Sunday, 30 October 2011

Have yourself a merry little Christmas with Tiffany... and Patrick Wilson.

In theme of websites found by my sisters, this is another sibling find that I have to share, although it's a video, not a website.

Christmas is around the corner (as is my wedding... omg), so here's a little inspiration. Why can't my Christmas be anything like this?? (Like, all of it... the whole video....)

(I would click on this video and watch it in full screen on YouTube. Really. It's worth it.)

Home is.... in any of these please!

Thanks to my sister Chrissie, I am officially hooked on a certain website that takes you inside and outside amazing homes from movies and celebrities. Seeing as I am obsessed with houses, this probably isn't the biggest surprise of my (or your) life. Hooked on Houses is one of her best finds and I am more than happy to give credit where credit is due - straight to her.

Some of these houses are iconic - "Father of the Bride" being probably my most dearly loved - and are used many times for many films. I love imagining how I would decorate if I were to live in them; how I would use each room, and what furniture I would purchase (with my millions of dollars, obviously) and place, what colours I would paint the walls, or which wall paper would best fit the style of the room/house. I imagine the parties I would host, and the InStyle magazine shoots of my decor... You know, the usual stuff you have to think about before purchasing a home.

The other aspect to the website is to give you a peak at how the rich and famous are living. Some more modest than others, and some completely ridiculous. If you're anything like me and you love stalking celebrities and coveting their lifestyles, then this is definitely a site for you.

Below are some of my favourite homes from movies...

"Father of the Bride" - Maple Drive... sigh...

"Something's Gotta Give" Hampton house

Hampton house interior... why can't I have this?

Hampton house bedroom - comes with own Diane Keaton

"Marley and Me" farmhouse... Actual house. I want this dog also.

What I would give to have this....

And thrown in for good measure - Julia Child's french home.... More of a fence and garden view. Stunning.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

One of life's most important lessons...

This has been one of the most relaxing weekends Lewis and I have had for awhile now. Really not due to popularity (more so just a busy life at the moment), we have had our weekends booked up with wedding planning, birthdays, work, uni and trips to Toowoomba - basically just something on every time. It has been exhausting (but fun!), and we've both been saying how excited we are for next year when we have no concrete commitments... yet.

This weekend, however, has been a delightful "stop". From Friday afternoon to Monday morning it has been booked out solidly with house sitting for our dear friends. So we have been watching over this amazing house, and this house happens to come with two of the most beautiful young teenagers I've ever encountered. They are a sister/brother combo who have perfect manners, are considerate, funny, clever, chatty and go out of their way to make YOU (yes, US.. invading their house for the weekend and at least 10 years older than them!!) feel comfortable and at home. The weekend, so far, has been spent playing card games and watching movies; enjoying a tea and a book while they do assignments and play sports; curling hair and painting nails while talking weddings; pancakes and cold rock (while still making sure they get nutritious foods!!); race car tracks and mario cart. Today shall be reading altogether, mowing the lawn, baking and then settling down for the rugby (football??) this afternoon.
Obviously I'm not completely blinded by love for this pair. Children of any age are still children, still little human beings, that have mood swings and tantrums etc, and so I know they would not be peaches and cream every second of every day. Every time we get to spend time with them though, they amaze us at how socially comfortable and adept they are, and how at ease they are with company much older than them. I also realise that one weekend is just a minuscule amount of time to understand what real parenting is like, but I still have to say... they are divine.
They throw 'pleases' and 'thank-yous' around constantly and ask if you'd like to join in on any activity they may be doing. They make sure you know how to play a certain game and they go out of their way to help you pick it up and do well. They ask about your life; what you're doing and how everything is going, and want to know about you. They are not shy, nor are they too boisterous and won't let you get a word in. Always asking you what YOU would like to do or what YOU would like for lunch or dinner.

