31 July, 2010

An in-between post

Just for posterity, I'm reporting that I'm joining in with pottymouthmama's habit plan -

and the habit I am going to master (and look, it's not a biggie) is to drink 10 glasses of water each day.
In doing so I'll at least have less TIME in my day to stuff my face with other comforting things. And I do like to drink water. I'm just out of the habit - until tomorrow, when I will be back in it. And that's that.

And if you haven't read it already, you should go read this hilarious blog - Make Mine Mid Century.
She's prolific and has a gift with words (and has four kids which contributes to the wierd parallels our lives sometimes seem to have).

And I'm also getting my act together body wise and using Trish to help me. She's turning 40 a month after me, and boy, I've got some work to do. The stupid thing is that I know what I need to do, and yet, am not even close. So the reminders that she's posting, and the 'truthful tuesdays' that she's promising, will surely do more good than harm.

And for a little bit more papercut love, this is from 'thetimeisnow' on etsy. Lovely.

I've got some more papercut ideas that have yet to come to life, so the inspiration is welcome.

And that is it for now, have a great weekend!

29 July, 2010

My Creative Space - Yeehar

I haven't finished it yet, but this is the main painting I'm sending to a local art show next Monday. I have still got to add some glazes, making the colours richer and making the background recede more successfully.

The only way I could do this was with the help of my mother and husband looking after the children. So it has been a big job for all of us. And it felt SO GOOD to get stuck into a painting again. Let's hope someone sees it and can't resist...

For more creative spaces, head over to the lovely kootooyoo (you should see the great lace lights she's made...).

28 July, 2010

Yummy Boozy Roast

I'm having trials with keeping a three-year-old in bed tonight, and am not feeling as patient as this post may sound.

Luckily tonight was not totally lost, as my oldest son did his first roast using the ingredients above. This recipe was mentioned by a friend just last night, so it was my first time too.

We put a 1.8kg lump of beef in a casserole dish, poured over the Guiness, then the plum sauce, and finished by sprinkling over the french onion soup mix. Put the lid on the pot and into the oven at 180 degrees. Two hours later - voila! Delicious.

My friend, Suzanne-the-Sauce-Queen, could no doubt have done wonders with the liquid in the pot. But we ate it with green beans and mashed potato and it was terrific. And the leftovers will be very handy.

And I think I needed the iron. Very tired. So goodnight!

26 July, 2010

Really good chocolate patty cakes

Firstly, apologies for the quality of the pics - it was late. But I had to share. Here they are, already in the tupperware, ready to be frozen for school lunches (and to keep them safe from me).

I've made a lot of cakes in my time, but these choc cupcakes are REALLY yummy.Verging on 'melt-in-your-mouth' when eaten warm from the oven. Just ask my husband.

They're from this book (another late-at-night photo, sorry) -

I've made lots of lovely cakes from this book actually (vanilla, hummingbird, carrot, lumberjack, zucchini) and it was the book that really gave me the 'secrets' to a great cupcake, including beating the butter for a few minutes before adding the sugar. Of course that means that we have a lot more noisy beater time now, but ah, they're so much better. Of course, the decoration in the book was a lot prettier than my 'school lunch' version. But Masterchef was on and I had places to go, people to see.

Here's the recipe. They say it makes 24. I say it makes 24 big cupcakes and about 36 mini ones from the one batch.

Chocolate Birthday Cakes - keeps 2 days, freezes 2 months

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsps bicarb
  • 1 tsp baking powder (I only had SR flour tonight, so I replaced these first 3 ingredients with that and it worked fine)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp instant coffee granules (I'll probably only add 2 next time, but the kids are still liking 3)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 200g softened unsalted butter
  • 2.5 cups caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla

Method (my words)
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Put out patty papers.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coffee, hot water and cocoa until smooth. Then add the cold water and whisk again.
  4. In another bowl cream the butter for 1-2 mins. Add the sugar 1/3 at a time, beating for 2 mins after each addition and then beating until sugar has almost dissolved. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 min after each addition or until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat again!
  5. Add flour and cocoa mix alternately, about 1/3 at a time, beating on low until thoroughly combined. Don't overbeat though, or they'll be tough.
  6. Spoon into papers. If you don't want them to crack on top, wait 20 mins before baking. Cracking doesn't bother me, so I just went straight ahead and baked them for about 20 mins (less for the mini size). Cool on wire rack before icing.

