When you least expect it, a new baby comes along…

It was the last thing I was expecting today, but well overdue.

You see, I’ve been driving the same car now for EIGHT years. And it’s been a lovely car.I wasn’t complaining. A simple Audi A4 sedan in a pale sparkly colour called champagne. Colour, as we know, is one of the most IMPORTANT things about a car.

BUt last weekend, I got a SIGN. You know, when something happens after a long string of things, and you know a certain relationship has to come to an end. I had driven Ronnie to the local video shop and was parking when I heard a loud CRUNCH. Yep, the concrete parking stopper on the ground had a bout of fisticuffs with my bumper bar and this was the result…




The bumper bar lay on the gravel and there was no way I could piece it back together. Another bill to pay and another job to add to a long list… Big bummer. Big sigh.

But Fletch had been making noises about the end of January being a good time to buy a new car. When I say ‘new’, I mean ‘new’ for us, but second-hand as far as cars go. I hadn’t taken much notice as I thought he was primarily talking about a machine for himself, so I did that nodding thing in the kitchen where the man thinks you’re listening while you dawdle over the stove, pondering your next fantasy holiday in the Greek Islands and only taking half in.

Turns out I had been included in the conversation I hadn’t been listening to. So this morning, I made school lunches and got the kids off to school, went to the gym, then managed a marathon supermarket shop before racing home to work on blogging duties and a certain project with a deadline. So when Fletch called to suggest I meet him in West Melbourne to look at second-hand cars, I wasn’t too excited. I was busy. I thought we’d be looking at cars HE wanted for himself. He mentioned a couple I might be interested in, but I didn’t think it was something we could afford or that they would appeal. But I agreed to join him – just in case. Still not thinking this was a serious shopping mission, I spent more time on the computer than I should have, then realised I had to leave home damn quickly or I’d be late. There was no time to change clothes. I’d have to front up in my old gym gear and no make-up. Never mind, I thought, it’s not about me – who cares what I look like?

And that’s when you should ALWAYS turn around, go back inside and get changed.

Audi Showroom, West Melbourne

Audi Showroom, West Melbourne

The instant I turned up at the glamorous Audi dealership on Kings Street, I felt markedly under-dressed among the schmick looking salesmen in shiny suits and smart businesswomen in high red shoes. Still, Carlo, our salesman, made me feel at  home while we waited for Fletch (see – I DID have time to change. HE was late!) and made me a coffee.

As we sipped and waited, he told me with a broad smile, that meeting me had made him a little star-struck. I nearly choked on my coffee. It’s been so long since I read the news, I forget that people might remember who I am or find that at all impressive. Flattered as I was, I immediatley regretted wearing my ten-year-old threadbare exercise gear and no make-up. It’s awful seeing the disappointed looks on people’s faces when they realise what you REALLY look like. But not Carlo. He seemed delighted. Bless him.

Most of all, I liked his sales approach. He showed me a couple of cars and we chatted away but he never went for the hard-line sales pitch. Which I hate. He was charming without being saccharine, and helpful without being obsequious. Just a normal, natural kinda guy. Rare in a salesman. Which is why I vote Carlo best car salesman of the year. And this is what we bought.

Carlo, me and my new baby.

Carlo, me and my new baby.

It’s a second-hand Audi A4 B8 Multitronic sedan. The detail in the name doesn’t mean much to me as I’m not much of a car buff. I just thought it looked pretty cool.

And it wasn’t that Carlo twisted my arm. He just pointed me in the right direction. What really made up my mind was the headlights.


A winning feature

A winning feature


A bit like sparkly disco eyelashes, don’t you think?





So now I have a new baby. It’s all happened so fast, I’ve barely had time to take it in, but I’m sure the smile on my face will last for some time to come. It’s a bit late for you to get an end-of-January deal now, but if you are in the market for an Audi – second-hand OR new…

Carlo Cunico

Carlo Cunico



– then I know the man. Carlo Cunico at Audi, Brighton.




That’s Carrlo.cunico@audicentrebrighton.com.au or just give him a buzz on 0416 137 710. A top bloke.

And I’ve learnt my lesson. Never go car shopping in old gym gear and no make-up.

You’re all invited! Update on a super cool Valentines Day party

Further to last Friday’s blog about The Sisterhood committee organising THE coolest Valentine’s Day party in support of heart research at St Vincents Hospital – I can now bring you the official invitation and booking details. Ta da!

It’s not just for couples. Plenty of singles are coming too – what better party to meet your Valentine?

Official Valentine's Day invitation

Official Valentine’s Day invitation

To book tickets:


I’m thrilled it’s going to be held at the hippest venue in Melbourne – THE DECK at The Prince Hotel in St Kilda. What a great space for a party! And after hosting dozens of conventional balls over the years, I’m very much looking forward to a less formal, younger styled event with great entertainment and a DJ.

