Monday, March 4, 2013

Goodbye Nuggy Bear xox

Hello again.

It has been a while.  I haven't been able to bring myself to come back to my blog for a while, as things have not been so great.

My darling angel Nugget, my beautiful little Chihuahua got sick early in the New Year and I had to make the heart breaking decision to end his suffering. 

It was very quick, he had a massive seizure and just didn't really recover.  As I had lost Buster in November, I knew what I had to do. 

I cry every day.  I miss my beautiful boys, but they are together now.

Sleep my beautiful little boy.  I love you so very much.



I'll be back soon.

Until next time...

Kitty xx

Friday, December 28, 2012

Post Christmas Purge

So there we are for another year.  Christmas has come and gone.  I hope everyone who celebrated the holiday had a wonderful day. 


Now that all the fuss is over and I still have 3 weeks off work, I have been feeling a little lost.  Christmas is such a busy time, (well, I am my own worst enemy) where you have to rush about, cook all sorts of things you wouldn't normally cook any other time of year, clean your house ready for your visitors, make space in the refrigerator for all the extra food and drinks... (You feelin' me?)

The visitors have since left and the house is still in wearing its Christmas party dress - I never take my decorations down until New Years Day, its just a superstition, though I am kind of wistful that the excitement and anticipation is over for another year.

Yesterday I started off feeling really lazy.  Here is a rundown of my morning.
  • I watched  'Love Actually', 
  • I watched Australia beat Sri Lanka in the Boxing Day Test cricket and then
  • I got a serious bug up my butt and totally went nuts on my kitchen pantry.
As you do.

 My pantry has been bothering me for a while.  Since I moved in.  More so the last few days, where it has become a kind of irritating focus that I can't seem to function with the thought of it in the back of my mind.  It has served me well, however the whole 'Hardware store purchases trying to mimic an industrial look' has become a little messy and unsightly.

Unless I could resolve to neatening and sorting through the shelves every other day, or only purchasing items that looked the part (chances are they would be either too pretty to use or expensive to want to eat), I figured I needed to find a different solution to disguise my ugly pantry and the items on show within, without it looking like it was wearing a Groucho Marx mask.


I did indeed try this with some colourful drapes I whipped up on my sewing machine the day before, but in my kitchen, this really didn't work.  It looked like I was trying to hide something.  My original idea was to make it look fresh and carefree!  It was like putting a band aid on a gaping wound.  Boy, who was I trying to kid!

The original pantry that was in this house when I moved in all those years ago has had a few reincarnations around the house.  Firstly, the doors were falling off the hinges so I took them off.  This became my start of having an open pantry.  Then, after a while I decided that it just looked way to ugly.  So it found its way into my laundry and did time in there as a junk cupboard.  After another possibly seasonal attack of OCD I revamped my laundry and said cupboard became a neat and tidy linen press.  As for its ugly exterior, cheap mouldings made the cupboard look more like updated shelving than the sad, sorry, chipped, clapped-out thing it was.  It even made its way opposite the entry way so it was the first thing you could see when you walked in or past the room.  So I had a lovely little cupboard with my good towels and a couple of chic baskets that made me smile whenever I looked at it.


After spending a few hours laying upside down on my couch looking at posts about pantry at 'Houzz', 'Pinterest' and 'Apartment Therapy', a light bulb went off in my head which caused me to leap up, stride confidently into the kitchen and pull apart my old pantry with the maniacal view to swapping the laundry cupboard for the kitchen shelves.  Genius! was what I was thinking at this point.  I wish I had a before photo of how my kitchen looked during this brainwave.  Why does cleaning always make a mess!

It was a struggle to get the cupboards switch-a-roo'd but with a little help,(and a thorough vacuuming of the chipboard breadcrumb trail the poor disintegrating cupboard left behind), I got there. 


I have to glue a little more moulding onto the sides, where the damage still is, but as long as it is left alone, there shouldn't be too many tears.  I think I ought to get rid of that ugly sticky tape repair (not mine!) as well while I am at it.  Nothing a little Spak Filla won't fix!


So here is the project as it stands right now.  Everything looks so much neater and visually pleasant.  I am able to stow away all the packages and cans into my baskets.  My jars look much more part of a display, than a mess.  I even re purposed my three candy jars to hold sugar, and I think these look really sweet!  (Pardon the pun).


As for my laundry, I  think the metal shelving came up okay in the space.  I even strung up my curtains.  They won't win any design awards, though I think they add a little colour and whimsy to soften the look of the metal. 


