Saturday, June 30, 2012

Off to a Blogging Conference

I'm heading to the Nuffnang Blogopolis 2012 conference this morning.  I am looking forward to meeting some more Australian Bloggers and learning lots.

on the way from the airport
I asked  A-M yesterday if she wanted a lift from the airport and she in turn was waiting for  Katrina to fly in from Wagga. So A-M and I had a take away coffee next to the baggage carousel (we're so glamorous) for an hour while we waited for Katrina to land.  It was great to have time to catch up properly and not just in comments on each others blog or Instagram!

I'll be on twitter during the day. Find me at @lilyfieldlife

happy weekend
cheers Fiona

Friday, June 29, 2012

IKEA is feeling a little blue

Oh my, have you seen the new IKEA range "Simply Blue". It's looking good!  I think a trip to the nearby IKEA Tempe will be in the near future. 

via Ikea Newsletter

Inspired by India, China and Portugal, IKEA sure has captured a bright beach-y feeling. If you are living in Australia, this might just be the pop of colour you need to get you through the winter.  These colours are making me very excited about our upcoming Bali holiday. I'm sure I can find a pool that bright blue somewhere... or a cocktail!

These are my favourites:

BETYDANDE vase $29.99

BETYDANDE candle holder $9.99

BOLBRO rug $29.99
BLADSPINNARE cushion $39.99

And I might need a sarong for beside the Bali pool! $9.99

Click through to the IKEA campaign catalogue. You've got to love IKEA for their cheap homewares (and their Swedish meatballs).



Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lamb Shank & Pearl Barley Soup

It's winter down under and while it's not as cold as some parts of the world, most of Sydney's houses aren't that well heated so evenings can be chilly.  Time for a hearty winter soup to keep the whole family happy. This one is super easy - all in one pot on the stove for a few hours or pop everything in the slow cooker before you head out to work.

Welcome to my Lamb Shank and Pearl Barley Soup ... my personal version of a very old fashioned recipe for Scotch Broth that I've perfected over many winters.

The first time I had ever tried this was in a restaurant in Melbourne. it was freezing cold and Phil and I found a little restaurant near Southbank. We were seated outside under a heater and it was so cold. Phil ordered a lamb soup and it was absolutely divine. My mouth still waters over the memory of it. Perhaps it was that we were young and in love and the night so very cold and the restaurant was intimate and the soup was warm and delicious.  Anyway we were both crowded over it checking out all the ingredients so we could make it again when we got home.  I told my mum about it and she said it sounded like a scotch broth.  Here's how to make my version. Leave out the tomatoes if you wish for a more traditional scotch broth.

2 carrots
3 celery sticks
2 onions
2 leeks (I had run out of leeks last night)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup of pearl barley
1 tin of diced tomatoes
2 big lamb shanks (or use any lamb chops)
2 litres of stock or water
salt and pepper to taste
bouquet garni
parsley to garnish

I posted this on Instagram and there was a "Yes, Please" for the recipe

Chop up all your vegetables very finely.
Rinse your pearl barley under running water.
Add diced vegetables, tinned tomatoes, pearly barley, bouquet garni and lamb shanks into a big pot or slow cooker and cover with your stock or water. 

I have a real thing for bouqet garni - make your own infusion or just buy it.
Bring slowly to the boil. Once boiling you will need to skim the surface to remove the fat (or whatever that is on the top??).  I think in a slow cooker you wouldn't need to do this.  Reduce the heat, cover the pot and let simmer for several hours. I usually let it simmer on the stove for about 3-4 hours.

You will then need to scoop out the lamb shanks with tongs and remove the meat from the bones. I find that the easiest way to do this is wrap some kitchen paper towel around one end of the shank and then with tongs or a knife I just pull the meat off the bone. By this time the meat is pretty much falling off the bone anyway. At this time I also cut away any fat or gristle. Cut the meat up so it is all shredded and return the meat to the soup.

Depending on how "soupy" you like it you can add more water or let it reduce a little.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with parsley.

