Aug 16, 2018

Lovin' Life 16/8/2018: Golden Syrup Apple Dumplings.

Store bought fancy, glossy, creamy cakes have their place on Instagram and in our eyes but when my heart wants dessert?  It wants hearty, buttery and homemade. Preferably served with a rustic, imperfect scoop of supermarket vanilla ice cream.

Master SSG and I made Golden Syrup Apple Dumplings over the weekend using an oven recipe from  a member of the ever reliable community of home cooks over at the Best Recipes website.

I won't lie and neither will my camera.  My first attempt at dessert dumplings was anything but pretty.      My dumpling dough was a bit crumbly and it didn't tidily wrap my apple pieces as the recipe seemed to suggest it would.  I sprinkled brown sugar and cinnamon over the top of the apple wedge before making the dumplings for a bit of extra flavour.

I also ran out of pastry for the number of apple slices I had.  Being resourceful, I googled a recipe for microwave stewed apples on the fly and put those spare bits of apple to good use.  They've been the perfect match for my baked oats each morning.

I told you it wasn't going to be pretty.  The lighting doesn't help things either.  Over the top of the dumplings went a syrup made of sugar, butter and golden syrup.

Thirty minutes later, the oven worked its magic and this is how my dish of dumplings turned out.

They were delicious.  They weren't so sweet that you couldn't have ice cream with them and they definitely weren't bland tasting either.  There's something about home made baked desserts.  You can taste the butter and there's a crisp crumbliness it imparts that you don't always get with store bought.

What does your heart want when it wants dessert?  Fancy show stopping creations from the shops or something a bit more down to earth and rustic from your own kitchen?

Aug 14, 2018

My #C2Surf Debut. My Birthday Weekend Continued.

Well.  Anyone would think from reading my blog lately that I'm the only person in Sydney who ran the City 2 Surf for the first time this year.  

Preparation has taken up such a high proportion of my free time that it's perhaps unsurprising I've been carrying on like a diva in activewear (never thought you’d see those words together, did you?) since my official race bib arrived in the post.

Carb and other good things loading before the race...  

C2Surf Essentials #1: deodorant and a foldable Ikea bag for after the run and an old but warm top to wear while waiting to start the run.

The day was so much fun that I'm already planning to enter again next year.  Everyone was so good natured.  From the Rotary volunteers who were already keeping beady eyes on the sidewalks of my neighbourhood at 7am on race day to everyone on duty in public transport who waved through anyone wearing tatty old jumpers over tops with safety pins stuck through the front.  The ladies lining up with me at the toilets at Martin Place station (aka the last 'proper' toilets before encountering portaloo city at Hyde Park) were all happy, smiling and calm.  They did wonders for my pre-race nerves with their mere presence around me.

C2Surf Essentials #2: serum from The Ordinary and a bear naked nut energy bar.

I happily followed the crowd through the city as it converged on Hyde Park and runners began to splinter off according to their bib colour.  There were banners, signposts and volunteers everywhere - it was impossible to get lost.

I made good time for my allocated 8.30 am start with the rest of the blue runners.  We were the largest group of participants and boy did we make our presence felt.  Some of us dressed up, others of us sang and danced and a whole lot of others of us just bopped along to the music.

C2Surf Essentials #3: strong mints and a bottle of water.

It was finally time for us to start running and there was a slight jostle towards the kerbs as we took off those old but warm jumpers and flung them skywards into the bushes.

So I had this plan for the race and it was a plan I'd based on reading countless blogs and training guides for the race. I'd also been religiously following my MapMyRun training plan since deciding just after the summer that I was going to enter this year.

I had the run route committed to memory and had plans to run at certain percentages of effort at different points of the run to 'conserve energy' and 'maintain efficiency'.  The elevation of Heartbreak Hill (93.1m) was practically imprinted in my calves and the soles of my trainers I'd run it that many times.  Yes, with my trusty phone telling me my distance and speed it would just be like all the other runs I've done on my own this year at some ridiculous hour of the pre-dawn.

Except I forgot everything the moment we counted down to the blue start.  I jalked (jog walked) down William Street for Kings cross in the midst of a sea of runners.  I did remember to turn around to see everyone else behind me but had to quickly spin frontwards again so I didn't tread on anyone in front of me.  I then predictably needed a toilet break at Rushcutter's Bay.  I tried not to think about how slow I already was so early in the race on account of the crowd and my bladder.

I basically stopped thinking and started being.  I took in the colour and the people around me.  I listened to the pipe bands, the choirs, the DJs and the wellwishers.  I high fived preschoolers who were out to see what's what with their parents.  I raised my hands up in a kind of awkward boogie with the DJs.  My phone and its dead front camera remained in the pocket of my running tights for the entire race and I didn't hear a single thing it was telling me about my pace or my distance.

C2Surf Essentials #4: a baby pink sweatband given to me as I attacked Heartbreak Hill on race day, a bracelet Master SSG made for me to wear as I ran and a tube of good old Lanolips.

I don't remember feeling the cold or the slight drizzle at the start of the race.  I don't remember feeling thirsty.  All I remember is the running.  Between people, up on the kerb, on familiar stretches of bitumen as we ascended Heartbreak Hill.  And my baby pink sweatband.  Some kind employee of a sponsor handed me one as I got to the top of the hill.

The good news was that I had been practising on the correct Heartbreak Hill.  The even better news is that in the heat of the moment, I didn't really feel it as I ran up it.  The bad news?  There was another hill or two beyond it that my legs had to battle.

