Sunday, August 30, 2015

bedroom blues


We need to repaint our bedroom. We've been here for nearly 15 years (!!) which shows how good the previous paint job was. But we've now bought a new bed (fabulous antique french style - naturellement) and we're getting shutters in the bay windows, so it's time to paint.

I'm thinking duck egg blue for the walls. Is there a more relaxing colour than blue? (well, potentially the sage green our walls are painted at the mo'). With the white bed, and the new pale silvery grey and white Laura Ashely bedspread I've just bought it'll be blissful. We'll also finally getting around to painting our wall of wardrobes, which currently look a bit "Italian Grandparent" with their dark wood, but shall be French chic when chalk painted in pale grey with white details.

We've got eight weeks from when we order the shutters to when they arrive, so we'll have to get cracking next weekend. It's going to be a laboured process - but so worth it once it's finished.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

newcastle by night

The only thing I love more than looking up in my city, is looking up in my city at night. The hues are always more intense, the details on the historic buildings more sharply etched and highlighted.

After dinner at Napoli Centrale the other night (best pizza outside of Italy - I swear) we had some time to kill before the moving screening. So we took a meander through Newcastle Mall.

This is a place I need to get to now that Sprout look after the food. I hear Taco Tuesdays are a BARGAIN.

Newcastle's historic East End is so richly historic. I wish we appreciated it as much as similar cities in Paris, London, Italy, Spain and all of Europe.

There's a new vibe busting out. A more creative one, as I discovered the following night at Catapult Dance down in Newcastle's West End. A stunning choreographed dance with a film projected on the wall was followed by a breathtaking performance by University of Newcastle Fine Arts students who treated us to modern pop with some unusual instruments (hello harp and flute).

Afterwards we stepped into the alleywall for drinks and chatting. I do love a string of fairylights highlighted with garlands. I need some of this in my yard.

If you're a Newy local check out Catapult. Every couple of weeks local dancers will work with a filmmaker or other creatives to come up with something unique.

I love this city.

Monday, August 03, 2015

meal planning monday


Excuse me, but how pretty is this mirrored cabinet painted in pale pink?


It's pretty much solidified my decision to paint the back of our front door in pale pink gloss.

But enough about decorating, and on to meal-planning, and what we're eating this week.

Monday: grilled lemon and herb chicken breasts with a baby spinach and orange salad.

Tuesday: this may well be our last netball training (le sob) so we'll just have a steak and salad dinner tonight.

Wednesday: I made this awesome tray-bake the other day, diced potato, pumpkin and sweet potato, drizzled with garlic olive oil and thyme. Baked for 30 minutes, then I popped in some meatballs. This was baked a further 15 minutes - before I tossed some baby spinach in for 2 mins. In an ideal world I would have then added persian feta (but I didn't have any). It was still damned delicious. I'm making it again.

Thursday: salmon on the bbq and salad.

Friday: celebrate the end of the week with takeaway!

Saturday: out with my friends to check out the Amy Winehouse movie, the new Parry Street Garage and have a Blue Heaven Milkshake from Jim's for dessert. How good is life?

Sunday: a bbq. Let's hope this pre-Spring weather continues.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Saturday, August 01, 2015

early rider

I find it really difficult to find the time to exercise. As you may have noticed, I have a pretty busy life. Full-time work, motherhood, marriage, netball coaching, volunteering stuff AND all the cool stuff I have to see and do in Newcastle takes up a fair bit of time. I love it, but I always wish I could find the time to exercise.

My favourite kind of exercise is cycling. Not the speedy stuff, just an 8 - 10km pootle. It makes me happy and probably a little bit fitter. So I've been inspired by my friend Jayne who cycles just about every morning.


Crazy early.

So on Tuesday I got up at 6.30am, got dressed and got on my bike,

Tell you what, the sunrise over the harbour and the beach was totally worth it. I saw so many tugboats, kayakers, runners and a couple of other cyclists.

It was glorious.

Now, it was only 7 degrees so my hands nearly fell off, but I'll borrow a pair of hubby's cycling gloves next time. I'm aiming to do this two to three days a week.

Good huh?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

vintage tweed ride: a tardy recap

There are few things I love more in life than Special Events. I love a sense of drama, and the chance to frock up. I also love riding my bike - so that's why the Vintage Tweed Ride so tickles my fancy.

