Life has been very quiet of late - no concerts, theatre, ballet, dinners out or trips away. Instead I've had evenings filled with children's music recitals, school concerts and school parent's drinks evenings, and during the day the hum of domesticity - cleaning, cooking, organising, with a smattering of paid professional work.

This week I had some friends over for morning tea. One of my friends is a Celiac, which means she is highly allergic to gluten. I have a gluten insensitivity (it sets off my eczema), however as it is not life threatening, I admit that I often cheat.. and deal with the itchy consequences. On Monday morning, I went to bake something for morning tea and found that I had no gluten- free flour left.



Essentially a lot of my baking stems from a sort of laziness - I just can't be bothered driving down to the shops to buy ingredients (let alone a finished product). It's easier to work with what I have. So I decided to make a Sponge Cake. There are a lot of different recipes for Sponge Cake, but this one is gluten free, so is perfect as a Morning Tea cake. I posted the photo to Instagram, and was inundated with requests for the recipe (well, two people asked), so here it is. Firstly, do not be afraid of a Sponge Cake - it will not sink! They are actually quite easy if you follow a few simple steps in the mixing process which I've included below.

Gluten Free Sponge Cake

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs (at room temperature, place in a dish of warm water for 10 minutes if you need to bring them up to room temperature)
  • 1/2 Cup Castor Sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract 
  • 3/4 Cup Cornflour + 2 Tbsp extra (ensure it is marked Gluten free on the packet as some contain gluten)
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar


Method

  • Preheat oven to 175C, less if you use a fan forced oven.
  • line the base and sides, or butter and flour (using gluten free flour) two 20cm cake tins
  • Using the whisk attachment on a mixer, whisk the eggs,  sugar and vanilla together on high speed until it is pale, thick, and has a lot of volume (approximately 4 minutes), then turn the speed down to medium and continue to mix for another 2 minutes to stabilise the air bubbles.
  • Sieve the remaining dry ingredients together 3-4 times, then gently fold them into the egg mixture using a fork (do not use the mixer for this part) until just combined.
  • Divide evenly between the two cake tins and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. To check if it is finished, press lightly into the centre of the sponge. If it springs back it is ready.
  • Remove from the oven, wait 5 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Sandwich the two halves together with whipped cream and strawberry jam, dust the top with icing sugar or slather more whipped cream on the top with strawberries.
I did manage one grown up escape the past week - meeting up with blogger Cilla, who is lovely, and was in town for a conference. We went to Proof (bar) just off Waymouth Street. For a Thursday night it was quite buzzy, and we had a good chat and catch up. Weirdly, the weather last Thursday was freezing again and I was in knee high boots and layers of wool, but overall we're having balmy Spring weather now.



The new garden has been blossoming like crazy and already the new plants are growing. The crabapples are particularly pretty, and I certainly don't mind doing dishes with them as the view from my kitchen sink.


With thoughts of the Spring and Summer ahead, I've been casting my eye over my Summer wardrobe, and a couple of new Summer dresses arrived in the post from Tory Burch last week. A few weekends ago there was a Labour Day sale with an extra 30% off the entire website, including sale items. These two new dresses ended up being well priced, and I know they will be staples in my wardrobe when the inevitable baking hot Adelaide Summer begins in ernest in January. This is the green patterned Queen Anne's Lace, and this is the blue one.

I was also in Burnside Village last week (I rarely go shopping, I hate it), and popped into Zara to see if I could find Naomi's dress (and Dani's dress too), however no luck, it was nowhere to be seen - mustn't have made it to Oz. I had a bit of a browse around though, and thought two things. One is that Zara in Australia is not that cheap compared to Europe and the US, and secondly that a lot of the things are very badly cut. 



This was a shirt I tried on, above, where the two pockets are sewn at different heights, one quite crooked, and both weirdly puckered. Other blouses that looked nice on the hanger were cut strangely on the shoulders and not flattering. I think the temptation in there is to think that it is cheap, therefore these flaws can be overlooked. But I am now old enough and wise enough to know that if I have a bit of a niggle that something isn't quite right with it then I am better off leaving it behind, as it will inevitably be something that sits relatively unworn in the wardrobe and then gets donated a few seasons later. The reject pile in the Zara change room was large. But I did find this shirt/ tunic top, which I've already worn a couple of times, and that I love. It's cut nicely, sits well, and the cheery colours lift a boring skinny jeans clad lower half. It's a good transeasonal piece and goes well with a few pairs of my ballet flats. I think it was $69. 



I spent some time gardening over the weekend. Eagle eyed readers may have noticed this attractive garbage bin pot with a sad looking standard ficus in it in the background of my photos over the past two years. 


Approximately 3 years ago, one of the children knocked the old pot off the old back terrace of the house, and it smashed. I stuck it in a handy garbage bin as a temporary measure. So 3 years later, with it having always struggled due to not being properly potted up, I finally repotted it into a large terracotta pot and put it on the new back terrace. I had to give it all a significant prune (it's 20 years old), so it doesn't look so pretty at the moment, but I'm sure it will now flourish. I've underplanted with a pretty trailing white creeper. Thank goodness Ficus are almost impossible to kill off.


