Friday, December 31, 2010

happy new year

No matter what you're doing this evening, I hope you have a lovely new year. Can't wait to catch up with everyone in the new year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

birthday brownies

Rich, gooey, chocolately. Nothing says "Birthday" louder than a pile of brownies.

birthday gal

It's our gorgeous gal's 11th birthday today. For 11 years we've been blessed with the most beautiful child who has the sweetest nature to match her gorgeous face. She's full of cuddles and giggles and fills our hearts with joy every single day.

She's a loving friend, an adoring cousin and niece and a much-loved grandaughter who smothers her grandparents with love in return. She adores her family and has made some truly special friends over the years who'll remain with her for life.

She's an extraordinary dancer, a great cook, a fabulous netball player and a devoted reader. She's a fashion diva with an eye for style - and a love of a good frock. She loves fairies, mermaids and all things magical. She's got her head in the stars - and her eye on the moon thanks to her new telescope.

This is such a special day. Eleven years ago we rose at dawn and went down to watch the sunrise at Bronte Beach knowing that later that day we'd be meeting our gal (eight days overdue - so an induction was called for). At 6.43pm, that evening we finally laid eyes on our beautiful girl. I fell deeply in love with her and love her more and more with every passing second.

She's a blessing, one that we're forever thankful for.

Happy birthday poodle - we love you to bits and pieces xxx

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

nothin' like a dame

The doyenne of pink has a few wise words on how to enjoy the New Year festivities - and they still ring true. Pop over here and have a read.

what's cooking wednesday

Can you believe that this is the kitchen in the apartment we didn't rent in Paris? I know, it's spectacularly gorgeous, and I'm totally copying it in my home one day {ps: this apartment had black and white striped bedroom walls and the most incredibly gorgeous white, wingbacked, buttoned, leather headboard over the bed - to die! - but I love the apartment we're renting more. After all, who cooks in Paris?}

Anywho - this week. What's cooking.
Tonight: simple lamb steaks, couscous and a carrot salad. Why carrots? Because I have a huge bag of them in the crisper...
Tomorrow: it's my gal's 11th birthday! Hurrah!! To celebrate we're following tradition and heading out to our fave French restaurant - Bistro Tartine. Hmmm, pork belly, duck confit or steak? Decisions, decisions...
Friday: um, that'll be new years eve. A quiet one for us. Nibbles and champagne by the pool followed by fireworks on telly. Bliss.
Saturday: let's start the new year with a healthy mango, poached chicken and avocado salad shall we?
Sunday: no farmer's markets {sob}. I think I'll do a standing rib roast on the bbq with a few salads on the side - one roasted vegie, one wilted greens and lemon zest.
Monday: caramelised pork, sushi rice and wilted greens
Tuesday: something from Nigella's Kitchen - a present Santa very kindly bought my gal. Bless.

parisian chic

When you're staying in Paris, you might as well make it as amazing experience as possible don't you think? That's why we went all out and decided to splurge on a two bedroom apartment. See this pretty in pink room in the last two shots? That'll be our gal's room. And see that view down onto Rue Saint Honore? Yep, that's from our living room. And I'm still pinching myself that we'll be in Paris on Bastille Day. Fireworks AND the Eiffel Tower? Oh, I'm dying...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

clutter busting

Ooooh, we're doing some rather wonderful de-cluttering here at the moment. It started accidentally, on Christmas Eve when we couldn't find our gal's Santa sack. It just had to be in the linen closet - so I ended up throwing out every single towel and sheet in an attempt to find it {before remembering that I'd put it on my wardrobe so I wouldn't have this problem this year. Whoops}. But at least that left bare shelves that I could wipe down with lavender oil, and refold all the towels and sheets that got into a tangle. I ended up rewashing all the sheets, and now they're all organised and Martha-esque in categories of single, queen and blanket. Beautiful.

My husband's also ploughing through rooms while I work and we've been giving loads away on Freecycle. Our old trampoline went before Christmas to a family with five kids. Our exercise bike is being collected today by a man who's recovering from cancer and wants to get fitter - and our old coat rack is going to a girl who's chuffed as she's been searching for yonks.

