Monday, July 21, 2014

The adventures of Neil

On Sunday night, I snapped this silly photo of Neil - a pom pom with eyes - out on the town and sent it to my sister, who'd given me the pom pom creature earlier that day. After a jam packed day of hanging out with friends and family, we snuck over the Spit bridge to Manly, to check out Papi Chulo.

It was probably a bit bold to book dinner at a BBQ joint immediately after attending a baby shower BBQ but we were determined. We shared a spicy fish burger (by the sea!), some smokey lamb ribs which were deliciously sticky, and at the recommendation of Lee Tran Lam, we ordered the roast cauliflower with mounds of parmesan and a tangy red sauce.

But we're getting off topic, back to Neil. I spied the pom pom creature sitting on a bookshelf at my sister's place, and after admiring it multiple times, Carla decided I should take it home. She'd made and named Neil while she was babysitting for a friend, and attempting some craft with her two young charges.

We were over for a scone breakfast (mini scones!), and to play with niece who is growing up so quickly.

Aunty Nya Nya's phone case is surprise hit with this one.

Here's Neil getting his caffeine hit before we headed home. Two photos makes a series, right? And soon I was looking for new locations to snap a photo of Neil so I could send my sister a running photo diary. 

I recently order Lee Tran Lam's Sydney food zine and kept it in my bag for our weekend visit. It was so handy - it's arranged in suburbs so after we decided to make an impromptu visit to Surry Hills to look at stationary and CDs, I found us a cafe for breakfast. Here's my delicious shroom bun from Cowbell808, it was so good!

I texted my Carla this pic from Sutton Forest, our designated driver change over spot. No cheeseburgers or fries were eaten (here's why).

And then a lunch stop, some pretty views before we finally made it home. That marked the end of my silly day-and-a-half Amelie inspired project.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A plane, a niece and some serious cake planning

Hello, get ready for lots of photos! We've just come back from a week in Sydney. Tony actually went ahead of me to enter a few paintings into prizes. We'd strategically timed our mini break so that we could go to a fancy wedding tasting and do some wedding planning - we have less than 2 months to go! 

On my first full day in town, we managed a very late lunch at Pinbone, which I have been dying to try. At 2pm it was nice and quiet, and we sat upstairs and shared a chicken burger that was accompanied by a generous mass of delicious salty fries. Sharing meals means you get to eat more often and at different places = win!

My favourite thing to do in Sydney is visit my sister and her gorgeous baby. My niece is going to be a month shy of 1 at the wedding, so we've been bold and asked her to be the flowergirl. It's been really fun shopping for her outfit! My sister-in-law helped me pick out some silly cat shoes and cardigan for her. I spent two full days with my sister, brother-in-law and their little girl. We went to the park, caught up with our grandparents at a nearby cafe and ate cupcakes while the little one napped.

This is my favourite photo from the whole week! My niece has so many kisses for her mum. She also started saying Nya Nya last week, which I'm told is a new thing. It was promptly decided that she was saying Sonya! She did say it a lot when I was around, and I am very happy to be Aunty Nya Nya. My sister reckons it's her third word, after Mama and Dada. Aunty success!

We had a very important cake meeting on Thursday morning. It was very exciting. There are going to be many cakes that look pretty inside and out.

A long lunch in Rosbery with Tony and my friend Sean. We originally tried to go to the Grounds of Alexandria but were scared off by the traffic and super long line. We ate at Kitchen By Mike instead and it was so yummy! Everyone had pine-lime sodas from tiny bottles and I had a delicious beef massaman curry with saffron rice and salad. 

This was an epic eating day, being our last full day in town. There are pancakes under all of that sauce! 

Cake at Flour and Stone! A note for young players - you can actually pre-order their lamingtons, even in small quantities. We did not know this and the famous lamos were sold out by the time we got there. And because we were staying with Tony's parents in Mosman, we made a stop at our favourite cupcake shop, which happens to be just around the corner from their house. Hurray!

A movie at the Hayden Oppheum picture palace on our last night - we watched The Trip in Italy and I loved the art deco cinema, and the attendants who wore black bow-ties and burgundy vests.

A lucky last cooked brekkie before the long drive home. I jumped out at the Jugiong scenic lookout to snap this photo - it was so cold that Tony stayed in the car.

And two more photos with my favourite girls. Look at that little smile! Melts my heart.

