Tastings Room

I am still sorely lamenting the fact that I rushed from the office to Morton’s Bar at 6.15pm and I failed to get any of the free steak sandwiches. Greedy fellow patrons who grab two or three sandwiches at one go – shame on you.

We were starved after our martinis and needed dinner desperately. Since I had a hungry deal 30% discount voucher, I suggested checking out Tastings Room, located not too far at Marina Square. The place was packed on a Friday but I had called 30 minutes ahead to book and they very nicely showed our group of 6 to a small private dining area. Heh. I feel like a VIP.

The food orders came fast – excellent. A few of us had the duck confit ($23) and it was pretty tasty, albeit dry in some parts. I liked the mash potatoes. Others who had the seared salmon ($23) said it was fresh and well-cooked too. Only the pumpkin risotto ($18) was not well-received.

We couldn’t not try the wines, given that the place was called Tasting Room. Bert suggested trying a Burgundy (atas palate) so we got a lower-price-range bottle of Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Château Pinot Noir at $89. Hmmm, nice honeysuckle and chalk nose, soft and easy to drink, but it’s lacking liveliness.

We weren’t too impressed with the first pinot, so for our second bottle we settled for a good value $64 “cannot-fail-us” bottle Kiwi pinot – the Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir 2009. It’s nothing too elegant, just plain vibrant black cherries and plum, but we liked it.

I can’t say the food was fantastic but it was adequate enough for me to log on to hungrydeals again the next day to buy another discount voucher. Will return to try the appetizers and maybe a bottle or two of the other wines.

I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane

.... and i aint coming back ( til Thursday evening ). My bags are packed to head off and take the three flights it will take to get to Rockhampton for my annual work conference. It might sound like a bit of a junket - leaving good old DubVegas and heading to sunny Queensland - but if its any consolation it will be two days of pretty boring meetings and presentations. I may or may not have to eat my weight in mints just to stay awake.

Image from here

Anyhoo, basically this means i'm going AWOL from the blog for a few days. I'm not one of these awesomely organised bloggers who has some posts scheduled to go live while i'm away so, until Thursday night, you'll just have to get along without me. I know, I know, it'll be hard....

Blu Kouzina

I'll admit it. I am a typical kiasu Singaporean. But if making a reservation a month in advance to secure an unforgettable dining experience is what it takes, I’ll do it. Giving myself a pat on the back for an excellent choice for a group dinner gathering!

Blu Kouzina’s been on my radar on a while and judging by the reviews online and how hard it is to get a reservation, I daresay I’m not alone. It’s a lovely place indeed. Think Santorini’s white washed walls, blue doors and windows, an open concept kitchen, bustling dinner crowd and you’ll hardly feel like you are in Singapore.

Since there were 6 of us, we decided to order a selection of mezedes (greek tapas) and kreatiko (meats) to share. I must compliment the efficiency of the kitchen because at 8.30pm we were all starved and the food came very promptly after we placed our orders.

First up was the melitzanosalata (smoked eggplant with herbs). It was very flavourful and we wiped it up greedily with our order of pita bread, fresh from the oven. Yums, great way to start the meal.

Next, we had the saganaki (goat cheese) with figs and sauce. It didn’t look like much but I thought it was very good – the sweetness of the figs complimented the saltiness of the goat cheese perfectly!

The spanakopita (filo pastry with spinach and feta cheese) was a big hit. Everyone loved it. Crispy crust with warm creamy filling, I wish they sold these frozen so I could buy some home to pop into my oven.

Only K ordered an individual portion of lentil soup and he said it was very hearty. The rest of us devoured the kalamaki (beef) souvlaki and the paidaki stin Sxara (lamb chops). Oh dear, not enough to go around. The portions of these mains were a tad small. Luckily the mousaka (oven baked eggplant with potatoes and mincemeat) - comfort food - filled us up.

