Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Bramble Patch

Google and I have been getting very close lately in my plans for my sister's hens night, my wedding and my research for our mini break in Stanthorpe.

Subsequently in my hours of googling Stanthorpe and its attractions, I came across this website:

My parents actually visited the Bramble Patch a few weeks ago but didnt really give me any details other than that it was a jam/chutney produce place and worth a visit - they were too busy raving about the wines and wineries visited.

Now a little known secret about S outside of close friends and family is that he has a severe and serious addiction to condiments! That's right, chutneys, marmalades, sauces, spices, dukkahs etc. Our pantry and shelves are jampacked with condiments from farmers markets, supermarkets and anywhere S can source them.

If you check out the Bramble Patch website, it looks like a condiment lovers' idea of heaven to me and I'm sure it will be S favourite place in Stanthorpe, I just have some concerns about how we will transport all S' purchases home.

Too be honest though, it is an addiction I kind of enjoy and I have already made a list of items to purchase from the Bramble Patch website - beginning with the red onion marmalade, berry coulis, berry vincotta, spicy tomato & shiraz & tom/basil sauces, tomato kassoundi, lime pickle and fortified wines.

I think our little break to Stanthorpe is going to be any expensive one when I factor in visits to the Bramble Patch and 8 wineries.

Hens Night Dares

Google is my very best friend :) (I hope M & C don't read this, they wont be impressed with that statement).

For my sister's hens night, I plan to have a goodie bag for each guest (filled with ring pop lollies, candy lipstick & bracelets, pink ribbon merchandise and other little knick knacks) and include a dare to be completed in those goodie bags of the guests that are joining us at the nightclub after the formal celebrations.

Now it was actually kind of tricky to come up with dares for this group as I knew anything tacky would just be ignored and not completed (eg. collect a guy's phone number, get a guy to buy you a drink) thereby ending the game before it begins.

So after much googling, I snared a variety of dares from different hens sites:
• Collect one red sock
• Sing on a microphone or stand on a stage and sing
• Have a photo of yourself taken with a bartender
• Ask for someone’s autograph while pretending they are famous
• Have a photo of yourself taken behind a bar
• Collect a purple lighter
• Collect a man’s tie
• Have a photo of yourself taken with a bouncer
• Collect a taxi receipt
• Convince a man you used to be a guy
• Collect a business card from a stranger (cannot be a card from or associated with the nightclub)

• ‘Walk like an egyptian’ everytime someone says 'wedding'
• Walk around the nightclub with 2 pegs on your top, one on each shoulder
• Find and photograph the male equivalent of the Spice Girls: Scary, Sporty, Baby, Posh & Ginger

And my favourite,
• FOR THE BRIDE: Find someone old, someone new, someone borrowed and someone blue (can be a policeman or someone wearing blue) and have a photo with each.

I think these will be greeted by enthusiasm and an actual desire to complete them.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for dares?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Goodbye Parentals, Farmers Markets, Super Amart & Pommetini's at Cs

My Saturdays have grown very predictable since I discovered the Palm Beach Farmers Markets - it is almost a guarantee that you will find me there between 8am and 9:30am socialising with the other 20 people I know who go too.

I broke the routine up a little on saturday though by visiting my parents first to say Bon Voyage and wish them a safe journey. They departed on the Pacific Dawn for a South Pacific cruise on Saturday morning - their first cruise. S & I did this same very cruise last March and had one of the best holidays ever so I was full of encouragement and words of wisdom for them. It was an entertaining goodbye to say the least with my mum racing around the house freaking out because she was so unorganised (realised she hadnt packed a beach towel or any shoes but she had not one centimetre of room left in her suitcase). She then decided my pink Oroton handbag would go perfectly with her outfit and could I turn around,m go home and get it and while I was at it, bring my Spencer & Rutherford luggage set as she wanted to use it afterall despite us speaking the night before and her insisting she wouldn't need it. I told her to calm down and relax to which she replied a little wildly, 'I cant relax, I have ONE hour to be ready and I'm not' so I just laughed and went to chat to my dad you was relaxing with a coffee. After hugs and kisses, I departed on my way to the markets where I was due to meet my bestie M.

