Sunday, January 15, 2017

Untitled (Poem)

It's been a while, it's been too long
since champagne flooded dance floors,
white lace on shoulders in the yellow light.

But it's too cold, you said you could not brace it
to celebrate, but you were vacant
like a chair of wisdom without a sitter,

It felt cold.
It tastes bitter.

Wild weather, winds and ice shelf melting
mean more to you that self-built gall.
You claim you've done it! Climbed it! Made it!
But age takes all, you lean, you fall.

You made decisions
A concrete heart
Wallet brimming
Perfect art.

No longer do we share these times
Antarctic ice between two minds

Its forced upon me
Mother knows best
Golden guilt trips
Pressure to connect.

No longer felt,
is it too late?

Two words bound into your wooden rooms
on handmade shelves of beech and tombs.
They hold so much, that mean so little
green lights in the doorway - clock and riddle.

Hubris churns the stormy sky
I fear I've seen Medusa's eye.
Heart unfeeling, permafrost.
Need warmth of love 'fore he is lost.

The TV fizzes with unsolved crimes,
I've stayed up late, I've seen the times.
On newfound carpet I drag my feet.
I get told off, your pocket's mean.

Yet looking back you were so good,
the colours fade but there you stood.

Grade 1 you came and spoke of travels
Crevasses, medals, queens and castles.
Pride welling up from deep green pools,
us sitting idle: glue, scissors, stools.

All this speak of evermore,
eternity and spite.
It feels 'ere done, completed. Check.
But death beds have not come.

- Nathan van der Monde

Moonlit Heart (Poem)

A flutter of hydrangea bloom
emerald leaves of aloe, rose and herb
dense umbrage of interlaced sycamore
book facedown, sun burns the blurb

Hidden collection and botanic prints
empty doorways full of gloom and mildew
But outside, above the locked secrets
Glittering splendour looms lucid blue

There's something in your moonlit heart
a query of half sunken diamonds
that glitter in the honeyed reflection
of heather fields, cooperage and highlands

- Nathan van der Monde

Nightfall (Poem)

infinte glistening pine needles
framed against an incandescent sky
wry heat and sore muscles
crip, yellowed grasses underfoot
the hard work is done, yet
gothic branches and dappled light
beckon me along, petrol stained hands
and scratched limbs sting in
exposed sunlight, a healing shiver
as the sun draws in, taciturn,
withdrawing from the brooding night
buttoned sleeves, secret nests hushed
the sparkle of a star

- Nathan van der Monde

Such Great Heights (Poem)

A boundless nebula of celestial light
paint spattered across expensive linen
a canvas woven upon vaporous looms
the inky blackness seeps within

Head rests astride a pillow of stars
birdsong trickles, glistens and clinks
a dimday breeze of lilac and grass
rises up, then softens and sinks

- Nathan van der Monde

Early Departure (Flash Fiction)

The January sun beat down on me, descending through the slim gap between my reflective sunglasses and my burnt forehead, making them redundant despite the fact they allowed me to hide my newly reddened eyes.

The small coffin was now in the rear of the champagne coloured hearse, the funeral parlour attendants laying the flowers from deep within the chapel around the sun drenched casket, bruising the already dying petals of magnificent purple blooms.

The rendered wall behind me, now warmed by the hot sun, felt as rough and unrelenting as how I felt; the child that lay in the hearse born only eight years prior. Her father's gravelly voice had described his love for her, and her love of reading. She had loved books, yet now the stack of Billie B. Brown books would sit beside her bed, forever to remain unread by her.

My heart tenses and a woman audibly gasps as someone mentions the young girl was a talented violinist. She had won awards. A television at the front of the chapel buzzes to life, glowing with visions of the young girl facing away from the bleak crowd at her funeral holding a violin with maturity beyond her meagre calendar years. Perfect tempo. Poise. Patience as she she oscillates the the squeaking bow.

Now outside, the notes of her melody hung in the light-filled air. I couldn't help but feel a profound sense of dysphoria, as if the few shrill notes from the violin, paired with the wilting floral sprays and mahogany coffin were part of some eerie, macabre operatic scene.

I was struck by a sense of importance, sweat running down my sides as I stood aside to let people past, to stand together in mournful silence. Crushed African daisies in the garden bed below, faces upturned, looked with metaphorical consequence; a small leafed camellia brushing against my left shoulder.

Parent everywhere clutched their children, as if they could stave off the long arm of death that had taken the young person just meters away if they held on tight enough.

And yet again, a thought struck me - these sunglass, car key clutching parents had once been children too. Time, like money, meant nothing really; just an idea, a concept used in a very human attempt to add value and measure infinite nothingness. Life and death, energy and matter cycling for time eternal.

The noisy exhaust of the hearse erupts and the scene closes with no applause.

- Nathan van der Monde

Sunday, May 15, 2016

One Hell of a Good Brew

I was at the local supermarket this arvo and was stopped by a rad looking bloke at a kombucha stand outside a health store I frequent. He asked if my wife and I would like to try a range of five different types of kombucha he brews himself for his company "The Good Brew" and I acquiesced immediately.

Each individual brew had a unique taste, each with a mild fizz and the vague cider flavour. My favourites were the 'Original Pure Organic Green Tea' and 'Orange Blossom, Passion Flower & Turmeric' types, wheres my wife favoured the 'Sencha Mint, Apple & Chlorophyll' green brew.

