Tuesday, June 25, 2013

30 before 30: #15 - have a picnic


Noun: an outing or occasion that involves taking a packed meal to be eaten outdoors.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't *technically* an outing and maybe it didn't *technically* commemorate an occasion.

But in my books, breakfast may as well be an occasion (a fairly regular one at that!) and when the view from your backyard with winter sun streaming through is this pretty, I'm calling it a picnic. So is she.

Consider  #15 complete!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

30 before 30: #21 & #25

I've lumped these two 30 before 30 goals together, because, let's face it, they are not inherently interesting to read about. However, I can report that I have both donated to charity and sent goodies abroad.

The former was accomplished through a fun run earlier in the year - the Mother's Day Classic to be precise. I was initially entered in the 4k walk with a girlfriend, but bumped into the 4k run after she pulled out a few days prior, due to a medical issue. As a result, my beloved accompanied me (thanks to Start to Finish for allowing the late change!) and we enjoyed a rather nice waddle around Melbourne's Botanic Gardens.

I have to say, in the scheme of fun runs, this one seemed a tad disorganised and frenetic, probably owing to the size of the turnout (over 130,000 across 74 locations). In any case, I was glad that my registration fee went, in its entirety, to cancer research. I'm constantly astounded at the number of events that do not donate a penny of the entry costs to charity.

With regard to my goal of sending letters/parcels to my nearest and dearest abroad, I'm pleased to report that I've sent three of my OS besties wee parcels over the last few months.

The first, who has just given birth to a gorgeous baby girl in Japan, received a stripey ensemble, complete with matching shoes (because, let's face it, baby shoes are probably the cutest thing ever invented!). Want to know what's even more exciting? In around 2.5 months we'll be seeing said outfit again in person - that's right, we're off to Japan!!

These are some pictures from our time in Japan over 5 years ago...ahhh memories!

The second, a close girlfriend in London, received a big bunch of flowers for her 30th birthday.

Thirdly, my non-biological German "mum" has been sent a beautiful, locally designed and woven scarf (below) for her 70th birthday. As an aside, you can check out my very talented friend and weaver's Etsy store here.

So, eleven of my thirty goals remain, with only a few weeks of the challenge to go. Can I do it?

Monday, June 17, 2013

30 before 30: #29 - visit a winery

Escaping to the Yarra Valley (one of Australia's premier wine regions for those who aren't local) for a day or more is something I often think about, but rarely do. Silly really, because the trip there takes little more than  45 minutes. More importantly though, there's something about those rolling hills and perfectly straight lines of vines that has an instant relaxing effect (my beloved likes to think it's my rather OCD need for symmetry. I prefer to think that it's because I'm getting closer to nature...whatevs!).

Fellow blogger, Miss C and I decided to head to the region with our obliging other halves at rather late notice on the weekend. I was delighted to learn that the Yarra Valley Farmers' Market coincided with our visit. Yering Station is a very picturesque location for such a market and the produce did not disappoint - beautiful cheeses, breads, meat, fresh produce and lots of ready-made things to sample and buy.

After a market wander and cup of coffee, we made our way over to Zonzo - the main event for the day. We were seated right in front of the roaring fire, complete with bovine adornment.

A bottle of Sangiovese came as we admired the view of gnarled vines outside, complemented beautifully by the rustic, but elegant interior decor. 

We opted to share all dishes and started with a couple of deep fried morsels.

Arancini    15

Carciofi Fritti (crumbed artichoke hearts drizzled with vincotto)    13

Both starters were excellent - crunchy and comforting. However, the real stand out of the day for me was the pizza. This was the best pizza I've eaten in a very long time. Maybe even since Italy!

L-R: Pizza con Melanzane; Pizza con Porcini; Pizza con Bresaola    23 each

The base was thin and a perfect balance of crispy, but maintained that requisite chewy "thang" that all good pizza must have.

My personal favourite was the Pizza con Bresaola (nearest below), which was topped with slightly salty, finely sliced Wagyu, basil, buffalo mozzarella and olive oil.

Because no dinner lunch is complete without dessert and I have a deep passion for all things ricotta (I swear, my love affair with the stuff knows no bounds!) a ricotta calzone was ordered.

Calzone alla Ricotta (foreground); Calzone alla Fragola (background)    14

After early morning wine tasting, followed by a bottle of wine, it was clearly time to slip next door to Train Track winery and get stuck into a bit more vino, right?! When in the Yarra Valley...

All in all, a fantastic day out with even better friends. Zonzo: we will be returning!

Zonzo on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

30 before 30: #1 and #10 - the crafty seamstress

There are some rather ill-conceived goals on my pre-thirty bucket list. Number 1 and number 10, for example, both have substantial overlap and, while I know that months ago I had lofty ambitions of completing these exclusively, I am now lumping them together and calling it success. Some would call it lazy, others a study in efficiency...

