Thursday, August 30, 2012

Op Shopping - More Tea Cup Finds

I found two more teacups to add to my slowly growing collection. 

This one is from Royal Albert and I found it at my local Habitat for Humanity store.  Its in pristine condition, so I am wondering if its newish.  I haven't spent any time on the internet searching for it, but I will do!
This one is from Colclough and I love it.  I found this one at the Salvation Army in Te Rapa.   Its possibly my most favourite trio yet.  I guess I just like sparkly things.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Finally, A Finished Project

I finally finished a sewing project.  I made a start on this 13 weeks ago - cut it, pieced and sewed it together, safety pinned the batting and backing on and then shoved it in the cupboard.  Its a gift for a very good friend who just had a baby.  Well, 13 weeks ago .....

I've used this playmat pattern quite a few times now, its so simple that it can be made in a day.  My previous link to the pattern is here.

I don't know why I left it so long between sewing projects.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Hubby

Its the hubby's birthday today.  He really is such an amazing and wonderful man.  He is rather obsessed with the colour yellow, hence the yellow cake.  This cake was vision gone a bit wrong, but it passes.  He is unsure of why I put roses on a man's cake, but they look pretty!  Why can't men have pretty cakes?

This is a Chocolate Buttermilk Cake.  Its my favourite chocolate cake recipe at the moment and can be found here at Baking Makes Things Better.  I've iced it with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Yellow Buttercream Icing.

Happy Birthday to the most wonderful and amazing hubby a girl could ever dream of having.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Travelling Stash Box

I stumbled across Catalina's Cottage tonight.  Awesome blog, love love love.  I really need to spend a bit more time in blogging land, there are so many amazing ladies out there doing amazing things.

How awesome is this.  She blogged a few weeks back about a Travelling Stash Box.  Basically this is a wee box of crafting treasure that gets sent around participating crafty lovelies, who take and replace and send on.  Eeeekkkk.  Exciting.  I must join in.

There are rules and guidelines, but do read more about it here.  And join in!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Op Shopping - Magic Day

Today was a great day.  The sun was shining.  I managed a Random Act of Kindness.  And found treasure at my local Salvation Army.

Love this dress.  Love.  It.  It looks amazing on.  I am not taking a photo of me wearing it though.  Just because.

A couple of metres of this cute material.

And this sweet number.  I am so excited about this - I walked away from it 3 times but I couldn't leave it there.  I think this is where op-shopping becomes dangerous - The Girl does not need another bedhead (one bed, one bedhead ....), but I just couldn't get the image out of my mind of this repainted with some beautiful fabric in it .... don't expect to see this project finished anytime soon though!  I have SO much to complete.

Today was awesome.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Denheath Custard Square Fake ... not sure about this one!

I found this recipe on The Culinary Explorations of Mrs Cake.   I should of  actually read her whole blog about these and I would of read that she wasn't convinced about them as a Denheath knock off BUT she did say they went down rather well as an easy custard square. 

I just got SO excited about possibly being able to make my own constant supply of Denheath Custard Squares that I never got past the recipe on the page before rushing out and buying packets of Vanilla Instant Pudding and cream.  Next time I will read the whole blog, as now I feel a bit sad that they are nothing like Denheath Custard Squares and I can't bask in Denheath glory at my whim.

Nothing beats Denheath though.  I am silly really for trying.

The link to the recipe is here - its easy peasy.  Its a bit too instant puddingy tasting for me.  The kids are eating it enthusiastically though and I haven't had anyone else around to taste test this on.  Personally I think I will stick to my tried and true Alison Holst recipe, but if I have a tribe to feed then this might just go down a treat.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

5 Minute T Shirt Upgrade

$3 Kmart T Shirt plus a 20cent silver doily from the Salvation Army.  5 minutes of handsewing.  Magic. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wacky Wednesday 1

New traditions are afoot in the Oliver house.  Tonight we celebrated Wacky Wednesday, and its a tradition we mean to carry on one Wednesday a month. 

It was great to go a bit crazy with the kids and of course they loved it.  Family traditions are the things that build amazing memories and they really help forge stronger families, especially when you can have some off the wall fun together.   They help create a feeling of closeness, warmth and get you laughing and sharing time.  I believe they relax you as a family and allow you the chance to take moments of being together, outside of the normal daily stress, grind and chaos.

We started our Wacky Wednesday off with wacky bath time.  I froze a couple dozen coloured ice cubes and chucked them into the bathtub with the kids.  They melted fast, but the kids had fun chasing them around the bottom of the tub trying to catch them before they melted away.  The hubby was worried they would come out looking like murky swamp monsters, but the great thing about food colouring in the bath is it doesn't stain.

Then it was into our wacky outfits.  Sprat turned into Lightening McQueen, Danger Mouse into a Pirate and The Girl into a Clown.

Dinner was Snake Pizza.  I saw this on Pinterest a while back, with the original link here.  I made a normal bread dough, shaped it out and filled it with pizza ingredients.  It looked great before it went into the oven.

It did loose its colour once cooked, but still looked pretty awesome.

Once dinner was plated, it was dinner by candlelight.  Fun for the kids - stressful for mum and dad who kept a vigilant watch on Danger Mouse and The Girl.  They were both like moths to a flame!

