Thursday, May 29, 2008

don't wanna be straight

I went to the hairdresser the other day, which is a pretty big event considering they rank just behind clowns in scariness. But there was no cutting involved, just a good dye job. As they were washing my hair the hairdresser asked me if I wanted my hair blow dried straight, or if I wanted it curly. Now, I've had a head of curls for 40 years, so I was curious to see what would happen with straight hairs on my head. I've only had that experience twice before, once when borrowing a friend's waist-length straight black wig for a costume party, and another time when a friend tried out her straightening iron on me. I turned up at a bar that night and one of my male friends looked at me and said "go home and wash it out!"

So they straightened my hair, and I looked in the mirror, and this other woman looked out at me. I'm not quite sure who she is, but I don't think I'd like to see her again. I'm a curly girly. I like my curls, and my curls like me. I cannot believe the amount of women with hair that looks like it should be sitting on Pete Wentz's head who say to me "Oh, my hair's curly like yours, but I straighten it." Why? Why are we always trying to be something we're not? Why do we bemoan the size of our thighs and wish away the colour of our eyes? I do wish it hadn't taken me 30-odd years to appreciate the skin I'm in, but I do, every dry, lumpy, blotchy bit of it (most of the time). 

I washed my hair an hour ago and put in some extra curl cream. Just in case.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I need this

As if Dita's not perfect enough, say "Hello" to her clothed in my favourite fabric. That neckline to die for, or kill for, one or the other.

Sighing inside and out.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

on tippy toes

I used to be quite the greenie when I was a uni student, but over the years, kind of slacked off a bit. I think it all started with the scratchy, recycled toilet paper - some things you just need to be gentle! But now, with the whole focus on the environment, I'm steeping up my efforts again. I'm using pretty basic stuff to clean my house - generally white vinegar and essential oils - and a good scrub to double as a workout. I'm turning off lights constantly, which feels really good. I'm typing at the moment in my darkened study, and the only light on in the house is in the living room, where Annabella and Matt are watching telly. Annabella and I also walked to our local fruit shop this afternoon to buy our vegies for dinner - to go along with the meat purchased at the farmer's market. 

Today my vacuum cleaner decided to be contrary so I swept the house, rather than using the vacuum and it was strangely therapeutic and I really think it got the floor cleaner. Mulberry was also happy as he's developed an odd phobia about the vacuum (reckon my old cleaner donged him on the head with it at some stage, she was a cranky head).

When it comes to food choices I'm trying to shop locally: the organic shop up the road was finally braved, and it's really very good. The fruit and veg is delicious and reasonably priced, and the mean girl hasn't been there on any of my visits - just a very nice man. I'm also trying to use my local butcher, rather than buying meat from Coles - the less I visit there the better as every visit seems to cost the price of a bedsit in Darlinghurst.

Tomorrow will be the last load of washing I'll be able to hang on the Hills Hoist up the backyard - on Tuesday everything's going. I'll feel really sad about the three trees we're removing, but realistically, they're badly planted, in the wrong positions, and one's a noxious weed. Also, we might be removing three, but we're planting 24 Lilly Pillies and four Pear trees in their place, which more than compensates.

It's so exciting that the backyard reno is finally starting to take shape. After six years of living with a shocker of a backyard having something pretty and useful will be magnificent - and the pool will be bliss. I reckon I could even force myself to swim at this time of year - so long as the water temperature's okay. Summer can't come quickly enough - and as a true winter devotee I never thought I'd say that!

Friday, May 23, 2008

eating a garden

Food tastes better with flowers. My beautiful friend Amanda made us chocolate lavender cupcakes this week, and they were sublime. Adding lavender buds elevated the taste to a whole new level of deliciousness. Annabella said they were like "eating a garden" which I think is just gorgeous.

I also adore peaches poached in rosewater, and the other night I made a bread and butter pudding and spread the loaf with rose petal conserve, before sprinkling with grated dark chocolate and covering with vanilla-scented custard. 

Food should be more than just fuel - it should ignite every sense - which is why the marriage of floral and food is so delightful. Oooh, just picture vanilla pannacotta with violet petals on the top - drizzled with a violet syrup. It's a sweet life...

thirteen sleeps

Till my Manolos come out of their box in honour of the Sex and the City champagne screening. Very few events warrant their appearance, in fact, there's only been the debut. That said, I will take them out every now and again and gaze adoringly at their handcrafted elegance. 

