Things are progressing nicely with Charlotte & Isabella's apartment renovations...

 When you're renovating a 1x2 metre space, it's wise to remember your contacts. So we called in Dad's cousin the carpenter to install some shelving; to cover that random stack of bricks in the corner, and to close in the roof. He did a great job, and will be coming back soon to install a specially-made window frame.

 Much better. You left a little something on the floor though.

Next step was to prime the roof. 
My Dad found those cool little chairs from Bunnings.

Mum and I sat down this afternoon to make some felt flowers, which will feature in the window. We felt a bit like we'd skipped backwards a century - the ladies of the house sitting by the window sipping tea (from our fine China - see pic below) and doing our needlework.

These should add a nice little tactile element to the girls' house!

Charlotte and Isabella are 2 and 1 years old. This weekend was Isabella's first birthday party, and it really was a lovely day. Here are a couple (of hundred) pics:

 I made these vanilla bean thins. Bit foolish because they look like a bowl of chips. Pretty yummy though - my first time using a vanilla pod. Much fun - will do again.

Also made these cheesy herby triangles. Then put in a pretty Orson & Blake bowl (thanks Dad), and made it pose on the lawn.

Goody boxes made by my sister-in-law (amazing!)

Look at these stunners.

Barbie (of my birthday cake fame) was reunited with her legs. She swiftly pulled on her hot pants and was ready to party.

Big bro and sisso-in-law with the little lady of the hour. And yes, that cake is surrounded by slabs of Hershey's Cookies and Cream.

A present for Izzy from Aunty Ali  <3


My father is always reminding me to check my car's oil levels in between services, so it's a skill I've had to acquire. If for some reason you don't know how to check and top up your car's oil, I have compiled this handy pictorial guide.

1. Grab your oil and a daggy cloth.

2. Find a friend.

3. Pop the boot, then realise you've pulled the wrong lever. Shut the boot, locate the lever for the hood, and pull.

4. Prop up your bonnet. No, not your hat, the other one.

5. Locate your dipstick. The one in the car, not the one in the house.

6. Pull it on out.

 7. Wipe it clean.

8. Replace the dipstick then pull it out again.

9. Examine your oil level against the indicators on the stick. Replace the dipstick, close the bonnet, put away the oil and go let your dad know that the oil level is still fine and doesn't need topping up.

If, on the other hand, your oil level is low, you can follow this easy two-step process:

10. Locate the oil-hole (?) on your engine and remove the oil cap.

11. Slug in the oil like it's nobody's business.

Bob's your uncle! You now have a happy car and a happy dad.


I don't care if I'm tooting my own horn. "TOOT, TOOT!" This smoothie recipe is DELICIOUS!

My morning routine at the moment (when it's not raining, or when I don't make up some other excuse for staying in le bed) is up at 5.45am (yes, it hurts) for a run/walk, breakfast at 6.30am and leave the house at 7.30am for work.

This gives me enough time to be a little bit inventive with breakfast if I please.

Here's how to make the super easy, low cal, high protein choc-cherry smoothie:

Four ingredients.

Cherry massacre. Sum'min bad happened.

Plop 'em in.

Whiz 'em up.

  • Aussie Bodies Protein FX Lo Carb Chocolate Protein Shake, 250mL poppa (available at Woolies). This is one of the best poppa protein shakes I've found, taking into consideration fat, sugar and protein content, and taste.
  • 100g fresh pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • cocoa powder, to sprinkle on top
208 calories; 20.1g protein.


My parent's have a storeroom under their staircase  it's about 1.2 x 2 metres  small, but more than enough to accommodate two tiny nieces (to play in, not to reside in).

Charlotte, my two-year-old niece, loves going in and out of the storeroom, which up until now has been filled with boxes of old photo albums, trophies from primary school days, stuffed toys we won't part with, old books and the like. Mum decided to empty out the storeroom and convert it into a cubbyhouse for Charlotte and Isabella.

Renovations started yesterday, with the clearing out of the space and the painting. Of course, we knew that if I had anything to do with the process, there would be no choice but to paint the room PINK.

The residence

Prime real estate: a renovator's dream

Bring in the painters (slash / Dad)

Pink. Duh.


You can track the progress of Char & Izzy's apartment renovations in the category list up on the left!


