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Monthly Archives: December 2012

“Six Geese a’ Laying” – Biscotti Magic

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Now you are probably beginning to get the idea that food is a bit of a feature of my christmas. Every year at work, rather than spend a fortune on little prezzies that no one really wants I decided to bake cookies and cakes….well obviously this has gone down well as I have had orders for my gingerbread men and cranberry biscotti starting in mid september….. there is also a little gingerbread thief who will remain nameless that is sure to pinch them if they are left on any desks unattended!

Cranberry Biscotti

Well today has been baking day and here is the recipe for my Cranberry Biscotti should you wish to partake.  You can add in Pistachio’s currants or white chocolate chips….. what ever takes your fancy…. well it is Christmas.

Ingredients

Half a cup of light olive oil
Three quarters of a cup of caster sugar
Two teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 eggs
One and three quarters of a cup of plain flour
One teaspoon of baking powder
Quarter a teaspoon of salt
Half a cup of cranberries
Half a cup of White chocolate Chips / Pistachio nuts / Currants

Method

Pre heat oven to 150 degrees

Mix together the oil and sugar till well combined. Add in the vanilla extract  and then beat in the eggs.  Combine the flour, salt and baking powder before mixing in the fruit and nuts etc by hand.

Divide the dough into two, the dough will  be very sticky so I wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge for an hour in a sausage shape. Place on a baking paper covered banking tray

Bake for 35 minutes, or until the logs are a light brown.  Remove from the oven and then allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Cut into slices on the diagonal about a centimetre apart, then lie on side on the baking sheet and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until dry and then leave to cool…. yum!  I then wrap in little bags with a bit of ribbon….. and hey presto the perfect little something gift!

Now let me see if I can find those swans a swimming!!!

 
18 Comments

Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Christmas, Cookery, Craft, Recipes

 

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“Five Gold Rings” – The Icing on The Cake

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Now this is not technically 5 gold rings…. more like one iced fruitcake circle really, but what is a couple of gold rings between posts!

Well having made the cake, and still being inspired by my Heineken cake effort, I thought I would take the plunge and have a go at icing the christmas cake so that I can check another thing off the Christmas preparation todo list. Now the biggest decision to make was whether to go plain or novelty….. following the KISS theory, and for the sake of my sanity, I decided to Keep It Simple Sweetheart!  So duvet with holly on top here we come!.

The finished product above.

The starting point….. Followed by the icing… very impressed with my smoothing skills!!

Still not sure how I am going to decorate…so to stall…. I know just add a ribbon….

…OK lets get the ruler and pizza cutter out and draw up the lines….

….use tiny tooth tool to make it look like stitching…. Gosh I am getting very advances now!!!

…Add a sprig of Holly and Voila….. Now where can I find some Geese a’ Layin???

 
11 Comments

Posted by on December 11, 2012 in Christmas, Cookery, Craft, Recipes

 

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“Four Calling Birds” – Know your place!

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Ok…. I could not manage to lay my hands on any Calling Birds (completely sold out!)….. but I have hopefully made the next best thing.  Having married into a Greek family, Christmas is never a small affair, nor a particularly quiet affair ( I am told that they are just expressing themselves… but to me it sounds like they are screaming to each other!!) I guess that, like a hot Christmas that is one thing I will never get used to.  Anyway, to try and avoid an “expressive discussion” around where everyone sits at the Christmas table I generally make little name places.

Last year I had some left over air dry clay from a design and branding project I completed for a client and decided to roll it out, pull out the cookie cutters and carve in the initial of each person.  This was tied around the napkin, and they could take them home and hang on the tree. Perfect….. Oh and I got to use my little stamp set again.

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…and a little bit of repurpose as this years christmas tree decorations….

Now….where are those Five Gold Rings?……

 
9 Comments

Posted by on December 10, 2012 in Christmas, Craft

 

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Creatively Speaking – Tam Turnbull “I Like Birds”

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One of my favourite streets in Sydney is William Street, in the suburb of Paddington.  It has lots of gorgeous boutique shops, a little Italian Cafe and cute pubs which nestle on the corner to cosy up with a few friends for an after work drink.  One shop which has caught my eye on numerous occasions, probably because of my business name, is “I Like Birds”.  For those of you who love vintage, or like that little nostalgic trip back in time then you will “Like Birds” too.

