Saturday, April 30, 2011

The morning after the night before

Hmmm the morning after the night before. It was a very successful Royal Wedding party. We had far too much food and drink. The gossip was too loud to hear the commentary. Three women wore wedding dresses, my Mum had her hair set in a "Queen Elizabeth" (she looked awesome) and there were formal dresses and tiaras galore.

I drank quite a lot of champagne and as a result was not the perkiest person this morning. So what better thing to do (after washing up the glasses that is) than spend a couple of hours learning a salsa and tango routine?

It was hugely fun if somewhat taxing on my hungover brain. But as with all exercise the endorphin rush was great and the giant burger that followed was both excellent for the hangover and could be enjoyed guilt free after the exercise.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

I am thoroughly excited.  Tonight is the Royal Wedding and I will be watching it with 20-something women at my house.

At heart I'm still a little girl who loves nothing more than to play dress ups and look at pretty things.  Yes, I do realise that does make me sound somewhat shallow, but every now and then you need a break from the realities of an adult existence in a flawed world.  It has been a pretty tragic year with little happy news on the ground, so it doesn't surprise me that everyone has got so carried up in the fairytale.  The Royal Wedding is the perfect opportunity for me and my girlfriends to get together, drink champagne and be 100% girly for a few hours.

I've bedecked the house with red and blue streamers, there are red, white and blue serviettes arranged in fan shapes and two TVs are set up for the best viewing opportunities.  We will be drinking Kir Royale champagne cocktails and Pimms with lemonade and eating things like coronation chicken, cheese and leek vol-au-vonts and chocolate crunch cake (which will apparently be one of the wedding cakes).

To really get into the theme the girls are dressing up.  Some are wearing their wedding dresses, others will be in formal attire.  I have a gorgeous dress ready to go and will adorn it with massive jewels, a sash and the awesome tiara I bought in Vietnam.

I haven't been so excited about a girls night in ages, this is going to be a brilliant party.  Are you doing something special?  Or are you like my republican friends (I am a republican by the way) who called me a dag and stared at me in horror when I announced my plans?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Change of season

The change of seasons marks a change of favorites.  Peep toes are swapped for boots, silk nighties for feather doonas and peaches for mandarins.

I remember listening to someone in a market one day complaining about all the "boring" fruit now summer was over.  But I disagree.  Much as I adore a sweet juicy peach, or a heady scented mango, the tang and crunch of a crisp new season apple is right up there for enjoyment.

Winter brings a delicious variety of pears, rhubarb - gloriously red and ripe for compotes, as well as citrus of all sorts.  Imperial mandarins are particular favourites of mine.  Their loose skin makes them easy to peel and their small segments are almost lolly sized.  They are packed with flavour but somehow that makes your mouth feel fresh and refreshed.  I eat literally kilos of them.

All too soon the season will be over, but there is always something new and delicious in the fruit store, it is about enjoying the season as it arises.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Autumn Colours

Today is one of those days when I really wish I had a better camera at my disposal.

Over the long weekend, the tree outside of my office window has matured into the most stunning Autumn shades.  The leaves range from a bright red through the spectrum of orange to an extreme gold.  Red is the first stage, which means that many leaves have luminous gold centers with darker orange/red borders. When the sun came out in the middle of the day and hit the tree it just glowed in its Autumn livery.

The long warm Autumn we have enjoyed is drawing to a close but it has resulted in some of the best leaf colour I can remember.  The trees have held onto their finery and are only now letting them fall into great piles which just invite you to jump in and smush them up.  Winter will be here soon with its own frosty brilliance, but for now warm days and Autumn colours are lighting my days.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Genius of the Freezer

Ahh the wonder of a deep freeze.  Mine is a hand-me-down that I got when my parents upgraded to a fridge with better freezer space.  Add a deep freeze to a microwave and you have the foodie's solution to not having enough time to cook.

Life is busy, but good food is important, so I refuse to eat those salt and preservative filled ready meals or expensive take-away.  Instead I regularly do a big cookup and make multiple meals worth of food that I then freeze.  The result is that even on the busiest day or in today's case after coming home from a few days away, there is a tasty, healthy meal ready within minutes.

Today is a cool grey day (cool enough to turn on the central heating for the first time), so I retrieved a gorgeous curry that S made from the depths of the freezer and in no time at all I've got a truly delicious, hearty meal.

Monday, April 25, 2011

ANZAC Day Traditions

ANZAC day. It is a day of many traditions. The dawn service, the parades, two up. Everyone has different ways that they mark this important day.

