Friday, February 27, 2009

domestic express

Quick hits that make your home a nicer place to be are always a sterling idea. Today, I quickly flung the vacuum cleaner around {so much so that our provincial sideboard is, well, verging even more on the shabby side of chic...} and then filled a bucket with steaming hot water and sprinkled in the lavender oil. Now all my floors are sparkling and the house is smelling fresh and delicious. Combine this with the sheets flapping on the line in the sunshine - and my super-cosy dinner plan - and I'm feeling all Marthariffic.

hope dinner's a winner

I spied this on the BBC Good Food website today (it's one of those little widget thingies I have on my iGoogle page) and think it might be a mighty fine option for helping me cook more fish. After all it's chrorizo, white beans and cabbage (??) in a spicy, tomato sauce - with the fish poached on top. Surely it's got to be yummy? I will season the fish before cooking it though, as everything's better with a pinch of salt and pepper. If it's a winner, I'll post the recipe. If not, you're better off without it.

sunshine state

We've had a busy week, so the other night, when my daughter and I came home from three hours of netball grading at 8pm, I quickly fed her spaghetti bolognaise and let her eat it on the couch, in front of the telly. Still wearing her netball uniform of white polo shirt... you know where I'm going don't you? Yes, of course, shirt spattered with tomato sauce - buckets of it - and no prewash stain remover. Sigh. So I washed it, and it came out only marginally paler than when it went in. However, I know the secret weapon against tomato stains - sunshine. Sure enough, after a day hanging in the sun the stains have gone. Hurrah. Sunshine, always makes me happy. Oh yes, Sunshine, always makes me smile...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

happy holidays

Explain to me how I am meant to go on my next holiday without this luggage from

Come on, I need answers.

pretentious or polite?

Here's something I've been struggling about for a few months now. Last year I went to the Opera House and cacked myself stupid at David Sedaris. Except once. See, he had this piece that, sadly, I didn't agree with. His premise was that any foreigner (anglo-born I take it) should not use local pronunciation as it sounds pretentious. 

He spoke of a friend who came to stay with in their home in France, utilising correct French pronunciation as if it were a vice, not a virtue. See, I can't abide how we tend to not only mispronounce words and the names of cities - we'll even give them new names because we think they're easier to enunciate than the local terms {is that why? I haven't googled it, but I still don't understand it}. When I was younger I always wondered as to why people referred to Gay Paree when speaking of Paris, and now I realise that it's the way that Parisians pronounce their home town {although they tend to leave off the gay part, unless they're referring to The Marais}.

I'm a ridiculously polite person and will go to any extreme not to offend, so why should I tell a local that I positively adore Venice, when to them it's Venizia? If somebody came up to me and told me what lovely beaches MerryWay has, when I know for damned sure that I live in Merewether I'd be puzzled, and then annoyed. But, the thing is, other countries don't tend to do that {except for some Americans who call us Oss-ies... but I think they've got it now}. 

I don't care if it sounds pretentious, if I'm serving Coq au Vin, or Lamb Navarin I'll pronounce it correctly {or, at least I'll try}.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

something shocking

Kate Spade is making me smile today with these satin beauties. I'd love them with a midnight blue frock - or a kelly green skirt, oh hell, I reckon they'd go beautifully with almost any colour. A gal can never have too many pink satin shoes...

having a ball

I'm coaching my daughter's netball team this year, something I put off for quite a few years (as I didn't want to be one of those mothers) but now I'm glad I am. We had grading yesterday which was the first time the girls had got together and played as a team, and bless their little socks - they did so well. I'm looking forward to helping them love the sport and grow as players. 

Team sports are fabulous for girls in particular, and they're even more important during adolescence and the early teen years. I wrote an article on this last year and research revealed that girls who are involved in team sports have higher self-esteem and a better body image than girls who don't. Every little bit counts when it comes to raising happy, healthy kids - so if my enthusiasm can help them develop more confidence, I've got to be happy with that.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

o wow

After spending half my day yesterday checking out pics and live blogs of the Oscars, I actually watched the telecast and I must say that I was impressed. Hugh did a great job, god love him. I also liked the intimate nature of the seating - with the front row right there in the action {but where was Jack?} Bringing in the past winners to welcome the new was a glorious idea, particularly when a few of my favourites rocked on out. 

Generally speaking I liked how the awards were handed out - but, why does one film always romp it in? I understand that Slumdog must have been a great film, and I'm looking forward to checking out - but how does it kill everyone else in the category? Also, since when did Danny Boyle turn into Morrisey? I kept expecting him to burst into "I'm throwing my arms around Paris..." whenever I spied him.

Some frocks were even better on stage then in the still shots. Marion's for one. And others, well, I must say that I didn't notice the pornstaresque expanse of cleavage that SJP was rocking when she was on the red carpet. However, on stage, those things bounced around and distracted me from the frock - which is very hard to do.

I'm now newly in love with Robert Downey Jr and I'm enraptured with Robert De Niro for bringing up one of my fave Sean Penn roles - Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High {I know, and just after falling in love with Phoebe Cates on the red carpet - who hasn't aged a day since that film...}

I felt for the editors up in the suite, desperately cutting to Angelina and Brad, especially when poor Jen was on stage. They did well though, keeping the faces in check and appearing generally gracious. And I'm still all over Angelina's earrings - and how she grabs his butt at every opportunity.

