Sunday, May 23, 2010

Another Red Ted Art entry - a pink butterfly cake!

This month's Red Ted Art theme is Nature. So I have created this beautiful pink butterfly cake to take part in Nature month. This also reflects the butterflies that have been in my tummy for a week or so now.
I'm pretty proud of this! Isn't she pretty! Hope everyone at work enjoys all the sugar and food colouring tomorrow at work.
Tania xxx
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Oh so much excitment!

So many excited butterflies flying around my tummy over the last few days! Moving to a new brand new office this weekend and tonight is the Ball! And I have a new 'cheryl cole-esque' dark red very trendy heavy fringed hair cut. This weekend I'm planning on making something creative based on the theme of nature for the Red Ted Art monthly challenge - not sure quite what it will be, but I will put a pic online.

Better start beautifying for the Ball!
Tania xxx

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Winter is making its way to Sydney

I think I feel like most people in Sydney at the moment - slightly flat, a little bit sad that summer and beach weather has finally gone for a couple of months and just a bit blah. Everyone seems grumpy. Suddenly Winter has hit us. Yesterday it was wet, wild and dark - really, a typical London day for most of the year. But such a shock to the system here - we have had the most amazing Autumn, and a sudden cold wet day was a bit yucky. All I wanted was a bath! And although I have a beautiful flat, I don't have a bath. Luckily the sun shone today so it wasn't so bad. It really made me wonder how I ever lived for so long in a country with such depressing weather.

So I've pulled out my winter stockings ready to face the next few months of moderately-cold weather. I don't think I'll ever feel cold through my bones here in Sydney like I did in Europe. One thing I have noticed is that not so many people wear black here in Sydney. My whole wardrobe is basically black (even though I have recently done a colour course on what colours are best for me to wear - Keeping Up Appearances, Alison is great, I really recommend the course). In London I never really noticed that I was always in black, but here it's different. Sydney women dress using more colour and more unusual patterns. They don't rely on black as their whole colour scheme. Same goes for the men.

One thing to cheer me up, I'm off to a ball on Friday night! An Air Force Officer's Ball, no less. And can't wait! I'm wearing the beautiful black (yes, black) dress I wore to do my 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now' dance. Also off to see my long-term mega crush Tim Freedman from The Whitlams in Newtown on Saturday night. All exciting stuff, and all worthy of a new hair do.

Keep warm and positive Sydney, xxx

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stephanie's Hazelnut Meringue Layer Cake with Hazelnut Chocolate Cream

Today has been a great day! Last night I made a fabulous cake - best cake ever in fact. I made meringues for the first time and made Stephanie Alexander's Hazelnut Meringue Layer Cake and put her Hazelnut Chocolate Cream through the middle layers and on the top. My friend at work told me it was her fav. cake, so I hunted it down and made it! Not as hard as it looks, and my hands lovingly peeled the skin off the hazelnuts I roasted myself, and lovingly crushed them. Absolutely my favourite cake yet - and looks so impressive (the photo didn't turn out wonderfully, but I might try to put it up anyway - thank you to Percy for taking the pic for me, it was the cake and my inelegant Tupperware box that made it look messy, not your photography skills).

I also heard some more special news today from a friend of mine - so many babies are due this year (as per the last few years), and I absolutely love the idea of new life and new babies for Aunty Tania to cuddle and watch grown and buy lots of lovely books and toys for. So I headed down to Dymocks in the city to buy her a little book - one of my favs - Dear Zoo.

Dymocks on George St has the best children's book section I have ever known - and today a very helpful young man helped me go through a big box of toys looking for Upsy Daisy (one of my latest obsessions - In The Night Garden - mesmerising, I love it, and I absolutely adore Upsy Daisy). Sadly she was all sold out, but I picked up some very cute Ninky Nonks. The Ninky Nonk is a funny kind of train, made up of a number of differently sized and shaped carriages. The Tombliboos, the Pontipines, Upsy Daisy and Igglepiggle all have their own carriages, although they often travel in each other's.

And I gave up my beloved The Mentalist and Patrick Jane for a lovely evening of coffee/hot chocolate......

I think my absolutely wonderful mood has something to do with Kylie and her catchy, positive, romantic new song which has been in my head all day. To Robin, I'm looking forward to seeing the routine you create for it!!! Can't wait to see it - get dancing and post the video!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Award winning romance - Love is a Four-Legged Word!

Congratulations to my very talented Godmother Kandy Shepherd for winning the Australian Romance Readers Association award for favourite contemporary romance.

Her next book - Home is Where the Bark Is - goes on sale 6 July.

Further information & extracts from both books can be found on her website -

Recovering rather than discovering....

This weekend I've taken some time out from discovering Sydney to recover from a big Friday night and to take some time to reflect. As much as I have enjoyed manically planning my time over the last 4 months, this week I realised that I have hit a spot of complete contentment and I don't necessarily need to find every cool little spot in Sydney by the end of the year. The tricky stage of my life has finally now passed, and I lived through it and have come out the other side a far more balanced person, but still I think I'm the same girl. At one point I was worried that it had changed me, that I'd lost all my hope and innocence, but no - I'm still as hopeful and optimistic as I ever was, and absolutely still a believer in true love and romance. Life feels good! I also have a lot of people to thank for getting me here - and you all know who you are. Thank you. I'm a lucky girl. xxx

I've just picked up three new biscuit trays! After watching Nigella last night, I'm inspired to try macaroons sometime soon. But in the meantime I aim to cook a very special and challenging layer cake for a colleague of mine who is moving to a new team. I'll post some pics of course.

Enjoy the last hours of the weekend,
Tania xxx

PS - after 12 hours of Kylie's new single, I think it has beaten 3 Words for now.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dance. It’s all I wanna do. So won’t you dance?

