Lemon honey in the city

Living in a big city naturally means you do not have an acre of land. We are lucky in that we have a courtyard, and it gets sun in the summer. You have heard me wax lyrical about basil pesto before. Well now it is the turn of some humble lemons. One of our first purchases was a lemon and lime tree – a graft obviously, though we only seem to get lemons. I had visions of limes for gin and tonic in the summer when we bought the tree! The last batch of lemons ended up as frozen lemon juice thanks to the mother-out-of-law. For some unknown reason I have always wanted to have a go at making Lemon Honey (which is known as lemon butter in the Australian vernacular as I found out) and for some random reason this late batch of lemons (code for I thought I had better take them off the tree as spring was here!) inspired me. While I was tempted to give them the same fate as their predecessors I went to every kiwi’s cooking bible (the Edmonds Cook Book) and the making of lemon honey appeared reasonably straightforward. What was quirky was a couple of day’s later I picked up the October Child magazine (a great freebie) and in there was an article on their tried and true cookbooks and there first was the good old Edmonds cook book. I could not have agreed more that day, fresh from my successful foray. And it made me smile, especially when we think of modern cook books full of fabulous colour photos – this cook book is the original real deal, the entire recipe for the the lemon honey stretches to about two centimetres, and there are four other recipes sharing the page. You know what though – the lemon honey turned out just so. I am even giving the small jar to a friend, not that she knows it yet, but she thought my first jam attempt was more than ok, so I am willing to risk her opinion again! If you have some lemons going spare, can I suggest a batch of lemon honey…

Cafe Melbourne in Thames

I consider myself a small town girl in origin. Devonport was my first home, after the age of five I lived in a village in the UK, returning to NZ from the age of ten where Thames was home until I headed off to University.

I was recently back in my old home town of Thames, not having been there for three and a half years. In that time a new cafe has opened, Cafe Melbourne, supposedly bringing some Melbourne to Thames. Given I reside in Melbourne, and have done for 12 years, and have one of the best cafes in Melbourne on our proverbial doorstep (Auction Rooms), feel qualified to pass comment on whether Cafe Melbourne is bringing some Melbourne to Thames… And it does!

We were only in town for for 3 days, and went twice.  The coffee is GREAT, and the food DIVINE.  I laughingly joked (semi-seriously) this is good enough that can we come back on the weekend? (knowing we would be back in the real Melbourne). My other half said the food was of Auction Rooms quality – for those of you who have ever ventured to the Auction Rooms in North Melbourne, this is high praise indeed, even more so if you knew my other half!

And as an aside – the owner’s back story is on the back of the menu, worth the read so won’t spoil that surprise. And as it is with small towns, my Dad was a frequent purchaser from the owner’s father’s shop many years ago, so that random thread of connection.

Did not even think to take photos (or is that, was too lazy to take photos of my own…), here are some of theirs instead. If you ever pass through Thames visit – you will not be disappointed. Imagine any choice from the menu will delight, I highly recommend the chicken salad – it was to die for!

Cafe Melbourne Thames

Cafe Melbourne Thames

Photos courtesy of CafeMelbourne.co.nz

Pineapple Icy Poles

If you are busy, or even if you are not busy I have a great and affordable idea to get you through the ensuing summer days. My daughter is a fan of ice blocks and ice creams. Particularly on the walk back from the park to our place, where we pass a place of potential purchase. Though she is getting familiar with the reply, “don’t have my wallet on me“, which is generally actually the truth. We of course indulge from time to time.

Not long after she was born I bought a little pack of ice block moulds from Ikea. Her father obviously thought I was completely mad as she was literally a baby on milk, but I clearly had a thought for the future, which I have finally put into action.

I literally bought a can of pineapple in juice, whizzed it up with the hand blender that has been largely collecting dust since the pureed food extravaganzas disappeared off the menu. Mixed in some water to dilute it down. Chucked it into the afore mentioned moulds with the help of the small kitchen hand. Left in the freezer over night – and they are good to go. The small kitchen hand has eaten them all, much to the delight and annoyance of her parents. They were seriously yum and we could easily have eaten them.

Think I may branch out and have a go with some fresh pineapple, not to mention there are loads more exotic options out there to try, like layers of strawberries and yogurt. But as a time poor working mum even I can manage these.

Healthy takeaway never tasted better

I don’t know about you, on one hand the end of the year cannot come soon enough – it has been a long year at work, and on the other the thought of getting organised for Christmas is something I cannot bear to contemplate – toast is acceptable for dinner every night until Christmas isn’t it?!  This in a household where both Mum and Dad are adept in the kitchen and share the cooking, but we are struggling beyond measure at the moment – I haven’t even graced my blog almost all of this month :o(  However I think I may have found a proverbial knight in shining armour to make the journey to the end of the year manageable, maybe even somewhat enjoyable.

