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?

Monday, February 17, 2014

meal planning monday

Well hello there and aren't you looking all fabulous this Monday morning! (Of course you are, I won't take no for an answer…) Now, I'm heading into week two of my new job - hurrah, and slowly getting myself into a new routine. It's a bit of a busy week, but not as busy as last week so that's a relief.

Here's what's on my meal plan this week:

Monday: netball team announcements on Monday night at 6.30 at the netball courts, and my gal's got ballet lessons. I'll make a green chicken curry when I get home from work at 5:30 and serve it up when we're all done. (Taylor's Green Curry mix is my quick-cheat of choice - plus microwave rice!)

Tuesday: I haven't made chilli con carne in yonks, so I should shouldn't I? Hello slow cooker!

Wednesday: AGM tonight at 7pm so an early dinner of lamb cutlets, mash and greens.

Thursday: pork kebabs tonight. With a coleslaw that includes finely sliced fennel. I had this on Saturday night on my pork belly burger and it was DIVINE!

Friday: tonight I'm going to the opening of the Regal Picture Theatre. So excited. I love this place and was devastated when it closed down. Community dedication over the years has seen it reopen and I'll be sure to support it. It's only 5 mins from my work, so I'll work back a bit and then go. Hubby and daughter off to Maitland to visit his parents.

Saturday: Cinema in the Carriage Sheds tonight when my twitter besties A, C and J. We're seeing Frances Ha (my movie of the year last year) with a picnic that shall include a thermos of Pimms! As for food, hmmmmm, finger food's aways good. Little pancetta and goat cheese tarts perhaps?

Sunday: family roast dinner night - followed by SPC peaches and icecream (naturally). I might do a roast beef tonight and include baby beetroot in the vegies I roast.


ps; that pic is my peaches with almonds and greek yoghurt on 'bircher' breakfast (oats soaked in water for 15 mins!) tasty and easy.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

diving off the edge of the world

As a proud Novocastrian I try to do my best to support local ideas and talent. So, last night I went along with a couple of friends to check out Diving Off The Edge Of The World. 

Having been in production for a few months my anticipation was high, and, as I've seen a few Tantrum  Youth Arts productions I know what these guys are capable of. The setting was perfection, Newcastle Ocean Baths at night. Bliss. We decided that we'd take advantage of the Bath's Kiosk being opened late and have a traditional meal of Pluto Pups for dinner but, sadly, the doors were very closed when we arrived at 6.30. Luckily, my fave place, Scotties, was a mere short walk away so we indulged in a pork belly burger and beetroot scallops (OH MY WORD!)

Probably better than a Pluto Pup just quietly.

The show was a moveable feast. We were given passports at the start of the evening and colour-coded and matched to our hosts. I loved travelling from spot to spot.

PS: how beautiful are the gorgeously coloured Ocean Baths? I love how they're painted in rich heritage colours that highlight their deco-fabulousness.

 Look! Pretty!

These sirens of the sea were haunting. Just beautiful.

This was probably my favourite moment - where we learned about the history of the area in a short film featuring locals who grew up when the giant Map of the World was in the Mariner's Pool. Legend has it that it's still buried under the sand… I love how the map contributed to the wanderlust of kids who swam at Newcastle. What an inspiration. Can we bring it back? Kickstarter perhaps?

These ghost brides made for a haunting sight crossing in front of the baths.

So many kids got involved - starting with workshops during the school holidays. The joy on their faces was wonderful, and the audience were loud in their appreciation.


 I also adored Postcardia where audience members selected a postcard which was read by a performer, while the other players acted out scenes from afar.

It's great to see kids' imaginations set afire in local productions, and to see art and culture taken out of institutions and on-site. Well done to all the peeps involved. You did good.

Diving off the edge of the world is on again next Friday and Saturday night. For tix, click here.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

sweet, sweet saturday

Aaahhhhh, it's the end of what has probably been the busiest week of my life. I've settled in to my new job at the Uni (working in the digital marketing dept which is exciting), did over 40 media interviews re: SPC Sunday (which culminated in the company coming up with a deal so it can stay in Australia - hurrah), guest-tweeting on a new, rotational Twitter account I Am Newcastle and finishing off bits and pieces of other work.

