Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Catching up with old friends

There are some friends, who no matter how long you spend apart, the time disappears the moment you are together again.

My high school best friend Alex is one of those. She now lives in England and I haven't seen her in over 2 years. We email and talk on the phone, but there is nothing like a face to face catchup. She is out in Australia but on a crazy whistle stop tour, so tonight I flew to Sydney to have dinner and drinks with her.

It was like the past 2 years had never existed. With screams of joy and tumbling words we were back our teenage selves again, catching up on all those important things like what we had done to our hair, which cocktails we now drink, oh and the rest of life.bwe even still dress alike in silk tops black pants and patent shoes with great handbags.

And I just know it is never going to change! Eventually we may not jump at each other for fear of breaking a hip, but it will still be the same old girls together.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Isn't it nice when you are served by someone genuinely friendly? You have a little banter back and forth while they ring up your purchases? I leave feeling all buoyed and satisfied at an excellent shopping experience.

Today I was served by two very lovely, smiley, chatty women at the post office and the bank. Those are both places where the queues are often horrendous and I imagine you get a load of not happy customers, so to have such lovely counter staff was brilliant. They were both quick and efficient but while doing so engaged with me that left me feeling all smiley too.

So here's cheers for great customer service!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A slow start

Last night I danced more than I have in ages and came home bone weary.

This morning I woke up, nestled deep in my bed. I lay there, muscles still tired but deeply relaxed listening to the sound of the rain on the roof.

Everything was still and quiet except for the raindrops on leaves and tiles. The world seemed calm, peaceful and I felt free of cares and worries, perfectly at one with the rain.

Eventually I got up. A hot shower revived the senses and I moved on with the day, but it was the perfect slow start to a Sunday.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I know I'm early - but Christmas time is here!

I know it isn't quite December but I couldn't help myself, I've put up my Christmas tree. I love Christmas and I really enjoy all the trimmings. The ritual of putting it all together, the joy of finding favourite decorations, the satisfaction of sitting back and admiring all the hard work once it is done.

I love how the house looks kitted out in seasonal splendor. As well as the tree, I have a wreath on the door, a bowl of baubles on the table, a wooden advent calendar and numerous other decorations. I even decorate my front hedge!

Some of the decorations have been passed down the generations, others were gifts, still more were saved up for and then there are the ones from the $2 shop. They all work perfectly together to create my own special interpretation of Christmas.

Now to just finish the shopping and get on with the partying!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010


My primary school is closing down to make way for a super school, so today they held a special fĂȘte for past students and teachers. Mum was a teacher there so the whole family headed to the school for a trip down memory lane

There was a slight tinge of sadness as we walked into the school but it was soon overwhelmed by the joy of seeing old school photos and meeting up with our old teachers and friends. It was such fun. All the memories of the great years spent there.

Then we headed out to the fĂȘte and bought some food. I got an empanada con carne. I discovered empanadas in Argentina and loved them. The one tonight was surprisingly authentic and it brought back more memories of great times.

Tonight sure has been a fun memory trip!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A much heralded cuppa

I have been caffeine free for a couple of weeks - and not by choice. I was on some naturopathic medication that gets affected by caffeine, any caffeine. So that means no tea, no chocolate and definitely no coke.

I can cope without coke and can even get by without chocolate (although it is harder), but life without tea is just miserable. I try to substitute with rooibos but it just isn't the same.

Last year I travelled South America for a couple of months and a proper cup of tea with real milk was just not available. Our flight home stopped over in Auckland and there I sat down with my first cup of Twinings English Breakfast tea with fresh milk in 7 weeks. It was so good I quite literally shed a tear. Now it may be that I hadn't slept properly in many hours, but I prefer to think that the emotion was caused by the wonder of that perfect cup of tea.

So imagine my joy at finishing the medication. Carefully making the perfect cup, inhaling the delicious smell and taking that first, delicious, warming, senses reviving sip. I think it is true, absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The super shopper

Today I was an awesome shopper! In well under an hour I managed to get two Christmas presents, a farewell present, Christmas cards, groceries, fill my tyres with air and tell a friend's sister what she should get her for her birthday!

Some days you can take your time, browse, wander and it is a lovely relaxing experience. But other days efficiency is the name of the game. Today was one of those days and I have to say I rocked!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Renewed shoes

With the weather heating up, last weekend I packed away my boots and other warm winter shoes and pulled out of storage all my cute little summer numbers. All of a sudden my wardrobe is filled with bright colours, bows and peep toes.

