Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Espresso Room | Mosman

Are you around the Cremorne or Mosman area in Sydney's Lower North Share? Then head to The Espresso Room for good coffee and wholesome bircher muesli. You'll only stumble this little gem in the Lower North Shore if a local in the area tells you about it.

Read my Weekend Notes review.


Newborn Photography Workshops | Sydney

I’ve had some photography lessons on my Canon DSLR during my time travelling overseas over the past few years and have taken a lot of travel related photos of old architecture, landscape, and still life. Rarely of people though because I thought I wasn’t any good at it (I think it’s a confidence thing when you take photos of people you don’t know in the streets – I just never got comfortable with it). But you don’t have this issue when you take photos of newborns as all they do is sleep (or cry when they need a feed or something else that’s a bit messier to handle, in which case you just hand them back to their parents).

So I thought I’d give Erin Elizabeth Newborn Photography's workshops a go. Erin Elizabeth offers newborn posing and business workshops throughout Australia and she had her Sydney workshop in a serene southern suburb of Engadine which is the one I attended. Erin, a professional newborn photographer herself, ran an all Saturday workshop which was limited to a maximum of eight photographers. Because of this, it is a bit of a fight to get into given the demand.

Erin’s workshops focussed on how to safely pose, soothe, calm, and keep newborn subjects happy and sleepy. In addition to discussing how to set up a newborn session using natural light, we dived into lenses, equipment, exposure, and white balance so that you know how to get the perfect image.

With the workshop I attended, we were lucky to have 10 day old beautiful Eurasian twin girls who were absolutely adorable and so photogenic. Here are a few of the photos I took using my Canon 600D DLSR of the newborn twins (they were so well behaved and slept throughout the session):


Workshop attendees received a beautiful bag filled with a workbook (containing information discussed as well as additional information about setup, workflow, and business matters), as well as gift certificates and discount vouchers from Erin’s favourite newborn prop vendors.

Erin Elizabeth’s workshops also emphasises on setting up a newborn photography business. knowing how to find your market and run a legitimate and profitable business. The workshop also covers pricing, marketing, presentation, client relations, and other business matters.
Who are the workshops targeted at?

Professional photographers wanting to set up their own newborn photography business or expand their existing business. If you are new to photography, you may be better off taking a beginners course on photography that covers light, speed and aperture ie the basics of photography as this is assumed knowledge in Erin’s workshops.


The tuition cost is $1,500. A non-refundable $500 AUD deposit is require to hold your spot, with the remainder due one month prior to your workshop date.


This workshop was truly a unique and delightful experience.


Check out Erin Elizabeth Photography’s website for details on when the next workshops are on around Australia and internationally.

Phone: 0432 143 645

Made in Germany Bath Towels | Neutral Bay | Shopping

When I hear 'Made in Germany', I think 'quality'. Originally, I thought the 'Made in Germany' brand was synonymous with German cars, machines and stationery, but I've recently discovered it includes bath towels too.

I spent a Saturday shopping in Neutral Bay just before Christmas last year and walked into a bed linen/manchester store on Military Road called 'Powder Blue'. Surprisingly, the store didn’t sell the ordinary bed linen and manchester you would ordinarily see on the manchester department of Myers and David Jones. Every product displayed on Powder Blue's shelf is from somewhere around the world (France, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Germany, Peru), specifically handpicked for the store and when you touch the material of a selection of hand towels, bed linen, bath towels, rugs and look at their designs, you know everything there has been made with a lot of love and care.

The towels I bought were towels made in Germany with the label ‘Cawo Frottier’. Not only were they beautifully designed in soft grey stripes and different shades of grey on each side of the towels, but they were luxuriously so soft. And you know how after you wash ordinary towels they lose their softness and becomes coarse in texture? Well these towels actually feel sumptuously softer after you wash them in the machine. I’m not kidding. I don’t understand the German engineering behind this but I would absolutely love to meet the inventor of these bath towels.
The towels are made of 100% pure cotton and are eco friendly. If you can’t make the trip to the main ‘home fashion store’ in Cologne, Germany, you can get them from Powder Blue’s Neutral Bay or Double Bay stores. They are about $80 each.

Where? Powder Blue
Shop 5, 185 Military Rd, Neutral Bay, NSW, 2089 | (02) 9327 4252
410 New South Head Rd, Double Bay NSW 2028 | (02) 9953 9474
There is no online website but you can visit them in person.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Coffee Tea & Me Cafe | Marrickville

Campos coffee and bagels to go and a selection of sweet treats are what Coffee Tea & Me cafe specialises in. With cafes already open in Potts Point and Redfern, Coffee Tea & Me in Marrickville is their newest establishment.

