Thursday, April 30, 2009

an ode to masterchef

As you probably know, I adore cooking shows. Coming late to the meat-cooking game, after years as a vegetarian, I'm constantly picking up new ideas. Now, one of my favourite shows is a British one {surprise} Masterchef. I la la love that show. When I heard they were making an Australian version I worried - would it be a cringe-inducing version like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy or Top Gear - or would it succeed, like Biggest Loser? Well, I reckon we have a winner.

It may have only started on Monday night but I'm already in love with the three judges - and the host? Don't get me started on her. When I heard a former magazine editor was to host I quickly put on my judgement pants - I know her as former Cosmo-editor, not a foodie journo - but within moments I was charmed. Sarah Wilson is a total delight and totally makes the transformation to telly. She's utterly scrumptious to look at, seems to have a real empathy with the contestants - and manages to read her lines eloquently {I shouldn't have to comment on that - but man, so few people can work their way around a script these days!}

The traditional format's changed to reflect a more dynamic program and I can't wait to see what the contestants come up with. So far I've yet to see a great deal of genius - in the most recent UK Masterchef I was able to pick the final three in their first round. 

Of course I'm kicking myself for not following my friend Victoria's suggestion to enter, but I still don't think I'm there. I'm a slow-cooking, long-marinating gal and have yet to devise myself a menu I could manage to complete in 30 to 90 minutes... but maybe next year...

a few of my favourite things

A swoon-worthy pantry idea if ever I've seen one - candy striped tins perfect for filling with sweet somethings...

Oh my.

perfection in pink

I needed cheering up {really bad sinus is blocking my ears making me deaf and cranky} so Mr McQueen was happy to come to the party. With such a purdy pair of electric pink pumps to carry you around, every step would have to be bliss. I hope these bring a little bit of sparkle to your day too!

They've inspired me to slick my lips with an electric shade of pink for my luncheon. I might be dressed all in black - but my lips will scream siren.

home work

Working from home it's easy to be distracted, so I'm aiming to set up my perfect home/work life. One of the things I realised that I really, really miss is regular contact with others. Just sharing a morning coffee or lunch and chatting with a friend really makes the day complete. While I get the usual "hi" and "bye" when I drop off and pick up my daughter on the school run, I miss the one-on-one time, so now I'm scheduling a regular Ladies Who Lunch catch-up with a friend. Today's our first date, so I'm hunting down a suitable café {preferably not the same one where our husbands are having their regular boy-zone!}

I'm also trying to catch up, once a week, with lovely friends for a coffee. Inviting them here, firing up the espresso machine and sitting in the autumnal sun in the pavillion is the ideal way to start off a working day. This catch-up serves two purposes: I get to stave off loneliness and feed my friendships, and I make sure the house is relatively tidy the night before so that housework doesn't distract me from paid work. Good huh!

Now, onto today's bargains... I just dropped off my gal's pile of games and puzzles at the salvos and bought myself two great working from home tops - one a pretty cream marle {does that exist? It's kinda like grey marle pattern-wise, but in cream} and the other a gorgeous rich blue. Then I saw the perfect winter working dress. Long, black, cotton/jersey. Ideal with a pair of tights and a cardi - and if I sling on some beads and slick on some lipstick I'll look tres professional. But, bargain of all bargains was a silver cocktail shaker for $3. Hello Margaritaville...

sweet dreams

How gorgeous is this bedroom? Sweet dreams must be created in such stunning surrounds. The nights have developed a chill these past few weeks, and it's almost time to bring out the cozy flannelette sheets. Mmmmmm. Is there any more joyous moment than when you first snuggle into your bed? I think not!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Hey, you know how earlier today I said I wanted to make a slipcover for my ugh-ly black office chair? Well I reckon this kind of thing would be perfect - except in a floral, or toille. Taking it down almost to the ground, with a bit of lace could almost make it appear as though it has these nice claw and ball feet, rather than casters... Happy!

a room of one's own

Oh my + sigh...

clutter busted

Home from her first day at school, after completing her week's worth of homework and eating a gazillion snacks, my daughter was 'bored'. So I told her to clean out her toy room - and oh boy - did she. We now have two teetering piles of games and puzzles, plus a big bag of toys, to give to the salvos. Along with bucketloads of rubbish to go in the bin and recycling. 