No blog of mine would be complete without a special post about Kylie! I heard a replay of an interview with Kylie on Australian radio this morning. I'm feeling extremely girly at the moment, and now really looking forward to the upcoming release of Kylie's new album and the countdown to a special weekend in Canberra for the Sex and the City 2 movie.

Both Kylie and Sex and the City are products which girls in their late 20s-mid 30s really identify with - we spent the years we formed most of our views on men and relationships listening to Kylie and Carrie Bradshaw. I honestly don't think teenage girls understand why we love SATC or Kylie so much.

So, Kylie's new single - All the Lovers. I absolutely love it already! But it doesn't quite beat my current love - Cheryl Cole's 3 Words (completely obsessed - I also heard Cheryl interviewed by Australian radio twice this week, complete girl-crush on her and Dannii!). Get on YouTube now and listen to both songs.

PS - final bit of news, X Factor is coming back to Australia later this year! One of the things I miss most about my time in the UK - Saturday nights with Dannii, Cheryl and Simon, I just can't wait!!

Lime green cupcakes for a 1st birthday party

Here are some cute little lime green vanilla cupcakes for a first birthday party I am going to today. They are pretty wonky - decorated with an incredible hangover, but it's the thought that counts this time.
Happy 1st Birthday Isaac! xxx
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Chocolate Fudge Bars

This is one of the easiest recipes I know! Chocolate Fudge Bars from the Woman's Weekly Biscuits cookbook. It literally takes 30mins from start to finish (well, maybe a bit more time to let the slice part cool, and a few hours/overnight in the fridge for the icing to set). This recipe is also very easy because it contains ingredients which are generally in your cupboard. And this little slice reminds me of my childhood - because this recipe is so easy, my Mum always used to make it for me to take to school morning tea days. If you would like the recipe, please email me on

Making this slice reminded me of another slice I used to make all the time in London - Mars Bar Slice! Might make it soon for my Sydney workmates.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pink cupcakes for Australia's Biggest Morning Tea

Tomorrow is Australia's Biggest Morning Tea to raise awareness and funds for cancer support. My work place is very supportive of social and community causes and I am lucky enough to be a member of the Community Committee.

I have baked 36 pink/purple vanilla cupcakes to contribute to the morning tea at work. I use the Hummingbird Bakery recipe which is the fluffiest recipe I know (and so simple).

I've started using a piping bag to put the icing on the cupcakes - but I really did lose the battle with the bag tonight. There is pink icing from one end of my kitchen to the other! This is the second bag I've tried, and with the current Tupperware catalogue sitting on my desk at work, I am very tempted to buy the Tupperware piping bag and try it out.

I've also started using my Grandmother's old mix master instead of my trusty handheld mixer. Making cupcakes is so much simpler! I can now multi-task while I mix. I am tempted to buy a KitchenAid, but maybe not right now.

Also now a fan of Smarties on cupcakes - they worked really well for my last bunch and feedback from my work friends was that Smarties made the cupcakes really good!
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Cammeray (lower North Shore)

On Sunday night I finished my weekend mini-tour of Sydney with a casual dinner in Cammeray with my Godmother and her family for Mother's Day.

Cammeray is a great little suburb - some parts of it face onto Middle Harbour (so have stunning views), it is just off the main highway across the bridge, has excellent bus connections to the city and a sweet short 'High Street'. Cammeray is low-key, casual lower North Shore suburb, with a little bit of cool glam. It reminds me of a little bit of suburbia just off the highway. It is way more laid back than somewhere like Kirribilli, but it does have a bit of a similar vibe. Not necessarily 'buzzing' but a nice place to visit casually when you want to relax.

There are a number of cafes and restaurants, a couple of gift shops, some beauticians, grocer, deli, 'hot bake' and newsagent, along with the Stockland centre with a Harris Farm, bookshop and a number of casual dining restaurants. We went to Wild Sage (which I've been to before) - generous, delicious meal, and singing waiters. Recommended - better than your average suburban cool restaurant.

Thanks K, J & L for a lovely evening!

Dawn - Lavender Bay (Sydney)

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Collaroy Beach

Another stunning sunny day in Sydney, so at 2pm I decided it might be nice to go for a long walk in the sand and to feel the surf spray on my face!

I googled 'longest beach in Sydney' - Collaroy was my destination. Collaroy beach is one of Sydney's northern beaches. It is approximately 45min drive from Lavender Bay (taking into account busy Sunday afternoon traffic and a stop for the Split Bridge to open/close).

Collaroy’s surf beach joins Narrabeen Beach making one continuous 3.4km surf beach. It also has a beach-side surf pool which looked great. Beaches are closed now from a lifesaving perspective, but you can still walk along them/swim at your own risk. Collaroy reminded me of a classic Australian South Coast beach rather than a city beach. It was rather rough today, and although the water was so warm I don't think I would have braved the waves alone (I didn't take my swimmers so I could only paddle up to my knees anyway).

I am a real beach girl - I absolutely love the beach and the feel of sand and sun and surf spray- and I've been keen to find some proper beaches here in Sydney. Collaroy is a real proper beach. I'll be back! My only complaints related to having to pay so much for parking and the traffic coming back along Spit Rd and Military Rd - but then that is the same complaint I have about all Sydney beaches (if you've got tips for dealing with parking at beaches, please email them through!). And I might wait until the lifesavers are back before I get in properly.

If the weather is nice next weekend, I'll go to Freshwater (where my little godsister Lucy is a volunteer lifesaver!).
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My Mum - Mother's Day 2010

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Kirribilli Art & Design Market - monthly markets on today

Held monthly under Milsons Point station, the Kirribilli Art & Design Market has some sensational finds. My favourite stalls are the millinery designers. Highly recommended, particularly on a sunny day. Calender and further detail can be found on the Kirribilli Neighbourhood Centre website. Markets will be on today (9 May) from 9am-3pm.

