Melbourne

Come Alive in Melbourne

My friend Deepti, is on a month-long holiday to Australia since the 18th of Dec. She has already covered Adelaide and now she is in Melbourne. She has been sending me these awesome updates of her holiday that I am on a virtual holiday with her, on my smart phone!

Thanks Dips…keep them coming! This photograph in particular drew me to hit the web world and know more. I’ve always been drawn to the sea and the beaches.

In fact any ‘beach destination’ is our favourite holiday as a family. As I surfed exploring for ‘beachy’ holiday destinations in Australia… Melbourne caught my fancy. Also this contest couldn’t have come at a right time – What’s your reason for falling in love with Melbourne, the most livable city in the world?– And I thought to myself what’s not there in this city to fall in love with! It is a place that has just about everything… the beaches, the gardens, the visual experience, adventure, fun-sports, street art, the food and shopping… that’s everything  any holiday-er looks for!

My virtual exploration of Melbourne took me to more amazing places of interests (just my kind!) other than the more touristy ones as the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne Museum, Melbourne Zoo, the National Gallery of Victoria and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building and so many more!

Melbourne has a great bicycle sharing system and a superb network of tram, an affordable and convenient way to get around the city. Just my kind of holiday… to explore the city at my pace. Now what would you do if you have only three days to be in Melbourne? You plan and pack the most in those three days! Keeping Melbourne CBD as the centre-point, here is what I have sorted out for my kind of holiday…customized and tailor-made for the traveller in me and not the tourist,  in three days flat! 

Fall in Love with Melbourne Once! Beach Hopping!

Start your day early with a tram ride to St Kilda Beach, a hotspot for tourists and locals; the ocean is calm and is great for all water sports.

Have your fill of water sports and then head over to the palm lined trendy cafes for some great sea food. Once you are donesatiating your taste buds, hop on a direct bus or get on a short train ride to head towards Brighton beach, an ideal spot to laze in the late afternoon sun, and make plans for the next two days. The beach is dotted with charming bright, multi-coloured bathing boxes; It would make a great beach holiday photography destination!

Head back to the city to end the day at Federation Square- a potpourie of culinary diversity, from world cuisine to authentic Australian cuisine, there’s something to suit all tastes and budgets.

Fall in Love with Melbourne Twice!  A little adventure and a little sightseeing.

Get ready for an incredible experience on board a Hot Air Balloon!

Start the day early in the morning on a Balloon ride, enjoying the city below as it comes to life. How about having breakfast suspended in the air! Sounds like an incredible adventure…definitely in the to-do list!

After that adventurous morning, walk through the city streets, lane-ways along the Yarra River to be dazzled and delighted by the world-famous Street Art and unravel a whole new perspective to street art. A countless public artworks worth every minute of your time…and once you are done exploring the art and clicking pictures…

melbourne photography by Cuba Gallery

Image Credits-Cuba Gallery

…hop on a bus towards King’s Domain Gardens-  a historic garden with plenty of big trees providing shade and lush green lawns…a perfect place for a quiet n cozy evening time followed by unwinding under the stars with a film, (if it is a Saturday night) with a bag full of popcorn and something scrumptious from the trucks lined with street food. Moonlight Cinema – the outdoor cinema on the Central Lawn at Royal Botanic Gardens, a perfect way to end the day!

Never mind if you don’t have a Saturday in your three-day trip, there is a similar experience atop Curtin House right in the heart of the city, go in for an exhilarating view of the city-scape at night followed by watching a movie on the Rooftop Cinema…a  tried and tested movie buff hangout.

Rooftop Cinemas, Melbourne

 

Fall in Love with Melbourne Thrice!  Zip around the city on a Bicycle!

When you know time is a premium, you try to squeeze in every bit of the experience that you can while on a holiday. For relaxing (read ‘lazy’ holidays) there are other places, definitely not the exciting experiences that Melbourne has to offer! So, let’s get going…set course early in the morning on a bicycle (that would be my choice!)

or a tram, the choice is yours… venue of interest is also yours- Melbourne Museum or the National Gallery of Victoria. Spend the day enriching your experience in the history of Melbourne… save the later half of the day to chill out at one of the night markets in Melbourne:

Queen Victoria Market– Explore the over 200 stalls in this historic 19th century market, offering everything under the sun…definitely an unusual shopping experience to look forward to! Open during the day,this market turns even more exciting during the weekends when it throws open its doors to all the merrymaking at night-time shopping fiesta!

