A Country Getaway

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For four days last week, J, Noah and I took a little trip away to the country for a little family time together. The plan was to spend our precious time off in a nice, peaceful setting, enjoying nature and doing pretty much nothing. We chose a cute little cottage –Frangipani Cottage, in Berry–and from the moment we arrived, the place did not disappoint.

Breakfast provisions were provided for. Wine and a cheese platter on arrival. Picturesque views outside our door. So quiet you could hear the frogs and crickets, even during the day.

There were cows over the fences, frogs in the pond and chickens in the yard. Noah was in heaven and there was no shortage of things there to keep him occupied.

There was no internet. Very limited tv and an abundance of time on our hands to just sleep in, explore, talk, cook, eat and enjoy our beautiful surroundings.

This is a place I’d definitely be recommending to people, and if you’re on the lookout for some place quiet and idyllic to escape to, book this place as soon as you can because the cottage does get quite a few interests and bookings. The owners, Lynda and Peter, were very helpful, friendly and provided us the privacy and space we wanted during our stay–you could ask nothing more from your hosts.

I’m already dreaming of our next trip back there.

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Online Inspirations

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Isn’t that light just dreamy? And those curtains! Sigh. Unfortunately, a toddler, sticky fingers and white lace just do not go together. Image via Design Sponge

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These black brick walls from A Beautiful Mess has me swooning and drooling with envy.

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I’m obsessed with claw foot tubs and this one via The Bottom of The Ironing Basket is screaming my name.  Can someone tell me where I can get one exactly like this one.

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And these painted pumpkins from The 36th Avenue has me itching to put paint to brush on our own pumpkins  just in time for Halloween.

What’s inspired you lately?

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Bubble Bubble Pop!

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This is what’s happening at our house right now. Most nights, actually. Bubble mania. Noah’s in love with them and even after how many days of bubble blowing, bubble catching and bubble popping, he can’t seem to get enough. It makes me laugh just watching him delight in the magic of soap, water and air combined.

Now, I’m off to the shops to buy more of these bubble tubey things while they’re still on sale. At least I can count on these keeping him amused for a good hour or so.

Celebrating The Little Things

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Like turning 19 months. Being able to say “cake” and “coco”. Learning how to blow out candles. Watching his little face light up at the sight of a chocolate cake. For him. Watching him dig into it with enthusiasm and asking for more. Celebrating the little things before time gets the better of us all, and we forget that even the little things were big things to someone once.

Happy 19 months, Noah! I hope you never forget to celebrate the little things in life! x

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Labour Day…

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…turned out to be the exact opposite of the public holiday it was supposed to be. We spent most of the day at the cafe, decking out the bare white walls with creative silhuettes, painting the hideous orange in the back room chalkboard black to go with the rest of the cafe interior, and doing a general spring cleaning of the back room which we’re hoping to open up to the public, finally, for small private functions/meetings, and for small groups on weekends.

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While it’s still not 100% ready, we definitely wouldn’t have been able to get as much as we got done if it hadn’t been for our wonderful friends, who chose to sacrifice their own day off to help us work on our space. It brings an even wider smile to my face now when I walk through those front doors and see just how much it’s changed.

How did you spend your Australian Labour Day? Hope it was as fun and inspirational as ours!

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Test Kitchen

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I’ve been testing out homemade sausage rolls recipes here for the cafe. I didn’t realise how easy it was to make these much loved pastries until I actually just forced myself to do it one evening. All in all, it took about 10 minutes to put the ingredients together, and another 15 to cook them in the oven.

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I’m still not 100% happy with the “sausage” recipe, so once I perfect that, I’ll post up a recipe. Meanwhile, off to devour a few more of these beauties!

Gardening Fun

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Spring inevitably pushes people get off the couch and head outside, and it’s no different in our household. Sunny, cloudless days here in Sydney, warm (and venturing towards summer-like heat) temperatures, and sales all across garden centres in this area means that we’ve been spending most of our time (and money!) on getting the garden ready for new crops, and hoping that this time around, we’ll get some right.

Even Noah’s joined in the fun.

He’s quite taken with his new gumboots (wants to wear them just about anywhere these days) and was especially fascinated with the small group of snails he found in the garden the other morning.

How have you spent the first month of Spring?

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Dreaming of a Farm

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I’ve just finished Sally Wise’s ‘A Year on the Farm‘ and my head is now further filled with dreams of owning acres of land, growing our own fruits and vegetables, and living a slower-paced life out in the country.

I’ve never been to visit Tasmania–although I have heard of it’s beauty from a great many people–but this book and Sally’s ever-present way of capturing daily life on her farm, has me itching to book tickets to take the family to visit.

What I really enjoyed most about this book was the down-to-earth writing, the way she captures her family life and the glorious, glorious fruits and vegetables, straight from the land to her table.  Every recipe I came across, I was dying to try. Every culinary adventure she undertook, I wanted to be a part of.

And the scenery she paints in between those pages of recipes. Oh, how I wish I was there!

But for now, I’ll contend myself with testing out her wonderful recipes in the book, and trying my hand at jam making.

Wish me luck!

Bread

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If you’d asked me what my biggest fear was when it came to baking, five years ago I’d have told you it was working with yeast.

Hated the stuff.

Couldn’t make it work no matter what I tried. And after countless numbers of flat breads and ugly looking half-risen dough, I had accepted the fact that I was never going to be any kind of bread baker at all.

But while I was in Korea–and with a lack of supply of savoury bread available at the bakeries there–I decided to tackle bread baking yet again in the hopes of having something I could eat that didn’t make me feel like my tastebuds were being attacked by an army of sugar.

Cindy Mushet’s The Art & Soul of Baking was my bread baking bible while I was over there.  Covering everything from the basics of bread baking to baking in general, to creating mouth-watering pastries at home, this book got me through days snowed in days in the apartment and those bouts of homesickness I suffered simply from not being able to get my hands on some good ol’ savoury crusty bread.

This basic white loaf recipe can be adapted to almost anything you want. I’ve used it as is, or add in some favourite nuts to create more texture, or maybe even some herbs you’ve got lying around in abundance.

Ingredients (adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking)

1/2 cup warm water

1 tsp sugar

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 cup warm milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 cups bakers flour

pinch of salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

In a medium sized bowl, mix water, sugar and yeast together until blended. Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes or until the yeast is activated and foamy.

Add in the warm milk and melted butter slowly.

Add the flour and salt,  and mix with a plastic spatula for 2-3 minutes until the mixture starts coming together. Cover the dough with a tea towel or plastic wrap and  let it rest for about 20 minutes or so.

Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for about 4-7 minutes, until dough is smooth, firm and elastic.

You then need to let the dough sit and rest again in a lightly oiled tub for about 45-60 minutes, depending on how warm the area is. Make sure to cover the dough with a tea towel or plastic wrap while you wait for it to rise.

Once doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface again, press down on the dough firmly  to get rid of any air bubbles. Shape the dough to your liking and then place into a lightly oiled or buttered pan. You then need to proof (let it rise) the dough for a second time. Make sure to cover the top of the dough with a tea towel or plastic wrap yet again, and allow the dough to rise until the top of the dough has reached about 1/2-1 inch above the pan you’ve placed it in. This should take about 45-60 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 200 Degrees Celcius.

Brush the top of your dough with the lightly beaten egg and bake in the hot oven for about 30-40 minutes, until the bread is golden brown.

Take out of the oven, inhale the heavenly aroma of freshly baked bread, and dig in immediately. Sometimes happiness is nothing more than crusty bread, cheese and a cup of hot tea.

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