Monday, April 26, 2010

ANZAC Biscuits

Yesterday we spent an enjoyable, albeit showery and chilly, afternoon at a friend's place connecting with other Australian and New Zealand expats for our annual ANZAC day celebration.  ANZAC day is a very special day for us antipodean folk.  ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and the 25th April marks the date that the troops landed at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915 for what became an extended, and ultimately, failed attempt to capture Constantinople (Istanbul).   That is a reader's digest version obviously and, if you are interested in such things, a more thorough explanation can be found here.


Anyway, one part of the celebration is the appearance of the iconic ANZAC biscuit (we call a cookie a biscuit in Australia).  These were said to be baked by family at home and sent to the troops as they travel well.  These are simple, easy and delicious.  I am not sure if you can buy golden syrup in the US though so I will have to look into what you might be able to replace it with in the recipe.

ANZAC biscuits

125g (4oz) butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (bicarb soda)
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 cup rolled oats (not quick cook variety)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup plain flour (all purpose)

Mix oats, sugar, coconut and flour in a bowl.  Heat butter and golden syrup in a small pan until butter is melted.  Add baking soda to hot water and then add that mix to the butter and golden syrup.  Add this mixture to the dry stuff and mix well.  Scoop teaspoons of mixture onto baking tray and bake in a slow oven (150C, 300F) until golden (about 15 - 20 mins). Leave to cool on tray (or leave to cool a little on tray - until they are hard enough to move - then put them on a cooling rack until totally cool).  Fend off hands from every direction trying to scoff them all at once.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Felt keychain

First things first, note to self:  Never announce a giveaway unless you have already made the item and done the tutorial and have them ready to post!!!  Before life gets in the way...  Yeesh.



Here is a quickie post while I can squeeze in 5 mins between bathing kids.  This is a felt keychain I made my niece as part of a birthday present (even if I can't get the whole present made I usually like to add in something handmade).  I was inspired by these by Aisyah over at My Tinker Space (she has loads of great tutorials and crochet patterns and other stuff - go check her out!).  I have seen these around the traps quite a bit and used these cute ribbon offcuts to inspire my felt circle colours.  This was super easy and I love doing the handstitching around the circles.  So relaxing to me. I really like how this one turned out but am not 100% happy with the proportions so will try another one as well.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Homemade crayons


Look what we made today!  We just broke up a bunch of old crayons and put them into mini muffin tin cups then melted them in the oven on very low.  So easy and the kids have fun doing it and then using them afterwards.  Lord A doesn't often use crayons but he really liked these.

p.s.  Tutorial and giveaway coming up tomorrow!

Conversation with Lord A

Conversation with Lord A while snuggling before falling asleep last night:

A - How do you fix a tree?
M – What is wrong with it?
A – It is broken
M – You can’t fix it I don’t think if it is split down the middle or something
*pause*
A – Yes, you can fix it.  The tree fixer can do it.  He uses a squilar.  A squilar fixes it and a tiemotor.  Then, another tree fixer comes along and he has squares.  He gives squares to the first tree fixer and they fix it together.
M – Hmm, I see.
*pause*
A – and then they put a jacket on it.  They put a jacket on it so it doesn’t get dirty from shirts.
M – Yes, well, that would be important, wouldn’t it?
*pause while Mummy runs out of room to write conversation down before it carries on and she knows she won’t remember it all*

Darn it, he fell asleep before I could get back and listen for further developments in the story….

Friday, April 16, 2010

Smoky quartz

I went shopping for gifts for two people today.  Only one person is receiving their gift......this one is mine now.... mwaahaahaaahaa (insert evil laugh)


Oh, I fell in love with that beautiful smoky quartz pendant.

We have this wonderful jeweller here that makes really lovely stuff with semi-precious stones and mostly sterling silver.  You can get 18K gold as well but I prefer the look of silver.  He makes to order as well and is pretty darn cheap.  This little beauty cost less than $50.  I will have to go back and buy a different one for the gift now.....

p.s.  I haven't forgotten about my giveaway!  I am trying to decide what to give!  Decisions, decisions....

