Monday, January 26, 2015

meal planning monday

How GOOD are long weekends? (Answer: very).

But now, it's back to reality, and, for my gal, school this week. Eeep! Where did those school holidays go? Here's what we're eating this week.

monday: I'll add it, even though we've eaten it. I cooked a marinated lamb shoulder on the bbq, threw on a few slices of haloumi, and a wrap each (till they were golden, yet also softened). Then I spread the wraps with humous, threw on some baby spinach, sliced up the lamb and added it, along with the haloumi, to the wraps. Yum.

tuesday: my husband's taking my father-in-law to see the Socceroos in the semi final IN NEWCASTLE! I am so jealous, but I am a good wife, and good daughter-in-law and knew they'd have a lovely time together so I'll just watch the game on telly. I'll make spaghetti bolognaise. I also have to cook up a little something for a bake-off competition at work. I have a WINNING recipe planned. Shall share later in the week. (It is SO good!)

wednesday: paella. Man, I feel like paella.

thursday: salmon on the bbq, with a green salad.

friday: takeaway tonight. I'll be exhaustipated after a four day working week!

saturday: I'm off to Sydney with friends to see Neil Gaiman - we'll be grabbing a bite to eat at Angel Place before the show.

sunday: roast pork tonight. With salads. Apple and fennel would be nice.


Monday, January 19, 2015

meal planning monday

I would very much like to dine at this setting. Sure, my dining partner's head *may* be somewhat obscured by that absolutely enormous floral arrangement - but pretty!

So, how's you January going? Super-fast? MINE TOO!

I just had a lovely romantic weekend. Hubby and I went down to Sydney, stayed in a five star hotel, then went to So Frenchy So Chic at St John's College at Sydney Uni. We sat in the shade of the majestic sandstone building and sipped champagne and nibbled on crepes. Oh, it was divine. And all to the accompaniment of French songs. Our fave, Emilie Simon played and she was utterly enchanting. Love a lovely day (and night out).

So, here's this week, my gal's last full week of school holidays before heading into year 10! (Where did that time go, I ask you!)

monday: the gal's off to her grandparents for a sleepover. I'm dropping her, and staying for dinner (hurrah!)

tuesday: hubby will be collecting the gal early, and bringing her home. She'll have had her braces tightened the day before, so I'll treat her to sausages on soft white hotdog buns.

wednesday: I have some lovely steaks. I'm going to grill them lightly then slice them thinly to make a thai beef salad for tonight's dinner. YUM!

thursday: poached chicken and mango salad tonight.

friday: we're off to Sydney again! Taking the gal and one of her pals to see a band called The Vamps. I'm the designated adult so expect bemused tweets throughout the night if you follow me on twitter. We're staying at the Bondi Hotel - might as well make the most of it! Dinner somewhere in Bondi, nice and early before heading off to the Hordern Pavillion.

saturday: bbq. Garlic prawns, chorizo and potato salad yes? Yes.

sunday: dinner at the beach. Either pizza (yes, probably pizza) or pizza :)

And that's my week. Pretty darned busy, but kinda healthy don't you think? (well, aside from the sausage - but everything in moderation...)

image from

Monday, January 05, 2015

meal planning monday

Well, first day back at work after two weeks off. I shall be easing back into it. But there's no rest for the planning wicked! So here's what we'll be eating.

monday: bbq. I shall stretch the holiday feeling by firing up the barbie tonight. We'll have pork cutlets brushed with peach jam (spiked with a little ginger!) and cooked over the grill. It will be served with a green salad.

tuesday: another bbq? Oh why not? Steaks tonight. With a spinach and beetroot salad.

wednesday: I'll be exhaustipated after three days of labour after so many of rest. So we'll have spaghetti bolognaise for dinner.

thursday: I'm going out with friends for dinner. Husband and daughter can grill up some chicken breast kebabs. And have them with a brown rice salad strewn with diced, colourful vegies.

friday: bbq lamb rump. With a spinach, feta and walnut salad.

saturday: prawns on the bbq. Chilli and garlic marinade. Lots of salad.

sunday: another bbq! Caramelised chicken thighs tonight. With a soba noodle salad.

