May 31, 2010

Eurovision Made Me Miss Paris (the Hilton). Weetbix. A Dying Swan.

It was only last night that Eurovision blazed across our screens via SBS in a dazzling display of glitter, spandex, thigh high boots and big hair and makeup.

As I watched Moldova's entry, I couldn't help but miss Paris (the Hilton).  She has been awfully quiet of late, but her legacy of hair, party dresses and eye makeup lives on.  I hope Paris is well and merely cocooning until her transformation is complete (surgical, spiritual or otherwise). 

Belgium's entrant showed so much restraint fashion wise, he was actually making an outlandish fashion statement in his collared shirt and boy next door hair.

Fast forward to a rather soggy Monday morning.  Heinz, you've done it again - your stewed fruit is ace.  Microwaved on high for 20 seconds, it makes your Weetbix and yoghurt transeasonal in the manner of a black skivvy for your shift dresses.  I wonder if the stewed fruit would make a winter version of truckies scones (split weetbix with jam and margarine or cream if you're fancy).

Spectator training continues in earnest at SSG Manor.  We partake of the official breakfast cereal of the Qantas Socceroos and Cricket Australia.  Albeit it in smaller serves than the professional athletes. 

After all these years of eating Weetbix, I still don't know the rules to either cricket or soccer.  The boys at work did try to teach me about cricket one year.  They had basically hijacked the common room remote to watch a test match.  Then, with the aid of hand drawn diagrams, one person explained the rules and what all the people on the pitch were trying to do whilst another physically pointed out the corresponding activity on screen.  Oprah was well and truly over that day by the time they were convinced I sort of understood.  I think the boys also made me miss that afternoon's Entertainment Tonight (which, in Australia, was on air around 4pm due to differences in time zones) too.

Chunk and shine was embraced in all its glorious permutations today.  I did indeed wear the my RPE Faux Fuchsia necklace but chose also to reinvent the phrase by shining my chunky soled shoes before work today.  Good grooming begins at the feet and it is impossible to escape the Socceroos at the moment, they are watching my every move and infiltrating my daily life in a more pervasive way than facebook.

It was one of those days at work today.  I think I talked for about 7 hours straight - to people, to powerpoint slides, myself....  My stores of interpersonal skills were severely depleted by the time I hit the road to yoga.   Thankfully, it was my favourite class - forward bends.  Except today, I choose to call it dying swan.  Length from the spine, head upward as you reach forward over one straightened leg and the other bent on top of itself - there really was only one kind of swan I could possibly have looked like.

May 30, 2010

The Colours Of Sport. Topics Of National Interest.

As winter makes its mark on Sydney, change is in the air as its citizens begin to adapt and stop being in denial about the shorter periods of daylight and cooler mornings.

The wearing of hats that could be tea cosies with scarves that are at least twice your body length is obligatory.  Bonus points if the scarves have a point of difference such as texture or large sections of open weave.  Hat and scarf from Country Road as part of their current 30% off knitwear sale.

I was off to yoga this morning so it went without saying that I wore birkis as well - but my winter ones.  If I can adapt, perhaps the youngsters that insist on wearing havs in the rain with jeans or leggings (as pants) can wear shoes or boots this winter?  Idle thought.

Fortunately, the studio was fully heated when I got there with Mr SSG.  Today's class was deceptive in its use of props.  It looked like we weren't doing much with the door frames, walls and belts over our shoulders and legs but I left the class fully aware of my lower back and hips.

I missed out on the Socceroo's car flag with the paper this weekend (why does home delivery always exclude you from the freebies?) and was unable to find a green and gold Socceroo supporter's jumper on our shopping expedition yesterday.  Which is crazy because the matches will all be on at night (local time), in the middle of winter and it'll be cold work standing outside in the Darling Harbour Fan Fest area watching the live telecast.

