Monday, July 30, 2012

meal planning monday

Well hey, how's things? Busy? Yep, here too. This week's shaping up to be crazy-busy so I shopped up a storm yesterday and our fridge and pantry are PACKED. Here's what we're eating:

Monday: My daughter's netball team have called for an extra day of training, bless their little socks. So this afternoon it's down to the beach for some balance and jumping work - with a bit of fun tossed in. Guess who'll be starvin' Marvin on her return? Yep, my gal. So I've bought her a crumbed flounder fillet and some oven fries for dinner tonight. Hubby and I shall have salt and pepper squid with a cucumber salad - and a lime and chilli dipping sauce {easy peasy - half sweet chilli sauce, half lime juice!).

Tuesday: Long, long ballet day today. And I'm off to a presentation at the pub! So I'll have the fixings for mexican ready so everyone can assemble their own beef burritos with guacamole, salad, cheese, sour cream and corn salsa.

Wednesday: Normal netball training today. I'm going to try to make French Onion Soup - I have such a hankering. I'll saute lots of sliced red onions in a little butter, and with lots of thyme till tender. Then I'll sloosh in some brandy and burn off the alcohol. I'll then top it up with beef stock and simmer for an hour or so. I'll serve it with slices of baguette topped with grilled gruyere cheese in the bowl with the soup poured over top. Yum.

Thursday: Late ballet tonight - so I'm just going to make this tuna and pasta bake. Served with salad.

Friday: Hubby and I are off with some fabulous friends to another cooking class and three course meal at SandBar Newcastle Beach. The theme is Paris - so hey, c'est magnifique! I'm sure the recipes will influence me in weeks to come.

Saturday: I haven't done a great deal of slow cooking this winter - terrible! So I'll make up for it with Osso Bucco served with soft polenta.

Sunday: Let's end the week simply shall we with a roast chicken and vegies.

Friday, July 27, 2012

flowers for friday

I do believe that red and pink geraniums are one of my favourite happy-making flowers. They remind me of window boxes in Paris, and all of France. Driving around France I noticed that even in the smallest of towns people would make the effort to pretty up their homes with window boxes or small gardens featuring brightly coloured blooms - often geraniums.

So, of course, I've had to install them myself. On our loungeroom windowsills are three planter boxes filled with alternating red and pink geraniums. I've grown them from cuttings from my mother-in-law's garden and they've finally taken off. It's too soggy out there to take a photo today - so, instead, here's a photo I snapped at Petersham Nurseries on our UK holiday last year. What a glorious place that was...

Hey, what are your plans for the weekend? My daughter has a pupil-free day today - and a headcold. So I'm feeding her up and dosing her with lots of water so she recovers quickly. Tomorrow's netball {head cold permitting} and then my gal has a friend over for a sleepover. We're going to try the new Mexican place in Hamilton - La Casita. It's had reviews from some pretty food-loving peeps so I have high hopes.

Sunday I'm spending the day at a netball coaching clinic. Even though I've been coaching for years I do like having the opportunity to brush up on my skills and learn new techniques. I'll just have to organise for a decent coffee delivery during the day. Anyone?

Enjoy your friday and your weekend. x

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

at the movies

It will come as no surprise to any regular reader that my favourite past-time is visiting the cinema. Nothing makes me happy than a night at the movies. And I've always had a soft spot for the Tower Cinemas in Newcastle. I feel quite certain that when my brother and I had the living daylights scared out of us by Jaws, it was at The Towers. It was also where I went on my first real date in High School - seeing Fame actually - ah yes, the original...

This grand old dame has been around since the early seventies, as the decor will most strongly attest. It's a real retro-gem. So I'm thrilled that the owners are sympathetically renovating with more than a nod to its vintage past. New carpet has gone down, and while it's stylish, it certainly wouldn't look out of place in a 1940s or 70s high end establishment. My fave features, the dramatic red curtains that roll back to reveal the film will hopefully be kept too. They're so Twin Peaks they make my heart ache.

