Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Achoo, Achoo!

Please Mother Nature, give a girl a break here! It's cold, the fire is blazing & according to the calendar it's still officially Winter until tomorrow. So what's the deal with these miserable hay fever symptoms I'm experiencing. The sneezing, watery eyes & a pounding sinus headache - this is way too early in the season for this to be happening. If this a sign of what's in store for me this Spring then I'm out of here & taking that Territory Manager's position I saw advertised for Antartica!
Image: Modern Mechanix

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Guest Wing

Doing some research for self-contained accommodation near Ballarat in regional Victoria for a weekend in December, I stumbled across the delightful Camellia Cottage. Located a few minutes from the city in the little town of Buninyong, the cottage is c.1862 & is believed to have been built for Dr Casey, the grandfather of Lord Casey a former Governor General of Australia. Rosemary & Gavin Pike always wanted to run a B&B in their retirement, so designed & built a guest wing attached to their beautiful home. It offers boutique-style accommodation in comfortable & elegant surroundings.

View of the guest wing from the shady foxglove-lined verandah

Camellia Cottage gardens in the morning sun

The guest wing patio

Rose-covered bay window

The guest wing has a private entrance with off street parking

The breakfast table

A comfortable sitting room

The fully appointed kitchen

Liliums from Rosemary's beautiful garden

The cosy main bedroom

And stylish second bedroom

And roses from the garden

Fifi the resident much-loved Birman

Some of the gorgeous camellia's, which are at their best right now

I had the opportunity to speak with Rosemary yesterday & she was just a delight, so warm & welcoming. She & Gavin have created a stunning little retreat in a glorious region of Victoria - no chintz & dusty dried-flowers here thank goodness!!
All images: Camellia Cottage


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Too Many Layers

I feel like I resemble a croissant at the moment - layer upon layer upon layer, all delicately teetering ready to bake in the oven, but with the outcome all dependent on the quality of the ingredients & the ability of the pâtissière! There is so much going on at present, at home & at work......one of my lovely clients noticed my somewhat frazzled state yesterday & said 'Miss Millie, you need an Assistant!' Never a truer word has been said.

I have been thrown a large client function to organize with very little notice - a lot is riding on it, so I need to get it right. MOTH & I have a very big extended weekend away next week with lots to organize (more to come!), then the Mid-Year Meeting in Sydney is straight after & don't get me started on end-of-month reports. A large project that I was supposed to have completed by tomorrow won't be & a research paper that's desperate for a written conclusion is giving me the heebie-jeebies & so it goes. I've been a bad blogging buddy this week, but I know you'll all understand. Three & a bit years ago when I went part-time, I thought it would be a breeze - what drug was I on!! See you all soon - promise.
Image: Roboppy


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Come Closer....

....just a little closer. Arms around each other, it's time for one big, squishy group hug!! The fabulous comments you left yesterday truly gave me the warm & fuzzies - what a great bunch of friends you all are - thank you.

Exciting news from the Bathroom-From-Hell. We now have half a frameless shower screen across the end of the room. After a lot of grunting & puffing from the Installers, lugging these very large pieces from their truck in the yesterday's rain & hail, it's transpired that someone stuffed up & the door measurements pulled up 2mms. too short. So back on the truck it went, with even more grunting & puffing to the factory. However the large piece is in & & oh my goodness, it was something akin to a religious experience. The room is coming together so well & is exactly the image I've been carrying around in my head for the past 2 years. Still lots to do, but for the first time I feel like we're on the home run - YAY!!
Image: San Carlos


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Is smeg Korean For Lemon?

Dear Signore Bertazzoni

I'm sorry to interupt your Summer holiday, I'm sure your villa on Lake Como is positively gorgeous this time of the year, but as a smeg customer, I am not happy. I've been a microwave fan for years, having previously owned your competitors products, a Sony & a Panasonic. The Sony was a gem, 14 years old & still going strong, as was the Panasonic at 8 years, it was as good as new. Both went to good homes, the Sony to a son who was setting up his own place & the Panasonic to the Rowing Club, who were in desperate need of a microwave after their kitchen refurbishment.

4 years ago, to replace the Panasonic, I purchased one of yours, a SA31-1MX, paying the princely amount of AU$695.00. MOTH wasn't happy, & I had to do a lot of convincing that we would get our money's worth - how wrong I was.

During the first 6 months the globe blew & the metal door trim peeled away from the cabinet frame. Small things you might say, but not what I was expecting so soon into our 'relationship'. Then after about 12 months I noticed small areas of bubbly corrosion on the black enamel interior, similar to rust spots. Now before you jump down my throat & accuse me of misuse, I will tell you that I followed the care instructions to the letter. Wiping out the interior with a sponge using warm water & mild detergent only, drying it afterwards, cooking in the appropriate containers etc. etc.