In any case, I'll start this post by letting you in on a secret. I'm a pretty poor seamstress. I was never taught how to sew or use a sewing machine at school, nor did I have a mother or even grandmother who sewed. Knitting, yes; but never sewing. However, I love most crafty-type activities. To me they're like a form of therapy - a way to escape and immerse myself in my thoughts and some quiet time. Based on this logic, a couple of years back I purchased a sewing machine, with grand ambitions of cladding myself in all sorts of fabric awesome. 

I made a delightful wrap skirt and a vaguely acceptable pair of pajama bottoms, but my sewing career came to a screeching halt when I went all out and attempted a maxi dress that made me appear seven months pregnant (I'm not exaggerating at all here!). It's not that I made a conscious decision to give up, but my *epic fail*, coupled with a bunch of other goings-on rendered my time very limited, and so I put the sewing machine to rest for a little while.

Now that time is a little freer (post-MBA completion - huzzah!), I made a decision to dust off the white plastic lump that is my sewing machine and make something I can't mess up - cushions. A trip to Ikea was first required in order to procure the cushion insert and, while there, I discovered that Ikea is a one-stop-shop for pillow-making, as they boast a pretty funky range of fabrics. I opted for a grey print, hoping that a neutral pallet would mean that any flaws wouldn't be as obvious, and $25 later we were on our way (and yes, I understand that I could have simply purchased two ready-made cushions from Ikea for this price, but where's the fun in that?!). 

After a wee bit of fabric pressing and measuring, it was time to get my sew on - a bit of machine work, followed by some hand sewing. I'm pretty happy with the outcome, especially given my disaster maxi of 2011!

At least one of the cushions is actually destined for our replica George Nelson Coconut Chair, which is being made somewhere in the world as we speak. I think it'll look pretty swell...

Overall, not *sew* bad, right?!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

30 before 30: #27 - buy a new handbag

Buying a handbag is not an easy quest for yours truly. While I have a strong, unyielding passion for shoes, bags just don't get the juices flowing in quite the same way. Moreover, I'm particularly fussy about the need for a bag to sit across my body (the hands-free option) at an appropriate point (on my left hip more specifically - no easy feat at 177-8cms!). The item must also be good quality, soft leather and made somewhere where it is not likely that people were used/abused in the process of its creation. A tough list to satisfy, right?!

It took a few months of searching, but I finally found what has proven to be possibly my favourite handbag ever.

It's made by NAT & NIN, a company founded in France by sisters who shared a passion for leather goods. Some of their range is available at Morrison stores in Australia. For the quality and place of origin (Italian leather, made in France), they're extremely reasonably priced, in my opinion.

A couple of months since purchasing and I'm still as in love with this incredibly functional, soft, pretty handbag as I was the day it was purchased - it's definitely a favourite item that I know will get worn until it's hanging in shreds over my shoulder!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

30 before 30: #12 - spend time in Daylesford

Howdy bloggerinos. I may have taken a short spell of absence from the blogging world, but fear not, I have been slowly but surely working my way through my 30 before 30 list (only roughly a month to go - eeek!).

A few weeks ago, my beloved and I headed off to our favourite part of regional Victoria - Daylesford (and surrounds). We love this part of the world so much, that a year prior, decided to get married there. It seemed fitting that one year on we would return to celebrate the anniversary of this momentous occasion.

Our eatery of choice for a relaxed Sunday lunch was Mercato @ Daylesford - a contemporary, yet homely eatery only a short walk down the street from Daylesford's weekly Sunday market. We were early to arrive and snapped some pictures of an empty restaurant, which very quickly filled.

The meal was, without a doubt, one of the best I've had all year. I'll let the pictures do the talking:

Eye fillet of aged Kyneton Black Angus beef, sauteed mushrooms, kale, horseradish infused potato puree, caramelised shallots, cabernet sauce       42.50

Roasted breast of duck, truffle polenta, Swiss chard, pear salad, red currant jus     39.50

Roasted Brussels spouts, crisp Istra pancetta, hazelnuts      8.50

To round out the meal, we couldn't go past a date pudding, made all the more irresistible by the idea of ginger beer sorbet. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the combination of flavours in this dessert may be as close as I'm ever going to get to dessert Nirvana. My only regret? That I didn't insist on one of these all for myself!

Steamed date pudding, ginger beer sorbet, apple, salted caramel sauce      16.50

Suffice it to say: YUM!

After our delicious lunch we drove to Lake Daylesford and waddled our way around the Lake.

Now that we've done it twice, I'm going to proclaim that this walk is now an annual tradition. We even stopped on our way round (as we had a year prior) to take some shots of our favourite tree (oh yes, we have a favourite tree...we are *that* couple).

It gained preferred status, due to the rainbow of autumnal colours it bore on our wedding day. It was mainly a cherry colour all over this year, but still very pretty.

All up, a wonderful lunch and an even better husband. I'm one lucky gal!

Mercato on Urbanspoon