Monday, April 27, 2015

Six books of Summer and Autumn

Ok, ok, Autumn isn’t technically over yet but here are some books that I‘ve enjoyed over the past few months.  
Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweere   
This is an inter-generational, transnational, multiethnic story about Sri Lanka during their civil war. It is a sensitive and beautifully written story that shows the horrors of war and the beauty of Sri Lanka.

I couldn't put it down and was originally going to ration myself to a few pages a day so that it would last longer but I couldn't. STARS *****

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Kline
You’ve got to love economics and, while being a little disturbing, Kline’s book is very interesting.

She describes an approach to economic called the ‘Chicago School’ which, in uber simple terms, exploits large scale economic, political, social and natural disasters to bring in extreme economic change. The logic is that after the earthquake, for example, the citizens are usually too shocked and preoccupied with survival to worry about the government is doing. She uses several South American examples as well as Russian, Poland, South Africa, US and Iraq.

I am no expert on economics but I learnt a lot and it made me angry how governments are pressured by international institutions to implement such harsh economic reforms. STARS ****

Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie
Joseph Anton is Salman Rushdie’s long awaited autobiography. Don’t get confused, Joseph Anton was his code name while he was in protection.

It was pretty dark reading about his life under the Fatwa (issued by Ayatollah Khomeini) following the publication of the ‘Satanic Verses’. It describes to toll that living in hiding on his psyche and his relationships but it was inspiring the lengths he went to for his art.  

Don't let his name dropping bother you.
I always to read Rushdie but I always found him too dense but after reading Joseph Anton I am ready to attack his other work. STARS ****

The Client by John Grisham
The Client is a tale of a kid and his younger brother who sees an underworld related suicide.  If knowledge is power then Grisham’s young protagonist missed out. He gets hounded by the underworld crime bosses as he struggles to protect his traumatised brother and his single mum.

This is a gritty story with tough characters who aren’t afraid to fight for justice.  STARS ***

Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
I always thought cities had personality and in many ways were a bit like people. This is why I loved Five Star Billionaire so much because of the story revolves around the city of Shanghai and how alluring it is for so many people. This story follows the lives of several people and tells of how they came to Shanghai with dreams of making it and how they were high up in her favour one minute and next minute in the depth of despair because she had thrown them out. STARS *****

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
Ahhhh, I love historical fiction and An Officer and a Spy is right up there with the best.

It is based on the 'Dreyfus Affair' that occurred in the 1890s. It is written from the prospective of Picquart who is a career Army Officer and who ends up uncovering discrepancies in the trial of Alfred Dreyfus. We follow him as he becomes a 'whistle blower'.

It was great to read a spy novel that occurred without any sophisticated technological gadgets. STARS ***

Friday, April 24, 2015

Not your usual Indian

The first thing that I think of Indian food is big generous portions of spicy curries and dhal with sides of rice and naan – all to be shared of course.

But while Sauma does do all of the usual Indian food, they take it another level.

We tried dishes from their ‘Smaller’ menu but in reality they seemed perfect in size plus they were beautifully presented. They were full of the spices commonly used in Indian cooking but they didn’t feel overly heavy and laden with oil.   

I arrived slightly early so while I waited I enjoyed a beer at the bar with a Waygu Beef Samousa. The Samousa was perfect and worked well with the beetroot sauce.

To sit at the bar was nice as it didn’t make waiting alone until my posse arrived too awkward. I loved their drinks menu and their collection of beer from all around the world; there is something to suit everyone’s taste and compliment every dish.  

I also loved the décor as it was trendy but not obnoxious and the long tables are conducive to sharing a meal with friends.

The staff are friendly and efficient. One of the first things she asked was if I was going to see a show at the nearby Perth Theatre Centre as this would influence what we ordered and when.  

The space that Sauma occupies was once a café with links to Perth’s criminal underworld but those days are long gone. Now Sauma is great addition to Perth’s foodie scene and I would recommend it to anyone to wants to try a different approach to Indian food.

Sauma on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 23, 2015

You can’t complain

Clancy’s Fish Pub in Fremantle is a local favourite for many people.

