Friday, May 31, 2013

the great gatsby review

Well, last night I frocked up, tucked my hair into a faux-bob and went with my friend C to check out The Great Gatsby. It was a fund-raising night for the Newcastle Museum and everyone went all out with the clothing - including the fabulous F who had the most divine dress I'd ever seen on {she'd had a Great Gatsby birthday party a few weeks ago and bought the most legs-a-liscious dress I've ever seen to wear. Swoon!}

After a glass of bubbles in the foyer we settled in to see the film. Well, most of us did, some women to our left just carried on their conversation. RUDE!

If you love Baz you'll love Gatsby. He's returned to form with this film. It's visually sumptuous and the soundtrack is superb. It's not a musical, just very well-punctuated with great tunes. Joel Edgerton nailed the living daylights out of Tom Buchanan. From his opening scene when he rode into shot on a horse he reeked masculinity, danger, arrogance and sex. Brilliant. Leonardo DiCaprio was the perfect choice to play Gatsby, but it took me a while to see him as Jay rather than Leo. Daisy was played delightfully by Carey Mulligan. She was sweet, gullible and made me so frustrated I could cry. Her frocks were also utterly divine - she was a visual feast in every shot. Also she sure knows how to use those eyes of hers to great effect in some very understated yet powerful acting.

The script adhered nicely to the plot of the novel and I was left with the same combination of aching sadness and lightness that I felt after reading the book. I was also left with an unquenchable thirst for Moet which featured strongly in every fabulous party scene.

I also feel the need to dance - can someone throw a Gatsby-style party with lots of dancing, champagne and fireworks for me?

Recommended? Yes. Perfect? No, but neither was anyone in this film or the book. I think the book's done justice with this film, and I find that the more time goes by, the more forgiving I am of its flaws and embracing I am of its strengths.

PS: frock up before seeing it - you'll feel much better.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

when in paris

Next time we go overseas I want to visit Paris again. Surprise. It'll be my fourth visit, and there's still so much I want to see and do. I honestly feel like Paris is my spiritual home, I can never get enough of it. Just wandering around the streets, or having lunch in a café feeds my soul. If you're wondering about my must-dos for Paris, here they are {part one}:

• Catch a bateau bus on the Seine. These fabulous hop-on-hop-off boats are a great way to get around Paris via its most scenic route - the river Seine. There are stops at all the main places; the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Musee D'Orsay, The Louvre and it's a great way to enjoy a leisurely view from a different angle of Paris. You can buy a single day ticket and get off and on as often as you like. Parfait.

• Shop in the Galleries Lafeyette. It's just glorious, with a range of items - some normally priced, some astronomically. You can also have lunch upstairs with a rather fabulous view.

• Have lunch in the restaurant on level two of the Eiffel Tower.

• Visit the Louvre on the late opening nights (Wednesday or Fridays till 9.45pm). Want to see the Mona Lisa up close and without the crowds? Come late.

• Shop up a storm in the supermarket. Honestly, the bargains you can find in Monoprix supermarché will boggle your mind. From fabulous laguiole cutlery to gorgeous etched champagne glasses, there's no end to the divine homewares you'll find at crazy, ridiculously low prices. It's also the perfect place to stock up on champagne - at a price way cheaper than bottle shops. Clothing's also amazing. I bought a fabulous frock with a matching cardi on our last trip - and it's one of my faves.

• Watch a ballet or a performance in the Opera Garnier. Last time we went to the ballet and it was magical. Utterly magical.

• Wander the Marais. Here's another much-loved shopping spot. And I love the feel of The Marais. If I lived in Paris, this would be my arrondisment of choice. Hint: if you love something - buy two. Or three and ship them home.

• Eat a perfect macaron or pastry in one of the divine classic stores such as Laduree.

• Climb the Arc de Triomphe. We haven't done this yet - it's on the list for next time.

Fingers and toes crossed we'll be going again next June. Do you have anything to add?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

the perfect to-do list

So, I was having a coffee with a friend this morning {not in this photo here, this is on Friday at Good Brother - I just forgot to photograph my coffee this morning...} and we were discussing our search for the ultimate To-Do List.

You know the one?

The one that categorises everything perfectly, keeps you on track, oh, and preferably helps you expand time so you can get everything done.

I've spent far too much time on Pinterest looking for "IT".

I have spent far too much money at Kikki K hoping that I've found "IT".

Apps? I have a few.

