Feb 17, 2012

Apartment Inspiration

After weeks and weeks of waking up early on Saturday mornings, dashing from inspection to inspection in the rain, filling in countless application forms and running ourselves ragged, my friend and I finally found our dream apartment. And our application was accepted Monday.

I can’t tell you how excited and relieved we were. Shrieking was involved. The apartment is beautiful – it has polished beechwood floors, THREE balconies, we each get our own bathroom, it has all the mod cons such as a dishwasher and air conditioning, it’s centrally located and even has a gym!

After getting the deposit, bond, moving arrangements and paperwork out of the way, my mind turned to decorating. I finally caved and got a Pinterest account and I am ADDICTED. Follow me on Pinterest here. I am currently suffering from inspiration overload!

♥ I want mismatched frames decorating my walls filled with art and photos

 

♥ Light filled rooms, piles of books and lots of WHITE

 

♥ I want to create unique storage solutions for my home office

 

♥ I want the world’s prettiest and most organised kitchen

 

♥ And a thriving herb garden on my balcony

 

For more apartment inspiration check out my pinboard - I’ve only just started it but will be adding a lot more in coming days!

Feb 15, 2012

Why Should You Care About Typography?

I just stumbled across this beautiful infographic on typography recently and had to share. I wish I could properly credit the designer but all I can find out is that it was created by someone who only calls themselves “Noodlor”. I would have loved to refer to this when I started out studying design – such useful tips and hints. And I love the dig at Comic Sans ;)

And then of course….

Poster by Michael Ringor

Feb 10, 2012

Cat Makeup by Paul & Joe

Firstly before you think that this is makeup FOR cats, fear not. It is merely a new cat-themed collection of makeup by French brand Paul & Joe. Brilliant! And the crazy cat lady in me is squealing with delight!

For more cat related shenanigans see:

♥ Black cat auditions, Hollywood 1961

Cats in Advertising

Cat Cafes in Japan

And while I am continuing on my crazy cat lady rant, here is a photo of my cat Bruce sniffing an Edamame bean.

Feb 8, 2012

Sweet Branding

Designing the visual identity for a sweets company would be my idea of a dream job, combining 2 of my greatest loves – design and food! Here are 2 great projects I stumbled upon recently.

CIOCCOLATO by Savvy Studio

This rebranding of Cioccolato, a pastry boutique, is colourful and fun whilst still retaining a high end feel for the store. Check out the rest of the images here

Sabadì by Happy Centro 

Beautiful packaging and logo design for chocolate company Sabadi. I love the warm colour palette and cheerful illustations. Check out the rest of the images here

 

Feb 3, 2012

Knowing when to travel – take note of the seasons!

I am constantly surprised by the amount of people who head off overseas after scoring a cheap flight or accommodation package and then complain when there are monsoonal rains/40+ degree humid weather/cyclones. Seasons regularly dictate when and where I travel and I am careful to research my destination properly so that I don’t end up spending my holiday trapped in a hotel as the heavens rain down.

The monsoon in Hanoi. Image source

I don’t want to bore you with detailing the weather conditions of every country around the world, but here are some popular destinations and tips on when to enjoy them.

Western Europe 

Western Europe can be enjoyed all year around and each season has its perks and drawbacks. My favourite time to travel to Europe is in Spring and Autumn – the weather is more temperate, the prices are moderate and there are (slightly) less tourists. Summer is a very popular time to travel as tourists enjoy the warm weather, long days and flock to the beaches – be aware of inflated prices, LONG queues to basically everything and and lots and lots of tourists. Winter can be COLD (although not as bitterly cold as Eastern Europe but more on that later) – but travelling to Europe in Winter has its perks. There is of course skiing and Christmas Markets, as well as the advantage of less tourists (so you can mingle with the locals more) and cheaper prices. But be aware of the drawbacks of shorter days, freezing temperatures and the risk of planes being grounded in blizzard conditions (learnt that the hard way).

