The adventure of trying to make a house a home that we built for our family of six plus some craft, home décor, recipes & any family fun we might have.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Christmas Ornament Exchange

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in two Christmas Ornament Exchanges and boy did I have fun organising my ornaments. The first exchange was been ran by Kelly, Kristi and Claire and I was really excited to get started on my ornament.
I spent a bit of time thinking about what I could do especially as I had a $5 budget and I wanted something that would last a while and that wouldn't break while been mailed especially as it was going all the way to Canada. I knew a little bit about my exchange partner Elizabeth especially as we'd emailed each other a few times prior to getting started.
I hope Elizabeth likes what I've done for her and that it goes well with her other decorations. Thanks you to the hosts for organising this exchange.
Now for the second exchange I signed up through Amy at One Artsy Mama to participate again with her ornament exchange. I did Amy's exchange last year and although I had a few issues with the posting due to our posties taking holiday's over the Christmas holiday period my ornaments arrived in early January. This year I'm hoping that Geri from Mount Vernon likes what I did for her.

Geri told me that she had eleven trees so I felt pretty safe when getting her an ornament however the one thing I wanted to do was give her something Australian for her International Tree but unfortunately we don't have Christmasy (is that even a word)  Australia Ornaments. So here is what I created for Geri.

Geri told me that she loved PINK and as soon as I saw these I knew what I had to do. This is the same pink spray paint that I painted my pantry storage containers last month. I also sprayed a bit of the paint onto the string so that if the reindeer hung down from the tree a bit you'd also get to see the pint.

So what do you think? I'm really happy with both my ornaments and I hope my exchange partners like what I've done for them. Now here's hoping that they both arrive in time to make it on the Christmas Tree this year especially as I know the postal service is working overtime at this time of the year.


Monday, 25 November 2013

Christmas Tree: Ribbon Wrapped Tree

I've had a few polyfoam cones lying around the house since last Christmas season and I got to thinking that I probably should get around to using them otherwise they'll still be sad looking Christmas Trees next year. After searching Pinterest I found a few different trees that I liked the look of and with these images pinned to my Christmas board I got to thinking about what I wanted to achieve.

Last year I attempted a ribbon tree and it just didn't work out very well as the ribbon I'd used had an elastic band made it difficult to attach to the polyfoam cone. My mother loved it so I gifted it to her and she ended up using it on her Christmas mantel. So this year I was looking for something similar when I stumbled across some fabric wrapped trees at Landee See Landee Do. Her simple instructions are easy and that was what I was looking for.

Supplies Needed:
polyfoam cone
sewing pins
1. Take two pieces of ribbon and pin them over the point the of the cone so that it creates a cross. Push the pins down on a 45 degree angle so they don't stick out the sides.
2. Tuck the start of the ribbon under one of the pieces of ribbon that formed the cross. If it's too lose undo one of the pins and place the ribbon under the cross and secure it with the pin again.
3. Begin wrapping ribbon around the cone as you make your way down the cone. Pin every once in while to secure it. Just a tip, place the pin near the bottom of the ribbon so the next layer covers the pin.
4. As you get to the bottom, try pinning the ribbon under the the cone. If your ribbon isn't wide enough work your down the bottom of the cone and then fold it on a 45 degree angle, securing the ribbon under the bottom of the cone.
5. I also placed a pin inside the fold so that the ribbon didn't  become unfolded. Now if you are worried that the pin might damage the surface its going to sit on you could try gluing a piece of felt on the bottom of the cone.

I've got a few more polyfoam cones in different sizes plus some silver ribbon so I'm going to wrap a few with silver ribbon to create a small little Ribbon Wrapped Christmas Tree community. I'll just have to find a safe place to put them so that four sets of little fingers don't get them before the big day.

So what do you think? The possibilities for these trees are endless, you could use fabric, burlap, a jumper, sequins. See I told you, endless possibilities.


