Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mini Christmas Puddings: A Tradion in the Making

Here we are, only week till Christmas Eve. The last few days since J has finished school have gone past in a cyclone of activity - yet I don't feel I've actually achieved a whole lot. Today was one day that I thought I'd actually DO something purposeful with the boys. We made mini Christmas Puddings. The boys have been asking to do them for the past two weeks - how could I deny them the pleasure it gives them? So the date was set for today. And so, I guess, a Christmas tradition of our own is born.

They took turns crumbling up sections of the cake, and breaking up the chocolate while I cut glace cherries into halves. The whole process seemed to go so quickly, yet watching them do their part in turn was a heart warming sight. Mixing the melted chocolate in and rolling them into balls took a bit more effort with the big bowl of crumbly mess. I'm pretty sure the temptation to lick their fingers was there, but they worked on with a determination that kids twice their age might not have shown ( I'd promised them that they could have one when the last cherry was placed on top).

So here they are in all their small handmade glory (those that haddn't already been eaten by their creators, that is!)...

{Make It!}



1 Dark Christmas Cake
1 block of Cadbury Old Gold Chocolate (Or other dark chocolate of your choice)
1/2 cup (approx) White chocolate Melts
1/2 cup glace cherries (or as many as you think look good)

1. Crumble cake thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.
2.  Melt chocolate in microwave on a medium heat for about 90 seconds and stir until all lumps are melted.
3. Mix thoroughly through crumbled cake.
4. Roll into balls about the size of a golf ball or a little smaller.
5. Melt white chocolate on a medium heat for 60 - 90 seconds (If you choose to use more white chocolate, you will need a little more time than 60 seconds - it will also depend on your microwave).
6. Use a teaspoon to dollop white chocolate on top till it looks like custard running down.
7. Top with glace cherries and pop in the fridge till the chocolate sets.

These will keep in the fridge... till they all get eaten - it won't be long! ;)
They will keep in the freezer a bit longer than that.

   Bon Appetit!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Industrial Style Christmas Tree

 When you ask the man of your dreams to make you a Christmas tree with a difference, you have to be able to be open-minded - you never know what awesome creativity you may unleash! Here is the story (and his very FIRST post!!!) from his perspective...

When the wife says "Can you make me a quirky christmas tree?" it can be roughly interpreted as go to the shed and tinker - Awesome!

Mrs S  likes to find inspiration from blogs, magazines, realestate pics, etc.  I on the other hand went to the shed and started rummaging through the materials stash.  Can I make a christmas tree from.... ply - boring, bamboo - probably, fencing wire - interesting but not enough, cardboard - did that one other year, storm water pipe - bingo!

It met all my design criteria: cheap, recycled, not too big, and creative.

Mrs S was not so impressed with the storm water pipe concept, but probably because a few doodle circles on a page looked nothing like a christmas tree, and gesturing with a dirty piece of PVC pipe triggered the "that dirty piece of junk is not going inside my lounge room" response.
Undeterred, I retreated to the man cave, and fired up the power tools.  
If you're having a crack at it yourself, cutting it on the angle (I used 45 degrees) will make the finished tree taller and skinnier rather than short and fat if you just cut straight circles, but it does make it harder to stick together.

The PVC glue I had was starting to go hard..  It turns out that this is perfect for making christmas trees!  Place the pieces together. Mark where they touch.  Draw pencil lines down the side of pipe from the marks.  Then all you have to do is line up the big glue string dangling off the brush with the line, and hey presto! Glue just where it is needed, and no blue glue over everything.  I put little spring clamps on them to hold it still while I put glue on the next piece.  They were pretty much stuck by the time the next one was ready to add.

The trunk is a treated pine pole that was left over from another project.  It was a little tricky lining up the curve of the pipe, plus the 45 angle, and then free handing it through the table saw.  Decided it would have been much easier with a band saw.  Cutting the pipe would have been easier on a band saw, as my table saw lacked the height to get through in 1 pass.  Going to put the tree up on top of the bookshelf so a bandsaw will fit under it, and see if santa gets the hint :)

Half an old cupboard door for the base, a few screws to hold it together, some small holes in the top of each pipe section so the ornaments have somewhere to hang from, and you're done.

