ZUMBO + Lake House = DESSERT HEAVEN

Before Adriano Zumbo we all thought Macarons were those ugly coconut biscuits your Nana made. (Macaroons / Macarons... who knew that one little 'o' made such a difference?) The famous light as air (and sweet as sin) delectable treat really went next level when Zumbo got his hot little hands onto them. From Masterchef to Maccas the Macaron was suddenly EVERYWHERE!
Mr. Zumbo launched his dessert empire upon the meringue-y shell of this fragile treat.
So what a treat is was for me to attend a super special dessert workshop at Lake House to watch Mr Z. at work!

Alla and Adriano in the Lake House Cooking School kitchen, with Melissa looking on (check out the awesome mirror above the bench, giving us all a bird's eye view of exactly what's happening!)

Alla and Adriano in the Lake House Cooking School kitchen, with Melissa looking on (check out the awesome mirror above the bench, giving us all a bird's eye view of exactly what's happening!)

The Words in Winter Masterclass at Lake House was hosted by Fooderati Blogger Melissa Leong - Melissa and Adriano are buddies from way back, and Alla Wolf Tasker opened the Lake House Cooking School Kitchen for them share their knowledge on the sticky and sweet world of desserts and social media.

Alla, Melissa & Adriano our fabulous and fun trio of hosts.

Alla, Melissa & Adriano our fabulous and fun trio of hosts.

Adriano started the workshop with the world premiere of Date With Peter (Pumpkin Eater). This insanely luscious dessert is wintery and warm with a hint of spice and some very cool surprises and textures. The dessert was created in front of us by Adriano, the aroma from the ovens was seriously good, and I sooo wanted to lick the bowl - like, I really had to show restraint not to ask. Be proud of me people!!

This dessert is built with a sticky date cake and caramel maison, a spiced crème chantilly, toasted coffee crème brulee, pumpkin icecream (amazing) sesame seed wafers, orange passionfruit gel, orange passionfruit syrup and a fried mozzarella ball.  (!!!!!!!!)

My taste of Date with Peter Pumpkin Eater...

My taste of Date with Peter Pumpkin Eater...

As an experienced eater of desserts I'd be happy with any ONE of these elements, but when served with eight of them, to be eaten together, I have to say, the experience was beyond heaven. (Again, restraint was shown not to lick the plate.... seeerrrious restraint.)

We were served generous samples, including each of the elements, and then Zumbo beautifully plated a generous serve of Date with Peter (Pumpkin Eater), which we all diligently lined up to take pretty photos of for Instagram. 

How gorgeous is Peter?!

How gorgeous is Peter?!

Next up was another world premiere dessert... Apple Clouds. Oh there's some magic in this dish people... It's layers and layers of delicate flavours, on something like a chocolate crackle base. (But a totally grown-up chocolate crackle... Soooo good...) The Apple Cloud dessert includes an almond and liquorice frangipane, a milk sorbet, a vanilla panna cotta with a little lime zest, a caramelised tatin apple, the sable crumble, apple cider crème, AND a fragrant kefir lime and thyme foam. Again. I'd be happy to sit on the couch in my active wear, any night of the week with a big bowl of any of these elements. But together, it's some kind of alchemy. Adriano has a gift, in fact... he very well could be a genius. And I think we should be friends. I would be so happy to be his dessert guinea pig for the rest of my life. 

Genius at work attacking the KitchenAid with a blow torch (ohhh - THAT'S what I've been doing wrong!)

Genius at work attacking the KitchenAid with a blow torch
(ohhh - THAT'S what I've been doing wrong!)

Zumbo taking a photo of his food (we all do it!) - Look in the mirror - can you see his pic?

Zumbo taking a photo of his food (we all do it!) - Look in the mirror - can you see his pic?

An Apple Cloud - looking a little melty... does that mean I can eat it now?

An Apple Cloud - looking a little melty... does that mean I can eat it now?

Whilst conjuring his dessert magic, Melissa teased out a little of Adriano's story...
It all started in high school, he'd bake cakes to get himself out of trouble, his business started in his kitchen at home, and today Adriano has nine stores, employs over 150 people, he's working on his 4th book, and a line of kitchen appliances, and is currently hosting his own TV show - Zumbo's Just Desserts on Channel 7, (phew!!) with someone else we totally love... Rachel Khoo.

The Masterclass was deliciously inspirational. Zumbo is a man with a sweet tooth and a creative soul. He pushes flavours and ingredients sideways, and flips traditions upsidedown to create his visions of deliciousness. He's passionate about creativity and flavour and ain't about to quit sugar anytime soon. (A man after my heart.)

Lake House hosts regular Masterclasses at their Cooking School with renown chefs from all over the country. To find out who's coming to Daylesford next to spread a little cheffy inspo click here.
Follow Melissa's adventures in food at @fooderati on Instagram here.
And of course Adriano Zumbo is pretty much everywhere right now, go to zumbo.com.au to see what Mr. Macaron is doing next!

...And if you can 't quite conjure an Apple Cloud at home... there's always this box of love available at Coles...

I bought these purely for research ok? (....and the second box too.)

I bought these purely for research ok? (....and the second box too.)

- Kathy.  x

Sault + Gwendolynne. A match made in heaven.

Collaboration has to be one of our favourite words. When two like-minded people with equally fabulous gifts get together to join their creative forces... magic happens.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Jess and I were lucky enough to be invited to witness the collaborative awesomeness of two amazing creative women last month, Jodi Flockhart and Gwendolynne Burkin. Jodi is (of course) one of our lovely locals here in Daylesford. Jodi with partner Damien run Sault Restaurant. Sault is a popular wedding destination, with a beautiful restaurant and purpose built chapel overlooking the lake, set among picture perfect manicured grounds, including rows and rows of stunning lavender. In Autumn the property is seriously like out of a movie with vibrant autumn leaves, cute duckies on the lake and dusky sunsets...  We could totally move in. (Can we?)

Gwendolynne is one of Australia's foremost fashion designers. Her bridal designs are sensual, timeless and elegant, with an element of the ethereal. Her dresses are embellished with intricate beading, pearls and crystals, hinting at different historical eras, lending a grace and substance to each piece... Hello... stunning!

Helena and her shield of Autumn leaves.

Helena and her shield of Autumn leaves.

Jodi and Gwendolynne met on Instagram (we love this)! They admired each other's style and taste from afar, so when the time came for Gwendolynne to do a photo shoot with a new selection of dresses, Sault was the perfect venue. The property is stunning, with so many different locations for photography, (hint hint brides...) including hedges and formal French inspired gardens, stone pillars, lawns, the chapel, rows of lavender, and the poplar lined lake... *sigh*

Gwendolynne in the lavender... Hello!

