Saturday, May 29, 2010

Raspberry Delights and Over the Top cake

I finished the cardigan I was making for our friends' new baby girl Paula Johanna. She was born about a month ago and we are just itching to go see her. I was so happy to hear that it was a girl because then I had an excuse to use some super pink raspberry yarn. I just love hot pinks but haven't had any real reason to use some.

Lucky for me the exact stuff I was looking for was in the discount corner at the local yarn shop, still meant $5 dollars for 50gms but hay for raspberry coloured 100% merino wool who's complaining! I mixed up two patterns to come up with this one. Unfortunately I printed out the patterns long ago and have forgotten the sites I got them from so I cannot share them.

Here's a photo of the little gem!

It's been finished off with the cutes of pink mother of pear buttons. I am also planing to make a beanie to go with the cardigan. I hope it will keep her warm this winter. It will be too small for the following winter.

Just before I go thought I'd throw in a photo of a yummy cake I tried today. I got the recipe from Recipes + May 2010. It's called pear and chocolate cake with hazelnut syrup. I didn't have any hazelnut liquor so I swapped that for chocolate essence as suggested at the start of the recipe.


Last weekend Axel and I attended my friend Nanette's 60th birthday party. What can I say about Nanette? Well, she is a funny, say-it-like-it-is, warm and generous woman, who recently became a granny for the first time. Nanette started off as my boss, well second-in-charge boss, then mentor and finally became my friend. To give you more of an idea of what Nanette is like let me just tell you that instead of a speech after singing happy birthday, we were all asked to do the chicken dance in her honor.

The party was wonderful, and held at her daughter's beautiful home in Ascot Vale. We were spoiled with yummy Asian food and oodles of rich cakes and sweets. It was really nice to finally meet all of Nanette's family and meet her granddaughter who I'd made the little booties for. (see post at For the Love of Crochet Along) A few people from work were there too and it was great to spend some time with them away from work.

The present I gave Nanette was of course hand made. I later found out that she is usually the one who cross stitches presents for others, traditionally for their 40th birthdays, so she was surprised to get one herself!

This is the first installment of the present I made her. I knew I couldn't just make her something ordinary or without a twist. I initially wanted to cross stitch 'I'm getting too old for this shit' but my more proper and less daring husband suggested she might not be able to display something with a 'swear word' and thus I came up with 'don't tell me to grow up'. But after talking to some friends who also know Nanette I convinced that she would love and display the other, thus why this one has become a 'part one'. Basically I only had enough time to make one so Nanette now knows she's got another present to look forward to.

A site that inspired the cross stitch messages can be found on Flicker. The group's name - subversive cross stitch. I recommend anyone with a wicked sense of humor go and check it out!.

Anyhow I better stop with all this and get back to some serious report writing, yep it's that time of year again!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Food Glorious Food!

I've been dying to try some new things in the kitchen only to find that I haven't really got much time to actually experiment and cook something more interesting than a simple stir-fry or chop in the oven. Watching Master Chef is not helping either because now I feel like everything has to look like it came out of a fancy restaurant just so I can call myself a great cook. It also makes me want to try my hand at some of the recipes just so I can 'test' how good a cook I am. But the problem with that is most of the recipes have ingredients that Axel will not eat. I didn't realise how many things he just wont eat. He must of been just too polite before to complain leading me to think he was a good eatter. Arrrhhhh!

So anyhow over the last few weeks I've just had to let some other areas of house keeping go, like clothes washing, vacuuming and make some time to cook. I've looked through some old cook books and adapted some classics to my liking. Classic gnocchi with roasted pumpkin and butter sage sauce, ( think this one was on Master chef also) well I took it one step further! Mine was roasted beetroot, pumpkin and garlic with mixed herbs in a butter sauce and balsamic vinigar, sprinkled with fresh riccota. TAKE THAT MASTER CHEF! I served it with a nice bit of pork chop and damn it was good and so colourful too. The following night I took the left over pumpkin and beetroot cooked a new batch, with the gnochi again but also adding some brussle sprouts I had boiled the day before and served it with sliced sausages. Soooo good!

Here are some photos of the second batch with sausage and brussle sprouts...

Sizzling away on the stove!

Served with the ricotta

Still want to try the beef wellington that was on Master Chef! Will let you know if I ever get to try it!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Wedding

Here is the final chapter in the 'wedding cup cake' saga. It's a little late but here is what we ended up making for the wedding.

As you can see below we set to work early Saturday morning (day before the wedding) baking 110 cupcakes from the trusted and well tested White Wings Golden Butter Cake mix. Yes I took the easy way out and went packet cake. The reason for doing so was that we found the packet cakes stayed moist longer and since they were going to be eaten over a day after making we thought this was the best option.

Axel helped turn the cupcakes as I piped. The new piper that I bought for the job didn't work so well, icing kept on coming out even after I stopped pressing. I had to use an old one I had that was very hard to use and needed a lot of force to push the icing through. Hence the aching hand and sore shoulder the next day! It all went pretty well and took 8 hours to complete. We did however break 2 electric hand mixers, one blowing up in our faces (lucky I didn't loose my eyebrows). Fortunately the last one broke just as we finished making the last batch of icing.

Here is a shot of the cupcakes on the cake table. Unfortunately even if you send a photo of how the cake should look and detailed instructions to the reception, people still can't set up the cakes exactly how you intened... in our case a missing cupcake on the very top part of the stand. If there was no cupcake intended for the top, why would we have it there? Obviously not all people think the same.

We went with the silver patty pans and plain blue icing pipped in little stars all around. No silver balls. We were pleased with the end results and all up it cost under 200 dollars which included the cake stand and the practice runs. Much cheaper than paying $4.00 to $5.00 per cupcake, which would have meant minimum $440 plus the stand. Considering at least 30 cakes were not eatten that would have been $120 wasted.

So here ends our cupcake story!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

He Fell Asleep on Me

There hasn't been much time for anything other than work and house work. The place is pretty much the same as when we first moved in just before the wedding and it's bugging me to the max because so much of my craft and art materials are in boxes with no chance of coming out to play. The sun has moved position in the sky and no longer reachers my little veggie patch. Nothing is growing, the plants are not really dying either but the fruit and veggies are no bigger than 2 months ago. They seem to be in suspended animation.

Out of artistic desperation I took some printer paper today and an old HB pencil that was lying around and sketched Axel laying in bed. It's nice to know I can still hold a pencil and make a semi-recognisable sketch. It's been way too long. Only problem was Axel fell asleep halfway through the sketch, hence the one eye.