Monthly Archives: August 2014

Happy Spaces v.15

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And the weekend is here again. I hope you have something spectacular planned. I have work, and a good book to read (two actually) and a new recipe book to drool on, so when I’m at home, I’ll mostly likely be glued to my couch (new blanket included!!). And maybe I’ll get to spend a bit of time in my kitchen (probably doing something wildly uncreative a.k.a dishes, but maybe some cooking too). Have a good weekend!

– Some upholstery project ideas. I’m a fan of that door.

– New desktop wallpaper from Mollie Makes. There’s something about changing up your desktop that I find so refreshing. And Mollie Makes always brings it.

Cute printed stuff from an Etsy shop in the UK. That paper tape is just too cute for words.

This cheerful tute for an embroidered scissors case. I have dabbled in embroidery, and like it mainly because the stitches are ‘showy’. I’m embarrassingly bad at hand-stitching (even Rowan is better) but embroidery, with its intentionally obvious stitches just works somehow. Plus its pretty.

– This Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup is seriously challenging the vegetarian in me.

– This absurdly brilliant list for how to eat well on a small budget. All of the yes! Go here, read this!

– And also, Avocado and Banana Chocolate Pudding. I reckon you could eat that for breakfast, yes?

Nadia Lim’s Butternut Satay Soup [Recipe Below]


I’m pretty excited about this post today: its a rare opportunity to share one of my all-time favourite recipes with you. Over the last 8 months, I have learnt (the hard way) that recipe creation is no stroll in the park. Sometimes its wildly frustrating. Sometimes its joyful. Sometimes its a fluke. Because of this, I have even more respect for my favourite cooks and food writers. One of these is Nadia Lim, and she has so kindly agreed to let me share one of her recipes here! This has been a go-to recipe since I discovered it (conveniently, in Autumn). For a time, we made it at least weekly. I know this will be my favourite soup recipe to return to year in, year out. Plus, its simple, with basic ‘pantry staple’ ingredients.


Nadia Lim won the second series of MasterChef New Zealand (2011) and has since released two (really great) cook books. Nadia studied Human Nutrition and Dietetics at Otago University so her love of food is reinforced with a solid background in health. Her cookbooks are just what I like: fresh and vibrant. Her website is over here. This recipe is from here latest cook book, Nadia Lim’s Good Food Cook Book. You can buy both books on her website. Hooray!

Nadia  Lim’s Butternut Satay Soup

2 onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of curry powder
A good pinch of chilli flakes
1 12 tablespoons of tomato paste
1.3 -1.4 kilos (skin off) butternut, chopped into 3cm chunks (I have also used pumpkin)
5 cups of chicken stock
4 – 5 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 – 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve: chopped coriander, chopped red chilli, plain unsweetened yoghurt (all optional)

Serves 4 – 6

Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Cook onions and garlic for 5 minutes until onion is soft. Add spices and chilli flakes and fry for a few minutes, then add tomato paste and fry for a further minute. Add a little water at any time if onions or spices are sticking. Add butternut and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, lower heat and cook until butternut is soft, about 15 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor (or blender) along with peanut butter. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper. (If you have used stock made from stock powder the soup may not need salt).

Divide soup between bowls and garnish with a dollop of yoghurt if using, and chopped coriander and chilli if using.

Things I’ve Learnt about Food from Food Blogging

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA– Simple foods are the very best. Veggies? They’re choice. More please.

– 9 times out of 10,  you should follow the recipe (if it’s your first time trying something). Otherwise your marmalade will not set. There’s a time for experimenting and time for sticking to facts. Its science!

– And sometime you should screw that recipe up in a ball and do a crazy dance in your kitchen and be the scientist. Sometimes (lots of  times) it won’t work. When it does, its pure magic. Nothing is as satisfying.

– Chilli’s aren’t as expensive as they seem. Good quality eggs are ace for all involved (and worth the price). There are more kinds of grains that I can count on my hands. I make a good pack horse (carrying all of the veggies home) should probably get a donkey. Fresh herbs are bril (grow some!). Cooking elaborate food when you’re tired ruins what you love, just make scrambled eggs. You can’t take a good photo of something brown, in the dark. Breakfast is pretty superb after all.

– Just make some damn food! Don’t know how to poach eggs? Poach some. Don’t know to make pita’s? Get kneading some dough. Failure is only a necessary step on the path to enlightenment. You learn by doing. Truest fact ever. This year I have made about 60 things that I never ever thought I could make. Pizza dough? Embarrassingly easy. Muesli? Same boat.

– Doing the dishes is about 50 billion times better if you’re listening to Meat Loaf. Or Journey. Or basically any power ballad. I would not lie to you. (In other news, apparently I have all of the best ideas while scrubbing. I think someone is trying to tell me something).

Further Garden Ventures

IMG_1832Yesterday it felt like spring. Cool, but very sunny. I love spring days and knowing that we’re counting down the last week of winter is such a good feeling. My parents came over yesterday and we had a small working bee to transform my ‘garden’ into a real actual garden. I’m actually pretty excited about planting in it now. I’m not a huge green thumb, especially in the summer when you come home from working all day and have to go out into the billion degree heat and water tomatoes because those  things are like a sponge. But I think any foodie should know at least a little about the cultivation of food, even on a really basic level.IMG_1826The transformation (we joked we should start a new TV series – Extreme Makeover: Garden Edition) involved digging in 160 litres of compost (my job, I got down to wearing shorts! Lordy my legs are whiiite). A few weeks ago my Dad took down a bird aviary that has been on my parents property for my whole life! It got to be too much work for my Pop so down it came. (There is now a glass house in its place). The bits of aviary (not the birds) went to good use. Some of them went into my garden (the planks and stakes to make the box).