Gwendolynne in the lavender... Hello!

Beautiful Jodi. Look at that detail!!

Beautiful Jodi. Look at that detail!!

Jodi and Gwendolynne have collaborated twice now. Once with the now famous summertime lavender shoot, and most recently in early April (when the Autumn leaves were at their flashy best) and Jess and I were invited along for the day to go behind the scenes. (SO EXCITING!)

FullSizeRender.jpg

Of course we didn't need to be asked twice.

Jobbo and Helena getting their model on...

Jobbo and Helena getting their model on...

The day threw the typical four seasons you get in Autumn... minus the rain (Thanks Mr El Niño) so the tone of the shoot throughout the day changed with dark clouds, bright sun, and a textbook sunset you couldn't have ordered if you tried.

Jodi shining bright like a diamond.

Jodi shining bright like a diamond.

Jodi was lucky enough to be a model for the day, donning all of Gwendolynne's dresses and posing in that delicious Autumn sunshine. Sault employee Helena was also treated to a day of super special dress-ups, and another lovely local, Jobbo (who helped to build the chapel) was called in to be a groom. Model Poet (Brazen Management) was there to lend her glamour to a few frocks as well .

Poet getting her game face on...

Poet getting her game face on...

FullSizeRender.jpg

Hair was styled by lovely locals Adam and Sophie at Daylesford's Class A Style and flowers were by another super talented Daylesfordian - Zara at Wootton & Nicholls.

Flowers by Wootton & Nicholls

You would imagine there'd be an entourage of photographers, stylists, runners, dress fluffers, a lighting rig, a catering truck and a cast of thousands to make this shoot happen, but no... Gwendolynne arrived at Sault with her super team of two, Madeline her pattern maker, and Grace her PA. The three of these amazingly professional and ace women came with storyboards, two cameras, a car loads of dresses and pins, and they were ready to go!

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

Gwendolynne and Grace neck deep in lavender papping the frocks.

Gwendolynne and Grace neck deep in lavender papping the frocks.

Gwendolynne has around 60 styles for brides to choose from in her Fitzroy boutique. The Sault shoot showcases some new lace styles, and some beautiful favourites. The shoot at Sault was fondly named the Lady of the Lake. Jodi was our intrepid model for this part of the shoot. As the sky turned a gentle lilac and deepened to pink, Jodi slipped off her gumboots and crept into the cool water of the lake, lantern in hand. The delicate lace of the train floated in the dark water, reflecting the pinks and blues of the darkening sky. It was so silent down by the lake at dusk. The images Gwendolynne and her team captured are so gentle and beautiful, haunting and elegant.

No yabbies nibbled on Jodi's toes thankfully!

No yabbies nibbled on Jodi's toes thankfully!

FullSizeRender.jpg

After such a long day of non stop fitting, styling, pinning, primping, organising, dress wrangling, directing, light managing, shooting, and coffee you'd think the girls would fall in a heap, but they were all smiles 'til the end.

IMG_2552.jpg

When a collaboration this effortless results in such beauty, we think it's a match made in heaven. Two clever women with shared passions for creating wedding day perfection.  Thank you so much for inviting us behind the scenes Jodi and Gwendolynne... Jess and I will be booking to to renew our vows... Now which dress to choose? 

FullSizeRender.jpg

If you're newly engaged and haven't made any plans yet... (or even if you have!) we know what we'd do... For more information on weddings at Sault take a look at their website, or give Jodi a call. To book an appointment at Gwendolynne's Fitzroy boutique, or to discover other Gwendolynne stockists go to her website here.

Magic.

Magic.

- Kathy.

 

 

Stonefields

stonefields.jpg

Last weekend Kathy and I had the most amazing day out at Paul Bangay's magnificent country estate, Stonefields. Over two days thousands of the garden loving public had the opportunity to visit and wander through this incredible display of craftsmanship all in aid of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. 

stonefieldsentrance.jpg

The weather could not have been kinder with crisp air and sparkling sunshine, it was a joy to behold as we ventured through those first gates into the White garden. Each area on the property was sectioned by meticulously clipped hedges creating intimate rooms to move through with so much to catch the eye you could have set up a chair for the day and just soaked it all in! Here's a little of what we loved...

bluebordersstonefields.jpg

That incredible sunlight couldn't be tamed, but it did create this pretty scene in the Blue Borders, a series of terraces leading down to the house framed on either side by these gorgeous garden beds.

tulipparterresstonefields.jpg

The Tulip Parterres, seriously my nails aren't as well manicured as these beautiful English box hedges. I can't even imagine what this becomes in Spring when the tulips arrive. Another open day please Mr.Bangay?

buxusballs.jpg

These buxus sempervirens balls are placed through out the gardens and are a signature feature of Bangay's work. 

rosegardenstonefields.jpg

One of my absolute favourites, the Rose Garden! This beautiful rambling floral display is breathtaking and whisked me away to Monet's gardens in Giverny with all it's romance. The colours were so rich and the sun so bright it was almost overwhelming in it's intensity. An absolute joy to behold!

rosegarden2stonefields.jpg

Can you believe the hotness of colour in these Dahlias? No filter here! And the lemons along the wall, so much detail!

maplesstonefields.jpg

Ok so it was only a matter of time before we started on about Autumn, but come on! I had been dreaming about these Maples before even arriving, in fact from the second Mr.Bangay posted these on his instagram account. You can have a look by clicking HERE

lowerpoolbordersstonefields.jpg

More beautiful borders full of Salvias and Penstemon, enough to make any English garden jealous!

poolstonefields.jpg

And STOP!....So stunning in it's symmetry and simplicity, plus the incredible view behind me that I can only imagine the serenity on late summer's afternoon, G&T in hand... just begging to do a bomb dive!...Cannonball!!! How my five year old didn't end up in here is a miracle, thank you pool gods!

stepsstonefields.jpg

Oh those steps, the attention to detail, the bowling green lawn, I can't even....

summerhousesstonefields.jpg

Time to find some shade? Then why not join me in the Summer Houses for some much needed respite with these way too cute and somewhat Dr.Suessie clematis?

woodlandwalkstonefields.jpg

Now back to Autumn, after dragging myself away from the splendour in the pool and taking a walk through the woodland, with it's cooler micro climate allowing an entirely different range of plantings including hellebores, hydrangeas and the biggest King Soloman Seal I've ever seen! 

applewalkstonefields.jpg

But my absolute favourite was this dovecote at the end of the Apple Walk. It's hard to believe that amongst all of the admiring horde it was almost peaceful in here, a stunning boulevard of clipped spheres and of course the beautiful apple trees. I'll take tea here please...how's the view?

windowstonefields.jpg

I apologise for the armada of photographs, but there were so many magical things to share with you it was hard to edit them out. An incredible experience I won't forget for a very long time as I'm sure many other visitors will agree was well worth it.

