Archive for July, 2010

More More More!

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Very quickly – the latest monkey addition (if your name is Gillian, look away now.)

Monkey

Winter Monkey – All rugged up for the cold

And a slightly better photo of the chef dude:

Chef

Chef dude again!

Off We Go!

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Zaum will be on hold for the next week as I head to Sydney tomorrow to visit my best friend, and then I continue on to Melbourne. My brother is meeting me in Melbourne and we’re off to see Goldfrapp perform. VERY EXCITED. I can’t wait. I love Melbourne and would like to live there one day. There’s something very exciting about that city and it has a real life to it. Sydney is also nice but I find it too much of a commercial hub, although I do enjoy the outer suburbs like Glebe and Newtown.

But I just thought I’d warn you that there won’t be anymore updates until at least next Friday and I wanted to make you all very very jealous. So bonne semaine a tout (tous?). You know you’ll miss me.

Joyous Moments

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Last night I experienced one of those moments in life where you just smile and are generally amused at what the world is throwing at you. I decided to kill myself by doing a pump class at the gym, but the experience was made far more enjoyable by the fact that the class was run by a steroid-filled, slightly darker haired version of Chuck Norris. Never have I pumped iron so hard.

Chuck Norris

Buff as.

The New Master Chef

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Stand down Adam and Callum, the real Master Chef is here. He’s handsome. He’s ‘European’. He has a moustache.

Chef sock creature

I werk in zee keechen

This little dude is the latest addition in my sock creature collection. I’m very proud of him as he developed on his own, sans pattern. The part I love most about making these creatures is how they transform – just like Miss Universe, Little Chef changed from a rabbit to an alien to a fat Italian lady back to an alien and SUDDENLY A CHEF WAS BORN! The moustache made him become who he is today. I love him… I want to start selling these but I love them too much that I can’t even consider giving them away! Perhaps people can adopt a sock creature like you can adopt a child in Africa. You pay a monthly sum that goes towards the sock creature’s education and food and every now and then you will receive a card in the mail saying “Thank you for your money! Here is a drawing I made.” Then everyone is happy! Good plan.

Must Develop Self Control

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

So I clearly am addicted to online shopping. I must now admit to a very off-the-cuff purchase I made simply because I saw a bargain. Yes, I have now official purchased a Catch of the Day and I’m not entirely sure why…

Catch of the day

It was a bargain!

I have never previously bought sunglasses without trying them on first, but when a pair of $49 glasses are on sale for $14 and they don’t have any branding OR bling on them, how could I say no?

Sunglasses

Do they suit me?

They’re a bit plasticy and I can see why my current sunglasses cost about 15 times as much, but what a deal!

P.S. Catch of the Day currently has a Catchathon with over 200 products on sale. I dare you…

C’était Trop Bon!

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

I have a question – Why is French food so expensive in Perth? Just because it’s French doesn’t mean it is worth forking out hundreds of dollars for. You’ll just have to pay even more money later for a heart operation once the fat/butter/cream gets into your arteries. Sure, it’s tasty, but so is Vietnamese and that only costs me $10 from Viet Hoa.

Sunday morning marked le Grand Événement when my boyfriend was supposed to be able to speak French as well as he can speak English. Six months prior, he had made big claims that through learning French via his iPhone and weekly lessons he would be fluent. I said, “No.” He said, “Yes.” I won and am now going to be taken out for dinner as my prize. However, our move to Paris is largely due to me wanting to go there and he is agreeing to come with me and so to thank him for putting in the effort of learning French I took him out for dinner on Saturday.

I searched high and low for a nice French restaurant in Perth that a. wasn’t ridiculously fancy and b. didn’t cost me an entire plane ticket to France. They’re hard to find. I finally settled on La Cascade, a gothic-fronted restaurant located in Chelsea Village on Stirling Highway in Nedlands. I was a little bit concerned because I had read mixed reviews and the exterior of the restaurant didn’t scream “THIS IS A GREAT PLACE TO EAT!” But wow. What a meal! You choose three courses from the longest menu I have ever read for the reasonable price of $65 a head. Of course being French, the main meals are all meat and vegetables are additional, plus water comes in an Evian bottle and not from the tap. But overall definitely worth it. The night we went it was eerily quiet (although the friendly owner assured me it had been flat out the night before) which meant you couldn’t talk very loudly or the other five people in the restaurant would hear you. However it did result in speedy food delivery which is something close to my heart. Want to see what we ate? Prepare yourself for dodgy iPhone photos because I left my camera at home AND it was dark.

Entrée

Chicken Crepe

My crépe with mushrooms, chicken, cheese, spinach and asparagus. A meal in itself.

