07 December 2014

Nov - A Month in Review

I nearly deleted this post a few times but thought what does it matter? You guys don't judge and there is a certain cathartic feeling of being able to share while holding some anonymity. So here goes….

This year is flying by. It seems that like everyone else, the older I get the faster the time goes past. I also realise more often how important it is to surround yourself with good people and do things that bring you happiness. Too much of the last 12 months have seen me stressed and upset. This time last year were joyous with news of me being pregnant. Though a  few short weeks later I had a miscarriage and things changed. I rode the tumultuous ups and downs in my job, took a wonderful break to the USA and came back to more craziness at work than one person should ever handle. Jumping out of that frying pan it feels I landed directly into the fire with my new role. Now the process of figuring out whether to get out or ride it out begins again. Phew. Bring on the end of the year and a new beginning I say.

But before I can do that there is the last few weeks of December to get through. I have some wonderful weekends planned. Tomorrow I am off to lunch with some lovely people connected to my last role. Next weekend we are doing holiday drinks with our friends at my place. I'm looking forward to cooking and sharing food with my nearest and dearest. The week after my Mum is over and we are doing Xmas early. I'm tossing up whether to go out for lunch or do a Xmas lunch at home. Then it is Xmas which will most probably spent with my man's family. Before we role into New Year's and 2015. Its the time of the year I enjoy the most as I get to nurture my closest friends and family by cooking and sharing great times with them all. It's homemade hampers again for Xmas so a few weeks of baking coming up.

So here's a look back at November as we slide ever closer to 2015.


Wise words. I feel like this year has been a test of my convictions. From great heights of joy to lows. I vow to live more in the moment and surround myself with people and activities that make me happy. Leaving behind those things that don't serve me any more.

Rainbows are always beautiful

Yep! Though I am trying.

Chicken Parma for Lunch.

Sunset from my balcony

Breakfast with my Man

Breakfast with my Mum 

My mum has been busy being crafty. She makes the cute Ooshka dolls to sell.

Oops tasty little gingerbread man

Bargain shopping at Camilla and Marc flash sale

Relaxing at the Baseball Park on a sunny Sunday morning

Mid week dinner and drinks with good friends

Sunset from my balcony

Obsessed with homemade ice-cream.

Hoping your December is shaping up to be fabulous.

xxx

PS A little blog milestone of 100 Posts! Woo Hoo!

06 December 2014

Homemade Icecream - Recipe

It seems that I am not the only one who has been craving the taste of creamy homemade ice-cream. Thanks to all those who have let me know that you loved the look of my recent cooking efforts. I thought I would share the recipe with you all so that you can enjoy too.



Homemade No Churn Ice Cream

  • 1 x 395g Tin Condensed Milk
  • 600ml of Thickened Cream
  • Flavourings and toppings of your choice
Pour cream and condensed milk into bowl of mix master and whip on medium until soft peaks form. Using a spatula fold in flavourings. Transfer to an airtight continuer and freeze overnight. Makes 1.2L.

Flavour Option 1 - Rum N Raisin

  • ⅓ cup of rum or bourbon
  • ½ Cup of raisins or sultanas
  • 1 Tbs of instant coffee powder dissolved in 2 Tbs of billing water
Leave raisins soaking in rum overnight or for at least 4 hours. You ant the raisins too be plump and have soaked up the liquid from the rum.

Once cream and condescend milk have been whipped, stir in raisins and coffee. Transfer to airtight container and freeze.



Flavour Option 2 - Mint Choc Chip

  • 1 x 200g Block of dark chocolate
  • 1 x 45g bar of Peppermint Crisp
Break dark chocolate into small pieces. I cut each square into quarters. Finely slice Peppermint Crisp Bar till you have a pile of shavings. Stir both through cream mixture and transfer to airtight container and freeze overnight.


Other Options

  • Fresh,  tinned or frozen fruit - swirled through
  • Honeycomb - either bought or homemade
  • Liquer - stir through a couple of Tbs of favourite liquor and add complimentary fruit
  • Chocolate ganache swirl - Make chocolate ganache and swirl through
  • Salted caramel
  • ……...

