Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sarahs Style Emporium has moved!

As is the case with most beautiful things, age takes over and a new look is required. I realise that my Style Emporium has only been around a few months, but it was a bit pale, a bit two dimensional and in desperate need of added lift.

And so after a few days at a health retreat, sipping sparking mineral water and wearing a terry towelling bath robe, the Style Emporium has emerged, newer, fresher and with added bits in all the right places!

So head over to Sarahs Style Emporium and have a champagne with me. We are now hosted by the onsugar network, but the domain name remains www.sarahsstyleemporium.com

If you have come to this page in error, please update your bookmark accordingly!

Hope to see you soon!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Christmas comes but twice a year...

Everyone knows the best thing about Christmas is the presents. Don’t try and tell me you think otherwise, underneath it all, the presents is what draws you to celebrate the event year after year. I mean really, you could do without the family fight and Uncle Joe passing out behind the couch, but the presents will make it all worthwhile, right?

I’m not saying I don’t love Christmas for the presents – cause I sure do! (If I was being honest, I am a Christmas nut, love everything about this holiday much to my family’s horror) – but the other equally important reason is the food. I love Christmas food. I hate that we don’t eat it all year around. The same applies to Hot Cross Buns. Why make something so good, and then only have it available for half the year?

Anyways, as yesterday was July 25th, I invited some girlfriends over to celebrate Christmas in July. Traditionally, Christmas is July is a made up event so that Aussies can give Christmas a bit of a winter feel, however I personally feel that any excuse to eat Christmas food is a valid one, so the menu was set – one friend would make a soup for entrée, I would do a turkey with roast vegetables for main and another would tackle the dessert – traditional plum pudding.

My Christmas in July started with a minor miracle – I returned to my car at the local Safeway (I only had to run in and get the peas!) to find a parking inspector issuing me a ticket. Thankfully, the gentleman’s Christmas spirit was intact and I was dismissed with a warning.

Next up was table decoration – as you will remember I am not staying at my house at the moment, but housesitting inner city. So where does one find the serving bowls and spoons, roasting dishes and serviettes in another’s house? Much hunting ensued, and after a quick trip to the MCG for the Hawthorn v Geelong match, I returned to Christmas central to prepare the feast.

I cheated a little with turkey – bought one of the turkey rolls instead of a whole bird, and threw in pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower and corn. The girls arrived bearing gifts of wine and mix cds, and we sat down to our first course, Miss K’s homemade lamb and vegetable soup. So good that we wanted more, but with the prospect of a further two courses ahead, we decided to pace ourselves and move on to the main.

My turkey and roast vegetables were perfect if I don’t say so myself, and in a small twist, I totally forgot about the all important peas purchased that morning. Wine flowed, laughter followed and before we knew it, the time had come for the piece de résistance – Christmas pudding. Miss M had been hard at work for a week - soaking, steaming and simmering. Served with custard, this Gluten Free Plum Pudding was just heaven – exactly what Christmas should taste like!

Stuffed to bursting with food, I bought out the final trays of food, after dinner mints, and my little gift for the girls, peanut butter m and ms. We fell onto the couch, complaining of having eaten too much and drunk equally in excess. One screening of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ later, and 3 very satisfied girls crawled into their beds.

Only 5 months until we get to do it all again, and I think I will probably still be full from this meal. Miss M’s pudding recipe is below and should you want to start practising now I am available to assist in any taste testing you may need. This is probably also a good time to start Christmas shopping. You know how much those presents mean to everyone come the big day in December.

Happy Christmas in July everyone!

Gluten Free Plum Pudding

Ingredients (serves 12)
350g raisins, coarsely chopped
300g sultanas
1 x 300g pkt currants
185ml (3/4 cup) rum
Melted butter, to grease
200g butter, at room temperature
200g (1 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
140g (2 cups) fresh gluten & wheat-free breadcrumbs (made from day-old bread)
120g (1/2 cup) soy compound
70g (1 cup) Farex Baby Rice
80g (1/2 cup) Orgran Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Bought gluten-free vanilla custard, warmed, to serve

Place raisins, sultanas and currants in a glass or ceramic bowl. Stir in the rum. Cover and set aside, stirring every few hours, for 6 hours to macerate.
Brush a 2L (8-cup) capacity pudding basin with melted butter to grease. Line the base with non-stick baking paper.
Use an electric beater to beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the breadcrumbs, soy compound, baby rice, combined flour, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add the raisin mixture and stir to combine. Spoon into the prepared basin. Smooth the surface.
Place an upturned heatproof saucer in the base of a large saucepan. Fill one-third of the saucepan with boiling water. Bring to a simmer over low heat.
Cut a 30cm-square piece of non-stick baking paper and a 30cm-square piece of foil. Place the paper on top of the foil and fold to make a wide pleat in the centre. Place over the basin, foil-side up. Tie a double piece of kitchen string under the rim of the basin to secure foil. To make a handle, tie a double piece of string loosely over the top of the basin. Scrunch the paper and foil around the rim so they don't get wet.
Use the handle to lower the basin onto the saucer in the saucepan. Add enough boiling water to reach two-thirds of the way up the side of the basin.
Simmer, covered, adding more boiling water when necessary, for 4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean.
Set aside for 5 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve with custard.

