Monday, January 30, 2012

A day in New Farm

A mid century inspired lounge...at the bus stop!
I had a lazy Sunday in New Farm with Tehana, my foodie/fashion cousin-in-crime.

New Farm has so much character with an eclectic mixture of historical architecture from every era. The narrow streets dotted with beautiful old Queenslanders with the wraparound verandahs and ironwork lace next to art deco apartment blocks from the 1940s next to 1970s brown brick eyesores.

New Farm is one of those boom suburbs. It started out as farming land in the 1800s (thus its name), but, despite being just 2kms from the CBD, fell in disrepair and  by the 1980s had became a bit of a druggy hovel like its neighbour Fortitude Valley.

When I arrived in Brisbane in the early 1990s, the developers had just started moving in "gentrifying" the area. But even back then you could pick up a house for under $100K. Fast forward 20 years and those little homes, even unrenovated, sell for a million dollars. It's insane.

But I digress. We decided on a day in New Farm because they have awesome, albiet expensive, shopping in James Streets and we hadn't caught up since Christmas.  So we started with breakfast.

Coco pops and Bailey's...for breakfast?
I'd heard about Lady Lamington from one of the girls at work, who had gone on opening night. She said the place had a great atmosphere and a fantastic fit out, but as you'd expect on opening night, things were a little disorganised.

I try not to go to a new restaurant or cafe until a least a month after they open so they can get settled, but Tehana was keen and had another theory that if a place was really good, then if you leave it a month you can't get in.

I like my theory better.

The place was really cool and funky but the service was sooooo slow. We had 3 different people come around to take our order, but even though there were only 2 other tables, our breakfast took almost 40 minutes to come out. My corncakes were really overcooked and crispy and (Tehana's husband) Nathan's order came out wrong.

Corn Cakes
But in all honesty, that's to be expected. The staff were really sweet and the menu looked good. Give it a month or two and this place will be rocking.

We ditched Nathan (well, he ditched us, apparently shopping all day in the rain with 2 girls didn't appeal to him) and headed off to James Street. James Street is one of those high streets full of designer shops, delicatessans and organic food stores and expensive cafes. We shopped for a few hours, trying on clothes, looking at homewares, trying on perfume at Libertine and drinking coffee at Jamie's Espresso Bar. Despite the rain, it was really fun.

We had coffee at Jamie's Espresso Bar
This year is going to be my year of just doing stuff. Catching up with friends and visiting new places, or revisiting old places. So far I've been off to a pretty good start.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dinner at home


This is the monster burger I made for dinner. It's (literally) a burger with the lot! Cheese, tomato relish, a vegetarian burger patty, onions, grilled mushroom, pineapple, tomato, garlic aioli and lettuce on an olive sourdough. Service with fries.

Yep...we ate it all!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kung He Fat Choi Everyone!!



Kung He Fat Choi everyone!! That means Happy New Year in Chinese and the Chinese New Year festival was on all weekend. The date for Chinese New Year varies each year depending on the moon, but the traditions and festivities stay the same.

Chinese New Year means a lot to me and brings back fantastic memories from my childhood. We used to attend Chinese New Year function held by the local Chinese Club every year. None of the fancy schmancy themed spectaculars, back then it was just held in the local hall or Chinese restaurant with a few balloons and paper lanterns.

The food though was simple, authentic and delicious! I remember the 'all you can eat' spread laid out in endless rows of bainmaries. We'd run around with all the other kids with paper lanterns on sticks shouting "Kung He Fat Choi!", haning out to be given the traditional "li see" (money envelopes) in red packets. Tradition says it's to contain and even $ number, we used to get 2 x 5c pieces  and we thought we were rich!!!!

The red symbolises good luck and given by the married to the unmarried. I only just found that out after a quick google search, I always thought it was just the adults to the children.


What I love the most though about Chinese New Year is the Lion Dance. Store owners tie li sees to "green" vegetables and fruit and hang them in the front of the store. The lion will dance, spit out the lettuce but keep the li see. It was to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year.

This year I desperately wanted to go into the Valley to be amongst the celebrations, eat good Chinese food and watch the Lion Dance. The Valley was PACKED with excited revellers - young, old, Asian and not Asian. It was great to see and a fantastic atmosphere, noisy with the sound of people, drums, cymbols and fire crackers. This year is extra special too, as it's the year of the Dragon - my year - and that only comes around every 12 years.


