Friday, July 31, 2009

One year today...

One year today, almost to the minute, I was ringing my husband telling him to get to the hospital quick smart, as we were about to have a baby. Miss Sophia Rose Baker was about to make her debut into the world, 10 weeks early.

What a year it has been! A rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. Far too much time spent in hospital. And a heart full of love for such a sweet, sweet little girl.

Our darling Sophia, you have brought such sunshine to our could we have ever thought our family was complete with just three? We love you to absolute bits and are so proud of you, our feisty little princess.

Happy Birthday, baby girl!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The people you see...

I was trawling through my old copies of Delicious magazine when this familiar face caught my eye in an ad for Bulla Cream. Oh yes, it is indeed Masterchef's George Calombaris (with quite the head of hair!)

I guess my question is, how do you like your George, silky or smooth?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fashion Smashion: Your turn to play judge & jury

This week, I have selected eight outfits which I reckon could either be hailed as fashion Triumphs or Terrors. Your mission, should you accept it, is to decide which belongs in each category.

Do your worst, people...I'll chime in with my ideas once I've heard your verdicts!

Above left: Sienna Miller Above right: Jennifer Lopez

Above left: Ashley Greene Above right: Eva Mendes

Above left: Whitney Port Above right: Jessica Biel

Above left: Anne Hathaway Above right: Diane Kruger


What 'Tuesday' can't live without...

I think there's a little of the voyeur in all of us. That's why Tuesday Malone's Inside The Affair is so fascinating. In her own words, Tuesday (not her real name) is "a 30 something married woman who has, incongruously & no doubt inappropriately, collected a lover." Her blog charts the choppy waters of infidelity and is raw, honest and addictive. Go on, peek "Inside The Affair"...

  1. Sports Car - An indulgence I know, especially as my husband gets to drive it more than I do owing to the fact that it is illegal to put a baby chair in the front seat of a tiny, fast sports car. But let the record show it's MY tiny, fast sports car!
  2. ABC Kids - Please don't call social services (my mother-in-law has beat you to the punch), but I have found the Wiggles, the Little Princess and all the fine folk over at Play School (especially cute Matt) all make excellent babysitters. And they don't charge a cent.
  3. Persian Fetta - Leaves ordinary fetta standing in the stalls scratching its cheesy head. I put it in salads, risotto, pasta and am seriously considering spooning it onto my Weet Bix tomorrow morning.
  4. New Fangled Stuff - Despite a penchant for those Jane Austen-esque high waisted dresses and a bit of dilly-dallying with the Darcys of the world, I was SOOOO born in the right era. Can't imagine life without a computer and a mobile phone. Tragic and trivial - just like an Austen novel.
  5. Books - I actually break out in a rash and start foaming at the mouth if I find myself on a long haul flight or train journey and realise I have FORGOTTEN MY BOOK. I was the girl curled up in bed with a book while all the other girls were sneaking out to kiss boys at school camp. Yeah, really . . .
  6. Girl Friday - The toddler daughter who lights my candle, nay, the whole candelabra! Bright, funny & cute as bug's ears, despite frequent use of soggy weet-bix as hair gel & a worrying devotion to a man in a red skivvie who sings about mashed banana.
  7. Woolworths - If there was a prize for the person who visits Woolworths most frequently (no trivial, put-off-able purchase too small or too trivial) I would win. I love Woolies. I love the lovely ladies who work the checkouts midweek. I love the lovely fruit and veg and meat (they really ARE the fresh food people) and I'm sure they love me cos I spend so much money there.
  8. Yoga - The older I get, the stiffer the joints. Yoga is my sanity source. And it keeps me away from Woolies.
  9. Rose - You are described as 'a winsome and engaging tawny pink wine'. Who wouldn't want to spend their Friday nights with you?
Oh, and if you'd like to share what you can't live without, email me at

From the depths of my closet...

It was love at first sight. I was a new mum and had been schlepping around in flats for nearly a year...and then I saw them. Deep red leather, sky-high in the shape of a shoe.

I picked them up, caressing their curves...then sighed deeply and returned them to the shelf. I was on maternity leave and couldn't justify spending $150 on a pair of shoes I might wear once a season (no matter how much I loved them.) I left the store, determined to put them out of my mind...but like a spurned lover, they never truly left me.

