Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Brrrrrrrrrr. It's cold out.

Well the mercury dipped to 5 degrees in Sydney town this morning (brrrrrrr) so naturally my thoughts turned to skiing. In 3 weeks we're hitting the slopes and we're more than a little excited in this house. Trent's new skis arrived last night (Dynastar Sultan Fluid 85s if you want to know) and they're pretty fabulous. I myself will be cruising on the old K2 Burnin' Luvs however, having just sold my faithful old boots on e-bay, I'll be excitedly strapping on some hot new boots this season. Stay tuned for pic. But in the meantime enjoy these beautiful snow pics. Don't they make you want to click in and hit it???

1. (above) Stunning back-country in Perisher. 2. The cable-car climbs gracefully up into the magnificent alps in Courchevel, France. 3. Trudes, Gaz and I in the Dolomites, Val di Fassa, Italy. 4. The beautiful village of Campitello, Val di Fassa, Italy. 5. Aunty Fi and I at Stratton Mountain, Vermont, USA.

Monday, June 28, 2010

SHL - Wardrobe Editor

So this past weekend, Orsie and I spent 2 lovely days with Grandma McPhillips (Jude) up in sunny Newcastle. But rather than sit around and drink tea, we embarked on a major overhaul of Jude's wardrobe. You see Jude and I have a bit of a tradition. When I go to visit, I help her chuck out all the stuff she can't bring herself to dispose of. And this time we clutter-busted not only her wardrobe (winter and summer) but we also cleaned out and rearranged her shed and hung up all those paintings and photos on the walls which have been waiting patiently for their big moment.

So her wardrobe is now beautifully organised and offers a treasure trove of nice things to choose from each morning. Mum no longer has an excess of painting and gardening clothes, her knits are folder nicely so that she can see what she's got, her old pantyhose have been relegated to the shed for gardening and the tracksuits of old are going to Vinnies. We cast a critical eye over all those clothes she'd been hanging onto forever: that suede jacket bought in Florence in 1991, the white cotton knee length skirt she no longer wore, that trio of unflattering capri pants, the collared polos which were past their prime, those satin shirts which she never wore and much more.

And as for the shed, Mum now has a gardening corner, paint tins stacked together (labels forward), all those sandpaper scraps in one bag, tools and drills organised, bottles of Eucalyptus oil, scotchguard, car wash and furniture polish clustered cosily up on a shelf, garden tools hanging usefully from the wall, and the most wonderful tall gardening bench under a sunny window (complete with gingham curtains craftily whipped up by Jude) just waiting for the day Mum wants to slip on the gloves and get planting. There's also a great collection of Mum's old riding gear (helmets, boots, gloves and crop) taking pride of place up the end on a high shelf. I tell you, it's a great looking shed - it's positively fabulous.

One of my Mum's many gorgeous traits is that she's been hanging onto a lot of stuff just in case one of her kids, family members or friends may ever need them (crutches, demountable wardrobe racks, window cleaners, deck chairs etc). But now they're all gone. Off to Vinnies, ebay or the council clean up pile and her place looks terrific. I'm hopeful that Mum feels fabulous this morning with her ship shape shed and wardrobe. There's nothing like throwing stuff out to focus the mind and give you a positive start.

So, if you fancy having me over to cast a stern eye over your wardrobe and help chuck out all that stuff up the top of closets, in your attic or in boxes under your bed, just give me a call. I'd be happy to help you start afresh and de-clutter.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Bit About Helen Mirren

What's all the fuss about Helen Mirren getting her boobs out? She's a glamorous woman, she's promoting her role in a new film Love Ranch and to my mind she's a fabulous 64 year old. If we can look at Robert Redford, George Clooney and Sean Connolly and admire them as they get older, why can't we do the same with Helen? I think she's an incredible actress, clever, funny, beautiful and super stylish and I say good for you Helen.

People seem to be very freaked out women getting their boobs out. In many countries today in 2010, including the Australia, the US and the UK, it's difficult for new mums to breastfeed in public because of the negative public sentiment about getting them out in public. Talk about silly!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Woman As PM

Well, well, well. Who'd have thunk it? It looks as though we'll get a new PM today and she's a lady. What will that mean for us? Hopefully the media and people of Australia will judge her as a politician and a leader not by her gender, choice of clothing, voice, un-married and childless status and hair colour.
Hesitant to focus too much on gender I have to admit I am hopeful that she represents the sisterhood well and remains true to her own policies and ideas. While she's at it, an overhaul of Rudd's pretty weak paid maternity leave offer and another push for an ETS would make me happy.