I got my green and gold in anyway by making a Socceroo supporter soup.  I think there'll be enough in there to get us through the Cup season.  According to Jamie Oliver, celery hearts are full of flavour - which is why we have one in the soup.  I also put in a few chicken pieces for lean protein.  It is not only the players that need nutrionally balanced meals in this demanding time of year.  Australia needs a lean, mean supporting team.

This is the top I was hoping to find yesterday.

Image courtesy of

Pim Verbeek's personalized blue jumper.  I'm especially enamoured of the yellow lettering.  Pretty neutral about the Qantas logo.  Too late to ask Pim if I can borrow one of his jumpers, the team is already in South Africa acclimatizing.  Might have to email Nike and ask if there are any small sample sized versions around at the moment. 

Lunch time rolled around all too soon.  Here we are witnessing a classic winter ritual in the SSG Manor kitchen - waiting for the kettle to boil, sushi and extra wasabi ready, piece of chocolate selected and the slow cooker on for dinner.

It's all very calming and conducive to thinking about the world and who Kerry O'Brien could potentially interview and play mind games with this week.
Top kill has tanked and that BP has decided to move on with a lower marine riser package cap.  It has been said that this is Obama's Katrina.  However this disaster ends, one thing is for certain - developments will be conveyed eloquently by The President in effective yet simple prose.

Which brings us to the  unrelated matter of that topic close to every Sandgroper's heart - Fremantle's current form in the AFL the Super Tax.  The conclusion to which will be neither eloquent or concise.  There's a whole lot of ambiguous negotiation going on involving tax percentages and the urgent need for an advertising campaign funded by taxpayers to avert what the Government perceives will be a 'compelling reason' of 'misinformation' on the part of the mining companies' ad campaigns and 'a national disaster' should the tax not eventuate.

Perhaps the ad campaign should reference other issues of national interest, since we are paying for it: the iPad, the Socceroos chances in South Afric and SATC2.  In two minds about the SATC2.  The reviews have not been overly positive and for me, the first film stood on its own and was a natural and gracious point to end the journey.  On the other hand - the fashion and the chance to see what being in the domestic doldrums with Mr Big is like (is this not a contradiction in terms?). 

Kerry, I know you probably won't be able to interview Chris Noth for me  but I await your efforts regarding the Super Tax.

It's hungry work blogging about the world in winter.  Arnotts  now have Nacho Cheese flavoured Shapes.  They are a more restrained and crisp version of corn chips of the same flavour.  I am describing the colour of the box as Pim Verbeek blue.

May 29, 2010

The Soundtrack Of Suburban Sydney. Mr SSG Strategizes. The Junger Enters The Sydney Urban Lexicon.

There is a certain soundtrack to my posts at the moment - that of the steady, heavy droplets of rain as they pound our roof.  If there were lyrics, they would be evoking practical ideas such as staying warm indoors with tea, toast, blankets and ugg boots (I need a snuggie, they are easier to walk around in than blankets) and the hotter than hot gas water heating system we have.  The chorus would be congratulating me for having had the foresight to have had the gutters cleaned early this year, installing that super efficient bathroom heater from New Zealand and forfeiting a mortgage repayment for the car to get the once over before winter (at least you get a free tin of sugarless mints at the garage, which I never get from the CBA - Mr Norris, I am looking at you and I know you're reading).

No where in those lyrics would the following line have arisen.  To quote Mr SSG, "Why don't we go to Chatswood on Saturday.  I need to buy a new pair of grey Bonds track pants."  Long time readers of this blog will no doubt appreciated the significance of this statement.  Mr SSG and recreational shopping are not natural bedfellows.

