Sunday, June 30, 2013

sweet sunday

We're onto Day 9 of rain here. Le sigh. But apparently it's set to clear by Wednesday, which is when we're headed to the Blue Mountains for a couple of days. Hurrah!

I've got a big blog post brewing before I leave - sharing the details of last night's secret supper club. It was incredible! Just need to try to do it justice.

French Word of the Day: montagne (mon - tahn) Mountain.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

half yearly report

Wowzers, we are pretty much halfway through the year. How did that happen? Now funnily enough, I was planning on assessing how well I was going with my 52 New Things and then there was a comment yesterday from Lorrie reminding me of my French Word a Day.


So let's see how I'm going shall we?

Let's start with what's going well. Making the bed every day is pretty much a given, aside from the odd day or two. But considering I went from never, to virtually always that's pretty good!

I took a cooking class with my friend A, and it was fabulous. Shall be doing that again one day.

I've been discovering new music, probably not one a week, but I've added quite a few to my list, including wunderkind George Barnett (whose version of Get Lucky may even be better than Daft Punk's!).

Go on more dates with my husband. This is a big YES! Tonight we're going to an Underground Epicureans secret supper club where we'll be dressing up big time and having a blast.

I've organised another Newy Tweet Up for Twitter peeps. We're having NewyTwistmasInJuly next month! Yayness!

I've been pretty good at putting away the washing. Not great, but better than I was. Probably 60/40.

I've been trying to up the vege ante in my husband and daughter's diet, which has coincided with trying new recipes. Husband is now a fan of roasted purple cauliflower and brussell sprouts cooked in chicken stock and then baked. Daughter, well, we're still searching for her fave...

See more live music - oh this is a YES! Sarah Blasko next month, The Breeders in October, and we're taking the gal to see Harrison Ford, the winner of The Voice, in November.

I'm also shopping locally more often, hence last night's enormous pork shoulder from the butcher. It was delicious!

Start saving for our holiday next year - yes, this IS happening!

Join a book club! Yes! This afternoon we're having our fourth meeting, and I'm loving it.

So there you go, that's 11 out of 52. Not bad. Now I just need to get back on track with French Word of The Day and a few others.

So let's start now:

French word of the Day: souper (supper!) to have supper. (Pronounced super!)

Have a fabulous weekend x

Friday, June 28, 2013

fabulous friday

The sky has been very grey lately, and, along with it, so has my mood. So I thought I'd post this pic from my ride the other week to remind myself that there is beauty out there. It's just behind the grey clouds...

Monday, June 24, 2013

meal planning monday

How on earth is it Monday again? Does anyone have some kind of magical stop-the-clock machine? It's nearly midway through the year for goodness sake! Hmmm, I can't turn back time, but I can plan this week's meals. Here's what we're eating.

Monday: I'm going to flatten and marinate some chicken breasts and then grill them tonight. What am I marinating them in? Hmmmm, perhaps olive oil, lemon juice and zest and herbs de provence? I'll serve it with a salad and roasted cauliflower.

Tuesday: a quick steak and vegies meal is in order for when we get home from netball training. I'll prep the vegies early on by par-boiling them, then I'll sprinkle them with herbs and throw them in to bake for 10 minutes when we get home. Carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin and potato. With some green beans on the side.

Wednesday: I think I'll make a quinoa salad with roasted vegies tonight. And serve it with poached chicken? Yes?

Thursday: homemade corn cakes with bacon and guacamole. And salad tonight.

Friday: fish, some kind of fish. Grilled with herbs. And salad.

Saturday: we're FINALLY off to another Underground Epicureans adventure tonight, somewhere with a supper club feel! Exciting!

Sunday: beef and guinness pot pies, mash, peas and roasted carrots.

Phew, am exhausted just thinking about all this! What are you having?

image from

Sunday, June 23, 2013

illuminations - positively luminescent

If you follow me on Instagram you'll see that I spend quite a bit of time photographing the harbour, the ocean, clouds and sunsets. I'm always trying to capture that perfect moment that delights me - so I can share it with others. Sometimes I succeed, but it's always a two dimensional version of something spectacular.

So when I heard of the Philip Wolfhagen Illuminations exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery I was intrigued. The pieces of his work I saw in the promotions seemed to beautifully capture those moments that entranced me so. On Friday afternoon I was blessed with the opportunity to look at the new exhibition before it opened, and to speak with the man behind the works.

