2014: the year in review

Click here to see last year’s answers for comparison.  And feel free to do this on your own blogs!   Let me know if you do so I can see your answers.

1. What did you do in 2014  that you’d never done before?

I had to wash poop out of Teddy’s pantaloons.  And that sets the tone for the rest of this blog post!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t make resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Three new babies this year!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully no!

5. What countries did you visit?

The USA again.  Photos here.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Nothing.  I am a very lucky girl.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

1 December, the Boy (who has gone back to university this year) got his results and achieved straight High Distinctions for the whole year.  I’m very proud.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

The really sad thing is, I can’t think of one.

9. What was your biggest failure?

On the bright side, I can’t think of one of these either.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Strained my hip flexor.  That is quite a debilitating injury, I have to say.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My iPhone 6.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Teddy’s trips to the emergency vet🙂

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Being in Hawaii in the middle of our winter was exciting.

14. What song will always remind you of 2014?

Happy by Pharell.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?

Happier

b) thinner or fatter?

About the same

c) richer or poorer?

Richer

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Swim in my pool!

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Work.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

The same as always: Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas Day with the Boy’s family.

19. Did you fall in love in 2014?

I am still in love with my Boy.

20. What was your favorite TV program?

The Michael McIntyre Chat Show has me laughing every time.  We got on the Modern Family bandwagon too – Phil is definitely my favourite character.

21. What was the best book you read?

Superstorm: Nine Days Inside Hurricane Sandy was really interesting.

22. What was your favourite film of this year?

The Railway Man was exceptional.  August Osage County was pretty good too.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 41.  We went to Vue de Monde for dinner on my actual birthday, and it was spectacular.  Then we spent the weekend down at Port Fairy, which is a lovely spot.

24. What kept you sane?

I’m not sure, I think I may have gone a little mad this year.🙂

25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Robert Downey Jr.  I still adore George Clooney.  I can’t believe he’s married now.

26. Who did you miss?

Huffle Mawson.  She was the best cat ever.

27. Who was the best new person you met?

I am not sure I met any new people this year.  I told you it was an average year!

Baking with Tracey

So, I found this recipe on Pinterest, and because chocolate and coconut is such a winning combination, I decided to make them myself.  I tweaked the recipe slightly from the original, because I found that the cookies spread out WAY too much (even though they still tasted amazing).

You will need:

240g semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

55g butter, unsalted

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

¾ cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups chocolate chips

½ cup plus ½ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), packed

Directions

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Heat chopped chocolate and butter in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until just melted.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla until fluffy.
Mix in melted chocolate.
Add in flour mixture until just combined.
Stir in chocolate chips and ½ cup shredded coconut.
Using a large cookie scoop or 2 tablespoons, scoop cookies onto prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart. Gently press a pinch of coconut onto the top of each cookie.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cookies will have a shiny crackled surface.
Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

I used milk chocolate instead of semi-sweet because I prefer the taste.  Mine tend to spread out more than the original recipe, and I’ve never figured out why, but who cares when they taste this good?  The perfect chewy chocolate cookie.

ChocolateCoconutCookie

The latest

I am being a very bad blogger these days.  In my defense, I was overseas for two weeks.  You can read all about that here.

But recently I have made a couple of cakes.

A marscapone meringue layer cake for a friend who was leaving work:
Meringue Marscapone

And some neapolitan cupcakes just because:
Neapolitan Cupcake
(extremely tasty – I ate four)

Baking central

I thought I’d show you a few of the cakes I have made in recent times.

There was this Chocolate Peppermint Crisp Cake, which I made for a friend’s birthday:

Chocolate Peppermint Crisp Cake

And this carrot cake, for an occasion that I can’t remember right now:

Carrot Cake

I also made these red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting when we had some visitors coming one afternoon:

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Random Stuff

While we were in New York City last year, I made a pilgrimage to my spiritual home, the Saks Fifth Avenue Shoe Salon. I came home with these shoes:

PurpleManolos

And the people were happy.

2013: The year in review

Click here to see last year’s answers for comparison.  And feel free to do this on your own blogs!   Let me know if you do so I can see your answers.

1. What did you do in 2013  that you’d never done before?

It’s not something I’ve never done before, but this year we had lots and lots of dinner parties.  A rare event for us.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t make resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Nope, no new babies this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully no!

5. What countries did you visit?

The USA.  Photos here.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

Nothing.  I am a very lucky girl.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

27 September and 6 October, I finally got to meet some of my very longest term online friends.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I don’t know… I can’t think of anything amazing that I’ve done this year.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Nothing exciting here this year either.  Clearly it’s been quite the average year for me.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I had two killer sinus infections.  Made me want to chop my head off both times.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I didn’t buy it, but the weather station the Boy bought me for my birthday is totally awesome.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Holidays.  Not a bad way to spend it really.