Finally, to round off this random post, I was nominated by the lovely KL at the blog eternalicions for the Tour Through Blogland - it's for bloggers renovating properties. KL has been building a beautiful home in New South Wales for the past few years with her builder husband. While I know KL finds that it's often frustratingly slow when you have a builder DIYing it in his time off, the results are definitely worth it. Pop over and have a look if you haven't before. 

1. What are you working on
I'm currently trying to finish off the garden and pool (slow), and clean out the new library in time for the new book cases to arrive. I'm also trying to restore these lawn chairs from the old tennis court that came with the house.


2. How does my work differ from others in the DIY/ Decorating blog world
I guess the main point of difference is that I am an Architect, while a lot of Architects design their own houses, I haven't come across any other blogging Architects yet… but also, I've done no DIY at all on this project (aside from the design of course), so don't really fit that category of blog. Our last house would have made perfect blog fodder, had they been around back in the early 2000's as we did do all of that ourselves and did it on a shoestring. It was the typical young, married, no money, first home scenario.

3. Why do I write what I do?
I enjoy writing, and like sharing information. Before I started blogging I used to find other people's blogs great sources of information. I do feel ambivalent about blogging to some extent, and probably only write about a superficial 5% of my life on it. 

4. How does your writing/ creative process work
I wait until the muse strikes. Usually something will spark a post, and it writes itself fairly quickly. But that is why there can sometimes be large gaps between posts - this is definitely a hobby rather than a job for me.


So I'm supposed to nominate someone else, and that is Laura from Elsee Blog, who has done the most beautiful kitchen renovation recently - the before is above, the after below. She has exquisite taste, and is DIYing most of the work too. If you haven't visited her blog before, then you'll find it full of lovely things that she is making - she sews, bakes, paper crafts, does calligraphy… she is a very talented young Mum who also works full time and lives in Sydney.


Enjoy the Spring weather!

28 comments:

  1. I put on my blouse from Zara this morning. One of the buttons had fallen off, leaving a gape at bra level. NSFW so it got cast aside.

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    1. Sounds a bit like the only other thing I have from Zara, a belt that I always fear will self destruct when I wear it. I hate it when an almost new top has the buttons fall off…loved catching up last week x

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  2. Thanks for the recipe Heidi... Totally agree about Zara ... Going over to Elsee Blog now! xx

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    1. Hope you give it a go Jenny - was just texting Faux Fuchsia about your chicken soup recipe this morning by coincidence!! You'll love Laura's blog, lots of creativity and very talented for someone in their early 20s

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  3. Heidi, that floral shirt/tunic is very nice. That Elsee kitchen reno is almost as dramatic as your garbage bin to terra cotta. Is 'NSW' New South Wales?

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    1. Laura's kitchen reno is amazing, much more so than my simple garbage bin to proper pot! I shouldn't have assumed everyone would know what NSW means, but you guessed correctly and it is New South Wales - KL lives on the coast. Might go back and edit that...

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  4. Your garden is looking very pretty and it looks like it won’t be too hard to maintain once its established. Love all your plant selections and def agree to get in a landscaper in the initial stages. Saves making all those mistakes. My Crabapples are only just beginning and I can’t wait! The Manchurian Pears are pretty much fully grown in just three years so they are a great choice for your garden and will throw lovely shade in the heat. I spent Monday liquid fertilising, pruning, mulching with pea straw and planting and now tonight a lovely heavy downpour is drenching everything. As you know I’ve forgotten my Insta password so for what its worth I think the garden chairs would look great in a slate grey. Would go well with the Wisteria and the greenery in general. Enjoying your blogs - thanks, Tonkath

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    1. Hello Tonkath - this is definitely the time to put in a few hours in the garden to reap the rewards over the Summer months. You must be getting our weather - it poured with rain all night, after a lot of balmy weather. Perfect for the fertiliser! I've got another crabapple that hasn't put out so much as a leaf, it's either dead or a lot slower than the new pair. Hopefully the latter!! Thanks for the input on the chairs, now I just have to go and angle grind off the old rusty bolts!

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  5. I tried a few of Zara's clothing items when they first launched in oz but was disappointed by them. I like buying online and usually try a brand in the physical store before going that route. Thank you for your comments re my blog. I loved reading your replies to the questions and am so glad you nominated Laura as I too love her blog and talent. The garden is looking beautiful! X KL

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    1. Thanks KL!!!!!!!!!!!! So sweet!!!! Thanks for your comments on my teeth too on insta.

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    2. The garden is looking so lush already KL - am so enjoying it after the desert look for so long! Thank you again for nominating me! I've enjoyed reading your answers and other's too… just haven't had enough time to get around blog land the past two weeks. School holidays will do that to you…..!

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  6. That cake looks delicious. And I love the prints of your tory burch dresses. I was completely addicted to Zara, but I did not even really realise it. I started a spread sheet this Jan to track my fashion and accessory spend and found out that Zara was my Achilles heel and that it was also the quickest stuff to go in the bin/goodwill. Some of their jackets are pretty good quality though, but anything you will wash a lot doesn't really last very long at all. Laura's kitchen transformation is incredible!

