Nov 11, 2016

Recent Dinners and Friday Frocks.

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We've made it to Friday after a week that has been particularly long for most of the world, I suspect.

As the wise but sadly departing President Obama said, 'regardless of which side you were on in the election, regardless of whether your candidate won or lost, the sun [will] come up in the morning'.  Which it did in rather spectacular fashion round my neck of the woods yesterday.

In much the same way as the sun always rises, certain things just need to be done on the regular.  I find the routine nature of them reassuring in times like this.  Coffees need to be bought, another five minutes needs to be had in bed after the alarm goes off, exercise needs to be done, hot showers need to be savoured each morning and dinners still needed making.

Out of nowhere came a craving for Lamb Obsession, a slow cooker recipe that polarizes.  I'm not sure what it is about Lamb Obsession that brings out the emotion in the slow cooking community.  Some have a reverential awe towards all the flavour and tenderness that a few packets, tins and sauces can confer on any cut of lamb.  Others cringe at those very same ingredients.  I'm a relatively new convert after having to give up making my childhood lamb chop casserole on account of how poor the results are these days with the modern lamb forequarter chop.

To make the gravy, combine a can of mushroom soup with Worcestershire sauce, mint sauce and a packet of French Onion soup mix.  You can get fancy if you like with pepper, and some rosemary.  Arrange a chopped onion (I added some garlic) under your lamb in the slow cooker bowl then top with the gravy mixture.  Cook on low for 6 - 8 hours.

Sometimes, you have to go beyond the superficial and this is definitely the case with Lamb Obsession.  I used a lamb roast and the meat fell off the bone as it cooked, hence the presentation.  Wonderfully tender, no tough bits and no dryness.  And for such little effort in the first place.

Speaking of dinners, Snoskred's tuna pasta bake was also a great success.  You must remember to add the leeks.  I wasn't sure how they'd fare being added in raw rather than being browned beforehand but my worries were unfounded.  I served the bake with some raw spinach leaves.  Am definitely going to make again.

With dinner taken care of, lets talk summer frocks.  I'm officially in the world of the invisible woman, I think.  That large, older demographic that fast fashion retailers appear to be ignoring (despite the fact that we're more susceptible than most to a good online shop after the kids have gone to bed).  I had my suspicions for most of this year and then my browse of what's available right now pretty much confirmed my diagnosis.   Most of the summer dresses I'm seeing at stores and online right now are wildly unsuited to my lifestyle.  Lengths are either very mini or very maxi, there's lots of off the shoulder or strapless and there's also lots of shapeless sacks.  

via pinterest

Don't get me started on playsuits.  Since when did they get the nod to become suitable attire for grown women to wear to weddings and other formal events?

My ideal summer dress features bold prints, is a simple shape and can get worn comfortably to work.  There is no particular dress code for what we wear to work but we pretty much all prefer to keep it simple, modest with the flesh exposure and machine washable.  My usual reliable sources have all gone and found different visions to what I had in mind so I cast my virtual shopping baskets further afield and found two new stores to try.

Hibiscus and Sparrow have been popping up on my Facebook feed an awful lot in that 'ads you might be interested in' spot.  I'm kind of relieved the ads have moved on from the weight loss and anti ageing stuff I used to get.  Perhaps I'm a lost cause to those particular advertisers?

Anyway.  I just loved the look of the unique prints and simple lines of the dresses from Hibiscus and Sparrow.  More temptingly, their prices were surprisingly low for what the dresses looked like in the photographs.

Penelope dress, $54.99

Then when I clicked through, I discovered a spend and save offer on the H&S site.  I placed my order which included the Penelope dress.  Full price was $54.99 and I think it worked out to be $45 after the discount.

My first impressions:

  • order was shipped quickly and gift wrapped
  • fabric of dress quite thin, unlined and finished cheaply, $45 full price would be a fair
  • the dress is quite long and cut on the generous side with a very deep V neck, I would have to wear a tank top underneath it to work or else add an extra button closure at the neckline.
It is a pretty frock and while it doesn't look as lush in real life as it does in the stylised photos on the site, it's still a great option for work / every day wear.  They seem to do small runs of prints and things sell out pretty quickly.  My only gripe about the site is that they don't include photos of actual women modelling clothes to give consumers an idea of what something may look like when worn.  Also, sizing information is limited to diamensions of garments.

The surprise find of this whole exercise, however, was made590 an Australian owned and made label that has a store in Newtown, Sydney.  Up the road from where I work, actually.  How convenient.
Among other things, made590 make beautiful dresses that fall below the knee, have high necklines and fit well across the chest and around the arms.  Many designs also feature actual pockets too.  There are shift dresses, high waisted dresses, ones for work, ones for the weekend, ones that can be worn across the seasons.  This is the Imogen dress and costs $155.

These are the three dresses I bought from made590.  The prints are as vibrant as they appear online and product information and detail photos feature the dresses worn on actual women, women of different body shapes so that you can get an idea if a cut would suit you.  There are also helpful style notes on each garment too.  The 'Golden Apple' range refers to limited run styles in unique fabrics.  I like the weight of the cloth used in made590's dresses - nothing flimsy that clings in all the wrong places.  I haven't been this excited about dresses in a very long time, actually and look forward to wearing my haul to work over the coming weeks.

Any plans for the weekend?

Are you disillusioned with the way America voted the modern lamb forequarter chop?


  1. I need to come around to yours for some lamb obsession, I think I would be pro.
    By and large one gets what one pays for with dresses. I am currently wearing a $180 country Rd dress and feel like a bawss in it. It depends on the cut and fabric tho

  2. Sometimes I can be lucky one the forequarter front. If I see a tray of the ones with the little round bone only rather than the long bones, I will get it. They are far superior but you have to keep your eye out for them.

    I had not seen the made590 dress label before. Reminds me of Brisbane-based Maiocchi.

    I am struggling to find the type of dresses I want for this summer: cotton, t-shirt style and not low cut. I just want them for casual wear around the neighbourhood, school drop off, groceries etc and also for over swimwear. Can't seem to find what I'm after.

    Have a lovely weekend.

  3. Oh that lamb sounds and looks delicious! I haven't used the slowcooker in such a long time, really need to dust of the recipe books when I have more time on my hands. Meat and 3 veg has been a staple for us at the moment because of the simple routine involved in making it.

    THe made590 dresses look lovely too, great they have such a glowing review! :) I have a couple of sheath dresses from French Connection that are perfect for the office but I don't think it's a frequently recurring style sadly.

    And I won't comment on the US results - I'm surprised but I've never really spent enough time there to understand half of what happens in that country haha!

    Away From The Blue Blog


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