The toy room {effectively just a closet off the living room - not as grand as it sounds...} is now organised, clean and looks damned tidy. And hopefully, because Miss A did it herself, it'll stay that way.

My hubby's also gone through all our mags and I have a stack the height of a small child to take to the salvos as well. Any decorators in the Newcastle area should head to the Salvos in the next few days as there will be plenty of recent pickings on offer. 

I'm longing for a bit of minimalist bliss {in my more maximalist manner}. I've also decided to put redecorating the study firmly on the agenda. I want to rip up the carpets and paint the floor boards white, look into a cheap, vintage desk that I can paint white, and, eventually, have floor to ceiling bookshelves covering the walls. Now I work from home full-time I need a lovely space to create.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

what a crock

Very disappointed! As I was checking on dinner's progress at lunch I discovered my bowl for the slow-cooker has developed two cracks on the outside edges - not happy Jan! When I called customer service to ask after the cost of a replacement I was informed that it would cost $49.83 for a new bowl. Considering that the whole slow cooker cost $55 on sale less than two years ago I think NOT! 

I've been careful with it, mind. It's not that cracks have developed due to my lackadaisical level of care. This is planned obsolescence of the highest order. 

So I've got my fingers crossed that the cracks don't lengthen into the bowl in this cooking - and then I'm going to think about how I can patch it until I buy a new slow-cooker - a different brand with a better bowl!

frugal foodie

My menu plan's still going along swimmingly - yay. Today, after running alongside my daughter who rode to school, I came home and chopped up food for the slow-cooker. On the menu tonight is veal ragu {because veal steaks were super-reduced - cheaper than chuck steak!}. This recipe is based on a wild boar ragu Jamie Oliver cooked on his Italian Adventure. Using white wine gives it a milder flavour than the traditional red wine - I reckon that veal and white wine are perfectly married {I used chardonnay because there was a bottle in the fridge with a glass left in it. Yeah, I don't know how that happened either...}

Veal Ragu in the slow cooker:
600 grams of veal steak, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
3 bay leaves
4 slices of bacon or pancetta, diced or cubed
700g passata
1 cup white wine

Throw all the meat and veg into your slow cooker and then brown bacon in a pan. Throw bacon on top of meat and veg, and deglaze the pan with the wine. Pour in passata and then wine over the top and give it a stir. Cover tightly with a sheet of baking paper, pop on the lid and cook on low for around 6 - 8 hours. Feel like the best cook ever.

Serve over strips of pasta topped with parmesan shavings. 

eye of the beholder

I've finally got to acknowledge that I'm a bit of a princess {surprise!}. I now totally put my hand up to the fact that I need to be surrounded by pretty things - if not, I become despondent. I don't care if it's useful, or practical - I need it to look good at the same time. I went to a tupperware party recently and while I know that the products are fabulous, I couldn't buy anything because the retro-themed colours {avocado green, dark brown, mustard yellow} don't float my boat. It's why I work on a pretty iMac rather than a staid PC. I'm a pretty-ist - I might as well admit it.

However, with people, oh, with people I accept the quirks and differences {but not ugly fashion - I won't go there}. I can't abide sameness or anything bland. To me, beauty that stands out offers up a difference. Look at the editor of French Vogue - she's stunning and yet in no way a typical, pretty woman. 

On our weekend talk turned to plastic surgery. One of the women is ready for her breast reduction - which I totally understand. She's not trying to conform to a norm, just wants a life free from back and shoulder pain. However, when people start wanting to shave a little off their nose, or liposuction their thighs... that's where I have my issues. I used to loathe the bump on my nose, for years I despised it. But now, I reckon it gives me character, and balances out my features. It's my nose. I'm always sad when I see gorgeous roman noses given the ski-jump treatment - people's faces never look the same when parts of their septum are shaved away. It's the same with thighs - some of us have thin thighs, others are more generously proportioned - vive la difference...

So here's to beauty, in all its guises.

