Saturday, June 30, 2012

This is my view this morning. Pretty darned awesome isn't it?
Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 29, 2012

on holidays

French blue in Berrima.

A rustic velo in the grounds of Hopewood Country House.

Locals' pizza night at the pub.

The fabulous dining table in our holiday house, with a view down to the fireplace and cosy couches.

Gorgeous veranda view from the sunroom. So sweet.

Much champagne consumption.

And undoubtedly the prettiest powder room in the world.

Yep, this just about sums up bliss.

Monday, June 25, 2012

where do we go now - film review

I was surprised by a film tonight. While I'm a huge fan of foreign films I must say that I rarely skip beyond the borders of France... sometimes I'll step over to Italy, but I'm pretty conservative in my viewing habits. However, I had the opportunity to attend a preview screening of Where Do We Go Now and decided to move outside of my comfort zone.

I'm pleased I did.

See that gorgeous woman in the apron above? She's not only one of the stars, she's also the writer and director of this powerful film. Set in a remote, seriously war-torn Lebanese village this film powerfully depicts what happens when a town's Muslim and Christian men start to get angered and antagonistic like the rest of their country.

Well, that's where the women of the town step up and the fun begins.

This film is in turns satirical, poignant and heart-wrenching. There's levity to relieve the pathos - thank goodness - but the film never veers into pantomime. The performances are stunning, and there are so many strong, likeable (or loathe-worthy) characters it's easy to become immersed in the plot.

Sometimes it pays to check out something unexpected. I walked out of the cinema with a smile on my face, and a lot to think about.

Bravo Tower Cinemas - you've brought another great film to this town.

holiday... celebrate...

So, in the morning we're off on a week's holiday. Hurray! I'm pretty much prepared. The beef bourguignon's cooked and in the fridge - it just needs to go in an esky tomorrow and we're set. I've also pulled up my One Week Holiday list from my files and got it printed out and ready to go. What's that you say? What is a one week holiday list? Well, I have a couple of lists saved on my computer dependent on the holiday. There's a three day holiday, a one week holiday and a long-term holiday (four to six weeks - so, you know, overseas). These are my master lists that I create so I don't have to faff around creating one before we head away, I simply print, pack and tick off.

Love it.

Now, before you say "Oh, PPMJ, you just do that because you're such an organised person..." allow me to retort. At heart I am a deeply disorganised person. Disorganisation runs deep in my veins and I have to fight very, very hard to overrule it. And, just like parenting, I have to choose my battles. For me, my battles are Meal Planning and Holiday Packing. The rest can sort itself out. If I plan these two events I know I can just breathe out a sigh of relief and enjoy myself.

My holiday lists look extensive. They're divided into toiletries (with every little thing on them, even headbands and body lotion), clothing, pantry (I normally take my pepper grinder and a decent small knife with me when staying in a holiday house - two essentials I can't live without). I also take the iPod dock so I can listen to the iPod on my phone - and we take the coffee machine if we're going away for longer than two days.

Sanity saviours people. Sanity saviours.

I also do my usual anally-retentive timed list, just like I do for birthday parties and dinner parties - with all events written down with reasonable times written next to them. Saves the last-minute flap. We're not having house-sitters this time, so at least the house cleaning's kept to a minimum - but our next-door-neighbour's coming in to cat sit (feed, entertain etc) so the house needs to be in reasonable order.

Anyway, I'll keep you updated when I'm away. I have my phone, which has BlogPress on it so there will be blogging from the bucolic Southern Highlands. Can. Not. Wait.

meal planning monday

Guess what? We’re off on holidays tomorrow – yay! A week in the Southern Highlands with some fabulous friends.  This is our third holiday in the same location, same house, same friends – so there’s some traditions that must be upheld. Cannot wait. So tonight’s our last night at home, but hey, I still meal plan on holidays – it’s just a lot looser.

