Saturday, October 30, 2010

1960's chest

I hit the jackpot today.

Mitchell Road Auction House is a warehouse full of beautiful junk. In the ground floor are items that have gone through some mild to serious tear and wear, but are still functional and/or beautiful in their own way. The items on this floor are very fairly priced and this is where we bought chairs for our kitchen table and a standing mirror last Saturday. We paid $AUD 116.50 for a set of 4 chairs and the mirror, all in good condition. The auction house adds 16.5% to the tag price for having found and stored the item in their store. That is why we paid that odd number.

The second floor of the building is full of gorgeous antiques and retro items that are in *excellent* condition, and I mean there is a lot of stuff that is 30 years old but looks as good as new. The items on this floor are significantly more expensive, but you could debate that they are also fairly priced due to the fact that they have been maintained so well.

In any case, I liked the place a lot and decided to pay another visit today just for kicks. Well my friends, I did not come home empty handed.

I found this GORGEOUS chest!!! I knew I wanted it the second I saw it. The price tag was AUD$65 and then I just had to have it! M and I had been talking about how it would be nice to find a coffee table item that could also serve as storage, so we thought a chest would be perfect. Since that discussion a couple of months ago, we have seen a few beautiful chests but they were $600+ and then some were $100 or so, but too simple and boring. I took a chance when buying this one today because M is not home, he went on a company retreat for the weekend. Man I hope he likes it as much as I do.

The chest still has stickers attached to it from its voyage. I find it so fascinating, it makes me giddy.

What I could gather from the stickers is that it came from Italy on the ship Galileo Galilei operated by the company Lloyd Triestino and it belonged to either a Mr. Iannello Rosario, or a Mrs. Rosario Iannello. Even the original lock is still attached and says "made in Italy", though you can open the chest because someone broke the lock mechanism.

So I googled "SS Galileo Galilei" and finding out about it was easier than I thought. This ship travelled between Genoa, Italy and Sydney, Australia, between the early 60's and the late 70's after which the ship changed name and operator several times.

I am so delighted with this chest! I paid 75 bucks for it but to me it is worth its weight in gold. I think I will visit the Mitchell Road Auction Centre as part of my Saturday routines from now on.

The insides of the chest are clearly worn out, and now I am trying to decide whether I should scrape off the old paper and attach my own new one, or if I should let it be as it is and try to preserve it. What do you guys think? 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DIY herb garden

I want a pet. A cat, dog, rabbit, parakeet, I don't care what. But unfortunately the house is a mess and I don't have a job, both of which are deterring us from adopting a little something furry. I am looking for a job, to those who are interested, I have been applying and making calls, dealing with rejection. Don't give up on me though! I'm coming workforce! But if you do have a job opening in Sydney you would like me to hear about, just drop a me line :-)

So, the next closest thing to a pet I could think of was a plant. I am terrible with plants but I wanted to give this another shot. When I say terrible, I mean awful. I once had a plant that committed suicide, when I got home it was there, dead, on the floor. It had jumped all on its own accord. 

This time I wanted to do it properly, and ask for help, not just online help but human help. So I went to a nursery to talk to someone about how to grow a herb garden. Because that is what you do with your pets, right? you eat them.

The first thing the nursery employee did was laugh hard on my face at the way I pronounced "herb". I said "erb" as if the 'h' was silent (which by the way it is in my mother tongue). After she dried her tears and got a hold of herself, she made the point to mock me some more by continually repeating "H-erb garden", you want to grow "HHH-erbs, for a HHHHHHH-erb garden".

Then she said all I need is water, sunshine, a good pot, and good soil. AHA!!! soil!!!! I never did anything special about soil before I just used dirt. I am sure some of you guys learned this in kindergarten but I didn't. Potting mix comes already fertilized and contains some fancy shmancy slow release nutrients which keep the soil rich and tasty for 6 months, aka a full harvest. I bought the *premium* potting mix, nothing less for my little friends. I bought 10 liters but ended up using slightly less than 5.

I chose my favorite herbs first: cilantro (here referred to as coriander), parsley, basil, rosemary and lemon thyme. I was going for thyme when I picked the plant, but turns out I chose lemon thyme: looks like thyme but smells and tastes like lemon. Your tastebuds will be tripping. The lady told me I could chose anything except for mint. Mint grows tall and the roots deep, like a weed, and it will take over the soil and sunshine in a garden. Therefore mint should always be planted isolated from other herbs and vegetables.