Although some sources doubt the efficacy of kombucha - any naturopath can easily explain the innate health benefits of kombucha on the digestive system, its ability to boost immunity and a plethora of other positive effects the elixir can have.

I for one feel better when I am having more 'good bacteria' in the form of yoghurt and probiotic capsules. Not to say that every kombucha commercially produced is effective. It has to evolve from natural ingredients and a commitment to organic produce. The kind of commitment 'The Good Brew' has.

The best part about the whole experience I've had so far with the company (based in Brunswick, Melbourne) is that if you're willing to go to their factory to pick up your orders - you get a free six-pack pf kombucha and a game of table tennis.

Can't wait to try more of the range (including beers!) and I might ask the guys if they're willing to come out to my primary school class and teach them about the digestive system and let them taste kombucha as part of our 'Human Body' topic in term 4.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Grand Ball 2015

I just attended the Grand Ball of 2015 in Northcote, Melbourne and it was nothing less than incandescent. The entire night glowed with glamor and elegance - complete with a three course meal, six piece band, instant photo booth, and parquetry dance floor.  The three girls behind the glamorous night did such an amazing job of organising everything, and I had such a great time on stage as master of ceremonies. The night was such a massive success we're all waiting for invitations to the next one. Thanks girls.

Boy & Co. Deliciousness

Boy & Co. in Malvern is not only the best place to get a Nutella milkshake (pictured above) but also the only place to get a decent serving of chilli fries in Australia. I went there with my wife for a burger - which they do not serve. I have no idea why I thought they would - perhaps some obscure online review with misinformation. But I was very quickly impressed with the minimalist interior and deliciously simple menu. Just a few different types of dishes involving perfectly cooked fries and a range of ridiculously tempting milkshakes. Bring $20 each. You might want an extra milkshake for the ride home. Thanks for moving in Boy & Co. Love your work. 


HVAGDY is the abbreviation which had been painted on signs hung up all over my place of work. I honestly thought it was the lady's last name - the woman who'd painted the signs. She was the gardener at school and by far the happiest and most colourful woman I'd ever met. Was it her last name? Some sort of Baltic State heritage?

It wasn't. It was the abbreviation which had become a sort of logo of the woman herself. HVAGDY was "Have a Good Day!" and it was the numberplate on her car, at the bottom of every wooden 'Please put your rubbish in the bin' sign, and something that has stayed with me ever since.

Sometimes this woman is the only person to say hello with a smile, and she is an absolute legend - and someone who has become a friend of mine. Not just a gardener at all - she also cultivates happiness and positivity everywhere she goes, installing up-cycled garden sculptures, colourful murals, new planting ideas and positive affirmations all over the place.

Leanne has become an icon for everything creative and happy - and when it was my Year 12 students' last day this year I wanted to throw them a music festival - and I knew just who to ask to help. I waved her down as she was rocketing along on her ride-on mower on the top oval, pink RayBans, faux flower headband and all. I heard the classic rock blaring from her headphones long before I got to her, as usual.

She instantly wanted to help. That Friday after school she helped me lop branches off unwanted trees, make bunting to hang, and the following Monday morning before school helped me set up the rest of the room. Unbeknownst to me she had also made cupcakes the night before for the students to have. I honestly can't thank this woman enough for all of the positivity and light she beams, everyday.

Here are a few photos of the end result. Thanks Leanne for all of your help - not just for my 'music festival' but for every 'have a good day' you yelled across the quadrangle, even when I seemed grumpy or stressed. We all love you more than you know.

So to you, dear reader: HVAGDY

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Mr. Simple

I found this shirt at a shop called 'Mr. Simple' in the semi-new Emporium shopping precinct in Melbourne. The store is very cool and has an enormous collection of Herschel backpacks in every imaginable colour and pattern.

This one sports blue lobsters, green eels, brown stingrays and black lion fish. Awesome.

Get your own outrageous shirt from summer here:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Surviving Winter

"To take medicine when you are sick is like digging a well only when you are thirsty - is it not already too late?" - Qi Bo 

This was penned 4500 years ago by the above mentioned Qi Bo, a Chinese physician. And it rings true today. Why do we only begin to think about our health when we're starting to get a sore throat or we can't shake a cough? It's often too late then. So, it's about prevention - which is what this winter will be all about for me. I've been reading up and getting stockpiles of my favourite herbs and remedies to ensure I strengthen my immune system prior to even getting an inkling of a sniffle. Follow my 5 steps to a healthy winter (or summer, depending on where you live) this season.

1. Sleep 

This is often one area of our lives that suffers the most, mainly because we are time-poor and sacrifice our nights to make up for things we haven't accomplished during our days. How much should you be getting? It all depends on your age, but people who sleep eight hours or more regularly are three times less likely to contract a virus than those who sleep seven hours or less a night. Track how much sleep you're getting on a calendar and see how you measure up.

2. Stress

It's vital that you relax. Not just because it makes you feel good, but because it's good for your immunity and heath. Unchecked stress and a detrimental effect on your body's immunity and can impact on your upper-respiratory system causing a vulnerability to infections. To help keep yourself relaxed take 10 minutes out each day to stop, lie down, close your eyes and meditate.