The Spot - Randwick (Eastern Suburbs)

A new discovery last night - The Spot Randwick

A great place to have dinner and go to the movies in the close to city Eastern Suburbs. Nice little cinema (The Ritz) with cheap movie tickets ($13 for an adult), nice seats and big screens. And lots of places to eat. We went to Thai Riffic - great Thai food, quick service, nice tables and chairs - recommend the duck in plum sauce with real cinnamon and star anise. There is also a Thai Riffic in McMahons Point (essentially Lavender Bay). Also a really cute little gift/jewellery/clothing/homewares shop - live this (The Spot, 33 St Pauls St, Randwick - 9398 8664).

PS - Happy Mother's Day to my Mum who is still on a plane somewhere and to all the other Mums out there (to all my new Mum friends who are celebrating their first, second and third mother's days, you are all doing such a great job).

Reader Tips - Yael, Fratelli Fresh & Brasserie Bread

One of my readers sent the following Sydney tips. I haven't tried them out myself yet, so can't recommend personally, but you may wish to visit (and I'll add these places to my to-visit list). Fratelli Fresh has been suggested to me by many people and is mentioned in all the books I read. Thanks for these tips A!
for cakes - they do a great passionfruit tart (the reader's fave) and the reader's friend often buys the choc flourless cake. They stock their cakes at DJs but sell to the public from their shop down in Banksmeadow.
they (Waterloo store) stock fresh produce...have a cafe upstairs and run a free cooking school...
Yummy bread - seriously good. Have bread making classes.

Upcoming Sydney Festivals - Sydney Writers Festival & Sydney Film Festival

Sydney Writers Festival -
15 - 23 May 2010

Sydney Film Festival -
2 - 14 June 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ferry Update - Milsons Point/Luna Park wharf closed from 24 May - 24 Sept

Pls refer to Sydney Ferries website -

Milsons Point / Luna Park wharf will be closed from Monday, 24 May to approximately Friday, 24 September 2010

From: Monday, 24 May to approximately Friday, 24 September 2010 (inclusive)

Where: Milsons Point / Luna Park Wharf

Alternate Wharf: Jeffereys Street Wharf (400 metre walk from Milsons Point / Luna Park Wharf)

Other Transport Options: contact Transport Info on 131 500 or visit

Why: Milsons Point is the first wharf being replaced under NSW Maritime Wharf Upgrade Program and will involve complete demolition and reconstruction. For more information call NSW Maritime on 13 12 56

We appreciate your patience and understanding

Summer Hill - Inner West of Sydney

After dropping my Mum off at the airport for an early morning flight I headed over to Summer Hill in the Inner West to check the area out (and inspect some houses).

I've heard a lot about Summer Hill since moving to Sydney - about its villagey, the new Leichhardt type feeling. Having lived in Marylebone in London, and been incredibly spoilt by its villagey atmosphere (with possibly the nicest High St I've ever know) and the villagey atmosphere of Hampstead, I went to Summer Hill with reasonably low expectations.

I was pleasantly surprised. Summer Hill isn't Marylebone, nor is it Hampstead, but it comes pretty close for a non-waterfront Sydney suburb. It does have a villagey atmosphere and real shops owned by real people - no chains here. And that makes it really attractive as a place to spend a Saturday morning or do your general neighbourhoodly business. Lots of people my age and lots of young families. I can see why it has been recommended to me as potentially a good place to live. Florists, cafes, local fruit and veg, butcher, multiple 'hot bake' shops, gift shops, charity shops make this place a really chilled place to be. It does have a great feel (and a station connecting it to the city - I drove though, and had absolutely no problem getting street side park).

I had breakfast in one of the best cafes I've been to in Sydney. Decolata (134 Smith St, Summer Hill). Can't recommend this place highly enough - it was such a nice surprise. Today has been a stunning Sydney Autumn day and I ate my breakfast soaking up the sun. Decolata is run by true proper Italians (I even heard Italian being spoken) - it is really cute and cool at the same time. Photos on the blackboard of babies and a huge array of homemade Italian sweets (they looked great and exactly what you would expect an Italian Nona to make). Menu consists of an all day breakfast, coffee, panini, gelato and of course the Italian sweets. I had one of the best coffees I've had in Sydney and tomato and avocado sourdough (not exactly on the menu, but they made it for me without even flinching, and added herbs and olive oil - just perfectly how I like it). All in all a faultless experience. And all for under $12. Check it out. It did remind me of a cool European cafe.

Another good find - My Messy Room. This is a top quality, special kids shops. Unusual cool things that I hadn't seen before (and I've been to so many kids shops). I must admit that I had recently read about My Messy Room, but I didn't realise it was in Summer Hill. Definitely a top find and I think I'll be back for special presents. Not really a KMart type of shop, but definitely a shop for good quality clothes, toys and books for kids you won't find elsewhere. It definitely reminded me of shops in London.

And a stained-glass window shop! Bob Bush Leadlights Stained Glass Design. You can even do classes in leadlighting. How many local neighbourhood shops in Sydney can offer that!?

I'm off to see if a cinema in Randwick is as cute and quirky as my favourite. Will report back!

Also, special thanks to Renee, Daniel, baby Isaac and James for a lovely day in the sun with delicious food, fabulous company and lots of yummy cuddles. Cheesecake was divine, and I think I've found some great new wineglasses (so different, loved them).

