Friday, December 30, 2011

Mad Men Anyone?

I bought these sunnies on sale for $8 at Coles. Yes - Coles. Bizarre hey? They have a whole clothing line called Mix, and they actually had some cool stuff. I picked a sundress on sale for $5 which looked similar to one at Country Road.

Anyway, I love these. They're a bit retro, a bit Mad Men.

All's well that ends well

"Miss Karina! I have the day off and I'm coming to Brissie to spend the day with you!"

That's the best voicemail a girl can get. My bestie Cheree lives on the coast and has three kids (my three godchildren) so when she means she has a day off, she means a day off from the kids. In the nicest way possible, of course.

We've been besties for 23 years. Yep. Like...forever. Since we were in high school. Although we catch up pretty regularly, we always have at least one of our kids in tow and usually restricted to school hours. We always have one eye on the clock.

But not this day. A whole day to ourselves? How exciting!!

We spent the whole day at The Barracks. Shopping, lunching, catching up on the goss. Laughing, reminiscing, pondering, questioning. We were going to go to the movies, but we got chatting and completely missed it.

She arrived at 10.00am and didn't leave until 5.30pm. By my calculations that means we spoke for 7.5 hours straight, pausing only to eat and visit the bathroom. That, dear readers, is the definition of a bestie. Someone you can chat to for 7.5 hours straight, whether you saw them last week or last year. We're the same together as we were when we were 13. She knows me inside out even though we're like chalk and cheese.

Yep....we'll be best friends forever. It was the perfect end to 2011 - the year may not have started well, but all's well that ends well.

Oh..and this was the veggo burger I had for lunch at Fab Fish and Burger Grill. With a Round Two Semillion Sauvignon Blanc.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ruby Cafe with Catherine

Just when I think that Brisbane has come of age in terms of its dining scene, I try to go out to lunch on the 27th December and EVERYTHING is closed.

My friend Catherine was up from Melbourne and I haven't seen her in a couple of years, and I thought Paddington would be a safe bet and didn't bother booking. The first cafe was closed and pretty much everything along Given Terrace, bar the pubs, was closed.


We did find somewhere eventually, Ruby Cafe, which I hadn't been to before. It's a cute little cafe with a decent menu, but as it was the only place open, it was PACKED and service was sloooow.

But the staff were really friendly, even though they were run off their feet, and I had the lentil salad with pecans, beetroot and persian feta.

Catherine is a good friend and we met when I moved to Melbourne in 1998 and we wer both working at the same place. We share the same birthday, 12 years apart, which means we are both Aries and in Chinese horoscope, both Dragons. Cool huh?

Waste less in 2012

So one of my New Year's Resolutions for 2012 is to waste less food. I always get a bit disappointed in myself when I throw out food, I can almost hear my Mum's voice in my head, lecturing me on being wasteful.

So...these are the muffins I baked with my leftovers. One lot are banana muffins and the other are sun dried tomatoes and cheese.

They smelt divine and the boys scoffed them down.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

T'was the night before Christmas

T'was the night before Christmas
And all the through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse

The stockings were hung
by the chimmney with care
In the hope that the perfect tree would still be there.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I smell a rat - the demolition of the Regent Theatre in Brisbane

This is the interior of the beautiful and historic Regent Theatre built in 1929 in the Queen Street Mall which is, as we speak, being demolished to make way for a multi office tower.

Despite its historical signifigance and a vehement campaign by the Save the Regent Group, the theatre was not granted heritage status because the plasterwork was "probably" not original when it was redeveloped in the 1970s.

Since demolition has begun, artefacts of the theatre have been delivered to Regent Theatre Historical Society, with the plasterwork containing horse hair, proving that much of remodelled theatre was original and should have been granted heritage status. This echoes the first person accounts from people who worked on the redevelopment in the 70s who confirmed that much of the original plasterwork was incorporated into the new theatre during the rebuild.

The Queensland Heritage Council now admits they never conducted an inspection of the site, but rather relied on the findings of a Government department. Based on their recommendation, the developers were granted a "Certificate of Immunity" and have been able to start demolishing an irreplaceable part of Brisbane history.

This is an absolute disgrace.

