Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Christmas Gifts: Five under $25 for foodies

Buying Christmas gifts can be stressful, there's no escaping it. And the less stress we can all be under at this time of year, the better! Over the next few weeks I will be shaing some gift guides that will help you with some ideas that even the hardest nut to crack will enjoy.

The first group is The Foodie. We all have friends who adore their grub and sometimes they can be among the hardest people to buy for, especially when you are on a budget or when you want to buy something small as a thank you. Flowers are always nice, and a box of Lindt balls or bottle of wine usually goes down a treat, but sometimes you just want something MORE. More thought. More effort. MORE.

The Baker: The personalised cookie stamp
This is an awesome idea for those who love making cookies and treats - you can choose your own wording and make personalised biscuits for loved ones, teachers, etc. It's a gift that keeps on giving. Shop at ShopUntil.

The Tea Drinker: A great tea cup
There is no denying that lovers of tea will also be lovers of great china. Everyone loves to drink their favourite brew out of a nice tea cup, and Robert Gordon makes some fabulous well priced options, especially when the budget doesn't stretch to Limoges or Wedgwood! My pick of the bunch are these two options - which you can purchase here and here - both are nicely under budget and very glamorous, perfect for a great Christmas gift. And there is enough cash left over to pop in a box of your favourite tea.

The Chocoholic: let it be said that there is chocolate, and there is Chocolate. The two options I present to you here are the latter - the best of the best. Give someone either of these options from Charbonnel et Walker or Artisan du Chocolat and you are on a sure fire winner. They come beautifully packaged and are absolutely delicious. And if the time frame doesn't allow for the overseas shipping, you can purchase a limited range of Charbonnel et Walker chocolates from David Jones.

The Cheese Fanatic: We all have a friend who loves cheese more than anything. This is the perfect gift for that person. No one makes cheese knives like Laguiole and presenting this gift with an accompanying wedge of soft French cheese will make you an instant gift giving star.

The Coffee Snob: Everyone seems to have passionate feelings about their coffee. If you know what kind of machine your friend has, that makes life a lot easier. Nespresso fiends are easy to buy for - you can just walk into the company stores and ask for a recommendation, but if your host is a true hard core coffee lover (like my husband) then whole beans from a boutique roaster are the way to go. Campos, in my opinion, makes some of the best coffee around and whilst a 500g bag of beans will just break the budget, at $27 it is the perfect gift for a coffee lover.

Do you have any tried and tested gifts for foodies? What are your go to options?


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Miss Kitty Bakes: Afghans cookies

The other day I was going through my cupboard and found a box of cornflakes perilously close to their use by date. I can't remember purchasing them, and as I don't eat cereal, I can only imagine they were purchased for some kind of baking activity. Georgie and I have really been getting our bake on recently. Well, Georgie has been stirring and I have been wiping a lot of flour, cocoa and sugar off the floor...

So when I found the cornflakes, I thought that there was really only one appropriate use for them - afghans! If you haven't ever come across these little morsels of Kiwi goodness, you are in for a treat. They are fudgey and chocolately with a decided crunch from the cornflakes. The recipe for these afghans comes from Ladies, a Plate, by Alexa Johnson, an old style New Zealand baking cookbook filled to the brim with fabulous and easy recipes. Many are toddler friendly (lots of stirring, crumbling, pressing) and all are delicious. If you don't have it I heartily recommend adding it to your collection.

Makes 20-25 medium sized cookies

For the Biscuits
170 g butter
100 g brown sugar
180 g flour
3 tbsp cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
60 g cornflakes

For the Icing
3 tbsp water
45 g caster sugar
45 g butter
190 g icing sugar
3 tbsp cocoa
24–30 walnut halves

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and line two baking trays with baking paper, or grease them lightly with butter. Break up the cornflakes with your hands and soften the butter.

Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the sifted dry ingredients, then knead in the cornflakes. Put in teaspoonfuls on the trays, leaving a little space around each biscuit. Flatten them slightly with a fork and bake for 12–14 minutes. Cool on a rack.

