Sunday, 14 March 2010

Awards, happiness, quicklinks and a conference

Quite some weeks ago I was given a Happy 101 award by both Katie of Apple and Spice and by Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups. It asks the recipient to write about 10 things that make me happy and 10 bloggers who brighten my day. So here is my response as well as saying thank you for the No Croutons Required award last month.>For those who aren’t in the mood for such things, just skip down and have a laugh at a few choice quicklinks.

Firstly I would like to thank Katie and Tanna for the award. Both are inspirational bakers. Katie is constantly coming up with brilliant ideas such as her recently carrot cake rolls and bakes wonderful sky high layer cakes. Tanna makes lots of wonderful food but I am constantly amazed by her bread baking. She bakes many intimidating loaves, including sourdough and posts lots of helpful and gorgeous photos.

10 Things that Make Me Happy:
Firstly, I found it difficult to choose just 10 things that made me happy. It didn’t seem such a bad thing to have many ways to make me smile and laugh. In the past I have written about my home, my family and my favourite foods, so instead of repeating these I decided to find little stabs of happiness that I could illustrate with photos. I have decided to be unusually succinct and let the photos (both new and archival) do the talking instead.

The Sea (Photo: Phuket, Thailand)

My Family Heritage (Photo: Menlo Castle, near Galway, Ireland)

The Blogosphere (Photo: my laptop)

A Comfortable Chair (Photo: Coburg, Melbourne)

Bookshops (Photo: Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France)

Attention to Detail (Photo: dish given to me by my Mother-in-Law)

Pottering in the Kitchen (Photo: my kitchen)

Old Buildings (Photo: Coburg, Melbourne)

Time with Sylvia (Photo: Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France)

Windmills (Photo: my backyard)

10 Bloggers Who Brighten My Day
After recently getting together a Kudos page I felt a wee bit guilty at how slack I have been in passing on awards when other bloggers have been so generous. I have avoided it because it is hard to narrow down a shortlist when there are so many wonderful blogs I love reading. However I have decided I should start to pass on awards as it is a great way of helping you and other readers to discover other blogs and to return some of the appreciation that has been sent my way.

Despite my resolve, I still found it hard to choose only 10 bloggers. Many cheer me up when I see in my blog reader that they have a new post. So I decided I needed a theme. Now that I have been blogging for almost 3 years one aspect of blogging that interests me is those blogs with a story arc. Mine is one with all the changes in my life. So I thought I would focus on some who have let us into their life.

I have tried to stick to bloggers who are still active but it seems that most bloggers tail off with their blogging after some time so some of these now post less regularly than they have in the past.

Diet, Dessert and Dogs: Ricki has always been a great raconteur with tales of her life in Toronto and a source of interesting vegetarian/vegan/gluten free recipes. Since she has started her blog, her desserts have become even more impressive because she makes them in spite of dietary restrictions. I have learnt a lot about candida by watching how Ricki copes with it. You might call her the Anti-Candida-Diet Queen!

Allotment 2 Kitchen: Mangocheeks has shared her joys and sorrows of having an allotment in Scotland. I have loved watching how her cooking is influenced by the food she grows and what she learns through gardening. She has recently shown her resilience in dealing with her allotment being trashed.

Tinned Tomatoes: Jacqueline (whom I first knew as Holler) was one of the first Scottish vegetarian bloggers I discovered. Since then she has married Graham and recently had a wee baby called Cooper. Despite this she is still co-hosting the No Croutons Required event and posting recipes to make you drool.

Lisa Dempster : Lisa is a Melbourne writer and a vegan who posts about writing and food. I love her local focus and eclectic posts. It has been great to see her writing career develop with the publication of her travel memoir, Neon Pilgrim (which I encourage you to read – even my mum loved it) and her recent appointment as Director of the Emerging Writers Festival.

Munchkin Mail: Lysy started her blog when her sister and family moved to New Zeland but it developed into much more than that. She has shared lots of interesting vegetarian recipes that are influenced by her love of history and Jewish family heritage. Her sister has returned to the UK now but I keep hoping for a follow up to her great cookie research project.

In the mood for noodles
: Kristy and Toby are a vegan couple living in Melbourne. Their blog grew out of Kristy’s solo blog (Kblog) and their blog journey has seen their wedding, their adoption of their cat, lots of great novelty cakes, travel and most recently Kristy’s diagnosis as a celiac. I have been won over by their local knowledge and great recipes.