Friday, 22 November 2013

Edible Christmas Gifts

Over the weekend I was invited to a birthday party and I wasn't sure what to get the birthday girl so I opted for a Edible Gift. Now with it been so close to Christmas you could also use these as gifts for unexpected guests, neighbours or even as a Secret Santa gift. Now this little project only took a couple of hours to do because I had to wait for my cookies to cool down but you could make them the night before and decorate them the following morning if you wanted to.
The best thing about this gift is you can make your their favourite cookie because you know they'll end up eating them. I went with a Shortbread biscuit because it was simple and I always have success with Shortbread. I also used a cookie cutter to get a star shape but you can simply save yourself time by forming cookies out of your dough. This is the recipe I used for my Shortbread.
250g butter, softened
1 cup Castor sugar
1 cup cornflour
2 cups plain flour
1. Preheat your oven to 150°C and grease a baking tray.
2. Cream butter and sugar until its light, fluffy and it looks white.
3. Sift cornflour and flour together. Mix on a slow speed until your mixture forms a ball.
4. On a lightly floured surface knead well and roll out to a thickness of about 0.5cm.
5. Using your cookie cutter, cut out your shapes or just cut into pieces.
6. Place on your greased tray and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Leave on the baking tray to harden slightly once they have come out of the oven, then place on a wire cooling rack.
Now with this simple recipe I was able to present three in three different ways, thus making them ideal for gift giving. I could use the as Christmas Presents, Birthday Presents or as a House warming present. You are only limited by your imagination. So with this in mind here is what I came up with.
Now because I wanted to give these as a birthday gift I decided to dress them up a little to make them prettier. If I was giving these as Christmas gifts I would have crushed a few candy cane and sprinkled them over the top of the chocolate just to add a bit of colour. Once decorated I placed each biscuit into a small clear cake bag however, next time I would put them on a pretty plate to give out. The plate would also be included in the gift.
On the day of the birthday party my father was there so I also gave him some Shortbread as a house warming present. This way he would have something sweet and nice to eat while having a cup of tea after spending hours unpacking boxes. Next time I have to find a house warming gift I'm going to package up some yummy cookies, tea and coffee so that the new home owners will have a nice treat at the end of a long day unpacking.
So what do you think are edible gifts a good idea or do you like to give personal gifts? I'm happy with these as I know that both the birthday girl and my father will enjoy eating the cookies and I've saved them from having to find a place for their gifts.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Mushrooms with Spinach, Ham and Cottage Cheese on Toast.

For the last two years I have been eating the same thing for breakfast day in and day out. Sometimes I add something extra like yoghurt or almonds but generally I'll have thirty-five grams of muesli and a splash of skim milk. The other day I decided that I wanted something different, something that the children wouldn't want to steal but also something that was low in Propoints. I purchased a Weight Watchers cookbook some months ago and I'm afraid to say that I looked through the book and then I hid it away on the shelf in the kitchen.
Most mornings I don't have much time to eat my breakfast BUT today I was going to take the time to not only eat my breakfast but enjoy it. I opened up the book to the breakfast section, found the Mushrooms with Spinach, Ham and Cottage Cheese recipe that went with a slice of toast. While I was getting organised, my eight year old asked if he could have it too because he also wanted something different. As he eats a Toasted English Muffin with nothing on it every morning I jumped at the chance to have him eat something tastier and more nutritional. I have to say that the most difficult part was getting a good photograph because it was raining outside and we both wanted to taste our breakfast BUT I made him wait and it was well worth it.
Mushrooms with Spinach, Ham and Cottage Cheese on Toast.
Serves 2
Ingredients:200g Swiss brown mushrooms, quartered
80g fat-free ham, chopped
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 40g slices of soy and linseed bread, toasted
1/4 cup Weight Watchers Cottage Cheese
1. Lightly spray a large non-stick frying pan with oil and heat over a medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Add ham and spinach and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the spinach has just wilted. Add vinegar and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, toast your bread and spread with cottage cheese. Top toast with the mushroom mixture and enjoy with a glass of juice or a hot drink.
Now if you're not a fan of cottage cheese you can swap the cottage cheese for the same amount of ricotta cheese. If you follow this recipe you'll only be using 4 Propoints for this tasty breakfast. I'm pleased to say that I'm going to be adding this to my breakfast menu and when the rest of the family is enjoying a breakfast of bacon and eggs I'll be having a healthier alternative.
So are you like me and have the same thing every morning or do you change your breakfast depending on the mood you're in?

