green machine

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Last week we bought invested in a Vitamix.

We’ve long been dreaming of this kitchen blender beauty; it takes blending to a whole new level and to blend we will!

our Vitamix

Green smoothies (aka kale shake) are an upper to a healthy fit lifestyle; its a fantastic way to kick off your day as your body is getting a jolt of nutrients and it’s amazing for your digestive system! You have this first thing in the morning (although I work out first on an empty tummy and then do the smoothie).

Jay is intent of doing a 2 week daily cleanse following the green smoothie revolution pioneered by Kevin James and brought to light by Jay’s penultimate roll model Joe Rogan. It goes a little something like this:

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If you want to give the green smoothie revolution a go, here are some more recipes via the Vitamix database.

This was our first green smoothie this morning

Ingredients: 1 bunch kale, 2 celery stalks, 2 small unwaxed apples, 1 unwaxed pear, 1 carrot, 250ml coconut water.

I think it’s a little too much volume so we’ll halve it tomorrow…

Viva the green revolution!

pump it up!

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A few things that I’m sure you know about Les Mills International:

  • it’s a fitness company who pioneered classes like Body Pump, Body Attack, Body Combat, RPM, Body Balance
  • it’s a Kiwi brand hailing from Auckland NZ
  • the classes are a fun way to exercise and burn calories

A few things I bet you didn’t know about Les Mills International…

  • Leslie “Les” Mills was an Olympic Athlete (gold medal in discus in 1966)
  • Les Mills was the Mayor of Auckland from 1990-1998
  • Les Mills is the figure head of the company
  • his son Phillip Mills actually dreamed, created and developed Les Mills International and all the classes that it’s famous for
  • I am a huge fan of Combat and Pump!
Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre exterior

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Our gym (Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre in Ultimo) recently had an equipment upgrade and we’ve got kickarse, super cool pink Pump equipment (including pink weights and rises)!!!

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upgraded RPM room

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Pump is high repetition/low-ish weights set to music so that it acts as a cardio workout in addition to toning.  I say “low-ish” weights because you can always load up your bar if you love to feel the burn! 

The music is usually covers or specially licensed songs. A typical set list for music goes something like this:

BODYPUMP 79 tracklist

Warmup: Higher – Logan S. feat. Mandy Brewer
Squats: Closer To The Edge – Mekon Garden
Chest: Party All Night (Sleep All Day) – Sean Kingston
Back: Written In The Stars (Sunny Dee Remix) – Jason Born
Triceps: Born This Way – Southern Light
Biceps: Livin’ On A Prayer – Altiyan Childs
Lunges: Grenade (Damn-R Mix) – Jason Born
Shoulders: J’Adore Hardcore (Extended Mix) – Scooter
Abdominals: We’ll Be Alright – Travie McCoy
Cooldown: The Crow & The Butterfly – Shinedown
Alternative 5 – Triceps: If We Ever Meet Again (Hans-O-Matik Bigroom Radio Cut) – Pandora BX

{set list via}

As much as I love it, lately I’ve been feeling I’m outgrowing Pump. Jay says Pump is a graduate program for the weights floor (where all the big boys work out)! So Ive decided to only do Pump once a week (instead of 2-3 times) and work out on the gym floor 1-2 times. 

cakes for harmony day

Last week, the 21st March, was Harmony Day; an initiative by the Australian Government to remind us of our multicultural society and the differences that define us is what joins us as Australians.

We have over 40 different cultural backgrounds at my workplace, so to celebrate we held a morning tea, where people could bring in food specific to their culture, for everyone to share. It was wonderful!

cultural goodies on display
Aussie ANZAC Biscuits
Bangladeshi delights
South African Biltong (the company I work for originated in South Africa, although it is now owned by NTT Japan)
the not-so-humble pav (Pavlova) with its nefarious origination in NZ...
gathering
my mate & fellow PM, Amanda (aka Mands)
a yummy-looking cake of unknown origin
resource co-ordinator Nat looking devilishly guilty with her plate!
Vietnamese Mango Sticky Rice...mmmmmmm yum!
a couple of the managers (the one the left is Kiwi Ben standing in front of his proud pavlova!)
Bangladeshi Curry Puffs
decimating the food table
omnomnom!

Everyone loved seeing (mostly homemade) foods from different cultures and it was a great half-hour break from our desks to celebrate our diversity!

this ones a cutie

Our friends James and Natalie are about to have their second baby.

This is their first born; the adorable little Patrick aka Patch.

peek-a-boo! Patch I see you!

When he was born (November 2010) he looked like this:

baby Patch in his parents hands

They live about an hour north of us, so we sometimes catch up for a meal in the middle.

