Sunday, March 23, 2014

Buying A Mattress On Ebay-When It Goes Wrong

Communication is a vital thing and that's not what I recieved after buying a mattress from Ebay. I rang the seller to confirm it had turning handles before buying. I messaged the seller after it arrived without handles. They said they would look into exchanging it.

The next day I received a call from a delivery man to say that he was delivering a mattress. He said it was for an Ebay order so I thought that was pretty quick of the seller. Later I received an Ebay message asking for photos of my mattress. Strange, considering they already organised the delivery of the replacement. 

I sent photos anyway and re-confirmed the delivery of a new mattress. No reply. I rang but apparently I needed to speak to after-sales support and no one was available all morning. By then the delivery man had delivered the mattress and left. I was at work and had given my key to the porter who let the delivery guy in my flat.

When I called the seller again to escalate, they finally said they did not send this delivery. So who the hell came to give me a new mattress and where did the first one go? 

It was a mystery until I was on my way home. I realised it was exactly a week since I bought a mattress from Ebay from another seller. But I cancelled the transaction and received my money back. 

I got home and confirmed my suspicions. The mattress I cancelled was delivered and they had taken away my much nicer and expensive mattress.

Luckily at that time I could still call that seller to explain what happened. I started by saying: "It's a funny story..."

What was funnier still, was that both sellers were next door to each other. But this one didn't want to give my mattress in their van directly back to it's seller. It had to be sent back to me when the cancelled mattress was picked up. It was a case of not stepping on a competitor's turf. Or admitting mistakes were made. 

At least the mattress mystery is solved.

Here are a few pictures of my Sunday. 

Buffalo wings from Sticky Wings on Brick Lane. They were delish, but could have been spicier. The deep fried corn however was perfection!

What Mid Thirties Means To Me

I've officially hit my mid 30s and this year there were no parties, no group gatherings, not even a cake. 

I feel like I've grown up but not to my age. The number is makes to feel like I should be married with kids. For me, mid thirties are about focusing on priorities and cutting out the meaningless things in life.

As time rolls on, the tolls of partying gets harder, the circle of friends becomes tighter and the only thing I want to do after work is to go home. My spare time is precious and I've become strict on how I spend it.

I can let go of events that draw attention to myself. I didn't hold birthday drinks this year as they are so ubiquitous in London. This year I'm having quality time with my dearest friends.

My friends Kim and Thomas surprised me with a fabulous night of jazz at Ronnie Scotts. It was my first time there. The place is an institution. We saw James Hunt, a wicked entertainer and his quartet. After the show we went upstairs to dance. I had a ball, kicking off the weekend with jazz.

The view from my office before my birthday weekend. The London fog was hanging so low, it looked like we were above the clouds.

The happy daffodils in our garden.

Sunshine for both days of the weekend, hurrah!

Grant and I had lunch at my favourite Japanese restaurant, Cafe Japan.

We went for a walk in Hampstead and saw THIS.

And this sad faced pup outside of the butcher.

St Stephens Trust and Hampstead Green as the sun was setting.

On Sunday I have veggie lunch with a girlfriend at Manna and enjoyed some afternoon sunshine at Primrose Hill.

Wild mushroom ragu and chestnut polenta. Wild mushrooms poured over chestnut stuffed polenta, served with seared kale, beetroot & horseradish slaw and parsnip crisps. 

I had Monday dinner at the Freemasons Arms with another girlfriend. It was the sweetest way to end my birthday celebrations. I felt very blessed to share it with my closest friends!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Warm Vegan Quinoa Salad-So Healthy It Could Undo Bad Treats

I made this for a late dinner because I scarfed down five jammie dodgers and four fat bits of pork crackling early evening and spoiled my appetite. This salad was a super tasty and healthy meal which made me feel like I hadn't had the treats at all!

I don't have quantities for the ingredients list so use your best judgement. Here's what I did to pack in as much flavour and texture in as possible. This salad can also be served cold so it's worthwhile making enough for leftovers.

Veggie stock powder
Raw apple cider vinegar
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Carrot and butternut squash chopped into small pieces
Celery sliced in diagonals
Chopped tomato (optional as I had to use it up)
Onion sliced
1 garlic glove crushed
Broccoli cut in small pieces
Kale or black cabbage chopped in 1 inch wide
Sundried tomatoes in oil finely sliced
Salt and pepper
Raw or roasted pumpkin seeds

1) Steam quinoa with veggie stock powder and water. Pour into a salad bowl when cooked.
2) Mix the carrot, butternut squash, onions, garlic with olive oil to coat and season to taste in oven until edges are lightly browned.
3) Steam the cabbage/kale and broccoli until al dente
4) When cooking is done, mix all the veggies with the quinoa with olive oil and vinegars to taste.
5) Season and serve with pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Weekend In Florence

It's the final instalment to crashing my friend's euro honeymoon. I've been to Florence before but a night there was too short. I have a fondness for this city because it's small enough to get your bearings quickly and the countryside is close. So why not return for a weekend of food debauchery and beautiful sights?