What makes me so happy about this little project was that it cost me nothing.  I re purposed what I already had in the house, I just had to think outside of the box to do it.  My intention was to create a neat, contained display of my pantry items.  I was able to do it with bottles, jars and baskets I already had on hand.  I didn't have to rush out to the department or dollar store to buy anything, all I had to do was use my imagination.  I figured I would try and do whatever I could with what I had on hand, before feeling the need to just go out and buy for the sake of buying.  I even found that some of the things are now fulfilling their purpose, rather than just 'filling in' or on display.  

I will probably re evaluate the smaller spice jars which contents are probably overdue for a toss or refresh, but I know that things look so much better than before I started.  I have much more room, I know where everything is and I am inspired to keep it tidy and best of all, cook!

Next job, kitchen cupboards and drawers.  Time to do some kitchenware purging!  Wish me luck!

Until next time...
 
Kitty xx

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas 2012


I love Christmas.  I never really used to, but after my first trip to America, which included both Christmas and New Year in New York, I am smitten.  If there were ever a time you didn't feel Christmassy, a trip to New York is the cure.  Or in my case, the catalyst for me falling in love with it all over again.  

I guess its the whole idea of a 'White Christmas', the snow, the Rockefeller Plaza Tree (check out cheesey me!), Bloomingdales, Macy's and movies where shoppers hustle and Santa rings a bell and you drink hot toddies and cocoa is something that you can actually drink without breaking out into a sweat in December in the Northern Hemisphere.


As it is Summer here in Australia, I tend to feel a little ridiculous, singing Christmas Carols about snow, the weather being 'frightful' and fires inside being 'delightful'.  Especially when its while I am sweltering with the oven on, trying to get my Christmas baking done.


As I have spent 3 Christmas's in New York now, I tend to feel a little 'homesick' around this time of year.  Especially homesick for the cooler weather!  I guess the good thing about Christmas in Australia is we don't have the tradition of the 'Ugly Christmas Sweater'.  To cure my blues, I bust out a bit (or in my case a lot) of decorating.  It always makes me feel good. 

 
My tiny little house is abundant with Christmas decorations and vignettes.  This year, I have tried to exercise elegant restraint, keeping to a colour theme of red, silver and gold.  It is hard to hold back, with so many great decorations, lights and garlands that you can dress up your home with.  Outside is not spared, with rows and rows of coloured lights clinging to the gutters and trees, along with some inflatable Santa's friends have kindly loaned out. 


Christmas also sparks my creative side.  I love being resourceful and making something out of 'nothing'.  My star (above) was just 5 pickets I found in my backyard from some over-the-fence construction which I got help to nail together (I am a designer, not an engineer) and I strung some lights around for some extra sparkle.


My tree is my miniature interpretation of the Macy's tree in San Francisco.  (I adore this tree, even more than the Rock Centre tree!).  I love the look of red against the green.  I also add to my tree each year, new decorations from my travels.  It is ever evolving and always different.

I have always wanted to learn how to do origami.  However, I have absolutely no patience.  Somehow I taught myself how to make some origami stars.  I was determined to make a garland out of them, and by the sixth star, I was a pro! 

 
I thought it would be fun to make a buffet table out of a sofa table I kind of made/re purposed from another project (which is another story in itself).  I had an old window which was a perfect fit to lay on top and underneath the glass I have scattered old Polaroids and photos from Christmas's past.  As Mum and Dad will be here for Christmas Dinner, I hope they enjoy the nostalgia of it.  Oh yes, more little lights underneath to give it a little razzle-dazzle!


I think the whole fuss I make wears poor Nugget out. 


As mentioned, my Mum and Dad will be coming for lunch this year and it will just be us, as the rest of my family are all spread out and it is difficult for us to come together.  I just plan to set a nice table and make a simple roast dinner this year.  We will be having chicken, pork and ham.  Mum and Dad are bringing the plum pudding, while I made Tiramisu (I can't help myself!).  As for gifts, we have decided on just a very small present each for under the tree.


I would like to think of the day as more an 'attitude of gratitude' than the whole ridiculous commerical blowout.  It is a little rustic, a lot hand made and a whole lot of love.  It will be nice to be able to spend the day with my Mum and Dad and to spoil them with a lovely meal, made by me. 


I hope everyone has a really great Christmas.  Please be safe and be good to each other. 


Until next time...

Kitty xx

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Good Mornings!

I never used to be a morning person.  There was nothing more I would love on a Sunday, than to pull up the covers and hide away from the world for a few minutes (or hours) more.  It wasn't because I would stay up late, I would just love the comfort and sanctity of my bed.  Cold mornings or the drudgery of the morning rituals that go with getting ready for work never helped either.


