quick knits for babies

There is nothing quick about my knitting at the moment. And so many babies I’ve got to knit for or that are coming soon! 5 at last count….I need to get a move on! So I went through ravelry and my projects and looked for my favourites that I could whip up. Number 1 and if the baby is a girl is a kina. Still my favourite pattern and so pretty on. Because it lasts a while make a 6 month and it will get so much wear. It’s quite wide when you knit it up so won’t be one of those knits that just lasts a month. Pattern can be purchased and downloaded from ravelry here for EUR3.

Next favourite is this all in one cardigan that you knit from the back bottom hem and knit right over in one piece to the front hem. Casting on and casting off for sleeves. So easy. No fancy needles required. Just an easy and fun project. Pattern can be found in More Last Knitted Gifts, such a good book to have in your knitting library.

Another pattern that I really love and which you can find free online is the baby shrug by Debbie Bliss. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made this one. Ravelry details are here and pattern is a free download here.

Now speaking of Debbie Bliss and free patterns, here is another favourite of mine knitting all in one piece. Love this one. Free pattern is here.

Another quick one and great if you’re knitting for a premmie is Paxton, I’ve knit one and must knit another. Doesn’t take too long and a free pattern. Find it here.

And when time is really short or you want a little something to pad out a present for a new baby then what about some beautiful facewashers. I think they make the nicest gift in a range of colours. I love using Bendigo 8 ply cotton (on 3.75mm needles), Debbie Bliss cotton dk (4mm needles) and Lily Sugar n Cream (5mm needles). And I just took delivery of some gorgeously coloured cotton from Patons so I’ll be back with some fun facewashers to share. These are quick and easy and great for the absolute beginners because you are just knitting a square. Just search on dishcloths to find loads of patterns on the internet and ravelry. The pattern for this one is free and can be found here. Another favourite of mine is the Almost Lost Washcloth Pattern which I also love.

got a question, just ask!

weekend in kangaroo valley

I’m not going to lie to you. Taking the whole family away for the weekend isn’t totally relaxing. In fact it’s been almost 2 years since we’ve been away anywhere. But I wanted to do something really special for my lovely hubby’s 40th birthday. It was a toss up between the hunter valley and southern highlands and kangaroo valley won out in the end.

I looked through houses to rent for the weekend and wanted something special but comfortable and the all important….sleeps 7. Let me tell you that things start to get tricky once you get above 2 adults, 2 kids. But we did it. I found Hampden House, the most amazing house with so much history and a wonderful owner and it all fell into place. I knew that it was going to be a special weekend but I underestimated just what a wonderful time we would have. Despite the stress of cooking and packing ahead of time and driving all the kids down on my own.

We made plenty of memories……..including one child throwing up on the windy road down there and the rest of the kids calling out that I needed to turn around and look at the vomit everywhere….’ewwww it’s going into your bags’………..meanwhile I’m ‘asking’ someone to give that child a bag or bowl as I’m doing hairpin bends on the way down. Fun times. She had a bowl in her lap for the next trips that involved bends……and can see the funny side of it now.

I had packed coats for everyone but we had a gorgeously warm weekend. As soon as we arrived and I had unloaded the car…and surveyed and cleaned the damage in the backseat, the kids were straight out the back and found some golf clubs and balls. I was admiring the house and the beautiful deep pink magnolias. Oh I’m a magnolia lover and there were so many lovely trees to admire and photograph.

Daddy joined us and dinner was a Pioneer Woman lasagne. You assemble it with fresh lasagne sheets then freeze uncooked, I took down 2 frozen dinners with ice bricks and it was so lovely to just pop them in the oven with some garlic bread and enjoy dinner. Foil tray in the bin afterwards. The owner of the house had baked a beautiful cake and left it with party hats so we enjoyed cake, some vintage french champagne and listened to country music in the kitchen until bedtime. It was perfect.

The next morning we were up and hit Berry to have a look. Great shops and bakeries but I have to say that we loved Kangaroo Valley so much we could have stayed there the whole weekend. We did discover Sew & Tell and by we I mean me. I came home with 2 knitting pattern books and was quick as I could be and the kids got some craft kits. What a store. I could have spent hours there. A good old fashioned craft store with loads of patterns and supplies and something for everyone.

The kids got some toys and we had a look around before being accosted by some very lovely ladies from a bus trip. We smiled and they started taking photos of us and it was so funny, they were patting the kids heads, pinching cheeks, counting all the kids and posing with us, trying to lift up some of the little ones. Some of the ladies were stepping out into traffic to make sure they got us all in and we just kept laughing.  I’m sure we will surface in some holiday snaps when they get home. What can you do? Just smile and try to cross the road when they are finished. There were a few times when I felt like we were the travelling sideshow as people count heads or turn back to look at us and it’s probably a sign that we are home so much now and don’t get out as much as we used to.

