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diy: banner cookies for a subtle revelry

say it with cookies | south by north

I can’t imagine anything more delightful than receiving a message banner written out in cookies (not really surprising, I have a habit of writing stuff in my food). A simple, ‘yum’ is short and sweet, but you could say whatever you like, it all sounds better in cookie. And these babies will hang up anywhere for a sweet surprise.

This is a little diy/baking project that I put together for A Subtle Revelry, using a few simple supplies and some alphabet cookie cutters. You can see the full tutorial here.

Go on, say it with cookies!


ice cream series: peach and ginger ice cream pie

peach and ginger ice cream pie | south by north

I made some ice cream!! Hells yeah. And seeing as it has been so long, it would be only fair to take this ice cream to the next level and make it into a pie. Why on earth didn’t I do this sooner?! It feels like my barely-used pie tin has redeemed itself from the burnt polymer clay incident of 2014, and finally fulfilled it’s destiny with this recipe.

The ice cream is pure peachy goodness, with the hintiest hint of spice. The crunchy base is chunky and buttery, and made from a whole packet of ginger nuts. I could make a joke about juicy peaches and ginger nuts, but I won’t because I’m classy. Ahem. Scroll down for the how to.

peach and ginger ice cream pie | south by north

peach and ginger ice cream pie | south by north

peach and ginger ice cream pie | south by north

For the ice cream you will need:
– five ripe peaches + extra for garnish
– one cup of sugar
– two cups of heavy cream
– one teaspoon of nutmeg
– one teaspoon of vanilla essence
–  two tablespoons of Aperol (optional)
– a pinch of salt
– squeeze of lemon

For the pie base you will need:
– one packet of ginger nut biscuits
– 100 grams of butter

Make the ice cream first, starting with a peach puree. Peel and chop the peaches and place in a medium saucepan with the sugar, vanilla, Aperol (if using), nutmeg and salt. Keep stirring over a low heat until the sugar is fully dissolved and the peaches have started to break down.

Pour the mixture into a heat proof container that is safe to use with your hand blender, and blitz the peach and sugar mix. If your blender is the splattering kind wait for the peaches and sugar to cool a bit. Run the blitzed mixture through a fine seive, collecting the puree in a large bowl. Add a small squeeze of lemon to the puree and stir. Add the cream to the puree and stir thoroughly. Cover, and chill the mixture in the fridge.

While the mixture is chilling make the pie base. Use a food processor to turn the biscuits into crumbs – a mix of fine and a little chunkier gives a nice texture. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir the biscuit crumbs through. Press the crumbs into your pie tin (be careful, they will be hot!), cover and leave to set in the fridge.

Once the ice cream is chilled, churn according to the instructions on your mixer. Pour the churned ice cream into your pie base and leave the whole pie to set in the freezer. Serve straight from the freezer, with extra peach slices for garnish.

See more South by North recipes here, and follow along with the ice cream series here.

peach and ginger ice cream pie | south by north


california: yucca valley

yucca valley | south by north

Yucca Valley was one of the most awesome places I have ever been. We only spent one night there after a few nights in LA and it felt like being on another planet.

After driving inland for a couple of hours we hit the town of Yucca Valley just before sunset. We had directions to our accommodation but no actual address, as the owners like to keep it a secret to avoid visitors who are not actually staying the night. As soon as we pulled off the main road we were pretty surprised to find ourselves on sand roads. They were all sign posted and marked on the map as normal roads but it was sand as far as the eye could see – besides a few houses dotted around. The rental car may have almost got stuck in the sand and there may have been some mild panic at this point…

yucca valley | south by north

As soon as we arrived at the trailer park we knew it was a special place. There were airstreamer caravans, tipis, archery, mini golf, vending machines, bb guns and all kinds of kitschy goodness. The trailer we had booked was vintage circus/sideshow themed and every detail was covered – the tiny toilet was designed like a cage and there was even a working Zoltar machine inside (no Tom Hanks though). All the trailers are themed and I wished I could have poked around some of the others.

The cameras came out as soon as we arrived to catch the ridiculous sunset. The rest of the evening was spent round the bbq and the fire pit (as soon as the sun went down it dropped about 20 degrees and was totally freezing) – steak was eaten and red wine was most certainly drunk, mostly to keep warm! Dave was pretty happy with the beer vending machine that turned out to be about $1.50 for a beer… The next morning we woke up super early to catch the sunrise, it was still freezing until the sun came up.