I chose the pot on her recommendation. This pot has a compartment or cavity at the bottom, where water sits and keeps the roots moist. This mechanism prevents both over and underwatering. The big problem with overwatering in case you didn't know, is that if water stagnates around the roots, these will rot and the plant goes to plant heaven. Note: this little cavity might be a breeding ground for mosquitos later in the summer, so if possible it should be covered with a mesh so the air can still flow

Now fill the pot almost to the top with your mix, and I recommend you leave a lot more room than I did in the picture. After wards I had to take about half of that out, I forgot that the plants are attached to some soil of their own as well. 

You have to losen the dirt around the roots a little bit and transfer to the new pot. then cover them up with more of the potting mix. And voila!!! Place them in a spot where the sun will hit directly for most of the day. I guarantee that if your herbs are in partial shade they will die. Been there done that. 

Another tip I learned is to water the herbs once a day either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Apparently they don't like it if you water them in the middle of the day when the hot sun is blazing.

Yes I named them, so what? Don't you name your pets?

Friday, October 22, 2010


I like cakes. Even more than cakes, I like cupcakes. I love frosting on cakes and cupcakes. Mmm...

I wanted to post some pictures of cakes I made, so that they would be on the web somewhere... And we're  going to start right here.

I made this for my last birthday:

It was chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream frosting. Covered in green fondant and the flowers are made out of marzipan.

This one was for a 4th of July bbq. It's a terrible background, but I was trying to avoid taking shots of the living room this time.

It was a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. Red, white and blue fondant was used for decoration.

I once also made a couple of dozens of these little guys:

I called them the mini-moccha cupcake. It was chocolate (ahem, again) with espresso buttercream frosting and some toasted hazelnuts sprinkled on top.

I want to make more. I want to make them all the time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My blog, beautified....

Thanks guys for your feedback on the blog image. I have decided on this (for now... until I learn more about html and css).

I hope you like it (I actually like it kind of a lot). Get out of your Google readers and enjoy the new look at least once!


Irish Beef Stew

I'm sick :-(

I went to bed last night with a sore throat and woke up this morning with a cold.

Yesterday there wasn't a single cloud in the sky and the temperature was warm, today the weather is super gloomy and freezing cold. I stayed in bed, taking my meds and drinking fluids all morning and then came across this recipe. Instant craving, I had to have it.

M and I bought a casserole at Victoria's Basement because it was a *super* deal. We have been looking for one for a while but they were all too expensive. Well this one from Benzer was $450 marked down to $70, so we took it home and I had been looking for a stew recipe for some time in order to honor the pot's maiden voyage. Here is where the Irish Beef Stew comes in. I made tiny adjusments to the recipe above, so I will describe my version here.


  • 2 generous tablespoons of butter 
  • 2 chopped carrots (roughly 2-3 cups)
  • 1.5 kilos (just over 2 pounds) of chopped potatoes, again, roughly
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 500 grams of beef chuck for stewing, cut into 3 cm (1 inch) pieces
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 6 cups (1.5 liters) of beef stock
  • 1.5 cups of Guiness Ale
  • 1.5 cups of red wine (I used local cabernet sauvignon)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves

Note: I purchased all the ingredients for less than $25, and the bottle fo wine was $15, making it a $40 meal that serves 4-6 people!!!


The recipe required the use of two pots, one for cooking the meat and one for the veggies. I only have one pot so I cooked the veggies first and then proceeded with the rest of the recipe.

Clean your veggies and chop them. Notice that I chopped everything, even the beef, with my trusty Swiss army knife! We own nicer knives than that, but they are somewhere in the middle of the ocean on their way to us and I forbid M to buy another new one...

Now if this looks like a lot of vegetables is because it is!!! Next heat up the pot on medium heat and melt the butter. Add the veggies and cook until soft but not completely cooked through... or just for 20 minutes. Stir constantly.

I put the veggies aside and washed the pot. While it was soaking, I went ahead and cut my meat and salted it slightly and chopped my garlic. The meat should be fatty aka marbled (if you want to be fancy), but mine had 2 big chunks of fat that I removed. I also prepared the rest of the ingredients for the stew.

Heat up the pot again on medium heat, add oil and wait for it to be actually hot. You want the meat to sizzle when it hits the pan. I worked in batches like the recipe suggests, you want the meat to brown, not steam. 

When all the pieces were nicely finished I put them all together in the casserole. You add the garlic and it will produces a heavenly smell... try to scrape (with a wooden spoon) the meaty bits at the bottom. If some of them are really stuck, just ad a bit of the beef stock and try again.

