It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hero Product : Rimmel Kate Moss Lasting Finish Matte Lipstick

I had seen an ad for this new Rimmel Kate Moss matte lippy in a magazine but couldn't find it anywhere around where we live in Germany, so was VERY excited to see it everywhere on our last trip to the USA.  I grabbed two tubes in Walgreens so I could try it, and test it against my fave MAC matte lippies.

Well, there's no real comparison.  The Kate Moss stuff is great.  It doesn't clump as much as the MAC lippy and it's about 70% cheaper than the Mac as well.  I put it on after my Boots No. 7 lip liner and it seems to last for ages.  There's still a fair bit on when it comes around to me taking my makeup off at night, after eating several meals.  Granted, if you're not spending your days with dogs or horses, and actually have to interact with people, you might want to swipe a bit more on throughout the day, but I'm thrilled with it.

I'm sure Kate had minimal input to the product, and I've never quite understood her appeal, but she's managed to get her name on a great thing here - so whip along to your Rimmel display and drop $5.50US to give it a try.

Oh, just in case you're wondering, this is NOT a paid advertisement for Rimmel and I'm not getting any freebies - I just love this product.  Though, if Rimmel is reading and want to drop me a box of goodies, I'd be more than thrilled!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Delta Airlines : The Dog Experience

You all know that we are dog lovers.  We've got Archie the Lab whom we adore, and you can pretty much bank on us patting and talking to any dog we meet.  Even the dog that I'm about to write about would have gotten a pat from me if I wasn't so concerned that my hands might veer away from it and fasten around the throat of its owner.  Here goes ...

As we were in the long line to check in at Zurich for our Delta flight to JFK, we were behind a three women with a small white dog (I'm thinking it was a Bichon) in a brand spanking new Burberry dog carrier.  I don't think the dog was terribly old and it was barking constantly throughout the whole check-in procedure.  It was also panting and appeared to be frightened.  I remember thinking "I don't think that dog's ever been in a carrier before", and said to my hubby as we walked away that I would be surprised if the dog made it to wherever it was going in one piece.

We found out where it was going after we'd boarded our flight.  It was going to JFK, and it was sitting directly behind us.  Of course.

It barked pretty much non-stop for the entire eight hour flight.  High pitched squeaking barks.  Distressed barks.  This kicked off before we'd even pushed back from the gate.  Everyone was complaining to the flight attendants and nothing was done.  Apparently they tried to have the dog offloaded before push-back, but the ground staff refused to take it.

One of the FAs said that the lady had to stop the dog barking, and the lady gave it a tranquilliser which had totally the opposite effect - it made it even more hyper.  And the barking continued.  And continued.

I went up to the galley after about two hours and asked what on earth was going on.  Understandably, Delta doesn't fly live animal cargo through June, July and August as it just gets too hot in the hold, and if your animal meets the weight guidelines, it can fly with you in the cabin instead.  This dog was the right size and weight, but had obviously never been in a dog carrier before and the staff were out of options.

Eventually, after death stares from the entire plane, the woman lifted the dog out of the carrier and put it on her lap to try and calm it, which kind of worked.  The dog didn't bark nearly as much as when it was in the carrier, but then the FAs told her that for safety reasons the dog had to go back into the carrier.  Which started the barking anew.

Wearing earplugs made absolutely no difference, and by the time we landed at JFK I had a searing headache and my whole body was taut with nerves.  We couldn't get out of the plane fast enough and basically sprinted to Customs to get away from the dog.  But then the dog arrived in Customs, we could hear it coming down the hallway, barking its head off.  And it barked for the hour that it was in the line at Customs.

So, basically, it was the flight from hell on a grotty old plane full of stressed people with a yelping dog less than a metre from my head.

If you're thinking of travelling with your animal, and it will require crating/staying in a carrier, please practice at home first.  Don't think your dog will be thrilled with being wedged in a cute little designer box for 8 hours if it's never done it before.  Dogs are fabulous and very accommodating, but I'm guessing that dog was frightened and distressed.

When we had to relocate Archie from Detroit to Germany, we did as much homework as we could so that he wouldn't be distressed.  He'd been crate trained since he was a puppy, as we knew that we would have to fly him at some point when we relocated.  I went to the vet (multiple times) to make sure he was healthy enough to cope and asked about tranquillisers, to which the vet said it can go one of several ways - your dog goes to sleep, your dog goes hyper, your dog dies.  We chose not to risk it, and as Archie was so used to the crate, he wasn't bothered at all - he just went to sleep, and then arrived perfectly happily.