Gillard is known as a hardworking, forensic politician and one who can bring people together, a handy political tool to have in ones kit. Interestingly, she once commented that she didn't think she could have risen to this level in politics has if she'd had children which is a refreshingly honest statement and yet a stark reminder of why we need to implement proper paid maternity leave legislation.

We all know federal politics is a very tough gig, I certainly don't know many people tough enough to survive let alone thrive in that environment so I wish her good luck.

The Winter Salad... fantasy or reality?

Reality. Oui, c'est vrai!

This week, finding myself in the mood for a bit of the good old omega 3, I set out to create a tasty lunchtime meal for myself. I had one of those handy pieces of vacuum-sealed smoked trout and so I assembled a little bit of a winner. I'm calling it the Smoked Trout Winter Salad. Here's the (rough) recipe.

Smoked Trout Winter Salad
- Put 2 eggs on the stove in a small saucepan with water just covering the eggs. Bring to the boil and let them cook for 3.5 minutes or until soft boiled.
- Meanwhile,  place 2 big handfuls of washed baby rocket in a bowl.
- Flake the piece of smoked trout and toss to distribute throughout the rocket leaves.
- Add 1 very finely sliced shallot,  handful of chopped chives, handful of chopped dill, 2 tbspn capers, a good squeeze of lemon, a quick drizzle of olive oil, a quick mini-slosh of good white wine vinegar, a good grind of pepper and a small handful of crushed walnuts.
- Toss salad well.
- When the eggs are ready, peel and halve then place in salad.
(Serves 1 very hungry person).

So next time you come across one of those packets of smoked trout in the deli, pick one up, they're very handy and very delicious. Also, if you need a recommendation for a great white wine vinegar, try the Simon Johnson White Balsamic Condiment. So, good.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Three Little Rays of Sunshine

On Friday morning Orsie and I caught up with my gorgeous Aunty Helen and cousins Tess and Wizz. As always it was really lovely to see the goils. We perched ourselves outside in the beautiful winter sunshine at the Book Kitchen and caught up. Orsie had cuddles with everyone, sampled our food (Strawberry muffin, Banana Muffin, Orange and Almond Cake) and of course I took lots of photos. On the food front, the Strawberry Muffin was the star of the show, ever so slightly crunchy on the outside and deliciously moist and strawberryish on the inside. YUM!


Friday, June 18, 2010


Looking for a really tasty, warming and filling winter soup? I have it: Ribollita. The Tuscan bean and vegie soup with a hit of chili made its debut in our house this week and I think I'm in love.

I found the recipe in one of my current faves, Skye Gyngell's My Favourite Ingredients. She's got really simple but flavoursome recipes in this book, and it's  divided into chapters on each of her most loved ingredients including asparagus, beans, game, honey... you get the drift. I'm dying to visit her restaurant in London, (Petersham Nurseries Cafe, Richmond) next time I'm over there. I'm really inspired by her use of seasonal and local ingredients and the menu changes daily and weekly.

I'll cook some more delicious things from the book over the coming weeks and let you know how it goes. www.petershamnurseries.com/cafeandteahouse.asp

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Would You Like Some Culture With Your Coffee?

On Saturday morning the three of us hit Eveleigh Markets to dig out some tasty produce for dinner. We went with tagliatelle with duck ragu. YUM. Duck from Pepe's Ducks and pasta from Pasta Emilia. I think it was pretty tasty but not my best D.R effort yet.

Plenty of people there as always and some really good stalls. Pork, flowers, bagels, Yulla, cheese, wine, bread, meat, poultry, newspapers, chocolate brownies, cakes and a few really good organic fruit and vegie people.

Trent was very happy with the coffee however I was a little disappointed with my sausage roll. Sold cold (so i had to wait til I got home to heat it up) which was weird I thought and with pastry which was far too crumbly, I like a flaky pastry casing on a snag roll but not a crumbly one... eh, whaddya gonna to do.

Then, just opposite the markets there was a great free exhibition at Carriageworks. The photographs of Jacques L'Affrique AKA David Porter. As the blurb said, "With daring and skill L'Affrique/Porter captured what are now iconic images of Australian cultural history, recording almost every great concert from 1971-1974." Really cool pics - all black and white with subjects like Daddy Cool, Elton John, Jethro Tull, Rick Springfield, Billy Thorpe, Germaine Greer, Michael Gudinski. Very gritty. Very rock n roll and very 1970's Australia - lots of tinnies, tight t-shirts and short shorts. Very cool. Worth a look.