Monday, 18 November 2013

Weight Watchers Mushroom Quiche

Over the weekend I cooked up a storm so I thought I'd share with you this week a few of the recipes that I tried. In January of this year I joined Weight Watchers to lose some of the baby weight that I've been charging around for the last few years. Now during the last eleven months I've struggled to lose 4 kilograms so after this weeks meeting I decided it was time to put more effort into my weight lose journey.
When I arrived home I grabbed one of my Weight Watchers cookbooks, after enjoying a quick coffee at our local shopping centre my weekly menu was completed. Now I alternate between meat and vegetable based meals each week, this allows me to keep the grocery bill down and have the children eat vegetable especially when they're fussy eaters. I decided to start the week off with a vegetable based meal and to make it more special for the children I made individual quiches for them. When it came time to make dinner I realised I had a piece of roast pork leftover from a previous meal so I cheated and I added it to the quiche. The beauty of this recipe is that it allows you to simply add other ingredients that you may have and then you've created a quiche that's unique and personalised to your family's likes and dislikes.
Mushroom Quiche
2 sheet of puff pastry
200g button mushrooms, halved
200g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 eggs
3/4 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup Weight Watchers cottage cheese
1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C or 180°C for a fan forced. Lightly spray a 20cm round container.
2. Defrost your puff pastry and when it's soft cut out a circle to fit the base of your baking container. With the remaining pastry cut it into stripes and use these to form the sides of your quiche. Place tin onto a baking tray.
3. Spray frying pan with cooking spray and turn it up to medium heat. Add mushrooms, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Cool slightly.
4. Whisk eggs, milk, chives and Parmesan in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon cooled mushroom mixture into the pastry case. Pour egg mixture over filling and dollop with tablespoons of cottage cheese.
5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until pastry is golden and filing is set. Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve with a garden salad.
Now when I added the pork to our quiche I cooked it with the mushrooms. If you're going to add any additional vegetables or meats I'd fry them off with the mushrooms and garlic. This will allow you time to cool the vegetables/meats so that they're ready for the egg mixture.
The above recipe is only 4 points on the Weight Watchers program here in Australia however with the few additional changes I made it worked out to be 6 points. So what's you're favourite quiche I'd love to here what you and your family enjoy eating.
I have a little bit of housekeeping for you, remember to entry the Santa Giveaway for your chance to win a $150 dollar Amazon gift card as entries close very soon. Click the on image below to be taken to the competition page and good luck.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Ombre Christmas Ornament

Christmas is getting closer and I've been madly pinning things to my Pinterest board in the hope of actually getting some Christmas ornaments made this year. Last week I showed you my Bell Wreath Christmas Ornament which you can find here and that little baby is going off to my daughter's Kindy teacher. Now giving gift to teacher's is great but our tree really needs some ornaments too, especially this year as I've decided to go with a colour theme. I've decided to use purple and silver as I really love those two colours together and it's somewhat regal.
My daughter's are super excited as purple is their FIRST favourite colour closely followed by every other colour of the rainbow. So when I found this DIY Ombre Ornament I just knew I had to make it straight away. I quickly glanced at the materials needed and off to the shops I went. That was my first mistake as I hadn't read the instructions properly and I hadn't looked at the pictures correctly either. I purchased a bag of polystyrene balls instead of using the plastic baubles that Heather used. My second mistake was I didn't grab enough paint samples from the hardware store so I had to punch my 1 inch circles out and I have the name of the paint showing.
Now the rule generally is that you'll usually make three mistakes before your 'bad luck' has finished and this is true to form for me. So I had one more mistake to make. In my defence I've been on my own with the children for the last three days as my husband is away on business so I'm extremely tired because the children haven't been sleeping like they usually do. I knew I was tired and impatient as I really wanted to get one of these baubles finished so I could show it off to the girls.
Now Heather has great instructions and she also took part in a craft video that'll show you each step and how it should look. I didn't watch the video and I just skimmed the instructions because I thought how hard can it be? It was hard, the first step of sticking down the one inch circle on the bottom of the bauble was by far the easiest.

As you can see I have no structure to my ornament. I think that my bauble was smaller than Heather's and my one inch circle punch is too big. I did achieve the Ombre effect but it's not your prettiest ornament and I now if these were hanging in the shop this Christmas season I would walk right past them as they don't appeal to me.
I'm going to keep this ornament and hang it on the Christmas Tree but I'm now on the look out for something else I can do with the other eleven silver baubles as we have too much silver for our tree and not enough purple ornaments. I'd love to hear about any problems you've had and what did you do with the ornament? Tell me I'm not the only DIYer on the planet who's ever had a fail.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Dear Santa Giveaway

Today's a very special day for me because my little blog is participating in its first ever giveaway, its just time for Christmas which makes it even more special. In June I meet a lovely bunch of bloggers and while doing this course I got to experience thing I never dreamt I would. One of the highlights for me about been part of this group means that I get to let you know about this great giveaway that I'm part of. One of the other good things is that it's opened to everyone which is always a bonus. I'd like to thank Kara for the invitation to join and for also doing all the behind the scenes work.

