Thursday, July 17, 2008

mouldy oldy

Before we went on holidays I cleaned our so-mouldy-it-looked-like-a-science-experiment- shower recess with a mixture of bi-carb, white vinegar and water. I popped it all in a spray bottle - roughly 1/4 bi-cab, 1/4 white vinegar to 1/2 warm water and sprayed it all over the tiles and grout. I then scrubbed my little arms off till it was all white and shiny. Well, colour me tickled pink because I was just about to clean the bathroom when I realised that two weeks later, there's no mould in the shower - none. And it's been used, so it's not that no water's hit the surface. I am amazed. But don't worry, I won't become blasé and ignore it till more mould grows back - I'm intending on wiping over it regularly. 

Just thought I'd share that with you.

Happy happy joy joy

Sarah at one of my regular must-see blogs, has regular monthly projects and I am so in on this one. July is happiness month and I am pretty sure that I could devote a couple of pages to this one. While life mightn't always lead you in the direction you expected, I think that it's essential to a person's sanity to find something to be happy about every day. Here's what makes me smile:

1. My gorgeous gal. I've had eight precious years with this delightful child and she's made me smile every single day.
2. My hubby. That's why I love him, 'cause no matter what, we always find something to laugh about together.
3. My dopey, boofy cat and the way he knows that the quickest way to my heart is to roll flat on his back exposing a ridiculously fluffy tum.
4. Roses - pink, red, yellow... so long as they're scented they'll always boost my spirits.
5. Friends who can always be relied upon to make your heart sing.
6. Pretty shoes. I'm an optimistic gal who likes to look up and forwards, but when I look down it's always a nice surprise to see something pretty on my feet.
7. Red and pink nails - fingers or toes - so long as they're contrasting they'll bring many an admiring glance from my direction.
8. Kind acts. There really is nothing nicer than helping make someone else's day a little brighter.
9. Pink champagne in my vintage etched champagne glasses.
10. Cupcakes - who could be grumpy when faced with one of these little mouthfuls of cute?
11. Polka dots. I've never seen anything ugly adorned with spots - or maybe it's just that they bring out the beauty in everything.
12. Pugs and french bulldogs. I don't need to own one - just to look at one every now and again. They're ever-so-gorgeous.
13. Paris, France and everything that comes from that neck of the woods. My memories always take me back and my dreams will send me there again.
14. Violets and peonies - two vastly different fleurs but they're like roses in that they work in a vase, on jewels and in pictured form.
15. The scent of jasmine and frangipani - spring and summer scents that'll always tickle my fancy.
16. Nurturing friends and family with a delicious meal - preferably over a nice glass of wine.

And so much more - I'd much rather be happy than sad. To be continued...

I'll have what she's having

This body at 36 would make most women very happy indeed. But at 63? Take a bow Helen Mirren and pass my regards on to your genetic heritage.

Happiness is...

Imagine looking down at your feet and not breaking out in a smile every time you saw these pretty little numbers. No, I don't own them, but every gal's gotta dream about something...

pet peeve pooh poohed

One of my pet peeves was banished today. It really used to bug me that SOME people on facebook (I know, those who caved to peer pressure... but still) didn't have a picture of their FACE on the page - just a question mark. It peeved me. 

Now, I know as well as anyone how hard it is to find that one photo that completely illustrates you: how fun you are, how little you've aged (for those who've tracked you down from school...) etc - but still, a question mark just didn't cut it. So now, we have shadowy silhouettes which I find much more appropriate.

Puppy love

We debated over whether to buy Annabella yet another soft toy - but aww shucks, she kinda hearts Gigi to bits and pieces.

words worth

There are some words that seem to have fallen from fashion, while others persist (do you reckon that Cool is always going to mean that for generations of kids? Other terms come and go, but cool keeps on hanging on - which is kinda cool). 

I'd like to see the following returned to the vernacular:
Peachy. If people ask how you're doing, I do think that "Peachy" is the perfect response.
Forthwith. Gives a sense of urgency and honor to any event.
Anywhoodle: Much cuter than anyhow.