It's in the screenings that things have changed.

In moving forward The Towers is moving toward screening limited release, Art House and other cinematic gems. And for that, I have nothing but applause.

I've just returned from the relaunch night. It was fab. There was champagne, canapes, loads of people with a passion for this cinema and the screening of the new Aussie flick The Sapphires.

What an absolutely joyous film this is. The performances are outstanding. Absolutely outstanding. Deborah Mailman takes custody of your gaze every time she enters the screen - what a charismatic actor she is. She is a singular talent, truly. But it's not just her film as every single character in this film has something very special to offer. Jessica Mauboy is exquisite. Her performance has pathos and vulnerability - and oh, that voice, that utterly magical voice...

Apparently the film wowed everyone at Cannes - little wonder. It really is a triumph. While it dealt with with some of the horrible aspects of our indigenous history, it did so with a light hand. Not sweeping it aside, but treating it with respect and dignity.

I walked out with a smile on my face, and many songs in my heart. This is one film soundtrack I'm keen to buy. My faith in Aussie films is totally restored.

Now, excuse me while I make a bit of an awkward segue but I need to talk about another film.

There's a bit of a goldmine in cinema at the moment, particularly Aussie-made. Last week I went to see Not Suitable For Children with two of my film-loving friends.

I had very moderate expectations for this film. I knew it starred Ryan Kwanton, but that was about it. I found myself quite delighted. What could have been a hideous, over-wrought cliché was actually a warm, funny and thought-provoking film.

The soundtrack kicks butt, there is a breakout performance by the exceptional Sarah Snook and the film raises some issues I'm still thinking about a week later. It's a very clever film, deftly directed and written - and the performances show why Aussie actors are the leading force in international cinema. We have some serious talent.

So thank you Tower Cinemas. Thank you for trying something different, for sympathetically restoring this iconic piece of Newcastle's history and bringing some very ace films into my life.

Monday, July 23, 2012

meal planning monday

Yikes, this day seems to come around so quickly! I have an extraordinarily busy week this week {I know, what's new?} so here's what we're eating.

Monday: It's got to be time for a meatloaf. Simply served with some boiled baby potatoes and green peas I think.

Tuesday: My daughter has an hour and a half of ballet today. Eep. So I'll make caramelised pork for our dinner tonight. Served with rice and wilted asian greens with garlic and soy sauce.

Wednesday: It's netball training and then I'm off to a screening of The Sapphires. Can't wait. So I have a window of an hour to serve dinner between getting home and going out again. Hello spaghetti bolognaise in the slowcooker.

Thursday: I have to go to Sydney for work, so I'll come home exhaustipated. Homemade pizzas made my husband and child I think. Chorizo, roasted capsicum and caramalised onion, bacon and cheese and a simple potato and rosemary will go down well.

Friday: We went to the BEST Christmas in July party last Saturday night. Not only was the company sublime, and the food and champagne absolutely fabulous, but I found out that all of my friends have as one of their family faves one of 'my' chicken recipes. I felt a bit crap that I don't cook enough of them myself. So it's time to revisit an old fave - Nigella's St Tropez chicken. Gorgeous chicken pieces marinated in rosé, honey and herbs including fresh lavender. This cooks to the most deliciously sticky glaze. Simply pop the chicken in a big zip-lock bag with a bottle of rosé, some honey, lime, garlic, olive oil and herbs de provence and marinated for 3 hours to overnight. Then it's taken out of the bag and tipped in a baking dish and baked slowly under alfoil for 1.5 hours, then the foil removed for the last 15 - 20 minutes to tan the skin deliciously. Mmmmm. Serve it with salad.

Saturday: We've decided that there are so many awesome restaurants in Newcastle we need to make an effort to get out and visit them regularly. So we shall on this night.