But the main thing that stands out in this tiny place is its quirky setting - there's loads of character in this place. Outside the café are rows of weaved baskets strangely hanging up the ceiling and a wheel barrow just outside the door. The seats inside the café are cute and interesting though not really designed for comfort as the furnishings appear to be recycled old school furniture, ensuring you reminisce about old school days. I grabbed a seat that appears to have been from the 'maths' department of an elementary school.

The sweets for you to select are lined up on an old school table and are so perfectly set out that you only want to just look and not touch, like a display in a museum - very pretty.
An interesting little find in industrial Marrickville (suburbia in the Inner West part of Sydney) that's worth a visit to grab good Campos coffee and bagel on the go.

Where? 100b Sydenham Road, Marrickville NSW | (02) 7900 8045
Opens? 6am to 6pm, 7 days


Feu de Bois 100% vegetable base soap | Double Bay | Shopping

Ladies (and Gents), With Valentines Day just around the corner are you looking for gifts for your man? Then there is one product that I would get, and it's worth the special trip to Double Bay. I normally would not suggest the usual run of the mill gifts like soaps as that's really unimaginative, but LAFCO New York luxurious soaps are a must try. I was just browsing at a homewares store called The General Trading Company in Double Bay and took a whiff of these soaps. Mmmm! One whiff and this one is a real turn on! Or maybe its just me, I've always had a strong sense of smell.

LAFCO produces a specially blended 100% vegetable base soap (solvent free coconut oil) soap enriched with olive oil and sweet almond oil, available in a variety of unique fragrances but the one to get is called 'Feu de Bois'.

'Feu de Bois' sounds like 'for the boys' but it actually means wood fire in French. The best description of the 'Feu de Bois' fragrance is warm, woody and smoky. I don't know about the 'hint of mountain spruce' aspect of the fragrance - I've never smelt 'mountain spruce'.

Now to reveal bathroom secrets. When you use the soap, it does leave a luxurious creamy lather on your skin even after rinsing and I actually don't need moisturiser afterwards. This seems to come from the almond and olive oils in the soap bar. It doesn't dry your skin like normal soap.

It's always great feeling when you know you are using something that's sustainable and less damaging to the environment. The soaps are vegan (never tested on animals) and 100% biodegradable.

Where to Buy? The General Trading Company, 7 Knox St, Double Bay NSW 2028
Phone: (02) 9363 0993
Cost: $36 for a box of 3

Blue Fish | Darling Harbour

I generally avoid all dining areas near the Darling Harbour strip – too touristy, too pricey, even if the views of Darling Harbour and Sydney CBD skyline are simply stunning. This time a friend suggested we catch up at Blue Fish at Darling Harbour. After reading all the reviews on Urbanspoon and Weekend Notes about service and food quality, I really would have suggested we go somewhere else quite frankly had it not been for an Entertainment Book voucher that gives you a buy one get one free main deal.

My experience surprisingly was very different from all those Urbanspoon diners and I am glad to have ignored their off the cuff reviews and dined there. I wonder now after visiting Blue Fish last Wednesday evening whether the grumpy reviews were fair.  Fair enough if you were unlucky to be allocated a bad waitstaff who has bigger problems than not wanting to give you 100% good service but perhaps the establishment has taken on board all the feedback and have attempted to turn things around. Who knows but I can say the food we ordered for dinner was good and the service we had was pretty darn good, which do not reflect the negative reviews you see in Urbanspoon.  A reformed establishment that has taken on customer feedback should be applauded with some credit and recognition. After all I hate to see people not support this local establishment and miss out on the one thing that is consistent and that’s the beautiful city skyline of Sydney.
Location & Ambience

You can sit indoors or out. On a Sydney summer day, you’d be foolish not to sit outside and admire how beautiful the views are of Darling Harbour and the city skyline. I’ve been to many places in the world and we really are lucky to be living in such a beautiful city.

My friend and I shared two mains, the crab pasta and the seafood paella. They weren’t massive portions but were decent size that filled us up. Both dishes had food sitting on about a 25cm in diameter plate.

The crab pasta was delicious and a great summer dish. It wasn’t heavy with sauces – only fresh shell pasta and stringy crab meat.