I can't speak highly enough about sunny Saturday mornings. But then again, I don't really need to because the goodness is quite obvious. Plans for the day: Breakfast (tick), run/walk in the sun, make rice paper rolls for lunch, and make flowers out of felt.

My parents have a storeroom under their staircase and we're doing some renovations to turn it into a pink cubbyhouse for my two little nieces. I'm going to take progress photos. Today my Dad is painting the house, and my Mum and I will be constructing some flowers for the windowsill out of felt and buttons. It's all very Playschool around here.

An ambitious day needs a breakfast to suit. Here is what mine looked like:

Sunny breakfast table

Nothing beats freshly squeezed orange juice

I just wanted to use the melon baller

Hurry up, I want to go for a walk.

Felt and buttons.



If only things were this simple.

I was reading an interview in The Sunday Telegraph's Sunday magazine yesterday with Melissa Bergland, who plays Jenny Gross in Winners and Losers. She was venting about inane communication, and had this to say about store clerks:

"You buy something in a store and the clerk will say, "Is that all today?" It makes me want to reply, "No, I'll also have everything in aisle six. That's why I'm here at the counter just purchasing these items."

So true. But I have much more to say on this topic. Here's a recount of a not-uncommon retail experience. And here is a language warning. [Ladylike girls always give language warnings. Then we say what we like.]

I walk into a shop and all I want to do is browse in peace, but I can feel the shop assistant's eyes searing into my forehead the second I put a foot in the door. I try not to make eye contact, but then relent and figure the sooner I give her some attention the sooner she'll leave me the hell alone.

Shop Assistant One: "Hi! How are you?"

"Good thanks." 

Shop Assistant Two: "Hi! How are you?"


Shop Assistant Three: "Hi! How are you?"

Closed-mouth one-second smile. F % * K. O F F.

I finally get a few moments by myself, but the second I pluck a hanger from the rack a chirpy shop assistant glides up to my shoulder, "Would you like me to put that in the change room for you?" she asks. She glares at the sparkly floral skinny jeans in my hands, which, had I the chance to spend a couple more seconds with, I'd have rightly returned to the rack.

"Thanks, that would be great", I say, and surrender the item. I know you think I'm a shoplifter, but sure, I'll play along.

After I've scanned the shop, and all staff are aware that I'm "Good Thanks", or think I'm deaf/a bitch, both of which I'm fine with, I finally make it to the change room where my items await. Twenty seconds later I've managed to remove a sock and the shop assistant stations herself outside my curtain and calls out, "How's everything going, can I get you any other sizes?"

"No thanks!" (F%*k off!)

Shop Assistant: "Show us the dress when it's on!"

Silence from behind my curtain. You're dreaming, stupid bitch.

She leaves me alone for three minutes before coming back. "How's everything going?"

I'm stuck in a dress that is three sizes too snug, I'm trying to get it off but the dress is jammed around my torso, my arms are flailing in the air and I look like a retarded caterpillar trying to writhe my way out of it. My cheeks are flushed, my hair is a mess, my ponytail is perpendicular to my earlobe, I can hear zipper teeth ripping and I'm think I'm going to have to live in this dress for the rest of my life.

"Good thanks!", I call out.

Five minutes later, the yoga classes have paid off and I've managed to escape out of the dress. It's seen better days. I straighten my ponytail and make my way to the counter with the jacket and top I've decided to buy. The shop assistant picks up the first garment and shakes it in the air, pretending to get out the creases, when she's actually checking for stolen items that she thinks I've stashed in the arm holes.

"There's nothing in there", I feel like saying. "The seven scarves I'm stealing are in my handbag, and I'm wearing five cardigans under my t-shirt. I thought that would work out better for me than letting you shake my loot onto the counter."

"This top is so cute isn't it!?"

No. It's f%*king ugly. That's why I thought I'd buy it.

"I love this jacket. I have it in blue."

I don't give a f%*k. Actually I'm not sure I want it anymore.

"Doing a little shopping today?"

No, I'm actually at work at the moment. After this I'm going to try out for the Shot Put in the 2012 Olympics.

This is too hard. It's really not worth it. "Um, I think I can hear my Mum calling [from our backyard, seven suburbs away]... gotta run!"


Image: ONE


Doing a little baking this weekend? Coz I have some great little secrets to impart! If you have a baker mum she has probably passed down one or two baking tips over the years. This has definitely been the case for me. A couple of weeks ago though, I bought a cupcake book by Jennifer Graham of The Crapapple Cupcake Bakery, and inside, Jennifer has given some tips which were news to me and mama, both.