I did a simple cocoa/icing sugar/butter/milk  icing and added sprinkles.

Love them. And the kids are stoked. We've got enough for a few weeks. Very happy. Do try them.

25 July, 2010

What you wear can change your life

This is the book I was reading one night when I realised my husband and I are REALLY quite different.

He was reading 'Teach Yourself Latin'. (He is a history teacher, so I suppose that's ok.)

Today was a bit of a redletter day, with me finally getting back to some painting this afternoon, while the kids enjoyed the solo parentage of their father. It's a big thing. B is still breastfeeding, but can go most of the day without. So with help, I can be free from time to time. And it feels good.

Pip has just asked the question - "What’s your making style?"  explaining that she has to dress down to be really creative, and if she's even a little bit 'fancy' she feels the need to take herself out for coffee.

To be creative, this is what I wear (winter version). Taken just now, at night, of the reflection in the door.

Not flattering. Definitely not fancy. Very comfy. Pretty sure Trinny and Suz would not approve.

Before the most recent babies, I got to wear an outfit like this most days of the week. And I loved it.

Today I moved my 'studio' (paints, brushes, canvases, etc) into my mother's studio (to separate me from the kids more successfully) and worked on this piece for the Downlands Art Show that's coming up. Three hours straight. It felt fantastic. I dissected the composition and I'm rebuilding it on the canvas. When all the colours are up, I'll add glazes and movement (well, that's the plan). This is what I got done.

You can see that it was light outside when I started, and was dark when I finished up. It's upside down, by the way. NB - it's a merry-go-round...

I don't always paint this 'bitsy' way, but it's a good way for me to get back into the swing of it again and rebuild my confidence.

And the best news is that mum's helping me with the kids tomorrow so I get to spend some more time on it.

I'm thinking I might do some posts on my painting tips. Interested? It'd make me move forward, knowing that you're waiting to hear more! Are you keen?

22 July, 2010

My Creative Space - Daily Bread

Friends started using their breadmaker again last week, which spurred me on to get our ancient breadmaker out of the laundry cupboard, so today this is what my creative space looks like.

Still haven't seen any stylists using my tip about the Peppa Pig plate...

I'd never baked bread in it without a mix before, but after a bit of googling, this is the basic recipe I used, and I added a handful of mixed seeds that I had in the pantry.

I've just put another batch on and set the timer so it'll be done at 3.10 - just in time for after school. So this is what it looks like now -

On an totally different note, did you know if you don't have softened butter you can just grate it for the same result (why did I only just figure that one out?).

B wonders the same thing...

Thanks for all the hairdressing comments on my last post so far - I really appreciate your ideas and insights.

My next question is - what would it take to get you to CHANGE hairdressers? Is it price, personality, bonuses... what would you think was enough?

OK, paintings due for an art show soon. Will be mulling over hairdressing ideas as the paintings come out of the end of my brush ... that's the plan anyway!

For more creative spaces, head over to kootooyoo!

21 July, 2010

Now let's talk about hairdressers...

I've never done this on the blog before, but I've just taken on a client who is a hairdresser, and I'm putting together some ideas for their, quite elegant, salon.

So what I'd like to know from you is:
- the WORST thing about going to the hairdresser, and
- the thing you love BEST about going to the hairdresser.

And if you have been wooed by some marketing that really spoke to you, I'd love to hear about that too.

Myself, I think parking and timings are difficult things with appointments (and babies), and one of my biggest frustrations is that I'm nearly 40 and still don't know of a haircut that I'd love.

