Friday, October 30, 2009

mini ha ha

We're off to a school trivia night tonight, amazingly, my first-ever trivia experience. I'm beside myself, as I have a head full of trivia that I'm dying to share. But, you watch, tonight, I'll know nothing... Will still have fun though!

For our table of ten I'm taking some nibblies to share. Red wine and crispy pancetta risotto balls {make risotto in the usual manner, then pop them in mini muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes or so till the tops are crispy} and mini steak sarnies {with caramelised red onions, garlic mayo and a sirloin sliced into rounds and served on sourdough baguette}.


puppy love

I've always been a cat person. I don't know if it's because my starsign's Leo, or if it's just something that happened, but dogs and me, well, we never really got each other.

However, the other day I was out shopping and saw my neighbour {who lives in the street behind me} on crutches. I quickly asked what happened and she'd been competing in the masters and was in the first kilometre of a 5k run when her tendon in her foot snapped. Now, me? I'd be on the ground sooking, she? Kept running and won the race and the title. She's a legend. Now her foot's been operated on, but she can't walk her dog.

He's a beautiful big, black beast. Huge, but so gentle. So I've offered to take him for a walk. You know, gets me out of the house. I took him on Wednesday, but yesterday things got frantic, husband delayed at work, child with bucketloads of homework... So I called and asked if I could walk him this morning instead.

I turned up this morning and he almost wagged his tail off in excitement, then turned, ran back and grabbed his leash in his mouth running back to me almost turning his body inside out with figure eights of delight. I snapped the lead on and took him off and just felt his joy emanating from every pore.

Now I'm in love. Luckily I've got a few more weeks to spend with this bundle of black joy. Now I understand the dog thing. I get it, cos he's got me.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

foot fetish

As I'm completely obsessed with the Halloween party I'm attending on Saturday night {costume, food, drink, cosmetics...} I thought these shoes would just be smashing - should Medusa wear Valentino.

I think I'll go with green fingernails {a really pretty Chanel shade} and black toenails - and go barefoot for a real Medusa experience.

If I were wearing these for reals though, I do believe that a bright pink toenail should peep out. You?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

shades of grey

Why is it that I find grey skies so romantic in Paris, I adore the shade of grey painted on almost any surface {including the exterior of my home} and yet give me grey skies in Merewether and I fall into a funk? I get myself some serious SADs when the weather's grey. I can't work properly, the house seems to fall into a slovenly state... Grrrrrrr.

I should be cheered as I just went to Spotlight and couldn't find any rubber snakes, so bought some black and some sparkly silver pipecleaners instead. I also bought some red felt to make forked tongues and red sequins for snake eyes. I've also decided on my make-up - lots and lots of green and long black lashes. As for clothes, I've ditched the idea of a toga-esque costume - too precarious. Instead, I'm going with a long black skirt that's covered in a lacy kinda detail that could conceivably look like snake scales-ish. Now, I just need one of those gold snake armbands to wind up my arm, then I'm set.

I'm going to make myself a damn fine cup of coffee, tidy my desk and then get stuck into all the work I've got due. Oh, and I'm going to make myself smile - that always takes me to a happy place.

party planning

I have a tendency to get a wee bit overexcited at the thought of events. I remember when I was growing up I was so peeved that we didn't have Halloween in Australia - seriously, what a cool idea. Now, oh yes now, Australia's cottoning on.

Stores are filled with costumes, creepy lollies {such as squishy eyeballs, and body parts!} and decorations litter the aisles of Coles.

I've yet to properly sort my costume. I had a dream the other night that I was getting ready for the party and had forgotten to buy the snakes to weave through my hair - and without the snakes, well, Medusa's just, me...

So I guess I'd best head off to Spotlight today to stock up on snakes, or at least buy some pairs of black pantihose and red sequins for eyes...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

so eye see

I was just reading an hilarious post here and have finally decided to get my eyes tested. I've always had perfect vision, if anything, I'm longsighted {perfect for spotting street signs miles away - I was the original GPS}. But now, with the computer-induced headaches and eyestrain, combined with the fact that I'm holding my books progressively further from me {pretty soon I'll be propping them up at the foot of my bed}, well, it's time to get my eyes tested.

