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Latest in wet weather shoes

March 22, 2012 8 comments

You know it’s been a wet year when high-end fashion houses start selling plastic shoes.

These little VWs followed me home from Sydney (oops) and could be seen walking the streets of Brisbane today.

Isn’t the Brisbane City street art gorgeous? Sandstone carved with an image of a traditional ‘Queenslander’.

All-plastic high heels by 'Melissa' and Vivienne Westwood. Just amazing what can be done with plastic. Sadly, I couldn't take them all....

Brisbane today:

Chanel gumboots, anyone?

Gumboots, up close (in case you didn't believe me).

Or, Chanel thongs? Translation: Expensive flip-flops (in case readers are looking for underwear. In Queensland, we call them 'thongs', whereas the undergarments are G-strings).

Hug Mug & Chocolate OD

February 27, 2011 4 comments

I rather like chocolate, so I took it upon myself to try out a chocolate bar on the Gold Coast. My friends might be surprised to learn that I’ve never quite recovered. The photos might explain why.

Chocolate bar

While I was happily drinking my hot chocolate in a “Hug Mug”, I was thinking two things:

Dark hot chocolate, milk hot chocolate (skipped the white hot chocolate)

1. Isn’t this mug a great idea?
2. What does it remind me of?

Hug Mug (was a man standing up, or sitting down, when he thought of this?)

As if sensing my thoughts, Miss Six asked, “Mummy, why does your mug look like a men’s urinal?”

After that, nothing quite tasted right. Otherwise, I would highly recommend the nearest chocolate bar, though you might like to order a bit less than we did….

I've never met a chocolate thing I didn't like ...

Everything with its own chocky dipping sauce

Milkshakes in curious vessels

Just a tiny bit more? (Monty Python's man with the bucket comes to mind)

Brisbane City markets

February 26, 2011 3 comments

An unexpected delight this week – a fresh food market in the city!

Just some of the little lovelies …

L-l-lurvved the spelt fig pistachio bread!

Funkiest little finger limes, Aussie natives!

Beads of lime heaven, ready to burst in your mouth.

Extraordinary tomatoes - tasting as they should

I was too busy shopping and eating to take any more photos, but take it from me, it’s worth a visit. The stone fruit was the tastiest I’ve had in YEARS, ditto the apples. The French bread shop didn’t disappoint, either. My lunch break ran out before I could get to the cupcake stand, which leaves me something to look forward to for next week.

Wednesdays, top of the Mall – enjoy!

PS. Thanks to my ‘tour guide’, SJ.
PPS. Want to see more about the finger limes, check out Bagni di Lucca and Wild Finger Limes – citrus caviar. Amazing.

Road Test: Tupperware Turbo Chef

November 27, 2010 5 comments

When I’m this impressed with something, I have to share it.

Tupperware Turbo Chef - the latest & greatest

Tupperware has brought out something which exceeds the popular Happy Chopper. People who’ve had both, love the new Turbo Chef the best.

If, like me, you hate having dozens of single-purpose gadgets cluttering your kitchen, you might be wondering whether it’s worthwhile. In short, it is. So impressed am I, that I’m looking at buying another two for gifts this Christmas (just don’t tell Mum & Nanna).

Simple: 3 parts, no electricity or batteries needed

I use it every day to cut up onions, carrots, apples and garlic. It’s also handy for making pesto & chopping nuts. Kids can help, because there is no way they can cut themselves on any moving parts (and an adult would handle the blades) or electrocute themselves. All they do is pull the chord.

Do this quantity in 2 quick batches

No body double or hand model was used ...

After 7 easy pulls of the string

After about 15 spins, a finer chop.

Carrot, just as the chooks like it.

PROS:
* kid-safe & nanna-safe
* fool-proof
* great for everyday use & for camping
* easy to clean
* much quicker than a knife
* much less fuss than an electric appliance
* great size (300ml) for small batch chopping (food processors for big jobs)
* precise (with a food processor, it’s easy to overdo it)
* comes with a good lid that seals (not pictured).

OTHER:
* costs $54.95
* blades not covered by Tupperware’s otherwise awesome lifetime guarantee.

RECOMMENDATION:
Buy it.

If you don’t have a Tupperware rep, try:
Natasha Yannuccelli Mob 0412 527 840 tashtupperware@gmail.com
Carmen Rooke Mob 0403 825 627 carmenstephen@bigpond.com
Or, Tupperware 1800 805 396.

P.S. I have no relationship with Tupperware or any of its sales people and accrue no financial or other benefit in reviewing this product, or any others on this blog.

HAVE YOU USED THE TURBO CHEF YET AND IF YES, WHAT DO YOU USE IT FOR?

