Sunday, December 29, 2013

52 new things

Okay. Here's the list for 2014 - 52 New Things! Ta da!

  1. Ride my bike on more varied routes {I do love my trek out to Nobby's breakwall, but perhaps it's time to mix it up}.
  2. Go for a family bike ride!
  3. Bake bread.
  4. Make cheese!
  5. Go for a nighttime swim in the Ocean Baths or Bogie Hole on a hot summer's night.
  6. Take REAL photos! I got a digital SLR for Christmas and I plan on using that baby!
  7. Learn French. Quickly! I need to find an intensive course, I have six months to improve.
  8. Have my girlfriends over for cocktails by the pool.
  9. Organise more drinks parties.
  10. Learn crochet, knitting or sewing with my gal.
  11. Ride the Fernleigh Track. I think I'm nearly fit enough.
  12. Do some yoga with my gal.
  13. Go on more dates with my hubby.
  14. Weed out my wardrobe. Ditch the old stuff, and sew/buy some new.
  15. Continue to find new ways to increase the vegetables in husband and child's diet.
  16. Do something that scares me.
  17. Write those e-books I've started.
  18. Bring a smile to someone's face every day.
  19. Keep discovering new music.
  20. Get a damned mammogram - honestly, I didn't do this one this year. I'm a nincompoop.
  21. Give blood monthly.
  22. Organise my files on my computer. Blerk.
  23. Save like a maniac for guilt-free spending on our OS holiday.
  24. Sell or give away on Freecycle all superfluous items.
  25. Print out photos from our OS holidays, frame them and hang them.
  26. Make a start on painting the house {well, at least the fencing on the verandas!}.
  27. Get back into the making the bed every day habit.
  28. Create new and interesting salads.
  29. Clean out the DVD and CD drawers!
  30. Eat out more often, supporting locals!
  31. Shop as little as possible at the supermarket, choosing small and local instead.
  32. Get those weird, pesky jobs done - such as putting handles on the wardrobe that's in my study!
  33. Catch up more often with my friends from far away {um, Sydney, and Melbourne…}
  34. Blog more often {poor, neglected blog!}
  35. Learn something as a family {the other two were not keen at all on this last year, but I shall find something, oh yes I will}.
  36. Go out and take pics with my gal. She's studying photography as an elective, and what better way to learn than to do!
  37. Go back to looking on the bright side. Politics have got me down. But I can still fight for what I think is right and not allow myself to be brought down!
  38. Start plotting a bathroom makeover {once we've had our holiday and can save enough for it}.
  39. Find alternative lunches for my sandwich-loathing gal. Something new.
  40. Get those weird little places in my house sorted. We have a really cute lowboy in the alcove outside the bathroom. My plan is to place a couple of baskets on top, for towels, and fill inside with excess bathroom stuff. Instead random crap gets piled on top. Must measure, buy baskets, and get this sorted. Stat.
  41. Go around the house, gather all the random piles, jars and cups of coins, and take them to the bank - hello OS spending money.
  42. Repair those items of clothing that are filed away under 'to repair'.
  43. Do something with the ideas buzzing around in my head.
  44. Find and nurture collaborators.
  45. Go to burlesque fitness each week.
  46. Read books somewhere other than bed.
  47. Do another course at the Hunter Writer's Centre - the Travel Writing one was ace.
  48. Do some travel writing.
  49. Make an effort to dress up regularly.
  50. Do something spontaneous and awesome!

a year in review {a very brief one}

Last year I decided that I'd ditch the New Year's Resolutions and, instead, came up with 52 New Things thanks to a friend on Twitter who did the same. Now, while I certainly didn't achieve every one of those 52 things, I came pretty close, and I think 2013 was more awesome for it.

Amongst the best things:

  • starting a book club {my friend C organises it and loads of friends, new and old, from Twitter are in it - it's been brilliant}
  • catching up with friends more often
  • seeing more live music
  • be a tourist in my town
  • put away the washing when I bring it in {well, most of the time}
  • do a cooking class with a friend {so much fun I am still giggling!}
  • go on more dates with my husband!
  • organise another tweet up {we had TWO}
  • save up for an overseas holiday - tick! Yep, we've booked five weeks next year OS. We're going to spend time in England with the relos, then a week in Paris with friends, then a week down south in The Lot - near this gorgeous town above. Then back to London again. So excited!
I love having a plan, but the best thing about 52 new things was that it made me even more open to trying new things, and experiencing something different. I was more likely to say 'yes'. I saw lots of movies with my friend C that I probably wouldn't have chosen to see, and LOVED them. I made time to see as much of Newcastle Writers Festival and This Is Not Art festivals when they were on, even though, at the time, it was exhausting and a whole weekend away from my family. But I still have a buzz from them, and so many great memories with my fabulous friends.