To make the icing, gently heat the water, caster sugar and butter until the butter melts and simmer for one minute to form a syrup. Beating all the time, pour about ¾ of the syrup onto the sifted icing sugar and cocoa. Add the remaining syrup if necessary to make a smooth, fudgy icing. Add a little hot water if it's still too thick.

Put a teaspoonful of warm icing on each biscuit, plant a walnut half on the top of each, sinking it into the icing, and leave to set firmly. Store in an airtight tin. They'll stay fresh for 3–4 days.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cobalt rules

This summer, fashion seems to be all about bright blues. Electric. Cobalt, if you will. So many fashion labels seem to be using it in their Spring/Summer fashion palettes.

This gorgeous dress is from Bohemian Traders. Stunning. I love the lace detail. I have seen it on both iCurvy and StylingYou over the past few weeks and it looks amazing on both of them. The sizing is generous, but for someone who feels better in more tailored options, I worry that the floatiness (which would be amazing in the heat of the summer) would be a bit too muu muu-esque on moi. But as a casual dress, it is perfection.

The Francesca Ponte dress from Boden comes in a couple of different colours but it's the cobalt that really caught my eye. Now, I've been banging on about Boden and their great quality for years and they have finally realised that Australians love their clothing, as it's now easier to shop with them. The Francesca is structured but the gathered waist gives it a bit of a twist. I could see myself wearing this with boots and tights in winter over a shirt and with sandals in summer. I think it's a great trans-seasonal dress. And the best thing? It's on sale!

This Target dress is the bargain buy of the bunch. It comes in a variety of colours, including electric blue. I could see it with a pair of flat sandals and a denim jacket for a Sunday brunch outfit. It looks comfy but the asymmetric hem detail provides a bit of interest.

And for those just looking for a little splash of blue, this Rag and Bone singlet provides just the right hit of cobalt. They also do it in a tee.

And this Saint Laurent bag - SWOON!!!

Will you be partaking of the cobalt frenzy this summer?

K xx

Sunday, November 16, 2014


You know that summer is just a whisper away when peony season starts.

I honestly can't help myself. I know they only last a few days, but the season is so short, I find myself buying as many as I can find. Their beauty is fleeting but it makes me so happy to watch them bloom into ruffly pretty pom poms, before dropping their petals across the table.

What says that it's the start of summer to you?

K xx

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Blazer Lovin.

I have always had a thing for blazers. They dress any outfit up. Take a blazer, a pair of jeans and a crisp white shirt or tank and a pair of flats and you can conquer the world. Or at the very least, the daycare pick up (where I have been known to rock up in trackie pants after a hard day with the pencils, but that is a tale for another lifetime).

Being a curvy lass, I find structured, tailored options work better on my shape. Having said that, I have had a hard time finding blazers that are neither too voluminous (aka the boyfriend look), or too "Hi honey, I just arrived home from my job at the bank". It's slim pickings out there and getting the fit on a blazer is crucial if you don't want to look like a bank teller.

Here are three options that worked for me.

I found this blazer at Uniqlo in New York when we were there in May. It's fab. What works about it is that it's made of a heavyweight jersey (almost old skool tracksuit material) which has a good shape but means it moulds to your  curves. It's also easy to wash and wear (no dry clean! YAY!). It's almost a cross between a blazer and a cardigan. Full marks. And you can now buy it from Uniqlo in Australia. It comes in a great range of colours and textures and it's a great bargain buy.

I am a fan of Pepperberry from way back. They make clothes that are more generous in the bust to allow for those of us with ample cleavage. This blazer runs close to the "Commbank employee style" of blazer but with the right styling, it really does work. I have the same blazer in Navy from last year, but alas it's a smidge too big in the shoulders (which is highly annoying). I like the navy colour better than the black (which is a big statement from me), but the black makes a very good crossover blazer when you have to attend an interview or more formal occasion. The fact that it's made from Ponte material means creases drop out easily and the fabric is easy to care for. If you only have room for one blazer in your wardrobe, I would say this is it.

