Wednesday, August 06, 2008
I am quite possibly one of the biggest fans of Sex and the City, and, undoubtedly, Carrie's number one admirer. However, while I get so many things about her, I can't come to grips with her taste in men. I've already mused about Berger (erk), and let's not get into the Jazz Man with the pork pie hat (...?) and while Big has a certain appeal, I'm just not feeling it. But here's where I go completely spare. Aiden. I love Aiden. I would never let Aiden go. He's hot, he's thoughtful, he calls her PopTart (which inexplicably makes me tingle) and on the episode last night, she came home and he was cooking TO Copacabana. Now, when a straight man's getting his groove on to the tale of Lola, the showgirl, that's it, I've got one melted heart happening in my chest.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
My husband and I (good grief, how Queen-like does that sound - or is that just in my head?) have been instituting good habits lately. We're becoming tidy people. We're becoming people that don't mind if you just "drop in" 'cause the house looks just fine. Not perfect, that'd be weird, but fine.
We've been all domestically blissful and tidying together. You know, stacking the dishwasher straight after dinner, putting the clean clothes away into drawers, rather than just shifting piles of folded stuff from one surface to another. And it's nice.
You see, I like my house, it's pretty. And it's always been offensive when its prettiness has been obscured by crap. I've also discovered that the best thing is that tidying begets tidying. Because everything's in the right place, we'll tend to then move on and clean out a drawer, or a shelf, or wash a window or two.
We've been keeping on top of the gardens too, and today, I only spent 15 minutes weeding - rather than it being a 15 hour job (truly! Cottage gardens are much more labour-intensive than they look!) This also meant we could get in and deal with some other fiddly jobs that are normally pushed back in an attempt to hack away at the weed situation.
It's been nearly two weeks now since we've established these fine habits, and I'd quite like to stick to them.
In my early carnivorous years chicken was my favourite meat. These days though, chicken doesn't always rock my boat. I do love spanish chicken, but probably because it's an excuse to eat chorizo. Hence, tonight's meal - an excuse to eat prosciutto... should you need one.
500g chicken mince
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (I used a piece of dry baguette)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 small onion, finely diced or grated
the zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
12 slices prosciutto
Mix together all ingredients in a bowl (use your hands, go on, just wash them well afterwards). Then, after wetting your hands, form the mince into sausage-like fingers. Leave to rest for 10 minutes then wrap in prosciutto. Heat a little olive oil in a pan till piping hot then start to saute sausages till golden brown on all sides and cooked through. So yum.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
I heard of a deed so good this week it didn't just warm my heart, it nearly made it spontaneously combust. My in-laws live about 45 minutes away, in Maitland. They're in their 70s, but still like to do plenty in the yard and around the house. But they've been a bit under the weather lately, a chest infection caught both of them and has hung on for weeks.
Now, the other day, they got a load of firewood delivered for their heater. A whole uteload of wood was dumped out the front and James had to pick it up, load it into a barrow and shift it to the wood pile around the back. Now this isn't an easy job for a strapping young lad, let along a man in his 70s. Anyway, one load and James was struggling, sweat pouring down his face despite the five degree temperature. It breaks my heart just thinking about it. So he gave up, came in, washed his face and they set off to do some shopping.
The next morning there's a knock on the door. It's a bloke from down the street, a guy who James used to teach, and always had a little bit of extra time for. This guy had seen James struggling, raced home to get his barrow and ute, but by the time he got back, James and Annette had gone out for the afternoon.
So, God love him, this bloke came back early the next morning and wheeled the whole load around the back, accepting only a glass of water and the most greatful thank-yous. When I called later that day, Annette told me the story and I was so extraordinarily touched. It's obviously a case of paying it forward though. My in-laws are the kindest, and most generous people you could meet. As a teacher James would have been one of those chatty teachers that everyone loved - and who always had time for everyone - even the tearaways that other teachers steered clear of.
That's what I call good behaviour. And kindness will always be rewarded in kind.
Um, you know how the other day I couldn't find the receipt for my printer, computer and software for tax purposes? Well, I went and visited 'nice man' at the Mac shop and sheepishly took my new receipt, jumped in the car, and put the receipt in the glove box - because I didn't want to fold it and shove it in my teeny bag. Oh, what was that I put the receipt on top of? Ah ha, that would be the original receipt. oh.
