Friday, August 29, 2014

Secrets Finished

Have been trying to use my spare time to finish things on the to-do list rather than add more things. It's difficult when I have so much inspiration from watching Sophie play and blog-land. But, I'm happy to report that the not-so-secret Christmas presents I've been working on are now finished. Man did it feel good to have that last push through nap-time yesterday and see them all complete.

Of course, I'm still trying to be a little vague about them, so you don't get good photos until after Christmas. Sorry folks.

Previous posts on this secret topic appear here, here, here and here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tea Party Table

I was cooking or cleaning, or doing something in the kitchen on Monday when I turned around to see Sophie doing this:

I thought to myself: "I've probably got enough cardboard somewhere to make her an actual table to sit at." And I totally did. All those cardboard toilet paper, cling wrap, and paper towel rolls I've been hoarding now have a use (well some of them anyway). I wanted the table top to have two layers of cardboard for stability, and I used the cling wrap rolls for the legs (they were the thickest). After some thinking, I realized that it would be sturdier if I put a layer of cut toilet paper rolls in, though when I was actually cutting and gluing them I wondered if I was putting too much effort in. I mean, it's just cardboard right?

But the table is fabulous and just the right size for Sophie, so I'm glad I did it. Sophie knew exactly what to do with it come Tuesday morning. I have given her a table cloth to make it much prettier, by the way, but I do love the home-made look, especially given what she's currently using for chairs. Maybe I'll upgrade them next.

The take away here is why buy a table and chairs set for your kid, when they will get just as much fun out of some cardboard boxes? Take that consumerism!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Roast Chicken Success

Last night, we feasted on my first ever roast chicken, complete with homemade apple and bacon stuffing, roast potato and sweet potato with steamed carrots and broccoli. It was delicious.

The inspiration for this meal came from Steve browsing through the junk mail and mentioning to me that there was a recipe that included bacon. Given that I make most of the decisions regarding dinner, I like to give Steve the opportunity to choose a meal every now and then (especially since the meals he's most often likely to choose, I'll vote down on (say no to chow mein people!)). Thus, without really reading the recipe, I say: "Sure, I can do that."

After spending altogether too long prepping this meal while feeding Sophie lunch and juggling Rachel in the middle of the day yesterday, I sent Steve a text warning him that I would consider him delusional if he thought I was going to make this again any time soon. Admittedly, I didn't really think through the logistics of trying a new (and fairly complicated) recipe on a Monday, with two small children, but it was a lot of work.

Thankfully it was delicious, though I stand by my sentiments that we won't be having it again soon. Unless you count eating the leftovers.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bucket List

Last Sunday going to church, Steve mentioned something, I can't even remember what, but it was vaguely related to a bucket list type thing. I don't actually have a physical list (or even an imaginary list) of "things I'd like to do before I die", but I said: "You know what I'd really like to do that I've never done? Go to a drive in." That's right people. I've never seen a movie at a drive in.

So Steve, being the wonderful husband that he is, promptly pulled out his phone and looked up drive in movies for us (Google knows too much; Steve typed in "yat" and it was the first suggestion). We then did a brainstorm about how to logistically pull it off (baby sitting, dinner etc) and Tuesday night, we went to the movies.

It was pretty wonderful, all warm and snugly in the car watching movies. I really enjoyed it. I would do it again. I would also say I've got an excellent husband who loves to make things happen. Thanks husband! It's great that we are married.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sarah's Party

Hooray! Today is my sisters birthday! I feel like today saw a lot of things come together that have been in the pipelines for a while. Maybe, maybe not. But I did just go through a heap of photos, so here we go!

Firstly, Sophie did wear her party dress today. It's a little long, and got fairly dirty (thanks to the rain making the dirt mud, and the fact that she's a toddler who regularly falls down) but worked well in the sunshine.

The Bike Bunting made the party fabulous. It was so breezy, so those happy triangles danced about like they were having the time of their lives. Such fun!

And the thing that I spent most of this morning, as well as copious amounts of time yesterday and the day before on, were the cakes. initially, I had offered to make a cake for Sarah because I had some fondant icing to use up. But the thing about fondant icing cakes is that usually they look good, but the cake inside is often not great. I ummed and ahhed for a while before mum decided she'd just make a fruit cake for it. Delicious, but possibly not what Sarah was looking for in a birthday cake.

Still, fun to ice, and it does look very classy. For those with OCD, you will be pleased to know that there is an even number of flowers on this cake. I know it makes my mind rest at ease when I look at it. Anyway, I asked Sarah's Steve what cake might be good, and he said that she'd love a black forest cake. I died a little inside, since I don't like black forest cakes, but rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

I made the cake yesterday and then put it all together this morning. The thing that makes me dislike black forest most of all, I believe, is that it looks so good. Those lovely layers with their colors and textures all complimenting each other. But then you take a bite and the cherries are not what you expected, the cake is all soggy from the juices and you can hardly find the cream any more. But I digress.