It seems silly not to surround yourself with items of beauty, friends who make you laugh, roses with a scent (without, really, what's the point - you might as well grow daisies) and to make sure that everything you do enriches your life, or someone else's. I've made a vow not to buy anything unless I absolutely love it. If I need a new top, I need to adore it. Dita Von Teese (who I also love) once said that when she's shopping she dresses in her absolutely favourite items - and so if she finds something she wants to buy asks herself if she'd be prepared to swap it and leave behind what she's wearing... However, she probably has designers running up behind her in the street thrusting couture over her head. 

Life should be so sweet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

it's a skin thing

I have previously moaned about the trans-seasonal weather and the nasty things it does to my skin and hair - this week, it excelled itself. My skin was dry, red, hot and erky, with a texture that made me look like I was auditioning for the role of Leatherface's mother in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the portrait of Dorian Gray homage. Awful. I couldn't stop touching it and feeling almost awed by how the texture more resembled the sole of a foot, or perhaps a seal's butt, than the usual human face. So today, I moved into action stations. I vow, from this day on, to:

* take my Anthogenol skin tablets daily. They are miracle workers that can remedy any scary situation. 
* drink lots of water when I work from home.
* have bowls of water on my desk and in the living room to combat the air conditioning.
* use my dermalogica power vitamin mask weekly to boost my moisture intake
* stop using a dramatic array of products and stick to one brand at a time!
* eat oily fish twice a week even though it's winter (I'll do salmon en papillote in the oven, rather than on the bbq)

Must dash: I need to grab a glass of water.

Friday, May 16, 2008

spoiled rotten

I already thought my husband won the Best Husband in the World award when he bought me a pair of Manolo's for my 40th. Seriously, he could have stopped there and I'd still be smiling every day. But it just goes to show how far a little thoughtfulness can go. Last night, SATC came on and it was An American Girl in Paris: part two. The Finale - which I love, but I love part one more because of the frocks, and the grey frock in particular. My absolutely perfect husband (my Harry) had taped part one the night before, and didn't tell me until after I'd pouted, sighed, and cried with frustration at missing it. So I was able to watch part une, sighing and crying throughout, and it finished just in time for part deux. Thank you gorgeous man - you're the best!


Apparently I'm incapable of:
* Not crying virtually the whole way through the finale of Sex and the City - even though I've now seen it at least eight times.
* Packing away washing. I can wash it, hang it out, fold it, even put it in neat little piles according to family member and drawer (undies, socks, shirts etc) - but can I manage to put it away or do I keep taking it from the bed at 11pm and putting it back in the basket before popping it onto the bed in neat little piles...
* Starting work without checking my email, browsing through some sites and generally faffing on the internet.
* Not blurting out whatever's on my mind. I can only manage to maintain some form of decorum around small children, teachers and priests. My friends? Yep, you know everything about me.
* Having neat hair.
* Lusting after the grey Versace dress SJP wears in part one of the finale of SATC.
* Squealing at the thought of the SATC movie (in a SJP way)
* Not obsessing about a ton of things from SATC (for example - who do I love more, Harry, Steve or Smith... all have their virtues, but really, secretly, it's Harry all the way.)

carnivorous cravings

I was a vegetarian for 20 years and now I'm not. I am soooooo not. Despite brazenly stating I'd still eat vegetarian meals, while slowly introducing myself to meat, I've dived into the world of meat in a very big way. 

This morning I called in at the butcher and browsed the cabinets as if I were at Tiffany. I had a container of leftover slow-cooker sauce (tomatoes, red wine and french lentils) in the freezer so I needed some lamb for dinner. Having watched Gordon Ramsay do a dish last night with lamb neck meat I had a hankering for that cut - which, of course, is not a common cut in Aus. However, my butcher is getting to know me now and excitedly offered up lamb neck chops, which kinda look like lamb cutlets, but are marbled, and better for slow cooking. So I brought them home, browned them, and popped them in the sauce. Of course, this wasn't enough of a meat-fest so I sauteed some bacon and popped that in too. Yummo. All this by 10am so can you imagine it by dinnertime?