I think that secretly I've been waiting for eyewear fashion to change. Those thin glasses that've been in style for a while now look fabbo - on everyone but me. See, tiny thin glasses make round faces look even more moon-like. Not a good look.

I'll call for an appointment this week, and you watch, I'll find a divine pair of frames and sure enough, will walk out without a prescription...

Monday, October 26, 2009

wash day woes

It's still bucketing down rain today. As it was yesterday afternoon - after a threatening grey sky quelled my urge to wash all weekend.

But now I've got piles of washing. Washing to do that's overflowing in the basket, towels to wash piled by the back door, towels to put away still in the pavilion where they were dried, and clothes to put away teetering in the guest room.


The rain's forecast to stick around through tomorrow, so I guess I'll move the clothes line further back in the pavilion so the horizontal rain won't hit it and wash that pile of towels. While my daughter's doing her homework this afternoon I'll make a start on that pile of clothes, and when I trek up to the pavilion during a break in the rain, I'll grab that other pile of towels and put them away too.

As for the teetering piles of unwashed in the bedroom? I'll save them for sunny wednesday... I'm nothing if not an optimist...

monday's menu

For the first time, in what must be about a month, I've written up my weekly menu. I must have been out of practice, because it took me nearly 10 minutes - but it's done now, so here's what we'll be eating this week:
Monday: Meatloaf and veg {rainy and miserable today - I need comforting!}
Tuesday: St Tropez Chicken and salad
Wednesday: Steak and salad
Thursday: fish and salad
Friday: school trivia night - lots of yummy nibbles
Saturday: Halloween party so I'm taking red devil cupcakes and blood and guts trifle
Sunday: Roast dinner - lamb or pork - whatever tickles my fancy on Saturday.

Now I just need to shop. My migraine hangover's abated well enough so that I can drive. I'll call at the butcher before picking up my gal, buying the meat for tonight and chicken for tomorrow night so I can marinate it in a bottle of rosé, herbs and honey {mmmmmmmmmmmmmm} and then we'll dash to the fruit and veg shop up the road on the way home. Tonight I feel like Curly Kale - but I've yet to see that in Aus, so I'll have to satisfy myself with a big lump of steamed garlic spinach, green beans and almonds and, of course, mashed potato {I'll bake the potatoes and scoop out their mushy insides}.

What's on your table this week?

sleepy head

I dragged myself out of bed at 11.30 this morning. No, not a bad case of mondayitis - just a migraine. Sigh.

Thankfully I'm feeling much better now - just woozy and with the typical 'migraine hangover' - you know, cos the migraine itself isn't bad enough...

That's not my Laura Ashley bedroom in the pic - beautiful though isn't it? I think I need to find some wall space for that dove grey wallpaper. Surely I've got a little space to fill somewhere.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

all the fun of the fair

We're off to the fete at my daughter's school today. I'm not wearing a pair of slinky black pants a la Sandy {where did she fit her internal organs?} but I have made my black cat cookies.

I'm just waiting for the last batch of icing to set then we'll wander down and spend some cash.

Love a fair.

Friday, October 23, 2009

moody blues

I'm pretty sure that it would be impossible to be unhappy if you had this room to walk into every day. How seriously sumptuous is it?

I feel that way at the moment when I walk into my front garden. Roses are blooming all over the place, the grass is verdant green, trees are covered with leaves, and other plants are bursting into bloom.

Glorious stuff.

I also got stuck in and cleaned my study yesterday, which, embarrassingly, took very little time. I grabbed a box for recycling and threw most of the stuff in there, made other one-sided paper into a nifty little notepad, unpacked the piles of mail I had waiting, and tidied mags onto shelves. Now the room's looking far more workable - and I've got heaps more done.

There's still plenty to do around the house, but by making two rooms habitable {study and kitchen} it's all much more attainable. It's kind of like breaking weight loss into easily achievable goals - rather than looking at the scary big picture!

It's a gorgeous day today, and soon I'm going out with the girls for a quick dip. The water temperature is a balmy 26 degrees, so I'm going to get my swim on.

