Ah the humble choc chip cookie. So popular, yet often done so badly. This recipe I use is the best one I have found – the high ratio of brown sugar ensures the cookies are chewy in the middle and crunchy on the outside.
But beware these cookies like to spread when they bake! The first time I made it everything morphed into 1 UBER COOKIE which was wonderful and all, but not a great idea for portion control. To avoid uber-cookie problems, I suggest spooning 5 tablespoon size balls onto each baking sheet.
- 140g butter (room temperature)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 egg (room temperature)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ cups plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 250g chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 170°C. Cream the butter and sugars for at least 5 minutes until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well.
- Add choc chips, flour, baking soda and baking powder. Beat on low speed until just combined (don’t overwork the mixture or it can become tough).
- Dollop tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough onto lined baking trays. I usually put 5 cookies on each of my 4 trays as these babies spread.
- Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, around 12-14 minutes.
We all have some form of travel bucket list, even if only in our minds. I absolutely love writing lists and then crossing things off (I have notebooks filled with actioned lists, it is so satisfying!) and decided writing down some travel dreams were a good way of keeping oneself accountable and to give me something to work towards. Naturally I want to visit nearly every place on this earth, so as not to bore you, here are some highlights of my list.
♥ See the midnight sun rolling over the horizon in Nordkapp, Norway
I actually tried to see this back in June 2007. However the weather had other ideas and I soon found myself in blizzard conditions (in the middle of summer! Humf!)
What I was meant to see (Image source)
What I actually saw – ripped off!
♥ Visit Lake Bled in Slovenia
Breathtakingly beautiful, I cannot wait to see Lake Bled for myself and explore Slovenia.
♥ Go on a yoga retreat somewhere, anywhere.
I’ve been practicing yoga for several years now and would love to escape for a few weeks on a yoga retreat to focus on myself and my practice.
♥ Explore the Balkans
I have seen a LOT of Europe, however I am yet to visit this part of Europe including Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania etc.
♥ Visit China and see sights such as the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Warriors and the Forbidden City
♥ See the Northern Lights in Iceland
Both times I have been to Iceland were in the summer, when the Northern Lights aren’t visible. Next time!
♥ Stay overnight in a Buddhist temple on Mount Koya in Japan
Staying in a temple alongside Buddhist monks sounds like an amazing experience.
♥ Visit the salt flats of Bolivia
I am yet to set foot in South America, there are so many sights to see and the salt flats of Bolivia is high up there!
♥ Visit Greenland
I am so fascinated by this isolated and gorgeous country and its people.
This list could go on and on but this is just a taster of what I hope to experience sometime in the (hopefully) near future. Now I just need to win the lottery and clear my schedule for next year! ;)
What is on your travel bucket list?
If I was in advertising, I would probably just constantly make ads featuring cats. Because who doesn’t love cats? (Actually I am aware there are a lot of people out there who hate cats. I just pretend you don’t exist).
First up we have the gorgeous IKEA Cats ad. Beautifully shot and heart warming, I am honestly surprised they didn’t have an all out kitty brawl in their store.
Next up is possibly one my favourite ads. Ever. From Japan! This is business cat. A rough translation is: “I’m Niyaran. Today big profits are a hard task. (while looking at computer) It’s grown! (profits are up!). Tagline: Profitable: Hotel Yakumo.”
And finally an ad from France. Kittens! Everywhere! There is so much attention to detail in this ad, they even have kitty weight loss ads on the side of the taxi! As a crazy cat lady it truly warms my heart.
The only bit of advertising my cat has done lately is promoting the Dexter book. She really likes Michael C Hall.
A group of friends and I recently went to Orange for a weekend of nice wine, food and chats. It’s around a 4 hour drive from Sydney and yes, you do have to stop on the way and eat McDonalds (the only time I permit such a thing!) We arrived late on a Friday night to be graciously met with cheese and wine by our lovely friend Kat. Soon our tiredness got the best of us and we turned in for a good night’s sleep in preparation for lots of eating and drinking tomorrow.
