Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy, um, not Monday?

The reason why I need to get to the farmers markets!
Source: Single Minded Women
Hi hi! Sorry my Monday slice of love and gratitude is very late. I had every good intention of writing this post when I got home from uni and a staff meeting Monday, then got ridiculously sidetracked by my first piece of loving this week…

FoodBuzz has just started the most amazing contest. 2000 bloggers (well 1,889), whittled away over 10 rounds until finally there is one winner. Loving to read other people's adventures with food, I started browsing through the contestants, and 4 hours later it was 1am, I was loath to stop reading, and my 'followed' blog list had at least tripled in size!, It has seriously reinforced my love of blogs by young, active guys, a rarity in this area of interest, and I've found some amazing new reading material, Here are some of my favourite finds:

  • Food Makes Fun Fuel & The Kitchen of a Runner – Both of these guys have reinforced my love of young guys blogging! This is a seriously female dominated area, and it is great to read the kitchen exploits of two active, health conscious young men with awesome appetites. Not to mention they've given me some great ideas for taming the hungry animals over at Safari.
  • The Flexitarian Foodie – I had no idea what a flexitarian was until having a read of this blog. Must say, she's going to become one of my regular reads, as I love her writing style, and some of the yummy looking posts.
  • Gluten Free Betsy – Everything I saw on her blog looks seriously yummy! Mumma Dryad is gluten intolerant. Well, that, or allergic to wheat, we're not really 100% sure. Either way, we've been doing a LOT of gluten-free discovery since she figured this out. I'm going home next week, so we may have to give a few recipes a whirl, and see how we go!
  • Poor Girl Eats Well – Awesome advice for uni students, or anyone else on a seriously tight budget. This woman is amazing, and makes living off a small amount of money look very appetising!
I'm loving the way Geelong is currently gearing up for the UCI Cycling Championships, starting this next week. Lacking the "Cats in the Grand Final" buildup of the last few years, it's nice to still finish off September with a bang. The town has got a general tidyup, people have been painting the power boxes, and this time next week, the place will be crowded with 200,000 sporty/athletic types and their entourages. I'm not going to be here for the first half, which disappoints me greatly, but hopefully I should still get to see plenty of action, since my house is literally 25m from the main straight of the course. I have heard some people being quite negative about the whole thing, but having witnessed the annual tourist influx in Alice Springs, and the life it brings to the town, I'm seriously looking forward to the event!

Warning, shameless work plug! Mr Hyde is starting breakfast! I'm actually seriously excited about this, because even before I started working at Hyde, I loved the food. Seriously, pancakes topped with gooey berry goodness, and a heavenly cark hot chocolate to start the morning? Yes please! In case you didn't know, we also do $3 coffees for students all day, every day. That's cheaper than uni caf, not to mention better quality, direct-trade coffee. So who's coming with me to the breakfast launch on Saturday morning?

My favourite thing about this time of year is the insane amount of fresh produce starting to pop up all over town, and cheap. Seriously, last week I spent $13 in Fruit Shack on enough veges to last me 2 weeks! Course, they're not organic, and not all local, but it WAS all Australian produce, and with my return to studenthood, I'm trying to save money, so I'm not complaining too much.

This has been a rather food orientated Happy Monday, but then it's been a very food orientated week for me! What's getting you fired up this week?

Love, Neysa xo

Friday, September 17, 2010

Foodie Friday – Yummy Sprouts

This week, I did a massive fresh veg shop, and came across super cheap fresh brussel sprouts. I don't know about anyone else, but when I was a kid, I used to hate the things. We used to get them at Grandma's, and they came out of the freezer, went in to salted water, and were boiled until they were grey and kind of slimy. Probably zero nutritional value by the time they reached your plate. It's a shame, because brussel sprouts are high in many of our essential vitamins and minerals. Figuring that sprouts are pretty much just tiny cabbages, I decided to have a crack at cooking them the way my mum cooked cabbage for us as kids. Thankfully, huge success, and a hit at our family dinner last night! Unfortunately, in between all the talking, eating and laughing, I forgot to take photos, but I have some sprouts still in the fridge, so there will be one coming!

Tossed with penne makes a delicious dinner
Wok-tossed Brussel Sprouts

Serves 3 as a side dish

The Line Up

12 fresh brussel sprouts
2 rashers middle bacon, roughly chopped with rinds removed
1 onion, diced finely (I used 1 half Spanish, 1 half brown for some colour)
1 clove minced garlic
The Game Plan

  1. Heat a small amount of oil in a wok or frying pan, then add the garlic, stir for 10-15 seconds, then add the diced onion. Stir fry until the onion just starts to turn glassey, then add the bacon. Continue to stir regularly until cooked.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the tough bottoms off of the sprouts, and remove the out layer of leaves. Depending on the size of your sprouts half or quarter them, and then add them to the wok with your onion and bacon. Stir the greens through, and continue to toss until they become just tender. Don't worry if they break up a little bit, adds to the asthetic! When they are ready, the sprouts should still be a bright green colour, but slightly tender.
  3. Serve immediately, alongside just about anything!
The Interchange

  • I haven't really experimented with this one yet, and am interested to see how it goes without the bacon, though I feel it would need something in addition to the onion & garlic to have the same impact.
  • Sprouts are ridiculously good for you, even containing anti-cancer properties*. This is especially true when raw, stir-fried or lightly steamed. I've used them in place of baby spinach on toasted sandwiches, as an addition to my easy chicken stirfry, or even raw with some sort of dippy type thing (Cream cheese with sweet chilli sauce? Yummo!). Don't knock it 'til you've tried it!
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend,

Love, Neysa xo

*maybe, a little bit... look, I lost the reference and can't find it, mmmk?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Student’s Guide to Medical Support

Source: doodle and hoob

Almost everyone I know at the moment has a case of the sniffles or a sore throat, myself included. Aside from the usual maladies that arise with the change of season, it's getting to that point of the academic year where students are simply burning out. Long nights studying, several months on a poor diet consisting largely of Mi Goreng noodles, and more slabs of alcohol than you would willingly admit to having consumed, it all starts to add up, and your immune system gets hit hard. Sometimes, the cure is to curl up on the couch in your trackies and a blanket, chow down on some comfort food, drink hot chocolate and devour a book or some movies. But when your body crashes out on you, it's important to know how to get in contact with the right people…

Your Uni Health Service
Most universities have a student health service, usually consisting of a couple of full-time nurses, and a visiting doctor. These services are great, as you can duck in between lectures, and the staff tend to be very conscious of the problems facing uni students, not to mention university procedures if you require time off to recover. Remember to take your Medicare card, as they will usually bulk bill your visit, but be aware that you may face out of pocket expenses for things like inoculations, blood tests and procedures. The one main problem with on campus doctors is that the appointments can fill up weeks in advance, but if this is the case, you should be able to ask them if they can recommend another nearby doctor.

Bulk Billing Clinics
Outside of on-campus services, bulk billing clinics are the next best things for the sick student. They usually have a number of doctors on duty at any one time, meaning they can move through more patients in a shorter space of time than smaller private practices, and the best bit is it's free if you have your Medicare card! You don't normally have to have an appointment, but from experience, it can be a good idea to make one, in case you suddenly find yourself on the end of a 2 hour wait. Clinics are your best bet if you need to get prescriptions renewed, doctors certificates issued, or have issues you don't really want to discuss with your usual doctor. Just be aware that you may not always get the same doctor, meaning you'll have to be prepared to give someone new the low-down on your history every visit, because whilst files are usually shared at these clinics, the doc doesn't know you, and will ask questions accordingly. These places can also be quite drug happy, i.e. will prescribe something just to shut you up. If you're not sure why they're giving you something, or if it is the right treatment for you, don't be afraid to speak up and voice your concerns. Get them to explain exactly what it is, and why they're providing you with the script. If you're still not comfortable, seek a second opinion.

Your trip to the doctor won't always end with a pharmacological solution, but if it does, you'll need to get your script filled, preferably sooner rather than later. It pays to have a look around at different pharmacies, as the one next door to the doctor can also be the most expensive! If you have a Health Care Card or concession, you can get some medicines at a reduced price, which is always appreciated by the bank account. If your prescription allows for you to get a generic brand, seriously consider doing so. Generics are exactly the same drug, in the same delivery format, but sold at a lower price. Same is true for over the counter drugs, such as paracetamol or antihistamine. A company has a monopoly over the production of a drug for the life of its patent, at which time it can be picked up by other companies, increasing competition for market share, and driving prices down, meaning win for the consumer! Here endeth the economics lesson.

