Friday, 31 October 2008

I really like to grate stuff

I have a grater attachment for my wonderful mixer (it's a lovely Kitchenaid). Well, whenever I set up the grater, I like to grate a lot of stuff. Yesterday was, I think, the greatest grating day ever. I did the regular cheese order (pictured) so that we'd have grated cheese handy for the next week or two. Yes, I know you can buy it grated, but then you don't get to grate it yourself!

Next was four onions (not an unqualified success - it's quick, but still makes you teary), with the slicing attachment. Then, back to grating, and five carrots. Then a heap of little potatoes. Finally, back to slicing, and half a cabbage. From all that, I made a pot of bolognaise sauce (now in three batches in the freezer) and a big "bubble and squeak" sort of thing from potato and cabbage with plenty of pepper and salt - that was for dinner. So we have a few meals ready to go. Yum.

The other preparation I did was a big batch of roasted capsicums, eggplant, and mushrooms. They are the best ever topping for a quick pizza, with some grated cheese of course. I've always said, you can make an amazing pizza out of whatever is in the fridge, if you happen to be in charge of the fridge.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

How to make dinner fancy

Put it on sticks, of course. I came home from a late doctor's appointment, to find that Jeff had taken care of dinner. Basic fish and chips cooked in the oven, but he'd added kid-friendly salad to make sure he hit a few different food groups. They were very proud of the tomato.

We had to race out to Catriona's school concert just minutes later, so it was pretty good going.

Ancient terracotta artefact found!

Wow, look what I found lurking in a pot plant! Actually, if you saw this, you may not completely believe in its antiquity. Looks pretty nice.

It's lurking under the lillium plant. I bought a bulb in a "lucky dip" several years ago at a garden show, and this is the third year it's come up for us. Plants, they are such good value entertainment.

This little guy is next on the production line for terracotta-ing. He arrived in a lucky dip from a fete, and has been in the front garden ever since, but I think he'd look more cool with a paint treatment.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Here we go again!

Well, I just found out what my doctor wants to do about my heart problem. Since the last operation, I've had new symptoms (a fluttery heart beat, not VT). We've already waited a while to see if it goes away, and yesterday he asked his receptionist to schedule another ablation. She asked "What, for next year?", as she leafed through the book.

It turned out they had a cancellation for NEXT WEEK, and that's when I go in. Wow! It will be good to get it over with, but it's pretty sudden. I have to rearrange my life a bit, load some new videos onto the iPod, things like that.

This time I'm packing fruit!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Strawberry Cake

Mmm, scrumptious. Thanks France for the recipe. I made a tray of eight little loaves, ate one, and bagged up seven for the fete cake stall. And made a big loaf, which we ate at Stamp Club. The little loaf was fantastic on baking day - it has a nice crust, like the best muffins. Quite possibly as nice as my official favourite, the raspberry muffin.

It's all gone now. Sigh. The kids are making more gingerbread men. Naturally, these ones are going the be wacky ones (cyclops, monster, alien, you know).

Just showing off, really

I recently bought a parcel of second hand stamps on eBay - some really nice ones too! Here's one, and it's a bit of a treasure. It's the PSX Botanical Hollyhock stamp, in the "K" size - that was always the biggest. We all miss PSX.

I played with it at stamp club (that's South Eastern Rubber Stampers, which I convene). One is done with Prismacolor pencils, and the other with Golden paints, and liberal use of Acrylic Glazing Liquid (which will make the little bottles go a long way!).

I finished them off at home today. I kept to the simple card format I learned ten years ago, letting the image do all the work. Then I added a scrap of dictionary page, so you'll know it's me!

What a great Fete!

We had a great time, thanks for asking! Here's Jeff serving drinks and snacks at the window.
And Catriona's sign for Frogs in the Fridge (we were offering chilled chocolate frogs). I commissioned the artwork specially, and she proudly told me she did it in Science class. ARGH! NO!