Hope you're well!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Stories from home

A shot from the weekend, before all of the citrus disappeared (well the lemons and limes anyway). Who knew Winter could be so colourful?

My brother and his wife brought some excellent stories from Sydney on their recent trip, silly stories and family stories, including an account of their recent outing to a big family dinner where the group ordered a 2 metre pizza. I wanted to know more and they showed me panoramic photographs snapped on a phone to satisfy my curiosity. The pizzas came served on custom made boards with handles at both ends, they said, and every time one left the kitchen, resting on the shoulders of two male staff members, it was announced. "Two metre pizza!"

I laughed and felt like I had been there. Before the dinner, they'd been to a book launch and reading that included some stories from our aunt. One of the writers read a story her obsession with Singaporean mud crab, which she'd consumed all over Sydney and overseas, and it was a story that hinted at an obsessive yet sometimes invisible illness.

Their stories made me feel a little homesick. They may have been stories about pizzas and crabs but they were exactly the kind of stories that I wanted to hear - funny, unusual and silly stories from home.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

an excellent weekend

It may be Tuesday but I am still energised from the long weekend. My brother and his wife came to stay for a night, and we talked and ate non-stop. It was so exciting to have our house full for a night. They arrived in Wagga Wagga just in time for our weekly Skype session with my baby niece. We took turns trying to entertain her and chat to my sister, and all crammed behind the computer to completely bamboozle her at one point. She's very good at sitting up on her own now and has developed a strong interest in typing.

We cooked up a three course meal for our guests on Sunday night, and made everything from two Nigel Slater cookbooks, we're obsessed! Tony made tomato and basil shell pasta and the most delicious rib eye steaks for dinner with a special miso butter sauce. I made a fennel and parmesan salad and a lime tart, using Kristy's homegrown and surprisingly yellow limes.

There was just enough time for a walk into town on Monday morning and four bowls of muesli before Derrick and Chris had to go home. I wish they could've stayed a little longer! They left determined to stop for meat pies in Jugiong, and with some leftover lime tart stashed in their bag to accompany them on the long drive home.

And then it was time to work on a novelty cake for Sophie's birthday. I have been waiting to make her this cake for months and am so proud of myself for not spoiling the surprise. I made a fairy bread shaped lemon butter cake, which had an excellent cake to icing ratio. I had very good luck (or maybe lots of patience) and made the best batch of buttercream. I also got hundreds and thousands all over the kitchen but it was worth it.

Here are a few outgoing and incoming presents. This box of chocolates is keeping us company now us guests have left. They're beautiful.

Sophie had a Winter picnic in her backyard with the yummiest salads, a bonfire (I've never been to a bonfire before!) and ping pong table. It was the best way to end a long weekend.

This week we are getting ready to post our wedding invitations (we're less than 3 months out!) and I'm editing a video story at work that I am really excited about. 
Beyond the Internet, I am listening to the excellent Winter, Again mix from Finetooth Radio (which is my brother's radio show) and catching up on the Radio Yak series on Radio National. I haven't read or finished a book for a very long time but am excited about starting 'The Dealer is the Devil', which tracks the history of the Aboriginal art market in Australia and I am waiting for Lee Tran Lam's latest zine to arrive in my mailbox any day now. And we have watched two great films lately, an art documentary called Cutie and the Boxer (which I felt slightly uneasy watching but kept thinking about days afterwards) and an Italian film called The Great Beauty, which made excellent use of music.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mish mash

I've been busy - making apple pies with smiley faces and a 'Mount Everest' lasagne from scratch (noodles and everything and boy was it worth it!). I've started to call the kitchen my weekend office. Daggy much?

A few Sundays ago, I went on a decadent (crazy?!) one day trip to Canberra to shop and eat yummy food with my friend Larry. I tend to get very restless at this time of year. Six hours in the car kind of sorted that out. We spent most of our money on lunch, and I came home with one new top.

Weekend office part 2, featuring homemade sourdough rye from Kristy and the beginnings of a French silk pie for a dinner party.

With just over 3 months to go, we've stepped up our wedding planning. I have wedding spreadsheets now (something I swore I'd never do! But now I see, it's helpful). We are really grateful to have some creative friends who are going to be a part of the wedding. The lovely Sophie is going to be doing the flowers and our friend Sabine is going to be making our rings.

We escaped the office for froyo and picked a bizarrely Spring-like day to do it.

And finally, two snaps from our dining table including a present for a very kind and lovely lady and French Toaaaaast.