Friday, 31 December 2010

Finally back to temari making

The last few weeks have been so busy, it seems like I have done EVERYTHING except make temari or yubinuki. During the afternoons this week I have managed to pick up my needle to complete some UFO's. In the late mornings I've been taking my son to swim classes at the beach.  I must say I am amazed at the number of people laying on the beach frying away. I wear a huge hat, 3/4 sleeve shirt and 3/4 length pants and any exposed bits are generously slathered with 30+ sunscreen, the only bit that is bare are my feet which I bury into the sand - trust me there is nothing worse than sunburned toes. I am lucky to have been injured in a car accident when I was 16, the plastic surgeon who stuck me back together was most firm at drumming in the sunsafe message for my facial scarring, and almost 3 decades later the message has still stuck with me even after the scars have faded to almost nothing.

After an hour and a half in the baking sun I am exhausted so we get all our chores done before swimming and then try to do as little as possible afterwards. I have been working a version of a pattern from my small Ondori booklet. This is a S4 with additional support lines. Sorry this picture is a bit dark, but I got called away this afternoon and when I got back it was too dark for natural light.

I think I will pull the band back off and re-wrap it in some other colours because in this pic it looks awful. Let's see what it is like in the morning light. While I have been stitching this, I am also thinking about the design options for my last two JTA temari.

I also have just purchased 3 stockings for next year from an ebay store located in Canada can you guess which one will be mine?   I haven't seen stockings like this in Australia.

Our Aussie dollar has gone so high against the USD hitting 102 cents today, which is the highest in almost 30 years. This means that I could treat myself to a bit of discretionary spending. Sadly the yen hasn't done the same thing... the Aussie dollar is still languishing around 81 JPY.   :-( but we did have a good spot with the Yen about 3 years ago when we could buy 105 JPY per AUD... maybe that will happen again.

I am expecting to need to find several quiet things to do for a few days starting on January 1st... our weather forecast is for 4 or 5 consecutive days over 40C. Egad! When I saw the following forecasts from the WA bureau of meteorology I can honestly say I nearly cried. I think I will be spending as much time as possible over the next week doing early morning watering on the garden and trying to keep the chickens cool with a little misting, I'll even give the dogs a super big brush to get rid of as much loose hair as possible as the clippers that will manage to cut their hair has not yet been invented.

1.1.11 Saturday Sunny. Min 19 Max 36
2.1.11 Sunday Very hot, sunny. Min 21 Max 40
3.1.11 Monday Very hot, partly cloudy. Min 24 Max 40
4.1.11 Tuesday Very hot, partly cloudy. Min 25 Max 40
5.1.11 Wednesday Hot before a humid change. Min 25 Max 40
6.1.11 Thursday Partly cloudy. Min 22 Max 32

On the plus side I realised that new years day has a date that I like. All number ones. Hopefully this is auspicious and can signal new beginnings for all that want them.

Well that's it for this year. In a few hours it will be 2011, I wish you all the best for your celebrations, stay warm, safe and dry until next year.

Cheers and 乾杯 (Kampai)  

Rebecca and the Aussie Temari Addicts.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Meet the girls

We finally got everything finished and have installed our 2 chickens in their house. Mr W named them Itchy and Scratchy not only because they are scratching around all day long and adjusting their plumage but because he liked the names from the Simpsons - not that he has regularly watched the show - he doesn't need that type of role modelling, but he has seen it once or twice.

I remember seeing some chicken inspired temari being showcased on temarikai a while back and now that I have looked closely at some real chickens I can see the inspiration. Click the link above to see the pattern by Karin Karlsson.

I am hopeful of getting enough stitching done soon to be able to show off something temari related.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Chicken Coop-la Hoopla

By now you are thinking I am completely and utterly mad! Insane, deranged and crazy! A temari blog with no temari? What? Well that would be like Christmas Day without a dip in the pool!

Well lately there has just been no time for temari making... so I've been sharing what I have been doing... so you don't think I have run off somewhere.

We had an awesome Christmas Day! A really delicious lunch with a huge ham, WA jarrah wood smoked lamb and beef, Japanese potato salad, sushi, coleslaw, garden salad, prawns - with a to-die-for dipping sauce, and a bunch of desserts made by someone... oh yeah me! After lunch there was hours of swimming, bombie competitions and water fights (it was 40.6C) and then when it cooled off a few rounds of Cricket and then Soccer.