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ric rac dahlia hairclips


I saw these absolutely GORGEOUS ric rac dahlia's over at my blogosphere friend, LoLo's, blog awhile ago and have been dying to try it out.  Problem is, all I have is one teeny little bit of ric rac (less than 1m).  So, I decided to make life difficult for myself and make teeny little dahlia's for hairclips.  Honestly, they weren't too bad but I am sure bigger ones wouldn't be so fiddly.  Also, I am pretty sure my ric rac is poly cotton and not as nice and soft as 100% cotton so that made it a bit trickier too.  Anyway, despite that, I am really happy with how these turned out!  It was hard to get a staggered effect so I kind of lost the actual 'dahlia' effect a bit but all in all it still worked fine.  I love the effect of using a patterned ric rac too.  I will be making a large one for a brooch for myself as soon as I get access to some more.


Here is the back.  I added a felt circle that I cut slits into, put onto my hairclips and then glued and stitched onto the back of the ric rac dahlia.


Also, I just noticed that I have made my century in followers (cricketing reference for people who know anything about cricket) so, to celebrate and say thanks, I think I will hold a giveaway in the next couple of days.  Stay tuned!

Simple farewell party


We recently held a farewell (despedida) party for our very good friends leaving Uruguay (boo hoo).  I just added some very simple, and mainly paper, decorations to add a little bit of atmosphere to our party.  Our friends are moving to Asia so I went with a (very) loose asian/mainly chinese theme.

For the tables, I hung different sized tissue paper pompoms above them and, on the actual table, a chinese bowl with a floating chrysanthemum, a glass jar holding a candle got a simple chinese paper lantern slipped over it and I also used a citronella candle because the mozzies have been SO bad here.  This photo looks a little bare without the crockery and cutlery...oops.


We set up in our garage because it was quite a windy day (and rain was predicted but luckily stayed away).  The space worked out well.  The middle table also got a large centrepiece of some dead branches lightly spray painted yellow and then I hung some paper lanterns and lucky chinese nugget ornaments that I had saved from our stay in Malaysia (see, being a bit of a hoarder has it's advantages sometimes!).  Oh, I made some easy little crepe paper flowers too but forgot to get a photo of those.  The kids also decided they really wanted to add some Christmas balls so I figured some lucky red ones would be close enough to our theme.


(After the party, I removed the decorations and then moved the branches inside where we decorated them for Easter and now we are decorating them for autumn.)

I made a 'bon voyage' banner for the wall of the garage and am so happy with how this turned out.  I did this in Powerpoint and used pictures from the internet as texture fills for the shape.  If you want to know how to do that, just let me know and I will do a quick tutorial on it.  I also made all those little tassels and, once I worked out how they did them on the lucky chinese nuggets, it went a lot quicker and was much easier than my first attempt!  I used a multicoloured embroidery floss for the tassels which looks so pretty.


To keep some of the older kids busy, I also set out a craft table for them to make a paper lantern banner for the back patio.  These looked so good swinging in the breeze.  I also put up my scrappy fabric bunting.  At the bottom right of this picture is a large silver planter.  I am annoyed I didn't get a photo but I had floating frangipani (foam ones from Malaysia - thanks Kerry!) and floating candles in there for the kids to use as a wishing well.  I also provided a large container of small change and they really had a ball with throwing the money in and then the retrieval (I hadn't quite thought that part through so there were a few wet sleeves...oh well).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easiest cushion cover ever



I love this method of making cushion covers.  It is dead easy and so satisfying to whip them up in ten to twenty minutes.  No zippers or buttonholes either.  That is always a good thing!  Please excuse the bad lighting in these photos - it was just one of those days with weird patchy cloud cover and I didn't have time to wait for the exact right lighting for each shot.

Firstly, I just cut out a length of fabric a little bit wider than my cushion insert and long enough to wrap around with an overlap of about 10cm (4in).


Then I finished off the short ends with an ironed, folded and stitched hem.  Actually, one of my hems was a selvedge so I ended up only doing one.