I think it’s still important to consider your plans for the day, so while we mightn’t have late ballet lessons or netball training, we’ll be out sight-seeing or perhaps just feeling lazy and in the mood for something easy. Anyway, here’s our plan:

Monday: last night at home before hols. I’m cooking up the beef bourguignon that we’ll be having for dinner tomorrow night today so it just needs heating. So tonight will be something easy and light. I think I’ll make a chicken noodle soup.

Tuesday: we can check into our holiday house at 4pm so we’ll stop off at Bowral and buy a few baguettes, some salad greens and some potatoes. When we get there I’ll turn the oven on low and reheat the beef, make the salad and whip up a mash.

Wednesday: I cooked last night, our friends are cooking tonight. But we’ll muck in and help each other. My friend G will cook up some duck confit. They’re fellow Francophiles so we’ll have the duck with potatoes roasted in duck fat and other vegies.

Thursday: the town we’re staying in has a local’s pizza night at the pub. It’s a tradition we always follow.

Friday: There’s a restaurant in Berrima that’s also become a tradition, so we’ll dress up in our fancy pants outfits and head over there.

Saturday: we’re having lunch at our fave vineyard, Mt Ashby. They have the most amazing French-inspired menu. So we probably won’t need anything too huge for dinner. Perhaps a chicken pot pie?

Sunday: okay, we’re checking out as the next tenants are checking in but guess what? They’re also our friends! I know! So we’re going to spend the night at the pub and catch up with them at the house for a bbq and some champagne. We’ll organise to buy bbq meats from Spring Hill Beef – tastiest beef you’ll ever taste.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

sweet, sweet sunday

It may be chilly outside, but the sky's so blue it's just begging me to get out in the garden this morning. There's a few bits and pieces I'd like to do before we head off on holiday on Tuesday for a week!

I'm also a bit excited about this afternoon. Champagne High Tea for a lovely friend's farewell at Bacchus one of my favourite places in Newcastle. This gorgeous restaurant is divine for dinner, lunch and cocktails so I imagine it'll be just as superb for a girly high tea. Can't wait to see what they come up with. Don't worry - I'll be Instagramming it.

Enjoy your sunday x

Saturday, June 23, 2012

small bars in newy = ace

So, last night my friend S picked me up in a cab and we made our way to the middle of Hunter Street to the opening of Newcastle's newest small bar - Terrace Bar. We were both a wee bit excited, being fans of innovation and Newy. It didn't disappoint.

Now the bar's stood vacant for years, there were skip-loads of rubbish removed, but what I love is that the team have stripped back the place to a fabulously raw state - with layers of old paint revealed on the walls. Then they've simply decorated over the top.


Retro-kitcsh-chic paintings adorn the walls, while cosy, conversational nooks are set up with a quirky mix of vintage armchairs or higher bars and stools. It's a place that breeds conversation.

I like that in a place.

The bar's filled with local wines, plenty of cider and some great beers. My friend and I started with a delish Tamburlaine sparkling wine, before we took it upon ourselves to drink the bar dry of tonic with our vodka tonic habits.

Someone had to do it.

This hallstand with a simple floral arrangement was one of my fave pieces. It stands opposite the doors as you enter and really helps set the scene. Candles in old jars continue to create ambiance.

Up the blackened stairs is the performance area, with the roof terrace just off it. Ah, memories, the roof terrace has barely changed since the old Gunfighter's Rest days. Even the furniture's original - just with a coat of sealer to help preserve their knocked-around fabulousness. They've done a bit of landscaping out here, there's trellis to grow vines and strings of fairy lights. It'll be THE coveted hotspot in summer.

Cheers to the proprietor Chris Hearn, Emma from Emma Soup next door who lent her sharp decorating eye, Renew Newcastle who helped get things moving through council to help get it off the ground and all the cool peeps who helped fundraise over $7000 on Pozible to get this venture happening. There's life spreading down Hunter Street, bringing with it enthusiasm, optimism - and hopefully more cool venues like this.

