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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So this is Christmas | 2014 Gift Guide

It’s here. Are you ready?

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

As I spend FAR too much time on the internet, I’ve pulled together some of my favourite local businesses and their fabulous wares for you so you don’t have to (spend too much time on the internet, that is).

Ready to get started?

Studio Bomba

 

Image via Studio Bomba Instagram

Image via Studio Bomba Instagram

I am utterly shameless in my love for all things Studio Bomba. You can visit their Oxford street abode, have coffee and nibbles from the delightful Kane at Dapper Jack (I love a man in a bow tie, can you tell?), then browse their carefully curated delights in the Bomba shop and On A Whim clothing. AND, if you’re particularly pressed for time, they have just opened up an online store! Could it be any simpler? I particularly love their cards, which have me in stitches, the candles which smell like heaven, and their vintage inspired toy section.

 

Gipsy Boy Boutique

Image via Gipsy Boy Instagram

Image via Gipsy Boy Instagram

Sister team Bekki and Kacie are delivering the goods for our friends in the north! Stocking the much sought-after Nina Marlena skulls (seriously, good luck finding an Atlas skull anywhere), Bahen & Co chocolate, and the most gorgeous collection of vintage teacups, there’s nothing not to love! Kacie and I have been friends for several years, and I can 100% vouch for her ability to pick out the perfect vintage finds. Also, if you’re looking for an outfit for your various Christmas shennanians, they stock Finders Keepers, Evil Twin, Mink Pink, The Fifth Label, and Somedays Lovin, as well as Zanerobe for the fellas. If you get a little peckish, they also have an excellent café to fuel your decision-making process (the answer is yes, you should buy it in every colour).

 

Little Posy Co

 

Image via Little Posy Co Instagram

Image via Little Posy Co Instagram

I’ve hoped this idea would take off for ages; a 4 or 10 week subscription of beautiful flowers delivered to your door for $30 per week. The posies are simple, rustic and utterly charming, and it’s something that would make any lady in your life smile. Details of their Christmas offer can be found here.

 

Zolich

Image via Zolich Instagram

Image via Zolich Instagram

Samantha and Kelly Flemming are another awesome sister duo, specialising is spectacular statement jewellery.  You can shop online or at their MANY 6160 store (which is where I picked up some gorgeous rings as a present to myself on the weekend. I’m not even sorry), which is worth a visit to bask in the general beauty of their stone pieces alone.

 

The Neon Burrow

Image via The Neon Burrow Instagram

Image via The Neon Burrow Instagram

If you’ve got an eye for details, or perhaps a fashion addict sister or girlfriend to buy for, The Neon Burrow has you covered! From gorgeous silk scarves, colourful statement necklaces, funky tennis shoes, to homewares, there isn’t much they don’t stock! I  personally love the delicate rings from Deer Ruby and totes from Briggs & Boots

 

Angove Street Collective

Image via Debra Hayes Florist Instagram

Image via Debra Hayes Floral Instagram

Angove Street in North Perth has a treasure in this space – the Perth Upmarket markets that you love have a physical store for you to hunt for treasures! There are also flowers by Debra Hayes, gifts for gents (Status Anxiety wallets are my favourite, I highly recommend them) and a café that stocks juices from Pure Glow Cleanse, if you wanted a sneaky taste before committing to one of their cleanses.

 

Monstrositea

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Image via Monstrositea Instagram

 

You may remember Katherine from our chat a little earlier this year – if there is a tea lover in your life, there is no better way to indulge their daily ritual than with a subscription! They also have a gorgeous shop full of accessories and favourite specialty teas, which is worth a visit if you want to curate a special tea themed gift.

