We had a lovely last week in Nelson Bay, being able to get out and about a bit more than the previous few after my little accident. On the long weekend, Billy’s brother and his partner and two of their friends came up to stay, which was a nice opportunity to get to see them all one last time before we shipped out. We took a little trip out to Stockton Beach, which is famous for its sand dunes, which appear to just go on forever. Billy tells me they ship sand from the dunes there to beaches in Hawaii but I’m not sure if that’s actually true or not (sometimes he tells very convincing mistruths), so I cannot confirm this for sure. It was a gorgeous day, and we were lucky enough to see whales playing off in the distance from the shore which was cool. They are all migrating north for the winter, so it’s apparently really common to see them pass up the coast at this time of year. That being said, it was my first whale sighting so it was pretty exciting for me!
So we’ve been hanging out in beautiful Nelson Bay for a couple of weeks now, staying with Billy’s grandparents. We have had to go into Sydney a couple of times to get to the hospital, but as the burn is healing well, I got the all clear the other day, and don’t have to go back again! Hallelujah! So now we can get our trip really kicking again, and we’re going to take off on Wednesday up the coast for some sightseeing and job searching. It’s really exciting to be on our way again, but there’s always a hint of sadness when we leave a place, particularly one where there’s been so much family (for Billy anyway).
We’ve loved staying here, and have had beautiful weather for the most part, which has meant we got to have some fun in the sun. We borrowed some bikes off of B’s grandparents and went on a few rides around the bays and beaches here which was awesome. They are getting rid of one of their bikes, as they’re moving house, so we are going to lock it to the bullbars and take it with us, hopefully picking up another somewhere along the way. It’s awesome having bikes as we can just park the van somewhere and ride off, and cover a far greater distance than if we were walking. That being said, we have also been on a few walks, a favourite being up Mt. Tomaree. It was quite a short steep walk, with a well established pathway and stairs up to the top. Apparently people run up and down it for exercise, but that was a bit too keen for us. The views from the peak were just stunning!
Mothers Day also passed while we were here, and I took the opportunity to make one of my favourite cakes for Billy’s Nan. This one comes to you from Vegan with a Vengeance, it’s the amazing Ginger-Macadamia-Coconut-Carrot Cake. Ideal for a special occasion (but also ideal for eating whenever you want to). In my experience, this cake never fails to please, no matter who the audience. It is just deeeeeelicious!! If you’ve never tried it before, do – trust me, it will seriously blow your mind!
Ginger-Macadamia-Coconut-Carrot Cake with Coconut Icing
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups carrots, grated
Preheat oven to 180C and lightly grease two 8-inch round springform cake pans, or if you prefer, one 9×13-inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground spices.
In a separate large bowl, mix together the pineapple juice, oil, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in small batches and combine well with a hand mixer or strong fork. Fold in the macadamias, ginger, coconut, and carrots.
Divide the batter evenly between the two round pans, or spread in the rectangular pan, and bake for 40-45 minutes. Let it cool in the pans. Allow to cool, before icing between the layers and on top with the following recipe. If you used one pan, you can either cut the cake in two or just leave it as a single layer. The double tier makes it just that bit snazzier.
1/4 cup nuttelex or other vegan margarine
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Cream margarine until light and fluffy. Add the coconut milk and vanilla and combine. Add the confectioners sugar and mix until smooth. Add the coconut, mix to combine, and refrigerate until ready to use.
This usually makes enough icing to do the sides too, but I kind of like how it looks without. I also like to sprinkle more shredded coconut on top, just to make it look pretty and fluffy. Hope you enjoy it!
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Oh my goodness, where to start?! It’s been almost a month since my last update…so much has happened. We’ve been having heaps of fun, and without access to my own computer it makes it a little bit harder to update. I’m thinking about getting one of those little notebooks to take around with me. We’ll see..
Anyway, I’ll give a quick rundown of the last few weeks so I can get back up to speed with everything. Basically, after Bathurst we moved on to Katoomba, which was amazing. I guess you could say that Katoomba is the ‘main’ town in the Blue Mountains and it is just stunningly gorgeous. It’s got a really nice vibe, and in many ways reminds me of Hobart (but perhaps even better?). It’s crazy to think that it’s only an hour and a half or so out of the horror that is Sydney. We stayed in a mansion with a bunch of weird and wonderful people, and generally just loved being there. We did some day trips and some walks and all that jazz, there are so many stunning places to see around the area. I really fell head over heels in love with Katoomba, it’s now at the top of my list of next town to settle in. I can really see myself living there, it’s just so beautiful.
