Thursday, 26 February 2009

Highly recommended

Home made ice-cream sandwiches. I can't believe I hadn't thought of this before!

To all my southern hemisphere friends - get a batch of these babies in the oven before it gets too hot again.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen (where else do I lurk these days?). I halved the ingredients and still had enough for 12 large (9 cm across) pairs of star biscuits. I rolled mine to about 4mm (plenty chunky enough).

Next time I might reduce the sugar a little. Or just find some REAL vanilla bean ice-cream (not the weird, whiter than white stuff I got from the moopersarket). You know - creamy and flavoursome rather than icky sweet. Though I can't say I got any complaints.

With many thanks to Whirly-girl for taste testing for me.

And as she suggested - feel free to leave the biscuits out overnight so they are a little softer. That way when you slather on the good stuff - they'll be nice and squidgy like the Monaco bars used to be.

In the meantime, I promise there will be some crafting around here soon. Unless Smitten Kitchen decides to cut me a deal.

Blame the new mixer - every time I make toast in the morning, there it is cooing in my ear "Make something yummy... your husband will love you ... and your waistline won't mind".

And because it pretty much does everything for me (compared with 5 minutes worth of cutting feeling like I've just ascended K2) it usually wins - not to mention the tasty treats at the end.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I can't decide which, now that I am going to Hydrotherapy twice a week, the sobering reality of having to shoe horn myself into last years bathers - is starting to win the war against temptation. Almost.

So maybe I'll get some sewing done instead. Take the dog for a walk. Write the great Australian novel. Talk to friends. Or just start watching Buffy from the beginning again.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Friday, 20 February 2009


Do you ever want to run to the rooftop and shout...


Fortunately I live in low-density housing, otherwise it might elicit some agreement.

Although the events provoking this outburst are cringe worthy, they are gentle reader (and fortunately for me), quite irrelevant. They were also, in a manner of speaking, completely avoidable. And sadly, are most definitely repeatable.

I am a danger to myself and others.

And as an addendum to this tale, I recently said, OUT A LOUD, "testicles" instead of "textiles" to an industry supplier. He was not amused. Especially, as it was his company's name. Named after him. Mortified does not even come close.

Kill me now.

Thursday, 19 February 2009


Lil tagged me with this meme. Which, as she mentioned, is a welcome distraction in our burnt out neck of the woods.

Normality will creep in the back-door while we try to keep ourselves busy through tragedy.

Admittedly I was at little hesitant about posting this photo.

I tried reorganising the folders in different ways in an attempt to cheat on this theme (the 6th photo from your 6th folder) and uncover something a little more inspiring. To lift our spirits somewhat.

But as though the universe was on to me, every which way I tried to avoid this particular photo, I found myself looking at pictures I had already posted before. Yawn.

Such a drab little picture. No artistic merit (therefore completely inappropriate even as blogging egotism).

It doesn't come with an earth shattering story, nor capture some brilliant experience or moment in time.

It is merely one of those mundane moments of miss shot photographs that litter our hard drives.

We are not so good with the delete button. So we have a lot of pictures of out-of-focus cats, blurry dogs and carpet/door frame combinations. So very unremarkable it can't even be championed as wonk.

I'm sure Sprocket was doing something tres magnifique. Knowing Jms' penchant for certain photographic themes, the dog probably had something unfortunate attached to his face. Usually his own drool.

(A quick perusal of the other photos in the folder confirms this fact). Consider yourself spared.

But it did make me laugh.

At my little doglet that is such a prancing pony and oblivious to his own ridiculousness. At my husband who insists on capturing these puerile moments. A man of such extraordinary intelligence, who still thinks farts are hilarious. HILARIOUS. I love them both for their strengths, but it is their weaknesses, that enmeshes them in totality into my heart.

So forgive me this indulgence, and consider this photo a tip o' the hat to those mundane moments that by aggregate, make up our hours, days and weeks. Largely unremarkable but the essential foundation for the pinnacle events in our lives. And a stark reminder of how horrid our carpet is.

I guess I'm not really a meme girl. I lack the commitment and I don't really have an inner circle of online buddies. Without wanting to reference the old "blogging v high school" chestnut, I'll happily admit I tend to sift around the edges of established groups.

So without wanting to seem like I've just passed you a cursed chain letter, I tag the following blogging acquaintances and friendly strangers:

Kootoyoo, Renegade Umberella and Poppalina. Thanks for stopping by.

(edit: just fixed up the many spelling mistakes. Neither the computer's nor my brain's spell checking seems to be working)

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Monday, 16 February 2009

Cranberry Shortbread Hearts Recipe

Duh - why I failed to include this in the last post I'll never know...

Cranberry Shortbread Hearts

125 grams unsalted butter
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg (beaten)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 3/4 cups plain flour (sifted)
150 grams dried cranberries (sweetened is OK)

Pre-heat oven to 180 C.

Cream sugar and butter. Add egg, then vanilla and salt, mixing thoroughly.

Blend in flour slowly. Try not to over mix. When smooth consistency, stir in cranberries.

Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap (or divide in to 2 or 3 lots for ease of handling) and chill for at least an hour.

Roll out on to a floured surface (or between two baking sheets) till about 4mm thick. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter (press really firmly and use a METAL cutter to ensure you slice through the fruit - or otherwise deal with the misshapen mess that ensues).

Place biscuits on lined baking trays, and cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until they just colour at edges).


I have no idea where I got this recipe - it seems like a pretty standard shortbread ratio. My creativity solely extended to adding the cranberries. Woot.

Given that we are now post - V.D. you could lose the heart shape action.