I covered this cake with a chocolate ganache (as per the recipe) which was the most delicious part (glad there is leftovers). This is what the cake looked like after everyone had a bit:

Demolished! Sophie was very compliant helping me put the cake together this morning and spent much of her time on the step in the kitchen diligently licking the spoons.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Party Dress

My sister's birthday is less than a week away, and though I have tried to find a dress for me to wear, I'm still coming up short. Might be wearing jeans and a T at this rate. Anyway, on Saturday I figured if I couldn't wear a party dress, I could at least make one for Sophie to wear. That way, at least one of us can have fun looking fabulous. 

Hopefully I'll get a good shot of Sophie in it on Sunday. It's simple and required no fiddly buttons or zips. My kind of dress. I did actually use a pattern this time: The Summer Picnic Dress from the Cottage Mama.

These ruffles on the bottom were the hardest part. Stupid gathering.

And for those interested, I decided to be professional and neat and on the inside, I did French Seams for all exposed seams. Very shiny. I am well pleased. 

Saturday, August 09, 2014

The Unappreciated Bento

I've been slightly slack about making Sophie cool lunches when we venture out into the world around lunch time. Mostly because I'm busy, but also because she has a distinct lack of appreciation for a cute looking bento box. Today I have an example of her lack of appreciation.

This was a neatly packed top half of a bento. Then Sophie opened it and immediately pulled out the star shaped cup holding the tomato neatly together and it all fell apart. Also those cucumber pieces that I cut into cute cherry blossom shapes didn't get touched. Sigh. I wonder why I bother. Then I remember that this is good practice for when she will be able to appreciate the cute-ness and the hard work I've put in.

Then this cute star cup will get it's time to shine, while all the other kids have boring Australian lunchboxes with their sandwiches and roll-ups. Ha!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Birthday Bike Bunting: Complete!

This is what 120  bunting triangles looks like when sewn together and then dumped on the floor.

That's right people, along with the first lot of bike bunting that I made for my sister's birthday (click here to refresh your memories on that), I also cut out 240 extra small triangles to sew into bunting as well. Rodger the Rotary Cutter sure got a work out that day. People tell me I should sell bunting, but honestly, it would not be worth the time and effort.

This bunting, for example, as I've already mentioned had 240 triangles! And then you've got to cut the strips to bind the top with, along with all the thinking time it takes to work out if you've got enough material and how many triangles are going to go on each strip (if you are a bit OCD, like me, that will take a while until you are satisfied that it's all going to come together with the right amount of even numbers). Then there is the time you take to actual sew it all together. Not something that takes five minutes let me tell you.

But there they are, looking all shiny and stacked and ready to go to my sisters and bring joy and general festivity to her party. Happy Birthday Sarah. I'm looking forward to taking photos of the bunting in action. :)

Wednesday, August 06, 2014


The whole house has been up and down with sickness in the last two weeks now, so come 7:00 at night, the last thing I have been feeling like doing has been sitting down with Sally to finish off the bunting for my sister. In fact, I think if I had tried Steve would have staged an intervention. Yesterday I made some yummy star biscuits to cheer us all up. Maybe procrastination, maybe therapy, but I'll get to that bunting soon I promise. In the mean time, I'll snack on these and remind myself that among the sickness, Sophie has achieved another milestone and now sleeps the nights (and the naps!) away in the big bed. Success.  

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Birthday Bike Bunting

My older sister's 30th birthday is coming up, and her one request of me for the big day was that there be bunting for the party. Who am I to refuse such an excellent request? How could I possibly resist? Of course, she meant for me just to bring the abundance of bunting I already have lying around, but given that it is her birthday, I thought it'd be way cooler if she actually had some of her own (ok, maybe that was just an excuse, but come on - Bunting!).

Given that both Sarah and her Steve love to bike ride (in copious amounts; I'm talking 100s of ks here), I had been on the look out for some bike fabric for a while. This stuff that I found was pretty perfect, apparently there is a penny farthing bike and a cruiser bike and a ... I can't remember what other kinds of bikes there, but lots of bikes. In cool colours. Then I just got some cool stripy material and bright solid colours to help lift the blackness.

I do love how it turned out, and so does Sarah. Which is perfect, since it is part of her birthday present. :) Last week, I was trying valiantly to get it all finished when Sophie got sick (cold, tonsillitis and conjunctivitis all in one go) and then decided she'd share it with Steve and I (and now Rachel has at least the cold part (really praying it's not the rest too, poor little five-week-old child)), so I didn't quite get to finish it all before the pre-birthday celebration with the parents who are leaving to travel the world for two months. But I'll get the other 120 triangles sewn into more bunting soon, ready for the actual birthday party. Maybe now in fact.

(Thanks Dad for helping me take the photos!)