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Hit Me Baby One More Time: Get More Visitors to Your Blog

1) It’s not all about writing. You have to read too. You are part of a Blog Community on WordPress and as such, no blog is an island. You have to venture outside of your blog to find others with similar interests, build rapport, engage in conversation by leaving a comment. This is also helpful for getting you inspiration on what to write about.  You should find your circle in WordPress and build your clique.  You love fashion?  Find others who love fashion and subscribe.  Love food?  Plenty of foodie blogs to subscribe to and befriend.  Combine your powers.

2) If a tree falls in the woods and there’s noone around to… Yeah, you know this one. You have to publicise. Make sure you have your publicise feature turned on so whenever you blog this comes up on your Twitter, Facebook, LinkIn, Digg accounts. If you’re not subscribed to social media, this might be a good time to do it. It’s a great outlet for getting people to read your writing.

3) OK, so you hooked people and got them to click on your blog. Make your content worthwhile with catchy titles to grab interest so they actually spend some time while they’re visiting you. You have to provide something of interest to keep them coming back for more. Visuals help. So make sure you have atttractive photos and pictures to illustrate your thoughts.

4) Tag your writing. You should tag with as many relevant keywords so as to make your articles search-able.

I hope these pointers help and I wish everyone happy blogging!

Midnight in Paris

The Dendy Cinemas in Newtown is a good outlet for artsy and independent films as well as a healthy mix of blockbuster hits and guy movies thrown  in to suit the tastes of Newtownies.

The theatre space is small but comfortable and the popcorn and drinks not overpriced.  Though I must admit that the popcorn is of inferior quality with plenty un-popped ones in the bucket.

As for the feature presentation, I must thank Woody Allen or whoever the casting director is for choosing Owen Wilson for the role of the lead.  Owen Wilson as the lead definitely helped make the chick-flickishly titled ‘Midnight in Paris’ an easy sell to my boyfriend.  What’s more, Rachel McAdams, who was with Owen Wilson in the Wedding Crashers, is in the role of the fiancee of Owen Wilson’s character Gil.  In the beginning of the film I told my boyfriend to assume this was the sequel to “Wedding Crashers”.  This worked well until we got to the point with the artist/thinker/painter/director name-dropping.

The film is about Gil, Hollywood screenwriter who’s ready to give it all up to produce literary genius.  Gil is a Francophil, who’s on the left-wing of the American political spectrum whereas, his fiancée, Inez’s people are comfortably situated on the right side.  There’s already tension with Inez’s parents and Gil and what’s more Inez wants Gil to continue on doing what he’s comfortable with so they can live in that house in Malibu.  Gil is having an existential crises and he wants to leave a more substantial legacy than sure-fire Hollywood hits.

One night when Inez offers to go dancing with her friends Paul, a pseudo-intellectual, and his wife Carol, Gil declines saying he’s too drunk.  As he tries to walk back to the hotel, he gets lost.  At the strike of midnight an old Model T car picks him up and takes him to a party where he meets Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald.

The Fitzgeralds take him to meet Ernest Hemingway, who agrees to show his book to Gertrude Stein.

In his journeys to the past during the next few nights Gil has Gertrude Stein critiquing his novel and he works on making the changes she suggests.  He also meets Picasso and Picasso’s alluring mistress, Adriana, a student of couture from Bordeaux.

There are glistening and plentiful sprinkles of colourful pop culture references and cameo roles by Carla Bruni, French president Sarkozy’s wife topping this cupcake of a movie.

The major theme running throughout is that our present is never satisfying because it is all too real.  No matter when we lived, we are all a little disenchanted with our present.  Even if we did live in the Gilded age, the roaring 20’s, if that’s our reality and present we may want to take a leap back in time to say the 1890s.   At one point Adriana is taken back to the Maxim of 1890s with Gil and she states how much more exciting the 1890s are and that that’s the era she wants to live in.  Gil has a hard time understanding this, after all in the 1920s there are such pivotal figures as Bunuel, Salvador Dali, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds.  But to Adriana, that’s everyday life.

Owen Wilson in the lead is a good touch.  Instantly we have someone likable to identify with.  Sure he’s smart but he’s not a jerk about it.  As with Woody Allen’s later films, the visual ogling of the European city is plentiful and I for one felt the magic of a night in Paris right in Newtown, a spot that couldn’t be geographically and culturally further from our reference point.  Visually and intellectually the film works well.  What’s more, my boyfriend liked it and that’s success.

That Old African Feeling

There’s a fairly large African community in Newtown, though I hardly see Africans out and about, I know this because there are 3 African restaurants and 2 hair dressers and grocer’s that service the African community within a 4 km radius.

On Friday and Saturday nights, the restaurants in Newtown spring to life with belly dancing in the Lebanese, Turkish and otherwise Arabic restaurants, African drumming in African restaurants, and presumably other attractions in restaurants of more demure cultures.

When we went to African Feeling (one of the three, with Cafe Lat Dior and Kilimanjaro being the other two African cuisine locales) it was 9 pm on Saturday and we had missed the African drumming.  This may have been fortunate and I’m seeing reviews online saying that the drumming gets so loud that the enjoyment of food is noticeably diminished.

