We were supposed to spend the first half of June in the Northern Territory and South Australia, but ended up being restricted to a 5km radius from our house instead. Lockdown 4.0. So the month started off pretty bad, but I tried to make the most of it.

Instead of watching the Melbourne Demons vs Brisbane Lions game at Traegar Park in Alice Springs, NT, we watched it at home in our freezing house. :'( Dees won though. And we had delicious sushi bowls.

I had two weeks booked off work but cancelled the first week and worked instead. We were in strict lockdown so there wasn’t much I could do anyway. I actually got pretty depressed. It was just extremely frustrating that I was back at work, not on holiday, couldn’t reschedule the holiday, couldn’t go to the gym, couldn’t plan my training, couldn’t see my friends, couldn’t look forward to anything.

So I decided I needed a project.

I used that quiet week at work to plan and gather supplies for the following week.

My Saturday gym sessions currently have two exercises from blocks: block snatch and block cleans. I am very lucky that I can train in our garage, but I didn’t have blocks, which meant that I have to do the exercises from a hang position instead. I HATE HANG SNATCHES SO MUCH. Enough that I decided that I wanted to make my own blocks for home.

Originally I was going to make very simple criss-cross ones like I’d seen on the internet, but 1) I wanted to them to have two height options, and 2) I calculated that it would need around $150 worth of wood. So I emailed dad to ask if I could make them without the center supports because I don’t actually lift that much weight. He wrote back with a few questions and then 24 hours later he’d made me a brand new design in OpenSCAD! I could edit the dimensions to what is available here and it even generated a list of supplies. Very cool. Thanks dad. The new plan only used about $70 of wood!

It took me three afternoons to put them together, but I honestly found it very satisfying (other than stripped screws, which was remedied by replacing my screwdriver bit). I had fun using my new drop saw and circular saw, and didn’t even lose any fingers. Thanks dad for reminding me of when mom had to go to the hospital after a drop saw accident at the cottage AFTER I had finished cutting all of the pieces.

They work great! They nestle together perfectly and they don’t bounce or move at all. I’m very happy. I’ll probably add strips on the top to stop the bar from rolling off when I’m not holding it. I only used them one time so far though because the gym re-opened the next week lol. But there is covid in NSW at the moment so it’s probably just a matter of time before we are back in lockdown again. :/

Hide The Pain Harold Katrina.

If you’re in lockdown and don’t bake bread, DID YOU EVEN LOCKDOWN?

I made this bread with leftover whey instead of water, because the internet told me you could do that. But it tasted weird, I don’t think I would do it again. Or at least I would use 1/2 whey and 1/2 water.

Another lockdown cooking project: beef bourguignon. It took 3 days!!! And an entire bottle of wine!!! But it was dang delicious, and made like 8 servings, so in the end I think it was worth it.

One very good piece of news was that my citizenship test didn’t get cancelled. At that point we were allowed to go 25km from home and I guess they decided that it was essential enough that they could let the immigration officers work in the office.

They told me it would take 2 hours, and I had to bring in all sorts of documents. But the dude only asked for my passport and drivers license and I was out of there in 15 minutes, including doing the test TWO TIMES… because I failed the first time….. OOPS. (I got 95% but I failed one of the essential questions because apparently I am a monarchist. I got 100% the second time btw.)

So I spent a couple hours wandering the quiet city with my camera. I went to the Lululemon outlet, got bubble tea, borek, and popped into a whole bunch of shops too. It’s a good thing I didn’t get covid because my exposure site list would have been very long, haha. Most of my pictures didn’t turn out very well. I am definitely still learning how to use my camera.

I’m back. Let’s catch up.

Our March #smaj activity was clay target shooting in Carrum Downs. I was worried about it! I don’t think I have very good hand-eye coordination, and I’d never even touched a gun before. But it was actually super fun! I did better than Scott!

We got to do three rounds. In the first round, they shot one target at a time and they told you where it was going to come out. In the second round they shot two, but told us where they would come out from. And in the third round they also shot two, but you didn’t know where they would come from. I think I got about 70% of my targets which is WAY higher than I would have guessed.

