Sunday, February 27

fancy pants - Brunch anyone?

A special little outing this morning for the whole family - we were invited over for brunch at a friends place.  A lovely mother and her daughter whom I meet whilst we were at swimming lessons with our children.  We bonded instantly, and have since become lovely friends... it was time for our husbands to meet.  Is it just me, or is that a time where you nervously wait to see if they'll get along (hoping?) - no need to worry, they bonded too and before long they were talking like old friends!

We were spoilt with delicious breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast, coffee and treats. I baked a walnut coffee cake and our kids were excited about playing with their new friend.  

Melbourne has put on a typically miserable day today and I hate to think Summer is truely over (boo hoo!).  I still needed to feel as I was dressing for summer, so choose this summery dress, but of course added some layers to keep me warm.

These are the only shoes I've bought this season, and I love them.  The neutral colour means they go with everything and the height is just perfect (ie, not too high!!).  I also got some pink Clinique lippy from a friend that I wasn't sure was my kind of colour - but I tried it out and I really like the soft girly pink.

Linking up with this fancy gal - join us!

dress - gift from my Nonna (she bought it on her last trip to Italy)
cardi - oh it's so old i can't remember!
tights - target
shoes - betts
earrings - sportgirl
bangles - tilkah
lippy - clinique - kissfit

Saturday, February 26

I'm grateful for...{diaries}

I love that we can start the weekend off with so much positivity.  Grateful day, is a special way, that does make me stop and appreicate, reflect and perhaps be a little less cynical or selfish.

I'm joining in with the ever entertaining Maxabella Loves....

And I'm grateful for...

1. Diaries - I've always been a diary kind-of-gal.  The kind that writes in appointments, carries one everywhere and feels lost without it.  At school, i would decorate my diary with an inch of it's life, cutting out gorgeous male models    pictures, and photos, paper and drawings just to make it look lovely.  Now with my delightful Frankie diary - Diary writing just got a whole lot cuter.

2. Games - at the moment, my kids love to play "hide and seek" together and sometimes with me.  I love how they can hide in the same spot over and over (or tell me where to hide whilst they count) and still act just as surprised when they find me hiding in the bushes for the tenth time just like they told me too! It just makes me giggle endlessly.

3. Sweet Surprise - I was the lucky recipient of a lovely giveaway from Louise at Vintage by Lou Lou - I received the most amazingly scented candle - lemon biscotti!  Yes, for those that know me, would know how much this scent would appeal to me....well, it smells so good, i'm so tempted to eat it!

for more gratefuls...head over here...

I have no idea where this image is from - so if you know, please let me know! 

Thursday, February 24

my creative space...{superhero status}

Along with promising to make more of my own clothes this year, I've also made a little pact to make the kids more costumes for dress ups.  I think I got slack in this department because my son was never really into ever "dressing up" when younger, but now that his wee little sister likes to change outfits 4 or 5 times a day, I've realised that this is one area that I could contribute to quite easily.

So when a friend asked for some capes for her kids, I thought it would a good start to whip up four instead of just two.  I made them reversible - a bright bold colour and a contrasting pattern.

So now, my little superheros can fly around the back yard or spin around with delight.   It's also given me a little idea I'm working on for my next market.

For more super dooper creations - head over here! 

Tuesday, February 22

the perfect cake {coffee and almond crunch cake}

This cake is the bomb, and i seem to make it time and time again.  I've just made it actually and it's baking away slowly and the smell is intoxicating!  After cleaning all the mess that comes from baking with too little ones that need to crack eggs, sift flour, lick spoons and eat little piles of slivered almonds, my darling husband asked if I'd be putting this onto The Blob (yes, i meant blob - that's what he calls it).  I rolled my eyes and confirmed to him that most certainly I would have posted about this recipe long ago..

...but alas i have not!  Travesty!  This recipe is too good for me to keep to myself.  It is one of Gordon Ramsey's  and I have to say that I've added a bit of my own touch...which of course I prefer...

