Friday, December 30, 2011


I had the opportunity to pick some raspberries this week from a friends bountiful patch, and gathered about 500gms. They are delicious, and there is nothing like fresh raspberries straight from the cane.   Instead of making just jam, which is a habit of mine when I have berries, I decided I should expand my berry cooking repertoire.

First I made what I am calling Raspberry Cheesecake Muffins. I used the tried and trusted Caramalised Strawberry Shortcake recipe. Only this time instead of using whole Granita biscuits as the base I used chocolate biscuits which I blended in the food processor and added to a bit of melted butter to it. I used enough to make a cup full. I then made the filling and mixed a cup of whole raspberries into it and stirred. I admit that despite the muffins not looking very pretty they tasted great, which I think is ultimately more important.

Secondly, I made a Raspeberry Roly-Poly from this Blueberry Rol-Poly Recipe. I have used this recipe with both blueberries and blackberries and each time it tastes great, so I thought I may as well give it a try with raspberries. Again it is not picture perfect, but I was super happy with the taste.

This is how it turned out...

But this how it is meant to look. This was made earlier in the year with blackberries.

And lastly, I gave in and made some jam. I threw in about 250 grams of strawberries, 150 grams of blueberries and 150 grams raspberries and made what I am calling Summer Berry Jam. I also used the juice from one lemon and about 550 grams of sugar. I should have taken a photo of it while it was on the stove as it was such a wonderful colour but I always forget about such things. So here is a photo of it in the jar. Not as stunning but at least it is something.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Break

Since Daniel has been home since last Friday, I have been living the life of luxury. I haven't had to dress Nicholas, feed him solids, give him a bath or even change his nappies. Daniel has really stepped up in into the position of being a stay-at-home father while he has been on holidays, and I am loving it! I am loving that Nicholas and Daniel are spending lots of time together. He is definitely 'Daddy's little boy'. The other when Nicholas woke, I went into his room to pick him up and give him his morning hug, and as soon as Daniel walked in the room he started pushing me away and put his arms out for Daniel. 

I have actually been enjoying having a little bit of freedom. I went into town the other day with Mum for a few hours and when I returned Nicholas was asleep and had been for about 2 hours! I was super impressed. This has also meant that in the last few days I have had the opportunity to spend some time in the kitchen preserving and baking.

I made some more mango chutney, as it was super delicious and I didn't make enough jars at Christmas time to leave any for us. We have already opened up a jar and used it on toasted sandwiches. I can't envisage it lasting the entire year.

I also made some Rhubarb and Strawberry cordial. I used strawberries from the garden and rhubarb that I bought from a small local market. I doubled the recipe (kind of). I used about 4 cups of strawberries instead of two, and I had 9 stalks of rhubarb so I just put them all in. I doubled the water and sugar content, but only used 3 lemons, as I thought four lemons might make the drink a bit sour. It made about 2 litres. I also sterilised the jars so it would last a bit longer. I have already given one bottle away to friends and plan the drink the other on New Years Eve.

It is delicious and tastes like summer.

I also gave this bottle of Blackberry and Apple cordial (and the card) to a friend yesterday to say thank you for lending me her baby bassinet when Nicholas was born. It was such a blessing not to have to buy one.

And here is a another decorated bottle of Blackberry and Apple cordial from earlier in the year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hark The Herald Angels Sing

Hark The Herald Angels Sing 
Hark the herald angels sing

"Glory to the newborn King!

Peace on earth and mercy mild

God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations rise

Join the triumph of the skies

With the angelic host proclaim:

"Christ is born in Bethlehem"

Hark! The herald angels sing

"Glory to the newborn King!"
Christ by highest heav'n adored

Christ the everlasting Lord!

Late in time behold Him come

Offspring of a Virgin's womb

Veiled in flesh the God head see

Hail the incarnate Deity

Pleased as man with man to dwell

Jesus, our Emmanuel

Hark! The herald angels sing

"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!

Hail the Son of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings

Ris'n with healing in His wings

Mild He lays His glory by

Born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth

Born to give them second birth

Hark! The herald angels sing

"Glory to the newborn King!"

