Monday, April 28, 2014

meal planning monday

School's back - hurrah! As is normality, or a sense thereof. So I'm back into this meal planning malarky. Here's what's on.

Monday: I have a workshop to attend after work, so my hubby and gal shall have to whip up a spaghetti bolognaise to feed themselves, and me upon my return.

Tuesday: my gal's netball training. Woo hoo! I'll make a green chicken, broccoli and potato curry tonight. With rice.

Wednesday: my 11-year-old's netball training. When I come home I'll serve up steak and veg.

Thursday: it's hubby's birthday on Sunday. We have most of his gifts ready, but still need a few more. We'll have to shop tonight to buy stuff. Then we'll get takeaway for dinner.

Friday: salmon on the bbq with roasted veg.

Saturday: chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, mash and greens.

Sunday: hubby's birthday - we'll head out for dinner - probably to The Burwood, the pub around the corner from us which does the best steak in Newcastle. Seriously.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

excuse my absence

Please take some time to stop and smell the roses.

Normal transmission will resume tomorrow x

gorgeous image by Sir William Quiller Orchardson

Monday, April 14, 2014

meal planning monday

For a brief, blissful moment I woke this morning thinking it was Sunday… But at least it's a short-week! Hurrah! And school holidays, so no after-school activities! Here's what we're eating:

Monday: we went to the Farmers Market yesterday, so there's some lovely meat and veg in my fridge and pantry. Tonight we'll be having, at my gal's request, cottage pie with green beans.

Tuesday: I have to go to a meeting after work, so I'll bring home thai takeaway for dinner afterwards.

Wednesday: I bought some delish-looking lamb leg chops at the markets too, so we'll have Nigella's Greek Lamb Chops tonight.

Thursday: last work day of the week! Hurrah! To celebrate I might cook up a paella.

Friday: last week's salmon on the bbq was a massive hit. I might just recreate it, I swear I feel smarter after eating salmon with all that Omega 3.

Saturday: a beef and Guinness stew might be in order. With mash, and greens.

Sunday: I cooked roast pork last week, perhaps a roast chicken tonight. With roasted carrots and beetroot alongside the more standard potato and pumpkin mix. With peas cooked in chicken stock, with added crispy pancetta. Yes?

Have a fab week!

image from

Saturday, April 12, 2014

to sleep, perchance to dream

Why is time moving at some kind of turbo-charged rate? I blinked and it's the weekend again - how on earth did that happen?

I guess I've slept away most of this week. I could barely keep my eyes open after 8.30pm! I did manage the awesomely late bedtime last night of 10pm. Woo hoo! I'm off to my first netball game shortly, for my 11-year-olds. Fingers crossed for a good game. Then it's my gal's game at 12, then I'm off to speak at a Young Leaders Conference {as an example of what you can be what you grow up, *not* because of my youth!}, then it's bookclub, then off to the movies to see The Grand Budapest Hotel! Yay!

Tomorrow I have only one thing planned, High Tea at Fernwood with some lovely friends, and chilling with my family.


Don't you love a weekend :)

image from but I wish it were from my yard. I need a cute shed.

Monday, April 07, 2014

meal planning monday

May I please have another weekend to recover from the last one?

What a weekend. The Newcastle Writers Festival zoomed past in a fabulous blur. Luckily I don't have to request another as the dates are already set - March 20 - 22 - pop 'em in your diary. I loved it, again. So many wonderful people generously sharing their words and knowledge. Bless.