Contact details - Tania in Sydney

I'm starting to get ideas for new places to explore and things to try from my readers and I have realised that only those readers who know me can contact me. So I've set up an email account for you to send comments or suggestions to:
I look forward to receiving all your suggestions!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Weekend is almost here

Mmm, suddenly I've gone from a busy weekend with two overnight visitors to a quiet one with only one visitor and need to fill the gaps. I was only telling my friend JD today that I often almost panic on a Tuesday if I don't have weekend plans, but then they always fill up by Friday. So what will I do? It is almost Friday and I need to plan or else panic will set in!

My Mum is visiting on Friday night on her way to Mexico (so envious), so I'm taking her to Mother's Day dinner at Ripples Milsons Point (yes, I booked months ago), and drinks on my beautiful balcony.

I'm doing a fun run (or rather a fun walk because my right ankle ligaments are all stretched) around the Domain on Sunday morning raising funds and awareness about cancer. The friend who I was doing it with is unwell and can't travel to Sydney anymore, so I'm looking for company - please either contact me or make a comment if you'd like to join me on Sunday morning at the Domain.

And I plan to explore Summer Hill in the Inner West for a coffee on Saturday morning - I've heard some great things about its village atmosphere. I'll let you know what I think. Socially some nice things planned too - one of my friends is making the cheesecake that was on the front of last month's Delicious Magazine for lunch on Saturday - it looks divine (that caramel coloured cover with the baked caramel cheesecake with toffee chards). And I think I'll check out a new restaurant with M on Saturday (stay tuned for my review).

Funnily as I write this my weekend is filling up. The panic in my tummy can settle....

I do have some top tips for the week already:

1. Emma's on Liberty (Enmore) - reviews for this place were fabulous, and the food lived up to my expectations. Middle Eastern food, some say the best in Sydney - I thought it was really delicious, taste of those tasty lady fingers stayed in my mouth all night. Better value than I was expecting.

2. The Enmore Theatre (Enmore) - I saw Ross Noble during the Sydney Comedy Festival. The venue was a beautiful art deco building.

3. Mildren Prestige Motors (Artarmon) - my mechanic, and I really like these guys. They drop me at the station, pick me up, send me sms to remind me to drop it off and then pick it up, charge me less than the quote and wash my car. I'm about to spend a lot more money there on a new clutch......

4. SpecSavers (City) - this is an older experience, but I will mention it now. These guys got my contact lens script from the UK and filled it here, and somehow managed to charge me hundreds of dollars less than their original price for my contact lenses. Friendly, helpful and got the job done - all over the phone with ease. I'm yet to try them for glasses or a consultation though.

5. Victoria's Basement (QVB) - similar to Peter's of Kensington, but slightly different things. Cooking/homewares type shop, lots of things discounted.

Okay, I'm off to bed.

PS - Last week I read that eating eggs makes your hair grow faster, so that's why I decided to start eating eggs. And this week my hair has grown so much! I think it works. Eggs for long hair is my tip.

PPS - I'm trying to buy two new things for the kitchen: (a) a food processor and (b) a new icing piping bag (Fee, I wish I'd bought the one you suggested at Peter's - I put my finger through the bag of the $3 Woolies special the first time I used it). Icing cupcakes with a piping bag was so much simpler and looked so much better than my usual way of plonking icing onto the cupcakes with a spatula.

Monday, May 3, 2010

And the cupcakes made it into the Red Ted Art Blog

Check out Maggy's blog for some fabulous craft ideas (and check out her website for some great children's artwork and handmade cards).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

One month until Winter

Only one month until Winter starts and Sydney's weather is still impressive. Today was a beautiful 26 degrees and, after a foggy early start, the sun shone! So what did I discover in Sydney this weekend?

1. Chinatown with my Great-Aunt and Great-Uncle - like a mini Asia, and just next to Paddy's Market. I didn't realise it existed as a strip of Chinese restaurants before last night. Travelled by ferry which was great as usual. Definitely the best way to get around Sydney if you can.

2. Blackwattle Bay and the doggy park during a lovely walk with S&C from Glebe to Balmain by the bay and back again over the ANZAC Bridge. Great walk - thanks guys.

3. Zumbo's cafe and his bakery in Balmain - divine cakes, chocolates and macaroons. Yum! Not so sure about the breakfast, but all the rest is so impressive. Artwork and delicious too.

4. Victoire bakery in Balmain - didn't buy anything, but it all looked delicious. Next time...

5. Sydney Fish Markets - one of my favourite places in Sydney. I had the best sushi ever here today. Fresh and vibrant and a great place to have lunch in the sun with the seagulls. Don't drive - parking is a nightmare. I'm doing a cooking lesson there in June which I am sure I'll blog about. I also bought some of the yogurt and fruit salad to try tomorrow - looks yummy and reasonably priced, and comes highly recommended by S.

6. Castle Towers shopping centre - possibly the biggest shopping centre I've ever visited, thank god I was warned about the car park. Saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and wasn't as shocked as I thought I would be.

7. Special mention - I met brand new baby Jack. It is so special to meet a brand new person for the first time. He is just so beautiful and I was lucky enough to have a cuddle. Ahhh.

Best discovery - the suburb of Balmain. I absolutely love Balmain. I would live there, but I hear that traffic and transport are a problem. Shops are just great (quirky, yet sell things you want to actually buy), cafes are fabulous and not too posh, you can catch the ferry directly from Lavender Bay, houses are traditionally Australian cottages and just gorgeous, on the harbour, lots of authentic gumtrees and tin roofs. Once I took my Mum to a great natural beauty salon called Natures Energy in Balmain - highly recommended, completely relaxing. We even spent last NYE in Mort Bay Park in Balmain which had a surprisingly great view of the fireworks over the bridge and a really chilled relaxed family atmosphere (recommend it for next year - thanks Dave).

