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Posts from the ‘Nature’ Category

Natural remedies for hay fever.

Summer white flower camomile

Spring is in the air! But for some it’s not all flowers and freshly cut grass…

Hay fever, or seasonal rhinitis is a very common health condition, with over 3 million Australians reporting symptoms, especially at this time of year. Interestingly, Kleenex tells us that hay fever is most prevalent in the 25-34 years age bracket, and slightly more females are sufferers. We are not sure why exactly, so if you know do please share

Hay fever is typically a reaction to pollen from trees, grasses and weeds that makes the immune system believe pollen is a harmful invader, triggering production of the antibody immunoglobulin E. This stimulates release of histamine, causing inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages, along with excessive mucus production and other symptoms such as sneezing, itching nose and throat, watery eyes and a clear, runny nose (read: really bloody annoying).

Here in Victoria pollen numbers are higher, due to the prevailing winds from the north which carry pollen from the northerly grasslands. This means that the incidence of hay fever for we Melburnians is higher than the national average, with 17, 500 per 100, 000 people affected (visualising Kleenex rubbing their hands with glee at this time of the year).

Am I making you itchy with all of this hayfever speak? Well before you reach for those antihistamine drugs, I’ve some good news for you. As it happens, there are a number of natural remedies, found in foods, nutrients and herbs, that are extremely beneficial for alleviating hay fever symptoms.

(Sorry Priceline but today my intention is to reduce your antihistamine drug sales).

Fruits & Vegetables

Kiwifruit. Kiwis contain exceptional quantities of Vitamin C which is a natural anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. It also protects against secondary respiratory conditions (e.g. asthma) that may arise from the excess pollen in the air. The bioflavenoids and antioxidants present within Kiwifruit are also potent anti-histamines.

Other good food sources of vitamin C and bioflavanoids include citrus fruits, strawberries, red capsicums, broccoli, papaya, guava and mango.

Pineapple. A rich source of bromelain, an enzyme that produces strong anti-inflammatory effects, Pineapples assist with decreasing nasal congestion and inflammation of mucous linings.

Onion. Packed with the flavanoid quercetin, a powerful anti-inflammatory and natural anti-histamine. Onions are best eaten raw, to receive the beneficial anti hay fever effect. Why not toss a red onion through a summer salad?

Quercetin is also found in apples, kale, red grapes, berries, cherries and parsley.

All Orange fruits & Vegetables. The vibrant colour of carrots, pumpkin, apricots, mango and papaya indicates high levels of beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. This vitamin ensures mucous membranes are kept healthy, reducing inflammation and preventing secondary respiratory infections.

Herbal tea of chamomile flowers

Teas

Nettle tea. May help relieve inflammation of the upper respiratory tract and ease nasal congestion, sneezing and itching.

Licorice tea. Licorice root has a soothing effect and helps to reduce irritation of the respiratory system.

Spices

Turmeric. This spice contains curcumin, a phytochemical with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions that are comparable to steroidal and nonsteroidal drugs. Curcumin has also been found to have anti-allergy properties, which inhibit the release of histamine.

Why not get into my Turmeric Om?

Ginger. A powerful natural anti-inflammatory that helps reduce nasal swelling and associated hay fever symptoms. Ginger tea and raw honey is a great option, working to break up chest congestion and loosen phlegm. It strengthens the immune system and acts as a natural antihistamine.

Horseradish and garlic. These beauties will also assist you during your hayfever struggles, acting as a decongestant to clear nasal passages.

Foods to avoid

It is also important to note which foods exacerbate the effects of hayfever. Be sure to limit or avoid cow’s milk and other dairy products as they can increase the production of mucus in the respiratory tract and increase hay fever nasal congestion. Try alternatives such as rice, almond, quinoa and coconut milks.
Consult your Naturopath or homeopath for additional herbal remedies that may assist.
Do you have any of your own tips to help reduce the impact of hay fever season?
*Credit to Kleenex and Blackmores for some information in this post.

The Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat (that has me hooked) + a beautiful GIVEAWAY!

