Life in the Alex & Ant Family

BABY TALK

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

I love how these babies look as though they’re communicating with each other, Brady Bunch style. Our baby rompers are always quick to sell out so rush into your local Alex&Ant stockist for the best selection of onesies for your No#1 baby and his or her BFF. Then you can LOL and feel just a little bit smug!

Baby Collage

Baby spot

Baby 2 Collage

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MUMBO JUMBO

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

When I was at high school, my rather elderly English Literature teacher (and Band Master) used to say “rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb” rather often. Whenever I see these bright pink stalks  in the supermarket I think of Mr Maughan, but I’ve never really researched the origins of his strange expression. It turns out that he was commenting on our inability to speak in a decipherable language! To use this expression means as the listener, you can only hear confused noise, plenty of mumbo jumbo. As a parent with school-aged children, I reckon I know what he was on about…

You may have never thought about it, but Rhubarb is actually a vegetable. It’s most unusual amongst vegetables as it’s treated like a fruit! Rhubarb is low in natural sugar contains some oxalic acid which makes it unpleasant to eat unless cooked. Even then, it tastes very bitter unless sugar is added. In this recipe from Donna Hay, we also add vanilla bean and orange for mumbo jumbo goodness.

RHUBARB300g rhubarb, trimmed and chopped

1 vanilla bean, split

1/2 cup (110g) super fine caster sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind

1/4 cup (60mls) orange juice

2.5 cups (375g) self-raising flour

1 cup (175g) brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup (125mls) buttermilk

1/2 cup (125mls) vegetable oil

Crumble Topping

1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour

2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

40g unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place the rhubarb, vanilla bean, sugar, orange rind and juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool slightly.

While the rhubarb is cooling, make the crumble topping.

Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl. Add the egg, vanilla extract, buttermilk and oil, and using a butter knife, mix until just combined. Spoon into 12 x 1/2 cup capacity well-greased muffin tins. Top each with the rhubarb and spoon over the crumble. Cook for 20 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Set aside to cool for 2 minutes in the tins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 12.

Enjoy ~ Fleur xo

Rhubarb Collage

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BEAT THE BLUES

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Winter blues

Make way for the Summer blues!  Denim is a timeless coordinate, but more than that it can carry a gorgeous design all on its own.  Our new rompers, jumpsuits, pinafore dresses and shorts are here to prove that this simple fabric is capable of extraordinary things.  So, before I dazzle you with Alex and Ant’s Summer 15 collection of brights, prints, patterns and embellishments, please savour the humble virtues of denim in shades of dark and light.

On a much more serious note, a dear friend of mine has just publicised his battle with anxiety and depression in an article in the West Australian. Announcing his new role for ambassador of Lifeline WA, Aurelio Costarella speaks of his battle in the hope that it will shift stigma and help people on the journey to recovery. If you live in WA, I encourage you to attend Lifeline WA’s key fundraising event, the Black Diamond Gala Dinner at Fraser’s Restaurant on August 1. Aurelio will make the keynote speech and there are some amazing items up for auction including an ‘Aurelio Costarella experience’, which includes a personally fitted gown and lunch with the designer.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re simply suffering from “the blues”.  Depression is not a passing mood, it’s a serious illness that has an impact on both physical and mental health. If you or someone you know is having trouble simply coping with daily life, you might find these contacts helpful.

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

Headspace 1800 650 890

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

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EASTER FARE

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

Carrot

If you live in Sydney as I do, today is a perfect day to bake…the weather is horrific. Sadly we have very dear friends visiting for a week from Perth and the northern beaches are not turning on their best. We’ll have to have plenty of fun indoors, instead, starting with this awesome cake. Now, the Gourmet Traveller have it pictured as a layer cake and it looks stunning. However, I made it into two separate cakes – one for us to sample and one for our friends. If you really want to impress I’d suggest the layer cake! There are NO claims to health benefits here, apart from the obvious small amount of fruit and veg, so just relax & indulge.

300g coarsely grated carrot (2-3 carrots)

200g plain flour (1.5 cups)

160g each of caster sugar and brown sugar

120g shredded coconut (not dessicated) or coconut flakes

100g oats blitzed in a food processor

2.5 tsp baking powder

2 tsp each ground cinnamon and ground ginger

1 tsp finely grated fresh nutmeg

Finely grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon

200g sour cream

100ml almond oil or any other vegetable oil

3 eggs

Roasted chopped hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, which ever nuts you enjoy

Frosting

30g butter

30g brown sugar

2 tsp golden syrup (I think I did 2 tablespoons!)

100g sour cream

450g pure icing sugar, sieved

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease two 22cm diameter springform cake tins and line with baking paper. Stir carrot, dry ingredients, rinds and 1/2 tsp sea salt in a large bowl to combine and make a well in the centre. Whisk sour cream, almond oil and eggs in a separate bowl until smooth, add to well and stir to combine. Divide among prepared tins, smooth tops and bake , swapping tins halfway through cooking time. Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean (45 mins approx). Cool in tins for 15 mins, then cool completely on a wire rack.

