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.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Here comes the sun!

What a beautiful weekend. The sun shone brightly. It was warm, and we got a heap of things done.
We  met up with friends, and then spent time in the garden. Daniel spent Saturday afternoon mowing the lawn and mulching all the trees. I spent the time I did have pulling out weeds from the front garden beds and preparing them for the new strawberry patch I am going to plant this year. The strawberry patch I do have is looking really healthy, but being its third season (they are good for four seasons) I want to have a new bed set up by the end of this season, so I don't go a year without strawberries.

Some photos from last year.


Anne, (my mother-in-law), who is a great gardener and has such a wealth of knowledge when it comes to gardening, came over also and planted a heap of veggies in our garden beds. It was very motivating. Hopefully, all this warm weather will entice the little plants to grow big and strong.

About a month ago now I booked Daniel into a Bee Keeping course. It is usually on Tuesday nights, but today he had the opportunity to spend a day at the teacher's property, learning about the more practical side of bee keeping. I think he is really enjoying it. He came home tonight with so much to tell me, which I take as a good sign. He is hoping to establish at least 2 or 3 beehives in the near future, which would be really exciting. It would be great having our own honey :).

Here is a photo of Daniel in his bee suit. So cute!

Daniel took a little video of a mature bee chewing her way out of her brood cell while out today. It is amazing, but sadly I am having a few difficulties uploading it. Give me time and I'll figure it out :). I have now figured it out. Here it is. Enjoy :)

Hope you all had a great weekend too :)