We had to pack into the restaurant with a stack of other people, but everyone was in such a good celebratory mood they didn't mind waiting for a table or being jostled around a bit. I had a divine tofu and shitake mushroom hotpot at Pho B and it was DELICIOUS!! Afterwards we had gelati at Schlix and watched the Lion Dance in the front of the local restaurants and shops.

video

I was sooo happy just watching the Lion Dance go from restaurant to restaurant. It's a hard, physical gig and the dancers inside the dragon put in so much effort.

The celebrations are way more elaborate then when I was a kid, but the atmosphere and goodwill are the same. It's about centuries old traditions, celebrating with family and friends, and hope and prosperity for the year ahead. I'm certainly all for that!

Kung He Fat Choi Everyone!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dragonberry Window


Seriously??? How do you walk in these??

The Burata Explosion



The work girls and I had lunch today at our favourite local, The Jetty Oxford. After days and days of rain, the sun came out to cue the weekend and being oudoors was glorious!

Being a Friday and sunny the place was packed and of course we didn't have a booking. One thing I do love about this place though is they can actually THINK and moved some tables and bookings around so everyone (including our party of 5) could still fit. Kudos!!



They've changed to a new menu since I was there last and the only thing that really caught my eye was the Caprese Salad with Fresh Burata. What's burata you say? I have no idea - ask the waiter.

"It's cheese," he said, "probably best described as being like fresh buffalo mozzarella, but runnier."

OK.

He wasn't kidding. It was like a little cheese money bag. Tied up and sitting pertly on top of a nest of cherry tomatoes with flat leaf parsley. It looked solid, but was strangely wobbly.

I cut into it and *bang*! Only what I can describe as a burata explosion. A gooey, runny cheese streamed out and pooled at the bottom on my plate like a little gourmet lake. Mild, fresh and just divine, it was like...fresh buffalo mozzarella, but runnier. (Duh, it's not plagiarism if a waiter was describing it!)



I've never tasted anything like it. I'm not a huge cheese fan, especially the stronger tasting cheese, but this was superb and mixed beautifully with the caprese salad.

The caprese salad was also divine. I mean, it's JUST tomatoes, but they were so super fresh, it wouldn't have surprised me if they had a little vegie patch out the back that they picked from and just threw onto the plate. A smattering of sea salt and some freshly picked herbs and it proves brilliant doesn't need to be fancy.

Great food. Great atmosphere. Great service. Great weather. Great Friday.

Bring on the weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bella - Walk?

How much does our dog Bella want to go for a walk?


Dreamworld



We went to Dreamworld the other day. I was about 8 years old when I first went to Dreamworld. I'd travelled down from Townsville to perform at an international dance festival at the Queensland Performaning Arts Complex and while we were there, my Dad took us down to the Gold Coast to visit the theme park.

At the time it was like NOTHING I'd ever seen, having come from a small regional town. Rollercoasters, rides, JUNK FOOD!! It was incredible. It was like what I thought Disneyland would be like if we had one in Australia. Good, clean family fun.

Thunder River Rapids Ride
I actually hate rides, well, the scary ones anyway. Particularly the ones that we have today. But at my first time at Dreamworld, we went into the Gold Rush Town, which had the "Rocky Hollow Log Ride" and "The Thunder River Rapids Ride". On the Log Ride you just kinda floated through a pretend old gold rush town on a fake looking, hollowed out log and then at the very end you go up an aqueduct really and plunge down the ramp at 50km/hour. On the Rapids ride, you sit in a giant tyre and basically go white water rafting.  They weren't really scary, but they were AWESOME!!!

Rocky Hollow Log Ride
Now, by today's standards they're pretty tame. You don't turn upside down, they're not very fast, the scenery is made out of concrete made to look like rocky mountains. Actually all pretty lame. But there's something so innocent and naive about theme park fun in the 80s, I still love it and I wanted Josh too as well.


Now Josh is a daredevil. He's gone on the Tower of Terror and seems to revel in being tossed upside down at a million miles an hour. Things that just make me cringe. So I really thought he would be like, "oh Mum you're sooo lame" when I wanted to go on the Rapids and the Log Ride with him.

But to my surprise, he wasn't.