And that'll do.

ps: how lovely and floral is this pic from (answer: very)

Sunday, January 04, 2015

fifteen fab things

So, for the last two years I've done a 52 new things list for the new year. Lofty - and generally unattainable. So, for 2015 I'm going for fifteen fab things. I want to make the year a little more fabulous. And here's how:

1. Find, frame and hang some vintage French advertising posters. This one above would be just fab in my bedroom! Then I can surround them with suitable travel pics.

2. Enrol in French for Travellers class. I can do this!

3. Learn to play my new ukelele! I have three friends to do this one with.

4. Take lunch to work at least three days out of the five. This'll save money and hopefully improve my health.

5. Do more fun stuff with my husband and daughter - we've already got a few things planned, time to do some more. Ooooh, I want to learn how to crochet - I can do THAT with my gal!

6. Renovate our bathroom!

7. Plan our next holiday. Go on more short-trips such as long-weekends!

8. Broaden my musical horizons. Listen to more music, see more live music, dance more.

9. Find a fitness/dance class and stick to it.

10. Ride my bike to work one day!

11. Keep on decluttering the house.

12. Back up all my computer stuff.

13. Blog one to two times per week. And take heaps of photos so I've got images for said blog.

14. Excel at my work.

15. Stop sweating the small stuff. I got through Christmas without really stressing, so that'll be my aim for the rest of the year. Do what I can - and don't worry about what others are (or are not) doing.

And that's it!

How about you?

Friday, January 02, 2015

happy new year

And with that - we have 2015. Another year hey? What are you going to do to make yours better? I've just had the most glorious two weeks off work. Spent most of it just lolling around and relaxing - it's been perfect. I've also done my best to get out there on my bike every day - which has been just brilliant. I saw in the new year the way I intend to continue it - frocked up and somewhere fabulous.

I went to the Hendricks Pop Up Bar at The Landing at Honeysuckle with my friends C and J and we had a blast. We found the perfect table right in the line of the Fireworks, sipped cocktails and sparkling wine and chatted away.

Seriously, there was not a better view of the fireworks. But yes, there are many, many, many better photographs of them.

I've spent a bit of time here, at the revamped Merewether baths. Yesterday we had my in-laws down for new year's lunch, then I had a wee migraine lie down afterwards (totally unrelated!). When I woke I felt super-groggy from the drugs, so went for a walk down to the baths to clear my head.

And oh, did it! The sun was setting and casting the most glorious glow. I kept pinching myself at how lucky I am to live here.

We also had my gal's (fifteenth!!) birthday just before the end of last year. She got this VERY BIG pink flamingo for the pool. Every time I go into the living room or kitchen I can feel its eye on me!

Today two of my dearest friends, from uni and till today, are popping over. They're up from Melbourne and Sydney so we need to catch up. Then, tonight, I'm off to the Regal Cinema where they're screening cult classic The Big Lebowski - complete with bowling in the aisles and dude food!

Too much fun. You've gotta have it don't you?

Happy new year x

Sunday, December 28, 2014

colour my world

Pretty colours make the world a better place don't you think? When I was in Portobello Road earlier this year I couldn't help but exclaim in delight at the pretty rows of colourful homes. Imagine these pretties when the wisteria's out in flower!

I know house colours are cyclical, and fashionable, so I can't wait till pastels are back in style again. I do love a pretty colour with a crisp white accompaniment. (disclaimer: yes, my house is pale grey - with a white trim - but it's been so for over 15 years now and it suits it so!)

In Newcastle I was growing increasingly despondent at the number of dark, prison-grey buildings that were popping up - usually without an accessorising white (sometimes JUST the dark grey, othertimes a slightly lighter grey) or beige. Blahful beige. Not soothing beige, just meh.

So imagine my delight yesterday when I saw this glorious building painted up in the prettiest blue!

Even against a grey sky it looks so glorious. (And yes, that's a free ad for you local real estate agent - I have no energy for cropping this iphone shot).

Isn't it lovely to see the heritage features picked out? Imagine if all our beautiful buildings were painted with such thought.

Now, when I shared this on Instagram one of my friends (who happens to have started the Lost Newcastle page) told me this used to be the Blue Peter Hotel. So it's a pretty colour WITH a nod to history. Even BETTER!

