Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Can We Do It - Update 2

I'm aiming to do a monthly update on our 'can we do it' goals, so here goes:
We bought our home in July 2009, settlement was 13 July, so we're closing in on 12 months. We're aiming to have our mortgage paid off in 7 years from starting out, which would make it July 2016.

Start of mortgage - 13 July 2009
As at today (30 June 2010) - mortgage reduced by $93,233
% of home owned - 47.42%

If we can continue on the track we're on with the mortgage, even allowing for a year or 2 of 1/2 wage for me (hopefully with kiddies), we should meet or beat our 7 year deadline.

Other debt
Our total non mortgage debt includes a car loan (as part of mortgage package, at same interest rate), and a VISA we've since closed.

Start of car loan - 10 May 2010
As at today (30 June 2010) - reduced by $457.97
% of car owned - 3.05%

Start of VISA - 1 Dec 2009
As at today (30 June 2010) - reduced by $3,829
% of VISA paid - 77.8%

Total non mortgage debt (May 2010) - $15,633
As at today (30 June 2010) - reduced by $4,286.97
% of debt paid - 27.42%

My weight covers a few areas, getting healthy & fit, getting my body in the right place to conceive (and fit in a near 'normal' wedding dress!!). I am easily distracted from weightloss, so hoping this blog can keep me on the straight & narrow!! C'mon me, you can do it!!

Weight loss as at 1st March 2010 - 0kg 
Weight as at 30 June 2010 - 6.7kg 
% of goal weight loss achieved - 13.4%

At end of financial year, our business is actually going better than expected, equates to about .6 of Mr Mel's previous wage, which we're happy with after our first year, when Mr Mel only started working on it full time from mid Feb this year. We have some plans and ideas, so looking forward to implementing and/or researching further in the 2010/11 FY.

Till next time,

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Brrrr Hello Winter, We Meet Again

Day 1 of running the farm for 2 weeks with the boss away, and by crikeys it's cold!

Left home at 6am for the 20 min drive to the farm, our iron front fence was covered in ice, and the front lawn was white & crunchy. Mr Mel put some water on the front windscreen while I ran around inside looking for gloves, by the time I got to the car the new water was frozen too!

Driving to the farm the paddocks looked like the were covered in snow.

Got to the farm at 6.30am after stopping at Woolworths to buy some el cheapo gloves & a beanie (yes a good look I know). The weather station said -2 deg, excellent!

I was adorned with 2 singlets, a long sleeve top, a zip up jacket, scarf, beanie, and gloves, and still the icy wind went through me. After 2 mins on the quad I couldn't feel my fingers, always a good sign.

Luckily all the horses were in good order, so I didn't have to fumble with frozen fingers and undone rug straps, and even luckier all of the horses must have decided it was too cold to have their usual play with the trough floats, so I didn't have to go shoulder deep to fix the float, yay!

At 7.30 when I'd finished it was 0 deg, it's now 10am and it's 7 deg, and the paddocks have lost their cover of frost, hopefully the sun will have a bit more warmth to it before the afternoon feedup!

And I must say, thank whatever god there is for coffee!!! :-)

Till next time,

Friday, June 25, 2010

Our Filly Sold

Sad and happy news.

We started our Thoroughbred horse business in July last year when we purchased our first broodmare (in-foal), she had a lovely filly in September. The plan is we want to buy, sell and breed horses, and hopefully turn a profit doing so.

Our filly, who is now 9 months old, sold yesterday, we set a perhaps conservative reserve, and happy to say she sold for 1.6 times the reserve.

The reason for the conservative reserve is that we need to get some cash back into the business, and if we were to keep her to sell as a yearling we would have been looking at another $5-7,000 in expenses, and maybe get another $2-3,000 profit for it. But while you hold horses there are always risks, especially with young horses, and because their aim is to be a racehorse, if anything goes wrong, either with their legs or respiratory system, you can end up spending alot of money on a horse worth nothing.

