Sunday, September 02, 2012

sweet sunday

It's an utterly glorious day out there today - not that we've seen it yet, been too busy cooking up crispy bacon, yummy eggs and making bowls of coffee. Yep, it's been a relaxing father's day in this neck of the woods. I'll meander off to the Farmer's Market soon. Husband's requested tart tartin for father's day dinner tonight.. Best buy some yummy apples! And some meat for the main too!

Hope you have a lovely sunday x

Friday, August 31, 2012

flowers for friday

Hello Friday, my, you are looking pretty today... So, can you believe that it's the last day of August AND the last day of winter? Hurrah! I am so looking forward to spring. Longer days mean before-dinner bikerides. And warmer days mean SWIMMING! Yes please.

So, how's your weekend panning out? Ours is busy. On Saturday we're going down to watch the grand final of the netball season. Our team didn't make it, but we're off to cheer on the friends who did. Saturday night I'm catching up with some uni friends and we'll dance the night away to a band we used to dance to back in the day. But rather than dancing upstairs at Tatts, we'll be at the Lass. Same old. It won't be a late night though as it's father's day on Sunday. Hubby has requested breakfast in bed and a home cooked meal. Bless. There will be pressies too.

Have a lovely one - and enjoy your Friday. I think it's going to be a very good day indeed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

spoiled rotten

I live less than five minutes walk from this: the largest ocean baths in the Southern Hemisphere. And, arguably, one of the prettiest. My breath never ceases to be taken whenever I stand at the headland looking down over Merewether, across the gorgeous new SurfHouse, down past Dixon to Bar Beach. It's stunning. It's one of the reasons why we moved back to Newcastle 11 years ago.

When we moved to Sydney I thought we'd never come back here. But in the few short years we lived in Newtown and then Bronte Newcastle started experiencing an incredible renaissance. Darby Street swelled from a couple of restaurants and a cafe to the fabulous eating strip that it is now - and that confidence has now spread across the town. People are doing great things - which is inspiring others to try as well.

We are spoiled for choice. When I want to catch up with a friend for coffee we can easily rattle off a list of 10 cafés to meet at. Easily. And we've left off loads. Sure, we have our faves {often ones without the annoying parking metres out the front that double the cost of your latte} - but there are still many on my must-try list.

And fine dining? Woah. Where do I start? I think what makes Newcastle's dining scene so exceptional is the genuine delight the chefs have in their food and in their town. I follow a few chefs on Twitter and love checking out their pics where they're foraging for Samphire off the Newcastle coastline to feature in that night's dishes. Tim Montgomery from Bacchus {which would have to win some kind of prize for the country's most stunning restaurant, with an inspired menu to match} showed pics the other day of the community garden they're working on near the cathedral - talk about herbs with a view! And every time there's a glowing article about Newcastle {and there are MANY - the secret is out} the chefs and cafés are the first to sing each other's praises.

We do cool things in Newy too. Like this:

This is the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery cocktail night for The Archibalds. Local restaurant Silo, on the grittily-pretty Honeysuckle harbour, supplied the cocktails and fingerfood for the night. While local artists and a subject discussed their work. Brilliant. Unique. Novel. I can't wait to see what they come up with when they expand.

Here's a pic from one of my fave nights recently. The Roost Creative {a Renew Newcastle project} came up with a brilliant idea to host an exhibition at Good Brother café - featuring local business Sid Cohen's rubber stamps. It was called Good Rubber and a range of fab artists redesigned their art for a new medium. Rubber stamps. So. Much. Talent. The night went off. Over 200 people RSVPd on facebook saying they were coming and the people spilling out onto the sidewalk pretty much backed up those numbers. The joy in the room was palpable.

At the end of the night most of us trekked down to The Terrace Bar, the newest small bar to open in Newcastle. It was like stepping into a very cool party. There was a DJ spinning vintage vinyl, with tunes from the 50s, and loads of sharp-dressed guys and gals dancing up a storm: complete with authentic moves. Can you imagine? Joyful.

I love new ideas, new concepts, new things to do. Last Saturday night was the first Darby Street Bohemia Festival - so we went along. We saw a lot of cool things. Like this:

Look at the love and care put into the stall at Blackbird Corner. Vintage tablecloths, gorgeous bunting, fabulous smiling faces. It's people like these that make this town a true pleasure to live in.

And it continues. Work is currently taking place in the old ANZ Bank building in Newcastle, turning it into a small bar. Excitement doesn't quite cover how I feel. And it won't be the last. While we continue to enthusiastically support these new initiatives, more will be born. How GOOD is that?

Here's the latest article, complete with food recommendations by chefs. Great, now I have to add MORE places to try...