This means different things to different people, but I do not think of meditation as an exercise of clearing the mind of all thoughts or mindless daydreaming. Instead, I attempt to concentrate on my breathing - slowing it down and breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. I also focus on my body and any areas that are sore, allowing them to relax if they are tight. I also think about calm places I've been, the warm sun on my face, and healing, positive thoughts.

3. Tea

Drinking green tea and herbal teas are a great way of increasing the amount of water you drink per day, but also an effective way of getting a natural detoxification of your cells. And the benefits of tea go beyond just the antioxidant-rich green teas. 

Herbal teas also offer enormous assistance to your body's systems. Some particularly helpful herbs are: 
  • Gotu Kola
  • Ginseng
  • Ginko Biloba 
  • Chrysanthemum 
  • Golden Seal
These herbs have various properties that can assist your immune, endocrine, nervous, respiratory and circulatory systems to function more effectively. Gotu Kola is known as a "pharmacy in a herb" because of its multiple abilities to assist the body. Golden Seal supports your respiratory system, assisting the body's natural response which is to push excess mucus and phlegm out through the throat and nose. Golden Seal speeds this up, and clearly the blocked areas. 

Also, herbs like Ginseng are what is known as 'adaptogen' herbs, as they can increase or decrease a certain aspect of the body's functioning as needed. For example, ginseng promotes healthy endocrine health - especially for men. If men are producing too much or not enough testosterone this can lead to a plethora of illness. So the Ginseng, if taken regularly, will help level out the correct amount of hormone to be produced. 

4. Exercise

Exercise should be moderate and consistent. Try for half an hour of moderate exercise four times per week. I'm desperately trying to meet this requirement and failed miserably last week. However, I know I feel and look a lot healthier when I'm regularly exercising. 

Why is this? Well, when you exercise you force your heart to pump harder, thus more oxygen is disseminated through the circulatory system resulting in more alertness and greater detoxification of cells. Also, your muscles are being activated, bringing you many health benefits, but specifically creating a small amount of stress on your muscles, thus stimulating the body to produce more white blood cells - the very cells that search out and destroy viruses and foreign bacteria. Perfect. 

 5. Positivity

It's very hard to stay motivated and positive during the winter months if you are naturally a warm weather and sunshine kind of person. I know because I am one such individual. However, rather than wishing away the winter months and complaining about the frosty weather I've learned to embrace every season, for with each change comes new adventures and benefits. 

For example, I hate the cold mornings. But I love fog. I can't have one without the other. So now I look forward to the fog and understand the cold morning is part and parcel of it. Also, I don't like the way everything appears 'dead' when the leaves have fallen away and plants become dormant. However, I love autumn colour, and it wouldn't happen if there wasn't a winter to follow it. So it's all part of a cycle. So now I enjoy the way the crisp winter sunlight glints of the morning grass covered in dew. And I smile like an excited kid when a crack of thunder rumbles overhead or the rain and hail pelt down on my tin roof. It's part of the cycles around me, so I enjoy it. 

And staying positive mentally goes a long way to making you feel better physically. So stay positive and your winter won't seem so bad. In fact, you'll start to enjoy it for what it is; part of a cycle of change. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Keep Going, It All Counts

Me at gym today. Clearly not a morning person. 

It's the first day of week two, and I need to confess that although I had an excellent week of eating well and avoiding all bad carbohydrates - I had a bad day on Sunday.

It all started out with no breakfast. I was rushing in the morning to get somewhere and didn't get time. I was starving. My parents got back from Taiwan so I was visiting them for lunch. While there I had a fresh salad of homegrown greens and pumpkin soup. But there were hot crusty bread rolls (not even wholemeal) on the table and I couldn't resist.

Then I ate a Nutella sandwich on white bread.

Suddenly I felt guilty, as if I'd ruined my 'day' of clean eating. I gave up. So when it came to heading over to a friend's place for homemade wood fire pizzas in their new alfresco oven, I didn't resist. And after four or five slices of the warm dough, I ate a whole mini-pizza smeared with Nutella. I was mortified.

Instead of giving up on my new healthy eating and living plan entirely though, I've seen this as a incident that I can recover from and continue on. I mean, no runner would start a race from the beginning if he'd fallen over three kilometers into the race. He'd just get up, dust himself off, and keep running.

So that's what I'm doing. I've 'dusted myself off' by drinking litres of water and lemon juice to detox, and I'm prepared for another week of gym, healthy food, and feeling good. It's a journey. In fact, I got up early again this morning for a quick super-set session of weights and then some stretches. I'm feeling better than I did yesterday already.

As a side point though, I did feel different after eating the wheat and processed carbs and sugar. I actually felt bloated, sluggish and even a little nauseous - something I didn't feel once all week when I was eating well. That's something to take note of. It reaffirms the fact I'm on the right path.

So if you're struggling, or you've started and have a relapse, don't feel bad. Just get up, and continue your positive changes. It all counts.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Coming Clean

So, it's been a full work week and I am already feeling some of the benefits of my new diet and health plan. I have more energy, my skin looks healthier and brighter, I have stopped craving Savoy biscuits dipped in a jar of Nutella (yes, that is something I was doing previously), and I think I feel a little bit more positive.