I want to pass on a huge thank you to Stephanie Alexander and her Kitchen Garden Foundation for putting on a wonderful weekend, hope you raised loads, you all worked tirelessly. Also to Paul Bangay and his team of clever gardeners for allowing all of us to descend on his magnificent property which is an incredible example of his work. And also to my Husband for secretly waiting in line to have a mountain of books signed by the aforementioned legends, Stephanie Alexander and Paul Bangay. They will be treasured forever!

For information on what plantings have been used I couldn't recommend more Paul Bangay's Guide to Plants and of course his new book The Garden at Stonefields, both of which can be found at www.paulbangay.com  Why not book a private tour, dates for 2016 can also be found on the website and would make a very special gift.

If you'd like to learn more about the amazing work at the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation why not check out their website at www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au

Jess x

Meanwhile in the Country #2

Oh my wordy it's been another massive month in the country, and you may suspect (and correctly so) that we really do make hay while the sun shines. It won't be long and we'll be in the depths of winter and the outdoor events will soon come to an end, so outside it is! Here's a little snapshot of what's been going on...

dufermierporkpies.jpg

Pork pies were the order of the day at our Daylesford Farmers Market, held on the first Saturday of the month. Angus Beaumont  at the Du Fermier Stall together with Annie Smithers sure know how to put on a beautiful spread. The charcuterie products are to die for, the pork pies were demolished for lunch and the donuts didn't even make it back to the car!

Daylesfordfarmersmarket.JPG

A beautiful bounty of goodies from the market, bread and donuts (trying to escape through the paper bag)from Annie Smithers, carrots from Adsum Farmhouse, Goldfields Farmhouse Cheese, Mt Franklin Estate Pinot Grigio and Mel's turkish delight.

cactusdaylesfordfarmersmarket.jpg

I'm nuts about cacti and succulents, and could not resist adding a few more to my growing collection, so cute. These babies are from Bacchus Marsh and can also be found at the Daylesford Farmers Market.

glenlyonfoodfayre.jpg

The next day it was off to visit the Glen Lyon Food Fayre. This year it was hosted under the mighty oaks and elms of the Glen Lyon Sports Reserve with spectacular weather and a fantastic group of local producers and live music to enjoy. We'll definitely be marking this one in the calendar for next year!

pulledporkrolls,jpg

Our pick of the day was the super juicy pulled pork rolls from Danny's Farm, we loved them so much we got one for the way home too! All was washed down with a lovely drop or three from Fontanella Winery which made good use of my souvenir glass.

chilloutfestivaldaylesford.jpg

March Long Weekend means just one thing in Daylesford...Chillout Festival! Australia's most famous country pride event is hosted in Daylesford over three days providing loads of fun for everyone. The utterly fabulous Miss Dolly Diamond was in attendance at the Street Parade! Always a treat to behold, and she really did keep all those Chantoozie fans in check, including my star struck sister!...it was 1988 all over again!

stpatricksdayeasttrentham.jpg

Then it was time to enjoy a different kind of event all together, the annual East Trentham St Patrick's Day March. I love it for it's genuine country generosity, encouraging all onlookers to join the march from East Trentham's Sacred Heart Church to the Pig and Whistle Hotel where all sorts of celtic entertainment and cuisine awaits the crowd. And who could not giggle at the near miss between the hay carrying ute and the local fire truck, only in the country! The cow's feed waits for no hundred plus strong throng of local Irish descendants!!!

eastereggnestcake.jpg

Yay to Easter! We love Easter and we didn't hold back from the usual death by chocolate! The Easter Egg nest cake was baked, topped and decorated and inhaled...now time to join a walking group! It was so worth it! Plus it's the perfect time to catch up with friends after a hectic first term. Here's the recipe if you'd like to give this a go, just click HERE!

noosalittlecove.jpg

School holidays were enjoyed north of two borders, returning to my home ground to catch the family in Noosa. It always feels like our last hit of vitamin D before winter. It was much enjoyed and the ice creams were definitely savoured! Just can't decide if Raspberry/Coconut or Mango/Coconut is the best combo? I'll keep testing..

lonesurfernoosa.jpg

We tried out surf lessons for the kids for the first time with Go Ride a Wave and it was an absolute hit and could not recommend it more. This little one though will have to wait till next year when she's six. Poor little tike had to watch from the sidelines...

autumnglory.jpg

Then it was time to come home and what a welcome Autumn gave us with our beautiful ornamental grape vines showing off in all their crimson glory! What better time for Kathy to launch our annual #battleoftheautumns over on Instagram, with some very funny trash talk between Canberra and Daylesford already. Both towns battling it out to take the crown for best in 'Autumn' show! 

Phew! What an amazing month, and it looks like April is shaping up to be just as busy but it really is the best time to head out and catch Autumn at it's best! Especially with visits to Paul Bangay's Stonefields open garden and Alla Wolf-Tasker's Regional Producers Day all on this weekend, Wow!

Jess x

Beef Bourguignon Pies

boeufbourguignonpies.jpg

We had one of those long weekend panics, after planning and hosting a fun dinner with friends on Good Friday and priding ourselves on all that frantic supermarket shopping with kids and keeping carpark rage at bay only to realise we hadn't actually planned any meals for the other three days. Luckily I have one of those MacGyver style Husbands who can look in the fridge or pantry and just whip up some last minute magic, makes me feel slightly inept but only for a few seconds as I 'help' him open a bottle of red wine which he absolutely needed for this recipe so it really was helping.

Now the truth is, we had Beef Bourguignon on Sunday Night and then we made the pies with the leftovers on Tuesday, always tastes better a day or two later. So I'll give you our recipe for the stew and then the tips for making into pies. This made enough for dinner for us, a family of five and then stretched out to a dozen pies as well, amazing and delicious! And yes the kids gobbled it up too!

Many Beef Bourguignon recipes will include bacon,  we just didn't have any in the fridge, so add if you'd like, but this was more about throwing dinner together. Just add 200 grams of bacon when frying off the onions.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of Olive OIl

30 grams Butter

1 Kg Rump roast cut into 2-3cm cubes (depends how much wine you've had)

Salt & Pepper for seasoning

2 tablespoons Plain Flour

10  Shallots

6 Garlic cloves (we love garlic! you can adjust but no less than 3)

2 Carrots peeled and sliced

1 Celery stalk diced

Red wine, (1 glass for the cook and the rest in the pot!)

Thyme

Bay leaf

200grams Button Mushrooms halved

Beef Stock

5 sheets of puff pastry (for the pies)

1 egg beaten for basting

Method for the Stew

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (160 fan forced)

Add Salt & Pepper to the flour and dust all of the beef evenly, this helps with browning and thickening the stew.

