Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hamilton Craft & Quilt Fair

The highlight of my September!  The Hamilton Craft and Quilt Fair is on at the Claudelands Events Centre from Thursday 8 September to Sunday 11 September 2011.  I went last year and it was extremely dangerous on my bank balance.

I am really looking forward to shopping at The Craft Spot and stocking up on my craft supplies for the children.  Last year they had some amazing deals on stickers, paper and colouring books.  I picked up some great cot quilt kits for The Girl as well, and this year I am on the hunt for a single bed sized quilt kit for her.  I would also like to get some Melly and Me patterns and stock up on some fabric. 

Now I just need to find a baby sitter for the children and a really big shoulder bag to carry my purchases in and I will be set.  Hmmm, maybe I need a suitcase on wheels ....

Crayon Caddy

I love this!!  I followed this tutorial, which was easy to follow and only took me an hour to make - http://justanotherhangup.blogspot.com/2010/11/lil-kid-crayon-caddy-tutorial.html

My children go everywhere with me, and I am often lugging around all sorts of bags full of entertainment.  Not anymore!  Now I just need to whip up another one so they have one each.  And then I am going to make something similar, but one that they can carry their matchbox cars in!  Then we will really be set for those boring appointments at the doctors and accountants, and I won't be left carrying their bags of toys!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rainbow Cake

I happened by the Whisk Kid blog a wee while back and saw her amazing Rainbow Cake - http://www.whisk-kid.com/2009/08/say-it-with-cake.html.  I have never made a 'fancy' cake before and knew this cake would be a challenge for me! 

I found a link on the Martha Stewart website where they made this cake, and I found the walk through process really easy to follow and helpful.  http://www.marthastewart.com/256688/rainbow-cake

It was expensive to make, but worth every cent.  Only thing is I didn't really like the icing - I found it way too buttery.  I am not sure if it was something I did, but next time I will try a different icing.  Overall, it is an amazing cake and looks so impressive.  Another baking goal ticked off my list!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Easy Wall Art

We did a major reshuffle of four of our rooms in our house today.  The spare bedroom has been transformed into the baby's room, we have shifted the office back into the office (which we had been using as the baby's room), the family room is now the family room again (was being shared by the office) and the boys have had new beds and linen.

The bedroom the baby shifted into has alot of wall space and I wanted to use some white picture frames I picked up in a Briscoes sale a while back to fill some of it.  I am not at all artistic when it comes to paper art.  I think I may of mentioned this before.  When we were at Warehouse Stationery looking at exciting things like new office desks and filing cabinets, I picked up this packet of scrapbooking paper.

Firstly it was on sale.  Always a bonus in my book!  And it's lovely and girly and I thought it would look great in the picture frames.  So no tutorial needed here, all I did was cut the chosen paper down to size, pop it into the frames and there you have it.  And I love it!  It looks awesome, and when I get bored of this paper, I'll just swap it to something different.  Now I just need to get hubby to put up the 3M Picture Hooks (I will be sure to make them wonky and he has an eye for measuring perfection) and my wee babes room is complete.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To Crochet or not to Crochet?

I went a bit mad this weekend.  Brought a huge pile of the most beautiful sewing and cooking books.  I LOVE books and haven't treated myself in ages.  I know everything is available on the internet these days, but I believe nothing beats flicking through the pages of a beautiful book. 

One of the books I brought was Cute and Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench.  I spent a wonderful session being taught how to crochet by an entertaining 80 year old lady months ago, but do you think I could remember how to do it when I got home?  This book has very clear illustrations and some really cute projects.  I spent some time last night trying to perfect the little flowers, and tonight I made a ball for the baby to play with.  I am determined to perfect the art of Crochet!  We are hoping to make a trip to Vietnam later this year and I'd love a big pile of crochet flower hair clips to give out to the children.  I am going to keep the wool and hooks in a tote next to the couch, so when I am finally relaxing in the evening (yes, that sometimes does happen) I can click away with my hook and still be creating.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fondant Iced Biscuits

I brought a packet of Pettinice White Icing from the supermarket the other day purely because it was on special.  I have never used fonant icing before, so being totally new to me, I decided to get a feel for it and start with something basic - icing biscuits.

I found mixing the colour in annoying, and think in the future I will just buy pre-coloured fondant from the cake shop.  Lazy huh haha. 

The biscuits are basic butter biscuits (recipe can be found here  http://sliceinthelifeofjulie.blogspot.com/2011/07/alphabet-cookies.html) .  Once they were cooled I rolled out the fondant on a lighty dusted (icing sugar) surface, cut out the shapes and popped onto the biscuit using corn syrup to stick. 

I think they are stunning, for reasonably little effort, and will definately be making these to adorn tables at the childrens birthday parties.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Anzac Slice

I have tried for years to perfect the Anzac Biscuit.  It is the one baking item that has defeated me time and time again.  I have no idea why I can't do it.  What I can do though, is bake an impressive Anzac Slice, that has never failed me.  This was another recipe I pulled out of a magazine years ago, and its a staple in my regular baking!

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut
125g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

Pre heat oven to 160 degrees and grease and line a 20cm x 30cm slice pan.

Combine the oats, sifted flour, mixed spice, brown sugar and coconut in a bowl and mix well.

