This product talk is brought to you by Circa Homes and Nuffnang.
Gratitude. It is an often forgotten aspect of our lives, and yet, we have so much to be grateful for. There is so much in my life that I take for granted, but so much of it is not available to many around the world.

I am grateful that I have a healthy body. I am able to walk, to run, to drive, and to move without restriction. I am grateful that I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food to eat whenever I am hungry. I am grateful that I have friends and family that I can depend on. I am grateful that I live in a country where we assume the right to freedom. I am grateful that I live in a country where gender is no barrier to what I can achieve. I am grateful for the simple human values that my parents have imparted to me, because without them, without the basic principles of love, truth, righteousness, non violence, peace and happiness, life would be meaningless.

I have so much to be grateful for and yet, I rarely take the time to acknowledge all that is good in my life. So I have decided to start a new ritual. I have started writing in a gratitude diary. Every night before bed, I am going to take a minute to write down one thing that I am grateful for that day. It might be something small like that fact that my new body wash makes me happy because it smells like rosewater, or it might be big like that fact that I am fortunate enough to be going to Mongolia in a few months to experience a new landscape and culture. Either way, both deserve to be equally acknowledged, for they both play a part in making my life happier.

Every day may not be good, but it is important to remember that there is something good in every day.

Circa Homes has brought out a limited edition Honeyflower and Sandalwood collection, just in time for Mothers’ Day. I am so grateful to have my mother in life, and I know I wouldn’t be a quarter of the person I am if it wasn’t for her. She has imparted her love of food to me, she has shared with me her fetish for clothes, she has helped me realise the importance of fulfilling my responsibilities, and most importantly she has showered me with unconditional love.

This Circa Homes candle that I am so grateful to have been gifted, is just as warm and inviting as a hug from my mum, and this Mothers’ Day, with my mum overseas, I will take any sign of my mum possible.

Circa Homes is also giving you the opportunity to win a limited edition Honeyflower and Sandalwood Collection pack, including candles, a fragrance diffuser, soy melts and an electric wax warmer. All the products have the comforting smell of honeyflower and sandalwood, and evoke so many feelings of gratitude. To enter, head to the Circa Homes competition page and see if you are lucky enough to win the pack, either for yourself, or perhaps your mum!

On Saturday, I rode for 12 km, ran for 5km at parkrun, and then walked for 3.5 km (and then back for 3.5km) to get burgers for dinner. Given all the exercise, the burgers, fries, milkshake and frozen custard (more on that later) were completely guilt free. People often ask me why I do crazy things like run 5 times a week. The answer is so I can eat ridiculous amounts of food. I’m not willing to eat any less, so the only option is to exercise more.

Melbourne is most definitely on a burger craze. Burger joints are popping up all over the place and competition is rife. This is a good thing if you are a burger lover like I am. A few months ago, Royal Stacks opened up its first branch in the CBD, and it wasn’t long before their second store opened up in Brunswick.

We got to Royal stacks at about 6:30pm on a Saturday evening. It was peak time for a restaurant, so it was no surprise that there was a line outside, and we were told that there would be a twenty minute wait for a table. We decided that waiting was not an issue, and before we realised it, we were called inside to sit at a communal table. For those that didn’t want to wait, there was a takeaway option, which was also doing a roaring trade.

When we got inside, there seemed to be lots of empty tables, so it seemed that they were a bit haphazard in getting people seated efficiently. There was also not table service, so you had to make sure you had someone at the table minding your spot whilst the second person was lining up at the counter placing the order. Not a big issue, unless your spot gets stolen, which was happening a fair bit.

The other half was responsible for the ordering, and he did good. He got the Double Stack for him, and the Queen Bee for me.

Royal Stacks only offers one form of protein for their burgers, beef, with the exception of the Queen Bee which is made with a home made chickpea patty. The Queen Bee also had the basic salads of lettuce and tomato, American cheddar, a special burger sauce which tasted suspiciously like it was based on tartare sauce and one of my favourite ingredients – pickles. I felt the bun was a little too sweet for my liking, I prefer a more bready bun, rather than the sweet brioche bun, but that’s just me. What I really enjoyed was the patty and the way the sauce complemented it, and of course I loved the pickles. Over all it was a good burger, but not amazing.