Ambulance Cover
Nobody thinks they're going to have an accident, but if you do, the last thing you want to be worrying about is a $2000 bill from the Ambulance service for the ride they gave you to hospital. In my first week at university, everyone in our course was advised to get ambulance cover 'just in case'. Considering the dangers involved with science, with all its chemicals, glassware, fire and explosive hazards, etc, it's probably not surprising that I took that advice on board, and I'm very glad I did. My situation wasn't an accident in the lab, a broken leg at football, or getting into a fight while in town one night (all of which I have witnessed). I had an asthma attack at 2 o'clock in the morning, in the middle of uni break while no one was around, and had no way to get to hospital. If I hadn't had Ambulance membership, that ride could have cost me a huge amount of money, and not having the ride could have cost me my life. In my opinion, $75 a year is a small price to pay for knowing if I have an accident, my family isn't going to get hit with a huge bill while I'm still recovering. Some private health care funds have ambulance cover built in to them, and some states have a free public service, so check your situation before signing up!

Don't leave it too late
If you've been off colour for a few days, consider going to the doctor. Sometimes they can give you a certificate for a few days to rest and recover, or even make sure it's not something more than it looks. Always think in advance, especially if you're fluey and have assignments coming up. If you ever have persistent pain, numbness or tingling in your limbs, develop problems with your speech or sight, have recurring headaches or experience chest pains, ALWAYS see a doctor as soon as possible. Pay attention to your body, rest, and keep up your fluids and vitamins, because prevention and early intervention are always better than living through a full-blown illness.

Finally, the disclaimerNEVER use this post against or in lieu of professional medical advice. Always use your common sense, and only follow advice you feel comfortable with. If you're not comfortable with the advice, seek a second opinion, or a third. If the problem isn't going away, persist until you get answers!

Love, Neysa xo

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Tea Chest – Golden Monkey

Yes, this is how I work!
During last summer, I drank I ridiculous amount of tea. I find this slightly amusing, as I drank more hot tea during out hottest months in Lorne than I have all winter at home since. In no small part, this was due to the Erskine River Tea House, which I visited almost every day as a way to escape from the monotony of working and living in the same building. I'd sit there for a few hours, reading a book, or working on my writing, and go through at least one pot of tea, trying a new one each time. Towards the end of summer, I started taking notes about the various teas that I was drinking, with a view to sharing them on my blog. A bit late now, considering we are now approaching summer once more, but as the old clique goes, better late than never!

The first tea I took notes on was called 'Golden Monkey'. It's a black tea from the Fujian province of China. The full leaf tip is curled tightly when dry, and resembles the hands of a monkey, which is where this particular variety gets its name. When brewed, these unfurl into beautiful, long, unbroken leaves, which themselves remind me of fingers. The tea brews to a golden honey colour, with a sweet aroma, itself reminiscent of honey and light stone fruit, maybe peach or nectarine. It's quite robust, with a slightly woody or earthy quality, is naturally a bit sweet, and pleasantly lacks astringency or bitterness. Well, usually lacks bitterness, I once let it overstep while distracted, and the result was almost unpalatable, so I recommend not going over 5 minutes. It's milder than your typical English-style black teas, very smooth to drink, and well-rounded on the palate. I've read some people's opinions on Golden Monkey teas, and didn't detect the chocolate tones that are often described, but that may be either my underdeveloped palate, or a variation between batches.

On the whole, a lovely tea that I highly recommend. Erskine River Tea House were selling it at AUD $12 for 100g way back in February.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Deep and Meaningful Thoughts

It's not easy being green, but it is beautiful.
Dryad by Timothy Lantz

I've been doing a lot of deep and meaningful thinking during the last week. I know that this is slightly shocking, given my at times apparently frivolous nature, but I thought I'd share some thoughts with you all.

How green am I really? I like to think that I do my bit for the environment. I walk most places, or catch the bus, I take my own bags to do the shopping, I try to reduce the packaging I buy, and usually packets are recyclable, which makes my weekly garbage fairly small. I reuse jars and containers and turn my scrap paper into refills for my Filofax. I only do the laundry if I have enough for a full load using a biodegradable laundry liquid, and then let everything air dry. Same goes for the washing up, and most of the grey water goes to the plants afterwards. My power and gas are on a 'green plan' through my utilities company, lights go off if I'm not in the room, the heater only goes on if I'm reaching for a 3rd pair of socks and my jacket, and I don't have a cooling system for summer. Usually I try to only have one electrical item on at the one time, i.e. either the computer or the stereo or the TV, not all of them. Where possible I buy organic foods, or at least from local producers, and I usually try to avoid supermarkets as much as possible. Still I'm left thinking 'is it enough?'

Very little of my waste comes from food scraps, but most of that is vege peelings, egg shells and the like. I grew up with a big garden, and a compost heap that took care of all those things. I'd love to start a garden where I am, which I think would help me be more green, eat more vegetables, and reduce my food bill (even if only by a little bit), but I don't really have anywhere to put it. I can't really afford the outlay at the moment for pots, or the soil to start. I've been mulling over this a bit, and hopefully will come up with a solution soon. For now, the compostables will just have to go in the green-waste bin!

In the past, I also haven't been terribly mindful of where my stuff is coming from in the social justice sense. I've always tried to buy Australian made and/or owned, because I feel it is important to support the local economy in that way. I feel like a hypocrite saying this, but I also try to avoid buying cosmetics or personal products that have been tested on animals. Until recently though, I didn't really think about the conditions things from overseas were produced under. The FairTrade movement has begun to open the eyes of people such as myself with relation to the conditions of workers, and sustainability in general when it comes to where our products are coming from. However, after reading some varied literature, I'm not 100% convinced that FairTrade itself is the answer. Like every system, it has its flaws, but only time will tell if it is really going to work. On the other hand, a lot of it is about getting the message to the people, and in that regard, I think it has already been hugely successful. I've started making a conscious effort to consider the social ethics at play when making purchases of things produced in less fortunate areas than our own, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

The final bit of deep thought is related to food. We were always raised to be very mindful of what we put in our mouths, one of the many great things about Mumma Dryad having been a chef. I know what course food *should* take during its production and its course my stomach, and the fact that it often deviates so much worries me. This is one of the key reasons I try to avoid supermarkets. I like to know that my vegetables are fresh, and haven't been artificially ripened, or sprayed with who knows what. I like my bread to be preservative and fungicide free (one of the perks of The Muso working for an amazing boutique bakery!). I like knowing exactly what is in my pasta sauce or curry. These things are all solved by buying from local green grocer, markets and wholefood stores. Of course, some things are going to have to come from the super, but then I can buy organic, unbleached flour, or raw sugar rather than a highly refined white sugar. The real thing that has me thinking this week is meat. While growing up, we lived near dairy farms, and sheep farms. When we moved to the NT, we lived on a cattle station. I am no stranger to our animal-sourced food production. I strongly disagree with battery farming, so will only buy free-range eggs. I don't buy meat from the supermarket because I don't agree with the amount of waste that their large-scale operations encourage, which in turn encourages wasteful slaughter. I do, however, support small scale, sustainable, local production through buying meat at my local butcher. However, in light of the global food crisis, is eating meat really ethical? The amount resources it takes to raise and feed one steer is phenomenal. Grain, water, land, not to mention the environmental concerns that go with stock production, such as overgrazing and pollution. Consider the amount of crops that could be produced with those same resources. Consider if the grain used to feed stock was available for human consumption.

I say consider, because there should be balance to every argument. Not all areas where meat animals are grazed are appropriate for production of plant foods for human consumption. Not all crops are appropriate for human consumption either. Kilo-for-kilo, nutrient value of meat vs. crops is not the same, and therefore should not be used for direct comparison of efficiency of the production of each. Many of the arguments I have seen across the internet have been just that, arguments. People that are angry, passionate, writing content that is perhaps not particularly well thought out. The academic in me cringes when reading some of the online debate surrounding meat production and consumption, in particular a lot of the 'evidence'. The list of articles I want to write is growing every time I log onto the internet recently, and an in-depth look into the facts and figures in this area is one of them! I strongly support people's right to choose, and then live by that choice, but I also believe that there should be some form of unbiased, unskewed literature out there to aide that decision, and if it's there, I have yet to find it.


Sorry about how long this was today, here's a few things to help pass some time and bring some joy to your Monday.

