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Head & Heart | March 2016

I know, I know. It’s been a while. I always say this, that I’m sorry (because I am), and you are always kind and forgiving (because you are).

But I’m here now, and we should probably catch up. Are you ready?

 

Head & Heart

What I’ve been grateful for:

  • Opportunity. Although I swore a million times that I’d never go back, I’m currently studying. There are files and textbooks and highlighters and post-it flags piled at my feet (and like any good student, I’m writing this while I procrastinate), and I’m oddly happy about it. My Day Job encouraged me to take the leap – I’m studying a graduate certificate in policy and governance at the Queensland University of Technology – and are really supportive about it all. #auspol #nerd
  • Opportunity 2: I’m off to Sydney for the first time! I’m heading over to check out the MAD conferenceat the freakin’ Opera House, no less! The biggest names in food (Kylie Kwong, David Chang, Massimo Boturra, Rene Redzepi) are talking Tomorrow’s Meal, and I can’t even believe that I’m going to be in that theatre, with so many incredible people. So out of my depth. So excited.
  • My girl gang. Last month, I gathered a bunch of ladies that I truly admire for a whole bunch of different reasons, and told them how incredible they were. Some run small businesses, some are creatives, others educators. They are all fierce, giving, kind and generous, and I wanted them to know each other and connect. It was magical and terrifying and I loved it.

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What I’ve been thinking about:

  • This piece – making friends on Twitter. It sums up my experience – mostly positive, highly educational, and the home of my tribe. I’ve met such wonderful people (mostly women) who I couldn’t live without, and I get to indulge in the things I love the most –  politics, comics and feminism – that would probably have my Facebook crew unfriending me in droves.
  • Youtube. I’m so behind on this whole thing, but I’m into now with gusto. With its plethora of cat and fail videos, there’s also so much to learn. And no, I’m not just talking about make up tutorials (though I love those too), there are so many incredibly smart women talking about really clever things. Karlie Kloss is talking to female entrepreneurs, Estee Lalonde is talking periods and sex, Rosianna Halse Rojas is chatting Shine Theory. It’s something I wish I had growing up, and even at almost 30, it’s still interesting and insightful.

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What I’m excited for:

  • Uh, SYDNEY. Bakeries! Wanderings! Adventures! Sephora! I plan on coming home with a very large box of panna cotta lamingtons from Flour and Stone, I’m going to find Black Star Pastry if it kills me, and I’ve already planned a dinner at Billy Kwong with my folks. Mum wants to spend some time wandering around The Rocks, probably catching the Manly Ferry. Other suggestions? Hit me up, I want to hear them pleaseandthankyou
  • If you, like me, make unholy squealing noises when you see cute fluffy things, then please meet Hicks the bunny. He belongs to my friends Marc and Lou, and I’m obsessed with his thumping paws and fluffy white tail. He’s also a sassy, sulking drama queen. I love/hate him.

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What I’ve been doing:

  • Winning the 4th Annual Office Bake-Off, nbd. It’s funny, everyone in my office is competitive for us, while Alex and I just like baking. This year, I submitted feta and herb biscuits, and a panna cotta tart with lemon curd and freeze-dried raspberry. I was pretty proud of that tart, it was a smushing of recipes and a lot of finger-crossing while hoping for the best. TRIUMPH.
  • Getting behind the Safe Schools program. It kills me that our government can be so cruel to speak about our kids in such a disgusting way, and it’s killing kids to not have access to such a vital program (LGBTQIA youth are six times likely to attempt suicide, and transgender people are 76% more likely. This. Is Not. Okay.). Write to your local Members of Parliament and demand that they support funding to Safe Schools. These kids deserve better.

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What I’ve been reading:

  • The shiny and new Broadsheet Perth. Edited by my friend and all round best guy Max Veehuyzen, it’s a website dedicated to the best in Perth. Now I know you think these are a dime a dozen, but Broadsheet does it better with content written by people who know and love what they do, and photography by the best in the business. There’s no washed-up, ex reality tv wannabes here, just quality writing.
  • This post about chocolate brownies, just in case you didn’t get enough chocolate over the weekend.
  • And this about throwing together a dinner party in under an hour. It’s a pretty excellent reminder to keep things simple, more than anything.
  • I attended the Perth Writer’s Festival last month and picked up a stack of books that I’m trying (and failing) to work through. I learned so much from seeing these women speak, and I can’t recommend their books enough!

