Thursday, 28 June 2012

C is for Cookie (and Cupcake)!

It's a sunny day, and everything's A-OK!
Can you tell me how to make, how to make those Cupcakes?! :)

Before I attempted to make cupcakes by scratch, I had a small obsession with making Sesame Street cupcakes! They are so simple, and early in June, Ropes Crossing Church and I hosted a Ladies Baking Afternoon event, where 22 ladies met in my house, and I explained how I make these Sesame Street cupcakes! Hopefully you can tell who these characters are!

They really are as simple as coloured buttercream icing (I use margarine to make my icing, as it's a bit softer than butter), marshmallows, and some extra ingredients all put on top of a cupcake! Here are the instructions that I printed out for the day, so that people knew where abouts on the cupcake to place the ingredients, and what extra bits and pieces were needed for each character.

The pig could could easily become another Muppet character (as Kermit is also a Muppet, not a Sesame Street character), with some white curly frosting, and a pink sugar strap placed like a bow in the middle. I didn't show this at the Ladies Baking Day, but I have made her before, and she looks like this ->

As you can see, there were also a couple of flower cupcakes that I demonstrated at the Baking Afternoon. I do hope that everyone who came had fun learning something new and meeting new people! If you were interested in checking out some photos, feel free the 'like' Ropes Crossing Church on Facebook and have a look at them :)

As a crafty person, I really wanted to give something special as a take home 'gift' for the ladies that came. While shopping one day, I came across these mini whisks! Sooooo cuuuuute! I couldn't resist getting them, as they're even related to baking! Perfect! Then looking some more, I found mini spatulas! Genius. The mini whisks (at the store that sold more than 4 of them - as we were expecting 20+ ladies), were actually key rings, which allowed me to laminate some cupcake instructions, along with a bible verse, and attach them all together:

The bible verse attached to the gifts for the ladies comes from Ephesians, and the more I thought about the things that I make and do, I need to remind myself that I was made, too! 'Knit together in my mothers womb' (Psalm 139).

In different translations of this one verse that was given to the ladies who came and participated in the Baking Afternoon, I discovered that we (all) are:

- God's making
- God's accomplishment
- God's workmanship
... and my favourite


I am definitely looking forward to the next baking day,
but I'll have to master some different kinds of cupcakes first! :)

Monday, 25 June 2012

Bottle top art...

As I've mentioned previously, I collect bottle lids! (my husband is seriously getting close to organising an intervention... Or worse - a clean up!)

A friend of mine once told me that she had started collecting bottle lids (the big ones - like on juice and milk bottles) because they were all the same size! I hadn't paid much attention to bottle lids before then, so I started collecting them, too. Before I knew it, I was sneaking coloured bottle lids from friends' and families' recycling boxes, and putting them in my pocket on my way out of their homes! ... Habit? Addiction? Serious mental health issue that needed immediate attention and possible medication? Hmm...

Anyway, after washing and drying them, I was 'storing' all these bottle tops in one of my kitchen drawers... As the drawer was getting harder to close (not because of bottle lids, but because I also stored margarine and take-away containers in the drawer, too) it became apparent that I NEEDED to go through that drawer and sort it out.

This was the outcome of the lid collection:

So many bottle lids!
White - 66
Blue - 24
Light blue - 40
Very light blue - 2
Green - 24
Light green - 2
Yellow - 31
Red - 11
Orange - 9
Pink - 14
Dark pink - 1
Purple - 2
Black - 13
Brown - 2
Dark brown - 3
Light brown - 1
Gold - 1
Clear - 4

Total - 250 ... Far out!

As I Google'd what I could possibly do creatively with bottle lids, I came across a few interesting ideas. Bottle lid 'monsters', and bottle lid 'lady beetles' were my favourite. I then started playing around with ideas, and I had already painted some canvases with a sky and hilltops (that I had planned for another craft, but didn't get around to it), so thought that would make the perfect backdrop for some flowers! (And a lady beetle!)

I used PVA glue around the edges of the lids to stick them onto the canvas.
It took a little while to dry, but, ta-da!

This is what it looks like:

There's still a couple of finishing touches I'd like to do, like putting eyes on the poor little lady beetle, and somehow adding a strip of something (maybe green crepe paper?) down the stems of the flowers to cover up use-by dates...

Only 215 bottle lids to go :)

Friday, 22 June 2012

Music to the... Eyes!

I think I've mentioned that I love making 'themed' foods!?

