Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekend tidbits

This weekend sure went by quickly!

We had my FIL's birthday dinner at home on Friday night. Unfortunately Mr Curious had to stay late at work so he missed out. I managed to overcook all the T-bone steaks so even my one was well done (I usually go for medium-rare). Major fail ;-/

Saturday was a beautiful day in Sydney so had a picnic lunch at a local park. We had the St Malo mud cake for dessert.


What an exceptional cake!  It was rich and smooth but not at all heavy, and the chocolate used in the cake was top nosh.  I'm looking forward to trying other cakes from the shop.

After lunch I popped by Chatswood to get a few essentials (read nappies) and managed to lay my hands on the kit cosmetics makeup set.  I may do a review post in the next few days.

After we put TLG in bed, Mr Curious, my FIL, and BIL and I gathered around the dinner table for a game of Upwords.  Both sides of our families are fans of board games, and Upwords is a fun word-based game that I find more enjoyable than Scrabble.



This morning I made french toast with maple syrup. One word: yum.


After breakfast I headed to the Baby and Kids market at Lane Cove.  It's a good place to pick up some good quality pre-loved toys and books.  The purchase of the day was a fire truck with extendable ladder similar to the one below for a princely sum of $2, TLG was super-excited about "my fire truck".


And tonight I crossed off 2 things that were on my to-do list for way too long.

1. Finished Mr Curious' tax return.  We knew he had to pay so there was no incentive to do it any earlier.

2. Gave my makeup brushes a good clean with baby shampoo.  They were so dirty!  I must do it more often.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vego day

I am trying to improve my diet. One of the things I want to do is to reduce my meat intake. Today's a good day to start, because I'm going to have a meat fest this weekend (tomorrow is my FIL's birthday and he is visiting us for the next few days).

For breakfast, I took TLG to St Malo Bakery at Crows Nest.


We shared a raspberry muffin (well, TLG picked out all the raspberries and I was left with the muffin). Thankfully the whole thing was yummo. I liked that it was not too sweet. They make a nice cup of coffee too. You can read more about the bakery here.

It was a happy accident that we went there, as they also make cakes and I bought a flourless chocolate mud cake as my FIL's birthday cake. I'll post about it later.

Then we went to Green Gourmet for lunch.  They have a shelf with brochures at the front of the store and I found a product catalogue for Lamyong, a company that make vegetarian/vegan products.  There are some good recipes in the catalogue as well. I emailed them about stockists in Sydney, so hopefully I can make some of the dishes at home in the future.

And finally for dinner, I made chickpea and couscous filled capsicum.  I followed the suggestions from the recipe comments and added garlic and feta cheese, and I served it with rocket and ox heart tomato salad.


I love the kick from the cayenne pepper, and the contasting sweetness of the dates.  Add to that the juicy freshness of the capsicum, the nutty flavours from the chickpeas, and the dish is a winner.  It's super easy to make, and low fat to boot.  I'm thinking about adding this to our Christmas lunch menu.

I finish off the evening with a few Mint Slices, hehe I needed something naughty!

St Malo Bakery
83 Willoughby Road
Crows Nest
(02) 9906 6256

P.S. I found my sunnies! From Vogue, blue frame with brown lenses. Fit my face perfectly, and on sale. ^_^


P.P.S. It's only five weeks until Fiji!  Maybe I should set up a countdown clock on the side of the blog.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Short Break: kit cosmetics Spring has Sprung kit

kit cosmetics' SPF 30+ face sunscreen is my everyday sunscreen.  It's a great forumulation that is not sticky or oily.

kit has a special pack available at the moment call "Spring has Sprung". For $44.95 you get:

Duo Cheek & Lip Crème "Turn it On"
Nail Polish "Full Throttle"
Lip Balm "Wild Strawberry"
SPF 30+ face sunscreen


The colours are perfect for summer. It's a great buy as the sunscreen costs $31.95 on its own. I'm going to check it out tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Suit up in Oz and another Leona?

The tailor that Mr Curious went to in HK is in Australia this week and next, click here to see the flyer.

I mentioned yesterday that I'm on a shopping ban, but I popped by Leona Edmiston's website and the Bethia Button dress from the Ruby collection is on sale for $75 (RRP is $149). I have already tried on the dress and I really like it but didn't buy it on the day (they had a 2 for $200 deal but I can't find a second dress to buy). What to do?



Monday, October 25, 2010

Two weeks

Yes, it has been 2 weeks since my last blog entry. I have been thinking about the blog regularly, but somehow never got around to putting pen on paper ... ah that should be fingers on keyboard :-)

I think my loss of blogging mojo started when I decided to go on a shopping ban. Regular readers of this blog know that I've received a few parcels lately, and whilst none of the things I bought were overly expensive, I was getting used to buying for buying's sake. When I was going through shopbop trying to find something to buy (they had a 20% off all items a few weeks ago) I thought it was time to take a break. I should at least wear the new clothes in my wardrobe before buying any more!

