leap yeah!

Today my little “big” cousin Jordan turns 5!!!

Actually, he is really turning 19 but because he was (un)fortunately born on the 29th February (the additional day we get on a leap year) he’s only having his 5th real birthday!

Happy birthday Jordy!

Jordan (L) and his Dad John (R)

recipe | beef & sweet potato fritters w grilled asparagus & balsamic tomatoes

I’ve been experimenting with low calorie recipes in readiness for the 12WBT recipe competition. According to the hubby this is the best one yet!

Beef & sweet potato fritters with asparagus & balsamic tomatoes


  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 large brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsps Tuscan herbs (like oregano, thyme, etc)
  • 400g sweet potato (aka kumera) peeled & grated
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • cooking oil spray (I use coconut oil spray)
  • 500g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 bunches asparagus, steamed or grilled
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf/Italian parsley
  • sea salt & cracked pepper


For the beef fritters; combine mince with herbs, half the onion & pepper to taste. Form into 8 small patties, cover & set aside in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to low for warming.

For the sweet-potato fritters; combine the sweet potato with the remaining onion, flour, eggs, salt & pepper. Heat a large fry-pan, spray with oil and pour 1/3 cupfuls of the mixture in batches into the pan and fry til golden & cooked through (roughly 3 mins each side). Keep warm & covered in the oven.

cook sweet potato fritters in batches

Put the asparagus on for grilling or steaming and place tomatoes in a bowl, pour over the balsamic and set aside.

grilling asparagus
balsamic tomatoes

Cook the beef patties in batches til golden  & cooked through (roughly 3 mins each side). 

Serve by placing beef pattie on top of the sweet potato fritter, accompanied by the asparagus & tomato mixture.

Serves 4 (2 fritter stacks p/serve which means that’s dinner & left overs for lunch the next day!)
389 calories per serve

the true & disturbing past account of my abhorrent sibling behaviour

It’s terrible to admit, but I wasn’t exactly happy to have my brother Justin join the family when I was 3 years and 11 months old.

Since that time almost 30 years ago, we’ve had a true love/hate sibling relationship. 

These days we actually get along pretty well, which is probably due to the fact that he lives in another state (I’m in NSW and he’s in WA which is 5000+kms west) and that we talk on the phone once or twice a week and only physically see each other once a year.

the man in question | Juzzy in my backyard January 2012

I remember most of the major fights we’ve had (both verbal and physical), but one that I feel particularly guilty about is the time when he was about 6 months old (maybe? the memory of a 4 year old is open to debate) sitting in his stroller and I would quietly sneak up to him, pinch him and then wait for him to cry so that Mum/Dad would let me hold him. Terrible I know. Even as a child I could be a vindictive little brat!

Now I won’t go into the details of our numerous other fights over the years; I won’t account the time when he tried to stab me with my Dad’s ultra-sharp fish-filleting knife or how I reacted by putting his head through a window, or the time I accidentally-on-purpose ruined his CD player so he hit me over the head with a large bronze statue of an eagle which missed my head and sliced into my shoulder (causing me to miss an important swim meet that weekend), or how his ADD used to make him so obsessive-compulsive that he wouldn’t allow you to walk into his bedroom with clicking your tongue 3 times and if you touched anything he’d completely freak out!

Yes, you can get the picture of the type of siblings we were. Hideous to each other. My poor Mother…. Thank goodness we’re (generally) much better now.

Anyway, the reason for this whole confession is that I saw these Awkward Sibling Photos on the Essential Kids website that I thought were hilarious and had to share.


So are you guilty of inflicting sibling pain or is it just me???

the incredible, talented Ms Knowles

I ♥ Beyonce!

Not only does she have an incredible voice,
she is insanely beautiful and has the most amazing energy.

I just saw this video for her song “Move Your Body” which is a revamp of ‘Get Me Bodied’ which she did last year in the States for Michelle Obama’s Get Moving’ campaign encouraging kids to get out and be active.

Isn’t it fun, fabulous and so catchy!?!

And just because here are some smokin’ hot pics of her from cover shoot for ‘Dazed & Confused’ Magazine.

12wbt | week 1 roundup

Week 1 of 12 kicked off hard & fast! 1km time-trial on Monday, followed by getting myself back into the Body Pump groove and then hitting SSS with an indoor/outdoor split session. It was also a challenging “red flag” week as I had 3 social events that focused around eating out.

