Saturday, August 21, 2010

Short Break: Can we date?

Sorry for the lack of posts. I hurt my back at the gym earlier this week and it really zapped my energy, and TLG is sick again! *sigh*

I think I need some retail therapy soon!

This put a smile on my face (click picture to enlarge).



My favourite? "Yes, for the love of god, someone please have sex with the dungeon master!"

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend, and I'll be back soon.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Coffee substitute test 1 - Yannoh "coffee"

Some of you may remember that I'm taking a break from coffee.

I have fallen off the wagon a few times in the last 2 weeks but on a whole I'm been fine.  I was surprised that I managed to function some days!

I'm still in the search of a hot and rich drink as a substitute.  I finally managed to visit a health food store in the weekend and bought a few things to try.

First off the bat is Yannoh "coffee", made by a New Zealand company called Golden Fields ($6 for 25 satchels).


The blend is a Japanese recipe that is meant to create an "overall pleasing and strong taste with coffee-like flavour, sweetness and body".


I made my first cuppa on Saturday.  First I tried it without milk - it tasted like genmaicha (Japanese green tea with brown rice).  I didn't think it would work with milk, but surprising it did.  The initial "feel" was thick and almost coffee-like, although the richness dropped away afterwards.  It didn't taste like coffee, but it was pleasant and smooth.  The only minus was that I left it infusing for too long so it was colder than I'd like.

I had another one yesterday and it was a lot more watery, I suspect I didn't have the water/tea ratio right.

This morning I had my third cup in the office.


It was somewhere between the first and second cup in terms of satisfaction.  I put more milk in so it was richer, but it made my tongue a bit dry by the end.

On a whole I was happy to have find this alternative, and I'll keep in on the rotation, but it wasn't IT.  I will try out the next option soon and report back.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why is finding a shoulder bag so hard?

I was very close to buying this MICHAEL Michael Kors bag last weekend when it was on sale at theOutnet.com:


It worked out to be £109 (~$A190) which is fantastic value. I liked the design and I loved the colour. However I didn't go through with the purchase because it was too big. With a width of 16" / 41cm it was about 25% larger than what I want.

Since then, I've been on a mission to find a shoulder bag.  My requirements are fairly simple:
  • Shoulder bag
  • Leather
  • Suitable for work but also work with casual wear
  • Not black, preferably a bright colour
  • Budget of "a few" hundred colours - i.e. not a luxury designer bag
I've been going through multiple websites, and my problem is that the bags I want are all too big.

For instance, I liked the Madison Leather Brynne from Coach ($US498).  Stylish, fun colour, and nice soft leather.  All good, right?


Except for the fact that it is massive.


The smaller bags from Coach just don't look as interesting (e.g. Mia Patent Mini Maggie, $US199).


It is a similar story across many different websites, and I was very frustrated.

I thought about this Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Baby Groovee Satchel ($US348).


However Mr Curious dampened my interest by saying that it looks like a nanna bag (which it does I guess), and the colour is not exactly inspiring.

After lots of searching, this is the #1 choice.


It's another Marc by Marc Jacobs bag - the Classic Q Little Ukita Satchel ($US398) in Rosie.

It is bright and cheery which is perfect for summer, I like the look of the leather, and the cross shoulder strap makes it more versatile.

It is probably still a bit bigger than I want but I think I can live with that.


What do you think, dear CCM readers?  Should I go for it? Or do you have any suggestion?

P.S. I have bought the MBMJ bag! Read about it here.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sake Sake take 1

I have been wanting to try out the new Japanese restaurant at Cammeray Square for a while.  The first time I went with TLG for lunch they didn't have any high chairs; the second time I was meant to go with my mothers' group but I was sick on the day.  Finally with my brother and TLG we paid Sake Sake a visit today.

My brother and I liked the decor - it's modern with a Japanese touch.


Aren't the lamps cool?  They reminded me of an art installation I saw earlier this year.


