Thursday, October 25, 2012

the ladies on the hill at gotr

Last weekend I did something so fabulous that I may have used up all the world's awesomes. Along with three friends we packed up my car and drove to Dungog for Gentlemen of the Road. Mumford and Sons were curating a series of festivals around the world - and Dungog was Australia's. Handy, as it's only just over an hour's drive {well, if you know where you're going, note: just because they're hipsters in a Kombi doesn't mean they're going to Dungog...}

We chose the VIP camping option - which was a great move. Inside the grounds of Dungog Showground, where the event was hosted, we arrived to fully set up tents - complete with stretcher beds, matresses and a lamp. Awesome.

We arrived on the friday night where DJs were playing sets with 50s vinyl. Did you know that all the cool kids are now totally down with 50s dance moves? You do now - it's officially a thing. It was excellent and we danced, air-guitared {well, some of us did - some just doubled-over laughing with the joy of it all} and sang the loudest version of Bohemian Rhapsody with 500 others before stumbling off to bed.

We showered and found breakfast under the showground. Awesome egg and bacon rolls were had. We found a table under massive gumtrees on the hill and chatted away. After a while we thought, 'hang on a minute...' We had a table, in shade, on the hill, in direct line of site to the stage - why move? So we didn't. From 9.30am we sat at that table and chatted - and desperately tried to get data to tweet {well, that was me...} Thank goodness we did because.

Mumford and Sons came on stage at about 11.30 and did three complete songs in the soundcheck. We had our own private concert {well, us and all the workers in the bars and food vans}. It was genius. It was also the scene of yet another hilarious run in between my friends J and A who seemed to get pulled up by security for breathing wrong. Nothing negative - just suitably hilarious and yet-another fab story to add to our memories. Oh, see that orange and white thing on table? Solar phone charger - or, as we called it, solar phone sucker as it actually SUCKED charge from my phone.

Here's a bit of a time-lapse photography - I took shots of the ground every hour. We saw brilliant bands and artists play: Husky, Sarah Blasko, Willy Mason, Matt Corby, Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros - and then, piece de resistance - Mumford and Sons.

Yes, this would be Mumford totally going off. What music, what an atmosphere - what an experience. I'm still on a high from it all. I came home and bought every artist's album that I didn't already own and have had them on continual rotation. I want to live my life like a Mumford Song, slow, beautiful - then fast, joyous and passionate.

After a blistering set, Mumford left the stage and when they came back for an encore to the crowd's chants of Babel, Babel, Babel, they actually told us they'd be performing their new song Babel, for the first time ever! And it. Went. Off. If it's possibly for 12 000 people to explode from ecstasy I'm pretty sure we did. Then, all the other artists joined the band on stage for a Fleetwood Mac number. As you do. Joy.

I loved the branding of the event too - there was such a sense of occasion. Here we are leaving, sated on great music and with memories that'll sustain me in my very old age.

The next morning we packed up, left our tent and started the drive back to Newy, but not before stopping at this rather fabulous Cottage Cafe in Clarence Town. It was filled with nana-chic, including these gorgeous flowers on a vintage cloth. I'm sure they were overwhelmed with the hipster influx - but man, they did an awesome egg and bacon roll.

We dubbed ourselves The Ladies on the Hill at Gentlemen of the Road - and what a hill. I also managed to meet the gorgeous Victoria who reads my blog {Hi, V, wasn't it just magnificent!} My friends and I also bonded in an extraordinary way - don't you love it when you experience something one-of-a-kind with friends? The next day we were all a little teary and emotional - and still keep tweeting each other with reminders of the weekend.

Sometimes I wonder if I do too much, go out too often, do too much... and then I think, nah - it's awesome.

ps: sorry, no flowers for friday tomorrow - I'll be in Kiama for an awesome wedding. We're leaving in an hour for four days of festivities {high tea, croquet, lunches, dinners, wedding - house on a cliff overlooking the ocean - I know, tough life...} I'll be instagramming - find me there and follow me. x

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

puberty blues season two!

Did you just love the series Puberty Blues?

Oh I did.

So, imagine the squeal just mere moments ago when I saw on Director Glendyn Ivin's Instagram this gorgeous pic with the awesome caption #PubertyBlues series two announced today!

Woo hoo.

I need me some more of that gorgeous Debbie, the retro-fabulous wardrobes and sets and the fabulous Aussie acting.