 

Micrology Coffee Roasters

 

Image via MCR Instagram

Image via MCR Instagram

If you’re a coffee junkie, then you should already be familiar with the lads from Micrology – they can be spotted out and about at festivals locally, and generally kicking ass and taking names as in independent coffee roaster. They too offer subscriptions, as well as a shop stocked with all the good kit – Chemex cups, drippers, Aeropress, Hario cold press, and Uppercup reusable cups (someone please buy me one, they’re gorgeous!). You can check out their Instagram for brew-spiration.

 

Welly’s Wonders

Image via Welly's Wonders facebook

Image via Welly’s Wonders facebook

love Welly’s Wonders! If you’ve got little tykes to buy for, look no further than the utterly gorgeous illustrations by husband and wife duo, Adam and Demelza Haines. Adam is a disgustingly talented illustrator (he worked for freakin’ Lucasfilm and Disney!), and Demelza is well, a force to be reckoned with – and the author of their first book! Full disclosure, Demelza has been a friend of mine for many years, which really only makes me happier to tell anyone who will listen about her wares. I have an influx of friends due next year, and they will ALL be getting a copy of Jenkins the Hare to read to their bubs, because he’s bloody adorable.

 

Should you require further inspiration, check out:

 

Please, if you know other events or if there are local businesses you love, throw them in the comments to share the love!

Happy shopping!

Bri xx

Ain’t no one got time for that| Banoffee Pavlova

Pot lucks and picnics, dinner parties and barbecues, shindigs and hootenannies. There’s a myriad of pre-Christmas catch-ups in the pipeline for all of us, so in the interest of being prepared (and also greedy) I’m lining up a couple of crowd-pleasing recipes for you to keep in your back pocket!

First up, Banoffee Pavlova.

Pavlova is pretty traditional at this time of year. I mean, why WOULDN’T you take complete advantage off all of that beautiful seasonal fruit? Uh, because everything is made better with cream and caramel, and fruit makes it almost look like healthy, and you know I ain’t got time for that. Obviously.

I made this a couple of weeks ago for a food bloggers picnic (Thanks Bryton for organising!), and good gravy, it was tasty. You know you’re onto a winner when no one could resist eating dessert first!

Meringue remains a current obsession of mine, which is fuelled by the fact that my gas oven is basically a furnace, running faaaar too hot to bake pavlova properly. Every time I make one, it doesn’t fails, which infuriates me, which gives me a steely resolve to get the next one right, which then fails, rinse, repeat. If you’re having some trouble with your pavlovas, I found this to be really helpful with troubleshooting.

Hell, if you get really stuck, you can buy a pavlova and just throw this together… Though, as always, making your own is a thousand times more satisfying. Trust me on this, a well-made meringue is a thing of great beauty.

 

 

Banoffee Pavlova

300g caster sugar
5 large egg whites

2-3 medium sized ripe bananas, sliced
250g tub mascarpone
½ cup whipping cream
½ – ¾ cup caramel sauce, approx (I used El Asador dulce de leche, but you can make your own, or even use Top N Fill in a pinch)
2 Crunchie/Violet Crumble or Flake bars, crushed

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread the sugar over the tray in an even layer, then bake for 5 minutes to melt the edges.

Place the egg whites in a bowl and whisk on low (either with a freestanding mixer or electric beater) until they froth up a little bit, then increase the speed and beat until stiff peaks form. Remove the sugar from the oven, turn the temperature down to 100°C and leave the door open a little to help cool the oven down. With the mixer on high, add a spoonful of sugar to the egg mixture at a time. Once sugar is combined, continue whisking for a further 5 minutes until stiff, smooth and glossy.

Carefully spoon the meringue onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper (I split mine into two), making a little well in the middle. Bake for two hours, then turn off the oven and leave to cool completely.

When ready to serve, combine the mascarpone and whipping cream, and whip together until it forms soft peaks. Spoon half of the cream over each pavlova, then top with 1 sliced banana, half the caramel sauce (there’s no such thing as too much caramel, so if you need more, use more!) and 1 crumbled Crunchie/Flake bar. VERY carefully place one pavlova on top of the other, and serve.

