Friday, 25 May 2012

Ain't that the truth

I want to hang this on my wall as a reminder...

I love it. If only everyone lived like this there would be much less self esteem issues in the world.

L x

Friday, 18 May 2012

Sooki the Contortionist

Our pup Sooki is such an odd sleeper. Why does she sleep like this? How on earth does she get into these positions?

Too cute for words...

L x

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Our perfect weekend in Orange

(I have been drafting this post for weeks now.. adding things in my head and editing as I go and it has taken me forever but finally, it is finished!)

Our weekend away in Orange was absolutely spectacular! We decided to go to Orange when my brother had to complete a 5 week stint for his physiotherapy practicals for university. I have always been interested in regional Australia and even more so now that I work with Councils all over NSW. I did some research and discovered that it was FOOD Week while the bro was there, so we knew exactly when we wanted to go.

Accommodation in Orange is rather limited and after emailing 12 options and having no luck... I contacted Black Sheep Inn. Their prices were a little more expensive than I had originally wanted to spend but when they emailed back and said they had one room left, I knew it was meant to be. Our room also had a spare single bed included which meant that the bro could stay with us while we were in town. 

Work was really busy in the lead up to our road trip so unfortunately I didn't get much time to plan, but K and I set out early on Friday 20 April and after a short stop in Leura for brunch we had made it to 'Australia's Colour City'. 

The main street was not at all like I imagined - much bigger as well, however the back streets were beautiful with autumn leaves on all the trees. We quickly realised why Orange is called the Colour City. 

We stopped at Duntryleague Golf Course for lunch which was lovely and on the most beautiful grounds and the sun was shining. By the time I had finished a second glass of red wine, I was feeling quite relaxed and excited about the weekend ahead. 

We continued on to Black Sheep Inn and as we parked in the gravel stone driveway, we were warmly greeted by Helen, the manager. She was absolutely charming and even remembered our names from the brief email exchange and short phone call we had a few weeks earlier. She walked us through the property taking the time to explain the design and history of the place. The Inn has actually been converted from a 100 year old shearing shed to the luxury accommodation it is today. 

The inside has been respectfully restored and renovated and things such as the sheep chute (where the farmers used to kick the sheep down after shearing them) was still in tact - although not used for anything today thank goodness. 

(Image from Black Sheep Inn website)

The shearing clippers that used to hang from a beam on the roof has now been made into a winding snake of downlights that is directly over the beautiful wooden table used for breakfast for the B&B guests. 

The highlights are the corrugated metal walls, an original fire place and exposed timber all which synchronise perfectly making this place so cosy and inviting. We loved this place immediately. 

Our room was lovely with big heavy drapes covering the large window that looked right on to a beautiful tree outside the barn. The simple and modern style of the rooms is complete with all the creature comforts of home, such as a pristine clean ensuite, electric blankets and comfy beds. Another highlight was definitely Helen's home made pecan biscuits which she left fresh every day for the B&B guests to enjoy. They were amazing. 

After the short tour of our new digs (for the next two nights anyway), we collapsed on the bed, already exhausted from the early start, long drive and maybe one too many wines at lunch. 

Later that evening the brother arrived and after much excitement and lots of catching up, we called a taxi into town for a bite to eat and a night at the pub to watch the Kangaroos vs the Kiwis NRL game. I think K was the only one supporting the Kiwis in the entire pub. It is here that I had my first glass of Printhie wine... I will explain more later. When I thought it was time to call it a night (it was midnight after all), the boys spotted strobe lights coming from a bar across the road and before I knew it we were on the dance floor of the local pub turned nightclub. Heaven help us. 

The barman made us a few special concoctions (which turned out to be fire engines with vodka). The DJ played a few too many Tim McGraw tunes. The ratio of males to females was blindingly obvious. 

At 3am I had definitely had enough and took myself back to our accommodation alone (not the smartest idea I have ever had) and fell asleep, only to be woken 30 minutes later by two intoxicated males. They both collapsed - one onto the single bed and the other onto the floor, before my alarm went off to let us know it was nearly time for Helen's big brekkie at the communal dining table. Rise and shine boys!! Had the brother not been so hungover, I know he would have enjoyed the food as much as I did!