We sold around 500 drinks (I know, I was in charge of the fridge) and a few icy poles, and four big bags of popcorn (that's lots of portions). And tons of chocolate. And snakes. Nobody got the gag about the frogs in the fridge, we had to bring them out and sell them from a bowl of ice.

We has absolutely awesome fireworks from Geelong Fireworks, (and I think that's worth a shameless plug, cos they made sure we got great value for our limited budget). Didn't look limited. I'll bet you saw them from your place!

I was tired half way through the fete, and wondered if I'd have to camp at home for an hour, but a chilled bottle of wine with Jeff at the Wine and Beer area was all I needed. Now, next time , lets make sure someone is selling cheesy nibbles.

The cake stall sold out, so all our stuff has new homes now. In total, we made : 40 gingerbread men, 20 bags of Black & Whites, 3 bags of Choc Chip cookies, 4 bags of ANZACs, and 7 strawberry cakes. I guess that's not too bad.

On Monday I'll get to find out how much we made, and I'll take home my unsold journals. Which I'll bet is all of them.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Going Nuts!

Well, its the day of the school fete, and what I am doing today? Experimenting in the kitchen, of course! Paranoia about my health means that all my chores are done super-early - the drinks and icy poles my stall is going to be selling are all ready to go, the signs are there, the float is coming, and we just have a few minutes of setup to do when the school day ends.

So, I browsed around some blogs, and visited France from Perth. She got me onto Strawberry Cake, which I just made. Looks nice. But then I browsed from there to 28 Cooks and drooled over Indian Spiced Nuts. Looks yummy, I have all the ingredients, and I'm hungry, so off we go...

I ground the spices in my new Jamie Oliver shaker gadget. Bought at a garage sale (hey, you knew that) while it was still new - must have been a gift. It's the perfect tool for grinding the spice seeds - that took moments.

And here's the nuts: while they last.

So, all this "browsing" was meant to count as my "relaxing" time of the day. So NOW it's time to relax for real.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Rainbow Life

It all comes together - a new Fire King Peach Lustre bowl from the church fete trash & treasure, and generic smarties for baking day. It's a pretty sight. Makes you feel good.

Now I have four Fire King mugs, and a bowl. That's a tea party waiting to happen! Actually, that will need a picture too.

Come to my school fete. Shameless plug, only useful for people that live near me.

Pink again

Pink is pretty, hey? Here's what I did with my gingerbread scraps.

It's all in the packing

I learned long ago that packing your cake stall stuff well makes it easier to transport and handle, and people buy more. And are ready to pay more. Well, everyone loves a bargain, but it IS fundraising, you know.

So here's how I do it. Pack things in long bags (I buy them by the 100 from party supply shops), fold the top over twice, and staple on a pretty paper label you've just printed up on your printer (8 or so to a page). Looks cool.

Local regulations mean that the baker needs to be identified by a number (and the convener of the stall records the name and address). I always contact the convener and get my number early, and print it on. Saves handling on the day. If I can't get a number early, as here, I make up a number nobody else will be using. I doubt we are going to get 98 other contributions before I arrive.

Gingerbread Boys

Well, it was a tiring day making lots of gingerbread men. When the last one was decorated, I heaved a sigh and turned to leave the kitchen. Then I saw - the box containing the OTHER HALF of the batch, not yet decorated. Argh!

Too many other things to do to even think about another decorating session, I left that job until after the kids came home. Well, I should have thought ahead. The boys saw the decorated men, and said "Awww, we wanted to do them!". I revealed the great treat - 20 more men still to do. Hooray!

I supervised them making another batch of royal icing (pale blue this time), and after a tiny bit of coaching, left them to it.

Here's a boy-decorated man. Really not too bad, is it? They got better as they went on too.

Yes, they washed their hands, the whole bit.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Fete preview

Here's one of the gingerbread men I made for the school fete. I turned out 40 of them, but I had help (that story comes in a later post).

I was nearly thrown when I saw that the recipe called for mixed spice. I didn't have that! Had to look up what spices are in mixed spice. I had them all, so I mixed them by hand. Now that's worth paying extra for, isn't it?

