Monday, 30 January 2012

Rules for Mums with Boys

Swimming time

Roman has been a ball of energy lately. I have a few posts that I've started, but haven't been able to get any photos for, because he wont sit still for longer than a millisecond! We took him swimming on the weekend to try and burn up some of the energy. So today, I don't have anything to show you that I've made, just something that I came across and thought was worth keeping in my mind.

It's easy to get frustrated and worn down when Roman is grumpy, teething, doesn't feel like eating, doesn't feel like sleeping or won't sit still.

Sometimes I need some inspiration to remind me what it's all about. I saw this list on pinterest and it's just lovely.

25 Rules for Mothers of Sons

Go and read it and feel inspired to take on another day. Oh, and you may need a tissue box handy.


Friday, 27 January 2012

Oliver + S Bucket Hat - Free Pattern and Review

Oliver + S Bucket Hat

This is the first Oliver + S pattern I have tried out and I love it! It is well written, easy to understand and makes a great finished product that is true to size. It's funny that I say true to size, I actually had to make the size 3 - 5 years, even though Roman is only 15 months. That is because his head measured up for the 3 - 5 years size. That boy has one big fat head! The health nurse tells me it means he has a big brain, but I think she's just trying to make me feel better.

I was cruising Sophie's beautiful blog, roubidou when I came across the pattern. It is worth testing out and you can get it for free here. I deviated from the pattern a little bit and skipped the hand stitching, just carefully machine stitching the last piece into place. I also added eyelets so that I could add ties to the hat, but still keep it reversible.

This was another stash busting project too...gotta love a project that doesn't cost you anything. For the inside of the hat, I used an old business shirt of hubby's and for the outside, I used scraps leftover from making Roman's fitted cot sheets, stamping the bikes onto the fabric. I think next time I would use fabrics that are a little more heavyweight, as the hat is a little bit floppy, but nothing terrible.

For the stamping, I used some VersaCraft ink. You can pick up these ink pads for a couple of dollars and the ink can be set permanently with the iron. I got 2 impressions from each inking of the stamp, so tried to make a bit of a pattern, with a row of black bikes and a row of faded bikes. I'm really happy with the result.

Oliver + S Bucket Hat Oliver + S Bucket Hat

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Strawberry Sauce for Free!

IMG_2011

This syrup is great for using up strawberries that aren't quite up to eating standard. You know, those ones you bought and then forgot about? You can also collect the tops you cut off (leaves included) and make the sauce from them. My sister in law said this was the best thing she's ever eaten! Pretty delicious for food scraps. If you don't have the lemon juice handy, don't worry, you can leave it out. It adds a little tang, but isn't essential.

Strawberry Sauce

The worst part about making this was that I had to put it with the vanilla ice cream just to take the photo. Then it had to be eaten...sometimes blogging is so hard ;)


Strawberry Sauce
makes about 3/4 cup

200g strawberry bits
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Simmer strawberries, water and sugar for about 15 minutes, until the leaves are looking brown and sad. Pass mixture through a sieve, pushing well on all the pieces to get as much strawberry goodness as you can. Add lemon juice. If you find the sauce is a bit thin, you can cook it down further over gentle heat.

IMG_1391

This is lovely on ice cream, pancakes, waffles, with a slice of cake, or mixed into plain yogurt. You'll figure out what to do with it!


Saturday, 21 January 2012

T-Shirt Shopping Bag

T-Shirt Shopping Bag

I always have a reusable shopping bag in the bottom of my handbag. The one I've been using finally died, so I made up a new one from an old t-shirt.

This is really simple and quick and a great way to give new life to an old t-shirt. The jersey makes the bag nice and stretchy so you can fit a lot into them too.


T-shirt Shopping Bag

You'll need:
An old t-shirt (or a new one)
Sewing Supplies


T-Shirt Shopping Bag

Turn T-shirt inside out and sew bottom of T-shirt closed, using a wide zig-zag or a serger. I curved the corners on mine because I thought it would look nicer, but you don't need to.

T-Shirt Shopping Bag 

Lay it out nice and flat and make sure the seams are straight, particularly where the sleeves are. A lot of t-shirts have wonky seams.

T-Shirt Shopping Bag

Cut the sleeves off and then cut around the neckline. This will create the straps for the bag. Check that the opening is big enough. If it's a bit small, lay the t-shirt down again and trim the neck slightly larger. Cutting it deeper is best, because you want to keep the straps nice and wide.

You can call it a day if you like, or for extra strength, sew over the seams from the shoulders and a couple of inches down the sides to reinforce them. I like to do this, since I have cut into the seams and I don't want them coming undone when my bag is full of goodies.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Candy Cane Brownies

Candy Cane Brownies

I love to put Candy Canes on the Christmas tree, but we seem to forget that they're there and I've always got some leftover after I take down the tree. Chocolate and mint go great together and this recipe is a delicious way to use up any leftover candy canes.