Heat the oil and butter in an enamel casserole dish (our excuse to crack out the precious Le Creusset) on a medium heat on the stove top.

Seal the beef in batches to brown off then remove and set aside

Fry off the shallots, whole garlic, celery and carrots in the pot until soft

Pop the beef back in and combine

Time to add the wine, bringing to the boil for 1-2 minutes

Add Thyme, Bay Leaf and some water to cover the beef

Return to simmer, cover and place in the oven for 1.5 hrs

Now to throw in the mushrooms, returning to the oven for 25-30 mins, removing the lid for the last 10 mins.

We love to have this with mashed potatoes and baby peas (petit pois if you want to go all frenchy). It's so good you'll be looking for crusty bread to wipe the plate! But don't eat it all remember we can now make those pies.

Method for the Pies

Make sure the oven is on at 200 degrees(180 degrees fan forced)

Cut 3 of the pastry sheets into quarters and mold these gently into a 12 cup greased muffin tray.

Fill each cup with about 2 tablespoons of the stew, I even mix in any leftover peas too.

Now using a large scone cutter, cut out 12 tops for your pies making sure to press or fold over the edges to seal.

You can get the mini cooks to cut out shapes from the left over pastry to decorate, just make sure to cut a hole or cross in the centre of the pie.

Now brush the pies with the beaten egg

Pop in the oven and bake for 25-30 mins until golden, just start checking at around 20 minute mark. 

My kids devoured these, scooping out the contents and then stuffing their greedy little faces with the pastry, so I guess we got something right! We'll work on their table manners later.

Bon Appetit! It just wouldn't be right not to say it!

 

Jess x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Egg Nest Cake

eastereggnestcake.jpg

Easter is the best festival for getting your bake on. I love the fact that of all the festivals we celebrate this one is the most low key and really is about time with our families. The added bonus being that most of us can swing four days off which means loads of time for slapping together a cake or three and eating your weight in chocolate!!! What's not to love?

Every year I endeavour to bake something special, last year was about filling tins full of easter egg cookies, you can check them out HERE We even packed them in the suitcase to go to the beach. But this year I've headed back to an old favourite that is always a showstopper for the kids and the grown ups.

Nigella's Easter Egg Nest Cake is chocolate perfection, made mainly with eggs it's light and topped with luscious whipped chocolate cream and decorated with M&M speckled eggs (our favourite) or mini chocolate eggs. My kids thought it would be fun to crumble Cadbury Flake bars around the base to look like a real nest, whatever takes your fancy it's all good!

If you don't believe me, or you're utterly convinced that you must make this now, then click HERE I won't get between you and chocolate nirvana. It is Easter after all, time to bow down at the altar of chocolate.

Have a wonderful Easter Everybunny! (sorry couldn't resist!)

Jess x

Best Laid Autumn Plans

bestlaidautumnplans.jpg

The first few weeks of Autumn has been a great reminder of how much I love this season. After the hustle and bustle of Summer with it's festive events, bountiful beach time, hot nights and seemingly endless social events I've felt somewhat relieved that the days are shortening and embracing some quiet time to reflect and make some plans. Here's what I have in mind so far....

Wombat Hill Nursery has a tempting range in already, so much potential waiting to grow!

Wombat Hill Nursery has a tempting range in already, so much potential waiting to grow!

Planting for Spring is a beautiful way to celebrate the seasons in a really literal sense. The entire process of those earthy, onion-like bulbs lying dormant through Autumn, harnessing their life force during Winter, to burst forth in Spring is almost alchemic. Spring Bulbs emerging from damp muddy soil can really give you something to look forward to after a long, wet and bone-achingly cold Winter. Plus I've always dreamed of a driveway lined with daffodils...Heaven!

Really hoping The Trentham Collective are bringing back this beef stew for the cooler months! Unbelievable!

Really hoping The Trentham Collective are bringing back this beef stew for the cooler months! Unbelievable!

Now that the temperature is starting to drop it makes cooking much more enjoyable, all those amazing slow cooked dinners are just begging to be prepared. Osso Bucco is one of our favourites and we can never wait to crack open some big ballsy Cab Savs to serve alongside.

Soul Warming Noir Drinking Chocolate from Grounded Pleasures

Soul Warming Noir Drinking Chocolate from Grounded Pleasures

The next Autumnal treat to start enjoying again is hot chocolate, and boy can we put away litres of that liquid heaven. Surely anytime is a good time for marshmallows, am I right?...Grounded Pleasures in Ballarat has an amazing range of drinking chocolates and chai to warm us up. I'll be trying out the Noir dark drinking chocolate or maybe the chilli, too many choices! You can discover all of their range by clicking HERE

Pretty Deadly!

Pretty Deadly!

Cool, damp weather also brings other gifts, some are definitely only for looking at but are spectacular all the same. Might be time to book into one of Alison Pouliot's very popular Fungus Workshops or Forays into the Forest to learn how to identify all these amazing mushrooms. You can find out more by clicking HERE

Time to get started?...

Time to get started?...

Now that the guilt of being outside in the sun has passed, we can start cosying up in our favourite chair with a great book by the fire. Or if you're like me you may have a growing pile of great books and mags next to the bed just begging for a cold, wet morning to catch up. What are you reading?...I'm always perusing Readings Bookshop's review lists, you can too by clicking HERE

Hill Street in Daylesford, in all it's glory.

Hill Street in Daylesford, in all it's glory.

But by far and away it's the changes in our surrounds that I enjoy the most. The magic explosion of colour, seeing just how vivid the leaves will become just before they drop for another year. The crispness in the air of an early morning brings with it the first signs of this gorgeous season, and I can't wait! So much to look forward to, bring it on!

Jess x

Upside Down Orange Cake

upsidedownorangecake.jpg

How many wrinkly oranges have you got in your fruit bowl? Over ripe fruit is something we excel at in the Gold Dust household and I try my best to avoid it finding it's way to the  compost bucket. So my latest crusade was to find a recipe for Orange cake and this one from Donna Hay's Seasons Cookbook is a cracker! I may have been enticed by that golden, syrupy, candied orange topping as well. It was Donna Hay easy peasy so this recipe is for everyone, and so pretty you'll have no problems giving it away or devouring it yourself! 

Here's what you'll need:-

Topping*

220g Caster Sugar

125ml Water

1 Vanilla Bean (split & scrape out seeds)

2 Oranges (cut into thin slices)

For the Cake

4 Eggs

220g Caster Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

150g Self Raising Flour

150g Butter (melted)

120g Almond Meal

What to do:-

 

Preheat the oven to 160C.