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Tam kindly agreed for me to intrude into her store and answer a few questions for my little Friday spot.

How would you describe your style?

I would describe my shop and style both as an ever changing curation of lovely things.

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What / Where / Who inspires you?

I find inspiration everywhere. I love magazines, antique centres, flea markets, architecture, gardens, the TV show “American Pickers.”

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Where did your love of vintage come from and what makes your style unique to you?

I’ve always been a collector of found objects and second-hand things. Trawling through second-hand markets is my ‘happy place’. I guess my style is unique in that I collect with emotion. I surround myself with things that make me happy, regardless of their practicality. I read a quote recently that said “objects matter beyond their utility”. I couldn’t agree more.

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 Which is your favorite piece or pieces and why?

Its impossible for me to pick a favourite piece. There would be at least 20 things that would come equal first on a favourites list.

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 What has been the most exciting point in your career so far?

The most exciting point so far in my career would be being featured in Inside Out Magazine earlier this year. Inside Out has been been my design & style bible for many, many years and to be supported by them was a thrill.

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If you could commission anyone to make something to sell in your shop who and what would it be?

I would commission Florence Broadhurst to create a signature print for me, for curtains , cushions and wallpaper.

Florence Broadhurst - source Signature Prints

Florence Broadhurst – source Signature Prints

Where would you recommend someone coming to visit your home town visit….where would be the must stop place or places to see

Sydney has so much to see. A ferry tour of the Harbour is a must. And a shop down William Street, Paddington.

Describe your perfect day

My perfect day would be an early visit to my favourite flea market, followed by coffee and the Sunday paper, then a lie down on the sand at Bondi Beach, and cocktails at sunset on my balcony.

Now as much as I love your shop, I love cooking and am always eager to find out a new recipe… what is your favorite dish to cook??

I am a DISASTER in the kitchen. I always joke that paramedics should be on standby when I attempt to cook anything.

 

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“Three French Hens” – If I had known you were coming I would have baked a cake!

I just want to pre-empt that no French Hens were hurt in the creation of this Christmas Cake…. (I am just making the most from my stamping efforts from Monday’s post!!)…

You really know Christmas has arrived in our home when the smell of whisky fermenting fruit is simmering on the stove, followed by the spices of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and citrus baking away slowly in the oven for a few hours…. yummo.  Now I am sure many of you have your own recipe, but if you don’t I can highly recommend this one which is still holding it together on a scrap of paper in my bookshelf and is adapted from the British cooking icon Delia Smith….

Irish Whiskey Christmas Cake

Makes four 4 inch (10 cm) square / round cakes or an 8 inch (20 cm) square / round cake.

You need to start this cake at least a week before you intend to bake it. You will need to measure out all the pre-soak ingredients and place them in a pan

Pre-Soak Ingredients

275ml Irish Whiskey
One and a Half Teaspoons of Angostura Bitters
450g raisins
225g currents
110g stoned prunes - chopped
50g Glace Cherries - chopped
50g Unblanched Almonds - chopped
110g mixed candied peel
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of molasses sugar
grated zest of one orange
grated zest of one lemon
3 tablespoons of water

Stir all of these ingredients in a pan and bring to a simmer, keeping the heat low simmer for 15 minutes without a lid on a low heat. Store the mixture in an air tight container in the fridge for at least a week.

When ready to bake the cake, pre heat the oven to 140 deg c and line the cake pans with a double layer of baking paper.

For The Cake

250g sifted self raising flour
250g demerara sugar
250g unsalted butter softened
5 large eggs at room temp

Measure out the flour sugar and the butter into a large bowl, and  then add the eggs, whisking or beating, until everything is evenly blended, then gradually fold in the fruit mixture until evenly distributed.

