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five things I learnt from the konmari method.

the konmari method | south by north

As someone who ‘struggles’ to keep on top of my clutter and tends to leave my junk all over the house, I was pretty keen to read Marie Kondo’s cult book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to try and kick myself into shape.

When I finally read it it on our honeymoon I was just blown away by it’s simplicity, and immediately made David read it after me. He is very tidy and organised by nature so was also keen to give the method a whirl. The basic idea is to go through everything in your entire house in a certain order, discarding anything that doesn’t spark joy. Everything that you keep is stored properly and neatly in a designated spot, and when you open a drawer or cupboard you should be able to see everything inside without having to shift things and rummage around (she has some great methods for achieving this!).

Now, I am not going to rehash the full details of the KonMari method as you can find out about it all over the internet and frankly you should just read the book! What I would like to tell you is how it went for us. On our first free weekend after the honeymoon we decided to KonMari the flat (I know, #marriedlyfe) and get rid of the clutter once and for all.

It has now been about a month since we KonMari-ed, here are five things I learnt.

One | Messy people can be reformed.
Messiness is not part of my DNA! Hallelujah! This is actually a huge relief and a bit of a shock, as I was secretly always worried that I could never change. Over the years I have gotten a lot better and was by no means hideously messy, but I can confidently state that the KonMari method has totally reformed me. It’s like a switch has flipped and tidying is no longer a chore – everything has a place, and everything goes back in it’s place. So simple. Gah.

konmari method | south by north

Two | I don’t need three muffin tins.
If like me you make muffins approximately never you probably don’t even need one muffin tin, so please tell me why I owned three? Also, no one needs three sellotape dispensers. I honestly thought we just had one that kept spontaneously moving around – this is clearly a ridiculous state of affairs.
What I am trying to say here is that excess stuff is kind-of gross. David and I are neither hoarders (muffin tins and sellotape dispensers excluded) or insane consumers but we still managed to get rid of a fairly shameful amount of crap. Following the KonMari method really highlighted the items that ‘spark joy’ and what was ready to head out the door. It is a freeing but eye-opening process, and certainly makes you think twice about bringing more objects into your home in the future. If I contemplate buying something I find myself asking. ‘where will I put that?’ and ‘does it really spark joy?’. This tends to mean I leave empty-handed which is a lot better for my bank balance. 

Three | Having a tidy home makes you feel nice.
Since we tidied our house I feel like one of those people on an advert for fruit tea, all leisurewear and woollen throws and scented candles. Seriously though, I can’t stress enough how calming for the mind it is to know that there is no clutter in our flat. I can tell you where everything is, and we know exactly what we own. I truly feel more motivated and energised when I’m at home. Even getting dressed in the morning is more enjoyable – when I open my drawers and cupboard I can see everything inside (special KonMari folding and hanging techniques) and there are no more messy piles of t-shirts or three dresses on one hanger.  

konmari method | south by north

Four | Being messy is pretty annoying for everyone.
I hated being messy and I’m certain that David was not thrilled by it either. When your idea of tidy is not quite the same as your living partner’s, it can create really unnecessary stress for both sides. David and I never had full-blown arguments about tidying and clutter but it was definitely always a thing. Now, along with the clutter, that stress has practically disappeared and our tidiness levels are much more even.

Five | It’s good to appreciate the things you own.
Giving everything you own a proper place to ‘live’ and making sure that all of those things spark joy really makes you appreciate your stuff a lot more. I have been wearing more of my clothes, using more of my kitchen utensils and generally enjoying my things a lot more. Everything is easy to find and nothing is hidden away and being forgotten.  

It’s been about a month now and we are still going strong. Ok so the laundry is not always folded right away but still, that is a minor indiscretion compared to before. Dave has always been very tidy, so now he is just ultra tidy. I probably sound like a total crazy saying this, but sometimes I open the cupboards and drawers just to see how lovely and neat everything looks inside…yeah…can’t believe I am admitting that but there it is! I have well and truly drunk the (tidy) koolaid.

blood orange meringues with blood orange and passionfruit curd

blood orange meringues with blood orange and passionfruit curd | south by north

When you are lucky enough to acquire a brand new Kitchenaid and six blood oranges in the space of time between breakfast and lunch on a Saturday, you know that it’s going to be a great weekend. That was last weekend, folks.