I hope you love this as much as we do here at Lilyfield Life.  I made enough for our family and our lovely neighbours.  My neighbour swapped the soup for the beautiful bread from Victoire. What a treat!

a close up of the soup
This serves 6-8 people depending on how big your vegetables and shanks are.  Even if you don't think you can cook, you can definitely make this meal as this is such an easy recipe. 

Not even a recipe really, just 4 little steps to creating a delicious hearty healthy meal...cooked from scratch. And it's sure to be a winner.  

Lots of leftovers of this here today also ... Yum yum ... happy husband....


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lunch with George Calombaris

This little black pass from Fisher & Paykel worked wonders this past weekend.  It's an amazing experience to be a VIP at a huge event. You may remember that I recently won a big competition that included 4 VIP passes to the Good Food & Wine Show, front row seats to the celebrity theatre, lunch with George Calombaris and 2 hotel rooms at The Darling at the Star.  I have won some good prizes in my life (money, dinners, that enormous stuffed doggy, a race in a Porsche with the No 1 Racer at the time, around raceway Oran Park) but this weekend just past beat all of them hands down.

We had an amazing weekend. We were really treated extremely well and it's a weekend we will all long remember. So many people were lovely to us - the staff at the Good Food & Wine Show, George and his amazing team, stall holders who spoiled us with free food goodies, the friendly hotel staff and in particular, Jacinta, the marketing coordinator from Fisher & Paykel who was so lovely to us and organised our weekend.

George Calombaris (Master Chef judge, and owner of the Press Club, Hellenic Republic etc) is both an incredible chef and just a down right nice man.  He's always been my favourite Masterchef judge - I think its the twinkle and cheekiness in his eyes. I really admire people who have passion for what they do and when they share that passion and skill with others.

George was super nice to our daughter. He's such a family man - his passion for food and family is so evident in all he does. No wonder I admire him so much!

food is family, family is life, life is everything
- George Calombaris

The food that George and his talented head chef Joe Grbac from the Press Club made us was divine. This pretty plate below was heirloom carrots, flowers and WA Marron, taramasalata and fennel pollen. It tasted as good as it looked.

The main course was a Pikilia of veal with eel, pumpkin and fetta. 
Melt in your mouth.

The dessert was pure theatre - the Story of the Greek Goddess, Aphrodite. Roses bloomed where ever she went. The soil was made of chocolate - a bit like Milo but way better, served with chocolate mousse that you would never have taste the likes of before, white chocolate and marshmellow snails that had guts made from passion fruit mousse, little chocolate and blackberry toadstools that popped in your mouth, sugared rose petals and bark made from pumpkin. All covered the rose water essence that was mixed with dry ice and steamed everywhere.

I was so proud of our daughter. She was the only child there - normally children aren't allowed in the Private Dining Room but because I had won the prize they let us bring her. She tried everything and didn't make any fuss and she was so polite and lovely.  She even tried the sweetmeats  - which I only tried because she'd eaten it and said it was yummy! She's such a pleasure to go out with.

Have you been to one of George's restaurants? What did you eat? Did it just blow you away?

You'll have to excuse the crappy phone photos but it didn't feel right ripping out my massive camera.

My sister and I also accosted Miguel Maestre as he came out of the toilets. Poor guy...He was so friendly and also good looking! Phil and I have long been fans of Miguel (TV shows include Boys Weekend and now The Living Room). 

Miguel's younger brother Carlos was our waiter for the lunch. He's front of house at the Argyle.  Can you imagine family functions with these 2 foodies in the house!

This was our room at The Darling. A really luxurious hotel.  We gave the other room that I won to our lovely neighbours. We had so much fun with them at the Good Food and Wine Show and at dinner on Saturday night. Lots of champagne and laughs.

We didn't need a thing to eat on Sunday night. Not that we were stuffed after lunch - just so satiated.  I just had a glass of lemon juice and water and was in bed by 9:15pm. That's very early for me!

It's good to win a prize and be thoroughly spoiled for a weekend! I think I'm going to enter some more competitions! LOL.