We splurged on a psarika anamikta (grilled seafood platter). $98 seemed a bit expensive but when it arrived, we were quite pleased with it – there was a whole red snapper (400g), 3 Jumbo Prawns and a large squid. Everything was grilled to perfection and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and lemon. The taste of the ocean reminded me of my surreal holiday many years back island-hopping in Santorini, Mykonos, Paros and Crete *big sigh, those were the days*

We washed all these excellent dishes down with “dry white wine” recommended by the owner of the restaurant. I didn’t know them Greeks made such good wine. We had 3 bottles of the Mercouri Estate Foloi White 2009 (Korakohori Ilias, Greece) – fantastic value at $38 a pop (unbelievable value). The wine is made from a blend of Roditis & Viognier. Rather reminds me of a sauvignon blanc, but this is pale yellow in color with a much fruitier and floral aroma and taste.

For desserts, we tried the baklava and the yoghurt with spoon sweets. The baklava gave a sweet end to the meal. I liked the spoon sweets but I miss the creamier and sourish yoghurt I had in Greece (that was my breakfast for 2 whole weeks and I never got sick of it).

I am already planning a return trip to Blu Kouzina. The service here is great (although the manager looks a bit stressed) and I really appreciated how enthusiastic the sommelier was in introducing us the wines. Greek wines are definitely worth exploring and all the better, when at a lovely greek restaurant like this.

Quaraba'r (Siglap)

I was on half day leave and Dee was free, so we decided to pop by our friendly neighborhood bar for some happy hour one-on-one girly catch-up. We met at 6pm and were the first customers there – yay the whole place to ourselves! Not for long though, because by 7pm+ the place started filling up.

Quaruba’r is as good as neighbourhood bars come. They have excellent happy hour prices and the wine selection there is surprisingly quite varied. I had a very pleasant bottle of Errazuriz (Chilean) sauvignon blanc at $68.

The pub grub there is more than decent and portions are hearty. Yes that huge plate of nicely fried and fresh calamari was only $9! The fish and chips I had there the last visit was respectable too. I will try the beef burger the next time I’m there.

The jazz band comes on around 9pm+ and they are pretty good. All in all, Quaraba’r has never failed me. It is friendly, cosy and familiar, the perfect place for a can’t-be-bothered-to-dress-up night out with old friends. Gem of the east?


Polly Dolly - Birthday Babe

You read it right - its another Polly Dolly. I'm running a little late on this one... partly because i work Fridays and partly because Polyvore was being a pain in my arse and it took me forever to get this set finished. But never mind that! This week the lovely Dani from Danimezza would like to see our cutest outfit for a .....

Polly Dolly - Birthday BabeMy little Flynn will be turning 2 on December 27th - the perfect time of year for a cute summer-y outfit. I found these great denim shorts ( which arent too long, but arent shorty shorts either! ) and paired them with this sweet ruffle top, in the perfect mauve/purple shade. Throw on a pair of gorgeous wedges for a bit of height, and some wooden bangles to tie in with the brown in the shoes. A pair of sunnies are mandatory for a summer party and then all thats left is the party! A " Sesame Street " theme would actually really suit my Elmo/Cookie/Ernie mad son so that great cake and some colourful balloons will be all we need!

Tonny Restaurant

I love the makan outings organized by Makansutra. The restaurant picks are always spot-on and often corkage-waived – it is sheer bliss being in the company of so many fellow gluttons (“foodies” is a nicer term) and winos (“alco*****”). Not only do I get to sample the signature dishes at new restaurants, I am also blessed with generous friends who care and share good wines!

This August, we visited 利宝饭店 Tonny Restaurant, located along the Joo Chiat stretch. I had high expectations of Tonny, whom, as I read online, was a semi-superstar of ex-Shatin Restaurant fame. He probably sees himself as such too, seeing from the huge moustachioed signage outside the restaurant *grin*.

At $45 nett per pax, the food we had was a steal:

Trio of crispy yam with truffle oil, smoked duck and crispy fish skin

- Mini Buddha jumps over the wall

- Wasabi prawn balls

- Steamed pating fish with ginger and chilli

- Bailin mushrooms braised in abalone sauce

- Steamed boneless chicken in superior soup

- Special fried rice in lotus leaf

- Golden banana ball in milk cream

There were hits and misses. The signature crispy yam failed to impress (where was the truffle scent?) and the smoked duck was just so-so. I only liked the tasty broth they served to dip the crispy fish skin in. Other non-memorable dishes were the wasabi prawn balls, bailin mushrooms and chicken. The dessert was.. bleh.