Now, although I put a lot of their 'perfectness' down to their personalities being just so lovely, I have to say that a lot of where this comes from must be their amazing parents. To be a good parent takes so much time and effort, so to be a great one must be a constant effort with all of your time devoted to your little ones, especially when they're not so little anymore and their own opinions start coming through, and that's only scraping the surface. Our friends have done a constant, amazing job with their children, and we tell them that every time we're lucky enough to get to spend time with them all. I am forever saying that I'm going to kidnap their children, seeing as they've done all the hard work so far and moulded them into considerate, kind-hearted young people, so all I have to do is reap the benefits!

I suppose the moral of my "story" is that a lot of people take parenting so very lightly; become parents quickly with no thought to the immense job ahead of them that is for a very long time - if it ever ends. My father says he still wakes up worrying about us all, just hoping that we're happy, doing what we want to be doing and not making mistakes!! Some parents don't take their job as a role model seriously and so go about being a bad example for their young, impressionable children.
These friends of our's are some of the most amazing parents I have come across, along with my parents, Lewis' mother and my sisters. I only hope that one day, when we're blessed to have our big family(!), that we have taken lessons from those around us, and raise our's in a similar fashion. We should be so lucky...

I must finish here as Lewis, Sarah and Matt are starting the blueberry muffins and I don't want to miss out on this! I want to soak up every minute of this delightful weekend before it's over and we return to our busy life...

You can't hurry love... wedding days, however, come very fast!!

Tick tock... tick tock...

Time is running out very quickly to get myself organised with all the last minute jobs in the lead up to our wedding. They say time flies when planning a wedding, but this has seriously flown out from under me! Mixed with the excitement of what I know will be a fabulous party (it's what we've been working towards the whole time), and the day I get to be so lucky as to marry this person who amazes me every day (seriously) are distinct feelings of nervousness for everything to go well, some serious praying that the weather will be fine (I don't even mind some cloud, just not rain!) and the stress of making sure everything is done in time. We have been so fortunate to have family and friends helping us where they can - we couldn't have asked for anything more....

So, as I do every time I think of the days running out, I take a big, deep breathe and calm my knots and imagine the end outcome of the day, and the amazing holiday to follow. I am so glad I'm only getting married once. I think that's why it has to be so perfect. I want to stop on the day; sit there with my saucer of champagne, wedding band on my ring finger, surrounded by everyone so very dear to me, with my husband's kisses on my cheeks and lips, and just soak it all in and know that this is the one time that this celebration is for us, and us only. May as well give everyone a party to talk about...

Here is some inspiration for your wedding menu... I love food... This is incredible...

34 days until The Wedding

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Bare Necessities...

My dear friend Beth has less than 4 weeks to go before she departs our shores for the rose-coloured life of a genuine Parisienne! Am still wildly jealous, as you can imagine. I have, yet again, been terribly slack with my lessons.

Here is another very dire phrase that she (and all of us when we, too, make our way to France) will obviously need....

"More champagne? More cheese? Why not!!"

"Plus de champagne? Plus le fromage? Pourquoi pas!"

Oh... dear Lord...

To pass an afternoon here...

Image by Jeremy Leffel for Valley and Co.

Beth and I in Paris, if she were to smuggle me in with her.

The Original Cover...

This is going to be a very un-characteristic post, as it's about something I detest, but in the detesting shines through something I love so maybe it's not so out of character!

Something I absolutely cannot stand is when books are re-released with a new cover. Abhor it, in fact. Hate. Loathe. All of the above. What is so wrong with the original cover??
I get it, I really do - it's a marketing thing. I understand marketing enough to know why they do it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. These covers are usually in conjunction with the release of the movie version. Also something VERY hated by yours truly.
What about those of us wanting to find the original version of a book, but instead can only find new cover copies? It is terribly confusing for those who know the title of a book but not the author and can remember what the original cover looks like, but... what's this?? I can't find anything that looks remotely like it??? (This is probably where I should mention that if any of you actually do this, then the bright idea would be to ask if they have it in stock... This does not mean, however, that you will be able to purchase the book with the original cover. Travesty..)
I also realise that there may be a few versions of a cover, but this is more likely in different countries. By original I mean, first copy released in Australia. Or wherever you are.

