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This is what our Saturday night involved this weekend. Sorting 2kg of M&Ms into separate colours.

Not for eating though. More on what we used them for later.
mmmmm MnMs


jess - 13th Nov 2011, 20:27 tags: baking birthdays nablopomo nablopomo11


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In August 2009, I decided that my birthday must be celebrated with a mini-break (ah, the "mini-break", those were the days). So we organised a weekend break to Normandy (Mont St Michel, Bayeux Tapestry, D-Day Beaches, Monet's Garden) and Champagne (er... Champagne). Tash and Matt tagged along for the first bit of the trip. First stop - Mont St Michel.

Originally, I hadn't been too fussed with visiting Mont St Michel. We had visited England's version, St Michael's Mount which is in Cornwall. I figured that we'd ticked "Visit abbey on a tidal island" off our to do list. But I was wrong, Mont St Michel is definitely worth visiting.

We'd caught an overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Caen (Ouistreham) and when we arrived at six in the morning the French countryside was cloaked with mist. It was just beginning to lift as we arrived at Mont St Michel. We had a spectacular first view of the abbey. Mostly shrouded in fog, we only caught a glimpse of it here and there. Then as the mist lifted we were treated to a wonderful view of the abbey set against a brilliant blue sky.
Mont St Michel

After touring the abbey, we headed out to the tidal flats for a wander. I've now read that this is a bad idea because of quick sand (oops!). We were out there when the tide was scheduled to turn and start coming in. They warn you over loudspeakers about the incoming tide in lots of different languages. We were able to identify English (duh!), French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Russian. We stuck around for a while hoping to see the tide rush in and surround the island. But nothing happened. Well I'm sure the tide was coming in, but it certainly wasn't the torrent pictured on the postcards.
Mont St Michel
Mont St Michel

I would love to visit the abbey during a king tide and see the car park covered in water. There are signs in the carpark warning you not to park there at certain times lest your car becomes a submarine.
Mont St Michel

More photos (slideshow) on Flickr.

Our visit to Mont St Michel was part of our trip to Normady and Champagne. We visited France in August 2009 to celebrate Jess's birthday with camembert, croissants and bubbles. This is the first entry from this trip.

jess - 12th Nov 2011, 10:25 tags: travel pensieve france normandy j-bday-09 nablopomo nablopomo11


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With the warmer weather of recent weeks, we were able to take Evie for her first swim. A quick dip in the outdoor pool in our apartment complex seemed the easiest option. Probably not the best idea though, since the pool temp is somewhere in the low 20s and Evie is used to 35 degree bathwater.

At first she wasn't sure what to make of it.
First dip

Then it quickly turned into "I don't like this! Run me a proper bath people!"
not happy, jan!

She did get used to it though. And she sat happily enough with her feet dangling in the pool.
Evie's feet

I'm counting the outing as a success. While she didn't love it; she didn't hate it. It takes Evie a while to warm up to new experiences. My cautious little girl.
Underwater shot

More photos (slideshow) on Flickr.

jess - 11th Nov 2011, 16:42 tags: evie kids nablopomo nablopomo11


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TD turned 64 last week. Happy Birthday TD! We had our usual shindig at Mum and Dad's house to celebrate.

I made the world's biggest trifle instead of a birthday cake. I double the recipe I have so that it fills the trifle bowl that I own. There is usually heaps left over though. Enough for everyone to take a Tupperware full of trifle home. Next time I should probably just stick to the quantities in the recipe and just half fill the bowl. TD and Leo will be disappointed though. They love my trifle (what's not to love about custard, jelly, cream and cake?)
Birthday trifle
TD, Leo and Oscar

There is a famous Beatles' song about turning 64. The song has the lyric "grandchildren on your knee; Vera, Chuck and Dave". So here is TD with his grandchildren: Vera, Chuck, Dave and Vera.
TD and the Grandkids



jess - 10th Nov 2011, 20:24 tags: birthdays td kids nablopomo nablopomo11


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Recently I've been very lucky to be the recipient of some suprise macaron gifts. I know I bang on a lot about how much I love macarons on here and Facebook. My not so subliminal messaging must be working. Awesome!

When Caitlin dropped off some clothing hand-me-downs for Evie the other day she also gifted me with two delicious macarons from Baroque (I've decided that this is my favourite macaron store in Sydney). A wonderful surprise for afternoon tea. Thanks Caitlin!

Then, the other night at trivia Bel brought along a box of Adriano Zumbo macarons (or zumbarons as he's branded them) which she had bought at his new Pyrmont store. Thanks Bel! The girls shared the box of macarons and there were mixed reactions to Zumbo's weird and wacky flavours. Bel thought that one of his flavours reminded her of thai curry. Not exactly what you want in a dessert.
zumbarons

After hearing Bel describe Zumbo's new store at Sydney Casino, I knew that I wanted to go and check it out. It's just down the road from Mum and Dad so when Andrew and Dad were out whale watching one day, Mum and I walked over to the recently rebranded The Star (what a wanky name) to pick up some macarons for afternoon tea.
Zumbo

Just like his macaron flavours, the decor of Zumbo's new store is a bit wacky. The macarons that are available on the day are displayed in boxes marked "In case of emergency break glass", and other desserts are displayed in cases which remind me of lamps. At the other end of the store is a cafe which has a sushi train style dessert train. (It wasn't open when we went but has since opened.) The store was surprisingly quiet when we visited. We didn't have to wait at all, unlike at his Rozelle and Balmain outlets where the lines are ridiculous. I'm not sure whether this is because it was a Sunday or because people haven't discovered the new store yet.
Macaron display

On our visit we tried Raspberry Caramel; Tonka & Passionfruit; Cola; Milk Chocolate, Chili & Cinnamon; and Coconut, Green Chilli & Lavender. The specified flavours were definitely present in each macaron. So much so that I didn't like the chilli ones because they were too spicy for my wussy palate. The ones I liked most were the raspberry caramel and the passionfruit, but I'd take a vanilla macaron over either of those any day.
zumbarons Macarons zumbarons

So while weird and wacky is fun, I think I still need something traditional to wash it all down with. I think Zumbo needs to add a caramel or vanilla to his books permanently.

More photos (slideshow) on Flickr.

jess - 9th Nov 2011, 22:00 tags: macaron explore_sydney nablopomo nablopomo11


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