Tuesday, December 16, 2014

WINNER

To the person who goes by the name of China Dolls and Rocking Chairs - you've won the Kit Kemp coffee table book. Shoot me an email at annakemp86@gmail.com with your postal address and I'll send you your prize!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

PALEO ROCKY ROAD


Even if you aren't a dietary fusspot like me, you'll enjoy this paleo and vegan take on the classic Rocky Road. As well as being utterly delicious, this treat is seriously fast and simple to prepare. All credit goes to Holistic Health and Life Coach Amelia Harvey for this genius recipe. To serve 6 (I doubled the ingredients in the batch in these pics), you will need:

¾ cup coconut oil
½ cup rice malt syrup
⅔ cup almond meal
1 cup cacao
½ cup chopped macadamias
½ cup dried goji berries
½ cup coconut flakes
Himalayan salt

Combine coconut oil, cacao, rice malt syrup and almond meal ( if your coconut oil is solid, liquefy first by placing jar into hot water). I recommend you use a bar mix, blender or the like to make the mixture smooth.
Stir through the nuts, goji berries and coconut flakes.
Pour the mixture into a lined baking tray or plate. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and berries and coconut if you have any left over. 
Place in freezer to set - it should only take about 10 minutes. Cut into chunks and store in the refrigerator.


Monday, December 8, 2014

A CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY


How great is it to be living in Australia right now? Mangoes and cherries are finally in season. The neighbourhood is redolent of barbecue and freshly cut grass. Cicadas chirp first thing in the morning, letting you know that the day ahead is set to be a scorcher. Another fantastic thing about living in Australia this time of year (sorry international readers - next time, promise!) is that you're eligible to enter my Christmas Giveaway! How does a copy of A Living Space, from internationally acclaimed designer and hotelier Kit Kemp, sound?

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment below. Tell me something about yourself I don't know. Or what you really love and really hate. Or maybe your favourite Christmas memory. Anything goes. The winner will be announced on Monday 15 December, so check back in case it's you!

Seeing as this is a Christmas post, I thought I'd show you some of the Christmas decorations I've put up so far. Firstly, a new tree filled with birds and other bits and bobs:


A striking wreath of faux roses:


And some critters to greet you when you walk through the door:


I'm still a huge fan of a real Christmas tree so I think I'll get a small, real tree for the dining table. Shall post a pic on instagram once I've decorated it. 

Looking forward to your entries/comments!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

SERGE LUTENS FLEURS D'ORANGER



Something which amuses my husband to no end is what happens to me when I am in any place which happens to sell perfume. He describes it as a "trance" - I fly through the store with the determination and narrowed focus of an Amazing Race contestant. Even a "can I help you?" from a sales assistant feels like a massive roadblock. Don't worry, I'm always polite if I need to decline their assistance - retail is tough enough as it is without having bratty customers inflicting their moods on you. But truthfully, I think perfume taste is so highly individual that what one person finds intoxicating, another thinks smells like fly spray (Chanel No.5, I'm looking at you!) Only we can know what we like and what we're comfortable with. Kind of like when I go clothes shopping and a girl with 7% less body fat and 10% extra length in her limbs than me tells me I should try on the same buttock-revealing shorts she is wearing because they're her favourite item in store right now. Half of me wants to hug her for thinking such an item might remotely suit me; the other half questions whether that is really even the case or if she's just egocentric. Now, I hope you'll not think that this very blog post is hypocritical; I'm not trying to tell you what's good for you; just that if you like the same kind of perfumes as me, you might like this one. At the moment all I care about is white flower fragrances. I am in my element because my gardenia bush in the backyard is (figuratively) on fire right now. The jasmine at the front of our house is about to swallow the whole neighbourhood, and I've got a big bunch of freesias blasting it's perfume around the kitchen/living/dining area. But the very, very best white flower fragrance in my life right now is Serge Lutens Fleurs d-Oranger.