Online programs? Yep.

Excel spreadsheets. Erk, but yes.

Really, you know what the perfect to-do list is? Just doing it.

Yep, writing it down, ticking it off and just doing it.

So I did.

And I feel much better now.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

high time for high tea

I do love a high tea. There's something so delightfully decadent about them. So, when I was invited to share the new High Tea experience at Anchorage Port Stephens, I cleared my calendar. And oh, I am so glad I did.

The room was glorious, and styled beautifully with delightful flowers in lovely vintage jars and vases styled by The Wedding Designer. And while the skies were grey last Friday, the view over the marina was just ever-so-pretty. What a gorgeous spot.

There are two options for High Tea, traditional - or with champagne. You know me, so you know which option I chose. Hello Piper Heidsieck.

Well, hello.

If you've never been one for Piper you'll be pleased to know it's undergone a reinvention - with smaller yields and longer cellaring - and the result is delicious. A full, slightly smokey champagne taste, with the most delightful little bubbles. I was also thrilled when the champagne was poured into a vintage-style bowl - rather than flute. And imagine how pleased I was when the man from Piper, Andrew Coorey, said that this was the best way to appreciate the flavour of a champagne and let it breathe after being cellared for so many years.


Look at the pretty teacups! Each table had a different, utterly glorious setting - way to make a gal feel spoiled and treated!

Decisions, decisions.

The tea is also bespoke, with an amazing range from Madame Flavour. We tried the Sultry Chai and Green, Jasmine and Pear. So light and delicate.

The menu was divine.  From savoury - OhEmGee pork, apple and sage roll with caramelised onion and roast pumpkin and feta tart!

To the sweetest red velvet cupcakes with persian floss!

Oh hai little strawberry tart!

A Lindt chocolate, hazelnut and raspberry brownie? Oh, if you insist.

All of these treats are freshly made by the very talented chefs on site. They do goooooood!

My verdict?


I'll be going back again. At $40 per head, or $60 with the champagne option it's the perfect treat for a girls-day-out. There's more than enough food to make a meal of it, goodness, our table couldn't finish our treats! And with only 40 seated in a room it's an intimate venue that's just perfect for the occasion.

High Tea is available at Anchorage Port Stephens on Wednesday and Sundays or you can make a group booking outside this time (hello perfect hen's do or 21st, 40th, or ANY birthday) Go here to find out more.

Oh, and skip breakfast so you don't have to skip any of these treats!

Monday, May 27, 2013

meal planning monday

After cooking in a commercial-style kitchen yesterday {cooking class - blog post to come!} this image leapt out at me. I think I could quite go for a kitchen like this - especially with those floor-to-ceiling windows. Oh my!

Here's what's cooking in my kitchen this week.

Monday: The rain's decided to come and play today - so chances are no netball training. Last week's green chicken curry with steamed green veg and rice was a hit - so I'm making it again.

Tuesday: My gal's netball training - and I'll be going along again to help them with a few things. We'll have spaghetti bolognaise when I get home. In fact, I'll start cooking it in the afternoon so it's rich and delish.

Wednesday: Burlesque class for me. I've got some peri-peri chicken breasts to make burgers with lots of crunchy cos lettuce and grated carrot.

Thursday: I'm off to the Newcastle premiere of The Great Gatsby. My friend C and I shall be glamming up and sipping champagne - so an early dinner is called for. Thai beef salad I think.

Friday: Hubby and I are off to the movies, to see a double-header of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs - retro! We'll quickly scoff down something before we leave - soup perhaps?

Saturday: I don't think we have anything planned tonight so I'll cook up a coq au vin.

Sunday: Salmon on the bbq tonight. With loads and loads of salad.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Flowers for friday

High tea prettiness. Blog to come...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, May 23, 2013

the right tools for the job

I like to believe that my house will be perfectly clean and tidy if only I have the right tools for the job. I'm reluctant to admit how long I've been searching for the "perfect" mop. So much so that I nearly spent $90 on a mop and bucket THAT WAS ON SALE two nights ago.

I didn't. I bought something similar-ish, but what is really just a modern-day string mop, from Woolies yesterday. It is a pretty pale blue and white though - and did seem to do a rather smashing job of washing the kitchen floor. Who knows, could it be the one?

I also finally bought a Dyson. My dream vacuum. And yep, it does work like a dream. But I'm almost too scared to use it - in case it doesn't live up to my extremely high expectations.