Monday, April 27, 2009

life is sweet

You know what? Life's better as an optimist. I'm not unrealistic, I'd just prefer to look on the sweeter side of life. A glass half-full is much more appealing than one that's half-empty. So even though today's monday, possibly my least favourite day of the week, I'm going to think happy thoughts {such as these pretty cupcakes - how spesh!}, get on with the unpacking from our camping, muddle through the tidying and prepare myself for my daughter's return to school tomorrow!

My hubby's taken the day off work to spend with our gal today, so I can get some work done. They're just about to start giving their bikes a wash before going for a ride. I'm loving how our camping holiday has given our daughter the riding bug.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

back on track

Whew, we're back from what may quite possibly be the best family holiday. While we may have totally mis-read the accommodation information and actually requested the cabin that we'd said "Who'd stay in that?" {um, der-brains like us apparently} we still had a fabuloso time. Staying with four other fab families, we parents spent the day idling away, reading mags and books, wandering the grounds, lolling on couches... while our children spent the daylight hours either racing around on their push bikes, swimming {oh, yes, sometimes we lolled on sun lounges by the pool - supervising} or taking part in kids' club activities. We only saw our daughter a few times as various children {there were 12 children amongst us} called in for water, food or sunscreen. It was fabulous to see the kids just running free, doing the kind of random activities that we'd been able to do in our neighbourhood when we were young. Our lass is now keen to ride her bike to school, so on Tuesday we'll strap on the helmet and I'll run alongside her on the trip - benefits for two!

I'm just back from shopping after vowing to get back into the menu planning and once-per-week grocery shop. We're having roast pork {with extra crackling} and veg for dinner tonight, grilled t-bone steaks {on special} with veg and salad tomorrow night, veal ragu in the slow-cooker on tuesday {veal steaks on special}, coq-au-vin in the slow cooker wednesday, meatloaf and veg thursday and caramel chicken with rice and steamed greens on friday. I feel organised just thinking about it!

Having all my meals planned and organised also means I'll get back into my regular, daily walk - I'm thinking about just tacking it on to the end of the school run {if I'm not too exhausted keeping pace with the cycling gal}. After a weekend spent drinking, nibbling and lolling, I am keen to get a move on!


Friday, April 24, 2009

anzac day

It's Anzac Day tomorrow, so I'll be nibbling a biscuit or two in honour of the diggers. Last Anzac Day I had to work {newspapers only recognise Christmas Day and Easter!} and as I was walking from Central Station to my office, I saw a very old digger being wheeled down the road by his family. Bless. Next thing, I saw this utterly gorgeous bloke come running down the road and for a second, was a bit concerned that he was going to be an anti-war protester {which is admirable} and say something mean to the digger {not admirable at all}. So I hovered, just in case. 

As gorgeous young bloke came up beside digger, he bent down and said "I just wanted to say thanks Mate, thanks for all you've done." Double bless. I got very teary, and still well up thinking about it.

Now, I'm very anti-violence, and you can't get much more violent than war, but I think we need to show our elders respect - and to respect their opinions. So happy Anzac Day to all the diggers. Bless your little socks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

the great escape

See this? This is the expression of unmitigated joy and glee on my cat's face when he escaped down the side of the house today {can we pretend that the verdant weed situation is some kind of freestyle native garden?}

Mulberry is meant to be an indoor cat, but lately he's been apoplectic about that title and would prefer to be known as The Happy Wanderer. Now, if British Shorthairs weren't such good hunters I'd probably be okay with that, but the lizard population in my garden would beg to differ. After pouncing on them for about an hour, my husband came home and coaxed this recalcitrant kitty into his arms. Maybe I need to create a little kitty run for him in the courtyard - or pop him on a leash...

define camping

My husband objects to my using the word "camping" in relation to this weekend's visit to an eco-resort. I still stand by my theory that it's not in a house - but a cabin, there's a bunch of similar accommodations - with communal swimming pools etc - ergo: camping.

halston, we have no problems

Ooooh, me likey. I'm having a bit of a Halston moment - at the moment. After watching Gok's Fashion Fix, and seeing a few deeevine Halston frocks I'm harkening back to the Studio 54 era. Now, while I'm not a boot gal {I have calves and calves + boots = no} my heart stopped upon spying these. I adore the heel height, the buckles, the cutouts, the suede, the colour - delicious. I think my divine friend Ms M would look perfecto in these - particularly with her grey tulle skirt...

two much?

