Category Archives: Top Tips

Collection of our best tips and tricks

Festive Food…part one

With roughly a little over six weeks to go, the festive season is nearly here. In fact, invitations to parties, BBQs and drinks have already begun. If you happen to be hosting friends and family this year it can often be daunting. Luckily there are a ton of entertaining options; you can keep it casual with a BBQ where everyone brings a dish to share, go all out with a formal sit down dinner or opt for nibbles and ramp up the drinks instead. Tasting tables have been growing in popularity too, these are the ultimate grazing tables for the platter lovers and super easy to pull together.

We have had a little poke around the internet and found six inspiring books that are bound to give you ideas for nibbles and tasty beverages for your guests. 

Pull up a chair, and prepare to get into the festive spirit with these great titles… oh and they make great gifts for those who like to host too… just saying!

Platters and Boards by Shelly Westerhausen

Santa’s little helpers bought me this book last Christmas and I love it. This book has been described as a visual cornucopia of a cookbook with a guide to entertaining with effortless style. Celebrated author and food blogger Shelly Westerhausen shares the secrets to creating casually chic spreads anyone can make and everyone will enjoy (and envy). Organised by time of day, 40 contemporary arrangements are presented with gorgeous photography, easy-to-prepare recipes, suggested meat and drink pairings, and notes on preparation and presentation. Helpful advice includes tips on portioning, picking surfaces and vessels, pairing complementary textures and flavours, plus a handy chart featuring board suggestions for a variety of occasions (from holiday parties to baby showers). Platters and Boards is an inspiring housewarming or hostess gift and resource for throwing unforgettable get-togethers.

Tapas by Ryland, Peters & Small

Bring an authentic taste of Spain to your table with this collection of more than 60 mouth-watering recipes for small plates to share. Traditionally served as a bar snack with a glass of sherry or a cold beer, tapas has become a firm favourite thanks to its wide variety and versatility. Whether you are serving a starter before a meal, enjoying some small bites with drinks, or going all out and filling the table with multiple dishes to feast on, there is no bad time to indulge in these flavour-filled dishes. This book includes all the classics from the perennially popular Patatas Bravas and Spanish Omelette to Chorizo in Red Wine and Peppers Stuffed with Salt Cod. Many of these dishes can be made in advance for ease, so you too can enjoy time with your friends – Buen Provecho!

Vegetarian Party Food by Jessica Oldfield

Vegetarian Party Food is a thoughtful collection of vegetarian and vegan bites perfect for any get-together. Mix and match the recipes to create the ultimate spread for gatherings and dinner parties. The book is divided into condiments, dips, vegetarian, and vegan chapters – including everything from easy no-cook bites like Turmeric and Lime Hummus and Peach Salsa and Cheese Crostini to more complex ones like Indian Cauliflower Bhajis and Hasselback Baby Beetroots with Feta. Put together the ultimate party spread and impress guests with Baked Black Sesame Camembert or Mini Vegetarian Gyros. With quick and easy make-ahead recipes you can have on hand for impromptu gatherings and versatile condiments you can make it batches and use for various dishes, this collection will help you become best host you can be.

Flour and Stone by Nadine Ingram

Flour and Stone is a petite bakery in inner-city Sydney with a large and devoted following for its pannacotta lamingtons, flaky croissants, chewy cookies, dreamy cakes and delectable pastries of every kind. Nadine Ingram and her dedicated team bake with finesse and love to bring pleasure to the city. In this book Nadine shares her signature recipes, all carefully explained and rigorously tested for the home kitchen. Family, in every sense, is at the heart of Flour and Stone – this recipe collection is given in the hope that you will nurture your own loved ones with the timeless, comforting art of baking. These are the treats you’ll want to eat for the rest of your life.

Last Call by Brad Thomas Parsons

From the James Beard Award-winning author of Amaro and Bitters comes this poignant, funny, and often elegiac exploration of the question, What is the last thing you’d want to drink before you die?, with bartender profiles, portraits, and cocktail recipes. Everyone knows the parlour game question asked of every chef and food personality in countless interviews – What is the last meal you’d want to eat before you die? But what does it look like when you pose the question to bartenders? In Last Call, James Beard Award-winning author Brad Thomas Parsons gathers the intriguing responses from a diverse range of bartenders around the country, including Guido Martelli at the Palizzi Social Club in Philadelphia (he chooses an extra-dry Martini), Joseph Stinchcomb at Saint Leo in Oxford, Mississippi (he picks the Last Word, a pre-Prohibition-era cocktail that’s now a cult favourite), and Natasha David at Nitecap in New York City (she would be sipping an extra-salty Margarita). The resulting interviews and essays reveal a personal portrait of some of the country’s top bartenders and their favourite drinks, while dozens of cocktail recipes and stunning photography make this a keepsake for barflies and cocktail enthusiasts of all stripes.