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So there I was, a few days into my 5 night stay at the Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, mindfully enjoying my delicious organic salad, when a guest to my left pipes up and says “Amy, when you get home, perhaps you’d better edit an old post you wrote about never spending big bucks on health retreats.” My reaction? “Noooo…I wouldn’t have said that!”. Out came someone’s phone, up came the blog post I wrote earlier in the year, and low and behold…I swallowed both my words AND my lunch!

My words exactly:“….my life is usually one big detoxification process these days. I own a Far Infra-Red Sauna (you can read about that here), I eat organic foods, I drink detoxifying green juices every day, as far as humanly possible I avoid toxic chemicals on my skin, in my hair, in my home. It’s not likely you’ll see me paying big bucks to go to a health retreat.”

Seriously, words swallowed (and all apologies to Gwinganna). I am a new woman and I’ll tell you why in a sec.

Firstly, let me introduce you to this incredible destination. Gwinganna is Australia’s only Eco Tourism health retreat, located in the Hinterland of the Gold Coast. Perched on top of a plateau, it is surrounded by stunning ocean and valley views that leave you feeling like you’re a million miles away from anywhere. Amongst a multitude of other things, you are blessed with beautiful mountain air, a distinct lack of (any) traffic and a feeling of utter serenity and stillness (unless of course you’re engaged in a ‘yang’ physical activity that has your sides hurting from laughter and your lungs screaming from exertion). Gwinganna offers a variety of programs to suit the needs of the ‘freshers’ like me and the multitudes of returning guests who know a good thing when they find it.

Having recently completed a 30 day cleanse, I chose not to attend a detox program (that’d be just cruel), but instead to join their 5 night Optimum Wellbeing program: “This retreat will help you to cleanse your body and to empower yourself by first assessing and then discovering solutions to improve your quality of life. Using integrative health techniques, this journey provides the opportunity to balance essential areas of your lifestyle.” 

So you may ask why I decided to go to a health retreat, when let’s be honest, from the outside looking in, my lifestyle does look pretty healthy (as per my now word-swallowing quote above). Well the fact is, it hasn’t been as healthy as it may actually appear. Up until last week (because as I said, I am now a changed woman), there was a distinct lack of balance in my life. The food I get pretty right, same goes for clean living. The bit I battle with is balance, more specifically rest, play and stillness. My wonderful new career has me racing around battling ever expanding ‘to do’ lists; social media demands that could have me up all night; an inbox that flows to abundance 24/7..and an addiction to technology that has me wired and engaged all day every day. So you can imagine my delight when I read that laptops and mobiles were considered ‘contraband’ – how’s that for cold turkey!

I’ve decided to share with you a typical day in the life of a Gwinganna guest, to give you a feel for the level of activity you can choose to be involved in (or not, as the case may be). I must stress, none of this is mandatory. It is entirely up to you how much or how little you would like to participate.

5.30am: the suns up and with a knock on your door there’s a cheery voice prompting you to hop out of bed (it is broad daylight, please do not be scared off by the ungodly (for some) hour!

There we are, on the hill overlooking the most glorious view, practising Qigong.

There we are, on the hill overlooking the most glorious view, practising Qigong. Photo credit, my new friend and fellow guest, Jackie 🙂

6.00am: Overlooking the incredible valley and coastal views we learn and practise the ancient art of Qigong, a moving meditation.

7-8.00am: The guests select a Yin walk (gentle paced) or a Yang walk (heart pumping, lung busting – serious hills!).

8-9.00am: Breakfast, in all of its organic, caffeine free, whole food, as-nature-intended-it glory.

9-11.00am: Thirty minutes of light stretching to be followed by your choice of Yin or Yang activities. These may include yoga, palates or creative dance (Yin) or boxing, spin or fit ball classes (Yang) – there is always a fabulous selection.

11-11.30am: Morning tea. SO yum. Think tahini balls, smoothies or fresh young coconuts.

11.30-1.00pm: A hugely educational seminar with topics covering anything from nutrition, mind mechanics, colonic health…you name it. These totally surpassed my expectations. All the speakers are highly qualified and fantastic speakers to boot.

