Sunday, December 22, 2013

salt dough christmas decorations

Sparkly star, beaded necklace and Christmas bell.
Me and the big one cutting out the Christmas shapes.
Mistletoe, snowman and stocking.

While the little one napped, me and the big boy made salt dough Christmas decorations. We rolled the dough and cut them in to shapes and left them in the oven on very low for almost 3 hours. I used this recipe and added a tablespoon of cinnamon spice so they smelled "christmasy" but I think that defeats the problem of ants. We do have a major indoor ant problem at the moment! At first we used glitter glue but it was not very effective. After they dried we brushed kids craft glue on the shapes and then poured loose glitter and they came out brilliant. We painted the snowman white before adding glitter so the shape was more defined. The decorations are so beautiful on our tree.

Wishing everyone a Merry Xmas! Stay cool in all this heat and drive safe if you have to travel.  I'll be on a little break but I will still check my favourite blogs for a night cap read.

See you all in the New Year!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

almond meal cake with strawberries and cream

Happy first birthday to our little bumblee.

We went on a tour about how fish are bred and raised at the Gaden Trout Hatchery.

Archie squealed in delight every time the fish splashed around when fed.

 And then we went home for cake!

Almond Meal Cake with Strawberries and Cream

1 1/2 cups of Almond Meal
1/4 cup Organic Self Raising Flour
200g Unsalted Butter
1 cup of Caster Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
4 eggs
300ml Double Cream
Strawberries to decorate cake

Preheat oven 180ºC
  1. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla bean paste until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at time.
  2. Fold in the almond meal and self raising flour with a wooden spoon.
  3. Spoon the mixture in to a lined 20cm cake pan.
  4. Bake in oven for 50 mins or until cake comes away from the sides of the pan. Let cake pan cool for 10 mins before turning on to a wire rack.
  5. Lightly whisk double cream.
  6. Spread jam on top of cake (I used Hanks Jam) and then whisk cream and top with strawberries (ours were from our garden).
I took a fairly unhealthy recipe and made it simpler and healthier. I think it was the perfect summery cake for a first birthday. Happy special day little one. xx

Sunday, December 15, 2013

sewing a pillow with kids

Every time I sit in front of the sewing machine Max is there breathing down my neck and tapping me on the shoulder asking, "When can I use that machine?" I let him sit on my lap and sew on fabric scraps and  recently I thought he was more than ready for a sewing project to make mostly by himself.

We followed a project in a DK book I found in the bargain bin from our local post office. Max is 6 years old and this was his first proper sewing project. Instead of cutting out the pattern I simplified it and cut a round shape.

I used what I had in my stash: permanent fabric markers and cotton white fabric. The embroidery hoop kept the fabric nice and taut so it was easier to draw on.

Putting the right sides together and pinning the fabric together. I used the embroidery hoop again so it was easy for Max to pin the fabric by himself.

I sat Max on my lap and he was able to sew all the way around reminding him to leave a big enough gap to fill the pillow later. I cut the fabric with a 1/4 inch seam; that part of the fabric was not coloured in so it was obvious for Max to follow the white line.

Turning the fabric inside out. We left a fairly wide gap so he could fit his whole hand in there.

Stuffing the pillow with polyster fibre fill. I am on the look out for affordable natural wool filling.

Hand sewing the pillow shut. I gave him the longest needle I could find and he had no problems with it.

Almost done...I had to sew in some gaps after he'd finished. 

It was such a fun afternoon together. I have two boys so it has crossed my mind that I might miss out on these kinds of activities with my children but as you can see, this is not the case at all, much to my delight.

This is the perfect beginner project for a 6 year old and it is so treasured because he made it with his own two hands. Soulemama has a similar project in this book we have at home and I recommend both books. We will be making more homemade toys together and special gifts for the little one. Rob has even voiced his interest in making wooden toys.

Creating things together is one of my "family traditions" I have been fostering to keep our family life simplified. It's nuturing and builds wonderful childhood memories.

Do you make things with your children? This week we made Christmas decorations and now I must get ready for Carols by Candlelight...oh and happy sewing with your children!

Friday, December 13, 2013

strawberries and spelt scones

First strawberry harvest of the season.

Strawberry seedlings were gifted to us from friends.

Even the little one is helping.

After-school pickings.

Replenishing the worm farm.

Pikelets for little fingers.

 Another after-school harvest.

Garden friends.

Mama's turn to harvest.
Rustic strawberry spelt scone with coconut sugar.

It has been strawberry heaven over here. Last spring my lovely friend planted some of her strawberry seedlings in our garden. Rob filled the beds with a trailer load of mushroom compost and dutifully waters our strawberries but the children and I have been enjoying the fruits of his labour. I'm unsure of the variety. Anyone recognise these blissful strawberries?

After school pick-up we arrive home and harvest strawberries together. This peaceful break centres us before the afternoon rush to bring in washing and start dinner and before the somewhat noisy bath and bed time affair. At first we pick and eat strawberries like possums but later as the crop became abundant we would fill a bowl every couple of days for some sweet baking. Max is a really good fruit picker and I already have visions of him "WWOOFing" around the world when he finishes high school.

The little one has been getting in on the action too. A few times he has shoved whole strawberries in his mouth before I can catch him. There seems to be less of a choking hazard than the store bought variety: Homegrown is so soft and sweet and dissolves blissfully in your mouth.

Strawberry recipes we've enjoyed are pikelets, a strawberry shortcake and scones. I always make english scones but I've been dying to try American scones. I've adapted closely from this recipe but replaced some refined ingredients with wholefoods. This is how I made mine.

Rustic Strawberry Spelt Scones

1 cup of strawberries cut in to small pieces
3 tbs coconut sugar
2 cups of wholemeal spelt
2 tsp of baking powder (aluminium free)
1/4 tsp salt (idodised and aluminium free)
90g butter
180ml buttermilk

Preheat oven 200ºC
  1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, add butter and combine with fingers until crumbly
  2. Pour in buttermilk and add chopped strawberries
  3. Combine ingredients gently in to a ball and place on lightly floured surface
  4. Place baking paper over lightly floured ball and roll in to a round disc about 2cm thick
  5. Cut in to wedges and transfer to cookie sheet
  6. Bake for 15 mins
These scones are not very sweet so you could definitely eat them for breakfast without feeling guilty - we did! Also extra yum with strawberry jam and butter:)