Tuesday, March 31, 2009

due credit

Are you a credits lover or do you dash to leave your seat before the first name rolls up onto the screen? 

I'm a stick it till the end gal - for me, a movie's denouement is when the final credit has rolled. Luckily my hubby's content to sit with me - the final two patrons in a cinema, staff cleaning up the popcorn around us.

I've also started a tradition with my daughter. In the holidays she takes a friend to a kid's film and as the final credits roll, they're allowed to rush down to the front of the cinema to dance in the space below the screen while I sit there alternately reading the cast-list and smiling at their antics.

ma toilette

I love how french women attend to themselves. Dedicating a period each morning to grooming is a rather lovely way to start the day. I can be rather slapdash in that area, but am determined to allocate a little more time each day to putting myself together. I'm currently in love with a new skincare regime. I treated myself and my sad old skin to the Olay Definity range and I must say that I'm loving what it's doing. The cleanser has gorgeous little microbeads to buff away impurities and I adore the mousse moisturiser {they'd sold out of the regular stuff at Coles - obviously the advertising's paying off}. After spending too much time swimming and inadvertently sunning, dodgy blotches have taken up residence on my face. Apparently this range positively revels in fighting blotches and splotches - so, ding ding, let the first round commence!

day of judgement

Generally I couldn't give a toss what others think. Catch me on a good day and I'll simply raise an eyebrow, shrug my shoulders and not even give judgement a second thought. But this week, a few events have conspired to make me realise how judgy judgy so many women are. The whole working mum v stay-at-home mum raises vitriol and now it appears there's a new round - domestic goddesses v domestic drudges.

Obviously, if you've read a post or two on this blog, you'll know that I lurve cooking. Adore it. I enjoy cooking for my family and for my friends. It doesn't define me, but it makes me feel pretty bloody good. Sure, I work full-time {from home} but I also like to do the odd housekeepy thing. I like a nice clean sheet on a bed. I don't usually get around to making said bed until just before I climb into it again, but hey, freshly made beds every morning aren't my priority. That said, I don't judge women {or men!} for whom they are. If you leap out of bed, smoothing sheets and doonas before your feet touch the floor good for you. 

Now, how's this for a domestic moment? Last week I went to a Tupperware party {I know!} and one of the friends of the hostess brought along a lovely tray of nibbles. Delicious they were. Looked gorgeous, tasted sumptuous. I dug in wholeheartedly. However, another woman had to say, "Oh, how on earth does she find the time to make something like that?" Um, she prioritised that's how. Yes, turning up at a house with a tray of nibbles at 7pm is impressive - and laudable, not derisible.  If you're one of those people who can't do it - fine - I'm not going to judge you. If you are, again, woo hoo - no judging here.

Let's all stop, appreciate what others have done, and unless it somehow negatively impacts upon us {and not in a egotistical, jealous manner} let's just allow others to do what it takes to make themselves happy - and continue on our merry way.

Monday, March 30, 2009

raindrop rhapsody

Oh, it's raining at the moment - and more blissful timing we couldn't have asked for. My hubby had the day off so we spent the morning, after dropping our child at school, having a gorgeous breakfast at a new cafe called The Kitchen. I had a delish croque madame with chilli jam while hubby dug into some pretty spesh eggs benedict. Then we came home, hung out, then Matt went outside and pruned away in the front garden.

Our murraya is now the most perfect sphere, the buxus hedge perfectly squared off, vines have been tamed and the indigo spires is no longer taking over the perennial bed. After all that pruning it's heaven to receive a nice quenching dose of rain.

My mum and step-dad arrive on the weekend, so we're setting them to work helping us lay the stepping pavers in the courtyard and helping us finish off a few other jobs - they like to keep busy! I'm sure they'll be stunned to see how green we are in this part of NSW after coming up from their parched and charred area of Victoria. 