Start with the topping by placing the sugar, water and vanilla bean plus seeds into a 2.5 litre capacity nonstick ovenproof fry pan over a medium heat. Stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add the orange slices simmering for 10-15 minutes until soft. Then remove the pan from the heat and put aside to cool.

Now it's time to pop the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 8-10 minutes until it's pale, fluffy and tripled in size. Just keep on beating! Sift the flour over the egg mixture, folding through gently. Follow with the butter and almond meal also folding gently.

Time to pour the cake batter over those gloriously sticky oranges and pop in the oven, baking for 40-45 minutes. Just test with a skewer, making sure it comes out clean. Then turn out carefully onto a platter to serve right away. A good dollop of double cream wouldn't go astray here either!

I also like to throw a cinnamon stick in with the oranges while they are softening just for added spice, just remember to remove before the cake batter goes in. Plus a little orange zest could add some extra punch to the cake batter too.

Enjoy!

Jess x

 

 

Meanwhile in the Country #1

gioiamiacafe.jpg

They say life moves slower in the country...well I want to meet 'they' because the last week has been jam packed! All of our own doing, and much enjoyed, but jam packed all the same! The best bit is always finding new things, and we certainly enjoyed Gioia Mia cafe & pasticceria in South Melbourne on our visit last weekend. I'm an avocado addict, so I'll always order it if it's on the menu, especially now the season is pretty much over. The best part was leaving with the custard filled pastries, and yes there's a reason there's no photo...sorry I inhaled it in the car! So, so decadently divine!

Avocado breakfast heaven

Avocado breakfast heaven

Then this happened...I can't describe my initial thoughts on attending the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, but I can tell you what I thought after. Wow! Completely blown away, I'll never declare I'm underage to watch a marching band extravaganza ever again. I've always had a soft spot for bagpipes, but seriously I think I had tears in my eyes within 0.3 seconds of Amazing Grace, come on!

Bagpipes and fireworks, holy sporran!

Bagpipes and fireworks, holy sporran!

My next highlight, being the avid bread lover that I am, was the re-opening of RedBeard Historic Bakery. The guys there deserve every minute of their well earned break over Summer, but I tell you there is no one more appreciative of your return, along with every other school mum worth their weight in sourdough. I literally could not wipe the smile or melted butter off my face, happiness! Thank you for being back in my life xxx

RedBeard Historic Bakery 

RedBeard Historic Bakery 

Checking out our local markets was next on the agenda. We've only been at the new farm for four months but could not believe we hadn't dropped in sooner. Glenlyon Farmers Markets are on the third Saturday of the month, they might be small but they are definitely punching above their weight. Loads of fresh produce and friendly faces, plus lots of introductions to new neighbours. And coffee is only a hop, skip and a jump away at The Glenlyon General Store.

Glenlyon Farmers Market

Glenlyon Farmers Market

Oh that's just a fresh sugary donut with real jam on top from the Glenlyon Shire Hall kitchen, move along, nothing to see here...but crisp, crunchy, sweet goodness!!!!

Cronuts ain't got nothing on this!

Cronuts ain't got nothing on this!

And here's our plunder. Mr GoldDust is already planning burger night just so he can try out those Pickles. Best in the land they say...can hardly wait!

glenlyonfarmersmarketproduce.jpg

Then just when we couldn't get enough dough in our diet we popped over to Ballarat. The Forge Pizzeria in Armstrong Street is a family favourite and we've had many lunches here with specials friends. Perfect for kids too, with a kid's menu and a great activity area at the back, but it's the open kitchen that keeps them entertained. The bonus being my favourite treasure trove, Lark Store is practically next door...winning!

It's a Shaw thing!

It's a Shaw thing!

After an amazing couple of weeks I was also reminded that our favourite season is just about upon us and Mother Nature has given us a glorious glimpse of what's ahead...

The ornamental vines are well on their way to crimson splendour.

The ornamental vines are well on their way to crimson splendour.

Summer it's been great, and I'll pine for you during the depths of Winter but right now I can't wait for Autumn. Bring it on you gorgeous season you!

Let the Battle of the Autumns begin....

Jess x

We Heart Flowers: Lavender

Sault Restaurant, Daylesford, so beautiful.

Sault Restaurant, Daylesford, so beautiful.

As we come to the end of another glorious Summer I thought how could I have overlooked the one flower we have here in abundance, Lavender! Most local gardens will have this hardy plant featuring somewhere along pathways, gates and fences, just waiting to be brushed against, setting free it's memory igniting fragrance. We even have it next to our trusty Hills Hoist, cleverly perfuming our linen as it dries in the breeze. 

Though Lavender has a tendency to lend itself to sensible house keeping tips handed down by Nanna, I know I have lavender muslin bags and linen hangers to keep my closet fresh. But once you see it growing in the field, great swathes of vivid purple, it definitely packs some majestic punch of it's own.

My own personal struggle with Francophilia, has meant dealing with hedonistic dreams of lavender fields, Peter Mayle style lazy lunches and a few too many cheeky chablis. So it was with great excitement that we moved to Daylesford to be spoilt with two Lavender farms, Sault Restaurant and Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm, both serving food and wine and me free to saunter about in my Breton stripes.

Now though, I am the proud owner of two of my very own Lavender rows, albeit in my garden, there'll be more in years to come, but it's a start! So until they become photo ready I'll share a few more ideas of how to use and enjoy this handy little bloom...

Honey Lavender Macarons, recipe via www.hintofvanillablog.com

Simple but beautiful centrepieces, via www.whimsicalwonderlandweddings.com

The most stunning wedding details from June Bug Weddings, for more click HERE it's a must see!

Blueberry Lavender Fizz, recipe via www.beardandbonnet.com what's not to love

IMG_8468.jpg

And finally, just a little more gorgeousness from Sault Restaurant and that incredible Gwendolynne dress!

Jess x

For more ideas on how to use Lavender you can check out our Pinterest page by clicking HERE

Keep a look out for our upcoming feature on Sault Restaurant, Daylesford on the blog, it's such a local stunner, not to be missed!

 

Kale Pesto

We love Pesto at our house! My kids can't get enough of this stuff! I have one in particular that will eat the same meal over and over at any time of the day. Seriously some nights I wonder if green twirly whirlies, (pesto spiral pasta) are really giving her what she needs, but she hoovers the lot so who am I to argue. So what if she's starting to resemble Elphaba and has a natural ability to ward off vampires, we love to sing and we weren't keen on Twilight anyway...

So that said, here's a really simple recipe for Kale Pesto, you can use basil for a traditional pesto just leave out the lemon. I was just keen to use all the Kale from my Farm Gate haul last week. 

