Cupcakes & Picnics

Hello everyone!

I’m back with another cooking recipe.

I was hosting a picnic with a few friends and I decided to make some cupcakes last minute.

Lucky these cupcakes were so simple that it was ready in no time at all. Literally under half an hour it was done.

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1¼ Cups Plain flour
  • ¾ Tsp Baking powder
  • 1 Cup Caster sugar
  • 125g melted butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¾ Cup full cream milk
  • ½ tsp Vanilla extract
  • Handful of frozen Cherries, Strawberries and Blueberries.

Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups Icing sugar
  • 125gms Butter (softened)
  • Milk
  • 1 teaspoon peanut butter
  • 4 squares of dark chocolate
  • 4 squares of white chocolate

Method:

  1. Preheat fan forced oven to 160 degrees
  2. Combine all the cupcake ingredients in a bowl and mix with a spoon until combined
  3. Spoon half the mixture into 12 x cupcake tray lined with paper cases, filling them to only halfway
  4. Cut up your frozen fruit into the centre of your batter on the cupcake tray
  5. Cover the cupcakes with the remaining batter
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until when a toothpick is inserted it comes out clean
  7. Let cool on a wire tray for at least 1 hour or your frosting will melt.

To make the icing:

  1. Whip with an electric mixer your softened butter and the icing sugar and a few tsps of milk (one at a time) until combined –  ensure your mixture is not too runny. Do not worry if your mixture looks clumpy because of the butter because after a few more seconds it’ll combine into a smooth consistency. Don’t panic and pour the whole bottle of milk in.
  2. Melt your dark chocolate in the microwave at 20 second intervals stirring after each interval (should take about 1 minute all up). Stop heating when the chocolate is melted once stirred otherwise you’ll overheat and burn your chocolate.
  3. Melt your white chocolate in the microwave at 20 second intervals stirring after each interval (should take about less than 1 minute all up as white chocolate melts at a lower temperature than dark chocolate). Stop heating when the chocolate is melted once stirred otherwise you’ll overheat and burn your chocolate.
  4. Spoon your peanut butter into a bowl.
  5. Split the buttercream mixture into 4 and place 1/4 into the 3 bowls leaving 1/4 for the plain buttercream frosting
  6. Stir through your icing mixture and the chocolate or peanut butter. Depending on your consistency, add more milk as desired. Note: it is pretty cold in Winter here in Sydney so the chocolate did solidify pretty quickly making the buttercream stiff. To combat this issue, microwave your icing for < 5 seconds to soften it again
  7. Pipe your buttercream frostings onto each cupcake. Or use a spatula to flatten out a dollop of buttercream (which is what I did, as I was lazy and didn’t want to clean the piping bags)
  8. Feel free to decorate with more fruit on top of your cupcakes but I was lazy.
  9. Dig in!

I decided to make the following combinations:

  1. 3 x Cherry cupcakes with Dark chocolate frosting
  2. 3 x Strawberry cupcakes with White chocolate frosting
  3. 3 x Blueberry cupcakes with buttercream frosting
  4. 3 x Vanilla cupcakes with peanut butter frosting

It was so delicious! Everyone lapped it up.

My friends and I had a picnic out at Como pleasure ground in the south of Sydney. The park was beautiful as it was right next to the river/lake. Initially I had wanted to go to Cronulla beach but the thought of trying to find parking was too daunting.

We laid out a picnic mat and just bathed in the winter sun until the temperature dropped when the sun started setting and we hurried home.
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Costs:
Cupcakes: <$10 as most was kitchen staples and I had frozen fruit from my smoothies
Picnic with friends: free as everyone had to contribute food

Hope everyone is staying warm during this cold weather! preferably with some cupcakes 🙂

Ciao!

Ally xx

Watson Bay

Hello everyone!

Did a bit of exploring over the weekend at Watsons Bay.

Sydney had the best weather on the weekend despite it being ‘winter’ right now. So why not make the most of it by exploring outdoors?

It is actually so good for your mind and body to get outdoors especially after a week of working in front of the office computer for at least 7 hours a day. (Give me all the vitamin C please.)