It’s traditional and straightforward menu, location and space make it perfect for simple dinner with friends.  Dinner at Clancy’s is especially cool if you’re meeting with a small to medium size group or want somewhere where the kids can run around and play.   

They have the usual pub food such as Fish and Chips, Pizzas and the odd Thai Curry as well as a lot of other food. Nothing particularly fancy or uber flash but good if you just want something nice to go with one of their many beers or wine.

Friends, beer and something to eat - you can’t complain, right?

The staff are cool and the guy who served me my beer knew a lot and helped me to choose one that I liked.

I ended up having a Nail Red Ale to go along with my pizza and fries. Both pizza and fries weren’t bad and complimented my beer well and it was perfect for a dinner with my choir posse before practice.

Clancy's Fish Pub Fremantle on Urbanspoon

From Badass to #Girlboss

I’ve just finished Sophia Amoroso’s book #Girlboss and unexpectedly I really enjoyed it.

I don’t really know what I was expecting. I hadn’t heard of her clothing website Nastygirl ( before, how successful it has become or even the story behind it.  I thought it might be a story of a Generation Y prattling on about how she made it big and how it was really straight forward.

But I was mistaken!

Amoroso is truly an individual who made it big under her own steam and using her own talent. She had obstacles and difficulties but she overcame them.          

She is the first to admit that was a Badass when she was younger. She dropped out of school, got fired from several jobs, resorted from getting food from rubbish bins and going through a shoplifting phase. But because of her talent and hard work she made it.

This book is not what you expect: It is not a self-help book nor is it is a how-to-make-it-in-ebusiness manual. It isn’t a feminist manifesto, girl power book or chic lit. It is not a book about an over entitled gen Y/millennial who wanted to work in the fashion industry because it’s ‘cool factor’ regardless of whether they had any talent.    
Somehow, this book is relatable.

This book freely describes the mistakes that Amoroso makes and she encourages people to learn from them. She reminds people that the ‘normal’ (school, university, work, family) isn’t the only road to success.   

She started up Nasty Girl from her home which included doing everything herself. To begin with she used ebay to sell the vintage garments she picked up from second hand shops and she was responsible for choosing and dressing models (which she paid by buying them hand burgers after the shoot) as well as writing the description of items and then shipping them off once they had been sold.

Amoroso goes into her early ‘business plan’ (although she wouldn’t call it that)and it was her focus on the details and the customers that made her business so successful. She also added value to her business by showing how to pair items and which accessories would look good with a particular outfit. She also used MySpace (they were the days) to attract customers.  There was an element of doing things unconventionally and I guess that allowed her to be more responsive to the desires of her customers.   

Now she is a CEO of a multimillion dollar internet company that has a world-wide market that was created without any debt which is a story in itself but you’ll have to read the book.
But also, it is her drive to make things happen that is what made her so successful. “Call it stubborn, it’s the only way I can make something mine – to invite into my world rather than have it fall into my lap”.

If you want to be inspired and read about someone who doesn’t fit the mould who still goes one to be wildly successful try #girlboss!    
What I’ve learnt from this book

These are some of the things that I learnt from Sophia Amoroso:
  • Don’t grow up. Don’t be a bore. Don’t ever let the man get to you;
  • Life is short. Don’t be lazy;
  • A #girlboss is someone who’s in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it. As a #girlboss, you take control and accept responsibility. You’re a fighter – you know when to throw punches and when to roll with them. Sometimes you break the rules, sometimes you follow them but always on your own terms;
  • The energy you’ll expand focusing on someone else’s life is better spent working on your own. Just be your own idol;       
  • Abandon everything about your life and habits that might hold you back;
  • Learn to create your own opportunities;
  • Fortune favours action;
  • The best way to honour the past and future of women’s rights is by getting shit done.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Public Art gives colour to Perth’s built environment

Over the past couple of days several of Perth’s suburbs (including parts of the CBD) have come alive thanks to a Public Art project called Form 15. This project has given a pop of colour to an otherwise sterile and uninspired built environment.

On a perfect autumn day, I went to see some on the art that has appeared on many of the city’s buildings as well as in my own suburb of Victoria Park.