But for all the sombre reflection of the day there are also some fun ones. For my family one of the most important of these is eating a meat pie in front of the footy. We are Essendon supporters and the tradition of the ANZAC day match between Essendon and Collingwood has become part of our family tradition. Add a Sargent's pie to the equation (don't forget the extra half pie for the dog) and we are set!

Ok so the result wasn't victory for our team but it was a great match and it was a fantastic afternoon.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lazy long weekend

What is better on a long weekend (and a super long one at that) than a day of indulgence?

Today began with punching dolphins in the face. No not really that was S's helpful comment. In reality it began with the exchange of large amounts of chocolate, quickly followed by a breakfast of brioches French toast accompanied by caramelized pears.

We have since then played cards, wandered small gift and knick knack shops, eaten good food and watched a movie. It has been a super lovely, relaxing day.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Foot Massage

Today has been one of those super awesome days when I could write about numerous things. After much deliberation I'm going to write about foot massages. I think it is no secret that I love a good massage and I am in the lucky position to have a boyfriend that gives super dooper brilliant ones.

This afternoon S gave me an amazing foot massage. On occasion I was literally on the floor simultaneously laughing and crying as he worked out the tensions. He found all the sore spots and worked them out. It was fantastic and my feet feel amazing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dancing in the street

Sometimes the mood for a dance strikes and it doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing you must comply. Good music is often the cause of this as it was tonight when Michael Jackson inspired S and me to dance in the street.

We had popped out for a nice Good Friday dessert when the cafe's music selection rolled around to the Prince of Pop. I resisted the urge to do thriller in the restaurant but Billy Jean was playing on the outside speakers as we left and we just couldn't resist the opportunity for a dance on the pavement.

Who knows what the other diners and wait staff thought of us but it sure made us smile!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Being the easter bunny

When I was a kid the Easter Bunny was always exceedingly good to us.  My sister and I used to embark on a massive egg hunt where we would fill our baskets with mountains eggs hidden all over the house (apparently we had an indoor bunny).  One they were all discovered, we would sort out the haul to make sure we had equal amounts - an important rule stipulated by the Easter Bunny.

My favourites were the hard sugar shelled little eggs that looked like real birds eggs and of course the Red Tulip Elegant Rabbit, but we would have hollow big eggs, solid little eggs, caramel filled eggs - you name it if it was Easter themed chocolate it seemed to make its way into our baskets.

The bunny was very good at hiding all these treats, however did not always have a good memory of where the eggs were hidden which sometimes resulted in us finding eggs many months later.

As I grew up, I decided I just wanted one of those big dark chocolate eggs with the icing flowers stuck to the front.  I thought they were exceedingly glamerous and sophisticated.  My sister however has always preferred the hunt, so in time I took on some of the bunny duties.  I loved doing it, hiding the eggs, thinking of clever places, but of course she eventually grew out of it too (well not really, I think her husband has organised easter hunts for her since then).

So it was great fun last night to sneak into the office after hours and deposit everyone's Easter treats on their desk.  I purposely left early and arrived late to emphasise the miraculous appearance of our treats.  It is always amusing to see how long they will last, and the answer - at least one had already disappeared well before lunchtime.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The new shoe dance

When I get new shoes they always put a bit of a spring in my step but when they are dance shoes, well I quite literally do a dance in them.

Tonight was the first time out on the floor for my gorgeous new dance shoes. They are really tango shoes but I couldn't wait for tango so I wore them to ceroc. They are my first ever red pair of dance shoes and you know how much I love red shoes. Not only that but they are my first pair of tango shoes and my first pair of dance stilettos!  If that wasn't enough, add in the fact that I actually purchased these shoes 7 months ago (oh there is a story there) and it was with quite a bit of excitement that I strapped my feet in and headed out on the floor.

All night I felt just a bit extra glamourous with those shoes on.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Good Hair Day

Recently S was looking at the box I keep my hair straightener in.

"What does GHD stand for" he asked.

"Good hair day" I replied.

"That is a stupid name" he said, "what does it even mean".

As much as I tried to explain, he could just not understand why we have a specific term for a day that your hair looks good and how the emotion of that would imbue a brand with that feel good factor.  Yes, there summed up in one short conversation is the gulf that exists between men and women over the importance given to how good your hair looks on any given day.

It always surprises S that he can get out of the shower and smooth his hair into position in about 2 seconds with his hands, while I'm still there 15 minutes later applying various types of product, sectioning, drying, styling etc.  He occasionally uses a comb, I own several combs, a couple of brushes, not to mention the significant amount of bathroom cabinet space allotted to hair products.

While I do love dearly that he thinks I'm just as beautiful when my hair is a wild afro as when it is professionally styled, I feel much happier when my hair is under control.  And on those rare days - of which today is one - when it decides to behave and form controlled yet sexy curls, well it puts an extra spring in my step.

