Festive Anise Wine Cookie Recipe

As we head into the festive season, we all know what that means for food: delicious decadence. I wanted to try something really different in the baking department, and anise infused wine cookies seemed right up my alley. Have you ever baked with wine before? Yep, neither had I – until now. Cooking with wine turns most dishes into magic, and I was sure that baking with wine would yield similar results!

These cookies are wonderfully crispy and not too sweet. What I really love is that you can taste the wine immediately, and the anise seeds aren’t at all overpowering and add a very subtle flavour. I’d think that nutmeg could also work extremely well as a replacement if you prefer!

For these cookies I used a lovely bottle of Boucheron Chardonnay. This crisp white wine is an unwooded Chardonnay, and it’s perfectly fresh for light summer meals like salads and seafood. This particular wine is packed with goosberry, citrus, and green fig flavour. Now do you see why I wanted to bake with it? 🙂 The best part is that you get to drink the rest of the wine afterwards, too! It’s a win-win situation. Get the recipe below!

Anise-white-wine-cookies-2
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Why you should think about having a cellphone free wedding

In a recent rant on Facebook, photographer Thomas Stewart pointed out how in our age of social media obsession, people are taking their amateur cell phone camera pictures too far at weddings.

He posted the following rant:

Right, I’ve had enough. I want to talk to you all about guests using mobile phones / cameras at weddings. I want to plead with you, and I’m going to make this very simple: brides and grooms, please have a completely unplugged wedding ceremony.

Look at this photo. This groom had to lean out past the aisle just to see his bride approaching. Why? Because guests with their phones were in the aisle and in his way. 

This sucks. And I’m not blaming these guests in particular; I actually take a large amount of responsibility for this occurring. In the past I should have been more specific with my clients in explaining to them why guests should be told no photos. Well, from now on, I’m going to make a pretty big deal about it.

You can read the rest of the post here.

A cellphone free wedding?

So with my own wedding just a couple of months away, it really made me think about how I’d want our guests to use their phones on the day.

Would I ask guests not to use their cellphones and personal cameras at all? No, I don’t believe I would.
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Embarking on a social media detox

For a while now I’ve been feeling that I want to spend less of my time on social media. Not because I’m bored of it or because I think it’s a waste of time, but because I am utterly addicted to it and I don’t think it’s very healthy.

There are nights that I go to bed with my thumbs feeling tingly from so much extended use. There are days when I’m too busy to reply to the 45 Whatsapp messages waiting for me, and I end up feeling anxious about all these unread conversations. Then there’s something that I do frequently which I think many of us are guilty of, which is re-re-re-refreshing my social media feeds every couple of minutes even though I know that there’s nothing ground-breaking happening online. It has to stop.

I considered having a social media free day once a week, probably on the weekend. But I’ve reached the personal conclusion that for someone like me who is so constantly connected to everything online, being offline for an entire day is probably unrealistic – at least for now. So instead I’ve begun to entertain the idea of unplugging for a couple of hours every day after work.

Why you should consider embarking on a social media detox and how to do it!

Embarking on a social media detox

When talking about this with a friend, she told me about an app called Offtime. This app lets you specify an amount of time that you want to unplug for, and allows you to switch off notifications and calls if you choose to. You can even customise which apps you still need access to (like your music or calendar for example), but it will bar access to anything else on your phone until the specified ‘unplugged’ time is up. It then puts a nice minimalistic screensaver on your phone to remind you that you’ve chosen to unplug and tells you how much time is remaining. If you try to access anything that’s been blocked, the app will spit out a quirky message to remind you that you don’t really need to be checking Facebook again. And if you want to end your offtime early, you are forced to wait a minute before you can access your phone again. This app was made for people like me. It is a thing of sheer brilliance.

 

So I’ve been experimenting with 3 – 4 hours of off time in the afternoons. Not every single day, but as often as I can.  How’s it going? I felt utterly liberated, honestly. How refreshing it was to not be glued to a device in my hands, and to regain so much time to do more fulfilling things. Some days it’s actually a total mission to get up to date on social media, especially if you’re one of those people who can’t put the phone down until they have seen every single new post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat…. the list goes on, and it’s become exhausting for me.

I really want to continue these hours of off time on a daily basis, and maybe even work my way up to a weekly social media free day. Some days I might fail miserably, but I think it’s worth a shot! Maybe I can incentivise it somehow…. No tea if I cheat?

How do you guys feel about our social media addiction? Are you as bad as I am? Would you, or have you, tried going without your phone for a couple of hours?