Luckily my DH was home for most of the day, he had a short early shift and thanks to the people of Perth he wasn't recalled to rescue anyone from the ocean. We had a really great family day.

On Boxing Day we began making a box for our soon to be newest members of the family... 2-3 chickens. We have a large aviary which used to hold parrots etc but it has been empty for many years so we decided (after Miho and Seth had success with their chooks) to convert it. Here is Mr W winning $2 from me after I bet him he couldn't get into the box through the top and get out through the door on the front.

10GknU on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

We are not carpenters at any rate but this is pretty strong and should make our girls quite comfy... hopefully resulting in lots of yummy fresh eggs. In fact I did remind DH that I took 'clothing and fabric' and 'food and nutrition' at school instead of wood and metal works... and he had joined the navy instead of doing any of that! We originally planned to make a flat roof but decided it looked too coffin-like so we added the A-frame roof with a hinge for the front of the roof to open up.

Last week we made some new vegetable patches, they also look a little grave-like, but we have been trying to recycle unused items around the property and all we had to make the beds were the white bricks. No matter I am sure once (if) the plants get going it will look great.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

If you feel a bit *blah* most of the time read this

I recently began this program of eating along with my mum, because we had both been feeling unwell for a long time, me for more than 12 months and she for nearly 9 years. Are you like us? Do you avoid eating particular foods because you feel sick with pain afterwards? Do you suffer from painful joints and lack of energy? Need a little nap after lunch most days? Get stuck in the bathroom? Did you answer yes to any of these questions?

Release your self from pain and suffering with this easy to follow method of eating which will give you back your energy and health. There are no special foods or pills to pop but you will feel awesome following this program. I would never ever endorse something I didn't completely believe in, so believe me when I say this works 100%. I am a skeptic, I rarely believe anything I am told, I began this program just to pacify my persistent Mother... how lucky for me that I did (even though I refused to believe it would make any difference to my health). My Mum and I feel better than we have in years after less than a month and we noticed the changes in just a day.


Quick Overview:
With more than 1 out of 3 adults in the US (70 million) taking OTC or prescription pills for digestive disorders and the pain associated with them, as a nation, we have serious health problems. And we're spreading our problems around the world.

What most people are frustrated with is that even if they eat how most health professionals consider to be healthy, a large percentage of people STILL experience digestive problems. And so most people resort to drugs, surgery or eating bland foods. Or they just continue to suffer.
That's why the Great Taste No Pain System was developed -- to help slash some of the $42 billion dollars spent on those pills in the US alone.

This simple eating system is designed to dramatically reduce the acid pH measure in a person's entire body -- not just in the stomach. It does so by increasing the ratio of alkaline forming foods eaten and by showing you how to combine foods in a way that radically decreases the amount of acid digestive juices in the stomach and small intestines required to break down foods. With me so far? Hope so, because this is important stuff.

One of the primary components of the Great Taste No Pain System is the science of food combining, which was first introduced into the US in 1911 by Dr. William Hay, a New York surgeon who used it to cure his Bright's Disease, a kidney disease which was often fatal at that time. In fact, among the many thousands of lives it claimed was Teddy Roosevelt's first wife, who died of Bright's Disease at just 22 years of age.

A basic knowledge of Junior High chemistry is all it takes to see the logic behind this science: Mixing foods that require alkaline digestive enzymes with foods that require acid digestive enzymes slows and can even stop the digestive process. It can and does delay digestion by as much as 10 hours and more. This is incredibly bad for the body. The Great Taste No Pain system alleviates this problem, speeding food through your body, allowing it to absorb nutrients from foods at a much higher level.

In addition, one of the manuals in the Great Taste No Pain system, 'Foods That Create Acid, Foods That Take It Away,' is as clear as I've ever seen this data presented. Follow this simple guide and your body will use a minimum of energy in the digestion process, which leaves more energy for healing and other daily functions your body carries out.

This is a timely set of guides, because with our society's addiction to the convenience of processed foods, in many respects our health challenges are far worse than they were in 1911.

Great Taste No Pain author, Sherry Brescia, was a former Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) sufferer herself. In fact, in 1991, she spent 7 days in the hospital with bacterial colitis.

As a health insurance researcher and Chief Underwriter, she was able to research the benefits of an alkaline- balanced body and over the next 15 years perfected the system she now calls Great Taste No Pain.