The whole size-ism debate has reared its lollypop head again in the US. Last year I was at first thrilled when I read Jennifer Love Hewitt's impassioned plea against size-ism, appreciating women for their variety, loving curves, or straight lines... until she said "A size two is not fat" and I did the classic quadruple take {you know, like a double take, to the max}. While some aspects of society may worship at the altar of size zero* of course they're not saying size two is huge - that's crazy! And then of course came all the calls that if JLH is a size two then her stylist has been seriously cutting out labels and replacing them with those of a size two.

Now, of course, Kim Kardassian, in what is for once, not just a bid for relevancy, has chimed in. After being featured in a mag with a caption stating she was a Forever 21 fan {a company who've now released plus sizes} she took to her blog, singing the praises of plus sizes, curvy girls... before stating that she's a size 2 - um, maybe one of her arms is... Honestly, why chime in with something like that? Why not just leave it with the praise? Why state that you're a specific size, when, really, those breasts and butt cheeks would suffocate in a size two. I have no idea what size she really is, maybe a six {I'm thinking Australian size 10 - 12} nor did I care. Once again the point becomes obfuscated by vanity.

I can't imagine a time when we'll just appreciate the wide variety of body shapes. Whether you're thin, curvy, pear-shaped, muscular, voluptuous... if you're healthy and happy shouldn't that be the ultimate, not the number on a label?

* Okay, this whole size zero thing is repellent, and I'm so glad that our sizings in Australia preclude it. What does it mean? You're so teeny that there's nothing of you! Even naturally skinny gals would be pressed to fit into a zero - instead you have the increasingly scarily thin Lindsay Lohan embodying {sic} the size zero - and with it the whole 3 Cs of the celeb diet world {caffeine, cigs, crack...} Soapbox removed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ode to a nana nap

Oh, I do so adore an afternoon nap. I have them very rarely, say every month or two, but when I do, oh bliss. Today I finally dropped my daughter at her cousins' house for a sleepover, came back home to do some work and realised that my time would be much better spent napping - and so to bed. I slept for a little over 90 minutes and feel ever-so-refreshed.

We're off to dinner tonight, and have decided to walk down to a local favourite - Lime, a great restaurant at The Junction. I'm hoping that there's pork belly on the menu as the last few days have helped satiate my duck cravings {or at least stifle them for a week or two}. Tomorrow I'm going to sit down and work like crazy so we can head off camping on Friday morning with a clear conscience. 

I think I've also decided to re-decorate my home office. I'd love a girly, ornate white desk, to rip up the carpet and paint the floorboards white, to make a floral slip-cover to hide my ugly black office chair and to finally install a wall of white bookshelves. I think it'd make me work better - don't you?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

weather tis nobler

We've had the wildest few days of weather here later. Torrential downpours that had far too many of us thinking back to the floods just a few years back. Then, when it wasn't bucketing, we had wild winds which sent our already crazy kitty into a frenzy of naughtiness. Today, however, the sky is blue and I was able to wash the most enormous amount of dark clothes - five day's worth. They're all blowing in the wind and drying nicely. Just like you can only appreciate happiness if you've experienced sadness, I believe that crazy, awful weather really helps you welcome back the good. 

Hopefully the weather will hold as we're off camping on the weekend with a few other families. Oh, and by camping I mean staying at an eco resort in cabins - I'm so not a tent gal. Actually, I'm not a shower block or long-drop toilet girl to be really specific. However, we will gather around some sort of communal camp-fire at night {even if it's only a bbq} and it's on lots of land for the kids to ride their bikes around - so really, that's camping. It's all in the definition: am I staying off-site, in a wooded area, in relatively primitive lodgings? Yes? Then it's camping.

Tonight our daughter's off to her cousin's for a sleepover, so hubby and I shall frock up {well, I'll frock up, he'll just put on a nice shirt and stuff} and hit one of Newcastle's restaurants. I'm tossing up between Bacchus and Silo, both perfect - and, excitingly, Manolo-worthy. Yes, if the weather holds my black satin Manolos will be removed from their box - not just to be gazed at adoringly, but to be worn, what all Manolos ache to do.

woo hoo drew

I caught Drew on Ellen last night, and oh, I adore that girl. I love how she's thrown herself into her character for Grey Gardens {which I will DIE if I can't find on-line - or if they don't screen it in Australia asap!} The dedication and respect she's shown to Little Edie is humbling. 