It is so exciting to get them all out again, like having old friends around for a cup of tea, they all have stories associated with them. I start planning outfits that will work with the insanely high multicoloured pair, or what will go with leopard print peep toes (in my world - everything) and remembering shoes which had slipped my mind during the long winter break.

So this morning I was able to reach in and select a pair of white peep-toes with black bows to go with my outfit.

The only thing now - I must start painting my toenails again!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Those magnificent men and their cycling machines

Canberra is a great city for cyclists. You see great pelotons of them at the traffic lights, the city is criss-crossed with bike paths. The buses even have special bike racks on them so that you can ride to the bus and then catch it into the city.

Today as I was driving along I saw an amazing assortment of bikes. There were the usual road and mountain bikes, the low recliner with a flag on top, a high recliner bike.

But the thing that really made me laugh was the guy riding the unicycle. And not a little one, the single wheel must have been a meter high! Not only that, but he was dressed in a business suit. He was wobbling along and it would be easy to think that he was about to fall off but he was completely in control. I watched him cycle down the street, jump up the curb and head off down a bike path. It was just so very unexpected and completely hilarious.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Lazy Afternoon

This afternoon I joined some friends to laze on a picnic rug in the park.

We sat under shady trees in the warm afternoon air, talking, laughing, or just sitting in companionable silence. All through the park there were people doing much the same, having picnics, supervising children on the play equipment, enjoying each others company.

As I lay back, enjoying the way the sunlight lit up the edges of the oak leaves above me, I couldn't help but think how lucky I am to live in a city with such beautiful parks and where I can spend an afternoon doing nothing more than lazing about it one of them.

The Social Whirl

So you may notice that this blog entry is a little late, that is because yesterday I got caught up in the social whirl that often seems to happen at about this time of year. Everyone has emerged from the hibernation of a long winter and as the weather warms they are inspired to get out and socialise.

I had a delicious brunch with Mister M and Gorgeous A, attended a ladies only dance body movement workshop (so much fun, it was all wiggles and giggles), met up with friends for a dinner to farewell someone off to work in America for a few years and finally made it to a 30th birthday party! What a day.

One of the amusing things was seeing the same people at each event. We would arrive, and leave at different times, but it seemed our circle of friends really was circling yesterday. Such fun, it really was a day of smiles.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tasty Treats and Spontaneous Visits

There was a birthday in the office today. You know what that means - a trip to the Flute Bakery. Today's request was a mixed berry frangipan tart (and yes, I do take the picture in the box, once out it never lasts long in this office). Oh it was good, the berries juicy, the frangapan moist, the pastry crisp. It was a delicious combination.

Of course I needed a little reward for driving all that way and today it came in the form of an apple and rasin strussel danish. It was another stunning example of their brilliant flakey, buttery golden pastry, topped with apples, a few raisins (not to many which was good) and excellent straussel. My Mum is the straussel queen and I can say, that the Flute's almost completes with hers. Toped off with a light dusting of cinnamon, it was worthy of licking the paper bag out for any last crumbs.

But today had an extra surprise. Only moments after happy birthday had been sung and the tart devoured, my phone rang and it was A who was in the vicinity and wondered if I had time for a quick coffee. I love a spontaneous occasion, so I jumped at the opportunity. We had a drink and a catchup while baby-S slept peacefully.

What a particularly excellent morning!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Bush Capital

When things aren't too busy in the office, I try to get out for a walk around the block at lunchtime. 15 minutes away from the computer screen moving limbs that are otherwise stationary, it is a good feeling.

And today is just a sublimely beautiful day to be out and about. Clear blue skies, warm sun, perfumed breeze. The rain has Canberra green but now the grasses have grown long seed heads which sway like a silver wave over the verdant green landscape. Young birds have emerged, I watched a spindly breath of a wren hopping along a hedge with its parents and a baby currawong eyed me wearily from a branch that was probably a tad too low for its comfort.

The first flush of spring flowers have disappeared but in their place are leaves of every shade including an amazing purple/red stand of trees which line my path. As I peer over hedges of the nearby townhouses there are roses and lavender filling courtyards and their scent combined with the jasmine vines that wend their way up the houses is tantalising.

I'm not the only one out and about at lunch. I saw people sitting eating their lunch in the park, or on similar brain break walks like me.

