Sep 29, 2013

Harpaila.

Good very early Sunday morning! It feels like the old days for me. A bit of time to myself, a large mug of tea (double tea bag) and the hankering for a bit of lightweight celebrity inspired blogging....

I've written about this strangeness before, I'm sure. The fascination that some adult women (myself included) have with the life and style of well connected toddler girls.

www.fashiondivadesign.com

It all began with Suri who's been a bit quiet of late. Presumably because Suri's a big girl now and a bit over the limelight and is seeking refuge and a solid education at her school in New York.

www.starmagazine.com

I think Harper was the one who gave the junior fashionista frenzy traction. It's not about toddler heels, luxury cosmetics (there was an article once that detailed Suri's beauty regime) or kooky dads with the youngest Beckham. Basically, Harper seems to be leading a normal toddler life which happens to involve her mum and dad taking her to work.... front row, next to Ms Wintour at New York fashion week.

I have S to thank for introducing me to another toddler fashionista.

Meet Aila....


carriesgal blog

who's so cute she has her own Facebook page and gets mentioned in the NYFW write ups in the mainstream press.

Do you reckon Harper and young Aila Wang caught up at NYFW? Aila is Alexander Wang's four year old niece and she's a regular fixture at her uncle's shows. She gets photographed by the fashion press and her uncle designs outfits for her based on his runway collections. She's just too cute.

 
style.mtv.com
 
Here's Aila wearing her version of a Wang dress worn by Karlie Kloss. I'd actually wear Aila's dress. I love the idea of comfort footwear with high fashion dresses and Chanel handbags. Aila's hair is also very doable. I'm sold. I never really saw myself as a Wang kind of girl but this summer, I'm going to get myself some black Nikes and see if Zara has anything Alexander inspired.
 
 
thatschic.net
 
Here's my crack of dawn crazy dream. That when Harper and Aila grow up, they go off to fashion school in New York together and share an apartment while they're studying. The apartment would be the New York base for Harper's brothers too and possibly the Jolie Pitts. Needless to say, they'd all be too cool to accept offers of a reality TV series based on their lives. Should Prince George ever be in town, he'd give his Uncle Harry the slip and crash on a sofa at the apartment.
 
 
On graduating, the girls then start their own label, let's call it Harpaila which would have a design aesthetic that would cater to women of their mothers' age who love a good monochrome outfit... but with sensible shoes.
 
And on that note, happy long weekend Sunday!
 
 
 


Sep 27, 2013

Pods Of Tea? Beyond the Purple Haze.


Well here's to the long weekend, Perth!

Living in Perth at the moment, it's difficult to appreciate that there is a world beyond tomorrow's AFL Grand Final. The city is both eerily quiet and vividly purple as we head into the game tomorrow. It would be a fairytale ending for Fremantle if they were to win in their first ever grand final appearance. Go Dockers!

Amazingly, news from the real outside world has filtered through this purple haze I'm in right now.

 

 

 

There's been lots happening in celeb land. The Emmys and its fabulous red carpet fashion, Kim Kardashain going blonde but perhaps most importantly, Ketut finally speaking out to Who Weekly about what's been going on with Rhonda and himself since Bali. There's another man involved and he looks slimy to me.

Moving right along to the wonders of food technology. Twinings tea pods! It's just too much effort to make a pod of tea, isn't it? Why mess with the simplicity of dunking a tea bag in a cup of boiling water? Even adding the pre warming your cup step to the tea bag method is easier than trying to line up a pod in the machine and filling it with water and cleaning up afterward. If you have tried tea pods, was it worth the effort?

 

 

I have to admit that when I first saw the cover of 'Crazy Rich Asians' by Kevin Kwan I assumed that it was just a politically incorrect Facebook meme and not am actual novel. I got curious and had a browse on Amazon where it turned out 'Crazy Rich Asians' not only existed, but it also had a glowing review from Plum Sykes. Kwan and Sykes' work have some striking similarities. They write in parallel about the excesses of high society and the super wealthy. Sykes territory is England and the United States whilst Kwan covers South East Asia. They both write in that over the top, breathy style that is more astute than you might suppose.


'Crazy Rich Asians' delivers what the title promises. Middle class Chinese American Rachel makes a trip to Singapore with her boyfriend, the seemingly ordinary Nick. Rachel soon discovers that Nick is no ordinary Singaporean. His Singapore is an intricate web of influential families who prize status above all else and who are deeply suspicious of outsiders. Especially those who lack wealth or a superior family pedigree. The novel is fast paced, lightweight entertainment. Readers who've lived in the region or have Chinese roots will laugh out loud at Kwan's politically incorrect cast of characters.