Thank you owner of this building - can others in Newcastle please follow your lead?

Monday, December 22, 2014

happy holidays

And it's Christmas holiday time.


I'm off work from now until January 5 and let me tell you that I'll be enjoying every single second.

I'm still not *quite* prepared for Chrissy - have to get the gal a couple more Chrissy pressies (and more for her birthday five days after). But I'm feeling pretty darned calm about it all.

After working full-time for the past year, I'm so looking forward to this break. I intend on cycling and swimming every day, spending quality time with my wee family and getting the odd thing done.

Including wrapping pressies - there are now a few under our tree, but not enough.

Oh, and I'm now into year three of shopping locally for Christmas and it's going really well. There have been the odd pressie I couldn't find and had to buy online, but the vast majority were available from indie retailers on Darby Street. So pleasant wandering down a tree-lined street to shop rather than listening to tinny carols in a crowded shopping centre.

Have a lovely, lovely Christmas everyone.

Monday, December 08, 2014

meal planning monday

Well, it's been a while between meal planning hasn't it? I've had my mum and step-dad up for 10 days so there was a lot of vego and on-the-hop cooking. But I'm trying to get myself as prepared as humanly possibly before Christmas (eep!) So here's what's on the menu this week.

monday: spaghetti and meatballs. I love this dish.

tuesday: spanish roasted chicken with chorizo and potato. With a green salad.

wednesday: beef stirfry with cashew nuts and hokkein noodles.

thursday: roasted chicken and veg and salad.

friday:  we're heading to A Very Darby Christmas on Darby Street so we'll grab dinner on Darby!

saturday: salmon on the bbq with roast potato salad and greens. Then I'm off to NewyTwistmas - our twitter party which coincides very nicely with an 80s night at the Great Northern. Hello dancing the night away!

sunday: roast beef on the bbq with a green salad (I hope I can buy watercress - I have a craving!)


Sunday, December 07, 2014

christmas in newcastle

 On our way to my gal's ballet performance the other night we couldn't help but notice many pops of colour in Civic Park. And look! Yarn-bombing Christmas decorations! Aren't they glorious?

And look at this - knitted and crocheted coral reefs! In the fountain at Civic Park (with the glorious Baptist Tabernacle in the background.

I do believe that the Civic Theatre is one of my favourite places in Newcastle. What a gorgeous place for my gal's ballet concert.

There was also a glorious event in Civic Park for the launch of Patricia Piccinini's Skywhale. The vendors from The Olive Tree Markets brought food and drink vans along and thousands flocked to see the spectacle. And what a spectacle!

We found the perfect spot to watch her inflation - over the Civic Fountain - it made for utterly glorious photographs against the twilight sky.

The skywhale requires perfect conditions for flight. No rain, and barely any wind. We had a still breeze. She rose, she hovered, she turned, and she collapsed. What a piece of performance art.

Just like the whales that live in our oceans, Skywhale responds to her environment.

It's a night I'll never forget.

My mum, stepdad and daughter all went on a Christmas wander in Newcastle East. Where we had the chance to take this gorgeous Chrissy Card. Isn't it brilliant? It's the work of a local artist.

The walk started here, at the magnificent old Post Office (please let it be restored soon!)

Loving these buntings Andrew Finnie is such a talented artist.

We looked in gaily decorated windows and just took in the atmosphere of the night. I love this city so much.

Look at how magnificently the plane trees frame the views of all our diverse architecture.

Oh, and these were the Christmas Cocktails I prepared to sip while we put up the Christmas Tree. Frozen rasberries, rose syrup and French sparkling. So delish!

Speaking of that fabulous architecture framed by plane trees... This was our view as we arrived at Subo for our 13th wedding anniversary dinner. Oh my, it was utterly divine. Subo totally deserves the accolade of Newcastle's best restaurant.

How's December treating you?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

hit the bricks 2014 part one

Now look, I don't mean to brag, but I just do happen to live in the most glorious city in Australia. This morning, before the heat set in, I decided to cycle around Cooks Hill and Newcastle West to check out a few of the #HitTheBricks artworks from the other weekend.

Allow me to open with my favourite - above.

Isn't it just absolutely GLORIOUS?