  • Loving Bonzai Aphrodite at the moment, Sayward is of the reasons I've been thinking so much about all of the above. Really grounded, family orientated, and thought provoking.
  • Not great for my 'no shopping 'til Midsummer' vow, but I'm madly in love with almost everything on Tragic Beautiful at the moment. I've owned a pair of their fluffies for years now, and they are awesome.
  • Good news for coffee drinkers – Coffee may protect against DNA damage! If you want to know more (and you have access to online journals through your university/institution), read the original article here. Then, use this website to figure out how many of those protective coffees you could have before the caffeine killed you. "This is supposed to be Happy Monday!" I hear you say. The 'happy' comes when you realise you couldn't physically consume that much coffee anyway!
What do you think of the new blog layout? I did some tweaking late last week, just trying to find something more me. Also, the ginger biscuits and simple asian chicken posts now have photos!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Foodie Friday – Lemon Cupcakes

After sharing my homemade limoncello recipe last week, I thought I'd share its most common use in my house, other than the drinking of course. Recently I've been baking one batch of cupcakes a week, and these have proven to be quite popular. Cupcakes are making a huge comeback, with many dedicated bakeries turning up in practically place I've been in the last 2 years. However, the humble cupcake has come a long way from the crazy kiddy creations seen at many a childhood party, finding themselves thrust into the spotlight as alternatives to a traditional wedding cake, or as a delicious accompaniment to your morning tea break in between city errands. My cupcake batter is always quite thick, rather than the runny stuff we used to make with mum as kids, but they still turn out to be moist, slightly fluffy, but very dense in flavour. The limoncello gives these a great boost, with the end result being a fresh, zingy, sweet treat.

Lemon Cupcakes

Number depends on your tray size, I usually get 12 large.

The Line Up

1 ½ cups plain flour
¾ cup sugar
½ cup butter (softened)
2 eggs (separated)
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsps baking powder
Pinch salt
½ cup lemon juice
Lemon rind, grated
For Icing
¾ cup Icing sugar
½ cup Butter
½ cup Cream cheese
Lemon rind, grated
Dash of Limoncello


The Game Plan
  1. Preheat oven to 180oC/350oF. Line a cupcake tray with paper liners.
  2. Place butter, egg yolks and sugar into a large bowl, and mix well until creamy. Add vanilla essence and combine well.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, then add baking powder and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the egg yolk mixture, adding a little lemon juice each time until all ingredients are combined. Add a goog glug of limoncello with the last of the flour.
  4. Beat the egg whites and fold into the mixture, then spoon the batter into the cupcake liners until they are about 2/3 full. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. When ready, they should still be soft on top, but spring back after being touched. Remove from the oven and cool for 5-10 minutes, then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. While the cupcakes are baking and filling your kitchen with that heavenly lemony scent, place all the icing ingredients into a bowl and mix until well combined and lump free. It should stiffen slightly while you're waiting for the cupcakes to cool, but if it is too runny, add some more sugar. If it's too stiff, add a little limoncello or lemon juice. Once your cupcakes have cooled completely, transfer your icing to a piping bag, and make fancy swirly mountains of lemon cream cheese icing goodness atop your delicate morsels.
The Interchange
  • I usually don't add more decoration (I have enough trouble saving them from being devoured before the icing goes on!), but try topping with some extra grated rind, or strips of candied lemon peel. I stumbled across Brown Eyed Baker's insanely beautiful limoncello cupcake creation, where not only were they beautifully presented with a slice of lemon and a raspberry, but they had lemon curd filling! Can see some experimentation coming on!
  • Try adding some poppy seeds to the batter before adding the egg white for some visual interest.
  • The alcohol in the batter will cook off during baking, but consider omitting the limoncello from the icing if cooking with munchkins in mind.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Monday – 6/09/10

Never has a week so desperately required one of my Happy Monday reflections! In the last week I've received bad news, broken some of my favourite items (twice things falling off benches while I'm on the opposite side of the room!), dropped a friend's external hard drive, broke a Boston glass at work, had my phone go missing, and was yelled at by a bus driver for helping a guy with change for his fare. After a week like that, I really had to embrace the good things, to remind myself that I'm still incredibly lucky.

Image from

I discovered 3things Australia this week through @kateausburn, who is a regular contributor and editor. It's a great initiative, with articles covering a huge array of subjects but always relating back to the same thing – social justice. The pieces are short, but thought provoking, and I've found that I'll keep thinking about the topic long after I've gone back to studying. My three picks? Teabags that can filter water (!), Freetrade Tea, and 'iPhone not in green zone?'

The University Blog has an interesting post this week, What's so potty about a Harry Potter Course, which asks the question why people, in particular the media, go up in arms when new modules/units/subjects at universities are released that deal with contemporary or popular culture. Personally, I think it's great that a university is looking at the impact on education that such an influential series of books has had.

Traci Harding – I've enjoyed Traci's writing since reading the Gene of Isis several years ago. This week I finally finished reading The Ancient Future Trilogy. Loved every moment of it. Even got a little bit teary in sections. Her writing seems a little odd as far as Fantasy novels go, in that it starts very based in mythic/medieval fantasy, and then progresses very much into the Sci-Fi world, but I enjoy her writing immensely. Epic struggles for power, time travel, martial arts, discussions on the impact of manifestations of positive or negative intent. Food for thought, with interesting characters to guide you on your way.

Planning Travel – Okay, so it's not quite Brazil, but The Muso, Matho, Mentor, Lady Young and I are off to Tasmania over the new year for Falls Festival! I've never been to a music festival before, so I'm incredibly excited already, even more so considering that we're turning it into an almost 2-week road-trip. My new Filofax is proving itself to be hugely helpful in the planning of what promises to be a gargantuan trip, as has Microsoft OneNote 2010 (More on this winning combo another time). I must have been a Virgo in another life, because whilst the laid back, artsy mood of the festival appeals hugely to the Pisces in me, I am already organising transport, making lists, plotting adventures... Now I just have to save like crazy to afford the trip! Add to this the fact I'm going home to see the family later this month, I've been bitten by the travel bug!

I'm actually really excited for a few other people at the moment too. Mumma Dryad has been putting a lot of effort lately into finding herself, and things seem to be coming up rosy. Really looking forward to travelling home to see her in a few weeks to share in her continuing journey. My grandparents are also out and about in the world, having jumped ship for some remarkably warm and sunny weather over in the UK, bit exciting for them I must say, and enjoying the postcards. One of the lovely girls in my lab just got engaged too, which has become essentially the sole topic on conversation at uni for the last week.

I realised today that I've gone about 3 weeks without getting so much as tipsy. That's not to say I haven't been drinking, I've had a drink or two after most of my shifts, but I'm not drinking nearly as much as I have in the past, either days per week or drinks per session. Ladies Night @ Crown a few weeks back would have been the closest I've been, but I actually drank a lot less than what I would have on a normal night out at a club. The body is loving it, the wallet is definitely appreciating the effort, and I feel pretty damned good about it! I also keep having the urge to go running, which is weird, cause I actually really dislike running, but given the decline in drinking, I may give it a shot and see if this is my body's way of telling me to shape up. Mind you, if it starts telling me to diet, it can go jump.

Monday Lovin' heading your way,

Neysa xo

Friday, September 3, 2010

Foodie Friday - Limoncello

Ok, it's not quite food, but limoncello has been featuring heavily in some of my recent culinary experiments, so I thought I'd post it here
Several months ago, I had the overwhelming desire to drink limoncello. This was largely assisted by Paul @ Opium Cocktail Bar, with his cocktail of the month at the time, a yummy, lemony concoction whose name escapes me at present. At the time, I was also readying a book about various types of liqueurs, and thought I'd try my hand at this deliciously refreshing drink. It's really quite a versatile ingredient. This recipe is a little thicker than the stuff you would buy, but I find it is perfect for using in cooking, such as the lemon cupcake recipe I'll put up next week, or to pour over some creamy vanilla ice cream, or to have on the rocks while lounging around on the floor playing with your new Filofax. Oh, maybe that last one's just me…


Makes 500ml

The Line Up
4 whole lemons, chopped, + coarse grated rind of two extra
330g (1 1/3 cups) castor sugar
150ml (Approx ½ cup + 1 tablespoon) 95% Rectified Spirit (available at your local bottle shop, usually with the vodka)
Water to 500ml

The Game Plan
Place the lemons and sugar into a large pot, and bruise over low heat until quite syrupy. Do not allow to boil, but continually stir for 10-20 minutes. Remove from the heat, add alcohol, stirring constantly, then add water to make 500ml. This is where I usually make a mess in my kitchen, because I tend to tip the mixture into a measuring jug through a strainer before adding the water, to make sure the end mixture will be the traditional 30% alcohol/volume. Completely up to you though! If you do this, add the fruit back to the mixture, and allow to infuse for 48 hours. I usually place the covered mixture in the fridge at this point due to lack of space in my kitchen, and then taste it after 24 and 48 hours. If it's not infused to my liking, I either leave it to infuse for longer, or tweak it with the addition of a bit more sugar syrup or lemon juice. When infused to your liking, strain through a clean fine sieve, and funnel into empty, pre-sterilised bottles. Label these with the date and contents, then store in the fridge, where it will keep for about 2 months, if it lasts that long! Serve well chilled, and mix before pouring.

