All of us enjoy an excuse to get together and have a few drinks with the girls, but whether you are putting on cocktails or mocktails, you can cater for a girl’s night at a fraction of the price if you make your own rather than buying pre-mixed drinks.

Here are some easy and delicious drinks that you can mix in seconds and dazzle your guests with:

Champagne Cocktails: Place a sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute, add three dashes of bitters and allow to soak into the cube then pour in one measure of brandy and top up the rest of the flute with champagne.

Brandy Alexander: Fill a cocktail shaker to ¾ with ice then add one measure of brandy, one of crème de cacao, and one measure of full cream. Shake and pour liquid only over fresh ice, or serve with no ice in a martini glass.

Pina Colada: Add 4-6 cracked ice cubes to a cocktail shaker, pour in 3 measures of rum (different recipes call for different combinations of white and dark rum, but using one or the other works fine) 3 measures of coconut cream and 3 measures of pineapple juice. Shake well.

Manhattan: Stir one dash of bitters, 3 measures of whiskey and one measure of sweet vermouth over 4-6 cracked ice cubes. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass and decorate with a cherry.

And for some fun mocktails:

Virgin Mary: Pour tomato juice over 3-4 ice cubes, add a dash each of lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce (or black pepper sauce) and Tabasco (chilli) sauce, stir well and serve in a long glass with a straw and a stick of celery to garnish. This is also touted as a great hangover cure.

Cinders: Add 4 ice cubes, juice of 1 lime, ½ an orange, 150 ml pineapple juice and a few drops of bitters to a cocktail shaker. Shake well and serve with soda water or dry ginger to taste.

Muddy Puddle: Juices of ½ lemon and ½ an orange poured over ice, topped up with cola and garnished with a slice of orange and serve with a straw.

Sparkling non-alcoholic apple juice makes a great champagne substitute, try it instead of champagne in your favourite mocktail recipes, or serve it on its own in a champagne flute.

There is nothing as good as a night with your best girls and lots of laughter.  Make sure you do it often.

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You’re rushed off your feet, just arrived home form a crazy day at work, barely have time for a spritz with the deodorant, let alone a shower … and you have someone special coming for dinner.

You could do a cheat, ring the local takeaway, hope it arrives in time, or that you have time to go and collect it, plate it up nicely and shove the containers in the wardrobe so your special person doesn’t see them in the bin.

Faking a home cooked gourmet dinner, however, is easier. It is also cheaper, you don’t end up with a globulous Thai red curry sauce on your Jimmy Choo’s and there’s a good chance it will be quicker. Your special person will see that you’ve whipped it up yourself and feel even more special and you can easily fake the “oh, I’ve been working on this for ages!”

Pasta is your friend. Bow tie pasta, penne and rigatoni make a pasta meal look spectacular.

Avoid spaghetti and fettuccine, both of which have been known to cause major embarrassment at dinner parties.   You know what I mean….

Pasta takes ten minutes to cook, during which time you “create” the sauce.

Cherry or sun dried tomato, olives, smoked salmon, tinned tomato, garlic, olive oil or a small jar of cream can create the most gourmet of meals.

Smoked salmon will require some preparation (slicing – very difficult) but the rest simply come out of a jar or punnet.

A small amount of olive oil in a pan, crush a clove or two of garlic with the flat part of a knife, remove the skin and toss it in.

Stir through whatever it is you decide you want in your pasta:

  • whole cherry tomatoes, coated in garlicky olive oil,
  • sun dried tomato or smoked salmon in a creamy sauce, or
  • olives in a tomato sauce …

 The choice is yours and the only effort is the opening of a tub of cream or tin of tomato (diced, preferably). The cream or tomatoes need to be brought just to the boil and then it’s ready to serve.

They all look pretty good as they are, but a sprinkling of grated parmesan, or some torn basil leaves just finish it off.

Turn the lights off and light a few candles and your fake gourmet will not only look gourmet, but it will feel it, too!

If it still all sounds too much, contact me and let me whip you up a meal and escape without being spotted.

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Do you have a wall calendar, a work diary, a private diary, a street directory and an address book, all cluttering up your car, your desk or your kitchen?

If you don’t like missing appointments, forgetting your friends’ birthdays or getting lost, I highly recommend investing in some technology to help you organise your life. You’ll be able to throw away that bulky address book and organiser, and find your way around town without ever looking at a map.