Ingredients

6 Kale leaves, storks removed (super easy, just close your fist around base and slide down to the end)

85g Pine Nuts or Walnuts, toasted

85g Parmesan grated

3 Garlic Cloves crushed

150ml Olive Oil

Zest & Juice of one Lemon

Method

Love this bit, literally throw all the ingredients into a food processor and whiz until smooth and Voila! Just taste test for seasoning then you're ready to G-O! 

Now it's just up to you and your imagination as to how you want to use it. I love it on Pasta, Bruschetta, hot baby potatoes and even Salmon.  Plus having a jar of pesto in fridge means there's alway a bowl of green twirly whirlies ready to go!

Enjoy!

Jess x

If you'd like to see where I picked up my beautiful Kale, click HERE.

 

 

Inside Farm Gate

Last weekend we were blessed with stunning weather, you know the kind where you actually feel really guilty if you're not outside basking in nature's glory. So with that in mind a Sunday drive was in order, well it may have been a children's party we were invited to but my conscience was clear regardless.

My reward? Finding this gorgeous Farm Gate Shop at Railway Farm, just outside Trentham. Set up and run by local farmers Allison and Denis Walsh, it was stocked full with their beautiful produce, lovingly displayed and ready to purchase. How could I resist, I'm such a good consumer! Here's what I found....

Bunting, chalk board art, and a packing pallet repurposed into a herb stand, a pinterest dream come true and seriously cute! I even managed a quick chat with Denis and the kids full of cheeky smiles as they filled up the buckets with fresh kale from farm. Completely idyllic!

I love this idea, vintage teaspoons with the Laurel Jam. That one on the left came home with me! So good I've put it on toast, cheese and scones. The kids on the other hand have literally just scooped it out with the aforementioned spoon, so I guess I'm telling you it's pretty good.

So green and so fresh I've made up a huge batch of Kale Pesto for a Pasta dinner, recipe coming next week!

And finally these sweet sweet blackberries didn't even make it home, at least they distracted her from the jam which is still safe for now in the fridge though it's lifespan maybe limited...

So next time you're out Sunday driving and spot one of these, pull over! You just never know what local joys you might find, we've been enjoying our spoils all week! If you're headed our way you can find many roadside stalls full of amazing local produce, this one can be found on the Trentham-Tylden Rd just before the Daylesford turn off.

Have a great weekend!

Jess x

 

We Heart Flowers: Cosmos

Tuscan Garden by Arabella Lennox-Boyd via Pinterest

Tuscan Garden by Arabella Lennox-Boyd via Pinterest

The romance of flower filled meadows is truly magical, and maybe my love of watching a few too many Jane Austen movies maybe to blame...serious chick flick territory here guys sorry! And no I wasn't offended in any way by the movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, to be honest the more the merrier, and while you're at it add in all the Bronte Sisters with a side of Thomas Hardy and I'm a happy girl! So if Mr.GDD wants to do a 'Darcy' and throw himself into Lake Daylesford fully clothed, in period costume of course, who am I to argue?...That gives me an idea...another time maybe!

So with this in mind and with Valentine's Day beating down on us, it's the perfect time to celebrate the stunning cosmos flower. Floppy, sweet and full of cheery colour it's not hard to imagine why so many of us want garden paths and meadow lanes filled with them. Part of the Daisy family they are incredibly hardy though not keen on a hard frost (but neither am I), and are self seeding so you'll be able to enjoy them over and over.

Hello May Magazine's stunning capture from a magical wedding on the NSW south coast see more HERE

Hello May Magazine's stunning capture from a magical wedding on the NSW south coast see more HERE

It's hard not to smile, is this not the most romantic bouquet? All those rosy hues are just bursting to add joy to someone's special day...

 No need to fuss over elaborate arrangements though either, throw them together in a group of glass vases or wrapped in brown paper and it will certainly enhance its 'just picked' wildflower appeal. Truly Romantic...

Almost as romantic as this?...go on you know you want to... 

Happy Valentine's Day to all the romantics out there.

Jess x

More stunning Cosmos ideas to enjoy over on our We Heart Flowers Pinterest board just by clicking HERE



Pavlova Ice Blocks

When Summer arrives and those gorgeous berries start appearing in our farmshops, markets and roadside stalls, we always start planning the first Pavlova bake. The Pav recipe is held in such high esteem in our house that Stephanie Alexander's is the only one we'll use, forever marked with ribbon and stained with egg whites and sugar. You know how it goes, if it ain't broke....

But over the holidays, and as we near our national day to celebrate all things Aussie I thought 'Crikey I've got an idea'!!! Actually I've done nothing new except mix two of our favourite desserts together, Pavlova and Ice-cream. Not exactly groundbreaking but alchemy all the same. So here's how I made these gorgeous babies, and I can attest there was enough to put back in a tub for later when the kids aren't around, because these luscious ice lollies won't last, I promise!

Ingredients

250g frozen or fresh berries ( I used a mix of blackberries, Blueberries & Raspberries)

1/4 cup Castor Sugar

1 x 1 Litre of good Vanilla Ice cream

3 Passionfruits

12 Meringues* (use store bought if pressed for time)

Method

1. Start by popping the berries and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat to dissolve the sugar, once dissolved bring to the boil for a few minutes and put aside to cool. 

2. Scoop out the ice cream into an electric mixer and beat until soft.

3. Remove the passionfruit pulp and fold through the ice cream.

4. Crush meringue over the ice cream and fold through, but don't crush too small you want some crunchy bits in there!

5. Finally, assemble the ice blocks by popping two teaspoons of the cool berry mixture into the ice block moulds followed by the pavlova & passionfruit ice cream and place in the freezer. I found it was best to leave them overnight but they will be ready in about 3 hours. If you can wait that long! 

You could easily make 12 ice blocks with this much, but I only made six so I could keep the rest for an easy dessert, scooped into glasses, swirls of berry sauce and extra crushed meringues on top! 

 

* If you'd like to make your own meringues as I did, I always swear by Stephanie Alexander's Pavlova recipe which you'll find by clicking HERE. Instead of using the classic meringue recipe which is just egg whites and sugar, I find the pavlova recipe always guarantees that gorgeous chewy texture with her addition of vinegar and cornflour. After you turn down the oven from 180 to 150 degrees just bake for 45 mins.

 

Happy Holidays

IMG_7974.JPG

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year break. We certainly did, after what seemed like an extraordinarily manic end to last year. So the prospect of escaping north to the relatives was a little light at the end of an excruciatingly long tunnel. Fun, busy Christmas fun, but still fun. Being Queensland defectors we do have a sweet pay off, visiting the tropics for holidays and the kids were really looking forward to loads of pool time, as were we. So here's a little of what we got up to in Townsville, Queensland...

burdekincane.jpg

Christmas in the Burdekin how could I not snap the cane fields, especially with that whole 'first full moon on Christmas day since 1977' thing. The pressure!

