Nov 29, 2011

Snacks and Submarines.

So, I'm on the home stretch until my little holiday conference.  I rang my bank today telling them where I'd be and for how long.  Just in case they decide to suspend activity on my cards whilst I'm in the middle of a transaction at the Mall of the Emirates.

I've printed all my conference registration paperwork and put the address of my colleague's hotel into my iPhone, we plan to explore a different mall each night for dinner after each long day of conferencing.  I've located my passport and it hasn't expired.  Heck, will you look at that plastic document wallet?  It contains every bit of paper I need for the trip.  Except the tick box packing list I drew up last night.  I know from past experience that filing away a packing list is never a good idea.

Mr SSG has been grazing on this good stuff whilst I've been excessively planning and itemizing.  It was from our Costco trip at the weekend and the packet is only 1/3 full now.  Bhuja Original Mix is the beer snack.  It's a mix of dried peas, peanuts, raisins and crispy things dusted with an Indian spice mix.  It's made with sunflower oil and not greasy or salty like these snacks sometimes are.  What's more, Australia, Majans is Australian made and exports to the world.  The beer snacks that export to the world have to be good for you and Australian jobs.  So do your national duty this weekend and get yourself to Costco.

TeaSub - $19.95 from typo.

I saw this TeaSub at typo and almost burst into song.  Sadly, it doesn't whistle 'We All Live in a Yellow Submarine' as it makes your cup of tea, but it is awfully cheery.  The submarine is made of silicone and fits about a teaspoon of tea leaves.  It has a chain that you drape over the edge of your cup.

Teabah Relax - $20 for 50g.

TeaSub meet Teabah.  The Relax tea was a bonus from the ladies at La Clinica (they spoil me).  Teabah are certified organic loose leaf teas and Australian made.  'Relax' is a blend of chamomile, lemon balm, calendula and vervain.  The result is a light and soothing brew.  It's easy to drink without the bitterness you sometimes get in herbal teas.

The tea was so pretty to look at.

I placed the tea inside the TeaSub and watched as it journeyed to the depths of my mug.

I had a little smile as my cup of tea brewed.

Speaking of things yellow, to paraphrase Rachel Zoe, it's ba-na-nas right now.  They're around the $3 / kilo mark these days.  Happy, happy days!!!!!

It looks like I'll be off the blog for a little while.  I will touch base when I can but if I'm not back before I fly out, I hope you will all keep well until I return.

Take care all,

Nov 28, 2011

Medhurst Cellar Door, Coldstream, Victoria.

There's nothing like  looking back on past holiday photos to get you in the mood for your next getaway.  I'll be in Dubai this time next week and my holiday plans have all the important decisions and arrangements have been made.  What to buy duty free, where to go for high tea (the Burj or bust) and what to do in the evenings (mall hopping).

During our time in the Yarra Valley, Mr SSG and I had casual lunch at Medhurst Winery.  I know all our lunches were casual and lavish but this one was special to me because it represented to me what wine country lunches should be all about - great food, good friends, unique wines and lots of love and laughter. 

The Medhurst cellar door is tucked away from the main road, high on a hill.

It's a funky, modern space with the large expanse of front lawn dotted with sculptures and outdoor seating.

Inside, the cafe made the most of the glorious natural light. 

There was a high ceiling and simple, comfortable tables and chairs.

The day's specials were written on suspended black boards above the main counter.

Our table was set with an enamel water pitcher and glasses.

The 'paddles', scones and the kitchen.

Because there were quite a number of us for lunch and because we'd all been eating non stop for the whole trip already, we decided to share some 'paddles'.

I was rapidly rediscovering my apetite at the sight of our food being prepared.

Our first dish was the vegeterian paddle board. 

When 'good for you foods' go gourmet, you're autmatically entitled to have a lunchtime glass or two of rose.  The vegetables cancel out the units of alcohol.  Honest..

It was so fresh and full of colour and vitality.  You know how I have a thing for broccoli and carrots?  Well, who would have thought I'd be eating them by the plateful with a few glasses of wine whilst on holiday?

The pork terrine was especially popular with the boys.