Hopefully people power can rise above incompetance and big business tactics. If you would like to help, you can cut and paste the below and email the Deputy Premier, Andrew Fraser at with the following:

Dear Deputy Premier,

Along with thousands of other Queenslanders who want to save the Brisbane Regent theatre from further destruction, I was deeply concerned to discover in recent media reports that DERM provided misleading advice to the Queensland Heritage Commission about the status of material in the Showcase cinema. I am even more concerned that the QHC offered the opinion that the Showcase and its surrounds was not worth being listed, and later rejected a heritage application for the Elizabeth Street facade of the theatre, without even inspecting the site.

The Regent is a much-loved building and the last of its kind, and it should be restored for future generations. I call on the Minister to order an IMMEDIATE halt to demolition work on the site, to launch an inquiry into the roles of DERM and the QHC in the redevelopment application process, and to enter negotiations with Brookfield Multiplex with the aim of incorporating a commercially viable multipurpose cinema and live performance space within the Regent Towers development.

Yours sincerely,
(your name)

Thank you in advance for your help. Here are some links:

Save the Regent
'Replica' Regent may be more original than first thought - Brisbane Times 15 December 2011 
Heritage Council did not inspect Regent, admits Chairman - Brisbane Times 16 December 2011 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

All wrapped up!

Presents are all wrapped and those that needed to be sent are in the post! Mammoth effort this year but all completed on time!  Hurrah!

Friday, December 16, 2011

F**k Yeah, Owls

One of the interior designers at work got this super cute paper owl for her Secret Santa presents.   I love it!

It reminded me though of when @nhac told me about a Tumblr trend of blogs that started with "f**ck yeah," and then whatever the blog was about. He told me about one for cupcakes and one for owls. Hilarious! So check out and .

Secret Santa

We played Secret Santa at work today and I was given this adorable umbrella which I just LOOOOOVE!! Sooooo cute!! I just want it to rain!

We had a little Christmas work party downstairs in the interior design colour room and with everyone gathered around I realised, I really like my  job. You may not realise this significance of this but I've had 12 jobs in the past 10 years (many changes though were due to moving state or were short term contract jobs). My work as a publicist and copywriter in marketing and communications by nature is never really long term, but I've just celebrated 18 months in this job and for the first time I'm not looking around for something else. The work itself is great, but the people are awesome, and being in the building industry, they've been invaluable during this whole flood insurance issue over the past 12 months.

So here's to being happy in your job and happy in life! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree...

One of the few things to survive the flood were our beautiful Christmas ornaments. They were saved because they were stored in sealed plastic boxes in the highest cupboard in the house. The waters reached to the bottom of the box but that was easily washed off. The Christmas Tree unfortunately didn't make it as it wasn't in a plastic box, just its original cardboard box.

My Christmas ornaments are very precious to me. I have two themes. The first one is a traditional theme with wooden ornaments of candy canes, toy soldiers, sleighs and Santas. I bought them when Josh was very little and it reminds me of my childhood when we had the traditionally decorated tree.

The second theme, and my favourite, is a crystal, glass and silver theme. I only started collecting for this a couple of years ago when Josh and I moved out on our own as it was something I had always wanted and I felt like it signalled a new era for us.  The glass ornaments in particular are just divine and flicker in the sunlight during the day and the reflect the fairy lights at night.

The whole effect is just divine and when I sit back and look it brings a little smile to my face.

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Luggage Tags!

I lost all my matching Samsonite luggage in the flood and the cute tags that said "Hands Off" as well. That was kind of annoying because the tags were $11 each. But I bought these cute tags at a junk store for the grand price of $2.50 for a pack of 2.

Bargain. all my tags match.  *Happy face*

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fatboys Cafe at Ric's Bar

Graham and I once had an awesome date at Fatboys (a few years ago now). It was late at night and the food and service were great. Since then (and before during my uni days) I've just thought of Fatboys as supper place, but it actually does an awesome breakfast.

We ate there on Saturday morning and there wasn't a drunken or hungover patron in sight. My specialty order coffee (quarter strength flat white) was perfectly made and presented and the menu was CHEAP with lots of options.

I had the haloumi stack for $12.50 and Graham had the vege breakfast for $9.50. BUT...if we weren't vegetarian, then we totally would have have the $4.00 breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausages, tomato and toast. Seriously...$4.00!!!

Read my review on Weekend Notes here.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The holiday bucket list

This weekend is the first weekend in months that we haven't been organising an event or going to a party or have something pressing that needs to be done.

With Dad's 70th birthday party last weekend and Josh's graduation celebrations over I actually came home on Friday and had nothing to do.

And it was fabulous.