The star for me was the Buddha jumps over the wall. That pot was full of chunky goodness – whole silvers of shark’s fin (oops, sorry), dried scallops, mushrooms, even some (baby) whole abalones. This single dish in itself, was worth my $45.

Strangely, the other dish which stood out for me that night was the fried rice. It must have been one of the nicest I’ve ever eaten. Good wok hei, every single grain was evenly coated with fragrant sauce and they were generous with the shreds of dried scallop – I cleaned the bowl clean! Yup, there’s a long run on the treadmill right there.

The steamed patang fish also deserves some mention. Personally I loved the seasoning but the fish was just too oily for me. My friends devoured the dish, picking and sucking the bones dry.

It was overall an enjoyable dinner, especially considering the wines I got to sample. There was some interesting winegeek talk about the Tyrus Evan 2003 Malbec (Argentinean grape with a green card, from Oregan) and the Irvine 2005 Zinfandel Reserve (American immigrant to Barossa Valley Australia).

Since Tonny’s right in my neighbourhood, I’ll probably be back to sample the other dishes. The Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon dish (Lobster, Egg White and Dried Scallop) and the Full Cream Crab Congee sound so good.

Teacher Talk Tuesday! (ignore that I'm posting it on a Thursday)

In honor of new teachers, here is a list of my Top 10 things I learned in my 4 short years in my fabulous job.  Thank you to those who shared these pearls of wisdom with me!

10. Plan, plan, plan!  Be intentional with your teaching and make every moment count.  Over plan and carry over what doesn't get done to the next day.  You never want to be at a loss when you have 25 pairs of eyes staring at you.

9.  Your classroom speaks.  Think carefully about how your classroom reflects the learning taking place in your space.  Everything should be on purpose and for a purpose.

8.   Present yourself as a professional.  You are an educator- not a babysitter.  You should always dress and act accordingly. (This doesn't mean be a frump!  Color that hair when needed- ha! ha!)

7.  Keep learning.  Try to pick out at least one professional book each summer/ year to read that will improve your practice.  We have book clubs at our school that are a fantastic way to explore what others are doing in education.

6.  Find something to love in each and every student.  They must believe that you care about them in order to feel safe and secure, and then they will learn.  (This includes the little ones that make you want to cry in a fetal position under the desk!)

5.  Ask for advise and learn from the teachers in your building (or in another building).  It is so important to have a mentor to speak openly and honestly with on a regular basis.  It is helpful if they have similar teaching philosophies, but it's not mandatory.  The important thing is to have someone to talk with who wants to help you grow.

4.  Research your district/school's resources for learning interventions and special education needs.  There is a system and it will need to be followed in order to be an advocate for your students.

3.  Remember that your family comes first.  It's very easy to let your work consume you.  They must stay your #1 priority.

2.  Learn to laugh at yourself and enjoy your time with your students.  Laughing will make the crying times shorter.  We all get overwhelmed sometimes.

1.  Teach with your heart and never lose the idealism and love for learning that brought you to this AMAZING gift of a profession.

Hop over and check out more tidbits for new teachers and read other inspiring blogs!

Over The Hill And Far Away

So remember how i said i was trying to get all my ducks in a row? Yea, well - those ducks have officially flown off and deserted me. Gone north for the winter or something. Either way, those ducks are no longer lined up the way we wanted them to be, which means the dream of family home ownership is still not in reach.

There go my ducks... ( pic from here )
So - poo to that. Basically i went to the bank we are already with ( again - which bank? ) and basically got told we can borrow pretty much jack squat, and I got pretty basic customer service to go along with that little announcement. To be quite frank i got the feeling that i wasnt worth enough money to the bank for them to bother trying too hard to help me. So poo to the bank!