Here’s my summary;


Monday dinner: chargrilled steak with corn & avocado salsa
Monday Dessert: Jode's spiced yoghurt & berries
Monday workout calorie expenditure
  • 1km run time-trial (5 mins 33 sec)
  • 6 rounds plyometric intervals (1 min work, 30 sec rest) of basketball   jump squats, mountain climbers, tricep dips & pushups
  • 3km jog


Tuesday brekkie: toast with boiled egg, avocado & spinach
Tuesday dinner: Bucatini all `Amatriciana
Tuesday workout calorie expenditure
  • Body Pump class


Wednesday dinner: couscous with grilled chicken & salad
Wednesday workout calorie expenditure
  • 4km run/walk
  • 6 rounds plyometric intervals (1 min work, 30 sec rest) of basketball   jump squats, mountain climbers, tricep dips & pushups


Thursday lunch: corn thins with salmon & tomato
Thursday dinner: Steak with mash and veggies
Thursday workout calorie expenditure
  • Body Pump class (with my favourite instructor Bettina who’s back from her 3 month Europe holiday!!!!)


Friday dinner: zucchini, bacon, onion, olive & feta pita pizza
Friday workout calorie expenditure
  • Xtrainer 30 minutes / Level 9 / RPM 90+
  • Treadmill 20 mins / brisk walking on speed 6.5
  • Core workout (50 x each crunches, bicycles, toe-reach, oblique crunch all with 5kg plate)


Saturday brekkie: toast with cottage cheese, salmon, baked beans, tomato & spinach
Saturday lunch: heirloom tomato, bocconcini salad with micro-herbs
Saturday workout session1 calorie expenditure
Saturday exercise session 2 calorie expenditure
  • Body Combat class
  • 4km walk/run 


Sunday brunch: breakfast burrito with egg & bacon
Sunday exercise calorie expenditure

Notes on the week:

  • The Challenges: I was hungry! Obviously I let my portion sizes creep up during the 2 month off-season and I really felt the hunger with the decreased portion sizes this week.
  • The Upside: The exercising was great; no problem with sticking to a 7 day set (although the program only calls for 6 days)
  • The Challenges: Saturday at the movies (icecream, lollies, popcorn Oh My!) was a food challenge. I understand that I still have a long way to go to get over my psychological hangups with thinking of food as a reward. 
  • The Upside: I created a couple of great low-calorie recipes and did some cooking on Sunday for the week ahead. I also participates on the 12WBT forums which is a goal of mine this time around.

recipe | low-cal apple & oat muffins

Inspired by reading low calorie muffins from various food blogs and the recent recipe from awesome fellow 12WBTer Ange on her blog From F**ked to Fab, I decided to create my own muffin recipe; specifically for brekkie on the run (because they’re not sweet) but you could eat these for morning or afternoon tea too!

Mel’s low-cal apple & oat muffins


Kitchen tools

  • 2 mixing bowls (1 of them large)
  • mixing spoon
  • knife
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • flour sifter
  • 12 capacity muffin tray
  • optional: 12 patty-cases
  • oven


  • 2 x medium sized apples, grated (reserving 1/4 of an apple for decoration)
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 cup quick oats (reserving 1 tbsp for decoration)
  • 1tbs caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g vanilla fat-free yogurt
  • 1 x 120g tub apple puree (I use SPC brand)
  • 2 egg whites


Preheat the oven to 180°C (roughly 350°F).

In a large mixing bowl sift the flour, then add the rest of the dry ingredients (oats, bicarb, soda, cinnamon, salt & sugar).

In another bowl, add all the wet ingredients (egg whites, milk, grated apple, apple puree, milk, oil, vanilla & yogurt) before mixing well to combine.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, then add the wet mixture, stirring only to combine (careful not to over-stir otherwise the mixture becomes tough & doesn’t rise as much).

In a greased 12-cup muffin tin, evenly distribute the mixture, top with reserved decoration ingredients (sliced apple & sprinkle of oats) & bake for 30-35 mins or until golden and when testing skewer comes out clean.

Makes 12 serves of 143 calories per serve.

Every Kingdom

I’m currently listening to English musician
Ben Howard
‘s album Every Kingdom.

He does the most beautiful modern-folk music.
He reminds me of John Mayer before he became a complete pretentious twat.

With the most amazing voice this singer/songwriter is one to watch out for if you don’t know of him already.

Checkout this acoustic set of a couple of songs from his aforementioned album.


On another note, I’ve been to that very spot at The Louvre in Paris
where he’s sitting!
Small, beautiful world.

more about him here

celebrating ten years

Last night I was inducted into my work’s 10 year dinner club; a honorary “club” that acknowledges and celebrates length of service.