As I digested his words, Mr SSG quickly followed with a strategy:
  •  A short, sharp mission with no distractions.  
  • 20 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 and a quarter hours from car to trackpants and back.  No hostages, no distractions.  Chatswood being chosen over Bondi Junction for the critical factors of distance, 5 less distracting shops than BJ and the presence of Bread Talk (I'll go anywhere that Bread Talk leads).
  • A list of shops visited to be agreed upon prior to departure (what kind of a shopping trip involves only buying one pair of grey trackpants??).  VIP sales notice postcards will be accepted.  By the way, does anyone know what the free gift with the latest issue of donna hay magazine actually is?

  • 5 minutes hands on time with the apple iPad.
  • Side trip to Bread Top.
No fine print, no late submissions accepted.  We shook hands.

I heard an amusing story on the radio this week by the breakfast team on Nova about the Junction.  It's East, it's high end - the only Westfield in Australia I've been to with LV, Chanel and others. There is a dress code - nothing less than Victoria Beckham's interpretation of casual.  It's true, you have to dress up to do your weekly shop there.  There's none of that dropping in after work, a swim or yoga - preparation and grooming is key to your experience of The Junger.

Just thought I'd thrown in The Junger.  Apparently, it's the name those  of us not living East are allowed to call it.  It's a bit casual and a bit colloquial.   But does it make BJ more accessible?  Mr SSG saw through it and declined.

I tried googling The Junger and came up with lots of European artists.  Perhaps this blog entry will the first formal documentation of The Junger being a colloquialism for Westfield Bondi Junction.  The action 'going Junger style' being defined as the act of finding things of a standard appropriate to wear to go to Westfield BJ.

After a rain related delay, we hit the road.  This is Mr SSG applying a terse hand grip to the wheel.

Mr SSG is not a man who waits to enter a shopping centre car park.  His eye was on the clock.

The offer of valet parking did not amuse.

Tension was relieved by the number of parking spaces still available at 9.37 am, Saturday.

While dress standards are high at The Junger, regulations are somewhat more relaxed at Chatswood Chase (calling it The Chatter just doesn't do it for me, I'm afraid).  It is enough to seek inspiration from those candid paparazzi shots of celebrities 'off duty' - but still conscious that their every action will be captured by a telephoto lens.  Think InStyle for The Junger and Who Weekly / NW for Chatswood and you will be fine.

Fulfilling the minimum dress standard, I managed to gain entry to the CR change room dressed in dark skinnies from Cotton On, a Top Shop striped T, Zara black cardi and sensible Diana Ferrari supersoft shoes.  Lady Melbourne necklace from RPE, red H clic clac.  I was actually there to find more skivvies for winter.  Kookai were rather short in this department this year - everything seemed to be variations on long sleeved T shirts.  Cute but not utilitarian enough for my needs.

True to his word, Mr SSG and I went to the apple store where I was allowed to read The NY Times on an iPad, bleat "I want one" for about 2 minutes and then leave.

When shopping with Mr SSG in charge, a one shopping bag per person limit applies.  Snacks excluded.

You will be happy to know that Mr SSG found his grey bonds trackpants at DJs.  He felt that $60 was a bit rich, and Gwen, the DJs sales lady in menswear agreed.  They also expressed a mutual dismay at the price of boardshorts these days.  This is an issue I will leave until Summer 2010/2011 to pursue.

We got home just in time for the start of the NBL coverage on ESPN, one of the secondary KPIs for today's task.  I had brunch featuring my favourites from Bread Top and Mr SSG had left over Thai takeaway.  Mission Accomplished.

May 28, 2010

Five years On A Friday.

Written in response to a meme from the fabulous She Wore It Well - thank you for mentioning me and passing the on the challenge.  I love reading your blog and suggest you click on the link yourself.

Where were you five years ago?

When I thought about this question, I had a laugh because I wasn't confident that I'd be able to find any photographs that old on my laptop that would tell a story about my life in 2005.  Prior to the arrival of facebook and blogger to into my life, the only photos I really took were photos of friends and family.  These days, thanks to the immediacy of camera phones, I have photos of practically every pivotal moment of my life and if I were to write about my life a year ago, I'd have plenty of photos to illustrate the post.

