Monday, November 25, 2013

More Melbourne

Part two of our Melbourne long weekend. In the style of true gluttons, we planned our days around food and bars that we wanted to visit, and coupled hedonism with lots of long walks.

On Friday morning, the weather was a bit cloudy and cold, but seemed perfect for a longish walk. We had a long and delicious breakfast in front of the fire in the hotel library:

Mid-life crisis shoes got an outing, but only inside: Melbourne weather was too capricious for their outside use.

The sort of breakfast we would never have at home: French toast, bacon and OJ for me, just about everything possible for J. We had massive plates of fruit, too. I managed to refrain from having a Bloody Mary, but only just.

After such gluttony, we then walked lumbered through the Botanic Gardens to the city.
Melbourne's Botanic Gardens are far bigger and more impressive than Sydney's, with lots of amazing areas and different parts to explore.
We spent a fair bit of time exploring, but then felt the need for lunch.

Don't these succulents remind you of delicious salad leaves?

We had lunch at Canteen, which is a cafe on Flinders Lane in Melbourne that has a very simple menu of a few dishes. We both had Lamb Tagine with couscous and some Pinot Grigio.
This is the interior. I love the old school chairs and tables:

I was feeling a little worse for wear, but the wine helped.

The rest of the day was spent meandering up and down the various streets and lanes of Melbourne's CBD. Lots of looking, but no shopping!
We went to a place called Ginger Boy for dinner, but we only took a couple of photos, so you'll have to take my word for it that the food was delicious Asian hawker-style food. My only gripe would be that it was rather cold and stark inside... not the most comfortable or welcoming of places.
Pulled pork dish that we inhaled in about 30 seconds flat

A chilly day, so we set off for a walk around Armadale. I'd never been here before, but it's a charming area with a lot of nice shops and cafes. We walked around some of the residential streets perving houses and gardens, then had a snack in one of the many cafes

Plus a bit of a shop.....

Anniversary present from J. Can you guess what it is??

The weather in Melbourne is almost British in its ability to change seasons by the minute.
It was cold.... then sunny and warmer.... then cold and drizzly.

We decided to head to Fitzroy for lunch and more walking.

Part 3 to follow. Hope you're not getting sick of it!

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Excuse my absence over the past week. We have been away on a trip to Melbourne to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.
It was such a fantastic luxury to go away without the kids for 3 whole nights. Even though we manage plenty of nights out, we rarely go away for any length of time. 
As it was a fairly big milestone, we splurged on a posh hotel, recommended by Heidi, from Adelaide Villa:

The Lyall Hotel, South Yarra.
It was a fabulous hotel, and as it was our anniversary, they upgraded our room to a huge super deluxe suite, which was almost as big as our house!

(Thanks so much for recommending this place Heidi - we LOVED it!)
There's a spa in the hotel, so I booked a full body exfoliation/wrap and a facial for the afternoon of our arrival. I don't have much experience with spa treatments, in fact this was my first trip to a spa, but it was utterly heavenly.  3 hours of total relaxation and divine scents. My skin felt ridiculously soft afterwards.

After my body resurfacing, J and I tarted ourselves up and had an aperitif outside the hotel.

Then on to dinner at a local Italian Restaurant, Caffe e Cucina, also recommended by Heidi.
Delicious food in a very welcoming and unpretentious venue. 
We had a lot of food and wine, then schlepped back to our hotel via the scenic route:

The blurry and slightly yellow pic sums up how I felt the following morning!!!
Altogether a great night out and start to our long weekend.

.......more to come later

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Birthdays, rain and gluttony

Sydney is suffering from very heavy rain at the moment, which is great for the land and water supply, but pretty gloomy for human residents. 
This weekend was J's 48th birthday, plus another friend's birthday, so there was a fair amount of feasting and debauching.
J's presents from us:

Books, chocolate and a Moleskine diary. He was very pleased.
As an Austrian, he's also partial to a slice of Torte:

Austrian coffee cake. The cake is soaked in espresso and brandy, then covered in fresh cream and almonds.
The children couldn't have it due to the high booze content, so they demolished this:

Eton Mess

Here are a few outfits from last week, lots of cardigan action due to the rather chilly weather.
I'm sure I've posted pics of the first outfit lots of times already. I'm a serious outfit-repeater......

J Crew cardigan, gardenshade skirt and APC sandals. J crew cardigan, Romance was Born top and Nudie jeans.

J opening his presents:

We're super busy with end of school year/semester/stuff. 
And yet more birthday parties.....

Did you have a good weekend? Do you have lots of parties in the coming silly season? I love them, but do end up feeling a bit exhausted by it all.
Come January I'll be hanging my liver out to dry......

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Leopard cardigan

Another weekend draws to a close. This one was crazy, weather-wise. 30 degrees C on Saturday and down to about 13 degrees C on Sunday. Brrr.
However, the drop in temperature allowed me to wear my new leopard print cardigan, which I bought from the lovely Ina, from the blog Ina in Wonderland.
It's a J Crew Tippi cardigan, so made of lovely soft merino wool. I had thought it wouldn't get much of an airing until next April or so, it being almost summer here, but thanks to the mad weather, it seems that I may get a bit more wear out of it this year.