Ben Stiller and Natalie Portman were hilarious, although apparently he was an ass during rehearsals... Natalie's pink frock was absolute perfection, and proof you should always try something on - cos, seriously, that colour on a hanger would be, oh honey, no. 

I also loved watching the people in the background - wow, you've really got to be on your guard and if you need to yawn, cover your mouth people. Maintaining your face in a happy, yet neutral position, being ready to burst into good humoured laughter at any time must be a tough call. Or leap to your feet for the upteenth standing ovation. But generally, they did well.

I also fell a little bit for Jerry Lewis after seeing the love he expressed for the kids with muscular dystrophy. Tirelessly raising money for decade after decade is admirable and for that I applaud him.

Oh, and Beyonce should have gone with the red sequinned number for the red carpet - much hotter.

Monday, February 23, 2009

perfect pressie

Cute. That's what this girl is. Stunningly pretty sure, but cute as a box of buttons. Love her look, love that she's ebulliently smitten with her on-screen love and am dead chuffed that she can carry off a bow. See, even the man in the dark glasses agrees - the one over her right shoulder? He gets it.

sparkles and fireworks

Well this isn't helping quell my obsession with tulle is it? Marion looks utterly gorgeous, as ever on the carpet rouge. I love...

new york is where i'd rather be

We interrupt this oscar frockfest to dip a toe in New York Fashion week, and I must say, how Barbielicious is this outfit? I'm still obsessing over polka dots at the moment, adore red lips, covet broadbrimmed sunhats and well, check out the shoes! 

royal flush

The Queen smoulders in this midnight blue number and I'm loving it all. From the slick hair and glowing, yet subdued make-up, this is a red carpet-worthy look.

oh honey, no

How can a gal so gorgeous, and with such a rocking bod, cause me to recoil from the screen in anguish? Now, while I'm feeling that silhouette {and the 24 pairs of spanx it took to achieve it - or consuming maple syrup for a fornight - whatev} and I think the neckline is an interesting play on strapless, I'm not fond of that antique gold pattern on black. Too bold. 

This is one pretty woman, and I think if she were to step away from her mother's designs and into more couture, she could stun every time.

loathing to loving

Now she's no longer the poor man's Dita, and that she's left Manson behind, I am loving on Rachel's fashion choices. It's verging on a bland out in this pic, but on the red carpet - va voom. Plus she's strawberry blonde which pushes all the yes buttons as far as I'm concerned.


Dior Haute Couture. Oh my...

frock treatment

I'm just watching the Red Carpet and am loving on a few looks - but none more than that of a gorgeous couple still kicking on years later. Phoebe Cates looks utterly stunning in this deco-inspired frock, and I'm loving her arm candy {A Fish Called Wanda - Kline is gold, gleaming comedic gold...}

However, Lisa Rinna's lips, serious evidence that plastic surgery causes blindness - I actually recoiled from the screen when all her lips came into view. 

I'm loving on Miley Cyrus's frock - it screams precious princess - and adore the vivid shock of Angelina's earrings against her silhouette hugging black frock.

Need more, must dash back... 


I just realised that this is my 500th post - woo hoo. And then got to wondering when my blog anniversary is, and, whoops, I missed it. It was on February 8. I can't believe it's been a year - it's been like watching your child grow ever-so-quickly. I love how blogging gives me an excuse to comb the internet for inspiration. To seek out other blogs to gasp, giggle or guffaw over. Blogging's also made me more houseproud - when you write about your good habits you tend to want to stick to them. Also, reading decorating blogs impels me to pump up the pretty in my home. If it's not pretty or useful, it's out.

I still get a thrill reading your comments, and I've learned so much from you (especially you Sara!) While I still adore the whole ritual of buying and flicking through a magazine, blogs have offered a whole new insight into life and living - and one I'm pretty chuffed to be a part of. So yay, 500 - here's to going into quadruple figures before the year is out. xx

in the pink

There's nothing better than starting the day with an image to inspire - so check out this pile of peonies. Oh my. It's from a peony farm in the UK - I think I'd die from bliss overload walking through a place filled with such perfection.

I just glanced at my front garden and my roses are doing magnificently after their summer prune. They're covered in abundant red new growth, with some flowers here and there. Hopefully, in a week or two, we'll be rewarded with blossom upon blossom, and then it's time to get the winter flowers in. I'm thinking plenty of pale pansies. Their pretty faces never fail to cheer me up.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

sweet mouthfuls

I've turned into a dessert lover. Previously there were only a few sweets on a menu that could get me to turn my head, but now, I'm branching out. Last night we went to our fave restaurant {Bistro Tartine} with some fave friends and had a superb meal - as always. We went without an entree to save space for the delicious meals and their sublime dessert. And oh. Mygod.

I had a roulade with mascapone and bitter orange that felt like a million angels dancing on your tastebuds - exquisite. Those who chose the chocolate fondant were also in raptures, and I convinced my friend to have the snow eggs with caramelised pistachios - and she was more than thrilled with every mouthful of her choice.

