Friday, December 16, 2011

Nom nom nom

I had a serious dose of baking fever yesterday morning and whipped up a whole batch of goodies for my little men and their pals to enjoy in the lead-up to Christmas!

This Christmas tree chocolate cake was so easy. I bought the cake tin in Kmart, made up mixture for 12 cupcakes (Humming Bird Cafe recipe), poured the mixture into the mould and popped it into the oven for 25 minutes at 175 degrees celsius. Then when it cooled down my two littler boys "helped" me dust it with icing sugar and put some M&Ms on as baubles :-)

Next I made 2 dozen choccie cupcakes (Hummingbird recipe again, always a winner). Things went a bit awry with the food colouring and I now have hulk hands.

Some mince-pies for my hubbie :-)

We're pretty strict with our kids' diets. Our eldest never ate chocolate until he was five and a half, the others younger of course. I wanted to hold off for longer with them too but trying to watch all kids with an eagle eye is impossible sometimes. D had his first taste over a year ago when I saw him ambling past at his friend's party stuffing a Lamington down his throat with glee and S had his about a year ago too when he was handed a slice of cake unbeknownst to me at another party, there he was sitting at the top of the slide with choccie all over him looking like he'd just discovered gold!

So now, we do let go when it's special occasions like parties and Christmas or special playdates. I'm happy to say that they still have very healthy diets and appreciate treats for what they are - special and not the norm :-)

Oh, if you'd seen the happy little chocolate-covered faces here yesterday after all this baking :-)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Living

The house was looking a bit tidier than usual this morning (not THAT tidy, still could do with a dust and vacuum), so I thought I'd get the camera out and share some photos of our living room before we decorate it for Christmas :-)


Various art is framed and hung on the wall, from left to right, an original etching of a mother and baby from an artist at Paddington Markets, a tapa cloth painting from a holiday in Fiji, an original oil painting of Sydney harbour (one of my favourite finds), an etching I found at a market and some studio photos of my littlest munchkin.

We are lucky enough to have a working fireplace, many lovely evenings were spent last Winter toasting marshmallows with our boys, it's also a lovely focal point for Christmas decorating. I've mentioned before we are renting this house, so I have no choice on the cream carpets and walls and gold-brown curtains. Thankfully they are pretty neutral and non-offensive, so easy enough to work around.

All of our furniture is suitable for our stage of life, i.e. we have 3 little boys who love to climb and race toy cars and jump around, so we don't want to be too precious by having glorious antiques and top of the range designer furnishings, I like that they can play to their hearts content without me yelling "NOOOO, not on the solid mahogany table, OFF the Venetian velvet sofa boys, GET DOWN from that Louis xiv chair right now"!!!

The Christmas tree will go into this corner, I'm itching to put it up!!!

The mantlepiece is a nice spot for displaying "things", such as some of our favourite photos, some pottery vases, my little pair of peacocks, my favourite ever blobby wooden vase and a pair of sandstone candle holders we bought on holidays at Hyams Beach (one of my favourite places in the world).

This table is another nice spot for bits and pieces including the painting I commissioned from an Etsy artist, some photos of our boys and bowls, lamp, books etc.


It's a long room with a space at the end which incorporates stairs down to the playroom, 2 windows, some built-in cupboards and the doorway to the study. This could easily have become dead space with no wall-space for furniture but instead it's become a nice little play-area for the boys when their toys overflow into the living room.





These drawer units are perfect for storing all that random kiddie stuff, bits of lego, blocks, cars etc that we would otherwise spend our lives tripping over. On top are some Schleich dinosaurs (unfortunately not thrifted, couldn't get that lucky ;-) a vintage globe, cowboy lamp and "Melissa and Doug" barn.

That's it! Hopefully by the weekend it will be looking very Christmassy! I will have a little team of helpers, you know what that means, all the decorations will end up on the bottom half of the tree as far as their little arms can reach :-)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas Classics

For me, one of the best parts of the lead-up to Christmas is watching my favourite festive ads and movies that I can't see or won't let myself watch except at this time of year, it keeps them special not to watch them all year round.

First, there are my old favourites...

Top of these is "The Snowman", a short beautifully animated movie with haunting melodies, made in 1982, it never dates...


From 1989 onwards no Christmas in my home was complete without watching "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation", so many lovely memories of watching this with my parents and sisters, all of us in stitches laughing :-)


No Christmas ad will ever beat the 1987 Budweiser commercial for me, it will always be my favourite and this time every year I bookmark it in youtube and watch it almost daily :-)


But of course, I do have new favourites too :-)

My little boys are big train fans, so every December when we take out the "Polar Express" DVD there is huge excitement. I feel a viewing coming on in a couple of weeks, can't wait to see their little faces :-)


My favourite Christmas song? Mariah of course!


But a new contender is George Michael's "December Song", my boys are obsessed with this video for some reason, the animation is beautiful, my littlest man loves the lights on wheels and squeals when he sees them. Something that makes my 3 boys stop in their tracks and sit still? How could it not be a favourite?


My fave newer Christmas movie has got to be "Love Actually". London at Christmas, fab!!!


And lastly, although this little film "Lost and Found" has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, I think it may become my newest favourite of all. The boys were given the book a few years ago as a gift and loved it, then last year the animated movie was shown on tv at Christmas and they were spellbound.


Anyway, enough about me! This post was a great excuse to gather all my favourites into one place but I'd love to hear from others out there on your favourites at this special time of year :-)

PS. I know I've used the word "favourite" way too many times in this post but the only equivalent I could think of was "bestest" and that's not a real word now is it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cosy

All I want for Christmas is these socks...