Wine for Normal People by Elizabeth Schneider

This is a fun but respectful (and very comprehensive) guide to everything you ever wanted to know about wine from the creator and host of the popular podcast Wine for Normal People, described by Imbibe magazine as “a wine podcast for the people.”

Millions of listeners have tuned in to learn a not-snobby wine vocabulary, how and where to buy wine, how to read a wine label, how to smell, swirl, and taste wine, and so much more! Rich with charts, maps, and lists-and the author’s deep knowledge and unpretentious delivery-this vividly illustrated, down-to-earth handbook is a must-have resource for millennials starting to buy, boomers who suddenly have the time and money to hone their appreciation, and anyone seeking a relatable introduction to the world of wine.

Enjoy!

In praise of slowness

Journalist Carl Honore believes the Western world’s emphasis on speed erodes health, productivity and quality of life. But there’s a backlash brewing, as everyday people start putting the brakes on their all-too-modern lives. Take some time for yourself and enjoy this Ted Talk.

Christmas is coming… and we’re here to help you get ahead of the silly season

With the 25th December inching closer (there’s only 8 weeks until Christmas), it can be hard to remember everything on your to do list so we thought we’d share the most anticipated books that are expected to make a huge splash under the Christmas tree this year. 

Earlier this year Dan added a brand new feature to Booko helping you to search books that are on pre order and boy has it been popular (just like the newest feature to buy LEGO via Booko). On the front page of Booko you can click the Pre Order section to see what’s coming, click through on one of the titles and you’ll be taken to the stores selling pre orders. So if you are thinking it is time to check a few presents off the shopping list (and avoid the dreaded shipping costs) then have a look at these beauties below. 

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

From the New York Times bestselling author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last, comes a bold new framework for leadership in today’s ever-changing world.

How do we win a game that has no end? Finite games, like football or chess, have known players, fixed rules and a clear endpoint. The winners and losers are easily identified. Infinite games, games with no finish line, like business or politics, or life itself, have players who come and go. The rules of an infinite game are changeable while infinite games have no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers, only ahead and behind. The question is, how do we play to succeed in the game we’re in?

In his new book, Simon Sinek offers a framework for leading with an infinite mindset. On one hand, none of us can resist the fleeting thrills of a promotion earned or a tournament won, yet these rewards fade quickly. In pursuit of a Just Cause, we will commit to a vision of a future world so appealing that we will build it week after week, month after month, year after year. Although we do not know the exact form this world will take, working toward it gives our work and our life meaning. Sinek’s message is leaders who embrace an infinite mindset build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organisations. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead us into the future.

The Body by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson, bestselling author of A Short History of Nearly Everything, takes us on a head-to-toe tour of the marvel that is the human body. As addictive as it is comprehensive, this is Bryson at his very best, a must-read owner’s manual for everybody. Bill Bryson once again proves himself to be an incomparable companion as he guides us through the human body, how it functions, its remarkable ability to heal itself, and (unfortunately) the ways it can fail. Full of extraordinary facts (your body made a million red blood cells since you started reading this) and irresistible Bryson-esque anecdotes, The Body will lead you to a deeper understanding of the miracle that is life in general and you in particular. As Bill Bryson writes, “We pass our existence within this wobble of flesh and yet take it almost entirely for granted.” The Body will cure that indifference with generous doses of wondrous, compulsively readable facts and information.

Dear Girls by Ali Wong

In her hit Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra, an eight-month pregnant Ali Wong resonated so strongly that she even became a popular Halloween costume. Wong told the world her remarkably unfiltered thoughts on marriage, sex, Asian culture, working women, and why you never see new mum comics on stage but you sure see plenty of new dads. The sharp insights and humour are even more personal in this completely original collection. She shares the wisdom she’s learned from a life in comedy and reveals stories from her life offstage, including the brutal single life in New York (i.e. the inevitable confrontation with erectile dysfunction), reconnecting with her roots (and drinking snake blood) in Vietnam, tales of being a wild child growing up in San Francisco, and parenting war stories. Though addressed to her daughters, Ali Wong’s letters are absurdly funny, surprisingly moving, and enlightening (and gross) for all.

