Adjustments

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It’s mid February, and I’m still feeling like I haven’t got the hang of 2014.  It took me until Easter last year before I felt like I had the family in some kind of rhythm.  The rest of the year disappeared just as quickly.  It felt like I turned around and half the year had gone and there I was, still thinking it was March.

There have been some big changes in the Tiddlypip household this year, with Master 5 heading off to school for the first time with his older siblings.  That means for the first time in 12 years, I’m at home. Alone.  Going to the toilet all by myself, no visitors wandering in to ask a question, or just see where I’m hiding.  Drinking a cup of tea and not only finishing it, but finishing it while it’s still hot.  Little things, but oh, such big things!

So I’m adjusting just as much as the kids.  A new stage in the parenting caper.  It’s scary as I’m really not sure what that involves for me.  I left paid work when Master 11 was 2.  I’ve been so lucky to have had the chance to spend that time with the kids.  But now, they’re growing up and it’s a whole new ball game for us all.  Fortunately, I’m in the position of having a bit of time before I have to jump back into the paid work force.  Which is just as well as I’m still not sure where my days go.  I do know that I drop kids off, run some errands and if I’m good, get in a quick gym session, and then it’s suddenly time to go and pick them up.  And then the taxi service, that is after school activities begins.

I also know I have high hopes for this year.  This is the only year that all 3 kids will be at the same school, 1 pick up, 1 drop off.  I’m so excited! I have a list of projects as long as my arm that I want to complete, recipes to cook, changes around the house I want to make, and a neglected veggie patch that needs some attention.  So many things, so little time!

Now I just need to work out how to fit it all in…..

Has there been big adjustments in your life this year?  How are you handling it?  Are you feeling like it’s 2014 or are you still stuck back in 2013?

See ya!

 

Taking Stock Feb 2014

What have you been up to lately?  I am doing a blogging course!  It’s been lots of fun.  I’m learning heaps and that has been great (although perhaps my brain has exploded a few times on the technical stuff!).

The course is run by the lovely Pip Lincolne from Meet me at Mikes.  She is a fabulous teacher and although we’re only in week 2, I can’t recommend this course highly enough to anyone who may be interested in learning more about blogging.  Seriously, when I started the course, I had no idea on all the bits and pieces that make up a good blog and how to make it all work.  You can find out all the info here (look…do you see that…it’s a link!  That’s the type of cool stuff you learn!!)

Anyhoo, as part of the course there are also assignments.  You don’t have to do them, but I think it’s a good idea.  The more you practice, the better you get at it I reckon.  So, this week’s assignment was to play along with Pip’s Taking Stock post.  Now I did this last month and it was really helpful in reminding me that I was actually doing things…not just paddling fast and getting nowhere.

So, this is where I’m at.

Making :  A new blogging page
Cooking : Jamie’s Peperonata Sauce
Drinking : Water
Reading: My course notes
Wanting: More hours in the day
Looking: At the red sun in the sky
Playing: Snakes and Ladders with Master 5
Deciding: What template should I use for the blog?
Wishing: That I had 15 mins to sit with a cuppa and a magazine
Enjoying: The winter olympics
Waiting: For the smoke to clear in Melbourne
Liking: Home made sorbet
Wondering: If I’ll ever get the hang of the technical bits of this blogging caper??
Loving: Being taught by Pip Lincolne!
Pondering: What sort of content should make up my blog?
Considering: Whether to use a Canva design I created for my logo?
Watching: Grand Designs Australia
Hoping: That I finally get the hang of plugins and all the other techy stuff
Marvelling: At the other students in my class.  They’re an ace bunch!
Needing: To get a little more consistent at the gym!
Smelling: The smoke from the bushfires
Wearing: T-shirts & shorts/skirts
Following: All my new classmate’s on their new blogs
Noticing: How exhausting it is when you’re learning new things
Knowing: I need to get some more sleep!
Thinking: About new blog posts
Feeling: Proud of what I’ve achieved so far…but a little daunted at what I still haven’t got a handle on!
Admiring: How much enthusiasm my classmates have
Sorting: Washing…it never ends!
Buying: Food. Spend my life at the fruit & veg shop and Woolies
Getting: Better at adjusting to life with kids at school
Bookmarking: Sooo many new blogs (created by my classmates!) to follow
Disliking:  Tired eyes from spending to long in front of the computer
Opening:  Bills…hello school fees!
Giggling:  At the almost 1 year old puppy who watches me through the kitchen window to make sure what I’m preparing for the next meal is looking ok!
Snacking:  On grapes
Coveting:  A new camera
Wishing:  The cleaning fairy visited here  more often
Helping: Master 5 adjust to school
Hearing:  Silence.  Been so long since it’s just been me at home!

