Saturday, March 30, 2013

think pink

Of all the book publishers I think I love Penguin the most. Hey, I love the other ones too, particularly those that've published my friends, but I love how Penguin are always inspiring booklovers to fill their shelves with awesome.

Look at these! Pink Penguins! 12 classics with pink covers to help raise funds for the McGrath Foundation and breast cancer. Should I ever get around to colour-coding my bookshelf these would be first on my must-buy list.

French word of the day: bibliothèque (bib-lio-tech) - library.

Friday, March 29, 2013

fridays = fabulous

I always like to start a weekend off with something awesome on a Friday night, so, as it's a long, long weekend, it just had to be done on a Thursday night. So last night I look my gal, and two of her pals, along to Movies in the Vineyard. We saw the rather fabulous Oz the Great and Powerful on a big screen on the grass. It was awesome. Sure, it started to rain, but hey, we just had to throw our blankets over our heads and giggle a little.

I'm going again on Monday night with a friend. We're off to see my fave movie of all time The Rocky Horror Picture Show - weeeeeee! I've warned her that I'll squeal and probably clasp her arm every time Frank N Furter walks on screen (yes, still my original and best crush).

Today I'm off for a bike ride, then off to the movies again tonight with a friend. Indoors this time. My hubby's taking his dad to the football and my gal's off to a pal's for a sleepover.

Busy? Yep. Awesome? Always.

French word of the day: occupé (ok - you- pay) busy!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

the write stuff

I've never been one to attend lectures outside of regular schooling, but lately I've found myself stumbling upon a few artist talks - and absolutely loving them. So I am super-dooper-beside-myself-excited about next weekend's Newcastle Writer's Festival.

I love knowing what makes people tick, hearing what inspires them, getting a glimmer of inspiration from them and soaking up just a wee bit of their creativity. It's like watching cooking shows; most of the time I'm just sitting there, being entertained, but every now and again I learn a tip that makes my life that little bit better.

I've got tickets to four events, including the opening with Miriam Margolyes. I'm a bit starstruck and excited about this. She looks like a woman with a life well-lived - that's what I want people to say about me. I'm just about to go check out the program and see how much more I can squish in around netball (it's the first playing day so I have my 10-year-old team I'm coaching AND my daughter's team playing!).

Are you in Newcastle? Check out the programme, I'm sure there's something you'll like. In Sydney? Come up for the day, or the weekend. Click here for all the details.

French word of the day: écrivain (eh - cree - vah) writer.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

hidden gems of newcastle

I'm in love with cycling. More specifically, I'm in love with pootling* around on my bike just checking out all the awesome that my city has to offer. I've shared before about my favourite cycling route - but I took a few more shots the other day that I'd like to show you.

After pootling through the streets of Cooks Hill, and along the foreshore for a bit, I get to Nobby's sand dunes. Aren't they fabulous. PS: look what an awesome nature-painter did with the sky. I like.

Look at the fabulous shapes and structures that make up Nobby's breakwall. Aren't they just glorious? Oh, and that beach you see framed in the background is Newcastle Beach. Sigh.

Did I tell you that the breakwall is some kind of outdoor art gallery? Well it is. Look at this - stunning isn't it? There are also odd bits of graffiti, some a bit crap, but others quite magnificent. My favourite has been removed: "We will never again be together so young", but, like Eternity, it keeps popping up in different scripts, in different spots. It's determined.

I love to ride back by the harbour. I love the way the palm fronds frame the view. I also get a wee bit excited when I see tugs, either on their own or helping to haul in the bulk carriers.

Can you see now why I get itchy and twitchy when it's raining and I can't get for a ride?

*Pootling: riding along slowly, just enjoying the view.

French word of the day: équitation: (eh-qwi-ta-shon) riding.

Monday, March 25, 2013

meal planning monday

Helolo everyone, welcome to another meal planning session. (ps: helolo is how the cool kids are saying hello - sounds super-friendly non?) Here's what we're eating this week:

Monday: I have a friend up from Sydney tonight so I'll make paella for dinner. As I have netball training from 5.30 to 6.30 I'll sauté the chicken and chorizo and make the sofrito beforehand. Here's the recipe I'll (loosely) follow.

Tuesday: My mum and step-dad are calling in on their way up to Queensland for a Kombi get-together. Best make a nice, nourishing vegetarian meal for them. How's a roasted vegie frittata with lots of salad sound? Good?

Wednesday: panko crumbed pork chops and apple sauce, with salad.