I'm right in the middle of the city, but being Canberra, the bush isn't confined to the edge of the city. It isn't unusual to see a kangaroo mid-town and today as I walked back into the office a blue tongue lizard was also wandering in. I love that I live in a place where in the middle of the city I can take a stroll out of the office and be so surrounded by nature.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An opening worth savouring

Ahh the joy of reading that first page of a new book that tells you, this is going to be a good story. Really there is nothing like it, I simultaneously want to rip on in, but at the same time want to eek it out as long as possible.

I'm always slightly saddened when I finish a great story. When the tale has been told, the characters finished with. I know I can read it again (and I often do) but there is just nothing quite like that first time, when the story is new, the outcome unknown, it is all just so exciting.

Today while waiting for an appointment I started reading "Water for Elephants"by Sara Gruen. People have been raving about it for ages, so on a weekend away I bought it and promptly lent it to my Mother. She assures me I will love it and while I managed to read less than a chapter she is right. The writing is beautiful, I'm already compelled by the characters, in short, I can't wait to get home and reading!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A new taste sensation

Trying out a new recipe, it is fraught with both danger and anticipation. Will this be a new favourite or something that is so terrible you have to bury it in the garden (it has happened)?

Over the years I've been witness to many a memorable failure, plenty at my own hands. Among the most infamous in my family was Mum's 7 hour leg of lamb. Yes, 7 hours worth of cooking. It wasn't that the result was terrible, but it certainly wasn't good. It was awfully bland and my extremely fussy Dad and sister just pushed it around their plates. Certainly not 7 hours that Mum would say was worth spending.

Tonight Mum invited me over to try a new recipe she had read in the paper. Paprika chicken with new potatoes and spring vegetables. Sounded great and it was! I think we have discovered a new favourite - what a joy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Honey Toast

What is going on with the weather? Hot and humid one day, cold and clammy the next.

I've spent the last few days eating loads of salad and fruit with all the hot weather but as today went cooler, I knew what I wanted - hot buttered honey toast. Mmmmm, honey. Did you know it is the only food that doesn't spoil? It will literally never go off.

Anyway, today's afternoon tea was two golden slices of toast, dripping with honeyed perfection. What more could one ask for on a rainy afternoon?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sharing the love

Today I had the privilege of being a witness to a naming ceremony for my friends' baby boy. Surrounded by family and friends, he was officially welcomed into the family, had given his name.

It was a lovely gathering, many of us brought contributions to the afternoon tea. I brought these apple custard tea cakes and a bunch of roses from my garden. We sat around with children running wild, eating, gossiping, laughing.

Joining together to celebrate a new life is a wonderful thing. The love and good wishes heaped upon that small boy should see him have the most wonderful life.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Free Stuff

Do you know what is even better than ice-cream and a movie? FREE ice-cream and a FREE movie!

Today I've been truly spoilt. It started with the opening of a new gelato bar where they gave free scoops to everyone. I had a scoop of delicious blackberry gelato.

Then tonight, Mister M took me to Koko Black where he had a chocolate ice-cream martini and I had a blood orange sorbet martini. It was so very good. Deliciously sweet with the piquant edge of an orange, complemented by chocolate wafers. Mmmmm.

Then we headed to the movies with tickets Mister M's lovely girlfriend, Gorgeous A, had given us a few weeks ago as a surprise present. We saw "Wild Target" and it is fab. That brilliant dry, dark English humour had the whole cinema laughing aloud.

What a particularly excellent day, filled with freebies.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The first taste of summer

Today is the first day when wandering around it actually feels hot! Not just warm, hot enough that coming inside to the air conditioning is a real relief. The heat hints at all the summer fun to come and there are other signs pointing the way to a rapidly approaching summer.

Summer by the senses for me equals:

Smell - dusty dry, eucalyptus scented, those days when you can smell the heat before you feel it.
Sight - a hot hard blue sky. That cloudless sky so blue and bright you have to squint to look at it.
Taste - a mango dripping with juice.
Sound - cicadas singing their lungs out, amazing me with the ability of such a tiny insect to make so much noise.
Touch - the sizzle of bare legs on overheated car seats, or those few searing steps on the sand as you sprint into the cool of the ocean.

Along with that heat, today another of those signs of summer arrived - I heard my first cicada!

