Tuesday, July 01, 2008

redecoration

I felt like a bit of a change was in order, and, as I'm poorly sick, lugging around the furniture in my house just wasn't going to cut it. So I've changed my blog. You likee? I'm slowly navigating my way through the technological stuff on blogger - see Nick, I've learned how to link! But I couldn't restyle my old page without a weird, 70s bridesmaid burgundy - and I only do burgundy in a glass, or over beef. So, old - you're outta there, and new, Hiya, how you doin'? I also put up a picture of me in glowing health - yes, a few glasses of champers may have been consumed before said image... don't you think that's the only way to appear happy and natural in a 'candid' shot?

I'm counting down the days till we leave on our winter holiday. A week in the southern highlands, friends, good food, red wine, champagne, schnapps... and I'll be taking along a few books too. I've got a pile of 'only good enough to read once' novels I'm going to sell at the 2nd hand store, and with the money I'll earn, I'll regift myself with a few second handies. I'm in an extraordinarily optimistic mood and feel quite certain that Julie and Julia will be on the shelves. After reading The Sharper Your Knife, the less you cry by Kathleen Flinn last week, I'm all over french cooking books. So J&J sounds perfecto. Fingers crossed!

I loves me a bit of posh

I was watching the Project Runway finale last night (Yay for Christian!) and fell a bit in love with Posh all over again. Is she the only white woman who can look good in orange? And to see the tender little love story blossoming between her and Christian was just so, so sweet. 

I'll never understand why I fall so hard for some celebs and loathe others so deeply. Liz Hurley for example - why does she still exist? I just viewed a picture of her going to one of Elton's parties and wanted to scream at my monitor... but I've lost my voice so I had to resort to gurning. But because I'm fickle it's entirely possible that one day Liz will do something to charm me and I'll revert to loving her forever. Not as much as I love Posh ('cause she's married to Becks so that's double the love) but still, there's the possibility of inexplicable fondness.

Pammy, however, oh Pammy, sit down. I'm proud to say that I haven't watched a millisecond of this series of Big Brother, and there's no way I'm tuning into the car wreck viewing it's bound to be with Pammy appearing. I used to love her so, but now, not so much. I do appreciate though that, as we're a similar age, she does make me look youthful and fresh (was is going on with her?) I would like to clarify that I'm not being ageist here. I'm happy that Pammy has said no to the bo (botox is satan's spawn - as evidenced by the judging panel on ANTM and all the other shiny, possibly happy, or maybe sad, people in celeb-land). Pammy, it's time to leave the house and quit drinking - you do remember you've got Hep C don't you? 

Monday, June 30, 2008

snot fair

I have a cold. My head's stuffed up, my ears are blocked, and apparently I swallowed a few dozen razor blades last night.

I need chicken soup. STAT. And a butler to bring it to me. Honestly, nothing brings out my craving for a butler more than feeling poorly sick. When you're poorly sick the last thing you want is to schlep out to the kitchen to fetch your own cup of tea - that only compounds the misery. However, having a butler to do your work... that's what I'm needing. And maybe a hairdresser's apprentice to come in and wash my hair. It's so in need of a wash that it's nearly felting, and yet, I'm just too poorly sick to make my way to the shower to wash it.

I probably just need to wallow in my misery for a while. That always makes me feel better.

Friday, June 27, 2008

my new best friend

I've often wondered who it would be best to befriend in the retail world, but I do believe I've uncovered the secret. I went to see my lovely, smiley butcher ('cause, you know, there is never another kind) and bought my Bangalow pork loin. I told him how I was planning to stuff it, so he butterflied it for me, and then made deeper incisions in the skin - for better crackling. I then, in my usual chatty way, told him how my daughter, of course, adored the crackle and then, bless him from the tip of his red head to the toe of his shiny shoes, he went out the back and handed over a slab of crackle meat (oh, all right, skin and fat) FOR FREE!

Now that's the way to a gal's heart - no wonder so many ladies love to bat their eyelashes at the man in charge of the mincer...

Doin' the blog do

Tell you what, writing my to do list on this lil blog is far more effective than on an old piece of paper - I've already:
found the recipe for tonight's dinner
filled a spray bottle with bi-carb, vinegar and water and sprayed mouldy shower recess
taken out the recycling
done the interview!

that was easy

I love to google. Within less than a minute, I'd found this - tonight's dinner ingredients. I'll pop down to the butcher for some sweet Bangalow Pork (tried it? You must!)
I'll roll it up, rub the crackle with oil and salt, truss it then blast it on high (230 degrees) for 15 minutes, before turning it down to 180 for 40 minutes or so (I prefer my pork on the rare side). I'll serve it with baked carrots, parsnips, onion, pumpkin and potatoes - and maybe I'll throw a few apples and pears in there as well. Why not? It's cold outside... And brussell sprouts with spec ('cause too much pig is barely enough!)

Gordon Ramsay's Roast Loin of Pork
1.3kg pork loin
zest of 1 lemon
handful of sage leaves
handful of flat parsley, leaves only
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper

panic ain't pretty

What are your options when you realise that if you add up all you've got to do and then subtract it from the time available you're in the red time-wise? It seems that the universe (or possibly my epic procrastination skills) are conspiring to entice me to have a conniption. I'm moving through life with a feeling of unease, as if there's something important, nay, life-threatening that I've forgotten to do. I think it's because I've slacked off on my To-Do lists. Without a list I'm lost. And it's not helping that my Leunig calendar is missing June 30. Seriously SMH, I can't lose a day at the moment - I don't even want a minute to go scarpering off!

I do believe it's time to hunt down a pretty, cupcake encased notepad (ooh, just happen to have one here...) and a pen that allows me to delude myself that my handwriting's legible and start on that list. But before I do, allow me to share with you a little of my day.
1. Interview Hapkido instructor 11am.
2. Finish and send off martial arts workout piece
3. Buy pork and vegies for roast dinner
4. Find Gordon Ramsay's stuffing recipe for said pork roast (I know it had lemon rind and herbs, what else? Would pancetta be overkill - stuffing pork with pork, is that kinda creepy?)
5. Pay bills (erk)
6. Wash towels (yawn)
7. Research allergy story
8. Get legs waxed (I know, it's winter, but I'm married, and I don't want to be Miranda)
9. Sweep and mop floors
10. Attack mould in the bathroom
11. Buy suitable healthy snacks for children having playdate this afternoon
12. Empty massively overflowing recycling bins (hint, they're not meant to resemble leaning tower of Pisa)
13. Buy cranberry juice to serve with vodka!!!
14... actually, that's all kinda doable

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Oh Oprah

Seriously, just sit down. I watched the "special episode" of Oprah featuring the gals, and guy, from SATC and never before have I so badly wanted to smash my television. Why does she bother to ask a question? Is it so she has the pleasure of allowing her interviewees their two to three word responses by cutting in with her own crap. Honestly, even stuff she has no idea about - I now know her opinions on.

She's now added to my list of people I just want to slap.
1. Rachel Ray - an Oprah discovery and undoubtedly the world's most annoying woman. Take everything you hate about Oprah, multiply it to the power of, oh, I don't know, say A MILLION, and you have Rachel Ray.
2. Katherine Heigl - my loathing for her grows every single time she opens her mouth. Whether it's to bitch about her husband, moan about her employers, or stick a disgusting cancer stick in it. I would really like her to go away. Now thanks.
3. Heather Mills McCartney - now, seriously, you don't need me to explain this one do you?

dirrrrrty

I do believe my house is channelling Christina Aguilera - it's grot city. Mould on the most unusual surfaces, along with the usual. There are dust bunnies on steroids. And a general layer of grime lurking on every single square centimetre. Seriously, I'm ashamed. 

How do people with whopping big McMansions cope? Or is it the age of my house (over 100) that creates more dust and dirt? (I know that's the theory.) And the crap - where does it come from. I swear I spend hours per day traipsing from room to room taking stuff from one place to another, and when I re-enter the rooms, there's crap everywhere again. Oh to be a proper domestic goddess - rather than just in my head.

That said, I am rather pleased with my hair today...

Friday, June 20, 2008

elegant

He's all class that Mulberry...

smug is

I was so proud of myself yesterday having everything organised. Typical. As I was walking out the door to do the school pick up I realised that my nostrils weren't being fondled by the scents of dinner wafting from the slow cooker. Oh, no. The ingredients I'd smugly bought the evening before were still in the fridge. Luckily I was only attempting to adapt a slow cooker dish, so instead, I've popped everything in the le Crueset - chicken thighs, quartered onions, potatoes and lemon, chunks of chorizo, diced red capsicum and sprinkled it with smoked paprika. To moisten it I tossed in some verjuice, cause that's what wannabe foodies such as myself have hanging out in the fridge. I've popped the lid on and have it slowly bubbling away on a low heat. Soon, I'll go in and pour a tin of cherry tomatoes over the top. I am utterly obsessed with tinned cherry tomatoes, they're like an attainable Johnny Depp. The tin's a gorgeous deep blue, and the tomatoes are the deepest, richest balls of ruby bliss. Plenty of salt and pepper on top of course - that's what the chef's do! 

Having stayed up till 11pm some nights, and nearly killing myself, I sent off the two articles that were due today, so I do believe a glass of wine or two is in order. I don't have any spanish wine, so it'll have to be French (sigh). We're off to Dan Murphy's tomorrow where we'll be stocking up big for our Southern Highlands winter holiday. A week, on a gorgeous stone and timber farmhouse, with an enormous kitchen, massive verandas... and going along with great friends. What's not to love?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

easy does it

I love, love, love to cook. Creating something that others can enjoy is one of my fave things to do - especially since I've re-entered the world of meat. But, when you're busy, what's a gal to do but think quick? I nearly did takeaway tonight, but realised that cooking spaghetti carbonara is way easier and cheaper than driving out in the rain for lukewarm takeaway. What's quicker than chopping bacon and garlic and grating some parmesan while waiting for your water to boil? I'll tell you what - sautéing up those babies while you wait for the bacon to crisp. Then it's a matter of whisking up a couple of eggs, seasoning and mixing it all together off the heat. Too simple.

