Tuesday, June 29, 2010

cameraless adventures...

Photo taken by my dad (check out his new book)

We had a pretty amazing trip back to Melbourne this weekend but foolishly I left my camera at home. We went to an engagement party, met our friend's new baby daughter and took the kid's for a ride on an old fashioned steam train. The train was such fun, like being on the Hogwarts Express, only more crowded and without any magic. I thought the whole thing had gone over Minty's head because she was silent for the whole journey but the next day she told me 'we went on the train and I was very quiet so I wouldn't scare the smoke away'. She hasn't stopped talking about it since and keeps asking if we can all go on the train together again, so it was clearly a hit after all.

These are some little red shoes I made for our friend's baby daughter, Elodie Grace. She is such a sweet little poppet, I wish I'd had a chance to take her picture.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

heart attack on a plate...

Minty and I made chocolate cake today. We used this recipe which comes from Molly Wizenberg's 'A Homemade Life'.

What can I say? This cake is intense. Possibly it should even come with a health warning on the side similar to a packet of cigarettes, only instead of graphic pictures of mouth and lung cancer, it would depict someone vomiting while their heart is being shocked back into rhythm. But if Rosemary Stanton is your idea of the Anti-Christ this is the cake for you. It is a true inversion of the food pyramid, containing vast quantities of all the 'good fats' - butter, eggs, sugar and of course chocolate. My soon to be 'late' husband polished off half the cake this afternoon and has been heard periodically murmuring 'that's gooooood cake' as he potters about the house.

Molly apparently made this as her wedding cake (which made me feel a little sentimental while I was baking). It certainly isn't the first thing I'd think of as a wedding cake - it isn't a show stopper in terms of presentation, with nary a fondant flower in sight, and frankly looks a little like an old boot. But it certainly does pass as a special occasion cake in terms of flavour and with an extra pinch of love stirred in, who am I to judge?

This cake is very easy to make - there are no complicated steps, you only use one bowl and stir everything by hand. This meant Minty could be involved through the whole process and had a lot of fun… though waiting for the cake to be cooked was unsurprisingly a little challenging for her.

Also I should probably mention that my cake took 45 minutes to cook… which was almost double the recommended cooking time. What the…?? I suspect my oven may have been up to it's usual tricks… it likes to keep me on my toes whilst baking.

Monday, June 21, 2010

when noodle necklaces turn bad...

We were in need of an indoor activity to keep us occupied this afternoon. I had the brilliant idea that we could make some noodle necklaces.

First we died the noodles. To do this, put some white vinegar in containers and colour it with food dye. Pop the noodles in and wait until they reach the desired colour and then put them on some paper towel or newspaper to dry out. This first step was great fun - we mixed all sorts of different colours and Minty had great fun dropping the noodles in. I should however of had some inkling of where this activity would end up when Minty announced, 'mmm these smell yummy'.

Next step was to thread the necklaces. We used some string tied to a spoon so that the rigatoni wouldn't fall off the other end of the string as we threaded.

We got as far as threading one noodle and then Minty decided she wanted to taste the noodles. After licking an orange noodle she declared, 'it tastes like a tiger', which I can only imagine means it tasted like cat hair. I attempted to move the activity along by demonstrating making my own necklace. Minty however wasn't interested and instead went on to announce that the purple noodle tasted like a walrus. In the end I was forced to confiscate them before she ingested an entire bowl of highly coloured raw noodles. This was the reaction...

Shortly after this photo was taken, unbeknownst to me, Minty thieved the necklace I had made and went behind the couch for a lovely snack of tiger noodles.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Portrait: washing thief

My parents came to visit today and my wonderful/amazing/fantabulous dad gave me a much needed hand with painting our 'navy coffin'. Sadly I am not wonder woman (though thank Christ I don't have to wear blue hot pants) and trying to do all the renovating by myself whilst tending to the demands of two 'lively' kidlets was proving impossible. Inspired by '60 minute makeover' dad was a force to be reckoned with and got a phenomenal amount of work done in the short time they were here. There is still a fair bit of work to be done but the end is now in sight. Thanks Dad! xx

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Conversation with Minty: a flair for the dramatic

Whilst attempting to stop Minty from 'checking on' Turi while he slept I grabbed hold of her ankle...

