Fake free range eggs

A new augmented reality app came to my attention recently, CHOICE’s CluckAR. The idea behind CluckAR is to help conscientious consumers find genuine free range eggs because the packaging of some free range eggs is misleading. In Australia egg producers can have 10,000 hens per hectare and still advertise their eggs as being free range. Not only can they have thousands of hens crammed into one hectare, there is no requirement for the hens to spend time outside as per the free range standard signed off by the Australian consumer affairs minister.

I love eggs and so does Hubby. We started buying free range eggs several years ago but I was surprised to read that not all free range eggs are created equal. Call me naive but I trusted those claims of free range on the packaging. Anyway, CluckAR to the rescue! I can now scan the egg carton in the supermarket and if the rating is poor then the carton goes back on the shelf, if the rating is good I take a screenshot for future reference and it is also possible to use the app and pin the location of the store selling genuine free range eggs on a map which can be viewed by other users of the app.

Below are the results from tests on cartons I had at home, I know which ones I won’t be purchasing again.

Manning Valley Free Range Eggs
Manning Valley Free Range Eggs
Sunny Queens Free Range Eggs
Sunny Queen Free Range Eggs, available at Woolworths and Coles
Aldi Free Range Eggs
Aldi Free Range Eggs
McLean's Run Free Range Eggs
McLean’s Run Free Range Eggs, available at Woolworths

 

47 sleeps ’til Christmas

Hard to believe that the year is almost over and that Christmas is looming. It has been such a busy year and so far the forecast for next year is not alot different, plenty to do and plenty of change. I love Christmas, I hate all of the rushing around and stress that it brings however all the worry tends to dissipate on Christmas Day when family and friends are together. My cousin N also loves Christmas, while I tend to be a bit of a minimalist N goes all out decorating her home and tree so when she came to stay recently a visit to the local Christmas Shop was a must.

The Christmas Shop is more like a warehouse, baubles, trees and lights adorn every inch of space and if you’re after santa suits or elf costumes there are plenty to choose from as well. Being the crazy dog lady that I am, the reindeer antlers for Maxi and Bundy were the first things that landed in my shopping basket. You have to admit, as embarrassed as our two black dogs appear, they really do look cute and the photos will look great on our family Christmas card :-). Our two black dogs always get presents from Santa, I even bought them stockings to put the presents in although Maxi won’t be getting any delicious treats this year, the last thing we want is for her to end up in hospital again.

It is too early to set up the Christmas tree, we always put it up on December 1st and then spend a weekend hanging up Christmas lights in our backyard. At the moment it is hard to imagine our yard decorated with lights, the heat and dry winds has turned our lawn brown and there are a few odd jobs around the house that are best done in the cool of the evening. I’ve always wondered what a white Christmas would be like, it certainly seems more festive when you see images of the Christmas markets in Europe and watch Christmas movies that are set in cooler climates.

How do you prepare for the festive season? Do you inflict costumes on your pets and buy them presents?

Snapshots of a quick trip to Sydney

Flying into Sydney felt like coming home. Fourteen years have passed by since my time in Sydney but everything is still so familiar. I was in Sydney for two nights for work reasons yet lucky enough to score some extra time in the city for shopping and catching up with a dear friend. Sydney Harbour is a fabulous spot for people watching, the many cafes and bars provide the perfect reason to stop awhile and enjoy the view.

Pitt Street mall is shopping heaven, new shoes and perfectly fitting black pants are easy to come by as is delicious Thai food at Assamm under the Queen Victoria Building. Many shops have Christmas decorations on display, the most wonderful of them all vein the Swarovski Christmas tree decorated with beautiful, sparkling crystals.

Leaving Sydney makes me a little sad, it has been so much fun shopping and sightseeing with my dear friend J and I love being in the city. An electrical storm hit Sydney airport on the way home, delaying the flight somewhat and giving me time to share these snapshots with you.

Have a great weekend!

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Melbourne by iPhone

Artwork by RMIT students
Artwork by RMIT students

With only a couple of days in Melbourne and very little free time to explore I focused on a couple of activities that could be squeezed in around attending a conference and the associated functions. Being in Melbourne makes my heart happy, here I can experience the true four seasons and make good use of my black coats, the quality and variety of wonderful places to eat makes dining out an experience and the shopping offers up products quite different to what is available on the coast. This was only my second visit to Melbourne, and I was travelling with two food focused colleagues so you can pretty much guess that we ate well when not provided with meals at the conference, lunching at Guy Grossi’s Grossi Florentino Cellar Bar and dining at the French restaurant Bistro Vue one evening.

The conference provided us with the opportunity to explore the lane ways of Melbourne though a guided walking tour of the city’s street art, the guide from Melbourne Walks was extremely knowledgeable and I would happily sign up for another walking tour. The conference dinner was held at Zinc in Federation Square, a finger food affair with plenty of alcohol flowing and the ambience created by RMIT’s (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) talented art students. When not at conference sessions and events I was making the most of my time to visit Queen Victoria Markets where the taste testing and purchasing of Koko Black chocolates was conducted, these tiny little chocolates in the form of champagne truffles, salted caramel and Raspberry Ganache were absolutely delicious, one small chocolate enough to satisfy any cravings but to ensure that later cravings were catered for, I bought half a dozen different flavours. The nearby Christmas shop is a must for visitors at this time of year, elves of all shapes and sizes plus the shop in set up so that each room has a particular colour and/or theme, for a white Christmas the room filled with silver and white decorations is perfect and the traditional red, green and gold room is filled to the brim with delightful ornaments and nativity scenes.

