Saturday, 19 December 2015

Wendy Polisi's Italian Baked Quinoa Casserole - Adapted

Last week as I was perusing internet for quinoa recipes, I found one that included all of my favourite things - meat, cheese and tomatoes!

As the recipe is from American cook and author Wendy Polisi I did have to adapt it a wee bit to reflect Australian ingredients.

The original recipe can be found here.

beef mince
onion, cubed 
zucchini, cubed
red capsicum, cubed
mushrooms, sliced
tomatoes, cubed
cooked quinoa
fresh garlic
cheddar cheese, grated
red wine vinegar, 
olive oil

olive oil
red wine vinegar
dried basil
minced garlic
cherry tomatoes, halved

I don't really follow recommended amounts, I guestimate a lot with my ingredients, although I did use 500g of mince.

* over a medium high heat, add olive oil, onions, zucchini, capsicum, mushrooms to a frypan (I used one with high sides) cook for around 5 minutes.
* add mince, and cook until brown. You may want to drain the mince before adding the next ingredients.
* add half - 2/3 bottle of passata, tomatoes, red wine vinegar, oregano, pepper and salt. I cooked all this together until the sauce was bubbling.

* in a separate bowl, combine quinoa with mozzarella and the rest of the passata.
* pour the mince mixture into a oven safe dish. Top with the quinoa mixture, and top it all with grated cheese.

I followed Wendy' directions with the Fresh Tomato Topping, although I replaced the fresh basil with dried and added spinach.

I'm hoping it will taste as good as it smells and looks, but of course, the real test is if my mum will eat it!
update: Mum didn't like the quinoa aspect, but I have had 3 separate servings of it! Yum!

> All vegetables and fruit (hello tomato!) were bought fresh this morning from my local Farm Direct Market

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Psychic Fair

Last weekend a close community hall held a Wellness and Spiritual Fair which Mum and I decided to head down to.

I've always been fascinated with the idea of 'psychics' and Mum has been to a few which are apparently spot on, so I chose one (who seemed to be the fairly priced and didn't have much of a waiting time). 

The particular lady I saw used Intuition Cards along with Angel Cards.
 Armed with Mum's sage advice - 'don't tell her anything, let her do the 'seeing'' I sat down and shuffled, shuffled, shuffled. The clairvoyant laid my cards out for me.
 Everything that she said could be relayed back to what I want to do with my life - I was quite happy that she came out with 'are you looking at moving out of home? Quite far away? It looks like it's going to happen, but it may be put on hold for a bit.'   Sorry Mum, looks like I will be moving back to England!

After the cards were read, you get an opportunity to ask the angels a particular question. I asked if I would ever get married and have babies? (Because at 25 I'm clearly on the shelf)... and the Yes card came up! *Disclaimer - I'm currently missing the key ingredient of the baby making recipe, but Mum was happy to know that she would (eventually) get some grand-kids to look after out of me! 

While I was watching my future unfold, Mum was experiencing Reiki. 

Reiki is the healing technique where the healer 'channels' energy into the patient through touch, which activates the natural healing processes of the body restoring both physical and emotional well-being. It looked pretty relaxing. 

The Fair also had a few stalls of natural remedies, as well as other types of healing therapies. 

Bee Natural -  a range of products made from organic honey

A collection of spritzes to help with physical and emotional well-being

Drum healing

It was a good day to learn a bit about the more spiritual side of healing and all the stall owners and the event runners were absolutely lovely and I am enjoying my new products. 

> The next event held at the John McVeity Centre is this Saturday, 28th November which is a Xmas Market. 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Cambodia - Choeung Ek and S-21

I had heard of Pol Pot before visiting Cambodia, but only in a general sense. I had no idea of the extent of the atrocities that he and his Khmer Regime committed.

3 kilometres from the capital of Phnom Penh lies the killing fields of Choeung Ek.

Over a million people were murdered, men and women, old and young, Khmer, Viet Cong and foreign.

There are 129 mass graves in the former orchard.

The bodies that have been exhumed have been placed in a Buddhist Stupa on the site to commemorate those that have died and also in the hope that one day DNA testing can be undertaken.

Mothers were made to watch as the Khmer Rouge cadres smashed the heads of their babies against the trunk of a tree and then were raped before having their throats cut with a palm stem or bashed with an iron bar.

Afterwards, both mother and baby were buried in a mass grave close to the Killing Tree, naked.

Nearly all of those that were murdered at Choeung Ek were prisoners detained in Security Prison 21, also known as Toul Sleng.

S-21 was a detention centre in the heart of Phnom Penh. 