Love this city. Do you? Share your tales here. Go on - hit me with MORE places I need to try.

Monday, August 27, 2012

meal planning monday

Can you smell spring? I can. Whether it’s the longer days, or the jasmine that’s just starting to pop or something else completely undefined – warmer weather’s on its way. So here’s a trans-seasonal meal plan, especially for this weather.


One of my friends on Twitter mentioned chicken pie the other day, and it got me hankering. So I’m going to make chicken pot pies tonight. With mash, peas and corn.


It’s my daughter’s long ballet class tonight, so I should make her a meal she loves to come home to. She’s a HUGE Shepherd’s Pie (pictured above) fan so I’ll make that and serve it with broccoli, carrots and some roasted pumpkin and sweet potato.


I haven’t made homemade pizza for a few weeks. So let’s have those shall we? With salad.


I have exercise class till 7pm so hubby and daughter can whip up some chicken and avocado burritos for dinner. With a corn salsa and a large salad.


I have a niggling feeling that I have something on this night, but nothing’s on my calendar. Let’s hope a reminder pops up. But, until it does, I’ll plan a simple meal anyway: my version of Nigella’s Spaghetti Carbonara.


Surely it’ll be bbq weather by now. I need a bbq. Pork ribs, a simple rice salad and lots of greens in a salad sound about right to me.


I’m almost over Sunday roasts – so let’s give it a final grand hurrah shall we? With a standing rib roast with all the trimmings. Complete with roasted carrots, parsnips and beetroot too. Yum.
So that’s our week, how about you?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

happy weekend

Hey, how NICE is it that it's the weekend? Super-nice I reckon. We've had a great morning. Woke up, went down and watched the netball finals (where the team that knocked us out last week had a surprise one point victory over the team who were expected to win - yay!) and then it was the netball team's end-of-season lunch at Grill'd. The girls hung out and ate burgers while a few mums and I had lunch at the café next door (prawn and ginger fritters - hello! - Lotus at The Junction does good lunch).

We're soon heading out to the Darby Street Bohemia Festival and then it's off to my in-laws who just came back home from two months in the UK (lucky ducks!). Then, tomorrow it's lunch for our niece's 18th birthday. Phew, busy.

Enjoy your day, and your weekend. I hope some of it involves time spend relaxing (preferably in a lovely swinging chair like this one - how NICE would that be?)

Friday, August 24, 2012

flowers for friday

I am feeling poorly today. Poorly. So I do believe that a nosegay of violets of lily of the valley and violets will cheer me up. Don't you think?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

crazy cute

In September these are coming to Modcloth.

Shortly thereafter they will be on my finger.

If my husband won't allow me to have a French Bulldog, the very least I deserve is a French Bulldog ring. Woof.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

a little vitamin d

I have been making a conscious effort to actually drag myself away from my desk and computer and get out into the sunshine for 15 minute stretches. So, each morning and afternoon I find myself here - sitting on a chair, with dappled sunlight dancing on the veranda.

It's not bad really.

ps: see that cyclamen? It's MONTHS old and still alive and flowering. I think it thrives on benign neglect. Watered when it droops, kept outside... loves it.

pps: see that bike? Must take myself on a ride on that tomorrow morning don't you think?

ppps: today I saw the first few purple buds on our wisteria. I may have squealed with joy. Spring, I'll be sooooo happy to see you.

Monday, August 20, 2012

meal planning monday

This whole speedy-gonzales-time-thing is doing my head in. Seriously, is it nearly the end of August already? Sheesh. Luckily we have a quiet week this week, so I'm going to make it simple food-wise as well. Here's what we're eating:

Monday: chicken kebabs, rice salad and steamed broccoli

Tuesday: I have my exercise class at 7pm, so I'll prepare a pasta bake we can all eat whenever we're ready. I made a tasty chicken and chorizo pasta bake last week that was so simple, and such a success I'll make it again.

Wednesday: No netball training this week. Sadly the girls were valiantly defeated in their semi-final. They played their little hearts out though and I'm ever-so-proud of them. I think I might cook up a quiche tonight - bacon will do. And serve it with a salad. That'll be nice.

Thursday: I'm off to a friend's house for a catch-up so I'll make some butter chicken for dinner. Serve it with rice and naan.

Friday: Don't you think friday calls for fish and chips? I do. So that's what we'll have.

Saturday: The Darby Street Bohemia Festival was cancelled earlier this month - but it's back on again tonight. We'll head out there and grab something to eat on the night. That'll be fun.

Sunday: We're going out for lunch for my niece's birthday today, so dinner will be light. Perhaps just a roast chicken and a simple salad.

And that's it. So, tell me, what's on your table this week?