Lunch was back in Kangaroo valley in the very sunny beer garden of the pub. Fish + chips with a lemon lime bitters and I love it when you have no plans but it turns out so nicely. It was so warm and lovely to be in the sun and know that we didn’t have sport or swimming like our usual Saturdays.

And this was the view from our table. Wonderful. What a view! Get there at 12 to grab a table and enjoy. It was a real treat.

We hit the ice cream shop for some ice creams and fudge (and took lots of photos that are on my phone because it’s tricky to push a pram and carry a baby on you and a camera) but when I asked the kids the best thing about the weekend the ice cream shop did pop up in conversation. They tried to get another trip in there after church on sunday too. Love it when you take kids away and ice cream or the toy shop is the best thing they did.

Back at the house, we spent the afternoon reading, playing outside, cleaning up (me, not the kids) and watching everyone. I have to say that keeping my eye on the littlest 3 is pretty much how we spent a lot of time.

here is birthday boy relaxing and soaking up the view for a little while………….

Another delicious dinner that I just needed to pop into the oven, chocolate cake and another relaxing night. Well someone had a fever and had broken out into a clammy sweat but we managed to get her off to sleep and her temperature down. And then I started having my heart race out of my chest and felt very funny. Turns out instead of drinking my good old nescafe gold I’d been drinking 2 espressos in each cup of coffee all afternoon. Phew. I wasn’t dying or having heart trouble just had way too much strong coffee. It’s so funny now but really had me puzzled until I got to bed and realised that my 3 cups of coffee that afternoon was a whole lot stronger than my usual.

Sunday morning and time to pack up, clean up and go to church.But not before I took a snap of some sleeping babies. We forgot the portacot and I hadn’t organised one but there were plenty of warm beds for little people to snuggle in.

Apparently I got my cranky pants on but how many times can you tell the kids not to go into that room as it’s all cleaned and looking as lovely as when we arrived. So in the end we got everything of ours into the car, sent the kids outside and I worked from one end of the house to the other and got it clean. We arrived to mass and what a treat to be in such a sweet little church from the late 1800’s. My big kids were asked to do the offertory procession, we were given some colouring books and pencils and despite having to come in and out with my little ones who aren’t so great at church at the moment, we really enjoyed the service and to top it off the big kids got to ring the bell at the end. What a thrill.

They thought it was the best thing ever and not something you get at any of the churches near us. I could go back every Sunday just for mass. There weren’t many people at mass but we boosted the numbers by 8 and the parishioners were so lovely and friendly to us and a credit to the parish. It was a highlight of the weekend.

Pies for lunch (yes, we might need to walk off some of the delicious food from the weekend), toilet stop (takes a while with all of the little ones these days) then time to head back home again. We didn’t want to leave but it was a great drive back with most of the kids sleeping the whole way. My kind of road trip.

It was such a wonderful weekend and definitely as special as I wanted it to be. Of course the kids have asked if they can have their birthdays down at the same house and I’ve said when they are 40! It really was a special treat for all of us and every room was so beautifully full of antiques and big comfy beds with lots of pillows and white linen. The house is one of the original houses in the area and has been renovated so beautifully while still keeping some of the old features.

It was such a lovely getaway even if I didn’t touch my new book and only managed 3 rows of knitting and tried to stop the baby from getting into everything. And kids being kids, they will say it was the best time ever and talk about it for a long time to come…………even if they didn’t act like it at the time!!!!

And thanks to the very lovely owner Karen, who is offering a 10% discount to my readers if you book a stay and mention this post. That is so kind of her and we’ve had some little chats on the phone today. It really makes for a special weekend if you have someone to spoil or surprise or are in need of a quiet getaway. 

 

Bold Bamboo giveaway thanks to Bendigo Woollen Mills

I love a good giveaway and thanks to Bendigo Woollen Mills I’ve got one for you. Bold Bamboo is going on the website live today and shade cards are going out in the mail. To celebrate I’m going to pick one lucky winner to win one ball of each colour (8 in total) and a blanket pattern. Please imagine a lovely ball of navy blue yarn into this mix….it’s somewhere in my craft room. What a great prize. A big thank you to Bendigo Woollen Mills.

All you need to do is tell me your favourite colour in the whole world and why. Mine is pink. Always has been, always will.

Good luck, giveaway is open to Australian residents, entries close next Sunday 30 August.

ditching the anti-perspirant

First up, this isn’t a sponsored post and I didn’t receive these products. This was just me wanting to try some natural deodorants because I’d been thinking about it for ages and then couldn’t find any at the supermarket. So I finally did something about it, tried two brands, one I picked up at the supermarket (if you look really hard you’ll find it there….hiding!) and one I ordered online. I’ve used both and am happy with them and ditched the anti-perspirant. I can’t even tell you why I wanted to. I think it was a combination of trying to be more conscious of what I was using on my skin and the kids skin and realising that I hadn’t change my deodorant, what we were eating and wondering if I should try them.