But even with all those signs of summer, our wet spring still has Canberra the most glorious shades of green. The city mowers are working like crazy trying to keep up, but in the unmown patches wildflowers like Canberra Royal Bluebells have popped up. I can't remember the city looking so wonderful for years.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I have a lot of great things coming up over the next few months, concerts, get togethers, special events (not to mention Christmas, the best time of all). Today, I've spent a bit of time lining up the ducks so that all these varied activities can happen and it has got me so excited with the anticipation of great times to come.

You can't beat a surprise for that immediate joy, but there is something particularly special about the anticipation of a special event. The planning, imagining, expectation - it is a special part of enjoying an experience.

So while I'm sure I will be writing some happy blogs about great events soon, right now I'm enjoying the anticipation of great times to come.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

All the yummy stuff in one bowl

On Sunday I had a lovely time at the markets enjoying all the fresh produce on offer. It isn't just the freshness that is so great it is also the variety of produce we have at our fingertips. From Asian vegetables to Italian herbs. We are so lucky to have such easy access to quality produce from across the world.

Tonight I really felt like a bowl of Chinese inspired soup. Popping into my local Woolworths I was able to buy ingredients like lemongrass, coriander, chilli, ginger, mushrooms, fresh rice noodles and construct a delicious bowl of soup.

I've travelled to countries where buying anything outside the national cuisine is difficult and bland, this is one of those days when I reflect on just how many ways we are the lucky country.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I'm a happy little Vegemite as bright as bright can be - well I certainly am after a good dose of vegemite.

Like any good Aussie, it is my cure-all. Hangovers, colds, mid-afternoon slump, it can all be solved with vegemite. I even traveled with one of the squeezy tubes of it through South America. My companions laughed when they first saw it, but a week into the sugary confections that equal breakfast in South America they were begging for it! It was such a staple of our trip that we created this photo of us with our beloved tube of vegemite out on the salar in Bolivia.

This afternoon I smelt the delicious smell of vegemite toast and I just had to have some - thank goodness for an office that provides the ingredients, it was the perfect afternoon tea.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Thunderbolts and lightening, very very frightening, me!

Not really, although the hail this morning did wake me up. I love a thunderstorm and they certainly have been rolling about the skies today. Dark threatening clouds, that particular smell of ozone, the sudden clash of thunder as the rain pours down only to clear to sunny blue skies minutes later. It just makes me feel that little bit more alive.

I have also developed a slightly unhealthy addiction to the Bureau of Meteorology's radar viewer. I don't know what it is about being able to see where the rain is but I love it.

Fingers crossed for a storm tonight. Sorry parents with small children or owners of nervous pets (I used to have one, but she is deaf and can't hear the thunder anymore) but a storm at night, the lightening tracing across the darkened sky, just fantastic entertainment!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Afternoon Tea

I think there is something hugely indulgent and utterly enjoyable about those in-between meals that have been created simply for socialialising and enjoying food. Brunch, supper and of course, morning and afternoon tea. While formality can be imposed, I find people are generally more relaxed. You aren't eating to fulfill hunger, it is to enjoy tasty morsels and the company of others.

Afternoon tea comes with many traditions, the correctly brewed pot, scones - light and fluffy topped with lashings of jam and cream, finger sandwiches, cake cut into bite sized mouthfuls. They all contribute to an indulgently lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Today I hosted an afternoon tea to thank those who had supported me through Frocktober. There were many tasty treats including a lovely cake from my Mum and gorgeous sandwiches and cupcakes from my friend N. We sat, chatted, enjoyed the food and were hugely entertained by N's 18 month old who demonstrated just how many blueberries a small boy can eat (the answer, is apparently all of them!)

It was such a lovely afternoon, what a brilliant way to round out a weekend.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Market Fresh

There is nothing I like more on a Saturday morning than sleeping in. But next on my list would be going to the fresh fruit and vegetable markets. This morning I had to be out and about early which meant that I got to the markets by 8am.

I find being surrounded by all that fresh produce just inspiring. There are rows of gleaming fruit and vegetables like a very healthy rainbow. The butcher and fishmonger are stocked with the best and not to mention the delights that await in the bakery. I always find time disappears whenever I enter one of the deli's as I wander the aisles checking out all the preserves, oils and vinegars or trying to decide which of the lovely cheeses to enjoy.