When you find a restaurant that manages to get everything right, it's worth going back. From the quality wine list, old favourites done in different ways (this time I had duck confit with garlic and walnut potatoes and a beetroot jus - heaven!) and a killer dessert list, served up by attentive, lovely staff - why not reward them?

Friday, February 20, 2009

put it away

Nothing brings out the tetchy old nana in me more quickly than Pammy these days. I've seen a couple of still shots of her flinging herself down the Runway for Richie Rich and, well, I wish I hadn't.

Her hair looks fab. And bravo for being able to kick your leg up so high, but, um, maybe it's time to move on?

stress and stupidity

Isn't it typical that when you're busy and stressed, you try to do too much and stuff something up? Welcome to my world yesterday. As you know, I've got a lot on - two articles for a new magazine due today, amongst all my usual work. Then I agreed to a few more jobs yesterday, all with tight deadlines. 

Well, I thought I was all on top of it. I've got all my work in my little cupcake iconed folders, I've set up all different folders for my emails - one for each specific category - which I move all emails to at the end of the day, after deleting any non-essentials. So there I was Smugarama, Queen of Smugville when I discover one of my email folders is just missing. MISSING. 

Of course I uncovered this as I was talking to my six-year-old niece on the phone and trying to remain calm in the face of terror is not my forté. 

We searched everywhere, went on Mac forums, delved deep into my library. No luck. Thankfully I haven't been so prudent with my sent box - with over 2500 emails, and because I always reply to emails I had copies of everything I needed.

Then, later on, just before bed, I see a teeny little arrow next to one of my folders. Teeny I tell you. Now, I'd opened this folder, and all the rest, but my missing folder wasn't inside - even though it was. Yep, upon clicking the arrow I found my missing folder, and its hundred-odd emails somewhere inside this folder.

Phew. I really do need to become more technologically competent - or less flustered when I'm in a tizz.


When I was a wee lass I had the most gorgeous navy frock, with a red and white poodle on a leash. I loved it. My mum would always do my hair in long sausage curls and tie red ribbons here and there. I love these Annie Poodle designs ( - and she's got poodle outfits for toddlers and girls as well. I reckon my fashion conscious Miss would find this tres fabulous.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

it's all happening

Oh goodness. Life's a bit hectic at the moment. I've been blessed with bucketloads of work, so am trying to keep calm and carry on. Just as I decided to take on coaching of my daughter's netball team, and volunteered to help year 6 leaders at my daughter's school write some driving and parking safely at school news letters (seriously, parents who park - on the crossing - so they can let their little darling out and watch them walk through the gate make my blood boil. Park the beemer up the street buddy and get out and WALK your child through the gate. It's not hard) I've been in demand workwise. Which is good, I shan't complain. Nor shall I say no. I'll be like this lady, juggling hearts with ribbons - that's a pretty way to think about it...

magnifique monochrome

sticky situation

Cooking shows are my drug.  I devour them like I used to consume cookbooks. But these days, I'm just seeking inspiration - or good tips. These days I always place a folded tea towel under my bowl when I'm mixing to keep it in place (thanks Bill). I roll my lemons and limes under my hand on the bench to get them all juicy (Bill again?). I also place a layer of baking paper over the top layer of any dish I'm slow cooking before I put the lid on to keep it nice and moist (that English woman, with the long hair, and no bra... what's her name?). Also, because I was vegetarian for 20 years, there's a few basics I've missed, which is why I was delighted to hear the other night that meat only sticks to a cooking surface if it's not ready (pretty sure Gordon told me that). If you leave it, untouched, till it's caramel brown, it won't stick. So true! Even in just my stainless steel frypan, with no non-stick surface, meat, if left to brown, will then come away with ease (leaving just an incy bit on the bottom to deglaze).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

karma comedian

I really believe that if you're kind to others it shows. Generally speaking you can have a pretty good life, only nice wrinkles show up on your face (smiley ones, not angry ones) and you can go through life pretty content.

I also believe that karma will eventually strike those who do wrong by others. Whether it's a major act, or a minor blip, surely you're better off doing something that makes others happy rather than sad. I was reading one of my favourite blogs this morning (the house that a-m built) and was saddened to see that she was closing her blog and only making it available to private readers. Reading between her lines I believe that another blogger has felt usurped and has shaken a-m to the point of closing off her blog. This is just awful. I love that blog. Reading it daily while going through my endless backyard renovations gave me hope. She shared her tales, along with the odd pretty pic, and for that deserves kudos - not a kick. She will prevail though, and karma will kick the butt of that other blogger too...

It's the same thing with the whole school uniform saga at my daughter's school. They rushed into it, went with a manufacturer from China (rather than the wonderful Australian-made company I was championing) and guess what happened? Yep, when the samples came through the sizing was all skewiff (either teensy or huge, nothing was just right) and did the orders come through two days before school started as promised? Um, no. It's nearly the end of February and they're still not here. Apparently half the orders are meant to arrive at the end of the month but the rest? Who knows? 

Now in the meantime the kids had to have uniforms, so all the parents of kinders or those who needed to replace uniforms had to buy the Aussie made ones and guess what? They're discovering they're cheaper, with superior material, and look a helluva lot better than the sweatshop creations. Ah karma, I love you so...