I was also tres excited to see Bangalow Pork is now sold mere metres from my home. My butcher had some divine Bangalow Pork Scotch Fillet which doesn't look anything like the usual pastel pork but is actually rich and tasty looking. I bought some of these to bbq with a marmalade glaze for dinner sunday night. I think I'll serve it with pumpkin mash and some wilted baby spinach - and then shed a few tears of joy because it's so divine.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I, I, I, will always love...

Some people, in my eyes, can do no right, others can do no wrong. 

People I will always love, no matter what (aside from family and friends, that's a given) are:
Johnny Depp
Posh and Becks (I know!)
Karl Lagerfeld
Maggie Alderson
David and Amy Sedaris and anyone associated with them
Audrey Tatou (yes, even despite the DaVinci Code)
Sarah Jessica Parker
Danny Katz

People I'll always loathe, and who'll find it very difficult indeed to win my affection (should they so desire)
Heather Mills
Katherine Heigl (should I ever meet her I would so mispronounce her name)
Rachel Ray

Obviously there's a theme - people who entertain me, I love. People who are fake (HM, KH, RR), Gold Digging (again, HM), or those who ravenously devour the hand that feeds them (KH) - just annoy the crap out of me.

technologically incompetent

Guess whether or not I want to be one of those people who can't download images, add links to my blog, or completely understand my computer. I don't - but I am. 

Today, for example, I'm faffing around, avoiding work, when I decide to browse through all the tabs across the top of my screen. Falling upon History, I open it up, see Clear History, click on it... and cause the world to end. Well, almost. See, it's just like in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, where obviously I was having a totally Keanu moment - you can't change history or bad things occur. In my case, the bad things are that all the fabbo blogs and sites I just type in by adding the first letter of the address have vamoosed. I'm distraught. And then that bad thing happens. You know the one? The one where you think you're typing in an address and you get directed to that awful Hellfire and Brimstone site - the dead scary religious one. Or, as I discovered today, some weirdo porn site. So not happy Jan. In fact, distinctly unhappy. 

I won't mess with technology again. In fact, I may well take it upon myself to read instruction manuals properly and learn how to do things with elan. Or just ask my eight year old to do it for me...

olden days

You know you're getting on when...
* two days after you dye your hair teeny new grey hairs start spouting around your hairline.
* your skin does so many crazy things (from scaly dry, to pimples that could shade a large family, to bizarre creases upon wakening... that are still there at lunchtime) that when you look in the mirror you move beyond "WTF..." to merely shaking your head ruefully.
* you don't get what teens are wearing these days. I swore that wouldn't be me - I lived through some crazy fashion, and still wear some of it. But seriously, the day my daughter brings home one of those boys who wear their jeans below their butt cheeks... I may well finally explode (with mirth, or anger, haven't decided yet).
* staying home with a bottle of red watching property shows on telly seems far more appealing than frocking up and hitting somewhere gorgeous.

Monday, May 12, 2008

backyard blitz

I do believe that things are finally moving ahead with our backyard reno. It's been a very, very long process - starting six years ago when we bought our house with the world's worst backyard. I've been hating on it every day since, desperate for when we could finally mould the yard of our dreams. And now, nearly two years after engaging a landscape architect to draw up plans, I feel close to the end, or the beginning. On Saturday we cleaned out the shed, ready for the blokes to come in and rip everything out before starting again. It was quite invigorating. There's nothing like a good clean out to soothe your soul, and we managed to get everything out of the shed with only the threat of two arguments (no actual knock 'em down fights...)

Stuff's in a pile on the back veranda for the salvos, recycling's in the bin, and unsalvageable stuff went off to the rubbish tip. It's now a palette waiting to be decorated. While I can't say I'm excited about my back yard looking like a gaping wound while it's being excavated, I'll just have to close my eyes and envisage the end result - a usable, beautiful backyard with a pool, courtyard and cabana. With a bit of effort we'll be splashing in the pool next summer and relaxing on loungers in the cabana, fruity cocktail in hand... 

Friday, May 09, 2008

second hand rose

I am now officially besotted with op-shopping. At the moment I'm having a very symbiotic, and serious, relationship with my local op-shops. I'll go in, lugging a bag of toys, clothes or magazines (good ones, not ones I've torn pages from!) and I'll walk out with something I adore. True.