The photo above is the one of the oldest I have on my laptop.  It was taken in 2007, when I was in Malaysia with my mum and aunty.  It was the last holiday I took as an 'unmarried daughter' and the trip was all about last minute wedding preparations.  I had just passed some harrowing exams and a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders, to be replaced with the challenges of organizing a Perth wedding from Sydney.

It was a special time because, for my mum and aunty, there was the feeling that their relationship with me would change after the trip and the wedding in 2008.  In some ways I would be closer to them in terms of the shared experience of being married and  having my own household to run and at the same time there would be distance created in my being someone's wife.  I think parents and their sacrifices are wasted on their non adult children.  It is only now as I'm married myself and have seen a little more of the 'real world' through university and work life that I am beginning to understand what it means to try and raise a child responsibly and with love.

However, back to 2005.  I was back in my home town of Perth, living with my parents.  Life was predictable and governed by my work schedule.  It was the life version of a favourite set of well worn flannel pyjamas (as I thought, at the time).  I'd found my groove in the record player of life and was happy for it to stay on play for the forseeable future.

I was single and pretty happy with how I was dealing with it (being single, getting close to 30, female and Chinese exposes a person to considerable scrutiny in Perth).  I was enjoying all the benefits of 'being on my own', realizing that I could get through the failures and disappointments with my own inner strength and resilience and not thinking too hard about 'finding Mr Big'.  This all sounds incredibly self absorbed, but if you're reading this and you've been through your late 20s single, you may well know where I'm coming from and the mind shifts this paragraph summarizes.

I know I say this with the benefit of the retrospectoscope (and the suppression of memoried of difficult and painful events) but life really was very simple for me in Perth.

Mr SSG arrived on the scene in 2006 and the rest, as they say, is history.  For work reasons, moving to Sydney seemed like a good idea, We got engaged in 2007.  I moved over in January and Mr SSG came across for his job later that year. 

Where would you like to be five years from now?

I love Sydney but am not sure if we will still be here in 5 years.  Both our families are in Perth and we are close to both sets of parents.  I think family has a big say in where people eventually 'settle down'.

Work and personal life wise?  I'd like to be doing a bit more research and non clinical stuff for a while.  I've started writing papers and find the process just as rewarding as it is frustrating.  There's also the reality of there perhaps not being enough consultant positions in the city and how best to spend the time waiting for a position.  The realities of life post training.  Things you never think too hard about whilst trying to pass exams and fulfil College requirements.  Real Life in other words.

Applications for research scholarships are opening soon for next year and I'm going to apply.  I hope to have my letters by next year (at last!!) and am relishing the idea of being a student again....  We're also hoping to start that elusive family in the near future.  Mentally, I like to think I'm ready for this but I appreciate that just because a girl can survive a 9 months straight of shift work (4 days, 4 nights, 4 days off - continuously) doesn't necessarily mean that one can look after a newborn.  You can actually find out the problem at work whereas cries are a lot harder to decipher.

What is on your to do list today?

  1. Go for a run in the morning even though it's dark and cold and it's more warm and comfy in bed.  I did it - the threat of wild weather keeping me indoors all weekend did it.
  2. Observe One Woman (that would be me) Casual Friday by wearing black skinny jeans.  Skinnies and black top - Cotton On.  Woollen wrap top - Target.  Necklace - Red Phoenix Emporium.
  3. Get to doctor's appointment and then to work.  Everything went to plan and to schedule.  I love days like that.
  4. Eat something different for lunch.  Had a prawn and pasta salad.  That counts as breaking new culinary ground in my book.
  5. Get my resident home early since he has held the fort at work whilst I've been running around Sydney sorting out my foot.  He was car pooling with his girlfriend so couldn't leave early but at least he had half an hour to surf the net and have a chat about iPhones and iPads with me.
  6. Do the grocery shopping.  What is going on with the price of lamb forequarter chops at Coles these days?  $15 for a half dozen?
  7. Catch up on last night's Glee.   Didn't get to Lost because the AFL is on and I had to surrender the remote.
  8. Take a break from cooking and get Mr SSG to order Thai home delivery.  Iyara on Cowell St, Gladesville, 02 9879 4788.

