Friday, February 25, 2011

Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane

Sorry, no time to blog in the last few days and we're leaving for Hong Kong today, back on 8th March. See you in a bit!



Monday, February 21, 2011

Short Break: White Collar

Mr Curious and I are going through shows that we recorded on our Tivo, and I suggested we watch White Collar.  I have seen the promos a few times but I didnt't know much about the show.

We started with the beginning of season 2 and it took next to no time for us to go throught 10 episodes.  The show is about a convicted con-man teaming up with an FBI agent to solve crimes, and it's lots of fun.  The two mains share great chemistry on-screen, and any show featuring New York is going to be beautiful to watch.

Ah, who am I kidding?  The #1 reason for watching this show is to drool over the super-hot Matt Bomer.  His character, Neal, has charms by the bucketful and the wardrobe to match (reminiscent of Leo DiCarpio in Catch Me If You Can).


He rocks a fedora hat.


And man when he takes his shirt off, ooh la la!

 
The show is good enough for Mr Curious that he put up with my perving ...

The show is on hiatus in Australia but is showing on USA Network in, well, the USA.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ms Curious likes: Calvin Klein Seductive Comfort customized lift bra

I went to Myer on Tuesday to get a gift card.  When I was there I remembered I needed some new bras so I headed towards the lingerie section (which is now on the mezzaine level, not a fan of the new set up).

On the recommendation of the Calvin Klein consultant I tried on this bra and I love it.


This is from CK's Seductive Comfort range of full coverage bras.  The lift, strap and band vary by bra and cup size combinations to match the level of support required.  As you can see, the model below is wearing a bra with a bigger cup size and the straps are thicker.


Initially I tried on the 34(12)C and and 36(14)C, and the size of the padding were different, even though their cup sizes were the same.  Neither bra was the right fit though and I ended up with the 34(12)D.

The bra is very comfortable, it supports my the girls really well, and the lace is so pretty!


The padding on the 34D is very subtle - they're there for a better fit, rather than to create bazookas.

The bras in ivory were $79.95 full price, marked down to $49 and there was an extra 50% off bras already on sale, so I picked up 2 for $24.95 each.  Score!

You can read more about the bras on the US Calvin Klein website.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A beautiful bag with a fatal flaw

I received my Z Spoke by Zac Posen piped leather tote from The Outnet last Friday.

It is a gorgeous bag. See how soft the leather is.


And the bows are so cute.


Here's a comparison of the Z Spoke with my MBMJ Little Ukita.


The bags are around the same size which is my handbag sweet spot.

I'm not used to a bag with multiple compartments. Since I spent so much time fishing for stuff from my bag it's a very good idea.


So far so good, right?

As you can tell by the subject of this post, there is a problem.

I was planning to use the bag on Monday morning so I transferred my wallet, phone etc into the bag on Sunday night.  These are the usual items I put in my handbag.


Clockwise from top left: Coach medium skinny, Burberry pen, (ancient) Mimco small makeup bag (with mirror, lip balm and lip gloss), work security pass, iphone, Prada wallet, Burberry Blue Label key bag, and a packet of tissue.

They fit easily into the bag.


(As an aside,  this is the true colour of the bag, the other photos make it look a bit dull.)

So what happened when I tried to use the bag?


Yes, the flap opened soon after I lifted the bag off the table. It happened every time.  No matter if I rearrange the items in different ways.  The clasp just wasn't strong enough to keep the bag closed.

My heart sank when I came to the realisation that I cannot use the bag.

I was hoping that it was a one-off, but the purple bag I bought for Miss Kitty-Cat has the same problem.  So it is a design flaw.

I contacted The Outnet and they asked me to send the bags back.  They'll send me a full refund and assess the bags.  I may send them a link to this post so they can see the video.  Fingers crossed that everything will go smoothly.

Oh well, that's the risk of online shopping I guess.  Given we'll be in Hong Kong in a week's time*, I'll have plenty of opportunities to choose a nice bag IRL.

*Yes, another overseas trip.  This one is not planned though - Mr Curious' brother is getting married over there in early March and we had little notice.  We'll be over there for 10 days.  Hopefully I'll have a chance to write a post or two when I'm over there.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chilli, coriander, chicken and barley salad

I haven't written a cooking post for a while. I recently moved from working 3 days a week to 4 days a week.  Mr Curious have been doing the grocery shopping and a fair share of the cooking while I try to settle into a new work-life equilibrium.

Finally I had a chance to consult a cookbook yesterday. I was looking up recipes for salads that I can bring to work. I am sick of buying overpriced lunch from the food courts near my office.  A decent takeaway lunch in the CBD is around $10, and half the time I didn't even enjoy the food.

