Sunday, July 31, 2011

Happy Birthday, Leanne

It's was Jake's mum's Birthday yesterday. 
Leanne is just lovely, and to celebrate I wanted to try out my Earl Grey icing recipe from Fleur Wood's fabulous cook book. 
It turned out perfectly; the after taste was a spritzy hint of bergamont, subtle enough to not be overbearing.
I dusted the top with icing sugar, and adorned with fresh flowers; perfect for an afternoon tea.

Happy Birthday, Leanne!

Friday, July 29, 2011

New Zealand

Last week Jake and I were away on a little impromptu trip to New Zealand. I was very excited to be heading to the cold again, but also felt a little over indulgent, as this was the second overseas adventure I had this year… and it’s only July!

That feeling was quickly sidelined, when I started to purchase new anorak coats, gloves, beanies and scarves. (I clearly needed them, and felt ripped off that I went on my last winter holiday when it was summer here – hence, no purchasing of new clothes for that trip – so I may have bought way too much, and packed double for this trip)

Our first impression when we arrived in Christchurch was, “Holy schmokes it’s cold”, our second was, “let’s go pick up the van and be on our way.”

As we set off for our scenic drive from Christchurch to Queenstown for a week in the snow fields, we were very excited. Driving through Christchurch was very sad; there were still buildings destroyed, chimneys collapsed, sections of the town cornered off for construction, and bumpy roads leading in every direction. It was very bittersweet to see so much damage, but also lovely to meet some very friendly people who loved the place, and were only just starting to rebuild their homes and lives in such a beautiful city.

The scenic drive was lovely. Along the way, we stopped in at Geraldine for some photos, a re-fuel and hot coffees, and before we knew it, we were pulled up at Lake Tekapo enjoying the picturesque landscape of a glacier lake with acid blue waters, and Snow Mountains peeking out from behind. The snow was so fresh. It looked like powder not just dusted over the mountains, but heavily plonked on top like a thick blanket. It had only snowed a few days prior to our arrival, so the snow was fresh and white without pigments of dark spots from dirt. My feet were freezing in the van, and my scarf was wrapped around my mitts the entire journey.

There were quaint little towns along the way; my favourite had three stores along the highway – a fuel station, café and a shop that stocked fresh sourdough loaves, homemade peanut butter, honey, gelato ice-cream and kitschy little home wares that wouldn’t all fit in my luggage.

Many Cookietime feasts, snow fights, loud music sing-a-longs and sleeping draped over each other moments later, and we were driving through the streets of Queenstown eagerly excited to pick up our snow hire for our first day on the slopes.

Our apartment in Queenstown was so schmick. A penthouse, hanging over the glacier lake, with boats passing by, and a scenic backdrop of the snow dusted mountains. We had heated tiles, a huge kitchen with an island bench, and so much space that I would have enjoyed my holiday enough just grazing all day and sipping coffee by the fire in the lounge room, beside the huge glass doors that opened up onto the balcony, with a marvellous view.

We did have to leave the comfort of the warmth daily though; as we ski booted up and pulled on our gloves and beanies to head up to Coronet Peak for our first day of snowboarding.

That first moment of clipping on my snowboard was quite scary. I stood up, without any practice and slid down the beginner’s slope ‘straight’, which basically means, flying down with no brakes. I will admit that I was pretty pathetic at snowboarding. I was so sore from falling over, and the palms of my hands caved in every time I lifted myself up, because they were so sore from hitting the snow. Jake on the other hand, was ace. He was flying down the big slopes after one day, and was ‘fanning’ and doing ‘snakes’ in no time. I stuck to the beginner slopes, going down slowly, and braking so much that my calves were in pain. I also became best friends with the cafeteria drinking hot cappuccino. It was lovely though; getting up daily as early as we could to drive up to the mountains (Coronet Peak and the Remarkables) glancing out of the window at the fog covered city of Queenstown as we slid on black ice and hung on for our lives.

The nights were my favourite part of Queenstown. Each night we went to a different pub or restaurant for a few drinks (sometimes more than a few) and a hearty meal with friends. We tried many of the beautiful pubs in town that served portobello mushrooms, gnocchi, sourdough bread, fried haloumi, grilled eggplant and ribs. We drank $5 drinks at Harry’s Pool Bar, and sunk many balls into the corners as we laughed the nights away, joining impromptu pub crawls, taking photos and sitting beside fires. Coffees were sipped in quaint café’s, handmade jewellery was bought, and cupcakes were consumed. We wandered around the Wharf listening to a beautiful busker playing his piano, (Katie and I were taken, and bought his cd after listening to him for many songs) and we enjoyed Starbucks moments and date nights to the movies. Queenstown was a delight, and I loved every moment of our 8 day stay.

