Monday, 31 March 2014

Cafe Dreaming…..

Sometimes I wish I owned a cafe. A lovely place with a homey feel where people would come and sit, chat, relax, drink lots of coffee and eat delicious, fresh, simple food.

Actually, the truth is, I do kind of run a cafe but nothing like the one I dream of. I do cook (everything made with 100% love) for my four regular patrons and anyone else who cares to drop by. Its open 24/7 and the menu changes daily and is based on a 'what's in the fridge/pantry" at the moment. 

My cafe isn't glam, nor that clean (lots of excess food left on floor caused by my little messy customers-if you get my drift). Thankfully no health inspectors visit. It is full of love though and laughter (most of the time) and plenty of good times. 

I came across this cafe last month on Pinterest- I just love the simplicity and gorgeous white brick walls with timber shelving. The plants and vases of fresh flowers scattered throughout and those fun yellow chairs along the counter. Oh, and the pastel painted chairs along the long timber tables. I could sit in this cafe all day!

But, enough drooling-  back to my cafe…..and speaking of, I have a few little customers awaiting their daily breakfast- better go! Have a great day xxx

All images from here

Have you a favourite cafe?
Please share….

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Autumn Crumble- A Sunday Lunch Special

Its hard to believe that the first month of Autumn has almost passed us. The temperature has cooled down slightly and the days are defintely getting shorter, but the all time 'autumn is coming' sign for me of leaves turning colour on trees, just hasn't started happening where we are now living. Im guessing it will very soon, and it will probably happen overnight!

The cool change that came through this week, along with the much needed rain, has been so very much welcomed. My husband said to me mid week, "You know, rain from the east generally means good big rain"- Actually, I didnt know that- and I grew up on a farm! The things you learn. I was hoping we might get some more (can I say that without sounding greedy?). The rain seems to put smiles back on people's faces, especially those in the country, and it's so nice to see shades of green start appearing on the sides of roads and in paddocks, not to mention how happy our garden is! Now as you drive around the countryside you will start seeing more and more tractors out in the paddocks preparing the grounds for their winter crops.

During the week my very lovely, thoughtful, food loving Mother in Law gave me a bunch of rhubarb she had bought at their local farmer's market. I love that she thought of me when seeing the rhubarb and  bought it especially for me. I do love my rhubarb!

So, normally I would make my favourite rhubarb cake (see here for recipe, and please excuse the post- it is one of my first one's, so perhaps very boring looking!!!). Trust me this cake is yummy, easy and does actually look so much better in real life than in that photo- which is why I love making it.

This time though- our bunch of rhubarb was screaming….CRUMBLE!!!!

So crumble away we did…..this recipe is all about autumn fruits, with the humble rhubarb still shining through and providing a lovely stewy base for the plums and apples to bathe in. The sultanas and almonds add some respectively, juicy and crunchy bites and the crumble is what brings it all together.

Need I say anymore? A crumble can be eaten (I think) at anytime of the day, probably most favourite in our house, is leftovers for breakfast!

Rhubarb, Apple & Plum Crumble
A bunch of rhubarb, cut up into 2 cm pieces
3-4 plums, quartered and stoned
2 apples, peeled and sliced into eigths
1/4 cup castor sugar
1/4 cup water
150g butter, chilled and diced
1 2/3 cups plain flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup flaked almonds

Heat a heavy based pan over medium heat. Add the fruit, sugar and water. Reduce to a lower heat and cook for 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it and stir often so not to let it burn. The fruit should soften and cook down but still holds its shape. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 180 deg celcius.

Rub together butter, flour, brown sugar and spices until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.

Mix the sultanas and almonds in with the fruit and pour into an ovenproof dish.
Top with crumble mix and bake in oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Best served warm with delicious custard, but ice cream and/or cream would work a treat too!

Have you a favourite crumble dish?
Happy Sunday x

Friday, 28 March 2014

12/52 Weekly Stills

A week of pre school, playgroup, much needed wonderful rain, piles of washing, some baking, more rain, a trip to visit grandparents and I started working on a special project, which I will share with you once its completed.