Friday, August 17, 2012

flowers for friday

I think the thing that I love most about the end of winter is watching the red buds of jasmine start to appear. Of all the flowers, it's the scent of jasmine I find most intoxicating. I can't live in a house without jasmine. I need to pick a little bunch to pop in a teeny glass jar in my bedroom and breathe in the scents of spring before I go to sleep. Bliss.

Hey, guess what? It's friday! I know! Are you as excited as I am? I have a fun weekend planned. Tonight it's off to the opening of Good Rubber: an exhibition at Good Brother coffee shop planned by The Roost. It's all about cool works of art - designed for rubber stamps. How ace is that? I love this town!

Saturday's the girls' semi-final. They're pumped to win. Tomorrow they're spraying their hair red (the team's colours are red and white) and, if they get through to the finals - they're all dip-dying the ends of their hair red. Cute. They've worked really hard this year, they do deserve it.

Sunday my gal's going ice skating with a group of friends so hubby and I will probably potter in the garden. It's been a while as the weather's been so ghastly.

There shall also be champagne at some stage. After all, it's the weekend...


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

things that are awesome

So, I'm on Facebook the other day when this pops up in my feed. Straight away I squealed and knew I had to go. Lookit! It's Mumford & Sons - AND Sarah Blasko (and lots of other cool others, but hey, those two will do me). It's a full day camping event in Dungog, a lovely town I'm keen to revisit. And, guess what? There's GLAMPING! (well, I'm not sure how glamorous it'll be, but there is a VIP tent set up with beds and a lamp, that'll do - I'll bring my own champagne...)

Now, because we have a wedding on the South Coast the following weekend (with a groom who's a HUGE M&S fan who will be rather sad to miss this I'd say) hubby thought it best if we didn't toddle off and leave our child with his parents for another two days on top of the four we're away for the wedding... SO, thank goodness for social media. One of my friends, who's on twitter, also mentioned this, I said "I wanna go", she said, "me too", then another friend joined in and BAM. We have a team of four in a VIP tent. We've already thought of hashtags.

So, anyway, if you see #CarryOnGlamping trending on Twitter you know who's responsible. And sorry, you'll probably hear us squealing too. We're an excitable bunch.

Gee, as my friend A said on Facebook today - I feel like I'm 21 again. Dungog, you ready? Bring it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

meal planning monday

Whew, what a weekend. Lots of good food and good friends. Love. And I got VERY spoiled for my birthday. But it's a new week, so here's what we're eating:

Monday: Netball was cancelled on Saturday due to rain, so we're playing the game tonight at 5pm. Fingers crossed for my girls as this determines their spot in the semis - bless their little socks. We'll come home to chicken burritos I think. I'll just buy a bbq chicken and shred that and have all the fixings in the fridge for when we get home (guacamole, grated cheese, diced tomato and onion, shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa).

Tuesday: Did I tell you I've started a new type of exercise? Well I have, it's Burlesque fitness and I am in luuuuuuuurve. It's so much fun, with great music and the moves are awesome for my poor old back. I haven't been able to make a tuesday class so far, but tonight I can, but it's from 7 - 8pm so I'll need food fixed and ready for hubby and daughter when they get back from ballet class at 7.15. Let's go simple shall we: spaghetti bolognaise.

Wednesday: I didn't end up cooking the lamb shoulder last week, so I'll serve it up tonight. I'm a bit worried, as hubby has slow-cooked lamb shoulder at the pub on Saturday night and said it was D.I.V.I.N.E. Mine will be better. Served with mash and warm lentil salad.

Thursday: Burlesque fitness class for me AGAIN. And ballet for my gal. So I need another simple meal. Chicken and chorizo pasta bake will do us. With salad. And crusty rolls.

Friday: There are some amazing fish in season. I saw mackerel on one of the local chef's Instagram feed the other day so I might try cooking that. How? No idea. I might look to Jamie Oliver or Rick Stein for inspiration. When we were in Cornwall last year we had lunch at Rick Stein's restaurant and the mackerel I ate was amazing. I'll serve it with a risoni salad.

Saturday: After rejoicing so long and so hard about buying my paella pan I've only used it once. Best rectify that and cook up a paella don't you think? With lots of prawns and mussels.

Sunday: A simple roast pork will be nice. Rhubarb's in season, so guess what the pork will be sitting on as it roasts? Yep, you guessed it, a bed of rhubarb - makes for a caramelised rhubarb sauce that is to-die-for.

And that's it for us. What are your plans?

Friday, August 10, 2012

flowers for friday

I thought I'd do a special flowers for friday today as it's my birthday tomorrow {squeeeeeee!}. So I went back to my fave store in Paris Au Nom de la Rose and feature these beauties again. I will never forget that store. We stumbled upon it in The Marais, and oh, it was magical. Nothing but items devoted to roses. Real roses, rose candles, rose liqueur... the sight and the scent was just magical.

