Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Frocktober Finale

And the frocking has finished, well not really, I'm still in my final frock, but today is the last day of Frocktober.  Once again it has been a brilliant experience.  I've raised over $4,000 and at this point the event has raised almost $190,000 for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.

I've proved that there is a frock for every occasion - dinner out, work, freezing cold day, cleaning the bathroom, sunny afternoon, even lying sick on the couch I managed to frock up. And I've loved every minute, which is not to say that I won't be very happy to wear jeans to work this casual Friday.

I've written extensively about how grateful the whole thing makes me feel.  For the donations of money and prizes, for the support, for the opportunity to do something worthwhile for this cause that is so important to me.  But I don't think it can be said enough so to everyone who has supported me this month ....


There is still time to donate if you want to at: and if I've inspired you, please join in next year.  You don't have to frock up every day like I have, you can be a Friday frocker or hold a frocking party, whatever works for you.  The key is that we do whatever we can to help the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation find an early detection test and help stop wonderful women like my Aunty Sue dying of this disease.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Exceeding Expectations

It is easy to think that all products of the same type are, well, the same.  Over the years however I have discovered that this is not so.  My early experiences of bland Indian simmer sauces were blown out of the water by the amazing authentic taste of Sharwood's curry pastes.  After years of assuming all gin is equal, Bombay Sapphire and later experiences with Hendricks and Tanqueray proved that no they are not.

Recently in an effort to get both more fish in my diet and more protein in my lunches I decided to add tuna to the mix.  In my mind tuna from a can was a slightly grey, mushy substance, best mixed with loads of mayonnaise and other flavourings on a sandwich. But people had been talking about Sirena tuna for awhile, so I figured I would give it a go - if only for the retro mermaid bedecked tin.

From the moment I opened the can I could see the difference.  It was pink, it was clearly a solid bit of fish.  And the taste.  This is no overly fishy bad canteen sandwich filling.  This is delicate and delicious and I love adding it to my salads for lunch.

So once again, my expectations have been exceeded in the best of ways and I'm feeling all the healthier for it.

Have you tried Sirena tuna (or Sharwoods or Bombay Sapphire) and did it change your previous opinions?  And have your expectations been exceeded by something recently?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bircher Muesli

Not the most attractive food photo, but it is yummy, trust me!

I was a late comer to the muesli bandwagon.  As I've written previously there are some things that I rashly decided as a child I didn't like.  Pesto, parmesan, beetroot and muesli were all on that list.  Luckily I've worked out how wrong I was on each of those fronts, but the turning point for me on muesli was the first time I had bircher muesli.

It was the kind of experience that could go very, very wrong.  To start with it was very early in the morning and I was in an airport.  Hardly the location one expects for a tastebud changing experience.  But there I was, in need of breakfast.  I wanted something healthy but it also needed to be hearty, I had a long day ahead of me.  That is right healthy and hearty in an airport.  I scanned menus and finally chose the bircher muesli despite my muesli prejudice because it was served with a warm rhubarb and raspberry compote and it was by far the healthiest thing there.  Oh what a revelation.  Since then I've been happily on the muesli bandwagon, these days I even make my own.

Generally I just enjoy my muesli quickly mixed through some yogurt in the morning, but if I think ahead the night before, I like to treat myself to some bircher muesli.  Bircher muesli is how muesli was designed to be eaten.  Rather than a cruchy, chewy breakfast, the long soaking time softens all the ingredients and actually releases a lot of the natural goodness of the oats.  Traditionally the oats are soaked in a mix of fruit juice and yogurt with the apple mixed in just before serving, however I prefer to omit the juice and mix in the apple from the start.  There are many recipes out there, but this is mine:

Bircher Muesli
1/2 apple grated
4-5 tablespoons untoasted muesli
3ish tablespoons natural yogurt

Mix everything together, refrigerate overnight, serve with stewed fruit if you have some to hand and eat with gusto! 

P.S. The quantities are a bit vague because it really depends how much you like to eat for breakfast. You just want a decent balance between the apple and muesli and for everything to be nicely covered in yogurt.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Frocktober - Week 4

Another Frocktober week is over.  In fact Frocktober is nearly over.  I'm getting to that point where I'm REALLY looking forward to wearing jeans again, but I've still got a few lovely dresses not yet worn.

It was an exciting Frocktober week, I hit my fundraising target of $4,000 and am now even a little over that.  I'm so grateful to everyone who donated or came to Rock Your Frock.  When I decided to aim to raise $4,000 it seemed an impossibly large amount of money.  After all I've been doing this for three years, would people still be so supportive, in fact would they be more supportive (my target last year was only $2,000)?

The answer was an overwhelming yes.  From the donations of friends and family, to the donations of complete strangers.  Not to mention the wonderful local businesses who donated the prizes that made Rock Your Frock such a success.  I'm filled with an immense sense of gratitude and I have to say a little bit of pride.