There was really only one thing to be done – put the two together and make some blood orange meringues. And then when you realise that you also have some passionfruits and it really would be quite nice to have something to dollop on top of the meringues, well then you make curd.

Scroll down for the how-to.

p.s. I totally realise that this is the first time I’ve posted in four months. If you are reading this, thanks for sticking with me. I’ll be following up with a few thoughts on the future of this blog in the next week or so, but for now, yay new blog post!

blood orange meringues with blood orange and passionfruit curd | south by north

blood orange meringues with blood orange and passionfruit curd | south by north

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 110°C (or 230°F), then whip up some classic meringue. To make four individual sized meringues I used three eggs whites and six heaped tablespoons of sugar. To make more, just use two tablespoons of white sugar per egg white.

In your stand mixer (woohoo, I can finally say that!) whisk the egg whites until they are fluffy and have doubled in size. Add the sugar slowly, one tablespoon at a time and keep whisking until the sugar is fully incorporated. To check, stop your mixer, use a clean metal spoon to take out a tiny amount of mixture and rub it between your fingers. You shouldn’t be able to feel a lot of sugar grains. The meringue mix should be glossy, and stand up in stiff peaks.

While you mixer is mixing, squeeze the juice from three blood oranges. Once your meringue is ready add a couple of teaspoons of juice to the meringue mix, using a clean metal spoon to fold it through. Put the rest of the juice aside. Be careful not to add too much juice, as the liquid will mess with the structure of your meringue. The orange flavour comes through very strong so you really don’t need much.

Spoon mounds of meringue onto a tray lined with baking paper, using two metal spoons for dolloping and shaping (if needed). Did I mention you will need lots of metal spoons for this?!

Turn the oven down to 90°C or 194°F and bake the meringues on the middle shelf for 90 minutes.

In the meantime, make your curd. This was the first time I have ever made curd! It turned out really well. I followed this recipe, but I substituted half of the passionfruit pulp for blood orange juice. To get a pip-less curd like mine, push the passion fruit pulp though a fine mesh sieve.

Once baked and cooled, serve the meringues with a generous heap of curd, and prepare to see them disappear in five seconds flat.

happy monday links | seven

happy easter | south by north

We are finishing up a glorious four day weekend here in Australia, Easter holidays are the best. It has been a perfect mix of wholesome outdoorsy-ness (Blue Mountains hike and a quick ocean dip), achieving practical things (a whole load of wedding stuff) and lazing about (fiiiinally watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix). Besides all of that, here are some things I have been clicking on recently:

– Beautiful watercolour rocks.
– The prettiest cake.
– I just can’t deal with how cute this bikini is.
– Fave instagram find this week.
– Oh hai.
– Love this colour palette.

Photo by me. Follow along on Pinterest to see more things I like. 

diy: how to weave a basket from paper

diy baskets | south by north

I’m going to put it out there, this is one of my favourite ever diy projects. I know I know, that’s a big call but I’m going with it. Why do I love this project so much? Because those baskets are just made from paper, plain, regular paper — how awesome is that?! There is something so satisfying about taking a simple material and turning it into a functional item using just your hands (and a wee bit of glue).
So, if you need a quick and easy easter display or just somewhere to store your bits and bobs, whip out a pad of paper and get weaving! Scroll down for the how to.

diy baskets | south by north

You will need:
– thin sheets of A3 paper cut in half long ways
– a vessel with straight sides such as a jam jar
– a stick of paper glue
– a kebab skewer
– spray paint (optional)

Starting in one corner, roll a piece of paper around the kebab skewer all the way to the diagonally opposite corner. Add a few dabs of glue to fix the corner in place and pull the kebab skewer out. You should have a long thin tube of paper. Do the same with all of your pieces, you will need around 30 tubes to make both baskets.