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What I’ve been spending money on:

  • One of these La Lune prints from Chi Borello. I’m obsessed with everything she does, I can’t even tell you. I picked it up from La Luna, a rad homeware store in Inglewood, which I can no longer venture into unsupervised.
  • This phone case from Sportsgirl – easily the best $15 I’ve spent this month, because I never developed past being a 13 year old girl. This is why.
  • Breakfast at Satchmo Cafe in North Perth. There’s something I really love about Jewish cooking – the ritual of it, the intrinsic link between food and family, the tradition, and it goes without saying that I was excited when this beautiful café opened near home. It’s a place with energy, with a vibe. On weekends, there’s a band playing in the carpark, other days there’s 1950’s jazz wafting from the speakers. I twisted Rob’s arm into picking the brisket bagel, while I devoured the blueberry blintz, and they offer all kinds of different bagels and biscuits.

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Tell me about your month! What’s news?

 

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So this is Christmas | 2015 Gift Guide

Someone keeps telling me that Christmas is only 6 more Fridays away. How did that happen?! I promise myself every year that this one, I’ll be better organised. And what do you know? I’m not. You probably aren’t either, so at least we are in this together.

You’ve probably seen the posters up in windows, maybe being shared on Facebook, on why it’s so important to shop local, particularly at this time of year. Shopping local helps pay rent and mortgages, buys kids new shoes and school fees, literally puts food on the table – not buying a CEO from Amazon an extra week skiing in the south of France (even though I hear it’s really nice there this time of year).

Image via Jasmine Dowling Instagram

Image via Jasmine Dowling Instagram

I had so much fun compiling last year’s guide and there are SO MANY amazing new businesses that have popped up in the last 12 months, that I’m doing it again!

You can check out last year’s guide here.

The Herb Cart

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I read about Michael Ballentine’s adorable cart a couple of weeks ago, and I can’t stop thinking about how clever it is – kitchen ready herbs in biodegradable cups. How cute is that? He’ll be at this weekend’s Beaufort Street Festival, if you want to stop by and check out his chives.

La Luna

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A brand new addition to the already awesome Beaufort Street, La Luna has captured my attention with our shared love of all things astronomy. There is a gorgeous range of homewares, jewellery, and books. I’m obsessed with the copper fairy lights and artwork by Chi Borello.

Hampton The Label

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This is some seriously luxe lounge wear. There’s little I love more than a lazy day in my pajamas, but when you can look this damn gorgeous while you’re at it? I firmly believe in having nice things to make yourself feel beautiful, even when you’re sleeping, and I don’t think there’s anyone who does it better.

They’re also stocked by Clique Arcade, who I LOVE.

Strange Lane

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I love the girls at Strange Lane for their slightly out-of-the-box range, and hilarious, body positive Instagram (they try to use size 10-12 models). Their ‘Okay but first, coffee’ tee has my name allll over it.

Floral State

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Floral State has quickly become my favourite florist for their bright, cheerful posies. As a bonus, they come in a lovely jar, so you don’t have to worry about them wilting in the heat! Order before 11am for same day delivery.

WPN Wear

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Perth lad Daniel Jones has developed an awesome range of men’s active wear, for those who go hard. For all those Crossfit junkie out there, the extra stretch shorts look like a winner! There’s also a Kickstarter, if you’re out to stretch your dollar further.

Get Ya Fix

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If you’re one of the many asking Santa for a bike this Christmas, the guys from Get Ya Fix have you covered. Stocking beautiful fixies, the guys will kit you up while you carb-load in their rather excellent cafe.

Once Upon A Run

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West Coast Fever badass Shae Brown and her West Coast Eagle husband Mitch Brown have developed a line of awesome activewear that looks so good, I almost want to take up running. Almost. There is also a ‘push up’ store at Claremont Quarter.