Combine the butter, golden syrup and water in a medium pan and stir over a low heat, without boiling, until the butter melts.  Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.  Press into prepared slice pan and cook for approx 30 - 35 minutes, or until cooked.  Do not overcook this slice as it will become hard.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Waterproof Swimming Bag

Sprat has started swimming lessons.  I felt rather sorry for him today as he was the only child in his group dragging his swimming gear behind him in a plastic supermarket bag.  So having a rummage around in my treasure cove of sewing materials found a big piece of waterproof PUL and a square of thick Thomas the Tank Engine material (that was originally brought out of the clearance bin, destined to become the covering on Danger Mouses headboard - sorry buddy).  Everything I need for a swimming bag right.  No, missing a pattern.  Bah, who needs a pattern. 

I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted, figured it would be easy to whip up from scratch, and it was.  Here is what I did.

I wanted a nice round base - so used a plate - perfect.

I then had to work out how much material I needed for the bag (to go around the base).  I don't even know what this is called.  I took cabbage maths at school, so this was a tricky one for me.  Thank you Google for saving me.  You can google this too, as I am definately not qualified to re-explain this.  If I can work it out, anyone can.  Remember to add your seam allowance onto this (as you can see below my width was 80.1cm plus the seam allowance).

I used the two seperate fabrics - the waterproof lining and the thick TTE outer.  I placed the two fabrics together and cut out the base, and then the bag itself.  When I looked at the length I had allowed for the bag (49cms) I decided it wasn't enough, so just cut some extra at the top, as you can see in the below photo.

Once the bag was cut out, I seperated the two pieces, pinned and sewed each piece down the side seam (creating a tube), and trimmed the excess hem.

Then I pinned the base to the bag, right sides facing together, and sewed the base on.  I did this seperately for both fabrics, then again trimmed the excess hem.

I then turned the outside of the bag right side out, and popped the lining inside this.

I wanted a drawstring close on the bag, so I added two button holes to what would become the top hem, for the drawstring to go into.  I measured out where I needed these to go, allowing enough of a gap between the button hole and the top of the fabric for the hem to be turned in 5mm and then turned down again another 4cm.  My button holes are on the inside of the bag.  You can see them (not clearly sorry) on the next photo, on the right hand side.

I then folded the top hem (in 5mm, and then again 4cm), leaving plenty of room for the cord, and sewed shut. 

Then I realised that I had no cord (this was not a very organised project).  So for now I am using ribbon until I get to Spotlight.  Next time I made one of these, I am going to add in a loop on the outside of the bottom of the bag, so the drawstring can go through the hem, and be looped down and knotted through the loop at the bottom, meaning the bag can be slung over a shoulder.  Next time.  But for now, I threaded the ribbon through, and there you have it, a swimming bag.  No more plastic bags for Sprat!

Carrot and Pistachio Slice

This came about yesterday when I decided to surprise hubby with his favourite, Carrot Cake, and realised I was missing ingredients.  So I hashed up a slice, and hubby loved it so much he nearly ate it all in one sitting.  Its not a sweet slice, but with a Cream Cheese Icing its just right - and because its not sweet, you can easily eat lots!  Well, thats what I tell myself anyway.... 

1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 level teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup of oil
3/4 cup of packed brown sugar
1/2 cup of sultanas
1 1/2 cups of finely grated carrot
1/2 cup of chopped pistachios (I threw in a few cashews as well as needed to use them)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon mixed spice

Prehead oven to 160 degrees and line a slice tin.

Mix all the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl and pour mixture into tin.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until cooked.

Ice with Cream Cheese Icing.

Easy!  I reckon you could replace the carrot with courgette.  You could replace the nuts with walnuts and even add some pineapple, although its nice and moist as it is.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Another Baby Play Mat

Just a sneak picture of the baby play mat I made for my new wee niece Sienna (not the greatest photo!).  I love this pattern - is so quick to throw together and looks fantastic!

Here is the link to the pattern again - http://neverenoughhours.blogspot.com/2010/08/fat-quarter-baby-quilt-tutorial.html

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pinwheel Cookies

I saw a picture of some pinwheel cookies quite a while ago, and thought I'd give them a go to see how they went down with the kids.  My technique needs a bit of work.  I did the brown ones first and they didn't turn out anywhere near as good as the pink ones.  I also think they tasted a wee bit plain, so next time will drizzle some icing over the top.  In saying that the children love them and were having 'snail' races with them, so job well done!

I used the basic butter cookie recipe I have posted previously for my Alphabet Biscuits, but added a little bit of extra flour this time.

250g butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 1/2 cups plain flour
Red Food Colouring (or colour of your choice)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.  Add the flour and mix until a dough forms.

Divide the dough into two equal parts.  Wrap one part in plastic wrap.  Divide the second half into two again.  Colour one with red food colouring and add the cocoa powder to the second half.  Mix well.  Wrap both of these seperately with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line two baking trays.

Divide the plain uncoloured dough in half.  Roll each piece of dough out on a floured surface into a 18cm x 20cm rectangle.  Place the pink dough on top of a plain piece, trim the edges and roll into a log.  Do the same with the brown piece.

With a serrated bread knife, cut into 1cm slices and arrange on baking trays.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.