Brought to you by Nuffnang and Jura
Let’s not kid ourselves; coffee is a vital ingredient to life as a functioning human being.
Finding the perfect at home coffee maker is therefore high on my list of priorities.
As a born and bred Melbournian, this sweeping statement becomes a little more understandable. For those of you who are not aware, we here in Melbourne take our coffee very, very seriously. It is a rare shopping strip if you can walk down without wafts of freshly ground beans massaging your senses. We eat them, we drink them, we scrub our bodies with them; coffee is the lifeblood of this city.
The innovations in coffee technology and the ensuing competition for our hearts, has been fierce. It seems that every appliance brand has developed a machine that, despite the claims, are not created equal. Yes, I have indeed tested these claims for the taste, convenience and overall coffee magic. Only now do I find myself in a position of waxing lyrical over the king of coffee machines. You can keep your golden eagles; I have found the superior Swiss engineering and design of Jura.
The Good Food and Wine Show on Friday gave me the opportunity to get up close and personal with this range of machines in a coffee master class. I was expecting this class to cover things like heating cups, correct tamping procedure and frothing the perfect foam, not learning how to make the easiest and most delicious Tiramisu ever.
Checking out the Jura A9 and F9 I was simply blown away by the features and functionality. First up, I have an aversion to pod or capsule based machines due to the incredible amount of waste and environmental damage the introduction of these is causing. Jura’s superior Swiss engineering has the beans inside the machine, grinding each cup on demand and to perfection.
As an espresso drinker (hold the sugar), I have a very demanding palette, which all too often is abused by burnt, bitter coffee. The internal temperature control ensures that the water is heated to the optimum level, just below boiling point, releasing the warm natural flavours of the beans. The simple fact that I have no need to intervene in the grinding and tamping process ensures that each cup come with the perfect crème as the water is pushed through the beans with the right level of pressure.
Frothing milk is an activity fraught with problems. From over aerating to steam burns, this is my least favourite activity when making my own coffees. The fully enclosed milk system of the Jura machine means that no special skills are required, and each cup comes as perfectly prepared as the next. So no, my master class did not need to cover any of these elements in creating the perfect cup.
Ever the practical one, there were other elements of the Jura machines that had me highly impressed. A smooth, flat touch screen surface with no crevices to collect dust and no top plate cup warmer. Instead the cups are kept in an internal heated drawer on the side of the machine, keeping them at the ideal temperature, dust free and quiet!
Having owned several DIY coffee machines in the past I am no stranger to the service process. I spent quite some time probing the Jura representative about the quality of the internal seals, replacement parts and just how long one could be expected to cope without their lifeline. I was surprised to hear that not only does their service centre have a “while you wait” option, but ensures that your turn around service time is no more than two days or they will supply you with a fill in machine! Jura clearly understands the seriousness of the situation.
My master class efforts were far more fun than I was expecting. Being able to turn out the perfect and impressive Tiramisu with the addition of a Jura made espresso, gave me hope that dinner parties may not be beyond my abilities. Creating this impressive coffee art right out of the gate has me completely sold on the idea. It looks like a bought one right?
As a true coffee aficionado I can honestly say that the coffee produced by the Jura A9 and F9 (the two models I trialled), is far superior to many of those $4.50 cups I’ve bought in cafes around Australia. With the engineering, quality, service and overall results of these machines, this is an easy investment to justify in a coffee obsessed city.
Brought to you by Nuffnang and Etsy
The memories I have of growing up are still crisp and fresh in my mind, thanks in large part to the small mementos and slide nights we’d have as a family. (If you don’t know what “slides” are, Google it!)
With Mother’s Day fast approaching, I’m keenly aware just how those small things play such a large part in shaping who we are. The traditional “Mother’s Day stall” at school was where we’d seek out the perfect gift, a treasured paper note gripped tightly in small hands waiting to find the perfect token of our love.
There is something inherently special about having the perfect gift crafted just for your Mum; something as unique as she is. Adding the personal touch of bringing your memory into that gift is something I really wanted to find for my Mum this year, so I turned to the talented community of sellers.