For a while now, I have embraced the early morning wake up and bounce out of bed.  Now that it is summer, the sun is usually up at around 5am, so it is harder for me to keep my eyes shut, especially through my not-so-thick curtains.  This doesn't really bother me, as it is nice to be up and about.  It gives me time to make breakfast, do some early morning exercise down at the beach or just sit outside in the cool of the morning and enjoy my tea on the patio.


Breakfast is a good motivator on the weekend.  I get up early and head down to the stairs on Hastings St.  These are like no other stairs I have ever encountered.  They take about 3 minutes to climb, at a steady pace, and when you get to the top, you virtually feel your heart beating in your mouth.  I do 2-3 laps up and down and then take a leisurely cool-down walk to the National Park before heading to one of the local cafes for breakfast.  Well, I figure I have earned it after all that sweat!


I have to give a plug to my local go-to place for Sunday breakfast - Grind on Gympie Terrace in Noosaville.  They make fantastic coffee and their breakfasts are generous and filling.  I love their scrambled eggs.  They make a wonderful breakfast sandwich which usually tides me over sometimes until dinner.  Keep an eye on the specials board too, their offerings never disappoint.  The service is fast and friendly, the staff are wonderful and the atmosphere is lively.  It makes the whole idea of exercise much more appealing when I know I have a delicious breakfast to look forward to as a reward!


My breakfast habits tend to improve after my visits to New York.  I eat more 'brunch' than breakfast (let's blame jet lag for early morning misdemeanours) which is better than my usual cup of tea, which is what I tend to pass of as my Monday - Friday breakfast when at home.  I am improving though, I keep breakfast bars in my desk and have one once I settle in to my work day.  These aren't ideal, I know, but I feel better to at least eat something than nothing at all.

I am feeling all exercised, fed, bouncy and ready to embrace the day.  I have plans for Christmas baking and straightening up in preparation for Christmas day.  I would never had this much done or the motivation had I stayed in bed!

Have a fantastic weekend whatever you do!

Until next time...

Kitty xx

Friday, December 14, 2012

Here we are in December...

My goodness, here we are at the close of another year almost.  I can't believe it is only 10 days until Christmas.


So much has happened in the time since my last post, I went to New York for 6 weeks in mid September, having a wonderful time and even surviving Super Storm Sandy.  I arrived home and on November 6, my beloved Chihuahua Buster (Below), passed away, 2 days after my return home.  His older Brother, Nugget is just as devastated as I and merely a week after losing Buster to congenital heart failure, Nugget was rushed to surgery for a corneal (eye) ulcer.  He is doing great and, like me is starting to get back to feeling themselves after much sadness.


I didn't blog in New York, because, well I was having such a fantastic time eating my way around the city!  No, it was difficult as I was without laptop and to try and coordinate my photos/phone and borrowed iPad, I resolved to do some writing when I got home... Which as you may well understand, didn't happen.  I don't know how many people follow this blog or just stumble upon it, but it did feel strange to not write.  I felt like I wanted to share my feelings and what I was going through, but I was just feeling so numb I couldn't find the words - even to write about food.  So if my absence has been felt, please accept my humble apologies!

Now on with the food!

As it is Hanukkah and I am not Jewish, it made sense for me to make Latkes.  (If you know me, this makes perfect sense).  I think of Latkes as if a hash brown had a steamy relationship with a pancake (ie they fell in shallow fried love). 
 

I made these last night and served them with apple sauce and sour cream.  This is a really great recipe and I am really excited to share it with you.  It comes from the book 'Love and Knishes' by Sara Kasdan.  It was a gift from my recent visit to New York from my new favourite bookstore in the world, or Greenwich Village at least, Bonnie Slotnicks (163 W10th St NY, NY 10014)

I have a whole Bonnie Slotnicks blog I want to share, so I am just going to keep you salivating on that (cookbook aficionados you will love this place) while I get these Latkes out of the way.

Potato Latkes - (Pancakes)
Recipe from 'Love and Knishes' by Sara Kasdan

2 cups grated raw potatoes (measure after draining) ***
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 rounded or heaping tablespoon flour or matzo meal (I used all purpose flour)
pinch baking powder (I was anal retentive and measured 1/4 tsp)
1 small onion grated - optional (I had a small french shallot in the fridge so I used that)

Combine all ingredients.  Mix well.  Drop pancake mixture by the tablespoonful onto a hot skillet generously greased with butter or shortening (I used olive oil). 

