Monday, September 26, 2011

Show some empathy

I'm a real killjoy when it comes to the Royal Melbourne Show.  It's just not my cup of tea.  I'm thinking it's been a couple of decades (nothing makes you feel older than this word, eh?), yep DECADES I'm sure, since I've been to the show. 

It's expensive and there's nowhere to sit in the shade and it's expensive and it smells and it's pretty expensive (have I already said that?) especially when the only thing I want to do there is ride on the dodgem cars.  

So, I'm the last person you would want with you at the show.  I am an RMS scrooge.

Well, this year Little Miss M is heading off to the show with her dad and her grandma.  "Would you like to go to the show this year, love?" asks Dear Husband as he is purchasing the tickets online.

"No thanks" I reply without missing a beat.  And then I start muttering to myself about how expensive it is, and how I really don't like the show, and how they probably wouldn't have any fun if I was around.

"Did you say something?"  asks Dear Husband.

"No" I reply fakely serenely.  And then continue muttering to myself.

"Are you angry at me for something?" asks Dear Husband.

"No" I reply fakely serenely again.  And then continue muttering to myself.  The show can really get to me sometimes.

And then my Dear Husband says, "You know, just because your brother lost five dollars at the Show one time, doesn't mean that it's a bad thing to go to."

EXCUSE ME?!?  "Just because...."  
HELLO, let me tell you about that "Just because" moment, mister.  (Oh yeah, did I tell you that I have some terrible, and I mean terrible, childhood memories of the show?)

Not only did my brother lose five dollars at the show, but someone stole a wig from my little sis.  A cool sparkly wig.  RIGHT. OFF. HER. HEAD.  Uh-huh, that's right - snatched it straight off her head.

I have a vague memory of seeing some guy with a gleeful look on his face running away from some pavillion with a sparkly wig in his hand.  And then my hysterical sis and my furious mom running out of the pavillion looking around wildly for the degenerate that would steal from a little girl.

And then my brother dejectedly announces that he lost his five dollars in all the commotion.   

I don't remember my mother's exact reaction to that bit of news, but I think we lost a year's worth of savings at that show.  Maybe even 2 years worth of savings.  Maybe even more, maybe even close to today's equivalent of a million dollars.  Yep, she was pretty pissed off, my mom.  We left the show and I don't think I've ever been back.

"Just because..."  Show some empathy, please! 

Anyways, what are these scrumptious pictures of?  Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread!

I gave this recipe a go and WOW!!  I love it!!  And my family loves it!  It's easy, it's yummy and it screams of home-baked goodness!!

It's soft and buttery and cinnamon-y aka perfect.

And you pull it apart in sheets!  How cool is that?  Joy the Baker says "Bread Heaven".  "Ditto", I say, "and pure genius."

I followed the recipe pretty much exactly, save for slightly reducing the sugar.  

Go on, try it.  It's divine!

For more baking inspirations, check out A Spoonful of Sugar Designs 

Friday, September 23, 2011

WIP it; WIP it good

The crafting side is a bit slow-going at the moment.  I have a couple of Work-In-Progress (WIP) projects happening at the moment, but cooking and baking have been the main projects of late.

So, here's a little snippet of what I'm working on on the crafting side...

I took up crocheting.  I'm loving it, but my fingers are not too happy with the project I chose.

 Using up some yarn and starting on the Christmas presents.

And I'm working on a bit of organization in the kitchen.  Can you guess what this project might be?

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Best Gift

I think the best gift I have ever given to my sis is the scarf I knitted for her (at her request).  

Why is this the best gift?  Two reasons...
a.) It's a pretty awesome scarf (she says proudly as she pats herself on the back literally and figuratively).  And
b.) My ever-so-talented sis took up knitting because of it (or so I would like to think.  She did start AFTER I gave her this).

Anyways, I have already been the recipient of one of her gorgeous creations and now Little Miss M has an original Tita J creation as well.  Check out what my talented sis from across the oceans created with her magical knitting needles...

Wait a minute - what's this?

A little summtin' summtin' that took this beauty to extra special...

Thanks Tita J!!!

And, there was another little surprise in the parcel that my sis sent, made by a talented blogger that I "met" through blogland.  Hi Irina - Look what we've got!!!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Childhood memories

I remember Sara Lee Cheesecake from my childhood.  

I remember climbing up onto a chair and taking the box of Sara Lee cheesecake out of the freezer.  

On the outside edges of the top of the cheesecake were swirly little decorations (rosettes, maybe?) and I remember cutting only enough so that I would have one full swirly decoration on my slice.  I remember being in a bit of a quandry if a slice had been cut out and halved the swirly decoration - do I cut half of the next swirly decoration to make a full one in total, or do I cut one AND a half to bring it back to status quo?  

I remember putting the rest of the Sara Lee cheesecake back into the box and climbing back up on the chair and, if I was the naughty one to have the first slice of the cheesecake, I remember spinning the box around so that on first glance it would look like the box had not yet been opened.

I remember just looking at the cheesecake, poking it once in a while to see if the slice of cheesecake had defrosted enough to just take the frozen edge off.

And then I remember digging my fork into the slice, making sure that there was a bit of the topping and a bit of the cheesecake and a bit of the biscuit base.

And I remember putting that sweet, creamy, slightly tartish bite into my mouth and savouring the combination of the cold gorgeous cheesecake on top of that buttery biscuit base.

It's been a very long time since I've had a Sara Lee Cheesecake.  I truly can't remember the actual taste of the cheesecake, just the decadent (and grownup) feeling that came with eating that luscious dessert.

When I bit into my first attempt at Hummingbird Bakery's Strawberries and Cream Cheesecake, I was transported back to my childhood and that decadent feeling.  That cold, creamy, buttery lusciousness.  This cheesecake is divine.  

