Friday, October 28, 2005

Another Day at the Office

I know, I know. You've been DYING for me to post a nice long review of my working week in paradise- the sunshine, the picture-perfect beaches, the glorious swimming, the snorkeling. Well, unfortunately for you all, I only took a work camera with me and was unable to capture any illustrations for that side of my holiday. I MEAN WORK.

So as to give you a little taste though...

It began with some real quality time in which I got to know Auckland airport.

On some level, I think we formed a very deep seated friendship.

But on to Rarotonga with all it's natural beauty.

Of course, I was there to work and couldn't spend ALL my time on the beach. It's not like you can sit in a banana lounge with a laptop. You could get sand in it. You might drip salt water onto it after a little dip. I had loads of data entry and meeting notes to get through so I had to set up and work from my room. Here.

Luckily I could set up out at the table on the deck. For fresh air. To help me work.

I investigated quality and availability.

Most essentials were readily available.
Schools are suitable for expats, until highschool.

Work did not stop at 4pm though. At night I had to explore the top local restaurants and see if they deserved their reputations.

I managed one night off. I spent it with Pauline, my resort assigned partner for 'Island Night.' Pauline is 42 and likes cooking, travelling and long walks on the beach. Sadly, I was not her Mr Right.


Monday, September 12, 2005


aren't the very worst thing in the world.

We buried one of my Dad's oldest and closest friends today. He died suddenly two weeks ago while staying at our farm on the Riverina where he had been blissfully happy feeding the wrens, fixing gates, tinkering with machinery and nursing two poddy calves.

Today, we all looked over at the simple wooden coffin and wondered how such an enormous man could possibly fit into such a small space.

Today, people came from across the country and across the world to share stories of the man as father, husband, friend and colleague. We all learned something more about someone we felt we knew so well. We smiled at each other and poured champagne. We ate chocolate cake and learned about the other people in his life and how he had effected them. Bewildered strangers arrived at our home after the service and new friends left it hours later.

Maybe funerals aren't the very worst thing in the world.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Doing evil with Good

Suckao- Max Brenner's idea of hot chocolate...

It was a natural choice really. Good Nick (as opposed to our evil one) was the obvious companion for my reckless morning chocolate adventure.

A beautiful blue sunny day stole in yesterday morning as I cruised over to collect my partner in crime and make our way to Paddington. As if by use of special built-in radar, we had no trouble finding the spot. Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar. My little sweet tooth’s home sweet home!

Perhaps foolishly, I let Good Nick order. As the plates arrived, one by one, baring all manner of wonderful ways to present fat & sugar, each drizzled generously in melted chocolate, I rolled my eyes calling it a mistake to let him loose on the menu. But really? I got to indulge greedily and blamelessly in as much of the wonderful stuff as I could handle. And I did. Maybe even more than I could handle...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Cocktails Anyone?

A wonderful way to wile away a Friday night, with 10 great friends, a 7 course meal and 1 brilliant cocktail. It was a real shame we all agreed to help the boys move house the following morning...

Civilised conversation early on...

Add several 'Crunchy Tigers'- a sexy sake based cocktail...

Good Nick plays HIMSELF at the Pain Game...

A less than spritely moving crew for Saturday!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Sticky Black Rice- Finally!

It has been a full year since I first spotted a sack of sticky black rice and snapped it up to take home and try in any number of curious looking recipe's that I'd been eyeing off. It's been sitting handsomely on the shelf in the pantry ever since.

It occurred to Ma that perhaps now was as good a time as ever to pop it open and give it a whirl. Perhaps she was in the mood for something black and sticky. Perhaps she was just sick of moving it around the pantry. Either way, the hint was dropped and cleverly caught, by me.

So after a night soaking in it's own rich purple stain, I snuck down stairs in slippers and dressing gown to put my bubbling brew on to cook. May I say, it was quite satisfying stirring away at the purple-black gloop. It cooked away until it resembled a grainy porridge than I stirred through some palm sugar and served it with coconut cream to a slightly confused dozy lot who had staggered out of bed with eggs in mind...

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Pink Fit

I believe that it is bad luck NOT to squander the first pay packet of a new job. If ever there was a time to 'treat' yourself and splash out on a few unnecessaries, post job-hunt high is it!

As always, my recent indulgence has mostly been focused around my feet. Apart from 2 new pairs of work shoes and an array of silky 'professional' new stockings, I became proudly united with my shoe destiny- the pair of pink Spanish Mollinis I was born to own.