1-2.00pm: Wohoooo it’s lunch time! Oh so good. Raw salads fresh from the garden, beautiful soups, fish off the barbie..I was kept very happy!

2-6.00pm: The much loved ‘dreamtime’. Time for you to do whatever your body and mind needs most – to rest in your room, to lie by the pool (my choice), to while away hours in their amazing day spa (with a spa menu bigger than your phone book, assuming you don’t live in Sydney), having acupuncture, massages, manicures, body scrubs, hot stone massages, kinesiology, you name it!

Gwinganna Lifestyle Resort - Gwinganna Gym , March 2008.

4.00pm: Afternoon tea. Again, always yum. Think crunchy crudités, raw crackers and yummo dips.

6-7.00pm: Meditation class anyone? Perhaps a functional movement class…whatever the case it’s a gentle hour.

7-8.00pm: Dinner with your fellow guests. There’s always a vegetarian option and for the meat eaters amongst two night with red meat on offer.

The food. OH THE FOOD!

The food. OH THE FOOD!

Did I love it? With every ounce of my being! And this is what I loved:

  • Meeting and befriending other amazing guests, all with a story and something interesting to share. It was the most beautifully positive group of people and I was particularly glad I had attended the retreat on my own.
  • The hugely talented staff, all of which were totally authentic and passionate about their work (it seriously shows)
  • The opportunity to totally disconnect from the world – I switched off as I arrived and back on as I left. I was blissfully unaware of the outside world.
  • The day spa…oh the day spa! It is incredible and don’t get me started on the treatments. Actually you can. If you go…try the Sound and Stone treatment – oh my goodness – a hot stone massage timed and choreographed with music by an amazing therapist, it was out of this world.
  • The food – just amazing. Gluten free, sugar free (bar fruit) and organic. Most of it comes fresh out of the ground in their own beautiful veggie patch, tended lovingly by a hugely talented chef turned gardener, Shelley.
  • The pools (yep, there are two infinity pools). It’s hard to describe the feeling in the water. They feels as fresh and clean as spring water. Glorious.
  • My bed. I was out like a light by 9pm and wide awake at 5am, every day. Slept like a baby and woke up feeling incredible.
  • The quality of the information shared in the seminars. This program looks into all facets of your life style, there is SO much to learn.

There are so many reasons why I loved this experience but the proof in the pudding (don’t get excited, there WAS no pudding) was the way I felt as I hopped back onto the bus on departure. I had this amazing sense of vitality and calm; I felt totally balanced with energy I had not felt for some time; there was a feeling of absolute nourishment reflected in the whites of my eyes, the glow on my skin and a smile on my face that I couldn’t wipe off. I honestly cannot wait to go back (soon).

IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME! 

One very lucky THI follower is going to secure a copy of this absolutely gorgeous recipe book, A Taste of Gwinganna…from garden to gourmet. Here’s a little excerpt from Gwinganna:

“The very first book from the team at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in the Gold Coast hinterland, ‘…from garden to gourmet’, is a celebration of delicious and healthy organic cuisine for every meal of the day. Over 140 pages, it uses organic ingredients to create simple options that can be created at home.The recipes are all directly from the menus at Gwinganna and have been developed in conjunction with Gwinganna’s nutritionists. The book also features information to help you live healthier and nutritional tips for each dish. Beautifully photographed, the book is a valuable guide toward optimal wellness. If you want to eat healthier and have more energy, then this book is for you.”

Valued at $59.95, this is a must have addition to your recipe book collection. To win this book, simply tell us in 20 words or less why you’d love it. The winner will be chosen post 4pm on Monday 28th October.

Conditions: you must be a THI follower and reside in Australia. 

Recipe Ebook Cover

How to create a plastic free home.

Eco Friendly Stamp As Symbol For  Recycling

I am always one to avoid plastic containers, bottles and cans where possible, influenced by studies claiming that their bisphonel-a (BPA) content, a man made chemical, was thought to disrupt the body’s natural hormone balance. Recently however I have discovered reports that the presence of BPA’s don’t actually produce the adverse effects once thought. You can read about this further in this article by Chris Kresser and make up your own mind on the subject, the jury is still out.

