Thursday, 31 October 2013

Tasty tasty Taste {Taste Restaurant at Rutherglen}

In Rutherglen for the weekend and where to go for a special dinner? There are a few options in this little foodie orientated town but there was something about 'Taste' that caught my eye when I was researching a month ago. Open during the day for breakfast and lunch, it is a bright functional space that transitions from casual brunch to fine-dining dinner.

They do an $80 five-course degustation ($50 for matching wines) so our decision was easy. The wine list is largely local so it is a nice opportunity to try some Rutherglen wines at the same time.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Must Love Dogs (or else:)

I don't have many holidays. Because most of the work I do is casual, holidays mean reduced or no income. Then when I do take holidays it is usually a whirlwind of catching up with friends and family in Brisbane. I tend to always take a little break around September/October because I am feeling stir-crazy and need fortification to survive pre-Christmas retail. The thought of leaving Ted so soon (he has only been with us for 6 months) was a bit daunting so I started researching dog friendly accommodation and found:

Must Love Dogs Bed and Breakfast in Rutherglen.

The things I look for in holiday accommodation are:
Cosy set-up
Near restaurants (preferably walking distance)
Near winerys

This place ticked all the boxes.

I was a bit anxious about taking a dog on holiday- what if he got out and ran away or got hit by a car or got distressed? The reviews on Trip Advisor were overwhelmingly positive so I figured this would be the best place for a first try. It has set the bar remarkably high.

Ted looks like he is having a good time, he isn't, he doesn't like the car much although he did get used to it better than he does on short trips.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Ted's Outdoor Renos

"Do you need some excavation work done? How about pruning? What about remodeling your deck or outdoor furniture? Call Ted's Outdoor Renos for your complete service."

Ted seems to have hit his challenging 'teenage years' and in the last 2 months has shredded an olive tree (we had had since before he arrived), dug up and shredded a new decorative plant the Bookworm was very proud of, derooted a lemon tree and remodeled his kennel for Summer (open-plan living is all the rage). This is in addition to his usual consumption of hard-core chew toys- the type that are supposed to last him months and are lucky to make it through 3 weeks.

The decorative plant was Ted's first casualty, other than eating the herb garden which we kinda understood (who doesn't like fresh basil?), he hadn't really caused any major damage to our property before. Sure, he had eaten the edges of the hessian mat in his trampoline bed (I figured he just preferred to sleep on the floor) and many a chew-toy had met a premature end (30 minutes was all it took with a supposedly super-tough extra durable alien toy). Back to the plant, it was a Cordyline, a Cabernet Cordyline, a pretty dark red grassy looking thing. The Bookworm had selected it for my love of wine and the fact that his parents had them planted and their previous dogs had been fine with them.

The Cordyline had been with us for maybe 4 days when Ted had a day home alone. Despite 2 slow-release treat balls, a frozen meat-stuffed Kong (for heavy chewers) and the usual detritus of chewed towels and bits of sticks (games from another day), he ripped up the plant and (I imagine) shredded it with glee, tossing the bits into the air and then rolling in his kill. I received a call at work at about 4pm with the news. A quick google search revealed Cordylines to be toxic to dogs, causing gastric irritation, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Mister (VERY) Nice Guy's

I have a new man in my life. He is sweet, vegan, cares for animals, donates to animal welfare organisations, supports fair-trade where possible and is delicious. Wait, you know I'm talking about cupcakes right?

Mister Nice Guy's cupcakes have been hovering around my periphery for a long time- there is a stall at the Prahran Market (where I work sometimes) and they are sold in a bunch of cafes around Melbourne. There is a full listing on their super cute and very informative website (don't you just hate a website without much info? This one has pictures, descriptions, back story, the lot). But I had not tried them until recently for two (good?) reasons: cupcakes are rarely as good as they look (plus "vegan cupcakes? cupcakes need eggs and butter right?") and so far I had been able to talk myself out of the calories.