So here is the recipe;

170g unsalted butter
170g caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp almond essence
100g almond meal
4 tbsp strong espresso coffee
100g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
small handful of slivered almonds
icing sugar - to dust.

crunch topping;
60g plain flour
40g brown sugar
40g cold butter, diced
50g slivered almonds

1. preheat oven to 150 degrees and prepare a 20cm cake time with a removable base.  Mix the ingredients for the crunch topping by rubbing in the sugar, butter and flour until the resembles breadcrumbs, then add the almonds and lightly incorporate.  set aside.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy - I used my kitchen aid, but you could use hand held beaters. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated.  Add the almond essence and mix well. Fold in the almond meal, followed by half the espresso.  Sift in the flour and baking powder together and fold this through the wet mixture.  Finally fold in the remaining espresso and the small handful of slivered almonds.
3. Spread the mixture into the cake tin and level with a spatula.  Sprinkle the crunch topping evenly over the top, bake for 45-55 minutes until the top is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin.
4. When cool, dust with icing sugar, then serve!

I like to enjoy it with a strong cup of tea so you can taste the flavour of the coffee in the cake!  Or an almond flavoured liqueur!


I am loving my little babushka measuring cups too (first pic) - they stay on the bench and get used at every opportunity!  aren't they just so sweet? 

Sunday, February 20

A made-to-measure kind of fancy

 I made a bit of a promise to myself that this year I would try and make more clothes for myself.

Well, so far so good.  I was visiting a lovely fashionista blogger - Jacinta, a few weeks back when I noticed this outfit she was wearing and commented on how fabulous her skirt was.  When she replied stating that it was a simple design with elastic in the back, my mind started ticking..... with a Spotlight voucher sitting idle in my purse for 7 months I raided my draw full of patterns and headed off on a mission.  I was really worried once I got home that I'd made the wrong fabric choice....the green, seemed, well - too green. But I really loved the bright peachy/pink roses and that hint of black throughout had me thinking it would be ideal to team it up with a simple black singlet.

Of course, I didn't follow the pattern to the letter - i made it up as I went.  I cut the skirt on the bias, added an invisible zipper on the side, and then added some really light weight interfacing to the front facing, and only made a casing at the back for the elastic.  I didn't want to do elastic all the way round and have it bunching up at the front!

 It was virtually a made-to-measure skirt as I had it all done, except the length of elastic to feed through the back, so I tried it on, pulled the elastic until it was the right tension and sitting just slightly above my hips.

And since this fabric was marked down, it cost around $16 to make!  I've paid much more for a pair of trackies!

I'll be here today - selling cute little floral skirts for little girls, cards, key fobs and if your around, pop in and say hi!

Join with Kym in her weekly Fancy Pants link up!

Singlet - Cotton On
Belt - Dotti
Skirt - Made by me!
Bracelet - bought in a small stall on the side of the road in Rome, Italy (ohhh memories!)


Saturday, February 19

I'm grateful for {THOSE questions}

It can't be Saturday again?  Surely not...., but alas it is and it means I get to link up with the ever so talented Bron, at Maxabella Loves!

If you've followed my blog for a little while, you might remember I have made reference a few times to my son's growing need to ask more and more questions.  And then I blogged about this particularly funny comment my son made about when he was a baby.

Well, I think this week I need to be grateful for the ever challenging questions getting thrown at me at any given point by my 4.5 year old son...

The other night at dinner the conversation went like this;

him; Mum - how do babies come out of tummy's?
me; A baby doctor helps
him; oh - but how?
me; the mummy goes to hospital and the baby doctor helps the mummy get the baby out.
him; are there baby doctors at the hospital?
me; yes, mostly, and nurses.
him; but how does the baby doctor take the baby out of the mummy's tummy?
me; the baby doctors are very clever and know how to do it.
him; but how?
me; I'm not a baby doctor.
him; but did you go do hospital and have a baby doctor take me out.
me; yes
him; BUT HOW????

(arrggghhhhh - do I need to use the word vagina at the dinner table!) No, i think not.

me; hows your dinner?
him; may I have more sauce please? *

me; (phew!)**

Happy Grateful Day xx


*and yes, after long and repetitive nurturing, we have manners! 
**Clearly I know this is only a temporary solution - perhaps I need to get the picture above! 