I've been eating really well and pretty much stuck to the eating plan of no bad carbs, no processed foods, and no sugary snacks/drinks. I've been eating a lot of enormous salads, bolstered with bean shoots and Sirena tuna. It's helping me feel a lot better.

At work there is a weights room - and I decided to talk to the person who oversees it. He suggested I come down after work on Thursday and have a bit of a workout. I went feeling a little bit apprehensive because I really haven't done anything weights and gym related for a long time. A really long time. But instead of making excuses like I have been doing for the past year or so, I just did it.

I think it takes a great deal of humility to get back into it. People years younger and thinner than me are doing weights that I used to do two years ago when I was training properly, and more. But instead of being gym-timidated by them, I just grabbed the weights I'm capable of now and used them. That way, I'll build up my strength as I go.

I just did 3sets of 12 reps on the lat pull down machine. Then did some rows, some shoulder press, and some chest press. Nice.

Today, I decided to get up a bit earlier, get myself into my gym clothes and do another session this morning! Now that is proof I'm making changes. This time it was more structured and I had a much better workout. I feel myself changing. I mean, I couldn't get out of bed even to have a coffee two weeks ago. Now I'm getting up early to exercise!

So, I hope you're making changes in your life too, using those 6 steps. You already have the power to do so. Just start by listening to your body - the rest will follow.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Making Positive Changes

"Every ending is a new point of beginning." - Louise L. Hay

So I got married eight months ago, and leading up to getting married I had little time (or more more accurately made little time) to exercise and focus on healthy lifestyle choices. I began to get comfortable and relaxed. I realise this is a natural part of being newly married, but I focused less and less on living a healthy life because I was so wrapped up in my happy life.

I felt like I was losing the grip I had previously had on my fitness and health. I was putting on weight, losing muscle definition, feeling tired every morning, and generally feeling sluggish.

Looking at my diet, I noticed that although I ate well most of the time I had increased the amount of bad carbs I was eating (like refined wheat, bread, pasta, etc.) and was allowing myself to 'snack' at nighttime on sweet biscuits and chocolate. Terrible. Especially because I knew better.

I follow Belle Gibson on Instagram and use her Whole Pantry app all the time in the kitchen. I read about health and wellbeing. But I was drinking too much caffeine. Eating too much sugar. Consuming copious amounts of butter. I definitely needed to make changes.

I felt as if I wanted to make changes, but I also struggled to do so.

And that has lead me create this list of steps to getting out of a 'rut' and getting yourself back on the path to wellness.

1. Listen to your body. 

It's vital to really stop and listen to the messages your body gives you. What could they be?

Well, your body could be telling you about your health daily, but you may not be tuned in to hear it.

For example: How do you feel in the morning? Are you exhausted - not just because you were out singing karaoke and partying on rooftops til 4 AM - but virtually every day? How do your eyes feel? Are they dry? Red? Are you hungry or have you lost your appetite? How strong is your urine? Does your lower back hurt? Are you getting sciatic nerve pain in your legs? Do you feel refreshed? How's your breath? Are you sweaty? Cold?

All of these indicators are important as they are your body's way of letting you know how it is feeling. Listen to your body and focus on what needs attention.

2. Identify what you need to improve. 

Once you have listened to your body and the messages you may have previously been ignoring, you now need to identify what it is that you need to improve upon.

I felt sluggish in the morning. I was hungry early in the day then ravenous in the afternoon, where I would pig out on carb-heavy foods to feel "full". I also looked at my diet and realised that I needed to make changes - more vegetables, less sugar and refined carbohydrates. I also noted that my energy levels were low. I remembered back to when I was exercising several times a week and saw that I don't have that kind of energy anymore. I listed all of these down.

3. Have a look at yourself. 

What you look like says a lot about your state of health. I'm getting a gut. My chest is shrinking. My arms aren't half as impressive as they used to be. I look tired. My skin is dry. I have dark circles under my eyes.

This all hinted at three things:
  • I wasn't getting enough sleep (8-9 hours a night is what I needed, I was getting 6 on a good night).
  • I wasn't eating the right things (I needed more 'good fats' and oils, leafy greens, iron, etc. and a lot less processed foods, fatty snacks, and Nutella).
  • I wasn't drinking enough water, and consuming too much caffeine (dark circles around the eye indicates a lack of sleep, but also dehydration, a build-up of toxins in the blood, and too much caffeine).

4. Choose a date. 

It's an important part of a process to build anticipation. Getting excited can help you stick at something. So, I spoke to my wife, and we decided to start the following Monday. That meant we also had time to prepare. We briefly noted down the things we'd need to do to make the changes successful:

- buy a tonne of vegetables
- get up early so we had time to eat a healthy breakfast
- make salads and time-consuming lunches the night before
- talk about our weekly routine and fit in exercise activities

Then, when the date came we were prepared.

5. Make a time limit. 

We've decided that we'll stick to these changes for 3 months (or about 90 days). That way, when we're struggling not to eat a Caramello Koala at 4:30 PM one afternoon we can think about the fact that the strictness will relax a little after that time, and avoid temptation.

Also - it's achievable. In that time I will be taking waist and arm measurements, weighing myself, etc. This means that I will actually achieve results. If I did it for two weeks and didn't see any changes, without the larger goal of three months, I may've given up. But by giving myself the longer time period I am guaranteed results.

