Monday, 30 May 2011

A Birthday Party

happy birthday

two

She turns two during the week, so we celebrated her upcoming birthday with a little family party over the weekend. It was perfect just for her, all of her adoring {and adored} family coming to celebrate her antics. She was in her element.

The preparation for the party {while frenzied at times} was a communal affair; Cam and I had separate 'workstations' in the kitchen, where he cooked up yummy apricot chicken balls, and I whipped up some 32 chocolate cupcakes, a quick clean then it was onto the mars bar crackles while I did the 'ikea' clean and vacuum, and made up the party bags.

The cupcakes were a family affair, I made the cake, the kids iced them and Cam decorated them, and the kids were allowed to eat 1 each before the party.

2

Shall we just have a little chat about the party girls outfit?... sometime ago I saw this gorgeous creation by Stella McCartney which I've been meaning to make for her, so when I saw a similar tutu for sale in Cotton On kids on Saturday morning, I couldn't help but to grab it. Finding a plain grey hoody was a little more difficult though, so out with the trusty hoody pattern and some polar fleece on Saturday night, and this was quickly whipped up...

sparkly boots

... The gorgeous pair of boots that she recieved from her Aunty were the perfect finish to the outfit... and as you can see she received plenty of clothes {which was the main request} as we have wonderful toys that have been built on over the years, and which {mostly} last the test of time, so while she doesn't want for more toys, the hand-me-downs from her older sister and pretty slim. It was brilliant to receive so many clothes that we can put together into everyday outfits for her.

1

Thank you to our family who came and brought food, presents and a willing audience. It was so nice to see you all in one place, and of course the older kids were just delighted that they were able to hang out with their cousins again.

Friday, 27 May 2011

make your own juggling balls

juggling balls

Have you ever made your own juggling balls?... we used to make these all the time, way back when I was working for AMP {before I was married} ... Cam and I took a weekend trip to Sydney and at one of the markets was a guy selling juggling balls, we didn't buy any at the time but it did plant the seed and for a long while after we would practice our juggling skills.

Unfortunately my skills have long since dissipated, but when D started asking if we could make some juggling balls I discovered that, yes, I could remember how ::

step 1 :: gather your supplies

step 1 :: gather your supplies :: uncooked rice, balloons, some scissors and a vessel to get the rice into the balloons, we used an empty squeeze bottle with the top removed.

Step 2 :: pour rice into squeeze bottle

step 2 :: fill the bottle to the desired height, this way each ball will be the same size.

Step 3 :: attach balloon & fill

step 3 :: place the balloon over the neck of the bottle, tip it upside down and squeeze the bottle until all of the rice is transferred into the balloon.

Step 4 :: flatten rice into balloon

step 4 :: push the rice in the balloon down, so that it is away from the neck of the balloon. See how it looks squashed?

Step 5 :: cut off balloon lip & neck of new balloon*

step 5 :: cut the entire neck of another balloon {and you will cut the necks off all the balloons from here on}

Step 6 :: hold down balloon 'stem'

step 6 :: hold the neck of the first balloon over...

Step 7 :: cover with new balloon

step 7 :: and stretch the next balloon over it so that they hole ends up on the opposite side of the balloon, effectively sealing all of the rice into the first balloon.

step 8 :: cover with new balloon

step 8 :: repeat stretching another coloured balloon over the ball.

step 9 :: cover with another balloon

step 9 :: repeat with another coloured balloon

step 10 :: cut a few extra small holes

step 10 :: cut a few extra small holes in the next balloon so that the last two coloured balloons will show through.

juggling balls

step 11 :: round out the balls, and there you have it... Juggling Balls

Go on, make some more and learn to juggle. It's fun!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

the minutiae*

home office

home office

I can't remember if I've mentioned 'the computer' in this space; but the kids got a new {to them} computer for christmas last year, as well as a desk for it to sit in the dining room. The idea was that it was a place for them to watch their movies {if someone else wanted to use the television} and an area ready for A to do is homework in the new year.

Well it all went well for the first few weeks, then the computer made a funny noise and ceased functioning. Upon a bit of investigation, we found that the kids had posted a few pencils and a magnet into the empty hard-drive, straight into the motherboard. There really wasn't any coming back from that. So the tower was taken to the doctor, and the peripherals have been sitting on the desk ever since.