OR

hit the Blender Lane Artists’ Market ; it is the most ‘Artisty’ night market in Melbourne. Come evening, the streets come alive with vibrant stalls! It showcases paintings, photography, unique souvenirs and jewellery and all things related to art… I would love to be here! Not as much to buy as to explore…

Optional Treat!– If you have kids with you on this holiday or you want to re-live your ‘kiddy’ days then strike off something from your itinerary and save half a day for Luna Park, the famous Amusement Park! Kiddos or no kiddos, I am sure there is enough to keep one amused!

Luna Park, Melbourne

Luna Park, Melbourne

Shuffle the order of the days to suit your mood… I guess that’s the best that can be packed in three short days in the most livable city in the world! Or check out the for pre-made short tours of the city. I surely would like to spend at least a fortnight, to soak in all the experiences!

There are numerous reasons to fall in love with this city…it has so much to offer! I haven’t even started with the Yarra Valley Wineries experience or the Great Ocean Drive or the feeding the penguins or go seal watching or the 12 Apostles or the day at Peninsula Hot springs…the list is endless!

Is there any place that you feel is a ‘must –see’ in Melbourne that can be packed in a short trip? I don’t know…maybe if you’ve been there and done that… let me know. I am definitely putting this city in my bucket list of ‘must-see’ destinations around the world!

Let me see where all does my friend, Dipti, visits … looking forward to her updates on Whatsapp!  

And for you, since you have landed on my blog, I have something interesting… if you answer this simple question (in the comment box below), before 5th of Jan 2015, you stand a chance to win a Gift Voucher worth Rs.500!! 

Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why? 

(CONTEST CLOSED as on 5th Jan 2015, 11:59 pm) 

Contest Winner Update (11/Jan/2015): Sakshi Bhatnagar

All images are courtesy Tourism Victoria Website, unless specified otherwise.

 

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Pots, Pans or Crockery as Flower Vases

Pots, Pans or Crockery as Flower Vases

Just popping in to share how one can put to multitask pots, pans or crockery as flower vases or for organizing your home. I love to keep fresh flowers around my home but I do not have the time to do elaborate arrangements. At the same time I don’t want someone else doing it for me (read- florist bought arrangements). So, here is what I do… I just raid my kitchen and use pots, pans or crockery to hold small bunches of flowers and scatter them around my home. And why just flowers, try it with plants too! Check out here and here how I decorate with plants and also see how I recycle old empty bottles to arrange flowers and foliage. These arrangements look kind of charming and fanciful.

Pothos-  Indoor Plants @ Hooked on Homes!

Pothos- Indoor Plants @ Hooked on Homes!

Recycling Glass Bottles

Recycling Glass Bottles

This old kettle hasn’t been used for ages for its real purpose…instead it has multi-tasked as a cutlery holder or a cute vase… seen here is the Bougainvillea from my garden.

Pots, Pans or Crockery as Flower Vases

Multitask Pots, Pans or Crockery as Flower Vase @ Hooked on Homes!

And this little sauce-pot double duties on my bedside table!

Pots, Pans or Crockery as Flower Vases

Multitask Pots, Pans or Crockery as Flower Vase @ Hooked on Homes!

Such arrangements add an element of whimsy and fun… something different from the usual.

Don’t you agree? Want to see some more of it…read my post on simple ideas for Flower Arranging. That’s the little corner of bliss…my ‘on-the-floor’ craft area.

Make use of all those stashed away pieces of your kitchenware, empty beer/booze bottles, soft drink cans etc. to brighten up your home in a unique way! Sometimes it’s the simple things that lend flair to your home.