A salvos has opened around the corner from my work in Surry Hills, and I'm a bit keen on it already. I went in the other day and kapow, spotted a fabulous black linen Witchery skirt - for $6. Did I mention it's a-line and below calf-length? Undoubtedly my most flattery style. I've already worn it twice, taking the cost per wear factor to $3 - and that's just silly. 

So yesterday I headed off to Coles when I felt drawn to the Salvos in Newcastle. Sadly, construction work next door meant I couldn't find a park, so I popped over the the next place - in Wickham. Well, blow me down if I didn't find the most exquisite green wrap top. It's so soft and silky that if I told you it was cashmere you'd stroke it, and nod agreeably. But it's not, it's just some wool/acrylic mix. It is, though, the absolutely perfect shade for my Moss&Spy skirt I picked up last month - the floral that needed an exacting shade of green to set it off. And yes, that's what this top is, and again, all for the magical price of $6.

So happy.

just rewards

There are so few ads that I consider amusing that when one tickles my funny bone I do like to reward the company by purchasing the product. So today, for breakfast, we had almond and honey All Bran - and, like they say in the ad "All Bran is delicious". When I saw Tall Jan in the ad, pop her head over the cubicle and righteously accuse cute little cereal man of saying "Tall Jan is malicious!" I nearly exploded with mirth. So funny. 

Why are there so few funny ads on telly? How on earth do they manage to find enough to fill those World's Funniest TV Commercials show? Oh right, with foreign content. I could probably count funny, recent Australian ads on just a few fingers. I'm still in love with the girl and her beaver on the U tampon ads - just a bit wrong, but she's ever-so-cute. The Big Pond ad with the rabbits is a classic - I want to invite that man over for drinks. And it's kept with with the very expensive Big Pond service, despite all their faults. Just goes to show, make me laugh, and I'm easy.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

gossip be gone

I used to be the ultimate gossip girl. I lived for the stuff. Ask me anything, about any celeb and I could spout the most obscure tidbit. But now, I'm not so sure, it all just seems a little dirty. I don't want my insatiable need for news to lead to the death of Amy Winehouse, I'd prefer it if she dried out and kept on making beautiful music.

The turning point was Britney's break down and Heath's death. They both shocked me. Deeply. I stopped wanting to read or see anything about them. I don't need to see Heath's body in a body bag - nor do I need to see Britney's haunted eyes through a paparazzi lens. This weekend topped it off with the image of a man howling in despair as he'd just watched his parents perish in a boating accident. I was disturbed that a photographer captured it, and even more disturbed that an editor thought this fit to publish on the front page of a sunday paper (not the one I work for - thank God). Of course the man was distraught - how could he not be? But I just don't need to see this. It's a tragedy - not news. 

I really think it's time for priorities to be reconsidered. I'm rethinking mine.

arid wasteland

I'm tossing up at the moment between two ever-so-nasty evils. The transeasonal weather is still causing havoc with my skin, it's ridiculously dry - or at least it feels that way. If only I were mega-wealthy and able to fill my bathroom sink with creme de la mer and immerse my face in it... but I'm not. Instead, I'm applying serums, the strongest of moisturisers, spritzing and drinking litres of water and it works, somewhat. The side effect though is my poor eyes - they're getting product overload and looking puffy and feeling tired. I do so love this crisp autumn weather, but I'm not loving on what it's doing to my skin or hair. Maybe I'll take out a second mortgage and try that creme...

Monday, May 05, 2008

too much?

I've often wondered, 'how much wine is too much?' and while I know the answer when it comes to drinking (more than a bottle gets messy) I've been curious about wine in food. Yesterday was Matt's birthday so he put in a special request for slow cooked lamb shanks. I've cooked them quite a few times, sticking pretty carefully to a Donna Hay recipe, so thought I'd just go ahead, cook it, and then, before sticking it in the oven, check the recipe to see if I'd forgotten any elements. So I'm browning the shanks, sauteeing the carrots, onion, garlic and celery, deglazing the pan with a tin of tomatoes before pouring in a cup of beef stock, and a bottle of shiraz... Yes, of course, after checking the recipe I realised I only needed one cup of wine. Ooopsies. To make up for this overly liquid addition I threw in a handful of french lentils, and added the herbs before I popped it in the oven for a couple of hours. Luckily, a bottle of wine isn't too much. It was rich, but not overly so. In fact, I think that I'll always up the wine and reduce the stock - even Annabella liked it. 
See, wine, it goes with everything.

