27 November, 2009

New Handpainted Aprons now listed

I've just loaded four more handpainted aprons to my website - they're $55 each and 100% cotton drill. One of a kind originals. Click here to check them out!

26 November, 2009

New block paintings

These original paintings are my first on 16mm boards - painted on the sides and back, with a spot for the nail/hanger to fit in - super easy to post and not break! Painted by me in top quality artists acrylics (love my Golden paints!) and varnished.

I can post them directly to you, or wrap and post them to your special someone.

The top three have a page from a vintage "Heidi" book collaged in the background and measure 20 x 25cm and are $55 each.

The bottom six are all original little angels, on boards measuring a sweet 16 x 20cm and are $33 each.

If you can picture the perfect place in your home, or know of someone who'd love a piece of original art in their home, just click here and you're set.

My laptop is in getting fixed at the moment, so I look forward to getting back in swing of blogging as soon as I get it back. I'm trying to be very good on the food front, so not much baking going on (unless you count the choc slice for tuckshop and the hummingbird cakes for lunchboxes I guess). But I have been sewing and have four special children lined up to make softies of their choice as a Christmas Holiday treat. First up will be Josh's 'Mr Skelly' - he's flat right now, but I'll post as soon as he's plumped up a little!

UPDATE - Top right panel now sold!

23 November, 2009

How You Can Tell My Mum Sews - Part One

My clothes and toys match my quilt.

Which can make bunnies more tasty, I agree.

If I could crawl I could get away, but for now, I'm a sitting duck for her decorating whims.

Bettsy Kingston Ruffle baby pants pattern here, Kristen Doran bunny pattern here and quilt pattern from Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing here. A mix of fabrics including Kaffe Fasset from here.

I've been away a while because I've been unwell. But come Friday night I just HAD to make something - and now I'm on a frilly baby pants bender! But not for too long - I'll have to give the dining table back sooner or later.

16 November, 2009

My Cake

As requested, this is a pic of Moist Coconut Cake (from a Women's Weekly recipe) a la Me.

Neither of these pics are from my most recent effort at a Christening Cake, but I have to say they are remarkably similar (right down to the cake plate - actually from Ezibuy years ago, and every time I use it it makes me smile). This incarnation above, is from my dear friend, Helen's, 40th birthday lunch. I assembled it at Jo's place, and it contains the main cake on the bottom, then a small round cake on top, drowned in passionfruit icing, then dotted with my bundt cake flowers (or flower-like lumps, see two posts ago), dusted with icing sugar and topped off with real roses from that nice rose farm up the road.

This is a very similar cake from a more aerial angle, made for my daughter's Christening (which was also her first birthday and so she actually had two cakes, the other was white chocolate decorated to match the ikea fabric table runner I had made). As you can see I couldn't get pink roses that day and these little beauties were from Coles. There was something sort of fun about cutting the heads off the roses, I have to admit.

And this is a photo that I love of Helen at her birthday, holding S, and she hates her photo being taken so I know she's going to TOTALLY FREAK OUT when she sees it - but I'm prepared to take that because I love it and she's gorgeous, and the reflection of Suzanne is really cool.

PS. this cake is delicious warm, with cream and a strawberry. Mmmmm.

PPS. Will stop cooking and start painting again soon. But we have a few ear infections on the go here and I'm off to bed now, because in all probability I'll be woken at least five times tonight - so Helen, when you ring about that photo, be kind. My head is fuzzy.

Email issues

Apologies to anyone who's emailed me lately, only to have their email bounce back. I've finally figured out that my webmail server has been keeping copies of my emails as well as sending them on to me. So please excuse me while I attempt to delete oh, about 157 953 emails (it's been a while), and we should be ok to resume normal transmission.

I have still received most emails that have been sent, but for some reason you've still been getting the bounce message. Thanks for your concerned calls!

14 November, 2009

They worked!

By following the advice of Cathie, the incredible happened. I actually managed to get these beautiful flower cakes out of their bundt cake tin - without sticking - and therefore still looking like flowers. Admittedly it wasn't rocket science, and I sprayed the tin with more cooking spray than ever before, (below) but they still tasted great and the tin (bought from Peters of Kensington - another handy online shop FYI Robbie W) will now start paying for itself.

These flowers adorned the christening cake of my new god-daughter, but alas, I have no photo. The cake is a Moist Coconut Cake from a Women's Weekly recipe - I've done this cake in my particular way about 4 times now (layered with passionfruit icing and fresh roses), so I'll try to find a photo and post it here soon.

From an art point of view, I've handpainted 4 more aprons and will photograph tomorrow and upload to the shop. I also have an idea for a handpainted cushion so will catalogue the progress of that as well. Stay tuned...

13 November, 2009

Photoshop Tip that really works!