I love the brown paper bags.  I took photos of the two dishes I ordered - fresh spring rolls and pad see ew.  Things got messy by the time we got to Mr SSG's duck and the tofu dish.  My fingers were too sticky to take photos.

What five snacks do you enjoy?
  1. Ginger nut biscuits
  2. Prunes
  3. Fruit and nut mix
  4. Lindor balls - I aim for the singular though
  5. Rice crackers

What would you do if you were a billionaire?

I've never really wanted to be a billionaire.  I've read about the things people do with their money with reactions that range from awe at the altruistic and bemusement at the reckless acts of extravagance but I've never felt envy for any of them.  The money often comes at some cost (personal or otherwise) and with no guarantee of lasting happiness.

If I were a billionaire though, the first thing I'd do would be to provide financial security and goodwill for all the people and institutions that have helped me get to where I am with my life right now.  My parents, brothers and extended family.  My teachers at school.  My lecturers at uni.  The clinicians who have inspired, taught and believed in me.

Now, I'd like to pass on this meme to 5 bloggers I love:

  1. Claire at Spontaneous Delight
  2. Soul Princess
  3. Lanelle Elizabeth at Luscious Llama
  4. Carly Findlay at Tune Into Radio Carly
  5. Ratz at What Can I Say 
Hope you're all having a lovely Friday evening.

May 27, 2010

With Heavy References To Fashion. A Sense Of Relief.

How are we all coping with the weather?

In my own way, I have decided to make peace with the rain, grey skies and darkness on waking and driving home from work.  With a red jumper from Kookai and my Red Phoenix Emporium Lady Melbourne necklace. I am not going to talk about the trousers because they come from Banana Republic and they are cruelly, not on Australian shores.  I am hopeful that the Presidential visit in June will help rectify this shameful state of affairs.  Perhaps that is Michelle's real purpose for visiting Sydney?  To promote a sharing of high street fashion between the countries?

Isn't this whole photo Good News?
  • There's a cup of tea which implies that I had time to kill before hitting the road, there's grapefruit and then there's the reading material.  
  • It's the Thurday paper which means that tomorrow is Friday.  As an added bonus, there is the glory of the(sydney)magazine.
  • We have a hopeful headline involving Mr Rudd and the miners.  Who will win?  Will this Super Tax disappear in the manner of the policies before it and leave the AUD in peace?
  • I'll tactfully not talk about State of Origin - that corner of the front page is obscured for a reason.  Just glad there were no serious injuries for either team.
  • Anna Wintour proves to be an inspired (and surprising) fashion inspiration for the week.  We are to seek inspiration from her patronage of suits.  There were no tips on how to achieve her hair, unofortunately.
  • The Chanel cocoon bags appear to be multi purpose, which is important for these cost and utility conscious times.  I'm actually liking this bag and this close to popping down to Castlereagh St, lying across the couch near the sunglasses and testing out the cushioning properties of the bag myself.  I also like how Chanel is keeping it real this season by demonstrating how simple it is to recreate the look at home.  A beanie and a singlet are all that you need.  But there is the small matter of what to do if you need to leave the house?  With the current forecast, this may be a redundant thought.  It's going to be wet and wild this weekend.  
  • I'll pose myself a challenge.  If the Super Tax gets Ruddered and the exchange rate picks up, I'll go to Chanel and buy the bag, recreate the advert - and blog about it.

There seemed no end to the amount of time I had this morning.  I put a curry in the slow cooker whilst reading the(sydney)magazine.

