Friday, August 31, 2012

flowers for friday

Hello Friday, my, you are looking pretty today... So, can you believe that it's the last day of August AND the last day of winter? Hurrah! I am so looking forward to spring. Longer days mean before-dinner bikerides. And warmer days mean SWIMMING! Yes please.

So, how's your weekend panning out? Ours is busy. On Saturday we're going down to watch the grand final of the netball season. Our team didn't make it, but we're off to cheer on the friends who did. Saturday night I'm catching up with some uni friends and we'll dance the night away to a band we used to dance to back in the day. But rather than dancing upstairs at Tatts, we'll be at the Lass. Same old. It won't be a late night though as it's father's day on Sunday. Hubby has requested breakfast in bed and a home cooked meal. Bless. There will be pressies too.

Have a lovely one - and enjoy your Friday. I think it's going to be a very good day indeed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

spoiled rotten

I live less than five minutes walk from this: the largest ocean baths in the Southern Hemisphere. And, arguably, one of the prettiest. My breath never ceases to be taken whenever I stand at the headland looking down over Merewether, across the gorgeous new SurfHouse, down past Dixon to Bar Beach. It's stunning. It's one of the reasons why we moved back to Newcastle 11 years ago.

When we moved to Sydney I thought we'd never come back here. But in the few short years we lived in Newtown and then Bronte Newcastle started experiencing an incredible renaissance. Darby Street swelled from a couple of restaurants and a cafe to the fabulous eating strip that it is now - and that confidence has now spread across the town. People are doing great things - which is inspiring others to try as well.

We are spoiled for choice. When I want to catch up with a friend for coffee we can easily rattle off a list of 10 cafés to meet at. Easily. And we've left off loads. Sure, we have our faves {often ones without the annoying parking metres out the front that double the cost of your latte} - but there are still many on my must-try list.

And fine dining? Woah. Where do I start? I think what makes Newcastle's dining scene so exceptional is the genuine delight the chefs have in their food and in their town. I follow a few chefs on Twitter and love checking out their pics where they're foraging for Samphire off the Newcastle coastline to feature in that night's dishes. Tim Montgomery from Bacchus {which would have to win some kind of prize for the country's most stunning restaurant, with an inspired menu to match} showed pics the other day of the community garden they're working on near the cathedral - talk about herbs with a view! And every time there's a glowing article about Newcastle {and there are MANY - the secret is out} the chefs and cafés are the first to sing each other's praises.

We do cool things in Newy too. Like this:

This is the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery cocktail night for The Archibalds. Local restaurant Silo, on the grittily-pretty Honeysuckle harbour, supplied the cocktails and fingerfood for the night. While local artists and a subject discussed their work. Brilliant. Unique. Novel. I can't wait to see what they come up with when they expand.

Here's a pic from one of my fave nights recently. The Roost Creative {a Renew Newcastle project} came up with a brilliant idea to host an exhibition at Good Brother café - featuring local business Sid Cohen's rubber stamps. It was called Good Rubber and a range of fab artists redesigned their art for a new medium. Rubber stamps. So. Much. Talent. The night went off. Over 200 people RSVPd on facebook saying they were coming and the people spilling out onto the sidewalk pretty much backed up those numbers. The joy in the room was palpable.

At the end of the night most of us trekked down to The Terrace Bar, the newest small bar to open in Newcastle. It was like stepping into a very cool party. There was a DJ spinning vintage vinyl, with tunes from the 50s, and loads of sharp-dressed guys and gals dancing up a storm: complete with authentic moves. Can you imagine? Joyful.

I love new ideas, new concepts, new things to do. Last Saturday night was the first Darby Street Bohemia Festival - so we went along. We saw a lot of cool things. Like this:

Look at the love and care put into the stall at Blackbird Corner. Vintage tablecloths, gorgeous bunting, fabulous smiling faces. It's people like these that make this town a true pleasure to live in.

And it continues. Work is currently taking place in the old ANZ Bank building in Newcastle, turning it into a small bar. Excitement doesn't quite cover how I feel. And it won't be the last. While we continue to enthusiastically support these new initiatives, more will be born. How GOOD is that?

Here's the latest article, complete with food recommendations by chefs. Great, now I have to add MORE places to try...

Love this city. Do you? Share your tales here. Go on - hit me with MORE places I need to try.