Knowing I'll be busy the next few days I bought the makings for two other meals to cook in the slow cooker - beef ragu and spanish chicken. For the beef, a kilo of budget scotch steak, onions, garlic, tomato passata, bay leaves and red wine - all thrown in the slow cooker and simmered before seasoning. When I get home all I'll have to do is cook up some penne. 

Chicken's a matter of throwing together chicken thighs, chorizo, red onion, red capsicum, potato, lemon wedges, flat parsley, a tin of cherry tomatoes and some paprika. If it needs a little more juice I'll throw in some white wine (and sneak a glass for myself later...). Served up with a simple bowl of greens and some steamed rice (the cheat's version that's microwaved in two minutes) and dinner's on the table. Everyone's happy.

Just to show how quick and easy that is, I got enticed by an Italian-labelled lasagne tonight at Coles. It suckered me in with the King Island Beef on its logo. I thought it'd be a quick option for some night, but nuh huh. Preheat the oven, then cook for 35 minutes, then rest for 10. I might as well make the damn thing myself... That's not fast food - it's just zero preparation - and really, that's three quarters of the fun.

best blog friends

There's a whole new world of friendship out there and we have blogs to thank for it. It's perfect, 'cause you get to audition your friends first by trailing through their archives - just in case something erky pops up. 

While I've yet to make any blog friends, I've certainly had one-sided obsessions. But they're fleeting. My flirtations with blogsters start off hard and fast, then, one day, they'll post about an ugly shoe, reveal their lust for a dodgy band, or just post a picture I'm not happy with and poof - they're history.

I'm admiring my newest blog love from afar - I think she'd be scared if she ever found out how much she makes me laugh. Or maybe flattered, who knows?

Monday, June 16, 2008

best leave it for the pandas

I'm having tights issues. It's winter, and I don't do pants, so to keep my legs warm I need nice, thick opaque tights. But they're all crap. I hate this planned obsolescence thing. Once upon a time, with judicious care and washing, I could get a good season out of a pair of tights. Oh, and when Leona Edmiston first released her beauties I was in heaven - they were utter bliss with their super waistline that didn't pinch or scrunch. Now she's gone the way of all the others and after a few wears holes are appearing and the waistband is slackening. Cranky.

So, in keeping with my new eco-sensibility I bought a rather expensive pair of bamboo tights the other day - and they're crap. Sure, they're thick and warm, but they cling in odd spots and bag in others - and they developed a hole on first wear. Poop. Panda Poop.

that portrait

Some people age well, others, not so good... I've been pondering aging lately, as you do when you're in your forties. And seeing SATC again last night made me question it even more. Charlotte has not aged since Melrose Place - seriously, not a millisecond. How does she do that? Is is because she's so cute and perky? Or is it the yoga? Whatever it is, I'll have what she's having. She is the antithesis of my theory that people don't age in front of your eyes, it's only when you remove your glance for a few months or years that wrinkles, sags and lines appear. I hadn't seen her in ages, (rude!) and yet she looked as fresh as in the final scenes of the last series. 

Last night also gave me fresh shoe envy. I think you need to see the movie twice, to get over the shell shock of the first viewing. I still adored it just as much last night, and cried twice as much... I think my eyes have a leaking problem. 


Friday, June 13, 2008

note-worthless

It's tough to maintain a blog when you're doing absolutely nothing of interest. My life is meh. I did go out and drink too much champagne last night, but that's, well, welcome to my world. 

Oooh, I did realise that my fingernails are now so strong that I have no need for crab cutters to break into the shell of a blue swimmer. Nope, sheer determination and drunken doggedness to put something other than alcoholic bubbles into my body saw me snapping away like an overenthusiastic seal. Attractive. 

Here are a few other things I've learnt. Hangovers aren't aided by massive machines chewing and spewing the tar outside your bedroom window. Nor are they helped by not drinking ANY water before heading to bed. And waking up with your smoky eyeshadow intact - not attractive, just slatternly. I need bacon. And a Coke Zero. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

movie madness

I finally saw Sex and the City with 693 other women, and six men, the other night. Loved it (imagine that screamed out like Mario Cantone). The frocks, the friendship, Harry... although, what in the hell happened to some of the men? Big looked 10 years younger than he did at the start of the series (hello, eye surgery) and Smith looked 20 years older and mumbled his lines like a drunk (hello, substance abuse). Even his body looked soft and aged. 

I cannot wait to see the movie again, particularly as I have one of the few husbands who's actually keen to see it. I can only imagine how much extra I'll pick up without hundreds of women screaming with laughter, sighing, moaning (hello Dante...) and sobbing. Ah SATC you make me so happy...

the drought is messing with my head

I know that, strictly speaking, we're meant to be in drought but when you've had pretty much consistent rain for months on end it's hard not to be cynical. They've cleared our backyard and now we just need to wait for "a week of consistently dry weather" so they can excavate. HA! I honestly don't think we've had a few days of consistently dry weather in 2008. 

If nothing else it's inspiring me to look into a water tank - although, with our lack of space, I'm thinking of getting one of those bladder tanks that you put under the house and that slowly fill up. I'm just not sure what I'd use if for. I haven't watered the garden at all this year - and I think the only times I watered it last year were after I applied fertiliser. It's seriously sog-city in Newcastle. But is it bad to pray for a dry spell when so many are crippled by drought? 

Actually, maybe I'll just ask for the rain clouds to head west, or south to my mum's house where they've barely had condensation let alone rain.

Friday, June 06, 2008

just say non

I am so glad that I don't have people coming up and offering me crack. Otherwise I'd come over all Tatum O'Neil/Amy Winehouse/Pete Doherty... and that wouldn't be pretty. Seriously, I cannot say "No" - in any language. I'd like to, but I can't. 

I have an obscene amount of work on at the moment. Truly. And in the next few weeks in particular. Of course, this is when people start offering me more work. Labour intensive work. Work that means a lot of hassle, for a moderate reward. Now, do I say, "Oh, I'm so sorry, I'm flat out at the moment..." or do I say, "Uh, okay".  I'm apparently incapable of turning down work in case they never offer it to me again. I must say that the escalating costs of installing a pool and what appears to be kilometres worth of retaining walls in our yard has me eschewing sleep in favour of earning dollars too. 

So if I'm a little remiss in blogging - please forgive. I still love you...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

one more sleep

Tomorrow can never come too quickly. I am beyond beside myself at the thought of SATC. But how typical is this? It's raining, and reports strongly indicate it's gonna keep on raining for the next few days, weeks, etc. How in sweet Jesus' name am I meant to head out in my satin Manolos for the event? Can I seriously show my face in front of Carrie in gumboots? Or do I fashion little plastic booties out of freezer bags to pop over my shoes before entering? It's an issue - what would Carrie do?

my barren wasteland

Well, the backyard renovations are seriously underway and oh boy, does our yard look weird. It's all sort of bare and smooshed up, I can only imagine what it's going to look like when the excavators come in and carve out massive chunks. At least it's started though. Years of planning and dreaming are finally bearing fruit - although it's a kinda stumpy, ugly fruit at the moment. 

It was ever-so-sad to see the few trees we have coming down, but I am comforted in knowing we're planting bucketloads more, and ones that are actually suited to our area, and our hankerchief-sized yard. 

And yep, it's raining - just to make things even more mushy... 

Monday, June 02, 2008

be still

It's only four more sleeps till SATC and I honestly thought I couldn't be any more excited UNTIL I read that apparently a sequel is in the works. Oh, my heart. I know, I haven't seen it, and it's nearly killing me to avoid reading anything in case I accidentally read a spoiler - and the Sydney premiere's tonight, which means tomorrow at work I'll have to spend the day with my hands over my ears saying "LA LA LA" to avoid overhearing any gossip. 

Ps, I haven't bought any new shoes for months, think the drought will break the day after viewing the film? Highly probable.

home theatre

Saturday night, we're looking for a film to while away the hours and stumbled upon Waitress - what a delightful slice of fun. It was sweet, poignant, kinda sexy and yet also had moments of sadness. I'm also a sucker for a bit of gastro porn and the lovingly filmed pies had me simultaneously drooling and hankering to flour my hands. And Keri Russell? That gal was born to smile. I need to see more of her.

grow up

Sometimes I feel like an adult, while other times I'm still a frustrated child. I've got the grown-up house, and the grown-up backyard renovation taking place, but I've realised how totally crap I am at communicating with workers. I just can't seem to get the hang of "I'm paying you, to do this for me, and this is how I want it done." But I'm getting closer. I did manage to go out and speak to the men chopping all the green waste up and carting it off and tell them how low I wanted the final shrubs chopped - without even a hint of apology in my voice. Maybe, finally, at the age of 40 I'll finally grow up. 

oui, oui, oui

One of my fave mother's day pressies was French lessons for my iPod. Now we've set up the dock with the iPod in the kitchen I've been trying to browse through the lessons whenever I've got 15 minutes or so to spare. Excitingly, there seems to be a double benefit. Not only is my pronunciation totally rocking, and words are finally seeping into my memory, my kitchen's looking rather sparkly. Because I'm getting so enthralled by the lessons, I'm always looking around for something new to do as I parlez en francais. 

Fluent by 50 - that's my aim!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

don't wanna be straight

I went to the hairdresser the other day, which is a pretty big event considering they rank just behind clowns in scariness. But there was no cutting involved, just a good dye job. As they were washing my hair the hairdresser asked me if I wanted my hair blow dried straight, or if I wanted it curly. Now, I've had a head of curls for 40 years, so I was curious to see what would happen with straight hairs on my head. I've only had that experience twice before, once when borrowing a friend's waist-length straight black wig for a costume party, and another time when a friend tried out her straightening iron on me. I turned up at a bar that night and one of my male friends looked at me and said "go home and wash it out!"