Helen made a beautiful breakfast of poached eggs with roast tomatoes and wilted spinach (remembering that I didn't eat red meat so she left the bacon off mine). 

Outside, the day was beautiful with a blue sky and warm weather. After breakfast, K and I made a quick visit to the cows so that K could feed them some grass like he used to do when he was a kid in New Zealand. Cows are hilarious. They are so huge and when you go near them they just stand and stare - I love their big dark eyes and long eyelashes.

K and I headed into Orange to check out a few things before our guided tour started with Simmo's Offroad Tours. The brother went straight back to bed to nurse his hangover. 

I found the most beautiful store called Iglou on Anson Street and if we had more time and weren't on a strict budget I could have gone bonkas in this store. So many original pieces and things that I don't usually find on my shopping trips in Sydney. 

We grabbed some lunch and headed back to wake the brother from his slumber and get ready for our wine tour. Simmo arrived at 1pm and we set off on our journey. He was a wonderful tour guide and listened to our requests as well as offered advice for some of the favourite hot spots in the area. First stop was Printhie Winery and OMG was it the best choice I had made all weekend. Following on from my minimal research of the region, Printhie came up a few times in my internet searches and after tasting my first glass of Printhie the night before at the pub we made it our first stop on the tour. Mr Swift himself (owner) was working the cellar door and he was lovely - talking about the winery and the family business for about an hour. We left with a whole case of wine instead of a few bottles and clambered back into Simmo's 4WD for the next stop - Molong Gelato Factory. YUM! Well worth a visit if you are ever in the area.

After Molong we drove to the top of Mount Canobolas which is the highest mountain in the central tablelands. Apparently - if the earth was flat with no mountains/buildings etc in the way, and our eyes could actually see the distance, you could see as far as Perth! The view was spectacular and far reaching... Bathurst, Dubbo and Parkes were all in sight. 

Back in the 4WD and off to Ross Hill winery. There was an enormous event that was going on for FOOD Week and while we were not fans of the wines, the atmosphere was fantastic. We did have limited time here because one of other preferences was to see Phillip Shaw Winery and as it was getting closer to 5pm (when our tour was supposed to conclude) so we had to hurry. 

Let's just saw, we are sooooo glad we managed to fit in Phillip Shaw into our tour and much of that is because of the stunning location. It had such a wonderful family feel to it with kids running around and two gorgeous dogs (Sophie the staffy was my favourite) roaming in and out of the family home.

Phillip's son was assisting our wine tasting and one of my favourite wines was called The Architect - as it turned out it was a chardonnay. I thought I hated chardonnay so I think its safe to say that they converted me. By the time we finished at Phillip Shaw, the sun was setting over the hills and it just totally topped off a perfect day. 

Simmo offered to take our case of wine back to our accommodation and then drop us into town for dinner and he recommended the Union Bank Wine Bar. Wow. Stunning food once again... particularly for me as I had the Spinach, mushroom & ricotta rotolo with pine nut & sage beurre noisette and both the boys had total food envy. 

Exhausted... we headed back to Black Sheep Inn for an early night after such a mammoth day. 

When we woke up on Sunday morning, Helen had again cooked a delicious meal for us. This time it was fresh pears with yoghurt and lemon custard (like what goes inside a lemon tart)... 

The second course was polenta with asparagus, mushroom and capsicum kisses with gorgonzola jus. Wow. This woman can cook. Its meals like this and accommodation like Black Sheep Inn which make a weekend like this so perfect. 

After breakfast we had to pack up and head back to Sydney so K could play footy that afternoon. Boo. 

The time we spent in Orange was so wonderful and it great to hang out with the bro. We will definitely be going back in the not so distant future for FOOD Week again in April 2013, so we can do the Forage which everyone raved about! We will hopefully stay at the Black Sheep Inn again and we will try and squeeze in another tour with Simmo (click here to see our reviews about Simmo's Offroad Tours). 

I highly recommend a weekend away in Orange. Just beautiful. 

L x

In the Navy...

K's brother joined the Royal Australian Navy about a year ago and we could not be prouder of him. He has worked so hard over the past year and recently he was posted to HMAS Waterhen in Waverton, North Sydney. 

