Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas traditions...

Growing up, our families celebrated Christmas in very different ways. Hubby's family had a Christmas Eve celebration with presents and food into the wee hours of Christmas morning while my childhood Christmases were very different. It has become very important to me to build some traditions into the family we've created. Here are some of my favourite things to do at Christmas:

1. Christmas lights drive - Our very first date, we went around town to look at all the lights. We make sure we do it each year. Sometimes it's on the anniversary of our first date, sometimes it's Boxing Day (although we do usually try to get there before Christmas day)




2. Decorating the tree - one person picks the colour scheme, we all decorate while listening to Christmas music, being silly and having fun. This year Mr Z picked the colours and we were able to use the very first decorations we ever bought, 13 Christmases ago (blue)



3. Gingerbread - Whether it's trees or men, N and I have come to enjoy doing this job together. This year we made some for Z's classmates, next year we'll need a whole lot more!



4. Church - this year we went to Christmas Eve Mass with Hubby's family.

5. Food! The kids each get to choose something to eat on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Miss Piggy chose kiwi fruit and chocolate cake, Mr Z wanted pancakes and blueberries.

6. Recording our memories - the kids line up so we can mark their height on the pantry door, and everyone gets a picture taken under the tree.

7. Our new tradition - now we're a complete family of five, I want to choose one special decoration to hang each year. This year we went out and bought a silver snowflake - after much umming and ahhing (and bickering). Not quite the relaxing experience I was looking for, but you have to start these things and let them settle in to tradition... or not! We'll see!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sometimes it's easier just to give in

I cloth nappied both my bigger kids. Terry nappies, snappis and covers (more or less) all the way. I've always been a big fan of reducing waste so it made me feel good to be doing something good for the environment, and saving money to boot! I always wanted to get around to making my own fitted cloth nappies but despite having fabric and patterns, I just never got around to it.

This time round, it's been a bit harder to do the whole folded terry towelling thing. For one thing, I'm not (yet) organised enough to be getting all of that ready and still get out the door to drop Number One at school. Secondly, it's just been harder and harder to find pilchers/covers  (and clothing) to go over the bulky folded squares and lastly I've just been kind of lazy!

Lucky I found these - I loooove them! Totally waterproof and very, very cost-effective. I ended up importing them myself and saved a fortune :)



Monday, December 13, 2010

If I had time...

I would try this:


and this:




and this:




and this:




You can click through to a DIY tutorial ;)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Treats!

I love gingerbread men. I think everyone does! I remember one magical day in primary school when everyone in our class was given a gingerbread man to celebrate a classmate's birthday. I remember thinking how lucky that boy was that his mum had/took the time to make something special for each person in our room. So last night I made gingerbread Christmas trees for Zander's class. It was going to be gingerbread candy canes, but I know how much Zander likes green. And smarties :)





And here is what I made for his teachers (will make more 'layers' next time to make it more tree-like)


Can't believe it is my boy's last day of kindy tomorrow (sigh)...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Babushka update...

Heather and Jo, your Babushkas are still a WIP. Here they are waiting patiently on my dining room table:


Fudge!

Natti and I made fudge yesterday. We used a very easy base recipe, then we decorated it in all different styles.



No-Fail Fudge

1 x 375g packet of chocolate drops
1 x tin condensed milk
Optional: glace cherries, crushed nuts, apricot pieces, marshmallows, coconut... whatever is handy

1. Open tin of condensed milk. Remove 6 tablespoons of contents. Eat immediately :)
2. Melt chocolate buttons over a low heat
3. Add condensed milk. Stir until blended, remove from heat.
4. Add items from optional ingredients if required.
5. Pour into a lamington tray, top with nuts/coconut if desired.
6. Refrigerate
7. Cut when cool

Other options, instead of pouring into a lamington tray:
a) pour semi-cooled mix onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and roll into a log for chopping.
b) roll semi-cooled mix into balls


Thursday, November 4, 2010

More Babushkas headed out over the seas...

Here is my current WIP:

The one that is partially finished is for Jo's birthday (she's been patiently waiting for her Babushka for quite some time) and the strip on the table is about to be sewn into Heather's Babushka... They will come with matching baby and grandbaby in their pockets. There is only one other of this kind and she currently lives in London with another of my cousins...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Unique family tree

Love this! Created by the talent behind Mila's Daydreams... Now to find me some paper plates... lots of paper plates!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Ribbon corsage

Ugh. The kids are sick and we're all stuck indoors with a pile of DVDs... In an attempt to regain some sanity, I retreated to the kitchen with a metre of ribbon and the glue gun to try a tutorial I've been eyeing off.. here





I'm happy to say it was pretty easy, although I found my own way of folding the ribbon as I went, so it will be even easier next time :)

Two down, one to go...

I actually finished this quilt about a month ago, but I've been too busy with the bubby and just the every day to actually take a picture of it!


Zander started working on "Space" this term, so it's actually pretty timely :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Little Lucy shoes...

Here are some shoes I sent to a friend today:


I think they're quite cute! I put super soft (soft like a bunny as Nat would say) coral fleece on the insides so they're nice and cozy for new little toes.


I also sent these:


I hope Lucy (and her Mummy) like them :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Banana Oat Hotcakes

Made something new today - a recipe I'd cut out of the Coles catalogue ages ago. It seemed like a winner because 1. it was healthy enough to be acceptable kindy lunchbox food and 2. it has oats in it (low GI and good for lowering cholesterol). The kids seemed to like them, and they were filling enough that *I* didn't have to raid the biscuit tin too soon after breakfast!!!


