Saturday, June 06, 2015

there's a kitty in the house

So, this one's settled into our home quite nicely.

He's very cute, quite naughty, highly-spirited and very, very, very fluffy.

He is also very good at being a couch potato.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Last weekend I just was so tired I nearly didn't go for a bike ride. But then I thought to myself, "You will feel soooooo much better if you do." So I did. And oh, did I feel better. Mainly because I got to see prettiness like this. This view from the end of Nobby's breakwall never ever gets old.

Then I rode past Newcastle's classic deco ocean baths. They're being revamped soon and if anyone paints over these glorious colours and makes them page or steel grey I will be sneaking down there in the middle of the night and repainting them all pretty again.

I love the canoe pool. When the light's just right I swear I can still see the concrete Map of the World in it.

Is there a prettier site than the combination of nature and glorious architecture?

I think not.

This place makes me happy. An adaptation of a heritage building - that peeps are flocking to. Including peeps who have sweet rides like these. Note the dragstar with the sissybar! LOVE!

No riding for me this weekend because we got a new addition to the family!

This little fuzzball's come to live with us. His name's Toulouse (Louis for short) and he's a lilac-mitted ragdoll and quite possibly the most gorgeously affectionate cat I've ever met. He already rules the roost after just two days in our house.

Happy days.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

my bambino

I've always been a 'car person'. Growing up, my dad owned a secondhand car dealership so he was always driving home the sweetest car on the lot. I remember an e-type jag, a 1955 Lincoln Continental Limo and a Mustang as some of the standouts.

His love for vintage cars was passed on to me.

Then my mum married my step-dad who's also a vintage car lover.

I had no hope.

When I met my now-husband he owned a 1961 British Racing Green Morris Minor while I had recently bought a 1964 Vauxhall Kresta. We sold the Kresta (sob - she was grey and white with a red leather interior) as we only needed the one-car for a few years that we lived in Sydney. When I fell pregnant we decided we were best to invest in a car with seat belts, so sadly said bye bye to the Morris. But my love for cute cars didn't abide just because I needed to be sensible for a few years.

I remember when my step-dad told me he'd owned a Fiat Bambino and I was so jealous. These cars are just the cutest thing ever - and instantly transport me back to Italy. So a few years ago when Fiat introduced their 500 range - an updated version of the Bambino - I fell in love.

This week I consummated that love and bought myself a red Fiat 500 pop. Oh, she's a beauty. I take ownership this week (probably with a number of squeals of delight). Hubby's happy as he gets my car - a very well-cared-for four year old.

Daughter's delighted as she'll be learning to drive in this at the end of the year (eep!).

Vroom, vroom!

Photo by arleneantoinettegibbs

Monday, May 11, 2015

meal planning monday (with a view)

This image has absolutely nothing to do with meal-planning, but I visited housetohome this morning and this glorious home leapt out at me into my heart. How IS the serenity?

It's ferociously windy here in Newcastle this morning. So much so that it woke me at 4.20am and I couldn't get back to sleep. Oh to be a sound sleeper.

So why not get up early and write up a meal plan? Why not indeed.

Monday: steak and salad for me and the hubby, fish for my gal's who dabbling in not-eating-much-meat.

Tuesday: spaghetti and meatballs to greet us after netball, I'll make the sauce tonight and get hubby to pop the meatballs in just before we get home from training.

Wednesday: salmon for me and the gal, t-bone steak for hubby. With steamed vegies.

Thursday: crumbed chicken and garlic tenderloins. I saw these on Aussie Farmers and thought they looked interesting. I'll serve them with mash and steamed greens.

Friday: chicken provencale. I made this the other week using rosé instead of white wine and it was a revelation. It's a simple dish of pancetta, onion, garlic, chicken thighs, potato, chicken stock, thyme and wine. So good served with greens.

Saturday: I have some black beans to cook up. Shall do these mexican style on burritos - and add some shredded chicken, guacamole, lettuce and cheese. Yum.

Sunday: It must be getting time for a roast. Probably a seven hour shoulder of lamb I'd say.