Architecture in Melbourne is quite different to the coast, here buildings are knocked down without alot of thought for their heritage and iconic value because our council loves the look of a skyline filled with highrise buildings towering over the beach and if a house stands still long enough, eventually it will be rendered with concrete and made to look like so many other homes – apologies for the rant, I’ll stop now. Melbourne is a mix of the old and the new, beautiful old buildings such as Flinders Street Station stand opposite the funky and modern Federation Square. RMIT buildings also throw modern architecture into the mix, several of their buildings being quite unusual and whether you love them or hate them, they definitely capture your attention. Walking along busy streets and through narrow lane ways leads to some delightful finds, paper shops and English style pubs, a book shop where everything is $10, the Hopetoun Tea Rooms and Chokolait among my favourite finds.

Next year I’ll be heading back to Melbourne, with a little bit more time on my hands I plan on exploring other parts of Melbourne however I will return to a couple of my favourite places even if it is only to browse the menu or purchase a chocolate (or two).

A weekend trip to the ‘big smoke’

There were many reasons to head down to the ‘big smoke’, as my husband jokingly calls Sydney, but the most important one was to attend the baby shower of my brother’s girlfriend. My brother and his girlfriend are expecting their first baby, this baby is also the first (human) grand child for my parents so on Friday, armed with gifts for the soon-to-be parents, I boarded the plane to Sydney.

Vivid 2012 is a light festival of sorts, you may have already seen photos on This Sydney Life, imagine my delight when my brother’s girlfriend arranged for me to meet her and another friend at Circular Quay to check out it out on Friday night. Of course the area was jam-packed with people wanting to see the installations, the weather was perfect for such an event and this was the last weekend of Vivid. Moving at the pace of a baby learning to crawl we walked from the train station around to the Rocks, stopping regularly to take photos and just admire the show. Light and music combined to create an awesome display on Custom House and the Museum of Contemporary Art whilst the Opera House had slow moving images projected onto the surface of the sails, serious photographers lined the water’s edge with their tripods with the aim of capturing the perfect night time shot. Dinner was from a stall at the night markets, the choice of food was huge and varied from corn on the cob, sweet potato chips, pad thai, paella and organic hamburgers to dutch pancakes, gelato and cannoli. The seafood paella was scrumptious, we squeezed fresh lemon over the dish and looked for a place where we could sit, relax and enjoy the meal.

The baby shower was on Saturday, a fun time was had by all and of course there was plenty of yummy food to snack on, not to mention cakes and apple crumble pie for dessert. Games are always on the agenda at a baby shower, over the years I have played a few different ones but never have I performed so poorly at a task than on Saturday when as part of ‘pass the parcel’ I was required to sing a nursery rhyme. Even with assistance I could barely get out more than a couple of lines and I’m pretty sure that I even stuffed that up, someone suggested a buy a book of nursery rhymes however I’ll probably just end up googling them instead.

While in Sydney it seemed a shame not to go shopping with one of my dearest friends Jo, when I lived in Sydney it was a popular past time of ours and we often combined shopping with a visit to David Jones Food Hall, the Rocks Markets and a gallery or two. The plan was to meet up with Jo on the Sunday, the weather was looking bleak, it was a good idea to stay indoors and thankfully many of the shops in the Pitt Street Mall and Queen Victoria Building are linked and rarely require you to venture outside. Much money was saved shopping in the sales, my objective was to find new shoes, shirts and a handbag for work and I did just that, saving $100-$150 in the process which is pretty good by anyone’s standards. Lunch was in an asian kitchen/laksa house, we assumed that the number of asian people eating there was a good sign and certainly we found both the seafood and chicken laksa to be more than satisfactory. A hot chocolate mid-afternoon sustained us until we had to head home, shopping bags aplenty and a box of cupcakes in hand we joined the throng of people underground, said our goodbyes and caught the train home. With the rain pouring down and the temperature plummeting as night fell, walking into my brother’s home and smelling the heavenly scent of roast lamb and potato bake cooking in the oven was the perfect end to a wonderful weekend.

Upcoming arty farty, foodie and shopping extravaganza

In a couple of weeks I’ll be heading off to Melbourne for a long weekend of shopping, eating and visiting art galleries with one of my dearest friends Jo. One of the first stops will be a chocolate shop/cafe called Chokolait which I’m told serves the most divine hot chocolate, Greek and Italian dining is apparently excellent as well and I’m really looking forward to eating Greek food again, Greek restaurants a few and far between where I live. Shopping in Melbourne is supposed to be the best, better than any other Australian city anyway and Jo has suggested hitting the factory outlets as well as checking out Chapel Street and other areas of interest.

We’ll be staying somewhere in Bourke Street, central to most of the activities that we have in mind. Federation Square, home the National Gallery of Victory and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image is not too far away, also reasonably close is the Arts Centre at Southbank on the Yarra River, another destination on the list of things to do and see. Of course I will be taking my camera, I rarely go anywhere without it and having never been to Melbourne it will be hard for me to resist snapping pictures of everything we see and eat.

It has been several years since we caught up with each other and that was in Sydney and during that visit Jo and I hopped on a ferry and crossed the harbour to visit Taronga zoo, in the afternoon we drank at a pub in Woolloomooloo and wandered around the Gallery of NSW. They are places I’ve been before, having lived in Sydney for a few years but I still took lots of photos, none of the food though which is highly unusual. Jo lives near a National Park, when you dine on her balcony it is often in the company of Rainbow Lorikeets, Cockatoos and other native birds.

Rainbow Lorikeets
Rainbow Lorikeets
Darling Harbour Fountain
Darling Harbour Fountain
Sydney Ferry with Harbour Bridge in background
Sydney Ferry with Harbour Bridge in background

I’m really excited about this upcoming trip, Jo is my arty, farty foodie friend and shopping is always on the menu, this trip we’ll both be able to do some Christmas shopping as well as buy some pretty things for ourselves đŸ™‚