As Kris goes on to say however, “I don’t think I’ll ever look back and say ‘Gee, I sure wish I would have used more plastic containers,’ but I can certainly see myself regretting NOT eliminating them if it turns out that BPA and other plastics do have harmful effects”. And let’s not neglect to mention plastics effect on the environment.

So, with that in mind, here are some tips I have found particularly helpful on my journey to becoming plastic free.

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A Plastic Free Kitchen

Is it even possible? Here, for me the first issue when I started out was the collection of Tupperware. The stuff’s expensive! I am still in the process of converting 100% to plastic free but there is definite rule of no hot food going into plastic. I am however ditching, slowly but surely (recycling, don’t just throw it out.. it’ll end up in landfill for a thousand years) and replacing with a myriad of pretty mason jars (oh how we health nutters love thee), and recycled almond butter jars (there’s a plethora of those I can assure you). I was on to the following:

Utensils, mixing bowls and measuring jugs. Even the large department stores offer wood or metal options, let’s not go getting all “Country Road Home” all at once. A favourite is bamboo, the products look and feel gorgeous. Or you could choose the stainless steel route, creating a modern industrial feel within your home.

Non stick pans. I discovered that the non-stick part of the non-stick pan is actually a plastic. Instead choose cast iron or stainless steel for stick free, plastic free cooking. Plastic free pan handles also ensure they are oven safe, great for browning those frittata’s! As some of you may know I am on the hunt for a new cookware range..am close to making the ‘big decision’ and will report back shortly.

Packaged food. Buying from the butcher is a great alternative to purchasing pre-packaged items from the supermarket fridge. And, frequenting your local markets makes finding loose or kindly packaged items much easier (plus it’s nice to support your local economy). Really, plastic free packaged food just means forgoing those processed bikkies and making them yourself… better for the environment and better for you!

Shopping bags. Taking an eco friendly tote shopping is a great start to a plastic free home. Once at the store, use the paper bags provided to package veggies (most markets offer paper, Coles isn’t quite there yet), then you can re-use again later for packed lunches or gifting baked goods during the week. Or simply purchase reusable produce bags as found here. There are some really stylish hemp string shopping bags out there, super affordable, just be sure to wash them regularly.

Appliances. Convert the plastic kettle to the stove top variety, preferably one without an annoying whistle. Or the glass Breville kettle. Look for stainless steel coffee machines. Ditch the toaster if you have one, and use your grill. Microwave, be gone! You can steam your veggies. Juicers? Blenders? Well, all signs point to the Thermomix (just kidding, not really).

I am still yet to find a suitable alternative for plastic bin liners, albeit I am currently using the BioPack compostable variety. Any suggestions appreciated!

wooden spoon on old wooden table

Plastic Free Bathroom

So you think de-plastifying (it’s totally a word) your kitchen was a challenge. Oh just you wait, the bathroom is a beast! My bathroom is on the way to becoming an eco serenity, a beautiful sight, and it will be well worth the effort.

Shampoo & Conditioner. What’s a girl to do? Toddle off with her glass jars to the market every Sunday to top up on hair products? Initially I thought this idea absurd, but in actual fact it’s a great option. For those who frequent the Melbourne Prahran Market, Shop Neutral has a dispensary of eco friendly haircare and personal hygiene products, I am told CERES Environmental Park in East Brunswick has similar options. Look for one at your local market too!

Toothbrush & Toothpaste. If you’re willing to part with your electric toothbrush, there are some toothbrushes out there made from the most weird and wonderful materials. I discovered a brush with the handle made from recycled yoghurt cups (but wait, isn’t that plastic? I guess it’s recycled. Not sure about that one!). Check out the environmental toothbrush if you’d like to purchase a 100% biodegradable Australian made brush.

Also, have you ever wondered why your tube of Colgate instructs you not to swallow? Again it is filled with chemicals, that are also harmful to the environment after you have spat them out. Pure and Green Organics offer a certified organic toothpaste made from only the most delicious natural ingredients (aloe vera juice, coconut oil, olive oil etc.. a dental “mousse” that takes a little getting used to after years of peppermint cream conditioning), with packaging consisting of 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard for toothpaste caps, and renewable plant sugar BIOpacks for toothpaste tubes.

