Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Frocktober Finale

So Frocktober is officially over! It has been 31 days of cold ankles, inappropriate work wear and fear of windy days. But it has also been a month filled with the most amazing support.

From the girlfriends who lent me their dresses, to all the kind comments on Facebook, not to mention the donations of money, I just couldn't have imagined how phenomenal this experience would be.

I started Frocktober with the hope that I would raise a bit of money, but as of this morning I had raised over $2,000 for ovarian cancer research. I feel extremely proud that I've been able to do my part but I also feel so loved by those around me, it has just been a brilliant experience.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My productive garden - part 2

I've written before about the joy of my productive garden, how it provides me with fresh ingredients for my cooking. But it also provides stunning ornament for my home.

Look at this vase of roses, fresh from my garden. This week I've also been able to give my Mum a big bunch and the bushes are still covered. There is nothing like having garden fresh flowers in the house to give a room a lift and really announce that the warm weather is here.

Another day, another inappropriate dress

So while yesterday I was getting in touch with my 60's housewife, today I went looking for my inner Greek goddess. Long ago at the start of Frocktober I promised that should I be successful in reaching my goal of $1,000 I would wear a formal gown to work.

Well I reached that milestone by my birthday and ever since the debate has raged over which dress should be worn. Votes were solicited, counted and the tally was in favour of a red goddess number with black sequined collar by Matthew Eager.

It is such a long dress I need to wear very high heels with it which meant I also had to be careful of such things as catching it in the wheels of my desk chair or sweeping past the kitchen where goodness knows what had been spilt on the floor.

Still I had another marvelous day sweeping about the office. There is just something about unusal attire that makes the day enjoyable.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A touch of madness

Today when getting dressed for work I decided to channel Betty Draper. For those not familiar with her, she is the gorgeous wife of Don Draper, the central character in Mad Men.

Small and petite, she has perfectly coiffed hair, full skirts and immaculate makeup.

So I took a simple grey dress, added a voluminous red petticoat (styled to allow a bit peaking out the bottom of my skirt), red shoes and a cardi. I've swished about all day, getting fantastic compliments along the way. It has been lovely, I think I need to channel Betty more often.

The picture is Betty, I'm not quite that polished!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Woo Hoo, Wednesday Lunchtime

Being a blogger, I like to read other blogs too. I really appreciate the enormous amount of effort and time people invest in their little online treasure troves and it inspires me to work harder on mine (I think it may get a new look when I have some time over Christmas).

There are heaps I like, but one of my favourites is a little bit more like a weekly newsletter of funny stories than a real blog (sorry Tony, I know you take your role as "blogger" very seriously). Anyway, the blog in question is The Scrivener's Fancy.

Described as "lowbrow commentary in elegant surrounds" every week it contains 4 articles written by Tony Martin, Avril Rolfe, Matt Quartermaine and a guest writer. They are usually stories based on the minute of life, written from a comedian's point of view and without fail, I enjoy them every week. It is published on a Wednesday.

So despite the temptation to put off my work and just straight online each Wednesday, I save it up as a special treat to enjoy over lunch. It is great, an excellent lunchtime read and the perfect way to mark the middle of my week. And it is surprising how often they relate to me! For example, after wrestling with the BigW DVD scanner today, it was highly amusing to come back and read Tony Martin's article on the same topic.

So if your mid-week needs a lift, give it a go!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

First impressions

So today I've been putting smiles on a lot of other people's faces.

I decided I needed a water bottle on my desk, I'm just not drinking enough of the good stuff. But I'm not a fan of plastic, so I wanted a glass bottle and it occurred to me that a Bombay Sapphire bottle would be perfect - they hold quite a bit of liquid, are nice and solid and best of all are an attractive blue colour.

For those of you not familiar with Bombay Sapphire, it is a very nice gin, one of my favourite tipples! Of course water looks much like gin, particularly when in a gin bottle, which makes it appear that I'm swigging my way through glass after glass throughout the day.

The significant pauses that have been made as people stop to evaluate just what is happening at my desk, have kept me amused all day!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tip of the day

Don't you just love a time/money/effort saving tip?

Today I discovered that hairspray works just as well as any kind of anti-static spray for clothes. My inappropriately clingy skirt has been dealt with and is now floating gently around my legs rather than adhering suggestively to my rear end.

Other recent discoveries have included: vodka in the water will keep tulips from drooping, don't store your cucumbers with apples, pears or stone fruit as they will go off quicker and if you have an open bag of potato chips, store them in the freezer and they stay fresh (just need to give them some time to go back to room temperature).

Don't you just love a good tip?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Food and friends, a good combo!

