Just Random Things

The simple things in life make me happy.

Like having new adulting experiences that are somewhat anxiety-producing, but overall largely harmless, or positive.

Like learning more about myself as I go further in my job, gaining understanding.

Like establishing and keeping new routines that work for me, so I can do what I need to do. (Pack my bag the night before and get to bed by ‘this’ time*; get up with the alarm at ‘that’ time; leave the house by ‘this’ time aiming for that tram…
* = not always successful, but it’s the thought that counts. Also, specific bedtime routines like journaling and meditation apps are useful.)

Like morning sunrises and evening sunsets, and being able to physically see the former change time (getting up at a certain time means I notice that!).

Like the neighbourhood pets – my place has a lot of cats around.

As well as the unexpected wildlife encounters.

Yesterday morning, as I walked up the platform steps at my last changeover, I heard a little bird-call. It was very distinctive. I turned and found the bird, perched on a branch near the railing. Not wanting to scare it off, I didn’t photograph it, but instead memorised its features. Today, I dug around online for an internet equivalent of The Australian Field Guide to Birds, a highly useful book in my family’s house growing up. The “find a bird” section of the Australian Bird Life website was useful, though they organise their ID collection alphabetically rather than by bird species.

After some searching, I found the bird (or at least, I think I did). See below for a picture of the Hooded Robin, taken from their page on the website. He (the bird pictured and that I saw yesterday are male) has a black head, neck and back, with white underbelly. The females of the species are less distinctive. Their call, that the male sang so sweetly yesterday, can be heard in recordings via this link.

Image result for hooded robin

Curried sausages

My grandma (Dad’s mum) makes great curried sausages. I asked her for the recipe, then tested it.

Grandma’s recipe


  • sausages, gravox, curry powder, cornflour, margarine, veggies


  1. Boil sausages then cool and chop
  2. Sauce of gravox, tsp curry powder, cornflour, margarine
  3. Keep stirring so it doesn’t burn 
  4. Combine sausages with sauce and veg plus grated apple

My Adaption

I prefer to chop and fry the sausages, then make the sauce around them then add the veg. It tastes so good!


Last year, my partner and I made nachos for dinner. They’re quite easy to make though there’s a bit of a process involved.


  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1x can kidney beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 sachet of taco seasoning mix
  • Tomato paste & water or passata
  • 1x packet corn chips
  • grated cheese


  1. Chop onion and prepare other ingredients (now is the time to open jars or cans so you don’t have to scramble to open them later.)
  2. Preheat oven to 200C.
  3. Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat.
  4. Cook onion for 2 minutes, or until soft.
  5. Add mince. Cook, stirring, until browned.
  6. Add kidney beans and seasoning (taco spice mix etc.) and tomato paste. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thick.
  7. Arrange corn chips in an oven dish. Top with mince mixture and sprinkle with cheese.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until hot.
  9. While this occurs, make salad to accompany the nachos – we had lettuce and carrot.
  10. When nachos are finished, top with your choice of toppings if desired – e.g. salsa, avocado, sour cream. Serve.


Singing for life

This year I’m singing in two choirs: the Monash University Choral Society (MonUCS) and the La Trobe University Choral Society (LaTUCS). It means my Tuesday and Wednesday evenings are taken during semesters (starting this week!). I love it.

No matter the stress or processing load of the day, I can walk into choir and relax during the singing parts. If I’ve had a busy day I need to give myself alone time before I can “people”, or interact with others, as despite my extraversion crowds can be overwhelming, especially at the end of a long day. (More on that in another post.) The actual rehearsal bits are fun regardless. I love getting into the rhythm of songs.

This year is different too, as I am no longer a student and therefore aren’t the one organising things. It’s nice to be on the other side and I have confidence in the current committees.

Today both LaTUCS and ROCS (RMIT Occasional Choral Society) are taking part in promo events on campus at Bundoora and Melbourne city respectively. I wish them luck!

If you’re interested in singing, why don’t you come over and have a go? Our choirs have no auditions and are very friendly places. Everyone can sing in my opinion – and singing is good for you, too.

Singing is such a big part of my life and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Woman taking selfie. She has tilted the camera so her t-shirt can be read. It says, “Keep Calm and Sing Laudate”

Adventures in Cooking

To kick-start some more recipe posts and clear a backlog, I thought I’d start by sharing a few new things I’ve made.

Do you remember me telling you last year that I won a cookbook through an online competition, courtesy of The Big Issue magazine? It’s called The Great Australian Cookbook and it’s full of heaps of recipes from different Australian people – “cooks, chefs, bakers and local heroes”. I’ve tried a few. I should probably try more!

Like the “Best French Toast Ever!” recipe from Michael Klausen, involving soaking bread in an egg and orange rind mixture overnight, then serving it with strawberries stewed in orange juice. I’ve made this more than once and it’s delicious!