James & Patch
Patch
the little family x 3.5 (there is another baby in that belly!)

And here is a couple of pics from their recent NZ trip

Patch hanging out at Hokitika Gorge
Nat & Jimmy - between Picton and Nelson

LOVE this little family and can’t wait to meet their new addition when he is born!

it’s a love story | clare & james

While I haven’t posted one for a while, last year saw Love Stories from The Dawes, The Jacksons and our story!

I’m going to kick off the 2012 season with the story about James’ marriage proposal to his gorgeous Clare.

James is a work buddy and a fellow Project Manager. When we’re not stealing each other’s engineers for projects, we’re talking about the copious movies and TV shows we watch, our similar views on ethics and strategizing a survival plan for when the Zombie Apocalypse arises!

♥♥♥♥♥

(swoon-worthy)Words by James.

The Marriage Proposal

Clare and I worked various hours every day of the week except Monday, which we usually had as a day off together. The Monday coming up was of particular significance because it represented the two year anniversary of our first date. In the weeks leading up to this day I was secretly very busy preparing for an anniversary to remember, and on the Saturday night finally told Clare that she would need to be ready for an evening out and an overnight stay on Sunday night, for our anniversary on Monday.

A Silver Cab arrived to pick her up at 6:30pm on Sunday and brought her to the Blackett Hotel in Sydney, where I met her in the foyer. I quickly ran her bag up to the room while she waited for me downstairs. We walked across Darling Harbour for our booking at Zaaffran, an excellent Indian restaurant with a fine dining atmosphere and service, and on the way discovered a British lolly shop. Clare had been away from England for a couple of years by now so we picked up a few of her favourites and continued on to the restaurant.

Zaaffran is the sort of restaurant where all the tablecloths and napkins are a crisp white, the silverware is polished to a high shine, the wait-staff are all dressed in black and the a la carte menu is the finest selection of Indian dishes. The food was amazing. We had nearly finished enjoying a wonderful meal when it occurred to me that Clare might be upset if she was expecting something else to happen in the restaurant, when in fact I was planning her surprise for the next day. I didn’t want to give anything away so I said, ‘By the way, we’ll also be going somewhere for breakfast tomorrow morning. Our anniversary isn’t just this visit to a restaurant tonight.’

This turned out to be the right thing to say, as she smiled and said she had been a little sad that the night was almost over. Now she knew there was more but she didn’t really know what else to expect.

Being July, the night became chilly so we caught a taxi back to the hotel. The room I booked was a New York loft-style apartment, with a lounge and kitchen, and an upstairs mezzanine bedroom and bathroom. When we reached the top of the stairs Clare smiled in delight as she saw the bedroom ceiling covered with helium-filled balloons in forest green, burgundy and gold, all with matching ribbons hanging down. There were so many you couldn’t see the ceiling. (It had taken me two hours with a helium gas bottle to fill that many balloons and tie the ribbons during my afternoon visit to the hotel room!)

I filled the bath with warm water, essential oils and wild flowers I had picked from around where we lived, poured the chilled wine and brought out the chocolates. The rest of the night was wonderful but I will fast-forward my story to the next morning!

We checked out of the hotel and left our bag with reception, then set off with a small backpack on my shoulder. Pancakes On The Rocks was a fun and delicious way to start the day so we took our time over breakfast just eating and chatting.

Afterwards we walked around the shops at The Rocks for a little while before heading to the other side of Circular Quay. There is a set of stone steps in between a club and a restaurant on the eastern side, which we climbed then crossed over Macquarie St to a large grassed area that looks over the Opera House. I chose a spot under a huge tree that afforded us a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as well, and spread out the picnic blanket. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the day was warm and we had one of the best views in Sydney.

Now, back when we were in England together we bought a game of Travel Scrabble to play on the flight back to Australia. It is a game we both enjoy and have played many times. On this day, the second anniversary of our first date, I took the Travel Scrabble out of the backpack, handed it to Clare and said, ‘Crack this open while I get the drinks ready. We’ll have a game.’

While I was getting out the chilled bottle of Veuve Clicquot, two champagne flutes and a secret little box, Clare opened the game. She frowned when she saw some magnetic letter tiles already in place then her expression changed to surprise and delight after she read the words ‘Clare will you marry me’ written in Scrabble tiles. She looked up and saw me on my knees with a ring box containing a 1-carat solitaire diamond engagement ring in my hands. I said ‘I want my whole life with you. Will you marry me?’ and with tears in her eyes she said ‘Yes!’

