Friday, 30 December 2011

Collage project part 4

Here's another collage - these Derwent tinted charcoal pencils are nice. I found out that my set is missing white, and has two dark blues instead! Horrors! It was a sealed set, too. Have to grumble to someone. But hey, we'll cope. The little square stamp is a Cathy Daulman one from My Stamps. Abstract stamps are A Good Thing.

Collage project part 3

And here's the ice cream scoop again, paired with pen, water colour paint, gesso, and small stamps I've brought.

Christmas collage project part 2

Jeff was sweet enough to give me a cute stamp set he'd seen me admiring - an ice cream cone and scoops, from Kikki K. Here's my take on it (made with the basic materials I'd brought along, and found along the way).

All of the text comes from the Doctor Nurse trashy romance novel I bought here last year.

A Christmas treat

Being the only vegetarian at Christmas lunch does come with some responsibility. It's not enough to say "all those vegies look great, that's enough for me" even if it's true! And it is. Nana's vegies are world class. You have to make something, and it has to look awesome, so everyone knows you are having a treat.

So this year I had a go at making a spinach and ricotta filo spiral, and it looked JUST like the one in the recipe. Totally easy to make. But don't tell anyone.

Ooh, that reminds me, a little filo pastry left, we can make an apple turnover too.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

All the Laing kids

It's one of those things that's supposed to be easy to achieve - all the kids are playing here at Nana's house, so why not get a nice photo of all of them? Problem is, if you ASK them all to line up and pose, you have no chance of genuine smiles all round. Unless you are an actual good photographer, anyway.

So when I was cooking and noticed all eight kids playing various games in one room, I pounced. Left to right, we have : Xanthe, Catriona, Jonathan (on floor), Mitchell (on chair), Jessamy, James, Thomas and Connor.

My work here is done.

Monday, 26 December 2011

And the it goes

For reference, everyone promised to take a break from snacking after this. I know I will.

Next year' project? Suggestions have been a Mexican pyramid, or the leaning tower of Pisa.

Gang's all here 2

And here's the group with Jonathan, but now I've managed to miss Xanthe. Sigh.

The gang's all here!

And it only took a pyramids load of lollies to do it. Here are all the Aussie Laing kids in one place. Umm, kind of. I'll be posting two photos today, and between them they include all the kids.

Here from left to right we have : Jonathan (hiding), Thomas (in crown), Mitchell (green top), Connor (tall), James (white shirt), Jessamy (pink shirt), Catriona (green shirt), and Xanthe (black bathers).

Do admire the pyramid - it didn't last long after this!

Gingerbread pyramid - the other side

Here it is from the other side - there's a treasure chest ( I made that, but Catriona assembled it for me). In the bottom right corner we can see a cactus. You know, those Egyptian cactuses.

Gingerbread camels

Here's the two camels Catriona and Thomas cut out by hand. One has three wise jelly babies riding it, and the other has a green passenger.

The gingerbread pyramid - finished!

Here's a view of the gingerbread pyramid. There's some stuff going on on the other side too.

Gingerbread pyramid - more Lollies!

Catriona, Xanthe and Jessamy stick Smarties, freckles, jelly babies and jelly snakes on the four sides of the pyramid.

Gingerbread pyramid - decorating the outside

Here's Jonathan, James, Catriona and Jessamy placing decorations on the outside of the gingerbread pyramid. We're using royal icing of course - it sets hard like glue - delicious glue.

Gingerbread pyramid under construction

We have all the nieces and nephews here again, so it's time to finish the gingerbread pyramid.

Here it is under construction. You will notice the inside is full of treasure, and also SNAKES! They are getting sealed inside.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Gingerbread pyramid well on the way...

Here's some of the pyramid sides, all baked. Looking good so far.

The 2011 gingerbread house project

It's Christmas in Perth, and once again we're making a gingerbread house! It's a favorite kid project. We're spinning it out to maximize the fun and involvement.

Yesterday Catriona, Xanthe and I shopped for the decorations - Dollar Sweets make sprinkles in gold and silver this year! We discussed the shape of the house. Jonathan wanted it to be full of lolly snakes. Like, FULL. We hit on the idea of a pyramid!

Also yesterday, I made the dough and popped it in the fridge for chilling. We were going to bake too, but Jeff and I decided to go to the movies. Like you do.

Today Catriona, Jonathan, Thomas and I rolled, cut and baked.

