butterscotch walnut scrolls

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hi! let’s catch up on life shall we?

i just began a new job! i know what you’re thinking, you’ve been unemployed for nearly a month Anna? what are you doing girl! weeeeellll… long story there. I arrived back from wanaka on the 2nd of february, then raced up to wellington to visit my cute friends on the 7th. the day before i left, i placed two rather fateful job applications on trademe jobs. one a rather aspirational choice – a job that i loved the thought of, that would challenge and excite me – and the other a café job, so a pretty safe bet. the latter got in touch with me a couple of hours later, and i went in for an interview that afternoon. after two hours of straight interviews, i was offered a job on the spot, and was told to be in touch the next day to confirm i wanted the job, or the offer would disappear. i decided to take the job – it seemed frankly dumb to turn a guaranteed job down, and i knew that i really needed to get earning.

a couple of days later, while in wellington, i was contacted by the dreamy job for an interview. regrets!! the fact i was in wellington and so not able to come into the office wasn’t the worst of it – i started the other job the very day (friday) i was back in town and knowing hospo, would be required to work over the weekend as well. i just didn’t know when i would be available for an interview, and didn’t want to burn bridges with the job i’d just acquired – after all there was no guarantee i’d be offered this other (awesome) job. i sent back an apologetic reply and was so annoyed that i wasn’t in a good position to take advantage of the chance to interview. i soon fell out of touch with these people, and thought i’d lost my chance.

once i arrived back to christchurch, after a truly blissful time, i got straight into working at the café. it was… weird. fully anticipating to struggle heaps the first day (because, well: it’s the first day, it’s never going to be this hard or intimidating again!), it actually was not too bad, but in the days that followed, i could just not shake my unease about the environment, and the prospect of spending 40 hours a week at this place. my coworkers were weirdly forthcoming about how much they adored working there, and especially working for the boss – this machiavellian figure alternately up in the attic-like office, or prowling the floor, and the amount of rules down to the atom frankly irritated me. i’m all for a structured environment, but this felt clone-like. my doubts were confirmed when a throwaway remark about not enjoying being put on the feral dishes prompted a meeting (in the middle of my shift) up in the aerie, and when i confirmed that the job wasn’t really for me, things got nasty.

however! silver linings, y’all, because the very next day after my ungraceful exit, i made a visit to the workplace of the lovely job, and it turned out that things around the office had been busy and the job was still available! so, i went in for a couple of interviews, and at the end of the second one, was offered the place. i was absolutely over the moon, and texted all my friends, who had listened to my travails with kindness and sympathy. i am a working lady again, and frankly couldn’t feel better. the best part is, no matter how challenging or testing my new job becomes, it is always going to appear wonderful compared to the other one!

i also have a recipe for you! cinnamon scrolls are a favourite of mine – i find they’re the perfect amount of sweet without being sickly. and i have been eyeing up deb’s recipe for sticky pecan buns since she posted it! i have a favourite bread dough recipe which i used instead of her’s, which actually is a recipe for baps from the lovely (and kiwi) destitute gourmet. these were very forgiving, flexible delights and served very well for a sunday morning tea with one of my sweet friends. paired with strong coffee, they are a delight. and they even freeze well fully cooked too! i used our homegrown walnuts but either would be fine. enjoy! xx

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Butterscotch Walnut Scrolls

adapted from smitten kitchen and destitute gourmet
3 1/3 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
50 g cold butter, in small cubes
1 packet instant yeast
1 ½ tsp sugar
125 ml milk
125 ml warm water
Blitz the flour, salt and butter in the food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk in the yeast and sugar, then slowly stir in the liquids. Knead until a smooth soft dough (about 5-10 mins) and then put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size.
Butterscotch 
100g butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup cream
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and swirl occasionally for 3-5 mins. Pour into the baking dish and pop in the fridge to cool before assembling the scrolls.
Filling
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
30g butter, melted
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Stir together sugar, salt and spices. Put the dough on a floured bench and roll out to a large rectangle. Brush with melted butter and then sprinkle over sugar mix. Roll up and gently cut into 12 equal slices. Sprinkle the walnuts evenly into the butterscotch dish then arrange the rolls on top. Either let the rolls proof again immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight – then let proof in the morning.
Heat the oven to 180C. Place the scrolls in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Let cool on the bench for 5 – 10 mins before inverting the dish on a platter. Serve with pride!
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happiness & heroines