UPDATE: The Turbo Chef is dishwasher safe (top shelf) although Tupperware recommends against putting the blade in the dishwasher.
UPDATE: I have 3 x Beauty & The Geek calendars to give away to readers commenting on the blog. They’re hilarious & I can’t possibly keep them to myself. Congratulations to Samantha – you get the first one!
UPDATE: 9:16pm Second calendar accounted for – Reader L came up with an amusing (but unpublishable!) use for the TC.

Categories: Australia, Products, Review

Comedy in cat food labelling

November 14, 2010 Leave a comment

This week, the Six-Kilo-Cat developed her annual fussy-with-furballs problem, necessitating the administration of twice daily tablets, Cat-Lax paste and a whole new menu.

Scratched-up and emotionally crippled by the ordeal, I took myself to the shops in search of new cat chow – something to hide tablets in, chiefly. To this point, I’d managed to stay within the Kia-to-Corolla range of cat food, but desperation finally brought me to the Rolls Royce of kitty cuisine.

Comedians in cat food labelling...

Well, how funny did I feel, reading the labels:
* pate, marinade, jus, sauce and gravy (nary a jelly at this price point)
* sliced, shredded, whole, or strips
* chicken, turkey, duck, whitemeat, ocean fish (how discriminatory), prawns, beef, chicken hearts and livers, virgin tuna (as opposed to what, exactly?)
* accented with long grain rice, tossed with vegetables
* a delight, affair or banquet?

Readers would know that truth in advertising is something I hold dear, mainly because it happens so rarely. Give me a brand of cat food, something like this:
* Ducks’ guts in goop
* Fish eyes ‘n fins jelly
* Chicken wobblies in sauce
* Beef offal with cereal.

As the kids insightfully point out, the cat can’t read. However, after all the fuss and big-spending on new food, the kids also advise me that the boss only eats what comes out of light pink tins and still spits out the tablets. Go figure.

I’m in love with Caketopia

November 12, 2010 5 comments

Today’s must-share experience is all about cake.

Cake is one of my favourite subjects. I majored in cake at law school and it did me heaps good. A dear buddy once made me a birthday cake and couldn’t get the glass out of the middle. We wore silly hats in the uni refectory, which went with the well-meant but equally inedible torte della microwave. Lucky she’s really, really good at law, is all I can say. (M, maybe we’ll order from this site next time?)

Take a look at the Caketopia blogspot and tell me that you’re not in love too.

Two examples…

(With thanks, Reader A.)

Road test: BEERBIRD DIY BBQ Chook

November 6, 2010 1 comment

Dear Readers,

Today, I’m introducing a new correspondent (I can’t do all the fun stuff alone) to report to us on new things in the world of beer & barbecues.

Congratulations Lou! Lou is the kind of girl who turns up to a Tupperware party with an esky on wheels, full of beer – it sure made the balloon popping game at the last one fun.

Below, you’ll find an accurate and contemporaneous record of her first attempt at making a chook with the BEERBIRD device. I gave it a few days before posting, to ensure she and her family survived.

Who thinks of these things?

From the backyard of Lou: BBQ & Beer Correspondent

Alright…here goes!!! The fridge is stocked, the BBQ is cleaned, summer is here and one bird is going to cook! Ingredients are ready…chook, beer and spices. Preparation: Ensure adequate stock of favourite beer, open can and quench thirst (repeat as required) (DONE). Set aside spices (DONE). Open another can and take several gulps (about to commence this stage…stay tuned…so far tasks have been extremely difficult…hoping it gets easier)…

…now where was I up to…how many cans is that??? oh yeah…take several gulps (make them small gulps to that the can is still just over two thirds full)-(MOST DIFFICULT STAGE YET – WHEN TO STOP?? Mark says can is only half full…ok…get another can and redo that step…no worries)…rub spice mixture over bird…plunk bird over can…transfer to BEERBIRD grill and place in centre of covered BBQ…once lid to BBQ is closed, crack open another frostie, sit back and wait (HAD THOUGHT HARDEST PART WAS DONE BUT THIS DRINKING BEER AND WAITING IS TOUGH!!).

Beautiful aroma is wafting around the place one and a half hours later. Recipe says to leave in for one and three quarter hours however opened the lid to put the vegies in so will leave for a total of two and a quarter hours maybe…we’ll see how it goes.

Chook out…looks and smells great…fourteen year old son comments…that chook smells good! Vegies not cooked yet so chook on warmer in oven til vegies done…should have put vegies in earlier…anyway…all can’t go perfectly first time round…

Total YUM!