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Nothing.  My year has been average, as I mentioned earlier.

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Anything by Luke Kennedy.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?

Happier

b) thinner or fatter?

About the same

c) richer or poorer?

Richer

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Swim in my pool!

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Work.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

The same as always: Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas Day with the Boy’s family.

19. Did you fall in love in 2013?

I am still in love with my Boy.

20. What was your favorite TV program?

Still loving The Big Bang Theory, but this year I also got on the True Blood bandwagon.  Honorable mention to the final season of Breaking Bad, which was AMAZING.  The finale will go down in history as one of the best ever (although still not quite in the class of Goodbye, Farewell and Amen).

21. What was the best book you read?

I read all the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) books and enjoyed them.  Life and Laughing: My Story by Michael McIntyre had me in tears at times, and Ghost Child by Caroline Overington was beautifully written.  You know, the tragic part is I had to go to my Amazon account to see which books I’d bought for my Kindle to answer this question.

22. What was your favourite film of this year?

Star Trek: Into Darkness was a thousand times better than I was expecting.  I haven’t seen it yet but I’m expecting the second Hobbit movie to be pretty good too.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned the big 4-0, and had a massive party at home.  It was great.  We also went to Vue de Monde for dinner on my actual birthday, and it was spectacular.

24. What kept you sane?

I’m not sure, I think I may have gone a little mad this year.🙂

25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Robert Downey Jr.  I still adore George Clooney.

26. Who did you miss?

Huffle Mawson.  She was the best cat ever.

27. Who was the best new person you met?

I am not sure I met any new people this year.  I told you it was an average year!

Baking with Tracey

This weekend just passed I decided to make a cake.  Not just for fun; I was having lunch with some friends and it was my job to bring dessert.  So I decided to make this Red Velvet and Raspberry Supreme cake from Sweetapolita.  Rosie’s website is my go-to when I need cake inspiration.

So I baked the cake, aiming for six layers.  I made one small change to the recipe – I used sour cream instead of mayonnaise as that’s what I had in the fridge.  I can only assume it was a suitable substitute as the cake turned out wonderfully.  I also decided not to do the whipped cream layers, mostly because I am not a fan of whipped cream on anything (except maybe hot scones).  So I doubled the marshmallow cream cheese frosting and used that in every layer instead.

RedVelvet01

I put fresh raspberries on every second layer of marshmallow cream cheese, and they really added to the overall taste.

RedVelvet02

It turned out pretty well, I think, although I suspect my piping skills leave a bit to be desired…

RedVelvet03

But who cares when the cake is this tasty?

RedVelvet04

I think next time I might also increase the cocoa in the recipe, as this wasn’t quite chocolatey enough for my liking. It’s not my favourite red velvet cake recipe, but it’s pretty damn good and the marshmallow cream cheese is spectacular. SPECTACULAR.

My fave beauty blog

Yes, it’s true, I read a beauty blog.  But not for the reasons you think.

Zoe Foster Blake is a former beauty editor for Cosmopolitan magazine, was the managing editor at Primped.com.au for three years and wrote a beauty book called Amazing Face (which I have.  It is v v good).

She is also a novelist, although I have never read any of her books.

But her website, Fruity Beauty, is just about the best, most fun, well writted beauty blog evah.  It’s not all about make up (just as well, since I never wear that stuff).

The best thing about Fruity Beauty (aside from the content) is ZoZo’s (I call her that because in my mind, we are already best friends) writing style, which will keep you engrossed but make you laugh at the same time.

I highly recommend it.

Catching up

Wow, I didn’t realise it’s been so long since I wrote anything here!

In case you were wondering, Teddy survived his weekend with my parents so that’s all good.  We had a lovely time in Lakes Entrance.  We specifically went to see the Buchan Caves, and they were quite amazing.

BuchanCaves0001

If you click on the photo you’ll be taken to my FlickR photostream where you can see more photos.

Brave

This weekend is a long one in Melbourne.  The boy and I are off to the beach for the weekend.

My parents have offered to look after Teddy.  Which is terribly brave of them, considering that when we went to Papua New Guinea in November last year they were looking after both Huffle and Teddy, and Huffle sadly died.  It was totally not their fault.  But seven years previously, as the boy and I were about to head off to Queensland for a holiday… my rottie Max was staying with mum and dad.  The day before we got on the plane, I got a phone call to say Max had died.  Also totally not their fault.

My parents do not have good history in pet-sitting.  And yet they still offer.  I think they are really brave.

It will be different this time.  Instead of Teddy going to their house, they are coming to stay at our house.  It will be totally different.

Really.

In or out?