I know, weirdo.

Now all I need is to find the perfect duster.

Oh, and that cute lil apron the chick in the pic is wearing {I'll probably wear clothes under it - and not those heels, they're killers for my old floorboards.}

Tell me - have you found the perfect tool? What is it?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

feeding the soul

A few years ago I was in Newcastle and needed to buy a drink. The only thing opened was KFC, which was housed in the most glorious old building. I walked in, bought my drink and felt sad that such a beautiful building housed a brightly lit takeaway.

KFC shortly moved and built the largest store in the Southern Hemisphere {so not something to be proud of} and that fabulous building was dormant.

And sad.

But now it's happy.

Ever so happy.

You see, last week Soul Foods Café opened up and it is a delight!

It's filled with a gorgeously eclectic range of furniture - with an awesome range of seating options. From these fabulous princess chairs that my friend C and I sat in, to window seats with hessian coffee sack cushions, and bright red Tolix chairs. Fab.

And look at the details! Pretty red and pink salt and pepper shakers, and old apothecary bottles filled with sugar. SWEET!

The food? Oh, I'm glad you asked.




This is a butter chicken pie topped with sweet potato mash. It was awesome, but you know what was even more awesome? That pickled red cabbage and nashi pear salad. See those walnuts? THEY WERE CANDIED! Yep, coated in toffee. My mouth died and went to heaven.

Sweet vintage plates for serving too.

I like me some cute detailing.

This is pomegranate sorbet. It would be a sin not to try it. It was velvety smooth and bloody delicious. I think I might marry it.

Soul Foods is located at 227 Hunter Street, *just* before the Mall.

I think you should go there.

Monday, May 20, 2013

meal planning monday

What a wonderful weekend. Filled with five fabulous films that all made some kind of impact on my life - I've hit this week with a fresh sense of optimism and joy. And plans! Many, many plans. Speaking of which, here's a meal plan:

Monday: my netball training for my 10-year-olds (who, just quietly are on top of the ladder and doing AWESOME!) so I'll make a green chicken curry and serve it with rice and steamed green veg so it's ready for when my gal returns from ballet.

Tuesday: my gal's netball training. They need a bit more oomph, so I'm going down to do a bit of one-on-one training to help out the coach. When we get home we'll have pork schnitzel pan fried with pancetta, steamed green beans and roasted cubes of potatoes.

Wednesday: Burlesque for me tonight. Last week I made a really tasty spaghetti with chicken meatballs - I'll make it again. Really simple: chicken mince, grated onion, lemon zest and fresh thyme combined with an egg and panko breadcrumbs and seasoned. Then I made them into balls and baked till golden. I tossed orichette pasta with a jar of tomato-based pasta sauce with a couple of tablespoons of pesto, then stirred the meatballs through. Simply delish! Great served with a side salad.

Thursday: Baked salmon and salad.

Friday: How about some steak and salad tonight?

Saturday: I can't believe we don't have anything on. Hopefully that means we can get a few things done around the house. I'd love to get some gardening done, and a spot of painting in a few rooms. For dinner? Beef and guinness stew made into pot pies served with salad.

Sunday: Roast chicken and roasted veg.

Yep. That's it. You?

image: kitchen from - how much does that pop of red in the kitchen sing? Love.

Friday, May 17, 2013

flowers for friday

Hey Friday, how's it going? Well, it's got to be going well when I have pink and green roses in a wee little green vase from Blackbird Corner on my desk. How PRETTY! Oh, and when I have the opening of the French Film Festival to look forward to tonight it's even BETTER!

Enjoy your Friday - hope it's fabulous.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

it's only words

There are many rewards of being a blogger - the main one is the interaction. Remember this post? I was writing about the hidden gems of Newcastle {surprise!} and mentioned my favourite piece of graffiti. Well, imagine, just imagine my delight when I received the following comment:

"I painted the original "we will never again be together so young" with my friends on my year abroad at Newy uni. It was a saying in broken english by my german housemate, which kind of summed up the magic of our year abroad. I'm so sad that it's gone, but it's amazing that it keeps popping up again!"

Tears, tears I tell you.

I'd always wondered about the origins of this saying, originally written in beautiful white cursive script out on Nobby's breakwall. And now I need wonder no more.

I think the definition was even better than anything I'd come up with in my imagination.

So, for you, oh fabulous Anonymous one, here is the latest version that's appeared right at the tip of the breakwall.