Then i went to Aussie Home Loans and spoke to a mortgage broker there who, despite telling me we could get a fraction more than jack squat ( which was better, but still not enough to buy a decent place ), was really lovely. She was really helpful - not only did she run the numbers to see how much we could borrow, but she also gave me some alternatives, and some advice in how to get moving in the right direction. Actually, she gave me such good customer service i think i might write a little thank you " Thumbs Up " into our local paper.

So basically - we arent in the position yet to sell my duplex and buy a family home. And where does that leave us, seeing as we are hoping to expand our family in the very near future? It leaves us with.... converting our garage into a third bedroom/playroom. I'm not sure whether it will add value to the property when we can afford to sell it but, seeing as we arent in the position to move, converting is what we need to do in order to have enough space for a growing family.

Have any of you converted your garages into "inhabitable " rooms? Any advice? Or anyone looking to donate a couple of hundred thousand dollars to a young family?

La Maison Du Whisky

3 whisky lovers found malt/grain heaven at La Maison Du Whisky last Saturday night. We used to walk past it, slightly intimidated, back when it was just a retail outlet. Now that they put in a bar and seating, we found ourselves instinctively walking in.

Why haven’t we discovered this place before? Wow the whisky selection is really impressive - I know I say this quite often but “I wish my home bar looked like this!” Equally impressive was the décor – dark wood panels, lush leather seats and warm inviting lighting. Uh oh, I am so coming back here (often).

We eagerly started on our whisky journey. Starting from one end of the Scotch spectrum, I had the Aberlour 15 year single malt whisky – typical Speyside (also home to Glenlivet, Glenfiddich and the Macallan with heavy emphasis on fruit notes, with a hint of vanilla. A nice one to start off with.

Ling had the Springbank 10 year old, a great introduction to the Campbeltown style - mildly briny with some iodine from the sea. I took a sip and indeed, it was very pleasant. Ndee loves the peatiness of Islay scotch and he went straight for the Ardbeg Uigeadail from the Islay region (where my favourite Laphroaig and Lagavulin hail from). A whopping 50 – 60 ppm (parts per million of phenol), he was literally “smokin’ after one sip. Heh, next time, try the Ardberg “Supernova” - 100ppm phenol!

Feeling a bit peckish, we ordered a chocolate platter to share. Nice! I love pairing whisky with chocolate, they go so well together yums. To end off the evening, we order an apple brandy -

Christian Drouin calvados 15 years from Normandy, as well as the Pappy Van Winkle family reserve 15 Year Old Bourbon Wood. Hmmm.. love.

We were having such a lovely time that when the bartender announced at 12 midnight that the bar was closed, we couldn't help but pout. Oh well, it's ok, I am sure we will be back very soon!

(PS. Check out the not-for-pregnant-lady- consumption sticker on the bottle)

What To Wear? What To Wear?

So - next Monday i'm off to a conference for work... in sunny Rockhampton, Queensland. I know its not going to be as glamourous or as exciting as Blogopolis ( oh yes, still harboring some jealousy here... ) but, like you ladies who were lucky enough to be able to attend in Melbourne, i need to figure out what to wear. I have a day of plan trips on Monday ( on the way up ) and Thursday ( on the way back ) and actual conference meetings and activities on the Tuesday and Wednesday. Bearing in mind that though this is technically a business conference the dress code isnt especially corporate, and taking into account what kind of weather northern Queensland is going to throw at me... what in the bloody hell am i going to wear?

The decision might be easier if i had a wardrobe like Kate Bosworths...

Methinks jeans and a comfy top are a no-brainer for the two days of travelling. I'll be buggered if i'm going to do a Lady Gaga and trip around Sydney and Brisbane domestic airports in my fanciest clothes. Nope - jeans and comfy cotton shirts, flats or possibly sandals and a slouchy satchel all the way for this little traveller.

For the conference itself - Day One i'm thinking a cute dress, black tights and boots. Khaki suede, stacked heel, ankle boots to be exact. Boots that say " Dont walk all over me, because i might just stomp back ". An outfit that shows my feminine side but that finishes off with a touch of hard-arse, i-wont-be-pushed-around attitude.