My happiest hair period was when I was making regular appointments with a hairdresser that was a terrific cutter, and her salon had heaps of natural light, fantastic coffee and homemade biccies.

I'd love to hear your stories!

20 July, 2010

More colours!

It's still all about hankies around here folks.

I've finalised my packaging (going with the papercut theme and the doilies remaining from the recent party) and am really happy with it. Neat and easy to post, but personal. There's a little story about them on the back too.

To thank my first madeit customers, I've done a small run of these 'solitary girl' hankies, and am including them as a thank-you with each new order until they're gone. So if you're one of the lucky first eight, they'll be making their way to you very soon.

And I've printed the 'Bless You' design onto red and blue - which I love. The white is so crisp and clear, and there's plenty of room around the outside if you really have to blow your nose or something. I have just listed two of each in the new shop.

Now that this project is up and running, I can turn to other things (like cooking dinner I guess).

Actually, it's as if since B turned one and is a little more independent, interesting business opportunities have been coming my way. I've never been a marketing consultant and had a blog before (I have done the marketing thing, before the blog) - and I'd really appreciate your feedback on a few things. So start thinking what you like and don't like about hairdressers, and we'll chat about that tomorrow, shall we?

Bless you all!

18 July, 2010

A little hanky panky is afoot

I've screenprinted some hankies - and I'm really happy with them.

Here is my son modelling 'hanky panky' (I didn't let him keep it - I made him have 'bless you' - because there's only so many more years that I can do that).

As you dear readers that have been following me lately know, I did this papercut a little while ago -

And a couple of days ago I turned it into this -

And then I built myself a brand new little madeit store (I'm totally over my old site and this is step one in my rebuild) to list them on.

At the moment there are two designs in these colours -

My mum (and currently my best 'customer') has already snatched up three, and has advised me to 'see how they go' (I'm prone to throwing myself into making a hundred of things before I test the market), so that's what I'm doing. If you like, please let me know.

A couple of months ago I started keeping a few hankies in my bag, mainly for wiping faces, hands and knees (moreso than tears and noses actually) and I have really enjoyed using them. So I'm hoping I'm not Robinson Crusoe here.

I also think they'd be great to pop in a card for a girlfriend, add to a personal gift, or send to someone who's sad. So if they're not a hit with you lot, I'll be using them all myself anyway.

If they are a hit, I'll happily print more and more and more... and take over the world one hanky at a time!!! Mwahhahhhahhhaaaa!!!!!

Yeah sure. I'll calm down and finish packaging them first maybe. They're not going to make my millions, but I really do love them. Hope you do too.

16 July, 2010

My Creative Space - Bless You

I really didn't think I'd get anything up for Kootooyoo's Creative Space Thursday this week, having had kids on hols 'til Tuesday, then cute but clingy little ones and a husband away for work. But this project has been on my mind for weeks, and when they all finally went to sleep tonight, I cleaned up the kitchen and got stuck into it.

I've got lots of plans to change my website around, and perhaps open a madeit store, and these will be my first 'new' items in a while.

The folding's still covering the lounge mind you. Maybe tomorrow...

12 July, 2010

LOVING papercuts

I've been so interested in papercuts lately. Thought I'd research a little and spread the inspiration.

It's been happening at the home of  Kylie from 3 Sheets -

And Karen O'Leary does these amazing hand cut maps from large blank sheets of paper.

Craig Ward incorporates type into his papercuts -

Julene Harrison does amazing things too -

And of course, the pretty amazing Skinny La Minx  makes all sorts of things from her papercuts - 

Now off to finish the folding (again) so I can find some time with the scalpel...

Projects for Paula

Two Friday's ago my desk makeover was featured in a lovely article by Caroline at Salsa Pie.

Caroline not only has her main site, she also has a complementary "How To" site with instructions for the projects she features.

With nearly four kids, Caroline has just decided to manage her posting schedule to include a recipe, a project and a featured person each week, and she really does have some lovely ideas.

