Sunday, December 27, 2015

Raspberry, Nougat and Rosewater Parfait

Merry Christmas everyone!! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and best wishes to you all for the New Year to come.

I don't know where I originally found the recipe for this delicious summer dessert, but it has become a staple at Christmas time in my household. This parfait not only looks and tastes amazing, it is a wonderful recipe for entertaining as it comes together in just minutes and can be made well ahead of time.

This recipe makes two loaf dishes of parfait, enough for 12-16 people, but the recipe can easily be halved if you only want to make one dish.

Raspberry, Nougat and Rosewater Parfait

1 kg (4 1/2 cups)  ricotta
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 tbsp rosewater
600 ml thickened cream
100 g toasted almonds, chopped
300 g crunchy nougat, chopped
300 g frozen raspberries
Fresh raspberries, Pashmak (Persian fairy floss), edible pearls and edible flowers, to serve

  • Line 2 14cm x 21cm with baking paper to cover the base and up the long sides at least 5 cm 
  • Blend ricotta, sugar and rosewater until smooth. Whip cream until soft peaks form.
  • Combine ricotta mixture with nuts and nougat. Fold in the whipped cream and then gently fold in the raspberries.
  • Divide into prepared loaf tins, smooth top, then cover with foil.
  • Freeze until firm.
Half an hour before serving, place in fridge to soften slightly, before turning out onto serving platter. Decorate with fresh berries, pashmak (Persian fairy floss) and edible pearls and flowers as in the pic above, or drizzle with berry or chocolate sauce.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Figgy Pudding Bircher Muesli

We are now in the home stretch, and Christmas is just around the corner. If you need a break from all of the rich and heavy foods, but still want to indulge in some festive flavour, then this healthy Figgy Pudding Bircher Muesli will surely do the trick! Sharing all of the delightful Christmas spices, but none of the "baddies", this make-ahead dish lasts up to a week in the fridge, can be doubled or tripled in quantity, and would also be good for a Christmas brunch buffet spread.

Christmas Figgy Pudding Bircher Muesli

250g natural (untoasted) muesli - I used half a packet of Carmen's Bircher Muesli
1 cup natural Greek yoghurt
3/4 cup apple juice
3/4 cup milk of choice - I use unsweetened almond/cashew milk
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp molasses
3 dried figs, chopped
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
chopped fresh fruit of choice - I used grated apple and chopped fresh figs this time

  1. Combine all ingredients except fresh fruit in a medium size mixing bowl, then cover and leave in fridge overnight. I mix and store in a 6 cup pyrex glass storage container to minimize the dishes!
  2. The next morning, serve into individual bowls, and add in chopped fresh fruit of choice. You may like to stir in a bit more milk if it has thickened up too much for your taste. 
  3. Without the fresh fruit, it will last up to a week in the fridge.
 Serves 4-6

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Winter Holiday Capsule Wardrobe Planning

These holidays we are off to Japan, going on our first family holiday to a cold location. All of our previous holidays have been to hot tropical locations, which made it so easy to pack lightly, so I have found planning this holiday capsule wardrobe more problematic than I am used too. Just the type of items needed for a winter sojourn mean less compact luggage by their very nature. This is coupled with the fact that despite us having a "winter" season, a Perth winter's temps are often around the temperatures that many European locales experience in their summers!! So, I have had to buy a lot of items specific to this trip, such as thermals, proper winter coats, and hats, gloves and scarves.

Like any capsule wardrobe, it is helpful to start with a colour palette, and then to carefully consider each item to make sure that it can work in many different outfits. For a holiday wardrobe, I like to pack darker colours, as they tend to show dirt and grime much less, which will give you much more wear out of your items that don't need to be laundered each day.