In one month I'll start looking and feeling a lot better.
In two months other people will notice the changes.
In three months I will feel, look, and be a lot healthier and fitter!

6. Make it fun and achievable. 

I'm making sure I create opportunities for me to do activities that I enjoy (cardio, group workouts, running, Epsom salt bath soaks, herbal teas, etc.). That way, I'm more likely to stick to it.

Also, I'm not cutting out some things completely - like alcohol and coffee. I will still have that morning coffee and have a flat white out with friends. I'll still have a beer with mates or a wine with dinner some nights. Don't be afraid to do this within reason, and don't feel any guilt for doing so. Life is for living, so make sure you enjoy it! Just also keep in mind that you want to keep enjoying life, rather than developing chronic illnesses from poor diet and a lack of exercise. That way, you'll be balanced and happy.

I hope these 6 steps help you make the changes you need to, to create yourself a wonderful tomorrow. Every step you make now ensures you reach your goal earlier. So take notice, listen to your body, identify the changes you personally need to make, then make them. And make them fun.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Stupidity is Unbearably Cool

This is the part where I go on a rant about what I can't stand for another moment. This time, even at the risk of sounding like a 47 year old winging prat, it's going to be aimed at some of the young people of today.

All you need to do is jump onto Instagram and have a look at the feed of someone around the age of 15. What do you see?

Pouting selfies in the bathroom mirror, sometimes with the delightful addition of the family toilet in the background. Flower headbands and bindis, as if they're on their way to Woodstock. If of course they knew what Woodstock was. Or where it was. Or why it was. Or in fact could name two bands that played there.

And this is the problem. When did it stop being cool to be smart and start being cool to be an idiot?

I overheard a conversation (if you could call it that) the other day on the street between two girls. It went something like this:

"I dyed my hair. Do you like it? I love it."
"Yeah I love it too."
"Yeah, it's pretty much the same as Arianna Grande."
"Oh, I love her. I'm obsessed with her."
"Me too!"
"Shut up. No way!"
"Yes way! Aha!"
"Haha. That's, like, hilarious."
"I'm so obsessed. I'm obsessed with Audrey Hepburn too."
"Oh, she was so classy. Like, really classy and stylish."
"Oh yeah, she totally was. I love her in Breakfast at Tiffany's"
"That's my favourite movie!"
"Have you seen her in anything else?'
"Um.. No. But I watch Breakfast at Tiffany's all the time. And Mean Girls."
"Oh, Mean Girls is so funny. It's like my life.'

And so it went on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. Although, they wouldn't know that I was quoting The Great Gatsby, because I'm fairly sure they don't read anything. Other than perhaps the fashion section of Cosmo.

They are "obsessed" with Audrey Hepburn, yet have seen only one of her movies. Hardly an obsession.

Are they aware that she could speak five languages (English, Spanish, French, Dutch, and Italian) fluently? I doubt it. These girls could hardly speak English properly. Do they realise that during Nazi occupation in the Netherlands she was forced to eat tulip bulbs and attempt to bake grass into bread just to to survive during WWII? Do they even know when WWII occurred? Or why?

It's both frustrating and horrifying to think that in a time of smart phones, we're churning out stupid people. At no time in the history of the universe have humans had access to the amount of information at their disposal now, and yet we've never been stupider.

The knowledge they are missing is not optional - it's part of being a valuable and productive human in today's society.

It's important to know why world wars developed and how they were stopped. It's important to know how many people have lost their life in past protests, and for what purpose. It's important to be able to recognize the Mona Lisa, identify Picasso's trademark cubism, have an opinion about live exports, know where your vegetables comes from, explain photosynthesis, choose what chemicals you will and won't ingest, understand what antibiotics do to your immune system, and question the origins of life on earth.

It's not optional. It's an integral, yet often absent, part of human existence. With this greater understanding of how our minds work, what art is, what countries need our help and why, and what 'fair trade' means, we can move forward.

That is what humanity needs now, not Arianna Grande's hair.

Murder, She Wore

If I make one fashion prediction for 2014, it's that everyone will either knowingly or unknowingly start modeling their wardrobe after Murder, She Wrote characters.

The audacious woolen knits, oversized spectacle rims, brooches, shoulder-pads, side parts, and burgundy blazers will be back. It'll be enough to make Angela Lansbury sigh with content.

The 90s were great. We had mobile phones and the internet, but they didn't rule our lives. People had enough pride in themselves to look nice when they went out, and it was cool to be smart. The newspapers were read daily and people ate well - but didn't obsess over "eating raw" and exercising 'til they collapsed in a  pile of sweat and humiliation. You could eat a bowl of sugary cereal every now and then without some health guru making you feel guilty. Although you could pop into gym for a quick jazzercise session to Mariah or Britney if you needed some trimming down.

Men were handsome and debonaire in suits and blazers, when a watch was a timepiece and the pen you carried around with you was a status symbol. Women were powerful in their shoulder-padded jackets and slacks, they could be your corporate boss and still have time for a blow wave and a cigarillo.

It was a time that should come back. I'm already half there I think. I'm literally one tortoise shell pair of round-framed glasses and a baggy t-shirt with a tight neck away from being an extra on an episode of Murder, She Wrote. And loving it.