In the couple of weeks we were in Katoomba, my birthday occurred – I reached the quarter century! It was pretty low key, which was good as I’m not really into a big fuss being made, but Billy spoiled me which was nice. He booked us into a week-long mini yoga class which we attended every morning of the week, which was an incredible way to start the days. We LOVED it, it was such a sweet and thoughtful present as he knew I had wanted to take some classes and I really got a lot our of them. As it happens, I discovered that it’s actually a really great way to get rid of a hangover too! B also got some funky old beaded seat covers for the van (I’m not sure who these presents were for more – me or him!) As if that wasn’t already enough, he got me an awesome book on copper and wire jewellery making and some really good quality tools. Mum and Dad sent me some money too and I was able to get some stuff we’d been wanting for ages, like a compact camping table, some head torches, biodegradable crockery and other stuff for the van, which was awesome.
Billy took me out to breakfast after yoga for some fresh juice and amazing mushrooms on toast, and THEN took me out to lunch, back to Rubyfruit bakery in Leura as I had been hanging to go back. We got two wraps and had half each – the BLAT – bacon lettuce avocado and tomato, and the satay tofu. Both were delicious.
We were so full that we got some cakes to go so that we didn’t spoil them and eat ourselves into a food coma. I forget what they were – I think a raspberry cheesecake and a boozy banana cupcake. Rubyfruit is SUCH an awesome café – definitely worth the trip. The staff there are amazingly friendly, the food is great, and there’s a great range of grocery and freezer items on offer too. Did I mention cake? They have soooo many cakes.
That night Billy and some folks at the mansion made the most epic nacho dinner I have ever seen, they were so yummy. I have seriously never seen so many nachos in my life. Then B made me a banana pecan pancake cake with soy ice cream, which was out of control. I think I ate more food that day than the whole time I was in the Blue Mountains! The rest of the night we drank wine and I got to have chats with some lovely family and friends who called. It was allllll gooooooood.
I won’t go into detail about everything we did or I will never get out of here, so I’ll skip ahead. We left Katoomba maybe a week and a half ago and headed towards Sydney. We took two days to do that tiny trip, stopping at various towns along the way. When we finally got into The dreaded Sydney, ZZ cracked the shits and broke down, deciding he did not want to go any further. With some help from a couple of nice strangers, we pushed him from the middle of the road where he lay dormant into a small petrol station on the corner. In the true spirit of Sydney (sorry about the Sydney hate…I just do not enjoy the place) the worker came out and told us we would have to move as we were blocking business. Never mind that the van won’t start, just move it! Thanks for the sympathy. So we had to roll ZZ into an intersection and down a hill with traffic coming from every direction. IT WAS A BALL!! I managed to hit the petrol bowser with my bull bar on the way out which was a nice touch.
We ended up getting a tow truck, which didn’t get to us until midnight and towed us to an unrestricted parking area where we did some sneaky sleeping. As luck would have it, it was ANZAC day the following day, meaning no mechanics open. We ended up staying with Billy’s brother’s near Kings Cross for a few nights. We mostly just wandered around and ate lots of food. I do have to give Sydney that – it has lots of yummy vegan food. We finally managed to get ZZ into an autoelectrician and get some wiring fixed and some new batteries and we were good to go. We bid Sydney farewell and headed north up the coast.
Took a couple of days going up the central coast, stopping at beaches along the way and now here we are, having finally made it to Nelson Bay to stay with B’s grandparents…a visit we were going to do before postponing because of getting jobs in Cessnock, Orange and Bathurst all those weeks ago. We’re taking the time to regroup, organise ZZ a bit better and plan our next movements.
And that’s that! Finally up to date! Until next time…we’ll be on the beach soaking up some sunshine!
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Shop 10/166-168 Leura Mall, Leura
Blue Mountains, NSW
Thurs-Sun – 10am-4pm
Wednesday – CLOSED