A Safari in South Africa

Upon travelling to South Africa I was removed from the humdrum busy-ness of Sydney city and placed in a world of vast green landscapes with lots of sunshine and animals roaming freely.

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Staying at a beautiful little cottage-like guesthouse called Heritage House, which was in a close-by town called St. Lucia, we traveled to game parks, reserves, beaches and estuaries each day to see the wildlife.

The customer service at Heritage House was divine. We were greeted with an offering of tea and coffee complimented by delicious date & coconut balls, traditional homemade buttermilk rusks (which I’m dying to try baking at home) and dark chocolate truffles.

Each morning there was full breakfast served. Upon arrival to brekkie we were immediately asked how we would like our eggs (sunny side up please) and then promptly a large plate of eggs, bacon, mushrooms, onion, and toast would arrive. On the side we had a buffet of cocktail glasses filled with greek yogurt/berry compote/muesli alongside more toast, spreads, tea, coffee, juice, buttermilk rusks and cereal.

I could wax lyrical about the delightful food available, but undoubtedly the best part of the trip was the time we spent at Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Game Park, just one hour or so from where we were staying. We woke at

That day we woke at 5am and were driven in a safari truck by a local Zulu tour guide named Tsebo (pronounced with a click of the tongue at the beginning), who was so passionate about the animals and plant life that it made the day even more enjoyable.

We spent the day spotting animals, had some hair-raising encounters with moody elephants in musth, and (astoundingly) managed to see all of the Big 5 – African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros.

Here is some of what I managed to capture, even though most of the time I was so in awe of the animals I forgot about taking pictures:

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xx

 

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Savannah Red, for AFRICA

 

Getting Lost Amongst the Sea Shells | Hawks Nest Getaway

And JUST after we finished up with the Easter long weekend, we were blessed with yet another long weekend due to Anzac day (see the awesome, slightly excessive cookie I baked here).

I was luckily enough to be invited up for a trip to Hawks Nest for the weekend, which is one of my favourite coastal getaways, as it brings back memories of countless holidays I had there as a kid.

It’s just a 2 hour drive from Sydney, and I’ve always had a secret love for the peacefulness of car trips, but I did bring my book The Girl on the Train to help pass the time. Side note on the book: it’s incredible. If you haven’t read it, make sure you do, although beware it’s very addictive and easy to get lost in. Or, take the lazy route and watch the movie, because it’s one of the few films that is as exciting as the book.

We were only up at the holiday house for 3 days, and in that time we grabbed night-time ice creams, went for walks on the beach where I practiced my photography on the seashells, did bike rides, went for ocean swims and did a bunch of bush walks. Below is a pic I snapped on a cycle to Winda Woppa, which I took just as the sun was setting. The scenery was breath-taking, and I really took a moment to soak it all up.

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My favourite day by far was bang in the middle when we took the speedboat out for the day. The best feeling in the world is having a salty ocean breeze dancing on my face and hair, and this was perfect with the sun shining down and warming us up. We sped around the bay admiring the houses and beaches in the Nelson’s Bay area and stopped to grab coffees at a cute little dockside coffee station at midday. We wrapped up the day at Tea Gardens (neighbouring suburb) and sat at a quaint cafe for tea and scones which were delicious.

I had a divine weekend and was a little upset when it was over so quickly. I’m already excited to go back and if you ever get the chance to go to Hawks Nest, it’s the perfect place for a beachside holiday in a location that isn’t too built-up or populated.

xx

 

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Sunshine yellow ~ for the perfect getaway

 

Baking a GIANT Anzac Cookie | Anzac Long Weekend

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Okay so I know a lot of my past posts have been super food related – and I will diverge from this trend soon, but I couldn’t resist blogging about my GIANT Anzac cookie!

For those non-Australians (or unaware Australians) reading, Anzac Day is a Public holiday held in commemoration of the first military action initiated by Australian and New Zealand forces in the first world war. Hence, ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Traditionally, we bake Anzac cookies (a sweet biscuit made of rolled oats and syrup) on the day, in memory of the soldier’s staple food which was a hardtack biscuit (no sugar involved) which wouldn’t go mouldy. Obviously, the soldiers didn’t get the yummy, gooey goodness of the Anzac biscuits we bake today, but nevertheless it’s a tradition that goes on. If you are interested in more of the history click here.

