Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Shoesday: Christmas Post

Still struggling to figure out what you want for Christmas? Is your better half still bugging you to tell him/her what you want for Christmas? Stop them in their tracks with this gift idea from Net-A-Porter: a pair of shoes, every week for a year.

That's right. For a measly $47,500 all these shoes (and plenty more) could be yours. A gift every week! Delivered to your door!

They'll never make the mistake of not knowing exactly what you want for Christmas again... ;o)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Friday: Happy Christmas

At last! I have flown my last flight for 2014. I am back with my family and soon to catch up with a ton of friends over many glasses of champagne and I can't wait!

I watched one of those year in review montages they show at this time of year, and I was struck by how dramatic this year has been. The Sydney siege this week was just another in a long line of events that have shaken the globe (Malaysian Airlines disasters, Pakistan school shootings, Sony hackings). Things that seemed simple and straight-forward and almost inalienable are now vulnerable - overseas travel, going to school, getting a coffee, writing an email, playing cricket - which in turn makes us feel vulnerable. Each time one of these events occurs, the little dial on our Fear Gauge is affected. But I don't believe you can let these things stop you from living your authentic life. We are here now and for such a short time - savouring what we have, preserving it for others to enjoy, and improving and creating greater things for others. In the scheme of things, I think that's part of why we're here as a species and why we have flourished.

And another (strange) thought that I had, as I tried to make sense of the death of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnston, was the other reason we're on this planet. I believe that when we die, we die. But we're not 100% gone. There are fragments of us left in the memories we leave behind, and the children we create, and the people whose lives we touch. There is an element of you in your child. There is the memory of you that may cause someone to do something - whether it be for them self or for others. There is the blessing a person feels and reflects upon for having met you. So in that way, we don't die - we are kept alive in the flesh, deeds and thoughts of others. And that is a terribly humbling thought, don't you think? And maybe persuades us to do better, be kinder, more generous and more open with our affections.

So I hope your Christmas is warm, lovely and champagne soaked. And that 2015 is the year we strive to do better. Merry Christmas, and happy Friday xo

Things We Love

Some days, it really is the simple things that make you happy.

For the girl who is still working all the way up to Christmas (Hi!) she would know that there is nothing better than freshly sharpened, soft-lead pencils with adorable, golden words scraped in to their pink sides and a coffee mug to power her through the afternoon with words of inspiration and dreams of world domination.

Meet Miss Poppy Design, a Melbourne-based graphic designer with a penchant for the pretty side of life. You can thank me after you've raided her on-line store. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Happy Friday: Chrismukkah

For anyone out there who watched The O.C. in their teenage/early-20s years, Chrismukkah requires no explanation. For those who missed out on Ryan, Marissa and the cutest couple ever (Summer and Seth), Chrismukkah is basically a blend of Judaism's Hanukkah and Christianity's Christmas.

One of the great things eaten over Hanukkah is the jam doughnut. Even though I generally am not a cake/muffin kind of girl, doughnuts and jam doughnuts just KILL me. I love them. And let's be perfectly clear here: when I talk doughnuts, I am not talking that shit you get at Krispy Kreme or Donut King. I am talking warm, just out of the deep fryer and into the cinnamon sugar bowl and into a paper bag kind of doughnut. I am a very out, and very proud doughnut snob.

Bring it on
Jam doughnuts have lots of names - sufganiyot for those hailing from Israel and consumed during Hanukkah, Berliners for those from Germany (I had these home made for me by the daughter of a family friend when I was about 8 years old and it was this moment that got me thoroughly hooked), Paczki in Poland, Pampushky in the Ukraine (eaten these too, also delicious) and in Italy they are adorably called Bombolini. Shall we travel the world and taste them all? I think we should. Bucket list now updated.

So for today's Happy Friday, as I am bound to find myself in the kitchen for much of this weekend cooking for BBQ's we're popping in to, please see the not-so-healthy recipe for jam doughnuts from Smitten Kitchen.

Jam Doughnuts
makes 16 x 2-inch doughnuts

Prep time: 1 hour, 45 mins
Cook time: 10 minutes
Eat time: 2 nanoseconds

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) lukewarm (not hot) milk
2 large egg yolks
Few gratings of orange or lemon zest, 1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons (30g) butter softened
2 1/4 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
Vegetable oil for deep-frying, and coating bowl
1/2 to 2/3 cup jam or preserves of your choice
Powdered sugar

Make the dough: In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and milk. Let stand for 5 minutes; it should become a little foamy. Whisk in yolks, any zest or extracts you’d like to use, then butter. Don’t worry if the butter doesn’t fully combine.
— By hand: Add half of flour and stir with a spoon until combined. Add second half of flour and salt and stir as best as you can with a spoon, then use your hands to knead the dough until it forms a smooth, elastic round, about 5 minutes. Try, if you can, to resist adding extra flour, even if it’s sticky. Extra flour always makes for tougher/dryer doughnuts and breads. Sticky hands and counters are always washable!
— With a stand mixer: Add half the flour and let the dough hook mix it in slowly, on a low speed. Add second half of flour and salt and let the dough hook bring it together into a rough dough. Run machine for 3 to 4 minutes, letting it knead the dough into a smooth, cohesive mass.

