Sunday, 29 December 2013

Colours of an Aussie Summer - Part 2

After the two wee ones have gone to bed of an evening, the older two children and I have been going for a walk.  At this time of year early evening is such a beautiful time of the day; the sun is not too hot and it casts a beautiful golden glow over everything.   I took my camera along last night so I could share some pictures.....

The little boxes in the second last shot have been made for the native Sugar gliders and Feather tail glider possums.  There are always quite a few cockatoos too, including this cheeky fellow who just wanted to get his photo taken!

Whats happening in your part of the world?  Are you melting in the heat or getting snowed in?

Tina x

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas baking - Rum Balls

For a number of years now I've been making these yummy little balls for Christmas.  They are easy and quick, with just the right amount of sweetness.  Technically they aren't Rum balls though because I use Sherry instead of Rum, but Sherry Balls just doesn't sound right!   I think they would work with whatever alcohol you've got floating around.  The recipe comes from my good friend Bridget who I shared a house with almost 20 years ago.  She never measured out any of the ingredients, just added them by sight (incidentally she does this with her crocheting as well - she can't really read a pattern, but can look at something and whip it up.  Super clever eh?), but I managed to tie her down to writing this out for me.   OK, here's the recipe;

1 packet of Marie biscuits (any plain sweet biscuits would work if you can't get Marie)
2 tablespoons of Cocoa
1 can of condensed milk
1 cup of dessicated coconut
1/2 a cup of sherry 
1/3 cup of sultanas (optional)

1. Crush the biscuits and combine them with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

2.  Roll tablespoon sized balls in your hand and then roll in extra coconut.  It's as simple as that!!  Refrigerate and enjoy. 

Have a safe and Merry Christmas everyone!

Tina xxx

Monday, 23 December 2013

On my hook this week...

Over the last week or so I've been finishing off a few projects - mainly little Christmas gifts and decorations.  I've found the gentle rhythm of crocheting to be soothing amongst all the craziness that this time of year can bring.

I made these little balls for my 4 month old baby for Christmas, using the pattern from Nicki Trench's book, Cute and Easy Crochet (love, love, love, this book).  I must admit that I was a bit hesitant at first - I'm not sure why now because they were rather easy and fun.  I put a bell in each of them along with the stuffing, so they'll rattle when she shakes them.

A few years ago our family decided not to buy Christmas presents for the adults, but instead give the money we would have spent on a gift to a charity of our choice.  I always get a little something for my parents though, so the children can give something instead of just receiving.  This year I thought I would crochet this little basket to put mum's gift in rather than using wrapping - that way she can re-use the basket.  There are plenty of tutorials on the web for crochet baskets - for this basket I did four rounds of half double crochet (US terms) for the base and then 5 rows of half doubles and then two rows of double crochets, finishing with a row of half doubles. 

I found the pattern for this lovely little Christmas tree at One dog Woof.  There are three different sizes which are made to go over wine and champagne corks - how clever is that!!  You could really jazz them up by adding little coloured seed beads for lights,  embroider little stars on them or use sticks for the trunk.   I plan on making a few more when I get a chance - wouldn't a cluster of them look fabulous??  Maybe with a little deer standing amongst them...... 

What have you been up to?? Have you been able to get some hooking time in amongst all the Christmas preparation??

Tina x

Friday, 20 December 2013

Five more sleeps...

This time of year is just crazy isn't it ??  The weather here has been ridiculously hot -  41 degrees Celsius today, there are crowds of people everywhere you go, baking to get done, wrapping of gifts; there is a long list of things to do before Christmas Day.   I'm really trying to slow down and enjoy it though.

The older two children finished school last Friday so in an effort to stay away from the crowds and out of the heat, we've been busy around our little house......

........Decorating our Christmas fruit cake with bright red stars.........

.......Making winter wonderlands in glass jars.......

......Baking lovely little Christmas pies.....

and painting rocks for our succulent garden......

Have a great weekend,

Tina xx

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Banana choc chip muffins

These are really simple and delicious to make. I'm not sure where the recipe came from, passed on from another mum maybe, but it's just a basic muffin recipe and lunchbox friendly. I've also added a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds for extra goodness.  I'm going to try another combination with some frozen raspberries and white chocolate so I'll let you know how that goes.  Until then, enjoy these tasty little treats!!