♥ Eastern Europe 

Eastern Europe tends to be hot in summer and freezing in Winter, making autumn and spring the ideal times to explore the area. I remember sweltering in Hungary in the height of summer and nearly freezing to death in Prague in Winter (and it only gets worse the further east you go – there are scores dying in Romania and Poland as we speak). The South East is a hugely popular summer beach destination particularly around Croatia so be aware of inflated prices and lots of tourists like the rest of Europe!

♥ Northern Europe 

By far the best time to travel to Northern Europe (Scandinavia, Iceland etc) is in the summer. Yes the prices are higher and the tourists are plentiful but the weather is by far the best and those long loooooong summer days make for plenty of sightseeing and partying time. Winter is long, dark and very very cold. HOWEVER there is the added bonus of seeing the Northern Lights and doing snow related activities such as dog sledding and visiting Santa in Rovaniemi.

♥ Japan

Japan’s summer months are hot, humid and WET – I would definitely avoid travelling in this period. Winter time in Japan is cold but absolutely feasible if you dress appropriately. Spring is absolutely amazing with the blooming cherry blossom trees however the Japanese love to also experience the cherry blossoms leading to high prices, busy trains and sold out hotels. Autumn is a great time to travel with temperate weather and moderate prices.

♥ USA 

The lower half of the west coast of America (San Fran, LA etc) is fine to travel all year round but Spring and Autumn carry the added perks of mild temperatures and less crowds. Further up the coast (Seattle, Portland) the Winters are bitterly cold and dark.

Similarly the East Coast has gorgeous weather in Spring and Autumn.  New York/Boston and the rest of the North East have bitterly cold winters and hot and humid summers.

♥ South Pacific

The best time to visit most of the islands in the South Pacific is during the dry season, which is between May and October. Outside of these months you are looking at high humidity, tropical rain and the risk of cyclones.

♥ Hong Kong

Avoid Hong Kong during the summer, it’s hot and humid and STINKS. Plus the pollution seems even more oppressive. Oh and there are typhoons from September. I personally prefer travelling to Hong Kong in Winter – it’s not too cold and the air quality seems almost cleaner.

One country that I have always wanted to visit but have been put off by its vicious climate is Vietnam. It seems to be either in the grips of a summer monsoon or a winter monsoon, with freezing cold weather or sweltering heat.

If you have been to Vietnam, when did you travel? What was the weather like?

 

Jan 31, 2012

Retail Therapy

Nice things make me happy. And after 2 years of living frugally as a poor student I must admit I have gone a little shopping mad now that I have a full-time job again! Pretty dresses, cute shoes, miscellaneous baking supplies… Nothing I exactly needed but definitely things that made me smile :)

 ♥ Pussybow blouse, gingham dress, Peter Pan collar cardi and heart sweater all from ASOS

♥ Socks from ASOS, shoes from Wittner and polka dot tights from Portmans

♥ Martha Stewart cupcake holder from Victoria’s Basement, cake stand from IKEA, cake toppers from Domayne and The Scraper Mixer from Breville

Ok I am off to bury my credit card in the backyard. Moving house is pricey and I need to start giving it priority!

Jan 26, 2012

Lamingtons – Happy Australia Day!

For my international readers, the 26th of January is Australia Day – a day where we get to take the day off work and have a BBQ, or go to the Big Day Out, or in my case make lamingtons! Lamingtons are a quintessentially Australia sweet treat and I thought it would be a perfect way to celebrate the day (I was initially going to bake pavlova but New Zealand has claimed rights to it!)

The lamington has its origins back in the early 1900s and apparently were named after Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland during that period. Lord Lamington was believed to have hated the dessert that had been named in his honour, referring to them as “those bloody poofy woolly biscuits” (haha thank you Wikipedia!)

Lamingtons were traditionally made with old sponge cake that was cut up and dipped in a runny mixture of icing sugar, cocoa and milk and then rolled in desiccated coconut. An ingenious way of using up leftover cake! But let’s be honest, who has leftover cake lying around?! Certainly not me! I would have eaten it. So I did something I never do, and purchased a store-bought cake. Now before you call me a hypocrite and start the Swah-bashing, lamingtons are far easier to make using store bought/old cake as freshly baked cake crumbles and falls apart. Also, I didn’t have time to bake a sponge. So maybe I was being a little lazy too.