And being a mum and wife.

And netball stuff.


Today I started off with breakfast with a friend, have bookclub this afternoon to discuss The Book Thief, and then tonight I'm off to see THIS!

Tomorrow I'm hosting a meeting with Jazz and Ruth who are my co-presenters at a Blogging Workshop hosted by Hunter Writer's Centre next month. Given it's SPC Sunday I guess I should bake a cake - a peach or apricot cake I imagine.

Have a lovely weekend my lovelies x

image from

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

soooooo sleepy

Hi, how's things?

Couldn't you just climb into this bed and sleep for a couple of days? No? Just me?

I've had a surreal last few days. As I mentioned on Friday, on Thursday night I wrote a couple of Tweets to try to drum up support for SPC, farmers and the community that are at risk of closing.

And it exploded. Really, really exploded. In a good way.

Many of you know me, and know what's happened, but, if not, Google SPC Sunday - it got national news coverage. And, excitingly, it lead to a massive increase in sales for SPC Ardmona. We won't know for a few days, but there were reports of shelves being stripped of these Aussie-made and produced products.

The reach on Twitter alone was over 28 million by this morning. And that's not counting Facebook and Instagram - or the people who just chatted about it over the kitchen table or in the supermarket.

Let's hope it's a start and that the company can stay in Australia for at least another 85 years.

I also started a new job on Monday. And kept having to duck out for radio {and one television} interview. Goodness. It's looking like a fun gig though.

Anyway, I guess the point of this blog, aside from saying 'hi' is to encourage you to alway try to make a difference. From little things big things can grow.

I'm off to bed, sweet dreams x

French word of the day: peche - peach!


Saturday, February 08, 2014

happy birthday to my blog

Oh my goodness, it's my blog's birthday! Eeeeeep! It's now six years old - all grown up.

So, to celebrate, Martha Stewart totally made me this cake.

Well, she didn't, but she would have if she could have… I just borrowed her image.

Wow, six years huh? Who would have thought when I started blogging all those years ago that I'd still be here six years on? Not I. I have loved it though, which is why I keep going, no matter how busy I am. It's for you guys, I love the community I've found through blogging, and the fact that I get to share cool stuff with you. Thanks for coming by.

Here, have a slice of virtual cake!

French word of the day: gateaux - cake!

Friday, February 07, 2014

farmer's best

One of the things I love the most about France is the markets. Base yourself in a town and you can pretty much plot out your week attending a local market each day, a short drive away. At these markets you'll be overwhelmed by the glorious produce. Ripe, heady with delicious scents. And local.

I can't imagine a French person abiding by imported foods at their markets, let alone out of season foods. They live in the moment, buying food each day for their meal - and oh, their tastebuds are richer for it.

I've noticed in Australia we're finally getting the message with our fresh fruits and veg. Now foods are marked with their place of origin so we can avoid the lemons shipped over from the US, or the Mexican garlic, and choose locally-grown.

However, as we've seen in the news, this isn't the case with our canned goods. Our local growers and producers are in trouble due to competing low-priced imported goods, and whole regions are at risk. I've been saddened by this plight, and wondered what I could do. Naturally, choosing to buy locally next time I shop will make a difference - but I think it needs to be bigger.

So, last night on Twitter, a chat came to this: SPC Sunday - this Sunday choose to eat an SPC product and share it online. Using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram people are encouraged to use the hashtag #SPCsunday and share their peaches and ice cream they're having for dessert. Show us the pear crumble you've made. Take a pic of the baked bean jaffle.

It's very popular. From one tweet there are now hundreds who have shared. I also set up a Facebook page for those not on Twitter. It's a small step, but one that we can all take quite easily. I'm looking forward to reliving my childhood memories of tinned fruit and ice cream. I'm not sure if I'll have peaches, pears, two fruits, plums or fruit salad. Perhaps I'll buy them all and see what tickles my fancy.

I hope you'll join in. Our farming regions and all the people whose jobs rely on it need us to offer this sweet bit of support. What will you be eating on SPC Sunday?

