Sunday, 30 December 2012

Gingerbread under construction

I think you can see where this was going - it just never got there. Never mine, it was a tray full of tasty biscuit with icing and lollies. It got shared with a lot of people and didn't get finished.

The gingerbread Coliseum

And here it is in all its glory. I worked hard to get the inner pieces to be all the same size. They can't have varied by more than, let's say, 5cm. Which is not that precise, now I come to think of it.

This year's gingerbread house

We made our annual gingerbread house! This year, the cousins are scattered more than usual, so we took the makings of the house to Carol's lovely house in Mandurah, where Russell and the kids are hanging out.

And here's the house. Can you tell what it is? Can you? Yes, you're quite right, it's an interpretation of the Coliseum of Rome. With smarties. And rather a lot of snakes.

Left to right, Jonathan, Jessamy, Thomas, James, Catriona, Xanthe.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Caramel macarons - Me vs Adriano Zumbo

I do love a salted caramel macaron. Ever since I had that Pierre Herme one in Paris. Alright, mentioning that is showing off.

This year I tried the Salted Caramel macaron kit by Adriano Zumbo, the Australia enfant terrible of the macaron world.

This kit is GOOD! I didn't time myself, but it was a not-excessive amount of time in the kitchen, and a result I would willingly pay for at a cafe. The look of them was pretty consistent (for me). Well, see those first two pictures.

But of course, I do like to bake, AND Jeff gave me Zumbo's own macaron cookbook for Christmas, so I decided to make the same recipe the proper way. They'll probably be even better, right?

Well, check the last two pictures. The caramel tastes good, but darned if I can get it to the exact consistency to stay put. The plate is basically one big lump now. Shells are a bit rough. Shape isn't rounded. Didn't have any brown colouring (I am in Nana's kitchen). There was that incident with the thermometer, that caused my first batch of Italian meringue to be hideously lumpy. But they should be excellent with coffee.

Alice graffiti in Perth

We saw this on a bridge support. Person who stuck it up, thanks, we like it!

Seen at the Perth shops

In Typo at Garden City, we spied this totally random arrangement of boxes. Doctor Who fans will understand.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

A 3-d printed robot from Scitech

This is a printed robot we scored at Scitech, the science centre for kids here. We actually got three! It doesn't get any cooler than this!

Mitchell's freak shot, like a BOSS!

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it, but this was the darts shot Mitchell managed. A twenty, then a second dart lodged right into the first dart! We called it double twenty for scoring purposes.

This year's gingerbread men

Yesterday Thomas, Jonathan and I made gingerbread. The cutters were a cute set with a torso, and interchangeable arms and legs. Naturally, one of our guys was carefully made with a detached arm. Notice how I manage to get a wide range of emotions into the faces - both smiley and frowny? Oh, yes, and most of them had swords and shields too.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Xanthe at Christmas

They say Xanthe doesn't smile in photos. Not true. This year she's taller than Catriona, her senior by three years. And she's clever as always. Like the rest of them.

And I think that's one photo of each cousin, so there you go, northern hemisphere types! Merry Christmas!

James at Christmas

Here's James, the youngest of the Laing kids team. He can catch fish these days, and later on Christmas day he really did get to play chess.

Russell at Christmas

Not technically one of the kids ... Here's Jeff's brother Russell, playing his best ukulele. Russell's work these days is looking for precious stones. Yup, he's a real life prospector! He finds some doozies too.

Catriona at Christmas

Always amenable, Catriona shows that the pain of posing for a photo is usually short lived. She also does chores cheerfully. I wouldn't push it though.

Mitchell at Christmas

Here's Mitchell, exhibiting advanced signs of not wanting to have his photo taken. Yes, another Laing has entered his teens. He also sleeps til 1pm when he can.

Thomas at Christmas

Here's Thomas, possibly after eating Nana's delicious pancakes, or maybe he's just happy.

Jonathan at Christmas

The northern hemisphere relatives asked for it, so the next few posts will be pictures of our kids and the cousins. Remember, folks, you wanted it.

Here's Jonathan anticipating some of Nana's tasty cooking.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas cards with games attached, at last!

This year, I made Thomas and Jonathan cards with games, 'cos that's what kids like these days.

Thomas scored a game of Put the Hat on the Bunny.

This game features four bunnies, all needing put the hat ... on the bunny.

Jonathan got a game of Find the Bunny. This challenge involves finding, from a scrambled start position, the bunny. There are three non bunnies to make it more challenging. Remember to scramble it for the next player.

Thoughtful Connor ponders...