Monday, October 22, 2012

meal planning monday

image from:

Wow, what a weekend. Gentlemen of the Road was one of the most extraordinary weekends of my life - so I need a moment to compose my blog post. Such a big weekend, and another one coming up with a four-day weekend in Kiama to celebrate some awesome friends' wedding. You know those people that you're so amazingly happy they got together and are marrying? This is one of those couples. Love them.

Anyway, here's what we're eating when we're at home.

Monday: I've bought some honey soy chicken kebabs which we'll have with a rice salad (with loads of diced vegies and almond slivers) and a green salad.

Tuesday: Burlesque class for me - I'm totally addicted, it's my favourite form of exercise ever. I'll make spaghetti bolognaise tonight.

Wednesday: I'll cook up something my gal loves for dinner tonight as we're headed off without her for four days (it's okay, her grandparents are staying here and she adores them!) I might make her meatloaf with roasted potatoes, honey-glazed carrots, corn on the cob and broccoli.

Thursday: we're in Kiama staying in a gorgeous beach house on the cliff overlooking the blowhole. We're staying with two other fab couples - so hello fun!

Friday: pre-wedding dinner!

Saturday: wedding - woo hoo!

Sunday: home again. BBQ butterflied chicken perhaps? Easy and tasty. I'll serve it with lentil salad and lots of crispy greens.

And that's it. You?

Friday, October 19, 2012

flowers for friday

Here's a bit of awesome for your friday - giant allium flowers!

Well, I'm packed for my weekend - have clothing that spans 11 to 33 degrees and day to night (well, hopefully!) Just doing a last-minute iTunes purchase so I can make up road trip music for the night. Gentlemen of the Road here I come.

Have an awesome weekend.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ppmj and gal pals go glamping

Only two more sleeps till I drive up to Dungog for a weekend of 'glamping'. Well, I don't really know that it's glamping - but if imagining it is so makes it so then it will be so!

I do get excited about something new to look forward to, and this trip's no exception. It's been many a year since I've attended any kind of music festival - conservatively I'd say it's been 13-odd years (since my gal was born) so this'll be a culture shock. I'm so excited about seeing Sarah Blasko - and Mumford and Sons. Husky too. And I'm sure there'll be loads of others to love.

I have my hubby's battered straw cowboy hat at the ready, and lots of sunscreen and a big water bottle - but aside from that I've no idea what to wear.

Oh well, when the gal's go glamping at Gentlemen of the Road there's bound to be giggles, instagramming and lots of tweeting!

Two more sleeps!

Monday, October 15, 2012

meal planning monday

Whew, sorry, the day just whooshed past me and here I am planning meals at dinnertime! Eep! Busy week this one, so here's a pic of my breakfast the other day - a coffee and a slice of Uprising brioche with french butter and sour cherry jam. Tasted even better than it looks. YUM!

Monday: obviously I'm busy. So we've just gone shopping and tonight we're having a bbq chicken, shredded, with asian salad (one of those pre-mix ones from coles). Lazy-fantazi.

Tuesday: burlesque night tonight. I've bought some Lillydale Chicken Burgers, so fresh burgers it is. On a wholegrain bun with loads of salad and sweet chilli sauce.

Wednesday: my gal starts touch footy after school. She won't be home till 5.30 and then tonight we have to be at the Entertainment Centre by 6.15 to watch the Australia Diamonds netball team vs England. Eeep! So I'll prepare a beef and macaroni pasta bake on Tuesday night so it's ready to go tonight.

Thursday: um, chicken with 40 cloves of garlic perhaps? With salad and roasted potatoes?

Friday: I'm off glamping with the gals. We're off to Gentlemen of the Road in Dungog. They've put on an extra night so after work friday I'll load up my car with my friends and we're off. Road food's in order I guess. Will have to organise it with my buds. Gal and her dad can make pizza.

Saturday: my gal's off to a party, so hubby can fend for himself. My guess is that he'll have a bowl of cereal.

Sunday: I'm home again. Hurrah. I'll be plum-tuckered out after my big weekend. Best organise a butterflied leg of lamb for the bbq and serve it with a simple salad.

And that's it. How about you? Are you more organised than me? Eep!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

i followed the white rabbit...

Allow me to define awesome. A secret society of foodlovers. Dinner in an unknown location. One of the town's loveliest and most fabulous cooks. A table for 30 set up in the old Lock Up Exercise Yard. This, my friends, is what Underground Epicureans get up to on a saturday night.

The email arrived at lunchtime. Thankfully as I'd been hitting the 'get mail' button all morning is anxious anticipation of its arrival. The night's feast would be taking place in the old Lock Up in Newcastle's east end.