The Interchange
Substitute the lemons for other citrus fruit, mangos (with the skins removed), pitted stone fruit, cored apples or pears for a different flavour. Fruit that is well ripened, or even over-ripe, works best.
It's easy to change the alcohol content with this recipe. Omit it completely for a delicious syrup that's safe for the kids. I normally wouldn't increase the content, 30% EtOH/Vol is fairly standard for a liqueur. The one time I did try to boost it to 40% (similar alcohol content to your average vodka), I was hit with a cloud of ethanol fumes every time I opened the bottle or took a sip, and ended up diluting it back to make it tolerable.


Note: This is not the traditional way of making limoncello, and lacks some of the depth and complexity that comes with the longer infusion of the 'proper' method. It's all about personal taste, and I have found that I prefer to use the whole lemons, rather than just the rind, as they give a bit more balance to the serious amount of sugar used. If you do use just the rind, and use a cold-infusion (i.e. you don't heat the fruit), make sure you don't include any of the white pith, as this will make your limoncello bitter.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hectic Much?

Source: unknown

So much has happened since March when I last posted, and yet I feel little has really changed. I can't blame my schedule for not posting, despite the fact that I was, until two weeks ago, working full-time 5 days a week, then spending my two days off at uni, and trying to fit some form of social life and sleep around both. Truth be told, when it came to free time, I couldn't focus on writing, and just wanted to sleep or act like a zombie. So what have I been up to?

My time at Mantra came to a close at the end of March, something that I was both relieved and saddened by. I loved the place, and the people, but the ridiculously late nights, hardly seeing The Muso, and generally trying to live that way was killing me. At the time, I was quite annoyed at not managing to save more money while I was what I thought was amazing money, but looking back, I realise that a lot of it was the unavoidable consequence of having no kitchen. I was very lucky that I managed to pick up another job in Geelong that I could walk straight into at the start of April, at Le Parisien, a French restaurant on the waterfront in Geelong. An interesting job that presented its own unique challenges, some days it was hugely rewarding, others I went home, threw myself into bed, and didn't want to move. Crazy weekend dinner shifts would be topped off by visits to either Mr Hyde or Opium Bar, with copious amounts of alcohol and bad fast-food. This time, I'm seriously annoyed I didn't save more money, and I know full well I could have if I'd actually tried to. Anyway, Great place, great food, great people, but in mid-August my time there came to a close. Why?

I was finally granted a scholarship for my PhD studies. This is, of course, awesome, though I did have a mini meltdown at the time ("Why do I have to make a decision on the next 5 years of my life right NOW?"), but after some careful thought, and a good rant to the Mumma-lady, I resolved that a career in hospitality would always be there, but this research opportunity wouldn't. As a result, I've recently had my photo in the local paper, and our research has had a write up or two on the web. In fact, I just discovered THIS! Actually, the more I look, the more I find, so just Google "cancer cachexia". Apparently our research page topped the cancer hit rating for a whole 2 hours on Thursday morning when the media release was, well, released. The story even got picked up on twitter by people I don't even know! I don't know about anyone else, but I'm impressed. It probably comes across when you read the article, but I really think our research could make a difference in the lives of cancer patients, and I'm glad I can finally start working on it full time again, and give it the attention it deserves. Whilst I didn't particularly want my photo in the paper, I DO want to get the message out there, and raise awareness of what is a serious, but generally unpublicised condition.

With the move back to full-time study, and the fact that whilst wonderful, the scholarship will hardly cover rent and bills let alone food and transport, I've started a weekend job at one of my favourite hang-outs, Mr Hyde. They've welcomed me with open arms, and helped make the transition from regular customer to occasional employee an easy one. I love that I'm working somewhere that I love to be, the atmosphere, the people, the ridiculously yummy drinks, and the delicious food. Funnily enough, working in the environment I would usually play in has cut my alcohol consumption dramatically, of which my liver is no doubt thankful. Let's see how long it lasts!

So yes, my life since March has essentially consisted of work and university, with the occasional party thrown in to ease the stress. I'm sure other things that happened will crop up here and there (like my unnatural obsession with making cupcakes). I will now endeavour to return to the scheduled format that I had all nicely planned out at the beginning of this year!


Love Neysa xo

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Monday – 15/03/10

So I had a shocker last week, and as bad moods usually become obvious in my writing, I didn't want to inflict that upon you. However, as always there were a few things that helped brighten my dark and dreary mood!

Finding Style – I know I'm not usually one to blog about fashion, but Wednesday and Thursday I actually stumbled on a style I love. My usual style, or lack-thereof, is jeans and whatever shirt happens to be on top of the pile, with the occasional hippy-esque moment thrown in. Wednesday it was pretty cold, and I was not at all in the mood for jeans, so I fished out my blue knit dress, pulled on some black tights, my newly super-glued black boots, and my vintage brown leather jacket with a black scarf. Never had so many positive comments on a simple, everyday outfit in my life! In need of a bit of a pick-me-up, I splashed out on some new patterned stockings too, which added some serious oomph to the leg department instead of the tights. Then, having loved the confident, sexy me of the day before, Thursday had me raiding my wardrobe for something equally awesome for my job interview. Enter the outfit to the right! Pretty sure I spent half the time The Muso was trying to get a good photo cracking up. The cream tights and butterfly belt were late modifications, found while walking home. Apparently Mum is proud, having despaired until recent years that I would never be out of jeans, boots & chambray! LOVE having access to the whole of my wardrobe again (at least on my days off)!

Parcels from Far Far Away – I bought a couple of things from the lovely A @ The Glamourous Wardrobe, and they got here Friday morning! A cute ladybird watch pendant, which has barely left my neck since it arrived, a very green beret that will be perfect for winter, and a great book about sewing simple skirts. Looking forward to finding some fabulous fabric, and having a crack, given my desire to stick with this new look. I love this idea of blog-shopping, especially the way A. has set it up, with a portion of profits going to a charitable organisation. Please support her, and others like her in their endeavour to clear the wardrobes, and support good causes!

Op-Shopping – I love having a poke around in op-shops, you find so much in the way of awesome. I spent 20 minutes and $16 in the Lorne Community Hospital Op Shop on Saturday, walking out with a couple of nice tops, and a bright lime green summer dress. I was actually looking for some fitted skirts, but didn't find any. There's also a load of awesome Op Shops in Geelong, which I plan on hitting up next week in an attempt to fill out my wardrobe with some nice vintage pieces, random skirt goodness, and hopefully some colour!

Catching Up – With so much time spent in Lorne, I haven't got to see a lot of my friends much over summer. It was great this week to get to catch up with so many people, whether running into them by chance while out, or actually sitting down over lunch/tea/furniture moving. Hopefully now that uni is back, and with only two more weeks in Lorne, the social side of life might pick up again!

True Blue – I was looking around my room this morning, and suddenly realised that the purple that once dominated the colour palate of my life has been forced out by blue. Yes, there is blue EVERYWHERE! My diary, notebook, wallet, drink bottle, sheets, clothes, pen, towels, placemats, clock, new tea set, toothbrush. What I love even more is that this feels like it snuck up on me! Still love purple, but obviously my mind was telling me it was time for a change.

Notebooks – Something else I noticed this morning is that I have a massive stack of notebooks which I have bought with some specific purpose in mind, that I have never actually used, or have filled only a few pages in. Thinking if I put them all in a stack on my desk, rather than being spread around everywhere, I might actually start using them.

New Phone – I love my new Nokia N97! I changed service providers a few days ago, having had enough of Telstra. 3 seems to be pretty sweet so far, but my old phone wasn't compatible with their network. This may have been a blessing in disguise, because as much as I was surviving with my old phone, it wasn't particularly good at anything except sending text messages. This one not only is insanely easy to use, it actually works as a phone, as it doesn't cut off the first 10 seconds of every call you make! Yeah, I'm easily impressed. Still, awesome phone, awesome plan, and hopefully awesome ability to actually contact people!

Gala on Self-Love – I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but Gala Darling has been doing an amazing series on Radical Self Love. I have huge respect for Gala, and wish she'd written this series when I was going through my rough times in '06-'08. It's all about learning to love yourself for who you are, not who everyone thinks you should be. So if you've been thinking that you're due a mental shake-up, check her out for a breath of fresh air!

Enough of my ramblings for today lovelies, I'm off to soak up the last rays of summer-like sun, with plenty of SPF30 of course!


Signing off to enjoy the sun before another night on the wrong side of the bar!