She's also a rare performer, one who's giving of themselves in order to help her film perform. Her frocks, hair and make-up during the press tour for Grey Gardens have been sublime. I can't imagine myself wearing them, but they've worked as pieces of art and the strength of her personality allows them to shine.

Drew's Oscar de la Renta frock on Ellen last night though, oh my. Delicious. Apparently they're auctioning it on ebay to raise funds for the American Humane Society - it's got to raise a bucketload of cash for prettiness sake.

Monday, April 20, 2009

study in contrast

This is one of the magnolia Little Gems that we've added to our courtyard - don't they look gorgeous against the charcoal fence? I love the rusty underside of the leaves, which is the perfect foil for the antique garden bench they both flank. Oh, and that massive white bloom? Smells like lemon sherbet...

karl's creations



pretty little things

We've planted the prettiest cream and lilac violas in our front garden and they brighten my life with their lovely little faces. If only I had some scented violets to create little nosegays... oh, what a life that would be.

meat market

Oh, we had such a lovely weekend filled with friends, laughter and food. Saturday night saw us get together with our dearest friends, and added some new friends to the mix - which made the evening positively pop. We laughed, chatted, drank and ate "Fred Flintstone Chops", the size of which delighted the boys, and the texture which entranced the girls. {I'm talking about the standing rib roast, cooked on the bbq - recipe a few weeks back} I'm thrilled I've finally mastered the art of cooking red meat - it's taken a while, but by jove, I think I've got it!

On Sunday my dear friend M and I went to our favourite antique store, where we fell in love with numerous bits and pieces, but I'm holding strong and only buying what I need! Speaking of what I need... is a white day bed for the pavillion. After browsing through the big antique store, we went to my favourite shop next door, Auld and Grey. The owner is a kindred spirit, and I just adore wondering through her treasures. As we were leaving I happened to ask if she had any day beds in storage, and she said "Oh, yes, I have a split cane day bed... painted white... I can bring it in on Tuesday for you!" Heart be still. So tomorrow, I'm heading over, hope in heart. Wish me luck!

Last night we had fellow francophile friends around to share our massive pack of duck confit. At first hubby and I were disappointed that it was confit duck breast, not leg, but once I opened the vacuum-sealed pack I was delighted to find breasts with skin intact, and, excitingly - bones! Just like on the real cooking shows!! I placed them on a hot oven tray and baked them in a hottish oven for about 10 minutes, before turning on the grill to crisp up the skin. {okay, salivating now at the memory}. I served it very simply with a plain potato mash and green beans, tossed in garlic olive oil and topped with roasted slivered almonds. Oh, wow. We drank a Margan Semillion with the duck and it was the perfect accompaniment, balancing out the juniper and star anise flavours in the confit in the most divine manner. 

Tonight, we'll be having the last of the duck, tough job, but someone's gotta do it. I'll serve it sliced on a julienne salad with rice noodles and an asian dressing - after the indulgence of this past weekend, a wee bit of detoxing respite is in order!

Today's a big working day for me. With school holidays I haven't managed to fit much work in. So my darling friend G is having my gal over to play with her gal. Bless. It's wild and grey and windy in Merewether today, perfect weather to plonk myself before the computer and get on with it!

Friday, April 17, 2009

chicken tonight

Why yes, a real stylist would have wiped off the smears of sauce around the outside, but let me say, free-range chicken drumsticks, in the slow cooker with plenty of sliced onions, sliced red capsicum, a tin of tomatoes, a sloosh of pinot grigio, tomato paste, olives and selected herbs and spices, then served over spaghetti = yum.

ad sense

There's an ad on tv at the moment that drives me completely insane. In it, there's a woman in a lovely house {naturally} who goes toward her bin, wrinkles her nose and sprays it with air freshener. Of course, that's not good enough says the voice over, so she reaches for her Glen 20 which kills the germs that cause the smell. Next she wafts around the house spraying the dog's bed and then a pile of stinky sports gear. 