Why wouldn't you raise a glass to this?

Friday, June 22, 2012

flowers for friday

And le sigh, it's friday...

So happy. Such a busy week - to set off a busy weekend. Tonight I'm off with a friend to the opening of The Terrace Bar, Newcastle's newest small bar. A lot of thought, planning and passion's gone into this place, I cannot wait to see what they've done with it. The snippets I've seen look sensational! Don't worry, I'll be Instagramming it - it looks very Instagrammable.

Tonight's also my gal's first high school dance (eek!) so before I toddle off I'll be helping her frock up and be fabulous. Bless.

Tomorrow's a big morning of netball with lots of girls umpiring to supervise, then, in the afternoon my gal's off to a birthday party. It's a camping party where the girls will be sleeping out the back in the parent's caravan. Again, bless. We still need to buy the birthday gal something spesh, so we'll be headed to Blackbird Corner where if you can't find a teenage girl an ace present you obviously don't have your eyes open.

Saturday night hubby and I will wander down to check out Winter Heat in Civic Park. It's my favourite thing about winter in Newcastle. We might have to buy a bowl of paella to munch on while checking out the sights.

On Sunday I have a lovely friend's farewell High Tea at Bacchus (why yes, I am pulling out Newcastle's big guns in this post aren't I?) which will be fabulous, if a bit teary. And naturally I've opted for the option of champagne with my high tea - you knew it didn't you?

Monday's my last day of work before we head south to the glorious Southern Highlands for a week's holiday with fab friends. Can. Not. Wait.

So today, busy. Lots of work to do before holidays. I think I need some pretty fleurs for my desk like these. Don't you?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

fluffy pink clouds

There are few sights as beautiful as fluffy pink sunset clouds. While I love the drama of a deep orange sunset, it's this pretty pastel type that really bring out my sighs.

Life's good isn't it?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

why yes, yes it does

I'm off on holidays next week (yay!) so of course this week is filled with getting stuff done. And you know how sometimes when you need to get stuff done it all seems a little too hard? I need me some motivation - and found this on Instagram.

Thank you. I will just do that.

Monday, June 18, 2012

the duel movie review

Tonight a movie-loving friend and I went along to a preview screening of The Duel at The Tower Cinemas. This filmic adaptation was visually rather sumptuous, every frame of every shot was a visual delight. The colours were stunning, and the costuming positively sigh-worthy. Filmed on the stunning Croatian coast on the Black Sea and set in the 1890s, this film resembles a series of moving stills bringing to life one of Seurat's masterpieces. The stunning beach, with its glorious beach house, had me planning my next european trip with a side trip to this gorgeous place.

My knowledge of Chekhov dates back some time. But if memory serves this adaptation is classically correct - perhaps too much so as the era's strict social mores versus the characters' louche morality is near incomprehensible to a modern viewer. Sub-plot points seemed to veer off in many directions: some seeming without a point. There were more meaningful, moody glances than an episode of Bold and the Beautiful, and quite a few off-kilter moments that had me whispering to my viewing companion "Who? What? Why?"

The premise of the plot was interesting, if the pace was a little too limpid for my liking. As a visual feast it gets the tick of approval, but if you need a film where you can empathise, sympathise or at least like a character, this mayn't be your cup of tea. Rarely have I seen a cast so unsympathetic.

That said, I did covet the leading lady's lipstick, red shoes, hair and much of her wardrobe. Her paramour? Not so much - he had me calling for the duel, in the hope that we'd see his demise. Sure, we were meant to believe that he was driven to the brink of madness by heat, boredom and alcohol - but I think he was just an ass.

