I know it's been asked by many, often by commentators or bloggers far more astute, but really, what kind of world do we live in where this happens? I'm watching telly last night when an ad comes on for the MTV Australia awards. Fair enough. So then, celebrity names start zooming at me, with the announcer in his announcy voice clearly calling out the celebs. Big names in the music industry from Australia and abroad fill my screen and my ears before... KIM KARDASHIAN (nope, that's probably not how you spell it, but I'm not going to add to her fame by googling how to spell her goddam name). So, we have serious music industry heavyweights, and someone whose claim to fame is
a. her buttocks
b. being Paris's former BFF
Music credentials? Oh, yes. Twas music producer and Brandy's bro who supplied the p for c.
NEVER google random symptoms because you won't get a sympathetic doctor who's spent years at university diagnosing you. Oh no, you'll get blunt results of a google search that'll leave the hypochondriac in you screaming "What, I'm having a cardiac malfunction?" or "Good lord no, not a brain tumour..." or possibly, "Surely not... good grief, is it possible for a disease to have that many letters? How on earth am I meant to pronounce that?"
Spooky. As I'm sitting at my desk, almost on my deathbed, I hear a scratching sound outside my window. I look up, and staring at me, from the house next door's gutter is a gigantic, glossy black crow. Ooooooh, so very Edgar A. Poe.
Cats are so self-centred. Our boofy boy, Mulberry, honestly and truly is positive that the world revolves around him. Despite being a British Shorthair he's more vocal that the most chatty Siamese - particularly when he wants some attention.
On the weekend we nabbed our daughter a desk - something she's been begging for. So as we were just installing it just so under her window Mulberry came tearing around the corner and leapt onto the desk, exactly at the moment it was finally placed. Looking around with a big grin (Lewis Carroll got it right when he modelled the Cheshire cat on a British Shorthair) Mulberry then proceeded to stare soulfully out the window - from his new desk. We'd obviously put it there so he could have a new perch. Annabella now has to remove fluffy blue creature from her desk whenever she wants to do her homework.
He feels the same way about wrap tops and dresses. Whenever I've chosen to wear one of these, he'll come scuttling down the hall at top speed, crashing into walls and doorways in his haste, just so he can frantically leap and claw at the ends of my belt as I flick them around trying to get dressed. Should I shoo him away, he looks up all injured, for destroying his fun, when obviously I was wearing that top/dress just for his entertainment. Strangely, if I'm wearing a non-wrap outfit he'll stay put - he somehow senses a wrap's about to come out - just like he knows when Matt's coming home and will start calling out as the car pulls into the kerb.
I'm under the weather with an unexplained illness. An annoying unexplained illness. Yesterday I was so ill that dragging myself upright was met by waves of nausea. I was so unwell that I couldn't even google "Nausea when upright" to diagnose myself.
Today I'm determined to feel better. Being sick's costing me a fortune! As a freelance writer and casual worker I only get paid for actual work that I do - and yesterday - zilch. Today, while I still feel erk, I'm determined to get something out of the day and do the work I'd normally do tomorrow - even if I feel squeamish while doing it.
If I have to be sick, I'd at least prefer my body to have a reason - this one - what's the point? I could go all Louise Hay and diagnose myself a la heal your body... but I'm scared about what she'd say? I wouldn't be surprised if my body's just reacting with total shock at the whole concept of sunshine and blue sky after a winter so miserable it'd make Patrick Dempsey's wife look happy.
My treatment? I'm going to go sit on the front lawn for 10 minutes, soak up the sunshine and let my nausea float away...
I am so happy about the rise in eco-consciousness as it now means I no longer have to skulk through the Salvos with a "Oh, I just dropped some stuff off..." excuse. No, now I'm being eco-conscious as I browse the racks. And I'll tell you what, I've found more gold on the shelves of op-shops than I ever have in any particular real store. Sure, I'll find the odd thing at Portmans, Sportsgirl or Myer, but not without feeling particularly ancient as I trawl the space. I feel positively spritely in my local second hand stores - which is always a good thing. I bought my hubby a shirt a month ago, and yesterday, we saw them on the shelves of Industrie - brand new, this season - except in that store they were selling for $79, not $4.50... So very happy.
It is true that you don't know what you miss till it's gone. I had no idea how much I need me a bit of sunshine in my life until we had weeks of torrential rain. Seriously it rained so much it almost shattered my adoration of the pitter patter of rain drops on our tin roof - and I love me some raindrops on a tin roof. But this weekend the sun exploded out, and the sky was blindingly blue. Bliss. I didn't think it could get any better - and then it did. Try champagne, riesling and a stonkingly divine meal of duck confit served up by friends. Yep, that'll do me. I do so love a good piece of duck, and am very impressed by our plan to have Georgina and Tom ship out a case of tins of confit from Paris next month. What better way to spend your money?