Day two , traditionally a bit more of a relaxed day - maybe slim fit dark jeans, white cotton blouse and flats. More formal and more pretty than the jeans-and-t-shirt combo, but still comfy enough to last through a day of (probably very boring ) presentations.

Yep, thats what i'm thinking. Of course, there is still the whole ritual of trying each outfit on, perusing myself in the mirror, and asking Mick what he thinks before i even consider packing my bags.... What about you? Do you pre-plan your holiday/conference outfits down to the day? Do you ponder each outfit option for weeks in advance? And do you think my boots are going to kick arse?

Meet the Teacher!

In honor of Teacher Week at Blog Hopper 
(Teacher Week), I'm posting some fun (and hopefully helpful) stuff this week.

A little about me...

I am married to a VERY patient man and have two smart and funny boys.  They all keep me very busy, as I follow them around with my camera catching the hilarity as it happens.  Here is a photo of us at the closing of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure 3-Day Walk (60 miles!) last week.  It was my second time walking and it was AMAZING!

I am crazy compulsive (I've been referred to as a pitbull by my mother- I grab a hold of something and don't let go!).  I rarely do anything half-way!  If I'm reading a book, I read the whole thing in a day or two.  If I take on a project at school, it gets done.  You get the idea :)  I also have an addiction to office or school supplies and art materials.  I love the smell of fresh crayons!  I am also a photographer and scrapbooker (when I finally get the photos printed!).

How long have I been teaching?
This will be my fifth year teaching.  My first year, I did a long term substitute position in a full-time kindergarten classroom with 29 students (whoa!).  I learned so much!  The following year I was hired by my fabulous district (on the outer edge of my commute time limit) for a kindergarten position in two different buildings (we were on an all day alternate schedule).  It was confusing, but I learned to be even more organized and to treat every class differently.  I was making different lesson plans for each building to best suit the students' needs.  My second and third year with my district, I was teaching all day, every day kinders in ONE building.  Yeah!  I have made this school my second home :)  Due to a drop in numbers for kindergarten, I was able to move up to a first grade position for this coming year.  In case you are keeping score, this will be my 5th classroom in 4 years!  (I get around int he building!)  I am super excited to be making a change and experiencing a new grade level.

What you may not know....
Like many others, teaching was not my first career.  I actually went to the Art Institute of Chicago to study 2D art and sculpture.  I ran out of money after two years and moved home.  Under duress, I started the business program at Oakland University (while working a retail management job).  I actually failed the same math class 3 times (so embarrassing!) and had to leave the program.  At the time, I was taking my humanities credit course (art history) and the instructor suggested switch to Art History.  I did and graduated with my BA nine months after delivering my first son.  I loved the idea of research and study, but museum jobs are hard to come by.  Praise God!  When my older son was in preschool, I found my bliss.  I volunteered in his classroom and realized that it wasn't the art or research that I loved- it was the process of learning!  I returned to Oakland University that year and earned a MAT in Elementary Education with majors in language arts, social studies and early childhood (Remember the pitbull thing?).

What I'm looking forward to this year....
 In a word, EVERTHING!  There is so much I can't wait to experience with new eyes. There is magic in learning and I'm so blessed to be able to help children everyday learn and grow. I have the best job in the world. Where else do you get a hug at the end of the day after you've been on their case for not following directions?

What I want to improve... 
I'm really focusing on Conscious Discipline and using work stations to maximize learning. I'm also working on the workshop model for reading and writing. Although I have been using it for 3 years, I'm starting fresh in first grade.

What teaching supplies I cannot live without...
  • I love my Mr. Sketch Markers!  They make me smile as I write.  I find myself smelling them each time I switch colors.  I even found my kiddos doing the same thing last year during interactive writing!  

  • I also need my anchor charts with drawings/photos.  They keep us on track and help focus on learning.  

  • My books!  I love the way it sounds when the pages turn and the kiddos are sitting, with baited breath, to find out what happens next.