Minty [commanding]: release my foot!


A threat was issued while I was trying to tidy up some glitter from the table...

Minty: don't wipe my sparkles... it's dangerous


Hypochondria sets in...

Me: Your cough sounds terrible
Minty: It's a dying sound


Channeling Veruca Salt at bedtime...

Minty: I want a million dollars made out of chocolate, and a necklace... and a penguin.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cake stencilling - the sequel

As promised, here is another idea for using a cake stencil (method explained here). This look is quite graphic and bold. It is a lemon cake filled with lemon curd that I made a while back. I'd have to say this cake is a contender as one of my favourite cakes I've ever made. Sadly I no longer have the recipe because my leaky kitchen ceiling flooded my only copy and it was destroyed.

R.I.P. lemon curd cake recipe - you are sadly missed.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

4 hours sleep and another ice-cream cake...

It's been a whirlwind of a long weekend. Back to Melbourne on Saturday for my dad and bro-in-law Alex's birthdays, one of my good friends came down to stay with us on the island on Sunday and Monday brought a visit from my oldest sister and (her son) the kid's cousin Nick. On top of all this fun and festivity, little Turi is battling a horrid cold and will not sleep. As any parent knows, babies have an issue with mouth breathing so a stuffy nose is disproportionately distressing for the whole family. I am currently averaging about four hours sleep per night (and not in one block), so if this post makes very little sense and lacks wit and insight that is my excuse.

Onto more interesting topics, of the cake variety...

My dad seemed quite excited by my first ice-cream cake adventure so I decided to surprise him with one for his birthday. I had to restrain my natural tendency to go a little over the top with flavour intensity (more is more is generally my motto) as mum had advised me to keep things classic. So I went with a layer of chocolate and a layer of vanilla ice-cream topped with chocolate ganache. Both ice-cream recipes were from David Lebovitz's 'The Perfect Scoop' (oh how I love this book!). If you want more detailed instructions on how to make an ice-cream cake I've written about it here. I won't repeat myself again lest I bore you all.

For decoration I stencilled the letter E (because E is for excellent and incidentally also my dad's initial) on the top with icing sugar. Stencilling is one of my favourite ways to decorate a cake. I think it adds a sophisticated touch. To do this you basically just draw or print out your design (I used Renaissance font) and then use a craft knife to cut out all the black sections. It is probably a good idea to make the stencil out of something sturdier than regular printer paper if the design is more complex. Lay the stencil on the cake and dust icing sugar with a fine sieve. Carefully remove the stencil. If you get some runaway icing sugar flecks you can attempt to brush them off with a pastry brush. I'll share with you another cake stencilling idea tomorrow.

Happy birthday dad and Alex! I hope you enjoyed the cake!

Friday, June 11, 2010

conversation with Minty... is there an echo in here?

Minty bringing me my laptop: I want an Elmo bideo

Me attempting to take back the laptop: no, not right now sweetheart

Minty: No, no, NO! Don't say no! I will be cross with you! You don't touch it! Little girls don't touch it.

Later, after spilling a glass of milk...

Minty: Oh man! Shoot!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

flagrant attempt to be sent a free book...

I've always loved Heidi (the museum of modern art not the book or trashy star on the Hills). The wonderful architecture (gotta love a conversation pit), the inspiring art, the gardens, but perhaps most of all I love the stories of the people who lived there. Minty was very nearly named Sunday after Sunday Reed. So when I saw this cookbook my heart skipped a beat. Here is a little excerpt from the blurb...