The half dough I had remaining in the fridge, I could not deal with rolling/cutting etc (bad arm day). So I just sliced the homogenised mass thinly crossways (a la biscotti or almond bread) and cooked till there was the merest colour at the corners. Alternatively you could just form the dough into a log shape before chilling, and then cut into nice rounds when cold. This will however mess with the whole Phillipa's aesthetic as the cranberries will be sliced not rolled. Yes, perfectionism is a curse.

These might also be nice dusted with caster sugar before baking, or pure icing sugar when cold. These aren't as light as I'd hoped. So I reserve the right to tweak or abandon the recipe as is my whim.

As noted before - the cranberries I used became a little hard after baking, so really could have been soaked beforehand. In water? apple juice? Verjuice? (yes Maggie Beer got to me too). But DO make sure you do strain well - any extra water could mess with the dough, cause shrinkage or any number of other possible worldly disasters.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Eat your heart out

Cranberry shortbread.

Almost as good as Phillipa's (which will do wonders for my bank account).

Just a little more tweaking required.

I think I need to soak the cranberries first in a little bit of something.

Make them all plump and chewy. And easier to cut.

My best laid plans foiled by a plastic cookie cutter.

Still, I have 1/2 of the dough still chilling in the fridge. And nothing else to do today.

Monday, 9 February 2009


I feel like I've been slapped in the face.

The fires that have, and continue to devastate Victoria have seemingly ripped through the very fabric of the state. 107 dead and counting.

I don't know what to say. I don't know what to think.

Everything I've ever written before seems shamelessly superficial.

When I posted briefly about our high temperatures, in the back of my mind was an uneasy feeling that if things were going to go pear shaped, it would do so quickly. Everything is was just so tinder dry. Even here in the city.

We hunkered down at home on Saturday's record breaking temperature day. Keeping the doors and windows shut tight against the horrid northerly wind, watching West Wing and bemoaning the fact that the cool change was taking its own sweet time. Completely unaware that at 3pm, serious fires had already started across the state.

As is our habit in hot weather, we were regularly updating the Earth Sciences temperature page, cheering when the temperature finally dropped. 15 degrees in an hour - Woot! The cool southerly winds are here! Forgetting completely, that this is devastating news for those battling a fire front.

A pile of clean laundry has sat untouched since late Saturday afternoon in the bedroom. As I upended it earlier today, to fold and put away, the unmistakable, sweet smell of wood smoke and eucalyptus filled my head. I felt sick.

The smell of wood smoke frightens me to the core.

When we first moved back to the country, it filled me with thoughts of romance and the cosiness of home. The endless enthral of an open fire - memorising and captivating.

But after several summers on high bushfire alert (and with no water to defend ourselves) the stress of living in the bush got to me. The merest whiff of smoke had me searching the sky for a tell tale plume. My mind racing to thoughts of fire plans, water, the whereabouts of partners, family and animals.

But it's been a few years now, and my mind has decommissioned itself from being so attuned to those kinds of threats.

It feels like folly, but what could I have done?

I am now trying desperately to not think about what the victims went through, nor the horror that the survivors must face.

All I can do is humbly offer up my prayers of condolence, and grieve for the lost.

(With thanks to Shula and Sooz for sharing)

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Thrifted Thursday

A bit sun faded, but definitely one of my best finds this week. Those trims shall be reborn as many a new project.

With this, and a few other key pieces in the last week, it seems like my op-shopping mojo has finally returned.

I had decided to give up op-shopping after some REALLY bad decisions and the general malaise that followed many fruitless hours spent sifting through broken crap and tired Made in China clothes.

I was beginning to think the golden age of op-shopping was over for me.

I know it can be a hard graft at times, but pickings had definitely been getting slimmer and slimmer, or non existent (unless you want to pay $10 bucks for a Kmart t-shirt that only cost $20 to begin with).

Worse still, if there was something nice -it was way out of my budget. Perhaps I am just more discerning now (though if you saw my excuse for an outfit today you'd probably disagree).

I know charities aim to pass on all the cash they can - and I don't begrudge 2nd hand dealers trying to make a crust, but for some of us - we actually need op-shops to get by.

This might seem like hypocrisy from the chick who just got given a kitchen aid - but that was an "outlier" purchase.

The truth is, buying certain things 2nd hand and upcycling others makes the cash stretch just a little bit further. But you have to be disciplined.

The rules I try to practise are: Look early and look often - and don't buy it, if it don't fit. I'm still working on that last one (but it'll be perfect if I just .... lose 15 kgs ... didn't have cats ... competely redesign/cut/sew/paint/upholster the entire thing). It NEVER happens (and I have a cupboard of crap to prove it).

I also have to remind myself - don't buy it unless you love it. Just because it's a screaming bargain and you've seen them selling on ebay for heaps more - PUT IT BACK. Leave some bargains behind and enjoy the op-shopping karma.

My final law of op-shopping is that you must give in order to receive.

I try to make sure the stuff I give back is useful and good quality. Not just the crap I don't want anymore. Again, I could ebay it - but why not just let it go? Feed the system that feeds me.

Granted I might not do this if I had a stash of Eames chairs I didn't want kicking around. But that set of Wedgewood cups I no longer use - and that leather jacket that never fit quite right ... they can join the cycle.

I also believe it helps if you tell the universe what you desire. I try not to be too specific ("black pencil skirt" will do the trick rather than "black knee length pencil skirt with button detailing with ..." and then leave myself open to what the universe deigns appropriate (but keep your eyes peeled - it may not show up in an op-shop but be hiding instead on a sale rack or unused in a friends cupboard).

The real key to op-shop success is to practice the art of patience.

A bit of rummaging doesn't hurt either.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Homemade baba ghanoush (Recipe from Arabesque)