I adapted a recipe from the AWW eat well look good cookbook (I bought it through Lifetime Distributor, someone in my office is a distributor).  The original recipe is for lamb backstrap, which is way too expensive for an office lunch.  So I used chicken thighs instead.

Mr Curious and I had some for dinner last night, and I have an extra serve for lunch today.

Step one - cook the barley.  I bought Marco organic pearled barley (from Woolworths, $2.79 for 500g).  This is what pearled barley looks like.


Barley is high in dietary fibre and protein, has a low GI, and contains vitamins and antioxidants (more details here).  Sounds pretty good to me.

The recipe suggested cooking the barley in boiling water uncovered for 25 minutes.  I didn't know whether it was meant to simmer or boiling rapidly the whole way through, so I adjusted the stove up and down a few times.  After the allotted 25 minutes the barley was still really hard.  I ended up cooking the barley for 45 minutes, which turned out to be the upper end of the recommend cooking time on the packet.  Next time I'll leave the stove on maximum heat the whole time.  The barley was cooled for 10 minutes after cooking.

Step 2 - the chicken.  I marinaded the chicken thigh fillets with a tablespoon of Bitton's chilli oil (which is all kinds of awesome) and a tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander, and put them in the fridge for 15 minutes.  Then I pan-fried them for 6 minutes each side, and cut them into strips after cooling.

Step 3 - lemon dressing.  Mixed 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon caster sugar.

Step 4 - once chicken was cooked and barley was cooled, I mixed them together with the lemon dressing and  quartered cherry tomatoes.  It was served with baby spinach leaves and crumbled fetta cheese.

Besides the uncertainly with the barley cooking, the dish was super easy to cook.


Doesn't it look good? And it tasted delicious to boot. The barley was chewy with a nutty flavour, the chilli oil gave the chicken a kick without being overpowering, the lemon dressing was the right level of tangy (I may reduce the olive oil next time though). All the ingredients worked really well together and it was a very satisfying meal.

Here's the cost breakdown per serve:

1 chicken thigh fillet $2.10
33g barley $0.19
60g cherry tomatoes $0.38
25g baby spinach $0.38
25g goat's milk fetta cheese $1.25
1/4 of juice from 1 small lemon $0.25
Conservative estimate of cost of other ingredients and utilities (gas/water) $0.50
Total $5.05

This dish is definitely a winner, and I can see myself using the different components (barley, lemon dressing, chilli oil and coriander marinade) in other dishes.

Do you like bringing lunch to work?  If so, what is in your lunchbox?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Summer casual fashion set

Inspired by Maxabella's "Do you have a look?" post, I created my first fashion set on Polydore.


Summer casual by Ms Curious featuring chains jewelry

Creating this was quite fun! May do it more often :-)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oops! Another order from The Outnet

I was tracking my handbag order from The Outnet when I saw a banner ad about free postage to Australia.  My initial reaction was disappointment since I bought the bag before the start of the offer, but soon I was browsing the online store looking for something to buy.

I started working 4 days a week last week so I'm in the market for some work clothes.  Luckily I don't have to wear suits to work so there are lots of choices. I bought these:

Vanessa Bruno Athé Tie-neck silk dress (was $US290 now $US87)


I probably don't need another black dress but it's silk and pretty and less than $US100!

T-Bags Printed jersey dress (was $US210 now $US84)


I wonder if this will work with my new bag?

T-Bags Printed jersey maxi dress (was $US230 now $US92)


I really like the ruffle v-neck.

With free shipping (code FEBSUMSHIP, I'm not sure if it's still working) the order came to $US263, which is a great bargain in my books. Now I have another parcel to look forward to :-D

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ms Curious likes: Natio Spa pep-up body cleanser

On our stay at Hotel Lindrum in Melbourne last month, we were provided with Natio Spa toiletries.

I recognise the Natio brand and I know it's a cosmetics and skincare line, but I've never used their products.

The shampoo, conditioner and body lotion we tried are all nice, but the standout product is the body wash - the pep-up body cleanser.


The product blurb: Certified organic plant extracts with ayurvedic essences to cleanse your body, refresh your spirit and put a lively spark in your day.

Ingredients in spotlight: Certified organic ginkgo biloba, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass and basil

The reference to "ayurvedic essence" is an attempt to make it sound exotic which doesn't do much for me; I'm not looking for any medicinal properties from my body wash.

I recently bought a full sized-bottle.


The cleanser has a green tinge, and a fairly thin consistency.  See it running off my hand!


I use around a 10c coin size portion each time.

It suds up well in the shower which is important to me.  I tried to capture the suds but it was a major fail.  Using one hand only for the camera did not help matter.


It cleans well and whilst it doesn't moisturise, it doesn't dry out my skin either.