The Deck, Prince Hotel, St Kilda

The Deck, Prince Hotel, St Kilda

Actress Melissa Bergland

Actress Melissa Bergland


I’m also very excited that the super talented and gorgeous Melissa Bergland, star of TV series Winners and Losers, will perform for us on the night. Not only a beautiful in person, but super generous. She’s donating her time on the evening which is amazing. Especially given so many celebrities these days seem to want to charge a small fortune to appear at charity gigs, which I just don’t get.  Melissa, you are an angel and we can’t wait to hear you perform on the night.


And if you’re still not convinced this is going to be a super special evening, check out our party rules below. Designed to make SURE we keep the vibe up and the party spirit high.

1. No speeches or MC chatting to go longer than five minutes.

2. Limited items in the charity auction. A quick auction is a good auction.

3. LOADS of fabulous finger food and drinks provided with excellent service.

4. Great entertainment and cool music

5. Value packed free goodie bags (one per couple)

6. Lots of dancing

7. No jumping in the pool – potential injuries are not cool

If you’d like to know more about the committee and what we’re trying to achieve, here’s the official blurb:

sisterhood spiel copy 2

The Sisterhood – Raising money for St Vincent’s Hospital

 So don’t waste time because tickets really are selling fast. Get on line and book now! It’s great value at $100 a ticket which includes food, drinks, entertainment and a gift bag – plus it’s tax deductible!

Looking forward to partying with you on February 14th!

Shorter blogs on the menu


This is just a short blog to say that from now on, I WILL try to write shorter blogs. Fletch read the blog I posted today and informed me that it was too long. That people want concise, ‘pithy’ reads – not long meandering, pieces like the ones I produce.

At the same time he complimented me on writing a ‘great’ blog. Which was very kind. But I don’t think today’s post WAS a ‘great’ blog. It was a trivial piece about New Year’s Resolutions and my nerdy (albeit temporary) obsession with a jigsaw puzzle. Perhaps he used the word ‘great’ in reference to length?

Regardless, this is a short blog to let you know I will indeed attempt to write shorter blogs  from now on. With endless joy.

My first photo shoot

My first photo shoot

And that



Weekly Update: The best of my New Year Resolutions…


Now coming to the end of January, I look back at how I’ve progressed with my New Year’s Resolutions and I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Some have been tougher than others, and I’ve used the holiday break as an excuse for not fulfilling some – but generally speaking, I’m improving. This blogging caper does help enormously too. It makes you accountable – even in a teeny weeny way.

So let’s do an update and I’ll share what I’ve learned along the way.


(1) Sugar free challenge (apart from wine) – to stick to the ONE LINE RULE diet. (which is not eating products that contain more than 5% sugar)
Even though I confessed in Sunday’s blog that I finally broke my sugar fast on Saturday night while watching a movie at the Village Gold Class Cinema and devouring a Choc Top, I’m going to stick with this one. People have asked why, and I have to say one of the main reasons is how I FEEL. I feel happier and healthier and have loads more energy than ever before. That’s why this is the BEST of all my New Year’s resolutions. It really HAS made a difference. I’m not absolutely certain if it’s kicking sugar, or just that (touch wood) life is pretty good right now, giving me a more positive outlook, but I have a hunch it’s got more to do with the sugar business.

I also love the up-myself, smug feeling I get when standing in the supermarket queue with all those rows of sugar-laden chocolate bars staring at me, begging me to buy them. ‘Ha!’ I say to them. ‘Don’t even THINK you can tempt me! I KNOW you are evil and I am strong enough to resist you!!’ Juvenile, but fun. Empowering.

Chocolate protein balls

Chocolate protein balls

Emma the Guru’s recipe for chocolate protein balls has also been a big winner this week. I just LOVE them and they are now my regular afternoon treat. Just one… most days… Plus I managed THREE alcohol free days – a first in many weeks.



More food updates to come, so stay tuned. But I don’t get a tick for this resolution this week because of the Choc Top moment.

(2) Not to play I-Phone Games

Yes, all good here. A big tick this week.

EXCEPT… that I found a new replacement addiction. I did mention it in a previous Blog, but I’m now going to reveal the evidence. It’s quite brave of me really, because I know many will condemn me for being a complete nerd…


2000 piece jigsaw puzzle

2000 piece jigsaw puzzle

It all started when Veronica asked for a puzzle as one of her Christmas presents. She wanted something more challenging this time, so chose a 2000-piece puzzle. And after Christmas, she invited me to help her put it together. Like most teenagers, she lost interest not far into the game as it proved a tad more challenging than she’d expected…


Stage One...

Stage One…

Except that the rumpus room table was now covered with a barely completed puzzle and I couldn’t bear to pack it away until it had been conquered!

And so the fun began… It became an obsession. I’d start with thinking, ‘I’ll just finish off the parrot’s beak,’ and before I knew it, it was TWO AM!!!


Stage Two...

Stage Two…


Fletch was becoming quite annoyed. I was neglecting the family and household chores – scurrying away upstairs any moment I could to put this damn thing together.  ‘See – the cockatoo is done!’ I’d squeal with delight. He didn’t get it.



A puzzling mess...

A puzzling mess…

Nor was the family pleased I’d covered the floor with pieces. The jigsaw was taking over our lives. But I did love the fact that being up in the rumpus room meant I spent more time with Tom who would be watching sport or playing Play Station with friends while I puzzled away. Every time I fitted a piece, I’d shout ‘YAY’, to which he had to shout back ‘YAY!’ It was a wonderful bonding ritual.