Oh, over in that corner? That's me, doing the 'I told you so' dance.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

beribboned bliss

My handiwork sewing ribbons on my daughter's ballet slippers resembles naught these nifty pretties from Jean Paul Gaultier. But oh my. The vertiginous heels are ever-so evocative of a ballerina en-pointe. Such an exquisite homage.

reasons to be cheerful: part 1

I needed to get away from my desk for a bit, so I went to the Salvos to drop off a couple of bags of stuff gleaned from our daughter cleaning her room on the weekend. Then I shopped.

As you know, we bought a new BBQ. It's all shiny and new and ready to go, but I'm not really au fait with the art of barbequing. So hello happiness when I found The Barbeque Cookbook on a shelf with a $1.50 price tag: bargain-a-licious! Skipping on over to the glassware shelves I find a set of six cocktail glasses, lead crystal ones mind, in their original pink and white box - for $4! Next I discover that all the clothing is now colour-coordinated, so I check out pink, black and then, hello green. The prettiest green wrap dress with white polka dots is just hanging there in my size, begging to be taken home.

I obliged.

sew sew

I had to sew ribbon onto my daughter's leather ballet slippers yesterday - how's that for a challenge. So I lugged the sewing machine out of the linen closet (not a pretty pink one like this - a dull beige number - sigh) and set to work. I did it and my work looked pretty neat and serviceable. Inspired I delved into the bottom of my wardrobe and fished out my 'mending' bag. In it was a formerly favourite dress in need of a little TLC. Well, a few runs of the zig zag, one of straight stitch and it's good as new. It's now washed and hanging on the indoor line, waiting for a real summer's day to come out again and play.

Don't you love it when you pull something out from the closet that you haven't worn in ages? It's almost like having something new again.

Monday, February 16, 2009

job well done

When I say I'll have something done by a certain date, I do it. All of it. Everything that's expected of me will be completed to the best of my ability. I don't question it - I just do it. Therefore I expect the same of others. Hmmmmm. There are guys in my backyard installing the glass in my pool fence. Finally. Three weeks after installing the posts, they've got the glass {after promising the glass in five to seven working days...}. Now, guess whether they've got all the glass, or whether a certain aspect, say, a gate, is not the correct size. Oh, you guessed that they've cut the gate too big? Hmmmm. Now, they reckon they'll be back tomorrow with a correctly cut gate. Do you think they'll be back tomorrow, in five to seven working days, or longer? Looks like I'll have to live with the yellow temporary fencing for a little longer.

rainy days and mondays

It's been raining for nearly a week now and I've been biting my tongue about it for a few days {you know, aside from saying "I can't complain about the rain" which really means, "Man, I'd love to complain about the rain"}. This morning there was an incy blue patch of sky which excited me enough to rip the sheets from my bed, but it's gone now, replaced with deep charcoal clouds pregnant with more rain. 

Now, I'm not complaining, but I'd really, really, really like to wash my sheets. My lovely new white egyptian cotton sheets, which, of course, can't go in the dryer. I think I'll have to tempt fate and wash them - I can always fling a line up down the hall - or across the living room. Sigh. Visions of summer sheets flapping in the breeze, casting delicate shadows across my increasingly verdant lawn {is there such a shade as Shocking Green? Cos I think my grass has invented it} are dissipating fast. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

note to SATC screenwriters

Apparently everyone's on board for a second Sex and the City film, which I'm a bit chuffed about. But here's what I think should happen... 

Sadly, Aiden's wife has tragically passed away {peacefully mind} leaving him to raise Pete and their children alone. And then one day, by happenstance, Carrie chances upon Aiden and they realise they were destined to be together. Carrie dumps Big {dramatically, leaving him in tears}, romances Aiden and then they live happily ever after. 

Seriously WHY did she ever let him go? Once was careless, but twice?? That's just criminal.

follow your bliss

Before serving up dessert today I made my hubby run and get the camera - cos, c'mon, surely this plate of yum is ready for its close-up...

And oh, it was just as delish third time around. Unfortunately there was a little leftover so we'll have to polish it off tonight. I'll soldier on though...

pretty in pink

Today was super-chilly, grey and rainy - so I had to nix the bbq lunch I'd planned. Instead, I cooked up Beef Bourginon, cubes of potatoes cooked in duck fat, baguettes - and caramelised radish. YUM.

I was watching French Food at Home yesterday when this bowl of deliciousness hit the screen and their pretty pink glazed glow dazzled me. Here's what you do:
Trim most of the green top, leaving around 1cm, and a little off the bottom root. Slice into quarters lengthwise and place in a frypan. Just cover with water, pop in the equivalent of two cubes of sugar and a tablespoon of butter and bring to the boil. Simmer for around 10 - 15 minutes, or until the sauce reduces to a pink caramelised glaze and the radishes take on a glossy pink hue. Serve to your gobsmacked guests...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

happy valentines day xx

bella rosa

I need to find space in my garden for this little pretty next spring. It's a David Austin rose with the name Skylark - and hello, prettiness! It's sweetly scented, as all his roses are, with a lingering aroma of 'apple pie' - oh-so-sold...