I put the ring on her finger, kissed her and poured the champagne. While we were still grinning like a couple of crazy kids in love, Clare called her family in Adelaide to share the news. They told her that they already knew because I had called yesterday to ask permission to marry Clare. She thought the whole thing was wonderful and it is certainly a set of memories I will always treasure.

♥♥♥♥♥

Phu Quoc | Vietnamese restaurant review

It’s kind of a joke around Sydney that unless you either live or work in Cabramatta, you don’t go to Cabramatta.

You see, Cabramatta has a gang problem. You don’t hear too much about it in the news these days but the undercurrent is still there. When we arrive at 7pm the main street of town is deserted and all the shops are locked tight with steel roller-doors. What’s is there is really really really good authentic Vietnamese food.

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Back in January The Jacksons and The Williams (aka Neen, her hubby, Jay & I) had our first Dinner Club of 2012. We changed our rules this year (after two fun and disputably successful years of Dinner Club); making it about street-type food or cheap eats instead of the latest trendy restaurant.

January’s pick was mine; I opted to take us out to Cabramatta for some authentic Vietnamese at Phu Quoc.

Phu Quoc

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If you google “best Vietnamese in Sydney” Phu Quoc is at the top of the list. Apparently the lunch crowd goes off with office workers but at night it’s mostly the locals that dine in.

Strings of paper lanterns hang from the roof, the tables are plastic with vases of silk flowers and the chairs are metal & vinyl, there is aircon and self-service drinks from the fridge. There is also a tabletop medley of condiments that include sauces of chilli, soy, oyster and fish sauce, a canister of chopsticks, forks & spoons and a box of tissues for serviettes.

We look at the menu, all in Vietnamese with some English explanations; there are almost 6 full pages and it’s very cheap. We get a bit carried away with the ordering (breaking one of our other rules for the year which is to stop ordering too much food!).

We order everything to share (except Jay’s Pho soup).

Goi Vit - Vietnamese duck salad
Goi Vit VIA I Heart Cabramatta

The Duck Salad (Goi Vit) is served with rice paper sheets (Banh trang) nuoc cham dipping sauce; you make your own!

Banh trang rice paper sheets and nuoc cham dipping sauce VIA Grab Your Fork

We’ve got so many rice paper rolls that we fill them with Chao Tom which is prawn meat cooked on a stick of sugar cane.

Chao tom - sugar cane prawn

Jay’s Pho soup comes out in a steamy cloud of heady aromas; lemongrass, chilli, mint & meat. He spends the next 15 minutes quietly slurping away.

Beef Pho soup
Pho condiments; bean sprouts & mint

Jay & Neen order (well, I actually order it but don’t like it so Neen takes it off my hands!) this Green & White drink which is quite strange. It’s got grass jelly, red beans, tapioca balls & rice noodles. It’s like a coconut/bean/jelly dessert but you drink it. It’s definitely an acquired-taste for me, but they like it!

Green & White drink

Ian orders the manliest of menu items; Flaming Campfire Beef which literally comes out on fire! You blow the flames out before eating it of course!

Flaming Campfire Beef

I’m not sure when this was ordered, but some Crispy Quail Wings arrive at the table. The boys chow down. Neen & I steer clear. They are cute little baby quails after all…

Crispy Quail Wings

And then there’s the Bo Luc Lac which is Vietnamese Shaking Beef that comes served with this thick mushroomy sauce & onions served on lettuce and fresh tomatoes.

Bo Luc Lac - Vietnamese Shaking Beef

We eat as much as possible (we’re sure the cooks are laughing at how much food we ordered) and shamefully leave the rest on the plates.

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If you like Vietnamese food, Phu Quoc is amazing. Fresh, tasty, quick, cheap. Amazing. Just don’t order too much!!!  (FYI all of that food plus soft drinks was $80 total)

Phu Quoc | Cnr John & Hill Sts, Cabramatta NSW

well co & a french film | date night

Date night last week with hubby landed us in the Italian suburb of Leichhardt which has been taken over in March by the French for the Alliance Française Sydney French Film Festival.

We ate at Well Co which is a cute little cafe/wine bar on Norton Street (we frequent the one on Glebe Point Rd)

Well Co interior

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The cafe has cute rustic decor with a mix of little wooden and metal stools, a blackboard that covers the entire wall, low hanging light bulbs above the tables inside that cast a wonderful soft glow and little mismatching candlelit table settings outside. 

evening cafe entertainment

On the weekend they have live entertainment; it’s a husband and wife team that do folk-y type music (think The Beatles, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Carly Simon & James Taylor – yay!) and some French-inspired tunes in honour of the festival. Between the two of them they play 5 instruments (keyboard, guitar, ukulele, trombone & harmonica).

the menu

The menu is simple and well priced. I’d call it modern Italian with some great wholefood vegetarian options. The wine list has lesser-known Aussie wines and few Italian varietals. The service is friendly and quick.

