Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Valentine's!

Now I know a lot of people nowadays just think Valentines is a money making scheme to which there is some truth in it.

But personally, I think it's a great day just to take time out and say, "I think you are a very special person" :)

This year was no different to last year. I whipped up Thai Red Duck Curry for Leng for a special home cooked Valentine's dinner. The only difference was that I am back to working full time this year so we only sat down to dinner at about 7.30pm (I hate Melbourne traffic-argh!!!).

I got my Valentine gift a week before. If you don't know Leng, he can't keep surprises! He just wants to give them to me straightaway! I had to BEG him to not keep asking me to open my Christmas presents under the tree!! Finally, we compromised - I opened 1 of the 4 boxes BEFORE Christmas.

But back to February 14th. I got the most darling oval Le Creuset cast iron pot in the colour Dune which I had been eyeing for awhile now from Leng plus 2 red roses. Odd, I thought. I'd never gotten just 2 stalks...but apparently it was to signify "you and I"....awww....

Red duck curries aside, I hope you had a romantic Valentines. It doesn't need to be an expensive dinner out in town. It can be a simple home cooked meal interrupted intermittently with a romantic slow dance to Al Green's "I'm so in love with you" in your dining room :)

NB: This post could not have happened without the boy who pre-aerated the red wine, lit all the candles he could find scattered about the apartment, set the mood with crooner Al Green in the background, ran down the road to buy the roasted duck and cooked the rice. Thank you! I am a very lucky girl indeed! xox

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Looking For a Wedding Photographer?

I thought I'd write a quick post with regards to my wedding photographer.

His name is Harvard. And he is quirky. And I love that about him!

When I was surfing the web for a photographer (or a photojournalist for those in the know!), *I knew straightaway that I wanted a photographer that could blog, take vintage-y pictures but most importantly, I wanted to avoid those mainstream photographers that went by the hour and had an entourage of an assistant plus a guy carrying this large reflector thing (think bendy-front-car-window-sun-blocker-thingy).

Our initial coffee meeting with him lasted for more than an hour!

And my emails to him consisted of where one would find the best ramen and coffee in Melbourne Town.

Yes, he was The One indeed :)

We had our engagement shoot with him yesterday. Leng and I didn't know what to expect but we knew we had 2 hours with him.

2 hours turned into the entire afternoon which ended up with the 3 of us downing ciders on a roof top bar, on a hot Melbourne afternoon.

The shoot turned out to be more like...a date! An outing with friends. Harvard was so easy going it was like we had hired a friend to take pictures of us whilst we chatted and traipsed around Melbourne Town.

We have yet to see the pictures but I have a good feeling about them. Which is always good!

So, if you are looking for a photographer cum foodie cum instant friend...look none the further.

Harvard Wang (based in Melbourne but apparently will travel for pictures. And good food!)

And this is his travelogue on his recent trip to Japan. I simply adore his blogging style!

*It is odd what you discover about oneself when prepping for one's own nuptials. I definitely lack the crazy-wedding-prep-gene. Yes, I want to get married and live happily ever after with Leng but no, I do not care for chair covers, colour themes and what dress I will be wearing! I certainly had more fun meeting up with Harvard versus buying my dress. Leng and I enjoyed our pre-marriage education weekend much more than having to choose a reception venue. I suspect we are more about the marriage versus the wedding itself...

** These are the initial set of pictures which piqued my interest and as they say, rest was history.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jamie's Syd-deh-nee!!!

Sorry but I have been a tad bit MIA...

Blame the long, summer days I say. Light till 8.30-9pm is truly amazing. One can dine outdoors, go for a post-prandial walk, or watch telly till dusk plonked the couch next to the wide, opened balcony doors whilst the cool, evening breeze wafts in.

Either way, I've been busy just partaking in life. And enjoying Summer :)

But this little piece of news rocked my world. A little slow to the party but I got there nonetheless. The Sydneysiders have finally got one above us Melburnians. Actually, they've got Quay and yes, they've got a few more but I would definitely just get on a flight just to try Jamie's Italian.

Get your palates there stat!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Just Off The Topic...iiNet's Freezone

I do hope the end of the year finds everyone well. I myself cannot believe this year is coming to an end...where does the time go???

But I just wanted to write a quick post on well, a little of everything. And believe it or not, nothing culinary related.

First up, internet connection.

If you are reading this on your laptop, then you most certainly already have internet connection in your abode (unless you have managed to figure out your neighbours Wi Fi password!). But a super, duper quick, easy-to-read-bill coupled with fabulous customer service is what I am looking for in my internet connection company and I must say, iiNet provides all 3 and more!