So while we're trying to establish our business our motto is sell sell sell, once we've made millions we can keep all the babies and enjoy them, but that's a way off the track.

The good news is I didn't cry as she went through the salesring (yes I was close to tears I'll admit), and she has gone to a good home, I spoke to the buyers afterwards, they are keen to get her to the track as a 2yo, so that will be in our favour if she can run early, it will help our subsequent foals sell.

The farm she's going to is only an hour and a half up the road, and I've got an open invite to go see her, so that's good news also.

The bad news is I feel like I've sold a child, yes stupid I know, but I was there when she was born, have dealt/played with her almost every day since then, I helped her take her first suckle of milk, and to get to her feet, I weaned her from her mum, and taught her how to be a horse, not a foal.

I guess it just proves I'm not as hardened as I should be after 15 years in the thoroughbred game, and to be honest, I don't think that's a bad thing, there are alot of people out there who treat there horses as just assets, with little to no emotional attachment. While I want our business to succeed, I never want to lose my love of horses, and only see them as $ signs!

Good luck little filly, I'll be following your every step :)

Till next post, 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

CM Challenge! Did I Do It? Yep I Did :)

Well it's been 4 weeks, and the good news is my uniform fits well, currently wearing it, there are no buttons straining about to burst, which is always a good thing!

I had set myself the aim of losing 2.5cm off my bust & hips, happy to say that I've surpassed my aims, and am very very happy about that.

Final Day
Weight - 129.8kg (-3.4kg)
Bust - 120.0cm (-4cm)
Waist - 114.0cm (-6cm)
Hips - 139.0cm (-5cm)

The ongoing challenge, is to keep all the numbers tumbling down, the benefits are too numerous to say, obviously, health, fitness are big results, plus it will help give us our best chance to fall pregnant, after I look smashing (well more smashing than I would've), in a wedding dress, when we finally get round to getting married!

Till next update,

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Where has the Spelt gone??

Ever since I tasted a magnificent spelt & mushroom risotto, cooked by the delicious Manu Feildel (of L'Etoile, Masterchef, Boys Weekend, My Kitchen Rules), at the 2009 Sydney Good Food & Wine Show, I have been trying to get my hands on some spelt to cook Manu's recipe.
Any excuse to include a pic of Manu :) or as Mr Mel calls him 'that bleeping French bleeper'

I always have it in the back of my mind, and whenever we're at a new stupormarket, market, deli, etc I'll go on a quick Spelt search.

Well it's almost been 12 months and I've not got my hands on a single grain of Spelt.

I rang a couple of wholefood suppliers in Sydney, and have just been told there's an Australia wide shortage, as the crop was much smaller than expected, that they're not expecting stock until November!

I'm heading back to the 2010 Sydney Good Food & Wine Show in July and will have eyes peeled for supplies of Spelt.

If anyone knows of any stockists (that have stock), please please please let me know!

For anyone who doesn't know Spelt it's a ancient grain related to wheat but with more/different nutritional values. It fell out favour in the late 1800's as it wasn't as easy to grow/crop as wheat etc. But thankfully it's on the comeback, it's a lovely taste, slightly nutty. While it contains gluten it is suitable for some wheat sensitive people. In some parts of Europe it's called Farro. 

Ciao for now,

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kiva - my way to help out

People who know me through the website Simple Savings might have read the thread I started last year re Kiva.

I thought I'd post on my blog on it also, for anyone dropping by who might be interested. The background is:

I saw a show on Kiva on Oprah in 2007 and filed it away to look into, the founding couple were so inspirational and the show had a big effect on me and really made me think.

Basically Kiva is micro-financing, their website states "
Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending."

I got to thinking, what if I was born in a developing country and had some great ideas to help improve my life, but no way (or effective/safe way) to access capital, would I approach Kiva, my answer was yes. I see what Kiva is doing as a hand up not a hand out.

So I eventually checked out Kiva in May 2009 and made my first loan.

That loan was to a lady called Magdalena Suriaga from the Philippines. Magdalena was asking for a loan of US$425 to buy farming products in the off season so she wouldn't have to pay the higher prices in the planting season.