Of course there are lots of clothes that I can't wear because I haven't lost any weight this year. I know the problem - too much snacks and dessert, and not enough exercise.  I need to refocus.

Here are some snippets from the past fortnight:

TLG is making an appearance (for a limited time - it's over!). He was being a little adventurer at our local park.

I caught up with my friend KK for lunch last week.  I had a delicious burger at a cafe close to her place (Catherine & Piper, 360 Catherine St, Lilyfield).


It was also our wedding anniversary last week.  Mr Curious and I were planning to go the noodles market in the city, but I didn't feel well on the day so we stayed at home and ordered some Thai takeaway.  Mr Curious bought me these lovely cupcakes from Cupcakes at Pitt.


I'll be back with a cooking post soon, promise!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chicken, artichoke and broad bean stew

I'm falling a bit behind with my blogging. I cooked this dish on Wednesday night but it was such a yummy dish, I feel it is my duty to share it with you.

It is a recipe from the Murdoch Fast Food cookbook, which is a handy book to have in the pantry.  Below is the recipe with my comments in italics.

Ingredients

1 cup (155g) frozen broad beans
8 chicken thighs on the bone (skin removed, optional) - I bought chicken thigh fillets rather than on-the-bone
1/2 cup (60g) seasoned plain flour - I didn't use anywhere near 1/2 cup, probably only half
2 tablespoons oil
1 large red onion, cut into small wedges
1/2 cup dry white wine - I bought a $8 bottle of sauvignon blanc from Marlborough
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
340g marinated artichokes, well drained and quartered
6 button mushrooms, sliced
800g potatoes, cut into large pieces
60g butter - used about 30g only

Instructions

1. Coat the chicken in flour and shake off the excess.  Heat the oil in a saucepan then brown the chicken in two batches on all sides over medium heat.


The thights from my butcher were so big I only used six.

Remove and drain on crumpled paper towels.

2. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 3 - 4 minutes, or until soft but not brown.  Increase heat to high, pour in the wine and boil for 2 minutes, or until reduced to a syrup.


Stir in 1 cup of the stock and bring just to the boil, then return the chicken to the saucepan with the rosemary.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.  I did it for only 30 minutes and it was fine.

3. Boil the frozen broad beans then drain and remove the skins from the broad beans.  This was actually the first step in the recipe but I think it can be done at this stage.  And the book didn't ask for the broad beans to be boiled.  Trust me, if you don't boil the beans first you can't remove the skins! 

4. Add the artichokes and mushrooms, increase the heat to high and return to the boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 - 15 minutes.


Add the beans and cook for 5 minutes.

5. Make mash potatoes with butter and the rest of the stock (no milk)


It was so delicious!  The chicken was unbeliveably tender, the sourness of the artichokes contrasted really well with the slight sweetness of the sauce, and the broad beans had a nice nutty texture.  We enjoyed the dish with the wine used in the cooking.

I highly recommend this recipe, give it a go!


Friday, October 8, 2010

Express delivery

Just received a package from the mailroom at work.


:-)


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Breakfast tagine at Kazbah + Zumbo goodness

I've been wanting to try out Kazbah and their famous breakbast tagine for a while, so TLG and I went there with my brother for brunch yesterday.

I love the colours and the Middle Eastern touches at the restaurant.


The water came in this charming jug.


The table was lined with paper and there was a small metal cup with crayons so diners can exercise their creativity whilst waiting for the food.  Check out TLG's artwork.


The breakfast tagine ($18.50) consisted of lamb mince, sucuk (spicy Turkish sausage), spinach, roast capsicum, roast tomato, caramelised onion, feta and eggs, and was served with Turkish toast and Lebanese bread.


It was delicious - especially good on top of the Turkish bread.  Such a wonderful blend of flavours.  My brother said it was like a lasagne in a bowl.  I think it is better.  I can't imagine eating that for breakfast though, it was so filling!

We also ordered Chickpea Fritters, Pork Belly Shish Kebab, Labne, Baby Spinach and Roast Tomato ($21).


It was another winner.  The chickpea fritters were very "earthy", bland by itself but perfect with the labna yoghurt and capsicum dressing.  The pork belly looked dry in the photo but it was succulent and tender.

As we were walking back to the car after lunch, I was thinking "isn't Adriano Zumbo around here?".  And sure it was.  Now I was one of the 10 people in Australia who didn't watch Masterchef but I've heard lots about his maracons.  So we headed down there and I picked up a few ($2 each).


I bought eight but there were only 3 left by the time I got around to take the photos.  My favourite was the Rose (the bottom one), it reminded me of Turkish delight.

I also bought The "Escape from a Columbia Rainforest" ($8), the can lid won me over.


And by golly was it good!  Chocolate mousse + sour gooey cherry cola syrup = dessert heaven.  And it's gluten free for those of you with coeliac disease.