We piled into 2 cars the next morning and set off for brunch at Tonic in Millthorpe, a 20 minute drive from Orange.
Tonic is located at 30 Victoria St, Millthorpe NSW 2798. The coffee was great and the range of foods tasted was delicious. Since I can never make up my mind I chose the sweetcorn cakes and pizza and shared with a friend.
Sweetcorn cakes with mascarpone and prosciutto, $16
Ham, bocconcini, egg and pesto pizza with rocket and parmesan salad, $16
Then we set off to explore Milthorpe. First stop, Galvanised (17 Pym Street, Millthorpe), a converted century old galvanised iron shed that sells everything from homewares and lollies to birdcages and coffee supplies.
The boys preferred eating their sherbert they bought from Galvanised instead of our next stop, the antique store!
Peppertree (23 Pym Street, Millthorpe) had a lovely assortment of antiques, homewares and modern furniture. I had my eyes on this pink and white floral tea set.
Our next stop on our tour of Millthorpe was Tomolly (7 Blake Street, Millthorpe), a store filled with cute gifts, homewares and stationery. The owner was lovely and very excited I was featuring her store on my blog!
It was well into the afternoon now and therefore a suitable time to commence wine tastings! Our first winery was Mayfield Vineyard (954 Icely Road, Orange NSW 2800).
Now, I am no wine expert so don’t expect me to go on about the heady aromas and nuances of blackberry or whatever. But the wine was tasty and affordable, the lady extremely friendly and helpful and we purchased quite a few bottles.
We returned to “downtown Orange” for some coffee and yet more shopping at Hawkes General Store (46 Sale St, Orange). The store was filled with gorgeous homewares and gifts. I loved the Paris gift tags.
Back in the car, we head off to another vineyard – the Philip Shaw vineyard (45 Caldwell Lane, Orange NSW). The views of vineyards on the way there were superb.
Philip Shaw has produced a line of wines called “The Character Series” with titles such as The Dreamer Viognier and The Wire Walker Pinot Noir. I adored the illustrations on each bottle.
The vineyard also had a lovely dog who wanted to play ball!
Our third and final vineyard for the day was Hedberg Hill (701 The Escort Way (Forbes Road), Orange). This vineyard had come highly recommended by my father who is quite a wine buff and personal friend of the owner, Peter Hedberg. We were greeted by more beautiful scenic views of vineyards on the way there.
Peter was a lovely host and we learned (and tasted) a lot. His Riesling and Viognier were delicious! We ended up buying about 3 cases of wine I think! Ooops…
The views from his cellar door was breathtaking, particularly as the sun started to set and cast a yellow glow over the landscape.
Then it was home time for a power nap before dinner!
We went to Bistro Ceello (179 Anson Street, Orange). The food was delicious, the service unfortunately not great. I think we must have gotten the new girl as she made quite a few rookie mistakes – not knowing what the specials were, failing to change glasses between wines, pouring the champagne into a wine glass (!!) etc etc. Nothing to ruin our evening but anyway… Here are a few samples of what was eaten.
House cured ocean trout gravlax, potato pancake, cucumber spaghetti and dill cream, $20 entree
Venison shank sausage, parmesan pudding, roasted tomato and balsamic reduction, $20 entree
Twice cooked pork belly, roasted root vegetables and fennel mustard, $32 main – I swear I could eat this everyday.
Beef sirloin, caponata, creamy polenta with veal jus, $32 main
We were all completely stuffed to the gills, but you know I am never one to miss dessert! We settled on 2 tasting plates and shared them.
Dessert tasting plate featuring lemon cheesecake, nougat ice-cream and choc cake terrine, frangelico panna cotta and steamed marmalade pudding, $30
The next morning we arose and cooked 1kg of bacon. I do not have a photograph of this as we don’t need a reminder. Oh god.
Then we drove off to Totally Local (426 Mitchell Highway, Orange) in search of MORE food. It has an amazing array of locally produced honey, cheese, olive oil and more.
And then we sadly bid adieu to Orange and started the 4 hour drive back to Sydney. What a lovely weekend away!