First up is the Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Deodorant. First thoughts….wow I’m going to smell like aeroguard today. It has a strong smell at first but that dies away and it’s a very effective deodorant. I need a pretty good strong deodorant so this one really fit the bill. But each morning I do get a bit of a strong smell when I open it up but over the course of the day it doesn’t smell and it really works. That’s what you need from a deodorant really. It’s free from aluminium and is natural and made in Australia. I had to hunt around the supermarket and it was the only aluminium free one at my local woollies but I’m really happy with it and love using it. It’s great if you are a heavy sweater (I can’t think of another way to describe it!), don’t mind strong smells at first and also if you’re a man. I think this might be a good one to try. I don’t exercise but if I have something to go to at night or later in the day I did put another bit on just to be sure.

Next one I tried is Moo Goo’s Fresh Cream Deodorant. I had to order this one online (apparently there are some stockists too). It came with a great sample and was beautifully boxed up and the box smelt heavenly. Super fast delivery from Queensland and the price was the same as Tea Tree Deodorant but I did have to pay for postage so I ordered 2 bottles. This doesn’t have a strong smell when you first use it and is a great deodorant if you’re not really a heavy sweater and don’t require a really full strength deodorant. I liked this one because it didn’t have the strong smell of the Tea Tree but it wasn’t as great for me on a day I was out in the sun – not exercising but just a busy day outdoors – and I had to put some more on. Now apparently over time this might go away and it’s just my body getting used to a natural deodorant after years of anti perspirant so leave it with me. I will report back to you!

But that’s me and I go through a lot of deodorant and am used to putting a bit more on later in the day. I think this one is perfect for the delicate ladies out there who don’t need full on protection and are also sensitive to smell. This one will be great for you because I don’t think you could last with the Tea Tree and it’s strong smell. This one is also great for your children who require a natural deodorant, are just starting to need a little something or perhaps have some health issues that mean they are sweating and need something for school. So the 2nd bottle went to one of the older kids and is working wonderfully.

So there you go, I loved them both. I’ll stick with the Tea Tree for myself and the Moo Goo for the big kids (but I might come back to the Moo Goo after I’ve been off the anti perspirant for a while). I’ll also be trying more of the Moo Goo range because I was really impressed with their hair care and skin range and we have a few sensitive scalps and skins here.

Love to hear what natural deodorant you are using and loving. It was actually my readers who told me about Moo Goo…………………

large family logistics is being reprinted

For a couple of years I was trying to get my hands on a copy of Large Family Logistics without having to remortgage the house. They can be hard to come by and cost a lot of money (although the price seems to have come down now that a new edition is on the horizon). I almost didn’t believe it when I did score a copy and wondered would I receive it. I did. And I love it. You can read my review here.

I put a few things into action and often revisit the book – a textbook sized book. There is so much I still need to do. Anyway I got very excited when this came up on my Facebook feed.

So sign up here to keep up to date and order a copy of the new book when it is available, there will be new additions to it and it won’t cost the earth.

Bold Bamboo by Bendigo Woollen Mills

Well the name has now been announced and the release date is the last week of august so here are the things that I made from Bold Bamboo which is coming soon to Bendigo Woollen Mills.

One sock. Yes, you really should knit your socks in pairs but I got so excited to use the girl colours in the range that I went straight on to other projects but will come back to the sock this week. Pattern details are here.

a little doll’s cardigan using this pattern, so quick and easy and great for beginners or when you need a break after a really big knitting project. Also great to knit while on holidays or for presents.

A cardigan for a new baby using Granny’s Favourite by tiKKi. Such a sweet and classic little knitting pattern. This cardigan will be raffled off on the school craft stall that I’m running later this year.

And the baby kina that I blogged yesterday.

Bold Bamboo is 60% bamboo/40% wool and a dream to work with. I didn’t find it splitty at all and was so soft especially as I had just finished knitting with rustic so it was super soft as my next yarn. You’ll be able to order it from the last week of August and the colours are bright and fun. It’s machine washable, I always use a delicates/woollen setting if I machine wash just to be on the safe side. I did find it look a bit longer to dry when blocking so just dampen it gently rather than overkill when you block your project. I didn’t block the kina as it always comes out perfectly when it’s finished.