She meshed a number of philosophies proven to help alkalize the body to create this simple system that anyone can follow regardless of where they are or what food choices they have available to them.

What I Like:

Taste: Unlike most restrictive diets, Great Taste No Pain cannot actually be called a diet, because it allows you to eat even great volumes of luscious, delicious food as long as you combine it according to a few simple guidelines. It truly requires very little willpower. Perhaps the greatest news for people who love to eat is that the 176 page recipe book in the system is stuffed with breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks that are unbelievably tasty. No rabbit food. Gourmet all the way, yet the meals (if you like to cook) only take between 15 and 30 minutes of prep time and make tons of yummy leftovers. So you can throw away the belief that you can't eat healthy on a super-busy schedule.

Speed: I love that you don't have to read 300+ pages before learning what to do. In the first guide, 'How To End Stomach Pain Forever, Even If Your MD says, "No Way,"' it provides a brief background on the science and then quickly moves onto the step-by-step 'how to.' I really love that.

Simplicity: The second Guide in the GTNP System is 'What To Eat With What.' This is a massive compilation. Every kind of food that you could possibly put in your mouth is listed, along with the corresponding foods that combine with it for easy comfortable digestion, and those foods that don't. This guide is so complete and so easy to follow, if you screw this up, it's back to pre-school for you.

More Simplicity: Traveling is the one thing that can ruin even the healthiest eaters. But in Great Taste No Pain, Sherry gives you a 'Pocket Guide For Pain-Free Dining Out.' This tool is phenomenal. You can store this little baby with your credit cards and, until you understand what combines with what, all you have to do is pull out your pocket guide and quickly note the rule, so you can eat and enjoy the rest of your day, pain-free.

Would you believe that you could eat McDonald's food and not suffer gassiness and reflux? Now you can!

Meat: While meat is not something people with digestive issues usually tolerate well on a daily basis (hence the daily pain), the problem isn't so much the meat as it is what you eat with the meat.

That is why each of the Guides in the system, including the recipe book, lists every possible food you can combine with meats without suffering. Most people will suddenly be able to eat beef, chicken, fish, pork, turkey, venison and any other type of meat they want. As long as you combine it right... no pain at all! And broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers and other veggies that can create havoc suddenly will not. That I love.

Fruit: Ask anyone that suffers stomach problems about fruit and you'll hear horror stories. So sadly, the most perfect food on the planet is shunned by a huge part of our world's population. No longer. Because you will soon learn why fruit causes you trouble and how to easily change that. You CAN eat fruit again, even if it now makes you turn blue! It's true!

While each Guide in the system is detailed and complete, they are "dumbed down" in the clearest language possible. So I don't doubt Sherry's claim that any 11 year old could teach it. This I really love.

Things To Watch For:

The one thing you want to be careful of is that once you start eating as prescribed in Great Taste No Pain, you could quickly begin to feel all powerful. You might start to think you are "cured" of your digestive problems since they went away so fast and since you have so much extra energy.

That would be a mistake.

Because technically there is no "cure" for most digestive problem, because technically they are not diseases at all. They are maladies brought on by eating the wrong foods and by eating them in the wrong combinations. So the principles in Great Taste No Pain is not a "cure," since people with sensitive stomachs will always be sensitive. GTNP is merely a way to make all symptoms go away forever and give you a lot more energy.

For example, let's say you've got it bad and have Diverticulitis or Crohn's. Great Taste No Pain can help you get rid of your symptoms very quickly.

But a year later, if you start eating like you used to, guess what? Yep, the symptoms will come back. You see, the principles that Great Taste No Pain is based on are sound. They work for everyone. But if you think that because you've been symptom-free for a long time, you've been "cured," think again. Go against these principles of easy digestion, and the problem can come back with a vengeance. Remember, good health comes from living a healthy lifestyle, not a"do it once and you're fixed" approach.

Another thing you might want to be prepared for is that since Great Taste No Pain cleanses your digestive tract, initially you could get a little diarrhea. If you experience constipation on a fairly regular basis, you might get a little "looseness" at first, but it will end soon.

Also, due to the detoxing going on, you might get a runny nose or get some other cold-like symptoms at first. It's nothing to worry about. If you do, while it might not be fun, it does mean it's working. It means your body is becoming purer and the toxins are leaving. And that is a very good thing.


When I began following the system, I personally was amazed at the amount of energy I had, even late into the evening. I had no discomfort, no bloating, I didn't feel the need to eat again within an hour and no need for caffeine after meals.

