Currently

Listening: to the rain on the tin roof of my new place.
Planning:  a movie with friends tonight; the Rio trip in a few months.
Eating: the last of the figs I pinched from Hahndorf.
Drinking:  ‘the dumping of dreams’ – a gift from a fellow tea drinker with a sense of humour.
Smelling: my found goods market candle
Wearing:  cosy bunny slippers
Loving:  days off, the Adelaide hills in Autumn, cheeky foals, my battered iphone camera.
Feeling: grounded

Thinking: how the universe has a way of coming up with the goods when you slow down, take a step back, and let it.

 

foals

 

Adelaide Hills

figs

IMG_1788

 

IMG_1914

#DearMe

So, International Women’s Day has been and gone, and (as usual) I’m a little late to the party. Thanks to staying home with a fever and the wonders of the internet though, I’ve managed to catch up on the week’s happenings. Yes, we’ve come a long way, but I am so glad that people are sharing and discussing the issues still faced by women.

In the midst of all this ibuprofen fuelled internet trawling research, I had a look at YouTube’s #DearMe campaign and a bunch of responses to it from other bloggers. It all ties in with something I’ve had brewing in the back of my head for a while now, so here it is:

climb those mountains

Climb those mountains

 

Dear Little L,

Honey, you aren’t crazy. You don’t think too much. You are not overreacting. Stop questioning if your perception of reality is as distorted as he says it is – as they have all said it is – and take a step back for a minute. Notice how calling you crazy is a really effective way of shutting down conversations they don’t want to have, emotions they don’t want to acknowledge?

You are not crazy. You are being manipulated.

You won’t figure it out for a really, really long time, and you’ll wonder why your famous ‘gut feeling’ let you down. You’ll wonder how you let it happen over and over again out of stubborness, losing parts of yourself each time the stitches are pulled out too soon. Your determination is unequalled, girl, and it will hurt you as much as it helps. Eventually he’ll come around. He’ll have moulded you into something quiet and complacent, something he can love, and you’ll win him over.

It’ll take all of five minutes until you realise the “you” he’s finally into isn’t you at all. You’ll walk out of there and a week later, you’ll be onto bigger and better things.

I guess you had to learn that one the hard way.

By now you’ve realised how much of a lie you were sold by the education system. You got ripped off just like, well, everyone else you know, so there’s no need to feel stupid. There was nobody there to tell you that you’re smart enough to do without the debt and the lectures and just learn shit on your own – the only “advice” even younger you was given was that uni was your ticket out of small town misery. Yes, you’re wasting time, money and energy, and you won’t remember a THING twelve months down the track – I speak from experience here! So give up. It’s okay. You will still manage to cruise through the remainder of your degree with enviable grades, only this time with much less undeservedly given fucks. That bit of paper you earned will do little for you, but the experiences you had and the people you met there will. They, alone, are worth it.

Don’t waste too much energy on that internship either – it already cost you your job, and you’re going to really struggle for a while because of it. You’ll come out of it exhausted, but okay, I promise. Maybe spend a little less money on those late-night junk food runs, and you’ll be a lot better off in more ways than one.

Would you believe me if I told you that in a year’s time, you’ll be holding down a decently salaried leadership role at an Argentinean restaurant and saving enough that you haven’t worried about money for months? And working with horses again on your days off – even sometimes riding? Yeah – that part of you isn’t over, it never will be. And planning a trip to Rio to go visit that bigger and better thing?

Yep.

You’ve always had a knack of getting things to pull through, and this time it’s no exception. Just let go of all the crap everyone else piles onto you. Cut out the things that aren’t letting you be you, and be frank about what you want and what you’re about.

All of this good stuff will start unfolding if you stop getting in your own way and just LET it.

Love,

Little L.

Confessions of a Kindle Convert

If I were a Disney Princess, I would have been Belle: independent brunette, poor country town, quirky dinner parties – even right down to the palomino pony. And, obviously, a very important trait shared by Little L and Belle was our love for books. And more books. Lots of books. ALL the books.

Little L Belle

 See what I mean?

