Monday, October 28, 2013

meal planning monday

I did a very, very foolish thing yesterday. Rather than deleting a whole bunch of spam comments I deleted real comments. Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh! So sad.

Also, so silly. If you'd left a comment on my last post, to win tix to Glamarama at Newcastle Art Gallery please comment again. I feel so lonely with no comments :(

Now, onto planning.

Monday: tonight hubby and I are off to Sydney to see The Breeders in concert. So excited. It's the 20th anniversary of the release of Last Splash and they're playing the album in it's entirety. I know, I feel old. We're having dinner at our friends' house - while our child is off to spend the night with one of her best buds. Good times.

Tuesday: bbq chicken kebabs, rice salad and green salad tonight.

Wednesday: mince and macaroni bake.

Thursday: Salmon on the bbq - this was a big hit with everyone last week, so I'll be making this a regular. With lots of salads.

Friday: I'm off to the last French Friday movie of the year. I'll just have something to nibble on when we get there. Husband and child can have mexican.

Saturday: I'm going to the opening of Whiteley on Water exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery this afternoon. Wendy Whiteley is speaking and I think I'll be floating on air. When I come home I'll bring myself back to earth by cooking up a bbq. With salad.

Sunday: slow-roasted pork is something I need. With salads.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

glamarama wrap party - giveaway!

Hey, have you been to see the extraordinary vintage fashion exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery yet? After Five: Fashions from the Darnell Collection is an absolute must-see. Sadly, it ends on November 10 but excitingly I have TWO TICKETS to giveaway to the Glamarama Wrap Party on Saturday November 9! Taking place from 6 to 9.30pm this party will involve much entertainment, delicious canapés and cocktails from Silo Restaurant and Lounge and the fabulous Bob Downe as host!

There'll also be music from DJ Eoin who'll be spinning tunes from the all the eras represented by the fashions - from the 1920s to today! FUN! 

Want to come? For your chance to win, simply tell me which era you'll come dressed in homage to and why and I shall select a winner.

Will it be the fabulous 40s as epitomised by Dior's New Look?

The flirty 50s? {Oh look, another Dior!}

The sexy 70s? {That Halston, in the middle - to die for}

Excessive 80s perhaps?

So tell me, tell me do. Which era most suits you? 

The winner will be drawn on Wednesday November 6.

To book your tickets {because c'mon, this is a bring a bunch of gal-pals kinda night} call 4974 5111. Tickets are $55 or $50 if you're a member of the Gallery Society. Frock up and be fabulous as there'll also be a vintage photobooth on location so you can take away some cute snaps of the night.

Good luck - and I'll see you there - I've already bought my tickets! {Hey, I've only seen the exhibition four times so far, and I'm a HUGE Bob Downe fan, oh, and a cocktail fan...}

Monday, October 21, 2013

meal planning monday

Who's been a slack blogger? I've been a slack blogger. Sorry. But do you know who's been punished the worst for my slackness? Me, and my family. See, no meal planning for two weeks in a row has led to no real shopping, no real cooking and no enthusiasm. For anything. We've had bbq chicken and salad more times that I can to share. We've had takeaway. We've had lacklustre steak with salad leaves from a bag and a few slices of cucumber and apple added to it. BORING!

So, from today, back into it. Starting.


Monday: I got back from Sydney from a gorgeous party yesterday to welcome friends' gorgeous baby girl to the family. It was so much fun catching up with everyone, and getting lots of cuddles and baby giggles in return. Tonight I have a community meeting to attend, so an easy dinner is called for. I'm going to make a bolognaise ravioli bake.

Tuesday: I have another meeting to attend {I know, some things never change} so it's an early dinner of bbq salmon and lots of lovely salads. I'm finding it tough cooking meals that my gal with her braces is okay to eat. Salmon should be perfect!

Wednesday: pancetta and chicken sausages - made with chicken mince, lemon zest, chilil and parsley and wrapped in pancetta before pan frying. Served with roasted carrot sticks and a green salad.