Monday, 20 October 2008

Paperific part 5 - A really tiny house to live in

How good are these? Little house shapes, with real windows (like the "proper" houses little kids draw). Paint 'em, collage around 'em, put little people in the windows ... the other shapes behind it are basic house shapes. "Micro Art" is a series of laser cut chipboard shapes, in really, really cool designs. And all small - they fit on little projects like ATCs. Lisa even brought her laser cutter to the show last time - wow, that was an afternoon's entertainment in itself!

There ya go Lisa, your phone number's visible in one of the photos, so that's all the shameless plug you get this time.

Oh, but you have to hear this - my Micro Arts project just got accepted for publication! That means it's still a few months off, of course. Wanna see a preview? Cause you can't! Stamping and Papercraft have negotiated to have first go on it, and that's only fair.

Paperific part 4 - my li'l owl

At Pipedreamink, I got to make an owl! Here he is. He's chipboard and Opals, and a little glitter too.

But check out his spooky soulmate from the church fete. Once again, I contend that he followed me home. And can I keep him?

Now this is just getting silly...

Wherever I go, squeaky plastic animals want to come home with me. These ones came from Saturday's church fete. They even glow in the dark.

What a great Trash and Treasure. I could hardly carry all my haul. Had a lovely conversation with a lady about how pretty those Peach Lustre Fire King mugs are; and how we both collect them. I still didn't let her have the one I was holding, though.

My blog saves my life!

It's true. Actually saved me from pretty-much-certain-death. I am at home today feeling a bit poorly (funny that, all I've done in the last few days has been running a raffle and supper at a school show, going to a major craft show, and a day out at Scienceworks. And preparing for the fete. And housework. But apart from that, nothing really).

I grabbed some pita bread, and looked for something to grill on top (instant tasty pizza). Ah, roast vegies, a fridge standby. Delicious chunks of zucchini, eggplant and capsicum, roasted in olive oil, with plenty of garlic cloves. I was so clever to make up a big batch of these. But these ones look a bit - um ... relaxed. I wonder how fresh they are? When did I cook them?

Aha! I cooked them on the night I cooked ratatouille! I check the blog. These vegies are ten days plus old. I'm having cheese on toast instead.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Paperific part 3 - Best sight of the show

Here she is, my new friend ... well, she was, briefly. A little lady, dressed in her show best, calmly browsing through (and rearranging) some ribbons.

Another highlight - sitting down with Marion and Barb for a chat before going home. It's been ages since I saw either of them!

Paperific Part 2 - Make it and Take it!

The best bit of Paperific is the Make and Takes. You get to sit down (pleasant in itself) and make some simple project, guided by a patient demonstrator, who has usually prepared all the bits for you. Here's Sue at Pipedreamink, showing off the gorgeous Christmas bauble she was inviting people to make. Very neat indeed, and you can even fold it flat for posting. I made an owl - no photo yet, it's still packed.

If you are clever enough to get on the waiting list, you'll be able to do a make and take at Collections. Yes, they are so popular you have to book - a very casual booking list, the demonstrator gives you an estimate of when to come back, and she tries to see people in order. I waited an hour and a half, but later in the day the queue was three hours! So get on the list early. This one was fun to make. And do you see? It's Bunky! Well, some people know what that means - that's a topic for a whole 'nother post.

Paperific part 1 - A story with punch!

Here's where I start the story of a really big day out at Paperific. Now, what time of day to go? It's a hefty drive from here, but I decided to skip the morning traffic and leave after 9am. Up the Eastern freeway, round the cemetery, pass the hospital, don't get distracted by the race course, and you're there. In the grounds (it's $5 parking, but that gets you nice and close) I managed, despite really clear signs, to drive the wrong way to the car park. And the car behind followed me, because, well, you do that, don't you. So, a few moments of turning around and I was in the car park.

Going in - it's $10 admission (pretty good deal; remember the general craft shows are up over the $15 mark these days). Argh! I had a magnet from last time; that's good for a $2 discount. Should have remembered it.

