2013 seems to have flown past so quickly that it’s now the 9th of January 2014 and I still haven’t posted my wrap-up post! 2013 was a busy, exciting and sometimes stressful year. I travelled a lot – both domestically and internationally, the blog has been steadily attracting more attention and I feel my photography skills are evolving, I sold my cupcakes at a cafe and directly to customers, I gained many new freelance design clients, I produced and sold my own range of mini food and travel magazines, and I am finally getting the ball rolling on a few personal dream projects (which you will hear more about soon)!
I actually found it quite interesting to go through Google Analytics and find out what recipes my readers loved most this year, and am sharing my 5 most popular recipes:
These cupcakes are fun to make and heavenly to eat, so I am not surprised this came in as my #5 most popular recipe!
A rare healthy recipe for Love Swah, but this recipe I created was a hit with health nuts and dessert-lovers alike!
I took the humble red velvet cupcake and jazzed it up for Valentine’s Day – by icing it with white chocolate buttercream and hiding a delicious treat in the centre – a Lindt ball!
I managed to include not 1 but 2 types of alcohol in this boozy cake delight for St Patrick’s Day! Adding beer to chocolate cake may sound weird, but I honestly think it’s one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever made.
And… drumroll please… my most popular recipe for 2013? This one won by a landslide!
I did a series of Microwave Mug Cakes this year that were all really well received, but after my “breakfast in a cup” banana bread-style mug cake got featured on The Kitchn it really took off!
I hope you all have had a great start to 2014 and I look forward to sharing it with all my lovely readers. Thank you for your support!
Next week I’ll be jetting off to LA and I can’t wait! This trip has been in the works for 6 months and it’s crept up awfully fast – in fact I am suddenly begging time to slow down as I try and get work finished before I leave. Never mind, I’m super excited and hope you can share your USA tips with me too!
I’ve been to America several times before, but am always on the hunt for great restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and the weird and wonderful (for example, I plan on going on a water slide that goes through a shark tank in Vegas). I’m visiting:
♥ Los Angeles
♥ San Fransico
♥ Las Vegas (Never been)
♥ New Orleans (Never been – and we’ll be there for Halloween!)
♥ New York
So please share any suggestions you have and I’ll be eternally grateful xxx
A few months ago I was approached by JJ from 84th & 3rd to see if I wanted to design a new iPad magazine that Jackie M was launching on Malaysian food and travel. I jumped at the chance – I’ve designed several print magazines before but I’ve never created an app and was dying to learn. It was a steep learning curve, fuelled by many a Youtube video and online tutorial, but slowly and surely I became confident at navigating my way around the often-confusing InDesign DPS system and now I feel like a pro!
I was fortunate to be able to work with Jackie’s delicious recipes, JJ’s amazing food photography and a huge array of great articles to design a magazine that reflected the look and feel of Jackie’s style. I had never interacted anything using DPS before but soon enough recipes were opening and closing, videos were playing, articles were scrolling and links were working. There were many long nights and weekends spent working on this, plus a trip away and 2 bouts of sickness thrown into the mix. But we got there in the end and have created a piece of work we are all truly proud of!
After a few back and forth moments with Adobe, we submitted the app and waited with bated breath. Would it be approved to the app store? And sure enough a few days later it was! Hallelujah! Opening up Itunes and seeing something I helped create in the App Store was a great moment.
Download the magazine now and check it out for yourself! Oh and if you are interested in being a future contributor please drop JJ an email at editor (at) trulymalaysian.com
And if you have a design project you’d like to work with me on please email me :)
The lovely guys at Zinio recently contacted me and offered Love Swah readers the chance to win one of 10 one-year digital magazine subscriptions!
So who are Zinio? They are a digital magazine company with literally thousands of top magazines from around the world. You can browse and purchase subscriptions or single issues instantly from your computer or mobile device to read wherever and whenever you like – on your iPad, iPhone, Android mobile phones and tablets, laptop or desktop. This is perfect for travelling or when you want to read on-the-go, plus it’s good for the environment so everyone wins really.
They have some of my top magazine titles available including Donna Hay, Vogue and Frankie, with a huge array of food and travel magazines (always my favourite!). Enter now for your chance to win and let me know which title you would love if you won from Zinio
If you want to try Zinio out for yourself, they currently have a special on 5 Issues for $5! This deal ends July 26.
Welcome to the first competition on Love Swah! Woo! Today I am giving away 3 copies of my travel + dessert zines of your choice! And if you aren’t the lucky winner fear not, every entrant will be emailed a 20% off coupon to use in my Zine Store! Please read about my zines and MCA Zine Fair experience here and here and a lovely bit of press on my zines from Neat Eats here. This competition is open to all of my readers from around the world and ends next Friday 5th July.
My recipe zines each feature 10 mouthwatering recipes written and photographed by me with Volume 1 focusing on cupcakes, Volume 2 on cakes and cookies and Volume 3 on pies, dips, tarts and more.
My travel guides feature 2 city guides – New York and San Francisco, and an extended country guide on Iceland. All travel zines features my own photography and include a selection of accommodation from budget to high-end, sightseeing, shopping, transport and most importantly, food and drink! These zines are all A5 size and professionally printed on 128gsm satin paper in Sydney, Australia.
I love lists! My room is overflowing with notebooks filled with handwritten lists. There is nothing more satisfying then crossing something off your list which has led me to writing a “30 before 30″ list. 30 things I want to try and achieve before I hit the big THREE-OH. This means my due date to cross all these things off is 15 December 2014, giving me approximately 1.5 years.