And that has been so fun. I’m not sharing the whole colour range with you because it’s nice to have some surprises and also because I think the range is dotted around my craft room thanks to some little helpers in there. But think bright and fun.

oh look, another kina

Yep. If there is one knitting pattern that I make time and time again then it’s the Kina. I just love it. About a week on the needles for this one and it turned out so nicely. You knit it from the top down in one piece and it never lets me down. Just a lovely little cardigan for girls.

You can find the kina on ravelry here in a variety of sizes from doll to adult, it’s easy enough for a confident beginner and is always fun to knit. The baby kina pattern is actually a 5 ply/sports weight but I love knitting it up in 8 ply

You knit the size smaller than you want but knit to the lengths of the size you want on 4mm needles. So I knit the 3 month size but with 6 month lengths for this one and it’s so cute and will last until the baby is 1. Ravelry details for this project are here.

The yarn is soon to be released (last week of August) by Bendigo Woollen Mills and is called Bold Bamboo. I was lucky enough to be sent some to use first and I’ve loved it. Super soft, it’s 60% bamboo, 40% wool, machine washable and super soft. The colours are bright and fun and I see more projects to be made in it.

Tomorrow I’ll share a few more of the projects I’ve made in Bold Bamboo but in the meantime here is my next project. Because there were 2 school mums who had baby girls over the holidays so I’m in need of quick little cardigans so it’s another baby kina and this time in Milky Way. Wow this is a nice yarn to work with. A bit like cotton but thicker. If that makes sense.

Happy knitting xx

 

cheat’s apple tea cake

I got in from church after 11.30 yesterday and needed something sweet with my coffee. No cakes or biscuits in the house but a few boxes of cake mix for some cupcakes I had to make.

I decided to whip up a super quick tea cake that anyone can make and everyone will enjoy. It is so delicious and light and it would also make a great dessert hot out of the oven with some ice cream. No fancy ingredients required.

 

cheats apple tea cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 8-12
What you'll need
  • 1 box vanilla cake mix
  • canned fruit (not too heavy)
  • cinnamon
  • brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Make cake mix according to the packet. I mix mine for 2 minutes on speed 4 in the thermomix.
  2. Pour into a lined square or round cake tin
  3. Decorate with some canned fruit - I like pie apple as it's not too heavy that it sinks to the bottom.
  4. Sprinkle about 2 Tbsp brown sugar over the top of the fruit and some cinnamon and bake for about 35 minutes until cooked right through in a 180 degrees oven.
  5. Top with some icing sugar and enjoy

 

knits for boys by Kate Oates

I love knitting but have to confess that I just don’t do enough knitting for my  big kids and especially my boys. The girls patterns always seem sweeter and more enticing. But I’m going to change that. I ordered this book from amazon as I don’t have any books with just patterns for boys and this one looked like a good one. And it is. So many great patterns AND the tips and tricks and instructions were better than most.

Often you buy a knitting book and it’s got a section on how to knit and a bit vague on other things that you need to know like adding pockets or construction of the pattern or how to adjust the pattern.

This book includes that information which is a great help for the intermediate to more advanced knitters who don’t need to know how to do a knit stitch or cast off. There are lots of pictures and photos showing various angles of each project which was helpful

There are a variety of patterns that cover hats, mittens, vests, jumpers, a t-shirt, long johns and even shorts (don’t think I’ll be knitting my big boys shorts) and the patterns are things that you would really want to make. Especially the vests and jumpers. There are even patterns for a bow tie and suspenders. Something for every occasion

I was really impressed with this book and just as I was photographing it today saw that the author and designer of the patterns is a mum of 4 boys. Well that explains it. No wonder she created this book

If you’re a beginner then you’ll love the easier patterns in the book like the hats, simple raglan sleeve jumpers and vests. The more advanced knitters will really enjoy this book with a few cable projects and colourwork and instructions to help you alter your projects.

Definitely a good book for the mums and grandmums of boys or people who enjoy knitting and have trouble getting their hands on patterns for boys.

There are 27 patterns all up and sizing is from 4-12 but the sock pattern is sized from toddler up. I picked up my copy at amazon here.

another granny’s favourite

I do get a bit stuck on my old favourites when it comes to knitting patterns. This is a sweet one with a vintage touch that I just love.

The pattern is granny’s favourite by tiKKi and just perfect. I love Georgie’s patterns because they are straight forward, top down knits and they look so sweet when all done. Oh and there is also a great range of sizes from little newborns up to my big girls. Not that I do much knitting for my big girls.

The yarn is a yet to be released one from Bendigo Woollen Mills that I just love. Super soft and lovely and it’s been a dream to work with. I don’t even know the name of it yet but can’t wait to find out more about when it’s being released. You can’t go wrong in cream for babies so this is a favourite of mine already.