The guy standing next to me in the picture who ran the whole thing went to the Commonwealth Games! Maybe it’s a new hobby for me when I retire from weightlifting. :D

We went to a AFLW game. We got to see the goal of the year!

Terrible picture but Da Boys came over for lunch and games. We played Tiny Towns and Camel Up, and ate sausages and mac and cheese.

I was doing regular, uneventful back squats and thought “Hmm, my finger feels kinda weird” and then watched it turn purple right before my eyes! I must have burst a blood vessel or something?

Waiting after jab #1. My work got us vaccines very early. We all thought we were category 1B, but we got them nearly straight away with category 1A. We got AstraZeneca, then literally the next day they started having all these news articles about how you could get blood clots and they were going to stop using the vaccine in many parts of the world. Felt great man. But we all survived (so far) and I’m due for my second dose this week.

It has been reassuring being half vaccinated while still seeing lots of patients, many of whom are immuno-compromised. (And also don’t wear their masks properly.)

Just a random tasty meal. Honey gochujang baked salmon with green beans and rice.

Other things not pictured:

  • Scott played A LOT of lawn bowls. He got promoted to the club first team, and they made it to the finals.
  • He also made it to the grand final in his basketball league.
  • We had a few family lunches.
  • We went to this progressive dinner thing in Kew where we had entree, main, and dessert at different restaurants within walking distance. I didn’t take any pictures but it was fun. We ate so many different things and also way too much.
  • We started pottery class. I think I’ll make that into its own post.

Lockdown cooking has been fun, to be honest. We have been eating well.

Homemade sushi with salmon, steamed yam, cucumber, avocado, cream cheese.

Rice paper rolls with shrimp, rice vermicelli, tons of vegetables, cilantro and mint. Dipped in the most tasty peanut sauce.

Scott made this for me after seeing it on Facebook… a KFC popcorn chicken pizza with corn and gravy. LOL.

Scotch eggs and salad. These were a bit hard to make, but sooo delicious! If I made them again I would try to get smaller eggs so it doesn’t use as much sausage per egg. The sausage stuck to my hands so much and was so hard to get to seal around the egg and do the breading, but somehow they held up well during deep frying and in the end came out great!

Arancini and umm… charred broccolini. The deep frying adventures continue. Scott made the arancini. It took a long time but they were delicious!!

Montreal style bagels. Not linking the recipe because I don’t recommend that particular one. I don’t like the bagels in this country much so I have to make my own. Still needs some work.

A quarantine classic, although not sourdough, just regular no-knead bread.

Kouign-Amann. This took me EIGHT HOURS. It wasn’t actually that hard, but the whole process was like “do one fold, roll, then chill for 30 minutes”. It was the one day I was happy that our house is never hotter than 15 degrees…. perfect for laminating pastry.

Scott made Arnott’s Monte Carlos. Yum. Did they ever release the Kingston recipe?

Raspberry cheesecake muffins. They don’t look that hot in the picture but these were SOOOOOO GOOD. I’m coming around on cooked fruit. These muffins have a cream cheese filling and a super delicious crumble topping. I think I’ll make more of these v soon.

Almond Brittle and Salted Chocolate Ganache ice cream. I’ve written a lot about Salt & Straw ice cream. We once drove all the way from Vancouver to Seattle for ice cream. Then a couple months ago I realized that Salt & Straw might have a recipe book. I looked it up and yes they did, and wow it was available at the shopping centre right around the corner from us here in Melbourne. Shortly after I’m making batches of brittle and ganache and making my all-time favourite ice cream at home. And it’s perfect and delicious and I am so happy.

Scott made Boston Cream doughnuts. Don’t they look awesome!?!

Scott made more doughnuts for the one time we were allowed to have a family gathering. White chocolate glazed, and filled with passionfruit curd.

Myles approved.

We had quite a busy start to the year! A lot of our spare time was taken up by preparing to move and moving but we still squeezed in plenty of fun stuff as well.

