Dapper Packer – A Woman’s Guide

“Let’s go for a holiday!”

Treating yourself to a holiday is always exciting and much anticipated, but let’s face it, even if you're embarking on one of the world's best Italy Tours, packing is a dreadful chore. Often left to the last minute, cramming your worldly possessions into a suitcase which is always too small can be the first thing to go wrong with a holiday trip.

It’s crucial to your enjoyment of your holiday that you have all the important things you need on your holiday and transporting them with minimal fuss, worry and misadventure. Here is our easy-peasy packing guide for every trip you are bound to take in your lifetime.

The Basics

Before you stuff in four pairs of shoes and five lipsticks in your suitcase, think twice about whether you really need them all. Planning ahead and familiarising yourself with the climate and itinerary of your holiday destination can help you avoid buying things that you would rarely use again.

To save on your suitcase space on clothing, choose wardrobe items which can be suitable for multiple occasions. A simple black jersey shift dress looks good at a business meeting, dinner and the flea market. You can also bring multiple-use products to reduce your suitcase load. A face moisturizer with good SPF can double as body lotion.

Most hotels will provide an iron. However, you can leave the travelling iron behind in favor of crinkle- resistant clothing. Blended fabrics are great choice of traveling clothing compared to all-natural cotton or linen. You can bring a set of basic tops, bottoms and a few accessories to mix and match.

Packing for the sun, sand and surf

This is possibly the easiest vacation to pack because you’ll only need minimum clothing for maximum fun. Some essentials would be sun blocks, at least two swimsuits (if you are staying more than 2 days) and quick-dry (thin) clothing. A duffel bag is all you need to keep your travel needs. Ziploc bags or waterproof case are recommended to prevent your toiletries from spilling in your bag.

Investing in a huge colorful pareo can help you save your suitcase space by doubling as a wrap, towel, bag, headscarf, shawl, blanket and mat. Beach holidays should be carefree, but make sure your personal belongings are kept safe and dry at the beach. Keep your phone in a waterproof case ensures you will be able to keep making calls and text without getting your phone wet.

A Day Hike

Hiking always requires to pack light – that includes the backpack, since you’ll be carrying everything most of the time. You’ll need to pack smart and bring only the necessities. A good tip is to discuss among your travel companions and split the things that can be shared so you can all lighten your respective loads.

Winter Wonderland

If your vacation includes cold weather, beautiful snowfall and hot chocolate beside the fireplace, be sure you are well-equipped for the weather. Carry your winter coat instead of packing it in your check-in baggage will not only saves space, you will need the jacket once you arrive at the destination.

Beanies are great accessories to bring as they help to keep the warmth in. A pair of Briko sunglasses can provide you both style and safety. Simply change your elastic head strap to regular temples when you go from slope to street.


Better Homes and Gardens LIVE – Free Tickets!

If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the lookout for that next accessory or perfect project for your house and garden. Last weekend I added in a gorgeous new herb garden to my backyard, and have already enjoyed cooking with the beautiful fresh herbs.

I’ve been an avid reader of Better Homes and Gardens for many years, and coming soon to Melbourne is Better Homes and Gardens Live, from the 24 – 26th February, 2012 and the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Carlton.

This fabulous LIVE event brings to life the pages of Australia’s favourite magazine, providing home makers, DIY enthusiasts, keen gardeners and aspiring cooks with inspiring new ideas for their home and garden. As well as fantastic new ideas, workshops and products to try, there’ll also be live stage shows from your favourite presenters. Graham Ross, Tara Dennis, ‘Fast’ Ed, Karen Martini, Jason Hodges, Rob Palmerand Johanna Griggs will take to the stage to share their creative and original ideas to help you make yours a better home and garden! Click here to view the stage timetables.

So, love to go? Guess what – I have 20 tickets to give away for FREE! Ten lucky winners will be able to take themselves and a friend without spending a cent, so you’ve got lots of spending cash for all the great goodies you’re bound to find inside. Simply leave a comment on the post below letting me know why you’d love to go by the 20th of February, and 10 lucky winners will be selected. Tickets are redeemed online, and then you’re on your way!

For tickets and more info visit bhglive.com.au

Have you entered yet?

Have you entered the competitionyet? You still have time to enter and possibly win yourself a 12 month subscription to Baked and Delicious Magazine with all the cookware and tools, valued at $1105!

The competition ends at 5pm on Friday 9th September. That gives you just this week to get your entry in. Of course, if you can’t wait you can subscribe directly via the Baked and Delicious website which guarantees delivery direct to you AND includes 4 bonus subscriber-only gifts.