Thursday: bbq pork cutlets, glazed with mandarine jam before cooking. I'll serve these with an apple and walnut coleslaw - and a beetroot and persian feta green leaf salad.

Friday: hubby and I are off to the Maritime Ball. Can't wait! It's a Pearl Harbour theme - so 1940s and will be held in the glorious Civic Theatre. I'm on the fundraising committee for this one, so there are no surprises for me {well, aside from what I'm going to wear!!!} but I can't wait to see everyone's faces when the curtain comes up on the stage!

Saturday: bookclub in the afternoon, so I'll come home and cook some squid and prawns on the bbq.

Sunday: our first whole weekend home together in yonks - we will hopefully have done HEAPS of work around the house. I shall reward us all with a slow-roasted pork shoulder and a roasted veg salad.

Back into it! YES! And you? What are you eating? Inspire me...

image from

Sunday, October 13, 2013

county dining - it's all about sharing

For quite some time now we've been spoiled in Newcastle with fabulous dining options. Choosing somewhere to eat is tough, and I'm a tough audience. See, when I go out to dinner I want it all. Obviously I want great food: I want something new, something familiar, or something that's cooked in such a way that it brings out all the wows. I also want friendly, fabulous service. I want to be greeted with a smile by staff who make the dinner an even more pleasurable experience. Finally, I want ambiance. I want to take delight in my surroundings.

County Dining takes out the trifecta in exceeding my expectations.

This gorgeous new restaurant is the love child of Heather Moore and Jamie Ryan. And it's a beauty. Set in the historic town of Morpeth, in the old Arnott's Sourdough building, this restaurant welcomes you with open arms from the moment you walk through the historic doors.

The wide veranda completely spans the street and is the ideal setting for a dinner or a long lunch. Details have been minutely attended to. Everything from the chairs, to the napery to the cutlery is something special. You feel like you're about to experience something really special from the moment you approach your table.

The cocktail list is impressive, and overseen by the dashingly bearded Chris Woodger while the wine list by Amanda Cooper is both exciting and comforting.

And the food? Oh my, the food...

I was lucky enough to attend a preview evening, where we were treated to a range of options on the menu. Lucky - as I couldn't have chosen. I wanted EVERYTHING.

This. This was sublime. Venison tartare with a slow cooked egg, hollandaise and crispy pangritata. Oh my word. There is nothing like a well-prepared tartare to really make the most of venison. It's a meat that's delicious served rare - and divine served raw.

The most exciting thing about County Dining is there philosophy of using local, sustainable produce. See this dish above? It uses what is undoubtedly Morpeth's best product - potkin. Sure, it looks like a pumpkin, but it's not. It's the most incredibly delicious pumpkin you ever will eat - especially here at County Dining when it's served with smoked beetroot, hazelnuts and a goat's milk foam.

I thought I'd tried it all when it came to mash. Until I tried mash with bone marrow. Hello heaven! And served in old school enamel baking dishes - just like my nana had. Swoon.

Meals are meant for sharing at County Dining. Check out this incredible dish of duck, mandarin, cabbage and radish served in a massive cast iron enamelled pot. So pretty. So many flavours. So much to love. And to share. What a great concept.

This was probably my favourite thing of the night - an homage to the history of the Historic Arnott Bakehouse is this - the Iced Vovo. Can you believe it? I can't describe the magnificence, you'll just have to trust me that this is probably the best dessert I've ever had (and boy, have I had a few awesome desserts in my life). Every flavour and texture on that plate was designed to tickle tastebuds, take them for a dance, snog them, then tuck them up into bed.

Yep, divine.

Here's that balcony. Isn't it magnificent? What a spot for the newest gem in the Hunter's culinary scene.

And this is the restaurant at night. Have you seen anything prettier? Check out the website for opening hours, menu and more behind their philosophy. And make a trip to Morpeth. I'll be going again. And again. And probably another time.