Now, my nine-year-old saw that ad last night, turned to me with an incredulous expression and said "Why doesn't she just empty the bin and wash it out, wash the pet's bed and WASH the stinky clothes?"


What kind of world are we living in where spraying something is considered some kind of viable alternative to cleaning it. Gross!

couture comfort

Emily Blunt looks utterly exquisite in the pages of Vanity Fair - I think I'll be tracking down an air freighted copy of this one at Borders. I adored Ms Blunt in The Devil Wears Prada, caught her in The Jane Austin Book Club the other day while I was lying on the lounge feeling poorly - and on Sunday night, was mesmerised by her turn in Dan In Real Life. She's so transfixingly beautiful that I could watch her in anything, but what's most amazing, is that there's a bundle of talent within that glorious skin.

parterre perfection

Now that my hubby's been excavating the side yard, ready for gravel paths to be laid, I feel mere moments away from my parterre vegie and herb gardens. Having a little potager out the side of my house will be bliss. It's a pretty sunny spot, so I imagine most herbs and veg will do well. 

I'm also dreaming of an espaliered lime or lemon tree on the fence behind the garden beds - we don't have room for a full-sized tree, but if we strap it down to the fence I'll have plenty of citrus for recipes and vodka!

Now that I'm working from home I'll also have more time for watering, so raising plants from seed is an option. I'd love to look into the range of heritage veg on offer from The Diggers Club. That's their garden in the picture and I know they'll have varieties that will not only make my garden look divine, they'll tickle our tastebuds as well.

maxed out mary janes

You know what, I don't think I've featured a pair of Louboutin's on my shoe of the week - so here's la premiere. I adore the scarlet sole, but was bored to death with seeing them on every starlet's hoof around town. Now every wannabe is wearing those Vuitton numbers that look like the set of Survivor I can re-embrace Louboutin's - and what better way to do so than with these multiple Mary Janes? Classic black patent is my go-to fave for shoes, it always looks fresh. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

flat out

My daughter is not at all fond of school holidays, which is a shame, as we're currently in the midst of them. We've been trying quite a few things to keep her entertained, but doing tasks around the house seems to be top of her list. Yesterday she ironed my napkins - and did a magnificent job. Just in time for my guests who're coming up on the weekend.

Oh, and in exciting news, we've nearly finished the courtyard. We're having two plants delivered today to go either side of this gorgeous antique bench that's now sitting against the wall. It'll really make the whole yard complete. 

And yes, I will try to post some pics!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

belle blanc fleurs

Foxgloves are just the most magnificent flower. With their spires towering over a metre high they're the perfect backdrop to a garden. I haven't had any foxgloves for a few seasons, and I miss their lanky prettiness - so I'm buying a punnet of white foxgloves this year, and planting them around my pink Gertrude Jeckyl rose and in front of my cream and pink climbing Pierre de Ronsard rose. The border in front is dotted with varying Iris so it should make a pretty site come next spring.

My hubby spent the whole long weekend doing some serious manual labour, getting our side yard ready for the final stage of our renovations - a drystone retaining wall, cute little shed and vegie and herb garden. Today I need to find a means of getting rid of around six cubic metres of clay that he's dug from paths. Time to dial a skip I do believe.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

quick quack

Every member of my family has had a craving for confit duck recently, so short of shelling out around $35 per serve at our favourite restaurant, I needed to source some of the stuff. So imagine my delight when I was buying my coffee beans this morning and spied a pack of 10 confit duck legs at The Essential Ingredient. Apparently they freeze well, so we won't have to stuff ourselves stupid - or invite other duck-loving friends around {luckily, as our fellow duck-obsessive friends are on holiday this week - although I'm sure they'd do the eight hour drive back to share with us!}.

Now I just need to google some serving suggestions - which will be interesting as none of us are into the whole duck and fruit combo. When it comes to fruits, serve 'em to me with cream or icecream... I'm fussy that way.

Monday, April 13, 2009

grill girl

I think I've finally mastered my bbq. I've just had family to dinner, cooked up a honey and rosemary marinated butterflied leg of lamb, garlic and olive oil smashed potatoes, and tuscan spatchcocked chicken. Yummy. I par-boiled the potatoes then smashed them down with a potato masher and drizzled them with garlic-infused olive oil before putting them on the bbq hot plate to brown. The lamb was studded with rosemary, drizzled with organic honey and left to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours, before being brought to room temperature. 