Pretty easy really.

Mrs S seemed to be pretty pleased with the result, and the kids were super keen to hang ornaments on it.  

Not sure it is finished yet, Maybe some lights in the holes between the sections, if I can hide the wires somewhere.  Perhaps next year.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Button Biscuits - {Gluten Free, Dairy Free + Soy Free}

I searched high and low on the net for a good button biscuit recipe. There were lots of cute ones around, but the recipes seemed more complex than I wanted to deal with. So I got out my Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits and browsed it's pages till I found something that I thought I could tweak to suit my needs. (MY Brother is both Gluten and Dairy intolerant, and my nephew is Soy intolerant, so that sometimes makes things a little bit of a challenge). It was actually Little Clam that found the recipe - Hundreds & Thousands Biscuits.

Here are my adaptations:


Print Recipe      

50g Nuttelex Lite
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon (Sanitaruim) Almond Milk
2/3 Cup Gluten Free self-raising flour
1/2 Cup Gluten Free Plain flour
A range of different sprinkles, and coloured fondant**
extra Almond Milk

Round Cutter *

Cream the Nuttelex, add sugar in small amounts till mixture is light and fluffy. Add beaten egg, almond milk, and vanilla. Sift in self-raising flour a bit at a time, followed by the plain flour untill the dough is firm enough to handle. Refridgerate for a couple of hours (while you go off and do the millions of other things that you needed to do today). Roll out dough to a 3 - 4mm thickness (the type of flour we used makes the biscuits puff up quite a bit) between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper. Cut with a floured cutter. Place on a biscuit tray lined with greaseproof paper, brush with almond milk, and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands. Press on slightly. Bake in a moderate oven for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool on trays.

* Round Cutter - I made mine from  a strip of a soft drink bottle taped together with packing tape since I didn't have any cutters small enough.

** I only put sprinkles on half of the cookies. The rest I baked without topping them and then cut out fondant circles later with the same cutter. I used a drinking straw to make the two holes in the middle of each one, and glued them on the biscuit by lightly brushing the back of the fondant with almond milk.

*** For ease of putting the sprinkles on neatly, place cutter of biscuit and sprinkle inside the perimeter.

Sharing here:
Nifty Thrifty Sunday

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cottage Cheese & Brown Rice Patties

For Baby Starfish's Cute as a Button first birthday celebrations I whipped up a big batch of Cottage Cheese & Brown Rice Patties. They are my favourite patties to have on hand. They are reasonably low in fat, freeze well and they taste AHH-MAZ-ING. I have even served them before for a family Valentines Day Dinner.

The difference this time was that I made them small. Teeny tiny by patty standards actually. About the size of a twenty cent piece, actually, they were a bit smaller than that. They take forever to shape when they are that small, let me tell you, but they were SO worth it! They didn't last very long on the table and even the birthday boy and his sweet little friend (who is six weeks younger) gobbled them up in a very short space of time.

So whip out your ingredients (or pop to the shop if you need to) and get cooking!

Cottage Cheese and Brown Rice Patties 


2 Cups cooked, day old, brown rice
500g (2 cups) cottage cheese
1 packet French Onion soup mix
2 eggs, beaten
1 onion
Olive oil (Just enough to pan fry with.)

1. Pre-cook the brown rice the day before according to the instructions on the packet. I use the absorption method.

2. Quarter an onion and place it in your food processor (you can grate it if you don’t have one). Add the eggs and turn on food processor till the onion is finely chopped and the eggs are beaten (unorthodox, but it’s quick and it works!)

