Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in review

2012 has been an adventurous year for me, but sadly I did not have such a great blogging year. Today i wanted to take some time to review the year that was 2012, and to consider 2013 (particularly my blogging goals). So the image of the hammock reminds me of one of my 2012 adventures - a visit to Cocos Keeling Islands, but it also depicts the mood of one who reflects and rests with reflection. I hope you can rest with me today too.

2012 was an interesting year for me professionally, and this has an impact on where my energies were spent in my personal life. I lost 7 team members due to a restructure, leaving me alone and acting in senior positions most of the year - a challenge I enjoyed, but it took some energy to manage.

However, early in 2012 I set myself some physical challenges, cycling and running, so many of my spare hours have been spent training, or getting to events.Some of my highlights included
  • 2012 Tour down Under Bupa Challenge - Road cycling 138km
  • Loop the Lake - Road cycling 90km
  • Wollombi Wild Ride - Mountain Biking 50km
  • Fernleigh 15 - running 15km
  • Grape Adventure - tri event - kayaking (2km), mountain biking (10km), running (3km) x2
  • Crowne Plaza ride - Road cycling 60km
  • SES navigation comp - 25km bush walking event
Yes, one could say it's a midlife crisis, but it's been a fun crisis.

Reading & book reviews: Needless to say, this year my reading time has suffered dramatically. I spent way too much time this year trying to read one book, Monica McInnnerney's 'Lola's Secret'. Monica grew up in the same region as me, and this book was set in our town. I really wanted to read it because she reflects so many of the characters I recall from my childhood. But, unfortunately I wasn't in the space to get into the story line. After much struggling, I put the book down. 

I picked up Muakami's 1Q84 when I went on holidays in September and read the first two parts in the two weeks of holidays, but on my return, reading was again a challenge, and I still have not yet finished 1Q84. I then decided to join Bellezza in her November read of 'Norweigan Wood' - but again, I haven't read any more than 1/2 of it. I also started Joinson's 'A Lady Cyclists Guide to Kashgar', but... not finished yet. 

So in review of reading 2012 - I don't think I finished one book.

So what about blogging and me? I love co-hosting Paris in July with Karen at Bookbath - it has to be one of the highlights of my year. I also enjoy being part of the Japanese Literature Challenge, and I have dreams of joining other challenges too. Paris in July is an online community experience which I love to be part of. Community is critical for me, it's part of my essential ingredients to life, and being part of community can be difficult in this day and age. But Paris in July reminds me that where ever we are in the world, what ever we do, believe or practice, we can share something like our love of Paris, and be part of that community. I love to think that if all the Paris in July participants were in a similar place we'd have a wonderful festival and enjoy each others company over a Parisian meal to die for!

So blogging for me is about connecting with others (funny that I don't do facebook then), but blogging allows you to connect with like minded friends (without all the invasion of privacy that facebook offers). And I like being part of the blogging communities who
  • review books
  • post recipes
  • blog about gardening
  • discuss social justice issues
As 2012 closes and 2013 begins, I was wondering what blogging would be like for me. I found this post and wanted to share my goals with you. 10 things first time bloggers should do:
  1. Choose the name of your blog carefully - Thyme-for-tea is perfect for me - combining gardening, tea, rest & reflection into the name of a place where I do just that.
  2. Comment and email others - this is where I've let my blogging friends down in 2012, and i hope to be much better at this in 2013. any hints?
  3. Don't write anything you cant say to someone - I am quite particular in who knows about my blog and what I post - especially photos. I will continue to be particular.
  4. Write for yourself - this is always my goal - to share with others while I challenge myself to learn from life.
  5. Edit, edit, edit - for one thing, this is important for me because I have dyslexia and my spelling can be very bad, but editing is about making sure you say what you want, in as few words as possible. I try.
  6. Know who you are blogging for - me! but then I do know the bloggers I visit and if they visit me, I hope they find something they like too.
  7. Be true to yourself - always important - not always achievable
  8. Read - this goal is about reading other  blogs, other site, commentaries, and current affairs. This adds so much value to the blog. I will endeavour to do this more in 2013. 
  9. Find a blogging mentor - mine are currently Karen at Bookbath, Meridith at Bellezza and Jeanie at Marmalade Gypsy.. This week I'm particular attracted to the website 'Healthy Chef'. 
  10. Keep it simple - each post and the site should be kept simple - unlike this one!
I think I will try and use my blogspot a little differently in 2013 - not yet sure how, but currently considering a weekly rotation of my favourite topics - gardening, thinking, reading and social justice. I hope you'll join me on the journey.