I let the bbq heat up then turned off the middle two burners before searing the lamb and marinated chicken for a few minutes on the grill plate. Then I popped them in the middle, closed the hood and left them to cook for around 45 minutes. After the lamb was cooked, I took it off, covered it with foil and left to rest for 15 minutes before slicing finely. It was served with a tuscan bread and tomato salad, green salad and the smashed potatoes. Because I was feeding a crowd I made my chocolate sponge, icecream and raspberry number... Oh, it was good.

I reckon that barbeques are the ultimate entertaining accessory. Everything tastes amazing, you can leave it to cook while you chat, and it's all done in the great outdoors.

Friday, April 10, 2009

easter goodies

Hope you all have a lovely easter filled with special times with your family and friends. Wouldn't it be nice if one of said friends were crafty enough to make pretty easter decorations like these? I found them on and think they're impossibly divine.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

loooooooong weekend

I'm a bit excited about the Easter long weekend - specially as my hubby's taking a five day break. We're planning a mix of relaxation and action. There's still quite a few jobs on the to-do list {as there always will be...} but we can do them relatively simply just by chipping away at it. 

It's my mum and step-dad's last night here tonight, so I'll have to plan a vegetarian feast to bid them farewell. They seem to have had a nice, relaxing week here - mum's certainly got her money's worth out of the pavilion - every day she'd sit by the pool, magazine in hand, coffee by her side. I agree that it's going to be a lovely spot for morning coffee with a warm winter sun streaming in. We've completed a few jobs with their help, and my step-dad's offered to help Matt with paving, gravelling and draining around the side of the house {one huge job left to do}. Perfect drainage is obviously essential now we get such downpours for days on end in this neck of the woods.

Easter Sunday will of course, start with an easter egg hunt - hopefully it won't rain so the eggs won't get soggy! And hopefully my daughter will sleep in a little so the easter bunny won't have to get up toooooo early...

Mum's invited my aunt and uncle here for afternoon tea, so I'll be making Nigella's scones and some rosebud madelines to tickle tastebuds. Mmmmmm.

i heart marc

Bless, it's a pair of wedges with a heart cutout - cuteness! The touch of whimsy this adds to these shoes makes me just want to smoosh Marc Jacobs, my lips always turn up at the corners upon spying his creations.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

oh coco

It's impossible not to adore Audrey Tatou - so the thought of her in Coco Avant Chanel has given me chills. The film's released this month in France and is on my must-view list. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long for it to hit the screens in Aus.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

well dressed

I'm seasonally cleaning today. My mum and step-dad are up from Melbourne, so I've roped them into helping me do stuff that I'd prefer not to do on my own. We're halfway through washing all the crockery on my kitchen dresser, and, um, there's a lot of it. A 12 piece service, with many plates, serving bowls and dishes, platters, tea service... now it's all sparkly and clean. 

Next step is to remove all the vases, ramekins, bowls etc on the shelving above the stove... it's pretty scary up there, so I'm steeling myself. Wish me luck...

Monday, April 06, 2009

musical score

Don't you think that everything goes better with music? Shopping centres know this; that's why every time I go to Coles, I find myself humming, and often singing and dancing down the aisles to tunes that hold a special place in my past. Depeche Mode, Abba, Village People - either the person who programs the music in my local store is from my generation - or knows that I'm the core demographic and plays music accordingly. I cleaned the kitchen cupboards the other day to a stirring rendition of Elton John and Kiki D's Don't go breaking my heart, and it certainly made a drudge-ridden task flow more smoothly. It's also why you see so many people out running with iPods. 

However, my daily walk is one time when I don't need a soundtrack. Every step I take is my meditation. I walk, I breathe, I peek into peoples gardens and windows {hello, voyeurism - but only at their decorating style - I don't want to see actual people!}

I'm now feeling the urge for a big iTunes splurge. There's a few tunes that have been rattling round my head that would be much better served on my iPod. After all, I've got one final burst of painting to undertake - that needs some serious accompaniment from either some New Romantics, or 90s grunge!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

colour coding

Isn't this a pretty idea. This vignette, in a farmhouse featured on exemplifies spring. A collection of simple bottles, that rejoice in their colours and shapes celebrate that glorious spring bloom - the daffodil. Of course it's autumn here in Aus, but still, couldn't you just imagine a bloom for every season?