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^^the only thing this opposite-of-a-hoarder collects^^
if you know me in real life, this post will come as no surprise to you – i looooove period dramas. in fact, #1 on my bucket list is to be an extra in a period drama. starring in one is just a little too unrealistic, you know? and if there’s one thing i appreciate, it’s an achievable to do list ;)
If i somehow got access to a time machine, Regency era London would be my first stop. but since time machines still belong to the realm of science fiction (a genre i’m much less partial to, by the way), i escape to this world via the page and the screen.
i’ve been on quite the historical classic bender recently – I read a couple of Heyer’s, Northanger Abbey and North and South, so i thought i’d write a post about my favourite places to get my fix:

 

books:

Georgette Heyer
my favourite author of all time. My grandma introduced me to her books when I was 13 and ever since then I’ve read every book of hers I could get my hands on. i just love their impulsive heroines, dashing heroes, hilarious characters dialogue, exciting plots and of course the perfect romantic endings. why none of her books have been turned into films or mini series is such a mystery to me!
my favourites: arabella, these old shades, devil’s cub, regency buck and the black moth.
Jane Austen
i’m a little slack in that i’ve only read pride and prejudice and northanger abbey (I know, i know) but her film adaptions are so great!! sense and sensibility is currently on my bedside table so i’m excited to let you all know my verdict.
Elizabeth Gaskell
i just read North and South but haven’t made it to the rest of hers yet – but apparently wives and daughters and cranford are both excellent!

 

films/mini series:

Sense and Sensibility with Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman – oh my goodness Rickman is INCREDIBLE in his portrayal of Colonel Brandon. This film has such an amazing cast and I could watch it over and over.
Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth – the definitive pride and prejudice adaption. colin firth and jennifer ehle are perfection as these characters.
Northanger Abbey with JJ Feild – the book drags in places so i reckon the film does a better job of advancing the story along, and Feild makes a very charismatic Tilney. love it!
Emma with Romola Garai – the best emma adaption! Garai is a sparkling Emma.

 

adaptions:

the Lizzie Bennet Diaries – haha you knew this was coming. so good!
Emma Approved – also fantastic – the leads have incredible chemistry and I’ve always had a soft spot for Knightley, who is portrayed impeccably.
From Prada to Nada – great fun, a lot less trashy than it may appear!
Clueless – again very true to the novel and with gorgeous leads.
and last but not least..
Austenland – i actually enjoyed this so much! if only austenland actually existed … you know i would totally visit.

catlins calling

i’m in wanaka at the moment, which is definitely rates very highly in the nz pretty places list, but i wanted to backtrack to a day trip i took in the midst of exams with my very dear clara and jess.
we all had a significant break between exams which we wanted to exploit to do some adventuring, and the catlins topped our little bucket list.
a quick geographical representation of where all these towns i talk about situate themselves in nz:

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^^going anticlockwise, we have Christchurch, Timaru, Oamaru, Dunedin, the Catlins, Invercargill and Wanaka^^

the catlins, of course, are that picture the very lowest on the map, and are a drive down the east coast from dunedin.

our top picks to see were:

the purakaunui falls

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nugget point + lighthouse

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the mclean falls

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and we were more than content to allow for any other serendipitous occurrences on our way, which included a sheep traffic jam (only in NZ), a visit to a kitsch café with an alarming amount of frog figurines, a donkey sighting, teapot land (oh gosh) and two more waterfalls.

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we sure packed a lot into one day!

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happy new year!

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how are you? happy new year to you and yours, oh goodness it’s 2016. how futuristic does that sound?? given that i still read best before dates and think 2010, thats quite recent isn’t it … oh, that’s 5 6 years ago!

