Flower Arrangement for Women’s Day

Flower Arrangement for Womens Day

When I was a little girl, I liked to make my mom feel special on International Women’s Day. On this day, I would wake up early and sneak out, tiptoeing passed my mom’s bedroom, to the market to get a fresh bunch of flowers. I wanted to bring it home for her before she was awake. The thrill of planning and doing something on my own at that age made me feel very independent.

Even though this day isn’t widely celebrated in Australia, I try to keep the spirit of it alive. To celebrate the women in our family this Sunday, 8th March, I decided to combine camomile (my mom’s favourite), roses (my sister’s favourite) and veronicas in a little flower bouquet.

Flowers
Flowers on a door copy
DSC_0053

The Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon Training Program

runner

I started taking part in half marathons three years ago and now aim to complete at least one run a year. This year, I decided to do it in May, which I know will be challenging because of our upcoming overseas wedding in April. Having said that, it will keep me fit and motivated throughout this period. What makes me happy is that this time I’m not alone – my fiancé has become my running buddy and agreed to do the half marathon with me.

To get ready for the race, I decided to set up a 10 week training program which would help me fit training into my daily routine as well as check on my progress. I prefer to get my runs done in the morning when I feel fresh and rested. I normally do shorter runs before work during the week and longer runs on weekends. This year, I plan to incorporate speed (high intensity) and hill training as well as better core strength and yoga practices.

One thing to keep in mind:

It’s important to listen to your body and treat it with respect and care, and it will serve you well. – Paula Radcliffe

Half Marathon Training Program

Useful terms:
Strides – short intervals of 60-200 metres, designed to improve your technique and achieve faster leg turnover

Fartlek – set off at easy pace and pick the pace up for short bursts of 20 sec – 2 min (slow down to easy pace to recover)

Tempo – a sustained, faster-than-target-race pace, designed to build speed and stamina

Top image via

Home-Made ‘Oreo’ Biscuits

Home-Made Oreo Biscuits

I’ve always had a soft spot for Oreo biscuits to the extent that I can finish one pack by myself in one go (dangerous!). They also remind me of our first overseas trip to Argentina. We discovered a pack of Oreos in our apartment in Recoleta and had them every day with a cup of tea while chatting about our highlights and experiences in Buenos Aires. I really like how certain foods can take you back in time. So when I saw the recipe of home-made ‘Oreo’ biscuits in the New York Cult Recipes cookbook, I couldn’t wait to make them.

Ingredients:

Wet Ingredients
150g unsalted butter, softened
350g light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp natural vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients
165g plain flour
85g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 pinches salt

Cream Filling
30g unsalted butter, softened
30g coconut oil, at room temperature
125g icing sugar

Method:

The Dough
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar vigorously until light and creamy. Combine all the dry ingredients together. Add to the butter-sugar mixture, alternating with the beaten egg and vanilla until smooth. Shape into a ball, cover loosely plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Shaping The Dough
Take the dough out of the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap and place the dough on a sheet of baking paper. With the help of the baking paper, shape the dough into a smooth sausage shape about 30cm long. Wrap the dough in the sheet of baking paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Cooking
Preheat the oven to 180C. Remove the dough sausage from the refrigerator and unwrap it from the baking paper. Using a large knife or a pastry cutter, cut slices about 1/2cm thick. Arrange them on two baking trays lined with baking paper, leaving a 2cm gap between each. Flatten them slightly with your hands to give them a round and smooth shape, then bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature.

The Cream Filling
Combine all the ingredients with a whisk until smooth and creamy.

Assembly
Turn over half the batch of biscuits, flat side facing up. Place about 1 teaspoon of the cream filling in the middle of each and top with the other halves. Press the two cookies together until the cream reaches the edges.

Top Bars in The Sydney CBD

Sydney Top Bars - CBD

I’m not someone who spends every Friday night in the pub. But, occasionally, I like to go for a drink. It’s a good way to de-stress from a busy week at work or just an excuse to mark the beginning of weekend. Whenever I decide on a place, I try to find something different, yet special. I always keep my ears open when I hear people suggesting a bar or restaurant. Considering how much Sydney has to offer, there are still many hidden gems that are very difficult to find if not a local. I decided to put together a list of my favourite bars in the Sydney CBD.

  1. Riley Street Garage
    To me, cocktails and oysters make an ultimate combo and this place exceeds all expectations. This Art-Deco reconstructed garage is loads of fun – good vibe, delicious food and friendly staff. The bar is the best place to be – you can have that rare interaction with a barman and watch them shuck the oysters.