Maslow & Co

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Subscription boxes are the gift that keeps on giving, and the beautiful new start-up Maslow & Co are no exception. Bi-monthly beauty boxes full of Australian goodness? Sign me up!
Note: You can buy just one as a gift

Sweet Little Box 

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Sweet Little Box is another subscription, but this one delivers you (almost) everything you need to make delectable baked goods, and then decorate it like a pro. I have a box due any day now, and I can’t wait!
Note: You can buy just one as a gift.

Olly’s Box

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Why should your four-legged friend miss out? The team from Olly’s Box deliver you a stash of awesome doggie treats, toys and accessories. Best of all, part proceeds go to dog shelters and charities across the country. P.S. Their Instagram feed? Full of adorable puppies. Get on that.
Note: You can buy just one as a gift.

Monstrositea

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Did you know that everyone’s oh-shit-back-up gift T2 is owned by Woolies? Because they are. So, if you want to love local, I firmly get behind Katherine’s gorgeous venture. Monstrositea have a special Christmas tin this year, where you can order a black/green or herbal tin (or a bit of everything, if you’re unsure) with a strainer, to have all your bases covered. They also offer some of my favourite packaging. Easy!

Also check out this piece on all the upcoming summer awesome. Perhaps your friends and family might like tickets to the Rooftop Cinema? The Lion King? Piaf?

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There are also PLENTY of upcoming markets:

If there are other events or businesses I should know about/include, PLEASE put them in the comments!

All images via their respective Instagrams, and links to websites are in bold.

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How-To | 5 Tips To Bake Like Katherine Sabbath

They tell you that you should never meet your idols, because you’ll almost always walk away disappointed.

I had no such luck when I recently met Katherine Sabbath. That lady is a dream.
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Katherine was brought to Perth for the first time by Kitchen Warehouse for a series of demonstrations to make her iconic melted ice cream cake.

I’m not going to lie to you – I got there 40 minutes early so I could nab a seat in the front row, like the dork that I am. I’m going to say this – and I just can’t emphasise it enough – she’s just so damn nice. While waiting for other attendees, she was happy to answer questions, talk about Instagram and her breakfast (Stimulatte in Subi, for those playing at home) and rearrange the bench to make sure no body missed out on seeing what she was doing.

Before long, it was show time.

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First and foremost: Her aprons are from Gorman. They are gorgeous. Buy them here.

Two: “If I want a chocolate cake, I want the richest chocolate cake I can. I definitely believe in only making a cake that you’d want to eat yourself,” Katherine says.

In fact, if you took away nothing else from her demos, let nugget of advice be it. She believes that by making cakes you want to eat, you’ll buy better ingredients, your passion will show through, and you’ll end up with a better cake as a result.

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Three: Time and patience.If you’re trying to make a towering masterpiece, try and give yourself 2-3 days to do it, so you don’t end up in a panicked, crying mess on the floor (I have no experience in that…), especially if it’s your first attempt. It also goes without saying that if it is your first time making something, do not mess with the recipe. 

Cakes come together best when they are cold, so throw every layer into the freezer for 15 minutes before you add another – it will help your cake hold its shape.

Four: Think you can’t recreate one of her cakes? THINK AGAIN. All of those cakes you see on Instagram are made in her tiny home kitchen. Even more impressive is that she’s only just invested in a Kitchen Aid. Yep, all of those incredible cakes were made with an electric hand mixer. The take away: if she can do it, so can you.

What I love most about home-taught chefs is that they know how to make do with what they’ve got. No Thermomixes, no Vitamixes, no ingredients that you need a chemistry degree to be able to pronounce. Those flawless sides on her cakes? Achieved with a cement scraper her dad bought her from Bunnings 10 years ago, when she couldn’t find or afford professional tools to keep up with what she needed.  (Something kind of like this)

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Home cooks also probably have jobs outside their craft – Katherine taught high school kids until this year, while whipping the internet into a frenzy. Your saving grace when you promised someone a cake for Friday night, but can’t skip work during the day? Your freezer. Katherine recommends making double batches of cakes or Swiss meringue buttercream next time you hit the kitchen, because both freeze beautifully for up to 3 months. Simply pull them out to defrost in the fridge overnight, and assemble the next day.