This weeks images were taken whilst visiting my in laws who have a beautiful old home with a lovely garden. The kids had a blast playing in the garden and we were spoilt with a delicious lunch and good company. I had fun taking snapshots too.

Dont forget if you havent already, to visit the Bale Out Ball facebook page. Please like and share the page and help spread the word of supporting our Aussie Farmers. They have almost hit 5000 likes which is such a great effort!

Hope you have some fun plans for the weekend!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

What's cooking in our home this week!

It's been a busy week with lots happening in our house. We have had some hurdles to jump as well as some little sideline projects we are working on- hence no blogging for a a few days!
I'm not naturally a lunchy type person- unless it's made for me…- and Im especially bad when there is lots happening and distractions of the small people. This simple cauliflower salad is quick and easy, relatively healthy, fresh and tasty.
It was given to me recently by a good friend, Susan and since then its been getting quite a bit of midday (well mid afternoon) airtime! 

Cut your uncooked caulifower into small florets. Mix a quantity of Kewpie Mayonaisse with some wasabi (optional and to taste) in a seperate small bowl. Combine with cauliflower and place in a bowl or on a plate. Sprinkle over black and white sesame seeds. Dont worry if you don't have the black sesame seeds- I bought some at our visit to the South Melbourne Markets a few weeks ago. Up until then I just used the white sesame seeds and it was fine.

How easy is that???

Seriously yummy and can be eaten as a side salad or accompanied with your drinks and nibbles as a tapas style dish.

This past week has also seen a batch of my mother in law's amazing Tomato relish cooked up in our kitchen with a rather large bag of juicy over ripe tomatoes purchased at the markets last weekend.
Relish is a staple in our house (much like milk and bread). You can never have enough of this little jar of goodness!

And this delicious Orange and Garlic Roast Chook from the latest Home Beautiful Magazine.
Trying to enjoy the last few weeks of outdoor dining with the kids before daylight savings ends and the cooler weather sets in.

What food were you cooking up this week in your home?

Thursday, 20 March 2014

11/52 Weekly Stills

A week of much cooler weather (phew!) so we retreated to the kitchen and made a roasted carrot and almond pesto with spinach pasta and topped with roasted tomatoes. Unfortunately no pics of the final product- meal times are too crazy around here and no time to take happy snaps!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Josephine's Plum Clafoutis

A few weeks ago, I had a lovely email from a lady named Josephine. Josephine was keen to bake the Nectarine, Raspberry & Almond Cake but just wanted to double check the quantities in the recipe. I had (possibly in my sleep deprived state) made a typo and was so pleased and appreciative to have that bought to my attention. Thank you Josephine…. xxxx

Josephine emailed back a few days later to say she had baked the cake and it was a huge hit amongst friends….Hooray!. She had also baked an Apricot Clafoutis- which as I confessed to Josephine, I had heard about but never baked. I was now on a mission to bake one.

So, last weekend, we headed down to our local farmers markets and stocked up on fruit and vege. My bargain buys of the day were kilo bags of peaches, nectarines and plums for $2.50 each. The stall holder told me the plums were a tart variety- perfect for stewing or a ……clafoutis! Perfecto!!! It was mean't to be.

For those who dont know, Clafoutis (prenounced Kla-foo-tee) is a rustic looking french dessert, traditionally made with cherries (but any fruit can be used) and baked in a pancake/custard like mixture.  The recipe I used I found here. I also came across this video demonstration here which was helpful too.

The verdict- it was a lovely and pure comfort food! The plums just oozed into the baked custard and tasted so sweet. As you can see there was no time to dust icing sugar on top- actually truth is, we didn't have any in the pantry! We ate it warm with lots of custard. I will say though the mixture was more like a baked custard and not like a super thick pancake.

It was the perfect afternoon tea snack for my not very clean little artist!