Whew!  Well, life is never boring!  Thanks Pip for the assignment…..I hope I passed 🙂

You can have a go as well if you’d like.  Just copy and paste the headings from here.

Have fun!

Jamie’s Peperonata Sauce

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In our house, Wednesday night is usually pasta night.  It began years ago when Master 5 was a baby and his older brother needed to be picked up from cricket training at 6pm.  As cricket training always went over time, I needed a quick and easy meal for the then toddler to eat in the car while we were waiting.  Master 5 has only ever eaten his pasta plain (no cheese, no sauce, no nothing), so pasta was an easy (and safe) meal to take.  It also meant that with a pot of sauce made, and being kept warm, it was a quick meal to throw together for the rest of the family once  we eventually made it home from training.

Save with Jamie was still on the bench, so I flicked through his pasta sauce recipes and came across the Peperonata sauce.  Basic, not to spicy, tomato based and quick.  Winner!

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All you need to do is dice 2 red peppers.  Then sauté them for 15 minutes in a frying pan until they are soft.  Add 2 cloves of garlic, fry for 1 minute and then add 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar and 2 400g tins of tomatoes.  I deviated from Jamie’s recipe here and added just a teaspoon of sugar (yes I know it’s bad for you, but I think it make’s all the difference to the tomatoes…just takes out the bitterness).  Simmer until it has reduced a little and the sauce thickens.  It’ll take around 15 minutes (or the same time it take’s you to prepare your pasta!).

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Jamie suggests tossing the sauce through the pasta.  I chose just to spoon a bit through each child’s pasta so I could control how much sauce they each had.  A little cheese sprinkled over the top and it was good to go (the kids had tasty cheese, we had parmesan).

It was a really good, tasty sauce.  The kid’s enjoyed it, and so did we.  I had a little bit of sauce leftover, so instead of freezing it for another night, I used it instead of a tomato base on pizza with a bit of hot salami and mozzarella cheese a few nights later…yum!

Do you have a pasta night?  What’s your favourite pasta recipe?

See ya!

Chocolate Lamingtons

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It’s always a big decision to make on Australia Day…should we make pavlova or lamingtons?  Now I love a good pav, but you need a crowd to eat it and as it was only going to be the five of us…lamingtons it would be!

Now these aren’t your ordinary lamingtons.  The cake is soft and moist (and chocolate!) and the chocolate icing is a bit over the top…but so worth it!.  I came across this recipe a few years ago in The Age newspaper.  I’ve made it several times now and it works every time.

Double Chocolate Lamingtons (recipe by Dan Lepard)

300g castor sugar
50g cocoa
50g unsalted butter
50g dark chocolate
50ml sunflower oil
4 medium eggs
100ml low fat natural yoghurt
3tsp vanilla extract
175g pain flour
3 tsp baking powder

For the icing (makes 750 ml….if some is left over, it makes great choc sauce to pour over ice cream!)
15g cocoa
50ml cold milk
175ml boiling water
200g chocolate
450g icing sugar
1 -2 bags coconut

Line the base if a deep 20cm square pan with baking paper and preheat oven to 170 degrees (150 fan forced).
Put sugar and cocoa into a bowl and beat in the milk.
Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan, add to sugar mix along with the oil.
Beat in the eggs until smooth. Then stir in yoghurt and vanilla.
Mix in flour and baking powder.

