31 July 2008

Scary Baking Memories


While having a bit of a baking afternoon with Miss 4 the other day, I smiled as I watched her happily licking the cake batter off the rubber scraper and bowl... remembering doing that myself as a child. Definitely one of the best parts of baking with my mum as a kid!

Thinking about that reminded me of another baking memory as a child. The day me and my lovely long blonde hair met the electric beater.

There have been so many times in my life when an adult has warned me about something.. and then for some reason I would test it out, only to find that they were right! Like the time my poppa told me to watch out for my fingers as he shut the car boot, so what did I do? That's right, I put my fingers in the car boot and wham! I had a very sore, black finger for quite a while afterwards. I also learnt to listen to my poppa.

Well, my mum and I were having a lovely baking time together. I remember standing on my little stool next to the kitchen bench 'helping mummy' mix the ingredients. Then my mum said these wise words, "don't lean too far over the bowl or your hair might get caught in the mixer".

Well, once again you guessed it! There was a flurry of hair and batter and wild screams.

My mum's hairdressing skills came in very handy that day... and I learnt a very good lesson - listen to your elders. No wonder the Bible talks about having a long life when you obey your parents.

Kristy's tip of the week... tie your hair back before baking.

30 July 2008

Best Chocolate Cake Ever

 
I am about to give away a secret recipe... the best chocolate cake ever. Once you have tried this, I doubt you will ever use another chocolate cake recipe again! I use this cake for all the kids birthday cakes (unless another type is requested) and love it!

The amazing thing about this recipe is that it is so easy to make, so yummy, and very versatile. It makes quite a large cake, which can be cut in half when cooked and filled with jam, cream or frosting, then covered with frosting on top. When I am in a hurry I usually make it and sprinkle chocolate chips on the top before I cook it, and serve without icing, or a dusting of icing sugar.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.


Dana's Chocolate Cake
(I don't have a clue who Dana is, but she is a very good cook!)

Preheat oven to 180 degC

Ingredients
1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups trim milk
100g melted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Grease a 20cm cake tin and line the base. Put all the ingredients into a processor (I use a normal mixer and it works fine) and mix. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for at least 50 minutes. The cake will rise a lot and when cooked, should spring back when gently pressed or when a skewer poked into the centre of the cake will come out clean.

Frosting

250g icing sugar
100g butter
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
milk to mix

Place butter and dry ingredients in bowl (or processor) and mix to combine, then add a dash of milk and mix again. Continue until you achieve a soft spreadable icing, then add vanilla.

Slice the cake in half horizontally and spread some frosting on one half (you can also spread with jam or berry puree).

Replace the top half and coat the whole with the frosting. Refrigerate to firm up the frosting.

Enjoy!

For more delicious recipes visit here.

29 July 2008

Softies

A few of the latest softies that have been created over the last week (some are still awaiting adoption in the softie shop).

Below are (listed in order of photos)... Bluebell, Muffy, Muriel, William Wallace and Norman (poor Norman).


28 July 2008

Baby Chickens

Three of our eggs have hatched into beautiful little chickens, and you should have seen the kids eyes when they first saw them and held them. The wonder of new life is amazing, and the pure fact that such a cute little animal could have grown and developed in an egg shell still makes me amazed and once again, I think God is so clever! We are still hoping that the rest of the eggs will hatch over the next day.

I just feels like the other day we were collecting the eggs from the 'egg lady' to put under our broody hen (click here to read that post).

The following photo's don't really need words...


27 July 2008

Ten Pin Bowling with the Girls

I have had an awesome afternoon going out for coffee and Ten Pin Bowling with the most awesome group of ladies!

Each of these people (a couple of them couldn't make it) are involved in working with youth at our church, being mentors, rolemodels in various ways. You guys rock!

So as a tribute to you all, thank you for all that you do... you all stand as such great rolemodels and mentors for the many young people out there that just need someone to listen to them, someone to look up to, and someone to spend time with... someone who makes the time to care.

I do have to mention that out of my Ten Pin Bowling team... I won, and Arna-Lise won in her team, and overall!

Best dressed has to go to Nina for her very unique look (see pink socks in pic below) - although I know it wasn't intended... you looked rather groovy, in a nana sort of way.



I think Esther did really well too, for being due in the next couple of months (Kate was her stunt double).

The coffee was also really nice I must mention!

Love you guys!!!


The hatching has begun!


When we peeped at the eggs today, we noticed that there is a tiny little hole in one (see the egg at the bottom right) and saw some movement! The hatching has begun - yay.

We have never had baby chickens before, and think our broody hen has done very well! She was off the eggs for a bit too long the other week, so we have been holding our breath, hoping that the eggs didn't get too cold and stop growing.