The vintage buttons are for the craft stall at our school fete later in the year and I’m donating this little number to a little raffle for our stall. The buttons were just so perfect and my thoughts are to sew the buttons to little squares of cardstock and sell them as they are. It’s like they were made for this project.

Ravelry details are here. It’s back to the baby surprise jacket that I’m knitting that really will be a surprise when it’s done as I’m dragging the chain on it. I’ve ripped it out a couple of times but am going to concentrate and get it finished.

Happy knitting!

 

 

best ever chocolate brownies – for a small family or a big crowd

I love baking for a cake stall and pretty much always do my chocolate brownie recipe. Today I upsized it and it was a winner. Here I’ve put the instructions and quantities for whether you want to make just one square pan of brownies or when you need to feed a crowd or make them last. Nothing lasts long here but I made a triple quantity of the batch and they were delicious and turned out beautifully.

There are no fancy ingredients in this recipe and it makes it nice and easy to pick up a couple of things when you want to make them. I usually use dark chocolate but you can use milk chocolate or a mix of both. My personal grocery shopper came home with milk and they were delicious

No thermomix required but I did my raw sugar to caster sugar in mine

melt the chocolate and butter over a very low heat and take it off when you still have a couple of butter bits left so you don’t start cooking the chocolate

Add in sugar and mix, then eggs and mix and then sift in the flour and baking powder and gently combine. You need to check that you’ve got all the flour mixed in and don’t have any pockets of flour in there. You will have a lovely thick smooth mixture

Pour into a lined baking tin and bake according to the recipe card and quantities listed below. Your brownie is cooked when it’s firm to touch on the top and a knife comes out clean but don’t overbake it. It’s better to have the centre a bit gooey and leave the brownie to cool in the tin.

Because we were presenting these for a cake stall we trimmed the edges (oh so good, just pop them a bowl and share them with the kids)

Leave to cool in the tin (I know, it’s hard work, patience is a virtue) and lift out by the baking paper and place on a cooling rack. I leave it to cool some more and then with a sharp knife cut into rows and then cut a few rows at the same time into squares so I can package them up or pop on a plate for a bring a plate. It looks cute on a doily or with some icing sugar dusted over the top too.

Frozen raspberries are absolutely delicious in this and we also loooove a few tablespoons of peanut butter through the batter as well. I hope you enjoy these. We just love them and I’ve been making this recipe since I was about 25 I think so it’ s well loved. The key to the perfect brownie really is not overcooking them so if you know your oven runs hot then lower the temperature a little and watch them closely, as soon as they are cooked get them out of there.

One batch of best ever chocolate brownies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 12-16
What you'll need
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 200g dark cooking chocolate (or milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • ⅔ cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Instructions
  1. Break up the chocolate into a saucepan or a microwave safe bowl and add in the cubed butter. melt over a low heat until melted and stir constantly. You can do this in the microwave for 2½ minutes on medium and stir a few times.
  2. Add in sugar and mix well.
  3. Add in the eggs and mix well
  4. Add in the sifted flour and baking powder and really mix well.
  5. Pour into a lined square baking tray (not too big) and bake in a 180 degrees oven for about 20 minutes. If your oven runs hot/fan forced drop the temperature by 5-10 degrees.
  6. When a knife comes out clean you are done. Leave to cool in tin and then remove by the paper and slice and enjoy

triple batch of best ever chocolate brownies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is when you really want to feed a crowd!
Serves: 40
What you'll need
  • 300g unsalted butter
  • 600g cooking chocolate
  • 3 cups caster sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1-2 heaped tsp of baking powder
Instructions
  1. Break up the chocolate into individual squares and place in a large saucepan with the cubed butter. Melt over a very low heat until almost all melted. Remove from the heat and keep stirring until all of the butter is melted.
  2. Add in the sugar and mix well
  3. Add in the eggs and mix well. I lightly beat my eggs first and then combine into the mixture
  4. Add in the sifted flour and baking powder and combine well ensuring you have no pockets of flour in there.
  5. Pour into a lined huge baking tray or a few smaller ones. I used a roasting tray and it was just a bit too much mixture so you have a few options.
  6. Option 1 - a huge alfoil baking dish or a baking tray about 36x27cm (this is the option I wish I went with), you buy these huge trays in the bbq section of the supermarket and just one will do. Bake in a 170 degrees oven for about 45 minutes.
  7. Option 2 - bake this recipe in 3 square tins or 2 rectangle trays (about 32 x21cms) in a 180 degrees oven. The square tins take about 20 minutes each and a rectangle tray takes about 25-30 minutes. Don't overcook them.
  8. Option 3 - if your largest rectangle tray is about 32x21cms (5cms deep) like mine then just use 1 tsp of baking powder for the whole recipe. Cook in a 170 degrees oven for at least 45-50 minutes or until your top is starting to crisp up and a knife comes out clean. If it comes out clean in a few spots but one is a bit gooey that is ok. Take it out of the oven and leave to cool in the tray.

