Monday, December 30, 2013


A deep feeling of peace and calm. The slightest of tans. Feet polished by sand. Pure, utter relaxation.

S and I have spent the last week with my family at the beach. We drank champagne and ate oysters watching the sun set. We took long, leisurely walks on the beach. We ate a massive feast for Christmas Eve, then did it again on Christmas Day and not to be put off, had a whole second Christmas on the 28th. I read 4 books, probably as many as I had managed to read all year. It was bliss.

I don't really have the words to say how after a hectic, draining year, the last week has replenished my soul - so here are some photos. I hope your Christmas has been as truly wonderful as mine.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sparkle all the way

How is everyone's Christmas preparation going? I have to admit that December is flying by at a real rate of knots. Just one week of work left till my Christmas break and it is feeling very festive.

In the spirit of festivities I've been sharing one of my ornaments each day on Instagram. Here are a few of the gorgeous decorations that make me smile every day.

You can see more by following me @lisablithemoments.

I hope you are having a sparkly festive season too!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Baking

There are many things I enjoy about Christmas but one of them is that it gives me so many opportunities to cook for others. Taking full advantage of the season, I spent much of this weekend baking up a storm for my colleagues.

After a couple of years working in very small offices, I now work in an office with about 30 staff. It is a fun and friendly place and people often bring in things they have made. Last week a delicious Christmas cake was demolished in about half a day and so I felt inspired to join in.  Tomorrow I will be taking my colleagues a platter of festive biscuits. They will be getting:

Lemon scented shortbread stars

Shortbread is just one of those great Christmas traditions. This is a traditional recipe, I just add quite a lot of lemon zest when creaming the butter and sugar together and sprinkle the stars with raw sugar before baking. In the past I've made little cellophane bags of these tied up with tinsel. It is just one of those perfect tastes of the season.

Gluten (and diary) free Gingerbread

I know a huge number of people with issues with gluten, so when I discovered this gluten free gingerbread recipe I had to give it a go. I added quite a bit more spice than the recipe asks for, probably twice as much ginger and half again as much cinnamon and nutmeg. I also made 1.5 the quantity but doubled the egg so it was a bit less crumbly. It isn't quite your traditional gingerbread but it is yummy and perfect if you or your crew have allergies.


I've written about these hazelnut delights before. They almost didn't happen this year though, as ground hazelnuts, in fact hazelnuts full stop, seemed impossible to find. Luckily the 4th supermarket I tried (Coles if you want them) had them in stock and now I have a whole tray ready for the office. We will see how many we still have by tomorrow, they are very moorish!

Have you been enjoying Christmas treats in your office?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A little pampering

As someone who likes to do what she can for the community, I've attended many fundraising balls over the years. And as a keen shopper I have been caught up in the excitement of the accompanying charity auctions on more than one occasion. However the thing with those charity auctions is that you rarely actually get time to properly look at the item you are buying prior to bidding on it which can lead to some surprises. Many years ago one of those surprises was when I bought what I thought was gift voucher for a massage and discovered I had actually bought a four hour deluxe pampering package at the gorgeous Endota Day spa. Needless to say I was quite happy with that purchase!

Since then the Endota Day Spa has been my go to option when I need a bit of me time. Everyone in my family knows that it is a great birthday option and I receive their specials by email each month. So when an email from them arrived with their November special of a combo pedicure and facial, I knew I had found the perfect way to unwind after the conference I had been working on.

I headed over on Friday afternoon. It has been a recovery / clean up week, but I was still feeling quite worn out. The spa is hidden away in the basement of a city building, which may not sound glamorous, but as you descend the stairs it is like entering a hidden oasis of tranquility.

I was a little early, so I was given a cup of soothing lemongrass tea and settled into their peaceful lounge area where I was confronted with the task of choosing a nail polish colour. After much deliberation I went with "Mildura" a pinky orange colour which seemed to fit with the light summery weather.

A few minutes later I headed on in to the treatment room where for an hour and a half I was pampered to the point where I nearly fell asleep on the table!

It is a real luxury being able to be pampered like that and I absolutely adore it. I came out with pretty nails, a slightly shiny but glowing face and a deep sense of relaxation. What a delicious way to spend a Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Still Alive!