Monday, May 13, 2013

meal planning monday

Just once I'd like a Monday to arrive without thinking "What? Really? Monday? Again?" Wouldn't it be nice? My week's busy this week, with a gazzilionty films this weekend at the French Film Festival - and the Shout Film Festival. Eep! Here's what I'm going to aim for:

Monday: my gal has millions of tests this week at school (well, three) so she's skipping ballet this afternoon (as it's two hours!) so she can study. Not what we'd normally do, but we had my sister-in-law and her two gals down this weekend which was unusual, so you've gotta roll with things. For dinner I have pork schnitzel from Aussie Farmers. I'll crumb them with panko crumbs, parmesan and lemon zest and serve them with mash and roasted brussell sprouts.

Tuesday: my gal has netball training. I have burlesque. Spaghetti with chicken meatballs I think.

Wednesday: I have a butterflied chicken I need to bbq. Best do it tonight.

Thursday: it's my mother-in-law's birthday so I think we're popping up to say "Happy Birthday". Early dinner of chickpea and pumpkin curry I think.

Friday: opening night of French Film Festival. I'll snack on the wine and cheese available - and a bucket of popcorn (healthy). Husband and child will make pizza.

Saturday: another film. I'll whip myself up a tuna nicoise salad. Husband and child going to in-laws for the night to see sister-in-law and two gals before they go back to England on Sunday.

Sunday: three films today, starting at 11am. Husband and child taking English rellos back to airport. Lordy knows what time I'll be home - but I'll grab Sticky Rice takeaway on my way home. And rest my rectangular eyes...


cute pic from housetohome

Friday, May 10, 2013

fabulous friday

Ahhhh, Friday, you saucy minx you. How GOOD is a Friday? Well, must say that mine's particularly good when it starts with a walk with a friend along Merewether to Bar Beach AND you see a massive pod of dolphins frolicking. Cuteness!

This afternoon I'm catching up for drinks with some of the lads from my old workplace, THEN I'm off to a games night with some of the gals. Yep, boardgames, drinkies and giggles. Sounds good to me.

PS: this pic? Lunch the other week at Le Petit Deux - gotta love a rose and a glass of vino.

Have a fabulous Friday x

Thursday, May 09, 2013

so, you want to join a bookclub

As you probably know, one of my 52 New Things that I wanted to do this year was to join a book club - and I did. Hurrah! With the help of Twitter there's a bunch of us who get together each month to chat about books. The first book, Little Bee, went down a treat. It was short, sharp and interesting. The second book, Anna Karenina pointed out to us the modern-day dilemma - no matter how beautifully a book is written, if it's over 900 pages and written in teeny, tiny font you are going to end up watching the movie version before book club.

And that's fine.

We managed to watch different versions - from the latest with Keira Knightley in the lead (weird casting. I can kind of get it considering how expressive Anna's eyes are meant to be, but she doesn't carry what she needs to for such a role) to my version with Sophie Marceau (beautiful) to the original with Vivien Leigh!

What I love about bookclub is that I need to make the time to read a book. Which I'll totally do with the next one: David Sedaris Let's Explore Diabetes in Owls (he's probably my fave male author). And I need to think about it. With Anna Karenina I didn't have time to think - I was too busy trying to speed read, or feel guilty that I wasn't reading!

I love how my friend C has set up the club. She emailed out a list of books: classics, modern classics and new releases and asked us what we really wanted to read. Then she set up a schedule (allowing extra time for Anna Karenina, ha!) and we organise to meet at a local wine-serving cafe on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Are you in a book club? What's your fave book? Have you finished Anna Karenina? (I haven't, I got 1/3 of the way through and I've naughtily moved on to Caitlin Moran's Moranthology...LOVING!)

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

a visitor-ready home

My aim is to have a visitor-ready home. You know, so if someone pops in I can happily invite them in and make them a cuppa.

My home at the moment is far from visitor-ready.

Events are conspiring against me.

Here's a room-by-room tour.

In my hallway is my new vacuum cleaner in a box {YES! I bought a Dyson!}, a box of recyling and my husband's second bike.

In my study is my husband's main bike, my old vacuum cleaner which finally died of {pretty much} natural causes, a filing box with a big stack of 3 years worth of bills to be filed next to it, a box with my daughter's old books in it, a stack of magazines I used to work on that need to be filed and random miscellaneous stuff.