Ooh, rain on a tin roof - is there a more blissful sound?

pudding perfection

See this? It's pudding perfection. On Sunday we invited my hubby's sister and husband for lunch and I thought I'd make a bread and butter pudding - with croissants. Oh. My. God. Now, some of my puds have received acclaim - this received the equivalent of a 10 minute standing ovation - and it was dead-easy.

Slice up four to five butter croissants and spread them with jam - I used rhubarb spread and smoosh them into a buttered pie dish. Then mix together 3 tablespoons of caster sugar with three eggs and then add 300ml of pouring cream and 200 ml of milk. Mix until well combined and pour over the top of the croissants. Then {and here's the really yummy bit} drizzle the top with a tablespoon of golden syrup. Bake in a 180 degree oven till the top is golden and the custard is thickened - around 25 minutes. Cover it with foil if the top is browning too quickly. Serve with a dollop of vanilla icecream and bask in glory with words such as "Best pudding I've ever eaten in my life" ringing in your ears.

Friday, March 27, 2009

into the void

While I'm loving working from home, I'm not so fond of the isolation. Sending off my work via email is ever-so-handy, but it seems that people are becoming so increasingly busy that having the time to acknowledge a received email isn't happening. I'm normally ridiculously prompt answering my emails with a quick "Thanks!" - unless they're something I need to dwell on, in which case they may sit on the backburner for a while. But it seems that lately I'm spending a reasonable chunk of my working time wondering if a story or invoice has been received, dwelling on it for a week, before sending off another email to question the arrival of another email.

I wish my Mac Mail had a received mail function - where I could attach a read-receipt. But as it doesn't I think I'll just have to get over it, assume my emails have arrived and if they don't, then assume someone will ask me to send it again. I'm not taking on any more stress - it doesn't suit me. 

lift me up

I was reading Gala Darling yesterday and she had a phenomenally long list of super-cute things to do to banish the blues - check 'em out, even if you don't have the blues they're brilliant things everyone should do. 

My blues banishing list is short: find something pretty to look at. Here's my something pretty for today - Fendi sandals in my fave colour combo, and they're patent. Every frown would turn upside down with these decorating your tootsies.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

web of lies

Obviously I love the internet. It fuels my working life, my social life and is a major part of my r & r, but it bugs me when it's used for evil instead of good.

The other week I needed to buy a new washing machine, and, as I was happy with my current brand (Fisher & Paykel) decided to go with their eco-friendly aquasmart washer. My mother-in-law has one and she just adores it. So off I trot to the Black Friday sales, bag myself a bargain, then come home and do something stupid. I googled it.

This caused me to happen upon a review site where page after page caused my heart to plummet - and nearly stop. Every review dripped with vitriol. The loathing of this machine was phenomenol - you'd read better press for Pol Pot. Complaints varied, and praise was thin, until I happened upon a review that urge "Read the manual people!". See, the complaints seemed to be about lint, creasing, water levels and many other issues, that yep, were covered in the manual. See, Fisher & Paykel recommend liquid - or a low-sudsing front loader powder - and many complaints were about their regular powder not dissolving. Or they'd complain about creasing - when there's a no-iron wash. Or that there were problems washing sheets - easily resolved by selecting the sheets mode. Every complaint had a ready solution - in the manual.

I've had my machine for a few weeks now and I adore it. It washes beautifully. Spins dry so well that clothes need much less time on the line. Removes stains better than before - and wishes me a nice day when it's finished. I love it, but if I'd just read these negative reviews I would never have experienced it - and would have bought a less eco-friendly machine. And would that machine have wished me a nice day? Doubtful.

So now I need to hunt out this site, and do what others have done - post dozens of posts under different names - except mine will all be singing the praises of this wonderful machine. {ps: I won't post heaps of different posts - you know I'm far too law-abiding for that!}

great expectations

There is possibly nothing I love more than having friends over for dinner. I adore planning the menu, shopping, cooking and eating and drinking with good friends. However, lately I've had a few shockers. I've never been afraid to mess up when I'm cooking for friends. They know I've tried, and if something's completely inedible, there's always enough baguette or other ingredients to go down - or champagne to wash down a total failure. But the other week I had two shockers in the one meal. The first was seriously incinerating the caramelised radishes. Of course, my friend should feel honoured that I was so entranced by her company that I allowed them to char so violently - but I was peeved with myself. Then, my bernaise sauce split - irredeemably. Poop. Luckily my rib-eye steaks were still tender, but, it shook me.