If you’re still not sure, have a look at the video and see what you’re missing out on by not entering the competition or subscribing….

Then get over and enter!!


Story by Amanda Cox, AKA Mad Cow.

I huddled in the dark, pushing myself as far into the corner of the only safe place I could find.

I was trapped, in my house.

I’d managed to run from them when they checked to see that my only escape path was blocked, and head for the walk-in wardrobe. Carefully, silently, I opened the door, slithered inside and curled around myself, amongst the shoes, hidden behind the long evening dresses and suits.

They were coming for me. I could hear them, their feet, pounding on the floor boards that lined the hall as they ran up and down, searching for my whereabouts. Never stopping, I was sure, until they found me.

Tears of terror streamed down my face. I shoved my fist into my mouth, stifling a fearful sob, as the footsteps dulled when the hit the carpeted floor the other side of the door. It is a weak barrier and the only thing obscuring me from their view.

As noiselessly as possible, overcoming a petrifying dread, I wriggled from between my footwear to place my back firmly against the door to prevent their entry. It was all I had.

Though they knew I hadn’t left the house, couldn’t leave the house, they had stopped calling for me. I held my breath and waited for the jiggling of the doorhandle, the beating on the door, the yelling. I sighed in relief as, instead, the footsteps moved away and back down the hallway. Away from my safe place.

It was short lived. More steps, running this time, back and forth. I could hear quiet discussion as they huddled around the doorway, my escape route to the outside world. They had spread out in their search.

I didn’t know how long I would have to remain here, or how long before they would discover my location. All I knew was that I had to stay hidden until it was safe.

I was scared.

I couldn’t go out and fight them. Not again. I’d tried, and they’d taken all the fight out of me. I couldn’t think straight, couldn’t function. I was spent. They had weapons; weapons that could easily pierce your heart, send you mad and crush your sprit.

I was afraid that if they found me, found me right now, they would use these weapons and break me, push me to the point where I would literally snap.

I was terrified I would lose control, and that once I let go, I’d never get it back again.

I was scared and I couldn’t move.

I try to grasp my thoughts, gather some strength.I so desperately need to get my thoughts together so I can get out of this, safely, unbroken.

I try to breathe deeply, to calm myself. I’m frozen in fear. Hot tears run down my cheek and onto my neck. I pray they don’t melt my resolve. I lean back against the door, pressing hard and hope they don’t find me.

They are coming for me again and I still myself as they begin to call for me …

“Mum. MUM! Where are you? Mum?”

Amanda Cox is a writer, speaker, blogger, author, entrepreneur, founder of parent support website Real Mums, wife, mum to three boys, drinker of wine and mediocre housewife. Her personal blog may be found at www.diaryofamadcow.com.au or underneath the coffee table with last week’s Vegemite toast and the missing waffle iron …

Win a Subscription to Baked and Delicious Magazine

Would you like to win your very own subscription to Baked and Delicious Magazine? Yes, that is the same one that Ms FeetUp raved about recently.


Well you are in luck.

Thanks to Baked and Delicious we have a free subscription to give away to one lucky reader. The prize includes 60 issues of Baked and Delicious and 4 exclusive (subscriber only) gifts.

What a prize it is!

The total value of the prize is $1,105.00.

Interested? I thought so.

How to enter:

Answer this question in 25 words or less. Post your answer in the comments below.

“If you won the subscription to Baked and Delicious Magazine, how would it change your cooking life?”

You may enter as many times as you like. The winner will be chosen by representatives of Cherry Mag and Baked and Delicious Magazine.

The competition closes 9th September. The winner will be notified by email. The prize will be administered by Baked and Delicious who will also contact the winner and arrange to have the prize delivered.

So, put your thinking caps on and start entering!

Oh, if you can’t wait to get your hands on a subscription, drop into the Baked and Delicious website and order your subscription online.

The Poor Baker meets Baked and Delicious

** Competition Alert**

I admit that I am a poor baker and by poor I don’t mean broke, I mean pretty average. I admit that my baked goods will never be suitable for Masterchef, ok?

I was lucky enough to get my hands on the 3rd part of the new Baked and Delicious magazine that is now available in newsagents. You know, I think it has converted me.

This isn’t just a magazine, it’s actually more like a recipe book. The cover is firm, unlike a magazine, and you won’t find articles about rubbish. Instead, you’ll find nothing but recipes and gorgous full page photos of the finished product.