Stay tuned for 2014's list of 52 New Things. Some from last year will be on there - but there'll be some new ones too.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

have yourself a merry little christmas

Well, here we are - Christmas Eve! Are you prepared? I *think* I am. I have all the ingredients I need {well, after calling hubby and asking him to pick up a couple of bottles of prosecco at Vintage Cellars on his way home from work} and all I have to do is wrap the last few pressies, do my Christmas nails {red with gold glitter tips!} and pack.

Oh, and bake a little.

And finish writing an article.

Then I can loll about on a fabulous wingback chair dressed in claret velvet, with my ermine stole flung casually just-so over my lap.


Have a simply beautiful Christmas. xx

Monday, December 23, 2013

merry christmas to all

Well hello, how's your Chrissie preparations going? Swimmingly I hope. We're pretty much set, aside from one last grocery shop {which I'm trying to plan to avoid the hoards - is that even possible?}. I'm not doing a meal planning post this week, as it's Christmas, but I thought I'd share the recipe for the Christmas crackers I'm making for Christmas Eve supper at my in-laws.

I did a trial run a few weeks ago for Christmas drinks at my neighbours, and think I only need to add an extra layer of filo to the centre to have them perfect! Here's how I made them.

Cute sheets of filo in half, brush with melted butter, and place one sheet over the other.

In the middle third place a piece of pancetta or proscuitto. On top of this, add a dollop of the following:

  • ricotta cheese
  • goat cheese
  • lemon zest
  • fresh shredded basil
  • freshly grated pepper.

Make this to taste, I used more ricotta for a milder flavour, and I also used truffled goat cheese because I saw it in the supermarket and went "OHMYGOODNESS, TRUFFLED GOAT CHEESE!".

Roll up tightly.

Grab ends and give them a twist to form fanned out cracker ends. You could tie with a piece of chive if you're feeling like you have time. I never do.

Brush with melted butter and bake at 180 degrees celcius till they're nice and brown. Keep an eye on them - the ends brown quicker.


I'll be serving these with Pink Christmas cocktails: a few pomegranate seeds, a splash of rose syrup topped up with prosecco in tall glasses or champagne coupes!

Merry Christmas everyone, thanks for hanging around with me this year. I do so enjoy sharing things with you. xx

Monday, December 16, 2013

meal planning monday

Well, we're into the final countdown. It's nearly Christmas. How are you coping? Taking lots of deep breaths? I have a spray bottle of Rescue Remedy in my handbag that's getting quite the workout. However, it's all about simplicity this year. I'm trying to tone things down a bit.

I've bought all the pressies for our nieces and nephew, and Christmas pressies for our gal. Because her birthday's at the end of December I usually shop for her birthday AND Christmas pressies before Christmas, but this year I'm leaving birthday stuff till after Christmas. Should save a little sanity.

And speaking of simple, meals shall be simple too. Very.

Monday: poached chicken, avocado and mango salad.

Tuesday: thai beef salad.

Wednesday: spanish chicken salad: grilled, sliced chicken breast, chorizo, grilled corn, grilled capsicum and lots of greens.

Thursday: chicken and spinach gozleme.

Friday: salmon and salad.

Saturday: duck confit and salad {because it's nearly Christmas!}

Sunday: roast beef and salad.

Phew. Now I just need to shop and restock in preparation for school holidays which start tomorrow. Eep! How's your pre-Christmas week going?

image from

Sunday, December 15, 2013

i'm your fan

I've always *liked* Leonard Cohen's music. His voice has an incredible timbre that just gets more beautiful as the years go by. But I wouldn't have called myself a real fan, until recently.

My friend C asked a few months back if anyone was interested in going along to see Leonard in concert at his recent Australian tour, and I thought, "why not?"

I have a concert-bucket-list of bands/artists I'd like to see live, and, as so many of my friends had raved about him live {one of my friends has seen him in New York AND Berlin!} I thought I should. How glad I am that I did.

What a night. This concert will have to go down as one of the best I've ever seen. I love a performer that gives their all - and Leonard gives more than you think anyone possibly could. The crowd was positively enamoured: with sighs, screams and lots of singing along happening.

Worshiping at the altar of Leonard? Yep, I'm there now.

If you ever have the chance to see Leonard Cohen in concert, do what it takes to get there. He's Your Man.

Friday, December 13, 2013

fabulous friday

Ahhhh, how's the serenity? This was my view yesterday when I went with my mum and step-dad down to Merewether for a coffee. Afterwards we went for a wander down to the ocean baths where we saw this cute paste-up on the back of a sign.

My favourite place is the Ocean Baths - and this surf club. Pretty as a picture isn't it? The baby pool was devoid of water - but had sand-a-plenty!

I adore the new SurfHouse - the design, the positioning, the café, kiosk and pizza downstairs, the restaurant upstairs.

And the bar. Don't you just imagine it saying "Excuse my beauty"? La-la-love.

Oh I do love to live beside the seaside!

