Thursday, 24 March 2016
We have made these hot cross buns a few times over the years but I realised today that I hadn't posted the recipe here.
So if you're feeling inspired to make your own hot cross buns, I'd recommend this Donna Hay recipe. And given that I was walking past a grocery store the other day and it had a photo of hot cross buns with the label "palm oil free" I was even more determined not to buy mass-produced buns. It's only now they are claiming they don't contain palm oil - but what else is inside? And what will they be proclaiming next year?
Hot cross buns - amongst a host of other foods - have become a huge money-generating exercise for business, especially supermarkets. These Easter foods have been on sale since just after Christmas and the other day there were mounds of them on display. I have always enjoyed hot cross buns, and never read the ingredients too closely, but when I saw the sign it made me angry. As consumers, we have to check every label. We have to be conscious of what foods we buy. We have to be food warriors against the chase for profits, which results in cheap ingredients that degrade our health and environment.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this wholefood version.
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
4 1/4 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
50g butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sultanas
1/2 cup plain flour, extra
1/3 cup water
Glaze - I didn't use this - but if you want to add, here are the details: Place 1/2 sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove any sugar crystals on the side with a pastry brush dipped in water. Add 2 teaspoons powdered gelatine sprinkled over 1 tablespoon water and cook for 1 minute. Set aside to cool. Brush over buns. Refrigerate to set.
1. Place yeast, 2 teaspoons of sugar and all of milk in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. The mixture will start to foam, indicating the yeast is active.
2. Add the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon, butter, egg, sultanas and remaining sugar to the yeast mixture and mix using a butter knife until a sticky dough forms. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 8 minutes or until it feels elastic. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and allow to stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll into balls.
3. Grease a 23cm (9 in) square cake tin and line with non-stick baking paper. Place the dough balls in the tin, cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until they rise. Preheat the oven to 200-degrees-C (400-F). Combine the extra flour and water, place a piping bag or a plastic bag with one corner snipped off, and pipe crosses on the buns.
4. Bake for 35 minutes or until well browned and springy to touch. Brush with the warm glaze while the buns are hot. Serve warm with butter. Makes 12.
images the indigo crew
Monday, 21 March 2016
No sooner had we installed floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and office cupboards in our dining room and custom cabinetry in two bedrooms then we decided last year to move house. Sure enough, the new house doesn't have anywhere near the amount of storage as our previous home. It always makes me wonder how people live for so long without somewhere to keep their clothes and belongings stored and filed neatly away.
We are back to the beginning again - or at least so it seems on some days.
When we first moved into our home at the end of last year, we placed the children's clothes in chest-of-drawers. But they are not big enough, and it leads to items getting creased and crushed. Also, I've noticed that the girls can't "see" what they have, especially when it comes to their dresses.
As we plan to remodel their room at some point - but have to yet to determine the layout - buying furniture or even diving in and creating a temporary "built" storage solution seems counter-productive.
Then during the treehouse building project, when I saw bundles of beautiful branches outside, it gave me the idea of create a hanging rail for the girls' room. All it required was a couple of hooks, rope and a branch - all of which we already had at home. Perhaps, more importantly, it could be created in under an hour - quicker than going to the shops!
YOU WILL NEED
1 x saw (to cut branch to desired length)
1 x tape measure
2 x hooks
1 x drill
2 x equal lengths of sisal rope
1 x branch
1. Drill two hooks into the ceiling, ensuring they are 20cm shorter than your length of branch. You need 10cm of overhang at each end.
2. Create loops on two lengths of rope - one at each end. We used a splice knot to secure them in place. Make sure the rope hangs at the right height for little eyes and hands.
3. Insert the loops on the ceiling hooks and the other ends on the branch.
* Choose a branch that is as straight as possible. If it has too much of an angle the clothes will slide down.
* Choose a height that your children can reach, which helps encourage them to get dressed.
* If you need to shorten the rope and you've already created your knots, you can always create a basic knot along the length.
* You can store other items underneath, such as suitcases, which is where we keep dress-up items, such as masks and other costumes.
* Colour code clothes to make it easier to view what's on offer.
* The girls share this hanging rail and the youngest has the left-hand side while the oldest has the right-hand side.
* There's no reason why you can't create one of these for yourself or another adult's clothing collection.