The usual cheesecake mix is enhanced by delectable stewed strawberries.  And the whole concoction is topped with a delicious mascarpone cheese, sugar and whipped cream mixture.  In my opinion, this MAKES the cheesecake.  (Also it hides any cracks in the baked cheesecake :))

Three out of three for me from the Hummingbird Bakery : Cake Days cookbook.  I'm impressed.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


When I was young and single, I liked to "tart" it up.  I would walk out of the house in clothing that was mainly lycra and spandex.  I had no concept of "too short", "too tight" or "too bare".  My style back then could be considered on this side of "trash" (and sometimes crossing into it) and would be held safe by a cute smile and a bubbly personality.

These days, as a mother to two little girls, my dress code is pretty much comfort which, by default, is conservative and respectable.  With the youngest being just over three months old, my dress code is whatever is clean and I cycle through the same three outfits that I know hides any of the unexpected various explosions that comes out of a young baby.

One thing for sure, younger or older, mother or single, I don't think I have ever been capable of pulling off "stylish".

Anyways, once in a while these days, I rebel against the conservatism of my aging dress code.  I have donated most of tarty outfits, but have hung on to a couple of pieces.  Unfortunately not enough to pull together a full outfit.  So I end up mixing tart with comfort - a very confusing look.

Well, three months after giving birth and how ever many months prior of waddling around and throwing on whatever can fit around an expanding belly, I had one of those rebellious moments.  I pulled on one of those confused tarty/comfort outfits.  I don't have a full length mirror so I'm prancing about the house with a vision in my head of what I look like - and it's pretty good.  I'm about to head out of the door with the family when I turn to my Dear Husband and in a cheeky-full-of-myself voice say "so, what do you think of my outfit?".

"Dear" Husband (yeah - notice the rabbit ears) pulls that cringe-slash-wince-while-shaking-head look and says "But, it's good to see you trying, love."

WHAT?!?  Two things wrong with this...
a.) "It's good to see you trying."?!? and
b.)  You were going to let me walk out of the house wearing THIS while you were thinking THAT?

*sigh* needless to say, my rebellious moment has passed.

So, I'm back into my comfortest of comfort clothes, which some might call my pjs and I've hung around home to make this.  It may not make me look any better, but it sure does make me forget about dress codes.

I hope you're all having a lovely weekend with your loved ones!

PS.  This was made using this fabulous tutorial.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Monkey See; Monkey Do

I was just monkeying around the kitchen...

I had some dough leftover from baking dinner rolls and cinnamon buns (yeah - it was alot of dough!) and I had seen this idea from the Pioneer Woman previously.  Cinnamon, butter, sugar and a dash of sweetened condensed milk - yes please!!!  Ok, so maybe, just maybe, I accidentally on purpose put some dough aside just so I could indulge in this .... well, indulgence.

And what an indulgence - worse still, an easy indulgence as I already had the dough.  Caramelised cinnamon sugar with a bit of bread covered with sweetened condensed milk.  I don't think I really need to say more.

And, in honour of Father's Day, we had special "WE heart DADDY" pancakes... ok ok - I ran out of time, energy and ideas this year.  (Note to self - try harder next year!)

Don't mock the banana - at $12.99/kg this is a real treat.  Unfortunately Daddy was too slow and Little Miss M took it and ate it.  It might be Father's Day, but "you snooze you lose" still applies.

 And, Baby Mac was very patient throughout this whole photo taking session.  She tried to object - this was way too cheesy - but in the end she just sighed and put up with it.

What is this?


Take it off... PLEASE.

Fine, just take the damn photo.  I hope none of my friends see this.
 I hope you have enjoyed your weekend and are all refreshed for the week ahead!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Just in Time

Finished!  I finally finished Little Miss M's winter jumper!  And just one week short of the end of winter - hahaha!!

This is a wonderful pattern.  Even though it took me just under 3 months to finish it, this is a very easy pattern (I think I would rate myself as an advanced beginner knitter).  It was my mistakes and lack of energy that made it a longer project than it needed to be.  I am so happy with the results - I love the look, the fit, the yarn, the colors.  I'll have to make sure that I do the Fair Isle a bit looser next time - it was the first time that I had tried knitting Fair Isle.  (Don't be scared - it's easy!)

Would I recommend this pattern?  Definitely!  
 - For a beginner because it's such an easy pattern to knit up and 
 - for anyone else that likes the look of the jumper and
 - for those of you who have a sweet little girl like mine who, upon seeing the completed jumper on herself, threw her sweet little arms around my neck and exclaimed "I'm so proud of you mama!".  I'll knit up a hundred more of these jumpers for that reaction alone.

Some details :-
 - it is 99.99% a seamless knitted pattern.  I had to do some sewing to attach the bottom of the collar to the jumper.
 - this is a size 4T.  And I used about 200g of yarn.
 - the yarn is by Jo Sharp - the silk road tweed, where I used only two colors.  The pattern allows for three colours.
 - the yarn is not smooth, more rough and rugged.  Not at all scratchy.  It does pill a bit, but the colorway hides that, again because it's not a smooth even color. 
 - I was able to test the sizing on Little Miss M as I went along.  The pattern calls for knitting the body first starting from the neck, so I was able to test for ease about half way through the Fair Isle and I was able to test for length before starting the ribbing at the bottom.  And then the arms are knitted up, so I was also able to test for the length of the arms (and how it looked against the body).
 - the neckline is very stretchy yet a close fit, so cast on very loosely.  I find this style to be very good on those windy days.
 - the pattern is written for 18 months up to 10 years old.  I purchased the pattern from Ravelry and think this range makes it a very good investment pattern.
And, I leave you with a paparazzi picture of Little Miss M and her latest fashion accessory - an adoring dad to carry all of her little Night Garden friends.