So this weekend we have good friends coming for dinner for the first time. I'm not sure why, but even though we've been friends for years, I've yet to have them over, and because it's the first time I'm a little nervous. It's Thursday and I still have yet to finalise a menu. Working backwards I'm making a chocolate tart with creme fraiche and a few rasberries. For starters I'm doing a nibbles platter with chorizo, garlicky potatoes, olives, chilli haloumi. For a main I'm making a caramelised onion and red wine reduction... to serve with something beefy - but what? Maybe a standing rib roast and roasted vegies - all cooked on the bbq? Could I? Would I? Shall I?

Oh, what the hell - it's gotta taste good. And we went to Dan Murphy's on the weekend so I have bucketloads of wine and champers to wash it all down...

coaching clinic

I'm three weeks into coaching my daughter's netball team, and loving it sick. In three short weeks I've already noticed the power of positive. When we first started I refused to hear the words "I can't" as in, "I can't shoot" or "I'm crap at defence..." I've told everyone to say, "I'm learning how to shoot," or "I'm getting better at defence". And it's worked. In those three weeks, one of my players who swore she was "crap at shooting" {ps: crap - another word I've banned, despite it being one of my faves...} has shot some goals - that's four more than she's ever shot before. Guess where her confidence level is now? I'm also teaching them that when our team has the ball, every single player on the court is an attack player - and when they have the ball, everyone is defence. I'm already seeing their confidence rise, so I want to see it continue this Saturday for our first game, against one of the best teams in the comp. Gulp.

Positive gives you power. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

bad habits

Procrastination is probably my biggest vice. It causes me angst, stress and just makes me damned annoyed with myself. For example, for a few weeks now I've had piles of, well, crap, on the floor in front of my bookshelf to the right of my desk. Some of it was good, like novels a friend had passed on, some was bad, you know, stuff you keep 'just in case' and other stuff was unidentifiably odd. Now it's gone. I sat down with a bag and ditched 90 per cent of it, then went out, put all the paper in the recyling, anything for the salvos in my salvos bag, and pitched the rest. The books went on the actual bookshelf and now it's all blissfully organised and tidy - and now I have no more reason to procrastinate.

I can't bear my habit of saying, "oh, I really must do this," and am now determined to set a time and date and get on with it. If something really bugs me, I'll do it straight away. I won't walk past the overflowing recycling bin grumbling that I have to empty it soon - I'll empty it now. If there's a sticker on the floor for some unknown reason {not totally unknown, I do have a nine-year-old} then rather than stepping over it, I'll bend down, prise it off and walk off with a free space in my mind. I know, simple, but for some reason not something I've done in the past.

Setting a few must-do tasks for each day helps. Keeping the sink clear for example has a flow-on effect that spreads through my kitchen and helps the whole thing look cleaner. Spending 10 minutes before heading to bed tidying the living room means that the mornings go much smoother. Wiping down the bathroom sink and toilet daily means no massive one-a-week effort. Same with writing up the weekly menus {yep, week two and I'm still loving it!}.

Off to start a productive day now, with my lovely tidy study helping motivate me and get me moving!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

ain't life grand

When I was growing up I was lucky to have all four of my grandparents living. Actually, until I was 10 I also had great grandparents - three of them. And I saw plenty of them, which is one of the best memories I have of childhood. Every week my mum would visit her mum, my nana, and then we'd drive out to my great grandparents' house for lunch. They had the best garden, which is where my love for gardening began. You'd walk out the back and then through a gate into the secret garden, a glorious area framed by hedges and filled with flowering shrubs and rich green grass. My brother and I would play out the back before coming in for lunch. I remember always being amazed at how little my great grandmother would eat - one lamb cutlet, a spoonful of mashed potato {it seemed like a teaspoon-ful} and a little of a green veg. After lunch my great grandfather would lie in their teeny little sun-filled porch, on the floor, and have a nap. Then he'd wake up and give us a lolly from his secret stash.