Ingredients:
1.5 cups SR Flour
1tsp baking powder
1 cup quick cook oats
1 tbsp caster sugar (I reckon I'd try honey next time)
2 eggs
1.25 cups milk
60g butter, melted and cooled
1tsp vanilla essence
2 small bananas, mashed
Jam/maple syrup/yoghurt to serve

Method:
1. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in oats and sugar and make a well in the centre
2. Whisk eggs, milk, melted butter and vanilla in a jug. Add to dry ingredients with banana and mix well.
3. Cook as per pikelets to desired size
4. Enjoy!



Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Still quilting...

I feel like I've been sewing FOREVER but hopefully I'm on the home stretch... here are some WIP pics:



Note to self: next time mark the lines so they stay straight. Or maybe the wonkiness is part of the charm of home-made by mum?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fresh and beautiful


I took Natti out to the shops for a treat the other night. She insisted we treat me, too - and she chose these flowers. They make me smile!

A little pink distraction...

Nat was getting fed up waiting for me to finish Zander's quilt - especially given that she remembered buying metres and metres of pretty pink fabric in the Spotlight sale...




After we decided to have a go at the tutial found here we had a rumage through the fabric cupboard and the Vinnies bag. Here is the result:


I made it longer than the tutorial, but it's still not quite long enough.  Old shirt + remnant + 0.3m of fabric = $0.70 ! So I'd definitely do this one again, but next time I'd make it longer and less full.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Mr Z's quilt...

Well, after much umming and ahhing (procrastination of the worst kind) it's finally starting to take shape... Heather, you asked how on earth I was going to get the little spaceman from the napkin onto the quilt and I'm happy to say I'm almost there! I'm about to start the scary part now - the actually permanent stitching into place... wish me luck!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The girl has been cooking again...

A couple of weeks ago I baked too many a LOT of brownies in an effort to find the perfect recipe... It had to be:

* easy enough for Nat to help
* quick enough to make late on a school night
* chocolately enough to satisfy my family of chocoholics
* not over-sugared.

I ended up making my own recipe (we all know I'm not good with following other peoples' instructions) and here is the recipe I came up with:


Sam's Never-fail Brownies

1 1/2 cups of sugar (castor is best, but works ok with plain white)
85g of butter
3 lge eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup flour
pinch of salt

Method
Preheat oven to 180C
Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar
Add eggs and vanilla
Add (sifted if you have time/inclination) dry ingredients
Pour into baking trays (2cm deep)
Bake 18 - 20 mins (20 mins will give a firmer, less fudgy result)
Allow to cool slightly before cutting (although Nat and I have been know to attack with a spoon straight from the pan)


 Here are some Nat and I prepared earlier! A lamington tray works well, although I prefer to use several smaller pans (so they fit in my convection oven and also it means less cutting and therefore more uniform shaped pieces)


We've baked these a number of times now, given them to people to try - even sent away one tray as a care package. All reviews have been favourable :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Two blankets down... one to go!

Last week I finished Micah's blankie!

I had been finding it hard to find a basinette/capsule sized blanket. We have soooo many blankets but they were all just too big - I wanted to make a snuggly warm blanket that was just big enough to tuck over him. Here it is!




I started with a very basic knit stitch (3 knit, 3 pearl, repeat 12 times). Then I single crocheted six rows right the way around the outside. It really only took a couple of evenings in front of the telly!

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PS You might need to turn your head for the first pic - for some reason it doesn't want to rotate!!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pink elephants and spotted umbrellas...

I've been trying to spend some quality time with Nat doing 'big girl' things while Zander is at kindy. She get to choose the activity each week. This week she told me we were going to make pink elephants. As I am obsessed with food, this meant only one thing to me - pink elephant biscuits! However, when we got out our cookie cutter collection (over 130 of them) she changed her mind: umbrellas (it had been raining) and Hi-5 bikkies.

Besides gingerbread, I've never really made many 'cookie cutter' biscuits so we had to hunt down a recipe. It was terrible and way too hard to cut out the shapes. I've since had some advice from my baking-queen sister and so I hope next time it will be easier... I am taking recipe suggestions, though! Something quick and easy enough for a 3 year old to really feel that she's really made them herself!

After Zander had done his 'homework' (a recent obsession of his, since watching his cousin work through homework sheets at the kitchen table) we decorated them. Here they are:



Saturday, June 12, 2010

A moment to remember...

This is my favourite photo... all my favourite people in the one shot :)



This is one of the very first moments of all five of us together at home... Feels good to be a whole family :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Free Crochet Patterns

Snuzzle Bear free crochet pattern by Suncatcher Craft Eyes

These are great and look easy... can't wait to give them a go!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Art class...

Two weeks ago, I went to a printmaking workshop with the talented Caryl Plant. I'd done a printmaking for teachers class with her two years ago and was hoping this class would give me some more inspiration  in making a mess at home  for teaching printmaking at school.

We used shellac to make print templates using old curtains and embroidery hoops

(I did one positive and one negative design to keep as demo pieces)

We also cut stencils from easy-cut paper
(More babushkas, couldn't help myself!)

and we were allowed to use Caryl's silk screens to take a print of some of her more popular work


It was basically a repeat of the class I'd taken two years ago, so not quite what I was hoping for, but a fun afternoon nonetheless... Am hoping to be able to do some of these things with kids at school - maybe even toward the end of this year (depending on how the littlest Ephraims behaves himself).

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PS Don't look up Shellac in a dictionary if you enjoy eating skittles...
I love reading your comments, thanks for stopping by :)