The seafood paddle board featured smoked salmon, sardines and dip.  We did well, covering all the food groups at lunch.

The breads were delicious.  Light sourdoughs and crusty white loaves.  Perfect to go with the dishes we shared.

Medhurst do not produce sparkling wines.  But I wasn't going to hold that against anyone.  I found some willing friends to share a bottle of rose over lunch.  It was light and fresh, very drinkable for those of us who can't get past sparkling.  It won over a few of the boys too.

The rest of the table stuck to reds, which were just the thing to go with the cheeses.

Conveniently, these freshly baked scones were on offer for dessert.  I don't think there's a better way of eating jam and cream than with home made scones.

We lingered a while as the last glasses of wine were poured before heading for our hotels for late afternoon naps.

Plans for dinner?  We'd work all that out later.  It's almost impossible to feel a sense of urgency in a place like this.

Nov 26, 2011

The House of Vanderbilt via Costco.

Please tell me I wasn't the only Sydney-sider who felt a bit ripped off when they woke  up this morning.  The longest spring wet spell in recent memory had to extend into Saturday morning, didn't it?  And it had to be the Saturday of my last weekend in Sydney before my holiday.  You can just pretend to feel ripped off on my behalf over that second point.

One of the new SSG Manor golf umbrellas in action.    I reckon they create a dry zone at least 5 metres in diameter around you  when they are deployed.  I am not sure how this will work in a busy CBD setting, Mr SSG.  Just saying.
I had great plans for today.  I'd get some housework done in the morning after a run and some brekky and then hit various shops for supplies for the trip and for Mr SSG whilst I'm away.  Then I'd start packing my suitcase with a tight edit of the pile of things in the spare room that I'd amassed for the trip.

Instead I just shuffled along in the kitchen as the rain refused to quit its assault on the roof.  It was all I had in me to make a strong cup of tea and make a shopping list for Costco.

I made good use of my time in the queue listening to Michael Buble's new Christmas CD.    I love the interesting duets he arranged for the album as well as his take on 'All I Want For Christmas'.  Very different to Mariah's, let me tell you. 
When I eventually got moving, Mr SSG and I did  make good time for Costco.  Here we are in a prime position waiting for the store to open.  On a Saturday, my tip is to aim for an arrival time of 0900 for the 0930 opening time.  You have the best chance of getting both a park and a good spot in the line this way.  If you need breakfast or a bottle of water, both are very reasonably priced at the open air cafe outside the store which opens a good hour or so before the store opens.  50 cents for bottled water is pretty fair, I feel.

I won't bore you with snaps of everything we bought or saw this time....

But there were some handbags on sale.  These Longchamp bags were $110 and there was a Prada handbag for $990.  I didn't walk away with either, such was my self restraint today.  I was sticking to my pencilled list, no two ways about it.

Well, mostly.  How could I not put these 1 kilo cartons of hand made yum cha dumplings into the trolley?  Especially when the Chinese aunties around me were loading up.

There's no way these torches are ever going to get lost at work.
 I also found a solution to the missing flash lights at work conundrum that has plagued my whole professional career.  They used to get hidden in the insulin and eye drop fridge back in the day but these days, ward fridges never seem to have any at all.

I just love this photo.  What is not to like about cut price Moet and pants that are designed to make you Look Slimmer?

Image courtesy of
You probably have to be at least  my age to remember the glory that was the House of Gloria Vanderbilt.

Back in the 80s, Gloria's eponymous perfume with it's cut glass bottle etched with a swan was the epitome of restrained glamour.  The adverts featured a blurred swan in flight over water.  No haughty spokesmodels with fierce hair and makeup or provocative semi naked couples in mid embrace, just that swan.  The fragrance itself was warm and luxurious, it smelt of restrained wealth and good taste - well as restrained as these things could be in the 80s.

Image courtesy of
Besides being an heiress and an actress, Gloria also founded a fashion house and apparently, her jeans were the business.

These days, Gloria no longer has any connection to the business that currently manufactures jeans under her name.  It was a wave of nostalgia for that memory of Vanderbuilt perfume and its swan bottle that made me buy a pair of well.... mum jeans at Costco today.  For the princely sum of $22.  How could I say no to the chance to Look Slimmer at that price?

