Thursday, December 24, 2009


It took a lot of patience & a couple of hours, but we finished it!! I can't tell you how many times I asked Miss 2 to go & wash her hands as she kept putting fingers in her mouth, but other than that it was a lovely experience. No begging to eat the lollies, no whining. It probably helped that they knew they could eat their little ones from yesterday as soon as we were done.

The recipe was brilliant, though it's gluten free it handled just like I remember real dough handling. It makes a very large amount, but that means you have plenty in case of mistakes or to make other gingerbread biscuits. It tastes delicious, too, not at all like many gluten free biscuits. It did soften overnight but perhaps I didn't cook the gingerbread long enough for solid walls & roof [This is the first time I've ever made a gingerbread house]. The ice-cream cone trees are doing a great job holding up the eaves that are starting to sag anyway.
The icing is royal icing, which sets really hard. You have to work fast before it sets, & keep any extra covered so it doesn't dry out & harden in the mixing bowl:
3 tablespoons dried egg white [you could also use dry pavlova egg mix]
4 cups icing sugar
approximately 1/3 cup warm water [add extra if required]

Beat all ingredients together with electric mixer until smooth & shiny. It should be the consistency of whipped cream. Thin with water if required.

I really recommend this activity to do with your children. Coming up with ways of using the lollies you give them is a great exercise in imagination. I piped the icing & let them decorate as they wanted. You can't see in the photo but this house has ducks in a pond out front & sharks in a pool out back!!

This afternoon they want to make some gingerbread people to place around the house, and perhaps some pets. But the plans keep getting even more elaborate: Miss 6 has plans for a stable complete with nativity characters & a church with steeple next year, while Miss 4 wants to create an entire gingerbread village!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gluten free gingerbread houses

I'm not one to back away from a challenge, and when I realised that my 6 year old would never get to enjoy a gingerbread house because she's coeliac, I decided to rectify this. Forget the fact I've never made or eaten a gingerbread house in my life. I decided last week that one of our Christmas activities would be this.

So today that's what we did. I've been researching gingerbread houses on the net for the past couple of weeks, found a recipe I liked, changed it because I can't help myself, and dived in. We made mini ones first, which we decorated this afternoon. The large one in the background will be decorated tomorrow morning, now the girls & I have had experience decorating gingerbread houses!!

What fun we had! Even Mr E had a go. I haven't photographed his or mine, as they are the worst looking houses of the lot... we both piled as many lollies as we could on them & they look ridiculous. Makes you wonder who the real children are in this house.


I made this apron for my sister. It's fully reversible & very cute. Inspired by pictures of the Emmeline apron I've seen online but I drafted my own pattern that met sis' needs [including pockets & adjustable straps].
I can reveal it now as she has received it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I like being organised. In fact, I feel calm & in control when I am. Which is why days like today throw me.
I always make a double batch of whatever I'm baking. I can't help it. It always seems to me that if I'm going to the effort I may as well double it, freeze one batch then save me the trouble next time. But today I decided to be 'normal' and make a single batch of cupcakes for the party we were going to.
Then the phone rang & we were invited to another birthday party in the afternoon. This one we could only pop into on the way to ballet, so I didn't worry too much. But then there was this nagging in the back of my head: Miss 6 won't be able to eat the cake [she's coeliac so I always have to take gluten free food to parties for her]. So I've just finished baking a second set of IDENTICAL cupcakes to the ones I made this morning.
Instead of folding the washing, tidying up, wrapping gifts, spending time with my girls etc. etc. I have baked TWICE today.
Next time I'll just make a double batch.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Too busy to think?

Do you ever lose things? I have spent the better part of this week trying to find my Mum's Christmas gift, which I'd carefully hidden somewhere in my house, then promptly forgotten about. Then today I realised I couldn't find Miss 6's skirt for the upcoming ballet concert. Also missing was a pair of pink pants, and a new pack of bobby pins. THEN I realised that her Annie shirt was also MIA.

At this point I started to panic, realising that one of two things had happened:
(1) I had imagined buying/making all the above things; or
(2) despite appearing relatively organised & my house fairly tidy it was underneath the facade a disaster

So I continued to turn my house upside down looking for the above items. I decided the only logical way to do this was to prioritise what I was looking for. Because the ballet concert is before Christmas, the costume stuff must be the first to be found, so I concentrated on my sewing table, the ever-growing ironing pile, the laundry, & several fabric/craft storage areas.

I am happy to report that while looking for the pink pants I found the bobby pins, then while looking for the skirt I found the pink pants. Starting to see a pattern appear I looked for the Annie shirt & sure enough, the skirt was revealed. So I decided to look for Mum's gift, sure that the Annie shirt would turn up. Would you believe it, after days of looking I found Mum's gift, almost in plain view.