Professionally and personally, my strong recommendation is that for anyone who wants more energy, sounder and longer sleep, migraine headaches to stop almost immediately, pain from gastritis and acid reflux to stop almost instantly, and the pain of digestive problems to stop or be reduced dramatically, click here to get over to the Great Taste No Pain website now and get the whole system. You will be thrilled.

And frankly, it won't take a full day for most people to feel a major difference in their bodies. Often it just takes one meal. After you have been following it for a week or more, feel free to let me know how you like it. I personally believe that anyone who adopts this simple, enjoyable food combining method will reap gigantic health benefits. So if that is what you are looking for, get over to - and get started today.

All my best,

Rebecca Armstrong Koelma

Friday, 24 December 2010

Sneaky last post before Christmas

I've got a nanosecond between jobs to sit and write about the last thing I made for Christmas. Reindeer food. Now this is strictly reindeer only and not for human consumption. I made some bags to give out to my niece and nephew and the kids in the street.

The recipe is easy all you need is a plastic bag, half a cup of rolled oats and a good sprinkling of glitter and/or metallic scatter cutouts (you know the kind people put into cards). Dump everything in the bag and give it a good shake. Fold over the top of the bag, print out a label onto paper (or light weight card stock) and staple the label onto the bag. Tada! An easy but magical little giveaway for kids. Just make sure the kids and parents know this food is ONLY for reindeer not for humans. You might want to hand write 'not edible' or something on the back of the label.

Click the image below and print it out.

Now I am off to clean the floors and fold the washing because Santa wont want to visit a messy house!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Check Check Check Smile

This is my last bit of Christmas baking: Mini Pudding Cakes. These get served with Brandy Butter. Miho and I cut up all the fruit for these on Monday and I spent the day baking them yesterday 24 at a time... I must get more mini muffin pans at some stage.

Now I have finally finished all the Christmas baking My oven is switched to the OFF position for the first time in a week, I can't believe it! My kitchen is now free of bags of flour, dried fruit, nuts and sugar and all my Kitchen Aid equipment is back in the cupboard. All the gifts are wrapped, the cards sent out, all that is left is to go to the fruit and vegetable store, buy one last thing for my hubby and hang up the Christmas stockings.

We took a day off today and my Mum, Miho and I took the 3 kids to the swimming pool for a few hours. I don't usually swim, I have had a new bathing suit sitting in my cupboard for almost 3 years waiting to be worn, but I did take a dip today. I think it might have been the first time my son has every seen me swim. If we go to the beach I will often walk into the knee deep water, but never swim. I think he was impressed that I actually could swim. My Mum suggested we should make it a weekly event... I'm not sure about that but I will probably go again before the end of summer.

I am positive that someone has been stealing away days this year... it has whizzed by so fast. I can't believe Christmas is only 2 days away! In Perth we are looking at 38C on Christmas Day, the forecast keeps going up and down but my money is on being 35C at least. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a not too hot day here (and not too cold for you all in the northern hemisphere).

This is probably my last post until after boxing day so I want to wish everyone a very safe and happy holiday. I hope your day filled with love and laughter and that you get to share it with those you hold dearest.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Nut Tartlets

It was cold and wet today in Perth, totally weird for this time of year, you might recall that in my last post I was moaning about the heat melting my birthday cakes. I saw a news article about Heathrow airport being closed due to excessive snow falls.  Believe it or not it has even snowed at Mt Buller 3 hours east of Melbourne in Victoria.

Today has been nut tartlet making day. Miho and the kids all came over to help out. It was a really fun but very tiring day. We used some eggs from Miho's chickens for the caramel sauce filling in them. So yummy! I forgot to take progress pics and pics of Miho, Me and Miss D in our matching homemade aprons. Never mind I should really get a photo of us with my Mum who also has a matching apron. This is what the tartlets turned out like.

We made both macadamia and pecan varieties baked in a shortbread case and filled with a delicious caramel filling which turns into a slightly crunchy toffee when baked. The tartlets are sitting on the brandy soaked fruit which will become mini puddings tomorrow. Miss D kept stealing the nuts during the tart making and later when we were cutting the fruit I talked her into trying a dried fig... she got addicted and I had to eventually cut her off so she didn't get a sore tummy. Mr W kept sneaking the uncooked dough and I noticed several cooked tarts walking away in his pockets too.