I thought I would “turn up the volume” (thanks Ina Garten) on these lamingtons and dip them in a ganache made of dark chocolate and cream, and then split and fill them with berry jam and whipped cream. HEAVEN.

Lamingtons
 
Prep time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 24

Ingredients
  • 1 store bought sponge cake
  • 220g dark chocolate
  • 400ml thickened cream (250ml for the ganache and 150ml for the filling)
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • ½ cup jam (strawberry, raspberry, rhubarb – whatever you like)

Instructions
  1. Using a serrated knife, cut your cake into relatively even squares (mine were around 3cm x 3cm).
  2. Transfer the squares of cake to 2 lined baking trays and let them dry out a bit whilst you get to work on the ganache (it makes your dipping and rolling job much easier).
  3. Over a double boiler or a VERY low heat, melt your chocolate into 250ml of the cream until smooth. Let this sit for around 30 mins and allow to thicker slightly.
  4. Get a big plate and sprinkle enough coconut onto it to cover the surface.
  5. Now the dipping – you might have your own technique but mine involved: skewer the square of sponge and dunk into the smooth chocolate ganache. Using a spoon in your other hand, pour spoonfuls of chocolate over and around the sponge until completely covered in chocolate. Use the skewer to life the sponge out of the chocolate bowl and let excess chocolate drip off.
  6. Plonk the chocolate covered square of cake into your plate of coconut. Using 2 forks, gently roll the cake around until completely covered in coconut. Use the forks to gently lift the lamington off the plate and back onto your lined baking tray to set.
  7. Repeat with each square of cake, replenishing the coconut on the plate whenever it runs low.
  8. Let the chocolate on the lamingtons set properly (I left mine over night but an hour should be fine) and then using a serrated knife, gently slice each lamington in half length ways.
  9. Pour your remaining cream into an electric mixer and whisk until soft peaks form.
  10. Take the lid off your first lamington and dab a small teaspoon of jam on the cut side of the bottom half. Then add a small teaspoon of whipped cream and put it’s lid back on.
  11. Repeat the process of filling each lamington (it’s much easier to spread the jam on first)

Tonight I am off to see Icelandic band Amiina play at the Sydney Festival, not an exactly Aussie thing to do but I am super excited nonetheless!

Jan 25, 2012

Cities around the world – My favourites (and the overrated)

After sitting down and having a good think in response to the question “What are your 3 favourite cities in the whole world” I think I have settled on my top 3. I am sure as soon as I have posted this I will be madly apologising to Stockholm, Melbourne and Kyoto for neglecting them. But here we go:

♥ Reykjavik

I have visited Iceland on two occasions and have spent a lot of time in Reykjavik. Why do I love this tiny city of 120,000 people? I love the locals – so friendly, helpful and fiercely proud of their heritage and culture. I love the quirky shops lining the streets, the plethora of cool bars and the locals enthusiasm on weekends for the rúntur (pub crawl). I love walking along the harbour and watching the sunset at the Sun Voyager statue. I love that it no longer costs an arm and a leg to book a bed in a hostel anymore. I love that I can get on a bus and soon arrive at numerous breathtakingly beautiful natural wonders – the Blue Lagoon, Gullfoss, Jökulsárlón. I love the awkwardly cute puffins and the small, furry Icelandic ponies. I love that when I land in Iceland my heart swells and I feel HAPPY!

♥ Tokyo

My first day in Tokyo I wasn’t sold. Maybe it was the jetlag but everything was too loud, fast and it smelt weird. Then on day 2 something just clicked and I fell head over heels for Tokyo. I love seeing the men in business suits picking up rubbish in the streets and shop owners frantically sweeping every morning (the place is so CLEAN for such a huge city). I love that despite the thousands of people swarming around stations and across crossings no one is rushing or rude. I love their respectful bowing and hearing “irasshaimase” every time I enter a store. I love their dedication and pride in their cuisine – I ate the most amazing food everyday.  I love finding a shrine in the middle of the city and temporarily escaping the hustle and bustle. I love that you can buy sexy transvestite costumes in the local department store. I love that they have cat cafes.

