June 29, 2013

Moving and shaking (and keeping in touch)

Things are a changing around here. Both on the blog and in my life. Outside of the blog I'm moving house. Geographically not far from where I am now but it'll make a difference. I'll share more about that soon. For the moment I'll stick to what's happening in blogland. I'm planning on having a bit of a clean up on the blog. Just a few small changes here and there I've been thinking about for a while. I imagine the changes will happen slowly slowly,  so keep your eyes peeled. And whilst you're at it, keep your eyes peeled in the next month over on Facebook or Instagram. I'm not there yet, but I'm tossing up whether to grow a little sideways to one or both of these.  I don't use Instagram currently but it does look fun. 

Any thoughts on what you use and why? 

Along similar lines of how you find and follow blogs... Google Reader is closing in a few days (I had no idea about this until it kept coming up on blogs I read- ancient head in the sand is me!) and bloglovin is a good way to keep in touch. 

To follow me on bloglovin click the link below.

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You can also receive emails directly in your inbox by entering your details in the box on the right. Simple. 

Housework done. Happy weekend. x

June 24, 2013

25/52 Weeks of Gratitude

52 Weeks of More gratitude. More hope. More love.

This past week felt like a good time to pair back the fancy stuff and get back to basics. I found time to embrace the simple things I love doing but that had somehow been missing recently.  Later in the week I was delighted to find that Rhonda at Down to Earth was revisiting elements of simple living. I'm eagerly reading and waiting for new posts.  

Grateful for weekend brunch. Weekend brunch at a cafe is a little bit special don't you think? I keep going back to Vintage Espresso because they never fail to deliver and in Winter the space is filled with sunlight. The food is simple, fresh and healthy. The ladies are lovely and they've perfected the art of chai tea. I had a classic dish of poached eggs on sol pumpkin and rice bread with a side of spinach. And a pot of chai, milky but not too sweet. The bonus to having a pot of chai is scooping the cinnamon sprinkled froth off the top of the brewing tea. Mmm.

Grateful for a few quick rounds of Boggle after a Sunday roast. Have you played it? It's a simple word game kind of a mix between crosswords and scrabble.

Grateful to Kellie at Dear Olive for the inspiration I needed to get a trip to my weekly farmer's market back on the agenda. It is amazing how much of a difference to eating it's made over the last couple of weeks. With an abundance of fresh, seasonal and organic fruit and veg on hand I've been much more inspired to cook throughout the whole week and have been filling up on really good food. Less space for chocolate cravings!

Grateful for being challenged in yoga. 

Grateful for an ordinary week that really was rather extraordinary. 

I'd love to know what simple things make a big difference in your life?

1/ Mmm poached eggs and chai. 2/ View from the table.

Joining in for 52 weeks of gratitude here.

June 23, 2013

24/52 Weeks of Gratitude

52 Weeks of More gratitude. More hope. More love.

Night markets under a clear cool sky. Live music, good food and vintage finds. The Miami Marketta Arts Creative is a regular artist run market in a newish arts precinct in Miami. I do miss the lights and character of a big city. Arts and culture, cafes, the abundance and diversity of food, historic buildings, the grittiness and the buzz of people on the streets. 

There is always so much colour and life in a city. 

The Gold Coast is definitely not a big city, but for a few hours in a one laneway market surrounded by artist studios and a little cafe complete with red velvet chairs I felt the buzz of a place come alive that was as good as a big city has to offer. And the nachos! Healthy and delicious with beans topped with a salad of carrot and cabbage, cashew sauce jalapeños and sprinkled with pepitas.  To make my first trip to the markets even more memorable I picked up a second-hand game of Boggle and had the most delicious cinnamon milky fine tea experience I've had in quite some time.  Mr Harney & Sons I concur, you are master blenders of fine tea. And best of all, the Hot Cinnamon Spice comes in decaffeinated and herbal blend varieties. 

Mid way through the evening I turned back to look at the scene behind me in the laneway and saw the shining crescent moon in the sky. At that moment I smiled and felt giddy with gratitude.

1/ Writing on the wall. 2/ Vinyl.  3/ Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice.

Joining in for 52 weeks of gratitude here.

June 18, 2013

Cardamom and Rosewater Love Tarts

The first time I made these little gems it was to celebrate love. Two beautiful friends of mine were getting married in an old church and I wanted to give a gift in the form of dessert. A dessert that was a little indulgent, romantic and a delight for the senses. With a vague idea to make something with exotic flavours I narrowed it down to Indian and Persian influenced flavours and finally found the perfect 'love' dessert of Cardamom and Rosewater Tarts.

Common to both Indian and Persian cooking, cardamom and rosewater have been used for centuries, and have a sweet and heavenly scent that is quite distinct.  If you've ever had the pleasure of visiting an Indian Sweet cafe you'll know the warm and heavenly scent I'm talking about and the power  those endless rows of soft fudge like desserts have over you.

This really is a recipe to save for when you can set some time aside to lovingly prepare the tarts. The tarts are both delicate in taste and in preparation. They need your attention and patience and most importantly your love.  Raw cashews are a great non dairy cream alternative. They are full of fat,  have no strong taste, and thus perfect for a non dairy cream base. Use organic ingredients where possible, medjool dates (they are softer and moister that 'regular' dates),  raw (not processed) honey and fresh vanilla beans.

Enjoy and share the love. x

updated (P.s I've entered this recipe in a competition at these newish night food markets. Competition closes this Friday 21st June. If you like why not head to Miami Marketta's Facebook page, scroll down, keep scrolling and find my picture entry of the tarts and hit like. I'd love it if you did. thanks.)