Garlic prawns

Tom's garlic prawns. He even ate them slowly with his eyes closed which just shows how much he enjoyed them.

Main course

Lamb

Lamb rack with a mustard and spice rub. Delicious but that's a lot of meat for me.

Beef

Tom's beef rib. It was HUGE and Tom claims it to be the second best steak he has ever eaten. Thankfully the top prize doesn't go to Hog's Breath Cafe but to a restaurant I took him to in Melbourne! HOORAY!

Dessert (aka most important part of the meal)

Chocolate mousse

My chocolate mousse – deliciously rich and with a nice hint of rum. Pity about the unnecessary cream and glacé cherry but the giant sugar net made up for it! YUM.

Creme caramel

Tom's creme caramel. Again, more spun sugar. Very tasty although I have had better.

And so we rolled home. Definitely two thumbs up for the French dining experience. I even had the waiter cracking on to me which made me feel like I was back in Paris. Ahh… French men. So forward.

La Cascade on Urbanspoon

Milestone!

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

HAPPY HALF-BIRTHDAY ZAUM!

Today is six months since I officially declared Zaum open for business. Amazing! To be honest it feels like I have been doing this for a lot longer, but at the same time six months is a big number. I haven’t fallen in a ditch, I still have hair (and it’s still blonde) and while there have been a few tears it has also been a lot of fun.

In my first blog entry I listed a number of Zaum Plans that I hoped to achieve. Let’s see how I’m progressing…

  1. Write an awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, tear-jerking, stomach-hurtingly-funny blog – You bet I have! Best Blog Eva.
  2. Step into the world of Freelance Writing Well I do claim to be a freelance writer whenever someone asks. I have written copy for brochures, websites and display panels over the past six months and managed to get return business. Thank goodness for word of mouth.
  3. Write brilliant books – Less successful in this area but I’ve had plenty of ideas! I think this is a more appropriate task for next year when I actually have something interesting to write about.
  4. Learn how to sew – I didn’t realise I had set this as one of my goals and I have KICKED ARSE at this one! Have you seen my brilliant sock creatures? If that isn’t a sign of sewing talent, I don’t know what is.
  5. Prepare myself to move to France in 2011 – I have a plane ticket. I’m counting down. How much more prepared can one be 187 days before moving to France?
  6. Learn French – This is also in the works with my weekly chats with my new Parisian friend. Not only do I learn French, I’ve also made a new friend who likes eating cake! BRILLIANT.

So those were my goals and now that I have performed a six-month self-reflection, I can see that I am clearly the best person for the job as Zaum President. I should probably work on the “earning money” part of running a business but I have the “enjoy the experience” section down pat. Now on to the next six months! Should I set some new goals? Have I mentioned I hate goals? Just for fun, I’m going to call them my KPIs and have regular meetings with myself to check in on my progress.

  1. Create a sock creature menagerie and sell them for the big bucks. At least one has to be sold to someone who isn’t a friend or family member.
  2. Work towards getting some products (perhaps my sock creatures) in a shop.
  3. Get some more writing work that does NOT include university course descriptions. As much as I love my reliable University clients (thank you, thank you, thank you!) I need to escape the mind-numbing tedium of “Study at…” and “You will gain the skills and knowledge to…”
  4. Do some more art courses. I’d like to do woodwork…
  5. Get a French Travel/Work Visa with as little fuss as possible.
  6. Be leaving for France four days after Zaum’s anniversary.
  7. That makes me think I need to build up my blog readership so that people continue to read when I move to France, meaning more people will buy my award-winning book next year! YAY!

Sounds like a plan to me. The next six months suddenly look very exciting.

Chocolate calzone

To celebrate this momentous occasion, I share with you one of the most insane things I have ever eaten – A chocolate Calzone in Rome. It's full of chocolate. I almost cried, it was so good.

Fancy Lunch

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I love it when relatives from overseas come to visit – it usually means I get to go to nice restaurants and eat lots of good food. My second cousins (I make up this term because really I’m not sure what relation they are to me – my mother’s cousin and his wife. Anyone know?) from Gouda in Holland have come to visit. I visited Gouda in 2007 and went up a windmill on International Windmill Day. That was fun. There’s cheese hanging in the street in Gouda.

Gouda

So cheesy.

As they come from the city of cheese, we’re under immense pressure to deliver high quality food. Nothing less than the best! This is a lie and they’re very easy going but it’s a good excuse for spending a sunny Wednesday driving to Jarrahdale to have lunch at Millbrook Winery.

The setting of the winery is beautiful with a wood and glass restaurant situated overlooking a pond. Sounds nice, hey? Well here’s a photo because description isn’t my strong point:

Millbrook Winery

So pretty.