He loved it too and we ended up going on each ride about 4 times...until the park closed. It made my heart smile just that little bit that Josh loved the simple things that I loved as a kid.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Outrageous or just outrage?


When I saw these stamps at Typo the other I thought they were hilarious. I actually LOL'd in the store.

Then I thought, wait a minute, there's kids in the store that see this...including mine. Don't they get exposed to enough profanities on TV and the movies and just general everyday life?

And then I felt like a prude. An old prude. But a responsible one.

And then I posted this photo of it.

It's time to put on make up...it's time to light the lights...



Believe it or not, I don't really like going to the movies. I find it very hard to sit still for 2 hours, especially if it's a drama or a movie I actually have to THINK about. I like comedies. I want to laugh and be entertained and escape from my normal dramatic life. I especially don't like paying $20 to be bored and/or depressed.

But, it's school holidays and after, well, 2 days, you tend to run out of things to do and there's always some sort of kid's movies released especially for these times. I actually LOVE kid's movies. Cartoons, Pixar, Dreamworks, Disney, all those movies I do love and usually end up getting on DVD.

So, in the past 2 weeks, we've seen THREE movies and they've all been AMAZING!!

First one was Tin Tin. I didn't read the books as a kid, so I didn't really know what it was about. But wow, the CGI was incredible, I found myself forgetting it was a cartoon. Storyline kept you on your seat and it was just good, clean family fun. Man I must be getting prudish in my old age...I find myself being rather offended at unecessary violence and profanities at the movies.

The next was Tower Heist. I'm not usually a Ben Stiller Fan, but this movie was hilarious and kept the pace going the whole time. Eddie Murphy is a scream and the gags kept coming so quickly you forgot the gaping holes in the storyline and major continuity issues.

Finally, we went and saw The Muppets. Ahhhh...the memories. If you were a kid of the 80s this just takes you back. I watching this when I was little but to see it now makes you realised and appreciate the true genius of Jim Henson.

So three in a row makes me one happy mummy during the school holidays. Oh, and love, love, love Cineplex for their $8.50 ticket prices and free parking!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

My son...


...still makes me laugh!

We miss you magic land!


We explored an AMAZING children's installation at GoMA called "we miss you magic land!" (yes, all in lowercase...I don't know why).



The artists had created a magical fantasy land with bright colours, magical mushrooms, hearts projected onto walls and other amazing creations apparently inspired by the mythology, children's stories and folktale. 

One of the installations...made from sugar!

My favourite part though, was the magical forest made from...sugar! Oh yeah baby, magical trees of marshmallow, crystal sugar volcanos, puddles of sweet icing sugar. It's the first time I've ever wanted to lick an exhibition!


I'm so jealous at how talented some artists are. The detail on this was incredible and it was a large exhibition so must have taken them hours, weeks, perhaps even months to do. There were installations hanging from the ceiling, behind glass, and intricately created on tables a little too close to little sticky fingers.  There was on section that had sand (or icing sugar, not sure) so carefully placed it was like a Tibetan Monk Sand Mandala...but someone with very little fingers had reached over and run three finger marks straight through it...obviously before the GoMA staff had time to stop them. I wonder how the artist feels about that?

It was so incredible it DID made me miss the magic and innocence of my childhood, where everything was happy, sweet and full of fun. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Home made sushi is the best!



I first took Josh to have sushi at a sushi train when he was about 3 years old and it's been his favourite food ever since. He would request it in his lunchbox at preschool and has been ever since...that's 7 years of sushi. That's a lot of sushi.

The only thing is, I HATE making it! Well, correction, hate the mess it makes. Rolling it by hand on those mats would get rice everywhere - up your arms, all over the bench, in your fingernails.


I've bought all the stupid gadgets to try and make it easier and FINALLY I've found one.

Behold! The Sushi Express. Super easy and no messy handrolling. See what I made for lunch?

Inspirations from Matisse



Kudos to the good folk at GoMA. We went to see the Matisse exhibition over the holidays and the place was absolutely packed. GoMA is only 5 years old, but we've been going to the cultural precinct, with the Art Gallery and Museum, for years. In that time I've never seen it so busy with so many people of so many different ages. It really was fantastic to see.

