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Neither follow the sheep, nor devour them. 

Little life - something close to serenity

Lila Wolff

It's been an odd week here, nothing exceptional going on mostly trying to catch up on all the sleep I missed last weekend. But it's been a bit wonderful even while I've been exhausted. 

Delicious minty fresh cakes eaten, not cross buns made devoured and made again,  just enough sunshine to enjoy the farmer's market yet still cool enough to light the fire, which really is meditatively beautiful.

How was your week?  Have you been enjoying the long weekend?

  1. Beaters from our Minty fresh celebration cake
  2. Eggs
  3. Running along the river on a beautiful morning
  4. Swallows taking a rest
  5. Daddy hugs are the best
  6. The river looking unusually blue

Paralysis Tic

Lila Wolff

I've been writing and writing since I got home from the Voices of 2014 launch, and although I've published every day since you wouldn't know the half of what I've written because when it comes to hitting publish all of a sudden I'm paralysed.

Somehow I feel watched in a way that I've never felt the entire (almost) five years that I've been blogging, longer if you count the mournful poetry I used to write on MySpace.  It's such a strange paradox that I can sit here ready to thrust the minutiae of my mind out into the world yet the thought that someone is out there reading, well it isn't real.  In a way that's because I can count many of my readers as friends, that's right stick around here for any length of time and you'll be absorbed into my Little life.

This little blog started out as a wedding blog, an outlet for my interests, fears and frustrations while I planned and re-planned our wedding.  It morphed and changed into whatever you call this space now.  It's brought me some gorgeous friends and developed a passion for documenting that I had no idea existed within me.  It's also brought with it moments of self doubt and times where comparison sucked the soul out of me, when I wasn't sure if this was for me.

Except of course when you're a Blogger with a capital B, it's under your skin and you wouldn't know how to stop if you tried.  It's an aspect of my existence as intrinsic as the offline interactions that I have every day, I'm pretty sure stopping would make me mourn as much as losing a friend,  or several really. There are lives I am privileged to be a part of only because of this little space, they've turned me away from being incredibly cynical about people to really loving what wonderfully strange and complex things we humans are.

While I've been busy these last years creating this space here it has been slowly working and creating change in me. For the longest part of my life when I walked into a room I would know 'these are not my people' the places where I felt free to be myself were rare.  But to walk into this virtual room and be exactly as I am, I know that those who stay and become part of this space and my story are my people. As my blog has grown so has my joy in meeting and getting to know new people, the anxiety that I do not fit has slowly become irrelevant.  The differences between all of us are celebrated in a way in the blogging world that has afforded me the freedom to be myself just as I am and to let go of the concern of being judged.

So I'm not going to be sharing my clunky recap of last weekends events, suffice to say they were wonderful, eye opening and thoroughly exhausting. But sharing a blow by blow account of my late flights and gurgling anxious stomach, meeting awesome people, being inspired and sure of myself, and looking pretty hot at the cocktail party (if I do say so myself), just isn't what needs to be said right now. 

Top Left: Flick, Sam, Romana, Pip and me.  Top Right:  Josepha, Me, Kirsten, Alex and Kayte.

Bottom Left:  Me, Kristie, Kirsten and Josepha. Bottom Right: Bron and I.

All of that wonderful though it is/was is not why I'm here at this little space. Even the absolutely amazing thrill that being a part of Kidspot Voices of 2014 TOP 30!!! Personal and Parenting category, which is beyond surprising and so so cool, is not why this little space exists.

I'm here because blogging has turned me from a cranky cynic shouting 'Get off  my lawn' to that friendly chick who bakes pie and says 'Howdy Neighbour, come on in'.  Remembering this gift that blogging has given me releases me from the paralysis and I feel free to press publish again.

Why don't you come on in and share your stories with me...

Little Moment - sixteen / 52 Hoppy Easter

Lila Wolff

The ears are still going strong, so how could I resist popping her in them?

It's been a bit of a rough time, the lead up to Easter always is with the increase in telling her no and her frustration building.  So the happy little face in the second shot is especially welcome right now, even if out of focus.

Hope you and yours have a safe and happy Easter.

See previous years here and here.

Not cross buns

Lila Wolff

Each Easter I increasingly feel like ditching the whole holiday and going somewhere where there are no supermarkets, but lets face it that would mean disappearing from boxing day until Easter is over!