Enjoy your week my lovelies x

Saturday, May 02, 2015

and so to bed

I have a lurgy. When you have a lurgy the best thing for it is bed. Don't you think?

Hope you're feeling well and aren't too soggy in all these horrid floods. We were very unscathed this time around. But my heart's with those who weren't.

Okay, I'm back to bed.


Monday, April 20, 2015

meal planning monday

Well, I may have forgotten to write this up last week, but I ain't falling off the bandwagon that easily. While this week features an insane amount of going-out-and-doing-things, I'm still making a meal plan. And here it is:

Monday: I have some lovely marinated lamb rumps that I'm going to pop into a baking tray with lots of vegies: potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and carrots and bake. Then I'll throw in a bag of baby spinach and squeeze lemon over the top for the last five minutes. Perfection.

Tuesday: I have a meeting after work, so I'll come home and make spaghetti bolognaise. Is there an easier dinner?

Wednesday: I have a work thing to go to, and I think husband and daughter will have sister-in-law and her kids here. They should get takeaway. Hopefully I'll grab something en-route from work to the Civic Theatre, or something after the event.

Thursday: Farewell drinks for a friend at a pub in Cooks Hill. I'll pop in for a bevvy, but will make a chicken casserole first - it can bubble away while I'm catching up - then I'll serve it when I get home.

Friday: There's an awesome musician (Steve Smyth) playing at The Cambridge, and heaps of my friends are going. I really, really wanna go too. If so, I'll cook up a quick fish bbq dinner. Served with salad and maybe some potatoes.

Saturday: sister-in-law and her girls fly out super-early home to England. So we're taking them to Sydney to say farewell. We just need to work out how to get six of us to Sydney...

Sunday: Normal night at home. I might make a minestrone soup. There's a chill in the air that's just calling for soup at the moment.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

food memories

You know that thing where you think of a food from your childhood and you just have to have it and then you have it and it's ever-so-good?

This was ever-so-good.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

the idle life

Things I need:

  • a hammock
Yep, that's just about it. I think that, with a hammock, my life would be pretty much complete.

There is nowhere better to lie and read than a hammock. Not a bed, not a couch, not a sunlounge.


So, I shall now endeavour to find said hammock, clean off the side veranda, and install it post-haste.

image from

Saturday, April 11, 2015

stories in our steps

So, this popped into my facebook feed last week: Stories In Our Steps by Tantrum Theatre company. I enjoyed last year's Diving Off The Edge Of The World so thought I'd book tix to see it with my parents. I expected to enjoy it, I didn't expect to be utterly blown away by it.

We started up on the hill overlooking Newcastle Beach where we were welcomed by our Time Travelling Guide. The show opened with the beautiful Awabakal dance and story welcoming us to their country and the night.

Simply stunning.

Then we walked inside James Fletcher Hospital Barracks, an historic site that I'm embarrassed to say I've never visited. It was the home of the Newcastle Industrial School for Girls (wayward girls!) way back when, and we saw their story told powerfully by brilliant young performers.

These performers kept in character magnificently, telling the story of young girls without a chance, without hope and without love.

Then we meandered down to St Phillip's Church, home of Tantrum Theatre, for Warriors Rest. I knew that this performance was choreographed by renowned choreographer Cadi McCarthy so I expected something special - but I didn't expect to see the best dance performance of my life.

The heartbreaking story of five brothers from Newcastle who enlisted in the war is told through words and dance. Oh, is it told through dance.

The choreography for this was brilliantly devised, and magnificently executed by every performer. Not only did they dance beautifully, they all held their character every single second of that performance. This historic church was lined with church pews, and we were mere centimetres from the dance action at times. 

It was stunning, it was powerful, it was utterly beautiful.

This performance deserved a standing ovation, but the performers left the room never to return. Consider this my standing ovation - with additional 'Bravo!'

Interval time saw tables set up for tea at the United Services Club. Mismatched crockery, tiny jam sandwiches, lamingtons and Anzac biscuits were on offer.

I needed that moment to recover from the intensity that was the act before.