So, dear Paula, it's a good place to stop and perhaps gather inspiration for regaining some of your art/craft mojo. I know you can do it!

09 July, 2010

Procrastinating about my really real life

Today we were meant to go to Brisbane and visit friends. But B had a quick trip to emergency with asthma last night, so we've decided to stay home and be sensible today.

Which means instead of doing this - 

Pic from here
(yes, Helen and Annie, I had high expectations), I'm doing this -

and there is still this lot to deal with too - 

(it was much happier as a merry-go-round I think).

I've already done a bit of this -

which is handy for finding things like this -

and even this -

(there's nothing like being prepared). 

B, through her wheezing, has decided a new 'up do' might help her feel better - 

And S has decided to choose her lunch from her literary references -

(and yes, that's a nappy OVER her pants - we're having some issues there).

Speaking of literature, I did just finish "Mao's Last Dancer", finally, which was a pleasant change from my usual library of bedside tomes - 

This is my latest favourite though - hilarious.

OK, enough chatting. Thanks for coming by. I'm now going back to sort out this - 

Yep. Looking forward to the next party actually...

If you've got a moment, check out this great post about mummy bloggers at mamamia.

08 July, 2010

My Creative Space - The Third Birthday Challenge

Look, I don't have pay TV, so maybe it's been done before, but I'm thinking that kids party "event management" could be the next reality TV "big thing". And this has been my creative space this week.

The Challenge - to do a not-to-stressy three year old's birthday party at home, with a merry-go-round theme, for seven little (and admittedly non-judgemental) guests.

The Conditions - daylight hours are out due to normal household/parenting stuff, you need to breastfeed every couple of hours and there'll be lots of siblings coming too because it's school holidays.And don't go stupid with the budget.

The Reality -  And I'm happy to admit a lot of this party was about me - and how I wanted to do my child's birthday party. I really like to make memories for all of us, and to be able to look back on the year and have it punctuated by memorable and happy events. That's why I stay up late and do this crafty stuff. Often things don't quite go to plan, and I was a bit frantic just before the 10am deadline (with heavy editing I'm sure it could have been entertaining) but all things considered, this one was a goodie.

There were quite a few kids and the rain held off just long enough...

The hobby horses were a hit. I ended up making six (for seven guests - I know - but I was obviously a little bleary that night, but then I was pretty sure I could count on at least one little one refusing to participate) and my self-imposed condition was that I had to use fabrics and ribbons from my stash. With my mother-in-law's help, I stuffed them with the innards of some old (washed) pillows but I did buy some lovely new broomsticks (not too expensive though). I used the darning foot to 'free motion' stitch around the eyes (felt circles with a top layer of clear plastic) and predictably stabbed myself with the needle - geez, is there a secret about that foot that I don't know about?

Used this video tutorial for inspiration to make the horses.

The clothesline carousel was great (there were more kids involved just before I took this photo - really!).

The cake was fun, but I gave up on the idea of having a cake on the top too and used a circle of cardboard with a wedge cut out of it to make a pointed roof thingy.

And there is no such thing as a horse-shaped cookie cutter in this town (seriously - don't little girls like ponies anymore? I thought they'd be so easy to find...), so those horses are shaped with a play dough cutter and skewered with well, a skewer. S wanted a red cake, so I used Cathie's recipe for Red Velvet Cake, and it rose and rose... would have been perfect to cut into four layers for this cake icing attempt actually.

And finally, some thank-you bags containing some odd bits and pieces that I hoped little ones would like.

The Judgement - with a bit of grandmotherly and friendly help in the kitchen, almost everything went according to plan.

When asked what her favourite part of the day was, S replied, "The merry-go-round cake".

Better than anything Gary, George or Matt could have said.

For more creative spaces, head over to Kirsty at Kootooyoo.

And here's cheers to a husband who is starting to 'get' my blogging and actually offered to help take a photo of the horses. Thanks D.

And about that reality TV show - I'd be keen, but sorry, I'm too busy doing it for really real.
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