Unconsciously Mindful

"The subliminal aspects of everything that happens to us may seem to play very little part in our daily lives. But they are the almost invisible roots of our conscious thoughts." - Carl Jung

Earlier in the year I went to Lorne in Victoria, Australia for a surf camp. Lorne is a wonderful beachside town, nestled in amongst the rainforest-covered hills of the Great Ocean Road. It has a collection of quaint shops and chipper coffee haunts. And it has a fabulous bookshop.

I went there a few times to have a gander and start coveting some of the titles on display, and while there I was drawn to a book entitled 'Subliminal' by Leonard Mlodinow. It is a work devoted to the subliminal mind and how it works. Moreover, it is an exploration into what is termed as the 'New Unconscious' and the lessons we can learn from it.

Mlodinow explains the 'New Unconcious' as "the new science of the unconscious", which of course is the result of the new technologies we have in the present day that allow for the accurate understanding of how the subliminal mind works. And the results are astounding.

I genuinely encourage you to read it, as it explains what is possibly some of the most incomprehensible areas of psychology in a way that is not only accessible, but also entertaining and inspiring.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tiny Little Houses Give Me Another Reason To Like Them

Tiny Little Houses, the band fronted by creative Caleb Karvountzis, a while ago released the single 'everyday i wake i find another reason not to' and it does not disappoint. The band is changing their direction slightly, veering away from their paradigmatic folk and exploring a vivid, echoey layered world of reverberating detail and darkness.

The lyrics themselves, sung by Karvountzis, take effort to decipher - hinting at depressive ideation, but suggesting a much warmer and univocal clarity. It evokes thoughts of hazy Sunday mornings, uninvited sunlight, cold floors, and an unshakable intellection of the pointlessness of capitalistic westernness.

It reminds me of Youth Lagoon with its stratum of distant percussions, melody and words, but varies in its perceptibility. Definitely one for the music library.

Listen online and purchase on band camp:

Nomadic Cafe Berwick

I was looking forward to Nomadic cafe opening to see what it would be like and I finally got to go last Saturday for a late breakfast. I can only describe the food here as superb. 

All four of us had something different and every meal was both visually and literally delicious. I had a combination of homemade baked beans (in a unique sauce of herbs, spices, mushrooms) on thick slices of toast and their crunchy hash browns. It was perfect. The people I was with were all equally as impressed with their meals. 

The staff were very friendly. I was discussing the interior of the building with my friend (and we have rather loud voices) and we were overheard by who I assume was the owner/manager. He ended up joining the conversation and explained that some of the features weren't finished yet. I noted that the large plywood bench facade wasn't in keeping with the overall feel of the place. He explained that he has originally planned for a local artist to create a black and white sculptured facade to run along the bench - but had been let down just as the cafe had opened and thus was left with no option but to use the plywood. I can't wait to see what it will look like when it's finished though. 

Even if the actual design of the restaurant is a work in process, the bones of the cafe are in and they are very promising. With some art on the walls and a few pot plants to liven the space, this will be my local hangout for Seinfeld coffee catchups and great food. 

In fact, they are opening a bar at the back of the restaurant to develop a night scene as well. The outside space looks really industrial with its bare oversized light bulbs hanging from a black ceiling, enormous red graffiti mural wall and rusty metal bar. I can't wait for that to open up soon. 

I love it. If you live nearby Berwick in the South East of Melbourne, I definitely recommend you go. 

Made From Stone

Ogami notebooks are made from what they term "Repap", a composite material made up of 80% calcium carbonate (which comes from limestone that they recover from quarries and waste produced by the building industry). The other 20% is non-toxic resins, which gives the paper a soft, almost plastic feel. The end product is a resistant, recyclable, waterproof paper - and the best part is that it comes in superb colour covers, including my favourite: turquoise.

So, grab yourself one. I got mine at MagNation in Melbourne, but you can get them online too.

Friday, March 7, 2014


This morning I was talking to a friend who mentioned they checked out my blog and it made me realise I hadn't uploaded anything for quite some time. It's about time I did, I decided, so here's my run down:

1) I built a house. 

When I say "I" of course I actually mean "we". My now wife and I (I know, that's news too), built the house together. And of course when I say "built" I mean we paid other people to build. With my rather poor set of practical skills I'm fairly sure no one would be able to live in a house I'd built without it collapsing around them at every turn. (It also has driveway now; exposed aggregate. Nice). 

2) I got married! 

This was honestly the best thing to ever happen in my life. I know in the media marriage is portrayed as a negative event for a man: "25 years, you get less for murder!" or "First is the engagement ring, next the wedding ring, then the suffer-ring, get it?" 

But it isn't like that at all - well at least it's not for us. It needn't be when you marry someone you actually want to spend all your time with. Enough of the soppy stuff? Okay, let's move on.

3) I saw my favourite band live. 

I have been more than a little obsessed with Vampire Weekend ever since I heard their Afro-Pop Indie Rock vibe on my car radio that one time on the way to work. I love them. I also love Paul Simon's Graceland album too, but not as much as I love Vampire Weekend. They're just the best. 

Well, in January they graced Australia's shores and put on a killer show in Melbourne that I HAD to see. I elbowed literally hundreds of 17 year old hipsters to get to the front, but I did it. I endured the crushing, sweaty crowd and saw them all perform my favourite tracks (Walcott, Step, Unbelievers, Giving Up The Gun, White Sky, etc.) right in front of my eyes. There is nothing like it. 