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

fill in the blanks

image: Jonathan Adler for Paperless Post

I do not care for blank spaces. In my ideal room, wherever eyes should alight, they should receive delight. So imagine my surprise when I realised that there is a wall in my kitchen that is blank. BLANK. It's not a wall you'd normally notice, which hopefully it explains why it's escaped my concern. In fact, it did have some rather lovely pics on it that migrated to my study when I redecorated. But now I have noticed that it's nude, and it's disturbing me.

I must rectify.

Don't you think I need a wall of travel pics interspersed with lovely text like the one above?

Onto it.

French word of the day: cuisine: kitchen.

Monday, February 03, 2014

meal planning monday

Well, I have a really odd schedule to plan for this week. It's the first full-week back at school, I have to attend two night's worth of netball grading (hold me) and my husband's going down to Thredbo on a cycling trip from Wednesday to Sunday.


So this week is likely to change a fair bit - but we'll start with this shall we?

Monday: grilled chicken breasts on the bbq. I'll marinate them in olive oil, lemon zest and thyme before going to netball grading at 5, then they'll be ready to whack on the grill at 6:30. I'll prepare a couple of salads too.

Tuesday: husband's last night here, he'll want steak and salad, so that is what we shall have.

Wednesday: just me and my gal. I think I'll do a green chicken curry earlier in the day and serve it up when I come home from grading. With steamed rice and wilted greens (I do like to serve my greens separately to the curry, makes for prettier colours).

Thursday: hubby hates couscous, but my gal does like it. I'll serve a couscous salad tonight - with lamb backstrap, roasted vegies and chickpeas.

Friday: my gal and I can go out to dinner!

Saturday: mexican sounds like a good option to me. Grilled chicken burritos perhaps?

Sunday: husband home (I think). So I'll make a roast beef dinner tonight to celebrate.

Whew. You?

French word of the Day: imparfait - imperfect {I do like things that are imperfect, don't you?}

image: from

Sunday, February 02, 2014

so sweet

Oh hai, here I am, raving about my city and how awesome it is again. I don't mean to - it just keeps leaping up into my face being fabulous all the time.

For example, look at this. This is the back courtyard at the Bank Corner café. How gloriously
European and fabulous is it? For a start it's in one of my favourite buildings in Newcastle - a gorgeous corner building that makes me sigh with delight every time I see it. The café itself is also an Art Deco delight. And now there's this - a courtyard that makes me feel like I'm in New York, or Berlin, or
hey, Newcastle!

Speaking of sweet, Hello Naomi is the newest kid on the cupcake block. Residing in my favourite stretch of King Street, a plane-tree lined series of cute terraces right near the Tower Cinemas Hello Naomi serves up the sweetest series of cupcakes and cookies with damned delicious coffee in the cutest little space.

I am a BIG One Penny Black fan. These guys were one of the first to recognise the potential of Newcastle Mall after Renew Newcastle came in and started populating empty storefronts with awesome. After a few years in their little corner space, they've moved down the mall and into a much bigger space that's still not big enough to cater to the crowds who come for the delicious coffee and tasty treats. See this? It's avocado on sourdough, a classic, but oh, with such a twist.

My meal came with a fresh beetroot relish and feta. YUMARAMA! And the great tastes didn't stop there, oh no. It was the little things, such as the drizzle of chilli oil, and sprinklings of herbs, seeds and other yummy additions that made this such a tasty treat.


Now, I'm a coffee drinker, and I don't drink nearly enough tea, but that's probably because I don't hang out often enough in cool tea houses like Madame Mo's. Located on Maitland Road, Islington this is THE spot for a pot of tea to wash down your dumplings.

Oh yes, I said dumplings.

For my tea I chose Fairy Tale - for the name alone. But the flavour was something else. Green tea, rose and marigold make for a magnificently-scented tea - and a surprisingly light, refreshing brew.


Now, I have waxed lyrical about Alice from Baked Uprising for yonks. The things that this woman does with a cake/tart/sweet defy belief. But, just when I thought she couldn't excel herself any more she did. She and her partner Christo have opened Uprising in Maryville.

Oh my.