Red and pink roses also remind me of my last big birthday party - where I had a red and pink colour scheme {a combo I will never tire of}. Tomorrow will involve breakfast in bed, pressies, then netball, then lunch at Le Petit Deux. I'll just relax and read in the afternoon, then we're off to an Archibald cocktail party at the Art Gallery with friends. Once that's over we'll wander up Darby Street to check out the Bohemia Festival before having dinner.

Sounds like the perfect day to me.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

birthday wish list

Thank you Chanel for releasing this utterly glorious shade of blue nail polish just in time for my birthday. You really are too kind.

Monday, August 06, 2012

meal planning monday

Hey there, hello, and welcome to your monday. Hope all's well with you. I am coming down with a cold (insert sad face here) so am a bit snuffly and sorry for myself today - but I'll pick up. In the meantime, here's what we're eating this week:

Monday: A visit to the farmer's markets yesterday saw me come home with a rack of saltbush lamb. Have you ever tried saltbush lamb? Oh my it's good. It's fed mainly on saltbush and this gives the mea a unique, delicious flavour. I'll serve it with roasted baby blue potatoes (I found these at Coles the other day - and roasted some the other night tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and rosemary) and some wilted Tuscan cabbage.

Tuesday: Time to whip up another dish from my Leggo's Italian Cookbook - it's proving quite the hit. This week I'll make chicken cacciatore, buttered noodles, and steamed broccoli and carrots

Wednesday: netball training. Slow roasted lamb shoulder with lemon-roasted potatoes and lentils.

Thursday: Ginger and sesame salmon with wilted greens and udon noodles. I'll quickly marinate the salmon in a mix of oil, fresh ginger, sesame seeds and sesame oil before bbqing it. Then I'll cook up the noodles and throw the greens in at the last minute till they wilt. I'll serve the salmon flaked into pieces on top of the noodles and greens. I might even sprinkle a little more toasted sesame seeds over the top.

Friday: Off to a pre-birthday dinner at the local pub. They do awesome steaks – so steak it is.

Saturday: It’s my birthday – and we’re off to a cocktail party at the local art gallery followed by dinner in Darby Street.

Sunday: Because it’s moving into spring, I’m going to start up my Sunday barbeques. I think we might have pork ribs tonight, with apple and almond slaw. This is my simple, cheaty slaw: a bag of 'gourmet' coleslaw mix, apple cheeks sliced thinly and chopped whole almonds. For a dressing I like a lemon-rich vinaigrette, but a mayonaise with lots of lime works just as well.

And that's it. How about you? Tell me what you're eating this week.

Friday, August 03, 2012

flowers for friday

Now I know it's frost-as outside, but can't you just see Spring around the corner? I can. My roses are mostly little spiky sticks, but I can just picture the buds ready to burst forth. My irises are popping up, and, underneath the geranium I have an abundance of nodding snowbells waving hello in the breeze.

So, tonight hubby and I are off with friends to a French cooking class and three course meal. Can't wait. Our gal's off to her cousins for a sleepover - so it'll be fun all around. Then it's a Saturday filled with netball in the lead-up to the finals. Wish us luck!

What do you have planned?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

for me?

Look, Darby Street is throwing a Twilight Festival Bohemia for MY BIRTHDAY! How cool is that? Thanks Darby Street. Sure, ask them and they'll probably say "Wha?" "Whose birthday?" But I know... so thanks. And that's not all, there's also a cocktail party at the Art Gallery for the Archibald first - I know, Newy's just turning it on for my birthday. Best dress up all posh-like for it.

So should you.

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

mount washmore to molehill





Do you see this?

This is a pink smeg washing machine with a wee sink on top.

I do not care about costs, practicality or the fact that I actually love my Fisher&Paykel machine.

This, I need.


Monday, July 30, 2012

meal planning monday

Well hey, how's things? Busy? Yep, here too. This week's shaping up to be crazy-busy so I shopped up a storm yesterday and our fridge and pantry are PACKED. Here's what we're eating:

Monday: My daughter's netball team have called for an extra day of training, bless their little socks. So this afternoon it's down to the beach for some balance and jumping work - with a bit of fun tossed in. Guess who'll be starvin' Marvin on her return? Yep, my gal. So I've bought her a crumbed flounder fillet and some oven fries for dinner tonight. Hubby and I shall have salt and pepper squid with a cucumber salad - and a lime and chilli dipping sauce {easy peasy - half sweet chilli sauce, half lime juice!).

