Tuesday, December 24, 2013


 Unto you a child is born this day in the city of David
 a saviour who is Christ the Lord.
  Luke 2:11

HE is     Alpha and Omega    Rev 1:8
the Word of God   Rev 19:13
 one Mediator   1 Tim 2:5
Everlasting Father   Isa 9:6
Shiloh   Gen   49:10
True light   John 1:9
Prince of Peace   Isa 9:6
Immanuel Isa 7:14
Rock   1 Cor 10:4
Lion of the Tribe of Judah   Rev 5:5
The Life    John 14:6
Mighty One   Isa 60:16
 Beloved Son   Mat 12:18
the Lamb   Rev 13:8
Lily of The Valley   song 2:1
the Truth   John1:14
The Light of the World   John 8:12
Faithful Witness   Rev 1:5
Heir of All Things   Heb 1:2
 Resurrection and Life   John 11:25
The Son of God   Mat 2:15
Redeemer   Job 19:25
Lord of Glory   1 Cor 2:8
First Begotten   Rev 1:5
Good Shepherd   John 10:11
Author of Eternal Salvation   Heb 5:9
 Lord of All   Acts 10:36
Wishing you all a lovely, peaceful Christmas with your loved ones.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas goodies.

Bit late getting this post out there, better late than never maybe? As homemade bakes always find their way into our Christmas gifts, I thought I might compile a post of some of the sweet treats that I seem to make year after year. I tend to favour those homemade goodies that are fairly easy to make and keep for at least a week beforehand, recipes that I know will work out well. Christmas is no time for trying to be healthy! The kids (and Mr CH) look forward to the fudge especially, I don't make much in the way of sweet treats any other time (mean mum).

Have included a couple of easy bickies as well, they keep for two weeks at least. I'm an Aussie so I call biscuits, biscuits/bickies, seems everyone's calling them cookies these days? Don't get me started on patty cakes cupcakes!

White rocky road
 This is a popular recipe that has been doing the rounds for a few years now at Christmas because it's too easy not to make. We make this instead of White Christmas. One of those treats where you can substitute ingredients depending on taste.
2/3 cup of craisins (dried, sweetened cranberries)
1/2 cup chopped toasted pistachios
2/3 cup shredded coconut
3 cups chopped marshmallows
1 375gram pack of white chocolate melts (Nestle brand)
Combine craisins, pistachios, coconut and marshmallows in a bowl and stir to mix.
Melt chocolate in a microwave or double boiler or over simmering water being careful not to overheat chocolate.
 Pour over craisin mixture and stir to combine, spoon into a greaseproof paper lined tray 30cm x 21 cm (12 x 8 inch)
Harden in fridge and cut into squares, store in fridge.

Strawberry Oreo fudge

125 g butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons glucose syrup ( no substitute, you need this to stop the sugar crystallising)
1  395g can condensed milk
200g dark chocolate
7 strawberry Oreo biscuits, roughly broken into chunks (you could use any cream biscuits)
Place butter, sugar, syrup and condensed milk in saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring until you feel the sugar dissolve. Takes about 10 mins and should be glossy.
Increase heat to a simmer and cook stirring to prevent sticking to bottom of saucepan.
Stir until mixture starts to pull away from the side of the saucepan. About 8 minutes depending on your stove, less for gas.
Remove from heat, stir in chocolate and then biscuits  and working fairly quickly before it sets, Pour into greaseproof paper lined tray 27 x 17cm
Allow to set, cut into squares and store in fridge.
Apricot Cointreau balls

200 grams dried apricots
20mls (1 tablespoon) Cointreau (or Triple sec, Grand Marnier or orange juice)
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
5 wheat breakfast cereal biscuits - crushed ( VitaBrits, WeetBix or other crushed cereal)
substitute crushed biscuits if you like, you need 90 grams worth. I find the VitaBrits give a nice not-too-dense texture.
 1/2 of one 395gram tin of condensed milk
 Chop or process apricots finely (I like to chop mine by hand)
Add Cointreau or juice etc. and mix.
Add coconut and crushed cereal biscuits and mix well with your hands.
Pop in the fridge for half an hour to harden slightly and then roll in extra coconut.
Store in the fridge, makes 25 balls or double the recipe if you like.
Rocky road fudge
125g butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons glucose syrup
1  395g can condensed milk
200g milk chocolate melts, chopped
1/3 cup chopped nuts
 1 1/2 cups chopped marshmallows
1/3 cup raspberry jubes/ glace cherries or sultanas, chopped.