So they straightened my hair, and I looked in the mirror, and this other woman looked out at me. I'm not quite sure who she is, but I don't think I'd like to see her again. I'm a curly girly. I like my curls, and my curls like me. I cannot believe the amount of women with hair that looks like it should be sitting on Pete Wentz's head who say to me "Oh, my hair's curly like yours, but I straighten it." Why? Why are we always trying to be something we're not? Why do we bemoan the size of our thighs and wish away the colour of our eyes? I do wish it hadn't taken me 30-odd years to appreciate the skin I'm in, but I do, every dry, lumpy, blotchy bit of it (most of the time). 

I washed my hair an hour ago and put in some extra curl cream. Just in case.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I need this

As if Dita's not perfect enough, say "Hello" to her clothed in my favourite fabric. That neckline to die for, or kill for, one or the other.

Sighing inside and out.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

on tippy toes

I used to be quite the greenie when I was a uni student, but over the years, kind of slacked off a bit. I think it all started with the scratchy, recycled toilet paper - some things you just need to be gentle! But now, with the whole focus on the environment, I'm steeping up my efforts again. I'm using pretty basic stuff to clean my house - generally white vinegar and essential oils - and a good scrub to double as a workout. I'm turning off lights constantly, which feels really good. I'm typing at the moment in my darkened study, and the only light on in the house is in the living room, where Annabella and Matt are watching telly. Annabella and I also walked to our local fruit shop this afternoon to buy our vegies for dinner - to go along with the meat purchased at the farmer's market. 

Today my vacuum cleaner decided to be contrary so I swept the house, rather than using the vacuum and it was strangely therapeutic and I really think it got the floor cleaner. Mulberry was also happy as he's developed an odd phobia about the vacuum (reckon my old cleaner donged him on the head with it at some stage, she was a cranky head).

When it comes to food choices I'm trying to shop locally: the organic shop up the road was finally braved, and it's really very good. The fruit and veg is delicious and reasonably priced, and the mean girl hasn't been there on any of my visits - just a very nice man. I'm also trying to use my local butcher, rather than buying meat from Coles - the less I visit there the better as every visit seems to cost the price of a bedsit in Darlinghurst.

Tomorrow will be the last load of washing I'll be able to hang on the Hills Hoist up the backyard - on Tuesday everything's going. I'll feel really sad about the three trees we're removing, but realistically, they're badly planted, in the wrong positions, and one's a noxious weed. Also, we might be removing three, but we're planting 24 Lilly Pillies and four Pear trees in their place, which more than compensates.

It's so exciting that the backyard reno is finally starting to take shape. After six years of living with a shocker of a backyard having something pretty and useful will be magnificent - and the pool will be bliss. I reckon I could even force myself to swim at this time of year - so long as the water temperature's okay. Summer can't come quickly enough - and as a true winter devotee I never thought I'd say that!

Friday, May 23, 2008

eating a garden

Food tastes better with flowers. My beautiful friend Amanda made us chocolate lavender cupcakes this week, and they were sublime. Adding lavender buds elevated the taste to a whole new level of deliciousness. Annabella said they were like "eating a garden" which I think is just gorgeous.

I also adore peaches poached in rosewater, and the other night I made a bread and butter pudding and spread the loaf with rose petal conserve, before sprinkling with grated dark chocolate and covering with vanilla-scented custard. 

Food should be more than just fuel - it should ignite every sense - which is why the marriage of floral and food is so delightful. Oooh, just picture vanilla pannacotta with violet petals on the top - drizzled with a violet syrup. It's a sweet life...

thirteen sleeps

Till my Manolos come out of their box in honour of the Sex and the City champagne screening. Very few events warrant their appearance, in fact, there's only been the debut. That said, I will take them out every now and again and gaze adoringly at their handcrafted elegance. 

It seems silly not to surround yourself with items of beauty, friends who make you laugh, roses with a scent (without, really, what's the point - you might as well grow daisies) and to make sure that everything you do enriches your life, or someone else's. I've made a vow not to buy anything unless I absolutely love it. If I need a new top, I need to adore it. Dita Von Teese (who I also love) once said that when she's shopping she dresses in her absolutely favourite items - and so if she finds something she wants to buy asks herself if she'd be prepared to swap it and leave behind what she's wearing... However, she probably has designers running up behind her in the street thrusting couture over her head. 

Life should be so sweet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

it's a skin thing

I have previously moaned about the trans-seasonal weather and the nasty things it does to my skin and hair - this week, it excelled itself. My skin was dry, red, hot and erky, with a texture that made me look like I was auditioning for the role of Leatherface's mother in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the portrait of Dorian Gray homage. Awful. I couldn't stop touching it and feeling almost awed by how the texture more resembled the sole of a foot, or perhaps a seal's butt, than the usual human face. So today, I moved into action stations. I vow, from this day on, to:

* take my Anthogenol skin tablets daily. They are miracle workers that can remedy any scary situation. 
* drink lots of water when I work from home.
* have bowls of water on my desk and in the living room to combat the air conditioning.
* use my dermalogica power vitamin mask weekly to boost my moisture intake
* stop using a dramatic array of products and stick to one brand at a time!
* eat oily fish twice a week even though it's winter (I'll do salmon en papillote in the oven, rather than on the bbq)

Must dash: I need to grab a glass of water.

Friday, May 16, 2008

spoiled rotten

I already thought my husband won the Best Husband in the World award when he bought me a pair of Manolo's for my 40th. Seriously, he could have stopped there and I'd still be smiling every day. But it just goes to show how far a little thoughtfulness can go. Last night, SATC came on and it was An American Girl in Paris: part two. The Finale - which I love, but I love part one more because of the frocks, and the grey frock in particular. My absolutely perfect husband (my Harry) had taped part one the night before, and didn't tell me until after I'd pouted, sighed, and cried with frustration at missing it. So I was able to watch part une, sighing and crying throughout, and it finished just in time for part deux. Thank you gorgeous man - you're the best!

sigh

Apparently I'm incapable of:
* Not crying virtually the whole way through the finale of Sex and the City - even though I've now seen it at least eight times.
* Packing away washing. I can wash it, hang it out, fold it, even put it in neat little piles according to family member and drawer (undies, socks, shirts etc) - but can I manage to put it away or do I keep taking it from the bed at 11pm and putting it back in the basket before popping it onto the bed in neat little piles...
* Starting work without checking my email, browsing through some sites and generally faffing on the internet.
* Not blurting out whatever's on my mind. I can only manage to maintain some form of decorum around small children, teachers and priests. My friends? Yep, you know everything about me.
* Having neat hair.
* Lusting after the grey Versace dress SJP wears in part one of the finale of SATC.
* Squealing at the thought of the SATC movie (in a SJP way)
* Not obsessing about a ton of things from SATC (for example - who do I love more, Harry, Steve or Smith... all have their virtues, but really, secretly, it's Harry all the way.)

carnivorous cravings

I was a vegetarian for 20 years and now I'm not. I am soooooo not. Despite brazenly stating I'd still eat vegetarian meals, while slowly introducing myself to meat, I've dived into the world of meat in a very big way. 

This morning I called in at the butcher and browsed the cabinets as if I were at Tiffany. I had a container of leftover slow-cooker sauce (tomatoes, red wine and french lentils) in the freezer so I needed some lamb for dinner. Having watched Gordon Ramsay do a dish last night with lamb neck meat I had a hankering for that cut - which, of course, is not a common cut in Aus. However, my butcher is getting to know me now and excitedly offered up lamb neck chops, which kinda look like lamb cutlets, but are marbled, and better for slow cooking. So I brought them home, browned them, and popped them in the sauce. Of course, this wasn't enough of a meat-fest so I sauteed some bacon and popped that in too. Yummo. All this by 10am so can you imagine it by dinnertime?

I was also tres excited to see Bangalow Pork is now sold mere metres from my home. My butcher had some divine Bangalow Pork Scotch Fillet which doesn't look anything like the usual pastel pork but is actually rich and tasty looking. I bought some of these to bbq with a marmalade glaze for dinner sunday night. I think I'll serve it with pumpkin mash and some wilted baby spinach - and then shed a few tears of joy because it's so divine.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I, I, I, will always love...

Some people, in my eyes, can do no right, others can do no wrong. 

People I will always love, no matter what (aside from family and friends, that's a given) are:
Johnny Depp
Posh and Becks (I know!)
Karl Lagerfeld
Maggie Alderson
David and Amy Sedaris and anyone associated with them
Audrey Tatou (yes, even despite the DaVinci Code)
Sarah Jessica Parker
Danny Katz

People I'll always loathe, and who'll find it very difficult indeed to win my affection (should they so desire)
Heather Mills
Katherine Heigl (should I ever meet her I would so mispronounce her name)
Rachel Ray

Obviously there's a theme - people who entertain me, I love. People who are fake (HM, KH, RR), Gold Digging (again, HM), or those who ravenously devour the hand that feeds them (KH) - just annoy the crap out of me.

technologically incompetent

Guess whether or not I want to be one of those people who can't download images, add links to my blog, or completely understand my computer. I don't - but I am. 

Today, for example, I'm faffing around, avoiding work, when I decide to browse through all the tabs across the top of my screen. Falling upon History, I open it up, see Clear History, click on it... and cause the world to end. Well, almost. See, it's just like in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, where obviously I was having a totally Keanu moment - you can't change history or bad things occur. In my case, the bad things are that all the fabbo blogs and sites I just type in by adding the first letter of the address have vamoosed. I'm distraught. And then that bad thing happens. You know the one? The one where you think you're typing in an address and you get directed to that awful Hellfire and Brimstone site - the dead scary religious one. Or, as I discovered today, some weirdo porn site. So not happy Jan. In fact, distinctly unhappy. 

