Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tune in, tone up

A few weeks ago, my interest in the gym didn’t so much hit a plateau – it nose-dived spectacularly into a tail-spin of boredom and monotony.

The treadmill had become a chore, the bike was boring beyond belief and even my personal favourite, the cross-trainer, failed to rekindle my waning desire to work out. Hands up if you’ve been there.

I tried plugging in the headphones and watching TV but that didn’t work for me. I became so absorbed in the programs that my brisk walk turned into an afternoon stroll. The music channel seemed like a good idea but, call me old-fashioned, scantily-clad girls lamenting their lost loves and singing of plans to exact terrible revenge on their exes just left me cold.

Finally, I hit upon the idea of compiling a workout playlist for the iPod. Perhaps I’m slow on the uptake, it just hadn’t occurred to me to do this before.

But you know what, it worked so well. I chose a few fast tunes for the 40 minutes of cardio then some favourite crooners to slow the pace for a cool down. It’s hard to believe something so simple could make such a big difference. My energy and motivation were renewed.

So today, lucky ladies and gentlemen, I am sharing with you my Number 1 motivational, workout playlist. Give it a whirl or make one of your own, then when the excesses of the festive season are over you can, quite literally, hit the ground running with a new fitness regime!

 Click on the song titles to go to a website where you can hear a snippet from them. Then click the little speaker symbol and they will launch in Windows Media Player.

If you could read my mind – Amber
Love Generation – Bob Sinclair
Destination Calabria – Alex Gaudino
Kung Fu Fighting – Carl Douglas
Mambo No 5 – Lou Bega
Bingo Bango – Basement Jaxx
We’re Going to Ibiza – Venga Boys
You’re The First, the Last, My Everything – Barry White
20 Good Reasons – Thirsty Merc
Hot Hot Hot – Bina Mistry

Put Your Records On – Corinne Bailey Rae
Grace – U2
Fix You – Coldplay

That's all for today. Enjoy your workout and some of my favorites. Have a very Merry Christmas and an amazing New Year.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

The 80-20 Rule

I guess most of us have heard of the "80 - 20 Rule" (formerly Pareto's Principle). Its origins go back to around 1897 when Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80 percent of the land was owned by 20 percent of the people. Since then, this theory has been applied to almost every sphere of modern life.

I have mainly heard this used along the lines of 20 percent of the people doing 80 percent of the work. But I have recently read about applying it to personal time management. When applied this way - it means that 20 percent of your efforts produce 80 percent of the results. In other words there is the critical few and the trivial many.

I am now trying to identify the vital things in my day and focus on getting those done and it's amazing how the rest takes care of itself.

Now all you organised, choleric types are saying "der", but for someone a little more "relaxed" like me, this can be a revelation.

Hope someone finds this helpful!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Time Matters

It seems funny to be writing about time management at this busy time of the year when we are experiencing out of control concerts, late nights mixed with the sugar rushes, excitement and shopping, shopping, shopping and one more trip to the shops for that last ingredient for the rum balls…and the story continues…

Doing things well is about stopping in the midst of the craziness and taking TIME to remember what it’s all about (especially during this beautiful season). For me that means:

A celebration of faith and TIME with family and friends.

Taking the TIME to stop and smile at someone instead of getting shoppers/road/airport/petrol station rage.

Taking the TIME to let the kids wrap the presents even though they look a bit dog eared and dodgy!

Taking the TIME to turn Mariah Carey up loud and sing like a crazy person and enjoy it.

Allowing the kitchen to be a mess for a while so everyone can be involved with the Christmas baking and letting the kids play a part in choosing a part of the meal.

Taking the TIME to create your own traditions.

Taking the TIME to count your blessings.

Taking the TIME to consider those less fortunate and what your contribution could be to easing their suffering.

We went shopping today (again) so the kids could choose presents for my hubby and myself while I waited outside. They were so excited and I’m so glad I took the TIME to let them choose heaven knows what (they were given a budget) then wrap it at home and stick it under the tree.

This is the TIME of year to manage our TIME moment by moment and make every effort to enjoy each special one…..New Year’s Eve will come around soon enough and we’ll be resolving to make 2008 a TIME of efficiency with our lists and structure…until then, take a deep breath, create some great memories and enjoy the ride.

Lv Jane

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Date to Remember

So last night was just one of those nights that I will remember for a long time. It was nothing flash, rather extremely simple and in it’s simplicity it was simply amazing (how many times can I use the word or a derivative of simple?). Anyway it started like this….