Thursday, February 17

my creative space...{admiration for handmade}

...I've had a little influx of handmade goodies come my way lately.  So instead of showing you what I'm making, I'll show you some others' goodies that have found their way to my place...

I think once you start opening up your mind and eyes to the world of handmade, and once you start giving handmade, and little cycle begins....

...These are some lovely treasures that have been bestowed upon me...

My crafty bestie Nicola  has returned from living in WA for four years is now only a suburb away....we have known each other since we were in nappies and our mum's were drinking tea from fine China and discussing perms, nylons and the best slow cook recipes from the Weekly.  Nicola and I have been busy chatting away our next crafting projects, have plans to do an upholstery course and have already planned some thrifting expeditions.

Nicola surprised me the other day with a gorgeous set of hand-crafted coasters and a lovely oven mitt.

A gorgeous bloggy friend known to many of you, also surprised with some very sweet handmade delights.  This gorgeous embroidered artwork takes pride and place near my dressing table - embroidered are the words 'somewhere over the rainbow' - and seeing it everyday really brings a smile to my face.

 I also have this little gorgeous garden ornament which is made using recycled materials - including an old railway nail!  Given to me by another gorgeous friend. 

What's happening in your space - check out more creativity here!

Wednesday, February 16

almond toffee slice

I got right into the baking these holidays.  This is one we made a while ago, but was one of my favourites, so thought i would share the recipe.  It has been oodles of fun picking a recipe - getting the kids to help out.  My son has cracking the eggs down pat, whilst my daughter is definitley the taste tester - licking the spoon is essential!!!  This recipe, is quick and easy so make it after breakfast and it'll be ready for morning tea!  It's got a lovely soft base, and irresistible toffee top...hmmmm yum!

60g soft butter
1 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp plain flour
90g butter, additional
1/2 cup caster sugar, additional
2/3 cup flaked almonds

1. preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. cream butter, ground almonds and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and flour and beat well until combined.  Spoon into greased and lined slice tin.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.
3. Place additional butter and sugar in a smal saucepan.  Bring to the boil over medium-high heat and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the sugar starts to caramalise, stiring often.  Don't worry if at any stage, it looks as if you have made a big white, pasty blob - it will gradually darken and become smooth.
4. Remove from the heat, add flaked almonds and pour and spread evenly over the base. Set aside to cool before cutting into squares.

Perfect with your morning cuppa

Sunday, February 13

a proper fancy pants

Oh Melbourne - what are you doing??  Where is our Summer?  Please someone explain to me why we are being so short changed this season.  I kid you not, I was in my winter dressing gown this morning and trying to hunt out my winter slippers (not that I have summer ones, but you get my drift)...

....This morning we headed out just to a nice local little deli - one where we can buy the best ricotta donuts known to man.  I was adamant that even though the temperature was still in the teens, I was not going to winter-ise my outfit....

...This is a skirt I've had pre-children and I've always struggled with how to wear it.  It's quite voluminous, busy in detail and sometime's i even think it's a bit too nanna.....

...But on a hunt in my wardrobe, I teamed it with a simple top and cardi and minimal accessories.  The belt was too long to do up around my waist, so I ended up tying it up before looping it through the buckle.  A quick messy bun higher up than usual and this outfit was Prim and Proper for the likes of Sunday Church rather than indulging in delicacies...

I'm joining in with the fanciest of fancies - Kym!  do come and see what other's have fashioned this week!

skirt - local shop years and years ago!
top - dotti
cardi - dotti
belt - dotti
headbands - diva
bag - sportsgirl
shoes - bought by my mum in italy!

Saturday, February 12

I'm grateful for {one-on-one}

It's that time again - Maxabella Love's Grateful day....and this is what I'm grateful for..

1. Smooth transitions - The big boy started four year old Kinder this week, back where he was last year's three year old kinder, so it was familiar surroundings, familiar little faces and he took to it like a duck to much so, that this morning he asked to go to Kinder today....

2. One-on-one time - Oh, I'd forgotten what it was like to just have one child, but now that the boy is doing four sessions of Kinder a week, it gives me time to soak up time with my little girl that up until now, has always had to share my attention with her older brother... one week in and we've been shopping, playing tea parties, gymbaroo-ing, going for walks and just chatting.  Bliss!