I won't mess with technology again. In fact, I may well take it upon myself to read instruction manuals properly and learn how to do things with elan. Or just ask my eight year old to do it for me...

olden days

You know you're getting on when...
* two days after you dye your hair teeny new grey hairs start spouting around your hairline.
* your skin does so many crazy things (from scaly dry, to pimples that could shade a large family, to bizarre creases upon wakening... that are still there at lunchtime) that when you look in the mirror you move beyond "WTF..." to merely shaking your head ruefully.
* you don't get what teens are wearing these days. I swore that wouldn't be me - I lived through some crazy fashion, and still wear some of it. But seriously, the day my daughter brings home one of those boys who wear their jeans below their butt cheeks... I may well finally explode (with mirth, or anger, haven't decided yet).
* staying home with a bottle of red watching property shows on telly seems far more appealing than frocking up and hitting somewhere gorgeous.


Monday, May 12, 2008

backyard blitz

I do believe that things are finally moving ahead with our backyard reno. It's been a very, very long process - starting six years ago when we bought our house with the world's worst backyard. I've been hating on it every day since, desperate for when we could finally mould the yard of our dreams. And now, nearly two years after engaging a landscape architect to draw up plans, I feel close to the end, or the beginning. On Saturday we cleaned out the shed, ready for the blokes to come in and rip everything out before starting again. It was quite invigorating. There's nothing like a good clean out to soothe your soul, and we managed to get everything out of the shed with only the threat of two arguments (no actual knock 'em down fights...)

Stuff's in a pile on the back veranda for the salvos, recycling's in the bin, and unsalvageable stuff went off to the rubbish tip. It's now a palette waiting to be decorated. While I can't say I'm excited about my back yard looking like a gaping wound while it's being excavated, I'll just have to close my eyes and envisage the end result - a usable, beautiful backyard with a pool, courtyard and cabana. With a bit of effort we'll be splashing in the pool next summer and relaxing on loungers in the cabana, fruity cocktail in hand... 

Friday, May 09, 2008

second hand rose

I am now officially besotted with op-shopping. At the moment I'm having a very symbiotic, and serious, relationship with my local op-shops. I'll go in, lugging a bag of toys, clothes or magazines (good ones, not ones I've torn pages from!) and I'll walk out with something I adore. True.

A salvos has opened around the corner from my work in Surry Hills, and I'm a bit keen on it already. I went in the other day and kapow, spotted a fabulous black linen Witchery skirt - for $6. Did I mention it's a-line and below calf-length? Undoubtedly my most flattery style. I've already worn it twice, taking the cost per wear factor to $3 - and that's just silly. 

So yesterday I headed off to Coles when I felt drawn to the Salvos in Newcastle. Sadly, construction work next door meant I couldn't find a park, so I popped over the the next place - in Wickham. Well, blow me down if I didn't find the most exquisite green wrap top. It's so soft and silky that if I told you it was cashmere you'd stroke it, and nod agreeably. But it's not, it's just some wool/acrylic mix. It is, though, the absolutely perfect shade for my Moss&Spy skirt I picked up last month - the floral that needed an exacting shade of green to set it off. And yes, that's what this top is, and again, all for the magical price of $6.

So happy.

just rewards

There are so few ads that I consider amusing that when one tickles my funny bone I do like to reward the company by purchasing the product. So today, for breakfast, we had almond and honey All Bran - and, like they say in the ad "All Bran is delicious". When I saw Tall Jan in the ad, pop her head over the cubicle and righteously accuse cute little cereal man of saying "Tall Jan is malicious!" I nearly exploded with mirth. So funny. 

Why are there so few funny ads on telly? How on earth do they manage to find enough to fill those World's Funniest TV Commercials show? Oh right, with foreign content. I could probably count funny, recent Australian ads on just a few fingers. I'm still in love with the girl and her beaver on the U tampon ads - just a bit wrong, but she's ever-so-cute. The Big Pond ad with the rabbits is a classic - I want to invite that man over for drinks. And it's kept with with the very expensive Big Pond service, despite all their faults. Just goes to show, make me laugh, and I'm easy.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

gossip be gone

I used to be the ultimate gossip girl. I lived for the stuff. Ask me anything, about any celeb and I could spout the most obscure tidbit. But now, I'm not so sure, it all just seems a little dirty. I don't want my insatiable need for news to lead to the death of Amy Winehouse, I'd prefer it if she dried out and kept on making beautiful music.

The turning point was Britney's break down and Heath's death. They both shocked me. Deeply. I stopped wanting to read or see anything about them. I don't need to see Heath's body in a body bag - nor do I need to see Britney's haunted eyes through a paparazzi lens. This weekend topped it off with the image of a man howling in despair as he'd just watched his parents perish in a boating accident. I was disturbed that a photographer captured it, and even more disturbed that an editor thought this fit to publish on the front page of a sunday paper (not the one I work for - thank God). Of course the man was distraught - how could he not be? But I just don't need to see this. It's a tragedy - not news. 

I really think it's time for priorities to be reconsidered. I'm rethinking mine.

arid wasteland

I'm tossing up at the moment between two ever-so-nasty evils. The transeasonal weather is still causing havoc with my skin, it's ridiculously dry - or at least it feels that way. If only I were mega-wealthy and able to fill my bathroom sink with creme de la mer and immerse my face in it... but I'm not. Instead, I'm applying serums, the strongest of moisturisers, spritzing and drinking litres of water and it works, somewhat. The side effect though is my poor eyes - they're getting product overload and looking puffy and feeling tired. I do so love this crisp autumn weather, but I'm not loving on what it's doing to my skin or hair. Maybe I'll take out a second mortgage and try that creme...

Monday, May 05, 2008

too much?

I've often wondered, 'how much wine is too much?' and while I know the answer when it comes to drinking (more than a bottle gets messy) I've been curious about wine in food. Yesterday was Matt's birthday so he put in a special request for slow cooked lamb shanks. I've cooked them quite a few times, sticking pretty carefully to a Donna Hay recipe, so thought I'd just go ahead, cook it, and then, before sticking it in the oven, check the recipe to see if I'd forgotten any elements. So I'm browning the shanks, sauteeing the carrots, onion, garlic and celery, deglazing the pan with a tin of tomatoes before pouring in a cup of beef stock, and a bottle of shiraz... Yes, of course, after checking the recipe I realised I only needed one cup of wine. Ooopsies. To make up for this overly liquid addition I threw in a handful of french lentils, and added the herbs before I popped it in the oven for a couple of hours. Luckily, a bottle of wine isn't too much. It was rich, but not overly so. In fact, I think that I'll always up the wine and reduce the stock - even Annabella liked it. 
See, wine, it goes with everything.

Friday, May 02, 2008

perfume


I have around 40 roses in bloom at the moment, thanking me for a monthly application of chook poo. I reckon there's probably an equal number of delicate little pink blooms and big, blowsy red numbers. Not only does it look a bit gorgeous with flowers peeking through the white picket fence, the scent as you walk through the gate is just heady. It makes me happy.

the perfect match

I'm desperately seeking the perfect work from home winter wardrobe. I have zilch - unless you count my flannel jammies and uggs - which you can't as there's no way I feel all worky when I'm dressed for sleepy time. My problem is that I'm a skirt gal, so in summer, that's fine. I have a few summery frocks that are comfy, suitable for the school drop off and don't leave me blushing if I need to answer the door. Winter however, is a whole new chapter in the fashion story.

On the two days a week I head to the office, I pop on a skirt, or dress, opaques and heels - or flats if I'm feeling so inclined. But at home, who wants to spend the day in a fitted skirt and tights? Not I. My only jeans won't cut it - they're tight enough to look good, which means too tight for sitting in front of a computer all day. 

So do I go for a velour lounge wear number? If I could afford it I'd swathe myself in Cashmere (yep, it deserves an upper case c). My friend Milissa wants to organise her working wardrobe around Cameron Diaz's character in the Holiday. Admirable, but not achievable... for me anyway - I'd look like a bag lady in clothing meant for tall, svelte loungers.

Today I'm in workout clothes, feeling sporty to write a workout story. It's also meant to inspire me to actually move at some stage today - preferably further than the distance between my coffee maker and my desk. I do believe wearing said clothing is making me sit up straighter, thus working my core... so that's one plus. Maybe I'll fling myself on the floor for some push ups in between paragraphs. Or some dips on my desk chair after dashing off a few lines. We'll see.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

that's better

I'm always looking out for ideas that'll make my life a little easier. Who isn't? So if you are (and if not, what's wrong with you?) here are some things I've read or heard lately that I quite like.
* Lists. Who doesn't love a list? And I particularly love my lists for when we're headed off on hols. But if, like me, you've got numerous notepads or envelopes with "Byron Holiday", "Blue Mountains" or "Berrima" at the top (I know! What's with all the B holidays?) Here's a better idea.

On your computer, or, even more environmentally friendly - on a whiteboard (so you can tick it off, then wipe it off) create a master list for the following holidays: weekend away, week away, extended holiday. This way, rather than madly dashing off a list just before you go, and possibly leaving something vital off it, you've got a fabbo list that's worked for you in the past and you just go back to it.

* Baking paper. If you don't have a slow cooker, head to your nearest store and buy one today - they're the best time-savers ever! And when you do have one, here's a hint for keeping the meat nice and moist. Once you've got your meat, your stock, your vegies etc all stirred together, grab a piece of baking paper and lay over the top, and gently tuck down the edges. This way, you're keeping a layer of steam trapped in about a centimetre above the meat, rather than the distance from the upper layer and the lid. No more dry bits of meat that've stuck up in a jaunty manner throughout the cooking process. This is also great in your french oven - or even a saucepan on the stove top.

* Essential oils. They smell nice and create a yummy, effective, environmentally-pal-like cleaner. In a spray bottle combine water, a good slosh of cheap white vinegar and a few drops of essential oil. Use this to clean benchtops, the toilet, cupboard doors - anything. Use the oils that soothe or tickle your senses. My favourites are orange or lavender at the moment (both combined are particularly gorgeous). This is also the best way to mop your floor: hot water, sloosh of white vinegar, few drops of oil. Try lavender in the bedroom for sweet dreams. Many of them also have the benefit of repelling pests - try spearmint in the kitchen cupboard to keep out crawly critters. A few drops in the rinse water will leave sheets and clothes smelling divine too. Lavender or rose of course for sheets and towels. Mmmmm.