Happy days.

on a roll

So, it's the pupil-free day and I have two gals just begging to be entertained. How to do it? Why baking of course. There's a fair at the school on Sunday so I'll get them gals busy baking sugar cookies. We bought a cute black cat cookie cutter on hols so think we'll make kitties with sugar cookie dough and ice them with black icing {yep, I do have every colour in the food colouring range in my pantry...}

We've delved into Nigella and found a recipe that makes 50 - 60 cookies. Perfect.

I believe that a spot of baking, followed by a swim, followed by a bit of telly and chatting will make for happy girls - and will hopefully allow me to finish off all my work.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

school daze

I have a child who just loooooooooves school. When she's sick she'll insist that she's just fine and can make it through the day. School holidays {despite how many fun activities I plan} are the bane of her life. On the last day of school she'll stomp out the gate wearing both her cranky pants and her angry eyes.

So of course she was delighted this week to return to school. Beside herself with joy - until the note came home yesterday reminding us of the Pupil-Free-Day tomorrow.

Uh oh.

Luckily I'd organised a whole-day playdate AND sleepover with her bestie, which I thought would cure her ills. We'd take in a movie, maybe go ten-pin bowling, hopefully it'd be hot enough for them to swim...

So last night, as I'm putting her to bed, Miss-nearly-10 grumps, "Why does it have to be a pupil-free day tomorrow?" and I responded, "Oh well, at least you get to spend the day with Hollie..." to which she harrumped, "I wouldn't care if I got to spend the day with Santa Claus!"


Nothing's better than school for my gal.

round and round

Every time I enter a room in my house at the moment I shake my head. Crap is just breeding! There are teetering piles of magazines in every room, piles of paper, washing that's screaming to be cleaned, or packed away, washing up to be tended to, odd things that have no home that just seem to accumulate...


Too much stuff, not enough storage space.

There's a fair at my daughter's school on the weekend and I'm seriously tempted to just grab everything that's not properly housed, fling it in a box and donate it.

Instead, I'm going to take an hour off work and get at least two rooms in shape - my study and the kitchen will do for starters.

Man, I need a cleaner. Stat.

Oh, and ps: this is not my living room. If this were my living room I'd feel duty-bound to keep it looking pristine at all hours. However, doncha think this colour pink would be ideal for my study? I'm sure I'd work better if my walls were such a pretty pink.

sweet next-to-nothings

I'm in need of new undergarments - but lordy, do I loathe shopping for the buggers. First of all, I could probably do with a fitting as I haven't had one since I stopped breastfeeding {and my daughter's now nearly 10...}.

If only I had the means, I'd stroll into La Perla and spirit everything into a changeroom. Don't you think that anything you wore over this bra would look sensational?

shoe of the week

I am dying, just dying, to see that new film about Valentino. In the meantime I'll content myself with a pair of his shoes - with the prettiest diamonte bows. Cuteness!

And these, with the Herve dress? Oh me oh my.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

frock treatment

If I were ever going to spend an obscenity on a fashion item, it'd be one of these. If you could have a little black dress that makes you look as va-va-voom as a Herve Leger, well, what more would you need? Seriously, I'd carry my purse around in a coles green shopping bag if it meant I could afford one of these perfectly engineered beauties.

I was watching my new obsession the other night, The Real Housewives of New York, and Brittany totally rocked a Herve. With her bod she could probably also rock a Glad Garbage Bag - but still, you get my point. A Herve is now my current fashion covet. And with the US dollar being almost equal to the Aussie...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

something kinda wonderful

While my hallway is nowhere near as grand and wide as this one, this is the inspiration for painting the walls a rich colour below the chair rail. Colourwise we could go with a rich french grey {darker than our pale grey exterior weatherboards} or a pale lilac {to tie in with the mother's violets shade on parts of the exterior} or a pale tiffany blue {to tie in with my love off all things tiffany and make me feel like my home is a little pressie...}

Decisions, decisions...

fresh start

One of the best things about our holiday {aside from the relaxation - which, I kid you not, is still happening!} is that we've returned all inspired to prettify our home.

