Saturday, December 31, 2011

Macarons by Magaret Fulton

Piped and ready to go in the oven. Mixture too firm.
After actually making the mixture I re-read the heading only to find out that I was making 'macaroons' or Italian Ameretti which is NOT what I wanted at all. No wonder they don't look quite right. Oh well. We'll eat them anyway! : ) Here's the recipe:
2 egg whites; 1 1/3 cups freshly ground almonnds, 1 cup caster sugar, 2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted, extra icing sugar for dusting. 
Beat egg whites to a firm snow and fold in almonds and sugars. Pipe mixture on to squares of greaseproof paper in small round or oval shapes. Dust with icing sugar and leave about 4 hours. Bake macaroonss in a preheated moderately slow oven (160 C/ 325 F) for 15 minutes or until delicately browned. Cool before removing from paper squares. Store in airtight container. Makes 14 - 16.
Not like macarons at all. : (
Well I thought that this was a different way of making macarons and I really just thought that Magaret Fulton had mispelt 'macarons' as 'macaroons' in the recipe. It was only later that I read the part under the title in small type which said 'Amaretti'. Bummer!! I'll taste them tomorrow and let you know how they taste.
So my first new year's resolution to be attempted is an utter failure. Luckily I thrive on getting things right. lol

New Years Resolutions for 2012

2012 is just around the corner and Dave and I have come up with a list of things we'd like to accomplish this coming year. As you can see my list is quite a bit longer than his! I think that I was lucky to drag the 6 resolutions out of him. ; )

What have you decided to do  in 2012?

  1. Complete the Couch to 5K run using my new app!
  2. Read 24 books.
  3. Make some really yummy macarons.
  4. Paint dining room table.
  5. Paint coffee table.
  6. Replace TV cabinet.
  7. Plan meals for the week every week. Perhaps post them so that I'll be accountable and also so that I can rotate weekly menu plans once I have a few of them.
  8. Plan a holiday for my 40th birthday in August.
  9. Escape with Dave and I for a weekend away without any of the children.
  10. Create a mix and match wardrobe with classic pieces that I can build on.
  11. Create a spot in the filing cabinet for Hamish.
  12. Scan in negatives from when Josh and Sammy were little.
  13. Create scrapbooking photo albums for each child for the first 5 years of their lives. (This is already started)
  14. Find my core.
  1. Get to the gym three to four times a week for an hour each time.
  2. Drop 10% of my body weight by my birthday. 
  3. Complete my website business' filing backlog.
  4. Choose and purchase a new car.
  5. Hit the targets for my new business.
  6. Get all my old film and slides professionally scanned.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sitting at last

My two cuties!
A bigger cuddle from Bella.
Hamish is finally sitting! It makes bathing him so much easier on my back. Isabella loves him so much she decided to give him ALL his toys at once and created a mountain of colorful plastic around him. He doesn't get much of a chance to practice sitting with his sister around. She doesn't understand that he needs to just sit by himself sometimes and NOT be cuddled. It is very cute though.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Getting ready for the new year

Christmas has come and gone...
The older two spent Christmas with their father for the entire day for the first time in about 10 years!! Usually we would share Christmas day. Either we would get Christmas Eve and Christmas morning or the rest of Christmas day and then Boxing day. It has worked for us for a long time. It was a way for us to both enjoy Christmas time with the children without either of us feeling like we were missing out.

Their dad had asked me about a month before Christmas if it was okay to do alternate Christmases with the children. I hadn't thought of it until he asked, but I thought it was a good idea. We both have little children and the travelling on Christmas day was getting trickier for both of us. This is the first year that the older children don't believe in Santa anymore. A very sad state of affairs!!

So I decided that we'd have a Christmas Eve brunch. I emailed Santa so that he would bring Sammy and Josh's presents on the morning of Christmas Eve. It was so nice to have them open presents in front of us. Santa even brought a present for Dave and us and even for Isabella and Hamish. Isabella was most impressed!!

We had about 20 adults and about 18 children from 10am until about 6pm when the last of our guests left. I used a website called 'Perfect Potluck' to organise what everyone brought. It was easy to use and you could even send it through Facebook. Easy!!

It was a wonderful day, but it meant that we were all very tired on Christmas day. I'm looking forward to next Christmas when the kids will be with us for the entire day.

I've finally put together my calendar for 2012. I have used the same calendar for the last four years and absolutely love it! You can get it here at the Flylady website. The Flylady is a women that helps organise your life. I felt very lost after I had Isabella, stopped work and moved to the country and I needed some help to get me out of my funk. I liked the way that the Flylady sent emails to me giving me a routine to my day and week. I knew no-one and other than looking after a baby felt like I had no purpose. She was helpful in getting me to establish routines that helped with everything from cleaning to cooking and even teaching, coping with holidays and looking after yourself through exercise. Although I don't feel like I need the site so much anymore, I've really taken on board many ways to simplify my life with routines.