I do love how The Towers is bringing such a diverse range of films to an audience and taking a chance on art house films. Sure, not every film is your perfect match, but there's always something you can take away from them - which you can't say about your typical mainstream blockbuster.

meal planning monday

Monday: i'm off to the movies (again) tonight. It's not my fault, it's the cinemas for having so many awesome films screening. It'd be rude not to attend. So I'll whip up a spaghetti bolognaise early in the day in the slowcooker. Sure, I'll hate myself at lunch when I have to eat a boring sandwich while I smell simmering Italian delights, but it'll make life easier when it comes time to serve. 

Tuesday: it's a late ballet night for my gal so I need to have something I can serve up the second she walks in the door at 7pm - two hours of dance fuels a big hunger. I think I'll make lamb kofta with a parsley, tomato and red onion salad, tsatziki and pita bread. And I'll whip up a quick cheaty-hommos with a tin of chickpeas, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice (and tahini if I think to buy it). I'll whizz all the ingredients in a blender and add a little salt and pepper to taste. Yum.

Wednesday: netball training. I might have to make a curry in the slow cooker. Chicken curry perhaps. Served with rice, wilted greens and garlic naan.

Thursday: I've found I'm getting tired and lazy by the end of the week, so am thinking of really super-easy meals to serve. Steak, mash and steamed veg will do nicely I think.

Friday: simple salmon patties with salad, seriously, that's all I can cope with on a Friday. I'll make them in the morning and refrigerate so they're ready to cook when I knock off work that night. I might need to sip on a glass of white while they're cooking. Don't you think?

Saturday: I've made nary a soup this winter - what's wrong with me? I think I need to rectify this by making a chicken wonton soup - how amazing would that be? Shall blog the recipe next week after I've made it.

Sunday: seven hour leg of lamb is the roast du jour tonight. With loads and loads of veggies and lentils of course. Lamb and french lentils are a match made in heaven.

And that's it. How about you? Tell me what's on your meal plan this week - and hands up if I've managed to convert another of you to the meal-planning side!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

ah sweet saturday

It's very wintery here today, grey, kinda drizzly and cold. We spent the morning at the netball courts from 9am to 12 - long morning. Two of the girls in my team were umpiring so I put on my official netball shirt and supervised them while they went on the sidelines. They were awesome, and luckily we had good parents and two lovely teams. Phew. Then we played, a red-hot match with the team who's currently number one with a speedy bullet. It was a great game to watch, lots of action (and giggles as the girls know each other).

Then it was soup time for lunch and I got on the bike for 15 minutes as part of my knee rehabilitation. Years of netball have seen the onset of osteo-arthritis so I have to be very careful and get up and stretch during the day and ride my bike to loosen the knee and tone the muscles around it.

Tonight I'm off to dinner with someone fabulous, somewhere fabulous. Apparently a cool cafe over Hamilton way, Rolador, offers mexican food of a weekend night. How awesome. I'm on an eternal search for good mexican food. When I was a teen there was a fabulous restaurant on Darby Street called Taco Bills and my memories of the mexican food served there are so strong. I've yet to find anything like it. Hopefully tonight's will be a strong competitor. Fingers crossed. If not, I at least have fabulous company.

I might also take a moment to sit down and relax with a cuppa and a magazine this afternoon. At Films for Foodies the other night my goodie bag contained a copy of MiNDFOOD magazine - and it's damned good. I've been seeking a good magazine, and I think I've found it.

Enjoy your weekend, do you have something lovely you're planning on doing?

Friday, June 15, 2012

flowers for friday

I do love a nice bunch of tulips. These were on the table at le petit deux when I breakfasted yesterday with mon amis C and K. Why yes, that is my third visit to LpD this week... Couldn't help it. Had to go on opening day with my family, then on Tuesday with my friend S because we're keen supporters of all things new in Newy, and hey, my friend C is French and K is a francophile like me - of COURSE we had to go in the first week.