Linking up with- Dear Creatives

Redoux Interiors, Miss Mustard Seed, Funky JunkNifty Thrifty Things,The Foley Family, Born Again Farm Girl,  TiticraftyMy Turn for Us,

The Heart of Your HomeDIY Showoff, Creating My Way to SuccessI Should be Mopping the Floor,  Skip to my Lou,  A Blossoming LifeFlamingotoes,

Sugar Bee Crafts, The Recipe Critic, Nap Time CreationsMy Uncommon Slice of Surburbia, The Dedicated HouseGod’s Growing GardenLou Lou Girls,

House on the Way, Ginger Snap CraftsOh My CreativeSomeday Crafts, Not just a Housewife,Modern Pilgrimage, Beyond the Picket Fence,  A Bowl Full of Lemons,

I Gotta Create  Marigolds’ Loft,   A Creative Princess, Living Well and Spending Less

Mommy on Demand A Glimpse InsideThe Charm of HomeMy Romantic Home, Nancherrow, My Turn for Us   City of Creative Dreams Dear Creatives, Kitchen Dreaming,

The Girl Creative,  I Heart Naptime,  Be Different Act Normal, Natasha in Oz, Simply Gloria, Classy ClutterReasons to Skip the HouseworkCrafty Spices, One More Time

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paper lamps

DIY Paper Lamps

With the holiday season catching up, how would you like to bring some ‘cheer’ inside your home? No, it’s not too late… As it is the winter is doing a good job of adding blues to everyday madness. How about adding some bright colours to beat the winter blues? By simple DIY or crafts, your home will be a cheerful and inviting place for all. What do you say to a quick DIY craft to brighten up a dull corner of your home? You can take up this quick and easy décor idea to jazz up your home just in time for Christmas and the New Year. I made these pretty DIY hanging paper lamps to perk up a dull corner in my home. It doesn’t harm to add a little glitz and glamour to your festive decor without a heavy dent on your wallet or time, does it?

paper lamps

DIY Paper Lamps @ Hooked on Homes!

Here is all that you need for this DIY paper lamps:

  • A few multicolored A4 cartridge sheets (handmade sheets would also do)
  • A stapler
  • PVC glue
  • Electric bulb holders
  • Zero watt bulbs or low-wattage CFLs
  • Electric plastic coated wire

I don’t think I have to elaborate how easy it is to make these cone-shaped diy paper lamps… the photos are self-explanatory. Just roll the A4 paper into a large cone, apply glue and seal with a stapler (so that the glue sets in and the shape is retained). Remove the stapler pin once the glue is dry and set. From start to finish, it took me just over an hour.

And if you are up for a little more bling, then just rub a glue stick liberally all over the paper lamps and sprinkle some silver or gold glitter until the paper lamp is fully covered. Now attach wire to the bulb holders, and string into the paper lamps… that’s it… that’s how simple it is!

There are so many ways to hang these paper lamps… the choice is yours. I hung them in a wavy pattern horizontally. It would look good hanging one below the other vertically or all bunched up like grapes!

Don’t the colourful paper lamps look pretty by the day… and by the night?

The green fairy lights on a tree branch, in the background, was another of my quick fix DIY from last year to brighten a corner… without spending a penny! The fairy lights are from my Diwali lights collection and the tree branch was a find! Check it out here- Home Decor with Nature.

Hang them in a style to your suit your space and décor inside your home. Or you may hang the paper lamps in your balcony or patio or above the tables to make the festivities extra cheerful! Happy decorating!

Linking up with- Redoux Interiors, Miss Mustard Seed, Funky JunkNifty Thrifty Things,The Foley Family, Born Again Farm GirlCrafty Spices

The Heart of Your HomeDIY Showoff, Creating My Way to SuccessI Should be Mopping the Floor,  Skip to my Lou,  A Blossoming LifeLou Lou Girls

Sugar Bee CraftsThe Recipe CriticNap Time CreationsA Bowl Full of Lemons,Cooking Mimi, My Uncommon Slice of Surburbia,

House on the Way, Ginger Snap CraftsOh My CreativeSomeday CraftsNot just a Housewife, Modern Pilgrimage, Beyond the Picket Fence

I Gotta Create  733 Blog, Marigolds’ Loft,  Seven Alive, A Creative Princess, Glued to my Crafts,

