Monday, April 29, 2013

meal planning monday

Goodness, it's already Monday. I swear my meal planning went out the window last week. I tried, but life conspired against me. I still have two lamb shanks in the fridge as I didn't make the soup I'd planned last week. I had no days when I was free to start cooking at 3pm. So that's today's meal. Oh, see that steak, frites and bernaise? Plat du jour at Le Petit Deux last friday with my friend C. That amazing meal and a glass of wine. Divine.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Monday: Lamb and chickpea soup. Really.

Tuesday: we have a funeral to attend. Sadly my husband lost his brother last week and we're laying him to rest tomorrow. It was a life cut short way too soon. We'll stay with his parents and family after the funeral and organise some dinner up there.

Wednesday: spaghetti and meatballs. I'd like to get back into burlesque classes again, so it's back to pasta on that night.

Thursday: poached chicken breasts in a vietnamese style salad.

Friday: salmon on the bbq with salad.

Saturday: it's my hubby's birthday - so we're headed out to Restaurant Mason for dinner. Hurrah.

Sunday: I have bookclub this afternoon, so I'll need something I can whip up quickly when I get home. Prawns and chorizo on the bbq will do nicely.

And breathe x

Friday, April 26, 2013

fabulous friday

Aahhh, last day of the school holidays. Bless. My gal's still asleep, despite getting back close to her regular bedtime. Bless her sleep socks. I've got a rather lovely day planned. Bit of work, lunch at Le Petite Deux with a fabulous friend, then more work. Bit of hanging out with my gal as well.

How pretty is this living room above? Don't you love how squishy and inviting that couch is? And that reading chair? To die for.

Have a fabulous friday x

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

someone's a bibliophile...

I came back from our holiday in the Southern Highlands with a couple of new books. Well, more than a few. See, Berkelouw in Bowral was closing down (insert sad face) and they had a 50% off sale (insert OH MY FREAKING GOD face). What's a gal to do?

Some of these authors I know and love (Siri Hustvedt, Adriana Trigiani, Augusten Burroughs) while others I'm keen to explore and rediscover (Colette and Sophie Dahl). There's light reading, a little art, and some mind food. All for just over $100.

I know.

I keep smiling and stroking them gently.

My precious.

Do you love books as much as I? Are you a one-book-at-a-time person or do you like to have a range on the go?

Monday, April 22, 2013

meal planning monday

Ahhh, there's no place like home is there? We had a fabulous holiday last week, but we're home again and I'm looking forward to cooking again in my own kitchen. So here's what we're eating:

Monday: It's school holidays, but we still have netball training. After last week's rich holiday meals I'll make simple grilled steak and steamed veg for dinner tonight.

Tuesday: It's soup weather now, well, just. I have an idea for a soup: chickpea and lamb shank. It'll have a base of beef stock, lots of vegies and a tin of tomatoes. Lots of garlic, some herbs and a couple of browned lamb shanks. It'll have to simmer for a good couple of hours to let the lamb fall from the bone. Then I'll add a tin of drained chickpeas and some baby spinach or baby kale at the last minute. Yum.

Wednesday: I'm going to flatten out some chicken breasts and marinate them, then I'll grill them on the bbq. I'll serve them with wilted greens and french lentil salad.

Thursday: It's Anzac Day so I've plenty of time to prepare something yummy. Perhaps beef and guinness pies?

Friday: Baked fish tonight. With lots of vegies and a salad.

Saturday: A chorizo and white bean bake. With kale salad should be nice.

Sunday: Roast beef. And veg. And yum.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

bliss of the bucolic type

Yep, looking at this view is no hardship. I'm now 1/8th of the way through my bookclub book. And loving it. Today we're off for lunch at Mt Ashby vineyards followed by a spot of shopping at Bowral. Ahhhhh, bliss.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

and away we go

We're about to hit the road, so I'll say farewell for what may be a week. I'll be sitting in this sunroom over the next week, reading Anna Karenina - and probably a few more books for good measure. It's a reading-a-book-kinda-room don't you think?

I love a good holiday, and boy, it's been a while since the last one.

Have a fabulous week x

Monday, April 15, 2013

{faux} meal planning monday

It's not really meal planning monday as we're off on holidays tomorrow and the only plan I have is to cook as little as possible! We'll be driving up that tree-lined-drive tomorrow to fave getaway place. A holiday house we've been visiting with our friends since 2009! The only plan we have is for a duck confit and champagne night on arrival, locals pizza night at the pub on Thursday - and a dinner at Eschallot in Berrima on the Wednesday or Friday night.

Aside from that we'll wing it.


Bring it on Burrawang.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

and relax

While I do have a busy morning of netball planned, I do not have anything special to do this afternoon. So one thing that's on my must-do list is to sit down and devour this magazine. When you're busy it seems that putting things like lolling about and just reading goes right at the end of the to-do list. It seems selfish. But oh, how important is it to just relax and do something for yourself?


So I will.

Friday, April 12, 2013

flowers for friday

A friday as fabulous as this could only deserve the prettiest of parrot tulips don't you think? How gorgeous are they? Can you imagine them en-masse, say 3 dozen of them in a bowl? Oh my.