A long table for 30 was beautifully set up. The room was stunning, with its history etched on its walls. 30 of us spilled into the room, excitement shining from every face. We were to take part in our own history - making a gastronomical event part of Newcastle's new culture.

Now, it's no secret that Newcastle's food scene is sparkling. We have exciting chefs-a-plenty in this town. If anything, we have almost too many options to get around {I may have to give up cooking at home and just take up eating out. Shall I?} Underground Epicureans unveils a new chapter in Newcastle's food scene - one where food lovers are happy to pay to visit an extraordinary venue and be surprised by the chef's choice of food.

Last night's dinner by Ben Armstrong was the perfect way to start off a new tradition. I love what Ben does with food. He has a deft touch and a bold sense of flavour that tickles my tastebuds, delights my eyes and sates my sense of smell. He's also a talented wordsmith so I couldn't wait to find out more about him.

The theme was Memory Bites and Ben's tales from his memory were written down before us, a story to share before taking a bite of his life. Oh my. Ben can write. Really, really write. I adore visiting his blog - his words are like prose, so beautifully composed - a feast for the eyes.

Our first course was a crab sandwich. But oh, not just any crab sandwich. This was served on rounds of the freshest white bread, buttered with Pepe Saya cultured butter and piled with mounds of crab meat seasoned with murray river salt flakes and the most exquisite cider vinegar. It was served with a can of VB. Yep. It was too good to photograph. The crisp crunch of the salt flakes perfectly set off the soft crab meat. It was a study in simple perfection.

The next course was Tasmanian 'Pink Fish' cooked in the sous vide manner served with a sorrel coleslaw {oh my!} and a soft boiled egg topped with salmon roe. It was amazingly good. Sorrel coleslaw may be my new favourite thing.

The main was a knife and fork stew flavoured with marmite, with a confit leek and a divine lamb back strap. Each mouthful was a delight, and the marmite hit you with its aroma before you noticed the amazing taste it gave to the lentils and veg. I'll be using marmite next time I'm cooking lentils.

There was an artist in residence, sketching the evening and giving us a bit of a lesson before the dessert.

Such fun.

The dessert was pears poached in lime and vanilla with Alice from Uprising's meringue and a good splodge of whipped cream. The lime was rich, headily-scented and provided the most magnificent cloaking for the pear. Alice's meringue was, as always, exceptional. And Ben's stories behind this dessert were just as tasty.

Look at this place - what a venue!

It was a very sated crowd who left just before midnight. I can't wait for the next one.

Thank you White Rabbit - you sure do know how to throw a dinner party.

Friday, October 12, 2012

flowers for friday

Aren't these hollyhocks simply breathtaking? I shot these in Hampton Court Palace last year - so swoon-worthy. I've yet to try and grow hollyhocks, scared by tales of rust and other problems. But look at them! They'd have to be worth a try wouldn't they?

Now, firstly - hurrah, it's friday! My dad and step-mother are due to arrive for a weekend visit so I'll fire up the bbq tonight. We'll hang out tomorrow and then tomorrow night they'll look after our gal while hubby and I are delighted by the first Underground Epicureans secret dinner. There was a hint on facebook to bring along a semillion or light chardonnay for entree - and a rich red for the main! I've got a petit chablis in the fridge - a nice combination of the two. And I've got a few reds in the wine racks to choose from. Excitement's building...

Enjoy your friday, and your weekend x

Monday, October 08, 2012

meal planning monday

Sadly, the parquet top on our 1870s French farmhouse dining table doesn't see the light too often. It's usually covered in an oilcloth tablecloth we bought in Provence - to stop the cat scratching the surface {um, yes, it's one of his fave vantage points - and yes, we wipe down the table before eating!}. So I thought I'd share its prettiness with you today. It's back to school this week, so back into the old routine. Here's what we're eating this week:

Monday: I cooked pulled pork yesterday. I bought a pork shoulder from the Farmer's Markets, rubbed it with brown sugar, dried thyme, salt and pepper and then slowly roasted it for five hours. We had pulled pork sliders last night, and there's enough leftover for tonight to have a pulled pork salad. I'll slice up some apples and radish in the salad - pulled pork needs crunchiness.

Tuesday: I'm off to burlesque tonight, so we'll have mexican for dinner. Chicken and avocado burritos perhaps.

Wednesday: I bought some fabulous Angus steak at the markets, we'll have a bbq and I'll grill them up and serve them with a salad. I finally found blood oranges on the weekend - so spinach and blood orange salad it is. Wow - iron-rich meal or what?