When I was searching for a new internet company earlier this year (I have never researched this before this as I was always privileged enough to have male housemates that did it for me!), I knew iiNet was the way to go because that was what the house was using before. Despite it's pricier menu when compared to it's competitors, what attracted me most was it's contract-less nature and ease of setting it up. Additionally, the package came with VoiP.

If you don't know what the latter is, well, shame on you. It's basically a phone line (yes, you get an actual phone home number, often beginning with an 8 here in Victoria) whereby all you do is purchase the cheapest cordless handset (I got a Uniden for a mere $25 and gosh, they are 100% better than those Panasonics!!!!) and literally plug it into the phone socket.

VoiP uses your internet data and allows you to make calls to national landline numbers for virtually nothing. Think Skype. So why would you need VoiP you ask? Well, it permits you to own a "landline" phone number as a means of contact, lest you did not want to give out your private mobile number.

But what I really wanted to shout out from the mountain tops is that iiNet also has this thing called Freezone and I will literally cut and paste what it is: "The iiNet Freezone is a selection of sites and servers on the internet that you can download from, without it counting towards your monthly quota. Better still, if you do max out your quota, downloads from anywhere in the Freezone can still be accessed at full speed".

If there is a reason why I am watching less telly, it's because I am glued instead to ABC iView and You Tube. Better still, my laptop is portable which means I get to watch Nigella's Feasts whilst hanging the laundry outside, sitting on the throne inside, cooking in the kitchen plus the all-fabulous whilst lying in bed before I go to sleep (and yes, my laptop has accidentally fallen from the bed because of the latter!).

If you are a fan of Grand Designs and it's catchy opening tune plus Restoration Home and Country House Rescue, you might want to check this out. You can also catch Alan Kohler with all his witty latest financial news on Inside Business (remember when he wore glasses???). The fabulous thing about it is that is not only free fiscally, but also advertisement free and you can fast forward, pause and re-play!!!

I cannot believe I have written an entire post about this but I think it is something worth sharing. Watching Nigella whip up her Strawberry Cloud Cake whilst I am washing my hair in the shower is definitely worth raving about :):)

NB: Goodness, no, I was not paid by iiNet for penning this post. I wish I was though...:)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Piri Piri Chicken & Dressed Potatoes (JO's 30 Minute Meals)

With salsa music playing the background, Leng and I whipped up a weekday night dinner of Jamie's Piri Piri chicken and dressed sweet potatoes. It was decided on a whim and before you could say "let me take out the chook from the freezer" we had already made the piri piri sauce in the Magimix!

VERDICT: 8.5/10 The sauce tasted just like what you get from Nando's!!! Amazing! Because we grilled it on the Weber and then continued to bake it in there instead of the oven, we also got the fabulous grilled/bbq flavour.

The only thing I would change next time would be to perhaps add a bit of sugar as the sauce was beautifully sour. This would probably aid in the chicken getting a sticky, glazed appearance too.

Recipe here

Leng made the potatoes and it was really easy! Jamie uses the microwave for the first time in his career on his cooking shows to make this rustic mash.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sewing Tute: How to Make Easy Burpees

Now, let me first start by saying that no...there is no bun in the oven please. I am not even married (yet!).

Before I purchased my sewing machine, of course I did the right thing and researched on the Internet the things I could make with it. And one finds very quickly that baby/children things are in abundance. They are not only easy to make but can be very forgiving which is handy for beginners like myself.

I am slowly being surrounded by procreating women and these *burpees not only make wonderful, personalised baby shower gifts but also serves as an excellent first project for the beginner sewer.

So here is my step-by-step of how to make a burpee. I just combed the Internet for tutes and combined it all to make it my version.

*burpees aka burp coths: just like other humans, babies love watching the world go by and enjoy being propped up against the shoulder. But like every other baby, they do drool and have the occasional spit up. These are just prettier versions of the terry towel or whatever mothers use nowadays to protect their shoulders!

1)Start out by cutting your cloth into 30cm x 45 cm pieces.

As you can see from my picture, I cut the flannel a little larger than the muslin. I find that easier for me for some reason. The excess I will trim off later.

I had planned to use muslin for the top and flannel for the bottom as I've read that real life mothers have claimed that flannel seems to adhere better to a clothed shoulder and doesn't tend to slip off.

Just bear in mind that you want something soft for the top fabric (think of those chubby cheeks!) but also absorbent enough.

*Do invest in a pair of specialised cloth cutting scissors. I was reluctant at first but Leng talked me out of it and this $20 dollar pair cuts through cloth like butter! Definitely a must buy for all beginner sewers!