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Pour into tin and cover with a slightly domed sheet of foil
Bake for 45 mins, remove foil and bake a further 15 mins
Remove from oven & cool in pan (when cake is warm cover with cling film)

For coating:
Mix the coca and milk until smooth, whisk in boiling water, then stir in chocolate (the smaller the chocolate is cut the quicker it melts).
Whisk in the icing sugar until dissolved and pour into a deep wide jug or bowl.
Cut the cake into 9 (now here is where I don’t follow the recipe….I cut mine into smaller pieces and usually end up with 25 lamingtons….otherwise they’re too big!)

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Dunk each piece in the coating (two forks are my tools of choice for this part)
Roll in the coconut.
I then place mine on a cake rack to set.

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This time I didn’t coat mine with the recipe coating as I’d run out of chocolate. Instead I just used icing sugar, cocoa and hot water to get it to the right consistency.

As you can see from the photo above, I don’t get to worried about making mine all look the same…if they’re got little extra bit’s jutting out because the batter has risen above the top of the pan, then I’m going to leave it on, not chop it off.  I like them to look homemade, and I don’t want to waste the cake!

I ate my lamington with a scoop of ice cream as dessert last night. What a good way to end the day!

Are you a pavlova or lamington fan?

Did you have a good Australia Day?  Did you cook something good?  What was it?

Jamie’s Mothership Roast Lamb

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I love a good meal plan.  Do I stick to them? Sometimes!

Our family meal plan needs to fit around a husband who works late and 3 kid’s whose cricket/dance/swimming/football training sessions finish at all different times, depending on what day of the week it is.  Take into account kid number 1 doesn’t like much meat or anything slightly spicy (read..has any flavour), kid number 2 bless her, eats almost anything, and kid number 3 who depending on the day will or won’t eat what’s for dinner, just because he’s the youngest and it’s his job to annoy everyone else in the family by whingeing…loudly. Only if the meal includes chips or plain pasta does it ensure no complaining…mostly.

So this year, I’m going to endeavour to expand the culinary horizon’s of the kids and inject a little variety into our meals.  I’m sick of the same meals being on high rotation.  I’m over the fact I’ve been collecting recipes from magazines, newspapers, the internet for years and hardly cooked any of them.  Don’t get me started on my collection of cookbooks.  All sitting there looking gorgeous, but what’s the point if you don’t use them?

So, each week, I’m going to cook one or two meals from my collection of recipes.  Hopefully by keeping some of the status quo recipes that everyone eats in each week (tacos, spaghetti bol, chicken schnitzel, etc), then the night’s that we try something a little different I won’t freak everyone out.  A little ambitious..yep.  Confident…not really.  My fall back position…try it, if you don’t like it, there’s the packet of weetbix, go and make yourself a bowl.

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To begin the challenge, I chose a recipe from Save with Jamie.  I picked up this cookbook before Christmas when it was on special.  Flicked through it, yep.  Cooked anything, nup.  So, with a leg of lamb already in my freezer….Jamie’s Mothership Lamb was on the menu.

My lamb comes from my parent’s farm. Knowing where your food comes from is so important.  It also makes the kids aware of how we obtain meat, and I think that it’s a valuable lesson.  Given we get a 1/2 to a whole lamb once, maybe twice a year, we have lamb quite regularly, so I know that the kids will eat it.  Well, to be truthful, the eldest will have a little bit and the youngest won’t touch it (I even try the “you have to eat it, it’s Grandpa’s lamb… but doesn’t always work!).

We go through the lamb cutlets and chops easily, but the legs of lamb tend to languish in the freezer.  It’s because it takes more effort to defrost it (I have to plan more than 1 hour in advance!) and then, once we’ve had the roast, the leftovers sit in the fridge until they’re finally given to the dog.  It just seems so wasteful.

One of the main reason’s I purchased Save with Jamie was that it used up the leftovers from the “mothership” meal.  So after deciding on the Mothership Lamb, I flicked through the rest of the lamb section.  The bad boy burrito’s caught my eye, but I knew they probably wouldn’t work for the rest of the family. So instead, I’ll just use the concept and make up my own version that everyone will eat.  In separate bowls on the table I’ll put the warmed up leftover lamb, some tzatziki dip, grated carrot, cheese, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and add some burrito wraps. That way everyone can make up their own burrito to their taste…I reckon it’ll be a winner.