Eating Fergburger’s daily with Katie and Kate, stopping in at lolly shops to try nougat, and having mulled wine in the afternoons; it was a lovely taste of New Zealand, leaving me wanting to go back for a longer stay.

I really enjoyed going on holidays with a bunch of people. You get to go out together and enjoy pub meals, games of pool and quick games of mini-golf with a belly full of laughs, and a surprising hole-in-one.

It was ace, and New Zealand is beautiful. Book a holiday there as soon as you can, and please, please, please stop in at Harry’s Pool Bar, Monty’s and Fergburger at least twice, bro.

*We did feel a ‘slight’ tremor on our last night stop-over in Christchurch. It was eerie, and not until we arrived back in Aus did we discover it was registered at 5.3 and was the biggest one since the devastating earthquake in February.
**I also am having withdrawals from no Cookietime.
***…and, mulled wine.
**** take me back to NZ, so I can see the snow again.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Positive Post 2

It's Positive Post time again, and lot's of things have been happening lately to bring a smile to my cheeks. 
We've been celebrating birthdays, and baking, taking day trips out of town, and doing funny photo shoots at my sister's house.  It's been a lovely few weeks, so I've listed five things that have really made me happy over the last few days.

1.  Hermit Crabs in a pet store. Jake and I nearly left with one, even though we both don't have anywhere to put a fish tank, let alone bring a pet into our life.

2. Oskar, Archie and Henry playing together so nicely and sharing. I even spotted Oskar dipping Henry's brush into the paints for him.

3. Vintage shopping with Bird. I nearly left with approximately 10 ceramic owls.

4. Reading magazines about beautiful Australian locations.

5. Baking pear tarts.

What things have been making you sit back and smile lately? A kite in the sky? A dog wearing a jumper? or a moustache on a man? 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A perfect Australian movie

Over the weekend I watched a beautiful movie, and the best part, was that it was filmed in Australia.

I really love watching Australian movies, I think that they represent our country beautifully, and Richard Gray’s, Summer Coda does, just that.

A film starring a bevy of Australian actors tells the melancholy start to Heidi’s (Rachael Taylor) journey from Nevada back to Mildura for a visit to a home and family she’s never known. As she hitchhikes along the sunburnt highway, she meets Michael (Alex Dimitriades) and after a number of misguided events she finds herself being welcomed into his home on the stunning orange groves of country Australia with an eclectic bunch of fruit pickers, who each have wonderful performances and stories to share.

What unfolds is a beautiful representation of Australian life, with the trademark humour, laidback lifestyle and approach to living in the country. She works on the farm, builds relationships with the people on the land, and tries to find closure in a life that she lived so distantly from.

I don’t want to give any details away that will ruin the story, but it is a very captivating film portraying the hardships of loss, and what can happen when you take a chance in life.

It was very refreshing to watch such a lovely movie, which had elements of home; highway signs that I actually knew the names of, flies buzzing over the fruit pickers tanned faces, flannelette shirts, and Australian money being passed over counters, with home-grown music blaring from the radio of a Ford truck.

I’m disappointed that this movie didn’t receive enough coverage; yet, Justin Bieber’s, had more hype than a 70s disco.

Images via here


Due to popular demand,

Monday, July 11, 2011

H is for Home

Soph was leaning against the caeser stone bench in her new pristine kitchen, holding a red spotty tea cup that was only filled with air; she was laughing, and telling me that I make her do ridiculous things.

“But, this is how they do it in Real Living!”

Her husband Justin was making fun of us and cackling in the hilarity of the moment that I had staged to get a good shot of her ‘acting natural’, so that I could do a blog post on their beautiful home that will house their young family and many kooky memories; like the one we just made.

“Soph, remember that time I made you hold an empty teacup in the kitchen and pretend that you were making coffees, for the sake of my blog?”

Yes. Yes I do.

Silliness aside, my sister and her husband have been living in their brand new home for a few short weeks, and it’s just lovely.

They bought their first block of land, designed their home and 12 weeks later, Voila! It was done.

Filled with occasional chairs, copious amounts of glass jars that house spices, patty cake papers, jewellery and flour, there are white frames stacked against each other housing candid shots of their wedding day, and cane baskets lining their walk in robe.

Antique hutches filled with tea cups, pots and linen tea towels stand against their un-marked walls, and timber bi-fold doors line the entire space peaking out onto the deck.

The timber boards wrap around the white house, with a rustic table, day bed, pillows and Adirondack chairs facing the mountains, next to stools covered in books, making a perfect nook for a Sunday morning coffee.

Vases with flowers are resting on hutches, tables and chairs placed sporadically around their home, and as soon as you walk inside you feel welcomed by their beautiful furnishings and open doors that show their three dogs sprawled out on the lawn.