If you like thin, crispy pancakes, flatten with the back of a spoon.  Fry on both sides until brown.  Serve piping hot with sour cream, or with applesauce as an accompaniment to a pot roast.

*** When draining the potatoes, I grated them into a colander, set upon a bowl to catch the liquid.  I squeezed as much liquid out of the potato as I could, and reserved the liquid.  As I added the other ingredients to the potato, the starch in the potato water settled to the bottom of the bowl.  I poured off the reserved water and then added the starch to my potato mix.  I don't know why this is important but I read it somewhere or someone told me to do this  and it  has just stuck with me.

Happy Hanukkah!  (Don't worry Christmas, I'll get to you later!)

Until next time...

Kitty xx

Friday, August 17, 2012

Out of Hibernation


Winter.  There are good things about you and the things I don't like so much.  I like the fact that I can use you as an excuse to wear short skirts and cover up my pasty legs with black tights and still feel so fresh, so chic.  I like that my dogs who snuggle with me all four seasons are more welcomed when it is a cold night and we share it on the sofa watching television.  I don't like it so much when they need to go outside before bedtime and I am hopping from one foot to the other in a ridiculous beanie and my pajamas.

There are a couple of weeks left of winter, but we are starting to feel the welcome of a glorious spring.  My garden is looking pretty and has lots of pops of colour (more so from me buying instant potted colour from the nursery but, whatever!) and my bones are thawing out, thus making it easier to heave-ho and get out of bed without feeling bitterness and resentment about having to go to work or simply, on the weekend, just having to get out of bed.

This morning was the first morning in months where I bounced out of bed and did something other than grumble.  I went to the beach and did some exercise, which I thought at first was going to kill me, but I am glad I did it.  I feel good about myself and when you feel good about yourself, well, everything else seems to fall into place. 


As a reward for good behaviour, I treated myself (for the second time this week - oh shock, horror!) to breakfast.  Breakfast is one of those lovely things I like to do because, well I'm worth it.  I love eating out, but I think most of all, eating out during the day is more enjoyable for me.  I guess because eating out at night is more of a production, you know, the appetizer, the main event, the dessert, the wine, the coffee and I can never say no to cheese.

Breakfast, brunch and lunch are more casual, less complicated.  There is less expectation and less stuffy waitstaff pompousness.  (I really don't like restaurants who make you feel they are doing you a favour just by seating you.  Take note.  I am a big eater, a generous tipper and I have a few places on my shit list because of crap service.  Treat every customer as your most fierce critic and with the same respect).  Phew!  That felt good to get that out.  Wow, do you think I have felt a little unloved in some places?

So yes, twice this week I have treated myself to breakfast!  I guess things are looking up as far as the weather is concerned to be able to say I have been up and about!  (Well, where there is the promise of food, it is a great motivator for me). 

I am off to NYC in five weeks time and I am so excited.  I have included photos within this blog entry of my two favourite places to brunch, purely because I can never get myself moving in time to eat there during breakfast hours.  (Thankfully they do all day breakfast!).  They are Kitchenette in Harlem and The Clinton Street Baking Co, Downtown (Somewhere... use your fancy phone and a tricky subway commute to find it, you won't be disappointed).  I love the Turkey sausage at Kitchenette, so crispy, sticky and salty, while the French toast with maple butter at Clinton St is to die for.  Seriously if I were Cleopatra, I would bathe in that stuff every day.

Until next time,  I wish your eggs to be scrambled soft and silky and your bacon to be crispy.

Kitty xx

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pure Creamy (salty) Gratification

Sometimes in life you discover things you know once you experience you can't (or don't want to) live without them.  Right now, mine is a certain flavour of gelato.

Salted Peanut Caramel.


When I first tried it a few months ago, I told the girl at the Gelato Bar that if it were legal, I would marry it. 

She laughed and told me I would need to get in line.

I am enamoured with this flavour.  It is creamy like gelato should be.  It is textural - crunchy with little chunks of peanut praline.  Then comes the gentle touch of salt which rounds out the flavour and is a beautiful finish.

Salt is a wonderful thing.  It makes things taste more of what they are.  It is the only true seasoning.  I love salt sprinkled on slices of fresh cut pineapple and also I love salted chocolate as well.  Now before you screw your nose up at me at the thought, why not give it a try.

But back to the gelato.  I get it from what is in my opinion, the best little coffee place in Noosa, Amo Gelato.  It is a intimate little place, my local secret which is open until late.  The staff are friendly, the coffee is perfect and the serves of gelato are generous, especially if you are a good customer like me :)

This stuff makes me smile.  I should eat more of it.

Until next time...

Kitty xx