We'd also spend time visiting my dad's parents. Every morning my dad would get up early and walk down the road {about a kilometre or so} to have breakfast with his mum and dad. Grandma would make fresh juice, and then serve up eggs. If we got up early enough, we could go too. I loved Grandma's poached eggs on toast with vegemite - yum. When I was really young my grandfather would get up at six, walk down the the lake in front of their house, dive in and swim for a mile. Every day. Every season. Even though he'd had a serious motor bike accident in his late teens, and had a seriously bunged-up leg, he still swam every day. It kept his body moving, and his mind active. My grandfather taught me a lot that I'm still putting into action.

That's why I'm glad that my husband's parents live nearby. I try whenever possible to involve them in my daughter's life, particularly as my parents live on opposite ends of Australia {North Queensland and Melbourne!}. At least when my parents come to visit they spend a few days to a week here, so it's a nice, intensive visit. Thinking back on my childhood has made me determined to make even more of an effort to spend extra time with Matt's mum and dad when they get back from their UK holiday. It's those simple things that create such special childhood moments and I want to do my best to ensure that my daughter's childhood memories are filled with magical moments.

global warming?

Okay, it's autumn and it's meant to be 30 degrees today. Crazy. My golden robinia out the front still hasn't lost any leaves, positive that it's still summer. The poor thing will probably just dump every leaf mid-winter, and then start sprouting new buds the next day.

My mum and step-dad arrive in a week, on their way to a kombi jaunt up north. This crazy unseasonable weather will at least mean they can take advantage of the pool. It'll be odd as they haven't seen any of our lengthy renovations - just the starting point and the end result - none of the mess in-between. We'll also be asking them to knuckle down and help us get a few things finished off. Now that the grass has settled in the courtyard we can lay the stepping pavers to the pool gate - and use the lawn we dig up to patch our front lawn with lovely Sir Walter buffalo - rather than the mutley breed we've got out there now.


Monday, March 23, 2009

screen time

I must see this. After happening upon the actual Grey Gardens one evening, I've developed an obsession. As soon as I heard that this film was in development, with Drew and Jessica Lange, well, I died. However, after squealing my way through the trailer last week I was devastated to learn that it's screening on HBO - and do we have an HBO in Australia? I think not. Please tell me that someone's picking this up to play in Aus... Someone? Anyone? C'mon, if only for the fashion! {and those roses in the background, oh my}

monday moaning

Mondays always bug me, but I'm determined to get over it. So today, I started off well. I washed up the remainders of last night's feast, rinsed too many bottles and popped them in the recycling and put on a load of sheets. I arrived at the laundry just in time to see my load finished and to discover that my machine tells me to "have a nice day". Why, thank you, I will! I've also written up this week's menu plan all ready to take to the supermarket later this afternoon. Organisation is the best drug.

All this busyness put me in a really good mood. So good that even though I'm still chasing the only person I need quotes from for a story, and she STILL hasn't got back to me a week later, I'm okay with it. It'll come. I just need to do whatever I can to get them. It'll happen. Oh, and I feel so good that even when my husband emailed me to say that someone had smashed the quarterpane in his car I didn't scream in frustration, or curl into a ball of angst, I just called my mechanic and asked for a recommendation and now have a guy coming to fix it in the morning. 

I know why they broke in - my daughter had left one of her handbags on the backseat and they obviously saw it, broke in, and then were sorely disappointed with its contents {oh, and they were blokes because I found, lying next to it in the gutter, a pretty pink Chanel lipgloss that my daughter had obviously 'borrowed'...}. Live and learn. I know never to leave anything of value on display in a car - but I didn't even think that a child's bag would fool someone - except maybe a drunk thief...

