OK well I didn’t blog much this year… let’s just do a quick recap of this year and move on…..

The year started off great, we moved into our own house, went camping with friends, and training was going well leading up to the first competition of the year. We had a really nice visit with Kyla and then… everything got cancelled.

Scott had to go down to reduced work hours, and I started training alone in the cold cold garage. At first lockdown was ok, we played all the board games! Cooked all the foods! Did online trivia! Watched Ben Folds live on Youtube every weekend! Life was cozy and novel. An introverts dream.

A couple of months of lockdown worked enough that they started to relax the restrictions. We had a few weeks of freedom. Scott’s work went back to normal. We saw our friends. We had family dinner. We went out for brunch. We planned some things!

Then cases started rising exponentially and they put us in a very tough lockdown, with a 5km radius restriction and only 1 hour of outside time per day. Cases went down but they kept us locked in. For literally months. It was really hard. I definitely got depressed, especially while seeing the rest of the world frolicking around restriction-free.

Finally, finally after WEEKS of zero new covid cases, they started to let us out. We could have picnics! We could travel further than 5 km! The gym reopened!!!!!!! Cases stayed down and we went back to nearly normal life! We went to Bendigo! We went camping! We don’t have to wear masks! It’s amazing!

This December has actually felt like a normal silly season. Even though I find it really overwhelming I’m trying to do as much as possible while we can because Covid is back in Australia (in Sydney) and we still don’t have vaccine here, and who knows what’s going to happen in January. I made a list of Freedom Goals and we just checked off the last thing last week: buy a new couch (as Rosemarie put it: “we spent so long sitting that our couch was permanently saggy so we bought a couch suitable for old age“). Can’t wait for it to arrive in 19 weeks. :/


Rosemarie’s Questions From Last Year:

PBs: snatch 46 kg -> 47 kg (in the garage, where everything feels 5 kg heavier soooo….), clean & jerk 54 kg -> 55 kg…. which is also not that big of an improvement… but I actually full-cleaned it which is a major major win. I only did one competition this year, last week, without peaking, where I did 42/44/46, and 49/52/55. That was a 3 kg snatch comp PB, a 1 kg clean & jerk comp PB, and a 4 kg total PB… my first time with a 3 digit total (101 kg). Even though my numbers barely went up, I am actually very proud of what I managed to do this year, training alone in the garage for 6 months, more than 110 sessions. I have a new coach since Lockdown 2.0 and it has been working very well. Weightlifting is really good at the moment.

Books: I read a lot this year, to try and relax before bed.

  • The Wonder – Emma Donohue – Intriguing, couldn’t wait to find out what happens, but I thought the ending was just a bit too quick and convenient imo.
  • Such A Fun Age – Kiley Reid – I really liked this book. The main character was just so chill. My favourite line was “May I please have an Uber and a snack?”
  • This Is Going To Hurt – Adam Kay – Silly stories about being a doctor. Amusing, sometimes gave me work flashbacks.
  • Where The Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens – Started off very heartwarming, then got more intense, I enjoyed it.
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara – One of those long books that follows a group of people for a very long time. At times very hard to read, made me feel super uncomfortable, but very good too.
  • Conversations With Friends – Sally Rooney – An interesting book about affairs.
  • The Stand – Stephen King – Extremely long, took me 3 months to finish. The first part was pretty terrible to read during a real life pandemic. Was entertaining but didn’t change my life.
  • Normal People – Sally Rooney – Someone else called it a “profoundly lonely and depressing love story” and I guess I agree with that.
  • Hotels Of North America – Rick Moody – I don’t know who recommended this to me but I thought it was annoying.
  • Eggshell Skull – Bri Lee – A memoir about an Australian lady while she worked as a judge’s associate in all sorts of horrible sexual assault cases, and then her own experience in the Australian justice system

New Board Games:

  • Wingspan – A very pretty game about birds. We love it. We just got the Oceania expansion a couple weeks ago but I haven’t had the mental energy to try it out yet!
  • Orleans + Trade & Intrigue expansion – The base game is ok but it’s much better with the expansion. Unique game with little bags of tokens. I would really like to play this with 3 or 4 players
  • Castles of Burgundy – Fun point salad game with one billion little pieces. I forget how to play every time but once you remember it’s fun again.
  • Tiny Towns – Simple strategic game, the best type! We had a lot of fun playing this with Rosemarie over video chat during lockdown.

