Friday, December 24, 2010

Dessert heaven

Dessert buffet at Aqua Restaurant, Townsville.  Dessert Heaven!!!

More finds from my Grandmother's

Amongst some of the cool things I found when I was packing away my Grandmother's house was this cool Box Brownie camera made by Kodak. I googled the particular brand, and it was made between 1947-1950.  Both my Dad and my Aunty say they remember using this.  It takes 620mm film, which isn't available anymore, but you can, apparently, respool 120mm film onto an old 620mm spool.  

The back was hard to open, but with a bit of lubricant, we got it open.  It was so unbelievably simple, I couldn't believe it took so many of the photos captured my family's history.  I'm keen to take some photos with it, so my next hunt is for a 620mm spool.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Memories from my childhood

For the past few days we've been clearing out my beloved late Grandmother's home.  She'd lived there since 1963.  During that time, she raised 2 children (my Dad and his older sister), looked after 5 grandchildren and grew a beautiful garden full of her favourite orchids.  

My grandmother lived to the ripe old age of 93 and her home was like a time capsule. We found so many beautiful items, like fine bone china tea sets, still in their original wooden box packaging, a ceramic hand mirror, even my Grandfather's silver "alien" tag he had to wear during the war, as he was a migrant from China.

So many items were in perfect condition, partly because she had taken such good care of them, wrapping the carefully in material and brown paper, and partly because of the high quality of items from that bygone era.  You can see the workmanship and care taken, especially with furniture and handmade clothes.

But of all the hundreds, possibly thousands of antique items, the things that I loved the most, and that brought back the most memories of my time with her, were some toys and little ornaments.

This set had wooden blocks in them with English and Chinese writing on them.

I remember playing with this bizarre moose thing when I was little.  Like most of the toys that had gone through 5 grandchildren, it was very played with, but very loved.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas all wrapped up!

One of the things I love about Christmas the most (aside from the Christmas pudding and other delectable gourmet Christmas delights) is the gift wrapping.  I looove wrapping. This year's theme was black and silver. The wrapping and ribbon was from Wrapco and the ornaments I found on sale at Ikea for 50c each.  

They looked so beautiful and perfect under the tree. Happy Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Josh!

Time flies.  One day he's a beautiful baby sleeping soundly in your arms.  The next, he's 12, won't get a haircut and thinks you're "way uncool".  But he'll always be my baby.  Happy Birthday Josh!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A sweet little cupcake

On my continuing quest for the perfect cupcake, I caught up with my girlfriend Emily at Couture Cupcakes.  I had a vanilla cupcake and it was DIVINE! 

The cupcake was moist and spongy, the icing was fresh and sweet and it was topped with a cute icing flower. It was perfectly complemented by a cup of English Breakfast tea. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bubble O Bill

Josh and I decided to stop for ice cream the other day, when it was stinking hot and I saw these Bubble O' Bills in the cabinet.  I got soo excitied.  It's been years since I've had one, probably since high school 15 years ago.  I used to LOOOVE these when I was a kid and I wanted Josh to experience it.  

It wasn't quite like I remembered, and the nose, which is supposed to be bubble gum, was rock hard and impossible to chew.  It was super pale too and nothing like I remember it looking like.  But it dripped down my arm and onto my I guess some things never change.  

FYI, this is what it's SUPPOSED to look like...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tea for three

Sunnybank is like a suburban Chinatown in Brisbane.  I love the hustle and bustle of the people, the (somewhat gross) entrails and intestines hanging up in the window of the butchers, and the pungent smells of the food. Even the rotting food reminds me of the back alleyways of Hong Kong.

I took my Mum and Stepdad, who were visiting from North Queensland, to my favourite Vietnamese Cafe.  As usual it was bustling with people and the place was wafting with the heady smells of chicken pho.  We had three dishes to share - an enormous bowl of chicken pho, rice paper rolls, and chicken and rice with salad.  I also had the taro milk with pearls.  The bill - $25.  Bargain.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Farewell to the Finger

Powderfinger signed out with their farewell tour "Sunsets". Josh and I went to their final concert ever.  The atmosphere was electric and the concert was awesome.  It was also pretty special cause Josh and I both love Powderfinger, and it was his first ever concert.  

It was pretty good value.  The supporting acts were You Am I and Jet.  We bought the obligatory concert shirt...$45...hmmm.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brekkie at Ikea

OK the bargain breakfast OF THE CENTURY would have to be Ikea.  $2.50 for this vegetarian breakfast. Scrambled eggs, baked beans, tomato and two hash browns.  And if you have an Ikea card you get coffee for free.  Love it!  And the non-vegetarian one was $2.95.  