Yup, still alive - just. We have had our national conference at work, the largest thing I work on each year and while a huge success it was exhausting. Half a week later and my body is still aching and my bed is my favourite place to be. But I will be back blogging soon and in the meantime I'm happily playing away with instagram, so feel free to pop over and see what I'm smiling at in photographs.

Back soon!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wedding Nerves

I’ve always thought that being invited to a wedding is such a privilege. To be someone that the bride and groom consider special enough to witness their big day (and not to mention the cost of feeding a guest) means so much. But when you are asked to have a role in the wedding, that is extra special. I’ve been completely honoured to be a bridesmaid and chuffed to be asked to do wedding hair but in the last couple of weeks I’ve had two important and completely nerve wreaking roles in friend’s weddings.
The first started so innocently, with a request to do a reading. I was thrilled and honoured but apparently missed a key piece of information (to be honest I was pulling the world’s largest splinter out of my toe as she asked me) because it wasn’t so much a reading as a singing. That is right my friends asked me to sing at their wedding.

Now something you need to know about me, I love to sing – alone, in my car, where no one can hear my shockingly limited range and ability to be miles off key. S is about the only person who regularly hears me sing and he must be struck deaf by love because for some reason he thinks I can hold a tune. I know I cannot, so a week before the wedding having discovered that the reading was a singing I was freaking out.

But as luck would have it the song was “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” which is a bit more spoken than sung and everyone joined in very strongly enabling me to move the microphone a discrete distance too far away to pick up my voice. Other than the bridal party I was the only friend to have a role in the wedding so it was lovely and once done I could relax and have a ball, playing on the jumping castle (the ultimate wedding accessory) and dancing the night away.

But then came my second special request. This request came as a result of a piece of bravado that may have been alcohol induced when I declared that sure I could make a wedding cake – only to be held to it. That feeling when someone says “you know how you said you could make a wedding cake – can you make mine?” yes that feeling, I felt it in spades.

Let me tell you, anyone who moans about how much of a rip-off a wedding cake is, they are a hell of a lot of work and take a lot of ingredients. The cake I made included almost 2kg of butter, 1.5 kg of chocolate, 10 cups of sugar, 1 full cup of whiskey, 5 kilos of fondant, 9 hours of baking time and about a work week (seriously 40 hours) of decorating time. But it was worth it. The end result was really lovely and most importantly the bride and groom were thrilled. Well the bride definitely was with the cake, the groom was just in love with the fact that I made him a jelly shot cake – his request.

So yes, my nerves have been strained by those last two weddings but in such a good way. I'm thrilled that I was able to contribute to my friend's special days and I love that they were thrilled.

P.S Just for the record, my brilliant Mum helped hugely with making the icing flowers but everything on that cake was hand made!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Frocktober 2013 Week 5

It is over. Another Frocktober has passed by in blur of frills, patterns, florals and petticoats. I've worn a different frock every day (and still had a few spare) and loved it - but I'm hanging out to wear my jeans tomorrow! There is no doubt that I'm a frock loving gal, but my jeans are also favourites that I have missed.

But of course Frocktober isn't really about the frocks, it is about the fundraising for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. The funds raised will be well used by them to fund their ongoing research into an early detection test for this terrible disease. And the fundraising has been amazing. This year I've managed to raise $3,386 and currently the total for the whole month is $ 279,752.45!!! It is just a brilliant result and will make a real difference for the OCRF.

There is still time to donate, my page is but there are many others doing amazing things to raise funds who could also use your donations.

Thank you for coming along on this year's journey with me. As always it has been a fun, humbling, memory filled ride!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Frocktober 2013 Week 4

Frocktober week 4 had a little bit of everything. Stripes, spots, pattern, block colour, floral, gingham. It is usually about this time of the month that I start to get sick of wearing frocks, but I haven't reached that point this year. I really do love my frocks! That said by next Friday I think I shall enjoy my jeans.

It has been such a full on month. Aside from Frocktober activities, work has been manic and this week, just to add to the mix, I'm making a wedding cake! Keep your fingers crossed for me that it all goes well, it is an honour to do it for my friends but it is high stakes too!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Frocktober 2013 Week Three

In honour of the lovely spring weather I made week three of Frocktober floral week. Every one of these frocks has a floral pattern, although some are hard to see in these photos.