Sunday: Roast. And, especially for Little Miss Moi, it'll be slow-roasted lamb shoulder. With roasted vegies. I need to get my friends' Nat and Matt's recipe for the vegies served up at the Christmas In July dinner - they were delish (must also get the recipes for the turkey and our friend Pete's glazed ham. So Good!)

And that's it. Tell me what you're eating.

Friday, July 20, 2012

flowers for friday {barely}

Sorry, this is crazy, crazy late. But I've been laid up with the migraine from hell. It was a killer. Hopefully I've seen the back of it now - and the four-day headache that preceded it.

Onwards and upwards. We've got our Christmas in July celebration tomorrow night with the loveliest group of friends. That'll ease the pain. One more gift to buy, Christmas wrapping paper to dig up and desserts to make. Hurrah.

Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

meal planning monday (erm, tuesday)

Oh, I am sooooo sorry - how late am I? Very. But I have an excuse. I have been busy - in all caps, 64 point, fluro pink with exclamation points. Underlined.

Yep, that busy.

But busy doesn't stop meal planning. Oh no, it makes it MORE important. Here's what we're eating (and, cos I'm a day late, ate)

Monday: I had BIG day down in Sydney, so I wasn't home till late. Hubby and daughter prepared some spaghetti bolognaise - is there a more homely or welcoming meal? I think not.

Tuesday: School's back (yay!) which means after-school activities (um, yay?). So tonight's late ballet. I think I'll make a big pot of chicken minestrone soup.

Wednesday: Do you know what I haven't had for eight million years? (or thereabouts) lamb cutlets. Probably because they cost about eight million dollars (again, numbers are approximate). But hang the expense, I have a hankering. So tonight, after netball training, it'll be grilled lamb cutlets (or chops if I seriously baulk at the cost), mashed potatoes and smashed peas.

Thursday: Busy day today. I have to pick up my daughter and three of her friends from school for a netball clinic from 3.30 to 5pm. Best make a chicken curry in the slowcooker so it's ready for our return. I'll serve it with steamed rice (those cheaty microwaved bags), garlic naan and wilted spinach.

Friday: Panko crumbed fish fillets tonight. I've never tried this, but I think I'll just crumb these in the same way as chicken schnitzel and bake them in the oven. With some chunky sweet potato chips and a crispy green salad.

Saturday: Oooh, I nearly forgot - we're off to our friends' house for a Christmas In July dinner. I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO TO ONE OF THESE! We're all doing a dish. One family's bringing a baked ham, the hosts are doing turkey and veg, other friends are supplying the drinks and we're doing desserts. Yay. There are four families - so eight adults, and seven kids so I need two desserts. An adults one, and an awesome icecream with lollies, chocolates and popping candy chopped through and formed into a Christmassy shape for the kids.

Sunday: Roast chicken I think. With a warm lentil salad and roasted veg.

That's it. And you? Tell me, what are you eating?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

bonne fete de bastille

So, last year on Bastille Day we were in Paris. Le sigh.

We lined up early on the Champs Elysee to watch the parade. It was incroiyable. Tanks, horses, jets flying over the Arc de Triomphe. Amazing.

Many of the streets were closed to traffic so we walked to this classic cafe where we had a typically Parisian lunch with friends. Bliss.

There's nothing more Parisian than a patisserie. See that little wild strawberry tart? I ate it.

Dinner that night was in the Musee D'Orsay.

Oh my.

Here's my gal looking tres francais in her beret and gorgeous Little Leona outfit.

We walked through this incredible sculptural exhibition to find the perfect spot in the Jardin Luxemboug to watch the fireworks. You know what's more spectacular than regular fireworks? Fireworks that incorporate the Eiffel Tower. Magical.

Amazing. A day and night I will never, ever forget.

Happy Bastille Day.

Friday, July 13, 2012

flowers for friday

You know what makes me happier than finding peonies at Coles? Nothing.

I bought these beauties the other day and they're still going strong. Love, love, LOVE!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

snow white and the huntsman - girl power!