Then there are my cute little chocolate flats and the crowning glory of my impending-winter wardrobe- the powder pink pair of Peter Alexander ugh boots that arrived by courier ready for the months ahead.

I love being a girl!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Big Windows

From our bright little office perched up on the sandstone ridge we can look down at the bustle of the circular quay ferry terminal or up to the glassy towers of the CBD, up at the shiny black windows out of which one of our clients may well be peering right back at us.
What YOU can see, is just how lovely this Sydney autumn has been so far...
Lucky city!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Tap Tap Tap

Cumberland St
My fabulous new career is set in the area of the oldest British settlement in Australia- The Rocks.
Once ejected from the train in a surge of CBD commuters, I take my walk over cobblestoned paths past old pubs, dormant archaeological digs and the occasional dazed tourist to our bright new office at the base of the southern pilon of the Harbour Bridge.
On my way, I give a little wave to Princess Mary's empty hotel room at the Shangri-La and a nod to the towering landmark bridge. I revel in my imagined sense of belonging to the club of sophisticated corporate city types. My leather shoes tap tap tap along the ground and I swing my smart back brolly.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Here Goes...

Old Franky

What a naughty girl! It's been a little over a month since Franky took the hot seat and prattled on about her daily jollies. What happened?

JOB! -Got one.
Spent the last month trawling job ads, tweaking resume and cover letters, sitting politely in front of recruitment consultants and HR officers answering the same old questions about my career aspirations, times when I resolved conflict in the workplace, times when I improved a system, times when I showed professional perfection!

Seems it all paid off... I was finally offered the job I'd had my heart set on since I first read the ad and couldn't be happier with my new career!

So here goes a new direction, a new lifestyle.

Out with old Franky, in with new!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Fun with Guns

Ooh yes, I like the feel of it in my hand, the power, the sexiness of a loaded gun, heavy and dangerous.

I like the thrill you feel as you gently squeeze the trigger, the moment of fear that makes you flinch quickly before you look to see the effect…

Little biscuits. Hundreds and hundreds of pretty little biscuits!

Bang- a little kiss. Bang bang- some daisies. Bang bang- delicate little ringlets. I could do this all day and all night- stand in the kitchen with my bowl of dough, my greased tray and loaded gun, squirting row after row of slightly wonky little treats until dehydration and exhaustion knock me out completely. It is SO satisfying!

My favourites so far:

Little kisses with chocolate bottoms.

Flowers smoodged together with boiled blackberry jam.

But this is just the beginning! I need more practise, more biscuit dough, more baking trays, more time! I want to dip, spread, sprinkle, wedge! Give me chocolate, sprinkles, crushed nuts, ganash, boiled jam and butter filling! Give me an army of sweet-tooths with gallons of tea who can deal with the sugary aftermath of my frenzied biscuit making battles.

Professor, draw your snacking weapon!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Birthday Pie

I am a great advocate for the propagation of the ‘birthday festival’. I think that the privilege of being birthday boy or girl should carry on from the first birthday gesture to the last, bringing with it all the spoiling, feasting, toasting and ribbing such a title affords!

Pa’s birthday festival began on Tuesday with the arrival of the first birthday card in the mail. Yesterday, his actual birthday, our family (including my little brother's fabulous girlfriend and, of course, the Professor) kept with our tradition, taking him out for a low-key dinner at one of our favourite restaurants before bringing him home for present time and coffee (including the Pecan & White Chocolate Pie I baked yesterday).

Now, the festival will extend all the way to Sunday when we meet up with some extended family for a sailing day on Sydney harbour. Let there be champagne, smoked salmon, crusty bread and birthday cake till the sun sets on the last day of Pa’s 56th birthday festival!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Double Identity

I make no apology. It has been four months since my last shoe purchase when I happily brought “Big Reds” home to meet my clan. I think I have demonstrated great self restraint and stoicism in the face of temptation. This is why I am not ashamed to announce that the drought has broken!

Here are my vampy sexy new work shoes- ready for power walking into interviews and impressing potential employers with my sassy, take no prisoners approach. I call them my "corporate butt-kickers"!

But by night, I prefer to be a demure little oriental princess, eyelids battering away, blushing at the attention my darling little shoes bring me. My sweet-as-daisies "ballet slippers".