The Southern Highlands is filled with gorgeous homes and gardens and have inspired us to reach even greater heights. So much so that the night we returned, my husband started sanding and sugarsoaping the hall before heading off to Bunnings yesterday and coating the walls with two coats of paint!

Our hall was always an oversight - but such an important part of the home. It was painted in a dirty yellow collour - not sunny, happy yellow, just blah yellow and didn't work with any of the rooms leading off it. Now it's a glorious shade of antique white and looks v fresh and inviting.

We're now trying to work out if we'd like to paint the wall below the chair rails in a shade of french grey - and what colour to paint the rear of the door. I'm pumping for either gloss black or pink, while hubby's keen on grey. We'll see. We've got the leadlight in the front door to consider - pink and green roses - naturellement!

I'll post some pics later on.

Monday, October 19, 2009

picture perfect

This is the sunroom of our holiday house - with what is the ultimate definition of a picture window - that view was better than any television programme! We adults spent the daylight hours melting into these comfy leather chairs - with coffee in the morning, and champagne in the afternoon. Bliss.

At night, after dinner, our resident pyromaniac would light the fire and we'd sit before it sipping wine and playing trivial pursuit {we've got a school trivia night coming up at the end of the month and are determined to kick butt!}.

The gals would happily bathe themselves, play and then put themselves to bed, only needing a tuck-in and a kiss goodnight.

It was an utterly memorable holiday filled with great champagne, wine, food and friends. I can't wait to do it all over again.


See this tree-lined drive? That leads to one of the best holiday homes around. Spring Hill Farm is the perfect base for a southern highlands sojourn. Great chef's kitchen, ideal rolling views, the perfect array of rooms, and a mere country-lane walk up the road to Burrawang pub. Every afternoon the dads would take the daughters up to the pub where the gals played checkers over raspberry lemonades and potato chips, while the dads chatted over an ale.

On the Thursday night we mums joined in for the pizza night - along with every other family in Burrawang! We munched on Pork Belly and Potato pizza {Beth, I thought of you with every mouthful!}, chorizo and caramelised onion pizza - and swilled it down with a glass of the local Sauvignon Blanc.

Too damned good.

perfect plonk

See this? This is a perfect piece of France plonked in the Southern Highlands. It's Mount Ashby vineyard home of not only a spectacular range of wine {really, really yummy!} but also the most french-style lunch you're likely to find in Aus.

Two very happy gals had a beef bourguignon pie each - washed down with lashings of baguettes. While four happy grown-ups shared a bottle of Pinot Gris and a petit plat filled with cheese, pork rillettes {oh-my-word!}, cornichons and other french delights.

We walked off sated, and with more wine for our dinner and wine racks! The owner and other staff were superb, the french antique dotted decor was to-die-for - and all round, it was a rather spesh experience.

tasty treats

This is a pic of the most divine patisserie outside of Paris. It was located in Bowal and we went there almost every day for a fix. Our gal was addicted to their flaky croissants and chocolate macarons! I flirted with the most superb lemon tart, a chocolate mousse-filled eclair, a crispy, caramelised cannoli and also indulged in the odd macaron. Oh, and the baguettes? Perfect for serving with the ultimate cheeses from the Cheese Factory at Robertson {where they have EVERY cheese imaginable}.

See the cute lad busking with a set of bagpipes to the left of the image? Bless his tartan socks! That was just one of the many magical moments of our holiday.

Le sigh...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

and I'm back

Well, we're back home after THE most relaxing holiday ever. I'm soooo chilled, I'm positively frosty. We were lucky to go away with the perfect family to holiday with - and that put us all in the holiday spirit immediately. Combine that with a beautiful house in the most amazing location {pics and details to come this week: promise!}, gorgeous experiences, great shopping and mucho delish champagne, wine and food and you've got one very chilled out blogger...