The mixture is all made up in the saucepan, so you don't have too many dishes to clean up.


Candy Cane Brownies

150g dark chocolate
120g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 tsp peppermint extract (optional)
50g (1/4 cup) sugar
2 eggs 
150g (1 cup) plain flour
good pinch salt
3/4 cup crushed candy canes, I used 10
100g (1/2 cup) dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 180° C (350° F). Grease and line a 20cm (8 inch) square baking dish and line the bottom and up 2 sides with baking paper.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the chocolate with butter, stirring often. Remove from heat and leave to cool for about 10 minutes. For an extra peppermint hit, add the peppermint extract. Stir in the sugar and then add the eggs and mix until combined. Now gently mix in the flour and salt. Add 1/2 cup of the candy canes and the chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining candy canes.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and cool in the tin. Turn out onto a board and cut into pieces to serve with a tall glass of milk.




Sunday, 15 January 2012

Smoothie Time!

Smoothie Baby

Roman and I have been getting right into smoothies lately and have been enjoying them for breakfast. We change it up everyday, depending what fruit is in the fridge.

Smoothies are great for babies. They can learn how to use a straw, or a spoon, or a cup and have lots of fun making a mess when it ends up all over the highchair tray! At first Roman loved sipping them with the straw, but then figured it was quicker to gulp from the cup. Smoothies are also good for getting lots of calcium into your baby. Roman seems to drink a lot more smoothie than milk. I also love that they're another option for breakfast too!

I'm pretty sure everyone knows how to make a smoothie, so I'm not going to bore you with a recipe...just some pictures of my gorgeous baby instead! Totally unbiased and objective opinion of course ;)

I always use yogurt and milk in them and then add a couple of different fruits. Mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, banana, berries...whatever's going! I never measure anything, I just throw it all in the blender! The mango and banana make them super thick, and the watermelon thins them out. I think he's old enough to have honey now, but the fruit is sweet enough, so I've left it out.


Smoothie Baby Smoothie Baby Smoothie Baby Smoothie Baby

Friday, 13 January 2012

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd is delicious on all sorts of things. Toast, waffles, crepes, sandwiched between 2 layers of cake...the list goes on. It's easy to make and this recipe is simpler than a lot of others as it doesn't use a double boiler.

It keeps well in a sterilised jar and even freezes pretty well. I think it loses a little bit of it's silkiness, but nothing major. It also makes a lovely gift.


Lemon Curd
makes about 3 cups

6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
90g unsalted butter
3 tsp grated lemon zest
150ml lemon juice


Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a saucepan until well combined but not frothy. Add butter, lemon zest and juice. Stirring constantly, bring to simmering point over medium heat (about five minutes).

As soon as bubbles begin to appear, remove from heat, still stirring. If your curd has little eggy chunks in it, pass the curd through a sieve. Transfer to sterilised jars and allow to cool.

Every now and then I find that the curd doesn't go as thick as I would like. It does thicken on cooling, but if you find that once cool, it's still a bit runny, thicken it up with some cornflour. Add a little cornflour to a pan and blend in a bit of the curd. When combined, add the rest of the curd and then heat up over medium heat until just boiling, stirring constantly.


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Hooded Sweatshirt into a Zip Up - Tutorial

Sweatshirt to Hoodie

I have this hoodie that I'm quite attached to. It's nothing special, but I feel so nice and cosy inside it. The problem is, I don't really wear it because it's a bit tight around my hips. Well I solved that problem by cutting it up the middle and adding a zip! Now it's a zip up hoodie that I can wear un-zipped or zipped up (the zip adds a tiny bit extra to the width of the hoodie)

This project only took about 1/2 hour and I'm really happy with the result. You could do this with any old top that you think you'd get more use of as a zip up.


Make any top a Zip Up

You'll need:
A top
An open ended zip
Sewing supplies


Measure your top from the bottom up to the neck to get the size of zipper you will need. I bought a 51cm plastic open ended zip.

Sweatshirt to Hoodie Sweatshirt to Hoodie

Take your top and mark out a line up the middle and then cut. Be brave! I unpicked the neck a little bit first because the hood overlapped and I didn't want to cut the hood at all.

Sweatshirt to Hoodie

Place your zipper halves on each side of the top right way up.

Sweatshirt to Hoodie

Turn each piece over. Pin them down at each end if you like pinning. You'll be stitching the zip halves on, then folding the seam under so the zipper is right way up.

Sweatshirt to Hoodie

Machine baste each half of the zipper to your top about 3mm from the edge. Zip it up and make sure it sits nicely and any pattern on your top matches up. You may need to unpick and re-baste if your pattern is a bit mismatched. I had to unpick once to get the stripes to match up nicely.