Neysa xoxo

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Students Guide to Lectures

Picture from

And so O'Week comes to a close. I don't know about how anyone else's week was, but I put all my partying into one night of pure insanity on the DUSA pubcrawl with The Muso, Mentor, and LadyYoung, and a busload of young students, followed by the mayhem of Eureka, an hour long queue wait to get back into Eureka after catching up with a friend somewhere else, and a whole lot of crazy dancing. Aside from running to heaps of people I haven't seen in ages (some months, some years), it was a great way to celebrate my birthday, even if there were way too many 18yr olds making me feel like an old lady at 23. Even got to trial-run the wobbly-boot walk home, as I now live within walking distance of the CBD, and there was no being hit by cars or trains (this may have had more to do with The Muso than my own ability by that time…). Alas alack, O'Week is now over (unless you count Sunday night at Lamby's, which I know a lot of people do), and come Monday, it's time to hit the books once again. To give you a bit of a head start, or just a reminder, I've complied a few tips for handling those all important lectures.

Mobile Phones – Turn your phone off before or as the lecture starts. If you can't bear the thought of turning your phone off, at least put it on silent/vibrate. While you may have some sweet new ringtone, you can be pretty sure that no one is going to appreciate learning about it in the middle of a lecture. If you're expecting an important call (your grandpa is having heart surgery, your sister is about to go into labour), sit near the door so you can beat a hasty retreat to answer, otherwise let it go to message bank and call them back. Answering a phone during class will result in your being destroyed by the lecturer. Really. Text messaging during lectures is generally frowned upon, but often overlooked, as it's not disturbing anyone else, just try to be subtle about it, and don't do it during lab or tutorial classes.

Lecture Kit – Having the right stuff to take lecture notes can make life so much easier. Make sure you have plenty of lined paper. I use a spiral bound notebook, which has perforated and hole punched pages. This means that you don't have to worry about carrying around more than one book if you have multiple lectures/tutorials in a row, or losing loose leaves of paper, and can pull pages out and add them to a subject folders easily. I also carry at least three different coloured pens, usually black, blue and red, plus something super bright, like green or purple. Makes it easy to highlight important notes, keeps headings separate, and generally makes your page look interesting. It also helps if one runs out mid-lecture as you have a backup. I seriously dislike using whiteout, preferring to cross things out rather than wasting time applying it and waiting for the stuff to dry, but that's a personal preference. If you're in a subject that might require sketching diagrams or pictures, it's helpful to have a pencil or two, or a mechanical pencil to save sharpening every 5 minutes.

Pre-Reading & Printed Notes – Before heading to class, try to at least glance at any recommended pre-reading. If it's been set, the lecturer will deliver the lecture assuming that you have read it, and things may not make any sense if you don't. You might just give it a once over, or you might take down a heap of detailed notes and jot down your opinions and ideas on it, but at least be familiar with what the topic of the lecture is. A lot of lecturers make good use of technology and will provide an electronic PDF copy of the lecture presentation on your student portal (DSO for Deakin Students). DO print these, and bring them along, as the will have most of the key information, and it is easier to see what your own notes are relating to later down the track. DO NOT fall into the trap of thinking that because you have the lecture slides you can get away with not going to class. Lecturers often change slides last minute, or will give you additional information not on the slides. Like answers for exams.

Taking Notes – Don't try to write everything down. Your hand WILL fall off by the end of the first week. At first you will want to write down a lot, from what is on the lecture slides to every word that pours from the lecturer's mouth. The problem is, a lot of the time it's not actually relevant, and you end up with four or five pages of messy notes and a major hand cramp. Instead, try to listen to what is being said while following the presentation, and write down the main points. Use your coloured pens. Keep an eye out for things in the presentation that are formatted differently, as they will more than likely be important. I had one lecturer who would border an important slide with red, and nine times out of 10, that slide would be integral in answering an exam question. As a general rule, it is a good idea to copy dates, diagrams and equations, and to do so carefully. It will take a while for you to figure out what is important to write down, and what you can gloss over, but practice makes perfect.

Label Everything - Make sure you top every page with the date, the subject and the lecture title. If you have guest lecturers, make sure you write down their name too. There is nothing worse than going through pile of paper a week before exams, and having no idea what subject a particular page belonged to. I know we all mean to keep everything neat and tidy in first week, but by study week, things can be an absolute shambles, and making sure you can quickly find the right notes by a quick heading scan will make your life a lot easier in the long run.

For the Techies – Laptops are becoming a lot more popular in lectures, be it purely for note taking, or as part of an interactive online learning environment. However, lecture theatres are notoriously difficult to find power points in, so make sure that you either have a battery that will last the distance, or find a socket early on and stick to it. Make sure to put it on mute (Messenger chimes during a lecture fall into the same category as answering a mobile phone), have pen and paper handy just in case (you may be a wizard in paint, but it will take you half as long to draw and label a diagram by hand), and try not to whoop too loudly when you finally finish that game of Hearts with 4 suits.

Lecture vs. Tutorial – Lectures and tutes are not the same thing. One you are being spoken to by an expert, the other is a conversation between peers. Some lecturers will be fine with questions being asked during the class, especially if it is just clarification, and other students may even thank you for being the brave one to voice what everyone was confused about, but try to keep it short. Wasting 5 minutes on something trivial wastes everyone's time. Try to save most questions, opinions and personal experiences until after the lecture, when you can approach the lecturer one-on-one, or for tutorials, where discussions of the lecture content or anything even vaguely related to lecture content are actively encouraged. 

A @ The Glamourous Grad Student has written some great advice pieces in the past for those just starting out at uni, my favourites being Etiquette tips for the charming college gal, More etiquette tips for the charming college gal, and
Grad Student Musings: Advice for the undergrads
. She has fairly hit the nail on the head in my opinion, and is a great read to boot!


Have you got any advice for cute little JAFFYS for their first week of university lectures? How about funny O'Week stories? Perhaps we have all had too good a time, and have holey memories!

Oh, and my brother is now officially a uni student. Finally!


Signing off for an early night,

Neysa xoxo

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Tea Chest - My History with Tea

"Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world" – T'ien Yiheng

I never liked tea as a kid. Perhaps it was because we were running around making so much of a din that we didn't want or need to forget it. Whenever someone tried to introduce me, it was this super milky, bitter concoction, forever turned down in favour of Quick or Milo. My paternal grandfather always intrigued me with his little ceremonies for making a pot of tea - a level teaspoon of leaves for each cup and one for the warmed pot, heat the whistling kettle until it's just starting to whisper, leave it to steep for exactly 3 minutes, no more, no less, then turn the pot three times clockwise, and pour though a tea strainer into the waiting warmed cup. Maybe if Pop has not died while I was still so young, my discovery of tea would not have been so long coming. As it was, the only other regular tea drinker in my family was my maternal grandfather, whose tea drinking habits were most likely what drove me away at an early age – rapidly boiling water poured over a stale teabag in a cold, thick -lipped mug, sit for however long, jiggle a few times to spread the colour, then add sugar and milk.

My tea story really started on my 19th birthday. I had gone to visit a friend, who gave me a beautiful bright red teacup and saucer, a mesh infuser, and a packet of black tea flavoured with berries from T2 in Melbourne. I remember the moment well – the sweet, fragrant scent of the dry leaves, the burst of juicy deliciousness rising on the steam of the boiling water when poured over, and that first, hesitant sip from the still steaming fine china, the smooth, slightly woody taste over the tongue. It was a revelation, and one that would lead me to discover my tea obsessed self. That first introduction quickly led to acquiring T2's Chilli Kiss, and the two assisted me on many a late night during my first year of uni. Unfortunately, I was still a novice to tea drinking, and aside from developing a habit of brewing horrendously dark, strong tea that you could barely see the bottom of the cup with, I probably burnt many a tea leaf from using rolling boil water. We live and we learn, eh? I have since learnt to appreciate a delicate brew, lightly steeped to allow the various flavours to evolve without being overpowered by the main player – the tea. Whilst occasionally adding honey or fruit to tea, I cannot abide milk, or the strange, over-sweet quality given by sugar.

Fully embracing my new found passion, the next time I was home in Alice Springs, my Mum and I popped in to The Tea Shrine, which was our local tea shop. After spending a good half hour sniffing various blends, I'm sure we spent a huge amount on starting our small collection. I was quick to discover that just because something smelt delicious dry did not mean it would be 'my cup of tea' once wet in the cup. This is particularly true of many of the fruit tisanes that dominated the early days, many better suited to punch bases than cup-sipping. A trip to visit family in Canberra yielded a trip to The Tea Centre, and another, much more successful, expansion of our stores, from the 'Earl Grey Special' with beautiful blue cornflowers, to the all-time favourite 'Carlton Ritz', with its citrus zing and warm caramel tones. Good thing that as a teacher, Mum drank a ridiculous amount of coffee, because the Moccona jars quickly became the perfect size storage for each new bag bought home. Whilst the acquisition of tea has slowed greatly while we strive to get through what we have before it goes stale, our combined collection currently stands at 30, with black teas, fruity tisanes, and rooibos all gracing our collection. I am looking to soon rectify the sad lack of green teas, with some prime candidates in mind.