Santa's getting ahead of himself and has dropped off a little cash for one lucky person. Who doesn't need a little extra money over the Christmas period?


So good luck and get entering! Next week I'll be sharing some more Christmas Ornaments.


Monday, 11 November 2013

Something exciting is coming....

I mentioned last week that Christmas was only a matter of weeks away. For me these few weeks will be filled organising, planning, shopping and making sure I've got everything I need. I have something very exciting happening in the next few days so I hope that you come back to see how I might be able to help you create a great Christmas for you and your family.
I won't be posting much this week as Mr Opoes is away on a business trip and I'll be manning the home front all on my lonesome. I've got plans to make a few Christmas Ornaments while my husband is away but this will all depend on how the kids and I go. I got all my supplies over the weekend however I've had a few issues with a circle punch I purchased so I'll have to go and get another one. Fingers crossed this on works.
If you want to know more about what my exciting news you might be come visit me on Facebook link is at the top right corner of my blog to see more. You might even be lucky to see my new and improved hole punch. Can't wait to share my exciting news with you.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Bell Wreath Christmas Ornament

With Christmas only 47 days away so I've decided to get started on a few DIY Christmas ornaments that we'll be giving to the teacher's this year. Mackenna loves her Kindy teacher. This can mean we'll spend ages at the shops looking for the 'perfect gift' and this busy end of year school mum ain't no body got time for that. So with this mindset I knew we had to start putting our thinking caps on now or else I'd be running around like a headless chook trying to find a gift that none of the other mother's would have gotten. 
I search Pinterest for some inspiration and I was able to find a few things that I thought Mackenna would like to give Karen as a gift. One of the ornaments that she really liked was Martha Stewart's button wreath ornament and it seemed really easy to make, so we took a trip to the local $2 dollar store to see what we could find. Now Martha's version requires 72 buttons, there was only one packet that contained 24 buttons so this meant I'd have to purchase three packets but as the store only had one packet left I needed more buttons. When I added up the costs involved for all the materials as I only had scissors it just didn't seem like a quick and inexpensive present. So while we were searching for additional buttons I found a packet of gold Sleigh Bells. So I grabbed this packet with Mackenna's blessing and we then popped over to Lincraft to get some ribbon.
I've written up a tutorial on how I made the Bell Wreath but I did get Mackenna to help a few times were it was possible.
Materials Needed
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Sleigh Bells
  • Scissors
  • Satin ribbon
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
1. Using pliers, make a small loop at one end of the pipe cleaner. I trimmed some of the fibres off both ends just so that I could see what I was working with.
2. Thread the bells onto the pipe cleaner until you have enough to form the size of the wreath you want. My packet of sleigh bells came in three different sizes so I just threaded a small, medium and large bell on repeating this pattern until it would make a wreath.
3. Using the pliers, bend the plain end of the pipe cleaners around the looped end. This will form the wreath. If you have too much of the pipe cleaner left cut off any excess.
4. Cut a piece of ribbon to make a loop for hanging the wreath, tie the ribbon in a knot about three inches above the wreath. My piece of ribbon was nine inches long.
5. Tie a bow that you're happy with and glue it to the bottom of your loop just above the bells.
I had Mackenna help thread the bells onto the pipe cleaner and I made sure I asked her if she was happy with the way it looked while I moved through the steps. I'm really happy with the way the wreath turned out and this little Christmas ornament ended up costing me $1.00 which means we can now purchase a few small chocolates to accompany the Christmas ornament.
Giving Karen her gift at the end of November will allow her to add it to her Christmas tree this year and she can eat the chocolates during lunch time while at kindy. I have a few additional tasks for Mackenna as I want her to have more of a connection to the gift she is giving Karen. I'm going to get Mackenna to choose a few mini chocolate bars for Karen, I'm going to get her to wrap the present and Mackenna will practise her writing skills by writing a special note of thanks to Karen.
I'm really happy with my attempt at this bell wreath and I'm glad I tried something that I could find a tutorial for. So tell me will you be making your own ornaments this year, using the ornaments you already have, will you be purchasing new ones or will you be doing a combination of some of these options? I'm doing a combination of making some ornaments and using what we already have.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Simple way to add COLOUR

When we built our house last year we purposely kept the colour palette simple, this would allow us to insert our own personality into the house. I've spent hours looking on Pinterest, looking through decorating magazines and talking it over with Mr Opoes we decided that COLOUR was a great way to add style, fun and our personality into our home. We're happy we stuck with a simple palette, it will allow us to change the décor easily and inexpensively with a few additional items.