Stage three...

Stage three…


One kind friend suggested my obsession was a reflection of what was happening in my life. That I was figuring stuff out in my head while doing the puzzle and piecing together elements in my life that made sense. I liked that one. I’ll run with that.



Stage Four...

Stage Four…


I think Fletch was more concerned I was regressing into a second childhood. But wait – I found evidence on the internet that doing jigsaw puzzles is wonderful exercise for the brain and makes people incredibly smart. Which means I am now a genius. Cool.



The missing link...

The missing link…


As I neared the end, one missing piece from the Toucan’s beak was driving me crazy. I knew it HAD to be green and black with a stripe in the middle – surely not that hard to find? But no, many a lengthy search proved fruitless… I worried the makers had stuffed up and sold me a puzzle minus a vital finishing piece…was my mission pointless???




Then, at two-thirty in the morning, I thought I was done, but STILL the piece was missing. The anxiety was torturous. I had to get to bed!! An easel with newspaper underneath to protect the carpet was next to the table. I shoved it aside and shook out the paper – and SWEET JOY – the missing piece spilled on to the carpet in all its glory. Victory. My mission was complete. Ahhh….

Picture perfect!

Picture perfect!


(3) To tidy my office before the end of March.

It’s an on-going, eternal nightmare, but I get a BIG TICK every week till the end of March. The best thing about this resolution is that it means I try to clear away a little bit off the desk each day. So progress, yes, even though it’s just tiny steps.

(4) To go to the gym at least 3 times a week.

I did it! I actually got to the gym THREE times PLUS I have enlisted the services of a new personal trainer – Ross Sheridan – who I began work with on Friday. And you know what? If I hadn’t made an appointment to meet him on Friday, I doubt I would have made it to the gym. Hence the value of personal trainers. I really do need to be accountable… Still, very up-myself for making it to the gym three times. A big tick.

(5) To NEVER smoke another cigarette again.

The best part about this resolution is that it really belongs in last year’s resolution basket, and I am pleased to report, it’s SO much easier this year than last year. So, if it’s of any help to smokers out there, it DOES get better. I also suffer much less from smoker’s envy in social situations, which is fantastic. Another big tick.

Overall, checking the scorecard – that’s four ticks out of five this week, so I’m pretty happy.
Until next week!


Actor Samuel Johnson – facing the ride of his life as his sister battles breast cancer


Me with Samuel Johnson

Me with Samuel Johnson

I first met Samuel Johnson last year, after enrolling in the Howard Fine Acting Studio master class. World-renowned teacher Howard Fine was himself visiting Australia to teach this course and it seemed like an incredible opportunity to hone my rather limited acting skills. Sam was assigned as my ‘scene partner’ and knowing his enormous talent from watching him for years on the hit TV show ‘The Secret Life of Us’, I was a tad daunted at the prospect of working with him.


Luckily for me, Sam has an extremely generous spirit, and was patient and encouraging with my lack of expertise. It was an absolute delight working with him and I’ll be forever grateful for his support. Getting up in front of an audience, knowing your performance is to be critiqued shortly afterwards, is terrifying and I was reassured that Sam also found the experience, not only rewarding, but nerve-wracking.

But if you think that sounds challenging, wait till you hear about Sam’s next project. It is truly inspirational.

Tragically, Sam’s sister Connie is dying of breast cancer. In a bid to raise awareness and ONE MILLION DOLLARS for the Garvan Institute to conduct research, Sam is going to set a new world record – riding around Australia on a unicycle. You’d think riding a bike alone would be tough enough – but on such an ungainly contraption? Sam’s aim is to break the Guinness Book of Records world record for the longest distance covered on a unicycle.

Sam with his sister, Connie

Sam with his sister, Connie

The launch is going to be massive and you’re all invited. It’s kicking off just after midday in Federation Square in Melbourne, on Friday, February 15th. Put it in your diary now! Sam wants as many people as possible to turn up, to form a human corridor for him to ride through and cheer him on his way for the start of his epic journey.

Sam on his unicycle

Sam on his unicycle

It will be a stirring event, with a 40-strong drumming band from Mornington High School beating out their support as well as other entertainment. And while the drums beat louder and louder and the cheering from the crowds reaches a crescendo, Sam will ride off the stage, through the human corridor, to begin a ride that may take the entire year.

Channel Ten’s The Project is also supporting Sam’s ride and will be covering the launch with a feature piece that evening, as well as stories during the course of Sam’s ride. Sam’s thrilled to have the program’s backing, knowing how important it is to raise national awareness for his mission to be a success.


There’ll also be a one-hour program on Network Ten, documenting his ride when he finishes. Sam’s first port of call is Melton, before heading off to Adelaide and then Darwin.

It’s taken a long time for the ride to become a reality. Much planning and sponsorship sourcing has been taking place, ever since Sam and Connie came up with the idea.