Because I love doing things in excess, instead of baking lots of little biscuits, I decided to whip up one giant cookie. If you want to make it yourself, just preheat your oven to 170˚C and mix 150g melted butter, 2 tbsp golden syrup, 1.25 cups of self-raising flour, a dribble of water, 1 cup rolled oats and 1/2 cup caster sugar together. Then use your hands to spread it into a giant cookie and bake for 17 minutes or until golden brown.

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I had a slice of cookie with some hot cocoa in my favourite ‘Life is Beautiful’ Mug. As simple as it is, I love having a funny/inspirational message on my mugs to start the day and this one has to be my favourite.

If you want an fun mug to cheer you up at the start of the day, I recently found these awesome animal ‘life is beautiful’ mugs. You have to admit they are absolutely adorable… if you’re a sucker for cute things like me. They would make a great gift as well!

Here are some more awesome mug designs:

Enjoy!! Have you made ANZAC cookies before? Comment below and we can chat 🙂

xx

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Poppy Red, in commemoration of the ANZAC soldiers

Easter Carrot Cake Cupcakes | Perfect Tea Party

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This easter long weekend I decided to have an Easter Tea Party to celebrate. It was the perfect morning tea to begin the day with close friends and family.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes are the perfect size to enjoy the carrot-cinnamon flavour, without feeling ill off a massive piece of cake. I do my Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Betty Crocker Vanilla Icing (because it really is the tastiest), but they are also delicious with cream cheese icing ← I’ll link my go-to recipe.

I decorated the cupcakes with edible mini wafer flowers (which you can buy at most supermarkets) and complemented the cupcakes with warmed hot cross buns, choccy eggs and Earl Grey Tea. Delicious!

Recipe (makes 6)

You will need:

  • 2/3 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 grated large carrot or 1 grated medium carrot
  • 1 egg

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C, line a cupcake baking tin with patty pans.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking powder in a large bowl and stir.
  3. Slowly mix in carrot and oil
  4. Beat egg in separate bowl and then mix in with all ingredients
  5. Pour mixture in patty pans (about 2/3 full)
  6. Bake for 18 minutes

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Then enjoy!! Happy Easter everybody, hope you have a lovely weekend whether you celebrate it or not 🙂

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Baby Pink – the perfect soft, Easter colour

Do you have something special you do on Easter? Leave a comment – I’d love to chat 🙂

xx

Escaping to Byron Bay on a Whim

For months now my best friend and I have been playing with the idea of doing a sporadic trip away to experience something different from Sydney for a couple of days. So, about a month ago (on a whim) we just thought FUCK it and booked tickets to Byron Bay.

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Byron Bay is a coastal town in Australia and is only an hour flight (or an uncomfortably long 9 hour drive) from Sydney. It’s got beautiful beaches and bushwalks (one to the Byron Lighthouse pictured above) but is also known for its relaxed, hippie vibe and alternative culture – it has lots of vegan destinations, where you can find eco-friendly products.

We wanted to keep the trip pretty cheap since we booked last minute and didn’t have reams of cash to work with. The flights weren’t too cruel to the budget but we tried to be cost effective with accommodation. We stayed in a caravan park, only a 10 minute walk from the centre of town, and were given a sweet little cabin which had a double bed, a stove, microwave, tv, eating area and a small bathroom. Since we didn’t plan to spend that much time in our rooms it was absolutely perfect.

We stayed 7 days, and spent time swimming on the main beach, shopping, buying ice-creams from the local favourite In The Pink (I was a fiend for the chunky MARS icecream), trying restaurants and doing walks along the beach and to some of the look-out points over the ocean:

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On one of the days we took a trip to a highly recommended place called The Farm, which is a community owned farm (that you can take a look around) which uses some of its produce for a great restaurant called the Three Blue Ducks. We made the grand mistake of deciding to walk from Byron to the restaurant (in 33˚C heat I’ll add), which took about 1.5 hours, so by the time we got there we were ravenous and felt like we were going to collapse from dehydration.

Luckily, the restaurant had delicious lunch options and I indulged in sticky pork ribs with lime, and quenched my thirst with hibiscus, elderflower, ginger & tumeric kombucha. We were sitting on wooden benches right in the middle of the farm and had roosters waltzing around our feet as we ate.

A couple of nights we tried Byron’s bars (which have a huge backpacker demographic) and our favourite by far was the Railway Bar. It was very casual (I rocked up wearing flip flops) and had people all ages enjoying a drink together. Some nights we didn’t feel like going out, and instead bought ingredients to make nachos, pasta or burritos, which we would enjoy in bed whilst watching TV.