We were also lucky to meet the chef/owner Lesley who asked us what we thought of the place and shared her passion behind this lovely french breakfast and lunch spot. How wonderful it must be to realise a dream. I'm keen to get there for lunch, there's a plat du jour special with a meal and a glass of wine for just under $20. Bargain. Today's steak and frites, and Lesley told me all about the meat, how it's chosen, how its carved and how it's cooked. I knew there was love and passion behind this place before I'd met Lesley, but now, wow, I'm in awe.

I love meeting inspirational people who make their dreams happen. And there are so many of them in this town that it can only serve to attract more. We just need to get the council and public behind this: get some great lighting in the city, more fab events like Red Lantern Markets and Livesites, increase public transport and we'll see this town become the thriving mecca it can be at night - just like it is in Europe.

Exciting times ahead. Enjoy your Friday - and your weekend.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

le chef film review

I saw the sweetest movie last night. That's the poster above - looks very french non? I went in hopeful that I'd like it - after all, it was French and about food - and oh, it was such a delight. Funny, a really great plot, sweet and inspirational.

It's the story of two chefs: one is a three Michelen Star celebrity chef, {or trois etoille if you say it in French, which you should because it sounds heaps better} who's under pressure - lose a star, lose the restaurant. He's worried he's lost his touch. He needs inspiration, fast. Could he find it in the other chef?

I shan't give away any more of the plot, but it's an absolute delight. And there's enough shots of Paris to sate my appetite too. The performances are sublime, Jean Reno is fabulous as always, and I've a new fave in Michael Youn. Don't get me started on how absolutely gorgeous the women were in this film - le sigh...

I saw this at a special Films for Foodies night at The Tower Cinemas. Such an innovative idea. Upon arrival you're greeted with a glass of wine and a bag filled with food-goodies. Then former MasterChef contestant Peter Vickery came in and was really quite sweet chatting about the passion he's discovered for gardening and getting back to basics with his cooking. A rather fabulous sommelier then shared a few wine tips and then the movie began. Apparently they're hoping to introduce cooking demos at future screenings - how cool is that?

I'll be back for the next one - gotta support innovation like this don't you think?

PS: after writing this I tuned into David and Margaret At The Movies to find they were reviewing this film. Well, they said they were reviewing this film, but it appears they saw something else. They saw something unfunny that they hated. Me, my friends and every other person in the cinema who was laughing uproariously would disagree. Ignore them, it's funny and sweet.

Monday, June 11, 2012

meal planning monday

Well hello, here we go, off on another round of meal planning to get through the week. It's well and truly wintery here, so the meal plan's going to reflect that. Ready? Let's go.

Monday: I called for husband and daughter's input on meals this week. Before I'd even finished my sentence my husband said "Cassoulet" seconded by my gal. So cassoulet it is. What a nice way to finish a long weekend. Mine's the quick version, not Anthony Bourdain's three day number. But it's tasty. Here's the recipe.

Tuesday: I'm terrible at using frozen meat. I'll throw it in the freezer the day before its due date and then wonder what I can do with it. I have some chicken mince I bought at a two-for-one special, so I need to use it. I'll defrost it in the morning and then make a dish with it tonight. I'll follow something I saw Jamie Oliver make once. I'll cook up some noodles in boiling salted water and while this is happening I'll sauté the chicken mince in a dry pan until it's super-brown and caramelised. Then I'll add some garlic, red chilli, finely diced onion and some fresh thai basil (I'm growing it and have loads! But normal basil would work just as well). Then I'll squeeze over lots of lemon juice. I'll drain the pasta, saving a little water to create a sauce. I'll add the pasta to the chicken mixture and toss. Finally, I'll add lots of fresh parmesan. Early dinner tonight as I'm off to see a French film - Le Chef at a Films for Foodies night at the Tower Cinemas - awesome!

Wednesday: I'm off to Sydney for a work meeting, so I'll buy the fixings for home-made pizza for my gal and hubby to make.