Not much else happening in these parts, I'm afraid. I've been enjoying the glorious sun these last couple of days. I'm going to try and watch the game online tomorrow or at least keep an eye on the score via the AFL website.

Take care and have a lovely weekend.

 

 

Sep 23, 2013

Fine Weather, Briefly. Food Obsessives.


I don't remember ever being as obsessed (and upset) about the weather in Perth as I have been these last few weeks. I'm all for the city adopting the Melbourne approach to dressing and dining but the rain and four seasons in one day business? No thanks. Border security needs to take a firmer stance on this.

I had my weekend post all ready to go on Saturday but something happened to Blogsy in the transition to ios7 on my iPad. So I'm trying to cobble together what I wrote then with what I need to add now and hoping it makes some kind of sense. And that one day soon Blogsy will reestablish its working relationship with my iPad.

 
 
Back to the weather. It's only saving grace on Sunday was the most vibrant rainbow I've ever seen.
 
 
 
 
Which I savoured whilst eating a slab of my home made carrot cake. Some things taste even better when they've been in the fridge overnight and this is one of them.
 
I'm really fussy about carrot cake. The cake itself needs to contain sultanas and walnuts in addition to the carrot. I like my carrot finely grated and it has to be olive oil over butter for the batter. Goes without saying that lemon cream cheese frosting is mandatory.
 
 

 
 
You wouldn't believe Saturday was part of the same weekend. The sky was so brilliantly blue and so full of promise you didn't need to bargain with yourself to get out of bed and face the day.


 
 
 
It definitely wasn't the kind of day where you stayed at home subsisting on instant coffee.
 
 
 
 
 
But rather the kind of day to be heeding the siren call of the cafe lined streets of Subiaco.
 
 
 
I got to Subiaco on my maiden voyage with my Smart Rider tap and go card. It's a lovely feeling kissing the daily struggle for the correct change goodbye. And gee, how lovely are the drivers of the Subiaco Shuttle?
 
 
 
Our first stop was the Subiaco Markets. The fruit was the freshest I've seen in Perth and the prices a steal for this part of the country.
 
 
 
 
The markets are predominantly about fresh produce and hearty street food type meals cooked before your eyes but there were still a few of the clothing and knick knack stores that used to be the backbone of business. Clouds of incense wafted through the air as I walked past the racks of vibrantly coloured, floaty dresses and the strands of silver jangly jewelry. It was all exactly as it used to be when I was a child.
 
 
 
A punnet of strawberries made their way home with us in the bottom of the pram. Seriously, those people who use old prams for their weekly fruit and veg shop at the markets aren't as crazy as I thought. They're easy to manoeuvre through throngs of people and produce while the suspension makes negotiating the uneven flooring easy.  They also fit a huge amount of produce, more without the seat being occupied by a baby....
 
 
Sushi made fresh, in store at Woolies Subiaco.



After the markets, it was off to Woolworths for sushi and emergency supplies of processed cheese.
 
 


That's right, the threat of a Cheesy Pop shortage is enough to bring our household to its knees. Baby SSG lives and breathes plastic cheese. He recognises the blue print of the wrapper then moment I bring a slice of cheese anywhere near him. His eyes open wide, he flashes that toothy grin and the cooing starts. Occasionally, he'll humour me and take a few mouthfuls of whatever bright or orange purée I've whipped up for him but he generally holds out until I bring out the cheese. I'm told I'm lucky it's not pouch yoghurt he's addicted to. That's a pretty expensive habit to support.
 
 

We're a family of food obsessives. Pickled ginger is my plastic cheese. I ate about a quarter of this jar my sister in law gave me with that one tray of Woolworth's sushi. Possibly a bit excessive with the ginger but it was delicious. Thank you, Mama San. The sushi was lovely, by the way. A vast improvement on the icy cold, rock solid stuff that usually passes for supermarket sushi.



 
 
 
And the other thing I have to have with takeaway sushi? Sencha tea. Happy days.
 
That's it from me. So relieved to have gotten Blogsy to work for me again.
 
Nighty, night.
 
 
 

Sep 19, 2013

A Witchery Find. Around Town.

 
This is the handbag equivalent of my Rockport wedge heels. Soft leather, goes with everything, easy to wear and best of all, I got it on sale at Witchery. It was practically free because I had Witchery dollars to redeem as well. I was pleasantly surprised at just how supple and thick the leather of this bag is. My favourite feature though is the double handle design so that I can use it as both a top handle and a shoulder bag. It's also small enough to hook over the hand break lever on the pram. An essential design element, that.
 
