Autumn, now

It’s been two weeks since summer officially ended, taking Daylight Saving Time with it. I’m a little sad that the sun is setting later now, but at the same time grateful for these cooler evenings. As I always say, colder weather really drives home the point that I’m no longer living in the Philippines — though it’s been eight years since I left, and I definitely consider Australia my home now! There’s this certain crispness in the air that I didn’t experience most of the years I was growing up.

I’ve taken the lack of DST as a sign to wake up, and go to sleep, earlier. That’s been my resolution since start of the year, but it’s just soooo hard to do when the sun is setting at 9 PM! I feel like I should be out and about as long as there’s still daylight.

Well, now it’s setting a lot earlier — and I resolve to leave work at 4:30 PM on most days, that way I can get still catch the final rays of sun as I get off at my train station. There’s always something depressing about leaving work and the sky is pitch black outside.

It’s a little hard to believe that it’s the second quarter of the year, now! Here are a few things I’ve learned about myself the past few months:

I am apparently the type of person who needs sleep masks. At least in my apartment, where the little bits of sunlight that stream in were causing me to wake up way too early in the mornings.

I can no longer take really hot days. I always used to love the heat. I loved going to sleep when it was extremely hot and humid — without a fan on! Well, I don’t anymore. I guess I’m no longer used to the humidity — I’d wake up several times at night because it was just hot and gross. And when I went to Uluru… I was pretty much useless the first day. For once in my life, I thought, “this heat is way too much!”

I’ve decided to cut down on supplements. I don’t know if they’ve actually been doing anything. I’ve been trying to eat a healthier diet too, so hopefully that means I won’t need them. I also read a damning article about a lady whose blood they tested and they found out she was deficient in B vitamins, although she was taking supplements daily. I think I’ll hang on to my money, thanks.

Some of my resolutions are going pretty well. I’ve been cooking a lot more, sleeping a lot earlier (I rarely sleep past midnight, yay!), spending quality time with my nearest and dearest, and taking time out for self care. I gotta say, this notebook has really helped me out. Sometimes I feel busy with work, but it reminds me to stay balanced.

For the rest of the year, I resolve… to keep going, I suppose. Taking better care of myself by sleeping better, eating healthier food, continue exercising. Cultivating my relationships. Staying focused and being productive at work. Reflecting, writing, and being more thankful.

I like plants

I’m still not entirely sure why, but last September I decided to get more houseplants. I had a succulent my brother and sister-in-law gifted me a few years ago, which was happily still thriving, unlike one I got from a former coworker, which ended up dying within a few months.

So I went to Newtown Garden Market one day and got myself a syngonium. The guy who worked there had to repot the plant for me, because I had no idea what repotting was. The syngonium ended up living on my beside table.

Since then, I’ve gotten a parlour palm (which has started sprouting mushrooms, grrr) and lavender.

The lavender almost died and I decided to replace it with impatiens, but it ended up not dying, and now I’ve got both. (Lavender not pictured, because it still looks a bit straggly.)

My original succulent ended up with babies, which I’ve placed in a new pot. (The babies had babies of their own, so I now think when they all start growing madly I may have a problem.)

The syngonium has outgrown its original container and I’ve gotten a mini parlour palm to place in the pot.

So now here I am, six months later, with a growing collection of houseplants. Now I know how to repot a plant, propagate a succulent, when to water a plant, and I understand what “variegation” means. I want some more (I want a citrus plant and some devil’s ivy on my bookcase) but have been convinced not to get more, and instead wait til I need to repot my existing ones and have empty pots to fill.

As an unintended consequence I’m now worried about going away. What will happen to my plants? What if the person who usually waters my plants also goes away? The lavender and the impatiens need to be watered every day, oh gawd… this must be what it feels like to have a pet.

New Caledonia

I had a quiet Saturday so I finally had time to edit my New Caledonia photos. 😛 It’s been over 7 months since my trip, but better late than never!

The trip was totally unplanned, but a lot went on during the first half of 2017 that I figured I needed a break. I wanted to go somewhere close, yet exotic. What better place to choose than New Caledonia, a French territory a mere 3 hour flight from Sydney? (It’s even closer than Perth!)

Things I liked about New Caledonia, or Nouvelle Caledonie, as the locals call it:

1. It’s a very, very beautiful island in the South Pacific.
I’d nearly forgotten how pretty islands looked, having lived the past 8 (!!) years in the humongous landmass that is Australia. And the view of approaching a tiny island smack-dab in the Pacific Ocean was just something else.

The view from my airline seat.

The view from my hotel room. How lucky was I!

2. There is so much greenery everywhere.
There’s a lot more than beaches in the outdoors!

I booked a day tour and one of the stops was a nature reserve in Dumbea, a short drive from Noumea, the capital. Everything was so green and lush and everyone was really chill, saying “Bonjour” to us as we passed. We didn’t spend a lot of time here, but I’d love to go back and do a proper hike through the trails.

The Tjibaou Cultural Center is technically in the city, but I loved how the buildings and greenery blended into each other.

3. French food.
‘Nuff said. As I mentioned, New Caledonia is a French territory. The people there carry French passports, speak French, and… *drumroll please* serve French cuisine.

Photo on the left is from L’Hippocampe. As for the photo on the right… sadly I don’t remember the name of the patissier where I got the chocolate thingamabob anymore.

(Haha, every time I do these trip recaps, one of the items is always food-related.)

It was a super quick trip — 4 days. And yes, while Noumea is small and I probably hit all of the tourist attractions during the day tour, I’d love to go back again for another recharge. I’d probably want to do a bit more hiking/outdoorsy stuff, gorging on French food, and enjoying that gorgeous view from my hotel balcony.

On tracking food

It’s the last day of February and the first two months have just flown by.

So, I decided to use my employee benefits and have been speaking with a nutritionist. Among other things, she’s told me to start tracking every thing I eat. Unfortunately, it’s yielded a few sobering truths: although I say that “I usually eat well, except for when I go out,” I seem to be eating out a lot more than I initially thought. Two, during times I don’t get to go grocery shopping (such as this week), I subsist on paltry, not-that-healthy meals (e.g. peanut butter on toast).

The great news — I’m doing great in the fruit and healthier substitutions department, and I’ve definitely been eating less sugar and more veggies than I used to. But I’ve still got a long way to go.

I know that “cooking” is one of my goals for this year, but one of my sub-goals under that is to learn how to make more salad-y type meals. My usual go-to is salad mix, tomatoes, some kind of cheese, and an olive oil and vinegar dressing. Since late last year, I’ve made a Greek salad, walnut and pear salad, green mango salad, and a lemony olive oil dressing that was a-maz-ing. (Yeah, I know making salads isn’t particularly complicated, but adding more to my salad repertoire is a big deal to me.)

I’ve been browsing through Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals book, which I got years ago at a local market. The only way these recipes take 15 minutes is if I had my own personal chef prepping the ingredients as well as Jamie Oliver’s array of kitchen gadgets. (No wonder this book was shuffled off to a secondhand goods stall.)

Now, I have to start looking for more ways to incorporate veggies into my diet. I swear I was much better at this before the end of 2017, but with the holidays, I got used to eating fatty, salty, flavourful food again. I can’t help that it’s so damn delicious!