Each night after dinner, A sits at the desk with my laptop and does a round of reading eggs, and so the 'the computer' has sat gathering dust. It wasn't until I started to pack it up {to slowly edge it out of the house} that a new level of interest suddenly arose... the girls spent a lovely while playing offices at the table, and when they were done {ie: lost interest and moved onto making other messes} I snuck it away into a cupboard. They haven't missed it yet.

stick me to the wall

Isn't if funny how * so many things happen in a day, and even though I had the presence of mind to grab my camera to record Cam sticking A to the wall, for the life of me, now that I wanted to write up what happened that was so funny, I can't remember. Weird. I'll have ask Cam if he can remember which random comment lead to this crazy moment after dinner last night?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

a little crafting

detail

cushion

I haven't done much sewing of late, so after an evening of surfing around the net {again} looking at pretty things, I decided that it was high time that I actually made something. The kids were all sound asleep, Cam wasn't home, it was the perfect opportunity.

I had just been looking at pictures of bedrooms on Pinterest, and it dawned on me that my orange carpet may just work with a white and grey colour scheme; so I pulled out a gorgeous wool fabric that was languishing in the stash, loaded up the machine, did a few measurements, and voila ~ a cushion for my future bedroom re-do.

Considering that I didn't bother with a zip, I just sewed the cushion insert in {if it ever needs a wash, I'll just unpick that seam} it probably took about half hour all up. Now I can sit back on the couch until bed time, happy in the knowledge that I have something to show for myself today!

Monday, 23 May 2011

organising their art

4 year old :: art

As any parent would know, it is a challenge trying to keep on top of all the creations that our kids present to us, there's {massive} paintings and collages coming home from kinder, very important learning sheets from school, mural sized art displays, and of course the prolific drawing that happens at home.

4 year old :: art

5¾ year old :: drawing

5¾ year old :: drawing

Up until now, I've had an awful time figuring out what to do with it all. I have a massive plastic tub in one of the cupboards stuffed full with 3 years worth of kinder paintings, I've had it piled on top of my fridge, in a blue ikea bag in the laundry, stuffed under paperwork, in binders, it's taking over my house!

Many people have suggested solutions... make it into wrapping paper, only keep the 'best'{?} ones, get the kids to choose their favourites, frame it and rotate the image regularly... all excellent suggestions; but still i've stalled.

My dilemma is that I love it all {ok, maybe not the carpet scraps glued to a bit of paper, but whatever} I love the growth and development that it shows in each of my children, I love watching the blobs start to develop faces and belly buttons, and then legs and arms, then fingers and a separate head. It truly is fascinating. I watch with interest whether the faces that my kids draw are smiling, or yelling, or frowning. I'm interested in the colours that they use, and how much of the paper they use... clearly I'm going to have trouble getting rid of any of their art.
Prep :: Art
But now I've finally found a solution that is working for me.

I have a blank area of wall in the dining room, and when I unload the worksheets from his school bag, or wrestle the {massive} kinder art that she's made, through the door, I pin it up on the wall with a few pieces of bluetac, take a photo of it, separate it into piles {landfill or recycle} and get rid of it. The brilliant part of this method {according to me} is that all of the files are dated, so from here on in I really will have a chronologically ordered record of their art|development to look back on and share with them, and it takes up next to no {physical} space, just a couple of external hard-drives.

Of course, I will keep the occasional piece of art {a little helicopter that angus drew in kinder springs straight to mind} but on the whole, I can feel guilt free getting the bulk of it out of my cupboards and out of my house; and believe me when I say, that there is a whole lot of weight off my mind.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

on the wall

ikea breakfast $1.95

The littlest and I took a trip into Ikea this morning, and as we were running a touch early {and my tummy was growling} we stopped for breakfast while we waited for the doors to open. The stingy part of me couldn't have been happier, for a mere $4.45 we both had full tummies, and were ready to shop.

After a little indicision, I settled on the Ribba 30x40 frames, 3 in black, 3 in silver & 6 in white, I also grabbed a few smaller ones for the school photos while I was there. Then it was off home, to trim a smidge of the sides of the mats {already fitted to the photos} so that they would fit in these {off the shelf} frames, and load them up.

Wow! Talk about the photos coming into their own once they are in the frame. Delighted would be a good word for how I'm feeling. Oh and sore, my poor fingers after bending all the fixtures at the backs of the frames, then fitting the hanging wires too. Boo! {oh hang on, ikea, cheap... Yay!}

I then spent a considerable amount of time moving three sheets of paper {cut to the size of the frame} around the wall, testing layout positions, and eventually settled on this...

ttv room view

hung

Now I just need to get the big family shot framed, and await delivery of one more print {and paint the lounge room walls} and we may see some more on the wall. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

are you [P]intrested?


There are so many blogs online that showcase products or looks that the author is interested in, and many of them I subscribe to, but for my space {here} it's never been something that I've been interested in doing. Sometimes I will mention that I have been inspired by a look or product, and sometimes I'll even show a product that I've bought {rarely} but now I've found a space where I can keep track of all the things on the web that I love!

