Below the line – a worthwhile cause


Well this is something a little different for my usual blog fair but I thought it might interest some and well.. what is this blog for if not cataloging my adventures. This week I will be participating in Below the line.
It is an awareness campaign more than anything else but also raises funds for those living in extreme poverty in Papua New Guinea and Cambodia. The links my current employer has to Cambodia and the service projects the school runs there has been very enlightening to me over the years and it really is amazing how much difference a seemingly small amount of money can make.

I don’t usually like to ask or send out what I consider spam but I did send out a few emails this week to raise some funds but mostly to draw attention to this program.

The idea is that participants live on $2 a day (1 pound in the UK) for food. It is a big ask for individuals but the more people you get working together the better your diet can be. It lasts only for 5 days. The way the program encourages you to band together with friends and form a team in order to be able to afford more interesting food stuffs etc is interesting. The way it highlights the importance of community is a great additional educational point in my eyes as it points out how important villages and communities are essential to the support or those living in extreme poverty.

This won’t be the first time in my life I have lived on this kind of budget, in fact I have lived on less for much longer. It is a good reminder to me just how good I have it now compared to other times in my life. I am lucky and so very very thankful for all the opportunities my life affords me and the luxury I take for granted more  often than I should. This is my way to give back a little … everyone deserves the chance to thrive. So my main idea behind this is to put the usual household food budget in as a donation it is a significant amount of money when I think about it.. the food budget here is not exactly what I would refer to as tight.

So for the next 5 days this household including Mr B will be living below the line… $20 two people 5 days, lets see how we manage.

My profile page is here if you want to follow how much I raise… or even contribute 😛

below the line

Worth the Wait

Sometime ago now… lets say almost two years ago, I celebrated my transition into a new career with the purchase of some beautiful original artworks.

The artist was Stephanie Pui-Man Law and I was so happy to have the opportunity as I had been a fan of her art from as way back as about 1998 or even earlier. I have a number of her pieces as prints and way more than I would care to mention as HAED charts, having an original though had always been a bit of a dream. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase two of my favourite cards from her Tarot deck – The Hermit (this is a card that I love in pretty much every deck I own) and the Four of Pentacles… my choice of this one was all about the Dragon and his little fairy chameleon companions.

With the artwork purchased the intent was always to get them framed as soon as they arrived, but well you know the story about the best intentions right… So of course they have sat on the shelf for almost two years and my guilt over them just sitting there has grown steadily. I know I have expensive tastes when it comes to framing and I wanted to get museum quality glass on these due to the delicate nature of the water colours so I kept putting it off.
I did make it up to the framers just after returning from Sweden but unfortunately they were close for renovations until February and then life got in the way. Finally though about 4 weeks ago I got them up to the store and spent a good amount of time with the framer selecting mat boards and frames, not just for my poor neglected Tarot originals but also for the gorgeous little ‘Perfect Poison’ that I had bought from the whimsical Annie Rodrique.
She was the hardest to fiddle with to get the mat and frame combination right and the one I probably love the most for the overall effect. Apologies for the photos particularly the one of the Four of Pentacles the light here as always in Melbourne at this time of year is a little gloomy and he is hung away from where any natural light comes in.

SPML Tarot - Hermit

SPML - Four of Pentacles

Annie Rodrique - Perfect Poison

There was a small problem with the frames initially when I collected them.. just above the bottom edge of the frame there was text visible, this turned out to be the glass certification for the museum quality specifications. I took them back up to the framers though and they fixed it up straight away which I was really happy with. No questions no problems just fixed right there and then 🙂

Now I have all my pretties home with me and just need a few more hooks up on the walls so they can all be displayed proudly.

It really was worth all the wait.

Whoa…. So that was 2011?

*Wipes away the layers of dust and has a look around*

Well yep I still have a blog… probably not much of an audience but really that wasn’t the purpose of this blog anyway. For anyone still paying attention by now you have probably worked out that contrary to my best intentions I did not increase my posts in 2011 I completely fell off the face of the planet.

So what has happened in the past year.

Obviously I survived my 5 weeks in France / UK the trip was phenomenal and there were so many pictures taken ( most not edited and still waiting to be printed / uploaded or both). On my return I started life in my new career as a teacher, it is this that has kept me on y toes and generally without any time to blog / craft / well anything really other than work. Mind you this hasn’t stopped me from acquiring more stash, a spinning wheel, quilting fabrics and so much more.

The days have been long and keeping up has been a struggle but all in all I am still of the opinion that it was the right decision.. I just need to find the right niche to fit myself in to now and I can see me avoiding another upheaval on the job front for a while.