It proved to be very therapuetic.  I was waiting for my doctor's appointment and was working myself into a frenzy about it.  It was about the foot.  The one that got the Kitchenaid blade dropped on it.  The one that got 3 stitches in it.  The one whose big toe doesn't do what it's meant to do in yoga.  But thankfully, can get it together to fit inside the Decolletes.  Such is the power of Christian Louboutin - damaged big toes yield to his influence.  Will Rio Tinto and friends yield in a similar way to Messrs Rudd and Henry? 

It turned out to be a drama with a happy ending.  Saw my GP in Drummoyne.  Went to work in Bankstown.  Got my ultrasound in Fairfield Heights.  Because I'm such a Food Safari disciple, I couldn't leave Fairfield without visiting the dried fruit and spices store.  Witness my purchases - fresh honeycomb and those gorgeous massive sultanas.  Neither of which are readily available in the Northern Suburbs.

It was all good news with the ultrasound.  No tendons or nerves were severed.  Just some local irritation which I am hoping will settle with some yoga and swimming.  There was a point there where tendon repair was being mentioned casually.  I am not the kind of person who would cope very well with weeks of limited weight bearing after surgery.   I'd be unbearable.  Mr SSG would have had to fly my mother across from Perth to share the burden of having me as a patient.

A sense of relief is a great thing to have.  It is as comforting to the mind as a deep sigh is to the body.

May 26, 2010

SSG's Got the Blues.

I don't think anyone in Sydney today got through the day without mentioning the following: the rain, the State Of Origin, the rain and the Blues.  I'm not even a local and even I had trouble progressing the topics of conversation.  It was a relief to get to yoga and be silent for an hour and half.

Are these the blues everyone is talking about? 

I come from Perth which was pretty much a one sport town - AFL.  Rugby is a mystery to me.  So is soccer.  Which gives me licence to buy a Wallabies rugby jumper (because it looks nicer than the Socceroo jerseys) and wear it whilst watching the Socceroos do their thing at The World Cup this year. 

Okay, I think I've got the wrong blues. 

I have decided that I perform poorly at VIP clothing sales preview events.  I am hoping that the above photograph will reinforce this observation upon the impulse shopping area of my brain and keep me away from the Ralph Lauren store this weekend.  It looks like a cute jacket, it was heavily discounted, it fit but I have not worn it outside the house.  It is proving to be very difficult to match - I had visions of Gossip Girl and the Upper East Side but everything I've tried it on with makes me look like an overstuffed sofa (possibly from the Upper East Side though).  I am hoping that the fascination with double denim (aka The Canadian Tuxedo) will inspire me and help me find a some jeans to wear with it.  Preferrably from within my wardrobe.

So far, the negative visual association seems to be effective.  The OutNet is updating me constantly about bargain basement priced Pucci, Marchesa and Grecian but I have not bought a single item.  It helps that my size doesn't seem to exist and I am jittery about the currency.  Mr Swan and Mr Henry, the super tax sucks.  Can we please find something else to revenue raise from?  Like Channel 9 for every series they produce that relates to Underbelly and for being responsible for A Current Affair?

May 25, 2010

The Stockpiling Of Chocolate Bars. A Kitchen Without Sweet Toothed Ants.

Sometimes, you need the bring in the big guns when you're on the late shift on a Monday night.

Mon dieu, indeed!  The above was my effort to use my meal voucher at the cafe at work last night.  I am usually sensible and go to the staff cafeteria and get a drink and a hot meal but I was feeling reckless yesterday and cashed in my coupon for a coffee.  Except the lady at the cafe wasn't going to let me walk away until I'd spent the full $12.  So she helpfully let me have my pick of the chocolate bars ('to take home') and cakes as well.

Don't worry, I'm not in a diabetic coma - yet.  I had my cake and coffee and have stashed away my other goodies for Future Emergencies.  If a person can survive on a Mars Bar or two whilst lost on a mountain, I am sure I can now survive anything that work throws at me.

