Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hometown Hunt: The Jazz Cellar

As much as I love to travel, and daydream about ticking off all those many countries on my 'to visit list', I also love my city. I live in Perth, Western Australia. Compared to other states such as New South Wales and Victoria, Western Australia isn't as 'well known'; especially once you consider that Perth is one of the most isolated cities in the world. Over the years, Perth had a bit of a stigma for being 'boring', especially among the youth. I have always maintained the belief that Perth is interesting, you just have to know where to look, and once you're in the know, you'll be amazed by what is waiting to be discovered. This is now even more the case, as Perth is really coming into its own with so many cool restaurants, bars and arts projects popping up. When I talk to my parents about Perth back in the day, they are amazed by how much it has changed. There really is so much to do and so much to discover. I find myself falling more and more in love with my city each day.

I was recently made aware of a project by Eventbrite, an online platform that helps people discover events taking place in their city and also allows people to manage their own events through the website and sell tickets. The project in question is called the Hometown Hunt Campaign in which bloggers share their favourite places in their respective cities. I was eager to take part, so set out to discover a place that is indicative of Perth's colourful and exciting lifestyle and arts scene.

The Jazz Cellar
The Jazz Cellar has to be one of Perth's best kept secrets, and is possibly one of Perth's most exciting live music venues, open Friday nights only. A small underground venue that hosts up to 100 people, the Jazz Cellar was created by Corner House Jazz Band, a group that has been playing jazz for over 19 years. While it is not a licensed food or drinks venue, you're free to bring your own. My companion and I decided to order pizzas from a local joint (which also delivers to the cellar), but I also found myself eyeing off a few of the platters some people had brought along; I'll be sure to bring my own picnic next time! 

A big part of The Jazz Cellar's allure and mystique is the fact that it doesn't advertise itself a great deal and relies primarily on word of mouth. In addition to minimal signage, The Jazz Cellar is a little hard to find as it's located in an alley behind a Salvos and, get this, the entrance is via an old phone booth. I'm a sucker for novelties like this, so to me, it promised a night of thrills. We got there a little early (6pm), and the performance didn't start until 7:30pm. However, The Jazz Cellar is a lovely intimate place ideal for socializing with friends and mingling with strangers. 

Of course, the music was the highlight of the night. Throughout the evening, the band played a repertoire of traditional live vintage jazz that was upbeat and fun, making it almost impossible not to want to dance or to tap one's foot along. Even if you don't feel like dancing, it's just as fun to sit back and enjoy the music and watch the players have a ball of a time; they have such character! I also really enjoyed watching resident dancer Robin dance with different partners throughout the night. He was certainly a hit with the ladies.

All in all, I had one of the most enjoyable evenings ever at The Jazz Cellar. You're assured all kinds of entertainment in the friendly and jovial joint. I was a little sad to climb back up the stairs, exit the phone booth and leave behind a world reminiscent of 1920s New Orleans at the end of the night, but this just means that I am determined to re-visit this hidden gem again.

The Jazz Cellar:
Scarborough Beach Rd & Buxton Street, 
Mount Hawthorn WA 6016

*Tickets can be ordered online or at the door for $25. Visit The Jazz Cellar Website for more information here
*This post was in collaboration with Eventbrite for their Hometown Hunt project.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Life Lately: Little things

I'm going to be honest and say that I haven't been feeling great the past week. This is what usually happens come mid year break: amidst the constant studying I really look forward to the holidays but once they arrive I feel a bit lost on what to do. I am happy that I have picked up a few more shifts at work, but being someone who thrives on always having something to do or a project to work on, I can't help but feel a little useless or like I'm wasting precious time. In addition, despite being an introvert, I love the feeling of going into uni and being surrounded by my peers and seeing their faces almost every day during the week.

With too much time to spare, my mind inevitably wanders and I begin to worry about things like my future, notably my career, and how or if I'll even be able to find a job after University. The days seem to fly by, I've been working on a few freelance jobs on the side, and yet, I still haven't been feeling satisfied. It can be hard when you feel like you're perpetually stuck in a rut.

So, in an effort to take a step back from everything on my mind, I allowed myself to enjoy a morning of fun with friends, and it brightened my spirits like nothing else, and then I took the rest of the day at a slow pace. I remembered that little activities can do a world of good. I decided to write a post dedicated to a few little things that have made me happy and from now on, I hope to seek out activities that will provide meaning for me, no matter how big or small.

1. The most delicious stack of pancakes (and probably the prettiest too!)
2. Finding little snippets of text in a book and having it resonate so profoundly. I've really been enjoying reading I Wrote This for You during quiet moments (best for bus rides)
3. I really love how flowers are back in 'vogue' (even seen plated in cafes and restaurants. See: first photo). These images bring a huge smile to my face. Check out my Pinterest Board Floral Arrangements here
4. I started putting together my package for the Oh Comely Package Swap! I've really been enjoying putting care into the package and shopping for little gifts for my perfect stranger.

What little things have made you smile recently?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Tiny Tales from Paris #6: Odette

Today I found myself trawling through my Paris photos, and I felt these shots warranted another 'Tiny Tales' post. 

Odette cafe on 77 Rue Galande has to be one of the most gorgeous buildings in Paris. Before my trip, I made a mental note to pop into the area to see the building and maybe even grab a choux pastry (but who am I kidding, of course I wouldn't visit without one).

It came as a surprise, then, that the day in which I ended up visiting Odette was totally unplanned. It was a Sunday morning and, being used to having cafes open at 8am back home, mum and I made the mistake of waking up too early and then wandering the streets for ages in pursuit of a warm drink. It was luck that we stumbled upon Odette on the dot of opening. We took refuge in the warm cafe on the second floor and ordered two delectable and delicate violet choux balls alongside a cafe au lait for mum and chocolate chaud for me.