I'm determined to hold onto this relaxed frame of mind and not allow stress to take hold of me again. I've unpacked mine and my daughter's bags, will fling on a load of washing later on, and will soon go to the supermarket to buy the makings for an easy, light meal {after eating confit duck three times this last week and consuming my bodyweight in champagne - light is essential!}

So, what's new? Am dying to immerse myself in blogs - but am saving that pleasure till tomorrow. Until then xx

Monday, October 12, 2009

a bientot

Well, apparently we're leaving in 45 minutes to head off on hols... I'm kinda ready. Bags are packed, lists are ticked {hey, how happy am I that I've got a couple of different 'holiday' lists on my harddrive? I just printed out the One Week Holiday list and everything I need is on there ready to tick off!}

I'll miss you while I'm gone - and imagine I'll be frantically scrambling for the computer when we come home on Sunday. Until then xx

Sunday, October 11, 2009

don't leave me this way...

I used to think that losing a 'friend' on facebook was the most frustrating thing. I'd spend ages working out who it was, considering 'why' they'd dumped me and just generally fretting till I just decided to get over it.

Then I started tweeting and realised that plenty of people follow you just so you'll follow them, and when you don't, they stop following you. Weird. So people dumping me on twitter? Don't care in the slightest.

Now I've got a new one - followers who stop following my blog :(

What did I say, do, not say, not do...? Is it like Twitter and they've followed me and I've not followed them {I try, but if I've missed you just let me know and I'm happy to pop along}.

Now what happens when I'm away for a week?!?!?

Guess I'll just have to get over it and move onwards...

holiday, celebrate

Oh I am sooooooo ready for a holiday. I've done all but the final read-through and edit of my last two bits of work, the house is, well, okay {thanks mainly to my gal and her bestie who cleaned her bedroom - and our bedroom - magnificently mind, and without being asked!}.

My husband's off with our daughter searching for the ideal pair of school shoes. Ha! Our daughter has very, very, very narrow feet - which usually mean only the most expensive of shoes will do. And usually they're Mary Janes with velcro - because you can make them thinner. However, she's keen on a buckled Mary Jane this year - oh, how I've passed on my shoe fetish...

So I'm now off to tidy the kitchen, throw on another load of washing and get ready to start cooking the lapin au vin after lunch so it's ready to take with us for dinner tomorrow night. As for tonight's dinner... well, surely I've earned takeaway!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

number 901

Hey, guess what? I've posted over 900 posts! Surely I can reach 1000 by the end of the year - how's that for a goal?

Anyway, that's not what I'm here for - I'm here about the pie...

Yep, that there, on top of this post, is last night's extravaganza sitting in a pie dish coming to room temperature before I lovingly cover it with puff pastry and bake it in a stinking hot oven till it's golden.

Now, last night the meal was absolutely to die for, so, to be honest, I'm a bit scared as to how fan-freakin-tastic it's going to be tonight. I may well require resuscitation... It'll be worth it though - don't you think?

cor blimey charlie

I swear that I walk out of a clean and tidy room, enter two minutes later and it's a disaster! I've almost finished all the writing I need to do before I leave, but am now looking at the state of the house and feeling like tearing out my hair {that'd save on touching up the roots at least...}

We've got a housesitter coming in to look after the cat and water the plants while we're gone and before she arrives on Monday morning we need to tidy every single room, wash three sets of sheets, wash a huge load of dark clothing, give the bathroom a spit and polish and sweep all the dirt and stuff that's blown into the pavilion with all this wind!

Hubby's out giving the 1920s french wire furniture on the front veranda a coat of paint at the moment {so they're ready for my cream and pale blue toile cushions - can't wait to post the end result for you!}, our gal's just been reunited with her bestie who's been away for a week, and I'm here blogging about all I've got to do.

Think we'll have lunch and I'll get stuck into the kitchen, wash the dark clothes, the move my way through the house from back to front.

Do you think a pretty frilly apron will help get me in the mood?

so damned delicious

Okay, here's the most amazing dish you'll ever eat - promise. We've got stacks leftover so tonight I'm putting it in a pie dish, covering it with puff pastry, basting it with egg wash and sprinkling the top with pale pink salt flakes before baking till golden.

There are a lot of steps in this - but seriously, I beg of you, it's worth it.

