Saturday, June 22, 2013

Northern Territory Famil Trip

People often think working as an events manager is full of perks.  I've had people suggest that it must be lovely to have a job that involves swanning about in cocktail dresses sipping champagne.  And I'm sure it must be lovely, but that isn't what events management is about.  It is about logistics, planning, long hours, and being polite in the face of often finicky and obnoxious delegates.

However, that isn't to say there aren't some perks and Famil trips are one of them.  Famil trips involve visiting a place to be familiarised with the facilities and opportunities.  They are really important, planning events in venues you haven't visited is very hard and they give tourist operators the opportunity to promote their businesses.  But they do also mean you get to go somewhere you haven't been before as the guest of the tourism promoters.

This last week I was lucky enough to be hosted by the Northern Territory Convention Bureau on a Famil trip to Alice Springs and Darwin.  Let me be clear, it was NOT a holiday.  Each day started at 8am, was filled with numerous meetings, site visits and tours, ending late.  But we did get to visit some amazing places, eat wonderful food and meet some truly inspirational people.  In fact some of those people and places were so inspirational that they deserve a post of their own, so today's post is just about the landscape.

I've not been to NT before but I had some ideas in my head of what it would look like.  Red dirt, wiry trees, blue skies and clear blue sea.  I wasn't expecting the wild flowers, towering ranges and manicured waterfront.  I could write more but my break is over - another site visit awaits, so enjoy just a few photos of the goreousness of NT.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Spanish Inspired Warm Dip

When the weather gets cold in Canberra the parties don't stop, they just move inside and focus on warm canapes.  And for those occasions I turn to a delicious, warm Spanish inspired dip.  This is not a dip to have on a delicate wafer, it is a hearty, chunky topping for a lovely piece of sourdough bread.

I love this dip for so many reasons, not only is it warm and gently spiced, it is vegan, gluten free and most of the contents can be found in my pantry and fridge.  In fact if the parsley is growing in my garden (which disappointingly it is not this year) the only thing I have to buy is mushrooms and bread.

This is comfort food to share, which for me, makes it even more comforting.  What are your comfort food favourites for this time of year?


Spanish inspired warm dip

olive oil
2 onions sliced into 8ths
4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
small handful mushrooms thinly sliced
1tsp smoked paprika
1/2tsp cumin
1/2tsp hot chilli flakes
1/2 cup white wine
3 chargrilled capsicums, sliced in half lengthwise then in 1cm side strips
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
1 x 400g can chickpeas rinsed well
250g chopped frozen spinach thawed and excess moisture squeezed out
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 bunch parsley chopped

Sour dough bread to serve

Add a splash of olive oil and onions to a large pan on a medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring regularly, until onions are softened and golden brown.  Add garlic and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are softened.

Add paprika, cumin and chilli and cook till fragrant.  Add white wine, capsicum, tomatoes, chickpeas and spinach.  Stir to combine, lower heat and cook for about 20 minutes till thick and warm.

To finish, add red wine vinegar and parsley.

Serve with sliced sour dough bread while still warm.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Hello, its me.  Yes I kind of dropped off the planet for a bit there.  Life has been, shall we say, interesting over the last few weeks.  The kind of interesting referred to in the famous Chinese curse "may you live in interesting times".  The kind of interesting that makes you crave mundane.

While the last few weeks may not have been the greatest, they have reminded me that even when things are pretty darn crappy, I am still an inordinately lucky person in the greater scheme of things, and that is why I wanted to write today's happiness post about gratitude.

Gratitude has for many come to have a negative tone.  It is almost like an insult or a put down when someone is told they should be grateful.  It somehow signifies grovelling and giving thanks to some other person.  I don't think about it like that.

For me, having gratitude in my life is about being aware of the many wonderful, blessed aspects of my life.  About remembering that most people in the world don't have the same worries about me, but they also don't have the same comforts.  About knowing that the love which surrounds my life eludes many.  Gratitude is about not taking these blessings for granted but remembering that I am lucky to enjoy them.

Each night, just before I go to bed I take a deep breath and try to blow the stress of the day away.  I focus on all the things I'm grateful for, a loving partner, a family of enormous strength and love, friends without comparison.  I thank the fates that allowed me to be born and grow up in a peaceful, wealthy country, that gave me the  strong education which allows me to work in a fulfilling job providing me with my warm cosy home and a wardrobe of pretty dresses.

And when I get overwhelmed by the incomprehensible actions of others and I feel frustrated and angry, I do my best to take a step back and remember that the wonderful parts of my life outweigh the bad by an exponential amount, even if the bad can be more in your face.  At the end of the day, I am grateful, I am for the most part lucky, and despite everything I truly am happy.