The seafood paella was equally delicious with its rice mixed with chorizo, chicken, mussels, clams, BBQ king prawns, and calamari rings.  There was no strong fishy smell which is usually a good sign the seafood is fresh.


The service of the waitstaff for our table was exceptional, though he did underestimate the amount we could eat. He suggested the seafood paella was enough for two of us (interesting how people just assume).  But as regular dancers and very active people with huge appetites we ordered two main dishes and shared. We finished all of it – no doggy bags.

He did regularly check in on us to see if everything was fine and whether we wanted anything else.

The paella was $37.50 and I can’t remember what the cost of the crab pasta was as we go that one for free (Entertainment Book voucher).
Looking at the prices of the mains on the menu, they do range from $28 to $45.

The prices set for each dish at Blue Fish means it is not really an everyday dine in dine out establishment. But if you haven’t seen someone for a while and want a place for easy speaking then Blue Fish is a great convenient location in the heart of Sydney.

I’m glad I went to Blue Fish and ignored Urbanspoon reviews.

When?  Sun-Thurs 8am-10pm; Fri-Sat 8am-11pm
Where? Harbourside Shopping Centre/287 Darling Dr, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 9211 0315

York Lane Cafe | Sydney CBD

If you are looking for a street-side, cosy 'hole in a wall' venue with loads of character, to sip coffee or for lunch, guaranteed to be unseen, then York Lane in Wynyard is the place to be.

Read my Weekend Notes review


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sydney Dance Lounge | Walsh Bay

Looking for a rustic soulful romantic dining establishment in historical Walsh Bay?
Sydney Dance Lounge feels like home to me. I am here twice a week because this establishment adjoins the prestigious Sydney Dance Company where I take my favourite jazz class run by our talented teacher, Ramon. There is a full menu of other classes you can try every day of the week.
Read my full review on Weekend Notes


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dailylike's Craft Calendar Workshops | Around Australia

Do you have a stationery fetish and love learning to make and decorate new and practical things in a short space of time? Then attend one of Dailylike's Craft Calendar Workshops held around Australia.

Read my Weekend Notes review


Bar Indigo | Double Bay

Visit Double Bay's boutique shopping village for bespoke quality products and to dine at Indigo, a wonderful local café or trattoria located in Cross Street serving modern Australian food with European influence of the finest quality.

Read my Weekend Notes review.


Double Roasters | Marrickville

Looking for a comfortable place to sip, reflect, write?
I was in search of a café I could sit, sip chai tea and coffee for sometime to do some reading, a lot of non-political mind numbing reading and writing on how to save our country from the challenges of the 21st century before going back to work after a three week break.
What better place to just sit and reflect than Double Roasters, situated in Sydney's industrial part of Marrickville, away from stifling congestion of the CBD offices.
Read my Weekend Notes review.


The Comedy Store | Moore Park

The Comedy Store is rotating, hard hitting line-up of a variety of different and quirky stand up comedians. The shows will ensure you lose your voice by the end of the show from hours of non-stop laughter.

Be warned though, some humour as funny and crude as it was, is probably not for the faint hearted (i.e. lots of swearing, sexual references and some bathroom humour). Go in with an open mind and you'll be right.
Read my Weekend Notes review.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Mrs Top French Regional Cuisine | Potts Point

When I think French, I think Eiffel Tower, snails, and Joe Dassin's 1969 ballad 'Aux Champs Elysées', dedicated to the famous Champs Elysées avenue in Paris (YouTube it, it's catchy).

But beyond Paris lies many different cuisines of regional France. Food in regional France, influenced by produce readily available in that region, is much more hearty and wholesome.
Mrs Top French Regional Restaurant unashamedly acquaints you with the rich bourgeois cuisine of the French countryside right in the heart of Sydney, a delightful way to spend a Saturday evening dinner with good friends.
Read my Weekend Notes review.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Carol Dance Art | Walsh Bay

"I'm going to see Carol Dance's neo-surrealistic artwork next week" I said to my Classical Indian dance trained buddy, Pradnya. "Carol Dance? Coincidence. Is that the same person who wrote the play 'Indian Embrace' I saw at the Riverside Theatre the other day? It was excellent! What's neo-surrealism?" she replies.

Carol Dance's artwork is an affirmation of creativity, how history influences or changes modern times, and more importantly, it makes you think deeply about your own existence. Her paintings will stimulate your curiosity.

Check out Carol Dance's studio.

Read my Weekend Notes article of Carol Dance's work.