That was the good idea that came from so much wine. The not so good one? Me agreeing to cook rabbit for our next meal (disguising it as lapin for the girls!). Having only tasted rabbit once I'm a bit unsure - is it best rare, or slow cooked? I'll be doing some frantic googling and will let you know the results. But I reckon that so long as it's served with a darned good wine, baguette and has a tasty pudding for afters, I can't go too wrong. Can I?
But there's one Berger I can't stand - Jack Berger on SATC. He's on the re-runs at the moment and my revulsion toward his character runs deep. I realised it's so entrenched that when I saw a preview of House the other night, and heard that this poor actor's other, completely unrelated character, was due to die I thought "good".
Why do I loathe him so? Matt and I were analysing it last night. Is it how threatened Berger is by Carrie's success? Is it his 'witty repartee"? Is it that he just didn't 'get' the significance of a scrunchee? Or was it that their first, second and third tumble together was just so woeful? Probably a combination of all the above. Mr Big might have been a complete and utter bastard at times, but at least he had a fondness for Moon River - and that killer line that concluded the first and last of the series...
Bring on the film, and thanks for abstaining from the Berger.
I remember when I was young, my mum took me and my brother along to the eagerly anticipated Disney On Ice. I also remember feeling darned ripped off that it was mostly "anonymous skaters on ice", leading out the odd, gigantic bobble-headed Disney character, who'd tentatively weave their way across the ice gracing us with the odd royal wave.
However, today I'm heading out, with my daughter, my friend and her two girls to see another spectacular - High School Musical on ice. I know there'll be no bobble headed Zac or Vanessa gliding around the rink - even the kiddies these days don't expect the true Disney stars - just skaters with similar haircuts, the right tunes, and the red and white costumes.
Second slow-cooked lamb in the crockpot was even more of a success. I dashed to the farmers market and elbowed my way through the crowds to the Saltbush Lamb stall - and they were all but empty! Noooooooooo. Luckily, they did have a cheeky little shoulder for sale - which quickly went into my little Donna Hay shopping bag.
This morning I opened up the packaging, tossed it in the slow cooker - along with halved potatoes, halved onions, and quartered carrots, sweet potato and parsnips. I drizzled a teensy bit of lemon infused olive oil over, poured in half a cup of water, turned it on slow and left it for 9 hours.
I removed all the almost disintegrating vegies one-by-one, placed them on an oven tray and blasted them for 10 minutes on a moderately hot setting.
Then I made a cheat's gravy with Gravox and the pan juices.
Oh, and to make it extra wicked I drizzled a little maple syrup over the carrots and parsnips.
It's been raining pretty heavily here for the past few days and the washing pile has reached a staggering size. Spying a touch of blue yesterday I did two dark loads and hung them on the line, only to have them rained on over and over again. Oh well, at least any lingering stains will vanish.
However, I had both pairs of workout tights on the line, and netball tonight, so I grabbed them both and foolishly read the label - Do Not Tumble Dry. Exactly what can you tumble dry? Now I love my Hills Hoist. I'm a line-drying gal. It's meditative, effective and doesn't send my electricity bills and carbon score soaring. But when we get a soggy patch, how am I meant to wash and dry my clothes if all my labels warn me off the clothes dryer?
I know, I should just ignore the label - which I just did with jammies, socks and undies, but I did it guiltily. I didn't even check the label, just closed my eyes and thrust them in. Sigh. The perils of being so law-abiding...
I just want to thank my gorgeous friend Mel for reminding me about some of my fashion peeves.
I like individuality, people who express their personality in what they wear. I also am rather fond of updating one's look with something a little bit 'now' and 'fashion-forward'. I am not, however, fond of people slavishly following fashion with ill-regard as to more sensitive eyes.
Take shorts. In the summer I'm addicted to my Lorna Jane bootleg shorts when I'm having a bit of a sporting moment. But, I just can't go along with the formal shorts theme. I dunno, while they don't really reveal any more than a mini, there's just something about shorts that screams sports.
