Oh no she didn’t.

Oh yes she did.

When she actually just popped out to Big W to get a stray security tag removed from a boring breastfeeding singlet.

Jason Wu for Melissa ‘Jean’ in navy.

Linky . See how it looks like grosgrain?

Actually quite a lot more nude than beige in real life.

And if The Bunny turns out to be a girl, she’s getting a pair of these ASAP:

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Birthday brunching

As 5 out of every 7 birthdays are, mine this year is annoyingly situated mid-week. Instead of trying to negotiate a Tuesday night cheap’n’cheerful, I invited the girls over for a Saturday morning brunch (my favourite meal to eat out).

This posed a number of challenges:

1. Finding a date everyone could make it. Given there are only 6 of us, this was harder than imagined – in fact, we were one short as it was. For two of us, baby-wrangling had to be sought or traded or bargained for. Gosh we’re busy and important.

2. If people arrive Saturday morning, the house needs to be clean on Friday night. Much as I find cleaning therapeutic, Friday night is rarely my ideal time to bust out the Dyson.

3. Brunch at home implies feeding people. If I were to go out to order brunch, I would always go for cooked over sweet. Not thinking I could manage a cooked breakfast for five, I decided to bake instead, and settled on pancakes with ice cream and berry reduction, and peanut butter and chocolate muffins (along with the obligatory ‘health’ offering of fruit).

4. I don’t bake. Some people are cooks, and some are bakers. I am a cook. I’ve noticed many bakers are quite skinny.

So braving the alchemy that is baking, I trial-runned the pancakes last weekend and they went beautifully. I didn’t get around to trying the muffins out so threw caution to the wind and decided that if they sucked, then it’s my birthday and I’ll suck at baking if I want to.

The pancakes were again a dream. It’s the simplest recipe and the hardest part is waiting for just the right amount of bubbles to flip ’em over. I served them with a choice of lemon juice and sugar, or soy ice cream and a berry sauce (put frozen mixed berries in saucepan with about 1/4 cup of water and a splash of lemon juice. Heat. Bring to boil. Reduce. Add cornstarch. That’s it). I was pretty happy with the outcome and they looked pretty to boot. The empty plates assured me that I wasn’t just tooting my own horn!

The muffins were also a simple recipe, but required much more nail-biting. They were easy to mix up but it was with not a small sigh of relief that they came out not underdone, not burnt, and quite edible. However, they did stick to the silicon tray, even though I had sprayed oil in before as well, so they had to be dug out with a spatula. They were delicious, but broken! I didn’t take any photos because I was a little broken-hearted. Any tips?

I also sent my runner, the affable Buzz, out to get ‘proper’ coffees, and had some hot chocolate on hand for those who weren’t already in a sugar coma. Orange juice and mineral water made me feel like I was having an actual Buck’s Fizz. I just realised that I *totally* forgot to make or put out the fruit platter! Hostess fail!

A brunch at home is a lovely way to see friends without having to find an evening, and without having to battle your way through a crowded cafe shouting to be heard. You just have to learn to bake.

Pancakes – demolished!

Pancakes – from ‘Vegan Brunch’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Ingredients

1-1/4 c flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp canola oil

1/3 c water

1 to 1-1/4 c plain rice or soy milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp pure maple syrup

Method

Sift or stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the remaining ingredients in another bowl. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined, like muffins (you know, a couple of lumps are fine-overmixing results in tough pancakes and tough muffins).

Add oil to a large skillet and heat the skillet over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes. Add batter and cook until the pancake has some bubbles on top and is browned on the bottom. Turn pancakes and finish (until bottoms are browned). Repeat until batter is used up. Oil skillet between pancakes or as needed.

Chocolate and peanut butter muffins, from here (I used ready-made PB. Toasting peanuts is just a step too far for me).

If you want to use ready made peanut butter then use 1/2 cup butter and 2 tbsp oil.

Ingredients:

100 gm (1/2 cup) unsalted shelled and skinned raw peanuts

4 tbsp oil (preferably peanut or any other flavourless oil) a pich of fleur de sel or your favourite salt

140 gm (1 cup) plain flour

30 gm (1/3 cup) cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

90 gm (3/4 cup) jaggery powder or muscovado sugar or any dark soft sugar (I just used brown sugar)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract 200 ml (3/4 cup) water

Method:

In a skillet, on a moderate flame, roast the peanuts until golden brown. Alternatively heat an oven to 200 degrees C/ 400 degrees F and roast for about ten minutes or until they darken, shaking them a bit half way through so that they roast evenly. Allow the peanuts to cool a bit and then place them in a blender with the oil and fleur de sel and process until you get peanut butter.

In a bowl, mix in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda and sieve once to make the mixture uniform.

Put in the jaggery or sugar, vanilla extract, water and peanut butter and mix with a whisk or a wooden spoon until well blended.

Heat your oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F. Place the batter into cupcake liners* and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean. *You might want to use 2 cupcake liners to get neat edges after baking. I didn’t use cupcake liners – maybe I should? I also put a square of Whittaker’s dark almost chocolate in the middle of each muffin – yum!

My bootscootin’ baby.

One of the biggest sartorial challenges for the style-conscious vegan is footwear, and in particular, boots. Once you eliminate leather, nubuck and suede, you also eliminate the best designs and quality. Alack and alas, I shall never own a pair of Hermes riding boots. I feel like I should hashtag this #firstworldproblems.

With winter upon us (and today’s weather is particularly vile), and The Bunny making me less and less inclined to wear heels as my centre of gravity tips ever forward, I wanted to find a pair of low-ish boots for wearing on weekends when my Converse feel too casual.

Searching out animal-friendly footwear often leads me to find myself in shoe shops that, if they were equivalent clothes shops, I would never enter. Imagine the Supre of shoes. Not really my demographic. However, I have had frequent successes with Betts. They have a big range, plenty of non-leather, and the sales are pretty darn generous too.

I have a couple of key requirements when it comes to boots. Firstly, the material must be ‘good’ – not that plasticy, shiny thin stuff. I don’t want to look like I’ve clingwrapped my calves. Secondly, I hate those plastic heels that are made to look like a proper stacked heel. I want a proper stacked heel of proper solid …well I don’t know what, but not plastic with pixelated prints on them!

I can’t find an exact picture of the boots I bought, but imagine these ‘Roustabouts‘ with a lower, more cowboy-y heel.

Love the side zips. Imagine with a 1.5 inch heel, and no seam over the vamp. These are Betts ‘Roustabout’.

They have zips on both sides, and are a lovely neutral nougat with a dark stacked heel. I bought the Berlin style. The lower heel will be great for running around in while the almond shaped toe saves them from being too masculine.

I also tried the ‘Magik‘ boot which has the same upper as the ‘Berlin’, but a much higher heel and elasticated sides. I liked them enormously and it was only the thought of my need to buy low, low, low shoes that persuaded me to get the Berlins instead. But I’m still thinking that they might just make their way in to the cupboard somehow …

Maybe?

I also liked the ‘Alamo‘. I am fond of a slouch top on an ankle boot because they are very forgiving when you have to tuck your jeans inside them, but I’d have to check that those heels aren’t cunningly crafted rubber.

Betts ‘Alamo’. Love the slouch.

Of course, there are some shoes that just aren’t me:

Betts ‘Nicola’.

Oh who am I kidding. They’re fabulous. Utterly utterly fabulous.