These holidays we're staying put and not going to Townsville like we normally do. I have a list of things that I WANT to do (as opposed to NEEDING to do) and they include reading these books by Candace Bushnell that I borrowed from the library.

This will be quite the mean feat as I don't normally read. I can write, and write for hours, but reading a book I find difficult. Maybe it's the lack of pictures, I don't know, because I love reading the weekend papers and magazines, books are just...different.

Anyway, stay tuned till after New Year. I'll let you know if I managed to do it!

Sprout Cafe

Going to breakfast at a place that has either just opened or under new owners is never really a good idea. There's always that 'teething' period and you're better off just waiting until they settle in.

My cousin Jon was up from Sydney for a wedding so we really only had breakfast to catch up with the fam, and Sprout at Auchenflower was a last minute choice. This place is pretty well known for its dinner fare, but I'd never known it was open for breakfast.

Turns out it was under new owners and today was the first day they were open for breakfast.

Service was really, really slow and I get the feeling that perhaps their waitress hadn't turned up, because the poor owner was taking orders, cooking and serving until a waitress turned up looking flustered. I think she might have been called in at the last minute.

The service though was really, really friendly, despite being slow, so I can forgive, I wasn't the one that needed to get to a wedding.  The food was delicious too. They brought out home made bread for starters and it was still warm and melt in your mouth delicious.

When it finally did arrive, I had the muesli and it was toasty sweet, but not too sticky. We were a table of six and everyone said theirs was delicious, so I think just wait a few months and this place will have their service sorted.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Josh's Graduation

My little baby boy graduated from high school last night. Seven years has gone by in the blink of an eye.

I remember his first day at school like it was yesterday. His uniform was too big but he was so excited to be going to "big school". There was also a boy who was to become his best mate for all of primary school (and beyond).

Seven years of fetes, making lunches, school projects, pick ups, drop offs, school excursions and homework.

I got a bit teary at the graduation ceremony. I'm such goober. I'm not even sure if the tears were for Josh or for me.

Next step...high school.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dad's 70th Birthday Party

My Dad has his 70th birthday party over the weekend in Townsville. In Chinese cultures, the 70th is a big deal. Actually, the Chinese believe that when you are born, you are already 1 years old (I guess in the womb counts?). So the western 70th is actually the 71st and equivalent in status to the celebrations of the 21st.

Anyway, history aside, my golden rule as an event manager has always been NEVER to organise and event without seeing the venue. In my previous jobs I've even flown to Sydney or Melbourne for the day (a mean feat, given my aversion to flying) to check out a venue, even if it's just for a few clients.

Unfortunately, I've been so busy and Dad's party is in Townsville, I just didn't get time to check it out, so I had to rely on my darling Aunty to take photos from all angles and send them back to me.

Venue Before
Dad chose a Chinese restaurant owned by an old family friend because he could get sole use of the venue (80+ guests) and there was an all you can eat buffet. That part is all good, but the venue was an old Pizza Hut converted to Chinese restaurant. Yeah, you can't really pull that off without it looking like an old Pizza Hut converted to a Chinese restaurant. It had mint green chairs, curtains and tables and a couple of random red lanterns hanging from the ceiling (??).

That's OK. Graham and I have worked with a lot worse.  It's soooo handy having a partner who's a talented graphic designer.'s what we did...and we did it on an awesome budget.

We were flying in on Friday night and the party was on Saturday night, so we had to get all our supplies in Brisbane and take them with us as there wouldn't be enough time on Saturday to gather supplies.

To dress up the tables we grabbed a few metres of Chinese jaquard fabric for $6.50/metre for table runners and plain gold satin for table cloths for $5/metre from Trads Liquidation at Cannon Hill. Graham designed some awesome table mats with a Snoopy theme (Dad like him) and a variety of photos from Dad's life.

For party favours, we bought 100 noodle boxes from Statpack in Rocklea for $20. This place is an absolute gem for packaging. They also had sushi boxes, cake boxes...everything packaging. The noodle boxes even in junk stores were about $1 each, so this was a bargain. We filled them with fortune cookies bought in bulk from Yuens Market Trading Co in Coopers Plains ($35 for 300 cookies instead of $4 for a box of 11 at the supermarket). The noodle boxes were wrapped up in ribbon from wholesale florist suppliers Swann Agencies ($4.95/50 metres)  and an "authentic, ancient" Chinese gold coin (30c each from the junk store).

