Thursday, July 29, 2010

In which we are introduced to Barry...

Minty has an imaginary friend. His name is Barry and he pretty much does everything with her. She carries her hand out to one side when she walks, 'holding' Barry's hand. She feeds him, brushes his teeth, takes him to the potty, and holds conversations with him. Yesterday she cried and when I asked her what was wrong she told me she couldn't find Barry. I told her he was probably just playing hide and seek, so she spent about an hour searching the house for him and calling his name. Eventually we 'found' him in the backyard later in the afternoon. Today she took a little tumble and told me Barry was playing a silly game and had pushed her over.

For the most part Barry is a stand up kind of fellow. He tends to encourage good behaviour and a sense of responsibility in Minty as she likes to make sure he is safe and well looked after. Occasionally however, Barry can be a little annoying. Sometimes he commits the cardinal sin of sitting in my spot on the couch so I have to sit somewhere else. And sometimes if we are sharing some food I'm not allowed to eat a certain piece that is reserved for Barry. He can also be quite demanding when it comes to menu requests, with a penchant for quesadillas and hummus.

I'm not sure how long Barry will be a guest in our home but I'm trying to make him welcome for the duration.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ice-cream Social: finally finished!

I've finally finished my ice-cream blouse. All in all I'm pretty happy with the results. The gathers aren't perfect but really you'd only notice if you were studying it up close. I really should have read Amy's post about this before I started because I probably would have done a much better job. I had my stitch length set too short which meant it was really hard to pull the gathering threads out after it was finished.

Most importantly Minty seems to really like it. It is lovely and soft and easy to wear. She can still get up to all her usual mischief but looks a lot more stylish than the manky old t-shirts she usually gets around in. I love that it gives a bit of coverage over her shoulders so I won't have to stress as much about sun burn when the summer time hits.

I'll definitely use this pattern again. I'm planning on making view B out of silk for a wedding at the end of the year (similar to this one).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

mmm coconut...

What I look like when I'm cooking (of course)... ahem.

For some time now I have been on the search for a home-made alternative to the heinz fruit stick. Those of you with small children will know that these are like crack cocaine for toddlers. I only have to mention the words fruit stick and Minty will basically do whatever I ask her to. I do however feel somewhat uneasy about feeding her something so frighteningly processed, not to mention the fact that they are ridiculously expensive and virtually sending me broke.

My latest attempt at a replacement is Bill Ganger's coconut and chocolate slice from his book Feed me now! This recipe is really quick and downright delicious. I almost didn't bother writing this post because I was too busy chomping these babies down.

After a quick google search I discovered various sites claiming coconut as the cure for everything from AIDs and goiter to sore throats and constipation. So while these do have a bit of sugar and chocolate in them, I am marking them down in the healthy column.

And as an added bonus the slice is nut free so I can safely take it as a snack to playgroup. Hooray!

250g unsweetened desiccated coconut

220g caster sugar

100g melted butter

2 eggs lightly beaten

150g dark chocolate cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 180C. In a large bowl mix the sugar and coconut. Add the butter and eggs and stir to combine. Mix in the chocolate. Press into a baking tray (20x30cm) lined with baking paper. Bake for 20mins. Allow to cool in tray for 5mins. Cut into squares. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to eat another piece...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ice-cream social: Day 7 disaster strikes...

Note to self: do not operate sewing machine after 10pm.

I had an unmitigated sewing disaster. I was sewing around the neckline and thinking to myself what I capital job I was doing of the whole thing when I glanced down and realised I was sewing the lining of the yoke inside out. The seam ripper and I soon became fast friends.

As is often the case when I sew clothing I have renewed respect for sweat shop workers. It really is criminal that we pay so little for garments that are so precisely pieced together. I feel like sending a little thank you note and a fruit basket to the workers who have done such a fine job of sewing the trousers I am currently wearing.

Despite all the drama I've now finally caught up to the sewing schedule.

I have used french seams for the bodice. Why is it that when you add 'french' in front of a word it elevates it to new and glamourous heights? Take for example, french toast, french stick, french fries, french press, or french kiss. French seams are no exception. Such a lovely finish to the inside of a garment. The oliver+s tutorial is really helpful if you're new to this technique.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ice-cream Social: Day 5 and I still haven't hit the sewing machine...

