Thursday, December 29, 2011

pink ruffles

My baby turned 4 yesterday! Yes, I know, F O U R! :)

Every year I say I will organise a party for her early in December, away from Christmas and before it gets overlooked.... and every year life goes crazy and all of a sudden it is the 28th December and we haven't had a party... and, as you know, everyone is always away!

Well, I'm afraid to say that this year was no exception, but, we did manage to have a lovely day, pikelets for breakfast, friends to play, bike riding, dinner out, and a very pink ruffly chocolate cake to mark the occasion. And you never know, I may just get my act together and throw a party later in January... maybe!!

I saw this cake recently on the Maisy & Grace blog and knew it would be perfect. It is also super easy (honestly) which in my books is a sure winner.


I also used the Chocolate Cake recipe from Annabel Langbein's 'The Free Range Cook'

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 
Serves: 12-16 (1 big cake or 2 smaller cakes)
3 cups self-raising flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda, sifted
200g butter, softened
1 cup milk or unsweetened yoghurt
3 large eggs
1 cup boiling hot coffee
Heat oven to 160°C. Grease the sides and line the base of a 30cm round cake tin or 2 x 20cm round cake tins with baking paper.

Place all ingredients in a bowl or food processor and mix or blitz until the ingredients are combined and the butter is fully incorporated. Pour mixture into prepared tin or tins and smooth top.

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin.
* If not using at once, the cake will keep for about a week in a sealed container in the fridge. You can also freeze it uniced.

Buttercream Icing (from Maisy & Grace)

400g softened butter
1kg icing sugar
Vanilla extract
A few tablespoons hot water
Few drops of food colouring/gel/powder

Cream the butter using electric egg beater or cake mixer, slowly add icing sugar and keep on creaming, adding hot water only a tablespoon at a time just to help with the blending, and not too much as to make the mixture runny.  Just keep beating and beating until it's a smooth creamy mixture.
Test it by putting some through a piping bag, make a shape and wait a while to see if it holds its form.

To Ice

Join the two cakes together by 'gluing' them with some icing. Then cover the whole cake with the buttercream icing using a spatula/knife. This is the crumb layer, just to cover the cake and provide a good surface to pipe the ruffles onto, and needn't be flash.

Then, follow the tutorial on the clip below for the ruffles... honestly, they are that easy!

Good luck x

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday projects

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was filled with family, friends, good food, laughter, swimming, kayaking and maybe the occasional wine.

Not being one to sit still for long, I am already into my list of holiday projects!

I bought some old wooden chairs recently (actually, months ago!) that I intended to sand back and re-upholster. They've sat in the garage gathering dust and cobwebs, making me feel very guilty. But yesterday I finally pulled them out and made a start. I will show you them once I have finished....

But I did manage to start (and finish!) a quick and easy project recovering a little stool for Bella. I can't remember where it came from, but have been wanting to recover it for ages... I didn't sand the wood back or do anything tricky, so it was literally a 5 minute job. I had a small remnant of a pretty blue rose fabric from Kokka which was perfect, and I even had enough to sew up a small cushion for her bed. Easy!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

christmas baking

Only 3 more sleeps! I love Christmas, and it is even more exciting with kids in the house.

We are almost through the first week of the summer holidays, (how did that happen?!) and have been lucky with some gorgeous weather this week, so have been enjoying our days at the beach.

Last night I finished off the Christmas baking - well, I still have meringues to do! So thought I would share some of the recipes here:

Chocolate Peppermint Creams (Jo Seagar):

1 egg white
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 1/2 - 3 cups sifted icing sugar plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp peppermint essence
375g (1 packet) dark chocolate melts
5-6 mini candy canes for decorating

Lightly whisk the egg white in a bowl. When slightly foaming, add the lemon juice, 2 cups icing sugar and the peppermint essence. The mixture will get too tough to mix with a spoon. At this stage start to knead the mixture and slowly incorporate the rest of the icing sugar until you have a firm mixture that looks like royal icing.

Roll out on a clean icing sugar dusted surface to 1.5cm thick. Using a 3cm round cookie cutter, cut out shapes  and place on to a tray to dry out a little.  * I couldn't find a round cookie cutter, so actually ended up rolling the mixture into a 3cm round 'log' and slicing 1cm rounds off.

Gently melt the dark chocolate and dip the peppermints in. Using a chocolate dipping fork makes this easier. Drip off excess chocolate then turn out on to a sheet of non-stick baking paper to set. If desired, sprinkle the melted surface with crushed candy canes.