It has been a very windy but warm October which is making Frocktober more comfortable than some previous rather chilly years but at the same time I do have super terrible hayfever. The big news this week was that I hit my target of raising $3,000! And even better, the entire Frocktober total headed over the $150,000 mark.  It is brilliant to see how the event has grown over the years.

I also realised that I had worn very few of these frocks to work before, despite them being most definitely work appropriate. I will definitely start doing so from now on, just another Frocktober bonus!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Frocktober 2013 Week Two

Frocktober Week 2 was a BIG one.  A really busy work week, my birthday, a dinner out, seeing the circus/burlesque show Empire at the Spiegletent and of course, the highlight of Frocktober for me, my dance party Rock Your Frock.

We rocked our frocks last night and while the crowd was about half the size of last year due to the unfortunate coincidence of a ballroom competition in Sydney and the opening of a new salsa club in Canberra, I still manged to raise over $2,400 which I think is amazing.  I am so grateful for the support of everyone who helped, my brilliant friends Rob and Oren who provided professional quality sound and lighting to make the place look and sound amazing.  My Mum and sister who worked the door all night letting me have a few dances in between selling raffle tickets and comparing the night.  And of course the wonderful S, who helped set up, pack down and puts up with my months and months of distraction as I worked on the event.

All in all it was a wonderful night.

The rest of the week was pretty wonderful, albeit with some of those inevitable funny "frocktober" moments - such as wearing a cocktail dress with a quite short skirt and a decent amount of cleavage for Friday Cocktail Dress day, because I'd completely forgotten that it was also the day of our AGM and that the entire board would be in the office.  Needless to say I hid in my office quite a bit.  Today I'm dicing with a very short, flouncy skirt and a windy day, but as the plan is to stay home I think I will be ok.

Frocktober is once again proving to be a super fun month.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Frocktober 2013 Week One

The first week of Frocktober was a little chilly, very windy but with enough sunny patches that the ubiquitous Frocktober cardigans could be put away at times.

This Frocktober I'm upping the glamour stakes with cocktail dress Friday.  It is particularly noticeable in my office because we embrace casual Friday so with one person in satin when everyone else is in denim I think it is quite clear that I'm doing something a little different.

This week is the big one, Rock Your Frock. It is going to be a full on week which includes my birthday, a couple of dinners, a show and of course a huge charity dance. I expect it will be exhausting but fabulous.

Frock on!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Frocktober the first

Today marks the start of an emotion filled month for me.  October has always been that way.  It contains my birthday which is associated with a thousand happy memories, but it has also been a month of loss and upheaval in my life.  I enter every October with a little trepidation at what it may bring.

In the last few years October has had extra emotions associated with it, grief and gratitude being the prominent two.  This is because three years ago I lost a really important person in my life to ovarian cancer and each October I honour her life by fundraising for ovarian cancer research by participating in Frocktober.

I think of Sue every day through October.  Her loss is still huge.  Just recently I was working on a project for my parent's wedding anniversary and a dozen times I thought to myself that I must ask Sue about this or that only to remember that I can't do that anymore. It seems almost inconceivable that she won't be at the important milestones in my life, even after three years I can't picture a big family gathering without her there.

But while the grief at her loss is still a raw emotion, this month also fills me with gratitude at the support I receive.  From my family and friends who support my fundraising with frocks and funds to the businesses that donate prizes for the silent auction at my fundraising dance party Rock Your Frock, I am indebted to so many people for helping me fundraise.

In previous years I have blogged my daily frocks.  This year, if you would like to follow my frocking adventures, I've finally caved and switched over to Instagram so you can find me at

If you are in Canberra, please come along to Rock Your Frock.  You don't need to be a "dancer" but you are encouraged to frock up and it is guaranteed to be an amazing night.  Rock Your Frock is on 12 October at 7pm at the Harmonie German Club.  You can find all the details here:

And finally, if you feel so inclined you are more than welcome (and hugely thanked) to make a donation at:

Monday, September 30, 2013

One of these things is not like the other

Just a quick post today - it would appear that I had an interloper in my bag of pink and white tulips. Can you spot the the intruder?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Internet Find of the Day

Every now and then the Internet does one of those little things that just makes me wonder how we all coped without it.