2011 was certainly far from uneventful with trips to Brisbane mostly associated with family members passing away and an unexpected stay over thanks to the ash cloud. It has all in all been a bit of a physical and emotional roller coaster. There was up points though and I have spent a lot of today cataloging yarn purchases on Ravelry that I made way back in July when I was in the US visiting Adma and going on yarn expeditions with Danie.

So.. here I am 2011 done by in a flash and feeling like there has been very little time for me… which brings me back to my blog. A way for me to keep a track of how things are progressing, set some goals for my crafty adventures and see if I can get some more focus on the life part of the whole work life balance. More than where I work it is me that is the problem when it comes to overwork and stress. I need to loosen my grip sometimes and just let things fall that little bit. Hopefully this blog will help me do that again.

Things are not fully tidied up around here but with the help of Mr Adma it is looking a bit more respectable and approaching more of what I was trying to acheive. Keep your eyes out though as there are bound to be a few more changes.. a few more updated pictures in the side bar and the reappearance of a new 101 in 1001 list.

I didn’t make much int he way of formal New Years resolutions this year but I have promised myself to work less and live more.. that and work on getting back to a size 12 :P. Crafty goals have been kept manageable but still challenging and if nothing else my aim will be to get back to listing monthly goals and monitoring my progress over 2012.

So here’s to 2012 may it be full of friendship and adventure.


Holiday update

Well I didn’t get back to my blog before heading to BrisVegas… but really who’s surprised about that?
The trip up was good but really really busy, filled with trips to see family and friends and lots of running all over the place.

I think I actually managed to cover the four corners that outline the outer regions of Brisbane. In ten days I was in Logan Reserve / Beaudesert, Boonah out past Ipswich, Caboolture and Cleaveland with a brief stay in the centre of the city as well. Phew it makes me tired just thinking about it all over again.

I got the cake made before I left as well as decorations and an overall plan which had me less nervous about getting it all together in time. I didn’t manage to make costumes but did track down props and bits and pieces to throw together a little red riding hood and woodsman costume… complete with wolfs head with grannys night cap 😛

The party was a great success filled with over 40 people there to celebrate with dear friends. Even though I wasn’t happy with the overall finish of the cake (there being too much un-eveness on the top) Lesley and Colin loved it and everyone was more than happy to tuck in to the mud cake and the cupcakes.

Hearts and Roses

I ended up with a white chocolate mud cake filled and coated in a rich raspberry butter cream then coated with a white chocolate fondant. The decorations were sugar paste roses and hearts made in house by Mr B and myself. Not too bad for our first ever attempts at sugar roses if I do say so myself. I also made 5 dozen cupcakes – there were chocolate with raspberry butter cream and decorated with a two layer red and white sugar heart and then white chocolate and macadamia cupcakes with a white chocolate and vanilla bean butter cream. Surprisingly a lot of the cakes were eaten on the night.

It was a busy few days helping set up for the party , the the party shenanigans an the clean up but it was a fantastic time and I am so glad we were able to be a part of it.
Colin treeI even managed to get a couple of pictures of the completed Lesley and Colin name trees I finished last year and forgot to take photos of (picture of the Lesley tree can be seen at my flickr account). Lesley is rather enamoured with them and they were still out hanging on the handles of one of their display cabinets. I only grabbed a couple of quick shots but at least now I have a record of how they ended up after finishing.

While away I started and finished a knitting project, just another infinity scarf, this time for myself. No photos yet though as I still need to block it and take pictures. I have progress on my restart of the woodland lace scarf too so I will leave that for a knitting focused post later in the week.

Tomorrow is the last day of my holidays… surprising how fast it has gone. All in all I don’t think I managed to do a fraction of what I had planned but that’s ok. What I did manage was to spend time catching up with some great friends both here in Melbourne and in Brisbane… and I even got skype working on my phone so I can call friend farther afield a little more often too which will be nice. The best thing about tomorrow though… I’m off to Bendigo again! we’re filling a car and heading off on a road trip again, 4 yarn mad women and a date with the Bendigo Australian wool and sheep show.

Do I need more wool?.. hell no! but I am sure I will come back with quite a bit. 😀

The Madness Never Ends

It’s that time of year again and add to that hell deadlines at work…. that means I still haven’t uploaded the sci-fi party photos, costumes and cake etc.

I’m all head down bum up working to a killer deadline at the moment and trying to put in minimum 12 hour days I’ll be back soon though I promise… ok maybe after I get osme Christmas baking done.

