A quick little salad that is ready in no time, and is tasty, fresh and good for you! I (only slightly) adapted this from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Veg Everyday, adding some toasted cashews and leaving my cucumber unpeeled. As an afterthought, you could also add some sliced chilli and a squeeze of lime juice. Delicious!
With some steamed and herby potatoes, it was a lovely lovely lunch.
MARINATED CUCUMBER AND MINT SALAD
- 1 large cucumber
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- A handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
- A pinch of sugar
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 1/3 cup cashew nuts, toasted
Slice the cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Thickly slice into half moons. Combine cucumber with vinegar, oil, mint, and a pinch each of sugar, salt and pepper. Toss. Leave to marinate at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before topping with cashews and serving.
Why hello there!
Just a few cat photos to brighten your Monday.
It’s been exceedingly hot the last week (finally, over the weekend, a cool change has come through, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the showers of rain and cooler weather). The cats’ strategy in hot weather is lazing on the floor for as long as possible.
Nothing, however, stops Lily from a romp outside in the early mornings (because her skin lacks pigment, she gets sunburnt easily, and she is also deaf so can’t be outside without supervision). This is when she loves sniffing sea daisies, and frolicking through the herbs.
We had a massive weekend: visiting my parents who have just returned from a month overseas (jealous!), celebrating birthdays and graduations, and taking big walks. Happy Monday!
P.S. Isn’t Molly ladylike with her paws crossed? So dainty.
Today I have a confession: I’m horrible at being on holidays. I miss the routine of work days, thinking, reading, writing. I become bored quickly, agitated, irritable. A few days of holidays are lovely, and I relish the opportunity to unwind before diving back into work.
But an extended holiday (like the 10 week sojourn of which I’ve only got 3 weeks left) I find difficult. I find I have to set myself up with a few projects: an ambitious reading list, a party to plan, a garden to work on. But sometimes, the hours still seem to stretch out in front of me, and sometimes I struggle to find things to fill them happily.
Patience is what I require – soon enough I’ll be back at work, with a major project underway, and I’ll probably be rosily remembering these halcyon days. I think it’s time to pause for breath and remember everything that’s happened this year, take stock and prepare for the year ahead. December is the strangest of months, I think – it seems that everyone operates at half-speed, half-capacity, eagerly awaiting the end of another year, and the beginning of a new one. Perhaps I’ve got a case of Decemberitis. This space here is definitely help to stay my holiday-induced agitation, and I’m very thankful.
Christmas is coming on quickly now, I can feel the days building to a crescendo of festivity and activity – the anticipation of a busy and exciting time is most certainly tangible. So, I thought I’d share a Christmas wreath made from pinecones I collected over the weekend.
Materials: Pinecones (smaller ones preferably); a wicker wreath (brought from craft store); gold acrylic paint; monofilament clear thread (brought from craft store); 2 m wide ribbon.
Estimated cost: $25 (pinecones free!)
Time: approximately 1 hour active time, 1-2 hours drying time.
- On a piece of newspaper or butcher’s paper, squirt a thick line of gold paint. In a rocking motion, roll the pinecones in the paint, starting at the base and rolling towards the top, working your way around so the end of each scale looks like it has been dipped in paint.
- Allow the paint to dry (approximately 1-2 hours).
- Begin to assemble the wreath by folding the wide ribbon in half, and looping it around the wicker wreath. This is the top of the wreath, and will act as your guide as you decide which pinecones go where. The ribbon also serves to secure your wreath to your door once it’s finished.
- Attach pinecones securely with the monofilament thread, making sure the thread sits snugly down between the scales, so it’s hidden from view.
- Aim for an overlapped, interlocked arrangement of pinecones, which spreads out from the bottom and leaves a little room at the top so the ribbon is still visible.
- Once all the pinecones are attached, double check if any are loose, and reinforce with more monofilament if necessary.
- Hang and enjoy!
I’m really very please with how this wreath turned out – the natural style, the little speckles of gold, the cherry red ribbon. It’s not perfect, but neither are pinecones. I have a few unpainted pinecones leftover, which I’m thinking of working into a table arrangement somehow.
Have you made a wreath before?
Aren’t oven-dried celery leaves the prettiest things? I think so.
Pretty as they may be, however, it didn’t stop me crushing them up to make equally pretty (and delicious) celery salt.
There were orange and lemon salts too. An easy little trio of salts to give to friends this Christmas. I used Heidi’s recipes – here & here – and didn’t have to change a thing. I piled them into recycled spice bottles, and wrote little labels.
But right now, I’m enjoying them as they decorate my counter-top. And some leftover celery salt sprinkled over my soup at lunchtime was especially good.
Here are a few photos of the Christmas decorations I’ve been putting around the place – a bowl of glittering baubles here, a sledding echidna there.
With an excitable and curious kitten, we decided not to put up our proper Christmas tree this year, instead suspending some willow over one of our bookcases, hanging ornaments from its branches, and placing the presents on top of the bookcase.
The ornaments float and move in the breeze, in a lazy summer-like way. And luckily, the kittens haven’t shown much interest – except for Lily, who occasionally picks up a bauble, out of the bowl, and carries it around. It’s really very charming.
How have you decorated your home this Christmas? I feel like there are a thousand ways to do so, and I’d love to hear some of your ideas.
November in Brisbane, this year, was a steamy affair. It seemed to go for a week without rain, and then we’d have a downpour. Despite the weather, and in a post-thesis glow, I feel like I managed to achieve a wonderful amount in the past month (being on holidays has most certainly helped!), punctuated by numerous French-press coffees, end of semester celebrations, and iced tea. The photos in the post are of our newly rejuvenated garden, which after a few months of neglect is now blooming and growing faster than I can follow. The cats seem to like it too.
Events and other little things:
- A day trip with our friends Liss and Michael through northern New South Wales: Nimbin, Nightcap National Park, Byron Bay and Kingscliff.
- A Sunday afternoon drive with Adam around Mt Tamborine.
- A first class honours.
- A rejuvenated garden.
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. One of the funniest stories I have read – the characters are dark and delightful, and you can’t help but be absorbed by the desperation and humour of their situation.
- The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. A wonderfully written novel – his characters are so well-developed, you feel surrounded by them.
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. Another great novel (there was something in the water this month, clearly). Emma is so knowable, you both love her and despair for her at the same time.
- Persuasion by Jane Austen. Lovely.
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011). Great ensemble cast and wonderfully true to the era.
- Skyfall (2012). Clearly a thing for British spy movies – nevertheless, I enjoyed the latest Bond instalment.
- Quantum of Solace (2008). And again – perhaps not as great a villain, but still good!
- Brave (2012).
- Up (2009).
- Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010). I love a thoroughly conceptual, creatively driven sci-fi, so I really enjoyed this movie.
- Bat For Lashes, The Haunted Man (2012). I’ve really been loving this album – something about the tone of her voice, and the sweeping music.
- I know it’s not technically food, but French-press coffee. Leftovers, over ice, after lunch is a must.
- Homemade iced tea.
And now it’s nearly Christmas – who can believe that it is only three weeks tomorrow – I feel the final few weeks of this year picking me up and pulling me along in their current – family and friends to see and celebrate with, our engagement party (!), and a new year’s trip to Sydney await. It’s exciting, and it’s really hot, but I guess I can deal with that.