  2. Bulletin Place
    Among many other awards, this place is ranked No19 of World’s Best Bars 2014 and there is a valid reason for it. It’s intimately small, secluded and serves sensational cocktails. They offer table service which is very rare these days.

  3. The Barber Shop
    You have to literally go through a barber shop to get to this bar. This place has the charm and sophisitication of late 50’s and offers a good range of gin and other spirits.

  4. Baxter Inn
    If you are somone who loves whiskey you will be spoilt for choice here. A whole wall of whisky that expands to the ceiling. The staff are very friendly and know their whisky well. I’d say this is a bar for two as it can get very busy inside.

  5. Swine and Co
    This is a New York style bar and offers many unique cocktails. It has a great vibe and perfect for friends gatherings. You can also have a great dining experience there.

  6. The Rook
    This rooftop bar has a great atmosphere and good for small groups. They have a nice wine list and cocktails are well made and presented. This place is also known for its crab dishes so expect some unexpected items on the menu.

  7. The Rabbit Hole
    This place is a real hidden gem, offers avant-garde cocktails, local and international wines or boutique beers. Their wagyu beef burger is claimed to be the best burger in the world and it has actually recently been awarded top 5 burgers in the World.

  8. Grandma’s
    This place provides a homely feel and makes you feel cozy and loved. They specialise in fun tiki/rum style cocktails, personally sourced beers and wines. My personal favourite is Earl Grey MarTEAni and the jaffles are a great complement if you feel a little peckish.

  9. Papa Gede’s
    This New Orleans style bar is very quaint and tucked away at the end of a small cobblestone alley off Kent street. They have a good selection of cocktails and friendly staff are always happy to help. The Zombie cocktail is a must-try!

Images via Google Images

Wearing Right Now

9.02.15 Wearing right now
[1. SABA top (on sale now); 2. Forever New pants; 3. ‘Mise En Dior’ earrings; 4. Celine Sunglasses; 5. Essie ‘Spin the Bottle’ nail polish; 6. Prada handbag; 7. Chanel Ballet flats]

Choosing an outfit for work doesn’t always come easily to me. When I feel uninspired, I stick to basics – white top, dark pants and a few accessories. These cropped pants from Forever New are the ideal building block for a variety of looks. I have them in black and navy colours and wear them for work and casual catch ups. The SABA top is an absolute winner and serves as the perfect complement to my navy pants. The whole ensemble is conveniently neutral and can easily be dressed up or down.

Raspberry Mousse Cheesecake

Raspberry Mousse Cheesecake

There is something fascinating about raw desserts. I drool every time I see a raw cheesecake and promise myself to make it one day. The other day, I found a recipe of a raspberry mousse cheesecake by celebrity chef Pete Evans and thought this would be good practice before I attempt a whole raw cheesecake. I like desserts that have small servings and can be made in advance. I made a few small changes to the original recipe to suit my taste.

Ingredients (serves 6-8):

Crumble
160g almonds
90g desiccated coconut
6 medjool dates, pitted
pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Raspberry Mousse
450g cashews
420g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
100ml lime juice
1 tsp sea salt
350g honey
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped
50ml coconut oil
dark chocolate, to serve
lime zest (optional)

Method:
Soak the cashews in a bowl, covered, overnight. Rinse them out well the next morning.

To make the crumble, process the almonds and coconut in a food processor until broken up to a crumb. Add the dates, salt and vanilla extract and pulse until the mixture just comes together. If you over-process, the mixture will become oily. Transfer the crumble to a bowl and set aside.

To make the mousse, press the raspberries through a sieve. Set aside the leftover raspberry pulp. Process the cashews, raspberry liquid, lime juice, salt, honey and vanilla seeds until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the coconut oil and process until combined. Press the crumble to the bottom of small glasses, pour the berry mixture and refrigerate for a few hours, or until set.

To make the raspberry crunch, preheat the oven to 50C, or as low as it will go. Spread the raspberry pulp on a lined baking tray and place it into the oven for a few hours. Remove from the oven and cool completely. You can chop the dried raspberry with a knife for a coarse texture, or blitz it in a food processor for a much finer consistency.

To serve, sprinkle the cheesecake with crumble, then top with the chocolate shavings, raspberry crunch and lime zest (if you’re using these). Enjoy!

Oscars Night

Oscars Night

Even though I haven’t done a good job at seeing most of the nominated films this year, I still get excited about the Oscars. This is the time of year to tune in to Hollywood glitz and glamour, spend nights movie-watching or even to organise a fun academy awards viewing party at home.