Do you remember a few years back when every Witchery bag took 'inspiration' or borrowed very heavily from the It bag of the season? What you got for the designer look you lost with the quality of the leather which was thin, stiff and wore quickly. The quality is so much better these days and I'm a huge fan of the more original designs at the moment.
 
Practical handbag in tow, I caught the train to town yesterday. The first time for at least a couple of years. How much would have changed, I wondered, how much would have remained the same?
 
 
 
 
Things still looked familiar from the overpass that links Perth station to Forest Chase. It was nice to see some colour and interesting shapes in the form of sculptures dotted around the CBD. It won't surprise anyone that I had no problems navigating myself through the centre's Myer after all this time. Ditto the David Jones up the road.
 
Incidentally, where do people go for coffee these days?
 

 

 
I regret not popping into Perc. Any establishment that paraphrases Lionel has for to be worth investigating.
 
 
 
 
Walking down Irwin Street, I found a bit of UWA history. I had no idea the original site of the university was so close to where the courts are now.
 
 
 
People often comment how bland the city centre is but if you keep your eyes peeled, you'll find quirky bars and cafes housed in oldish buildings that hint at a Perth that's not as white bread as it used to be.
 
 
 
 
The entire city is living and breathing Dockers purple this week as the team from Fremantle plays in its first ever final series. I'm a bit torn because they're going against the Sydney Swans (my adopted AFL team) at Subiaco this weekend. My actual team is West Coast who were knocked out of contention in dramatic fashion early on. Proving that the city is still blue and gold West Coast territory, I found this lamp post painted in team colours.
 
 
 
I'm ashamed to say that despite spending the afternoon in the CBD, I couldn't find that refurbished Print Hall place everyone's been talking about. I'm blaming the rain, construction work and distracting art installations. Never mind, I'll try to find it next time when I have a look at the new King Street. Is the eponymous cafe still there?
 
 

 

 

The big news today (aside from the fact that it's stopped raining and the wind' stopped howling) is that iOS 7 has arrived. I've updated my iPhone and it does look very pretty. Fisher Price meets Android, I guess. There's a summary of the best new features here. I'm still trying to find the new iTunes radio feature. Any ideas where it could be?

 

 

Sep 16, 2013

Fierce Winds. Food Made With Love.

Vogue Italy


Unfortunately, my current obsession with man styled sweaters and casually tousled pony tails isn't purely born of a desire to channel Lauren Hutton.  It's freaky weather not fashion that's dictating my attire.  Fierce winds have been battering the boats moored outside and threatening to whisk away the brave walkers striding across the foreshore. Despite the walkers making concessions to the wind by walking a hundred metres inland and off the footpath, they're still looking pretty vulnerable. 


 
 
 
I've been inside all day but the banshee howls from outside have somehow wreaked havoc on my hair and have had me reaching for this old sweater of my brother's just in case the winds tear the roof off the house. I know I'm being dramatic.  If I'd squeezed the Parlux into my luggage, my hair would be fine.  But can you blame me?  The weather's been carrying on like the competitors on The Bachelor for the better part of the last week and a half? 
 
You need sustenance to survive when the elements are playing hard ball and I've been spoiled in that department by my aunties in Perth. Not a day has gone by without someone dropping by with a care package of their special dish and a half hour of high jinks with Baby SSG. Baby SSG, like so many babies of his age, seems to have this sixth sense for knowing which arms that reach for him have had the benefit of caring for countless other babies before him. He squeals and grins the moment he gets swooped up and giggles with vigour when sedate looking ladies suddenly whoosh him up in the air.

 
 
 
 
I've just had a large bowl of home made achar for lunch. For those of you not familiar with achar, it's a group of Asian pickled salads. The Malaysian version has a dressing that's chilli based with a generous sprinkling of crushed peanuts. The version I've just eaten involved lemon and lime juices rather than straight vinegar in the pickling process which gave the achar a zesty and light taste.
 
 
 
For afternoon tea, I've got my eye on another piece of this home made Indonesian layer cake that's also by popular with the Malaysian Chinese. I'm convincing myself that a daily slice of this cake is the best way to get my egg intake up.
 
 
 
 
To repay the kindess of the aunties and their home cooking, I've been whipping up batches of banana bread.  The version I've been making is based on this recipe.  There is no bicarb in this version and for that reason the loaf doesn't have that slightly bitter taste you sometimes get with store bought versions.
 
 
You can't go wrong with a melt and mix cake recipe.  One pan, a stove and a wooden spoon are all you need and the cakes made with this method are invariably moist, rise as they should and keep very well.  It's as easy as going down to the shops and buying some off the shelf.
 