Thursday: Hopefully we're going up to check out Oz The Great And Powerful at Movies in the Vineyards tonight. So we'll take a picnic dinner along.

Friday: Good Friday, so hey, we've gotta do fish. But maybe thai fish cakes with salad.

Saturday: 7 hour leg of lamb. With lentils, and roasted veg.

Sunday: Roast chicken and salad.

And that's it. You?

ps; the pic's from - loving the colander light fittings!

French word of the day: égouttoir (ay-gou-twah) colander.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

grey skies are gonna clear up

This was how I started my morning yesterday - with a big bowl of coffee. As you can see by the lip, I was too greedy to wait till I'd taken my shot before taking a sip. Look at it though - the siren song is irresistible.

We had our first bookclub meeting yesterday and it was a smashing success. My friend C did an awesome job of organising it, and it went so smoothly. We had great debate over the book, and bonded over things we had in common. There was only one person I'd never met in real life before, but, as we follow each other on Twitter we already *knew* each other.

Today I'm catching up with a friend for coffee, going to the farmer's markets, and going for a great, big, long bikeride this afternoon. And, as autumn's apparently decided to pass us by, I'll go for a swim too.



Saturday, March 23, 2013

moving forwards

Look what I bought! Wee fuzzy green bunnies! Aren't they just the cutest thing you ever did see? I saw them again at Essential Ingredient, and luckily they told me I could buy them just down the road at Blue Star Elements. So, naturally, I did.

And they bring a smile to my face whenever I enter the living room.


I had a day of leisure yesterday. I've just finished up a six-month contract with a local company where I overhauled their online presence. I worked on the SEO, came up with a redesign for the website (that the very talented in-house designer brought to life from my dodgy drawings) and worked on their social media. It was a challenge, and I succeeded, so woo hoo!

Now I'm back to regular freelancing again, writing, doing what I love. And I am so looking forward to it. I've tidied my desk and cleared my mind and am ready to move forward. But I needed a little space before diving back into it. So yesterday was designated PPMJ's Day Of Leisure*.

It started with those Gaytime Cupcakes I mentioned the other day. Yep, I had one for breakfast. With a friend.

Life's too short, sometimes you just have to have a cupcake for breakfast don't you think?

And then if you feel like ribs from Quint Cafe, well, don't you think you should just go and have them? And if you should also drop in and see friends in local stores - and probably buy a wee pair of bunny earrings if you see them. For your daughter. For easter. Shhhhhh.

And perhaps finish up with a spontaneous dinner at the SurfHouse with friends.

Yep, that's the way to do a Day Of Leisure.

*PS: this is totally inspired by my friend C who was a Librarian of Leisure when she came back from her OS hols for a week or two.

Happy weekend everyone. Regular programming including the much-neglected French Word of the Day resumes next week.

Friday, March 22, 2013

it's friday

Friday is always my happy day. It's the start of a weekend with two whole days and three nights stretched out before us. It's full of promise. I woke this morning with a smile on my face, and when I saw this image that Blackbird Corner posted my smile spread so wide I thought I'd burst.

The Cure always take me to a happy place. Their lyrics are just so darned lovely. And if you can watch the video for Love Cats without smiling, well, I don't even know what to say.

What music takes you to a happy place?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

life can be sweet and sour

What are your thoughts on the combination of savoury and sweet. I'm just asking because see those three little cupcakes all in a row? They're bacon maple pancake cupcakes.

I know.


On a cupcake.

And it's a little mouthful of heaven.


They're only available at Cupcake Espresso on Mondays and Tuesdays and I think they're something that everyone has to try once.

If you don't live in Newcastle perhaps you should come here for a holiday.

And a cupcake.

ps: They're bringing out Golden Gaytime cupcakes next. I know. I squealed.

pps: the bacon is candied and if you close your eyes, those cupcakes totally taste like a pancake. A great, big, fat American hotcake. If you come to Newy I'll come with to have a cupcake. I'm unselfish like that.

ppps: the other cupcakes in the pic? Well, since you asked, Lemon Meringue, Apple Pie and Vanilla.

Monday, March 18, 2013

meal planning monday

I'm feeling festive this week - so it's a party shot to plan meals to. Why not? Shouldn't every day be a celebration? Here's what we're eating.

Monday: my 10-year-old team's netball training doesn't finish till 6.30, and then my gal doesn't get home till after 7pm from ballet so I've got some honey soy chicken kebabs to serve with a rice salad.