Due to our time difference with Los Angeles, it’s impossible to watch the Oscars live on Sunday so we normally watch the ceremony on Monday night (recorded). For some shenanigans, here are three easy steps to bring an elevated twist to the otherwise ordinary night after work.

1. Make a staple movie snack
Mix your favourite movie snack. I tried to keep it as healthy as possible by combining popcorn, salted honey macadamias and dark chocolate.

To make healthy popcorn
Add 4 tablespoons of coconut oil and a couple of popcorn kernels to a saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat until the kernels pop. Take the kernels out of the saucepan. Add the rest of the popcorn kernels (1/2 cup) and cover. Shake the saucepan regularly until popping ceases. Remove from the heat and empty popped corn into a large bowl discarding any unpopped corn.

To make salted honey macadamias (the recipe is from The Whole Pantry)
Preheat oven to 60C. Coat 180g macadamia nuts with 2 tablespoons of honey and 2 teaspoons of sea salt flakes. Transfer the nuts onto baking paper and place in oven. Bake for 4 hours, turning occasionally to glaze evenly. Your cooking time will vary depending on how firm you want the nuts and the oven you are using.

Movie snack1

2. Play Hollywood trivia
While movie trivia is certainly not my strength, I still like the idea of incorporating some easy Hollywood trivia which can be found online.

Holywood trivia

3. Pick your favourites and place your bet
To keep it easy, I created an express ballot which is focused on six main nominations. You can use it to pick your favourites and place your bet on the winners.

Oscars Express Ballot

[Answers: 1-c, 2-e, 3-f, 4-a, 5-d, 6-b]

February Beauty

February Beauty

This is becoming my favourite monthly post. I’ve been looking forward to sharing these three products that I’ve fallen in love with in the past month: Aesop hand wash, Evo Salty Dog Cocktail Beach Spray and Essie ‘Spin The Bottle’ nail polish.

Aesop Handwash

Aesop Reverence Aromatique Hand Wash is a new addition to my bathroom. Unlike a regular hand wash, it containes mulled pumice which, in its powdered or dust form, is a volcanic rock and performs a mild exfoliation. I can’t get enough of how soft, purified and refreshed my hands feel afterwards. With a blend of botanical extracts of bergamot, bitter orange and grapefruit, it has an earthy and wooden aroma which adds some masculine qualities to it.

Evo Salty Dog Spray

Evo Salty Dog Cocktail Beach Spray was recommended to me by my hairdresser who has been looking after my hair for almost 9 years. Normally, I’m very sceptical about hair products and go with the principal ‘less is more’. After reading countless reviews and listening to recommendations, I decided to give it a go. I must say, it did wonders to my hair – it gave me that salty, beach-based texture that I had been needing when styling my straight hair. A little goes a long way – 3 sprays is all I need to give my hair a boost. I also apply it on wet hair and leave to air-dry.

essie spin the bottle

Following last year’s ‘nail foundation’ trend, I had been looking for a new nail polish which could go with pretty much anything I wear. I bought Essie Nail Polish ‘Spin The Bottle’ and couldn’t be happier. Now all Essie nail polishes have a wider brush which makes application so much easier and leaves a salon-quality nail finish.

Bubbles: 3 ways

bubbles three ways

A chilled glass of bubbly on a dull day is the best way to get me back in the mood. But for a special occasion, it’s nice to do something different. This Valentine’s Day, we explored some new ways of how to turn plain sparkling wine into an elegant cocktail. Here is what we came up with which might seem traditional for some, but certainly foreign to us as a couple.

Drink a toast to France’s famous Kir Royale
To make a Kir Royale, add 1 part Chambord to a champagne flute, gently pour 5 to 9 parts sparkling wine (depending on taste). Garnish with a strawberry.

Serve the classic Mimosa for brunch
To make a Mimosa, fill a champagne flute 1/2 full of fresh-squeezed orange juice and top up with sparkling wine.

Celebrate with Champagne Cocktail
To make a Champagne Cocktail, place a small sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute. Add 2 dashes of Angostura bitters and fill the glass with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Bathing Season

Bathing Season
The bathing season is in full swing. When it comes to choosing swimwear, I always play it safe. This year, I’ve taken my swimwear search online and have narrowed down a few different trends I’d be more than happy to own. I can certainly say, halter neck has been the biggest trend so far this season.

What’s your favourite swimwear trend?

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