So, think about your dogs welfare and do as much pre-work as you can before flying it anywhere.  And SERIOUSLY think about the welfare of every other paying passenger on a long haul flight.  Please.  Pretty please.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Airline Review : Delta Long Haul

Oh, Delta.  Where do I start?  We flew them from Zurich (ZRH) to Detroit (DTW) return last time and it was just a mess.  Check-in at ZRH was a nightmare of logistics and a game of 100 Questions (which I know is normal if you're flying to the USA, but I always grind my teeth a bit).  Don't even get me started on the dog and family that checked in before us - that'll be a whole separate post when I'm calm enough to write it.

We got good seats on the plane due to FF status, exit row in Economy which isn't vastly different to Delta Business Class leg-room wise, but the plane was old.  Really old.  And rattly and not particularly clean.  Bits of the seat were wobbling and there was no window blind, it'd been ripped off leaving jagged plastic edges - yay for safety!

But what about the inflight entertainment?  What entertainment?  Delta take all the worry about that and throw it right out the window.  There are no seat-back screens and you get the thrill of watching year old movies on big screens on the bulkheads.  Or no movies at all, and just random bits of telly.  It's like flying was 20 years ago.

The meals were okay, nothing terrible or fantastic.  You get a blanket and a pillow, but the blanket is the thinnest thing I've ever seen (slightly thicker than a tshirt), so if you feel the cold, you'll need to rug up a bit more.  I asked for a second blanket and was told there is only one per passenger (sigh), but they did manage to rustle up one for me from somewhere.

We transited through JFK - and we will NEVER do it again.  JFK was utter madness.  It was like the end of the world had been announced and no-one told us.  There was no organisation, staff weren't bothered by the chaos surrounding them, no-one took responsibility for anything, it was grotty, and there were people EVERYWHERE.

We were in the Customs line for an hour, and then in another line to re-enter the airport through security for half an hour (once you exit Customs you have to pick up your bag, exit security, then re-enter after re-checking your bag).  Then in a line to transfer to another terminal for half an hour.  Oh yes, we missed our connecting flight whilst we were in that line - SURPRISE!  Then we had to go to the counter and get on the next flight, which they only did because of FF status.  Then stand in an un-airconditioned bus on a 40c degree day for 15 minutes whilst waiting for stragglers.  Then be driven less than 300m to our plane.  Then sit on the plane for half an hour because we'd missed our departure slot, though the staff on that plane were rather lovely and very apologetic about all the delays and heat.

We finally got to DTW a few hours late and were VERY surprised to see one of our cases trundling around the carousel and the other in luggage collection office.  At least the bags had arrived, so no complaints about that.

When you add in the whole "dog experience" on the plane (I'm still shaking), it was one of the worst flights I've done.  My advice?  Avoid Delta long haul unless you know you're going to be on a newer plane.  8 hours on a cold, rattly old plane with no entertainment system is a pain in the butt, even when you've got your own book and magazines.  It's how I imagine it would be like flying Aeroflot.

UPDATE:- Since writing this, I've done another Delta flight to the USA out of Zurich and the plane was lovely and new and fabulous, so it's obviously just the luck of the draw.  The new plane had great seat back entertainment systems, with up to date movies and whole series of TV to catch up on - I started watching "Veep" and am now hooked!

Only one downside to the sparkly new entertainment system, and it's that it's a touch screen system, so you have to tap the screen to get it to function.  Anyone who thought flying long haul with a 4 year old repeatedly tapping the screen that's at your back whilst you try to sleep must have been utterly insane.  We had adults sitting behind us, but I had to turn around and give the guy the evils at one stage when his tapping turned into whacking, and got a bit seat jarring.

All in all, it was a MUCH better experience than the last time.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Recipe : Blueberry Goats Cheese Bars

Oh, Pinterest, you've done it again!  I saw this picture pop up through FoodGawker and knew that I had to try and make it.  I'm a cheesecake lover, and I'm also mad for goats cheese, so it was a no-brainer for me.  This is a dessert recipe from Bird & Cleaver, and it looks a bit complicated, but it's actually very easy and the instructions are simple to follow - I could do it, you can too!