4) I discovered a secret beach.

I'm desperately hoping it's not a private beach I've been using all summer without permission, but I stumbled across a small and relatively secluded beach on the Mornington Peninsula. It's amazing. It has rocky islands out in the water, a wonderful old concrete boat ramp to lie on and let the cool waves wash over you, crystal clear waters, and rock pools to explore. I spent an enormous amount of time there over summer. That'll be one of my special spots to go for years now.

I'll give you one clue: 'Hawkers'

Monday, September 2, 2013


Another little thought from Louise L. Hay's book 'Heart Thoughts' to get you on your life path. It's incredible how interconnected we as humans are to our planet, our environment, the cosmos and to each other. Scientists say that every cell in our bodies came from an exploding star, and yet we rely on the water cycle and sunlight for plants to grow, which in turn become our food. Animals can sense our fear an calm, and human interaction brings us belonging and love. Relationships are everywhere. You're already connected to all life, even if you feel alone. You're not. You're part of all the life that surrounds you. Now, go be an active and beneficial part of it! 

Salute the Reuser and Get a KeepCup

I had a KeepCup ages ago, but I lost it in the spongiform staffroom at work and it was lost forever. I've only recently gone and gotten myself another, and not a moment too soon. I'd spilled scorching hot water all over my poor wrists and fingers countless times trying to walk my mugs of coffee or tea from the staffroom to my office, or a nearby classroom. I don't have the kinesthetic abilities needed to do so without slopping it everywhere, thus the KeepCup is the way to go. 

KeepCups are Australian made and owned, which in this day and age is a rarity indeed. You can choose from the colours already put together for you (such as mine below - large in "Aurora") or you can design your own, or design one for a friend. Very nice. 

So, check out their online store and grab yourself one. I even got my best mate's toddler a mini one, the same colour as mine so he can get his bubbachino to go. 

Check them out here:

And watch their promotional video 'Salute the Reuser' here: 

Vampire Weekend vs. Paul Simon Mashup

As my previous post mentioned, I'm an enormous fan of both Vampire Weekend, and their semi-step-father-of-afro-pop-rock Paul Simon. Someone by the name of "Gorillathrillers" on YouTube has put together a perfect mashup of 'White Sky' by Vampire Weekend and 'Crazy Love' by Paul Simon. It's literally amazing how well these songs combine. It's almost like they were recorded together. Wonderful. Give it a listen below. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Afro Pop Rock

Acapella is one of those dorky yet cool things in life - and is only tolerable when done really well.

But, I've found a group called Colgate 13 and I love them. They do a rendition of two of my all time favourite artists and songs - Paul Simons' Diamonds (On the Soles of Her Shoes) and Vampire Weekend's 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa. It's beautiful.

Their harmonies are amazing and their interpretation of the percussion is outstanding. Hats off to you boys. And three cheers for wearing a tux and bowtie with bat collared shirts, you really know how to put on a show.

Check them out below.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Chilled Parsley and Green Pea Soup

This is not a recipe blog, but it's becoming a health and wellbeing one. It's developing and evolving as I am changing in my own lifestyle choices and health. And with the changes has come a shift toward healthy eating and lean food. 
I was on Martha Stuart's side project site called Whole Living ( and I came across a link to a website based in Copenhagen called My New Roots, which is a not-for-profit website run by a woman known as 'Sarah B'. It is a wealth of knowledge, ideas, recipes and healthy eating inspiration. 
I've stolen (let's say borrowed) just one recipe and a couple of images to show you how incredible the whole project is. It reminds me a lot of Belle Gibson's 'Whole Pantry' app and website in a way because it is simply designed to get people healthier. No strings attached. 
Go to the website and have a look for yourself. Amazing stuff. 

Chilled Parsley and Green Pea SoupServes 4
knob of coconut oil (or ghee)
2 medium onions (approx. 375g)
4 cloves garlic
a couple pinches sea salt
500g / 1lb. shelled peas (frozen is fine)
2 cups / 40g flat leaf (Italian) parsley, leaves only
3-4 cups / 1 liter vegetable broth (depending on how fluid you like it)
zest of ½ lemon 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
1. Roughly chop onions and mince garlic.
2. In a large stockpot, heat a knob of coconut oil. When melted, add onions and a couple pinches of salt, stir to coat, cook for 5-10 minutes until onions have browned. Add garlic, stir to coat, cook three minutes.
3. Add 3 cups hot vegetable broth, (reserving 1 cup for blending) add peas, bring to a simmer and turn off the heat. Add parsley and fold in to wilt leaves. When the parsley has wilted, transfer the soup to a blender and blend on high until smooth (add extra broth if desired). Add lemon zest, juice, and olive oil, blend. Season to taste. Serve as is, or let cool slightly, then place in the fridge until fully chilled. Keeps for 3-4 days in the fridge.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Vidais on Instagram

This guy is amazing.

He only has 64 posts, yet his photos capture what is great about the summer. With rhythmic waves, surfers out at sea, skylines, mountain ranges in the desert, fluffy clouds and sunsets, Vidais is one of a kind.