For dinner, I googled 'baked fish, tomato and paremesan' (just because) and found this tomato and basil baked fish recipe.

In more 'just because' behaviour, I took off my Red Phoenix Emporium Coco necklace and placed it next to the vegetables.  Ditto the movement of the Arnhem salt and pepper mill.  Then I went off to do the ironing.  In hindsight, I should have kept my necklace on for the ironing.  A little glamour at the ironing board never goes astray. Just had a look at my link for the necklace.  I've finally figured out how to convert the necklace to choker length with the silvery whatsit.  Good stuff.

Then I got back to dinner and well, here it is before getting baked.  The white powder in the background is nothing more exciting than borax and icing sugar.  The SSG kitchen is now officially eradicated of ants thanks to this frugal combination.  Apparently we have ants with a sweet tooth (wonder where they got that from).  An alternate combination is to use finely grated paremsan instead of the icing sugar on top of the borax as some ants prefer salt.

Right, there's dinner.  Looking rather healthy and far removed from the subject of Terry's restauarant review today.  We were taken to the Boca Argentinian Grill, a great place to meat and where both chewing and drinking are encouraged.

I don't know why I just thought of this, but I used to work with a lovely boss who had a wonderful turn of phrase.  We'd be on a round and he'd have a chat to our patients and talk about 'frisky spark plugs' as an analogy for their heart problems.  My spark plugs are completely de-frisked today.  I'm off to recharge them and will write again when they are back to maximum charge.

Good night, sleep well, stay warm.

May 23, 2010

Transitioning To Winter Living.

I'm not handling winter very well.  It's only been the first weekend of cold, rain and grey skies but I've already had my first attack of cabin fever.  On the one hand it was too cold and wet to get to yoga this morning but on the other hand I needed to get my endorphin rush somehow.

On the upside though, the cold weather does enable one to really see the smoke come off their wok.  This was, of course, a week night dinner - the alcohol being used in the cooking as opposed to being consumed as an accompaniment.  Chinese cooking wine is great when stir frying greens. Just add after stir frying the garlic, oil, soya sauce and greens of choice.

I've just been for a swim and it was bliss.  The aquatic centre was heated and the water was a few degrees warmer than it is for summer.  All up, perfect swimming conditions.

The cocooning has started in earnest at SSG Manor.

I don't know how it happened, but the previously bottomless Manor freezer has clearly visible shelves.  We appear to have run out of frozen meal portions.  In the mean time, Mr SSG and I have had to find nutrient dense food in other forms - namely dark chocolate Lindor balls.  Steady progress has been made and it appears that we will both survive the winter thanks to Lindt.

In unrelated news, Dymo have released a stain remover pen.  I saw similar versions of this when we were in the US last year and am glad that they're now available in Australia. 

Clearly a priority area, I am in the process of restocking with those winter favourites - pasta bake and slow cooker meals.

The good humoured people at Arnhem Investment Management will be delighted to know that their battery operated Jensen-esque salt and pepper mill is fully functioning.

We have the watchful eye of Donna and the beverage to her right to thank for this.  Perhaps because of this beverage, there is a fine dusting of Maldon salt flake over the dining room table this morning.  It's definitely Maldon.  If there's one thing I know about illicit substances, it is that they rarely resemble dandruff on dining tables.

I had several hours of quality programming to catch up on last night, so Maeve also graced out screen.  She is continuing her Italian Food Safari (with Guy Grossi) and has been witness to great things involving table tops covered with polenta, tomato sauce and several kinds of meat.

This inspired dinner.  Once again, the SSG Manor food stylist was at Donna's place last night, leaving me to my own devices.  In the photograph above, chorizo and bean pies (from donna hay magazine, April/May 2010) are being assembled.  Under the influence of Italian Food Safari, the pies also contained fresh basil.  Because New Zealand is under-represented in Australian food, we are using Mainland cheddar.  At least I think Mainland is still a New Zealand based company.

