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26 August 2013

A whale of a good time at Baby W's Shower

I was thrilled when I found out we'd be coming to New York for August because among many other exciting reasons,  it meant I would be able to attend the baby shower for Baby Williams. I'm not sure if you've picked up on this or not, but I bloomin' well  LOVE baby showers! (haha you said what I did there..). 

I love everything about them. I love the decorations, the cake, the gifts, the food, the exchange of mummy wisdom, the excitement of the blooming mum-to-be, the themes, and the chance to pamper and spoil the mama before she starts the exciting chapter of parenthood.

I was excited when my friend Julie, as a hostess, asked if I'd like to help make a cake for the shower, given that Mama Mandi can't eat gluten either. I was thrilled and knew the perfect cake would be the Flourless Almond and Orange cake, and so gladly accepted. I offered to make a few little decorations to contribute to the nautical themed shower as well, which placated my crafty needs that haven't been able to indulge in much craftiness in our home away from home here in Manhattan. 

My photos are only quick iPhone snaps, so apologies for some grainyness here and there!!! 

Julie and I made and "dressed" two cakes for the shower. 

There was the main Orange and Almond Cake, frosted with a cream cheese frosting. 

And then the diaper/nappy cake. Julie had done all the hard work of rolling and assembling all the diapers, and I got to just swan in and dress it up a little with some nautical ribbons/rope that I found at Mood this past week. 

I loved that we drank our mimosa's out of named mason jars, topped off with nautical paper straws of course!

Susan, Cristen and Julie spent the weekend preparing all of the savoury delights, 98% of which were gluten free! Mandi and I loved being able to have plateful (after plateful) of delicious food that wasn't going to make us sick! They made gorgeous turkey meatballs, chicken salad boats, brussel sprout salad, veggies with hummus and fruit salad. 

And what did I contribute to this smorgasbord of heavenly food..... something fun to eat them with!!! Little whale and flag food picks!

We all had a chance to guess the birth date of Baby W, with the winner getting first babysitting honours, and anyone who guessed OVER her due date, promptly scratched off the Christmas Card list! I loved Susan's handiwork and kind of want to make one of these boards for household notices!!

I made some of my Confetti-filled balloons to dot around the room, and these ones were filled with navy stripe and baby blue to fit the theme. I thought about putting teeny tiny whale confetti to put inside each balloon, but then it would have felt odd stuffing tadpoles inside latex!

I had fun making a little bunting for Baby W, which we had positioned along the front wall to set the scene.

If you follow my Instagram feed, you'll have seen these amazing soaps that Julie ordered on Etsy. They were so cute, smelled utterly divine and I just loved the special touch,  "from Amanda's shower to yours". The soaps themselves were from Possum Hollow Farm Soap and the little whale canvas pouches were from A Southern Flair. I wish I could post a "scratch & sniff" panel so you could smell them!!

I had Baby M spend the day with her Daddy at the boy's BBQ, as she has a way of captivating everyone's attention, and I wanted Baby W to be the focus of his own shower! But when the boys returned at the end of the shower, she was a pig in mud playing with all of the helium balloons! I so wish I had my proper camera to take some decent photos of her! Perhaps I will have to do this again one day, shame! 

It was such an incredible baby shower, these girls sure know how to host a party. I hope Mandi has a relaxed final month of pregnancy and I can't wait to hear all about Baby W when he arrives, on September 24th, which was my guess date!! 

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23 August 2013

Photo Phriday #20

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Pulled turkey, lettuce wrap it up!

This post was initially posted two weeks ago, but for some reason reverted to my drafts.... but, here it is again!

If you follow me on Instagram you'll see that we've still been getting out and about New York and enjoying yet more frozen yoghurt!

We are staying in a wonderful corporate serviced apartment while we are in NY, but their definition of a "full kitchen" shockingly doesn't include a mixing bowl, much less a hot pink kitchenaid! So its fair to say that my dinners have been somewhat less creative, and I haven't even baked in weeks!! (I actually had to BUY a cupcake the other day, gasp!).

But I am enjoying getting some American influence into my cooking, as browsing the local WholeFoods is still pure joy and such a fun way to pass an hour on an otherwise uneventful rainy Monday. 

Mr M made a statement earlier this week that he needs to cut down on his bread intake, as he's having bagels, burgers, french toast, pancakes and a whole host of other gluten-loaded delights! I am always happen when he wants to eat less carbs so was excited when I thought of doing tacos....but with a few twists...

Twist number 1 - turkey, pulled turkey! Say what?! Does such a thing exist I hear you whisper in trepidation... it does now! And when slowly cooked with lime juice, onion and fresh coriander (cilantro) it loses the Christmas Day'ness and takes on a new kind of Mexican. There sure is a lot of turkey here, but I'm discovering that I too can love it on days other than December 25.  

Twist number 2 - where are the taco shells woman?! This may not be groundbreaking to you, but to us, having taco's without taco shells was totally something new for us. I bought a gorgeous butter lettuce and used the leaves as wraps. 

Combined with a tomato & onion salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream and guacamole, these were absolutely delicious. 

We both ate so many lettuce wraps but didn't feel full afterward (which is a good thing, and also a bad thing, as we just kept eating and eating). 

Nom nom nom....

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16 August 2013

Photo Phriday #19

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Zucchini Me

Or the less self-indulgent name: Zucchini Blossoms

I have been wanting to try these for years now. They are an emotional vegetable for me. 

My father always called me Bloss growing up, and still does every now and then. I kind of love it. My mother calls me Possum every now and then too, but that was because it was what the Doctor said when I was first delivered.... Congratulations, you've just given birth to a Possum (I was thin and scrawny with somewhat gigantic eyes!). I digress... this is about Zucchini Blossoms. 