The fleurs are reminiscent of my favourite Duchess de Brabant - just a deeper shade of pink. I do need me one of these, particularly as it grows to a teensy 3 foot high and 2 foot wide - surely there's space.

bbq christening

I'm trying out the new bbq tonight, before we have friends for lunch tomorrow - how exciting! I'm dead keen to try out the rotisserie, which I've never used before - but how hard can it be? I think I'll throw on a few chickens, stuffed with lemons and pancetta, and basted with butter, tarragon and white wine. I'll also do a layered potato dish with thin slices alternated with chicken stock and a crispy cheese crust. And a salad - of course. For a starter I think I'll do some caramelised ribs - we're all close friends, we can deal with that. And dessert is, of course, my chocolate sponge pudding stuffed with raspberry and dark chocolate studded icecream - it always brings on smiles.

The bar fridge is connected in the pavilion, so I'll pop in some champers, juice, beer and water. But it's a bit cold and rainy today, and probably tomorrow too, so no swimming for the kiddies. Typical, the first friends to see our backyard almost complete will see it in the rain... However, the lilly pillies in the planter boxes are adoring every drop of the rain though, and the grass in the courtyard is now almost fluorescent in its richness. So shan't complain.

Next week the garden should be complete and as soon as there's a day of sunshine I'll snap away and share some pics!

bella bella

I did a huge shop at Coles yesterday as all profits raised would be sent to aid bushfire victims. I bought plenty of stuff, and discovered my new favourite thing - sparkling, organic fruit juices. O.M.G.

I bought blood orange, pomegranite and pink grapefruit - but there was also lemon on offer.  

Last night we whipped the vodka from the freezer, poured a shot or two into a glass and topped it with fizzy blood orange juice. A wedge of lime on the side completed the picture. Wow. The perfect cocktail - and the juice was only 99 cents a bottle. They also make a pretty good mocktail as our gal discovered, her glass filled only with juice and decorated with a lime wedge too.

Yes, I'll be heading back to Coles today to buy a case! {I am obsessed with blood orange at the moment - and I think this would be the base for a pretty amazing sorbet}.

Friday, February 13, 2009

bright spark

There's an electrician in my backyard today setting up electricity for my bar fridge and, more importantly, chandelier, in the pavilion. Only one minor task left till the backyard's complete (glass in the pool fencing!)

We'll still have another weekend of painting to give the pavilion three coats of white gloss - and now we'll have to work out how to furnish the - but it's as near to finished as possible. However, the weather, with it's 16 degrees and raining, isn't the best way to show off a summer backyard at its best. But I don't believe I'll ever complain about the rain again. Now I just need to work out how to transport it down south.

Oh, speaking of furnishing the pool pavilion, you know the white daybed I showed you a few weeks ago? Apparently it's only suitable for real, proper indoor use (insert sad face here). They did send us an image of the outdoor daybed and, oh, it was seriously unattractive. Ugly actually if I'm to be frank. Weird driftwood-esque timber, oddly shaped... oh well, we can keep searching. For the moment we've got a wicker lounge setting in white that'll serve the purpose. I've never been a fan of instantly furnishing a room. I prefer to make do till something comes along that I'm completely smitten with. It'll happen.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

pie eye

Hey, you know how delish the seven hour leg of lamb is? You know, the one studded with anchovies and garlic? Well I upped the yum factor tonight by baking it into a pie.

I finely diced an onion and a couple of huge cloves of garlic and sauteed them in olive oil till they were soft. The I diced the remaining leg of lamb into decent-sized chunks and threw that in on top of the onion. Because there wasn't enough lamb to fill a pie dish, I then chopped up 250g of bacon and browned it in there as well. After this I poured in half a cup of red wine (a spicy shiraz) and let it soak into the meat, before adding another 1/2 cup. After this I added about one and a half cups of chicken stock (I didn't have any beef - or lamb) and some dried, mixed herbs (no fresh rosemary in my garden at the moment). Adjusting to taste I then slooshed in a good splash of worstershire (sp?) sauce and salt and pepper. To thicken, I added a tablespoon of gravy powder and simmered for 15 minutes.

I then lined a pie dish with puff pastry and stabbed it all over before baking it at 200 degrees for five minutes. Of course, despite my stabbing, it rose dramatically, so I stabbed it again and pushed it down flat with a spoon. The filling went on top of this, and I placed more puff pastry roughly over the top. I brushed the top with beaten egg (plenty of it) and stabbed a few breathing holes in the top.

This went in the oven for around 15 minutes, till it was deliciously golden, and I served it with Paris Mash and peas cooked in chicken stock with a dob of butter.




For winter dinner parties I'll be serving individual pies in ramekins - with pastry just on the top for ease. And, for the record, hubby and daughter both ate their peas (obviously everything's better with chicken stock and butter...)

feeling crafty

On my way to buy coffee beans at a far-flung suburb this morning, I wandered past an op-shop. Now, as you know, I believe it's a sin to actually walk past an op-shop, so in I sauntered. First thing I spied was a pale, dusky pink handbag that I coveted last winter, but when I went back to buy it, alas, they were sold out. Today, however, that little beauty was sitting on a shelf - for $4, rather than the $80-odd retail. Hello, did somebody say bargain?