And a five minute bike ride from my house.

This one on Darby Street's a corker. As you know, I'm a sucker for a carousel - particularly one with horsies - and this just looks like an homage to the most vivid. What's not to love?

And oh hey, look what's above my favourite shop! Love this. As you come up Darby Street this wise face greets you. He sees all.

Last year Adnate painted my favourite Hit The Bricks street art - the Aboriginal boy who looks up from Wickham over the harbour. One year on and it still hasn't lost its power or majesty. How could Adnate compete with that? Well, with the largest of the works - check this out - combined with Numskull on the Brutalist car park in Newcastle West. Pretty sick huh?

Love these expressions. Kind of mimic mine on seeing art on such a grand scale.

This is utterly fabulous. The vivid pops of colour against the black really rock. What a view from The Edwards across the road in Parry Street.

This here's a do-over and, to be honest, I'm not sure it's complete. It was this funny little cartoony thing on the side of Earp Brothers and as soon as I saw it I thought "Ooooh, the Audi Centre aren't going to like that much orange and yellow next to their swishy building." And sure enough, the next day it was gone - with this appearing over the top. It's by the same artist as the one above.

I love initiatives like this in Newcastle and what I love the most is that they make cycling in Newy even more awesome. This took me about 45 minutes to ride around, and that includes photography, stopping for a chat, and ooooh and aaaahhh time.

For more sites, head to Look Hear.

And stay tuned, my mum and step-dad are up next weekend. We'll be doing a ride to check out ALL the sites. Oh, and watching SKYWHALE on Friday night in Civic Park.

I love you Newcastle.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

the happy house list update

We've slowly been making our way through the Happy House List, the checklist I created with a whole new name to make me feel better about having a 500km long to-do list. I made sure I put on some easy-peasy quick-fixes. Like this one above. We bought this planter from a lovely little place in Singleton a few years ago. Sometimes I pop annuals such as violas in it - but it'd been bare since before we went OS. That made me sad.

So I bought these two lovely native violets that may well be the perfect pairing for the plant holder - look at the way the tendrils are starting to trail.


I also planted out the herbs in the window box, and replanted the pink and red geraniums on the side living room windows.


I finally bought a new doormat too. I was searching for the ideal doormat, which either only existed in my dreams or cost around $100. So, no. But at Bunnings the other day I found a simple, black coir doormat. Just right. And only around $20! Score! Love a cheap, quick fix.

My gal's in the middle of exams, and I'm in the middle of a whirlwind couple of weeks with work. This afternoon, after getting the house in order and all the washing done - I'm off on a long, lovely bike ride. Before making a big dish of paella for dinner.

I love weekends.

Please sir, can we have another?

How's things with you?

Sunday, November 09, 2014

hello old friends...

Goodness, gracious me - time flies when you're, well, working full-time really. I go to blog, then realise that I've got no pics. Then I took some pics, and needed to sync them to my computer. Then I synced them, and oh, weird things happened (backed-up my daughter's phone info onto MY phone - eep!)

But luckily I went to the very, very lovely JuteLove pop-up florist on Darby Street yesterday and came home with armfulls of flowers to photograph. Worthy of uploading and blogging about. Would you LOOK at these roses? Have you EVER? And how pretty are they when combined with peonies. VERY!

My house is overflowing with prettiness today. There are these flowers, and then there's another bunch of pale pink peonies on the dining table, plus the deep pinky-red stocks my gal requested for her room. Good taste that child of mine.

I think that fresh flowers in the house are the very best investment a person can make. Don't you?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

clearing my mind

How's the serenity?

Do you have a spot in your home that just sighs with serenity? I do, well, when the house is tidy...

Today's aim is to reveal them, to have them looking super-spesh. So we'll keep ploughing through our Happy Home List of things that we just really need to do. Today's plan is to get the living room and bedroom in tip-top shape, and to move the planter boxes I re-planted with geraniums the weekend before last back to their spot on the living room window sills. Might even clean the windows in the living room so the view is even more stunning.


Monday, October 13, 2014

meal planning monday

Bags the comfy chair! Excuse me, but why have I never thought about having a cozy couch as a banquette in my dining room? What is even wrong with me? I swear, if I can find one the right height I am just going for it.

