Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy 100th to my Grandma


Today would have been my beloved grandmother's 100th birthday. She was an amazing woman. She lost her husband when he was only in his early 40s, leaving her with 2 young children to raise in a foreign country where she had very little money and spoke very little English.

She had a steely resolve and proud nature and never took charity and she looked after herself and her children by running a small mixed business. 

She had easier times in retirement and seemed to take great joy in looking after us grandkids - we called her "Por-Por" which was the Chinese name for Grandma. She was a cracker cook and had some awesome toys, so we were always happy to visit.

Por-Por was immensely loved and so very well looked after by her two children in her later years, a testament I think to those strong family values.  We lost her in 2006 (she was 94 though...what a champion), and we all miss her greatly.

Happy 100th Por-Por!

Trust me, I'm a nurse...


Happy Halloween Everyone!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cutest Cupcake Ever!


This is seriously the cutest cupcake ever! I think I'm in love! It's from My Sweetopia in South Brisbane and Bestie B and I were celebrating her birthday.

They had a whole cabinet of gorgeous creations! The only thing...that icing, is not icing. Well, not what I call icing, it was some sort of cream. Not the super sweetness I was hoping for. But it's still cute right?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The marvels of nature

My beloved star jasmine hedge

I visited the house last week to clear out the mailbox and check on the plants and my beautiful star jasmine hedge had burst into an explosive bloom of heady smelling flowers.

They were absolutely beautiful, and so heavy with flowers some of the branches were drooping. The perfume smell that I absolutely adore was sweet and overwhelming.

There was such a contrast between the splendorous beauty of Mother Nature's flowers and the desolate house it was in front of, still empty and waiting for repair from bearing the full brunt of Mother Nature's anger.

I couldn't help but think though that there were some other forces. The bloom was late this year and I thought that perhaps the toxic floodwaters had damaged their blooming ability permanently. I had visited the house last week and there wasn't a single bud on the hedge and it was as empty and barren as the house.

This week though, I've entered the final stages of settlement with my insurers and the outcome of the negotiations have been extremely positive. I can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel where life returns to my beloved property. Perhaps it was a celebratory bloom just waiting for the right time. Or perhaps it was just Mother Nature showing, "see, I'm not all that bad".

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Ponycat


When it comes to food and dining, the most insane things will suck me in. For this trip, it was the mural on the wall - I love it. It's at The Ponycat in New Farm, the latest "it" cafe in Bris Vegas.  All the reviews said it was packed for brekkie so get in early. We got there at 8am on a Saturday and while it was busy, we got a table pretty easily.



Service was quick and and friendly, taking our order at our table in record time. And yep, they make a good coffee.


I have to say though, there's nothing that ruins a good vegetarian breakfast like a couple of hunks of meat. Haha - my fault totally though. I saw "sweet potato cakes" with "eggplant kasunda" and was sold. Somehow I missed everything else that was on the dish, including a couple of pieces of honey baked ham. Oh well, I just pushed them to the side and ate the rest.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A second date haircut



I'm such a hairdresser whore. I bounce from one hairdresser to another, whichever takes my fancy, or is nearby. I never stay around long enough to form a relationship and with all the group deals I basically go to any hairdresser that can offer me the best deal.

This is how my relationship with Obsidian Hair started. Six months ago an online deal of $69 for a cut, colour, eyelash and eyebrow tint got me in. And it was fabulous. Not because of the price, but the hairdresser actually gave me a haircut the way I wanted it!

My hair is sooo easy to cut. It's straight, thick and does what it's told, so I don't know why I always come out with a mullet or bowl cut and $50 poorer.

Anyways, she did a fabbo job, and today I did something I've never done. I went back for a second date and it was just as good as the first.

Oh, and I absolutely LOOOOOOOOVE the mural on the wall! The hairdresser said it was done by a friend of hers. Love it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Noodle World

History has taught us that whenever we do events we know we won't get time to eat, so we fuel up beforehand. So before the Zen Wall Pilates launch, even though the food they had there looked divine, we arrived a bit early to find something to munch on. There's not many options in the way of quick (not fast) food, but the local noodle bar looked good.