As usual, M was nowhere to be seen on my arrival so I did the rounds and picked up all my usual staples plus a couple of different items (trying out a Butter Chicken curry pack from the Spice Traders - all the spices are measured and just need to be ground up to make a delicious curry from scratch). I ran into C's dad at the Italian man (porcini ravioli, craem mushroom sauce, pancetta & mushroom pizza, fresh linguini mmmmnnnnn) and we had a quick catch up while I recounted my earlier morning with my parents and we both had a laugh about my mum (who are C's parents besties).

I finished up my shopping, packed everything in the car and M called to say she was a minute away so I headed back into the markets to meet her and do the rounds. N (C's sister and my friend) called while we were there to say she had seen my car in the lot and did we want to meet her, her husband N and their daughter T for a catchup so we wandered till we found them and shared a fresh golzeme (a crepey concoction with cheese & spinach). Finally we were done and time to go home ... and it was only 9am. So much achieved already!
Have you visited the Palm Beach Farmers Markets yet? You must! You won't regret it.

At home, S was busy cleaning (washing & vacuuming) so I packed away our produce and we decided to go to Super Amart to have a look at outdoor settings as we had been using C & L's but they needed it back for their new house that weekend. We tried out quite a few different seats (some are super uncomfortable and I can't believe anyone would buy them) and found a great setting that suited our patio perfectly in size, shape and colour for the low price of just $349. Of course we popped a deposit on and S will collect it on Friday. Ideally, I would love a huge square 8 to 10 seater table but our little patio is not up to something of that size.

Such a successful weekend thus far and we were only up to 11am.

Home again before a visit to the local supermarket for some staples then home again to marinate chicken wings for the evenings celebrations at C & L's new house.

More tidying (it never ends) then we were off to C & L's - just around the corner.

I couldn't believe what a great job they had done get everything moved in and settled within two days (C is dedicated like this, I remember from when we lived & moved together). Baby S was just thrilled to see us, as we were her and lots of cuddles, dancing and exclamations ensued. Baby S is so clever, at 14 months she is identifying and saying nose, mouth, eyes, people in photos and many other things.

Anyways, so C & L and S & I enjoyed a Saturday afternoon in the sunshine nibbling on antipasto treats I picked up at the markets while sipping Pommetinis and Coronas for the boys. When the weather turned cold, L pulled out a coal pit he bought that day for the occasion and we spent the evening warm and toasty talking rubbish till late.

The Heart of Queensland's Granite Belt

I have some super busy weekends ahead (mostly relating to my sis' wedding) which means I won't be spending a lot of quality time with S.
With this in mind, I decided we should go away for a night or weekend. Here came the hard part! Trying to decide where to go. I am over Byron Bay as a weekend destination given we spend around 2 weeks at Lennox Heads over Christmas and I absolutely despise the Gold Coast to Sunshine Coast drive for some reason. So where does that leave us?
Well, my parents, along with their besties (my bestie Cs parents) went to Stanthorpe for a weekend last month and came back raving about the place. Surrounded by wineries, apple farms, lavender farms and jamworks, this sounded like a lovely place to spend a weekend with S(apart from the freezing cold nights).
So based on the familial reviews, I have booked accommodation (with a wood fireplace) for Saturday night and two seats on a reputable wine tour - so neither of us need to be designated driver.
It will take us about 3 hours to get to Stanthorpe where we will check into our accommodation then will be collected by the tour company for a day of wineries (sounds like heaven I know). According to their confirmation email, we will tour around 6-8 wineries, enjoy lunch at one, visit some local producers (apple farm, lavender farm, Brambles Patch, the olive farm, cheese shop) and some of the other attractions. The following day I guess we will wander around and visit anything we missed the day before.
S and I are very excited for the weekend and are looking forward to spending some quality time together before the round of wedding related events start.
I will be sure to take lots of pics and post them and my adventures upon return from Stanthorpe.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Shopping for hen's night decorations

So as everyone knows from earlier posts, I am MH for my sister's wedding next month and as such, am in charge of planning the world's best hen's night - no pressure!