I am currently completing my graphic design studies at Design Centre Enmore (the best place to study graphic design in Sydney, in my opinion). Our year was asked to design a new website for the graphic design department. They were after a conceptual design that was more than just the standard linear web design with a navigation containing “about” “gallery” and “application”. I wanted something fun and interactive, and decided to focus on the student’s work. I devised a grid containing duo tone buttons of samples of our work, with some revealing letters to spell out words and others revealing the student’s full work.
And guess what… my site won! It is now the official website of Design Centre Enmore and I am very chuffed. Check it out http://www.dcegraphicdesign.org/.
Here are some screenshots from the live site:
The user was initially met with a grid of green duotone rollover boxes featuring samples of students work.
Once the user begins mousing around the grid, they start to reveal letters in some places and full colour versions of the work in others.
After exploring the site the user discovers the text “Graphic Design @ DCE”
The remaining thumbnails can be clicked on and a full version of the student’s work opens up in a lightbox. There are also external links to our social media profiles such as Twitter and Facebook, and important documents such as the application form included in the thumbnails.
I’ve had really positive feedback from designers and non-designers alike saying they had a lot of fun interacting with the site. I had a lot of fun making it!
This recipe for caramel peanut popcorn is deliciously dangerous – I can never stop eating it! I regularly make it as a gift (a zip locked bag full of this stuff always keeps the boyfriend happy) but I dare say he always ends up receiving around half of what was originally intended for him. For a more decadent twist swap the peanuts for macadamia nuts (or leave them out entirely if you are allergic).
- ½ cup of popcorn kernels
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup golden syrup
- 60 g butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 cup peanuts (I prefer using salted, as the salt provides a nice contrast against the sweet caramel)
- Line a baking tray with baking paper, set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat. Put a few popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the saucepan.
- Once the kernels pop, add the rest of the ½ cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer.
- Cover, remove from the heat and count 30 seconds. This method I have learnt first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.
- Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts vigorously, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.
- Now, on to the caramel. In the same saucepan, place sugar, golden syrup, butter, vanilla extract and heat on low to medium heat until sugar has dissolved.
- Increase to medium heat (but watch it like a hawk, sugar burns easily) and cook without stirring for around 5 minutes.
- Stir in baking soda and then add nuts and popcorn and stir furiously to coat kernels all over before the caramel starts to set.
- Quickly spread it out onto the lined baking tray and allow to cool and set.
- Break up into chunks and store in an airtight container. I like to put some in a zip lock sandwich bag and eat it in the movies. Much cheaper and definitely more delicious!
Sorry things have been a bit quiet in Swah-land lately. I have been incredibly busy with assignments and freelance work, and then my blog was hacked right before a holiday. It was a complete mess. Fortunately my tech-savvy boy helped bring Love Swah back from the brink of death upon returning from our trip. I’ve been slowly reinstalling everything and it’s now almost back to business – although I can’t wait to do a complete re-design of the blog once I have completed my course (and have some more free time) at the end of this year.
After weeks of an intense schedule my immune system decided to throw the towel in this week, so unfortunately I’ve been holed up in bed the past few days being a sook. Let’s have a look at some good things that have been going on lately!
♥ Spring has sprung
Spring is well and truly upon us in Sydney and last week I was roaming my neighbourhood with DSLR in tow, snapping pics of the beautiful blooming cherry blossoms. Loving my new lens, the Canon 50mm f1.4
♥ Getting fit in beautiful surroundings
At the start of this year my lungs were pretty much obliterated by pneumonia. I found it quite depressing not being able to exercise regularly so I have been working on building up my fitness and stamina again. I have been going on amazing (and challenging) walks around Sydney with a friend who is in training for a trek to Nepal.
♥ A weekend in Orange
A group of friends and I recently drove to Orange in country NSW to visit a lovely friend who has moved out there. It was a weekend full of amazing food, wine and company. Stay tuned for a mini weekend-away guide on Orange.