It was a great night; held at The Sebel on Manly beach (which happens to be hosting the Australian Surfing Competition at the moment) so it was vibrant and a buzz more than usual.

The Sebel on Manly Beach
The Sebel Hotel

Once you’re inducted you get to go to the special celebration dinner every year. The one held here in Sydney last night services both the NSW and ACT branches. There are other celebration nights held in Brisbane and Melbourne (servicing VIC & SA branches). It was great catching up with fellow “lifers”, just relaxing, eating nice food, drinking good wine and sharing stories with our partners.

Here are some pics of the night:

work colleague & mate Shookie & his girlfriend Raj
work colleagues Kevin & Robbie (who is a good buddy)
colleague Kevin & his wife
Jay & I
group shot
another group shot

This event is what Michelle Bridges calls a “red flag” day. Even though the new 12WBT program has been going a week I’ve had 2 red flag days and I’ve got a third red flag lunch today (Friday team pub lunch & lawn bowls). However, I kept on top of my calorie intake by minimising my alcohol (2 glasses only) and only eating half of each of the 3-course dishes.

Steak with mash and veggies
berry cheesecake with honeycomb for dessert

It was a wonderful night to celebrate being with a great company for 10 years. I love what I do (most of the time!) and we’re innovative and visionary which is quite a feat in a post-GFC world. We’re 11,000+ employees globally and are now owned by one of the largest Telcos in the world (NTT). It’s pretty exciting to be apart of it all!

heart day

Let me tell you about Valentines Day.

Jay & I have never really celebrated it.

It seems too commercial, too contrived to have a day that’s stipulated by retail to be romantically surprising on the most unsurprising of days.
It’s a marketing holiday created by the likes of Hallmark and the florist industry to sell us romance complete with overpriced flowers, over-inflated chocolates and un-inspired restaurant set-menus.

A couple of months ago I found this Etsy store that does personalised art prints to tell the “it all began” tale of your own love story. I thought this was a beautiful & inspired idea, so I created the one of my own and ordered it.
With this in mind, I also calculated that I’d be receiving my order a few weeks before the day of St Valentine and I may as well give it to Jay to mark the occasion and that we should go out for dinner to top it off!

A Tavola is a restaurant that we’ve been to before in April last year for Dinner Club [that review here]. It’s Italian consisting of a well thought menu with simple dishes bursting with robust flavours that stay true to the various regions of Italy. The pasta is mostly hand made onsite and the small menu card (3 entrees, 3 mains, 3 sides) is supplemented by daily specials.

I received an email from them saying they were taking bookings for Valentines Day and it would be menu as usual, no set situation or set times. Huzzah!!!

We arrive early and get a drink at a lovely little Euro bar called Lil Darlin’ across the road from the restaurant while we wait for our booking.

Lil Darlin street front | pic courtesy of http://excusemewaiter.wordpress.com
interior communal table - pic from Australian Gourmet Traveller
pic courtesy http://jbjose.com

Below: Jay orders a special from the Consigli board. Unlike me, he’s generally not a pasta fan but he is in love with this dish and barely comes up for air as he omnomnom’s his way through it! (I couldn’t think of a better word to describe his complete face stuffing!)


Below: I have pasta off the standard menu. It’s right up my ally, with proscutto and tomatoes and Tuscan herbs. Yum.

Bucatini all `Amatriciana

We have a side of “Red cabbage, raisins, dolce latte, walnuts, balsamic” which is acidicly tart and has delicate clumps of blue-vein cheese through it scattered with crunchy walnuts. We drink a Sangiovese from Toscana ‘2007 Giacomo Mori – Palazzone Chianti’. Then boo, we’re too stuffed to contemplate dessert!

All in all Tuesday night was a lovely date night free from cheesy heart shaped anything! I could get used to this Valentines Day thing…

twenty seven names

Back in September 2011 during New Zealand Fashion Week, designers twenty seven names‘ chose to preview their latest collection in an unconventional way….exhibiting their collection ‘take cover‘ at the Auckland gallery instead of on the runway. The result was an intriguing shoot of models wearing the collection, designed by Anjali Stewart and Rachel Easting, set against a backdrop of matching print wallpaper.

According to an interview on The VineThe chameleonic effect is countered by the model’s impetuous expression. “We wanted to create mood… The model selection, and her expression was really important,” Stewart explains. “She’s an unobliging wallflower.

See more of the past & present collections from twenty seven names on their site http://www.twentysevennames.co.nz

all pics from The Vine