Cooking wise, this weekend I made eggs for the first time! I've always thought I hated eggs - but I actually love them! I also made some Hummingbird Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes which my work colleagues will enjoy tomorrow for another blogs theme month (Red Ted Art - one of my followers, check it out). I've given up on the ANZAC biscuits. I think the moment has passed. Might try flapjacks instead - I wonder if any of my colleagues have ever had flapjacks (I'd never had them before I moved to the UK).

I'll post some pics soon.

Tania xxx

Red Ted Art Blog

My contribution to the Red Ted Art blog creative crafty reader month!
Very British Hummingbird Bakery Vanilla Cath Kidson Red Polka Dot Style Cupcakes.

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Top pick of restaurants (so far)

This Week's Top Tips in Sydney - Restaurants (in no particular order):

1. Chinadoll Restaurant (Woolloomooloo Wharf) - I visited China Doll restaurant in March, and was so impressed I sent an email thanking them for such a great night. 'The food was amazing and plentiful, the cocktails divine (I've never tasted anything like the rhubarb cocktail), the location and decor is stunning, and the staff were just amazing. We had a very patient waiter who gave us just the right level of attention, was charming and indulged our less-than-sober states.' Superb is the only word to describe this place! Book a table - you'll thank me!

2. Ripples (multiple chains) - my all-time Sydney favourite. Both the Chowder Bay and Milsons Point branches of this mini-Sydney chain are just fantastic. In great locations - both with such typically Sydney stunning harbour views, and fabulous well-priced tasty food. Chowder Bay is actually my
fav. of the two, but only because the staff at Milsons Point are often a little rude, and they never ever let me just have a coffee, even if there is no one in the restaurant and it is 3pm (and it is pretty much my closest cafe). Whereas Chowder Bay let Sarah and I have a coffee once (and gave me a free pastry - albeit with a tiny huff and puff) But still I go back to both and always take my visitors - with views like theirs, they can almost get away with being just that little bit rude. Book ahead, well ahead! And BYO.

3. Table for 20 and Sticky Bar (Surrey Hills) - Great, great, great on so many levels. My main draw card to this place is its charity focus. And so many people rave about it - and it is justified! I think it is best described on its own blog, so I'll point you in that direction. The idea is great, the menu and food were great on the night we went, the bar upstairs is great. Just love this place - but it is difficult to book so plan ahead and be willing to go with their flow (they are in control, not you - just flow with it) and whatever you do, don't make the same mistake as I did and drive - I couldn't find a park and held dinner for 40 people up for over an hour (oops - more embarrassing, I coincidentally knew some of my fellow diners). It is important to be on time!

4. Bodega Tapas Bar and Restaurant (Surrey Hills) - I'm not normally a fan of Spanish food, but this was great. Be careful of the lucky-dip hot chillies - I got them all! Great cocktails again. Not sure about the booking system because Rohan organised it all, but the place was pumping - so you might need to book early and arrive on time (from memory maybe they phoned us when the table was ready!?). Recommended for Spanish Tapas.

5. Mother Chu's Vegetarian Kitchen (Pitt St, Sydney City) - How many nights have I ended up here, and how much do I love this place? The food is all vegetarian, in fact I think the whole menu is suitable for vegans. Tasty, tasty, tasty! A typical cheap and cheerful Asian restaurant - plastic chairs and tables, no alcohol, but that is half the charm. Try it - you'll love it!

6. Marigold Citymark Restaurant (Haymarket) - Trolley based dim sum! Oh it is great. This is one of my fav. ways to spend a Sunday lunch, and this huge dining hall in Chinatown is one of the best places I've ever found to do it. Trolleys after trolleys of great, fresh, unusual dim sum, with all your old-time favourites too. I'll never forget the plate I had which I renamed 'fruits of the forest'. Great value if you pick wisely, and lots of fun and fabulous food if you don't. No need to book ahead - go on an empty stomach.

7. Cold Rock Ice Creamery - need I say more? Pick a flavour, pick your filling(s), and chop, chop, chop on the cold rock and you have your own little piece of yummy ice cream heaven. Branches all around Sydney.

8. All of Kirribilli, to be honest! One of the best dining strips I know (but then I'm biased). Very busy on a Friday and Saturday night, most places do take away and BYO. Highlights include Garfish, Bangkok Sidewalk, the square pizza place, the fish and chip shop near the bridge, the chocolate shop, the bread shop, Freckle face, Stir Crazy, the Spanish place (although be aware, they often add more to your bill than you've actual ordered), and the Kirribilli Village Cafe. All very friendly places, and all places to take your newspaper for a long afternoon in the sun.

9. Lavender Blue Cafe (Blues Point Road, Lavender Bay) - how could I write this blog without mentioning a single cafe on Blues Point Road. I've only been to two places on Blues Point Road (and didn't eat at the other, so don't know if I can recommend it). But this place is just so friendly. The waiters knew what I wanted and needed before I did (on one visit I was being particularly clumsy and managed to drop each piece of cutlery a number of times, and mis-order a coffee I knew I didn't like, but the lovely staff were there to catch each knife and bring me lots of milk). I think it has recently renovated. Have the vegetarian breakfast stack - yum, yum, yum and quite guilt-free.

10. Bathers Pavilion Cafe (Balmoral Beach, Mosman) - one of my long term, show-off-Sydney-to-visitors type favourites. I can thank my godmother for introducing me to this cafe many years ago, and for recently giving me its very glamorous cookbook (which is full of challenges - such complicated and impressive food). There is a posh-table clothed restaurant side, but I'd give it a miss over the cafe side which is so nice in itself. Set on Balmoral Beach in an old building, this is a gorgeous cafe and the food isn't too bad either (breakfast is the best time to go). No bookings, so go early and be prepared to line up. Views of the beach are perfect - take your sunglasses and swimmers. I can guarantee you'll be taking your Sydney visitors too.

