Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Getting Shoe Polish Out of Carpet

Shoe Polish Carpet Stain

I took my boots to the cobbler the other day (anyone else think of Karl Pilkington when they hear 'cobbler'?) to get the soles re-done. I picked them up looking shiny and new and took them home. I put them on this morning when I got up and 5 minutes later noticed a few horse shoe shaped marks all over the carpet. Not impressed! It's nice when the guy polishes your shoes after fixing them, but it would be better if he scrubbed the polish off the heels!

Anyway, this meant that rather than making up a cute tutorial for you all I was in stain busting mode. After some quick Googling, I was ready and armed. I know you're always supposed to test this kind of thing in an inconspicuous area first, but I was naughty and I didn't...luckily, it worked!

Getting Shoe Polish Marks Out of Carpet

You'll need:
Dry Cleaning solvent or Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover
Liquid Dish Detergent
Clean Rags

Scrape off as much polish as possible. Because mine was a transfer stain, there weren't any bits of polish. Sponge the stain with dry-cleaning solvent or nail polish remover. This can be pretty smelly so open a window and cover your nose. Blot with a clean rag until the liquid is absorbed.

Mix a few drops of liquid hand dishwashing detergent and one tablespoon of ammonia (Caution: Never mix chlorine bleach and ammonia - the resulting fumes are hazardous) with two cups of hot water.

Using a clean rag, sponge the stain with the detergent/ammonia solution. Blot with a clean rag until the liquid is absorbed. If the area feels sticky from the detergent, sponge with a damp sponge and then blot again until dry.

I went around the house getting many other unknown stains out of the carpet with just the detergent/ammonia mixture. It worked really well. 

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Vegetable and Noodle Slice

Vegetable Noodle Slice

This is a different take on Zucchini Slice and makes a nice change from the norm. With the noodles added, it's a meal in one! Easy to make and great for kids and baby led weaning. The addition of the oyster sauce seems a bit odd, but I think it works. You can use any veggies you have.

Vegetable and Noodle Slice

2 cups cooked noodles, rice or pasta
2 medium zucchini, grated
1 medium carrot, grated
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 cup self-raising flour (or 1 cup plain flour & 2 tsp baking powder)
3/4 cup grated cheese (such as tasty or mozzarella)
4 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup oyster sauce

Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). Grease a 20cm x 30cm slice tin. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing 2cm overhang at long ends.

If using long noodles, chop into short pieces.

Squeeze excess liquid from grated zucchini and carrot. Combine noodles, zucchini, carrot, corn, onion, flour and cheese in a bowl.

Place eggs, milk, oil and oyster sauce in a jug. Whisk to combine. Stir through noodle mixture. Spread mixture into prepared pan. Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden and just set.

Stand for 20 minutes to set. Serve

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Pimp my Sheet - Stamped Bed Sheets

Stamped Sheet

I made fitted sheets for Roman's cot (tutorial here) from an old bed sheet, but decided they're a bit plain and boring. To jazz them up (jazz is a dorky word isn't it?) I stamped a design onto them. This project was fun and easy and I'm so pleased with the result.

Because it's a bed/cot sheet, I went with a sleepy theme, using ZZZ as my outline and filling it with the word 'dream' stamped many, many times. I think it would also look cool with initials for the outline and first name stamped inside.

Stamped Sheet Stamped Sheet

I printed out a large 'Z' on some card and then cut it out to make my stencil. I pinned the stencil to the sheet and then got stamping. I have a set of clear alphabet stamps that I put onto an acrylic block for the 'dream' and then inked it up with a VersaCraft ink pad. I bought mine on eBay and this is what they look like. I bought little 1 inch square ones and they last really well.

These ink pads are great and by ironing the stamping it sets permanent. You need to cover the stamping with another piece of fabric and I find that you do get a bit of transfer, so use a scrap. I actually did the stamping about 6 months ago and it hasn't faded at all after lots of runs through the washing machine.  They apparently work on wood and leather too, though I haven't tried it out.

I also used the VersaCraft ink on Roman's Oliver + S Bucker Hat and on my Cutlery Storage Rolls.

Stamping is a fun, cheap hobby and I like that the supplies don't take up much room. I first got into stamping when we were living in London and I needed a new hobby. I kept my supplies in a shoe box.

And as you can see, I don't believe in ironing bed sheets.