A couple of months later, I returned and they were still there...but this time they were $70...and in my size! It was as if they had been waiting for my return. This time I wasn't strong enough to reject their advances, and I handed over my cash before I could have second thoughts.

Nearly three years later and they still look as good as new. There's a reason for that. See that dust on the shoe box?

I reckon I've worn them once a year since buying them but, you know what? I don't regret it in the slightest. Those three times I've felt sexy and confident and a world away from being 'mum'...and that makes them worth all the money in the world.

What's YOUR most impractical (yet most adored) item of clothing or accessory?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Beef Cheeks with Celeriac Puree...perfect winter comfort food

It's taken me a while to get my blogging mojo back after being stuck in hospital for a couple of weeks, so I hope you'll forgive my lack of quality posts and yummy recipes over the past month.
But I'm back!

I made Beef Cheeks with Celeriac Puree on the weekend - freestyled it with the slow cooker and damn! It was goooooooooooood. So rich, but goooooooooooood! Perfect winter comfort food...

what you need

for the beef
2 tbsp olive oil
4 beef cheeks (about 250gm each)
3 onions, halved, thinly sliced lengthways
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 fresh bay leaves
3 thyme sprigs
375 ml red wine
125 ml (½ cup) beef stock
1 celeriac
50g butter
small handful frozen peas
8 button mushrooms
2tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves (extra), crushed

what to do

Preheat oven to 180C.

Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add cheeks, cook over high heat until browned (3-5 minutes each side), then transfer to a plate. Add onion and garlic to casserole and sauté over low heat until starting to caramelise (8-10 minutes). Return cheeks to casserole, add herbs, red wine and stock, season to taste, then bring to a simmer. Cover, transfer to slow cooker and cook for up to 8 hours (or to oven and cook until beef cheeks are tender - 3 to 3½ hours).

Remove cheeks to a warm plate and strain braising liquid into medium frying pan. Cook over high heat and reduce until liquid is syrupy. Season to taste.

For the celeriac puree, peel and chop celeriac - immediately plunging pieces into a bowl of salted water (it browns as soon as it is exposed to air). Cook in boiling, salted water until tender then puree in food processor. Add butter and cream and pulse until smooth. Season to taste.

Remove stalks from button mushrooms. Combine butter and crushed garlic and fill centres of mushrooms. Place in baking tray and cook until butter is melted and flesh is golden.

Cook frozen peas in boiling salted water for six minutes, or until tender. Refresh under cold water.

To plate, dollop celeriac puree in centre of plate and drizzle beef cheek 'syrup' around the outside. Place beef cheeks in centre of puree and scatter peas around the perimeter, in the 'syrup'.

Serve with a gutsy red wine - we enjoyed Wirra Warra Church Block, one of my fave red blends. Yummmmmm!

Masterchef withdrawals...and a new challenge!

I'm just not coping without my I'm starting my own home version. You are all cordially invited to participate!

This week's challenge is a Mystery Box test. I'll give you 10 key ingredients (using what's hanging around in my fridge as a basis) and using those, and basic products from your pantry, you need to produce a main course.

Remember, you don't need to use ALL the Mystery Box ingredients, but at least a few of them.

By Friday, comment and link back to your photo/recipe details - or, if you don't have a blog, just comment letting everyone know what you've whipped up - and my expert panel (myself, Drew and Olivia) will decide a winner on the weekend!

Winner of this round gets to pick next week's Mystery Box key ingredients.

Are you excited? I know I am. Let's go! This week's key ingredients are:
  1. Chicken breasts
  2. Proscuitto
  3. Celeriac
  4. Cream
  5. Butter
  6. Sage
  7. Green Beans
  8. Chicken Stock
  9. Garlic
  10. Potatoes

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fashion Smashion: Right and Wrong

Precious little eye candy in the fashion sphere this week...but I did find these examples of celebs getting trends right and very, very wrong.

Exhibit A: Dress Shorts
Kate Walsh (left) looks ABSOLUTELY STUNNING in this white short-set. How gorgeous are those legs? Love everything about this.

One the other hand, Ashley Green's leather, high-waisted hot pants, floral blouse and gladiator flats ensemble (right) just doesn't work. The leather is far too heavy for the floaty top and the sandals too casual. Meh.

Exhibit B: Harem-style knickerbockers
I never thought I would like an outfit featuring harem style knickerbockers, but Beyonce (left) has pulled it off. Perfect length and accessories, and I LOVE the thick, waisted belt. Gorgeous.