I have always been a recipe addict.  I have had to enforce specific rules about recipe books otherwise our entire house would be full of them, and every now and then I have to purge the house of magazines.  But the internet takes recipe collecting to a whole new level.

I read so many brilliant food blogs and my pinterest obsession has resulted in a whole collection of new things to try.  However when you have access to recipes from around the world there can be issues about finding the right ingredients and crucially, particularly when I use American recipes, I often have issues because of the different measurements. 

The one that has caused me the most grief (and some very strange results) has been how Americans measure butter.  I don’t know what it is that results in a country deciding to measure butter in sticks, let alone trying to measure a solid thing in cups or tablespoons but it was driving me batty till I found this fantastic website – The Butter Converter Calculator!
Oh yeah, some brilliant person recognised this problem and now I can just tap in the number of sticks / cups / tablespoons etc and have it all nicely converted to grams.
This combined with other calculators that turn Fahrenheit to Celsius and inches to centimetres means I’m now cooking up a storm with fab internet receipes.

Have you found something fantastic on the internet recently?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Just popping by

Hi All!  No I haven't fallen off the planet but I do seem to have lost my blogging mojo.  This year is proving to be one of those massive years where my brain is so full at all times I don't have much space left to do something creative like write.  But hang in there I will do my best to pop by every now and then and I'm sure the blogging fairies will give me back some impetus soon.

So in the meantime here are some shots of spring.  It has sprung very early this year, we are in the second week of September and already many of the blossom trees are finished but after what was a pretty miserable grey winter (where were the crystal blue skies I ask) the fresh green leaves and gorgeous blossom are a joy.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A fancy new title (for a very good cause)

It has been a big few weeks with lots on, much of it in preparation for Rock Your Frock my annual fundraiser for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.  Each year, I hold a charity dance where everyone (and I mean everyone) is encouraged to frock up.  I hold a silent auction, have raffles, everyone dances and it is a really fun and exciting night during which we have raised thousands of dollars.

OCRF became my charity of choice 3 years ago following the diagnosis and death of a close family friend from ovarian cancer.  It was then that I discovered that ovarian cancer kills a woman every 10 hours in Australia - not because it is particularly aggressive but because there is no early detection test and as a result it is generally found very late.  If found early, it is a very treatable so the OCRF are working on finding an early detection test.  It is really important work and I'm really happy to be able to play my tiny role in supporting the work through fundraising.

This week I received an email from OCRF.  They have noticed the work I've done over the last three years and as a result have asked me to be their ambassador in Canberra.  I will continue to do what I've been doing, spreading the message about the work they are doing by being a media representative and representing them at events etc.  It is such an honour both to know that my work has been noticed but also that I will be able to contribute in an even more meaningful way.

I'm really excited about the opportunity, and hope to bring lots more stories of the great work being done by the OCRF to you all!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Eggplant and Tomato Pasta Sauce Base

One of our favourite things to do on a Sunday is wander the local markets.  We skip lunch and instead snack from the many offerings out for tasting and stock up our pantry with handmade delights and super fresh produce.

It was on one of these trips that we tried the pasta sauce that inspired this recipe.  This eggplant and tomato pasta sauce is great on its own, but even better as a sauce base.  Perfect for hiding veggies if you have a fussy eater, it adds an amazing depth of flavour to any tomato based sauce.  It makes for a truly delicious bolognaise, a wonderful ratatouille, a fab lasagne - pretty much your imagination is the limit. An easy variation is just to add a handful of fresh herbs before serving.

And best of all it is super easy to make in bulk and store in the freezer to turn a quick meal into a super one.

Eggplant and Tomato Pasta Sauce Base
2 eggplant (aubergine)
1 large onion diced
2 cloves of garlic diced
1-2 680g jars passata (depending on how big your eggplant are and how runny you want your sauce)
1/2 cup red wine
Splash of red wine vinegar

Slice your eggplant lengthwise in half.  Lay them cut side up on a baking tray and spray or lightly brush with olive oil.  Bake at 150 degrees celcius for 1-2 hours until the skin is bubbled and leathery and the inside is soft.  The cut side will get a little brown but shouldn't get too dark.  The length of cooking will depend on the size of your eggplant.

When they are ready take them out of the oven and allow to cool for 10 or so minutes or until you can handle them.  Then scrape all the flesh out of the skin and discard the skin.