Mommy on Demand, Simply Dream & Create, A Glimpse Inside, Put a Bird on it, Krafty Cards, The Charm of Home, My Romantic Home, Nancherrow,  My Turn for Us,  City of Creative Dreams , Tidy Mom, The Bold Abode, Beacon Time with the Hungry Hippo,  Dear Creatives

I Heart Naptime,  Be Different Act NormalNatasha in OzSimply GloriaClassy ClutterReasons to Skip the Housework

 

 

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sweet buns

Sweet Buns

What do you do when you are completely stressed out? I am sure you have your ways to beat the stress but have you ever tried kneading dough? Funny question? Not really, try kneading dough and you’d know what I mean! And the beauty of the whole process is… you end with something productive. If nothing else then at least soft pliable dough for chappatis! So how do I do it? You’d know in a while if you read it till the end. It is up to you to guess what mood was I in when I baked these amazingly soft and Sweet Buns!

It’s the most forgiving recipe, you can’t go wrong with it, I promise. The only way you’d go wrong would be if the dry yeast plays hokie with you! Make sure about the expiry date on the packet before using it. Here is what you’d need to bake these soft and delicious sweet buns:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (Maida)
  • 1/2 cup milk or as required (for kneading the dough)
  • 2 teaspoon dry Yeast
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the glaze:

  • 2 tablespoon fresh cream
  • 1 tablespoon castor sugar

Dissolve sugar in ½ cup warm (not hot) milk, add dry yeast to it. Stir it once and let it rest for about 10 minutes. It will become frothy and rise. Mix salt to the flour and rub in softened butter to the flour, the texture of the flour would become grainy. Now start adding the bubbly milk mixture to the buttered flour and start kneading. Use your hands to mix the dough so that it comes together in the bowl. Here is my recipe for ways to beat the stress…

Toss the dough on to a clean work surface and knead well. For a loose dough like this, be patient, put on your headphones (music) and knead for a good 10‑15 minutes… that is if you are not that stressed out but if you are in need of a real stress buster, become a karate champ and beat the s*** out of the dough, vent out all your stress on the dough- slapping it back down on to the surface…as many times, punching it, twisting it and do not forget to accompany the act with a loud ‘hiyaa’ or whatever!

You may drizzle dry flour as and when required. I have tried both these ways of kneading the dough and they work! You see with a little work, the dough will begin to lose its stickiness and become smoother and more pliable and that’s the gluten developing , which is exactly what we want. Let the dough be slightly loose, but not runny or sticky… as I said, it takes about 10 minutes of dedicated hand kneading time.

Once kneaded, grease the inside of a large bowl with oil, toss in the dough and set in a warm place covered for about an hour or until it doubles in size.

Gently push down the dough, turn out of its bowl on the floured surface and divide into equal sized little balls. Shape it rolling in circles in your palms. Arrange these little balls in a deep large tray, lined with baking sheet, space them out so that each dough ball sits a little apart from the other. The idea is to give them space to rise one more time (they will double again). Cover and leave them in a warm place, let it rise for 30-45 minutes, or until nearly twice their original size.

While the dough rises the second time, prepare the glaze by mixing 2 tablespoons of fresh cream with 1 tablespoon of castor sugar, beat it nicely. Preheat the oven to 175 C. Brush with the glaze and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. If you feel the top of the buns is browning too quickly then cover it midway baking. I use a thin wooden chopping board to cover and save from quick browning.

Remove the buns from the oven and brush them immediately with the glaze one more time.

Now imagine having these oven fresh sweet buns with a hot cup of tea, in the verandah… on a rainy day! A sure shot way to beat the stress! Try it and let me know.

TIP- The ‘maida’ ( all purpose flour) in the dough can be replaced with whole wheat flour ( although the buns come out slightly stiffer than the ‘maida’ version but definitely it’s the healthier version). This dough can be adapted to many flavours…just replace the extra sugar with spices/herbs/flavours of your choice. And the glaze can be made without the castor sugar, just with plain beaten full cream (just use it to brush the buns).