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Image via @brytontaylor Instagram

 

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Perth is awesome – Summer Edition

Ohboyohboyohboy! SUMMER’S HERE.

Are you familiar with Neil Gaiman? He’s pretty much one of my favourite human beings in the whole entire ‘verse. If you haven’t read his book American Gods, then we really can’t be friends. BUT. The point of my story is, he did a book reading recently and said this:

 “If your question is ‘how do I find adventure?’ The answer is: go out. Make it. For yourself and for others.”

Guys and girls, let’s be honest. There is nothing like Perth in summer. Beaches, bars, parks, sports, markets… In short, all the things you need to make your own adventure.

So, ladies and gentlemen, lets start crossing dates off your calendar. It’s going to be a long, hot and BUSY one.

  • First cab off the rank? The City of Perth’s Christmas festivities kick off Friday night – they’re turning on the Christmas lights with entertainment and general funness.
  • The Twilight Hawkers markets kick off Friday night in Forrest Chase – I’m heading in for my empanada fix.
  • THIS SATURDAY. Beaufort Street Festival. Go. Pick up a copy of Recipe and Ramblings, it contains a recipe from me! If anyone needs me on the day, I’ll be hiding in the cardboard box village.
  • On Sunday, check out Meet the Gardener for Perth Heritage Days. I’m off to check out Harold Boags Gardens in West Perth, beautifully cared for by Evan from Common Ground.
  • A fun run in santa suits? Yep, that’s happening.
  • TriFest West 2012 is on at Hilary’s Boat Harbour, a triathalon and multisport expo.
  • TEDx is on December 8 – come hear some ideas worth sharing!
  • Thursdays are no longer for wishing it was Friday, but the Subi Sunset Food Markets.
  • Tuesday sees the final for Fat Shan’s Open Mic Night. Local music – get on it.
  • The Mexican Film Festival is on. Chekkit.
  • Light Up Leederville is a festival on December 8, and it has EVERYTHING.
  • Yelp is offering FREE yoga classes in Northbridge.
  • On William are putting on another round of their popular Illuminites night markets.
  • Rooftop Movies need no introduction. I can’t wait to check out their program!
  • Sign up for the inaugural The Color Run – I have, god help me!
  • Test out your ability to multitask or balance with stand up paddle boarding – trust me, if I can do this, so can you. I love it!

As always, if you want to know what’s happening around town keep in the loop with: Yelp Perth, Six Thousand, We Love Perth, Show Me Perth, and your local councils.

What else are you looking forward to that’s coming up?

P.S. Thanks to those who entered my 15 Minute Meals comp, and congratulations to Stacey for taking it out. Happy cooking x

Womaning. I’m doing it wrong.

According to social research, 49% of women under the age of 30 can’t roast a chicken. Apparently, this makes us bad women. Also, only 20% of women can bake a lamington, but we’ll tackle that another day.

Every Christmas, I throw my friends a pre-Christmas dinner catch up. We do presents, wine, dinner, wine, ridiculous desserts, more wine. It’s fabulous and delicious. It’s also a great excuse for me to buy many, many cookbooks in the name of ‘research’. Winning!

This year, I wanted to do something I’d never tried before.
So, in the name of impressing my friends and being a ‘better’ woman, I learnt how to spatchcock and roast a chicken.
Want to know what’s brilliant about this technique? It’s stupidly easy. It looks really impressive. And once you’ve prepped the chook, it just needs to go into the oven. That’s it!

Spatchcock, or butterflying, a chicken is very simple. It’s just a matter of cutting out the backbone, flipping it over, and pressing the chicken until the breast bone breaks. I followed this video from Food Wishes (Chef John sounds the way I imagine one of those jolly fat chefs you see would, he’s fantastic), all you need is a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, and away you go.