Philip Wolfhagen is Australia's foremost landscape artist. He captures those moments in time where nature, the light and the seasons combine to form the most exquisite scenes.  Wolfhagen then frames these scenes, gives them a personality and he takes us there.

This exhibition marks the first time that Wolfhagen has seen his works together in the one place - and he is suitably impressed. Newcastle Art Gallery has scored a coup is securing the opening of this exhibition, and I think it's an exhibition that Novocastrians will embrace as their own.

There's a luminosity to his work, that I've never seen before. Each piece is utterly delightful, and, when viewed en-masse it's an uplifting experience.

It's the shades that speak so eloquently to us in his art. Working from a palette of what he describes as the four primary colours: red, blue, yellow and violet, Wolfhagen can spend hours mixing colours on a large glass bench to find just the right hue. Often he'll try to replicate a shade used in one of his past works, so he'll mix, dab it on to the older painting, then smudge it off with his finger. If you look at his works in just the right light you'll see dull patches where colours have been tried, tested, then tried again.

Working from a combination of memory, photographs and notes - Wolfhagen captures a new side of the Australian landscape. It's not the sunburnt country of old, but something vibrant and luminescent. This is a fresh view of Australia: a rich meld of violets, blues, greens and their many silvery tones. Landscapes are seen anew through Wolfhagen's eyes. They're complex, with layers and hues that change with our moods and the eyes we've viewing them through.

The luminosity in Wolfhagen's work lies in his techniques and the manner in which he mixes the paint using ancient techniques and a little something special. Beeswax is mixed with the oil colours before painting and this technique really helps the works glow, giving greater depth and luminosity to the colours and textures. The fact that there are no readily identifiable landscapes in his work means that its possible to place yourself before the painting, and feel like you're engulfed in the landscape. There's a chance it's reminiscent of a cloudscape you've experienced, somewhere you've stumbled upon in your travels. If it's somewhere you haven't been, it's somewhere you'd like to be.

These works are rare in that they offer much to the experienced art lover, but also form the perfect entry point for those who feel they don't really 'get' art. There's an accessibility to these pieces, with a work to touch every heart. Spanning decades, it's fascinating to see the progression of his works. One of my favourite duos is Transmutations no 1- solid (1997) and Transmutations no 1 - liquid (1997) where Wolfhagen has taken a solid landscape, and transferred the shapes and forms into a seascape. Walking around the Gallery Wolfhagen told me that Transmutations no 1 - liquid comes from a private collection on Martha's Vineyard and it took a lot of negotiation to get it to Australia. I'm glad they succeeded, the colours in this piece are simply breathtaking, and the transformation from solid to liquid is stunning.

Wolfhagen says that it's his most minimal works that please him the most. Working with a simple three colour palette there's an extraordinary complexity and depth to the more minimal works. The First 5 Days of April, 2011, is a stunning example of this. One scene, over five days, with many, many moods and hues.

Wolfhagen's paintings are not only influenced by what he sees, but by what he's experienced. I think that's what makes them so extraordinary and enjoyable. Wolfhagen is enthused by what he sees, and wants to share his vision with us through the art of landscape painting.

I'm so very grateful that he did.

Illuminations by Philip Wolfhagen is on display at Newcastle Art Gallery from June 22 to August 11. It will then tour Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory, NSW and Victoria.

images are copyright Philip Wolfhagen

Friday, June 21, 2013

and the winner is...

Well, using Random Number Generator I have drawn the winner of the High Tea for Two at Anchorage Port Stephens and the winner is Erin! Hurrah!

Well done, you'll have a fabulous time. Email me your contact details and we'll get the prize sent out to you. Thanks everyone for entering - I think we'll have to organise a girly high tea get-together in September - what do you say?

Enjoy your Friday x

Thursday, June 20, 2013

you light up my life...

Well, you light up my city. I am super-excited about City Evolutions lighting up Watt Street. Newcastle's oldest street and surrounds will be lit up with a range of exciting light installations. Art! In lights! On the streets! Bring it on.

You coming?

To find out more, go here.

Friday night shall be fun, with market stalls, extended trading and just lots of good stuff. Can't wait!