I have to confess I often gently 'touch up' any half decent photos of me, in my quest for my kids to think that I didn't look that bad during these exhausting childbearing years. Just a little bit of teeth brightening, maybe a spot removed, perhaps a thigh slimmed - just a little... Not every photo by any means, but maybe those that are album worthy. (Geez, it sounds so vain - it's definitely not a top priority, but I have to admit it does happen. Anyone else want to confess?)

Anyway, I get a weekly email from istockphoto, and today's included this tip by Lesa Snider. If you're a photoshop user you may be interested.

And I quote:

Photoshop: Flabby chin fix

Believe it or not, you can suck the life out of a flabby chin with the Pinch filter. It sounds gross, but it makes a huge difference and only takes a few seconds. Just duplicate the original layer by pressing Command-J (Ctrl-J on a PC) and make a rough selection, the Lasso tool works well, that includes the offending flab and some of the surrounding detail.

Choose Filter > Distort > Pinch and, in the resulting dialog box, enter 20 in the Amount field, and then click OK. If you need to pinch it a little more, press Command-F (Ctrl-F on a PC) to run the filter again at the same settings. Easy, huh?

Lesa Snider, founder of GraphicReporter.com, is iStockphoto's Chief Evangelist and the author of Photoshop CS4: The Missing Manual.


I just tried it for a side on neck and it worked! A definite improvement. But I won't post pics because my example was still a pretty unflattering shot.

OK, back to your usual programming. I have parcels to pack and aprons to paint!

12 November, 2009

My Creative Space

Once again, joining in Kootooyoo's Creative Space Thursday -

These three little ladies have just been listed in the shop and will feature in the Newsletter that I still haven't finished. Very happy with how they turned out - am experimenting with 'no necks' and simpler mouths, and the subjects have been dictated by the pages from a "Heidi" book that I've collaged in. They're painted on 16mm board and have a hole drilled in the back so they're ready to hang. The creative space that they're in is PARTICULARLY messy at the moment and I dream of having time to tidy and straighten. Until then though, I'm still feeling creative at least.

And I've finally drawn October's mailing list prize and the winner is...

Caity! Congrats Caity from www.caitymakes.com, the little magic notebook is on it's way.

If you're not on the list yet, you won't be in the next draw that will include some wonderful Golden paints and handpainted fabric... so if you're keen, just click here and opt in! I will photograph the prize tomorrow and get it up on the site.

Thanks again for reading - I've been receiving some really lovely comments lately, from near and far, and I've started really looking forward to sharing on this blog. I still plan to do the resinned coffee table project and a christmas wreath painting project before the end of the school term, so stay tuned and tutorials will be posted. In the meantime though, it's babies with snuffly noses and toddlers with bedtime denial and big boys who are scared to sleep... but this will pass.

11 November, 2009

Makeshift Funnels and Vegan Cakes

I'm working on my Shiny Happy November newsletter at the moment, so I have been making and uploading nice new things to the site. Which is very time consuming, but there were just a couple of things I really wanted to post though...

Someone (?) must have thrown out my ultra technical kitchen funnel (made from a Postpak and a staple) that I used to fill jars for Emergency Cookies, so I've been using this new, equally technical technique, called 'The Paper Bag Funnel'. It works, so if you've been doing the Emergency Cookie thing, or are planning to for Christmas, I hope this helps. I also use the 'pusher' bit from the top of my food processor to push it all down well.

And the lovely Cathie wrote a recipe for me (I'm really chuffed) that would be a healthy afternoon tea alternative - they're Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes, and they include avocado instead of butter. I made them last Friday and am delighted to report that they're delicious! Thanks Cathie. They'll definitely be a regular menu item these Summer holidays.

09 November, 2009

Cushiony Goodness

I was honoured to be asked to be Godmother to a dear friend's daughter, Maya, who was christened yesterday, and really wanted to make her something special. I claim total responsibility for turning her mother into a self confessed 'Anna Maria Horner Stalker' (in a nice way, and only over the internet, nothing too scary) so decided on this.

It's a patchwork cushion, using the last bit of my first batch of Amy Karol homemade piping, and featuring the divine fabrics of Anna Maria Horner. I used an Alicia Paulson Summerhouse Pillow pattern for making very efficient patchwork cushions and am happy to report it was so enjoyable that I am really looking forward to making another (when I recover from that rash of name dropping).

I didn't quite follow the pattern (I accidentally used 5" squares, so only needed 16 to make up a cushion for my 45cm filler) and I'm not going to reveal her secret (because I've followed her blog for ages and she's really lovely) but I'm happy to report the back is all my own. I've figured out a way to insert a zip very nicely - which may not be a new way, but it's not from a tutorial I've read, I'm sure. Would you like a cushion zip tutorial? Let me know.