Monday, August 27, 2012

meal planning monday

Can you smell spring? I can. Whether it’s the longer days, or the jasmine that’s just starting to pop or something else completely undefined – warmer weather’s on its way. So here’s a trans-seasonal meal plan, especially for this weather.


One of my friends on Twitter mentioned chicken pie the other day, and it got me hankering. So I’m going to make chicken pot pies tonight. With mash, peas and corn.


It’s my daughter’s long ballet class tonight, so I should make her a meal she loves to come home to. She’s a HUGE Shepherd’s Pie (pictured above) fan so I’ll make that and serve it with broccoli, carrots and some roasted pumpkin and sweet potato.


I haven’t made homemade pizza for a few weeks. So let’s have those shall we? With salad.


I have exercise class till 7pm so hubby and daughter can whip up some chicken and avocado burritos for dinner. With a corn salsa and a large salad.


I have a niggling feeling that I have something on this night, but nothing’s on my calendar. Let’s hope a reminder pops up. But, until it does, I’ll plan a simple meal anyway: my version of Nigella’s Spaghetti Carbonara.


Surely it’ll be bbq weather by now. I need a bbq. Pork ribs, a simple rice salad and lots of greens in a salad sound about right to me.


I’m almost over Sunday roasts – so let’s give it a final grand hurrah shall we? With a standing rib roast with all the trimmings. Complete with roasted carrots, parsnips and beetroot too. Yum.
So that’s our week, how about you?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

happy weekend

Hey, how NICE is it that it's the weekend? Super-nice I reckon. We've had a great morning. Woke up, went down and watched the netball finals (where the team that knocked us out last week had a surprise one point victory over the team who were expected to win - yay!) and then it was the netball team's end-of-season lunch at Grill'd. The girls hung out and ate burgers while a few mums and I had lunch at the café next door (prawn and ginger fritters - hello! - Lotus at The Junction does good lunch).

We're soon heading out to the Darby Street Bohemia Festival and then it's off to my in-laws who just came back home from two months in the UK (lucky ducks!). Then, tomorrow it's lunch for our niece's 18th birthday. Phew, busy.

Enjoy your day, and your weekend. I hope some of it involves time spend relaxing (preferably in a lovely swinging chair like this one - how NICE would that be?)

Friday, August 24, 2012

flowers for friday

I am feeling poorly today. Poorly. So I do believe that a nosegay of violets of lily of the valley and violets will cheer me up. Don't you think?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

crazy cute

In September these are coming to Modcloth.

Shortly thereafter they will be on my finger.

If my husband won't allow me to have a French Bulldog, the very least I deserve is a French Bulldog ring. Woof.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

a little vitamin d

I have been making a conscious effort to actually drag myself away from my desk and computer and get out into the sunshine for 15 minute stretches. So, each morning and afternoon I find myself here - sitting on a chair, with dappled sunlight dancing on the veranda.

It's not bad really.

ps: see that cyclamen? It's MONTHS old and still alive and flowering. I think it thrives on benign neglect. Watered when it droops, kept outside... loves it.

pps: see that bike? Must take myself on a ride on that tomorrow morning don't you think?

ppps: today I saw the first few purple buds on our wisteria. I may have squealed with joy. Spring, I'll be sooooo happy to see you.

Monday, August 20, 2012

meal planning monday

This whole speedy-gonzales-time-thing is doing my head in. Seriously, is it nearly the end of August already? Sheesh. Luckily we have a quiet week this week, so I'm going to make it simple food-wise as well. Here's what we're eating:

Monday: chicken kebabs, rice salad and steamed broccoli

Tuesday: I have my exercise class at 7pm, so I'll prepare a pasta bake we can all eat whenever we're ready. I made a tasty chicken and chorizo pasta bake last week that was so simple, and such a success I'll make it again.

Wednesday: No netball training this week. Sadly the girls were valiantly defeated in their semi-final. They played their little hearts out though and I'm ever-so-proud of them. I think I might cook up a quiche tonight - bacon will do. And serve it with a salad. That'll be nice.

Thursday: I'm off to a friend's house for a catch-up so I'll make some butter chicken for dinner. Serve it with rice and naan.

Friday: Don't you think friday calls for fish and chips? I do. So that's what we'll have.

Saturday: The Darby Street Bohemia Festival was cancelled earlier this month - but it's back on again tonight. We'll head out there and grab something to eat on the night. That'll be fun.