At last you add the rest of the ingredients: beef stock, wine, beer, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, sugar, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Stir every 20 minutes or so... omg... the aroma... 

We have not forgotten the veggies!!! After the hour has passed add the vegetables and simmer, this time uncovered, for 40 more minutes.

It smells amazing up in here... I scooped out some of the fat that forms at the top, I want to keep this minimally healthy. Finally time to serve, make it special with some parsley, that's right you deserve it.

PS. I used M's Canon 30D to take these shots, so you should see a considerable improvement in blog photo quality!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Feedback please?

Can everyone please comment on what you like/dislike about my layout? Check out the new and less busy background!

I mostly hate everything about the layout but I was wondering, from 1 to 10, 1 being nothing happened, 10 being bleeding occurred: how sore are your eyes after reading any one of my blog posts?

Is there something you would like to have changed immediately?


Weird dreams series #256

I dream quite a bit, and more often than not I am able to remember my dreams, at least for a few hours in the morning and if I am able to re-tell them to someone I can remember them for a lot longer. While M was gone, I had the privilege of renting and watching the 2nd half of the first season of a little show called Glee. I don't know what it is about handsome geeks and show choir that is so appealing to a quarter-lifee like me, but there is a special little nook in my heart for every one of those characters.

Now, I watched the show last week, but it seems my subconscious is only catching up to it now because I have been dreaming with the cast members for 2 nights already. It seems that in my heart I really want Finn and Quinn to get married, because they did in my dream. Oh, and also, Puck totally wants to get with me.

Sorry Puck, I'm taken.

Everyone, meet my new boyfriend:

His name is hottie,  and he IS a hottie. We slept together on our first date and on every evening since then.

I hope M is open minded about polygamy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Australian English Dictionary

Sometimes I have a hard time understanding the thick Aussie accent. In young people it is very mild, exotic and pleasant. In the older generation it is thick, mumbled and completely unintelligible by the likes of me. So much in fact that yesterday when a plumber came to make a few repairs to our house, he mumbled something or other about the bathroom. Of course the bathroom needed a few fixes and I nodded, smiled, and followed him there. Suddenly he tries to shut the door to find that I am on the way, gives me the look and raises his big old eye brows. The guy simply wanted to go to the bathroom and surely he thought I was a creep. End of story.

To make matters worse, it is not just the accent that is distinct, but also English words can have different meanings. I am compiling an ever growing list of Aussie standards in case you ever come visit, or hear me say something strange. Here is my version of Australian to English translations:

Bikey: Is a motorcycle gang member.
Boot: The trunk of the car.
Bottle shop: Is a liquor store.
Brekky/Brekkie: Breakfast.
Capsicum: This is what they call bell peppers.
Chemist: This is a pharmacy, i.e. "I'm going to the chemist for some medicine."
Dry cleaners: This could be the dry cleaners, or it could also be a bar where you go "pick up a suit". Get it?
Hotel: It can be an actual hotel, or it could be just a bar. It turns out that according to New South Wales liquor laws, it is easier to obtain a liquor license if you declare your business as a hotel instead of a bar.
Hungry Jack's: The Australian name for the chain Burger King.
G'day: means hello :-)
Jumper: Is a sweater.
News agency: A stand or store that sells newspapers, bus tickets, etc.
Note: That's a bill i.e. "Do you have any five dollar notes?"
Petrol: Is gasoline!
Removalists: Those are the movers.
Servillete: Some places around here use this French word instead of the good ol' "napkin".
Singlet: Is a wife beater, the clothing garment, not the domestically violent man.
Take away: The Australian version of "to-go" i.e. "I will have a large burger and fries for take-away."
Unit: Another word for an apartment.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ranting... I think I need more human interaction

Dear decently-sized-lizard who was playing dead in our garden right up until the moment I got close to you,

Screw you.

Dear spider who keeps knitting webs every night in the back yard after I clean them off,

You win.

Dear everyone else,

Hello hello!!! I totally got started on my list of things to do this week. I bought fabric and I already cut it for my cushion and my curtains *** Then I cleaned like, 80% of the dead leaves in the backyard (the other 20% looks super gross and I refuse to suffer through it alone so I am waiting for M to come back) *** I bought three glasses *** I have also been reading a TON, and sleeping a TON *** I started yoga, and all my muscles hurt *** I also went to visit the BEAUTIFUL Royal Botanic Gardens here in Syd, and I totally and undeniably saw a possum! Oh and yes, that possum saw me right back.