3. freshly baked - I baked these cookies this morning.  I've just made myself a cuppa (it's cold in Melbourne if you were wondering!!!) just so I've an excuse to have yet another of these delicious biscuits.  I do love the smell of fresh baked goodies....

Friday, February 11

what style are you???

Maxabella asked the question
Absolute Novice did the same
Now me...
I'm loving Polyvore too by the way (yeah, thanks Bron!)

So what style are you?? I found it really hard to describe...I have moods, moments, and then a lot of those 'can't be bothered - where are my favourite trackies??' days!!
I'd love to say my style is a mixture of feminine and practical. I've realised that it's been ages since I bought a pair of pants (trousers to you English folk) and my last few purchases were dresses or skirts. I'm embracing the cinched waist and love to add a dash of personality with a bright colour or interesting accessories. The practical side of me has me toting around in my large enough floral bag and flat shoes are essential for this SAHM!! I hardly wear make-up an even when i do, it's limited to tinted moisteriser, a bit of cheek tint and some gloss - two minutes and i'm done!!

So - what style are you?? Go on have some fun at Polyvore - you'll love it!

Thursday, February 10

the race i didn't win.....{my creative space}

I've never won a race, or any sporting event for that matter....

truth is, I am somewhat hopeless at sport - it's ok, I've accepted that fact now, but growing up - it was hard to understand my uncoordinated ways.  Especially when my melbournian dwelling family uprooted and moved to small hick country town when I was at the tender age of 12.

hmm...what is a girl supposed to do?  play netball?  I tried.  Compete in cross country?  I walked it... swim?   I think dog paddle would have been a more fitting description of my abilities...

So on school sports day - I would strategically avoid having to do anything, volunteering to be "stop watch girl, rake the long jump sand, hand out oranges, anything so I didn't have to try and jump over the high jump bar again only to land on it causing much bruising and pain!

Unfortuantly the day came, that I could no longer avoid these sports days - I was 16, and my name was put down for the 1500m run....what?  You want me to run and you want me to run 1500m??  Are you crazy I told the sport coordinator as I hitched up my knee high school socks and checked my hair in the reflection of his glasses...snobby i was not, Cathy Freeman-esque certainly not, but I just knew this wasn't my thing...

So sports day came, and this was my only event.  I prepared like any good athlete does - I found my pair of sneakers tucked away in the back of the cupboard!  I lined up with my fellow runners - all seven of us.  Safe to say, we looked ridiculous as we were the "un-sporty" group that got the raw end of the sports day stick!

The gun went off and I bolted (I had no idea it was 3 laps of the track!!) and I ran my little borrowed sports socks off!  About half way and I thought I was going to pass out, but I had quite a lead on geek girl, IT nerd boy, quietly spoken exchange student and lanky tall boy.  So I kept going and you know what?

I came third!  3rd - me....I think i nearly passed out with surprise and sheer exhaustion.  This has been my first and only ribbon that doesn't say "participant acheivment" on it!  I treasured it and took it home with pride, only to have my parents look back with stunned faces and say...

"oh were there only three of you in the race?"

So with some cute little thrifted motifs I scored at the oppy a while ago I whipped up some medals for the kids.  They get to wear them for random acts that make me proud....

 now, get ready.....set....GO - to Kirsty's to check out more creative winners!!!!

Wednesday, February 9

lemon tart

We had our very good friends over the other day for dinner and were remincing at how we met....

.....we were both new mothers (my boy around 6 months old and her little bundle was but a mere newborn!).

It was at an auction down the road as.... Hubby and I were thinking of renovating our small little art deco home but we weren't sure if we should sell up and buy something a little bigger...we went to check it out and so did Paula and Jay.

As mothers with young children do - we eye'd each other off, admired each other's babies and said our goodbyes.  Luckily we bumped into each other a few months later at the local library - quickly started chatting and swapped numbers!  That was over four years ago.  I don't know where I would be without my Kiwi neighbour who leaves me delectable goodies in my letterbox, or who I would chat to about newly found recipes, op shop finds or tantrumming toddlers and dinner dillema's. 