Are you an introvert or extrovert? I used to think I was an extrovert: outgoing, talkative and energetic. And to some degree I still am. But now I think I could be part introvert as well: reserved, quiet and shy. Actually I’m not that reserved once you get to know me, and truthfully I’m not entirely shy either. I can’t be bothered with small talk a lot of the time though. Does that count? I have no idea. Maybe I’m just not patient.

The general theory is this: an introvert will be delighted at the thought of spending the night in, possibly alone.  The extrovert will hate that idea.  I love and hate it in equal measures.

So what I think is this: I am an extrovert, with introverted tendencies.

Which are you?

Daily Photo

Here’s a photo from our trip to Papua New Guinea last year – Ponam Island in the Bismarck Sea.  There was a storm coming.

PNG42

I still haven’t decided what else to write about.

Why do I blog?

Right now, I can’t think of a good answer to this question.  Over the past year, instead of just rambling about stuff that rattles around my brain, I’ve focused on shoes and clothers.  And the occasional recipe.  But I’m not inspired at all.

Tell me why you blog.  Please?

It’s been a while…

Howdy everyone!  Happy new year to you!  Yes, I know it was ages ago but it’s been a while since I thought about coming here to write something.  To be fair, it has been a very busy time for us in the past few weeks.  We moved house right before Christmas, then had the usual festival of eating over the Christmas break.  Plus we had to unpack a million boxes.  Okay maybe not a million, but it seemed like it some days.

Happily, the hard work is behind us now and we are settling in to our new and fabulous home.  We’ve ordered a new couch (6 – 8 weeks delivery, pffft) then life will be complete.

I posted a photo of my new kitchen on Facebook, but for those of you who aren’t friends with me there, here it is:

kitchen01

And the walk-in pantry:

kitchen02

And over the past three weeks we have had a steady stream of visitors, which is fun but exhausting. I’m back at work properly next week, so I’m sure it will feel like getting back to normal life then.

You may have noticed (or not) that I have removed the shoe and wardrobe challenge counters from the sidebar.  I decided last week that I would stop the challenge.  When we moved, I got rid of some more shoes and some dresses and other clothes, so what I have in my wardrobe are clothes (and shoes) that I actually wear.  I’m actually happy about stopping the challenge, as I can go back to wearing what I want, instead of always thinking about things that I maybe haven’t worn for a while, and that may require saving.

And just to make you all jealous, here is my pool:

Pool

No, I don’t know why you need a pool in Melbourne but it came with the house. It’s heated, so at least we’ll be able to use it for more than 3 days a year.

The year in review

Click here to see last year’s answers for comparison.  And feel free to do this on your own blogs!   Let me know if you do so I can see your answers.

1. What did you do in 2012  that you’d never done before?

I decided that, with one particular friend, I would stop making all the effort and see if she stepped up to the plate.  She did not, for the record.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t make resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My friend Melissa had her second child just last week, but I don’t know if it counts as she and her family live in Singapore and we’ve only seen them once this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

We lost Huffle Mawson while we were away in Papua New Guinea.  Horrible time.

5. What countries did you visit?

Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Papua New Guinea.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Room to move in my house.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

October 25, we bought our new house!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Buying a new house.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Getting our (now sacked) builder to actually finish the job he started.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I had a throat infection and an eye infection at the same time.  That was especially unfun.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Our new house!

12. Where did most of your money go?

The new house😦

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Moving into our new house.  It’s pathetic, you would think no-one had ever bought a new house before in the history of the world.  But it is our dream house.

14. What song will always remind you of 2012?

Anything by Adele.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?

Happier

b) thinner or fatter?

About the same

c) richer or poorer?

Poorer (have I mentioned a new house yet?)

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Relax

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Listen to the builder’s excuses for why things weren’t getting done.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas Day with the boy’s family.  Same as always.

19. Did you fall in love in 2012?

Nope, I already have my boy.

20. What was your favorite TV program?

The Big Bang Theory.  It’s amazing that I’m not bored of it yet.

21. What was the best book you read?

I really enjoyed Rob Lowe’s autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends.  The Help by Katherine Stockett was good too, but needed a serious edit to be truly great.

22. What was your favourite film of this year?

I haven’t seen it yet as I’m writing this before it’s released in Australia, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be The Hobbit.  Checking back in my archives, I didn’t do any movie reviews this year so obviously I’ve seen nothing that good.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 39, and went to dinner at Rockpool.  It was delightful, as always.

24. What kept you sane?

Knowing that this year would be over, eventually.

25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I am very faithful.  My man George Clooney never lets me down.  In other news, how does he keep getting better looking?

26. Who did you miss?

I have missed seeing my friends Carol and Andy.  We have both been slack about keeping in touch this year and I’m going to remedy that very soon.

27. Who was the best new person you met?

A new girl at work, I can see us becoming quite good friends.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.