Here's to blogging in 2013!! May we connect again, and may the blogging journey be rich with challenges, fun and friendship.
Here's to 2013 - enjoy the challenges!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas Friends!

 Christmas morning is one of my favourite times in all the year for so many reasons. It's when we celebrate Christs birth, and for me that means time to reflect on my relationship with Christ and his purposes. It's also a time when my garden is singing. While the photo above is not one of mine, it is exactly an image I get when I look out my bedroom window on Christmas morning. I love to hear the parrots sing, and to take in the vibrant array of colours and aroma of flowering gums.

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a wonderful Christmas season, may you and your families be safe, healthy and happy. Where support is needed for any reason, my you be surrounded by your loved ones, the angels in your life, and know that we are community where ever we are.

My partner and I celebrated Christmas lunch with our community - some close friends. Both of our families are some distance away, and Christmas is one of those times friends and community are pretty special We celebrated with prawns, BBQ chicken, and a range of delicious salads, including a greek salad, Poh's Green Papaya and peach salad, a fennel and red onion salad, and a tomato and avocado salad. All of this was enjoyed with a sparkling burgundy and a St Hugo Shiraz, and followed by gluten free Christmas Pudding and custard. Yum.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tea Party

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies

Yesterday I hosted a friendly tea party to help my partner celebrate a significant life occasion. I'm sorry now I didn't think to take some photo's - here are some off the web from recipes I cooked. When my partner lost his job in July he decided to return to school and finish a diploma he started 8 yrs ago - and now it's finished!  

It's the silly season, and after trying to find a common date for a few friends to have dinner with us, we finally decided on afternoon tea - it was great idea. We had a beautiful afternoon, and enjoyed some yummy things together. By chance, most things on offer were gluten free, and delicious!

 Our Menu included                     

All of this was enjoyed with freshly brewed coffee, tea and a lovely glass of chilled moscato or a sparkling burgundy.

Coconut Almond Cake
 So what do kids do when the adults are sitting about? My friends, twin 12 yr olds, found the camera and wandered around my garden taken photo's I may never take - but beautiful none the less!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Melbourne - Comme Paris!

Lygon St
 It has been so long since I blogged I have almost forgotten how to load a photo! I'm so sorry for my absence, and I do hope to be catching up with all my friends soon.

I wanted to share with you my most recent french experience. Last weekend I went to Melbourne with a girlfriend to the Paris to Provence Festival. It was a festival dedicated to all things French, and laid out in the style of the the weekend markets you'll find in any French village. We were taken away from our cares and woes with les cafes, patisseries, du vin et du fromages! There were stalls dedicated to linen from Provence, books for children, learners and french speakers, and jams, preserves and many other wonderful french delights.

But visiting Melbourne wasn't just about going to see Gabriel Gate cook for us, or to stroll in beautiful gardens with other lovers of all things french - visiting Melbourne is about shopping, catching the theatre and walking in it's Paris like streets and parks. So here's some photos from my weekend. Hope you enjoy it too
Window at Brunetti's, Carlton

Brunetti's - Famous for their Cakes and Coffee
Brunetti's Fruit Tart
Melbourne - cosmopolitan and modern

Melbournes Central Station - an Iconic Landmark

The historic aspects of Melbourne that bring it a French Charm

Melbournes Southbank - could be in any modern european city

Southbank - could be a scene of the Siene!

when the old blends in with the new

nothing better that a morning on the Yarra!