diy baskets | south by north

Take an even number of paper tubes and lattice them together. For the jar sized basket I started with six paper tubes, for the larger one I used eight. Take one of the outer tubes that is sitting under the lattice, and weave it over the tube next to it. Continue to weave over and under, splaying the tubes out as you go. When you are an inch or so from the end, dab some glue on the woven tube and slide a new paper tube on top. Continue to weave under and over, adding paper tubes as you go.
Once you have made a base the same size as your vessel, place the vessel on top and start to weave around it, pulling the paper tubes upwards tightly around the jar. At the top, take out the jar and weave the lose end into the basket discreetly. Tuck the ends that are sticking up either down the outside or inside, and trim if needed. Use spray paint to decorate as desired!

diy baskets | south by north

diy baskets | south by north

california: los angeles

los angeles | south by north

los angeles | south by north

los angeles | south by north

los angeles | south by north

los angeles | south by north

los angeles | south by north

I realised that I totally skipped over our short time in LA and forgot to post about it! Here are some highlights. (Also, I feel like I have to tell you that we saw real-life Kanye in the flesh in a restaurant. I think I would have died if Kim was there too)

cute cactuses on the street / exploring echo park / the line hotel / lunch at commissary / coolifornia / best ever breakfast in bed

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

ice cream series: lemon drizzle ice cream cake

lemon drizzle ice cream cake | south by north

Ok, we are officially taking this ice cream thing to the next level.  Last time pie, this time, CAKE. My stomach and Dave are both happy about this turn of events.

This time I had a hankering for a classic lemon drizzle but wanted to put a frozen spin on it. My first thoughts were to incorporate lemon sorbet, but so far I have not been overly successful with sorbet, plus all of the lemon flavour should really be in the cake. I settled on a poppyseed ice cream filler, sandwiched between two layers of lemon cake, with a satisfyingly tangy/sweet lemon drizzle icing. This cakey sandwich thing is the perfect size for two if you want to spend an evening wedged into the sofa like a sealion, unable to move because so full (except to hit ‘yes I’m still here’ on Netflix) – sounds great to me. Scroll down for the recipe.

lemon drizzle ice cream cake | south by north

lemon drizzle ice cream cake | south by north

lemon drizzle ice cream cake | south by north

lemon drizzle ice cream cake | south by north

The cake.

For the lemon cake, you can use a tried and tested recipe – or follow this one like I did. I won’t write it out here because I didn’t make it up. Although I did have to replace almond meal with hazelnut meal at the last minute because that is all I had in the cupboard, and it still turned out great! You will need to bake this in a shallow rectangular tin, so the baking time will be significantly reduced. I left mine in for about 35 mins instead on 55.
If you choose a different recipe make sure it has a good amount of sugar in it to keep the cake nice and soft when it is frozen.

The poppyseeed ice cream.

You will need:
– 300ml heavy cream
– 1 cup of sugar
– packet of poppyseeds
– 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
– skim milk powder

Heat the cream and sugar over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Whisk through the vanilla and skimmed milk powder. Once combined, store in the fridge til cool.
Churn the mix according to your ice cream maker and once it starts to get thick, add the poppyseeds a tablespoon at a time, around 5 tablespoons in total. The churning will mix them through.

The drizzle.

Easy peasy. Three table spoons of lemon juice mixed with a load of sieved icing sugar over a very gentle heat, until you get a thick but runny consistency. The icing should be slightly warm, not hot.

Assembly.

Take your ice cream out of the freezer to soften a bit. Cut the cooled cake in half, and spoon ice cream on top of one half, pressing and smoothing it with a palette knife. Layer the other half of the cake on top, don’t worry if it is dripping down the sides! Wrap the whole thing tightly in clingfilm and pop back in the freezer.
Once the ice cream has thoroughly refrozen (about 24 hours), remove the cake from the freezer and slice off the edges with a sharp knife, taking as little as possible. This should reveal the perfect layers underneath.
To serve, remove from the freezer around 15 mins beforehand and poke a few holes in the top with a skewer. Right before serving pour the drizzle over the cake and let it drip down the sides.

lemon drizzle ice cream cake | south by north

almost hitched: omg two weddings!

let's get married | south by north

I haven’t spoken much on here about my upcoming weddings to Dave (more about the multiple celebrations in a sec), mainly because it has come around so quickly – we are roughly three months out – and secondly because I didn’t have a whole lot to say until now. With the big days so close, it feels like a good time to share and I will be posting a few more times as we get closer.