Now, this week. Only minor levels of busyness. So here's the plan, Stan.

monday: husband went shopping yesterday and bought a few things - including steak because he would eat steak every night of the week if permitted. So we'll have steak and salad tonight.

tuesday: we didn't have butterflied lamb shoulder last week, so we'll have it this week. With a chickpea and roasted capsicum salad. And a green salad. After my gal's netball training.

wednesday: my 11-year-old team's netball training. They'll be on a high after winning 40 - 9 on the weekend {the other team only had 5 players poor little tots}. For dinner we'll have grilled chicken burritos with salad - and fresh roasted corn cobs.

thursday: I'm going to the premiere of Grand Budapest Hotel tonight with my gals A and C. YAY! We've been looking forward to this for yonks. For dinner there shall be spaghetti bolognaise. Easy-peasy.

friday: it's the last night of school before the holidays - hurrah! We'll celebrate by having salmon on the bbq which is one of my gal's favourite meals. With a lemon potato salad {regular potato salad with lemon mixed in with mayo before tossing it!}.

saturday: I haven't made coq au vin for a while. Shall I? With mash and green beans?

sunday: something simple. Steak sandwiches with caramelised onions on baguettes. Yes?

Enjoy your week my lovelies, I'm off to work x

image from here.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

it's only words

I'm pretty sure that my idea of heaven is being surrounded by people who love books as much as I do {oh, and sleeping in this bed may *also* be my idea of heaven - hello!}. So this weekend of the Newcastle Writers Festival is ticking all my boxes.

The opening night with Wendy Harmer started the weekend off beautifully. Wendy was in fine form regaling us with tales of chick lit and hen lit - highlighting that while chick lit isn't considered highbrow, it has so many attributes that make it valuable. The after-party at Newcastle Art Gallery was worth the soggy walk in the rain from the Con. I got to chat to so many inspiring people - surrounded by glorious art. What's not to love?

I only managed to make two sessions yesterday, thanks to netball taking up the hours from 8am to 1pm, but both sessions were outstanding. I loved listening to former Vogue Editor Kirstie Clements in conversation with Newcastle's Jean Bas. As a mag-hag of old, getting an insight into one of Australia's leading magazine editors was just fascinating. Sipping a glass of Dom Perignon while I did so iced a rather magnificent cake!

Then last night I went off with my gal-pals to The Edwards for the Dear Diary session. I was tagged in a tweet before we left from author Jack Ellis who'd just happened to nab the last table, one for six, so my friends and I caught up with Jack and Summer Land who's on my panel this afternoon for pre-session drinkies and dinner. Jack's got a new book that's just been released this month, and it sounds so awesome that I'll be adding it to my to-buy list today. After a dinner that included pork scratchings and chips {hi, Cholesterol? I'm PPMJ, pleased to make your acquaintance…} we went out the other room for the Dear Diary session.

Panelists included Tim Ferguson, Monica Dux, Linda Jaivan, Jeff Aptor, Summer Land and Dom Knight. They read excerpts from their childhood diaries, which made for hilariously squirmy listening. The panel had me in hysterics, and had me quickly following Monica Dux on Twitter {why hasn't anyone told me about this witty and fabulous woman before? WHY?}. Summer's reading had me doubled-over - let's hope I don't collapse in too many giggly fits on my panel with her and Carol Duncan this afternoon. She's a scream.

While this weekend may have my credit card screaming in agony, and my bookshelves buckling under the weight of all my new purchases, I can't think of a better way to support a creative community that trades in my favourite commodity - words. Thank you Rosemarie Milsom for making the Newcastle Writers Festival a reality.

This is fast turning out to be the Best. Weekend. EVER!

image from here

Thursday, April 03, 2014

on the radio

Tonight I'm going on the radio! Yep, I'll be on Dom Knight's ABC radio show after 9pm as part of a Grand Jury chatting about this week's events - and perhaps spruiking the Newcastle Writers Festival this weekend. I'm a little bit nervous, despite having done scores of radio interviews during the whole SPC Sunday issue. But at least I don't have to worry about what to wear…

Speaking of which, this weekend, WHAT DO I WEAR? 

image from here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

confessions of a book lover

You know what I love? Books.

I've been an avid reader as far back as my memory takes me {which, to be honest, isn't a long way…} I've always been surrounded by books, but, as this pic shows - there's no particular order to my shelves…

Take a closer look. I'm lucky to have books by the same author next to each other. Some of the Harry Potter series are here on this shelf, the rest? Probably on another shelf in another room… I'm a librarian's nightmare, not to mention those people who alphabetise or order by colour...