I also found the Love Byron Bay chocolate ’boutique’, and I’m still deciding if it was an amazing or concerning discovery. After I found out that they sold almost every type of chocolate under the sun (they even had 100% Ecuadorian dark chocolate) I must have spent about AU$15 every day just buying bars of choccy to taste.

All in all we had a wonderful week relaxing and enjoy our time together and we will definitely go back. It was about my fifth time to Byron, and every time I go I discover a whole lot more – I would definitely recommend travelling there if you get the chance!

xx

 

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Dodger blue for an exciting escape

 

Phuket Travel Diaries | Phi Phi Islands, Patong Beach dance shows, Old Phuket Town…

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Phuket was a stark change to the organised chaos of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Bangkok, as we were thrown into island life where there was no set schedule to anything and locals worked off their own sense of time.

The first thing I noticed was the heat. Although the temperature was almost the same as the past few cities (around 35˚C) it was an intense, unshaded heat which baked the earth rather than the muggy, humid heat we got in Bangkok/HCMC that felt like we were constantly taking a warm shower. As unpleasant as that sounds it gave us the perfect excuse to go swimming every chance we got.

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We stayed in Old Phuket Town, just a short bus trip away from all the major beaches. Old Phuket Town (pictured above) is quite different from other destinations in Phuket as it is seen as the historical part of the city and showcases colourful colonial architecture from European influence dating back centuries ago.

Walking down these historical main roads was surreal as it felt like we were caught in a time capsule far away from the frenzy of urban streets, riddled with dirt and smog, which we had gotten used to.

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On two of the days we took tours out to explore the Phi Phi islands by speedboat, which was the highlight of my whole Asia trip. My favourite was the Sunrise Tour where we began the day speeding into the sun peeking over the horizon. Stopping off at various beaches and lagoons such as Maya Bay (pictured above) we had breakfast on the beach and were able to snorkel in the warm, pristine blue waters. The day was broken up by a traditional Thai lunch (various curries, stir fried morning glory, spiced meats and battered fish) at a restaurant on one island.

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What was most fascinating was how little the islands had been built up. After the destruction of the boxing day Tsunami in 2004, it was only recently that people have started building on the islands again. This meant that all of the islands were covered in undisturbed, dense jungle.

A final destination of note was Patong Beach. Known for its party scene, it has a main strip of bars and clubs that come alive in the evening. On our first night out we went for dinner at an Italian place that did really authentic cheese covered pizza (not very Thai, but still delicious). After filling ourselves up we popped in and out of a couple of nightclubs which were brimming with good dance music and enthusiastic party-goers. Towards the end of the night we stumbled into a ping pong show which was more shocking than I expected. If you are familiar with ping pong shows you will know what I mean when I say it was definitely an experience I’ll never forget but never attend again.

All in all Phuket was wildly different to any of the other places we had been and we really enjoyed our time immersing ourselves in the island life.

xx

 

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Turquoise blue for the calm, clear Phuket sea

 

Valentines Day Red Velvet Cake for Two

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Happy Valentines Day!

Here is my super simple recipe for a small Red Velvet cake with Cream Cheese icing that can be shared between two.

This cake is very moist and fluffy, and is a delicious way to end the day spent with a special someone.

You will need:

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  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 7ml red food colouring

Steps:

Preheat oven to 200˚C. In a small bowl place cocoa powder and red food colouring and mix. Add dribbles of water until the mixture becomes a smooth, velvet red paste.

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Pour/sift all remaining ingredients into a large bowl and beat until smooth and fluffy. Then stir in red velvet cocoa paste.

Then you will need to grease the cake tin with butter. I used a small tin, since its a small cake, around 10cm in diameter. Afterwards, pour the mixture into the tin.

Bake for 30 minutes on 200˚C, or take out when the cake has risen significantly and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

For the icing you can make your own cream cheese icing, or you can cheat a little and just use Betty Crockers vanilla icing which goes perfectly with the cake as well!

To make cream cheese icing just beat together 70g cream cheese, 40g unsalted butter softened and 1/2 cup icing sugar. Then ice away. Voila!

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I chose to slice the cake in half horizontally, and then do a layer of icing in the middle. Then, I coated the entire cake with the icing, and pumped little decorations around the base and on the top. Finally, I garnished with chopped fresh strawberries and an edible flower.

This cake is so tasty which makes it great for a special occasion like Valentines Day, or any day of the week you feel like it!

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Enjoy

xx

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Velvet red, for a delicious and easy to make cake for two