I also realised that I had a disapproving old lady moment over this whole 'jeans under the bum revealing boxers thang' that certain boys are affecting. It's not pretty, and it's not funny, and I just don't get it. Is it some type of variation on the red-bottomed monkeys exhibiting their sexual attractiveness? It reached an hilarious conclusion the other morning when a youth was sashaying along the platform at Hurlstone Park station, pants slung beneath butt cheeks... and, well, he'd kinda forgotten something - his boxers. Hilarity, obviously, ensued. Boy's face soon turned as red as aforementioned monkey's butt, and he reefed his pants high before scuttling to the end of the station.
I am beyond excited. I've just found out that David Sedaris - DAVID SEDARIS - is coming to Australia TO PROMOTE HIS NEW BOOK. I'd barely had time to recover from this when I found out that HIS PARTNER HUGH IS COMING TOO. I need to follow my bliss and stalk this man and the man who loves this man.
I adore the whole Sedaris family, well, at least Amy and David, although I reckon I'd love the rest of them if I ever had the chance to meet them. Few people are blessed with the ability to make me nearly choke at the anticipation of laughter, let alone cause me grievous bodily harm whenever I read a line or two.
Getting through a day without a smile seems pretty sad, but getting through a week without an hysterical laughing fit really shouldn't be experienced.
As much as I adore Autumn and Spring, I do not love what the trans-seasonal weather does to my skin and hair. Dry, scaly erky skin and frizzy, bleh hair. What's a girl to do?
Probably just slap on the moisturiser, serum and keep taking my Anthogenol wonder skin tablets. Rub about 1/2 a bottle of frizz-free serum stuff through my hair and then step outside, breathe in the crisp air... and smile. That'll do it.
That cleaning and tidying came naturally to me. I've tried to make myself a tidy person, you know, putting stuff away straight away, exactly where it belongs, not just in the next room - on the arm of a chair... Now while I'm getting okay at it, I've realised today, that I'm only okay at it. Not great. In every room of my house is a pile of stuff to be dealt with. Today. Tomorrow morning I have a photographer coming to take a photo of my family, and house, and garden, for a magazine. Fun! Except that I have to make sure that every part of my house is ready for it's close up - but at the moment it's only ready to be shot with the longest of long paparazzi lens...
Small, fluffy creature isn't helping. I've just mopped the loungeroom floor and he's busy skidding all over it having a ball, and leaving streaks and probably half a bucket of hair behind.
For motivation I just flicked through the music video channels, hoping their might be a 90s retrospective thing happening, but no, just top 40. Top 40 doesn't make me want to clean. It makes me ponder the women in bikinis shaking their booties in the strangest of locations.
I also just had High Tea at Fernwood. Yum, such a died and gone to heaven experience. Looking at Maria's gorgeous house, filled with so many divine things made me wonder what magical spell she's woven to keep it all so dust-free and delicious... guess it's just good karma - and housekeeping.
Okay, I'm off to tackle my room. Excitingly I've got a pile of clothes to hang up and a dozen "new" crocheted hangers donated by a neighbour via her great Aunt. I love, love, love padded hangers - particularly ones made with love by little old ladies. There, that's my inspiration for my bedroom... now, how to keep fluffy creature at bay.
We'd had a busy weekend. With Michelle, Tallulah and Ruby spending the weekend our time was spent chatting, laughing and eating. Undoubtedly the highlight was a sunset swim at the ocean baths. Seriously, the Merewether baths are so picturesque, but with a pink, pale blue and gold tint they were sob-inducingly pretty. Sunday morning saw a slow breakfast at lotus followed by an extensive play at Centennial Park (I tried not to cry about the fact that Taste have left Lowlands Bowling Club and will no longer be blessing me with their Bangalow Pork sausages - need to track down a new supplier!) The day sped by, and when Matt finally dropped the girls off at their next sleepover spot I had to somehow create dinner from next to nothing. Hence the reason for this post - delicious from nothing!
Earlier that morning I'd taken a couple of rib-eye steaks from the freezer and popped them in the fridge to defrost. Now, I never have luck with freezing. My dodgy old fridge, aside from leaking water has an odd freezer. Despite wrapping things in multiple layers they still get freezer burn and defrost dry. I tend not to use it - except in emergencies (like two expensive steaks that didn't get eaten on expected day).
6pm and dinner was calling - quickly, before The Biggest Loser started. I grabbed still semi-frozen steaks from fridge and sliced them thinly, laying on a plate to defrost. The I nabbed some chorizo from the fridge, a tin of cherry tomatoes from the pantry, and a couple of potatoes from the larder. Amazingly I had NO onions. None! I've never run out of onions before and it threw me for a beat. Anywhoodle, I sliced chorizo into chunks, sliced potatoes thinly and then set about sauteing steak, followed by chorizo, followed by potatoes. When they were all golden I set them aside and tipped in cute-as-a-button cherry tomatoes, a good slurp of sweet chilli sauce, salt, pepper and some roasted chilli paste. I let it simmer for about 5 minutes, then popped all the ingredients back in to my cast iron frypan and simmered, covered for about 10 minutes. I served it all up with some steamed brown basmati rice and it was delish.
