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

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Jewel Collective

Last weekend, after 15 months of hard work, we launched The Jewel Collective.

The Jewel Collective is the epitome of affordable luxury. Born from the idea that everyone should be able to wear beautiful jewels made from natural materials and gems at a reasonable price, the pieces are designed to be worn and enjoyed both everyday and for special occasions. The Jewel Collective designs are classic, timeless and stylish, with a bit of an edge to make them truly original.

The launch of the website and business is the culmination of more than a year of planning and work by my husband and I. A life long passion for jewels and pearls led me to give up an almost two decade career in public relations to follow my dream and harness my consumer and online experience to create a destination for beautifully designed and hand crafted jewellery. It was important to me that the pieces we designed were high quality and beautiful yet still affordable for customers. I wanted to provide stylish women with another option for their accessories collection, other than costume jewellery.
Pieces from the first collection prices start at $125 and go all the way up to $3500 for a “one of a kind” strand of hand selected Tahitian pearls. Many of the pieces in the collection feature precious and semi-precious stones, such as sapphires, garnet, agate, citrines and pearls, as well as South Sea, Tahitian and freshwater pearls, sterling silver and high quality gold vermeil. The first collection contains earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

The Hera pendant, $350

When designing the pieces for the first collection, I drew on my own experiences of collecting jewellery over the years and my love of natural stones and pearls. Every piece is something I would wear, love and cherish.

Fortuna earrings, $150

 You can see the collection at or follow us through social media on Instagram (@jewelcollective) or Facebook (

And, as a special friend of The Jewel Collective, to celebrate the launch, we are giving you 10% off all products in the Mythology collection. Just enter the code FRIENDS1114 at checkout. The code is valid until the end of November.

I hope you love The Jewel Collective as much as we loved designing and creating all of the pieces in our launch collection. We are so excited about our launch!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Miss Kitty Bakes: Cinnamon rolls.

My new best friend is The Pioneer Woman. She doesn't know it but we are like sisters. Truly. We have a shared love for baked goods, fancy kitchenwares, Wolf ovens and butter. Lots of butter.

But she lives on a farm and I hate the outdoors (a little secret - I don't even really like going to the park in case I get tan bark or sand in my shoes. True fact). And I hyperventilate at being more than about 10 minutes away from a shopping centre and she lives in Oklahoma on a cattle ranch, about a squillion miles from anywhere... So maybe we are just a little different...

The one thing we definitely both LOVE are these cinnamon rolls. She seems to make them for practically everyone she meets. I made them for a friend who was in hospital last week, having given birth to a gorgeous new baby. Everyone who has ever breastfed knows how you have to inhale food in gargantuan quantities to keep making mama milk so this was a perfect hospital gift.

I make them in half batches (which still made enough for two trays) but if you have enough people to share these amongst, the full batch doesn't take much extra time and effort to make. I didn't have maple flavouring for the glaze so I just use maple syrup instead (the Costco one or the organic Macro one from Woolies are both pretty good) and reduce the amount of milk, adding it splash by splash until you get the right consistency. And Mr K (who is usually an eschewer of all things icing related) says it really adds something to these rolls so it is worth making.

The only disadvantage is that they don't keep much longer than a day as they do start to dry out a little, even with the glaze. And they don't freeze (because of the icing). And they are best eaten warm, just after the glaze has oozed and settled into all those gorgeous pillowy folds. So basically, stand over the sink and try not to get too much icing on your top as you inhale a few while they are still warm.

Food of the gods. You heard it here first.

K xx

The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls

1 quart (1 Litre) Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 7g Packets (total 14 grams)
8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Reserved) All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
Plenty Of Melted Butter – about 1 1/2cups total.
2 cups Sugar
Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon

1 bag Powdered Sugar (450g)
2 teaspoons Maple Flavoring (substitute maple syrup if you can’t find it and drop the milk down to a few splashes)
1/2 cup Milk
1/4 cup Melted Butter
1/4 cup Brewed Coffee (espresso is fine, or if you are making this to share with kids, just add more milk instead)
1/8 teaspoon Salt

For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. I found it was perfect at about 75-80 degrees celcius. Set aside and cool until just warm, about 40 minutes or so. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.

Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean tea towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: the dough is very sticky at this point and unless you are in a huge hurry, it is much easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin. Try and make the rectangle as even as possible to make sure your rolls are nice and even in size.