Venue After
The we got a whole heap of Chinese paper lanterns for $1 Store for $1 each (funny that) also at Cannon Hill. We strung the lanterns across the ceiling and put glowsticks in them and also put them on the tables and tied helium balloons to them. We put cans of soft drink in them to stop them floating away and lit glow sticks in them to make them look like they were flickering.

Birthday Cake
Anyway, for a low budget decoration it looked pretty good. The cake was a delicious fruit cake, which Dad wanted, and the food was limited in vegetarian so I can't really comment on that.

But Dad was happy and that's all that matters. We won't make mention of his ONE HOUR SPEECH!

Happy 70th Dad!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The advantages of...

The advantages of having a cousin that owns a Chinese restaurant is you get the "real" Chinese food...and lots of it! None of this beef and black bean or sweet and sour pork, you absolutely won't find that in China.

So if you're ever in Townsville, try the Sun Doo Chinese Restaurant on Charters Towers Road...and try anything with tofu!

Vintage Kitchen Vintage Closet

It's been almost 12 months since the flood and since we've been on the East side of Brisbane it's now starting to feel like home. I know where everything is at the local Coles and loving all the new shops and cafes that are opening up around the area.

There seems to be a bit of a revival around the Coorparoo area and I've just read that they're planning a long overdue revitalisation of the Stones Corner area. Fabbo! In the meantime, a number of cafes and shops have opened up in the little hub around the Old Cleveland Road and Cavendish Road corner, including Vintage Kitchen Vintage Closet.

Cute concept. A vintage shop selling vintage clothes, toys, homewares and furniture, combined with a cafe. There's also comfy couch with a Sega in the corner for retro gaming and they have live bands over the weekends.

Food was simple and delicious and you can order from the menu or the cabinet, which had to-die-for muffins.

What a cool place, read my review in Weekend Notes.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Harajuku Gyoza

OMG, a dedicated dumpling house opened in the Valley and I've been hassling Graham all week to go! We rocked up at Harajuku Gyoza on a Friday night at 6pm and the line up was out the door and down the street!  WTF??!!! This place has only been opened a couple of weeks, how is this possible?

We didn't bother, instead coming back on a SUNDAY night at nanas. And there was STILL a line up, but we only had to wait 10 minutes.

What a rocking atmosphere, Japanese girls in cute Japanese get up serving "poached" and "grilled" gyozas and other Japanese fare, cranking music and the customary welcome shout when you come in.

The gyozas were awesome! We could only have the vege ones, but they had duck, prawn, chicken and pork on the menu. There's only 5 pieces on each dish and I could probably eat 2 dishes on my own, so it's not cheap, but delicious and fun all the same.

Loving this my review on Weekend Notes here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Guess what I love about Christmas the most? Wrapping. I looooove wrapping! Every year I have a different theme and I usually order my paper and ribbon ahead of time from a wholesaler. It's better quality and usually comes in rolls so you don't get those annoying creases or run out halfway through a present.

But...I was at IKEA with my bestie Cheree and they had some gorgeous paper...for $2 a roll!! Bargain.  So, this year I've decided on three themes. Kraft brown wrapping with scarlett grosgrain ribbon, deep red wrapping with white grosgrain ribbon, and aqua blue and white snowflake wrapping with white grosgrain ribbon.

And Graham picked up these matching gift tags from Kiki-K for me. Now I just have to get PRESENTS to wrap!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The gecko in the light

Josh noticed this gecko in the lamp last night. It was doing little dances around the inside catching moths. You can see him poised for his next catch up on the left of the photo.

Some people hate geckos, but I love them. They're so cute with their transparent skin, big black eyes and padded feet. We live in an old Queenslander with no screens so they come in everywhere. So do the mozzies and moths though and the geckos are a natural insect spray for us.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I was in the Valley on the weekend searching out the junk stores for decoration for my Dad's Chinese themed 70th birthday party. I was looking for paper lanterns, Chinese trinkets, glow sticks and all manner of cheap imported things I associate with the Valley.

While I was waiting to cross the road at Brunswick Street I look at the McWhirters facade, gleaming in the afternoon sun and standing proudly as it would have when it was built in the 1930s. I never realised what a magnificent building it was. A fine example of Art Deco architecture, an era I just adore.

The valley really has degraded over the years, even moreso since I first came to Brisbane in 1993. Even then it was a bit of a dive and I never really knew it was anything else other than Chinatown and a red light district. But after a bit of research I found that Fortitude Valley was once a thriving upmarket shopping precinct from the late 1800s until the 1970s, with McWhiters a large department store.