 

Linking up with-  Nifty Thrifty Things,The Foley Family, Born Again Farm GirlCrafty Spices

The Heart of Your HomeDIY Showoff, Creating My Way to SuccessI Should be Mopping the Floor,  Skip to my Lou,  A Blossoming Life,

Lou Lou Girls, Sugar Bee CraftsThe Recipe CriticNap Time CreationsA Bowl Full of Lemons, My Uncommon Slice of Surburbia,

House on the Way, Ginger Snap CraftsOh My CreativeSomeday CraftsNot just a Housewife,Modern Pilgrimage, Beyond the Picket Fence

I Gotta Create  Marigolds’ Loft,   A Creative Princess

Mommy on Demand A Glimpse InsideThe Charm of HomeMy Romantic Home, Nancherrow,  My Turn for Us,  City of Creative Dreams Dear Creatives

I Heart Naptime,  Be Different Act Normal, Natasha in Oz, Simply Gloria, Classy ClutterReasons to Skip the Housework

 

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dreamcatcher

DIY Dreamcatcher

Every time my daughter churns out something new, it gives me a high! I guess that’s but natural for any mom to feel when you see your little one becoming independent. Of lately she has been trying her hand at so many  new things…baking is one of them (since she has taken up Home Science at School)…will be sharing her baking adventures soon. Last evening she made this pretty little DIY Dreamcatcher for her room.

It was fascinating to hear from her what a traditional Dreamcatcher is intended for… to channelize positive dreams. I showed her the Indian charm that we have on our ‘Charm Wall’, we compared…what a Dreamcatcher is to Native America ‘Kaalbelia’ is to India…the gorgeous Rajasthani charm is believed to have the same effect…well almost the same, as a traditional Dreamcatcher, that is, to protect the sleeping individual from negative dreams and to channelize positive ones. Okay enough of turning it to a lesson! Coming back to her craftiness, I love the delicate Dreamcatcher that she made.

Since I couldn’t catch her in action while she was at it, I asked her for a quick demo… she showed me how she made this web-like lace on the metal hoop, using her bangle…growing into a little crafter! She told me to make squares in the circular hoop and continue making the squares till you reach the centre (or when you can’t make anymore!).

She used a metal hoop, coloured thread, peacock feather, a couple of wooden beads and a few tiny pompoms…all this stuff was left over of some craftwork.

Now whether the charming Dreamcatcher works or not remains to be seen but what it surely does is… pretty-up her room! Don’t you think so?

 

Linking up with- Redoux Interiors, Miss Mustard Seed, Funky JunkNifty Thrifty Things,The Foley Family, Born Again Farm GirlCrafty Spices

The Heart of Your HomeDIY Showoff, Creating My Way to SuccessI Should be Mopping the Floor,  Skip to my Lou,  A Blossoming Life,

Lou Lou Girls, Sugar Bee CraftsThe Recipe CriticNap Time CreationsA Bowl Full of Lemons, My Uncommon Slice of Surburbia,

House on the Way, Ginger Snap CraftsOh My CreativeSomeday CraftsNot just a Housewife,Modern Pilgrimage, Beyond the Picket Fence

I Gotta Create  Marigolds’ Loft,   A Creative Princess

Mommy on Demand A Glimpse InsideThe Charm of HomeMy Romantic Home, Nancherrow,  My Turn for Us,  City of Creative Dreams Dear Creatives

I Heart Naptime,  Be Different Act Normal, Natasha in Oz, Simply Gloria, Classy ClutterReasons to Skip the Housework

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Vegetable Pie

Whole Wheat Vegetable Pie

My kids have complained that I haven’t cooked anything ‘different’ lately…the daily supper/dinner ideas have become boring. The last I baked for them was a ‘cinnamon rosette bun’…which was a really long time ago. I couldn’t ask them to wait for another long weekend or holidays…there was no way of convincing them that I’d rather stick to something quick and easy, given my work timings. Truly speaking, they weren’t being unreasonable…I hadn’t made anything special for them in a while.

So, I decide to make something special for them. I had all these vegetables I picked up from the ‘haat’ (weekly farmer’s market) and had the regular ‘chapatti’ dough (fresh Indian bread dough) in my fridge.

I used the same dough for this super-quick whole wheat vegetable pie’s (or call it a fully stuffed pizza!) base. The result wasn’t so bad, considering I didn’t do the elaborate ‘yeasty’ way. Continue reading

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