I checked the Warranty & noted that we still had a further 12 months running on it, so phoned the number on the paperwork. I quickly discovered that you don't go direct into Australia, you sell through a Distributor Omega Appliances. I spoke to their Customer Service person, who quite frankly, would have won the annual Company Award for providing the most disinterested & unhelpful advice to a customer. Her 'advice' was to carry the offending appliance out to my car, spend 2 hours driving to the other side of the city, lug it into their Service Dept., & leave it there for 2 weeks. When they had a spare moment, they would have a look at it to see if my complaint was genuine. If it wasn't, then they'd happily confirm that I was the raving loony she secretly thought I was. Oh, & even if the issue was my fault, I'd have to pay a fee of $95 for the privilege of being told that. You've got to be joking.

We purchased the product originally from David Jones, a reputable Department Store who has provided us with excellent service over the years. I phoned their Small Appliances Manager, who listened carefully to my complaint, & confirmed what we reckoned, that during manufacture, the enamel baking process had somehow failed. She promised she would speak to her contacts at smeg to see what could be done & phone me back the next day. 2.5 years on, I'm still waiting for the return call.

As time has passed, the interior of the microwave has rapidly deteriorated, with large areas of erosion spreading, like ulcerous cankers. The inside rim of the door buckled & warped & the rubber seal fell off. Each time I wiped it out, large flakes of rusty metal would adhere to the sponge - it was atrocious. Sunday night was the final straw. As I was wiping over the interior after cooking a small container of rice, my hand suddenly plunged through the floor of the microwave onto the kitchen bench underneath, just about ripping my hand to pieces on the jagged metallic edges in the process. A large gaping hole, aptly around the size of a lemon now renders SA31-1MX totally useless....... she is as dead as a dodo.

So here we are Signore, 4 years on, with no microwave & $695.00 worse off. I'm just wondering if you or any other member of the family conglomerate, have any ideas as to what we do next. Oh & the icing on the cake was when yesterday morning, as MOTH was yelling for me to check the fine print on the smeg Warranty again, I noticed on the back page this little gem ' Thank you for buying this Daewoo product'. I feel like a right sucker. I was never under the illusion that the manufacture of products like this wouldn't be outsourced to other parts of the globe but Oh mio Dio - please explain!!!

2 very angry & miserable ex-?smeg/?daewoo customers - Millie & MOTH.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Warning, Warning!

Just a quick post to let you know in advance that I'll be having a big rant & rave tomorrow about a certain 'European' kitchen appliance company who's product is dodgy. It's my blog, so I'll rant if I want to. You may want to look away while I get it off my chest & come back later in the week. I hope I've cooled down by then & it's all sweetness & light.
Image: Scott

You're Getting Sleepy......

Close your eyes MOTH.

Listen carefully to the sound of my voice as you relax deeper & deeper. In a few short moments you will be completely relaxed.

Deeper and deeper you relax, deeper and deeper.

Now repeat after me:
  • From this moment on I need to be honest about my inability to say no to clients. I acknowledge that I crave acceptance from others, but understand that saying no isn't going to cause instant rejection & the end of the world.

  • Say no to a new job I don't have time for, even if it's the second wife of the cousin of the brother of a neighbour of a prevous client who'd recommended me. This means I can finish all my current jobs, making sure the client is happy & pays my invoice pronto & keeps Millie & the Bank Manager off my back.

  • I must be firm when saying no. I mustn't be defensive or overly apologetic, just say no. This gives the right signals that I will not easily change my mind if pressured.
For the rest of your life MOTH, whenever I click my fingers and say the words 'icy cold beer' you will instantly go back into a trance & be able to say no to anyone (Millie being the exception), at any time.

In the next few moments I will count from 1 to 5. When I reach the number 5 I will click my fingers & you will be completely awake and totally empowered to say the no word next time someone wants a quote for a new job.

Yes, as predicted on Friday MOTH went into total melt-down this weekend about too much work. Thank goodness the rain held off, so I high-tailed it out to the garden both days & hid, pretending to be busy. All the while he ranted & raved alone in the Bathroom-From-Hell about never having time to do our reno. at a pleasurable pace, while finishing off the prep. work for the shower screen Installers today. His cell-phone went strangely AWOL until Sunday night....somehow it had found its way into the glovebox of my car, it had 18 missed calls. Yep, things were that desperate.
Image: Hypnoseraph


Friday, August 20, 2010

Balancing Act

Life became very unbalanced this week & by Wednesday I knew exactly how the Energizer Bunny feels like when his batteries are flat. Work is no busier than normal, just everything I needed to do this week was unnecessarily complicated, involved & a pain in the you-know-whatsie! If I mention those 2 frightening words 'Software Issues', you'll get the picture. The atrocious weather here also turned MOTH into His Royal Grumpiness. As usual he's made too many promises to clients about project finish dates & now they are baying for his blood. The shower screens are being installed early Monday morning & he hasn't anywhere near completed prep. work the Installers have told him needs to be done. I get the feeling this weekend will be full of 'little' challenges - wish me luck!