I liked the multi-layer seat cushions with various Japanese fabrics (they were comfy too).


With a small child in tow, I did not order any sake and opted for a tea instead.  The tea I chose was called "Gorgeous sencha" ($3) - a strawberry-flavoured green tea.  Very soothing and I enjoyed the slight sweetness and the beautiful aroma.


We ordered two dishes to share between the three of us.  The first is the Sake Sake Bento box ($28).


The bento box was full of goodies - 6 pieces of sashimi, 4 mini California rolls, chicken teriyaki, tempura (including 2 prawns) and orange roughy fillet with tamago.  It also came with miso soup (no rice but they gave us a small bowl for no charge when we requested for some).  TLG enjoyed the roughy and some of the chicken, and my brother and I took care of the rest.  They were all good without being spectacular.

We also ordered a large sushi platter ($34).


There were a few pieces missing in the photo because I started eating too soon.  The fish and scallops were fresh and sweet.

Here's a close up of one of the sushi pieces.

 

My brother commented that the ginger was very good and I agreed.

We were served by a delightful Japanese waitress, who was very smitten by TLG.  He is going to be a ladykiller one day!

Overall I thought the meal was pretty good value.  I will reserve final judgment until I come back again and sample more dishes and of course a few glasses of sake!

Sake Sake
Stockland Cammeray
Level Ground, Shop 16
450 Miller St
Cammeray
(02) 9922 2288


Celebrity fashion: Lea Michele

I'm not a Gleek but I do enjoy the show, and Lea Michele is definitely a star in the making (even though Rachel Berry is often annoying and I like the episodes that focus on the other characters).

I really like Lea's style - I'd describe it as "elegant with a twist". She's not the cookie cutter Hollywood starlet - she (or her styler) really knows her stuff!

This is the outfit that made me write this post (from a Fox Network event earlier this month).


Gold prints can be tacky but this Reem Acra dress works really well.  I also like the asymmetrical cut.  I wish I can wear nude lipstick like Lea!

One thing I really like about her is that she is very versatile.  She can do dramatic (at the Golden Globes).


The earrings she wore are to died for.  I WANT!


She can also do sexy (People's Choice award).


This is her latest award show outing - at the Teen Choice award earlier this week.


It's another interesting print that not everyone can carry off.

She is getting a bit on the skinny side compared to earlier photos.  She still looks healthy but I think she looks better when she was a little bit more curvy.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Power lunch

Want a fast, cheap and healthy lunch? Try this recipe from my personal trainer (hi Charlie!).

Ingredients:

1 can of tuna (flavour of your noitce, I like old school tuna in olive oil - hehe may not be the healthiest option)
1 can of 4 beans salad
a handful of corn (you can use the can variety; I go for fresh or frozen ones myself)

Cook the corn (if needed), rinse the beans, combine and presto!

tuna,beans,corn

It's not just good for you, it is yummo!  And TLG likes it too so it's an easy toddler meal as well.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Roasted stuffed mushrooms

I don't cook vegetarian meals very often because Mr Curious and I are both meat lovers, but this recipe in last Sunday's Body and Mind looked promising, so I gave it a go last night.

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Sautéing the mushroom stocks, onion and garlic.

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The recipe asked for English spinach but I only wrote spinach in the shopping list so I bought the spinach with white stems (what are those spinach called?). I used it anyway hoping that it'll work.  I soaked the leaves in the hot water for 1 minute instead of 30 seconds to account for the thicker leaves.

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To the chopping board.

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The filling, with low fat ricotta cheese, lemon rind and sunflower kernels.

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Ready for the oven.

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Served with rocket leaves, tomatoes and cameralised fog and balsamic vinegar dressing.

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I made 8 with the plan for us to have 2 each and save 4 for the next day but it was so yummy I had 3 and Mr Curious had 4!  The last one we saved for TLG.

