Down Under Easter

When I started this blog, one of my first posts was about Easter in Finland. I have come a long way since then (pun intended), and this Easter I spent surprisingly in Down Under, the land of hot cross buns and Easter Egg Hunt a week later than ours. To be honest my Easter was very un-Eastery, although I did organize a bit of a hunt for my housemates, and did nibble on a bit of chocolate as well. No massive feasts (besides Grill’d mushroom burger), sugar comas (caffeine hits don’t count) or that sort of traditional things, and above all: no spring time. The leaves are falling off trees, and when it is +25 and sunny one day, the next it feels like I’m back in Finland. When it’s October.

Apparently there's no Easter without these: Hot cross buns with fruit, chocolate or who knows what else.
Apparently there’s no Easter without these: Hot cross buns with fruit, chocolate or who knows what else.

This past week has been rather good: I managed to fit in 3 (small) road trips! First of them was ex-tempore bathing session in mornington Peninsula Hot Springs. If you ever come to these hoods, I highly recommend taking a good soak. Good Japan memories, though this place had few hundred people, most of them either Brits or Americans. I suggest going towards the closing time during a weekday, so you have more private bathing session.

So called Beach Bush.
So called Beach Bush.

Besides hot springs, we went on a day cruise along the peninsula east of melbourne, all the way to the tip. Lovely small beach towns dot the coast, and despite it being Good Friday, cafes and restaurants seemed to be somewhat open. Later on that night I locked myself into a bathroom and poured a decent amount of sand into the bed, but that’s another story.

On Saturday I had a proper sleep-in for the first time since I came to Australia (!!), brunch in the city and some me-time shopping. Caught up with a friend from Bali who I randomly ran into in H&m (God bless!), and ended up eating ramen in the street waiting for the epic lunar eclipse. I kinda missed the whole red moon part, but it was fun nevertheless!

Feeding Joe. Not scared at all.
Feeding Joe. Not scared at all.

I also ventured to fulfill one of my lifetime goals: to see a koala and penguins. In maru koalapark did I not only see a koala (awake!), but also got to feed kangaroos. It might seem a bit dumb to pay to see kangaroos when apparently they’re everywhere and koalas are not that rare, either, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Now I’ve seen the real-life difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby, and I might enlighten you some day as well. Still to remain to be seen: wombats and pandas (latter not found here, though). The penguins hang out in Philip Island, few hours away from melbourne, but since we were early birds and too impatient to hang around until sunset, we only saw them chilling in their little box houses. Cute lil’ fellas, I must say. Luckily I can go to St. Kilda beach to see penguins, apparently they live there too!

Waves!
Waves!

That’s it for my Easter. It didn’t even really feel like one, though I did Skype with good ol’ grandparents back home (grandpa still thinks it costs millions to call overseas). It was a good long weekend with a special feeling. Hopefully there’s more similar to come, public holidays or not.

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Day Off

What does one do when they get a day (or two) off in the middle of the week when everyone else is working (thanks, hospitality job). In melbourne there is always something going on: a proof of this is that I stumbled onto a free lunch time meditation in Fed Square on my walk.

Day off, sleep-in. To me this means waking up at 9 the latest. Since I had the time and the weather was gorgeous +26 degrees (hello, Autumn!) yesterday, I decided to walk to the city along Yarra River. I was listening to an audio book for the first time in a while, which was relaxing.

Leaves getting brown before falling off.
Leaves getting brown before falling off.

Sidenote: Even though Australia is considered as somewhat efficient country, their services such as teleoperators and bank services have not been that great in my experience. I could easily add to this list ticket services, because of a hassle I went through to get certain tickets refunded. Note to customer services in no matter what field: if you refund a customer, please let them know so they won’t have the hassle of going to your office to make sure you have done your job. Cheers.

I had read earlier about an exhibition by CJ Hendry presented by The Cool Hunter. Luckily enough, as I was walking around in Fitzroy I randomly found the exhibition. CJ Hendry’s 50 Foods in 50 Days consists of, yeah you guessed it, 50 dishes, meticulously hand-drawn on French designer plates in 50 days. The dream meals of death-row inmates include whole squid, fries, m&m’s and cocaine. All of the ‘photo realism’ pieces were sold even before opening the exhibition, which is easy to believe having seen them live. If it were for me, I’d probably take the one with macarones on it, or the giant snow crab.

Last temptation: a lollypop.
Last temptation: a lollypop.
mmmmmmmm.
mmmmmmmm beans.

It’s been a (way long) while since I’ve been to any gallery or exhibition, and I definitely should go more. This particular one was interesting not only because of the art pieces, but the pieces of great product design that were sold in the venue. From luxury single origin chocolate (hello, mast Brothers) to caramel butter popcorn to art books and Greek honey, all the products screamed premium branding.

Yes this is coffee.
Yes this is coffee.