So while S might think every day is a good hair day for me, I'm happy to report that today I agree with him!

Monday, April 18, 2011

ANZAC biscuits

Late April is a time of warm days and cool nights, beautiful autumn colours, the return of boots and best of all ANZAC biscuits. 

I know those babies were designed to last the long trip from Australia to the battlefields of the first world war, but in coming up with that long lasting recipe, they also invested something pretty damn tasty.

I like a decently large ANZAC, preferably a bit chewy which I achieve by adding extra golden syrup.  And of course they are best enjoyed dunked into a cup of tea.

However I do know that there is a wide variety of ways in which ANZACs are enjoyed.  One friend turns them into giant kingstons by sandwiching two together with Nutella.  Others dip them in chocolate.  According to the acceptable uses of the word ANZAC section of the Department of Veterans' Affairs website, these would no longer make them ANZAC biscuits as they do not conform to the original recipe, however they are still tasty variations.

Do you have a favourite way of eating ANZAC biscuits and do you like them crunchy or chewy?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thai New Year

Did you know that it is Thai New Year?

I may not be Buddist or Thai but I love Thai food and the local Canberra Thai community celebrate new year with among other things, a food festival. Not surprisingly it is a packed event with numerous fantastic food options on offer.

Under the most glorious blue skies and autumn trees S, some friends and I sampled as many things as we could manage. S finished off with a shaved ice dessert which he loaded with super sweet highly colored topping and condensed milk. The resulting sugar high was worth seeing.

Every time I get to go to something like this I thank my lucky stars that I live in a country where we have such cultural diversity as an everyday part of our city. It is really wonderful.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Isn't it nice when you are able to use a skill to help out a friend? I may not be professional or anything but I can do hair reasonably well so when a good friend asked me to do her hair in a vintage style for a wedding she was attending I was more than happy to oblige.

She arrived bearing chocolate croissants (I'm sure that is the international currency of hairdressers) and I set about curling and pinning and lacquering her hair into place. It looked extremely cute if I do say so myself and I sent her off for a fantastic day.

And I felt great that I could help my friend.

Friday, April 15, 2011

To Do List

Finalising tasks and crossing them off my to-do list is always great, but doing it on a Friday afternoon is just that extra bit satisfying.

I have had an excellent day for drawing lines through the items on my list.  Several tasks, including one particularly annoying, tricky and important one, have been completed and as a result I can go into the weekend with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

In fact it was such a productive day I even managed to cross a few things off my personal to do list!  Now for a lovely relaxing weekend.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Yesterday I wrote about all the things I love about cold weather and today I wore one of them.  I got my boots (well one of my 7 pairs) out from under the bed, wiped off the dust (I have too many to fit into the storage boxes I bought for them) and put them on.

I still remember my first ever pair of boots.  They were knee high, black suede with a blocky heel and I loved them.  Sure that heel dated fast and the suede went slouchy around the ankles but they were seriously cool.  Over the years I've had numerous pairs of boots in both knee and ankle high.  They have been camel, brown, crimson, navy, sage and there has been at least 5 black pairs in there.

I love the versatility.  I've worn them with skirts, under trousers and with jeans tucked in.

I love that I can wear nice warm socks under them and still look fashionable.

I love that lots of them have fantastically coloured lining that only I get to see.

I love that they keep my feet warm and dry. and looking great.

In short, I really do love my boots!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My favourite things in cold weather

As I've mentioned on Sunday it got cold.  Normally we get eased into the cold weather, but it seems this year Mother Nature decided to flick the switch straight from Summer to Winter with very little in between.  Naturally as always happens, people are having a good old whinge about the weather, but I like to focus on the good side of the cold.

Here is a list of some of the things that you get to enjoy in cold weather that just aren't quite as good in summer:
  • Ugg Boots and slippers
  • Soup
  • Open fires
  • Jumpers / coats and other fleecy clothing items
  • Boots
  • Curry 
  • Hot desserts like self saucing pudding
  • Patterned or coloured stockings
  • Mulled wine
  • Thick feather doonas
  • Scarves
  • Snuggling

I could go on and on!  What are your favourite cold weather things?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hot Chocolate

Canberra decided to turn on a blast of Winter today to remind us what we are in for over the next few months.  The sky is grey, the wind is blowing and it is properly cold.  The trees are still clad in their autumn glory and when the sun makes a brief appearance it is still quite warm, but in all other respects today is a classic winter day.