Now I just wish the sugar plum fairy would come and do the dishes!!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Oh no my buttercream is melting!

It's hot, too hot! Too hot for butter cream icing anyway. I've spent the last two days making birthday cakes for my gorgeous niece (3) and nephew (1). I've made a banana cake with marshmallow frosting ducky pond with bulrushes and lily pads for my nephew and a butter cake with butter cream frosting fairy toadstool house for my niece. I hope we get to take some photos before they melt away in the heat at the party.

I learned something interesting, that is, butter cream will not stick marshmallows together to form toadstools even if the instructions say that it can be done. However the MacGyver in me worked out how to get them stuck together.  Put the regular marshmallow on a toothpick and using a small flame (I used a gas lighter) heat the end of the marshmallow, then quickly pull away the crusty bit and stick it to the underside of the toadstool cap shaped marshmallow. Remove the toothpick and Yip Yip Yippee it worked.

I'm so thankful for such a great husband who helped me clean up all the mess created by 2 days of cooking, but also made dinner tonight and washed all the dishes too. He also provided 'artistic support' by suggesting where to place the decorations on the cakes.

Now I just need to work out how to get the cakes to the party tomorrow without damaging them... and not forget the birthday gifts and the extra bits I need to stick onto the toadstool cake (fairies, butterflies coconut grass and cocoa to sprinkle on the mallow mushrooms).

On Monday I will get back onto the Christmas baking only the Pudding Cakes, Brandy Butter and Nut Tartlets to do now. Thankfully I have a few weeks until my son's birthday BUT I need to hope for cool weather because he wants an Echidna styled ice-cream cake.

Echidna: An Australian egg laying mammal also known as a spiny anteater. Click the link to see a picture, my favourite is the short beaked ones

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Recycled Hazelnut Temari

Last week I wrote about making some ice-cream desserts for Christmas. One of the recipes called for skinned hazelnuts, and while I would ordinarily throw the removed skins away, this year I decided to make a temari out of them. I placed the skins into a freezer bag with some rice hulls and wrapped it with a ball of wool. I was watching a movie while wrapping, and it must have been particularly interesting because I used the whole ball of wool. My base mari ended up having a 33cm circumference. I chose a navy blue thread base and C10 division. Last year (09) I purchased some braided Kreinick threads for $2 a spool, a local supplier was clearing their stock so I scooped up a whole bunch. I selected 5 glistening metallics and stitched a simple star in each face. My camera can't really pick up in the sparkle of the thread in such a small image but if you click each picture it will pop out a little larger to show more of a 'real life' view.

I liked how it turned out so I did it again using Sakasa Uwagake Kagari. This ball was slightly smaller at just under 30 cm. Again I put the points of the stars into the pentagon corners.

I really enjoyed the effect of both those designs and I wondered if I turned the points of the stars (from the first ball) onto the short lines of the pentagons whether I could make also stitch 6 pointed stars (similar to the second ball) over the 6 part triangle areas. Would it look too busy? If I kept the same threads for the 5 point star what thread should I use for the smaller 6 point ones? It thought on these questions overnight and then decided to just go for it, if the ball turned out to me a big sparkly mess it didn't matter because the threads I was using was inexpensive. I kept the same threads for the 5 pointed star and chose 5 variegated Krenick #8 braided threads (that I scooped up at the same clearance sale) for the 6 point stars. The base mari was 36cm. I spent ages trying to lay out the colours on the 6 pointed stars so no colour appeared twice around the border of any 5 point star. Yay for coloured head pins.

I didn't plan to make a set, but this so often happens with temari making. One question leads you to another and another...  On the upside of this experimenting, I think I have cracked a pattern by Barb Suess in the new Japanese language Temari book released earlier this year 7837701101 彩りのてまり歳時記 Coloured Temari: Seasonal Events (Irodori no Temari - Saijiki) featured on top of pages 52+53. I hadn't been able to turn the drawing in my head to work out how the pattern was laid out between the two main designs. But I had an AHA!!! moment as I stitched the first ball in this group. I wonder if Barb heard my very large penny dropping here in Perth. Things are always so obvious once you get 'it'.