Notes & tips
Allow 6 hours macerating and 5 minutes resting time.

Recipe thanks to taste.com.au

Friday, July 24, 2009

Escapade Events

Last night I attended the launch party of Escapade Events, www.escapadeevents.com.au, a social networking company recently started by the beautiful Kimberley Smith. Escapade Events has the simple philosophy to provide social occasions for women to get together and meet new people, enjoy great food and drinks, and experience all Melbourne has to offer.

Held at Tony Starr’s Kitten Club on Little Collins Street, Melbourne, www.kittenclub.com.au I could see right from the start, (a neon green door next to Bettina Liano, can’t miss it) that a venue such as this was more than perfect for the occasion. The Kitten Club is on the third floor, complete with 'love lounge' and quietly understated surrounds. The Kitten Club oozes cool while retaining a luxurious relaxed feeling, and had been decked out with balloons and a stage full of gift bags to mark the celebration that was the launch of this spectacularly good idea. It was time to party.

I made my first new friend the second I stepped inside and while we collected our complimentary cocktail – I chose the Fashionista in honour of the name – conversation flowed easily and common interests were discovered and shared.

Fabulous canapés did the rounds, while the cutest little cupcakes adorned the bar simply begging to be consumed. The girls from Nailene (www.nailene.com) were on hand in the love lounge doing mini manicures, while women of all ages enjoyed their drinks and met new friends and contacts. I was especially pleased to meet Kimberley and congratulate her on such a wonderful achievement, and put faces to the names of ladies I had only interacted with on Twitter.

And in another wonderful surprise, I was lucky enough to win the door prize, a stunning laptop bag from Ladedah bags. In addition to the giftbags full of goodies and vouchers, and the top I bought at Ojay while waiting for the event to start (I know, I know, I don’t need anymore tops!!), the evening was a terrific success.

The next events Kimberley has lined up include a movie screening of Cabaret on Wednesday August 5 and a pole dancing fitness class on Friday August 14. Both events can be booked through the website, and if you join as a member you will enjoy discounts on both these and future events.

Keep an eye on www.onyamagazine.com for more details of last night’s event!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Put Victoria on Your Table this winter

One of things I love about winter - besides the rain, wind and cold :p - is the food. Comforting soups, hearty casseroles, pies, crumbles and cakes. There are days when all you want to do is curl up on the couch with a good book or movie and eat your way though porridge, brownies, toasted sandwiches, hot chocolate, beef stew and apple pie. Of course, eating like this all winter long won’t do anything for your waistline (albeit winter is a very good time for layering with fashion), so one must consider the spring after the storms and take care to pick the best places to eat in order to make the most of the rainy season.

To try as many different canapes and cuisines this season, participate in the Put Victoria on your Table Festival, http://www.putvictoriaonyourtable.com.au/. Many of Melbourne’s great eateries are opening their doors this winter and inviting you to enjoy all Victorian produce has to offer while allowing you to experience the wonder of these renowned places to dine.

The Age Good Food Guide Winter Restaurant Express involves 80 restaurants, offering a 2 course meal with a glass of wine and coffee or tea for just $35 (lunch) or $45 (dinner). The restaurants on the menu are nothing short of spectacular, and are representative of the wonderful food and beverage available in Melbourne.

From July 26 to August 9, I will be eating my way around Melbourne – starting at Arintji, Federation Square, http://www.arintji.com.au/, and finishing at Walter’s Wine Bar in Southbank, http://www.walterswinebar.com.au/. These are just 2 of the 22 restaurants located in and around Melbourne city. You can also find great places by the bay, in Fitzroy and Carlton, south of the river and in regional Victoria.

You should book now to avoid disappointment by contacting the restaurant directly. Keep an eye on my blog for reviews of the places I make it to – starting with Seamstress on Lonsdale Street, http://www.seamstress.com.au/, early next week. Check out the website and you will know why I picked them to be first!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards 2009

Are you a creative type? It doesn’t matter which discipline – graphic design, music, film, animation, fashion (just to name a few) – there is a competition out there just for you. The Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards (or SOYA) are now open for applications.

SOYA, now in its sixth year, aims to reward and recognise young creative Australians with emerging talent by offering them $70,000 in grants, flights and prizes and an internship with established leaders in the field. For the fashion category – that means designers in the field of clothing, jewellery, shoes, couture, hats and fabric – the 2009 mentor is Zimmerman.

With past winners in the fashion category including Akina, Friedrich Gray and ANT!PODiUM, you will be in excellent company should your entry most impress the judges. Kate Vandermeer of http://www.ispystyle.net/ is the Fashion Category Producer for SOYA, and recommends you get your entries in soon, as they close on July 31st.