 

My Little Pony and helping others for International Friendship Day

brought to you by My Little Pony

There is joy in giving and I think this might be one of my favourite posts of the year. One of the things that we hope to do as parents is teach our children to help others. To not just think of themselves. We start this young with sharing, not being selfish and being kind to our family, friends and animals. As our children grow and learn more about the world and their community they hopefully see how fortunate they are and want to help others outside of their little circle of family and friends. We are very big believers in this house in helping our community and encouraging our children to serve others.  And one of the best ways to teach our children to help others is to be helping ourselves and I know so many of you do. The smallest actions can really make someone’s  day and it always makes me so happy when I’m doing something for someone else or am surprising them when they least expect it.

My Little Pony has launched some lovely ideas to tie in International Friendship Day on 30 July 2015 with the qualities of some of our favourite My Little Pony characters. And of course My Little Pony is all about friendship. Each My Little Pony character has a quality that makes her a good friend!

 

There are so many ways that we can help other people – giving our time, donating money, buying something that is needed, cooking for someone, being a friend when someone needs one and just giving someone a listening ear. I asked the big kids what they would like to do and how we could do it. They decided we had to do something fun for children who are sick and something else for children who have special needs like their little sister.

And some of my readers might remember that I was calling for hats to be donated for the children at Westmead Hospital.  Well we collected 65 at last count and often still get a hat at the post office. This all started when a reader contacted me to tell me that her son was in remission from cancer and she wanted to collect hats for the Oncology ward at Westmead Children’s hospital in Sydney. I put the call out and so many of my lovely readers knitted and crocheted wonderful hats to donate.

Rainbow Dash loves to be the first to help others and there is actually a wonderful resource Parents Guide – Rainbow Dash  to help teach your children how to help sick children with one idea being the collection of hats. And since Rainbow Dash is our favourite  My Little Pony here she is supervising the hats.  I think she’s found her favourite rainbow beanie…………my kids sorted out the hats and counted them and then packed them away into a huge gift bag ready to be taken to the hospital. After breaking her leg last year my little girl knew how long the days can be in hospital.

My Little Pony donated some fabulous toys to send off to the hospital with the hats and I just know that these will make some little people happy.

I managed to hide them in my sewing room until I needed to photograph them and then had to keep them away from my little people who wanted to open them all up!

and while at the shops I found some giant colouring books too. Bright, colourful and cheery.

And they are all packed up in some bright colourful bags ready for us to take to the hospital this weekend………

Now we decided that just one idea wasn’t enough. As my big kids are growing up they are becoming more aware of children with special needs. They also know our speech therapist and some of the lovely people at our early intervention. Lifestart help so many families who have a child with special needs. Whether the family has just brought a baby home from the hospital with a known disability or a family comes to them with a toddler or preschooler. Our key workers visit us and check in with us and help us out. They receive government funding but also rely on money received from fees, fundraising and donations in order to provide services.

Families come in for playgroups, therapy sessions, courses for parents, fun activities for children like music workshops and more. And the therapists and key workers visit families at their homes and preschools. Having received their services and knowing the wonderful ladies who work there we made a list of the things that would be really helpful and also really fun. What did the kitchen need and what did the kids need?

Well I knew that the kitchen needed to have supplies of biscuits for playgroup morning tea where the mums head off into the kitchen for a cuppa. So we picked up big packets of chocolate biscuits, tins of my favourite coffee and some big boxes of chocolates to hide away for a special occasion or when chocolate is needed. My kids knew what kids would want and their favourite My Little Pony toys at the moment are the glow in the dark fun bags. So we’ve got a box of those in there and it’s always a surprise opening the pack because you don’t know what’s inside.

Some packets of colouring pencils for little people who come to playgroup and therapy sessions, big floor puzzles with first words on them. And of course bubbles and stickers which are a great reward for hard work by the little ones. We laid some purple tissue box in a purple crate and this will surely brighten up the office at our local Lifestart branch. We’ve also decided to regularly donate some of these items to keep the crate going this year……………….I just can’t wait to surprise our speech therapist when she visits tomorrow and help her load these goodies into the car.

So here is what our dining table looked like! My big kids were such a great help organising all of the donations and were so excited to gather them all up and see how wonderful it all looked when we were done

And we had so much fun at the same time………………..there are so many ways that you can get your kids excited to help others and it feels so good to be helping. Here are some of the great ideas that we came up with……..

