My Birthday

Take me back 5 years ago and my birthday meant everything to me! It wasn’t just a day, oh no! It was at least a whole weekend if not pushing it out to a week. Well, when you had as many friends as I did you needed to organise a few more dinners to fit everyone one in to celebrate you turning another year older!

This year was different though. The two months leading up to my birthday were filled with sadness and loss. My mum got diagnosed with cancer and my husband got made redundant. This all happened a few weeks before Christmas and was a big blow to the emotions and wallet!

Over Christmas we had an amazing time and although didn’t go as lavish as we usually would have, still had wonderful food, plenty of drinks and were surrounded by people we love dearly! New year’s came and went and I hurt my neck.

So when I was asked by hubby what I would like to do for my birthday I truly had no need or want to do anything. I am a pretty homely body as it is but this year I just didn’t feel like celebrating!

Luckily for me I have wonderful friends and family who jeered me up.

Walking into my office I found my desk covered in balloons and posters of cakes pined up on my walls! I even had gifts!

It is the responsibility of the birthday girl/boy to provide the cake for morning tea. I understand why they do this it’s so no-one’s birthday is forgotten! Being as I am not a baker and hubby isn’t working I thought he may take the roll of making my cake. Alas, no…..he would not make my cake as he was busy working hard in our back yard. I did opt for a packet mix for the cake base itself but made the icing and decorated it to boot!

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Needless to say after the chocolate coating covered in marshmallows and raspberry flavoured M’n’M’s and the filling being white chocolate, my colleagues were flying high for a good couple of hours!

V decided we had to go for a drink after work so I had luckily planned it with hubby that he would drop me to work and then come back in and be my chauffer.

We were tossing up between the Reserve Wine Bar a newish establishment opened up in the Mall of Newcastle or Les Passe Temp, a French inspired bar/restaurant located at the end of Hunter Street.

Being as someone we used to work with was behind the opening of the Reserve Wine Bar I decided I should go and check it out!

Being as V and hubby were both driving we were taking it easy. V and I opted for the well-mannered Rose, to the nose you got great smells of strawberries and watermelon. On the palate the wine was delicate and slightly dry, with great berry notes and a hint of melon. Delicious to say the least! B went for a Founders Brewing All Day IPA which was really fruity smelling and tasting. He enjoyed it but was only allowed one as driving!

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We ordered the specials to share as well which were the mushroom aranchini balls and lamb empanadas. Unfortunately, we were starving at this point and I completely forgot to take photos. HOWEVER, they were delicious and went down a treat.

I highly recommend a trip to Reserve Wine Bar. Don’t expect your bill to be small but do expect to be wowed by the interior, the serve and knowledge everyone had and the table serve to boot.

Hubby had gone ahead and booked us a table at Pauls Asian Affair. We well renowned restaurant in New Lambton that we had been to a few years ago. We got there and I ordered a Traminer-Riesling. Working in the wine industry I did begrudge paying $28 for a bottle of Rosemount wine when you can buy it for under $10 but this was the cheapest on the menu and the rest were even more absurd!

We opted for a prawn toast to start and a nice big bowl of delicious prawn crackers, not overly Thai inspired but still hit the spot! For the mains we opted for a fried rice, crispy fried chicken with a hot sweet and sour sauce and spicy sate pork.

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We were so full that we didn’t manage to get through half of it but luckily for us we are able to take home both unfinished food and wine! So that was a plus point!

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I recommend Pauls Asian Affair for somewhere with great food and fast table service, but don’t go there to enjoy wine. You will just end up bankrupt!

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4 Years Married

Last weekend hubby and I celebrated our 4th year wedding anniversary. We weren’t sure what we were going to do for it but that all changed when earlier this year we saw the adverts for the Michael Jackson – Cirque Du Soliel concert two days after our anniversary. It couldn’t have been better timing!

My bestie V and her Boyfriend also wanted to come to the show so we booked all together and decided to make it a massive weekend of catching up – lots of drinking and eating was scheduled on the agenda!

On Thursday night, V and L turned up at 9:30pm. We managed to consume 2 ½ bottles of wine and 11 beers before we retired at 11:30pm! Whoops!

Waking up a little dusty our adventure started with Macdonalds Breakfast. Once we were filled with grease we jumped into the luxury of my Mazda 6 and had hubby drive us down to Sydney Town.

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We arrived at our hotel The four Points – by Sheriton 2 hours before check in but the staff were wonderful and accommodating and just changed our booked in rooms that were still being cleaned for those that were ready for us to dump and run.

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By 12:30pm we were sat in the Sunshine outside Cyren in Darling Harbour. Here we started out drinking with lush cold Corona’s and Lime. After two of those went down a little too easily we opted to grab something for lunch. Unfortunately we were that hungry that I forgot to take pictures. Hubby got the Steak sandwich, L had pizza and I got the Angus beef burger. Everything was perfect and everyone was silent which is always a sign of a good feed!

