Sunday, April 29, 2012

Treats at the Library Cafe


Who'd have thought the treats at a cafe in a library would be sooo good?

A gig in the Valley


Last night we went to our mate Chris' gig at Basement 243. His band We Are Million were awesome! The venue was intimate and it was a nice crowd. It's been a looooong time since I've been to a gig in the valley, in fact, I'm pretty sure last time I went you were still allowed to smoke inside. Going to a smoke free gig was so much more enjoyable.

I'm continually amazed by the talent amongst my friends. If they're work friends I guess I only ever think of them in their work element and it's great to see them doing other things they are passionate and talented at.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Chicken Soup for the Soul


My poor bestie Bernice has been battling the flu for the past couple of weeks and she just hasn't been able to shake it. Between 3 kids, work and an autoimmune disease her poor body just hasn't been able to make a full recovery and the cough and fever just lingers.

We've had this before and my solution is always Vietnamese chicken noodle soup (pho) LOADED with chilli. And I mean LOADED. It might be an old wives tale but I swear it works.

We were both sans children this weekend, very rare, and the most perfect time to take her off to Trangs in West End for pho. As you can see, she loaded it with chilli, sending her body temperature soaring and (hopefully) killing off any of those nasty lingering flu bugs.

I'm not sick at the moment (touch wood) but I've been going through a lot lately and she's my chicken soup (not literally, obviously). I can vent, cry, laugh whatever and afterwards I always feel better.

Chicken soup for the soul ;-P

PS: Trangs at West End has awesome chicken pho and they do a vegetarian version as well.

Trangs
59 Hardgrave Road, West End

Friday, April 27, 2012

Return to Toowong


I had lunch in Toowong with a friend today and it was tinged with a touch of nostalgia.

Just around the corner, in Jephson Street, was my first home away from home. It was 18 years ago (I can hear you calculating now...) and I'd moved from Townsville to Brisbane to go to uni.

I lived in a local college here for 2 years and had an awesome time, just as a free spirited student's life should be. I made fantastic friends who are still my besties today. Toowong will always be a special place for me.

But I digress.



Just around the corner from my old college is Corner Street Cafe, an adorable  Queenslander that's been converted into a cafe. It wasn't there when I was at uni and even if it was I probably wouldn't have gone. As a poor (but happy) student we lived on terrible college food and the local maccas.


I had the falefal pita with hommus, tabouli, tomato relish, grated carrot and grated beetroot and jalepenos presented on chopping board. Not flavours I would have put together but ohhh so delicious and filling I couldn't finish it!

I still love catching up with friends over lunch, like I did around the corner in the 90s, but the cuisine has changed somewhat...definitely for the better I think.


Corner Street Cafe
113 Sylvan Road, Toowong
www.cornerstorecafe.com


Thursday, April 26, 2012

BRRRRRisbane!


It's a chilly night in Bris-Vegas! Time to break out the Little Miss Naughty PJs and flannelette booties, sit on the couch and enjoy the toastiness.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Glasshouse at Westfield Carindale


Dining is getting better and better in Brisbane and this excites me! Even local shopping centres are lifting their game. I checked out the new "Glasshouse" at Westfield Carindale - a casual, alfresco like dining precinct. One word - FAAABULOUS! Love all the open style restaurants and cafes. Toscanis, Ginga, Sushi Sushi, Aegean Grill, Movenpick, Grill'd and Wagamama.


I had sushi at Ginga. I LOOOVE the one at South Bank. I think it's a little more expensive, but it's always fresh and I love watching it go around on those little trains.

I love these seaweed sushis. Is it sea kelp? Could I make it myself from that same stuff that washes up on the beach? Probably not.

Westfield Carindale
1152 Creek Road, Carindale

ASOS Love

I've been so good with my Asos addiction lately. Not only have I not bought anything, I haven't really even been on the site. I'm trying to save a bit for when the house is built and I need to furnish it.

I did have a sneaky peak tonight though, but I'm staying strong (unless they have one of their 20% off everything sales again).

Here's what I love, love love!






Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bella on a Saturday Night


This is our dog Bella. I'm not really a dog person, I kind of ended up with her by default. But she's won my heart for just being the sweetest, most loyal dog ever. She follows me around the house, outside, basically anywhere I go. I trip over her a LOT because she skulks up behind me and just lies at my feet...like this.

It's really lovely.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Macaroongasm


I've always hated macaroons. They're chewy, dry and taste like old egg so I could never understand why everyone raved about them.

But then my cousin gave me these for my birthday and OH...MY...GOD, I figured this is what everyone goes gaga over. They were light, slightly sweet biscuits of air filled with delicious fillings like passionfruit custard and peanut butter.

I think I had a macaroongasm.

I think I must have had a bad macaroon experience either for my first time or when I was younger because it turned me off for years. It's just lucky these have shown me how AMAZING they can be...if they're made right.

These were from French Patisserie at Toowong and according to my foodie cousin, these are the best. I agree.