The thoughts are endless. I will keep you updated on my versions as summer continues.

Happy cooking.

xxx

20 November 2014

September & October - Fly By in Photos

Why is it every time I feel like I get things under control and I get time to relax and reenergise it all suddenly goes pear shaped and back to being busy again? I feel like that has just happened all over again. After taking a few weeks off between jobs I felt like I had time to unwind physically and mentally. I had set myself some goals around relaxation time and activities. i was happy with the way I spent my time off (though it really didn't seem long enough). Then suddenly I look around and it has been 7 weeks since I started the new job and I am just as busy and stretched as i was before! Crazy. I am sure I am not alone and nor will I ever really change this feeling in any real way as something else will always take my energy, but it seems a little crazy.

So here it is nearly the end of November and I am getting around to showing you what September and October looked like. So take a peak inside the craziness that has been my last few months before we fall headlong into the festive season.

Playing with big tractors at mum's place 

Taking out the rubbish country style

Collecting wood with mum and my man

Relaxing on the balcony

Cookies & Collins

A few days with a great girlfriend and few dance movies

A day at home watching cars & boys

Tulip Festival with my mum

Country stay with a girlfriend

Picking home grown lemons

Enjoying the view of the vineyards at lunch

Watching the weather come in from the drivers seat

Another sunset from my balcony


Brunch with friends

Mmmm obsession with Channing Tatum as Magic Mike

Model David Gandy - Another obsession for the month

Homemade Blood Orange Cake for my first day in my new job

French Bulldogs - my other obsession. I so want one for Xmas!

Lunch in the city

Glasses ready for our guests at my first Pop Up Bar event

And Summer baseball is back.

Phew I feel tired just looking back on it all. Wonderful to have some time off and enjoy some simple things - food, family, friends, country air, books and movies! Then back to busy busy events and learning a new job.

Looking forward to Xmas and more time with family and friends.

xxx

18 November 2014

Christmas Baking Begins

It is beginning to look and smell a lot like Christmas at my place. This week I started making my first test batch of gingerbread men for Christmas. I'm experimenting a little with adding different spices this year as I try to find the perfect  gingerbread recipe. 



I love cooking and baking. Taking a recipe and adding a few changes according to my tastes or availability of ingredients. I think some of my best triumphs have come from a swapping ingredients at last minute. Some of my worst disasters as well. But I love baking and sharing it with family and friends. 

I'm always thinking of my next meal or what amazing treat I can whip up. Possibly explains why some of my clothes don't fit this year. It was icecream last week and this week Xmas cookies. I also been thinking about pulled pork again. I did an amazing pulled pork shoulder in BBQ marinade for New Years last year and can't wait to do it again. 

I feel a dinner party coming on so I have a reason to cook and bake for many people.

Seems even my reading material suits this theme as currently I am reading Th Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan. A good read and one that has be nodding along with the characters as they contemplate the reasons they cook. Also makes me hungry reading about their wonderful creations too. 


Happy Baking.

Xxx

29 October 2014

Grey Skies

It's been a funny week with clear skies and hot temperatures one day and thunder storms and torrential rain the next. Bring on summer I say. I'm sick if layering my clothes and wearing bulky jackets.

Eating seafood curry laksa to keep warm!

Wishing I was sipping margaritas in the sun.

Xxx

23 September 2014

Sunshine

I am loving this bout of spring weather. The shorts are on so the legs are put soaking up the sun. I've got the book and the music. All that is missing is the cocktail.

 
I love warm weather and days spent doing nothing more taxing then deciding what to drink!

Xxx

22 September 2014

Sunset

A beautiful spring day with clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine. A great way to start the week. 

             Sunset from the balcony

Xxx

19 September 2014

Spring has sprung

Spring is in the air. Time for spring cleaning; wardrobe, life, and finances. Time for growth and reenergising. Taking out the old and bringing in the new.

This last week has been very cathartic for me. Being able to walk away from a bad work situation with my head held high has really helped. This has been the start, the catalyst for a deeper and further clearing of all things that drain me. 

I started a bit of a list of things to clear out and I have to admit to going well and feeling better.