Ok, the verdict is…chook tastes pretty fantastic. Looks great when carving, still juicy and the flavours are just YUM. Can’t recall tasting a better chook in recent times. Asked fourteen year old male how the chook was after finished…”Heaps Hectic”…I think that is good…he went back for two more servings. Now for some finer details; the information in the recipe book was spot on, the beer can still had the same amount of liquid in after cooking as stated and the timing was right. After doing this whole beer process, there was a sentence down the very bottom which says BEERBIRD is also delicious when soft drink substitutes are used such as; cola, carbonated fruit juice and ginger beer. Now if I had known that I wouldn’t have had to drink so much beer to cook a chook…oh well…the things one does. I do think however I will stick with the process I used today as I believe in tried and tested and why change something that is already proven to be perfect.

The only thing we may have added that BEERBIRD doesn’t mention is that we use some Jack Daniels smoking chips in the BBQ as well.

As if it couldn't get any better ... (It's for the BBQ).

We have done a chook on a rotisserie with these chips on the BBQ before and as nice as that chook was, BEERBIRD is easier to do, easier to clean, tasted better and more juicy. There are a few different flavours in the recipe book. We used the BBQ Beer Bird spice recipe for this one but will be keen to try the others in the future. We are thinking of getting another BEERBIRD so we can have two chooks for when we have visitors. Another interesting point on further reading is that if you don’t have a hooded BBQ, this can be done in the oven at 180C but since we have one, we will continue the aussie tradition of outdoor quality BBQ entertaining with a few amber refreshments on a gorgeous summer’s day or night.

Joke taken from the BEERBIRD recipe book – Q: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? A: Neither, The Rooster

FINAL VERDICT: BEERBIRD is heaps hectic. Go get one. Or, two. Beats Christmas turkey!

UPDATE: An email from Barry @ BEERBIRD:
Hi Theresa,

Just read the blog – brilliant, thank you!

Please pass our thanks on to Lou – I’m thrilled that she liked it so much. Please tell her that it also comes in a double version (for cooking two chickens.)

Best regards,
Barry Owen

QUESTION: Have you had any BEERBIRD or other BBQ tips or experiences you’d like to share?

Categories: Australia, Life, Products, Review

Craft: Halloween pumpkin & be safe message

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Using the right pumpkin makes the job EASY!

Brisbanites frequenting supermarkets have started encountering big, overpriced, yellow pumpkins just lately. I took it upon myself to see what all the fuss was about.

In the name of craft and open-mindedness, I put aside my reservations about ‘celebrating’ Halloween, to see whether these pumpkins were anything special. To be honest, I’d wondered how hard it would be to carve one up, given the near brute force needed to cut up our typical Butternut pumpkin for dinner.

In short, it was as easy as falling off a log. Using the right kind of pumpkin makes all the difference. As you can see from the photos below, it’s a softer pumpkin which has a lot of ‘guts’ that’s easily scooped out by little kids. The cutting must be done by an adult (obviously, one would think). The supermarket instruction sheet sets out 8 steps, but really, there are only five, tops. To be clear, the hairy fingers in the photos are not my own. Yours Truly suffered a shoulder / neck injury while sleeping (how sad is that?) and couldn’t operate the knife without screaming like a banshee, so Dear Brother did the honours.

1. Carefully cut the top off using a knife (operated by a competent adult).
2. Scoop out the insides.
3. Draw a face with a permanent ink marker or mark the outline of a face with pins (eg. using a template).
4. Cut out face
5. Insert a tea light candle and light it.

Easy carve pumpkin

Instructions & template

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

Carving up a pumpkin and having a bit of dress-up fun at home is one thing. But if you are taking kids out for trick or treating, do keep in mind the contradictory messages (Don’t take lollies from strangers, except on Halloween. Don’t be mean, unless the neighbours don’t give you sweets. Bullies are bad, except on Halloween.) which can set you up for trouble down the long and winding road of parenthood. While you might be going with them this year, there’ll come a time when they’ll think it lame that their parents tag along (and by that stage, they’ll be too big to say “No” to, with any sort of moral authority). And please don’t kid yourself that children in a group are safe. Sometimes, a group is the most dangerous place to be.

Keeping kids safe is hard work. In a perfect world, there would be no begging for lollies (as opposed to nuts in days gone by, in preparation for winter), but if it must be done, then perhaps consider door-knocking just your friends and family and by prior arrangement. Don’t freak out the elderly, or people who don’t understand or want to have Halloween thrust upon them. Realistically, anyone opening the door to strangers on Halloween is crazy, even if it’s a little kid standing at the screen door (who’s standing behind him?).

