Bike, rain, and wine

We ventured out of the Melbournian box and took a short little trip out to the Yarra Valley with our bikes and buddies, Gerardo and Diana, last weekend. The Yarra Valley is about 45 minutes outside of Melbourne and is home to a beautiful country side filled with rolling hills, delicious vineyards and vast farmlands. The area serves as a much-needed escape from the bustling city and concrete jungle.

In theory, biking on a trail from winery to winery sounds like a great way to spend a weekend, but the weather and steep hill variables were not considered before making these plans. If you are considering biking the Yarra Valley bike trail, hope for sunny and dry weather and plan your wine tasting tour on a separate trip. Joe and Gerardo rode up on the train to Lilydale with Joe’s wheelchair and hand cycle while Diana and I drove up in the torrential rain with our luggage and three other bikes. As the rain kept pounding on the windshield, we questioned our intentions to bike around the valley. The warning signs didn’t scare off the boys. From the Lilydale station, they found the Warburton Trail and headed through the mud to our first stop at the Whispering Hills Cellar Door. Soaking wet and covered in mud, the adventure seeking men dried up next to the cozy wood stove chimney and we all enjoyed some incredible Persian Feta (among other yummy cheeses) and a great selection of wine. The Chardonnay is a must try at Whispering Hills! We ended evening with a warm, delicious dinner at the Innocent Bystander in Healesville. Known for their Moscato on tap, the Innocent Bystander delivers multiple gastronomic treats from the cheese room to the artisan bakery and everything in between. Be sure to check them out if you’re in the area!

Joe booked us into a bed and breakfast home to some friendly pets: mini ponies and lambs, Baaarb and Baaart! Sue and Graeme at Woodhaven Park provided a comfortable and lovely home away from home.

The second day we rode on praying the rain had made its way out of the valley.

Joe back on his bike, working on those biceps and staying dry on day 2.

Gerardo toting along Joe’s wheelchair on a questionably reliable milk crate. We’re classy down under!

It turns out that although the Warburton Trail doesn’t actually take the bikers, pedestrians, horses and pets enjoying the trail sights to the wineries’ front doors, a biking winery tour in Yarra Valley is possible… hard work, but possible. Engaging our powerful quads (and biceps), we muscled our way up steep hills to enjoy the free wine tastings the wineries have to offer (Free Alert: most things in Australia aren’t cheap, much less free, but all the wineries offer free tastings of their deliciously fermented grape juices!). The first stop was a bust with only two wines on the tasting menu, but at the second stop: Seville Estate a friendly winery dog welcomed us to wine room with a stunning valley view and big, bold award-winning wines. Home to some of the best wines I’ve had in Australia, Joe and I came home with a 2008 Shiraz and an Old Vine 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. After wetting our palettes and working up an appetite, we headed for winery No. 3 for the day.

At Seville Estates.

What goes up, must come down and (in the case of winery hunts on this trip)… must come up again. After a few kilometers of tough, calorie burning hills, our welcomed wine happiness started wearing off and muscle fatigue set in. Turns out that normal business hours aren’t necessarily standard in the valley, so winery 3, Ainsworth Estate, had no wine or cheese to offer us that day.

Diana and Joe owning the road (this was a nice hill).

Friendly tip: Call ahead of time to ensure tasting rooms are open (and serving food if you’re hungry).

With a 1 for 3 track record for the day we were hoping to break even with our last stop at Brimfield Winery.  We struck gold with the homey tasting room and café. Treated to a special home-made Dukkah (a delicious Egyptian spice and nut mixture) with olive oil and bread, the small family run winery provided the much-needed fuel we needed to bike back to the car and train station to begin our trip home.

Accessorizing with our helmets, we headed back after a nice, short weekend getaway.

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I finally dyed it!

I’ve highlighted my hair since high school (that’s a long, long time for those who don’t know) and I’ve spent the last 10+ years not really knowing what my natural hair color looks like. Finding comfort in blonde and avoiding not being washed out to a hepatitis-y look, I was fearful to find out what that natural color had in store.  So… after over a decade, I’m back to brunette… well kinda. I’m ombre! In an attempt to cut hair maintenance costs, a wise and very fashionable friend suggested I ombre my hair. After “researching” any possible DIY techniques (ala YouTube) and consulting with the said wise friend, I opted to go professional dye job (always a good choice since I have never been happy with DIY hair results)… and in 1 hour, I went from roots in need of some love to ombre. Have a look!

The ombre (or balayage in Aussie) technique blends hair color from dark roots to light ends. I know there are a lot of different ways to achieve this look, but my stylist added three different colors in my hair and it all  blended pretty nicely. Hope this helps make my transition from blonde to brunette a little easier to bear. We’ll see if brunettes can have more fun!