It was $20 entry to the Matisse: Drawing Life exhibition. I'm such a tight arse...I really think it should be less. That's not really affordable for families, and with the amount of people there I'm sure they would still be making a packet! For Josh and I to get in would be $30, but he decided to hang out with his mate Christopher in other parts of the gallery instead. (Another fabulous thing I love about GoMA is that teenage boys are happy to hang out with each other there...it's actually cool!)

There were over 300 works in this exhibition including sketches, paintings, drawings, illustrated books and photos. Some were simple while others were incredibly complex. I was blown away by the sheer volume of artwork he created -  On one painting alone he said he did over 3,000 sketches before finishing the final piece. I was also amazed by the breadth of his style. I always associated Matisse with the very simple line drawings, not the bright and beautiful watercolours as well. (Ooops, that was what he was famous for apparently!)

I think it was the largest exhibition I've seen and towards the end I got a bit...(dare I say)..bored? Which begs the question, is it quality over quantity?

Bernice and I commented to each other (in our quiet voices, so as not to offend the surrounding artsy folk) that some of the sketches...well...looked liked something that our kids had drawn in kindy. I kinda thought that the only reason it looked like art was because it was beautifully framed, with a quality matt, and was hanging in an art gallery with artful lighting. She said that the only difference really sometimes is that people have the balls to actually call it art! (She tells it like it is, my Bestie B).  



Having said this, they had a pretty cool interactive drawing room at the end of the exhibition, where you could create your own works while surrounded by a number of Matisse inspired environments. Easy I thought! Yeah, not so much. Turns out drawing kindy like pictures is actually kinda hard. This is the drawing I did of a vase of flowers. It was my best "Matisse". 

The exhibition was only a small part of our day at GoMA but it was definitely enjoyable and gave me a new appreciation for the difficulty of seemingly simple art. And...it's still my favourite place in South Bank.

Links



Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Brisbane floods...one year on



Exactly this time last year we had evacuated our home as the flood waters had begun to rise at the end of our street. Thinking we would be trapped in the house for perhaps days without electricity or food, we grabbed our laptops and photo albums and moved to Graham's to "wait it out".

My main worry was that the water "might" reach the floorboards and ruin the new rug my Mum had sent me. So we piled anything that was on the floor onto benchtops, beds and tables, and locked up thinking we would be back in a couple of days.

A year later and we're still not home. The floodwaters came to just below the ceiling. EVERYTHING that was left in the house was soaked with filthy, mucky floodwater with a smell I can't even begin to describe. The only thing to survive unscathed were my beautiful Christmas ornaments, which were stored in the highest cupboard in plastic sealed boxes.

But, despite not being back home, a year makes a huge difference. There's hardly any evidence of the flood in Brisbane (aside from a number of houses under renovation in flood areas), and most of the city's most famous landmarks have been restored.

One of those was the Cultural Centre in Southbank, where the State Library, Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Art Gallery and Museum are. Yesterday, my Bestie Bernice and I took all our kids to GoMA where we've been taking them for years. We were devasted when it was inundated by the floods, but it was restored lightning fast and reopened in just over a month.

While we were waiting for a table at the Gallery cafe on the ground floor for lunch, Josh laid out on grass near a Moreton Bay Fig in front of the very same river that had raged out of control with the fury of Mother Nature and drowned out the area. If he had been lying in that same spot on 12 January 2011, he would have been underwater and drowning in a brown, sticky toxic soup of sewerage and other muck. Rozumiem has recorded it here (at 24 secs).

Yesterday though, the spot was pristine, with gorgeous green grass and perfectly manicured gardens the way we've always loved it. The river calmly flowed downstream on its best behaviour with the beautiful Moreton Bay Fig clean and standing proudly on the banks.

The flood was something we will never forget and one year on we're still suffering the effects. But like the rest of Brisbane we're well on our way to recovery. The insurance has been settled and plans well underway for the rebuild so we can move back home.

Today I have mixed feelings of sadness for the lives that were lost, melancholy for the home and its contents that we'll never get back and frustration at the length of time it's taken for things to get back to normal. At the same time, I have overwhelming feelings of gratefulness for the friends, family and complete strangers who answered the call of help to clean out our flood damaged home, and a positive outlook for the year ahead, especially the opportunity for a brand new home just the way we wanted.