Thursday: I haven't made salmon patties for a while, and this recipe always has leftovers for lunch the next day. We'll have them with a salad.

Friday: Now I think my gal starts indoor netball tonight - so we'll just have a simple dinner of chicken kebabs, rice and salad at the ready.

Saturday: OMGOMGOMGOMG - tonight is the night for the Underground Epicureans' meal. No idea what I'm eating - but I just know it'll be sensational. Full report to follow - or check me out on Instagram...

Sunday: Roast chicken, salad and a warm lentil salad. Yes. That'll do.


Sunday, October 07, 2012

snippets of my sunday

I rode my bike out to Nobby's lighthouse today.

Yep, that's it, that little white speck in the distance. Hello beautiful Newcastle day. 
Could you be any prettier?

Nope, think not.

Afternoon catch up with friends at Frankie's Place to plan our "Glamping Getaway" in two weeks time to Gentlemen of the Road in Dungog. Why yes, that sinful-looking iced coffee was mine. T'was delish. And hey, I rode to the café and back...

I also caught up with more of the inaugural BikeFest - what an event. Loads of stalls, exhibitions and aceness. The organisers excelled themselves. Hubby went down and watched the races and was in raptures. How often can you duck down the road and see world class athletes such as Robbie McEwen riding mere centimetres past you?

I've also just found out about three outdoor cinema events that The Other Film Society will be putting on at Nobby's lighthouse for members over the summer. Sign me up!

Love this city.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

a meal planner's pantry

This is part of my pantry. I know - spoiled. One of the things I fell in love with in this house was the large walk-in butler's pantry - and then we went and doubled its size. Bliss. Want to know what I keep in it {um, yes, aside from champagne and wine...} Here's a glimpse:

A few years ago Newcastle had a flood. We're lucky to be on a hill so we weren't affected by the water - but we had no electricity for a week, and the supermarkets were closed for a few days due to water damage. Luckily I have a pantry that could sustain us for a few days (or probably weeks if I'm honest, it's a big pantry…) I get antsy if I don't have the essentials on hand. My daughter often enjoys whipping up a cake or some cupcakes at a moment's notice, so there's always the baking essentials available - and stuff for dinners too. Here's my essentials:

Tinned food:
I don't use a great deal of tinned food, but those I do are absolute essentials. Here are my faves:
Legumes: chick peas, cannelini beans, red kidney beans are always on high rotation in my pantry. Why? So. Many. Uses. First of all, heat them with a little oil, a little garlic and mash - and hello - a high protein alternative to mashed potatoes. Yum. Or, use them to make a salad - roast some capsicum, finely dice a red onion, make a vinaigrette, drain a tin and toss. Voila.
Tomatoes: I do love tinned tomatoes, whether they're diced, or those divine tinned cherry tomatoes, these are a slow-cooked-supper's secret weapon.
Tuna and Salmon: whether it's for a speedy lunch option, or to whip up simple salmon patties or thai fish cakes, these are regulars on my shelves.
Beetroot: diced or sliced, or baby beets - this makes a salad or a burger extra-spesh. Drained baby beets or diced beetroot are amazing when strewn on a bed of baby spinach and dotted with chunks of persian feta and some roasted pecan nuts.

Herbs and spices
I used to be SUCH a herb snob. I would only use fresh herbs and turned my nose up at the dried stuff. But then Jamie Oliver and Nigella both waxed lyrical about the different flavour sensations offered up by good dried herbs and oh my. Have you ever drizzled olive oil over pita bread and sprinkled it with dried mint before baking till warm and crispy? Nope? You MUST. In my book, dried thyme's almost as awesome as the fresh stuff, and oregano is quite the taste revelation.  I'm also partial to the old retro-fave Mixed Herbs. Seriously, what is a meatloaf or meatball without this flavour combination. A good collection of herbs and spices can jazz up any dish.

Pasta and rice
Now, strictly speaking rice isn't a pantry food in my house as I tend to store it in the freezer. Why? Well, I found out that my pesky pantry moths weren't coming in the flour as I'd suspected, but the arborio rice. Freezing goods for two weeks kills the eggs and banishes the weevils. Hurrah! Now, I've always got arborio rice for paella and risotto, sushi rice to serve with salmon (yum) and basmati for Indian or Thai dishes. I also like to have an array of noodles and spaghetti. Along with ramen and udon noodles to make a cold salad dish or to serve hot alongside meals. These are the ideal bulk,  great to add to soups or casseroles to stretch your meals further. I also like to have polenta on hand to whip up a soft polenta to serve alongside meals. I make mine with chicken stock, ground black pepper, parmesan and a knob of butter at the end. Divine.