My hubby was out running errands and I was home making a gingerbread house with the children (that was super fun!) and I called him and said, “hey how bout a babysitter tonight and let’s go Christmas shopping?” To which he replied, “yeah sure, why not.” I quickly called the babysitter, arranged for Philip to pick him up and YAHOO we were going out…totally unplanned and unexpected.

We decided to leave the car and walk (we are currently living in a rather ‘urban’ area). Our night was open and we were simply going wherever we were drawn. First we found ourselves in a Christmas shop looking at all the beautiful Christmas decorations and then we found ourselves at a Japanese/Korean restaurant where we enjoyed very simple, inexpensive food. Our conversation was great and we noticed no one else in the restaurant (for anyone who knows me that’s strange because I ALWAYS know what’s going on all around me). After dinner we walked the streets window shopping, talking and laughing. At one point I was laughing so hard Philip noticed that I had tears rolling down my cheeks.

Slowly we made our way home ~ so much for the Christmas shopping! We had a great night together and I realised once again why I love this man and how important it is to take time just to BE together and rediscover each other. We commented (last night) about how we both hope that at 70 we are still enjoying one another as much as we did last night. As we continue to deposit into and work on our relationship I’m confident we will remain enjoying one another. I believe the years will just make it all that much richer because we will have even more memories both of the hard times, that we’ve made it through, and the great times; that we’ve shared together.

I encourage you all to take time and enjoy a simple day/night together. As hard as it can be, try and forget the ‘issues’ of the day/world and just BE together. Talk about the time you met, talk about the way you made each other feel and stir up some of the goodness that sits between both of you but sadly can get lost in the mix of life. Your partnership is worth working on……..

So, I will sign off now with a smile on my face remembering every moment of last night. Truly a DATE TO REMEMBER!


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Begin With The End In Mind.....

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters
Compared to what lies within us

Oliver Wendell Holmes.

I was interviewing someone for an article recently and I finished by asking them this question: “How would you like to be remembered?” They paused for a moment, and then answered. It got me thinking: How would I like to be remembered? This is a question I had never really asked myself. Or, morbidly still, what would I like people to say about me at my funeral. If my eulogy involved my nicely decorated house, great writing or how well I dressed I was – I’ve failed. But if those closest to me honour with words like kindness, compassion, generousity, love for God, commitment to her family etc – then I’ll be smiling in my casket. In Stephen Covey’s best selling book: ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective people,’ he takes this thought even further.

See yourself going to a funeral of a loved one. Picture yourself driving to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking your car and getting out. As you walk inside the building, you notice flowers, soft music playing (which sounds like that favourite song of yours). You see the faces of your family and friends. You sense the loss.

As you walk down to the front of the chapel and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral. All of these people have come to honour you and to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.

As you take your seat and wait for the service to begin, you look at the program in your hand. There are to be four speakers: a family member, a friend, a work colleague and someone from your church. Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life? What kind of mother, wife would you like those words to reflect. What kind or friend were you or working associate. What character would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions, what achievements do you want to be remembered for? What difference would you like to have made?

Doing this exercise, as sad as it seems, can often re-set your internal navigation system. Maybe you have to make a u turn, or simply a short right turn, before the automated voice inside you says: “your destination is ahead.” It’s never too late to change. Start now. Begin tomorrow with the end in mind.

Nicki Partridge

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding!

Those of you who know me know that I don't eat a lot of Italian food unless it's at Sam's house or a good restaurant (I do however love a good veal parmigiana). Strangely it’s just not a food that I ever really got into cooking with the exception of the odd Spag Bog or Lasagna that my children request once in awhile. However after spending time at the gym and watching the food network whilst I work out (I know it’s a little strange) I have found that I have come to love watching Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis. She seriously makes the most yummy looking food and is always so calm.

In preparation for our amazing Christmas Holiday, that we are spending with our friends the Cosatto’s (Sam’s family) and the Dell’s (Belinda’s family) I decided to ‘have a go’ with an Italian desert. So, in honor of Sam’s hubby, the great Italian man Tony, my eldest daughter and I stayed up later than normal, chatted non-stop and baked this morish, very (very) simple dish.