To start the Mothership Lamb recipe, I first had to weigh my leg of lamb.  My leg of lamb only weighed 1.5kg and Jamie’s recipe was based on a larger 2.5kg leg. So I needed to adjust the cooking time.  This recipe cooked the lamb slowly and for a longer time, so the end result was meat falling off the bone. After pounding 4 garlic cloves, rosemary and salt and pepper in a mortar and pestle with a glug of olive oil, it was smeared over the lamb and into the 10 slits I had made in the lamb to infuse the rub.

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Some water was added into the bottom of the pan, then the lamb was then covered with foil.  I put mine in a 160 degree oven (Jamie used a 170 degree oven).  After 1 hour, I took the foil off, checked to see if I needed to add any more water and cooked it for another 1 1/2 hrs.

It came out looking like this

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And tasted pretty good!  To complement the lamb we had roast potatoes, mint sauce, peas, carrots and gravy.  Jamie’s accompaniments were roast potatoes, mint sauce, gravy peas and cabbage and bacon.  Did the family all eat it? Almost! The youngest just ate the veggies, but did have a taste of the lamb…so I’m taking that as a win!

When cooking this recipe again (and I will!), I’m going to lower the oven even more and cook for a longer period of time as although some of the meat around the outside fell apart beautifully, the lamb on the inside wasn’t quite there. Jamie’s recipe had a cooking time of 4 hours in total although at the slightly higher temperature and with a larger piece of meat.  I only cooked mine for 2 1/2, so I think a longer and slower cooking time would make it perfect.

So, are you a roast lamb fan? Do you meal plan?  Are your cookbooks laying about not being used?  Do you want to join me and cook some new recipes as well?  Let me know if you do!

Bye!

PS  The lamb burritos were fabulous…although the boy’s weren’t going back for lamb two days in a row so I grilled a piece of chicken for their wraps (I won with the roast…wasn’t pushing my luck!).

Taking Stock 2014

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We’ve been away for the past two weeks.  It was lovely to slow down and hang out with the family and swim, play board games, read, fish, eat gelati and just be together.

Coming back home to reality and the mountain of washing (it’s day 3 and I can finally see the end…let’s not talk about the growing ironing pile), and the back to school lists, and all the rest of the everyday stuff, has also got me thinking about the year ahead.  Given how quickly last year went (I think I blinked and we were at Easter), taking stock of where I’m at seemed a pretty good idea.  So when I saw this on Pip’s Meet Me at Mikes blog, and then shortly after saw that Nikki from Styling You had done it as well, I thought I’d jump on the band wagon and give it a whirl.  So here’s where I’m at!

Making : Lists…uniforms, stationary, etc, etc, etc
Cooking : Jamie’s Mothership Lamb Roast (will blog on this soon..it was delicious!)
Drinking : Soda water from my new Soda Stream!
Reading: Mr Chen’s Emporium
Wanting: The kid’s to go back to school, so I can do something other than clean up, wash & organise food
Looking: For shoes to fit the 11yr old.  He’s grown out of kid’s shoes and adults are a little too wide. He’s not the best shopper at the best of times & this is doing our heads in!
Playing: Master 5 got a CD player for Christmas.  Talking books and cd’s have been on high rotation. Think Peppa Pig, Cars, Postman Pat, etc
Deciding: Whether the kid’s would notice if I just escaped for an hour of two of peace
Wishing: That school holidays weren’t quite over yet…my baby is about to begin school and even though he (and I) can’t wait, it also means the end of having someone at home.  Cannot believe that we’re here.
Enjoying: Not having to do school drop off, pick up, dance, netball, cricket, etc, etc, etc
Waiting: For the kids to go back to school so I can start of my list of things I want to do!
Liking: Having a morning cuppa in bed and a quiet read before having to get up and face the mess in the kitchen caused by 3 kids who’ve attempted to make their own breakfast
Wondering: How this year is going to pan out
Loving: Not having to follow the kids schedule
Pondering: What on earth I’m going to do with all three kids at school???
Considering: What career direction to take after spending almost 11 years at home raising kids
Watching: The cricket and tennis…the boys in my house are ruling the tv
Hoping: That the kids all settle into the school year
Marvelling: At how much the kids are all growing
Needing: Some quiet time
Smelling: Washing powder, it’s been 3 days straight. Am over it.
Wearing: T-shirts and 3/4 pants. After the week of heat, Melbourne’s only hitting the early 20’s
Following: Lovely things on my Instagram feed
Noticing: How big the ironing basket is growing
Knowing: That it’s going to take hours to complete all the ironing
Thinking: How to get through the last few days of holidays
Feeling: Ready to take on whatever the new year brings (hopefully!)
Admiring: Those who can blog every day
Sorting: Kid’s clothes
Buying: Uniforms and stationery
Getting: Bored with picking up some kid’s stuff off the floor every 5 minutes
Bookmarking: Interesting things to make
Disliking: Making and then cleaning up after breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner…repeat
Opening: A lovely package sent from a friend
Giggling: At BabyMac’s Over the back fence (it’s the first one I’ve heard…love it!)