The Yarra River

So French!

Paris to Provence Markets - Soap Displays

Gabriel Gate making for us a fruit salad with raspberry coulis!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Japanese Literature Challenge Updates

 We're more than half way through the Japanese Literature Challenge 6 season and I haven't posted on anything yet. The challenge is hosted by Della Bellezza and I think I've participated in 5 of the 6 challenges. I hold this challenge as one of my favourites because it takes me into new worlds of literature that I would have never done before - and I enjoy it.

I originally posted my intentions for this challenge here, but it did not include this one - Murakami's 1Q84. It's HUGE by my standards (I'm not an avid reader and I've had a fear of books over 500 pages long). Still, I couldn't resist it when I was about to go on holidays to a remote tropical island.
Murakami has featured in all of my reading lists for the Japanese Literature Challenges, and again he doesn't disappoint. I'm only 2/3rds of the way through this one, but I'm definitely hooked, and again, being transported into a strange and bizarre world - one with two moons and little people.... I'll post more soon about it (hopefully when I finish it) - but here's a quote from another reviewer.

This is the real world, there is no doubt about that.
But in this world, there are two moons in the sky.
In this world, the fates of two people, Tengo and Aomame, are closely intertwined. They are each, in their own way, doing something very dangerous. And in this world, there seems no way to save them both.
Something extraordinary is starting.

and from another blogger who struggled in the beginning, but in the end loved the book - she comments on a characteristic of Murakami's writing:

The Fantastic. Interspersed with the seemingly mundane aspects of daily life are moments of magic and utterly bizarre surrealism. Again, Murakami succeeds in poking that chink in our armour, our Achilles heel – which is love of the supernatural, and the otherwordly. How else could readers bear to read page after page about Coca Cola, and The Beatles, and jazz cafes, and downtown Shibuya/Shinjuku (though in 1Q84 it’s more Janacek’s Sinfonietta and Remembrance of Things Lost/Past - i.e. the elusive Marcel Proust), and how to prepare the perfect grilled mackaron with grated daikon radish, and miso soup with tofu and littlenecks and green onions, and cucumber slices with wakame seaweed in vinegar.

So, while I'm working on finishing this epic, I've also found something else that interests me for this challenge - Alex Kerr's 'Lost Japan'. See this review.

Any other suggestions? preferably shorter books?

Monday, October 1, 2012

September Bliss

I'm back and I'm in a state of bliss. I've just had a wonderful couple of weeks in the middle of the India Ocean visiting Christmas Island and the Cocos Keeling Islands.
Christmas Island is a larger more active island - where fishing, bush walking and kyaking where everyday activities for me, and Cocos Keeling was a place for me to stop, watch the hermit crabs and read.
Snorkeling admidst the beautiful coral underworld, and then feeding the sharks, reminded me about my place in the world. Sometimes you can loose track of just how big or small we are in the scheme of things.

So, after much relaxing, unwinding and reflection, I've come home with a refreshed commitment to a quote that's on my fridge:
'Life shrinks and expands in proportion to ones courage' Anaias Ninn
and as one friend reminds me: 
Carpe Diem and YOLO!
(you only live once)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Paris in July Final Wrap Up - 2012

Wow, wow and more wow! This years Paris in July has been an absolutely awesome event - and it's all because of you! Thanks so much for participating, visiting and travelling to Paris in July with us.

This final wrap up has been both exciting and challenging for me - so many posts to review. I really wanted to honour everyones contributions and recongise the effort. So here's my summary of as many posts as I could get to. (I'm sorry this will be a long post - please read to the end to see this weeks winner).

