Summer in a glass; Fruity 5 Seeds Cider Cup

There’s not much more refreshing than an icy cold, crisp apple cider on a balmy Sydney summer’s eve.

In my little nook of the world, as the city traffic noise starts to wane, the golden glow of dusk streams through my apartment windows, my fave tunes waft over the stereo speakers, and my little shadow Harley the cavoodle excitedly follows my every move, it’s time for a refreshing cocktail. Nothing too complex; just good ingredients, and something with a clean & refreshing taste.

5 Seeds have released a new lower sugar cider, just in time for Aussie summer!

With the same clean, crisp apple taste, 5 Seeds Lower Sugar Cider is just as refreshing and satisfying as their other ciders, but with less sugar.

I’ve got an idea to pimp it up a little; adding vodka as it’s neutral flavour won’t interrupt the apple cider, and some summer fruit to compliment the apple theme and get it looking colourful in mason jars.

Ingredients

  • 5 Seeds Lower Sugar Cider; bottle per person
  • your fave vodka; 30ml per person
  • cubes of ice

summer fruit;

  • ripe mango, thinly sliced
  • plump passionfruit
  • slices of juicy watermelon
  • fat, round strawberries
  • green pear, sliced into wedges
  • white nectarine, sliced
  • crisp apple, sliced thin for the cup and thicker for garnish
  • ribbons of cucumber
  • sprigs of fragrant mint

Method

  • in a mason jar or other glass, place ice, pour vodka, layer fruit then top with the sparkling 5 Seeds Lower Sugar Cider
  • garnish with mint, colourful stirrers threaded with apple & a festive straw
  • serve*

*best shared with a lover or friend overlooking the sunset

outtakes with Harley the cavoodle:

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summer prawn cups

After the first couple of weeks of summer being a total let down of rain and jumper weather, Sydney has finally been slapped in the face by the summer we know and love! High-30-degrees and sunshine!

The summer weather always makes me crave seafood, so over the weekend when I was planning a quick casual dinner for an impromptu catch up with friends, I decided to do a super easy, low fuss but totally delicious take on the Prawn Cocktail (or Shrimp Cocktail for all my Northern Hemisphere mates).

Ingredients

  • fresh prawns (I use large Australian Tiger Prawns); 3-4 per person
  • iceberg or cos lettuce, shredded
  • fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • fresh avocado; quarter per person, sliced evenly
  • cocktail sauce; I use store bought but there are some good recipes out there if you prefer to create it yourself

Method

  • layer lettuce, avocado, prawns & sprinkle of dill in a pretty formation in your fave cup, glass or bowl
  • drizzle with cocktail sauce & serve

make :: blueberry lemon icebox cake

We’ve just had the hottest three days on record in Sydney. Much of the state is in critical weather condition with many towns and areas being evacuated for fear of total devastation by bushfire.

Seriously, I don’t know how we’ve been functioning in 47°C heat (117F).

This cake was a great distraction; it’s no-bake, so you don’t need to inflict more heat on your poor living space, and it makes the perfect summer dessert; light, creamy, citrusy and most importantly,  cool.

It needs to feeeze overnight, so make it a day ahead.

Blueberry lemon icebox cake

Recipe is from Tastemade.

|melbourne adventures|

Melbourne city is one of my favourites. It feels a little eastern European; with it’s cobbled stone streets, artistic laneways overflowing with cafes and Parisian-esque chairs & tables on the sidewalk facing the street so you can people watch, the wide, sleepy Yarra river that runs through the south city and not to mention the plethora of Italian eateries to round out the European feel. Mum flew down to look after Harley so Jay & I could enjoy 4 fabulous nights down there last week.

Here are the highlights from our adventure:

//Northern Victoria countryside//

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//The Larwill Hotel//

Larwill Luxe; comfy king bed
Larwill Luxe; comfy king bed
small details (clockwise top left): pinboard with little details about the area, artwork on the walls, bathroom, view from the room, wall detail
small details (clockwise top left): pinboard with little details about the area, artwork on the walls, bathroom, view from the room, wall detail

The Larwill is part of the Art Series Hotel group, which are all named after artists and are all furnished with their artworks. The Larwill is a brand-spanking-new hotel; only completed in October 2014, so it is beautifully presented. It’s fairly low-rise with 4 floors. It’s right next to the Melbourne Children’s hospital. The entry and foyer is contemporary and minimalistic with a waiting area that had a communal table and Scandinavian furniture with pops of yellow and complete with a fully loaded book shelf.

We were upgraded to a corner suite on the Eastern side which looks directly over the city. The room was beautiful; spacious and with great little details including the hotel’s resident artworks. The mini-bar had great little Australian treats (wines, cookies, chips, nuts, etc) that were ridiculously expensive, but the bathroom products are luxurious and I thought the quirky little messages were really sweet touches.