Cranberry & Pistachio Biscotti (Donna Hay)

2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs, lighly beaten
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp finely grated orange rind
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios

Preheat oven to 160°C. Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, orange rind, cranberries and pistachios and mix until a smooth dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and roll each portion into a 20cm-long log. Flatten slightly and place on lightly greased baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until firm. Set aside to cool completely.

Use a serrated knife to cut the logs into 3mm-thick slices and place the slices on baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper.

Bake for a further 8-10 minutes or until golden and crisp. Allow to cool on trays. Makes 80.

Raspberry and Lemon Shortbread fingers (Donna Hay)*

120g butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
raspberry jam

Place butter and sugar in an electric mixer and beat for 4 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Add the flour, baking powder and lemon rind and mix until just combined.

Step 1: Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and roll each portion out between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper to make 2x 16cm x 22cm rectangles, using a ruler to ensure the rectangles are the correct size. Place on trays and place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until hard.

Step 2: Spread the jam over 1 rectangle and top with remaining rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for a further 1 hour or until very firm, which will make it easier to cut.

Step 3: Preheat oven to 180°C. Trim the edges of the dough and discard. Using a ruler as a guide, cut 1cm-thick slices and place on lightly greased baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper, leaving room to spread. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on trays. Makes 20.

* Donna Hay's recipe actually uses a sour cherry jam, but I just used what was in the pantry!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

almost there

So today is the last day of November! I am always amazed when December rolls around so quickly, but also quite relieved to think the year is almost over and the holidays almost upon us.

I have another two markets this week, and have been busy preparing stock for them. Yesterday I made a pile of kids aprons, with a little Christmas cookie cutter included in each pack. These would be lovely teamed up with a little notebook for recording favourite recipes, or there are some great kids cookbooks out there.

Today's task is finishing of some new oilcloth make up purses, pencil cases and make your own kits... and the list goes on!

Hope you are having a great week, and that the sun is out, wherever you are.

This week you can find me here:

Gladstone School Christmas Market
Thursday 1st December, 2011
5 - 9pm
8 Seaview Terrace
Mt Albert

Devonport Craft Market
Sunday 4th December, 2011
10am - 3pm
The Devonport Community House
32 Clarence Street

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

and the winner is...

Thanks for all your lovely ideas in response to my french inspired giveaway. I drew the winner over the weekend and posted on my facebook page, but forgot to update here. Sorry!

Michelle West was the winner, and I sent out her package yesterday. I was going to do a wee Christmas giveaway next, but all the Christmas bits sold out too quickly, so will have to think of another little pack for next week.

Another busy week in our household, and 2 markets this weekend (with eftpos!!):

Forrest Hill School Christmas Market
Friday 18th November, 2011
4.30 - 8pm
50 Forrest Hill Road
Forrest Hill

Devonport Craft Market
Sunday 20th November, 2011
10am - 3pm
The Devonport Community House
32 Clarence Street

Hope you are having a good week so far.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Peony Love

Have I ever told you how much I love November.... The one month of the year that we get Peonies!! Which, in case you didn't know, are my favourite ever flowers!

Friday, November 04, 2011

market time

I can't believe we are into that Christmas season already. I have a stack of markets coming up, and have been a busy bee this week trying to get myself prepared for two this weekend.

Michael Park School Fair
Saturday 5th November, 2011
9.30am - 3.30pm
Michael Park School
55 Amy Street

Devonport Craft Market
Sunday 6th November, 2011
10am - 3pm
The Devonport Community House
32 Clarence Street

They are both fabulous markets, but as Michael Park is only once a year, I am really looking forward to it. Michael Park is a Rudolf Steiner school and it has the most beautiful grounds. The fair includes, a delicious range of fresh food stalls, exciting and magical games for the children, many quality stalls and unique hand-made crafts. If you only make it to one school fair a year, make sure it is this one!

ps. I will have eftpos available at both these markets too!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

french inspired

I love France... it is definitely up there in my top 10 places to live. I was lucky enough to spend a year there when I was 21, in a beautiful old chateau in Cognac. It was such a magical time, and I often think about my daily trips to the boulangerie for fresh pain au chocolat and baguettes, and the local markets to buy produce...

So, I was thinking that it is about time I did a wee giveaway... with a little French twist! The winner will receive this little pack, which includes: a 'paris' coin purse, 10m of airmail divine twine, 1m spool of airmail washi tape, and 10 sweet airmail love stickers.

This giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere... all you have to do is 'like' my facebook page (if you don't already) and leave me a comment with your favourite book, children's book or film (I always love new ideas!). I will draw the winner next Friday, 11th November, 2011.

ps: make sure you tell your friends too, as when I reach 400 likes on facebook I will do another giveaway over there!

Monday, October 31, 2011


My sewing table is piled high with a number of different projects at the moment. I have two markets this weekend and as usual have left a little too much to the last minute. Eeek!

Today I had a few hours to myself and managed to achieve A LOT. It always amazes me what you can get done with a couple of child-free hours! I finished off a few custom orders, packaged up some wholesale orders, made some new 'festive' lavender bags and bunting, and even got through a pile of owie bags! Tomorrow's list includes a pile of purses and cushion covers... watch this space...


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Butterscotch Meringues

A friend recently put me onto this perfect meringue recipe. It is super easy, and totally a hit with the little people in my house!

Butterscotch Meringues (Jo Seagar)

6 egg whites (room temperature)
2 cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon butterscotch or caramel essence (I used half vanilla and half caramel)
1 teaspoon malt vinegar
2 teaspoons cornflour

In a large metal, porcelain or glass (ie not plastic) bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form. A hand-held electric beater is ideal for this job. Gradually, a teaspoon at a time, add the caster sugar. I emphasise, add the sugar slowly. The mixture should be getting glossy, thick and shiny with each addition and the whole sugar-adding process should take at least 10 minutes.

Beat in the essence, vinegar and cornflour. Spoon mixture out into little 'blobs' onto a baking paper-covered baking tray. Bake in a low 110-120 C oven (I actually did mine at about 90 - 100C) for approximately 45 minutes until dry and crisp. The meringues should just lift off the paper easily.

This also makes a fab pavlova recipe. Just make it into one large plate-size mound on the baking tray. Cooking time will be a little longer, but bake at the same temperature (110-120C) for about 1 1/2 hours.


Thursday, October 13, 2011


I can't believe the first week of the holidays are almost over. It has been a long year, and the girls and I are loving the lazy mornings and even the rainy days!

My 7 year old has been 'perfecting' her cat drawing skills! My 3 year old seeing how many different colours of playdough we can make in one day... and I have been trimming a huge batch of crayon rolls in preparation for the stack of markets that are coming up!

Hope your holidays are going well.
C x

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


This week has involved a lot of gift making... friends with new babies, a few birthdays, a gift for a little girl in hospital, and a couple of 'thank you's' sprinkled in for good measure.

I managed to make a few of the 'easier' ones yesterday, with some home baked chewy raisin cookies (recipe below), and a super-sized, plastic covered pencil case filled with crafty bits and pieces for a beautifully crafty little girl....


Chewy Raisin Cookies

Cream together:
300 grams butter
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoon golden syrup

Mix together with creamed mixture:
2 cup flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coconut
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup raisins

Roll into balls, flatten and bake in at 180C for around 10-15 minutes, or until golden. This batch will make more than enough to fill your biscuit tin, and share some with a friend.



Friday, September 30, 2011


I am a huge procrastinator! I always have been, and unfortunately feel that I always will be...

I have a hundred and one things to do today, but in between all those things I have been trying to snatch a few minutes here and there to work on a costume for tonight! It isn't like I haven't had weeks to work on it. It is just that I have put it off, and put it off, and then this morning realised I hadn't even started!!

So I am procrastinating just a little more and showing you some photos of my progress... or lack of... The theme is spots and stripes (but I decided to throw in a little All Black fever for good measure).

Hope you all have a great weekend in store. x


Friday, September 23, 2011

story time

We are a little book mad in our house... Both my girls (and me) love reading, but we have been through a bit of a funny stage lately with my 7 year old. I was finding it really hard to source any decent reading material for Isabella. Books that she could read herself, but that were still interesting (she is definitely not a 'fairy' book kind of kid!).

It seems though, that we have come out the other side of that dilemma. She is currently obsessed with Roald Dahl. We have been slowly making our way through his children's books, at the moment we're reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I had forgotten what a magical book it is... As we read I  feel just like a kid again, I can still vividly remember reading it as a child...

We also love Quentin Blake's illustrations. Both Quentin Blake, and Roald Dahl have quite fun, interactive websites if you fancy a look.. I love the 'paint-a-parrot' game on Quentin Blakes site! You can also download some free bookplates from here.

If you have any recommendations for great books for 7+ leave me a comment, I am compiling a wee list!!