Julia Child = genius

Boeuf Bourguignon
Servings: 6
Difficulty: Difficult
Cook Time: Over 120 min
This recipe is from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Alfred A. Knopf, 1961)
One 170g piece of chunk bacon 
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1.3kg lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
18 to 24 white onions, small
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
450g mushrooms, fresh and quartered
Cooking Directions
Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 2 cups water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 230 degrees celcius.
Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.
In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.
Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).
Remove casserole and turn oven down to 160 degrees.
Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.
Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.
Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.
Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.
Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.
Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.
Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.
Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.
When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.
Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.
Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.
Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.
Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

Friday, October 09, 2009

the ultimate meal?

Only a vegetarian could walk out of a screening of Julia and Julie without the most serious hankering for Boeuf Bourguignon. As you know, I'm no vegetarian, and I love rich, french meals.

I already have a fabulous recipe for the famous beef in red wine stew, but thought I'd try Julia's and although it's still an hour off, I think it's going to reward me. It's far more fiddly than my usual recipe, but that's what food cooked with love should be like. Taking the time to linger over each step {on a weekend preferably} means you develop a full appreciation for each ingredient.

I'm currently simmering eshalots in beef stock, flavoured with salt, pepper and a bouquet garni - after they've been browned and caramelised in butter and oil. After 50 minutes they'll be ready to add to my beef, bacon and red wine mix along with some sauteed mushrooms...

Sure, it'll take over four hours to cook - but it'll be a real mmmmmmmm-moment*. And considering that this week's been filled with mere, yeah, that'll fill the spot meals, I think we need one of those.

Oh, and in further cooking news, today I bought two rabbits from the butcher - chopped into eight pieces each and ready to make Lapin au Vin to take on our holiday. I believe it's going to be mighty chilly on our first night, so arriving with a le crueset full of casserole that only needs heating will be the nicest welcome.

* It was completely and utterly divine. The most delicious meal ever - I shall post the recipe tomorrow - and buy the book on the weekend!

frugal friday

Being frugal requires organisation - something I've had darned little of on the homefront lately. However, because of that I've made a few make-do meals that've stretched the dollar further. One night we had salami and mozzarella pizza with pantry and freezer basics. I always like to have some lebanese bread in the freezer for ready-made, speedy bases. We've also defrosted a 'who-knows-what-that-is' meal from the freezer and served it with pasta {it was lamb casserole apparently}.

Because we're off on hols on Monday I'm working out where to spend and where to splurge. I'm taking the le crueset for a few yummy slow-cooked meals, we're also packing up our coffee machine to set up in the kitchen when we arrive. I'll fill water bottles to take in the car - along with a couple of snacks. I'm also planning on cooking a meal tomorrow and freezing it - so I can pack it in the esky when we leave and we'll have a meal all ready to heat and eat on the first night - just add veg!

We've also got wine and champers we've bought from Dan Murphy's to take with us - so we don't have the last minute expensive bottle-shop run. However, we will be calling into a few vineyards in the southern highlands to buy at their cellar door - that's a must-do experience.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

they're creepy and they're kooky

You know what I love more than a party? Nothing. Actually, no, I love a THEME party more than just a regular party. Which is why I'm utterly beside myself at being invited to a kids' and parents' Halloween party by a hostess who loves parties as much as I do {possibly even more...}

I RSVPd within seconds of receiving the invite, have already gone shopping with my gal to buy her a cute Wizardess costume and a pumpkin to carry her 'treats' in - and have put in my request for the food I'd like to contribute.

For the grown-ups I'm making "Blood and Guts Trifle" {sure, some may know it as raspberry and nectarine trifle, but hey, it's meant to be spooky!} It'll be boozy and bloody terrific. For the kids my gal had a suggestion - red velvet cupcakes - but as red devils. I think I'll be fashioning some devil horns from raspberry licquorice...

Now, as for what I'll wear. Last year I took the easy option and wore a long black frock and a witch's hat - but this year I've got time to plan. So, because I'm starting with long-curly-black hair that's got to be my springboard. Wait for it, I'm going as Medusa. Yep, with some wire I'm going to make some curls stand out and somehow fit snake's heads to the ends.