I've got all birthdays and anniversaries put into the calendar, I've made a family fun day alternating Saturdays and Sundays each month, date nights for Dave and I fortnightly throughout the year, all the weeks and terms for the year, public holidays and school holidays and a cleaning roster. I've also given each person in the family a colour on the calendar and also a colour for general stuff and then family stuff.
Dave - dark blue
Me - orange
Josh - light blue
Sammy - red
Isabella - pink
Hamish - green
All of our family - purple
General - grey
I've got a gorgeous set of Kikki K coloured felt tip pens which I love and are perfect for this job.

I'm hoping that this year I'll be even more organised than last year. I'm going to stick labels on everything!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Getting ready for Xmas Eve Brunch

A pity there is no photo of the finished table. A great day!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Baking for Christmas

Choc-chip biscuits made by Sammy.
Pretzel, rolo and pecans. Delicious. Recipe from Michelle. Thank you Michelle!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Carols and Christmas lights

The only photo that worked out unfortunately.
Picnic, carols, too much sugar, fireworks, Christmas lights and ice-creams. Exhausted! A great night spent with great friends!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Craft 2011

Each year I just have to make a little something new for Christmas. This year the internet was instrumental in many of the crafty things that I made. So here goes...
  1. Christmas skirt made after seeing this one on Miss Mustard Seed. It was divine, but I wanted to be able to stick mine in the washing machine. So I needed to sew it. Here is her tutorial. I followed it and modified it as I went.
  2. A felt bauble that I saw on Zakka Life which even had a very easy to follow tutorial.Very cute. I must make these with my students when I go back to work next year. Easy and so pretty.
  3. A white felt bauble with a red snowflake on it. I got the snowflake design from a snowflake on a door that I found on Pinterest. When I clicked through to the link on Pinterest it took me to Ucreate with Kids. I've had a look around and the site looks great.
  4. I made this ruffled Christmas tree from this tutorial from Miss Flibbertigibbet. My ruffled tree doesn't look as nice as this one, but my dear Sammy loves it!
  5. I've also started making a coffee filter wreath that I saw on the Nester. I've run out of coffee filters and so it's only half done. The unfortunate issue I had was that I had bought the wrong sort of filters. I made do with the ones I had and it is looking good. I'll be glad when it's finished.
  6. A made a little felt covered present to hang on the tree. I haven't actually seen one on the internet, but did see a badly made one in Myers which gave me the idea to use my left over sponge from covering my chairs here.
  7. Activities for my advent calendar. I got the idea for it here  at Heather Renz and here at Tip Junkie.
Wow I didn't realise how many things I've made for Christmas. Go me!!

Farewell to primary school

Sammy has finished her last day at primary school with lots of tears and also lots of lovely memories. We've been involved with the school for the last 9 years and it's quite sad for us to be moving on as well. Isabella will be going to a new primary school that is closer to where we live now. The school that Sammy and Josh have been going to is only 6 minutes by car, so they haven't had to travel very far, but we actually have a choice of 6 state primary schools within 6 minutes of us, 3 Catholic primary schools and one private school. That's a lot of choice!! The school we've chosen for Isabella is about 2 minutes up the road from us and is lovely. So although we're leaving a school that we've had nothing but good things to say about, we feel the same about the new school that we'll be starting with Isabella next year.
A beautiful girl!
Standing in front of our Christmas tree at home.
Sammy had a dinner dance at 'Sporties' to celebrate the end of year 6 with her peers. The parents were invited to stay for dinner with siblings downstairs in the club while the dance was on. At 8:30pm we were allowed to go up for the presentation part of the dinner. They started with a few speeches by the teachers and then we got to watch a beautifully edited movie of our babies from their last 7 years of school. It made for lots of 'oohs' and 'aahhh' when the photos and footage of them started in Kindergarten when they were only 4 and 5. So cute!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas with Six Taylors

Front door.
Entrance. Craft room to the right. Dining room to the left.
Welcome to our house. We're having our first Christmas with our newest little man, Hamish. Come on in and have a look around.
Close up of the top of our buffet.
Wreath close up.
Santas on a shelf in the kitchen.
Little shiny tree in the kitchen.
Left side of the couch.
Right side of the couch.
The 'other' tree in the dining room.
On my desk in the craft room.
On our coffee table.
Santa next to our TV in the lounge room.
No mantel, no fireplace! : ( So stockings hung on our colour coded bookcase.
Advent 'activity' calendar in the kitchen.
Top of the stairs.

11 sleeps - craft and cards

Two home made cones.
Ruffled, pink, feathered and silver ribbon cone.
Lime milkshake and donuts.
Sammy dressed as Miss Walke.
Hamish and his two tooth smile.
Bella had to share today.
Sammy with her card list.
I made an over the top pink feathered tree for Sammy today which she loves!! I got the idea from here at Miss Flibbertigibett. She did an amazing tutorial on a shabby pink one, which I loved. Mine is more pink vomit. I also did a little more of my snowflake ornament. I hung the present ornament on the tree. I made two cones out of cardboard. I also did some pressie wrapping and then quickly packed up so I could go and pick the kids up. I took them to Top Ryde City to get new shoes and out for arvo tea. Today's Christmas activity was writing Christmas cards. Sammy was the only one keen. She had a list and checked them off as she went. So sweet!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How are there so few days left?