 

not terribly much to report since i chatted here last. i had a gorgeous family christmas complete with divine food and cute presents, and i’ve been working lots since then, back at my café job. it’s been lovely slotting back into a place that although much of the staff are different, the same vibe, procedures and environment are the same – much easier, i suspect, than this time last year when i was struggling along trying to learn everything and digest it as well as i could!

 

when i haven’t been working there’s been boating adventures, lots and lots of swimming in the lake, and the other day we zipped off to queenstown, which is just an hour’s drive. we visited the nz cafe of the year, bespoke kitchen, and had an extraordinary lunch of smoked salmon, poached eggs, rosti and salad, along with a shared chia pudding delight and some terribly healthy and delicious raw truffles which we devoured later on.

 

before i launch into this year’s intentions, i wanted to quickly check up on my 2015 ones, in the spirit of being accountable and reliable and all that 😉 (and yes, i did have to check the original post haha!) they were:
  1. consistent with running
  2. stop interrupting
  3. figure out postgrad
  4. give back to community
  5. blog
ok..
running – yes, i was good! i didn’t manage the half marathon because of a pesky injury but i have high hopes i’ll do one this year.
interrupting – ugh, i suppose i’m more aware of it now, so hopefully that will lead to a reduction? still a tough one, i have so many thoughts that i want to share!
postgrad – well, i’ve completely submitted my application for the course that i very very much wish to pursue, so it’s a waiting game now!
community – ooh, i did this! i helped to organise and MC a perfectly fantastic series of panels on an issue very close to my heart.
blog – yes, as my recent 50 post anniversary shows 😉

 

as for 2016:

 

i feel less fervent about my resolutions this year, i suppose because i know this year is going to be quite a different beast than any i’ve experienced before. last year i felt the year ahead was a predictable meander of uni, friends, parties, study, exams, and repeat. this year, i’m living at home for the first 2/3, working, and then fingers crossed i’ll be zipping off for some postgrad study in september somewhere quite, quite different from dear old dunedin! i think therefore, because i don’t really know what my life will look like this year, that it’s harder to pin down any particular self improvements or missions.
i do have a few flexible intentions, and these can of course be expressed by a collection of my much adored pinterest quotes:

 

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  1. stay ‘tremendously interested’ in my passions
– i adore chinese, french and economics (barring macro, naturally). while i hold out hope that my job will include any of these on some incremental level, chances are a typical workday for me won’t involve application of economics thought, a chat in chinese or an article in french, so i need to find ways to keep these alive in my everyday life. i would quite like to get a subscription to the Economist (and look super smart reading it 😉 , and absolutely keep up my languages via podcasts, articles and hopefully an obliging friend who’ll bear my dodgy grammar. just 30 minutes or so a day will surely have meaningful and positive effects so i just have to think big picture (when all i want to do is refresh instagram or blob in front of reality tv)

 

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  1. be brave
this year, as i’ve said, is going to be markedly different. there is going to be lots of change which isn’t something i generally care for. i am also most likely going to be in the position frequently where i don’t feel entirely comfortable, whether it’s because i don’t yet know the ropes, or it’s not an ideal situation. i really really want to be brave in these situations, not to stress myself out or worry or get teary (it doesn’t take much!) being able to remain calm and positive is so important in life, and it all comes down to me and my reaction. and if i can figure out at least some of that this year, and how i can help myself be this way, so much the better.

 

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  1. be a good friend
this applies to both friends in the same place and separated geographically, the latter unfortunately comprises most of my dear uni friends! staying in touch with these gems is very important, as well as nurturing friendships in christchurch so that i have more mates than my mum and my sister 😉 i’m hoping to establish standing weekly/fortnightly dates with some of those local friends, so that our busy lives don’t get the better of us now that friendship isn’t so convenient and effortless as it is when you’re an undergraduate student!

 

i think that just about covers it – i could add in things about exercise, or healthy eating, or projects, but i think i’ll leave it there. so, one last time, happy 2016! all the kissing heart emojis to you sweet things xx

19 days

..until Christmas!