Friday, October 11, 2013

fab shoes for friday

THESE are my new shoes. Ta Da! I bought them on Monday and the theory was that they'll be my shoes for Paris next year. They've got a wee wedge heel (about 2 inches) but because they have a platform at the front they're virtually flats. And they're RED! Red shoes are the best.

Is there anything more happy-making than red shoes? I think not.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

my weekend: in words and pictures

So, this weekend was the This is Not Art festival {known as TiNA} in Newcastle. Oh boy. So much to see and do. It started off with the opening party on Thursday night at Terrace Bar and didn't stop until late Sunday night. My brain's still buzzing from all the amazingness.

 Where else do you get the chance to see physical theatre performed at iconic locations such as The Mariners Pool at Newcastle Ocean baths?

And then take photos at twilight of this pretty, pretty city. Isn't Newcastle Beach just glorious?

So many fabulous venues such as The Royal Exchange with pretty booths and cute vintage lamps.

And look at this fab chandelier with tea infusers hanging from it. It's in the basement of the Royal Exchange hanging over a retro bar. So cute.

Here's a place I never even knew existed until TiNA came along. It's the United Services Club, also known as the Gun Club. So retro-fabulous.

Lounging in gorgeous leather chesterfields, with glorious vintage prints of the Queen gazing down upon you? Well, why not? A quirky venue really adds something else to an event doesn't it?

Oh, we also went very upper-class and snuck in to the opening of Reserve Wine Bar on Saturday night. Oh my. It's very, very, very swish.

So much to offer in this city of mine.

Now I just need a nap.

Monday, October 07, 2013

and the winner is...

And the lucky winner of the Friday Fashion lunch at Rustica double pass is...

Lipstick and Licorice.


Email me your name and contact details and I'll see you at lunch at Rustica in November.

Thank you to everyone who entered, and thank you Random Number Generator for helping me select the winner with ease.

Monday, September 30, 2013

lunch and fashion - giveaway!

Oh hey, would YOU like to be a lady who lunches? Specifically, would you like to be a lady who lunches at Rustica opposite beautiful Newcastle beach - with a special fashion parade of all the newest Spring/Summer trends?

You would?

Are you free THIS Friday {October 4} from 12 - 2pm*? If so, you could be the lucky winner of a double pass for you and a friend to enjoy a two course meal, champagne and a styling session with Charlestown Square stylist Natalie Baker. Not only that, but you'll also get to take-home retailer offers valued at over $50.

You in?

Comment below and I'll choose a winner at random this Wednesday October 2.

To find out more contact Rustica on 4929 3333 or email

* NEWS FLASH! This Friday's lunch has been cancelled, and moved to November. I'll keep the comp open till 5pm this afternoon and draw a new winner.

Can you now make it? Let me know and I'll pop your name in the draw.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

there's no place like home

Hey, I'm back home after a week in Queensland with my gal. We visited my dad and step-mother in Hervey Bay to finally check out their new {ahem, that they bought four years ago} house. It was very relaxing, but oh, I am glad to be home. I missed my pretty town with its very blue skies, my coffee haunts, my bike - and, most of all, my husband.

Today I'm catching up on work, and washing, and this afternoon I'll be hopping on my bike and riding out to take in the glorious view above.

There really is no place like home is there?

Friday, September 20, 2013

flowers for friday

This bunch of lilac roses lasted me nearly a week - not bad for $10. They were a bit sad when I bought them, but cutting the stems and placing them in a vintage cut glass vase seemed to cheer them up immeasurably. Hurrah for pretty flowers.

I have a busy weekend ahead. We're visiting my in-laws tonight, so I'm taking dinner up for all of us (chicken provencale and a range of steamed vegies and a salad) and another two meals for them to make later (salmon patties, salad, steamed baby potatoes and quiche and salad). My father-in-law is still doing all the work around the house while my m-i-l recovers from her op, so it'll be nice to bring up some meals to give him a break.

Have a fabulous weekend.

French word of the day: mot (mot) word - hence the phrase bon mot which means good word!

