Friday, April 16, 2010

Next Move: Mine

I've been putting in some serious brain hours thinking about what I'm going to do with my upcoming days. Sure, I could stay here and sell bread and attempt to grow vegetables, but I'm beginning to itch for a little education. I'm ready to learn something new.

This is what lead me to China. No, I'm not in China, but I will be (I think.) If I think hard enough about what I know nothing about, the answer 9/10 times is China, Chinese, Chinese history. What's more? It turns out China is a hotbed for teaching English, with or without certification. DING. I'll take a number.

I spend most of my free time now (when I'm not slicing bread or kicking my own hiney at the gym) researching different programs to teach with. It takes a lot of analysis: how much do they pay, who are you teaching, do they provide housing, airfare, health insurance, holidays, etc.? You can literally pick any city you want, if you look hard enough, except that I hardly know what any of the cities are. The sky is literally the limit, though possibly a polluted sky, since China isn't exactly the world capital of clean air. Coincidence that I want to live in another "communist" country? Perhaps not... I am unbelievably excited. You should be too! You know why?

Caitlin's coming home!!! (Eventually.) Yes, before I embark on my next journey, I will be coming home for a stint in my home land. I speculate this will be some time in late May/early June. I love surprise parties, I love Mexican food, hint hint.

That is all for now. I am too busy planning my future.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bacon Rolls, Wine Tasting, and How I Am Becoming Awesomely Healthy In One of the Fattest Cities in the World (and how you can too!)

Please don't let me ever catch you buying your child a bacon roll for breakfast.

For that matter, please don't let me ever catch you buying yourself a bacon roll for breakfast, or a mustard-pickle swirl, and for goodness' sake, ignore the Cheesymite scrolls.*

These are not healthy, they are do not contain sufficient or productive amounts of energy, and they will certainly make you fat if consumed on a regular basis. And your children? They will probably grow up to be bacon roll craving cretins.

I say all of this in a more or less rant because I currently live in the fattest nation in the world: Australia. According to this article, there are 9 million overweight people in Australia...and there are only 22 million people in the whole country.

To add to this statistical excitement, I currently live in one of the fattest cities in the fattest country in the world. Ipswich apparently admits to having over 62.4% of its residents overweight or obese. I know this first hand because most of them probably walk (sometimes more slowly than others) past me at the mall where I currently work. Many of them buy bacon rolls. I love that spinning roll animation action.

This is a blog to talk a bit about my job, a bit about nutrition, and a bit of practice doing hyperlinks on my blog. You like? It's a new experience, like most of my experiences.

About my job: It is a job, and it allows me to pay for my gym membership. It also allows me to practice my Australian jargoning, such as saying "How ya goin'?" as a standard greeting. I generally stick to a cheery "Hey there!" but it never hurts to practice. Hot cross bun season is over (Australians use Easter as an excuse to eat billions of sticky hot cross buns because they can't justify drinking to excess over a Christian holiday weekend.) But I also have an excuse to observe the crazy behavior of mall patrons. My favorite quote was a mother saying to her child "It's too early for a Fun Bun, you have to have something better like McDonald's first." Whoa, absolutely whoa.

Therefore, about nutrition: I have started a bit of a health binge to combat the effects of living in a country where a healthy breakfast is a Happy Meal followed by a meat pie, followed by a Coca-Cola, followed by a custard filled donut. We buy insane amounts of produce. At the moment, we are stocking zucchini, fennel, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, mushrooms, rocket and spinach, jalapenos, cabbage, carrots, red and yellow onions, avocado, oranges, apples, bananas and a giant bag of limes (possibly for Cuba Libres.) The challenge for me is this: how can we possibly eat all of this before it goes bad? So I set out of put vegetables and fruit into everything I can get my hands on. Tonight for dinner is pumpkin/potato soup and bell pepper/avocado/tomato/red onion/greens/cucumber salad. Lots of slashes for lots of deliciousness.

We are growing a cute little veggie garden which hopefully will include carrots, leeks, broccoli, bok choi, salad greens...and something else I can't remember. We also fertilized the garden with home compost which accidentally contained tomato and pumpkin those are also growing. We got this great perennial cilantro plant at a farmer's market which works great, even with Mom's black beans, and a huge basil plant that I'm still figuring out how to preserve. It is absolutely amazing to bring yourself a teeny bit closer with the things you eat. Being as it is now Spring at home, I challenge each of you to plant something, watch it grow, and eat it.

I love cooking. Taking time to cook keeps me sane, and healthy. Heck if I'm going to eat lunch at the mall. Heck if I'm going to take the bus if I can walk.

And walk, I do. This weekend I walked up a mountain. Mount Warning to be exact, the first place in Australia to see the sun, and because it is the first place to see the sun, you must hike at night if you have any chance of seeing that sun too. So we hiked at 3:30AM (!) up the mountain to find it smothered inside a cloud. Though a bit disappointed to miss what I'm sure was a glorious sunrise, I was absolutely ecstatic to have bounded up a wet, muddy mountain (9km roundtrip) in the dark (though I did fall twice on the way down, nicely banging my knee, shin, and ass). So I challenge you, find a mountain and climb it.

Finally, as a celebration of mountain climbing, having the day off from work, and a gorgeous sunny day, James and I took a quick romp around the "Scenic Rim" wineries - that is, the wineries within an hour of our house. James as the chauffeur, me as the tasting narrator, we spent a fantastic day in the country. As both of us are relatively new to the experience, I was lucky enough to start piecing together some patterns: I like chardonnay, especially wooded chardonnay, especially chardonnay that somehow tastes like creamy nuts. I also like shiraz (so does James), and I have somehow developed a taste for fortified shiraz. We also like oddball vineyards, like the one that served up wine on the lawn with their giant husky dog sitting in our laps. I came up with a half-witty saying about wine tasting:

"Wine tasting is the way classy people can get intoxicated for free."


In conclusion, eat sensibly, love veggies, and drink good wine for as cheaply as possible. And these are my lessons from Australia this week.

*Cheesymite scrolls are pastries similar to a savory cinnamon roll, but smothered in Vegemite and "tasty" cheese. "Tasty" cheese is the Australian equivalent, though not equal to, cheddar cheese. Vegemite is disgusting.

Cheesymite is not to be confused with Cheesybite, a new Vegemite product that adds Vegemite to something like Cheese Whiz.