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Five: The fun part of cakes is obviously the decorating. Katherine recommends fresh and freeze dried fruits, Americolor pastes, edible flowers, chopped nuts, Valhrona crisp pearls, edible glitter and plenty of sprinkles. The key to those delicious signature drips? Colour melted white chocolate with either a gel paste or special chocolate colouring (supermarket water-based colours will seize the chocolate and ruin it), and gently coax the chocolate off the sides of a chilled cake with the back of a spoon.

Experiment! Have fun!

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Places to shop:

Additional tips and recipes:

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Brinner | Pea + Ricotta Fritters

Nothing pleases me more than the world realising what we’ve always known: No one breakfasts better than Australia. But while Sydney and Melbourne get all the glory, make no mistake – Perth is no slouch on the brunch front.

When my beloved Bitchez Who Brunch posted this beauty from Sayers Sister, it was an instant yes moment – everything I was craving in one go. Except, it was 4pm on a Tuesday, and who can wait until the weekend?

Enter: Brinner.

(brin-ner) adj. breakfast eaten at the time in which you eat dinner.
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This dish is full of spring goodness, and hits all the flavour points – sweet, salty, creamy and sharp, with plenty of green for smug. Perfect for your weekend’s brekky with the girls, or you know, tonight’s dinner. I’m not going to judge.

Pea + Ricotta Stacks with Prosciutto and Parmesan

Adapted from Donna Hay

400g fresh ricotta
2 tablespoons self raising flour
2 egg whites
3/4 cup frozen peas
8 slices prosciutto
Handful shaved Parmesan
Handful rocket leaves
2-4 eggs (depending on the number of people/how hungry you are)

In a frying pan over medium heat, fry the prosciutto until crispy, a couple of minutes each side. Set aside.

For the fritters, mix together the ricotta, flour, and mint in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the eggs into the ricotta mixture until just combined.

Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan (non stick, if you can, they’re sticky bastards), and spoon a couple of tablespoons into the pan and cook for 3 minutes each side until golden.

While the fritters cook, poach your eggs to the required doneness (if you need help).

Stack as follows: Fritter, prosciutto, rocket, Parmesan and repeat. I went 4 fritters high, and topped with a runny poached egg.

For extra fancy, I also drizzled with basil oil (recipe here), but that’s up to you.

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Getting Real | Green Chicken & Roast Vege Salad

So, there’s this thing that I’m feeling the need to talk about. It’s not earth shattering, I’m not dying, I’m not coming out, but it’s one of those Big To Me things. It’s weird and uncomfortable to say out loud, and maybe I’m over sharing? I’ve changed my mind about publishing this a hundred times, but I guess I’m hoping this helps me stay accountable. Feel free to skip on, if this ain’t your jam, it’s totally cool.

So, I got fat.

This didn’t happen overnight, obviously. This has been a slow descent to madness for many years, and I know that.

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Now, there is nothing wrong with being ‘fat’. The national average is a size 14 but most clothing stores stop stocking clothes after a 12. There are ‘fat’ girls running marathons, and I went to high school with a girl who was a size 6, but her food diary showed that the closest she came to vegetables was the lettuce in Big Macs. Health and beauty does not equal size. And we, as a population, do not get to judge people for the size they are, because you are not their doctor and you don’t know what they are capable of. No ‘real girls have curves/booty/abs/whatever’, because that’s simply not true either. This isn’t about being ‘beach body ready’ or any of that crap. It’s about being comfortable in my own life and skin, and the part where I am not.

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There are a whole pile of reasons for this happening. A couple of bad relationships, that post-teenage-I-can-eat-what-I-want-what’s-a-metabolism phase, and a deep, profound love of fried chicken burgers (I’ll never let go, Varsity) are all key players. But it comes down to me, apathy and denial. I can’t blame a lack of education, I know exactly what to eat and what to do. Quite simply, I just don’t do it.

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It doesn’t help is being ‘The Food Friend’. I’m a food blogger, that’s why you’re here, and the fun, dirty milkshakes are more interesting than kale. Pictures of doughnuts get 150 likes, green tea gets 30, I get it, I’d rather look at cake too! But then the cake has to be eaten, and I do not have the willpower to let cake go to waste, because I. Love. Cake.