I might just head over there this arve, for a rest on their wooden stools, as I lean over the island bench and chat to my sister as I drink a coffee that she has made me, in the red spotty tea cup… this time, not staged.

*I didn’t include the ‘staged’ photograph; it was way too funny.

Brisbane breakfasts are the new black!

While Bird and I were away for our little weekend escape to the Finders Keepers Markets, we had the pleasure of dining out in kooky little cafes, for none other than my favourite meal of the day – breakfast.

Brisbane had some beautiful little spots for early morning meals, and the places we visited were all that and a bag of bananas.

On our first morning in the big smoke, we flew in early and once we landed our feet, unpacked our bags and puckered on some fresh lip-gloss, we were walking through the bustling streets to one of our favourite places, Spoon. While there I had a hot pot of tea, with muesli and a side of yoghurt with honey. Bird enjoyed bacon and eggs (not poached; which left her a little upset) while we people watched, chatted about our weekend ahead, and looked in awe at all the beautiful oil paintings and pastel drawings from local artists on the walls.

The next morning we woke up early and headed over to West End where we visited the highly talked about Gunshop Cafe. We lined up outside and were served by a cute-as-a-button waitress with frosted pink lipstick, who seated us in rustic leather seats that looked out onto the footpath. Bird had a poached egg settle to score, so she ordered some eggs with a side of bacon and tomato, while I got to try beautiful roasted tomatoes still attached to their vine, with sourdough splashed in oil, with fetta and ricotta.

The coffee was beautiful, and the cafe was so trendy, with wooden floors, fresh flowers on the tables and retro music blaring from the roof. We sipped our hot drinks, and headed over to the Finders Keepers for our day of antique shopping and browsing crafty stalls.

On our last day, we wandered on down the road from our motel and stopped into The Villager, where we were the only ones dining at 7am, with salmon, rocket, eggs and sourdough. It was a perfect morning before we flew home after a marvellous weekend in the bright lights, big city.

Thank you, Brisbane for your beautiful early morning stop-ins, where Bird and I woke ourselves up with freshly grinded beans, crunchy sourdough, crème eggs and the colourful conversations about our exciting adventures ahead for the day.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Finders Keepers: Take Two

Last weekend my best friend, Bird and I jetsetted away for our annual winter Finders Keepers holiday; what a fabulous affair it was.

I’m not going to lie – we booked this holiday 6 months ago, and for the months leading up to the Markets, we were refreshing our Finders Keepers webpage’s, stalking their Twitter feeds, and emailing daily – correct that – hourly, to discuss beautiful letterpress prints, cupcakes on the lawn and filling our totes with all that crafty loot.

We arrived at the markets early schmearly and parked up on the lawn on a bale of hay. There were kooky girls with red hair pixie cuts sashaying around us, and cute-as-a-button café workers preparing chocolate slices, carrot cake and bags of popcorn underneath an eclectic mix of vintage glass domes with doilies.

As soon as the doors opened we sauntered in, and headed straight to the Frankie store, where I purchased some vintage pillowcases with excitement, and smelt the fresh flowers they had surrounding their stall of magazines, posters, retro clothing and a good ol’ fashioned lolly stand.

We wandered from stall to stall, purchasing jute love-heart bunting, porcelain jewellery, letterpress prints and hand-crafted ceramic owls.

Bespoke Press, again, was my favourite for the day, as I picked up a beautiful limited edition print, and some tangerine twine. I was blown away by the beautiful designs of jewellery at Erin Lightfoot’s stall, and may have left with a beautiful bangle, or two. Attia was also another favourite with their wooden rolling pins, spoons and ceramic beakers. Crayon Chick was a new edition, and certainly didn’t disappoint with her hand-crafted jute string bunting and pocket mirrors. I also loved Able and Game, where I stocked up on their quick witted cards – featuring very cool cats of course!

I loved every stall, and could sit here for hours writing about each one, but to save my hands from typer’s cramp, I’m going to draw the line in telling you all that the markets were in no doubt more fabulous than last year’s. They had new designers, and a bigger space to house all their wares. A new photo-booth was set up with random dress-ups of moustaches, hats, glasses and animal masks; while the food stalls on the lawn were bigger and better with hand-made bunting strung from the buildings to the trees, vintage fringed umbrellas popped up all over the lawn, and copious amounts of coffee stalls, cake shops and hot soups on offer for all those curled up on rugs listening to the live music.

I had a wonderful day yet again with Bird at the markets; and also with fellow ring-in Popcorn who was enjoying the day with her friend as they met us on the lawn for an afternoon cupcake.

Finders Keepers, thank you for a lovely day out with beautiful friends, I bought so many crafty delights that I will have to start saving for next year’s adventure… yesterday.