The other day I commented on the post above, requesting a large file version of the photo. I want to frame it. I thought he'd send me to a website or give me his Bpay details. But no, he just emailed me one that day and thanked me for liking his photos. What an absolute legend. This photo, when framed is going to take pride of place on a nice little wall somewhere. Thanks Vidais, you're a star.

Check him out, and follow him by searching for Vidais on your Instagram account.

The Power to Change

Just a little thought from Louise L. Hay from her book 'Heart Thoughts.' It's easy to feel stuck, or always a victim of others. Yet, it's in you to make the changes you need to feel better, to look better, to act better and to know better. You want it for yourself, but we can also feel powerless to change things. But that is not the case. You need to see the power you have, and use it positively to change your circumstances. 

If you're feeling stuck in a rut at work - look for new challenges, roles, or an entirely new career. If that seems too daunting, just take on a hobby or small business of your own on the side. Who knows, maybe you'll be your own boss doing that some day. 

Or, if you're unhappy with your health or fitness levels, join up at a gym. Start eating better. Go for a run or a walk. Do some sit-ups during the ad breaks of a tv show. Get outside and stretch. Make yourself a juice. Enjoy life. 

You and you alone have the power to make the changes you need and want to make. Go do it. For yourself. 

My Healthy Eating Ideas

This is how my 20/20 diet has been going. For updates or to watch my progress follow me on Instagram at landoftakewhatyouwant. Try some recipes! 

"Beet Your Cold" Juice

You'll need one beetroot, half a pineapple, one green apple, one small lime, three carrots, and several sticks of celery. Stick them in a juicer. Serve. Enjoy. 

"I'm At Work But Feeling Good" Juice

You'll need a jar with lid, half a celery, cucumbers, two green apples, a lime, and a piece of ginger root. Chuck them all in a juicer. Pour into jar. Bring to work and sip away your stress. 

"I Want to Give My Liver a Treat" Juice

You'll need several sticks of celery, some spinach (blended), a large cucumber, a large pink grapefruit, one or two green apples, a small piece of pineapple, and a piece of ginger root. Put them all through your juicer. This one is a little bitter due to the grapefruit, but the pineapple and green apple will mask some of it. Your liver thanks you. 

"Roast Vegetable, Spinach and Fetta Quinoa"

You'll need a beetroot, a large sweet potato, a butternut pumpkin, white quinoa, baby spinach leaves, and 200g Danish feta. 

Cook the quinoa in a pot, one cup per two cups of water and boil lightly until liquid is absorbed. Then cool. Next, roast beetroot wedges, cut up sweet potato and pumpkin in olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a hot oven for 40 mins. Stir the roasted vegetables through the cooked quinoa. Then stir through the spinach. The heat will cause it to wilt. Next, add the Danish feta, crumbed by hand on top. Serve. 

"The Stir Fry"

You'll need: broccolini, carrots, a beetroot, a bunch of radishes, a small piece of ginger, chicken breast fillets (hormone-free and organically raised), and garlic, a brown onion and olive oil. You may also need sweet chili, soy and oyster sauces.

Add olive oil, onion and garlic to a hot wok. Stir for two minutes to release flavours. Add chicken pieces if desired (breast fillets, chopped into six pieces). Add sliced carrot and beetroot and grated ginger. Stir and simmer for three or four minutes. Lastly, add broccolini cut into three pieces along the stalk, leaving the heads in tact. Add sweet chili, soy and oyster sauce if desired. You can also add some radish sliced using a mandolin slicer. Serve.

Getting My Wedding-Body On

The 20/20 Diet

So I'm getting married in 7 weeks. I know, that's exciting. But three weeks ago I was talking to some people and in conversation one man said, "Well, I'm not as fit as I was on my wedding day." And that made me think about my own health. I'm certainly not as healthy or as fit as I was a year ago. I used to go to gym three or four times a week. Now I'm lucky to go once. And even then I'm not consistent. Which made me take a long hard look at myself. I'd sort've let myself go. 

Once the shock and guilt had subsided, I decided I wanted to lose the little beer belly I was developing, trim down, shape up and get fit. But how? I then started talking to a friend at work, and she told me she'd just downloaded a book by Lola Berry onto her iPad and was thinking of starting the diet. 

I immediately didn't think I wanted to do it. I don't like the word diet. But I do like the word 'nutrition' and Lola is a nutritionist. She'd lost 20kgs in 20 weeks. I needed to lose about 5 in 10 weeks. Clearly I was onto something. 

So, what is the 20/20 diet? Basically, it boils down to three four things: 

- No grains (including wheat, rice, rye, spelt, etc.)
- No dairy (including milk, yoghurt, yellow cheeses, etc.)
- No sugar (no raw, caster, white, or cane sugar of any kind)
- At least four sessions of 45 mins of exercise per week. 

That sounds dreadful. I know. But it's actually not bad. 

The hardest part was cutting out the sugar, but that was even alright after three or four days. The headaches fade and you feel like you can really go a day without it. Fruit helps with that too. 

So, if you're stuck in a rut, or feeling sick often, or you just want to get a fresh start to your summer body, get into the 20/20 diet by Lola Berry. It's nutritious and you won't end up hungry. The nutrient rich vegetables, juices, meat dishes (if you're not vegetarian) and fruits will have you feeling fresh, healthy and glowingly well.