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Today We Shall Eat Cake + Enjoy The Flowers

Today is a very special one because it’s July 14, 2014 and 13 years ago today I got married! We were so young, so daring, so full of hopes and dreams… Today we’re not the doe-eyed dreamers we once were as much as the let’s-do-it doers and that’s something age and marriage gave us both – gumption, courage, fire. We’ve had many good times but also hard ones like when we had to count all of the change in the house in order to procure enough to buy groceries. I remember when my husband sold all of his belongings to be able to afford my wedding ring and a flight to America to marry me. I remember our honeymoon in San Francisco and how exciting it was to be in a city I had only dreamt to see back then and how we looked at rental apartments while there because we were convinced we’d found our dream city. Only we were too broke to make that happen.

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Marriage isn’t easy but what relationship is? There are none without compromise, tears, joy, heartbreak and smiles that extend ear-to-ear. It’s impossible to have a perfect life with someone, but it’s entirely possible to have a happy life . Happy doesn’t mean trouble-free. Life is hard and sometimes we grow together and other months, we drift apart. But we come together again. And we just keep going. One thing I’ve learned with my marriage is that the growing apart at times doesn’t mean it’s over. It only means that you have to keep walking ahead until your paths converge again. Humans evolve. We aren’t going to be the same people we were when we got married. When I read articles about how couples “grew apart” I often wonder what they went into marriage expecting. That they’d always be the same and want the same things and just follow protocol forever?

To think of where we are today, and that we have a child now on our journey with us, is mind-blowing and beautiful. It’s also hard to grasp that 13 years have passed because it seems like we’ve been together my entire life while it also feels like yesterday that we met online in a public forum where I was writing back and forth to a woman on the topic of masculinity vs. femininity and female objectification. And to think that a topic like that piqued the interest of a German journalist and computer science genius living thousands of miles away is just a riot. I remember back then (1998) I confessed to my mother that I was dating a man on the internet that I hadn’t met in person yet and the first thing she said was, “How do you know he isn’t a serial killer or rapist?”, because back then that was what most people thought when they heard about online dating. We wrote back and forth for nearly a year before we met for the first time and we were engaged within two weeks. That was 15 years ago in the Autumn of 1999. Then we were married in 2001.

Writing online has brought me uncounted blessings like a beautiful marriage and a glowing career. No serial killers mom!

Today my husband sent me gorgeous flowers that I’m holding above. And champagne that I’ll be holding in my tummy later on after the baby is snoozing. He also gave me the most beautiful ring to symbolize the birth of our son. I burst into tears the moment I opened the little black box with the exact same gold lettering on it that he gave me holding my engagement ring many years ago.

Thank you Thorsten for living with me, putting up with me, loving me and always being so loyal and caring. And for being the most wonderful daddy to little Aidan. I loved you from the first time we talked on the phone for 5 hours back in 1998 and I’ll love you forever + ever. Happy Anniversary my love.

(photo: thorsten becker)

Posted in uncategorized on July 14, 2014

Germany: World Cup 2014 Winners!

I don’t typically discuss sports here or get into anything potentially heated like breastfeeding (!), sleep training, religion or politics but c’mon, let’s talk about that World Cup 2014 finale last night? Was that great or was that great? Before the game began I predicted on Instagram that it would be a close match and that Argentina would play strong. And during the game on Twitter I openly confessed that though I’m a fan of the German team, whoever ended up winning the point last night deserved the world cup because that was a battle to the finish. Both teams were strong but you have to give credit to Germany because at one point they only had 10 players on the field, one of their star players, Sami Khedira, couldn’t even play because he injured himself 15 minutes before the game in warm-ups, and Argentina had a red card that wasn’t even held against them (that was such an unfair call)… Yet they still won (read more here for a play by play recap).

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And how brilliant was coach Joachim Löw in the end to pull out their big star Miroslav Klose (who received a standing ovation as he left the field) and replace with glorious #19, Mario Goetze, who scored the goal that won them the World Cup? And to top that off, the strategy (in my opinion) to pull out Mesut Özil and replace with Per Mertesacker in the final minute by Löw to eat up time on the clock was equally brilliant. You have to give Germany a huge high five for winning the World Cup, Manuel Neuer was aces and that was the best played game between two strong teams that I’ve ever seen in all of my years of watching sports teams battle it out for the World Series, NFL, etc. I’m really proud to wake up in Germany today and the spirits here are so high, I thought the fireworks and car horns were going to go one for hours last night. So exhilarating. I jumped with Aidan in my arms and we all cheered and then Aidan got fed and very milk drunk and passed out until 8am this morning. Babies. His first world cup! Hurrah!

Did you watch the game? What did you think?