I haven’t seen much of my friends this year because feeling like shit pairs beautifully with my general anxiety disorder. I don’t want people to see me like this, and it doesn’t really matter, because even if I DID want to, I have nothing to wear. I tried to buy a nice pair of jeans to wear to a party a little while ago, and I couldn’t find any. I came home and cried for 45 minutes. I bailed on the party.

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And then about a month ago, something in my brain flipped. I don’t want to feel like this any more. I was angry all the time, I was anxious and none of these things were manifesting in positive ways. This is not who I am. I’m fiercely smart, funny, fearless. I like to dance and have adventures. I’m a good friend, and right now, I’m not being a good friend. I’m in love with a guy who doesn’t care whether I’m 50 or 500 kilos, but he makes me want to be the best possible version of me. And like the stupid motivational posters in my gym say, nothing changes unless you do (is there anything worse than smug posters being right? Nope) and I need to change.

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So now, I spend my lunch breaks at the gym. I eat simple lunches that I’ve learned to dress up so I don’t go mad and gnaw off my arm. I still hate avocado, and refuse to get on board this spaghetti squash thing, because pasta is a religion and Lalla Rookh is my church. And don’t get me started on those #cleaneats #cheatday #crossfit jerks, because I want to punch them in their stupid faces.

Speaking of lunches, I’m currently eating my way through this salad, topped with this chicken (and liberally sprinkled with dukkah, because I put it on everything), and it’s fucking delicious and very easy. I mean, it’s me eating kale, which I never thought would happen, but it is, and it’s good. 

I made one batch of this on Sunday night for work, and I’m getting about 4 days out of it. FANTASTIC.

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What I Love | Woman Crush Wednesday

The Internet is a both a blessing and a curse. So often I have days where I end up infuriated, heartbroken and frustrated by the goings on that it’s all I can do to turn off my phone and put it away, rather than throw it into the ocean, never to be seen again.

And then there are days where I scroll through my various social media channels and are met with post after post of little fist bump moments, which makes everything seem possible. Creating beautiful or delicious things, righting wrongs, teaching others or just generally kicking ass and taking names, I’m pretty excited by the amazing work of so many others.

So today, we’re striking out and doing a #womancrushwednesday – a tribute to a bunch of ladies who do work I can’t get enough of. Some I know, some I stalk from afar don’t, but all are women worth knowing.

This Little Pig Went To Market

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The women from This Little Pig Went To Market (sisters Katherine Jess) are here to save your life. Well, kind of.

With life getting busier and busier, This Little Pig makes life just that little bit easier, by delivering simple, good-for-you meal kits to your door that are, most importantly, bloody delicious. Delivered Saturday and Wednesday, and come loaded with gorgeous fresh produce from suppliers like Torres Butchers, Noodle Forum, Duck Duck Mother Goose and Subi Farmers Market. Everything you need (minus a splash of oil here and there) comes in the box, from marinated meats to dressing to finish the dish. All you have to do is throw it all together (with the funny and adorable instructions clearly laid out for you), and nothing takes longer than 40 minutes. The girls are passionate, knowledgeable, friendly and kind – generally all-round lovely humans.

Katie Willcox

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A friend pointed me to Katie Willcox’s movement after a particularly bad day (buying jeans is torture, I swear). In the lead up to bikini body/summer workouts/blah blah blah season, it might be worth checking in from time to time to remind yourself that yes, you are beautiful, worthy, and fucking badass, no matter what you look like. With 86 thousand followers on Instagram, I’m thrilled that her message is getting across to girls (and women) everywhere.

Iron Chef Shellie

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Shellie Froidevaux has an unknown (to her) superpower: to turn me into a starving, drooling mess in about 3 seconds. Don’t believe me? Take a look at her incredible food photography for yourself. Warm, colourful and 100% delicious. Plus, her website is gold – Salted caramel tart, anyone? Don’t pretend you wouldn’t. Oh, and if you’re on Twitter, she regularly live tweets If You Are The One. Hilarious.

