Jul 21, 2018

Saturday. 'A Simple Favour' - Darcey Bell.

Winter weekends in Sydney are pretty special at the moment.

Sure the nights are freezing (by Australian standards) and some of us need to dress as if we were hitting the snow when we go running in the morning on suburban streets but once you get past all of that, this is what you're blessed with.  The bluest skies and sun against the bare branches.

Winter makes me feel as if I've earned myself a Saturday bacon and egg roll at the farmer's market.  Instagram is flooded with photos of people breakfasting in Italy at the moment but to me, this view was just as magnificent because it was accompanied by that aforementioned bacon and egg roll, an excellent coffee and the prospect of a whole day of freedom to follow.

I know I should have bought my fruit and veg while I was there

but I'm low key obsessed with Coles' Little Shop at the moment.

I'm making slow progress. 

Even if I don't get to collect all 30 minis, I will consider it all worthwhile if I at least get the TimTams and the bananas.

In other news from the world of adulting, I finally did it.  Got that eye test and retinal scan.  I don't know what I was so scared about (actually I do but none of it eventuated) but I got the all clear.  Even better, I got to choose new frames straight after my appointment. I'm going for statement specs in case you hadn't already noticed.

My reading world has been a bit lacklustre recently.  Novels I had high hopes for but have taken ages to finish.  I've begun to like the main characters of one series (Stephens and Mephisto of Elly Griffiths' other 'non Dr Ruth' series) so hopefully this bodes well for me to download a few for my next series of long haul flights in ... 69 days.

But then my Facebook feed came to the rescue.

Image result for a simple favor
via YouTube
Did you know that Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively have a new film coming out?  I saw the very slick trailer on my feed one morning, clicked and then found myself down a rabbit hole googling the novel upon which the film is based.
via Walmart.com
'A Simple Favour' is a domestic noir novel by Darcey Bell.  It tells the story of 'mommy blogger' Stephanie and how her quiet life as a young widow in suburban Connecticut finds colour and brilliance when Emily befriends her.  Emily is the glamorous mother of Stephanie's son's best friend.  Stephanie and Emily become good friends but one day Emily goes missing and Stephanie finds her life unravelling.

The unravelling is both good and bad in Stephanie's eyes.  The fall out from Emily's disappearance proves to be excellent blog fodder and helps Stephanie galvanise the support of her loyal readers as she shares details about how she and Emily's husband Sean are coping with the boys in the wake of the drama.  And then there's the initially unresolved sexual tension that smoulders between Stephanie and Sean....

Opinion on 'A Simple Favour' is divided for both critics and readers alike. Common themes in the negative reviews are that the novel is poorly written and the plot twists so predictable you don't even have to google for spoilers as you read. Those who enjoyed the novel praised the suspense factor and creative use of narrative structure.  The story is told in part through Stephanie's #soblessed blog posts which provide an ironic foil to what's actually going on in Stephanie's mind and life.

I'm turning pages compulsively and have a foot in both camps.  Bell's writing isn't as polished as other authors in this genre but she can plot twist with the best of them.  I'm also a fan of both Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively.  The film's trailer has me intrigued as well.  Both factors have influenced / biased my feelings toward 'A Simple Favour' the novel.

Are you collecting Coles' Little Shop minis?  Which ones are you hoping to find?

Have you read 'A Simple Favour'?

Jul 19, 2018

Lovin' Life 19/7/2018: Winter and Other Things.

Things I'm lovin' this week:

Being able to get warm in Sydney's big chill

It's officially Cold in Sydney right now.

Not just your regular puffer jacket and a large cup of tea to keep your hands warm bold but waking up in the morning to frozen water pipes cold.  I've been lucky enough (so far, touch wood) to have running super hot water every morning this winter but my heart goes out to my fellow Sydney siders who have had to survive the mornings with both frozen hands and no chance of a steaming hot shower.

New tyres

I found a nail in one of my tyres during the week while I was checking the pressures somewhat serendipitously.

It turned out that all four of my tyres needed replacing but silver linings, the people at JAX Tyres filled them all with some nitrogen so I'm get a six month leave pass until I next have to check them myself.  I also got a whole heap of frequent flyer points out of it too.

Aldi's mince and cold cuts

After settling the bill for my new tyres, I went on to get my bolognese ingredients sorted.

I was on a hunt for some bargains and found everything I needed for less than what I would have at Woolies.

Yes, I am one of those people who loves cured meat in a meat sauce.  I used salami and pancetta for this week's batch.

I brown my meats and saute my vegetables before slow cooking with the sauce ingredients and a parmesan rind for 6 hours or so.  It was just what I needed as the mercury rapidly dropped to 13C at 5pm on Saturday.  That is raw celery you're seeing, I was too lazy to make zoodles.

The Farmers' Market at theTramsheds

I'm on a roll with market visiting at the moment.

The Tramsheds have a growers market every Sunday between 8am and 2pm.

It's small, indoors and beautifully curated.

I rate the almond croissants at 11/10.