3. Place rice, cottage cheese, French Onion soup, and the egg/onion mix to your mixing bowl and mix till combined.

4. Shape into patties, and roll in bread crumbs.

5. Fry till golden brown. Set aside on a tray lined with kitchen paper to drain any excess oil off.


Sharing here:
Nifty Thrifty Sunday

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On the Table: Creamy Tomato Gnocchi

In the midst of party planning here again, so I was keen to make something that wasn't too involved or time consuming. I had some gnocchi in the cupboard, but the site of the jars of pasta sauce was about as interesting as licking the gardening fork after a morning session of digging (although if you were my one year old, then the appeal levels go right up when it comes to consuming dirt and sand!!!). Slight dilemma. So off I went further rummaging through the pantry.

Ahhh yes. A can of Campbell's Tomato soup. MUCH better. Enter two carrots, a bunch of tiny broccoli florets, and a dash of cream and this is what I came up with.

Creamy Tomato Gnocchi. Yummm. It was such a hit with the family I thought I'd share the recipe with you.

{Make It!}

Print Recipe         

1 package of Golden Pasta Gnocchi Baby
1 tin of Campbell's Tomato Soup
2 Medium carrots - peeled , quartered and sliced
1 cup of broccoli florets - cut up small
Enough water to ½ fill the soup tin
Dash of cream (up to a scant ⅛ cup)
Parmesan and parsley to garnish.

1. To a pan of salted boiling water, add the carrot and broccoli.
2. Wait till the water comes back to the boil and add the gnocchi. Continue to heat till the water returns to the boil, and the gnocchi rises to the top.
3. Add tin of tomato soup to a separate pan, enough water to ½ fill the the tomato soup tin, and a dash of cream (add to your taste). Stir till it thickens and changes colour (It will get a more translucent look and you will know that the soup is ‘cooked’).
4. When the gnocchi starts to sink again, remove from heat and drain. Add the sauce and stir through.
5. Serve gnocchi with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan and garnish with parsley.

Bon Appetit!

Sharing here :

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mini Cafe-Style Muffin Wrappers

It's taken me a few days to get to this one from the sea of fever ridden brows that have been in my home for the past 2 weeks, but I've finally done it! Yippee!!! I give you (drum roll please)...

It really is so very simple to do. Take one roll of baking paper, either scissors or a roller cutter, a small cup (mine was the one that came with the children's Panadol), and a small dose of common sense. ;)

 1. Cut your baking paper to size. My Baking paper was 30cm across, so I made mine 15 x 15cm to fit my tin with about a 5.5cm overlap of the edge of the hole all the way around. (I figured it out by the diameter of the hole + depth + however much I wanted it to sit above the pans edge).

2. Find a cup of some sort that fits your muffin pan in both depth and shape (Thank you Panadol - you're terrific!)

3. Lay the paper centered over one of the holes in your muffin pan. Press down firmly. At this point it will only really shape the bottom rim of the paper well. On to the last step!

4. Press the folds in around the cup that started to form when you pushed it into the pan. Repeat as many times as needed. Genius!!!

Now all you need is something to fill them! Get your quick and easy quiche recipe here.


Sharing here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Button Sized Impossible Quiche

I love Quiche. I love it hot. I love it cold (on a hot day anyway!). I love it with either salad or veggies. So it was a no-brainer that I would make individual quiche for Baby Starfish's birthday celebrations... but with a twist. I wanted teeny tiny ones. One of my beautiful friends Margaret loaned me the BEST EVER sized mini muffin pans, but I don't know about you, I hate trying to dig things out of any pan - even when they are greased - so I decided that they would need a liner - preferable cafe style (I'll be back with a how-to for that one later. Edit: Here's the tutorial).

They were delish. They were better than delish. They were scrummy (does anyone else besides me use that word? You know, scrumptious and yummy smooshed together?)! Aaaannnnndddd... they were gluten free and dairy free! (My brother reacts to both, so I like to cook things that he can eat).

So you know you want to make some now, don't you. Pick up the printable version of the recipe using the link or read on for more info.