Be sure to "hop over" and check out other lists from the teacher blogging community!

Each Piece Tells A Story

So - guess who's started sleeping in a big boy bed?

No, not Mick, he still has to share one with me (ha! ). No, no, at the tender age of almost-20 months we have decided the time is right to put Flynn into a " big boy bed ". No more cot, and no graduation to a toddler bed ( i cant justify the cost of a toddler bed... ) - just straight from cot into a standard sized single bed. A solid, retro style tubular bed, which has long ago been repainted blue. Why "long ago " and "repainted ", you ask? Because Flynns very funky new big boy bed used to be.... mine. Its been recycled and repurposed, thanks to the very generous donation of my parents and my sister ( who previously had it in the spare room of her old flat ).

Ignore all the spare blankets and bags of clothes stashed under the new big boy bed....
This bed started out life as a set of steel tubular style bunk beds, in a lovely, girly fairy floss pink ( as was chosen by my parents. I've never been much of a pink girl myself ). When i outgrew the novelty of bunk beds my very handy Dad decided to be thrifty, took the bunks out to the garage and, using an angle grinder and some precise measurement, sliced the bunk bed in half - resulting into two solid single beds. Not being a super fan of pink - and being a moody girl in her early teens by this time - i chose to repaint them blue. And now almost 15 years later, one of those repurposed bunk beds has ended back in my possession, and is a very reliable ( if not slightly pink flecked in places ) first big boy bed for my little man. Hows that for recycling?

A little toy corner - a mini wheely bin full of stuff, plus a book shelf of plush toys...
And hey - it may not be the coolest piece of very retro, almost vintage furniture to ever see the light of day, but at least it has a heartwarming story....

Literacy & Math Work Stations

So, I'm set and ready for my Literacy and Math Stations.  Okay, I have the labels made for the board but not filled or ready to go!  I haven't hung the charts up, but I've got a plan.  I'm attaching 2X4 size labels for the cards that will be in the chart.  I am attaching these to colored card stock (gotta make it pretty!), then laminating them.  I will have 12 stations for each subject. 

I wanted to thank and send some love to Mrs. Meacham for her AWESOME clip art and inspiration.  Please visit her website for more AMAZING ideas and resources at: www.jmeacham.com

Math Stations page 1 labels
Math Stations page 2 labels
Literacy Stations page 1 labels
Literacy Stations page 2 labels

The Dempsey Brasserie

It might be a new joint but the Dempsey Brasserie rocked. Good customer service is such a refreshing breath of fresh air! We were impressed from the moment we arrived and the manager (I think) warmly showed us to our table. A waiter almost immediately appeared and asked if we would like some iced water. Nice.

"Pick a nice bottle of white wine" Papa Bear says. Heh, ok. I look at the wine list and decided to pick a bottle of 2008 Valduero Sobresaliente 9 from Ribera del Douro, Spain ($65) which looked interesting. The wine was a light straw colour and had a very nice aroma of pineapple (100% albillo grape). I was surprised by how light it was, until a quick google on the iphone showed that it only had a 9% low alcohol graduation.

It was just the 3 of us so we decided to order a few things to share - trio of mini burgers ($17), mussels in mariniere ($36), rocket salad ($11) and roasted poussin chicken ($28). We upgraded the fries (came with mussels) to truffle fries with grated parmesan for an additional $5.

The mini burgers were pretty good, although nothing can beat my favourite ones from Overeasy. Besides ketchup and chilli sauce, it came with a buttery sauce which I thought was quite nice. Roast chicken was nice and moist but the portion was a bit small for the 3 of us to share. More please.

The mussels and truffle fries were definitely winners. Mussels were sweet and fresh, much better than those from Brussel Sprouts. We couldn't resist drinking the mariniere sauce like a soup and cleaned the pot dry. Very satisfying, haha.

Mama Bear came to join us later and we decided to order some desserts to share. The chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream ($14) was excellent but the suzette with orange and vanilla ice cream ($12) was a disappointment. Oh well, we can't win it all.