* Use the same style of coat hanger for your clothes to minimise the visual clutter of the hanging rail. Colour coding helps with this too.
images the indigo crew
Friday, 18 March 2016
A few weeks ago I was making these cookies regularly - a couple of times a week, at least. Well, usually with a little helper or two alongside me. They are great to have on hand for afternoon tea, after school snacks or lunch boxes. The jam provides some sweetness, but otherwise they have a slight salty taste. The almonds gives them a lovely grainy texture too. They are an adaption of Gwyneth Paltrow's "Lalo's Famous Cookies" recipe from the Notes From My Kitchen Table cookbook.
450g plain organic flour
450g almond meal
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
250ml olive oil
250ml maple syrup
Jam, I used homemade raspberry
1. Preheat the oven to 180-degrees-C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Combine all the ingredients, except the jam, in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon. Form tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls and space evenly on the baking paper. Use your index finger to make an indent in each cookie. Fill each indent with jam.
3. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool before eating.
image the indigo crew
Wednesday, 16 March 2016
The four-year-old has recently started to enjoy longer narratives. A couple of months ago she wanted to start listening to chapter books, just like her older brother.
Initially we started with an Enid Blyton book that she had received as a gift - More Wishing-Chair Stories. It seemed perfectly suited to her. She often talks about sliding down rainbows, and this one has characters that get to do this! It's also about fairies and pixies, and having a playroom at the bottom of a garden. The stories held her attention and were a great introduction to longer narratives. With a picture every couple of pages, it's a hybrid between a picture and chapter book.
Once we finished this book, we started to read one that had been on her bookshelf for a little while. It was a second-hand book that I had picked up at a vintage store, attracted to the cover. There is an inscription inside that is dated 1938. For its age, it's in great condition and many of the stories are just as interesting and entertaining as they would have been all those years ago. I did try to find a link to this particular title but was just deluged with "popular story books" rather than the actual book itself. However, it's worth keeping an eye out for second-hand books with short stories.
Her current read is Sophie's Misfortunes - part of The Fleurville Trilogy. This was another gift, and one that she has thumbed through many times over the years. But now we get to enjoy the story. Sophie is four, which of course has its own appeal, and comes up with crazy ideas about what she wants to do. For example, her mother gave her a tea set and she wanted to drink "real" tea when her friends came over. But her mother said, no. Undeterred, Sophie went out and got some water from the dog's bowl and chalk for sugar and mixed it with clover leaves. When her friends came to visit and drank it, they said it was disgusting. These stories hold our four-year-old's attention and she comments on them. To this story she said, "She should listen to her mummy a bit more, shouldn't she." Every night she asks to read two chapters. At the end of them she's quite tired, as there's a lot of listening involved, but she really enjoys the book.
images the indigo crew
Monday, 14 March 2016
Over the past five years I have travelled regularly for work - visiting people's homes interstate for my day job as an interior stylist and writer as part of the editorial content agency that I run with photographer Chris Warnes, Warnes & Walton.
As the trips are usually quite short - about three days at a time - I have become quite good at packing the bare essentials. Basically I fit my clothes, toiletry bag, and work-related equipment into a bag that is 44cm wide x 33cm high x 14cm deep - it's a Tampico linen bag which doesn't look out of place visiting someone's home as going out for dinner in the evening. It fits well within the size limits for domestic carry-on luggage requirements. It also makes moving from one location to another quick and easy.
Generally, we land the morning we are going to do the photo shoot and fly out after wrapping up at our last location. This helps minimise on packing too. However, there are some steps that I take to ensure I'm not carrying superfluous weight or bulk.
* I wear the outfit for that day's shoot and only pack two other outfits - usually dresses as that doesn't require packing separates (and extra bulk).
* If the trip is slightly longer I will repeat wear clothes after airing for a day or so.
* I wear one pair of shoes for the entire trip. Occasionally I might pack a light pair of sandals as an alternative.
* If the weather is cooler I pack a lightweight jacket and/or a thin wool cardigan as well as cashmere/wool scarf. Lighter layers take up less room.
* In my toiletry bag I pack travel-size or lightweight beauty products and a small roll-on perfume. Also, I tend to use whatever soap is available at the accommodation for cleansing my face and body. I don't have sensitive or reactive skin so a few days of using a regular soap never seems to hurt.