For salted butterscotch frosting, melt butter in a saucepan over low heat, then stir in sugar and golden syrup until smooth and the sugar dissolves. Bring to the simmer and stir continuously with a whisk until slightly thickened (1-2 mins). Stir in the sour cream to combine, then remove from and stir in icing sugar until smooth. Stir in 1.5 tsp sea salt flakes and set aside to cool to spreading consistency (15-20 mins).

Spread half the frosting over the top of each cake, then stack on top of one another. Scatter with roasted nuts.

Keeps well at room temp under a cake dome for 2-3 days.

Here are some more graphics from the cutting room floor!

 

Enjoy ~ xo

Carrot 2

Alex&Ant

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CRACKLES FOR CRACKERS

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

My ocean-loving Zac turned 9 today and his nickname is ‘Crackers’.  He requested that I make chocolate crackles to take to school, “the way I do them”.  It suddenly occurred to me that some of you may not have tasted this recipe. Yep, there’s more than one way to crack a crackle! Once you make these, you’ll never go back to using copha. This recipe may come in handy for Easter too.

200g dark chocolate, chopped (I use 70% as the bitterness is countered by the golden syrup)

100g butter

1/3 cup (115g) golden syrup

4 cups (140g) puffed rice cereal

 

Place the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring, until melted and smooth. Place the cereal in a bowl with the chocolate mixture and mix well to combine.

Spoon into small paper cases. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Makes around 45.

Choc Crackles

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MINI MODEL OLIVE

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

My little girl, Olive Jean, has been modelling Alex&Ant for 5+ years. She’s no trained model, just a blogger’s daughter and pretty cute to boot. Olive’s 6th birthday was earlier this month so I thought it fitting to put together some pics from over the years. A retrospective if you like! Yes, it’s self-indulgent….but dressed in Alex&Ant, how can I resist?

Beach collage Baby Mooz

Rolling

6 collage

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A&A DREAM TEAM

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Blogger

Welcome to the first of our series on the people who contribute to the wonderful Alex & Ant brand. Over the coming weeks we will introduce you to everyone who commits their precious time and beautiful energy into making Alex & Ant the success it is today.

An obvious place to start is with me, the self-deprecating blogger behind these words (of wisdom?!) I’ve been writing for Alex&Ant for five years now, and every season is more exciting than the last. I’m always busting to see what’s been going on behind the scenes since I work remotely from the rest of the team. I’m based in Sydney and ironically, didn’t start working for the brand until after I left my hometown of Perth. You’re probably all aware that A&A is designed and managed in Perth, where so many creative designers have resisted the urge to relocate to the eastern states (or further abroad). There is such an amazing pool of talent over there in the West, kudos to you all.

Tell us a little about your background…

I’m a trained interior designer who moved into both publishing and sales after completing my studies. I wrote articles on various design topics and projects for a number of industry journals whilst my ‘day job’ was promoting interior design products such as fabrics, carpet and custom-designed rugs to architects and designers. When children came along we decided to raise them on the northern beaches of Sydney where my husband grew up.  Olive was only 1 and Zac was 4 when we left Perth, and it was a big change. The Alex & Ant blog became therapy for me, a creative outlet where I could contribute to something ‘light’ when my own issues of fitting into a new town were weighty. I doubt I could ever go back to an analytical method of writing now that I’ve found this niche, it is still my solace. I’m working in a similar sales role again, but I hope to develop my recently established business in styling children’s rooms. I can see that wiring for Alex & Ant whilst designing inspiring rooms for kids would be the perfect career marriage! Tell me what you think via Instagram @mrsrobinson_stylist

How do you identify with the brand and why do you like collaborating with Alex & Ant?

I am in awe of the new ideas that Caterina explores every season. To me, there is always a sense of innocence and old-school charm that keeps the brand from becoming too ‘try hard’ or dressing our kids beyond their years. I’ve written at length about Caterina’s fondness of the classics, of timeless shapes and quality textiles, it underpins every collection. Like many Mums I adore dressing my children in beautiful clothes. However, I shy away from loud colours and silly slogans that don’t really allow for self-expression. Nothing brings a smile to my face like Olive teaming her A&A tulle skirt with long socks and Converse, and Zac loves to throw a flanno over his A&A tees. Alex & Ant ties in with other pieces so effortlessly and lasts well beyond one season.

Working with someone who is so sure of her design philosophy means that what I do also has integrity. I can put words to Caterina’s ideas and it all makes perfect sense. I love her way with people, Caterina is so warm and generous.

Who or what are some of your influences? What other designers, artists, creatives or entrepreneurs do you admire?

I’m an Instagram addict. I can’t get enough visual stimulation and waiting for new magazines to come out is agonising! Anyone creating interesting work in colour, texture, pattern and branding is an inspiration to me.

I also love to eat well and the success of people such as Emma Galloway, author of My Darling Lemon Thyme, blows me away.