Kudos to the excellent service staff who made our dinner such a pleasant one. I'm making plans to return with Sis for brunch.

Little things make me happy...

I've neglected my blog or a few weeks, as I've been hard at work in my new classroom.  As I approached the room, I just had one goal in mind- to make our school living space beautiful, with clean lines and welcoming to my new friends.  I've been trolling other blogs, looking at everyone's cute and creative ideas.  I am so impressed by my fellow teachers!

I'm still unpacking boxes so I only have one picture to share at this point.  Truth be told- I'm all that ready to capture the process on film.  I have to share my sweet little bookshelves that I scavenged from my old kindergarten teammate.  They were originally slate blue (to match the ugly lockers in our classrooms!).  My borders in my room are a soft apple green and shades of blue.  Those pictures will come next week.  I just want to clean up more clutter (God help me!).  My new shelves make me happy.  I realize that it's not world peace or anything, but it calms me and I think the kiddos will just love them.  They are a perfect fit for under my white board that spans the front of the classroom.

The photos look a bit greener than in real life.  The color is actually a bit softer.  The bins from Lakeshore Learning it perfectly.  Don't you just LOVE when things fit as if it were made just to hold that item?

Getting All My Ducks In A Row

Alrighty - so you may have seen a few of my Tweets this past fortnight or so begging for someone to buy my house ( or to lend me a few thousand dollars ) ? Yes well, i have the itchiest of itchy feet.... our little duplex is great and all but i just want to start the next chapter of our lives NOW. However, until this week, i havent done anything to make that happen other than trying to will myself to win the lottery. Apparently, no matter how hard you wish, you cant attract absoluetly EVERYTHING into your life...

An " Edward Scissorhands " neighbourhood - that'd be nice...
So i've decided i'm going to be proactive about this whole " lets buy a house" thing. I've gone to an open home for a house that would be in our price range, and i've had a chat to the real estate agent there about the market, how much we could expect to sell the duplex for, and how long it might take.

I've made an appointment with our bank ( which bank? ) to see the home loan specialist, so we can figure out how much we might need to sell for to cover the existing mortage, plus commission/solicitor/etc blah blah blah, but also so that we can (hopefully) be pre-approved for a new loan. That way, Mick and I can have a realistic expectation of what we might be able to afford to spend on a new property.

I plan on making an appointment with a mortgage broker when i'm done at the bank. Mick isnt too keen ( he thinks we stand a better chance at the bank because we're existing customers ) but i want to know exactly whats available to us. I dont want to find "the" house, get a loan with our existing bank and then find out we sold ourselves short.

After all that, our plan is to list the duplex when we get back from our honeymoon, and begin looking for a new house right away. If everything fell into place ( which, lets face it - these things rarely do ) we would be able to sell the duplex and find a new house within a few weeks of each other, and move out of one and into the other before the 6 week settlement period was up. If we cant find and move into a house in that 6 week period... well, then it looks like we'd move in with my parents for a while. " Argh, no, dont do it! " i hear some of you shouting ( Holly is probably behind her screen screaming at me right now... )... but thats the only workable solution. If we did have that period in between selling and buying and we didnt move in with my parents we'd be homeless. And as frusturating as it may be to live in a household that would contain 5 adults ( including my sister ) and one toddler well... its gotta be better than having nowhere at all to live.

So - bring on November i say. Wedding, honeymoon, Wiggles concert ( i know - excited much!?! ) and listing a house.... you know, if my stress doesnt kill me first!


I watched this musical in London a few years ago and loved it. Clever plot, interesting twists, hilarious dialogues and great special effects - BRILLIANT!

Good news, WICKED is coming to Singapore from 7 December 2011 to 29 January 2012! Tickets range from $55 to $165, a tad pricier than the 30 pounds I paid, but trust me, it's worth every cent. It's really one of the best musicals I've been to and I enjoyed every minute of it.

This is the "untold story" of the Witches of Oz. Before Dorothy dropped into the land of Oz, there were two little girls - a smart but unfortunately green-coloured girl, and her best friend, a beautiful, popular little miss sunshine. Watch how these two friends fell out and came to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good. The Wicked Witch was sorely misunderstood! I won't spoil it by telling you more, but do grab tickets yeah. You won't regret it.

