25 December 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

I'm at work, which suck a bit.
In fact, I'm spending the day underground sludge sampling... catching mud, basically.


So Christmas is in Leonora this year. Leonora is a small bush town, with a permanant population of about 400, and another couple of hundred who fly in and out for work. Its about 800km from Perth, and 200 from Kalgoorlie, the nearest town of any size. Most people here are involved in the mines, but there are some cattle stations dotted around as well. Gold was discovered here in 1894, and the town rapidly developed after that.

In Leonora, it seems the Christmas Tradition is to have a massive water fight on the main street in town... everyone comes out with water bombs, water pistols, buckets of water, confetti cannons, then the town fire engine roams the street, sirons blaring, with santa and his helpers giving back as good as they get!

Lots of fun! The days previous had been in the low 40s (Max. ~110 F) and christmas eve was only a bit cooler, so its a good way to cool down! I'm just glad my camera survived, as I got a bucket of water poured over my head while taking these :)

20 December 2011

Mini Pudding bites in 5 easy steps!

These are another festive favourite of mine, and so easy!

Mini Chocolate puddings
100g dark chocolate
400g fruit cake 
1/3 Cup Orange juice (mixed with your favourite tipple if you want)

50g or so white chocolate, for coating
Red and green decorations 

Dark fruit cake is probably more festive but it is very rich, especially in our climate! So this year I used a light fruit cake and it seems good so far.

1.   Melt the dark chocolate and crumble the cake into it. Pour the juice over and mix well.

2.   Chill until firm.

3.   Roll into small balls. These are probably about an inch in diameter.

4.   Melt the white chocolate, and either dip the top of each ball in, or pipe in a "custard" pattern,  for stereotypical Christmas puds.

5.   Top with something festive! These are red and green jelly beans cut in half, or you could use sprinkles, or glace cherries and mint leaves. What ever works!

Christmas Gingerbread

I make gingerbread every year for Christmas, often as gifts to hang on the tree.

The last few years I've made a big batch of christmassy shaped biscuits to take into work and share around, especially as I'm work through the holidays.

I use the following recipe:

  • 125g butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) golden syrup
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 375g (2 1/2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tbs ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Depending on my audience I add double the ginger (I love ginger!) and this year I added some chopped "naked ginger" for an extra layer of flavour.

Cream the butter and sugar, add the yolks and golden syrup and beat some more, then add the dry ingredients. It doesn't feel like it will make a dough, and the dough ends up quite brittle, but after 30 minutes rest in the fridge it should be right to go.

Make a hole in the top of your shapes for ribbon if thats your plan. These were just for eating :)
I cut out snowflakes, stars, doves, angels, christmas trees and bells.

Bake at about 180oC for about 10 minutes,until they're are still soft but slightly browned.
Turn out onto a rack to cool, and they'll harden up but still have some give to them.
Cook for longer if you like them with bite!

I love the combination of ginger and white chocolate, so I coat most of them in melted good quallity white chocolate, leaving some bare for those who don't like it. I love the look of the draped chocolate as you pull them out of the gooey molten white chocolate.

Try not to eat them all until you've given them out as gifts!

05 December 2011

Welcome to Christmas!

The house is all decorated and more or less ready for Christmas!

I'd seen lots of felt wreaths on Pintrest and loved their look, like these:
(click for links)

I spent many hours cutting out a couple of hundred circles from felt to match our colours.
You need patience! Luckily the circles don't have to be too perfect, and you fold them into quarters and pin them into a Styrofoam wreath base. I made this with thin acrylic felt, as it was all I could easily get my hands on. I think it would be more luxurious made of good quality felt, but I still love it!
Shame about the door colour! Hopefully it will change over the course of the next year.

Do you have a wreath on the door?
Whats it like?!

03 December 2011

MOvember suprise

I was very proud of Dave and his massive fund raising efforts for MOvember, so I decided to make him a cake. Well, a brownie...

I think he liked it!

01 December 2011

Festive Lamp Tutorial

December 1st... first day of summer :)

I started decorating the house last night. I'm excited!
And I wanted to share with you what I did to festive up an old lamp shade.

Simple lamp Hack

We bought this lamp from IKEA years ago, but it doesn't really have a permanent home in our new house. Its unexciting, but served its purpose. 
As its going to be pushing 40oC this weekend, I thought that using snow crystals in our decorating might keep us in a cool state of mind, if not body!

First step is to cut out some snowflakes!
Be creative or use a template.
I printed this one out in a couple of sizes, so the flakes looked consistent.
Print it as pale as your printer will allow, as you can see the black lines through mine!

Once you have a few (I used two big and 4 small), stick them to the inside of the lamp shade.
I watered down some craft glue, as I'm not too fussed about being able to remove them again.
You could use the reposition-able spray glue if this is an issue.

Leave to dry and turn on!
The snowflakes are revealed. 

Today is a balmy 33oC and lovely (though there appears to be a few more clouds in the sky). Glorious day for a swim, and I knocked out 2km! Think thats the first time since I was in swim squad as a kid! Looks like my broken arm is recovering nicely!

Figuring out cap sleeves

I bought some light weight fabric recently, in the hope of making some summery tops and dresses. Then realised I don't really have any patterns! 