Internet is back up and running - hooray!! It has been 5 weeks and around 20 hours on the phone since we first changed our internet plan to Telstra but it is finally working. I could bore you all with a litany of my internet woes, or share with you an open letter to Telstra (something along the lines of: Dear Telstra, I hate you) but I will spare you the pain.

Onto more interesting things. I'm somewhat behind in the ice-cream social schedule. My dress pattern only just arrived yesterday so I am frantically trying to catch up ground. I've opted to sew view C, which is the simple blouse because I'm trying to be a realist and in my current sleep deprived, and addled state I feel like this might be all I can achieve this week. My fabric is from Heather Ross' far far away line. While it is super sweet and a dreamy texture I am feeling a little nervous about sewing with double gauze. I'm planning to be very zen about the whole thing and hoping my vocabulary isn't reduced to a series of curse words during the sewing process.

Last night I traced the pattern onto a roll of grease proof paper in an effort to preserve the original pattern in tact for future use (this stuff seriously takes me back to my days studying architecture… glad it could come in handy for something!!). Unfortunately I then placed the pattern on top of a spilled splodge of pureed apple so my efforts for pattern preservation were somewhat in vain. Never mind. I guess these are the joys of living with two tiny humans.

I'm now at the point where I'm ready to sew but I've had to pack it in for the night. My dear husband has replaced all the light globes in our house with LEDs which I'm sure is fantastic for our carbon footprint but unfortunately not so conducive to night time sewing sessions. I'm having trouble matching my thread colour to the fabric in this 'mood' lighting.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Technical Difficulties

We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties with our internet connection. Things should return to normal (fingers crossed) some time on Wednesday. But until then I won't be posting, some of the photos on the blog may not load and I can't reply to your emails.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Honey Toast Cupcakes

After the underwhelming response to the cupcake vote I decided I was heading down the wrong path. I was feeling uninspired. Though all my original flavour choices would probably have been great they just didn't feel like they suited my mum. You see mum is a bit of a health nut. She power walks every day, does pilates and weights, eats a salad every day for lunch and hardly ever consumes anything even remotely unhealthy. Her one vice is honey toast. She can't get enough of the suff. If by some bizarre turn of events she ended up on death row I suspect she would even request it as her last meal. So after a flash of inspiration I set about trying to create a honey toast cupcake.

I started out with a honey cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart. I've simplified it a little because I didn't want to complicate the honey flavour with lemon or cinnamon. Originally I was going to frost these with honey buttercream but decided the honey flavour in the cake was dominant enough so I opted for a plain buttercream. What makes these honey 'toast' cupcakes as opposed to just a honey cupcake is the topping. I was inspired by the process used for making bread and butter ice-cream (check out my method below). Oh and in case you were wondering, these cakes are absolutely in no way healthy or low-fat (it's a birthday after all so I point blank refuse to scrimp on calories).

These are the mini version of the cakes I made for the kiddies and dieters

Honey cupcakes - Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

250g cake flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

112.5g caster sugar

50g brown sugar

212.5g honey

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 160 C.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Mix with a whisk.
Combine eggs and sugars on a high speed in an electric mixer until pale and thick.
Add the honey and mix until well combined.
Add the milk and oil. Mix until well combined.
Add the flour to the wet mixture in two batches. Mix until everything is just combined. Avoid over mixing.
Fill cupcake pans 3/4 full. Bake for approx. 25 mins.

Buttercream Frosting

113.5g slightly softened butter

450g icing sugar

1/4 cup milk

Whip the butter in your electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add half the sugar and mix again until combined. Add a little of the milk if needed to help incorporate the sugar. Slowly add the remaining sugar and continue mixing. Gradually add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.


80g brown bread crumbed in food processor

80g brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 200C. Liberally grease a baking tray with butter. Sprinkle tray with bread crumbs and sugar. Combine with your hands. Place in oven for approx 12 minutes. Turn the crumbs a couple of times during cooking to avoid sticking. The crumbs will become crisp and golden. Avoid overcooking because they will become bitter.