Gotta love a clean-out!

Monday, December 27, 2010

feeling festive, then flop

Oh, this is that odd time of year isn't it? Surely you should still feel all festive, you know, gearing up to new years and all. Instead, it's kind of like some limbo-land. Certain businesses and cafes close, people are in holiday-mode, while others {such as myself} are still working.

Thank goodness I'm working from home. A few years back, when I still caught the train down to the big smoke two-days-a-week, I went to work on Boxing Day {ah journalism - two guaranteed days off a year, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day}. So I get off the train and realise that virtually every cafe in Surry Hills has closed over the break - eep. No coffee, and no food! Thank goodness a trek around the suburb revealed something open.

Well it's rainy here today, and a little bit gloomy. My husband has this week off so he's on gal-entertaining duty while I work.

Now, finally, onto these shoes. Should I have a glamorous New Years bash to attend these would be just the shoes to do it in. Instead, this year I think it's just me, hubby and the gal - and some french bubbles while we watch the fireworks on telly. Bliss.


Friday, December 24, 2010

merry christmas

I won't be posting for a few days so I just wanted to wish you all the merriest of Christmases and a rather fabulous new year. xxx

Thursday, December 23, 2010

christmas is the time to...

We're nearly there! Only two more sleeps!! How's your festive season treating you? Mine's treating me to a wee bit of a hangover this morning after a few too many champagnes last night, "t'is the season..." And apparently I decided to sleep by tying myself in knots - or at least that's how I feel this morning. But a good night was had by all, and a few more good nights were arranged. Got to be happy with that.

So I'm going to be diving into my work this morning - no point trying to shirk it. I've got a few more essentials to tick off the to-do list before shutting down for Christmas.

Enjoy your day x

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

what's cooking wednesday

Obviously not a great deal is cooking this week as it's nearly Christmas {squeee!} . However, this year I'm determined to be organised and ensure we actually have food in the house for Boxing Day {I always forget, and as we have Christmas lunch and dinner at my in-laws we have no leftovers}. I imagine there'll be plenty of liquid refreshments on offer, so here's what I'll be whipping up.

Wednesday: we're off to a friend's house for a Christmas celebration - just the mums and kids while the dads do dinner together. It's going to be really simple - we're ordering in pizza. However, I am bringing a pudding - so I might just do a special christmas ice cream mix... And champagne, natch.
Thursday: it's the Twilight Farmer's Market so we'll be eating there {gozleme probably - we're all addicted} and I'll be buying some saltbush lamb and Burrawang's Spring Hill Beef for meals later in the week.
Friday: Christmas Eve! We're off to a Carols in the Park event down at the beach. So a picnic's in order. Then we're off to my in-law's for supper. I'm taking Turkey meatballs with a mint and cranberry dipping sauce this year. Mmm.
Saturday: Christmas Day - hurray!
Boxing Day: Salad and whatever meat I've picked up at the market.
Monday: Meat from the market again, and more salad.
Tuesday: BBQ I think - let's hope the weather thinks so too.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

oh! christmas!

Excuse me, but have you ever seen a more divine Christmas setting?

I'm dying here. Dying.

Monday, December 20, 2010

a good drying day

Well the weather mightn't be what we'd expect for this time of year, but today was what is known in the trade as "A Good Drying Day". Bright blue sky, a little warmth - and winds - lots of wind.

A good drying day makes me happy. I love hanging out clothes and towels knowing they're going to be lovingly dried by the wind. Ideally I'd have done some sheets - but that wasn't to be. Is it too much to ask for another Good Drying Day tomorrow?

{and another thing I'd like to ask for is this laundry - prettiness!}

festive footsies

T'is the season for fabulous footwear non? I am seriously in love with these hot pink Miu Miu numbers as they'd be the perfect accompaniment for the lipstick red frock I'm planning on wearing on Christmas day. And then I spied these Diane Von Furstenburg pretties and just imagined them with a full-skirted little black dress - divine non? This is a colour I absolutely cannot wear - with my olive skin it makes me look dreadful, but on the feet, well, surely I could get away with that.