It's a cute little thing, with a pretty pale pink leather flower on one side, but the little button in the middle of the rose has fallen off - which is why I guess the previous owner abandoned it so. However, I'm looking at this as an opportunity to get crafty. I'm going to Spotlight to buy some raspberry felt and I'm going to make a little button to place in the middle. But that's not all. I thought I'd make two more flowers, to take the floral layer count to four, which shall bring the whole look together. 

I'll take some before and after shots so you can marvel at my Martha-esque craft skills (or not, as may be the case...) C'mon, how hard can it be?

little lamb

Gwen sure knows how to design a fab pair of shoes. These L.A.M.B. pretties would be able to wash away any winter blues. With a pencil skirt and bright red lips a gal could sashay into any room with a smile.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

cold comfort

Wow, in a week we've gone from 37 degree scorchers, to today's low of 17 degrees and raining. Can't complain about the rain as hopefully it's helping to put out some bushfires and is drenching some pretty dry gardens. It's also brought our carpenter back to finish the pavilion by nailing the slats around three edges - woo. And hoo!

Last night's lamb was utterly divine. Perfection. Best of all, I only used half of it - so do you know what that means? Lamb pie for dinner! I've never baked a savoury pie before, so I'll need to google a recipe. I'm thinking of a pastry base, a rich, red wine sauce and maybe a mashed potato topping - served with mushy peas (which I'll have to give a new name as husband and child both have an aversion to green peas - odd!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

comfort food

It's called that for a reason, which is why I'm slow cooking this Tuesday. A friend's status update on Facebook called me to slowly cook a leg of lamb, which I'm doing.

After studding deep cuts with chunks of fresh garlic and pieces of anchovy, I browed the leg in a pan. Then it's gone into the dutch oven with plenty of onions, more garlic, more anchovies, carrot and french lentils. A tin of diced tomatoes, some chicken stock, white wine, salt and pepper and a bouquet garni complete the combo. I should have simmered it, but didn't - I've just covered it with the lid and popped it in the oven on a low heat (120 degrees). It's going to slowly cook for at least five hours (should have started earlier for a seven hour cooking time, but oh well, we'll see) and then I'm serving it with potatoes and zucchini - possibly cooked together as a gratin, again, we'll see...

Hastily thrown together comfort food still serves a purpose, so long as it's got all the necessary ingredients and is still shown love. After all, sometimes a quick snog is just as good as a long, slow pash... 

thoughtful tuesday

I'm in a strange place at the moment. I'm around 1000 kilometres from my mum, step-dad and brother who live on 6.5 acres of bushland, right near the bushfires in Victoria. Houses have been lost at the end of their street (admittedly a very long street of about 7.5 kilometres, but still, that's too close). I'm trying to concentrate and work but am thinking about their safety, wishing that their "tree-change" were actually a "sea-change" so they could live somewhere safer, without the imminent threat to their lives and their home. I've been doing lots of calling to check their safety, and fielding calls from friends and family who've tried to get through, but found the phone lines busy. Normally an engaged signal is a minor annoyance, but when you know that catastrophic bushfires are nearby it sets the adrenaline pumping in the most horrid way.

At least they're safe. Close friends of theirs, the dearest, sweetest people you could ever meet, are waiting to hear the bad news about their daughter, her partner and other family members who lived in Kinglake - one of the worst affected areas. The death count's still rising and it could take weeks for positive identification. My heart and prayers are with them, and everyone who's experienced loss in these fires.

The worst part is that some fires were deliberately lit, while others were the result of a flaming cigarette being flung from a window. Obviously I have no concept of what goes on in the deranged mind of a pyromaniac - nor do I want to - but who throws a lit cigarette out a window any time, let alone in 46 degree heat? That's not ignorance, that's willful stupidity. They will be found, and they will be charged, but the lives, human and animal, the loss of homes and priceless memories, along with the nightmares so many will continue to experience, cannot be salved with a gaol-term. 

The only positive is lift it's giving the human spirit. Cash donations are pouring in, people are desperate to help, and the town's will be rebuilt with vigour. The Aussie battling spirit is at its best in times of crisis - let's hope it continues even when times are good.

Monday, February 09, 2009


Our electrician is coming this week to hang and connect this chandelier in our pavilion. We found it a few years ago in an antique store, and basically designed the pitch of the pavilion roof around it. Here it is trying out life on the outside on our side veranda. I think it'll like looking over the pool - you?

damping down

I wrote a lot about the rain last year, and how I wished it would move where it's needed. Today I'm really hoping that plenty of rain clouds settle over Victoria to quell the bushfires. My thoughts are with those who've lost loved-ones and their homes in this horrific tragedy. 

Friday, February 06, 2009


My love for this frock knows no bounds. It may possibly be quelled when I too own a floaty grey frock, but until then I'll have to live it out on-screen. 