We took the time during our meal to go around the table and talk about all the clever things we love and appreciate about each other.  We really encouraged the children to take part in praising each other as well.  Both the boys loved this part of the meal.  I take the time to praise my children as often as possible, but this was different.  This was focused on them from everyone in the family, and I could see both boys sitting taller and prouder as we praised them. 

There was a little bit of crazy wacky behaviour while waiting for dessert.  This could of been when the lemonade high kicked in.  Even The Girl took part in some face pulling.

Then it was dessert time.  Yes, my favourite part of any meal.  I made a Wacky Rainbow Trifle.  Just a basic trifle recipe, but instead of a sponge I just made a Rainbow Vanilla Cake. 

When dessert was over, we talked about how we would celebrate our next Wacky Wednesday.  Wacky Hats it is. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lemon and Pistachio Shortbread

Still on the lemon theme!  I found this recipe in the lastest Food magazine and thought they would be perfect to take to friends we are visiting this weekend.

Next time I make these I think I will roll the shortbread logs in the chopped pistachios before cutting the log, instead of folding the pistachios through the shortbread.  It was tricky to cut as the pistachios would leave holes in the biscuit they were cut away from.  I used the back of a big knife to flatten each biscuit to remove the holes, but I think it would be easier to just avoid the whole process in the first place.  I also very slightly overcooked these, I was in a rush to get dinner in the oven and put the oven on fan bake but forget to turn it down ... who's perfect huh.  They still taste great.

250g butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 lemon, zest finely grated
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cornflour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup roughly chopped pistachios

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy.  Sift in flour, cornflour and salt.  Gently mix together until combined.  Fold in pistachios.

Place 2 pieces of cling film on a clean kitchen bench.  Divide the shortbread in two and form both into evenly sized logs (approx 18cm x 6cm x 2cm).  I didn't measure mine.  Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 20 - 25 minutes until the dough is firm enough to slice.

To bake, cut each log into 1cm thick slices and place them on the prepared baking trays.  Prick each piece with a fork a few times.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until it is firm and only very lightly coloured.  Transfer to cooling racks.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lemon Cake

My lemon tree is virtually sagging with lemons at the moment.  The pruning the boys gave it a few months back must of done it wonders.  I am cooking and baking all things lemon at the moment as I just can't bear any of them to go to waste.

I visited a friend a month or so ago, and she served this Lemon Cake as morning tea.  I couldn't leave without the recipe.  It was so good I made it the next day at my MIL's.  And have made it 3 times since.  I couldn't get a full picture of it, as we couldn't wait and tucked into it while it was still warm.  Served with some plain yoghurt, its just so good.

This makes a huge cake.  I bake it in a 23 x 30 cm lasagne dish.

250g butter
2 cups caster sugar
2 large lemons
4 eggs
3 cups self raising flour
1 cup of milk

1 cup of caster sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and prepare your baking tin.  Lightly spray with cooking oil and line the bottom and sides with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar till light and creamy.  I cream mine really well - put it in the mixer and go away and do something else for a bit and come back to it.

Add the lemon rind and then the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add half the flour and half the milk and gently mix together with a wooden spoon.  Gently stir in remaining milk and flour.

Bake for approx 50 minutes, being careful not to overcook.

When the cake goes into the oven, combine your ingredients for the sugar crust and set aside.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and pour the sugar crust over the hot cake.  Leave it to cool in the tin till cold.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Photographic Misson

Its been a slow two weeks for me after a spot of surgery and a small holiday in a lovely private hospital. Once home I was extremely well looked after by my MIL, who by the way, is the most amazing MIL in the world.

As I had a TON of time on my hands while I was glued to the couch, I decided it would be time well spent if I sorted out the last 3 years of photos to print.

Wow.  It took me one full day to trawl through 3 years of photos and pick what I was going to print.  1631 photos later.  Eeeekkk.

This is what a pile of 1631 photos look like.

Thankfully Harvey Norman had a sale on photo albums.  It then took me another half day to sort the photos out into order and get them into albums.  Subsequently the aftermath on my table looked like this:

I now have a system in place on my computer so I can sort my photos as I take them and then print them off every 2 months and not have a repeat 3 year performance.

Its such a relief to finally tick off a job that I have been meaning to do for well over two years!  Job well done.

Baking Soda Volcano

Tongariro erupting last night gave us the perfect learning opportunity today.  We used to make baking soda volcanoes at Playcentre heaps, but its been a few years since we've had one at home.   I am actually not sure if I have ever made Danger Mouse one.

We had two ice cream containers of old play dough that I moulded into a volcano shape, and hid an egg cup in the top to hold the baking soda.

Once we had our volcano, we spent a bit of time on the Internet looking at exploding volcanoes and learning a bit about lava.  When I was sure the boys had the concept of it, it was time to explode our own volcano.

I put a few tablespoons of baking soda into the egg cup with a bit of red food colouring.  Then let the boys take turns to pour the white vinegar into the cup. 

They loved it.  Danger Mouse keep putting his hand in the top of the volcano to squish the 'lava'.   He also kept trying to blow the lava off the top, which headed in my direction each time - which of course made him laugh and do it more.   He then decided the volcano needed re-modelling and did some sculpting of his own.

Sprat was a bit more reserved.  He's cool now he goes to school you know.

I am looking forward to making more of these in the sandpit this summer.