16 January 2015

Death by Doxie : A Ferdi Pillow

When the world keeps throwing up inconceivably horrible things that you struggle to make sense of, sometimes the best thing to do is just sit and watch your dogs sleeping. Seriously - is this not heartbreakingly cute? One dog is good, two dogs who are best of friends is better. 

Thank you Ferdi and Elfi, for being as adorable as you are. Sometimes, you keep me sane.

10 January 2015

IGEC : Food

Perhaps you are feeling a bit like me at the moment? A bit like a stuffed sausage? After all the entertaining and being entertained I am craving a month of eating nothing but steamed greens and watermelon. 

But that won't happen, because I adore food. And I adore these three Instagrammers who always inspire me with their gorgeous looking creations. Luckily they are all fans of good, wholesome, healthy deliciousness so you can drool with a clear conscious and a happy belly. 

Ruth, aka Gourmet Girlfriend, is a ridiculously good cook based in Melbourne with a gang of kids who seem to be equally talented in the kitchen. I love her honest, from the heart, all hands on deck approach to cooking. And I'm a wee bit jealous of her crochet skills. And her wardrobe...
Every time I look at @kenokitchen's feed I feel healthy and hungry all at once. Thoughtful, nutritious, tasty - what more could you possibly want? I'm super excited that a) I'm doing one of her whole food cooking classes later this year, and b) she's releasing a cookbook soon!
Another foodie who makes healthy look seriously delicious (and often a whole lot of fun too!) is Martyna, Wholesome Cook. I'm a long way from paleo, and I really do adore sugar, but I still find her posts inspiring. In fact, I could go some of those icy poles right now. And maybe some of that spaghetti too. Oh yes!

Instagram is chockfull of the some of the most inspiring, creative, hilarious, clever people I've ever had the pleasure of encountering on the internets. IGEC is my chance to share some of those inspiring, creative, hilarious, clever people with you! Oh and you can find me on Instagram here. 

05 January 2015

Good Things To Do in 2015

How's your 2015 going so far? Mine's been pretty damn good. A bit too good actually, as I'm now finding it hard to get out of the holiday mindset and start being productive again (which is a bit funny considering my phrase for 2015...). I'd really like to stay with the beach going, book reading, bbq-ing vibe for awhile longer but unfortunately the world and my to do list have other ideas. 

One thing I have managed to do - in between the drinking and eating and lazing - is sign up for a few challenges to set the tone for the year. And I thought you might want to sign up for one too? Here's a list if you do. 

Fat Mum Slim's Photo A Day : If you don't know about this you clearly haven't been near the internet in a few years. Daily prompts, take a snap and post it on Instagram, your blog, Facebook, wherever. This year it's switching from monthly to weekly lists, which I think is awesome - much easier to dip in and out of as you please. 

365 Photo Challenge : Basically commit to taking one photo a day for a year. You can follow the prompts set by accounts like @my_365 on Instagram or you can just keep it simple with no prompts and no themes, just one photo each day, like I'm doing. 

Shake Creative Photo A Day : A photo a day challenge hosted by Zoey Martin, who you might know from Operation Move or The Shake. The prompts often have a fitness bent and also cover all kinds of emotions, good and bad and inspirational. A good one for those looking to push their creativity a bit. (With thanks to Dannielle for bringing this one to my attention!). 

Canon Light Awards : If you shoot with a Canon you might want to consider playing along with these awards. Challenging monthly briefs and the chance to get feedback from some amazing photographers - sounds pretty good to me!

Health + Fitness 
Operation Move's How Many Kms in 2015 : If you're looking to get fit and healthy in 2015 and you haven't checked out Operation Move yet, go do it now. They have a brilliant back story, offer a bunch of great services, and continually motivate and inspire me. Plus they've built a community of really wonderful lovely people. This year they've created a Facebook event asking how many kilometres you can move (run, walk, cycle, roller blade, whatever!) in 2015. It's a great place to make a public commitment, see what others are up to and check in. I've put my hand up for 1000kms (as of writing this I'm 18 down, 982 to go!). 

