a day in the rocks

Even though it's right on my doorstep, I tend to avoid the area around Circular Quay and the Rocks at all costs. After all, it's expensive, it's tourist central and I swear, the seagulls are way more fearless than your usual kind! No matter how much I complain though, it's always nice to explore your own city every once in awhile. The other day I found myself in the area and made a day of it, which was surprisingly fun. I guess it doesn't hurt that the view isn't too shabby either, huh?



      

Luckily it happened to be a Friday, so we got to try out the food markets that are on every week. I went for the pork roll with coleslaw, apple sauce, gravy, and of course, that crackling to top it all off! It was really nice to kick back and enjoy the fresh air for a change.







I rarely visit the MCA since I never pass by the area, but since most exhibitions are free anyway we decided to pay a visit.





Mesmerising flashing lights that I could've watched all day. It's probably hard to tell from the picture, but the light bulbs were inside seemingly ordinary plastic boxes.







My personal favourite, an elaborate tent-like structure that you could actually walk through! It totally brought back my childhood goals of owning a blanket fort. Actually I take that back, I'm still waiting on one to this day...







You know when you finally get a good photo of yourself and use it for everything? This'll probably be my profile picture for the next three years or so. Anyway, I think a few of these installations ended just after I went, so I'll definitely have to revisit soon!
Posted by : Mani

strawberry chocolate cake

I have to admit, I've always wanted an excuse to make a grand ol' birthday cake. I'm a bit obsessed with looking at super elaborate cake creations online, but being able to recreate them is a totally different story! In the meantime, this is my go-to cake for birthdays, or any event that calls for celebration really. While it may be on the simple side, it's chocolatey, decadent, and involves strawberries and cream, one of my favourite combinations in the world. Not to mention, it's a total crowd-pleaser every time. Read on for the recipe!



     

Recipe adapted from Taste:
Ingredients:
Cooking spray
½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup boiling water
125g butter, room temperature
1¼ cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
¼ cup plain flour
600mL heavy cream
½ cup icing sugar
Fresh strawberries, chopped
1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Spray a deep 22cm round cake pan with the cooking spray, and then line the base with non-stick baking paper.

2. Sift your cocoa powder into a bowl. Gradually add the water, stirring to form a smooth, thick paste. Set aside.

3. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla essence in a medium mixing bowl for 1-2 minutes or until pale. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure everything's well combined.

4. Sift together the flours. In two batches each, spoon the flour into the butter mixture and alternate with the cocoa mixture. Mix until well combined, then spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan and smooth the surface with the back of the spoon.

5. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Stand for 3 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

6. Using electric beaters, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. When it's almost finished, add the icing sugar and mix until well combined.

7. Using a sharp knife, cut the cake in half horizontally. Spread the cut layer of each cake with whipped cream, then liberally cover with cut strawberries and extra. Sandwich the cake together, then ice everything with the remaining whipped cream. If you like, use a piping bag to add dollops of cream around the edges. Decorate with strawberries and icing sugar.
   

I don't know what it is, but this cake even has the fussiest of eaters coming back for more. My family pretty much polished it off on both occasions when I made it, and thank goodness for that! It's so huge that I'd never be able to finish it on my own. Anyway, happy baking!
Posted by : Mani

lake macquarie



Even though I love to complain about how boring New South Wales is, it couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, there are actually so many things to do as long as you're creative, and willing to step outside your comfort zone! Just recently I went up the coast to the Lake Macquarie area, which I've never visited despite it being less than two hours from Sydney. Still, that short trip away felt like a world of difference to me. Everyone we came across was just so relaxed and happy to strike up a conversation. Not to mention, there was no shortage of gorgeous views to take in.





With no plans set in stone we ended up spending half a day at Catherine Hill Bay, an awesome little beach with the bluest water I'd ever seen. We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves, which was right up my alley! I hate crowds with a passion, so that usually deters me from going to the beach more often in Sydney.







While the wharf itself was blocked off there were a lot of rock formations and old industrial structures around, which were fun to explore.





      





This was Caves Beach, another popular spot with a lot of small caves along the shore (no surprises there). Apparently this particular cave looks really impressive at sunrise, but you have to check the tides to make sure it's not full of water when you go!





Some pictures of the sunrise over Lake Macquarie on our last day. Anyway, even though it's been days now I'm currently recovering from a painful sunburn for the first time in my life. That'll teach me to apply more sunscreen next time, but apart from that I have no regrets! It's amazing how much a change of scenery can leave you feeling refreshed, not to mention more appreciative of the place you call home.
Posted by : Mani

favourite thrift finds

It's no secret that I'm obsessed with thrifting. In fact, it's safe to say that I come from a family of well-seasoned thrifters – my grandma is a regular at her local op shop, and forever adding to her already huge collection of clothes! While I don't condone hoarding, there's definitely something addicting about the thrill of finding something you love at a bargain price. Anyway, here are some of my favourite thrift finds I've amassed over the years:





Striped t-shirt: In my eyes, there are only two kinds of people – those who don't wear striped t-shirts, or those collect them by the bucketload. I definitely fall into the latter category... Striped tees are just so easy to throw on, and pretty much go with everything in my closet! This one's oversized and has a sturdy fabric, which is a refreshing change from the super-thin t-shirts I tend to see in the shops nowadays. I'm also loving the navy, which has slowly been taking over my monochrome wardrobe...



Denim jacket: I'll have to be honest, this jacket sat in my closet for a long time after I bought it. It's originally from the men's section and super roomy, but one day it just clicked and I haven't stopped wearing it since! I love that the fit's perfectly oversized, with just the right amount of heaviness to take me through all four seasons.

      

Striped midi skirt: While I usually go for miniskirts, this midi skirt is slowly becoming one of my go-to pieces. The print kind of reminds me of a barber's pole, and since it's monochrome it goes with most of the tops I own already. Oh, and did I mention that it has actual functioning pockets?! I'm not usually fussy, but that was a total dealbreaker for me.



Vintage print dress: I wore this dress in an outfit post awhile ago, but I'm still very much obsessed with it! It's rare that something from the thrift store fits me so well, so I obviously couldn't leave it behind. Even though I rarely wear prints I also thought this one was super cute, and something that will stand the test of time.



Sportscraft wool jacket: To be honest, I could've dedicated a whole post to my love for this jacket. It just may be my favourite item in my whole closet, and to top it all off it was the insane price of $20! Even though I don't tend to wear brown, this coat is so great for making any old outfit look polished. Now I just can't wait for colder days, just so I get the chance to wear it again...

There are sooo many things I could've included on this list, but left out for time's sake! Anyway, is anyone else out there an avid fan of thrifting? If you are, I'm dying to know – what's the best thrift find you've ever come across? Until next time!
Posted by : Mani