Not Quite Nigella: Lorraine entered my radar when she held fantastic blog events to find great banana cakes and chocolate cakes. She further amused me with her Halloween party ideas and I am now in love with her quirky and creative baking. The photos are just gorgeous and the ideas just keep getting better. But she also amuses and entertains with posts full of stories about Mr NQN, her family and friends and her recent move into a new apartment in Sydney.

Eat Me Delicious: Ashley is another amazing baker with lots of impressive cakes and cookies but she also includes lots of great vegetarian dishes that I want to try. She has recently started posting photos of her cat Abby who is just beautiful. It is a interesting way of offering an insight into her life. I find it reassuring to read her admissions of how long it sometimes takes her to post recipes, due to her busy life as a student. It makes me feel less shamefaced about dredging up recipes that have been lingering in my backlog.

Where’s the Beef?: Cindy and Michael were the first bloggers I stumbled across who were both vegetarian and Melbourne-based. I love hearing about their life and travels through their food. They manage to travel both throughout country Victoria and interstate quite regularly. Their reviews of the vegetarian degustation in Melbourne’s high end restaurants, have made me feel that I can have posh nosh when eating out if only I could organize my life. It has also been interesting to see their journey in learning to cook and bake both vegan and gluten free.

La Tartine Gourmande
Bea is not someone whom I exchange comments with, unlike the others in this list, but I wanted to feature her blog because I enjoy it on a number of levels. The photos are gorgeous, I love hearing about her little girl Lulu, her life as a French woman in America is interesting and she has lots of great recipes. I particularly like that many of her baking is gluten free without any overt references to a gf diet. It makes gluten free baking seem so much more normal and interesting. She shares lovely stories about her life and has a cookbook due out next year.

Now the bit that I hate most – the rules! I will comment to these people above to let them know they can participate if they want (though not straight away because I have to get to bed) but I know you are also busy and it is really here for those who are able and willing. No pressure!

1. Copy the award image into a post
2. Then list 10 things that make you happy
3. Tag 10 bloggers who brighten your day
4. Put in a link to their blogs
5. Notify the award receivers
6. Award recipients must link back to sender's blog

Of course there are lots of blogs I love reading that I didn’t list but you also brighten my day and are welcome to join in if you so desire.

No Croutons Required – my soup was a winner!

Lisa and Jacqueline have held their No Croutons Required event to bring together those making vegetarian soups and salads for almost two years now. The event continually inspires me and the most recent challenge was to copy a soup from a favorite restaurant. I made a Parsnip Soup with Walnut Ravioli and Carrot Cream that was inspired by David Bann. It was humbling to have it voted the favourite of the month, so I would like to thank the voters and especially thank Lisa and Jacqueline for their continuing work on this event.

Chocolate Cake Quicklinks

I always enjoy reading others' quicklinks so thought I would include a few of my own that I have come across lately. Strangely enough they were all related to chocolate cake. Coincidence? Surely not!

  • With St Patrick’s Day coming up I had hoped I might have time to try a Green Velvet Cake but I suspect I wont find the time. Instead I am sharing this link in the hope that others might be inspired.
  • If you like to judge books by their title, surely you would be tempted to read a novel called Chocolate Cake with Hitler
  • I am tempted by the idea of a chocolate cake sandwiched together with nutella and blueberry jam. So much nicer than cream (sorry mum)!
  • For those with a hygiene fetish, here is the ideal way to ensure that the birthday cake is not a breeding ground of germs once some little gromit has spluttered his or her germs over it in the name of blowing out candles. Someone has invented a plastic shield called the Slobber Stopper. Be very afraid!
  • For a long time I have wanted to try Nigella’s coca-cola cake but Mangocheeks takes it one step further and makes Vegan Marshmallow Cocoa and Cola Cakes. Sounds good to me.

Eat. Drink. Blog. Conference

Melbourne bloggers have put a lot of work into organizing the first local bloggers conference called Eat. Drink. Blog. on Sunday 21 March next weekend. I put my name down to register and have a place at the conference. Unfortunately it is a day before I go to Sydney for work so I wont be able to go to the dinner, and I am wondering how many people I will know there, but there is an exhibition I hope to be able to see, the program sounds interesting and it will have a few familiar faces so I am looking forward to it. Maybe I will see you there!