Other than being the day I married the man of my dreams, I loved our wedding so much because it still remains the best meal I have ever had in my life. And I will always feel that way, no matter where we dine. I wish the photographer had taken photos of the food we ate that night, but here's a photo I took at our menu sampling a few months earlier at Yering Station.

It was an avocado tunnel filled with beetroot, served with zucchini flowers and pesto. It was heaven on a plate. I have always loved that entree, and never wanted to try replicating it, for fear of ruining my memory. 

But then I realised, that's just crazy talk! So I thought I would start out by learning how to cook zucchini blossoms. 

Zucchini blossoms are not always easy to come by, but often found at farmers markets and boutique little fruiterer's. If you happen to live in Italy though, they are quite simply EVERYWHERE! Lucky ducks!

Firstly you need to carefully clean the petals to remove any dirt. Be very very gentle though.

You can make whatever stuffing you like. I chose to combine cream cheese, parmesan cheese, chopped basil leaves and salt & pepper. I also added a little nutmeg too, which gave such a lovely sweetness.

With a small spoon (I used a baby feeding spoon, but a teaspoon would suffice!!) carefully fill the base of the blossom with your filling.

Next you need to coat them in a light batter. It took me two tries for this, but I went with my old favourite tempura batter recipe in the end, which worked perfectly with gluten free flour too.

Combine 3 heaped tablespoons of flour with a pinch of salt. Have a whisk on hand and slowly start adding cold soda water, whisking as you go. The batter is to be quite light and more runny than a pancake batter. When you pick the zucchini flower up, the excess batter should drip away, leaving a well coated blossom. 

You then want to shallow fry the blossoms in a fairly small amount of hot oil. I used a nut oil, but I kind of think any would work well. If the oil is nice and hot you only need to cook them for less than a minute per side, as the batter is very light.

Drain them on paper towel and serve hot.

Mine don't quite look like our beautiful entree's at Yering Station, but they were pretty delicious anyway, and good enough to make again, perhaps alongside an avo next time!!!

Happy Friday y'all. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! We are off to the Garment District tomorrow, as well a catch up with friends at The Met. What are you up to??

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15 August 2013

An Aussie weed thriving in London - Lantana Cafe (review)

I miss home, a lot. Where home is exactly, I no longer really know, but whenever I hear the captain announce "Ladies and Gentleman welcome to Australia where the local time is 8:00am and the weather is heavenly" I cry. Ugly tears of homesickness that I had compressed for all the time since being away. 

I am going home next month for the wedding of my bestest friend everest, and can't wait to soak up as much Australia as I can in a two week period. 

Until then though, I like finding little bits and pieces of Aus on the other sides of the world, and seek them out throughout London. Even though I'm in New York now and enjoying our month of exploration, I still crave Australia wherever I go. 

We went out for brunch to Lantana in the middle of Soho, London just before we went and I thought it was definitely worth sharing, although, it took me most of the meal to get over my immense disappointment that they were out of Chai Latte's (I can't drink coffee or have chocolate and so chai's are my saviours....pity that they are really hard to come by in London - and the Starbucks version DOES NOT COUNT!!). 

I was still a little obsessed with the Corned Beef Hash that I'd had at Daylesford Organics, and so when I found one on this menu too, I thought it would be fair to compare!

It was salty and rich and topped with the most perfectly poached egg I have ever seen. The smoked tomato relish had a hint of heat to it, which really added the final flavour into each mouthful. It was simply delicious. 

Mr M ordered the corn fritters, because, well that's very Australian of him. I was somewhat disappointed with his drink order though, a blah! He could have had a Flat White for goodness sake!!! Flat whites are the Australian version of a cappuccino without the foam! This boy needs training!!

He was a little underwhelmed by the corn fritters though, which wasn't helped by the fact that I had just made the "world's best corn fritters" two nights earlier!! (and whether it was out of honesty or loyalty, he proclaimed that mine were far better). 

But it is always pleasant to Vegemite on the table, especially when it's out in public!

And so we thought it would be the perfect opportunity for baby's 1st Vegemite....although Baby M had other thoughts... no thanks Daddy!!

The service was friendly and accommodating, the food hot and satisfying, and well, I'll go back for my Chai one day! If you're wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, head down the little laneway of Charlotte Place (off Goodge St) and enjoy a little piece of Australia, in a cafe named after an invasive weed! Thrive you good thing, thrive!!!

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12 August 2013

You know you're in America when....

You know you are in America (and particularly in New York City) when....

... you are overwhelmed with choices!!!

...When, on our block alone, there's no less than three soft serve dessert choices to make every day...

I am yet to sample Off the Wall, but so far I vote Tasti D Lite for the low cal option, but Pinkberry tastes like it has real ingredients and remains delicious, so it's a tough call. Perhaps more research is required!

....When the supermarket aisle for condiments is as big as your London flat...

...When you have four different coloured to pears to choose from, each of which is perfectly ripe!

...When being gluten intolerant doesn't actually exclude you from options! We are lucky enough to have a WholeFoods on our block too, and I couldn't hide my pure joy as I walked through the store the first time! The gluten free choices just blew me away!!

And those are just the gluten free options.... imagine what the regular-food options are like!!!! It honestly overwhelmed the both of us the first time we went! 

...When food comes "literally" in baby sizes...

It is SO wonderful to have the time to explore all of these choices and to not feel like every trip to the grocery store is a chore, but wondering around in wonderment! I need to buy another suitcase just to smuggle some food home with me!!

God Bless America!

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