Check out http://www.soya.com.au/ to see all available categories (there are 7, $10,000 each!) and submit online. You must be an Australian resident aged 30 or under, and are encouraged to submit some info on stockists, media coverage, participation in events or shows and any study you have undertaken to give the team at SOYA as much detail as possible on how you’ve done the background work to build your business or label.

You are welcome to submit to as many categories as you like to increase your chances at winning the cash and mentorship. And really, why wouldn’t you? Time is of the essence and this is the chance of a lifetime. Submissions are closing soon so get to the website for all the t’s and c’s, get your folio together and enter now.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

6 weeks til Spring (but who's counting?)

Melbourne looks deceptively warm through the windows of my 12th floor office complex. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and I swear this morning, I could sense spring in the air. We are only halfway through July, still weeks away from birds chirping and the sounds of children in parks and the smells of freshly cut grass, yet, as the days start to get slightly longer (yes, I realise its only a minute or two every day) I can’t help but get excited about the prospect of another Racing Carnival just around the corner.

I love Spring Racing. An opportunity to get frocked up and drink champagne in the sun, to put dollar each way bets on a sport you know nothing about and possibly the only time you can get away with wearing ludicrous head adornments and still be called fashionable.

Today I took a quick tour of the DFO shopping centre at Spencer Street, and was drawn to the Jackie E store – not because I was looking for a gift for my Mum or Nanna, but because the frocks in the window were just so very pretty, feminine and charming I had to take a closer look.

Perfect chain store chic for Spring Racing (or for those of us that feel the need to purchase a new outfit for every outing at the carnival), Jackie E’s range of dresses, skirts and accessories will take you from the office to the track and out on the town afterwards without breaking the bank.

The pale colours of grey, champagne, ivory and pink work so well together and create a softness that melds with spring perfectly. They even have the shoes to match, though I wouldn't recommend taking pale coloured satin or silk anywhere near damp grass or muddy racetracks. (By the same token, please don't be one of those girls walking/stumbling home with her heels slung over her shoulders...)

The countdown is on … 6 weeks and counting. Start planning your outings and outfits now (and don’t forget the head adornments!)


Here are three of my favourite looks from the current Jackie E collection.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More good reasons I should live in the city

Ahh, weekend number 2 as a city dweller. I have stepped up the hunt for the perfect city pad, and lament the fact that I am going to have to go home for a while before I get to come back. From Friday at 5pm to Sunday (about now), I have enjoyed every second of my second weekend here. It is just so easy to get around, be somewhere in 15 minutes and make decisions at the spur of the moment.

First up Friday night was Bertha Brown, a relatively new bar on Flinders Street. The work crew wandered down for the end of week festivities, and found a fabulous new watering hole for the cool and chic. $12 cocktails are just the beginning, you can relax in lounge room type settings with couches, or sit around tables that have a desk and school chair feel. There are also booths for those looking for something more intimate. The large U shaped venue uses effective lighting and décor, with groovy tunes to create a soothing atmosphere perfect for a wind down beverage. They also do a $5 pizza lunch special, so head on down and check them out - and try the Bertha’s Passion cocktail. I promise you won’t regret it.

Bertha Brown
562 Flinders Street
Melbourne 3000
9629 1207

Then the beauty of being so close to the city – I headed back to my pad for a quick costume change before meeting a friend and walking (walking!) to Chapel Street for dinner. Yes, it was chilly and I opted to forgo the heels for an evening, but so worth the walk on such a clear night. We found a little Japanese place and stayed a while, before the brisk walk back in the cool night air.

My first trip on public transport at night was to the MCG for the Collingwood v Hawthorn game last night. I rugged up for the evening and jumped on the tram to Flinders Street at the end of the road. A gentleman on the tram raving we should starve ourselves for cats and dogs was only slightly unnerving, before I switched to the train and headed out to Richmond. Cold and Collingwood supporter’s aside, the game started quite well. The Hawks weren’t doing too badly and the one lunatic Collingwood supporter behind us was gracefully evicted – I am sure something to do with his language at a family affair. I was actually surprised to see so many kids out last night; guess you have to start them young!! In case you hadn’t heard, Hawthorn ran away with the game in the end, and I couldn’t have been happier getting the tram back home with the other supporters later that night.

And today I woke up to glaring sunshine, blue skies and a spring in my step. I bounced down to Chapel Street for breakfast at Globe, where the coffee wasn’t bad, but the muesli and yoghurt were worth the wait. A wander along the strip, a bag full of groceries and a visit to the Prahran market later, I headed home again, where I am about to head out for another lap of the lake on such a pleasant afternoon.

Globe Café
218 Chapel Street
Prahran 3181
9510 8693

Don’t forget Masterchef finale tonight – who is your money on? I’d like to see Julie win but time will tell! I think the real winner here is Channel 10. Who would have thought it would be such a success?