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!