The Friendship Shortbread!

The holiday season is the perfect time for making your favourite home made goodies. I’ve been having fun assembling gift boxes filled with Rocky Road and Shortbread for friends and family with a sweet tooth.

This shortbread recipe was given to me over 30 years ago by my dear friend Mishelle and I’ve always referred to it as, The Friendship Shortbread. You can find my Rocky Road recipe by clicking HERE. If you’re in the mood for some festive cooking, you won’t find two easier things to make.

The Friendship Shortbread

  • 250g softened butter

  • 250g plain flour

  • 125g cornflour

  • 125g icing sugar

Sift the flour, cornflour and icing sugar together (at least 4 times) then gradually add the dry ingredients to the soft butter. Mix well until the mixture forms a soft dough. (No food processor needed. I just use a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon). Press the shortbread dough into a 20cm round tin and prick all over with a fork. Alternatively, roll out the dough on some baking paper and cut out shapes using cookies cutters.

Bake at 150 degrees celsius for 1 hour. Individually cut shapes take about 30 minutes. Cut the tin of shortbread into triangles while still hot and dust with caster sugar. Leave in the tin or on the tray to cool.


Dip the cutter into some plain flour to avoid the dough sticking.


Who doesn’t love a piece of heart shaped shortbread?


Simply lift the baking paper and shortbread out of the tin when cold and wrap in cellophane and tie up with ribbon - an instant gift from your kitchen.


Boxed, wrapped and ready for giving!

Enjoy your creative life, Jules

The Real Downton Abbey!

Where do writers’ get their ideas from?

It often starts with thoughts of a character, a specific era or location and grows from there. More often than not, great stories simply come from real life.

When Julian Fellows started to write the script for the television series, Downton Abbey, he based much of the story content on the historical events of Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England - the ancestral seat of the Herbert family and home of the 8th Earl & Countess of Carnarvon.

Last month I was given the most wonderful surprise - a guided tour inside this beautiful home. It’s easy to see why Julian Fellows found so much inspiration at Highclere Castle. This truly is the most beautiful place. We were not permitted to take photos inside the castle, but here’s a little of what I saw.


This magnificent tree, a Cedar of Lebanon, planted in 1770.


The seat featured in many of the scenes from the series.


I couldn’t help but think about all the people who have passed through these doors over the centuries. Now I was one of them.


Highclere Castle in the late afternoon light.

Built in 1743, these Corinthian columns form part of what’s known as Jackdaws Castle. Everywhere I looked there was something beautiful to see. I’m tempted to add an historical novel to my writing list. Maybe it’s time to take tea in the library for some inspiration?

Enjoy your creative life, Jules

Travel and Treasures!

One of the great joys of travelling are the treasures you find along the way. That painting, book or artefact you discover when you turn down an unknown alley way or lose yourself in a market place.

I recently stayed with some friends who shared with me the stories behind some of the beautiful things they’d collected on their travels, where they’d found them and the memories behind those special moments.

This beautiful dome bowl and lid is made from bone and was found in a market place in India.

This beautiful dome bowl and lid is made from bone and was found in a market place in India.

A hand made rug from Morocco.

A hand made rug from Morocco.

This antique Chinese cabinet stands 1.5 metres tall and shines as the light reflects against the gorgeous green lacquer.

This antique Chinese cabinet stands 1.5 metres tall and shines as the light reflects against the gorgeous green lacquer.

Standing monks from Ubud.

Standing monks from Ubud.

One of two Antique Chinese chairs in black stained teak.

One of two Antique Chinese chairs in black stained teak.

I fell in love with this stunning box from India.

I fell in love with this stunning box from India.

Built in 1880, this Welsh farm house table is as beautiful to touch as it is to look at. If only this table could talk. Can you imagine the conversations and laughter this table has known over the past 130 years? And in the home of Cindy and Ron, there’ll be much more to come!

Enjoy your creative life, Jules

From Paris With Love!

Walking around Paris is a non stop visual delight. Here’s what caught my eye this week when I was out and about.


Double doors line most streets, hiding beautiful courtyards that lead to homes and businesses.


Fresh fruit is everywhere.


Just one of the many colourful doors in Paris.


A tiny shop selling vintage linen and homewares.


Tucked away down the back of a courtyard, this shop was filled with contemporary designer labels.


I love the array of colourful doors in this city.


Gorgeous pens, inks, paper and wax seals.


Off to dinner at, Le Grand Colbert, a classic French bistro in the centre of Paris.