All these are good and well, but the main selling point of the product is the aroma.

The mix of plant extracts creates a strong herbal scent that hits you as soon as you open the cap.  I can pick out the basil and a touch of the peppermint, but it has a sweet note as well.  It is unique and refreshing, and a mild scent lingers on my skin after the shower which I love.

For those who have allergy concerns or are interested in chemicals used in their beauty products, here is the full ingredient list.


A product made is Australia is always a bonus to me.

The price is friendly too - you can buy a 210ml bottle from their website for $10.86 plus postage.  I paid around $12 at the pharmacy.

I was looking for a new body wash and I'm glad to find the Natio Spa pep-up body cleanser.  I highly recommend it for use during summer or after exercise. 

P.S. Ask your partner to try (if you want to share) - Mr Curious likes it too.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Z Spoke by Zac Posen piped leather tote

It's been a while since my last handbag purchase.

I just came across an interesting bag on The Outnet.  The Z Spoke piped leather tote (Zac Posen's diffusion line).  With the big bows on the side, it's a bit wacky but fun too.

My instinct is to pick the bright coloured one (in this case a beautiful purple).


But I'm more attracted to the tan.  Maybe the contrast between a neutral tone and the bows is more striking.


Doesn't it look cute with a short trench and skinny jeans?


And the good news - it's 50% off (£182.98)!  The bag can be in my hands for less than £200 including postage.

So tempted ...

UPDATE 1: I succumbed and placed bought the tan tote.  Hope it comes by Friday :-)

UODATE 2: Read my review of the bag here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

Melbourne diary 2011 - day 3

Mr Curious and I started our last day in Melbourne with a mammoth sleep in (I woke up at 10am!). After checking out and leaving our luggage at the hotel we roamed around the CBD again.

We stopped by Brunetti to have our favourite Italian hot chocolate.  It was as good as ever.


This painting is perfect for our place!  I want to take it home but I suspect the price tag will be prohibitive.


Given the late start, we decided to have brunch. My friend Kate recommended The European on Spring Street.

The place was packed when we arrived without a booking.  We were ignored by the waitstaff by a good 5-10 minutes.  They were busy serving diners but it was disappointing nonetheless.

Fortunately the food was delicious.  I ordered the goat's cheese omelette.  It wasn't much to look at but the eggs were perfectly cooked, and well accompanied by the rich and creamy cheese.


We only had one planned destination for the day - the National Gallery of Victoria.  We went there last year (with TLG sleeping in the stroller) and really enjoyed it.  We were keen to see what was on offer this year.

We spent our time at the Asian Art collection.  I am fascinated with Chinese art with its rich history and exquisiteness, and I was delighted to see an exhibition dedicated to it.

There was a timeline at the beginning of the exhibition comparing key milestones in Chinese history with other world events.  Did you know that paper was invented in China in 105 AD, and Europe didn't manufacture its own paper until 1150?


There was a brief description of each dynasty accompanying the art on display.  I was such a nerd I took photo of every one of them.  This is the one for the Qin dynasty.


Here's another fun fact.  China was named after the Emperor Qin (3rd century BC) as he unified the country after an extended period of war between smaller kingdoms.  Emperor Qin craved longevity and searched fruitlessly for the elixir of life.  If he knew that his name would link however with the country that he created he would be proud.

Here's a photo of a beautiful elephant-shaped candlestick from the Han dynasty (AD 660).


There were other interesting exhibits from the the rest of the Asian collection.


There is such playfulness to Shiko Munakata's Two Bodhisattvas and ten great disciples of Sakya: Manjúsri, the Incarnation of Buddha's Wisdom series of woodblock prints.


And there was a fascinating video display of a scene which looked like a traditional Chinese painting from a distance but was actually a series of high rises in a modern city.  There was even a plane flying past at one point.


I can't remember the name of the piece, I'm going to call NGV to find out, and I'll update this when I know.

We checked out the gift store at the NGV before we left.  And oh my ... there are so many things on my lemming list.

Ceramic robot, need I say more?


I wish our place is cool enough for a lampshade like this.


These were Mr Curious' fave.


These bowls are so pretty.


Why didn't I buy the Bitch Citation notepad?


This is so me.


The NGV is going to open an online shop soon.  My credit card will be in trouble!

After we left the gallery we went to the Makers' Markets outside the Arts Centre and I bought a reed diffuser set from blackMILK in white fig ($20).  It was good to have Mr Curious there so we could agree on a scent.  Writing this post reminded me to start using it.  It is a sweet subtle scent; I hope it permeates through our living area.


Melbourne is a great city to visit.  Culture, sports, great food and wine, beautiful parklands and fantastic shopping of all kinds are accessible on foot.  I love discovering a new vibe around the corner.