With all the electronic gadgets around these days you are sure to find one, or three, that best suits your lifestyle.

Choosing the right gadget for you can be quite overwhelming when you first decide to digitise your life. There are smartphones, MP3 players, GPS devices, tablet computers, laptops, netbooks and portable hard drives, all of which can help in organising and simplifying your life.

If you’re not sure where to start, I suggest a smartphone is the way to go. Not only can you use it to call people, but with time, you will probably learn to depend on it for all your organisation needs.  You store all your addresses, find your way to new locations, keep all your appointments or even help you find the nearest coffee shop. AND it fits nicely into even the smallest handbag.

To choose a phone, ask your friends about what they use. Ask them about the brand, what they like about it and what they don’t. Ask about battery life, signal reception and the general ease of use.  Next, go into a shop that sells them and have a play with a few different models. Make sure that whatever you choose can be synchronised with your work and home computers, if you use them, to ensure you can keep all the information up to date.

Once you’ve bought your phone, don’t be afraid to use it. Take your time in setting it up. Read the manual, if you need to, although most include tutorials for first time users. Enter all your appointments and contact details and you’re on your way. With time, you will find more and more uses for your phone. With time, you may decide you need something more.

Your gadget journey has only just begun….

Oh, if gadgets really aren’t your thing, call me instead.  I am the best organiser you’ll ever find without an ‘on/off switch.

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Dating; the word can be enough to send shivers down a girl’s spine, leave her smiling at the thought, or quite simply have her wondering ‘where are all the single men over 30 in this town’?  Before anyone even dares to mention the words ‘gay’ or ‘married’ let us just remind ourselves that dating is a numbers game.  But is it really, or has it simply become the modern day pass time for the young single professional?

As a single girl in the city, dates have a way of finding you when you’re least expecting them.  You might be walking home from the gym, minding your own business in the city square, or chatting with a man in a gay bar – who turns out to be straight.  It’s unpredictable and that’s the confusing thing.

Despite whether we are looking for it or not, it seems there is no more certainty of a successful date with a random guy you meet on the street than there is with a carefully matched profile retrieved from a sea of men in the world of internet dating.

From dates endured listening to karaoke, or having his best mate tag along, to an evening of being sneezed on, there is never any shortage of interesting stories you can share, much to the delight of your married friends.

This fun game we play, made more challenging by the fact we know more now of what we want in a man than we did five years ago, has to be entertaining social networking at its best.

For single women over 30 there are two choices: go hunting for a man or let life sling you one by happy accident.  I think the accidental choices are more fun.

And on that note I’ll have another martini, thanks.

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Whether you like it or not, those nearest and dearest to you will insist on having children. This means that at times you’re going to be faced with kids that aren’t yours, and that you don’t necessarily want.

First up, there’s little you can do about the reproduction choices of others, so you’ve just got to accept it or become a monk on a mountain high up in Tibet.

Let’s be upfront about it. Kids are messy, noisy and interrupt conversations at the most inopportune times. BUT – they are also easily bribed and respond well to being made to feel special. You can use this knowledge to your advantage.

If you want some time to chat, eat in peace or just be left alone, your safest bet is to find out what they like and give it to them when you next meet.  You can get away with it where parents can’t.  Yes, it’s a bribe but if ever there is a time to bribe someone, this is it.

Don’t make assumptions about what kids like.  You’re bound to get it wrong.  Don’t assume all kids like to colour in just because you did, or you’ll probably have rebellion on your hands.

“I HATE colouring in!  You can’t make me do it.”

Taking the time to find out their age appropriate interests will also make you the Best Person In The World and really boosts the chance that they will do exactly what you ask them to and when you ask them to do it.

If you don’t like having kids in your own home, organise to meet your child-bearing friends elsewhere. Do some research and track down places that have an outdoor play area.  It’s a rare child that doesn’t want to get out to play on equipment they haven’t experienced before. You get peace, they get fun.  It’s a fair trade.

Here are some special tips:

  • Avoid wearing white as much as possible.
  • Large dangly jewellery has a good chance of being sucked on, by the babies and toddlers, and inadvertently caught and pulled hard by pre-schoolers and above.
  • Anything of value; financial or sentimental, is best put in a safe spot. Interstate is good.

As tempting as it sounds, avoiding children is really not the best answer, especially if you want to keep in contact with your friends.   You can tolerate them or manage them.  When you manage them you’ll find they’re not as bad as you once thought they were.

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