I know all the rules say not to try cooking something new for the first time when you've got guests coming, but I was willing to risk it for this - and I'm so glad I did!  This dessert is seriously scrumptious.  It's a conversation stopper.  The only noises coming from our dinner table were "Mmmmmmm" and chewing.

As usual, my comments in italics - let's cook!

Blueberry Goats Cheese Bars


  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (we don't have graham crackers in Germany, and I had a box of chocolate digestives, so I crushed them up in a big ziploc - so yummy)
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt


  • 1 x 8oz package cream cheese, room temperature (of course, our cream cheese doesn't come in that size over here, so I used one tub of full fat and a bit of another tub of low fat to get enough)
  • 3oz goats cheese, room temperature
  • 6oz sour cream (I used low fat creme legere as I had it in the fridge already, worked fine)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (I ended up using 3 because I wasn't paying attention and dropped the white of one down the sink - oops - so it was more like 2.5 eggs)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Blueberry Syrup/Topping

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350f (180c)
  2. Combine crust ingredients
  3. Push into bottom of 9x13 pan (I used a greased 20cm springform as I was worried about getting it out, but it came out cleanly)
  4. Bake for five minutes or until crust is just set
  5. Set aside to cool
  6. Combine blueberries, sugar, water and lemon juice in small non-reactive saucepan
  7. Cook over medium heat until mixture reduces into a syrup, about five minutes
  8. Add pinch of salt, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature
  9. Strain syrup through a fine mesh sieve and separate fruit for topping (optional)
  10. Cream cheeses together in stand mixer (I used a normal mixer, life is too short, and I always find I run out of hands when I'm using a stand mixer)
  11. Scrape down sides of bowl and add sour cream and sugar
  12. Beat until well combined, 1-2 minutes
  13. Scrape down sides of bowl and add eggs, one at a time
  14. Add vanilla and salt and mix on low until incorporated
  15. Pour cheesecake filling over prepared crust and smooth out
  16. Using a spoon, drop dots of blueberry syrup over the top of the cheesecake
  17. Pull the blueberry syrup through the cheesecake batter to make a swirled pattern
  18. You can use as much or as little of the syrup as you like (I could have used more I think, I was being very cautious)
  19. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until centre is just set (our stupid old oven is not normal, so it took more like 40 minutes for me, just keep an eye on it)
  20. Remove to cooling rack and cool to room temperature before putting in fridge for at least 2-3 hours
  21. Top with reserved fruit and additional syrup and enjoy
  22. Oh, and if you've still got any syrup left over, I found that a small spoonful of it in a glass of bubbles is rather lovely!

Oh, and remember you can follow me on Pinterest so you can see all the goodies I like.  Just click the "follow me on Pinterest" button to the right of my blog screen.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Restaurant Review : The Lane Vineyard, Hahndorf, South Australia

Fortuitously, my last trip back to Adelaide managed to cover a few birthdays - my Mum, SIL Letitia and niece India.  I love being back for birthdays, or any celebration really, because we do miss out on so many with us living on the other side of the world.

I treated my Mum & Dad to a glorious lunch at The Lane Vineyard in Hahndorf on my Mum's birthday.  We'd eaten a few times at The Lane before and it's never disappointed.  It's high end dining amidst a vineyard.  You can visit for a meal (I would recommend booking), or just drop past for a wine tasting.

The menu was so lovely (as it always is), that we didn't want to miss out on anything, so each of us had two starters and a dessert, instead of a starter and a main.  We also shared a plate of their spiced almonds with a few glasses of their Lois Sparkling Blanc de Blanc to get us away.

I started with the Confit Duck Sausage with Pistachio and Poached Quince (flipping amazing!), and chased it with the Jamon, Burnt Onions, Goats Curd, Roasted Beets and Maple Syrup (swoon!).  Even though it was only two starters, I could hardly manage any dessert, but did force down a gorgeous little jar of salted caramel popcorn.

Artwork?  No, it's my glorious Jamon, Burnt Onions, Goats Curd, Roasted Beets
and Maple Syrup starter.  It tasted as amazing as it looked.

The staff are glorious and helpful, the location is so picturesque and the food is top notch.  Go and treat yourself for a special occasion, or even for no reason at all, you'll love it.

