February & March – Inspirational double whammy!

I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like 2015 is disappearing faster than I can keep up! So fast in fact that I entirely missed out on publishing my February Inspirations post! I’m glad you all survived the disappointment, this month is a bit of a double whammy and general life catch up.

This post does not include March’s recipe however, this will follow later in the month… This post is long enough as it is! I hoe you’ve got snacks prepared as you’ll need some serious stamina to reach the end!

I cannot believe that we are already into March! It is supposedly autumn now -Lies I tell you ALL LIES! It has been horrendously hot and sweaty over the last few weeks. In fact Queensland has been in the midst of a heatwave, with parts of the state reaching the highest recorded temperatures since 1951!

I have been terribly remiss in not updating my blog and apologize to those who called me out on this.  However, the positive of this is that this it has been because I have been so busy doing lots of wonderful and fun things. Including multiple things from my list!

So in order to give you fair warning, you will probably be getting bombarded with a whole host of posts in the upcoming weeks… Although given my poor track record so far this year it may not pay to hold your breath, as you may pass out first 🙂

And so onwards to some actual content…

February’s Monthly Quote:

“In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.”  Nikos Kazantzakis

I started a new secondment through my job in January.I has taken me to a new town in northern Queensland to work on a coal mine. The work is entirely different from my experience and slightly outside my skill set. The position involves making the transition from being the consultant to the client to being the client…

Initially it felt like starting a new job role altogether, with the associated excitement and butterflies. Within a few weeks once the settling period was over and the hard work began I had the understandable feelings of self doubt.
I chose this quote to carry me through February to remind myself that I am there because I am capable and I truly believe that you can turn your hand to pretty much anything with enough hard work and determination…
Thing’s aren’t going to be smooth sailing, but they certainly aren’t boring and I’m getting the challenge I was looking for!

March’s Monthly Quote:

inspirational-quotes-MARCHMarch’s quote comes from Mandy Hale this quote is very fitting for me, especially this month. I am a planner, I will openly admit to having a problem, maybe even a fetish for planning. I love a good list, especially a hand written one on paper. Nothing quite beats the feeling of taking a pen and drawing a bit fat line through an item once you’ve completed/done/got it. I even have my #30@30 printed out and stuck on my fridge for easy reference at all times!

One area where I turn into plan-zilla is travel. I love to travel, it is one of my favourite things in life. Unfortunately though I am not insanely rich and cannot afford to spend my days traveling the world at my leisure – first world concerns I know! I therefore consider my annual leave to be almost sacred time that, of which absolutely every second must be maximised to DO ALL THE THINGS!!  In order to achieve maximum holiday productivity I plan, plan and plan some more… When I went to South America I made a bound guide of my daily itinerary with country profiles with interesting statistics and reference copies of all my important documents – Yes I am that traveler…

In 2 weeks time I will be traveling to New Zealand to meet the SO’s family and attend his sisters wedding. I am very excited about this, as I have always wanted to visit New Zealand and I’m looking forward to getting the insider’s tour. However, in part due to the wedding plans and also as we are visiting family I am not actually able to plan anything… I am having to go with the flow… Cue meltdown…

This, however, has not stopped me from reading the entire NZ lonely planet guide and putting colour-coded page-savers on every relevant page of interest…. Oh and I might have also created a mini-bound guide to the Catlins… Just so, you know, I have options and then I can instantly put plan #DOEVERYTHINGNZ into action 🙂

Really, really, reeeeeeally, did you expect anything else 🙂

Recipe of the Month – Triple-layered Birthday Cake

February saw the SO turn 30… yes indeedy I have a toy boy…

A big birthday needs a big birthday cake, so I readied myself for the challenge.

I made a layer cake that consists of three different flavoured sponges – chocolate, caramel and milk. It was then iced with a whipped caramel buttercream and finished off by pouring a dark chocolate ganache over the top. The link to the recipe can be found here on this wonderful food blog.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but I was fairly happy with the end result… It was enjoyed at any rate and that’s what matters.

I started by cooking the 3 sponge layers. Firstly the milk sponge, a combination of fairly basic ingredients.

IMG_1668I don’t usually add milk to cake mixture and was slightly concerned at how wet the mixture was when it went into the oven, but it came up a treat. I used my favourite cake tins, 6″ round baking tins that my mother passed onto me when i left home. I think they are older than i am. They are my most-used baking tins!