For this trip, we are going to Tokyo for a week, and then up to Sapporo for the week of skiing. Since for the first part of the trip I will be in a major cosmopolitan city, I decided to pack a monochrome wardrobe of black and grey, which is a) not out of my comfort zone, b) will look appropriate, and c) will be practical. For the second week skiing I would have loved to be in the snow in a array of winter whites, like this:
but, while I adore the look, shades of white are just not going to work for me, and neither is packing a second capsule just for the resort, since any extra space will be taken up by actual ski gear! So, black and grey it is, with clothes that will transition from urban Tokyo to apres ski in a ski lodge. Layers are key; from my time time in Japan previously, I know that while it may be near freezing outside, shops, restaurants and hotels keep the central heating pumping indoors. So, I will be toting a lot of my Eileen Fisher silk basics that pack into next to nothing, but still look appropriate if I start stripping of layers. Layers will also be vital for my airplane outfit, as we will be leaving in the peak of summer (and while Perth winters may be mild, we more than make up for it with our stinking hot summers) and then 15 hours later touching down in the middle of winter.

Airplane Outfit

My planned outfit, as you can see, is all about comfort, while still maintaining some style. When leaving Perth, I will be in cashmere track pants, my black matte silk jersey Eileen Fisher tunic tank, and my EF merino double faced cardigan jacket, paired with my Sorel Toronto snow boots. In my backpack will be the grey and black Ann Taylor wool/cashmere poncho (similar) which I will pop on once we hop on the plane (that way I can do away with the scratchy airplane blanket) and the merino wool Eileen Fisher tunic sweater, just in case the aircon is blasting on the plane. I forgot to include in the collage above my foldable ballet flats which I will pull out after take off.  The backpack will also hold my Lands End Primaloft coat (which packs down to hardly anything) (similar), wool knitted hat, and gloves, ready to be popped on as we exit in Tokyo. The poncho comes off, and converts into a looped scarf.

When I travel, I only ever take 3 pairs of shoes, which for previous holidays has usually been a pair of trainers, a comfy pair of sandals and a dressy pair of sandals. Sticking to three pairs for this trip was much trickier, but even more important due to space and weight limitations. It meant carefully considering my priorities for this trip, and in this case my priorities were staying warm, dry, comfortable and safe. This meant no heels, and shoes that would be safe on potentially slippery paths. It also meant that one of the shoes needed to be suitable for wearing in the snow when we head to the ski resort.

Cold weather shoes and accessories

So, the three pairs I ended up deciding on were the Tory Burch Minnie Travel ballet flats, my fave Reebok v Melody Ehsani trainers, and the Sorel Toronto Lace Wedge snow boots (I'm not counting the little wedge as a heel!!). Hopefully, these three meet all my needs, keep me warm and toasty, and still let me be a little bit stylish!!

Limited space also means that I will be limiting the amount of accessories that I will be bringing. If you are a long time reader, then you know that jewellery and accessories have played a big part in my summer holiday capsules. This time round, I am only planning to take a couple of rings and one pair of earrings, since I am assuming that the majority of the time any jewellery will be covered up by gloves, hats and outerwear. Instead, I am planning on taking 3 scarves, two hats and one pair of gloves. (This is extra to the ski gloves and fleece scarf for when we are skiing). Two of my scarves are from Mimco, a great Australian brand whom I have a number of pieces from. The one on the left is silk and embellished with cascades of beads (similar), which I plan to use to dress up my basic outfits for evenings. The one on the right is a silk/wool blend with tassels, and can be worn so many ways. Lastly, I have the Ann Taylor poncho from my airplane outfit, which can be worn as a poncho or as a neck scarf, and will be great for cold days spent mostly outside.

I am also taking two hats, the first a hand knitted wool beanie with fur pom pom purchased from the seller All Is Yay on Etsy, and the second a faux fur Cossack style hat from Marks and Spencer for a bit of glam! Finally, I am taking these gloves from Lands End, the Polartec Powerstretch Active Glove. These gloves are amazing - I wear them at least once a week when I take Irini to iceskating and they keep my hands so warm. The tech touch feature on thumb and finger actually works so I can still use my phone, and the matte finish means the gloves cross over from ultra casual to smart casual with ease.