First stop - it was Catchy Crafts. That's just because of the layout, and the direction I chose. Ah, they have punches. I like them. Whoa, they have NEW punches. I got excited already. Here's what was exciting : Really HUGE punches by EK Success, in classic shapes like circles, squares and scallops. At 2 for $70 (yes, I told you they were huge) it's a pricey item, but wow. What *I* chose was a smaller swirly punch, and a really cool bird one.

Next installement in a few hours - I have to go to a church fete...

Friday, 17 October 2008

My Paperific ATCs

Well, I gave 'em all out! All ten of 'em. Yup, the big one-oh, I managed to make a whole 10 ATCs for Paperific this time round.

But it was nice giving them to people! Sue from Pipedreamink was pleased to have a sample with her stamps, and Lai Sie asked about the paint. All good fun.

The meaning of "Pauline's Big Day Out" is that I've been semi-invalid for a few months (on and off), and a trip all the way to the other side of town was a big deal for me. Felt fine all day, thanks for asking! Next post : all about the day out itself.

Where to get a really cool blank journal

Well, obviously, the Weeden Heights Primary School Twilight Market Bazaar, of course. Known locally as "the Fete". October 24th, in the evening. I've given myself the project of making some blank journals using only junk or recycled materials - that is, little or no cost to anyone, and more or less headed for the scrapheap if I didn't catch them. Because I'm using the glorious Zutter binding machine, I did, of course, have to buy coils from Christina's at the usual price, but that didn't add up to much.

So here's a rundown of materials :
Pages : crumpled brown paper, used as packing materials by Stampin' Up, sourced from my friend and SU seller, Chris
Board for covers : from Reverse Art Truck in Ringwood
Green decorative paper for covers : a car boot sale buy from someone who had way too much of one design - it's pretty Cristina Re paper
Metal Corners : Reverse Art Truck again
Glue : yes, I think even that came from a trash and treasure. But I have been known to buy new glue from time to time
Stamps : for extra points, I think I earned some of the stamps in exchange for craft show work. That great half-face stamp is by Studio Astarte, which is not trading any more, but whose presence is still felt in my stamp collection
Embossing Powder : well, I have certainly bought some new, but I'm pretty sure this lot was from a garage sale.
Shimmery cream coloured paper : is the back of the green paper. Duh. Took me a while to work that one out.

So, these journals will be on sale at the craft stall for a very reasonable price of - whatever Kerryn decides. Do pop by and buy one. Then buy a drink, have something to eat (Gul is making her potato pastries again), and stay for the fireworks.

I'm off to Paperific

Tra la la, I'm off to Paperific, the terrificest papercraft show in Melbourne ever!

It started years ago a "Melbourne Papercrafts", then became "Melbourne Paper Arts", and now a new name. The first one was at a community center near me, then it moved to St Kilda Town Hall (amazing spot, but the show outgrew it), then Telstra Dome, Docklands, and last time at Caulfield Racecourse. This one's at the Showrounds. A heck of a long way for me, but it's worth it.

It's always a big day out at Paperific, so I'm stashing the car full of water, lollies, and cash, to make sure I struggle through.

I even made ATCs to swap - a whole 10 of them! The phot here is a preview - can't show them off before they've been legally handed to their new owners; that's my code.

I'm looking forward to seeing Pipedreamink again, 'cos they have new stamps; bigger versions of the ones I've been really liking. AND they've added Golden paints to their repertoire - not a common item at all in Australia. So I think I need a few of them!

So anyway, see you there if you're going, or else you can look here tomorrow for some photos.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Come to the fete!

My kids' primary school is having a fete - strictly, the "Twilight Market Bazaar" - it'll be fun - good things to eat, trash and treasure to buy, and a cake stall (thats my main interests covered). Oh, and there's FIREWORKS too! A first for our school. We've warned the neighbours.