I have never purchased anything from City Chic before, but I was in there on the hunt for a peplum top (to cover the food baby!) and I stumbled on this jacket. I had seen it on Spijkerkat's Closet here and really liked it on her but didn't think it would work on me, given I am tall and prefer my blazers longer to balance my short waist. But it does work. It nips in at the waist, giving me more of an illusion of an hourglass shape. The hook closure in the front and the tuxedo lapels make it a little more on the formal side at first glance, but it just means that this baby can pull double duty as a casual piece that also works on a corporate level. I do need to layer longer to pull this one off, but it's a flattering and comfy piece that is getting a lot of wear around here. I bought it in an XS which is a generous 14.

Do you have a favourite Blazer style? Are you more boyfriend style or Ralph Lauren Preppy? Tell me EVERYTHING!

K xx

Friday, November 14, 2014

All about the stripes.

Once upon a time I gave up buying clothes.

The End.

Now, we all know that's clearly not true. It can't ever be the end. I gave up buying things for a while and then - slowly but surely - I have started purchasing again. It's not like I have loads of space (I don't have any, to be honest!). I don't really NEED much (do any of us?) but the thrill of finding something lovely and then wearing it for the first time cannot be denied.

I am trying to limit myself to things I either very much need (in the broader sense of the definitition) to round out my wardrobe, things that are very cheap, and "investment pieces" (things that are expensive but that I can justify because they are absolute workhorses of the wardrobe).

I have been wanting to add some nautical stripes to my wardrobe for some time now but I needed to find the right stripe for me. Everything either had stripes that were too thin or too much white... I wanted the stripes to be predominantly navy with a smaller white stripe. I liked the idea of a skirt - the pattern adverse part of me could deal with a smaller block of pattern. I toyed with the idea of the gorgeous Bohemian Traders skirt but when I found this one at Sussan, I was hooked.

Following fashion Icon Redcliffe Style, I paired it with this gorgeous linen shirt which was drastically on sale (thanks for the tip!) and a white Witchery cami so I can layer and use the shirt as a bit more of a jacket style if I want.

To dress it up, I would wear The Jewel Collective Tara necklace, featuring gorgeous Tahitian and baroque freshwater pearls, or the Aphrodite which has a very pretty white sapphire central element, set in sterling silver.

Throw on a pair of flats or espadrilles (I like these ones from The Iconic) and a Metallic handbag and you are set!

Now I am hooked on stripes. I am considering getting this tee shirt from Katies (because CUTE!). And maybe even digging out my old striped canvas bag from pre Georgie days!

What other stripey things could I add to my wardrobe?

Kitty x

Monday, November 10, 2014

Christmas List: What's on yours?

Every year it gets to this point in time and I am ready. Ready for Christmas. I have decided what I am going to bake, I have lists, I have ordered Christmas cards, I am ORGANISED.

This year? Well, this year... Not so much...

At the moment I am procrastishopping. Building a list of things I'd like for Christmas (which will basically be bought by me in the post Christmas sales at this point). But a girl can dream - or post suggestions on her blog for her husband... Hint Hint...

So, this is what's on my list:

A TANDA MODERN candle in Lychee and Black tea. It's just the best smell! Seriously. My gorgeous friend Alyson makes the loveliest candles, and I am so super fussy about scents. Hers are amazing. Before she launched I only used to buy Diptyque candles but hers are better. Truly.

An Alexander McQueen De Manta Clutch in Jewel Print. I already have two of these and they make the best evening bags. And this one has JEWELS on it! Winner!

Phillippa's Home Baking - filled with amazing, easy to bake recipes, this will no doubt be a well thumbed classic in my kitchen. Georgie is a keen baker (she is a top level stirrer and cake batter eater) and it's something we like to do together. I know it sounds naff, wanting to expand her baking repetoire, but there are only so many chocolate cakes a mummy can eat before she loses her mind...

Now anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time knows of my long and abiding love of china. By that I mean porcelain, not the country (although I am a fan of dumplings... but I digress)... It's such a nana hobby but I really do love it. Now that I have completed my Limoges collection, I wanted to start collecting a new set. Determined not to rush into anything, I stumbled across the Waterford Michelle l'Huillier Embrace pattern one day and it was love at first sight. LOVE. Now I must have it, so I think I will be collecting places for each birthday and Christmas for the next few years.

What is on your Christmas list this year?

K xx