There's also a pretty zany 3D art exhibition there worth a squiz, featuring work by Vernon Treweeke. Known as the "father of Australia psychedelia", Vernon has been creating UV and 3D art since the late 70's. Kind of kooky with lots of big boobs and bums and fluorescent colours. They provide 3D glasses  which we sported in a most chic manner... not!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Here's Wally!

My old school buddy Kate Walsh was in Sydney a few weeks ago catching up with family and friends so you'll imagine my excitement when she popped in for a visit to catch up and meet Orsie. Just wait til you hear what her new job is... she's the Communications Director of Slow Food in New York. Hello??Dream job!

Kate's having a great old time in NYC and seems really content and energised about life and I can't wait to hear more about her new job and all the great food she'll have to indulge in along the way.

Katie it was so lovely to see you again, stay in touch. I'm thrilled we got to shoot the breeze like old times.

Friday, June 11, 2010

"I Just Changed A Nappy on the Floor of Zigolini's".

There are few better ways to kick off a day than with a big belly laugh and my friend Leash gave me that yesterday morning when I caught up with her for brunch. Leash gave me a kiss and muttered the line above with fantastic deadpan delivery.

So it turns out that it's true what all those sage people with children say about kids soiling their nappies at the most inopportune times. Little Sammy managed to do some work right then and there in the chi chi Woollahra cafe prompting Leash to have to change her on the floor in front of other patrons and as luck (or not as the case may be) Orsie and I were running late as he too decided to produce a little something for me just as we were leaving the house. Good times.

Ah anyway, Sammy is a sight to behold with the most fantastic hair I've ever seen on a baby and these gorgeously smiling big blue eyes. She recently had to have a haircut because her hair was starting to look as though it was shaping itself into a comb-over.

So we enjoyed a fabulously civilised meal (for me it was the omelette and Leash had the scrambled eggs) and a great old chat.  We covered it all off... our babies, husbands, lack of sleep, food, Isabel Marant jackets and shopping. It was nice.

We then wandered over to the very fabulous Victor Churchill butcher to continue the conversation (ovens, steaks, whether our husbands cook dinner when we're out, schnitzels). Next stop was Seed. This is always dangerous territory for me and my credit card and today was no different. You see the four letters S.A.L.E were in the window so as a result Orsie has some new winter wardrobe additions. All very necessary of course. There was less chatting here as we were split up - Leash shopped the right hand side of the store where the girls clothes are positioned, and I the right. Then it was a cheeky squiz in Lesley McKays book shop, an old fave which always inspires me to pick up a book. (FYI, Pip they'd sold out of the Dukan Diet too). Topics covered here included kids books, kids birthday cards and reading to babies. And our final stop was the newsagent. There were a few new home magazines that I needed to pick up as I am currently deeply entrenched in kitchen renovation planning. It was outside the newsagent that our final items were tabled - prams, maternity leave, working from home and the (apparently) very difficult phase when one has to transition from full time motherhood to full time work.

I think I can safely say that we managed to solve at least some of the problems in our little world... there's no rush of course, we've got plenty more time to sort it out.

Thanks Leash. It was fun.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Exersaucer Saved My Life

You see Orsie's teething right now. No, it's not as bad as you'd imagine. No vomiting, incessant screaming etc. but let's just say he's a little... clingy. Where he's normally very happy to amuse himself while I put the washing on the line (or in the dryer as the case seems to be at the moment), right now, he wants me in the same room at all times. Tricky. Don't get me wrong, I love snuggling with him on the sofa, he is the perfect cuddle size right now, but a lady can't be doing this all day long now can she???

Enter the Exersaucer. I first came upon the Exersaucer in Singapore when Nicole kindly lent hers to Prudie while we were staying with her. Orsie loved it. So I made it my mission to track one of these puppies down when I got home. Trudes very helpfully let me know that Toys R Us sell one for $79 (believe me that's a bargain compared to the $300+ gadget Baby Bunting was trying to peddle) so I set out to snare me an Exersauser and snare I did.

Let's just say Orsie is a very happy person.

POSTSCRIPT: Please note. I wrote this about 5 days ago and as of today I can confidently say that teething absolutely does involves screaming.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


Just back from Sex and the City 2 and the verdict? I liked it. Let's face it, like most hard core SATC fans I'm easily pleased. Just put the girls up on the big screen in an array of fabulous outfits, in glamorous locations and there I'll be, grinning from ear to ear for 2.5 hours. OK so there were a few scenes where I felt myself cringing (Samantha's declarations of, "YES! I have sex!" to a throng of unimpressed Muslim men in in a souk), but I didn't cringe because I felt it inappropriate. I cringed because I was embarrassed for her. Samantha is glamorous, confident and in control. Always. So to see her fall apart at the seams, in a public place is a little is uncomfortable for me.