It was such a pleasant morning that stands out in my mind so clearly. The sun was shining, despite still being cold, and I delighted in sitting next to a little window that happens to give stunning views of Notre Dame. Evidently, the high price you pay for the choux pastries and drinks are probably influenced by said views, but in my opinion, it was 100% worth the experience.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Oh the Places I Want to Go

 Now that I have finished University for the semester, my daydreaming about travel has skyrocketed, especially now that I have been picking up more shifts at work. (Something's got to keep you motivated over those long work days after all!)

At this point in time, I have general plans to set off again during June 2016, after I would have officially completed my undergraduate studies. While I am eager to pursue postgraduate honors in English, I can't bear the thought of diving straight into another year right after I graduate from my bachelor degree. While I can't quite fathom the idea that I will be turning 21 next year, at the same time I still feel so young, so I may as well travel while I can! In the long run, I doubt that taking time off for six months will set me back.

There are so many places I am dying to visit, but I had to be realistic with my 2016 travel bucket list, due to both funds and time. I want to dedicate adequate amount of time to each country I visit in order to really soak up the culture.

So, below is my list of top 5 places I wish to visit during the European summer of 2016 (not including my highly probable return trip to France, because how could I not?). It's a pretty generalized list, but I'm hoping to narrow everything down over the coming months.

1.The Netherlands
I took a very short weekend trip to the Netherlands while I was in Paris at the beginning of the year, and I vowed to return, not only to see more of the countryside and my large extended family there, but to visit Amsterdam too! It looks stunning this time of year, and alongside that, the Dutch people in general seem so friendly.
2. England
There are so many spots in England that I would love to visit, London being the obvious one, but also the Lake District, Oxford, Brighton and Bath to name a few. My sister recently returned from a school trip which included a few days in London, and she said it was beyond her expectations (she would move there in a heartbeat), so now I'm even more eager to go.
3. Austria
 When I was little, I wrote a very whimsical story about a girl's trip to Austria that ended with her attending a masquerade ball. Evidently, something about the country has always enchanted me: from the gorgeous lakes to the artistic vibrancy of Vienna (and of course, those Viennese pastries look heavenly!)
4. Germany

I'm lucky enough to also have a cousin living in Germany, and he's always encouraged me to make a visit there sometime. I'm certainly not inclined to waste the opportunity! I know Munich and Berlin are very popular tourists spots which I very much intend to visit, but I would also like to give mountain hiking a go. From what I've seen of my cousins photos, German forests look a dream.
5. Sweden
While I'm not so knowledgeable about Scandinavian countries, from what I've seen, they look absolutely stunning! I feel like I'd be crazy not to pop over to Sweden over the course of future travels.  

Where do you wish to go?
*All images via Pinterest

Friday, June 5, 2015

Cookbook Review: Decorated by April Carter

"Can you imagine a birthday party, a wedding or even an afternoon tea without cake? For me, apart from the chance to satisfy my sweet tooth, a beautiful, thoughtfully crafted and delicious cake makes an occasion special, brings people together and makes them happy. I love that moment when the candles are blown out, the cake is cut, the slices are passed around and everyone gathers together to eat. All the better if you are the proud baker that made it happen"-- April Carter, Decorated

I'm the kind of person who jumps at any chance to whip up a cake, and April Carter's cookbook Decorated serves as a perfect guide to constructing delicious and impressive layer cakes that will wow friends and family. The format of the book is very comprehensible: alongside baking tips, essential cupboard ingredients and technical tips (such as adapting recipes for different cake tins), each chapter in the book is dedicated to a specific part of the cake making process, meaning it is very methodical and easy to follow. Chapter one, being the biggest chapter in the book, is made up of the cake recipes themselves. From there, chapter two delves into tips and techniques on how to colour and flavour buttercream, chapter three gives step by step instructions on how to construct a perfectly leveled layer cake and chapter four and five are all about decorating and final touches (my personal favourite part of the process!).

While I wish I could say that I have tried and tested every single recipe in the cookbook, so far I have only tried out two recipes being the Carrot, Orange and Golden Pecan Cake and the Fig and Almond Cake with Honey Vanilla Cream (see my recreation here). Both were absolutely delicious! It's always a little disappointing when the first recipe you try out of a new cookbook doesn't quite work out-I have had my fair share of baking disasters which put me off trying other recipes in a cookbook based on initial failures. It boosted my confidence getting such excellent results from the first two recipes I tried in Decorated and the fact that they turned out so successfully definitely makes me want to bake as many of the recipes in the cookbook as possible! 

The recipes themselves are quite varied and there are a good amount of chocolate cakes (you can never have enough chocolate in my opinion. It's always a crowd pleaser!). What I really like is that the basis of the cakes are quite simple, but it's the combination of flavours and presentation that make them shine! I'm hoping to find some opportunities to make the Sea Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake (pictured above), Apple, Parsnip and Rosemary Syrup Cake and White Rose Cake soon.

All in all, Decorated is my idea of the perfect cake cookbook if you enjoy baking and are interested in cake styling. I admit to not being the best at styling cakes, but I feel that Decorated is ideal for beginners as the styling is simple but also involves the mastering of a few techniques, all of which are explained in great depth with accompanying photos. The stunning photography, good amount of recipes and helpful guides make me feel like I'll be hanging on to this cookbook for years to come, and that it will remain a source of constant inspiration for everything; from birthday parties to modest afternoon teas.

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