I’m already an verified addict in supporting my vintage shopping habit, and I’ve had some outstanding success in working with crafts people to custom make pieces for other loved ones. So I sat down to think about just what it was I wanted to capture in my Mother’s Day surprise this year and I remembered something.
My Mum hates dusting, but she loves to create little displays on cabinets and counter tops.
When I was little, maybe 7, I remember trying to help her with her dusting chores. She would turn it into one big activity and take everything off the shelves and onto the table. The family heirloom china, the smiling photos, the knick knacks, everything. I’d always ask her about each piece and where they had come from, so over time I learnt the story and significance behind each piece.
One day I got to dust a little china statue of a yellow bird on a twig, one that had come from my great grandmother. It slipped and fell from my hands, breaking into pieces. I was utterly devastated. It felt like I had somehow broken the memory and that was unforgivable.
Mum was so kind, picking up the pieces and assuring me that it could be fixed. I could see that she was sad, but the fact that I understood the sentimentality and importance behind those little yellow fragments, was even more important.
A little love and glue means that every time I see his slightly crazed, yellow glaze I remember that the value isn’t in the object itself, but the love and memories they hold. Now our story has become a part of the narrative of a little yellow bird.
As I wandered around the virtual art galleries and stores on Etsy’s pages, I came across Senkki. The mid century styling of their designs was the first thing to catch my eye, and as I delved further into the catalogue of their creations, I realized just how perfect they would be to create something special for my Mum.
Made locally in South Australia, these simple and elegant shelves form the perfect combination of my own stylistic love and a piece that will provide the perfect showcase for my Mum’s collections.
The Senkii style is a beautiful collection of Mid Century Modern inspired pieces, giving me the opportunity to select a piece I can add to over time, customizing dimensions to fit my space (or Mum’s), and know that I can continue to support high quality, local makers.
The sheer variety of hand made and vintage goods available on means that you’ll always be able to explore and find the perfect thing for your Mum. The range of pieces at all kinds of price points makes Etsy the perfect choice for everyone. All you need to do is sit down with a hot chocolate, your photo album, put on your thinking cap and let the creative people at Etsy do the rest.
This Mother’s Day Etsy is giving you the chance to win a $500 Etsy Gift Card by sharing your special memory on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram with the hashtag #EverydayMum. Simply upload a photo with your Mum and share a special memory (25 words or less) for your chance to win.
I am an ideas woman.
There is nothing I love more than a good old-fashioned brain storming session with like-minded people. Caffeine on tap, white boards and large gestures all make for my kind of mental adrenaline ride. I’d like to think I have much in common with one of my favourite Golden Era icons, Hedy Lammar. Beautiful actress and inventor, without whom we would not have a technology which has become so precious to us; Wi Fi!
It is because of the commonalities between Hedy and myself, that I am incredibly excited by an event that next week brings. Pause Fest is Australia’s premier digital event that began in 2011 and this year the TAC is partnering with Pause Fest to run a one-day Hackathon, entitled “pause the road toll”.
The idea is that on Friday 13th, a whole bunch of digital creatives all get together to brainstorm ideas and compete to win a major development prize. It’s not a day of hard core coding, but rather to workshop ideas with your team, or alone, and come up with something truly revolutionary, helping to effectively reduce the road toll.
Participants are presented with a brief on road safety and then, using their diverse skills and knowledge base, put together ideas that could contribute to a reduction in road crashes. Pause Fest attracts all kinds of digital creatives, start-ups, developers, and early adopters; much like many of my blogging friends. They are people with a passion for problem solving, ingenuity and an elegant technological solution.
The winning idea will be awarded $75,000 worth of prizes, including $5,000 cash and a $70,000 incubation fund to help further develop their idea. So as you can imagine, this is a major, and now sold out event!
The idea behind Pause Fest and the kind of ideas it generates, is fascinating to me. As someone with such a passion for the past, I find an equal satisfaction in fantasising about the future. Living in a time where technology changes our reality day by day, is one of the most exciting things I can imagine. Watching these concepts grow into something that has the potential to save lives, is astounding.