Tuesday: Long, long ballet day today. And I'm off to a presentation at the pub! So I'll have the fixings for mexican ready so everyone can assemble their own beef burritos with guacamole, salad, cheese, sour cream and corn salsa.

Wednesday: Normal netball training today. I'm going to try to make French Onion Soup - I have such a hankering. I'll saute lots of sliced red onions in a little butter, and with lots of thyme till tender. Then I'll sloosh in some brandy and burn off the alcohol. I'll then top it up with beef stock and simmer for an hour or so. I'll serve it with slices of baguette topped with grilled gruyere cheese in the bowl with the soup poured over top. Yum.

Thursday: Late ballet tonight - so I'm just going to make this tuna and pasta bake. Served with salad.

Friday: Hubby and I are off with some fabulous friends to another cooking class and three course meal at SandBar Newcastle Beach. The theme is Paris - so hey, c'est magnifique! I'm sure the recipes will influence me in weeks to come.

Saturday: I haven't done a great deal of slow cooking this winter - terrible! So I'll make up for it with Osso Bucco served with soft polenta.

Sunday: Let's end the week simply shall we with a roast chicken and vegies.

Friday, July 27, 2012

flowers for friday

I do believe that red and pink geraniums are one of my favourite happy-making flowers. They remind me of window boxes in Paris, and all of France. Driving around France I noticed that even in the smallest of towns people would make the effort to pretty up their homes with window boxes or small gardens featuring brightly coloured blooms - often geraniums.

So, of course, I've had to install them myself. On our loungeroom windowsills are three planter boxes filled with alternating red and pink geraniums. I've grown them from cuttings from my mother-in-law's garden and they've finally taken off. It's too soggy out there to take a photo today - so, instead, here's a photo I snapped at Petersham Nurseries on our UK holiday last year. What a glorious place that was...

Hey, what are your plans for the weekend? My daughter has a pupil-free day today - and a headcold. So I'm feeding her up and dosing her with lots of water so she recovers quickly. Tomorrow's netball {head cold permitting} and then my gal has a friend over for a sleepover. We're going to try the new Mexican place in Hamilton - La Casita. It's had reviews from some pretty food-loving peeps so I have high hopes.

Sunday I'm spending the day at a netball coaching clinic. Even though I've been coaching for years I do like having the opportunity to brush up on my skills and learn new techniques. I'll just have to organise for a decent coffee delivery during the day. Anyone?

Enjoy your friday and your weekend. x

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

at the movies

It will come as no surprise to any regular reader that my favourite past-time is visiting the cinema. Nothing makes me happy than a night at the movies. And I've always had a soft spot for the Tower Cinemas in Newcastle. I feel quite certain that when my brother and I had the living daylights scared out of us by Jaws, it was at The Towers. It was also where I went on my first real date in High School - seeing Fame actually - ah yes, the original...

This grand old dame has been around since the early seventies, as the decor will most strongly attest. It's a real retro-gem. So I'm thrilled that the owners are sympathetically renovating with more than a nod to its vintage past. New carpet has gone down, and while it's stylish, it certainly wouldn't look out of place in a 1940s or 70s high end establishment. My fave features, the dramatic red curtains that roll back to reveal the film will hopefully be kept too. They're so Twin Peaks they make my heart ache.

It's in the screenings that things have changed.

In moving forward The Towers is moving toward screening limited release, Art House and other cinematic gems. And for that, I have nothing but applause.

I've just returned from the relaunch night. It was fab. There was champagne, canapes, loads of people with a passion for this cinema and the screening of the new Aussie flick The Sapphires.

What an absolutely joyous film this is. The performances are outstanding. Absolutely outstanding. Deborah Mailman takes custody of your gaze every time she enters the screen - what a charismatic actor she is. She is a singular talent, truly. But it's not just her film as every single character in this film has something very special to offer. Jessica Mauboy is exquisite. Her performance has pathos and vulnerability - and oh, that voice, that utterly magical voice...

Apparently the film wowed everyone at Cannes - little wonder. It really is a triumph. While it dealt with with some of the horrible aspects of our indigenous history, it did so with a light hand. Not sweeping it aside, but treating it with respect and dignity.

I walked out with a smile on my face, and many songs in my heart. This is one film soundtrack I'm keen to buy. My faith in Aussie films is totally restored.

Now, excuse me while I make a bit of an awkward segue but I need to talk about another film.

There's a bit of a goldmine in cinema at the moment, particularly Aussie-made. Last week I went to see Not Suitable For Children with two of my film-loving friends.

I had very moderate expectations for this film. I knew it starred Ryan Kwanton, but that was about it. I found myself quite delighted. What could have been a hideous, over-wrought cliché was actually a warm, funny and thought-provoking film.

