Saturday, December 29, 2012


Why hello there! It has been a full and busy week here, as I'm sure it has been at your house too. Christmas has come and gone for another year. Roast pork and ham, trifle (Mum's) and a deliciously alcohol sodden Italian christmas cake (recipe here) ensured very full tummies on the day and for pretty much the rest of the week. But what is christmas without a little excess?

Presents wrapped in brown paper and bits and pieces cut up, were opened. We like to keep the presents fairly simple. Good quality art supplies, a handmade doll, books, sometimes lego, and sometimes secondhand. I was spoilt with a little reading pile of my own.

We took it easy for a few days. Then onto a few holiday projects. I sewed a dress in a day (I have yet to take photos) and I'm currently finishing off an old knitting project. Daniel built a pergola out the front. There is no stopping this man once he has an idea!

But that is the good thing about the holidays. Relaxing and working ebbs and flows depending on how you feel on the day. More time has been spent outside than in, and we haven't really gone anywhere. Just appreciating the togetherness and uninterrupted family time that this season brings (with it's usual ups and downs!).

I have missed this space, but due to having everyone home, visitors and visits to be made, blogging may continue to be a little sporadic over the next little while.

I do hope your christmas was an enjoyable one.

Friday, December 21, 2012

of christmasy things

As christmas rolls around this year I'm feeling good about things. The kids are home, happy that school is finished, and enjoying all the anticipation that is the build up to christmas. The tree, which now has it's lights turned on. is highly exciting for our littlest one, and I admit that it brings me back to that glittery, fantasy land of childhood with their vivid imaginations.

The kids made their first, and my first ever, gingerbread house. I know I go on about making things from scratch, but this house wasn't. Not this year anyway. For the grand price of six dollars in the local Aldi. We made up the icing which went in the new piping bag (that cost far more than the cake itself, thus making it not quite so economical afterall) and I let the kids put the whole thing together. It wasn't so scary and perhaps next year we will attempt our own, from scratch.  We joked that it looked like our old house, a little A-Frame. Perhaps I will show you some pictures one day.

I received some lovely mail (beautifully wrapped too, I might add) in the form my second ornament from the swap. A beautiful rustic rose dusted with what I can describe as a "frosting" and backed onto red crochet. Traveling over the ocean and lovingly made by Christina of From the Hearth Room. Thank you Christina! It will adorn our tree for many years to come.

As I prepare to make some grocery lists, and conjure up some last minute gift ideas (while letting go of other ideas for perhaps another year), I'm feeling more happy and relaxed than I have in the past few weeks. I'm hoping to hold onto that feeling as other preparations are made, guests come and go and we are all together, uninterrupted by the usual demands of work and school. We can only hope!

Hoping that your preparations are going well for you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

gifting : biscuits and mugs

The kids finished up school yesterday, so we are spending the day a little lazily, still in pyjamas as it drizzles outside. But such is the beauty of the school holidays, not really having to be anywhere or do anything. Though of course there are plenty of things I should be doing.

Quite unlike the past two days, which have been a kind of frenzy of buying ingredients and bulk biscuit making, mug decorating and with the finale being the annual school presentation night. Whew! Though I thoroughly enjoy the process of gift baking and making, it is a good feeling to know it is done.

I made three types of biscuits this year :

Melting Moments : I have made these before, but it was the first time I'd tried this recipe. It was good, but personally I preferred my old recipe which had a vanilla, rather than lemon icing.

Rum Balls : The beauty of these is the simplicity of making them. No baking. I added more rum, rolled alternate batches in coconut and cocoa. But next time, I would probably add even more rum for a more adult taste.

Minty Cocoa Fudge Sandwich Cookies : This is the third christmas I have gifted these, and they never seem to disappoint. Though I did notice the difference using an inferior cocoa this year, as opposed to the Dutch one I used last year. These contain a positively sinful amount of butter, sugar, chocolate and condensed milk, particularly when you double up the recipe as I did. But I think that's okay once a year.

The mugs were plain cheap white ones I'd bought and I googled botanical line drawings and based my porcelain pen sketchings on some of these. It was quite good fun. Something I'd been wanting to try for ages. I finished them off with a little related drawing on the back and the recipients name up the top left hand side.

I popped clear celophane inside, filled them with biscuits and tied with some twine.

Most went to teachers and a few were saved to be part of food hampers for family members. Some excess biscuits went in the freezer, for later christmas gifting, and I also managed to fill up our large cookie jar. I'm trying to keep my hands out of that. There was a little too much taste testing or "quality control" along the way.

But I'm happy to say that is one more thing ticked off the list.

Sending happy christmas crafting, gifting wishes your way.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I'm cleanin' out my closet

I'm not really sure what possessed me to clean out my cupboard right before christmas. Perhaps it is that inner obsessive compulsive that rears its head every now and then. Or perhaps that desire to have everything done, and the peace of mind that comes with that, to relax during those days after christmas.