The Lane Vineyard
Ravenswood Lane
Hahndorf  SA  5245
Phone:- +61 8 8388 1250

Friday, September 6, 2013

Weight Loss?

After my last trip to Australia, I foolishly stepped on the scales in our bathroom to reveal the horrifying truth.  I was 2kg heavier than when I left home.  2kg.  That's a lot.  And it's all down to the fabulous amounts of food and drink I enjoyed with my dear family and friends when I was back visiting.

However, 2kg is not the kind of souvenir I really want to hang onto for too long, so I had to try to lose it fast, before it decided to stay permanently.

Different kinds of weight loss work for different people - some people diet, some people run, some people do juice fasts and cleanses, some people have calorie controlled meals delivered to home, some people do Weight Watchers (I've done WW and it works for me, but I needed faster results).

The quickest (and healthiest) way I've found for me to lose weight is to stop drinking alcohol and to start cleaning stables.  Yes, cleaning stables.  My lovely friend Judith has seven horses and very kindly (giggle) lets me clean her stables for a while if I need to cut some weight.  In fact, she's thrilled to let me do it!

Archie "helping" by laying in the doorway and keeping an eye on everything.

I've found this works much better in summer time when it's really hot and you can work up a sweat - let's be honest, when you're cleaning stables, the smell of sweat isn't really a consideration!

To clean four stables out properly takes me at least an hour, more like 90 minutes, and it needs to be done twice a day.  Every day of the year.  It's real physical work - scooping up poop, forking dirty bedding (heavy!), scraping the concrete with a shovel, wheeling heavy barrows to the muck heap and then restocking the stables with straw and hay.

Before I even start cleaning, I take Archie for a brisk 45 minute walk through the forest around the barn, and then he "helps" me with the cleaning.  "Wow!  He's such a good dog, he can even help with barn cleaning!"  I hear you say.  No, he doesn't - he rolls in the dirty straw, makes smiling faces at the ponies and occasionally eats some poop.  He's classy like that.

So, if you want to lose weight on the "Kristy Method", find your local barn and ask if you can clean some stables.  After they've finished laughing hysterically that anyone would want to do such a yucky job without some form of payment, they'll quickly hand you a fork and point you at the barn.  Do it, it works!  It does stink a fair bit, but us horsey people don't mind that at all.

Cleaning the barn?  It's hard work for dogs!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Joyful Fair : Beautiful, Unique, Fabulous Things

My gorgeous friend Sarah knows me so well, and knows that I adore and collect blue and white china (it is possibly an addiction - closely matched by my cake tin and cowboy boot addictions).  For my birthday she gave me some fabulous blue and white china earrings and a matching necklace from Joyful Fair in Adelaide, South Australia.  Joy from Joyful Fair sources Fair Trade products from disadvantaged communities around the world, helping to create change by providing a sustainable income to support families.

Joy doesn't have a shop front, but sells from a stall in various markets around Adelaide, and also has a fab Facebook page where you can view what unique pieces she has in stock at the time.  Her lovely pieces are made from reclaimed, upcycled, hand-made, vintage, low impact and sustainable materials.  For example, my earrings are from Cambodia, fashioned from broken china with silver forming the backing pieces.

UPDATE:- Joyful Fair will be having a stand at this years Royal Adelaide Show (gosh, I miss the Show, can someone please eat some Fairy Floss for me?).  You can find her at stand MB56 in the Ridley Pavillion, quite near the entrance.

DOUBLE UPDATE:- Joyful Fair is in the process of getting a website up and going!  You can check them out very soon right here

Joy's products are gorgeous and affordable, and not only are you purchasing something unique for yourself or a friend (smooches to you, Sarah!), you're supporting people who are much less fortunate than yourself.

If you want to find out more about Joy's glorious range of handwoven scarves, clothing, organic cottons, handbags, baskets, cards, stationary, jewellery, knitted toys, reclaimed timber products, and so much more, please check her out on Facebook (search for Joyful Fair) or contact her via email at

FYI, Joyful Fair is an endorsed Fair Trader of Australia, and a Member of the Fair Trade Association of Australia & New Zealand.  Joyful Fair also supports family sponsorship through The Cambodian Children's Fund (CCF), founded by a fellow South Aussie, Scott Neeson.  You can check CCF out by clicking on the link -