Now onto the clothes themselves!

Winter Holiday Capsule Wardrobe

I pretty much followed a 3x3x3 formula, so three sweaters, three tops and three pants, with a faux fur vest, two coats, a dressy silk blouse, and 4 silk underlayers (that can be worn on their own), thrown in for good measure, and everything able to be layered with each other. I cannot stress how important it is to try on your clothes before you go - there were two tops I was seriously considering, but both had dropped shoulders and were so uncomfortable under another sweater or a coat. You don't want to be discovering this fact when you are already away!!

Stay tuned, as I will post some outfit ideas later in the week.


PS: There are no affiliate links here; I just linked to sites because I though it might be useful. I would love to know in the comments if you like (or don't like) the links.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

What's On My Bedside Table

I have seen a lot of these posts from fellow bloggers, so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon, too, and share what's on my bedside table.

The mirrored tray I have had for the longest time, and honestly have absolutely no idea where I got it from! Regardless, I love it, and find it useful at corralling my stuff and keeping it looking somewhat organised. On it, I have my jewellery tree (from Myer), that as you can probably see is missing a branch after it came off second best when the kids and I were horsing around! Even missing one branch, I find it very handy for placing my jewellery before bed. Once a week or so I will go through it and put everything away in their correct spots but, in between, it keeps necklaces from getting tangled and earrings from losing their partners.

The little heart dish is from Royal Albert and my daughter has a matching one in her room. I mainly use it for hair ties and loose change. The hair brush is from Rock and Ruddle and it has the prettiest acorn and butterfly print. I have the large one, and my daughter has the matching child size one. I much prefer this brush to my previous Mason and Pearson one. For starters, it is much cheaper, but more importantly, the bristle part can be removed for easy cleaning. I use dry shampoo in between hair washes, and was finding it was building up on my previous brush. With this brush, I give it a quick wash once a week and it is fantastic.

I always have a hand cream on or in my bedside table, and because the Aerin one is so pretty I am happy to have it out. Next to the hand cream is a body lotion from Fragonard that my mum brought back for me from Provence. The last item on the mirrored tray is a cute calender featuring retro housewives and snarky comments - it never fails to make me smile!

The grey thing that looks like a night light is actually an ultrasonic vapouriser called Bloom that I use to mist essential oils into the air. In winter I tend to use cold and flu type oils like peppermint and eucalyptus but at the moment I am using a sleep blend by InEssence. The kids also have one each in their rooms - as well as being a vapouriser, they also work as a nightlight - and both kids love setting it up for themselves each night.

I always have a stack of books on my table. Even though I would say 90% of my reading is now done on the kindle app on my iPad, there is nothing that compares to a real, hold it in your hands, turn the paper pages, book. I have been a book lover since I was a small child, and despite my whole hearted embrace of technology, I don't think I will ever completely give up on real books.

The books that are currently on my bedside are a pretty good representation of the type of books that I do buy hard copies of versus digital. Style, decor, cooking, and craft books just scream out to be held and pored over, and I just don't think that the digital versions are there yet in replicating that experience.  Fiction, biographies, health and fitness - these all suit me much better digitally.

From top to bottom, I am currently reading:

Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic: Lessons in Everyday Elegance by Jennifer L Scott
The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski
French Chic Living: Simple Ways to Make Your Home Beautiful by Florence de Dampierre
The Healthy Life by Jessica Sepel

Polish Your Poise and French Chic Living I both purchased courtesy of an Amazon gift card I won from Life With Dee, a fantastic blogger that I have been following since before I even started blogging. She recently relaunched her blog, and if you are a reader of my blog, and you haven't discovered Dee yourself already, I am sure you will love her style!