Friday, April 03, 2009

zen and the art of home maintenence

I've blogged before about my loathing of certain tasks: unloading the dishwasher, packing away clean clothes... etc. But reading Buddhism for Mothers has given me an idea. When your life's busy, taking the time to do these tasks mindfully can be a great way to meditate. I've never been one to meditate - never been able to shut off my mind long enough to sit. Plus, I feel a strong urge to multi-task - if I'm sitting, I might as well be reading, and if I'm reading, I might as well be drinking a cup of tea, then I might as well think about what colour I should paint my nails...

No more. Now, I'm going to just focus on the task and be. I'm not going to be cross or cranky about it, or begrudge doing it - I'm just going to do it. I do that now with food preparation - I adore chopping, slicing, dicing, sauteeing, so why not do it with other tasks? It's just a matter of finding a method you enjoy - and doing it often enough till it becomes a habit. So I'm going to try doing things in reverse. I'll try taking the washing basket into my daughter's room and unloading her folded laundry directly into her wardrobe and drawers, before heading into our room. With the dishwasher, I'll start at the bottom shelf and unpack my way to the top. Hopefully this'll confuse my brain into setting into a new habit with glee - where I can just breathe and get on with it.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

strap me in

Today's shoe of the week had to be Manolo's. My hubby's been designing wardrobes for our bedroom and showed me his plans for my 'shoe wall' and, oh my. Seriously, a wall of shoes? 

If I had some of these gorgeous critters, I'd make sure that each individual shoe pigeonhole was backlit and with a teeny glass door to keep the dust off my pretties. 

Until then, a gal can dream...

meaty moments

Well, I seem to be over my crappy cooking phase. Phew. So allow me to share with you the delicious meal with shared with friends on Saturday night. I'd bought a standing rib roast, divided into two - with two ribs in each piece. After lunch on saturday I stabbed these all over by plunging a knife into the meat and then stuffed them with slices of this gorgeous purple garlic. I popped them into the cooking trays, grated lemon zest over the top, strewed them with thyme sprigs and drizzled over some olive oil. After massaging all this in, I poured some red wine over the top and popped them in the fridge.

The night before I caramelised some finely diced french shallots, added thyme and a cup of red wine which I simmered for an hour so it was rich and reduced. I then popped that in a jar and kept it in the fridge.

An hour before I started cooking I removed the meat from the fridge to bring it to room temperature and started warming up the bbq with all burners on high. When it was time to cook, I turned off the middle two burners, brought the meat out and seared it till it was brown on all exposed sides before popping it back in the aluminium trays and placing them in the middle racks. Then I pulled down the hood, and settled back to drink more champagne. In an hour they were roasted to rare perfection {I had my trusty meat thermometer to ensure that they were} and I pulled them out onto a plate to rest. Then, in the trays with the juices, I added the red wine and shallots that I prepared earlier, deglazed and reduced for around 15 minutes.

All this was served with cubes of potato cooked in duck fat {also on the bbq} and a green salad with walnuts. The meat was then sliced into a huge Fred Flintstone cutlet each, the red wine jus drizzled over top and we all enjoyed it immensely.

After this? A chocolate tart and caramelised pistachios with vanilla icecream {I couldn't find any creme fraiche anywhere on Saturday!}. Yum.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

dirty girl

How could you not want to seriously immerse yourself in household chores with products as beautiful as these? I do so adore Cath Kidston's eye for design, wandering into her store in Wimbledon my delighted peepers didn't know where to alight. 

Products as pretty as these wouldn't be stashed under the sink - they'd be left proudly on display - and I'd have no excuse for dirty dishes or stains on my clothes - now would I?

Oh, and with my in-laws on holiday in the UK... surely they could sneak me home that teensy bar of stain removing soap... Must go on-line and check out what's available and write up my begging list,


Sorry for the lack of posts today. A v bad headache's kept me away from the computer screen {but not the tv screen so I now have a new love for Ellen and Halle Berry!}

Back tomorrow with, hopefully, a clear head.