I and 14 other lenders lent Magdalena US$25, and over the following 6 months Magdalena made repayments, and repaid the full $425 in October 2009.

Needless to say I was then hooked, hooked on helping people, especially women, make a go of their ideas, where the only thing lacking was capital.

Since May 2009 I have  made 31 loans, totalling US$775, these loans have been made to people in Mongolia, Cambodia, Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Samoa, Kenya.

I have focussed on women who are in primary production, I really do believe that if women around the world had more power, access to wealth and resources, that the world would be a better place. Women are the educators, they raise the children, and have more of a village view rather than a self view (generalisation, not in every case).

Of my 31 loans, 9 are full repaid.

Most repayments are made on/around 15th of each month, I really enjoy checking my repayments and selecting who I can lend to again, now that most months I get enough repayments to cover another US$25 loan.

I ended up starting a Kiva group - Aussie & Kiwi Savers - inspired by and made up of Simple Savings members.

Currently as at 22nd June 2010 our team is made up of :

68 members

335 loans (82 are 100% paid back already) 
US$8,425 worth of loans

I'm not advocating everyone get involved, I would highly recommend anyone who is interested in joining us reads everything they can on Kiva, either through the Kiva website   or by googling Kiva, and make your own decision.

As with everything in life, there are good and bad, while I have not had any late/non payers on my loans, I know some people have, I would recommend if you do join Kiva, you research the lenders closely, I only lend through providers who have a good record, and who have been on Kiva for a while.

Kiva - loans that change lives

Till next time,

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Now that's a crusty roll!

The joys of living in a small country town, on the way to work this morning I dropped into the bakery/cafe in the main street to pick up a bread roll to go with my pumpkin soup (home made) for lunch.

I ask the lady "Do you have any crusty rolls", she replies "Sure Luv here you go", puts the roll in paper bag, I hand over the $ and pick up the bag, in doing so I feel a very soft uncrusty roll, so say "Oh excuse me I was after a crusty roll to have with soup, I think you've picked up the wrong one", her reply "Nah that's it Luv, just take it out of the bag and leave it on the bench till lunch and it'll be crusty", I smile thinking she's joking, to see her serious face which lets me know she's not joking. Knowing any further discussion will get me nowhere I smile and head out the door.

I think the lovely lady thinks that stale = crusty! Learn something new every day :-)   Gave me a giggle :)

Till next time,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

1 Week to go on CM Challenge

Well it's been a couple of weeks since updating, and I've been a bit slack, have been exercising, and watching my food most of the time, but there's been a few social engagements where my restraint was non existent, baked brie, german sausage, satay chicken, lemon myrtle cheesecake, what can I say, I was pitifully easy to tempt.

With a week to go the update is:

Day 21
Weight - 131.4kg (-1.8kg)
Bust - 121.0cm (-3cm)
Waist - 114.5cm (-5.5cm)
Hips - 140.5cm (-3.5cm)

I had set an aim of 2.5 cm from bust & hips, happy to see the tape measure go down by more than that in 3 weeks, will be interesting to see what happens in the final week, a big push to the finishing line I think! :-)

C'mon me, you can do it!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

I pick up the uniform on Monday, so the proof will be in the hopefully smaller pudding!

Till next update,

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Flavourfest This Weekend @ Hunter Valley Gardens

Mr Mel & I are heading to the Hunter Valley Gardens this weekend for Flavourfest.
The HVG website describes the fest as "the three day culinary extravaganza will feature fine food, exquisite wine, deluxe merchandise, cooking demonstrations, celebrity guest hosts, and inspiring music, showcasing the flavours and sounds of the Hunter and beyond, all inside Australia's largest and most spectacular garden displays".

We live a close drive to HVG, while we have often been to the HVG village, with friends/family, we haven't been into the gardens, as the entry fee of $25 each seemed a bit steep for gardens, especially when Mr Mel has less than no interest in looking at pretty gardens!