So with Hubby in charge of the bbq aspect of the meal, I was left to dessert as I had kindly requested that Paula make me this salsa!

So I made a lemon tart! And I thought I would share the recipe....


2 cups flour
150g soft butter, diced
pinch salt
1 egg
1/4 cup caster sugar
plain flour for dusting

place the flour, butter and salt in a bowl and rub together until the mixture resembles fine breadcumbs.  Break the egg into a separate bowl, add caster sugar and mix lightly.  Add to the flour mixture and mix the until the pastry comes together.  Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees.

Roll the pastry on a lightly floured board to 3mm thickness.  Line a 25cm flan tin with the pastry working your finger around the side of the tin to make sure the pastry is pushed down into the corners.  Trim off any excess with a knife.

Prick the base of the pastry shell with a fork and rest for 30 minutes. Line the pastry with baking paper, then add baking beans or rice.  Blind bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven.  Remove paper and weights and bake for another 5 minutes.

Lemon Tart

4 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
grated zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup lemon juice
250g melted butter
1 1/4 ground almonds
and cream to serve

With oven preheated at 180 degrees....
Beat eggs and sugar until lighht and doubled in size - about 10 minutes!
Add lemon zest and juice, butter and almonds, then mix together gently.

Pour into blind-baked tart shell and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown and set.

Serve and room temperature with cream.


Tuesday, February 8

my NEW bling....

OK, so this little Valentine's Day inspired link up - where we share some of loved and treasured bling could not have come at a better time.... Before I start - let it be clear that I don't really conspire to the notion that is Valentine's Day (nor does hubby) - I think I would prefer to receive or give a little sign of romance on any other day - but i digress....

you see...hubby and I just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary and a few month prior, hubby dropped a big hint that he wanted to get me ring - and he needed my help!

So with a visit to our local and lovely jeweller, my favourite bling, happens to be my NEW bling....

It's white gold, with diamonds around the band...the main stone is a brilliant cut set in a four claw setting.  She sparkles and shines and it's a lovely reminder of ten years spent together.

 Do you know what stone it is??  I was surprised!  Have a guess....

And do post up a story about your bling that you love and link up with Maxabella and Gifts of Serendipity on Valentines Day!  Click on the side bar image for more bling-licious detail!


Monday, February 7

a fancy award!

A week or so ago the lovely Tamara from One Craftee Mumma awarded me the Stylish Blogger Award and I was tickled pink!  So I thought what better way to celebrate this award than during a fashion post, linking up with stylish diva Kymmie with her Fancy Pants link up.....

And instead of detailing seven random things about me, I'll make them all "style" here goes.

1.  I've always loved fashion and would make scrapbooks filled with outfits I loved, cut out from magazines - unfortunately due to no ability to draw, my attempt at fashion design was all but a dream.

2.  I've learnt to know what suits my body shape - this can take some time (and it's ever evolving - kids will do that to you!).  When so many stores are dictated what is fashionable (and then repeated in every store), it can be difficult, but I try to be true to my shape, and don't buy into the craze  - instead opting for accessories.

3.  And on that point, I think accessories make a great (and cheap) addition to any wardrobe.  Be it a belt, cocktail ring, large hoops or thrifted scarf - you can turn any drab outfit into fab!

4.  If you're not sure - take a photo!  Of yourself that is - since doing these fashion posts on my blog, I've learnt sometimes the only way to really see what you look like is to snap a pic....

5. I enjoy injecting style into our home too - from photos, to antique furniture and home-made artwork.  Creating a personal and warm home environment is just like creating a nice outfit.   It's fun to think outside the square - and blogland offers endless inspiration!

6. I plan on making more of my own clothes this year.

7.  A bright coloured winter overcoat is on my wish list!!!

Now I have a duty to pass this Stylish Blogger award on - so here are a few blogs that are indeed - very stylish!

notes from holly st
model mumma
green apples
kitchen maid

Photos taken by;  my 4 year old son!

Maxi Dress - from local dress shop
Cardigan - Portmans (because Melbourne had a typically cold day!)
Sandals - Target
Earrings - Diva
Sunglasses - Versace (my splurge from 6 years ago!)

Come and join in some fashionista fun here!