The other half had a similar opinion of his Double Stack. He commented that everything was done well, but there was no wow factor.

We also got some cheesy fries to share. These were actually my least favourite item. When I order chips, I want thickly cut chips that are crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. The Royal Stacks chips were French fries, McDonalds style, thin and with very little fluffiness. Being so thin, it also meant that they became limp very quickly. The cheese sauce was also nothing to write home about, almost replicating plastic cheese.

But from this part of the meal it was all uphill. First off, the salted caramel milkshake. YUM. The saltiness was perfectly balanced with the sweet caramel, and it was amazing. I don’t usually get drinks, but this milkshake was definitely worth it.

Then, as we were finishing off our meals, a waitress came and told us that they would like to offer us their signature frozen custard to try. I decided to try the pistachio flavour, and the other half went for another round of salted caramel. Both flavours were amazing. The salted caramel frozen custard was also the basis of our previous milkshake, so needless to say, it was perfect, but the pistachio flavour was also a winner. I struggled to tell the difference between frozen custard and ice cream, but regardless, it was smooth and creamy and a great way to end the meal.

Royal Stacks has definitely made a big impact in Melbourne after being open for a short time and the long lines outside the premises are testament to this. Was I impressed? I wasn’t so impressed with the burgers, but I will definitely be back for some more frozen custard, that’s what it was all about for me!

Royal Stacks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
I have a thing for good bread. Freshly baked loaves of warm, soft sourdough, with a crunchy crust, perhaps scattered with grains of some sort, and lathered with butter is one of my many weaknesses. Cheese is my other weakness, but let’s not start with that…

Rustica Sourdough has long been on my list to try. Social media has been full of people raving about not only their bread, but also their delicious breakfasts. Located on Brunswick St in Fitzroy, is the original Rustica branch, where we decided to indulge on Good Friday morning. We got there relatively early, as early as one should wake on a public holiday, and headed down there only to be faced with a queue. Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long, as long as we were happy to sit on a communal table. This was no issue for me, infact I quite like the communal table because it means I can perve on everyone else’s meals!

We started with the usual coffees, a latte and a flat white. It important to note that the other half’s flat white was served in a cup that had a handle large enough for his index finger to go through and get a firm grip. It’s the small things that make us happy.

Given that a long weekend was ahead of us, I decided to go for a healthy option of sautéed greens served with a poached egg on sourdough. The other half went on a completely different tangent and ordered the cheesy, béchamel filled goodness of a croque monsieur.

As per the description, my meal really did come with lots of greens. There was brocollini, beans, snow peas and sliced avocado,  all served with some grilled haloumi, almonds, and some salsa verde to tie it all together. It was presented with a poached egg, and sat on top of a thick slice of Rustica sourdough. This meal definitely worked. All the flavours blended well together, although, the cheese lover in me would have loved a little more haloumi. The bread was most definitely a highlight, and I was very satisfied with my meal.

The other half was equally impressed with his meal. Of course the bread was a standout, the croque monsieur was served on a pumpkin brioche which was rather unusual, but very much appreciated. It came with ham hock, gruyere cheese, seeded mustard béchamel and pickles on the side. It was also a winner.

Our breakfast that morning was a successful one, and we left very full and content customers. Rustica also have another couple of branches in the CBD and Richmond, infact I have a girls’ breakfast planned for the CBD outlet, so I hope it will live up to my expectations again!
Rustica Sourdough Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
These In My Kitchen posts really highlight to me how much time flies. It feels like only yesterday I was writing the March post. Now it’s April, and we’re a third of the way through the year!

