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.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Put on your party shoes, paint the town ... green?

Work Christmas party tomorrow night! Jeff and I work together, so we are both double-invited! Always a pleasure to go to these events - the boss enjoys good food, and MAKES good wine (Gentle Annie boutique winery, look it up), so we always enjoy the night.

This year is special.

First, it's on a boat.

Second, we have lots of female employees this year. It's been a good year for recruitment. Naturally, all the tech women had a meeting today to discuss the important issue of - what to wear! We agreed to go for dresses, as elegant as possible.

I nipped out to my fave clothing shop at lunch time, not expecting success, but found a terrific silky green dress. My favourite green too.

But I don't have any suitable shoes. Really not a big shoe person. I do have these sort of silver flats that are very comfy. But they don't match at all.

So I whipped out my tiny bottle of Golden Paint's "Green Gold" and gave these shoes a quick green makeover. I'm delighted with the results!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Happy Birthday John!

It's John's birthday today, and I made HIM a card too. Had to make it last week to get it in the mail.

I had fun colouring this with Copic markers.

Happy Birthday John!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Happy Birthday Emma!

Emma's birthday - and that's a nice opportunity to make a card. What would she like, a pretty one? A funny one? One with a pun?

Actually she's so nice she would say nice things about anything sent to her, so I decided to indulge and make a SUPER GRUNGY one!

I've used my Belgian stamps, some new Aussie stamps by Kaiser (fabulous backgrounds), and some Stampin' Up ones too (the bird, eggs, bug and cage). And that grid-patterned tape is Japanese Washi tape, which I brought back from Paris! I'm sure you can get it here now, but THIS is from Paris.

Best of luck with the freelance writing, Emma!

Snail Pellets - STAT!

Got home late on Saturday and tiptoed into the kitchen for a glass of water. THIS MONSTER was at eye level. An icky, urky, ooey, gooey, SNAIL (one of many, I might add) all over the glass door that leads to the garden.

All on the outside of course, but still...

It was hard to recover and get to sleep...

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Destination Ringwood

Yes! We managed a good long bike ride, all the way to Ringwood. There's a new Maccas here so we get a treat, refill the water bottle, and head home. Well done boys! One day we'll manage it with less treat and more ride.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Release Ninja!

I work at a software company - we write awesome software that cable TV companies would use. This week was a release week - we spent all week testing, fixing, and preparing everything. The dude who comes to the fore in Release Week is Kai, who actually builds the release.

Now, a computer program is made of heaps of bits, and many people work on them. And we keep every version of every bit. So at release time, someone has to pick out which version of each bit is set to go right now. That's Kai. It's not straightforward, because people are making last minute changes, and some are working ahead on the next version already.

We decided Kai needed a great title. "Release Manager" was taken - that's a whole different job, negotiating with customers about who wants what feature, and when. Management. Yawn. Kai needed a way more exciting title for his interesting IT job. So he's now the :


I made him a card, and Jeff and I game him a little present - the ninja in this Lego set is called Kai!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

An otter

Not running in this year's Melbourne Cup.

An armadillo...

... Missing the Illo - it's running in the Cup. We're at the museum, by the way.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

It peels SHARKS!

Oh, wait, it's a vegetable peeler. I'm not so interested now...

Anyway, why would you want a vegie peeler that peels vegies the way a shark would? Sharks don't!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

And there they go

Currently in second place! In this race of two! Both cars going well though.

The sun's out!

We're at Scienceworks racing solar cars- Go Hell's Angles!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Raven Meets Mrs Swan-for-a-Head

I've lately been making an art doll for a swap. She is supposed to represent an animal - "The Animal in Me". I achieved this by taking the head off a Barbie doll, adding a head from a swan, and adding an elaborate costume made of paper, and a cool paint job. It's been fun. My doll is ready to send to the recipient, but due to a twist of fate, I still have her here. And the doll sent to me has already arrived! She  is Raven, a devastatingly elegant creation in black.

This is so cool  - they are playing together and getting along so well. Let's sneak into the art room and watch...

Mrs Swan-for-a-Head: "Hey, Raven, wanna hear a secret?"

Raven: "I suppose so..."

Mrs Swan-for-a-Head: "HOOONNNKKKKK!!"

 Raven: "You're leaving soon, right?"

In a side note, I really need to think of a better name for my doll.