Ponders what? What do fifteen year old boys ponder? Let's not go there.

Xanthe and James open presents

Xanthe is a high schooler now. James wanted to play chess before opening presents.

Who put all these Laings in my pool?

Left to right, Connor, Jessamy, James, Mitchell, Xanthe, Catriona, Thomas ... Jonathan must be underwater.

Mitchell, Jonathan and Thomas say Merry Christmas

In the Perth pool in about 39 degrees. Well, not yet, it's not even noon. We're full of pancakes, and looking forward to a cold lunch much later.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Pretty flowers for Christmas

Many, many months ago I bought a little trinket from a trash and treasure market. It's a little flower pot with wires coming out of it. I don't know any more about it, except that it's marked "Japan" on the base. I thought at the time, that's an art project! I will art it! I will make it amazing!

And then it sat on the shelf for months.

So this week, I got out some pretty flower punches, some cardstock and glue, and make it Quite Pretty.

See, it's quite OK for me to keep buying weird stuff and not using it for ages.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Mmm, that's cheesy!

We had a nice dinner tonight - home made cheesy bread, some raw vegies and fruits, and to top it all up, I heated up a tin of beans. I know, yum, right?

I noticed the tin claimed to be beans in "cheesy cheese" sauce. Delicious, obviously, but I was a bit worried. Have I picked the wrong beans? This home made bread is VERY cheesy, and I wouldn't want the children's palates to get overcheesed. The "99% fat free" description reassured me that cheese levels may not be dangerously high. I read the label, did a little maths, and enlisted my kitchen assistants to do some measuring.

This is how much cheese is in a tin of "Cheesy Cheese" flavoured beans.

We may well survive the fromagian onslaught.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Another tomato update

Do you remember this year's tomato plant? It popped up just weeks after the tomatoes for last year finished, an eager recruit from one of last year's seeds.

Sadly for that little plant, it decided to start growing BEFORE winter, so it was a long, cold wait for the sun. During that time it got broken in half by a hail storm, and then killed again by a pelican falling on it (really).

However, it weathered all that, made it to spring, and now to summer. And just look at it!

And there are tomatoes too! The plant's positively dripping with them!

I planted some new plants this year too, but this is the most impressive so far.

Happy birthday to me!

And how was your birthday, Mrs Laing?

Why it was lovely! How kind of you to ask.

Catriona found me a special gift. Back when we were in the US, we discovered that we quite like Reeses peanut butter cups (I know, Aussie chocolate is better and all that, but these were a nice indulgence). Well, it turned out a local shop had some, and she enclosed some in a handmade card!

Jeff tracked down a DVD set for me - we'd started watching this strange and funny Mitchell and Webb series recently, but it turns out we were seeing series seven!

The boys gave me a coupon for a breakfast - I haven't used it yet! I figure, if I buy delicious strawberries and other good fruits, then they make waffles, I will get fruit and waffles!

I made mandarin macarons, and took most of them to work. They were pretty nice...

On a driving practice session, Jeff had navigated Catriona to Wellington Rd, Rowville, where they bought a bar of this Cinnamon and Cashew chocolate. You may know Heritage more from colourful easter eggs, but let me tell you, their posh range is VERY nice.

Anne-Marie gave me a little parcel of treats, and I started my work day with a fancy tea from the parcel.

Gail made me some hazelnut and chocolate spread, which is amazingly good, very dark and not too sweet.

Chris gave me pretty chocolates, which are all gone, and made three of us very happy.

Jeff's Mum sent me gorgeous perfume.

My mum was stranded in Port Macquarie at the time (she was going to be here). She's unstranded now, but we won't see her until next year, probably. She still managed to send a PICTURE of a birthday card!

We went to see the new James Bond movie - fantastic, I loved it!

And John and Emma sent a coupon for a baking class at Brasserie Bread in South Melbourne. Jeff got one too - we'll probably go in the new year. Looks fabulous!

Jeff's promised to take me out to morning tea at Monseiur Truffe, the local-to-work posh chocolate place (I do like chocolate). We were going to do it on my birthday, but it was raining. Then the next day, we had end to end meetings. Then the next day it was unseasonably hot! So this week for sure.

I also had control of the remote control for most times the TV was on, and selected "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", followed, logically, by "Pulp Fiction" as my week's movie viewing.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

I just can't believe...

... how much this fitness company's logo doesn't look like a swastika.

Jeff and I drove past it, and it was the first thing we both thought of.

Here's a lizard...

... that we found in the garden. No special news about the lizard, I've no idea what his motivation was, but it IS nice that I got a pretty photo.