I also never thought I'd be using Naomi Watts (right) as an example of bad fashion sense...but Oh. Dear. She looks like she popped by the red carpet on the way to get the morning paper. Those pants are seriously unflattering and the hair. Oh Naomi, the hair...did you even look in the mirror before you left the house? I'm putting it down to a bad night with the kids.

What current Spring/Summer trends will you be giving a run come warmer weather? Methinks I'll be giving both of these wide berth (I just don't have the legs!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Iris Can't Live Without

When I think of Iris of Fleur Delice I think of French style. Despite living closer to Canberra than Cannes, this lovely lady embodies Parisian chic in her fashion and food...I love visiting her blog for a little slice of le exotique.

Here are her essentials for la belle vie.
  1. My daughter: I think it goes without saying. This little lady is my moon, my starts and my sun!
  2. My better half: No, really, he is. He is a rugby-playing, trivia-spouting, vegetarian, origami-obsessed IT geek who likes to surprise me with books, plants and almond croissants…in short, my ideal man.
  3. Walking: Whether I need to get the groceries, visit a friend, explore a new city, put my wee lassie to sleep, meditate or counteract an almond croissant, walking is what I do.
  4. Patisserie and other assorted baked goods: What with breastfeeding and the arrival of winter, I am eating like a horse and this particular food group is proving most helpful.
  5. Tea: I’ll give up coffee, I’ll even give up beer, but let me keep my tea! The only day of 2009 where tea wasn’t consumed was back in January – when it hit 42-degrees.
  6. Cheese: If it weren’t for cheese, I’d probably be a vegan. I regularly have dreams about cheese. My favourite is goat’s cheese of any kind, followed closely by Brillat-Savarin, raclette, Saint Agur, Feta, mozzarella di bufala, labneh, paneer…um, the list goes on.
  7. Hot showers: In the interest of water conservation (and possibly due to laziness), I used to aim for a few shower-less days per week. These days I cling to my daily shower. Not only is life messier, but never have I appreciated having those 10 minutes of solitude so much.
  8. Books: The one thing I miss about life pre-baby is having the leisure time to devour book after book until my word-lust is satiated.
  9. The sea: I’ve tried, but I find it hard to live far from the seaside. It took 5 hours to get to the coast when I lived in France (yeah, I know, poor me), and during the European heat wave of 2003 I nearly poked my eyes out with forks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Life as the mum of a premmie

Long time readers will know that our youngest daughter, Sophia was in a wee bit of a hurry to enter the world. Well, I feel incredibly fortunate to have been asked to write a guest post for my favourite blog, MamaMia, on what life is like as the mum of a premmie.

Not only was it cathartic getting my feelings out on paper (or PC as it were) I have been absolutely blown away by the wonderful comments from readers.

Read it here!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Birth: Solo or Team Sport?

Oh dear, it's been quite the week for British men in the business of delivering babies.

First, as reported by The Daily Telegraph, midwife Denis Walsh tells women that that they're taking the easy way out by choosing epidurals and pain relieving drugs during labour. Now, it's obstetrician Michel Odent's turn to spark controversy.

According to, Dr Odent argues that men shouldn't be present when their partner gives birth.

"..a labouring woman needs to be protected against any stimulation of the thinking part of her brain, the neocortex, for labour to proceed with any ease...Yet, motivated by a desire to "share the experience'', the man asks questions and offers words of reassurance and advice. In doing so, he denies his partner the quiet mind she needs.

The second reason is that the father's release of the stress hormone adrenalin as he watches his partner labour causes her anxiety and prevents her relaxing...With a man present, a woman cannot be as relaxed as she needs to be during labour. Hence, the process becomes more difficult."

He also questions whether men are able to "easily cope with the strong emotional reaction they have when they participate in the birth", claiming he has seen "something akin to post-natal depression in men present at birth."

And finally, Dr Odent worries what the effect of a man's attendance at birth will have on the sexual attraction he feels towards his partner.

"When men began standing at their partner's side in labour, I remember my mother's generation saying that the couple's intimate life would be ruined. And, given that the key to eroticism is a degree of mystery, I'm left believing they had a point."

Look, I'm not going to get on my soapbox here and yell about what an idiot this guy is. I dare say there'll be a looooooong queue of woman waiting to do just that. What I will do is offer my own experience of birth.