IMG_1670I then tackled the bottom layer, a dense, rich chocolate cake. I’m not a big fan of chocolate cake myself to be honest. I always find it a bit disappointing; however, this mixture was thick and rich. Again this turned out extremely well and I felt like I was on to a bit of a winner…

IMG_1671I left the caramel sponge until last, as it required making the caramel sauce to flavour the sponge. By this point I was melting. remember that all this time I was baking it was a roaring 35 degrees Queensland summer outside. The things you do for love…

IMG_1672I wasn’t confident about the caramel sponge as I thought that my syrup was too light in flavour. I also made a terrible mistake with this one. I had turned the oven down whilst I made the caramel sauce and forgot to raise it again when I put the cake in!! As a result it cooked for a longer time period at a slower temperature. It wasn’t an all out disaster, but it didn’t rise as evenly and perfectly as the other 2 layers and required a bit of trimming.

I had to do the baking the week prior to the SO’s actual birthday, due to now working a 5-on-2-off FIFO roster so I then wrapped and froze the cakes in advance. I was quite nervous about doing this. However, a quick spot of googling reassured me that this is a common technique used by professional cake makers. Apparently not only does this make handling and therefore, assembling a layered cake easier, it also makes the sponge moister.

The following week, the night before the big day I defrosted the sponge layers and layered them using the whipped caramel frosting. This frosting is made using a cooked meringue base. This means you heat your egg white and sugar to a set temperature in a bain marie whilst whisking. I had not made this type of frosting before, but it was so light and airy I will definitely use this technique again, especially for cupcake icing.

IMG_1694I thought the cake looked very nice just with the frosting between the layers, with the three flavoured sponges all on show. Burt the Chameleon was giving it a good ogle…

IMG_1716I finished the cake off by pouring my cooled ganache over the top of the cake. Voila it was completed! My ganache was runnier than the original chef’s and so it doesn’t look quite as glamorous, but I was pleased it was done.

In hindsight I think it would be good to serve this cake with the gananche on the side, as it’s so rich.

Freedom February

February saw the long awaited (4 1/2 months long) delivery of my snazzy new sofa from Freedom Furniture! I used to have a corner sofa back in my apartment in London and have missed it ever since I left.

IMG_1728I am horribly indecisive when it comes to large purchases. I had been umming and ahhhing over the thought of a new sofa and doing my usual huge amount of research for about 6 months.

Back in November  dragged a friend along on a rather failed trip to IKEA resulted in the need for immediate sustenance. Rather than braving the IKEA canteen mid-morning (if you are childless and attempt this then I salute you)  we hit up the Logan Megacentre next door and had a far more civilized Ladies-what-lunch at The Coffee Club. This resulted in a side visit to Freedom Furniture where low and behold was THE SOFA!

After a fair bit of trialing, paving around the store, debating, internal hand wringing on my part and likely losing the will to live on Esther’s part I went for it and bought it! On Sale!

I generally do not enjoy shopping with other people, the only person I used to enjoy shopping trips with was my mother. However, for some reason I think Esther and myself are one another’s shopping lucky charms as we both seem to find what we are looking for when we are together… Thee is usually wine at the end too, so wins all around really!

IMG_1760So Esther Nielsen this month I am thankful for having you as my friend, my shopping buddy/sofa-tester and general ‘ladies-wot-whatever’ partner in crime…  You are welcome to come and veg out any time and the buttocks of my guests are eternally in your gratitude 🙂

March Mindfullness with the McGrath Foundation

This month (March in case you’ve become delirious and lost track by this point) my inspiration comes from the McGrath Foundation. If you haven;t heard of this charity before you can read more here.

Whilst I have not been touched directly by breast cancer myself, I have family members that been affected and many of you will know that I lost my mother to cancer in 2012. Any charity that aims to improve the lives of sufferer and their families and provide support throughout that time should be celebrated.

The site I am currently working on has a close relationship with the McGrath Foundation and staff can show their support by opting to wear pink branded hard hats, with donations for the purchase of these going to the charity. Regardless of the fact that i was sold at the colour, I think it’s great that corporations allow employees to show their support in this way. They also support male cancer charities so the boys aren’t left out.

Therefore, I will now be looking super-stylish rocking this bad-boy around site…

pink hard hat



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