I seem to spend a lot of time shepherding Eve away from the brightly coloured mounds of Easter offerings, and dodging gigantic bunnies handing out seemingly harmless treats.  I know Easter is fun for the vast majority of people but quite honestly am sick to death of hearing myself say 'I'm sorry honey you can't have that it will make your tummy angry'. Eve to her credit is very gracious about it, which breaks the heart just a tiny bit.

Because of allergies and sensitivities Easter seems to be increasingly frustrating each year and I find myself swinging back and forth between finding ways around the food issues and just feeling really irritated by the whole holiday and the pressure to celebrate.

But as with all of our challenges and changes I eventually get over myself and put my mind and hands to working out our own solution. I still haven't solved the Easter egg dilemma but for now we can bring back some of the food fun with our dairy and preservative free Not Cross Buns. So named because they won't make Eve's tummy cross when she eats them, to further honour that idea I've marked them with smiley faces instead of crosses.

 

Not cross buns - dairy and preservative free hot cross buns

not cross buns dairy free hot cross buns

Ingredients:

Buns

2 teaspoons dried yeast
500g plain flour
90g dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pink salt flakes
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
300ml soy milk
60g nuttelex
1 large egg
150g sultanas

Faces

2 tablespoons self raising flour
2 tablespoons cold water

Glaze

1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
150ml boiling water

Method:

Whisk together yeast, flour, sugar, salt and spices until thoroughly combined.

Not cross buns dairy free hot cross buns

Put soy in a little saucepan over a low heat, melt nuttelex into it.
Separately, beat the egg.
Using a dough hook on your mixer at a low speed add flour mixture, then soy milk / nuttelex mixture and then egg.
Mix well to form a dough. Add the sultanas and mix until just through.

Not cross buns dairy free hot cross buns

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until it feels smooth and is no longer sticky.

not cross buns dairy free hot cross buns

 Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to prove for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

not cross buns dairy free hot cross buns

Punch down the dough and then separate it into 12 equal portions.
Place the buns close together on a lightly greased baking tray. Cover and allow to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size and very light.

not cross buns dairy free hot cross buns

Preheat oven to 220°C.

To make the faces, mix the flour and water thoroughly to form a thick paste.

Spoon into a zip-lock bag, cut a little hole out of the corner of the bag and use it to pipe smiley faces top of the buns.

not cross buns dairy free hot cross buns

Bake the topped buns for 15–20 minutes.
To make the glaze, mix together all ingredients, dissolving the sugar in the boiling water. Brush glaze over the buns, while still hot.

not cross buns dairy free hot cross buns

Little craft - Pinecone bunnies

Lila Wolff

I hadn't really planned an Easter craft here as aren't really doing Easter around these parts, but on the walk home yesterday Eve spotted some pinecones and I had the spark of an idea.

The result is a simple toddler craft, that is a cute way to occupy chubby little hands for a short while this long weekend, and possibly take their mind off the excess of chocolate that abounds right now!

Pinecone Bunnies

You'll need:

pinecone bunny toddler craft
  • Pipecleaners
  • Pom poms
  • Googly eyes
  • Craft glue
  • Pinecones
  • Scissors
  • Empty toilet rolls (optional)

First have your lovely assistant squeeze glue onto a pom pom and stick it to the lower back of a pinecone, to make a bunny tail.

They can then carefully inspect that it has stuck.

pinecone bunny toddler craft

This is where the toilet rolls come in handy you can pop your bunny-cones in them between each stage while the glue dries.

pinecone bunny toddler craft

While the tails are drying prepare the bunny ears.

Take two pipe cleaners and make a small loop in one end. Cut to length and then twist at the bottom so that the ear shape holds together.

Next prepare your whiskers.  Cut three short lengths of pipe cleaner and then twist one around the middle of other two, in order to secure them together.

Have your toddler take a small pom pom and the craft glue and glue a 'nose' to the middle of your newly created whiskers.

Next squeeze glue into the top of the pinecone and wedge the ears in.  If your toddler is going to do this part I suggest firmly holding the pinecone for them as Eve says 'it's a bit tricky for little fingers!'

Then add a few more dots of glue and have your toddler push the whiskers and nose on.  You may need to help with this as it is also fiddly.

Dot two more bits of glue on the base of the ears and have your little one put a googly eye on each.

Little hands will more than likely need a good wipe down to get all the craft glue off!

