Friday, March 30, 2012

End of an Era

This week my Grandmother's home was sold. She had lived there since 1963 when her two children were in their 20s and all 5 of us grandchildren had spend many childhood days there.

My grandmother actually passed away in 2006 at the very ripe old age of 93 and hadn't lived in the home for since 2000 when she went into a nursing home, so it had actually been vacant for 12 years. My family had taken very good care of it though and most of her belongings were still there up until we cleaned it out last year.

It was a very simple house, 3 bedrooms, teeny bathroom and toilet off the back stairs, but my grandmother was very happy there. My Aunty told me it was the first home they had with running water. I used to play there when I was a child and I have memories of the most random things. I remember when I was about 4 and was staying there because I had chickenpox. She rubbed lemon leaves over the sores (??) and I drew a picture of a bird. That bird picture was still there when we cleaned out the house. It had been up on the wall for 21 years and had faded to almost nothing.

We're all feeling a little nostalgic about it all. We all remember the frog that lived in the red letterbox and the creaky gate that would booooingkkk when it shut, no doubt sending vibrations through the poor froggy. I'm not a sentimental person AT ALl when it comes to "stuff". I didn't shed a tear when everything we owned went under in the flood (although I was upset when I realised Josh's baby album and our home movies were damaged), but I'm finding myself strangely emotional about my grandmother's house and a little lost as to how I might be able to preserve some of the memories.

There is something that I've been thinking of doing, but haven't yet raised with my Dad and Aunty. All of my grandmother's belongings are in storage, none has been distributed out or sold and she had an original, mid century lounge suite in the style of Hans Wenger. The upholstory wouldn't suit the style of decor I'm planning, but it could be restored and reupholstered.

It's hard to tell from this pic, but there is a 3 seater lounge on the left, covered in a sheet on the very right hand corner is the arm of one of two single chairs. I would like to use a more modern fabric with a retro pattern on it, or perhaps just a plain black or navy colour and decorate with patterned cushions.

It would look something like this once restored.

Anyway, that's my thought at the moment, and not something I can really do until I get the new house built, so I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


My Bestie Bernice had this made for me for Christmas a few years ago. I wore it today. It made me smile. I have the most awesomest friends.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Local Discoveries

We made a fabulous discovery on the weekend. The Colmslie Beach Reserve. How often do you discover that some of the most fantastic places are ones that have been on your doorstep for years? I can still claim newbie status because I've only been here for about 12 months, but Graham has lived in this area for over 10 years.

There's a gorgeous park with an "octopus" and "fish" and flying fox. Great for families. We spent most of the time on the beach though, which really is just a tiny strip of sand near some mangroves overlooking the Port of Brisbane.  We did old fashion things like skimming rocks, exploring under the mangroves and sitting in the sand and letting the tide wash over our feet.

These are the things we did as kids. Before gameboys, XBoxes, the internet. Sometimes I forget to take time out and just enjoy the simple things.  Enjoying the sound of silence. Enjoying the crackle of leaves beneath your feet. Finding old coins in the water. Being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

There was beauty everywhere.

And icons of familiarity.

I'm going to try and take more notice of the things around me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Homes of the Past

I was going through my old photo albums (actual albums, from before the digital age) looking for some pics of my previous houses for my new house blog, and I got a little nostalgic.

First Home

Our first home was in Doncaster East in Melbourne. A charming little clinker brick house with a big maple tree and cottage garden of weeping roses and hydrangeas. It had beautiful polished hardwood floors, bay windows, a fireplace and and country kitchen. Josh was only a year old and loved playing in the front garden, which, of course, had a white picket fence. It was straight out of a storybook, in a lovely old green, leafy suburb. It was the most perfect house for a young family and a toddler and we eventually sold it to same type of family with young children.

Second Home

Neighbourhood children gathering in front of our house before Halloween trick or treat

Our second home was in Sherwood in Brisbane, when we moved back to be closer to family. It was a replica Queenslander, with a cute sunny front deck and large deck at the back overlooking the garden.