I hope you try some of these places and enjoy them as much as I have. Many of you who have visited Sydney will have already tried some of these places with me. I'd also love to find some new places! If you've got some suggestions and your own top 10, please let me know.
Crusted Beef with Pistounade Provencale, Roasted Grape Tomatoes, Garlic Mash & Warm Green Bean Salad with Almond Vinaigrette
so much taste and flavour on one plate!

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Unexpected discoveries & Kylie!

I'm blogging and I'm home late. Good intentions again to make those damned ANZAC biscuits, but sadly white wine got in the way. This weekend, this weekend....
Tonight I've gone beyond thinking about my four walls - to something more every day, although really, my walls are pretty every day to me. Milk - who do I share my milk in the fridge at work with. In some ways being an Australian in London was easier than being here. I share my milk with literally a hundred people - and I know about 3 of them. Would I dare say hello to them as I pass the bottle of milk in the morning - no, probably not. Because I'm no longer the Australian in London - I'm here at home, just like everyone else. No eye contact, just every day type normal stuff now.
And on my way home I saw a sign that really found its home with me - unexpected discoveries. It was a billboard about Korean food, but yes, unexpected discoveries. Life is funny, isn't it. And then I walked past MacDonalds at the station playing Kylie - if I had to do it all again, I wouldn't change a single thing. I'm beginning to feel like Carrie Bradshaw - what does it all mean!?
All I can say is METOO - and those in the know, know! Night for now - xxx

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Do you know your neighbours?

Just a very quick post because my flat looks like a bomb has hit it and I really want to finish my reading group book tonight. But I've got a question for my readers. I'm back from Canberra, and the key question in my mind right now is 'should I be living back in Canberra?'. (This isn't the question for you - my question to you is below). Living in a big city is almost a little isolating, even though there are so many people and so much going on.

Having spent a long weekend in Queanbeyan (although I say I'm going to Canberra, I really stay in Queanbeyan which is border town next to Canberra where my Mum now lives and where her family were based on and off during her life), I realised that there is a real sense of community in smaller towns. For example, after we went to the Canberra Dawn Service, we went to the 10am Queanbeyan ANZAC service which was all about the Queanbeyan community - every community group was out in force, most in their uniforms. A place where the local policeman knows everyone and what they are up to (and told me he is only new to town - I later found out he has been there 15 years, which apparently in a country town is only quite new). Compare that to my life in Sydney where I don't even know the people I share walls with!

So I ask you readers: Do you know your neighbours? Has a sense of 'neighbourhood' somehow left our society in big cities? Or do I live in the wrong neighbourhood?

Funnily, when I lived in London I felt a real sense of neighbourhood - I even chose to have my wedding in almost the same street. I knew every shop keeper, every beggar, bought my TV off a man down the street and all my neighbours were within hearing distance all the time (maybe that had something to do with the fact we were so intimate with each other that we shared a washing machine!). Why is Sydney so different?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Long weekend in Australia - ANZAC Day

This weekend we remember those who have given their lives to our country - ANZAC Day. I have always thought ANZAC Day, along with Remembrance Day, is one of the key dates of remembrance in the annual Australian diary. And I always feel quite emotional about ANZAC Day - I think it has far more relevance as an 'Australia' public holiday than Australia Day. I visited ANZAC Cove in Turkey last year which moved me tremendously. For more information on ANZAC Day, visit this website. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

So, I'm off to Canberra this weekend to attend Dawn Service at the War Memorial with my Mum and Fee at 5.30am on Sunday. It's a bit funny - although Canberra is my home town, in the 5 years since I've left I have forgotten so many things and Canberra has changed a fair bit, so visiting Canberra is often a bit of a discovery tour in itself. For those who don't know Canberra - it is the Capital of Australia and is an easy 3 hours drive south-west from Sydney. There are lots of things to do and see all year around, and life is pretty easy. More info on Canberra can be found on this website. If you haven't been - do visit, but plan your trip so you do get the best out of the Capital City!

This week's Sydney Tips:
1. The Zeta Bar at the Hilton Hotel Sydney - website - best cocktails I've even seen in my life, best glam bar I've seen in Sydney yet, and all so close to my new work place! Although it is on the $$$ side, it is worth it. Recommend the Raspberry Mule, simply for the presentation!

2. Fabulous hairdresser - Rohan Strachan (phone 0415 311 556 for an appointment) - based centrally in Surrey Hills, great touch and sense of style, listens to his customers, very fair prices, makes me feel glamorous.

3. The Apple Shop, George St - lots of fun just to play, personal shopping appointments with cute young men, and I only just realised, a great free place to check your emails in the City.

Cooking wise - I haven't made anything worth writing about this week (still need to make those ANZAC Biscuits, life got in the way of cooking this week unfortunately, but I'll make them on Monday). I did make mashed potatoes for the first time ever - and it was pretty good for a first attempt (I've only begun to like mashed potatoes in the last 5 years). Next week I aim to make something nice and savoury for reading group - need to give it a bit of thought.

Okay, I'm off to Canberra (shame, I hear it is raining there while the weather looks okay here). To those in Australia, have a nice long weekend, and remember to say a little internal thank you to all those who gave up their lives so that we can have the life we have now. See you Monday Sydney! xxx

PS - this weekend also marks my first wedding anniversary and I honestly think my heart might now resemble a big block of cold, hard, black ice. Celebration holiday to Port Douglas was finally cancelled last week (and no, Virgin Blue Holidays will not make it into my list of recommendations - I think they have even colder hearts than me!). I am sure making it through this milestone relatively sanely will be positive.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

SMH Article - Marriage

This could quite easily become 'Diary of a Divorce' which might be interesting to a different audience, but it is certainly not my intention. However, this SMH article by Miranda Devine on marriage struck a cord with me this morning. (hover over 'this SMH article' to link to the online paper)

Birds are chirping in Sydney, sun is shining yet again - it is shaping up to be a good day. Off to a farewell tonight - trying to encourage the team to do Karaoke (I'll post links if I find a good karaoke bar in Sydney).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Friday night in Penhurst - FranzList

To MacBook or not to MacBook?

