Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter

If you live over this side of the world and you're not religious, then Easter is a bit of a bewildering holiday.  Rather than celebrating new life and colour, we're collecting fallen leaves in red, orange and brown.  We're just packing away our summer clothes and pulling our musty sweaters out of our wardrobes.  And it's still incredibly exciting, there's still that buzz in the air, and I'm still secretly counting down the days every year!
Every Easter all the 'kids' stumble into my mums house one after the other, usually nursing a hangover.  The coffee machine flies into action, the decorated eggs (for which the chickens are locked into their coop the previous week so that we don't have to hunt for their latest nest under the house first) are put on the table, and this year the smell of Saba's homemade hot cross buns fill the kitchen.  As everybody wakes up, the noise in the house goes up several notches and before long the friendly teasing, bickering, joking sets the tone for the day.  Let me tell you, this is when I am at my absolute happiest!  To be surrounded by all my siblings, their partners, and now Ayana too is my idea of a perfect day.  After breakfast we hunt for chocolate eggs (Ayana had a couple of little presents to find instead), steal eggs and swap eggs... and then crash out on whatever spare couch there is and sleep off the sugar comedowns.
Can't wait until next year.
xx

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Autumn storm

When we woke up bright and early on Thursday morning it seemed as though nature had turned horizontal.   The thick line of bamboo that normally shelters our garden was on a dramatic lean, the rain whipped past the kitchen window, and the birds began chirping with irritation long before dawn broke.  We had quite literally just finished nursing our first cups of coffee for the day when the house suddenly went quiet.  The whirring, buzzing, beeping, humming... it all came to an abrupt halt.  There was an uncomfortable silence and then 'Ohhh it's the bloody power again'.  The THIRD power cut in a week!  Let me tell you, you quickly realise how much you rely on it when it's suddenly gone.  To be cooped up in our dark little house with no water (because we're on tank water so it requires the pump to be working), no light, no internet, no music and a raging storm outside just feels nothing short of archaic!  I know, I hear you muttering "First world problems", under your breath. And you're right of course. 
When the storm finally cleared in the mid afternoon, I packed Ayana into the ergo and we checked out the damage on the farm.  The air was thick, humid and completely still, the light had an eery iridescent glow to it and the wildlife seemed to just sit there in a state of bewilderment.  Two hours later and we were still sitting down in the paddock beside the apple tree eating until our bellies ached.  Neither of us wanted to go back and sit in the house... ever again!
x

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Crabapple and lavender compote

For some reason both Saba (the true heroine of this story) and I both recall being told that these little red pigmy fruit were poisonous.  As children we would look at them longingly as they hung in big clusters off the tree outside the lounge.  In fact it wasn't until very recently when we saw our cousins from overseas devouring them that we realised that although extremely sour, they are very much edible! 
Having just come back from learning to be a pastry chef in Paris, Saba is full of great ideas on adapting classics with whatever wonderful delights we can pillage from the garden.  So last Sunday I was instructed to come over nice and early (well early for a Sunday) with a big bag of crabapples and a handful of lavender. 
Oh boy the result was too good not to share.  Lights fluffy scones, healthy dollops of whipped cream, a sour lavender infused compote and a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce.  Should I go on?  Or are you already half way to the kitchen?

Saba's Crabapple and Lavender Compote
You probably won't find crabapples in your local supermarket, but your local farmers market should have them in early Autumn.  Or if you're really sneaky you might be able to pinch them off your neighbours tree.

What you'll need:
Compote
245g Crab apples - Cored and cut into quarters (I like to leave a few in halves, for extra texture)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
25g Unsalted butter
30g Sugar
10g water
Lavender Syrup:
75g Water
75 Sugar
4 x Lavender flower heads
 
What you do (this sounds long and complicated but is actually very easy!):
To make the lavender Syrup:
- Combining equal parts water and sugar in a small pot, 
- Heat until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar is completely dissolved. 
- Remove from the heat and immerse the lavender heads in the syrup
- Put the lid on and let it infuse for 5 minutes
- Remove the lavender and reserve it for later
 
To make the compote:
 - Cut the crab apples into quarters and remove the core (some recipes say this isn't necessary, but I find the  core is a bit woody when cooked). I like to keep about a quarter of my crab apples cut in halves, because it adds a little more texture.
- Squeeze the lemon juice over the apples, to stop them from browning.-
-  Melt the butter in a medium sized pot (on medium heat)
 - Stir until it is well browned and emits a soft caramelised smell.
- Add the crab apples and sugar, mix to combine, and put the lid on the pot.  
- Cook for 5 mins, stirring occasionally
- Add 10g of water.
- Mix well and pop the lid back on, cooking for another 5 minutes or so, until the apples are soft, but not quite falling apart.
 