Today I went walking around Oxford St. and bought 2 pairs of shoes for $50. It was a total deal!!! and they are so cute!!! and I don't need any more shoes this summer, yay. I also visited Paddington's market, which like most other markets around here mainly showcase local artists and businesses, which is great, but I also miss the good old flea markets and garage sales, what I need is furniture people! Yes, I also visited 2 garage sales today and it was mostly old raggedy winter jackets and scuba diving suits. People pee in those suits you know? I don't see myself buying a used one...

Back to shoe shopping, did you know I used to be one of those shoe junkies? Now this is a normal stage in most women's lives. I think in college at one point I had collected a record of 39 pairs. Which is absolutely ridiculous now that I think of it. Most of those went off to charity or to friends and now I only have a few basics. Now I try not to buy new shoes unless it is to replace an old pair that has succumbed to wear and tear, which is sort of what happened today. It has taken me years to learn about myself, that I am not nor will I ever be a glamourous girl or look like I stepped right off the streets of NYC (or Caracas for that matter, you should see my girlfriends at home). I now know that I am simple, yet pretty, and casual, and comfortable. I love the idea of high heels. I hate wearing high heels. I look like I am drunk when I walk on them, not to mention I just can't do it for more than a couple of hours.

Also, did you know my brother moved to California? He's a super cool guy and if you live there you should hang out with him.

Did you know the human nose never stops growing?

Did you know that regular coffee has more caffeine than espresso?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


M has had it with me and he's decided to leave me. For 9 days.  I am feeling something like this:

The first part is a joke, or half a joke anyway. He is indeed leaving, to visit his family and also to speak at a conference about some really cool stuff he works on. It feels like in our relationship we go through periods of lots of fighting and then something at work comes up and he must travel, followed by periods of being appreciative and happy in love. I am starting to wonder if he schedules these trips on purpose whenever he feels like we need a break from each other.

Anyway, whatever his mysterious plans are, I will miss him a lot. Plus he is my general heat source at night, I always freeze whenever he is not sleeping right next to me. The only way I can forgive him for this treacherous move involves presents, lots and lots of presents. I hope he is reading...

In order to keep busy and useful in the next 9 days, I am making a list of things that I have been dreading to do, because I hate doing most of them:

1. Clean the stains on our tiled kitchen and laundry floor
2. Clean the backyard of dead leaves and spider webs (I HATE spiderwebs)
3. Clean the funky thing piece of furniture
4. Fix the broken drawers on the funky thing piece of furniture
5. Go to IKEA
6. Look for jobs or volunteering opportunities

There's also a short list of slightly more pleasant things to do:

7. Blog
8. Start going to yoga
9. Make curtains
10. Make cushion seat for my desk stool
11. Go looking for chairs for our dinning table
12. Go looking for glasses so we can stop drinking water out of plastic bottles
13. Visit at LEAST one museum or local attraction

I am also determined to finish reading the book I am currently on, and if possible start a new one. Wish me luck.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Out, about and hard at work...

First, the BIG news...

WE OWN A FRIDGE!!!! :-D!!!! :'-D!

After a long and arduous afternoon of appliance and furniture shopping, we went to Sydney's Factory Theatre for the Delta Spirit concert. They were not the main act, but they were the main act for us, and really the only reason we bothered. 

After a fabulous show (check out the beautiful song called Vivian, above) we ventured back into King St for a late dinner. At this point it is 10:30 at night, and we are not human any more. We are hungry beasts, lions, in the hunt for a juicy innocent gazelle or a tasty baby water buffalo. The roaring, quarreling, frisking and hounding left us with a few bruises and for a few moments I thought we would not survive, but there were simply no restaurants open at 11pm on a Sunday night!!! What's up with that?

Then we found a place called twelve, serving pizza for another 10 minutes, sweet baby water buffalo pizza, and so we're like hell yeah! Our tiresome feat and the short lived famine actually nourished our brains and the old gears started cranking. We came up with an infalible business idea: a restaurant that is open ONLY from 10pm to 6am every night of the week. It would serve an international menu consisting of pizza, chinese, thai, breakfast, hamburgers and mexican food. We are going to call it "Munchies". And that's that. Now we just wait for the cash to start rolling in.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hair woes

M and I both have long hair. We both are losing it an alarming rate. You think household dust is a problem? No, we have a household hair problem. You should see our pillows in the morning, or the bathroom in the evenings.

I think one, or better yet, both of us should cave in and buzz our heads. It will make cleaning a whole lot easier around here...