There are some things that you can only truly appreciate when it is really cold outside - a roaring wood fire, a snugly wool jumper, a steaming bowl of soup - and hot chocolate.  Hot, frothy, chocolate milk.  It is the perfect antidote to cold weather, so after I made it back into the office from my lunchtime errands in the freezing wind, it was high on my list.

I'm lucky enough to work in an office complete with a fantastic coffee machine which produced the perfect hot chocolate for me with just the press of a button.  And so I sat at my desk, hands cupped around its chocolatey warmth and watched the cold, grey day progress outside.  Perfection!

P.S. After posting this, I managed to squeeze in another hot chocolate - a chai hot chocolate at Koko Black.  It really is the perfect antidote for the cold.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Frocktober - the next chapter

I'm super excited right now!

Those who have been reading this blog for awhile will know that last year I took part in Frocktober to raise funds for research into ovarian cancer.  I did it in memory of my wonderful Aunty Sue who died of ovarian cancer last year.

In her memory I want to continue fundraising this year and while I will be wearing dresses for the whole month of October, I thought that I should do something else to really get the funds flowing.  So I decided to involve another passion of mine.  No I'm not eating my weight in Flute Bakery goodness (although that sounds good - anyone want to sponsor me for that?) I'm going to hold a dance event.  I'm planning lots of fun things, including a discount for wearing a dress - gender is no excuse not to don a frock.

So what has me so excited?  I've just been offered a fantastic venue for free.  Not only will the venue help the night be great, it now means every cent from the night will go straight to the charity!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ahh healthy food

It has been a fantastic weekend of brilliant parties but I have eaten was can only really be described as a lot of crap. In particular my intake of pink sugary substances has been abnormally high as a result of the Hello Kitty themed 30th birthday party and the naming ceremony for a baby girl.

So tonight S and I made ourselves big bowls of salad for dinner. Ok, they did include some chorizo and haluomi but on the whole they were made of delicious fresh vegies. Mine disappeared in record time, S even commented on it. But it was just so lovely eating the fresh tasty veggies after our junk filled weekend.

We whipped the salads up in just a few minutes, quickly frying the chorizo and haluomi took the longest time and then tucked in to exactly what our bodies were craving.  It was a super satisfying Sunday dinner.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Party, Party, Party

The saying goes "it never rains but pours" however when it is pouring parties I don't mind in the least.

I don't know what was going on in July/August 1980 but an awful lot of my friends seem to be having their 30th birthday parties this month, several of them this weekend.  There was last night's fantastic cocktail party and tonight's black tie affair.  Both bursting at the seams with happy people (made extra happy by some awesome cocktails).

Then tomorrow we head to the other end of the spectrum for a naming ceremony for a new person in our world.

It is such a happy and joy filled weekend - I just love it!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The goodness of 3 in one neat bun

I believe it has been well established on this blog that I lurve the Flute Bakery.  I've also written about my special relationship with hot cross buns.  One thing that may not have been covered is how much I love brioche, a type of sweet bread which I often use for super excellent french toast.

So can you imagine my reaction when I walked into the Flute to discover that they make brioche into hot cross buns!  If you are thinking that it is possible that I bought a large number of them, then you would probably be correct.  If you are imagining that I squealed and then did a little happy dance, you may also be correct, although that part happened in my head (at least I hope it was only in my head). 

I must admit I haven't tried them yet, I'm waiting to share them with S.  They are currently sitting on my desk wafting an orange zest and raisin laden yeasty smell of deliciousness at me.  The only reason I've been able to resist this long is the flourless orange cake that I brought back to the office which has tided me over, but I better get these home soon or my resolution may crack!

P.S. These were truly excellent.  With quite a strong aroma of orange, the spices were nicely balanced and the sultanas particularly fat and tasty.  The glaze on top was also a sticky, finger licking delight.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I have a slight obsession with scarves.  I know they are essentially just rectangular pieces of fabric, but they come in so many shapes and sizes, fabrics and colours and they can (in my opinion) transform an outfit - not to mention keep me warm on those cold Canberra winter mornings.

Scarves also fold up quite small, so this and my general obsession means they are always at the top of my must purchase list when travelling.

On my recent travels I went a little scarf crazy, I think I brought back 8.  While I was away I thought I had gone mad, now I'm back I'm thinking I really should have got more!  Today I wore one of the 8 for the first time, a gorgeous silk number, magenta on one size, dark purple on the other.  It really is quite spectacular and perked up my otherwise black ensemble.

But you know the best bit about a gorgeous accessory from a far flung place?  If you get a comment you can oh so casually say - oh yes, I got this in Vietnam.  Talk about name dropping!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The World of Jelly

As I've written before somehow I've ended up with a reputation for being the queen of jelly shots.  I don't know if I should be flattered by this, I would probably hope that I'm remembered for loftier cooking feats, but if jelly shots are my legacy, then I will make them fantastic.