– take a meal to a family who have just had a baby or have someone sick or have moved house

– bake a cake and take it over to an elderly neighbour

– volunteer to help sort the books at the school library

– when someone says they are going on holidays volunteer to feed their pets

– read the paper and see what charities are needing at the moment

– collect colouring pencils, stickers and colouring books and take them to your nearest hospital or charity

– clear your linen cupboard and wardrobes and bundle up jumpers and blankets and donate to your nearest charity

– ask friends to clear out the baby clothes and donate to wonderful charities that help with baby equipment and needs like St Kilda Mums and Dandelion Support Network

– collect movie tickets and supermarket gift cards and donate to your local charity

– spend a morning at the local pet shelter to help them feed the animals

– ask your parents if you can become a foster parent for a kitten or puppy through your local animal shelter

– ask your school if you can collect canned food for charity

– knit some squares or hats and find a charity online that collects them or why not buy some wool and needles and donate to the charity for other people to knit

 

So what do you think you can do with your children to get them helping others on International Friendship Day?

You don’t need lots of money just an idea, some time and some initiative and you’ll feel so wonderful and be teaching your kids a valuable lesson that hopefully plants the seed of giving in the future. Visit the My Little Pony Friendship Day website here and get your kids excited to do something to help others and then share their story.

 

best ever scones in the thermomix

Recently during the holidays we had some new friends over for morning tea. And I decided to try a lemonade scone recipe. Big mistake, they were taking forever to cook and just didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. In fact I’ve never had that much luck with lemonade scones. Maybe it’s just me. So I went back to basics and CWA’s Prize Winning Scone recipe from 1972, converted to the thermomix with a few tweaks including buttermilk which I had leftover in the fridge. Winning. These turned out so beautifully soft inside and rose and looked like great scones. I wish a scone recipe was on the recipe chip for the new thermomix but this will be my go to scone recipe from now on. No more failures when guests come over.

If you place your scones on the baking tray touching each other you’ll have nice soft edges on your scones which I just love. Space them apart if you prefer a crisper on the outside scone. Now I do the scone mix in the thermomix and the cream in my kitchen aid. You can whip cream in your thermomix with your butterfly but I’m a creature of habit and love chucking it in my kitchen aid to give it a good workout. Warm scones, jam and cream and we had morning tea sorted.

We made a plate of scones, took them outside and the kids enjoyed them before running off to play leaving my little guy to finish the plate off. And finish it off he did. I also love this photo because all my little boys have worn this top. I get a bit sentimental about their favourite clothes.

I hope you enjoy these scones! Let me know what you think or perhaps let me know your best ever scone recipe.

best ever scones in the thermomix
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 12ish
What you'll need
  • 70g raw sugar (or icing sugar)
  • 450g plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 60g butter cold, cubed
  • 310mls buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Place raw sugar in the thermomix and process 20 seconds on speed 9 to get icing sugar.
  2. Add in flour, baking powder, salt and butter and process 50 seconds, speed 4 until butter has been distributed throughout
  3. Add in buttermilk (you could use milk or cream) and process 20 seconds speed 3 until just mixed through. If your mixture is too soft you can add more flour on your work surface but you want a nice sticky-ish mixture for nice soft scones
  4. **Tip out the mixture onto a floured surface. I just use some baking paper with flour sprinkled over the top to keep my mess to a minimum and flatten out with your hands to make a circle. My dough was over an inch thick
  5. Using a glass or scone cutter (or cookie cutter) cut the dough into circles and place on a lined baking tray
  6. Press together gently if you want softer scones or spread out on the tray if you don't
  7. Brush the top of your scones with a little milk
  8. Bake in a 200 degrees oven for about 12-16 minutes until lightly golden on top
  9. Serve warm with the works (aka jam and whipped cream). I whip my cream while the scones are baking and if kids are around spoon out the jam into a bowl otherwise you get cream through your jam jar. Trust me on that one.
  10. If you don't have a thermomix then sift your dry ingredients and rub in the butter with your finger tips until you have a mixture like breadscrumbs. Make a well in the centre and pour in your buttermilk (or milk or cream) and gently mix without overworking your dough. Follow from **

 

townmouse children’s wear patterns

Once upon a time I would sew lots of pretty things and pop them on my children to model in the backyard. Those days have kind of become scarcer as there are now 6 little people and 1 me and there isn’t much sewing time.

But this was a great deal, I sent fabric to the lovely Kristine of Townmouse and she returned two little tops and a dress for my little ones to wear and tell you about in this blog post. Some of you will know Kristine through her childrenswear brand Townmouse which made beautiful clothes and her blog of the same name. As her family grew things changed for her business too but now she’s back. With patterns. And they are so gorgeous. You buy the patterns here on etsy, download and print them off at home and sew them yourself and I know you’re going to love them.