Great New Recipes: enh I already posted about the fun things we cooked in Lockdown 1.0, and after that I got depressed and pretty much only made 10 minute simple dinners.

Adventures: ummmm… yeah not really. Everything got cancelled.


2019 Final Thoughts – 2019 was not the most exciting year of my life, but we put in a lot of good work to our future. We did the hard stuff of finding a house, working hard, saving, rehab… and very very soon we get to enjoy the benefits of that. I feel very good about 2020

LOL.

Last Years Goals:

  • More nice foods – yes, we cooked all sorts of crazy delicious things during lockdown 1.0, and also had some fantastic takeaway
  • More rehab – yes, had plenty of time for foam rolling
  • More thrift shops – nope, they were closed/I don’t go to the store ever
  • More art – yes, I did a lot of cross stitching, painting, cartooning
  • More friends – lol nope, didn’t even see my friend who lives around the corner for months because it wasn’t allowed
  • More pictures – nope, barely took any
  • Less worrying – NOPE. worried x 493879348

2020 Finals Thoughts – Super grateful that we had our own comfortable house to lockdown in. Grateful that neither of us lost our jobs. Grateful for my home gym and remote coach. Grateful that the hard work all Victorians did during the winter lockdowns paid off and we actually get to enjoy our summer Covid-free (so far). Come on vaccine. I would really like to see my family again.

Goals For Next Year:

Whatever man. Just survive.

Rosemarie requested that I write about PBs, books I read, new board game reviews, and favourite recipes of 2019, so here I go…

PBs: snatch 41 kg -> 46 kg (in training), clean & jerk 49 kg -> 54 kg. The bigger accomplishment has been fixing my back enough that I can do all movements again! I think my PB potential is very good for 2020.

Books (TBH I’m not sure if I read these in 2019 or earlier but here are the last few books I read):

  • How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie – some of the chapters at the beginning were useful but then it got a bit too religious to me
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt – a long one!! About the lives of a few students. I love really long detailed books if the story/characters/world is interesting
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – again, a pretty long one about a boy who loses his mom and ends up with a priceless painting. They made a movie of it but the book is better
  • This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel – about a boy who wants to be a girl, and a family that loves her. A nice book
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – pretty much the male version of Don Tillman from the Rosie Project, entertaining
  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – in my opinion it’s a corny book about racism written by a white lady for white ladies. :/ I guess that’s better than no book about racism?

New Board Games:

  • Drop It – a very simple but fun game where you try to drop pieces into the right spots to score lots of points
  • Azul – very easy game to teach people, can get brutal when you get stuck with tons of extra pieces
  • 7 Wonders Expansions – fun on the ipad but a bit too much to keep track of irl
  • 7 Wonders Duel – my very favourite two player game, I’m still not tired of it 10/10
  • Agricola All Creatures Big and Small – ok two player Agricola spin-off
  • Camel Up – fun light game, everyone loves the gimicky dice rolling pyramid and the KRAZY KAMELS
  • Jaipur – two player camel betting card game that we got for Christmas… first impressions are good, Scott likes it a lot
  • Puerto Rico – not as hard as Agricola, kinda fun that you get to do stuff even when it’s not your turn
  • Sagrada – quite simple game with NINETY dice, tricky fun
  • Terraforming Mars – very complicated game with lots of pieces, a bit hard to play well but still fun to play even when you don’t really know what’s going on

Great recipes of 2019:

Praline Almonds – I used the recipe in my ice cream book but it’s basically the same as this (except I used almonds). This was one of the craziest things I’ve ever cooked! It magically goes from a pot of watery almonds to a pot of sandy almonds to a pot of candy almonds. Sprinkled with a bit of salt… so delicious.