Along the way, I've become familiar with all sorts of tea paraphernalia, become hugely interested in the traditions of brewing and drinking different teas, and have had people complain extensively about the weird brown staining on the inside of the majority of my mugs (please don't judge, I'm a uni student, and fine bone china can be quite expensive!). Whilst I apparently make an alright coffee (required skills for my job), and don't mind making them for others, I avoid the stuff like the plague. I just don't understand how people can abide the burnt, bitter taste, but then, perhaps one day I will learn to appreciate it as I have tea. In the meantime, coffee drinkers in my house will have to make do with the rather stale jar of Nescafe while I'm tenderly preparing my loving cup.

Now that you know a bit of my tea background, you will note that I have no qualifications for blogging about tea except for my avid interest and love for this amazingly yummy, insanely diverse drink. Forgive me if I stumble around in the dark for the first few weeks trying to get a handle on the correct lingo (I'm working with my knowledge of food and wine, and an rather untrained palate over here!). Who knows, if I somehow get the hang of it, and get some more followers, we could be doing giveaways and guest blogs by Yule!

Signing off for another night on the wrong side of the bar,

Neysa xoxo

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happy Monday – 01/03/10

Happy Monday (aside from having been written a day early because I plan on sleeping til at least noon) is taking on a slightly different format, as I don't want to start repeating myself near constantly with the same things being great every week! So, Mondays are becoming a cross between my favourite net-finds and blog posts of the week, a few things that are making me smile, and maybe a life update if I think it's blog-worthy!

Some more housekeeping - 'Tight-ass Tuesday' is being scrapped, and has been swallowed by 'The Student Guide', since being a student tends to go hand-in-hand with belt-tightening. My Friend Is Made of Fail is also getting shelved until my friends and I start doing things again that involve the phrase "Epic Fail". I am going to try to post at least 3 times a week, for the Guide, Foodie Friday, and a new segment, that I will get to in a second. Email link is now also fixed, so you can contact me with ease. Now on with the show!

Tea for… - I spend a lot of time at the Erskine River Tea House in Lorne when I have time off during the day. A lot being 2.5 hours yesterday, 2 hours today, and probably another visit tomorrow. Probably not surprising, seeing as everyone who knows me knows I love tea, and the vibe down there is great. I've also been brainstorming a bit for Dryad's Diatribe, and trying to figure out what direction I want the blog to take, how I can improve, and all that jazz. Then, after a few words with the lovely ladies down there, I suddenly realised that maybe I've been barking up the wrong tree. All this time, I've been trying to figure out what to blog about, aside from The Student Guide, and it was always sitting right next to me as I wrote – Tea! It's a passion, it's something I know a fair bit about, and it's a never ending subject, perfect for a blog. I know there are a lot of tea blogs out there, but hopefully I can add something new and interesting to the mix. Now to think up an original name!

The other day I went looking for a bright red lippy, and stumbled onto Chi Chi "Ain't No Other Red" lip lacquer and I'm So Hot Right Now nail polish. They are the same shade, both a gorgeous fire-truck red, and the lippy was actually the only bright red I could find, with most other brands having various shades of pink or burgundy. I use Chi Chi's eyeshadow range, and figured I'd give these two products a shot too. The lip lacquer has a wand applicator, is bright and glossy, and has decent wear, though it does come off on everything, so needs to be reapplied if you're kissing people (The Muso did not appreciate lipstick smudges on his cheek) or not drinking out of a straw. Very much in love, as it was exactly the colour I was searching for, and adds some oomph to my look. Target was running a promo that if you bought the lippy you got the nail polish for free, so picked it up at the same time. So far so good, but it will get the ultimate test tonight behind the bar!

Mermaid in a Manhole blogged on Saturday about Bento Boxes, and I'm inspired! I really want to give this a go, especially when I go back to uni. Bit hard at the moment living so many days a week without a kitchen, but something to think about when I'm back in the house full-time! My mum used to pack us some really good lunch boxes when we were kids, and I still try to make my own lunch as often as possible, as opposed to eating out (kind of difficult some days though!), and having a cute, interesting packed lunch to look forward to will hopefully encourage me to stop eating junk!

Not Always Right is a collection of all those wonderfully stupid things customers say. I hear a lot of stupid things at work, especially after patrons have had a few drinks, but this site was a great pick-me-up after a rough night shift. Thanking the gods I don't work in a call centre.

I got my highest ranking in a game of poker on Thursday, finishing 4/33 at The Ponds. I've been playing a fair bit recently thanks to The Muso, Mentor and Matho, and after finally reaching the final table, don't feel like I'm letting the team down quite so much. Ok, so it's not the finest example of a poker game, but I was not-so-quietly stoked. Sadly, my good form/luck did not continue at a second game at The Barwon Club on Thursday night, but it was all good fun, and I'm learning from my frequent mistakes.

Got to catch up with some good friends in the last week or so, first at a friend's Masquerade Ball 21st, and then on Wednesday talking all night with YoungLady and playing with her cute pup, followed by a delicious pancake & bacon breakfast by Matho the next morning, followed by an afternoon of poker with the boys, a night of poker with Mentor (who beat Toolio!), and a brief stint at the Elbow (alas, no singing on my part). Days off manage to get jam packed full of social goodness! Let's hope this trend continues for the two days I have off this week for my birthday!


I really need to learn to stop writing blogs right before I need to go to work!

Signing off for another night on the wrong side of the bar,

Neysa xoxo

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Student Guide to Hitting the Town

"Clash of the Titans" @ Home House 2009

I've been quietly pondering where in Geelong to go out for my birthday next week, and realised that there are a bunch of O'Week students about to hit town, many of them new to the area, who probably have no idea where to head out once the organised activities are over. I know my brother is certainly one of them! Many a Thursday has been spent debating the location of that night's partying. Here's a quick rundown of some of the regular haunts in Geelong…


Every uni student in Geelong knows about The Ponds, which until the end of last year was just a short stroll down the path from the Deakin Waurn Ponds campus. It's still a short walk down hill, but it's no longer down the handy path from res, which will make it a slightly longer stagger back to caf after Wednesday night Happy Hour. Happys down the Ponds is something of a tradition, in particular with resies, from 5-7pm on a Wednesday night. Yes, it is usually dodgy as, with plastic cups and manky beer or goon sunrises, but it is cheap, and a great way to catch up with your friends, and de-stress on Hump Day. The few pool tables get taken pretty early, and you can rarely hear the music, but good times to be had before the last minute rush back up the hill for dinner. The Ponds is also home to the 'Dodgy Disco' late Wednesday nights, as nasty as it sounds, but popular after unit functions, or for those people who started after walking out of their last lecture of the day, and have yet to stop. However, in the last year it became rather sporadic in occurance, so check with the bar staff during Happys to avoid disappointment when you've walked down the hill at 10pm.


Across the road from the Deakin Waterfront campus, The Max appears to have fallen from uni student favour in the last year or so for anything other than killing time or holding functions, though I have no idea why. Great live music a few nights a week, decent food, and proximity to the uni would make it a prime candidate in my opinion. Still, popular or not, the drinks are good, the staff are great, and many a Mix-and-Match function has been conducted between its multiple levels. Good place to start if you are driving into town, as the uni carpark is right next to it, and everywhere else is a short walk up the road.


The Carlton Hotel on Malop Street has become one of the more popular pre-drinks spots for a Thursday night, due to discounted drinks, finger food, and live music for Thursday Uni Nights. It has a cool, laid back atmosphere, with booths, arm chairs by the fire, and sweet as staff. A lot of pub crawls (aka. Mystery bus tours) go through this pub, so expect to get to know it during the first few weeks of uni. Apparently the food is pretty good too, but I've never had anything other than the finger food, so don't take my word for it! The Carlton usually closes around midnight on a Thursday, making it a great spot to meet, have a few drinks, enjoy the music, and decide where to head next.