Image: TDD

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm Legit!

Those of you who have been around The Hedge for a while know that I LOVE SHOES! High shoes, impractical shoes, as long as they are gorgeous I'll wear them. My decision was vindicated with last year's Great Busted Foot debacle. The only day of the year that I was wearing flat, semi-sensible shoes at work & look what happened! However, after approx. 40 years of throwing caution to the wind, I was caught out a couple of years ago. I suffered the indignity of a very painful & debilitating heel spur. Off to the Podiatrist I went. Discovering I was the only one in the Waiting Room without a Zimmer frame was confronting. Then in for my consult I received a spray about my choice of thoroughly 'ridiculous' (her words, not mine!) footwear. As I was scuttling out, after receiving some medieval torture under the guise of treatment, she threw one last humiliating word at me - Birkenstocks!

You've got to be joking I thought. But as the pain increased, my resistance deserted me & before I knew it I found myself in the local Birkenstock store begging to be served. Only one style vaguely suited & that was the Flip. Coming home I shoved my feet into them & it was something akin to a religious experience. Laying on of hands & all that stuff for my poor feet!

I'm now on my 2nd pair & desperately need to replace them & was over-the-moon to see that the gorgeous one herself Mrs. Heidi Klum Seal has designed a range this Summer for Birkenstock. Thank you dear Heidi for legitimizing my Birkenstocks. This little silver number from her new range caught my eye, but I fear that they may be just a little OTT.

Silver sole, silver sides, glitzy buckle, silver hearts & flashy diamantes - what do you think?

This is my current pair, with a bit of aqua paisley happening. Should I stick with the status quo or throw caution to the wind & go for the silver? Oh & before you totally desert me for this major indiscretion in good taste, I must reassure you that of course my Birkenstocks never see the light of day outside The Hedge property boundaries. I still have an image to maintain dear Hedgies!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend Wonders

Some weekends are more memorable than others & this past one was a beauty! My best friends farewell party late yesterday was fantastic. Wonderful food, copious bubbly, lots of people & much loud noise & laughter. With most of their furniture gone to storage, we had lots of floor space to enjoy ourselves in & around 9p.m. a certain well-known Chairman of the Board treated us all to a rousing performance on his beloved piano accordion. Despite protestations from those of us who have had previous exposure to renditions over the years (generally at the end of a big, big night), he launched into it with gusto. We danced & laughed until we cried, it was a special moment & a very fitting send-off to their beloved old house.

And yes, wonders will never cease - we have grout on the bathroom tiles!! The shower screens are being installed next Monday, so MOTH's under pressure big time to make a last minute dash to the post. Of course, we still don't have a ceiling in there, but hey that's a minor concern apparently. All in good time, all in good time.
Images: Hobgoblin & Bostik

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Beginnings

My best friends move away on Monday. To spend some time in a lovely house in the country, some time in a little pied-à-terre in the City, but most of all to be unencumbered. To be able to travel whenever & wherever they want. To spend precious time with their children & grandchildren interstate & overseas. So Sunday there's one very big last hurrah at their wonderful old house & then off to begin their new life. They'll be much biting of bottom lips, as they made us all promise NO TEARS! For those of us who love them dearly, that will be an impossibility. I'll be making up a batch or 3 of my favourite Kourabiedes to ease the trauma (theirs & mine!) of the move!!

Effie's Kourabiedes (Greek Walnut Shortbreads)

250 gm. unsalted butter - softened to room temperature.
110 gm. (2/3 cup) icing (powdered) sugar, sifted (plus extra for dusting).
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
1 egg yolk.
300 gm. (2 cups) plain (all purpose) flour, sifted with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.
100 gm. walnuts, finely chopped.

1 tablespoon orange flower water (available from the Indian Grocer's).

1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter until pale and creamy, then add icing sugar, vanilla and egg yolk and beat until well combined. Fold in combined sifted flour and baking powder, then add chopped walnuts and stir to combine.

2. Roll half the mixture into small balls (approx.1 tablespoon) & the other half roll into 5cm. lengths to form into crescents. Place a mixture of the crescents & balls onto baking paper-lined oven trays and bake at 160C. for 12-15 mins. or until just starting to colour.

3.Transfer shortbreads to wire racks and, while still warm, sprinkle with orange flower water and dust with icing sugar, then leave to cool. When completely cool, dust generously with icing sugar. Walnut shortbreads will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Image 1: Flickr 2. Gourmet Traveller


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One Serve Of Nachos Please!

..... Ignacio 'Nachos' Figueras that is.

........International Polo Star


.............The face of Ralph Lauren.

.........Pal of the Royals.



Sometimes a girl's got to spoil herself for absolutely no reason at all. Today's the day.
Images: 1. Lei Web 2. Luxist 3. New York Post 4. Nachos Figueras 5. The Gloss 6. Stylecaster 7. Ralph Lauren 8. Shirl In The City 9. Zimbio 10. This Is London

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