4 Weeks of Ways To Find The Magic In Winter

Winter Wonders Week 12 - Find The Magic In Winter

It's the LAST day of winter and I can feel my inner glow already approaching.  For the past 12 weeks I challenged myself to be more active this winter, embrace the season of cold and find the magic in Winter.  I went in search of the best wintry drink and had the most amazing Winter I've had in a long time.  Not because I did more but because I took the time to find the magic and beauty and all of the fun things on offer.  From food to fashion and jewellery to activities and road trips, hiking, art classes, theatre, activities with kids (and without) and more.  Plenty more!

For my final weekly Winter update (which I'll post as the August update) I found myself enjoying more random things and not so many pre-planned activities.  It seems that is because I am already planning my Christmas Day, a cruise to ring in the New Year and a vacation next year!  Also because Master 10yo has soccer finals, soccer clinics and now swimming lessons recommencing, not to mention book week which requires fancy dress costumes and it's been busy at work ...phew!  As you can see my time for adventurous outings has been rather limited.

Here are some things I managed during the week (which was a real busy one!)

Lunch Failure 101 - Brooklyn Boy Bagels

Picture of Brooklyn Boys Bagel logo in storeNow I already had a little rant on my Insta about this but here it is again.  I abandoned my lunch brought from home one weekday to go and check out the Brooklyn Boy Bagels cafe in Sydney.  My friend had raved about it and wanted me to check it out so off we went.  I was pretty excited about trying their Ruben and so I barely glanced through the menu.  When we sat down I realised you don't even have to go to the counter, their App gives you the option to order and have it brought straight to your table.  When my Ruben was brought to the table I realised that it was served on toasted rye bread, NOT a bagel.  Seriously??  At what point I was supposed to order a bagel specifically I wasn't sure but obviously I got confused and didn't specify that I wanted a bagel.  Disappointed I whinged and whined at my friend but ate it and it was nice but still no bagel.  I will go again and do it properly next time.  If you go make sure you ask about the bagel it is served on! 

Park Run

Picture of me after runningWith all of this kiddie sport going on and a few days of bone tingling, arctic, freezing winds I decided I would not sit around with the other parents freezing their butts off.  Instead I popped on a banging playlist and got running. The conditions were horrible but at least it was dry and I was squeezing in some much needed exercise in to an already packed week.  Felt pretty good about myself after it.  Sorry about the pic but the wind was threatening to rip my phone out of my hand and I had to take a quick unflattering selfie at the end of my run. 

 

Beachside Walks

Picture of beachside walkBefore the arctic freeze came in I managed to do a quick stroll around the beach.  I was planning on doing a lot more hiking than I did during Winter but it is hard to fit in when you're a single parent and want to do a longer trek, so I have ended up with short walks (so much for training for my 35km walk coming up next weekend!).  Those of you lucky enough to have dogs know the positive effects these walks can have on your body, mind and soul so they are certainly not to be discounted.  I will however continue to aim for a good solid hike every couple of months.

 

The Final Winter Drink Competitor

Picture of cocktailThis number is again nameless and custom made.  A fruity little number with a fluffy egg-white top served in a beautiful classic way.  Given I'm a dry rather than sweet fan this one is not really up my alley.  Not a bad cocktail, just too sweet for me.  Overall 6/10.

 




The Winter Drink Winner

Pictue of my winning cocktailTo be honest this one is so easy to choose, not because I rated the drinks each week with a score but because it was hands down, the most creative cocktail that was tested throughout the challenge.  And who doesn't love a cocktail that also adds to your daily intake of good fats and vegetables?!  If you've been following along you will know which one this little beauty is ...the winner is competitor No.5 - "BITCH PEAS"!!! served by The Doss House in The Rocks (applause).  If you do my preplanned bar crawl you will start here and I highly recommend you try this cocktail.  Here is a link to the original post of the winner and here is a link to the preplanned bar crawl.


So after my 12 weeks of finding the magic in winter, I can honestly say that winter is more fun than I give it credit for but I am still no lover of it.  There are heaps of festivals and things on offer which I certainly indulged in but I am super excited for Spring and Summer and can't wait to bask in the hot and balmy daylight saving seasons.  Thank you Winter, you can go now...

 

Winter Wonders Week 11

We've been a little spoilt with some beautiful weather this winter (it's not as glorious as summer but there have been some very calm, clear and sunny days).  But, that stopped last week with not only the thermometer dropping right down but the cold wind blowing hard and non-stop.  It was really not that pleasant to be outside but duty called and so off I went to have fun.