Book Reviews:
 Poetry, Music or Film Reviews
Photos and Travel Posts:
Cooking and Food Posts:
So, in summary, many of us enjoyed revisiting or sharing photo's from recent and not so recent trips to Paris. Thank you all for sharing those great photo stories. A few of us enjoyed sharing some video and music clips. Thank you to those who did, and I encourage everyone else to learn how to do that, because listening to your music has been a joy while I've been reviewing all these posts. Book reviews rated high amongst this years participants - particularly Metrostop Paris, Le Road Trip and Bonjour Tristesse. On the film front - Midnight in Paris gained some attention this year - and why not? it's such a lovely reminder of all things Paris.

Everyone is a winner, but I promised to pick one post from this last week to get alittle prize, and it's come down to those with ** and Lil Bit Brit's discovery of Paris in 1900 was the pick of the bunch this week. So Congratulations Christy, drop me an email (found on my About page).

Until next years Paris in July - a la prochaine!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Paris in July 2012 - Wrap up is on its way!

Bonjour mes amis! Je suis desole parce que je suis en retard ......

I wanted to let you all know that the Paris in July 2012 wrap up is on its way. So far I've located more that 30 reviews from the last week, and it's just taking me a little while to get through them all.  We've been overwhelmed with the responses this year, and it's been a blast - une joie!

Si vous avez un post recent - please leave the link here if you have made a late entry in Paris in July..

I'll return soon with the wrap up :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Paris in July - Random Prizes!

I've been strolling through some of this weeks Paris in July Posts, and I've decided to award another 'Random Prize' and some early commendations for this weeks posts. We've got a few days left in this great month of July - so there's still time to post something new to finish off the month long event. I'll be doing the round up post at the end of the month, while we wait to hear if Baby Bookbath has arrived.

So today's 'Random Prize' goes to Alex in Leeds for this book review on The Homemade Life. I want to award a prize to this post because it is such an honest review of an interesting book. If you're into foodie books, or romance it seems, you might like to check out Alex's post. I like what Alex highlights about this book - its about a woman who makes a choice to change her life for something she's passionate about, it's about a woman who uses her blog to progress her passions, and it's about food and Paris. So you think it should have all the right ingredients... still Alex gave an honest review.

Other commendations from me on posts this week:
So, Congratulations Alex in Leeds. Send me an email with a postal address and I'll send out a little surprise!

Now, with only 4 days to go, don't forget to post a link to your posts either here at Thyme-for-tea or at Bookbath.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Place de la comedie, Montpellier
Montpellier is a lovely French city in the south, pres de la plage. I thought I would post a few photo's and memories from here because I'm in need of some summertime memories.

My partner and I went to Montpellier in August 2011 for 2 weeks of french language lessons and we loved it. I think we would both say this was one of those 'once in a life time' holidays that will be etched in our memories for ever.

Some interesting stats about Montpellier
Cost of living in Montpellier :
Expresso : 1,5 €
Fresh drinks : 2,5€
Sandwiches : 3,5€
Baguette : 0,80€
Cinema : 6-10€
Restaurant : 15€
Big Mac: 3,40€
Monthly Bus and Tramway card: 43€ (-26 years old : 32€)

There's alot of interesting things about Montpelier - something for everyone. Check out the city's website here for more details. But for me, what did I love?

I loved staying in an apartment for 2 weeks and living there. I loved waking in the morning and taking a stroll or going for a jog through the university grounds and through many of Montpelier's gardens. I loved the routine of walking to school with my partner, getting coffee from the same place each day, and learning french in a  typically french 100+ year old three story building with a circular stairwell. I loved going into the Place de la Comedie each day for morning tea and lunch, sitting with other students and practicing french with our cafe staff.

I loved the shopping in Montpelier! so easy to get lost roaming through the old and new city shops, being surrounded by the history that is Europe. I really enjoyed my afternoon walks, discovering a new gallery, a new church, all the hidden little court yard cafes.

In the evenings, we adored sitting out in one of Montpelier's may restaurant area's and eating and drinking until our bodies cried out for bed. Then off to the next day of adventure - bike riding, swimming, shopping, markets, movies and more.