Meanwhile caramalise your diced onion in a heavy casserole.  You want it nice and golden.  Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes till fragrant.  Add in the eggplant, passata, red wine and vinegar, stir to combine.

Now blitz it with a stick blender.  You should end up with a very thick, creamy red sauce - ready to eat or add to your own pasta recipe.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Unexpected results

Some days do not turn out the way you expect.  Yesterday was one of those days.

I think it is clear from this blog that I love to dance.  I love to do it, teach it, talk about it, watch it.  The one aspect of dance I've never been that into however, is competitions.  I love to spectate, but competing has never been my thing.

I have my reasons. First and foremost, dance is my relaxation.  I can get to an almost meditative state on the dance floor.  If I had to put in hours of hard training, I feel that would eat into the relaxation. Second I've never had a permanent dance partner in my style of ceroc.  Yes S dances and is quite fantastic, but he doesn't dance ceroc AND he very much shares my first reason of dancing being about relaxing not training.  Finally and I think quite crucially, I'm just not very competitive by nature.  When you see those people who complete at an elite level they have a real drive to win.  I like to succeed in what I do, but that doesn't translate into a desire to win at all costs.

And so competitions have never formed a significant part of my dance story.

Then a couple of weeks ago I was asked to be judge at a local comp.  I was quite honoured, it is a hard job but one that after years of teaching and watching dancers I felt qualified to do so I said yes.  And yesterday I set out to spend several hours watching and judging dancing.  I was so set to be on the sidelines that I even left my dance shoes in the car.

But a couple of minutes after I arrived at the venue that all changed.  There was an advanced dancer from interstate desperately looking for a partner and for some crazy reason I said yes and bolted back to the car for my shoes.  It was quite a small competition, only 4 couples in the advanced category, but as you can imagine the other 3 couples would have been dancing together for weeks, more likely months or even years.  They had rehearsed moves, matched costumes, you get the drift.  My partner and I had a total of 1.5 dances before we hit the competition floor.

We danced, it was fun and a couple of people said nice things to me as I left the dance floor.  I judged the rest of the levels, did a quick dash home to glam up and pick up S for the ball at which the results would be announced.  We had great fun at the ball, there were only 4 people on our table which was set for 6 so the boys each had two entrees, two mains and two desserts.  S showed off his renowned ability to vacuum up food once again.  And then it was time for the results to be announced.

Somehow, my partner and I came third!  Now I know that there were only 4 couples but I'm still completely stoked.  Without any kind of planning or preparation, I now have a dance trophy.

If only every day could turn out like that!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Dressing Gowns and Slippers

Just a small sample of the collection

Australia is apparently having a love affair with the onesie at the moment and I don't just mean for babies.  Children, teenagers and adults around the country are embracing them with a passion.  While I don't quite get the fascination of the all in one fleecy suit, I do understand the passion for rather daggy but incredibly comfortable and warm clothing.  You see, S and I have something of an obsession with slippers and dressing gowns.

A quick mental count has revealed that between the two of us we own 7 pairs of slippers and 4 dressing gowns.  This may seem a little excessive, but given they are our clothing/shoe of choice at home we need a variety to cater for different levels of cold.  S can even layer some of his slippers although it isn't quite as necessary as it was when he lived in his freezing bachelor pad.

The minute we get home it is off with the regular shoes, on with the slippers.  And if we are going somewhere like my parents house (or even occasionally dance class) we do venture out of the house in them.  If I'm being brutally honest I must admit those pink ugg boots may even have been worn to the shops once or twice - oh the shame!

Sometimes I wonder if S and I are old beyond our years - or maybe just wise beyond our years.

So tell me, are we alone in our slipper obsession or do you share it and should we embrace the onesie?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

On Inspiration - Purple House

On my trip to the Northern Territory just over a week ago I saw a heap of great meeting and event sites but what made the biggest impression on me was some of the inspirational speakers we had a chance to listen to.

We are lucky to live in a country where our Governments provide a fantastic range of services.  But Governments are often incredibly risk adverse, so it is my experience that if you want to see real innovation and new thinking, you have to look at the community sector.  And that was born out by my visit to the "Purple House" dialysis centre in Alice Springs.