Sherwood is a fantastic neighbourhood and I'm really happy that Josh grew up there and spent most of his primary school years there. The house was lovely, not fabulously built being a replica, but sunny and airy. I had my 30th birthday party there.

Third Home

This was our third house, before it was flooded. It was an adorable little post war house, beautifully renovated and just the perfect, cosy size for us. We only had it for a year before it was flooded, but we have good memories there. My parents came to stay, my friends came to stay and we had parties and get togethers. I'd also started planting masses of magnolias and gardenias for my white fragrant garden.

That's all gone now and we're ready for our next house adventure. Same address, different house. Can't wait.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Burger Night

I don't know what Graham is doing. I guess that chip is REALLY good.
My son spends a little over half the time with me and then the rest with his Dad. On the first night he comes back home we celebrate with Burger Night. Home made burgers with vegetarian meat patties, cheese, beetroot, avocado, tomato, lettuce mushrooms and onion with tomato relish. Served on a cibatta roll with a side of fries. It's our tradition. I let the boys eat in front of the TV, instead of the table.

Tonight was burger night. It's good to have him home.

The Perfect Cup at Hamptons

The most perfect cup of coffee at Hamptons Home Living yesterday in Paddington. Perfect taste, perfect crema, perfect coffee art, perfect duck egg blue cup.

I love this place!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Off the wagon

Sigh, ASOS was having a sale and so once again I find myself off the online shopping wagon. Spending hours online looking at dresses and making excuses for buying more clothes. Worse still I bought clothes similar to ones I already had.

They were soo cheap though!

Little Black Dress
It IS different!
Love this colour

Yes, I bought two. But they were only $17.

Movenpick Tasting Plate

Tasting platter at Movenpick. No words required.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Famous Manx Breakfast for Two

Graham and I enjoyed the "Famous Manx Breakfast for Two" at Restaurant Manx down at Portside in Hamilton on the weekend. Poached eggs, cibatta, tomatoes, home made baked beans, spinach, hash browns (and normally bacon and sausages, but we omitted those) served on a cast iron pan.

Ohhh it was delicious! And on the wharf as the Dawn Princess was in port. I bought the breakfast with one of those group vouchers which also came with freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee or tea. Normally all that would have been $58, but with the voucher it was $22. Bargain I say.

Graham went very strange and pale when he had to hand over the voucher. He said it was embarrassing and such an upmarket restaurant shouldn't need to do such a deal.

I disagree. A lot.

Everyone loves a bargain and this is a classic loss leader. I love eating out, but I'd baulk at paying $58 for a breakfast for two unless I knew it was worth it.  Now that I know the food is good, the portions are decent and the service is good and not snooty, I'd definitely go back. I think that's their philosophy, it's exposing them to a customer base that COULD be return customers if they'd tried it before.

Pretty much everyone that was there was having the same thing, which meant they'd all bought vouchers. There was no shame. In fact, I think it was win win.

So here, here to group vouchers!

A day in the garden

I can't remember when I started loving gardening. My Mum loves gardening and was always outdoors in her spare time when we were growing up. I remember growing marigolds and carrots in my own little corner garden when I was little, but I certainly wasn't what you would call a green thumb.

I think my love may have started when we bought our first place in East Doncaster in Melbourne in 2000. I finally had a garden that I could create a little paradise. Our place was a gorgeous little clinker brick house with a little cottage garden. The owners before us had planted roses and hydrangeas and there was a beautiful big tree in the front garden.

I managed to steal a few hours in the garden this weekend. Nothing major, just some weeding, mulching and moving a few plants. It was soothing and satisfying though. I had time to actually sit in the garden and notice all the little things, like this mushroom growing in the undergrowth.

I was also going to pull out this vine, which I thought was a weed, but think it may be a passionfruit?

