Sunday, December 26, 2004

Time Out

I'm off! With a bunch of uni friends, I'm headed up the coast to spend the week around NYE in a beach house. I predict much laziness, silliness and merriness. Until the 3rd of January (when I'll be back) I wish the same to you all.

Have a great week
Take care
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Until Next Time...


Have a Great Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2004

but I DON"T cry at weddings!

Remember the Hen?

After 7 years together, Damo finally dropped to one knee before Little Sarah one fine day in Paris under the Arc de Triumph. Another year gone by and the two made it down an aisle on the rooftop of the Swiss Grande Hotel, Bondi, with the vista of Sydney’s most famous beach as backdrop. Our Little Sarah finally got hitched!

Gretta & I (and our fellas) were part of the school friends contingency pretty keen to see "another one bite the dust"… and she did so beautifully! It was the first wedding that has seen me sobbing away, frantically dabbing at tears with a borrowed hanky. I’m usually more of the "Oh isn’t that sweet" gooey smile type. Not this time! I guess watching and sharing in the forming and workings of such a great relationship over 8 years really gets the emotional hooks into you!

A better groom for our lovely girl, you could not find.

After the short an intimate ceremony, it was a side step to the right for Champagne, oysters and other luxurious morsels as we toasted and cheered and gushed over the new couple under the big blue Bondi sky. Naturally, as at any function inspired by Damo, dancing, bellowing and loutish behaviour soon radiated from the rest of the guests- from the earnest flower girl to the softly spoken Czech father of the bride.

(Special thanks to the "Forceful Sunscreen Reapplication Team" for the gorilla-style attack that left me dazed, greasy and very well protected!)

Our favourite Newlyweds headed off into the sunset leaving the rowdy guests to pick up our wedding cheer in one hand, our boozy emotions in the other, and head to the pub.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Season's Weakness

It is at this time of year that I find myself vulnerable to the temptation of the modestly packaged, deadly attraction of the Woollies brand fruit mince tart. The crumble of buttery pastry with the soft, spicy, Christmassy innards always lures me into a shameful indulgence behind the pantry door.

This year, after spying the Nigella Lawson version of these little treats in a foodie magazine, I decided to take matters into my own hands and produce some tarts of my own.

Two batches of sweet shortcrust pastry.
Some fruit mincemeat.
Lots of little tart trays.

Roll, cut, peel and place. Roll, cut, peel and place. Roll, cut, peel and place. (Repeat 21 times)
Scoop. Scoop. Scoop. (Repeat 21 times)
Roll, cut, peel and place. Roll, cut, peel and place. Roll, cut, peel and place. (Repeat 21 times)
Bake at 220 degrees C for 12 minutes.
Makes 24.


Though the process of rolling, cutting, peeling and placing the fragile pastry is a little more involved than the slight elbow bend needed to pick up a pack from the supermarket shelf, the result are much the same! (Though mine look far cuter with the little stars, even if I do say so myself!)

When looking for a relaxing, fiddly, timely exercise to wile away an hour or so and fill the house with yummy baking smells, little star tarts are the go. For all other fruit mince tart needs, see your local Woolworths bakery department.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"Stalk" delivery

Introducing the Newest member of our family….

Spike the spruce.

He was brought home from the nursery on Sunday. It’ll be his first Christmas on the job this year, so we’ll only be giving him light duties like tinsel, some small ornaments and a training angel for the top. It’ll take him a few years before he’ll be able to take the full load but I’m sure he’ll do his very best right from the word go.

We’re all so very proud of the little tacker already. He seems pretty confident as he psychs himself up on the back step, before coming in for the few big days inside. He’s got large shoes to fill, since Annie retired last year (she now enjoys the boundless pot that is my grandparents garden). He’s very brave and excited about being the star of our Christmas every year. I think he’s going to be quite happy here with us.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Saltwater Socialite

Here in Sydney, it is quite popular for organizations to give a harbour cruise for the company Christmas party. Some are given at night, cruising past the glamorous city lights, while others take advantage of perfect summer days to see the sites of the harbour in daylight. When the professor told me I was invited to his work party and that it was to be a “harbour cruise” I accepted with delight. My experience in the past of these affairs lead me to believe that it would be wonderfully sophisticated affair, sipping cold bevies on one of the many cruise ships to be chartered in and around the harbour.

It was also going to be my first meeting with the Professor’s work mates and his generous boss (who alway sends home special samples and freebees for me) so there needed to be particular regard given to outfit choice and small-talk ammo.

Come 11:30am on Saturday, the Professor and I were to be found waiting dutifully at the Pyrmont Bridge wharf, I in a smart but casual summery denim mini with a cute top and thongs (the footwear). The sun was beating down quite fiercely but I reckoned to be tucked up under the awnings of the boat in no time at all.

It was with a strained smile that I met the first arrivals, the SPF30+ starting to melt down my face and clag up my sweaty palms as I shook hands hello. All would be fine when we got on board and chugged off into the cool harbour.