  • Wardrobe - clearing out unwanted clothes - things that don't fit or don't suit me - gone to either a good home through eBay or charity
  • Random clutter - I have had a shelf (or two) of various bits I have been meaning to sell on eBay or get rid of. From perfume and books to DVD's and clothes. These are now online and earning me some cash. And pretty soon I will have an empty shelf
  • Credit Card - I am debt free. Yes, that credit card with its hefty interest rate is gone! Paid off in full and when I told the bank to close it off they offered me a better deal that suits my plans. I now have a new no frills credit card complete with low interest and now fees for emergencies only! (It pays to ask! My interest rate is now half of what it was and no more overdrawn fees.)
  • Bad Online Friends - you know the new that sneaked into your Facebook life without you really noticing. The ones who always post about their problems or how much the f@@@ing love science - gone. Unfriended and not missed. 
  • House - While I only live in a small place it is amazing the stuff you collect. I am currently working my way through my stuff. Culling and throwing rubbish (Do I really need papers from my 1999 business course?) Anything useful that i can't sell on eBay going to charity.
  • Fitness & Food - Yep I'm getting rid of the processed food and junk. Cutting our sugar altogether sounds like going to far to me but making more things myself works. SO the freezer and cupboard got a clean out.
  • Store Loyalty Cards - Yep like everyone else, I have heaps of them!! I even worked out a way to carry them all around by hole punching the corner and threading them through a ring. I have two of these - one for clothes  stores and one for various other places. It's time to clean them out. Figure out what ones actually get me any bonuses and what ones are just clutter in my life. Out you go.
  • Email Newsletters - yep I sign up for so many. It is normal for me to get about 100 emails a day in my personal account. And 95% of these are newsletter of some description. So it is time to cull and unsubscribe from these. I'll be keeping my favourite blog updates but do I really need to know that the shoe store I haven't bought from in 3 years is having another sale? Nope. Goodbye emails.
  • Perfection - Trying to give up my need for things to be perfect. Working on something is better than nothing and that great is awesome. Life doesn't have to be perfect. It just needs to be lived.
Spring is the time for new growth and for forming new habits. So waling with the culling above I am working on a plan on bringing news and better for me things into my life.
  • Fitness - After plenty of research and reading I have discovered that my body and body shape stores fat around my middle when under stress (that on top of the food from the USA has meant at least an extra 5kgs). Some people lose weight when stressed, I put it on. Terrible but great news to have. The best bit of this means a change to my workout style too - long extended workouts do not suit my body shape either. It's short and fast workouts that will help me shift the weight. So no more slogging away and feeling bad as I don't do it often enough. It's short workouts that get my heart pumping in bursts. Here's to a bikini body in no time!
  • Spending - with my new accounts set up and my normal account changes to a debit card this means no more spending when I don't have cash. The credit card is for emergencies and the savings are for a house deposit. So while I will not deny myself a meal out with friends, I will think twice about buying things for the sale of it. Let's go back to lay-by if I can't afford it all this week!
  • Me Time - I love reading and escaping into another world. So I am now giving myself permission to spend a couple of hours sitting on my balcony (or the couch) reading. Guilt free time for me. No need to achieve anything other than zoning out.
  • Blog - Yes, part of my me time and way to express myself is writing. I have always loved reading and writing stories. SO I am now giving myself person to spend time on my blog. Weather it be a photo, a story, a list or a cathartic (word of the week) dump of my feelings. It's ok and I give myself time to do this.
  • Goals - time to revisit the goals I set at the start of the year and keep ticking away at them. Reconfigure those that don't quite work anymore and make steps to achieve.
Now feels like a great time to for all this action. being in between jobs and having a few weeks to start new habits it sounds like the best step forward.

The other thing I love about this time of the year is that as the weather warms up the flowers bloom and animal babies are born. A time for rebirth and renewal in all forms. 

Purple Peonies - My favourite flower

A flower strewn walkway

Love this colour and style

Flowers and cake

Pink peonies

A French Flower stall - is there anything prettier?

Flowers and Lady Dior bags - what is not to love?

Happy Friday everyone!

xxx