Aussie is the new normal

We define new normals all the time, but when things like stores closing at 6pm on weeknights, saying “how you going” to greet people, and incorporating about 50 “no worries” into daily speech became more normal than not, I realized that I am home. I jump on the tram or train without hesitation (and actually know where I’m going). I don’t even look at wines from other countries on the wine lists anymore… local Aussie wine only for this lady please! Melbourne and the Aussie way are my new normal. Stress free, easy going, amazing food, city living, normal.

With a new normal set comfortably into place, I’ve also sinked in to a bit of nostalgia for the old normal. For outdoor wine nights with friends (with California wines), sunny beach walks, daily catch-ups with family (especially my drive home calls to mom), and slobbery kisses from my four-legged girls as a welcome home from work. The blog and facebook updates are also less frequent because of this normalcy. As exotic and adventurous as living down under sounds, the fact is that our day-to-day lives don’t differ much from when we were in L.A. Our lives have adopted the local culture and we’re considered… scoff… normal (but still totally rad of course). We work, eat out, grocery shop (not using the granny cart as much these days… must be learning some city living tricks of the trade), have poker nights, work out, do yoga, watch movies, check out live music venues, entertain with dinner at our place… you know, the norm. I miss miss miss all the amazing people we shared those lovely “normal” things with back in L.A., but it hardly seems like the daily activities are something to write home about… or a blog post at that (but here it is anyway).

 Dinner with me, Joe, Geoff, Vish & Emma. Mexican feast and blood orange margaritas on the menu!


Lazy dinner night with Jimmy and Colleen… wine, pizza and a very special cutie pattutie!

Did you pick up on the similar camera angle? Thank goodness for bar carts and self timers to help capture memories!

New normal or old normal, normal or not, life continues to roll on with amazing people coming in and out of it giving us exactly what we need in that moment. I miss my amigos back home more than I can describe, but love the new ones I’m making in Melbourne. We’re so lucky to have amazing people to pick up along our journey! I wish we could carry each amazing friend in our pocket like lucky pennies (or 5 cent coins for my Aussie friends) and never be so far away.

Fun fact: The lowest monetary denomination in Australia is the 5 cent coin. So if you buy something at $9.96 the change gets rounded up and you end up paying $10… although few things in Australia actually costs $10.

 

Spring Tease

Feels like I’ve come out of hibernation! The warm sun was shining on us in Melbourne today! Going from winter in LA (ok, ok… I know it’s not that bad) to winter in Melbourne was probably not the most strategic timing decision for a person who loves warmth and summer sun. After a full year sans summer, my transparent skin and dusty sunglasses are really ready to come out and play!

On my walk to work, I could have sworn that I must have misread the outlook of a nicer day on the daily local forecast. Like a weather Oreo, the sunny afternoon was the glorious goodness in the middle of the day between frigid morning and crisp afternoon! I’m only hoping that this wasn’t one of those irrationally optimistic days between winter and more winter just teasing us with the promise of blooming flowers and sun dresses to come.

I’m looking forward to the sun shining a little longer each day as the southern hemisphere says hello to my much awaited warmer climate!

Work, Play, and Yoga in the Rain

Winter in Melbourne has been chilly… cold, a little wet, and sunless. Rain or shine, work, play and yoga must go on!

Work

Being a part of the lululemon team has been amazing. Not only do I have a rad place to walk (13 minutes on foot) or bike (7 minutes door to door) every day, but I get to wear my favorite clothes, work with great people, learn more about the company’s culture, and push myself to find my limits and set my life goals all in a day’s work. It’s pretty perfect!

As part of the work I’m doing in the store, I’ve had the opportunity to help out with ambassador photo shoots and do some yoga poses of my own on the steps of the Parliament to capture some photos for the store’s newsletter!

Yoga at the Parliament steps with my favorite new lululemon to and from sweater! It actually started to rain on us during my double pigeon.

Melbourne sunrise – early morning to photo shoot (yes, those are hot air balloons in the distance)!

Our photo shoot team! So much fun with Sally (Photo credit: Sally Goodall Photography), AJ and Nadine (Yoga with Nadine).

Play

The bone chilling weather has kept us (against Joe’s will) in the apartment more than I’d like to admit. Dinners out with friends help break-up the hibernation monotony, but it has been hard to brave the cold once I get home and am comfy in my luon!

Yoga

I’ve been exploring yoga studios in and around the city. I love that my job encourages getting to know the local studios! It’s been fun trying different styles and trends.

Flying in vampire at anti-gravity yoga at Vibes Fitness in Fitzroy!

I’m going to a yoga as a business workshop this weekend at Ohana Yoga in Albert Park. Stay tuned for some developments… business thinking in progress!

My Bali teacher training program is official! I’ll be spending 5 intense weeks in Bali this coming May! My goal is to practice yoga at least 5 days a week from now until then to prepare for the experience. Looking forward to solidifying this next step and transformation.