Many serious film critics have panned the film for being culturally insensitive and inappropriate but I disagree. The girls asked questions that I too would ask. How do Muslim women eat french fries while wearing the traditional veil? No, I wouldn't humiliate a woman by asking her that but I can see myself pondering this while enjoying a drink with my friends. And no, personally I'm not comfortable with the idea that women must cover themselves in public and not speak, walk alongside a husband or have a job. No, those ideas don't wash with me but I understand that it happens and I show tolerance and respect the decision of women who choose live in this way.

As for laugh-out-loud moments, I can't say there were that many for me, certainly less than the first film although i do recall letting out a big belly laugh at the sight of Miranda circa 1986 sporting that horrific mushroom haircut. But despite not laughing as much as many of the other girls in the screening I attended, I still very much enjoyed it. I guess it was more of a savoring thing. I just enjoyed seeing the girls in all their glory again. They don't have to do much to impress me.

And then there's the eye candy. When it comes to SATC, largely for me, it's about the clothes. There are many items of clothing in this movie I'd very much like to own but sadly cannot afford. So, to the fashion... my wish list from the film includes:

Carrie's Galliano for Dior newspaper dress for looking so great on her all those years later, Samantha's gold harem pants - a knockout and beautifully matched with that sawdust belted jacket, Miranda's Etro print pant suit (arriving at the hotel in Abu Dhabi) and the fabulous shrug worn with it, not to be confused with her camel riding outfit with geometric patterns up top, didn't like that at all. Then there was Carrie's vintage j'adore Dior t-shirt worn with silver short sleeved bolero and violet ball gown skirt (shopping in the souk) which was genius.  As was her stunning midnight blue evening gown with split to thigh worn to drinks with Aiden. There was a also a fabulous white cropped jacket with crystal detail on the arms (Carrie), a dreamy print lightweight kaftan (worn as nightgown by Carrie) and that fabulous burnt orange pleat maxi dress (Carrie again).

Interestingly, we didn't see much of Steve, Smith and Harry which was a bit of a shame. I like seeing the girls in their relationships but I guess that was SATC1 - this film was all about the ladies. Oh, and was it just me or did Big look particularly hot? I've never really fancied Big. Charming, charismatic, chic - yes, yes and yes. But devilishly handsome? Comme ci comme ca. But in SATC2? Yep, I get it. I see it. And that fabulous vintage Rolex did little to dampen his allure.

The close-ups revealed that a little botox and restalyn has been indulged in by the ladies but who can blame them. Competing with twenty-somethings in Hollywood and trying to stay out of the trashy mag "Stars Without Make-Up" editions must be a daunting task.

Since the TV series finished we fans have been starved of Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda and this film just gives us another taste of the fun, friendship and fashion we've missed. Like sherbet is to a healthy diet, SATC2 is pretty bad as a film but wonderfully sweet and enjoyable nonetheless.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Little Apple

A few weekends ago, Trent and I took our first holiday alone since Orsie was born and what a nice break it was. No early wake-ups, no middle of the night feeds... just the two of us chilling out in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere. Well, in the little town of Bilpin to be more precise.

As you can see below, the cabin was tiny (the Disco gave it a run for its money size wise) but not short on charm and warmth. For some reason, I neglected to read up on our digs before arriving (most unlike me, must have been busy sterilising bottles) and so I found myself worrying all the way up the Bells Line of Road about whether or not there would be an open log fire in our cabin. Ah yes, there was, and she was a real beauty.

Bilpin is tucked away up in the Blue Mountains (up the hill from Richmond) and as you probably know, is best known for its fruit - particularly apples. We stayed at the very cosy Ghost Hill Road b&b www.ghosthillroad.com.au hosted by welcoming and energetic Brenda McCartney. Brenda owned a yoga studio in Sydney for 20 years before making the tree change to Bilpin with her husband to open Ghost Hill Road.  She takes a yoga class every morning on the sun drenched verandah of her home at 9am. I however, had to give that a miss. After all, I had a date with my old pal SLEEP.

We dined at the nearby Apple Bar in Bilpin (below) and fell in love with their signature pizzas. I took care of a chevre and prosciutto pizza and Trent inhaled the pizza chorizo. It seems weird to be blown away by a salad, but blown away we were by the delicious rocket, pear, pine nut and pecorino salad. So good. Of course no meal is complete without pudding and for us it was the very rich and luscious flourless Belgian chocolate cake.