This is a version of the cap sleeve dress pattern, from Burda. Its made from quilting cotton, so is probably a bit heavy for summer (36 degrees today and its only just starting) but I like the fit, and its given me the confidence to start on the real fabric!

I just need to work on my zippers!

I "made" the skirt too... a pair of thrift shop jeans which were a bit too big... legs cut off, pretty fabric ruffle  sewn around. 
Done :)

26 November 2011

Button Snowflake tutorial

It's been a busy two weeks! More onthose soon, but more importantly it's less than a month til Christmas! If you're as excited as I am you'll love this:

How cute is this button snowflake?!

Click on it for the tutorial!

More when I'm not posting from my phone...

17 November 2011

Christmas Cushion Tutorial

A basic envelope cushion tutorial.

So, some background. This will be our 5th Christmas down under, and I think I'm finally getting used to it not being winter! Just. But because its not cold and cosy, Christmas decorations that are warm and cosy don't really work, so we're learning about new ways to decorate that reflect the different style of Christmas.

This is also our first Christmas in the new house, which is quite exciting!

Our decorations have been a rich mix of red and purple so far, but this year we've decided to go for a fresh new look, in blue, with pink and purple.

I'd been eyeing up all the pretty Christmas fabrics in store, and while most of them were red and silver and green and generally didn't fit in with our plans, I kept seeing this very cute blue bird fabric, and when it had 20% off, I decided to get a metre and think of something to do with it! I figured it would lend itself well to some seasonal throw cushion covers, to add a subtle Christmas hint to our sofa.

Make your own!
You will need cushion insert, fabric, and optionally also a button, sewing machine with buttonhole foot, plus thread and pins etc.


Cut fabric to fit. My inserts were 50cm, and my fabric was 1m by 112cm wide, so I cut it in half, to make two strips 50x112cm. Longer would be better, or smaller inserts, but thats what I had, so thats what I worked with!

Hem (at least one) one short edge. These will become the opening for the insert. I didn't have much length to play with so I kept it to just one, as the other won't be seen.

Fold and pin. You want to end up with a square roughly the same size as your insert. Fold so the right sides are facing with the hemmed edge on the inner layer if you only did one. My flaps were roughly 40cm and 20cm in from either edge:

Pin and sew the edges closed. Sew straight across the top, making sure you capture both layers of flap. Its a good idea to re-enforce the opening by re-sewing the segments where the flaps meet.

Turn the right way around and in theory you're done!

But at this point mine looked like this, because I didn't really have enough length for the plumpness of my insert:

So I decided to keep it a bit more contained with a button.

Decide which button you want to use and mark it onto the material with tailors chalk.

Attach your buttonhole foot, and measure the length of hole you need to make. Set the foot onto your material so that the front is just beyond where you want the button to sit. Sew across the top, sides and base.

Pit a pin at one end of the button-hole to be, then use a stitch ripper to open up the hole. The pin stops you from going to far.

Sew on button. Make sure it actually fits first though!


Much better!

30 October 2011


We loved our cake.
Prepare to be shocked... The Boy came up with the idea!
Carrying on the button theme... and the colour scheme.
We had some issues getting across the vibrancy of the colour scheme. Most weddings seem to be more baby blue and/or apricot, but once we'd sent the colour inspiration across, we got exactly what we wanted!

What the history books will say we did...
How we actually cut the cake:

26 October 2011

Wedding dress bustle!

Every brides worst nightmare must include her dress not fitting on the day. I was flying in not long before the wedding, so big alterations were out of the question, I had to hope it was right first time.

My dress was the right length, so I didn't have to worry about that, and the tie-back meant it fit fine, but I did spend an evening just before the wedding adding a very simple bustle construction.

I hadn't realised that there would be no way to bustle the train up automatically, as the sales lady had implied it was possible when I first bought it. I didn't realise I would have to pay for their "alterations package" to get it done, so I freaked out slightly! Two hundred pounds, when all i needed was a way to dance!

Then I calmed down, and resolved to do it myself. Much to the horror of the ladies in the shop I'm sure.

I sewed a vintage glass button on (from my mothers stash) which got lost in the lace and beading down the back, and added a ribbon loop at the base of the tie back, which was hidden when not in use. And done!

Not as elegant as it might have been, but it did its job, and didn't break as has happened to many friends with professionally done bustles!

I read into some of the traditions and taboos about weddings during the planning, since we were having a pretty unconventional wedding. I wanted us to keep the important ones, but maybe with a twist. One said that the bride should never try on the complete outfit prior to the day,  or it will bring bad luck, so many left a final stitch til just before she wore it (though the number of stitches she sews will be the number of tears the marriage will result in....) Sewing on a button can't be that many stitches, I'll take it.
Especially since I found a HUGE spider on my dress as well, another apparent symbol of luck.

And really, after every one has ooh-ed and aaah-ed over the bride, the photos are done with, everyone had a glass of champagne or three and wants to dance, who is going to notice?

From this /\

to this! \/ 

The closest  could find to a photo showing the bustle!
Apparently people don't take photos of the back of the bride!

Actually, there is this one too. Meet my baby brother :)