This place is about as French as it gets and a great way to finish off a trip to Paris.

Enjoy your creative life, Jules

What I Wear On A Plane


I’m off on a little jaunt soon and wanted to find new carry on luggage and ultra comfortable gear for those long-haul flights. Here’s what I went looking for.

  • A couple of pairs of pants, one light & one dark

  • Long sleeve T-shirts

  • A couple of hoodies with centre front zippers. Easier to take off rather than pulling something over your head and elbowing the guy next to you.

  • A slip on shoe, great for all day walking

  • A large cross body bag

  • A pull along case

Everything had to mix and match so I could create at least 6 different outfits for traveling and lounging around in. Here’s what I found.


Straight leg pants from Zara with side pockets.


Long sleeve cotton and elastane T-shirts from H&M and Black Skechers shoes.


Hoodies from H&M in two different style. The fabric is an elastane/cotton combination so they’ll keep their shape. These were a great find at around $30 each.


I came across this large ultra light micro-fibre bag on the luggage stand at my local boot-maker. It can be carried or worn cross body. Perfect for holding my headphones, laptop, notebook, water bottle, lip balm, moisturiser and chocolate for the movies! The pull along case was an unexpected find at one of those ‘Hot Dollar’ discount stores. I love it because it’s strong yet unbelievably light weigh and has zip-up compartments inside.


All ready to go! Co-ordinated and comfortable.


A few more 3 piece combinations.


I love to travel in black but will change into the cream pants and a fresh top as soon as I reach my destination.


And for me, a scarf on the plane is essential. Why does the air conditioning have to be soooo cold? I can’t wait to share with you my adventure in next weeks post.

Enjoy your creative life, Jules

She Wears The Pants!

Spring had sprung here in Sydney so it’s time for a splash of colour. Pants in a floral print, stripped, repeated pattern, decorative swirls or checks have a way of shouting “FUN!”.

Add a t-shirt, an oversized man’s shirt or neutral toned top and away you go. You can also add a jacket for an air of formality. Here are some of my favourite go to looks from my wardrobe.


Three quarter pants from Zara.


Full length pants in a blue and white stripes from Witchery.


Three quarter kick-out pants from Veronika Maine.


Classic straight leg stripes from Zara.


Vintage wide-leg palazzo pants.


High waisted floral pattern repeat pants from Zara.


Finally, three quarter straight leg stretch pants from Zara. And when you’re wearing pants, changing your heel height can transform your look from causal to dressy.

Enjoy your creative life, Jules

Easy Chicken & Vegetable Pie

I've been asked for this recipe so many times that I thought I'd share it with you. Leave out the chicken if you'd prefer - works just as well. What makes this recipe so delicious is the crunchy pastry top, but no heavy pasty base.


There are 4 parts to this pie - a variety of vegetables, 1kg of chicken thighs chopped, white sauce and a pastry top.


Chop a large sweet potato into 2 cm cubes and microwave for about 5 minutes until soft. Chop and saute - 2 onions, 2 carrots, celery, capsicum, a red chilli and 2 cloves of garlic. Add broccoli. peas and corn. Drain the sweet potato, add in with the other vegetables and allow to cook on a low heat. Add salt and pepper and some fresh rosemary.


Stir in the chicken pieces and allow to cook while you make the white sauce. Add 100gm of butter to a pan, melt and add 1/2 a cup of plain flour. Allow butter and flour to bubble and thicken then add 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Keep stirring over a medium heat until you have a creamy firm white sauce. Add a little more milk and chicken stock if it's too thick. Add the white sauce to the chicken and vegetables, mix well and cook for 10 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked.


Pour your chicken, vegetable and white sauce mixture in to a dish and place one sheet of puff pastry on top. Stab pastry with a sharp knife and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes on 200 celsius.


All that's needed to compliment this pie is a leafy green salad. 

Enjoy your creative life, Jules

Creating Space For Shoes!

You can never have enough space in your wardrobe and our shoes can take up more than their fair share.

With the help of a nifty little product called the Shoe Holder, I've finally got around to recalibrating how I store my shoes. I brought packs of 6 from Howard's Storage World, but I've seen them advertised online at various places.


This little device is easy to assemble and can be adjusted to accomodate the heal height.


I've literally doubled the number of shoes I can hold on my shelves. Hmmm....which mean there's room for a few more pairs. What a cheery thought!

Enjoy your creative life, Jules