It was such a pleasant few hours. It was overcast, so not too hot and just as I finished it started to rain. The perfect gardening morning.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Duran Duran Concert

We went to a Duran Duran concert last night. For Gen Ys, Duran Duran was a massively popular band in the 80s. For the over 40s, OMG we went to see a Duran Duran concert last night!!

Duran Duran were just a teeny bit before my time, but I was happy to go because they were one of Graham's favourite bands. To be honest  I was expecting ageing rockers way beyond their prime either touring because they'd run out of money or they had a greatest hits album coming out.

But...they were AWESOME! They rocked the place down and I can see what all the hype was about Simo Le Bon's voice, it was AMAZING!

And the crowd was insane!! I've never seen such an enthusiastic bunch. They're roar even when a roadie came on stage to change a microphone. Crazy nutters! I only knew about 3 songs, but I was up and dancing in my seat by the end.

The stage set up wasn't too elaborate, they started on time, they seemed to genuinely enjoy performing and there wasn't too much synthesising, which I think is great. And even though they DID have a new album coming out, they only played a couple of new ones and mostly all their hits, which is what the audience wanted. Awesome concert, and awesome night.

On a final and somewhat unrelated note, how bad and expensive is concert food? This was vegetable lasagne with veggies. Although the lasagne looks the worst it actually was quite nice. The veggies were frozen (the carrot was actually still a bit frozen!) but the roast potatoes weren't too bad. But it was $30!!! Oh well, you kinda expect that.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bring on Winter

I had the craziest day at work today. I wrote four press releases, updated three blogs, had one meeting and three conference calls. And worst of all, I didn't have lunch until after 2.00pm and I had that sitting at my desk. I basically wrote for seven hours straight and my office doesn't have a window.

When I finally did leave the office it was wet and raining and it started to feel like Winter. I looove Winter! It's my favourite season. It made me crave soup! So tonight I made chicken and corn soup with those crusty bread rolls you cook in the oven yourself. Soo delicious.

It was exactly what I wanted. Ohhhh bring on Winter!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Renovation - The Downstairs Study

No, you're not in an interior design nightmare. This was the study after we took all the furniture out, but before we renovated it. The lovely apricot, peach and soft mint colour scheme was throughout the home. The mint carpet had first been installed in the early 90s and definitely seen better days. Stained and always slightly smelly, pretty much everything in this room I was happy to get rid of.

We pulled up the nasty carpet and painted the walls a Dulux "Vivid White". It was indeed very vivid and I worried about how stark it might look.  I needn't had worried thoughts as we laid laminate floorboards in a warm shade and once we put all the furniture back it actually looked quite cosy.

We decided to turn this room into the guest room and move the office into the larger bedroom next door. It was a good move. The office is much more spacious than this room, which is the  perfect size for guests. 

We're ecstatic with the results of this room reno. It's simple clean and a million percent (yes, that's 100,000,000%) better than before.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dinner at Tea Master

Sticky Rice Cup - $4.50

Dumplings - $5.90

Why does my kid have to pull a face every time a camera is
pointed at him? I have no idea who he gets it from.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Home Show Deal Breaker

Awesome retro Smeg Fridge

I dragged took Graham to the Courier Mail Home Show today. After just a few minutes I came to realise that Home Shows can be a deal breaker for some couples. Everyone has their own strategy and plan of attack. Mine is to float around from stand to stand, going to whatever catches my eye, wherever that may be. It's casual and fun.

Graham is an anal retentive. He has to have pattern, up and down each aisle so nothing is missed and nothing is doubled up.

This really doesn't work for me.

A couple of times we needed to just concede that we had different ways of doing Home Shows and went our separate ways. We always came back together 10 minutes later, but it left me wondering whether at this point it became a deal breaker for other couples.

The Home Show was great though for new ideas for the house. I got some really good prices for flooring, which is the main reason I went. I'd rung around before and the best I could do was $79/m2, but at the Home Show they were offering $63/m2. I'm looking at engineered timber flooring in Spotted Gum or Blue Gum.