Well, a couple of years ago, when I was just starting to accustom myself to the idea of cooking and baking (and cupcake making), I wanted to make something music themed for a karaoke night that was coming up at church! So I decided to make these! These 'musical' cupcakes are simple butter cakes, made with lemon icing, and melted chocolate to make the 'notes'.

On the trays (as I wanted the 'notes' to actually sit on a sheet of music), I used sliced licorice straps to create the music bars, treble clef, and bass clef :)

The hardest part was trying to get the licorice to actually stick to the tray (instead of curl up and back around to its original position)... So I 'wet' the licorice with a bit of water, and that seemed to work! It was also a bit tricky to keep the music bars as straight as possible, but it all worked out musically... I mean magically! :)

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Butterfly canvases...

Also, while we were on our holiday break at Easter, we visited Berridale Fair. At one of the stalls there, I saw a beautiful triple layer canvassy artworky thing, with a golden flower (I think) attached to the front in the middle. But for $60, I admired briefly, then quickly moved along!

... But then it occurred to me that I could probably do something like that myself anyway! I just needed canvasses, material, and an item to attach to the front! And I was sure it'd cost much less than $60.

When we came home (not straight away, but I WAS pretty eager to start my new artwork idea!), I went to Sam's Warehouse, bought different sized canvasses, and found a packet of five different coloured butterflies! Excellent! Then I went material shopping (with the butterflies in hand, holding them up against different fabrics! -I was too much in my own world to notice if people were giving me strange looks or not)

I got to work with my new items, and a stapler gun! After cutting and wrapping the materials onto the canvasses, I stapled the fabric onto the wood. Then I laid them out with their matching canvasses to see what they would look like, and how they would 'sit'. My first big challenge was working out how to actually attach each canvas to the other, because there were up to three different sized canvases to attach -with the hope of hanging them up on a wall- I couldn't just use glue or blu tac...

Then a good friend had the idea of using the stapler gun on the back of each canvas to attach them from behind... BRILLIANT! It worked so well, and because the edges of the canvasses were wooden, the stapler gun was perfect to hold them in place! The same friend had the idea of using PVA glue to hold the butterflies on, too, as I was originally thinking of sewing them on! Wow, glad I asked for someone else's opinion!! ... No one else sees the back, anyway, but this is what it looked like:

The idea that I had for these was to have three different sized canvasses, with the bigger canvas being patterned fabric, and the front smaller two having two different coloured fabrics, that both matched the patterned fabric (hence the fabric shopping WITH the butterflies in hand, and sometimes with the butterflies AND pieces of fabric!). This is one of the finished canvasses, though if I get time to 'fix' it, (or just do it again), I will swap around the pink and blue fabrics, because the butterfly looks better on blue, rather than pink...

With this next one that I made, I also had the idea of attaching (with PVA glue) little (fake) diamonds to each of the corners on the green fabric, to match the silver on the butterfly... I haven't gotten around to it yet, but I have the glue, and I have the diamonds... Perhaps I will finish it today... In fact, all of them would potentially look good with little sequins or diamonds on them, to give them that extra bit of 'bling' :)

It was tricky to match the canvas fabrics (to my standard), so there ended up being a couple with only two canvasses, as the patterned fabrics (that were to go on the back) were either too shiny or too light to really go well with the rest of it... But that's okay! I am certain I will find a use for both the canvasses AND the fabrics! :) ... These are two of the smaller (two canvas layer) creations:

These were really fun and super easy to make. You can most definitely choose any type of fabric, and choose any type of 'thing' to glue onto the front! It just so happens that I like butterflies, and Sam's Warehouse sells them in big, colourful packets! I also have a gold butterfly (from Spotlight) lined up for a similar canvas to the blue butterfly one, which didn't quite match the bigger canvas because that fabric had gold spotty sequins on it (a bit too much 'bling'!)... The gold/red/blue one will be triple layered...

Tamara is still waiting for her Purple and Pink themed butterfly canvas, which originally was going to have FOUR different sized canvasses on it! I'm not sure how it will work out, but hopefully soon I will be able to surprise her with the finished 'artwork'!

Stay tuned for when I (and I will!) update the blog with these two mentioned butterfly canvasses! :)

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Meet Jonathan...

"Out of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable." - Plato

On that note, allow me to introduce to you- Jonathan. He is 2, and he's a boy... What else needs to be said??

I'm a stay-at-home mum, which means I have the ultimate pleasure of the constant (I repeat, constant) love/hate relationship (especially since he's learnt the word "No!") with my youngest son, Jonathan. He is incredibly amusing, though, so I thought I would take this chance to share with you some of Jonathan's recent examples of how cute and funny (though sometimes -in the moment- frustrating) he can be!