Baking goods
I always have a good stock of plain flour, baking powder, bi-carb soda, sugars (caster, brown, demerera, icing…) on hand for baking. I never buy Self Raising flour, it tends to lose its potency pretty quickly, and it's easier just to make your own with plain flour and baking powder. I also need vanilla beans, vanilla paste and vanilla extract (do you sense that I'm a wee bit of a vanilla fan?) I also make sure I have a packet of dried yeast in there too. So long as there are butter and eggs in my fridge (there always are) then I can whip up just about anything sweet or savoury in a flash,

Miscellaneous must-haves
Add to this are 'fresh stock' (beef and chicken), sauces: tomato, bbq, worschestershire, sweet chilli, soy, plum, and garlic and onions. Oh, and I mustn't forget red and white wine - and brandy! I always buy 4 litre tins of olive oil, and decant it into smaller bottles for ease of use. I have one of those two bottle sets, so in one I have plain olive oil, in the other I add a few slivers of garlic to the oil - voila - instant garlic oil for cooking or dressing salads or veg. There's always japanese panko crumbs on hand too - love these on schnitzel, salmon patties or sprinkled over the top of a gratin. Mmmmmm.

What are your pantry essentials?

Friday, October 05, 2012

flowers for friday

Ooooh, was a hot old day yesterday - 31 degrees! And apparently today's temps are also set to soar. I went for a bike ride this morning {bliss} and it just felt like summer. I've got the sprinklers on in the front garden now, giving my poor fleurs a great big drink.

It's the last weekend of the school holidays, and we're busy, busy, busy - with lots of fun stuff. Hope you're having a fabulous one too.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

following the white rabbit

There are few things I enjoy more than a grand adventure. I love an event, and I adore a surprise. So when I was on Facebook recently and saw that there was a group called Underground Epicureans, my curiosity was more than a little piqued. This new initiative will see Newcastle chefs leading a small group on an epicurean adventure, led by the White Rabbit.

The first event is on next month, and I've already snaffled up my tickets. The theme is Childhood Memories and the chef is Ben Armstrong from III Bean. That'd be enough for me to sign up. I love Ben's concept of food, so I can't wait to hear about his childhood inspiration.


Who knows.

The only hint we're given is that it's somewhere in Newcastle East and we're to leave any preconceptions behind and be open to the experience.

Suits me just about fine.

But shhh, don't tell everybody. With only 30 guests at a table there's got to be a limit.

Monday, October 01, 2012

meal planning monday

And I'm back! Sorry for the lack of posts last week, my parents' house had NO reception, and every time we were out and about we were always dashing here and there... We had a fabulous week though. It was relaxing, and yet we still crammed in heaps. It's good to be back home though. AND back into another week of meal planning. Here's what we'll be eating this week:

Monday: today's a public holiday. Hurrah! We didn't realise this when we'd booked our holiday, but it does mean that we get a day off after our holiday. Perfect. Time to get washing done, shopping sorted and the final week of my gal's school holidays planned. For dinner tonight I want to make pork cutlets, with an orange glaze {smeared with orange marmalade and garlic before I pop them on the bbq} and served with an enormous salad filled with shredded carrots, cabbage, beetroot and zucchini and studded with roasted hazelnuts. Yum.

Tuesday: my gal's going to a macaron baking class at The Essential Ingredient today - love what they do! So she'll probably be in a bit of a french mood on her return. I think I'll make chicken provencale for dinner. And serve it with a green salad and crusty baguette.

Wednesday: my gal's off to her grandparents' for a sleep over, and hubby and I are off to a French movie with the Alliance Francais. We should also be catching up with some friends. No time for dinner before it starts, we might have to grab something afterwards...

Thursday: I have early burlesque class tonight, so I'll have spaghetti bolognaise for dinner tonight. Easy-as.

Friday: apparently we have nothing planned for this weekend {the only non-busy weekend this month}. I find that hard to believe - chances are I've just forgotten to write it down... But I do want to do salmon on the bbq tonight. With a lemon and caper sauce. And a salad - with celariac and walnuts. And radiccio, if I can find some. Yum.

Saturday: there's a new mexican and tequila bar opened in the East End. Casa del Loco.  I'm keen to check it out. Perhaps we should head there for dinner tonight. If so, let's have our fingers crossed that there's cerviche on the menu.

Sunday: last night of school hols. Let's celebrate with a roasted chunk of meat from the markets, and a lovely, lovely salad.

