Wednesday, December 31, 2008

get the party started

My apologies to iTunes. Thanks to being a complete luddite, I didn't realise that the whole iTunes party mix just keeps going on. I started off slowly with Ben Harper, but am currently rocking out to Dinosaur Jr - apple does know best.

I must say too, that having music playing did put me in a much happier mindset - and I've just about finished reworking that story. Happy now!

tasteful tunes

I'm working today, reworking a story I thought I'd finished, but that the editorial director thought needed a complete change of direction. Grrrrr. At least I'm getting paid for the words, but still. Sigh. Anyway, I thought a bit of music might soothe my savage mood, so I went into iTunes and found what they'd called Party Mix. Hmmm, what could that be? Well, while it's made up of my tunes, it's not what I'd put together for a party. My party tunes have a distinctly retro vibe - heavy on the 80s and 90s pop/dance and grunge scenes. This mix is heavy on Ben Harper, who I love, but I wouldn't put him in my must-have party hits mix.

Oddly, there are party bands on this mix - Blur, Silverchair, Filter... but not the songs I would have chosen. However, as I said yesterday, I'm open to new experiences, so maybe this Ben Harper selection - with its heavy load of Gospel numbers, is just what I need to get this work done. I'll let you know. Apparently iTunes thought I needed divine intervention...

pizza party

As it's New Year's Eve, we're off to friends' tonight to ring in 09. There are five families going along, so to feed the hoards we're all bringing pizza to cook and share. I'm making a fresh tomato sauce and will be using that as the base for my prosciutto and parmesan pizza. I'd also like to use the remaining roast beef I cooked up yesterday for lunch (we had it sliced, cold, with salad and baguettes - yummy) and do a caramelised onion, roast beef and baby spinach pizza. It's not going to be cheesy, I thought I'd just throw on a few chunks of a really strong cheddar - and no tomato sauce, just the juicy onions with a little added garlic oil. That should all go rather nicely with the champers, surely.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

rebel yell

I spent a lot of my life inadvertently rebelling against my mother. If you'd asked me, I would have said "No way!" but it's only now that I've realised that a lot of the things I do, I do because my mother didn't do.

When I was growing up our house was always gorgeous. Very fashionable, very clean, very tidy. Our living room was the height of 70s chic - with one wall entirely coated in mirror tiles, deep green modular couches and white carpet. Ye. White carpet. You know what you can do on white carpet? Almost nothing. You could walk on it - in clean feet or clean socks. You couldn't eat or drink on it. Sometimes I wished I could levitate, so I didn't worry about smearing it. 

The kitchen was also very chic, with a white mosaic tile benchtop and splashback - with matching white grout. Now, luckily my mother was a Virgo, so she was keen on clean, and those white surfaces always sparkled under her ministrations. However, I obviously always swore I wouldn't have a house like that. 

See, I refuse to let anyone take off their shoes at my front door, as it always brings flashbacks to that damned white carpet. When we moved into this house, our daughter used to ride her trike up and down the hallways, scratching the floorboards - but adding more character. Food's often eaten at a table, or on the couch in front of the TV - whatever's easiest.

However, being slothful and messy isn't rebellion - it's silly and only impacts on the person who has to live in it. So now, I'm 99 per cent sure I've turned the corner on messiness. These days it's normal for me to put something back where it belongs, immediately. The dishwasher's unloaded as soon as it's finished, and washed dishes are left to dry for no more than half a day before I pack them all away. It's a much nicer life - and I still feel like we've got a lived in and loved in home. It's still pretty gorgeous, but it's worn around the edges. Which is just the way I like it.

something new

I've never been one for resolutions. I always find that as soon as I make a grand statement that I want to achieve... it tends to set me up for failure. I prefer baby steps. For example, this year is the year I try something new as often as possible. A new activity, a new recipe, a new food, a new author, a new album, a new fitness gig, a new restaurant...

To inspire me, I'll tell you all about it. I'd like to step outside my comfort zone in 2009. Stretching the mind and imagination has to be good for the soul non?

Monday, December 29, 2008

pucker up


Okay, I've googled, and reckon that this sounds like the perfect Lemon Drop Martini recipe. Enjoy!

1 1/2 ounces of vodka
1/2 ounce triple sec
1 tsp superfine sugar (I think I'll use caster sugar)
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

Place all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake 40 times to allow the sugar to dissolve. Then, grab yourself a frosty cold martini glass, wipe the rim with lemon juice, then dip it in some superfine sugar. Carefully pour in the Lemon Drop Martini, then garnish with a lemon twist.

Oh my.

See, yet another reason why I really need to plant a lemon tree. 

book club

As an avid reader I place my books in categories. Meh: I'm only reading this to find out what happens. Fine: okay, but not life shattering. Fab: loved it, will read it again, and Oh, wow. I just read an Oh, WOW. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen is such an incredible book. She's one of those rare authors who weave a spellbinding tale, complete with quirky, whimsical characters and can sprinkle on a bit of magic in the most believable manner. I adored every single second of this book.

The cover's different on my version though. It's a pretty blue, with a pair of feathered angel wings and a gorgeous, scroll-script title font in a pretty deep cerise. And it's dotted with raised, sparkly sugardrops. I bought the book for the cover, and I'm so very glad I did.

Oh, and it's spookily magic. One of the main characters in the book had a fondness for a lemondrop - an alcoholic drink I'd never heard of before. And then, less than 10 minutes after reading about this delicious-sounding drink, Jack, on Will & Grace, stepped up to the bar and ordered three lemondrops. Spooky huh? I'm about to google the ingredients, because these little beauties seem to be served in a martini glass - my favourite drinking vessel.

sale guide

We've braving the post-Christmas sales at the local shopping centre today. I'm on the hunt for a new set of sheets and some beach/pool towels. Of course, I'm very, very particular. I only like crisp white cotton sheets on my bed, and for the pool, I want pretty blue and green towels with a cute border of retro fringing. Oh, and I'd like 'em striped if possible. 

We're planning on putting some towel rails up - some on the side of the house next to the intended outdoor shower, and possibly a subtle couple on the fence in the courtyard. Towels get mighty soggy when you swim, so a good drying area is essential, otherwise they get flung over furniture and pool fencing and that just looks very unattractive.

It's also our daughter's birthday tomorrow, so a couple of extra pressies might be in order. We've done most of the shopping, but I love the cheap fillers that make a pile look extra impressive. With girls it's easy - hair bands, lip balm, cute socks...

I've also got the in-laws coming for lunch tomorrow so I'll be roasting up a wedge of beef to slice thinly and serve with a salad and baguette. For dinner we're hoping our favourite French restaurant, Bistro Tartine, will be open. Our little soon-to-be-nine-year-old adores confit duck and creme brulee...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

totally stuffed

Last night I roasted a rather delish chicken. I washed it, dried it, then stuffed it with this:
2 slices wholegrain bread, grated
6 slices prosciutto, diced
1 egg
a generous sprinkling of dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper

Then I rubbed olive oil all over the chicken, trussed the legs, sprinkled salt over it, then placed a few slices of butter on top, rubbing into the skin. The chicken then went onto a baking rack, in a tray, into which I poured two cups of moscato (white wine). 

I baked it at 180 degrees for an hour, then tented it with foil and baked it for a further 30 mins till it was cooked through. Finally, I took it out and rested it for 15 minutes. The skin was crispy and golden, the flesh was oohhhh so moist, and the stuffing was mighty fine considering my limited food options on Boxing Day. We ate it with a simple salad and washed it down with bubbles (you know, cos it's Christmas).

Friday, December 26, 2008

bubbles

Festivities just aren't complete without bubbles - preferably French ones. Which is why I'm rather chuffed that a case of this little beauty currently resides in my pantry. 

While I adore Pommery, Moet and Tattinger, my bank account does not. However, I can justify spending $12 on Veuve Amiot - a refreshing sparkling wine that hails from the delightful Loire region. If you ever stumble upon it I can recommend it. It's light and doesn't have that acrid taste that cheaper sparklings can offer. It's also taken over from Grandin as my other bargain French bubble.

Actually, I may need to pop a bottle in the fridge while my chicken roasts. I am meant to be detoxing, but hey, it's Christmas is it not?

flat out

While doing a bit of the odd cleaning and tidying today I got to thinking about the types of chores that I love and loathe. Some I'll do grudgingly (toilet cleaning - erk), others I try to adopt a zen state while I undertake (unloading the dishwasher, putting away clean clothes) and others I just will not do (ironing). Yep, I'm a non-ironer. 

I think I was scarred for life by a white, cotton pirate shirt I had in the 80s. See, I begged for it, and my mother agreed, but only if I'd iron it. Sure enough, the darned thing would sit at the bottom of the ironing basket, getting more crumpled and despicable with every week. Day-by-day more clothes were piled on top and it shrunk and crinkled and almost glowered with wrinkles. Every now and again I'd bring it out, think about ironing it, and shudder before placing it at the bottom. Of course, sometimes I'd just have to wear it with my white knickerbockers and gold belt and shoes combo (I repeat, it was the 80s) so I'd have to dig it out, spray it with the water bottle and spend half an hour cursing as I ironed out one crease, to replace it with another.

Now, I don't iron. I hang out my washing with care, shaking out all the wrinkles and pulling things flat. Then I carefully fold it when I bring it in, and hang anything that can be hung so any remaining wrinkles fall out. 

It works, we look relatively neat and tidy. My husband's work shirts look fine - not pristine, but fine. I hang them all on hangers and all the wrinkles seem to fall out as they dry.

All this time I'm not spending on ironing, or angsting over the growing pile, means I have time to do other stuff - like sleep, or read, or cook. My brow doesn't furrow every time I think about the ironing - because it just doesn't exist, so I'm also saving on botox - bonus!

festive leftovers

Ouch. I'm still very over-satiated from the Christmas Food Festival. The last few days have been a blur of way too much food, swallowed down with plenty of wine. Breakfast this morning was a very light slice of toast with restorative vegemite and a couple of big glasses of cold water. Lunch will be a carved leg ham salad, and for dinner, I have a lovely free-range chook ready to roast and serve with more leaves and other salad greens.

I've just been musing about what to do with the Christmas pudding my mother-in-law lovingly makes for each of her children's families. They're perfect, but unfortunately my hubby has an aversion to dried fruits, so a dried-fruit-studded pudding is not his cup of tea. I'm not keen on nibbling away at it on my own over the next few weeks, lest my waistline take on an even-greater pudding shape. So here's my idea. We're going to friends for dinner in two days time and I thought I'd create a trifle based around the pud. Slices of pudding will be alternated with poached, seasonal fruits, and a vanilla yoghurt 'custard'. Surely that'll use it all it, the sweetness will be tempered with the yogurt and all will be well.

Now, I'm off for a swim - hopefully I'll float and not sink!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

seasons shoe greetings

Hope you all have a lovely, lovely Christmas. And I really hope that Santa leaves something like these little beauties under the tree for you...

late night shopping

Well, my visit to the local indie stores yesterday was a smashing failure. Nothing for teen boy, and zilch for teen girl. I could have bought something, if I was prepared to pay $70+ for a t-shirt, which I am so not. So instead, boy's getting a stack of cash in his christmas stocking (his favourite gift according to his ma) and girl's getting a make-up bag packed with age-appropriate essentials (a range of nail shades, mascara, eye liner and a few shadows).

But last night, my local shopping centre was open till midnight, so after an early dinner, I bid the family farewell and headed off to... bliss. At 7pm I drove straight into the perfect park, and wandered around a busy, but sparsely populated Westfield. I bought all hubby's pressies, make-up for teen girl, and a few birthday pressies for my gal. Plus, I found a retro DVD - Santa Claus is Coming To Town, a fave from my youth, that Annabella dived on this morning. By 9pm I was home, wrapping pressies and a few hours later in bed feeling very well satisfied after watching Nigella's Christmas to wind down.

So today's Christmas Eve. I'm sitting here with a shower cap atop my head, dye hopefully seeping in and colouring all that grey on my head, food in the fridge ready to make teeny quiches to take to neighbour's for drinks, then to in-laws for supper (I'm doing it easy and making a couple of dozen lorraine and caramelised onion and blue cheese quiche bites - perfect with any wine or champagne option).

Now the only thing I have left to do is collect my car (which had to be left at mechanic's yesterday thanks to a hole in the muffler and a cracked tappet cover - who needs tappets anyway, let alone a darned cover!). I also need to make said quiche pastry, then quiches, pack bags, tidy house and write an article. Oh, and visit Dan Murphy's for wine and champagne - I ran out of time yesterday. 

Easy.

Have a merry christmas, happy holidays etc. I'll be back before you know it.
Lxx

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

serenity now

And breathe... Okay, I've designed the invites for my daughter's birthday party - and they rock. I've sent them off to hubby to have them printed in colour - all ten of them, then I'll go get them laminated, buy lanyards from cheapo shop down the road, and we'll pop them in mailboxes later tonight. Phew. One major thing ticked off the to-do list.

I must say that the one thing saving my sanity at the moment is my new oasis of zen - my ultra-tidy and very well-organised pantry. Every time I look at it it's like a little spot of tranquility in my life. 

I'm finishing off the christmas shopping this afternoon at a local surf shop and local funky clothing store. Sure, I may have to pay a little more for the teen's tees, but I won't have to fight my way into a carpark, then through snarky crowds at the local mall. That's got to be worth a few dollars doesn't it?

After all this I'm rewarding myself with a trip to Dan Murphy's where I'm buying a case of champagne and buying difficult brother-in-law some fine wine and port - surely the perfect pressie. 

ready or not

Oh so not. I haven't really given a great deal of thought to Christmas this year, aside from our fast four hour shop a month ago. But see, the thing is, I just looked at the date and realised that I'm somewhat unprepared for the big day. There's still shopping to do - for a teenage niece and nephew - the toughest pressies. There's a secret santa gift needed for a difficult-to-buy-for brother-in-law (wow, that's a lot of hyphens, even for me) and I may need to buy my husband the odd pressie or two.

I've also got to finalise my daughter's birthday invites and send them out. Plan her party - oh, and actually set a date for it that's not tentative. This is undoubtedly my most disorganised year - particularly with her party. I guess it's because I was hoping for the pool party, then had to do the quick switcheroo when I realised that the backyard wasn't likely to be ready in time. 

So today, I'm all action stations Christmas and birthday. I'll buy those last few pressies, get the invites sorted - and maybe do a little work as well. It can be done, and will, so we can all have a very, very merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

oh my

Until today, I never really quite understood the appeal of Penelope Cruz. Probably because of the whole Tom Cruise thing. But today... goodness me...

festive loaf

For dinner last night I made a Christmassy meat loaf. It was very delish so I thought I'd best share:

Chicken and pistachio meatloaf

750g chicken mince
3 slices of bacon, diced
1/3 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
1 green onion, finely sliced
1 slice wholegrain bread, grated
1 egg
1/2 lime juice and zest
salt and pepper
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

8 slices prosciutto

Mix all ingredients except prosciutto in a bowl - with your hands, go on. Then line a loaf tin with the prosciutto and then pile the chicken mix on top. Cover top with slices of prosciutto and place in a dish, and pour in enough water so it comes half-way up sides of the loaf tin. Cover top of meatloaf with foil and bake at 160 degrees for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake a further 15 minutes till golden.

Remove from oven, allow to rest, then remove from tin and slice. I served this with a sorrel, hazelnut and sliced green apple salad and it was very yummy indeed.

wise guys

My gal had one of her best gals over for a sleepover last night, so we took them out to check out the Christmas lights. First of all we went to Estabar, a coffee and gelato cafe opposite Newcastle Beach where we all indulged. Matt had espresso and chocolate gelato, Hollie had lemon sorbet and a chocolate cherry number, Annabella decided on chocolate and hazelnut, while I savoured a blood orange sorbet. Yummy!

After this we popped a Christmas CD in the player and drove around to look at lights. We finished off at the house above which is stunning in its elegant simplicity. All the curtains of the house are open, with gorgeous little vignettes apparent everywhere you look. These wise men were in the front yard, next to the sleigh that was set up for the children to sit in and have their photo taken.

The couple often come out to wish the children a Merry Christmas and you can just see the joy bouncing off them as they spy the beaming faces of the littlies. That's what Christmas is all about.

pantry raid

Spring cleaning is a task that really satisfies and one aspect I find immeasurably pleasurable is cleaning out the pantry. Going through the shelves one-by-one, taking out all the items and checking use-by dates before wiping over and setting aside, is an almost meditative task. However, what I really don't understand is how I can clean out the pantry at least annually and yet there's always one wildly out of date item. Nothing from the 70s mind you, but a few years out of date...

I also love wiping down the shelves, including the upper and lower sides, with a mix of warm water and essential oils (lime oil today) then allowing them to dry and repacking in a much more orderly fashion.

Today was the first time I haven't had to clean out the pantry as part of a blitz on pantry moths. I've had years of fighting these little blighters, but now I place items such as flour, rice, popping corn etc straight in the freezer once I buy them. The flour comes out after a fortnight, when I know any eggs have been killed off, but I tend to keep the rice and popping corn in the freezer as the grains still remain separate and ready to cook and they take up a little space in my near-empty freezer (I need some food in there to keep the vodka and limoncello company!)

I've only done the left hand side of my walk-in-pantry today. The right-hand-side, with its cake-making ingredients, spices and crackers, will be tackled tomorrow. Baby steps.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

it's just not christmas

I'm a huge fan of signifiers. I need a sign to know something exists, and for me, the Christmas sign is not a tree, or a Santa photo, it's driving around checking out the streets with Christmas lights. I love those families that sling lights and decorations over their homes for our viewing pleasure. 

We had our first drive last night, and tonight we're doing the drive and walk. We'll trek over to a neighbouring suburb, park our car at the top of our favourite cul de sac and wander down ooohing and aaahhhing over the santas, the reindeers, the wise men...

Yep, it's finally beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

best scents

Today, after cleaning off my desk, I soaked a cotton ball in lavender oil and placed it on the window sill in the sunshine. The scent is still wafting my way even though the sun's said goodnight.

action stations

Tell you what, it makes sense just to get in and get things done. Half an hour ago my desk was a disaster, and now? It's clear, it smells of lavender (yummy) and all the paper is in the recyling! Often it's just far to easy to think everything's too hard, but biting off a task in a small chunk (ie my desk rather than my entire study!) means I can achieve something and feel proud of it.

Yes, I will have to put on my blinkers and ignore the rest of my study - but I can do that now the desk is looking so good. Later on today I'll work on the bookshelf to my right, and maybe after that, the chair behind me that's covered in, well, stuff. But right now I'll breathe in the lavender, layer my hands with Cath Kidston Rose & Carnation handcream and work with a smile on my face.

paper chase

When it comes to keeping clutter down the one thing standing in front of my way, and blocking me from a more minimalist existence, is paper. My desk has three piles with paid bills (I just need to transfer all the info, including payment receipt numbers, into a word file), backyard 'stuff' (no idea what it is, just that my husband will need it) and work "stuff" (press releases, the odd printout...)

Today, my aim is to cut through all this paper. I'm grabbing a huge box and loading it all in to take to the recyling bin. By 11am (it's now 8.53am) my desk will be a zen, calm, working zone. Ready, set... GO!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

give me the boot

The last pair of boots I had were bought in around 1985 and I used to wear them regularly to the Friday midnight screening of Rocky Horror - in my full Magenta regalia. I haven't bought another pair because my calves and boots generally do not mix well.

But, should I decide to buy a boot, these little Lacroix sweeties would just about do it. Can't you picture them with a full skirt? The bow detailing at the back just makes me die. Imagine pairing them with a full black skirt that had a little hot pink netting peeping underneath.

Goodness.

starting over

I had my very last day in the office yesterday and as of today am 100 per cent freelance. It's a blissful fresh start, and one I'm very, very excited about. Firstly, I won't have to wake at the ungodly hour of 5.45am to catch a train. A stinky train that's always too cold, no matter what the season, and is often filled with unsavory and potentially scary people. Secondly, I won't have to break up my week with a two day stint away from home. That'll be nice, and hopefully I'll be more organised and will have lovely meals to prepare every night, and bountiful fresh harvest in my fridge to whip up delish salads or soups for lunch. 

But.

I'll miss staying with my dear friends one night a week. That was one of the high points of my week. We laughed, we conversed, we shared the odd bottle of wine... I'll miss that.

I'll also miss the gals at work. In every other job there's always been some type of festering thorn in my side, a reason I'm happy to escape, but on this job, I met true friends. Really amazing and interesting people who've enriched my life. Lunchtimes were always the perfect chance to catch up and chat - and I feel so blessed that I met such wonderful people. The laughter we shared will keep resonating, even though I'm no longer there to shout out over the cubicles.

Creative people always tend to be a little out there - sometimes they're out there in a different direction to you - but every now and again, you find this incredible common ground that forges a bond so deep, you know that a few hundred kilometres isn't going to break it.

I'm looking forward to M & N coming up for the weekend, I'll be opening my home to them the way they opened theirs to me. And the girls at work will all be invited up one weekend for the world's biggest girly sleepover. Change is never a bad thing, just an opportunity to do something in a different way.

attention please

There are some things I prefer to remain in blissful ignorance about. If I can't see it, it doesn't exist - you know, that kind of thing. Which is why I'm very, very peeved with my dentist. See, when I went along a few months ago to have enamel bonding on two of my teeth that were not-so-cosmetically-appealing thanks to a stint of antibiotics as a wee babe, my dentist said "You know, we could fix that chipped front tooth of yours with this". Pardon? What chipped front tooth? 

Ohhhhhh, the chipped front tooth that now leaps out at me every single time I brush my teeth, and yet had hitherto never seen before in my life. That one. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

a sense of urgency

Do you have anything you're utterly compelled to do no matter what? I have an almost obsessive compulsive need to fondle attractive fabric - in stores, on people... I don't even have to like the garment, or the cloth, but if I think it's going to have some special tactile qualities it's between my fingers before I can say "hands off buster". Yes, it's ironic that I won't allow my child to touch anything in a store, but at least I can pretend I'm interested in the outfit if a pesky salesperson casts objecting glances in my direction.

I'm also compelled to deglaze pans. I'd just finished frying off onions, red capsicum, chorizo, garlic and chicken breast chunks in my cast iron pot for the fritatta I'm making for the picnic (easy, yet tasty option) when I couldn't bear to leave all that golden deliciousness stuck to the bottom. Of course, I had no white wine or chicken stock handy, so I had to throw in a swish of red cooking wine. A few seconds later all that gooey goodness was encased in a ruby glow, which I threw over top of my fillings, before popping the egg (with a splash of milk, salt and pepper) mixture over top. A grating of some super vintage cheddar and it's in the oven at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes or until set and golden.

To serve, I'll chop it into squares and serve it with a very garlic-ridden aioli and a green salad. I also have a crunchy baguette to tear up to round out the plate. Then we'll be serenaded with carols by the children at school while we toast in the festive season with friends and some sparkles. How good is Christmas? 

Monday, December 15, 2008

picnic fare

There's a christmas picnic at my daughter's school tomorrow night, and I can't for the life of me work out what to prepare. See, this is the fourth year we'll have attended, so I've made most of my favourites. Plus, friends are already bringing things I'd quite like. I do have teeny little gingerbread babies for the kids - but for adults I'm stumped.

Maybe cold things on a stick? Marinated chicken breast, a grape tomatoes and wedges of yummy fresh mozzarella? With a chunky fresh pesto dipping sauce? Do you think? Or prawn cocktails served in a cos lettuce leaf? Or a big bread salad with fresh tomatoes and slices of a spicy salami? Buttermilk fried chicken bits? Plus a green salad? 

For sweets it's got to be summer berry trifles - that's easy peasy. Ooooooh, or Eton Mess with strawberries, raspberries, meringue and cream. We will be drinking champagne - and then I'll be detoxing for a week. My poor liver, kidneys and other organs I didn't even know existed must be screaming in pain after the last week I've had. I think I'm renaming December the Festy Season...

so long

No, it's not a farewell post, more a post about me saying "thank goodness I didn't write a blog documenting the progress of my back yard - because, boy, this is taking some time..." The guys are out the back finally laying pavers, that we had delivered, oh, a few weeks ago. But once that's done, that's going to be pretty much it till mid-January. So we'll have a pool that's tiled, walls that are painted, paving done... but no landscaping, no pool interior - and most importantly, no pool fencing. But we're going to order the fencing today, with the hope it'll be installed in the first few weeks of January, then we'll have the pool cabana built, then they'll surface the interior of the pool and fill the darned thing.

Of course that meant our daughter's pool party is off till next year. Her birthday's at the end of this month, so I had to think quick and come up with a funky alternative. So now we're having a Rock Star party. I'm printing up Backstage Passes, laminating them and clipping them on lanyards for invites. We'll have rockstar makeovers (lots of coloured hair spray, glitter and dark nail polish), karaoke and dancing competitions. I haven't decided on the cake yet. Maybe a microphone, or a CD. It's gotta be funky and fun. And as for food... M&Ms with all the green ones taken out? It's got to be like a band's rider - except with pink lemonade instead of Jack Daniels!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

quelle heure?

At the deli on Friday, picking up the ingredients to make a caramelised onion, proscuitto and goat cheese tart, I got to chatting with the girls behind the counter about food. I told them how I was making my tart (on a puff pastry base, spread with a little tapenade, then baked till golden) and one of them told me how she'd made a seven hour leg of lamb the day before. I'm so in.

So shortly, I'm studding a leg of lamb 12 times with teeny little cuts, just wide enough to fit in a slice of anchovy and a slice of garlic. Then I'll rub it with olive oil and salt and pepper, before browning all sides in a frypan. Next I'll pop it in my le crueset french oven, pour in a cup of white wine and a cup of chicken stock, cover it tightly and slowly cook it for sept heures at 100 degrees.

I think I'll serve it with a white bean salad - and something green.

Friday, December 12, 2008

ain't no sunshine

Oh the irony in this sunburned country. It's raining here again - just as it has been, off and on, for weeks, months, etc. Of course it's delayed the completion of our backyard, but we probably wouldn't be able to swim in the pool anyway because who wants to swim when it's raining! The frustrating thing is that my stepmother emailed me yesterday to say that all their rainwater tanks were empty and they were going to have to use town water for the first time in two years. I think my mum's tanks down the other end of Australia are also verging on empty. Whereas here, good grief, we could fill about 55 000 swimming pools with the rain we've had over our house in the past year or so. 

You'd at least think it would be good for the gardens but even the plants are over it. When there's a break in the rain on the weekend I'll have to fling some manure at the base of the plants to make up for all the nutrients that must be getting washed away in the downpours. At least all the songs I know about rain are now clouding up my head, rather than Some Girls by Racey which seemed to take up residence for the past few days.

Oh rain, go away. Go play with someone who needs you.

carrie on

Watching Sex and The City last night, as one does, I squealed in glee and told my husband "Oh, this is my favourite part ever" when the scene came on with Aiden, cooking in Carrie's kitchen, singing to Copacabana. Of course, long-term readers will know of my adoration for Aiden and my strange obsession with the song Copacabana - and I also have a soft spot for a bloke who'll whip up a meal. So there I am, smiling stupidly away at Aiden, and all his good points (he came up with the cutest pet names for Carrie - Poptart being my all-time fave) when I realised that it's also the episode where Carrie's Mac dies.

Now, as a writer, my computer is my life. I have the odd bit of info, such as deadlines, printed out, but usually I try to save trees and just have it alllllll stored on my computer. So when everyone told Carrie she should be backing up her work, a little voice inside my head said - 'hey, so should you'. And then I ignored it.

Until this morning.

I hit my start key on my Mac and. Nothing. No lovely little Mac waking up noise, just silence and a black screen. I tried a few more times, becoming increasingly hysterical, checked the power was on, then decided to wash my hair. Everything's better with clean hair. 

Out of the shower, I try again. Nothing. So then I unplug and replug the cords and - bliss - it started up.

You know what I'm doing today now don't you? Backing up till I can't back up no more. I've got, oh, about seven works in progress on the hard drive - due from now till the end of January. They've got research, interview transcriptions and even real words on them. Yes, backing up is today's must-do task.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

seasons greetings

Christmas just begs for red does it not? Which is why these shoes caught my eye. They're patent, they're strappy and I do like the platform at the front which allows for even greater heel height. Now, I'd just need an emerald green satin frock to become Santa's sauciest helper...

scene stealers

Some frocks deserve top billing in a film. Marilyn Monroe's white halterneck was one, Holly Golightly's 'prison' sheath and hat another. A hero frock can almost make sitting through an appalling movie appealing. For example, the gorgeous green gown Keira Knightly is adorned with in Atonement. A shocker of a film, but, oh, what a frock.

I apply the same theory to eye candy. I'm normally pretty happy to give any film starring Johnny Depp a shot, knowing that his performance will be outstanding, and, um, yum, he's delicious. 

I assume it's got something to do with my dogged optimism - I'm always determined to find something positive in even the most negative experiences. There's always something to be learned in every event.

Monday, December 08, 2008

i know what boys like

Well, I've always thought I knew what boys like, but going by some of the google searches that have led people to my blog - Mary Janes for Men and for Boys are surprisingly popular (unless it's the same person who keeps hoping to find something new week after week...) Who knew? I thought I had a handle on Mary Janes of all descriptions - hey, I own many of them, but my hubby... um, not so much. I'm trying not to be Judge Judy of JudgementVille, but I just can't see a bloke in Mary Janes. I've tried visualising Mark Jacobs or David Beckham in a pair - but so far, in my mind at least - even they haven't been able to get away with it.

Oh, and I tried to do a google search to find out more - and found myself back here!

wet and wild

This weather really is a bother. Last night it poured bucketfuls of rain, which meant that the painters, who'd come to paint the rendered walls, had to leave, with walls unpainted. Now, late in the afternoon, the skies are once again grey and threatening and I'm trying not to pout. Just when it seemed like we'd be swimming by Christmas, the completed pool project has once again been stalled, ironically, by the wet weather. 

Serenity now, serenity now...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

special guest blogger

My eight-year-old daughter is desperate for a blog, so here's a post she'd like to share.

FRIENDSHIP

My best friend Maisie and I are 2 peas -in- a -pond we  do everything together we are always on the phone and meeting on webkinz .......

bill and ted were right

I've always struggled with perfectionism. Which to those who may know me will seem odd - as I'm a bit slapdash in what I do. But I think there's a reason for that - if I don't try to make things perfect, then nobody can notice that it's not. However, I will spend ages procrastinating on articles that I write, just in case the perfect word comes to mind. When I clean the house I'll always leave something askance, again, so people don't think I've tried to be perfect and failed.

But recently, I read an idea that was revolutionary. Don't try to be perfect, try to be excellent. It's true, nothing's perfect, but things can be excellent. I've been trying to apply this to my life, and it's working quite well. I'm getting ahead in my deadlines, and am happy with what I've been writing.  My house is pretty clean and tidy - I'm happy enough if people drop in unexpectedly. It's something I'm trying to take into all areas of my life. My relationship, parenting, friendships...

I saw a magnificent example of excellence yesterday at my daughter's dance concert. Her teacher, Miss Heidi, always puts on the most excellent concert. The music, the choreography and the joy on the dancers' faces are all excellent. It's not perfect, costumes get caught in the curtains and they fail to open, the odd step might be out of place, but the sheer joy on everyone's face, from the three-year-old tiny tots, to the senior dancers is infectious. You know that they are trying their darndest to be excellent - and every single one of them succeeded.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

one upmanship

I don't know if it's a Leo thing, but I, and a few other leonine friends, have odd accidents. On three separate occasions I've had a small insect, probably a gnat, fly directly into my eye. It's disconcerting as you can watch it approach, seemingly in slow motion, and yet there's nothing you can do to stop it. You'd think that blinking, or turning your head would work, but no, the trajectory is actually at light speed, while appearing so, so much slower. I have also alighted from a car only to have the top of my ear catch on the corner of the car door. That smarts. 

You can guarantee that if some weird thing is going to occur to a human being it'll happen to me. Or my friend Nick. 

Which is why I knew that after breaking my ankle at my advanced age, he'd have to do something to top it. He has also had the ear/door connection thing - particularly impressive given his stature - nearly a good foot taller than me. The gnats in eyes? He's seen 'em coming plenty of times. So when he recounted a spectacular fall a few weeks ago on his blog (a grey area - see my list of buds to the side) I knew something would have to come of it. Yep, not just one measly break, but a few, in the ribcage. Honestly the things some people will do...

Friday, December 05, 2008

ritual habitual

I'm always trying to be a little more zen-like in my activities - particularly those repetitious chores around the house. That's why I'm soooooo looking forward to my backyard renovation completion, so I can return to one of my favourites.

I love, love, love hanging out washing. It's soothing and I'm good at it. In the past six months I've been either hanging on my clothes horse in the living room or (eek) in the dryer. I'm getting no satisfaction whatsoever from that. But soon I'll have an outside line again - whoopee. I adore standing in the sunshine, shaking out the clothes and pulling them flat before carefully hanging them and choosing contrasting pretty pegs to hang them. When bringing them in I shake and fold, so I never, ever iron a thing. Seriously, nothing - not even hubby's business shirts or my daughter's school uniforms. Nil.

So I cannot wait to christen my new outdoor line when it's installed. I don't know what kind it will be, but I'll be buying special, scented powder and may well wash my white, cotton sheets in lavender-scented water, before pegging them up with pale green or lilac pegs, and watching them shake and dry in the breeze.

addendum

I just thought I'd best clarify why I do so love me a bit of Posh Spice. 
1. She's hilarious and keen to have a laugh - while still never appearing to smile in public - that takes dedication.
2. She wanted to be a star and is happy to work at it. You'll never see Posh beating up a pap or hiding her face behind her Birkin.
3. She has a passion for fashion that goes above and beyond - I know that every single time I see her she's going to surprise or thrill me.
4. She's married to Becks - sigh.
5. She was in the Spice Girls.
6. She has an even greater dedication to heels than even me.
7. She stages perfect photo ops - working the media, rather than allowing them to work her.
8. Her boys are just divine - particularly when they break out in some seriously wicked dance moves on stage or courtside at a ball game.
9. Did I mention the whole David Beckham thing?
10. She's Posh...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

love/hate relationships

There are some people I adore, and nothing they ever do will change that. Dita Von Teese is one. Kate Winslett another. The Fug Girls, Posh Spice - ooooh yeah. Others I loathe and they'll be able to do not one thing to win me over - Heather Mills, Siena Miller... 

However, sometimes I jump ship. My husband assures me I haven't always idolised Victoria Beckham, whereas I will swear I've always wanted her as a best friend. But one person I've totally turned on is Rachel Zoe. Loathed her, now love her. She's bananas. I die. Yes, all those catch phrases I so despised in the lead up to the Rachel Zoe Project now spill from my mouth like pearls. I adore her, covet her wardrobe, love her hubby, am besotted with her assistant Brad... and all this is balanced out by my loathing of her ever-so-mean assistant Taylor. I will be bereft when the show finishes - where will I get my vintage and couture visual fix from? Certainly not my wardrobe (even though I have a hefty stock of vintage, it pales in comparison to Rachel's - le sigh...)

a tribute

bargain box

Ooooh, Christmas shopping. It's weird how something that should be so joyous can be so stressful. We did most of ours in a fast four hour hit last Saturday while our daughter had her dress rehearsal, but I just tried to buy one final pressie - and failed. It's a special game, obviously THE game of this Christmas, on-sale today at a special price, with added bonuses. So, being an astute bargain hunter I called the store yesterday to confirm it would be on-sale today, yes, and was waiting at 8.50am this morning for the doors to spring open at 9am. I then raced through with other bargain hunters to find... the game not on the shelves. After waiting in line with other avid parents, while sales assistants fruitlessly went from dock, to storeroom, to counter, etc for 30 minutes, before finally ascertaining that the special courier, with the special order, wasn't here. Grrrrrrrr. So I've left my name at the desk, and they'll call me when it gets in. Grrrrrrr. Then I'll have to find another pre-christmas parking spot, schelp through the store, and hopefully buy the darned thing.

Oh well, that's what I get for wanting to buy what is obviously the Hero Gift this season. I really should have left that one for Santa...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

seriously scentsual

Today, I didn't have any perfume at my desk so I dabbed some Agent Provocateur Tuberose Intoxication massage oil at my pulse points. Delish.

(Oh, and why the massage oil at my desk? Pressie from a PR of course!)

dizzy heights

Oh, how I miss my heels. On the weekend I tried on a beautiful pair of black patent sandals, with the most pencil-thin stiletto heel - and a platform at the front. Standing there, now much closer to six foot tall than five, I felt at home. Hopefully my husband took note of the yearning expression on my face and those shoes will find their way into my christmas stocking (surely if he's a smart man he'll be checking my blog for hints...non?)

I met a friend for lunch today, wearing flats. I felt I was doing our reunion an injustice. Even with lippy and a pretty lilac eyeshadow I didn't feel quite dressed up enough because my feet weren't at a Barbie angle.

However, it's our wedding anniversary next week and we'll be heading to the city's finest restaurant so my Manolos will be delicately lifted from their box and placed on my feet with a sigh. Surely that's the best possible way to reintroduce my feet to the joy of heels.

Monday, December 01, 2008

cherry cheer

Ah, the joys of seasonal eating. I'm sitting here, nibbling on cherries - perfectly presented in a pink ramekin - and plotting christmas pudding recipes. We're off to a friends in two weeks for a christmas do, and I volunteered to make the pud for 10 adults. I'm planning on making a sweet number that nods in the direction of a summer pud, but with a difference. I'm lining a big pudding bowl with slices of chocolate cake, that I'm going to drizzle with some liqueur - not sure which flavour yet... then I'm going to allow some really nice vanilla icecream to soften before stirring in raspberries, cherries, unsalted pistachios and shards of dark chocolate. I'll then fill the chocolate well with this mix, then top it with more chocolate cake, weigh it down and refrigerate. I'll take it out an hour or so before serving, so the icecream's not too hard. Invert it, slice it and serve it with a vanilla marscapone 'custard' - studded with more pistachios. Yummo.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

clean queen

My handy hubby fixed my vacuum cleaner yesterday and I'm rather thrilled. While I've been enjoying sweeping, from a purely meditative perspective, I have re-embraced my electronic cleaner. The dust, sand and grit in the house was almost overwhelming thanks to the various gaps in the house that allow it to enter during construction in the backyard, combined with mud and crud being trekked in on the bottom of our feet. However, a few rounds with the vacuum have seen my floors taken to a new level of clean and it's always astonishing how much a clean home can elevate my mood.

My moods are dramatically affected by many things; grey skies, seemingly overwhelming deadlines, tired and cranky children, my dodgy sleep patterns - and also, it seems, by a messy, dirty home. Alternatively blue skies make my mood soar, being organised enough to deal with deadlines makes me very happy, popping a child to bed early so she gets her beauty sleep is a tonic for all in the family, a night only broken by waking three to four times seems like bliss to me, and a clean, tidy home makes my heart sing.

Now when this is combined with the scents of tonight's meal cooking (bbq prawns and chorizo on salad), well, I'll be so giddily happy giggles and smiles will have to ensue.

Friday, November 28, 2008

belle fille

Emilie Simon not only has the most exquisite voice I've heard in some time, her face could launch a thousand sighs. I've just found out she has a new album, which I'm also adding to my christmas wish list. I adore The Flower Book, which includes the most amazing version of Iggy Pop's I Wanna Be Your Dog, plus many glorious french tunes to tickle your eardrums in the most delightful way. So I hope her new album offers half as much promise! PS. I do need an event to wear headgear as pretty as this little number.

la la love

Today I am madly in love with my new discovery. Admittedly, it's something that's been around for a while, but hey, I'm a luddite/late adaptor, so forgive me my sins. 

Because, from next year, I'm purely working from home on a freelance basis (hurrah, and yet, eek) I'll need to be super dooper megalooper organised. So I recalled someone mentioning Google Calender - could be Nick, or anyone else who wants to put their hand up for it... and I'm besotted. It's easy to understand, update and read - sends you lovely email reminders and is quite possibly going to be my number one organisational tool. Plus, there's no wasting of paper scrawling out to-do lists, I can't lose it and it satisfies the anally retentive side in me. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I just received an email reminding me that in one minute I'm to start researching another story. Toodles x

blissfully happy today because

My gorgeous friend Mel has just returned to Aus from the UK and we've just made plans to catch up. I adore Mel, and while I was thrilled that she had such an amazing OS adventure, the selfish side of me is giggling with glee that I'll be able to share her wicked sense of humour and contagious grin again. There may also be a catch up at our fave restaurant at some stage too - I do believe a plate of capitan prawns is calling our name...

oh, surprise

I always thought I'd love a surprise party. You know, coming home, friends leaping out, holding bottles of champagne aloft... But now I've realised I'm not a surprise kinda gal. I need time to mull things over and work out how I really feel. If I were 'treated' to a surprise party I'd probably spend a reasonable amount of time peeved with myself for not creating the right make-up look for the night - which would obviously take valuable time away from dancing which is just plain silly!

It's the whole backyard renovation thing that's made me realise how I just really don't adapt well to change. And that's been highlighted by the sudden changing of the sports uniform at my daughter's school. I need to be eased into things slowly. Firstly, I need to be made aware of the possibility of change - however small. Then, I need to be fed teeny, tiny snippets of information - one at a time - about the change. Then, after I've digested all of this, I may well be ready to contemplate it.

It's like the issue of becoming a meat eater after being vegetarian for 20-years thing. It took me a good 18 months of silent contemplation before I raised the issue with my husband. Then we needed to sneakily try a piece of chicken while our daughter was at school, then fish, then tell her... and then I dived back into carnivorous behaviour - with gusto.

See, chances are, that with a little preparation I will be an enthusiastic advocate of change. But I need to take dolly steps, not a gigantic leap with my eyes closed.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

shoe wow wa

Sorry the image is so teensy, but if it were huge it'd probably be too dazzling. I do so like this shoe of the week. Red patent always makes me smile, and I love the combination of the cutaway platform, the thick slingback and the buckle. Combined with deep, glossy purple toenails I'd probably never look up again.

splish splash

We're getting so close to the completion of our pool that I can almost imagine dipping my toes in the water. The majority of the tiling's done (and it looks amazing if I may say so) and we're just waiting for the renderers to come next week before they can lay paving, surface the pool and pop in our pool ladder. 

Of course, things like the pool house and the final landscaping won't be completed until probably around February sometime - but we can always pop an umbrella up there for a bit of shade in between splashes.

It's been a long journey this renovation thing - but once it's done we've got a lifetime to enjoy it.

scentsations

If I lost my sense of smell I'd be pretty darned devastated. Fresh scents make my day. The gardenia by my front stairs is currently covered in glossy white blooms and the fragrance is big, blowsy and utterly beautiful. I've mentioned before how I love my fleurs to look and smell pretty and it's days like today that I'm reminded of why. 

When spring is heralded by the sweet scent of jasmine and closed with gardenia's rich perfume - how can that not make you happy? I can also see that the 100+ year old frangipani trees next door (one of which comes onto our yard by a good metre and a half, so I see it down the end of the veranda from my study door) have tightly furled buds that will open and tickle my senses for the summer season. Bliss.

Add these to the various blooms of roses, lavender and orange blossom and you've got a garden of scented delights richer and more exquisite than any fine perfume. Le sigh...

Monday, November 24, 2008

frugal bugle

I've been having a think, and realised that I already do quite a few thifty things. So I thought I'd share them with you. The nice thing is, that as well as saving you money, they're often earth-friendly tips that help you become a little greener with each step.

1. Once a week have a 'pantry meal' where you buy absolutely nothing new but have to devise a meal out of whatever's in the cupboard, fridge or freezer. This could be a chore, but I like to turn it into a Masterchef Challenge to see what amazing dinners I can create with a few key items.

2. Extend your meat. Regular readers will know that I'm now a carnivore after 20 years as a vegetarian, and as such, can't bear to go a meal without meat. However, I will pad it out a little. Obviously fresh, seasonal veg is a cheap way to do so, but legumes are even better thanks to their high protein quota which helps keep you fuller, longer. Lamb and french lentils are the perfect pairing, but I'll also throw some chickpeas in with a curry, or add red kidney beans to a plate of spicy beef.

3. Switch off. Getting into the habit of turning off lights and non-essential electrical appliances (such as microwaves and DVD players) at the wall, it not only gives you a green glow - it cuts your energy bills by quite a bit too.

4. Halve it. Whenever I wash clothes, dishes or my hair, I halve the recommended size of the washing suds - that way, I only need to buy them half as often!

5. People power. Whenever possible these days I try to walk, rather than drive. The price of petrol is scary and I'd rather expel my own hot air than stinky fumes from my car.

food fight

Tough economic times, and a backyard renovation that's escalating in cost every second or so, are making me rethink my shopping budget. In winter it's easy to cook cheap and easy meals - as I do so love slow-cooked cheap cuts. However, in summer I spend most of my time firing up the bbq, and I've yet to work out an alternative to salmon or thick, organic steaks. Stir-fries perhaps? What's your best frugal tip for the food world?

salt and pepper

I'm a huge fan of salt - particularly Maldon, Murray River Pink Salt and the pretty grey french salt. And peppercorns, oh I adore them, couldn't make a meal without them. However, in my hair? Not so appealing. 

I've been dying my hair a glossy raven hue for more than half my life, but it's really starting to fight back now with the white hairs outnumbering the brunette, oh, by about a million to one. I'm sitting here now with my head fill of dye, showercap on, hoping the builders don't decide to wander past my study window and peek in - cos it's not pretty.

Touching up the regrowth every three weeks is an ideal I never attain, but what are my options? I've already stated that I'm only embracing the platinum on my 60th birthday - and I can't go lighter - can I? I love chocolate locks on others, and I'm sure it'd make the greys less Bride of Frankenstein obvious (hey, shouldn't that be Bride of Frankenstein's monster...) but I'm still a fan of being back in black. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

j'adore

At the moment I'm totally crushing on Dior. It all started with the new campaign featuring Marion and has escalated to dizzying heights. Therefore, I had no option but to feature these as my shoe of the week. I know it's late, so late that it actually qualifies as Saturday's Shoe, but I adore its simplicity and style. Glossy red toes, with a touch of sparkle, would beg to peep from these. Non?

book shelf

Obviously the grey skies have me in a cocooning frame of mind. Here's another book I'm just desperate to read. I am bewitched by Maggie Alderson. I pounce on her columns and avidly read her books over again. She has such a perfect tone. And look at this cover - it's perfection. I'm pretty sure that when she saw it her heart leapt with glee - as did mine. Hope my hubby's got a few ideas for my christmas stocking by now. Any gaps? Fill 'em with boxes from Tiffany & Co I would imagine...

pour moi

Here's another book that's making me sigh. I got my little hands on a copy last week (thank you Nicola xx) and it's bliss in hardcover. So many shoes to sigh over. I also found out that my favourite French red suede shoes (mary janes, with a double straps and a cute black heel) were made by Charles Jourdan - which is a pleasant surprise, but they're so comfortable and stylish I'm hardly surprised.

I was continually amazed at the level of experimentation in shoes going back to the 30s and 40s when there was some pretty avant garde stuff happening. If you see a copy snavel it up. In Aus the cover has a pretty pale pink champagne background which melts my heart and would look amazing on a glass-topped coffee table. If you're a shoe gal, this is a must-have.

wish list

For Christmas I've got a hankering for this book. I adore Tessa's book Apples for Jam, and think Venezia could float me back to the grand canal and the tiny, cobbled streets of Venice. Look at those scallops served in their shells - nature's provided the perfect serving dish and my mouth's watering in anticipation. Should I unwrap this little beauty I'm bound to hug it close to my heart, and yes, little claps of glee are bound to spring from my joy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

try hards

Yesterday I went with my daughter's class on an interesting excursion. She's in year 3, so it was a class of eight and nine year olds, and they went on a bus down to Sydney to Centrepoint Tower for a trip through the kitchens and coldrooms before heading to the restaurant for a buffet meal. The kids were rather interested in the massive pots of bones and vegies used for making stock and sauces, and by the sheer size of the vat used for boiling up the ravioli. I was curious to see how adventurous these children would be when confronted by a range of foods, and being allowed to pick and choose.

I'd expected that there'd be some adventurous eaters, but I guess that when you point out the chicken nuggets and fries, that's what most kids will load their bowls with. I must say I was impressed with my gal, who tried the salad leaves, a few king prawns, ravioli, spring rolls and a singapore noodle dish with glee. She also loaded up on some lovely rare roast beef and tried the kangaroo too. Obviously my adventurous eating's rubbing off on her!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

making me happy today

 Gardenia blooming by my front steps
• Friends popping in for morning tea
• Roses kissed by the rain
• Coffee in a pretty cup
• Ham and cheese toasted sandwiches
• Sheets swirling in the washing machine
• Fence posts ready to go in the ground - to create a nice high fence to hide the neighbour's house
• Giggling over funny bits on the Rachel Zoe Project (new obsession - and a serious one)
• Tom Ford's sexay perfume
• Tiles being laid in my pool, hinting at the icy blue water soon to follow

no boys allowed



Gentlemen, tune out now, 'cause you're not going to care for this rant. Ladies, may I have your attention. As a woman I've spent years being bemused by products being aimed at me. Lately it's the deodorant aimed at keeping your underarms pretty (seriously - do I CARE?)... But the most recent one is a doozy - tampons with wings, designed to catch stuff the others miss.

Um, I don't get it. Aren't tampons meant to be, well, you know, snug and stuff? How exactly are these wings going to help? 

You know what? I have to buy tampons, I'm not happy about it, but I do. I don't need a ridiculous, superfluous reason to buy them (that said, that tampon ad, with the beaver? Funny)

Wings? Fly back to the starting board buster, you need to try harder than that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

oh my

I do believe I'll be adding the December issue of British Vogue to my wishlist. While I'm not a fan of Kate Moss (call me a prude but I do believe that the only white powder a mother should use is talc) I do so adore Dior, tulle, cream and black, Karl, disco glam and ooh, the Tim Burton + Helena Bonham Carter shoot? Goodness gracious me. 

it's all about me... or maybe not

It takes some people a while to move from the egocentric toddler phase - you know, the one where they honestly believe the world revolves around them. Apparently it's taken me over 30 years. See I've always thought that if a salesperson gives me cruddy service, it's my fault. If I don't hear from an editor that I've pitched story ideas to, it's because my stories just weren't good enough. A friend doesn't seem friendly? Obviously I've done something to offend. Now, I finally realise, it's not all about me.

That salesperson could have had a fight with their partner that morning, or they're wearing poorly fitting shoes, or they just hate their job. The editor's flat out and has received over 100 emails that morning and the phone won't stop ringing. The friend's child has wet the bed again, another child has a fever and their husband's job isn't as secure as they'd hoped. Or they're just grumpy.

A more positive, optimistic frame of mind would help us all move through life easier. Obviously if you don't remember doing something to offend your friend, you haven't (or you need to revise your drinking habits). Thinking to yourself "This ALWAYS happens to me!" is the shortest route to assuring that crappy things will continue to be attracted to you. If you shrug, brush them off and move on, chances are things will be better tomorrow.

Change can often be a shock, but chances are it'll open your eyes to a whole new life.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

on ice

I don't know if it's my fridge, but I'm not good at freezing. No matter how well I wrap items, they seem to come out coated in ice crystals, freezer burnt, dried out and tasteless. Until recently, I've only had luck freezing vodka and limoncello (what's that you say about priorities?)

However, I know that a full fridge is an effectively running fridge, so short of stocking it with a range of flavoured vodkas (however tempting that may be...) I've found a few items that work for me freezer-wise. I keep rice in the freezer as I've found rice to be weavil's best friend. I can't abide larder moths, and have found since popping the flour into the freezer for a week, and storing my rice in there long-term, I've had nary a moth flutter in my face. I also store the grated cheese in the cold zone. I've found that pre-grated cheese tends to mould faster than the regular kind, but I don't use enough of it to justify using it before it turns a greenish hue. I'll also pop the ends of bread in the freezer in a big bag too, so they're nice and solid when I need to grate them for fresh breadcrumbs. I've also taken to storing the wrapping from butter in there, so when I need to grease a tin, I'll take it out and within a few minutes it'll be ready for spreading.

Oh, and there's always plenty of ice cubes in there of course... A vodka tonic needs a few cubes to clink against.

Friday, November 14, 2008

on the cards

We're going to a wedding this afternoon, and excitingly, I'll be wearing heels with my physio's blessing. I've got the pressie and the paper, but oh my lord - the cards! Now, there are plenty of lovely cards around at the moment for birthdays. Pretty, fun, tasteful... but for weddings? Zilch. The only card I found vaguely appealing was $10. Yes, $10 for a card. I'll pay that for a glass of champagne, but not for a card, that's just silly. Luckily I fell back on my old standby of a pretty floral card with a blank interior. I'd much prefer to add my own words than fall on the twee offerings of the card companies. I'll raise a glass to my lovely readers this afternoon, and promise to tread carefully!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

red hot

Making me smile today are these utterly adorable Betsey Johnson shoes. I love that woman, love what she does... and now need a pair of her heels. How perfect is the polkadot lining? I adore attention to detail and these are lacking in nothing. I'm also trying to ignore what I'm pretty sure is the most perfect thing I've ever seen - that little bow on the sole. Oh my...

model behaviour

Self-esteem and girls is a major issue. Speak to most adult women and they'll tell you they had major self-esteem issues as a teen - and some even as a pre-teen. There's a half a dozen reasons, or more, why this happens. Peer pressure, unrealistic images in the media... and your mother's attitude to her body and looks. 

I've always made it a point to never express any negative comment about my body - no matter how enormous or unattractive I may feel on any given day. Generally I'm pretty okay about it all. You know, my body holds all my organs in, my legs move me around, hands help me type... I scrub up okay, particularly with a smear of make-up. But I don't comment negatively about myself, or others, to my daughter. Hopefully this'll help her a little with her self-esteem. We also compliment her regularly on her intelligence, her sporting ability, her dancing - not enough to allow her to become deluded about her abilities - just enough. 

She's also got me as a role model for what a 41-year-old woman, who's had a child, looks like. She's seen my stomach and the rest of my body, and knows that this is normal - for me. So I pity Sunday Rose. In what I swear will be my final comment about Nicole Kidman (or She Who Must Not Be Named, Ever Again, Without Changing The Title Of This Blog To Nicole Kidman's Bad Plastic Surgery) what is Sunday Rose going to think when she looks back on pictures of her mum? She'll see what used to be a gorgeous red head, with a mass of curls, full cheeks, a normal nose and lips that tended to the thin side. Then, after Sunday's birth, she'll see a blonde generic glamazon with lips that now look like the love child of Angelina Jolie and Jamie Oliver. A girl will have to be pretty strong and well-adjusted to feel confident in her own looks, whether quirky or conventional, to overcome the impact of a mother who's constantly altering hers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

balancing act

In exciting news I went to my physio yesterday and have undergone a healing of miraculous proportions ankle-wise. I'm off crutches and able to drive again - two weeks early! Apparently I have the strongest ligaments he's seen in a while, which I must say is probably due to my flamingo impersonations. No, seriously, whenever I have to stand, I try to stand on one leg. I don't want to be one of those un-balanced senior citizens, so I've been studiously working on my balance for the past year and it's paid dividends with my speedy recovery. I mightn't be able to wear heels to the wedding on Friday (although I might, if they're tightly laced and my ankle's strapped...) but I'm free to leave the house which is a bonus. I make a mighty cranky shut-in.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

movement at the station

On the list of women I love I can now include Diane Lane. She's a touch older than me, and, happily, looks it. She's utterly gorgeous, and yet capable of expression - and it's so nice to see that hasn't stopped her from being cast in films - playing a sexy woman.

I read a piece by Mia Freedman the other day where she said she walked out of a screening of The Women and the serious plastic surgery on many of the leading ladies' faces had a fair bit to do with it. Acting's a subtle craft. A good actor has great intonation, knows how to manipulate their body to convey expression and most importantly, can reveal so much with a raised eyebrow or furrowed brow. Take away that ability to raise said eyebrow or furrow aforementioned brow and you're taking away a fair chunk of an actors ability to craft.

I've stopped buying a lot of magazines as I feel they don't respect my intelligence and seriously, if Hollywood doesn't lay off the fillers, lifts and jabs, I'm going to refuse to see some films. That's why tonight I'm going to see Nights in Rodanthe as it stars Diane Lane in all her natural beauty. That's also why, despite my love for all the films of Baz Luhrman, I am staying away from Australia - and am boycotting a large chunk of mags featuring plastic Nic in their pages. 

I really worry that with all this emphasis on surgery, kids these days are going to grow up without a sense of what's real. Will boys and girls expect that breasts are perfectly round objects that sit on chests like a  halved melon? Check out the cover of any men's mag - not a real breast to be seen - just these 'perfectly' spherical creations deigned as 'sexy'. 

While Hollywood and the media have always thrown out ideals of beauty that many of us can't fit into, at least they've been diverse and somewhat real. Now they're generic and totally unreal. When you spend a few minutes staring at a cover trying to work out is that her, or that other actress, or that model you know things are getting mighty similar. 

The only way to get them to stop, is for us to hit them where it hurts - in the bank account. Just say no to botoxed beauties in blockbusters.

Monday, November 10, 2008

manic monday

Oooh, some days are tough. Today's one. It's a monday, I had a touch too much champagne at a friend's house yesterday, the builders have come in today and have pulled down and are rebuilding the walls the bricklayers spent two days working on last week and blogger won't let me comment on my own blog. Rude!

Luckily, hangovers pass (especially when bacon's involved...), there are a half a dozen blokes out the backyard doing what one guy spent two days doing (poorly apparently) and I can state in my blog - "Yes Sara, I must borrow Big Fish on DVD as it was one of my favourite books - and if Marion Cotillard is in it it's now a must-see. And hey, is Ewan McGregor in that - or is that my hangover/fantasy self talking???" Obviously I can't change the fact it's a monday, and I can't drive for another two weeks or so, but I can put a positive spin on it. So here it is

Making Monday a Fun Day
Today I'm thankful...
That I don't have a plaster cast on my ankle
That I have lovely, utterly divine friends who care for me
That I have a husband I still love to bits and pieces
That I've been blessed with a very special daughter
That I have a roof over my head - and a very nice one at that
That I have fabulous readers who share so much with me
That I discovered a divine, cheap, French sparkling wine (Veuve Amiot... and you can always just say, "Would you like a glass of Veuve darling?")

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

masterchef and me

I'm not quite sure what I did before the food channel. Gastro-porn and me, we're like this (okay, a visual thing in a blog doesn't quite work - but you know where I'm heading don't you...) I've learned some pretty cool things thanks to the televisual chefs - which is handy considering the 20 years I went without cooking meat. There's a good "a-ha" moment most evenings, which makes me happy. 

I am obsessed with the english cook-off Masterchef and often spend half the program daydreaming what I'd make if I were one of the chosen few. The problem is that there's a strict time limit to most of the meals - and I'm a long, slow-cooking gal. Even if something only requires a brief introduction to a bbq plate, I'll have marinated it lovingly for up to 24 hours - a luxury nobody's afforded on Masterchef. 

However, today's challenge I'd have romped in. They needed to make an Italian-inspired meal and the primary ingredients were fresh tuna, fresh tomatoes and linguini - easy peasy. A light tomato sauce studded with olives, baby capers and basil would be wound through the al-dente linguine. Then, after lightly searing well-seasoned tuna, I'd fork chunks of the meat through the pasta and top it with chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Surely that's a winner...

le divine

Marion Cotillard won my heart with her portrayal of Edith Piaf. Then, her acceptance speech at the Oscars, where she said she was overcome with sparkles and fireworks turned my crush into abiding love. Now, as the face of Lady Dior - atop the exquisite Tour Eiffel - she's heartstoppingly magnifique. I'll buy whatever she's selling and That Bag? Oh I covet...

Friday, November 07, 2008

flat out

Surely if I must schlep about in flats for at least six weeks I deserve something like this. Manolo Blahnik was recently quoted as saying that most women walk like beach bums in flats and I must say I'm one of them. Heels add a whole new swivel to hips and give you showgirl pins no matter who you are. Flats are perfect for long-limbed gals, and I veer pretty dramatically away from that category. My aim is to do some pretty amazing things to my top half (hair in particular) for the next few weeks, so people's attention is drawn away from the flat footsies below. Surely Coco would approve...

vice regal

A little bit of vice can be quite nice. Surely the odd vice makes virtues shine even brighter. My vices are obvious to anyone who cares to note: champagne, shoes and gourmet morsels. I'm also partial to a spot of make-up and deliciously painted toes. These are nice vices. Nobody's hurt, I'm unlikely to be inflicted with a ravaging illness as a result (well, obviously that depends on the amount of champagne or cocktails consumed...) My other vice is that I'm also a not-so-sneaky viewer of trashy telly.