Sunday: We're going out for lunch for my niece's birthday today, so dinner will be light. Perhaps just a roast chicken and a simple salad.

And that's it. So, tell me, what's on your table this week?

Friday, August 17, 2012

flowers for friday

I think the thing that I love most about the end of winter is watching the red buds of jasmine start to appear. Of all the flowers, it's the scent of jasmine I find most intoxicating. I can't live in a house without jasmine. I need to pick a little bunch to pop in a teeny glass jar in my bedroom and breathe in the scents of spring before I go to sleep. Bliss.

Hey, guess what? It's friday! I know! Are you as excited as I am? I have a fun weekend planned. Tonight it's off to the opening of Good Rubber: an exhibition at Good Brother coffee shop planned by The Roost. It's all about cool works of art - designed for rubber stamps. How ace is that? I love this town!

Saturday's the girls' semi-final. They're pumped to win. Tomorrow they're spraying their hair red (the team's colours are red and white) and, if they get through to the finals - they're all dip-dying the ends of their hair red. Cute. They've worked really hard this year, they do deserve it.

Sunday my gal's going ice skating with a group of friends so hubby and I will probably potter in the garden. It's been a while as the weather's been so ghastly.

There shall also be champagne at some stage. After all, it's the weekend...


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

things that are awesome

So, I'm on Facebook the other day when this pops up in my feed. Straight away I squealed and knew I had to go. Lookit! It's Mumford & Sons - AND Sarah Blasko (and lots of other cool others, but hey, those two will do me). It's a full day camping event in Dungog, a lovely town I'm keen to revisit. And, guess what? There's GLAMPING! (well, I'm not sure how glamorous it'll be, but there is a VIP tent set up with beds and a lamp, that'll do - I'll bring my own champagne...)

Now, because we have a wedding on the South Coast the following weekend (with a groom who's a HUGE M&S fan who will be rather sad to miss this I'd say) hubby thought it best if we didn't toddle off and leave our child with his parents for another two days on top of the four we're away for the wedding... SO, thank goodness for social media. One of my friends, who's on twitter, also mentioned this, I said "I wanna go", she said, "me too", then another friend joined in and BAM. We have a team of four in a VIP tent. We've already thought of hashtags.

So, anyway, if you see #CarryOnGlamping trending on Twitter you know who's responsible. And sorry, you'll probably hear us squealing too. We're an excitable bunch.

Gee, as my friend A said on Facebook today - I feel like I'm 21 again. Dungog, you ready? Bring it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

meal planning monday

Whew, what a weekend. Lots of good food and good friends. Love. And I got VERY spoiled for my birthday. But it's a new week, so here's what we're eating:

Monday: Netball was cancelled on Saturday due to rain, so we're playing the game tonight at 5pm. Fingers crossed for my girls as this determines their spot in the semis - bless their little socks. We'll come home to chicken burritos I think. I'll just buy a bbq chicken and shred that and have all the fixings in the fridge for when we get home (guacamole, grated cheese, diced tomato and onion, shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa).

Tuesday: Did I tell you I've started a new type of exercise? Well I have, it's Burlesque fitness and I am in luuuuuuuurve. It's so much fun, with great music and the moves are awesome for my poor old back. I haven't been able to make a tuesday class so far, but tonight I can, but it's from 7 - 8pm so I'll need food fixed and ready for hubby and daughter when they get back from ballet class at 7.15. Let's go simple shall we: spaghetti bolognaise.

Wednesday: I didn't end up cooking the lamb shoulder last week, so I'll serve it up tonight. I'm a bit worried, as hubby has slow-cooked lamb shoulder at the pub on Saturday night and said it was D.I.V.I.N.E. Mine will be better. Served with mash and warm lentil salad.

Thursday: Burlesque fitness class for me AGAIN. And ballet for my gal. So I need another simple meal. Chicken and chorizo pasta bake will do us. With salad. And crusty rolls.

Friday: There are some amazing fish in season. I saw mackerel on one of the local chef's Instagram feed the other day so I might try cooking that. How? No idea. I might look to Jamie Oliver or Rick Stein for inspiration. When we were in Cornwall last year we had lunch at Rick Stein's restaurant and the mackerel I ate was amazing. I'll serve it with a risoni salad.

Saturday: After rejoicing so long and so hard about buying my paella pan I've only used it once. Best rectify that and cook up a paella don't you think? With lots of prawns and mussels.