Eggplant is still very much in season, and as one of my favourite vegetables, I always try and pick some up from the market. This time, I used it to make a potato and eggplant curry. The picture doesn’t really do it justice, as curries generally are not very photogenic, but it was delicious. The recipe was taken from Vegan Richa’s blog. She always has some great things to try out in the kitchen.

I’ve become a bit of a T2 addict. Whilst I still maintain that the products are quite pricey, I can’t deny that they taste amazing. I’m a big fan of their mixed packs, because it means you can taste a variety of teas without committing to any one flavour. I picked up a box of their Choc pack, which contains delicious teas like choc chip chai, and crème brulee. So delicious, and perfect on a winter night with a choc chip cookie!

I was also given a Bessemer crepe pan from the Margaret Fulton range. I’ve never made crepes, so I guess now would be a good time to try! I was also thinking that I could use the pan to make dosas, the Indian rice flour pancake, which I always struggle to make because they stick in the pan and I can’t flip them! The man has a convex surface, so that you dip the whole pan into the batter to coat the surface and cook it on top of the gas flame.

I’ve been babysitting my parents’ garden, which means I also get to benefit from everything that grows in it! My dad has a bit of a green thumb, and I can remember growing up, that our kitchen was always full of home grown veggies. I never really appreciated this as a kid, but now that I am older, I can realise how lucky I was, and how much of a difference fresh produce makes to the taste of a dish. The garden currently has a flourishing bottle gourd plant. Called bottle gourd in English, lau in Bengali or lauki in Hindi, this is a vegetable that is very popular in India and other Asian countries. A member of the gourd family (duh!), it has a texture similar to that of a marrow, but has a slightly sweeter taste. It can be used in curries, in dhal, or a variety of other dishes. I have been eating a lot of bottle gourd this past month, as well as giving plenty away to friends!

This post is part of the In My Kitchen series hosted my Maureen from the Orgasmic Chef. Head over to her blog to see what is going on in other people's kitchens!
This month I’ve decided to change things up, and instead of doing the usual Taking Stock questions, I’m participating in Tara’s (from Vegetaraian) link up and posting my favourite finds for the month.

First up are the Thankyou products. These have been on sale for a few years, but I had never actually bought them. They are slightly more expensive than similar products of their sort, but the benefit they provide to society makes them worth the extra cost. I got the hand wash and also the body wash (not pictured) both of which use part of the revenue to fund sanitary projects in third world countries. The bottles come with a label, with a tracking number which you can enter into the Thankyou website, to see exactly which project you helped contribute to. And whilst the toiletries don’t have the cruelty free symbol on them, this is only because they have not paid for the certification to officially deem themselves cruelty free.

I was also lucky enough to win tickets to the Peninsula Picnic held earlier in the month. As the name suggests, the event is held in the Mornington Peninsula, at the Mornington Racecourse. It endeavours to showcase all that the peninsula has to offer in terms of food and produce, in a relaxed atmosphere. Whilst the event was sold out, it wasn’t too crowded, and everybody had a spot to put their picnic rug down, enjoy some food and a glass of wine, with the music of the likes of Timberwolf or Missy Higgins in the background. As an annual event, it’s one to put in the calendar for next year.

It had been a while between Ottolenghi recipes for me. I dusted off my copy of Plenty More and found this gorgeous pumpkin dish to make. It was very simple, and as with all Ottolenghi creation, full of flavour. Spiced with nigella seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and ginger, it was delicious when I paired it with lemon rice.

We closed off the month with a beautiful meal at Franco Choo’s. Franco Choo’s is one of our favourite restaurants, and I’ve blogged about it previously so it’s not a new find, but what I did find was a post-Easter 20% off special that they had advertised on their Facebook page! In a matter of minutes we had a dinner organised for the next day, with some great company! And as always, the food at Franco Choo’s didn’t disappoint. I’m so surprised that this restaurant hasn’t received as much attention as its Italian cousins like Tipo 00, or Rosa’s Canteen, but perhaps that’s a good thing because it means we can usually get a booking fairly easily!