Both methods: If the dough is already in the bowl, remove it just long enough to lightly oil the bowl. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour, or in the fridge overnight.
On a lightly floured counter, roll dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rounds; no need to re-roll scraps unless you wish; I like to keep the odd shapes for getting the hang of frying before cooking the final doughnuts. Or, if you’re vehemently against scraps and re-rolling, you can make small square doughnuts, which are surprisingly cute. Let cut dough rise for another 30 minutes, loosely covered with a towel.

Fry the doughnuts: Heat 2 inches of oil to 175°C in a cast-iron frying pan (I like using one because it so delightfully re-seasons them) or heavy pot. Use your dough scraps to practice and get an idea of how quickly the doughnuts will cook. Then add about 4 doughnuts at a time to the oil, cooking on the first side until golden brown underneath, about 1 to 2 minutes. Flip doughnuts and cook on the other side, until it, too, is golden brown underneath, about another minute. Drain doughnuts, then spread them on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb extra oil. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

Fill with jam: When doughnuts are cool enough to handle, place jam in a piping bag with a round tip with a 1/4- to 1/2-inch opening. You can fill doughnuts from the tops or sides; I did half with each. Press the tip of the jam bag halfway into the doughnut, and squeeze in the jam until it dollops out a little from the hole. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

Finish doughnuts: Either generously shower doughnuts with powdered sugar on either side, shaken from a fine-mesh strainer, or roll the doughnuts gently in a bowl of powdered sugar.

Eat at once. Don’t forget to share. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shoesday: Pleasure & Pain

London's Victor & Albert Museum will be home to an enviable shoe collection from 13 June 2015, with its newly announced Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition. Looking at the extremes of footwear around the world, the exhibition will show about 200 pairs of shoes ranging from a gold leaf-decorated sandal from ancient Egyptian times, through to today's dazzling, often-times-death-defying high heels (often sans heel).

Attendees will be asked to consider the cultural significance and transformative capacity of shoes - and we're not just talking Cinderella getting her man thanks to her perfect glass slipper.

The exhibit will be organised around three themes: Transformation, Status and Seduction.
"Transformation" will highlight shoes that are now legend that through folklore and cultural influence have become "contemporary marketing tools for the concept of the modern-day, fairy-tale shoemakers, whose designs will magically transform the life of the wearer." (OK, that bit is about Cinderella).

"Status" looks at the correlation between impractical shoes, often designed in shapes and materials that make them unsuitable for walking and the people of privileged status who usually wore them. And along with the outlandish and absurd modern creations, there are Indian men's shoes with extremely long toes, noisy slap-sole shoes worn in 17th century Europe and 'Pompadour' shoes worn by trend-setting women in the 18th-century French court.
"Seduction" includes shoes that are "an expression of sexual empowerment or a passive source of pleasure. Like feet, shoes can be objects of fetishism. High Japanese geta, extreme heels and tight-laced leather boots will be on display as well as examples of erotic styles channeled by mainstream fashion in recent years."

Great shoes: weapons of mass seduction
So there you have it. If you're in London in June, please go and take lots of pictures. :o)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Happy Weekend

May your bubblegum retain its flavour for longer than usual. May your eyeliner come out even on both eyes. May the jewels at your ears be the real McCoy. And may the champagne flow freely.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Seafolly Makes A Splash

News this week that another iconic Australian fashion label has been majority purchased by LVMH (slightly indirectly - the majority purchase was by L Capital Asia, a private equity fund sponsored by LVMH), signalling that LVMH still believes Australian labels are producing quality goods at a high enough standard to compete strongly in international markets. You may recall LVMH secured R.M. Williams many months ago. 
If you're not familiar with the label, you probably don't read this blog. Seafolly is your quintessential Aussie swimwear label, selling a range of beach-wear products from you classic bikini and one-piece, all the way through to kaftans, beach bags, beach towels and a new range of sunglasses on its way. The label favours bright colours, and is wide-ranging in its appeal: a bo-ho girl, surfie girl and classic girl could go to Seafolly and each walk out with something they love. 
Seafolly has until now been a family-owned company, and is set to celebrate 40 years of cutting brightly coloured pieces of lycra into covetable swimwear next year. The Halas family (son Anthony has been CEO since 1998) noted that they have been approached on an almost daily basis for the past 3 years with offers for the company (it does after all generate about $100 million annually... You can understand why).

The family decided to take the plunge when L Capital approached them. As Halas says: 
“They’re helping us become an international iconic brand, and using their retail connections and global connections to help us develop internationally in core markets and Asian markets where we don’t have a presence at all. I presented them with our five-year plan as a family brand, where we could double business over the next four to five years. With their input I feel we can triple it or more.”
Um.... Where can I buy shares?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

63 Not Out

It has been an utterly heartbreaking week in Australia. Today's funeral service for the much-loved batsman, Phillip Joel Hughes, was particularly sad. While there was comfort to be gleaned from the outpouring of support from all corners of the globe, the grief - deeply etched - on the face of Greg Hughes, Phil's father, as he carried his son's coffin was so awfully haunting. It is a task no parent should face. My heart goes out to everyone feeling the sorrow of this life cut far too short. 


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Shoesday: Party Season

December - and Summer (hooray!) - has arrived! Cue Jingle Bells, Christmas parties and happily warm evenings spent with friends, champagne and prawns.

Before you head out for said parties and champagne sessions, you must of course consider your footwear.

Tis the season

Comfort or beauty? I think we all know the answer...