It's really sad to see the state of the Valley when you see how it once was, but I'm glad there's some remnants of their glory days and I live in hope that someday they'll be restored.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Stone Fruit Season!

November. Stone fruit season. Love it! Our turn to put on morning tea and instead of  my usual mini croissants with tomato and cheese, I thought I'd do a fruit platter.

It's the beginning of stone fruit season mind you, so this (small) platter ended up costing me $20!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Breakfast at Ikea

I know I've mentioned it before, but I STILL can't believe you can get this breakfast at Ikea for $2.95 and now on Wednesday mornings you can get it for $1.95!!  UNBELIEVABLE!!  OK, I know the whole jist of loss leaders etc, I am in marketing, but I still find that pretty cool.

What's not so cool though at Ikea are these bizarre toys which I can only describe as minority dolls. They're just...wrong. Not at all cute, I don't know how they expect kids to like them. I was with my bestie Cheree and my 2.5 year old god daughter Ingrid and she didn't like them AT ALL.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cheap Eats

This has totally made it to the top of my cheap eats list! This super delicious and surprisingly filling Sticky Rice Cup at Teamaster is $4.50. Yep, cheap as. And if you're not insanely hungry it could easily satisfy as a main.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Home Grown Goodness

I really miss having a veggie and herb garden. Being able to go outside and picks some fresh basil for bruschetta or tomatoes for salads is something we did as kids and something we'd started at the house before it was flooded.

There's no veggie patch where we are at the moment, but Graham threw a couple of old cherry tomatoes into one of the pot plants and this is what popped up.

The smell of fresh, vine ripened tomatoes is like nothing else. No fertilisers, no pesticides, just water and spring sunshine.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Simple Foods

I made this super simple dinner tonight. A stack of roasted and steamed vegies. Corn, capsicum, sweet potato, potato and brocolli. Everything (except the broccoli) was steamed, tossed in some extra virgin olive oil and roasted. The colour was amazing and the boys loved it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Homeless Connect

Josh, Graham and I volunteered at Homeless Connect today. It's a twice year event that connects homeless or at risk of homeless people with essential services from the government as well as professionals such as doctors, optometrists and dentists who volunteer their time.

I'm sure they didn't need my copywriting services but was happy to help in the food area. We cut up and prepped vegies, washed dishes and served food. Everyone was well behaved and the day went well.

It broke my heart to see some of the people that were there. The elderly and babies and children that really should have been at school. Actually, seeing anyone there at all broke my heart. I couldn't even begin to imagine what it would be like not knowing where you were sleeping for the night or where the next meal was coming from. Especially if you had children.

I took Josh along to volunteer so he could see how lucky he is to have a roof over his head, food every day and pretty much anything else he needed. That life wasn't so bad if he wasn't allowed to play on the computer every day and occasionally had to do some chores. It must have affected him to some extent as he definitely didn't want to do it again next year.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Brisbane Flood Update

Left by an unknown volunteer who helped to clean my home after the floods

Today I emailed over my final correspondence to the insurers before (hopefully) my claim settles. It's been a long journey but I'm looking forward to this next chapter.

While at times it's been very frustrating, there's been some huge positives that have come out of this and that's what I like to concentrate on.

The day after the floods awesome friends and family rallied around and in the most horrendous (and smelliest) of circumstances to help clear out all my mud infested belongings and clean out my home.  Complete strangers whose names I'll never know and will never be able to thank came from around the corner and across town with gurnis and boots, cleaned for hours without complaint and then left without as quickly as they arrived when the job was done to move on to the next home.

While insurers have been getting a bad run in the press, mine have actually been very good and I've been very happy and grateful for everything they've done. Most of the delays we've had have been beyond their control and they've come to the party to compensate.

Once I settle with the insurers I will be able to do things to the home that I wouldn't have been able to before the floods. That will definitely be a plus.

It does feel like a new beginning.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Google Search Results "Karina Roberts"

Do you ever google yourself? I did the other day and whole stack of stuff from ages ago came up in the search results. Press releases I'd written years ago, newspaper articles I've been in, old blog posts and even comments I'd written on other people's website. I have no idea how SEO really works because the top hits weren't what you would call popular sites.

What did come up, which surprised me, was an article I wrote for Bean Scene magazine in 2006. About breakfast.

My writing style has changed a lot over the years. But my love of breakfast hasn't ;-)