Ah happiness! How easily you come to me...

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Love Triangle

This morning as I flumped about in bed, rolling from one side to another and trying to snuff out my dull churning mind, I realised that the battle to get to sleep was not going to be an easy one. I’ve heard that in these frustratingly unending bouts of insomnia, it is often a good idea to get up, do something for a while and then have another crack at getting those Zs. So last night, I did just that and shuffled out to the TV where I found Ma doing just the same!

It was quite cosy really, sitting together at 1am with the white flicker of the TV the only illumination on our soft and saggy faces. Ma made us Chamomile tea (something I refused to subject myself to for the last 7 years and found only last night that I can quite enjoy!) and we switched over to the ABC for their late movie- always a black and white British number with plenty of tweed and good manners. And what do you know? It was “Mary of Scotland” starring Katherine Hepburn!

Now, it just so happens that my favourite Monarch in history is the great Queen Elizabeth I of England. I’m fascinated by her character, her success and all those slightly creepy paintings of her that make her seem a little supernatural.

My aforementioned favourite starlet, Cate Blanchett actually truly came to fame for her stunning portrayal of Queen Elizabeth, the archenemy and cousin to Mary Queen of Scots.


Most recently, I saw her as another of my favourites, Katherine Hepburn, in “The Aviator” and now here is Katherine Hepburn playing Mary Queen of Scots to a strained and unfortunate looking Queen Elizabeth on my early morning movie!

Well I thought it was cool anyway…

Monday, February 21, 2005

She Crush...

She's just so beautiful!

The Professor and I stepped out the other night and saw "The Aviator".

While my school girl crush on DiCaprio did not make it past his time on Growing Pains, my current fascination with the Aussie luminary grows every time I see her perform. Add the striking character of Katherine Hepburn, the glamorous trimmings of the1930's and I'm sold on Ms Blanchett! Too sexy.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

My New Old Hardware

Yes, be afraid.

Not because Franky has acquired a state-of-the-art torture tool complete with the capacity to switch between 14 different levels of horror with a quick change of sinister attachment. No, accounts payable has not yet driven me close enough to the warped state that would have me rolling up white sleeves and snapping on the laytex gloves.

Instead, with thanks to my Nanna, I shall be inflicting endless batches of biscuit experiments on my dieting friends and family, churning out dozens of mal-formed, sugar loaded cookies, now that I have been properly armed with my very own vintage biscuit gun!

On Ma’s recent trip to Perth, I sent a batch of homemade Melting Moments biscuits I made, first squeezing the dough out into un-appetisingly crooked little piles using a piping bag, then rolling soggy, blobby little roundish shapes with my fingers, once the piping bag had burst open.

Upon receiving the sorry batch, Nanna, yoda of my baking world, remembered her old gun she’d once used to turn out tray after tray of delicacies when she ran a beach side kiosk in South Australia. After a little foraging, she produced the 40 year old contraption and it’s fittings and home they were sent, to be delivered straight into my hot little hands.

Baking, John Wayne style.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Nigella's Chrissy Cakes

Always a sucker for pretty little cakes, I could not resist popping a pic of these little beauties up- I baked them for a Christmas party a friend threw on the weekend. (Yes, better late than never...)

The recipe is one of Nigella Lawson's and produces distinctly Christmassy flavoured cakes- a cross between ginger bread and speculuus. They were well received after a course of turkey and ham, vanishing from the serving plate on the first trip round the crowd.

Nigella's Christmas Cupcakes:
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp ground mixed spice
100g soft unsalted butter
160g brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tbs sour cream
75g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tsp instant coffee

Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Stir dry ingredients together (excluding coffee) and add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture followed by 1 tbs of sour cream. Repeat twice more with remaining flour and sour cream. Melt chocolate with 1/2cup boiling water and coffee in a small pan till just soft. Fold through the batter gently. Pour batter into 24 little lined cupcake tins or 12 lined muffin tins.
Bake at 200 degrees C for 10-20 mins (depending on size) until firm and moist.
Allow to cool before icing with royal icing and decorate with a glazed cherry. (Nigella also cut sexy little green holly leaves from ready to roll icing but I didn't have a cutter to do so with.)

Monday, February 07, 2005

Not Lost

Now. I am back on the big brown island once again and full of energy for 2005, I can give you all a little rundown on my "choice" kiwi holiday, eh.