The people of the Western Desert were one of those groups terribly affected by some of the shocking policies that used to exist around Indigenous people in this country.  They had been removed from their homelands and shunted around various missions and stations, till they managed to get themselves back to their homelands in the early 80's.

This was all wonderful until kidney disease started to strike in the community and those affected needed dialysis.  The closest centre for dialysis was Alice Springs, some 300km away.  If you know anything about dialysis, you will know that each treatment takes many hours and must be done around 3 times a week.  Effectively this meant that people had to move to Alice Springs, another tribe's country, far away from their community.  Needing dialysis was essentially a sentance of exile till death.

As a result the community wanted to develop the capability to have dialysis in their own community.  They were told by governments that it could not be done but they were determined and through an aboriginal art auction they raised enough for the initial program to be undertaken.

Since then the Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation - referred to as the Purple House owing to the purple colour of the centre in Alice Springs - has established a number of dialysis units in remote communities and now has a truck that can travel around and do dialysis.

We were lucky enough to met Sarah Brown, the CEO of Purple House.  She was truly inspirational.  Full of enthusiasm, zeal and optimism. She is truly the kind of person who gets stuff done.  Sarah is definitely one of the reasons why Purple House is such a success and I find it really inspiring to meet someone who does so much for a community that is not hers by birth, but definitely is by adoption.

You can read more about Purple House and even make a donation at their website.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Northern Territory Famil Trip

People often think working as an events manager is full of perks.  I've had people suggest that it must be lovely to have a job that involves swanning about in cocktail dresses sipping champagne.  And I'm sure it must be lovely, but that isn't what events management is about.  It is about logistics, planning, long hours, and being polite in the face of often finicky and obnoxious delegates.

However, that isn't to say there aren't some perks and Famil trips are one of them.  Famil trips involve visiting a place to be familiarised with the facilities and opportunities.  They are really important, planning events in venues you haven't visited is very hard and they give tourist operators the opportunity to promote their businesses.  But they do also mean you get to go somewhere you haven't been before as the guest of the tourism promoters.

This last week I was lucky enough to be hosted by the Northern Territory Convention Bureau on a Famil trip to Alice Springs and Darwin.  Let me be clear, it was NOT a holiday.  Each day started at 8am, was filled with numerous meetings, site visits and tours, ending late.  But we did get to visit some amazing places, eat wonderful food and meet some truly inspirational people.  In fact some of those people and places were so inspirational that they deserve a post of their own, so today's post is just about the landscape.

I've not been to NT before but I had some ideas in my head of what it would look like.  Red dirt, wiry trees, blue skies and clear blue sea.  I wasn't expecting the wild flowers, towering ranges and manicured waterfront.  I could write more but my break is over - another site visit awaits, so enjoy just a few photos of the goreousness of NT.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Spanish Inspired Warm Dip

When the weather gets cold in Canberra the parties don't stop, they just move inside and focus on warm canapes.  And for those occasions I turn to a delicious, warm Spanish inspired dip.  This is not a dip to have on a delicate wafer, it is a hearty, chunky topping for a lovely piece of sourdough bread.

I love this dip for so many reasons, not only is it warm and gently spiced, it is vegan, gluten free and most of the contents can be found in my pantry and fridge.  In fact if the parsley is growing in my garden (which disappointingly it is not this year) the only thing I have to buy is mushrooms and bread.

This is comfort food to share, which for me, makes it even more comforting.  What are your comfort food favourites for this time of year?


Spanish inspired warm dip

olive oil
2 onions sliced into 8ths
4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
small handful mushrooms thinly sliced
1tsp smoked paprika
1/2tsp cumin
1/2tsp hot chilli flakes
1/2 cup white wine
3 chargrilled capsicums, sliced in half lengthwise then in 1cm side strips
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
1 x 400g can chickpeas rinsed well
250g chopped frozen spinach thawed and excess moisture squeezed out
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 bunch parsley chopped

Sour dough bread to serve

Add a splash of olive oil and onions to a large pan on a medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring regularly, until onions are softened and golden brown.  Add garlic and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are softened.

Add paprika, cumin and chilli and cook till fragrant.  Add white wine, capsicum, tomatoes, chickpeas and spinach.  Stir to combine, lower heat and cook for about 20 minutes till thick and warm.

To finish, add red wine vinegar and parsley.