I also saw some cocktails on Martha Stewart that had me giggling - Pina Ghoulada! If not, we'll be going with the Absinthe and Champagne cocktails - death in the afternoon {so aptly named}.

yes ma'am

We're off on a week's holiday on Monday, so I've got a lot of work to do before we leave to ensure it's a stress-free and relaxing trip. Hence, I'll need a lot of discipline to get it all done. Hence, these shoes! Mr Pucci's designed these for the woman with a servant who's happy to get down low and go, go, go with all those buckles. I must say, you know those nights that you come in late and can't be bothered removing your make-up? Well imagine the damage these 4.5 inch heels could cause the Egyptian cotton sheets...

Oh well, a gal can dream. Over on net-a-porter they've teamed these with a bandage dress for the ultimate in va-va-VOOM. I love the detailing on the toes - peer in and check it out - it's pretty darned spesh!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

green with it

I should be jealous of Rachel Zoe's bank account, unlimited access to couture, vintage wardrobe, front row fashion week seats, darling hubby... but no, my searing envy limits itself to one aspect.


I heart him.

my new obsession

I loved this movie. Loved, loved, loved, loved it. I laughed out loud - plenty of times - and I'm not a loud laugher... I also had tears in my eyes. Fell in love with my husband all over again after this beautiful, beautiful depiction of a fabulous marriage and am inspired to cook up a month of French feasts.

I went with two great gal pals, and seriously, if one of them had said, "Do you want to see it again?" I would have walked straight back into the cinema.

Meryl is brilliant. How anyone could not fall in love with her characterisation of the amazing Julia Child is beyond me. My new mantra is "What Would Julia Do?" I believe that the phrase Joie de Vivre was invented for her. And Stanley Tucci? Oh, I'm in love...

Dinner tonight is Julia's Boef Bourginon, my dear friend found the recipe on-line after being inspired last night. Apparently the secret is to dry the beef before you throw it in the butter so it browns. Julia says.

Please go and see this film if you
a: love food
b: love romance
c: love France
Or, like me, all of the above...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

moving pictures

I love going to the movies, love it. Surprisingly, however, I rarely manage to see a film on the big screen - or the small half the time. Tonight though, I'm off with a couple of gal pals to a Girl's Night Out fundraising screening of Julie & Julia. Woo hoo,

French food, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams. Parfait!

Monday, October 05, 2009

green fingers

Whew, what a weekend. Hubby and I went to Sydney to do lotsa test drives of new cars - fell in love with a few, out of love with others. We've now narrowed it down to Top 2 - and fallback car. Basically if we get offered a deal we can't refuse we'll buy one of the Top 2 - if not, we'll happily go with the cheaper fallback car.

This morning we went to the nursery on the way back from our inlaws and bought lots of pretties to fill in the gaps in the cottage garden. This pretty pink fleur is a pincushion or scabiosa and it's just divine. We've also bought some gorgeous blue delphiniums, marguerite daisies, pink cleomes and a few other odds and sods. My Mr is now out weeding, pruning and preparing to plant, while I'm working away - one story sent off, another to finish.

Our gal refused to leave her grandparents' today so we've left her to play for a few days - something she loves to do in the holidays. That'll free me up to work, so I can spend some time with her later in the week. Next week we're off down south with friends for a six-day holiday. Bliss.

I'm now starting on my thousand loads of washing - it's been days since I've done a load so it's been piling up. Where does it all come from and how do large families cope?

Hope you've enjoyed your weekend and are starting on a fabulous week.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

the spiel deal

Now, we've only been out car shopping twice so far, and here's my advice for the 'sales'men out there {yet to spot a salesgal yet...}

• Don't let me see you squatting between cars having a quick ciggie. Gross.

• Don't excuse yourself and come back with another 'sales'man saying "I've just got to see a customer, I'll leave you with..." Um, last time I checked I was a customer.

• Don't start talking torque with my husband and only making eye-contact with me when you're discussing seat trims and parking sensors. Sure, I don't particularly care about the engine's capacity, but let's pretend shall we?