Tiah Eckhardt-Delaney

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You probably know Tiah without knowing exactly why you know her. Tiah is the face of Berlei, Frank Body, Wheels and Dollbaby, Honey Birdette and Dita Von Teese and looks like a completely different person every single time, running the gauntlet of girl-next door to full scale minx, from high fashion to Helmut Newton-inspired dream.

She has wealth of experience in the fashion to shoot down any misconceptions about the industry, she doesn’t shy away from either how ridiculous it can be, but also how hard she and others work. She’s perfectly placed to call out the ridiculous double standards when it comes to women, beauty standards, nudity and sexuality.

But what I probably love most about Tiah is that there is straight up and down ZERO bullshit. She’s tough, fiery, honest, funny, and a massive dork. Plus, she’s from Rockingham, so you know she’s completely unfuckwithable.

She’s coming back to town as the face of the Telstra Fashion Festival in September, and you can follow her in Instagram here (milly NSFW).

Pixel Coffee

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Oh, Pixel. You’re an Instagram lover’s dream, with your white and mint tiles, adorable cups, copper details and COLD BREW ON TAP.

Pixel strikes the perfect balance between dishes that are good for you, with gorgeous bits to treat yourself with. But it’s the cake that has my heart (as always), and oh, how I love those cakes.

In a world where cakes are increasingly inspired by Katherine Sabbath or Unbirthday Bakery (and there’s nothing wrong with that, I take inspiration from those ladies), I love Pixel’s simpler, but no less beautiful offerings. It inspires me to life my day-to-day cakes to a higher standard (and the team at work could not be happier).

Go. Eat. Be happy.

K Gets Organised

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You’ve probably seen me talk about Kelsie before – but buckle in, I’m going to do it again.

As someone who still has trouble colouring in the lines at 28, I’m always completely and utterly in awe of anyone with artistic talent. Kelsie has this in spades. I mean, she paints doughnuts on stationery, OF COURSE I’m completely on board for this. She’s so talented and makes the most beautiful things (see my Hole Foods logo – yup, that’s her work too).

PLUS: I’m giving away some of her lovely goods! YOU CAN WIN THINGS! I have a little bundle of gorgeous things worth over $60, including cards, notepads and the ‘Let’s Do This’ case (my favourite!). Just tell me in the comments what’s on your to do list, and a winner will be drawn on 5 August!

So, tell me: who is inspiring you lately?

All images from their respective Instagrams.

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Throes of Winter | Spiced Strawberry Ricotta Cake

The last few weekends have been pure Bri-bliss. Grey, cloudy, rainy, general miserable weather. Monday’s small talk around the coffee machine end in my gleeful recounting my weekend tales – ‘I didn’t leave the house once‘ – and then my colleagues looking at me like I’m mildly crazy and back away slowly.

You see, that is my heaven. In the throes of winter (as much of one as we get in our fair city), you bet your ass I’m going to build a nest on my couch, read books and drink more cups of tea than recommended.

I was struck with idea lightning on one of these weekends – all the tea I was drinking needed a side of cake to go with it. The idea came to me fully formed: I didn’t want to spend much time in the kitchen (it was a really good book I was reading), I wanted the lightness of ricotta, nothing too sweet, but maximum Wintry spice flavour. And so, this came to be.

This is one of those perfect cakes that you serve up for a friend who’s come over for coffee and a catch up. Then, once they’ve gone home, it just sits on the kitchen bench, and every time you walk past, you cut off a sliver to munch on as you go about your business. Sliver by delicious sliver, the cake won’t last the weekend!

Spiced Strawberry Ricotta Cake

Adapted from Bon Appetit

1½ cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1½ cups ricotta
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cardamom
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
57g unsalted butter, melted
1 cup strawberries (or any berries, fresh or frozen), halved of large
Icing sugar, to dust.

Preheat oven to 180°c. Grease a springform cake pan with butter or oil, and line the bottom with baking paper.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt in a large bowl.

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In a medium sized bowl, beat together the eggs, ricotta, and vanilla until smooth. Gently fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Add the butter, and again fold to combine.

Pour the batter into the cake pan, and then poke the strawberries evenly into the mixture.

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Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then cool completely on a wire rack. When ready to serve, dust with icing sugar.

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