Sam and Connie

Sam and Connie

‘My sister, Connie, was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago,’ he said. ‘As often happens, this brought us all closer and we were keen to find a way to turn the negative into a positive. In facing her own mortality, my sister was forced to confront the issue of her legacy. She’s determined to leave a large one. And she’s desperate to prevent even just one other young mother from befalling the same fate.’


Connie has two young boys – Willoughby and Hamilton – aged five and six years old.

‘Not being able to see that through is obviously a cause of great pain and sorrow for her,’ said Sam. ‘In a way, this event we’ve hatched together serves as a way to show the kids the kind of spirit she encompasses. It’s not just something to keep her ‘up’ as she goes down… It’s not just an appeal for every woman in the land to be breast aware. It’s a chance for us to prove together to our families that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. No matter how bad the situation is.’

I was curious as to why Sam chose a unicycle as his form of transport. Turns out he’s already taken a long trip on a unicycle – riding from Sydney to Melbourne to raise money for the children’s cancer charity, Canteen, which helped Connie in her early years. Connie is not only battling breast cancer now – she survived two earlier bouts of cancer when a child. On that ride alone, Sam raised half a million dollars.

Sam in training

Sam in training

‘Obviously, with her diagnosis being so grim, we needed a concept that gave us the best way to remind every mum in the land to be breast aware. One of the best ways we could think of to do that was to go around the country and engage directly with communities.’

For Sam, the unicycle gives him a point of difference and attracts a lot of media interest. ‘I had to find something that hadn’t been done before,’ he said. ‘Otherwise I’m just another charity gig.’



The unicycle itself poses many difficult challenges. It’s much slower than a regular bike, so Sam will be in the saddle for up to EIGHT HOURS A DAY. Sam admits he prefers riding a bicycle but is willing to do it tough if it makes his mission a success. ‘There’s a greater margin for error with a unicycle and it requires an enormous amount of concentration and physical aptitude,’ he said.

A good point, I thought. So what happens when the going gets rough – when he’s faced with rocky dirt roads – and God knows, there are plenty of those circling our sunburnt country. Sam just smiled.’ Well of course they’ll hurt the ball-ios a bit more. And it sounds strange, but you get used to the pain.’

Ouch. Doesn’t sound like fun… I’m just starting to get a sense of how physically testing this journey is actually going to be. Sam though, is well aware of what he’s in for. ‘It’s going to be extremely painful and painfully extreme,’ he said. ‘But I won’t be enduring half of what my sister is going through.’

Sam at Riva restaurant, St Kilda

Sam at Riva restaurant, St Kilda

Sam’s training schedule has been arduous. He’s had to achieve an almost professional level of fitness to be able to conduct the ride over the distance he’s planning. ‘It sounds incredibly simple, but in amongst all the madness of putting my life on hold to organise this event, I’ve got to constantly remind myself that fitness is paramount. I cannot condition my body enough for this task. But I’ve got to be sure that on Day One, I’m the fittest I can be. As well, psychologically it’s going to be an amazing test.’



For this purpose, Sam gave up smoking and drinking several months ago, and says he’s enjoying his fitter lifestyle. Lunching at Riva, there wasn’t a ciggie in sight, nor did a drop of alcohol pass his lips.

I asked Sam if he’d miss acting while taking a year off and would he return to it when the ride was done. ‘Who knows what I’ll want at the end of this crazy thing?’ he said. ‘I imagine I’ll essentially stay the same person. After all, I don’t know how to do anything else, so I don’t know what else I’d go back to. But I can only think of the bike ride right now.’

So is he confident he’ll actually make it around Australia? Does he hold any doubts? ‘Healthy doubt, yes. True doubt – no,’ he said firmly. I believe him.

It’s a delicate question, but I asked Sam if time is of essence – given Connie’s condition. ‘I’d like Connie to be there at the finish line,’ he said.’The fantasy for me is that I cross the finish line in to her arms and she’s crying with pride and she’s still alive. As most people if professional sport will tell you, fairytales rarely happen, and I certainly don’t expect her to be there at the finish line, but we can hope.’

Sam’s hope stems from the fact that Connie has already defied medical predictions for her health. ‘But once she goes downhill, I suspect it will happen within weeks. Should she die while I’m doing the ride, I’d fly back for her funeral then fly straight back to continue on the road an push even harder. We’ve talked about that. Either way, she knows I’ll finish it.’

As I said, Sam’s mission and attitude are truly inspirational. I know I’ll be there cheering him on when he heads off from Federation Square. I’ll hope you’ll join me.


If you’d like to donate to support Sam, visit his website, Love Your Sister at http://loveyoursister.org

And to keep up-to-date with all the news about Sam’s epic journey, check his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/loveyoursister

How I fell off the NO-SUGAR wagon…


I blame that seductive Gold Class cinema. How dare it be such a perfect host – wrapping me up in the comfort of those cushioning lounges, dim lights, luscious food and wine, transporting me to another world of cinematic fantasy – no wonder my defences were down!