In edition 3 there are recipes including a decadent sachertorte, tarte tatin, traditional scones and even pizze dough. It’s a great mix of sweet and savoury recipes. In fact, the one that really caught my eye was for olive, herb and parmesan loaf and they must have known something because it’s the central recipe and it has step by step pictures to guide me through.

One problem with not being a baker – a serious shortage of cookware.

But I didn’t mention the best part, did I? The magazine comes with it’s own silicone cookware. Each edition brings you a new piece. How lucky was I that the piece that comes with this edition is just the right one for my loaf? The Lemon Drizzle Cake is also made using the loaf tin so guess what’s next on my culinary adventure?

Baked & Delicious is a new fortnightly magazine packed with recipes, from international classics to traditional favourites, and this magazine brings the very best of baking to today’s cooks. If you would like to subscribe you can do so via the subscription page on the website.

You can buy the magazine from your local newsagent but if you love to cook I recommend subscribing. That way you won’t miss out on any of the editions, nor will you miss out on the silicone cookware that will build up your kitchen tools.

This is a quality magazine that will become a great resource for cooks and wannabes.

Keep your eye out on Cherry Mag for an upcoming competition where a lucky reader will win a years subscription!

Taste of Sydney -a review

By Food Writer and Food Critic Brian Steel

Crisp Wagyu Beef with Mushroom and truffle foam; 12-hour braised lamb shoulder with pea and feta salad; Acquarello risotto of beetroot and gorgonzola; dark chocolate and coffee ‘Barbajada’ with almond crumble … This is not the degustation menu at one Sydney restaurant, but only a few of the choices at this year’s Taste of Sydney Festival. For the third year, a small patch of Centennial Park was converted into an outdoor ‘do-it-yourself’ degustation arena showcasing some of the best restaurants in Sydney, and bookended with high-end providores, wineries and intimate presentations, demonstrations, and discussions. This is a one-stop-shop to eat and drink your way around the Sydney and regional gastronomic experience. The festival ran from Thursday to Sunday, and each afternoon and evening session lasted four hours.

Entry is $25-30, after which you must buy books of ‘Crowns’ – the festival currency. These can be purchased in books of 10 and 30: each dish at the restaurant stalls ranges from 8-12 crowns, so for a book of 30 Crowns you can manage a starter, a main and a dessert. My advice – double up on the crowns and pace yourself to experience a range of superb quality cuisine that you will rarely find in one place.

The setup is reminiscent of the duck seeming to glide effortlessly across the pond when underneath it is all frenzied energy. The restaurants that sign up for this event expend tremendous amounts of energy, time, and creativity in the process. Imagine trying to plan how to feed more than 2500 people up to three small courses, when all you have is a kitchen tent about 3m squared. In some cases, this could involve converting up to 300kg of wagyu beef and 20 suckling pigs into thousands of identical dishes of the same high quality. Indeed, these same chefs may only have the ability to serve 50 to 70 people a night in their own restaurants. Of course, you never get a hint of all this, as the friendly and efficient staff fronting these tents serve you fully plated, aesthetically pleasing dishes that easily match eating in the best restaurant in the city. There are many food and wine festivals in Sydney throughout the year, but this is the flagship, if your passion is centred on high-end cuisine, in an intimate setting surrounded by likeminded people. And the overall value is unbeatable.

Last year, Taste of Melbourne was in the Royal Exhibition Building in August, so keep your ear to the ground and sign up for the newsletter to get in early for the tickets.

(Images from Taste of Sydney website)

Brian Steel is a food writer and the brains behind Underground Gourmet.

Dark Chocolate Dessert Cake

Did you know thatCadburyhas recipes on its website? Neither did I but when I went looking for a chocolate dessert recipe, the Cadbury site popped up with this beauty. It uses dark chocolate, which we know is good for us, so don’t feel guilty as you savour this cake.

Dark Chocolate Dessert Cake
Serves 20


250g unsalted butter, chopped
200g Cadbury® Dark Cooking chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1½ cups boiling water
1½ cups caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups self raising flour, sifted
½ cup cocoa, sifted

150g Cadbury Dark Cooking Chocolate
40g butter


  1. Preheat oven to 160ºC conventional 140ºC fan forced. Lightly grease and line the base of 28cm round cake pan.
  2. Combine butter and chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and melt over a low heat. Dissolve coffee in boiling water. Add coffee and sugar to chocolate mixture and stir to dissolve sugar. Transfer to bowl and allow to cool 10 minutes.
  3. Using an electric mixer gradually add vanilla and eggs. Then flour and cocoa. Mix a further 2 minutes or until evenly combined. Pour into cake pan and bake for 1 – 1¼ hours. Test with skewer inserted into the middle of the cake. Cool in pan for 30 minutes, before turning onto wire rack.
  4. To make the chocolate frosting, combine chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water; stir to combine. Allow to cool slightly and spread over top of cake.