There were rainbow coloured caulis

and beautifully coloured and textured crackers to take your next cheese platter to the next level.

Speaking of cheese, there was also a tightly edited selection available as well.

As a side note, The Little Marionette's coffee is still as good as I remember it.  I do miss their hole in the wall cafe in Balmain.  Never mind.

Tempting cakes and jams were also on display.

I do like the Tramshed space and how the market utilizes space between eateries.  I felt a 'culinary insider' vibe as I browsed and bought from stallholders as the chefs and waiters busied themselves getting things ready for a busy Sunday.

Chocolates too beautiful to eat.

A pair of personalised easy chairs to sit in as you wait your turn at the barber.

I was very excited to find actual Australian garlic for sale.  The bulbs were enormous and there was very little skin to unpeel.  Guess who's a bit over supermarket garlic at the moment.  I was told my garlic will keep for 8 weeks in a cool dry place so I stocked up ahead of my family visiting and all the meals we will be making together.

This sachet of Herbie's Spices sweet paprika was from the Tramshed supermarket.  That's also a jewel with a combination of standard supermarket provisions and more exotically sourced bits and pieces.

What have you been lovin' about life this week?

Jul 17, 2018

Les Bleus. The Beautiful Game. Bastille Day at The Rocks.

If you're French, I suspect you are more than just a little bleary eyed today.

Image result for france world cup
via Stuff.co.nz

Congratulations Les Bleus on your dazzling World Cup win.  

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know the first thing about soccer and what constitutes a good game but every time the World Cup rolls around, I find myself watching the news and scrolling on my phone for live updates.  

Soccer is a beautiful game to watch and it had a beautiful way of uniting the citizens of a nation.  Teams are often made up of players from a diverse range of social and racial backgrounds and I get a little something in my eye seeing the unity and team spirit of each team member.  I love the high octane glamour of the players' lives off-field (as a long-term Team Beckham fan, that really goes without saying), I love how dressed up both the players and their managers are for any given match.  I learn a little more about the world each time I listen to interviews of players and how they came to be world class players, often achieving in spite of (or perhaps it's because of) seemingly insurmountable challenges.  

It was also Bastille Day on Saturday and in Sydney it was like the perfect omen for France's game on the Monday.  We had clear blue skies and glorious winter sun.  It might have been too close to 4C for much of the morning but still, it was a cracking day.

Champagne was drunk and iconic French luggage and textile houses were heartily endorsed.

The Bastille Day celebrations in The Rocks did not disappoint and they were the perfect reason to set out for the city to enjoy the glorious winter sun.

The festival was a celebration of all things French and fabulous.

L'Occitane ensured that we were all lavishly scented and moisturised with a wide range of their favourites on hand to try and buy.

Patriotic cakes were on offer next door.

Breton shirts festooned another stall.

Patrons and stall holders dressed patriotically.

There were crepes available with all the traditional fillings although I think Nutella is a bit of a cross-cultural interpretation filling wise.

Food, wine, music and sun.  What more could ask for on the weekend during a Sydney winter?

There were more stalls across the road in the foreground of Custom's House.

I'm kicking myself for not buying some smoked garlic.  Supermarket garlic has been so underwhelming of late...

Cheese, glorious cheese.

These cones of cold meats and cheese had a special name which I've forgotten.

French praline made in front of you.

More crepes and more Nutella.

The rillettes stall was fascinating to watch. Multiple cast iron pans simmering away, bread and cheese being grilled on the sidelines.  The team were working with military precision to keep it all cooking briskly before serving up to the long lines of hungry punters that stretched across the footpath.

There were trays of perfectly glossy eclairs.  If I wasn't already so full, I'd have snapped one up.  Good old chocolate, the OG eclair topping would've been my pick.

Those nozzled bottles hanging upside down at the hot dog stall are a pretty nifty way to dispense ketchup and mustard, don't you think?  Wonder if I could arrange something similar in my kitchen.  That way I'd never again fall prey to that bit of ketchup that gets propelled onto my top every time I try to tap the bottom of an almost empty bottle to get those last dregs out.

Did you celebrate Bastille Day or the French World Cup victory? 

Are you still celebrating, perhaps...

Jul 16, 2018

Life This Week 16/7/2018: What Is Courage?

Courage feels and looks beautiful.

Courage is hitting rock bottom or seeing that worst fear materialise and then living to see the next day and the day after that. Often the days are filled with nothing fancy, special or heroic but the very fact that breaths are being taken and feet are being placed in front of each other is enough.

Courage is doing things that scare you as often as you can.

Courage is holding your head high and not being afraid of being different in how you look or think.

Courage is taking the plunge and knowing that you'll swim, not sink.

Courage is putting the past behind you and looking forward to bigger and better things.

Courage is exploring new places as a solo traveller.  A fun kind of courage to have, I find.

Courage is stepping out of your comfort zone.

Courage is putting the pieces back together no matter how painful the process may be. 

Courage is learning new things.

Courage is embracing the unscripted and the imperfect.

Courage is not fearing solitude because in this world, you never are truly alone.

Courage is letting go and setting free.


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