revisiting the grounds

So when I visited the Grounds of Alexandria last year, I knew it wouldn't be long before I was back again for round two. This place only keeps getting more popular and it really shows... In fact, my friends and I went on a Monday afternoon and had to endure an hour long wait, while last time it was only twenty minutes! Apparently parking's also pretty atrocious, so walking from Green Square station might be something you want to consider. After all, it only takes about fifteen minutes and you'll need to walk off the inevitable food coma!

Part of this place's appeal is that everything's so photogenic. Vintage-style lemonade stand with pretty signage? Check. ATM hidden within a red telephone box? Check. Mounted deer head on the wall? You get the idea... There was even a florist selling rainbow roses that I kinda wanted, but at $5 a pop it definitely wasn't happening!

The 'Ground' Burger served with beer-battered chips

I ordered the Grounds' signature burger, and oh my. I've been looking at a disproportionate number of burger pictures lately and after weeks, the craving has finally been satisfied! This one was pretty good as far as burgers go – the toasted brioche bun was nice and soft, and I really liked the mayo and crisp lettuce inside. Oh, and can I just say that I love the chips at this place? I was so full that I didn't really get to enjoy them properly but they were delicious, especially with the chilli mayo on the side! They kind of remind me of the ones you can get at the Snag Stand, which are a hybrid between regular chips and wedges.


Iced tea, Crushed apple cider, Beef ragout stracci, Steak sandwich 

Our whole group got drinks to-go and I have to admit, it was pretty comical to see so many drinks being served in bubble cups instead of the usual mason jars! Thank goodness I did get one though, since I could barely finish my iced tea and ended up drinking it on the walk to the station. Anyway, my friend really seemed to enjoy her beef ragout stracci despite none of us being sure about how to actually pronounce it (isn't that the worst)? Same with the steak sandwich, although I noticed that they changed the bread since last time! Despite this it was still huge and seemed like a battle to finish...

Lemons and strawberries today, bread and pastries tomorrow. Speaking of lemons, during the wait we tried teamonade which tasted more like lemonade than tea, but it was still pretty good! It's inspired to me to make my own lemonade with pretty garnishes sometime.


While I like food I'm usually someone who'll snub a restaurant at the mere sight of a line, so this was definitely a rare occasion! I thought the hype would die down by now but apparently not, so that may determine whether I decide to come back again or not. Nevertheless, if you've never been and have FOMO (fear of missing out) I recommend trying out the Grounds for yourself. It's certainly an experience!
The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon
Posted by : Mani

diy pencil case

Sewing is one of those things that I've always wanted to do, but never get around to learning because of a lack of free time. My mum and grandma are pretty much experts so it's not like I don't have the resources at my disposal, but it just seems so difficult! I think it's because sewing's extremely technical, which isn't my usual way of doing things. Anyway, one of the few things I know how to make is the humble pencil case. My old one's falling apart and I never see ones that I like, so I decided it was time to take up a new project!

Things you will need include... canvas, material for your lining, a zipper, ruler, fabric paint, paint brushes and sewing paraphernalia (machine optional). Really, you can use calico or any other material but I just happened to recycle an old canvas tote I wasn't using!

1. First, cut four 12x20cm rectangles (two for the exterior, and two for the lining). Make sure you iron them before moving onto next step!

2. Line up and pin your fabric rectangles and zipper like in the photo. They should be in this order – lining facing upwards, zipper facing upwards, then the canvas with the right side facing downwards. Basting is optional, but I found it makes sewing easier later on!

3. Sew a straight line that's close to the zipper. If you're using a sewing machine make sure you use a zipper foot, since it means you won't risk getting stuck in the zipper teeth. If you mess up your straight line, just sew over the old stitch again until you're satisfied.

4. Repeat steps 2-4 on the other side of the zipper. Once you're done with it, your work should look like something similar to this...

5. Bring the canvas and lining sides together, as shown below. Then open the zipper and makes sure the ends line up before stitching all around the edges. It's completely fine to sew over the middle, but just make sure you leave a little gap in the lining! Once you're done, trim any excess zipper.

6. Turn your pencil case inside out through the gap, then sew it up. Voila! You should now have a blank canvas to work your magic on. If any of that was a bit hard to follow I recommend checking out this blog post, since it explains the sewing process a lot better than I do.

Here's my favourite step, the painting bit! This should be pretty self-explanatory, but here are some tips that I picked up along the way:
  • Make sure you take out the lining of your pencil case first so that you have a flat surface to work with.
  • Always test your colours and brush strokes on some spare fabric, since they can be pretty unpredictable! This is even more important when working on rough materials like my canvas.
  • Stencils are your best friend if you want to make a lot of similar shapes, like my flowers. They don't even need to be fancy! I just cut out some makeshift ones from scrap paper and they held up fine.
  • Reference images are also really useful. Can you tell I was a little inspired by the lovely designs from Rifle Paper Co? Mine are definitely not as pretty, but I'm pleased with how they turned out!
Finally, this should be obvious but keep your workspace clutter-free. Cleaning up spilt paint is no fun (I should know that by now)...

The finished product! I have a feeling I'll be making a lot of these, not necessarily to use for pencil cases but also as multi-purpose bags. After all, I don't think a girl can ever have too many make up pouches/coin purses/toiletry bags... Anyway, I hope you all have a great weekend ahead of you!

Posted by : Mani

four ate five

Brunch has always been a mystical thing to me. Although the idea gets thrown around casually I can never wake up early enough for it, so the novelty is something that I haven't gotten around to experiencing yet... well not in Sydney, that is! Anyway when someone recommended that I try out Four Ate Five (which happens to be right next door to Mad Spuds) I was determined to make the effort for brunch, and it definitely didn't disappoint. Be warned though, my friend and I went fairly early on a Friday morning and it was already packed! Luckily we found seats quickly, although people seem to be in and out of there pretty fast anyway.

They didn't have chai lattes (blasphemy!) so I went for the chai tea brewed with milk and honey instead. Honestly I'd have to say it tastes the same as all the other places I've had chai tea, but I still enjoy it every time! It also came in this cute teapot and strainer set which is quite fun, plus it holds just the right amount for one person.

Baked eggs were high on the list of things recommended to me, and I can see why! I got the Moroccan style baked eggs with almonds and organic fetta, and man oh man... They were so rich and tomatoey, and definitely needed the complimentary sourdough for dipping. The almonds gave a nice crunchy texture, although it still tasted good after they had been soaking for a bit! A word of warning, though – the eggs were literally steaming hot, so don't dive into them like I did. I can still feel where I scalded the roof of my mouth...

My friend went for the other baked eggs option which involved pancetta, spinach, leek, mushrooms, and parmesan. Apparently it was also really good, although it might've been a little too cheesy since she didn't finish all of it! Nevertheless, we both agreed that the baked eggs were really warming and basically the perfect food for winter. Also not pictured is my friend's banana smoothie, which was huge and came in a whole milkshake cup. I may have to try that or the other milkshakes on a day when I have the stomach space, since they all sounded pretty good!

Check out some of those cool paintings on the wall! Both the kitchen and coffee machines were pretty much out in the open, so I think it made this place feel a bit more fast-paced than other cafes.

Aaand some sights to be seen around Sydney's own Central Park, since my friend had never been and we wanted some grass to sit on. Meanwhile I finally figured out where that infamous gelato place is, but unfortunately we were both too full to try some! I'll definitely be back for it soon though, just watch this space...
  Fouratefive on Urbanspoon
Posted by : Mani