The soundtrack kicks butt, there is a breakout performance by the exceptional Sarah Snook and the film raises some issues I'm still thinking about a week later. It's a very clever film, deftly directed and written - and the performances show why Aussie actors are the leading force in international cinema. We have some serious talent.

So thank you Tower Cinemas. Thank you for trying something different, for sympathetically restoring this iconic piece of Newcastle's history and bringing some very ace films into my life.

Monday, July 23, 2012

meal planning monday

Yikes, this day seems to come around so quickly! I have an extraordinarily busy week this week {I know, what's new?} so here's what we're eating.

Monday: It's got to be time for a meatloaf. Simply served with some boiled baby potatoes and green peas I think.

Tuesday: My daughter has an hour and a half of ballet today. Eep. So I'll make caramelised pork for our dinner tonight. Served with rice and wilted asian greens with garlic and soy sauce.

Wednesday: It's netball training and then I'm off to a screening of The Sapphires. Can't wait. So I have a window of an hour to serve dinner between getting home and going out again. Hello spaghetti bolognaise in the slowcooker.

Thursday: I have to go to Sydney for work, so I'll come home exhaustipated. Homemade pizzas made my husband and child I think. Chorizo, roasted capsicum and caramalised onion, bacon and cheese and a simple potato and rosemary will go down well.

Friday: We went to the BEST Christmas in July party last Saturday night. Not only was the company sublime, and the food and champagne absolutely fabulous, but I found out that all of my friends have as one of their family faves one of 'my' chicken recipes. I felt a bit crap that I don't cook enough of them myself. So it's time to revisit an old fave - Nigella's St Tropez chicken. Gorgeous chicken pieces marinated in rosé, honey and herbs including fresh lavender. This cooks to the most deliciously sticky glaze. Simply pop the chicken in a big zip-lock bag with a bottle of rosé, some honey, lime, garlic, olive oil and herbs de provence and marinated for 3 hours to overnight. Then it's taken out of the bag and tipped in a baking dish and baked slowly under alfoil for 1.5 hours, then the foil removed for the last 15 - 20 minutes to tan the skin deliciously. Mmmmm. Serve it with salad.

Saturday: We've decided that there are so many awesome restaurants in Newcastle we need to make an effort to get out and visit them regularly. So we shall on this night.

Sunday: Roast. And, especially for Little Miss Moi, it'll be slow-roasted lamb shoulder. With roasted vegies. I need to get my friends' Nat and Matt's recipe for the vegies served up at the Christmas In July dinner - they were delish (must also get the recipes for the turkey and our friend Pete's glazed ham. So Good!)

And that's it. Tell me what you're eating.

Friday, July 20, 2012

flowers for friday {barely}

Sorry, this is crazy, crazy late. But I've been laid up with the migraine from hell. It was a killer. Hopefully I've seen the back of it now - and the four-day headache that preceded it.

Onwards and upwards. We've got our Christmas in July celebration tomorrow night with the loveliest group of friends. That'll ease the pain. One more gift to buy, Christmas wrapping paper to dig up and desserts to make. Hurrah.

Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

meal planning monday (erm, tuesday)

Oh, I am sooooo sorry - how late am I? Very. But I have an excuse. I have been busy - in all caps, 64 point, fluro pink with exclamation points. Underlined.

Yep, that busy.

But busy doesn't stop meal planning. Oh no, it makes it MORE important. Here's what we're eating (and, cos I'm a day late, ate)

Monday: I had BIG day down in Sydney, so I wasn't home till late. Hubby and daughter prepared some spaghetti bolognaise - is there a more homely or welcoming meal? I think not.

Tuesday: School's back (yay!) which means after-school activities (um, yay?). So tonight's late ballet. I think I'll make a big pot of chicken minestrone soup.

Wednesday: Do you know what I haven't had for eight million years? (or thereabouts) lamb cutlets. Probably because they cost about eight million dollars (again, numbers are approximate). But hang the expense, I have a hankering. So tonight, after netball training, it'll be grilled lamb cutlets (or chops if I seriously baulk at the cost), mashed potatoes and smashed peas.

Thursday: Busy day today. I have to pick up my daughter and three of her friends from school for a netball clinic from 3.30 to 5pm. Best make a chicken curry in the slowcooker so it's ready for our return. I'll serve it with steamed rice (those cheaty microwaved bags), garlic naan and wilted spinach.

Friday: Panko crumbed fish fillets tonight. I've never tried this, but I think I'll just crumb these in the same way as chicken schnitzel and bake them in the oven. With some chunky sweet potato chips and a crispy green salad.