Buying clothes at Costco basically involves waving something marked in your American size in front of your body and pressing the seams to the sides of your body.  If they match up, you've found your size.

How cute is the swan logo?  So 80s retrolicious.  I will remember to wear volume in my hair , bushy eyebrows and fierce eye makeup with these.
Okay, you have to be at least as large as me to buy these jeans because I got the smallest size.   So you skinny  minnies will have to sit this one out.  These are great jeans to wear for casual days at work.  There's no chance of a plumber's crack situation developing and they look neat and tidy, plus they're so comfy.  I'll have another look at myself in the mirror when I wear them next week to work to tell you if they really do make me Look Slimmer the Vanderbilt way.

Another plus with these jeans is that they sell the 'Regular' length at Costco so I don't have to take the legs up.  I am seriously considering going back to Costco to get the khaki coloured pair as well this week....

Costco wasn't just about revisiting 80s power labels, there was a serious side to the morning too.  I had a freezer to fill.  And here it is. We've got turkey, free range chicken portions, muffins, quiche, felafels, lots of other things that can't be seen in the photo...  I think I can rest assured that Mr SSG won't starve while I'm away.

It wasn't just freezer filling today.  I had to make an emergency to Kiehl's run as well to address a critical skin care situation.  Creamy Eye Treatment withdrawal.  It's been a whole week since the skin around my eyes got their nightly slathering of avocado in a jar.

I'm all good now.  I got a new jar of my eye cream and all is good / well hydrated with the world.  Oh and did you know that Kiehl's have dropped the Australian prices of hair and body care by 30%?  Don't say you weren't warned.  The not so good news is that the recycling programme has ended here in Oz.  Pity I only found out after I gave my 7 empties to the DJs city store today.  They were very kind though and got rid of them for me all the same.

It's been a busy day.  I'm now kicking back with some of my Costco spoils, feeling the festive spirit and watching Bridesmaids...

Talk to you soon,

Nov 25, 2011

Friday Night Owls.

Whether you're ready or not, 2011 is rapidly drawing to a close. I picked up my office stationery for 2012 from our secretary today and already have commitments to enter into the diary and wall planner.  It's getting a bit cramped with both desk diaries and daily flick over calenders competing for space with my beauty editor inspired collection of potions and lotions for all occasions on my desk.  I also need to figure out how to stick the wall planner on to the wall.  It's a job too big for Blu-tak I think.

Calender $5 with purchase.
I had to break out of the mould though and bring in a non regulation wall calender.  I am loving how it features my new approach to life.  To just keep calm....

and focus on just one thing at a time.  I can tell February 2012 is going to be a good month for me.  According to the calender, I am meant to be shopping all through that month.

My Keep Calm calender was a $5 investment purchase from typo.  People, I'm telling you, typo is the go to place for Christmas present shopping this year.  Lots of great ideas for stocking fillers, Kris Kringles and most importantly, gifts for the gift buyer.  I'm all about helping where I can so I've included prices if you're planning to hit the shops tomorrow to get an early start on gift buying madness.

There was a 30% off promotion for laptop covers, so this one cost $18.

I found this whimsical Eiffel Tower lap top sleeve for the new macbook.

As well as things that will actually make it out of our house as Kris Kringle gifts.  A lazy Friday night post is no place to be dumping a photo of everything I bought at typo so tonight I'll keep it short and stick to the Friday night owls.

Salt n pepper's here - $9.95.
 Owl salt and pepper shakers.  For that touch of kitsch on the dining table.

Cute hoot spoons - $9.95.
 Owl measuring spoons.  Add a teaspoon of essence of hoot to your next baking project.

Cute hoot cups - $19.95.
Owl measuring cups.  These are just too cute and there's really no excuse needed to get your hands on a set of these - for someone else.

Well, it's still raining at get an ark ASAP levels here.  I hope the skies clear for the weekend because tomorrow is going to be Costco day for the SSGs.

Have a lovely evening and stay dry!


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