Friday, September 19, 2014

SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE

As I await the results of the Scottish independence referendum (keep up to date here), I have never been more proud to be Scottish. I am so pleased to see the people of Scotland displaying such passion for their beliefs, whatever they may be. The streets are full of proud Scots and I wish I could be among the action. The energy is meant to be extraordinary, like nothing anyone has experienced before. Look and listen:



If there's one thing we should take away from this, it's that politics is something we all should be actively interested and involved in. We should be prepared to stand by our beliefs and fight for the things we believe to be fair and right. People power!

Today's post is dedicated to Scotland, beginning with a few famous Scottish faces:


Let's not forget the Scots that belong to Australia now!


Here are some tourist snaps from yours truly, circa 2008:


My clan:


And James, wearing a kilt like it's no-one's business:


I'm going to go now and watch the coverage but I think I'll put a Scotland playlist up here later, given it's current and Scotland has produced many incredible bands and artists. 
As I bid you adieu, I must say my throat is dry and my stomach in knots. What will happen? I'd love to see the Yes vote win, but even if it doesn't, Scotland will still be one of the most incredible places on this fine earth!

Friday, September 5, 2014

SURPRISE!


We have just (and by just, I mean five days ago) returned from an eventful weekend in my hometown. Do you know anything about my hometown? ("No, and we don't care!") Well, I come from a very small town called Portland, Victoria. A charming, seaside community, it's the oldest European settlement in Victoria and has a population of under 10,000. I think this figure used to be higher, sadly. My parents still own a house there, which has been under renovation for about fifteen years. It's a beautiful old place with sprawling gardens and a pond/stream running through it. Great on paper, but a staggering four-and-a-half hour drive from Melbourne. Sometimes the thought of the place gives me a headache and I wonder why my parents never got rid of it. Other times, I think selling it would be akin to dousing all your family photo albums in kerosene and throwing a match on them. We converge there on Christmases and special occasions. This weekend just past is probably be the most special to date.



My brother Josh had planned a surprise birthday party there for his girlfriend Reagan, an event I very nearly ruined. We had flown in to Melbourne on the Friday evening and would be driving that long (but ultimately enjoyable) drive through the night to Portland for the party on Saturday evening. It's always the same five people: Me, James, my sister Rachel, her fiance Dan and my brother Alex. Elphin, my sister and Dan's Chihuahua, also comes along. We listen to music, talk without pause and stop for McDonalds two or three times. We knew that once we arrived, we were not to leave the house at all on Saturday unless we had confirmation that Reggie was at home. It's a small town, so running into each other would be inevitable (and awkward) otherwise. Easy.



I had been keeping the secret of our visit for a whole two weeks until I completely forgot myself (I had had a few glasses of wine to calm my nerves on the flight) and from the very moment our plane landed, started instagramming as if my life depended on it. What an idiot, I know. The first picture I uploaded was of a father and his tiny son walking alongside each other with their suitcases. So cute! Captured and Shared! A seasoned traveler, Reggie would easily have been able to identify that it was outside Melbourne airport. The next image was a picture of a brand new highway petrol station (hey, it looked so artistic and dreamy) that I am almost certain she would have been to, followed by a snap of my sister's dog. What was I thinking? It wasn't until I woke up in the morning to a message from Reggie saying: "Where are you guys?", followed by an angry phone call from Josh, that I realised I could possibly have ruined the whole thing.

Not to worry, though! We set up a semi-scripted conversation that Reggie would be able to overhear from Josh's end, where he asked us what we were doing in "Melbourne" and we said that James had to meet with some clients at short notice and I was simply coming along for the ride. I then started scouring instagram for other people's tourist pics of Melbourne and began an uploading frenzy. The images have now been taken down but they did the trick. Apparently Reggie was a little bummed we had come to Victoria and not told her and Josh - "we could have met up," she had said, likely disappointed that her boyfriend ostensibly had no real plans for her birthday.