All my craft stuff out on the dining room table. OMG!! What a mess.
A red-eyed special of the kids in the cinema.
Present ornament.
Snowflake ornament half done.
Ribbon container finally started.
Monday was such a busy day of Mothers Group and Christmas tree decorating at Granny and Pa's house (with the biggest real tree in history) followed by no sleep and then a day of craft on Tuesday with my mum followed by picking up kids from school and then fitting in a Christmas countdown activity. Well it's left me feeling like a walking zombie. And here I am at 10:48pm still on the computer (well my iPhone) and all you'll get tonight is a few fuzzy late night photos. Oh, and you must see Arthur Christmas if you're over 5!! It put tears in Dave and my eyes and the older kids loved it!! Hamish loved it too. No crying from him. Isabella loved parts of it but it was quite scary for a little person. She'll love it next year though!! And what is left on my dining room table so I can finish my crafty stuff tomorrow. The kids will have to eat breakfast in the lounge room!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Isabella's 5th Birthday party

The courtyard cleared for party action after the rain cleared.
Today was Isabella's 5th birthday party and we had 7 little people coming over to help celebrate. They were: Amelia, Meg, Jess, Annabelle, Bridget, Kaitlyn and Cooper. I decided to organise a fairy to entertain them and to let me have a chance to touch base with the mums that I usually only get to see in passing. Eg on the way to or from preschool.
I got hold of 'We came here to party' and organised a fairy through the lady in charge 'Kylie'. We were amazingly lucky with the weather today. The forecast was for rain and so I had set up the entire party inside, moving furniture in my craft room to the edge of the room so that there was enough room for them to move. The fairy arrived and the skies cleared and it ended up getting really quite hot! So out we moved them. The party finished while it was dry, but about half an hour later the rain was pouring down and we were thanking our lucky stars that we'd had a dry morning!!
The Great Stuff
Fairy Laura was pretty and her costume was gorgeous. She really could've passed as a fairy! The cupcakes, balloons and party bags were exactly as described. Fairy Laura was on time to the minute! Her punctuality was fantastic and let me relax! She got herself organised quickly as far as set up, chairs, music, costumes etc. The children (all the girls) were engaged the whole time!
The Good Stuff
Fairy Laura arrived 15 minutes early to set up and was stunning in her purple fairy ensemble. She unpacked her car quickly and had Isabella help her. She thought helping Fairy Laura was wonderful! The set up included pink chairs (although the website says they have pink cushions as well - there weren't any), a little white tree with butterflies on it for decoration, a white basket with pink ribbon on it for the prizes, another container full of the fairy costumes, cupcakes for the children(fairy topped ones for the girls and a pirate one for Cooper, the only boy), lolly bags and helium balloons (I had to pay extra for those). She was very polite and friendly and she greeted the children as they arrived. She had the kids engaged the whole time and there was very little noise coming from them. They played some cute games outside and were all very happy. The prizes were good quality and the kids loved them so much that many of them came inside to show 'mum' what they had won. Very cute.
The not so good Stuff
So the issues I had with Fairy Laura were her arrival in my house chewing on gum. It kind of ruined the wholesome fairy goodness that my five year old needed. She did get rid of this before any of the kids arrived though. Although Fairy Laura greeted the kids as they arrived it seemed that she had nothing for them to do in this time other than sit on their little pink seats. I think I would've liked to see some story-telling on a special 'story mat' or her putting on their dresses while waiting for the others to arrive. The children arrived between 10 and perhaps 10:15. So I feel that 15 minutes of that time could've been better spent. The Fairy party didn't really cater for boys, although they said that they did. I asked if they could supply something for the little boy that was coming to wear and they said 'no' in a round about way. I ended up going out and buying a little pirate costume which I'm sure will come in handy in the dress-up box for when we have boys over to play dress-ups or for when Hamish is old enough to play. I'm not sure if quiet always equals good fun! But it did mean that the parents had a chance to drink a hot cuppa! Supposedly the party says 2 hours, but in reality they don't stay for the 2 hours. Fairy Laura arrived 15 minutes before the party and then packed up at 11:30, half an hour before the end of the party. I thought she was going to stay for the cake, but to be honest I spoke with so many party places that they may not have said this. I really should write down what exactly is on offer shouldn't I! The only other thing that worried me was that Fairy Laura took off all her fairy stuff before she finished packing up which I thought broke the illusion of 'magic' that she had created. I would have liked to see her disappear in her fairy outfit.
So I was happy to pay the money in the end and had a fantastic time at Isabella's birthday party. She had an awesome time too and really that is the main thing. I think the little things that I nit-picked wouldn't even have been noticed by most people, but I'm very fussy!
The thank you I sent to all the mums.
Josh playing Lego with Cooper to keep him happy.
Sammy being Cooper for a minute!
Bella having her hair sprayed with glitter.
At the end of the party. I made it!
All the gorgeous girls and a handsome young man.

15 sleeps and getting ready for a party

A sad face because it was too sunny for her eyes.
A forced smile in the car! Very over-tired!!
The finished skirt under the tree.
Haamish loves his 'cage' and so do I!!
A close up of the skirt in action!