Thursday, April 14, 2011

Do you do mocktails? A dry month.

#5 Have an alcohol-free month.

Truth be told, this item on the list had me filled ever-so-slightly with fear. Yep. The F-word.

I'm not going to lie- I love a drink. As I constructed my list, a long, hot summer was drawing to a close. Being a teacher, I had enjoyed a nice, long summer holiday. Summer holidays seem to, rather naturally, go hand-in-hand with catching up with mates over a few beverages. Being in my late 20s, I have matured considerably to drink in moderation. Long gone are the days of drinking to get drunk. However I was more concerned at the frequency with which I was drinking moderately. People would offer me a drink. I would accept. But did I really need that drink? This was the test.

So, together with 2 other alcohol-loving friends, we signed up as a team for Feb Fast. This event encourages people to give up alcohol for the month of February and raise funds to support people experiencing alcohol/drug related problems in Australia.

At the time that we commenced our challenge, a heatwave swept across Sydney and the first term of the new school year began. Such conditions screamed for vino consumption. It was hard. It's a bit embarrassing to admit, but we really craved a drop from the vine.

A minor fact that I had overlooked when I signed up for a dry month, was that The Man was due to turn 30 at the end of February. And I had bought him 2 tickets to a beer-tasting workshop (assuming that he would take me.) I offered my beer-tasting place to his best mates. They were conveniently busy. And so I broke my dry spell. A few sips of beer at the beer workshop and a glass of vino at his party. I got through two and a half weeks before succumbing. Fail.

Meanwhile, our team had raised just under $2000 for our efforts. Feeling like a big, fat, dirty cheat I vowed to give up drinking for all of March. And so I did. And it really wasn't that bad.

One of the things I found interesting about this challenge was how I needed to change my mindset. When someone offers you a drink, you don't need to accept the offer. It sounds silly, but it was like a light bulb moment. Luckily, I didn't encounter too much public ostracism. I guess that's kind of why I wimped out at the beer-tasting workshop. I didn't want people noticing that I wasn't drinking. I didn't want to be 'that' girl. Someone I worked with told me of how her daughter, who was also undertaking Feb Fast, was being publicly ridiculed by her friends for choosing not to drink at public events. Mindsets need to shift greatly in this country if we want to change attitudes towards drinking.

So, I am back on the drinking bandwagon. But only in moderation. Cross my heart,hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.

#10 Have a creative classroom. Yep- English and Maths are important. But so is music. And art.

In creating my list, I (unconsciously) included a lot of items that would prove to be ongoing projects.

I made a vow at the start of the school year that this year I would try to incorporate a whole lot more creative arts. This involves a whole lotta effort but brings with it a whole lotta reward. My kidlets are truly, absolutely engaged when we undertake our arts and crafts projects. If the education system placed more emphasis on creating and engaging in creativity, I'm not sure what kind of a world we would live in. I am pretty certain it would be a better one.

Here is a masterpiece we created this term. A whole lot of collaging and painting. Fun times!

More food for thought....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

#9 Start a school choir with my partners in crime.

This 30x30 item is proving to be an interesting one, given that my partner in crime and I have no formal musical training.

However, our little choir had their big public debut last Friday at the school Anzac Day assembly. Despite getting off to a wobbly start- read: wrong music was initially played over the sound system- our little cherubs sang their hearts out. We covered One Day by Matisyahu, complete with sign language. Yep- 3 verses, a chorus AND sign language. A huge achievement for a bunch of 6 and 7 year olds.

I'm not entirely comfortable with posting school-related videos containing kiddies on my blog, so you'll just have to trust me when I say WE WERE AWESOME.

Our inspiration is drawn from this amazing choir from New York....

However we are by no means as talented as them (probably due to the previously mentioned fact that our choir is lead by 2 teachers with no formal musical experience!)
Check out their amazing blog here.
Now who wants to argue that arts aren't an important part of the curriculum?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

#4: Make pasta like a nonna would. From scratch.

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

Damn straight, Pav.
My eyes were opened to the world of fresh pasta during a year living in Modena, Italy. How had I gone 21 years eating pasta OUT OF A PACKET?! Modena, incidentally, happens to be the hometown of the big man himself, Mr Pavarotti. So, Big Man, #4 on my 30x30 list is dedicated to you.

Now let's set the record straight. I struggle to follow recipes. I take my cooking style more from the "just chuck it in and it will be alright" school of thought. Such a philosophy may have been my undoing in tackling this challenge.

I wanted my pasta to look like this.
I love how the recipe is described as being for "casual entertaining." Oh- I thought cheese and crackers equaled "casual entertaining." All these years I've had it wrong. On this particular pasta-making eve, I was "casually entertaining" my husband.

Pretending that my life looked like a magazine spread, I even measured out all of the ingredients before beginning the cooking process.

The dog was my cooking buddy......

..... until he got sick and tired of listening to my attempts to authentically channel a nonna (read: swearing like a madwoman) and decided that watching some cricket was a better option.

Everything was fine whilst in the bowl....

It was once the dough left the bowl that things got a little hairy.

By the cooking stage, I was wondering why I had chosen to make the most visually unattractive form of pasta known to nonna-kind.

It looks like it's come straight out of a food magazine shoot. If you squint really hard.