So Flavourfest is perfect, it's combining our love of food/wine/hunter stuff, with entry to the gardens, for $23.,50 which is less than the garden entry fee normally!

Can't get much better than that!

Plus the guest chefs are people we like:

Tobie Puttock - of Jamie Oliver's '15' fame
Pete Evans - of My Kitchen Rules and heaps of Fox shows
Chris Cranswick-Smith - of Emmilou Tapas Bar in Surry Hills, one of the first restaurants Mr Mel & I went to as a couple :-)

We will be taking heaps of photos, and will report back with our thoughts etc.

Till then,

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Introducing Ollie the Pug

I don't think I've put much on the blog yet about our furry child, Ollie. So here's a few snaps of the cheeky monkey.
Ollie - his first day with us

My cross-eyed furry child, I was worried his eyes would stay like it!

Enjoying a cuddle with my mum, his 1st Xmas

Ollie nowadays

With his favourite toy, squeaky lamb that he surgically removed the squeak from

Butter wouldn't melt!

Till next time,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Let there be light! Our kitchen improvements

We bought our house in July last year, and have whinged about the terrible lighting in the kitchen ever since, it has a ceiling fan with a light attached, more of a bedroom fan & light, a very mellow light. If you're washing dishes after sundown you have to hold each piece up to the light to see if it's clean!  Very frustrating.

Mr Mel & I love to cook, we cook together almost every night, and have a cooking storm weekend every month, as you'll see from my previous post :-)

So last week we bit the bullet, went up to a lighting shop at Rutherford, and after much toing and froing we settled on a new silver ceiling fan with a bright light, looks more industrial than bedroomy, and a 4 spot light silver rod type thing (excellent description I know!)  We will put the rod over the sink, with 2 spot lights aiming directly down at the sink, and 2 aiming along the prep bench next to the sink.

The sparky is at home now with Mr Mel installing them, very exciting, can't wait to cook in good light!

Our kitchen also suffers from a lack of bench space, so we had an island bench made. It's 1200m long, by 900m wide, with a 30mm overhang so we can fit stools under it. It has 3 drawers (soft close yay), and a pull out double bin. It's on lockable rubber wheels so we can move it around.

Our kitchen is currently an older style timber one, it's nice, but not really our style, so we spent a few months going through laminate and benchtop samples, we wanted to decide on our kitchen as a whole, so down the track when we renovate the rest of the kitchen, the island bench won't be out of place.

We settled on:

- Caesarstone Almond Rocca, 30mm with a double pencil edge -

Cabinets - Polytec Createc Cafe Cream Gloss -
Handles - Brushed steel
Floors - already done, they're a dark biscuit colour
- already done, cream, with a dark biscuit surrounds

We got the island 2 weeks ago and have booked Hunter Valley Granite & Marble to install the benchtop this week.

So by the end of this week we will have lights, more benchtop & storage.  Very exciting!  Will post some pics once done, before & after kind of :-)

Cia for now,

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The eventual rainy weekend menu

Well we headed out shopping early, and our planned menu, had a couple of couple of changes, due to what we saw at the butcher, and Mr Mel's 'feel' for the day!We ended up cooking :

Pumpkin soup - was delish, we bought a whole pumpkin, so did 2 batches, we had it for lunch today with some Morpeth sourdough, have a container in the freezer full, and giving our neighbour about 4-5 serves worth.  I do like a thick soup, so next time I might use a little less stock to see if that helps it thicken up a bit. It's a Campbells recipe from the Masterchef site, but we didn't use their stock, just made our own Vegeta stock.
The recipe is at

White Chocolate Panna Cotta
- we'd never made a panna cotta before, it turned out well, but way too rich for us, due to not having rammekins (spelling?) we filled tea cups about 3/4 full, Mr Mel got through his, but I left just over 1/3rd. The recipe we used from the website included a Rosewater Syrup, however living in a country town that isn't big on 'unusual' ingredients, we couldn't find any, so I made a syrup from a spare lemon & ginger teabag that was in the pantry.  The syrup was nice. Next time I think we'll try a plain vanilla Panna Cotta, to see if it was just the white choc being too rich.  Also had an issue not being able to locate gelatin leaf, so use powdered, and it seemed to work just as well.