Then as one big cruise ship pulled away and our party prepared to board the next, our vessel drifted up to the wharf. A yacht! Pardon? In short skirt and thongs? Should this have been mentioned BEFORE I got dressed this morning?

Not to worry. I clambered on board with some difficulty in maintaining my modesty. I perched awkwardly on the cabin roof, where I instantly became stranded, (due to cluttering up of all other short-skirt friendly vantages by fellow mariners). From there I missed further introductions, a drink and a lot of get to know you conversation. With no shelter and no hat, I baked and sweated and generally felt furious about the whole debacle.

It was only once we’d sailed out under the bridge gliding out into the gloriously blue day that I managed to dump my pain-the-in-the-hull attitude and get on with enjoying myself. What’s all the fuss about anyway Franky? You’re usually completely at home on a yacht! (I’ve spent many a Friday night in summer scampering around my parents 11 meter yacht as it skids through twilight races on the harbour). So I ditched my thongs and handbag and adopted the legs-over-the-side, happy-gaze-over-the-water position. I was soon joined by another disoriented partner and a cold beer, both providing good company for the rest of the afternoon.

Though I missed the chatting with nice boss lady, not to mention the whole work team, I did have a relaxing sail, learn a little about town planning (care of my new friend, name forgotten) and take home sunburnt thighs and yet another nearly-postcard photo of the Sydney Harbour landmarks.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Too Old for My Feelings?

This morning I awoke to the sounds of the parentals yelling. Not the “I’m fed up and I’m taking it out on you” type of yelling or the “Oh dear, something has gone terribly wrong here and I need help” type of yelling. It was the once a year, cheerful shouts that ring out when Ma has decided that the time has come for the Chrissy decorations to come out.

For some reason, the foraging for boxes, the positioning of angels and candles, the hanging of the wreath, can only be managed and directed in excited bellows.

When I stagger down stairs and see the wafts of tissue paper and piles of empty boxes scattered around, the parentals busy climbing on chairs to hold things up for judgement on ideal positioning, I can’t help but wander around after them with a dizzy grin and a juvenile jiggle of anticipation in my tummy. I still love Christmas with the wonderment of a child.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

New Tunes: Damien Rice

I have previously howled praises of the devilishly talented Damien Rice quite vigorously.
In keeping with the pledge made to allocate "unlimited funding towards my own procurement of Damien Rice albums and same-city concert tickets as long as we both shall live", this sexy little item found its’ funding somewhere in my currently RED Christmas budget.
Now it can croon along to my own thoughts of "Where will all the money come from?"

Here a Chooky, there a GeeGee...

one blistering hot Sydney Saturday
one excited hen
five of her closest friends
six frocks
twelve uncomfortable but pretty shoes
nine bottles of Champaign
a Race Day at Randwick Racecourse,

you’ll get dozens of unflattering close-ups of girls having a great time.

Franky’s picks won two races, thanks to her favourite numbers theory. (Go number 4!)

And, in a Yellow Brolly first… A photo of Franky herself…

Need it be said that the giggling, girly frolic went on long into the night?
(Due to the secrecy laws of the Hen's Day institution, no more photographic records can be shown.)

Friday, December 03, 2004

Out and About: The World

It was 2002. I was a little Aussie backpacker, worn and bedraggled after 3 solid months of noisy hostel dorm rooms, day long train rides, ten different foreign languages, too many breadsticks with sardines, underwear laundered in the shower and a constant cycle of companions- too many good-byes. (Now don’t get me wrong. I loved my trip. I loved the adventure, the sights, the culture, the food, the people, the languages, etc. but I guess there is a limit on how much you can take of any good thing.)

As a bit of a luxury and a total disregard for my 25 Euros a day budget, I booked a tour for my few weeks in Turkey so that I would be ferried around, fed and installed happily each night in hotel rooms with heavenly ensuits and a glorious lack of squeaking bunk beds.

Plan worked. Not only did I take some relief in the new comforts of the tour but I found myself happily nestled in a group of travelers that did not change from day to day. No more good-byes, for a little while.

However, after a few weeks of oily Turkish lunches, feta cheese and olives for breakfast everyday, a nice bout of tummy bug and a new intolerance for being told where to go and what to see, I realised that I was, at last, travel weary. So when some of the fine travelers from the tour offered to take me in when we returned to London, I snapped at the chance to spend a bit of time at a "surrogate" home.

Luxury! Cups of tea with scrambled eggs for breakfast, mornings lounging on the sofa in front of TV, TV IN ENGLISH! I left my toiletries in the shower and my pack unlocked. I ate Wheatbix and Tim Tams and caught up on news in the world. It was so terrific and just what I needed then to give me the energy and enthusiasm to go on with the end of my trip.

The point? Well one of the lovely couples I stayed with, London boys Paul and Ian, have just been here in my home town for a visit. It’s been a bit of catch-up, some sight seeing and a chance for me to show my appreciation for those life-saving cups of tea two years ago.