I think that going to the movies is one of my favourite things. Sure, you can watch them at home, in the comfort of your own loungeroom, but it's just not the same. I like getting a little dressed up and catching up with a friend over a movie. It makes me happy.

My gal's inherited my movie-loving-gene. So I took her and a pal to see Snow White and the Huntsman on Sunday. I was a bit unsure, it was rated M and they're only 12 and 13  - but we did our research and they were both fine about it. And I was there if need be.

I needn't have worried, there was nothing sleezy or too scary in this film.

Apart from Charlize Theron's character - wowzers!

Visually this is one damned sumptuous film. Charlize Theron's costumes are utterly brilliant, the fabric, the designs - and oh, the black raven cape? WANT!

This film hearkens back more to the original Grimm fairy tale than anything produced by Disney. And it's awesome. I really enjoyed it, and the girls did too. Snow White's a pretty kick-ass chick - and as for Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman... hello!

I found the narrative fascinating, the whole concept of beauty and youth as power still resonates today. Great performances, gorgeous special effects and an interesting storyline work together to create a film that's worthwhile viewing for teenage girls in particular. It's all about facing your fears, finding your strengths and generally being awesome.

What's not to love?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

hysteria review

It seems almost inconceivable that just over 100 years ago, doctors were adamant that there were no such things as germs - but believed that more than half the women in the world suffered from a terribly debilitating condition known as Hysteria. This 'disease' was caused by a malfunctioning uterus, and while there were 'cures' such as radical hysterectomies and incarceration in mental institutions, one doctor found a more popular approach to help...

Young Doctor Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is an earnest, progressive young man - totally misunderstood by older, stuck in their ways medical professionals. He can't seem to hold down a job until he finds a position with Dr Dalyrymple. See, Dr Dalyrymple's found a method to help the uterus bounce back into shape, and it involves, um, well, stimulation of a most unusual kind. Pelvic massage in fact. But a very concentrated form of pelvic massage that really hits the spot. It's no wonder his waiting room is filled with expectant women.

So Dr Granville comes aboard, but finds that all the, well, treatment he's offering is giving him some form of RSI in his poor hand. Luckily he has a friend, Edmund St John Smythe (the unrecognisable Rupert Everett - seriously, what has he done to his face?). Edmund is an inventor. A rich, louche, dandy inventor - and he's awesome. It's when Granville picks up Edmund's latest invention, an electric feather duster, that inspiration strikes - and the vibrator is born.

This film is a giggle-fest, primarily thanks to some absolutely stellar supporting cast (including Molly in the shot above). What could have been tacky is instead rendered hilarious thanks to some fabulous performances. Maggie Gyllenhaal is stunning as the feisty suffragette daughter of Dr Dalrymple - the perfect contrast to her younger sister who's the poster child for demure young Victorian women.

Based on a true story, this film could almost be viewed as a documentary of the times - a time when women were meant to concentrate on running exemplary homes, raising their children - and being denied a jolly good time in bed. Great performances, an interesting storyline and lots of laughs - this ticks my box for a fun night at the movies.

I saw this last night at The Tower Cinemas, Newcastle as guest of a special preview screening, a long with lots of other laughing patrons. Need a giggle? I recommend this.

Monday, July 09, 2012

meal planning monday

Hello, well, it’s our first full week back on board after our lovely holiday in the Southern Highlands – and the last week of the school holidays. I’ll be keeping things pretty simple this week, and trying out something new along the way. Here’s what we’re eating.

This week’s menu

Monday: Slow cooker lamb pilaf - omg, this is so good. I've added a tin of drained chickpeas to this, and decided to use beef stock. It's YUM (from the few spoonfuls I've tested)*

Tuesday: Chicken Schnitzel, mash, corn on the cob and green beans

Wednesday: Beef tacos with corn salad and guacamole

Thursday: Pistachio dukka crusted lamb fillets with roasted chick peas. I’ve got a yummy pistachio dukka from the supermarket that I like to roll lamb fillets in then I sear them in a hot pan and finish them off in the oven. While they’re in there I’ll throw in a tin of drained chick peas on an oven tray to crisp up and then pop them in a bowl with roasted capsicum, sliced green onion, garlic and a balsamic, lemon and olive oil dressing.