I was waiting with bated breath for the latest book by Jennifer L Scott (aka The Daily Connoisseur) to arrive, because as you all know, I am am unabashed fan of Jennifer and her writing. Unfortunately, the timing has been terrible, arriving right in my busy season, and I am only half way through. This is in no way a reflection of the book; so far I am loving it - lots of timely reminders, especially at this time of the year when poise can easily vanish in a blink of an eye - it is simply the time of the year. School's finished, but instead we have swimming lessons everyday, work has been crazy and the hours I am putting in seem to be growing higher and higher, and by the time bedtime comes, I can often only manage a few pages before I need to go to sleep! If you are tossing up whether to buy this for the kindle or in hard copy, go the hard copy - it is simply divine. The illustrator has outdone themselves, and the paper the book is printed on is beautiful.

This is the book I was reading before Polish Your Poise arrived, so again, unusually for me, another half finished book. This book is simply fascinating, a look into American fashion history of the every day woman during the first half of the last century. You can tell the author is an academic, because the writing can be a little bit on the dry side, but her research seems impeccable, and I found what I have read so far not only incredibly interesting, but inspiring as well. I look forward to finishing this book in the New Year.

This lovely looking book arrived at the same time as Polish Your Poise, and so far, all of I have done is remove the plastic it was wrapped in! I honestly haven't even peeked inside. From the outside, though, it looks beautiful, so I am really looking forward to dipping into this one shortly.

Jessica Sepel is an Australian wellness blogger, and though Australian wellness bloggers as a group have taken a bit of a hammering over the past year (see Belle Gibson, Pete Evans and Jess Ainscough), I have always found Jessica Sepel ground in reality, with a balanced outlook on life. Her first published book, The Healthy Life is filled with a lot of great ideas (and recipes) that I really do plan to incorporate into my lifestyle, but right now, unfortunately this has taken a back seat, just like my reading! Again, bookmarked for the New Year after our holiday.

And so that is what is on my bedside table. I hoped you enjoyed this little peek into my space!

Disclaimer: The amazon links are affiliate links and if you click through I get a small (tiny!) rebate to my amazon account at no cost to you! All items were purchased by me.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

November PopSugar Must Have Box Review

I love subscription boxes, and find them a great way to discover new brands and try out new products. Until recently, I had only played with beauty boxes, but I recently decided to try out PopSugar's Must  Have Boxes, which have a wider range of lifestyle products each month.

The November Must Have Box was "selected by PopSugar editors" and inspired by Gratitude, Friends and Family, Festivities, and Gifting, with products that are perfect for gifting, although, I really think I will be keeping all of them for my self!!

The first item I pulled out was the Terrapin Ridge Farms Pecan Honey Mustard, which looks beautiful, and sounds delicious. The bottle says it can be used as a dip or a marinade, but I am planning to use it in a dressing for a rocket and pear salad - I think the pecan honey infused flavour will complement it perfectly.

Next, because I am a magpie and am drawn to pretty shiny things, I reached for the most beautiful headband I have ever seen. Honestly, the word headband is not doing it justice! The Katie Crystal Headband by Deepa Gurnani is a luxurious addition to this box, and will be perfect for quick and easy holiday hairstyles. I will definitely be coming with me on my upcoming holiday as a great (but tiny to pack) way to dress up an outfit for evening. What I loved most about this headband is that it didn't look cheap, and it is comfortable to wear. A lot of crystal embellished hair pieces look like a tween got hold of a bedazzler, but not this piece.

The West Emory Bingo set was the largest item in the box this month, and while I am sure it was intended as a great gift (and it is deluxe!), I am planning on keeping it, because a) it actually looks great sitting on my coffee table (the minimalist design is perfect!) and b) I think it will be great family entertainment over our long summer break.