So, for a booklover, what's the ideal event on a literary calendar? Yep, a writer's festival! The Newcastle Writers Festival in fact. I *think* I have my weekend planned out. I'm starting with the opening on Friday night featuring Wendy Harmer, who I've adored ever since her The Big Gig days.

The Saturday's going to be tricky, as it's my teams first netball game of the season. Our first game's at 9am, so I should be able to coach the team, race over to City Hall to check out Rough and Tumblr at 10am and then get back for my daughter's game at 12. I have a break before Vogue and Beyond at 2.30 at Reserve Bar (we get champagne with this session darling). Then I'll duck down to Newcastle Art Gallery for a book launch before going home to freshen up in time for Dear Diary at 8pm at The Edwards.

Sunday will start at 10am with She: True Stories, followed by ABC Open Reading at 11.15. Then I have a quick lunch break before Radical Newcastle at 1.30. Then it's my session, I Blog Therefore I Am at 2:45. {Goodness, best not forget that one!} After all that it's home for a wee rest I think.

What a chockers weekend. But gee, I can't wait. I always walk out inspired by weekends such as these. The creativity and generosity of the panellists is always overwhelming. Hey, if I see you there, please say hello!

Monday, March 31, 2014

meal planning monday

I needed this pop of cherry red to wake me up on this grey ol' morning. On days like this I'll be happy to see the end of daylight savings. I have a not-too-busy week this week, hurrah! Here's what's on the menu.

monday: my gal has late ballet tonight, I've got a butterflied chicken to cook on the bbq and serve with salads for dinner.

tuesday: my gal's netball team training - we don't get home till after 6pm, so I'll make spaghetti bolognaise for dinner tonight.

wednesday: my other team's netball training, while my gal has ballet. I'll make up Nigella's Greek Lamb chops in the morning and get hubby to throw it in the oven at 5:45. Then it'll be ready at 6.30 after my gal finishes dance class.

thursday: I have a netball committee meeting tonight. I'll make green chicken curry for dinner.

friday: it's the opening of the Newcastle Writer's Festival tonight. I'm looking forward to seeing Wendy Harmer tonight. I'll make a butterflied lamb dish on the bbq and serve it with beetroot, walnut, feta and green leaf salad before I dash out.

saturday: lots of Newcastle Writer's Festival stuff today. Takeaway for dinner in between sessions.

sunday: more Writer's Festival (including MY panel in the afternoon - eep!). I think I'll buy a bbq chicken and shred it into a vietnamese salad for dinner tonight.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

sweet soggy saturday

Oh hey, did you miss me? Once again I've had an insanely busy time and something had to give. Poor blog. It was my blog. You always neglect the ones you love don't you?

I feel like I'm finally settling into my new job, which I'm loving, but gee, getting used to full-time work after freelancing from home requires juggling. Some balls are staying in the air, while others are falling down, rolling under a cupboard and are gathering dust bunnies…

Today's aim is to make one part of my home look like this - a cosy, safe haven. How hard can it be?

Monday, March 17, 2014

meal planning monday {by a whisker}

This pic has nothing to do with meal planning. In fact, it's a Christmas pic - but hey, it's pretty and who doesn't need a pretty pic sometimes?

Hey, if I say "whew, this is a busy week" will you feel inclined to throw a shoe at me? I totally understand it - I feel like throwing a shoe at me, especially when I keep saying 'yes' to stuff. Oh well, plenty of time to slow down later…

Here's what we're eating:

Monday: well, I made seven-hour-lamb on a bed of French lentils on Sunday night, so tonight I made a rich red wine and beef gravy, thickened it, added the leftover chopped lamb, and the lentils with bacon - then popped it in a pie dish and covered it with puff pastry. DELISH. Natch, I served it with mash.