Monday, June 17, 2013

meal planning monday

Oh, morning, how's things? I'm a bit sleepy, a bit snuffly, and a little bit frosty. Brrrrrrrrrrrrr. So this shall influence my meal planning today. Here's what we're eating.

Monday: I have netball training sessions from 4 - 6.30 tonight - eep! So I'm making a big pot of chilli con carne for dinner. I'll serve it with brown rice (the cheaty microwave packet).

Tuesday: chicken noodle soup is called for when you are snuffly. I have some garlic shoots I bought from the farmers market to slice into it. Mmmmmm.

Wednesday: burlesque tonight, so we might have steak and salad for dinner. Nice and early.

Thursday: it's my netball meeting this week, not last week. So I'll make an early dinner of chicken meatloaf with mash and steamed vegies.

Friday: my gal has a school dance and hubby and I are off to the opening of Watt Street Illuminations - where Newcastle's oldest street is lit up for a whole year. There is music, food and lots of fabulousness. We'll eat there, my gal can have pasta and pesto before she heads out.

Saturday: it's the Travelling Film Festival this weekend - lots of fabulousness from Sydney Film Festival. I shall be attending as many as possible, but am also going to an Art Opening at 2pm. I'll cook up some chicken kebabs with salad and a rice pilaf tonight.

Sunday: more film fest I'd say - so homemade pizza will be squished in amidst the viewings.

Done. You?

image from

Friday, June 14, 2013

{high} tea for two - for you?

Hey, remember how I went to a High Tea recently? Didn't it sound amazing? Didn't you just wish that you could frock up and share the experience with a fabulous friend?

Well you can!

I have a Decadent High Tea Experience for two at Anchorage Port Stephens to give away!

To win, simply write me a comment below and I'll choose a winner at random next Friday June 21 at 4pm.

So if you are happy to travel to Port Stephens one Sunday please enter - it's a lovely spot. The prize is valued at $80 and is positively scrumdiddlyumptuous!

Happy Friday lovelies x

Thursday, June 13, 2013

vintage pretty

I went into a pretty new store in Newcastle's Hunter Street mall the other day. I had to share it with you.

It's filled with vintage prettiness.

Rows upon rows of the pretty! 

And some new treasures amidst the old. You foxy thing.

I love, love, love the decor created by that genius Tim Neve.

Everywhere you look is pretty, pretty and MORE pretty! 

I need some of this wallpaper in my lady's dressing room {ahem, yes, first I will need a lady's dressing room, but details people...}

The store's called Twice Upon A Time. Go check it out. And swoon.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

sweetly scented memories

I'm a bit of a perfume freak. I don't really like leaving the house without a spritz. I've been going through a bit of a rose phase at the moment, and my old Stella McCartney Rose Absolute is almost at the end of its life.

So I think I'll buy this when I'm next in Paris. Why would I not?

Monday, June 10, 2013

meal planning monday

Wowzers, how cool is a long weekend? Can we have one of these every weekend?

Here's what we're eating this week.

Monday: I have some chicken breasts that need eating, so I'll make schnitzel for dinner. With mash, corn cobs and green beans.

Tuesday: I bought duck sausages {DUCK SAUSAGES} from the farmers market. I'm going to serve them with pumpkin mash and roasted beetroot. And a green salad.

Wednesday: I also bought some lamb chops from the markets, so I'll make Nigella's Greek Lamb Chops for dinner. With salad.

Thursday: I have a netball committee meeting. Early dinner of chinese short soup made with chicken stock I made on Sunday night from leftover roast chicken. YUM!

Friday: I'm going to an art exhibition opening tonight, so we'll make homemade pizza on my return.

Saturday: my gal cooked dinner last saturday night from a cookbook - she can do it again!

Sunday: roast beef and lots of roasted vegies. Mmmmmm.


Image from

Sunday, June 09, 2013

happy long weekend

How NICE is a long weekend? No sport, no commitments, just three days to get stuff done and RELAX. My gal cooked dinner last night - a slowly braised lamb shoulder on white beans, simply delicious. Today we went to the Farmer's Markets for the first time in yonks, and now I'm just faffing around getting ready to go on a bike ride. Blissful.