2) Iron your fabric out. This step is essential for beginners. It just makes life simpler!

*My ironing board cover says, "IRONING BORED" :):)

3) Place your fabric correct sides together (as you will be turning these inside out later on).

4) Pin the 2 pieces of fabric together, making sure you leave a gap of 7-8 cm on one side. This is the gap where you will be putting your hand in to turn the burpee inside out.

Picture of my pinned gap. The pins are essential for the beginner as you will find out!
Just be sure to remove the pins as you sew! Some machines come with a presser foot that allows you to sew directly on top of pins but I don't think my little machine can.

5) Sew right round with a simple, straight stitch (I used the Number 2 on my machine), but remember to NOT sew the gap which we pinned out earlier.

I normally start at one end of the gap and go right round to the other end of the gap. Remember to BACKSTICH (You Tube this) on starting and ending. I think this is so your entire burpee doesn't end up unravelling at the seams!

6) Cut away any excess cloth.

7) Clip all 4 corners. Just don't clip them too close to the seam. This is before...

And this is afters....

And why do we clip them you ask? To get a lovely looking corner! :)

You can aid your corners further by using the blunt end of a chopstick or eraser on the end of a pencil to gently push the corners out. It really does make a difference!

9) The final step is to iron out your burpee and tuck the excess fabric in at the gap and then topstitch all round the burpee, remembering again to backstitch at the start and end (sorry but I didn't take any pictures here!)

Tadaa!! And you have a burpee! This is my first ever burpee and I made it under 20 minutes!

Here is my complete set! I had originally wanted to give them out as Xmas presents but babies grow up so quickly that there might not be any use for them when I gift them!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Brother Sewing Machine XL 2220

I thought I'd do a quick review seeing there is more than one woman out there on the brink of wanting to experiment with a sewing machine. Please however take this review with a pinch of salt because I have only used the machine to sew ONE thing (a burpee!!! Tutorial on that coming up real soon!).

There are MILLIONS of sewing machines out there and I was told by a fashion designer friend that Singers and Janomes were the way to go. Also, she advised that I wouldn't be needing one with an overlocker function (whatever that was!).

But when I saw Spotlight having a sale on this particular Brother machine, I knew it was the one. I read up a couple of reviews and it was nothing but good. Please bear in mind that I was after a Beginner's Sewing Machine and I knew that I wasn't going to venture into the sewing-my-own-dresses realm. More like sewing-small-projects-as-a-hobby kinda thing.

I've decided to dot point out why I have fallen in love with my sewing machine. Hope this helps you ladies out there trying to search for The One of your own :)

1) It's lightweight and compact.

Some reviews say plasticky machines are not great but for I love it that I can just plop it wherever I like. Think iMac versus Macbook get the picture :)

It's small enough to just sit in the corner of your table underneath it's cover and lightweight enough to move around the table without it being a hassle.

2) It's so easy to use.

This may apply to any machine you get but the manual it came with combined with a little bit of You Tubing prior and you are literally ready to go.

3) The price was right

This was the biggest factor.

I have to be honest here and say that I could as quickly fall OFF of the sewing bandwagon just as quickly as I fell ON it. In this current fiscal climate of ours, I am trying very hard not to waste not, want not (oddly contradicted by me purchasing this machine in the first place!).

But I was really eager to learn something new. I figured if I could sew up womens' perineums, I could just easily teach myself how to use a sewing machine!

So when I saw this machine on sale with a saving of $140 dollars, it was in the bag so to speak :)

I dragged Leng back to Spotlight for a second time and he not only carried around rolls of fabric for me but also scouted out these accessories: extra bobbins, pins and a dedicated cloth only pair of scissors which is essential!

I suggest buying fabric on special for your first few projects as invariably, the first few things you sew will be in lack for better words...kinda crappy. I found flannel on special for $1.30 a metre and Leng requested I make him a pair of pyjama pants so we also got elastic waist bands and the cream coloured velcro are for potential baby bibs :)

My machine comes with 3 buttonhole sewing thingys and 10 different kind of stitches which I thought was sufficient for me. Just make sure you can sew buttonholes on yours too.

I love the little focused light!

It comes with a very lightweight, non-cumbersome pedal which can be easily stored away when not in use.

That little triangular piece you see next to the on/off button is the backstitch button. The sewing world has an entire new language and after awhile you will figure out what words like "bobbins, foot press and backstitch" are!

You can see how much thread you have left on your bobbin through the clear plastic.

The machine has a little accessories drawer which contained all of these in that white pouch. I have NO idea what they are meant for besides the extra 3 bobbins.