On Sunday nights I like to cook for friends. Cooking a nice meal for people I love is one of the best things in the world.

Tonight I made this chicken cacciatore with baked potatoes and brocolini. It was delicious and filled my friends up with yummy (and healthy) food. A glass of wine, good food and fun friends, a perfect way to wrap up the weekend.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A tango, a scavenger hunt, pancakes and flowers

I know this is repetitive, but I really have the best friends.

Things have been super busy and a little crazy recently, so my flatmate - Gorgeous A - decided to spoil me and her boyfriend, who happens to be my best friend and dance partner and who has also been flat out with work.

First she organised for us to have a dance studio to ourselves for an hour. We have both been so busy we haven't had much time to dance recently. We didn't do anything training like, just danced and enjoyed the opportunity.

Next she sent us on a sort of treasure hunt. We were sent to the pancake parlour to find Paul. He seated us, presented me with flowers and then food and drinks arrived! Gorgeous A had organised it all, right down to knowing the perfect things to order us. I think it did confuse the staff somewhat that Mr M's girlfriend had organised it for the two of us but it was wonderful.

Stuffed full of delicious food, Pancake Paul arrived again, now bearing movie tickets, but we decided that we would prefer to go with Gorgeous A, so wrapped up and went to find her.

It was such a lovely unexpected morning, I really enjoyed it. I am so lucky to have people who would go to that effort in my life.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oh my, I've got a very full tummy

My Mum sure can cook. She can create a feast, there is no doubt about it and when it comes to a special occasion like a birthday, she goes all out.

Tonight was an early birthday dinner for my brother-in-law and that means the traditional birthday dinner - roast duck with dumplings and red cabbage. Is your mouth watering yet, let me describe it in a little more detail.

Mum has perfected the art of roasting a duck. She produces crisp skinned, succulent meat where the fat has melted away (but is reserved to fry potatoes in later) leaving just juicy, duck perfection. She takes the drippings and turns it into rich gravy which we pour over potato dumplings and red cabbage till they are infused with that ducky goodness.

It is the kind of meal where you end up picking up your duck bones to crew every last morsel off, where plates are scraped (and licked when no one is looking). It is a meal where you eat till you are full, then eat a bit more because it is just so good.

And when you think you may explode, the chocolate mousse arrives.

What a meal, thanks Mum it was brilliant.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vampire Attack

I saved three people's lives today - yup, you got that right, three people! And I did it by sitting in a chair and I got rewarded for it with a chocolate milkshake.

Yes, I gave blood. It always makes me feel good, well not literally, it usually makes me feel a little light headed. But it gives me that good feeling that I really am helping people.

For anyone who hasn't done it, give it a try. I'm terrified of needles, but I make myself go to help me get over that fear and because your donation really does save lives. And there is nothing like starting your day with a bunch of people thanking you - the donor staff are brilliant.

So go on, let the vampires have a go and donate blood today!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reliving a childhood breakfast

I'm a weetbix girl. 2 every morning, soaked in milk so they are nice and mushy (I know people eat them crunchy, but I think they are saliva suckers if you leave them like that) and they keep me going till my mid morning cup of tea and piece of fruit.

But a couple of weeks ago I had to make chocolate crackles, so this morning I had the leftover rice bubbles for breakfast. They definitely didn't fill me up for hours like the weetbix, but boy was it an entertaining breakfast!

It has been so many years since I had a bowl, I had forgotten just how loud that snap, crackle, pop really is! I kept stiring them under the milk to keep it going. And the texture sensation that is a rice bubble - honestly, they are food brilliance.

So while I was more than ready for the staff morning tea, it was a fun breakfast and trip down memory lane.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Scent of a ... tree?

At lunch today I ducked out of the office for a breath of fresh air and some time away from the computer screen. It is easy to head into the office in the morning, then look up and discover the day has slipped away, so whenever possible I like to sneak at least a 10 minute walk around the block into my day.

Today, as I rounded one corner, I was suddenly overwhelmed with a fantastic perfume. It took me a moment to identify the source because the blossoms on this tree aren't nearly as spectacular in appearance as many of the other trees or flowers around, but boy is that perfume something to behold.

The tree is huge, packed with clusters of little white flowers and the air is absolutely heady with the scent of them - it must be wonderful in the owners house which sits nestled under the branches. I wasn't the only one whose attention had been attracted, the tree was literally buzzing with hard working bees.

It is just another one of those moments when I love living in the "garden city".