♥ New York

Forget the Statue of Liberty and Times Square, there is so much more to this amazing city. I love the variety of amazing food this city has to offer (the bakeries, the pizza, the bagels). I love the plethora of amazing vintage stores (seriously, Sydney is terrible for vintage shopping!) I love retreating into Central Park for a relaxing afternoon picnic. I love the nightlife – rooftop parties, hidden bars, drinks in a beauty parlour. I love that a complete stranger will tell me I have lipstick on my teeth (New Yorkers are famously direct and forth coming!) I love the mind boggling amount of art exhibitions, events and theatre that is on every night.

And the overrated…

Rome

Rome is essentially a tourist city. Wherever I turned there were hawkers trying to see me their flashing Colosseum key rings, gypsies trying to relieve me of my spare change, overpriced restaurants or a tour group blocking my path. Don’t get me wrong – the ruins scattered about the city are truly amazing and well worth a visit (after you have queued for hours). But keep your visit to Rome to a few days – see the sights and then head off elsewhere – Tuscany, Milan, Florence, the Cinque Terre… so many places to take in the culture, food and wine without the tourist hustle and bustle.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is like a large, souless, cement suburb. Avoid the Hollywood area like the plague – not only are there unsavoury types hanging around but it’s dingy and the tourist-driven tackiness is a bit overwhelming. Whilst there are some great eating spots in LA I would much prefer to spend my time up the coast in San Francisco. The only reason you need to visit LA is for Disneyland (yep I’m a kid at heart).

Frankfurt

Frankfurt, I have visited you twice and you bored the socks off me. In fact I got so bored by you I actually returned to my hotel in the early afternoon and watched TV (something I very rarely do when travelling). If you’re in Germany I strongly suggest you go north to Berlin for it’s rich and fascinating history, art scene and night life, or south to Munich for gorgeous architecture and Bavarian culture. Frankfurt is kinda like the boring cousin no one wants to hang out with.

What are your favourite cities? What let you down? Do you completely disagree with my overrated list? Let me know your thoughts and I may give those cities another chance :)

Jan 20, 2012

Pantone Colour of the Year 2012: Tangerine Tango

Loving this year’s colour as chosen by Pantone - Tangerine Tango! I am usually hesitant to wear/design with/buy orange but this softer hue is more of a coral (one of my new favourite colours) and I am definitely going to incorporate some tangerine into my life!

Sources (clockwise from top left)

♥ Kookai Dress from ASOS

♥ Orange Straws from Etsy

♥ Tangerine Tango Journal from Pantone

♥ Cupcakes in a jar from Glorious Treats

♥ Tangerine Kitchenaid Mixer from PNJ

To start off this tangerine love fest I think I’ll paint my nails tangerine and bake some citrusy tangerine tinted cupcakes.

Jan 18, 2012

Sydney Food Bloggers Picnic 2012

On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the annual Sydney Food Bloggers Picnic organised by Suze from ChocolateSuze and Helen from Grab Your Fork. I turned up knowing no one but left with lots of great new foodie friends. Hooray! After fretting over what to bake to impress my fellow food bloggers I finally settled on my ginger cupcakes with cream cheese icing. And they were a huge hit!

Upon arrival I was greeted with lots of different treats safely nestled in their Tupperware containers (and some bugs made out of lollies!)

Soon everyone had whipped out their DSLRs and were photographing like mad!

Bloggers waiting to consume the goodies… (love the red plastic cups, it was like a frat party!)

Still photographing madly… Um can we start eating yet?!

My ginger cupcake!

My cupcakes were unveiled and ready for demolishing (btw I LOVE my new cupcake carrier from Lincraft – no more squished cupcakes!)

Bacon wrapped stuff by Lateral Eating Oh yeah!

Roast Beef baguettes by VXDollface

Paella!

Simon from Simon Food Favourites made a pop up bar! Whisky and gin mmmm

Fairy bread by Sugar Puffi

Petit Fours

Pandan cupcakes by Lay’s Kitchen Explorations. I LOVED these and they have inspired me to start using more exotic flavours in my baking

Browned Butter apple pound cake by Beyond Bourke Street

Group shot by Simon from The Heart of Food (you see my head peaking out at the top haha)

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