What are some of your methods to stay fresh and inspired?

I like to stay connected with The Blog Society and Kinfolk for opportunities to meet with creatives from very diverse fields. Everyone trying to make a living out of a creative enterprise struggles with similar issues so it helps to feel supported in your journey, and to have fun along the way!

I also take workshops at The School and Koskela in anything from styling masterclasses to screen-printing and candle-making (as I’m doing this month with Elise Pioch Balzac of Maison Balzac candles).

It’s not very cool but I really like…

80’s music and 1960’s West German ‘Onion’ vases, which may look rather ugly to other people! Lately I cannot stop buying succulents and cacti, even the super spiky ones. There’s barely a corner of my patio that doesn’t feature a pot of these sculptural plants.

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FRECKLES IS ACE

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Freckles is a beautiful kids store located in Avalon on the northern beaches of NSW, where this blogger (me) happens to live.  I had nothing to do with the store picking up Alex & Ant as a label, so it was pretty exciting to see so much of the Summer range on display as I walked the kids to school one day!  Elyse and her team fill this store with quality labels and fantastic gift items, the stock is ever changing and the windows always look gorgeous.  The special Alex & Ant window featured our Megan Hess poster-size colouring-in design and a wonderful pegged clothes line of Summer pieces.  Inside the racks were full with our love-heart, ice-cream and watercolour prints, coloured pom poms and tassels, boys stripes and shark print and lots of baby onesies folded around the shelves.  There were a few baby dolls dressed up too!  The collection has raced out the doors, so this is why I’m writing in the past tense….

Stay up to date with the store at http://www.frecklesforkids.com/

Thank you Freckles For Kids, your support is heartwarming xoxo

Freckles

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BABY CLEMENTINE

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Clementine Collage

Where were you born and what is your heritage?  That is, where are your Mum & Dad from?

I was born at Mona Vale hospital (on Sydney’s Northern Beaches), as was my sister, two brothers and Mama! Dad is from country New South Wales

What would you like to do when you grow up?

To stop dribbling

What is your favourite animal?

At the moment, it’s Sophie the Giraffe

Do you have a pet? What’s its name? If not, what would you call your pet if you had one?

We have a cat named Indi Boo Boo

What is your favourite school holiday activity?

Walking in the pram, bath-time and laughing with my family

Who is your hero?

My Mum (of course!)

What is your favourite song?

Oh My Darling Clementine

What is your favourite movie?

My eyes don’t focus too well on screens, as yet!

What is your favourite colour?

I look good in floral

What is your favourite food?

M-I-L-K!

What is your favourite sport?

Kicking on my mat in the sun, without a nappy

What’s your nickname?

Clem or Tinee

What cities would you love to visit?

Siem Reap, Vancouver & Paris, but there’s plenty of time for that!

Describe ALEX&ANT in your own words, why do you enjoy wearing it?  Do you have a favourite piece?

Alex & Ant is fun & colourful.. .We love our ice cream onesie & our snakeskin boots! This summer I’ll be sporting a pair of embroiderie anglaise bloomers and matching hat!

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PERFECT PICK-ME-UP

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Balls fini.jpg

Yes, I’ve jumped on the wagon and bliss balls are my new thang! Not only that, but I’m enjoying a Paleo diet of sorts (I don’t do anything hard core). Pete Evans has released a book based on Paleo ‘Healthy Everyday‘ and Irena Macri’s ‘Eat Drink Paleo‘ is worthy of its sell-out status. If you need a very quick summary, a Paleo diet is eating nutrient-dense, whole, unprocessed ingredients including lots of protein and healthy fats. It excludes pro-inflammatory, nutrient-void foods such as grains, processed sugars and unhealthy vegetable and seed oils.  Reported and known benefits include improved metabolism and digestion, increased energy levels, sustained weight loss, improved sleep, mental clarity, clearer skin and an overall sense of wellbeing. In my personal experience, I’ve never been LESS hungry between meals. When you are peckish, my bliss ball will give you an injection of good, raw energy. There are loads of recipes out there so experiment with some additions such as spirulina and maca powder.

Ingredients

Balls intro.jpg10 organic Medjool dates, pips removed

handful of organic sultanas

handful of activated walnuts (or other nuts)

heaped tablespoon of cacao powder

1 teaspoon chia seeds

splash of vanilla extract

tiny splash of water, if necessary

organic shredded coconut for rolling

whizzed air-popped popcorn for rolling

 

Method

Put dates, sultanas, nuts, cacao powder, chia seeds and vanilla extract in a small hand blender, food-processor thing. If the mixture combines well and isn’t dry, you don’t need any water. Roll balls in coconut or popcorn (however I’ve discovered this loses its crunch) and refrigerate. Enjoy 1-2 per day. They will be consumed long before the suggested use-by date of 7 days! If you’re interested in this style of eating you may also really enjoy the blog, My Darling Lemon Thyme.

Fleur xo

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