This recipe ranks very high in the effort : result ratio and I'll definitely make it again.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Earning his stripes

After getting custom made suits and shirts in Hong Kong earlier this year, Mr Curious is looking for new ties.  He didn't find anything at the shops, and in a moment of inspiration I headed for Etsy.

rabbitshop was one of the top search results for "silk ties", and at US$17.95 each they are fantastic value.  We went through the 400+ ties on offer and settled on seven.

Mr Curious' style is what I'd call elegant (codeword for conservative) so no weird colours or tiny animal prints for him.  In fact all the ties we chose are of the stripy variety!  Thankfully with variations in colour, stripe thickness and subtle patterns the combinations are endless.  Here are two of the ties coming our way.



I'll ask Mr Curious to model when the ties arrive, so watch this space.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Short Break: New Dress A Day

I found a very interesting and inspirational website via jogirl.com (which is a great website for women about finances).

Here's Marisa explaining her year-long project:
This year, I will be foregoing trips to Bloomies and Nordstrom for brand new gear. Goodbye to H&M purchases and accessory grabbing at Forever 21. And seeing the “must have” French Connection dress in People’s Style Watch will just have to suffice as a cut out on my inspiration board.

Instead, the only shopping that I’ll be able to do is that of pieces that have been used and worn already. So long to mall trips and hello to sifting through piles of vintage pieces at flea markets and at neighborhood garage sales. Each day for the entire year, I’m going to introduce a new piece into my existing wardrobe that I’ve found from these places. On top of this, I’m giving myself a budget of $1 a day.

One person’s trash is becoming my treasure this year.
Each day she blogs about the transformation of a pre-loved outfit into something appropriate for 2010.

Here's an example.  BEFORE:


And AFTER:


Pretty impressive huh?

I may not love every outfit she created but I applaud her ingenuity and creativity, and it's fun to see the improvement in her designs as the year progresses.

You can check out Marisa's website here.


Friday, August 6, 2010

ASOS clearance bargains

It's Friday night, TLG is asleep, Mr Curious is watching some sci-fi TV show, so what am I do to? Diamond in Champagne's blog led me to ASOS.

I have never bought anything on ASOS, for some reason the website is not top of mind when I go online shopping.  Tonight it had my full attention because there is a clearance sale on!

So far I've picked out these four dresses.  Not sure if I'll buy any of them ... I'm interested in your opinions.

For work:

French Connection Scoop Neck Jersey Dress £24


Poltock & Walsh at ASOS Fitted Sculpted Zip Ruffle Sleeve Dress £75



Casual wear:

Selected Femme Graphic Print Dress £32


Iska Sequin Panel Dress £11(!)


Should I be getting any or all of these dresses?


Breakfast at the office

I have been in the hunt for a hot drink substitute since the start of my "coffee-fast".

Someone recommended chai latte so I bought one when I was at work earlier this week.

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On the positive side, it was frothy just like a cappuccino, and I enjoyed the spices.  However it was way too sweet for my liking, even though I didn't ask for any sugar.  It must be the blend that the cafe used.  So the hunt continues.

That morning I listened to my personal trainer's advice and "ate like a king" for breakfast.

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I made it in the office and a few colleagues were surprised that I was able to cook the eggs.  I thought the microwave egg cooker is fairly commonplace but maybe I'm wrong.

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It is super easy - cracked the eggs, used a fork to pierce the yolks, put a small spoonful of water, then zapped in the microwave for about a minute.  The other side is supposed to be for cooking bacon but I've never used it.

I'm quite sure I bought it from Kmart years ago.  Give it a try if you're looking for an easy hot breakfast in the office.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lemming: Bottega Veneta A/W 2010 dress

Browsing August's UK Vogue today, saw this dress and it really caught my attention.  I took a photo of the magazine with my phone so I can search for it when I get home.


Beautiful colour, feminine but also has a sense of fun.  I really like the embellished shoulders, even though I'm not a fan of power shoulder at all.  I think this will look great as a full length gown as well.

I went through the collection and these also made my lemming list:


This one is no surprise because it's in the same vein as the first dress.