IMG_7953.JPG

The Water Park, you won't need to search it out. On any hot day (everyday), half the population under 15yrs will be here on the Strand. We had to circle the round-a-bout multiple times just to see the bucket empty...again and again!

The main component of every meal, what's not to love? Mango for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner!..Ooh and Dessert, mango ice-cream!!!

Why do I hear the Beach Boys 'Surfin' USA' every time I see this photo. So funny, it was like a gunfight at the O.K Corral everyday trying to get these through the pool gate.

This is my youngest's new photo pose called 'Ice-cream Head', apparently it's the new Blue Steel. I'm sure it'll be huge in Norway...

The Strand! My favourite place to stroll, be, breath, anything! Or running if you're really keen, especially if it's 32degrees and 90% humidity. Crazy fit people I take my hat off to you, then totally talk behind your back after you pass about your amazing guns and show-offy pace!

magneticisland.jpg

Magnetic Island was a great day trip, I think the kids enjoyed the boat over as much as the beach time, fish&chips, ice-cream. Yes we ate a lot of ice-cream, did I tell you there was a Gelatissimo opposite the hotel? 

rockpooltownsville.jpg

The Rockpool on the Strand, filled with sea water without the jellyfish and waves, what's not to love. Plus there's more fish&chips and ice-cream. I'm seeing a pattern...and the reason my jeans don't fit!

Then it was time for Champagne and Glowsticks! And maybe a little kiss! Two crashed and burned after the 9pm fireworks but one little monkey made it to midnight with two very tired parents. Happy New Year!

flyinghome.jpg

So then it was time to come home, boo! That said, it was a wonderful break from the school routine, which we all enjoyed. Now it's time to start making new plans for a new year, hope you're feeling ready for a fresh start too. See you soon.

Jess x

We Heart Flowers: Go Native

Just a few weeks ago I was completely enraptured with the smell of fresh pine after the Christmas tree was installed, now its the sweet scent of gum leaves greeting me in the morning and I'm loving it!

This week I spotted this incredible Christmas wreath posted on Instagram by a dear friend, absolute Australian native flower perfection! Our gorgeous natives often get brushed aside for those showy European types and yes I've fallen under their spell at times too. All drama, well fragranced, great accent what's not to love, and the flowers are nice too...oops! 

Madelene Sutton from Flower Heaven Trentham is the genius behind this festive Aussie wreath. She's a local girl and when I say local I mean fifth generation (at least), which is REAL local and she has the most stunning Instagram account collecting images of her flower foraging work. You can check it all out by clicking here. Once you see it you'll understand why you have to be 'on the list' to get one of those incredible wreaths.

Madelene's work was a great reminder to me of what is literally right outside our doors, in our gardens, on our nature strips and in our parks (just not the national park as there might be a nasty fine with that fresh bouquet of Callistemons).

Flowering Eucalypts, you can't beat that colour!

My Joost Bakker moment...Round Gum Leaf

Seriously it was such a revelation to me, yesterday I toured (and raided, thank you Kylie) a lovely friend's garden. Today I jumped in the car with a pair of secateurs, god that sounds really dangerous, and went foraging for Round Gum leaves on the side of the road. Who am I?...Joost Bakker?...Come on!

Leucadendron 

Callistemon fruits

Now I'm not going to try and recreate the masterpiece by Madelene, but I have stuffed every vase I have and am now making plans to add a few Aussie babes to my new garden. There'll be no better way to decorate my Christmas table. And with Summer getting a pretty dire forecast, I'm thinking those tough locals might have a better chance in the sun than those english roses. Though what is it they say about Englishman and the midday sun?...hmm

Ok so I've snuck in a cheeky South African, technically still an Antipodean??? Pin Cushion flower

Bush Mint or Round leaf mint, it smells devine!

Many thanks to Wombat Hill Nursery for identifying my finds and to my lovely friends Kat, for the wreath photo (lucky girl, she's on the list) and Kylie for letting me take some 'samples' from her garden.

Cheers and have a Merry Bush Christmas

Jess xxx

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

I totally love winning stuff.

Not that I'm AT ALL a competitive person... just lust love prizes. I remember as a kid totally loving If The Price is Right with Ian Turpie... I just loved that showcase... higher... lower... and who COULD EVER GUESS how much that brown corduroy lounge suite would be...

And what a buzz when someone had the chance to win a newww caaar!

IT'S A NEWWW CAAAR!! .... A Datsun Bluebird no less... bless.

I like to enter a few competitions here and there...  and I've even been lucky enough to win a few ace prizes along the way... (like that time when I won a car.... No, actually, for real. I'll tell you about that another time!)

It is just so great when you win a prize! So we thought it was about time to host our first competition...

We love Lark Store in Ballarat... It's a seriously awesome retail space... (both online, and the bricks and mortar store at 30 Armstrong Street North, Ballarat). Allison sources the most amazing, ace, hilarious, gorgeous and iconic international and local finds, as well as really fun things, seasonal surprises and colourful designer things you'll totally die for. We were rapt she offered to help us host our first give away! (Yay!! Thanks Allison!!) x

The lovely Lark store in Ballarat! Do pop in and visit some time... it's a bit totally gorgeous! x Pic sourced from @Larkstore on Instagram... Go and join their 37.5K other wonderful followers here.

The lovely Lark store in Ballarat! Do pop in and visit some time... it's a bit totally gorgeous! x
Pic sourced from @Larkstore on Instagram... Go and join their 37.5K other wonderful followers here.

We are a bit nuts about Instagram - so we hosted our little comp on our Insta page, where one lucky winner won a $200 Lark gift voucher... so good!!

IMG_8385.JPG

Our winner was Kate @thetravellingfamilycircus who also happens to have a rather amazing Instagram account too! (Lots of wanderlust inducing travel photography!)

We just loved hosting a competition! It was exciting and fun for us too! We hope to host more fun comps in the future! If you have something you'd like to give away via our Instagram/Blog or Facebook page we'd love to chat! Drop us an email at golddustdays@gmail.com Yay!!

 x x Kathy & Jesse.
 

Watermelon Salad

There's a reason Justine Clarke wrote a song about Watermelon, it's just so good...but in a salad? I know it sounds crazy but remember all those Asian cooking shows that teach us about balance, Sweet, Sour, Salty, Hot!

It's no secret that I love Nigella Lawson, and when I first tried this, almost 8 years ago now, I thought I'd struck gastronomic gold! The combination of crisp, sweet watermelon with the salty goodness of olives and feta all tossed in with fresh mint and lime juice just works. I've served this up with all sorts of dishes, like a slow cooked lamb just last week. I promise you there will be no leftovers either, everyone else will be surprised by the combination too.