It's my gal's last day of school before the holidays today. Next week we're off to fabulous Burrawang in the Southern Highlands for a week. BLISS.

Tonight I'm off to French Fridays at The Tower Cinemas - French films via Alliance Francaise. Parfait. I'm taking my mum and step-dad tonight, trying to squish in as much quality time as possible while they're up here.

Have a fabulous weekend.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

yes, perhaps i will...

Well, my heart's a little sad today. Last night Newcastle City Council voted 7 - 6 to halt work on the Newcastle Art Gallery. But there's a glimmer of hope in a motion that was put forward first. A working committee will be formed and they will lobby the state government for the $7million that we need. Newcastle asks for, and receives, so very little. I hope we can get this.

On a brighter note I'm taking my parents into the Art Gallery today to see the magnificent Macquarie Chest exhibition. The best thing that we can do as a community is show our council that we DO use this facility and DO need it expanded.

Meanwhile, how fabulous is this image and words. It was on the fabulous Cooks Hill Books and Records facebook page last night and made me feel better immediately.

Oh, and after the Art Gallery I'm taking my parents to my favourite place - the breakwall out behind Nobbys. Yep, that'll make me feel MUCH better.

Monday, April 08, 2013

meal planning monday

Oh boy, have I been gallivanting lately. I've been here, I've been there, and I've always tried to frock up appropriately. See that outfit above? That was for sunday's Newcastle Writers Festival. The first session was Pride and Prejudice so it just had to be vintage lace. And red patent mary janes. There is no other choice. The weekend was fab, but oh, my house is paying the price. There is washing piled on my bed, and in the machine waiting to be hung. The floors are a disgrace and are causing me to look upwards when I enter a room just so I don't see them. However, we do have meal planning to save the day:

Monday: tonight my parents have finished their trek north and back in the Kombi so thus starts a week of vegetarian eating. I didn't know this last night when I bought some chicken so I'll be making chicken with 40 cloves of garlic with soft polenta for us, and roasted vegies to serve with soft polenta for them.

Tuesday: I'm going to the Council Chambers tonight. The rescission motion to stop work on the Art Gallery redevelopment is being voted on and I want to show my support. We'll have mexican when I get home. Hopefully I'll be celebrating as the council votes to progress with redevelopment. SURELY!

Wednesday: I think I'll make a lovely spinach and feta filo pie with salad. Yes.

Thursday: I have a netball meeting, so I'll whip up a vegetarian pasta dish to have beforehand. Perhaps grated zucchini, lemon zest, garlic and persian feta.

Friday: We'll go out to dinner. To Merewether Bowling Club to Osteria.

Saturday: bbq - vegie and meat-lovers.

Sunday: pizzas!

And that's it. Sound okay?

Saturday, April 06, 2013

be inspired

I knew I was going to love seeing Miriam Margolyes open the Newcastle Writers Festival. But I did not expect to fall deeply, head-over-heels for her. I didn't expect that I would soar to dizzying highs of hysteria, to tears of empathy, to clasping my hands together in sheer delight.

What a magnificent woman.

What presence.

What a voice.

What a face.

What a once-in-a-lifetime-experience.

When Rose-Marie Milsom, organiser of the Newcastle Writers Festival spoke she said: "Once I had Miriam, I knew everything else would fall into place."

No wonder. Miriam took us all into her heart, and had us eating from her palm. Speaking of Why Words Matter, Miriam said: "Voices and words are what truly connects us as human beings. Clearly words matter dreadfully; they express joy, anger and passion. Vowels carry the emotion, consonants carry the sense. So it's important to not mumble!"

My favourite quote was this: "The arts hold the soul of a nation which is why it is CRIMINAL to reduce their budgets. Let's get that into the heads of the government and councils." This was spoken to tremendous applause from an audience clearly in favour of the Newcastle Art Gallery Redevelopment, and still in a state of shock that some of our councillors don't understand its value.

What a start to a fabulous festival, all the product of one person's passion, and a powerful team behind her. Bravo Rose-Marie, and thank you for organising this rather fabulous festival. I can't wait to see what else it has to offer.

Friday, April 05, 2013

flowers for a fabulous friday

Look - peonies! Aren't they pretty? I'm in the mood for some pretty to help boost my happy mood even higher. See, tonight the Newcastle Writers Festival starts, and I am beside myself. There's so much awesome happening that I'll be skipping from fabulous to fabulouser! (why on earth is that not a real word? Honestly English language...)

Are you in Newy? There are still tix available for some events, including MORE tickets made available for the super-popular Pride and Prejudice session (so popular I'm wondering if they've got a wet-white-shirted Mr Darcy appearing...). Plus, there's lots of free, free, FREE sessions. Go here to check it out.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone. (ps: yes, I may have used up my 'fabulous' quota... oh, too bad, fabulous is as fabulous does!)

image from

Thursday, April 04, 2013

missing in action

Hi, well, how was that long-long-weekend hey? I appear to have made it a super-long one by not blogging - how rude of me! But I'm back now, and I just thought I'd fill you in on what I've been up to. What I've been up to is being outraged about Newcastle Art Gallery.

