It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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Ahh, it’s Autumn.  My favourite time of year.  The air has a slight nip in it, the haze of humidity is gone leaving clear, crisp days, the sky is a gorgeous cyan blue that seems to go on forever, sunrise and sunset are a blast of spectacular colour and the light changes to this beautiful gold hue that makes everything glow.

For those living in the northern hemisphere, or even those living south of the Queensland border, you might not get my love of all things Autumn.  Autumn in tropical Queensland is brief, there are a few short weeks where the nights get cool and the air gets dry and the leaves change colour.  We don’t have a long, drawn out change from Summer to Winter, nor do we get much of a Spring, but there is just something about Autumn that revitalises me.

It is the middle of May, the last month of Autumn, but we are now only just feeling it’s effects.  Up until now we have had really warm days and cool nights.  In fact, last night is the first time I put on flannelette pyjamas and yesterday was our coldest day yet.  Currently, at 3:30am, it is 9℃ with an expected top of 22℃, cool but not cold.

There is something about Autumn that makes me happy.  The heat and humidity of Summer drag me down, but as soon as the humidity abates and there is that slight freshness in the air, I seem to come alive.  I find I become more active, and decide it is time to plant a garden.  I know that logically gardens should be planted in Spring, but I don’t get the urge in Spring.  I think that every garden I have ever attempted to create has happened in Autumn.  Let me just say that I am not into gardening; I like the idea of it, I like the fresh herbs, vegetables and flowers, I would LOVE to love gardening, but I don’t, so I strike while the iron is hot.

My garden

This is the current incarnation of my garden.  We have moved four times in the last four years, so container gardening is where it is at for me.  I have a few more that are not in this photo and I get a small thrill from seeing them everyday.  I’m not sure how long it will last, but I enjoy it while it does.

The other thing I love about Autumn is cooking.  In Summer, cooking is a chore trying to deal with the 38℃ heat and 90% humidity.  Baking is pretty much out of the question due to how the high humidity effects flour, sugar, yeast and other raising agents.  Trying to make cookies is painful, they never get that crispy/chewy ratio that makes them so delicious.  But in Autumn, when the humidity is low and the air is crisp, cooking and baking become a joy.

One of the best things about Autumn is the light.  It becomes this delicious golden colour and sunrises and sunsets look like someone has thrown paint into the sky.  Every morning I see the sky change colour and I am in awe.  Such beauty that is definitely worth waking up to see.  And at night, the day is bookended with another spectacular light show as the sun bids us farewell.  In our current house we live across the road from the water with a north facing view.  The sunsets here rival any I have seen elsewhere and I can’t help but stop whatever it is I am doing and just stare at it.  Here in the southern hemisphere we don’t have long drawn out twilights, so sunsets are brief, but they are spectacular.

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These are some of the spectacular sunrises that I see from work20150407_075615931_iOS 

 

 

 

 

And this is one of the amazing sunsets that I see every night from my house

 

A Touch of Whimsy

I realised today that my blog has not had very much whimsy lately.

The whole reason I started this blog was to have a place for my soul to rest, unfortunately with so much heartache happening in mine and my family’s lives, there hasn’t been much of that.

But I have come to know that even when your life is full of trouble, there are still things that can be appreciated for their beauty, their loveliness and just because they are there.

Pink Hose – Photo Credit: http://mrswisesturt.com

Books, Windows, Sunlight…what’s not to love Photo Credit: http://mechantdesign.blogspot.fr/2014/09/studio-loft.html

 

These are just a few of the things I love…to see more, check out my Pinterest Board

Follow Michelle Birrell’s board Things I Love on Pinterest.

 

 

31 Days of Blogging – Days 19, 20 & 21

I know I haven’t blogged for a couple of days, I really don’t have an excuse except to say that I have been so totally exhausted that I haven’t had the brain capacity to blog.

This time last year we were preparing to go on our first ever overseas holiday…a cruise.  We went for 7 days and visited Lifou & Vanuatu.  We were meant to stop in New Calendonia as well, but due to an unfolding series of events, our departure was delayed by eight hours and we had to give it a miss.  We had planned to go again this year, but our son got married (yay!) so we have post-poned it.