Then I wrapped it around the cushion firmly with the right side facing in, pinned the overlap and slid the cushion insert out so I had the correct sizing.  I overlapped it so that my finished hem would be on the outside once it was turned inside out.  If you hem both ends this won't matter so much.


Then you just stitch the sides up.  I prefer to use an overlocker for this step but I don't have access to one where I am so I just stitched it normally.  Ha ha, look how wonky my fabric is.  I pre-washed this fabric and it went a bit twisty when it dried - not sure how that happened.  Anyway, once it is stretched over a cushion insert it doesn't matter.


Then you are done, just turn it inside out and put your insert inside.  This is how it looks from the front and back.



I cannot wait until we move to somewhere near some decent fabric shops so I can redo these in some funky fabric instead of brown!  Not that there is anything wrong with brown but it is just not me really.  I am a colour girl through and through...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Play dough land


I have made plenty of play dough (or play clay - whichever way you prefer) over the last few years.  I have been very happy with the recipe I have but it always turned out a little gritty because of the salt.  My recipe had me adding the salt at the same time as the flour but I read somewhere ages ago (sorry, nameless person, I can't remember where) this recipe where they added the salt to the water first and heated it before adding the flour.  This seemed like a great idea as the salt might dissolve first and therefore solve my 'gritty' problem.  The only trouble with the recipe I was reading was I didn't want to add the flour to a hot liquid mixture as it seemed to me that would produce a very lumpy result.  So I just added the salt to the cold water and stirred for awhile until a lot of salt had dissolved (it doesn't all dissolve but enough does).  It worked like a dream and I ended up with beautifully soft and smooth play dough.  This is a great play dough for younger children too as I find many of them are too stiff for the little ones.

Here is the recipe and instructions if you want to print it out:  Homemade Play Dough (Play Clay).

Doesn't my picture up the top of this post look lovely?  That is the staged shot...  Here are the real play table happenings.  Ah, that is more like it!


Ewww, play dough intestines....


I used the salt from our layered salt activity which is why we have odd colours.  We are moving soon and I didn't want to waste our pretty salt.

Sharpie softies


Here is the Easter Sunday craft I did with Princess E, oops, I mean, 'Sport-E' (a change of name has been requested as she never did like princesses much....I think I will go with Sporty Girl instead).

We made Sharpie softies.  This idea has been around for ages I know but this is our first attempt at it.  I tried to interest Lord A in this activity but he wasn't feeling the vibe.  Maybe another day.

We just drew with coloured Sharpie's on white cotton, placed it face down on some backing fabric, stitched around the general image (remembering to leave a hole for the stuffing to go through), stuffed them and I stitched up the hole.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.  Sporty Girl has asked to do them again after school today so I am very happy to oblige.  She has been on a crafting hiatus which has been most distressing for me!  All attempts at forcing encouraging her to craft with me have fallen flat.  I was worried it had something to do with a few crafting sessions ending in being a less than bonding experience shall we say.....

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Holiday activities

We have had our school holidays here for the last week so we spent some of our time making more paper roll owls (these were started awhile ago and have been added to by visiting friends as well)...


(inspired by Matsutake)

and making crepe paper pom poms (that is what we call them in Australia anyway).  I just cut a bunch of crepe paper streamers into even lengths, stacked them, gathered one end and wound masking tape around them to make a handle.  My sister made MUCH better ones for her boys' sports days but I couldn't remember how she made them.  This is my simple hack.


We did another cute sewing craft today.  I will try and get photos tomorrow when the light is better around here.   Hope you all had a lovely Easter!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Free Printable Paper - More Dots!


I can't seem to get away from dots right now.  Just about everything I design or want to make has polka dots in there somewhere.  Not sure why but what the hey.  Here is another dotty design.  This file has three pages with different colourways.  Enjoy!  I am going to start a pattern of the month and, once I work out how to redesign my blog with 3 columns I will put them there for easy access.

Paper - Dot Grid

p.s.  did you notice my cool Easter header designed by my darling daughter?  she is so adorable and so proud of her design for my blog.

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