Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Growing up; growing together

My little girls are growing up.  They’re catching up with each other, and then they’re racing away as they go through their developmental growth spurts.  But whatever the case, they are growing together.  And it’s the joy of my life.  You know that feeling?  When you’re just sitting there, watching, enjoying, with a goofy smile on your face.  Yeah – that feeling.  It’s awesome.

One day, after Little Miss M and Dear Husband had already left for the day, I was lounging around in bed – ok, I was wallowing in self-pity over my head cold.  Before he left, I think Dear Husband had a quiet word to the two little one to let me rest.

And so they did.  I heard some shuffling.  I heard some whispering.  I heard some furniture being moved around.  I heard some “help please Ditse”.  I heard some “Ssshhh, mama’s sleeping.”

Of course, who can resist that?  I had to get up to see what was going on.  And this is what I saw…

 Little Miss Independence and Little Miss Independence-in-training.  Gee willie winkies – they’re clever, huh?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Self confessed food addict

I love to travel.  I travel to experience different cultures.  I travel to see new sights.  I travel to meet new people.  I travel to catch up with my friends and family.  And I travel for the food.  Actually, I really travel for the food and everything else is a bonus.  But, you know… don’t tell anyone, especially my relatives.

One of the foods that I discovered while overseas in the U.S of A was the soft pretzel.  And the soft pretzel, still warm, lightly salted, served with a luscious caramel dipping sauce.  Thank you Auntie Anne’s.

Ok – so I would travel to the States just for Auntie Anne’s and In-an-out Burger and for the “biscuits with gravy” and for the pastrami sandwiches.  And for the ribs.  And for the chicken wings with buffalo sauce.  And to be able to eat raw broccoli dipped in ranch without anyone pulling faces!!!

And yes, I would travel to Hong Kong just for the mango with sago in coconut milk dessert.  Eh, so I’m easy.

Anyways, I thought I would give these pretzels a go.  I haven’t found anything here to compare against, so I’m actually living off a 10 year old memory. 

Pretzel recipe from here (I think!) with some hints and tips from Alton Brown (Love you!!)

 And no, it doesn’t quite measure up, but it’s a good start.  I’m moving in the right direction.  So I’m going to keep on. 

In the meanwhile, if you’re in the States, have one for me, ok?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sweet Dreams

We've had a small spate of birthday parties for Little Miss M to attend in this past month.  And it's always a bit of a guessing game to figure out what her friends might want for their birthday.  What Little Miss M would like to give to her friends.

So far Little Miss M is still quite happy to give her friends something homemade.  And so far, these have been a hit with both Little Miss M and her friends (well, according to their mommas anyway).  And I think these little ones still get a kick out of seeing their names on things.  What do you think?

And the best thing... I've heard how Little Miss M's friends show how they treasure their presents - favourite doll's sleeping bag; magic cape; a bag for treasured things.  And how they don't want to sully it by getting it dirty on their bed if they use it as a pillow!!!!

Little Miss M has been helping with the designs.  I'm hoping to start her on sewing them up herself with a bit of practise :)

Happy Birthday Little Friends!  Dream big!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Simplify : Bathroom

Hmmm... exciting title, huh?

Anyways... part of my simplify philosophy is how we live our life here at mon chez moi.  Borne out of necessity and preference, our bathroom has been simplified the agmay way.

When we moved into our apartment, the bathroom was sadly lacking in storage.  It was also lacking in space, so putting in any storage was going to require some thought.

I thought about what activities we needed to do in the bathroom.  And limited storage requirements just for those activities.

Makeup - no.
Tooth brushing - yes.
Medicines - no.
Contact Lenses - yes.
Lotions - no.
Cleaning products - not really.
Hair products - yes and no.  (For my Dear Husband, he washes his hands after applying hair stuff.  I just brush and spray.)

Do you get the picture?

Actually, here's a picture.

And that's it.  That's all that's in our bathroom.
(I'm still looking for a way to store the toilet paper, which sits just outside the bathroom in the laundry alcove.)

As we live our life this way, I can see the advantages...
- no-one is hogging the bathroom.
- it takes no time at all to clean.
- less effort to keep it clutter-free.

I think, even if we had the option of a bigger bathroom, I would still limit what we keep in the bathroom.  With 3 little girls growing up into 3 teenagers, I think I need to limit what they do daily in the bathroom!!!

And for the things that I might want to occasionally take into the bathroom...

I keep this in my bedroom.  And I find that I usually bring it into the living room, later at night when the girls are in bed, and pamper myself in the living room rather than the bathroom.

What do you think?  Do you think you could or would want to simplify what is in your bathroom?

Monday, September 22, 2014

DIY : howdy pardner - pink gingham

DIY – Gingham Shirt

Oh - and please excuse the less than flattering photos...

Another foray into "sewing for me" – a pink gingham structured shirt.

This is another pattern from Vogue.  What can I say – I like familiarity.

The pattern offers multiple variations, which was appealing as well as it being the style that I was looking for.

And here is the finished product (*sigh* back to setting up the camera for selfies).  Ok, it’s not my favourite pair of pants but I’m working on that.