Being in a university city, and going to school with other adults from around the world was also a wonderful experience. Always something to learn from others. We also had company for any possible excursion - galleries, historic walks or just going to dinner.

In memory of Montpelier !

Monday, July 16, 2012

Paris in July - Week 2 Wrap Up

Voila! Here it is - your wrap up for week 2, and what a week it's been in our blogging event! We have, I think at last count, over 45 participants in this years event - and it seems like that number is growing each week. It's so exciting what people are choosing to with Paris in July.

Now, I have to apologise, because my work is consuming so much more of my time that I like, it means that i haven't had time to visit and comment on everyones blogs - but I have been to some 30 something posts in the past few days and I'm impressed. So I'm going to wrap up with a quick summary of some of the different posts we've seen, I'll make some recommendations for posts that you must check out, and of course, I like to choose a prize winner...

Book Review Posts
- Sarah's Key, by Lil Bit Brit
- Tender is the Night, by Lakeside Musings
- Chocolat, by Bookbath
- L'Assommoir, Zola, by Books and Chocolate
- Three books about Paris, by Words and Peace
- Death of a Detective, by a Hot Cup of Something
- Paris in Colour, by Dolce Bellezza - ******Highly Recommended Post
- The Last Asset, by Books as Food

Film Review Posts
- a film about Mozarts Sister, by My Spring Snow
- Seraphine, by Ripple Effects  ******Highly Recommended Post
- 400 Blows, by CB James

Photo Stories
-  several photo posts by Chocolate and Croissants, including this one, Le Creperie
- Literary Relish
- Temptations by Paris and Beyond
 - daily photo posts by Paris through my lens
- Le Tour Eiffel, by The Marmalade Gypsy
- Photo's from Paris by a readers footprints   ******Highly Recommended Post

Travel Blogs
- have you ever visited the animal cemetery in Paris? Bibliolathas did.  ******Highly Recommended Post
- Bastille Day memories, by Letters from a Hill Farm

Cooking Reviews
- 14 Julliet and memories of eating, by And Anyways

- 10 most delicious French Cheeses, by Bea's Knees   ******Highly Recommended Post
- the Little Paris Kitchen, by Anglers Rest

For me, the winning post this week was the beautiful photo posted by Paris and Beyond on July 12. So, Jeanie if you send me an email, I'll send through your prize!

Again, an awesome week - keep up the interesting posts on Paris. (and I'm sorry If I didn't get to visit you this week, there's still a few more weeks!)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bastille Day 2012

Le quatorze juillet, or Bastille Day Lunch 2012 
Yesterday I had the great pleasure to celebrate Bastille Day with our local Alliance Francaise Group, and my French Class, at a local French Restaurant. 

According to Laura, Bastille Day, the French national holiday, commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on 14 July 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of the absolute and arbitrary power of Louis the 16th's Ancient Regime. By capturing this symbol, the people signalled that the king's power was no longer absolute: power should be based on the Nation and be limited by a separation of powers. It marked the end of absolute monarchy, the birth of the sovereign Nation, and, eventually, the creation of the (First) Republic, in 1792.

Many people attend large-scale public celebrations. These often include; Military and civilian parades, Musical performances, Communal meals, Dances, Balls, Spectacular fireworks displays. There is also always a large military parade in Paris in the morning of July 14.

Sydney Alliance Francaise said, The 14th of July is not any ordinary day, but one of great historic significance that symbolises national pride. It marks the beginning of the French Revolution, the spread of the spirit of popular sovereignty throughout France as The 14th of July is now a red-letter day for French people, a time for commemoration but also a famous Party! 

So What did you do? Here's my photo recount of un petit degoustation.
 French Onion Soup and a mini baked tomato
 Croque Monsieur
 Vin Rouge
 Les Escorgot et Champinions
 Duck a l'orange

 Les Decorations
the view from the Restaurant door to our classic old Post Office.
Qu'avez-vous fait le 14 Julliet?