On the Christmas wish list perhaps? {which, by the way, is empty - there's nothing I want. Well, aside from piles of euros to spend in Paris during the July sales...}

Sunday, December 19, 2010

baby it's cold outside

I'm more than a little bit in love with this festive tune - and oh, these boys... So adorable... PS: that mantle, oh I'll be needing one of those one Christmas.

the inside story

Not having a camera at the moment means that I'm missing out on a lot of shots. The iPhone camera's great, but in low light it's lacking a flash. That meant I'd missed a focussed shot of the interior of the rainbow cake. Luckily there was a teeny, tiny sliver left and I snapped this for you. Yes, ideally it would be styled on a pretty cake plate with a teeny fork, but you'll forgive the rather rustic background of my well-worn chopping board won't you? After all, the colours are soooooo pretty!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

taste teste

Have you tried the Etsy Taste Test yet? I did and look what it decided I'd like. Yes, thank you Etsy I do like this very much indeed.

over the rainbow

If there's a birthday cake guaranteed to bring out the ooohs, the aaahs and the 'awesome' it's this. Our rainbow cake with white royal icing {and a hundreds and thousands 'rainbow' on top} was a smashing success. I found the recipe over at not quite nigella and I must send her a big thank you. It was a simple butter cake coloured with gel icing {very important - these are vivid colour yet don't affect the taste or texture of the batter}.

The cake topped off a wildly successful party. The girls had fun making rainbow bracelets with the different coloured strings I'd bought {beads, not so sucessful, some of the holes too teeny to thread}. Then there was a riotous game of Celebrity Heads {my husband's inclusion of the school principal was inspired - hilarious}. Then the food. The sushi platter I'd ordered in was swooped on. The honey chicken wings gobbled up, as were the pizza and the pesto pinwheels. The surprise love was the olive oil and balsamic dipping bowl I'd put out with the baguettes - obviously a lot of restaurant-savvy kids as it needed constant topping up.

Then there was a spot of dusk swimming, despite the weather. And some beautiful, thoughtful presents.

My kitchen may still need mopping of some multi-coloured icing messes, but it was ever-so-worth it. Now, bring on Christmas shall we?

Friday, December 17, 2010

flowers for friday

My hydrangea from last year is still kicking on. Still teensy, but it does have flower heads {these are from last year}. Hopefully a bit more love, water and sunshine and they'll take off.

It's my gal's birthday party today. The rainbow cake's made {and looks awesome!}, cupcakes are baked and all the shopping's done. All we have to do is cut up the salad stuff {vegies and fruit} and throw a few things in the oven at 5.30. Oh, and cross all our fingers and toes that the sun breaks through this grey old day. Pool parties could quite do with some sunshine - even some twilight ones!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

money matters

At this time of the year I tend to get a bit reflective when I have a spare moment. There's nothing like Christmas craziness to make you assess what's important. Last year, when I was frantic around Christmas I asked myself a question, "If I don't do this will anybody cry or die?" if the answer was no, then obviously it wasn't worth bothering myself over.

Lately I've been pondering money, and what's worth spending money on. Obviously I feel very strongly that holidays are the perfect thing to spend money on: you're broadening your horizons, experiencing something new and creating memories that'll last long after you've paid the bills. Our holiday next year in France and England is going to be worth every cent - and I'm determined to savour every second.

It's interesting to watch people and ponder their priorities. I never like to judge, we're all different and we all have differing things that make us happy. But sometimes you've got to wonder how many people really stop and think about what makes them happy. Truly happy.

Is it a high paying or high status job that means they have to spend hours and hours and hours working? And when they stop working how often do they immerse themself in something that makes them feel joyous? That money they're earning, are they spending it on something that makes them smile?

I'm working hard at the moment. Harder than I have in a long time. I'm doing something I've never really done before and it's a steep learning curve. But it's enjoyable. I'm creating something and feel like I'm achieving. I'm also making sure I still spend time doing things that matter. Today I took a break and went and swam some laps in the pool. I love our pool, and our backyard, every dollar we poured into it was worth it. I loved swimming those leisurely laps, and tomorrow I'll swim with my gal, watching her do handstands, racing her and then sitting by the side while she plays her imaginary mermaid games.