So now I'm about to get stuck into work, stuck into the PR gal who needs to get me these quotes and get on with it all. After all, it's a glorious day... who can't be happy? And I'm super-happy knowing that I'll be sleeping soundly on freshly washed sheets, dried in this glorious autumnal sunshine. What's better than that? Ah, that would be nothing!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

cheezburgers anyone?

I reckon I've had about 20 or so cats in my lifetime, but none have had such a love of lying prone, fluffy tummy exposed, as Mr Mulberry Toulouse. It gets me every time, despite his naughtiness and total disdain for my existence.

See, cats love me. I go for a walk, cats come sprinting into their front garden, knowing I'm a sucker for a good patting session. Every cat I've ever owned has adored me - except this little blue number. Mulberry's a daddy's boy, and if he can't have Matt, he'll take our daughter. Me? I'm just the staff - I feed him, water him and change his kitty litter. Maybe that's it - a disdain for those "downstairs". When we bought him his registered name was Lord Rajah... Typical upper class...

Actually, I think he's warming to me - two years on. He probably realises that as I work from home I'm his best option for daytime affection. The other day he actually plonked himself down next to me and allowed me to scratch his head for around five minutes. Yep, I'm blessed.

oh baby baby

This was my lunch - blackened baby barramundi on a salad of leaves, tomatoes and bread - with a lime mayo. Oh baby. It was divine! My hubby had a fabbo pasta with prawns and baby calamari, which was utterly perfect. Even served on plastic plates it was mouthfillingly beautiful.

blue hues

How pretty is the sky today! I had to take this shot of two of my gorgeous red roses against the perfectly azure hue. Seriously, my roses at the moment are just kicking serious butt - gorgeousness! We're having a pretty spesh sunday. After breakfast we walked down to a friend's house and then meandered down to the Wine and Waves festival at the beach. There we had a few glasses of wine {rosé, verdello and semillion were the tipples of choice between us} and then a plate of delish food from a stall set up by our fave restaurant. Then home for a swim, a few chapters of a new book, coffee, and now it's nearly time for another swim. Maybe we'll get some gardening done - or maybe I'll just content myself with having a blissful day of rest.


I believe in teaching children cooking skills from an early age. For a start, it shows them the whole store to table process that food goes through, they develop an understanding of the basics, and they're more likely to eat what they've prepared themselves. 

My nine-year-old and her friend are on the back veranda eating scrambled eggs that were totally completed, go to whoa, by the girls {Annabella took great delight in showing Hollie all the steps}. They're smooth, creamy and delicious and would give Bill Grainger a run for his money {Annabella follows Bill's method, but doesn't need to use a cookbook anymore.}.

I keep reading about a generation of people growing up without the most basic of domestic skills, of being unable to identify the most ordinary vegetables {when there are kids who can't identify a potato you've got a problem}. That's so sad. There's nothing more satisfying than choosing a delicious, nutritious meal, shopping for the best ingredients, preparing it and serving it up. I adore the challenge of coming up with new ways to 'eat a rainbow' so we get all the nutrients we need.

Tonight our nephew's coming to dinner so I'm making my new love - rib eye steaks - on the bbq and serving it with fresh beetroot relish and a rainbow 'coleslaw'. I've got red cabbage, spanish onions, carrots, zucchini and walnuts for the salad - and I'll dress it with a red wine vinegar and chilli dressing. Yum.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

job lot

We've been spending most weekends just pottering away at the odd job. Last weekend I went through my piles of mags and got rid of two categories {apparently so our cat Mulberry could have somewhere new to rest his head!}. This weekend we're heading outdoors to de-weed the construction debris down the side of the house. We'll slash it all down just in time for the green waste collection next week. Then it's time to work out what to do down there. I'm hankering for some soil to plant some herbs and veg - and maybe even espalier a lemon and lime tree along the fence... In time.