Run Down Under : I'm so excited about this one! Basically it's a virtual race around Australia. Log the number of kilometres you've covered on a regular basis and Run Down Under maps your progress, starting from Canberra (if you use Strava it's super easy to sync your kms). Apparently I've got 72.34kms until my next town, Goulburn... 

Books + Reading 
Pop Sugar Reading Challenge : My lovely friend Cat (who has exquisite taste in books, by the way!) put me on to this. I know lots of people who have 'read more' on their 2015 list and this seems like a fun way to tackle it with things like "A book your mom loves", "A banned book", and "A book with bad reviews" on the checklist. It's a bit like a treasure hunt, and I love that, so although I know I won't finish the checklist (I'm a slow reader!) I'm going to have a crack anyway! 

Set your own goal : I've recently switched from Shelfari to Good Reads to track my reading, mainly because of the iPhone app. But both sites are great, and both sites let you set a reading goal for the year and will track your progress towards that goal. 

A Year of Australian Writing : The gorgeous Pip is hosting a year of reading aussie stories - what an awesome idea! Although I'm not committing to this one I will be following along with great interest (and no doubt adding to my 'to read' pile along the way too).

Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge : Okay so with 339 books on the list it'd be near impossible to get through this challenge in a year (unless you devoted all your waking hours to it, which doesn't sound like a bad way to pass 365 days actually...), but as a fan of Gilmore Girls this had to get a mention! (I've only read 34 of them, by the way.)

Fox in Flats' Style Dares : Not really a year long thing, but fun nonetheless! Andrea runs regular style challenges on her blog. I've never taken part, but I've watched in admiration as others have, and I think maybe it would do me good to get involved. Fingers crossed there's one soon! 

Jewellery Everyday with Megan Auman : Have a ton of jewellery but hardly ever wear it? Yep, me too. Which is why I really like this Instagram based challenge aimed at getting us to wear more jewellery. I think it only runs for a month, but maybe it'll inspire you to stick with it for a year?

Happiness Jar : This is all over the internets in various forms, and seems to be an idea attributed to Elizabeth Gilbert. Basically every day you write down something that's made you happy, something you're grateful for or that you've accomplished. Then at the end of the year you read back through all your notes and feel ace. Nice. Have a jar for each member of the family, even the furry ones, if you like! 

I'll be updating this list over the next week, so if you know of a challenge or something fun to do in 2015 that's not on here do let me know. Maybe you are participating in one? Or hosting one? I'd love to hear about it!

31 December 2014

Some Words For 2015

Whilst I'm not a resolution kind of girl, I do like marking the start of a new year in some small way. I like to think about the year that's passed - what worked and what didn't - and think about my intentions and hopes for the new year ahead. 

It's with this in mind that I've decided to follow the lead of many of my blogging friends and pick a word for 2015. Well actually, it's four words because brevity isn't necessarily my strong suit. 

Do stuff, with intention

The comma is important because, firstly, I want to do stuff. I want to ignore the fear and the "I don't know how / I'm not good enough" voice and just do stuff. I want to have a crack. I want to be productive. 

And then, the intention bit? That's about consciously deciding how I spend my time. That doesn't mean no faffing about on the internet for hours, it means conscious faffing*. I want to decide to spend half a day on Instagram, not get to the end of the day and think 'what just happened there?'. I want to decide to spend a week or two focussed on the family, rather than constantly feeling like I should be doing something else or something more. I want to be present. I want to plan more, to allocate time appropriately, to have clear priorities. 

There's also something about intentionality that has a certain kindness, a compassion to it, because it asks you to consider the consequences and impacts of each decision, each action. That's important, too. 

A disclaimer - last year, or maybe the year before, my word was FOCUS. And that totally didn't help with anything. But I'm feeling positive about this one. I think. 