Put your pinecone bunny in a safe place to finish drying.

pinecone bunny toddler craft

Now he's free to decorate your home, for a simply hoppy easter.

pinecone bunny toddler craft

A muse (+) me - three

Lila Wolff

A muse (+) me = an inspiring artist and a little work from me. 

a Muse - Hsiao-Ron Cheng

  1. November, digital painting (2012)
  2. Fade away, pencil on paper (2012)
  3. Sticky girl, digital painting (2012)

All images from here

(+) Me

Artist style study - ink and acrylic on paper L. Wolff

Artist style study - ink and acrylic on paper L. Wolff

Meatless Monday - Minty Fresh

Lila Wolff

Ironically* as I lay here getting this post ready for you I feel anything but minty fresh. I've spent the weekend in a rush of early morning flights, surviving on black coffee and mints.  I am totally wiped out and has left me feeling a bit ancient. But it has been incredibly an fun and exciting time as I headed down to the Kidspot Voices of 2014 voices launch party where it was announced that I'm in the top 30 Personal and Parenting blogs this year, with some other bloggers that I absolutely adore.  I really could not be more honoured to have made it in to the top 30, it's a huge surprise and a real boost that makes me want to work even harder to make this a place you all keep loving and coming back to.  Because that's what I love most about blogging, getting to know and chat to all of you fabulous people through it!

While I try to stick to meals rather than baking for Meatless Monday this week I just had to celebrate, I am so excited to not only have been nominated in the first place but to be in the top 30 of my category is absolutely worthy of a celebratory cake.

Now sadly because I am beyond exhausted I have not managed to make the prettiest version of this cake possible and for that I apologise, I do absolutely promise that what it lacks in polish it more than makes up for in it's minty fresh, preservative, colour and dairy free interpretation of the classic mint slice biscuit.

Minty Fresh - Mint slice cake

A Lila Wolff original

Dairy free mint slice cake

Ingredients

Cake

1/2 cup nuttelex
1 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 large eggs
1 cups soy milk
1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup Cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Fresh mint filling

3 tablespoons nuttelex
1 tablespoon coconut oil liquified
1/3 loosely packed cup mint
1/3 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups pure icing sugar

Not quite ganache coating

100g Lindt excellence 70% cocoa
1/2 cup coconut cream - I do not shake the coconut milk but instead skim the thick cream from the top.
1 dessert spoon nuttelex
2 cups icing sugar

Method:

First prepare cake.

Preheat oven to 175c

Butter and lightly flour two 20cm round cake pans.
In a large bowl, at medium speed cream the nuttelex and sugars, beat until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and beat until combined.
In a separate bowl or cup add the apple cider vinegar to the soy milk and allow to thicken
Change to a low speed on your mixer / beaters.

Mint slice cake


Add the soy mixture and vanilla to the nuttelex and sugars.  The mixture will look curdled do not worry.
then add liquified coconut oil.
Now add flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Mix until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared round pans. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool cake in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto cake rack to cool completely.  Be aware that the cake is quite soft and crumbly, you will need to take care when removing from the pan not to break it apart.
Allow to cool thoroughly before filling and icing.

Prepare filling

Roughly chop or shred mint leaves, place in french press or bowl.
Pour boiling water over mint leaves and leave to steep for 30 minutes.

Mint slice cake

Place nuttelex and coconut oil in mixing bowl, add icing sugar and mix until light and fluffy.
Press the mint infusion, or if using a bowl strain liquid.  
Keep half the mint infusion and dispose of leaves and remaining half.
With mixer running drizzle the mint infusion into icing mixture.
Mix until just blended. Refrigerate for filling to firm up, it may separate slightly don't worry it won't be noticeable when the cake is complete.

Spread over cooled cake base layer, and place second layer on top.
 

Prepare not quite ganache

In a small saucepan over a low heat melt nuttelex.
Stir in coconut cream with wooden spoon and continue to stir until warmed through.
Break up chocolate into small chunks and add to pot. Keep on a low temp, do not boil.
Stir until chocolate has melted and ingredients are combined.
Do not worry if the mixture seizes at this point.

Mint slice cake

Remove from heat and place in mixing bowl. With mixer on low add icing sugar 1/2 a cup at a time, scraping the bowl down between additions.
Final mix should be thoroughly blended and glossy.

Pour over cake and use a hot palette knife to spread over top and to coat sides.

Best served: For breakfast because cake for breakfast is one of the perks of being an adult!

mint slice cake

Click here for printable recipe


*Is  that irony? I'm not sure I am too tired to really get irony today.