My original plan was to hire a luxury house at Sovereign Islands for the weekend and have a slumber party with cocktails, pampering, jet skiing, sunbaking etc but this was vetoed by my sis as being too expensive for me to cover (even though I was quite happy to).

So the plan was re-thought and I came up with an apartment in Broadbeach to host a mexican fiesta (think margaritas, sangria, mini enchiladas & a mexican dwarf to wait) with a '27 Dresses' dress code followed by bottle service at East.

With the mexican part in mind, my sis-in-law C and I set off to the local party store to source decorations - what a mine of fabulous bits and pieces including blow up cacti. See photos for just a sample of what we purchased.

We are now set for the occasion with spreadsheets, lists and schedule to map everything and ensure nothing slips through the cracks. It will be the event of the year - beaten only by the wedding of course!

Still stuck on plans for the morning of the hens though - I want to do something special with my sis before the festivities all start. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't sit under the apple tree

Saturday night was an evening of 1930's fun, dress and entertainment. See little bro J in the mood below (he was dinking like it was the 1930's too).

My surf club was celebrating its 75th anniversary last weekend and celebrated with a family fun day on Saturday and a 1930's themed gala dinner with authentic entertainment.

S and I dressed up in as close to 1930's style as we could find in our wardrobes - my outfit was made up of a Cue maroon Galaxy dress, back backseam stockings, red lippie and my granny's cream fur stole while S wore black slacks, white striped collared shirt, grey jacket and newsboy cap. Not a bad effort all up we thought. I also pinched N's cloche hat to complete my outfit after she had polished off a bottle of champagne and wasn't fit to argue it. S & my dad below.

N (my best friend & also C's big sister), organised the evening and did a brilliant job. The decorations were great, everyone dressed up and the event was a sellout!

Possibly the best part of the evening was the entertainment. Not sure if you have heard of them but we enjoyed music from The Andrews' Sisters tribute band. They dressed in traditional wartime costume and sung songs from the past including 'Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree'. People got up to dance and there was much laughter. My mother and brother J showed everyone up on the dance floor with their moves including a jive that no one could compete with.

My whole family was in attendance as well as many good friends so I enjoyed a wonderful night reliving the 1930's.

Lunch with baby S

Just found these photos and thought they were too cute not to share - baby S is such a poser!

C (baby S' mother), baby S and I were having lunch last Monday at the North Burleigh Surf Club right on the beach when I took these pics. As you can see, the weather was amazing.

The food wasn't bad either, we sipped an Extra Dry beer each (an old favourite of ours) and shared salt & pepper calimari on a bed of asian salad plus a caesar salad (with a proper poached egg, just the right amount of dressing and not too much lettuce) and we also gobbled some of baby S' chippies. Loved the chips - they had a seasoning that was just the same as the yummy Wet'n Wild seasoning if anyone knows what I am talking about :).

As the photo's show, baby S was most occupied with her straws, coasters and chips.

Such a lovely way to spend a Monday afternoon - wish I could do it more often.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Truffle Parmesan Fries, Envy, Titans & that's just Friday night!

So Friday night, my best friend M and I finally redeemed our raincheck for an after work drink in Broadbeach. You see, we were originally scheduled way back around the beginning of July (might even have been late June) for a drink after work at Moo Moos - because M lives in Broadbeach and I work in Broadbeach and neither of us has ever gotten around to a drink after work apart from at each other's homes. We had to raincheck the original date as S fell about 2 metres off some scaffolding that day and there were injury concerns that required us to spend a night in emergency with me holding his hand like a good fiancee.

As M is always late, I had time to duck home, get changed (black tights, Siren booties, paterned silk CR tunic & black scarf) and have S drop me back to Broadbeach, all before M had left work - honestly, I love her dearly but her time management skills in her personal life are severely lacking. So I headed to Moo Moos where we had agreed to meet (because I was craving their truffled parmesan shoestring fries) and received a call from her telling me she was just around the corner.

Unfortunately Moo Moos was super busy with no available bar tables so I suggested we check out Eny Hotel - just opened this week in Broadbeach after a massive renovation and new very modern fitout (it was previously a pub and attracted an older crowd or tradies but the fitout indicates to me they are going for a '30 something fashion crowd now).