Saturday: Oooh, I nearly forgot - we're off to our friends' house for a Christmas In July dinner. I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO TO ONE OF THESE! We're all doing a dish. One family's bringing a baked ham, the hosts are doing turkey and veg, other friends are supplying the drinks and we're doing desserts. Yay. There are four families - so eight adults, and seven kids so I need two desserts. An adults one, and an awesome icecream with lollies, chocolates and popping candy chopped through and formed into a Christmassy shape for the kids.

Sunday: Roast chicken I think. With a warm lentil salad and roasted veg.

That's it. And you? Tell me, what are you eating?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

bonne fete de bastille

So, last year on Bastille Day we were in Paris. Le sigh.

We lined up early on the Champs Elysee to watch the parade. It was incroiyable. Tanks, horses, jets flying over the Arc de Triomphe. Amazing.

Many of the streets were closed to traffic so we walked to this classic cafe where we had a typically Parisian lunch with friends. Bliss.

There's nothing more Parisian than a patisserie. See that little wild strawberry tart? I ate it.

Dinner that night was in the Musee D'Orsay.

Oh my.

Here's my gal looking tres francais in her beret and gorgeous Little Leona outfit.

We walked through this incredible sculptural exhibition to find the perfect spot in the Jardin Luxemboug to watch the fireworks. You know what's more spectacular than regular fireworks? Fireworks that incorporate the Eiffel Tower. Magical.

Amazing. A day and night I will never, ever forget.

Happy Bastille Day.

Friday, July 13, 2012

flowers for friday

You know what makes me happier than finding peonies at Coles? Nothing.

I bought these beauties the other day and they're still going strong. Love, love, LOVE!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

snow white and the huntsman - girl power!

I think that going to the movies is one of my favourite things. Sure, you can watch them at home, in the comfort of your own loungeroom, but it's just not the same. I like getting a little dressed up and catching up with a friend over a movie. It makes me happy.

My gal's inherited my movie-loving-gene. So I took her and a pal to see Snow White and the Huntsman on Sunday. I was a bit unsure, it was rated M and they're only 12 and 13  - but we did our research and they were both fine about it. And I was there if need be.

I needn't have worried, there was nothing sleezy or too scary in this film.

Apart from Charlize Theron's character - wowzers!

Visually this is one damned sumptuous film. Charlize Theron's costumes are utterly brilliant, the fabric, the designs - and oh, the black raven cape? WANT!

This film hearkens back more to the original Grimm fairy tale than anything produced by Disney. And it's awesome. I really enjoyed it, and the girls did too. Snow White's a pretty kick-ass chick - and as for Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman... hello!

I found the narrative fascinating, the whole concept of beauty and youth as power still resonates today. Great performances, gorgeous special effects and an interesting storyline work together to create a film that's worthwhile viewing for teenage girls in particular. It's all about facing your fears, finding your strengths and generally being awesome.

What's not to love?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

hysteria review

It seems almost inconceivable that just over 100 years ago, doctors were adamant that there were no such things as germs - but believed that more than half the women in the world suffered from a terribly debilitating condition known as Hysteria. This 'disease' was caused by a malfunctioning uterus, and while there were 'cures' such as radical hysterectomies and incarceration in mental institutions, one doctor found a more popular approach to help...

Young Doctor Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is an earnest, progressive young man - totally misunderstood by older, stuck in their ways medical professionals. He can't seem to hold down a job until he finds a position with Dr Dalyrymple. See, Dr Dalyrymple's found a method to help the uterus bounce back into shape, and it involves, um, well, stimulation of a most unusual kind. Pelvic massage in fact. But a very concentrated form of pelvic massage that really hits the spot. It's no wonder his waiting room is filled with expectant women.

So Dr Granville comes aboard, but finds that all the, well, treatment he's offering is giving him some form of RSI in his poor hand. Luckily he has a friend, Edmund St John Smythe (the unrecognisable Rupert Everett - seriously, what has he done to his face?). Edmund is an inventor. A rich, louche, dandy inventor - and he's awesome. It's when Granville picks up Edmund's latest invention, an electric feather duster, that inspiration strikes - and the vibrator is born.

This film is a giggle-fest, primarily thanks to some absolutely stellar supporting cast (including Molly in the shot above). What could have been tacky is instead rendered hilarious thanks to some fabulous performances. Maggie Gyllenhaal is stunning as the feisty suffragette daughter of Dr Dalrymple - the perfect contrast to her younger sister who's the poster child for demure young Victorian women.

Based on a true story, this film could almost be viewed as a documentary of the times - a time when women were meant to concentrate on running exemplary homes, raising their children - and being denied a jolly good time in bed. Great performances, an interesting storyline and lots of laughs - this ticks my box for a fun night at the movies.

I saw this last night at The Tower Cinemas, Newcastle as guest of a special preview screening, a long with lots of other laughing patrons. Need a giggle? I recommend this.