Now the fabulous sweets are accompanied by bread that dances on your tastebuds - they do the rhumba, the samba, a bit of dance and some classical ballet. Not since Paris have I swooned so hard at a loaf. The crispy crust, the fluffy insides, oh yeah baby. On a weekend morning the line stretches out the door almost to the street, and it's so worth the wait.

My aim is to cycle over so I can justify all the goodies I'll have to stuff myself with. Choosing is ridiculously difficult, everything looks so amazing, and tastes even better.

Newcastle - I love you. And all the awesome people who conspire to keep me eating well.

Friday, January 31, 2014

fabulous friday

Oh my goodness, it's a really lovely day today. Fresh air, blue sky and it's FRIDAY! I've also realised that I've developed quite the fetish for the colour green on these chairs - I need to paint something this weekend in this colour. Or blue. I'm looking at my dining chairs actually.



So, plans for the weekend - do you have them? We're pretty free so far, but I'm sure it'll fill up. There will be swimming. And cycling. And visits to the markets. You?

French word of the day: béatude - bliss

image: MarthaStewartWeddings

Monday, January 27, 2014

meal planning monday

Sorry this is late - it's a public holiday here today and I've been chilling out with my gal, swimming, lolling etc while hubby's been on a loooooooooon bikeride.

But we're now getting back into the swing of things for the new school year - my gal goes back to school on Thursday {and cannot wait!}. Here's what we're eating {at my gal's request}:

Monday: I have some chicken sausages from Aussie Farmers Direct, and I'm planning on cutting them in thirds and roasting them with potatoes, sweet potatoes, capsicum, zucchini and corn cobs. YUM!

Tuesday: homemade pizza.

Wednesday: Mexican fiesta as a back-to-school feast.

Thursday: chicken kebabs and salad.

Friday: duck confit to celebrate the end of school week!

Saturday: salmon on the bbq with salads.

Sunday: roast beef on the bbq with warm potato salad and greens.

Plus we'll be doing lots of back-to-school goods - banana muffins for breakfasts on the go, potato and chorizo pasties, bean salads and whatever else tickles my gal's fancy.

image from

French Word of the Day: école - school!

Friday, January 24, 2014

bill henson - across time

It's very rare that a person is afforded the chance to meet an idol, let alone the opportunity to interview them in a room with their work. For me, that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity occurred with Bill Henson when he came to Newcastle to generously offer his time sharing his wisdom with an enraptured audience. I arrived early which gave me a chance to settle in to a back row seat while Henson spoke to over 150 high school students who'd come to listen to his lecture.

Lucky kids.

He was so generous. He obviously wanted to share his talent and his passion - calling regularly for questions and spending an extraordinary amount of time giving detailed, intelligent answers.

I hope most of them went home inspired. 

I know I did.

Newcastle Art Gallery is currently hosting Across Time, a collection of Henson's work stretching from around 1974 to the early 2000s. Breathtaking works from his Paris Opera Garnier series feature, as well as haunting landscapes with a saturation of colour that makes you sink deep into the frame, pondering what's in the richly-hued depths.

With a Bill Henson display there is one consistency - the walls. They're a special colour that Henson specifically mixed to showcase his work perfectly. It's a deep, dark, velvety brown. Rich, yet unobtrusive. On this background the works pop.

For an artist, it's rare that they have the chance to see their work in a collection once it leaves their hands. It's only when it's on display that they have the opportunity to explore it again, seen through a curator's eyes. I loved watching Bill Henson rediscovering his works in Newcastle, and discussing the cohesion of colour in all these works, as diverse as they are.

Henson says that darkness expands the suggestive potential of a photograph. "The palette is quite subdued in the Opera Garnier works - the light on the audience is the light that's reflected from the stage. And there's uplighting too - which we're not used to - they create an ethereal and unreal atmosphere. When they asked me to do that commission it was interesting as they told me it could be anything - I could design sets, photograph the building anything. But watching the audience gather together with a sense of anticipation, I found that fascinating."

These works are stunning - with a haunting quality that's beautiful and begs for closer inspection. Bill Henson has a very distinctive photographic style, it's considered more painterly than your typical photographs. I asked him how he came upon this style, and he said he didn't set out to develop one - everything's just determined by the individual picture.