Friday, 23 December 2011

The holiday collage project begins

Last year in Perth I had fun making ATCs (that's artist's trading cards). This year I'm trying again. All I've brought from home is neatly cut cards, glue, scissors, pencils, a little tub of gesso, and what's left of the trashy romance novel I bought at an op shop last year. And some small stamps. And black ink.

All the other material I'm using is scrounged here - newspaper magazines and the like.

This is the first finished card (not counting the one I don't want to show). No, her grumpy attitude is not mine, it's just a good phrase I found in the book.

This years pencils are Derwent tinted charcoal pencils, so we're going to have a rather earthy palette. And messy fingers.

Thomas and Jonathan yinning and yanging

Here's Thomas (13, in white) and Jonathan (also 13, in black). There's no symbolism to the white and black - these guys are both pretty wicked.

Also, Cheese and Vegemite rolls for lunch today!

Three girls jump!

Here's Xanthe, Jessamy and Catriona doing a synchronized leap.

Shhh Jessamy!

Here's Jessamy (10) taking a brief break from talking ( well, she does have excellent talking skills, and you have to go with what you're good at).

James and Mitchell cool off

Here's James (7) and Mitchell (12) with that bane of summer holidays - a computer game! It's a constant struggle to get them doing Other Stuff, but there are some games they play together, which is cool.

Xanthe leaping

Here's Xanthe (12) leaping into the pool. This lady is fabulously well read - she liked Pride and Prejudice more than Sense and Sensibility. But likes Twilight too.

Connor by the pool

This is Connor (14) about to jump in. Barbecue for dinner tonight!

Thomas in the pool

The next few posts will be photos of kids in Perth, specially with Aunty Sandii in mind. It's an Aussie Christmas, hot and humid. Here's Thomas (13) cooling off in the pool.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

What do Aussies like to eat?

Well, chips, and also Vegemite. So let's combine them - we can't lose!

And yet this flavour of chips seems to be going down in history as the least popular ever. The sign says discounted from 50c to 20c, but before that they were $1, and before that $1.50.

Poor Smiths. Next time stick with salted.

Nice coffee in Fremantle

Pretty cup and saucer too!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Tablet for Christmas!

Time to give Tablet - and I don't mean tablet computers, either! This is proper Scottish fudge (way better than 'normal' fudge, this will spoil you for life).

Today I tried making it in the usual slice tray, and the last little bits into mini muffin pans. They have set perfectly!

I monitored the temperature as I stirred, and turned the heat off when the mixture got to about 116 degrees Celcius (240 degrees Farenheit). That's a bit hotter than recipes normally state, but I think that's the way my thermometer skews.

Oh, yes, and THIS is my thermometer. It clicks into a silicone spatula, and of course comes apart for washing. I bought it in Paris. I hope you are envious!

Fancy the recipe? Here it is, exactly as my Mum wrote it out for me.
Recipe for Scottish Tablet (Fudge)

1 kg sugar
1 cup milk
250g butter
tin condensed milk
vanilla essence


Place sugar and milk in a large saucepan, cook over a gentle heat until all the sugar is melted. Stir as you go but not too vigorously as the sugar should not coat the side of the pan.

Add the butter and the condensed milk, return to boil and boil vigorously with stirring until the fudge is ready. This takes about 30 minutes, and you must stir all the time. Test a little trickled into a cup of iced water – it should make a soft ball.

Remove from stove, add vanilla essence and beat like crazy till it is lovely and fudgey looking (half a minute or so will be enough). Pour quickly into a greased tray and mark into squares. Leave to set.

Variations : you can add a couple of teaspoons of cocoa powder if you want chocolate fudge, also you can add crushed walnuts.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Court Jester Catriona

Just to show how annoyingly talented my daughter is, here she is in her hand made Court Jester costume. SHE hand made it all, bought the fabric with her pocket money, everything.

Bleah. I was supposed to be the talented one.

Oh well, nice work, I suppose, Catriona.

Christmas Macaron Magic!

Purple Macarons to say Merry Christmas!

And it would be a Christmas miracle if I managed to bake a whole batch I was happy with, so here's a cautionary illustration: 

This shows 10 minute, 11 minute and 12 minute cooking times. When I say they are delicate, I'm not kidding!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Oh no, smashed bike helmet!

Poor Jonathan!

Of course, it got broken when he dropped it on the floor in a shopping centre. We'll get a new one before we ride home!

Christmas specials!

I love those Christmas prices!

It's green, you know...

What do you want to see first, the work Christmas party, or a cool bug?

Yeah, me too!

This is a cool cicada Jonathan found on the Green Waste bin this morning. Made my day, just a little bit.