Serve with sliced sour dough bread while still warm.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Hello, its me.  Yes I kind of dropped off the planet for a bit there.  Life has been, shall we say, interesting over the last few weeks.  The kind of interesting referred to in the famous Chinese curse "may you live in interesting times".  The kind of interesting that makes you crave mundane.

While the last few weeks may not have been the greatest, they have reminded me that even when things are pretty darn crappy, I am still an inordinately lucky person in the greater scheme of things, and that is why I wanted to write today's happiness post about gratitude.

Gratitude has for many come to have a negative tone.  It is almost like an insult or a put down when someone is told they should be grateful.  It somehow signifies grovelling and giving thanks to some other person.  I don't think about it like that.

For me, having gratitude in my life is about being aware of the many wonderful, blessed aspects of my life.  About remembering that most people in the world don't have the same worries about me, but they also don't have the same comforts.  About knowing that the love which surrounds my life eludes many.  Gratitude is about not taking these blessings for granted but remembering that I am lucky to enjoy them.

Each night, just before I go to bed I take a deep breath and try to blow the stress of the day away.  I focus on all the things I'm grateful for, a loving partner, a family of enormous strength and love, friends without comparison.  I thank the fates that allowed me to be born and grow up in a peaceful, wealthy country, that gave me the  strong education which allows me to work in a fulfilling job providing me with my warm cosy home and a wardrobe of pretty dresses.

And when I get overwhelmed by the incomprehensible actions of others and I feel frustrated and angry, I do my best to take a step back and remember that the wonderful parts of my life outweigh the bad by an exponential amount, even if the bad can be more in your face.  At the end of the day, I am grateful, I am for the most part lucky, and despite everything I truly am happy.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pinterest - the new obsession

I like to play with different types of technology.  Obviously I blog.  I occasionally tweet.  I have Facebook to keep in the loop with friends.  And recently I discovered Pinterest.  Oh how I discovered Pinterest, to be honest, I've gone slightly crazy with the pinning.

There are so many pretty, clever, sparkly things there but the thing that has really grabbed me is the amazing array of recipes.  I have a rule that I don't buy a recipe book unless it has a picture of every dish, Pinterest is like that on steriods.  I have pinned a crazy number of recipes and this weekend even managed to make a couple.

This hummus-crusted chicken is AMAZING.  Seriously roasted hummus is a fantastic flavour.  Next time I make it (and there will be a next time) I will probably season the chicken a bit more and put a bit more hummus on the vegies but those are the only changes I would make.

It was actually quite the chickpea focused weekend, because the other dish I tried was a chickpea and tomato salad.  Incredibly simple, so quick to make and truly tasty, this too is set to become a regular dish in our house.

Now just to make the next few dozen recipes I've pin!

Do you use Pinterest?  Whose boards should I be following?  You can find me at:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A walk in the country

S and I like to walk up the hill to visit my parents.  It is great exercise plus we tend to get tea and coffee and fed when we arrive (a yummy apple strudel today).

This afternoon we walked up, quite warm in the sunshine but after drinks and cake it had got to sunset before we left.  We walked along briskly, noticing how quickly the temperature had dropped and commenting on how different the perspective is from the car trip, or even walking in the other direction.  As we walked S suddenly stopped and said "Is that a wombat, or a wombat shaped bush?"  Sure enough it was a wombat!

As we walked further along we came across a mob of kangaroos on our path and that is not to mention the myriad of gorgeous birds we saw on our journey.

It was one of those walks that reminds me how privileged we are to live so close to nature.  Just a lovely little afternoon.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Vegemite Toast

Vegemite, love it, hate it, it is undoubtedly one of the tastes of Australia.

I am firmly in love it camp.  Vegemite for me is true comfort food.  If I'm feeling sad, sick or hungover a piece of toast with butter and the perfect amount of vegemite accompanied by a cup of tea is what I crave.  That said, it is also my go to snack when I'm feeling perfectly healthy too!

I've learned over the years how important it is to travel with Vegemite.  As fantastic as a long holiday is, you need some of those home comforts and the fact that vegemite comes in a squeezy tube means it is a perfect travel companion. 