Surprisingly, despite not planning our journey at all, we did not have to wait long for a ferry at CQ. We waited all of 3 minutes. Lucky we got there when we did because the ferry wharf was already packed like sardines. Also the indicator board showed the next ferry to CQ will arrive in 50 minutes if we had missed this one. Now I’m not too sure if that was a technical glitch or not but I surely hope that the ferries come more often than hourly to Watsons bay.

The ferry ride took about 20 minutes which is nothing when you are on the bow of the boat enjoying the sea spray and just soaking in the warm sun and beautiful sights. Because of the perfect weather, there were quite a few yacht boats on the harbour, they always make me anxious when they tip to the side to the point where they’re almost parallel with the water. Does anyone else feel the same?!

It was just after 2pm when our ferry arrived at Watsons bay. The famous beach club was brimming with groups of people having their afternoon drinks and nibbles. The Doyles fish shop was also packed, serving out trays of fish and chips by the second. However, as we already ate back in my area we ventured out to explore.

We had explored down along the beach on our previous trip here so this time we wanted to check out the view of “The Gap”. Despite its beauty, it has a grim presence which I’m not too sure most of the tourists know about. The second you walk up the steps to the Gap, there is a lifeline poster and phone booths there offering assistance. For those who are unaware, the Gap was earned an unwanted reputation of being a place where people go and contemplate suicide. There are high fences alongside the cliff face to prevent these occurrences from happening.

The view from the Gap is pretty spectacular. Offering views of the Sydney CBD on one side and the other out towards the endless ocean. Watching and listening to the waves crash against the cliff face is just so serene.

There were 3 height levels for the Gap all which are reachable by stairs and offer plenty of seating areas for those who want to have lunch there or just to chill out.  I sat there for a good half an hour just admiring the view and spending some quality time with my boyfriend.

There aren’t many shops at Watson’s Bay around the main street at all. There were a few vintage cafe’s (even a milk bar) and an ice creamery and that was about it. I quite liked that as it seemed the community has managed to retain its history despite the inflow of tourists along the bayside.

We didn’t spend too long at Watson’s Bay as we were only there to sight see. We also had to head back into the city to get ready for dinner (blog post to come).

However, I highly recommend spending an afternoon at Watsons Bay either to eat at the beach club (food is very expensive but decent), stroll alongside the beach, overlook the sea at The Gap or even to sit/lay down at the big park right by the ferry wharf.

Best part is being able to catch the Ferry for less than $5 with Opal (only if you have reached the quota for half off travel that week. Otherwise wait till Sunday when travel is $2.50 all day). 🙂

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Location: Watson’s Bay (ferry from Circular Quay – Wharf #2)
Price: Free (excluding your opal travel)

If you or anyone you know needs help:

Ciao for now!

Ally xx

The infamous Bondi to Bronte walk 

Well technically it’s the Bondi to Coogee walk but because I am that unfit that after just reaching Bronte, I called it a day and began my return walk to Bondi.

Hello everyone 👋

Hope everyone’s week is going well so far!

It’s going to be a rainy few days in Sydney. Perfect – just in time for the long weekend (why Sydney why?!). So, I thought what better than to reminisce on the sunnier times of Sydney.

The Bondi to Coogee walk is 6km (one way) and will take approximately 1 hour to walk (one way) along the narrow coastal footpaths. However it may take longer depending on the amount of people traffic who are going the opposite direction. It then becomes a game of ‘who is polite enough to let the other pass’. Most are friendly enough and will step aside however there are also large handfuls of groups where they believe they have the right of way. How frustrating – it’s so un-Australian.

Seeing as I only walked to Bronte, it took about 40 minutes return.

Along your scenic route which starts from the end of the beach closest to Bondi station, you will encounter the famous and most Instagrammed swimming pool – Bondi icebergs. Because who’s going to believe you were at Bondi unless you have photographic proof of the pool? The view overlooks the pool which is constantly sprayed by the oncoming waves from the sea and out towards the opposite end of Bondi Beach. It is a great people watching spot because you can see all the surfers ride the waves however it gets so congested with pedestrians that you really should move along.

The footpath leads along the coast under rock formations and up towards Tamarama beach. Did you know that surf club was featured in an ad for dulux (paint brand with the furry dog) ?