For me, labour was an out-of-body experience. For most of the 14 hours I was in labour with Olivia, I existed in a hazy world of pain and wasn't aware of much else. Occasionally, I remember Drew would tell me to breathe and I would get pissed off at him and say "No!" but, for most of the time, it was just me and my contractions.

When things turned bad and an emergency caesar became the only option, THAT is when I really needed him. Because you don't want to face something like that alone...and I wouldn't even think of trying to.

Yes, I'm sure he found it traumatic. I know I did...but mothers don't really have the option to not be present at the birth.

And I'm sure he looked at me differently afterwards...but in a positive way. I was the woman who had endured intense pain for hours and undergone surgery to give him his first beautiful girl. There was admiration, awe and gratitude. Our relationship evolved.

To say that men don't belong in the delivery room is, I think, an insult to them. Yes, the woman carries the child. Yes, she is the one who ultimately has to give birth. But bringing a child into the world involves two parties - not just at the moment they take their first breath, but for the rest of their life. Shouldn't we start the way we mean to finish?

So, now it's over to you...should birth be a solo or team sport?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Does this ad make you want to eat skittles? Or have a little vommie in your mouth?

I've been living in the hospital bubble the last couple of weeks so, now we're home, I've been doing the hardcore catch up on my fave shows. While blubbering like a baby during the Grey's Anatomy wedding episode, I caught this ad.

I have no idea what it's trying to say but it makes me feel a wee bit icky. I'll never look at skittles the same way again...

What Amy Can't Live Without

This week, we meet Amy of The Tea Party. She's a Sydney chick, currently living over the pond...and she has excellent taste in bags! Have a squiz at what she can't live without!
  1. Phones - I need to be in touch with the world 27/7...well, I don't need to, but I sleep better at night knowing I can be.
  2. Unconditional Love - from my husband and my God.
  3. Music - my day would not be complete without it! I like to think of it as my emotional oxygen. I once read a quote by Victor Hugo ‘Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent’.How very true.
  4. Water – for drinking, for swimming and bathing.It’s my favourite beverage. I love it, and consume at least 1.5L a day.
  5. Coffee (plunger) - the smell of freshly brewed plunger coffee any time of the day is magnificent. My husband often refers to coffee as ‘life in a cup’- how true is that at 7 o’clock in the morning?
  6. My babies - I adore my 3 little angels, and know I wouldn't be the person I am today without them.
  7. High speed wireless internet - for surfing, emailing, skyping and more. If we ever return to Australia, I will sadly have to live without it.
  8. Who I am - knowing who I am, that is. I'm adopted, and come from an incredibly loving family, but still craved for identity. It is impossible to relay in a few short sentences the anguish of not knowing who you are, or where you came from, especially once your own offspring arrive. Finally, at the age of 23, by a nothing short of a miracle I found my birth family, and oh, the release, the relief and the joy that came with knowing is indescribable.
  9. Access to information - be it newspapers, libraries, magazines, encyclopaedias, I need to know it all, and am so thankful to live in a civilization that doesn't censor news or history.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fashion Smashion: The Hospital Edition

I'm a bit behind on my fashion, having spent the last couple of weeks gazing at not a lot other than nurses' uniforms...and I gotta say, I haven't found an awful lot to be excited about out in the celebsphere.

But, from beside a very chatty Sophia's hospital bed, here are some of my loves and loathes of the past fortnight...

Emma Watson (left) hasn't put a foot wrong on the publicity trail for the new Harry Potter film...but I think this is my sweet and feminine and perfectly summery.

Although I'm not a huuuuuge fan of the pieces that Heidi Klum (right) is wearing, she makes my Love List just for looking that hot while pregnant with her FOURTH child.

I want, want, want Jessica Alba's whole ensemble (left)...I can almost feel the sunshine on my skin in the fresh, floral print and T-bar flats. So effortlessly stylish.

And, if I had to pinpoint what it is I dig about Demi Moore's outfit (right), I think I'd have to say the sleekness. It looks perfect for a warm California night...absolutely white hot. The only thing I don't love? Her ankle-strap shoes...I think backless stilettos would have been a much better match.


Eek! Leighton Meester (left) gets points for making a bold choice, but loses them for her selection being absolutely hideous. Or perhaps I'm just getting old?