So after a quick bite to eat at Le Vietnamese, I grabbed a map and went on a mission to find some of the art. I soon got to China Town and while many of the walls were still being worked on, I still loved seeing Perth’s lane ways being opened up. The staff were really helpful making sure I had a map and knew what was going on.

It is a little late now but China Town was gearing up for a street party of sorts later that day (Friday night) which was designed to be a family friendly event.

I thought it was a great idea and I am so glad that they’ve decided to focus on that area of the city as up til recently is part has been a little dead. But since there are a few new bars and restaurants that have opened up and, not to mention changes to the layout of the city, this area is slowly changing for the better.    

I also loved how they’ve included the suburbs so where ever you live you won’t have to go far to admire the art.

The only problem I had with Form 15 was that I thought the art was a little hard to find as the PDF map that you could download from the website was a little hard to read on an iphone. If there is a next time they could think about developing an app that could guide people to the art as well as provide info about the artists and their work.

So below are a few photos of the work and if you have a chance I would encourage you to check it out. FYI, the Perth weather is looking super fine for the next week.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

I went in wanting Pho but I ended up having a Benh Mi

I’ve been past this Le Vietnamese several times and I always thought it looked really cool as well as the whole colonial thing always fascinates me. Apparently it is now ok to include colonial influences.

Anyway, I arrive slightly ahead of the lunch rush and was recommended the Premium Banh Mi (naturally with Chilli) and a Flat White.

They both came out quickly and Benh was wonderful. It was super fresh and had plenty of filling while being easy to eat. Since it tasted so good, I consider it a steal at $8. It is available as a take away option and perfect to buy on the way to work to eat at your desk.

The coffee wasn’t bad but I wish I had ordered the coffee Vietnamese style just for something different. They have other smaller things which looked really nice.

The décor is super cool and the food is well presented. The staff are great and work well under pressure.

My tip is to try and come before or after the lunch rush so you can eat in peace because this place gets busy.

Le Vietnam on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 13, 2015

When life throws you lemons

Life often has a habit of throwing you lemons.

When life does send you a lemon (whose juice gets in your eye) you have a choice to either feel it burn and move on or to wallow in the pain.

Recently my life has been very lemony.  

While I won’t bore you with the details, I just wanted to share what I have learnt.

During my time in the dog house, I have spent a lot of time with my family and good friends. These people are the people that actually matter and that are helping me through this tough time in my life. For this, I am eternally grateful and I hope that I can do the same for them too one day.

Other people were too busy doing their own thing (which is ok, no hard feelings) and not really prepared to back up their talk of women supporting each other. Now I know that my company is better than yours.

I was also able to attend a whole heap of festivals: French Film Festival, PerthFestival, Fringe Festival and Perth Writers’ Festival. I also got to go to rock concerts, classical music concerts, Opera in the Park, exhibitions at the WA Art Gallery and a hawkers’ market. I had such a good time!

Another thing that I was eternally grateful for is the time I can spend on my music. Usually, it is a bit of a logical nightmare to juggle my choir commitments (plus a music lesson)with work and normally I am exhausted by the time I get to rehearsal but not this time. Over the past few months I could make all of my commitments while enjoying every minute and I wasn’t too tired. Yay!!

I also got to enjoy going out for lunch. I went to Parliament House for a truly civilised lunch as well as Edosei and Palsaik Namboo which I found to be both great places to eat.

Cooking at home was another thing I really enjoyed. It was especially cool not to have to eat out of a Tupperware container in some windowless room.    

I also loved hanging out at home as usually I am barely there, which seems a bit pointless considering the amount of time needed to work to pay the mortgage. I loved pottering around and taking time over coffees while pondering the meaning (or lack of it) of life. I also got to do the many chores that needed doing such as cleaning the windows and the bathroom as well as catching up with doing the ironing which was usually done while watching Gossip Girl. 

I am glad of the tough times, they are the moments that give you strength, puts things into perspective, develop your character and show you who your real friends. It is showing me that I am tough and won’t be slapped down. It is helping me to understand that I could either stay at home and feel sorry for myself or go out and have a good time, which I did.

So here is to the future. Who know what will happen next but this period of my life will go down as the time I beat the lemons and had a ball.   

Friday, April 10, 2015

Do you want to Laugh Out Loud? Yes Please!