Playing Big by Tara Mohr – A practical guide for brilliant women like you

Being a woman who takes my life and career goals seriously, I spend a great deal of time thinking about how best to go about achieving those goals and to figuring out what’s standing in my way. All of us face obstacles in life, but  research and experience suggests that women in particular have a unique set of problems or barriers that we need to address.

Yes, I’m heading down the path of feminism – but I’m not coming from the typical angle that you’d expect. Sure, the impact that blatant sexism and gender inequality has had on women for hundreds of years is a problem that we’re all aware of. It’s being spoken about more and more, and our modern society is taking steps to create a more equal world to negate the impact and affect change.

But what no one ever speaks about is the internal damage that women carry with them as a result of so many decades of inferiority. A child that is bullied and told that they’re no good will carry those words as scars with them for a long time after, and their self-esteem, self-worth,  and confidence often takes a knock that can be difficult to rise above. The same is true for women. For hundreds of years, women have been bullied into believing that they are inferior, unworthy, weak, not as smart as men, bad drivers, annoying, nagging, petty, irrelevant. Can you imagine the long-term impact this has had?

Playing Big By Tara Morh, a practical guide for women

A while ago a dear friend of mine introduced me to a book she was reading called Playing Big by Tara Mohr. Just like The Goddess Bootcamp by Kagiso Msimango, this is another book that I’ll recommend to all women who are looking to improve themselves and their lives.

Playing Big is essentially a step-by-step programme to help women to realise their worth and go after more in life. Books in this genre are often seen as taboo, but I can’t tell you enough about how uplifting and revolutionary they’ve been in my life. Just do it. Go and get yourself a copy. Why? – Because in the opening pages, Tara completely hits the nail on the head with this excerpt:

“Centuries of women’s exclusion from political, public, and professional life have had many effects. Some of those effects were external: legislation, formal policies, pay disparities, lack of legal protections, and the denial of women’s basic rights. But inequality of men and women has also left internal effects in us. Over generations, it shaped how we think of ourselves and what we see as possible for our lives and work. It shaped our fears – fears of speaking up, of rocking the boat, of displeasing others. It caused women to develop a number of behaviors that enabled them to survive in environments where they had no legal, financial, or political power – behaviors like conflict avoidance, self-censoring, people-pleasing, tentative speech and action. 

While we’ve done a great deal of work collectively, especially over the past forty years, to remove the external barriers to women’s empowerment, we have not taken the same close look at the internal legacy of inequality and how to change it. We have a lot of inner unlearning and relearning to do.” ~ Playing Big, Tara Mohr

Doesn’t that resonate with you, as a woman? Or if you’re a male reading this, can you empathise with it? When reading the first couple of pages in the book I had several ‘ah ha!’ moments because she speaks so much sense and truth. I know that it certainly hits home for me. I have spent the greater part of my life plagued with self doubt and anxiety that has inhibited me from achieving so much. The age old ‘I’m not a good enough writer to have a successful blog. I’m not a good enough baker. I don’t have enough experience to make an impact in the workplace. I’m not smart enough to pursue my goals. My ideas aren’t good enough to be voiced.’ The time has come to be rid of these kinds of thoughts.

I’m so looking forward to working my way through the exercises in the book (I’ve restarted the book three times because I want it all to sink in) and to letting you know how it goes.

I’m writing this blog post in the hopes that other women will have the same kind of awakening that I’ve had, and become hungry for more in their lives. Maybe you don’t feel like you’ve been oppressed as a female, or maybe you do. Either way, no harm can come from a desire to realise the brilliant human being that you are and going after what you want (and deserve) in life.

 

 

Pimms Summer Cocktail Recipe

This weekend Tyler and I had lunch with the Afonso’s, and Lydia served up this fresh, fruity cocktail fit for the gods. It’s light, refreshing, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who didn’t like it, especially in the summer. It’s quite pleasing to the eye too, especially when served in a glass jug like Lydia did. The colours lift the room and add some flare to the table.

Pimms Cocktail Punch

After barely any convincing, Lydia’s agreed to let me blog the recipe for this sweet-but-not-too-sweet summer cocktail.

Pimms Summer Cocktail Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 litre water
  • 1 litre Sprite
  • 200 ml – 250 ml Pimms (or more if you’d like)
  • A couple of sliced strawberries
  • A few slices of cucumber
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • One sliced orange
  • A generous amount of ice cubes

And then? Throw it all into a pretty jug like the one in the picture, or into a nice punch bowl, and Bob’s your uncle.

I know I’ll be using this recipe for get-togethers in the future. How about you? Let us know if you try it or if you add anything else into the mix!