Friday, 28 March 2014

Liebster Award!

A massive thank you to the lovely Veronique and Mike at Black Blue Green (and a touch of pink) for nominating me for a Liebster Award!



It is really lovely to receive a shout out like this, it almost feels like a virtual hug. The blogosphere can feel like such a supportive community sometimes.

Basically, a Liebster Award is a virtual chain award where bloggers nominate incredible blogs they feel are worth knowing about. It is a great way to put the spotlight on some smaller more local writers who are doing wonderful and inspiring things out there in this rather large world wide web.
A really great way to get to know some new blogs too.

The idea is that I have to answer 11 questions given to me by Black Blue Green before nominating 5-11 of my favourite up and coming blogs and providing them with 11 questions of my own. Simple right?

So here we go...

1. When did you start travelling? 

I had always traveled with my family as a child. Nothing too out-there, always relatively locally and within Australia, you know camping holidays or exploring over east. My first memory of travel is of a trip I took with my family when I was 4. My parents were brave enough to take the 3 of us (all under the age of 4!) on a 3 month trip part way around Australia by car and train. Brave right? It was such a wonderful trip, what I can remember of it anyway, and I have always dreamed of us retracing our steps.

But my true travel obsession started when I was given the opportunity to visit Italy for a violin convention in 2006. I spent 4 wonderful weeks through France and Italy with my mum, met one of my dearest friends and left completely inspired. This was really the catalyst of my world expeditions! (read more here...) 


2. Do you keep notes in a diary or do you blog right away on the computer?

My blog is quite new and although I have written a lot about my travels, I am yet to blog during one of my trips! I have quite a few adventures planned for this year however, so I shall have to keep you posted on my blogging system.

3. What is your favourite local dish?

Oh gosh where to begin! I have had great local food in so many places, but it is actually really hard for me to nominate a favourite local dish! (Mind you, I have never been good at favourites... ) I have many fond memories of eating great local food on my travels. Like eating Kartoffelpuffer (a kind of like potato pancakes) with mulled wine whilst shivering at the Weihnachtsmarkt in Ingolstadt, Germany... or the incredibly fresh, local produce at the Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye in Scotland... what about cooking my own local French recipes in Paris... or traveling on a bus for hours simply to eat the world renowned suckling pig in Segovia, Spain?

Does any of that count?


4. What is it you like most about blogging?

I love that blogging creates a space for you to share your stories with the people that really want to read them and want to tell you their stories in return. It is a such a lovely way to meet people across the globe, to share experiences giving each other tips and tricks with how to tackle so many aspects of life.

I feel like everyone has something special to offer in their lives. There are so many incredible people out there doing amazing things and I find that blogging can opens your eyes a little more to what the world has to offer.

5. Where did you meet the nicest locals?

As a classical musician I am always very fortunate to put myself in positions where I get to meet and work with incredible locals all over the world. I have very dear friends in so many countries as a result. Last year however, I visited Lake Garda in Italy for some master classes and I would have to say that this was I met the nicest locals, simply as it was unexpected to feel so welcome!!!


6. What is your favourite means of transport?

I am a complete sucker for train travel!
There is something quite romantic about gazing out the window with a great book as you roll across the countryside.

7. What is your main advice to starting travel bloggers?

If you are thinking of starting, my advice would be to just do it! Why not give it a go? There is nothing out there to stop you and unless you try you wont know if it is for you or not.

Otherwise the best advice I can give is to simply write for yourself, write what you would want to read and for no one else. That way it will come across as genuine and as you!

8. Which country are you visiting next?

I had plans to visit Singapore in April, but they are looking a little shaky at the moment. Otherwise the next country this year would probably be England as I will be heading to Europe for another 3 months come July! I am already excited!


9. What is the longest time you have been away from your hometown?

The longest time is 3 months. But I have done that a couple of times now :)

10. What is your favourite occupancy for long bus rides?

I don't do a lot of bus rides, mostly because I prefer train travel.... But, busses are way cheaper. I also tend to get motion sick on busses if I do anything other than gaze out of a window... But that is fine.

I think a great travel buddy would be the best way to tackle a long bus ride!


11. Name one thing every hostel/hotel should provide to offer a good experience.

As sad as it may sound, I would probably say tea and coffee making facilities!
Sometimes I don't want to have to go down to a local cafe and spend "x" amounts on a tea, sometimes I would much rather just sit in the hotel room and have a cuppa by myself.
That and friendly informative staff. There isn't much worse than asking staff a question they don't know the answer to.



Thanks again to the Black Blue Green for nominating me! If you are after some wonderful travel tips or a chance to see some beautiful photos I recommend checking them out.

Now it is my turn!
Here is my list of nominations - a couple of smaller blogs that I love to read and think you should to.

Thi - Lonely City Perth
Sara - Bristol in My Pocket
Robyn - So Much World, Not Enough Time 
Allie - Call Me Sassafras 
Katherine - Travel The World 
Beth - The British Girl 

And here are my 11 questions for you:

1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What inspires you to write?
3. Where did the travel bug bite?
4. What is your "must have" item?
5. Do you have a dream "dinner party" guest list?
6. If you could be anywhere right now where would it be?
7. Do you have a mantra you try to live by?
8. What is one of your favourite childhood memories?
9. What is something you have learned recently?
10. What makes you happy?
11. Is there something that you have achieved that you never thought you would?

Enjoy!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Red Velvet Cupcakes!

If there was one cake that was "In Vogue" right now it would have to be Red Velvet right?
With it's decadent base, enticing colour and scrumptious cream cheese frosting it really does have everything going for it.