Next time I'll pop in sliced spanish onions, red capsicum and maybe some green beans. Would also be tres tasty with sliced chicken. Would pork be too much? Oh, of course, silly of me - there's no such thing as too much pork.
Now, I'm off to Darby St butchers to see if they sell Bangalow Pork Sausages...
Now this is just ridiculous. We just sat down the THE most divine, and stupidly simple meal ever. Oh yes, the slow cooked leg of lamb was totally to die for. So moist, so tender, so bloody delicious. I feel like taking anyone who doesn't have a slow cooker by the shoulders and shaking them screaming "Why don't you have one? It will change your life!"
This meal was beyond simple, easier than opening a frozen meal and popping it in the microwave. In the morning I turned the slow cooker to low, opened the leg of lamb, plopped it in, threw on 1/2 cup of water, tossed in a couple of heads of garlic and toddled off. All I had to do tonight was roast some vegies (next time they're going in the cooker too), take out the lamb to rest for 5 minutes and then smoosh down the garlic with a wooden spoon. Then I turned the heat to high, poured in about 1/4 cup of red wine, added some rosemary, salt and pepper and stirred. That's it - gravy - done. If I were Gordon Ramsay I would have strained said gravy before serving (swearing at the same time, naturally), but I just scooped it up with a big spoon, avoiding any garlic skin and drizzled it over the lamb.
I'm so converted, watch out that I don't become all Tom Cruise crazy about it!
Yes, I'm afraid you're the misguided one if you attempted to pop onto the blog I led you to earlier - I got the address wrong. It's crockpot365.blogspot.com
And I'll tell you what - my leg of lamb smells delish. I popped a few heads of garlic in with it and the juices look spectacular. I'm now about to take the lamb out to red and am going to pour in some red wine, add rosemary, pepper and some salt and I reckon that the world's most spectacular gravy will be the love child.
Okay, this winter is when I am determined to make full use of my slowcooker. I bought it last year with the best of intentions, but the worst of results. I tried the recipes in the leaflet that came with it (well one recipe) and it was too bland. Then I tried googling recipes and found one that was too sweet (and it wasn't a pudding!). Finally, I've tried just making the damned things up and found one that was juuuuuuust right. That's right, I'm kicking my fear of my slow cooker to the ground.
It's weird, I've never been afraid of another piece of cooking equipment before. I had an almost unnatural love for my le crueset french oven... but scared, hello, unless it's got a clown face on the lid what's to fear? But I realise now that I just didn't know how to treat my slow cooker. I gave it fancy pancy treatment and it reacted with scorn. So now, HA! I'm going to just treat it like any other piece of equipment and expect it to serve me well.
Tonight, a ha, tonight, we're having a leg of lamb in the slow cooker. All I've done is plonked the darned thing in the pot with 1/2 cup of water at 8am and have it on slow. I'll roast the vegies in the oven later on (like 'em nice and crispy on the outside) and serve it with some garlic and rosemary gravy. One of my fave bloggers, 365crockpot.blogspot.com, insists that this is the easiest way to cook lamb and I'm more than tempted to believe you. You have no idea what that woman cooks in her slow cooker - the other day she made a cake for goodness sake. Legend!
For years I abused my eyelashes. Not intentially mind, that'd be weird. No, it was just that during my uni years I went out pretty well every night and by the time I flopped into bed as the sun was peeking up I was too darned tired, or, well yes, maybe a little under the influence, to remove my make-up like a sensible lass would. So now, at 40, I have short, stumpy little lashes and must rely on the genius of mascara creators to help me out.
Now for my quandry... Have you noticed that on lash ads these days there's a teeny little bit of print, down the side, or running across the bottom with words such as "Lash Dramatisation". What in the hell's that about? Are lashes about to burst into a soliloqy from Macbeth? No, what it means that these lashes are not the product of that black stuff in a tube, rather, they're the work of a talented artist and photoshop. I ask you - WHAT'S THE POINT?