I walked around the supermarket today tutting and tsking like a pensioner at the price of groceries (speaking of pensioners, how on earth do the poor things survive? I find everything astronomically-priced and we're on two incomes!) Thank goodness for the slow cooker. I bought a kilo of beef blade roast - a huge big chunk of meat - for $10. Brought it home, chopped up some onions, placed them on the bottom of the slow cooker, popped the beef on top, seasoned it, then placed some halved potatoes, sweet potatoes and whole, baby onions around the edges. I poured the requisite 1/2 cup of water over the top, turned it on low, and tonight, around 8 hours later, it'll be ready for dinner. Of course, we'll get seconds so that'll be two meals, for three, for around $15 (including veg). I like my vegies crispy so I'll pop them in the oven on high for ten minutes while I rest the meat and use the pan juices to make a gravy (if there's heaps, I'll transfer a ladle-ful to a pan and add some red wine, if there's only a small amount, I'll turn the slow cooker to high, add the wine and stir till it thickens). I'll serve it with some steamed green beans to get our vitamin B intake soaring.
Monday, July 28, 2008
I've gone dead-off being disorganised. It's not clever, and it's not funny. So we've been going through the house, room at a time, tidying and tossing out - and boy, it feels good. Because we'd been organising, our dining table was clear which meant my hubby was able to sit down last night and go through all his medical bills for his knee op and recovery. And because he did that I was able to visit medicare this morning and get a rather special refund that should help pay for some of our pool waterline tiles (should the rain ever ease enough for them to get back to work on building the actual pool...)
And while Matt was being productive, I sat myself down and started getting things ready for my tax. Now, I remember years ago laughing along at a co-worker when she described plonking a shoe box full of receipts in front of her accountant at tax time. Let me tell you how I wish I'd put all my receipts in the one shoe box. My receipts are, well, kind of all over the place really, and the only one I can't find is for my computer, printer and software - yes, that would be the most expensive and claimable things I've bought! However, in the frantic scrabble to find it, I was able to do some tidying of one cupboard, toss some books I've no use for in the 'to sell' pile and find a couple of books I'd forgotten existed and would quite like to read. That makes me happy.
Now, although I didn't find the receipt I did call the Mac shop and the nice man's going to print out another copy for me today. Bless him. Every shop should have a nice man...
Saturday, July 26, 2008
I would like to add a new feature to my blog: Saturday's Shoe. Now, I'm not kidding myself, or you, that I can afford these - but aren't they purdy! I have an electric blue dress that would be set off nicely by a pretty t-bar heel and although I'm a Leo, this is the only time I've ever been tempted by an animal print. And boy, am I tempted... I am woman hear me Rrrrrroar.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Mould I'm talking about, mould. Not you, I adore you!
Now, on June 29 I sprayed my shower recess with a mix of bi-carb soda, white vinegar and water and gave it a good scrub a dub to remove a wide range of multi-hued moulds. A lot of mould. Not the amount of mould that's the equivalent of "Oh, excuse the mess" when you walk into a pristine home with barely a magazine at a jaunty angle. Serious, disgusting, you'd thing a bunch of boys lived in the bathroom mould. (I'd been busy, and when I'm busy, I'm a slattern - it's my thing).
Anywhoodle, today is July 25 which is nearly a calendar month later and guess how much mould is in my shower recess? None. Guess how many times I've cleaned it since then? Yep, none. Bi-carb and vinegar kill mould, are nice to the environment and don't make you choke on toxic fumes.
If, like me, you think pretty-smelling things do a better job, pop a few drops of essential oil in the bottle (I adore orange blossom in the bathroom - it smells clean and fresh, but I'll never say no to a few drops of rose oil).
I'm an unflinchingly optimistic person. I refuse to believe that something can't be done, and always find a positive in a negative. Today, I'm struggling. With the excavations for our backyard starting on Wednesday they've been stopped dead by the relentless downpour. Now, when it rains in Newcastle, it rains. Hard. And long. Until recently we had nearly four months without a dry day. I know, it's impossible to believe when we are still hearing about the drought which I know is affecting so many. But here, I'm dead off the rain. I don't like the fact that half the retaining wall is pulled down and there's an exposed metre and a half of just sheer dirt and clay between us and the enormous house behind us on the hill. I'm also not terribly fond of the fact that the exposed surface where they've excavated on the ground is just clay - so even when it stops raining it'll just sit there until there's a lot of sun and/or wind to dry it up.
