lebkuchen spice cookies

hearts and pom poms

Today is the project for awesome and I know I’ve already talked about how Christmas is for charity but seriously, guys, this is the time of year when it is oh so obvious who has and who has not.¬† Continue reading

mushroom stew with spicy chive scones

People, life is hard and full of disappointment.

It’s hard to get up in the morning when you know you won’t see daylight except out a window for nigh on nine hours.

It’s hard to live surrounded by boxes, but sometimes it’s harder to unpack those boxes to find out what lives inside.

It’s hard when your life is full of potential but you don’t know where you want to steer your ship.

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life happens

When does one become an adult?

When can a young man or woman stand in front of their peers and older adults and declare themselves to be officially grown up?

What are the markers that show the world that you have left  that middle space between complete dependence and complete independence behind? And why the heck do we have to go through it in the first place?

What happens when we get to adulthood, and how do we deal with leaving our safety net behind?

Life happens to all of us, but only some people happen to life.

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cupcakes, chocolate

I didn’t really know what to title this post because although there is a recipe for chocolate cupcakes at the end, it’s not really about the cupcakes. The cupcakes are a vehicle for me to talk about stuff.

I feel like lately life has been happening to me, rather than that I am actually living life. It might have to do with the fact that I’m living in a state of limbo and my life has been turned upside down this year. I don’t know what I want to do with my life or where I’m going and so I’m filling in time by working and baking and going to parties and weddings.

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almond plum tray bake

It’s the start of things! It’s the end of summer and the start of new beginnings. I’m excited. Are you excited?

I’m excited. I have a few tentative New Years resolutions. I don’t usually make them because I don’t like feeling guilty when they don’t work out. But I am putting out into the world some goals. Some things I would like to do this year, what I would like to happen in my life. At the same time, I’m going to be nice to myself if I don’t achieve my goals.

I know it’s almost February but now feels more like the time to be making goals and lists and plans. It’s the start of new things NOW. It’s almost the end of the holidays, the beginning of the academic year, the start of something new.

Here goes.

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chai spiced apple cake

I’ve been in a bit of a funk for the past few days. It started at approximately 1300 hours Perth time, Wednesday the 4th of January, when I boarded the plane bound for Melbourne. I really did not want to go home.

And then it continued, as I lazed around the house and didn’t do my washing and procrastinated my huge list of things to do. I didn’t bake, I read books and trawled the internet and definitively didn’t write any blog posts.

I started quite a few in my mind but every time I went to bake something there was something in the sink, or on the sink, and I was so lazy I couldn’t be bothered with dishes, either mine or anyone else’s.

That’s a lie. I was pretty good with my own dishes. Pretty good. Not perfect. But pretty good. Easy, seeing as I wasn’t eating proper meals anyway. (Mum, pretend you didn’t read that.)

But the funk is debunked. I have gone back to work and I did two loads of washing, I ate cabbage for dinner (no, really. It’s pretty amazing. I’ll tell you about it soon) and I baked a cake.

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swedish visiting cake

Every now and again, I get this urge to declutter. I have to get rid of my stuff and recently, it’s been gnawing at me a whole lot more. It’s not just the ‘oh, I have to tidy and I don’t really use that stuff anymore’; rather, I’m feeling like I need to live a lot simpler and enjoy life the way it was meant to be.

Plus, I have way too much stuff.

So recently, I’ve been sifting through the piles of stuff that I own and sorting them into piles. Stuff I want to keep, stuff I want to keep but don’t have room for at the moment, stuff I don’t want to keep, stuff I want to form into something else, stuff I’m using and stuff I’m not using. It’s a pretty big job and it doesn’t help that a lot of my stuff is still at my parents’ house. Yay, more stuff to go through.

My sister and I are planning to have a garage sale. We both have stuff to get rid of, but not enough for a sale each. (Although going through my stuff, I’m not so sure about that…:)

I come from a family of packrats. Hoarders. My Opa kept stuff in the back room, in his two garages and the tiny shed in the backyard, all over the back yard… my mum is queen of ‘we might use it later’ which is a mindset I’ve adopted. I’m also a collector, of sorts; I like pretty things, those free postcards, business cards, ribbons… I like to remember things.

I write things down and put them on my walls… I have a lot of paper related products lying around that need to go. Where, I’m not sure. They’ll probably end up in the recycling bin. Or possibly the fireplace, not sure yet.

With the help of Love and Trash, Courtney at be more with less, the bloggers at SuperForest and a whole bunch of other influences (including Jesus and some of his followers) I am on a journey to live simply so that others may simply live. On that note, let’s talk about cake.

This is a simple cake. It comes together in about ten minutes, takes about half an hour to bake and is simply delicious. It’s called a Swedish Visiting Cake and so in another, yet somehow related train of thought it immediately brings to mind not only visitors, but visiting – getting to know your neighbours, connecting with real people instead of a computer screen.

And yes, I’m aware that you’re reading this off a computer screen.

The point is that by learning to live without, others can live with. And you don’t even notice the difference, except that you’re happier, more content with yourself and with the world. Surprising, isn’t it?

So make the cake. Bring it to a neighbour’s house and share it over stories, stories that remind you that each person you encounter is the star of their own story, just as you are the star of your own.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Adapted from Baking: from my home to yours

zest of one lemon

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 tsp salt

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste/scrapings from one vanilla bean/two teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup plain flour*

125g butter, melted and cooled

 

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and butter your pan. Traditionally this is made in a cast-iron skillet. I don’t have one so I made it in a springform tin – I suggest using a nine-incher, as my ten-incher cake turned out a little thin. Not that I’m complaining…

Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until incredibly lemony and you can just help yourself licking your fingers. Or not. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Add the salt and vanilla and whisk until incorporated.

Fold in the flour, then the butter. Pour into your pan and sprinkle the almonds over the top. Bake about half an hour.

Share with strangers.

*The first time I made it, I made it with spelt flour and it was amazing. I think you could also do this with a mix of almond flour and perhaps another type of flour for the gluten-free among us. Just a thought.