Firstly, may I point out that I took my old fashioned camera along, so no digital evidence of our wonderful trip exists. It just so happens that other people have been to the same places before me, so that I have been able to borrow some of these pictures for my tale...

In order to cut my gloating short, I shall give you a few highlights:

Scenic & Wildlife:(In chronological order)

1. Royal Albatross colony at the Dunedin peninsula.

I LOVE albatross. This is the only main-land albatross colony in the world and it was great to sneak up on them and have a peak at the teenagers flirting and playing house. With wingspans of around 3m, it's pretty spectacular watching them glide above then swoop in for a graceful landing.

2. Milford Sound

We took an early morning cruise on the sound as the mist was rising and waterfalls gushed down the steep rock faces. We pootled past lazy seals sunning on rocks after a hard nights fishing and had a pod of dusky dolphins breakfasting right under our bow.

3. Waiatoto River Jetboat Safari at Haast

We caught brilliant samples of rugged West Coast wilderness from the water.

4. Fox Glacier day walk

We spent a whole day with a guide who lead us through the temperate rainforest onto the glacier, then we followed in the ice footholds he carved for us as we forged up the south side to the spectacular unstable section of jutting ice. Jelly legs that night...

5. Seal swim, Kaikoura

Now I may have said before that these were in chronological order, and they have been. Earliest to latest. However, there was a clear number one highlight in my trip and this was it! I LOVE seals. Throughout our trip we had loads of great opportunities to stare down onto rocky outcrops and see mother seals watching their pups romp in the water or see lazy adult males soaking in the sun. If the Professor thought the gurgles of delight I uttered then were something, he should have heard the noises emanating from my snorkel as magnificent New Zealand fur seals swam up to me to investigate, to try to engage me in swimming games, tumbling around me and eventually realising what a fat useless seal I am and showing off all their best diving moves to impress me. I was in freezing-water heaven. I was. End gush.


Enormous and juicy green lipped mussels from Havelock.
Sweet and tender crayfish from Kaikoura.
Marlborough wine.
All manner of goo-ood Kiwi beers. (Did they learn from us?)
Cookie Time Cookies!

Special Thanks to:

Princess Billie Bay- Our hard working little red car who did not let those steep winding roads put her off.
NZ Sandflies- You really taught me the value of head to toe clothing and strong insect repellent.
James & Marion- a couple who drove in the opposite direction to us. Some good laughs with them in Queenstown where we met for beers.
Mreen- the old school friend of mine who battled Christchurch public transport to meet us for a farewell beer before we packed to come home.

Lastly and most importantly, to my lovely Professor who turned out to be the perfect travel partner. I would recommend his skills at driving, navigating, tent pitching, camp stove cooking, emergency tea making, beer choosing and sulky girl cheer-uppering- but I want to keep them for myself. Find your own.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Off again...

Yes. I'm packing my bags again. This time I'll have to put in an outfit for a wedding, some camping gear, my passport and my hiking boots.

I'm flying down to Melbourne to meet up with my Professor (he's been staying with his folks over Chrissy) and we're off to see one of his school friends get hitched. Then we hop on a plane to New Zealand where we will be camping around the south island for a few weeks. Am very excited; -Love NZ -Love camping -Love my Professor.

I'll be back on the 26th of January, Australia Day,
till then!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Grab a Bargain

For Sale

A slightly bulbous nose, pink.
One owner, low mileage.
Highly productive with loads of potential.
Comes with two matching eyes- itchy yet functional.
Price: Make an offer....

Monday, January 03, 2005

Happy New Year!

And I'm back...

As predicted, the week up in Hawk’s Nest was overbrimming with laziness, silliness and merriness. I did not, however, foresee the snottiness, the sore-throatedness, the achiness, the coughiness and the gentle but ever present whinginess.

Yes, the only dampener on the seven days we spent lounging around the small beach town was the apparently contagious little bug we shared. Despite the husky voices and coughing symphonies, we had a great week of cooking, 500’s, beach days and fishing days, late nights on the balcony with beers and a constant sound track of great music from the few new iPods that joined the group over Chrissy.

The New Year was rang in from our little beach house with much whooping, dancing and reckless kissing of fellow revellers after the 12 course, 8 hour meal we devised between us. We then spent the first of January nursing our colds and hangovers on the beautiful white beach down the road.

Hooray for 2005! May it be a vast improvement on it’s shabby sneaky cruel predecessor…