Now, let's not pretend I am anything resembling a perfume critic, so I'm going to cut and paste the review from Lucky Scent, which I think captures the fragrance and its connotations perfectly:

"In a word: masterpiece. There is no other way to sum up Fleurs d’Oranger. This is truly a legend in the Lutens line, the fresh yet decadent scent of an orange grove in full bloom, blossoms falling like rain as a warm breeze swirls the petals in the air. The heady and sweet scents of orange blossom, white jasmine and tuberose are highlighted with a hint of citrus and enhanced with just the tiniest wisps of warm spice to create a perfume that is ever-changing and, once you live with it awhile, you begin to sense its ultra complex nature. Fleurs d’Oranger is a floral fantasy that is even more beautiful than any amount of flowery prose can hope to relay…it’s a rare fragrance that could be worn every day and you’d never tire of it. Gloriously feminine, Fleurs is not “cute” nor is it cloying or overpowering…it’s pure French elegance meets a wild romp in an orange grove, a dream of a perfume that will make you close your eyes, breathe deeply and just…smile."

What fragrances are you into right now? Tell me, tell me!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"TALK ABOUT A ROUGH DAY AT WORK"

... If you can remember Phil Olivetti, I am so proud!

If not, I'm just happy you're reading! If you follow me on instagram, you'll already know that I just had an extraordinary day last Friday. I was lucky enough to be invited to come along with James and some of his colleagues for an afternoon on a boat in Sydney harbour. The day could only be described as perfect. Perfect temperature, perfect blue skies, perfect wine, perfect seafood and perfect company - I know that sounds like such a lazy description but there's just no other way to put it... I don't think many days this summer will be able to compare!

Before I show you the onboard pics, let's discuss the Important Matter of Outfit Choice. I am very proud that I went with these flat shoes because I very nearly was going to wear some lovely but inappropriate wedges. Thank goodness I didn't because we would have had a man overboard situation on our hands before we even left the marina.

Top from here / Shorts here / Espadrilles here

I think James may have copied my outfit:


A couple of very unexpected things happened on the water that day. One was that a SUBMARINE casually  sailed by:


The other was that we were joined by dolphins on the way home. Sadly I didn't get to photograph that. I did get this lovely picture though:


And many more happy faces:


Some of the ladies and gents had come all the way from Quebec, so it was great to learn all about what life is like over there and how it compares to Sydney. One of the many things I learned from the girls was that apparently there are a lot of good looking men in Australia! How about that!

Thanks to Leanne and the team for such an awesome day!

Monday, November 3, 2014

MY WORK HERE IS NEVER DONE

So I changed the guest bedroom a little. To me, the room was feeling 'icy' and 'depressing'. If I feel like that just going in there to make the bed, imagine how my guests must feel sleeping in there? All I needed to do was have wallpaper stuck to the wall behind the bed and it feels like a completely new space.

Before:


After:


The best part is how warm and cosy the room becomes at night, when the lights are on and the gold in the paper is illuminated.


So... what do you think? 

Friday, October 31, 2014

SKINNY 'BRUNCHY' SALAD



We all know that our fascination with brunching is making us all a bit weighty. Or, at least forcing us to sign up for more 'fun' runs than ever before. Hotcakes, fry-ups, thick-sliced sourdough, lattes... Double chin and thunder thighs, meet your maker!

One of my old favourite brunch items was the corn fritters with bacon and avocado from Bills. Though they look so fresh and healthy, one must ask how they get the ingredients to hold together when frying. And the answer is flour. Plenty of plain flour, which is my thighs' arch nemesis.
This salad I dreamt up conjures the taste, texture and excitement of said fritters but with absolutely no guilt or heavy feelings afterwards. There's no need to be pedantic about measurements, but you can use my recipe as a general guide. To serve two people, you will need:

Cos/Romaine lettuce
3/4 cup sweetcorn (tinned is fine)
1 avocado
1/2 cup packaged fried shallots (they're in the Asian section at the grocery store)
2 middle rashers of bacon
A drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Start by frying bacon 'til crispy, then leave it to cool.
2. Chop your lettuce into manageable pieces, dice the avocado and prepare your sweetcorn.
3. Once the bacon is cool, toss it together with the lettuce, avocado, corn, shallots, oil and salt and pepper. I like to mash up the avocado a little while I am tossing the salad so it can act as a "binder".
4. Eat and feel smug!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