Jonathan loves the outdoors. He loves sticks, rocks, dirt, and MUD! The day I allowed this to happen was a day when I thought "Sure, why not, what's a little mud- I'll just wash the clothes"... (It certainly beats the stress of trying to keep Jonathan OUT of the mud!) And at least he had gumboots on :)

During the Easter break, we stayed with my husband's family, who own quad bikes!! AND a massive 6,000 acre property! This is where my boys (all 3 of them) are in their 'zone'. Miles (literally) of land to explore, fresh air, quad bikes, and about a dozen dogs to play with! Jonathan certainly paid attention when he was on the mini quad bike with his brother and sister, because once he was on it alone, he FOUND THE THROTTLE! He knew how to make it go forward, but not how to stop OR turn! I am thankful for a fast husband, and kill switches!

Where we live, we are lucky enough to have many parks around us, all within walking distance (whether it's a 2 minute walk or a 10 minute walk)... OR if Jonathan is walking, it's sometimes a 30 minute walk... We also have a Community Centre that organises a 'Meet Your Neighbour' night each term. Last term's 'theme' was St Patrick's day, and the Hub was set up for the occasion. Amongst the novelty items, was a tiny green beer mug, which Jonathan used to go to the bar and get a 'refill' for his lemonade. It made the bartender laugh and made me laugh, too, as he was trying to be so careful bringing his tiny drink back to the table, that half had spilt out of each time!

Because Jonathan's such an active little boy, it can be tricky getting a good photo of him!! Lucky for him, I do not stop my attempts at photography when he goes to sleep.. From our collection of 'sleeping' shots, I think we have about sixty 21st invitation possibilities!

I've mentioned in a previous post that we recently got a new puppy! Well... This is Deefa :)
Jonathan LOVES Deefa!

For a little while after we got Deefa, we thought that maybe (as older siblings sometimes do when there's a new addition to the family) Jonathan started adapting his behaviour to be more like the new cute little puppy... He started sleeping on the floor.

And he always wanted to sleep RIGHT NEXT TO THE NEW PUPPY!

We are sometimes concerned about Jonathan's relationship with food... Often on Friday nights, when my husband is out at Youth Group, the kids and I will have a 'movie night'. We sometimes make popcorn to accompany the evening, and recently Jonathan's been watching it cook! He will no joke watch the microwave and listen to the pops for the whole 3 minutes, constantly asking if it was ready yet! And constantly commentating that it was indeed popping! But, if it's not about him WATCHING the food, it's about him WEARING the food! My favourite is his Spaghetti Bolognese face.

But when it comes to APPLES, he will only eat bits of them! In one morning... ONE MORNING (and I've since learnt to move the fruit bowl) I found 5 half eaten apples around the house!

Luckily, Deefa also likes apples!! Strange puppy :)
A couple of weeks ago, a small white kitten followed my husband home from his evening walk with the Deefa and the kids...  For the entirety of the weekend, Jonathan's new play thing was the kitten! He would pick it up, saying "my kitty", and wonder why she wouldn't stay on his lap for long! She was a cute kitten, whom I had temporarily nicknamed 'Kayfa' (If you weren't aware, Deefa = D for Dog, so Kayfa = K for Kitten)... I thought my husband was joking when he said he wanted a puppy, and wanted to name it 'Deefa'.

And that is a little bit about my youngest son, Jonathan. He's cute, he's funny, he can understand and have conversations with people now, he calls old men in the supermarket "Grandpa", he says "good morning" to anyone who passes us by on the footpath (or screams it from the other side of the road), and he has great manners, and always says (sorry, YELLS) "Dankoo" when you give him something... He loves wearing shoes (unless they're his own), taking off his pants, annoying his big brother and sister, squishing into tight spots, and picking his nose!

And that's why I love him so much!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

All jarred up!

"Collecting is an illness, and probably an incurable one." - Donald Hess


I don't know why, but a couple of years ago, I started collecting napoletana jars! I'd wash them (thoroughly of course), peel off the label, then store them away in the cupboard until I found a use for them... Surely something would come up, right!

Well, I DID find a use for them!! And am glad I was collecting them after all! (I still do, by the way).

I had collected about 20 jars when I finally Google'd 'gifts in a jar' and found this awesome site! Filled with so many wonderful recipes and ideas of things to put into jars, I almost didn't know where to start or what to choose! Finally, I had decided on a cookie mix! Then the fun began!

I needed to re-design the recipe a little bit to make it fit into the jars, but kept (I think) the proportions the same. So, for a cookie mix in a 500g napoletana jar, you will need:

1 cup self-raising flour (or 1 cup plain flour & 1/4 teaspoon baking powder)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
Your favourite cookie filling!