No Knead Bread in the cast iron pot – so easy!!! I use this recipe. I did try whole wheat once but it didn’t turn out as delicious as pure white.

Dutch Baby! – so visually spectacular, so easy! I’ve made sweet ones with fruit and ice cream toppings, and also savoury ones with smoked salmon, rocket and parmesan. This is my go-to sweet recipe.

Fish Tacos – Coles just started selling corn tortillas so we can make delicious tacos at home, like this easy Pinch of Yum recipe. I’ve made it with basa or shrimp. I love the garlicky sauce.

Adventures:

We didn’t leave the country in 2019. Actually we barely took any days off at all. The good news is we have enough holiday to go to North America in May 2020 AND possibly Fiji for our 10 (!!) year anniversary later in the year too! 2020 is gonna be gooooooood.

We did check out some new places in Victoria/Australia, here are a few highlights:

A very windy 90 Mile Beach in Gippsland.

A relaxing and fun few days of camping/day hiking at Wilson’s Prom.

On platypus watch in the Otways.

Day off at the Peninsula Hot Springs.

Whale watching on North Stradbroke Island.

Final thoughts: 2019 was not the most exciting year of my life, but we put in a lot of good work to our future. We did the hard stuff of finding a house, working hard, saving, rehab… and very very soon we get to enjoy the benefits of that. I feel very good about 2020. 

MORE: art, friends, gains, nice food, pictures

LESS: worrying, Picross

We bought a house!

We went to SO MANY inspections and SO MANY auctions together over the last six months, and then it turned out that Scott would have to go to this one on his own, while I was doing a weightlifting competition. He did great! It was one of our very favourite places out of the dozens and dozens that we looked at, and we stayed in budget. Yay!

The details: it’s a 2 bedroom villa about 3 km from where we are now. The living room/dining room/kitchen area is nice and big and open, and it’s got a 1.5x size garage. Scott can walk to work in 15 minutes, and I can go by bike or a short drive. I can’t wait to see it again irl because all we have at the moment is the real estate listing photos. We move in about a month!

I did not have a very good competition. I was very distracted. I snatched 40x/40/43, and clean and jerked 50/53x/54x. I missed my opening snatch for dumb reasons, which meant I didn’t get to try for any comp PBs even though I’ve done several more kilos in training. And then I got red lights on my last two clean and jerks due to pressouts on the jerks. :(

Besides my mediocre performance it was still a fun day, as the Ian Laurie Cup usually is. My weightlifting club organises it so almost everyone from the club competes, plus some surprise special guests. This year one of the guest lifters was Eileen Cikamatana, a phenom from Fiji who has now switched countries to Australia and is breaking world records left and right. She’s loud and powerful and really nice! It was really cool to see how easily she throws around big weights.

My coach forced me to take a rest week after the comp. I tried to sneak in and train and he told me to go for a walk!! Rude! :P

A friend from weightlifting invited me over to do lino printing. It was fun and he gave me a bunch of tools to do it on my own. Great, another hobby. :D

Us at Kathrine’s wedding in Emerald. It was a lovely day and check out that dessert plate!!

Other unpictured things:

  • Scott’s work put on a screening of Frozen 2 so we took April and Rory (and Jemma and Donna). I thought it was funny how much the kids in the theatre were laughing at the Olaf bits, like literally ROFLing hahahahaaaa.
  • I got to have a fancy spa massage where the lady exfoliated my back and stuff. It was nice and relaxing although maybe not as useful as the grit-my-teeth type remedial massages I usually get haha.
  • Scott got very sick again kinda like in France. He was given antibiotics and ate nothing but boiled vegetable soup for quite a while and eventually got better. We still don’t really know what it was though. :(
  • We had my work Christmas lunch at a restaurant in Kew. I got to have calamari, steak, both the brownie and the pavlova desserts, and a bit too much wine.
  • We went to the Malvern wine festival and saw lots of dronk Malvern ladies.

I have wanted to see whales from land for a long time. I’m always looking, but hadn’t had any luck so I looked up the best places to see them in the world and one of those places happens to be from an island just off the coast from Brisbane. How convenient.