I almost used all the thread on all 10 of the Kreinick spools... I stitched almost 100 meters of thread on these 3 balls. I've never really thought of it before, I usually think in time rather than length of design thread consumed... This made me wonder if I laid every piece of design thread I have used since I began making temari end to end... how long would that thread be? If I did the same in the yarn wrap or thread wrap how long would that stretch? I wonder how many years (and temari) it would take until I had used enough thread to stretch from here to Sydney (Approx: 4110km)? To the JTA museum in Tokyo (Approx: 7867 km)? Around Australia (Approx: 59,736 km)?

My boys like the third ball, I am partial to the second - in spite of the open spaces. What do you think?
Happy stitching.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Wonderful Surprise

This week I received a package from Kristy S in Queensland. It was a most lovely and unexpected gift.

I wasn't expecting any parcels so I was surprised to see the postman holding a package at my door. I turned the parcel over in my hands, saw the 'from' address and I instantly had a jolt of excitement run through me. I guess without being conscious of it, my mind had worked out by the size, dimension and weight of the box what was inside. I'm glad I was alone because I tore the paper off like a woman possessed.

My very first temari gift. I have made many temari to give for gifts but I've never participated in a GITS (Great International Temari Swap) through TalkTemari so I have never received one from another temari maker. Kristy took some beautiful pictures which are posted at her website. Please click here to have a look... you will link to Kristy's blog. The base thread is a gorgeous shade of deep blue (Kristy knows blue is my favourite colour) and the purple toned threads used for stitching the design are just divine.

Thank you Kristy you made my week!

Ice-cream Feast

I bake a lot at Christmas and my assigned course for our movable Christmas Day feast is usually dessert. The last few years have seen the weather in Perth get more extreme, the cold is colder and the heat is hotter so it is particularly nice to have something to cool down with during a hot Christmas Day afternoon.

Today I'm making some of my family's favourite Christmas goodies and I'm going to share them with you. These recipes are quite quick to whip up (especially if you can find skinned nuts) and they are almost always the first things I make because they can keep for weeks in the freezer.  Let's begin shall we...

Hazelnut Fudge Ice-cream Layer Cake.

 You will need:
400g Hazelnuts
150g Butter, softened
1C Pure Icing Sugar
3 Eggs
250g Dark Chocolate
1/4C Kahlua or Tia Maria Liqueur
2-3 Litres of good quality creamy Vanilla Ice-cream 

Here's what you do:
Step One:
Heat the oven to 200C and roast the nuts on a sheet tray in the oven for 10 minutes until the skins begin to loosen. Remove from the oven and place a clean tea towel over then a thick towel, this will insulate the nuts and help the skins to come off more easily. When the nuts are cool enough to hold, rub them in the tea towel until the skins come away. Roughly chop about half of the nuts.
Timesaver: Buy your hazelnuts pre-roasted and skinned.

Step Two:
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until the colour becomes pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beat well. After you add the eggs the mixture will split, but don't worry because it will mix back together when you add the chocolate and Kahlua.

Step Three:
Melt Chocolate by you favorite method (I microwave on 50% for 30 second bursts) and stir with a dry metal spoon until smooth. Stir the warm (but not too hot we don't want to scramble our egg mixture) chocolate and liqueur into the butter mix. Try not to eat all this yummy mixture.

Step Four:
Sprinkle the chopped nuts over the base of a baking paper lined spring form pan. Pour half of the chocolate mixture over the nuts and freeze for 30 minutes.  [You can use any size tin but the smallest I'd use is about 26cmX7cm round. If using a bigger tin you'll just have a thicker ice-cream layer.]

Step Five:
Stand ice-cream at room temperature until soft (I use a 4 litre tub and it takes about 15 minutes to soften on my kitchen counter). Spoon ice-cream over the chocolate layer and press down using the back of a spoon, fill until there is about 2cm of space in the tin. Pour over the remaining chocolate mixture. Freeze for about 30 minutes and then use the remaining nuts to cover surface. You may need to gently press them into the topping. Cover with foil and plastic wrap to keep out frost crystals. Freeze at least six hours before serving.

To serve: Use a platter preferably with a slightly raised edge to contain any melting ice-cream. Remove cake from freezer to counter  for 5 minutes and just before serving gently open the spring to release the pan base, peel back the paper as you slide the cake onto the serving dish. Slice with a sharp knife, serve immediately and return remaining cake to the freezer before it melts away completely. I usually store it back in the spring form tin or in an empty ice-cream container.

Raspberry and Meringue Ice-cream Cake.