* Time sucking telly. This kills me to write, as I love me a bit of telly... but it's the ultimate time sucker. I'm always so ashamed when news reports and studies reveal the horrifying amount of time the average person spends watching tv - and it's only a small fraction of what I watch. So now, no telly until the dishes are stacked in the dishwasher, benchtops wiped down, washing put away and house tidied. Then, when I do flop down to immerse myself in the UK property market or yet another cooking show, I'll feel like I totally deserve it and don't have nagging jobs making me feel guilty in the background.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

what is celebrity?

I know it's been asked by many, often by commentators or bloggers far more astute, but really, what kind of world do we live in where this happens? I'm watching telly last night when an ad comes on for the MTV Australia awards. Fair enough. So then, celebrity names start zooming at me, with the announcer in his announcy voice clearly calling out the celebs. Big names in the music industry from Australia and abroad fill my screen and my ears before... KIM KARDASHIAN (nope, that's probably not how you spell it, but I'm not going to add to her fame by googling how to spell her goddam name). So, we have serious music industry heavyweights, and someone whose claim to fame is
a. her buttocks
b. being Paris's former BFF
c. pee

Music credentials? Oh, yes. Twas music producer and Brandy's bro who supplied the p for c.

it's bad news I'm afraid

NEVER google random symptoms because you won't get a sympathetic doctor who's spent years at university diagnosing you. Oh no, you'll get blunt results of a google search that'll leave the hypochondriac in you screaming "What, I'm having a cardiac malfunction?" or "Good lord no, not a brain tumour..." or possibly, "Surely not... good grief, is it possible for a disease to have that many letters? How on earth am I meant to pronounce that?"

quoth the raven

Spooky. As I'm sitting at my desk, almost on my deathbed, I hear a scratching sound outside my window. I look up, and staring at me, from the house next door's gutter is a gigantic, glossy black crow. Ooooooh, so very Edgar A. Poe.

for me?

Cats are so self-centred. Our boofy boy, Mulberry, honestly and truly is positive that the world revolves around him. Despite being a British Shorthair he's more vocal that the most chatty Siamese - particularly when he wants some attention.

On the weekend we nabbed our daughter a desk - something she's been begging for. So as we were just installing it just so under her window Mulberry came tearing around the corner and leapt onto the desk, exactly at the moment it was finally placed. Looking around with a big grin (Lewis Carroll got it right when he modelled the Cheshire cat on a British Shorthair) Mulberry then proceeded to stare soulfully out the window - from his new desk. We'd obviously put it there so he could have a new perch. Annabella now has to remove fluffy blue creature from her desk whenever she wants to do her homework.

He feels the same way about wrap tops and dresses. Whenever I've chosen to wear one of these, he'll come scuttling down the hall at top speed, crashing into walls and doorways in his haste, just so he can frantically leap and claw at the ends of my belt as I flick them around trying to get dressed. Should I shoo him away, he looks up all injured, for destroying his fun, when obviously I was wearing that top/dress just for his entertainment. Strangely, if I'm wearing a non-wrap outfit he'll stay put - he somehow senses a wrap's about to come out - just like he knows when Matt's coming home and will start calling out as the car pulls into the kerb.

poorly sick

I'm under the weather with an unexplained illness. An annoying unexplained illness. Yesterday I was so ill that dragging myself upright was met by waves of nausea. I was so unwell that I couldn't even google "Nausea when upright" to diagnose myself.

Today I'm determined to feel better. Being sick's costing me a fortune! As a freelance writer and casual worker I only get paid for actual work that I do - and yesterday - zilch. Today, while I still feel erk, I'm determined to get something out of the day and do the work I'd normally do tomorrow - even if I feel squeamish while doing it. 

If I have to be sick, I'd at least prefer my body to have a reason - this one - what's the point? I could go all Louise Hay and diagnose myself a la heal your body... but I'm scared about what she'd say? I wouldn't be surprised if my body's just reacting with total shock at the whole concept of sunshine and blue sky after a winter so miserable it'd make Patrick Dempsey's wife look happy. 

My treatment? I'm going to go sit on the front lawn for 10 minutes, soak up the sunshine and let my nausea float away...

Monday, April 28, 2008

eco chic

I am so happy about the rise in eco-consciousness as it now means I no longer have to skulk through the Salvos with a "Oh, I just dropped some stuff off..." excuse. No, now I'm being eco-conscious as I browse the racks. And I'll tell you what, I've found more gold on the shelves of op-shops than I ever have in any particular real store. Sure, I'll find the odd thing at Portmans, Sportsgirl or Myer, but not without feeling particularly ancient as I trawl the space. I feel positively spritely in my local second hand stores - which is always a good thing. I bought my hubby a shirt a month ago, and yesterday, we saw them on the shelves of Industrie - brand new, this season - except in that store they were selling for $79, not $4.50... So very happy.

ice capades

PS and by the way, High School Musical on Ice? Damned good! I was super impressed, and judging by the oohs, ahhhs and mucho sing-a-longs, three young girls were too. 

bright, sunshiny days

It is true that you don't know what you miss till it's gone. I had no idea how much I need me a bit of sunshine in my life until we had weeks of torrential rain. Seriously it rained so much it almost shattered my adoration of the pitter patter of rain drops on our tin roof - and I love me some raindrops on a tin roof. But this weekend the sun exploded out, and the sky was blindingly blue. Bliss. I didn't think it could get any better - and then it did. Try champagne, riesling and a stonkingly divine meal of duck confit served up by friends. Yep, that'll do me. I do so love a good piece of duck, and am very impressed by our plan to have Georgina and Tom ship out a case of tins of confit from Paris next month. What better way to spend your money?

That was the good idea that came from so much wine. The not so good one? Me agreeing to cook rabbit for our next meal (disguising it as lapin for the girls!). Having only tasted rabbit once I'm a bit unsure - is it best rare, or slow cooked? I'll be doing some frantic googling and will let you know the results. But I reckon that so long as it's served with a darned good wine, baguette and has a tasty pudding for afters, I can't go too wrong. Can I?

Friday, April 25, 2008

I normally like burgers

But there's one Berger I can't stand - Jack Berger on SATC. He's on the re-runs at the moment and my revulsion toward his character runs deep. I realised it's so entrenched that when I saw a preview of House the other night, and heard that this poor actor's other, completely unrelated character, was due to die I thought "good".

Why do I loathe him so? Matt and I were analysing it last night. Is it how threatened Berger is by Carrie's success? Is it his 'witty repartee"? Is it that he just didn't 'get' the significance of a scrunchee? Or was it that their first, second and third tumble together was just so woeful? Probably a combination of all the above. Mr Big might have been a complete and utter bastard at times, but at least he had a fondness for Moon River - and that killer line that concluded the first and last of the series...

Bring on the film, and thanks for abstaining from the Berger.

Ice Ice baby

I remember when I was young, my mum took me and my brother along to the eagerly anticipated Disney On Ice. I also remember feeling darned ripped off that it was mostly "anonymous skaters on ice", leading out the odd, gigantic bobble-headed Disney character, who'd tentatively weave their way across the ice gracing us with the odd royal wave.

However, today I'm heading out, with my daughter, my friend and her two girls to see another spectacular - High School Musical on ice. I know there'll be no bobble headed Zac or Vanessa gliding around the rink - even the kiddies these days don't expect the true Disney stars - just skaters with similar haircuts, the right tunes, and the red and white costumes.

We're all in this together I guess...

Monday, April 21, 2008

try a little tenderness

Second slow-cooked lamb in the crockpot was even more of a success. I dashed to the farmers market and elbowed my way through the crowds to the Saltbush Lamb stall - and they were all but empty! Noooooooooo. Luckily, they did have a cheeky little shoulder for sale - which quickly went into my little Donna Hay shopping bag.

This morning I opened up the packaging, tossed it in the slow cooker - along with halved potatoes, halved onions, and quartered carrots, sweet potato and parsnips. I drizzled a teensy bit of lemon infused olive oil over, poured in half a cup of water, turned it on slow and left it for 9 hours. 

I removed all the almost disintegrating vegies one-by-one, placed them on an oven tray and blasted them for 10 minutes on a moderately hot setting.
Oh.
My.
God.

Then I made a cheat's gravy with Gravox and the pan juices.

Oh, and to make it extra wicked I drizzled a little maple syrup over the carrots and parsnips.

Hello lover...

label conscious

It's been raining pretty heavily here for the past few days and the washing pile has reached a staggering size. Spying a touch of blue yesterday I did two dark loads and hung them on the line, only to have them rained on over and over again. Oh well, at least any lingering stains will vanish.

However, I had both pairs of workout tights on the line, and netball tonight, so I grabbed them both and foolishly read the label - Do Not Tumble Dry. Exactly what can you tumble dry? Now I love my Hills Hoist. I'm a line-drying gal. It's meditative, effective and doesn't send my electricity bills and carbon score soaring. But when we get a soggy patch, how am I meant to wash and dry my clothes if all my labels warn me off the clothes dryer? 

I know, I should just ignore the label - which I just did with jammies, socks and undies, but I did it guiltily. I didn't even check the label, just closed my eyes and thrust them in. Sigh. The perils of being so law-abiding...

Friday, April 18, 2008

shorts are for sports

I just want to thank my gorgeous friend Mel for reminding me about some of my fashion peeves.

I like individuality, people who express their personality in what they wear. I also am rather fond of updating one's look with something a little bit 'now' and 'fashion-forward'. I am not, however, fond of people slavishly following fashion with ill-regard as to more sensitive eyes.

Take shorts. In the summer I'm addicted to my Lorna Jane bootleg shorts when I'm having a bit of a sporting moment. But, I just can't go along with the formal shorts theme. I dunno, while they don't really reveal any more than a mini, there's just something about shorts that screams sports. 