But anyway, since it is nearly a year since we went, here are some photos for you to peruse…

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Ahh…well that was a nice little day dream…here’s hoping the next holiday won’t be too far away!

The Third Day

31 Days of Blogging – Day 3

Today was an RDO! Yay! A day off, a day to sleep in, a day to do whatever I want…well to some degree anyway.  Gavin and I always try to have at least one day off a week together and today was that day.

I woke up at 4:30am…my body clock doesn’t know what an RDO is.  I snoozed for a bit and checked Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest on my phone for a bit and I researched some recipes for a bit and then at about 5:50am I got out of bed and headed downstairs to my computer.  Although it is a day off, I still had some work to do…not much though.  We had to drop some supplies into each shop (all that Coldbrew that I made yesterday) and decided that we may as well have breakfast at one of them while we were there and before our 9:15am appointment.

The staff working hard

The staff working hard

Before we could leave though, I needed to do some printing.  I had to print some new price tags for a couple of new salads we had started at Panino and I also had to do, what I call, “build lists” for these new salads.  Build lists are what we use to create the items on our menus.  If you walk into either of our cafes’ kitchens you will find the walls plastered with our build lists.  Every item on our menu has a build list and it is a step by step process on how to “build” a particular item.  They are similar to recipes but are set out in such a way that you can read and build as you go.  We do it so everyone knows how to make any new items, so that there is consistency in everything we produce, so that new people can learn quickly and so that there is a specific process for everything we do for efficiency and accuracy.  Sounds OCD doesn’t it, but it means that we can have confidence to know that when we are not there, things are getting done the way we want them done.  I am very passionate about my brand and the way a menu item is made and presented helps to create and maintain our brand.  There is nothing worse than going to a cafe everyday and ordering the same thing and each time it comes out different.  Having comprehensive build lists goes a long way to preventing this.

Light Start

Breakfast!

After finishing my printing and laminating, we loaded the car with Coldbrew and headed out at about 7am.  We headed to Fresh first and I had a chat with our coffee supplier, Craig.  Great guy and always gives us great service.  He was working out a way for us to save money on our coffee cups (what supplier would do that???) and let me know that last week Panino had gone through 30 kilos of coffee beans.  I knew we had gone through a lot, but that was incredible!  We normally average about 15 kilos, so we had doubled the amount of coffee we normally sell.  So amazing, I’m still floored by it.

After saying hello and goodbye to our staff we headed to Panino for breakfast.  We have recently updated our menu for summer and we added a new breakfast item called “Light Start”.  It is a toasted ciabatta with ricotta, rocket and fresh tomato…I am a little bit obsessed with it and it has become my favourite breakfast to have on my day off.

After breakfast we had a few minutes to kill, so we headed for Alex hill to take in the scenery.  Living in such a beautiful place means that you sometimes take it for granted and don’t take time to enjoy it.

The view from Alex

The view from Alex

After our little moment to enjoy paradise, we headed off to our 9:15am appointment.  We have a standing appointment every week that is probably the only reason we can keep up the pace of our busy lifestyle.  It may seem extravagant to some, but to us it is a necessity…it keeps us sane.  We have a guy…I don’t quite know how to explain what he does.  We say that it is a massage, but it is not like any massage you would normally get.  It is a treatment that comes from a tradition of treating martial arts and other sports related injuries

these robust treatments have evolved as an effective means of healing and returning martial artists back into the training and fighting arena.

I am fond of saying that I need these treatments due to the high level of martial arts that I am involved in (tongue in cheek of course).  We have been seeing him for about three years and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without my weekly treatment. (If you are interested, check him out Joost’s Sports Injury Clinic)

Gavin receiving his treatment

Gavin receiving his treatment

With our bodies realigned we headed home.  My car temp gauge said it was 33 ºc so we decided to head straight home and put our feet up.  That’s what we did 🙂 We spent the rest of the afternoon watching tv and reading and napping (except for the bit were we had to do the rosters for next week which takes a couple of hours) and then we headed down to the pool for a well deserved swim.  That was day 3.

Pool

The pool

January 2 2014

31 Days of Blogging – Day 2

Today was one of those days…one of those days that you wish you would hurry up and be over so that you could relegate it to the very far reaches of your memory, never to be seen or heard from again.