We don't have any plans to attend memorials or celebrate or anything like that, but we will reflect quietly on what has been a life changing event and incredible year.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

R2D2


This little Lego R2D2 sits on my desk. It amuses me. I don't know why. I think it belongs to Josh.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New beginnings



My insurance claim has finally been paid out. Almost a year ago to the day my house was completely inundated with filthy, mucky water, things finally look like they'll be able to move on.

This is my favourite photo of my son Josh and I, taken in a photo booth when he was about 6. My laptop wasn't damaged in the flood, and that had most of our photos on it from the past 10 years, but polaroids can't be replaced. This one went through the flood and did get damaged, but might have been saved being completely waterlogged because it was in a matt and a frame.

For the past year it's just been sitting, a bit bent and a bit marked, in a plastic sleeve in my in tray. I looked for frames but could never find one I liked. Then last week I saw the perfect one. A square silver frame with a white matt. Today I put it in a new frame. It sounds wierd, but it felt like a new beginning.

Click!

Good morning Bella!

This is our dog Bella. She's a purebred Whippet, almost 8 years old She follows us around and just sits near wherever we are. She likes almonds, fresh dates (???), Oreos and  cake.

The scar on her eye is from a fight with a possum. Those were from the days she would chase possums and eat my Italian shoes. These days she just sleeps a lot at our feet.

But we love her!

Deep fried goodness!


OK, with my new year's resolution of eating less deep fried stuff, less carbs, less dairy and less fat out the window, we indulged in what must be the most delightful Hungarian treat ever - Langos!!

Pretty much just deep fried dough topped with sweet chilli sauce, sour cream and cheese, it's everything you need for a coronary...and sooooo delicious.

I first tried these at the West End Markets, but I've noticed now they've also opened stalls at the Brisbane Markets and the Eagle Farm Markets.

Delightful!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Yum Cha Child


Ohhhhhh!! Cutest present ever! Baby clothes from Yum Cha Child presented in a sushi box. Love it! Spotted at the Valley Markets.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

San Choy Bow at home


We had San Choy Bow (mince in lettuce cups) at home tonight which I haven't made in YEARS!  So easy and so delicious. We used Quorn vegetarian mince with water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, shitake mushrooms and soy sauce.

Restaurant food at home! Yay!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Malteaster!




It's beginning to look a lot like...Easter!!

Hot cross buns and Easter eggs have hit the shelves just a couple of weeks after Christmas, including this divine little Malteaser bunny aptly named Malteaster. Ahahahaha! Someone had fun in the marketing department. So cute!!! And so delicious!

There's been a bit of press lately about all the early Easter merchandise in the store. Mums are in uproar because the kids are demanding that they buy them!

Hmmmm....guess what people - last time I checked NOTHING IN THE SUPERMARKET IS COMPULSORY TO BUY!! Here's a tip if your kids are whiney and demanding...

Say NO!

(Then go back when the kids aren't with you and buy one for yourself ;-P)

Nom! Nom! Nom! Nom! Nom! Nom! Nom! Nom!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Back to work...lunches



All the girls are back at work and that means back to work lunches. The first for 2012 was Tempura Vegetable and eggplant and with miso sauce sushi from Sushi Train.

Here's to another year of eating :-)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


We stopped at the new IGA in Greenslopes on the way home from dinner and there was this gorgeous flower stand...in the middle of a supermarket. Made me smile.

Loving Hut


Loving the Salt and Pepper Tofu from Loving Hut.

Just bought...

 

Just bought these from ASOS for $30 each. Bargain!

Sigh....so much for my New Year's Resolutions...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A fine hanky...


How gorgeous is this Armando Caruso handkerchief? Made from fine cotton, and beautifully designed, I saw it in a boutique at The Barracks and I just HAD to have it!

I've NEVER owned a hanky in my LIFE. The idea of blowing my nose into a cloth and then putting it back in your pocket grosses me out.

Never fear, I won't be using it to blow my nose. I think it will look cute as a head scarf.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year Photo!


Happy New Year Everyone!!

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year everyone!! I'd love to say that we partied long into the night...but the truth is we had been painting all day and were completely exhausted. I fell asleep at 11.45pm (trying to stay awake to at least watch it on tv) and woke up at 12.15pm when it was all over.

Oh well, it's a new year and I'm looking forward to this one. The house will be rebuilt, Josh starts high school, we have some trips planned and life in general looks good.

Wishing you all the best for 2012. xx