Thank you again to Josephine for your lovely email- it made my day receiving it.
And thank you also for the heads up on the Clafoutis!

As the french say…Bon Appetit x

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Monday, 17 March 2014

Bale Out Ball- Helping our Aussie Farmers!

Last week on Facebook, I was invited by a friend to 'like' a page called Bale Out Ball. My immediate thought was that it was an invite to a fun night out in the country with the intention to fundraise for farmers in need of financial help. What a great idea and worthy cause! But on further reading, it was far more than that…and I think what possibly started with that idea in one small Riverina community, suddenly overnight, started spreading all over the country like an out of control bushfire. Within days, the page had two thousand likes and now just a bit over two weeks later, it has reached nearly 3,800 likes. What a great effort! Not only that, with so much support created from this page, there are now plans to help set up Bale Out Ball events all over Australia.

Bale Out Ball is the brainchild of Sarah McCaig- a farmer's wife and very busy mum to three small children. Sarah and her husband Andrew, live and run a farm 30kms north west of Coolamon in New South Wales. Andrew's family has been farming in the district for over 130 years and the McCaig family still own and run the original farm.

Being on the land themselves, they are very much in touch with the current crisis facing Australian farmers. Sarah's passion and enthusiasm to bring awareness to everyone in both city and country regarding this situation is inspiring and so typical of that great aussie bush spirit.

Sarah has been incredibly busy juggling her young family, work and farm commitments and setting up the Bale Out Ball events and liasing with lots of people interested in helping, including Aussie Helpers. But amongst all of that, she still found time to chat to me on the phone with her incredibly bubbly, friendly and energetic nature and send me the summary below of what she hopes to achieve from these community events.

So, in Sarah's words…..

Aussie farmers and their families across our entire country are experiencing one of the worst droughts seen in Australian history. Farmers  are doing it tough both financially and emotionally. They face the reality of no money, no income, no food or water for livestock and limited support from the government. There needs to be change!!!! I am just a farmer's wife and mum who is hoping by making a small contribution  to these rural communities we can make a huge difference to their lives .
In the past farming communities came together with country dances, family fun days and sporting events. There was fun, laughter and sometimes tears but everyone talked and supported each other. This no longer happens among the community. People are to caught up in modern ways and problems of today that they have forgotton the art of talking and listening. As people are not receiving the emotional support they need, depression and suicide are becoming a major part of rural Australia . I want this to change and to get communities talking, put smiles on people's faces and back the country way of life.

In the next 12 months I am asking communities all over Australia to band together and host a "BALE OUT BALL" event. These events are about farmers, their families and communities getting together, having a great time , sharing stories and showing support . A "BALE OUT BALL " event can be a BBQ , a dinner party , a long lunch , family camp out , sporting day , a ball or concert . The choice is YOURS !!!! Use what your community has and utelise it . Not every community can contribute financially but by planning some kind of get together you are showing that you care as well as providing emotional support . If any community does have the opportunity to raise money it will be donated to both farmers in drought affected areas as well as some being put back in into their own community .
In our local community we are organising a cricket day, fundraisers, a family camp out, a ball and hopefully a charity concert . These events will occur throughout the entire year and hopefully start bring communities together . Our community in the Riverina of NSW has been affected in some way by drought in the last 10 years and we do have VERY personal experiences of how tough it can be.  We are currently not drought declared but people are still struggling to get over the last drought. My husband Andrew , our 3 kids Travis , Charlie and Maisie want to use our experiences to try and help each others. I want to raise awareness of struggling farmers and try and assist them in some way so PLEASE have a "BALE OUT BALL" event it will Help to BALE Aussie farmers out of this dry spell, put a huge smile on their dial and fill their hearts with pride.

Like the saying, from little things, big things grow…..Well done to Sarah for planting the seed - putting the idea out there and spreading the word about the current hardships facing Aussie farmers. Moreso, for helping to give communities a good reason to get back together and have a laugh and know that they are all there to support each other, through the good times and the bad.