Toilet paper. It’s paper right? We cool. But be sure that your bulk purchases are wrapped in paper, not plastic. Or purchase individually wrapped. Check out this fantastic brand, Who Gives a Crap and help flush poverty down the loo.

This is a great start, so let’s leave what is inside the cosmetics cupboard for another day. I think you’ll find as you start becoming more environmentally conscious around the home however this will extend to your skincare and personal hygiene products too. Most authentic natural cosmetics commit to the eco friendly mentality and package in glass jars and the like, it’s a win win.

Certain items still mystify me and I am still far from perfect. I think the point is that we give it a go, for the sake of our health and the environment. So why not see if you can refrain from buying plastic this week.

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Goodbye! (advising of a brief hiatus from the world).

Gwingannas Relaxation Pool

 

Just in case you’re wondering, that’s not me. But it will be in about 48 hours. In fact I am going to strike that pose and see if I can get a photo in exactly that spot, looking just as ‘still’ and peaceful as this young lass. Actually it won’t be a matter of ‘looking’ as still, I’ll be feeling it too. Much more important.

Tomorrow I am flying north to the warmer climes of Queensland. On Sunday I am checking into the Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, for their 5 night Optimum Wellbeing package, where laptop computers, caffeine, newspapers and radios are just a few of the items listed as ‘contraband’. Apparently mobile phones are not permitted outside of your room. I can’t even begin to imagine the withdrawals whilst being presented with an array of amazing food (which I hear is incredible) and not being able to take a photo – that alone is reason enough to take this break don’t you think? An Instagram addict I have become indeed.

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This represents the first time I will have totally disconnected from the world in years (most significantly, technology) and after a huge ten months building a new life and career I know it’s time. I need a break. A totally uninterrupted rest where I can restore my batteries, reflect on my year and ponder the future.

That being said, on Sunday I’ll be switching everything off and will have no access to emails, Facebook, Instagram, my website, Twitter, text messages, voicemail message…you name it. My very able assistant Sarah will be about to answer queries in my absence, but something tells me the world (and my business) will go on without me for 6 days.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts around this ‘great disconnect’ upon my return. See you all on the other side people and have a wonderful, restful and nourishing weekend.

Amy x

 

 

 

Why you should Give a Fork! this October.

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I wanted to share what I believe is a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference to the future of our environment – by joining Sustainable Table in showing that you Give a Fork! about what’s on your plate.

A new and innovative Australian not-for-profit organisation Sustainable Table, empowers the community to use their shopping dollar to vote for a food system that is fair, humane, healthy and good for the environment. And, with a dream to unite people who are passionate about sharing the messages of a sustainable food system, the Give a Fork! dinner party campaign was born.

Give a Fork! provides the perfect way to discuss the serious issues of sustainability with your family and friends in a relaxed and non-confronting way, because lets face it, you might be a little bit tired of the eye rolls you get for being that person at the dinner party who inquires if the chicken is free range or politely declines the factory farmed pork chop (not that we do that, but we may well ‘think’ that!).

This year, the focus is on seafood.

As Australians, we love spending hot summer days on the beach and there is definitely nothing like a seafood cook up with your friends. The raw truth however, is that decades of global mismanagement, overfishing and pollution have reduced many species’ populations to the brink of extinction.

Sea life is one of the least understood areas of our food system, despite the ocean sustaining all life on our planet, delivering half of our oxygen and providing an estimated $20 trillion worth of natural resources and services a year. Sustainability into our future? We need to talk about it.

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Why you should Give a Fork!

Check out this great informative little video to further understand why you should Give a Fork!

Here’s how it works…

Cast the Line
Gather a group of friends together during 7-14th of October and host a sustainable seafood dinner party. Hosts will receive a free host pack containing all the resources needed to cook a delicious and sustainable seafood dinner. Inside this pack you will find; a Sustainable Seafood e-Cookbook (find a sneak peak here), A Fishy Business DVD (a 6 minute clip that you might like to screen on the night), 5 Steps to Sustainability place mats (so you look like the perfect host!), and a Switch your Fish Guide (plus lots more…!)