So, that’s me.  Hope you are surviving the school holidays (or surviving being back at work).  Do you want to have a go at this list? There is a list below that you can copy and paste.

Oh..and I’ve signed up for Pip’s blogging course.  Hopefully she’ll show me how to do lot’s of good things (as really…am running blind at the moment!).  Importantly am hoping one of the first things I learn is how to link (as I’m feeling very rude not linking up to both Pip’s, Nikki’s and Beth’s blogs having mentioned them above…just google Meet me at Mikes, Styling You and BabyMac and you’ll find them!).

Making :
Cooking :
Drinking :
Reading:
Wanting:
Looking:
Playing:
Deciding:
Wishing:
Enjoying:
Waiting:
Liking:
Wondering:
Loving:
Pondering:
Considering:
Watching:
Hoping:
Marvelling:
Needing:
Smelling:
Wearing:
Following:
Noticing:
Knowing:
Thinking:
Feeling:
Admiring:
Sorting:
Buying:
Getting:
Disliking:
Opening:
Giggling:

Catching Up – A Really Big Post!

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It seems like I blinked, and then it was gone.  December tends to do that doesn’t it?  By the time you get through the parties, work functions, kids sports, concerts, end of year break ups, and all the other things that seem to occur in December, it goes by in a flash!

I did manage to get a few things done over the month…just getting them here was the issue!  So here are a few things that I was going to share with you and never go around to posting (so sorry!)

Santa Countdown

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This Santa count down kit was purchased mid way through the year.  With the kids now 11, 9 & 5, I knew it wouldn’t be long before they grew out of it, but I couldn’t resist.  I made it in an afternoon using felt, template plastic, and thread.  The kit came with the blackboard fabric and all the instructions on how to make it.  It was a quick, easy project.  The kids loved counting down the days and the 9-year-old made a point every morning to remind me to change the numbers.  The kit was from Marg Low.  She has some fabulous designs which you can check out here:  marglowdesigns.typepad.com.  I can’t wait to use him again next year!

Teachers Gifts

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Every year I make several different recipes.  I then put a little of everything into a bag for all the teachers who’ve helped the kids throughout the year.  This year I had 11 bags to fill.  Each year there are two “must haves”.  They are choc orange biscotti and shortbread.  Then I look back at old recipes that I’ve kept and check out what new recipes have come out in my favourite food magazines.  I try to make at least 1 or 2 new recipes…not only to keep it interesting, but to keep me on my toes!   In this year’s bags were rocky road, chewy caramels with salted peanuts, shortbread, spiced candied nuts, choc orange biscotti and mini gingerbread loaves with lemon icing.

The rocky road and chewy caramels with salted peanuts came from the 2013 Celebrate Donna Hay magazine (Issue 72).  The chewy caramels were my favourite.  The salted peanuts were sooo good mixed with the caramel.  I haven’t yet tried the rocky road, but with dark chocolate, Turkish delight, marshmallows, pistachios and dried cranberries….what’s not to like?  I did also try the chocolate caramel brittle recipe from the magazine.  It was a disaster!  The butter separated and the caramel burnt. Oops!  Oh well, I’ll try it again another day…hopefully with better success!