 
 
I add a teaspoon of cinnamon to my banana bread and use wholemeal SR flour to give the loaf a darker colour.  I've read somewhere that using coffee as part of the liquid component of the batter also does great things to the bread's flavour.  Coffee and banana bread are a winning combination in my book so I will give this a try next time.
 
Are you a fan of the melt and mix method?  Any favourite melt and mix recipes?
 
 

Sep 13, 2013

The Weeknight Book Club: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison.

When the weather conspires to keep you indoors, there's not much to do but bring on the marshmallow sweetened hot drinks and lose yourself in a good book or two.



I've read two novels recently that you might be interested in yourselves, if you've not read them already. The first is a whimsical retelling of an old Russian fairy tale and the second is a nail biting, page turning account of a modern day marriage gone horribly wrong.



www.bookchickcity.com
 
Eowyn Ivey is a native Alaskan author and 'The Snow Child' is her first published novel. The plot is based on a Russian fairy tale in which a childless Russian couple make a snow child who comes alive. There are many versions of how the story ends but none of them are happy. The child attempts to join the world of humans in each but meets her death by melting for various poetic reasons.
 
Ivey's Snow Child is born in 1920's frontier Alaska to Jack and Mabel. Mabel gave up a cultured, city life to join Jack in creating their own piece of America in an unforgiving environment that has a harsh beauty that they rarely get the chance to appreciate so back breaking is the work required to build their lives there.
 
The couple are childless, heartbreakingly so. One day, Mabel decides to make a snow man on their property and Jack eventually joins her with gusto. The sculpture is given human features and is clothed in woollens that Mabel never had the chance to dress a human child in.
 
Funny things happen in the days after their snow child is made. The snow itself appears to have melted away and the clothes disappeared. Little footprints (possibly human) crisscross the surrounding ground and the couple each 'see' blurry visions of a young girl in the snow. Is it cabin fever or has their snow child really turned into a girl?
 
Eventually, their little vision becomes brave enough to meet them. Her name is Faina and she is now an orphan fending for herself in the woods. Over the years, Faina visits Jack and Mabel each winter but leaves as the weather warms up. Faina grows into a young woman, finds love and becomes a mother but her fate parallels the fairy tale Mabel remembers from her own childhood.
 
I don't think I can remember the last time I've read an 'adult' fairy tale. It's interesting finding your adult self being taken so skilfully into a world that hovers somewhere between reality and the fantasy of a folk tale.
 
 
www.goodreads.com
 


'The Silent Wife' by A.S.A Harrison is another kettle of fish. On its release, it was billed as suspense novel in the style of Gillian Flynn's 'Gone Girl'. They are both set in the privileged world of the well to do in big American cities but while 'Gone Girl' delves into the fraught world of teenage girls, 'The Silent Wife' explored the tensions and complexities of a crumbling 20 year defacto relationship between two outwardly successful but deeply traumatised adults. Whatever the differences plot wise, they've both had the same result on me. My restless fingers have given my iPhone and iPad a rest as they concentrate on my Kindle in the race to reach the final page of each.

Unfortunately, Harrison passed away earlier this year and 'The Silent Wife' was her only work of fiction, taking about a decade to complete. Her career began with editing and performance art. I was surprised to read in her biography that Harrison wasn't a psychologist because the prose of 'The Silent Wife' is littered with eloquent references to the schools of psychological thought and the principles of counselling as well as astute analyses of the psyches of the novel's characters.

The novel is told in chapters that alternate between the points of view of 'Her' (Jodi, a psychotherapist) and 'Him' (Todd, a successful property developer with a lifestyle to match). The couple have been living as defactos for 20 years. Theirs is a life of casual luxury. They have all the material trappings of wealth at their disposal but it seems that they're only going through the motions with each other.

Jodi loves the work life balance Todd's wealth has afforded her but is her outward 'strength' and composure a coping mechanism for some kind of past trauma that she's not been able to face. Todd managed to survive a childhood at the hands of an alcoholic father and submissive mother. Though he loves Jodi, he in unable to remain faithful to her and as the novel unfolds, it is discovered that he has fathered a child to the daughter of one of his best friends.

In the wake of this revelation, Jodi and Todd's comfortable life together goes into free fall. Todd cuts the purse strings to the life he provided for Jodi while Jodi investigates alternative' avenues by which to exact revenge on Todd.

Good books. Their easing the pain of not being able to watch The Bachelor Australia live on free to air...

Have a great weekend!

 

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