As is becoming tradition, we started 2020 by going to the beach on January 1 for a swim in the ocean. It wasn’t as hot as last year but plenty warm enough to jump off the pier and paddle around for a bit. It was nice to lie under our sunshade and read too.

We went to the local T20 derby. It was freezing. And kind of boring. I do not want to see good bowlers! I want to see bad bowling!!

I can’t walk to work any more so I bought an electric bike from Aldi. :D It is so fun, I really love it. It takes away all the parts I hated about biking and leaves all the fun parts. I can get to work in 20 minutes without getting sweaty! It can go 50km on one charge, and helps me go 25 km/hr (after that you’re on your own).

Noah’s parents went on holiday for their anniversary so he stayed with us for a night. Him and Scott played a lot of Fortnight, and I took him to my gym. One of the coaches showed him how to squat and deadlift and stuff. Jono was in town as well so we met up with him and some friends in the city for more T20 cricket. Which was also quite boring. That’s three times I’ve been recently and none of them have been particularly interesting. I’m really starting to think even big bash is not really that exciting.

We had the craziest hail storm I’ve ever seen. The pictures don’t do it justice because those chunks on the pavement are ones that have already smashed/melted. The hail was the size of pool balls!! I was so worried that the windows of the car would break since it was just parked on the street. Scott ran out to throw some blankets/towels over the car which helped a lot but we still ended up with three monster dents on the hood and one above the door. UGH. There was SO much damage to all the cars in our suburb.

Plus I think it cracked some of the roof tiles (we told the landlords/have moved out now so… not my problem..). We found out about that because Melbourne had BROWN RAIN for a couple days after for some reason (YAY CLIMATE CHANGE). This brown rain really highlighted the leak by staining the walls and carpet as it flowed into the house.

The hail was super localised so our new house appears to be completely fine btw.

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I started to feel very sick that weekend but still went to work on Monday because Scott’s January #SMAJ activity was corporate tickets to the Australian Open on Monday night and I felt like I couldn’t call in sick and then go to the tennis. So I suffered through a day of work, then went to the tennis, which was probably a terrible idea. To make it worse it was POURING RAIN and I got 100% soaked from waist down (I did have my good coat on) on the way there.

The tennis was very cool though. Thanks Telstra! We got to have a great meal and then watched Ash Barty’s match and Novak Djokovic’s match. We had to leave before Novak was finished winning though because I was a disgusting snotty mess and I was running out of tissues and felt terrible for everyone around me. I ended up staying home from work and sleeping for two days straight after that.

Settlement day was uneventful. Almost too uneventful. We really had no idea if anything was happening. But eventually in the afternoon we got an email that said everything had gone through and I could go to the real estate office to pick up the keys to the new house. Hooray! Our mortgage showed up in our online banking as well which is very confronting every time I open the app.

We didn’t move in straight away though because we were going camping that weekend with some friends. I really don’t recommend doing that unless you love checklists a lot. It all turned out pretty well though with minimal mistakes. I’ll leave our camping trip to another post.

When we got back from camping I did a quick pop-in at my weightlifting club’s annual bbq while Scott unpacked the car at the new house. Then we packed all the last minute stuff at the old house and disassembled the beds and moved everything to the garage.

Moving day went well! My obsessive preparations were worth it. I used the same el cheapo Gumtree movers we used the last couple times and they managed to fit in 98% of our stuff in one truck load while Scott and I chilled in the garage. It only took 2.5 hours and came out way cheaper than I budgeted. Unpacking took much much much longer.

THREE OTHER RANDO JANUARY THINGS:

1. They renovated the gym a bit and now the ladies have a much bigger change room with a sweet giant mirror!

2. We played a few more games of Castles of Burgundy. It’s pretty fun although we still don’t really know what we’re doing. I would like to try playing with 3 or 4 players. *COUGH ROSEMARIE GET YOUR BUTT OVER HERE COUGH*

3. These bean and cheese enchiladas were quite tasty.

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