For further information on how you can help, either via a donation or by organising a community event, please contact Sarah on 0409 335448 or follow the Bale Out Ball page on facebook here for daily updates. Donations can also be made to Aussie Helpers here

All photos taken by Sarah McCaig of their property at Coolamon.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

March Love List

Some things I am loving this March…..

 The colour Indigo….forever classic, timeless and so very romantic….. (image source)

 Blue and white china (image source)- might have to go raid some antique stores!

 Indoor Greenery…..(Image source)

Back to my blue theme….Ive been eyeing off this Saint James Striped Tee
since last spring but with coming into Summer and the weeks of sweltering heat,
it got sideswiped to my wishlist for this winters wardrobe.
Available in navy/white, royal blue/white, red/white and black/white….
a good wardrobe staple for the cooler months!

I would so love to do this workshop, but motherhood duties come first…
another time perhaps. Details here.
Image- Original artwork of Lauren Merrick.

The beautiful and creative talents of Sydney stylist, Emma Duckworth. 
See Emma's blog for more details on her business, 
and you can follow her on Instagram- her photos are such a treat!
Or have a read of this great feature from Temple & Webster on her.

And finally, with cooler weather on its way, Im feeling the need to make soup and this one sounds delicious (and a smidge healthy too !)- Carrot Soup with Tahini and Crisp chickpeas

Enjoy your Thursday……

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Styling 101 Workshop with ISCD and Real Living Magazine

Last friday I headed south to Melbourne to participate in the Styling 101 Workshop run by Real Living Magazine and the International School of Colour & Design (ISCD).

It was a three hour workshop held at The Prince - a lovely boutique hotel in St Kilda. I have to say, I had an absolute ball and loved every second of this workshop. There were limited spaces (I think on memory about 40 spots only) and so the group was small. I met some lovely women all sharing a common interest, and the teams from both real Living Magazine and ISCD were so friendly and happy to chat. Can you believe the Styling Editor and National Marketing Manager for Real Living Magazine were both there and very happy to chat about their roles and anything else design related? You can imagine most of us in that room would have done anything to have their jobs- especially the Styling Editor!

So, what did I learn?
I learn't that the awful question everyone asks- What is your style?- shouldnt make you freeze up as you think to yourself your style is a combination of about twenty or so different styles. Creating your own style is about mixing everything you like all together but in a way that it flows together. So you can mix your love of boho with shabby chic or New York Glam- its how you put it together that makes or breaks it! And, as we all know, there is an art to that!

Obviously, you cant learn all the tricks of the trade in three hours- but we did cover quite a bit from learning a few of the basic golden rules of floor plans and furniture layout, choosing the right furniture to suit the mood and function of the space, developing moods and concepts and creating it with colour and texture. Also good tips on traffic flow and how much space to allow for walk through areas and seating. Heights of chairs, tables, artwork and positioning of floor rugs and finally the big word of the moment…VIGNETTES! We learn't a few tricks when it comes to clustering your pieces together whether it is a collection of art or special pieces on a sideboard.

It wasn't all about sitting back, listening and taking notes. There were two activities we had to do- putting together a mood board of all the things we love, and in a small group, we had fun making a  vignette.

The presenter and team from ISCD were fantastic, encouraging and so incredibly helpful. She spoke to us with such passion and using her experience both professionally and personally. I came home wanting to sign up to the Foundation Course (Cert IV in Design) at the ISCD. They really were an inspiring bunch!

The ticket was only $60 and included a delicious brunch, the workshop and a bag of goodies at the end. I can highly recommend these workshops to anyone interested as I felt it was exceptional value and even though, most of the information was common knowledge (to those who have an interest in interior styling), it was great reinforcement and nice to bounce ideas around both teachers and students, and keep up with current trends.

Below are some images I took on the day.

For more information on upcoming workshops and courses, contact ISCD 
or keep an eye out in Real Living Magazine.
The International School of Colour & Design offer a range of design related courses
which can be studied via distance education. All information available on the website.

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