Line a 27 x17 cm tray with greaseproof paper.
Place butter, brown sugar, glucose syrup and condensed milk into a heavy based saucepan over low heat.
Stir continuously until sugar has dissolved.
Increase heat to medium and stir continuously until mixture starts to thicken and pull away slightly from the sides.
Stir in chocolate, nuts, marshmallows and cherries etc stirring until chocolate has melted.
Quickly pour into greaseproof paper lined tray and set in the fridge.
Cut when firm and store in the fridge.

Chocolate nut squares
120g milk chocolate melts
120g dark chocolate melts
2/3 cup chopped nuts
4 tablespoons cocoa
2/3 cup coconut
2/3 cup condensed milk
 Melt chocolate in bowl over simmering water being careful not to overheat.
Add nuts, cocoa, coconut and condensed milk and stir to combine.
 Press into greaseproof paper lined tin/dish approx. 27 x 17 cm tray
Harden in fridge ,cut and store in fridge.
Rum balls
 Every family has their own favourite recipe for these, some using cake crumbs, some crushed biscuits, this is the recipe (think it's a CWA recipe) my Nanna would make and has become the only recipe we use.
 10 VitaBrits or Weetbix (we're a VitaBrit family) breakfast cereal biscuits
I cup sultanas
1/2 cup coconut
2 tablespoons cocoa
1  395g can condensed milk 
good splash of rum or rum essence
 Extra coconut for rolling

Crush VitaBrits into sizeable crumbs, add sultanas, coconut, cocoa and mix.
Add condensed milk and rum and mix until well combined.
 Put in fridge for 20 mins to firm up slightly.
Press mixture into firm balls and roll in coconut.
Store in fridge.

1/2 of a 395 gram tin of condensed milk  200grams
3 tablespoons butter 60 grams
2 tablespoons golden syrup 40 mls
1/2 cup caster sugar
 Place all ingredients except vanilla in a heavy based saucepan and stir over low heat to dissolve sugar. Increase heat and allow to simmer while stirring continually for ten minutes or until mixture thickens and becomes glossy and starts to hold together.
If you like firm caramels cook longer.
Add vanilla and pour into greaseproof paper lined tray and cool in fridge.
 Have read in places that some people have trouble cooking caramels, can be tricky to get perfect, depending how firm you like to eat them. I always read comments when reading other recipes. Some people have mentioned having to throw out saucepans/ thermometers etc. Just a tip if you do overcook any sugar related syrup such as toffees (or savoury sauce). And find that your utensils have stuck together.
 Fill your saucepan with water and bring to the boil, the water lifts any burnt/stuck sugar from your utensils and saves from having to throw anything out. Never occurred to me that others out there don't know this, just thought I'd mention.

Almond bread
Always make a few loaves of almond bread for Christmas, one for us and some to gift. Quick and easy and can be made ahead of time. Crispy wafer-like.

3 egg whites (60g)
1/2 caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
1 cup of raw almonds
 Beat egg whites until stiff.
Add sugar gradually, beating well to dissolve all sugar. Meringue texture.
Sift flour and fold into egg/sugar mix.
Add almonds.
Spoon mixture into greaseproof paper lined loaf tin ( 
Bake in mod oven (180c/ 356f) until firm to touch.
Approx. 30 minutes.
Remove from tin , allow to cool, then wrap (still in greaseproof paper) in cling wrap and set aside for two days to harden slightly (not in fridge).
Then cut into thin slices, arrange on baking tray and allow to dry in a slow oven (120c/248f).
Check and turn until wafers are crisp but not brown.
Store in airtight container for two weeks+.
 Caramel biscuits
A sweet, rich biscuit. Bake at own risk!