But there is still another 5 frocking days to go and some fabulous frocks to wear in that time - stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Snippets of my garden

This spring really is lush.  The winter was so long and so very cold, I think the plants are overly excited by the warm weather and so are putting on a particularly excellent show.  We are still a few weeks away from what I think will be a sensational rose display, but in the meantime the rest of the garden is doing its best to look fantastic.  Here are a few snippets of just how my garden grows.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Interpretive Dance

As those of you who follow me on twitter will know from my numerous, frustrated tweets, I have lost my voice.  It is not the first time, a few years I went through a patch of quite regularly losing my voice but it hasn't happened in ages now so I had forgotten just how frustrating it can be for a talker like me to lose such a vital tool.

Of course the key to regaining your voice is to completely rest it.  Not say a word.  Not make a sound.  This is not me.  I could pretty accurately be described as addicted to talking, so I am not really good at this whole resting thing.  I don't actually feel sick (I suspect it is a post viral thingie from the cold I had a couple of weeks ago) and I can croak out the odd word which means that I invariably do silly things like leave the house and attempt to communicate.

I know this is only going to prolong the situation so today I'm working from home to reduce the temptation.  The issue it doesn't solve is not being able to talk to S.  He was a bit weirded out by my silence at first, even commenting to people about how strange the house was with me being silent.  Since then he has taken to talking more to fill in the strange and unusual quietness in our house.  Unfortunately his talking often includes questions to me.  And not simple yes/no questions.  Complex questions.

I try not to cave and answer him.  I've typed or written out many an answer but when the computer or pen and paper are not handy I have found myself doing what can only be described as a cross between charades and interpretive dance.  Here I am, voiceless and leaping about attempting to gesticulate an answer to what is being discussed on Q&A tonight.  Or miming that there isn't enough soup for dinner we need something else to go with it.

It is in a word, hilarious.  He has no idea what I'm on about and yet I continue to leap and point and act out that we had plumbers in the office and they were noisy.  We both end up in hysterics, which I'm sure are no good for my vocal chords but by golly are the good for the soul.

Losing my voice may be frustrating  but it is also unexpectedly amusing!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mussels with tomato, chilli and herbs

I grew up in a house of fussy eaters.  Mum and I eat most things but Dad and my sister were definitely the kind of fussy eaters that drive you mad.  Poor Mum, there were so many lovely recipes that she could never make because one or the other of them wouldn't eat it.

As a result I really appreciate the fact that S eats just about everything which makes cooking easy.  The one thing that he doesn't eat however, is seafood.  No fish and no shellfish which is particularly unfortunate as I love seafood.  So whenever he is away my thoughts immediately turn to food from the sea.

Mussels are delicious, very quick to cook and really good for you.  They used to drive me nuts because cleaning and debearding them was such a fussy annoying job, but then some genius decided to sell 1kg packs of beautifully cleaned, debearded mussels.  They seem to be super fresh and very few don't open which is great because I'm always sad about any time there is a mussel I can't eat.

There are many yummy ways to cook them, Mum makes a particularly delicious creamy french recipe with mushrooms and cider, but this is my go to recipe because it is super simple and super quick.  All the quantities are rough, you can adjust the herbs and spices to your own taste, really it is pretty much impossible to go wrong with this.  And the whole thing only takes about 20 minutes to make from start to finish which makes it a perfect work night meal.

The recipe also makes a lot of delicious sauce.  Too much really to eat it all, just scoop out the chunks of tomato and some of the juice to soak up with bread.  This is a hands on, all in, kind of meal.  True comfort food.

Mussels with tomato, chilli and herbs
this amount will serve one person for dinner

1 packet of cleaned mussels
olive oil
half an onion finely chopped
teaspoon or so of minced garlic
3 tomatoes roughly diced
half a cup of white wine
chilli flakes
handful of herbs (I choose basil and parsley)

Soften the onion in olive oil over a medium high heat.  Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook till soft and juicy.  Add the wine, herbs and chilli and bring to the boil.

Open the packet of mussels and drain.  Add the mussels to the pot, put the lid on so that it steams and cook, stiring occassionally for about 10 minutes or until the mussels open.  Discard any mussels that don't open - do not be tempted to pry them open, they are bad and will make you sick.

Serve a big bowl of mussels, drizzled with the chunky tomato sauce, crusty bread and a crisp white wine.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Frocktober - Week 3

I can't believe that this time last year I had a thermal on over my dress.  Today is set to be 27 degrees.  My silk scarf is there for colour pop only,  I even considered going without pantyhose - but ended up acknowledging that the office aircon will get the better of me.