Today, I want to talk to you guys about why we are having two weddings (yes really!), and a few of the things I have learnt when planning. If you are thinking of having two weddings to accommodate far-away family then hopefully this post will help you decide. It’s totally not as hard as everyone wants you to believe!

A bit of background. 

Dave proposed on my birthday last June, and we straight away decided to wait a year for the wedding – this was mainly because we wanted to honeymoon in Europe during their summertime. The second thing we decided is that we were going to have TWO WEDDINGS. Lot’s of people recoil in horror when I tell them this. Some think it sounds super stressful, and others just think I am being a princess. The reason we are doing this is that while we live in Australia near all of Dave’s friends and family, all of mine (besides my lovely Sydney friends) are in the UK. If we are flying to Europe for a honeymoon anyway, why not have a second celebration in London so that all of my loved ones can be included? We did a few sums, and decided that we could make this work if we kept both celebrations pretty low key, which luckily is our style anyway.

First, a word abut budget, as I feel like that is a major cause of stress when it comes to weddings. Now let me be straight up, I am not going to talk about how much we are spending as I think that is a very personal thing, but what I will say is this; you know that sickening number that is apparently the ‘average cost of a wedding’? We are doing two for less than that. It’s totally possible. We are still spending a bit more than originally anticipated, because weddings are crazy, but on the whole we have stuck to our budgets.

save the date | south by north

The weddings.

Our wedding in Australia is going to be in the Blue Mountains in a gorgeous cabin with the ceremony on site – hopefully outdoors. It will be winter time, so think roaring fireplace, native flowers and lots of delicious food. Roughly 50-60 guests.

The wedding in London will start with a vow renewal ceremony, followed by a journey on a vintage London bus to the reception, which will take place in a cute and colourful pub near where we used to live. Roughly 25 guests.

What we have learnt while planning two weddings.

Be realistic, aka you can’t have everything. This is something that we all practice in everyday life: I would like to eat all the cake but I would also like a toned butt – not realistic. Eat some of the cake and go to the gym. Viola. Easy. The wedding gods (Pinterest) would like you to believe that you not only can have everything, but if you don’t then your wedding is somehow failing. This, quite frankly, is bollocks. When planning two weddings, or even one, being realistic about what you can afford and organise whilst maintaining sanity is so important.
We are having a sit down meal for our wedding in Australia, for us that means a sit down meal is out of budget for London, and that is totally fine. Both weddings are still going to be awesome! Likewise our venue in Australia needs a lot of work from us to decorate beforehand – that’s cool as we live close by and we have hired it from the night before. Plus I enjoy doing that stuff and am actually really looking forward to the decorating part. While we are in London I want to spend as much time as possible with my friends and family, so we have chosen a pub that is colourful and pretty and needs minimal decorations. Realistically we just can’t put the same time and effort into it as we can in Australia, not only because of distance and time but we really want to have a relaxed, stress-free time in London. Accepting that from the beginning has made planning so much easier.

Keep things different. Two weddings, two guest lists, two ceremonies, two dresses, two receptions. Yikes. Our weddings are one week apart, and the last thing we wanted was to feel like we are repeating ourselves. It was also important for us to make sure that the wedding in London was just as special, even though it is coming second.
There are a few ways we have (hopefully!) done this by keeping the style of the days different. Sit down meal vs standing buffet reception, mountains vs city, muted natural colours vs bright summery colours. The other great thing about this is it means in a roundabout way I actually have to make less decisions. Can’t decide between a long and a short dress? No worries, I’ll have one of each thanks! While slightly overwhelming at first, it has been really fun to think of the ways we can make each day special and a reflection of the location and us. I am honestly looking forward to both of them equally.

I’d love to know your thoughts on planning a wedding, did you do something a bit different to the usual? Does it get totally nuts in the last couple of months?? I have the fear!

Over the next few weeks I will be posting about some of the DIYs we have planned, two dresses (!) and talking about wedding stress.

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 northpeach and ginger ice cream pie | south by north