I need distraction, and work's not cutting it. In my study I look straight out the window behind my computer - and I see rain. Or if I turn my head to the right I look out the glass panel at the top of the door - and see rain. I am grateful that we weeded, fertilised and mulched the gardens recently. Hopefully the rain will prod the just-pruned roses to start shooting. Red-tipped shoots and the promise of blooms might just turn my mood around.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Yes, I may be going a little too far with that title, cause, really, nothing's scarier than a clown. However, I've discovered something while cleaning that kinda made the hackles on the back of my neck stand up.
I've dumped my vacuum cleaner. Not by text, not by post it, but in the old fashioned, "Just ignore it and hope it'll go away kind of way." Actually, it wasn't really a dumping, more of a mutual "you're fired", "No, you can't fire me, I quit". "You can't quit, you're fired" kind of thing. See, it's stopped working properly and I don't really feel inclined to fix it (the fridge and washing machine are first in line for the repairman's long-overdue visit). So what I'm doing is I'm sweeping - yep, even the rug (and you know what? Sweeping is a far better way to remove cat hair than vacuuming!) However, sweeping has a down side. While it's completely carbon friendly, and is a nice form of incidental exercise, it reveals in piles of growing horror exactly how much dust, dirt and hair was on your floor.
Now, I've been sweeping every day or two, not like my weekly, or fortnightly vacuum and yet great gobs of hair still appear. Mulberry sheds so much blue fluff I wouldn't be surprised to see him rendered completely hairless, but nup, he's not cultivating a Kojak look just yet.
Does fluff, dust and hair have the same breeding cycle as wire hangers?
In exciting news yesterday the diggers came into our yard and started excavations. Whooppeeee! It's amazing the changes they created in a single day. Our yard's much lower than it was yesterday, and happily, looks larger. I can now actually picture how low our pool will be (I'll be able to gaze into it from my kitchen window!) and where everything's going.
So because everything was going along so swimingly with our pool construction the weather decided that, gee, haven't rained for a while, let's see what a combination of a downpour and a newly excavation can create. Um, that'd be mud. I have fingers, toes and even strands of hair crossed that the rain will let up and a great gust of wind will come and dry the yard out so they can come back next week some time. Make a wish with me?
Monday, July 21, 2008
I'm almost not game enough to say it, but I think the excavators are coming in tomorrow. It's been such an amazingly drawn out process. Everything has taken so much longer than expected - ridiculously so. I guess because I've always worked on magazines to me, a deadline is a deadline and must be met or there'll be blank pages - not what the reader requires. So if I'm given a deadline, I stick to it - unless circumstances cause me to beg for an extra day. So when I'm told I'll have plans by a Friday, colour me naive, but I expect them on a Friday, not months later. The structural plans that were meant to take two weeks took three months - and that's after we had to keep sending them back because my husband kept discovering major errors (retaining walls located in our neighbour's yard - other walls that didn't exist...) and now, the construction certificate that takes "seven days, max" is still not complete - 25 days later. Sigh.
But the excavators are still coming in tomorrow to do 'pre-excavation' work - whatever that is. I don't care, so long as it's progress. With only four months till summer I want to be swimming in my own backyard - and not in the Barbie paddling pool - in our real pool! After all, I already have the frock for our "pool cooling party" and have chosen a cocktail to co-ordinate (it's a red and white strapless frock and I reckon a pale blue cocktail "Splashing Out" will be just peachy).
Here's how I'm going to make said cocktail (served in a martini glass - the only way to drink a cocktail)
A shot of vodka
A shot of blue Curacao (for colour - use more or less to match your pool - our pool's going to be a very retro ice blue - with a white interior so I reckon just a splash of curacao will do it)
A shot of Limoncello
Soda water to top it up
I'll garnish it with a twist of lemon zest and will pop a red mermaid on the side, what's a water-themed cocktail without a mermaid perched on the side? Nibbles to go along with it will include chicken, chorizo and haloumi kebabs, prawn puffs with a smoked chilli dipping sauce and some other delights... Bring on summer.
I was applying my moisturiser today and realised I'm a bit of a floozy when it comes to products. There's one of almost every label on the market inside my bathroom cabinet, dressing table or linen closet (where I keep the overflow - that's what happens when you write about beauty!). But there are some brands I hero worship because I know I'm going to love what they do. Here they are:
Moisturiser: Gatineau. Day, night, anti-aging, body, serums, they all work for me no matter what the season. And they smell yummy too. And their facials? Bliss!