Monday, October 18, 2010

The fluff is flying

Once, many years ago, a large number of cottonwood trees were planted in Canberra. They are lovely trees, members of the poplar family if I'm correct but can be pests because they spread so easily, so only female trees were planted. The thing is, female trees produce this light fluffy (cotton like, hence the name) seed. When it isn't fertilised, it is extremely light and blows around in the wind, in massive quantities. For weeks every year, large parts of inner Canberra are covered with white fluff from the cottonwoods.

For students, the cottonwoods hold special significance as the general consensus is that if you haven't started studying for final exams when the fluff starts flying you are in deep ****. As a result, the sight of that first piece of fluff in the air causes nerves and apprehension for students.

For those whose student days are past them however, the sight of fluff reminds one that while some of the freedom of those times might be gone, so too is exam stress. Every year as I pass through drifts of white I feel a deep sense of relief that I no longer have that pressure on me.

Today, I glanced out the window and against the blue I spotted a small white object. Seconds later I noticed another, then another. That is right, today is the day the fluff has started to fly. Within days there will be great drifts of it caught in the grass or swept on any breeze into our building, but even those first few pieces are enough to make me revel in the joy of not having to do exams!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My productive garden

My little garden gives me such pleasure. I love getting out there and working in it to be rewarded by beautiful flowers and even better, by homegrown produce.

Winter has been a quiet time in the garden, however the herbs have held their own over the cold months. The warm weather has now reinvigorated them and the sage is just about to flower with its gorgeous purple blooms.

Also sitting quietly over winter have been my broccoli plants, but today I noticed the first tiny little broccoli heads forming. A week or two and broccoli will be on the menu.

I may only have a few square meters but it is immensely what you can produce in that space.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Automating tasks

Hand washing - that small print on a clothing label that causes one to reconsider purchase, except that it always seems to appear on everything that I want to buy. It used to be that I would allow said items of clothing to pile up in the dirty clothes basket till my cupboard was bear and then spend hours, my hands turning into prunes as I wrestled with buckets of cold water and Martha Gardener's Wool Mix.

However those days are past - I have a washing machine that handwashes. But I hear you say, all washing machines have an illusionary delicates setting which lures you in once only to ruin a perfectly good outfit. No, my washing machine has that setting, but it also has a handwash setting and it is so gentle that I will trust it with silk, delicate knits, even embroidery and sequins! Owing to the wonder that is my washing machine, my delicate hands have not been immersed in the laundry sink for 4 years now and my wardrobe of handwash only items is larger than ever.

So why is the marvelousness of my washing machine particularly pleasing me today? Well frocktober is providing me with a disproportionately large amount of said handwashing - but I'm doing it right now, as I type. And who doesn't love that!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Super dooper pampering

A couple of months ago I bought a voucher to a local day spa at a fundraising event. Given it was basically a donation, I didn't pay too much attention to it and it was just sitting in my desk drawer. This week I suddenly realised it was going to expire, so I booked myself in and went off for a "body" treatment with no idea of what it included.

I am now a puddle of relaxation. I've been scrubbed, oiled, massaged and moisturised to a point where I had to think carefully before standing up. It was FANTASTIC.

I love pampering treatments, but they are definitely at the luxury end of the scale, so they don't fit into my budget very often. Today I was treated to a foot spa, a body scrub, hot oil treatment, head massage, spa and finished off with an all over body relaxation massage. I feel sooooo good.

If I win lotto one day, this will definitely be at the top of my list of life improvements!

P.S. Picture isn't me, just illustrates how great I feel about today's treatment.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Do you like a surprise? I know many people have a morbid fear of them, they like to live life in a planned orderly manner. I however, love a surprise and they come in all shapes and sizes just like the couple I have had in the last day.

Last night I arrived home to a surprise, a beautifully wrapped present on my doorstep! Attached to it was the most lovely card filled with the wonderful wishes of a very special friend. The devine Ms N, is one of the sweetest people you could ever hope to meet and she had delivered me a gift to give me a little extra lift when she thought I could use it. Honestly, it just made my day.

This morning I went to a breakfast which I regularly attend, however due to a full carpark came in a different entrance. As I walked out into the courtyard I was surprised with a beautiful vista. A normally plain walkway has been transformed by vigorously flowering wisteria. It was so unexpected it quite literally stopped me in my tracks. After yesterday's rain it all just looked so fresh and gorgeous, I couldn't help but take a photo.

I hope something wonderful has surprised you today!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Raindrops keep falling on my head ...

It is another rainy day, I mean really rainy, we have already had something like 12mm and there is heaps more forecast for the next few days. The sky has that heavy dark grey leaden look that just tells you there is plenty of the wet stuff still to come.

I'm not really a fan of getting wet in the rain, but I love the sound of it on the roof, the smell of it particularly on grass, watching it pour down when I'm safe and dry inside and of course, when it finishes and the sun comes out, that crystal clear, almost magnified look that the world has.