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The shortbread recipe is from my mother-in-law.  A super easy recipe, that can convert to gluten free by just changing the plain flour to gluten free flour.

June’s Shortbread

Ingredients:  1/2 lb butter, 3/4 lb flour, 3 oz sugar and 1 oz icing sugar.

Soften the butter and add the sugars.  Beat until pale and fluffy.  Add the flour and mix until combined.  Then separate mixture into three.  Pat each section into a log shape (the shortbread is sliced from this, so make it whatever size you’d like….mine end up around 5cm high and 4cm across).  Slice the shortbread from the log (around .5cm thick).  Put onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and cook in a low oven (130 degrees) for 20-30 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.

The mini gingerbread loaves with lemon icing came from the December Coles magazine.  Super easy and the smell while they were cooking was fabulous!

The choc orange biscotti recipe comes from a close friend….it’s a close guarded secret..so I’m afraid I can’t share it! I think of her every time I make it.  It’s what friendship is all about, don’t you think?

The spiced candied nuts were also new to my repertoire.  Miss 9’s teacher isn’t much of a sweet tooth, so I wanted to put something in with her taste in mind.  The recipe is one I’d pulled from a magazine (I think from a copy of Delicious) ages ago.  It’s a Jane Strode recipe and was really easy to do.  I did 3 times the mixture, which made it a little difficult to stir and I don’t think it turned out quite as candied as it should’ve been…next time I’ll just do one batch at a time!

Spiced Candied Nuts:

Ingredients:  60g unsalted butter, 75g caster sugar, 400g mixed nuts (try pecans, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts and macadamias), 15g mixed peel and 1 tbsp mixed spice

Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Melt the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan over low heat.  Add the sugar and 1tsp salt.  Stir to dissolve.  Add the nuts, peel and spice and cook over a medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter mixture starts to foam and stick to the nuts.  Continue to stir until the nuts are coated and toasted (ensure the butter doesn’t burn).  Spoon onto the tray, cool and then break apart.  Store in jars for up to 2 weeks.

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And finally…a Graduation Cake!

Just to add to the December fun, I was asked to make the Grade 6 graduation cake.  It was a pleasure to make it for an awesome bunch of kids.  I can’t wait to watch them spread their wings next year!

The cake was a chocolate mud cake with ganache icing.  I then melted chocolate and cut it into rectangles the same height as the cake.  On each rectangle, I wrote each child’s name in white chocolate.  They loved having their own personalised square of chocolate!

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Sorry…such a super long post!  I hope it gives you some ideas to tuck away for next Christmas, because if 2014 is anything like 2013, it’ll be here in no time!

Christmas Beading Kits

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A couple of years ago (I’m thinking at least 2 or 3!), I picked up a few beading kits from the Craft and Quilt Fair here in Melbourne.  They’ve been sitting in my basket for a while and now, and with December only days away, thought it would be a good time to bring them out and have a go.  Surely they couldn’t be to difficult?!

The kits came from the Coastal Treasures stand at the fair.  Coastal Treasures is an Adelaide company and sell beads, necklaces, scarves and all sorts of good things.  You can check out their website at www.coastaltreasures.com.au.  One day I will be off my “L” plates and be able to provide a link….sorry!  Anyhoo, they have these kits in stock, so if you want to have a go yourself, scoot over to the website and pick them up.

Small Safety Pin Angel – Pearl

This gorgeous little thing took next to no time to make.  In the kit which cost me $8 all beads, wire, pins, etc were provided.  All I needed were cutters and chain nose pliers.  I picked up a cheap beading tool kit at the same time I got these kits.  I think I paid around $20 and it has three main tools used in beading.  They can be found at most of your craft shops such as Spotlight, Lincraft, etc.

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The instructions were easy to follow.  It was as easy as threading beads onto the safety pins.  Linking the safety pins with more wire and beads.  And then a longer piece of wire to make the body, wings, head and halo.

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Mine turned out a little droopy as I didn’t fix her body tightly enough to her skirt…all a learning process!  So pretty, so effective, sooo easy!

 

Small Wreath (set of 4)

This kit was a little more expensive at $15, but I couldn’t resist the colours and the fact that it’s sparkly!  Again all the beads, wires, etc were provided.  I just needed the long nose pliers.