 You will need:
 2 litres good quality creamy Vanilla Ice-cream
500g Raspberries (use berries of your choice fresh or frozen)
100g Meringue nests

Here's what you do:
Step One:
Line base of a spring form tin with baking paper. I seem to have lost yet another one of these tins so I am showing a regular cake pan lined with two pieces of plastic wrap to help the cake come out of the tin at serving time. Note: this would look nice made in a pudding tin too.

Step Two:
Scoop softened ice-cream into a large bowl. Add berries and gently crushed meringue nests. Stir until well combined. [I don't have a bowl big enough to do this all at once so I usually do this in two batches.]

Step Three:
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and press gently to smooth the top. Cover with plastic wrap and foil to exclude frost on the surface. Freeze at least six hours before serving. The last pic shows how much is left from 4 litres of ice-cream after both recipes are made.

To serve: Use a platter preferably with a slightly raised edge to contain melting. Remove cake from freezer to counter for 5 minutes and just before serving gently open the spring to release the pan base, peel back the paper as you slide the cake onto the serving dish. Slice with a sharp knife, serve immediately and return remaining cake to the freezer before it melts away completely. I usually store it back in the spring form tin or in an empty ice-cream container.

When I rubbed the skins off my hazelnuts today I made sure I saved them.  I'll add them to some rice hull for a special Christmas temari. Let me know if you try either of these recipes and what you thought.

Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Gingerbread things

Over the years I've learned that perfectly Martha Stewart moments only truly exist when kids are a bit older (or possibly not actually helping). On Wednesday night after dinner and tree decorating Mr W and Miss D decorated the gingerbread house. My brother did the house frame construction and then the kids went all out covering the rooftop with as much candy as the structure could support. Here is how it turned out. The top image is Miss D's roof side. I think she ate a fair amount of her candy before it even had a chance to get stuck onto the roof.

This side of the roof is Master W's. I did try to explain that his bears would be upside down when the roof was put on the house but (almost) 9yo's know so much better than their Mother. His writing in icing is better than mine of course so maybe he does know better.
I can almost feel myself slipping into a diabetic coma from the sight of it. My brother wrote the kids initials  here on the end of the house. The 'curtains' are interesting... very jailhouse chic. The kids (young and old) all enjoyed making this gingerbread mansion... it is a fun tradition that I hope will continue for many more years.

On Thursday we made gingerbread men. I had intended to just have W and my DH making them as a family activity but somehow we ended up with 2 of the neighbourhood kids helping out too. This meant that my tiny kitchen was too full of people so hubby got kicked out. Sorry no pictures of these as they all got nibbled up before I could take pictures, just as well too because some of them turned into conversation men after Wesley and I got tired of talking about whether or not he could have another cookie. Some had 'no' others had 'yes' and one had 'please' iced on them. Here are some gingerbread snowflakes we made yesterday to use up the icing and left over dough. The one with the lime tictac stuck on top used up the very last of the icing.

Happy stitching/baking/shopping/decorating/other to you until next time!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Christmas temari finished

I've been stitching merrily away this week and I've finished my temari for the neighbours. It has been a fun project and I finished it just in time for December 1st.

I don't know what the rest of the world does but I know many Aussies use a simulated (fake) tree for Christmas. When I was a kid we used to have a real pine tree that my father would go cut down from the forest about a week before Christmas. Most years we were lucky to get it to survive the 7 days in the heat despite watering it every day.  In our home we now use a fake tree... I like to think the real tree can stay in the forest to keep the air we breathe cleaner for everyone. This also means we can do a December 1st tree decorating get together. For many years my family have gathered on Dec1 for dinner and tree decorating and tonight will be no different.  It is usually just a simple meal and then we spend the majority of the evening decorating and finalising plans for our Christmas day celebrations. We will also make the gingerbread house tonight... this is a new tradition we began last year so the grand kids can have some fun... we make two, last year one got nibbled on the night and the other lasted to Christmas day.

But before I send my son  and maybe my niece down the street to hang our gifts on all the neighbours doors... here they are all stacked up on the plate.

And hanging individually on my mini tree. Cute huh? But not quite special enough so I decided to string them together with a tassel. I also added 3 rondell (I think that's what they're called) swarovski crystals to add a bit of bling.
And how the neighbours will receive them all strung together. I will use a paper clip bent open to place them on everyone's screen door with a little note.

Sorry this last pic is a bit fuzzy but I've got to run and get other things organised for tonight... or dinner might be even more simple than usual.