Of course the episode featuring this frock was just on - and the phone rang just before I feasted my eyes on it. What couture candy the final series served up. Delish...

belle fleurs

Here's a little dose of pretty to liven up your day. Pink and red are just the happiest colour combo don't you think? And I'm loving on the combo of ranunculus and roses - I might have to plant a few ranunculus bulbs amongst the catmint that carpets my roses - red and pink, to contrast with the red and pink roses naturellement.

Oh, and can't you just imagine a bowl of cafe au lait in that pretty spotty number?

in memorium

I love The Cramps. I also adored the love story of Lux Interior and Poison Ivy. Like Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward I looked to them as an example of a hot, long-lived marriage. And now he is gone.

RIP Lux.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

saturated sunshine

Today, to put myself in a better mood I painted my toenails bright yellow. I really should have resisted that urge. I used an el cheapo nailpolish that looks like primary school paint - goopy, opaque and with surprisingly sparse coverage.

If I really needed cheering up these shoes {Pour la Victoire: Tatienne in case you're wondering} would have been a much prettier option. Yes, they would be a tad more expensive than my $2 nailpolish, but far more rewarding - oh, and I'd be helping the economy too. Selfless really.

take me away

Every time I look at this gorgeous image it makes me sigh and smile. 

it don't matter if you're black or white

Help me out here. I like to do laundry properly. I separate darks from lights, handwash anything that tells me to (by hand, in the sink, not on the machine's 'handwash' cycle) and follow instructions to a ridiculous degree.

But when you're sorting lights from darks and you have something that's black and white striped where does it go? Darks? Lights? Why must laundry mess with my head? Luckily, I'm eco-conscious and do all my loads with cold water so I don't need to worry about fading of dark colours, so I tend to throw stripey stuff in with the whites, as I presume that because it's been treated so the black on the actual garment won't bleed with the white on the actual garment all should be well. But c'mon, washing's meant to be a no-brainer - isn't it?

Oh, and yes, that is a pink washing machine. A pink Smeg washing machine. I think I died a little on the inside when I saw it - I thought my hankering for a green Smeg fridge was going to be the end of me - but this? Oh wouldn't washing be bliss...

shoe envy

See this teeny, tiny picture here? Well, squint and use all your visual powers and check out the insy wincy shoes on the model. See them? Aren't they mini-magnificient perfection? This outfit was one of the wonders that Gok whipped up on Gok's Fashion fix the other night. I love what he did with a little bias binding around the lapels at at the waist to embellish that cute little peplum. He also placed cute little bows above the split at the rear of that pencil skirt. Five bows - because odd numbers are better than even stylistically...

However the shoes, which were ever-so-cheap look like the most divine, quilted, bi-coloured, patent Chanel Mary Janes. I want, I need, I must have. I believe they were from either Office or Next - one of those fabulous UK stores that has cheap yet divine stuff. I'm browsing until I find these in a size 37. Yes, they will end up costing $8000 Australian thanks to our cruddy exchange rate versus the pound, but still - cuteness!

* Update: I've found a slightly larger version of the shoes for your viewing pleasure. I have also found them on the Office website for seventy pounds. Now, if you had in-laws going to the UK in a few weeks to visit your sister-in-law who lives just outside London would you buy them, ship them to sis-in-law's and ask in-laws to bring them back to Australia just in time for winter? Would you?

when worlds collide

Why is it that on some days things just conspire against you? You know, nothing goes smoothly, you can't make yourself understood, if something should take one hour it ends up taking four... Welcome to my yesterday. Erk, it was annoying. Nothing went smoothly, or if it did I didn't notice it. But it's gone, it's over, today is another day. Working on the whole Power Of Now thing I'm just going to let yesterday go (well, aside from blogging about it now) and happily get on with today.

Today's going much better thank you. There are blokes finally taking away the temporary fencing that's been sitting around in the side yard, being slowly decorated by an array of weeds. I'm reasonably prepared for the work I have due. The house is looking okay (sink cleaned - bonus) and I have only a few hours work to do on a story that's due tomorrow which is coming together rather beautifully.

Tonight I'm also determined to bbq the ribs that are sitting in my fridge. Last night my daughter had netball grading that started at 4.30 and finished at 7pm. Yes, in the heat. Poor little poppets were red-faced and exhausted while I was berating myself for bring upteen bottles of water for the girls - and none for me. I also forgot to take a chair which meant many hours of standing which I'll only suffer if someone magnificent is on a stage in front of me performing my favourite songs (yes, my daughter was playing her little heart out, so that helped make it bearable, but oh, my ancient back...) Anyway, all that led to the most evil takeout meal of all McDonalds - but it did hit the spot.

Tonight, enormous green salad, ribs and bucketloads of cool water to wash it all down. A nice way to end the day.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

breathing space

It's been one of those days so I thought a pretty image might breathe some fresh and more inspired life into my day. These shelves and fleurs from CountryHome are seriously joy-inspiring. Non?

hair scare

Driving along in the car the other day my ears were delighted to hear a favourite tune from a band that holds a special place in my heart - Pavement. These indy rockers were the soundtrack to a particularly lovely stage in my life, hence my continuing adoration. In this song Steve Malkmus's quirky vocals implored "Darling don't you go and cut your hair..." and you know what I did this morning? Ignored him. Yep, how's this for a segueway... We painted the pavilion at the end of the pool on the weekend and I ended up with a substantial amount of white paint in my long, black curly hair. A couple of washes haven't budged it, so this morning, I washed it again, then hacked away with the scissors. Oops.