When you put them all into a jar, one at a time, and press them down flat (I used a plastic tamper from my old coffee machine for a 'flat' finish), they should look something like this:

You can do pretty much ANY cookie filling in these- they are so great. For the ones I made first (Cherry Ripe), I used:

3 mini Cherry Ripes, diced
1 table spoon of coconut (it was my husband's idea to add coconut!)
1/4 cup of chocolate pieces

(I mixed those ingredients in a bowl, then added the mix to the jar)

Simple, right! Then comes the even better part... Decorating the jar!

I designed a simple 'tag' to attach to my cookie mix jars, to let people know what it was, and what to add to these ingredients to make the cookies. I then printed them out, laminated them (I have too much time on my hands, I've been told, but I wanted them to be nice and pretty the first time, and it was worth it... Plus, if you're in the kitchen making cookies -or anything- things go splatter, and a piece of paper is likely to get all damp and mushy... So it's more a precaution, too? ... Anyway!)

So these were the tags that I had made for my first batch of Cherry Ripe Cookie Mixes in jars! Yay! When they were laminated, I simply punched a hole in the corner and they were ready!

Then I came to the 'lid'... Hmm... I had thrown out the original lids, so needed to come up with something else to seal them with... Then I  had a brilliant idea (well, I thought it was brilliant!) which would seal the jars AND add a bit of colour (which I could easily switch and change according to the cookie filling I had used) - A circled piece of cardboard, under a BALLOON! I just cut the neck off, and pulled it over the jar! Then put some cellophane on it, of course, to make it shiny and give it that finished, wrapped look :) - it was also handy to tie the recipe tag onto the ribbon that keeps the cellophane in place :)

And voila! Ingredients, cardboard, balloon, cellophane, ribbon, and a recipe tag, and you have a home-made Cookie Mix jar! I've used these for Christmas presents for my bible study group, and they make great presents for teachers, too :)

 ... I also collect bottle lids :)

Friday, 15 June 2012

A glass of wine at Christmas time...

For Christmas last year, I really wanted to give our families something different... And personal! Something that couldn't just be bought at the shops, or online... So after a little bit (massive amounts) of researching crafty things to make, I thought of painted wine glasses! I then Google'd some different designs for inspiration...

Determined to start this as soon as possible (as always when I have an idea of something to make!), I bought the wine glasses in bulk (that day!), and went to Spotlight to buy some glass paints :)

Once revealing to a friend my plan for painted wine glasses for family members, and because I thought it would be a nice touch to somehow involve my children in the painting as well (I don't handle painty mess very well- and they had to be perfect), he gave me the idea of printing out pictures, and sticking them to the inside of the glasses to 'paint over' - FANTASTIC! It worked beautifully, and the kids could join in the fun, and on the Christmas tag, we wrote which child had painted the glass for them! It was lovely.

Ben and Tamara helped choose which 'flowers' they thought each family member would like on their wine glass, so I printed out some outlines, and away we were! Tamara LOVED painting the glasses :)

Ben on the other hand, enjoyed it for a few minutes, but was more eager to get back to playing his PS3 game... I 'spose he gets that from his dad!

Flowers were the easiest to paint, and after the kids did their round of painting, I put on a second coat, painted the stems and leaves at the bottom of each glass, as well as drew on the outlines around the leaves and petals...

On the base of the wine glass, I wrote their names, too... To make it a bit more personalised :)

So that was one family done... Reuben's family became a bit trickier! I had originally thought of the idea of painted wine glasses when I was thinking of what to get/make for my father-in-law (a wine connoisseur)! Flowers for ladies worked well, and Reuben's brother and sister were given something EXTREMELY different!

Knowing this would be a winner with my brother-in-law (and it totally was!! - he took it to the Christmas lunch we had about 30 minutes after opening it) I painted the Batman symbol :)

My sister-in-law likes Phoenix's, but I had it in my mind that painting a Phoenix onto a wine glass would be far too advanced, and impossible for me!! But then I found an 'outline' of one, and it seemed to work! The 3 stage process of the Phoenix wine glass (and all of them, really) went like this:

And last but most certainly not least... A decision needed to be made for what would be painted on a wine glass for my grandmother-in-law... Something classy and stylish, and with a last name like 'Rose', I thought a rose would suit perfectly! Add a couple of butterflies, and you have a wine glass fit for a grandmother! She doesn't drink wine, but I think she liked it :)

Now I just need to find something new to make for our families for THIS Christmas! :)