A lot of people have been reading Amy Poehler’s book ‘Yes Please’ recently and since I had some time on my hands I thought I might too.

In many ways, I love Poehler’s work. She’s completely Laugh-Out-Loud funny, very honest and got enough life experience to have an insight into life’s tough moments.

‘Yes Please’ is very similar to her partner-in-crime Tina Fay’s book ‘Bossy Pants’. It’s also quite self indulgent which makes it also simular to Lena Dunham’s ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ although has a little more depth but, unlike Dunham, Poehler admits that ‘one of the things that I have learnt about me is that I am really onto myself’.

In true tradition, it is part memoir and part advice, with a few ‘essays’, old photos and quasi-motivational quotes. 

It is called ‘Yes Please’ because she loves saying it and it’s a response while being a request.

Having said this, there are so many things that I loved about this book.  I loved hearing about her journey into comedy and reading about her childhood. Her letter to the team that were going to deliver her baby made me laugh so much.

There was one idea that stayed with me and it was by no means a key thread of the story but it was her idea of currency.

After experiencing a break up she decided that ‘I would be that plain girl with tons of personality, and accepting it made it a lot easier. If you are lucky, there is a moment in your life when you have some say as to what your currency is going to be. I decided early on that it was not going to be my looks.

I could relate to this as in many ways, choosing a currency was made for me and that, like Poehler, it wasn’t going to be my looks.
Accepting that I wasn’t going to be admired and liked for my loos does make life easier. It also makes it more exciting because you can move on and thing about other stuff rather than what you look like. I am so glad I don’t have the looks as I have saved so much time not worrying about the superficial exterior (maintenance of said exterior is super time consuming not to mention expensive) and focusing on having an interior life that brings peace and long term fulfilment.

If you are familiar with Amy Peohler’s work and even if you are not, ‘Yes Please’ is a funny read and guaranteed to make you LOL!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Japanese perfection

I have walked past Edosei several times and since it is relatively new, I knew I had to try it sooner rather than later.

Traditionally, I always get some Sushi if I am in a rush somewhere but recently I fell in love with Bento Boxes which made me want to explore Japanese cuisine outside the realm of the Sushi Rolls.

I am so glad that I visited Edosei as my lunch there was so perfect in so many ways.

I choose the Lunch Box Course which included 3 courses. The First Box included an appetizer and Sashimi. I loved the various slices of fresh fish (Tuna and King Fish) and Spiced Chicken.

Next was the Main Course that was divided into five parts that included Sashimi, Tempura vegetables, grilled meat and fish as well as seared Sushi. I loved how some of the dishes had a garnish on to (lemongrass and ginger) which gave a perfect pop of flavour.

The final part of the lunch was Sticky Rice Ice Cream which was a perfect end to the meal. My lunch at Edosei was so beautifully presented and was a joy to eat. Not only is the food beautiful in every way, the restaurant is well designed and a wonderful place to enjoy a meal.  

The staff were wonderful and I would recommend Edosei to anyone who appreciate beautiful Japanese food.

Edosei on Urbanspoon 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Imp - the best café on the block

I have always loved this café as the coffee is always superb and it is always open when I need it.

The weather was beautiful this weekend and so my friend and I wanted to do brunch but with the whole Easter thing happening, a lot of places were closed.

Thank God, The Imp wasn’t!

Luckily we scored a table outside so we could people watch while we chatted and discuss the problems of the world, which we like to do when coffee (or wine) is involved.

My friend ordered French Toast which she loved. The serving was generous and the added bacon was a cool addition to the compote and maple syrup.

I had the Smoked Salmon and Sous-Vide egg on a house made English Muffin and I tell you, it was great. There was lots of salmon and the rocket salad was fresh. The muffin was perfect.

Our Coffees were perfect and my Long Mac (Trad) was super strong but full of flavour.

On other occasions I have tasted their cakes/desserts and think they are perfect which make them perfect for late night coffee and cake sessions after you’ve eaten at one of the many places nearby.   

But this is what makes The Imp so great as they open later than the typical Perth Café that shuts at 3 or 4pm. The décor is cool, the location is perfect and the staff seem ok.      

The Imp on Urbanspoon
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