When I travelled through South America in 2009 we quickly became weary of the sweet breakfasts.  Everything was sweetened, the bread, the spreads (which included of course the fab dulce de lece but there are only so many mornings you can eat toast topped with caramel), the cereal, even the yogurt they top cereal with.  It was a little overwhelming.  Then one morning we sat down to unsweetened bread.  Excited I jumped up and grabbed from my suitcase the tube of Vegemite that my travel companions had been teasing me about.  The teasing was over.  We got stuck into it and it was one of the best breakfasts of the trip.

Of course, as with any time you have vegemite in a foreign country the obvious happened, someone asked to try it.  Through our limited spanish we tried to explain that it isn't sweet but the look on her face when she took a bite was priceless.

This morning I sat curled on the couch with a plate of vegemite toast and a cup of English breakfast tea that had been perfectly made for me by S.  I was cozy in my trackies and uggs, the sun was shining in warming the room and as I took a bite I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and comfort.  It may not have been the most glamorous of mornings, but it was perfect.

Are you a vegemite lover?  And what is your go to comfort food?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dream house

Last night we had friends over for dinner and a few board games.  It was a lovely evening with too much food, lots of laughter and good natured threats of "death to you all" as people lost games.

Prior to everyone arriving I had my normal pre-entertaining panic that we wouldn't have enough food.  Luckily S is quite brilliant at talking me off the ledge and of course we had heaps - we will be eating the leftovers for a week despite the fact that many people had seconds and thirds and the evening went really quite late.

The whole thing reminded me why my dream house will include a dining table to seat at least 12.  In our tiny townhouse we can crowd 6 people around our table, and I mean crowd.  With 6 people it is elbows tucked in and barely space for the salt and pepper shakers.  As a result when we entertain it tends to be fork food, the kind of thing that people can eat sitting on the floor or the couch because if we have more than 4 guests that is what happens.

My dream is a huge table that I can fill with delicious food and surround with our lovely friends - and of course by necessity the gourmet kitchen that will allow me to cook like that will have to go with it.  It will have to have really comfy seats, the kind that lend themselves to long evenings of banter and debate.  And we will eat and laugh and the house will be filled with the warmth of good company and friendship.

For now I settle with making my friends sit on the floor, but one day, hopefully not too far away, I will have that table and a house to fit it in.

What features do you want in your dream house?  Is it a pool, a grand fireplace or just a giant table like me?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

ANZAC Pancakes with caramel pears

Today is ANZAC day.  A day that we pause to remember those who sacrificed their lives during the wars that have given us the freedoms we enjoy today.

There are many traditions associated with ANZAC day.  The dawn service - a service of remembrance undertaken in the freezing pre-dawn darkness.  Games of two up - a gambling game played by servicemen during war.  The Essendon v Collingwood football match - carn the bombers!  Being able to turn your heater on without shame in Canberra - and thank god because it was below 0 last night.  And of course ANZAC biscuits.

I've written about ANZAC biscuits before, but this year I didn't make any.  A lovely colleague made a giant batch so I didn't need to.  But I still felt somewhat of a need to have something with those flavours, hence the invention of these pancakes.

The flavour is lovely and very reminiscent of an ANZAC biscuit, however the added oats makes them VERY filling - I could only eat 2, S bravely at his 3 plus my extra one.  It certainly is the perfect hearty breakfast for a cold autumn morning.

Note: you will need to start this recipe the night before to allow the oats time to soak.

ANZAC Pancakes with caramel pears

1 1/3 cups milk
1/3 cup oats
1 egg
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup dessicated coconut
butter for the pan

In a small bowl soak the oats in 1/3 cup milk in the fridge overnight.

Whisk together the remaining milk, the egg and golden syrup.  Stir in the bicarb soda, flour, coconut and soaked oats.

Heat a frying pan over a medium high heat.  Add enough butter to have a light coating over the pan and drop in large spoonfuls of the mixture.  It should make about 6 medium sized pancakes.  Fry the pancakes till golden.  You know when they are ready to turn as bubbles will appear on the top and they go golden around the edges.

Serve hot with the caramel pears.

Caramel Pears
2 pears (I prefer burre bosc)
20g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup

Peal pears and cut each into 12 slices.

In a small pot melt the butter and golden syrup together until bubbling.  Add the pears, turn the heat to medium low and cook, stiring occasionally to ensure they are well covered in the caramel for about 15 minutes or until soft and cooked through.