Scotch fillet steak with mashed potato, tomato chutney served with Japanese Yuki sauce

Jay orders the steak and he finds it cooked to his liking (medium rare), the mash is creamy, buttery and whipped to perfection and the Yuki chutney is adds a different flavour than the usual red wine jus…

Prosciutto linguine with garlic roma tomato, rocket & chilli

I am a sucker for a good linguine, and this one fills the spot perfectly; ripe tomato, spicy chilli and green, peppery rocket with just a sprinkling of crispy prosciutto.

garden salad

We share a garden salad. I would have preferred for the dressing to come on the side instead of being smothered all over it, but its OK.

Jay & Mel

Overview:
Atmosphere: cute & quirky; good for a girlie catchup or a romantic dinner.
Food: cafe style modern Italian; small and large size meals.
Service: Great! Quick and friendly.
Value for money: Good.

Well Co Cafe and Wine Bar | 39-45 Norton St, Leichhardt, NSW 2040

♥♥♥♥♥

After dinner we walk up the cafe lined street to the Palace cinema. I love this cinema; it’s old elegant art house style (no room for blockbusters here!), small capacity and beer/wine you can take in by the glass (no ‘plastic only’ rule!). The candy bar is even Italian style; gelato instead of icecream and popcorn cooked in olive oil that makes a beautiful difference taste-wise.

I love French films. We’ve been to the Leichhardt French film festival for the past 3 years. I also adore the acting of Audrey Tautou who is the star of La Delicatesse (aka Delicacy). The story is in the vein of other romantic French movies; quirky, heartwarming, drama/comedy (“dramedy”) with a whimsical tone (eg Amelie-like voiceovers) that life is full of surprises. The story tells of Nathalie (Tautou) who is uncertain of life & happiness after a tragic accident leaves her a widower. Her world is turned upside once she starts a friendship with a very odd Swedish co-worker (played by Belgian actor François Damiens).

I recommend you check it out if you get a chance! 

(Note: contrary to the voiceover on the trailer below, La Delicatesse actually refers to ‘sensitivity’ rather than the English meaning of ‘delicacy’.)

12wbt | weeks 3-5 in review

Weeks 3, 4 & 5 were about exercising like a demon but struggling a little with controlling my food choices.

To be honest, I’ve been finding my discipline around my eating a little difficult. I haven’t been diligently sticking to my 1200 calories a day quota, which means I haven’t seen huge improvements on the scales BUT on the flip side because I’ve been training hard I’ve seen noticeable improvements in my fitness and body measurements (-8cm at 4 week milestone mark!).

The next half of the program is about getting my food discipline back on track and adhering strictly with my daily calorie allowance. In one of her videos Michelle Bridges talks about 2 clients; one trains like a demon but eats what she wants and the other doesn’t really exercise by eats really clean. Guess which one sees losses on the scales? The clean eater!

Here is a breakdown of my weeks three to five:

Exercise:

My daily routine largely remains the same across the weeks;

Monday – outdoor training; walk, then run (between 1-3kms depending on how I’m feeling as I’ve been nursing a knee/foot injury the last few weeks), then 6 x 1min plyometric super sets (mountain climers, squat punches, high knees, etc). I’m burning around 500-550 calories.

Tuesday – Body Pump at the gym. I’m burning around 380-450 calories during these sessions, although I burn more if I do the 10 minute run to/from the gym.

Wednesday – another outdoor session; either similiar to Monday’s sessions or doing a boxing routine with Jay and incorporating the plyometric supersets. Again, I’m burning 500+ calories during these training sessions.

Thursday – Body Pump at the gym. Last week my knee was so sore I forgo Pump and do a weights session on the gym floor so I could focus on my upper body. I’m burning between 380-450 cals during these sessions.

Friday – outdoor walk in the morning or Body Balance in the evening at the gym. I’m burning between 200-300 cals during these sessions.

Saturday – Super Saturday Session (SSS) consists of running to and from the gym for a Body Combat class, then adding in some additional training depending on the weather (either kettlebell workout in the backyard or cardio machines at the gym). I’m burning 1000+ cals during SSS.

Sunday – is supposed to be my rest day, but because I’ve been feeling guilty about my food, I’ve been adding another session on Sundays; usually just a bike ride or walk with Harley around the harbour, burning around 200-300 cals.

Nutrition:

I haven’t been photographing all of my food, so here are some random shots to give an idea of what I’ve been eating.

Breakfasts:

Lunches:

DinnerS: