Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy Anniversary Mum and Dad

Tomorrow (the 1st of September when I'm guessing most of you will be reading this) is my parent's 37th wedding anniversary and because I know they read this blog every morning, I wanted to use it to say Happy Anniversary!

They have spent more than half of their lives together and while they are very different people in many ways, they are also amazingly complimentary. They have gone through tough times that have only made them stronger, enjoyed the happy times all the more for being with each other and I don't think anyone can imagine one of them without the other.

I'm constantly told by people what an amazing couple they are, and over the years I've had more than one friend tell me they wish they had my parents.

So Mum and Dad, Happy Anniversary. I love you both!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Something new

Yesterday when I was at the market being stared at in my 1940's outfit, I bought a cute pair of earrings. They are absolute cheapies, but they are sweet and I think will get plenty of wear.

I wore them to work today. It is always a bit special wearing something for the first time and I'm not ashamed to say that my outfit was constructed to enable me to wear them. Ahhh the pleasure an $8 pair of earrings can bring.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Standing out in a crowd

Today I went to a screening of the film noir movie "The Postman Always Rings Twice". It was great, the storyline is preposterous, the dialog hilarious and everyone looks stunning.

To tie in with the look some of the attendees, including me, dressed up vintage style. I was in a 40's style outfit with my hair curled up into a pompadour style, adorned with a flower and bright red lips.

But prior to the movie, I caught up with friends at our local arts/crafts/food markets for lunch. It is the kind of place most people go in jeans and a parka, so I did standout somewhat. There were a few sideways glances, one full on stare, a few random comments and lots of smiles - it was fun. There is nothing like doing something a little random that makes other people smile.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Aunty Sue

This beautiful rolling pin is from my Aunty Sue. It is nice cool marble so will roll pastry just beautifully.

I'm lucky enough to have had some wonderful people in my life, and Aunty Sue is a very special one. She isn't a relative, she's my Mum's best friend, but she is as much a part of our family as any blood kin.

When my sister and I were small she would make us the most wonderful dress-up costumes. Pink tutus, long net skirts, even little mop caps and long dresses for the bicentennial Australia Day celebrations in 1988. I remember being incredibly jealous of one skirt my sister got. It was two layers of different blue tulle with sparkly ribbon attachments. I got a different one with an overskirt of ribbons, but it just wasn't as great as the sparkly skirt. However when I was 11 she did make me the most wonderful dress, a black long sleeved top with a v back (!) and 3 layers of electric blue ruffles for a skirt. It was the most marvelous dress. To this day I have a beautiful patchwork blanket on my bed that Sue made me for my 21st birthday.

Sue and her partner David were also important guests at our Christmas Eve celebrations. We do the European thing of celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve complete with presents. In order for Santa to get a chance to put the presents out, after dinner Sue and David would take my sister and me out for a walk around the street looking for Santa. David was particularly creative. I remember crouching down with him, his cigarette lighter outstretched checking for Santa in the storm drain. What we though Santa might be doing in the drain I'll never know, but they kept us thoroughly entertained in our search until presents had arrived.

They lived on a farm out at Womboin and many an enjoyable day was spent out there, attempting to catch yabbies, or just exploring. It was always a good day when we got to visit Sue and David.

As we grew up, Sue in particular was always a guest at the important occasions of our lives, birthdays, housewarmings, etc. It just wasn't right without her there. Most recently Sue was a very important guest at my sister's wedding. She was there with us as we all got ready, and was Mum's support person throughout the day.

Her rolling pin now sitting in my kitchen. Just a little thing that every day will make me think of her and how lucky I am to have had Sue in my life. Special people who love us just for who we are don't come along every day, and they are to be treasured for the wonder that they are.

Friday, August 27, 2010

REAL puff pastry

I know I've written before about the wonder that is The Flute bakery, but today I had another sample of its delights (and you will note, once again, no photo, everything got eaten too quickly).

I ventured out again to retrieve afternoon tea for the office. This time we indulged in milk chocolate and vanilla bean mousse cake on a hazelnut praline base - yes it was as delicious and as attractive as that sounds.

But what I'm really here to rave about it the wonder that is The Flute's puff pastry. Given I had trekked out early in the morning I thought I would treat myself to a pear galette. Can I just say, I don't think I've ever had something that could compete with the light, flakey, buttery yet crispy wonderourness that was that puff pastry. Topped with pear that was sweet and almost creamy in texture, it was a sensation - a $3 sensation! Gosh I'm glad it is a trek to get there, if that was close my waistline would be in serious trouble.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lucky Numbers

Do you have a lucky number? Mine for some random reason is 15. No idea why, just somewhere along the way I picked it.

But the number 8 in chinese culture symbolises fortune and good luck and that sounds good to me, so 8 is my other good luck number. When I see it in something, I expect good luck will be following soon.

Which brings me to today's post. Today is the 26th, so if you add the digits, that adds to 8 and this is my 88th post! So all in all, it must be a very lucky post and today must be a lucky day! I think I might by myself a Powerball ticket. Unfortunately it doesn't quite fit the pattern, there is only $6 million up for grabs, but I will satisfy myself with that anyway.

If you don't hear from me tomorrow, I will be off on some luxury beach!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My family

Today, I'm feeling especially appreciative of the wonderful relationship I have with my family.

A friend is having a fight with her Mum. In talking to her, other people began to relate the stories of the terrible fights they have had with their families. Being banned from family events, not talking for days or weeks, shouting and grudges and general unpleasantness.

It made me realise just how inordinately lucky I am. I am proud to say, I have never had a big family fight. Ok, as teenagers there might have been the odd incident of tears and slammed doors, but I have always known, without a shadow of a doubt that I am absolutely loved and if I needed them, they would immediately be there. No matter what tough times have arisen, we have faced them together. We are honest with each other, loyal and love each other.

While I've always known my family isn't the norm, it does saddened me a little to realise that so few people have had the same wonderful experience as I have. And it just makes me all the more thankful for the wonderful people who are my parents and sister.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore!

Tonight the moon is a big silver pie, floating high above a ribbon of clouds. It is super bright and illuminates the landscape with that beautiful silver glow of moonshine.

A full moon and clouds is such an evocative sky, romantic nights or vampires, warewolves and tropical cruises. And tonight is one of those great ones. Hope you enjoyed it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

King Parrot

I think we are super lucky in Australia with our beautiful birds. This morning as I walked the 40m from my car to the office I saw crimson rosellas, galas, a cockatoo, a couple of magpies and brighter than all the rest, a pair of King Parrots flying around.

King parrots just seem over the top with their red and green feathers. Really, how outrageous do they look? I love watching them and to see such beautiful wildlife in the middle of the city is a real joy.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yum Cha

Yum Cha is one of my favourite things. It isn't just the food which is brilliant, it is also because for me yum cha is something I do with my family. There are another two families we are close with and we often form a big group and go, which is fab because you get to try lots of different things, but I really love it when it is just my family.

Today it was just my sister, Mum and Dad. We had a wonderful meal and a really relaxed lovely catch up. After we even went shopping together for awhile. Really it was a perfect Sunday activity.

Oh and the cheesecake from yesterday was as good as it looked. Here is the recipe:

Blueberry Cheesecake

125g butter
1 cup (100g) rolled oats
100g wheatmeal biscuits, finely crushed
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar

375g light cream cheese
100g fresh ricotta cheese
1/3 cup (90g) caster sugar
1/2 cup (125g) sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
1 tablespoon plain flour

250g blueberries
3/4 cup spreadable blackberry jam
1/4 cup cherry brandy

Base: Brush a 20cm round deep springform tin with meted butter or oli and line the base with baking paper. Melt butter, add in the oats, biscuit crumbs and mix well, stir in sugar. Press half the biscuit mixture into the base of the tin and gradually press the remainder around the sides about 3/4 the way up, using a glass to firm it into place. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat oven to moderate 180.

Filling: Beat the cream cheese, ricotta, sugar and sour cream until smooth. Beat in the eggs, orange rind and flour until smooth. Put the tin on a flat oven tray to catch any drips, pour filling into the crust and bake for 40-50 minutes until the filling is just set. Remove from the oven but leave in the tin to cool.

Topping: Scatter the blueberries on top of the cheesecake. Sieve the blackberry jam into a small pan with the brandy. Stir over a medium heat until smooth and then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Carefully brush or spoon over the blueberries. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight until well chilled.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Tonight I'm going to a cheese party - yup a whole night dedicated to worshiping at the alter of that wonderful creation cheese. There will be blue cheese, camembert, brie, goats cheese, edam, cheddar, fetta, not to mention the baked cheese and fried haloumi.

I love cheese - although I draw the line at cheese with "additives" ie herbs or fruit, there is nothing appealing about apricot cheese to me. But tonight should be superb, a crazy amount of cheese, good friends, great wine and maybe even the election on in the background.

To top it all off I've made this blueberry cheesecake. I hope it tastes as good as it looks. I've never actually made a cheesecake before, but this is the tried and tested recipe of one of my colleagues. If it really is that good I will post the recipe.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A little luxury pampering

Oh the luxury. You know when you have had a long hard week and you need something to look forward to? Well in an hour, a couple of girls from the office and I are going to get our hair washed and blow dried.

It isn't like we have a special dinner or anything to go to - although I am catching up with a friend which is special and it is always nice to look good for ones friends - it is more about the relaxation element.

I find having my hair professionally washed, especially with the head massage that comes with it, is one of the most luxurious things in life. And then to have it all beautifully blow dried, I will head out the door feeling all set for a great weekend. A little spoiling of oneself every now and then is a worthy thing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The fair green veil of spring

Winter has really hit in the last couple of weeks, with icy wind, showers, cold days and even colder nights. But beneath it all, spring is stirring.

I've written about the daffodils and the wattle is out in full glory, but this morning as I drove along, I noticed a distinct green flush to the willows by the lake. It isn't leaves yet, just the branches must have the sap flowing and the leaf buds are starting to swell.

There is a beautiful description of the arrival of spring in "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett:

And over walls and earth and trees and swinging sprays and tendrils the fair green veil of tender little leaves had crept, and in the grass under the trees and the gray urns in the alcoves and here and there everywhere were touches or splashes of gold and purple and white and the trees were showing pink and snow above his head and there were fluttering of wings and faint sweet pipes and humming and scents and scents.

Every year when the trees start to get that green glow I think of that passage and the beautiful description of a fair green veil and smile at the thought of the beauty of spring, just around the corner.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Political Satire

For those not from Australia, you may not be aware that we are currently having an election - possibly one of the most boring elections on record. Voter apathy is huge and while I'm generally pretty into keeping abreast of political developments I've found myself nodding off at times.

Depending on who you are supporting we are standing up or moving forward. It all sounds very action filled but really this is an election that has failed to captivate.

Still, it has resulted in some good political satire. Saint Paul's Letter to the Electorates has been amusing me for several weeks now. And just today I was directed to Australian Politics: A Harry Potter Primer. I have laughed out loud reading both of these - which probably gave away the fact that I wasn't working to my colleagues.

Thank god for some humour being directed into this election. If you too are feeling a bit over the election, check these out, they may revive your enthusiasm - well for satire if nothing else.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A walk on the quiet side

It is a beautiful Canberra winter day - you know how much I like those - and I took advantage of it by meeting up with my friend A and going for a walk with her and her 5 week old little girl. We walked, I pushed the pram, we gossiped and caught up on all the news. It was lovely in the crisp winter air but with the sun beating down.

Just a lovely interlude in the day to enjoy friendship, sun and liberty!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Impromptu Piano Duet

How cute is this video?


According to the email I got, they have been married 62 years and the gentleman is just about to turn 90.

I bet that they made this up as a party trick when they were just young 'uns and all these years later it is still giving people absolute joy to watch.

My aunt sent me the link with the subject line "This WILL brighten your day" and you know what, it sure did!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Singin' in the rain

Well actually walking - my singing isn't anything that is going to make anyone smile!

Today we had that very light misty rain. It might be a little cool but I love the feeling as it settles on your face, something like a very natural facial.

To be honest, getting soaked in the rain probably wouldn't be high on my list of favourite things, but I've had some amazing times in the rain. A brilliant Midnight Oil concert, complete with thunderstorm (lightening and the Oils are an excellent combo). Dancing in the warm summer rain in a Paris courtyard. The U2 concert which they could have postponed but instead added in lyrics about the rain. Touring the Iguazzu falls in Argentina as wet as if we had been standing under them. Somehow in each case the little extra discomfort made the experience all the better.

So while my hair may now be doing the frizzy thing, each time I get caught in the rain, it reminds me of all those other wonderful experiences.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Wow, I've written quite a few blogs about food this week, well here is another one!

Tonight we went out for Japanese. I love Japanese food. It is fresh, clean and focused on pure flavours. We had assorted sushi and sashimi tonight and it was just stunning. Usually the tuna is my favourite but tonight the salmon was particularly beautiful, it just melted in your mouth. And the salmon roe nori rolls were also excellent. The texture as the roe pops is great.

It was a fantastic meal, but apparently all too healthy because we then went on and had dessert at Koko Black. What a lovely evening.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Random Compliments

Do you ever just randomly compliment someone? I do, and you get some funny reactions, from delight to people weirding out. But still I think if someone looks lovely, or does something nice, or anything else like that, it is really nice to comment on it.

That said, I must admit I'm not brilliant at accepting compliments. Somehow I always feel like there is a "but" coming or the person has an ulterior motive. Problem of growing up in a girls school where ulterior motives were de rigure I think, but I'm working on accepting them at face value. I mean, even if they have some other reason for saying it, I might as well get to enjoy the compliment!

I'm thinking of compliments because today I got a lovely one, quite randomly and out of the blue. It wasn't about anything important really, but the fact that someone took the time to send me an email is just touching. It reminded me how nice it is to get a compliment and I'm going to focus on it again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sorry Tom - Mum's cooking a lamb roast

Tonight Mum is making a lamb roast. I do love a lamb roast, I went overseas for 7 weeks last year and it was my request for my first dinner home.

But the mention of a leg of lamb still often makes me think of that famous ad with Naomi Watts turning down a dinner with Tom Cruise in favour of her Mum's lamb roast. It must be getting on for 20 years old now, but it was just so memorable. In the early 90's there was little more shocking than turning down a date with Tom Cruise (how times have changed), however everyone kind of understood it - you just can't beat a roast!

The only question that remains is who in the family will get the lamb shank and will there be enough left over for Mum's famous shepherds pie. It is soooo much better than any other shepherds pie, so in case you have leftovers from a roast lamb, recipe follows:

Best Ever Shepherds Pie
  1. Blind bake a shortcrust pastry base.
  2. Fry an onion, add diced up left over leg of lamb and some chopped parsley (optional). If you have extra gravy add it in.
  3. Put lamb mixture in the pie base and top with mashed potato. Bake till the potato is golden brown.
  4. Serve hot with some peas.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hot Chips

I try to eat healthy most of the time, but every now and then you need to break out for a treat of junk food. For lunch today I treated myself to hot chips with vinegar. It is cold and wet today, so a plate of steaming chips was in order! They were perfectly hot, salty and just yummy. A great treat.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dinner with Mum

Tonight I had an impromptu dinner with my Mum and it was a really lovely evening.

I have the best Mum in the world - and I'm not just saying it because I know she reads this blog (hi Mum!) but really because I just can't imagine a better one. We are very close, we talk at least once a day, have family dinner at least once a week and often do things together. But tonight's impromptu nature was particularly lovely.

Mum has been very busy helping a sick friend, so she asked me to feed the dog on my way home tonight. I ended up being a bit late and Mum got home a bit earlier than expected, so we sat down for a glass of wine and a chat. In the blink of an eye several hours had passed. We talk about life, the universe and everything. I know lots of people who fight with their parents, or can only get together in small doses, so to have a Mum who I can talk about everything with and with whom I really love to spend an evening is an absolute joy.

So thanks Mum, tonight was brilliant.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The first bulbs of the year

This morning I opened my living room curtains and spied a little patch of bright yellow brilliance - the first daffodils of the season.

They are by no means the first daffodils in Canberra. The unseasonably mild winter has encouraged bulbs and blossom trees across the city to get in on the act early. I imagine it must be playing havoc for the poor gardeners at Floriade which is still a month away.

But I was a little late in getting my bulbs in the ground this year, so they are the first in my garden. They are actually mini daffodils, just a bit larger than a jonquil and very sweet. The photo is what they look like, not actually my garden because while I happily stood enjoying them from the window, it was freezing out there this morning!

I love the emergence of the spring bulbs. They arrive a little before the warm weather, just as winter feels like it has been dragging on forever and remind you of the warm days to come. Next up should be the bluebells (appallingly named as mine are also white and pink), I will keep you posted.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Shoes, glorious shoes

You may have noticed I am pretty fond of shoes. Today I had a shoe party. What is a shoe party I hear you ask. Well imagine a Tupperware party but replace storage with shoes!

Not only that but when you choose your shoes you get to pick what leather they are made in. So I got to spend a fab afternoon sourrounded by some of my gorgeous friends, a great afternoon tea and more shoes than you can poke a stick at.

I did make that cake from the front of Gourmet Traveller, although half height. Honestly how do you eat a 4 layer cake? There were also scones, finger sandwiches, brownies and my lovely sister made very yummy little quiches. It was a lovely afternoon and best of all in just 5 weeks I will have two new pairs of custom made shoes to enjoy!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Legs trump ribbons

This blog's title is brought to you by my lovely dance partner, Mister M.

Tonight we went to see Tango Inferno. If you like dance, tango in particular, and have the opportunity to see them then do. They were absolutely spectacular. The whole show was just inspirational for a newbie tango dancer, if I could be 10% the dancer those people are I would be thrilled.

Anyway, for the half hour prior to the show audience members were invited on stage for a milonga. A milonga is basically the tango equivellent of a dance party. Mister M and I jumped at the opportunity. We made our way on stage, had a couple of dances, changed partners a few times, then as there were more women than men up there I found myself sitting out - just as the pros came out on stage!

The next thing I knew one of them was asking me to dance! It was very cool. As a baby tango dancer I didnt keep up that well but it was a thrill. It was only after the dance had finished that I found out the pros were only meant to ask the experienced dancers who were marked out with a red ribbon on their lapel! Apparently according to Mister M my very short skirt and long legs on display had been more inviting than a red ribbon!

I do feel bad for the experienced dancers who missed out but what an absolute thrill for me.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Trying something new

This blog was to be accompanied by a picture of a cake - unfortunately the team in the office ate it too fast!

You know how it is when people rave about some place and you mean to go but never get there? For ages I've been told how fantastic the Flute Bakery at Fyshwick is. For those not native to Canberra, Fyshwick is an industrial suburb. It is full of factories, plumbing suppliers, furniture stores and (being Canberra) a wide variety of adult and XXX outlets. But in the midst of this is a fantastic french bakery.

People rave, so today as I had to be in the area, I stopped in and bought afternoon tea for the team. It was a passionfruit meringue pie. It looked spectacular and tasted even better. As I mentioned, it was swiftly gobbled up as even those on diets abandoned them for a Friday afternoon sugar hit.

But I have managed to secret away these gorgeous little macaroons. Have you noticed the macaroon craze that seems to have hit lately. Well I'll admit it, I've never had one. The Flute had a wide variety so for dessert tonight I have chocolate cherry and raspberrry vanilla to try.