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Along with cards this year, Daniel and I also made mango chutney to give to family and friends. We then covered them with paper and twine, and used some Stampin' Up bits and pieces to finish it off. I hope it tastes as nice as it looks :).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Let Us Paint!

We finally got around to painting the salt dough ornaments. Aren't they grand!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Musical Monday!

Being Christmas, I have been listening to a bit of Christmas music lately. However, finding decent Christmas music that it is enjoyable can be difficult. As kids the only Christmas album we owned was John Denver's 'Christmas Like a Lullaby', and it was played every year on Christmas Eve as we open up our presents. I can't say it is my favourite Christmas CD, but having listened to it every year since I can remember, it brings back lots of good memories.

This year I have been listening to three Chirstmas albums. First is Sufjan Stevens 'Songs for Christmas'. I love this album. It has fives discs, produced from 2001-2006, with songs ranging from Amazing Grace to Jingle Bells. If I had to choose a favourite though, it would have to be Come Thou Font of Every Blessing.

The second is 'A Very She and Him Christmas'. Patty from The Plaid Cupcake suggested it to me, and I am glad she did. It is just so sweet and lovely.

And the third, of course, is Handel's 'Messiah'.

What have you been listening to this Christmas?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Oh Christmas tree!

This our Christmas tree.

It was originally meant to be an advent calendar. However, my Mum never got around to putting pockets onto it, so it turned into a Christmas tree. I like it because it conveniently doesn't take up a lot of space. Plus, it doesn't leave a mess.

As kids we always had a traditional Christmas tree, but since leaving home I have never been bothered buying one. It just didn't seem important. This year, since having Nicholas though, I have viewed Christmas a little differently. For the first time in ages, I have been excited about Christmas. I've been listening to Christmas music, putting up decorations, as well as making decorations, reading and talking to Nicholas about the birth of Christ, making lots of handmade presents, writing Christmas cards and spending time with family and friends. It has been fun. Since having kids, my sister is always commenting on how much more exciting Christmas is, and I think I would have to agree.

So when I drove past this sign,

I just couldn't resist taking one :). So we bought a few decorations and put it on the front porch.

I also bought this nativity scene template that I will eventually sew together, but probably not before next Christmas. I like it because it doesn't have tiny pieces that could become stuck in a little person's mouth.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sew busy!

Since setting up the sewing machine last week, I have been using it every opportunity I can. So far this is what I have achieved:

Three stockings!

A little hat for Nicholas. It is for Christmas but I couldn't help but try it on him. So cute!

I bought the pattern from here.

I made two of these Pixie Hats. One for my niece (for Christmas), and the other for my first-cousin-once-removed, who was born on Sunday night. For these two hats I used 100% wool felt. Next time though I might try making my own.

I have also almost finished these bowling pins (for my nephew, for Christmas), and this jumper for Nicholas. I'll put some pictures up when I am finished.

I am pretty happy with my progress this week. Left in my pile of sewing is a top and a dress for me, some more nappies, and a patchwork quilt I started making for Nicholas before he was born. I am hoping I can have them all finished by the end of January.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

7 months.

I know it is a bit daggy, but every month on the 13th, Daniel and I have started taking a little family photo.

This was taken at six months, while having a BBQ at the park.

This is our seven month shot. Nicholas looks a little shocked!

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Recently, a little blackbird has come to enjoy the strawberries in our garden. This has lead us to putting up a net and so far it is working. It was very confused this morning by all the netting over the strawberries. It was hoping around everywhere, trying to find a way under the net. This really was a test to see how firmly Daniel had weighted down the net, and so far so good.

Here is Daniel setting it up.

And here it is keeping the blackbird out. What a great job. Thanks heaps Daniel :).

Actually, whenever I think of blackbirds, I think of these two songs:

Christmas Cards!

Daniel, on my request, very kindly and creatively designed our Christmas cards this year, and I am very happy with the final outcome :). He is so clever!

Thanks Dan :).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Salt Dough Ornaments

Being December now, I thought it was about time Nicholas and I got into the Christmas spirit and had a go at making some Christmas decorations, and so it wouldn't be too boring I invited some friends along as well.

This was my first time ever making salt ornamendents, so when the recipe said to leave the ornaments in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius I didn't think much of it until I needed to open the windows and turn on the fan because they were burning :(.