Sunday: A simple roast pork will be nice. Rhubarb's in season, so guess what the pork will be sitting on as it roasts? Yep, you guessed it, a bed of rhubarb - makes for a caramelised rhubarb sauce that is to-die-for.

And that's it for us. What are your plans?

Friday, August 10, 2012

flowers for friday

I thought I'd do a special flowers for friday today as it's my birthday tomorrow {squeeeeeee!}. So I went back to my fave store in Paris Au Nom de la Rose and feature these beauties again. I will never forget that store. We stumbled upon it in The Marais, and oh, it was magical. Nothing but items devoted to roses. Real roses, rose candles, rose liqueur... the sight and the scent was just magical.

Red and pink roses also remind me of my last big birthday party - where I had a red and pink colour scheme {a combo I will never tire of}. Tomorrow will involve breakfast in bed, pressies, then netball, then lunch at Le Petit Deux. I'll just relax and read in the afternoon, then we're off to an Archibald cocktail party at the Art Gallery with friends. Once that's over we'll wander up Darby Street to check out the Bohemia Festival before having dinner.

Sounds like the perfect day to me.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

birthday wish list

Thank you Chanel for releasing this utterly glorious shade of blue nail polish just in time for my birthday. You really are too kind.

Monday, August 06, 2012

meal planning monday

Hey there, hello, and welcome to your monday. Hope all's well with you. I am coming down with a cold (insert sad face here) so am a bit snuffly and sorry for myself today - but I'll pick up. In the meantime, here's what we're eating this week:

Monday: A visit to the farmer's markets yesterday saw me come home with a rack of saltbush lamb. Have you ever tried saltbush lamb? Oh my it's good. It's fed mainly on saltbush and this gives the mea a unique, delicious flavour. I'll serve it with roasted baby blue potatoes (I found these at Coles the other day - and roasted some the other night tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and rosemary) and some wilted Tuscan cabbage.

Tuesday: Time to whip up another dish from my Leggo's Italian Cookbook - it's proving quite the hit. This week I'll make chicken cacciatore, buttered noodles, and steamed broccoli and carrots

Wednesday: netball training. Slow roasted lamb shoulder with lemon-roasted potatoes and lentils.

Thursday: Ginger and sesame salmon with wilted greens and udon noodles. I'll quickly marinate the salmon in a mix of oil, fresh ginger, sesame seeds and sesame oil before bbqing it. Then I'll cook up the noodles and throw the greens in at the last minute till they wilt. I'll serve the salmon flaked into pieces on top of the noodles and greens. I might even sprinkle a little more toasted sesame seeds over the top.

Friday: Off to a pre-birthday dinner at the local pub. They do awesome steaks – so steak it is.

Saturday: It’s my birthday – and we’re off to a cocktail party at the local art gallery followed by dinner in Darby Street.

Sunday: Because it’s moving into spring, I’m going to start up my Sunday barbeques. I think we might have pork ribs tonight, with apple and almond slaw. This is my simple, cheaty slaw: a bag of 'gourmet' coleslaw mix, apple cheeks sliced thinly and chopped whole almonds. For a dressing I like a lemon-rich vinaigrette, but a mayonaise with lots of lime works just as well.

And that's it. How about you? Tell me what you're eating this week.

Friday, August 03, 2012

flowers for friday

Now I know it's frost-as outside, but can't you just see Spring around the corner? I can. My roses are mostly little spiky sticks, but I can just picture the buds ready to burst forth. My irises are popping up, and, underneath the geranium I have an abundance of nodding snowbells waving hello in the breeze.

So, tonight hubby and I are off with friends to a French cooking class and three course meal. Can't wait. Our gal's off to her cousins for a sleepover - so it'll be fun all around. Then it's a Saturday filled with netball in the lead-up to the finals. Wish us luck!

What do you have planned?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

for me?

Look, Darby Street is throwing a Twilight Festival Bohemia for MY BIRTHDAY! How cool is that? Thanks Darby Street. Sure, ask them and they'll probably say "Wha?" "Whose birthday?" But I know... so thanks. And that's not all, there's also a cocktail party at the Art Gallery for the Archibald first - I know, Newy's just turning it on for my birthday. Best dress up all posh-like for it.

So should you.

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

mount washmore to molehill





Do you see this?

This is a pink smeg washing machine with a wee sink on top.

I do not care about costs, practicality or the fact that I actually love my Fisher&Paykel machine.

This, I need.