But, really- who cares about how it looks? What about the taste?
The last word goes to The Man:
Me: So, what did you think?
Him: Is there more?

The State of the Nation. (a.k.a- Remember That List?)

Amazing public art installation involving a list.

Aaaah, that list. 30 things to do before I turn 30. The issue with making this quest public is that people ask me how the list "is going." "It's going" I reply. But is it, really? Is it?!
Yesterday marked 8 months until the deadline.
So how is it going?

#1 Write a screenplay so that The Man can turn it into an award-winning film.

RE: #1 This one I find a bit scary. Primarily because I have no screenplay-writing skills. That's right- zilch, nada, nothing. That's not much of a challenge. Right?

#2 Start Hapkido so I can learn to do this.

RE: #2 This one I am leaving until winter. When I have a lot of pent-up anger about the absence of summer.

#3 Complete a 2km ocean swim. This may require training as opposed to my current ocean swim regime which consists of turning up.

RE: # 3 Scheduled for completion in November.

#4 Make pasta like a nonna would. From scratch. DONE! Pictorial evidence coming soon.
#5 Have an alcohol-free month. Dry July, anyone? DONE!
#6 Complete the Blackmores 9km run. Without stopping. Or walking.

RE: #6 Scheduled for September 18th.

#7 Learn to roll sushi.
#8 Eat a piece of fruit every day at recess with my class. Apparently parents don't believe in fruit in lunchboxes at my school. I'm hoping to make fruit cool.

RE: #8 Working on it.

#9 Start a school choir with my partners in crime. We imagine it will be like this but it could end up like this.....
#10 Have a creative classroom. Yep- English and Maths are important. But so is music. And art.
#11 Start a herb garden. And don't kill it.
#12 Banish plastic in my life. Say no to plastic bags and plastic water bottles.

RE: #12 Trying, but this one can be hard. WORK IN PROGRESS

#13 Bake some bread. From scratch.
#14 Figure out my new camera and keep a photo journal.


#15 Learn Spanish. (no- "Hasta la vista, baby" and "una cerveza, por favor" does not constitute knowledge of the Spanish language.)


#16 Watch every film that has won the Oscar for Best Movie since my birth year. N.B I will not watch Titanic again.
#17 Start a daily journal, jotting down awesome moments.

RE: # 17 I'm replacing this one. The new, improved #17 is: To start a blog about cooking. Stay tuned!

#18 Do some ballet lessons.
#19 Read 10 books from the BBC Top 100 list. (Because I love lists.)
#20 Listen to 10 musicians from 10 random countries.

RE: #20 South Africa and Chile down. WORK IN PROGRESS.

#21 Visit 3 museums/galleries in Sydney I have never been to.
#22 Sing in the shower. But maybe not when at the gym.

Struggling with this one. I keep forgetting the lyrics to songs.

#23 Go on dates. With my mum. Dad can come aswell if he wants.
#24 Support microfinancing and fund an entrepeneur through Kiva.
#25 Write my husband love letters. And it doesn't matter if he doesn't write back.
#26 Plan a kick ass 1st wedding anniversary.
#27 Every Sunday, blog something for my little sis who is moving to London.

RE: #27 And then we discovered Path..... which is kind of a more improved version of this item.

#28 Try and not complain for a week.

RE: #28 I would like to complain about this item. a) I'm not sure if I could successfully complete it. b) What purpose would it serve to not complain for a week? Therefore this item is being replaced with- Take a Thai cooking class. In Thailand.

#29 Write a letter to be opened by my 40 year old self. Put it somewhere safe. (Note to self- Don't forget where this safe spot is.)
#30 Plan a trip to South America.

Where to from here? Well, I'm now off to bake some bread (#13) whilst listening to some music from a random country (#20). Whilst the bread is in the oven I might plant a herb garden (#11), read a book from the BBC's Top 100 list (#19) and then relax with an Oscar-winning movie (#16).

Go on- ask me how my list is going now!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tengo grandes planes para el 2011: Marzo

The long march away from summer continues. And so we keep plodding....

The highlight of March was a bit of boogying and booty-shaking at a Mark Ronson gig. Here is a photographic tribute to his Bike Song.

*sings enthusiastically and maybe a little out of tune*
My mother tells me I should stop go and get a real job
That can’t be the way that I roll
And everybody’s growing up, having kids and paying rent
And I’m getting count of it all
I’m gonna ride my bike until I get home

We partook in some fine meals this month. Exhibit A.

I'm not sure if it's Porteno's carnivorous menu that attracts patrons or the amazing Rockabilly style of it's waitstaff. According to our ridiculously trendy waiter, people come specifically to Porteno for it's brussel sprouts. Who the hell leaves home for brussel sprouts?! Intrigued, we ordered said sprouts. And I was pleasantly surprised. I remember being made to eat them as a kid and feeling disgusted at the mini-cabbage being squelched in my mouth. I wouldn't say I'm now a brussel sprouts convert, but I may revise my childhood assessment of them.....

Porteno even has a ridiculously cool business card. STOP IT ALREADY, WOULD YOU?!

There was an election....

Out to dinner with the parentals. And they colour-coordinate. Too cute.

April brings excessive chocolate consumption, holidays and further conquering of The List.