Delicious, nutritionally balanced take-home meals lovingly prepared by a personal chef? Sounds too good to be true, or at least out of our price range.  However Carlton’s Kitchen & Pantry, the brainchild of trained chef, nutritionist and dietitian Charlotte Miller, with real food and good nutrition at the heart of all it does, looks like it can come to the rescue with a tasty range of high quality take-home meals based on the kind of healthy, gourmet fare we like to cook for ourselves.  The good news is just around the corner, literally and figuratively.

With years of experience working as a personal chef for clients all around the world, Charlotte knows better than most how to cater to individual tastes and keep things interesting and she is passionate about creating good quality meals that take the time and stress out of looking after yourself.  So I am about to check this out – and will let you know how we go.

WOMANz: How to be a Rock Star

I never thought I would be taking my three year old to a Melbourne Fringe Festival event. I imagined this was the exact opposite of what the Fringe was all about.  But hey I am open to being proved wrong… and I was totally wrong.  In fact when you go their website – kids is the third category on the left hand side.

I had the joy last weekend of taking my daughter to the utterly fabulous Womanz: How to be a Rock Star – by the equally fabulous Tessa Waters.  Talk about true talent.  I am always in awe of those who can get up on stage and entertain, but someone who can do it for kids and parents in the same show, while weaving in some positive body messages is absolutely a star.  There was my three year old not necessarily complying with exactly what was asked of her on stage, but nevertheless in there with gusto.  And I can still see in my head this young boy who amazed us all by doing the splits.  Just a sensational show, my daughter and I did not want it to end.

Towards the end of the show when there was a call for four parents, my littley said that is you Mum – more confident that I.  I hesitated when I should not have, but promised that I would get up next time we were at such an event – and I will.

So thank you Melbourne Fringe and Tessa Waters – it is never to soon to indulge your children in culture.  Especially when it is on right in your neighbourhood – and that is my last thank you, to my very own North Melbourne for continuing to be one of the host venues.  I will be on the look out for more next year.

Tessa Waters North Melbourne

Photo courtesy of http://www.melbournefringe.com.au

Made in North Melbourne – Going Pro!

Gosh, starting to be a bit missing in action here.  I could fib and say it was because I really am going pro with my Made in North Melbourne gig, but alas fibbing and I are barely even acquaintances!  And I have no desire to change that.  I have just been sucked into the work vortex, but am clambering out again.

Speaking of fibbing there is however some truth in my post title, and I am very proud of myself. Having made the second sale from my Etsy store (crowd goes wild, round of applause, champagne corks popping,… ok slight exaggeration!) I decided to lash out and get some branding.  And I am thrilled.  Check out my fancy pants new business cards, with a nod to my grandmother on the back, and even cooler my little stickers for when wrapping up items before posting.  I now of course need a third order to try these out.

Now I still have a long, long, did I say long way to go with my actual products – some may say I am not necessarily putting my attention quite in the right place.  But I am having fun! And have a gazillion ideas (sticking with the fibbing theme that might be slightly overstating the number!), but my products can only get better.

So, do you like my branding?  What about a bracelet made from a bread bag – the ultimate in up-cycling!

Bad Mum (and Dad)

Do not ring the cops, I am not really a bad Mum, nor is my dear other half a bad Dad.  But on our scale of things bad or perhaps shocking is the word we might use about ourselves.

Of late on a Friday evening we have developed a tendency of having dinner out in our local area (North Melbourne).  Before children we often dined out.  But as we all know life changes.  Anyway the Friday night just gone we decided to do just that.  I picked up our sweetheart from daycare, and we met Dad at the local Thai restaurant.  Our little girl loves spring rolls, including the sweet chilli dipping sauce.  I treated myself to two small glasses of wine.  Dad had water.  Off home we went, and feeling extra lazy (end of the working week and all that) we thought we might put miss to bed without a shower, and give her one in the morning instead.  So as a special treat we sat on the couch to let her watch a smidgin of TV, about 15 minutes we were thinking.

Now Dad has been working some ridiculous hours of late.  And me a few more than I should have here and there.  I suddenly woke up about 40 minutes later – my little girl still snuggled against me watching TV.  Dad was still asleep.  If anyone had been a fly on the wall they would have seen two parents fast asleep and the little girl watching TV – the epitome of poor parenthood.  I am pleased to say we had put the TV onto a somewhat suitable kids movie (I cannot even remember what it was) – I am just glad to say that it had not ended and moved onto something we would be mortified for her to see.  Think both Mum and Dad can take something from this – less work, more sleep!