Southern Highlands photo diary

sunday morning

tomatoes

tomatoes

the village pump antiques

the village pump antiques

st maur wines

st maur wines

burrawang hotel

burrawang hotel

Sometimes you just need to get away. Over the weekend I did just that and spent a couple of nights visiting friends who live in the Southern Highlands. Whilst it’s only a 2 hour drive from Sydney, it’s amazing how quickly you can feel like you’re on a holiday far from home.

Beautiful landscapes, excellent food and wine, and long conversations late into the night with some of my oldest friends made it a very special weekend.

1. Woke up to this beautiful sight on Sunday morning in Bundanoon

2. Beautiful tomatoes grown by a neighbour of my friends

3. Pottering around the Village Pump Antiques, Exeter

4. Wine tasting at St Maur Wines, Exeter

5. The beautiful grounds of the Burrawang Hotel, Burrawang where we stopped for lunch

Other highlights were a visit to Gallery Ecosse, shopping at Made By Others and breakfast at Southern Highlands Wines.

 

Zucchini pasta

zucchini pasta

If you follow me on Instagram, you might already know that my zucchini plants started to flower this week. I was incredibly happy to see those bright yellow flowers and I’m hoping I will get the chance to taste a homegrown zucchini before I leave for my overseas holiday. I really do love zucchini (see my recipe for Green fritters), so as I wait for my own to grow, I thought I’d share this recipe for zucchini “pasta” for a delicious way to eat them raw. You can use a spiral peeler to make zucchini into pasta-like strands, however I don’t own one. Instead I have sliced the zucchini into strips using a mandolin slicer, then chopped finely with a knife.

Continue reading for the recipe and more pics.

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Cheap Thrills: Running

running

A few years ago at my previous job, a group of energetic folks from the office decided to form a running group. Initially I just ignored the stream of emails on the subject as I was not a runner and had absolutely no interest in trying it. But the enthusiasm of the running types soon saw me and a few other non-runners in the office donning our shorts and t-shirts after work and joining them for the first running group session. Despite my initial hesitation, I found that I actually really enjoyed it and with the encouragement of a few others in the group I entered my first fun run – all of an impressive 4km. Four years later, I’ve been in 12 fun runs, including a half marathon. I’m not the greatest runner, but I do enjoy it.

What is it about running that I enjoy? I like that you can just put your shoes on and go. You don’t need any equipment, there’s no need to travel and there’s no cost. I like the solitude. Often by waking up early and going for a run you get to enjoy an amazing part of the day all to yourself. I like the endorphins. I’m in a far better mood if I’ve included regular exercise in my week. Sometimes it’s really hard to be motivated, but if I’m honest with myself, getting up to go for a run will probably make me feel better than an extra 30 minutes sleep when I’m already tired.

After recently moving back to Sydney after a number of years living in Melbourne, my running has been on little hiatus. Sydney’s hilly terrain is somewhat daunting after 4 years of running around the flat streets of Melbourne. But I guess that brings me to the purpose of this post – I do enjoy running and it’s good for me. I just needed to give myself a little reminder of all the reasons why.

How the heck do you…turn a cool idea into a business?

things by bean cards

Things By Bean make cards for occasions and non-occasions. Got a friend with a beard that is just too awesome to go unacknowledged? There’s a card for that. Several actually. Want to express your affection for someone by way of a Venn diagram? Now you can! Things By Bean cards are characterised by their bold colours and curious one-liners. And you just have to touch one of these cards because the paper is amazing!

But just who is this Bean who does these things? Bean is the nickname for Jo Power, a Melbourne based entrepreneur and writer. I first met Jo over 7 years ago when she was newly arrived in Australia from the USA. During this time – 2 years of which we spent living together – I’ve come to know her as an excellent whistler, a maker of fantastic vegan desserts and now a successful business owner. Today marks the first in what I hope will be a series of posts where I pick the brains of a clever person who can help me answer an unusual “how to” question. And today that person is Jo and the question is how the heck do you turn a cool idea into a business?

jo power things by beanContinue reading for the full interview and more pics.

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Cooking for one

one egg

I haven’t always enjoyed cooking. I am embarrassed to admit that for about the first 2 years after moving out from home, I can probably count the number of times I cooked on one hand. I survived on a combination of take-away, eating out, toast and the occasional meal back at home or the home of my then boyfriend. On the rare occasions I did step inside a supermarket, I would buy pita bread and a container of hummus and call it a meal. Not very healthy. And also all very expensive – except for the $4 pizzas, they were great value.

The two main excuses I gave for my lack of cooking were that I wasn’t really much of a cook (aka I didn’t know how) and that there’s not much point if you’re just cooking for one person. I frequently hear these same excuses from other people, so today I’d like to debunk the myth that cooking for one is a waste of time. And this doesn’t just apply to all the single ladies (and gents)! Are you in a share house where the food is most definitely not shared? Do you just make yourself a piece of toast and a cup of tea when your significant other isn’t going to be home for dinner? Are you a student who thinks pre-packaged noodles with an ingredients list that reads more like a science experiment is all the cooking you can manage? It doesn’t have to be this way!

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Cheap Thrills: The Lipstick Index

The best things in life are free…Love don’t cost a thing…Mo money, mo problems…Can’t buy me love…I’m sharing my favourite budget-friendly-under-$10 discoveries each week. Cheap thrills.

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Leonard Lauder, chairman emeritus of Estée Lauder, famously coined the term the lipstick index to describe the inverse relationship between lipstick sales and the state of the economy. The idea is that women refrain from buying major, expensive purchases, but don’t deny themselves completely and instead buy up big on the little, affordable luxury of lipstick. In the wake of the GFC, Lauder’s theory didn’t quite hang together and declining lipstick sales in that period mean the lipstick index is now largely discredited. But hey, according to Lauder, nail polish is the new lipstick.

Legit economic indicator or not, I still like the idea of the lipstick index, and in terms of my own personal experience I can see a bit of truth in it. Even though I’m in full blown savings mode for my upcoming overseas adventure, I still enjoy hanging onto a few of my tiny luxuries. I simply will not give up buying coffee! So with lipstick in mind, in this edition of Cheap Thrills I thought I’d share this awesome lip colour from Sportsgirl. Under $10 and totally fabulous.

Weekend photo diary

carrot seedlings

carrot seedlings

the island bar

the island bar, cockatoo island

cockatoo island

cockatoo island

zucchini slice

zucchini slice

The tail end of summer in Sydney can be a little moody – with sudden afternoon thunderstorms sending people running for shelter, causing traffic chaos and terrifying dogs everywhere. Whilst it is technically no longer summer here, the weather over the this past week has featured dramatic thunderstorms and required umbrellas on hand at all times. So when I woke up to a beautiful clear blue sky on Saturday morning I felt like we deserved a couple of days of sunshine!

1. All the recent rain meant the weeds were going crazy in my garden, so I spent a bit of time tending to my fledgling veggie patch.

2. On Saturday afternoon I headed over to Cockatoo Island to visit the Island Bar. They had gone all out to create a New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration complete with strings of beads, brass band, bourbon cocktails and Louisiana style cooking.

3. Walking around the old buildings and tunnels of Cockatoo Island. The island has previously been used as a prison, a reform school, and a ship building and dockyard facility.

4. A picnic on Sunday afternoon was another chance to spend some more time outside enjoying the sunshine. In my picnic basket was this zucchini slice I baked.