I also realised that I had a disapproving old lady moment over this whole 'jeans under the bum revealing boxers thang' that certain boys are affecting. It's not pretty, and it's not funny, and I just don't get it. Is it some type of variation on the red-bottomed monkeys exhibiting their sexual attractiveness? It reached an hilarious conclusion the other morning when a youth was sashaying along the platform at Hurlstone Park station, pants slung beneath butt cheeks... and, well, he'd kinda forgotten something - his boxers. Hilarity, obviously, ensued. Boy's face soon turned as red as aforementioned monkey's butt, and he reefed his pants high before scuttling to the end of the station.

It's funny because it's true...

stalk the talk

I am beyond excited. I've just found out that David Sedaris - DAVID SEDARIS - is coming to Australia TO PROMOTE HIS NEW BOOK. I'd barely had time to recover from this when I found out that HIS PARTNER HUGH IS COMING TOO. I need to follow my bliss and stalk this man and the man who loves this man. 

I adore the whole Sedaris family, well, at least Amy and David, although I reckon I'd love the rest of them if I ever had the chance to meet them. Few people are blessed with the ability to make me nearly choke at the anticipation of laughter, let alone cause me grievous bodily harm whenever I read a line or two. 

Getting through a day without a smile seems pretty sad, but getting through a week without an hysterical laughing fit really shouldn't be experienced.

frizz-free

if only i could be...

As much as I adore Autumn and Spring, I do not love what the trans-seasonal weather does to my skin and hair. Dry, scaly erky skin and frizzy, bleh hair. What's a girl to do? 

Probably just slap on the moisturiser, serum and keep taking my Anthogenol wonder skin tablets. Rub about 1/2 a bottle of frizz-free serum stuff through my hair and then step outside, breathe in the crisp air... and smile. That'll do it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I wish...

That cleaning and tidying came naturally to me. I've tried to make myself a tidy person, you know, putting stuff away straight away, exactly where it belongs, not just in the next room - on the arm of a chair... Now while I'm getting okay at it, I've realised today, that I'm only okay at it. Not great. In every room of my house is a pile of stuff to be dealt with. Today. Tomorrow morning I have a photographer coming to take a photo of my family, and house, and garden, for a magazine. Fun! Except that I have to make sure that every part of my house is ready for it's close up - but at the moment it's only ready to be shot with the longest of long paparazzi lens...

Small, fluffy creature isn't helping. I've just mopped the loungeroom floor and he's busy skidding all over it having a ball, and leaving streaks and probably half a bucket of hair behind. 

For motivation I just flicked through the music video channels, hoping their might be a 90s retrospective thing happening, but no, just top 40. Top 40 doesn't make me want to clean. It makes me ponder the women in bikinis shaking their booties in the strangest of locations.

I also just had High Tea at Fernwood. Yum, such a died and gone to heaven experience. Looking at Maria's gorgeous house, filled with so many divine things made me wonder what magical spell she's woven to keep it all so dust-free and delicious... guess it's just good karma - and housekeeping.

Okay, I'm off to tackle my room. Excitingly I've got a pile of clothes to hang up and a dozen "new" crocheted hangers donated by a neighbour via her great Aunt. I love, love, love padded hangers - particularly ones made with love by little old ladies. There, that's my inspiration for my bedroom... now, how to keep fluffy creature at bay.

Monday, April 14, 2008

easy-peasy sunday

We'd had a busy weekend. With Michelle, Tallulah and Ruby spending the weekend our time was spent chatting, laughing and eating. Undoubtedly the highlight was a sunset swim at the ocean baths. Seriously, the Merewether baths are so picturesque, but with a pink, pale blue and gold tint they were sob-inducingly pretty. Sunday morning saw a slow breakfast at lotus followed by an extensive play at Centennial Park (I tried not to cry about the fact that Taste have left Lowlands Bowling Club and will no longer be blessing me with their Bangalow Pork sausages - need to track down a new supplier!) The day sped by, and when Matt finally dropped the girls off at their next sleepover spot I had to somehow create dinner from next to nothing. Hence the reason for this post - delicious from nothing!

Earlier that morning I'd taken a couple of rib-eye steaks from the freezer and popped them in the fridge to defrost. Now, I never have luck with freezing. My dodgy old fridge, aside from leaking water has an odd freezer. Despite wrapping things in multiple layers they still get freezer burn and defrost dry. I tend not to use it - except in emergencies (like two expensive steaks that didn't get eaten on expected day).

6pm and dinner was calling - quickly, before The Biggest Loser started. I grabbed still semi-frozen steaks from fridge and sliced them thinly, laying on a plate to defrost. The I nabbed some chorizo from the fridge, a tin of cherry tomatoes from the pantry, and a couple of potatoes from the larder. Amazingly I had NO onions. None! I've never run out of onions before and it threw me for a beat. Anywhoodle, I sliced chorizo into chunks, sliced potatoes thinly and then set about sauteing steak, followed by chorizo, followed by potatoes. When they were all golden I set them aside and tipped in cute-as-a-button cherry tomatoes, a good slurp of sweet chilli sauce, salt, pepper and some roasted chilli paste. I let it simmer for about 5 minutes, then popped all the ingredients back in to my cast iron frypan and simmered, covered for about 10 minutes. I served it all up with some steamed brown basmati rice and it was delish.

Next time I'll pop in sliced spanish onions, red capsicum and maybe some green beans. Would also be tres tasty with sliced chicken. Would pork be too much? Oh, of course, silly of me - there's no such thing as too much pork. 

Now, I'm off to Darby St butchers to see if they sell Bangalow Pork Sausages...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

holy moly

Now this is just ridiculous. We just sat down the THE most divine, and stupidly simple meal ever. Oh yes, the slow cooked leg of lamb was totally to die for. So moist, so tender, so bloody delicious. I feel like taking anyone who doesn't have a slow cooker by the shoulders and shaking them screaming "Why don't you have one? It will change your life!"

This meal was beyond simple, easier than opening a frozen meal and popping it in the microwave. In the morning I turned the slow cooker to low, opened the leg of lamb, plopped it in, threw on 1/2 cup of water, tossed in a couple of heads of garlic and toddled off. All I had to do tonight was roast some vegies (next time they're going in the cooker too), take out the lamb to rest for 5 minutes and then smoosh down the garlic with a wooden spoon. Then I turned the heat to high, poured in about 1/4 cup of red wine, added some rosemary, salt and pepper and stirred. That's it - gravy - done. If I were Gordon Ramsay I would have strained said gravy before serving (swearing at the same time, naturally), but I just scooped it up with a big spoon, avoiding any garlic skin and drizzled it over the lamb.

I'm so converted, watch out that I don't become all Tom Cruise crazy about it!

so misguided

Yes, I'm afraid you're the misguided one if you attempted to pop onto the blog I led you to earlier - I got the address wrong. It's crockpot365.blogspot.com

And I'll tell you what - my leg of lamb smells delish. I popped a few heads of garlic in with it and the juices look spectacular. I'm now about to take the lamb out to red and am going to pour in some red wine, add rosemary, pepper and some salt and I reckon that the world's most spectacular gravy will be the love child.

Food rules.

I ain't 'fraid of no... slowcooker

Okay, this winter is when I am determined to make full use of my slowcooker. I bought it last year with the best of intentions, but the worst of results. I tried the recipes in the leaflet that came with it (well one recipe) and it was too bland. Then I tried googling recipes and found one that was too sweet (and it wasn't a pudding!). Finally, I've tried just making the damned things up and found one that was juuuuuuust right. That's right, I'm kicking my fear of my slow cooker to the ground. 

It's weird, I've never been afraid of another piece of cooking equipment before. I had an almost unnatural love for my le crueset french oven... but scared, hello, unless it's got a clown face on the lid what's to fear? But I realise now that I just didn't know how to treat my slow cooker. I gave it fancy pancy treatment and it reacted with scorn. So now, HA! I'm going to just treat it like any other piece of equipment and expect it to serve me well. 

Tonight, a ha, tonight, we're having a leg of lamb in the slow cooker. All I've done is plonked the darned thing in the pot with 1/2 cup of water at 8am and have it on slow. I'll roast the vegies in the oven later on (like 'em nice and crispy on the outside) and serve it with some garlic and rosemary gravy. One of my fave bloggers, 365crockpot.blogspot.com, insists that this is the easiest way to cook lamb and I'm more than tempted to believe you. You have no idea what that woman cooks in her slow cooker - the other day she made a cake for goodness sake. Legend!

I'll see how it goes and let you know.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

amateur dramatics

For years I abused my eyelashes. Not intentially mind, that'd be weird. No, it was just that during my uni years I went out pretty well every night and by the time I flopped into bed as the sun was peeking up I was too darned tired, or, well yes, maybe a little under the influence, to remove my make-up like a sensible lass would. So now, at 40, I have short, stumpy little lashes and must rely on the genius of mascara creators to help me out.

Now for my quandry... Have you noticed that on lash ads these days there's a teeny little bit of print, down the side, or running across the bottom with words such as "Lash Dramatisation". What in the hell's that about? Are lashes about to burst into a soliloqy from Macbeth? No, what it means that these lashes are not the product of that black stuff in a tube, rather, they're the work of a talented artist and photoshop. I ask you - WHAT'S THE POINT?

If I'm buying a mascara I don't want the one from a company that has a talented artist working in front of a shiny Mac - I want one that (colour me naive) makes my lashes longer and fuller! Which, mind you, I do believe I have found. I have three faves in my eyelash wardrobe:
For a simple, daytime, no-make-up look (ha!) it's Napoleon
For drama and a bit of ooh la la it's Dior Show
And my new fave, that's a bit in-between the two, is Two-Timer, the balm. It's a snazzy little number with a too-fun pack with a retro-vibe. Ladies, you have two choices of brush - Johnny Finetune, the definer and Marcus Lashalot, the volumizer. The packaging's very noir - and so's my fave shade - an inkly black that creates come hither lashes in a flash.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

um, yum

Okay, last night's slow cooker meal was a smashing success. And excitingly, I didn't brown the meat or vegies first and it still tasted scrummy.
Here's the recipe(ish)
1 kilo of lamb neck
1 onion, finely diced
1 stick celery, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 carrot, finely diced
2 x 440g tins cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup french lentils (find them, they hold their shape, are the perfect size and taste yum)
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
a good glug of red wine
Throw all this into the slow cooker and cook on low for at least 10 hours. I served it with pumpkin mash and steamed spinach. I also had plenty left over - at least another two meals. But watch the bones in the lamb neck - it's tasty, but the teeny bones are tricky!