J Crew cardigan, Nudie jeans, Isabel Marant boots, Gorman coat, Mulberry bag and crazy hair.

We spent the weekend in full socialising mode. The silly season is well under way. On Friday we had a friend over for dinner, then hosted a dinner party on Saturday too. It's pretty hard to stick to my low FODMAP diet at times like this, so I cheated all weekend. I wonder if I'll pay the price this week.....

I'm not wearing all my leopard print together (that will have to wait) but I did pile on a bit here. 
I don't think I'll be able to wear the belt and cardigan - just too much, but I reckon the shoes with the cardigan OR the belt work quite well.

I hope you're having a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

J Crew Review: calf hair belt

As some of you may know, just before deciding on a 6 week stop buying stint, I had a bit of a leopard  moment and bought quite a few leopard items.
The shoes were first, but then came a belt, a phone cover and finally a cardigan!
The cardigan is still en route, and I have no phone to put the cover on yet, but the belt arrived last night, so I thought I'd give it a whirl today and write a bit of a review.

The pics are a bit blurry, but as you can see, it's a lovely colour. It's calf hair, and made in the USA. I got size XS, although I wouldn't say it's particularly extra small. The total length is 91cm (36"), and the holes allow for a 66 - 76cm waist (26 - 30").
This would mean that truly small women would need to make extra holes. It's ok for me, but if I want to wear it as a waist belt, I might need an extra hole.
Vanity sizing really is annoying for petite people.

 Here are some pics. I'm wearing it with a blue cotton sweater, j crew Andie chinos and the new leopard shoes.

Hopefully I don't look too tragic.

Pics of the phone cover and cardigan will follow, plus everything together for those who requested it!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November resolutions

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions, but this November, I've decided it's time to implement a few changes to my life.
Nothing too drastic, just a few minor tweaks to my daily habits. I am very much a creature of habit (some would say I have an addictive personality), so it usually takes me a good 6 - 8 weeks or so to alter my behaviour. I am quite disciplined in some ways, but certainly lacking in other areas.
So, my November resolutions are to buy less stuff and not binge drink at weekends.

This is not going to be easy for me, as buying stuff is just too easy these days. Back in the day, consumption would involve actually going to a shop during opening hours. These days, of course, we can shop all day from our mobile devices, making the process of spending seem very unreal. so, I'm going to not buy any clothes (or related items) for the next 6 weeks. Then I'll take stock.

Drinking too much at the weekend is also going to be a hard one to stop, so I'm not aiming to stop altogether, just not get to the terrible hangover stage that I seem to manage at the moment.

Linked to alcohol consumption is the other thing that am doing - sorting out my ongoing gut issues. I've been doing this since September, so it's not really a November resolution. 
Naomi, from the fab blog Coulda Shoulda Woulda visits the Mayr clinic fairly regularly, and posted about her visits there earlier this year
The idea of a detox sounded like a good idea for me to consider, as I've suffered from IBS for many years, and recently it has become far worse. Naomi very generously sent me this book:

It's a very interesting approach to inner health, and I did consider doing it, but knowing my metabolism and lifestyle, I decided it was just too drastic for me to do at this current stage in my life.

As a result of the book, and Cilla from the blog Cilosophy, I made an appointment with a dietician to look into doing the Low FODMAP diet, from Monash University's research into IBS.

You can read more about the low FODMAP diet here - it's basically about cutting out fermenting sugars that sit in the large intestine and ferment, causing the various symptoms that fall under the umbrella of IBS.

Anyway, I did a 2 week elimination diet at the beginning of September, and the impact it had on my health was truly remarkable! I felt like a new person - no more debilitating pain and frantic dashes to the loo! the diet wasn't draconian, it simply involved cutting out foods containing FODMAPS:

After the 2 week elimination diet, I've been 'challenging' various foods I've eliminated, to work out which were the culprits. So far I've found that I can tolerate garlic and gluten in small amounts, but that onion and honey are not at all good for my gut. It's amazing how awful eating onion makes me feel - I can't believe that I've never realised before. I love onion, but am now trying to avoid it in daily life. This is easy at home, but harder when eating out. 

Next up is lactose, which I suspect is no good for me. I rarely eat dairy products anyway - hate milk and haven't touched it since I was about 6 years old - but I do try to eat natural yoghurt from time-to-time.

In addition, alcohol, particularly wine, seems to irritate my gut after a certain amount. Three glasses of white wine seems to be my limit these days, so even though the silly season is upon us, I shall be attempting to show some moderation. I failed this weekend, so must TRY HARDER next time….

Finally, here are some outfits from the end of last weekend and Friday night dinner with friends.

Friday night out for dinner. New Gary Bigeni dress. Wore flat leopards to walk to dinner, put on blue Mulberrys later:

Work outfit Friday. Gary Bigeni blouse, Nudie jeans, J Crew cardigan and APC sandals.

My weekend was super social, with dinner out on Friday (too much booze!) and a 51st birthday do on Saturday night (very moderate booze consumption). We spent Sunday at the pool and tidying the house.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend and sorry for the lengthy post!