In my opinion, one can't journey to the Blue Mountains (or the Southern Highlands for that matter) without partaking in the ritual that is the Devonshire Tea and so we did. Once again, we weren't disappointed. Brenda recommended Sassafrass Creek www.sassafrascreek.com.au and for good reason. We were a little sceptical about what sort of tucker we would find in nearby Kurrajong but this little gem delivered. The perfect scones - warm, comforting and delicate accompanied with just enough jam and cream. The cafe also serves as a gift shop and local artisans (of which there seem to be many) and crafty types sell their wares here. Once again proving that one can shop in the most unlikely of destinations.

Girls Night Out

When I find myself wiping up yet another spilled bowl of pear and rice cereal mush or throwing a half-eaten teething rusk at one of the all too regular redneck guests on Dr Phil, I like to start planning my outfit for the next Girls Night Out (GNO) or at very least contemplate the menu of the chosen restaurant.

Our most recent assault on Sydney after dark took place in Crows Nest - home of the Peacock Gardens Chinese restaurant. You see we like to mix things up us ladies... see all of Sydney, not just our usual haunts and we all kind of love Chinese food. About half the regular GNO attendees live on the northside so it's only fair to split the events on both sides of the bridge.

For the first time, we organised (that's the royal 'we', by we I actually mean my friend Boh) a banquet and pre-ordered wines. Now what a revelation that was. No fussing about with debates over fried versus steamed, no having to sell-in your fave entree to the group, just a seemingly endless flow of good food being deposited on our generous lazy Susan.

My favourites included the Sesame Prawn Toast (a triumph), Salt & Pepper squid (I know, it's everywhere but not often done this well) and a pretty damn fabulous Bombe Alaska (below). My word what a fine beast it was.

After that, we found ourselves sharing a very smooth bottle of wine (Curly Flat Pinot Noir) at nearby wine bar Small Bar www.smallbar.net.au/. I think it's safe to say that a good time was had by all. I think this was evidenced by pictures found on my camera the next day including Trudie wearing Iggy's beanie (top) and this little gem featuring Kailey who suffered a sartorial disaster in the form of a skirt malfunction (below). In true style, Kails managed to make it work by turning it round the other way. Good times.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


As mentioned previously, Orsie and I decided to tag along with Trent on his trip to tropical Phuket for the iMedia conference and let's just say, it was gooood! Having never been to Thailand before, I was pretty taken with the very small part I saw. Everything I'd heard prior to the trip was true: genuinely friendly people, incredibly tasty and fresh food and relentless heat.

Orsie and I spent our days exploring the beautiful Indigo Pearl resort, the nearby Nai Yang beach (Andaman Sea) and the tiny beach side village which lay just outside the resort back gate. But for me it was all about the food. And boy, did I eat. Since Trent was in the conference all day for 3 days, I made it my business to graze my way through the room service menu which was full of really delicious local Thai food. Wonderful spicy flavours, steamed greens I'd never seen before and the best crab cakes I've EVER tasted. I was just thrilled to see that the menu was made up of local and traditional options not tailored to generic global tourism.

On that same track, I was surprised by the limited English spoken by all the hotel staff. To be honest, at first I found myself feeling irritated - it took several minutes sometimes to book a nanny or order a meal but after a day or so I realised that this was a good thing. How cool to really have to try and communicate with someone from somewhere else. I actually felt like I was travelling for a moment there! Rare in 2010 I think.

Tales of the Exotic Far East

So it can be done. In April, Orsie and I travelled to Singapore and Thailand to accompany Trent on a business trip. Oh yes, I was definitely apprehensive about boarding a plane for seven hours with a five and a half month old baby, anxious even but god love him, he seemed to really enjoy the experience.

So I caught up with the gorgeous Prudie and was even able to be there to celebrate a few birthdays (Prue's, Anthony's and Nicole's). We celebrated on a Friday night overlooking the bright lights of Singapore at the Orgo bar. A seriously hot and steamy night (as seems to be the case almost always in Singapore) cooled down with a few glasses of refreshing French, chilled beers and lots of party food. And there was no shortage of food. I for one sampled many of the tasty rissole sandwiches which were a surprising but very tasty accompaniment for the champers.

Other Singapore activities included lots of swimming, hanging at the Hollandse Club (more swimming), tennis, lunches with Prue's new Singers friends, dinners, a workout with Prue and Nicole's delightful trainer, Leigh... oh, and a spot of shopping.