You can't put a price on those moments.

They're what make me happy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

nothing but the truth

what's cooking wednesday

Well, it's 5.45am and I'm just back from dropping my parents at the airport. What a lovely week's holiday we've had. Sure, I was working while they were here - but at least I got to have coffee and lunch breaks with them which I wouldn't have if I were working in an office. After a week of functions, picnics and outings it's time to get back into some form of reality. Here's what we'll eat this week:

tonight: chicken provencale with roasted vegies and green salad
Thursday: Husband's off to a cocktail party {as you do} and the gal and I shall be baking cupcakes and birthday cake. I think I'll do some salmon on the bbq.
Friday: The big birthday party - 5pm to 8pm. We'll be eating party food - but as there's sushi on the menu that's not a bad thing at all.
Saturday: Nothing planned - bliss. Easy dinner of lime and pepper chicken breasts on the bbq with a shredded vegie salad.
Sunday: I have a hankering for seven hour leg of lamb - so that is what I shall be cooking.
Monday: poached chicken, mango and avocado salad.
Tuesday: Let's try for fish on the bbq again - a white fish this time. And mango salsa {c'mon, it's mango season, best make the most of it...}
Then Wednesday my hubby's out with some boys - so we gals and the kidlets are catching up at a friends for dinner and bubbles and swimming. Noice.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

how many sleeps?

How are you going with the Christmas craziness? Today's our last day of school, and last night we had the school christmas concert {which was just adorable}. I think I'm all prepared for my gal's birthday party Friday night. I've ordered the Sushi platter, I'm going to buy in some honey soy chicken wings {Christmas is nothing if not a time to be realistic}, and we've bought the gift bags, complete with rainbow coloured nailpolishes. Thursday night will be cooking night when we'll bake the rainbow cake {yes, I'll post pics} and make the pesto and cheese and the pizza pinwheels.

Phew. So how goes it with you?

Monday, December 13, 2010

monday, hello?

Wow, now that's what I'd call a weekend. Our lunch for our friend's 30th was amazing. The venue was divine - and the food! We started off with zucchini flowers stuffed with a ricotta and heavenly truffle mixture, which were then encased in a seasoned tempura batter and served on a bed of wilted bitter greens. Divine. Then we had mahi mahi fillets, perfectly cooked, accompanied by rosemary and garlic roasted veg and an incredible 'coleslaw'. Mmmmm. The meal was finished off with a delicious pear and ricotta tart. Oh yes. Then we kicked on at a very fashionable Surry Hills pub, spied a few MasterChef alumni {Adam, bless, Callum, bless, and Matt, um, not so bless. Seriously, dude, sunglasses after dusk?}. We kicked on till close enough to midnight to satisfy and then wandered back to our hotel.

Next morning we found the most divine cafe housed in a gorgeous old weatherboard house - RoboCog - owned by the friendliest bike-loving, robot-loving guys you'll ever meet. We'd stopped in for a quick coffee on the Saturday afternoon and when we rocked in with our friends the waiter greeted us like long-lost friends and remembered out coffee order. Bless. I wanted to take him home...

Now, onto important things: these shoes. They're by Alexandre Birman and I think they'd make me mighty happy should they ever find their way onto my feet. Aren't they just the most glorious shade of smile-inducing tangerine?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

birthday celebrations

We're off to Sydney today to celebrate a friend's 30th {bless}. We're having lunch here: a place called Table For 20 in Surry Hills, then we'll go freshen up at our hotel before heading off for drinks at a pub to complete the night.

My new frock's ready to go. My hair's washed and will hopefully dry in a reasonable state {damn you frizz-inducing humidity!}. Can't wait to catch up over good food with good friends.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, December 10, 2010

well stocked

Oh, I'm so loving having my parents up at the moment. Mum's been cleaning and I have a sparkling clean bathroom for the first time in eons and floors that are mopped when they need it, not after me stepping over it saying, "Damn, I really need to mop that floor". We've also moved our newest bookshelf into the kitchen for the time being. And look, I've set it up with all the essentials {including the ingredients for a violette martini - vodka, cointreau and violette syrup!}.