To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar! Gooey is the goal. It's messy but worth it.

Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.

Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1/2-inch slices. One “log” will produce 16-20 rolls. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and smear with a pastry brush to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd. (Each pan will hold about 8 rolls.)

Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the maple icing: In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt. Splash in the maple flavoring. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.

Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor. They only get better with time… not that they last for more than a few seconds around here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

For the love of a handbag

A few years ago, Mr K, G and I found ourselves in London. For my sister's wedding (a very happy occasion).

I decided on this trip that I wanted to buy myself a nice handbag.  Treat yo'self. A everyday bag that was both stylish and practical but still beautiful. An investment bag (well an investment in my happiness and a dent in my credit card). However, in my search for the perfect bag, I made possibly THE DUMBEST TRADE EVER. I gave up business class seats to and from Europe for a nicer handbag (dumb for a number of reasons - not the most insignificant of which was the 18 month battle I had with coccyx pain which was started by a seat on the Air France flight home, but I digress).

I really really wanted a Chloe Marcie. Really wanted one. But when I got to London, I started to question my decision, so in Paris I bought a Louis Vuitton Pont Neuf GM instead - which is a fab bag, but - let's be honest - practically useless when juggling a toddler... And totally impractical on visits to the park and there is just nowhere to stuff the wipes pack...

So it sits in its dust cover, waiting for the appropriate time to use it... Which might be in about 10 years at this rate... Don't get me wrong - I love it and it's the bag I will leave to my daughter in my will but for this Mama's Stage of Life, it wasn't a great buy.

My love of the Marcie never went away. When we were in Hawaii last year, I saw a really hot turquoise one. Stunning. But my heart was set on black. And the black one wasn't on sale. For a good 12 months I regretted not buying that bag. It was a fantastic price and I would have loved it. It would have had a very happy home with me. We would have had a lot of fun together.

Fast forward and 12 months later we found ourselves in New York (ever the jetsetters, with a toddler and 17 pieces of luggage - it's not glam I tell you, traveling with a rambunctious toddler). I am standing in Bergdorfs, in front of the Chloe display and I just want one. Mr K sensibly talks me out of it, appealing to my inner bargain seeker through his inner tight arse - saying that by the time we factor in local tax, GST incoming into Australia and currency exchange, it would be cheaper to buy it online.

He was right.

Three weeks after we got home, I found my lovely on Reebonz at a truly bargain price and I have honestly never been happier with a bag purchase. It really was a great price (for a Chloe Marcie) and I have used it almost every day since. It's the medium size - not too big, not too small. Just right.

A bag worth waiting for.

PS: I'd still like one in turquoise. Just between you and me.

K xx

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Will to Blog

This morning, I woke up, and for the first time in ages, I felt like blogging.


I was talking about this very issue last week (and a few months ago, even) with my lovely friend Bron. She said that my blogging mojo would eventually come back and she was right. Unfortunately at possibly the most inconvenient time (busyness wise). But, back, it seems it is!

So, what has happened in my world since I last blogged?

Lots, and not very much really. Life.

I launched my new business last weekend. That took up LOADS of time. Pretty cool! It was something I loved doing but, mother of all that is holy, could someone have please told me how tired I would feel this week? It somewhat goes towards explaining why I had no time to blog...

We are still living in our little hovel, just the three of us - plans *should* go to the structural engineer early next week. Maybe. Who knows? But it's getting increasingly difficult to run two businesses and live in what is effectively a 2 bedroom house. With a toddler who runs everywhere. RUNS. If anyone has any suggestions on how to speed thing up (that don't involve murder or DIVORCE - both of which are threatened on a regular basis) then I am all ears.

We went to America for 5 weeks in May. That was fun. But goodness, it was no holiday (well it was mostly work). A holiday is something we are all in desperate need of at the moment.

So I guess that just goes to show that life really is like Bold and the Beautiful - you can watch it for a while and then go away and come back four years later and Brooke and Eric are still having the same conversation and you feel like nothing has changed. Except, what happened to Ridge?

Huh. There you go. And who said soap operas weren't realistic?

But I digress. So I am back. Talking about what? I don't know yet. Bags? Shoes? Frocks? Cakes? Kids? Jewels? Cats? Houses? Stay tuned. Could be none or all of the above, you lucky people.

There's this week's cliffhanger for you.

Kitty xx