How 'bout you?

un petit plat

The Southern Highlands is the cutest mix of England and France. We came across this gorgeous vineyard who offered quite possibly the nicest luncheon menu I've seen in a while. The three of us shared the charcuterie plate and moaned in rapture over the homemade pork rillettes. We also had a very civilised wine tasting over our meal and walked out with a rather nice bottle of red.

Should you be in the region, I strongly recommend you drop in. The Vineyard's called Mount Ashby Estate and while you're there, check out the french antiques on sale in the barn. They're pricey, but so pretty to look at.

Monday, July 14, 2008

down boy

I took the fairy lights down yesterday. You know how I said that you couldn't really still see them because of the wisteria? Well, considering that the wisteria is now merely brown sticks, buds and a coupla sickly-looking leaves, those blue icicle christmas lights were somewhat on the obvious side. Oh, and will I be putting them up again next Christmas? Um, no. Some pesky critter (possum, cockatoo, husband...) chewed through both wires so they're dead. At least that helps us make up our mind about the solar pool heating. The cockatoo and possum resistant glass panels are looking far more attractive than the black plastic strips (purdier too).

sloth city

I do believe that my butt has fused to my office chair. Since returning from holidays I've only left it to shower, cook and sleep - oh, and go out for a quick cocktail and tapas with the girls yesterday (they were aghast when I left at 6pm to come home to work - well, imagine how I felt! - and yes, you read that correctly 6PM not AM...)

My daughter just came in and squealed "You're still in your pajamas - at three o'clock" and tragically, it's true. Without the motivation of the school run it's leopard-print flannel pj pants, a tank top and a bejewelled pink cardi - and my pink uggs. Super glama mama... or mega-sloth? Yep, the latter. I will have to change to dash out to Coles later for dinner stuff, and thank god I've got netball to enable me to prise my butt from the chair. At least I've been productive-ish.

Husband sick in bed, daughter calling out for yet another snack (how much can one child eat?) and brain cells begging for another glass of water. At least I've got Project Runway Australia to look forward to. Caught a little of the first ep last night before bed and am rather sweet on it already. Love the cute little platinum blonde girl - and the cutey patootey with the amazing bangs (fringe doesn't do what she's got going on justice) - and Leigh, my new gay crush... I'm such a fashion victim. So glad that first girl went home - she performed serious crimes with pink chiffon.

Idol chatter

Am stupidly excited this morning, which is a nice change from plain old stupid... My friend Milissa just emailed me to let me know she'd booked tickets to see David Sedaris a man I worship ever-so-much. He's in conversation with Judith Lucy so I'm pretty sure the banter will be as dry as ye olde creek bed in central Australia. 

Saturday, July 12, 2008

there's no place like home

We're finally back from our relaxing week in the Southern Highlands, and as soon as I get the energy I'll pop some photos up. The house we stayed in was absolutely amazing. A gorgeous structure with sublime country views. And the town of Burrawang is undoubtedly the perfect country village. It only has a butcher and a pub - but what a pub, and what a butcher. Sometime soon a restaurant will be opening in the old General Store and we'll be zipping back down to check it out. 

There were a few glorious finds. Exeter General Store contains a rocking cafe that did a sour cherry and walnut bread (served with spiced ricotta and honey) that is quite possibly a coffee's best accompaniment. I also adored the town of Bundanoon. The cutest little cafe, Bloomin' Cafe, sits in the main street and it's bliss in a storefront. Cosy, with scrummy homemade goods (lemon slice and those yummy mushroom cakes!), great cofffee and service by the sweetest ladies you're ever likely to meet.

I had quite the find in the local op shop in Moss Vale - and oh, it was squeal-worthy - the Margaret Fulton Crockpot Cookbook. For 50 cents. Seriously, this tome is priceless. I'm so in love with it and can't wait to crack out the slow cooker and try a few meals. The hints and tips contained within its aged pages would be worth $50 alone, and the recipes... Have I mentioned before how I do so love op-shopping?