Hair: MOP. I love their shampoo and conditioner, and their curl cream works a treat too. But I must admit, I'm now more than a bit partial to the Kevin Murphy Motion Lotion. It defines curls, fights frizz and doesn't give my hair an awful crunchy look a-la Michael Jackson in the Pepsi commercial era.
Lips: Guerlain. Their kiss kiss range is infinitely pashable. I adore the Cherry Shine which is more than a gloss, more than a stain - and with a hint of glitter thrown in. I'm down to the last remnants of mine, which shows how much I love it.
Eyeshadow: Ooh, a tough one. I like my fashion colours, but I need it to go on smoothly and stay. I'm tossing up between Chanel and MAC here - with the odd Dior thrown in too.
Eyeliner: Liquids are easy - you can go cheap and cheerful here - but for the ultimate black pencil, for me, it's Shiseido. Goes on smoothly without pulling, and shapens easily.
Foundation: I love Diorskin, or Chanel for a porcelain finish. I adore Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser in summer for a glow that covers any nasties.
Mascara: For night it's Dior Blackout. Long, lush, thick and not sticky. Daytime I like Napoleon Madame Lash.
Nail Polish: once a season I treat myself to Chanel, but for fashion colours that go on smoothly and last, it's Revlon all the way baby. For pretty on-fashion toes, they've got the hottest colours around.
Blush: Becca creme - no others will do.
Problem solving: adult acne, super-dry patches - all can be solved by Dermalogica. Reliable, effective products with responsible research behind it.
Lipbalm: Propolene. I've lost my rose-scented tube and need to find me another quick smart. I love well-moisturised lips and need a balm I can apply before my lippy. Napoleon's Lip Primer also works a treat though.
Facemask: Palmer's Skin Success Eventone Brightening Facial Mask. This is soooooo cheap and Sooooooooo Good! It actually does what it says and leaves your face looking brighter, skintone more even and feeling daisy-fresh.
Perfume: Daily, I'm a sucker for Lovely by SJP. It's just, lovely! To vamp it up a notch I love me a bit of Tom Ford (who wouldn't?)
I'm not one for slavishly following fashion - that's for skinny 20 teens - I know what suits me and it's vintage or op-shops all the way for moi. That said, I do like to update my make-up every season. I'm always checking out the mags and on-line for looks that'll update my face and this season, it's all about the cats eye. Now, I'm 40, there's no way I'll be doing an Amy Winehouse style line, only she can get away with that one. But a well done cats eye will do amazing things to your peepers.
Personally, I like a liquid liner. Years as a goth in my late teens had me wielding liquid liner like a pro - but there is a secret - practice and position. You can't expect to master something so tricky so well straight away - otherwise everyone would be doing it. Sit yourself down one afternoon with plenty of cleanser and eye-make-up remover and have a play. Now, as for the position, I like to keep my eyeliner on a firm surface, so when I'm painting on my upper eye line, I'm resting the foot of my palm on my cheekbone - or resting it in my cheek. This makes my eyeliner work almost like a compass.
Secondly, keep your line as close as possible to your lash line. The aim is to look as though you've got thick, lush lashes. If you want it thicker, so a second line next to it - or flatten your brush out more by pressing down a little.Stop a few millimetres from the end of your eye before flicking up at the same angle as a nicely curled eyelash.
Colour-wise there are plenty of options. Black's the ultimate, and looks perfect with a flawless foundationed face, a hint of blush and a red lip. I had an amazing brown happening yesterday (YSL Eyeliner Moire) and today I'm going with a MAC fluidline in turquoise (I'm wearing a red and white patterned dress to go shopping, it seemed like a logical option).
I was dead impressed with myself last night making yummo carrots to go with the leftover meatloaf and brand new mash. I'd sliced them beautifully on the diagonal - so well they could easily go undercover at a silver-service dinner. Then I popped them in my little saucepan, covered them with chicken stock, added a little butter and some salt, pepper and finely chopped parsley. YUM.
However, I set them to simmer and then wandered off to hang up some washing - I know, what was I thinking, it's a four minute simmer at the most, and hanging the washing is a good 10 minute job. Of course I came back to a very, very, very burnt pan - complete with tragic diagnonally-sliced carrots stuck to the bottom. Not happy Jan.