And Hayden Panettiere (right) makes me sigh with disappointment. She's such a gorgeous young thing, not even 20, and yet she insists on dressing like a woman twice her age. Even though the lace fabric in her frock is absolutely stunning, the sheer panels verge on skanky. I'd love to see her in something fresh and floaty.

And these two? There are no words.

For a second I thought Molly Sims (left) may have been attending a fancy dress party...or a Marilyn Monroe tribute event...but, no. A weird choice for someone who usually gets it right.

And Mel Brown (aka Scary Spice)...seriously, did you come straight from poolside? You could have at least put on some pants. Shudder.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A quick update

We're still in hospital...blah. But hub took the night shift yesterday and I spent a lovely night with my big girl (I never thought I'd be so happy to have cuddles at 5am) so I'm slightly refreshed and feel I can make it through to the end.

The good news? We hope to go home on Monday.

The not-so-great news? We'll probably be going home on portable oxygen which Sophia will need until her lungs recover. Will be tricky teaching a three year old not to play skipping ropes with the oxygen tubing but, hey, anything that gets us out of here is fine by me!

The bad news? Monday is still three days away and Little Miss is now feeling chirpy enough to be BORRRRRRRRRED and has decided she doesn't really need to nap for longer than half an hour at a time. It's been a long day...need some more tricks for keeping a bed-bound baby entertained. Anyone? Anyone?

The really crappy news? It's Liv's birthday tomorrow and, for the second year in a row, I'll be in hospital for it. I'm really upset that I won't get to be there when she wakes up as a big 3 but we'll try and make it up to her with lots of love (and presents!)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What Ceiridwen can't live without...

This week's Can't Live Without introduces Ceiridwen of "I'm Off Again in My World". I met this lovely young student through my fave blog MamaMia and her intelligence and thoughtfulness never cease to amaze me.

I hope that my girls grow up to be as interested in the world around them and confident enough to argue issues with a large community of women bloggers like Cerry does. She gives me faith in future generations...(I sound like an old fogey now, don't I?)

Anyhooooo...check out her essentials!
  1. My computer (which, by the way is NOT this shade of purple, despite the fact it's the colour Dell uses in all its promotions) I spend way too much time on it, and depend on it for all kindsa stuff I shouldn't, and I'd be totally lost without it. Also, it's purple (Sorta. It's really actually more maroon than purple. DAMN YOU DELL!)
  2. I'm cheating and grouping my pyjamas and sleeping together. I would live in my jammies if I could. And sleep is my favourite activity ever. At 19, I need to sleep for about 10 hours a night - yes, that's right, there are kindergarten kids who sleep less than me. Including naps (oh, and I take those too, sometimes).
  3. Music. I love to sing, I love to listen to music, and I love to dance while there's no one around to see how unco I am.
  4. This is my phone case. Inside it is my phone. The case is much prettier than the phone, hence it being photographed, but the phone is the thing I have an addiction to. It brings me important updates from people I don't see very often, like "The guys installing our air con are SO cute", organises my social life, and brings the amusement that is dad pretending he knows how to text.
  5. Chocolate is one of about 3 things I get cravings for (the other 2 being salt, usuall in corn chip form, and pizza), and it comes in oh-so-many wonderous forms. I also enjoy the most excellent sugar rush.
  6. My mum, who would kick my ass if I put photos of her up on the internet without her knowing, has therefore been replaced by a google image. I'm totally a mummy's girl - I still get grumpy with her when she leaves me alone with the stinky-head boys any longer than overnight, which the whole family thinks is immensely cute.
  7. Hugs (I quite like cute animals, too). Hugs make everything in the world happy again. Also, they're good for stealing people's body heat.
  8. My friends. In particular my best friend (that's me and her in the photo), who somehow manages to keep me sane from several thousand kilometres away, when people in the same house as me are failing at it. If I had to be stranded on a desert island with someone, it would either be her or mum.
  9. Books. I was the kid people wouldn't sponsor per book for the MS Read-A-Thon, because I'd get through 100+ books in however long it lasted. I'm also the person who no one wants to see movies-of-books with, because I come out bitching about how they got it all wrong.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A break in transmission...

A quick note to regular viewers...I've been in hospital with my poor little Sophia since last Tuesday. She's been struck down with severe bronchiolitis and is taking some time to recover.

As soon as we're home and well (please, let it be soon) regular programming will recommence.