For me, right now, being at home is all about family. I have the most beautiful, wildly charismatic 2-year-old daughter, Aggy, and a very loving, caring and supportive husband, Sam. Being at home through these uncertain times are providing our little family with time - time to spend together, time to slow down and unwind, time to cook, time to learn, time to just be.
I am craving a hug from my parents, my two brothers, their partners and my sweet little nephew, Otis. I miss our weekly family dinners. I miss my friends and being able to pop over to their homes any time we please. I miss the freedom of being able to walk down to the park with Aggy and lose ourselves on the swings for hours. I miss going to our coffee shop, Aggy's Corner, on a Sunday and bumping into at least 12 people we know... planning to be there for just half an hour, and all of a sudden it's been 3 because we are having too much fun catching up. All of these things I will never take for granted again.
A lot of firsts. Before now, my husband Sam has been the cook in the family. But whilst he is running our coffee shop, I have stepped into the role of head chef, and I am rather enjoying myself. I have been following a lot of the recipes from @recipearce - they are usually pretty simple and oh-so-delicious. Once my confidence is a little higher, I am going to attempt some recipes from the CIBI cookbook. First up, sushi.
I recently signed up to a 12-month online course to become a wedding celebrant, so I am using this time to get some study done (in between the thousands of arts and crafts activities, fort building and storybooks).
"Sometimes we get given the opportunity to make a brave choice. A choice, to surrender the things that have been great, in exchange for greater. It's here a soulful, lively, boom-boom, heart out of chest, tears on cheeks, I'm alive, kind of passion lives- it lives, just around the corner from surrender's bend." - The Apricot Memoirs, by Tess Guinery.
Hugs and kisses, family dinners, picnics, BBQs with friends, scooter rides to the park, long walks, sunset drinks, eating out.
It was a huge family affair getting Aggy's up and running. My husband, Sam, did the entire fit-out. He knocked out walls, installed two beautiful big sliding windows, added a bathroom, kitchen, bench, bench seats, wash up area... .you see it, he built it. My brother Thom, who is a partner in the business, and his girlfriend, Amy, painted the ceiling, the walls, benchtops, window frames, door frames..multiple times, and I (having just had Aggy 3 months prior) did the interiors and began reaching out to all of our suppliers. Along the way we had friends pulling out nails from the floorboards, friends that came just to share a beer after a long day's work, friends that would drop off food, knowing we hadn't eaten in hours. My mum was there every night, cleaning up after us. Neighbours would pop their heads in and introduce themselves or offer a helping hand. By the end of the 7-week renovation, we knew the names of every neighbour, and what their coffee order would be. It was time for the finishing touches.- bench seat pillows, cushions, stools, tables, trips to the flower markets. We were in the shop until 12 am the night before open day, making sure everything was just perfect. The pièce de résistance was the beautiful artwork done by our very own, Amy of Amy Hunter Studio (how lucky we are to have an incredible artist in the family!!!), which still hangs proudly in a sunny corner of the shop. By 7 am we were open, with a line out the door. By 11 am, we had sold out of every single baked good that we had ordered for the entire weekend. It was on this day, we knew we were on to a good thing.
When we made the decision to open Aggy's, we made the conscious decision that we only wanted to use quality, local produce and products. Now, nearly 2 years on, we have the most incredible family of suppliers, who have helped make our home away from home, the amazing business that it is. A big shout out to our Skittle Lane family, who have been the most incredible support throughout this time. Not only have they provided us with the most delicious coffee, but a life-long friendship that we cherish dearly.
Alongside our delicious coffee and food, we also have an amazing retail offering- ceramic keep cups, candles, glassware, cookbooks, leather goods, and lots more. Our space (before COVID-19) was also used for workshops, held by small, local businesses. My brother, Thom, is an amazing jeweller, and he holds soldiering sessions at Aggy's with his side hustle, The Fifth Lane, where attendees learn how to make their own fine rings. We have also held music lessons, watercolour workshops, cake making workshops, just to name a few. It is the perfect space for a small gathering of creatives.
Our beautiful community have been exceedingly supportive, and continue to visit us daily for their caffeine hit, or even just to chat. We have very quickly adapted to all of the necessary changes, and guidelines regarding social distancing. We are offering contactless, take away coffee and baked goods through our big beautiful sliding windows. You can literally pull up right out front, tell the boys your order, and be on your way within minutes.
Throughout the year, we hold markets and invite local businesses to take part. This time of year, we would normally be deep in planning for our Mother's Day Market, which sadly isn't going ahead this year, so we have been thinking of ways we can still include our community in the runnings of the coffee shop. Last week, we came up with the idea to invite the children in our area to create us a rainbow, with the hope of filing our windows for all passers-by to see. In just a few short days, the window was filled, bringing much-needed light and joy to those who pass it.
One of our most popular in-house baked treats is my mum's Boiled Orange Cakes. They are gluten and dairy-free, and absolutely delicious.
- 2 large navel oranges
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 2 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1 tspn baking powder
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees
- Place oranges into a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil for 15 minutes.
- Empty water, and repeat this step for an additional 15 minutes.
- Blend oranges until they make a thick pulp
- Combine eggs and sugar into a bowl. Beat together.
- Add oranges, almond meal and baking powder. Mix together until just combined
- Spoon into muffin cases, or large cake tin.
- Bake for 45 - 50 minutes
- Cook for 15 minutes in muffin tray/ cake tin before placing on cooling rack.
- Place 1 cup of pure icing sugar into a bowl
- Add zest and juice of 1 orange until icing is firm- experiment to your taste. (TIP: To get maximum juice from orange, roll it before cutting and squeezing)
- If you would like a softer icing, add 1 tsp of butter.
- Once cakes have cooled, ice away.
*If you have Citrus Trees or Gardenias, they will love the cooled orange water, as the acidic nature of the water will make them flourish. However, do not overdo the watering once your plants have buds on them.