Pour the mixture in to your pan/pans and then bake for three hours without opening the door.  Then cover the cake with a double thickness of baking paper and bake for a further 30 minutes – or until it feels springy to the touch…..allow to cool in the tin and then wrap in baking paper and foil and store in an air tight tim till you are read to ice…

Well the cake is baked, and awaits icing….. I will keep you posted on how that goes….Meanwhile I am off to find “four calling birds”…….

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Posted by on December 5, 2012 in Christmas, Cookery, Recipes

 

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Two Turtle Doves – Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

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The brief to my husband was that I would like a small, understated tree.  The plan was that he would be left in charge of choosing such tree and I would then be the creative mind behind it’s decorative direction.  So to save time we both headed to the Christmas warehouse and headed in our own directions.  Ladened with Baubles and lights I decided to see how my husband was performing his one simple task.

As I turned around the corner, in true Aussie Style he had found a “mate” ( no doubt given similar simple instructions by his better half), there they both were with grins like they had just caught the biggest Baramundi holding what could only be described as the biggest tree in the store…… all they needed was an Esky, a barbie and a couple of beers and they would have been set.

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Oh well, only one thing for it, the bigger the tree the more decorations I needed to buy!! (But one bonus….. he could not moan when I did as it was completely his doing! – maybe I need to try that one with my wardrobe!)

Trees decorated, presents wrapped…..

…more presents wrapped….

A little bit of Britain hanging on the tree….

The toy I always waned but never got!!! (in miniature)

…When you turn them round they read “oh..oh…Oh”….

Stockings are filled…..

Yes ….21 days to go and I am almost done….this would be a first! Now off to find Three French Hens…. Hope you are feeling a little more Christmasy….

 
8 Comments

Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Art, Christmas, Craft, Things I love

 

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Partridge in a Pear Tree – Wacky Wrapping

Well there is no escaping it, we are creeping up to Christmas, and with December firmly here I feel that I can legitimately start to get a little Christmassy….. having moved to Australia from the UK 12 years ago there is still something not quite right about a hot Christmas, but I am not going to complain.  Even better this year will be the first year that I will have spent Christmas day with my immediate family from the UK since I arrived so very excited.

While we wait for the man of the moment to shimmy down our non existent chimney, I have a few things to get ready, meaning that my posts are likely to focus around my festive antics for the next few weeks…. so you will get to see my wacky wrapping skills, share my Christmas Cake recipe and……. there may be a few gingerbread men thrown in for good luck….. Hope you enjoy…. if not just humour me and blame it on one too many egg nogs!

Wrapping up a game – Wacky Wrapping Take One

My five year old god daughter thankfully has not succumb to the world of iPad’s and gadgets, a girl after my own heart she loves to make stuff, and glue little bits of stuff to other little bits of stuff…. so armed with my christmas budget I duly went out and purchased a kids craft box of delights (I cannot disclose the exact item at this point incase of spoiler) that will help her continue this penchant!!

Now as kids love presents, I thought lots of little individual parcels would be more exciting than one, and as it happened I ended up with twelve. Inspired by the christmas song about twelve gifts that a true love gave to some lucky person ( maids a milking – not quite sure what I would do with them!), I made little tags for each verse, together with some instructions so that they are opened in accordance with the song…..Oh and it just so happened that my wrapping paper is the print of a partridge in a pear tree…. (it was fate).

Inspired by some of the fine embroidery talent I have featured on my blog….. I did attempt to use the writing function on my sewing machine, but lets put it this way after several needle breakages, and the words looking more like how Santa would “say” them after one too many sherries….. my little stamp kit took over!

On the Twelfth day of Christmas, My godparents gave to me:

Twelve drummers drumming

Eleven pipers piping

Ten lords a-leaping

Nine ladies dancing

Eight maids a-milking

Seven swans a-swimming

Six geese a-laying

Five golden rings

Four calling birds

Three french hens

Two turtle doves

and a partridge in a pear tree.

So now I have found the Partridge in a Pear Tree….. I am off to find a couple of turtle doves….

 
16 Comments

Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Art, Craft

 

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