Tuesday: my gal's netball training tonight till 6.30pm. I'm just going to cook steak and salad. Not on the bbq because the stupid gas bottle ran out about 10 minutes into cooking Sunday night's lamb shoulder. I discovered this about 45 minutes into the cooking time :(

Wednesday: I'm going to make salmon patties tonight. I have a tin of red salmon in the pantry, and can cook up some mash potato on Tuesday night. Easy-peasy.

Thursday: Homemade burgers tonight.

Friday: Lesley Taylor, the hatted chef from the former Restaurant Deux and head of Le Petit Deux is heading up the kitchen at my local bowling club apparently. It's an Italian-themed bistro Osteria. We'll go there tonight. It's a mere stroll from my house.

Saturday: we have nothing planned tonight. Nothing. Might cook up something lovely and slow. Osso Bucco? Lamb ragu? Whatever I make I'll serve it with soft polenta. Mmmmm.

Sunday: roast chicken cooked on a bed of French lentils. Yep. That.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

sweet sunday

On Friday I went out for my regular lunch with my friend A, with a Special Guest Appearance (yep, just like Heather Locklear in Melrose Place) by our friend C. We went to try out the ribs at Quint cafe (oh MY!) and as we walked through Essential Ingredient to the cafe at the back we saw these.

Wee fuzzy green bunnies!

We may have both squealed a little and said things like "ooooooh, lil green fuzzy bunnies" before pulling out our phones to Instagram them.

How cute are they?

How much do I need one?

Are they even for sale?

So many questions, and so much cute for a Sunday.


And happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

the kindest cut

This week two of my daughter's best-friends did the most selfless thing. They did the shave for a cure and had their long hair shaved to help raise funds for the Leukemia Foundation.

They're 13-year-old girls.

I can't help but tear up every time I think about it. What a wonderful thing to do - and how magnificent of their parents to allow them to do it.

If you'd like to donate to this cause or find out more, click here.

Kids these days huh?

Aren't they just wonderful?

Friday, March 15, 2013

flowers for friday

Excuse me, but how fabulous are these lil pretties? They're called Bells of Ireland and they were on the counter at III Bean the other day, making me gasp with joy.

I like unexpected beauty - and green flowers are the ultimate in unexpected don't you think? Normally flowers are about colour: pink, red, orange, yellow, white, purple... Green? Not so much. So green carnations, these pretties, green tulips or pale pink and green roses make my heart sing.

Happy friday lovelies - got anything fabulous planned for tonight and the weekend?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


How fabulous is a pop of colour? I love how in the 50s every outfit was accessorised with a slash of scarlet lippy. Whenever I go out at night the last thing I do, even after a spritz of perfume, is apply a red lippy. It's the ultimate finishing touch for me.

Are you a lippy gal?

Do you like a pop of colour?

What's your must-have to feel-fab? Lippy? Perfume? Cute shoes? Do tell.

French word of the day: bouche (boosh) - mouth.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

fluffy white loveliness

One of the #52NewThings I wanted to do this year was just make the time to look up and gaze at the sky.

Boy, am I glad I did.

Look at the Art Show nature puts on for us every day. And it's free.

How lucky are we?

French word of the day: plaisir (play-zeer) pleasure.

Monday, March 11, 2013

meal planning monday

Hi, how's things? All's pretty well in my world, just gearing up for a busy one. Here's what we're eating.

Monday: I'm coaching my new 10-year-old team for the first time from 5.30 to 6.30 today, so when I get home I'll throw some salmon on the bbq and whip up a quick salad. This should be ready for when my gal finishes ballet after 7pm.

Tuesday: my gal's netball team has training, which I'm helping out with. That's from 5.30 to 6.30 as well. I'm going to make Nigella's Greek Lamb Chops in the morning and put them in the fridge. Then, when hubby comes home from work at 6pm he can turn on the oven and pop them in and they'll be ready to eat with a green salad when we get home.

Wednesday: I have burlesque tonight - yay. I'm going to make a mince and pasta bake.

Thursday: First netball committee meeting in my new role as President - which means chairing the meeting. YIKES! I'll make chicken and avocado burgers for dinner tonight.

Friday: My gal and I are off to drinks at a friends with a few other mums and their kiddos. We'll take some nibbles and pick up thai takeaway for dinner.

Saturday: It's my last-ever Nobby's Lighthouse Cinema tonight. Last time my friend C made the most delicious zucchini slice - I'd best whip up something yummy to take along too.