A bit of consideration goes a long way in not only keeping good neighbours, but in keeping EVERYBODY safe. Go look up some statistics about how many kids go missing on Halloween overseas. Ask your friendly police how many assaults happen and how many complaints they clock up. Fun should never be at the expense of others.

And this is the end of the government, anti-fun policy.

Have fun, responsibly. And regardless of your religious beliefs, think about the dearly departed on 1 November, which is what it’s all really about.

UPDATE: To avoid being gouged on the price of a Halloween pumpkin, try using a watermelon – it does work and you get to eat the insides. The Halloween pumpkin isn’t good eating. See my later post with photos of a Halloween watermelon, thanks to the Auntie-who-thinks-of-everything.

Trend Alert: Goodbyn lunch boxes from USA, for kids & adults

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The Auntie-Who-Thinks-of-Everything alerts Yours Truly to a new trend, that’s sure to work its way to the outer sleepy suburbs….

Personalise your Goodbyn with stickers

Here’s the inside with some bits tucked in for size demonstration purposes. It easily fits a regular sandwich, fruit, crackers & cheese and the rest. Check out the Goodbyn or Biome website for more.

Liquid tight compartments to keep foods separate

Love thy lunchbox - the Goodbyn

Inner city Brisbane schools are abuzz with the latest in cool kids’ lunch boxes. Word on the street is that kids are loving the Goodbyn lunch boxes from the USA, but which can be bought in Australia from Biome.

What’s to like, with just another pile of plastic, you wonder.

Well, consider:
* lead free, BPA free, pthalates free
* funky, personalised with 3 sheets of stickers
* LIQUID TIGHT seals between compartments to prevent merging of foods & smells
* great for the environment if it reduces one’s dependence on cling wrap, plastic bags & disposable drink containers
* comes with a freezable drinks container which keeps food cool & probably doesn’t require a cooler bag
* fully recyclable
* one lunch box, one lid – no losing separate little boxes with little lids and ice bricks and cooler bags (less to label)
* easy to open (for 5+) and easy to carry handle (also available for 10+ to adults)
* it’s like a lunch tray
* a percent of sales goes to environmental causes.

But:
* about A$45
* big & a challenge to squeeze into little backpacks
* stickers come off after washing eventually
* recommended for 5 plus because of the single lid – if the child drops the box, the whole lot goes
* once you’re hooked, you’re hooked.

The adult version of the Goodbyn doesn’t have the big lip / ear for easy opening and comes in more sedate colours. It’d be great for taking leftovers to work, be it curry and rice, salad, fruit salad and yoghurt or dip and veggie sticks. Perhaps other stickers would be required for adults. Here’s one I thought of: Think Big, Eat Small. Or, Would You Like Chocolate With That?

Apparently, you can put yoghurt or dip into one compartment, without it spilling into others. This is pretty nifty. In terms of liquid tight seals, the only other brand I currently know and trust is Tupperware (Tuppercare Snack Cups & Everyday Bowls, Fuel Pack & All Day Pack for babes). But, I haven’t seen anything in the configuration of the Goodbyn. Having it all in one, does seem convenient.

I don’t own one (because I’d just been to several Tupperware fundraisers…) but I’ve seen it in action. My niece gets on with her new lunchbox very well and in the end, that’s what matters – making lunches something children look forward to. Everything else is a big bonus. Anything that makes good parenting easier gets my tick of approval.

So, this week, while you’re filling out school book orders for next year and probably wondering how many weeks are left till Christmas, you might want to contact Santa for a Goodbyn stocking filler.

Happy lunching!

Categories: Parenthood, Products, Review

Road Test: No mess tomatoes

October 25, 2010 2 comments

Yours Truly gets a little bit excited when a product actually lives up to its marketing hype.

Hooray! Truth in advertising ...

I can say that I was hugely impressed with the fact that these tomatoes didn’t turn into sandwich sludge – not even when put in the toasted sandwich maker (aka jaffle maker). They hold firm and seem to last longer than other types of tomatoes, when kept in the specially designed holey plastic bag, in the crisper section of the fridge. The tomatoes cut very easily (even with my perpetually blunt knives), present very well and taste great.

While I don’t personally believe in salad, I’m sure these tomatoes would be great for those who do. They’re not as juicy as other kinds, so they wouldn’t be my first choice for sauces and suchlike. (I’m told, in comments below, that they perform equally well in sauces and cooking.)

No more mushy tomato sandwich nightmares. Enjoy! No Mess Tomatoes, indeed!

UPDATE: I’ve had buckets of people agreeing that these are now their favourite tomatoes! I love a local good-news story. Hats off to Aussie ingenuity.