The main ingredient Panettone.....I’ve always seen this in almost every shop around Christmas time and have never known what it was. I always thought it was some cheap version of fruit cake so never bothered with it. That was until I asked Sam and she informed me that it was, in fact something really nice and loved by Italian people both young and old. So, I decided to buy it and try it. Below is the recipe we used and I promise you it is beyond simple, it could be the perfect dinner party desert or part of any families holiday food!

Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding (Giada De Laurentiis – Everyday Italian)

575 mls of milk (don’t use 2% or full cream, use either 1% or skim)
575 mls double cream (thick, heavy cream)
1 vanilla pod (or just a tsp of vanilla if you don’t use pods)
4 medium eggs
170 grams caster sugar (the finest you can find but don’t stress use whatever you have ~ I did!)
Panettone, cut into thick slices and buttered (I didn’t butter, just seemed to rich)
1 orange zest
A little icing sugar

Preheat oven to 325 (160 degrees or #3 for Gas)
To start the custard base, bring the milk and cream just to a boil in a saucepan.
Cut the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds (or just add your tsp of vanilla) and add the zest to the milk.
In a separate large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar until they are pale or well mixed.
Dip each slice of bread into the custard and then place in a well buttered baking tray (9x13 is best).
Once all the bread is in, use your hands an gently press everything down.
Pour remainder of custard slowly over the bread.
Bake for 45 minutes – when cooked it will be slightly wobbly inside with a slight crust around the edges.
Dust with a little icing sugar and serve with extra cream, even a little jam or just by itself with a nice cup of coffee!


Monday, December 03, 2007

Celebrating Relationships

Hi all,

I’ve been a little quiet over the last month because we have been in the process of selling our home. I know some of you can relate. It’s amazing how tidy you have to the house because you never know when the agent is going to call ready to bring someone around...... With three (busy) children many of you will know what I’m talking about!

I’ve been thinking about what Susan said on the Facebook video today (if you aren’t on Facebook yet you should join up, it’s so much fun connecting with people plus you can join thefamilyroom Group) and I thought I would share a little something from the pages of our family in regards to people who make a difference.

The other day my 12 year old son was talking on the phone to his Grandparents in New Zealand. They have just returned from a trip overseas and Jacob (my son) was asking them all about it. He wasn’t just being ‘polite’ to the grandparents and doing as mum said by asking questions, he was really and truly interested. The conversation warmed my heart because I could see and hear that although an ocean separates us from them, the distance isn’t changing the relationship. An extremely important relationship I might add. I know that through the conversation both parties felt valued, Jacob because his Grandparents were talking to him in an age appropriate way and his Grandparents because he was interested in their lives ~ sadly sometimes Grandparents can be pushed to the sidelines of life and only thought about when gifts are due or help is needed.

Anyway I share this because I think it’s important that we remind each other, and teach our children, that life isn’t all about us. Rather we are part of a big puzzle and we need to value one another and share in life. So today I celebrate both my son and my husband’s parents. Little do either of them know how impacting their conversation was on my life.......I realised today my husband and I must be doing something right and that’s encouraging.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Christmas Truffles

Well, here's another YUMMIE Christmas recipe that has become a 'must have' in our home. These come directly from one of thefamilyroom kitchen's.......Sam's kitchen and we all know anything that comes from Sam's kitchen is simple delightful.

Actually this another Christmas request from my children. Sam and her family will be joining ours and the Dell's for a white Christmas this year and last week I emailed Sam asking her if she would prepare these when we get together ~~ the request came straight from my children and you gotta trust the kids because they truly know what's good and what's not when it comes to Christmas treats!

So, without anything more here's the recipe for everyone to enjoy and share......BTW these, along with Jo's Christmas cookies make and excellent gift for anyone. Pop them in a little box with tissue or a Christmas tin and the perfect, cost effective gift is ready to GIVE.

(makes around 28)


200g coconut biscuits
100g blanched almonds, toasted
375g NESTLE White Melts, melted
1/4 cup cream
100g NESTLE Dark Melts, melted
Red and Green decoration (i.e. ready made icing, glace cherries)


1) Crush biscuits and nuts in food processor (of just crush them under a rolling pin if a food processor isn't an option), combine with 1/2 the NESTLE White Melts and cream. Mix well.

2) Roll teaspoonfuls of mixture into small balls, refrigerate until firm.

3) Coat truffles in melted NESTLE Dark Melts. Refrigerate until firm.

4) Drizzle remaining NESTLE White Melts over each truffle.

5) Decorate with red and green to resemble holly.

Enjoy ;)

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