Stamped Sheet

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Cocktail Hour - Balalika


This drink is very similar in taste to the Blue Kamikaze, but looks more sophisticated. So if you think you're too old to drink blue drinks, give this a go. It's also a better option if you're having a drink before you head out and don't want to risk having a blue tongue.

serves 1

1 shot Vodka
1 shot Cointreau (orange liqueur)
1 shot lime juice
ice cubes

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, and shake well. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a slice of lime peel.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Make your own Rice Heat Pack

Heat Pack

We don't live in the coldest of climates, but I'm one of those people who is always cold, so a heat pack comes in handy. This heat pack is based on the one in The Crafty Minx, a lovely book I have full of simple, crafty and recycling ideas. It's great for headaches or a stiff neck and is even nice cooled and put over your eyes on a stressful day.

Heat packs are quick and easy to make and you can add some extra ingredients to your pack to give it an aromatherapy vibe if you like. Use your favourite loose leaf tea, herbal infusion or dried flowers. I'm sure you could also add a few drops of essential oil to the rice too.

The heat pack can be warmed in the microwave or the oven and even put in the freezer to give you a cold pack. See bottom of post for heating instructions.

If you're worried about it getting grubby, make a pillowcase for it. Cut a square 32 x 32 cm (13" x 13"), fold it in half and sew one short side and the long side closed. Turn out and hem the opening.

Heat Pack

You'll need:
30 x 30 cm (12" x 12") square of cotton - I used calico
A few cups of rice (regular, not quick cook)
Any aromatherapy goodies you want to add*
Sewing supplies

Fold the fabric in half right sides together. Sew all the way around the edge with a 1cm (3/8") seam, leaving an opening about 5cm (2") on one short end for turning and filling. If you're concerned about the seams breaking and rice covering your house, sew a second line next to your seam within the seam allowance, or overlock the edges. These photos below are from making my bean bag toys.

Bean Bags Bean Bags

Clip corners and turn right way out. Using a funnel or a cone of paper (or a teapot - thanks Mon!) fill the bag about half full with rice. Play around with the amount until you're happy with how heavy and full it feels.

Move all the rice to the other end of the bag. Tuck the seam allowances in and very slowly stitch about 2mm (1/16") away from the edge. When I get to the end, I turn around and come back, so that the seam is reinforced. Make sure the rice is well away from the seam. You don't want to break a needle trying to sew through it! (Yes, I did this)

To heat the pack:
Oven - Put the pack in a 120°C (250°F) oven for 5 - 10 mins. Remove with oven mitts and let it cool a little before using.
Microwave - Microwave on high for 1 - 2 mins. Heat further in 30 second increments if it is not warm enough.
Chill - Put in the freezer or fridge for a few hours.

*For my chai bag, I added the contents of a few chai tea bags. For my bergamot-lavender bag, I added the contents of a few earl grey tea bags and some dried lavender.

Online Sewing Class

Monday, 14 May 2012

Jelly Playdough

Jelly Playdough

I bought the packet of jelly to make this ages ago, but kept forgetting about it. I'm glad I finally got around to making it, because Roman loved it and played with it for about an hour!

The jelly is added to colour and fragrance the playdough, but isn't strictly necessary. I used 'Blue Berry' flavour and it does smell pretty yummy!
I don't like the gritty feeling of the salt in the usual playdough recipe, so I dissolve it first in the water. 

Jelly Playdough

1 x 85g (3oz) packet Jelly cystals
1 cup flour
2 tbsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup salt* 
1 cup hot water
2 tbsp vegetable oil 

In a saucepan, stir together the jelly crystals, flour and cream of tartar. Put the hot water into a jug and add the salt. Stir to dissolve. Pour the salt water and oil into the saucepan and stir it all together with a wooden spoon. It will be pretty runny.

Stir constantly over a low/medium heat until it thickens and comes away from the sides of the saucepan. Take off the heat and knead with the wooden spoon until cool enough to handle. Turn out onto your work bench and continue kneading until it's cool enough for kids to play with. 

Store wrapped tightly in cling wrap. 
23/09/2012 - I still have this same batch of playdough. It's lasted more than 4 months! After Roman plays with it, I just re-wrap it tightly in cling wrap. I change the wrap when it's looking a bit yuck.

*The original recipe uses 1/2 cup salt, but I only had 1/4 cup and it turned out fine.