My computer is almost dead - in fact, it dies almost every 15mins yet I always manage to revive it. I think it's time for a new one. So I'm seeking views - MacBooks seem to be the newest best thing in computer world. Would you buy one and, if you've got one, would you recommend it? Or should I buy another Dell? All I do it surf the web, play with photos, a little bit of music and tiny bit of word processing/excel. I'm amazed at how scared I am of computers - and there is a 10 day waiting list to have an appointment with an Apple technician at the Sydney megastore! Incredible.

PS - Australia really does have more talent than Britain (sorry guys). And Dannii is looking great as usual (now, this is relevant in the my showcase Sydney blog, because AGT is checking out Sydney's talent tonight).

Making full fat, full sugar ANZAC Biscuits tomorrow night - I'll let you know how they turn out. ANZAC Day is on Sunday. What a strange year it has been. I'm sure I'll blog more about it closer to the time.

Sleep tight - and give me those techie computer tips, please! xxx

Monday, April 19, 2010

New Baby Jack!

Just a quick post to say welcome to the world baby Jack! And congratulations to new Mum & Dad, C&A. New babies are just the most lovely news - such happiness for everyone and a brand new little person (also loads of great things you can buy little children - shopping for babies and children is one of my great addictions). I am so excited!! I can already imagine that he is the most stunning child, just like his absolutely gorgeous Mum (I hope he has her hair).

Tonight is a great TV night - my absolute favourite show on Australian TV: The Mentalist (I've been looking forward to it all day, and can guarantee I'll think about it all day tomorrow - how I love Patrick Jane, even though I find it so scary). And my first sesson of Australian MasterChef (which I've heard is so much better than the UK version - looking forward to forming my own view on it).

Low fat cupcakes went down okay at work today (R ate 3) - won't make them again though. I'm also going to concentrate on new soups for the next few months.

Okay, good night. xxx

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A beautiful Autumn Sunday

This weekend I decided to make an effort - I haven't done as much as I wanted to, but I think I've discovered just a little bit more of Sydney. As highlights, my Sydney weekend has included:

1. Friday night at the Penhurst RSL watching FranzList play after a traditional RSL Chinese dinner with my boss, his family and two gorgeous colleagues. FranzList are a group of twenty-somethings, and were fantastic! Impressive. I'll try to find a link and post it up here.

2. Cooking School on Saturday. Learnt loads and walked away feeling very inspired.

3. Shopping at Paddy's Market Chinatown with my Fabulous Hairdresser (and wonderful friend) - new lipsticks and eye make-up thanks to his good eye and professional recommendations for colours.

4. Ferry trip over the harbour home - stunning evening sunset, just divine.

5. Discovery of a new grocery shopping venue for me! Cole Big Ben Neutral Bay. Just perfect - although I crashed the car on the way out of the car park along a pole going up the one-way road steep blind spot entrance the wrong way (highly dangerous and mortifying situation, but after a few tears I'm okay and the car has also survived - I did think for a minute that maybe it was fate and I should go back to my good old Woolies....).

6. Prawns on the balcony in the sun (still wearing shorts and singlet top, in Autumn) - bliss.

7. Out of the blue showing my new friend the Swedish Jewellery Designer around my favourite places in Kirribilli (some pics below), including my favourite shop in Sydney so far, Wild Lotus (I'll try to find a link, but it is so boutiquey it may not have one (thanks for the initial tip LC). Maybe in a later blog I'll tell you a bit about these new people I'm meeting - I honestly think that some people you meet in the strangest ways, but that those ways don't seem strange at the time, and it all just feels quite normal and natural. Female relationships when you are 30 are quite different to those you form when you are 22. This new friend of mine has a blog that says 'a million tiny sparkling choices' - I think there is a lot to be said for all the little choices you make in your life which seem inconsequential at the time, but really are choices you make that make your future!

8. Another viewing of Julie and Julia with the Romance Writer and LC. More inspiration - I want to eat Artichokes in that wonderful buttery sauce. I just smell melting butter every time I watch that movie.

9. And cupcake making - this time low fat ricotta and walnut mini cheesecakes. My colleagues have a lot of them to eat tomorrow - I double the recipe so was playing with almost 2kg of low fat ricotta cheese (quite possibly my new fav food to cook with - if you have suggestions for ricotta recipes, let me know). Must say though - these cupcakes do taste low fat... Fee, see pg 293 of the book. Next time I'll try full fat.

Lavender Bay - this is my actual view from the flat

Up Early on Sunday!

Sunday morning, 6.30am - I've been up for a while, a very disrupted sleep again, maybe three hours of sleep... but I'm used to it now. One of the ways my body has reacted to shock is to turn off my ability to sleep. This is the first time in my entire life that I have had trouble sleeping, and I'm almost hitting the three months of sleepless nights mark (apart from nights when my friends/mum stays here, or I visit their places). And now, I'm sorry to all you new Mums out there, while I have complete empathy for your sleepless nights - it is no longer an excuse! And yes, I know sleeping tablets will help me - but I want my body to fix itself. It knows how to sleep, damn it.

So, what should I do today? It is a already a stunning day in Sydney! Sun is out, birds are chirping. I'm listening to 2DayFM (Sophie Monk is on - remember her from Bardot). Actually here is one passion of mine - Hamish and Andy on the radio (so, so funny and so many ideas that make me think 'who thinks of that!?!' and so, so, so good-looking). I love Saturday morning radio with Hamish and Andy.