French Patisserie
Cat & Fiddle Centre
Shop 1/9 Morley St,Toowong
Ph: (07) 3371 8996
http://frenchpatisserie.com.au



Cute Birthday Presents


I might be *well* into my 30s, but I still get super cute presents for my birthday. This birthday card stands up with the card in it's mouth? So, so cute sitting at our breakfast table!



Russian Doll measuring cups. Cuuuute!! And match the Russian Doll measuring spoons I have!



Princess luggage tag. Cuuuute! Love them all!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!


Yesterday was my birthday so time to reflect on where life is at as another year has passed. For those of you who don't like reading cheese, close this window now!

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OK, you're still here.

So I came home from dinner last night and felt a real sense of inner peace. Just for a few hours.  I thought about today, and last week, and last year and all the birthdays I've had over the years and I thought about the things I am grateful for, for this birthday. So here goes.

This birthday, I am:

  • Grateful that I have a healthy and happy(ish) teenage son who played and sang me Happy Birthday on his guitar.
  • Grateful my early-to-bed Mum stayed up until midnight to be the first to wish me Happy Birthday on Facebook and email. (and while we're here, grateful my Mum is even ON Facebook and email)
  • Grateful my night owl Dad got up early to wish me a happy birthday via text (and while we're here, grateful my Dad now HAS a mobile AND can text!)
  • Grateful that my Bestie who was as sick as a dog with the flu still dragged herself out of bed to come out to dinner.
  • Grateful that my other Bestie tried to get down from the Gold Coast for dinner (she got caught in traffic though and didn't make it in time).
  • Grateful that I have a job I like with people I like who took me to breakfast at one of my favourite cafes.
  • Grateful for all the lovely messages, texts, cards, pressies from loved ones.
  • Grateful I've made it to this age without any health problems or major tragedies.


So there you go. My inner peace session only lasted a few hours, then I shot back to reality with how messy the house was, the deadlines looming for work tomorrow and just general life. But for just a time, I was grateful and nothing else, and I'm glad I've written it down.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Baaaa! Black Sheep Coffee


Random place to get an unbelievably good coffee - Black Sheep Coffee at the Rocklea Markets.

I've actually been going to the markets for years, they used to use Merlo which is also awesome, but recently they've switched to Black Sheep.

And I'm loving it!

Black Sheep Coffee
http://blacksheepcoffee.net.au/

Happy Little Dumplings


Ohhhh my favourite dumpling place has opened a new dumpling bar in Bulimba!! Soo excited! The girls and I lined up on their opening day and there were loads of people. A line up out the door. It makes me so happy when people follow their passion and these girls are obviously passionate about dumplings. (Which is good because I'm passionate about eating.)


I had the ginger & tofu dumplings and mushroom & vegetable dumplings with chilli sauce and jasmine tea. DEEEELICIOUS!! Loving the astro turf they have out the front with a few tables and chairs. AND they were having an opening special - $1 dumplings. 7 wasn't enough for me...


It was a glorious, glorious Autumn day in Brissie, look how happy it made me! It's my new profile pic.

Happy Little Dumplings
Cnr Princess & Oxford Streets, Bulimba
http://littledumplings.com.au/

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Homecoming Present


We're back!! NZ was awesome but it's nice to be home. Graham made me a homecoming present.

It's a compost bin!

No, it's not one of those situations where he made something he really wanted for himself, I've been wanting one for ages, and this one is AMAZING!  No crappy, knocked up from pine one, no sir-ee, this is the deluxe super sized, king version of compost bins.

Graham is so talented. No plans or google, he made this from scratch, by hand with just my ramblings of how it should look and work. And he did it perfectly!

It's made from recycled hardwood, with a top that fully opens out as well as a smaller lid. The slats are just wide enough to aerate the contents, but not too wide as to let the possums in. The  bottom has two openings to get out the fully decomposed compost and the whole thing is double bolted and hinged.


He made it on the back deck (for presentation) but we moved it to its permanent spot up the backyard behind a tree. He designed it to be modular because it was so heavy it had to be moved in pieces. It's already a quarter full. I raked up all the leaves from the giant mango tree in the backyard, tore up all the old newspapers in the house and emptied out the fridge.

I'm so excited about all the lovely, mulchy compost that will come from this - is that weird?

I love it though, it's the best present ever!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Farewell NZ


Thanks for having us! It's been real! xx

Final NZ Hurrah


Nothing like going out with a bang! For our last day in New Zealand we went white water rafting down the Tongariro River. It was BRILLIANT! The day was absolutely gorgeous and the river flowing just fast enough to make the rapids a little scary.

We looked like a boxed set of Boba Fetts being tossed down a raging river and that's pretty much how it felt. Our guide would shout instructions for us, but it's when he yelled "Hold On" you know you were in for a rough ride.