Tuesday: I'm working late tonight. There's a Great Debate at the Uni between students and academics so I'm going along to 'live tweet it'. Yes, that is part of my job - sweet hey? I'll have pizza in the Godfrey Tanner Bar!

Wednesday: my 11-year-old team's netball training, my gal's second ballet lesson. I'll make spaghetti bolognaise tonight.

Thursday: the very amazing and talented Anita Heiss is coming to Newcastle to launch her new book Tiddas, so I have two days worth of celebrations to attend. Hurrah! Launch tonight at Lake Macquarie Art Gallery - then home for a late dinner. Green Curry Chicken I think.

Friday: launch party with fingerfood and cocktails followed by more cocktails and food at Le Passe Temps. Exciting! Husband and child can fend for themselves with pizza.

Saturday: nothing planned. Phew. I'll make a beef and guinness stew. With colcannon mash.

Sunday: roast chicken and veg. And soft polenta. I love soft polenta.

If you'd like to attend the Anita Heiss launch call 4921 0781. Thursday night is FREE, while Friday night is finger food and a drink and costs $27. I have many frocks all prepared.


Monday, March 10, 2014

meal planning monday

Well, this kitchen certainly offers it up in the pop of colour stakes doesn't it? How happy is colour? {very}. Speaking of happy, having a plan for meals makes me happy - even if it's a very, very, very simple one. Here it is:

monday: daughter's late ballet = steak and salad for dinner.

tuesday: I've yet to cook my leg of lamb in the slow cooker. Best do so hey? On a bed of french lentils with red wine. It'll be all ready for us when we get home from netball training.

wednesday: my 11-year-old netball training finishes at 6pm, daughter finishes ballet at 6.30 and I have an event to attend {Pecha Kucha at The Edwards} at 7pm. Hmmm, juggling time. Green chicken curry and rice it is. so quick and simple.

thursday: erm. I don't think I have anything on. Surely that's an error. I should make something that takes a little effort. Garlic prawns on the bbq with a salad. {Not really an effort, but it's something different…}

friday: salmon patties, lemon roasted potatoes and green salad.

saturday: papadelle, shredded chicken and lemon.

sunday: roast pork belly and lots of vegies.

Phew. DONE!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

sweet, sweet saturday

Ahhhhh, Saturday. I do love Saturday - the day when the whole weekend's stretched out before you - ripe with possibility. Today I'm off to give a workshop on Blogging for the Hunter Writer's Centre {that's come around quickly hasn't it?} and I'm very excited. I love sharing things I've learned, I don't see the point in keeping them to myself. If I've discovered something that makes things move more smoothly, then why not share it?

Apparently the session's sold out, which is great news. I know that my fellow presenters have been spending a lot of time preparing, so we'll definitely give good value for money. I hope they all the participants walk away with at least a few a-ha moments. I know I will!

See this pic? It's from Cornwall, on our last trip to England. We're planning on spending some time there again on our next trip - which is zooming up pretty quickly! Best get some plans happening.

Enjoy your weekend lovelies x

Friday, March 07, 2014

oh hai autumn

Although it means the end of the swimming season, I do love Autumn. Don't you just adore it when you can feel that crisp bite of chill in the air? And the way the sky's hues soften and mellow? If I had to have a favourite season it'd be Autumn, mainly because it's still just the right temperature to do all the things I love (cycle, swim, go for walks on the beach) without the heat and humidity.

I'm planning on enjoying a bit of that this weekend. Since starting my new job I haven't cycled once - or done anything even vaguely energetic. This must be rectified as it's taking a toll on my health. Tomorrow I'm presenting at a blogging workshop, but once it's over I'll be riding my bike - unless it's hailing! Got to exercise the body as well as the mind don't you think?

image: my backyard.

Monday, March 03, 2014

meal planning monday

Hey, if you happen to be having a bit of a chat to time can you tell it to PLEASE slow down? Goodness gracious! How is it already March? HOW? GAH!

Okay, deep breaths, here's what's on the meal plan this week.