On Sunday it was time to dust off the MPQ apron and whip um some scrumptious treats to enjoy in the park with some dear friends. We had a birthday to celebrate!


Sunday marked Mill Point Quartet's 2nd birthday! We set up in our local park and held a free concert to thank everyone for their kind support over the past couple of years. And well, what is a birthday without cake right?

I owe these guys so much. Playing with Mill Point Quartet has been such a wonderful experience and in many ways possibly the best thing that has formed in my life over the past few years. To be able to play exquisite music with your closest friends throughout the year is truly magical and I honestly don't know what I would do without these people. Happy Birthday guys!

Anyway... let's get back to why we are really here - cake!


Red Velvet Cup Cakes

Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius. 

Using an electric mixer (or your stand mixer) beat together 1 1/2 cups of caster sugar, 120g of soft unsalted butter and a teaspoon of vanilla bean past. Once light and creamy beat in 2 large eggs, one at a time. 

In a separate bowl sift together 2 cups of plain flour, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. 
In a different bowl combine 1cup of buttermilk and roughly 1.5 tablespoons of red food colouring. 

Pour half of your flour and half the buttermilk mixture into your beaten eggs and sugar. Mix well before beating in the remaining ingredients. 

Divide batter evenly amongst your cupcake holders or lined muffin trays and pop into the oven to bake for 30-35mins. 



Whilst your cupcakes are cooling completely it is time to put together your delicious icing mix!

With your mixer of choice, simply beat together 250g soft cream cheese, 70g soft unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste, the zest of 1 lemon and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Once creamy, add roughly 2 cups of icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy. 


You may need to add more icing sugar or a little water to get the icing to your desired consistency. 
Decorate to your harts content and serve to some of your favourite people! 

Enjoy! 



Ingredient List:
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
120g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
2 large eggs
2 cups plain flour
1/4 cups cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tbsp red food colouring

Icing:
250g cream cheese
70g unsalted butter
1tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups icing sugar (roughly) 


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Sculpture By The Sea

Every March the iconic Cottelsoe beach is transformed into a giant sculpture park overlooking the Indian Ocean. Over 70 artists, both local and international, exhibit their works on the sand as part of Sculpture By The Sea, one of my favourite art exhibitions of the year. 


On Friday night I joined a dear friend for a perfect evening in Cottelsoe. With the backdrop of yet another spectacular Perth sunset, and the soundtrack of crashing waves we spent the evening digging our toes into the sand as we took in each piece before walking across the road to Il Lido for a scrumptious Italian feast. As I didn't take any photos that night I decided to take advantage of todays glorious weather and hit to the beach for a morning stroll, camera in hand! 


Cottesloe Beach is always bustling with life, but it really takes off in March. The art becomes a colourful playground for young and old as everyone runs around, through and under these impressive installations (without climbing all over them of course!). Even the weekly "Nippers" programs (Kids surf life saving classes) are training and competing between art installations and the busy nattering public. 


It is such a great way to showcase some incredible local and international talent, bringing art out of the galleries and into public spaces. This is Sculpture By The Sea's tenth exhibition and have no doubt it will continue to flourish over many more years.

If you are in Perth and you haven't gone to see it yet please do! You only have one more week as the exhibition runs until the 24th of March.
Otherwise please enjoy a snapshot below :) 

Red Centre - Carl Billingsley USA 

Signature - Johannes Pannekoek WA

Windsong - Barclay Bailey WA


Rescheduling Permanence - Helen Seiver WA

Insectopia - Maria Hildrick WA
Life Reflection XX #1 - Byung-Chul Ahn, South Korea 
Gift of the Rhinoceros - Mikaela Castledine WA
Overconsumption - Kerrie Argent WA

Southern Passage -Tony Jones WA


150 Surfboard Graveyard - Cottesloe - Chris Anderson NSW

Wave 1 - Annette Thas WA 
 
Permanent Sunset - Alejandro Propato, Argentina 



Ocean Cathedral - Debbie Harding, England
A to B - Francesca Mataraga NSW
Embrace - Ayad Alqaragholli WA 
Like a flower swaying in the wind - Hiroyuki Kita, Japan
Once Removed - Robert Barnstone NSW

There's many a slip 'Twixt the cup and the lip - Ken Unsworth AM, NSW


Which was your favourite?

All Photos By Alix Hamilton

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Planning for Singapore


Today my morning off consists of tea, pancakes (the innocent type made from juts one banana, an egg and a pinch of cinnamon. So yummy and healthy!!!) and holiday planning! 


Singapore: Photo courtesy of www.mandarinoriental.com 

It is so nice to see my year is taking shape. Projects and events are being scheduled, and I can finally think about planning a couple of overseas adventures. On Sunday my long term best friend, Claire, and myself met for a spot of tea, cake and gossip about where our next girls getaway should be. 



5 years ago we went to the bustling metropolis of Singapore for a short break and lots of shopping. After looking at all of our options we came to the conclusion that it was about time we did it again. 

Let's face it, a few nights away in this ever changing city with the aim to fit in as much food, walking, and shopping as humanly possible with your gal pal sounds pretty good to me! 
I am always up for exploring a city's hidden treasures. 



It also may be time
to stock up on shoes! 


Holiday planning is possibly my favourite pass times, so naturally I 
have spent the last couple of days glued to my computer researching 
like mad to find the best flight and hotel deals, as well as finding the 
most interesting places to eat, drink and be merry. But, I am always 
up for advice and would love to hear your Singapore travel stories! 
We would love your thoughts so send us your Singapore tips and
tricks below :) 


Where is your ultimate girls getaway?