Underground Cocktail Bar

Picture of Alfreddos underground barAware that my spring cleanse is approaching and time is quickly running out for my winter drink challenge I grabbed a friend and we braved the cold to walk a chilly 10 meters to the underground Italian cocktail bar in Bulletin Place.  It's nestled under the restaurant Alfredos and we were very happy to close that door behind us and descend to the dark, warm and cosy room of cocktails.  Although it was happy hour we were pleased to see it was quiet with plenty of seating options, it turns out this place is rather funky and rocks a surprisingly awesome cocktail list.  I love it when you go somewhere and you are blown away by how much better it is than you thought it would be.  This is definitely one of those bars and I am looking forward to go back again.  Worth checking this place out.


Hoyts

Master 10yo and I had a rare evening with nothing planned.  It was so damn cold there weren't many ideas other than PS4 and Netflix being thrown around.  But, we resisted the urge to be scared of the cold and we jumped in our heated car seats and off to Hoyts we went!  With our bums suitably warmed and our online tickets purchased we managed the short trip to our recliners via the snack bar with relative ease.  Being a kids movie we were done and dusted by 7.30 and heading back home to our safe haven.  I felt like we should have stopped somewhere along the way but we both decided we would give it another go on Sunday.  It's pretty hard to beat the movie cinema when it's either really hot or freezing outside.  Btw, we saw 'Secret Life of Pets 2' - great little movie.


Winter Drink Challenger No. 12

Pictue of my blue cocktailAnd enter the custom made cocktail from our little underground Italian bar!  It has no name, I couldn't tell you the first thing about what is in it but I can tell you that I requested something sour and botanical with no egg white.  What was created for me was blue, garnished with rosemary and had one of those cute little wooden pegs you see on crafty things.  The flavour was amazing, difficult to explain and perhaps made more difficult by the scent of rosemary with each sip.  I'm not sure I'm doing it justice with my explanation here but it was yummo!  Love the glass it was served in too and extra points for not making me think about what to order and custom making me something.  Overall score is 9.1/10.



So nothing to radical or exciting to report on this week and although I've enjoyed my winter challenges I am still very much looking forward to some hot weather.  There are only two more weeks of winter left and I have a lot of chores to get done pre-spring.  I think the challenge over the next couple of weeks is going to be finding a balance.  Fingers crossed the fun and excitement wins out over the chores!  Hope you're finding your own magic in winter peeps.

 

Winter Wonders Week 10


And just like that we're up to reporting on week 10 of winter and what inspiration and magic I found last week.  Honestly, this is the fastest winter I've ever experienced.

Sadly I found myself rather ill (yet again, I don't know what it is with the bugs this winter but I've had a lot of the little buggers) and so was a little slow in getting out and about.  To be honest I almost cancelled all of my plans and booked myself a couple of days on the lounge, but... I figured if I could get my butt to work then surely I could manage to get out and enjoy the glorious clear sunny days that Sydney offered up. And so I did just that, not too active just enough to say I was finding my winter magic.

This weeks report is brief but hey, I got out there all the same.

Ferry to Manly


Picture of the boathouseWhen the sun is shining and winter has decided to throw out a 22 degree day, what better to do than to hop on a ferry to Manly beach.  Throw in a stop at a healthy salad bar for lunch and slow stroll around to Shelly beach for a cocktail in the sun and you have a pretty restorative day all told.  Good for the body and great for the soul.

Pictue of beach bathsThe Boathouse in Shelly Beach is such a spunky place too, the outdoors coming in, sea and sand right outside and an extensive bar and menu to keep you happy whilst there.  It's beautifully decorated with huge flower vases and arrangements which make me happy to be around.  We were meaning to catch the sunset on the ferry back to the City but stopped for a sunset glass of vino in Manly instead.  Not quite the sunset on the water but a lovely way to finish the day.

Markets

Whether its a seconds market, crafty market, organic food market or just plain old anything goes market there is definitely a place for it all year round (not just in winter).  We are truly spoilt in Australia when it comes to markets, whether its coastal, regional or in the CBD there are so many cool markets that we can visit.  It's amazing how long you can wonder around the little stalls and also amazing how much you can spend if you're not careful!  Personally, I also love the food stalls you find at the markets.  Always new things to try and always a range of sweet and savoury.  I was thinking about listing some of the ones I've been to or want to go to but realistically there is no point beacuase most places you go will have a market pretty close by, most weekends.  So here are my personal favourites; Glebe, Ramsgate and Carriageworks (I could go on and on but why don't you just go and find your own favs).  If you have a couple of spare hours and just want to get out amongst it then pop on a coat and wonder to your local markets.  Take some cash folks, you'll need it! 

Winter Drink Challenger No. 11

Picture of Wagga Wagga cocktailAnother little beauty served up in Wagga Wagga at the Thirsty Crow, presented in the beaker of course.  No idea of the name or what was in this baby but it was tasty!  Very refreshing, tangy and unfortunately rather summery (which is great for summer but not so much for the winter drink competition - although there seem to be a lot of challengers that have been before with the same summery issue).  Just like its sister cocktail from last weeks blog the presentation was spot on with a simple garnish and fancy beaker.  The flavour packed a real punch and it's a close contender with a 9/10.


