Love and hearts and a bit more love

Pink heart-shaped lamington

My handsome husband never buys me Valentine’s gifts. Which is just the way I like it. I just don’t believe in all the hyped-up commercialism of V-Day. What I do believe in, however, is love. And while I like to shower my peeps in it on any given day, I like positively saturating them on Feb 14th with little tokens to remind them that my love for them runs deeper than Dolly Parton’s cleavage.

Jar of candy hearts

Yep. Deep.

This year I was inspired by a picture I bought ages ago from beautiful Etsy artist Golly Bard.

Jar of Love

Jar of Love hangs in my study and I love it every bit as much as I did when I bought it 4 years ago.

So I made the baby Bettys their own little jars chockfull of love.

Jar of hearts birdseye views

I also like to go totally overboard with their lunches and pack those full of love too. 

Love lunch

Frankly, I defy anyone to tell me that anything says “I love you” more than a pink, heart-shaped lamington.

My grandmother, Betty, used to make these lamos as a treat for us when  we would visit her in the school holidays. We looked forward to them like mad things.

I made this card (from this Photojojo tutorial) for my most handsome of husbands. It’s a shot from our wedding in Bali.

Valentine's card with cut-out heart

I love that pic however, in a startling coincidence, I do appear to be sporting horrifyingly over-sculpted eyebrows very similar to those of a certain infamous Australian who has just been released from a Balinese prison this week.  Well, at least I have the excuse that it was 2001.

I hope your Valentine’s Day and life in general is brimming with that many splendoured thing.

jar of hearts with hearts spilling out

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Painted wooden serving boards: a tutorial

small aqua ended cheese board gold knife on angle

Last Christmas my brother gave me Jamie Oliver’s latest cookbook: ” Jamie’s 15 minute meals”.  It both inspired and perplexed me.

Blue cheese platter close up

I was  inspired by the painted serving boards in the book but perplexed by the notion that anyone could complete some of the recipes in there in 15 minutes.

Edge of red edge cheese platter

Achievability of the food within aforementioned time limit aside, I’m here to tell you these painted wooden boards (if not Jamie’s recipes) whip up in under 15 minutes. Well, the first coat, anyway. Okay, so maybe don’t start these at a quarter to I’ve-got-to-be-somewhere.  Twenty to should be plenty though!

Pile of 3 wooden cheese boards

Once again, I’ve employed my very favourite masking tape and paper punch stencil method…

Wooden cheese platter board painters tape stencil

with much success.

Painted wooden cheese board blue dots

I hesitated to call this a tutorial as (with so many of my thangs) it really is criminally simple but I’m going to go ahead and do that anyway because I’m badass like that.

Small aqua edged cheese platter gold knife below

What you need:

  • Wooden serving board, cheese board, platter. Whatever takes your fancy. Do ensure it is not treated ie, safe to serve food on.
  • Food safe paint.
  • Painter’s tape or good quality masking tape

I got my food safe paint from ecolour paints.  I highly recommend them. They were lovely to deal with on the phone and very helpful despite the fact I was only ordering sample-sized quantities of paint. You  only need a small amount for this project and 0.5 litre typically costs AUS$13. Pretty decent I think.

Eco colour paint pots

I’m sorry I can’t give you international suppliers but I’m sure a google search in your area would lead you to what you want.

Blue cheese platter with walnuts, olives, quince paste, brieThe other thing I truly LOVE about this company is they can mix up any colour at all. You just choose the paint swatch you want and let them know the brand and name of the colour.

Aqua stripe cheese platter

What to do:

1. Paint your wood.

You can use steel wool to rough it up for a distressed look once it’s dry. Or use painter’s masking tape to create stripes and perfect straight lines. And use your paper punch to make templates. Endless possibilities.

Painted wooden platter in progress masking tape

I am making some of these for Christmas gifts this year. I think a board along with a beautiful cheese knife or even a round of cheese and some quince paste makes a beautiful Christmas present.

Red edged cheese platter closer

I collected my boards from various spots including IKEA and the local supermarket. The olives, however, are our backyard 2013 crop. Salty little bastards but I love ’em. Quince paste is mine too. Satisfying to have two homemade comestibles on the one platter.

Homemade olives

And don’t feel limited to cheese. I had a party last night and served a pile of homemade brownies on some of these boards. If you can put it on a platter, you can put it on one of these.

Red-edged painted wooden cheese board

Acqua stripe cheese board close up

PS: I’ve updated the look of my blog. I struggled to let go of my twirling chick on horseback but I’m much happier with the cleaner feel of this new design. Also, for a long time I’ve wanted a theme that  showcases my photographs better. They’re now bigger (in the horizontal view) and, I hope, better for that fact. Whaddya think?

Homemade edible confetti: a tutorial

Edible cake confetti 5

Edible confetti. What’s not to love.

edible cake confetti 4

After I had the idea I googled it and it turns out you can actually buy this stuff. Hence the “homemade” in the title of this post. But making it yourself means you can control the colours and the additives. And spend time when you should otherwise be doing mundane housework enjoying the meditative qualities of kneading fondant icing and flexing your punching muscles.

Edible confetti on cake on white stand

What you need:

  • Fondant icing (I use Orchard brand, available in large supermarkets here).
  • Gel food colouring (I use Americolour and Wiltons brands).
  • Icing sugar and a sieve
  • Baking paper
  • Paper punch (a handheld circular punch works best for this project)
  • Rolling pin
  • Cake cooling rack (good but not essential).

Edible confetti on cake 1

What to do:

1. Start by sifting some icing sugar through your sieve onto a corner of your workspace. Make a little pile of it. You’ll use this to dry the fondant out a bit as you knead it.