• When I ask a question either give me an honest answer or ask someone else. Don't say, "Oh, I don't think so" when I ask something, and then, when I press you to find out for sure say "No, we're not getting that model in." You know what buddy, there's an internet out there and I ain't afraid to use it. You don't have it, the dealership down the road will.

ooh fluffy

Should I have a black-tie do to attend, and an unlimited budget, this frock by Oscar de la Renta would be sliding its way onto my bod.

Seriously, feathers, on a skirt - does it get any more fabulous? Oh, maybe with Drew's red metalic shoes from yesterday...

It's the weekend, a long weekend, and we've woken to rain. Lots and lots of rain which has very kindly washed away any lingering red dust on the garden, our cars and our pale grey house with its white-ish roof - it needed a clean.

Tomorrow we're trekking down to Sydney to test drive a few cars. I, of course, have already fallen in love with the first car I drove - typical - I'm so easy. Luckily my husband is far more hard-headed and won't be seduced by a fancy new interior and shiny, shiny surface.

Enjoy your weekend my lovelies x

Friday, October 02, 2009

ruby red slippers

Just when I am positive that my love for Drew is at a peak - she goes out in these shoes and I'm besotted all over again.

Oh, and that neckline? Fabulous.

Drew's on my can-do-no-wrong list. No matter what she does {even that odd two-toned bob she came out with last week} I shall always hold her way up high in my adoration zone.

frugal friday: a triumphant return

Today's post is all about living within your means. It seems like a logical thing, but when you look about, you realise how few people actually do. We're in the market for a new car. A NEW car. At the age of 42 it'll be the first time I've ever bought a new car. But the 18-year-old down the road from me? Her first car was a new car... My first car was a 1974 Toyota Corolla.

I was watching Tabatha's Salon Takeover the other night {my new addiction}. She went in to help a struggling business and was amazed that the owner, who had so much debt, had an enormous house, a fridge-full of Kristal, a corvette and a wardrobe filled with $400 shirts and dozens of pairs of jeans.

When we were looking to buy our first place I was amazed at how much the bank's would offer us - a scary sum. But we sat down, worked out what repayment level we could afford on one income {for when I had a baby} and what we could afford if the rates ever climbed to the record high of 18 per cent... So instead of buying the house in Bronte we could afford, we bought a one-bedroom apartment with a sun-room {which had a bay window just the right size for a cot}.

Moving back to Newcastle meant we could afford more, but again we did the sums and kept it within a reasonable level.

You've got to stay within your comfort zone. No matter how much I earn I can't imagine there's anything I'd be prepared to pay full price for - either I buy it on sale, or I haggle a better price. Funnily I used to feel as though that was a 'poor person's' tactic - but it's not - the wealthiest people around will never pay full price. Friends of ours who are much, much better off than us are the perfect example. The husband never pays retail and even ended up taking a month's holiday to paint their enormous house himself because it would cost him less than paying a painter. I won't go that far, but we do paint the handrails on our verandas ourself because it's such a labour-intensive task that'd cost a fortune if anyone else were to do it.

Now as for the car, I've learned a few tricks.
1. Haggle: get all the extras thrown in for nix.
2. Buy on the last day of the month. Dealers have quotas that they must reach. If they're meant to sell 35 cars and have only sold 30 they'll do anything to sell another - even if it's at cost-price.
3. Play dealers off against each other, "Hmmm, it's nice, but I really preferred the silver one we saw down the road..."
4. Walk away if you don't get what you want - you'll find it down the road.

Wish me luck. I know it's the start of the month, but we're just starting to look and test-drive. At the end of the month we'll be looking seriously attractive to the dealers who should be knocking themselves out to sell us a car at a bargain price.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

shades of grey

I am becoming inordinately fond of the colour grey. And, oh my, this La Perla swimsuit positively shrieks chic does it not? Lying poolside in the south of France would require a swimsuit as glam as the location. Hmmmmmm.

nude's not rude

I fell a little in love with these, even though the colour would look rather odd on my skintone. That's the thing with olive skin - it rarely goes with anything considered flesh-toned or nude.

However, I'm all over the curvalicious shape of these shoes, and the stacked bow - now if they came in pink patent... ooohh la la!