Barbed wire around 3 storey buildings to stop suicides

Prisoners tied upside down. When they lost consciousness, they would be dipped in stagnant water 

The rules of the prison

Individual cell. 

There were 7 known survivors of S-21, two of who now stay at the museum in an effort to tell the new generation the atrocities that they survived.

Chum Mey, survived 12 days of torture, including being electrocuted and having his big toe nail ripped out.

Today, tour guides will not answer specific questions about those in power during the regime in public as a lot of those involved in the Khmer government are still, or have family members, involved in government today.

* I visited Choeung Ek and S-21 as part of my Cambodia Discovery tour with Intrepid Travel.  Both sites can be visited by tuktuk from Phnom Penh. 

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Salzburg, Austria

The unfortunate occurrence of my visa ending has to have some kind of silver lining, right?

Of course there is! Something that pretty much all those my age do these days - TRAVEL!

I had a couple free weeks before the start of my Asia trip so where better to spend my time than in the relaxing city of Salzburg before the more happening cities of Hannover and Berlin.

I took the cheap option and flew into Linz to take the train to Salzburg. The trains were a bit of good luck, had a whole train compartment to myself! It was very Harry Potter-esque.

I checked in to my hostel, YoHo International Hostel and had a quick nap after arranging dinner with a fellow traveller I had connected with on Facebook.

We had a lovely Austrian dinner before buying a cheap bottle of wine each and making our way up to Hohensalzburg Fortress. We sat on the fortress wall, playing our drinking games, watching the sunset over Salzburg.

It was such a lovely view and then the rains came! Luckily, the rain only lasted as long as the wine did! 

Luckily, the next day saw the sun shining brightly and a short walk bring the sweat on!  Unfortunately I had not looked at the extended weather forecast, otherwise I would have made more of the sun on Wednesday instead of making use of my bed for a nap! 

Thursday I woke up early to go on a tour to the Eagle's Nest. 
The Eagle's Nest was built high up on a mountain in the 1930s as a present for Hitler's 50th birthday. It was purely for conferences and Hitler only visited around 10 times. 

Unfortunately, I thought the actual building wasn't worth the price, but the view is absolutely to die for (and 6 - 8 people did die during construction).

Even on the rainy, cloudy day I went the mountains are magnificent to view. And I even met a lovely couple from Adelaide up there!

Thursday night had me back at the same restaurant, Zum Eulenspiegel with a bloke from the hostel. They have their own gluten free menu so I had some Austrian cuisine options. Unfortunately the rain stopped us from exploring Salzburg Old Town at night so we made our way back to the hostel for the nightly viewing of Sound of Music. 
I had to have a refresher of the songs as on Friday morning I was on another tour, this time to the different locations of Salzburg that are featured in the film.

We drove past the Von Trapp villa, the lake in the boating scene, the gazebo and the church in Mondsee where the wedding took place as well as the different locations featured in the 'Do Re Mi' song.

Typically, the sun had to come out and stop the rain AFTER the tour had ended. I made the most of it and wandered into the Old Town where I stumbled across a fresh food market! Score! No more paying €3.50 for breakfast! And the size of the strawberries! I'm pretty sure they were bigger than my nephew's head when he was born! 
Luckily, the fresh fruit, cheese and ham have sustained me all today as I have been cooped up inside the hostel due to the miserable weather.

Hopefully Germany will bring out the sunshine for me on Monday. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Time Flies

Today is my last full day of work. After tomorrow's half day that will be the end of my time working during this stint of my stay in the United Kingdom. 

As an Australian, aged between 18 - 30 I am lucky enough to qualify for a Tier 5 Working Holiday Visa. 
The visa entitles you to work and live in the United Kingdom for a period of two years. You are also able to leave and enter the country multiple times. 

In the last two years I have been able to travel to 19 different countries and many more cities. I've had the opportunity to skydive in the Swiss Alps, hot air balloon over Cappodoccia, tubing in Turkey, experience an ANZAC Dawn Service on the Gallipoli Peninsula, see The Backstreet Boys in London's Hyde Park, ride a camel in Tunisia, be a supporter at the first Invictus Games and visit Auschwitz Death Camp in Poland.

I've also had the chance to live on both the east and west sides of London and try my hand at a few different jobs, from call centres, waitressing and bar tending to live in care work.

With my last 3 days of my 2 year stint in the UK I will be (finally) stepping on to the tourist trap that is the London Eye and catching up with friends - not to mention packing! So much packing!

On Tuesday morning I start out on another adventure, exploring the sights of Salzburg and Germany before spending just under a month in Asia before stepping my feet back on Australian soil! 