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Get Hooked
The idea is that you and your friends ‘get hooked’, an occasion that highlights issues on sustainability so you are equipped to make ethical and conscious decisions when it comes to purchasing and consuming seafood.

Vegetarian? Not to worry! You most certainly can participate! The e-Cookbook features a delicious selection of vegetarian recipes, just let your host know. As Barton Seaver once said, “Want to save more fish? Eat more broccoli!”

Reel Them In
Now, ask your friends to donate what they would have spent on a night out. The money raised will help Sustainable Table continue this important work of building a fair and sustainable food system locally and abroad (read more about the work of Sustainable table here)

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Great Prizes to be Won For Top Fundraising Hosts!
Wow, it get’s better! An amazing array of prizes are up for grabs for the top fundraising dinner parties:

1st Prize
A bounty of treasure to share: Mount Zero Biodynamic Olive Oil, Demeter Biodynamic brown rice, Robinvale Demeter wine and sparkling ginger ale, Murray River Sea Salt, Fowles Wine and a massive selection of Nature’s Cuppa organic teas. valued at well over $600. Enough for another party!

2nd Prize
Neoflam Cookware ‘family plus’ set of three – saucepan, casserole and saute pan. Valued at $500.

3rd Prize
KitchenAid Artisan Deluxe Hand Blender. Valued at $250.

4th Prize
endota spa 90 minute spa voucher. Valued at $185.


Sign me up!
Simply use the link HERE to to register to become a Give a Fork! dinner party host.

Once you have signed up your free e-Cookbook will be sent out. And if you would like to read further around this issue, in preparation for your event, check out the Fishy Business page here!

I cannot wait to host my own Give a Fork! dinner… Let the party planning begin!

grilled shrimps with seafood sauce on white plate

a food system that is fair, humane, healthy and good for the environment. With up to 60% of our personal eco-footprint embodied in the food that we buy, there is no better place to start. – See more at: http://sustainabletable.org.au/About/tabid/57/Default.aspx#sthash.NxASzBvK.dpuf

 

Are you waiting to get happy? (and a photo gallery from a novice).

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It took me many, many years to learn to find happiness within; to have no reliance on external sources to pick me up, pull me along, make me believe that I was enough. I now know that I AM enough, that I don’t ‘need’ anything external to me to make me truly happy. To know that YOU are the power, that YOU are enough is a huge and incredibly empowering feeling.

Have you gone through life waiting, waiting for happiness to hit you in the face, to burst into your heart? Waiting for that gorgeous man (or woman) to come along (because then you’ll be happy); waiting to lose 5 kilos (because then you’ll be really happy); waiting to earn more money (because surely, when you are earning $10,000 more, you’ll be happy).

You know what? Don’t wait. Give up the wait and look within. Find happiness in your every day, show gratitude for what you have in your life right now, give to others, live consciously – raise your vibration and invite  happiness in.  There is absolutely no point in waiting because whatever it is you are yearning for may never come – and what a waste of time and energy that will have been.

I wanted to show you a place that I go to often, a place that I go to to rest, to allow my mind and body to find stillness. This is Freycinet Peninsula on the East Coast of Tasmania. For many years my family have had a holiday house here and it is without doubt my favourite place  – it also played a huge part in my recovery from CFS. I grew up in Tasmania and moved away over 20 years ago. For many years since I have visited often, not only because I yearned to see my family but because I believed I needed a ‘Tassie fix’, a fix that would re-balance me, nourish me and bring me happiness again. When life hurled it’s challenges, I’d book a flight and flee. Inevitably I would return home feeling better in many ways, that’s true. Yet, should you need to book a flight and then wait to reach your favourite destination in order to find happiness?