That’s all folks! Sorry for the long self-indulgent post. Most recipes on their way soon!


  1. I so loved this post! Your photos are breathtaking... I especially love the one of Sylvia's adorable hands on the laptop! :-)

  2. Love the photos and the happiness they represent to you! It's a bit strange, though, as I was intending to visit that cemetary today but got caught up wandering around Montmatre... hopefully tomorrow, and I'll be keeping an eye out for that statue. Can you remember whose tomb it was?

  3. What a great way to deal with the 10 things award - loved the photos you chose they showed much more about your characters than just words. You've highlighted some blogs I haven't heard of before so it was fun reading through them.

  4. I just loved this post, Johanna. An almost perfect way to "meet" someone new under the circumstances. In one amazing post, I have learned a wee bit about you, your blogging friends(can't wait to visit new bloggers:) and interests! So nice to "meet" you and thank you for popping in at my blog too:) Bookmarked!!!

  5. I'll be at the conference too - see you there!

    I also lent Neon Pilgrim to my mum and it was her holiday reading highlight. Maybe the back cover of the second edition needs positive review quotes from mums only. :-D

  6. thanks!!! cant wait to read all these new blogs!

  7. Aww Johanna thankyou so much for the shoutout! I'm so flattered. I love reading about you and Sylvia and your family and I always get very excited when I see pics of Sylvia. She's adorable :D

  8. I'll see you and Cindy at the conference :)

  9. Thanks!

    And I'll be at the conference too!

  10. Now that was fun. Wonderful to see how you used really just the photos!

  11. Thanks Astra - very kind of you - and very kind of sylvia to model for me :-)

    Thanks Hannah - as I said in email - please let me know if you find the name of the grave - I find it such a touching sculpture

    Thanks Katie - I felt that the photos stopped me writing too much about a happy top 10 - but then I just had more energy for writing other things

    Thanks Louise - a timely visit indeed - glad you enjoyed your sojourn here

    Thanks Cindy - will see you there (would offer you a lift but I bet that Sylvia will keep me home longer than I intend like this morn when she woke as I was about to leave for work) I am sure mothers everywhere would love neon pilgrim - maybe Lisa needs to market it as a mother's day delight :-)

    Thanks Carla - enjoy!

    Thanks Lorraine - I love anyone who loves my little girl - and I am sure Sylvia would love your baking too!

    Thanks AOF - look forward to seeing you there and to hearing you speak

    Thanks Lisa - yay - another familiar face (as with cindy - happy to offer a lift if you need one will probably be late)

    Thanks Tanna - glad you had as much fun reading as I had to put this together! Blogging is lots of fun!

  12. Thanks, you made my day with your link to our blog!

    And I love your happy list, I share you love of several things and agree with Astram love sylvia in the pics!

    Would love to go the conference but things are still pretty hectic here at the moment.

  13. Thanks Kristy - and you are even nice enough not to comment on my typo with your name - it is fixed now - glad to spread a little joy! Am sure you will read about the conference - bloggers just can't resist a post or two where these events are concerned

  14. Thank you for the award and kind words Johanna, I know how hard it is to choose just a few bloggers for an award like this, when so many bring food and laughter into our lives every day. I like the way you handled it, with the photos. Nice touch!

  15. Thanks for including me in this great list, Johanna! And I look forward to checking out the other blogs.

    Your list is terrific--I love your photos. (That chair!!). I think you've covered a majority of my own happiness-inducing things, but will make an attempt to compile my own list, too.

    Have a wonderful time at the conference--I'm sure it will be a smashing success, and wish I could be there!

  16. Johanna,
    Thank you so, so much for humbling me with this award and putting a link from your blog. I am truly touched to be connected to your blog this way. Your blog and Jacquelines Tinned Tomatoes were the first two veg-friendly blogs I came across and instantly adored. That feeling still remains.

    I also wanted to say, Thank you so much for the kindness and encouragment you have shown me. It has been greatly appreciated.

  17. I'm honoured to be in such company :) I will have to give some careful thought as to how to respond to the award as creatively as you did! It looks as though Sylvia is continuing the culinary love judging by some of the photos - can't wait for the first post featuring her own creations!

  18. Aw wow thank you Johanna!! =) I feel very honoured to have made your list! I loved seeing the 10 things that make you happy, and especially love that you put pottering in the kitchen as one of them.


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