The recipe is at

Pork Ribs with BBQ Sauce
- After salivating through a Masterchef Masterclass where Gary cooked some ribs, we had to give them a go. Our butcher didn't have the specified 'Pork Spare Ribs', but recommended his other ribs, they were more 'Flintstoney' with a big curve to them instead of the neat flat ones Gary used. We didn't have time to marinate them for the suggested 3-4 hours or overnight, so ended up cooking them for about 2.5hrs instead of the recipes 1.5hrs!  Some of the ribs pulled out of the meat, and when cutting them to separate the knife went thru like butter, soooo tender.  After about 2 hrs, the sauce wasn't really thick and sticky, so I added about a table spoon of honey an another of flour, to add some more stickiness, and to help the sauce thicken up. We felt quite barbaric ripping into them with our hands, covered to the wrists in sticky sauce, but oh my they were magnifique!! They're definitely going on the party food list.

The recipe is at

Sambal Oelek
- We are growing a chilli plant that just will not stop giving us chillies, it's ridiculous, we had a plastic bag in the freezer, plus some in the fridge, and some drying in the pantry. We haven't tried it yet, but it looks like the photo on the recipe, shall report back once tasted!

The recipe is at

Poached Eggs, Roast Potato, Capsicum, Chorizo, Coriander
- We are cooking tonight for dinner, the recipe looks delish, and it's 5 things we love to eat, plus Mr Mel is an ace egg poacher :) Shall report back after dinner! The recipe is from a blog I follow Portugese Kitchen.

The recipe is at

Thanks to Lorraine @
Not Quite Nigella & Portugese Kitchen for your comments :-)

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Rainy Weekend Ahead - Suggestions Welcome :)

We've had about 60mls of rain since 3pm yesterday, with another 40+ due today. Our front and back lawn are waterlogged, and at work the paddocks have puddles, and the lanes are very soggy. A pic from just outside the stables at work below.

I'm not too upset though, it's Friday (woohoo), and I can feel a rainy housey weekend coming on :-)

We're planning to head to the market early and have a cooking weekend, cooking for our meals on the weekend, and to put some in the freezer.

So far the menu is:

- Pumpkin Soup
- Onion Soup
- Zucchini Slice
- Chicken & Zucchini Patties
- Slow cook Lamb Shoulder
- Apple Pie (never made one before)
- we're going to look thru the Masterchef cookbook and online for a couple of new things to try too

Suggestions more than welcome, we're open to challenges :-) 
so please feel free to leave a comment with a suggestion :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A week down on CM challenge

It's been a week, and the results are getting there, down 1.5 cm on bust, 2 cm on hips, but to be honest at my size, that's nothing!  I've got another 20 days till 'D-Day', so hopefully I can keep on track.

Have been using the WiiFit each morning and got stricter on my diet, so hopefully better results will follow!

Day 8 

Weight - 132.2kg (-1.0kg)
Bust - 122.5cm (-1.5cm)
Waist - 116cm (-4cm)
Hips - 142cm (-2cm)

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oh for a camera

Don't you hate those times when you wish you had a camera?
I had one just now, out checking on the foals, and hear alot of flapping and hoofsteps, look over to where our filly is, and there is a family of ducks, 5-6 in total, bolting thru the paddock, madly flapping their wings, in hot pursuit was our filly, with her head down snorting, chasing after them.  The ducks made it thru the fence before she got there, and they took off to the dam. Our filly stood at the fence stamping her foot and shaking her head. Could just see her saying "And stay out!!"
Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be doing the job I love in a beautiful country spot, I sooo don't miss living in Melbourne, except for the coffee maybe :-)
Below is a pic of our filly before she got old enough to realise the ducks in her paddock were stealing her dinner, not saying hello!

Ciao for now


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