These were a little more fiddly, but no less fun to make! The tricky part was the looong piece of gauge wire that was used to wrap the beads around the base of the wreath.  So…..if you do have a go at making these (and why wouldn’t you?!) here are my two top tips.

1.  Separate all your beads.  I started by trying to pull out beads as I needed them…took forever!  Then I sorted them into colours and groups.  So much easier (duh!)

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2.  I threaded all the green beads on, then wound them around the base, then threaded all the reds, then all the stars.  To thread a single bead, wind, thread another, wind again…..you can see where I’m going…way too tedious.

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The finished result was pretty great.  Now I just need to decide where to hang them.  It also got me thinking, how cool would a big version look either hanging from a wall or perhaps the front door…..may have to investigate!

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The Easiest Orange Cake

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Why is it?  No matter what, there is always one poor piece of fruit that languishes at the bottom of the fruit bowl.  No one is touching it. It’s not making it into the lunchboxes. No one want’s to eat it even if it’s the last bit of food in the house.  It’s not even that it’s too far gone, just past it’s prime and not looking as good as all the rest of it’s friends in the bowl.

Now I’m guilty of just throwing that poor sad piece of fruit into the compost (especially if it’s too far gone).  If it’s an apple it goes to the dog…he likes a good apple! But on this occasion, that poor sad piece of fruit was an orange.  After a rather trying morning, I decided to turn that poor sad orange, into a piece of happiness.  In other words…cake!

This recipe came from The Age a few years ago.  It get’s rolled out a bit, because it is sooo easy.  What’s not to love in a recipe that everything gets thrown into one bowl and mixed together.

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Child’s Play Orange Cake

Ingredients:

125g soft butter

125g sugar

125g sr flour

2 eggs

1tsp baking powder

1tsp vanilla essence

juice and grated rind of 1 orange

Method:

Put all ingredients in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy.  Place in a lined loaf tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 20 minutes.

For the icing just mix some orange juice with icing sugar and spread it on.  If you want to get fancy, you could zest some orange peel on the top.

As you can see, I used a square tin (it took a little less time to cook which is always good!).   This cake is always a winner and as you can see, I didn’t even get a chance to take a photo of it whole.  Apologies for the photo quality, but if I didn’t snap it fast, it was going to be gone.  To think it started with that poor sad orange that nobody wanted!

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1 month to go!

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It’s kind of scary how fast this year has gone.  I can’t believe that yesterday was the 25th of November….meaning in just one month’s time….eek!

I love Christmas.  With 3 kids who have already started the countdown and written letters to Santa, it’s not hard to get caught up in festivities.  So I decided I should get my act together and start getting a little organised.

Pom Pom Garland.

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This is a really easy and quick project – a terrific kids project.  I bought 2 packets of pom poms from Spotlight.  There are various choices to make, in size, colour, etc.  I chose the red, white & green combination packet of various sized pom poms.  I did try to get a packet each of green, white and red in one size, however there was not a packet of green pom poms to be found….I wonder who used them all…and for what??

At only $1.99 per packet, it makes for a cheap project.  I also grabbed a spool of linen thread.  As it’s thicker than normal sewing thread, I’m hoping it’ll withstand the kids (and dog) grabbing and pulling at the garland (because even though you tell them not to pull at it, you just know they’re not going to be able to help themselves!).

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Then thread up a needle and push it through the centre of each pop pom.  As I threaded each pom pom, I just kept pushing the pom pom’s further down the thread.  I didn’t cut the thread as I wasn’t sure how long the garland would be.  It also meant I could make the spacing between pom poms as big (or small) as I liked.

Once all the pom poms where threaded, I space them all out, making sure to leave a 30cm or so length at each end.  When I was happy, I cut the thread from the spool.  Then I just made a little slip knot at each end for hanging.

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I’ve hung mine in the kid’s play room over the pelmets, just using blu-tack.  I’m not sure if they’ll stay there, but am feeling a bit chuffed to have started the on the decorations!  It feels a little wrong to have something up before the 1st of December.

Do you make any of your own decorations?