Oh and Cirques is behaving nicely on the train trip to and from work .. maybe just maybe I will have a finish in a few weeks.

See you all again soon.

Finally finished

Hug me tight diamond lace shrug

After a restart and a couple of years I have finally finished the hug me tight shrug I started back in Brisbane probably two years ago.

I decided to rip it back and restrat it as a short sleeved version which is also going to be handy to have in Melbourne’s changeable spring and autumn months.
The shrug does still need to be stitched up and have the ends woven in .. but at this point I can’t find my wool tapestry needle, think it will be a quick trip to lincraft on the way home form work this week. This project knitted up super fast taking only two weeks worth of train rides to and from work and the occasional lunch hour.

Next up…. something a little differnt. This week will be full steam ahead on the costumes for the Sci-Fi party at the end of november. The fabric selection is just a little out of the ordinary for the usual colour choices and fabric types found around here 😛

Not the usual array of colours and fabrics

Halloween Hi-jinx

Well another year and another Halloween has been and gone. Last year we missed out doing much to celebrate as we were madly in the throws of getting ready to move to Melbourne. In fact, we were in Melbourne just days before Halloween trying to find somewhere to live. This year it wasn’t looking good for a big celebration either. Things have just been so busy trying to find time to get everything done just wasn’t going to happen.

I still have two sci-fi based costumes to get ready before the end of October not to mention cake decorating, party planning etc etc. The plan was keep it simple. A few friends, no costumes some food, drinks games and just a quiet night in.. maybe pull out a few of the decorations…

Well this is what resulted:


There was also dungeon wallpaper down the hallway and a glow in the dark room with black light in the TV room. The low key decorations somehow managed an upgrade along the way. In my defence Halloween is my favourite holiday of the year and I LOVE pulling out all the candles and decorations and this was the first chance to try things out in the new house.

Not all the decorations moved with us interstate so it was an adventures seeing what we had kept and them wondering why we got rid of some of the things we did.  The food… well it was themed of course and the recipes for the things I made follow below. Most of them were adapted / pillaged from the internet and largely this year inspirations was provided by  Martha Stewart’s website (as well as templates for the bats and rats used for decorations). The menu included:

  • Shrunken head pies
  • Bloodied Brain cupcakes (oodles of places have listed instructions for these)
  • Brain pannacotta (as inspired by Not quite Nigella)
  • Witches hands
  • Puff pasty pumpkins
  • Creature chips and dips
  • then a variety of cookies, treats and standard nibbles.

It was quite the spread for the 5 of us … I am still working on my tendency to over cater but I loved the way everything turned out.

On to the recipes!

Creature Chips

Creature chipsThe creature chips were the simplest to make and were a lot nicer to be nibbling on with dips and cheeses than standard fatty salty chips (don’t get me wrong I am a lover of fatty salty chips but there was more than enough of both to go around that more was not required).

Simply take your favourite Hallloween cookie cutters – I have over 40 to choose from thanks to a great barrel full of cutters provided by the wonderful adma a few Halloweens ago- using purchased tortillas in a variety of types if you can find them. I used wholegrain and plain cut out the shapes with your cookie cutters, spray lightly with canola or olive oil spray (the olive oil with garlic is really tasty) sprinkle with a little salt and bake in the oven for about 5-10 mins at ~190°C, basically until they just start to colour.

Place the chips on a cooling rack until completely cool and crisp, store in an airtight container. These are best made no more than about 24hours before your event. They will also work with any type of flat bread such as mountain bread and lavash breads. For Halloween I tried to choose good shapes for dipping that wouldn’t have small pieces that broke off, these were: bats, ghosts, coffins, devil heads and Frankensteins.

Puff Pastry Pumpkins
The recipe for these was pilfered from and is another simple but effective treat.

Puff pastry pumpkins

You will need:

Butter puff pastry
Gruyere cheese (~ 100gish. 1.5 cups)
Parmesan Cheese (1cup)
Butter for melting
Djon Mustard
and a pumpkin cookie cutter

Mix the grated parmesan and gruyere (I also ground in a little fresh black pepper) and set aside.
Spread a thin layer of djon mustard on one sheet of the puff pasty (I used the pampas packet of butter puff pastry that comes with 3 sheets and managed to get over 12 pumpkins form that, you would get more if you re rolled the scraps and cut again). Sprinkle a good layer of the chees mixture over the mustard and lay a second sheet of pastry across the top, encasing the cheese. With a rolling pin roll the sheets together a little so the stick.