Ikea...Swedish for "makes Karina happy".

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Bestie Birthday

So my bestie Bernice turned 35.  Cake, it seems, is in order.  Awesome, death by chocolate cake from The Welsh Lady, no less.

Happy Birthday Bestie!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cube Man

I love this cute Cube Man.  Josh made it with instructions from some site on the internet.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My New Favourite Dress!

OK, so the Halston Heritage dress that Carrie wore in the Sex and the City 2 movie is available in Australia, but it's $500.  

I don't think so.

It's a fake, I guess, but I found something similar on the Asos website in the UK.  On sale for £20 and postage for £10.50. The Aussie dollar is doing fantastically, and I found a code for an extra 15% off - so all up - AUD$47.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An afternoon with Valentino

I had a lovely afternoon with Valentino today.  It was drizzly outside, I was wearing my favourite Sex and the City dress and I was by myself.  It was the perfect afternoon for a long meander amongst haute couture at GoMa and I found myself lost in the gorgeousness of another world.  I should go to these things by myself more often.

The gowns were exquisite.  The designs were flawless, from the detail of the beading to the fall of the fabric, the gowns were utterly feminine and I fell in love with them.  My favourite gown too was there - the gorgeous lemon coloured, one shoulder Valentino that Cate Blanchett wore to the Oscars in 2005.

I spent all my time in the first section, not realising there was a second section.  I was excited and disappointed at the same time when I realised, as there was only 15 minutes until closing.  But it was there I found the gown of my dreams (I have no idea where I would wear it). It was cream with gorgeous embroidery and silver butterflies.  

GoMa wouldn't allow you to take photos in the exhibition, so this is the photo from the Brisbane Times website.  Utterly divine....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


This is our dog, Bella.  She's a pure bred whippet.  When we bought her 8 years ago as a puppy she drove me mad. And not the "I love you like crazy" mad.  The "oh my god, you're driving me crazy and I want to kill you" mad.  She dug up my garden, escaped under fences, pooed over the garage, pulled the washing off the line and chewed EVERYTHING.  She chewed up her wooden doghouse, the skirting boards on the house and had a particular fondness for my shoes.  But only my Italian leather shoes.  With the other cheap, synthetic ones she would just take one of the two and bury it.  She drove me INSANE!!!

But she was so loyal.  Even when I would yell and her, and sometimes give her a smack for eating ANOTHER pair of my shoes, she would just sit with me whenever I was in the garden, or talking to the neighbours.  For hours.  She grew out of her chewing stage and didn't dig up my garden anymore.  Although she took a liking to one particular spot which happened to be on one of my gardenias.  She's a faithful companion and a much loved family member.

And now we think she has cancer.

She has a lump on her stomach which is either a harmless blood blister, or a Hemangiosarcoma, aka skin cancer.  Either way it needs to be removed, and if it is cancer there's a chance it has spread.  I'm not really an "animal" person, but the thought of losing her fills me with sadness.  Josh is devastated and all we can do is have the operation, and hope for the best.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sweet Little School Fete Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for my son's school fete last week. We went out the night before and I didn't get home until very late, so I was making them at 3am. People were telling me I was crazy, but it's very important to me.  In Australia, Government funding for schools is, well, crap.  They waste indecent amounts of tax payer money when they should be putting it into schools and hospitals. Josh goes to a great school, which is exceptionally well equipped, mainly due to the fundraising efforts of the parents. One year, one of the parents said the money that you raise while you're here won't really benefit your children, but the money that past parents have raised is benefiting them now. So pay it forward I cupcakes :)

Anyway, they boxed up my little cupcakes and sold them for $15/box. And someone bought them. And probably ate them. And hopefully didn't die. Ask my bestie Bernice, baking is not my strong point. I made 55. Well, I donated 55. I actually made 72. Half a batch failed, a quarter I ate while I was waiting for the others to cook, and a few I didn't have enough icing for so Josh fed them to the dog.

Oh, and the fete was fantastic!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

There's HOW many menu items?

Had a vegetarian craving for something with tofu, so we googled and decided to check out Hou Fo Vegetarian Court at Sunnybank.  It seemed nice enough, prices were reasonable, but no where as cheap as Kuan Yin Tea House in The Valley, which is our absolute favourite.  

But what amazed me was how many menu items they have - 128!!!  Seriously?  How can you have that many?  Anyway, we had deep fried "chicken" entree, "beef" hotpot and stir fried tofu with lemongrass.  It was all nice, not outstanding, but nice enough for a Friday night.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Writing Again

It's been a long, long time since I wrote for a magazine.  At least four years.  But it's fantastic to be back into the industry.  You can check out Home Expert Magazine online at .  I really loved writing for this issue, property and lifestyle issues have always been my passion, so this publication suits me to a tee. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mimco Love...