Preserved Lemon & Rosemary Chicken

1 whole fresh free range chicken
1 wedge of preserved lemon
2 small/medium whole lemons
7 cloves of garlic, 2 roughly chopped, the rest whole and in their paper skins
Bunch of rosemary
Olive Oil
Butter
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 200* c. Place spatchcocked chicken into a baking dish. In the cavity under the chicken, place half a lemon, and a couple of whole garlic cloves.

2. Make up some garlic butter, combining the two chopped cloves of garlic with some slightly softened butter (roughly 30 grams, depending on the size of your chicken). Insert garlic butter under the skin of the chicken, massaging the skin to spread it evenly.

2. In a small bowl, pour enough oil to cover chicken, and season with salt and pepper. Zest the rind of half a lemon into the oil. Discard the flesh and pith of the preserved lemon, and finely chop the rind. Combine into the oil mix, and give a quick stir to mix evenly. Pour the oil mix over the skin of the chicken, massaging the skin to make sure its evenly spread.

3. Place remaining lemon wedges, garlic cloves, and a couple of sprigs of rosemary into the baking dish. Roast for around an hour. You can, if you like, squeeze the juice from the roasting lemons over the chicken half way through. The internal temperature of a properly roasted chicken should be 165*c (check this with a meat thermometer) or when the juices run clear when the meat is cut.

4. When the chicken is done, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

The chicken wasn’t dry at all (the garlic butter takes care of that), and makes for awesome leftovers in a sammich the next day.
Wham, bam, thank you mam’. Easiest Christmas dinner ever.
Best woman ever? Well, not yet. I still need to learn lamingtons.

Gettin’ baked.

There’s no easy way to put this, so I’m just going to come out and say it.

I hate Christmas. It’s all a major hassle that I can’t say I see the point of.

But.
What I do love, is Christmas food. What’s not to love? Roast meats, cold seafood, crisp stone fruits, candy canes, chocolate… Sorry, I’ve just drooled all over my keyboard.

When I heard about a charity event involving The Smith Family, I had to get on board.
A party for disadvantaged kids, featuring caroling by some of Perth’s hottest local music acts, presents donated by local businesses. Oh, and cookies by me. To all, a good night.

So, for the kids, I made these.
One batch of sugary chocolatey madness, a batch of christmas scented, buttery goodness. The shortbread smells like heaven while baking, and the cookies have the best tasting batter I’ve ever had. Resisting the urge to eat the lot with a spoon takes some serious willpower.
Good luck with that.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies

Adapted from Bakers Royale

Ingredients:

2 cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
16 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 ½ cup sliced Snickers, (roughly one bag of mini size Snickers)
1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

Heat oven to 190 degrees C. Line bake sheet with parchment paper.

Place flour and baking soda together in a bowl and whisk to combine; set aside.

Place 10 tablespoons butter in a pan over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking and using the handle of pan to swirl the butter around in the skillet. Swirl butter constantly until it becomes a dark golden brown in color and gives off a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 6 tablespoons of butter into hot butter until completely melted.

(Before and after)

Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to brown butter mixture and whisk until fully incorporated. Add eggs and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Rest mixture for 3 minutes, then whisk for another 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using sturdy rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Spoon out approximately two heaping tablespoons of dough and flatten it into a round disc. Place a Snickers slice on top. Fold edges over Snickers to seal it in. Place cookies 2 inches apart on baking paper lined trays.

Bake cookies 1 sheet at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, about 10 to 14 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool cookies.

I also made:

Brown Sugar Shortbread
Adapted from BHG

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice (see note)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups plain flour

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, apple pie spice, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Gradually beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.

2. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. (I used a cookie cutter).
Sprinkle with a little sugar, if you like.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.

Note: You can buy apple pie spice, or you can make your own really easily with 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp cardamom (makes a teaspoon worth of spice mix).

The boys from Tame Impala ate my cookies, and liked them. May have squealed like a little girl. And the kids, well, they loved them too. Career highlight? I think so!