Call me wierd, but I love an open kitchen. There's something about seeing the raw ingredients before their cooked, watching the cook toss and throw them around in the wok, hearing the crackling as they hit the oil and then the inevitable smell of frying garlic as all the ingredients as they start to cook. I guess that's why I love noodle bars so much, they're like the "slightly" healthier version of fast food. Especially when all the ingredients are out on display. You know, at least, that they're fresh and the place is confident enough to say, "yep, here they all are!"


Noodle World is a tiny, hole in the wall noodle bar in Sherwood. There's a couple of tables out the front and a couple of teeny tiny benches inside that you could probably only fit about 4 people on. The menu is nothing out of the ordinary, all your typical noodle combinations and a dedicated vegetarian section, and the prices are very reasonable. Around $10 for most dishes either sit in or take away...and I'm pretty happy with that.


We had the ginger and soy tofu friend noodles and a side of tofu rice paper rolls. The noodles were great!  I always hesitate with getting anything with soy sauce in it as most places load it (no idea why) and it's way too salty for my liking. I was a little worried when it came out VERY dark, but the flavour was subtle with a nice hint of zesty ginger. The rice paper rolls were freshly made and served with a satay and chilli sauce (probably could have skipped on the chilli bit). But it was quick, hot (not the rice paper rolls), tasty and fresh, which was important because we only had 20 minutes from beginning to end before the event.  This is actually the second time we've eaten here, the first time was a similar situation - in a hurry on our way somewhere.  Same fast service, good basic food. I do love consistency.

It's always exciting to find a good noodle bar that's not a chain or a franchise. I'm loving Noodle World, and just a note...don't be frightened off by the cook's bizarre hair cut, they're really, really nice people...and he cooks a mean noodle dish!

Congrats to Zen Wall Pilates



G and I helped out our dear friend Sandra open her second yoga studio in Sherwood. There was an awesome turn out and a great party. The studio is a custom made wall pilates studio where you use a series of belts and clips on the wall to support you during your pilates poses. Pretty cool huh?

Sandra's first studio was Zen Hot Yoga, a far infrared studio that warmed the body during the yoga sessions. I used to go religiously every Wednesday and Sunday. I haven't been lately since I've moved out of the area, and I miss it.


Graham was on photography duty, I was on raffle duty selling tickets to raise money to build an orphanage in Uganda. Was a good night. Big congrats to Sandra!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Want!


Ok, this is pretty cool. One of the guys at work just bought this new Fuji Finepix X100, a hybrid of  the traditional SLR film cameras with the technology of today. And it took some absolutely cracker shots. Beautiful in design and surprisingly light to hold.

Apparently he ordered it back in January, but with the tsunamis in Japan, it's taken this long to get here.

$1200...that might have to go on the wishlist.

Although...I'm still in love with my Canon D50...mainly because it's a fabulous SLR camera and also because it was a very sweet present from G.

The Side Street Trap


My attempt to curb my clothes addiction suffered a set back. Look how pretty and girly this top is. I saw it on a sale rack at Side Street in Bulimba, next to the ATM I use. It's a trap. I bet they make a killing on girls who go to get money out and walk straight in there, attracted like fire flies to lights.

But...you can't argue with $59.95 down to $19.95...right?

You can't really see in this pic but the satin top is a really pretty steel blue colour with an open mandarin collar. I wore it today at work.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Social Media Princess



Social media has been added to my job description at work.  So they've given me a new sign for my desk. What do you think? Does my bum look big in this?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Riders!


My favourite jeans in the whole world are my Low Super Skinny's by Rider. I live in them on the weekend. I paid $110 for them. Buuut, on the weekend while I was at DFO, I picked up 2 for $70. Winning!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Eagle Farm Racecourse


I love how they've preserved much of the Eagle Farm Racecourse as it was when it was built 140 years ago. The old buildings and stands have such a nostalgic feel about them. This is the old grandstand. It's as solid as the day it was built, but shows all the wear and tear of thousands of race meets over the years.


This is the Tote Room which is now used as a banquet hall and also one of the food halls open during the Eagle Farm Markets each Sunday. The tote windows where all the bets were made are still intact.


And they have some of the original form guides up on the walls. Cool huh?

Click!


Spring is definitely in the air! Everything is blooming...even the weeds. I know they're pests, but close up they so pretty with such intense colour.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tea Master

I'm in a quandary as to whether vegetarians should be against anything that represents eating meat. Whether all these "fake meat" restaurants aren't really vegetarian if they have Spicy Thai Chicken on their menu, even though it's not chicken.