From there, there are enormous cliff faces overlooking the sea which are perfect for laying down on and soaking up the sun or grabbing a bite to eat. Just remember eber to bring a towel/blanket/jumper as the cliff face is quite uneven and not that comfortable to lay on unless you are sitting on something soft. It can also get quite wet from the sea mist

Once you have gotten sick of that sea side view and decide you want a change in scenery, continue walking along the footpath towards Bronte beach. Along the way there are exercise equipment and if you are lucky, you may even get a glimpse of a couple in the midst of their wedding photography.

This walk is dog friendly however please ensure that your dog is comfortable in crowded environments as the last thing you want is a terrified pooch.

All in all, it is a great way to spend your day!

 

Vivid Sydney

Hello everyone!

Sorry for my absence this week! my week has been crazy busy – but I have managed to fit some time in after work to check out the Vivid festival.

For those who do not know, Vivid is an annual light show in Sydney that happens for approximately 3 weeks usually between May – June. The entire CBD (and various other suburbs) are covered in light installations – some interactive. Of course there are always art projections on the Opera house and a light show on the Harbour Bridge.

Because this event is free (with the exception of some ticketed events and shows), thousands of people flock to Circular Quay to see the light show. Trying to get anywhere quick is impossible especially on weekends. My suggestion is if you do go to check this out, go on a week night because usually it will mainly be less crowded as families are less inclined to venture into the CBD on a weeknight.

That being said, I actually have no clue if there is a theme (besides light) for these vivid festivals.

I have only managed to visit the light show around CQ for now and will definitely be going to check out Martin Place and Barangaroo within the next week or so.

Let me know if you have been and which was your favourite installation this year! Mine was definitely the swing set behind Park Hyatt (right under the harbour bridge at the Rocks). The swings were illuminated and you would be able to sit on it while music plays depending on how fast/high you are swinging. If you are lucky (as a reward for waiting in line for at least 15 minutes) they perform a show with the mechanical swings where loud happy music plays and the swings rotate 360 degrees in various speeds all the while the lights change colours. It was my favourite part of vivid (and I’m in my 20s so kids will definitely love this).

Below are some photos from my visit. As it is winter, please ensure you rug up as it does get quite chilly !

For more information, visit:

Website : https://www.vividsydney.com
Cost: Free for most events
Duration: 26 May – 17 June

 

 

 

The Secret Garden

The best things in life are free right?!

Have you ever been to the city CBD and just thought there is way too much hustle and bustle? People appearing to be rushing place to place, buildings left right and centre? Now imagine how great it’d be if there was just a place to sit down and gather your thoughts.

Well you’re in luck…Wendy Whiteley’s secret garden.

Located a short 10 minute walk from Milsons Point station, you will find yourself immersed in a variety of trees and flora. The best part is that it faces directly the city CBD.

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I strongly recommend spending your afternoon here – bring your own picnic mat and grab some groceries from the local supermarket, grab a book to read or just take a nap. There’s plenty of space so you can spend as much time here as you like! (That being said there are picnic tables available).

Speaking of, how great are picnics? You can customise everything you bring! You can even create your own cheese board if you want! By doing so it’ll be a lot more cost efficient (trust me). Why not surprise your date with a picnic basket that you’ve packed?! Or why not gather your friends and have a catch up over a basket of food? (sounds like heaven to me). Further, once you’ve finished snacking away, you can just lay back on your mat and soak up the sunshine. MMM pure bliss!

Note: There is next to no shelter besides the tree canopies, therefore please check the weather forecast being coming here. You don’t want to come here and only having to turn back because it started to rain! also, slip slop slap – no one wants to look like a burnt tomato the next day!

Once you have soaked up the suns rays and have had enough of the view (as if that’s possible), take a stroll down the stairs towards Lavender Bay. Here there is a ferry dock and also a path through to Luna Park.

From there you can walk along the bay past miniature sculptures and eventually heading back to Milsons Point ferry wharf where you can catch the ferry back to the city CBD or catch the train.

Thank you for reading and please comment below if you have ever been to the secret garden or plan on visiting any time soon! Trust me you will not be disappointed!

I’m also thinking of posting a blog post on tips on how to organise an amazing picnic. e.g. what to pack etc. Please let me know if you’d be interested in that!