^^That's Josh and the beautiful Reagan to the left^^
Anyway, she got the surprise of her life when she turned up at my parents house on their way to "dinner" and all of us jumped out of the darkness. Or perhaps it was the runner-up surprise of her life because halfway through the night at speech time, Josh surprised us all by getting down on one knee and asking Reggie to marry him. It was incredible. I have footage but I can't show it here because all you can hear is me excitedly wailing over the top of everything. Have you ever seen a proposal before? I haven't, but it was the best thing ever. Especially because the two of them are absolutely made for each other and I know I am getting the coolest, loveliest sister in law I could imagine.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A STYLISH SYDNEY PAD

Good Morning and Happy Friday! I'm up bright and early today as I've got a visitor in the shape of a wallpaper technician in our bedroom... The grassscloth wallpaper is finally being replaced! 
Anyhow, I've been meaning to show you this uber stylish Potts Point apartment for some time now. The sales listing describes it as "drawing colour and inspiration from iconic Chanel fashion... tailored to blend the aura of a Paris nightclub, the personality of a boutique and the luxury of a hotel". 
It's been sitting on the market for a couple of months with a price guide of over 3.2 million. If the owners left behind books and artworks, I think I'd start passing the hat! What do you think of it?


Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

BIRTHDAY

'Twas my 28th birthday yesterday. Before I tell you about that, I am going to tell you a little story. About ten years ago, I was having a conversation with a man who owned a cosmetic surgery office. For the record I wasn't in a cosmetic surgery office, it was at a golf tournament my dad was playing in. Now, I don't think he was actually a cosmetic surgeon, but he seemed to know enough because, essentially out of nowhere, he told me that by my late twenties I would start ageing and need a little bit of "work" around my eye area. Well, turns out he was right that I would get a bit creasy around the eye. My left eye, to be specific. I have a feeling it is actually this way because I tend to lie on my left side as I sleep, squishing my face against my hand. I have been doing this all my life but it's only now, at 28, that I have started to see the effects. As for the bit about "needing work", I'm going to ignore that because it's stupid. Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I think 28 is going to go down in history as the year I started visibly ageing. Shall we toast to that?


That was a champagne cocktail called The Henson. We celebrated at Hotel Centennial, a feast for both the palate and the eyes, last night. I'll tell you all about that in a moment, but first I'm going to show you the present I got for myself: a haircut!

I couldn't even tell you the last time I had my hair seen to, so you can imagine how disgusting it looked, given all the heat I apply to it. As you would expect, my hair now feels incredible and not a split end in sight! I have scheduled an appointment for next week because, for the first time in my life, I am going to DYE MY HAIR. This is a big deal for me. I'm not going to do anything crazy, just what the hairdresser described as "adding more warmth" to my tresses. Most of you probably know what I am talking about. So, here's my after shot:


James totally upstaged my present with his. I woke up in the morning to a card, telling me to search for a new book on the bookcase. Which is a good time to show you how it looks now that we have slathered it and the wall in blue-black. I think it suits the rug and with some new cushions and a bunch of flowers I'm calling that room DONE:


After I found the book (a Lonely Planet guide to NYC) I cottoned on to what was happening... So, if all goes to plan we will finally be seeing the sights of the Big Apple! James has actually been before but he was there to study so it didn't feel like much of a holiday for him. Poor kid. As if I hadn't already received more than I could possibly deserve, my husband had these sent to me:


Anyway, back to the fantastic time we spent at Hotel Centennial. The first thing that made me want to visit was the place's interior design. We've been going for walks most evenings and I commonly detour up Victoria Avenue so I can get a look through the window at that beautiful, perfect, inviting space. If you find me with my nose pressed against your window, I'm not looking at you! Swear! My pictures of the place are shockingly bad and don't do it justice so instead, I bring you pictures I stole from their website:


The menu is equally as spectacular as the restaurant's design and matches well with the residential-not-commercial vibe they're going for. 2009 Chef of the Year Justin North (of Becasse fame) brings us the menu, which is the most comforting and elegant "pub food" you can think of. I don't even consider the word "pub" when I think of this place. Like other local establishments attached to a iconic pub (Bistro Moncur; Four in Hand), this place is simply an excellent restaurant. 

I started with the most delicious, plump Tiger prawns and a salad featuring sorrel and pomelo:


James had the caramelised pork belly with miso eggplant and slow cooked octopus. You're going to want to try it:


The star of the evening, however, was the 5 hour slow cooked lamb shoulder. I'm still salivating about its tenderness and how incredible the fries tasted after I'd used them to mop up the juices! It was too much for the two of us, even after we had gone beyond fullness and piled more onto our plates. I think this dish would generously feed three, entrees and sides considered:


There were to be no desserts for us. We were far too full for that. Next time though, I am sure...