Thursday: I think it's time for some pork cutlets with apple slaw. I cheat with this. I buy a 'gourmet coleslaw mix' (one that has red cabbage in it) and then I'll slice apples into cheeks and slice them thinly. Then I'll roughly chop some whole almonds. I combine all this and add some mayonaise with lots of lemon and garlic added. So good.

Friday: Hubby's going out with some buddies to the pub, I'll make a garlic prawn fettucine. You know what? I finally succumbed recently and bought frozen green prawns. Nigella uses them so they must be okay, and you know what? They are. I'll simply add them to a pan with some olive oil, lots of garlic and cook till they change colour. Then I'll throw in some fresh breadcrumbs and fry till golden, add a sloosh of white wine and toss through pasta. Throw on some chopped italian parsley at the last minute.

Saturday: chicken kebabs tonight. Something easy. Served with a really super-simple salad.

Sunday: pork belly roasted on a bed of rhubarb. So simple. Score the top of the pork belly and rub with olive oil and salt. Season the underside with salt and pepper. Place a bed of rhubarb the exact size of the belly in a pan. Add some thyme sprigs. Place the pork over the rhubarb. Add to a smoking hot oven - 220 degrees and immediately turn the heat down to 150 degrees. Cook slowly for three hours. Serve to rapturous applause with lots of roasted vegies. That rhubarb will become a caramelised delight - far superior to any apple sauce you've ever served with pork. No rhubarb? Use apples or pears. Go on - you will NEVER regret it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

so french, so chic

There's quite the revitalisation happening in the East End in Newy. See that building on the left? It's a spanish place that's moved from teeny tiny premises next door to this fabulous building. Now, traditionally (so they say) this building has a bit of a curse - but word on the street by peeps and tweeps in the know say that bocados may well be the place to break that curse. I need to visit to put that to the test.

Instead, see that place on the right? We went there. Opening day, saturday, petit dejeuner. Le Petit Deux may well be my new place to catch up with my friends.

I perused this. Pondered that. Ended up choosing this.

Brioche french toast with a rhubarb and berry compute and creme d'Isigny. Was it as good as it looked? Nope, better.

Mon dieu!

There's care, love and passion in this food - you can see it and you can taste it.

The word's already out. The place was packed, and the dejeuner (lunch) menu looked even more amazing. Lesley Taylor is the head chef - she who's creating miracles at Restaurant Deux. If ever you need evidence that Newcastle's future lies in fab food - she leads one of the places you must visit.

I'm visiting again on Tuesday. And again later in the week. Well it'd be rude not to wouldn't it? And you really need to visit with different friends just to make sure that everything suits every mood.

ps: I couldn't get a shot, but there's the most awesome velo out the front with fleurs in the basket. Shall photograph it next time when the sun's less harsh.

pps: the croissant met my daughter's harsh criticism - tasted just like in Paris apparently. Gotta be happy with that.

Friday, June 08, 2012

flowers for friday

Couldn't these just bring a glorious splash of happiness into your day? I love the sherbet orange colour, and the gorgeous old bottle they're in.

The sun's come out today - and oh, that sky out there is BLUE. I'm so looking forward to a long-weekend. Do you have any plans? We've got loads, hopefully we can fit most of it in.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

croiser les doights

My new fave French saying is croiser les doights - it means cross your fingers. Cute non? You know what's also cute? This IMAGE! Found on pinterest via WeHeartIt - whoever's responsible - genius.

For mon ami C who got some very good news today, my friends M and N who are in the midst of something seriously wonderful - and you. Let's hope something fabulous your way comes. (At the very least a snog from a moustachioed man with a jaunty hat...)