Onto the shirt.  I like it.  It’s not perfect, but it has potential.

On the finished product...

I like contrast cuffs and collar.  I like the shape.  I like the fit in the front.  I like the circumference of the sleeves.

I don’t like the slight tightness in the bust.  I don’t like the length of the sleeve. 

To get to this point, these are the alterations that I had to do to the pattern
- Shorten to correctly place the waistline (therefore shortening the overall length)
- Move the bust apex
- Move the front darts
- Shorten the sleeve length
- Move the back darts
- Make contrast cuffs and collar

So… all the above don’t-likes are pretty much my doing and is fixable on the next version.

Moving the bust apex was a bit of a task, but if I had not done it I really would have looked like a lil' sis borrowing her big sis' work shirt.

I used this tutorial to move the bust dart.  Here's how it worked out on my shirt...

1.  Determine where the bust dart should be (here - moved higher)
2.  Draw a rectangle around the existing dart
3.  Mark where the new dart should sit
4.  Cut out the rectangle and move it (up in this instance)
5.  Fill in the hole with scrap pattern paper
6.  Fold the dart as if sewing and ease cut the seam
7.  Open out the folded dart to get the new pattern shape
8.  Adjust the front dart to end a similar distance as from the original apex
My wearing caveats… There’s something in the sleeve and the back that is bothering me. 

With the sleeve, I’m not sure what range of movement I should be getting with this type of shirt.  I’ve never had a well-fitted shirt before.  It’s a bit annoying when I lift my arms up (say to fix my hair) and the whole shirt is displaced.  Surely, that’s not how this is supposed to move with your body...?

And there’s this bunching in the back.  I’m not sure if the back is too wide.  Or if the back waist placement or the back contouring is not where it should be.

But besides that... (and until I can figure out what is causing these)...

This pattern is a keeper for me.  It’s not at it’s end state for a perfect fit, but I like it enough to work on this one instead of looking for another pattern.

What do you think?  Am I on the right track for a perfect fit?

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's a Wrap

As in a Winter Wrap Up – thanks to MyLittle Pony.

I am currently obsessed with the Frozen soundtrack and My Little Pony soundtrack.  The songs from My Little Pony, the creation of which is headed up by Danial Ingram are so good; so appealing; and dare I say sophisticated enough to be enjoyed by appreciative adults.  Just call me a Brony!

Seriously, give it a go.  You might be pleasantly surprised. 

Anyways, there’s this song about a Winter Wrap Up.  Winter Wrap Up, Winter Wrap Up – cos tomorrow Spring is here.  So we’re doing a Winter Wrap Up Par-tay!

Any excuse to get the cousins together and the adults joining in, really.

And so, with some Winter decorations, and an extensive menu, we celebrated the coming of Spring.

And part of the menu was this scrumptious Blueberry Custard Pie.

For some reason, we don’t seem to have a lot of pie down in these parts.  CafĂ© offerings seem to trend towards cupcakes, cakes, cheesecakes and more cakes.  Not much by way of tarts and pies, from what I could see.

And I don’t understand why not!!!!

A homemade bitey buttery base… a hot creamy, custardy, blueberry-y filling… and a crunchy streusel/crumble topping.  All topped off with a scoop of ice-cold vanilla ice-cream.  Oh yeah, baby!

This one is a keeper…

And check out my homemade pie base - not too shabby, eh?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

It ain't no Picnic

But it was definitely inspired by one...

I do love me my Picnics.  Wafer with cream, covered in caramel, surrounded by peanuts and smothered in chocolate.  Oooh, baby!

I have no problems with buying these deliciousness, but I can't bring it home or share them with my girls due to the peanuts.  (Ironically, we do have PB in the house... but we're talking about Picnics here, not my sense of logic!)

Here's my breakdown of this love affair.  Cream wafers - always a good start.  Caramel, yes please.  Peanuts... hmmm, I like the bite and the salty counterpart it offers to the rest of the confection.  Chocolate, which *gasp* can be a bit too much, but still a necessity.

So... this is what I came up with.  My homemade deliciousness (although the wafers are store-bought)...

Store bought wafers - I haven't found a recipe for these babies.  So, store bought for now.

Buttercream - simple American Buttercream, but I get to control the sugar to butter ratio (yeah - butter always wins).  A thin layer between three wafers.

Salted Caramel sauce - homemade is sooooo good.  Again, I get to control the sugar to butter ratio (and butter is still winning).  The sauce is layered on top.

Rice Bubbles - for extra crunch and vision.

Chocolate dribblings - fancy (!) and necessary.

For my taste buds, this is a perfect combination of crunch and silky smoothness (wafer and rice bubbles vs buttercream), sweet and salt (buttercream and caramel vs caramel), all balanced on the perfect carriers (wafer and rice bubbles) with the chocolate being the icing on the top.  It's homemade; it's divine; it's dangerous.

To save our hearts and waistlines, I have the ingredients on hand but only put it together when we're going to eat it.  Otherwise, it's a constant stopover at the pantry as I sneak in another bite.

Thanks Cadbury.  You're an inspiration :)