I used to dream of living rooms with floor-to-ceiling bookcases and a ladder on wheels. I’d complain to friends that I hated Uni for making reading a chore, and for replacing “proper books” with hard-to-navagate electronic databases. Despite never having much time, I still managed to fill two entire IKEA bookcases during my undergrad – and accidentally started a casual library operation out of our house when friends began donating, borrowing and swapping. I would travel with two bags – one for holiday reading material, and one for everything else. Seriously – that’s what the carry-on baggage allowance is for, right?

So I surprised myself as much as anyone when I bought a Kindle, having seen solo customers at the restaurant so absorbed in their e-books that they let their meals go cold. We were about to head off on a beachy road trip (more later) with only minimal baggage, and the idea of lugging a whole bag of books around this time just seemed like too much hard work. So, feeling like the biggest millennial hypocrite hipster on the planet, I decided to give one of those newfangled “e-readers” a try.

And?

I’ve gotten rid of those two bookshelves and I’m NEVER looking back.

In a couple of months, I’ve read about double what I normally would – mainly because the Kindle slips into my handbag so damn easily. I never have to worry about it being too heavy or getting the pages bent. The battery life is awesome, and though I generally stick to reading one thing at a time, I like having the option to switch if the mood strikes. I’ve tested it out in all kinds of light conditions and have never encountered a problem so far, not even at the beach at midday or in total darkness while my boyfriend was asleep next to me. And out of those two whole bookshelves, there are only a couple of books which I can’t replace with electronic versions – a couple of coffee-table books, one about dressage training, and an independent publication… in Spanish.

I never, ever thought I would think this, let alone say it or post it online, but here I am.

I’m giving up on books. At worst, a home library just sits around collecting dust and cluttering up your space. At best, books are a visual showcase of our interests and how educated/cultured/intelligent we wish to portray ourselves to guests. Honestly though? I have nothing to prove, and these days I would rather save the space and enjoy the portability. 

kindle

 

I bought a Kindle Paperwhite because you can adjust the backlights to suit different conditions, and because it’s designed specifically for reading, as opposed to the Kindle Fire which is more like a tablet.The Paperwhite connects to Wifi so you can download books on the go, and I haven’t yet encountered a problem with it – not even in the mall where my phone struggles to pick up the signal. They retail for about $160AU, and then the Amazon books tend to be around $10-$15 – not exactly as frugal as the local Oxfam bookshop, but again – no clutter. I seriously recommend any fellow Belles to consider making the switch.

Love, Little L

Oh, Fudge

I know, I know, what happened to the healthy recipes I started out with? I’ve got more coming, I promise! But since this blog was created in the spirit of passing things on that I find helpful, I can’t not post this recipe. Fudge is a crowd pleaser, plain and simple, and this one’s so easy to pull together at the last minute – as in, when you find out about a bake sale fundraiser with less than 24 hours notice, two shifts at two jobs to get through, and an entire week’s worth of washing, cleaning and grocery shopping to do.

Nigella friggin’ who?

Even better than the convenience of this recipe is how much people love it. It’s made many appearances at parties, beach bonfires and fundraisers over the years. My friend Marc still talks about that time I made some for his birthday, and the leftover bits around the edges from my latest batch were popular enough that when my boyfriend went to have another piece, he discovered his housemates had polished off the lot overnight. Even the bus driver on my way over there asked for seconds!

So no, it’s not healthy or gourmet or even really wholesomely home-made. But there’s a time and a place for this fudge, and it works.

Chocolate Fuge

Make a meal of it:

– 500 grams chocolate (I use Cadbury’s 70% Old Gold, because there’s usually a two-for-one deal on it at the supermarket)
– 1 tin (395 grams) condensed milk
– 2 tbsp butter

Optional:

Nuts, spices, lollies, whatever you can think of to jazz it up a bit! I usually opt for roast almonds and a chili chai spice blend (cinnamon, cloves, allspice and cayenne – all to taste.)