You may have heard of it, you could already be a part of it, or you've heard of it and don't {yet} know what all the hype is about, OR you may not know what the heck I am talking about. Here, let me enlighten you{!}

I am {of course} referring to Pinterest, no longer the new kid on the block, and definitely showing signs that they have moved in and are here to stay.

I began my love affair with Pinterest late last year, but back then mine was a superficial love where I liked her for her pretty looks and where she could take me {aka the all page with a revolving selection of pinned images and the links embeded in them that took me all over the Internet, many places that I'd never been before}

But still I was wary, another online time suck? Could she commit to me as much as I would to her? Would our souls be linked?... I wasn't sure. So for months I saved pictures to my desktop and resisted becoming a member.

Until one day I realised, I had over 700 images in my folder, and I didn't know where most of them came from. I couldn't give due credit, {quelle horreur!}... so I requested in invitation to join...


and now I am all set up and 'populated' and more in love than ever.

To me it is a place to, not only, tap into to a huge amount of {pretty} inspiration, but also a hub to visually file all of my bookmarks. I can see something on the net, 'Pin It' to one of my boards, and then go back later and instantly find the link to that place. For example, I see a recipe online that I want to refer to at a later date, I pin it to my 'to eat' folder, and then when the urge strikes I know exactly which picture to click to link.

Another thing that I've noticed, just watching the 'trends' of what I pin, are some things that {while I know them} become blatantly apparent about my tastes :: if you have a look at my pins you may be surprised to find :: I like a muted colour scheme :: except when it comes to Rainbows {I ♥ rainbows} :: I like words and sayings :: I like the word fuck {a lot} :: I have a thing for food in jars :: and who knows what else...

Either way, come on over, have a look around, request your own invitation, pin away, and be my friend... See you there!

Monday, 16 May 2011

warm arms

warm hands

warm palms

warm arms

arm warmers

I saw a similar pair of arm warmers while out shopping a week or so back, and while they certainly weren't original {i've seen many similar on ravelry and fell in love with the pair that Alice wears in New Moon an eon ago} it took this little push of inspiration to get me straight onto the needles.

The weather has been rather chilly of late, and I love the idea of layering up my usual long-sleeve-tee with a scarf and some arm warmers, so I was quick to take a peek in the stash, find a snuggly ball of wool {straight from the sheeps back too, this one is not dyed, but taken from a flock of dark fleeced sheep} and cast right on... I didn't even do a gauge swatch, I just guessed and then tried them on as I knit, to make sure that I had the right lengths going on.

I am very happy with how they turned out, and wore them layered up this morning. Now back to the needles and onwards with the next article that I want to be wearing as soon as possible....

{top three photo credits belong to Angus!}
{arm warmers and corresponding 'pattern' raveled here}

Friday, 13 May 2011

our photos have arrived!

yay our photos have arrived

our bonus print

us

them... looking gorgeous

us

the big family shot

thank you jinky art

A very exciting day for me... my photos have arrived! Beautifully packaged, beautiful presented, beautifully captured. To say that I am delighted would be an understatement.

I love that we have this special time in our children's lives captured so beautifully, I can't tell you how much this process has been so wonderful to me. I was worried that with such high expectations of what Barb could do, that I was leaving myself open to being disappointed... I am so relieved to say that at no point of the process have I been disappointed, only delighted and inspired. So, so good...

[Our photos were captured by the amazingly talented Barb Uil of Jinky Art you can contact her here]

* now I just have to deal with the stress of finding the perfect white frames, at the perfect cost, so that I can get these babies up on our walls. Any help or suggestions on this front would be appreciated.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

fruits of my labours

green tomato chutney

Autumn 2011 potato harvest

Earlier in the week, while I was out harvesting my potatoes {which is still only partly done because now that it has rained and rained, the soil is so waterlogged that I can't dig through it), I had a pot of Green Tomato Chutney simmering on the stove*. Once it is safely in it's jar, it's supposed to age for about a week for the flavours to develop ~ but I didn't quite make it. On a bleak afternoon how could I resist making a few cheese & chutney crackers to savour?...

The result is a sweet and rich chutney, where the only improvement that I could suggest for next time, would be to cut the tomato and onion into small chunks (like the branston pickles that I so love) instead of the thin slices. But other than that, nothing, it is so yummy as it is.