Being out there in the early morning also meant I almost had the place to myself, so it was a lovely relaxing shopping experience. It might have been an early start to Saturday, but it was an enjoyable one.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Casual Friday

Does your workplace do casual Friday?

My workplace is generally pretty casual unless we have clients in, but because of my role, I tend dress "corporate" although not necessarily suited up. However, I do join in on casual Friday, usually by wearing jeans.

Today is my first Friday since Frocktober, so it was the first day back in jeans since September! Oh how I love jeans, I really do. They are just a brilliant item of clothing, so comfy, look so good, just so nice to wear.

Maybe it was because it was my first day back in jeans in a month, but when I went out to lunch, I noticed how many people do the casual Friday thing by wearing jeans. But while jeans may be the staple for casual Friday, what people wear on the top is very variable. There are plenty who go very casual top to tie. Personally I like to wear nice shirts or a jacket because it still makes me feel " worky" and I noticed quite a few people do that, but one guy was taking it to the extreme. With his jeans he was wearing a white business shirt, tie and suit jacket - he had literally just replaced suit pants with jeans to go casual. He reminded me of the old shots of newsreaders with shorts on under the desk!

So whatever way you do it, I hope you have had a great casual Friday.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Best night of the week

Thursday night means family dinner night. For years now every Thursday we have convened, usually around Mum and Dad's kitchen bench, for dinner. Occasionally we go out but more often than not Mum cooks up a storm to feed her brood.

We are a close family, I'm in contact with everyone most days but I don't think anything replaces the banter of a family over dinner. We laugh, gossip, console, even argue on occasion and it really is the stuff of life.

So thanks Mum, I appreciate your efforts hugely - Thursday is my favourite night of the week!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sun on the roses

This morning I opened my curtains to a beautiful sight. My backyard is full of roses. They were coated with a thick layer of dew from yesterday's rain which had caught the rays of the rising sun. Each leaf, bud, flower and stem was outlined with a glowing silver edge as the dew and sun combined. No jeweller could ever recreate the brilliance of this morning, even with the most sparkly of diamonds and the sight lifted my heart.

It really was a gorgeous morning. Canberra looks stunning at the moment, with rolling green hills, lush gardens and full lakes. It was beautiful and sunny, with everything glowing green and sparkling clean after the rain. There were a few clouds about, but they only served to create a marbled effect of shadows over the mountains, allowing shafts of sunlight to highlight particularly verdant areas of hillside.

What a glorious way to start the day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Race that stops the office

The Melbourne Cup. From outside Australia it must seem like madness. An entire city stops for the day, the whole nation stops for the race. It is the day where suddenly everyone has an opinion on horses, where someone who has never been to a track will rave on about form and pedigree. People hold parties, office get togethers, run sweeps, place bets when they never usually go near the TAB, not to mention the hours and money spent on outfits and hats for the event - and it is all for a horse race that is over in a few minutes.

Well even if it is a form of group madness, it is something I love. The tradition of sitting around watching a horse race with my colleagues, usually with some sort of tasty afternoon tea item in hand, is one I cherish.

For the last few years in the ACT we have had a public holiday on Melbourne Cup day. It was moved to a different day this year because in short, it was bad for business and people actually really enjoy the camaraderie of Melbourne Cup in the office. I've really missed Melbourne Cup in the office, so today I had a load of fun, settling down with my colleagues and watching the race. This year I didn't even manage to get a bet on but it still made my heart leap to watch those horses.

I even wore a giant fascinator into the office in the spirit of the day. No one else dressed up, but it sure was fun for me!

I hope you had a great Melbourne Cup day and that it was luck or fashion filled for you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lucky black pants

Skirts have been very much on my mind as the last few days of Frocktober drew to a close. I love a swishy skirt, but you know what they say, you can have too much of a good thing.

So today as November arrived, my old faithful black pants (trousers for my UK readers) made a triumphant return! It is a windy day and I could walk along a main road not wondering if the world was getting a view of my underwear. I happily crawled under a desk to fix a cable and generally just spent the day enjoying the freedom.

It makes me endlessly grateful to be living in an age where our clothing choices are just that, a true choice. As a young woman my grandmother went to a fancy dress party as a man, wearing a suit with pants (!!!) and a drawn on moustache and was thought of as very daring. Yes we still have social conventions that relate to clothes, but compared to other times and even today in other countries, we are extremely lucky.

So today I have reveled in the freedom - who knew what joy a pair of black pants could bring?