life lately (and blogiversary number two)

eleanorblog2It’s been a busy week. Or rather, a ridiculous fortnight. Long work days, high stress, lots of autumn rain and late night milk runs in the dark. However, in the midst of all that, this little blog passed its second blogiversary on 21st May, 2014. Yes, number two.

Two years. That’s twenty four months of recipe notes, hastily snapped photographs, butter-smeared camera lenses and foodie dialogue with those whom I’m now privileged to call friends. I can hardly believe it, but yes… this blog survived its infancy. And the journey has been rather good.

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So. I guess it’s customary for the blogiversary celebrant to write a bit of an update on the blog’s evolution and other ‘happenings’ over the past twelve months. I wrote a rather extended postย last year, loaded with growth points and facts about my humble (and somewhat ignorant) beginnings.

Well, this year will be a little different. In my ‘old age’, sunny enthusiasm for extended explanations has somewhat waned (I do now have a toddler blog, after all. Exhaustion is unavoidable). However, I do want to say a couple of thank-you’s and share some dot points about what will be happening for myself and Aaron as we travel into the tail end of 2014. Read on, amigos.

A huge thanks to:

  • All of you who have been following this blog since its first humble incarnation. Your comments, kind words and tips on the blog and via social media (facebook, instagram and twitter) make all of the late nights and frustrations seem worthwhile.
  • My family and friends for putting up with my food styling, photo snapping and fussing around meal times. I love you hugely.
  • The (rather large) handful of bloggers who have become beautiful friends whom I’m yet to meet. Your notes and internet hugs are always treasured.

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A few snippets of news:

  • I now have a second blog, Second-Hand Stories, which has been well-intended but woefully neglected over the past few months. It’s got nothing to do with food (very far from it!) but if you’re interested, click here to read about the contents. I’m hoping to devote more time to it over the next six months.
  • In approximately five weeks, Aaron and I will be jetting off to the Northern Hemisphere for a few months (partly for work reasons and wholly for adventures). I’m uncertain as to the availability of internet access in different places, so please understand if the frequency of my posts and other commenting seems to drop.
  • Leading on from the previous dot point, if any of you are interested in guest posting on the Mess between July and possibly November 2014, let me know via private message on facebook or twitter. Depending upon the volume of willing guest posters (ha! Or lack thereof…) I may not require every offer but I would love hear from you.

Facts and Stats:

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So, that’s it. Another blogging year completed! I cannot wait to see what the next year holds… a huge thanks to all of you for being on the journey with me.

Laura xo

*Thanks to my gorgeous friends Em and Pete for letting me use the above picture of their daughter in the opening shot. I love it. All other shots are from my Instagram account.

happy blogiversary to me

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been one year and three days since I published my first recipe post on WordPress.com. On 21st May 2012, my recipe for Frangipane Tart with Rhubarb Pomegranate Compote and Pistachio Crumble was launched into cyberspace with photography (including editing) by my husband, Aaron and food styling, recipe prep and text by yours truly. It attracted six comments; 50% were responses from me and 30% were from friends and family. The last comment arrived much later, written by Azita from Fig and Quince. I believe we were discussing uses for pomegranates after Azita posted a delicious recipe series on this unique fruit, including instructions to make homemade Roeโ€™beh Anรขr (Pomegranate molasses). And that was it. We were blogging friends… which later turned into blogging sisters. I love how the medium of blogging crosses cultural boundaries, language barriers, distances and time zones seamlessly. In the past year, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of communicating with amazing cooks, writers and photographers around the world. I’ve learned much, shared much and enjoyed every minute.

So, as this post commemorates the one-year-mark of my blogging career (if you can call it that!), I’m going to share a few growth points that have happened in the home (and brain) of Laura over the past twelve months. Here goes:

  • I’ve learned how to use Photoshop. Believe it or not, I had absolutely no idea about this miraculous program when my first post was launched one year ago. I never had any use for it (as I’m normally quite happy with my photographs) and to be honest, I only knew it existed through media reports of celebrity photos being ‘airbrushed’. However, in order to format, adjust and montage shots for publication, I had to learn. My teacher? The very patient, talented and loving Aaron (I think I learned fast). Since about post three, I’ve been photographing, editing and layering all of my own shots for every post. I’m pretty happy with my progress!
  • I’ve bought more kitchenware. Not sure if this is a positive or not, but I’ve become a little obsessed with obtaining small ramekins, vintage knives, shiny plates and bottles for food styling purposes. I’ve visited more charity stores (‘op-shops’ or ‘thrift stores’, depending upon where you’re from) in the past year than the previous ten years combined. It’s been huge amounts of fun.
  • I’ve absorbed about 2% of the world’s knowledge of HTML. HyperText Markup Language is freaking hard. Thank goodness WordPress does most of the hard work for us. With the assistance of HTML Dog and WordPress tutorials, I have learned a tiny bit though. A miniscule drop in the huge, complex HTML ocean. I’m hoping to learn more with time and persistence so that I can actually revamp this site and make it a little more customized. But, for now… I’ll refrain from further torturing my brain (ah, poetry!).
  • I’ve increased my nutritional knowledge. Through researching information for each post, I’ve actually learned a lot more about the nutritional qualities of many ingredients, including alternative flours, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds. It’s been hugely beneficial to our dietary intake; we now eat about 80% fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds (with the remaining 20% including meat, dairy, sugar and other carbohydrates). I can read your thoughts. Yes, I bake a lot of sweet goods! I do eat some of it, but the rest is gratefully shared… either at work, home or elsewhere.