A passionate cook and gardener, who believed in home-grown produce, seasonal cooking and a communal table, Sunday created a pastoral paradise where big ideas could be explored both on canvas, in books and across the table.

Sunday's Kitchen is a superb collection of art, photographs of the artists in their much-loved home and garden - many previously unpublished - and simple home recipes from Sunday’s personal collection.

And it's on sale at Readings for $39.95! I really must have it.

Surely the publisher/author/bookshop/gallery could send me a free copy for giving the book such a fantastic plug?? No?? *sigh*

In other news... I bought very dark midnight blue paint for our bedroom. I feel somewhat panicky just thinking about it. Too late to chicken out now though.

And in case anyone was feeling sad that there wasn't a cute photo in this post... here is a picture of my little helper at the computer...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Turi is on the move. He has been rolling for months but this past week he has taken it up a notch. When I pop him down on the floor, if I turn around or step away I'm never quite sure where he'll be when I get back - peeking out from under the coffee table, tangled up in his play mat or chewing on an age inappropriate toy of Minty's that he's discovered. And you know what? If I have to be up before dawn I can't think of a more enjoyable way to spend the time than adventuring around the living room with this little person.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

cuddles with Grandi...

I've been absent the last couple of days because little Minty had some kind of foul lurgy. Let's just say she reenacted a certain famous scene from the Exorcist all over her father. All is well now, although the whole family is somewhat sleep deprived.

I just thought I'd write a quick post and share with you this sweet photo I took today of little Turi with his Grandi.

Apologies to everyone I owe an email... I promise I'll write soon!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

sticky business

Alright peeps, time for another toddler friendly craft activity. This one is super fun and was a big hit with Minty. We made our own glue! It's like a child friendly cross between PVA and clag. I'd been a bit hesitant to do craft activities with glue because I was worried Minty would accidentally (or maybe even intentionally) ingest some, so this is the perfect solution. It is made entirely with food products so even if your kid swallows a whole spoonful you don't need to stress.

Glue Recipe (found here)
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon vinegar

Mix everything together, then warm on the stove until it thickens. You can store this in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

We then used our glue to make a picture with all sorts of dried beans and lentils. If your child was a bit older you could get them to draw a picture and then get them to fill in each colour with a different bean. Since that kind of discipline is way beyond Minty's current skill level her work was more of a free form homage to pulses. It was a really lovely way of playing with textures. I can't wait to try out our glue on some other fun projects - the possibilities are infinite.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

in which we eat peanut butter in dusty robes...

Day six without a washing machine. We are officially drowning in a sea of dirty laundry. Perhaps unsurprisingly the kids have ignored my requests to keep their clothes clean so we can rewear them. A well-meaning devout member of the baptist playgroup we attend told me that God doesn't throw anything at us that we can't handle, and while I don't believe in any kind of a God that concerns himself with my laundry, I am attempting to adopt the kind of saintly attitude that allows me to take such challenges gracefully in my stride. After all Jesus didn't have a washing machine, although I'm sure the other mothers didn't look askance at Mary if she sent Jesus down the street in a dusty robe. Looks like we might have to haul ourselves over to the laundromat tomorrow.

I know I said yesterday I was going to make a pie… but we didn't have any cream on hand, and what's pie without cream?? We did however, happen to have exactly 85grams of cocoa left… the precise amount needed to make these rich, moist chocolate cupcakes (if that's not a sign I don't know what is). And because I am feeling more sinner than saint this evening I decided to top them with some decidedly wicked, decadent creamy peanut butter frosting (surely the gluttons frosting of choice).

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup (130g) peanut butter

1/4 cup (55g) softened butter

1 cup (125g) icing sugar

1-2 tablespoons milk

Put the peanut butter and butter in an electric mixer. Beat until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, adding the milk as necessary if it gets too thick. Beat for about 3 minutes until a smooth consistency.

Come back tomorrow for some highly amusing photos...