And that's it. Let me know what you're eating.

Monday, September 24, 2012

monday, but no meal planning

We're flying to Melbourne today for a whole blissful week, so no meal planning from me. I'll be feasting in gorgeous Melbourne places catching up with family and friends. Can. Not. Wait. I'm keen to check out the Melbourne food scene - and do a wee bit of shopping.

Oh, and that meal above? Last night's dinner of duck confit, potatoes roasted in duck fat and salad. Sublime. Washed down with {too much} champagne. I know, I have a hard life...

Enjoy your week. I'll try to blog a bit from my phone where possible. Or check me out on Instagram - there will be plenty of shots this week.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A hidden gem

I'm a fan of fine food done well. As you may have noticed. So I've always had a soft spot for Quint Cafe in Newcastle's Essential Ingredient. But now I think it's a secret worth sharing. It's recently undergone a make-over and is looking v stylish and inviting.

And the menu? Sublime.

See that prettiness above? It's turkish eggs. Oh my. Eggs baked to perfection - whites perfectly set, yolks perfectly runny. Topped with just enough crispy green shallots, red chilli and toasted dukkah. And the Binnorie marinated feta? Oh my; so salty, creamy and delicious. Served with a side of delicious olive oil drizzled bread it's quite possibly the perfect breakfast.

But something made it more sublime. This. Deliciously crisp pieces of speck. Bacon turned up to 11 in the perfection stakes. Oh. My.

Here's the menu, well a sneaky peek at it. The perfect combination of lovingly sourced foods. The eggs are from Ox Hill Farm. You should see their YouTube video - cuteness incorporated. Free Range Eggs done the way they should be with moveable vans for the chickens and the most gorgeous green pastures to roam in: protected by alpacas and these gorgeous mountain dogs. You can taste the freedom and the sunshine in these eggs.

There are perfect little vignettes like this featuring in the cafe - making shining stars of the ingredients chosen with such care by the enthusiastic staff. It's very Instagrammable.

Quint: I like your style. And your service, seriously, hold onto those staff. They make a great coffee and are the ideal combination of friendly and unobtrusive.

Oh, and ps: the lunch menu also looks D.I.V.I.N.E. and if you're after morning or afternoon tea, they make a damned fine cup of coffee and have what I do believe is one of the best collections of fabulous sweet things in Newy.

Quick, get thee to Darby Street and check it out. It's down the back of the amazing store - leave some time to browse, you won't be leaving empty-handed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

silence is golden

Have you seen Hugo? Do you remember this Georges Melies' film? Well, then I'm sure you will share my excitement. I was on Twitter today when I saw a tweet from Newcastle Museum revealing that they'll be screening this restored classic this Sunday.

Hand-coloured fabulousness. Bring it.

Here are all the details of the Silent Film Festival. How much fabulousness is there in this world?

Monday, September 17, 2012

oui, oui, OUI

So, on Sunday we're wandering around Morpeth and spot THIS! Yes, a new French restaurant with a French chef and staff is opening. Sadly it is in the old Restaurant Deux building, but apparently Le Petit Deux will be opening for dinners in the new, smaller venue.

An abundance of Frenchness in Newy.


meal planning monday

Hey, how you doin'? I'm tired, but soooooooo relaxed after the weekend. It was hectic, but with a lot of fabulous - and ended with a lovely long bikeride and then a quick dip in the pool! Here's what we're eating this week:

Monday: wee little chicken pot pies like the one in the pic. Love these. Served with mash and lots of steamed broccoli and carrots.

Tuesday: it's my burlesque class tonight, so we'll have spaghetti bolognaise for when I get home, and for when my gal gets home from ballet.

Wednesday: nothing much on tonight. I think we might have lamb steaks with roasted vegies and wilted baby spinach.

Thursday: I think I'm going to go to burlesque classes twice this week. So I'll have chicken kebabs and salad for dinner tonight. That's easy to whip up.

Friday: salmon on the bbq and salad. Also a lemon risoni salad.

Saturday: we'll be getting a lot done in the garden this weekend, so a simple bbq will be great. It'll be nice to have a butterflied chicken on the bbq. Yum.

Sunday: roast beef, roasted veg salad and something green.

That's it. You?