*Conscious faffing. I feel like this is a term that could take off, yes?

Do you have a word for the new year? Or a phrase? Do you think it helps bring clarity to your year? Is it just something fun to do? Or entirely pointless?

29 December 2014

Three Simple Xmas Day Recipes (For Making Anytime!)

If I had of thought about writing this post before we all tucked in on xmas day there might be some better photos to go along with it. But I didn't and there's not, so you'll just have to settle for my marvellous pavlova, our colourful, eclectic table and Ferdi in a santa costume! 

This was our first xmas in our first proper house and it was ace. We have the step-sons staying with us right now, so their Mum came over for lunch and present opening. We stuffed and roasted a turkey and served it with roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, buttery peas, fig salad, gravy and cranberry sauce. For afters we had pavlova with whipped cream, berries and pomegranate. It was a team effort, and it was all quite delicious. 

Here are three super simple yet super tasty recipes we used on the day:

Duck Fat Roast Potatoes 
1. Preheat your oven to about 190˚C or so. Put a biggish metal roasting pan in there to heat it up. 
2. Give your spuds a good scrub. Don't peel them - they're tastier with the skin on, plus it saves a heap of time and mess! 
3. Chop them into cubes; not too small but not too big. 
4. Throw the cubes in some salted, boiling water. Leave them in for about 7-10 minutes.
5. Drain your spuds really well, then put them in the hot metal roasting pan. 
6. Sprinkle liberally with chunky sea salt. Daub liberally with duck fat. 
7. Roast for 45-60 minutes, adjusting the temperature and oven position as required (ie. if they are browning too quickly drop the temp, if they're not crisping up enough give them a blast of heat). 
It's pretty hard to overcook these guys so don't fret too much. On the flip side, if it looks like they're going to be ready early don't be afraid to pull them out of the oven for a rest. 
From my head and years of trial and error. 

Fig + Mint Salad 
1. Halve 8 figs and arrange them in a bowl. 
2. Whisk together the juice of 1 orange, juice of 1 lemon and 50ml extra virgin olive oil. 
3. Add 1 loosely packed cup of mint leaves, roughly chopped, and 1.5 thinly sliced golden shallots. 
4. Season to taste then spoon over the figs and eat! 
This was delicious with the roast turkey, I think it'd go well with roast pork as well. Oh, and maybe barbecued prawns. And some kind of chicken. Actually, it'd go with pretty much anything!

Never-Fail Pavlova 
1. Preheat oven to 200˚C. Line an oven tray with baking paper. 
2. Place 4 egg whites in a bowl. 
3. Combine 1 tablespoon cornflour and 1.5 cups of sugar, then add to the bowl with egg whites. Next - add a pinch of salt and 5 tablespoons boiling water. 
4. Beat on high until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture holds its shape well. You'll know it when you see it! 
5. Important! Half way through beating add a teaspoon of white vinegar and a teaspoon of vanilla essence. 
6. Pile the mixture on the oven tray, shaping with a spatula. I made two pavlovas - one was low and wide, the other thick and high. I think the low and wide one turned out better; it had a good ratio of crisp outside to soft, marshmallowy inside.
7. Place in the oven and drop the temperature down to just under 150˚C. Bake for about an hour, until it's dry to the touch. If your meringue starts to tinge drop the temperature down some more.
8. Once cooked, leave the oven door ajar and allow to cool completely before removing.
9. The meringue can be stored for a day or two. Before serving top with your favourite topping. 
I went for a classic whipped cream and berries combo - one with pomegranate and one with passionfruit. Although I adore pomegranate, I do think the passionfruit one was better - a pav really needs the tang of passionfruit to cut through the sweetness of the meringue. 

I was pretty pleased with how my pavlovas turned out. I'm pretty sure they're going to become a new xmas tradition. I'm already looking for inspiration for next year so please tell me - what are your favourite pavlova toppings? 

ps. I hope you had a delicious day too!