♥ Love ♥ Mimco new season shoes.  Obviously will make me taller ;-)

Winter? Bahhh!

Winter is simply non-existent in Brisbane.  There's probably only a few days of the year you can truly have casseroles or stews.  So...dinner tonight was: Butter Lettuce, tomato, mango, red onion and avocado salad with balsamic vinegar dressing, and grilled haloumi drizzled with lemon and pepper.  Ta-da! 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Granny Flat

I've been kept really busy lately with the conversion of the shed at the back of my house to a granny flat.  Stage one is almost complete and it's been a huge learning experience.  I've documented it in a blog - "The Granny Flat" .  I have to start saving up for stage two now...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The iPhone 4 Line Up

Yeah, we lined up for an iPhone 4.  We're such dags. Graham had been there since 4.30pm and was 13th in line.  I didn't arrive until 10.30pm.  Kudos to Optus - they provided entertainment and food, and they set up the "yellow" carpet through the East West Cafe, so we had a table and a tv (but who wants to watch sports?).

They launched at midnight to much fanfare, but even at 13th in line though, it was 12.40am before Graham even got into the store, and 1.20am before he was finally all signed up and got his precious phone.  Apparently Optus were signing up over a web based system, which naturally couldn't handle the overload.

The papers reported that there were 600 people in the line.  I think they were probably close, so at almost 20 minutes per person to register...those people at the back were going to be there for a looong time.

The verdict?  Faster screen, beautiful resolution and finally a camera front and back with a flash.  Nice phone.  Not sure about $800 price tag though.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fame was Lame

We went to see Fame the musical at QPAC. It was terrible. Really terrible. We actually left at interval. I was so disappointed because I love the theatre and it's been a long time since I've been to QPAC. We felt like we couldn't connect with any of the characters because there were too many, and none of them had the spotlight long enough to develop a connection to anyway. The characters weren't at all likeable - sleazy and self centred...I guess, all just wanting Fame?

Oh well, there's always a silver lining and for us, we liked the set and the dancing was quite good.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lunch at Marmalade Cafe

Love a good suburban cafe find! Lunch today was a lentil burger with aioli and tomato relish on rosemary and olive sourdough at the delightful Marmalade Cafe in Oxley.

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Garden Basil

I can't wait to start my vegie patch in the backyard, but have been too busy with renovations and work. So in the interim, I grow herbs in a gorgeous timber planter box that Graham made me. This is the sweet basil. The smell is so intense you just have to brush your hand over it to release its beautiful herby aroma.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mini Masterchef

I love how Masterchef has inspired people back in the kitchen. Josh, my 11 year old, has always loved to cook. He loves making sushi and generally makes dinner once a week. This week, after a Masterchef inspiration, his "invention" was creamy fettucini with mushrooms, smoked salmon, spinach and garlic.

The spinach was fresh from our garden, and it all tasted divine. A la Masterchef, here's Josh's recipe:

  • 1/2 packet of fettucini
  • Tub of Philadelphia Cooking Cream
  • 1 clove of garlic, crush
  • Handful of button mushrooms, sliced
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • 150gm smoked salmon sliced into pieces

  1. Boil the fettucini in lots of boiling salted water until al dente. Set aside.
  2. Saute the mushrooms and garlic in some butter in a frying pan.
  3. Add 1/2 tub of cooking cream and stir until melted.
  4. Add the spinach and drained fettucini and stir to combine.
  5. Just before serving, add the smoked salmon


Sunday, July 18, 2010


Do you ever just have those moments when you truly realise the simplest moments in life are the best?

Josh had an hour guitar lesson on Saturday, so it was too short a time to go back home, and too long to sit outside and wait, so I bought the paper and had a coffee and a shortbread in a local cafe. Alone. Just me, a coffee, and the paper. It was soo nice and peaceful and I honestly couldn't remember the last time I'd read the entire paper in peace, drank an entire coffee while it was still hot, and ate a whole cookie on my own.

Simple things in life rock.

So does Wray Organics and their shortbread cookies. ;)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Most Favourite Oscar Dresses

Cate and Reese got this sooo right at the Oscars. These are the dresses I'll forever adore. If I ever get married (again), it will be in one of these.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My Online Bargains from Freez

I don't know why people complain about online clothes shopping.  No retail overheads = cheaper prices! You can shop at midnight (like I do) and it arrives at your doorstop pretty quickly.

I was sooo excited at the sight of my fat Australia Post Next Day Delivery bag, filled with my latest bargain goodies from Freez...

