Mel C who made a Lemon Meringue Pie (top row on the right) and another friend Nat made the most delicious Tunisian Orange Flourless Cake (second-row on the right) which placed fourth.

First place was John’s Lemon Tart (the yellow pie on the right below)

Marie Antoinette's delight!

 Our waistline’s were added too but the cause makes it all worth it.

two songs

day 9 of the 10 day reveal
  1.  The Real Thing by Gwen Stefani. I walked to meet my future husband on our wedding day to this song. I didn’t have an ‘aisle’ as such because we got married on a beach in the Whitsundays. This song is beautiful, romantic, wistful, sweet and memorable.

    our wedding day
  2. Up on the Roof by James Taylor. I put this song on and I’m instantly happy and calm. The master storyteller is getting away from it all and when the music crescendos it helps that feeling of soaring  above it all and leaving your worries behind. Nobody does it better. It’s beautiful. 

three films

day 8 of the 10 day reveal
  1. Let Me In This is one of the best independent films I’ve seen. It’s also one of the best vampire films I’ve seen. The 2010 American remake directed by Matt Reeves is based on the Swedish 2008 film called Let the Right One In (and novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist) which tells the story of a brutishly bullied 12 year boy and his friendship with a vampire girl in New Mexico in the 1980s. It’s more than just a vampire film; their complex relationship shows the depth of these characters, their bleak predicaments and the contrast of innocence and violence. The acting by Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) is fantastic, as is the supporting cast of Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas. If you haven’t already, see it!
  2. The Fence Documentary. Directed by Rory Kennedy  and produced by HBO, it examines the impact of the controversial fence between along the US-Mexico border. In 2006 the US government passed The Secure Fence Act which resulted in the building of a 700-mile fence along the troubled 2000-mile+ border with Mexico. Of the Act, former President George W. Bush said “This bill will help protect the American people. This bill will make our borders more secure. It is an important step toward immigration reform.” The fence has cost more than US$3 billion to date. While it has helped limit attacks of violence on the Border Patrol Officers, it hasn’t decreased the amount of drugs entering the US from Mexico or reduced the average number of illegal immigrants running the border. As one border patrol officer states, it’s “a band-aid on a chest wound”. A fascinating and educational look at the fence and the impact on the American & Mexican people as well as the US economy and the environment.
  3. Water for Elephants.  I saw this over the weekend and it was a beautiful rendition of the novel by Sara Gruen. The cast is directed by Francis Lawrence; Reece Witherspoon looks amazing and acted brilliantly as always, Robert Pattinson was good (so good that I didn’t think of him as ‘Edward’ once!) and Christoph Waltz  was fantastic as the brutal August. You’re heartbroken and then heart-warmed. Loved it!