Friday, September 14, 2012

flowers for friday

Wow, Friday hey? How's your week been? Mine's been rather lovely actually. And tonight's going to be even better. We're off to a ball with friends, that's got to be fun. And - guess what? For the first time ever I'm going to a hairdresser to get a do! True! My frock's rather 50s style so I've asked for a messy, beehive-ish style. A little Amy Winehouse - but curly... Let's see shall we. I'll try to Instagram it - but I'm crap with selfies - I'll see if hubby can shoot me. We're sure to dance and laugh the night away. Can't wait. Then, on Saturday, we're off to a friends house with a few other groups of friends for a bbq. We're checking out their new home which will be fun. I think they're a bit in love with it - love sticky-beaking in new home!

But to get you through today I'll leave you with this fabulous image found on Pinterest. Isn't it divine? I want an effect like this outside our loungeroom window looking onto the side yard. It's the last place left to do {aside from replacing our front fence which is on the verge of falling apart}. Bliss. Utter bliss.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

burlesque baby

Just over a month ago a friend of mine on Facebook updated her status, mentioning she'd just been to a burlesque fitness class. I, of course, squealed, then responded "Where? I wanna go!" So I went along and swiftly fell in love. What a fabulously fun workout. For a start, the music's awesome, and the hour just flies by. I've moved parts of my body that haven't moved in yonks - and I feel so much better already. My back doesn't feel stiff, I'm moving more smoothly and I am having FUN.

Pretty sure I'll start looking like Dita soon...

Monday, September 10, 2012

meal planning monday

Hmmm, I have a feeling I may have used this image before, but it's so pretty we can live with it again can't we? It's from - site of many of my home-drooling missions. I had a fabulously busy weekend. Mother's night out on Friday night where I met the gorgeous Lou who reads my blog. She's set to travel and shall be blogging all about it - I'll let you know the address so we can all dream of our next trip OS. Saturday was a baby-welcoming party for two of my dearest friends who now have the most beautiful baby in their family after a long 10-year-wait. He's divine, they're besotted and it was lovely to share the day with family and friends who were ever-so-thrilled for them. Then, yesterday, it was two netball presentations in a row. I'm on the committee so helped with the setting up and hung around while everything ran beautifully. Tired now... But here's what we're eating:

Monday: Steak and salad tonight. Looks like it's going to be a warm day, so that'll be nice.

Tuesday: I'm making my husband and daughter's fave mince and macaroni dish. I made it last week, but I swear my husband would eat it every day. It's an easy re-heater too - so perfect for me with my burlesque fitness class. I'll serve it with a side salad.

Wednesday: Tonight we'll have home-made pizzas. I tend to flop in the middle of the week and can't be bothered cooking and we'll order takeaway thai. Instead, I'm trying to plan and have the ingredients for an easy meal on hand. Like this!

Thursday: I have some saltbush lamb tenderloins I need to cook up. I'll crust them in a fresh herb (flat leaf parsley and mint) and macadamia crust and then slice them and serve them with a salad with persian feta, ruby grapefuit and lots of bitter leaves.

Friday: We're off to a ball. I know, fancy. We've been going ever since kinder with the same core group of friends. Dancing will be involved. And hysterical laughter.

Saturday: I'll do some garlic and lemongrass prawns on the bbq tonight. With a salad.

Sunday: Roast chicken with a simple stuffing - and a warm roast veg and lentil salad.

And that's it. Let me know what you're cooking. I need more ideas...

Friday, September 07, 2012

flowers for friday

Happy friday everyone! I have just had the most inspiring morning. I went to the first of the Renew Newcastle Creative Talks when the incredibly charismatic artist Lucas Grogan spoke. Wow. He was an inspiration. The passion that drives him was evident and it's no wonder that he's charmed his way to success. His unique art speaks for itself, but you'd have to be a hard case not to be won over when he speaks. He spoke of how he just creates and creates, and has a huge box of discarded art. He says that creativity is like a muscle that needs to be worked - you don't wait for inspiration to strike - you work until something magical happens.

Loved it.

Loved him.

Then I went and voted in my local election. It was a tough one. I've been doing a lot of research, not just into the candidates for Lord Mayor, but for council too. There are currently a few sitting on council that I would really like to see the back of - so I was thrilled to mark them as last in the preferences. The first choice was the toughest. I want to see someone who has the passion and experience to do something with this town. Luckily The Newcastle Herald has videos of all the candidates speaking - which helped seal my one, two and three votes.  Go here to see it if you're a local.

I also collected ALL the how-to-vote cards as I like to see where everyone directs their preference - if I'm unsure, then I check this out.

It'll be interesting to see how this pans out. I think the Mayoral vote will be close. I just hope that the make-up of the council can work together for the community so we can continue to be as awesome a town as we have the potential to be.

