Monday, September 26, 2016

Girls Trip to Byron Bay

I'm just back from an amazing and relaxing 4 days away in Byron Bay. 
While Byron is usually a place that we get away to as a family, when I had the chance to go again with my mum for a break I jumped at the chance to experience the town a little differently.

We caught an early morning flight from Sydney to Ballina and arrived at 8.40am with the day ahead of us. We hired a car and headed towards Newrybar for a coffee and breakfast at Harvest cafe and a little bit of retail therapy across the road at Newrybar Merchants. 
The sun was out and it was the perfect start to the day.

We then headed up to Crystal Castle at Mullumbimby for a wander around the gardens. 
I had been recently but mum hadn't been in years and I was happy to enjoy the grounds again. 
It's a totally different experience without the kids ;)

We then headed back into Byron and stopped at The Farm for lunch.
I almost didn't walk in when I saw the sign. Magpies are my worst nightmare in Spring!

It was then time to check into our hotel. We decided on The Byron at Byron

It was somewhere I had always wanted to stay. We got an amazing 3 night package which included a 1 bedroom apartment, buffet breakfast each morning, a massage each at the spa, dinner for 2 on one night and free bike hire. The resort lived up to all of my expectations, it was so lovely and tranquil.  Also the service and food was wonderful and that pool! Stunning!

It was really lovely to wake up amongst the trees and wander down for a leisurely breakfast. 
The chia puddings each morning became our favourite!
We mixed it up a bit each day. One of the days we lay near the pool after breakfast and didn't move until 6 hours later. Bliss! We read magazines, had lunch near the pool and just enjoyed the feeling of nowhere to be. 

The other day was grey and drizzly so we used time to check out the shops in town, book in for a massage at the spa and catch up with friends nearby for dinner.

3 nights went by so fast. It was so lovely to have that break from every day routine and for my mum and I to spend some uninterrupted time together. I really enjoyed the slow pace of our days. 

On our last day we checked out at 11am after breakfast. As our flight wasn't until later that day we were offered the choice of storing our bags and hanging out by the resort pool again but we decided to have one last stop at The Pass ( it felt so weird to be here without the boys!) drive up to the lighthouse and head into Bangalow for a wander through the shops and lunch.

It was then time to return the hire car and head back to Sydney.
Simon and the boys picked us up from the airport and it was wonderful to see their happy faces. 
I think they missed me ;) 

I came back feeling rested, relaxed and ready for the next 2 weeks of school holidays ahead.

I had lots of questions over on Instagram about where I went, I've listed most of them in this post and the links below. You can read more about our family trips to Byron and see where we stay, eat and shop here and here

Have you had a holiday away by yourself recently? Where are your favourite places to go? 


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday Sweets - Giant Ice-Cream Sandwich cake

The weekends are when I get a chance to experiment with recipes and put aside ideas that I want to try for the next special occasion. I loved this recipe I saw for a giant ice cream sandwich cake via Oh Happy Day. I think it would be perfect for all the summer entertaining we do.

Take a look.....

For the Ice Cream:
3.5 quarts (from 2 1.75qt containers) vanilla ice cream, softened

Line a 9×13″ baking pan with cling wrap and scoop out the ice cream into the pan. This helps it out with softening more if needed and makes it easier to spread out. If the ice cream still needs to soften let it sit for about 5 minutes then use an offset spatula to smooth it out evenly in the pan. Fold in the edges of the cling wrap and top with one more piece of cling wrap. Freeze for at least 3 hours, preferably 6 or overnight just to make it as frozen as possible, and easiest for you to work with.

For the Cake:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 cup well shaken buttermilk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F and prep a 9×13″ baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and a strip of parchment with overhang so you can lift the cake out of the pan easily.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder until it’s nice and combined. In a large measuring cup, 3-4 cups is perfect, measure out the buttermilk, then the oil, then add the eggs and vanilla and beat with a fork until combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and use a silicone spatula to mix everything together. Add half the batter to the prepared pan, sooth it out with an offset spatula, and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If you have two pans then by all means bake up both pans, but if you’re like me and only have one then cover the second half of cake batter with plastic wrap while the first cake is baking. Once that cake is baked let it cool for 10 minutes, transfer to a cooling rack, then prep the pan with the parchment and non-stick spray and bake the second half of the batter.

When that one’s baked let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes before using the parchment handles to transfer it to a cooling rack and let the cakes cool completely.

When you’re ready to assemble the cake, pick the prettier of the two and use the fatter end of a chopstick or a paintbrush handle, something along that size and poke holes in the cake, alternating rows of 4 then 3 holes with each row spaced about 1″ apart. It helps if your cake has been peeled away from the parchment then placed back on there. Once you have all the holes poked place an upside down white chocolate chip in each hole and gently push it into the cake.

Place the other cake onto whatever you’re serving it on (I use the baking sheet flipped over) top down then carefully unwrap your ice cream and place that on top of the cake. If the edges need to be cleaned up use an offset spatula to smooth them out. To finish up the cake place the other layer of cake on top with the chocolate chips facing up and serve! If your ice cream is too soft or you still have time to kill then just place the cake in the freezer until you’re ready to serve.

What do you think? It reminds me of the good old Monaco Bar. Yum!

You can find so many more great ideas and recipes on their site here

Recipe and photos via Oh Happy Day

Around here lately....

I've been embracing the Spring weather and getting out and about catching up with friends. 
I always feel more social in the warmer weather! ;) 

I finally made it up to The Newport to check out their renovation and have lunch there. I love the fresh new look. The gardens feel very "Palm Springs" and has inspired me to start my own cactus garden.

The other place I hadn't been to for years was the Art Gallery of NSW to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition and to have lunch. I forgot what a lovely place it was and such a great place to catch up with a friend. We loved the exhibition (my favourites were her self portraits) and it has made me want to watch the Frida movie made years ago with Salma Hayek and read up a bit more on her.

I've also been Spring cleaning and changing up a few things in each bedroom. Moving beds around and changing artwork, adding a couple of new things into the mix. It feels good!

I'm feeling pink this week and love the new prints above our bed. Prints found here

I had a browse through Kmart the other day and this rug and a couple of baskets came home with me for Noah's room.

I've also been mixing up where I've been walking through the week but it's always near water and the view is always beautiful. Love the sun sparking off the water. The water looks so tempting but it is way too cold for me. I don't usually go in the ocean until December!

How have you been lately?
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