I had some time to kill before my friends showed up so I walked to the famous Pointe Vecchio. Similar to the bridge of Venice, Ponte di Rialto there only shops on the bridge sold jewellery. Further down were gelatisseries where I tried this melon gelato and got hooked since. 

It was a rainy weekend and whenever there was sunlight, we were rejoicing!

The best dish I had in florence was spaghetti and seafood. We ate twice at a restaurant not far from where we were staying, Ostaria dei Centopoveri. The food was amazing!

Blood oranges were in season so I buy them when I can. I think the red is a delightful surprise but my friends thinks it makes them look mottled and "off". They're always sweet and juicy. In the late evenings, we've had wonderful conversation around slices of orange.

Our lovely flat had a little balcony which we managed to catch some sunlight before the end of the trip. 

Our last dinner together at Ostaria dei Centopoveri. When it comes to eating, if we're on a good thing, we stick to it! 

Short And Sweet Sunday

OMG! It's Aunty Em calling. Oh hai!

My girlfriend took me to afternoon tea at The Tea Terrace.

With prosecco!

A New Routine Of Life's Little Joys

I'm settling into a new routine as the outdoors beckons. The sun has come back for spring. The flowers are out. I'm appreciating the little joys of life more.

Yesterday I took a break from my desk to sit by the window and let the sun warm my face. Just for a minute to recharge. For the first time in a long time my retinas were dazzled with natural light.

Today I went to my Saturday morning Zumba class. On the way I sat in front of the top deck of the bus and watched the street roll by. The sun was promising more light and warmth to come.

My Zumba instructor spontaneously made me demonstrate part of a track in front of the class. I can't tell you how validating it was. I've never had dance training except doing Zumba five days of the week. A lady at the gym struck a conversation with me and noted how I must love Zumba.

After the hour of exercise, I laid in the steam room until I couldn't stand the heat. Then I took a freezing cold shower. The rush and relaxation it triggers is intoxicating. My body is buzzing, I breathe better and I'm so relaxed, I can barely keep my eyes open.

I met friends in the park near Bermondsey Street. I had lemongrass tofu noodles and a Vietnamese coffee for lunch. My friend brought her frenchie who made friends with every dog in the park. The sun was hitting my face and unlike in Australia, it was a welcomed sensation.

Charity shop find: the original price sticker says EUR 70 but it's mine for £5.

Before the sun went down, Grant and I went for a walk to Hampstead. I checked out the children's books in French at Oxfam. (To help me learn the language that is.)

I made lemongrass prawn curry with rice for dinner, cleared the table in our living room and turned it into a workspace. Now I can concentrate on my laptop instead of zoning out to on the recliner or bed. The de-cluttering shall continue...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Childhood Dreams Can Still Come True

I was having dinner at The Freemasons Arms with a dear girlfriend who I've known since kindergarten. We first came to this beautiful pub five years ago and it's still one of our favorites.

We've seen ourselves through many milestones over the years. We came from humble beginnings and we always had fun. As children we used to play hookey in year 4 and shared a tree that was perfect to climb at school. We had code names for boys we liked and teachers we didn't.

In our early twenties we lived on instant noodles and worked the same telesurveying job. I lasted one day. We once shared a cheap and nasty bottle of vodka before hitting the town and I'll never drink the stuff again. We still laugh about those times.

Fast forward to now. We independently moved to north London and catch up as we always did back in Sydney.

I recalled an idea we had in the third grade when we loved Enid Blyton books. They set our first impressions of Britain. To us it was a land of quaint houses with wood burning stoves, strict boarding schools, lush magical woods and foraging heaven.

We were strolling in the playground chatting about Enid Blyton. We decided that one day we would visit her final resting place in Britain. We were excited at this idea however whimsical it was.

My friend remembered that very conversation and checked her iphone. Suddenly she had a look of disbelief on her face. "I can't believe it. Look!"

She held her phone to my face. Enid Blyton was laid to rest in Golders Green Crematorium. Unbelievable. Our homes are equidistant from there.

Isn't it a coincidence that my friend and I were drawn together by Enid Blyton's books as children and after almost thirty years, we unwittingly moved to the faraway area of where we said we'd visit one day.

So this is proof that we can still fulfil our childhood dreams. And for this one, we will!