Monday, 1 June 2015

Capela Dos Ossos - Alcantarilha

As part of my job I was lucky enough to go to Portugal last month with one of my clients (I work as a live-in carer - not an escort!) and two of his friends. 

We stayed in a lovely apartment just on the outskirts of Lagos that was decked out with all the equipment that we could need. Hazel and Bryn, the owners of Funchal Ridge, recommended many places in the Algarve to visit. We decided to follow them up on the recommendation of Capela Dos Ossos in the small town of Alcantarilha. 

We skipped the new main motorway and stuck to the old highway (got to keep away from those tolls!) following directions from a road map!

We came of the highway and straight on to tight, cobblestoned roads.

As well as the map we had the use of phone GPS as we weren't entirely sure of the exact location of the Chapel. We came to a T-junction and followed the GPS and a very vague sign and ended up 5km away in a little village that seemed to be closed for siesta. Executing a quick u-turn, turns out the Chapel was where the T-junction was!

Looking up to the main church in Alcantarilha

The Chapel is situated behind the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição and was constructed in the 16th Century and built on the site of the old church cemetery. 

The interior is lined with skulls and thigh bones of dead parishioners. 


The Chapel is about 4m x 4m and the doorway is barred so that the bones can not be stolen. 
 A crucifix of Jesus Christ is placed high on the back wall. 




I personally didn't find the Chapel eerie or scary, but that could have been due to the sunlight streaming through the doors behind me. 

We ended up having dinner with my client's family near Carvoeira and didn't arrive back to Lagos until after dark. 

Despite the cold night air that had come in, the darkness worked in our favour as we found this beauty in the middle of a roundabout coming through Lagos. 

Massive chairs!

Of course we had to take a few photos of them!


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Turtle Bay

So anyone that has access to either my Facebook or Instagram accounts will know how much I love food. Cooking it, eating it, photographing it. Food in general.

Last month a couple of friends and I discovered Turtle Bay. The thing that attracting us in the first place had to be the 2 4 1 Cocktails Happy Hour (I swear we're not alcoholics!). But it wasn't just any Happy Hour. It was a SEVEN HOUR HAPPY HOUR!


The decor was warm and inviting, a 'beach hut' served as the bar and the kitchen was placed in a shipping container at the back of the restaurant. The bathrooms continued with the same hip scene.


Turtle Bay have a really good allergen menu. It was colour coded between meat, vegetarian and vegan and all the allergens in each dish were marked. Super easy to find what was gluten free. 
After a morning of shopping on a bit of a hangover I wasn't feeling all that hungry so opted for the Goats Chesse, Aubergine and Butternut Salad

I did think it was a bit weird that it came with a side of watermelon, but it added a refreshing burst of flavour after the spicy chickpeas. 

We had wonderful food, amazing cocktails and great service from our waitress. 

Turtle Bay can be found at 16 High Street, Ealing, London. It's open from 1130 till midnight with Ealing Common being the closest tube station and Ealing Broadway Train Station. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Pierre Lemond Photo Shoot

For Christmas I bought my room-mate Cara a photo shoot at Pierre Lemond Photography

She did her shoot the week before last and had the opportunity to put a few names down for their own free shoot, including make-up and hair, including me. 

I organised my own for today and was able to take along a friend. I asked Emily and she was free.

They recommend to take 4-5 different outfits, ranching from casual to evening and anything in between.

On arrival Em and I were given a sheet to fill out with our details and how we would like our hair and make-up - natural, sexy, casual. 'Naturally sexy' was our choice. 

The lady who did my make-up and hair was amazing! She did a great job and was really friendly. 

We were offered some refreshments too, so started the afternoon with a glass of white wine. Of course a sneaky Snapchat had to be taken.

With each outfit we got both single shots and some together. 

My favourite of Emily and me

Our photographer was a blast and talked us through different poses and how much he preferred H&M to Primani (Primark). 

Due to being referred by Cara, we each received a free photo of our choice plus a £25 discount on photo packages, and I also had another £60 for the deposit I laid down. 

We ended up getting a package together as it worked out to be a lot cheaper. 

Pierre Lemond Photography is situated at 374 Old Street, EC1V 9LT, a 5 minute walk from Old Street Tube Station.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Dinner at Work - Cauliflower Pizza

Looking for a healthy, gluten-free alternative to Pizza Hut or Dominos?
Look no further than your own kitchen! 

I've cooked this cauliflower pizza recipe a few times for my clients, and every single one of them love it!