1 cup brown sugar/200gms
1 egg (59 grams)
1/2 cup oil/125mls
1 cup plain flour/150gms
1/2 cup self-raising flour/75gms
1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice/70gms
1 cup of caramel bits/190gms
Preheat oven to 180 c/356 f
In a bowl beat egg, oil and brown sugar with an electric mixer until somewhat thicker and fluffy.
Sift flours together and add to oil/egg/sugar mixture, add nuts and caramel bits and mix until combined.
Roll heaped teaspoons of mixture into rough balls and press down slightly on a baking papered tray.
Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating trays and check to avoid over browning.
Perfect gift for Dads.
Chocolate chunk biscuits
  Our favourite chocolate biscuit, a good all rounder. Who doesn't love choc-chip biscuits?
125 grams butter
1 1/4 cups of brown sugar firmly packed
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup self raising flour
1 teaspoon of bicarb soda
1 cup chopped milk or dark chocolate melts
1/4 cup chopped white chocolate melts (or mini m&m's)
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (or sultanas)
Beat butter and sugar together until creamed.
 Add egg and vanilla and mix to combine.
Sift flours, cocoa and bicarb together and stir into butter mixture to combine.
Add chocolate and nuts and stir well.
Drop a tablespoons worth onto a paper lined baking tray and bake in a mod oven for 10 mins.
Cool on racks so biscuits stay crunchy.
 Have posted this recipe before, so here's the link
Some goodies not listed here that we sometimes make include, coconut ice, truffles, coloured meringues, chocolate dipped marshmallows, chocolate covered pretzels (well liked for the last few Christmas'es), Anything Goes Rocky Road.
 What is that one thing that you must have each Christmas?
For us it's Rumballs (and Pavlova!).

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December days...

There have been a few extra chores on the to-do-list lately, it's our turn to host (is that what we should call it) the Christmas lunch this year (18 of us). Which I am kind of relieved about, this year we know what's happening, last year was a last minute affair. Little niece Miss H was in hospital for a week extra with serious treatment complications and everything was up in the air until a few days before. Trusting for a uneventful lead-up this year, trying to keep things as simple as possible and not biting off more than we can chew. Have had to finish painting the outdoor furniture as it was seriously gross and had turned into an outdoor workbench. I painted the table and one bench two months ago and have been dragging the heels on the last bench, as usual. Nothing like impending visitors to up the motivation to finish a few jobs.
 I have decided to attempt sewing mini bags as gifts for niece (2) and niece (soon to be 5). It is really hard gifting to children who already have everything! So I'm thinking little girls like bags with goodies inside. I found these delicious seersucker fabrics from Lincraft, their Tutti Frutti range, yes they are delicious (watermelon and strawberries) heaps more patterns to choose from, I had a hard time just picking three. Haven't started sewing yet, eeek! Being as good as a non-sewer, I need plenty of time.

Made the little girls some gingerbread playdough, the recipe below makes enough to wrap two rolls in ziplock bags and fit into a Pringles tin. The tag is just a square cut from a tissue box, quick and entertaining gift for little ones.
Cream of tartar playdough.
3/4 cup salt
1 1/2 cup plain flour
3 tablespoons of cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon oil 20ml

Mix dry ingredients together in a saucepan, add water and oil and mix.
Stir over low heat until mixture congeals, few minutes.
Tip onto bench and roll until smooth.
Store in airtight container in the fridge.

Daughter has been busy making paper chains for our Christmas lunch, three out of four kids will be in charge of decorating our alfresco eating space. This should be interesting as boys and girls have very different expectations when it come to d├ęcor. Let's see if they can agree what goes where.

 Can't help making a few decorations each year, this year just a few paper lanterns from double-sided paper...

 and a few quilled stars...

and some red (?) snowflakey looking things.

The mo is gone, think we are both relieved. I was having a hard time not laughing when he was being serious.

