Sunday, 6 May 2012

Crazy Cat Lady

On Friday, it was Star Wars day. For those of you who don't know what that is, you need to check yo'self, before you wreck yo'self. It's called Google, yo - educate.

Ok enough gangsta talk. Basically, it is called Star Wars day because it is May the 4th. As in, May the fourth (force) be with you... AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA - it really gets me every time - I AM 12!

But enough about my stunted adolescence. This post is about my cats. Or more accurately, my smooshie-faced, fluffy-butted, winkle-berries that make my heart sing with happiness.

As I was lying in bed on Friday, Dexter FantaPants came over to say good morning and ensure that I would not forget to provide him with breakfast (his greatest fear in life is missing a meal, as he is a fatty boombah). Without any provocation from me, he sat down in what could only be described as a Jabba the Hut pose and proceeded to have a bath. Like this:

I have never been more proud. My little FantaPants is a Star Wars fan. Just like his mumma.

My other fur-baby is Princess Tiger Lily. As evidenced by the half-open eyes, and weird head angle in this photo, she is more of a zombie fan:

It is no secret that I talk to my cats. Often and with gusto. But it's hard not to. They are awesome. Especially when they do cool things like Star Wars or zombie impersonations. They truly are my cats. And I am their bat-shit-crazy cat lady.

P.S. When you become a card-carrying member of the Crazy Cat Lady club, other people start to notice. And amend their gift buying appropriately. I received these gems for my 30th birthday from a wonderful, and caring aunt:

Yep, I know. There are no words.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Winter Warmers

So last weekend, I moved in with the Boyfriend. It was not really planned but very welcome and I am loving it. My new house is light and airy and already feels like home. 

The shitty part of moving is packing and unpacking. My last place was quite small so a lot of my cooking and baking stuff just stayed in boxes. Fast forward a year and a half and it has been quite a treat unpacking them over the last week. I have been greeting all my finds like long lost, dusty and slightly cob-webby friends. Including finding my large cast-iron casserole pot.

It just so happens that it started to get cold this week so I found the perfect excuse to whip up my favourite casserole - Donna Hay's slow baked tomato and olive chicken (recipe is below). The reason I love this dish is that it is extremely flavoursome, the chicken just falls off the bone and it's a one pot wonder! You just throw all the ingredients in the pot and let the oven do the work. I served this last night with cous cous and a side of steamed broccolini. 

It's also really easy to substitute if you don't have certain ingredients. Like last night I substituted thyme and bay leaves (which I forgot to buy) for sage and oregano. I also accidentally bought tomato paste rather than tomato puree. It didn't matter, I just added a little extra water with the tomato paste.

However, the one thing you absolutely cannot substitute is RED WINE. I have a very strict policy when cooking this dish, and that is - one glass for the dish, one glass for me. Taste. And repeat. I cannot stress enough how important this is to the overall flavour of the dish and the relaxation levels of the cook.

A great little red that I am drinking at the moment is Grant Burge's The Cellar Cut Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz. It is a nice, middle-of-the-road wine. It is almost too drinkable. And by that I mean, one glass can accidentally turn into one bottle - oops.. Oh who am I kidding, I love wine like fat kids love cake. It also happens to be reasonably priced - $10 a bottle. And it's not even close to being goon.

Anyway, now you have a great little winter dinner party meal and wine all planned out for you. Guaranteed to wow the crowds. So off you go and enjoy. I'm going to go run a bath now. And while I'm soaking in the tub I am going to be sipping a glass of wine and eating leftover casserole.

Yeah, you heard me. And I know what you're thinking - this girl is sitting home on a Saturday night eating chicken and drinking wine in the bath... her life is AWESOME!

Donna Hay's Slow Baked Tomato and Olive Chicken

6 chicken marylands (6 legs and wings also works great)
1/2 bunch of thyme
4 bay leaves
5 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
250g cherry tomatoes
1 cup tomato puree
1/2 cup red wine (or to your taste *WINK*)
5 anchovies (totally optional but add nice saltiness)
1/2 cup mixed olives
sea salt and cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Place all ingredients in casserole pan.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cover with tight lid and bake for 1 hour.
Remove lid and increase heat to 200 degrees.
Bake for a further 30 mins or until liquid is reduced and chicken is golden.

Serve with cous cous, rice or sweet potato mash.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Just Keep Pinning

My name is Lauren and I am addicted to Pinterest.

For those of you who don't know - Pinterest is a site where you can browse, create and follow virtual pin boards. I cannot stop looking at pictures of things that total strangers find funny, fun, interesting, inspirational and beautiful. I have spent hours glued to my computer screen looking at everything from hairstyle tutorials and book recommendations to recipes and memes.

I've got pinning fever, and if this is crazy then I don't want to be sane!

You can check out my pins here. Go on, joiiiiinnnnnnn usssssss! *mwahahahahahaaa*

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

I Love... Love!

I am a hopeless romantic. I am a sucker for the thoughtful, kind, subtleties of love and all the beautiful, romantic gestures that go along with it. Watching romantic movies - I cry. Watching emotional drama on TV - I cry. Hell, watching sweet commercials - I cry. And once, watching a pivotal, life-changing moment in golf - I cried.

But I hate Valentine's Day.

It is exclusive and fake. People who are single can be made to feel unloved and inferior when they don't receive flowers or have a date. And people in relationships can feel unloved and inferior when their partner doesn't send flowers or take them out for dinner.

This day creates a sense of entitlement and greed that is just plain bonkers. Where did this come from? And why do we only dedicate one day to love? To combat this crass commercialisation of love, this year I got four girlfriends together and we went to the pub for drinks and trivia. The Boyfriend also feels the same way about Feb 14 so he decided to have a man-date with one of his single buddies.

Unsurprisingly, trivia with the girls was a hoot! I drank cider, and got 4 mini hotdogs for $10. We also came fifth which means we have room for improvement - that $60 bar tab will be ours next time!

So that was the perfect Valentine's Day for me. I avoided all of the pitfalls and got to have a fun night with some mates with my sense of love and romance intact. Meaning I can continue to look forward to being surprised by sweet romantic gestures some other day.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Plastic Fantastic

I have just finished reading 'The Brain That Changes Itself'' by Dr. Norman Doidge. It is about the evolution of brain science and how research is shifting away from the view that our brains are hardwired, and therefore any damage received is irreversible. We are now coming to realise that our brains are like play-doh and can mold and change to adapt to illness and injury and ageing; making it possible for the brain to re-wire itself.

I had wanted to read this book for some time and found it completely fascinating. Some parts are very dry and focus on a lot of medical terminology and complex scientific study. I found myself skim reading these parts so I didn't lose focus and motivation.

It is also hard to read as it talks in detail about the animal testing used to discover this neuroplasticity. I find that animal testing does not sit well with me, partly because it is not an issue that I can ascribe to being "good" or "bad". I hate the idea of animals living in cages their whole lives, being poked and prodded for our benefit. But at the same time, I have two very good friends who have diabetes that is controlled through regular insulin injections. They live perfectly normal lives due to animal research. I would never want them to stop taking their insulin even though I know it came from animal testing. See what I mean? There is no easy answer here.

However, on the whole, this book is thrilling and wondrous in its possibilities and gives a lot of food for thought on topics as varied as pornography, romantic love, drug use and early childhood development. So if you're in the mood for a bit of non-fiction and are willing to press on through some dry patches, give it a go.

Post script - when I proudly showed The Boyfriend what I was reading he exclaimed quite loudly "SNOOZE FEST!" but has since listened attentively when I have relayed certain chapters of interest to him. So don't be put off, it was amazing to me how many situations I could relate to people in my own life.