Monday, December 09, 2013

meal planning monday

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Especially when I share this pic of the rather decadent trifle I made yesterday. We had an early Christmas dinner with my dad and step-mum who were down from Queensland for my gal's ballet concert on Saturday. To give us time together, my mum and step-dad (who are staying with us this week) went to the movies - and we had a chrissy dinner.

I must say, rose and vanilla poached white nectarine and raspberry trifle is a bit bloody delicious. There was lots of vanilla - even in the whipped cream on the top {and in the custard!}. No jelly, I reduce the poaching liquid {water, sugar, vanilla, rose syrup} after I've poached the peaches, so it becomes a sticky syrup and pour that over the bottom layer of sponge jam roll slices. Mmmmm.

Tonight we're having the other half of that trifle - with a vegetarian Christmas dinner!

Monday: we'll stuff a hollowed out loaf of bread with layers of pesto, roasted vegies and feta cheese. This'll be weighed down in the fridge to squish it together so the flavours mingle, then we'll slice it and serve it with lemon-thyme-roasted potatoes and green beans with almonds. Then trifle.

Tuesday: we're off to a neighbour's across the road for Christmas drinks and nibbles. I'll make mini-bon-bons a proscuitto, herb and goat cheese mix encased in filo pastry and shaped to look like bon-bons. Then we'll come home for a late final dinner with my folks - mexican perhaps.

Wednesday: hubby will be craving a steak {surprise, when is he not?} so I'll cook steaks on the bbq {to which my daughter will say "Steak AGAIN?"} and serve with salad.

Thursday: netball committee dinner night out at MoneyPenny on Honeysuckle. Mmmmm. Hubby and gal will have grilled chicken and salad.

Friday: salmon on the bbq, with salads.

Saturday: I'm out with my gal-friends for a Christmas celebration. We're hitting a tequila bar and mexican place. Yummo!

Sunday: quiet night at home - and I'll be ordering thai takeaway!

That's it for me. You?

Friday, December 06, 2013

fabulous friday

My parents are up from Melbourne at the moment, so, amidst my work, I'm trying to squish in fun things to do with them. On Wednesday we went for a bike ride to check out some of the new Street Art in Newcastle {my latest obsession}. I love what's happening in Beresford Lane down in the West End. This piece is one of my faves - the exuberance and ridiculousness is just wonderful.

Today we're off to the Art Gallery where I'll be interviewing photographer Bill Henson, which I'm both nervous and excited about. I remember studying Henson's work way back when I was majoring in photography at Uni and being astonished by his painterly photographs. My parents will be coming along and checking out the four exhibitions on display at the Gallery while I'm being all journalistic.

Tonight my gal has a school dance, so I'll take my parents along to Darby Street After Five where we'll do some Christmas shopping, check out some of the fab buskers and grab ourselves something to eat.

Tomorrow it's Olive Tree Markets for more shopping, then my gal's ballet concert in the afternoon - before I head off to a friend's birthday party! Woo hoo!

Have a fab weekend everyone.

Monday, December 02, 2013

meal planning monday

Summer! Finally! {Hopefully!} Last Friday I went with my friend C to Christmas in the City and we were all rugged up and wintery to combat the endless drizzle. Not so good for checking out the Christmas lighting, but we did do a spot of shopping before accidentally catching up with another friend - and meeting our friend J when she made it in. Now it's finally looking like swimming and cycling weather - and bbq weather! Hurrah!

My mum and step-dad arrive from Melbourne tomorrow - so I'll be planning lots of vegetarian meals while they're here.

Here's what we're eating:

Monday: I'm going to marinate and then wrap some chicken breasts in proscuitto before baking them on a bed of french lentils. I'll also cook up some roasted vegies. I think I'll do this on the bbq  so I don't grotty up my still-sparkling oven after getting in cleaned two weeks ago!

Tuesday: parents arrive. Tonight's dinner will be orichette pasta with broccoli, caramelised onion, toasted pecans and crumbled roquefort cheese.

Wednesday: last week I went to my Bookclub for an end-of-year dinner to Talulah at The Junction. One of my friends RAVED about the pumpkin salad, while another raved about the pork belly. So I had both - and shared the salad with my friend L. OH. MY! Roasted pumpkin, quinoa, baby rocket, goat cheese and praline!!!!! all tossed through with what tasted like an orange vinaigrette. I shall try to replicate this tonight.

Thursday: we'll have a bbq tonight - lots of roasted veg and haloumi, along with chicken breasts for the meat-eaters.

Friday: we should go to the beach and have fish and chips {or potato scallops and chips for the vegos}.

Saturday: it's my gal's ballet concert at lunchtime today - so all the grandparents will be in the audience with us. I'll make an afternoon tea for everyone for when they come home. Then I'm off to a uni-friend's birthday party - with my friends V and M coming up from Melbourne and Sydney for the night!

Sunday: I'll leave this dinner up to my step-dad - he's an awesome cook. Perhaps I'll see if he can mimic the carrot and haloumi fritters from Quint Café at The Essential Ingredient. Mmmmm.

image from