Also, need to add painting my chairs in gloss pastels to my Happy House List. And tick it off.

It's been a few weeks, and lots of scrappy meals without meal planning. So I'm back into it.

Here we go:

Monday: gal child is back at ballet then home to study for a math test the next night. I'm going to make a salad of flattened, grilled chicken breasts (marinated in garlic, oregano and lemon zest), grilled proscuitto, boiled eggs and baby cos lettuce. So good.

Tuesday: to reward gal child for doing her exam I shall make spaghetti and meatballs. It's funny, some meals she complains we have ALL THE TIME if I serve them more than once a month, others, like this, I reckon I could serve daily.

Wednesday: I'm just going to do a bbq tonight. I've ordered some meat from Aussie Farmers so I'll grill it and serve it with a salad.

Thursday: pork cutlets, potato cakes and greens.

Friday: we are going to go out for dinner as a family. Perhaps to Scotties to have a picnic under the palms. I think that's a plan, Stan.

Saturday: first weekend with nothing planned in yonks. We might do some planting and some painting. So a bbq will be in order. Or paella. I'll see what I feel like.

Sunday: roast on the bbq. Perhaps lamb shoulder. With a greek-style-salad.

image from

Sunday, October 12, 2014

cycle newcastle

My new aim is to convince people how easy, and wonderful, it is to cycle around our city. It really is the best way to see the place.

I've yet to start timing it, but I am quite positive that it is quicker and way cheaper to ride into the city than drive. Parking costs in Newcastle are getting crazy-expensive - and who wants more cars in a city? (Not this little black duck!)

A few weeks ago I went on the Spring Fling vintage bike ride and it was a joy to ride en-masse with other cyclists. Newcastle's pretty flat, with some lovely wide streets for cycling - and some dedicated cycle-walking paths (nowhere near enough, but hey, we can lobby for more).

There's so much you don't see if you don't ride. For example, look at the lovely harbourside poetry I snapped last weekend out at Nobbys breakwall. Stunning.

Riding also gives you time to gaze adoringly at our historic architecture - particularly through Cooks Hill and the East End. What's not to love?

Because I live in an area annoyingly unserviced by Public Transport, my aim is to cycle as much as I possibly can. I've even worked out a way to get to work - cycle to Civic Station, then catch the train to uni and back again! Just in time for Ride2Work day on Wednesday October 22. There'll be a free breakfast at Wheeler Place in Newcastle from 7am - 9am - and there's one at the uni too (for Ride2Uni Day!) Hurrah!

Where will you #CycleNewcastle this week?

Monday, September 15, 2014

meal planning monday

image from here

How on earth is it already Monday? And Spring! Eep. This year is flying by ridiculously quickly. However, I do find that planning helps my week go by more smoothly. So here's this week's plan.

Monday: I bought two of the most enormous t-bone steaks you ever have seen from Aussie Farmers. Best grill them on the bbq with lots of garlic and black pepper. Hubby can have one, and my gal and I will share the other. We'll have them with a salad - baby spinach, orange, walnut and feta.

Tuesday: I do believe that my gal would eat chicken every meal if I'd let her. I won't let her, but she can have it tonight. Chicken breasts butterflied, flattened and marinated in lemon, olive oil and fresh thyme grilled on the bbq. Served with a green salad.

Wednesday: mid-week lazy meal of spaghetti bolognaise.

Thursday: salmon fillets on the bqq with a lemon potato salad and a green salad.

Friday: more steak. This time it's porterhouse. On the bbq. With a beetroot, baby spinach and walnut salad.

Saturday: chicken, basil and lemon pasta.

Sunday: bbq leg of lamb with salads.

And that's all folks!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

vintage ride: spring fling

I got up terribly, terribly early this morning {well, for a Sunday} and frocked up in my new Laura Ashley floral frock. Here's a bit of it.

And here's a wee bit more. It is an explosion of flowers, and even has some pretty blue birds on it. I heart it so. It just had to make its debut at the Vintage Bike Ride's Spring Fling.

I left home at 8am and pedalled my way into the park at Nobbys where there were so many glorious bikes - both serious vintage and awesomely modern. And people dressed up SO FINE! {Lads, we need to bring back suspenders - they look so spiffy!}.