One feature that we've made permanent in the kitchen was the three orange pendant lights which I've talked about here and here. I knew at the beginning of the building process that I wanted pendant lights but I wanted something different from what all the shops were selling on mass. With each shop I visited the sales assistant would try to sell me a red pendant light and none of them were what I wanted. I'm glad I stuck to my guns as it would have made it very difficult to choose another colour to pair up with red. The other week I shared with you the pantry storage containers that I transformed to hold all my Tupperware. Each basket has a section of it sprayed hot pink and this is the colour that we've chose to use in our living room and kitchen.
So the other weekend I decided that I would add a small amount of colour to the kitchen area using the same pink colour that I'd used on the baskets. Sitting off to the side of my gas oven I have a small bamboo utensil holder and it looks pretty sad sitting there. So I used some painters tape and I taped off the area I wanted to colour block.  I gave it a spray of primer just in case the spray paint didn't cover the bamboo fully. When the undercoat was dry I then gave it a light spray of pink before following it up with another coat of the pink. I allowed these two coats to dry before deciding whether or not I needed to do another coat. I was happy with the two coats so I removed the painters tape and I added three felt feet to the bottom of the container as a little bit of paint had stuck to the bottom and I didn't want to have hot pink paint all over my Ceasarstone bench top.
I am really happy with how it turned out and I'm really happy that I took the time to do this little project as it's added a little bit of colour to the stove area without overpowering it. I've also added a small hand crafted wooden bowl in the same space to hold the keys and even though the woods are different they just seem to work well together. Now I have a few other ideas of how to add a bit more pink into the  space but I'll have to save for a while before I'm able to add anymore things to the space.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Mini German Pancakes

Usually when I share a recipe with you, I label it 'Try Something New Tuesday',  I have great things to say about the recipe and I take some pretty average pictures. Unfortunately, today I have a few great pictures and a bad recipe. I first saw this recipe last week on Facebook when my sister shared it and immediately I fell in love with them, I wanted to make them for breakfast on the weekend. The picture is what sold them plus three super excited children who also wanted to try the Mini German Pancakes.

Weekend sleep in's in our house are non existent. Viveca woke me at 5.30am, to inform me we hadn't given her medicine last night and she really needed it. As I was somewhat awake I thought it would be a good time to try out the Mini German Pancakes for Sunday breakfast. Viveca was also excited because it meant she could sit beside me and watch without having to compete with three other children all vying for a look see. Now, these mini pancakes looked very technical. I made sure I read the instructions a few times just to get an understanding of what I needed to do. I think the biggest mistake I made was, not reading the comment section from the original source Real Mom Kitchen.
At last count there were 177 comments left on her blog relating to this recipe. The majority of people who left comments weren't happy with the outcome, the number of eggs used and the taste. If I was to leave a comment I would have to agree with the people who stated that their Mini German Pancakes looked more like muffins than a pancake with a creator in it (wish I'd read this before I started, would have saved six eggs).

Mini German Pancakes
1 cup milk
6 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted.
icing sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400° F. (200°C oven or 180°C fan forced oven)
2. blend the first six ingredients (from milk to orange zest) in a blender. Be careful to blend any flour clumps that may form as you don't want floury pancakes.
3. Blend in the butter a little at a time in order to temper the eggs.
4. Grease your muffin tins well and distribute the batter evenly between the tins, try to have each time half or three quarters full. (use a measuring cup to fill the muffin tin may assist)
5. Bake for 15 minutes or until puffy and golden on top.
6. Once out of the oven a creator should appear, dust with icing sugar and fill with the your favourite fruit or topping.

Even though I won't make these again the children didn't seem to mind them. Viveca enjoyed the fruit more so it wasn't a total waste of time but I would call it a FAIL. I could have made the pancakes and the children could have eaten all their breakfast in the time it took me to make these fancier pancakes. I thought I'd share a picture of the finished product with you so you can see what mine looked like. Overall, the children liked these more because of the icing sugar and the fruit than they did the overall taste. I had a little taste and I found them to be tasteless which was very disappointing. I won't be making these again. So tell me, have you made something only to find it was a complete FAILURE?