Cookie Perfection by Martha Stewart

Prepare yourself for some showstopper cookies from Martha Stewart to take your cookies to the next level in flavour, technique, and decorative appeal. The editors of Martha Stewart Living present a new, fun source for anyone looking to make their go-to cookies even better and bolder. These recipes make ordinary cookies absolutely extraordinary, packed with the familiar favourites you love, but taken up a notch in variety, flavour, and creativity. Classic recipes discover new life with unexpected twists such as Lemony Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies and Carrot Cake Thumbprint Cookies. Go over-the-top in super-sized fashion with Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies; get inspired by cultures around the globe with Brazilian Wedding Cookies and Stroopwaffels; and celebrate with beautifully decorated holiday treats, such as Easter Egg Puzzle Cookies and Snowball Truffles. Whether for a special celebration or a sweet anytime-treat, you’ll be sure to find inspiration to trade in your everyday cookies for versions far more special, and especially delicious.

You Suck at Cooking by You Suck at Cooking

Do you crave food all the time? Do you think you might want to eat again in the future? Do you suck at cooking? Inspired by the wildly popular YouTube channel, these 60+ recipes will help you suck slightly less. You already know the creator of the YouTube show You Suck at Cooking by his well-manicured hands and mysterious voice, and now you’ll know him for this equally well-manicured and mysterious tome. It contains more than sixty recipes for beginner cooks and noobs alike, in addition to hundreds of paragraphs and sentences, as well as photos and drawings. You’ll learn to cook with unintimidating ingredients in dishes like Broccoli Cheddar Quiche Cupcake Muffin-Type Things, Eddie’s Roasted Red Pepper Dip (while also learning all about Eddie’s sad, sad life), Jalapeño Chicken, and also other stuff. In addition, there are cooking tips that can be applied not only to the very recipes in this book, but also to recipes outside of this book, and to all other areas of your life (with mixed results).

In the end, you just might suck slightly less at cooking.*

*Results not guaranteed

Bluey: Fruit Bat based on the hit ABC KIDS TV show

We’re tipping all books containing this little Blue Healer and her sister will be a popular choice under the Christmas tree this year. Bluey has been a phenomenal success since airing on ABC KIDS in October last year. Bluey has gained legions of dedicated fans and taken the coveted position of being the most watched program ever on ABC iView, with over 100 million plays. It has also topped the Australian iTunes Kids Chart with the series peaking at #1 and consistently remaining in the Top 5.

In Fruit Bat, Bluey wishes she was a nocturnal fruit bat that stays up all night and soon she finds herself flying through the night sky. This is a fun and imaginative tale that anyone avoiding bedtime can relate to. 

Enjoy!

#tuesdaychat

There are so many books coming out later this year that we know will make a fab Christmas present. On the blog this Thursday we’ll share our favs with you…which book are you hoping to see under the tree this year?

Monday Inspo

Sorry for the Christmas creep people but the festive season in not far away. We know that planning ahead helps you feel in control but can also reduce any pressure this time of year seems to create. So this week on the blog we’re going to help you get ahead of the silly season.

What reading slowly taught me about writing

Reading slowly with her finger running beneath the words has led Jacqueline Woodson to a life of writing books to be savoured. In a lyrical talk, she invites us to slow down and appreciate stories that take us places we never thought we’d go and introduce us to people we never thought we’d meet.

The clever way to buy Lego with Booko

We are mid way through the school holidays here in Melbourne and we thought it was the perfect time to let you in on a pretty cool secret. You can buy Lego through Booko. Oh yes, you read that right. Booko is now the clever way to buy Lego online!

What’s super exciting is that our handy alert function (where you get to set the price you want to pay for a book or DVD) also works with Lego! So if you’ve been eyeing up a Lego version of James Bond’s Aston Martin or Harry Potter’s Hogwarts set or something else special for Christmas for an ultimate Lego collector, you can now log in, set a price for the bricks you’re looking to buy and sit back while Booko hunts for the best price for you. 

Here’s a little guide to help you along with six of the most inspiring Lego books for budding brick master builders. 

Start by typing in the name of the Lego set you are looking for.
When the search appears, either click through to your store of choice to buy, or…
…click on ‘Add an Alert’ and a drop down box will appear. Pop in the price you’d be happy to pay and select if you are wanting a new or used Lego set. Then enter in your email address so we can let you know when your price has been found.