Monday, June 04, 2012

meal planning monday

Well hello Monday. Short-time, no-see. My daughter has her first high school exams this week, so I'm cooking up all her favourite meals to help her get through the week. We started off last night with shepherd's pie with polka dot corn on the cob {pretty yellow and white kernals!} - let's hope it boosts her brain power. Here's what else we're eating:

Monday: chicken schnitzel, mashed potato and wilted tuscan cabbage with bacon. I'm growing the cavalo nero in the garden, it's so dark green it's almost black so is positively bursting with B-vitamins. I saute a little garlic with a finely diced french shallot (or red onion). Then I add some diced bacon or pancetta and fry till crisp. On top of this I add the shredded cabbage and add enough chicken stock to generously cover the base of the pan. I top this with a lid and steam until it's soft and delicious.

Tuesday: beef in red wine pot pies. I'm going to cook up a simple beef in red wine casserole in the slow cooker this morning, and at night, add them to little pots and top them with puff pastry to make pot pies. I'll serve them with roasted vegies {might as well use the leftover space in the oven while they're cooking} and I'll be making roasted brussell sprouts too! {cut in half, doused in olive oil and roasted till crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Wednesday: we went to a food and wine masterclass last Friday night and the chef showed us how to make cassoulet. I'll test it out and share the recipe once I've given it a go. This hearty stew of white beans, sausage and duck is a winnner.

Thursday: my gal's final requested meal, bangers and mash. Gotta love a simple meal of grilled sausages, mashed potato, onion gravy and steamed carrots and zucchini.

Friday: I think I'll make salmon patties with a salad tonight, that's an easy Friday night meal.

Saturday: fillet of lamb with a chick pea mash tonight. Warmed chickpeas, a little garlic and a squeeze of lime, roughly mashed with a fork. A seasoning a salt, pepper and fresh parsley - yum. I'll also roast some red capsicum and top that with a little crumbled feta. Nice.

Sunday: hello soup weather. I'll see where the mood takes me, but possibly a bean and vegie soup tonight.

And that's it. How about you?

ps: that image is from Fried Green Tomatoes - I need to see that again. Such a gorgeous film.

Friday, June 01, 2012

flowers for friday

I had the most incredible dream last night. It was a launch party for Veuve Cliquot rosé and it was filled with pink. Pink tulips, bottles of pink champagne - bliss. I nearly cried when I had to wake from it. It's strange where your subconscious takes you sometimes isn't it?

So here's a fabulously pink ombre pile of peonies, roses and other fabulous fleurs to make up for my not inviting you to my dream last night. Isn't it just succulent?

Oooh, last night I went to a pop-up small bar. I know - exciting! It was intimate, fabulous and inspirational. Set up in a gorgeous old bank (complete with marbled panelling, original cubicles and mezzanine level, hunter wine producers served their delicious wines from behind the long marble counter while sophisticated peeps mingled, nibbled on cheese and chatted about solutions for this town.

A small tweak to the licensing laws, some innovation and vision - and a lot of support can see Newcastle's transformation continue. There's the passion and the motivation out there to get things started - it's now up to the residents to get behind the new ventures and help make them a success.

This starts next month with the June 22 launch of the Terrace Bar. I'm excited about this one. It's a new venue: wine bar, performance space in one of my old haunts. This old terrace style building was once The Gunfighter's Rest - undoubtedly one of Newcastle's finest night spots. It was small, it was unique, it was fabulous. And, excitedly, it looks like Chris Hearn, the new owner of Terrace Bar is continuing the innovation. He called for funds on Pozible to raise money for a PA system and screen. He needed $5000 so the high quality equipment would be on-site ready for bands and acts when they need it. Such a good idea. He had a month to raise the money - he surpassed the target in 48 hours. Now funds are going toward making the place even more fabulous - and giving his credit card a rest.

What was unique was that he offered rewards with pledges. Those who donated $25 received exclusive access to the opening night - with a max capacity of 120. Higher donations could choose from cool vinyl packs, vouchers from ace nearby stores or other choice rewards. My fave came with a $1000 donation - have a cocktail named after you. My bank account settled for a golden ticket to opening night.

I love seeing innovation and creativity blossom, so I'll do what I can to support it. Particularly when it's fabulous. Cheers.