Stay posted for pictures of cute little baby chickens!

25 July 2008

Random things...

A few random things that caught my eye this week...

These cool fabrics I came across on special at my local Spotlight (still thinking up things to make with them). I especially like the two on the right.


This crazy toaster cover called the 'Heartfelt Toaster Cozy' from a book called 'Material World' by Cat Wei. I am not sure why a toaster needs a cozy, but I reckon it could be a bit dangerous if you kept it on while making the toast.


This quite cool animal rug sewn from fabric... wierd but pretty awesome idea at the same time (also from 'Material World" book)!


23 July 2008

God is very clever...


So often I find myself marveling at how amazingly clever God is.

Mandrake took this awesome photo of a spiders web outside our house the other day (you need to give the house a wash darling - said with the tone of Edna off The Incredibles)... and I was struck by it's beauty and also the miracle of the spider web itself.

I saw a documentary last week about the study and efforts scientists are putting into trying to produce synthetic spider web. Spider web has been estimated to be about 5 times stronger than steel, twice as elastic as nylon, waterproof and stretchable. The fact that a tiny animal can make a substance that we humans with all our technology are unable to reproduce, a substance that is tough, stronger and more flexible than anything else we can make, is surely a humble reminder of the fact that God is very clever... a lot more clever than us... and yet people still think that all this happened by chance... how can we be so blind?

Don't forget to stop and marvel at creation around you. Encourage your children to appreciate creation and marvel with them at how clever God is.

Answers in Genesis have a really good website for kids to explore (click here) with interactive information and games.




22 July 2008

Date and Oat Bran Muffins


After being inspired by Nina's 'White Chocolate and Date Muffins' (see post here) I decided that I just had to try them out... they sounded too good to be true.

I turned to my most favourite muffin book aptly named "The Muffin Book, the only muffin book you will ever need" and found "Date and Oat Bran Muffins" which I just happened to have all the ingredients in the cupboard for! I then followed the recipe and also added heaps of white chocolate chips... and Nina was right... absolutely divine!

Here's the recipe...

Date & Oatbran Muffins (with white chocolate chips)

2oz (60g) butter, chopped
1/4 cup light molasses (golden syrup)
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup oat bran
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pitted dried or fresh dates
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup soy milk

Preheat oven to 200 degC. Grease twelve standard muffin cups or line them with paper cases.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and light molasses. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the self-rising flour and baking soda. Stir through the oat bran, brown sugar, and dates (add your white choc chips here). Make a well in the centre.

Add the beaten eggs and soy milk to the cooled butter and golden syrup mixture. Add all at once to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened (the batter should be lumpy).

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them two-thirds full.

Bake until golden brown and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes. Serve warm, or transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!!!

For more delicious recipes visit here.

20 July 2008

Paisley Jade's Softie Shop

Yay - Paisley Jade's Softie Shop is online!

After heaps of encouragement from friends and family, I have created (with alot of help from Mandrake) a place to list my softies that are for sale.

This is really only a hobby thing... as with 4 kids I don't think I would ever have the time to go into 'proper' business... but it's a fun thing to do when I get a chance! Stay tuned for more softies coming soon!

Visit by clicking here.


Phone Sock

Mandrake bought me a really nice new mobile phone last year for my birthday... it's a pink Vodafone LG KP202. I feel really posh having a nice phone, and the added bonus is that now Mandrake isn't so keen to borrow it, due to it's lovely light pink colour.

The only negative thing about this phone is that it has a really quiet ring volume. I would get home from having done the groceries to find that there was a major disaster (like the baby woke up early) and I had been phoned numerous times on my phone and not answered (sometimes it was a little bit more serious). No matter what ring tone I try, I can hardly hear the phone ring, especially when it is in it's padded cover.

So after talking about this recently with Mandrake, he suggested a phone sock... and I decided to make one myself. I bribed Miss 4 for her pink pair of mittens and did a few alterations, sewed on a little green guy (thanks Anya!) and viola... my own phone sock.

Now I can actually hear my phone when it rings!


19 July 2008

Beanie Bunny Softies

Last week a friend sent a little surprise in the mail (thanks Stacey!)... some awesome brown and blue paisley-type fabric. I also came across some really cool flowery fabric last week as well - so here are a couple of little beanie bunny's from the two fabrics. Not sure if I will continue with this shape of bunny... tell me what you think??




18 July 2008

A visit to the farm park


Today the Drake family ventured out to the Serendipity Farm Park in Whangarei (NZ). We had a really good time, feeding and patting (or is it petting?) heaps of different animals... goats, llama's, pigs, possums, donkeys, geese, ducks, chickens and the list could go on and on.