In my vision for my ideal City2Surf, the knowledge of having survived the hills would have been enough to re-energize my legs and propel them through the last kilometre for a sprint finish.  The sprint finishes I've managed on my solo runs have occurred after a few minutes of deep breathing as I looked out onto the beach before the thought of a coffee and hot shower back home fired me up for the final few hundred metres home that would take me past my favourite pretty stores and cafe.

Needless to say, that didn't quite happen on the day.  I just barrelled on at the one pace and in my mind, it felt like my regular not so great pace.  I was just relieved that I was going to make the finish line without any major mishaps.  

Bondi Beach is a wonderful motivator and its beauty carried my aching legs to the promised land of those red doorway arches.  Like the Golden Arches of Maccas. But better. Maybe. 

I collected my medal and then finally looked at my phone.

No.  Way.

And it wasn't just because I was breathless and needed the toilet again. I'd run the entire 14K at a pace faster than anything I'd managed to train at.  I'm feeling that 'much better than anticipated pace' with every fibre of my being now that the Nurofen was worn off but gee, not bad for a first-timer, eh?

I'm going to get all tree hugger on you now and describe how I felt as euphoric.  I floated along beyond the portaloos to get my gear from the bag drop.  I had a beatific smile for everyone and everything.  

The Tiger Balm people were giving out these Ts to everyone who raced and I couldn't help picture future Uni Student Master SSG rocking it for a day on campus and onwards to the tavern.

I waved some deodorant around my person, slathered my face in some beauty serum (as you do) and put on my clean (and warm) top before wandering aimlessly for quite a while in the wrong direction for the bus.  

Cheesy grin (not pictured), prominently displayed medal, hint of racing bib and  a consciously healthful post run snack on the train.  Living the post C2Surf dream right there.

I won't lie, I was milking every moment of my 15 seconds of fame as a Sydneysider who'd just completed the run.  I was shamelessly walking around in my sweaty running clothes with my medal and bib (not so) discretely on show.  

I wish I could say that I found myself at a Rehydration Party or at Maccas but I found myself halfway up a very quiet side street with a free bottle of water from Woolies instead.  I adjusted my bearings and then found myself at the local Lulu store where I politely declined a sample of a raw nut slice and did not join the line to have some whacky looking lower body compression devices applied to me.  Aside from that, the store was doing a brisk trade in their more traditional offerings as people picked up apres run outfits left, right and centre.

You can't keep the birthday girl from Lulu after all because I emerged from my first train ride home and found myself at one of their CBD stores.  There's much to love about this khaki down jacket.  Including how it's going to be star piece of my Berlin wardrobe.

On the bus to Paddington.

I was lavished with both gifts and TLC when I got to my brother and sister in law's place.

Luxe flannel PJs from Peter Alexander and a much needed new and glam shower cap.

Before we headed for home and some trashy but surprisingly good eats

Serve with heaps of lettuce to ease any remaining guilt you might have about microwaved cheeseburgers.  As an aside, did you know that Maccas cheeseburgers freeze really well?  
and more gifts.

Urban Decay's Hi-Fi Shine in Naked from Master SSG and a Beauty Loop birthday gift from Mecca.

What an epic way to celebrate a birthday.  This is definitely a birthday I won't be forgetting anytime soon.

Do you remember the first time you ran the Sydney City2Surf?

Will I see you there next year, perhaps?  

I'm feeling the pressure already.  Will I be able to keep it around 74 minutes for C2Surf 2019?  There's only one way to find out....

Aug 12, 2018

My Birthday Weekend So Far.

I couldn't have asked for better weather for my birthday weekend.

The babycinos were just as chuffed.

It's race day today and the 'hood is preparing itself.  The banners have been up for the last fortnight and it looks like a band or two will be performing on the the terrace of the local pub.  It's going to be an epic day and not just because it's also my birthday...

This serenely gushing indoor water feature caught my eye as I headed for the bag drop at the City2Surf runners' expo at the International Convention Centre.  You'll have to believe me that it was a very modest, low maintenance selection of essentials that made the cut.

There's no other word for it, Sydney.  You are looking mighty fine this weekend.

I hope the weather holds for today.

Doesn't that sky look spectacular against all the trappings of modern, big city life?

We somehow managed to leave the expo with a carton of 12 mini bottles of mouthwash and some coconut water.

Our next stop was Tumbalong Park.  This is the first time I've been able to fully appreciate just how well designed the space is for children and their families.  I'm usually here when it's jam packed but in the quiet of the early morning, we managed to get the run of all the play equipment.

Starting with the rope climbing frames, of course.

After a good 45 minutes on the slides, Master SSG decided to cool off at the water play feature.  If you begin at the top, there are pumps and gullies galore.

It was a little oasis of calm sitting here as the traffic whizzed around somewhere in the distance.

In case it wasn't already obvious, I cannot wait for springsummer to return to Sydney.

I've decided to outsource my birthday cake this year.

And in true Sydneysider form, this meant a trip to Zumbo.

The full sized cakes were too large for the two of us so we pored over the mini cakes instead.

It was a tough decision but we decided to pick a fruit based cake and something non chocolatey.

We ended up with Crazy For Yuzu and a slice of V8 vanilla.

Along with a spot of (restrained) self gifting, I reckon I'm all set to delve even deeper (!!) into my roaring forties.

Be well



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