The only but significant complaint is that when I booked the hotel, even though I was aware that it was just out of the CBD (located in Parkville), I didn’t realise how inconvenient it would be; there is no direct tram into the CBD, you have to switch at least twice, and there are no cafes or shops within a 10 minute walking distance. Because the hotel was so new, they hadn’t completed it with no restaurant, bar, cafe facilities. On our first night, after being told it was a short 10 minute stroll away, we walked 20 minutes in 41ºC heat to a recommended restaurant. It was a lovely eatery, but we arrived red-faced, sweltering & sweaty! The surrounding area is pretty dead, so we ended up driving to go out & about during out 2 night stay.

street art outside Sosta Italian Restaurant
street art outside Sosta Italian Restaurant

If you’re considering staying here, just make sure you know how to get to any other places you plan on visiting, as it might be easier to stay somewhere more central in the CBD or Southbank.

selfie
mandatory (partial) selfie!

//Crown Metropol hotel//

View from our Crown Metropol hotel room
View from our Crown Metropol hotel room

This is a seriously superb hotel. The valet greets you on arrival, arranges a bellhop for your baggage and takes your car for undercover parking. Check-in was no drama and the room…..

clockwise top left: Crown Metropol foyer, our king deluxe room & the view
clockwise top left: Crown Metropol foyer, our king deluxe room & the view
the bed, amenities & view
the bed, amenities & view

The room was super spacious and had all the little bits & pieces you expect from a 5-star hotel; quality tea & coffee, OK priced mini-bar extras, 24/7 room service, amazing views, swimming pool, day-spa, restaurant and bars, plus direct air-bridge to Crown Casino precinct with a huge variety of restaurants, bars and shopping (Witchery had a great sale!). There is always something happening; downstairs has this buzz of excitement with all the restaurants and gaming, but head up to the top floors and the pool is filled with families and kids having fun and the spa is relaxing and tranquil. The Level 28 bar is sophisticated and laid-back; perfect for a pre-date cocktail (or two) overlooking the incredible city skyline.

Crown Metropol foyer art
Crown Metropol foyer art

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We had cocktails on the rooftop bar before eating at well known Gradi for dinner. Gradi’s owner & exec chef is Johnny Di Francesco who is the first Australian ever trained in Naples to the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana rules. The pizza was amazing and the cured meats are all cut fresh to order.

Gradi @ Crown
Gradi @ Crown

//Chandon winery//

We visited Moët & Chandon house in Epernay in France, did the limestone cellar tour, tasting and learnt about the history, and have had a romantic respect for them ever since. Domaine Chandon was the first vineyard they set up outside of France and was established in the early 80’s. I’ve wanted to visit there for ages!

Chandon winery & vineyards
Chandon winery & vineyards

We did a self-guided tour, a tasting and then ate in the restaurant.

The production & cellar
The production & cellar
Jay & I eating amazing food & drinking sparkling
Jay & I eating amazing food & drinking sparkling

//Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibition @ National Gallery of Victoria//

What a visionary & legendary fashion designer who takes risks and pushes fashion, social & political boundaries with his designs. This exhibition was brilliant!

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//Out & About//

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I want to do it all again!!!

currently

reading

Secret Shared by L Marie Adeline
I don’t usually read erotic fiction but I found this book via a book infograph on Pinterest and it was available via iBooks. It’s pretty steamy & easily entertaining!

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watching

Madam Secretary on TV; my teenage girl crush with Teá Leonie is back! Interstellar at the movies; my geeky fascination with quantum physics is peaked with this film written & directed by Christopher Nolan. Even Neil deGrasse Tyson is impressed!

baking

these beautiful cherry & coconut muffins. they are sugar- & gluten-free and are great for quick weekday brekkies on the run

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loving

some recent quality time with friends

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Tam, Grace & I at Subo in Newcastle

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impromptu drinks with Jared, Pete & Jay in Darling Harbour last night that ended up being a bar hop around the city ending in an amazing Taiwanese feast at Walsh Bay

thankful

for the all clear that my Mum was given regarding a breast cancer scare. she had cancer of the uterus years ago and because her Mum (my Oma) died from breast cancer and her sister has had bowel cancer, she is extra vigilant with checkups. regular checkups are so so so very important!

looking forward to

visiting my father-in-law in a couple of weeks. it’s only a quick trip up to QLD but it’s been 11 months since we’ve seen him.
attending a few work-related christmas parties over the next month; a chance to dress up, drink champagne in beautiful locations and toast the busy year just past!
summer holidays are just around the corner and Jay & I have 3 weeks off work!!! we’ll be going to the beach, movies, catching up with friends and heading to Melbourne & Canberra for a week. yay!

salt in the air, sand in my hair

Well hello 2013!