Green Tomato Chutney
adapted from here
makes 2 x 270 ml jars
should keep for up to 6 months if bottled appropriately

INGREDIENTS
750 grams green tomatoes
250 grams red onions
2 teaspoons table salt
500ml malt vinegar
250 grams brown sugar
125 grams sultanas, roughly chopped
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (or 6 grinds)

METHOD
• Finely slice green tomatoes, discarding any rotten or discoloured bits. Remove onion skins and finely slice the onion flesh. Place the tomato and onion in a bowl and mix together with the salt. Cover with cling wrap and leave in the fridge overnight so that the salt can draw the liquid from the tomato.
• The next day :: place the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil.
• Add the sultanas to the simmering vinegar, then bring back to the boil.
• Take your tomatoes from the fridge, remove the cling-wrap and drain off any liquid. Do not rinse as this will introduce more water. Add the tomato mixture to the saucepan, add pepper and combine well.
• Bring the mixture to a gentle boil for 1½ to 2 hours, stirring regularly. The goal is to reduce the liquid to a thick mixture and allow for enough time to soften the tomato and onion.
Prepare your jars while you are waiting for the chutney to reduce.
• Once your chutney is thick enough {ie: once you can pass your spoon along the bottom of the saucepan, and you can see the bottom for a little while afterwards} then you are ready to transfer the chutney into your jars.
• Holding your jars with oven mits, carefully fill with the chutney then tap the jar on the bench to remove any air bubbles. Seal appropriately.

* being made in collaboration with my sister, who made sure to stir the pot every so often, while it reduced down to a lovely, sticky chutney.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

getting cozy

cozy

My goodness, wasn't it cold today?... and it's not even Winter yet.

While Angus was at school*, Daisy at Nanna-Gill's, and Mia tucked in for her afternoon sleep, you could find me here, right in the space between my knitting, hot cup of tea and the heater.

Keeping cozy.

* he was supposed to go on an excursion to Healesville Sanctuary today, imagine all those little preps out for their first excursion in this crummy weather!?! Thankfully {I found out when I picked him up from school} it was cancelled at the last minute due to the inclement weather. Instead he spent the day following the 'rainy day time-table' and was delighted by the idea.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

[trying to be] in the garden

potato plant all died back

ready to harvest

I've been watching the foliage on my potato plants die back for the last few weeks, and although I've fossicked out a few of the spuds for various reasons, I was waiting a little longer in the hope that the tubers would grow just a little bit more.

It's reached the point that I doubt they are growing any more and I don't want to waste all of my effort and have the potatoes rot in the ground, so with the weather so mild {fresh, cold but not raining or windy} it was the perfect opportunity to get out and see what was hiding under all of that soil.

[to be continued...]

* and for those of you who wondered how my slice went?... there were rave reviews, it was one of the first items to sell, and I had a few people complement me on it the next day, as well as ask for the recipe... so maybe I'm not crazy after all *wink*

Monday, 9 May 2011

competitive vs. being a pleaser

I was standing at my kitchen bench this morning, packing slice for the school prep cake stall, thinking to myself "what is wrong with me?"...

The Afternoon Tea Pack

Let me explain.

Last week a notice came home from school asking parents of prep kids to donate a cake, slice or biscuits to the {fundraising} prep cake stall. The notice stated that 'cupcakes tend to sell best'; well I couldn't be bothered making cupcakes {what with Mothers Day being the day before the stall} so I advised the organiser that I was happy to make a couple of slices ~ she said that was fine, but also pointed out that slices don't always sell very well. I asked her if I should cut them fancy, {like in the cafes' 1x3" rectangles} but she said, oh no, just cut them into the usual chunks {not very fancy at all!}

The Kid Pack

I made sure that I was organised in advance, and dragged the kids off to the supermarket on Saturday {=chaos, noisy chaos} to gather supplies, then once home I promptly forgot about the whole thing... until Sunday night. Mothers Day done {tick} and I'm ready to sit and take a load off until bed time, until I quickly check my schedule for Monday "Prep Cake Stall" {insert expletive here!}

So I spent the remainder of my Sunday night making a double batch of Mars Bar Slice and a Lemon Slice, and making a fine mess of the kitchen too.

I awoke this morning, to 'no healthy food options for school lunches', 'no clean clothes for dressing kid for school', and a kitchen that looked like a tornado had been through; did I jump in a get it sorted?... we sort of, but first... {and this is the part where I found myself questioning "what is wrong with me"}

ready for delivery

I cut each slice into {exactly} 2x2" squares, using my quilting ruler and a large chef knife, then I cut a 2" wide strip of baking paper with my guillotine {again using the quilting ruler}, then I packaged a piece of lemon slice & a piece of mars bar slice together using the baking paper, and tied them up with string. They looked pretty impressive {if I do say so myself} and I just knew that my slices would sell. I wanted to label each one with "The Afternoon Tea Pack" but seriously, it was probably more important to get my kids to kinder/school on time {oh, and dressed and with food on board too} so I had to settle myself with boxing up the slices in a pretty box and adding a label on top.

Seriously! "What is wrong with me?!?*"

* obviously asked tongue-in-cheek! I'm very insightful, I know exactly what is wrong with me, as said by my best friend, you are just a freak, a very nice one, but a freak all the same!