He works in groups of photographs, considering each of them as they relate to the other - which is probably how this style is formed - we're seeing a world through his eyes.

That's a true artist, someone who doesn't work thinking about what an audience wants to see - but what he wants to show them. His final piece of advice to the students, and something that's still ringing in my ears, is: "Be true to yourself and don't stop working."

Seeing photographs like these hung in an exhibition is an experience that many deny themselves, "The funny thing about photography is it suffers more than any other artform in that if people think they've seen a reproduction somewhere they think they've seen it," said Henson. "But it's really important to have the experience of seeing the photographs in person - hung with so many others. Seeing an exhibition gives you so much scope for your imagination. Contemplation and deeper examination requires silence and a little bit of time."

Bill Henson: Across Time is on display at Newcastle Art Gallery until February 2 - don't miss it!

And what do you do when you meet an internationally-renowned photographer? You take a selfie with them and pop it on Instagram. Natch.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

a place in paris

Well, in super-dooper exciting news we've booked our accommodation in Paris for a week! Yep, arriving on June 28 we get to spend a whole week in my fave city before driving way down south to The Lot for another week.

This time it's all about location. We really wanted to stay in The Marais, which is probably my favourite place in Paris {aside from Ille St Louis, which is teeny and only has limited accommodation}. We're staying with friends, the friends we regularly holiday with in the Southern Highlands, and we've found a glorious apartment with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, parquet floors, french doors with ironwork lace balconies and fireplaces. So pretty.

We're a mere 500 metres to Place des Vosges {pictured} a place I just adore. And then, in the other direction, 500 metres to Ille St Louis. Now plans just need to be made. On the essentials list:

  • dinner at the Musee de Orsay
  • a romantic dinner for hubby and I
  • a day trip to the champagne region
  • lots of shopping!
  • climbing the Arc de Triomphe
  • a guided tour of the Louvre with my friend G who's an Art Gallery Guide!

French word of the Day: promettre - to promise.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

my imaginary dinner party

For years I've been addicted to the TV show Come Dine With Me. Have you seen it? It's where a group of between four or five strangers each host a dinner party - and are scored in secret. It's been going for YEARS. It's a hugely successful franchise with versions from the UK, Canada and Australia. There are also celebrity versions (currently screening in Aus is our celebrity version, which I'm loving).

Anyways… ever since I started watching it I've been planning my imaginary menu - what I'd cook if I were ever on the show. Because it's been going on for years my menu's displayed a range of fashion trends - from lamb shanks to pork belly. But last night, just after going to bed, I think I've nailed it.

There's a fine line on the show. See, the people who talk themselves up as gourmets tend to be marked down for their arrogance. Similarly if your menu's too simple, or too healthy, you'll also lose points. Entertainment can be a cool way to notch up points, but it can also lose you points if you have a party pooper who hates dressing up in your midst.

You need three courses, some kind of cocktail on arrival - and then, ideally, after dinner entertainment. You need to have obviously spent a lot of time on the food - but don't spend too much time in the kitchen or you'll be accused of not tending to your guests.

Chances are they'll throw a curve ball your way: if you say on your entry form that you're a big meat lover, then a vegetarian will be included in your dinner guest list. You've got to be prepared, and unflustered. So here's my plan.


A 1970s theme.

Who doesn't love the 70s? It'd be easy to pick up some 70s style plates from an op shop or on eBay (not like my floral ones above - they'd be ideal for my Marie Antoinette dinner party!). Guests would have to frock up and wear 70s style clothing to get into the mood, obviously. And the food?

Okay, here's the menu:

Canapes - retro cheese cubes, cabanosi and red and green pickled onions on sticks with tequila sunrise cocktails.

Entree - prawn and avocado cocktails served in martini glasses.

Main - beef bourguignon with mash and greens (fancy French foods were big in the 70s) mushroom stroganoff if I get a vegetarian.

Dessert - creme de mente pie - this is a grasshopper pie with a chocolate biscuit bases and a fluffy green inside made with creme de mente.

For drinks I'd decant decent wine into Ben Ean Moselle or Mateus Rosé bottles. And have a punch bowl on the table too.