Cut your shapes and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, then place the whole tray in the fridge to chill for ~5-10mins. Melt ~tablespoon of butter and add a teaspoon of paprika (more if you prefer a stronger floavour). Remove the pastry from the fridge and brush with the melted butter and paprika mixture. Place in a preheated 190°C oven and cook for 7-10 minutes until pastry is golden brown. You can serve these hot or cold and they reheat well in the oven.

Shrunken Head Pies

Shrunken head pies

These pies were just a basic mince meat pie filling baked in a skull pan such as this one.
for the filling you will need:

  • onion (diced)
  • 1kg (you could halve this and just use 500g for less pies)
  • 125g bacon diced nice and small
  • tomato paste
  • Beef stock
  • gravy powder

Saute off the bacon and onion in a pan before adding the mince and browning it off. Throw in ~1/4 cup of tomato paste and a cup of beef stock. I usually add some instant gravy powder to help thicken the mix and enrich the flavour. I usually to this to taste and add some tabasco, worcestershire sauce, black pepper and salt. Simmer the mixture until it is thick but not dry, then set aside to cool.
Line the baking tray with shortcrust pastry ( I usually just use packaged shortcrust pastry for parties to cut down on prep time, add to that pastry and I often don’t agree when I make it from scratch this is a low stress alternative) add filling then place a pastry ‘lid’ onto each of the pies and brush with egg wash. I cooked mine at 190°C for about 15-20 minutes until the pastry was lovely and crisp and golden. Let the pies cool in the tray for 5mins before turning out onto a cooling rack.

The pies can be made beforehand and kept in the fridge / freezer, just reheat in the oven before serving.

Dulce De Leche Bat Cookies (From Martha Stewart)

IngredientsDulce de leche bat cookies

  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dulce de leche ( I made my Dulce De Leche in the oven in the same way as Not Quite Nigella, this is easier than babysitting a pot of boiling caramel)
  • Whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg, yolk, chocolate, and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 1 hour.
    On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out 36 rounds with a 2-inch cutter, and space 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Using an aspic cutter set, cut a triangle, point side up, in the center of half the cookies, and then use the half-moon cutter to make one “wing” on each side of the triangle. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
    Preheat oven to 375. Bake until set, 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool. Top each uncut cookie with 1 teaspoon dulce de leche and a cutout cookie.

Falling behind

So I’m falling behind with my blog again. I have a bunch of half written posts I will probably backdate and post anyway (chocolate rush and another recipe as well as this weekends prep for RSPCA cupcake day). I’m also behind on my bramble… All the prep this weekend meant I haven’t had a chance to even pick up a needle.
I should be able to catch up on the few days I am lagging and post a picture of how it should of looked as of Saturday tonight / tomorrow.

Now to go and let people know I have cupcakes for them to buy.. not sure how this whole thing will be received at my new work…

Forgot my wordle

Mind like a sieve.. that’s me. This months wordle is now done. Funnily enough I posted regularly enough in July that this is a representation of only a portion of those posts. I think it has missed out post up to and including the 3rd of July.


Who would of thought I’d be updating my blog so regularly.

The Bramble and The Rose – Week 2

Well here we are, two weeks and still going strong. Here is my two week progress on The Bramble and The Rose. I’m really happy with how this is progressing, I think I am averaging about 40 stitches a day on average which is a very small amount of time for a steady amount of progress (2.6% so far). It will take just under 100 weeks at this rate which is less that the initial 3.4 years I think it worked out to at the minimum 20 stitches a day.

The Bramble and The Rose Week 2

(Stitched 1×1 on 32ct Green Apple Lugana (Silkweaver) using Old Maid of the Forest and Variegated Nosegay (Vikki Clayton Silks)

The rest of this weekend I am working on St Nick (almost half of page 3 is done now) and I have also pulled out Lost for the SWIP SAL over on the HAED board. It has been a long time since I have had time to give to a SAL but Lost is still on my goals for this year so I thought I should give him some attention. Besides he suits the way I feel lately as I still stumble about a little lost about what to do when I grow up 😛

I was asked this week at work to bake 60 cupcakes for a coworker for her son’s 7th birthday. I agreed but now need to come up with a price for her. I don’t want to do it for nothing but really I don’t want to rip her off either so I have some sums to do. I really have no idea how much she is willing to pay. Oh well that is all the un-fun stuff anyway I have been busily deciding on decorations etc for the cupcakes. Should be fun, the only challenge will be getting them all made and delivered on a Friday, while still doing normal hours at work.

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