Monday, July 09, 2012

meal planning monday

Hello, well, it’s our first full week back on board after our lovely holiday in the Southern Highlands – and the last week of the school holidays. I’ll be keeping things pretty simple this week, and trying out something new along the way. Here’s what we’re eating.

This week’s menu

Monday: Slow cooker lamb pilaf - omg, this is so good. I've added a tin of drained chickpeas to this, and decided to use beef stock. It's YUM (from the few spoonfuls I've tested)*

Tuesday: Chicken Schnitzel, mash, corn on the cob and green beans

Wednesday: Beef tacos with corn salad and guacamole

Thursday: Pistachio dukka crusted lamb fillets with roasted chick peas. I’ve got a yummy pistachio dukka from the supermarket that I like to roll lamb fillets in then I sear them in a hot pan and finish them off in the oven. While they’re in there I’ll throw in a tin of drained chick peas on an oven tray to crisp up and then pop them in a bowl with roasted capsicum, sliced green onion, garlic and a balsamic, lemon and olive oil dressing.

Friday: Pan-fried blue eye cod, crispy potatoes and salad

Saturday: Aussie Farmer’s Direct Lemongrass and garlic prawns with a rice salad

Sunday: Roast beef and roasted vegies plus green beans with almonds. I bought a roasting sirloin at Coles this week. I'm going to place it on a bed of slice onions, thyme and red wine in the Le Crueset (after first searing it till golden brown in a frypain) and slowly cook it with the lid on. My guess is that it'll be tender and I'll have made my own gravy in the pan. I might just need to reduce it on the hotplate while the beef's resting at the end of cooking.

What are you eating?

*Okay, will need to update the recipe on this - needs cooking on low and less stirring in my opinion. It was delish, but the rice went gluggy really quickly. Perhaps it'd be better as a non-slow-cooker dish? 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

sweet saturday

How's your weekend panning out? Hope there's lots of good stuff interspersed with a wee spot of relaxation. I think I need this daybed - don't you?

Friday, July 06, 2012

flowers for friday

Can you IMAGINE being greeted with a breakfast tray as exuberant as this? Look at those lilacs!!! So pretty.

Well, it's Friday and to celebrate the end of the week I'm off to celebrate a gorgeous friend's birthday at the SurfHouse tonight. That's how I like to see out a week, especially a half-week after holidays.

No netball tomorrow morning, so no easy rising (ahhhhh). I think we need to get out into the garden: roses need pruning, gardens need weeding - sprouting purple garlic bulbs need planting...

Enjoy your Friday x

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

back in the swing of things

It feels weird getting back to normal after a holiday. I've done all the usual things: unpacked my bags once we arrived home, shopped for meals, washed all the holiday clothes and settled back into normalcy... But still...

It's hard to settle down after drinking champagne by the fireside every night. And eating out daily. Luckily I've got loads of work to do to take my mind off it all. And more exciting things planned for the year - balls, a wedding, fun events including tomorrow night's Winter Wander in the mall.

I think I also need to organise a girly get-together with a table like this one.

Nice huh?

Monday, July 02, 2012

meal planning monday

Well, we're back from hols and oh, what a holiday it was. We had the best time: ate too much, drank too much, relaxed too much... pretty much what a holiday should be. It was ace.

But now we're home and here's what we're eating.

Monday: I needed to cook up something cleansing tonight so I made a chicken, corn and udon noodle soup. I simply sliced a few green shallots, white and green and sauteed them in a little olive oil with a finely diced carrot and a couple of cloves of garlic. Then I diced three chicken breasts into 1cm cubes, added these and topped with 1 litre of chicken stock. I brought this to the boil, took it down to a simmer and simmered until the chicken was cooked. Then I added some corn and udon noodles and seasoned with pepper and soy sauce. Delish.

Tuesday: we're having glazed salmon on the bbq with sushi rice and salad. I think I'll make a glaze with lime, soy sauce, ginger and garlic.

Wednesday: a simple steak and salad is called for.

Thursday: my gal's having a pal over for a sleepover and a shopping expedition. Why fight it? I'll make spaghetti bolognaise and garlic bread.

Friday: I'm going to the SurfHouse to celebrate a lovely friend's birthday. So, beforehand I'll make up a prawn and quinoa salad. I've never used quinoa before (I know, late adaptor) so let's hope lots of pepper, parsley and lemon makes it delish.

Saturday: lamb tonight. With a chickpea and roasted capsicum salad. And some wilted spinach with garlic - some things are just meant to be together.

Sunday: roasted chicken. The simple things in life really are the best.

And that's how we're easing into this first week of the school holidays. How about you?