From Fitzroy I ventured to Abbotsford Convent, popular especially amongst poor travelers and hippies because of their nice grass lawn and pay what you want vegetarian restaurant Lentils As Anything. I’ve been to lentils once before, but that time it was a la carte instead of their normal buffet-style dining. I highly appreciate the idea of paying what you can for your meal, and having the place run by volunteers, but unfortunately some people take advantage of the freedom of not paying for their food. The meal was actually a bit disappointing, to be honest, since two of the dishes were mainly potatoes. In addition there was rice, tossed salad with dressing, and some soupy thing with a few beans and oil. Suggested donation for food: 12 dollars. We didn’t get to dessert because we didn’t realize to get that on the first round, and the queue to the restaurant was probably at least few hundred meters. Popular as anything! Good thing about exploring with time is you never know what you might find; a cute coffee shop, 2 dollar sushi rolls, an interesting exhibition or just cool looking random buildings.

This is a bottle shop (and who knows what else). And there's a skeleton climbing in or out of the window.
This is a bottle shop (and who knows what else). And there’s a skeleton climbing in or out of the window.

South Yarra life

Goddamn time goes by fast. It is now officially autumn and the much dreaded winter is just around the corner! Hello march. When I go shopping, I am on the lookout for long pants, jumpers and even jackets! Yesterday I bought a huge wool scarf which already proved itself very useful. I keep telling myself I will survive this, I come from way harsher conditions, after all!

Even the bins are classy.
Even the bins are classy.

Life in South Yarra has settled into its everyday routines, or at least something like that. I have been working in (the kitchen! of) an organic cafe/restaurant, approx. 5-6 days a week. I wake up after 6 and walk my way to work, seeing the dawn light up the sky. After work I have been going to yoga in Richmond if I have the time, and I have truly enjoyed the different classes and teachers on offer at Rise Yoga. 2 weeks unlimited yoga for 25 dollars, not bad! I’ll just go through all different yoga school trial offers, and be all set for a good while.

I am lucky to live with 4 lovely people who are fun to hang around with, and I hope that I will live here for some time and get to know people and places better. Hopefully things in the work-field will work out smooth(ie)ly and I’ll get forward with my master plans. No crazy adventures to tell you about now, I’ve only been keeping busy with coming up with a smoothie and juice menu (try blending 2 espresso shots with banana, almond milk, cashews and dates) and having a Twilight marathon. Cause sometimes life is just about going to work, to the same shops and sitting on the couch playing with your roommate’s Tinder.

Balance.
Balance.

Keep calm and eat pie.

Autumn aka cold and creeping darkness…wait, I already told you this. Happy things: baking and pie. I’ve felt seriously under the weather (despite the sunshine) lately, not having been able to work out due to flu has been challenging for me. So, I bake. And this is something rather randomly put together that turned out to be the best apple pie I’ve made (and maybe had?). No gluten, of course. No nuts, either, if you don’t want to use them. It is easily vegan, has no added sugar or fat. And it tastes amazing. Try it if you don’t believe me.

 

Cupcake form. Portion control, you know.
Cupcake form. Portion control, you know.

Base/crust:

5 dl dried figs (approx 20, you can also use dates but figs are yummy!) – soak in water
5 dl soaked sunflower seeds (approx. 3.5dl dry)
1.5 dl coconut flour
2 dl (whey) protein powder (or just use 3.5 dl coconut flour, whatever floats your boat)
Pinch of salt

Blend the seeds and figs into paste. Add flour(s) and salt, form to a dough. Use more flour if needed. Depending on the size of your pie pan, you can save some of the dough to crumble on top of the filling. Coat the pie pan with some coconut flakes or coconut flour, then pat the dough evenly to the pan. It is sticky, that’s okay. Don’t eat all of the dough at this point.

Goodies.
Goodies.

Filling:

5 dl chopped apples (or apple puree)
1 tbsp cinnamon (also vanilla if you like)
4 dl black currants (and/or lingonberries)

Boil the apples in a bit of water until soft. Drain, mix in cinnamon and berries.

Nom. Unbaked.
Nom. Unbaked.

Topping:

Leftover pie crust, chopped hazel nuts, sunflower seeds and oat flakes, coconut flakes…whatever you fancy and happen to have around. Top it off and in to the oven! I baked my pie for 45 mins in 200 Celcius, and put a foil to cover the goodness from burning the crust. Half-baked is definitely also good with this one. No stomach upsets awaiting for munching the dough and licking the blender.

A tad messy but still classy.
A tad messy but still classy.

To be enjoyed with:
1) Tea or coffee
2) Preferred ice cream or milk alternative
3) Vanilla sauce (easy cashew vanilla sauce: blend 1/3 nuts with water, add vanilla and desired sweetener)
4) Just as is.

Cashew cardamom butter is the boss.
Cashew cardamom butter is the boss.