Finally:
- Add 40g of the lavender syrup
- Cook until the mixture becomes thick (almost jam like in appearance at the edges)
- Lastly, pick the lavender petals (including the small 'buds') from two of the lavender heads reserved from the syrup, and mix evenly through the compote. At this stage I also like to mix in a dash more of the lavender syrup.
Best served with scones and lashings of cream!  (We are big fans of the trusty Edmonds scone recipe which you can find here)
Notes: 
- Crab apples are very tart, and this compote is too! We love it, but if you would like some extra sweetness, just add 10g of extra sugar before you add the lavender petals, and cook until the sugar is combined.
- Don't have crab apples?  This recipe would also work well with any tart apple variety.
 
xx

Monday, April 14, 2014

Creative Common Occupation

As much as I love the idea of supporting small, independent fashion designers, I often find the garments unwearable.  They're more like pieces of abstract art then something I could actually figure out how to put on.  So yesterday when we plodded up the stairs to check out the Creative Common Occupation pop up shop I was blown away by the collections.  They were beautiful!  They were so simple and yet unique in their design, and best of all I could see myself wearing almost every piece (unfortunately my bank account was less cooperative otherwise I would have come tripping back down the stairs with a whole new wardrobe).
I've got to say though, I really fell hard for My Deer Fox's diamond bags (Ooo they're like origami) and Jyoti Kalyanji's seamless knitted homeware.  
Anyway listen to me prattle on!  I just wanted to tell you to go and check them out.  Their opening party is TONIGHT and they're only sticking around for a couple of days so don't dawdle. 
Creative Common Occupation
4 Cross St (behind Krd)
Opening party 7 - 9pm
More info here

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Links to love

Some people just have a way of capturing all the beauty in the world.  I'm always obsessed (aka wickedly envious) with talented travel photographers, so when I came across the Nishaantishu blog the other day my jaw pretty much hit the floor.  What a stunning way to capture an otherwise maybe depressing scene of rubbish and poverty.

I won't lie, I've been stuck in a bit of a rut lately and have been trying to figure out how to shake it... then just by chance I came across Practicing Simplicity!  It was like stumbling upon a little ray of sunshine and gave me a real 'ah ha!' moment.  I'm determined to live better, with less clutter, less stress, less having a million things to do and never really finishing anything.  I've been reading this blog whenever I get a chance and am feeling so inspired.

Some blogs are just a breath of fresh air.  The lovely Brooke put me onto this one just yesterday (thank you!!) and it's oh so sweet!  I'll definitely be adding it to my list.
 
Gala Darling's ten questions about her life.  Call me nosy, but I kind of love it when bloggers get personal and dish out some dirt about themselves.  Gala answers questions on everything from her writing habits, to wardrobe tips, to hanging onto girlfriends.  Her ever positive attitude is always infectious.

A Cup of Jo's inspiring series on motherhood and finding balance.  This is a topic that weighs so heavily on my mind these days, so it's nice to hear about other women who manage to balance it all.  This is kind of a cute blog anyway, she has a habit of touching on topics that make you blush a little.

*Sigh* I just never get tired of the House in Habit blog.  This mama of (almost) four takes the most beautiful photos, in fact she almost has me convinced that I need to move to the desert!  I also highly recommend following her on instagram.

I don't get up to much crafty business these days (who has the time with a toddler to chase?!) but when A Beautiful Mess did a post on making your own rag rug today I got pretty excited.  I've always wanted to make one and am ashamed to say that the ones we currently have are cheap and nasty Warehouse numbers.  I have been trying to figure out what to do with all the strips of fabric from our wedding backdrop... and now I've found the perfect solution!

Phew there we have it, that's quite a list for our first Links to Love of the year.  I stopped doing these a while back when I just wasn't getting a chance to go online anymore but I've been finding so much inspiration out there that I though it was time for a come back.  You can check out previous links here.
xx