But with temperatures in the late 30s (celsius!!!) this week in Sydney, I think I could look slightly ridiculous and may have to give them a miss :(

Friday, November 4, 2011

Old and New

Old: Me. I turned 38 today!
New: All the gorgeous pressies I was spoilt with :-)

When I was little, on my birthday and Christmas day I used to love lining up my presents and clapping with delight looking at them all together. Well, today I got such gorgeous gifts, that's exactly what I felt like doing, so here they are :-)

Now I know I recently harped on about building up my collection of vintage Le Creuset but how could I resist the beautiful new coastal blue collection? I got a round casserole and oval French oven, and no, we didn't pay Australian prices for these. The Uk department store John Lewis have started shipping to Australia with a 15 pound flat delivery fee, so these ended up costing us about 40% what they would have at full retail in an Australian department store. They arrived 4 weeks ago and have been hiding under the bed ever since waiting for my boys to "surprise" me with them this morning :-)

I love this beautiful Jamie Oliver bowl and server set from my big sis, it's nice and large, perfect for a salad when we have friends over for a bbq.

How gorgeous is this vintage style mixing bowl by Tala? Very gorgeous indeed!!! Thanks Mum and Dad :-)

And just in case you think ALL my pressies were blue, look what my clever mind-reading little sister sent me!

I have been dying to get this book since it was released!

The day's not over yet, there will be cake when my hubbie gets home (and surprises according to my little man) and then my lovely friend next door is going to babysit so my hubbie and I can go out together for dinner! Our usual meals out are in kiddie-friendly restaurants with play areas where we wolf down our dinner while our kids run around like crazy, so I'm looking forward to a nice relaxed grown-up evening out :-)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thumbs up!

I know it's cheesy but...


When I saw the new Coke bottles with names on them I couldn't resist :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yes!!!

Look what I bought on eBay :-)

My saved search for Villeroy and Boch Acapulco threw up these beauties a couple of weeks ago. Seeing what I thought was a start price of $35 I put them on my watched list. Then I realised it was a "Buy it Now" price! You have never seen somebody click a link so fast! Yes, this is more than I generally would pay for a couple of pots, but as I've mentioned before I am totally in love with this design and they usually sell for a LOT more than that!

I have a love/hate relationship with eBay, I love being able to sell on bits and pieces I wouldn't keep myself to fund purchases like this, but hate the constant last-minute outbidding that always seems to happen! It's the way it works, I know, and I love when that last minute bidding pushes up the prices of items I sell, but not those I want to buy.

I'm such a hypocrite ;-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Acres and acres...

It's a good thing I am GOING TO HAVE acres of open shelving in my dream kitchen some day because with the amount of kitchenware I'm amassing I will need them!

Here are a few more bits and pieces I've picked up along the way...

Beautiful clay spoons for canap├ęs or hors d'oeuvres - 50 cents each.

A lovely robin-egg blue bowl - $5.

I found the beautiful large green bowl and very similar smaller one on the same day in totally different op shops - $5 for the larger one and $2 for the small...

Together they make a lovely chip 'n' dip set :-)

I know, more blue! I can't help it, this cute little set was $3.

This solid granite mortar and pestle was a steal at $3. I know I already have a black granite mortar and pestle but this one is a completely different shape so that's OK ;-)

And finally, this lovely rustic wooden bread board - 50 cents!

Yes, I'm going to need acres and acres and acres....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Curb My Enthusiasm

Well you knew you couldn't get away for much longer without a Pyrex post! Bear with me, its only my second of the year!

What's happened? Well, I've had to curb my habit a wee bit, it's very tempting to buy so much of it when it's in great condition, so useful and so cheap! But my poor cupboards were groaning under the weight of it all so I'm now only buying pieces I am ABSOLUTELY in love with!

Here are my latest finds...

My first ever piece complete with its cradle! Now you know I'm more of a blue girl rather than pink, but I have the exact same dish in turquoise so I'm going to swap them over :-)


This piece is darker than most of my others, but there's something about it I love. I've never seen this design before, any Pyrex experts out there know anything about it?


A cute bowl with blue swirls, I already have the same design with red swirls :-)


A couple of fluted pie dishes to add to my tiny collection.


I'm still kicking myself for not buying a lovely purple pie dish I saw in Vinnie's a couple of months ago just because there was a big queue and I was dashing to catch the bus.

The bus was late :-(

Friday, September 23, 2011

Close, but no cigar...

Last year I posted rather excitedly about some beautiful Noritake dinnerware I had found, a complete dinner service for 4 and demitasse coffee set for 6.


Well, ever since I have been hoping to come across some more pieces of the same dinner service so I could have a complete set for 8.

Alas, I have had no luck on this front but have found another very lovely, quite similar set that I think will do the trick!

Not a match by any means, the Noritake plates are a lighter baby blue with pink flowers, whereas this set (marked "Saraband by Ridgway, Staffordshire, Made in England) are a deeper, duck egg blue with white and pink flowers.

But don't they look pretty side by side? I'm thinking alternating designs laid out on a table of 8 would look gorgeous, hmmm, maybe we'll have sit down dinner parties again when the kids are grown up. Meanwhile our entertaining efforts mainly consist of bbqs where kids outnumber the adults big time!

You may have noticed my recent little flurry of posts. I have been trying to regain some momentum in my blogging after a lazy year so expect lots more news and finds from me! But for now, school breaks up for 2 weeks holidays this afternoon and no kid-free time = no blogging so see you all in a couple of weeks :-)