I was a bit wary when I saw the Capri Blue Mercury Jewel Box Candle in Rain, as I am very fussy when it comes to scented candles, and despite the Mercury Glass packaging looking gorgeous, if the candle gave me a headache (which A LOT do), then straight into the gift cupboard it would go. However, this candle smells divine.  For you fragrance addicts out there, it is a light oceanic, which I think was a smart choice as most people find these watery (in the best kind of way) scents acceptable, as opposed to fruity or floral, which can be more polarising. The best thing about this candle is that the packaging is designed to be reused as a jewel box after the candle has burned away. It is already looking great on my vanity!!

The beauty item this month was Tarte's Beauty and the Box eyeshadow palette, which I received in Apple of Your Eye. With two shimmers and two mattes, this looks like a nice, neutral palette, but the shades look a touch too warm for my liking, so I will be giving this one away. For warmer complexions than mine, this palette is beautiful and autumnal, and just the names of the shadows alone make me think of crisp autumn days. I do love Tarte products, though, so I am hoping something else from them will pop up in a future box.

Finally, the last product was a set of Thanksgiving post cards from Gramr Gratitude Co. I love the sentiment behind the company, which is to encourage people to actually take the time and hand write notes to friends and family, and I am planning on doing just that with these beautiful cards. They are lovely with a beautiful weight to them, which complements the very nice designs well.

As always, there are a couple of discount coupons/vouchers included in the box. Mine included a $15 voucher to try out one of Gramr's subscriptions, a $20 gift voucher to InkDot (no minimum order, but does not cover shipping), and a 20% off coupon for Capri Blue Candles.

Overall, I really liked this month's box as evidenced by the fact that I am pretty much keeping everything for myself, much more so that last month's, where I only kept three items. I found this month's very well curated, and really matched to the season. Here's hoping December's is fab as well!!

If you want to try it out for yourself, use the code MUSTHAVE5 for $5 off your first box at 


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Homemade Christmas Gifts: Peppermint Patties

The holiday season is in full swing, and a tradition that our family has had ever since our kids started school is to give a small handmade gift to their teachers.  While we always contribute to the class gift, I like to thank the teachers personally, even if it is only a small token. The kids help me out, and for a few evenings in the last week of school, we cook or bake together.  This year we decided to make homemade Peppermint Patties, and I was thrilled with how they turned out. They looked great, and they were so yummy, more than a few may have been sampled, in the name of research, of course!!

Homemade Peppermint Patties

650g Icing (confectioner's) Sugar
50g unsalted butter
3 tbs evaporated milk or half and half
1/2 tsp peppermint oil (adjust to taste - you may need to double if using extract instead of oil)

500g dark chocolate melts
2 tbs coconut oil
1 pkt red and white mint candy canes, crushed

  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in Thermomix, speed 5 for 45 seconds; or in the bowl of a food processor, medium speed for 45 seconds.
  2. Scrape down sides of bowl, then in Thermomix use Interval for another 45 seconds; food processor, pulse for 45 seconds.
  3. Tip out of bowl, form into a ball, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
  4. Using a spoon (I used a small melon baller), take small bits of dough about the size of a marble and roll into a ball. Flatten into a disc (not too thin) with the bottom of a glass lined with a piece of baking paper. Place into freezer for at least an hour.
  5. Melt chocolate and coconut oil together. I use a microwave to melt chocolate and this amount took 50 secs at 900W. You can also do it in a double boiler.
  6. Dip frozen mint discs into chocolate resting them between two forks, allowing excess chocolate to drain off.
  7. Place onto a SilPat lined baking tray, and sprinkle with a tiny amount of crushed candy canes before the chocolate sets.
  8. I only worked with about 10 at a time, letting the rest stay in the freezer until I was ready, since it was so hot here. If it is winter where you are, you probably don't need to do this!!
  9. The chocolate needs to be a thin, glossy liquid for the best results. As time goes by it starts to become thicker and "gluggy". Reheat it when this happens, for about 20 secs in the microwave.
Made about 60, but we "sampled" quite a few, so probably more like 80 if you are more disciplined or doing this without kids!! 

Keep refrigerated.


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