On World Animal Day (see here) they participated in the Edgar's Mission Vegan bakesale which is terribly worthy, so to support Edgar's Mission I tried a cupcake- Tiramisu. A-MA-ZING. Fortunately (or unfortunately for the willpower) their store is pretty close by.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

These are a few of my fa-vour-ite things {October 2013}

"The Sound of Music" was one of my favourite films as a child. I wanted to grow up to be Liesel. Sadly, my hair is red and I didn't reach her height, and I can't sing so well. But I have always loved the song "My Favourite Things", well, all the songs really, but a serious of blog posts about a lonely goatherd (unless I actually knew one and wanted to find a home for some goats) seems less entertaining. I got the idea of a little life summary post from one of my favourite blogs, the very elegant Time After Tea
So, here are a few of my favourite things at the moment:

Afternoon Walks with Ted
I generally enjoy Ted-time but having to squeeze in a walk before or after work, sometimes in the dark, is less exciting. Now that daylight saving has started, we can go for long walks in the afternoon with the last of the lovely warm sunshine.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

World Animal Day

October 4 is World Animal Day, started in 1931 as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. Over time it has evolved into a day that celebrates all animals and in a wonderful turn of events, this year it was celebrated in Melbourne in the middle of the CBD at Federation Square, which allowed for a whole lot more attendance and exposure than ever before. Pigs in Fed Square- oh yeah!

Edgar's Mission is the amazing not for profit rescue group behind Melbourne's World Animal Day celebration. These guys are remarkable in that they provide sanctuary for farm animals. You see, 'food' or 'production' animals lie outside of the animal protection legislation (and you already know my feelings on the state of our animal protection legislation), so these critters are basically doomed unless they somehow stumble upon Edgar's Mission. EM rehabilitate everything they can get their hands on from battery farm chickens to stray pigs. Spend some time checking out their webpage

As part of the celebrations, local rescue and animal welfare groups were invited to set up a stall to help raise awareness about the issues facing them and what people can do to help. I tagged along with the Magic Paws team and got to wear this fabulous t-shirt.
Yep, I just put a close-up of my boobies on the internet- Hi Mum.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Baking from Blogs on a Budget {Part 2}

From American sliders to Scottish/Irish sliders a.k.a. ice cream sandwiches. If this makes no sense you need to read Part 1

The Bookworm, coming from Scottish stock was rather offended at my use of the term when serving up the first course but he quickly settled down when he saw what was coming.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches!

This recipe comes from my absolute favourite cooking blog A splash of Vanilla , however in the interests of sticking to a budget I had to modify it slightly. Emma made these when she was road-testing a gourmet vanilla salt which sounds amazing but hard-to-find and expensive. I used a Himalayan pink salt, which is not cheap either but more versatile for the investment. I also added dark choc chips because salted caramel and chocolate is unbeatable. I did a couple of things a little differently (because I always do) which I will describe here but she is the Queen so you should probably just click on the link to her page:)

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Baking from Blogs on a Budget {Part 1} and Sparkling Rosé

I have been feeling a bit down lately. I work too much and seem to fill my spare time with housework, doing things for other people (which is awesome but not relaxing), wasting time on Facebook and attempting to study for a wine exam I meant to sit 12 months ago. Plus I have had an insane number of bills (Ted broke a glass door to name one) so I am having to live very frugally too, which I hate. I needed a day off that was relaxing but also achieving something so I decided to not plan too much for once and do a spot of baking.

I love reading The Londoner, a fashion, food and lifestyle blog from an impossibly perfect girl with a unbelievably perfect life. It doesn't necessarily make me feel better about my chaotic, overworked, largely unsatisfying (at the moment) life but it is kind of like reading a fairytale and I was always a huge fan of fairytales. And when I swing on back from that tangent, the point of all that was- she cooks up some great stuff. I tried making her Carb-free Carnitas but couldn't get chipotle paste locally and had to do a bit of supplementing. The result was great though, and making pulled pork at home is so cheap (about $10 for around a kg of meat) that I had to give it another go, a higher carb version. Introducing:

Pulled Pork Potato Sliders with Apple Fennel Coleslaw