If you are ever in the area, make sure you stay at this amazing, imaginative trailer park. The owners, who were completely lovely, seem to be a bit sketchy about too much info being posted about it online (I guess thats partly what makes it so special) so I am not going to link to it here just incase it violates their preferences, but if you want the details just shoot me an email.

yucca valley | south by northyucca valley | south by northyucca valley | south by northyucca valley | south by northyucca valley | south by northyucca valley | south by northyucca valley | south by northyucca valley | south by north

diy: simple ways to use rosewater on valentine’s day

rosewater ice cubes | south by north

Staying in is the new going out, in my house at least, and that is especially true on Valentine’s Day. This year it falls on a Saturday, which means restaurants will be extra busy – you could save your dinner money for a less crowded night and get all romancey at home instead.
I’ve put together a few ways to incorporate rosewater into your stay-at-home evening, firstly because it is delicious and fragrant and secondly because everyone knows that roses = love.
And for all the single-ready-to-mingles, these ideas are certainly not just for couples, Galentine’s night would be even sweeter with a little rosewater thrown in.

1. Rosewater Sugar Scrub

rose water sugar scrub | south by north

Start your evening with a little pamper session. Just mix 1/2 a cup of brown sugar with 1/4 cup of coconut oil, add two table spoons of rosewater and mix well. Hop in the shower and get scrubbing – you’ll come out smooth as Cupid’s bum and will smell amazing.

2. Rosewater Gin and Tonic

rosewater gin and tonic | south by north

You can’t really go wrong with a little pre-dinner gin and tonic. Vamp it up with rosewater infused ice cubes. In a jug mix together enough water to fill your ice cube tray and rosewater to taste. Pour into the tray and add a rose petal to each ice cube. Once frozen, drop a few cubes into a g+t, and as the ice cubes melt the rosewater flavour will spread through your drink.

3. Rosewater and Cinnamon Whipped Cream

rosewater and cinnamon whipped cream | south by north

This one is the easiest and definitely the most indulgent – fold a couple of spoons of rosewater through freshly whipped cream. Serve on the side of dessert with a dusting of cinnamon for the best flavour. And choose to interpret ‘dessert’ however you like!

See more of South by North’s diy posts here, and recipes here

happy monday links | five

ice cream | south by north

Before we get into the links, let me start by making a confession. Back in November I boldly stated that the ice cream series was back for summer, and exactly how many ice cream recipes have I posted? That would be ONE. I can’t believe I’ve let this slide, you guys. This is bad news for the blog and my stomach. I have all kinds of excellent excuses; I’ve been away a lot, I’ve been focussing on other aspects of the blog, the dog ate my ice cream maker etc etc. None of this is going to fly, I just need to get in the kitchen and make some ice cream immediately. Nothing should get between me and my ice cream. This will most definitely be rectified in the coming weeks!

Ok, onto the links. Here are some things I have been enjoying around the interwebs of late:

– A genius way to use up shredded paper.
This dress. Gimme.
– Tiny horses and lots of snow.
– Straight up stunning photography.
Hippo soup?! Yes please.
– Can’t wait for this book to come out.
This instagram.

Ice cream image is from my instagram. See more things that I like over on pinterest.


instagram series: from the palm of my hand

#fromthepalmofmyhand | south by north

This year I have set myself a little instagram challenge, to post one picture every week under the hastag #fromthepalmofmyhand. I was inspired by my friend Sally’s #fromwhereistand challenge in 2014, and thought it would be fun to do something similar.

I’ll still be posting my usual pics, but I’m looking forward to finding something a bit different to post each week. Follow along here, and feel free to join in too!


california: coast, vineyards and (not) using my dslr

california | south by north

After our time in Big Sur, we carried on down the coast towards Morro Bay. One of the most beautiful places that we stopped on the coastal drive was Sand Dollar Beach – a wide stretch of sand and huge rocks perforating the surf. We walked on the beach and also along the bluffs on the cliff edge – we were going to head down to Jade Cove, and almost made it but I majorly lost my nerve when I saw how steep the final climb was. I was actually worried we (well, just me really!) wouldn’t be able to get back up.

california | south by north

This part of the trip was booked pretty last minute and we had been hoping to stay by the coast, but everything was too expensive or already full. We ended up reserving our second Air Bnb about an hour inland in a town called Templeton – it was a holiday cottage overlooking a handful of gorgeous vineyards. Considering we knew nothing about the area and booked it mainly based on one picture, it worked out amazingly well. We picked up stuff to bbq for dinner and went for a cheeky wine tasting at a nearby vineyard. Our evening was mostly eating bbq steaks and drinking wine by the outside firepit. It was such a lovely place, and we could have easily stayed longer.

california | south by north

california | south by north

I want to talk a bit about my photography this trip – both David and I had decided that we didn’t want to ‘overuse’ our dslrs, so a lot of the photos I will be sharing are from my phone (like all of the photos in this post). There are a couple of reasons for this. The main reason is the sheer volume of photos that we end up with when constantly snapping away on our dslrs. There have been quite a few trips where we have come back with thousands of photos and multiple memory cards and it just feels like too much, for us anyway. It makes editing them a burden, and also means having to carry a huge camera everywhere. It was actually really enjoyable on this trip to pull out the big camera for certain moments and use my iphone as my day to day camera, just like I do at home. In the end I took around 350 photos on my dslr in the eight day road trip. That may sound like a lot, but considering how many places we visited it felt pretty restrained. For example in LA I didn’t use my big camera once.