Village Gold Class Cinema, Jam Factory

Village Gold Class Cinema, Jam Factory

For twenty-six days, I stuck firmly to the NO SUGAR – ONE LINE RULE diet, but an evening at the movies last night defeated me…

Knowing I was going out with friends, I’d deliberately stuck to a healthy diet all day. Muesli and yoghurt for breakfast, a can of tuna and Cruskits for lunch, cashews for a snack, plus homemade protein balls – making sure I ate nothing containing more than five per cent sugar.

Shaw and Smith Chardonnay

Shaw and Smith Chardonnay

I’d had an alcohol-free day, the day before, so was delighted when I spied a bottle of one of my favourite chardonnays – Shaw and Smith – on the Gold Class menu. Wine doesn’t come into my version of a sugar-free diet, so I thought I’d treat myself while watching the movie. And Gold Class is like flying first-class on an airline – just as comfy and uber-indulgent, but much more affordable…

Sucked into a world of make-believe and happily scoffing back my wine, it didn’t take long to forget about my sugar-free diet. Now I know I’ve had wine on many occasions while sticking to this diet, but I think it’s the combination of wine and being IN THE DARK and watching a movie, that led to my next mistake.


Choc top ice-cream

Choc top ice-cream

Towards the end of the movie, a friend passed along a box of another of my favourite treats – CHOC TOP ICE-CREAMS!! Without thinking, eyes still glued to the screen, I reached out and grabbed one, whipped off the cellophane and chomped away. After the first mouthful, the realisation hit me.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING????? DAMN! Too late. So of course, I finished it.




So there you have it. I will never be like Emma the Guru who hasn’t had a lolly for seven years. (see Friday’s blog) She has the resolve of a nun. But I DID last TWENTY-SIX DAYS!!  I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I knew I’d have to break sooner or later. And you know what, that Choc Top was the best Choc Top I’ve ever eaten in my life. Bloody well worth it.

Back on sugar-free band wagon today. Will keep you posted.

The Solution to any Valentine’s Day Blues

Roses are red… but is your heart blue?

Roses are red… but is your heart blue?

Christmas is barely done and dusted and already the shops are over-flowing with chocolate hearts and mushy greeting cards. I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. Despite so many people whinging that it’s a load of commercial claptrap, I think if you’re given half a reason to celebrate a loving relationship with one of your nearest and dearest, then why the hell not?


But I’m well aware there are many cynics out there who despise the date and loathe doing ANYTHING to celebrate. It can be particularly problematical if you’re in a relationship where one partner WANTS to do something and the other doesn’t. Well guys, HERE’S THE SOLUTION!!

Book tickets now!!

Book tickets now!!


Make your Valentine’s Day about giving to a good cause – raising funds for heart research – and what more appropriate a charity for Valentine’s Day? To raise funds for St Vincent’s Hospital.

Rather than forking out for an expensive dinner and gifts, but two tickets to this wonderful cocktail party – jam-packed with prizes and an amazing goodie bag – and your problems are solved. Morally, you’re doing the ‘right thing’ and at the same time, indulging your partner’s need for a romantic night out. And there will be romance – don’t worry – I’m part of the organising committee.

Just some of The Sisterhood  committee - Jill McKenna, Rachel Holland, Kristen Kennedy, Kate McGrath, Suzy Harris, me, Amber Petty and Karen Grigg

Just some of The Sisterhood committee – Jill McKenna, Rachel Holland, Kristen Kennedy, Kate McGrath, Suzy Harris, me, Amber Petty and Karen Grigg at The Long Room, 162 Collins Street, Melbourne

Formed more than a year ago, The Sisterhood is made up of a bunch of dynamic Melbourne women who want to ‘make a difference’. I was chuffed to be asked to join them. (when I say dynamic – I mean them, not me – I just write a Blog) Last year we held our inaugural ‘girls only’ cocktail party that was a smashing success and a ripper of a night. It was limited in numbers though and tickets sold out very quickly.

This time we’re including blokes, so all couples can come along. Plus it’s going to be held at The Deck, at The Prince in St Kilda – arguably Melbourne’s coolest function venue. But again, we are limited in numbers, so if you want to come along, get on-line quick and purchase a couple of tickets. There are a few surprises in store in terms of entertainment, and there will be a DJ at the end of the evening so you can work up a sweat on the dance floor.

I met with the girls this week on Wednesday night to thrash out the nuts and bolts of the night and I know it’s going to be amazing. We met at The Long Room in the city and I’ve got to say, what a fabulous venue THAT is! Because we had a long list of business items to address, it was great to be at a restaurant that can serve up plates of sensational finger food – SO much easier to manage with a group – so we weren’t too distracted by food from the tasks at hand. We had a great night – which is why I know the Valentine’s Party will be huge – get this group cracking with a guest list and watch out! There’s already a huge buzz about the night and it’s wonderful to know people are right behind the cause.

Heart disease is still the biggest killer (medically speaking) in Australia, but there’s not much fund-raising or attention to the issue out there, so we’re hoping to address that. Just about everyone on the committee has a family member affected by heart issues. For me, my Dad had a pace-maker fitted last year, then complications meant further surgery this year.

I really hope you’ll join us on Valentine’s Day to support this fantastic and extremely worthwhile cause, as well as being able to have a brilliant night. See you at The Deck!