We got seated, ordered a bottle of wine and had a lovely time catching up on all the latest happenings and people watching. We also enjoyed the yummiest turkish braed & dips (pesto, sundried tom tapenade and some sort of eggplant paste). Considering arranging a dinner here one night in the near future.

At about 8pm, we thought we had better grab something to eat before going home (M had to work Saturday morning) and M voted pizza so we enjoyed a slice each and hopped in a cab home.

Arriving home, S was watching the Titans vs Eels game so I changed into my tracksuit and settled into join him for the end of it. Wow, what a game! The Titans are truly a great team, just very inconsistent at the best of times but the second half of this game was easily one of their best.

As I posted on my little cousin's facebook (she is a dedicated Eels fan), 'the Hayne Plane crashed and burned with the whole Parra team on board'. LOL

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lunch at Totos

So Sunday dawned rainy and cold with hailstorms predicted - gotta love Melbourne weather!

All rugged up, we got moving and walked the length of Melbourne city from the Casino to Lygon St stopping to browse the Victoria Markets where I finally bought a pair of Uggs and J bought some Dunlops. Mum wanted to stroll up and down every aisle until K and I put a stop to it - we got sick of looking at the same 'crap' over and over again after a couple of hours.

Starving hungry we trekked to Lygon St for lunch and stopped at the first place we came to. Toto's claims the honour of being Australia's first pizza parlour and is a member of the Internation Pizza Hall of Fame. Good enough for me (despite that I had pizza on Friday night and Saturday lunch). The aromas of the restaurant were amazing - rich Italian smells and loads of garlic. The atmosphere was wonderful with a huge family party going on in the back of the restaurant.
We ordered an American pizza, a Mexican pizza and fettucine & penne with a creamy herbed chicken, fresh tomato and avocado sauce to share. I enjoyed a glass of chianti with my meal also. The food (and my wine) was delicious! Tasty and fresh, I can highly recommend this restaurant for a meal if you are down that way.

After a leisurely meal unwinding in the warmth, we braced the cold to walk the streets and head back to the hotel and collect our bags for the cab ride to the airport. Thankfully this cab did have the odour of the one from the night before!

A turbulent ride home and we were back on the Gold Coast by 6pm. No winter woolies needed here after experiencing the chill down South.
We must have walked a million miles over Saturday and Sunday because my legs were absolutely dead and aching by the time I got home Sunday night.

An early start, a freezing day & a frustrating end

Waking up at 4am on a Saturday morning is never fun so I was not a happy camper last Saturday morning when S dropped me to the airport - it was still black and despite a shower, my eyes still felt sleepy and gritty.

Fast forward through an uneventful flight to Melbourne with my mum, sis K & littlest bro J during which I slept fitfully and we're at Tullamarine airport. Freezing and grey, it was pretty much what I expected and dressed for (grey wool jumper dress with black singlet & tights underneath, black scarf, black ballet flats and a heavy wool Topshop coat).

We delivered our bags to the hotel (Crown Promenade) and decided to take J on a tour of the sights (he has never been to Melbourne). We walked through the Casino and settled at one of the cafes for a ham, cheese and tomato croissant and coffees (fresh squeezed juice for me as I dont drink hot drinks). K and I wanted to get our shopping out of the way so mum and J joined us on walking to South Wharf DFO to hunt some bargains. J ended up finishing better here than us with mum spoiling him rotten (he's the baby so we are all guilty of this). I left with a new Cue tailored blazer for $89 and a pair of long Peter Alexander bedshorts for S (just $15).

Following our DFO visit , we headed back to our hotel room to drop off our bags before venturing along Southbank into the City. We had decided on DJ's foodhall for lunch and finally finding it after much wandering and the distraction of Haighs (love the coconut roughs). Unfortunately the DJs foodhall was too tricky an option as K is on a gluten-free diet so we found a tiny little Italian restaurant in one of the cafe alleyways for lunch. It was called Olios ??? and was tucked away with some rustic little decor including stainless steel strainers, mismatched cutlery and wine served in water tumblers. J & I had pizza (I know, I was overdosing on pizza after having it for dinner Friday night), mine was a quattro formagi (sp?) with brie, fetta, mozzarella and parmesan with fresh basil and tomatoes. K had hot chips with aoli (after all that) and mum had bruschetta. Delicious meal and then were were off again to find markets and explore more of the City.