I think rain must be inspirational, think of all the songs that mention it. All I know is that my head feels clearer and more focused when the rain is tumbling down.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

QI - informing and entertaining!

I almost forgot to write tonight as I was distracted by one of my favorite TV shows, QI.

For those who haven't seen it, it is a quiz show where participants are rewarded for how interesting their answers are - regardless of if it is the actual answer to the question or not. Popular misconceptions however are treated to a claxton siren and derision from all and sundry.

It is hosted by the wonderful Stephen Fry, I adore him. His vast knowledge and fantastic whit make him a brilliant quiz master.

Truly QI is television at it's best. What a great Tuesday night's entertainment.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Frocktober Target Achieved!

I'm thrilled, as of last night, I've reached my official fundraising target for Frocktober.

That isn't to say that I don't intend to raise a whole lot more in the remaining 20 days of October but it is just wonderful to have got there already. My friends and family really are just amazing in their support of me on this somewhat unusual quest.

To encourage people to continue to donate I've now agreed that I will wear a formal gown to work on the last work day. Anyone who donates from tomorrow on, will be able to see the formal dress options and vote for one.

But I tell you what, I'm not normally someone who sets out to "test" their friendships so it is fantastic to know, when I do ask for support, they are there in a heartbeat.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Birthday!

There is so much I could write about today in terms of things that made me smile as today is my birthday.

As the date is 10-10-10 I had a 10th birthday party, so I could write about the joy of reliving childhood party memories, eating chocolate crackles and fairy bread, playing pass the parcel, having a spectacular pink dolly varden cake.

Or I could write about my gorgeous flatmate making me a "Princess Lisa" party crown to wear for the day.

Or I could write about my gorgeous friends and their delightful children that they brought in fancy dress (so cute!!!) to add to the party.

Or I could write about swishing about in a party dress complete with big fluffy red petticoat.

Or I could write about my family, Mum making my my traditional birthday cake despite having a badly cut hand and my sister seeking out a gorgeous birdbath for my backyard which I've been looking for years for.

But what I am going to write about is the thing that I look forward to on my birthday more than anything else, because I'm not sure that Dad is quite aware just how much I love it. Every birthday, my Dad writes me a poem.

No matter how busy he is, or what else is going on, he writes me a beautiful poem, right from the heart. I love it. The minute I see that card attached to a present, I have to open it and read the lovely thing he has written. For me, the poem makes my birthday and is the best thing I ever receive each year.

Today's poem is no exception, in fact it really may be one of my favourites ever, it was just lovely, so much so that I want to share it with you.

Ten, ten, ten
It happens now and then
Ten, ten, ten
And when it does its then
That magic things just happen
That wonders do abound
That life and love are fulsome
With joy the only sound
So take up all your glasses
And charge them with great cheer
And make a toast to Lisa
The lovely girl who brings us here
Our love for you is special
As special as you are
We bless each star we have you
Our very special star

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hidden Gems

My backyard is just about to burst into full bloom. The roses are covered in buds, the bearded irises have sent up their flower spikes, the granny's bonnets are almost there. In a week, it is going to be a floral extravaganza.

My front yard is different. It is more about foliage, texture and to be honest whatever can survive the scorching temperatures that it reaches in Summer. But hidden in it are some gems. Right now, my bluebells (which are really pink, white and blue bells) and mini cyclamen are flowering. They are tucked away, these flowers aren't about a flashy show, they are hidden gems waiting for the observant eye and I love them all the more for it.

My garden gives me such delight with its many moods. And finding little treasurers like this, just make my day.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Another visit to the Flute

We had a birthday in the office (well 3 actually) so you know what that means - oh yeah, I've been to the Flute. I'm sorry to be repedative but it is just so damn good!

As there were three of us (yes, it is my birthday soon) we had a complex negotiation to decide on which of their amazing delicacies to choose. It is a difficult decision!

First you need to decide if you are going to pre-order or wing it. Evey day they have a stunning selection of cakes and not all of them are available for pre-order. But if you do decide to go the pre-order route, you then have to make your way through the tantalising list.

We ended up with a Jaffa Dome. It has a crunchy chocolate base, flourless orange cake and layers of dark chocolate and orange mousse. It was so fab I ate two pieces. I'm kind of regretting that now as it was extremely rich but oh so good.
In fact I may need rehab, this Flute addiction is getting serious!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wowsers, I'm a winner!!!

Those of you who know me well know that I'm not necessarily the luckiest person in the world.

Well maybe that tide is changing because today I won a gorgeous accessories purse (check it out in the picture) from Spencer & Rutherford!