Button Sized Impossible Quiche
Gluten and Dairy Free options listed


3 - 4 Eggs (depending on the egg size)
½ Cup Self Raising Flour (I used gluten free)
¼ Cup Melted Butter or Margarine (I used Nutalex)
1 ½ cups milk (I used Lite So Good, a soy milk)

The fun stuff:
This can be varied, depending on the flavour you are hungering for.

½ Cup of small, diced Pumpkin. Sauteed.
½ Cup of finely chopped Spanish Olives
1 Onion, finely diced and sauteed.
8 or more semi-sun dried Tomato halves, diced.
A little olive oil to saute with.

1. Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.

2. Prepare mini muffin pans (or whatever you are using).

3. Prepare the fun stuff. I sauteed the onion, and the pumpkin (separately) in about 1 tsp of Olive Oil and set them aside.

4. Mix the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl (I was lazy and used my Kenwood Chef)

5. Add the fun stuff.

6. Bake at 150 deg C for about 10 minutes, or until golden looking and springs back to the touch. Let cool in pan.

Serve these on a plate for a party or pop some in your kid's lunch box's - you'll be one popular Mum!
Happy Baking!

Sharing it!                               

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cute as a Button Party: Part 1

So I'm finally taking the time to sort through all the photos from Baby Starfish's Cute as a Button Party.
I first hit the idea of a button party for him simply because right from when he was born, he was dubbed button, and his older brothers took the name and ran with it - so to speak.

Here are a few shots from the day...

Button Party Table

Button Birthday Cake

 Button Candle + Button Sized Patties

Button Biscuits

Cafe Style Button Sized Quiche

Button Tags for Drinks

Piles of Chocolate buttons... Mmmm!

Hope you enjoyed the little peek - There are more tutorials and recipes coming!
Also Coming Soon - Cute as a Button Party: Part 2

Till then...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Button Inspired Birthday Candle + Tutorial

Have you ever seen something, and known that you like it, but that it needed some improving to make it what you want? That's the way I felt when thinking about a birthday candle for Baby Starfish. By the way, being that he is fast leaving his baby days behind him and moving full throttle into toddler-dom, I think I may have to start calling him something other than "baby" - any suggestions? Please??? But I digress...

I bought a blue rimmed numeral 1 candle at Spotlight, but in the scheme of what I had hoped for, it was a tad dull. Enter a little post I found on glamming candles up a bit and this is what I came up with. It was so easy, fairly quick (there was a little pause for drying time before I flipped it over and repeated the process on the other side) and I love it. Want to make one too? Has it inspired you to work your own artistry of your own on a candle?

{MAKE IT!}  

Materials needed:

              Numeral candle or something similar
              (there is no reason that you can't use another surface as long as it can lie flat
              while the paint dries.)
              3-D crystal paint (or the coloured version)
             An array of small buttons - the smaller the better!

  1. Lie the candle on a flat surface.
  2. Fill the inner area of the candle without flooding over the  coloured rim.
  3. Carefully lie each button on top of the glitter paint.
  4. Wait for the first side to dry before flipping it over and repeating the process on the second side.

Voila! Now go and make some memorable moments. :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

At a loose end...

This has got to be one of the most basic posts I have ever written. I'm sitting in the ER waiting to see a Dr. Because I sliced the pad off my left index finger. I know. I haven't felt this silly in a long time. It all started when I was making dinner. Why I chose to wrangle with an unruly tin opener and a tin I will never know so no pictures of the scone topped casserole I was preparing I'm afraid. Instead, the fixings are sitting on the kitchen bench awaiting my return (unless hubby put it in fridge for me while I'm sitting here).

I'm not going to show you a photo of my finger either - just too gross (even with a dressing on it) since it won't stop bleeding. I have this horrid feeling that this might cramp my crafting abilities for a while. I guess that might give me a chance to show you some of the things I've been up to over the past couple of months.

OK. I've just seen the Dr. and had a new dressing put on. Wheeeeeeww it hurts! Basically I sliced the top layer off my finger and some of the next layer in about a 1.5cm  square area. Hello tetanus shot. Hello dressings getting changed for the next couple of weeks - possibly month. Hello showering with a glove...and wearing one for anything else that is wet for the next 4 weeks. Wish me all the best as I change nappies, hang washing, cook and clean folks!