After much wandering and a visit to the Melbourne gaol (see pic of J below walking on the fake grass), we decided to head back to the hotel for in-room happy hour and to prep for an early dinner before Mary Poppins. We picked up a bottle of Giesen, a selection of cheese and crackers and a few beers for J and settled back in the room to gossip and laugh while debating our dinner options.

We decided on the steak restaurant in Crown for dinner but they dont take bookings and we were informed at the door there was an hour wait for a table (at 5:30pm). Grrrr. Turns out the Pies and Carlton played that day plus the Wallabies and All Blacks were playing that night so the Crown was at capacity. We were directed to a restaurant within the sportsbar and were lucky enough to nab the final table. The staff were very accommodating and served us quickly after we advised of our theatre booking. J and I both had a huge rump steak served with diane sauce and french fries, mum had the T-bone and K had vegies and a baked potato. Including drinks, the meal was only about $130 for 4, the food was great and the servings huge!

My strange sister felt that the theatre was only a short walk from the Casino and wanted to take a stroll but was overruled when we showed her a map of the distance :) We were deposited at the theatre rapidly and spent the time before the show queuing for merchandise to add to the Broadway stock we already have.

The Show ... Mary Poppins was just magical! The actors were fabulous, truly suited to their parts and you just couldn't have hoped for a better lead than Verity Hunt-Ballard. She was Mary Poppins to a T and certainly did justice to the role - she looked and sounded the part. What surprised me was the inclusion of Marina Prior. I had no idea she was in the cast and was absolutely thrilled as she is one of my faves (loved her in Phantom). My sister and I agreed that she just stole the show everytime she was onstage as Winifred Banks.

People, I must absolutely insist ... RUN dont walk to see the show! If you love Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews or just good theatre, you will not be disappointed.

K, my mother and J were thrilled to have seen the show and did not stop singing its praises the whole way home - which unfortunately was by way of the most foulest smelling taxi I have ever been in! It was after 10:30pm and utterly freezing yet we had to have all the passenger windows down in order to breath. We were relieved to arrive back at the Casino and decided to enjoy a drink before heading to our room for bed - we were all exhausted having been on the go since 4am.

This is where the frustration began ... you could not move in the casino! Every single bar was at least 6 deep of people waiting to order drinks and we were shoved and jostled mercilessly. In the end, we gave up due to mine and K's sore feet and decided to hit up the mini bar instead. I think we were all dead to the world by 12pm (after K and I made quick goodnight phone calls to our fiancees - both at the pub).

Sunday update to come...

My Friday (last week)

It's been a busy week so I am only just getting around to posting my last week and Melbourne updates - slack I know.

So I enjoyed a day off Friday to get on top of the housework seeing as how I wouldn't be home Saturday & Sunday. It was a productive morning with attending my sister's final wedding dress fitting followed by brunch at the Ferry Road Markets (BEST CHEESE SOUFFLES EVER with roasted cherry toms & wilted spinach nom nom nom - I will get a photo next time) and then the cleaning, grocery shopping and an abundance of washing all actioned.

S arrived home just before 1pm and it all went down hill. He had a job interview at 2pm and no shirt ironed, new suit pants not hemmed etc. I got busy hemming while he ironed (he's much better at this than me). He then decided he wanted me to come to the interview with him ... what difference me waiting in the car made I will never know but to keep his spirits positive, I went along for the ride on the condition he would take me out for a Friday afternoon drink afterwards.

The interview was exceptionally quick and next thing we were settled at the Mermaid Tavern for a beer in the sunshine. Schooner of New for him and a pot of Extra Dry for me if you were wondering - I'm just not a Pure Blond or low carb beer lover (horrible after taste). We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon and had a little flutter on the Spring Carnival poker machine (S' favourite). The good news is, for a $1 bet, I won about $100 which more than paid for our afternoon's entertainment.

We picked up movies on the way home (Green Zone & Valentine's Day) and homemade pizza ingredients and settled in for a quiet night at home considering the 4am start for Saturday in order to get me to the airport on time.