LOEB BOATHOUSE, CENTRAL PARK AND SOME NYC SCENES

Want to know some of the things I most loved about New York City? Here is my very edited list:

1. Brussels Sprouts, which you can find almost everywhere. Ever since I was a child I've loved this maligned vegetable. Turns out they love them in NYC too. They use them to their potential there and I ate them all the time.
2. I love the way daylight looks there. Their morning feels like our dusk. It's magical. Did you ever realise how bright the sun is in Australia? Not complaining, just observing, but it's so bright here that the world literally looks slightly faded at times. Sunglasses aren't optional down under, that's for sure.
3. It's noisy and it's busy and the whole of Manhattan is literally city. Outside your front door will be plenty of passers-by. That makes me feel so safe.
4. Theatre! Art! Music! Fashion! Architecture! It's a culture vulture's paradise. Actually, no. You don't need to even be a snob to enjoy NYC. Whatever style of entertainment you like to consume, you'll find it there before you find it anywhere else (mostly).
5. The daily reality check. The world is a big place and it's a tough place. It takes all sorts of people to make the world go around - kind people, nasty people; introverts, extroverts; the narrow and the broad-minded; people who've had it easy, people for whom life has been a struggle since the get-go. And of course, everyone in between. You'll find them all in NYC. It's a fantastic place to learn about the world.
6. Bacon. Need I say more? You know I will!!! I love smoked, streaky bacon. The more fat on it, the better. Sometimes the Americans cook it too crispy for my liking, but I'm not going to lose the plot over it. Want to know the best bacon I have ever had here in Australia? It was the morning after our wedding and we had our breakfast in the hotel at the Park Hyatt. I went back for seconds, it was so good. And by seconds, I mean I filled my plate just with bacon twice. I think I'm going to need to find out who their supplier is.

If you've been to NYC, what did you love most of all? Another thing I loved was the restaurants and cafes. Not only do they do food well, they also nail the ambience like nowhere else. Despite the fact that Loeb Boathouse may be a bit of a tourist magnet, it doesn't feel that way. You know when there's places you just don't want to go because of the very fact they only cater to tourists? And I'm not saying that as a slight against tourists at all. I'm having a dig about whoever owns a restaurant where they think just because they're serving tourists, they don't need to try. The focus is on turning over as many tables as possible, they don't care about being polite or cooking decent food because they aren't aiming for repeat business? Well, the Boathouse is the exact opposite of that.



We made a booking for 12.00pm, which is when it opens for lunch. Little did I know, it was a genius move because a serious queue for tables forms right about then. As soon as we arrived, we were ushered to our table and were met with this glorious scene:


Yes, Central Park was still very green, and continued to be right up til we left.


As you can see, the meal was lovely. We won't kid ourselves and say we then commenced to walk it all off, but we did see some of Central Park that day. I wish I didn't take such awful videos and I would have shared the incredible musicians we saw busking after we left the Boathouse. There are many and varied buskers and live music acts in NYC, even on subway platforms. It's pure magic. I'll tell you all about the concerts we saw in another blog post, for now: some of the times we spent at Central Park.


My favourite part of Central Park was Strawberry Fields, the memorial dedicated to John Lennon. It just so happened that we were there on what would have been John Lennon's birthday. On special occasions like this, a large crowd gathers to sing Beatles/Lennon songs and generally pay tribute. It's very moving and quite reassuring, in the sense that in the internet age, celebrating people who have passed (particularly well-loved public figures) is a bit half-arsed and lasts a few days at best. Is that a huge generalisation on my part? Or perhaps the reason we see these kind of scenes is because John Lennon and the Beatles in general, impacted our culture in such a hugely significant way that it's impossible to forget or become indifferent? 


Even this guy showed up:


Kidding.

I think it's time for another NYC photo scramble!


So... who's coming back there with me?! Stay tuned for part three.