Monday, September 16, 2013

meal planning monday

Oh hai, I'm back. Ish. Still busy, still exhaustipated, but hey, meals still have to be planned don't they? If anything, a busy week means MORE planning. So here's what we're eating this week:

Monday: it's grey, drizzly and even a little bit chilly. Luckily I have a shoulder of lamb to slowly roast on a bed of French lentils. I'll serve it with roasted carrots, beetroot and broccoli.

Tuesday: burlesque fitness for me tonight. Hopefully it'll fix my dodgy back from seven hours straight standing at the netball presentations on Sunday. I'll make spaghetti bolognaise tonight.

Wednesday: grilled, marinated chicken breast with a lentil and marinated feta salad - with lots of leaves.

Thursday: baked fish with some grilled veg - zucchini, capscium, cherry tomatoes - tossed with garlic and herbs.

Friday: chicken and avocado quesadillas. With fresh corn salsa on the side.

Saturday: I think we're going to my in-laws. I'll make a dish to take along. Salmon patties, oven roasted potatoes (regular and sweet) and a big salad.

Sunday: garlic roasted chicken for dinner tonight - with salad and roasted veg.

French word of the day: cuisse {qweesse} thigh

Image from

Friday, September 13, 2013

fa fa fa fa FASHION!

You know I love Newcastle Art Gallery, and you know I love Fashion {especially vintage fashion} so, hello, a combination of the two? Oh my! This week I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to meet the fabulous Charlotte Smith, curator of the fabulous Darnell Collection that's being showcased in After Five: Fashion from the Darnell Collection.

Hello swoonworthyness.

See that glorious detail above? It's Dior - New Look. Charlotte explained that is was made especially for a woman who was younger than the usual Dior customers, hence its playful details. Check it out in all its glory below. So magnificent.

The collection starts at the 1920s and moves through to almost the present day. There are major designers such as Dior, Mary Quant, Valentino, Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Pucci, Ungaro and even Australia's own Christopher Essex {he who designed many a memorable Logies frock!}

The devil's in the details. I love how the exhibition works the space provided. There's a surprise around every corner and you can check out the frocks from every fabulous angle. Look at this one! It's Balmain Haute Couture sweetie!

The exhibition is highlighted by massive fashion images, breathtaking in their composition.




It's Tara Moss's wedding frock. See how amazing it looks in this pic? Times that by a million and that's how amazing it looks in real life.

Oh my.

It may seem like a strange concept for an Art Gallery to be hosting a fashion exhibition, but, as Charlotte says, it makes perfect sense. Fashions define an era, they show where we were at a specific moment in time. And, look at them - they're just glorious. I swooned VERY hard at this display of shoes. I need those red ones {I think they're Yves Saint Laurent}.

The fabrics, the fall, the flow - every frock tells a story. One you just want to sit before and listen to, utterly spellbound.

This is a detail from a Valentino frock from the 70s. As Charlotte says, even a designer of the calibre of his calibre nodded to the social mores of the times. In the 70s astrology was huge, hence the detail on this bodice. Isn't it extraordinary?

It's not just frocks and shoes on display - there are also hats, handbags and fabulous jewellery {including vintage Tiffany!}

Charlotte, the author of Dreaming of Dior and Dreaming of Chanel, inherited a marvelous collection of fashion from her godmother - but can't help adding to it. After our interview she had to dash up Darby Street to pay for an 80s hat she'd found that morning that perfectly accessorised one of the frocks on display. A little bit of Newcastle for this fabulous international collection.

The collection's on show from September 14 - November 10, general admission is $8 with members or concession only paying $5. The Gallery's open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm - and there will be lots of special themed events happening out of hours. Check out Newcastle Art Gallery's site to find out more. This is an extraordinary opportunity to see a century's worth of fashion in one fabulous location. Don't miss out.

To see more of the collection, visit the Darnell Collection facebook page.