Hope your week is of to a better start! :)

Sheree x0x

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

S is for...Sweet

One of the things that I first came up with for Baby Starfish's party was a letter S covered in buttons... but every place I looked for letters, the letters were too small for what I was looking for. Hmm. What to do. Put on creative cap and use my own imagination of course!

I started with some sheets of corrugated cardboard (the ones I used came in the packaging for the boy's new doona covers - win-win, recycling and I get to make decor with it) and PVA glue. After gluing the sheets together, I free handed a letter 'S' and then started cutting through the layers with a craft knife. That was about when the Hubs came in and offered to cut it out on the bench saw. Now before you say "why didn't you think of that first, Sheree?", I have a confession to make... The bench saw scares me (well, with something that fiddly, anyway!). So like a sensible girl, I said yes. Really. Who wouldn't.
I then covered each surface with card stock in Kaisercraft CD150 island.

1. First I covered the front and back sides, cutting the card stock a bit bigger than the corrugate.

2.Then I put little snips in the edges to let it bend and glue down like so.

3. After that came the sides, since they would be visible at the end and I wanted them to be smooth... I could have done it the other way around in hind-sight (sides first, then front/back). I didn't get any photos of that except just before I attached them - you'll have to use your imagination.

Next up was the buttons. I looked through my stash. Barely enough there to make a dent in the whole "cover the front" concept, so I made a trip to Spotlight (I think Joann's is probably the US equivalent, or there abouts) and sourced a big bag of craft buttons and a few cards of pretty decorative ones.

All that was left was to arrange them. I sat the letter S on a big blank canvas so that if any little wayward button decided to break ranks it was easy to retrieve, and then using my lampshade glue I sat in front of the TV and glue, glue, glued my little heart out for about a hour. Yep. An hour. But I can be pretty slow and pedantic, so I'm sure other's could probably do it in less time. Et Voila!

One letter S perfect for Baby Starfish's first birthday bash, and then to be relegated to bedroom decor. Woo hoo!

Sharin' here:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Playing with Buttons

Want a little peek at something that's had me a little preoccupied? 

Take a guess at what I'm up to... then check back tomorrow to see the beginning!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Baked Pear Custard

I've been a little bit absent lately, haven't I? Or perhaps that should be a LOT. I still can't believe that I basically missed Autumn! Not for lack of making things - although the opportunities for such has been pretty limited - I'm making the most of the little snatches of time that I have.  I thought I would share the baked pear custard with you that I have been making with all the lush, juicy pears that have been around (the ones that didn't get eaten, that is!) for dessert. I don't tend to make desserts all the time, but I do like to treat my boys a couple of times a week.

With the change in the seasons kicking in strongly this week, I thought it high time to make something a little fitting with the change. This dessert is great because you can eat it hot or cold - and both are equally lovely. It's so simple and quick to whip up it makes you wonder why you don't make it more often (this is the second time I've made it).

Baked Pear Custard
Print Recipe                   
2 pears, thinly sliced
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 tsp custard powder
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups of either milk or So Nice, heated

Arrange pear over the base of lightly greased ramekin dishes or  baking dish.

Combine sugar and custard powder, then whisk in eggs and vanilla. Gradually add hot milk to egg mixture.
3. Pour egg mixture over pears. Bake in a slow oven, 150 degrees C, for one hour or until set.


Sharing here:
36th Avenue

Friday, March 1, 2013

Picking a Winner the Old Fashioned Way

Picking a winner for February's giveaway went something like this...

One Jellyfish hand... he was sitting on the floor - so he couldn't see ANYTHING!

So I couldn't help myself - I had to throw in a tiny zippered bag that I made out of Australia stamp print fabric and some tiny pink lipsticks in pink hues for Jess and her girls - especially as it's the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere!

Hope you all have a great weekend!