Junk Dress - $29
Junk Jacket - $59
Mink Pink Top - $25

One gripe I do have though, is that the delivery guy doesn't put it on the enclosed landing, where it would be safe, he just chucks it over the fence onto the front path. But they were there when I got home, and how cute are they??

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

8 desserts in 18 minutes!

I've driven past the L'Academie Hotel in St Pauls Terrace in Spring Hill a number of times, usually at night when the inside is lit up with warm lights and you can see the art deco wood panelling inside. I thought it was  a sophisticated inner city bar, but I found out it's a hospitality school.

Soooo....gather the family, it's time for another big eating night out!  ;)

The inside was just as I had expected, old world charm with a centre chandelier (I loooove chandeliers), high ceilings and floor to ceiling window panels.  The inside atmosphere was lovely.

They were having "Christmas in July" so the spread was your standard Christmas buffet - prawns, cured meats, roasts, soups. Can't say I care much for the meat side of things...I prefer to turn my attention to the dessert buffet.

And what a dessert buffet!!

A delectable selection of desserts so beautiful it was a credit to the student pastry chefs who made them.  There was plum pudding, trifle, pear franjelico, fruit flan, rum balls and a CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN! You wouldn't believe how much this excites me.  I had 8 desserts (3 helpings of creme caramel).  It was delicious!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Out with Mum in Darra

Want authentic Vietnamese? Gotta go where the Vietnamese are! It's been an unusually cold start to Winter here in Brisbane and with my Mum visiting from sunny North Queensland, I thought a piping hot, authentic chicken pho (soup) for her would be just the ticket.

Darra is a richly multicultural suburb about 14kms south west of the city. There's loads of Vietnamese restaurants, grocery stores and shops. Whenever I'm hanging out for Vietnamese food, I just look for the cafe with the dodgy neon sign and photocopied or handwritten menus up in the windows but packed with Vietnamese patrons and that heady smell of garlic and chilli wafting from the . Thanh Phu in Darra Station Road fitted that bill perfectly! I thought Mum could benefit from the MYO rice paper roll experience, and the serving was so large, we could have easily just had this as our main.

I looooove rice paper rolls! The combination of rice vermicelli, lettuce, mint, bean sprouts, carrot, cucumber, and in this case, prawns and pork is unusual, but fresh and tasty! $15 for 8 rolls is awesome value, I'm used to paying $12 for 3 in the city.

Mum's chicken pho was HUGE and just $9!!  She couldn't eat it all. I think it had been simmering for hours, cause it smelt delicious, and with a generous serving of chillis and basil, it was an authentic experience all round.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

All you Asians look alike ;)

If only I had a dollar for every person that said I looked like Poh Ling Yeow from Masterchef.  What do you think?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Perfect Punnet

One of my biggest pet peeves is the rotten, squished, over ripe strawberries that you always find at the bottom of the punnet of strawberries, when the ones on the top are beautiful and pristine.  I think it's false advertising!

But...I bought this punnet yesterday, just from the local Foodworks down the road and it was spectacular. And I mean SPECTACULAR! Every strawberry was plump and juicy with that sweet, sweet strawberry smell.  Each bite exploded into strawberry exquisiteness and I gobbled the whole thing in about 2 minutes.

I'm going for a walk to get more.  BRB

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Breakfast at Flute

I love having breakfast out.  I actually love it more than dinner.  Especially on a Sunday.  This was the Haloumi and Poached Eggs with Turkish Fingers and Avocado at "Flute" at Coorparoo and ooohhh was it divine.  Technically it was brunch so it was packed, but the guys had their iPads and were happy to wait the 10 minutes to get a table.

These guys also have a restaurant over in Rosalie and they really have the system down pat. Limited, but fantastic menu, fresh food, fast and friendly service and decent serving sizes for the price.  The atmosphere is always good, the decor is really nice, but not pretentious.  They're pretty basic rules - why is it then so hard to find other good places like these for breakfast?

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Here's the thing about my family. We like to eat...a lot. And we like to drink...a lot. We basically find any excuse to eat and drink, and the more the better.

Here the thing about Chinese people. We don't like to pay retail. I think it's genetic, but it pains us to pay full price.

So when my cousin Jono found an 7 course degustation for $30 (yes folks, you heard it) at the hospitality school in the Valley, we filled up 16 places straight away. "What's the occasion?" asked Graham. "Um...the occasion to eat 7 courses for $30 - der."

The food was lovely. My favourite was the Hot Raspberry Souffle, but pictured is the Baked Ricotta with walnuts and honey. The service wasn't very good, but they were students and very enthusiastic, and hello, $30...not complaining!

Oh, did I mention you could get matching wines for $35? Yes, 6 glasses of wine for $35. This was the damage at the table.