These things are all out as I searched through the closet in the study for a receipt. Didn't find it, found all those things though...

The living room isn't too bad. But there are two phones that I bought to replace our old ones that are the wrong ones and need to be re-wrapped and placed neatly in their boxes to be returned. I've given up so everything's on the living room table. There are also shoes. Many of my daughter's shoes. Sigh.

Kitchen. You cannot see the kitchen island, it's chockers with paper that needs sorting. The sink is filled with freshly washed dishes as my dishwasher is broken!


The bedroom has three piles of folded towels at the foot of my bed, a box of netball stuff that was dropped at my house five weeks ago and needs to go to the club, a big bag of badges for player of the match for every team in the club (70) and piles of wrapping paper from hubby's birthday last saturday. Plus more, I'm not game to look.

Let's not discuss my daughter's room. Let's just say that if you're looking for a towel that is not folded in a pile at the end of my bed it'll be in her room.



Now, the reason it's like this is hubby was crashed into on his bike last week and his fingers are all mooshed up so he can't carry boxes. Hence the box in the hallway. The bikes? No idea - perhaps he thinks it's decor? My gal's been busy with school assignments, and apparently changing shoes every 15 seconds... And I've been flat-out with work.

So, power clean? 45 minutes per room between now and when my sister-in-law and her two gals arrive on Saturday afternoon? Can I do it?

Wish me luck.

In the meantime I'm going to close my eyes and imagine that pic above is my house - with perfect vignettes of pretty glassware rather than teetering piles of paper.

Monday, May 06, 2013

meal planning monday

Hungry? See that pic? It's the slow-roasted lamb shoulder (covered with herbs, garlic and orange zest and juice) that I cooked for four hours on a bed of onions. Then I served it with pomegranates and a butter bean, parsley, garlic and lemon salad. Delish.

Here's what we're eating this week.
Monday: netball training for me until 6.30, ballet for the gal until 7.10. So I'll whip up some homemade burgers when I get home. Lots of salad on them and on the side.

Tuesday: I'm back into burlesque. Honestly! So I'll make spaghetti bolognaise for dinner.

Wednesday: butterflied, marinated chicken on the bbq with salad tonight. And a warm lentil salad on the side.

Thursday: I think we need some ribeye steaks on the bbq. With a green salad (with watercress) and a warm potato salad (lemony mayonnaise dressing).

Friday: Salmon on the bbq. With salad.

Saturday: My sister-in-law from England and her two gals are coming down for the night. I'll cook up chicken pot pies with mash and steamed vegies. Both her gals love that dish.

Sunday: Mother's Day - who know WHAT my family will whip up for me. Or perhaps we'll go out to dinner, we'll see...

Have a fabulous week x

Saturday, May 04, 2013

my birthday boy

It's my lovely hubby's birthday today - so I handed over coaching duties of my under 10s netball team to the manager and my gal and I made him breaky in bed and we gave him his pressies. It's a family tradition - can't break that can you? Even the boofy cat jumps up on the bed to get in on the game.

We're about to head down to my gal's netball game, then we might just call in at the Olive Tree Markets for some lunch/cupcakes! Then, tonight, we're off to Restaurant Mason for dinner - cannot wait!

Have a fabulous day x

Friday, May 03, 2013

fabulous friday

Today's been quite the week for reflection. My brother-in-law's funeral was on Tuesday and yesterday Newcastle's much-loved Police Officer Tony Tamplin was laid to rest - with what seemed like the whole city coming out to show their respects. It makes you want to ensure that you're living your life as best you can.

So when I saw this poster, I thought, yep.

Love some wise words.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

a special delivery indeed

I received something marvellous the other day. A big, black hatbox tied with a hot pink ribbon. Inside were some pretties so fabulous I gasped, then applauded. It was an Everything's Coming Up Roses gift box - have you ever seen anything prettier?

It was from The Special Delivery Company - a rather glorious company that I think I'll be using regularly in future. There's a range of beautifully hand-picked and stunningly presented pressies for her, for him, for babies and for gourmands. I'm in love with the range on offer, filled with items that aren't readily available in regular stores.

And the packaging? Oh MY!

Quick, go to their website now. There's free delivery Australia-wide and you will absolutely swoon at what's on offer. It's such a beautiful idea, and so well executed.

ps: any of those gift boxes with the Papinelle sleep shorts also seem to have my name on them (if you're reading this hubby!)