Monday: my gal has her loooooooooooong ballet lesson today. I'm making chilli con carne (no, honestly, I am, I swear!)

Tuesday: I'm going to do seven hour leg of lamb in the slow cooker today. On a bed of french lentils, stuffed with garlic and anchovies. It'll be ready when we get home from netball training.

Wednesday: my other day of netball training, while my gal is at ballet. For dinner I'm smashing out and marinating some chicken breasts in Peri Peri Sauce. I'll serve them with salad and flatbread.

Thursday: I'm going straight after work to pick up a friend and we're off to a preview of a very cool local artist named James Drinkwater. I love his work - love. Must keep credit card in my pocket. Shall serve up some spaghetti carbonara when I get home - that's a 10 minute quickie!

Friday: I'll need brain food as I'm spending most of the day at a blogging workshop (as a presenter) on Saturday. Eep! Salmon. And salad. Oh my!

Saturday: baked beans on toast?

Sunday: I didn't make pork belly last week, so I might do it this week. With lots of greens.


Friday, February 28, 2014

you've got to have friends...

How good are good friends? I mean, seriously, HOW GOOD? So good they'll stand in a group to snap off a shot like this, even if they're sans pedicure…

I have been very blessed to make some really, really fabulous friends over my lifetime. Friends who make me smile, laugh and warm my heart. They make my soul sing.

ps: don't you just have shoe-envy from my friend J's shoes on the left of this pic? I do.

Monday, February 24, 2014

meal planning monday

Well good morning lovely, lovely people - how are things in your neck of the woods? I have a VERY big week on this week - no socially, but work-wise. So there shall be much pre-preparing and I'm sending my husband back into the kitchen again.

Here's what we're eating.

Monday: chicken schnitzel, mash, corn and broccoli - tonight's one of my few nights where I'm home early-ish, so I'll prepare this. My gal has ballet till 7:15 so she'll be starvational.

Tuesday: my gal's netball team start training - 5 - 6pm, so I'll arrive straight after work and help out. I will make a dish in the slow cooker in the morning - probably the chilli con carne I didn't make last week.

Wednesday: my netball team start training, again, 5 - 6pm. When I get home my husband will have prepared me a delicious dinner. Probably mexican I'd say.

Thursday: I have to drive to Port Macquarie and back today for work. BIG day. Thai takeaway tonight.

Friday: I'll have had Orientation Week activities all week at work, very fun and very full on, so I'll need an easy dinner. How about husband and child cook ME salmon on the bbq?

Saturday: nothing planned. Bliss. I think we should go out to dinner tonight.

Sunday: roast dinner night. Dare I cook my first pork belly since having my oven professionally cleaned in December? I think so!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

newcastle writers festival: i get around

Today the program for the second Newcastle Writers Festival was launched. Hurrah! Opening on Friday April 4, and featuring a packed program on Saturday and Sunday, lovers of literature from Newcastle and beyond will hit Newcastle for a literary fix.

For those who are new to Newcastle I thought I'd write a bit of a guide to getting around and grabbing some food or coffee in our fabulous city. To make things easier, I'll divide the city into sections: West End, East End, City Centre or Honeysuckle. Ready?

West End

There's been a lot of action in the West End of late, with fab coffee shops popping up in the most unexpected places. The latest launch is festival venue The Edwards - open from 7am till midnight is a must-visit. A gorgeous space with great food, drinks and atmosphere. While you're in the West End check out Bank Corner in Bellevue Street Newcastle West (open late with a secret courtyard that makes for a fabulous Deco winebar), or take a short stroll around the corner to The Social for fab coffee and food with a cuban influence.

City Centre

There's always action on Darby Street - a hub of cafés, restaurants and funky shops filled with bespoke beauty. If you fancy a cider or cocktail between sessions check out 5 Sawyers or The Hop Factory - both on Darby Street. Don't miss festival venue Agosti Espresso with their divine Art Deco reno and, as the name suggests - coffee! (and food and more). Or just around the corner back in Hunter Street try The Clarendon Hotel - pub food with a fancy twist as the kitchen's now held by hatted Chef Lesley Taylor.