During the calmer parts of the ride though, I just looked around and drank in the beautiful scenery. We were travelling through the deepest part of a rainforest gorge, on what was once a volcano. When the waters were calm they were crystal clear and you could see fish dart past. It was breathtaking.




Another one ticked off the bucket list!


Luge


Careening down a mountain on a three wheel cart with your kid is...crazy but awesome! I've done so many things on holiday I would never do. It's kind of liberating. I *might* even have become a cool mum...the jury is out.




Friday, April 13, 2012

The holiday pose

One thing I learned during our holiday is you can't take a decent photo of a teenager without him pulling a face. Why is that?








I have no idea where he gets that from...


It's not the destination but the journey


"It's not the destination by the journey." Such a cliche, but sometimes true. We hired a car to go to Rotorua, some 3 hours from Napier, to see the geothermal springs and ride the luge down Mount Ngongotaha. It was an overcast day and scenery was breathtaking. Rolling green hills, trickling creeks, forest pines, mist covered mountains and lots and lots of sheep.

We listened to New Zealand radio and enjoyed a fairly easy drive inland. Then...crack!


A passing car kicked up a stone which cracked our windscreen. It was a little frightening, but after the initial shock came the relief. Luckily for us we'd taken out the $4 windscreen premium, at the insistence of the man we hired the car from. He'd driven to Rotorua himself the day before and said the roadworks were creating lots of loose stones. One thing I've never skimped on is insurance, which was very lucky during the floods, but this was by far the best investment. The $4 premium saved us the $400 windscreen replacement cost.

Sweet.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Swimming with Sharks


Yep, you read right. We swam...with sharks!! And it was awesome! We had complimentary tickets to "Swim with Sharks" at the National Aquarium of New Zealand, where you could snorkel in their main tank with seven gill sharks, reef sharks and sting rays.


I would have thought that I would have jumped at the chance to do this, but I hesitated...a lot. And here's the things that were running through my head.

Selfish, crazy Karina, who still thinks she's in her 20s without any responsibilities, wanted to jump straight into the tank, camera in hand and take on the sharks. But she was stopped by Mummy Karina, who was petrified something would happen to her son. I mean, they were SHARKS! But in the end, we came to a happy medium and we did the swim but I kept Josh VERY close.

The Reef Shark

The Sting Rays

It was all very cool. The sharks were pretty docile and didn't really bother us, but it was pretty wild to have them swim past you so close. The water was pretty cold, but the wetsuits kept us warm and 30 minutes went really quickly. It was great for Josh too, another opportunity to do something out of the ordinary, not in front of the computer.

In the end it all worked out perfectly, we came out with all our fingers and toes and another think ticked off the bucket list.




Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The street sign mystery



I thought these mosaic street signs in the footpaths in Napier were a nice touch. I wasn't sure how old they were, they could have been part of the reconstruction after the earthquake in the 1930s, or they could have been a more recent addition, created to be sympathetic to the art deco style of the town.

We found out on our art deco tour that they were part of the reconstruction...sort of. When they rebuilt the town, they widened the streets and all the buildings had cantelevered awnings of the same height. All the electricity cables were built underground, so without poles in the streets, the town had a very streamlined, very modern look of the time.

The only con to this was...there were no poles to put the street signs on. So they put them in the path. Which isn't very useful when you're driving...but an authentic art deco touch I think.

You can get so much more information from a local.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Biking around Napier


Napier turned on an absolutely glorious day, the sun was shining with a very slight sea breeze so we decided to hire bikes and do a tour around the outer parts of Napier. They've built a fantastic bike track which goes all along the shoreline to the far north and south to Cape Kidnappers.

Whoever coined the phrase "you never forget how to ride a bike" has obviously never met me. I am possibly the most uncoordinated klutz on the planet (despite being a dancer for 12 years). I was very wobbly and all over the shop when I first got on prompting cries of "oh Mum you're suck a dork" from Josh. But it did come back to me...eventually.

I get now why people love biking. The fresh air, the freedom, the exercise. Stopping when you see something and then just jumping on your bike and going when you're sick of it. Good old fashioned family time.

We rode up to West Quay, which is the "trendy" area of Napier, overlooking the harbour where all the old industrial warehouses and woolsheds have been converted into trendy bars, cafes and restaurants.



We had brunch at The Thirsty Whale, apparently THE place to go. It was pretty awesome. The interior had high ceilings and fireplaces, timber bar and walls and everyone seemed to be in a holiday mood. It overlooked Ahuriri Marina and surrounded by old fishermen cottages, art deco buildings and old sheds.


I had the veggie breakfast - poached eggs and grilled portobello mushrooms and spinach on English muffins with roasted tomato and hollandaise sauce. Ohhh, it was divine. Josh has eggs on toast and he said whatever the bread was it was the best he'd ever had.


We rode our bikes for four hours. FOUR HOURS! My legs are so, so sore. But it was awesome to see the town that way and to spend time with Josh outdoors. Tomorrow...white water rafting!!!