Actually...it's a very fleeting quandary. Cause it looks like chicken, it's tastes like chicken..I can't believe it's not chicken! Oh, and it's tastes sooo good!


Aside from our absolute favourite fake meat/vego restaurant, Kuan Yin Teahouse, our next favourite is Tea Master, which is just a block away in Wickham Street.  They have an awesome menu of vegetarian and vegan dishes which are cheap, fresh, tasty and quick!



The laksa is particularly tasty, with authentic looking (and tasting) prawns and fish balls. It's a typical giant size serving too, enough to share between 2. Most of the mains are under $10, so it's a pretty cheap night out if you're on a budget.



If you're after variety though, I'd recommend trying a number of the snacks and entrees. They're generally under $5, so you can even have a few of those to share yum chat style. This sticky rice cup is delicious.



Oh, and they have bubble tea! Taro milk is my fave, despite the bizarre purple colour. This isn't it though (obviously). This is mango!

Friday morning tea

You can go to the fanciest, funkiest cafe but sometimes the best really is home cooked. Every second Friday at work we have morning tea and each department provides home made (mostly) goodies.  It's not just a great way to catch up with everyone, but some of the treats are a culinary delight.


Because of the number of departments we have, on average each department only has to provide morning tea once every 2 months. So it's a full 2 months before we can sample Reshmi's Indian delights. This is true AUTHENTIC Indian! This week she made vegetarian samosas, made from potato curry. Ohhhhh.


Jules made home made brownies. Man, I'll take home made any day!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Books and Rice Paper Rolls

Specialising in two completely separate things is a hard gig. There's nothing worse than a fab homewares store that serves crap coffee or a great gym that sells those awful prepackaged salad rolls (that's an example I made up, I never go to the gym).

Buuut, I caught up with an old friend today and we both suggested Riverbend Books & Teahouse at Bulimba. I wanted to go there for the food (specifically, the rice paper rolls I'd read about in a review) and my dear friend is an avid book reader, so she was there for the books.

I have to hand it to them, they do both really, really well. There's a gorgeous, breezy deck out the front for dining, overlooking bustling Oxford Street, and Brisbane put on a spectacular, sunny day. Inside, the bookstore is cosy and warm, stacked to the ceiling with bookliness with the smell of freshly printed literature.


They take their food seriously, with a modern, fresh menu. If I hadn't ordered the rice paper rolls (vegetarian version), then my next pick would definitely have been the Soba noodles with shitake, mango, spring onions, ginger and soy. Anyway, my rice paper rolls were divine, super fresh and simply but beautifully presented. Similarly my lunch date's Salmon Nicoise looked delectable...even to a vegetarian and the servings being a decent size we probably could have forgone the thick cut chips with Japanese mayonnaise. But I ate them anyway. Had I noticed the dessert cabinet before I ate them I would have saved room.

The service was quick and friendly and the coffee was good. AND..they got the bill right. I love that.

To be fair and balanced I did actually go into the bookstore. I'm not really a reader at all (yes, I'm aware of the irony), so I wasn't actually sure what I was looking for. Josh had mentioned that he liked a book they were reading at school so I asked a lady in there for some help. She was unbelievably helpful. She took a while to find it because it was under the shelves right at the very back. All up I think it took about 20 minutes to find, but she regularly popped her head up and said, "I'm still looking", and handed me no less than 3 other age appropriate books to consider while she found the other one. All that effort, for the $16.99 I eventually spent. And she seemed genuinely chuffed she'd been able to help. I think secretly she was harbouring the notions she might convert me to a book reader.

No way. But I'll definitely go there for books, even if they are for someone else. And I'll definitely go there for the food...next time though I'll start with that dessert cabinet.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Click!

Fortitude Valley, 8.11pm

Barefoot Bowls


Took the boys to barefoot bowls today. It was fun, and actually harder than it looks. I didn't realise they weren't perfectly round, and they need to be thrown on a certain angle to go straight. So subsequently the majority of my balls ended up in the gutter.

This is the closest I got



I bought the passes on one of those group deal sites. It came with 2 hours of bowls and a food platter. It was really just loads of deep fried stuff, but I kinda liked it. The boys certainly liked it.