It's not like I never clean out my clothing cupboard. It's had many a cull and clean out over the years, but I find every few months it needs attention to keep it functional and not looking like a tip.

It's a fairly small cupboard and I've tried to keep it that way. A cluttered cupboard I find goes hand in hand with that age old problem of having a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear. It all just gets a bit overwhelming finding something to wear.

And mine had cluttered. My pre-Violet clothes which had survived the last few culls, but which were not being worn because they had never quite fitted the same way again, were certainly taking up quite a lot of space. There were old shorts there, pretty little dresses and my old favourite jeans. I realised that I'd actually become quite emotionally attached to these items. They were the outfits of the last part of my 20's. I guess I'd hung onto them hoping to recapture that same (younger) person. And when I looked over them with a more critical eye I realized not only that I may never be quite that skinny again, but that I had changed. I am now approaching my mid thirties with three children, and I no longer had any desire to wear that cute, but impractical miniskirt.

But it wasn't without a little sadness that I packed them away and sent them to the op shop. My cupboard feels lighter and surprisingly a little more optimistic. There's not a lot in there now, and once grouped together I discovered there were more than a few sewn by me clothes. They seem to be the ones I turn to these days, which tells me that there will be more to come. It's a good thing to see at a glance exactly what is in there. And not many shoes, but all ones that I do regularly wear.

So while my days of wearing hipster skinny jeans, denim hot pants and buttoned pocket miniskirts may be over for now, I look forward to slowly adding some fun vintage inspired dresses, some skirts, comfy light tunics and a few pretty blouses. It's kind of liberating to know that I can now make these myself. Clothes that feel like me. Now.

Have you ever found it hard to get rid of certain items of clothing?
Do you become emotionally attached?
Have you grown out of some of your clothes too?

Friday, December 14, 2012


My christmas organizing seems to finally be kicking into gear. The menu is almost done. The all important rolled pork and ham are to be ordered from the local butcher today. Beads have been baked (inspiration here) and are waiting to be strung for presents, christmas cards stamped and more flowers picked (not that that has anything really to do with christmas, but it does put a smile on my face). My blouse is coming along slowly (three muslin versions later!).

And my first little ornament from the swap arrived. The cutest little wreath from Rochelle of Rockmelon Recycled. Isn't it lovely? Thank you Rochelle.

I'm afraid all this crafting hasn't left a lot of time for blogging. So, while it may not be quite as regular these holidays, I will still be stopping in as often as I am able.

Hoping that all well in your world.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

kitchen notes

Highlights and notes from my kitchen these past few weeks.

Mashed potatoes - because the old fashioned combination of potatoes, butter, cream and sea salt is comfort food at its best.

Roast chicken with thyme from the garden. We don't have chicken a lot as I always opt for the organic birds, and generally buy them whole, so I like to stretch it to other meals like sandwiches for lunch and I always save the bones for stock or soup. If time is short I pop the bones in the freezer for another day.

Salad of mixed greens and herbs from the garden with feta.  Dressed with a mustard and garlic vinaigrette.

After school coconut muffins made partly with rye flour, recipe here.

Proof that you can have a baked dinner without potatoes (I'd run out). Baked broccoli, baked pumpkin and plenty of Yorkshire pudding (muffin sized and pan sized). Gravy made from drippings (whisk in flour, salt and then water).

Hugh's Mum's Shepherd's Pie - I think I've blogged this before, and I know a few of you are already fans, but it is really very good and the perfect way to use up that leftover roast lamb.

Oricchiette pasta with a sauce of quickly fried tuna, garlic and oil. Topped with plenty of parmesan.

"Cheats milkshake" (no ice cream) seems to keep the kids happy - (a few spoonfuls of powdered chocolate drink, we use the Rupublica brand, mixed with a little water, plenty of full cream milk, dash of vanilla and maple syrup with a few ice cubes whizzed up in the blender ).

A quick dinner of fried rice (based very loosely on this version, I don't use the maggi seasoning, often leave out the meat, and use sherry instead of the wine) when I'm not sure what to cook, but dinner needs to be made now. Or if you boil up the rice early, you can rest assured that dinner is at least half made.

Sand Cake. You might have spotted it here too. This version was from my library copy of the CWA Classics Cookbook. A kind of cross between a sponge and a pound cake with the addition of sherry (again) both in the cake and icing. Like my mother I always keep a bottle of sherry in the pantry.

I once made a sand cake when I was 12. It was a dismal failure. This is how it should have tasted. I am tempted to add this rather substantial cookbook to my own library based on this recipe alone.

Have you been making or baking in the kitchen lately?
Any good recipes to share?