2. Tear off a golf-ball sized piece of fondant and knead until smooth and pliable. If it is too sticky, add some sieved icing sugar.

3. Add a drop or two of food colouring. These gel colours are very intense and you only need a little. Better to add a little and more as needed.

4. Knead the colour through the icing until it is even, adding icing sugar as you go to keep it soft but not sticky. It tolerates quite a lot of icing sugar being added without compromising the texture or colour so don’t be afraid to add a fair bit if required.

5. Roll out your ball of fondant as thinly as you can between two sheets of baking paper. It doesn’t have to be paper-thin – just thin enough to get into the paper punch.

Green fondant icing rolled out

Peel your flattened fondant off the paper and place on another piece of baking paper on a tray to dry for a few hours. When it is dry and you can lift the whole thing off the paper without it drooping too much, transfer it to a cake cooling rack if you have one to let the air get to all sides of it. If not, just leave it on the tray and allow to dry for 24 hours.

Once the icing is stiff enough, get punching.

Icing with paper punch

Try not to do this:

Edible confetti on my fingers

That’s it.

I am loving how this looks. Quite “spectacleear”, as my 4 year old would say.

Edible cake confetti 2

And there you were thinking your paper punches were limited to use with paper, washi tape, masking tape, soap and fabric. Oh, you!

This is a post in twirling betty’s paper punch-a-palooza series. If you enjoyed it, you might also like:

1. Paper punch stencils

2. Paper punch fabric luggage tags

3. Paper punch washi tape stickers

4. Paper punch fabric confetti

4. Paper punch sparkly snowflake envelope

5. Paper punch soap confetti

6. Paper punch washi tape cake stand decoration

7. Paper punch stencilling on clothes with masking tape or freezer paper

Large paper punch-a-palooza series header

A singlet for a new babe and a dotty bag.

Love heart singlet close up

A lovely friend of mine recently had a little girl and I made her a weeny heart singlet for her new love.

Baby singlets kill me.

Love heart singlets

I love the way tiny babes look like shearers in them. Heart singlets are sweeping the shearing sheds of Australia this year, by the way.

I have touched on using paper punches as a stencil in this earlier paper punch-a-palooza post, but it’s always worth coming back to because it’s such a quick but satisfying way to get  templates onto fabric.

You can either punch through freezer paper, or if you don’t have that, use painter’s masking tape on baking paper. It can be a bit trickier to line up strips of tape and so on but generally works equally well.

Freezer paper and masking tape stencils

Also, a little tip: if your punch is not, like our friend Kanye West, the sharpest tool in the shed, place your masking tape and baking paper between two sheets of normal paper and then punch. Your paper. Not your partner. I cannot condone domestic violence.  No matter how many times they try to make you watch Top Gear.

I didn’t need to do that with the smaller heart punch, but my big circular one struggled. These are the stencils I made with the latter.

Masking tape stencils on bag

And the finished product.

Spring in a bag

It’s a Springy bag, I feel. Perfect for market trips to collect the ingredients for my favourite Spring dish.

I was cavalier with my application of paint on my teeny singlets (because that’s how I roll) and, interestingly, the masking tape made for a marginally sharper outline.  I did not expect that. Indeed, I imagine my feelings were very similar indeed to Louis Pasteur’s as each chicken recovered. Very similar indeed. And I don’t want to get too cocky, but I am preeeety sure that my results might have an even larger effect than Louis’ eventual discovery of penicillin. You heard it here first.

Love heart singletThis is a post in twirling betty’s Paper Punch-a-palooza series.

Lilac large paper punch-a-palooza series header

If you enjoyed this post, you might like the other in the Paper-punch-a-palooza series.

If this has got you in the mood to crack out your supplies and punch something  – and then pull our your paper punches and make stuff  – then you might be inspired by these other posts in the series:

1. Paper punch stencils

2. Paper punch fabric luggage tags

3. Paper punch washi tape stickers

4. Paper punch sparkly snowflake envelope

5. Paper punch soap confetti

6. Washi tape cake stand border

Slumber party

name pillowcases

We are at the end of a weekend-long festival of 8-year-old-ness. As always, I am in total denial that we are even at this point. I mean how can it be the case when I’m pretty sure I was in labour with her not much more than a year ago?

We had 7 little people here for a slumber party last night (including the birthday girl and her little sister who felt very grown up indeed to be hangin’ with the big girls) and they were all, without exception, edible.

There was a special at-request birthday dinner of rigatoni carbonara and apple pie then a snuggle under piles of doonas while they avidly watched Roald Dahl’s ‘The BFG’.

Personalised pillow cases

We served Snozzcumbers  – hollowed out cucumbers stuffed with smoked salmon and cream cheese and decorated with poppy seeds and popcorn – and Frobscuttle – lemonade dyed green and purple  – at the corresponding points through the movie which went down a treat.

I am totally serving Snozzcumbers at my next grown-up party. They were genuinely delicious.

The best bit was when Sophia’s friends voted (unanimously apart from the birthday girl  I might add) to see a dance routine from her father and I.  We did, if I do say so myself, outdo ourselves. Thanks must also go to Christina Aguilera and Pittbull.  I have literally been building up to that moment my entire parenting life and it was well worth the wait.

It was Sophia’s idea to make a pillowcase for each person and these whipped up in under an hour with some t-shirt transfer paper and a hot iron.  Another magic trifecta craft: quick, easy and effective.

Pillowcases with names

I have two little babes sleeping very soundly at this moment.  And possibly having nightmares about their parents’ dance moves. Potentially scarring stuff that.