I'm definitely going back soon to try out some of the other desserts on offer.

To finish off a day of indulgence, the dinner last night was great too, but that's the subject of a separate post.

Kazbah on Darling
379 Darling Street
Balmain
(02) 9555 7067

Adriano Zumbo Pâtisserie
296 Darling Street
Balmain
(02) 9810 7318


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Our next getaway

It has been a while since our last holiday, and I'm glad to share with you details of our next trip!

We went to Fiji last year and had a great time, so we're heading back there in early December.

We stayed at the Hilton at Denarau Island last year. It was a great hotel but we want to go to one of the islands this time around. After a lot of internet research (special mentions to TripAdvisor and Holidays with Kids), we will be going to Castaway Island!

Fiji is a fantastic destination for families with kids. Fijians truly adore kids and TLG was the centre of attention wherever we went last time. Also they have very affordable babysitting service at the resort so Mr Curious and I can take some time off parenting duties for watersports and a romantic dinner or two.

We'll be staying in a bure, with a king size bed and 2 day beds.


Here are some of the sceneries we are looking forward to.

Castaway Island Resort

Castaway Island

Green View - Castaway Island Resort - Fiji

Qalito Sunset

I'm in countdown mode already. Bula!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Summer wardrobe part 1

I didn't need much convincing to buy the Just Cavalli shoes! Just placed my order with ASOS - I chose the orange pair.

I was quite happy with my last ASOS order but some of the dresses were a bit short without stockings or leggings so I paid attention to the length of the dresses this time around.

Here are the rest of my order:

ASOS Frill Front Self Stripe Dress in navy (£12)


ASOS Printed Frill Sleeve Fitted Waist Dress (£14)


Vila Pleated Halter Neck Dress (£25)


Liquorish Ethnic Print Maxi Dress (£15) - perfect for our next holiday (subject of next blog post)!


And I ordered some Korres Colour makeup basics which are on sale.

Provitamin B5 and Rice Bran Mascara in brown (£5) - beats paying $A36 at Kit!


Eyeliner Pencil in black (£4) - $30 at Kit.


Now I just have to be patient ...


Monday, October 4, 2010

Summer shoes

I blame the strong Aussie dollar and the bad weather in Sydney, but I've been browsing online stores again.

Came across this pair of Just Cavalli sandals from ASOS outlet for £79 (down from £305!).


I don't have any sandal heels, and I thought these will work well with summer dresses.

They also come in orange.


They do look a bit high, but with the chunky heels I'm hoping they'll be relatively comfortable.

I don't think I'll ever buy closed toe shoes online (unless I have tried on the shoes IRL beforehand) but sandals have a bit of leeway in terms of fit.  Does anyone have Just Cavalli shoes that can comment on their sizing?

So, over to you CCM readers:

(a) Should I get them?

(b) If yes, which colour?

I will blog about the rest of the order when it's done.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Flattery or piracy?

I blogged about this Prada textured leather satchel a while ago.


At $US2250, it's just a tad outside my price range ;-)

Well, it didn't take long for the style to move down the fashion "food chain".


The Coach gathered leather Sophia satchel has a much more consumer friendly price tag of $US498.

Here's a closer look.


There's no mistaking the similarities with the Prada bag.

Now, the path from designer to high street is a well trodded one.  In a way it's similar to technologies that started their life in high end vehicles making their way to everyday cars.  However, there is a fine line between "inspired by" and copying.

This one is probably just on the right side of inspiration IMO.  What do you think?


Friday, October 1, 2010

Short Break: The magical bank

I received this from my MIL and I really like it, so I'm sharing it with CCM readers.  Hope you get something out of it too.


Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest.

Each morning your bank would deposit $86,400 in your account for your use.

However, this prize has rules, just as any game has certain rules.

The first set of rules:

Anything that you didn't spend during each day would be taken away from you.

You may not simply transfer money into some other account.

You may only spend it.

Each morning upon awakening, the bank credits your account with another $86,400 for that day.

The second set of rules:

The bank can end the game without warning; at any time it can say "it's over, the game is over!" It can close the account and you will not receive a new one.

What would you personally do?

You would buy anything and everything you wanted, right?

Not only for yourself, but for all people you love, right?

Even for people you don't know, because you couldn't possibly spend it all on yourself, right?

You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right?

Actually this game is reality!

Each of us is in possession of such a magical bank. We just can't seem to see it.

The magical bank is TIME!

Each morning we awaken to receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is NOT credited to us.

What we haven't lived up that day is forever lost.

Yesterday is forever gone.

Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account at any time ... without warning.

So, what will you do with your 86,400 seconds?

Those seconds are worth so much more than the same amount in dollars.

Think about that, and always think of this:

Enjoy every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you think.

So take care of yourself, be happy, love deeply and enjoy life! Remember to spend time on making others happy, too.

Here's wishing you a wonderful, beautiful day.

Start spending.


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