It has been a fantastic Frocktober week.  I'm still blown away by how much I raised at Rock your Frock.  And even better than the money, I keep hearing from people how much fun they had.  Putting on an event that people enjoy is a real thrill.

It also has been a week of gorgeous dresses.  One of the great things about Frocktober is that it reacquaints me with my wardrobe after the long winter.  While I do wear a couple of dresses in winter (and would love to wear more but dresses with sleeves are hard to find) the majority of my frock wardrobe sits waiting for the sun to return.  And now it has returned, and I have really enjoyed frocking up this week.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


After two years of significant rain, the hot, dry, dusty years of the drought seem a distant memory.  It is hard to remember how parched and brown the landscape was.  Lawns died, the landscape dried out, even the deciduous trees took on a dull look as their leaves were coated with dust that there was no rain to wash off.

This spring is the absolute antipathy of those drought stricken years.  Lush is the only word to describe it.  The greens are so vivid and the trees seem to be packing on as many leaves as they can hold.  Everywhere there is grass growing at an amazing rate.  It is like the plants are trying to make up for those lost years.

My garden is no exception.  The maple trees that I planted just a few years ago now tower over me.  The roses that I pruned back like a secateur wielding mad woman a few months ago are covered in leaves and the buds that will soon make a fantastic display.  There are irises about to flower, peas growing like crazy and carefully protected in case of a late frost, even my tomatoes are growing like mad.

Everything feels so fresh and vibrant it makes me feel fresher too.  Everywhere I go I can feel nature stretching herself out and I just love it.  This green spring makes me very happy.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rock Your Frock - the result

The male best dressed winner (in orange) with another of the wonderful men in frocks.
What a weekend.  What a crazy, amazing, thrilling weekend.

This weekend was Rock your Frock, the dance party I run as a Frocktober fundraiser and saying it was a success is such an understatement.  We had 186 people there and raised $3,337.75 - around $1,000 more than was raised last year!  I'm in shock at the amount, thrilled that so many people got dressed up and buzzing that everyone had such a good time.

I worked for awhile as an event planner so I have the process of organising such an event down to a practiced art.  But when on Saturday morning someone asked me what was involved and I started describing it, I realised it actually is a lot of work.  Somehow because I know what I'm doing and I've organised far bigger things I tend to downplay the effort in my mind.  But given I do all the work in my own time and on my own, it really is kind of a big deal.  And to pull off a night where people didn't want to leave and when they did they had exhausted smiles on their faces and heels in their hands from tired dancing feet, is pretty special.

Mum wrote a post on her blog this weekend about how fundraising is in our blood.  For me, it is just something that I do and now having a cause, ovarian cancer research, that I care about so deeply makes it that much more important to me.  The thrill of a successful event is great, but passing the money through to the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, that is amazing.

But back to the night itself.  I don't pre-sell tickets as the extra admin and cost are not worth it, so it is always somewhat of a lottery as to how many people come.  But they did come, slowly at first and then in a solid stream that just went on and on.  My wonderful Mum and sister manned the door while I sold raffle tickets, organised and got in the occassional dance.  Every time I turned around more people had arrived and excitingly, there were more and more who I didn't know.  I expected lots of the dancers who I know well but as the numbers of new faces increased I got increasingly excited.

And the outfits.  The women were gorgeous, the table of 40's and 50's pin-ups was extraordinary, but then there were the men in dresses.  No description will do them justice, so please, enjoy these photos of some of the best dressed from Saturday night - I will leave it up to you to determine gender but as a hint, the facial and leg hair tends to be a giveaway.

This lovely lady in gold was our best dressed female winner.

On a side note can I say while many women seem to struggle walking well in heels, the guys did incredibly well on a slippery dance floor.  I'm going to surmise that being a dancer gives you great balance.

Currently I'm just $400 away from my fundraising target.  If you feel inspired, please do donate at:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Frocktober - Week 2

As happens pretty much every October, after a period of glorious weather the kind of which makes you want to write poetry about spring, winter has returned.  Today the countryside around Canberra is covered in snow and it has been a grey, wet week.

It is therefore possibly a reaction to the weather when I look back at the week and notice it has been significantly more colourful than last week - and that jumpers have been more prominent.  Polka dots made an appearance on Wednesday for my birthday, and today I am swathed in the most delicious cobalt blue pashmina that my sister gave me (the photo here does not do it justice).  I had planned on wearing a gorgeous pair of blue suede peep toe heels to match my black and blue outfit but with more rain and possibly snow forecast, boots seemed more sensible.

It has also been a very busy week as tomorrow (eek) is my big Frocktober fundraising dance party, Rock Your Frock.  My fingers are crossed for a big turn out, I think everything else is ready!