The Southern Highlands really is quite the gem. I could easily spend another week exploring and pottering around its shops and peering up majestic drives to spy yet another jaw-dropping house. The houses were perfection in weatherboard. There was a real french feel about so many homes that obviously I adored. It did also make me appreciate our home all the more (especially the air conditioning after a day where it seemed to hit a high of five degrees!). Our house welcomed us home with a display of snowdrops, iris (three varieties) and the first of the jasmine - I know, it's nowhere near Spring...

Just heard to washing machine beep - time to wash another load before flopping down to watch a film on Foxtel.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

browned off

Hey, guess what? Because I was so stressed and time poor today I didn't brown the meat before popping it in the slow cooker (I did brown the bacon though... mmmm) and cheapo blade steak has never been soooo tender and succulent. How much do you love it when the lazy way turns out to be the best way?

Oh, and are you wondering how stressed a human can be? Well, today I was in such a state I forgot to breathe. Twice. Yep, a waking form of sleep apneoa (can't spell it, too tired) was what I experienced. I am so not googling that!

Another positive out of my time-poor state? I took my fave french vintage skirt to have the elastic waist replaced at my dear little op-shop/alteration place (the one on Darby St where I found the pristine black suede vintage italian t-bars - sigh) and she repaired it while I waited. Bless. So while I was waiting I browsed the racks and found this fabulous black corset belt. It's the softest of leather, about six inches wide and it has buckles and if I hadn't told you I'd bought it there for, yep, six bucks, you'd swear I'd ripped it from the pages of Vogue for six hundred. 

Getting schleepy now. Must rest before the road trip. Have a wonderful week - let's catch up when I get back! I know  - we'll do photos over champagne. Super!


I can't quite remember what it was like to have all the time in the world, but I'm pretty sure that when I did, annoying, urgent tasks didn't pop up constantly. Now, we're going on a week's holiday tomorrow morning and I before we do I have to:
1. Finish one more article (sent one off this morning - yay!)
2. Organise interviews and do the research for another article that's due the day after we return
3. Pack my bag
4. Wash a load of dark clothes to take on holiday
5. Take up my new tracksuit pants that were obviously designed for stilt walkers
6. Tidy the house so my house-sitter doesn't drown in squalor
7. Pay rego on the car
8. Go shopping to buy bits and pieces for holiday (cereal, crackers, etc)
9. Take down the damned fairy lights
10. Take out the recycling and rubbish
11. Pop casserole in slow cooker
12. Pick up my hideously expensive toner cartridge from refilling place

Pretty comprehensive non? 

Well today as I walked out the door on the way to the mechanics to get my pink slip I noticed that the wind had blown a third of my jasmine from the fence. Great. Now, my jasmine spans about 5 metres and is about a metre thick and covered in teeny red buds - it's not going to be easy or fun. But what's the point of droopy, noddy jasmine, that's only going to fall further in our absence? Can my husband do it? Hardly. He's in the car driving 3 hours to Sydney to have his six week check up on his knee and won't be home till after dark. 

Oh, hell, I'm up for a challenge...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

better off red

Because she spent the first five years of her life vegetarian, we've been slowly introducing Annabella to the world of meat, and now, I think we've turned a corner. Tonight, we were shopping when she said "Tomorrow, for dinner, can we have that beef in red wine you cook?" Yes, that would be an eight year old asking for a rich, beefy, wine-soaked stew. Now, kids and stews don't usually mix. Kids normally like their food readily identifiable and not invading the personal space of any other item on their plate. But my gal's obviously developing quite the palate. Wanna try her new fave meal?