If you are looking for some delicious chocolate based dessert recipes then drop into the Cadbury site and have a look at their designer desserts. Ice-cream, roulade, brownies, tiramisu and many more recipes are there to tempt your taste buds.


COZZE IN UMIDO- recipe by By Eugenio Maiale from Omerta & A Tavola
Mussels steamed with chilli, white wine, tomato and parsley

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 small red chillies, deseeded, finely chopped
1-tablespoon tomato passata
1kg tomatoes, finely chopped
1 lemon, rind finely grated, juiced
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1.5kg mussels, beards removed (see note)
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Crusty bread, to serve


Heat oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and chilli. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until onion is soft. Add tomato passata and cook for 1 minute.
Add tomato, lemon rind, lemon juice, sugar and wine to pan. Stir until well combined. Increase heat to high. Bring sauce to the boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes or until thick. Season with salt and pepper.
Add mussels to sauce. Cover and cook, shaking pan occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes or until mussel shells open. Ladle sauce and mussels into bowls. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with bread.

To remove mussel beards
Step 1: place mussels in a large bowl. Cover with cold water. Scrub with scourer to remove grit from shells.

Step 2: Remove mussels, one at a time, hold in one had. Using free hand, grab the beard (clump of hairs) and sharply tug down to remove. Transfer cleaned mussel shells to a fresh bowl of water.

If you love this recipe come and see us at Taste of Sydney March 10-13.

Masterchef – Live in Sydney

By Food Writer, Brian Steel

The Masterchef Live event débuted in Sydney last weekend with all the grandeur and flair of the TV show. The judges Matt, George and Gary; notable contestants Marion, and Adam; and famous chefs Donna Hay, Kylie Kwong, and Neil Perry were all there to launch the event. The weekend’s focus was the thrice daily Masterchef live show, emulating an episode. Whilst this was an impressive event, it was largely eclipsed by the quality and number of the chefs, shows, providores and demonstrations available in the food hall and the park.

During events like the Good Food Show, access to cooking demos comes at a significant extra cost. Throughout the Masterchef weekend, however, the sheer number, variation and calibre of demonstrations read like a who’s who of Australian Gastronomy. If you are seriously into your food, as well as the TV show, you could be forgiven for getting more excited by the prospect of being able to chat directly, and in an intimate setting, with the likes of Maggie Beer, Neil Perry, Peter Gilmore, Adriano Zumbo, Christine Manfield, Frank Comorra, Greg and Peter Doyle, Kylie Kwong, Warren Turnbull and Justin North, to name a few. This was possible at the ‘Grill a Chef’ and ‘How To?’ sessions. These same chefs, and more, then provided meaningful, and often interactive sessions at the seven other demonstration stages and cookery schools interspersed with more than 100 exhibitors showcasing the best of Australian produce and products.

The ‘Live’ event followed the same formula of the episodes: the judges interacting with the audience to select four contestants for the pressure test – a quail dish with a bean salad. There were two other stages featuring a number of children for a junior master chef challenge, ending with a ‘beat the chef’ omelette making task for another young audience member. Throughout the hour there were guest appearances by Marion and Adam to help with the pressure test, and Donna Hay setting the juniors ‘make a trifle’ challenge. Comic relief came in many forms – the most notable of which a collage which exploited each of the judges key traits: Matt’s fashion sense; George’s propensity to make up words, and Gary’s proclivity for overt emotion.

I remember Masterchef in the UK, before the reality TV explosion across the globe. Loyd Grossman, and his rather bizarre accent, hosting the same formula every week. Even then it was compelling viewing, and the winner was assured onward employment in the industry. However, the winners were by no means the recognise-in-the-street / household-name / watercooler-debate stars of today’s phenomenon. The last series finale broke all the records, and Masterchef is credited with getting people back into the kitchen, albeit with a new obsession with ‘plating up’.

Now a global brand – Masterchef is a modern marvel. You can sense the frenetic scrambling in the background as everyone jostles for a piece of the market share of what will likely be an enduring phenomenon, marking the beginning of a more food-focused, culinary enthusiastic population determined to de-glaze, chiffonnade, and macerate their way to fame and glory.

Brian Steel is a food writer and the brains behind Underground Gourmet.