It’s an interesting time in Australia, watching organisations struggle to find new and more effective ways of reaching their audience and communicating their message. The TAC has taken a bold and market leading step in reaching out to the brains trust of the digital community; one that will undoubtedly uncover some brilliant concepts.
To follow along with Pause Fest and the TAC Hackathon, simply check in at their website or follow along on social @TACVictoria
Brought to you by Nuffnang and TAC.
This post is brought to you by Nuffnang and Strictly Ballroom The Musical
“Oh my giddy Aunt!” This is the first phrase that pops out of my mouth when I was asked today how I enjoyed the opening of Strictly Ballroom the Musical, and yes, I do actually speak like that!
As a dancer myself, (albeit a somewhat interpretive one) I am all too familiar with the world in which this show is set. The pure Australianism of the story, the cast and the costumes is pure gold. If you’ve seen the movie you may be familiar with the storyline, but it still can’t prepare you for the brilliance of the stage interpretation. I don’t want to give away the surprises in store, but when you consider what Baz Luhrmann does on screen, just wait till you see how that translates to stage!
The musical numbers were just as sparkling as the tight pants on stage. Familiar songs had me racing to Spotify to add them, and incredible new pieces from Sia and Eddie Perfect completely and instantly won me over. To get even the smallest taste of what an uplifting and fun show this is, you must see the video trailer.
The characters and costuming in this are so familiar to me that I had to double take a few times, especially with the protagonist’s mother being the dead spitting image (down to her overblown coiffure and tight sparkly dresses) of a woman I often see out on the dance floor. Uncanny!
Strictly Ballroom the Musical is just as relevant, funny and moving as it was when the film was first released. A slice of spangled, parochial Australiana that lives in almost all of our memories and, for some of us, in our todays. Sitting in my seat, looking up at the brilliant red curtains, light bouncing back off their sparkles and onto the audience, we’d become a part of the show before it had even begun.
I’d love to know the total weight of sequins and crystal in the costumes designed by Catherin Martin. I wondered at that as I did my usual, and figured out which cast member I’d most like to mug for which outfit after the show. I couldn’t choose just one. The vision of swirling petticoats, marabou feathers in every rainbow shade and brilliant hair worthy of my Saturday nights, made my heart race and my face slit into a huge grin. I want to be a dancer!
I don’t believe I’ve ever had this much fun at a musical. Already, at intermission, I was Tweeting and messaging friends to let them now that they have to come with me and see it again. This is really one to make an occasion of, and if you can bust out your own sequins and glitter for the event, even better!
With tickets from only $55 from Ticketek, there is no excuse to miss this one.
Tickets can be purchased from Ticketek.com.au, by calling 132849, Her Majesty’s Theatre or any Ticketek outlet.
This post is brought to you by Nuffnang and Zodiac Australia
The decision to build a pool at home was a big one, and one that has been a long time coming. When Zodiac contacted me a couple of weeks ago to see if we’d like to trial and review their MagnaPool mineral salts pool system, I laughed, as this is exactly what we’d already installed so I knew I’d be happy to write about it. I’m already sold.
When we first bought this property over seven years ago, one of the key reasons we chose it was for the space it had to put in a fantastic pool area to our own design. I love looking at water, I love its calming sounds and rippled surface, but I’m really not much of a swimmer.
My swimming experiences all make it somewhat of a hassle for me. Firstly I have coloured hair and I hate the damage lots of chlorine does to it. I also hate the damage it does to my swimsuits and my skin. I have very sensitive eyes and even sitting by indoor chlorinated pools causes my eyes to become so red it makes it hard to see. Choosing the right pool set up became a big research project for us.
Putting in a pool is a huge investment and one we really wanted to get right, so when we heard about MagnaPool from our builder, it was something I consulted both online reviews and my resident chemist (Dad), about.