Jelly Playdough

If we weren't renting this house, I'd totally paint the walls white. The colours in my photos always look weird!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Reusable Cotton tea bags

Reusable Cotton Tea Bags

Ok, so you probably think I'm mad - reusable tea bags?? Bear with me though.

My cup of tea usually ends up with lots of tea bits in it, and I have to leave the last mouthful or two. The diffuser/tea ball I have does a terrible job of keeping the tea in. My tea press isn't much better. In the middle of the night when I should have been sleeping I wondered if anyone has made reusable tea bags. Sure enough they have. A quick Google of reusable tea bags the next day had me sorted.

Reusable Cotton Tea Bags

I followed this tutorial on lillyella and in less than 10 mins I had a lovely reusable tea bag all of my own. Even better, I had a beautifully clear cup of tea to enjoy. No more bits!

I used a piece of unbleached calico to test it out and it works really well. Although, I wouldn't want to use anything thicker. To make the holes in my calico I used a tapestry needle threaded with perle cotton, combining 2 steps in one. I also trimmed the seams with pinking shears so that they don't fray and I don't end up with little bits of cotton in my cuppa!

Reusable Cotton Tea Bags

The tutorial makes a little tea bag, similar in size to a paper one, so if you want a nice big one or want to make a bag for a pot, adjust the size as needed.

I made up a few for black tea, and a few for green. The ones I've been using for black tea are nice and 'tea dyed'.

Yes, I could probably just get regular tea bags, but they seem a bit wasteful and I love loose leaf tea. It just seems so much more romantic than an ugly old paper tea bag.

Reusable Cotton Tea Bags

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

My attempt at Pierre Herme's Macarons

PH Eden Macarons

I realise that macarons have been done to death, but they are totally delicious and I haven't seen this recipe online anywhere, which is why I had to translate it.

If you're lucky enough to have tried one of Pierre Hermé's macarons, then you know what the hype is all about. I first tasted them in Paris nearly 3 years ago and then would occasionally buy a few from Selfridges when we lived in London. Every time I would bite into one, I was amazed at how much flavour could be contained in such a tiny little biscuit.

Pierre Hermé has not yet opened a patisserie in Melbourne, but does have a book, Macaron, full of his recipes. This book is just beautiful to look at. I have the French edition, and even though I can't read French, I love it! The super closeups of the macarons make my mouth water. It is available in English now too. I did spend an evening with my laptop open to Google translate and translated this recipe because I was dying to give them a go. These were my favourite of all the macarons we tried. I have to say, I was quite impressed with how they turned out and they were pretty close to the original.

The ingredient list is ordered a bit strangely, but it's the order you need to use the ingredients. There are two lots of egg whites listed.

Pierre Hermé's Eden (Peach, Apricot and Saffron) Macarons
makes about 72

For the ganache:
140g soft dried apricots
450g white peaches
20g lemon juice
20g fresh cream
20 saffron strands
350g white chocolate

For the macaron batter:
300g ground almonds
300g icing sugar
110g aged egg whites (I had some in the freezer)
yellow and red food colouring
300g white sugar
75g water
110g aged egg whites

To make the ganache, cut the dried apricots into 2mm cubes. Peel the peaches, halve and remove stones. Finely chop the peaches and combine with lemon juice. Pass through a fine sieve.

My peaches were to firm to pass through a sieve, so once all the ingredients were mixed together, I pureed the mixture with my stick blender. 

Bring cream to a boil, remove from heat add the saffron strands. Cover. Let steep for 10 minutes. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Heat the peach puree to 40°C. Pour the warm peach puree and saffron infused cream over the melted chocolate. Stir in apricot cubes.

This is where I blended it all. The original recipe uses 10 saffron strands, but to get enough saffron flavour I used 20.

Transfer the mixture into a shallow dish. Push cling film onto the ganache to cover. Chill in the fridge until ready to use. I made mine 3 days in advance.

To make the macaron shells, sift ground almonds and icing sugar together. In another bowl, mix together the first batch of egg whites and colouring. Mix well, but do not beat. You want a deep orange colour. Pour over almond/sugar mixture but do not mix.

Put the white sugar and water into a medium saucepan and start to bring to 118°C on the candy thermometer. When it gets to 115°C, start beating the second batch of egg whites. A stand mixer is preferred, but handheld will do just as good. When the sugar syrup gets to 118°C, switch the mixer to high speed and pour sugar syrup in slowly, continue beating on high speed for 2 minutes, the whites will get thick and glossy. Beat on medium until it cools to 50°C.