Do you have a cuppa? Settle down, it's a bit of a story.

Now, you may have noticed that I'm *quite* the champion of my hometown. I've seen it grow from an industrial town, to a thriving exciting city full of promise. There are people here who make things happen. So many new cafés and restaurants opening that even I can't keep up (and I try, oh my, do I try).

So I've been excited to follow the progress of Newcastle Art Gallery. It was opened in 1977 and has had very little done to it over time. No major upgrades, no increase in storage space to keep up with our $80 million collection, just the bare essentials. Over the years the Foundation and staff have lobbied for an upgrade, for more space, so they can showcase more than 1 - 2% of the collection. So they can host major touring exhibitions and attract more people to the gallery and increase revenue.

Excitingly plans were approved. A DA was granted in March 2012 and things started to roll. The new plans are detailed, not only is there more storage space and exhibition space - but there is the opportunity to raise more revenue through a café and an Art Gallery Store (don't underestimate the money-spinning abilities of these. Think of how many times you've gone to an exhibitions and wanted to take home a little something to remember it by).

So work commenced, plans were drawn up, funding was allocated - Newcastle Council has had $7 million set aside for a number of years, complete with between $1 million to $2.2 million raised by the community (these figures vary, I'm unable to track down an exact figure - but it's at least $1 million raised by the community). The Federal Government committed $7 million to the project and the final piece of the puzzle was for the NSW state government to chip in with $7 million. It's not much, the Art Gallery of NSW has plans at the ready for expansion - at the cost of $400 million.

But now all that work seems to be naught. We have a new Lord Mayor, elected under the premise to "Get the job done". Right from the early days he appears to have had an issue with the Art Gallery redevelopment. At the start of the year he raised an alternative proposal. Rather than redevelop the existing gallery, we should move it to the heritage former Post Office. It's just lying neglected. Brilliant! But Newcastle Council doesn't own the Post Office - it's owned by NSW State Government. And the University of Newcastle have the first option on the Post Office, should they wish.

Oh well, another solution. Let's merge the Art Gallery with the adjoining Library building. That'll give it all the space it needs. Here, I've had an architect draw up some plans.

Um. Great. And the library?

We'll move the library to the Post Office.

Um, the one we don't own? The one that's been lying vacant for years and will require between $6m and $15m to restore and bring up to standard?

These options rightly didn't fly. So did our Mayor do his civic duty and stick with the current proposal? No, he resigned from the steering committee, before seeing that the project had detailed drawings and was costed to within the $21 million budget and now he's putting a rescission motion before council.

Basically the rescission motion calls for all work to be stopped on the Art Gallery until the council "is in surplus and in a position to proceed". No date. No idea of when, just some time in the future.

Now, apparently the council is in a negative position financially and fiscal restraint must be applied. Fair enough, it's time to look at what can be done. But does it make sense to halt ONE project, one that has already commenced? One that's had money set aside for a number of years, including money from the community, and has raised $1m in interest on these funds? Are other projects, including McCloy's pet project of 'revitalising Hunter Street' also being halted? I can't find the answers to these questions.

This reeks of petty politics and I won't stand for it. Newcastle is sick to death of being treated as undeserving. We deserve this Art Gallery that the staff and supporters have fought so hard for. We deserve the tourism dollars it will bring in, and we deserve the cost savings that a new, energy-efficient building will create.

There is community support too. Have a look at this facebook page which has 293 likes in just over two days. This issue is not about fiscal restraint, this is about pitting us and them.

This is how the street outside the Art Gallery has looked for over a year.

Newcastle deserves so much better than this.

If you live in Newcastle, or you are a supporter of the Arts, please let our local councillors know. Here are their email addresses. The councillors behind the motion are Jeff McCloy, Lisa Tierney and Andrea Rufo.

C'mon Newcastle, let's get mad as hell, we're not going to take it anymore.

Monday, April 01, 2013

meal planning monday

Good afternoon! Sorry for my tardiness, we've been away at my in-laws and I'm just back on deck. Here's what's on the meal plan this week.

Monday: tonight I'm off to Movies in the Vineyards again to see Rocky Horror (so excited!) My friend S and I have booked a hamper, so I'll be supping on popcorn with truffle butter, gourmet sarnies and some kind of awesome dessert. I know, it's a tough life. I'm making a double-batch of bolognaise for the gal and my hubby.

Tuesday: it's my gal's netball training, so I'll make a pasta bake with the leftover bolognaise. Serve it with a green salad as a nod of my head toward health.

Wednesday: I'm going to make caramelised pork with udon noodles. Why would I not?

Thursday: I haven't made chicken schnitzel for yonks. Best. And serve it with lemon roasted potatoes and lots of steamed greens.

Friday: I'm off to an art exhibition at The Lock Up tonight. Homemade pizza is a good dinner option.

Saturday: I know there's something I should be cooking. Lamb shanks perhaps? With soft polenta?

Sunday: BBQ time. Squid and chorizo perhaps. With lots of salad.

And that's it. Woo hoo. You?

French word of the day: horreur (hoh- rer) horror, in honour of my fave film.

image from