Friday: Pan-fried blue eye cod, crispy potatoes and salad

Saturday: Aussie Farmer’s Direct Lemongrass and garlic prawns with a rice salad

Sunday: Roast beef and roasted vegies plus green beans with almonds. I bought a roasting sirloin at Coles this week. I'm going to place it on a bed of slice onions, thyme and red wine in the Le Crueset (after first searing it till golden brown in a frypain) and slowly cook it with the lid on. My guess is that it'll be tender and I'll have made my own gravy in the pan. I might just need to reduce it on the hotplate while the beef's resting at the end of cooking.

What are you eating?

*Okay, will need to update the recipe on this - needs cooking on low and less stirring in my opinion. It was delish, but the rice went gluggy really quickly. Perhaps it'd be better as a non-slow-cooker dish? 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

sweet saturday

How's your weekend panning out? Hope there's lots of good stuff interspersed with a wee spot of relaxation. I think I need this daybed - don't you?

Friday, July 06, 2012

flowers for friday

Can you IMAGINE being greeted with a breakfast tray as exuberant as this? Look at those lilacs!!! So pretty.

Well, it's Friday and to celebrate the end of the week I'm off to celebrate a gorgeous friend's birthday at the SurfHouse tonight. That's how I like to see out a week, especially a half-week after holidays.

No netball tomorrow morning, so no easy rising (ahhhhh). I think we need to get out into the garden: roses need pruning, gardens need weeding - sprouting purple garlic bulbs need planting...

Enjoy your Friday x

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

back in the swing of things

It feels weird getting back to normal after a holiday. I've done all the usual things: unpacked my bags once we arrived home, shopped for meals, washed all the holiday clothes and settled back into normalcy... But still...

It's hard to settle down after drinking champagne by the fireside every night. And eating out daily. Luckily I've got loads of work to do to take my mind off it all. And more exciting things planned for the year - balls, a wedding, fun events including tomorrow night's Winter Wander in the mall.

I think I also need to organise a girly get-together with a table like this one.

Nice huh?

Monday, July 02, 2012

meal planning monday

Well, we're back from hols and oh, what a holiday it was. We had the best time: ate too much, drank too much, relaxed too much... pretty much what a holiday should be. It was ace.

But now we're home and here's what we're eating.

Monday: I needed to cook up something cleansing tonight so I made a chicken, corn and udon noodle soup. I simply sliced a few green shallots, white and green and sauteed them in a little olive oil with a finely diced carrot and a couple of cloves of garlic. Then I diced three chicken breasts into 1cm cubes, added these and topped with 1 litre of chicken stock. I brought this to the boil, took it down to a simmer and simmered until the chicken was cooked. Then I added some corn and udon noodles and seasoned with pepper and soy sauce. Delish.

Tuesday: we're having glazed salmon on the bbq with sushi rice and salad. I think I'll make a glaze with lime, soy sauce, ginger and garlic.

Wednesday: a simple steak and salad is called for.

Thursday: my gal's having a pal over for a sleepover and a shopping expedition. Why fight it? I'll make spaghetti bolognaise and garlic bread.

Friday: I'm going to the SurfHouse to celebrate a lovely friend's birthday. So, beforehand I'll make up a prawn and quinoa salad. I've never used quinoa before (I know, late adaptor) so let's hope lots of pepper, parsley and lemon makes it delish.

Saturday: lamb tonight. With a chickpea and roasted capsicum salad. And some wilted spinach with garlic - some things are just meant to be together.

Sunday: roasted chicken. The simple things in life really are the best.

And that's how we're easing into this first week of the school holidays. How about you?