Have you had any great finds this month? Let me know below, I'd love to hear about them!
Northern Soul is a little café on High St in Thornbury. It is slightly removed from the hustle and bustle of the Northcote end, but still close enough to be in walking distance. We had initially planned to have breakfast at Brother Alec, but as we walked past, we realised how busy it was and given that we weren’t prepared to wait for a table, we kept walking on to Northern Soul.

When we initially walked in, the café was completely empty, which made me a little apprehensive. An empty café is not usually a good sign. It’s a bit of a conundrum for me actually, I don’t like it busy because I don’t like to wait for a table, but I don’t like it quiet because it makes me question the food! I really can’t win!

Anyway, I had nothing to worry about really, because we didn’t even sit inside, instead we walked through the café, into a lovely garden area at the back. It was filled with lots of Buddhist symbols, greenery, and even a section at the back that had chalk and blackboard for children to occupy themselves, whilst their parents relaxed with a coffee. So thoughtful.

We quickly ordered some coffees, supplied by Toby’s Estate, and set about making our choices from the menu.

The menu has a mild Nepalese and Tibetan influence and in keeping with the theme, the other half decided to branch out from his usual breakfast choices and ordered the morning momos served with smoked salmon, poached eggs and dill yogurt. Momos are a Nepalese or Tibetan version of a dumpling, and these morning momos were filled with spinach and cheese. I’m not sure what makes spinach and cheese a morning food, but there is also a potato momo on the menu too. The verdict was that this meal was very… ‘different.’ Not necessarily a bad kind of different, but just not what one would expect for breakfast. I guess it depends on your taste though, one of my favourite breakfasts is eating leftover rice and curry from the night before!

I chose to order the zucchini hot cakes served with mixed greens, tomato relish and coconut yogurt. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed. The hotcakes were quite heavy and stodgy. I think I would have preferred them as fritters and deep fried. The mixed greens had an awful dressing on it, which made it inedible for me. The tomato relish, however, was quite nice, and the coconut yogurt was lovely. I had never tasted coconut yogurt before, but I am now a fan. It also provided a lovely creamy contrast to the dense hotcake which was much appreciated.

Whilst I really wanted to like Northern Soul, unfortunately the food just didn’t win me over. The ambience was lovely, the service was great, but both our meals were below par.

Northern Soul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
This product talk is brought to you by Vinomofo and Nuffnang.

Vinomofo are one of Australia's leading online wine stores. They work directly with the best wine producers in the world to find the wines they love, and curate them to the customers' tastes. If the wine doesn't pass the rigorous testing of the tasting team, then Vinomofo doesn't sell the wine. Not a bad quality control strategy.

If the wine does pass, Vinomofo buy a designated amount of stock, making every wine a limited edition. Often the wines sell out, and if that happens, you can't get any more! Vinomofo also have some great secret deals. Because the wines are so awesome, and the prices so unbelievable, the only way they can get their hands on them is to keep the identity of the wine and the producer a secret. It makes the whole concept even more exciting!

I was lucky enough to receive a couple of bottles of Vinomofo wine to try. Vinomofo have some very creative and often cheeky labels, as you can see!

The Orgy, was a grenache blend from McLaren Vale, quite lightweight and short on the palate. I'm not a big GSM fan, so this wasn't my favourite, but don't let that put you off.

The Art of War (Sun Tzu would be impressed that his work was being credited to such a worthy venture!) was a Shiraz from the Barossa Valley. This was a lovely easy drinking red, very pleasant on the palate. It definitely worked well on a lazy Saturday afternoon!

Vinomofo know that often different people have different tastes when it comes to wine, and so they offer a 365 day return policy with a full refund, credit or replacement. Goes to show how confident they are in their wines!

To peruse the Vinomofo wine collection, and perhaps get some wine delivered to your doorstep, visit the Vinomofo website.

And incase you're wondering, yes, Vinomofo does mean Wine, Motherf*cker. Cheeky.

Disclaimer: I received these products courtesy of Nuffnang and Vinomofo , however I was not paid for this post and all opinions are my own.