At this point, late in the evening after several hours of tidying & sorting & hunting & looking my situation is as follows:
- I am still missing the Annie shirt
- my sewing table is a big disaster
- the floor of my rumpus is a bigger disaster
- I have a tupperware party tomorrow party in my house at 10am , ballet lessons in the afternoon & a bbq at my house in the evening. Even if I keep everyone out of these areas tomorrow I won't be able to deal with them until at least Thursday
- my sister & her husband are arriving from overseas on Saturday & need to sleep in that room
- I am still missing the Annie shirt [repeated because I'm stressed about this]
- I am relieved that I found most of the things I'd lost because it means point (1) above is untrue

It occurred to me that to be as forgetful as I am, and to lose things as often as I do [this is not an out-of-character experience for me] I must be too busy to lay down the memory trail of where I put things, ie too busy to think.

Somehow I don't think we're meant to go through life so busy that we don't think about what we're doing, or what's going on around us. I don't think we were created to miss out on living because we're too busy to lay down memory paths.

So this 'silly season' I'm going to try what I'm doing right now: sitting back & taking a breath. In the bible the Lord says "Be still & know that I am God". It's not an easy thing to do, to be still. More difficult is knowing who God is, unless you read the bible, where He reveals Himself to us.

I want to encourage you - don't miss out on any more of your life. Being too busy to recall what's happening around you & too busy to spend time with the God who created this life is no way to live. It also leads to a lot of things getting lost, in my experience.

I think I'll shut the door of the rumpus for tomorrow & enjoy my guests. The shirt will turn up [hopefully before the ballet concert].

Friday, December 4, 2009


Do you have picky eaters in your house? I do. Even when I chop onion as small as humanly possible they can find it in a mouthful of food, pull it out & say "I don't like this, why did you put onion in it?".

But I have found a solution for my home, where the adults really like onion, & the children don't: dried onion flakes. Here is my not-so-secret recipe for the most delicious meatballs/rissoles [I give this recipe out often because people always comment on how tasty they are].

Now there are no exact quantities, just rough guidelines, each time I make them they're slightly different.

Place in a bowl:
mince [I use low fat]
dried onion flakes [a teaspoon or two depending how much meat]
a splodge of tomato sauce
a dash of sweet chilli sauce
freshly ground salt & pepper
an egg to bind it together

Now put your disposable gloves on & mix it all together with your hands! Disposable gloves are essenial in any kitchen for making meatballs, cutting up yukky stuff like chicken, making pastry & stopping it getting under your fingernails etc etc.

Onion Flake on Foodista

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

More Christmas cards...

In a previous post about my last day making cards with Julie I mentioned I'd be using one design for the girls to give to their school friends. Yesterday I worked quite hard [around the school concert, dinner, & other activities] to get these done. I did have some help, but I've discovered that if you have to make 48 identical cards & you are doing them in a production line [ie all cutting first, then all the scoring, then stamping, then folding] a 2 year old gets bored very quickly, and a 4 year old quite soon after. So the help was short-lived, which made me much quicker!
I've just taped candy canes in 21 of them for Miss 4, who has stamped 'love from Miss 4' on the inside of the cover. Miss 6 can write in hers [she doesn't know that yet]. It's a lovely way of combining a card & candy cane gift in one. Although I must say I don't want to make any more for a while...


Things have been quiet-ish on my blog for the last month, not because I haven't been crafting, but because I haven't FINISHED anything. My list of deadlines [eg all gifts bought & wrapped prior to Dec 1; all handmade gift finished by Nov 30] has kept me flitting from project to project.

But seeing as Miss 6 finishes school on Friday, I needed to FINISH her teacher gifts, which meant finishing Miss 4's seeing as they're all the same. I've made each teacher a bag [three here but five in total] and I'm pretty certain none of them read this blog so it's safe to show you what I've been up to.

I also got the girls to help me make cards - they have a perforation along the side [thanks, Julie!] so that part tears away into a bookmark. This is the result of our efforts.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

my last 'cards with Julie'

Yesterday was my final card morning with Julie [see here for more info]. It seems strange to be doing my 'lasts' - it hasn't really sunk in yet that we're moving soon. These are the cards I did with her yesterday. I will miss her creativity & company. Today I have been working on 48 of the small matchbox style cards [the green one] for Misses 4 & 6 to give to their friends. But instead of a punched Santa, I'm stamping a gold Christmas tree as I would go mad if I tried to make 48 of those little guys!!
Off to finish sticking them together now...