If I'm buying a mascara I don't want the one from a company that has a talented artist working in front of a shiny Mac - I want one that (colour me naive) makes my lashes longer and fuller! Which, mind you, I do believe I have found. I have three faves in my eyelash wardrobe: For a simple, daytime, no-make-up look (ha!) it's Napoleon For drama and a bit of ooh la la it's Dior Show And my new fave, that's a bit in-between the two, is Two-Timer, the balm. It's a snazzy little number with a too-fun pack with a retro-vibe. Ladies, you have two choices of brush - Johnny Finetune, the definer and Marcus Lashalot, the volumizer. The packaging's very noir - and so's my fave shade - an inkly black that creates come hither lashes in a flash.
Okay, last night's slow cooker meal was a smashing success. And excitingly, I didn't brown the meat or vegies first and it still tasted scrummy. Here's the recipe(ish) 1 kilo of lamb neck 1 onion, finely diced 1 stick celery, finely diced 3 cloves garlic, sliced 1 carrot, finely diced 2 x 440g tins cherry tomatoes 1/2 cup french lentils (find them, they hold their shape, are the perfect size and taste yum) 1 tbsp fresh rosemary a good glug of red wine Throw all this into the slow cooker and cook on low for at least 10 hours. I served it with pumpkin mash and steamed spinach. I also had plenty left over - at least another two meals. But watch the bones in the lamb neck - it's tasty, but the teeny bones are tricky!
I'm really trying to simplify my life. As a working mum, well, obviously, I'm busy. So anything I need to do must be simple and add something to my life. For example, I just had to wash the bathroom floor because, well, it was dirty, and also, I'd dyed my hair on the weekend and so bits of black dye were splashed around with abandon. Rather than splooshing something chemical in the hot water bucket I dropped in a few drops of orange essential oil and now, not only is my floor clean and shiny - my bathroom smells delish! Later on I'm going to do the living room and bedrooms - but with lavender oil for sweet dreams...
Dinner's already on - yep, I chopped and diced after preparing school lunch. Tonight we're having lamb neck and french lentils. Yes, I heard that eeewwww about the lamb neck, but I've never tried it, spied it being cooked on a show the other night and thought I'd give it a shot. It was scary-cheap - less than $5 for a kilo - I KNOW! and apparently it tastes delish. It's in the slow cooker with the usual suspects - carrot, onion and celery and two tins of cherry tomatoes (imagine my squeal of delight when I spied that on the shelves at Coles!) and french style lentils (cue second squeal at Coles). I am sad that they can no longer be labelled lentils du puy (mainly because I adore the pronunciation - doo pwee) but am happy they're aussie grown and so much cheaper. There's garlic and red wine in there as well so I'm holding out hope for a scrummy meal tonight.
So how's that for a heavenly scented house? Essential oils, lamb and also the scent of a sated garden thanks to the rain last night. I am one happy camper!
Not too long ago I wrote an article about food - organic, free range, farmers' markets etc and I must say it really changed the way I look at what I eat. I now spend time checking out the provenance of produce before I purchase (oh I know, I love alliteration...) and try to buy as locally as humanly possible. Also, when it's available I'll choose organic over conventional. I am spoiled as my local coles has a number of organic brands - organic weet-biscuits (weet-bix), fresh carrots (sooooo tasty not orange sticks of bland!) and meats (oh my god - organic rib eye steak - YUM).
I honestly can't say I've noticed too much of a change in the price of my shop - it's always hellishly high. However, I just can't begrudge spending that little bit extra to reward those farmers who are going to such an amazing effort to help save our planet - and good grief, I also can't mind paying extra for the benefits of taste. Top that off with a recent long-range study that showed that organic foods can contain up to 40 per cent more nutrients than conventionally grown foods and how on earth could you not grab them and shove them in your green shopping bag?
Next step is to set foot in the worthy and scary organic shop near me. When will people learn that you need to be friendly to customers no matter what? I went in there one day and was served by this po-faced assistant who really didn't make me want to return. But, the range of organic fruit is limited at Coles, so this afternoon I'm going to suck it up and walk in there determined to check it all out with a fresh eye. Maybe cranky face will be having a day off...
Why oh why did the Christmas school holidays last for about 100 years when I was a wee lass, and now, every hour zooms past in a second? Despite intentions that were more dapper than my Sunday best I'm behind. Again. Time management tools don't seem to be working, and this whole non-multi-tasking thing I've been doing just positively sucks! I do believe that I'm doing things better - it's just that everything's moving so damned slowly. I'm glad my computer's so darned attractive otherwise I'd be sick to death of looking at it!
On the bright side my daughter and her friends danced beautifully today. The sun's shining and there's a hint of a crisp breeze. My god daughter gently tapped me on the arm and said "I liked spending the day with you." Time might move quickly, but I really am enjoying the ride...