Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Last week I actually found the time to sit down and do some paper crafts, for the first time in a long time. In fact, I think the last time I did any sort of craft was prior to Christmas, when I put together some scrapbooking pages as gifts (although, I wasnt all that impressed with how they turned out. My creative vision simply didnt transcribe to the pages very well).

I have been eagerly reading blogs like Gathering Dust, Jennifer McGuire Ink, and Paper Cakes (amongst others), whose creativity inspired me to make an effort and find some of my own. Although, I must admit that their stuff is so much nicer than mine - I am so out of practice!

Last Friday it was my "little" (= not-so-little) brother's thirteenth birthday, and since boys arent really all that impressed by cards, I decided to make a gift envelope to shove some money into instead.

The envelope measured around 3"x 2", and was decorated with a picture of a "soccer boy" (since my brother is obsessed with this sport), ribbon, and a brad.

Inside I placed a little tag, attached to some cotton, temptingly left hanging out the side of the envelope. Around the tag I then wrapped some money, so that when the envelope was opened and the tag pulled out, the money would come out with it, like so:

I've no idea what my brother thought of it, but I was most pleased with my little creation!

I have also signed up for a greeting card swap over at Swap-Bot, so on the weekend I made those as well.

I used scrapbooking paper and card, die-cuts, paper flowers, brads, and cut the woman out of an an old 1920s poster advertising stockings. I really hope my partner will like them!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bread Help!

I dont have a recipe to share this week, simply because I didnt actually do any cooking for myself over the weekend! I would usually decide upon a recipe to share and then make it either Saturday or Sunday night. However, this weekend SJ was away so I didnt feel the need to make the effort and cook a meal from scratch. Instead, I survived on frozen leftovers.

Not that this was a bad thing, because rather than spending my time cooking meals I was able to utilise it to test out the breadmaker I received as a birthday gift from my parents. I have been wanting one for ages. I absolutely love making my own bread, but working full-time means that I rarely (= never) have the time to make it completely by hand. So, I wanted a breadmaker to do all the hard stuff for me.

This weekend I made bread rolls (pictured above) and hot cross buns (pictured below). They turned out reasonably well and were incredibly tasty, but I have a problem: They never rise enough!

I have also encountered the same problem when making a loaf of bread. Can anyone help?

I am using the only high-protein bread flour I can get where I live, and the best dry yeast stocked on the shelf.

I have tried letting them rise for longer and in warmer spots (the front seat of the car is the best so far), as well as extra yeast. Despite this, what is supposed to be a standard white loaf comes out more like a turkish bread, and even though my hot cross buns were light and fluffy, it would have been nice if they were just a centimetre or two higher.

If anyone has any tips for better bread I would be forever grateful!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Book Review: The Life & Death of Anne Boleyn

Claimed to be the best bio on Anne Boleyn compiled to date, this book by Eric Ives is truly eye-opening and awe-inspiring.

I think I like Anne best portrayed as she really was, not based upon all the myths and, let's face it, downright lies that surrounded her rise and ultimate destruction.

Every point is well researched and the supporting evidence is facinating, ranging from letters, artwork and the royal accounts, to songs and poetry. Ives gives an amazing insight into life as it was in the Tudor Court and the major personalities within it (Henry VIII, the Boleyns, Cromwell, Wyatt, Wolsey, Chapuys, Suffolk, Norfolk &c.).

If you are interested in the Tudors and appreciate historical accuracy, then I highly recommend this book.

I LOVED IT! Easily deserves 9 out of 10 stars.

Belongs to my permanent collection, but is available to loan under my bookcrossing conditions found here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Broccoli & Cauliflower Cheese Soup


1 small bunch Broccoli
1 small bunch Cauliflower
4 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 small Brown Onion
1/2 Cup Butter
1/3 Cup Plain Flour
1 tspn salt
1/2 tspn pepper
3 Cups Milk
1 Cup Vegetarian Tasty Cheese

In a medium saucepan, cook broccoli and cauliflower florets in vegetable stock. When tender, blend until combined. DO NOT DRAIN STOCK.

In a large saucepan fry finely chopped onion in butter until tender. DO NOT BROWN.

Add milk, flour, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens. Stir constantly.