Read on for some top tips.


1. Always cook with butter and eggs that are at room temperature.

2. Never use baking power that is over a year old, as it will be practically useless.

3. Invest in an oven thermometre, as convential domestic ovens are often way inaccurate. We have an oven thermometre, and I know this to be true - ours is about 20 degrees out.

4. If the recipe calls for milk, always use full cream milk. Milk must be at room temperature as cold milk will cause the mixture to shrink and will result in a tough cake. 

5. Creaming the butter and sugar: Do so in a few batches. Start by mixing the butter for a couple of minutes, then add the sugar. Beat for 1-2 minutes after each sugar addition. This process is important as it will aerate your cake.

6. New Zealand makes the best butter for cooking, as it has a higher butterfat content than Australian butter.

7. Have your oven temperature ready and your cake tins all prepared for as soon as your mixture is ready. The sooner you get it into the oven the better. She doesn't say why, but I assume it has something to do with losing the aeration. 


Woah woah woah woah woah, what have we here?! Hello, my pretty. *Strokes mixer*.

Oooo-oohh -maarrrrr-gaaaaaaard.

Sigh. This Raspberry Ice Mixer is by KitchenAid - the brand is available in Australia but this stunner doesn't seem to be on the website yet. It's available in the US so hopefully it will be here soon, too. Proceeds from the sale of this mixer in the States are going to breast cancer research - that's pretty cool.

Anyways, she will be mine, oh yes, she will be mine!
[I think I just quoted Wayne's World...]



Pet Peeve: When people leave voice messages on my work phone, full stop. This means I have to stare at that hideous blinking red light until I pick up the message. Which usually takes me 2.5 seconds, because I can’t stand that hideous red light. These ones are the worst of the worst:

Message from unknown member of the public:

Beep:  “Joan Smith. 02 2736 12126. Thank you.”

Thank you, WHAT? Good luck getting a call back, Joan. It’s not happening. I’ve already pressed delete, and guess what, I didn't write down your number.

Message from a superior:

Beep: “Hi Alex, it’s Mark, can you give me a call back when you get this message?”

NO. What was the nature of your call, Mark? How do I know that you’re not going to ask me to do something really annoying and tedious if I call you back? Or ask me something I don't know the answer to and make me look stupid? Throw us a bone, Mark.

Message from a client:

Beep: “Hi Alex, it’s Beverly. Just calling to let you know I just emailed you.”

NO SHIT, BEV. I mean, golly gee, thanks, BEV. I’d never have known.

Message from scatterbrained colleague:

Beep:  “Alex. Client X is doing a feature in issue X to replace order number X. Ad dimensions will be X by X by X, you need to call them to get X, X and X and then send this up to X and then compile all the X, X and X under heading X.

DELETE. Have you ever heard of this new thing called email? It’s great for transmitting long, rambling messages that no one will ever listen to or CARE ABOUT AT ALL.

I don’t want to even open the can of worms that is ridiculous emails, but this has to be one of my favourites:

Email from client:

“Hi Alex. I can’t seem to find a copy of the ad you emailed me last week. Would you be able to fax me a copy?



Hmmm, that’s a puzzler, Dianne. I’ll just take a break from reading your EMAIL so I can telephone 1982 and fire up the FAX machine. That should definitely be easier than hitting reply to your email.

Once again, I hereby stake my claim as a valued member of this organisation.



I don't mean to brag... but, I'm going to anyway! Today at work I received the best surprise birthday package from my friend Emma over at Hey Emmaline. It really put a twinkle in my wrinkle!



I am one lucky party girl. You might have seen the giraffe cake that I made for my brother on his 29th birthday a couple of weeks ago, and you may have read my not so subtle plea to receive my own special cake on my birthday, which was yesterday. Boy, did I get lucky. I think the resurgence in non-circular birthday cakes has been sparked!

My brother and sister-in-law made me the most woooooooonderful brunette Barbie birthday cake, complete with swirly marshmallows and edible glitter! They even made her dress. And I get to keep the Barbie. I have her torso, her legs are currently at my brother's house. Stay tuned.

Anyway - here's the pics. She's a stunner, and she knows how to party. <3

Mmmm, yep, this seems about right.

Thanks guuuuuuys!!! I had a lovely birthday.