Right next door to the Carlton is Mr Hyde, a super styling cocktail bar. Yes, cocktails are slightly pricey for a uni student ($15 may be cheap for a good cocktail in Geelong, but it's still more than most students are willing to spend). However, if you're celebrating something, like a birthday or graduation, it's a top spot. The cocktails are simply amazing, and even if it's not on their extensive menu, the chances are the bar staff will know how to make it. Add to this an awesome high ceiling, interesting lighting, a few little private rooms, large comfy couches, and it's heaven to me! Another cocktail bar has recently opened on James St, called Opium Cocktail Bar, and it has been getting rave reviews, but have yet to try it out. Stay tuned for updates!


Beav's Bar is on the intersection of James St and Little Malop St, and is probably my favourite place to just chill out and have drinks with a few friends. It looks like it was once a church that has been converted into a bar. The mix-matched, pre-loved sofas and couches are regularly rearranged by the clientele, there is a painting on the wall that looks like Elvis was Gary Ablett's wingman, and the bar is watched over by a collection of Barbie and Ken dolls (and possibly an Action Man?) in various lewd positions. The lighting is seductive, the Open Mic nights and live music are bliss, the prices are pretty good (including being pretty much the only place with NO COVER CHARGE!), and they make a damn good cosmo when you're not spilling it all over yourself (yes, my birthday last year got a bit messy at Beav's!). I think I just talked myself into another birthday trip! Still on Little Malop, and over Moorabool St, there is a little alleyway that hides the gem that is Tannin Lounge. Nerdy bliss, it is also an internet/gaming café during the day. Another lounge bar, it's trendy, again has huge comfy couches (I'm seeing a trend in my favourite places…), and a fairly large group of regulars who are always happy to welcome a new face. I've only been a few times, usually early in the night, but it was pretty damned sweet, and is well worth a look.


Over on Yarra Street, The Bended Elbow is a self-styled 'British Ale House', which basically means pub with lots of random farm tools, taxidermy, and other random stuff. Still, another of my favourite places to party, there is something on every night at Bended, be it Thursday night Karaoke, live music upstairs, steak/burger/parmi/whatever night, poker, trivia, the food is almost always good, and apparently they have a decent selection of beer. Previously their top floor has been open as a nightclub on weekends, but 'Level One' was recently shut down, amid promises that the live music would continue, and that bigger and better things were planned. Still, I was a rare visitor to that level, preferring to stay with the regular live band, cider on tap, and low, soft lighting of the pub-atmosphere on ground level.


The National Hotel, aka. The Nash, on Moorabool St, is not for everyone. Deep-fried blondes, for example. One of the few pubs in Geelong with a good reputation for live music (and great noodles), my first introduction was in my first year when they still had Brit Rock night in the back room on a Wednesday night, where the tartan skirts got broken out and mohawks came out to play, with some serious head banging, and great local acts. The beer garden is like walking through a cloud of smog, the bathrooms look like you should be rolling up a sleeve and finding a vein, and there is reputation for fights breaking out outside, but that can all be overlooked for the music, the mad pool room wallpapered with old gig posters, and Nash noodles. After a few, be careful not to get distracted while ordering drinks by the fish tank behind the bar, sure way to get ejected. There are usually two things going on in the Nash at once, one up front, another in the 'Groove Room' out back, and they run a rad trivia night once a week. Did I mention noodles?


My other pick for live bands is The Barwon Club, right down Moorabool St near the river. This is also now my local, so I am expecting to spend a lot more time there than previously. Poker Thursdays, Sunday acoustic sessions, a regular feature gig, the local cover band, your weekend is fairly covered. With sweet sleeper-like tables, a massive bar, the big screen TV in the corner to catch the latest sport, a beer garden that is actually nice, pool table, and the big room out the back for gigs and functions, the Barwon Club is another popular spot for pub crawls, and last year hosted the resi recovery day, much to their credit.


Not really my thing, but where I end up spending the most nights out (Viva la democracy) are the nightclubs in town, and there are pleanty of them. Blue Martini Lounge is on James St, and after a massive climb up, there are two rooms, usually one playing RnB or Top 40, and another playing house. Cheap drinks, cover bands, popular as an afterparty spot and for uni society functions and for partying into the wee hours. The first room when you walk in is visually pretty cool, with a wall of lights, a cool bar, a dancing box up top for the deep-fried blondes to shake their non-existant booty, a couple of big comfy booths and what appear to be giant ottomans on the mezz section. Home House on Moorabool St is insanely huge, with two floors, four bars, and looks like a cloud of fairies exploded everywhere. Seriously, downstairs is super sparkly, with the stairs lined with celebrity snaps, and upstairs sporting a decent collection of pop art. Lots of dark cozy corners, and places for high-heeled feet to rest, it is owned by Darryn "Mr Paparazzi" Lyons, who appears entirely at home when you see him there, so perhaps aptly named? When I first started at Deakin, it was decorated with pieces from the set of Moulin Rouge, and had a much more burlesque feel than the current décor, but it is no less OTT after the refurbishment a few years back. Hugely popular for Thursday nights, and in particular for uni society functions such as those run by Juggernauts. Also owned by Mr Lyons is Eureka. Once the grotty sports bar that you only went to at the end of the night, when everywhere else was closing, and you could barely stand, it was transformed by a multi-million dollar renovation and refurbishment last year into a one of the hottest club tickets in town. Unfortunately, everyone's favourite sports wall disappeared in the refurb, along with the dancing ledge, but the result has been an undoubtedly classier end to the night. The upstairs garden is something to behold, just be careful not to fall down the stairs like one former housemate did!

So, after Happys on Wednesday, Uni night Thursday, and footy at the pub Saturday, it comes to Sunday night and you're up for one last night out. There is, of course, only one possible place. Lamby's Tavern on the corner of Moorabool and Brougham streets. Underground in the old wool exchange, this pub comes to life on Sundays, when everyone is trying to deny that they have to front up to work/uni/life in the morning. Live coverband on the dance floor pumping out the classic floor fillers, at least 4 deep to the two bars, and a whole heap of super comfy couches round the back, it's the prefect Sunday night out, so long as you're not over 6ft. Yes, there is a rather low roof on the dancefloor, and many a tall patron has almost knocked themselves out on a rafter while dancing. Especially if there's moshing involved. Still, somehow they survive, and everyone has an awesome night, or so the photographs and the pounding headache say the next day!


Hopefully this will be helpful to some of the new people floating around Geelong looking for a good night out!

If you live in another town, or know of somewhere in Geelong you think should be on the list, please share the details of your favourite party place! Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane?

n.b. Club4Play on Moorabool was recently rebranded 'Cruze', and has not yet reopened. Therefore, it has not been included on this list. Opens later this week I believe!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Student’s Guide to Surviving O’Week

Picture from DUSA
Yes, it's that time of year again. Police patrols increase, shop owners pray for their windows, 'returners' mutter about 'Jaffys' taking over, and the clubs rub their hands together in glee while making sure security is tight.

Joyous O'Week, you're here at last!

For students it always has been, and hopefully always will be, one of the most jam-packed social weeks of their time at university. For students at Deakin, O'Week is the first week in March. For everyone else, check your uni website! My birthday is always in the middle of O'Week, so it's always an awesome excuse to get my par-tay on. Here are some of my top tips for O'Week.

Go to the orientation lectures – Yes, I know, snore fest. Whilst these can be insanely boring, it is always wise to rock up to any scheduled lectures given by your course and faculty. Aside from being a great way to meet people in your course, they can be full of important information such as how to change your timetable, who you have to talk to about extensions or subject changes, where to submit assignments, etc. These are usually in the first day or two, before the serious partying happens, which helps with not having to cope through with a hang-over.

Sign up for your Student Union/Association – I don't know about anywhere else, but at Deakin, membership to DUSA is super cheap, and well worth the $20 per annum. Free lunches, discounts on event tickets, cheap photocopying & binding, more discounts on society memberships and movie tickets, and usually a free wall planner and diary. My membership had paid for itself within a week last year. Your student union usually organises a bunch of events during O'Week which are a great way to meet new people, whether it is a coffee crawl, 'Mystery Bus Tour' (aka. Pub Crawl), beach party, live music, BBQ lunches, or whatever, get amongst it!

Clubs & Societies Day – If your uni has one of these, rock up! All of the different clubs and societies set up and try to convince you to join up. Great way to meet people with similar interests, and to get a heap of freebies. Deakin usually has all their societies, as well as a bunch of the town's night clubs, sports groups, and gods only know who else. If you are in Geelong, I highly recommend joining the Juggernauts, because if this year is anything like years past, they run some of the biggest and best functions during the year, usually involving a whole lot of drinking games, and some awesome entertainment. Even if you only have a wander around and don't join anything, it's a good way to kill some time before you go to the next orientation lecture.