Sweatshirt to Hoodie Sweatshirt to Hoodie

When you're happy with it, overlock or zigzag along the edge, going over your basting. This is important if your top is made from a knit fabric, so that the fabric doesn't unravel or fray.

Fold the zip right way out and press. Make sure if your zip is plastic that you don't iron on the zip and melt it.

Top stitch about 5mm in from the seam to make the zip sit nice and flat.

Now get into your cosy top and sit on the couch with a cup of tea!


Saturday, 7 January 2012

DIY Sugar Scrub: Great for mechanics

Sugar Scrub for Hands

My brother is a mechanic and all-round handy guy, so often has grubby hands. I made up a pot of this to give to him for Christmas. It's lovely and moisturising for hard working, dry hands. It's great to use after a day gardening, cleaning or even packing (I always find my hands get really dirty and dried out packing boxes). The sugar scrubs off all the muck, and the honey and olive oil do wonders to heal and moisturise the skin.

While I've mentioned uses of this as a hand scrub, it would also be great for your feet and probably the rest of your body too.

Hubby just tested it out on his hands after getting some grease on them and said they're lovely and clean and soft...his words.


Sugar Scrub
makes 400ml (12oz)

1/2 cup olive oil*
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp honey
a few drops of your choice of essential oil (optional)**

Put the sugar into a bowl and add the olive oil and honey. Work it all together until it is evenly combined. It will be like wet sand. If you want  to add some essential oil (I used peppermint), add it a few drops at a time and stir it in and check if it smells how you want.

Put into an airtight jar, ideally with a wide mouth so you can scoop a bit out with your hands when you need it.


If you like this recipe then please take a moment to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with thingsforboys.

*Any good quality oil will be good for this recipe. Almond oil, macadamia oil or coconut oil would also work. If using coconut oil, melt it first.

**Any essential oil would be nice, but I think lemon, orange, lavender or peppermint are particularly nice. Instead of essential oil, you could also add a little bit of vanilla extract, for a delicious cakey scent.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Gravlax

Gravlax

Gravlax is a salt and sugar cured salmon that looks and tastes lovely and posh but is super easy to make. All you need to do is cover the salmon with the salt cure and leave it for a few days to cure in the fridge, then you cut it up.

I prefer the taste of Gravlax to smoked salmon and when I make a batch, I do a bit more than planned and we eat it for brunch with scrambled eggs. I find it less rich than smoked salmon, which means I can eat more of it! We had this as a starter on Christmas Day with some fresh baguette.


Gravlax

800g salmon fillet*, skin on
100g coarse sea salt
100g white sugar
1 tsp coarse ground pepper
30g dill, finely chopped - this is 1/2 bunch or 1 cup tightly packed


First, make the salt cure by stirring together the salt, sugar, pepper and chopped dill.

Gravlax Gravlax

Put a piece of plastic wrap in a dish that your piece of salmon will fit into nicely. Put half the salt cure onto the plastic wrap and place the salmon on top, skin down. Sprinkle the rest of the cure on top and press it into the salmon.

Gravlax Gravlax

Wrap the salmon tightly in the plastic wrap, then place another dish on top and weigh it down with some cans or other heavy fridge friendly items.

Place the salmon in the fridge and leave to cure for 2 - 3 days, turning the salmon over every 12 hours (if you forget don't worry too much). I like it better after 3 days of curing, rather than 2. A lot of liquid will end up in the dish as the salt cure pulls the moisture out of the salmon.

Gravlax Gravlax


Once cured, remove from the plastic wrap and brush off as much of the cure that you can with paper towel. Don't wash the salmon. The skin will be hard. Put the salmon on a chopping board and cut wafer thin slices on the diagonal, towards the tail, leaving the skin in tact. The first few pieces from the tail end tend to be a lot saltier than the rest.

I know that this keeps for at least a week, but any longer I'm not sure...ours is always gone by then.

*I like to buy a tail piece, so that when I'm slicing it, I know which direction to slice.


Gravlax

Monday, 2 January 2012

Peach Sangria

Peach Sangria

I made a jug of this up for New Years Eve and it went down a treat! It's probably a total abomination of Sangria to add the peach schnapps, but it was a lovely addition. It's been really hot these last few days so I'm sure another jug will be chilling in our fridge soon enough.


Peach Sangria
makes about 2 litres

1 peach, sliced
1 orange, cut into quarters and sliced
1/3 cup Orange liqueur (cointreau, curacao or triple sec)
1/3 cup peach schnapps (if you don't have this, add more orange liqueur)
1 bottle dry red, I used Shiraz
2 tbsp sugar
1 bottle soda or sparkling water

Put peach and orange slices into a jug and add Orange liqueur, peach schnapps, red wine and sugar. Stir gently until the sugar dissolves. Put in the fridge to chill until ready to serve.

To serve, top with soda water and stir gently. Check for sweetness and add some more sugar if you like.

Peach Sangria
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