My next job (which I’m just so excited about) is demolishing all of the weeds in that corner. Then we’ll cover that corner with something. Its too hard to plant there because there’s a giant piece of concrete something. Then I’m going to plant some sprouting broccoli. Check out my post from a few weeks ago to see the ‘before’.  Are you a green thumb? Or a different sort of thumb? Will you be gardening in Spring? Let me know and we can trade plant gossip (because that’s a thing).

A New Favourite Shelf

IMG_1677 So, I’m going to ramble about my home for approximately 756 words. But you’re cool with that, right? It started with a shelf. A few months ago, Rowan started a new project (yeah, we’re two peas alright) and set out to make an aquarium. You know, with fish. This required the buying of a new shelf to house said tank. The shelf we bought (from Warehouse Stationary for cheap, that we reinforced and gave a new top – this is relevant later, I swear) had 6 cubby holes. This excited me greatly, more storage in a small house is always THE BEST. Plus, I was given free reign to do what I wanted to do with the cubbies. IMG_1675 This led to HOURS of  trawling through Etsy, Iko Iko, Your Home & Garden magazine and on and on. I fell in love, with big love heart shaped eyes, with so many things. Things! Wonderful, pretty things. But I didn’t buy anything. It was weird. I kept finding things, bookmarking, making little lists. But my debit plus card stayed firmly tucked in my purse.

Then (are you still here? It gets good) one day, Rowan alerted me to the fact that Spaces was at the supermarket. I basically ran there (its at the bottom of our road). Do you read Frankie? (You should). Well Spaces is produced by Frankie and I love it the most. Its really wonderful. Its huge, and full of wonderful pictures of peoples homes and workspaces and has interviews with these people about their homes. I’m obsessed with that sort of thing. So, for a few days, I was totally immersed in Spaces. These homes in Spaces are not flashy: they’re full of love and character and personality. Several interviews in, I had a sudden realisation: I don’t buy new ‘things’. I don’t buy things for the sake of buying things. If you came and checked out our swanky abode, you’d notice (that we need to vacuum) that basically nothing is new – I’m talking furniture, home decor, soft furnishings (even most of my clothes). Our couch, our enormous, ugly couch, that I wholeheartedly love, is my Dad’s. He has the other one in the set and he bought them from a recycling centre (it has great bones and one day I’ll have it reupholstered). We collected our things slowly and I remember each day that we brought something home. I remember, the lovely home that we went to on a cold, sunny July day last year to pick up my new mismatched armchairs that I bought off Trade Me. I remember when we spent an hour looking through a second hand furniture store for the perfect coffee table when we moved into our current home. We left, disappointed, but passing the window we saw the corner of something tucked away and rushed back inside to see my DREAM coffee table. I think I paid $100 for it.IMG_1738Reading Spaces, I realised that I absolutely love this. I love this about our home. And I wasn’t going to be able to buy ‘things’ for our new shelf. Nope. I love looking through Your Home and Garden, and I love browsing the webs for cute stuff. But mostly, I love our home and the odd collection of stuff that we have. Its perfect in its own weird way.  betnesol tablet price

(It might help to know that the house I grew up in is more than 100 years old, used to be doctors, has a resident ghost (she’s relatively friendly) and is a mishmash of my parents travels and friendships from over the years. Being old, its also a full-scale DIY and every centimetre of it tells a story. Its awfully cold in the winter, but I love the heck out of that place and know that its the very best kind of house and the exact kind of house that I will end up living in (hopefully minus the plumbing issues).

So, my shelf is coming along. We decided early on that we wanted three of the cubbies to have some sort of boxes or baskets for storage. (I looked high and low for these too). In the end, my dad made us three wooden crates (what a lovely birthday present!!). Of course my small set of Frankie mags lives there too, along with the cat, which I made from this tute, the postcard I bought on our first trip to Brisbane in 2012, the pom pom flowers I made, the swan I bought from a hodge-podge antique shop (is it Crown Lynn?), And so it goes. It will change with us. But I love my little shelf and its more us than anything out of a magazine ever could be.

A Modern Way to Eat

2By now I’m sure you’re well aware of my obsession with recipe books. I’m OBSESSED. I learnt to cook, first at home, then at school and now, mostly through recipe books. In fact, I have such a ridiculous obsession with trying new recipes that we probably eat more new meals than familiar meals each week. (I’m so lucky to have such a willing partner in crime. He’s the best). I love trying a new recipe. I love finding a really good recipe book. I like recipes that fit the mould of how we cook and eat, yet are fresh and inspiring. I like recipes books that contain lots of GOOD food. A bit healthy without being pretentious. I also like recipes that don’t require bizarre ingredients, or if they do, offer alternatives. I’m really lucky that I work in a library. I only have a very small collection of my own recipe books (because gosh darn those things are pricey!). I took a recipe book home about a week ago and its crazy good. (Thanks for the suggestion Katie!). Its so good, that I had to share it with you. Its so good, that I’m actually going to buy it. Get out of town!

visualize A Modern Way to Eat tutor , by Anna Jones, is just lovely. The pictures alone are drool-worthy. Its so fresh. Its vegetarian. It fits the mould yet challenges it. Its so damn delicious I just about want chew off all the pages. It is modern in the sense that there are a lot of gluten free recipes, recipes without refined sugar and dairy. But the thing I like about this one is it’s flexible. For example a lot of the recipes use coconut oil, but state that you can use butter if you like. Or where a recipe includes milk, it gives you options. I LIKE options. I like healthy but I don’t like ‘this is the only way of eating’. This book is just perfect for finding that middle ground.

3I made a dhal recipe for dinner on Sunday and it was so good. That was the selling recipe. It worked. It was straightforward. The different components of the meal worked brilliantly. And we both loved it. So yep, this one’s in my shopping cart.

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