To book tickets, click on here:







Emma the anti-sugar Guru – PLUS a special recipe tip


The more I talk with Emma Dumas about the sugar-free ONE LINE RULE diet, the more respect I have for her knowledge and advice. Henceforth, from here on, I will refer to Emma only as Emma the Guru.  (and for newbies, the ONE LINE RULE diet means you can only eat products that contain five per cent or less sugar -always check the nutrition label on all products!)

Emma the Guru

Emma the Guru

I’ve been trying to stick to the ONE LINE RULE diet since New Year’s Eve. I’ve only broken it once – inadvertently – but it is tough. I REALLY miss my chocolate and cakes. And ice-cream. Another reason I call Emma – Emma the Guru – is that she hasn’t eaten ONE lolly or chocolate in seven years. Which is quite phenomenal. In a bow-down-and-scrape-WOW kinda way. Because I am a serious sugar addict.

Lorne Greens

Lorne Greens


Emma also sells one of the only breakfast cereals on the market, THE MUESLI, which is practically sugar-free. It’s mostly sold at exclusive health stores. You can find your nearest stockist by going to The Muesli’s website at http://themuesli.com.au
Emma the Guru’s range is spreading far and wide. From this summer, you can now find The Muesli -even as far away as Lorne at a super cute health shop called Lorne Greens. Yep, I was there and saw it on the shelf. Very impressed!


And no, I am not paid to write this. I bought my own The Muesli at a local health shop yesterday. Emma is a friend, and I am supporting her product because I believe in it and I don’t ask for freebies. And it tastes bloody good. I can’t find anything else that comes close. If you can – let me know.

But it’s now 24 days into this ONE LINE RULE diet and it’s getting a bit boring. I’m also a bit worried that in order to compensate for the lack of sugary treats in my life, I’m over-indulging in every protein bar under five per cent sugar on the planet. This can’t be good – can it? I decided I needed to talk with Emma the Guru for some more advice – and hopefully inspiration – to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Here’s how our chat went:

Jen: So I suppose it’s not good that I’m eating so many protein bars and sugar substitute treats, is it?
Emma: My belief is that the sugar addiction is very much based on that sweet taste which is what you crave. So if you can, try and get away from needing to supplement that sweet taste and ultimately that craving should go away. But in the beginning, particularly if you have been quite addicted, definitely take the odd substitute and have a couple of Jols or something.

Jen: Are protein balls okay?
Emma: I think so. But I also make some great protein balls that have chocolate protein powder and raspberries in them. The kids love them in school lunches.

I had to interrupt our interview at this point, because the instant I heard about these protein balls, I just had to have the recipe. (That magic word ‘chocolate’ did the trick) Especially knowing what a good cook Emma the Guru is…

Here’s how to make them:

Ingredients for Emma the Guru's protein balls

Ingredients for Emma the Guru’s protein balls


The Muesli (of course..) -2 cups
Fresh raspberries – 1 cup
Tahini – 3 to 4 tablespoons
Protein powder – 2 to 3 tablespoons (like Donna Aston’s Protein Supreme chocolate flavour)
Cocoa – a tablespooon
Sweetener – optional



If you’re a really big sweet tooth (like me) you may also want to throw in a spoonful of a sweetener like Stevia. Emma says you mix the whole lot up in a big bowl. The tahini makes everything stick, so you can then roll it up into small balls and place on a tray in the fridge to set.

It’s messy to make and you’ll start to feel like a mud wrestler, but on the upside, you get to lick your fingers.

A yummy mess

A yummy mess

Finger-licking good

Finger-licking good








Now back to the interview.

Jen: I’ve given up so much. Why aren’t I losing weight? What am I doing wrong? Too much alcohol? Too many protein bars?
Emma: I firmly believe that over time, you will absolutely lose weight. You will see it happen. It may just be a slower progression for some.

Jen: Well I suppose I have lost half a kilo.
Emma: Well half a kilo is good! And you really haven’t had to put yourself out too much to lose it.

Jen: What else could I do to help?
Emma: The other thing would be to cut out processed carbs. Anything white really. Processed breads, any processed foods. And generally the ONE LINE RULE cuts out loads of processed foods anyway. But if you do want to accelerate your weight loss a little bit, just cut out processed foods and anything white – potato, rice, pastry and definitely avoid pasta.

Jen: Generally speaking, what is your diet? Do you eat The Muesli for breakfast all the time?
Emma: I do! I eat The Muesli every day.

Jen: What about morning tea?
Emma: No. I find myself sitting at my desk and find myself thinking, “God, I’m starving!” but by then it’s one o’clock in the afternoon and time for lunch. And that is the first time I’ve thought about food because The Muesli seriously fills me up. I might think to have a cup of tea, but I really never eat anything till lunchtime.

Jen: So what do you have for lunch?
Emma: Lunch for me would be something from the fridge – mix up a whole lot of rocket with tuna or salmon and avocado. Or leftovers. I’m a big fan of leftovers. But I think if you’re modifying your diet and avoiding processed foods, then as long as you have a serve of protein and a big serve of salad, you’ll be fine and you will eventually lose weight. And cook a bit extra for dinner – like a bit of extra chicken of fillet and then you can eat that for lunch the next day.