This Friday is a good friend's 30th birthday so I thought I should inquire as to if jelly shots were required.  There was a resounding answer of yes, and a mention of a pink theme, so last night I set about making a range of pink themed jelly.

Owing to limited time, I couldn't quite manage to add in berries and things like I did for my NYE jelly shots, but I have made 4 types. 

With a significant number of people not drinking at the moment and the likely presence of several small children, two are non-alcoholic - rosewater (dyed a luminous hot pink with grenadine) and condensed milk raspberry (just add a 1/3 condensed milk to 2/3 water mix and it is delicious, a trick taught to me by S). 

The other two are no doubt the ones that will be in demand.  There is the normal raspberry and vodka (a classic combination) and I used "create-a-jelly" to turn cranberry and cointreau into a kind of jelly cosmopolitan.

I think they look great and I'm sure they will go down a treat.  After all, who doesn't love some jiggly, wiggly jelly?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The perfect gift

I've said it before but I really love buying gifts for people.  Thinking about what they might like, putting together something lovely.  But every now and then I find something brilliant and am completely so excited about giving it to them.

Today was one such day.  April is apparently the month of birthdays and I have a couple of weeks of present giving coming up.  I've found some good stuff, things I think people will really like, but today I hit the jackpot.  I can't say what it is as I think the recipient might read this blog on occasion, but it is just so cool!  Not only that but I saw it on a US website but managed to track it down in Canberra so that I can have it in time.

Now I'm super excited about giving it to her - hmmm do I make her open it on the spot?  And have you ever found a perfect gift that you have been totally excited about?

Monday, April 4, 2011

The awesomest friends

This morning I was looking out the window when I realized that the dry rot I'd been attempting to ignore in my pagola had now got to the stage where bits are starting to look like the might fall down and the wonky paling in the fence has headed to a rather extreme angle. The time has come when something must be done but after my recent trip away I wasn't looking forward to dipping into the savings to do it.

So rather than ringing for quotes I decided to put out the call out to my enormously talented pool of friends. I posted my dilemma on facebook and a couple of hours later a working party has been formed. In a few weeks everyone will convene at my house to fix it!

Gosh it is times like these when I realize how fantastically lucky I really am.  It isn't just that my friends are handy and actually know how to fix things (which is awesome in itself) it is that they would so instantly offer to help.  I'm counting my many blessings today.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Just a sweet transvestite

The Rocky Horror Picture Show - there really is nothing else quite like it.

Our musical movie marathon included it and I was amazed to find it was first time viewing for a couple of people. It was hugely enjoyed after all Tim Curry parading around in his heels, fishnets and corset is hard to beat as a symbol of complete confidence and the music is just so great. Even now hours later I'm still singing it to myself.

But probably what made it such a stand out for the afternoon was that the preceding movie was West Side Story - now there's a contrast!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cupcake Surprise

Tomorrow S and I are going to a musical movie marathon.  For this we were asked to bring cupcakes which we are going to, but in a twist of genius, we have baked them in ice cream cones.  They are so cute, they look just like ice-creams but they are cupcakes.  They are going to be our version of choc tops.

To do it, you simply put your normal cupcake mixture into flat bottomed ice-cream cones and bake.  They do take nearly twice as long as usual to cook as the ice-cream cone is an excellent insulator, but they come out quite spectacular.  Pipe a swirl of icing on top and you have some very cool treats.

So tomorrow everyone will get an excellent surprise as the expected cupcakes turn out to be a whole lot more interesting!

Friday, April 1, 2011

See my shoes!

Do you remember the Simpson's episode where Mister Burns wants to turn all the greyhound puppies into a suit and he sings the song "see my vest"?  In it he says see my vest about a hundred times and I was thinking about it because all day I've been wanting to say see my shoes to everyone I've met.

Oh they are awesome shoes, sage green slouchy suede high heel boots.  I love them but you know what makes them extra special - they were given to me by a friend.  Officially I am the minder of the shoes, they still belong to Renaissance Judy (she is the ultimate renaissance woman - a science teacher who is an extremely talented artist, jewellery maker, photographer, calligrapher, chef, gardener, designer and makes an awesome cocktail) however as they are too large for her but fit me perfectly, they get to live at my house and on my feet unless requested back by their owner.

Cool shoes- now there is something guaranteed to make me happy!

On a side note, I so had the Mister Burns song in my head that I was signing it in the office and managed to lock it in another couple of people's brains too - oops sorry for the earworm guys!