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hello! did my title freak you out a little? just maybe? how is the christmas shopping going?

the christmas spirit is well and truly alive in our house. we put our christmas tree up on the 29th (first time ever in november!) and it is as pretty as a picture. we also have stunning spiky star ornaments in the entrance way, and new fairy lights in the outside area, plus our wonderful fabric advent calendar.

i’ve been working full time this week! it feels good being back into the swing of things and i’m enjoying the work i’ve been doing. plus it’s comforting finally having some money finally entering my bank account instead of just leaving it – paying rent on our flat in dunedin until 31 Dec is no joke.

my hair is getting longer hallelujah, and some careful application of fake tan has me a pale golden, so i’m feeling good at life. i’m also trying to eat better which is much easier a) at home and b ) in summer, with all the beautiful fruits and vegetables in season right now.

reading: just finished Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling and The Vacationers by Emma Straub. Mindy is just so great! i adore her (though danny on the mindy project is starting to stress me out!) The Vacationers i would give maybe a 3.5 star? not a book i would recommend shouting from the rooftops, but one i enjoyed reading on our visit to corsair bay the other week. need to get back to the library for some more books!

cooking: lots of salads from the ripe books – the two in the picture are gado gado and autumn brown rice. both delicious!

making: a book of my university experience! i just bought an art notebook with unlined pages and went to town. I was inspired by this book and this lady. here is a sample page! (except now i’m having second thoughts about the bagel decision – kiki beware does a sensational veggie bagel and bacon buttie bagel … qualms!)

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i just wanted something that was not a photo album and that recorded all the little details i would be likely to forget about my daily life for three years as a student in dunedin. having it pretty and funny (at least to me, low standards remember) was an added bonus! there are way more pages, so i can just keep adding to it as i think of more things to include. a lovely creative project for my last week or so of holiday.

lately

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how does that saying go, if you need something done ask a busy person to do it?

sounds about right: i’ve been the opposite of busy these last ten days and needless to say, i haven’t accomplished much. sorting my bedroom out, working on my CV and some application details for next year is as far as i’ve got.

i had grand plans of making a marvellous photo book of my three years at university, writing my sweet friends darling letters and doing masses of language study – but not enough time has passed for me to truly miss dunedin or have massive deep meaningful things to write in letters to my friends, and as for the last item, well i guess the fact that there are no deadlines or tests coming up for either language means i’m just not motivated to study them.

what, then, have i been up to? besides sitting on the couch and drinking coffee, that is…

running – verry determined to keep fit over the summer and managing to so far! it helps that christchurch truly is a gorgeous place to run around – the moniker ‘the garden city’ is very apt. trees line the streets and the new green leaves simply glow in the sunlight!

reading – always a treat to get back to fictional books after a long year of heavy textbook readings. i’ve read we are all completely beside ourselves (good) the girl in the spiders web (masterful) someday someday maybe (average) and currently alternating my time between bad samaritans (a book about economic development my dad’s lent me) and the world to come (a queer little story, reminiscent of a history of love, which i’m enjoying, but feel like it is to be read slowly and not in one sitting).

cooking – dinner for the family! adoring the beautiful asparagus and new potatoes the season has brought us. promise to bring you a fun healthy recipe soon – we have the cookbook plenty which i’m dying to make something from.

checking out christchurch cafés – trip to addington the other day which was lovely as always. we also went to laneway espresso yesterday and the caravan the dukes of sandwich, to celebrate my sister being 5 exams down! i had the most insane sandwich – strips of smoky, charcoal-y pork belly with an apple slaw, homemade gooey bbq sauce, salad and ciabatta bun – and for only $12!

back to work soon, so of course once that begins i’ll start doing much more exciting things in my free time! i’m already excited for christmas and my mum and i have been plotting the dessert we’ll contribute – we saw a stunning trifle recipe which might just pop up on the christmas table (maybe i’ll do a trial run so i can blog about it). only 35 days to go!

ps – while this has been an upbeat blog post, i just wanted to add that my heart has been very heavy with all the loss and sadness in the news lately. paris, beirut, the syrian refugees, the passing of beloved jonah lomu, and many more tragedies have meant that having my eyes well with tears while reading the news has been a daily occurrence. sending all my love to all those who are hurting around the world.