Jen: How important is exercise?
Emma: Oh, I ‘m a big believer in exercise – as much for your mind as anything else. But while exercise helps, I think we lose sight of the fact that losing weight and keeping your body the way you want it is 95% about what you put into your mouth. So yes, I exercise most days – walking and pilates – but first and foremost, I watch what goes into my mouth.

Jen: I love snacks though. So any tips for that problem?
Emma: Well the protein balls we just talked about are good. Or some cheese. And blinis. (small pancakes)  Make these with rolled oats or oat bran – I even grind up some of The Muesli – mix that with some egg and yoghurt, salt and pepper and make little blinis. These are divine with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers.

Jen: What advice can you give me to keep going and stick with this sugar free mission?
Emma: It always depends on just how bad your addiction is. You’ve just got to keep telling yourself that it is an addiction and that it is something inflicted on us by a food industry that will keep on doing it. Everywhere you go, we have sweet treats on shelves in shops, shoved in our faces. It is tough. But the health benefits are massive and you will feel so much better.

Okay. I’m convinced. I’m going to stick with this sugar free mission for a bit longer. Especially now I have the recipe for those chocolate protein balls!! I’ve got a whole tray of them in the fridge now. Enough writing – time for a snack!

Chocolate protein balls

Chocolate protein balls

(p.s. For the recipe, Emma the Guru recommends using Donna Aston’s chocolate protein powder called ‘Protein Supreme’ as others on the market are loaded with sugar. Donna’s on-line store is at http://www.donnaaston.com/store/index.php?category=3)


Happy Lamb Day… I mean, Happy Australia Day!

I declared myself a vegetarian when I was nine. It all stemmed from a bad case of food poisoning. I was convinced the cause was ‘bad meat’, so went off it for a bit. Then I decided it was ‘cool’ to tell everyone I was a vegetarian. Which led to much scoffing and disbelief – especially from my older brothers. Determined to prove them wrong, I stuck to my guns and didn’t eat the stuff till I moved out of home into a shared house NINE YEARS LATER where it was easier to feast with the tribe.

Australia Day Lamb Dinner at Breezes, Crown

Australia Day Lamb Dinner at Breezes, Crown              (photo by Michael Tan)

Truth be told, I’d been craving red meat all those years I lived at home. BBQs were hell. I secretly salivated over the aroma, wishing I’d never been so loud with my vegetarian boast. These days I don’t need to pretend anymore, so was delighted to be invited to the annual Australia Day Dinner hosted by the nation’s lamb ambassador, the inimitable Sam Kekovich.


Being a balmy evening, the crowd gathered in the courtyard to soak up some Aussie sun, sipping pre-dinner drinks and devouring lamb nibbles before being invited into the marquee. Here are a few of the lucky ones invited along:

The host, Sam Kekovich, caught up with Amber Petty

Of COURSE, the host, Sam Kekovich was there and caught up with one of the guests, Amber Petty

Paige and Stephen Quartermain

Paige and Stephen Quartermain









Donna Demaio and Michael Wooldridge

Donna Demaio and Michael Wooldridge

Alyce PLatt and Ally Fowler

Alyce Platt and Ally Fowler










Luke Dennehy and friend

Luke Dennehy and Kirra Bothwell

Vicki Paulin with Gerard with Kathy Doherty

Vicki Paulin with Gerard with Kathy Doherty (photo by Michael Tan)









Kate Neilson and Michele Phyman

Magali and Brad Nonnenmacher

Magali and Brad Nonnenmacher (photo by Michael Tan)



Guests were then ushered into a beautifully decked out marquee, lined with Aussie flags. Sam’s voice could be heard above all, welcoming his special guests and telling everyone how he’d cut short his holiday in New York to make sure he could be at the dinner. It couldn’t be an official lamb occasion without the man – he’s been the face of Aussie lamb for years – known for his signature rants and politically incorrect sense of humour.

The Australia Day Lamb Dinner

The Australia Day Lamb Dinner

Not long into the function Sam introduced his latest lamb campaign – LAMBNESIA. He’s calling on all Australians to take the test and see how ‘Australian’ you really are. Just click on to the Lamnesia website at http://lambnesia.com.au to take the test – it only takes a minute or two and is a bit of fun.

There were games to be had on the night too – ‘Celebrity Head’ where ‘real’ celebrity guests were invited on to the stage and take part – Stephen Quartermain one of the quickest to spot his alter ego was none other than our Grand-Dame Edna Everage.

Playing 'Celebrity Head'

Playing ‘Celebrity Head’ (photo by Michael Tan)

Guests enjoyed a fabulous feast – the entree of lamb ravioli was particularly scrumptious – washed down with some fine wine, supplied by d’Arenberg.

d'Arenberg Shiraz

d’Arenberg Shiraz


Although normally a chardonnay fan, I found the Shiraz complimented the lamb perfectly. And if you peer closely enough through the glass, you can see the little fella on the other side that I took home as my souvenir from a highly entertaining evening. Happy Australia Day!