Annabella's beef in red wine
1kg stewing meat (there was really cheap scotch fillet when I last made this, tomorrow, it's blade steak)
3 bulbs of garlic (I had fresh garlic from the markets that week, this week, it's just bulbs)
1 stick celery
1 carrot
2 onions
2 cups beef stock
6 strips of bacon
steak seasoning (was in a cheating frame of mind, but it worked, and I'm doing it again)
2 tblsp tomato past
2 cups of red wine
1 tin cherry tomatoes (my new lust)

Dice the meat into mega chunks. Finely dice everything else. Sear the meat to brown, specially the bacon, then throw absolutely everything into the slow cooker on low for six to eight hours. (Have I mentioned how I do so adore my slow cooker?)
Before serving I thickened with a paste made from a good tablespoon of cornflour mixed with water and threw some chopped flat leafed parsley leaves over the top. I served it with mash, cos I'm no fool. 

win win

Today I had to drag myself out of the house as my printer's run out of toner. This, of course, necessitated a trip two suburbs away to the refilling toner shop in Hamilton. Fortuitously I found a park, and, excitingly, it was smack bang in front of the Smith Family op shop. J'adore op shops and it's my motto that it's a sin to pass one by. Ducking in I flicked through the clothes, but nothing jumped out and bit me on the credit card, so I went to the treasure chest that is the linen section when, "Oh, hello, fancy meeting you here!"

Now we've been looking for fabric to cover the cane day bed in the living room for yonks. And it's soooo hard to find anything nice. We'd quite like a subtle floral, with roses, in a kind of washed out colour. Nana chic. Well colour me chuffed if I didn't find a bedspread/sheet/valance thingy in just the colours I wanted - in a pretty rose pattern too. It even had a ruffle along one side that was the exact length of my day bed. And it was only $4 - a stark contrast to the gazilion dollars per metre we were previously looking at. It's the perfect size, so now I just need to develop the sewing skills necessary to cover the mattress. 

I rock at op-shopping.

boystuff v girlstuff

Although I'm undoubtedly a girly girl, with sprinkles on top, there are some 'boy things' that I do. I take care of the cars, get them serviced etc (hell, I used to do it myself when we had our little Morris Minor!). I'm also keen to be in charge of the open fire in our farmhouse next week. However, I don't want to be the person to take down the fairy lights. Now, before you exclaim, I'm not one of those slatterns with christmas decorations up in July (oh wait, I am, but really, you can't see them 'cause they're hidden in the wisteria). Unfortunately I do have to be that person as my husband's knee injury precludes him from climbing ladders. Selfish.

I managed to reach up and pull most of them down, but there are two sections stuck in some particularly tenacious wisteria tendrils which are now just flapping around in the wind, reminding me that I need to get out the ladder and get climbing. I can't even enjoy my usual view of the veranda from my study window as all I can see is a flappy pile of lights. Sigh, another task to add to the to dos...

now what?

Project Runway's done and dusted, ANTM was revealed - Demelza, of course! Now how am I supposed to spend my nights? Well you just know that I'll be jumping on the crazy train that is America's Next Top Model - although how many seconds into an episode will I get before Tyra makes me want to pluck my eyeballs out with a toothpick? And Australian Project Runway - how do I feel about that? The ads have been cute, I'm liking the concept of Kristy Hinze, but the three 'designs' revealed on the stage at Luna Park last night... not so fond. I coveted items in the US show - I wanted to fly Rami over and have him design me something all lush and drapey (but I'd choose the colour - man, is that boy colourblind?) And Christian? Oh, I so want to keep him in my pocket and pull him out for moments of delicious giggles. 

Don't you fret about me though, a true TV addict never goes without.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

why i need to fall over a big bag of money that's just sitting on the sidewalk

So I can go to Petersham Nursery and have lunch at a long table filled with bouquets like this. Bliss!

This weekend

I'll be sitting here. Yes, chances are there'll be a glass in my hand. I will be ever-so-rugged up. I've found my thermals (which fortunately are an attractive shade of lavendar - not old lady beige) and will be taking my snuggly charcoal cashmere/wool Stella McCartney cardi (god love her for doing a range at Target). Over my lap will be a pale pink and ice cream Laura Ashely throw and I'll only move if the temperature moves into the minuses...


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?


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


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


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!


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


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.

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.


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

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,, 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. 

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...