We then went next door to The Beach Hotel, which was cute as a box of buttons, with the youngest performers performing their hearts out, on the site of the former hotel run by a circus owner and staffed by his performers. What I wouldn't give to travel back in time for a bevvy there...

Then we wandered down to The Lock Up for The Star and the Slaughter where we relived the night of the infamous Star Hotel riot.

Now, my respect for these young performers was already pretty huge, but imagine walking in to the old cells to see 'drunken' youths slouched insolently against walls, or sprawled over tables. Amazing performance art.

Then the band played, and the dancing began, before the police came to call 'lights out' and the riot began. I've always thought that the Star Hotel riot was just a bunch of drunks going out of control, but this performance really gave historical context - in a spectacular fashion.

Then the band played a final encore of Star and the Slaughter by Heroes which needs an entirely new book of superlatives for me to do it justice.

The tour ended in Pacific Park with wee time travellers interviewing each other about the future. It was uplifting and a sweet way to end the show.

Our fabulous guide bid us goodnight, and we walked our way up the hill home.

If you're in Newcastle you must see this. Here's a link to the show. Tickets are insanely cheap and the performances are world-class. Seriously, I'd go again just for the dance alone.

Bravo Tantrum Theatre company - you do Newcastle proud.

Friday, April 10, 2015

life's a beach

The thing I love most about the ocean is how the hues change with the minutes that tick away. Early in the morning it's gloriously vivid with the brightness reaching a peak around midday.

But my personal favourite time is just on dusk.

When it's an icy blue, with iced shades of mauve and pink and silver accents.

Nowhere is it more glorious than at Merewether baths. I'm sorry, but it's not.

How's the serenity - I ask you.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

new order

It's the little things in life that bring me joy. For years I've stared at the cutlery organiser in my kitchen and thought "I really need to replace that". It was old, and starting to do that weird thing where it looks dirty but it's just discoloured.

So, at Aldi the other day, in the magical middle aisle, was one single solitary adjustable timber cutlery organiser.

I brought it home, ripped out the other one, and popped this one in.

At first I was sad as my knives didn't fit in their traditional spot on the upper right-hand-side.

But then I came up with a new idea - butter knives and steak knives down the bottom and teaspoons up top. I KNOW!

Now, every time I open my drawer I smile. I see my pretty pink and green Cath Kidston cutlery, and my Laguiole steak knives from Monoprix in Paris and feel that all is right in the world.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

cycle city

I don't cycle anywhere near often enough at the moment. Which is terrible - because look at what I get to look at on my rides.

Newcastle's working harbour is just crazy-pretty. And when I see a tug choof in to view - oh my. One day I was riding along and a man was kayaking up the river beside me. Then I noticed a school of dolphin were keeping him company, rising and falling along with his paddles. Can you imagine a more magical moment? Seriously, I reckon the serenity for that dude would last pretty much forever.

Luckily I have my mum and step-dad up this week - and the week off work! So guess how many rides I'll be taking (hint: it'll be at least one per day).

More reading, more riding, more writing - that's what I need to do with my life and the moment.

And more time with friends and family.

Last night I went to the movies with my dear friends, and we saw a rather lovely film What We Did On Our Holidays. It was a hoot - and a howl (in that I laughed and cried a lot). After we all dried our tears we went out for some vietnamese and had quite a good natter and more giggles.

Ahhhh friendship. How important is it? (Very).

Monday, April 06, 2015

a long, long weekend

Oh, I do love a long, long weekend. When working full-time you totally appreciate the extra time off don't you? We've spent the last couple of days entertaining the English rellos - sister-in-law, brother-in-law and their two gals. It's been a delight. While it rained horrendously, we still got to do some fun stuff. We had a pizza dinner by the beach, went to the movies (yes all of us) to see Cinderella (and took the other 13-year-old niece!) and then, on Easter Sunday, we had an egg hunt for all the cousins (the younger four) and then a bbq brunch for parents and in-laws (11 in total).

It turned into one of those lazy days where we drank tea and coffee and chatted, while the girls all played. Once mostly everyone left, we went down to Merewether Baths with the english rellos and went for a swim on sunset. Divine. It was spectacularly beautiful.