Monday, September 09, 2013

a bit of a break in transmission

Hello! I'm a tad on the exhaustipated side so I need a wee break. Something's gotta give and at the moment that's a tidy house, and my poor little blog. I'm a better blogger when I'm enthused, so I just need a week to recharge.

Hopefully I'll find a little bit of time in my break to do something like this...

A bientot x

Friday, September 06, 2013

fabulous friday

Well hello, and sorry, once again, for my tardiness. Life's so BUSY you know. I've got a lot of work on, so much so that I'm doing 'double-shifts' - day, and then five-six hours at night. Eep!

But I am still making time to get out and about. I finally went to the fabulous bookshop/café pictured above (The Press) earlier this week. And tonight I'm going to the opening of a great exhibition Now and Then at Newcastle Library, then I'm off to French Friday for a film. Yay!

And tomorrow we vote...

I strongly believe that a government affects the morals and mores of a society. It seems as though much of our country is in What About Me! mode. And I don't like that. I like to think that we need to think about others, to care for others, to look to the future.

While I'm a big fan of vintage and retro I don't believe in retrogressive politics.

So I'll be voting FOR things, not against them. I'm voting for a National Broadband Network to future-proof our country. I'm voting for Better Schools for Australia. I'm voting for the NDIS. I'm voting for maintaining or increasing our Foreign Aid as I believe it's our duty as a society to help others who are disadvantaged. I'm voting for Marriage Equality as every single person has the right to declare their love in whichever way they choose.

In the House of Reps I'm voting for my local member who's hard-working, community-minded and who I know will fight for Newcastle, not just pay lip-service and toe the party line. In the Senate? I'll be voting for a party who'll fight and won't just allow the most dangerous and retrogressive policies to go through.

There's a really good comparison of the three major parties and their policies here. They're brief. Just choose the policy that most interests you and see how you'll be affected. And then go here if you'd like to vote BelowTheLine to put the worst parties last.

And then, tomorrow night I'll be watching the election news with trepidation and hope that Australians still want a kinder future.

French word of the day: espérer (ess - pe - rare) hope.

Monday, September 02, 2013

meal planning monday

Well hello! First things first, in VERY exciting news MY NETBALL GIRLS WON THEIR GRAND FINAL!!!!! Now, while I know that winning isn't everything, they'd played so hard, and learned so much this year that I just really wanted them to win. It was tight. The other team were awesome and have improved dramatically over the year. In the last few minutes we were down by three and in a nail-biting finished we scored three goals in a row to WIN! So proud of my girls. I hope I can coach them again next year.

What this also means, is no more netball training. So things are slightly easier (but work-wise I'm so much busier!) Here's what we're eating:

Monday: we had duck confit for Father's Day dinner last night, so hubby's requested bbq steak and salad tonight. Easy-as.

Tuesday: Green chicken curry, rice and wilted greens.

Wednesday: lamb sirloin, coated in dukkah, grilled and served with a beetroot salad and lots of green leaves. YUM.

Thursday: we haven't had fish for 900 years. I'll cook fish on the bbq and serve it with salad.

Friday: my mother-in-law had ankle reconstruction last week, so I'm taking her to Sydney to have the plaster removed and a boot put on. Not sure what time I'll make it home. But I'm meant to be going to the opening of Now and Then Photographic exhibition at Newcastle Library at 6.30 followed by French Friday film. So dinner? Um, for me it'll probably be yoghurt and fruit woolfed down when I'm getting ready. Hubby and daughter can have mexican.

Saturday: nothing planned. Prawns on the bbq with lots of salad I think.

Sunday: I'm going to the launch of champagne high tea at Hobarts at Wests New Lambton with a friend today, shall need a cleansing dinner of poached chicken salad afterwards I'd imagine. After a decadent late-lunch of glorious sweets and finger sandwiches, washed down with Piper Heidsiek I'll be pretty sated and spoiled.

French word of the day: Septembre (Sep - tom - bra) September (can you BELIEVE it's September?)

image from

Friday, August 30, 2013

fabulous friday

Look at the pretty I saw in Newtown last weekend. I do love a colour contrast.