Lego Ideas by Daniel Lipkowitz

You have what it takes! Did you ever wonder what you can do with all of those Lego bricks after you have created the project they came with? Now with The Lego Ideas Book, you can take what you already have and make something new. This book is divided into six themed chapters; transportation, buildings, space, kingdoms, adventure, and useful makes, each with basic templates of key models and spreads to inspire you to create your own. Hints and tips from Master Builders can help you turn your classic car into a race car or add a bridge to your castle.

Don’t be concerned if you haven’t got all the bricks you need: this book also shows how to simplify details, making this a great user-friendly guide for any building ability. Featuring all-new Lego building projects, tips to supplement and enhance your Lego creations, inspirational builds, and expert advice from Lego Master Builders. The Lego Ideas Book will keep kids of all ages creating for hours.

Awesome Lego Creations With Bricks You Already Have by Sarah Dees

This book creates hours of fun, new worlds and new toys from the collection of Lego kids already have. Each project includes a parts list so you can verify that you have all the pieces and even buy supplemental pieces if you want, but most projects avoid specialty pieces and feature ones likely to be in most people’s collections. The book engages kids with fun, kid-friendly language and cool facts about the things they are making. Like other popular Lego idea books, this book is packed with characters and life-like scenes, but takes the next step with detailed step-by-step instruction photos to help you build more complex animals, robots, vehicles and buildings. The book features full-size photos of life-like scenes that are simple enough for children to build on their own. Also included are a few no-instruction challenges where kids can create a unique toy using only the photo as inspiration. This family-friendly book is sure to spark the imagination for everyone.

365 Things to Do With Lego by DK (Dorling Kindersley)

365 Things to do with LEGO Bricks inspires you to look at your Lego bricks in new and exciting ways and enjoy Lego fun every day of the year. Featuring imaginative play and building ideas, from Lego games that take just a few minutes and require a handful of bricks, to inspirational build ideas and activities to keep you occupied for hours. 365 Things to do with Lego Bricks is packed with fun and quirky activities, such as: build your own Lego pet; challenge your friends to make the tallest Lego tower against the clock; and learn how to make a stop-motion Lego movie. 365 Things to do with Lego Bricks includes a countdown timer and activity selector, allowing you to choose an activity at random, to time your activities and to race against the clock.

The Lego Neighbourhood by Brian Lyles and Jason Lyles

In The Lego Neighbourhood Book, you’ll create buildings with real world details like cornices and facades, and try your hand at interior design by filling your buildings with furniture and light fixtures. Then add the finishing touches to your models with plants, traffic lights, scaffolding, and park benches. Snap together a few houses, shops, and apartment buildings to create your own neighbourhood! Inside you’ll find step-by-step instructions for four multi-storey buildings, dozens of inspiring ideas to use in your own models, mini builds for a recliner, old-time lamp post, traffic lights, and more. 

The Lego Animation Book by David Pagano and David Pickett

Have you ever wondered what your toys would look like on the big screen? In The Lego Animation Book you’ll learn how to bring your creations to life with the art of stop-motion animation. Before you know it, you’ll be making your mini figures walk, talk, jump, and fly. Inside you’ll find step-by-step guides for making your first animation, techniques for creating special effects like explosions and flying mini figures, acting methods for your mini figures and the secret formula for bringing inanimate objects to life The book also offers advice for dealing with practical problems like lighting, framing, and capturing consistent photos. Along with building ideas for Lego-based camera dollies and rigs there are instructions and inspiration on the filming process, from storyboarding to post-production, recommendations for cameras, software, and other essential animation tools This book will help you dive into the world of animation and discover a whole new way to play!

Lego Minifigure: Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle by Gregory Farshtey and Daniel Lipkowitz

One of the most iconic toys happens to have the cutest little people – the Lego Mini Figure. This book features more than 2,000 of the most significant, popular, and rare mini-figures, this engaging reference guide explores mini-figures chronologically by theme. Fans will learn little-known facts about their favourite mini-figures in this first-ever publishing of the evolution of the famous Lego mini-figure. This visual history shows the evolution of this classic toy for the first time ever, with exquisite photography and fascinating facts about each and every mini-figure included. 

Enjoy!

Play is more than just fun

A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humour, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age. This Ted Talk is an oldie but a goodie and watching it will make you want to play a little more.