Life's too short not to spend time with family and those you love isn't it?

Oh, I also got to make a hot cross bun bread and butter pudding on saturday night to use up excess buns. Oh my they're good - it's like the ultimate bread and butter pudding! Sliced from the top into four, buttered then spread with apricot jam and with a rich vanilla custard. Perfection.

Today shall involve lolling around the house and getting the guest room prepared for my parents who are heading back to our place tomorrow. Tonight I'm off to the movie with my gal pals - and for a spot to eat afterwards. How good is life?

Monday, March 30, 2015

meal planning monday

Well look, if I'm back to blogging I really should do it properly - and have a meal planning post. It's a funny old week this week, but that's no reason not to have a plan. Here's mine.

Monday: we're off to my in-laws as the English relatives have flown out. Hurrah! We'll be catching up over a spot of dinner (cooked by my mil - double hurrah).

Tuesday: my mum and step-dad are having a one-night sleepover on their way up to a Kombi long-weekend up north somewhere. So I'll make carrot and haloumi fritters with a spinach and walnut salad.

Wednesday: gal's ballet class. When she gets home I'm going to cook up some chicken tenderloins and serve them on a salad.

Thursday: I bought these yummy lamb rumps from Aussie Farmers. I'll do them in a tray bake with potato, sweet potato and pumpkin then throw in baby spinach at the end.

Friday: hmmm, I might do salmon cakes for dinner tonight. With a lemon potato salad.

Saturday: I'm going to make the most of this lovely early autumn weather and cook as many bbqs as I can. Not sure what I'll make - perhaps steak. With a big apple and spinach salad (I am obsessed with baby spinach at the moment - it's my fave leaf).

Sunday: long weekend sunday!!!! Oh my word! So excited about this concept I might just have champagne for dinner. But that won't suit everyone. So how about I do a roast chicken on the bbq with a warm lentil salad?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

hello old friends

Oh my goodness, where does time go?

If you'd asked me recently when I'd last blogged I would've said, "Oh, a few weeks ago...." But January? Eep! Back to putting 'me' first (and that includes this blog!)

So, I shan't be filling you in on everything I've been doing recently - ain't nobody got time for that!

I know I bang on about Newcastle being spectacularly beautiful - but hello! It IS spectacularly beautiful. A few weekends ago I trekked up this hill to Nobby's lighthouse with some friends to see Elsewhere - a music festival with a difference.

The difference was that it was held in what must be the most spectacular venue in, well look, I'm gonna say the world.

Come on. Check it out!

The performances were sublime, especially Paul Dempsey and my new love Steve Smyth who has the voice of an angel and a devilish grin. He also plays his guitar so hard the strings pop.

Then it was off to this fab venue, Newcastle City Hall, for the Newcastle Writers Festival. Three days of fabulousness. My head's still exploding with ideas. Don't ask me what my favourite session is - I don't think I could tell you (although I think it's the session on Biography with Erik Jenson and David Leser). The program was chockers with interesting people and topics. Can't wait till next year!

I moderated a fab panel on self-publishing with these guys. Now, I've interviewed many people over the years, but these three were just so wonderful. So honest and open with their answers it was brilliant. We stuffed a lot into that hour, but could've talked all night. Greg Field, Francesca Suters and Nim Gholkar are the authors - look them up!

Now, another Novocastrian blogger, A Curious Novocastrian, Instagrammed a fabulous piece of art over the writer's festival weekend and despite having spent HOURS in City Hall I'd never seen it. Well, how on earth I missed something so enormous and so gorgeous is beyond me but here it is.

Friday night (yep, I'm up to this weekend!) I went to the opening of a freshly curated exhibition at The Lock Up. I love The Lock Up. It's such a unique space. Even to this day it freaks me out, and I can't spend more than a minute or two in one of the old cells without feeling claustrophobic - but it's a space that challenges your ideas.

Look at what was happening in the old exercise yard! Music, critters stuck to the roof and lots of people chatting over a glass of wine. Bliss.

Hope all's well in your world. See you again really soon x

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