This was my first time making Italian meringue and it's pretty amazing stuff! It's so glossy, thick and stable, but light to eat. Because it uses sugar syrup, there's no chance it will be grainy. I want to give it another go for a pavlova.

Add a third of the meringue to the sugar/almond/egg white mixture and fold in thoroughly. You can be pretty rough with this first batch. Add the remainder of the meringue and fold gently. The batter should be thick, but slightly runny. If it's too thick, whip it a little more.

After putting all my mixture into my piping bag, I realised that mine was a little too thick, but it worked out in the end.

Prepare a piping bag with a plain tip (I used a #12). Put the batter into the bag and pipe circles onto baking paper. I printed out this template and put it under my baking paper. Rap the baking sheets on the bench to get any air bubbles out of the shells.

Leave the shells to sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours. I left mine for 30 minutes, they were just fine. They've been sitting long enough if you gently touch the shell with your fingertip and your fingertip doesn't stick to them.

Bake in a preheated oven at 150°C to 180°C. Bake for 12 minutes, opening and closing the oven door at the 8 and 10 minute mark. This lets out any steam. When done, remove from the oven and transfer the baking paper from the tray to your work bench. Repeat with your remaining trays. Leave the shells on the baking paper until completely cool. They should then come off the paper easily.

PH recommends testing the oven temp with a few shells. I used 150°C for 13 minutes and it worked perfectly for my oven. The shells should not take on any colour. Once the cooked shells are cooled, it's a good idea to pair them up for filling. 

To assemble the macarons, put the ganache into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip (I used a #12). Pipe a generous amount of filling onto one shell and top with its partner. Keep in refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving.

This recipe does make a huge amount, but the filled macarons freeze really well, so I recommend making the full amount. That way, when you feel like a macaron, you can just pull one out of the freezer. Hubby has advised me that they taste good straight from the freezer. I prefer to let them thaw out first.


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Cocktail Hour - Blue Kamikaze

Blue Kamikaze

I wonder if Old Mother Hubbard liked a cocktail? If she did, I know how she felt when her cupboard was bare! We had to go and stock up the liquor cabinet recently. There was no vodka, Bacardi or gin in this house. What a crime! You can tell I favour my clear spirits, can't you?

After my mammoth effort sewing last week for the KCWC, a cocktail is definitely in order and will make a great start to the weekend.

This drink has a lurid blue colour and a great sweet and sour taste. It's a bit of a girl's drink, which just means that it tastes nice and can sneak up on you if you aren't careful and have a few.

Blue Kamikaze
serves 1

1 shot Vodka
1 shot Blue Curacao
1 shot lime juice
ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake well, then pour through a strainer into a tumbler filled with ice, or a martini glass if you're feeling fancy.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

KCWC - Part 3

Hooded Vest

Kids Clothes Week Challenge is indeed over, but I just couldn't handle having the hooded vest unfinished, so finish it I did!

What an awful project! Everything that was wrong with it was all my fault, but it worked out all right in the end. As mentioned in my previous KCWC post, the fabric is a lycra blend so loves to stretch, which made sewing the zip in a nightmare. I ended up hand basting the zip with little stitches which worked well. After that, I sewed the zip in, top-stitched all the way around the edge and then decided to try it on Roman. Of course, it was a bit tight, so I had to unpick most of the top stitching and sew the zip again, unpick some more...you get the idea. Anyway, I managed to get an extra inch in width, so it was worth all the effort and it looks super cute with the matching pants.

Hooded Vest Hooded Vest

I also totally forgot to show you these denim shorts I made during the week. I made them and put them away in Roman's drawer and totally forgot about them! They're made using the same method and pair of jeans as the toddler jeans tutorial I posted. I think I like them better than the jeans, only because I used the contrast top stitching for a mock fly and around the hems. I made them a little big, so they should be perfect for Summer at the end of the year.

Denim Shorts

While that's more than enough sewing for the moment, I'm pretty sure I'll be back at the machine sooner rather than later. All this sewing has just got my mind racing with ideas!

Roman being a Squirrel

We went down to the park for the hooded vest and trackpants photoshoot. Roman was mainly interested in squirrelling away dried apricots in his cheeks. The polo shirt he is wearing is also from my efforts last week at the KCWC. It matches perfectly with the vest lining which is a bonus.
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