I was woken by my alarm at 4am…something that doesn’t often happen.  I found it extremely difficult to get out of bed and was very reluctant to start my day and things just went downhill from there.

So, I left home at 4:37am and it was still relatively dark and a balmy 22 ℃.

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When I arrived at work th kitchen was just under 31 ℃ and that was before I had turned on any heating appliances.

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It is surprising how much heat the fridge motors create.

I made a batch of my famous muffins (mango, white chocolate & macadamia today…don’t ask me for the recipe, it is a secret),

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I made myself a nice, healthy juice (apple, celery & ginger) and when the coffee machine was ready, I opened the doors.

Work was busy and in my state of mind, I didn’t cope very well.  Normally I take it in my stride but today my tiredness got the better of me.  I would like to say that I rose to the challenge and turned it all around, but I didn’t.  When there was a lull, I took myself outside and called my husband.  He nearly always grounds me and today he was my saviour.  With a deep breath I went back into the fray, my nerves still a little frazzled, but determined to pick my game up.

One thing I have learned in business is that the leader determines the atmosphere – in our case, whoever is running the shift.  If the person who is in authority is tired/cranky/grumpy or generally out of sorts it effects the whole team and the atmosphere in the store is noticably flat.  Luckily, the opposite is also true.  I always try to go into work with a positive and upbeat outlook, but today I failed miserably. But Gavin came in a saved the day, getting me back on track and lifting the whole team.  By the time my shift was over, things were looking up.

I headed home at about 11:30am, stopping at the IGA on the way to pick up milk.  Even though my shift was over, my working day was not yet complete…I had to make some Cold Brew.  If you woant to know more about Cold Brew, I wrote a post about it on my other blog here…check it out!

The whole process of producing our Blacksheep Cold Brew isn’t particularly hard, it is just time consuming.  The coffee steeps for 24 hours, but I had some that I had prepared earlier.  We bottle a few different flavours and with it being so busy and hot at the moment, I decided to do a whole compliment of flavours…seven in all.  I make all our flavoured syrups and discovered on arriving home that I had to make two of them…caramel and vanilla.  I also had to wash the bottles to sterilise them, so I got the syrups starting and loaded the dishwasher.

With the flavoured syrups finished and cooling, I then had to print the labels.  We hand label all our bottles and for us it is a two-step process.  We have to print and cut the labels and the cut contact to size and cover each label with contact before applying them to the bottles…ok so maybe it is more than a two steps.

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Now with the bottles washed and labeled and ready to go, I manually mix each flavour, fill the bottles, apply the caps and put them in the fridge.  Four and a half hours from when I started, I now have 50 bottles of delicious Blacksheep Cold Brew.

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That was my day and when I have finished this blog post I am going to go for a swim in my pool 🙂

New Years Day 2014

31 Days of Blogging – Day 1

My last post was about my Bucket List for 2014 – an alternative to the New Year’s Resolution.  One of my Bucket List items was to blog more, so I decided to do a common blog challenge…blogging everyday for a month.  Surprise! Today is day 1.

My day started at 3:50am.  This is not unusual for me, my bodyclock is a little messed up because I do so many early morning shifts.  My alarm was set for 4:30am (a bit of a sleep in), but still I woke before 4am.  My husband and I own two cafes, one of which is on the famous Mooloolaba Beach front, working on New Year’s Day was not an option for us.  We were up, dressed and in the car by 4:55am.

Navigator On our way to work we came across a massive flock of corellas on the road…I was driving so I couldn’t take a photo, but it was an experience that I have never had before.  I don’t know if there is any meaning in seeing a large flock of white birds on New Year’s Day, but it was a bit of whimsy an a nice surprise.

It’s nice working with my husband.  We don’t always work in the same shop, but we tend to do weekends and public holidays together.  We have our little routines and try and have breakfast together, or at least a cup of coffee, before we open the doors.

This is my shop.  Panino Bar & Espresso on Mooloolaba Esplanade on the Sunshine Coast in Australia

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shop1

And this is were we are…the beautiful Mooloolaba beach

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And this is what we do!

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So, that is my day 1…it’s not much, but it’s a start 🙂