Below are a few of my favourite (most hated) examples of original vs new (faux, try-hard) covers...

A seriously incredible book. 

Not a terrible 'new' cover, but still not the original.

Dearest book to me in the world. 

Really can't stand this one. Is too 'modern'.

The original cover of this is very sentimental to me. 

There are so many versions of the new cover, so this is just one of my most hated.

Adore this cover, and this book.

As much as I love Rob, this cover is definitely not doing it for me. 

Just to name a few. A site that is pretty great for having the option of original and new is The Book Depository. They have an extensive selection and have free delivery worldwide. Very in love, plus, 9 times out of 10, I will be able to find my beloved original cover of my most favourite titles.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Mum's Curry...

Here's the thing... I'm NOT a great cook or baker. Give me a recipe and I will follow it, make a few errors and the end product will be edible. This is generally due to my attention inevitably being drawn to something else. Give me a packet cake mix and it may or may not turn out to be the best tea cake you will ever have. The latter is far more likely. I do, however, have a very small repertoire of dishes that I make constantly and, as a result, usually turn out pretty damn well. Because this repertoire is so small, I don't actually cook or bake during the week for quick dinners. That is Lewis' forte. He is so good at throwing quick, delicious meals together for us, why would I ever take that pleasure away from him? I will generally always cook if we have company, so that I can break out one of the old faithfuls or try out a new recipe I have spent some time perfecting.

Enough about my culinary skills (or lack of). It is Friday night and I am about to cook for 3 hungry men. Lewis, Duncan (brother) and Mike (uber friend). So I am going to make them my mum's amazing, hearty, comforting "Curry". It is not actually a curry (although it does have curry powder in it), it is more of a casserole or stew. We have always affectionately just called it "Mum's Curry".
This is a sentimental and favourite dish for my entire family. It is on my "death row last meal" list (a la, "Green Mile"), if I were ever to be on death row... highly likely, obviously. It's perfect for a rainy evening, feeds MANY (so a big family hit - believe me!) and is one that you kind of throw together and just... let it happen...

Mum's Curry


My ingredients for tonight.
Beef or Lamb- ok, just so you know, I am probably not going to give you many measurements for this, so I'm going to ask you to use your estimating skills! Use diced meat, or dice it yourself... takes way too long. I guess if you had some good music playing in the background and felt like being mindless for awhile, it'd be ok.
Garlic - As much as you want. Tonight I have chopped up 3 garlic cloves.
2 x Onions - If you're anything like me, you will want to skip this one. I hate cutting up onions so much, that I ALWAYS make Lewis do it (I mean, ask him politely to). It really does add to the flavour, so find yourself a Lewis and get your onions in the mix.
Green Apples x 2 - add more if you like, but never less! Dice it up (you'll HAVE to do this one).
Carrots x... whatever - It depends how much you like carrots. I love carrots, so I always put a few in. With my company of boys tonight, I have added 4, peeled and chopped up.
Celery - again, as much you do or don't want. I have taken 3 stalks off and chopped it up!
(So I'm going to point out here that you can really add anything you want in the way of vegetables. Anything at all. I am just going to give you my version of tonights curry!)
Tin of Heinz Tomato Soup x 2 - definitely Heinz.
Keens Traditional Curry Powder - a dessert spoon size. More or less depending on how much bite you want it to have.
Golden Syrup - 2 tablespoons worth!
Cornflower - 2 spoonfuls.
Lemon juice - a few dashes!! I always buy lemon juice bottled - terribly lazy of me, I know.

Dunc... helping? 