2 cups self raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons of Chia seeds (optional)
2 medium overripe bananas (about a cup), mashed
100g butter (unsalted),  melted and cooled
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup choc chips 

1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

2. Place flour into a large mixing bowl and stir through the coconut, sugar and seeds.

3. Combine the mashed banana, melted butter and milk.  Add this to the dry ingredients and stir to combine - but don't over mix!  Gently fold the chocolate chips through.  I used milk chocolate chips, but dark choc bits would also be nice.

4. Divide the mixture evenly into the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

5. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool. 

They are really nice to eat just out of the oven when they're still warm and oozing chocolatey goodness.  Enjoy!

tina xx


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Colours of an Aussie summer - Part 1

It's no secret...I'm not a big fan of summer.  I'm more of an autumn girl - Cool evenings, sunny days, lovely rust reds and browns, casseroles, warm drinks...mmmm.  Don't get me wrong,  I do love warm days, just not the skin blistering, unforgiving heat of an Aussie bush summer.  At the moment Pinterest, along with the blogs I'm currently reading, are full of pictures of snowy days, cosy chunky knits and slow cooked comfort food.   Here though, in our little part of the world, the weather is really heating up.  The landscape is beginning to look scorched and dry with muted colours of Eucalypt green, dry browns, pale yellows, and occasional splashes of vibrant coloured flowers - the colours of an Aussie summer.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Currently Reading.......

I hope to make 'Currently Reading...' a regular post.  Reading is one of my all time favourite things to do and I'd love to share some of my favourite books and new 'finds' with you.

These are the books currently sitting at the end of my dining table.  Lots of crafty inspiration and recipe ideas.

What are you reading this month??

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Crochet Heart Garland

Finally....I have finished a crochet project.  Yay!!!  

This is my little crochet heart garland that I've made for my daughter's teacher as an end of year thank you gift.    I am really happy with how it's turned out.   

I've done it using a 3mm hook (US D) in a bright red cotton/acrylic blend yarn.  There are twenty seven hearts all together to represent the 27 children in her class but you could use more or less depending on where you want it to go.  I think this one would look very sweet draped around her desk or hanging in her class room.

The actual pattern for the hearts comes from here at Little Birdie Secrets blogspot.  They are very easy to whip up and took no time at all to make.  To make them into a garland I simply did 40 chains (as an end for tying etc) then single crocheted to the top of the heart, then did about 5 chain stitches and then another single crochet to the other side of the heart.  I then did 10 chains before attaching another heart.  Once they were all attached, I chained another 40 stitches to form another end for tying and then fastened off.

Voila.... a very pretty and unique teacher's thank you gift.

It looks very effective around my table Christmas tree too!!

What's on your hook this week??

tina xx

Friday, 6 December 2013

Christmas Reindeer

Whenever we have travelled overseas I have brought home a Christmas decoration for our tree.  We have a wood candy cane from the ancient redwood forest near San Francisco, a blue and white Snowman from Belgium, and our Christmas star is made by a silversmith in San Diego, USA.  I love that our tree tells a story.   Once upon a time the decorations on the tree were all the same, usually balls of the same colour.  It was pretty, but now our tree is full of little stories from our life; our travel souvenirs and decorations made by the children each year.   They are all different sizes, shapes and colours.  It is very us and I love it. 

I have been looking for a Christmas reindeer for some time to add to our story.  Not just any reindeer though.  Nothing too sparkly or shiny, too precious or delicate.  I haven't been able to find the 'right' one.   Today as I was Christmas shopping I saw the perfect little reindeer in a window.    She is beautiful.   I love her sweet, gentle face.   She sits on our cupboard like she has always been a part of our family.  

As I was paying for her I saw this gorgeous little owl too.  It's made of glass and the surface looks aged.  Well, I just couldn't leave him there.  Isn't he lovely??

Although these new additions haven't come from far away lands, they form part of our story; when I get them out each year I will remember that they joined us the year my fourth babe was born ..... a most wonderful year indeed.