My littlest miss loves dresses, she wears them all the time, tights are optional in winter but we’re getting better at wearing tights and our dresses. So here we have the Matilda Gyspy dress pattern in some Lecien Flower Sugar and it looks sweet as pie.

We are going to get a lot of wear out of this. She hasn’t taken it off yet. I know I’ll love this pattern because there are no zippers or buttons and it would be great for the beginner sewer or when you want a fast project.

Our little twinnie picked out this pretty fabric, also Lecien Flower Sugar, and had it made into the Isabella flutter sleeve top. I love a flutter sleeve. Just like I love a ruffle. It makes this top so pretty and sweet.

And then there is my big girl who is growing up and had picked out this Cotton & Steel fabric which has gold on it. This is the same pattern as the top above but has a variation and I love it. I was a bit nervous about how the fabric choice but it’s perfect for the growing girl. The mint green and gold are just perfect and this will be great with jeans, pants and shorts this summer and especially when I ask for her to wear something nice for church. I can see this going with white pants and gold sandals already. I’m so glad we picked up this fabric as it was one of those ones that was a bit different to what I’d usually buy.

And here they are all together, not all looking at me but we had some fun trying to get one photo of all of them. The clothes are perfect in terms of sizing and true to size as I just said our sizes were 4, 6 and 8 and they fit beautifully. The tops are going to be wonderful with little shorts, pants and skirts and the dresses are so sweet and I can’t wait to see this with a little pair of pretty sandals and a bow in her hair.

You can find the Townmouse patterns on Etsy here and thanks to the lovely Kristine you can receive 15% off just by using the code retro15 at checkout (valid until the 8th August). And a very big thank you for making these clothes for me because they probably wouldn’t have been made so fast and definitely wouldn’t have been made as beautifully.

And I will be clearing out all of the fabrics from my store and a lot of my stash including flower sugar so watch this space. Just need to get the kids back to school and a few more volunteer jobs first. 

sultana buttermilk cake

Sometimes life just calls for cake! And I need some coffee and cake. Lots of it. 4 out of the 6 kids are sick and we’ve all been on the antibiotics for a few days and it’s been a hard one to track down so this morning I called over 9 pharmacies trying to find 4 bottles of the stuff. Yep that’s how I spent my morning. But at least I had a delicious cake in the oven.

But at the same time all these days quarantined at home are kind of nice. Now that the baby is better and back to his normal self I can actually put him down and do things around the house. And things are getting done. Kind of. In a slower than normal way but we’re getting there.

When I really want a good cake recipe I go to my CWA cookbooks. I love them. And this recipe comes from the first book I bought when I had just one little child in the family. It’s well loved. You can’t beat sultana cake and while it was cooling in the tin (something I usually don’t do), I was ringing around all the pharmacies and too busy to be tempted to have some hot cake out of the oven.

The buttermilk can be replaced with regular milk but it made the cake so delicious and tasty. And my square tin is always getting a good workout. If you don’t have a square cake tin then make sure you get one. So good for cakes, brownies, frittatas and everything. This one is from way back when life was more glamorous and I visited my then boyfriend now husband in paris and would shop on saturdays. It’s a tefal so you can probably get one exactly the same here but I love the story. He didn’t share my love of shopping in paris as much as I did but was always a good sport.

sultana buttermilk cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
I've adapted this good old fashioned sultana cake from CWA Cookbook Seventy Years in the Making
Serves: 16
What you'll need
  • 230g/1 cup raw sugar (or caster sugar and omit step 1)
  • 225g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 350g sultanas dusted lightly in flour
  • 150mls buttermilk (or regular milk)
Instructions
  1. If using your thermomix then place raw sugar in bowl and process 10 seconds speed 9 to make caster sugar. Add in butter (cubed) and process 1 minute speed 4)
  2. With the thermomix running on speed 3 add in the eggs through the top of your lid and process 30 seconds. Add in flour, baking powder and a dash of salt and process another 30 seconds speed 4.
  3. Now I like to mix in the sultanas myself but you can do it all in the thermomix, just add the sultanas which you have dusted in flour and buttermilk/milk and mix for 1-2 minutes, speed 2 or 3, reverse until combined.
  4. **My way is to remove mixture from thermomix and tip into a large mixing bowl. Add in the sultanas and buttermilk and with a spatula or big spoon mix well so that the liquid is totally absorbed and the sultanas are evenly distributed.
  5. Tip into a lined square cake tin (or round, I just love my square one) and bake in a 180 degrees for at least one hour. Now my oven is very old and runs a bit hot so it was just under 1 hour and all cooked. You could need up to 1¼ hours or until a skewer comes out clean.
  6. If you don't have a thermomix then you are going to cream your butter and sugar until nice and thick and creamy. Add in the eggs one by one and then add in the sifted flour, baking powder and salt and mix well and follow from **