Afterwards - disco dancing! Yep, I'd get an instructor in, fire up a mirror ball and have everyone busting a move like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Televisual gold and great fun!

And there you go. That's a good, solid 8 - 10/10 night there.

What would YOU do?

Monday, January 20, 2014

meal planning monday

Oh, I've been such a slack blogger. But last week I had an excuse, I was feeling poorly and could do no more than lay on the couch. And moan. But now I'm back baby and ready to leap into a new week - and back with the daily blogs and daily French Word of the Day. Now, here's what we're eating - healthy stuff!

Monday: green chicken curry with lots of green veg and sticky rice.

Tuesday: steak with beetroot, persian feta and walnut salad - and a green salad.

Wednesday: garlic prawns with a mango salad.

Thursday: cold meatloaf with salad (I love cold meatloaf even more than I love hot meatloaf, so I'll whip one up earlier and put it in the fridge to chill).

Friday: salmon patties with salad.

Saturday: I cannot believe that I don't have anything on tonight - after two weekends in a row in Sydney this is a very good thing. I might make chicken with 40 cloves of garlic tonight.

Sunday: bbq lamb, with chickpea and roasted capsicum salad and green salad.

French word of the day: s'imaginer - to imagine oneself.

image from

Monday, January 13, 2014

meal planning monday

Forget sliders, Jaffles are the new kids on the food block. This sweet modified Kombi was serving Jaffles at the Sydney Festival on the weekend - cuteness! I was too Starvin' Marvin for just a jaffle, a burger was needed after a long day of public transport - but let me assure you that Jaffles will be added to my meal plans - with a wee side salad!

Another busy week in this neck of the woods. Here's what's on the menu:

Tonight: my gal's off to spend the night with her cousins, so it's just hubby and me. Steak on the bbq and salad will do it.

Tuesday: I'm off to see a French film, A Woman In Paris with my friend C, so an early dinner of bbq pork and lemongrass kebabs is called for. Served with udon noodle and veg salad.

Wednesday: my gal's keen to try Sloppy Joes - so who am I to deny her?

Thursday: bbq chicken with a shredded salad.

Friday: salmon on the bbq - with lemon potato salad.

Saturday: I'm off to Sydney again, to see one of my fave authors - David Sedaris. YAY! Opera Bar for dinner I'd imagine.

Sunday: home again. Sunday night Jaffles?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

oh i do like to be beside the seaside

And we're back.

How cute is this almost identical pic to the one I took on our last holiday to Manly. Amazingly, we stayed in the apartment block right next door to the one we stayed in last time so I could replicate the image quite easily. How much the girls have grown! {see my last blog post}.

Manly was gorgeous. We had such a lovely, relaxing holiday - with lots of long strolls along this lovely beach. One of the things that struck me about the Northern Beaches were the fabulously painted surf clubs. They're all in lovely seaside colours that just sing of their heritage and make a fabulous pop of colour in photos. Sadly, all the Newcastle surf clubs have recently been painted - in beige. Blah. Beige doesn't belong at the seaside.

Manly council has also installed filtered water stations so you can sip from a bubbler or fill a water bottle with lovely fresh, cool, filtered water. What a fabulous initiative. Great for tourists and all the locals who walk, run, cycle, skate or scoot along the promenade.

The Sydney Festival is in residence, so we had to peek. We took a ferry to Circular Quay and had a fabulous lunch at Opera Bar. Love this installation of Summer Backyard themes! So cute.

The girls had the best time ever, with loads of twilight walks and cartwheels on the beach. Thanks Manly, you were ace. We'll be coming back.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

a wee beachside break

So, you may have noticed that yesterday's blog post was NOT about meal-planning. And I'll tell you why - it's because today we're headed off for a short holiday with the English rellos.

In 2007 we spent a few days with them in Manly {see pic above} and it was just lovely. So we thought we'd best do it again. I love this shot of the three gals, we'll have to recreate it now they're all so much taller!

We've managed to do plenty of touristy things in Newy while they've been here, so it's a good chance to get away from it all and explore some place a little different. There will be swimming, there will be dining out, and there will be a ferry ride to the mainland.


Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.

French word{s} of the Day: en bord de mer {on bord d mayr} seaside.

Monday, January 06, 2014

girls just wanna have fun

I'm having a very girly night out tonight. One of my friends, who's been living in Canada for, like, EVER is back in Oz. Hurrah. So while she's here we're catching up for drinkies at a lovely bar.

Time for a little fabulous frocking up I'd say…

French Word of the Day: robe - frock!

PS: isn't this image divine? It's from a Calleija Jewellers promotion for pink diamonds. I need pink diamonds. And that frock. And that table setting...

Sunday, January 05, 2014

summery sunday

If there's a flower that reminds me of summer it's petunias. While Frangipani are the obvious symbol, I remember my nana digging up the pansy beds and replacing them with petunias, so, for me, it's petunias all the way.

These purple pretties are currently providing a pop of colour on my back veranda and making me smile every time I walk out the back door.

What is your summer flower?

French word of the Day: floraison - flowering.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

hello beautiful

While planning this year's trip OS, I'm also revisiting our holiday from 2006 - and swooning over some of the beautiful sights we saw. This was my favourite fairytale castle - Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau - isn't it dreamy?

We've decided that after our week in Paris, we're going to drive down to our second French destination in The Lot. That way we can hopefully veer off and take in a few sights en-route.

I do love making dreams a reality.

French Word of the Day: Réve - dream.

Friday, January 03, 2014

holiday. celebrate.

Are you a quick unpacker? Or, when you come back from hols, does your bag sit sulking in a corner for a few days {weeks…}. I used to be the latter, now I'm the former. I love delineating that was now, this is then by the simple act of unpacking.

It's the same when we have people come to stay. We had the English rellos here for a couple of days, and boy, was it fun. There was much swimming in many locations {pool, Bogey Hole, ocean baths}, feasting {again, in many locations, Nobby's Beach, harbourside, back verandah, in the pavilion by the pool, the Beach Hotel…} And so much fun had  - the main one seemed to involve a sheet fort that took up 1/3 of our living room!

By the time our rellos had turned the corner from our street I'd stripped two of their three beds and gathered up beach and bath towels to wash. One hour later the fort was dismantled and back in the linen closet, loads of washing were chugging away and the house was back to normal.

Time for the next adventure {or aventure as they'd say in France!}.

French Word of the Day: lavage - wash!

Thursday, January 02, 2014

whip it good

My gal requested a Blue Velvet cake for her birthday on Monday. It's like a Red Velvet cake, but with blue food colouring instead of the red. I used Nigella's recipe for Red Velvet, and, oh my, it was as delicious as you'd expect. Here it is {complete with wee French sugar teddy bears!}.

And here's the interior. It's more green than blue because of the cocoa, but nobody cared. It was delicious! One thing I discovered was this. I googled a recipe for Buttercream Frosting, which suggested whipping the butter on its own, for around three minutes, until it's white and fluffy. THEN you add the icing sugar a little at a time. Hello - revelation! This is the best icing I've ever made. Normally the icing sugar doesn't integrate very well, and the mix often splits before it's dissolved. This was light, fluffy and delicious {and very blue!}. Happy days.

We had three very content gals; the 14-year-old and her two cousins.

French Word of the Day: glaçage {gla sahj} - icing!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

happy new year

Happy new year lovelies! This is where we spend a big chunk of New Years Eve {day} - having an adventure in the Bogey Hole. This fabulous ocean pool was carved out of rocks by convicts many, many, many years ago and is Newcastle's most wonderful swimming spot. Waves were crashing over the edge - but we decided to brave it and oh, how glad we were.

Afterwards, we went here.

To Nobby's. For lunch.

I know, hideously ugly isn't it?

Then we made our way to the foreshore for a lovely relaxing picnic, followed by fireworks before coming home to champagne and more fireworks on the telly.

This is the life.

Now, onto my 52 new things - both these shots were taken with my new baby - my Nikon digital SLR - I am in love. Secondly, here's my
French Word of the Day: Aventure - adventure. Shouldn't we treat our lives as an adventure? Let's!

Happy 2014 everyone x