I'm looking forward to getting back out there in full health this week and finding more fun to report on.  If you haven't done the ferry to Manly and walk to Shelly Beach then do it, seriously it is such a lovely way to spend an afternoon.  Until next week...


Winter Wonders Week 9

This last week I've been away for a long weekend and headed down South to Wagga Wagga.  If you haven't been there before it's about a 5 hour drive from Sydney so worth staying for a few days.  That means that this weeks' winter inspiration is all about winter in Wagga Wagga.  But hey, location doesn't matter, when it's winter, it's winter and I'm still on my hunt to find the magic in winter, learning to enjoy the chilly season way more than I ever have before! Without travelling to somewhere warmer, that is.  And what better than to do it all whilst catching up with a beautiful friend.

There's so many things to do in Wagga I'm going to do a blog on it shortly but here's my two favs and of course, the next drink challenger.  


Communal Fine Dining with Food I Am 

Picture from Food I Am dinnerThis is such a great idea, beautiful country venue set up with communal dining tables in a kitchen where cooking classes usually take centre stage.  Cleverly, on some selected Fridays 'Food I Am' put on a bit of a fancy pants dining experience called 'The Dinner Club'.  Its an opportunity for their regional chefs to do what they do best and get inspired in the kitchen.  The chef usually crafts a set 4 course menu that is sure to tantalise almost every tastebud.  The really easy thing here is that you don't have to think about the menu or what you feel like or what you want, maybe just what beverage you'd like to start with.  Nerida and her team know how to please and everything is run smoothly, on time and all with that warm and cosy country touch.  The night we were there we enjoyed the work of local chef 'Soon Lee Low' who wowed us with a hearty winter meal complete with all the trimmings one could expect.  The presentation was nothing short of art on a plate.  The communal table is a hit keeping things interesting.  Or if you have a group of 8 or more you can book a table but, personally I thought the long communal table was heaps of fun and provided an edge to the whole experience.  Overall, this evening was an absolute blast with so many things rolled in; a casual bar and chatting area, communal dining, restaurant table setting in an open kitchen, fine food and sensational service.  I loved that this was dining with a bit of difference and at only $99 per person, a very reasonable cost.  It's pretty popular too with the evenings being booked out so get on the website and book yourself a spot. The next Dinner Club will be a little different as it is a long lunch (who doesn't love a long lunch?!) set for Fathers Day and will be a collaboration between Chef Soon And Chef Damon who is also a barista, the lunch is called "The Barista & The Chef". All the courses will have a coffee component so Nerida was very clever to make this a lunch rather than sending home insomniacs!  On October 10 there is the "Regional Produce Dinner Club" as part of the Riverina's Devour Festival.  And for the "Final Dinner Club" for 2019 on November 1 will be a reminiscing menu for Chef Soon of his time in Wagga.  Get yourself to Wagga and get dining at Food I Am! ...I should mention that Food I am run heaps of culinary classes and experiences and also host weddings so whilst I'm raving about The Dinner Club be sure to check out other options they host.

The Thirsty Crow Brewery

This place also deserves a mention, it is super cool with a very large area both indoors and outdoors and very family and pet friendly, complete with games to keep kids and husbands busy.  If you are after beer tasting or a brewery tour then definitely pop past "The Thirsty Crow".  We're not huge beer drinkers so we opted for the cocktails and wine which suited us perfectly for an early evening starter (or late afternoon, if you prefer it that way).  Well positioned in town and within walking distance of eateries or other watering holes should you choose to relocate.  We didn't do much eating here except for a small bar snack so unfortunately I can't really comment on their food (here's a link to their menus anyway).  But the bar staff are really friendly, apparently all of them good looking and hip, which helps but mainly their service was fantastic and I love that.  I recommend trying the cocktails served in beakers (well at least one, two might knock your head off!) they're really yummy and well presented.  The wine was very tasty as well, try it peeps!!

Winter Drink Challenger No. 10

Picture of shiraz gin cocktailAhhhhhh, yes this was certainly refreshing and yummy and well, bold I think.  But sadly, not really wintry.  Of course, served up in a beaker at "The Thirsty Crow" I indulged myself with the "Bloody Murderer" I wish I had taken a pic of the ingredients because it really was very good with shiraz infused gin and muddled raspberries and I'm not sure what else.  It tasted great but just too fruity to be wintry.  The presentation was awesome, loved the beaker and fresh garnish.  Overall I am giving this beaker of muddled red 8.9/10.


So like I said earlier I'll do a bigger blog about what to do when in Wagga Wagga, these are my two favs and definitely where I found my winter inspiration during my long weekend away.  Only one month to go before spring springs, get out and live, enjoy yourself and find the magic in winter.

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