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  • I’m gifted with superfluous garden and fridge products wherever I go. I mentioned this in my post for Indian Lime Pickle, but one of the benefits (and drawbacks) of being a food blogger is that people give you perishables. Lots of perishables. So far I’ve received homegrown limes, lemons, tomatoes, apples, a few red peppers, guavas, chillies, courgettes and bags of herbs. All fantastic (I actually get excited when I receive gifts like these; the ‘recipe development section’ of my brain goes haywire). I’ve also received half-finished bags of spinach, jars of half-finished pickles, limp supermarket herbs, Kraft String Cheese (Cheestiks, for Australians) that expired in 1996 (actually, this was really cool. They’d turned completely black and hard, and smelt like feet) and leftover bits of cheese. Sometimes cool, sometimes, uh… not. But, in saying this: any representatives of corporations or companies, if you want to give me stuff, I say YES. Especially if you work for the Hendricks gin factory. Please.
  • I feel like I have so much more to learn. The world of blogging is rich, multifaceted, humbling and inspiring. I read (or see, in terms of photography or art) so many people’s work and feel humbled at the level of skill, work and passion that’s gone into each and every post. I love the fact that I can learn pretty much anything I want to by clicking through to a particular blogger’s site. It’s amazing. It inspires me to become a better version of myself, both personally and in terms of blogging itself.

I intended to include my response to some recent awards I’ve been blessed with as part of this post, but… well, my verbal diarrhoea has flared up again. I’ll leave the awards post til next time.

I’m also working on a soon-to-be-completed recipe for sourdough, but you know what? My lovingly fed sourdough starter-baby (I named it ‘Glop’) died in the first Winter cold snap a couple of weeks ago. It now resembles a sad, thick jar of grey goop with a layer of liquid floating on the top. I mourned the loss of my starter with the beautiful Brydie from Cityhippyfarmgirl (my original sourdough teacher) and she’s offered to send me a carefully-packed portion of hers on Monday. I am certain that the bloggers are some of the best, most beautiful and generous people in the world. All of you remind me of that. Every single day.

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To end this post: a little story about last night’s dinner experience.

A few days ago, I purchased a large handful of chestnuts from my local farmer’s market. I’ve been eating chestnuts since I was a little girl; usually roasted at Christmastime, on an open fire at my grandparent’s house near the river Thames (in England). The smell, the crackle of the splitting skins, the beautiful, warm fragrant meat… every part of eating chestnuts revisits the six-year-old me. A time of fun, presents and minimal responsibility.

So, anyway; I squirreled this bag of chestnuts home, my breath fogging the cold air with puffs of excitement. They were stored in the fridge for two days before I fired up my oven to ‘roast’ them, in absence of an open fireplace. While the chestnuts roasted, I prepared a roast beetroot, fresh mint, goats cheese and walnut salad with lemon-infused oil. I heard a sound like gunfire… a clear, loud bang… and a rattle on the side of our old gas oven. Uh oh.

The oven door opened. The chestnuts were sizzling and fragrant, their shells cracking in the wafting heat. Tiny bits of exploded chestnut clung to the interior surface of the oven like soft white shrapnel. I lifted the tray out of the oven carefully and placed it on the cool hob.

Bang. I screamed. My face, hair and the tiled splash-back were peppered with tiny pieces of hot white chestnut. What an idiot. I placed a tea towel over the tray of chestnuts, annoyed at myself, before turning around. Another nut exploded behind me. It wasn’t restrained by the limp tea towel and sent more chestnut meat flying around the kitchen. I looked at my poor beetroot salad, which was now dusted with a fine white powder. No, not cocaine. Exploded chestnut.

About two minutes later, the chestnuts stopped sizzling and I breathed a sigh of relief. I went to the bathroom and started removing exploded chestnut from my hair, eyelashes, skin, cleavage (sorry to the male readers, but it’s true!) and nostrils. There’s a lot of meat in one tiny chestnut. I then cleaned the fine film of exploded chestnut off every surface in my kitchen. It covered a radius of about three metres. Once dry, exploded chestnut is quite hard to scrub off tiles.

I am now officially scared of roasted chestnuts. But, they were exceedingly tasty.

By the way, treatment for PCED (post-chestnut explosion disorder) included watching this video. It helped (watch it, amigos).

The end.

laurasun*thanks for sharing this blogging year with me!

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