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We moved next door to the Watershed bar which is a trusty favourite of mine and Hubbys. Everyone, bar me, grabbed more Corona’s and I opted for a vodka and tonic.

The sun started moving and caused a great nightmare for us girls who were trying to make the most of topping up the tans whilst sitting outside. On the opposite side of Darling Harbour the sun still basked the establishments. We decided to make a move.

After nearly getting run over by a miniature train we ended up at Blackbirds. Happy hour and more importantly Cocktail happy hour started 10 minutes after we arrived and the waiter was very accommodation letting us peruse the “expensive” list until he was able to bring us over the happy hour cocktail and beer list!

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We consumed wonderful cocktails and Hubby opted for a few Vodka and Red bulls. The sun still streamed and we stayed there until after 5! We decided to head back to the hotel and get ready for going out that night.

We decided we wanted to check out the hotel’s rooftop bar and boy was it expensive! No pictures but V ended up getting a cocktail for $20 and it consisted mainly of ice……with this in mind we only stayed there for one drink.

We headed out onto Darling Harbour and at this point Brad and I decided we were super hungry and ended up and Casa Di Nico. I managed in my drunken state to take a picture of the actual restaurant but non of our food – Sorry! We ordered a bread platter for starters and this was nothing to rave about! Then hubby just wanted pepperoni pizza and I opted for Barramundi and a side of fries. This was all delicious and did not cost any more then if we were back home in Newcastle. Winning all around.

We decided to head back to the hotel and get a good nights sleep (as hubby was pretty drunk) so we were in bed by 12am!

The next morning we were up bright and early and met V and L at Baia for Breakfast. This time I remembered to take pictures!

I opted for the corn fritters and avocado salsa,

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L for the big breakfast

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and V and hubby for the eggs Benedict, one with smoked salmon one with bacon.

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The service was so slow and the restaurant was empty – hubby managed to drink two large mug-o-lattes before the food came out. Everyone was pretty disappointed bar me. My corn fritters were yummy and there was so much of them I was super full for the rest of the day.

We decided to talk a walk over to Paddy’s markets to walk of some of breakfast and on the way back grabbed out first beer of the day! We then caught the ferry over to Luna Park and acted like big kids for a couple of hours.

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Back at the hotel we changed again and headed out for the circus. Lots of wine and beer was consumed and we had chicken bbq rolls served out of a pub for dinner. Sorry for no picture again!

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The next morning we went for breakfast again, this time just hubby and I and we ended up at Blue Fish ….. I ordered the vegetarian breakfast and hubby again the eggs Benedict, he can’t help himself, this is all he has when we go out for breakfast!

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We left Sydney at midday and drove home to get the dog from her little holiday away at the vets.

That night we were all hungover and tired so I made a comfort eating lasagne. This and my homemade garlic bread went down a treat!

Thanks for reading and sorry for the lack of picture!

Creature Comforts

I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately. Not for any other reason they I just didn’t feel like I had anything important or worthwhile to say.

Brad and I have been out for breakfast a few times in the past few weeks and I have still been cooking up a storm in the kitchen, namely clean eating stuff but a few treats also.

My writers block got me thinking though…..why was I struggling so hard to write? Was I concerned about what others would think? Is what I want to put down on this blog important and worthy of others reading and enjoying/hating/not caring what was written and then it hit me…..I go through moments every now and then (and they are gradually getting less and less and don’t stick around for as much time) of “homesickness”

Now I have written homesick but really it’s just a craving for creature comforts I grew up with back in Wales. 5 years ago when I first came here I craved three things so badly!

  1. Hellmanns Mayonnaise
  2. Unsmoked bacon
  3. A proper good Indian curry

About 3 years ago, Brad and I drove out to see some friends for a lunchtime birthday party. We arrived and found out it was BYO so Brad shot off, like the dutiful husband and went and bought me a beautiful bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (Drift NZ) there was a Bi Lo in the complex where this bottle shop was and someone, a while before, had told us that they had seen Hellmans mayo in a Bi Lo. Brad decided to quickly pop into this shop and what did he find? Hellmanns mayonnaise! I was elated when he came back to the restaurant bearing to gifts, one of wine and one of mayo! Of course being imported from the UK we now paid a premium of nearly $7 per jar – but we have not bought any other mayonnaise since

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Next was the curry, Brad and I decided that we would venture out into Hamilton and find someone where to eat, midweek. We walked for a few moments down Beaumont Street when we stopped and looking into a shop front window, this is how we found, Indiana Raj.