What's the best thing you've ever won?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Vintage Trunk Coffee Table

I am so exited about having my lunch with George Calombaris of Masterchef fame on Sunday (and the hotel and the VIP tickets to the Good Food & Wine Show). I'm still pinching myself about winning the Ultimate Dinner Party Competition with Fisher & Paykel. Check in with me on Monday to hear all about it!

Winter has arrived in Sydney and the nights are now chilly. We're still generally blessed with fabulous sunny days but the clear skies are making the nights that much cooler.  It's time to get out the winter throws to snuggle up on the lounge with.

Last year I was always folding up the lounge throws and stacking them up on the edge of the lounge every morning but they still looked messy. Then I found this fabulous vintage trunk at an auction. A bargain for $45.  I loving finding vintage furniture and home decor either on eBay, the side of the road, or at furniture auctions.  As you know, I usually transform my vintage finds with white paint but this trunk was just perfect as it was.

Now I can just open up the trunk and shove in the throws and the lounge room looks tidy. Unfortunately I'm very much a "neat on the outside but please don't look inside my cupboards" sort of person.  This trunk really suits me!

It's a small size and not too heavy so it's easy to move over to the edge of the lounge or armchair for your pot of tea or coffee cup.

I love our armchairs.  I could have sold these about 50 times. Most people who enter our house rave about these chairs. They were a bargain on eBay a few years ago and they are super comfortable. The cream lounge is one I reupholstered myself a few years ago in macrosuede and it's lasting very well. I love how any marks just scrub off.

Some good dings and rust.

Nice vintage hardware.

And I love the blue interior although I do wonder how the inside of the lid was burnt (see the black spots). I thought they'd just clean off but they are permanent.  The imperfections of thrifted vintage furniture need to be embraced. It's all part of the trunks previous but unknown life. I think these imperfections add to the charm.

This is my favourite throw. We bought it in markets in Cairo when we travelled in Egypt in 2002. It looks black in the photos but it's actually a very dark navy.  It's made from gazelle wool and is very soft and beautiful.  Our trip to Egypt was incredible and we loved the history, the food and markets.  I do have a couple of less than beautiful polar fleece throws also which I don't care if the kids drag them out to the trampoline or the yard for making cubbies but this one is my special one.  

I had to laugh, recently on Instagram, another Sydney blogger said she was getting out her winter cushions from storage as it was getting colder in the evenings. Winter throws are one thing but winter cushions? Does anyone else change their cushions for different seasons?

What are your hints for keeping the lounge room tidy? Have you got a vintage trunk to hide the everyday mess in?

 sharing at 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Amazing Auction @ Burrawang, Southern Highlands

Are you in need of some amazing furniture? - or just want some eye candy? Keep on reading!

Remember we went to Burrawang on the long weekend and stayed at our friend's holiday house? Well this coming weekend around the corner from their house is an onsite auction run by Lawsons. As soon as I heard about it I emailed my friend as there are some fabulous items being auctioned but would you believe it this is one weekend they are not going down to the Southern Highlands. So I thought I may as well let you all in on the auction and show you some of the amazing items to be had.

Auctions are a fantastic way to buy furniture and art.  Most of the people there are bidding to buy for their shops and so have a limit on what they can spend as they need to resell and still make a decent profit. If you are buying for yourself you can always out bid these buyers and still grab a bargain when compared to buying the same item from a shop.


Date: 24 Jun 2012 
12:00 noon
Location: 35 Hoddle St. Burrawang, Southern Highlands

Here are some of the fabulous items for auction. 
I love the leather couch and chairs below.

Leather Club Lounge and matching club chairs

2 cast iron wall fountains - I love the verdigris one on the left.

Industrial Wall Clock
vintage globe

A vintage oak champagne riddling rack
8 Antique English Dining Chairs in Cuban Mahogany

Vintage enamel scales with weights

Can't go past a good ginger jar

and I would love to own one of these David Bromley Nudes. (acrylic and silver leaf on canvas and linen, all signed). He is one of my favourite Australian artists. See his website here.  Aren't they stunning!

If you want to bid and can't make it down to Burrawang this weekend you can always put in an absentee bid. Details on the website above.

So will anybody be making a little trip to the Southern Highlands this weekend?