This one is not my usual style at all, and it probably doesn't suit me, but I like the textured squares on the top and the balloon skirt looks fun.

The rest of the collection is a bit of a miss for me.  I wonder who will (can) look good in this ensemble?



Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Question Time: Is motherhood a breeze?

According to journalist Jacinta Tynan, it is. Here's an excerpt of her article.

Yes it is tiring, and yes it is time consuming with showers and emails a sudden extravagance. But it is not hard. Hard is being tied to a soulless job for 80% of your waking hours. Hard is fighting cancer, or having a child who is. Or not being able to conceive a child when you ache for nothing more. Soothing a crying baby who won’t sleep for love nor money is a privilege not a hardship. Wiping spew off your jacket before bolting out the door to a meeting is funny, not a drama.

Mia Freedman interviewed Jacinta where she clarified her position.  You can also read Jacinta's article in full via the link.

My initial reaction was close to Mia's friend.  Having thought about it a bit more, these are some of my observations:
  • Sleep deprived new mothers may (over-)emphasise the difficult aspects of motherhood when talking to others but I am yet to come across one mother who isn't thankful and appreciative of the overall experience.  Talking about the difficulties is a way of coping, especially when you find other mothers having the same experience.  That's why mothers' group is so helpful. 
  • On the other hand I can see why some mothers feel the need to "hide" their joy because of judgment from others.  One of the mums in my mothers' group had a smooth birth which she enjoyed.  She told us that she became reluctant sharing her story with others because of other people's reactions such as "well, aren't you lucky?", "oh you had it too easy".  I suspect Jacinta may have had a similar experience.
  • Jacinta said "My mum had six children, no help and, on occasions, a job. Yet she gave it her all with grace and joy. Our generation acts as if we deserve a medal."  Most women in earlier generation would have much less support on child rearing from their partners, so is the current generation too "soft"?  I don't know the answer but here are two thoughts: 
  • I suspect if we travel back in time and talk to mothers from the previous generation when they were raising their newborns, their stories will not be all coming up roses.  And if we travel to the future and ask mothers with adult children to recall the early years of motherhood, they'll mostly recall a joyful and fulfilling experience instead of their hardship.
  • I have a feeling that mothers in earlier generations face less pressure to be a "super mum".  Mothers nowadays are not only expected to fulfil the basic needs of a baby (food, warmth, security) but they must make sure everything is "optimised".  We should master every step of the baby's physical and mental developments or else we're not being a good mum.  Babies must have the optimal amount of tummy time, visual/aural/sensual stimulation, physical movement, exposure to music and art, nutritional mix (all home made of course) etc etc.  I venture to guess that mothers in previous generations were more pragmatic in their approach, and therefore were less stressed.
Overall I think it is a thought provoking article and she raised some valid points - I just wished she made her case without judging other mothers' experiences and their need to express themselves.

What do you think?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mini-Break

Yesterday was a big milestone for Mr Curious and I - it was our 7-year dating anniversary, and it was also the first night we spent without TLG since he was born!  It was a much needed time off for the two of us.  Sleeping without a baby monitor (or TLG in our bed) is such a luxury.

Here are a few snippets of our mini-break.

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View from Mrs Macquarie's Chair of the Harbour Bridge. The bench we were sitting on has a small plaque from a wife in memory of her deceased husband - "for all the wonderful time we spent here". It was very touching.

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An unintentional snap which turned out quite nicely.  I love shadows.

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I think I have a new addiction (and for the record I finished it).

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The Opera House is striking at night.

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Mr Curious makes his first appearance on CCM!  We both love the Bridge.

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Nice contrast between the old and the new.

Two recommendations:
  • The hazelnut hot chocolate at Lindt Cafe - it's on for a limited time only so be fast!
  • The Paths of abstraction exhibition at AGNSW is excellent - a fascinating journey of paintings from reflections of real life to expressions of an artist's mind.

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