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it… always.” – Mahatma Gandhi

grub street diet

I stumbled across the ny times feature grub street diet when naomi from love taza was featured, and spent many study, uh, ‘intervals’ enjoying reading about the different people and diets they had. and it made me want to do one, and since the ny times is approximately 3 million light years away from asking a random girl from new zealand to write one for them, i figured i would just write one for the blog! self obsessed? narcissistic? never! (well i guess you have to be a little to blog right?)

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^^evidence i was at the farm!^^

so here we go:

tuesday 2 june

I’m staying at my grandparents farm for a couple of days away from Dunedin. my grandpa had made me porridge, so all that was left for me to do was reheat it on the stove. he makes good traditional porridge made with water, oats and a hefty dose of salt – i never salt my porridge at home, but i love his porridge. topped with some of my grandma’s stewed apple and a drizzle of creamy blue milk.
i then make myself a flat white on my grandma’s coffee machine – when town is a twenty minute drive, it makes sense to have your own espresso machine! I put my barista skills to good use with a cute fern latte art.

i reluctantly refuse a thick slice of homemade bread toast, as i’ve slept in rather late and i’m informed we’re going out for lunch.
while my grandma goes to yoga, me and my grandpa drive to riverton, a cute seaside village  interwined with plenty of family history. we’re visiting because my grandpa’s aunt: Sister Marion Brown, a nurse in WWI, is on display at the museum. Marion went to care for troops in WWI, and was killed when the ship she was on was torpedoed. the exhibit is very moving and it hurts my heart to think of how many people suffered and sacrificed so much for us: my life seems so breezy and lucky compared!

we go to the beach house cafe for lunch, and while i’m sad to see the announcement “no blue cod” on the blackboard (my very favourite food) my grandpa assures me that orange roughy, which is it’s replacement is just as delicious. he orders seafood chowder, as he is wont to do. our lunch arrives – mine an enormous piece of tempura battered fish on chunky chips and a lush salad, with homemade tartare sauce on the side. i am in heaven – orange roughy is delicious! apparently it was close to disappearing after over fishing but thankfully steps have been taken and it’s doing ok again. (ps i just googled and they live up to 130 years!!! wow!)
upon our arrival home, i put the kettle on and have a cup of english breakfast tea with milk and sugar, along with one of my grandma’s crispy crunchy biscuits.

we have a beautiful selection of nibbles – stewart island smoked salmon, blue cheese and an oozy brie, accompanied by homemade lavosh and homemade quince paste. i am in heaven.
dinner is a big piece of pork belly with lots of crackling, mashed potato, cauliflower cheese, runner beans and carrots, plus a lovely montana sauvignon blanc. it takes me a while but i manage to finish!

a sneaky cup of sweet milky decaf black tea as i sit on the couch with the cricket on in the background and the full cupboard of life on my lap, feeling very satisfied with life!

wednesday 3 june

alas, my time at the farm has come to a close and its time for me to head back to student land (dunedin) and the stuffy embrace of the library. i farewell the farm with another big bowl of porridge, with stewed apricots this time, a doorstop of peanut butter and honey toast (the honey from my aunty’s bees) and another fern topped flat white.

this keeps me going until i get back to the flat at 2 (flooding in dunedin causes delays) and feeling faintly nauseous from the drive, all i feel like is frozen peas, barely defrosted in the microwave. i top this off (figuratively) with a wedge of my grandma’s fruitcake.

sodden from my short walk to the library – the rain really is bucketing down- dunedin experiencing a tempest it seems, i console myself and my revulsion at being back here with a tangy cup of blood orange tea. arriving back at the flat for dinner, we enjoy slow cooker chicken with pumpkin, rice and more peas. i have a cup of english breakfast to pretend i’m back at the farm, and curl up with it in the armchair and watch the news of the dire weather conditions around dunedin – at least our flat’s not flooded, as houses in other suburbs are!

refusing to set foot in the storm again, i use the dining table for desk and have another cup of tea and some more fruitcake to power my economic modelling of tax evasion.