I have an exciting weekend planned. First of all, I'm off with a friend to check out the opening of a fabulous new restaurant (details to follow!). It's got a great team behind it, and is in a fabulous building so my hopes are high.

Tomorrow morning I have my 10-year-old's Grand Final (hurrah!) I've spent HOURS working on the game plan as I really want them to have the win they deserve. Fingers and toes crossed for us!

Immediately afterwards I'm off to a Travel Writing Course held by the Hunter Writer's Centre. Now, while I've had a few travel pieces published I'd really love to do more - so I can't wait to see what I learn. Should be fun!

Then it's Father's Day on Sunday - best make hubby a lovely breakfast and give him lots of pressies.

Have a fabulous Friday x

Thursday, August 29, 2013

feeling a little blue

Not sad, just that I need to add some of this colour to my house. Isn't it just the most gloriously-happy-making shade of blue!

I'm also keen on some glossy black - just need to find the time to get some painting done.

Monday, August 26, 2013

meal planning monday

The weather is sooooooo warm at the moment that we might even eat out here, on our back veranda, one night this week! Hello Spring, you are ever-so-close. Here's what's on the menu this week.

Monday: Last netball training before Saturday's Grand Final - eep! Tonight, I'm going to flatten out some chicken breasts, marinate them with lemon zest, lemon juice and oregano and grill them. Then I'll fill a bowl with leaves, grilled asparagus and blood orange and slice the chicken and toss it through. Perhaps with a few toasted hazelnuts as well.

Tuesday: I'm trying to stay away from processed carbs at the moment, so no pasta etc. So we'll have dukkah crusted lamb (backstrap maybe?) on the bbq, with lots of salad - including a beetroot, persian feta and walnut salad.

Wednesday: I'll make some chicken patties with mince, lemon zest, pancetta, parsley and a little bit of chilli. Then I'll bake these and serve them with baked carrot wedges and salad.

Thursday: Another netball meeting tonight, just the general meeting. It's at 7.30 so we'll have an early dinner of steak and salad tonight. I'll also make a lentil salad to serve with it - nothing like meat protein + vegie protein to fill you up!

Friday: Now, this is exciting. I'm off with a friend to a special sneak peek of an exciting new restaurant that's opening next week. The team AND location has me very excited - full report to follow.

Saturday: Let's hope we're having a celebratory dinner after my girls Grand Final win today (I don't want to be cocky, just optimistic!). We're playing the team we defeated 15 - 5 in the semis, but you can never rest on your laurels. I think I'll make pork belly tonight, with french lentil salad and apple slaw. I'll be home late-ish as after netball I have a Travel Writing Course to attend with a friend. Very excited about that!

Sunday: Baked salmon tonight. I went to my friends' house on the weekend and my friend M cooked Jamie Oliver's baked salmon from his 30 minute (or 15 minute) meals. It was delish!

French word of the day: printemps (prin - tomp) Spring!

Friday, August 23, 2013

fabulous friday

Whoops, I got a little bit distracted and forgot to post today. Will it help if I "put a bird on it?" A budgie to be specific?

How CUTE is this wallpaper? I could almost ignore my bird phobia if I had this on my walls...

French word of the day: oiseau (wa - so) bird.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

spring fling

This is a sight that brings me delight. Jasmine! The scent of Spring. I found this while out riding the other day, and a sneaky sprig *may* have fallen into my basket. If so, it *may* be sitting in my little green vase on my desk, making my study smell utterly delicious.

The temps are warming up, making it much easier for me to go for a ride every second day - when it's not crazy-windy! But the weather is a wee bit up and down: nights and early mornings have been wintery-as - while the middle of the day is glorious. This did make me happy as I had an excuse to wear my cape when I went out last night for a drink with friends.

Enjoy the sunshine :)

French word of the day: villégiature (vee lay zhu tur) vacation, holiday