Happy Birthday Mum! I hope you enjoyed your cupcakes!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

in which Minty channels humpty dumpty and I get social sewing style...

You may have noticed there haven't been very many sewing posts around here lately. Honestly I've kind of lost my sewing mojo. In an effort to rekindle the magic I've joined the ice-cream social Oliver+S Ice Cream Dress sew along (if you click the picture above it will take you directly to the flickr group). I only just ordered my pattern and fabric today so I have a horrid feeling it won't arrive in time for the start of the sew along.

In other less cheerful news, Minty cracked her head open today. She was bouncing along the couch when suddenly she bounced a little too high and flew half way across the room like a rag doll and landed head first on the corner of her trolley. As she was bouncing I was giving her a stern lecture about the dangers of bouncing on the couch. It was one of those rare occasions when I don't enjoy being right. She's ok now, just feeling somewhat sorry for herself and sporting an unsightly bloody lump on her forehead.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

mish mash...

Here is a random, disjointed collection of thoughts because (you guessed it) I am once again operating on no sleep, and this written chaos is reflective of my state of mind.

Turi cut his first tooth last night and frankly from the amount of screaming anyone would have thought he was enduring the final stages of labour and begging for an epidural. Talk about low tolerance for pain. I swear if he wasn't so dang cute I'd be telling him to whack some bonjella on it and suck it up. But then I see those sweet little eyes and I can't help but feel a little sorry for him.

Minty is up to her usual antics. Lately she has started nagging to go surfing. She takes all her clothes of and when she is stark naked declares, 'I'm all ready to go, get my surf board!'. Heaven knows where she got the idea that nudity was appropriate beach attire. I blame the shots of scantily clad women on the ASP world tour.

And speaking of beach attire... I am smitten with these french patterns. I pretty much love all of them. I was thinking I might buy this sweet dress (see picture below) and this one to make some beach coverups for Minty in time for summer. I'm wondering whether it's going to be a problem that I don't speak french??? Also thinking I need to start tying Minty's hair up in a tiny top knot… tres joli!

It's my mum's birthday on the weekend and I'm going to make her a cake (well some cupcakes to be more precise). I'm having a little trouble deciding on what flavour to make and thought perhaps I could put it to you good people for a vote. The cake contenders are as follows:

1.dark chocolate cupcakes frosted with mint chantilly cream

2.brown sugar vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting marmalade filled cupcakes

4.lemon buttermilk cupcakes filled with lemon curd and topped with cream cheese frosting

Cast your vote in the comments section bellow (mum your vote obviously has a bit more swing).

When I was googling for cake inspiration I came across this (found here)…

I think it is perhaps the most horrifying cake I have ever seen… and yet I have this odd desire to make it. Let me know if you have an upcoming event for which it would be appropriate and I'll whip one up. I'm thinking bachelor party, poker night, kegger, or USA themed costume party, though mum if you'd like to forgo your cupcakes I can always whip you one up for the weekend!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Terror Alert Level Red

A warning is issued...
Minty (muses): I could poo in mummy's bag... that would be fun!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

In which I perform a minor miracle...

I have made an amazing discovery. I'm practically Chris Columbus. If you can all cast your minds back a few months you'll remember my 5 minute bread fiasco (five minute, schmive minute!). This time I've found a bread recipe that actually lives up to it's claims.

Enter 3 minute spelt bread.

I shit you not people, this bread literally takes 3 minutes to make. All you have to do is throw everything in the bowl, mix it up and put it straight in the oven. There is no kneading, no rising time, no slashing the bread, sprinkling of polenta, no swearing or flicking of the wrist as you attempt to slide an uncooperative loaf onto a pizza stone. Not since Jesus turned water into wine has there been such a culinary miracle. I don't know how it works but it really does.

And perhaps the most exciting thing about all this is that the bread actually tastes good. Everyone in the family liked it, including my notoriously picky husband. Minty even went so far as attempting to pick a piece of it back out of my mouth while shouting, 'Don't eat it!! It's MINE!!' It's a bit like one of those fancy loaves you pay $6 for at the health food store. And you know what? Even if it had taken me three hours instead of three minutes I would be planning to make it again.