For entrees, we went on a food safari and ordered the appetiser plate with kpoff kpoff, which was like plain fried donuts, African cigars, which was spicy minced beef wrapped in flaky dough and the vegetarian triangles, which had spiced lentils with herbs wrapped in pastry.  The entrees were delicious as anything encased in dough would be.  They were nothing special or unique.  Every culture has its version of the quintessential ‘curry puff’.

For the main we had the chicken breast in coconut sauce “kuku na nazi” and the ‘lamb tangine’, which was the Moroccan spiced lamb stew with raisins. These dishes were served in wooden bowls and the portions were generous.  The spices took away from the flavour of the meat and the way they were prepared we couldn’t even tell the lamb apart from the chicken.

The service was friendly and attentive.  It was disappointing that we couldn’t sample the karkadeh, the traditional hibiscus drink of the African continent as they’d run out.  Also missing on the menu was injerah, the flat bread of Ethiopia.  Injerah is a yeast-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture. Traditionally made out of teff (a species of lovegrass indigenous to Northern Africa) flour.

African Feeling gets 4 stars out of a possible 5 for the whole experience.

Sesame Honey Lemongrasss (Ginger) Chicken

Last night I decided to make something a bit spicy and sweet.  This simple recipe for a honey sesame ginger chicken was the perfect recipe for what I was craving.  However, right now, ginger is selling at about $23 per Kilo.  Looked as I might for a small ginger stump, I was unable to find one that would just give that grated fresh ginger flavour.  I decided substituting ginger for lemongrass and using a bit of ginger powder might even improve this old recipe.

For my lemongrass, sesame, ginger, honey chicken recipe the ingredients are:

  • 500 grams of chicken thigh, cut into strips
  • Finely diced lemongrass
  • 1 Tablespoon of honey
  • 2 Tablespoons of roasted sesame
  • 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
  • Sesame oil for stir frying

Marinade the chicken thigh in lemongrass, honey, soy sauce and roasted sesame.  Then stir fry all the ingredients.  After 15-20 minutes, ready to eat.

Note: I added dried red chilis.  This made the recipe spicier and hotter than I imagined.  I will not be adding chilis again.

Old Wares in Newtown

On my side of the King Street on Newtown, towards St. Peter’s train stations, there are second-hand and retro furniture and old wares shops one after another. These shops along with an old-fashioned milk shop take you back in time. You are taken back in time until confronted by old bottles priced $5 and $6. The ‘treasures’ in these shops may be old but the prices are straight out of today’s inflated rates.

My search for a coffee table resulted in some interesting sights. There was this bench made of old bicycle tyres in front of a bicycle shop for example.

And these views from the old wares shops.

Mainly Manly


When I first arrived in Sydney in December of 2010, I was told to make use of the ferries as much as I could. The views of sailboats, the blues of the waters, greens of land they make some amazing contributions to one’s view of Sydney. Some of the scenes are straight out of Ralph Lauren commercials and couldn’t possibly be more generic preppy wholesome goodness of outdoors.

Approaching Manly Beach on the ferry I was trying to visualise what it may have been like when the first settlers gazed at the beach. The beach takes its name from the fact that Aboriginal men were seen by the first colonists on this beach and they looked ever so manly with muscly bodies and glistening skin in the sun (I may be over-visualising this).

From December 2010 – January 2011 there was an exhibition by a local artist in the Manly Art Gallery. The artist, James Guppy is renowned for his surrealist forms and has a masterful way of portraying textures.  His paintings also reflected the intense love and passion for his partner, who was the inspiration and subject of many of his works.   James Guppy is not a young man, and neither his partner.  Even in advance age, to have this sort of passionate love, it really moved me.

Some examples of James Guppy’s works are below.

Textures and Detail

Nailing down the Surf

James Guppy's Ubiquitous Orchids

The Infidel Mountain Salad

‘Gavur Dagi” Salad, or as it translates to English ‘Infidel Mountain Salad’, as ridiculous as it sounds is actually a very delicious, fresh, nutritious and detoxifying salad containing plenty of parsley, which is excellent for our detox organ, the liver.

As for the origin of the name, I can only ponder that the salad comes from the eastern region of Turkey, where Mount Ararat (in Turkish Agri Mountain)is located.  This region with the controversial mountain had plenty of Armenian residents of the Orthodox Christian faith.  As it’s customary in countries with a predominant religion, those who were not of the 99% Muslim population were ousted as the ‘Infidels’. 

Putting aside the history, the controversy, the conflicts I think everybody in Turkey unifies on the fact that this salad is delicious.  There may be different versions of the recipe but this one I’m going to give is tested and approved in Sydney by my circle of friends.  This recipe serves 6

Ingredients:

*Plenty of Parsley

*1 White Onion

*6 Tomatoes

*3 Cucumbers

*1 Capsicum

*1 Pomegrenate

*Some Crushed Walnuts

*Olive Oil

*Balsamic Vinegar

The trick to making this salad tasty is mincing the ingredients as finely as you can.  When you finely chop the fresh vegetables you’re ensuring that you unlock their full flavours and the complementing flavours can intermingle in the salad.  The chopped ingredients come together to form the uniform taste of the marvellous salad. 

Sprinkle olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dressing.

It is ironic that these different vegetables can come together to synergise in such a burst of flavour yet we as people, with similar flavours, colours and shared history still fail to be uniform in some parts of the world, not saying where I mean exactly but you get the gist.