The December Super food ideas mag has these cute little reindeer chocolates instructions and I've decided the Mars bar cheesecake will be dessert no 3 (after pav and pudd,)

Semifreddo with summer fruits will be dessert no 4 as it might be hot a day. Had a practise to work out what fruits I wanted to use. If you like Weis bars, you'll like Semifreddo. I chose this one so I can make it ahead and forget about it. Used a Katie Q D recipe because it looked delicious of course, I used 700grams of fruit in mine, kept the skins on the nectarines, used 3 teaspoons of lime juice and whipped pure cream (without the gelatine) 

Took the easy road Birthday cake wise. For no 1 son's Birthday, a rich chocolate cake with homemade mallow icing and chopped honeycomb on top. Didn't want to use the fondant this time, nobody likes it much. December is a birthday month here, three of them.

Christmas decorations are up and boxes packed away. We always feel strange when everything is pulled down after Christmas, it looks so bare.

Hoping there will be a few flowers left blooming for the Christmas table.

 Mr CH made me a few boxes for a little table piece, only took him 20 minutes, now I just need the flowers. Should I paint and sand them or not? Crazy effort for one meal, this Christmas thing, bit of fun though.
 How are your preparations going?
I'm off lunchbox duty for a few weeks, woo hoo!!!
Have a wonderful week.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Happy vintage finds 2013

Blue and green can't go wrong,  1950/60's basket for crafty bits (to gather dust).
Another round-up of those vintage finds that have brightened my days this year, little bits that haven't made it into a blog post. Mostly kitchen stuff this year, which is kind of strange as the cooking urge has been extremely on/off this year. Most have only have cost a dollar or two, sometimes it just isn't about "how much something costs".....

A selection of crockery that has joined the Crazy House this year @ a dollar or two each, Royal Tudor Ware, Johnsons of Australia, Johnson Bros (England), Saji (Japan), Morello, Alfred Meakin, Queen Anne. 
Got thinking while looking at this pic, we have never bought a dinner set... never! We seem to get given them (whether we like it or not, ha) I kinda like mismatched everything these days.

After wanting a baba cake tin for so long, but not actively searching for it, I found one in an oppy and I'm embarrassed to say I've only baked one cake in it and that was quite "ordinary". Happy to find this old rustic wire rack that I've also wanted for a while (much nicer than the newer types), have used this many, many times.


More grandpa mugs for a few cents

A light blue Propert sifter, made in Australia and another seersucker tablecloth (another potential accidental collection), $2.75 for the both.

After seeing others happily showing their "brand new" vintage sheet finds, I was pretty happy to find my own brand new vintage sheet set in retro pink. Could I cut them up though?  Not much call for pink bed sheets in this house. The 70's had such happy sheets.
Two vases this year, this vintage ring vase (Dianaware i think?), perfect for fallen blooms. 

And this unusual vase (1960's i think) for $1 from the oppy.

Spirea (s.cantonesis) is the reason for wanting a garden of my own, love this flower bush, double May.

From the oppy, a gorgeous set of Pyrex Cinderella bowls, the smallest has a few scratches inside, but they are in amazing condition.

$9 for the set.

A retro sewing basket, because even we non-sewers need somewhere to put all those bits and bobs.

Missing two pearly beads, but clean and in good knick.

Continuing on the mustard/brown/retro orange theme. One piece of furniture this year, it's getting close to one-in, one-out around here, so I need to be more selective. I wasn't too selective with this one though as they are getting harder to find around here. I think the op-shop people thought I was crazy, they don't know I have a hubby who can mend almost anything. This is all you get to see for the moment as it needs a minor spruce-up. After Christmas maybe, sticky 70's contact begone.

Three and a half meters of retro Christmas wrapping paper for 30 cents and some Gaiety paper streamers from the 70's/80's. I remember my sister and I making those concertina folded streamers with these to decorate our tree and paper chains, (which my kids are making for our Christmas)

Only one swan this year, another Caseyware swan planter, the largest I now have, think this might be the middle size at 18 x 26cms. I love them, I think the Caseyware swans have the most elegant pose of all the swan makers.