One must-not-miss venue is The Press Book House - a café combined with second hand bookstore - any reader's dream. They have a delicious range of tea, great coffee and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves groaning with vintage fabulousness. I swoon.

Now, hopefully Coal & Cedar will be opening soon. However, it's a speakeasy so keep its location hush-hush...


Down on the harbour is Honeysuckle, and if there's one thing I'm proud of, it's our beautiful working harbour. My fave spots down here are MoneyPenny with their ever-changing bespoke cocktail menu and The Landing and their truffled fries (oh my!)

If you have time, go for a wander along the foreshore. If you're lucky you might see a couple of cute tugboats guiding in a majestic bulk carrier. Take your phone - it's very Instagramable down there.

East End

Hello fancy pants. The East End is where Newcastle gets really swish. There are bars-a-plenty and plenty of cafés to get your caffeine fix. For bars, check out:

  • Casa de Loco - hello tequila and mezcal bar with brilliant *real* mexican food
  • Name the Lane - cool cocktails and tapas
  • Le Passe Temps - authentic French wine bar, with French staff. Le swoon
  • Reserve Wine Bar - high end wines and divine whiskeys in a gorgeous location
  • Grain Store - beers-a-plenty of tap, the good stuff, not the average.
When it comes to food, well, you can get food at all the bars mentioned above - or you can have a Spanish feast at Bocados, German delights at Oma's Kitchen, fab coffee, breaky or lunch at One Penny Black or Sprocket or Good Brother or fab Japanese at Asa Don. Oh, and cupcakes, coffee and drinks next door at Hello Naomi.

Phew, it's too much for one weekend isn't it? And I haven't even mentioned the awesomeness that is Maitland Road Islington, the vintage shopping delights all over town, or Maryville and Baked Uprising

However, I will insist that you allow yourself a moment to check out our wonderful Newcastle Art Gallery (where the beautiful Lucas Grogan mural above features). 

Actually, you can't possibly do all this in one weekend.

You'd best come back again - we haven't even spoken about our beautiful beaches... 

the simple things

For years I've driven my family mad with my calls of "Quick, come and look at this sunset!" where I'd drag them out to the front veranda and point out the various hues. I'd also make them stay and watch while it faded to different shades of fabulous before finally dying away.

So imagine my delight the other day when I heard my 14-year-old dragging her dad from the couch to go check out the sunset.


She then made me bring out my camera so she could snap off a few shots.

My parenting work here is done.

Friday, February 21, 2014

fabulous friday

Phew, it's the end of another busy week, or, the start of a busy weekend! Today I celebrate the end of my first fortnight make in full-time work - and it's been rather fabulous. Huge learning curve - but fab! And flexible! Today I'm starting early and finishing late because I'll be dashing off in the middle of the day to check out the launch of the Newcastle Writer's Festival! Wooo hoooo! I can't wait to see the full program and find out what delights are in store.

Oh, I do know one person that's on a panel - me!

Yes, eep, I'm on a panel, but more to be revealed tomorrow (hint: it may just be about blogging…)

As for the rest of the weekend, tonight I'm off to the Grand Reopening of the Regal Cinema. I love this place and am so happy that a bunch of dedicated people have spent years working on its restoration and revival after it was closed by council many years ago. I have no idea what to expect from the opening night - a lot of tears of joy I expect.

Saturday night I'm off with three friends to an outdoor cinema event - in the Carriage Sheds down near Nobby's Beach. We're going to get Scotties takeaway for a picnic, and take a thermos of Pimms to share. We're going to see Frances Ha, my fave movie of 2013. Can't wait.

Sunday I'm off to the movies (again!) with FOUR of my friends, to The Regal, to see Dallas Buyers Club. FUN!

And, in between, I'll be spending some time catching up with my family and just relaxing. Like in this glorious image from here. How's the serenity?