Stir in blended broccoli-cauliflower-stock combo. Bring to boil.

Add cheese and serve.

Serves 4.

Best way to eat broccoli and cauliflower ever!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Favourite Blogs (Swap-Bot)

I decided to take part in a swap at Swap-Bot that requires I share my favourite blogs with my allocated partners, being Elmi in South Africa, Rasa in Lithuania, and Amber in USA (such a worldly selection!).

There are a lot of blogs that I read. Some are located in the Favourite Blogs list to the right, and others are stored over at my livejournal as an f-list.

However, for this particular swap I thought I would select my Top 5 Favourite Blogs to share with my Swap-Bot partners, and anyone else who happens to stop by.

The Top 5 is as follows:

Tea Time ~ the inspiration for my Vegetarian Recipe Monday posts! It's a challenge I am determined to succeed in!

SouleMama ~ whose world is so different from my own that I cannot help but be transfixed by it (I love, love, love her photos).

Out Back ~ my ma! Need I say more?

Our Red House ~ I lived in the same city for nearly ten years, and I enjoy reading about her experiences there.

Cupcakes at Home ~ I am in love with her Scotland and her dogs (seriously cute)!

I can only hope you will enjoy these blogs as much as I do!

The picture at the start of this post has absolutely nothing to do with anything. I just happen to like it and wanted to share (Co. Kerry in Ireland).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vegetarian Recipe, I mean Tuesday.

It was a public holiday here is South Australia yesterday, and it was my birthday, so I wasnt at work and unable to do a new recipe post, which is why I am only getting to it today.

If my ISP would hurry up and connect my internet I might actually be able to get online and do these posts in time. I've been waiting nearly four weeks now for them to connect my internet at home. Funnily enough, last week I received a "confirmation email" from my ISP stating that my internet had, in fact, been connected. But then when I tried to set up my DSL on my computer, the modem couldnt register a DSL signal. So, after spending an hour arguing with the automative IT help guy, I finally got to speak with a real person (gosh, I sound like my grandparents! Am I not supposed to be part of the technology generation?) I was told that DSL had not yet been connected to my line. Pfft.

So, anyways, this weeks' recipe is as follows:

Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognaise Sauce
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 Medium Zucchini (Corgette)
1/4 small Sweet Potatoe or equivalent Pumpkin
1/2 Medium Carrot
1/4 Medium Red Capsicum (bell pepper)
1 x 400g tin diced Italian tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 tspn dried Oregano
1 tspn dried Basil
1/2 tspn Paprika
1 tspn vegetable stock powder (optional)
Red Wine

In medium saucepan, fry finely chopped onion and garlic in 1 tspn olive oil.

Add finely chopped (or vitamised) zucchini, sweet potatoe/pumpkin, carrot and red capsicum. Sautee.

Pour in tin of diced Italian tomatoes and add water.

Add oregano, basil, paprika and vegetable stock.

Bring to boil and then let simmer as you add red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon works best).

Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until vegatables tender and preferred flavour acquired.

At the same time, boil spaghetti. Drain when el-dente.
Top with sauce and some grated vegetarian tasty cheese.

Bon apetite!

Monday, March 2, 2009

(Vegetarian) Recipe Monday

Pasta Sauce with Tomato, Capsicum & Asparagus

1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Clove Garlic
1 cup chopped Red Capsicum (bell pepper)
400g can diced Italian tomatoes
1 tspn dried Thyme (or 1 tbspn fresh)
1 bunch of asparagus (or 1 can of asparagus tips & cuts)

In a large saucepan fry onion and garlic in 1 tspn of vegetable oil until tender.

Add capsicum and fry for a few minutes before adding diced tomatoes and thyme. Simmer for 5 minutes.

(If you want a smooth sauce, at this point pour sauce into a blender & mix, then return sauce to saucepan).

If you are using a fresh bunch of asparagus, steam until tender. Then slice into 1" pieces.
If you are using a can of asparagus tips and cuts, make sure you drain liquid.

Add asparagus to sauce and allow to heat through.

Then serve atop your favourite pasta (agnolotti or gnocci are my personal preferences).

Add parmesan cheese if you eat it.


(**I made this on the weekend with the intention of taking a photo to share of the end product, and then completely forgot. Trust me when I say it's delicious!)