Humpback whales migrate up and down the East coast of Australia every year and pass by very close to the the Eastern point of North Stradbroke Island on the “whale highway”. So I booked an Airbnb right in Point Lookout for a couple nights to maximize our chances of seeing them.

It was a bit of an epic journey to get from Surfers Paradise to Point Lookout by light rail/train/train/taxi/ferry/bus, but it was relatively pleasant.

The first thing we did after dropping our bags off was head out to do the Gorge Walk. We saw whales almost right away! A few blowholes and we even saw a whale swim REALLY close to shore right below us. Another person said that whale had a calf with her but we missed that.

Life goal complete! I was already satisfied.

We walked down to Cylinder Beach to go to what I thought was a pizza restaurant but was actually a food truck in a parking lot. Everyone else was just driving up and getting takeaway but we didn’t have that luxury so instead we ate in the dark on a concrete bollard. The prawn and chorizo pizza was delicious and I didn’t mind the ambience tbh.

Whale!!

We bought some oysters and salmon to eat by the seashore while watching for more whales. We saw SO MANY. Like 25+!! Whales everywhere!! Some of them breached so nicely that we could see the white parts under their mouths. We saw turtles and dolphins too.

Check out those maniacs! They were jumping off the end of the rocks and then swimming back to the beach. Bonkers!

Eventually we decided we saw enough whales and walked down to the RSL for a cheap drink. We still saw even more whales while sitting on the balcony!

We bought some fresh Spanish mackerel and veg on the way back to grill for dinner. So nice. I love seafood so much.

Brunch at the Blue Room to cap off a very relaxing and satisfying couple of days on Straddie. I had avocado toast and Scott had a maple bacon dutch baby. Both were very tasty with a lovely view from the patio. Yes, we even saw a couple more whale spouts while eating.

The Blue Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

About a month ago I had a very bad case of analysis paralysis. As I often do, I frantically messaged Rosemarie.

She helped me solve all my little problems, and also figure out that in general I need to:

  1. Do more new and scary things.
  2. Meet some more people.
  3. Take more advantage of only working part time while it lasts.

Isn’t she wise.

So I did! I’ve got a few new things on the go at the moment.

First I signed up for a picture framing short course through Scott’s mum’s work. I thought it might be useful because all my cross stitch projects come out in random non-standard sizes, and as a result almost all of my finished stitches are rolled up in a box under my bed instead of displayed.

The first class we learned about materials and cut mat boards, second class we cut more mat board bevels, and foam core and mounted things together. This week we cut the wood for our frames and glued them together, and the last week we cut the glass and put everything together. It was fun! I finished two frames. The instructor is very knowledgeable and gave us a lot of info. The tools to do it on my own would be a bit of an investment though.

Have you ever seen 2.5 kg plates before?? Lol.

Second I joined an Olympic weightlifting club. It is very intense and scary there. Everyone is extremely strong. There are people training for the Commonwealth Games and stuff. The first night I went, THIS GUY was there!! He is so awesome. Anyway so now I have a coach who is teaching me snatch and clean and jerk from scratch. It’s very cheap and I can go as much as I want, which is pretty cool. And everyone I’ve met so far has been very friendly. I think it will be good for me to have some goals again, now that I don’t have skeleton in my life. Hopefully I can do some local competitions at some point.

I also thought maybe I could try and cook more elaborate meals? These were homemade pork and shrimp siu mai. They were yum. I got a library card too so I could get a bunch of fancy cookbooks for some new ideas. Any ideas for labour intensive but not cost intensive meals would be very welcomed! (Just typing that out makes me realize that I should make perogies v soon, especially since they don’t really exist here.) (brb crying)

So life is very busy these days. This is good.

Next weekend I’m going to Adelaide for Cassia’s baby shower. I don’t think they actually expected me to accept the invitation but flights were only $33!!! So… YOLO, I’m going.

And then a couple days after that we go to Ottawa!!! We are very excited to escape the cold here and get some quality family/friends/cottage/Canada time in.

PS fish and chip shop deep fried Mars bars are amazing. We shared a few at work the other day. :D