I swore that I would not watch The Rachel Zoe Project. I loathed so much about her - and particularly the way the show was promoted (With Zoe saying "That's Ahmahzing" in the most ridiculously affected manner I nearly threw a shoe at the TV screen). But of course, solitary confinement on a couch means there's only so many programs to watch and I sneaked a peek - and got totally sucked in. I'm in love with her mini-YSL assistant Brad. LOVE HIM. And her other assistant? Mean and cranky Taylor? Televisual gold. And her closet, O.M.G. her closet - it makes me die. The scary thing is though, that on the show she doesn't look skinny - which worries me, because I know she's damned thin. I also want to know what she did to turn her forehead from its Gordon Ramsay-esque wrinkled state to smooth, yet not botox-shiny and extreme. Fillers? Brow lift? It is quite magnificent. And her hubby? Cute, puppy Rodger? Love him too. How did I so quickly turn from loathe to love?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

relaxation under duress

Do you know what I've realised? I'm not very good at relaxing and doing absolutely nothing. I also loathe having to ask people to do ANYTHING for me. Which is a bit of a shocker when you literally can't do a great deal for yourself because you're on crutches. I'm trying to take it day by day, but as I can't drive for at least two weeks, I'm going to have to ask for favours - such as asking friends to drop my daughter home from school - not a real biggy, and certainly something I'd be pleased to offer in return, but still, it aches to ask.

Thankfully my physio has got me exercising three times a day, simple stretches and five minutes on the exercise bike. I was a bit worried that lying prone on a couch all day would see me cherry-picked from the house in a few months time. Tragically all this lolling around eating grapes hasn't helped me come up with any innovative blog entries, but I'm sure there are a few people nodding their heads at the old, asking for favours thing... Why is that? Is it an admission of incompetence? Am I scared of rejection? (surely not, my friends are adorable) Or is it just a simple hang-up from childhood that's hanging around despite repeated assurances it's just not wanted? 

Who knows, but I'm going to swallow my pride and send out an email calling for assistance. 

my achy-breaky ankle

Amazingly, I managed to get through 41 years - a lot of them sport-playing - without breaking a bone... until Monday night. Now I have a broken ankle, a broken right ankle, which means a lot of things. No driving, no real walking, no cleaning - and no HEELS!!! So not happy Jan. 

Thank goodness for a wide range of nail polish colours and a hubby who's going to be doing daily pedicures to keep me entertained. I'm already over Foxtel (aside from the aforementioned Northern Exposure - although it's been almost illegally light on Chris in the Morning sightings so far. Although when he's on.... sighhhhhh)

At least it gave me a chance to check out the US election coverage - and whoop in delight at the presidential result! I'll always have the answer close to mind when I'm asked "Where were you when you heard..." - laying on my couch! 

Off to pout and frown, in no particular order, they're just my standard facial expressions at the moment. Will be diving face-first into a vat of botox by the time I'm healed.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

hop-a-long pink patents

Ouch. I was playing netball last night and caused myself a high-heel aversion injury - yep, I've sprained my ankle. Badly. It's swollen and purply blue, but I hopped my way into the study for a quick update. I'm off to the physio and to get an x-ray later on - it made an awful crunchy sound and then a crack when I fell, which surely isn't a good sign... However, at least my hubby has to pay me back for the months of nursing I undertook when he busted up his knee. 

Thank goodness there's a new channel on Foxtel which screens Northern Exposure - yay! Before Aiden won my heart on SATC, there was Chris in the Morning. Le sigh...

Monday, November 03, 2008

negatively geared

I raise my hand in admission that I tend toward optimism. I'd much prefer to expect a happy outcome than a negative one. If someone approaches me with an idea, I'll listen to it happily - and may well take it on enthusiastically. And while years of doing things in a specific way have made me feel that I've got the right approach, if someone offers up an alternative, I'll give it a shot. Surely being of an optimistic, open-minded disposition rides on one's face better than negativity and suspicion.

Which is why I find it so hard to deal with people who are so dissimilar to me in this way. It was only recently that I read that we imbue other people with qualities we have ourselves and it's so true. For example, I can't tell a lie - not even a fib to save myself. So when it appears that someone's lying, I'm incredulous, and deeply hurt, that they'd do such a thing. And people who are eternally negative, constantly seeing and expecting the worst are almost an alien species to me. Sure, something bad might happen, so let's see what we can do to fix it. I don't believe in not trying something in case I fail - I'll try it in case I succeed. 

I'll go into anything with a smile on my face, and if I don't succeed, chances are I'll come out laughing, plotting an alternative approach that may well succeed - if not next time, then surely the time after...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

blooming marvelous

I love this rose. It's named after Gertrude Jeckyl and not only are the tightly petalled blooms ever-so-pretty, the scent is intoxicating. It's making me happy today.

Friday, October 31, 2008

boo!

Happy Halloween! Here are the spooky cupcakes I'm taking to the Halloween party tonight. I felt very Martha making them. The icing's a simple icing sugar, vanilla extract and warm water mix which is so glossy and pretty. I stuck the little ghosts' eyes (little bits of licorice) on with a dollop of icing and am very impressed. The spiderwebs were black icing, drawn on with a wooden skewer - while the spider were created from licorice too. 

While I adore the spookiness and kookiness of halloween it's also a time to remember our dead. So I'm going to spend the next five minutes thinking about those I've loved and lost - and will raise a glass to them later tonight. 

enough already

The poor retouchers at Parade must have been twiddling their thumbs when this cover came through. I know I hark on about it regularly, but Nicole - step away from the surgeon... The woman's my age, yet has skin like my daughter's and, strangely, looks like a hyper-lifted seventy-something. 

All the hype for the movie Australia can keep on twittering on, I can't think of a sum high enough that they'd have to pay me to see Nicole attempting to wring an expression from that frozen face of hers. 

It's a question I ask of all surgery addicts - can't they see themselves? Do they actually look in the mirror and walk away pleased? Why doesn't someone say something to them? And what are they going to look like at 60? 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

fade to grey

I'm besotted with shades of grey in clothing and now I've found these shoes my lust is reaching obsessive levels. They're from Aldo who like to surprise me with the odd gem such as these cuties. I adore the shape of that heel - very Prada-esque non? I have some birthday money still unspent - don't you think this would be a very wise way to dispose of those dollars? I could wear them with my deep blue ankle length gown I wore to the ball the other week, and I have a purple silk frock that would dance in delight if paired with such a pretty pair of heels. Okay, settled then, I'm off to Westfield on the weekend to indulge myself.

all hallows eve


We don't do a large-scale Halloween in Aus. It's getting more popular, but many still bah humbug it as an event. But the old goth in me LOVES it. So imagine my delight at being invited to a Halloween party tomorrow night. It's a couple of families, there's going to be hotdogs and severed fingers and eyeballs (lollies, of course) for the kids, followed by trick or treating in the well-versed street. My daughter and her dear friend are dressing as black cats, while I'm popping a witch's hat to cover my witch's mane! I'm making teeny cupcakes to take along - half decorated in orange icing with little black spiderwebs and a black spider atop, the other half iced in ghoulish green with little ghosts I'm intending on shaping from flattened marshmallows. Cute!

The drinks? Has to be Death in the Afternoon - the absinthe/champagne cocktail discussed in an earlier post. They'll go perfectly with my black fingernails. Mwaaaah ha haaaaa...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

accentuate the positive

When I'm in a grump there are normally a couple of things I can do to send my mood spiralling in an upwards manner.
* paint my nails - instantly uplifting
* step outside and pay attention to what nature's offering up today
* make a perfect cup of tea (so rare in my case that I do tend to applaud myself when I achieve it)
* sit back, close my eyes and let my memory revisit long-lost loves: my grandfather, nana and even a fondly-remembered pet or two
* plan a new eye-make-up scheme
* make one area of my home gleam with gorgeousness
* plot a dinner party and send out an invitation
* smear on some red lippy
* pop a flower in my hair - or in a teensy vase or tea cup on my desk
* dare to dream that if I wish hard enough, I'll be back in Paris again...

Monday, October 27, 2008

respondez sil vous plait

Is there some kind of email etiquette that I'm not party to? You know, the one where people feel they don't have to respond? It's a little like nodding on the end of the phone - you know you're doing it, but the person on the other end doesn't.

Because I've got a Mac, I can't seem to set my email to have a "read receipt" so unless somebody replies, I have no way of knowing if they've got my email, which can be a tad on the annoying side. 

That's my whinge for the day. I'll be off now. To email some friends who always reply!