1. Over low heat in a saucepan, melt the base ingredients together. I should probably advise to place the saucepan inside another frying pan with some water to keep the chocolate from burning, but to be honest I never bother with that myself. I’m just careful not to let it get too hot and to stir constantly.
2. Once you have a big, melted ball in the saucepan, stir in the extra spices/nuts/lollies.
3. Spread out onto a large plate or baking dish, lined with baking paper.
4. Poke and prod until you have a more or less flat slab of fudge. Some of the butter may creep to the top during this process – dab it off with some paper towel if you need to.
5. Cover and allow to set in the fridge overnight.

The fudge is melt-proof throughout most of the year, with the exception of Adelaide summers when it’s best stored in the fridge. You can make harder or softer versions by adjusting the condensed milk : chocolate ratio.

oh fudge

Bake Sale Bonus: Carousel cupcakes! I was making the fudge for a fundraiser for the horse shelter I volunteer for, so naturally some horsey-themed treats also had to be created! This was a cute idea that proved very popular with the younger ones and sold fast (even though they were just boring vanilla cupcakes).

carousel cupcake

Alfajores de Maicena

 

Alfajores are so many things to me that really I need a whole other post to bang on about it. Maybe one day I’ll find the words and write it, but for now all you need to know is that these innocent looking biscuits are, well, not so innocent. They’re close to my heart. We have history. It’s a long story.

They’re made with love and all cliches aside, I swear it’s the ultimate secret ingredient.

Note: this recipe makes Argentinean (speficially, Mendozan) alfajores. Other provinces of Argentina have slightly different variations, as do Chile and Peru. They’re all delicious.

alfajores

Make a meal of it:

200g butter, softened
200g plain flour
300g corn flour (this is the ‘maicena’ part)
1/2 tsp bicarb
2 tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
3 yolks
1 glug cognac, or whatever’s handy. Rum works fine.
1-2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp lemon rind, grated
Dash of milk
Dulce de leche and shreded coconut, for filling.

  • Combine the wet ingredients, including butter, and add to the dry.
  • Mix and knead everything into a firm dough – usually I have to add a dash or two of milk to get the right consistency – but be careful because too sticky and they’ll be impossible to roll.
  • Refrigerate the slab of biscuit dough for 15 minutes or so, then take handfuls and flatten with a rolling pin until about 3mm thick.
  • Cut into circles using a wine or champagne class.
  • Bake till cooked, but not quite golden-brown. Alfajores have a very unique texture (which is what makes them lovely) and if you make them too crisp then they’ll just break when you try to sandwich them together. Don’t panic if they seem a little soft still, after they cool down they tend to crisp up more than you’d expect. I never understood chemistry but the melt-in-your-mouth thing must not be messed with!
  • Once cool, sandwich them oreo-style with dulce de leche and roll in shredded coconut.
  • Like most biscuits, they’re best when left in a tin overnight first.

alfajoresmaicena

Greek “Pear” Biscuits

 

I discovered these at a distant relative (I think?)’s Big Fat Greek Wedding. Or rather, at the pre-wedding, mother-of-the-bride-hosted Big Fat Greek Feast. It’s probably bad karma or bad superstition to make these for normal occasions, but I do it frequently and so far I haven’t been struck by lightning or anything. They’re pretty, subtly flavoured, quick to make and easy to transport. They’re not knock-your-socks-off amazing, but it’s a good recipe to have on hand for when you want to be polite and bring something along, but not break the bank or stay up all night slaving in the kitchen. The rose flavour tends to get people talking, too. Just.. y’know… don’t put Windex on them.

pear-biscuit

Make a meal of it:

3 cups almond meal
1/2 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup semolina
3tsp or so rose syrup (rose water or rose flavouring will also do)
3 egg whites
Cloves and icing sugar

1. Whisk the egg whites till frothy, but not peaking.
2. Add all the ingredients together (minus cloves and icing sugar), mix well. You should have a sweet, sticky ball of dough.
3. Grab tablespoon sized chunks and shape them into ‘pears’, pushing a whole clove in the top to form the stem.
4. Bake for 15-20minsuntil crisp, but not burning on the top. They’ll still be a bit soft on the inside, but shouldn’t be gooey.
5. Dust with icing sugar while warm and presto!

Note: I store these in the fridge just to be on the safe side.

pear-bisctuit2