We only had a couple of moments with tears... one when Miss 1's fingers were too tasty for the Shetland pony to resist a bite, and another when one of the cheeky goats decided to eat Miss 4's whole bag of animal food in one gulp, including the paper bag! The boys thought this was great and promptly fed it another brown paper bag before Mandrake and I got involved.

I loved the "hands-on" aspect of the Farm park and all the different animals there. One cool thing about the park is that you can go to the cafe part and purchase an iceblock for each of the kids, a coffee or whatever for the adults and sit and watch the animals from the deck, or at the picnic tables amongst the chickens and geese, without paying full visitors price.

Here are a few snapshots from our visit...



Paisley mugs... how could I resist?


Paisley mugs... I couldn't resist buying two today when I spotted them while browsing the mug isle in the Warehouse. I am sure they make the coffee taste better.

17 July 2008

Water Play

The natural progression of water play... thankfully not in the toilet this week!



16 July 2008

I own the best shoes ever!


I am now the proud owner of the best shoes ever... according to Symon that is!

My 'gift-giving-can't-miss-a-bargain-husband' came home today with a little surprise for me. Now to understand my excitement before I go on, you must realise two things...

1. I don't own that many shoes. I am probably a bit of a cross between a tomboy (hardly wear skirts or dresses and would live in jeans, hoodies and jandals all my life if I could) and a martyr mum (would rather buy things the kids need before buying myself stuff).

2. I have really big feet - I mean, depressingly big feet... size 11's! Most women's shoes only go up to 9 or 10... so to find a size 11, you have to be happy with whatever the shoe looks like and just grab it and be thankful. Usually I end up buying men's shoes (which sadly don't come in high heels - well, I hope they don't).

I think you get the picture.

So back to the story, my darling husband came home with a really nice pair of navy blue Chuck Taylors, in my size, down from $55 to $19! Yay! I am wearing them right now (I am not wearing my new apron at the moment though) and absolutely love them.

Symon just did a post the other day on Chuck Taylors. View it here. I so love the little clip at the end.

The funny thing is that today we also had to purchase some special shoes that the podiatrist recommended for Master 6's flat feet... they cost $80. What a bummer he couldn't have just had some Chucks too.

Pink Softie for a Princess


Another pink bunny softie finished today just for Miss 4. She had specifically requested this one in this fabric, and was very pleased with it. It has been named... wait for it... "Pinky".

Pinky is snuggled up in bed right now with Miss 4, and as I kissed her goodnight, I also gave Pinky a goodnight kiss, only to hear my realist daughter whisper, "Muuuuuuuummmmmy, it's not real!". What do you say to that... I felt a bit silly?

15 July 2008

Gingerbread People

I was recently inspired to make some gingerbread men and we had heaps of fun yesterday decorating them and eating them. I decided to get the kids to decorate theirs before they were cooked, as I think at the moment I can only handle a certain amount of sugar-hype around the house... the less the better. A great idea for the holidays!

It's funny how the head always seems to be the first part to be eaten... poor little guy. Symon also had fun making his own... guess which one it is...

I used the recipe in my "Granny's Biscuits, New Zealand Favourites" cook book. Nice and spicy!



Gingerbread People
1 2/3 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup soft brown sugar (use dark sugar if available)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
125g butter
3 tablespoons milk
pinch of salt
currants or chocolate to decorate

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Rub butter into flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix into dought with milk. Roll dough out on a floured board to 6 mm thick. Cut out people shapes and place on a baking tray. Bake at 200 degC for 15 mins. When the biscuits are cold decorate with icing.


For more delicious recipes visit here.

14 July 2008

The simple things...


Sometimes (particularly today) it is so easy to get busy, stressed and quite overwhelmed with life in general, so busy in fact that we forget to take the time out to enjoy the simple things... to be thankful and just to smile. The best way to do this is to watch and be around small children... so I decided to help little Miss 1 put her gumboots on, and have a walk together outside in the sun.

Everything fascinated her, the trees, the chickens wandering around, the chicken poo on the ground, the tiny daisy flower that she could pick from the grass, the bright yellow lemons on the lemon tree, Daddy riding on the ride-on-lawnmower, her little swing and the warm eggs that Daisy (one of our chickens) is sitting on (2 more weeks to go until the chickens hatch!). It was good to look at life through the eyes of a child again, to enjoy God's creation and the simple things that can bring us so much joy.




Once we got back indoors, Miss 1 somehow managed to get into Mandrakes paint, and pat it all over her face (I think she thought it was face cream)... oh well... it was nice while it lasted!

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