I added my Shiny Happy Art tag to the back (which, to be honest, I like just as much as the front). Made it look just that bit snazzier.
And because it was ONLY 12.30am, and because I was obviously in my 'wishful thinking time traveller' mode, and because I was drunk on Anna Maria fabric goodness, I decided Saturday night would be a good time to try a bit of log cabin patching, which I've also never attempted before. But since seeing a pic of Anna Maria's baby son lying on a log cabin quilt she just whipped up (I'd add a link here, but my computer is SO SLOW at the moment), it's been in my head that I really wanted to make one for my bub. So I googled it, found a log cabin diagram, and made up my first three 30cm squares while the Wallabies played England at Twickenham. But then the rugby finished and it was really late and I displayed a tiny bit of maturity and went to bed. Finally doing a little bit of sewing meant that I could also finally use the beautiful, hand embroidered pincushion that my new blog-friend Cherry in Adelaide made me when I put it 'out there' that I really would like a new pincushion. It's so much nicer than anything I would have made and I love love love using it! Thanks Cherry!

I've got more I'd like to write about but the computer is too slow tonight. I still haven't taken the photos I need to upload some new artwork - will try again during daylight hours tomorrow.


06 November, 2009

Creative Space Thursday

Oh, what a mess! But this was my only creative outlet yesterday...

It's been a bit frantic around here this week, so this is how it really was last night - no styling, no tidying, no time! I had to make 2 dozen muffins for the school swimming carnival, plus I had a need to try cooking granola, plus dinner was underway, and this was just how it was. And I would have posted it on Thursday (as it is Kootooyoo's 'creative space Thursday' after all), but we had a big storm and no internet, hence the delay.But I felt ok, because I was wearing my special 'Prints Charming' apron...
And the muffins turned out ok (chocolate and banana cinnamon).
And the granola - oh, delicious! Thanks so much to Mel for the recipe!Will be loading some new paintings onto the site tonight. Stay tuned. Bub's crying, got to run!

02 November, 2009

Afternoon Tea ideas please?

This afternoon I made Mini Croissants for afternoon tea. Based on what I could remember from Cathie's blog recipe here, I did apple/chocolate and mango/chocolate combos, and they were VERY simple.

Firstly cut up the pastry sheet into 4 triangles.

Then add the filling and roll it up. Here's the mango/choc combo.

And here's the apple/choc combo. It's fresh granny smith apple, just chopped up.

Then just roll them up like croissants. And brush with milk - I could have sprinkled sugar on top here, but I forgot.

And bake at 180 degrees celcius for about 25 mins or until nicely browned.

Serve with icecream or something equally yummy.

I love to bake, so I always think of cakes, biccies and sweets for afternoon tea. This is pretty much a dessert, so it was a very special afternoon.

I also did a Vegemite Cheese Twist with the 3rd sheet of pastry that I defrosted. It's equally simple.

Just spread puff pastry sheet with Vegemite and sprinkle with grated cheese, then fold in half.Chop up into slices - about 2-3 cm wide.

Twist and flatten just a bit, then brush with milk.

Bake for about 20 mins at 180 degrees celcius and voila!

Now, these are so simple I'm almost embarrassed to have posted so many photos. And how can anyone really go wrong with puff pastry. But I know they shouldn't be an everyday item.

Do you have any ideas for simple HEALTHY afternoon teas that I could feed hungry boys? I need a refresher and I'd love to know!

01 November, 2009

We don't do Halloween here

After years of telling my boys that we don't do Halloween, circumstances conspired that little J was to have some friends over for a backyard campout, and that their parents may as well stay for dinner, and would you know it, it happens to be Halloween.

So in some sort of insane idea about adding atmosphere, I attempted to make these beautiful 'Spider Bites' as per Bakerella's instructions here.

Needless to say, she probably didn't have toddlers with fevers, babies with snuffles so that I allow myself to be a human dummy, and a need for speed. Not that sort of speed, just that anything I make these days has to be quick. Or I'll get distracted and forget vital ingredients (like sugar) or that it's in the oven (hmmm, what's that smell?), or the microwave (a little surprise when you open the door the next day) ...

So, I thought I'd save time and bought some mini muffin things to use as the cakey insides of the spiders (I've gone so off packet mixes and premade stuff lately that it was a big thing to give in to time constraints), dipped them in melted chocolate and made do with Australian lollies that I thought would do the trick, and this is what happened...





Ta dah!

Definitely going with a 'horror' theme. Without Bakerella's to compare them to, they were fun, but won't be done again. I made about 11 and had had enough. So the remaining balls became hairy eyeballs or something equally scary. My hat is off to people with the patience for this sort of thing, and superior photography skills, who inspire the rest of us to attempt bizarre leaps of the finger food sort.

Now, little J and his mates did sleep out the back (eventually) and then made it known that they were awake at about 5am, so J has just had a FOUR HOUR afternoon sleep. Incredible. But boy, did he need it. And S decided she was sick and asked to put her pyjamas back on, and B is still totally clingy and snuffly, but they still photograph well (those are ink stamps on S's face). Lovely things.

Now, if you want to read a little about an inspirational artist, there's info about Susan King here. I can't seem to get onto her website, but I've just seen some of her work on Sunday Arts and it's fantastic.
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