Monday, October 8, 2012


As I have written endlessly on this blog, I am in the incredibly fortunate position to be surrounded by an amazing group of friends.  And not just the "acquaintance" type friends, the kind of friends who will move heaven and earth if you ask them.  Who I know have my back and will be there any time I need them.  They have rebuilt my pergola, provided a shoulder to cry on (along with soothing wine and chocolate), partied like there is no tomorrow with me and even once planned to spend a significant amount of money when I lost an important earring.

It hasn't always been like this.  I grew up in Canberra and have seen my friends move away in waves.  I left my primary school friends behind as I went to a different high school from them.  High school people left next, with many heading to uni out of town.  Then uni friends - there really aren't that many jobs in Canberra if you hope to work in advertising.  In fact when I was about 23 I suddenly realised I had 2 friends left in town.  That makes for a pretty lonely time.

But how things have changed.  Dance changed it the most for me.  It was there that I met some truly brilliant, amazing, unique people who bring real joy and warmth to my life.  And now one of them is leaving.  And not just heading to another city, he is going to the far side of the world Sweden.

We gathered on Saturday for a dinner party in his honour.  It was an amazing meal, the food cooked by one of our friends was superb.  But it was the atmosphere that really made the evening.  The easy laughter, gentle mocking, intelligent discussion - oh and yes the point where the house almost got set on fire.  As I sat there, I realised that I was completely at ease with these people and that is such a rare thing.  It made me once again truly grateful to have such friends in my life, it really is a privilege.

We will miss our friend hugely.  Luckily the Internet makes keeping in touch much easier and we have told him that he is now our free accommodation on the other side of the world, but I really hope that he can find a similarly fantastic group of people in Sweden.

On a completely separate note, my Mum has started a blog!  I'm so proud of her, only a few years ago she was terrified of anything computer related, now she is on email, Facebook, Twitter and has her own blog.  Head over for a read at Am I Old Yet?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Frocktober - Week 1

Well it wasn't an ideal start to Frocktober.  A nasty head cold left me curled up on the couch for two days, but I am nothing if not committed to frocking it up all month, so I still wore dresses all day.

Get used to the black dress I'm wearing today, I will be wearing it each Friday, just with different accessories.  Today I went for a casual look with a denim jacket, leggings and leopard print accessories.  It also helps that S is away for work as he loathes animal print - you should see the look on his face any time these cute leopard print peep toes make an appearance, the scarf is pretty much banned!  Strangely enough my father is exactly the same.

Being under the weather has meant I've got off to a bit of a slow start with fundraising, but next week should be amazing.  It includes my birthday and Rock your Frock, my big dance fundraiser.  Still if you have some spare dollars that you would like see go to ovarian cancer research you can donate at: (and it is tax deductible).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


S brought an unwelcome visitor with him on the long weekend - a nasty head cold.  I fought it as hard as I could but I've succumbed and am spending the day at home on the couch (though still wearing a dress, I'm nothing if not committed to Frocktober).

When S was home sick late last week he slept and played video games.  I am not good at being home sick.  I've already responded to some work email, done a load of washing, given the kitchen a wipe over and watered the pot plants.  I have also stood in our courtyard, mug of tea in hand soaking up a little of the gorgeous spring sunshine and in doing so I noticed that the first of my freesias have started flowering.  Their delicious spicy scent managed to make its way though my blocked nose and they are now sitting on the coffee table bringing me joy.

The rest of the day will be spent getting stuck into Game of Thrones (I'm reading the book after seeing the series) and drinking plenty of fluids all while being watched over by my gorgeous flowers.  It is amazing how such a small thing as two stems of deliciously scented flowers can make me feel so much better.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Frocking Has Begun!

I seem to say it every year but this year has just whizzed by faster than I could imagine.  All of a sudden it is October and that means only one thing - frocks! Yes once again I'm spending a month dresses (aka frocks) as part of Frocktober to raise funds for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.

As many of you will be aware, just over 2 years ago my Mum's best friend "Aunty" Sue died of ovarian cancer after a short but terrible battle with it.  Before she was diagnosed I often took part in charity fundraisers and volunteered for worthy causes.  I really enjoyed being able to contribute in a positive way to the community.  But there is nothing like losing a member of the family (Sue wasn't a relative but she was family) to commit you to a cause.

Since Sue's diagnosis I've found out a lot more about this cancer that I previously knew nothing about.  If ovarian cancer is found early the survival rates are really good.  However there currently is no early detection test and most cancers are found only after they have already spread to other organs.  As a result one woman in Australia dies of ovarian cancer every 10 hours.

The Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation is working on finding an early detection test.  With it, we will be able to bring the terrible death rate down but they need funding, hence my month in frocks.

In previous years I've posted my frocks here, but this year I will be putting them daily on Twitter (follow me @LisaRobey) with a weekly wrap up here.  If you would like to get involved, it isn't too late to start, just head over to to find out more or you can sponsor me at