♥ Purchasing the 2012 Frankie calendar and diary
I missed out on the coveted Frankie magazine calendar and diary last year, so got my order in early this time. I can’t wait until they arrive! Being organised never looked so pretty.
All this excitement is exhausting, I’m going back to bed. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
One of the (many) things I loved about Japan was the “Purikura” or photo sticker booths that were everywhere! They cost 400 YEN (around AUD$5) and are so so much fun. They enlarge your eyes, smooth your skin, let you add makeup as well as random accessories like bows and hearts. I successfully dragged my boyfriend into 3 Purikuras whilst in Japan (and then 1 more time back in Sydney for good measure).
The advertising for the photo booths involve heavily made-up and Photoshopped girls and are usually marketed at either groups of friends or couples.
Our first photo booth we experienced (that’s right, it’s an “experience”) was love themed.
The computer advised us on what poses to strike and then let us add tasteful decorations at the end such as “Best Couple”, hearts and squiggles.
Oh the corniness and creepiness is simply wonderful!
Occasionally the computer shouts at you in Japanese and you have no idea what’s going on – thus this awkward and confused photo.
The next time we went to a Purikura, it was my birthday! Naturally a birthday themed photo shoot was chosen.
We added birthday paraphernalia and cat faces cause I freakin’ love cats. Party tonight!!!!
This particular photo captures the sheer delight we were experiencing.
Followed by a moment of calmness and self reflection. And bows.
Our third trip to the Purikura was the trippiest yet – it featured sheep and hatching chickens. But we LOST. THEM. Fortunately we had a few snaps of the actual computer screen.
Chin shelf yeh.
Sheep! In hats! What!?
Before we finally got to be hatching chickens. My life is now complete.
Naturally, upon returning to Sydney I went in search of more Purikura. I was hooked. We found some near Chinatown in Sydney – they are 2-3 times the price and don’t seem to doll you up as much but still are a fun time!
We went to town on the sparkles, blush and hair accessories.
And then had a fight whilst wearing fake glasses.
I hope I have sufficiently amused and/or traumatised you on this Thursday afternoon. For more whacky things to do in Japan check out my post on Cat Cafes.
Over the past few months I have been writing travel guides based on my own personal journeys and research around the world. They are focused on the female demographic aged 18-40 but anyone can enjoy them. They feature my own photography and include a selection of hotels in each city with budget, mid-range and high-end options, sightseeing (and tourist traps to avoid), shopping, transport and most importantly EATING (each guide has a specific sweets section of course!) I so far have written guides on New York, Melbourne and San Francisco. I am planning on writing my next 3 guides soon but wanted YOUR input on what cities I should focus on next.
These guides will soon be printed and for sale on my blog – there will also be a cheaper downloadable PDF option available too.
For once I have an almost healthy recipe for you *gasp*. Before you completely freak out, fear not – it tastes absolutely delicious!
I like the idea of granola but always find it either too sweet and buttery or full of almonds (you can hear me whinge about my allergy to almonds here). So of course I decided to make my own – and it was by far the best granola I have ever eaten. It’s amazing with milk, or sprinkled on top of yoghurt or snacked on as is.
It has just the right balance of fruits, nuts and grains and isn’t too sweet (and NO butter, just sunflower oil!) You can of course substitute whatever nut or dried fruit you wish to make your own perfect balance. There are quite a lot of ingredients but it’s worth the effort – this makes a huge batch of granola that can last for weeks in an airtight container.
Apologies for my un-ironed tablecloth!
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp ground cinammon
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable or sunflower oil
1/4 cup golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
1. Preheat over to 150°C
2. Mix together oats, wheat germ, coconut, brown sugar, sunflower seeds, pecans, walnuts, dried cranberries, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl whisk together the oil, honey, vanilla and water. Add to the dry mixture and stir until combined.
4. Spread the mixture out evenly in a large baking pan lined with grease proof paper.
5. Bake for approximately 1 hour until toasted and golden. Stir the mixture every 20 minutes so that everything gets evenly toasted. Once cool, store in an airtight container.
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