Cookbooks need to be moved to lower shelves, but that can be done later. Oh, I am loving this sense of order. Do you think I can convince them to stay?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

my prima balllerina

My gal took to the stage of the Civic Theatre last night and the smile never left her face. She danced beautifully in this gorgeous theatre and we couldn't have been more proud of her. I also had a totally proud parent moment when two girls in her class received special trophys. When both were announced my gal grinned, applauded, and called over "Well done!" Bless. Just like Sienna from MasterChef Jr. Couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

frock on

So, you know how I hate shopping - but love an accidental buy? Well, how's this? Today's my daughter's ballet concert, so OF COURSE her jazz shoes decided to spontaneously combust in an extraordinary fashion and need replacing. On the day of the concert.

Well, we dashed into the new, cheaper ballet shop in town, bought a new pair of jazz shoes that may last her into early next year and as we were leaving I spied a gorgeous floral frock hanging in Tree of Life. C'mon, who can ignore a floral frock? So I grabbed it from the rack, and then spied another nearby - with POM POMS on the hem. Now, I do love me some haberdashery so I thought I'd best try it on too.

Do I love? OH I love. The perfect summer sundress with pink roses, cotton crochet work, pretty buttons, a full skirt, pom poms AND rik rak.

You know that party I'm going to on Saturday? Well, now I have a party frock. Colour me happy!

what's cooking wednesday

Okay, it's that time again. What we're eating this week. This time it's going to be a little different than usual. I called my doctor today to finally ask after the results of the ultrasound. As expected I have one enormous gallstone. Just the one. He told me to avoid tomatoes, cucumber and onions. ONIONS. People, how am I to cook without onions? And salad without cucumber and tomato - oh, you know I'm crappy with salads - this is going to really force me to spread my wings... Also, my mum and step-dad are with us for a week which means vegetarian meals are on the menu - and hopefully my step-dad will be doing a lot of that cooking!
Wednesday: it's the night of the ballet concert. Hurrah. It finishes at 8pm so we're all coming back here for dinner. Think I'll have a salad ready and pizzas ready to go into the oven.
Thursday: My last French class of the year - everyone can fend for themselves, I'll be nibbling on a wee spot of French goodies I'll imagine.
Friday: There's a Twilight gathering down the road - with latin dancing, and other festivities. Best have an early BBQ and go check it out.
Saturday: Hubby and I are off to Sydney for a friend's 30th. Bless. I think I'll send my parents and my gal out to the Red Lantern Twilight Markets.
Sunday: My gal's performing in a choir at a local church service. Hello picnic dinner.
Monday: Um, my gal's school Christmas Concert. Yep, picnic dinner again.
Tuesday: Parent's last night - some kind of vegetarian feast is called for.

Whew - busy much?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

wedding anniversary

It's our wedding anniversary today. Nine years married to such a lovely man. Seventeen and a half years after we met he still makes me smile and sigh.

Monday, December 06, 2010

school daze

One thing I'm ever-so-looking-forward-to is the end to all the teetering piles of school stuff around my house. The bag, the lunchboxes, drink bottles, 8000 pencil cases, pieces of paper... And having to keep track of said stuff. Oy.

But wouldn't these pretty railway shelves help? And a retro Cath Kidston backpack would make clutter seem cuter would it not? Once again - why do I not live in London?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

peony perfection

How could you not love a market that allows you to buy blood red peonies for $10 a bunch. I know - $10!!!! Last bunch I bought from the florist were {whisper} $25 - and not all the buggers opened. They were still worth it though - damn, I do love me a peony.

well heeled

These YSL wedges have taken to seriously rocking my world. These with an electric blue maxi dress would make sumer seem so much more sensational don't you think?

I've realised that next weekend we've got a friend's birthday do, his 30th mind, in a very swooshy Surry Hills venue. And do I have anything suitably swooshy and Surry Hills-esque? I think not. Eeeep. Surely something will leap out of my wardrobe for me before the day - won't it?

to market, to market

Markets have seriously taken off in Newcastle. There's the Farmer's Markets held nearly every Sunday which are our must-visit place, there's the Red Lantern Markets in Hunter Street Mall which we experienced last weekend {fabulous: glowing red lanterns strung from trees and stalls, rickshaw rides and plenty of amazingly crafted or interesting products}. Then, last night my gal and I hit the Olive Tree Twilight Markets while hubby played golf and caught up with friends.