Even though we are going to paint them, I felt that they were just a little too burnt to give back to the kids who made them. I mean if I was a kid, and was given burnt ornaments to paint, I would be a little disappointed.

As the recipe was so easy and took no at all, I quickly made up a new batch that afternoon and put them in the oven, at about 120 degrees Celsius for a few hours, and thankfully this time they turned out much better. 

Here they are before I put them in the oven.

I'm really looking forward to painting them :).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Oh no, I've forgotten how to sew!

Today I set my sewing machine up for the first time in ages. I threaded it up and then started sewing the pockets for my advent calendar. However, it wasn't working properly. I looked around the sewing machine, puzzled as to what the problem was, but unable to find anything specifically wrong. I tried it again, and again the thread knotted up. Eventually, I worked out that I had not threaded the machine properly. This had never happened before. What had I forgotten?

Basically, I had forgotten how to sew. It had been such a long time since I last used the sewing machine that I couldn't even remember how to set up the sewing machine properly. How dismal is that! But don't worry, with a peek at the instruction manual and some practice on a scrap piece of material, it all came back to me. And this was the finished product (well almost). At the moment it is being stuck to the wall with blue tack as I didn't have any wadding to finish the back, which means that all the pockets (if you look closely) are being held on with pins. I hope to finish it properly for next year :).

This advent calendar has taken me a while to do actually. I started it last year after being inspired by this advent calendar. I know mine is very similar, but it differs in that I wanted it to be more Christian orientated. I am really happy with how it has turned out and hope that next year I will be able to hang it on the wall rather than stick it up with blue tack :).

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Seeker Lover Keeper

For the first time in almost seven months Daniel and I left Nicholas with my Mum and went out for the night. I was both excited and apprehensive about the evening. I was excited for obvious reasons...I was going out without Nicholas. I wasn't nervous about leaving Nicholas with my Mum. I fully trust my Mum and her ability to take care of Nicholas. I was more worried that Nicholas wouldn't sleep, and would cry a lot. This is actually the one reason why Daniel and I haven't been out together alone before tonight. It just seems too stressful to leave him with someone else. Plus, I'm not really keen to inflict that pain onto anyone else. Thankfully, Mum is patient and was happy to work around Nicholas, and made it work :).

It felt strange being out without Nicholas actaully. I am so used to having a little person come everywhere with me now. As such, I found it a little difficult to relax at first, but after realising I didn't have to deal with crying, dirty nappies or feeding for a few hours I began to enjoy myself, and that was certainly easy to do, as we went to see Seeker Lover Keeper on their Heavenly Sounds tour at St. David's Cathedral.

It was such a great gig and I am so glad we made it, even though we got there just before it started and could hardly see anything. This didn't matter so much though because the sound was good (especially being in a Cathedral) and we could hear everything beautifully.

Seeker Lover Keeper is made up of three solo musicians: Sarah Blasko, Holly Throsby, and Sally Seltmann. These women are all great musicians, and if you asked me whose music I enjoyed the best I wouldn't be able to tell you, as I think they are all fantastic. If you have the time you should listen to some of their songs, I highly recommend all their music.

I am so glad that Daniel and I are starting to have a little more freedom. I might even ask Mum to babysit again in a few weeks time, as we have an engagement party and another gig to go to :).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Where there is an event, there is a card!

Here are a few photos of some of the cards I have made recently. They are not very sophisticated but I do really like them.

This was made for our friend Stephanie, who returned home to the US after studying here for a year. The hand belongs to Nicholas. 

This was made for a couple at our church who just got engaged. 

This card is a little preemptive (or just super organised), as it is for my first-cousin-once-removed who hasn't been born yet. And yes I used Nicholas' foot.

This was for another friend who had a little girl.

This cake and card were made for friends who became engaged this week. I used the same style for the card as above, but I wrote 'Andrea and Phil Forever' instead.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Caramelised Strawberry Shortcake...YUM

I found deciding what to do with my 2 kg of strawberries really difficult. There were just so many possibilities. After asking the question of what to do with the strawberries on FB and having a look at recipes online, I decided to make Caramelised Strawberry Shortcakes. I felt that they were a little out of my depth, seeing though I always seem to fail when it comes to cooking things in cupcake cases, but the picture made it look so delicious that I just couldn't resist. Plus, if a recipe states that kids can make them easily enough ("get the kids excited in the kitchen - with a little help on the stove and oven - they can assemble almost the entire recipe themselves"), then why couldn't I?