Monday, April 07, 2008

pretty in pink

I can never get enough of roses so thank you to my gorgeous friend Nikki for sending the images of these utterly divine beauties. Can't you just taste their intoxicating scent from here?

it's only natural

I'm really trying to simplify my life. As a working mum, well, obviously, I'm busy. So anything I need to do must be simple and add something to my life. For example, I just had to wash the bathroom floor because, well, it was dirty, and also, I'd dyed my hair on the weekend and so bits of black dye were splashed around with abandon. Rather than splooshing something chemical in the hot water bucket I dropped in a few drops of orange essential oil and now, not only is my floor clean and shiny - my bathroom smells delish! Later on I'm going to do the living room and bedrooms - but with lavender oil for sweet dreams...

Dinner's already on - yep, I chopped and diced after preparing school lunch. Tonight we're having lamb neck and french lentils. Yes, I heard that eeewwww about the lamb neck, but I've never tried it, spied it being cooked on a show the other night and thought I'd give it a shot. It was scary-cheap - less than $5 for a kilo - I KNOW! and apparently it tastes delish. It's in the slow cooker with the usual suspects - carrot, onion and celery and two tins of cherry tomatoes (imagine my squeal of delight when I spied that on the shelves at Coles!) and french style lentils (cue second squeal at Coles). I am sad that they can no longer be labelled lentils du puy (mainly because I adore the pronunciation - doo pwee) but am happy they're aussie grown and so much cheaper. There's garlic and red wine in there as well so I'm holding out hope for a scrummy meal tonight. 

So how's that for a heavenly scented house? Essential oils, lamb and also the scent of a sated garden thanks to the rain last night. I am one happy camper!

Friday, April 04, 2008

local matters

Not too long ago I wrote an article about food - organic, free range, farmers' markets etc and I must say it really changed the way I look at what I eat. I now spend time checking out the provenance of produce before I purchase (oh I know, I love alliteration...) and try to buy as locally as humanly possible. Also, when it's available I'll choose organic over conventional. I am spoiled as my local coles has a number of organic brands - organic weet-biscuits (weet-bix), fresh carrots (sooooo tasty not orange sticks of bland!) and meats (oh my god - organic rib eye steak - YUM).

I honestly can't say I've noticed too much of a change in the price of my shop - it's always hellishly high. However, I just can't begrudge spending that little bit extra to reward those farmers who are going to such an amazing effort to help save our planet - and good grief, I also can't mind paying extra for the benefits of taste. Top that off with a recent long-range study that showed that organic foods can contain up to 40 per cent more nutrients than conventionally grown foods and how on earth could you not grab them and shove them in your green shopping bag?

Next step is to set foot in the worthy and scary organic shop near me. When will people learn that you need to be friendly to customers no matter what? I went in there one day and was served by this po-faced assistant who really didn't make me want to return. But, the range of organic fruit is limited at Coles, so this afternoon I'm going to suck it up and walk in there determined to check it all out with a fresh eye. Maybe cranky face will be having a day off...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

la la la

I got a bit carried away on the weekend shooting the Opera House from all angles. The ferry is a rather nifty location and I just adore the sky and the harbour in this shot. 
Purdy.

tick tock

Why oh why did the Christmas school holidays last for about 100 years when I was a wee lass, and now, every hour zooms past in a second? Despite intentions that were more dapper than my Sunday best I'm behind. Again. Time management tools don't seem to be working, and this whole non-multi-tasking thing I've been doing just positively sucks! I do believe that I'm doing things better - it's just that everything's moving so damned slowly. I'm glad my computer's so darned attractive otherwise I'd be sick to death of looking at it!
On the bright side my daughter and her friends danced beautifully today. The sun's shining and there's a hint of a crisp breeze. My god daughter gently tapped me on the arm and said "I liked spending the day with you." Time might move quickly, but I really am enjoying the ride...

Monday, March 31, 2008

I would like a boiled egg

An hilarious moment of note from our weekend in Manly. God love him, but the terribly British Philip asked for 'boiled eggs' with his bacon for breakfast. Of course, this set the staff in a flap with no less than three staff coming back to confirm that yes, he did want boiled eggs, yes, hard boiled and yes, he's okay with a 10 minute wait.
After longer than 10 minutes, I joked that the staff were probably frantically fashioning egg cups from foil. Call me Alison DuBois but I was right. See how his eggs arrived! Hilarity ensued.

Sydney's a bit spesh

We took our overseas rellos to Manly this weekend and wasn't Sydney a flirt? Beautiful blue sky, sparkling 20 degree waters... oooh Manly, you're a tart - and I do love you. We caught a ferry to Circular Quay on the saturday, before swapping ferries and cruising over the harbour to Taronga Zoo. It's just so beautiful there. Honestly, if our UK relatives weren't besotted by Sydney at this stage, nothing was going to prevent them falling head over for the town at this stage.

We had a gorgeous apartment opposite the beach - the Norfolk Pine fringed shores are utterly spellbinding. Sitting on the balcony, a Peroni or glass of rosé in hand was the perfect end to the day. I have some gorgeous shots, but Blogger's being a difficult bugger today and isn't letting me upload them.

Today's a big workday. It's a lovely crisp autumnal day and my third load of washing is flapping in the breeze. Dinner's been simmering in the slow cooker all day and taunting me with its delicious scents. Anything seems possible after a weekend of bliss doesn't it?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

pardon moi

Please forgive my absence - has your heart grown any fonder? Crazy deadlines combined with Easter long weekends and a husband on crutches has lead to many things falling off the 'must do' list. So today, while dust bunnies the size of mutant hares roll down my hall like tumbleweeds on steroids, I will ignore the call of the vacuum (for now) and check in and say 'hi'.

We're off to sunny Manly on the weekend with the English fam. Staying in an apartment on the beach together will be a fabulous way to catch up. I'm most looking forward to taking Tallulah and Ruby to the zoo - there's barely a more spectacular location in Sydney. Of course, poor boy on crutches will have to stay back at the apartment as more than four steps causes agony to his knee. Sigh, sports and the over 30s don't mix do they (shh, I'd like to pretend that the over 40s - me - is a whole new category of okay!)

Enjoy your weekend.
lxx

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

pet peeves

Generally I'm pretty happy, optimistic etc, but some things just topple me into the annoyed-abyss. They are, in no particular order:
* receiving an email that signs off with "sent from my blackberry..." Now, I know it's not pretentiousness on their part, but honestly, isn't there some way to turn that off? I'm ridiculous with how often I check my emails, but a blackberry is just obscene.
* loud, tinny music coming from someone's iPod. People, turn the damned thing down. Honestly, in a few years your eardrums will thank you for it, and everyone you're commuting with will sing your praises.
* Poor parking. If there's enough space for two cars, leave enough space for another. Thanks.
* Pimples and wrinkles - one at a time ladies!

and that's it for today thanks, gee, I mustn't be as pre-menstrual as I should be.
xx

gift ideas

 I'm stumped. I need to buy a 40th birthday pressie for my divine sister-in-law and have NO idea what to look for. Having received so many utterly perfect pressies for my 40th I feel the pressure's on. I've been looking at etsy and have found some cute-as-a-button things, but nothing's screaming out her name. I am at least making the red velvet cupcakes for her, but really, I'd love to be a crafty critter and make her something spesh. Guess a visit to the antique stores is an option - a cameo perhaps? Ideas? I'd love some comments!

slowing down

Multi-tasking is a myth. I know we all do it, and have to do it, but really, I don't think it works. While I've long suffered under the delusion that I can read a book, watch telly and have a conversation - while planning the week's meals in my head, I have to face up to what is actually reality - I'm not doing anything particularly well.

So this week my new mantra is stop, focus and then act. For some reason I've always felt that if I don't immediately offer up a solution, response or action people will think less of me, but I reckon that pausing to think first can only be an admirable trait. So that's today's task. Stop, pause, think then act. And the first place I'm doing this is when I'm actively listening to someone. Is there a nicer compliment to be paid than being the full focus of someone's attention when they're talking to you.

I do believe the world won't end if I'm not huffing around in a flap, but if it does, oh well, at least I'll be more relaxed!

Friday, March 14, 2008

how rude

I have a little ritual before I start my working day. Firstly, I anally check my emails (it's a compulsion) then I head off into blog land. Reading through what's happening in other people's worlds inspires me to create something interesting in my own. Since my late introduction into the world of blogs I've become quite the decorator - creating little tableaus with interesting objects, rather than just plonking them on any available surface. I'm also more inspired to cook, mainly so I'll have something to blog about... So today, I'm running through my favourites, bemoaning those who have failed to update (what's with this flu running through the blogosphere?) when I realised that I too tend to neglect my blog when times are a-busy. So here's todays blog, um, about how I'm going to blog more regularly... Yep, that's it, I'll move on now...