I wish I'd thought to decorate my basket with flowers. I did have my pale pink and cream Laura Ashley blanket in there, to coordinate with a vintage pale pink handbag {which did have a flower on it!}

A bike, with a suitcase, with a globe. How often do you see that? {I'm thinking never, well apart from today}. Cool huh?

Because it's Bike Week there was a free breakfast and the guys from Hadley's Bikes were there to give our bikes a bit of a go-over. I bought my bike from these guys, but haven't had it serviced in its lifetime. But now it's running like a dream thanks to Mr Lycra here. Thank you! PS: see that guy next in line? Best speaking voice, spiffy outfit and beautiful Bianchi cycle.

Love this man's outfit, bike, helmet and puppy. There were so many things to look and oooooh at today.

I was terrible at taking photos on today's ride. But go over to Polka Dots and Frocks later - she had a real camera and took about a gazzilion photos. And check out Bicycles In Newcastle to see some of the glorious rides from today - I am kicking myself that I didn't get a photo of Vicki's awesomely elegant outfit. She looked stunning.

Check out the Vintage Tweed Ride's Facebook page for more pics, and news.

Oh, and just LOOK at this gloriously delightful video that Tom made. Isn't is just joyous?

What a glorious way to spend a Sunday!

Monday, September 01, 2014

meal planning monday

Hurrah, it's the first day of spring!!!! I am so excited. This means bbqs for dinner, salads and easy meals all round. So to celebrate, here's a fantabulous floral arrangement from Petersham Nurseries from my holiday. Le sigh.

Now, for food.

Monday: gal's ballet, I'll shop before picking her up. Tonight's dinner will be bbq chicken breasts (flattened, marinated in garlic, lemon and olive oil) and salad.

Tuesday: chicken chipolata bake - throw halved kipfler potatoes, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin, red onion in a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil and strew with fresh thyme. Pop in a 180 degree oven for 25 mins. Then throw in some chicken chipolata sausages (they make really tasty ones at Aussie Farmers Direct) then pop them back in for 15 mins, or until the sausages are browned and cooked. Serve with a crisp green salad.

Wednesday: for hump day it's an easy dinner night. Spaghetti bolognaise.

Thursday: I ordered some lamb rumps from Aussie Farmers, I'll cook them on the bbq then slice them thinly and serve them with a baby spinach, marinated feta and walnut salad.

Friday: my gal has a school dance, so she'll want a light, early dinner. Depends on if she has a friend over, but I think we'll go for homemade pizza.

Saturday: we'll be getting stuff done from the Happy House List, so we'll need to be rewarded with a lovely bbq dinner. Butterflied leg of lamb perhaps? Or butterflied chicken? With salads.

Sunday: chicken with 40 cloves of garlic with salad.

And that's it!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

dreaming of decorating

We've been spending the day getting the house in order as we're hosting eight fifteen-year-olds for a sleepover tonight. Yes, eight. Eep. In order to do so, we've dedicated the entire guest room to mattresses (and kind of expecting a serious lack of sleep during the night).

Doing this has made me get an itching for redecorating. I think I'm a little bit in love with this shade of blue - and this awesome little shelvy thing spotted at - cute huh?

We're doing pretty well with our Happy House List. Ticking off a little something every weekend.

Monday, August 25, 2014

meal planning monday

Hey, look at me with three blog posts IN A ROW {well, days of posting, you know…} I'm in a super-organised mood at the moment. Spring's in the air and I'm determined to end the year on a high. So I'm back on the meal-planning mode this week.

Monday: caramelised chilli chicken thighs with glass noodles and greens.

Tuesday: beef burgers and lemon slaw.

Wednesday: chicken chipolatas, greens and mash.

Thursday: mexican tonight - quesadilla perhaps?

Friday: dukkah-crusted salmon, lemon potatoes and greens.

Saturday: we're off to my in-laws for dinner. There is a very good chance we'll have roast. :)

Sunday: I might have to fire up the bbq to get in the mood for summer. If it's really summery I'll do garlic prawns with a salad, if not, steak with a nod to France (simply seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper and grilled over the flames. Yum.)