(the next 7 days were a blur of hardcore eco study, so i picked my chronicling back up the day of my third eco exam)

wednesday 10 june

feeling antsy at the thought of my 3rd eco exam in as many days, i decide that some protein is what i need for breakfast. i bought beautiful free range eggs at the supermarket the other day so i decide to have egg with soldiers. the egg is perfect – lovely and runny, a good 5 minute egg. the soldiers are less so as we’ve run out of butter so i have to use the manky pam’s budget spread which makes them soggy rather than buttery, but the rich, red-orange yolk makes up for them. Chased by a long black with a glug of cream, i head to the library to absorb some more knowledge before my exam that afternoon.

clara and i head to our favourite fluid by the library for one last flat white (for her at least, our exam today is her last exam!). they know us and our orders (thanks in part, no doubt, to our trendy keep cups) and we feel terribly flattered. i sip away on it at the library, learning terms which would ultimately turn out to be entirely useless (how is it that we made a list of 54 definitions and we somehow missed out 4 out of the 6 we ended up being asked??)

we head home for lunch after a stop at the language department (me) and the kitten cuddle area (clara). i’m still feeling nervous so i just have a couple of tart granny smiths with peanut butter – i melt it and drizzle it over them like icing!

the exam goes fine – we are miffed over the definitions (the terms she hinted during the semester are nowhere to be found), but long answer are more forgiving. i head home to cook a big comfort food fest – creamy beef stroganoff, garlicky potato gratin, homemade focaccia bread and green beans (i know, why even bother!)

i very much enjoy having the living room to myself while everyone is at the library and watch game of thrones avidly with nothing but a cup of silver tea in my hand (the classy way of saying hot water- still feeling very full from the double carb dinner!)

thursday 11 june

giddy at being close to freedom with just one exam left to sit (on tuesday), i sleep in until 10.30 after binge watching game of thrones until very late last night – my flatmates are up to date and i’m terrified they’re going to let something slip – i absolutely detest spoilers.
I reheat the last of the potato gratin from last night and top it with a crispy fried egg for breakfast, followed by a strong long black with a dash of milk, and sit enjoying the sunshine and relishing the thought of having a day away from the library.

after meeting up with nel who i hadn’t seen for far too long, i return home and watch the latest two episodes of game of thrones – i’m determined to get up to date now! i have another snack of peanut butter and apple and a cup of milky english breakfast.

my friend madeleine comes over with cold brew coffee and cashews in tow. we enjoy the cold brew in my glass mason jar mugs with ice and a little milk. i go to work and enjoy catching up with my coworker, then return home at 8.40 and eat cold beef stirfry that my flatmate made for dinner, followed by some blood orange tea and a couple of squares of the new peanut and pretzel cadbury chocolate. my flatmates get home from the library and we discuss our predictions for the game of thrones finale.

friday 12 june

upon waking up i hear rain on the roof, but thankfully by the time i leave the house it’s cleared up. I have scrambled eggs with some tangy homemade relish and a long black with milk, then i finally drag myself out the door and arrive at the library- not the same without clara’s company, and hanging out for jess to return on saturday.

after some half hearted study, i zip to the gym. oh drat, i’ve forgotten my ID – but thankfully i was at arana with the guy on reception and he waves me through with a smile. after the gym i head back to the library and have a couple of carrots with (the shame!) garlic lovers hummus. hoping the girl next to me doesn’t hate me!

i go home an hour later and have a shower then watch the final of greys with some tea and fruitcake. all this tv watching i’ve been doing in the last 24 hours has been blissful, but now i just feel disappointed to be up to date in everything! my flatmate bounds in the door after a very successful exam (it was basically the same as the last years practise one he had studied!) and we chat for a while then he goes to drop our friend off at the airport – she’s off home for the break. i reluctantly leave too to get back to the library. i complete online french quizzes while nibbling at some organic trail mix my mum sent me in a care package. i come home at 8.30ish and heat up the leftover beef stroganoff with some leftover rice, and eat it on the couch in the warm living room while my flatmates watch the highlanders (otago rugby team) slaughter the blues (auckland)!

~the following thursday: I am home! it is wonderful! i’m the happiest clam to be finished with exams and reunited with my sweet family. now that i have use of the home kitchen expect lots of fun recipes to be coming your way! back soon xxx