* As I only wash my hair once a week, I ensure I do it before taking the trip and this obviates the need for packing shampoo or conditioner.
This tight edit means that when I go on longer trips I am able to pack light too.
This week I am heading to Tasmania for four days and three nights. Below is the entire list of what I will be taking.
1 x Dress
1 x pair of shoes
2 x Dresses
1 x Cardigan
1 x Scarf
1 x umbrella
1 x laptop
1 x laptop case
1 x laptop charger
1 x iphone
1 x iphone charger (just the cord as I will charge via my computer)
1 x headphones (as I plan to listen to this audio book)
1 x notebook
1 x pencil
1 x diary
1 x purse/wallet
1 x refillable drink bottle
1 x toiletry bag (see below)
Toiletry bag contents
1 x moisturiser - Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Hydrator
1 x lip balm - Hurraw Coconut Lip Balm
1 x hand cream - Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm
1 x roll-on perfume - Aesop Marrakech Intense Parfum
1 x roll-on deodorant - Body Crystal Botanica with Aloe Vera
1 x hair brush - Acca Kappa Boar Bristle Brush
1 x toothbrush - Environmental Toothbrush - child size
1 x travel-sized toothpaste
1 x spf tinted (mineral and botanical) moisturiser - Chantecaille Just Skin in Bliss1 x bronzer/blush duo - NARS Orgasm and Laguna bronzer/blush duo
1 x lipstick - Chantecaille Lip Chic in Amour
image the indigo crew
Friday, 11 March 2016
It never ceases to amaze me how many non-healthy ingredients go into most banana breads, especially the ones that are commonly available at cafes. We always prefer a homemade version. However, even then, it's not exactly "healthy". When we had a pile of browning bananas recently I decided to hunt out a version that wasn't so oily or full of sugar. I adapted a recipe from The Healthy Chef as I didn't have all of her ingredients to hand. One of the main differences is that she used almond meal in place of the flour to make it gluten free, which you could do. I also didn't have flaxseed so substituted that with some other ingredients, listed below.
It was a big hit. In fact, I thought we might have some leftover for a playdate but I had to make a second batch.
butter, for greasing
3 large smashed ripe bananas
3 free range/organic eggs
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups plain flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup ground flaxseed (or substitute ground almond/chia seeds as we did)
1. Preheat oven to 180-degrees-C. Grease a loaf tin with butter. Line the tin with baking paper.
2. Combine smashed banana, honey, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs, bicarb and lemon. (The lemon activates the bicarb.)
3. Add flour, coconut and flaxseed/almond meal and mix well. Spoon batter into tin and bake for 45-60 minutes (my oven took closer to 1 hour) until golden and a skewer comes out clean.
4. Cool in tin before turning out onto a wire rack.
images the indigo crew
Wednesday, 9 March 2016
Recently when our seven-year-old got a wobbly tooth, I started to search for ideas on how to mark this rite of passage. During my research I came across what seemed to be a great book. It arrived just ahead of him losing his tooth a week or so ago and both he and his sister enjoyed reading about the stories and traditions from different parts of the world.
Throw Your Tooth on the Roof is just that - a precis of how different cultures deal with this milestone in a child's life. And it's quite amazing how many cultures do actually throw the tooth on the roof!
The book started when the author was telling her daughter about the Tooth Fairy and a Brazilian friend questioned what this was. This conversation started an interest in finding out what children around the world do with their teeth when they fall out. She asked people everywhere she went and contacted universities, cultural centres and UNICEF offices around the world to find out the answers.
images the indigo crew
Monday, 7 March 2016
While summer is officially over in Australia, it is still hot. Most days we are experiencing temperatures above 30-degrees-C, and it's incredibly humid too. Or at least in the areas near where we are based. So I thought it wouldn't be out place to share some of my summer essentials.
My days consist of working from home, travelling to other people's houses for photo shoots and, of course, living and working on a country property. Clothing tends to be casual but with an eye for detail and design. Comfort, yes, but never at the expense of everything else. There's nothing that can quite set you in the right frame of mind as a beautiful piece of clothing. Something that makes you feel, and look, good.
Note: I tend to buy items on a needs basis rather than because new wares have hit the stores. Some pieces have lasted years, and I expect to be around for many more. So I've listed similar items where necessary. Also, I've included items I would like to purchase when my current pieces need replacing.