Cardamom and Rosewater Love Tarts

for the tart base

1 cup raw pecans soaked, drained and rinsed or 1 cup raw dry pecan nuts
3/4 cup medjool dates
1 inch strip vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coconut oil
4cm base; 2.5cm height silicone cupcake liners (optional)

for the cashew filling

1 cup raw cashews soaked, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp coconut oil
3/4 cardamom powder
1/2 inch strip vanilla bean or 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp rosewater
3 tbsp raw honey
1/8 cup water

to dress your tarts

handful of pistachio nuts
cardamom pods
food grade dried rose petals (I used rose petals from a T2 loose tea mix I had in the cupboard)

Preheat oven to 175C. Blend all tart base ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. This next step takes practice and patience. Spoon a few tablespoons of nut mixture into silicone cupcake liners and press lightly to form a thin case. If you spread the mixture to thin it will break, the trick is to try and spread it evenly over the cups. Place on a flat tray in oven and bake for 7-10 minutes or until darkened and firm- keep an eye on them. (I burnt my first batch!)  If you want to keep the recipe raw skip the oven and chill them in the fridge until firm, approx 1 hour. I'd love to hear your results with this as I tried the raw method but they didn't firm up enough for me.

Remove from liners, place on plate or base you are going to serve on (the less transferring from dish to dish the less chance of the base breaking- yes they are delicate!) and fill with the cashew cream.

Cashew Filling

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Spoon into cashew tart bases.

And now for the fun part. Place a few cardamom pods in the centre of each tart. Roughly chop pistachio nuts into small pieces. Loosely sprinkle pistachio and rose petals over the top.

Makes:  8 small beautiful tarts.

Free of refined sugar, dairy, grain and egg (vegan if honey is replaced with agave, coconut sugar, rice malt syrup or sweetener of your choice).

June 17, 2013

23/52 Weeks of Gratitude

52 Weeks of More gratitude. More hope. More love.

I'm playing catch up again. Trying to write one post per week, and post it in the actual week it occurs, is proving to be quite the challenge. Things have been busy, and I think I fell into that place where if you put something off for a few days it kind of becomes bigger and even less manageable.

Anyway...little jolts of inspiration for writing come at random moments throughout the day, I start dreaming big of what I what I'd like to write,  get excited but then don't always find the time to do the actual writing.  It's all part of the process though and one of the things I love about writing and photographing for this space is the discipline it's given me (sometimes!) to do something creative. On a regular basis. I had often talked with friends about wanting to 'be more creative', but as my profession isn't creative in the traditional sense, I always struggled to find something that fit. Now that I've started this space I gotta say I love it. No hard rules, the freedom to do whatever I please. It's incredibly liberating and scary at the same time. I did set the intention to be more courageous this year so I'm not letting a little fear now and again stop me from doing my thing on this blog.

So gratitude. I'm grateful for all that I'm learning on writing, learning to observe more around me, the buzz I feel thinking about ideas for the blog, being able to sticky beak into other people's lives and thoughts across the world via their blogs and sharing this space with people I know in person and people I don't.

In Week 23 of 52 (a few weeks back now) I went to Bangalow and I almost cried in delight when I saw the main tree in town with its leaves turned shades of red and orange. Ah winter! how I've missed you. There aren't many signs of winter where I live. It feels too tropical. No deciduous trees, no bitter winds, no need for heavy winter coats and gloves. Most of the time I'm happy for the milder climate, but the sight and crunch underfoot of leaves fallen to the ground is a simple delight that doesn't diminish with age. It was my first time at The Channon markets and I have to say it rates in my top 3 market experiences. A super relaxed market in beautiful surroundings with good and plentiful food options, and diverse local arts and crafts. Being so close to Northern NSW is a real treat.

1. Our Corner Store- I couldn't resist buying a new winter knit- their ethos is simple and natural. 
2 and 3. The Channon Markets. 

Joining in for 52 weeks of gratitude here.

June 10, 2013

22/52 Weeks of Gratitude

52 Weeks of More gratitude. More hope. More love.

Happy Birthday to my gorgeous sister

I feel like my sister has always been there for me when I need her, with her warm generous spirit and kind heart.

I am grateful for our bond,  for the way she always makes me laugh and for the adventures we have together.

The birthday cake: Carrot Cake with Cream cheese icing adapted from an old Women's Weekly Carrot Cake recipe. 
To add wholesome goodness I used organic carrots, replaced white flour for wholewheat, vegetable oil for cold pressed olive oil, added yoghurt and halved the amount of sugar. 

(We celebrated a few weeks ago, but with hours in front of a computer at work I just didn't feel like spending more time on the computer. The balancing act of having computers in our lives so much these days can be tricky.)

Joining in for 52 weeks of gratitude here.

June 04, 2013

21/52 Weeks of Gratitude

More gratitude. More hope. More love.

I took a little weekend trip down to the land of rolling hills and wide, flowing rivers. As I turned off the main highway onto the road that takes me towards Murwillumbah a spectacular view of Mt. Warning appears in the distance and I can't help but let out a sigh of delight! I'm in one of the most beautiful places in Australia.  

A weekend to be grateful for:
Catching up with friends and their sweet baby. She is 7 months and all smiles, joy and laughter.
Tea at dusk to warm the body, followed by homemade beer (to further warm and keep our cheeks rosy) and then dinner at this restaurant in a beautiful old Queenslander with a wide verandah (oh how i love a verandah overlooking trees). The produce is all local, sustainable and organic and it is very good. 

Days were lived in the moment with conversations about plans and families, food and health. Sounds in the moment were of laughter, playing of a native american flute, wind in the trees and small baby sneezes that seemed to take Lila by surprise as if she didn't know she could make such sounds. 

Joining in with 52 weeks of gratitude here.