1 whole cauliflower
mozzarella ball
1- 2 eggs

(This one is entirely up to you!)

tomato paste
capsicum (aka red pepper)

Preheat the oven to 200 Celsius

Grate the cauliflower into a bowl

Put the cauliflower into the microwave for about 7 minutes until the
cauliflower is soft

(alternatively, you can spread the cauliflower over an over tray and roast for 15 minutes at 180 Celsius - try and drain as much moisture out as you can once it is cool enough to touch)

In a mixing bowl, combine the mozzarella, cauliflower and egg together (if you think one egg isn't enough, crack the other one in as well)
*You can add salt and pepper to taste if wanted*

Spread the base out over an oven tray, trying to get it as even as possible

Pop it in the oven for around 20 minutes or until you get a nice golden colour

Now it's time for the toppings!

Once they're all on top and looking fantastic, put it back in the oven for another 15 - 20 minutes

Plate up and scoff it down!

* I first got this recipe from my mate Mrs BFH at

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Jersey Boys

A couple weeks ago a few friends and I found a great deal on Groupon - tickets to Jersey Boys for £30 each! 

To be honest, I really had no idea what this was about, just that it was a musical and that I may know *some* songs. 

Missing one of the posse, four of us met up earlier for a bit of deliciousness. 

This plate of mouthwatering meat feast was found at Jamie Oliver's Diner in Picadilly.

Luckily for me I could actually eat the ribs as they were gluten free! 

According to Cara, our house rib expert, these babies are rated 3.5 out of 5 (apparently Wetherspoons do better - sorry Jamie!) This was because they were more spicy and less saucy, so it really depends on the individual. 

Being the punctual people that we are (besides Chantelle who had to trek from work on the opposite side of the city) after dinner we still had an hour before the show started.

What to do in Central London to kill time? Go to the pub of course! We met up with Chantelle on the way back to the theatre (the 10 metre walk from the pub) so unfortunately she missed out on a cheeky pint.

Jersey Boys is the story behind the 50/60s quartet The Four Seasons, mainly concentrating on the frontman Frankie Valli.

I was surprised at how many of the songs that I actually knew! I think the old bloke sitting next to me was getting a little (read: a lot) annoyed as Cara and I were singing along with the guys on stage. 

How can you not sing along to this classic?

Although I may have thought that it was a relatively new tune by the Bubes (Michael Buble)  *hangs head in shame*

As well as the singing, the actors were really good and believable, although it did take a little while to get used to the (assuming) faux Jersey accents. 

From left: me, Cara, Emily, Cushla and Chantelle

We got very lucky with our tickets, we weren't able to select them online, so were at the mercy of the Piccadilly Theatre. 

 After climbing many, many, many stairs we reached the very top circle - it's very Grand - and were directed to our seats.
The very front row!

Jersey Boys is on at the Picadilly Theatre, Denman Street, London. 

Monday, 30 March 2015

Bogan Bingo

I finally got around to going to this Aussie London staple - Bogan Bingo! 
with the added bonus of the Shitty Disco afterwards. 

The Bingo is hosted by these two legends:

The main prize was limited edition photo of two pandas trying to have sex. Second prize was a 9 day trip to Egypt with Travel Talk. On the left of that photo is the 'Bogan Board', with each photo of a famous bogan hiding a prize. 
Other prizes included a One Direction calendar (not updated), a dustpan and brush, a box of condoms and a 'drinking bib'. 

Unfortunately no one from my group was lucky enough to win anything. 
We did get the chance to dress up though! Theme was Trailor Park Fashion or Single and Sexy in 1986. 

Bogan Bingo is held every Thursday at the Slug in Fulham and Shitty Disco every two months or so.
Tickets can be found here

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Victoria and Albert Museum

With some free time on my hands today, I took the advice from one of the girls from the Facebook group London Bloggers and ventured down to South Kensington to explore the Victoria and Albert Museum.

If you don't know who old Vicky and Bert are you probably a) live under a rock or b) live in a country that has no ties to Great Britain. Queen Victoria is the longest reigning female monarch (63 years) in history and Prince Albert was her husband (also her first cousin too! Ewww).

There is a bit of a range of of exhibitions, from glassware to fashion to antiquities from all over the world.

The change in fashions after the Great War was led by Coco Chanel.

Wandering further through the museum I came upon this great find in the China Exhibit. 

It's an ancient Chinese esky!! (ice chest)

There is so much to explore at the V&A, from limited exhibits to the more permanent ones such as Japanese, Chinese, Medieval Europe and glass!




The Victoria and Albert Museum is located in Kensington, with the nearest tube station being South Kensington. Admittance is free but they do ask for a £4 donation for upkeep.