(p.s. Yes, I KNOW Australia Day is in 3 days time – just kicking off festivities early!)


New Year’s Resolution Update – plus a drinking debate


Sometimes I wonder why I do it to myself. WHY? Why would I tell you I’m going to post weekly New Year’s Resolution updates? How stupid. Does anyone actually stick to their resolutions? I must say, with a couple of those declarations, I DID add the disclaimer – NOT during holidays, so I can let myself off the hook until this week, but seriously, I am NOT doing well so far.

I also have mixed feelings about a very positive step I took today. I’ve signed up with a new personal trainer – Ross. He’s a lovely man – very encouraging and patient. I know he’s patient because I promised to email him last SEPTEMBER with my health background, with the view of starting way back then… But I’m lazy. And life happens. Work commitments and travel got in the way, and then I injured a glute muscle trying to climb over rocks in the Grampians, so I kept putting it off – until today.



So I AM proud of myself that I had a meeting with Ross this morning and am booked to begin on Friday. All good. What’s NOT so good is Ross’ take on my resolutions. He clearly thinks I’m appalling when it comes to alcohol consumption. He’s happy with my sugar-free mission, but when I proposed that MY RULES also allowed me to drink wine four nights a week, he practically choked on his whistle. Eyes popping, ‘Four?’ he gasped. ‘You drink FOUR nights a week?’


‘Well that’s what I’m aiming for,’ I said. ‘I think three alcohol-free days is pretty good, isn’t it?’ Clearly not. Ross needs to meet my friends.

‘No,’ he said firmly. ‘Have you any IDEA how much sugar is in a glass of wine? You should only drink ONE DAY a week.’

ONE DAY? Is he kidding? But then, Ross gave up alcohol eighteen months ago – purely as a health challenge – and he likes being pure so much, he’s continued. I don’t think that’s on my agenda. I enjoy wine – especially chardonnay. A good chardonnay is like liquid gold to the palate – in moderation, of course.

Hmmm…. this could be a challenging relationship. Our views on drinking are dramatically opposed. But, maybe – just maybe – this is what I need?

Next stop - Dan Murphy

Next stop – Dan Murphy


Regardless, I didn’t tell him my next stop after the gym was to pop in to Dan Murphy’s to buy a present for my hairdresser (Grey Goose Vodka) and to refill Fletch’s beer supplies. Friends often pop in at our place and there’s nothing more embarrassing than an empty fridge. Oh yes, I also picked up a couple of bottles of chardonnay…

But let’s get back to that resolution update. Here are my pathetic results from last week:



(1) Sugar free challenge (apart from wine) – to stick to the ONE LINE RULE diet. (Which means not eating anything that contains more than 5% sugar.)
This is the only resolution I ALMOST get a tick for. While the THREE alcohol-free days rule doesn’t apply during holidays, I still managed two alcohol-free days, so I’m feeling okay about this one. Ross might not be impressed, but I am.

Yoplait yoghurt

Yoplait yoghurt


I did, however, have one major disappointment with this resolution, and it was by accident. I was helping myself to a serving of yoghurt for afternoon tea, when half way through, I thought I should ‘double check’ the sugar content, even though I was sure I’d already done that and I was fine.


BUT, this flavour – apple pie – comes in a six-pack and I discovered the sugar content I’d read was for ANOTHER FLAVOUR!!! Damn!! The apple pie yoghurt ended up being 7.4% sugar, so inadvertently, I’d stuffed up.

SO I get a cross for this resolution this week, but I will persist.
(2) Not to play I-Phone Games

I get a big, fat cross here too, because I played Baker’s Game – a form of solitaire – on my I-phone one night when I was finding it hard to get to sleep. It’s a bad habit I know – relying on an I-phone to get to sleep – but I blame Fletch. He won’t let me read (even with a reading light) while he’s sleeping because he says it wakes him up. Very selfish of him really, so I say it’s all his fault. But yes, I still get another cross…

(3) To tidy my office before the end of March

This is an easy one. I have weeks ahead of me to get TICKS till the end of March! I am making progress though. Albeit slowly…

(4) To go to the gym at least 3 times a week
This is a tricky one as the disclaimer on this resolution, was “except for when on holidays”. Overall, I was NOT on holidays for half a week, (last week)  so it’s awkward to assess… I DID do a spin class this morning, but no, that’s only one visit to the gym for the whole week, so really I probably deserve a CROSS. Damn. It’s hard with the kids on holidays to find the motivation…

(5) To NEVER smoke another cigarette again

I get a tick here too, although I did willingly chase the smokers outside last night to stand near them and inhale their second-hand smoke. But I did NOT actually smoke a cigarette. Second-hand fumes don’t count. Another tick, thank you!

Overall, checking the scorecard, that’s only TWO out of FIVE. A poor result.I am taking myself off for time out in the naughty corner. I will attempt to pull my finger out next week. Promise. Surely with Ross on side I can do better? How are you going with your resolutions? I’d love to hear stories from someone else who’s finding it tough!