Don't Buy Textbooks – I know it's very tempting, when you're walking around campus, and see the bookshop with their boards full of reading lists, and the helpful staff, and the shiny new books to just want to walk in and get the whole bundle. DON'T!!! 1) You'll have no money to spend on partying later in the week, 2) You'll have no money to spend on food later in the week, and 3) You'll walk into your first lecture for a given unit the Monday after, and be told you didn't actually need to buy it, it's just recommended.

Get Loose – Yes, find your uni's favourite/closest drinking hole and hang out a bit. At Deakin in Geelong, this is usually either The Ponds (for the Waurn Ponds campus), or The Max (for Waterfront). Have a few bevvys, meet people, and enjoy some music. Then, hit the town. If you're on residences, you will have the joy of having an organising committee that has already organised something every night of O'Week, from transport to entry, and for the non-drinkers, they usually have separate, though equally fun events. It usually goes something along the lines of Ponds for Happy Hour every day, followed by the rush back up the hill for Caf, then into town for a Mix & Match, Mystery Bus Tour, Random Club event, scavenger hunts, etc. It's all about meeting new people, getting to know the town, and generally running amock. Make the most of these, as you don't have to get up insanely early the next day to go to a very important lecture or test, a luxury that you will be missing come week 7 or 8.

"If you can't be good…" – Sex is a part of university. Plain and simple. Consider protection. I will most probably blog more on this later in the year, but for now I'm just going to give these two pieces of advice – 1) Carry a condom or two in your purse/wallet. Protection is the responsibility of both parties, so never assume that if you pick up that the other person (bf/gf/random, whatever) will be prepared. 2) Girls, if you're on the pill, keep on-top of it. It's easy to lose track of time, and miss a pill or two amongst all the socialising. "If you can't be good, be careful. If you can't be careful, remember the date."

Pace Yourself – It is very, very easy to get carried away in the first few weeks of university when it comes to money and alcohol. Budget early to save issues a week, or even two weeks down the track. While blowing all your money on grog the first night might seem like a great idea at the time, your body, your social life, and your wallet are going to hate you in the morning. Remember that you still have to buy food, and probably a bunch of other stuff you haven't even thought of yet, including the rest of the partying you plan on doing between now and your next pay. If you're like most JAFFYS (Just Another F***ing First Year Student), haven't lived away from home before, and have only recently turned 18, chances are you won't know yet how much you can safely drink. Whilst I do encourage having a good time, I also encourage playing it safe - go out with friends, alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and know when to say "no, I've had enough". Remember that, whether thanks to Facebook or rumours, what happens in O'Week rarely stays in O'Week, and getting yourself into trouble now could cause you problems down the track.


What are you looking forward to during O'Week? For those of you who've done it before, what was your favourite part, and what are your survival tips?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Student's Guide to Getting Organised

Photo Credit – Amy's Journal

So hopefully by now, you've figured out which uni you are going to, and where you are going to live for at least the first semester of your new academic career. Now it's down to getting organised, both for moving, and the start of semester!

Packing/Storage – First things first, go and buy some durable plastic storage containers, or a bunch of cardboard packing cases. Packing cases are great because you can fold them back down and store them for when you have to move out again, whilst the plastic ones are great because you can see what's in them, and they can be used to store clothes, food, books, you name it, without fear of water damage. Having everything packed into labelled boxes makes moving and then finding things later so much easier than rummaging through the pile of stuff you just threw into the boot of your car. The boxes also make great furniture when covered with a sheet or something, I used one as a printer table, and another as a nightstand for months! Clothes, scarves, socks, etc make great padding, and save on bubble wrap or paper. And don't feel you have to pack every single thing you own. You still want your room to feel like home when you come back during holidays, and your space at uni is probably finite.

Clothes – Don't feel you have to take your whole wardrobe to uni with you. I don't really consider myself a fashionista, and I certainly don't blog heavily on fashion. I leave that to people with real flair and talent in that area (Will try to upload a list of my favourite reads later this week!). Styling aside, when deciding what to pack, consider the climate where you are, what you plan on getting up to, and how much wardrobe space you actually have. I moved to a much cooler climate, so I packed a lot of winter weight gear, scarves, and jackets, then a very small amount of summer wear. And, it all fitted into two suitcases (Now it's about 4 packing cases and a suitcase or two, my collection has some serious bulk!). Remember you can always ask the family to post you something if you find you really need it later on. If you are a biology or chemistry student, remember that you need to have clothes that are appropriate to wear in the lab (closed shoes, covered legs, few frills/ties/etc that can get accidentally coated in something nasty or set on fire). As a general rule, I never wear anything in the lab that I would seriously be distraught over having to throw away or that could not be replaced – Contamination can and does happen, and I've had to throw out a favourite pair of jeans, and put up with odd stains on my favourite t-shirt. Lab coats unfortunately only do so much.

Stationary – Now is the time to buy! With all the primary school kids going back in the next week, there will be some great specials floating around. Pick up some good pens (Get some cool colours as well as just red/black/blue, a great way to colour your day), a few pre-hole punched notebooks (perforated makes rearranging into folders easier later), one folder for each subject you are taking and a couple of extras, just in case, folder dividers & plastic pockets, anything that you think you might need to make your start to uni life easier. If you're a science student, do yourself a favour and get a Sharpie or four! They are fantastic for labelling in prac classes, they're permanent (except when faced with ethanol, beware when labelling cell culture flasks), bright, and have a great line. I've got a black with both wide-tip and fine tip ends, as well as a bunch of fine tips in various bright colours, and use them for everything, including labelling the boxes in point one!

Household Stuff – This list will vary greatly depending on where you're staying. If you're moving into a rental, you obviously need to take everything, so figure out now how you're getting everything moved, and start packing! No matter where you are, you are probably going to need towels, cooking utensils, laundry powder & pegs, and bed sheets. If you are moving into uni accommodation, they usually provide a list of things included in the room/unit, and a list of things they recommend you bring. Consider whether some things can be taken with you (the frying pan you got for Christmas), or if it might be better to buy when you get there(washing powder, bathroom products), and save the packing space for something else!

The Fridge - If you are living in dorms/halls/on campus, check if you are allowed to have a bar fridge in your room, and if so, consider investing in one! This was my life saver at uni, as it keeps your food separate from everyone elses (helpful not only if you have allergies, but also prevents 'resi shopping'), and gives you somewhere to chill that six pack without fear of 'sharing'. Considering we had 12 people to one normal sized fridge, having one in my room made life so much easier, meant things didn't get mixed up, lost, or accidentally thrown out, and I didn't have to worry about finding space for my cold stuff when I got home from the super!

The Computer – Before you do anything, backup everything on your computer. I highly recommend getting an external hard drive before you go to uni, and making sure you backup regularly. I made the mistake of not, and have experienced the pain of losing a whole semester's work two weeks before exams. Lecturers are incredibly unsympathetic to this kind of situation. I went through three motherboards and two hard drives during my undergrad, before it died completely and I upgraded to a new laptop back in August. Every time, I lost stuff that was seriously important. If you don't have an external hard drive, try loading onto the uni server, backing up on discs, emailing things to yourself, and as a last resort, printing hardcopies. Also make sure your antivirus is up-to-date. You'll more than likely end up hooking into the uni network, get into some completely legal file sharing, and start accessing all sorts of new and marvellous websites during your degree. Unfortunately, this also means smartass IT students practicing their hacking skills, the usual virus threats, and all that jazz. Make sure you're protected! Other things to consider are making sure you have plenty of space left for your new work, and making sure your computer meets the uni's recommended minimum requirements.

Unit Stuff – If you already know the units/subjects you are undertaking this semester, jump online and read the unit guides. If you're like me, and like having them to hand, print them out and store them in the folder you bought for that subject. Have a look at the recommended reading list, but dear gods, don't actually buy any of them yet! Many textbooks on the recommended reading list find themselves looked at once or twice in that semester, and then relegated to the back of the bookcase. Wait until a week or so into semester, talk to your lecturers and tutors, and you may well save yourself some seriously $$$. Don't stress too much if the assignment questions are already sitting there, just take note, and file it away for later. This is more just to get you familiar with what you're diving into than to motivate you to start studying!

Documentation – Make sure you have a copy of your birth certificate, and any other important documents you could possibly need. You'll be amazed how often you need 100 points of ID, and only have about 80. What might you need them for? Applying for Centrelink or scholarships, applying for work or passports, providing proof of ID to real estate agents. Also consider whether you need to transfer your Electoral Roll address, or your drivers licence. If you're on residences, you can usually get away with it, especially if you're moving home during breaks, or after uni. If you're living in a rental, you may have to seriously consider the change.

Well my friends, that's all I can think of at this very moment. What are your top tips for getting ready for uni? Have I left out something seriously important?