The other reason that I really enjoyed this new approach to my camera is that I think it actually improved the quality of my dslr photos. Instead of the constant snapping and knowing that out of thousands I would be bound to find some good ones, I forced myself to be more considered and make each shot count. When editing I only deleted a handful, the rest are all pictures that I am really happy with – usually I would be wading through loads and finding it hard to decide what to keep. It was pleasantly surprising to upload them when I got home and not have to spend several hours editing and organising.

I would love to know how you approach your dslr photography – are you snap happy or do you keep it for special occasions only?

You can see the rest of my California posts here, or check out my instagram, #southbynorthcalifornia

california | south by north

california | south by north

california | south by north

california | south by north

diy: flower crowns

flower crowns | south by north

Before the holidays I shared this post about wreath-making, and on that day we also made flower crowns. Now I know that everyone has been making these for ages, so I thought I would share a few tips and tricks that we learnt rather than give you a full-on tutorial.

(Firstly, a tip on why you should even make one in the first place… If you want to be put into the best mood ever, just go and make a flower crown right now. We wore ours out that afternoon and a taxi driver said we looked like princesses and a random lady on the street called us maidens. As a bonus, flower crowns must dilute bitchy resting face, because random strangers on the street usually just tell me to ‘cheer up love’. So there you go.)

Scroll down for actual flower crown-making tips.

flower crowns | south by north

flower crowns | south by north

– If you are making lots of crowns, try to get to a flower market if you can. This will keep the cost down considerably and give you more choice. If you are just making one crown it would probably be more time efficient to pick up some blooms from your local florist, as you don’t need many.

– Give your flowers the shake test! We learnt this the hard way, delicate little flowers can sometimes drop everywhere whenever they are nudged or moved, not what you want for your crown. make sure you choose sturdy flowers that will hold their form.

– Floral wire is not necessary, but floral tape most definitely is. For the neatest crowns form your wire into a circle to fit your head, and then wrap the entire circle of wire with tape. This gives you a better base to work from and looks more polished. Use the tape to fix the flower stems to the crown.

– When you are shaping the wire to fit your head, don’t forget to a leave a little bit of room for all of the lovely blooms that you will be adding! You want the crown to still fit once it is finished.

– Large, heavy flowers (like roses) will need a sturdier base, so double or triple wrap your wire before covering in floral tape.

{Thanks to Olivia, Jo and Gina for their excellent flower crown skills, having especially excellent hair and looking like babes in my photos.}

flower crowns | south by north



california: a tiny cabin in big sur

big sur | south by north

The first stop on our California road trip was an Air Bnb cabin in Big Sur. David came to collect me on my last day at work, and we hit the road straight away. We had apparently chosen the only day of hideous weather in the entire 14 weeks that I was there to start our holiday. Driving on strange roads in torrential rain at night does not make for chilled and relaxing times! A quick stop at In-n-Out Burger kind-of saved the day, and we carried on trudging through the rain. It was a long, slightly spooky (did I mention that it was Halloween night?) but exciting drive off Highway 1 and through redwood forests to get there – we finally arrived at our little cabin at around 9pm.


big sur cabin | south by north

The cabin was up a very steep, and now very muddy hill – we knew this was the case when booking. We parked at the bottom outside the main house (a totally amazing geodesic dome structure) and one of the owners drove us up in his 4wd, sliding around all over the place – it was fun! The cabin was tiny, but perfectly equipped with a cute kitchen and dining area, fireplace and a bedroom nook. The bathroom seemed newly built, it was on the deck right outside the front door and had a semi-open roof. On the first night I was pretty convinced a bear or mountain lion was going to come knocking while I was on the loo – 100% rational thinking, 0% scared of the dark, obviously.

The cabin was surrounded by insanely huge redwood trees and was totally secluded – we had absolutely no phone reception and it was a little hike to get to and from the car. We stayed for two nights making cosy fires in the wood burner, eating pasta, drinking red wine that our host kindly left for us, fending off friendly (?!) spiders and visiting Big Sur national park. All in all, best start to the holiday.

You can see the rest of my California posts here, or check out my instagram, #southbynorthcalifornia

big sur cabin | south by north

big sur cabin | south by northbig sur cabin | south by northbig sur cabin | south by northbig sur cabin | south by north