My recent holiday in Freycinet Peninsula was just what I needed. I needed to stop for a while, immerse myself in big open spaces, take long walks, read books, remove myself from what has become an intensive working life. I work from home so there is little respite – it is only healthy that I remove myself from home once in a while. During this stay however, I was struck with the realisation that I didn’t ‘need’ Tasmania anymore. I am certainly fortunate to have a reason to go there (because I love it dearly and I love my family), but my ‘happy place’ is in my heart, it’s not waiting on the beach or on that mountain.  It’s within me right now and it’s entirely up to me how I choose to feel, every single moment of my day.

Give up the wait, be happy now.

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The love of my life, Wilson. The King of the Castle.

The love of my life, Wilson. The King of the Castle.

Introducing ‘C’ and ‘D’ of Alphabet Adventures

Going a bit 'cuckoo' at the Austrian Cuckoo restaurant.

Going a bit ‘cuckoo’ at the Austrian Cuckoo restaurant.

Just a little recap for those of you who aren’t yet across the Alphabet Adventures challenge (for an explanation as to how Alphabet Adventures works have a quick read here). This 12 month “sacking the fun police” challenge commenced at the beginning of the year with my dear friend Lucy and was born out of a desire (and blatant need) to lighten up, reconnect with my inner child and most importantly, to learn to laugh again (like REALLY laugh). I didn’t find much to laugh about when I was unwell – irrespective of not seeing the funny side of life laughing requires energy that you simply aren’t blessed with during the CFS battle.

So on the weekend Luce and I completed the letters C and D. Let’s just say there were indeed laughs along the way and lessons to be learnt. The laughs started an hour in when we got lost simply trying to find our destination in the Dandenong Ranges, the destination being the 1000 steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk (D for Dandenong in case you were wondering!). Honestly? It’s like a seriously popular tourist spot yet we still got lost because we were not at all organised and jumped in the car without even thinking about what direction we were going in. Anyhoo! There is no doubt the walk proved an uphill challenge for someone who is not at all hill fit (for those of you following this blog from another state or country..Melbourne is very, very flat!). But we made it, albeit taking the wrong track up (they have created a second track leading to the top that is not complete with steps) but managed to fight our way down the steps, battling the crowds on a busy Sunday morning (second mistake, do not attempt the 1000 steps mid morning on a weekend if you are just a little impatient like my good self).

You're kidding me aren't you? We're only 1000 metres up?

You’re kidding me aren’t you? We’re only 1000 metres up?

So we made it...in case you were wondering..and lived to tell the tale. Just a little rest in the sun before the decline commences.

So we made it…in case you were wondering..and lived to tell the tale. Just a little rest in the sun before the decline commences.

There was plenty of time to stop and smell the gum trees, and to breath in the beautiful fresh air..once my lungs recovered that is.

There was plenty of time to stop and smell the gum trees, and to breath in the beautiful fresh air..once my lungs recovered that is.

Feeling just a little more sprightly on the down hill..

Feeling just a little more sprightly on the down hill..

C was a whole other story and I’m sorry Luce but I am taking no credit for C! Luce had been to the Bavarian restaurant Cuckoo before…about 12 years before it happens. It seems her memory had failed her just a tad. Let’s just the Cuckoo wasn’t exactly our cup of tea. It’s a huge restaurant, teaming with massive groups of people all fighting for food across about 5 different buffets. Not my cup of tea at all. Not to the mention the fact that irrespective of exercise neither of us were really very hungry. So with much probing we are eventually advised that yes we can simply order a platter for $20 each. Thinking that was a sterling idea we ordered the meat AND vegetarian platters. I will post a photo and leave it at that..except to say we wished our dogs had been with us because they may have enjoyed some of this processed meat..which was left totally untouched. As was the dalmada with a nice long bit of hair in it. Enough said. Moral of that story? Do your research girls!

You can't go to a German restaurant and NOT have a German beer...after a 1000 step steep incline walk..can you?

You can’t go to a German restaurant and NOT have a German beer…after a 1000 step steep incline walk..can you?

A meal for two not very hungry girls. Processed meat anyone? Olives anyone? Let's just say the food waste police would have been VERY unimpressed.

A meal for two not very hungry girls. Processed meat anyone? Olives anyone? Let’s just say the food waste police would have been VERY unimpressed.