The other delicious offerings on display had me very glad that they are a long way from my usual haunts and are not open on the weekend - regular visits would not be good for my waistline!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Old photos found ...

Today we were having a discussion in the office about spray tans - yes we work very hard, but you need moments of lightness and in an engineering based company the girls need to have those chats sometimes. Anyway, I was looking for a photo of myself from a friends wedding where I was a little on the orange side of tan to show what happens when they go bad. I couldn't find it, but I did come across these lovely photos I took a few years ago.

They are from the reserve land behind my parents house and are from what is probably my favourite time of day, that time between bright sun and night, where the light seems to get warmer, even as the day cools and everything glows in the late sun.

I actually remember taking these photos quite well. It was quite cool, but there was a little smoke in the sky which gave the sun that particularly stunning orange colour which all of us who live in bushfire prone areas know so well. There was no breeze and the colours were so vivid I just felt the need to rush out the back with the camera. It was lovely coming across these by chance, beautiful memories.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Skinny Mirrors

Do you remember that Seinfeld episode about skinny mirrors? They made out that they are terrible things, forcing Elaine to buy ugly dresses. Well my dance school has skinny mirrors and I think they are brilliant.

Ok, skinny mirrors in shops are a bit deceptive (one store in Canberra has fat mirrors which I consider a bit crazy and wonder if they realise) but skinny mirrors in a dance studio where you might not be feeling entirely confident are brilliant!

I'm not what you would describe as "big". Tall - yes, but reasonably slim, so looking in a mirror doesn't worry me, but I still love those mirrors. I find I get a little caught up in my suddenly slim frame. It is quite likely that if I was that skinny, my organs wouldn't fit in still, when I'm watching myself have an unco moment in class, at least I'm looking good while I do it!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A day for the birds

Well it is August and winter has finally arrived, with cold wind straight off the snow, icy showers and freezing nights - just don't tell the birds.

Everywhere I see birds preparing for spring. There are the magpies and currawongs carrying ridiculously long twigs to weave into their nests, the fairy wrens are bright blue in their female wooing best and the rosellas are seeking out tree hollows.

Next to our office is a big old abandoned building. It is prime real estate so no doubt it will soon become a flash modern office building, but for now, the rosellas seem to have taken it over. Most mornings as I walk past you can hear them twittering away, but this morning, one particularly bold little guy was sitting on the hand rail just next to the footpath. He was just lovely, chatting away to his friend higher up the wall investigating entry points.

I think it is such a privilege to have nature so close on a daily basis, I do love to watch the birds, so this little guy made my day.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Snow on the mountains

Canberra is a beautiful city, but one of my favourite times in the city is Winter. I just think the starkness of the empty branches against crystal clear skies, or the early morning sparkling frost, or the blur of scenery through fog are all gorgeous.

Today we woke up to snow on the Brindabella's (the mountain range behind Canberra) for the first time this year. These photos are actually from a couple of years ago, but they give you a good idea about how lovely it looks. It may be a cold, crisp day, but with views like this, who would live anywhere else?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A good worn out feeling

I've spent the last few days dancing - at dance parties, workshops and practica. After all of that my body is worn out. Tired and achy but in that great way that you only get after a load of excellent physical exercise.

I have a fairly demanding job so my mind is often tired but to feel this physically worn out is a rare thing so I'm quite enjoying it and looking forward to a good nights sleep.

When the dress fits ...

Tonight was a fantastic charity dance event I'm involved with - Stomp. It was a great night. I had heaps of fun dances, did a tango performance with my wonderful partner and got to hang out with all my friends. To top it off I think we actually raised quite a lot for charity.

But as good as that all was, I can't help feeling pretty happy at how many people said I looked great - in my year 12 formal dress. Year 12 was quite a long time ago so I think it is pretty brilliant that it stilll fits and what foresight I had as a 17 year old to pick a dress that over a decade later is still fashionable! So yes I'm being completly self congratulatory but when all is said and done an ego boost every now and then is a great thing.