Believe it or not, this was actually on my bucket list. Another tick. And...I think I found my birthday venue for next year :-)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Valley Fiesta!!

After our regular Friday night dinner at Kuan Yin, we went for a walk through the Valley and happen to walk straight through the opening night of Valley Fiesta - the Valley's annual music festival.

How cool!

I call it an "accidental festival ticket". The atmosphere was awesome. They had a live band playing from the balcony of one of the buildings and all down Ann Street, they had performers in the shop windows.

video

These guys were my favourite. I think they were some sort of Marie Antoinette Zombies. There were loads of other great performers too.

This guy was dancing to the robot flower on the floor

These guys were giving piano lessons

Clowns in the Ultra Suite window

Our Regular


Some people have a regular bar, or a regular cafe, our regular is Kuan Yin Teahouse, a slightly divey, vegetarian cafe run by Buddhists in Fortitude Valley.

We eat there probably every second Friday night, early, given they have very odd opening hours. We love their "fake meat" dishes like Thai Spicy Chicken and Fish and Vegetables - looks like meat, tastes like meat, but it usually made from vegetable protein or mushrooms.

We popped in on Friday night and the place was packed! Fuller than we'd ever seen it in the years it's been our regular.

This pleases me.

This place is as cheap as chips, I guess cause they're not in it to  make loads of money, so I love to see them do well.  The most expensive dish is this "Delicate Combo" a vegetable pancake with miso soup served on an individual gas cooker. At $14.95 it's pretty filling and basically an entree and main in one.

Don't expect anything fancy - the crockery and cutlery don't match, the decor is questionable and translation in the menu is amusing, but that's actually what I love about the place. The service is always friendly and did I mention the cheap dishes? All vegetarian with vegan options so it's ethical as well.

Did I mention the cheap dishes?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Flashback Friday - Penny's Computer Book



When I was little, my little brother Marc and I LOVED the cartoon Inspector Gadget. Mum and Dad had a TV in their bedroom and I remember sitting on the floor and watching it, and when we bought a VCR (that's "Video Cassette Recorder" kids) we would watch it over and over again and drive Mum crazy.

The basic premise of the story centred around bumbling Inspector Gadget, who was made up of a multitude of gadgets and fumbled his way through cases helped by his much cleverer niece Penny and her supersmart dog, Brain. It was based on the 60s show "Get Smart" and the star of that show, Don Adams, was the voice of Inspector Gadget.

Anyways, Penny had an awesome computer book, which looked like a normal book from the outside, but when she opened it up, she could communicate via VIDEO to Brain, and look up things INSTANTLY. Oh..and it had a built in calculator. I just thought it was the most amazing device EVER!!



So I was look at our iPad the other day and thought..this is Penny's computer book. This is the device I wanted someone so desperately to create. And here it is. Again, Steve Jobs, we are eternally indebted to you.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

iSad


The death of Steve Jobs was like a death in the family. We're a dedicated Apple family. We have 5 macs, 3 iPhones, 1 iPad, 3 Mac Minis and 4 iPods. They have a profound everyday influence on the way we live our lives and connect with people we love and the rest of the world.

I hope his vision lives on and innovation continues. History, at least, will ensure he never dies.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Just Because



Sometimes people do nice things. Really nice things.

About 18 months ago I caught up with an old friend I used to work with. He said he and his wife had an idea for a special event and were we interested in helping out with the planning.

Turns out that special event was to take a bunch of their family and friends on an island holiday for 4 days of fun activities, fabulous food, entertainment and relaxing indulgence. And when I say a bunch of people, I mean about 50.

Why? Well, just because. Just because life's too short to need a reason to catch up with your loved ones. Just because they could, and why not.

So of course we would love to help out. It's once in a lifetime that someone would ask that. They decided on the luxurious 5 star Hayman Island in the Whitsundays for the location. It was picture perfect, with its inky blue waters and sandy white beaches.


We called the event "Just Because", because it really did capture the essence of it all.

It took 18 months to plan and we had a few hiccups along the way, mainly the damage caused by Cyclone Yasi cancelled our original date and it had to be put back another 6 months, but in the end we got there.

We did the organising and branding (more on that later), but their aim was just for everyone to have a good time and enjoy being together. And they did...a bunch of people who were genuinely grateful and happy to be there.