In a nutshell, a MagnaPool uses magnesium (a natural mineral) to detoxify and balance the water. Magnesium is what you find in all those amazing mineral baths and spas around the world; know for their ability to sooth aches and pains, relieving stress and anxiety. I’ve had arthritis in my legs for years and years, sometimes to the point where I just can’t be on my legs, so this idea that as a non-swimmer, I can just rest, relax and float in a pool that is going to help relieve this is amazing!
Magnesium and potassium (the two minerals found in the MagnaPool system), are also credited with relieving skin ailments, helping with sensitivity issues and also being far safer for my coloured hair, (superficial I know).
As far as the filter system goes, MagnaPool uses a glass filter system instead of sand or other media. These Zodiac Glass beads are made from recycled glass and discourage bacteria from attaching to them, which is a known issue with sand filters. So the overall water quality is cleaner, more sanitary and also due to the minerals, much better to use on the garden when it is changed over!
Making the decision on this one was really important, but we also found out that pools that were currently using a chlorination system could be changed over to MagnaPool. We vacillated a bit in making the decision due to the initial extra set up cost and our tightly stretched budget, but when all the chips were down, there was no second guessing just how good a decision this would be. It is one of the best things we’ve done with this whole renovation.
Not only is the water absolutely stunning to look at, but it leaves my skin actually feeling better than when I got in; smooth and silky, not stinging or stinking of heavy chlorination.
Pools are such a big part of the Australian backyard lifestyle, and finding ways to make our experiences with them even better is something I see advertised all the time. Fancy sofas and lovely accessories, all wonderful of course, but if I can suggest one thing to start with; it would be converting to a MagnaPool.
I’d like you to experience of what it is like to bathe in this type of water, so Zodiac have provided me with 50 sachets (2 per winner) of their MagnaPool mineral bath salts to help you create your own mini experience.
Given, it isn’t the same as floating around under the sunset, but add these to a bath soak and see just how it feels. Let your entire body relax, aches and pains drift away, while your skin soaks up the detoxifying minerals.
All you need to do is be one of the first 25 to leave me a comment about why you think MagnaPool mineral salts would be right for you.
Terms and conditions apply
The competition is open until 5:00 pm AEDST on 6th February 2015
One of the best words I can use to describe Dubai is “Surreal”. The way the light hits the buildings, bleached of colour and towering in stature. The grandeur in its clean and tidy splendour that feels simultaneously ancient and new.
Although it has a long and rich history, nothing in Dubai is truly old. The city has sprung to life from the ashes of the old, with the speed and glamour of an F1 racer. It is easy to be so overwhelmed by the final picture; it is difficult to see which colours went into painting it.
Being the history lover I am, learning more about the story of Old Dubai held (and still holds), a great fascination for me. Unlike many big cities where the old sits along side the new, this is not the case in Dubai; the adventurer in you must seek it out.
The obvious starting point, and where I began my journey not long after stepping off the plane (not rest for the wicked), was in Old Dubai. Somewhat of a misnomer, Old Dubai (or Al Fahidi Historic District) is instead a replica of the old style of buildings, alleyways and quarters that made up the earlier Bedouin settlements on the mouth of the Gulf. Many of these settlers were Iranian, and their style of architecture is mimicked in these buildings. Their open turrets providing the first known natural air conditioning, with poles and wet sheet systems.
I consider myself very fortunate to have had the most excellent guide who shared so many nuggets of history with me. Xavier has a real passion for his adopted city, and I was to discover, the majority of the population are all adoptees. With me for the week, Xavier (of 1001 Events) gave a whole new depth to my journey that could not have been gained from guidebooks, answering my incessant questioning with insight and humour. Not only of the historical and economical, but also the idiosyncratic.
Wandering the warm alleyways of Old Dubai, I felt I’d landed in quite the other world. Perhaps it was the jet lag and the warmth, but there was a distinct feel of stepping out of the Tardis and into another realm. Sandstone walls took on a silken texture, colourful enamelware whispered stories and a lone Raven called from atop a towers edge.
A generation of shopkeepers stops to tell me the stories of the enamel portraits, painted by great artists and the brush of a single hair. Pride and awe fills their voices as tales of beauty light their eyes.