Heat... well... whatever. Not too hot, maybe a medium heat to start off with. Put olive oil in your pot, add onion and garlic and stir it all in until it's sauteed and a tiny bit brown. Add diced meat, mix all together, cover and occasionally stir until all the meat is brown, which took mine about 10 minutes.
You then want to add all your vegetables and your apple. Mix it all together and let sit for 5 or 10 minutes.
Here, pour in both tins of soup and then fill one of those tins with warm/hot water and add 1, to 1 and a half of these. Mix again, turn up the heat a little, and let it sit and simmer for roughly half an hour. Add your dash of lemon juice and the 2 tablespoons of golden syrup.
A lot of this recipe is just letting it all sit and come together, with occasional stirring. I am doing some blog and website surfing while I wait. The boys are talking guitars.
Near the end, you want to mix the 2 spoons of cornflower in a cup/bowl/whatever with a little bit of water (start mixing it in the cup straight away, as the cornflower goes funny if you're not fast!). Add to this the spoon of curry powder, mix it all together and then pour into the pot with one hand, and mix it with the other. The curry will start to thicken and look delicious!! Leave for a bit, check and if it needs more cornflower, mix a tiny bit with some water and repeat the pour in.
I can't really explain how I know when it's ready. I guess the sauce is thick, the meat is all cooked and it smells AMAZING. This, from start to finish, took me an hour and 15 minutes.
Here I will say that THE best way to serve this is with mashed potato. You can chop up and add potato, but it would take longer to cook. Another way to serve is over white rice, brown if you like, but it really does taste better with white. Lewis and I are going through a crazy couscous phase (it takes 3 minutes to cook - we're fairly in love), so tonights will be over couscous. Definitely with warm, crusty, buttery bread. Or my family's favourite - normal white sandwich bread with butter, perfect for scooping up the sauce.

Coming to the end of my recipe post, I find myself full of memories of my family enjoying this meal together, loving them all a little bit more, a little bit teary, and hoping that those who read this, and then try it with their own family, will realise why it is so very dear to me....

Here's one I prepared earlier (an hour and a half ago!)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

You all really should follow FellowFellow...

My dearest, darling friend Claire has recently accomplished a few things. She has become engaged (last year) and is currently planning her wedding (that, in itself, is epic... believe me), has made the huge move from Germany to Singapore and has just started her own business, which she is running from Singapore. As you can imagine, I'm extremely proud. She is terribly clever and I assure you, you will love her products!

For anyone wanting inspiration with anything from the office space, to photography, to nail polish colour (love that one), you should check out her blog FellowFellow. I hop on it daily to get a dose of quirky cool - something I lack and so must live it vicariously through her.

What you should REALLY do is pop on over to her shop FellowFellow Shop and pick up some gorgeous pieces that Claire has screen printed herself and put together! I am loving her gift tags, her notebooks and the amazing wing mobiles. Terrific gift ideas; for loved ones or just for yourself. Keep up to date with her newest products that I know are going to sell out so quickly!

I have constantly been bewildered by this girls creative talent for many years now, and I know that she, and anything she does, will be inspired...

Small Travel Wallet in Gold/Neon Dots - $10 

Wings Mobile in Moth - $60 

Flag Gift Tags - Set of 10 for $8.50

Sunday, 9 October 2011

A slight change of address...

As I am so very new to the blogger world, you will have to forgive my lack of savvy when it comes to blog addresses, posts and the like. This address was the original for my blog; it somehow got mixed up in all of my confusion in how to use the site and I ended up with a different address. For anyone already following 'all-that-is-dear-to-me' (which I personally thought was a far too long url and I agonised over using it), I am so sorry! I really don't think there were many people following it, but on the off chance, I really do apologise. From now on I will be posting all of my inner musings to this blog... I have also given it a face lift.

For anyone who has stumbled upon my blog and would like to see the very few pieces I started out with, please feel free to check them out here all-that-is-dear-to-me.