As I was making the shortcakes for bible study I needed a few more than 6, so I changed the recipe slightly.

  • Arnott's Granita biscuits (as many as you need).
  • 700g strawberries, washed, hulled, halved
  • 1 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 500g cream cheese
  • 2 1/2 tbs plain flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs

Method (copied from above website):

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line 6 large muffin pans with paper cases. Place biscuits, flat-side up, in the cases. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the strawberries and 155g (3/4 cup) sugar and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Drain, reserving syrup. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese and remaining sugar in a bowl until smooth. Beat in the flour and vanilla essence. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until combined.
  3. Spoon half the strawberries over the biscuits. Top with the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until just set. Set aside to cool completely. Place in the fridge to chill. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve with the remaining strawberries and reserved syrup.

However, I think even if I had followed the recipe there would have been more than enough to go around. From the above version, I was able to make about 18, 12 of which I sent along to bible study with Daniel.

Even though the shortcakes didn't look exactly like the picture on the recipe sheet, I think mine turned out pretty great. The one thing I learnt though during the process making these was that I need be patient. If a recipe says to let it cool first and then set aside in the fridge BEFORE serving, than do just that, because allowing it to cool down means it is less likely to crumble when it comes out of the cupcake tin.

The finished product!

Here is a photo of Nicholas admiring its deliciousness :) No, he did not get to taste it.

Oh, and I put the rest of the strawberries in the freezer in little 100g and 200g lots for future use.

Here are some of the great suggestions I received on FB:
  • "I'd freeze them... If you have those Tupperware ice block trays, I would purée them (may need a splash of lemon - not sure) & fill up the trays, whack the lid on & you always have a healthy smoothies option for winter - if it lasts that long :)" (This is a great idea, especially because my strawberries don't seem to keep well for very long.)
  • "Strawberry Flan" (I really want to make this before summer is over.)
  • "I made strawberry/watermelon sauce that was awesome and really easy. Just make strawberry jam with 1/3-1/2 watermelon instead of all strawberries, and add extra liquid so it's a sauce consistency. Puree it when it's cooled, then you can push it through a sieve if you want it really smooth. It's stored in bottles in the the fridge for over a year without going off, and the watermelon makes it taste like fresh strawberries. SO good on icecream." (This sounds so good. I think I am going to have to make this as well.)
  • "I would probably just freeze 1kg in ziplock portioned bags for smoothies and other purposes. I often buy frozen fruit ( b/c I don't have plants!) just to make a crumble or have with cream. They are also nice for little people with sore gums and teeth :)" (I'm sure that when Nicholas has teeth he will love strawberries.)
  • "strawberry and rose petal is yummo!" (I just have to find someone with roses. I would love to try it.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Strawberries Galore!

This post is written in reverse order. 

While Nicholas was sleeping, I headed out into the garden to pick some strawberries. Thinking it would only take a few minutes, I was surprised when I came back inside half-an-hour later with about 2kg of strawberries. Plus there are still more which will be ready in the next day or so. Here is a picture of the haul. Now I just have to decide what to do with them.

Sadly, among all the ripe strawberries were a lot of strawberries that had been eaten by slugs and snails. Here is the sad little pile of discarded strawberries. I'm sure the chickens will enjoy them though.

Because of this, make sure you ALWAYS wash your strawberries, because the amount of bugs (snails, slugs etc) crawling around on them before you eat them is enough to make you want to give them all to the chickens!

Friday 16th:
While Emily (my sister) and her kids were over last week, Ryan (nephew) and I did some strawberry picking. He was super eager, wanting to pick every strawberry, ripe or not. I was trying to tell him that we have to wait till they are red, but he didn't quite understand :). It was so lovely being out in the garden with him. I'm looking forward to when Nicholas and I can go out in the garden like this.

I love how green these photos are. Plus notice how good the lawn looks. Well done Daniel :).

Saturday 12th:
These are the first strawberries of the season.