Wednesday lunchtime is a good time to visit as it’s not excessively busy and you’re guaranteed a table by the window. The food was delicious but not faultless. We shared three tasting plates, one of which was a wonderful wild mushroom bruschetta coated in an addictive garlic infused olive oil. The second plate was a salmon dish which I avoided due to my dislike of smoked salmon, and the third was an avocado and buffalo mozzarella thing. The cheese was wondrous but sadly the avocado wasn’t ripe! Avocado shouldn’t crunch in your teeth and so it was a bit disappointing.

I had a warm eggplant, buffalo mozzarella (can’t get enough) and polonaise crust salad for my main meal. Now that I am home I can google what “polonaise” is because it was damn delicious and I presume some sort of bread considering what I ate… Well initial investigations told me it is a dance which doesn’t really work. But I have since learnt it is hard boiled egg yolk, breadcrumbs and parsley which all fits nicely. Excellent.

Mozzarella salad

So good.

It was DELICIOUS. The cheese was the highlight (of course) with three large lumps sitting on the plate. The eggplant was soft and tasty and that polonaise stuff… yum! The only odd thing was the sprinkling of capers which I found unnecessary but I’m not a huge caper fan so perhaps I’m just being biased.

We’d all purposefully left room for dessert and I chose the chocolate and hazelnut torte.

Chocolate cake

So ok.

To be honest I was disappointed as the cake seemed almost… old. I’m sure it was fresh but it had that dry texture that comes with leftover chocolate cake. It was very solid and the icing on the top was quite pointless. I’ve had much better chocolate cakes in my life (I’ve sampled a few…) and can’t say I was bowled over by this one. The serving was huge and, me being me, I couldn’t stop eating. So I gorged the entire cake and was left feeling rather chocolated-out. Three hours later my guilty conscience sent me to the gym where I almost regurgitated a very expensive lunch all over the very expensive gym shoes of the girl on the treadmill next to me.

All in all the experience was very pleasant and I’d certainly be willing to return to Millbrook if anyone would like to buy me lunch. I really like the winery grounds – pretty trees and sloping hills.

Seed pods

So spiky.

The drive home was interesting as we took the ‘scenic route’ that lead us through Armadale, Kelmscott and Maddington. I commented to my fellow car travellers that there are so many shops and fast food places in that area that I’ve never heard of before and have never experienced. I captured this beauty as we stopped at a traffic light. How I love the suburbs…

Bootleg Home Brew

So Australian.

Millbrook Winery on Urbanspoon

She’s So Pretty!

Monday, July 19th, 2010

The arrival of my make-your-own-sock-creatures books got me itching to sew last week so I quickly finished my work in order to whip out the sewing machine on Friday. I attempted a frog pattern from my Stray Sock Sewing, Too book and while it looked good at the beginning, things started to go slightly pear shaped.

Frog sock animal

That ain't no frog.

I’ve had many frogs in my backyard and they certainly don’t look like that. I had cut the eyes (the lumps at the top of his head) too far from the heel of the sock and so he grew a bit of a nose. But I decided to go with the flow and see what eventuated. For a while my frog was going to become a fox. Then I turned him upside down and he became a moose. But I found some scraps from an old sock and created a great set of lips that would suddenly turn this very masculine creature into a lady. Fiddling with a strap of red… BAM! There she was. In all her splendour and glory – my Miss Universe.

Miss Universe

She's all style

The addition of big button eyes and some amazing eye lashes and she became a creature of pure beauty. Something was missing though… Clearly she was in need of some hair. BIG hair. I have finally had time to make the additions and here she is. I present to you the next Miss Universe, 2010. Perfect timing for the event that happens on 23 August! She’s sure to win.

Miss Universe sock creature

Beautiful. Intelligent. Tanned.

Not the greatest photo – she does have a head of hair. She’s going to go far and is already adopting orphans.

Quite pleased with my creation – obviously she needs a name. I’m thinking ‘Creatures with Character’, each sold with their life story. Perhaps even an explanation of where the sock came from. Speaking of, still need more socks! Seriously… give them to me.

Early Morning Baking

Friday, July 16th, 2010

By 9am this morning I had a delicious slice baking in the oven. I love early morning productivity.

It’s my Grandma’s 88th birthday tomorrow and the family is gathering at her house to celebrate and I am baking her a Ginger and Almond slice to be consumed by the hordes of family members attending. Ginger is a popular flavour on this side of my family as my Grandparents are dutch and those Dutchies sure do love ginger and spice. I have baked this slice on previous occasions and it is always a winner. I am currently looking forward to tasting it with my morning coffee. I have to make sure it is edible…

Ginger and almond slice

Can't beat crunchy outside, chewy inside.