(images: hugo boss/GQ magazine)

Posted in events + markets on July 14, 2014

Delicious Bites: Strawberry Pavlova Recipe

Are you ready for a delicious Strawberry Pavlova recipe? You’ll want to Pin and make this one! Hi there, it’s Jillian here with this month’s Delicious Bites column. I’ve just spent 5 weeks in Europe and I was there for the start of the berry season. I just love berries and I can’t tell you how many punnets of strawberries and raspberries I consumed while I was away. So with berries on my mind I decided to make a Strawberry Pavlova. Australia claims the Pavlova but our close friends and neighbours from New Zealand also claim it as their own. Whoever invented it was pretty clever because the combination of a crisp meringue shell, fluffy marshmallow interior topped with lashings of cream and fruit is a winner. I’ve seen many pictures of desserts claiming to be Pavlova but I’m pretty hard line when it comes to the definition. A Pavlova must be tall and it must have a marshmallow interior and if not, then it’s not a Pavlova.

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Do you have one of those old fashioned common sense cookbooks on your bookshelf that you turn to time and time again? Well I have a few and one of those is Maureen’s Simpson’s Australian CuisineI can’t claim this Pavlova recipe as my own, because it comes straight from the pages of this well used book, but I’ve changed the method a little. As long as you follow the recipe, it’s actually pretty easy to make but you need to allow plenty of time to make the meringue base and time to let it cool. The base can be made well ahead of time and stored in an airtight container. Once it’s decorated, the Pavlova loses its crunch quite quickly, so don’t decorate it too far in advance.

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Don’t worry if the top cracks while it bakes– it’s amazing what a dollop of cream can disguise. Generously top with berries. You really need something tart with a Pavlova to counteract the sugar in the meringue. Raspberries, blackberries or blueberries work well or as my brother prefers, simply drizzled with passion fruit pulp. Once decorated, stand back and bask in the glory as every-one admires your creation. Here’s the recipe for you.

INGREDIENTS: 4 eggwhites / Pinch of salt / 1 heaped cup (230g) caster sugar / 1 teaspoon white vinegar / 1 20 ml tablespoon cornflour / 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  / 1¼ cups (300ml) thickened cream, whipped /1 punnet strawberries, washed and dried / Optional – icing sugar

METHOD: Preheat the oven (conventional) to 180°C/350°F. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper and using a 18cm (7 inch) cake tin as your guide, mark out a circle on the paper. Flip the paper over and use this as your template. In a large clean dry bowl, beat eggwhites with the pinch of salt until stiff. Add the caster sugar gradually, one heaped tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla extract. Pile or pipe the meringue mixture onto the baking tray, keeping within the marked circle. Smooth the top so it resembles a flat cake. It needs to be at least 5-6 cm (2-3 inches) high. Place the Pavlova in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 130°C/275°F and bake for 1¼ – 1½ hours or until the Pavlova is dry and very lightly coloured. Turn the oven off and allow the Pavlova to cool completely in the switched off oven. When cool, remove the baking paper from the Pavlova and store in an airtight container. Just before serving, top the Pavlova with the lightly whipped cream and berries and lightly dust with icing sugar if desired.

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This recipe serves six. If you’re serving a crowd you could make 2 separate Pavlovas or one really large one as this is an easy recipe to upscale. For each egg white, you need ¼ cup caster sugar, 1 teaspoon of cornflour and ¼ teaspoon each of vanilla extract and vinegar.  If you’re making a larger Pavlova, make an 8 or 9 inch template and extend the cooking time by 15 – 30 minutes. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

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See you all again next month with another Delicious Bites recipe. – Jillian

(text/styling/photography: jillian leiboff)

Posted in Delicious Bites on July 14, 2014

Gorgeous Event By Bash Speciality + Rock Paper Square

I found out about Bash Speciality a few days ago when I received a comment from them on one of my posts, so I had to click on their link to check them out since the name Bash just sounded so fun and party-like – and I was right. Bash Speciality is a rental company specializing in supplying furnishings and more for weddings, events, staging and photo shoots in Victoria, BC and recently they worked with Rock Paper Square and photographer Lillie Louise on this lovely modern (elopement) wedding party. You can see all of the photos on 100 Layer Cake and at Bash Speciality, but here’s a few of my favorites below with a focus on the stunning florals done up by Rook & Rose and the fabby color scheme and decorating. Tres cool!

Rock Paper Square Styled Shoot

About their inspiration Rock Paper Square comments, “The inspiration behind this shoot was to combine our love of home decor with our love of weddings! Bright, modern + architectural elements such as custom built furniture paired perfectly with designer furniture, colorful florals, and original artwork were a nod to this real-life couple’s playful personality.” They nailed it!

Rock Paper Square Styled Shoot

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Rock Paper Square Styled Shoot

Rock Paper Square Styled Shoot

Rock Paper Square Styled Shoot

Don’t you just adore the happy brights?! Isn’t this seriously SO cool?

(photographer Lillie Louise)

Posted in events + markets on July 10, 2014

Books:

Some of my books...

Further editions available: Decorate published by Murdoch Books for AU/NZ, Decorar BR, Alt om indretning DK, Inspirace pro váš byt CZ, Dekorácie SK, La décoration FR, Lust auf Wohnen DE, Sisusta tyylillä FI and Sztuka aranżacji wnętrz PL.

eCourses:

Next dates

Blogging Your Way: Blog Boss
e-course, October 10 - November 10, 2014
Find out more about this exciting class by bloggers, for bloggers, teaching you how to blog like a boss!