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    1. I think that it's quite easy to buy an awful lot of cheap purchases that add up to quite a bit of money as a collective whole Charlotte! They also fill the wardrobe and don't get as much wear as you'd perhaps think. I've had no luck with the jackets in Zara - every time I try one on it just doesn't sit right on me. I think overall the cut is too boxy for my frame maybe? I just look short and fat in them!

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  7. Heidi for a quiet time it seems busy, but I think you get loads done in a typical day! Thanks for the sponge cake recipe, I'll try that, I have a very bad gluten sensitivity. Celiac probably but not tested. Tory Burch: most of my summer wardrobe is TB, and even though I have to send it to the dry cleaner I always have great outfits all summer, Tory dress + Brora cardigan (for A/C), Tory straw bag and heels.
    I am drowning in renovation preparation just now, I'm trying to pack up, get building permits (agony), finalize details and decide on the fabrics for the new furniture etc, also I lost my camera somewhere? I'm sending you a package on Friday which is the highlight of my week. The other highlight: I managed to book the movers I wanted who can also store my piano, fridge and dishwasher safely, oh boy what a commotion! xox

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    1. You should get tested Dani!! If you are really sensitive it would probably be good to know. You'll have to give the sponge cake a whirl once the new kitchen is in and complete. I love TB for summer too. I have a few of her tunic tops from last year, and her dresses are staples, just nicely cut and a bit different from what I can find locally. Unfortunately her shipping is expensive and so s.l.o.w.
      Good luck with all the chaos of packing up and renovations. I still feel at sixes and sevens. It's a long weekend here, and I am planning a lot of sorting out here.

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  8. So lovely to see your photo of your crab apple. I planted one in my back garden a few weeks ago...and your photograph has me already looking forward to next spring when I can enjoy the blossoms!

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    1. You won't regret planting it Annie - just looks so beautiful in it's fluffy pink glory!

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  9. Hi Heidi! Thanks for the super sweet kind words! I have just completed my blog post. I am crushing hardcore on your crab apple tree! I wanna get one now! How exciting to see your garden flourish in spring. The ficus looks great too!

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    1. You should plant one - they're so pretty Laura! The ficus is still looking a little sparse. Am hoping with the warmer weather and more space to spread its roots out it will start to shoot soon!

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  10. Thank you for the recipe Heidi- being one of those on IG that asked for the recipe. I love baking and with a daughter in law who is gluten intolerant, I am always looking for easy recipes, so will definately give this one a go. Enjoy watching your plants mature and this spring rain has been wonderful.
    Thanks again. Marilyn

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    1. My pleasure Marilyn! It is a very easy thing to make and bake. Not sure why sponges get such a bad rap, they're really not difficult. Can't wait to see the garden mature. Am planning a weekend out there doing a bit of pruning and fertilising and am eagerly awaiting my first roses

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  11. Love the shirt/tunic top you bought from Zara. I bought 3 jackets from Zara in Paris 3 years ago, just before Zara opened in Sydney. The jackets are well made and are worn regularly. Out of curiosity I checked the prices in sydney on our return and the cost of each jacket was at least $30 more expensive. Bought a pair of jeans from the sydney store which hasn't stood the test of even one season. Interestingly, I have a beautiful jacket & trouser suit and a lovely skirt bought in Zara in Greece, 18 years ago which have stood the test of time. I have just used a gift voucher at Zara I was given to buy a pair of silver sandals. It'll be interesting to see how long they last. Den x

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    1. Hi Den, the gouging in the Australian shops with higher pricing really annoys me. That's the problem with these stores too, you really have to be dedicated to keep looking with the high turnover to hunt out the good pieces, which can be very, very good when you find one, but are more often… problematic!

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  12. Seeing the ficus in the garbage bin makes me laugh , around here they are considered a pest. Some streets have uprooted footpaths due to the invasion of ficus roots.

    I hate shopping too, though for food shopping at least I can walk to the shopping centre. Actually on second thoughts I do like looking at high end stuff I can't afford...art, furniture, some well known fashion labels.

    Have you seen the photos of the Clooney wedding , well who hasn't ..I think Amul's really high heels look ridiculous maybe I'm jealous cause I doubt I could wear them

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    1. I'd never, ever plant a ficus in the ground. They cause so much damage with their roots to buildings. But in a pot, they're almost indestructible, which is good if you forget to water them.
      I don't mind looking at high end stuff too! But it's the mindless mall wandering that I just can't do. And I can spend hours in a bookshop, or a bric a brac shop.
      Am waiting on the Hello! magazine to come out so I can get a good look at her outfits. I did quite like that cream pants/top/ hat combo though...

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  13. Thanks for the recipe. It certainly looks delicious and it's useful to have a straightforward gluten free recipe for friends who are intolerant. A bonus that that the ingredients are already in the cupboard. You made the right choice with the Zara blouse. A pretty print and colour combination. I'm very picky too about the details such as neat buttonholes and pockets looking perfect!

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    1. My pet hate is the button that comes off straight away miss b! But this shirt is not too bad all things considered. Already having a fair bit of wear, so that is good!

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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