I'll be baking for the cake stall, heaps and heaps I hope. And I'm making some stuff for the craft stall. And running the cold drinks vending. And donating heaps of trash & treasure. Oh, and I organised two other stalls from outside vendors. And I'm wringing my hands about "not doing enough". Hah!

Hey, what should I bake? Gingerbread men were fun last time, and I always do chocolate chip cookies. I bought a small loaf tin - that is, eight small loaves - to make little healthy bar cakes, which I think people appreciate. I never do big cakes. It's hard to get people to buy them for more that a few dollars - you get more profit from small things. Yes, this is the time of year when my eyes get replaced with dollar signs pretty much all day. Put your baking votes in, and I'll let you know what I end up making.

See ya there!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Free Stuff - it's so cool!

OK, so this is what you do. Go to the post office, and get some postage stamps. Yep, the kind you normally use. You will get to use these ones too. But before going to the counter, looked around for a Philatelic display. By the way, you say it "Phil-a-TELL-ick". No need to be scared of a long word. On the philatelic display, you will see stamps packaged up and well labelled. These are meant for collectors. Some collectors like to get the corner stamp, or the ones from the middle of the sheet. Look for the GUTTER STRIP. And here's why. Sometimes (not always) the gutter has cool pictures on it! Other times it just has test printing dots.

This set is the Mega Fauna stamp issue, released on 1 October. Yes, I've used one already. See those cool skeleton "stamps"? Not valid for postage, they are meant to be admired and thrown away, but I just can't help sticking them into my art journal.

Thanks for the cool free stuff, Australia Post.

Oh, and if you don't live in Australia, here's a link to the official Stamp Shop.

Friday, 10 October 2008

We Have Ratatouille

Planning the menu this week, someone came up with the idea of ratatouille. The kids, of course, said they wouldn't eat it unless it looked like the delicious dish from the Pixar movie of the same name. Well, here it is before the oven :

And ready for the table :

And how did it taste? Amazing! Next time I'm doing twice as much, and a crusty loaf of bread to go with it!

Thanks to here and here for the recipes.

I don't always get it right

I love to post pictures of artwork, just to show off how sophisticated and clever I am. But... I don't always get it right. My coloured pencil skills really let me down here, and I thought the result was too funny to just throw away! Priscilla, Queen of the Chook Pen? Perhaps taking a casual glance at some pictures of actual chickens might steer me right...

Great stamp though! It's from Sunday International.

Jeff gets a phone

We have finally entered the 21st century, and all the over-12s in the family have mobile phones. Much humming and hahing to get the cheapest possible plans, since we don't expect to use them much. Here's Jeff trying to work his out:

I buy more weird junk

This li'l fella came and joined the fold last weekend (it was Scout Hall Garage Sale time again). Why do I do it? What's the value of old plastic toys? Too nice to let them go back into storage, really. This guy joins my existing team :

The baby (my first weird old plastic toy);

The swan (he was my mascot during the Michael De Meng workshop - nothing keeps toys on their toes better than showing them a Dremel tool...

They are all nervous because they see what was done to this guy - he's not an interesting vintage toy, he's modern and not of any special pedigree.

Monday, 6 October 2008

That Pam Ayres poem...

Jeff came home today saying that he was struggling to remember something. Normally, between the two of us, we have a pretty encyclopaedic knowledge of advertising and cartoons from the 1970s. But I think the internet is eroding our brain cells ... some of it's missing!

Today's challenge, then, is to remember an ad for fruit juice, which was presented by the gorgeous Pam Ayres. Ms Ayres (who is alive and well and living in the Cotswolds, writing and performing sweet poetry) was a regular visitor to Australia. No better place to find homesick Brits who'd go all mushy over her accent. One ad she presented was a poem that went something like:

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
(something about a) bottle,
and the fruit juice it contains.

Who can help?

Actually I was wondering if it was an anti-littering campaign, but Jeff is sure it was juice.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Looking for a wholesome supper dish...

... that involves sheep's tongues? Here ya go. From McAlpin's Test Kitchen Recipes, published when phone numbers had letters in them.

You'll need gherkins and gelatine too.