We saw some gorgeous things, nibbled on salted caramel macarons {oh MY!} and finished off with some gozleme for dinner. Perfection. And they're so well-patronised it makes my heart sing. After spending far too much time in the soulless expanse of the local shopping centre {with stupid concrete paving that makes your back, knees and ankles ache if you shop for any period of time} it's nice to connect with the people who make what they love - and then sell it to those who also fall in love.


I'm doing a smidgen of work this morning, then we're off to the Farmer's Markets to stock up on gallstone friendly fruits and vegies - and hopefully buy one last pesky pressie. Then it's back to spend the afternoon working to finally make up for my sick day on Tuesday.

Oh, and in exciting news my gal's party's all set. Invites are made, magnetic strips stuck on back and they're in envelopes ready to be hand-delivered this afternoon. We've also decided on the menu: sushi, honey soy chicken, salad and fruit platters and pizza pinwheels and cheese and pesto pinwheels. Sorted! That's one more tick for the month which makes me very happy indeed.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

feeling festive

So, most of my Christmas shopping was crossed off in one stealth attack yesterday {except for one mis-labled pair of pjs that I have to take back today}. So the gal and I are doing the Christmas cards this morning - I'm hoping to get them all done and ready to post on Monday.

I'm looking forward to Wednesday when I pick up my mum and step-dad from the airport in the early hours of the morning. Luckily they're happy to do the weekend drive-around to look at Christmas lights, one of our family traditions.

Oh, it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas alright!

Friday, December 03, 2010

friday flowers

How pretty is this? Damn it - how do Martha and her team do it? Obviously having bucketloads of cash to throw about helps - I don't even want to think how much it'd cost to buy this many white roses and fresh cranberries {should I happen to find fresh cranberries in my neck of the woods}. But still, it does make me think about painting the inside of an old glass jar a rich, vibrant red and then popping in an extravagant bunch of white flowers.

Frighteningly festive non?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

pretty damned gorgeous

So, here I am, watching the Rachel Zoe project when I nearly fall backwards in my seat as shoe designer Brian Atwood walks on screen. Seriously, why has nobody told me how gorgeous this man is? And also, can somebody also tell him that apparently he and his boyfriend Nate Berkus own my livingroom. Hello - shoes as decor? Oh I think so.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

world aids day

When Sydney saw red...

what's cooking wednesday

Happy first of December everyone. And I would say, "Happy first day of Summer" but if your place is anything like my place {cold, soggy} then that's not the best idea...

I went to the Dr last night and he seems to think I might have a problem with my gall bladder - hence the continued sickness {noice} so until I have an ultrasound and confirmation I'll be keeping the cooking pretty fat-free. We don't really have high fat foods {except when I go out and pounce on pork belly and duck confit} so hopefully I won't have to change my menu plans too much. Here's the plan:
Wednesday: grilled lime and garlic chicken breast strips with salad.
Thursday: second last French class of the year. Am I speaking fluently? I am not... But I have improved. Dinner, I'll have some fruit and low fat yoghurt because it starts so early.
Friday: We're off to a friends' housewarming party to a German BBQ they won at the school ball auction. Chances of finding low-fat food at a German BBQ? Yep, slim. Oh well, you've gotta live...
Saturday: BBQ Salmon and salad. My gal loves salmon, so I really should make an effort to serve it up more often for her.
Sunday: Guess the traditional roast isn't an option. Grilled lean steak and salad perhaps?
Monday: No more twilight netball {hurrah!} let's have lamb rump with salad tonight.
Tuesday: A poached chicken breast salad tonight - with mango, pink grapefruit and baby spinach.
On wednesday my parent's fly in from Melbourne, so it's a week of vegetarian meals while they're with us. It's my gal's ballet concert on Wednesday night - so I might make a couple of tarts to have cold with some salad after the concert. Yes?

Enjoy your week.