So without further ado here is my adaptation of the recipe from The Daily Telegraph (I only had 400g of spelt flour on hand so I've adjusted the quantities for a smaller loaf and omitted the sunflower seeds)

400g spelt flour

40g linseeds

40g sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

8g fast acting dry yeast

400ml warm water

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Mix all ingredients, adding the water last. Put into greased loaf tin. Bake in oven for 1 hour. Remove the loaf, turn it out of the tin and then return it to the oven without the tin for a further 5-10mins.

Seriously that is all you have to do. Try it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

too cool for school...

It would seem that even after seeing the pictures from yesterday's post some of you remain unconvinced about the awesomeness of chalkboard paint (shocking I know). So to all those chalk wall haters I challenge you to rent 500 days of Summer, watch it and then come back and tell me you still don't want to repaint your bedroom walls with chalk paint.

Now that we're all on the same page again, here are a few more inspirational pictures...

Image sources (clockwise from top left): wardrobe at Domicidal Maniac; wall gallery from It's Great to Be Home; bathroom at ohdeedoh; fridge at cTc design; door at The Style Files; and kid's room from perrymichelle

And for those of you concerned about chalk dust perhaps you could consider wiping the chalk off with a damp cloth and giving the room a vacuum once in a while.

Monday, July 5, 2010


I've fallen in love with these quilts over at anthropologie. Sadly the reviews all indicate that they are poorly made and fall apart so I'm wondering if I can make something similar. I have etsy RSI from searching for fabrics. It's hard to find anything with the same colour palette and feel. The closest I've come is Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks and Little Folks lines. Does anyone have any other fabric suggestions?

Oh and I just have to mention how awesome I think these chalkboard walls look!! I'm totally going chalkboard next time I redecorate my bedroom!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Friday, July 2, 2010

in which Minty is a little a bag lady...

Minty is currently consumed with the idea of flying a kite. It started with Mary Poppins and was further ingrained with the antics of Thing One and Thing Two. Recently in my travels around the blogosphere I stumbled across the idea (here) of creating a windless 'kite'. Basically it is a plastic bag tied to a string. The air catches in the bag so it will fly even on the stillest of days. I have to admit when I first read about this idea I thought it was kinda tragic. I mean the idea of making my child drag an old plastic bag around the street in lieu of a kite seemed borderline abusive. However after trying it and seeing little Minty's eyes light up with the wild thrill of adventure I had to change my mind. I guess I shouldn't project my adult materialism onto her untainted soul. Although I just have to say the whole thing did feel disturbingly like that scene from American Beauty where they stand around with a video camera shooting an old bag floating in the wind...

Credit for these photos has to go to my husband. I was busy trying to calm Turi who wasn't enjoying the kite flying expedition quite so much.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

in which I become an actress and we make rainbow crayons...

The icy weather this past week has meant we've spent a lot of time indoors. Minty spends the day ordering me around like some kind of crazed, overly demanding hollywood director, 'You're a fairy. Fly, FLY! …hang on, you need a hat… Fly, FLY!', then 'you're a cow, moo! You come over me', followed shortly by 'now you're a frog, hop… NOOO hop over there!!!'. Turi is as yet too young to be cast in any meaningful speaking role and spends his day as an extra hiding out under the clothes horse which he has claimed as his personal fort (bless the little soul for finding one advantage of the cold weather).

So today I needed to save my sanity and find something to occupy Minty in order to save myself from another hour acting as a camel while we hunted for tigers and giants or some other equally unlikely scenario. Our activity of choice was a great way to turn some trash into treasure…

We go through crayons like they're going out of fashion. Inevitably we end up with a tub of broken crayon amputees. We decided to give them a new lease of life by remoulding them into some multicoloured beauties. Basically we just broke the crayons up into small pieces and popped them in a cupcake tin lined with foil cases. Then into the oven until everything was nice and melted. Just one word of warning… you have to wait until these are COMPLETELY cool until you take these out of their cases. Patience is really not one of my strong suits and I got a little tempted to 'check' one… let's just say I ended up with one finger encased in green crayon which I then had to try and pick off… yeah I'm clever.