It ticks all the right boxes.

Have a look at this dapper gent with his spectacular Penny Farthing. Oh yeah, he rode it!

Each year it's a challenge to work out what I should wear that goes with my bike. See, my cycle's not vintage, but I still feel the need to frock up appropriately. This year the red cape came out again and was teamed with a black dress with white polka dots.

You wanna know what feels better than riding along, on a beautiful sunny day, alongside our exquisite harbour with a gaggle of people all beautifully kitted out and riding their bikes?

Just about nothing really.

We had a number of spots where our guide regaled us with tales of this city. And offered the perfect opportunity to snap off some shots and Instagram 'em.

There were cupcakes. Mine was topped by a moustache. It was *almost* too good to eat. I don't believe that anything is too good to eat.

If I were to ever die of envy it'd probably be because of something like this - the ultimate picnic kit - complete with a fully-set up table out the back.


Dying I tell you.

This cycle inspired my need for a similar light for my bike so, on my ride home, I called in at Metro Cycles down near bank corner and dropped off my bike for a long-overdue service and new light. It's kinda like this one, except matte black.

So, what's next you ask? Well surely it's the Spring Fling Vintage Bike Ride and I just have just the new Laura Ashley frock to wear on it...

Sunday, July 26, 2015

great ideas newy

Wednesday night I skipped out of work a little early to go to a rather cool event. Idea Bombing Newcastle were holding a shindig up at Fort Scratchley. Not only was the awesome venue calling, so was the concept. Some of the ideas thrown around at Idea Bombing could be funded via a PlaceMaking Grant from Newcastle City Council.

Now, if there's anything I love more than Newcastle it's ideas to make Newy better.

I had to take a few pics. Damn my phone for not doing the view and the colours justice here. But jeez, how pretty is this harbour?

Then I went on a Tunnel Tour. A VERY enthusiastic guide took us down and explained all about all about the fort and its weaponry.

The guns were HUGE.

And so were all the accompanying accessories. But it was all pretty amazing.

There were some very good ideas. This was one of my favourites. Bags doing a Gallery crawl where you can wander from Gallery to Gallery, perhaps with a few food vans en-route, and cool stuff to do in between - music, performers etc.

There have been quite a few ideas over time. All pretty creative. I think a lot of great minds are thinking alike in this neck of the woods.

I'm keen to see what comes to fruition. I reckon it'll be pretty sweet. I'll let you know.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

country roads, my new holiday home...

So, the lovely holiday house we used to rent every year in the Southern Highlands has been sold {insert sad-face emoji here}. Finding another house that fits the bill for two families, each with a teenage girl, all of whom like a sunny veranda and an open fire, is difficult.

But we found it - in Dungog! Hurrah for holiday rentals.

We went away for five days and what bliss.

We packed the essentials, and placed them in the fridge upon arrival. The first cork was popped an hour after arrival I do believe.

This fabulous veranda was the place to hang. So warm and sunny, with the most delightful view of rolling hills {and cows} that I have ever seen.

The house is exquisitely decorated. I want these - framed French books with rather glorious images over the top. Took all my willpower not to pop these in my bag when I left...

Check out the gals' room - with sweet twin beds and a vintage world map, perfect for two travellers like Ms C and Ms A.

Seriously, how achingly awesome is the decor here? Gorgeous antiques combined with a few modern twists to create something fabulous.

Why yes, this is the view from the veranda - picture perfect or what!

Early morning or late at night, this was a view that always delivered.

However, there's no place like home and Toulouse was very happy to snuggle on the couch with Ms A when we returned.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

i've had an idea

Well hello there! Inspiration really hasn't struck me lately, hence the absence from my blog. Well, lack of inspiration and abundance of busyness.

However, I am now INSPIRED.

See, we've long contemplated whether to remove the wall between our kitchen and living room, and something always niggled at me to say 'no'. And now I know what it is.

I need semi-recessed shelves on that wall in the kitchen. See this pic above? Like that, but only half-way in the wall - and halfway out. That way I can display all my pretty stuff, not have it take up too much space and can use the kitchen island to store the dishwasher and a few drawers.

I'll also be needing this Laura Ashely tablecloth and a few other accessories in this pic. Damn you HouseToHome and all your fab English stuff.

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.