Happy Halloween!

It actually really sucks that this isn’t a big thing in Australia, because I really love the idea behind it…

Anyway, this year, my best friend E and her housemates threw a Halloween shindig and because she’s the most incredibly talented individual I know, she painted our faces and transformed us into this amazingness, which meant we could double up and celebrate the Day of the Dead at the same time!

Hope everyone who does celebrate this holiday properly has a great weekend!!

IMG_3983.JPG

IMG_3986.JPG

IMG_3984.JPG

IMG_3985.JPG

The Rose St. Artists’ Market, Melbourne

The Rose St. Artists’ Market, Fitzroy, Melbourne
http://www.rosestmarket.com.au/

IMG_3409.JPG

Celebrating it’s 10th birthday this year, The Rose St. Artists’ Market is a Fitzroy institution, as is the slightly eccentric, bearded, black leather clad gentleman who stands on the corner of Brunswick and Rose Streets directing foot traffic the right direction. If you haven’t been before and aren’t familiar with this guy, don’t be put off by first impressions – he’s really lovely!

IMG_3433.JPG

Anyway, the market is fantastic, and because it’s open every weekend (both Saturday and Sunday, 11am – 5pm), I stop in every time I’m in the area, which is pretty regularly! What started back in 2003 is now an iconic hub for some of Melbourne’s best creative talent, and one of the best places in the city to support local talent by purchasing one-of-a-kind pieces. Everything from clothing and baby accessories, jewellery to homewares, trinkets to art work – it’s all there!

IMG_3432.JPG

Another great thing about this market is that the people selling the goods are the people who are actually making them, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet and speak to some seriously talented craftsmen and women.

IMG_3413.JPG

This is my favourite small, local market in Melbourne – the talent is truly phenomenal, and I’ve purchased so many amazing pieces from the Rose St. Market. If you haven’t been in a while, it’s definitely time to get reacquainted, and if you’ve never been before, this weekend might be a good time to make a visit!

Cook this: Oktoberfest Black Forest Cookies

IMG_3781

So, in my books, it’s not a party without dessert. I don’t care how much food has been consumed already, I don’t care if I am literally bursting at the seems and suddenly appear to be 6 months pregnant. Dessert happens. In preparation for Oktoberfest, I sat down and flicked through a few travel and food books for some inspiration. I noticed the two desserts that kept popping up when I read about Germany were the apple strudel and the Black Forest cake. I vetoed the strudel because, quite frankly, it’s not really what you want when you’re having a few drinks. You need something hand held, easy to snack on, still delicious. So I decided to turn the traditional Black Forest cake into a cookie. Why not?!

Ok, so it wasn’t a super accurate representation – I decided to skip the cream, because heavy dairy consumption with alcohol isn’t a good idea. The cookies themselves came out deliciously – soft and chewy cookies, very rich, the only change I’d probably make next time would be to use kirsch-soaked cherries instead of regular glacé cherries. Otherwise, absolutely no complaints!

To make a batch of around 24 cookies you’ll need..
– 165g butter, softened
– 200g brown sugar
– 1 egg & 1 egg yolk
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 210g plain flour
– 50g cocoa powder
– 1½ tsp baking soda
– 180g dark chocolate, melted
– 150g dark chocolate chips
– 150g glacé cherries, halved

And then:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line 2 oven trays with baking paper.

2. Cream with butter and sugar with an electric beater for 5 minutes (yes, an actual, full 5 minutes).

3. Add in the eggs and vanilla, beat for another 3 minutes.

4. Sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder and stir until is starts to combine – then pour in the melted chocolate and stir well until completely combined.

5. Mix in the chocolate chips and cherries.

IMG_3768.JPG

6. Sizing is up to you – I took ice cream scoop-sized scoops of dough and they came out a pretty good size (remember they’re going to expand to around twice their initial size). You’re also probably going to need to bake them in batches – 2 oven trays will accommodate around half the cookie dough.

7. Bake for 12 minutes – you’re aiming for cracks to form on top.

8. Cool for 5-10min on tray before moving to cooling rack.

IMG_3777.JPG

My interview with Luke @ Anti Travel Guides!

Have you guys heard about Anti Travel Guides blog yet? It’s the new project from Luke, the guy that brought us The Backstreet Nomad, where he’s getting away from all the standard tourist stuff and into the hidden gems that take a bit of exploring to discover. The stuff that the locals love about their cities, the things that you need to see after you’ve done all the Eiffel Tower/Central Park/Colosseum/Hollywood Sign business.

Anyway, I had the wonderful honour of being his first interviewee – check out our interview here :)

And if you have some amazing secrets and stories to tell, contact Luke at luke@antitravelguides.com

Read this: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou

IMG_3390.JPG

Like probably a lot of other young women of my generation, I was familiar with the name Maya Angelou. I knew she was a revolutionary lady, I knew she wrote beautifully, spoke eloquently, and inspired a race, a generation, a gender. But, admittedly, I didn’t know much about her story until she sadly passed away earlier this year. A quote I remember being attributed to her that has stuck in my mind ever since that day is “if you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

I finally read her book “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings;” I wasn’t sure how or even if I’d relate to the story of a sweet young Negro girl growing up under the strict hand of her grandmother in Arkansas after having been abandoned, along with her brother, by their parents back in the 1930s. Her story starts when she and her brother are sent off by train to stay with their paternal grandmother when she was only three years old, and ends when she unexpectedly becomes a mother at the age of only 16; right from the very first page, she had me hooked. She had me, utterly and completely under her spell.

I was surprised to draw some unexpected parallels to my life from Maya’s story, mostly in the fact that she was a quiet and withdrawn child, who found her solace and spirit in reading book after book after book; I did, too. I also related to her tender-heartedness, not understanding why it was so that some people had and others had not, not understanding why people had so much hatred and contempt, not understanding the reasoning behind racism, or why one “race” should be “better” than any other. Are we not all people?

The journey I took with Maya through the 1930s and 40s across America, in times where racism and segregation were incredibly real, was a confronting and heart breaking one. I got some strange looks while I read on the train to and from work each day, finding myself smiling, frowning, gasping and shaking my head throughout the book. It’s really hard not to; the way she writes can’t not draw out an emotional response from you.

It was crystal clear to me that Maya was a special lady right from her first day. Despite the numerous, soul shaking and horrific hardships she faced, she really never wavered. She remained strong, proud, determined, curious, good, kind. She worked hard for everything, she educated herself when she didn’t know, and didn’t show off what she did. I thought class, humility, genuine honesty and dignity shone through on every single page, and that’s what kept me turning the pages so quickly – I expected to take a while to read it, but I was done within 5 short days of commute and lunch time reading.

I’m going to stop here, because, honestly, nothing I write about this book could possibly do it justice. It’s one of those stories that you notice your soul shifting whilst reading, and you should start reading it soon if you haven’t already. Get a copy right here or at your closest bookshop.