Obviously the good thing about long, curly hair is that you don't have to be precise when you cut it. It's curly, it's kooky, it'll adapt. However, I'm not sure how well my hair will respond when it's dry after having a couple of inches cut from random sections. Hopefully okay.

Oh, and I still have some paint in my hair, but I'm hoping to pass that off as a statement - or just dye over the top of it...

And yes, next time I paint I will wear a cap - and attempt to not doong my head on the freshly painted beams quite so often.

bagging a bargain

Who doesn't love a bargain? Hearts have to skip a beat when something you want AND need is on sale. I raced into Target the other day to see if I could find any cheapo swimwear and found a fabulous black and white printed number - for $10. I know! I bought my daughter a couple of pairs too (one stashed away for next summer in a larger size) 

I also bought the most divine Cath Kidston Lilac and Lavender washbag set with the cutest little make-up bag, handcream, soap, shower gel and lip salve - for only $9 - that's positively stolen. I think I need to redo my nails, slather my hands in the creme and polish up my pout with the salve. It's already starting to be one of those days, so best try to counter it with some scent-therapy.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

you give me goosebumps, heart thumps...

Omygodomygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod... Alexander McQueen, you saucy minx you. I've had to bring my shoe of the week forward two full days because of these lovelies. They've also inspired me to get all crafty a la Gok's Fashion Fix. I am so going out to buy a slew of organza roses to pin to the back of a pair of black heels. I have a divine pair of black satin pumps that would feel very ooh la la with a rose following in my wake.

Oh, pretty.

role reversals

In most ways I'm tres girly. I love pink, feel naked without pretty coloured toe- and finger-nails, I squeal, I giggle... but over the years I've realised that I do some blokey things. For example, I always leap into the driver's seat whenever we head out. I love driving, whereas my hubby has no real opinion on it - so I'm the driver. I also take on the traditionally masculine arena of the bbq - wielding tongs like any good Aussie bloke. Not for any real reason - just because I like cooking. 

However, on the weekend we bought a new barbeque. A real big, boofy, blokey barbie. The hulking great stainless steel machine you see in this post is coming to live at our house this weekend, and I think my husband's in love. I'm pretty sure he has visions of roasting sides of wildebeast on the rotisserie, sizzling large hunks of steak on the racks and allowing butterflied legs of lamb to slowly brown under his ministrations. 

Can't say I blame him.

Monday, February 02, 2009

well read

I was an avid reader from an early age. I devoured books and they always made me smile. I also started my re-reading thing quite young. See, if I like a book I can happily read it again, and again. It may have something to do with my goldfish-like brain, or maybe repetition suits me. Anywhoodle, there are some children's book's that I just la-la-loved. I wished that I'd kept some from my childhood, but they were lost on one of my dad's many moves. 

Thank goodness for op-shops though. Over the years I've rebuilt an extensive Dr Seuss collection for my daughter and she's just as fond of his amazing brain as I am. There were also a few Little Golden Books I adored - and this one here was my absolute favourite of all. I actually screamed the day I found this on a second-hand bookshop's shelves.

Annabella and I both love The Color Kittens. Even though she's nine, if she's had a big day and is too tired to read, I'll get this out and read to her at bedtime and we'll both smile at the tale of Brush and Hush. When the little pink dog dances with a groovy green cat... oh, what wonderful illustrations.

Next stop is to track down my favourite book from when I was about nine. What The Witch Left and is a magical tale that even to this day inspires me. The friendship, the magic and the adventure are a must for every little girl's mind. It was a scholastic book, so it was probably one I begged for from a school book club. But now, it's sadly out of print (despite many fans calling for its reprint) so I'll need a well-loved 2nd hand version. Anyone?

oh please

Much as I love the stuff, one of my pet peeves is chocolate for breakfast. Erk. It's wrong, on so many levels. As I tried to teach my daughter from an early age: chocolate is a sometimes food, it shouldn't be a major part of the food pyramid. That's why I loathe chocolate cereals aimed at kids. I'm not going to instill such negative eating habits in my child - the whole rewarding with food thing can lead to serious issues as you grow up.

So imagine, here I am this morning, racing through Coles when I spied this concoction on the shelves. Now, I'd always thought special K was one of those cereals that when you're trying to lose weight, you turn to. But now? Not so sure. Reading the ingredient list makes your blood boil. The first ingredients are rice and wholegrain wheat - good. Then sugar then, mmmm, 'chocolately chunks' which require a science degree to decode. Obviously a fair amount of the ingredients are some kind of sweetener. Oh, and there's fructose, and corn syrup - you know, the old 'break down the sugars into 20 different combinations so that 'sugar' isn't the first and main ingredient - but would be the majority ingredient if you combined all their unholy sweetness together.

No wonder so many people are confused about food and what they should and shouldn't eat. When a formerly reputable and reliable brand such as Special K deems it okay to eat chocolate at breakfast your average consumer is going to be confused. Not me, no Special K product, even the original which I actually like, is gracing my cereal shelf. Ever.