I have tried to keep this list as realistic and attainable as possible. I want to see the seven wonders of the world, visit all 7 continents, see the Northern Lights, experience Japan during cherry blossom season, climb to Everest Base Camp… There are still *many*, mostly travel-related, items on my bucket list which might need to join a “35 before 35″ list.
Why am I publishing it online? It holds me accountable – I will be blogging about each task I complete and it’s fun to hear about me being completely petrified (hello swimming with sharks!). I want you to get involved (suggest some more ideas to me!) and I want you to help me achieve it (anyone want to sign up with me for pole dancing lessons or take a cake decorating class?)
So here we go, in no particular order. These range from the life changing to the relatively mundane.
1. Swim with the sharks (thought I’d put the most terrifying one first)
2. Shoot a gun
3. Ride a motorbike
4. Complete a 40 day yoga challenge
5. Learn a language (at least at a basic conversational level)
6. Take pole dancing lessons
7. Visit New Zealand (it’s embarrassing I still haven’t been)
8. Become a published author (even if it’s just an article in a magazine)
9. Live in mainland Europe and/or New York
10. Climb a really damn big mountain. Everest Base Camp may have to wait
11. Sell my baked goods at a cafe or market stall
12. Design and produce my own stationery line
13. Run for charity at the City2Surf
14. Go on a juice cleanse (mainly out of curiosity and because clearly I’m a masochist)
15. Gamble in Las Vegas
16. Go on a yoga retreat
17. Fund a kickstarter project
18. Adopt a rescue kitty
19. Act in a TV show or film as an extra
20. See the Grand Canyon
21. Exhibit at Finder’s Keepers Market
22. Volunteer at an animal shelter
23. Knit a scarf
24. Do a professional cake decorating class/course
25. Dye my hair a dramatically different colour
As you can see I haven’t filled in all 30 yet – please give me your suggestions or share with me your own lists! And please no bungee jumping or ill-conceived tattoo requests ;)
Want to start your own list? I have friends writing their own “33 before 33″ and “40 before 40″ lists so please comment and share your ideas and goals!
A huge thank you to everyone who came down to visit JJ & I at the MCA Zine Fair on Sunday. It was a busy, exhausting and fun day and I can’t wait to do it all again next year (am I mad?!)
I still have copies leftover and I know a lot of out-of-towners were keen to get their hands on some. I have created an online store where you can purchase the zines and they will be available in an e-book format shortly too.
We were really impressed with our print job from EW Lee and it was great to see all our hard work eventuate into a printed and bound copy.
Here is our table all set up at the fair!
And here we are :)
I will be adding more to the store in coming weeks, I’ll keep you posted!
I recently made a batch of cupcakes for a 30th birthday party and adorned the Pineapple and Coconut Cupcakes with pineapple flowers, an idea I saw Martha Stewart once do. I received several questions on how to make these so I thought I would share the technique, as well as some other easy ideas for decorating desserts.
1. Pre-heat oven to 110°C and line 3 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
2. Thinly slice a pineapple (or split pineapple rings in 3 horizontally) and arrange rings on the baking trays.
3. Bake for 30 mins, then turn and cook for another 30 mins.
4. Transfer rings to a muffin tin to cool so they curl upwards and form the shape of a flower.
And now for some other decorating techniques:
♥ Sugar Art
A lot of great sugar decorating options are now becoming available in supermarkets and specialty stores. My absolute favourites are the sugar buttons from Donna Hay. Cheaper options from the supermarket include silver cachous, little pink flowers and they often have seasonal decorations like these cute Christmas-themed ones I found.
Fruit is a simple, colourful and healthy way to decorate your desserts. Berries are always an easy and delicious way to jazz up a dessert. Or try contrasting colours and textures such as kiwi and passionfruit. Get a little creative and top chili-chocolate cupcakes with a chili ganache and small chili, or turn strawberries into Santa hats for a Christmas treat!
♥ Toppers, nuts and more
Purchase some cupcake toppers from a homewares store (or make your own… more on that in another post!), or get creative and make a birds nest out of chocolate and crunchy noodles and top with an Easter egg for an Easter-themed cupcake. Otherwise, nuts make a delicious and crunchy decoration, either spread across the sides of a cake or on top.
I have been collecting numerous decorating inspiration on my Pinterest Board. Some new tricks I am dying to try out:
♥ Cookie Stamping
I hope this has given you some more ideas for decorating your own desserts!
If you wonder why I have been so busy lately, slaving away on weekends and nights instead of doing fun things such as eating and drinking, well I’ve been madly working my butt off on writing and designing a series of zines! I have completed 2 dessert zines – filled with my delicious recipes and photos of cupcakes, slices, cakes and more, as well as 3 travel zines on New York, San Francisco and Iceland. I am hoping to complete a 4th travel zine on Vietnam however a recent bout of sickness has set back a few days so I’ll keep you posted.
I am thrilled to be sharing a table this year with the wonderful JJ from the food blog 84th & 3rd, so make sure you check out her work too! For those who aren’t familiar with what the MCA Zine Fair is, firstly check out my review of last year’s Zine Fair. Zines are limited-run publications that are usually handmade and self-published and are on nearly every topic your imagination can think of. It’s a fun day of creativity, shopping and mingling with creatives. What more could you want?
Here are some excerpts from my zines, firstly the dessert zines volumes 1 and 2.
Please come visit me, bring coffee and possibly buy a zine (a girl’s gotta pay her rent) – I will have bribery cupcakes! Can’t make it? That’s ok. They will be available in my online shop (coming soon) and I’ll be releasing them as ebooks too!
I got a huge response from readers from a new gluten and dairy-free Nutella recipe I shared on Instagram and Facebook (recipe up next week) and it got me thinking what other types of recipes my readers were keen to see. If you could spare a minute to fill in my poll it would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you xx
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