We looked at and tried 3 different types of coffee machines, so after 3 hours I'd had 3 shots of coffee and half a can of Mother. I was buzzing. It was time to go home.

Sauce Everything

Why do guys have to drown everything in tomato sauce? I made this for dinner last night. Corn fritters with creme fraiche, topped with avocado, semi dried tomatoes and spanish onion salsa. It was delicious (if I do say so myself), but before he even TRIED it, Graham drowned it in tomato sauce.


I think tomato sauce is only good on chips. It DEFINITELY doesn't belong on creme fraiche and definitely shouldn't be added until said dish is tasted first. Same with salt.

I did a small Facebook poll and indeed it is guys who seems to be the main culprit.

Please explain.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

War on Ants!

Honey and Borax Trap

I like to think I can tolerate most things, but one thing I can't handle is ants. Specifically ants in the kitchen.

They are, without a doubt, the most single minded insect I've ever come across. It's at a point where you leave a butter knife out for breakfast and by the time you've finished your toast there's a parade of the little suckers taking the rest of your Vegemite back to their nest.

I've tried everything non death related - cinnamon, baby powder, cloves, but they keep coming back. In fact they're now so casual about who owns the kitchen they don't even need a food source to be left out, they're just happy to saunter across the benchtops to wherever it is they're going. It's driving me crazy!! And I've been bitten a number of times.

Time to bring out the big guns.

According to google, mixing honey and borax seems to do the trick. I did this in a take away container and left it on the bench.

Firstly there were a few. Then a few more. And then millions! At the edge of sweet, sweet water there were ants piling over each other to get to it and falling in.

Then there were a few less, and a few less more until they were all gone and I haven't seen them since. I don't miss them. But I feel a bit bad.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dumpling Fix

Yeeeaah Friday!!! What a week! I think I wrote a thousand press releases and home profiles this week (disclaimer - may not have happened) and I'm wrecked. Lucky for me Friday is lunch day with the girls.

And a great way to start the weekend, my favourite dumpling bar, Happy Little Dumplings, had chinese vegetable & mushroom dumplings in stock. Everytime I've been there, the only vegetarian option they've had were the tofu & ginger dumplings, which are awesome, but I did want to try something different.

And with chilli sauce they were DIVINE!! Dumpling fix sorted. AND they're opening a permanent dumpling bar further up Oxford Street soon. Yay!

Jolly Simple

This is Jolly, the little snack bar around the corner from work. I don't think it's changed much since the 1960s with its fibro exterior and house out the back. It's in Bulimba, an old Brisbane suburb which is largely known for being expensive, but we work on very edge which is largely industrial. Jolly is in a random street in that area, with little signage or fanfare.

You might have noticed, I like my food. A lot. But it doesn't matter how cheap or how expensive it is, what I really appreciated are simple, fresh flavours and food made with care. This little place makes the BEST sandwiches. And they make it s-l-o-w-l-y, with care so that each ingredient is perfectly placed on top of the last with precision. Sometimes when I'm starving or on a deadline, I don't really appreciate that, but today I had time to stop and think.

The work girls and I found ourselves in an almost empty office today, with everyone out at a function, so rather than eat in which we normally do during the week or go somewhere fancy, like we do on Fridays, we just walked around the corner to Jolly. My salad sandwich on wholemeal with cheese was $4.50 and piled high with salad on the freshest, fluffiest bread. Simple and delicious. The other girls had simple fillings too - ham and cheese and chicken.

Kinda looks flat here...but it wasn't!
Instead of going back to the office, we sat on their chairs and tables outside in the beautiful sunshine and fresh air, with an endless parade of customers streaming in and out of the snack bar constantly.

Now here's a place that really is in the middle of nowhere with no advertising and hardly any parking. Yet there's a lunchtime rush. I'm putting it down to honest, simple, fresh food, good service, lovely people, super clean environment and prepared with care. I love that.