Sunday: My gal and her team mates have a netball umpiring clinic in the morning, and we'll just catch-up on garden/house work in the afternoon. I'll make a butterflied leg of lamb on the bbq tonight. With a beetroot, walnut and feta salad.

Oh, and that pic above is from last week's spanish chicken - so easy, so delish.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

how sweet it is

Look at this. I ate this yesterday. After my lunch of corn fritters. Decadent non? But I had to celebrate chefs who take the time to handcraft goodies like this each day. It's from Cafe Mason, the teeny little cafe next to the hatted Restaurant Mason - remember those chefs from my last Underground Epicureans adventure?

It was the latest destination on my friday lunch adventures with my friend A. We're doing our best to try out every cafe in Newcastle's inner city and surrounds, tough job, but we like a challenge.

We also like a laugh, which is one of my most treasured aspects in a friend. If I can laugh well with you - you're a friend indeed.

I've been thinking lately how blessed I've been to find fabulous friends in real life and now on social media. My close friends from Twitter are like some special, shiny gift that I really can't believe I'm entitled to - but hug close to myself in sheer joy. Finding people that you just click with can be tough, but when you do - oh, you should treasure them.

I've found friends to laugh with, to share films with, to bond over books with, to dance with, to drink in wine bars with and just to share one-liner jokes on Twitter with {and sometimes those lines contain no words - just emojis}.

I'm feeling spoiled. I have a lovely husband, gorgeous daughter, pretty house, live in the best city in Australia and have friends who sparkle like diamonds.

Life's sweet isn't it?

Friday, March 08, 2013

flowers for friday

Isn't the light just glorious at this time of year? I snapped this shot off yesterday, because my roses were craning their necks over the fence to say hello.

The blue of the sky is different too - softer.

Hello Autumn, and helllooooooooo Friday.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

is it lunchtime yet?

See this? I had this for lunch yesterday. It's a slow-roasted lamb sandwich. That lamb just had to be cooked sous-vide as it was so tender it nearly made me weep.

Ps: how pretty is it? Look at those wee purple micro-herbs. You're probably not surprised to hear it came from III Bean. Love that place.

French word of the day: agneau (ong-new) lamb

Monday, March 04, 2013

meal planning monday

Hey, how's it going? Ready for another week of meals? Don't you wish you had that cream Aga in the image above? How good would meals be cooked in that little beauty? I don't have an Aga, but here's what I'm cooking this week:

Monday: Spanish chicken served with a green salad.

Tuesday: I'm off to burlesque tonight after missing it BOTH nights last week. So I'll make spaghetti bolognaise for dinner.

Wednesday: I think steak and salad tonight. Simple. Delicious.

Thursday: I need to make a chicken and leek casserole with herbed dumplings. I'll share the recipe when I've made it.

Friday: I'm off to check out Tim Rogers at The Cambridge tonight with friends. Will need fuel for dancing. Homemade pizzas perhaps?

Saturday: I haven't made a paella for 900 years, best rectify that.

Sunday: Slow roasted pork belly on a bed of green apples. With a green apple slaw on the side and some garlic roasted potatoes as well.

And that's it. Phew.

How about you?

Image from

Sunday, March 03, 2013

sunny {!} sunday

Guys! There's a little blue sky and sun!

What a difference a little sunshine makes. I'm washing up a storm and everything seems brighter again.

I also stumbled upon a movie yesterday that brightened my mood considerably. I hadn't seen it in yonks, and there it was, on my Foxtel. Sometimes serendipity places things in our paths that we need at just the right time.

Our gal went to a party sleepover last night, so hubby and I went to dinner at our local pub where I had a steak the size of my head. It was delicious.

So today, my mood is considerably brightened - and, thanks to my earlier blues, I'm appreciating it so much more.

French word of the day: nuages (new - ahj) clouds.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

i'm back {ish}

Hi, sorry for my absence, it's been raining on my parade all week and I feel all soggy and erky. Honestly, when Newcastle does rain - it does RAIN. Relentless, sideways, damp-causing rain. I know that those of you in drought-affected areas would love some of it - and boy, would I be happy to send it to you.

It's been one of those weeks when I've felt like the wheels have fallen off and I haven't really noticed and I've been pedalling on regardless. But don't worry, shan't wallow.

We've been getting the house back in order today, wrestling some of those massive piles of laundry into the machine {and probably the drier, sob} and making everything look pretty again.

Oh well, you've got to have some down times to appreciate the up don't you? Before you know it I'll be walking on sunshine again and dancing in those puddles.

Have a fabulous weekend xx