(Caption, as WordPress isn’t cooperating with me to do alt text on these images: on white, green-rimmed plates are (a) an eggy golden piece of toast covered by stewed strawberries; and (b) two pieces of eggy toast, with sweet ham scattered over the stewed strawberries on top of the toast, and juice pooled on the plate.) 

The special spiced rice and meatballs recipe by Charmaine Solomon. I need to make these again as they were part of a “meal set” of foods. (I can’t find the pictures I took of it, either.)

The “Seychelles banana fritters” recipe from Josette and George Gonthier; battered bananas (halved and cut lengthwise), fried until golden. Yum!

Most recipes have been adapted a little. I really enjoy it.

Other inspiration has come from areas such as the Good Food Guide or other publications, browsed when I’m back in my hometown for a weekend.

I’ve cooked my own twist on marinated baked chicken thighs and potatoes;

On a white plate with green rim, there are baked potatoes cut in quarters and chicken, coated in a dark marinade, next to cauliflower, corn and capsicum.

I’ve roasted chicken and veggies:

As well as roasting fish.

Looking forward to doing that sort of thing again – when it’s cool enough to use the oven properly, that is.

I’ve made a ton of vegetarian recipes; some which are completely new and I need to write them up, while others are tweaks on ones I’ve done before.

Cooking is fun! Expect more posts about it this year.

Exploring exercise

(Life is a hectic beast – this was written last Monday but not completely finished and posted until today. )

Last year, I was in the position to be able to join a gym thanks to living on-res that gave me a discount to the uni gym. I’ve just recently joined a gym that’s local to our new place and having had my first BodyPump class in three months on Monday last got me thinking about what I’ve learnt about myself in this regard in the past twelve months.

Previously, I’d resisted doing such. I’m not a “gym junkie” or the type to “work out” a lot. I didn’t particularly like exercise or sports, to tell you the truth. Gyms and sports places were a bit intimidating to me. I had no idea of how to use equipment and no desire to spend hours of my time doing weights. (….I had some preconceived ideas of what gym would involve, let’s say.) I have thin privilege, so my diet and weight aren’t likely to be commented on or judged by random people. I am uncoordinated and lack spatial awareness though, and it takes me longer to learn motor skills (I need to do more reps, more often, to process and learn the skill). Sports were a challenge – I’m a bit better at individual sports, where I can go at my own pace (hello 2017 Clare, who tried out fencing), but it can still be a challenge.

Then I joined the gym. With the opportunity to have a fitness program created for me (they do that for everyone) and opportunities for regular reviews, I could go at my own pace and follow my own goals. I began to get a sense of what sort of exercises worked for me – and what didn’t. I developed my own routine and liked learning and tracking my exercises, seeing when I could progress to a higher weight for different ones.

After a few months of going one session a week, my uni timetable freed up slightly, so I decided to try some classes as well, free with the membership. The idea was to try a few then pick one or two and stick with them. Some I rejected almost immediately, others I liked and I found a rhythm with these as well. I like classes that are not too fast-paced, with enough oomph to make me work for the reps. Also, once I started with weights at the gym I discovered that I need my classes to have some form of a weight-bearing component or it feels wrong! Again, as with many things in my life, I found the “just right challenge” level for me and stuck with that.

Shortly after I began gym classes, uni began to grind on me. It was the middle of the project placement, and things were getting tough. I made sure to occupy my free time with gym and choir, so I had ways of getting all my pent up energy and frustrations out of my system. Here is where I discovered BodyPump and the gym benefits in earnest. When I arrived at a class, or in the gym room, I could stow my bag and either set up for class, or plug my headphones in and set up for a gym session. I’d leave my worries at the door and sweat it out to music (or a podcast, at the gym). My heart raced in time with the beat and I discovered how to move my muscles in ways I hadn’t thought possible for me before. Then, at the end of the class or gym session, I would leave – often with a smile on my face – more relaxed and more centred than when I came in. Having access to those facilities saved me from drowning under my work, I think, during that time. It released my emotions safely on days with deadlines, or when I’d had to have tricky conversations with project stakeholders. Everything looks better in the glow of endorphins after a class or session. 🙂

I didn’t realise it until later, but thinking about it, the types of exercises and class I chose were also helpful in other ways. While helping my mental wellbeing and increasing my physical strength, they also increased other physical capacities. They taught me – are still teaching me – how to know the position of my body in space and position it well to get the best out of it, for example. They also provide a regular source of what occupational therapists call “heavy work”, incorporating movement and weighted pressure (in the form of the weights) to help regulate the body. I need that in my life. Proprioception, deep pressure and vestibular input – my programs have them. Doing these exercises are good for me – and I plan on continuing. Here’s to trying new things and discovering benefits!