Now, because this was one of my good pans (not a copper one - I'm still not grown up enough for those!) I worked hard at getting it clean. Here's how:
Rinse out and scrape and burnt vegies off the bottom of the pan. Cover the entire base with bi-carb soda and then fill pan around 1/2 way (or up till where your burn marks end). Now, put it on the stove, turn to high and bring to the boil. Allow to boil for one minute, then turn off the heat and pop lid on. Allow to soak overnight, then drain, and wash as usual - scrubbing off the loosened black stuff with a scourer. If it's really, really stubborn, repeat the bi-carb, but pour some white vinegar over the top so it fizzes. Then fill with water and do it again. I had one really badly burnt saucepan once and after soaking it over night I left it in the backyard with the lid off. I do believe that sunshine has special healing powers (notice how tomato sauce stains when hung on the line will be gone that afternoon?).
Next time I'll be hovering over my carrots like parents over a first-born sleeping babe.
Friday, July 18, 2008
I've realised that the list of what makes me happy (pinkofperfection project for July) is far too vast just for the 16 I dashed off yesterday - and is a rather nice start to the day. So here's some more.
17. Walking along the beach at that time when the ocean is shimmering and dusted with a melange of pearlescent colours - from pink, to yellow to the iciest blue (it was 4.30pm yesterday - might be 4.35 today).
18. Smiling at as many other walkers, runners, surfers getting their exercise fix down by the beach - and feeling joyous when some smile back.
19. Finding a treasure in an op shop or antique store.
20. Old people holding hands. Actually, anyone holding hands. Life's all about expressing how you feel so anyone from toddlers to the elderly grasping digits will elicit an "Oh, bless" from me. Here's my most recent favourite. At the premiere of Sex and the City a distinguished elderly lady entered. From her gorgeous grey chignon to her leopard print accessories, she was everything I want to be at her age. Then I noticed her hubby behind her - resplendent with the most extraordinary moustache cultivated outside Yosemite Sam. Now, this was cute! Then, at the end of the film, she got up, he got up, and they held hands and walked out together. Good grief, I thought I'd cried enough during the film! That's why love lasts.
21. That first cup of coffee - especially when it's served in a pale blue bol from Paris.
22. Emile Simon's tunes. Discovered her yet? She'll make you smile.
23. Unexpected thoughtfulness from my hubby. 15 years and he still does it for me.
24. Spying people walking past gaining joy from our front garden. I love a person who is drawn to smiling by a few well-placed flowers.
25. A good book, a comfy chair and a really good cup of tea in a china cup. Sigh.
Tonight is a very special event. It's the first time I'm using a recipe from my new (old) and very, very spesh Margaret Fulton's Crockpot Cookbook. I'm making Coq au Vin - one of our faves, but I normally do it in the le crueset rather than the slow cooker.
Because I'm kind, I'll share the recipe with you.
1.5kg chicken pieces (I'm using drumsticks and thighs, cause they're more moist)
3 rashers of bacon, diced
1/2 cup spring onions, diced (I'm using French Shallots)
4 small onions halved (as above)
250g small mushrooms, whole
1 clove garlic, crushed (I'll use three, we're immune to the stuff)
1 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 small new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
In a large frypan sauté diced bacon and onion until the bacon fat is clear. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and brown well on all sides. Remove the chicken when it has browned and set aside. Put the peeled, quartered onions (or whole french shallots), mushrooms and garlic in the crock-pot. Add the browned chicken pieces, bacon and spring onions, salt and pepper, thyme, potatoes, wine and chicken stock. Cover and set on low for 7 - 8 hours, or high 3-4 hours.
Serve garnished with plenty of chopped parsley.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
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.
Sarah at one of my regular must-see blogs, www.pinkofperfection.com 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...
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.
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?
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
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).
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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...
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
So I can go to Petersham Nursery and have lunch at a long table filled with bouquets like this. Bliss!
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 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
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
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...
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!
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
salt and pepper
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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...
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
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
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Sunday, May 25, 2008
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
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...
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
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
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.)
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
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:
Posh and Becks (I know!)
David and Amy Sedaris and anyone associated with them
Audrey Tatou (yes, even despite the DaVinci Code)
Sarah Jessica Parker
People I'll always loathe, and who'll find it very difficult indeed to win my affection (should they so desire)
Katherine Heigl (should I ever meet her I would so mispronounce her name)
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.
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...
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.