On ANZAC Day a few weeks ago, he marched for the first time in the ANZAC Parade through Sydney. 

We went to support him and show how proud we were of his achievements. I had tears in my eyes all morning, knowing that he has made a brave decision to represent his country.

ANZAC Day is one of my favourite days. I feel so proud to be Australian and this is amplified ten fold on this special day. 

Something hilarious also happened on our way home from the march... as we arrived at Central Station, he was ambushed by a coup of young Asian girls who ALL wanted photos with him. So funny. Cheezu!!! His mug is being flashed around Hong Kong high schools as we speak. 

He looked so professional and proud in his uniform, so I am not surprised really! Too funny. 

So proud of you Lee. Lots of love. 

L x

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Goodbye family home... hello new digs!

As I explained a few weeks ago, my parents recently sold their house at auction. It was a very sad time as this has been our family home for about 15 years. Anyway, we got a great price, made an offer on another and hey presto... the process begins.

Only, this has been the a terrible time for them and it has far exceeded their worst nightmare. 

The house that my parents purchased has been plagued with drama for the entire selling/buying process and came with issues such as termites, dodgy carpet, bad plumbing and finally a caveat on the property meaning settlement kept getting delayed! Great.

On the upside, the person that bought our home gave us 4 weeks longer (in which we would have been renting our home from him), meaning 14 May was final move out day for us.Very generous of him because moving an entire family home is a mammoth task. 

However, as a result of all the drama with the house we were buying, the settlement fell over 4 times!! Its apparently pretty rare for a settlement to fall through once, then a second time is generally unheard of. As I said... 4 times... I was worried it was going to send them into a mental institution. It turns out the person who purchased our home was not happy about the settlement being cancelled so many times and although it was never our fault that the settlement kept falling through, he decided to cancel his decision to let us rent from him, meaning we had to be out on settlement day. 

On Tuesday afternoon last week, we got word that the caveat was lifted, settlement was booked in for 2.30pm on Thursday and... my parents had less than 48 hours to get out of their house! 

For most of last week, I was off work and by Tuesday evening, I was ready to get my hands dirty and to say goodbye to our family home. The next 48 hours were hellish and included a variety of unusual moving tactics like parking the two full removalist trucks on the side of road as we had no access to our new home to deliver the furniture and also stacking the additional furniture that couldn't fit in the two trucks, on our neighbours front law! Nightmare.

My parents are now moved in and settled in their new home which felt like it would never happen. The pups are so happy with their new digs and have been exploring like mad as the backyard of our new home is much bigger than the old one.

As you can see, they were exhausted by Saturday afternoon. 

From now on, every time I buy and sell a house I will always remember that it can never be quite as stressful as it has been for my parents over the past month. We didn't even have time to get emotional about moving out of our old place. So glad its done now. I don't think they will sell again for a very long time.

L x

Experiencing Jamie's Italian

Last week, I went to Jamie's Italian at 107 Pitt Street Sydney, which is the newest restaurant of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. 

We were escorted to our table upstairs which was in the front corner, away from the hustle bustle of the kitchen and for the next two hours, we had a lovely time, gossiping about the office and enjoying some delicious food!

All in all, I really liked the ambience of the place and the service was fantastic. Everyone at my table really liked their meals which is always a good sign.

We were given the Italian Bread Selection (on the house) and we also ordered the Italian Nachos and the Smoky Scamorza Arancini (yum) to share.

I enjoyed the Pumpkin Panzerotti and found it fresh and tasty and the parcels soft and airy.

(These iPhone images are not doing these meals justice at all. Sorry!)

Other meals at my table included buffalo ricotta ravioli (which was apparently nice but a little too lemony), turbo penne arrabiatta, veal saltimbocca and the osso bucco milanese. 

(Osso Bucco Milanese)

(Veal Saltimbocca)

We were able to make a reservation for our group of eight which was really helpful. The restaurant doesn't take bookings for groups smaller than six which means you have to wait outside for a table to become available (not so pleasant at this time of year in Sydney)! We were in and out within two hours which is perfect for a work lunch and being so centrally located was a bonus too.

I would recommend it to others as the food, service and ambience were really well done! Anyone else tried Jamie's Italian?

L x