Where have I been my good friends?
I’ve been in hipster heaven; Byron Bay!

byron [via]

Along with our fellow fun loving friends The Jacksons, we had 7 nights bliss at a beach house in Suffolk Park which is a little suburb of Byron Bay on the north coast of NSW.

We stayed at the Tijuana South of the Border Beach House owned by local artist Gabriel Rosati.

tijuana1tijuana2We swam, read, cooked, drank Coronas, cider & margaritas, swung in the hammock and thoroughly chilled out.

Suffolk beach
Suffolk beach
Cape Byron; most easterly point in Australia
Cape Byron; most easterly point in Australia
Cape Byron Lighthouse
Cape Byron Lighthouse
view from Cape Byron
view from Cape Byron
Minyon Falls - Byron hinterland
Minyon Falls – Byron hinterland
Harley in sandy heaven!
Harley in sandy heaven!

Like the total party animals we are, we managed to stay awake til midnight to ring in the New Year…

group shot! (Jay showing his annoyance in having to pose!)
group shot! (Jay showing his annoyance in having to pose!)
the Williams family (sparkly bits courtesy of my photo editor)
the Williams family (sparkly bits courtesy of my photo editor)
selfie
selfie

I have so many more pics to share but rather than inundate you any further I’ll do a few more posts over the coming days!

Hope you are all having a wonderful start to 2013!

signature2 - melly xox

week in instagram | 2012 finale

I’ve been MIA for a few days because I’m getting my chillax on in Byron Bay!

We’ve been eating, laughing, drinking, sunbaking, eating, drinking, shopping, watching Harley entertain us & walking on the beach.

It’s been divine!

Thanks to my fave app (Instagram) here’s what I’ve been up to in pictures (there’s a few so bare with me)…

IMG_20121223_144645 33ºc in Sydney – Christmas Eve; Harley at the Park
IMG_20121223_165905 Christmas blooms on my table!IMG_20121224_163634 (1) Xmas Eve afternoon snackIMG_20121224_174811 (1) Harley’s tired from all the festivities planning
(sleeping with his new toy from Grandmama Lizzie)!
IMG_20121224_203409 (1) Christmas Eve at casa del WilliamsIMG_20121225_090454 My beautiful Christmas pressie from hubby! Eeeek!
(reward for part good girl, part job promotion)
IMG_20121225_090934 Harley chewing on his Christmas pressie from Neen & EIMG_20121226_085033 Christmas card from our little visitors; 5 yo FinleyIMG_20121226_085245 and from little Picasso 7 yo WillowIMG_20121225_163030 cold & rainy on Christmas day – Jay & I;
later that day celebrating with Jared, Pete & their man crewIMG_20121225_222401 Melly & Jared Xmas night – suitably drunk!IMG_20121227_155636 the day after Boxing Day
3am on deserted Sydney Harbour Bridge;
leaving for our trip!IMG_20121227_185119 Banana palms of Coffs Harbour countrysideIMG_20121227_094903 more gorgeous NSW North CoastIMG_20121227_185256 Sugar CaneIMG_20121227_185602 Macleay ValleyIMG_20121227_185512 Byron Bay hinterlands – view to the ocean!IMG_20121227_184030 Merry margaritas – we’ve arrived!!IMG_20121228_172626 Beach house artwork by the owner RosartiIMG_20121228_161841 it’s raining…chilling inside by the poolIMG_20121228_210522 our first dinner; lamb & prawn skewers & saladIMG_20121228_171411 Jay’s sister & family dropped in to say hi!IMG_20121230_092933 beautiful Suffolk beachIMG_20121230_092222 crazy Harley likes to eat sandIMG_20121229_214012 amazing margaritas at Byron’s Margarita Mexican CantinaIMG_20121229_215600 prawn fajitas – I’m in heaven…IMG_20121229_214431 hello Mr Gekko
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 the moonIMG_20121230_091959 perfect beach dayIMG_20121230_143543 Caprese salad for lunchIMG_20121231_071256 sunrise on the last day of 2012IMG_20121231_130608 a gorgeous idea;
the Wishing Tree on the main street of Lennox Head
IMG_20121231_130238  breakfast at QuattroIMG_20121231_125712 the resident lizard that taunts Harley!IMG_20121231_131034 grey ocean over Lennox Head beach  IMG_20121231_163255 what I’m doing!IMG_20121231_163044 Jay & Harley in the pool

Happy New Year my gorgeous friends! 
Hope you have a wonderful night & may 2013 be epic!

32369691041203692_WyKzElxB_c [via]