Anyway, back to Sunday in Sydney. Each weekend I think it may be the last sunny weekend before Winter kicks in. I've been conditioned from 4 years in Europe where a sunny day is never, ever to be taken for granted. But, what you must remember is that I work full-time so I can't be a full-time tourist all weekend - I need to do all the 'admin' of my life - surely that can help me discover Sydney too?

Today I intend to find a new supermarket to use. My current supermarket is Neutral Bay Woolies (the nice one on the same side of the road as The Oaks pub). Neutral Bay Woolies is in fact special - it has 'singles nights' during the week where people go to the supermarket and show other shoppers what they are interested in by putting bananas in their trolleys. Now, I heard about this from a friend a few weeks ago, so on a spare Monday night took it upon myself to see if it was true (after googling to find out all the rules - yes, it has been going on for years). And it is true - on a Monday night in Neutral Bay Woolies you can cut the tension with a knife. Barely anyone was actually shopping. The night I went was the night I was preparing for a group of young women to visit my place for reading group - as such, my trolley was full of cheese, cheese and more cheese, dips, chocolate, twisties and mini-quiches, a 24 pack of toilet paper and about 20 bottles of sparkling water (another obsession: sparkling water, I prefer Coles Sparkling Water though and sometimes visit a Coles just for its water). I can only imagine what people were reading into my trolley. And no, I didn't even pick up a bunch of bananas - I'm way too shy for that!

So where do you shop?

I'm also off to the movies tonight with my favourite Romance Writer and LC, hopefully to my favourite cinema in Cremorne (Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne). Not sure what we will see.

But between grocery shopping, reading the Sunday papers (love Sunday papers), making mini-cheesecakes, reading The Girl with Dragon Tattoo and going to the movies, I might head out on a ferry for a little ride. Ferries are one of the best things about Sydney. Last night I caught the ferry home from Paddy's Markets (Darling Harbour) - Sydney really is best when seen from the harbour (and it is so lovely to see all the tourists and how excited they get by the bridge etc). I am very fortunate that I live near a ferry stop (Luna Park), now I need to explore Sydney by ferry.

So have a good day everyone! I'll let you know what I actually do today - good intentions are often only ever that.

Top Tips in Sydney:

Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne -

2DayFM (Hamish and Andy) -

Travel by Ferry -

(ps - can someone teach me to 'link' to websites please).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blogging - the real reason

The last three months have been the some of the most challenging months of my life - consequently, I now feel incredibly numb, tired and alone. I've read that writing often helps people cope with challenges they are facing. And I'm hoping writing a blog will help me move past this tricky period. I know my life is fantastic - and writing about it will help me concretely focus on moving forward, appreciate everything I've got access to (which is so much - I am so lucky!) and share with other people. I also hope it brings back some of my passion for all the things I love (but I'm sure 'un-numbing' myself will hurt).
Now, I'm going to stop blogging (it is addictive already). Damned school holidays - Luna Park is open late tonight - but I'm going to plonk myself on the balcony, enjoy this autumn evening and get cracking with the latest reading group book - the girl with the dragon tattoo! good night xxx


I love cooking, as many of you know. And I'm a pretty good amateur chef, even if I do say so myself. But I realised today that I've never really roasted meat, never ever made mashed potato, and didn't have a clue how to blanch vegetables. Today I attended a cooking class in Surrey Hills - and learnt so much. Who knew I could dice onions so professionally with so much ease! Such simple tips have given me lots of inspiration. Cooking may be a feature of this blog (even though its real purpose is to showcase Sydney).

My most thoughtful friend Fee gave me the cookbook 500 Cupcakes last weekend (she came to visit and together we discovered the shopping heaven that is Peters of Kensington). She suggested I work my way through the book. That is a lot of cupcakes to force feed my colleagues - but I'll give it a go. This weekend I intend to make mini baked cheesecakes (not quite cupcakes, but same type of idea) as a farewell for R.

Top Tips in Sydney:

* Peters of Kensington - fab shop, all the best brands including all my fav European cooking brands, discounted prices, free gift wrapping (gold/silver/pink - and choice of ribbon!) and you get a gorgeous re-usable pink bag.

* Cheeky Food Group - great cooking classes (I did Easy Entertaining with Style).

Starting a blog...

Hello! My first post on a proper blog of my own.

For a number of reasons I've decided to start blogging my life in Sydney. Having decided that it's time that I start to settle and ground myself in my new city of residence and start to think of it as my new home, I thought that making a little record of all the new things I'm discovering and how I'm spending time will encourage me to actually get out and about and explore this beautiful city (rather than chose the easy option each weekend and get on the Hume Highway back to Canberra where everything is all so familiar and easy).

So a bit about me - I'm Tania: a 30 year old professional woman. I'd like to think I could still be described as a girl - but I'm probably more a young woman or lady now. My home town is Canberra where I was born and lived for 25 happy years. I left Canberra in 2005 to travel the world - after almost 6 months in Asia, I ended up in London and lived there for 3.5 years (after a 6 month stint in Edinburgh). I had a great time living in London, travelling Europe and having a really fun time - lots of shopping and enjoying life (read - eating and drinking too much). I met my husband in London and after a whirlwind courtship we married in April 2009. We moved back to Australia in October 2009, but sadly our marriage wasn't to be. So now here I am, ready to start a new life on my own in this beautiful city which I already love so much.

For those of you who know me - this will give you a chance to see what I get up to, and for you to suggest things I should do (many of you know Sydney much better than me).

For those who don't know me - I hope my posts give you some good ideas of things to see and do in Sydney!