Lastly a lovely serene Vernon Ward print. Still haven't found a home for this one yet.
Done and dusted for the year!
Have a wonderful week people, (last week was a testing one for us!)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Making an Advent calendar.

Scraped in at the last minute. I bought this Kaisercraft Advent calendar back in March at Spotlight as a huge!!markdown and thought that leaves me plenty of time before Christmas right? So here I was in the last week of November trying to get started. Oops.

These are the pictorial instructions, eek! So I went to the Kaisercraft website to have a look. Lots of inspiration, check out the inspiration projects. They recommend that you assemble without the glue first to make sure everything fits.

I used double-sided tape to stick the cardboard boxes together. This was the bit that had me procrastinating for so long. How to make the boxes?

Made a pattern for the patterned paper sides and front and cut out all my paper bits.
Peeled the paper off of the tape and attached the outside paper corner by corner.

Started to paint the assembled and glued (PVA glue) frame in white, then changed my mind and painted it in Americana Buttermilk.

Painted inside each cardboard box Americana Antique White (old stock from the crafty cupboard)  Of course I didn't paint the inside of the boxes first, no that would be too simple. So after I had papered the boxes, I thought "I should colour the inside", which was a tad tedious trying not to get paint on the paper. Next time....

Used some old Michelle Anderson scrap-paper that looked like wallpaper (also lurking in the back of the crafty cupboard) to wrap around the inside of the shadowbox part. Inked the edges of the paper.

A bit unorthodox, but I used my favourite (floor varnish) to coat the insides and out of the boxes and some chipboard numbers. (I was really happy with how it went on the little table.) Water based and dries fast and is wipeable. Most people would probably use some Modgepodge, which I don't have. The numbers were random ones I already had (from the dozen or so scrapped pages I had done in an attempt to get my mothers to take up a new hobby involving pics of their grandkids)

The presents were bits of wood (off cuts from the door jambs) wrapped in paper and tied with embroidery floss and sparkly string.
 I got a hammering about my tree from no.2 son, said it looked more like a pot plant. Honestly, it's a wonder I make anything around here. I should be cowering in the corner.

The Christmas tree was made from cut pieces of garland stuffed into a painted wooden bucket (minus the handle) decorated with beads, berry ties, bells and a paper star. Hot glued into the shadow box. Also attached a bit of trim to the top edge.

The stockings were cut out bits of paper glued together, inked and attached with tiny squares of mounting tape to a pretend paper shelf, also mounted with tape.

The papers I used were double sided (4 sheets for $4.50) plus bits I already had.  Basic Grey, October Afternoon, Michelle Anderson, Crate Paper, My Mind's Eye etc.

Ok, now it's finished, had an idea (snort!) to make a paper chain to fill the empty spots. Mr CH said I must be really bored. Used pre-cut paper from something else I 've been playing with (will show another time) fiddly, but cute.
 Now the hard part, finding treats small enough to fit in the boxes, as I need two per box. My kids are too old for toys (mum says) so it's lollies, novelty erasers, balloons, poppers and choc coins for our tiny boxes. The love notes ended up being too large to fit in the little boxes (I would need to eat three lollies to make them fit, hmmm...) so they will go into the stockings.
Ideas for boys 
 lollies, balloons, slime, marbles, chocolate coins, shaped rubberbands, stickers, fake tattoos, tiny cars, Lego people, caps (for guns or those drop thingys), plastic soldiers/animals/parachute men, streamer poppers.
 Ideas for girls
 beads, puffy stickers, hairclips/bands, fake earring stickers, jewellery, lollie necklaces/bracelets, chocolates, gumballs, novelty erasers, charms, pretty keyrings, tiny toys/accessories, glitter.
Notes for activities - eg. drive to see Christmas lights, make a tree decoration/card/gift, buy a wish tree gift, find something hidden, an endless list really.

My favourite bit, the stockings, I'm glad they turned out looking like stockings.
Would I do another? you bet!
First day of summer can you believe! 

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