So if you're looking for Christmas or Boxing Day menu inspiration I couldn't think of anything more perfect to devour on a beautiful summer day, even the colours scream 'Festive'. You can find the recipe by clicking here

Personal tip: I like to use Danish feta just for its crumbly, creamy consistency and I only had green olives in the fridge for the picture above, black really is the best. But that wasn't getting in the way of me and this salad!

Merry Christmas!

Jess x

I Heart Oprah.

You know what Oprah has never done?

She has never officiated a wheelbarrow relay.

I, on the other hand, HAVE... and I was doing exactly that (at my daughters' school in the Kitchen Garden Olympics no less) when the call came through to say that I had been invited to see Oprah Winfrey in An Evening With Oprah - in Melbourne last Wednesday night.

High stakes in the end-of-year Kitchen Garden Olympic Wheelbarrow races!

High stakes in the end-of-year Kitchen Garden Olympic Wheelbarrow races!

A gorgeous friend had won tickets in a competition, and limousine transfers to the show (from Geelong, a sweet, hour-long ride with champagne all the way) - Actually I would've even been happy with just that bit, Oprah was just the (sparkly coral coloured) icing on this random Wednesday night cake.)

How's a wheelbarrow relay judge supposed to focus on the task at hand when you have Oprah all up in your head?! Needless to say, the winning team might've possibly missed a slalom turn, but I think we can hold Oprah responsible for that.

Champagne + Friends + Limo + Warm Summer Evening + Night Off + Oprah = !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Champagne + Friends + Limo + Warm Summer Evening + Night Off + Oprah = !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, I have to admit - I walked up those stairs into Rod Laver Arena with zero expectations (and a head full of champagne) so I was a willing receptacle for any little pearls of wisdom Oprah wanted to throw my way. And throw them she did, and I actually managed to catch a few in my slightly tipsy receptacle.

Did I mention we were in Upper Row FF???  (that stands for eFfing Far away)

Did I mention we were in Upper Row FF???  (that stands for eFfing Far away)

She hit the stage to rapturous applause from her adoring audience with a glorious HELLO MELBOOOOOURNE (a totally great Oprah moment). From that moment Ms Winfrey had us on the edge of our uncomfortable plastic seats - like eager seagulls waiting for a chip to be flung our way.

She told the story of her life, and the lessons she has learned along the way, all wrapped up in a super-slick professional package and delivered to perfection by the master of presenting. She was engaging, funny, sensitive, encouraging, generous, moving and glamourous, and completely awesome in her Outstanding Shiny American Oprahness. She was here to deliver the motivation and inspiration to the masses and she dished it out in buckets.

And we Lapped. It. Up.

There was a lot of LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE stuff... a lot of TURN UP THE VOLUME IN YOUR LIFE stuff and so much LOOKING WITHIN TO YOUR SPIRITUAL SELF TO FIND YOUR SUPREME MOMENT OF DESTINY stuff. Phew!!

It was all BIG stuff for a Wednesday night with a head full of champers.

Dishing out the pearls... - AND DIAMONDS ......Check out that RING!  (We were being blinded by it in Upper Row FF!)

Dishing out the pearls... - AND DIAMONDS ......Check out that RING!  (We were being blinded by it in Upper Row FF!)

We laughed at her goose story - the one when Steadman was late for dinner... (mental note, never be late for dinner with Oprah). We cried at the collective awesomeness of all the women in the room (and the three blokes - kudos to you fellas), and we swore we'd EXUDE POSITIVE ENERGY, CHOOSE LOVE, WRITE GRATITUDE JOURNALS and make a place to BE STILL AND MEDITATE AND LISTEN TO OUR INNER THOUGHTS AND HONOUR OUR SPIRITUAL SELVES.

There were some pretty tidy life lessons in there for someone who does not listen to those inner voices that tend to YELL at me sometimes and I squish them back down (oops, sorry inner voices) - I shall be sitting under a tree with my phone on silent and listening to whatcha got from now on. Pinkie Promise to the Universe.

This is Oprah getting cross at me for not listening to my inner voices... (It's a photo of the screen... sorry about the pixels)

This is Oprah getting cross at me for not listening to my inner voices...

(It's a photo of the screen... sorry about the pixels)

One of her wisdoms that resonated for me was acknowledging all the common threads that have been present throughout your whole life, and somehow weaving those threads into some sort of awesome best life. (Oprah said it better, AND she had pretty graphics and a floor length sequinned dress. - I'm on the couch in something from Target.)

I have some pretty weird common threads, (not exactly sure how I'll bring them all together...) but a big long chunky thread (more like a rope) is writing. I have always written stuff. I used to write to the local paper when I was a little kid, I had more than 40 penfriends throughout my childhood and teen years - from all over the world. I'd write (and receive) a letter a day... (and I'm still Facebook friends with a couple of them!)
Naturally, I became a professional writer, I have been employed to write stuff now for nearly 20 years. I know I will write my whole life.

So perhaps I should write a letter to Oprah? I'm sure she'd like an Aussie penpal. I'm sure she'd have time to put pen to paper as she sits under her oak trees on her estate after her daily meditation.

If I do it I'll let you know.

But for now, I'm off to live my best life... after I've cleaned out the guinea pig hutch, in my Target trackies.

x Kathy.

 

 

 

 

 

Shop Your Lovely Locals

Frances Pilley

Frances Pilley

Well it's fair to say two weeks out from Christmas that we are all feeling the pressure to get that list ticked off ASAP! It can seem easy to overlook our lovely local shops and small business owners to go to the big shops to knock it all over in one horrific hit, which in itself takes weeks to recover from the trauma of aggressive parking, aggressive shoppers and aggressive marketing! Not very nice and not very merry.

But our local stores can offer something else which the big stores can't, a unique experience, special products and wonderful friendly service and advice. On top of that you are giving back to a local family who is working really hard to make a living from something they love too.

Manteau Noir

Manteau Noir

Last night I walked along our lovely street, looking at shop windows at night really is magical, and it was a great reminder of all the beautiful products that are on offer. 

So many treats for loved ones or maybe just for you...

Harry and Me

Harry and Me

Ok just for me...

Ecasa

Ecasa

Spreading Christmas cheer...so sweet!

Daylesford Flightplan

Daylesford Flightplan

Stop the clock, a holiday anyone? Yes Please, over here!

Debbie Moses

Debbie Moses

A little more sparkle to give...I'd be happy in this gilded cage

Bromley & Co

Bromley & Co

Or maybe something extra special from Mr Bromley?...hint, hint!

So do check out your lovely local stores, artisans and producers, this was just a few, they have so much more to offer than you might expect. And don't forget your butchers, bakers and local greengrocers they come in pretty handy once you've finished the gift buying and need to start planning Christmas lunch!

Merry Christmas Shopping!

Jesse x