I am and always have been a dress person. I enjoy the simplicity of them - that you don't need to "match" or consider an ancillary piece that will complement it. Also, I've always found them to be more flattering on my body than a top and skirt or trousers or jeans, which can be more of a struggle to find flattering cuts. Generally, I tend towards feminine slightly bohemian styles, often with lace details.
In summer I choose light fabrics - soft gauze cottons or linen to keep cool. I enjoy wearing natural materials and pieces that wash easily.
Over the years, I've found a few labels that I gravitate towards regularly because of the style, cut or fabric. These include Ace & Jig, Lemlem, Malene Birger, Mamapapa and, more recently, Numero 74.
I've always found beautiful clothing at Christensen Copenhagen, Jim and Jane, Joanie Loves Chachi and Mr and Mrs Smith Manly.
Labels I'm eyeing off include Christy Dawn, Meg by Design, Paddo to Palmy and Ulla Johnson. I'm also looking forward to seeing the recently released organic range from Yoli and Otis.
I've always loved hats. They are such a fun accessory and as I get a little older I'm enjoying their sun-shading benefits too. For summer, I've worn a Panama hat for years. However, more recently I've started to wear this one from Brixton. And I'm eyeing off the beautiful range from Sarah J Curtis. Fallen Broken Street is another great Australian brand too.
I basically live in about three different types of shoes over summer - Splice slides for the beach, Bensimons for around the property (love that I can slip them on and off so easily) and a pair of Sol Sana roman style sandals that I wear to dress up a little more - I bought the ones above from Jim and Jane.
I have a few bags that I alternate, depending on the occasion. For life with children (and work when I'm carrying my laptop) as well as travel, I regularly use my Tampico linen bag. It's brilliant. It has plenty of room, goes with pretty much everything and holds a ton of things.
When it's just me and I'm carrying my wallet and a few smaller items such as sunglasses, I use one of two bags - a camel-coloured leather one from Estellon (which I always receive comments on - above) and a teal blue leather over-the-shoulder bag Mini Gueliz from Lalla, which comes with a Liberty floral print lining.
For the beach, I use my French market bag.
I've had a Zimmermann swimsuit for years that's still going strong. I love the cut. It's low around the legs - reminiscent of 1950s style swimsuits - and rouched around the front so forgiving for post-baby bodies. It also has a tie at the front that can go around the neck (for extra support while swimming) or can tie in a bow at the front (to prevent strap tan lines). I've seen similar at Malia Mills, above.
images (unless stated otherwise) the indigo crew
Friday, 4 March 2016
The property is quite overgrown. It is easy to understand why it has become this way. We are on 26 acres and it's a big job to keep the grass and weeds in check before even starting on making improvements. However, every weekend we try to get outside and make some small steps. (As well as bring some greenery indoors when we can.) And when we are outside, the children want to be there right alongside us.
Of course, there are distractions along the way. Happy ones, sometimes. Such as the day we spotted a turtle trying to cross the road on the school run. We put it in a bucket with some water, to save it from getting run over, and placed it in one of our ponds.
The improved weather has meant that we have started to build a treehouse. It's something that has been put ahead of improvements to the house itself. It is to help the children become involved in the transformation of this property. And, of course, for them to have a safe outdoor space for them to play. Whenever work is being done, they are right there - counting screws, drilling holes, climbing down the rope ladder to rescue tools that have fallen below. It has fast become their happy place.
However, we have made some changes inside too. It is not until you live in a space that you get a sense of what works, and doesn't. What can be improved. We decided to create a larger living area and move the dining table to another part of the open-plan downstairs section. Instantly it made the house feel more like a home. All the boxes (filled mostly with books) went upstairs to slowly become unpacked.
And another white wall was added. We managed to paint several of them before moving in, but time was against us to get all of the feature walls neutralised. Primarily, the exercise has been about reflecting light back into the space. Even though we have a north-facing view, the stained timber walls absorb a lot of light and can make the space feel more enclosed that what it is.
On the final weekend of February a new ramp was added to the treehouse and salvaged floorboards went down. Almost straight away the children ran up with brooms to tidy their space. It was wonderful to see them so house proud. And it was a great way to end the month.
images the indigo crew