And I'm so jealous of the architecture in Melbourne. The juxtaposition of the old and new works so well, and unlike Sydney, there were very few eyesores from the 1960s and 1970s.

Photo: Melbourne old and new by antwerpalan on flickr

We had an amazing time in Melbourne and it was sad to leave.


We are already talking about another visit later this year.

What are your favourite spots in Melbourne?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Melbourne diary 2011 - day 2 (the tennis)

Our main reason for travelling to Melbourne was to attend the Australian Open.  We were fortunate to receive 2 corporate tickets for the day session at Rod Laver Arena.  After a long-awaited sleep in (till 9am!) and a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, Mr Curious and I strolled down to the National Tennis Centre.

The first game on the schedule was between Vera Zvonareva [2] and Lucie Safarova [31].  I don't follow tennis closely any more and I've never seen either of them play, even on TV, so I went in with no expectation.

The first set was enjoyable, lots of rallies, but Zvonareva was more consistent and won the set 6-3.

Zvonareva

At that stage I thought the match might be over fairly soon.  Based on what I saw I didn't think Safanova could make a dent against Zvonareva's game.

To my pleasant surprise, Safanova came out fighting in the second set.  She made a conscious decision to be more aggressive, went for her shots, and made some spectacular winners.  I was very impressed with her reinvigorated game.  The quality of play was so high I was wishing for a third set.

Safanova

It was unfortunate that Safanova wasn't able to sustain that level of play long enough to stay in front.  It was like her mind and body ticked over to "tense mode" when she was ahead, and she would make silly errors, or miss shots that she was nailing in the previous game.  And Zvonareva was too good a player to let Safanova get away with it.

Safanova pushed the second set into a tie-break but lost it 9-7.  It was a shame for her, but that extra mental strengh was the thing that separates her from the top players.  She has all the tools (she was outhitting Zvonareva on many occasions) and was a joy to watch, I hope she can make it to the next level.

At the conclusion of the match, Mr Curious and I went for a walk around the complex.  I like going to the Australian Open in the first weekend because they were still lots of actions at the outside courts.

We watched Francesca Schiavone practised her volleying game, the day before her 4+ hours marathon match against Svetlana Kuznetsova.


As much as I enjoy the power game, I miss serve and volley tennis, and it was good to see someone playing beautifully at the net.

By the time we returned to RLA the second match was well under way.  Andy Murray [5] had already won the first set and was beating his opponent (Guillermo Garcia-Lopez [32]) easily.  Nothing much to report on that match.

Murray

The most exciting thing during that match was seeing the "spidercam" in action.  It was pretty awesome.  The wires must be so strong to support the camera and move it all around the court.  Apparently there are only 8 in the world!


We left the court before the Murray match finished to grab a late lunch.  This is what you get for almost $20 at the Bronze corporate lounge.


What can I say?  They make good margins out of food sale ;-)

The final match at RLA for our session was between "Aussie Kim" Clijster [3] and Alize Cornet.

Clijster

There was more life in this match but the result was never in doubt. Clijster won 7-6, 6-3. 

Of course she ended up winning the women's singles title by beating Li Na in the final - what a thrilling match that was!  They are both worthy ambassadors in the sport.

Mr Curious was checking results in the outer courts with his Australian Open iPhone app and saw that the match in Margaret Court Arena was getting interesting. So we left RLA to check out play between Marin Cilic [15] and John Isner [20].


The sun was beaming down strongly, it got the better of me and I managed to have a little nap at the court!

The atmosphere at MCA was very different from RLA.  The crowd was livelier - there were a few rounds of Mexican waves between games.  Since Cilic is Croatian, there was a fair number of Croatian-Australian supporters (a few wore shirts with Croatian flags but also carried an Australian flag).  Isner also had some vocal supporters.  In fact a few were so vocal they were escorted out of the court.


With two big servers, we knew the match was going to be a drawn-out affair and it was.  The third and fourth set went to tie-breaks which they split 1-set each, and they were both holding serves in the fifth set.  We were going to leave when it was 8-7, but Mr Curious said to stay for one more game.  It was a good call because Cilic broke Isner in the next game and won the match.

After a full day of tennis, we went back to the hotel for a cool shower, then head to old favourite Ezard for a late dinner.  We ordered from the a la carte menu this time (last year we had the degustation menu) and enjoyed the food and wine immensely.  Service was also better than last year with a knowledgable and eager waitress.  May I recommend the Wagyu Beef burger entrée and the fromage frais and rubarb cheesecake with basil pearls for dessert? Nom Nom Nom.

Hope I can write my last Melbourne diary entry before I forget about everything!

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