Oh, yesterday my gal and I went to the movies to see First Position. It was a documentary about six young dancers and their quest for scholarships, places in ballet companies or some kind of ballet future. It was riveting. For a start, I'm pretty sure that I saw the future of a young dancer who's bound to be the new Rudolf Nureyev - stunning. And a couple of other dancers who were just so talented/joyous I couldn't tear my eyes from them. I cried, held my breath, laughed and applauded. Brilliant.

Now, how much would you like a little getaway with this cutie above? I don't think it'd have a great deal of space inside - but look - cuteness! I found it on - my go-to site for prettiness.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend lovelies xx

Friday, June 07, 2013

Thursday, June 06, 2013

helena does elizabeth

I am ridiculously excited that Helena Bonham Carter is to play Elizabeth Taylor in a telemovie about the relationship between Taylor and Burton that reignited when they co-starred in the play Private Lives.

Please Australian television - bring this to me sooner than later.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

let's cook!

So, for Mother's Day one of my favourite gifts was a Passion for Pastry Cooking Class at The Essential Ingredient. As you might remember, a cooking class with a friend was one of my #52NewThings I wanted to do this year. So, luckily, my friend A also received the same gift {great minds whisper in their husband's ears alike}. We rocked up on a Sunday morning to this gleaming kitchen.


We made our way to our individual stations, all set up perfectly for us. {First important step of cooking: mise en place - making sure everything is ready and to-hand}. We would be making choux pastry for profiteroles and then a savoury pastry for a quiche.

Bring it on.

This is how chefs work. Everything prepared, measured and ready to go so you can just concentrate on cooking. Genius.

I've long been fascinated by the process of choux pastry, and watching a chef make it was rather fabulous. Check out that wrist action! Pastry's all about precision and patience. Precisely measuring your ingredients, and patiently waiting for the right moment to add your ingredients.

Here's the master chef at work. Note Jace's perfectly symmetrical and evenly-sized choux buns. Mine looked like little snowmen {because I made them too small first time around and had to add more}. There is a skill to wielding a piping bag. I've yet to master it, but I'm sure that practice will help me perfect.

And ta da! Filled with deliciously-vanillary creme anglaise and topped with a glossy chocolate ganache here are my profiteroles. Sure, they don't look *absolutely* perfect, but damn, they tasted like something straight out of a French patisserie. I am still chuffed to bits that I made something so deliciously fabulous.

I also made this little beauty - look at that thin, tasty crust! In this class I basically unlearned everything I'd learned about pastry in Home Economics at school and learned to make a pastry so light, so short, so damned delicious that every mouthful caused my tastebuds to sing and dance.

I loved the cooking class. It was a couple of hours of pure entertainment, I learned bucketloads AND I got to take home lunch and afternoon tea! So much win.

I'll be going again. Perhaps to the croquembouche class if I'm brave... Or I'll just choose something at random. The chance to learn from someone who's a master at cooking should never be sniffed at.

Find out more about cooking classes at The Essential Ingredient Newcastle here. Or do a google search to find one near you. Go on, you won't regret it.

Monday, June 03, 2013

meal planning monday

Hey all, how's your monday treating you? To a grey and frosty show? Mine too! So there's comforting food on the meal plan this week. Here's what we're eating:

Monday: Salmon patties with salad tonight. My gal has ballet and I have netball development clinics instead of netball training. So I'll make these this afternoon and whack them in the fridge, ready to bake when I get home.

Tuesday: I'm bored with everything I cook, so I searched for something new to whack in the slow cooker and found this recipe. You can't go wrong with chickpeas and chicken. I'll serve it with some yellow cauliflower! And broccoli.

Wednesday: I haven't been to burlesque for three weeks. I need to go - desperately. I'll make beef and macaroni pasta bake for dinner tonight.

Thursday: I have no winter clothes, my gal has no winter clothes - and we're off for a couple of days to the Blue Mountains in a few weeks. So we'll go shopping and grab something to eat while we're out.

Friday: Salmon on the bbq with steamed vegies tonight. I'm out for drinks with a friend who's up from Sydney for the weekend tonight. We'll hit The Terrace Bar like we used to in our youth.

Saturday: looooooooooong weekend! Hurrah! I'll cook something up with my gal. We'll hit the cookbooks to find something fab.

Sunday: roast beef, roasted veg, lots of red wine gravy.

And that's me. You?