Without too much fuss, dinner made it to the table.  Perhaps not the most artistic pies to grace the food blogging world but they made up for it with taste.  Keen observers will note that filled salt and pepper mill in the background.  Being on our dinner table, it will receive Superior Media Coverage for many weeks to come.

Did anyone else receive the Mecca Cosmetica catalogue in the mail this week?  It appears to be the season for Icons and Colour.  I have succumbed to the up-selling genius that is Mecca marketting.  The catalogue is packed full or expert suggestions from Vogue, Fred Segal and Barneys New York.  I've booked in for the current Mecca promotion which involves Makeup Application and The Beauty Icons In A Box.  I am doubtful that my personal icons, Victoria Beckham (now that she has a killer dress line in addition to her Hermes it is no longer shameful to icon-ize her), Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo will be included in 'deluxe, mini sizes' but nonetheless, I have booked in.

Never fear, dear readers, there will be Photos, Opinion and Nasty Credit Card Utilization to be shared on the blog.  I have red post it tagged my copy of the catalogue to help direct my consultation.

The Salon des Refuses 2010. Breaking Unwritten Rules.

It was a Saturday morning no different from any other Saturday that didn't involve work.  However, things soon took a mysterious and mischievous turn.

After breakfast at Baroque, Mr SSG and I went for a stroll through the markets at the Rocks. 

There were unique and colourful shopping bags on display as well as shells filled with lip gloss.  I'll have to come back again soon for these. 

Shells = beach = summer and sun ≠ current weather in Sydney.  Perhaps a shell on my desk will help keep summer on my mind.

Our final destination for the morning was the S.H. Ervin Gallery on Observatory Hill.  However, as it only opened at 11am, there was some time to have a look around the Observatory.

I couldn't help but feel like Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple as I crunched up the gravel path, admiring the lavender and manicured garden on the way.

Was the body found under the weather vane?

Is Miss Scarlet concealing the candlestick somewhere obvious like under the cannon?

I left Agatha Christie to the crime scene and walked over to the gallery where I inadvertently committed a little crime of my own.

The Salon des Refuses 2010 is the alternative Archibald (portrait) and Wynne (landscape) prize selection and originated in 1992 at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, Observatory Hill.  It takes its name and inspiration from the original Salon des Refuses of the 1860s.  These were exhbitions helds by the French Impressionists as a rebellion to the French Academy.  The French Academy held showings of artists sanctioned by them, leaving many other artists of the time with little opportunity to display their work to the buying public.

The 2010 selection panel are art gallery directors and curators in New South Wales.  Their selection of works for display in the Salon are sourced from works entered for the official prizes but were not chosen for the official award exhibition.  

My little crime was, of course, to take photographs whilst I was in the gallery.  I started snapping because though the signs on the wall requested we not touch the paintings, there were no signs saying that photography  was not allowed. It was only after I left with the program that I saw the rule typed on the back page.

So I guess these are bootlegged images.  To redress the situation, I will name the artists under each photo as credit to them.

Left: Poh (Potrait of Poh Lin Yeow, 2009 - Zhong Chen), right: Different Aspects (Self Portrait, 2010 - Qiang Zhang).

Poh's portrait was painted by an artist who shared a studio with her, in her life before Master Chef.

Claudia (Portrait of Claudia Chan Shaw), 2010 - Bruno Graswill.  I especially love Claudia's necklace.  She designed the outfit herself.

Clever Cookie (Portrait of Seja Vogel), 2010 - Symone Male.  Seja is an audiovisual artist herself.  Her medium is presented to her left in a 'downward' series in the manner of how Chinese characters are traditionally written.  The inspiration for the painting was simplicity.

I really enjoyed the Salon des Refuses.  It was thoughtful selection of paintings and the personal notes from the artists were very informative.  I enjoyed this more than the official selection this year.


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