Quarterly catch-up extravaganza

April & May have come and gone in the blink of an eye. It rather seems I am failing at monthly updates – but when you have 8 days a month to function like a normal person it’s actually quite hard to keep up with this blog – I won’t lie, it’s felt like a struggle.

I know I said the same thing last month but it really does feel like this year is happening in fast forward!

I have to get on with posting my extra blog posts too – as I have completed a whole bunch of fun things!

I’ve also actually written them – so am going to set them all to auto-post weekly over the next few weeks each Friday afternoon so keep your eyes peeled and feel free to share the love.

This post is bit of a behemoth – as usual and is playing catch-up covered April and May and looking forwards into March… so I’ll keep it as snappy as I can…

Quotes

April – let’s pretend it wasn’t so long ago…

This month though I have been feeling pretty inspired by the work of the much loved Michael Leunig.

IMG_2206I have been following his work for a while and as a member of the Michael Leunig Appreciation society on Facebook I get to see his lovely pictures, poems and thoughts most days. 

I find many of them gently amusing, other more politically charged posts generally align with my world views.

Life has been treating me pretty well this year, apart from work-related stress, which is really just a given.

I saw this is about a week ago and it really amused me – just trying to enjoy the little pleasures of everyday life and not let things get on top of me.Being away from hope Monday to Friday, I really find I enjoy small moments at home when I’m having a quiet weekend (rare).

IMG_2246May

“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present: the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” James J.Lachard

Mark shared this with me after a conversation we had the other night when I was expressing how I currently feel towards my career (or lack thereof) and how I have reached a point where the potential for higher financial rewards are just not worth the associated stress. It just perfectly summed up how I had been feeling about life and the rat race and starting me thinking about longer term change.

I’m not good with stress and struggle with anxiety, which I have to actively manage – somewhat successfully it would seem, as I was then asked in a surprised voice whether I got anxious!

As I don’t have a vocational career there’s no end goal, no attainable stage of enlightenment or ability to reach, just continued layering of pressure and volume of deliverables. I have been feeling increasingly that I just want to work for myself, to be answerable to myself and reasonable for my own decisions. I would love to have a small business… I think I’m still a way off taking the plunge though.

June

IMG_2165The main point of this year’s challenges was to inspire myself to achieve goals and get out here and live life to the full. Recently I have gotten bogged down in the day-today and work-life struggle and fallen off the bandwagon a bit.

Therefore, this month I going to get on with organising the things important to myself, be more proactive and not put things off… It’s so easy to say “oh next time, next weekend” or “I’ll tell them next time” so in June I’m going to try and be more in the today.

Recipe(s) of the month(s)

April

This month my cooking has been super basic and uninspired… I have been trying to work through leftovers in the freezer.

I didn’t include my March baking in my last post, so I have to include even more fun food items…

They’re both super simple and both baking related… used as bake sale items for Kokoda fundraising – more about that later!

So first up I have super mega chocolate cupcakes.

I made a basic Victoria sponge mix base and then topped these with the best chocolate frosting ever…

Cake mixture:

Ratio of 2:2:2:1 of flour:sugar:butter:eggs

i.e. I use 6 oz of flour etc and 3 eggs to make about 12 cupcakes or a small double layered Victoria sponge.

Beat your sugar and butter then fold in the flour and eggs, alternating small volumes.

Then give a good old fix – carefully to fold, rather than beat so you make your sponge all nice and light.

Funnily enough I have made this cake using the whisk on my mixer and actually think it works out better in texture when hand mixed…IMG_1845

Frosting:

Ratio of 1 cup sugar to 1 egg white

Whip sugar and egg white over bain-marie consistently until it reaches 60 degrees (so you don’t give everyone salmonella).

Then transfer to mixer and whip on high setting until smooth, glossy and soft peaks.

Then add in small amounts of butter until you think it’s reached the rich butter cream consistency – this should be like a whipped mousse texture.

I then added cocoa – quite a lot of cocoa, good quality cocoa…

This frosting is super intense in flavour and like velvet mousse in texture – wonderful!

You need a plain or light cake base though, at the chocolate is so potent! Although orange or mint might work really well too.

They then got packaged up in my trusty cupcake carrier and taken to work – airport security threatened to confiscate them as a “tasty-tax”.

In the name of Easter I also put little mini eggs on the tops of them – although I forgot to take a photo pf the end product L

IMG_1842I also made Easter nest cakes – i.e. chocolate covered shredded wheat with mini eggs in the centre.

They went down a treat and I raised almost $50!

I tried making these with shredded wheat to give a better nest-like texture, as opposed to other cereals like corn flakes you see other people using.

IMG_1844May

This month I made one of my favourites – “Everything Bars” which I found on a blog that I’ve been following for several years…

This is technically not a new recipe so I guess it’s kind of cheating, but I had only made s tiny test batch before and made a huge tray this time.

Essentially they have everything you could want out of a sweet treat bar… salty, sweet, hard, chewy.

Everyone at work loved these – although I had to stop eating them all myself.

Seriously give them a go! I’m just a bit nervous when I make caramel as I am SO accident prone and sugar gives the worst burns –but I got it perfected!

IMG_2157

I also tried making chocolate mud mug cakes with Sam. This involves mixing flour, oil, sugar, cocoa and milk and microwaving.

We tried various lengths of time, but it they still came out too dry, even with ice cream. But they were quite fun none the less.

IMG_2198June

I’ve definitely been cooking a lot more recently but seen as it’s the start of the month I have yet to try anything new…

Therefore, June cooking will star in July’s post – which will be rather better organised than this one! :-O

This month I am thankful for…

April

My colleague Sam… for generally lightening the mood, having a good chat, tea appreciation skills, sending me endless silly gifs and feeding me chocolate (#thanksbutnotthanks).

And also – this is a big one…. Letting me come over to watch new episodes of Game of Thrones on his big TV….

Sam has also been my biggest sponsor to date for the Kokoda challenge – paying $7 for a cupcake and another $50 donation!

Cheers Sam…

INSERT PICTURE

May

This month I am thankful to my old roomie and one of my besties Meghan. I always love catching up with Meghan, even though it doesn’t happen often enough and I sure miss her experimental cooking. I used to love going to home to see about a dozen new recipes on the go all at once – meaning I didn’t need to cook J

I think we’re two people that are able to communicate on a really open level and provide the right support and inspiration for one another.

I never feel like there’s something I can’t say, good or bad and we always have so much fun.

Meghan is always into something new, whether it’s new recipes or places to hang out, networking, doing all of the Stadium stomps around the entire of Australia (deranged) it’s always so exciting and motivating to hear about.

To my ultimate foodie friend, you always inspire me and lift me up. I love you and am so proud and excited that you’ve got such an awesome shiny new job and new adventures on the horizon.

IMG_2092June

Having used my thankfulness up on people over the last 2 month’s I’m going to get materialistic and get thankful for stuff… Namely cheap flat pack stuff!

I have been working really hard to transform my apartment into somewhere that feels like a home rather than living out of boxes (I had a mass clear out of any furniture associated with my old life when I moved). Despite working silly hours and constantly being away from home I haven’t had a heap of spare cash and so I am thankful to IKEA for yet again providing me with a way to make my house (well unit) a home.

IMG_2126I’ve gone a bit mad with the homes wares over the last month as it had started to get to me feeling like I was living in limbo… And this month I can say it’s finished J. Or least I have all the furniture I need and have unpacked all the boxes…

Although that did leave 1 more thing to sort out, which is rather special and will be revealed another month when’s it’s finished… intrigued? You so should be…

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