I've always been a shoe girl, while my sister was into handbags. I just couldn't get excited about "it bags" like she did, they just aren't my style. Then one day my best friend turned up at lunch with an amazing bag. It was all shades of blue in different and textured fabrics. It was quite simply gorgeous.

And thus, my love (and slight obsession) with S&R bags began. I now own several and covet many more. And just the other day as I moved things between my bags I thought how useful it would be if I had a little bag to keep all my stuff in, that I would change bags more often, and now I do!

So I've got a smile from ear to ear, what an excellent day!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The heater is off!

A corner has been turned, the switch has been made, it is official - the heat is here so the heating is off!

Ok, it is Canberra, more than likely the heating will come back on at least once before summer really hits, but today in the office we switched to air conditioning for the whole day. It is so warm that even with my slightly reptilian tendencies, I'm not wearing a jacket.

Yup, days are warm and long, summer is just around the corner!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Old photos found ...

As you know, I'm participating in Frocktober, frocking it up to raise money for the Ovarian Cancer Research Institute.

I'm doing it in memory of my Aunty Sue who died of ovarian cancer a few weeks ago. Other than the ovarian cancer link, Frocktober is hugely appropriate because Sue used to make me and my sister the most wonderful dresses and costumes when we were little.

To show off her gorgeous creations Mum and I have just been through piles and piles of old family photos. I came up with four fantastic photos, one of which is here (my sister and I on Australia Day at the 1988 bicentennial celebrations) and the others you can see at my fundraising site.

Along the way we found all sorts of memories. From pets of the past, to family celebrations to silly shots taken just to annoy people. It was fantastic. Every few minutes one of us would exclaim and the picture would have to be passed around.

I'm now determined to find the time to really sort and scan all the photos because they are such an instant mood lift with the memories of fantastic times in the past.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fresh Juice

There are many things I miss from living at home with Mum and Dad, but one of them is fresh juice.

Every morning Mum makes juice. When I was a kid it was just orange juice, but somewhere along the way we had a large number of pineapples and they got added. That was the start, now the juice is an amazing concoction usually involving: orange, pineapple, pear, blueberries, cherries, raspberries and whatever else happens to be in season.

This morning I had breakfast at Mum and Dad's and Mum made me this lovely glass of juice. So yummy, and I feel positively full of vitamins.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fantastic Friends

I have fantastic friends, I mean truly, wonderful, amazing, lovely friends. I'm pretty sure I've said this before, but today is just one of those days that really reinforces it.

Last night, I had a brilliant time at my friend's wedding with our circle, and today I had lunch with a great group of people. While I was there I got some not so brilliant news. Within seconds, I had people hugging me, someone running for wine, and everyone 100% on my side. They made what could have been a really bad situation ok, and even more, they made me know that there are much more important things in life.

It is really wonderful to know that if anything happens, I have an amazing group of people who will be there for me in a second.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Gosh I love a wedding. I know I'm not alone in this, and there is good reason, they are just such happy occasions.

Today some friends of mine got married. They are a fantastic couple and we have all been waiting for this day for some time. They were married by another friend of ours, which I think makes it all the more special.

They both looked lovely and so happy. The ceremony was fantastically them. A little bit bookish, a little bit geeky, and totally full of the love they have for each other, not to mention, laughs, tears of joy and the good wishes of all their friends.

The weather was not cooperative, the wet weather option had to be actioned, but it worked perfectly. And being a slightly more public venue, you also get to see how random passers by are just attracted to the sight of a wedding.

All in all, just lovely, can't wait for the reception!!!

Friday, October 1, 2010


I'm a real makeup girl. It started when I was a teenager and as a treat Mum used to let us get our eyelashes tinted. Makeup was banned at our school, but due to the naturally dark circles under my eyes I also used to always wear concealer. I remember being about 16 and having a teacher pull me aside to ask "if everything was ok at home". I replied that it was, except I had run out of concealer - she thought I had been up crying all night!

These days I feel completely naked without at least concealer, mascara and preferably some eyeliner.

But one thing I don't often wear is lipstick. I love lipstick, it makes me feel so glam, but I usually don't wear it because, well to be frank, I'm lazy. It is all the reapplication that needs to happen. I mean at the end of a day, my eye makeup may be fading a bit, but it is still pretty good. Lipstick is gone with the first thing I eat, or more often than not because I don't wear it often, the first time I randomly wipe my mouth.

But today I had a whole host of big meetings, plus it is the first day of Frocktober when I will be going all out on the glamour front, so I wore it. And you know, it does make me feel more glam. Maybe I should give this lipstick thing a go more often!