From the outset it looked like someone’s living room, but we decided to give it a go and walked in to literally be greeted by the whole family. We were seated and ordered and oh my goodness did my taste buds do a little dance!!! This food was amazing and the experience didn’t stop there! After dinner, the music paused before following on with a loud bollywood track and the staff/family members encouraged all the patrons to get involved with a makeshift bollywood dancing class! Well, what fun I had, but I’m pretty pleased I’d had those 3 glasses of red wine prior!

And lastly my search for British, unsmoked bacon.

When Brad and I went back to the UK for our wedding, I had been in Australia 11 months. My mum asked me what I wanted in her flat food wise for when we were there. Hellmans and Bacon were on the top of the list.

Once Brad had his first taste of unsmoked British bacon there was no turning him back. He was a convert and walked miles every morning just to buy more bacon for us to have for breakfast.

We have not stopped searching for butchers in Australia who would leave this cut in it’s purest form and yet we constantly failed. I have been in Australia 4 years and 11 months and I had all but given up hope of ever achieving final tick on my list of three.

Last weekend I needed to go to a different shopping complex to pick up my engagement ring that had been in for a clean. I decided as I was there I would just do my weekly shop in the Coles. I was slowly pushing my trolley around as I had never been here before and I was concerned I would miss important food items, when a reduced sticker on a pack of pre-packaged bacon caught my eye!

Usually I get my bacon from the deli counter, but if there is a deal to be had I love getting them, so I walked over to the fridge and picked up this packet bacon to study it further. LOW.AND.BEHOLD the label read “Authentic British Bacon” Oh wow did my heart start racing, I checked the bacon itself and YES it was raw! There as a deal on the “not coming up to used by date” two packets for $10 so I through the reduced packet down and grabbed two fresh packets. How I couldn’t wait to get home and show hubby!

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We actually froze the two packets and had it for breakfast the following weekend and it was DELISH!

So there you have it! I have achieved everything on my tick list for things I really would like in my life here in Australia and less than 5 years have achieved them all. Yum yum yum! I just think it’s going to make me very poor buying $7 mayo and $10 for 500g of bacon!

First weekend of July

The past 24 hours have been pretty awesome! After my wonderfully boozey and steak filled lunch on Friday, I decided that for me to go home and cook for a hungry husband and two hungry, fussy children would not be the way to go about my Friday afternoon and start to the weekend.  So I rang my husband and advised I didn’t want to cook and he was the one who suggested Mr Foongs – our local Chinese takeaway! Now Chinese takeaways have been a bit hit and miss in every town I have lived in, but randomly on a little street in my suburb, Mr Foongs does a pretty awesome Chinese dish. The usual order consist of Satay Chicken, Mongolian Lamb and Spicy beef which this time around I ordered extra hot !! (and it didn’t disappoint!)

I rang through at about 6pm and as always the beautiful Chinese daughter, who would only be about 8 years old, answered the phone and took my order, polite, professional and understood everything. The order was made in Bradleys name as I knew he would go and get the food later on. $48.80 later we have 3 dishes, one bag of prawn chips and a rice to boot and we are all cowing down on our Chinese with, might I add, chops sticks!

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Now, don’t get me wrong this hasn’t always been a love/love relationship with Mr Foongs, when we first moved into our house we were craving a good old fish cocktail and chips. Mr Foongs also advertised that there was another take away in their establishment called “Peters Takeaway”. So we thought, “well the Chinese is pretty good lets go there for western food”. Boy, were we wrong! The cocktails were something that had been cooked and left for a good few hours, the batter soggy not just soft and the fish completely dry inside. There was no flavour throughout and the chips lacked their vavavoom of shop bought chips. an overall disaster.

Anyway, everyone loved their Chinese treat. As I’ve said before I always try and cook my step children something healthy and nutritious as I don’t believe they get that at home. So when I sit back and let take away get ordered they are pretty excited! As the kids washed up, Brad and I sat back on the lounge and chilled out after our long week of work.

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For Saturday a colleague of mine Victoria, had organised a “pamper afternoon” where a consultant of a company came in trying to flog their wares and we all got to have a play with it all 🙂 I asked Victoria if it was all good for Katie to come along too. All was fine. With me driving and Katie only 12 I decided to invest all of $8.69 into a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne as I knew the rest of the girls would be drinking proper champagne! To be completely honest, although the Cuvee was a little on the sweet sick it was actually pretty scrummy! I’m surprised not more pregnant woman aren’t opting for this?! I was drinking bubbles, out of a glass and the best part was I didn’t wake up with a hangover this morning!

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We left a little late but we weren’t too concerned as Bradley and Mitchell had opted to cook dinner for us all that evening! Great! So we all drove the 1 hour journey home and was greeted with a big kiss and a large glass of shiraz! Yummy! Brad has perfected his pizzas and I will eventually get a recipe for you for his bases as they came out AMAZING this time around. Brad made three different pizzas for us, a pepperoni with extra, extra pepperoni, a surf and turf and my favourite a creamy based chicken and mushroom! YUMMY!!!

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