Friday, May 02, 2008


I have around 40 roses in bloom at the moment, thanking me for a monthly application of chook poo. I reckon there's probably an equal number of delicate little pink blooms and big, blowsy red numbers. Not only does it look a bit gorgeous with flowers peeking through the white picket fence, the scent as you walk through the gate is just heady. It makes me happy.

the perfect match

I'm desperately seeking the perfect work from home winter wardrobe. I have zilch - unless you count my flannel jammies and uggs - which you can't as there's no way I feel all worky when I'm dressed for sleepy time. My problem is that I'm a skirt gal, so in summer, that's fine. I have a few summery frocks that are comfy, suitable for the school drop off and don't leave me blushing if I need to answer the door. Winter however, is a whole new chapter in the fashion story.

On the two days a week I head to the office, I pop on a skirt, or dress, opaques and heels - or flats if I'm feeling so inclined. But at home, who wants to spend the day in a fitted skirt and tights? Not I. My only jeans won't cut it - they're tight enough to look good, which means too tight for sitting in front of a computer all day. 

So do I go for a velour lounge wear number? If I could afford it I'd swathe myself in Cashmere (yep, it deserves an upper case c). My friend Milissa wants to organise her working wardrobe around Cameron Diaz's character in the Holiday. Admirable, but not achievable... for me anyway - I'd look like a bag lady in clothing meant for tall, svelte loungers.

Today I'm in workout clothes, feeling sporty to write a workout story. It's also meant to inspire me to actually move at some stage today - preferably further than the distance between my coffee maker and my desk. I do believe wearing said clothing is making me sit up straighter, thus working my core... so that's one plus. Maybe I'll fling myself on the floor for some push ups in between paragraphs. Or some dips on my desk chair after dashing off a few lines. We'll see.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

that's better

I'm always looking out for ideas that'll make my life a little easier. Who isn't? So if you are (and if not, what's wrong with you?) here are some things I've read or heard lately that I quite like.
* Lists. Who doesn't love a list? And I particularly love my lists for when we're headed off on hols. But if, like me, you've got numerous notepads or envelopes with "Byron Holiday", "Blue Mountains" or "Berrima" at the top (I know! What's with all the B holidays?) Here's a better idea.

On your computer, or, even more environmentally friendly - on a whiteboard (so you can tick it off, then wipe it off) create a master list for the following holidays: weekend away, week away, extended holiday. This way, rather than madly dashing off a list just before you go, and possibly leaving something vital off it, you've got a fabbo list that's worked for you in the past and you just go back to it.

* Baking paper. If you don't have a slow cooker, head to your nearest store and buy one today - they're the best time-savers ever! And when you do have one, here's a hint for keeping the meat nice and moist. Once you've got your meat, your stock, your vegies etc all stirred together, grab a piece of baking paper and lay over the top, and gently tuck down the edges. This way, you're keeping a layer of steam trapped in about a centimetre above the meat, rather than the distance from the upper layer and the lid. No more dry bits of meat that've stuck up in a jaunty manner throughout the cooking process. This is also great in your french oven - or even a saucepan on the stove top.

* Essential oils. They smell nice and create a yummy, effective, environmentally-pal-like cleaner. In a spray bottle combine water, a good slosh of cheap white vinegar and a few drops of essential oil. Use this to clean benchtops, the toilet, cupboard doors - anything. Use the oils that soothe or tickle your senses. My favourites are orange or lavender at the moment (both combined are particularly gorgeous). This is also the best way to mop your floor: hot water, sloosh of white vinegar, few drops of oil. Try lavender in the bedroom for sweet dreams. Many of them also have the benefit of repelling pests - try spearmint in the kitchen cupboard to keep out crawly critters. A few drops in the rinse water will leave sheets and clothes smelling divine too. Lavender or rose of course for sheets and towels. Mmmmm.

* Time sucking telly. This kills me to write, as I love me a bit of telly... but it's the ultimate time sucker. I'm always so ashamed when news reports and studies reveal the horrifying amount of time the average person spends watching tv - and it's only a small fraction of what I watch. So now, no telly until the dishes are stacked in the dishwasher, benchtops wiped down, washing put away and house tidied. Then, when I do flop down to immerse myself in the UK property market or yet another cooking show, I'll feel like I totally deserve it and don't have nagging jobs making me feel guilty in the background.