I'm off to a school mum's dinner tonight where I'll get to meet a reader of this blog (Hey Lou, I'll wear a red rose over my ear and cover three quarters of my face so you recognise me...) Should be fun. Then, tomorrow I'm down to Sydney for a friends party for a much-loved and much-longed-for baby. Can't wait. Sunday it's back home and then off to the netball presentations. Phew. I'll need another weekend to recover I think...

Have a fabulous weekend.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

yes please

Every now and again you just need some words to lift you up and let you soar. There's no point in just existing is there? It's all about living. Sure, it might be exhausting, and expensive, and busy - but hey, it's worth it.

Why not? You only live one - live it well.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

hats off to newy

I was following the Good Food Guide awards on Twitter the other night and was thrilled to see that Newcastle now has FOUR restaurants with a well-deserved one Hat. The beautiful Bacchus has retained its hat, as has the sublime Restaurant Deux. Newbies coming into the fold are Restaurant Mason (next on my list to try) and the ever-so-awesome Subo.

Yay us.

I'm thrilled at these results, but not surprised. What Newcastle has in its food scene is passion. See that ridiculously pretty pic up there? That's from a Newcastle café. Yes, I'll let that sink in. Café. Not a hatted restaurant, but just a little something on the lunchtime menu. Ridiculously, crazy beautiful. It's an orange and berry verrine, with meringue, and a hazelnut praline. The orange came in the form of light mouthfuls of pannacotta, the berries in the perfect coulis. The toffee surrounding the nuts was deliciously thick, crispy and the perfect shade of caramel. It was so perfectly composed and utterly delicious. I think it's my new favourite dessert.

Unsurprisingly it came from the kitchen of Le Petit Deux, the french breakfast and lunch café set up by Lesley Taylor of Restaurant Deux. I love how she's translated fine dining aspects into the perfect french café menu. Merci Lesley.

I am just so proud of how this town's developing. Of the new cultures that are rising and embracing this town and what it has to offer. I see a promising future - and it's pretty darned sweet.

Monday, September 03, 2012

meal planning monday

image from

Hey, Spring! Yay - thank goodness you're here! While I do love Winter, I am somewhat over it now and looking forward to longer days, warmer weather and a change of menu. We're busy this week, (I know - surprise!) here's what we're eating this week.

Monday: I wanted to do crispy-skinned salmon on the BBQ as my daughter loves salmon and I am guilty of never cooking it often enough. But the salmon yesterday at the store looked a bit pale. So, instead, I'll make salmon patties. I’ll serve it with a lemony potato salad and a baby spinach and blood orange salad.

Tuesday: I’ve switched the day of my burlesque fitness class so a friend can come with me. So whatever meal is planned for tonight has to be served up by hubby and daughter. Tonight my daughter has a school dance, and a friend over to get ready together. I'm going to whip up this delish mince and macaroni casserole from my Leggo's cookbook. It's so simple, and terribly tasty.

Wednesday: My daughter’s ballet has switched from Thursday to Wednesday so I now need a speedy Wednesday meal. I think we’ll have caramelised pork tonight. I'm also off to catch up with friends to check out some new offerings at the always-fab Greg & Audrey's Garage. I'm sure it'll inspire me for summer.

Thursday: I was chatting with a friend the other day about retro-meals and she mentioned curried sausages. Boy, did that get me hankering. She said she fried off the sausages first so the skin was nice and brown. I might just have to cook this up.

Friday: I’m going out to a school mum’s night tonight – no cooking for me, just sitting at a table being served two courses with friends. Yes please. Hubby and daughter can make homemade burgers.

Saturday: I'm down in Sydney tonight for a friend's baby party - yayness! All three of us gals from uni days are catching up, so I'm guessing that after the party we'll head out somewhere for some food. Don't worry, I'm not leaving hubby and child purely to fend for themselves - they're off to my in-laws for the night so my hubby can ride from Maitland to Dungog and back on Sunday morning. I know - craziness.

Sunday: I need to start a spring tradition to take over from roast. But I still want to roast… guess I can do lamb shoulder on the bbq and serve it warm with a salad. Can’t I? Yep, that sounds perfect, particularly as we have the netball presentation in the afternoon. I'll leave the bbq roasting slowly while we're out and we'll come home to cooked-to-perfection meat and a pre-prepared salad (I'm thinking a lentil salad and a baby spinach, feta and pinenut salad will work well). Don't worry, I won't leave the bbq unnattended, hubby'll be here working on the garden while we're at netball presso.

And that'll do us. Tell me what you're having.

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