Polly Dolly - Ladylike Lingerie

Thursday has rolled around already and that means its time for Polly Dolly, as brought to you by the fabulous Dani over at Danimezza. This week Dani is being a bit saucy and wants to see Polly in her....

Polly Dolly - Ladylike LingerieThis is exactly the type of thing i'd love to have with me on my upcoming honeymoon - a silk chemise in a beautiful colour, matched with some lacy ( yet comfy! ) knickers. A spray of flirty perfume to help me feel super sexy, some candles and a glass of champagne to set the mood and.... bom-chika-wow-wow! Let the honeymoon baby-making begin! Some rocky road and strawberries to share afterwards ensure a sweet end to the evening... and maybe some  energy for round 2 (wink wink, nudge, nudge )...

Adventures in Picnicking, Old School Style

Oh in the summertime, when the weather is high.... ok, so its not summer yet. Nor spring for that matter. However, over the past weekend we did have some lovely weather here in Dubvegas so we got together with my parents, my neices ( who were staying at Grandma and Poppys for the day ) and my younger sister to go on a proper, old-fashioned picnic. We packed ourselves some lunches, i made some delicious cheesecake brownies for dessert, and we took all the kids ( big and little ) out the park/play area at Taronga Western Plains Zoo ( our favourite playground in town! ). Unfortunately we missed out on a picnic table because when we got there every table was taken up by birthday parties - from what i could tell there was 3 seperate birthday parties going on....
 But no matter because there is lots of open space to run around in ( and a fence around the perimeter so little people cant run into the car park );

There is the great jungle gym/tree house. Flynn can climb up the ramp by himself and giggle his guts out when he goes down the slippery dip. The bigger kids climb right up the top and yell out at the top of their lungs " Hey Grandma! Hey Aunty Amy! Hey, i'm up here! "...
There were Daddies enjoying the sunshine on their picnic rugs ( looking good baby! )....

...and Poppies pushing little people on the swings. Flynn loves the swings and at the age of almost 20 months that the appropriate noise to make whilst swinging is " wheeeeeeeeeeee ! "
 There were also beautiful neices galore! The very cute MissB on the wobbly bridge....

 And the just as pretty, if not slightly more adventurous MissH at the end of her flying fox run.

 Then you had Grandma's playing hide and seek with cheeky little boys ( who then got bark in his shirt and proceeded to itch and scratch... )

And little boys who just l.o.v.e sand and dirt and all things grotty.

And, at the very end, there were silly Mummies ( with no make up, freckles and all ) and crazy Aunty Pippy's ( who had run out of bubbles to blow for the kiddies... ) making silly faces. Ah, a day in the park.... hurry up spring and summer can i do that every weekend!

The Loft

The boys (my nephews) have tuition class at East Gate on Saturday afternoons so the nice Ayi (that’s me!) decided to take them out to lunch before class. The Loft, being just opposite East Gate, was the natural choice. AL had been there and gave it good reviews.

The Loft is simply decorated with plain tables and floral upholstered seating. We sat at the ground level but I peeked up into the “loft” upstairs and it was a bigger area with sofas and a small book shelf. Looks like a nice chill out place. It was eerily empty for a weekend noon though.

The boys order the standard fish and chips ($12.90). Little Noddy, the budding food critic, announces “This is nicer than Fish & Co.. But my mashed potatoes are too lumpy.” Chuckles, the quieter nephew, just sits there with a delighted grin, stuffing his face with fried fish.

My marinara pasta ($12.90) paled in comparison to their fish and chips (which was, based on the tiny morsel my nephews shared with me, really good!). They were generous with the mussels but I just felt the pasta lacked flavor. Our appetizer of teppan calamari wow-ed me though. The squid was fresh and grilled perfectly such that it was soft and moist, not rubbery. I loved the accompanying thai chilli sauce and mopped the plate clean.

Good food at very pocket-friendly prices. Definitely a keeper!