Rather than sitting at my desk waiting on a recalcitrant publicist to send me the releases she's been promising for well over a week I'm going to pop on my trainers and go for a beach walk on this utterly glorious, sunny autumnal day. Is there a nicer time of year? 
Lxx

Thursday, March 13, 2008

mind your manners

Manners tend to get a bit of a bad rap, which is sad considering they're merely social lubrication. Good manners make other people feel happy- simple as that. Manners aren't all "how do you do" and knowing exactly how to use a fish knife (although I did spy a gorgeous set in an antique store the other day and was pleased I'd spotted a segment on telly once showing me how... oh, what, off the track?). No, manners are all about considering other people. Simple case in point. Last night, a meeting for an event at my daughter's school. Due to start at 7pm, but that's a hellish time so of course, people are dashing in and out, early and late. Not a problem. The room's set up with rows of chairs, tightly placed in a semi-circle to face the speaker out the front. Makes sense. Now, here's where the manners come in. I am sure that every single person in that room is lovely. A sweet, kind, thoughtful person... but, and here's my little niggle, a little thoughtfulness wouldn't have gone astray. 
All the early arrivals sat at the ends of the rows, leaving massive gaps of empty seats in the middle, meaning that those who arrived later, had to really squeeze past the knees and backs of heads at the start of the rows. It's just a little thing, but kind of reminds me of the whole "Please move to the back of the bus" phenomenon. It's not that these people were thoughtless, or particularly ill-mannered, but until they were squished past, they probably really just didn't think too much about it. Yes, of course, the latecomers shouldn't have been late, but many of them probably had a very good reason, and felt stressed and anxious about it, so making them squeeze through people, rather than falling gratefully into a chair close to the door, wouldn't have made them happy.
Today, I'm going to do something to make three people feel happy. I'm not sure who, or how I'm going to do it, but I'll do it. You?

Monday, March 10, 2008

S is for super

I am now 100 per cent convinced that simple is best. With an array of stain-fighting, super-boosted products at our fingertips sometimes it's easy to forget that our grandmothers (or in my case, mother-in-law) was right. 

I was just making my daughter's bed (an annual event, not a daily number) when I popped on her pretty Annabella pillow. My forehead then furrowed at a big yellowy blotch on one side. Now, I first spotted this blotch a year ago, sprayed it with pre-stain remover, soaked it in super-boosted stuff and then washed it. Sure, the stain faded, but it was still there. Sadly I'd just place it at the back, with another little pillow jauntily placed to cover the stain.

Today, well, I wasn't having any of this hiding guiltily nonsense, I was going to get it out. I stormed on out to the laundry and grabbed the pre-stain remover... before remembering my mother-in-law's secret weapon that was stashed in the bottom of the laundry cupboard - Sunlight soap. I ran a little water in the tub, immersed the case in the water, then lathered up generously with this little square of golden nostalgia. Rinsing away, yep, you guessed it - stain gone, vamoosed, outta there. So now it's hanging in the sunshine, pristine and proud. Oh sunlight soap, I do love you.

to market

Do you have to have a special gene to feel genuinely excited at the notion of market day? I think I inherited a few of them. Yesterday was not only time to visit the often-crappy-but-sometimes-amazing Adamstown markets, but the second sunday in the month and farmer's market day. Thank goodness for friends with the same genes... particularly when husband and child seem to have skipped out on them!

After breakfast I picked up Amanda and we dashed off to Adamstown, which was having a good day. So many gorgeous tablecloths just begging for a good home, but I restricted myself to just the one. Of course, yes, it has pink roses. And, what's that? The accent colour? Um, sure, it might be green... It's a wee bit french looking and sits perfectly on our little round table on the side veranda (even though the cloth's square).

The farmer's markets were brilliant, except the lovely stall with the to-die-for children's notions was missing. Sigh, sorry Finley, you'll have to wait another fortnight for your 'welcome to the world' pressie. Of course I bought far too much chorizo (one for $5 or three for $12... what would you do?) and a delectable washed-rind cheese. I sautéd slices of the chorizo and served them in a bowl when we had the neighbours over for drinks later that afternoon. Spicy, but nary a speck left in the bowl when they left... I have one chorizo left over, so have to decide what to do with it. I'm thinking maybe a corn chowder for dinner, topped with sautéd chorizo chunks - what do you think? I do believe corn and chorizo would get along famously, and it might help me become more of a corn fan too. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Oh, and the lamb breast the other night? Yum. Stupidly rich, but meltingly tender. And I love the basis of the recipe even more than my lamb shank version. Think I might always use it when making slow-cooked treats.

Friday, March 07, 2008

slowly does it

Yes, the sun may be shining, but half the leaves have fallen from my crimson ash so I do believe that represents the onset of autumnal cooking. There is nothing, absolutely zilch, that beats a slow cooked meal. Our first purchase after returning to the carnivorous life after two decades of vegetarianism (one for darling hubby) was a french blue le crueset oval dutch oven. It was hellishly expensive, even at 40 per cent off at David Jones, but it's one of the best kitchen investments I've made. 

This meal came about thus: I was at home recovering from a migraine on tuesday afternoon when I finally felt up to moving beyond my darkened bedroom beckoned by the call of the telly. I felt like being nurtured so I switched to Lifestyle Food and kept it there all afternoon. Because of my laziness I watched Tamasin's weekends, a show I normally switch off because of her seeming aversion to wearing a bra (sensing a theme here? Look, bralessness is fine in the privacy of your home, but not when your home contains cameras filming you for an internationally syndicated show - or if the paps follow your every move!). Anywho, laziness led to serendipity as she was slow cooking on this program and ooh, baby, did she do it well. 

Cut to today. It's 1.30 on friday afternoon and tonight's meal is slowly simmering in the oven. It's made with a cut of meat I'd never tasted, nor heard of, so excitement is brewing. I'm cooking with lamb breast which is apparently the pork belly of the sheep world - and let me tell you, I'm more than a bit partial to a mouthful of pork belly. Mmmmmm. I had to specially order it at the butcher, but it's a cheap cut of meat - 2.5 kilos-ish for around $10-15... (I bought a few other things as well, so not sure on the exact figures - but cheap for lamb)

Here's the recipe as memorised by moi. I will be serving it with mash (what else?) and a couple of french sticks. That's it - got to save room for the apple and raspberry crumbles with home-made egg custard for pudding...

Slow cooked lamb breast
5 rashers smoked bacon
3 carrots, diced
2 onions, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
bouquet garni (fresh if you can)
bay leaves
750 ml red wine
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper

Dice the bacon and fry it till golden in a pot. Then add vegetables and add a splash of olive oil. Cook slowly for 5 - 10 minutes, or until softened. (I also added garlic here, it's an addiction) Place the lamb breasts over the vegetables, tucking them in so they cover the veg. Slide the bouquet garni and bay leaves under the lamb.

Heat red wine in a pan till simmering, then pour over top of the lamb. Pour over tinned tomatoes (I could only fit one tin in my pot - I'm going to pop the other one in around about an hour or so into cooking) and bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper then place a piece of baking paper snugly over the top*. Pop on the lid and place in a pre-heated 150 degree oven for at least three hours.

To serve, remove the breast, slice into servings and place on a platter. Pour over the sauce and vegies and serve with mashed potato and a whopping big glass of a good red wine.
* I've seen a few TV chefs do this and apparently it keeps the steam close to the meat. I'd also imagine it would prevent any exposed meat drying out or burning - I'll let you know.

Oh my god, get the irony - a lamb breast recipe by a woman who i ignored because of the whole bralessness thing. Priceless!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

flour girl





I love baking for people I love. I'm a bit slap-dash with the decorating - but I think you have to be so it looks home made. However, my gorgeous friend Amanda perfectly piped the vanilla bean frosting on my red velvet cupcakes for my 40th and I do believe I'm going to take a leaf from her beautifully penned book when I'm next icing. Don't they look divine?

It's my sister-in-law Michelle's 40th birthday soon and we're celebrating early while she's out from London. A picnic party on Easter monday is called for so I'll be mixing up a batch of red velvet cupcakes for her on Easter sunday. Don't you think they should be a traditional 40th cake? I know Annabella loves it when I bake for her birthday, and considering her special day falls just five days after Christmas we do what we can to make it special. I'm still a bit in love with the sleepover cake we made for her 7th birthday - complete with a decorated face for each girl who attended. And my wonky yet delicious castle was a hit with 20 little princesses for her 6th birthday. 

I'm also still chuffed with the anniversary cake I made for Matt's mum and dad - with the gold ribbon to celebrate a golden anniversary. Nigella's chocolate sour cream cake was the basis - and I marbled chocolate to box it all in. Tasty and impressive. 

You know, I'm kinda getting a hankering for flouring my hands...

mutton test

I do quite love being 40, but one of the things I'm not fond of is a fear of looking like mutton. So here's the dilemma, how does one still retain a quirky, individual style and not reek of Kylie dressed as Miley? (yeah, I know... but Whitney dressed as Britney doesn't work anymore thanks to those hideous brown boots and bralessness Britney keeps persisting in - even at her cracked-out worst I'm sure Whitney wouldn't have gone there!)

So here's my test. I choose an icon five years older than me... and because I'm lazy I've chosen Demi Moore (because I know at 45 she's smack on five years older than me). Now, when contemplating an outfit I try to picture it on Demi - would she look like she'd raided Tallulah's wardrobe, or would she look smokin'? If flames are emanating from my mental image I'll say yes and pop it on myself. 

That's my mutton high five test and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

pretty spesh

Hello - cuteness alert. Now, how's this for serendipity? After telling my friend Nat about my fabulous op-shop bargain buys I let her in on a few Newcastle shopping secrets - including my favourite antique store near Honeysuckle. Well, not only did she also bag a few bargains, but she told ME about a new shop that had opened Auld and Grey. Now this was a little stall at my fave antique store, and I'd always been loving on it, so we skipped on down there on the weekend. Well, I was a mess. Constant 'oohing' and 'ohmygoding' nearly drove my shopping-loving hubby insane. Then Annabella spotted this gorgeous vase - cute non? And only $25. How well does it work against our green walls? Loved the woman who owned the shop, adored the french soundtrack she had playing, and seriously could have bought every second item... 
Thanks Nat x

shiny and new(ish)

This rather divine sideboard was the inspiration behind our new Laduree green living room, and I'm a bit in love with it. We've topped it with a few of our favourite things, collected over the years and it's adding a special something to the room. I love how well it works with our pretty wall sconces, purchased years ago and framing my Mary image so well.

The room's slowly coming together and now makes me smile every time I walk in there.

Happy.