Thursday, 28 June 2012

A 'This Blog turns One' Giveaway

I can't believe it's been one year already since I started this blog. This past year has been lots of work, but mostly lots of fun. The blog gives me the push I need to actually turn all the ideas in my head into reality! Some of them turn out great, and others not so great...but the best part is giving them a go!

I'm amazed at how quickly the blog has grown from just my hubby proof reading it. I've now got over 500 Facebook fans and lots of other followers! I am so grateful to all of you who keep stopping by. Thanks for your visits and your comments. I read every single comment and it's still exciting when I see there's a new comment on the blog.

Because I'm in such a happy blogiversary mood, I thought I'd have a giveaway. It's my way of saying thank you for visiting!

Up for grabs is your choice of my 'go to' books. You can choose any one of these books and should you win, it will be shipped to you by

To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below. You just need to like thingsforboys on Facebook (if you already do that's fine) and then tell me which book you would like to win!

These are the books you can choose from:

The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook
I am always pulling out this book and flicking through the recipes. It has a 40 page introduction to Baby-led weaning concepts and then over 130 recipes. I have made the Sugar-free Carrot CakeWarm Apple WedgesEggy Bread, Burgers, Thai Curry and Cheesy Tuna Pasta salad to name a few. While it doesn't really have any mind blowing recipes in it, I love referring to it when I'm in a bit of a baby food rut and can't think of anything to cook. Even if I don't follow a recipe I get inspired by all the ideas in it.

River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook
If you need pictures of the recipes in your cookbooks, then this book is for you. I love the index at the beginning that mentions different fruit and veg, when they're in season, how to store them and what to do if you have a glut. It also lists what pages you can find recipes using those ingredients. It also has a guide to introducing solids. It includes recipes for purees if you're taking that route and also baby-led weaning friendly recipes. I've made the Pea Risotto, Apple Muesli, Polenta Chips and Rice Pudding and I'm dying to try the Apple and Cheese on toast.

Sewing Basics
This is a great book for the beginner sewer. There are no projects in this book, it's more of an encyclopaedia. It covers tools and equipment you'll need for machine and hand sewing as well as different fabric types, understanding patterns, and different types of seams. It then covers techniques such as darts, gathering, elastic, fitting using a toil
é, lining, hemming, pockets, zips, buttons, collars, sleeves, waistbands, cuffs, trims, appliqué and embroidery and more...see what I mean by encyclopaedia?! It's not an overwhelming book though.

Crafty Minx
This book is full of simple projects for handmade treasures and features a lot of fabric recycling, which I love! There are simple projects for baby things, a few tote bags, a kids play tent (tepee), several home décor and clothing projects. This book isn't just about sewing either. It has lino printing , collages, papier-mâché and colour bubbles for the kids too. My Rice Heat Pack was from this book.

Good luck everyone!

My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 25 June 2012

Stamped Wooden Chopping Board - Attempt 1

Stamped Chopping Board

This is a bit of a craft fail, but seeing as we all have them, I thought I'd show it to you all in case someone out there ever tries to do this too! Hopefully I'll save you the trouble.

I have a very good sense of smell. I call it my 'Super Nose'. Having a really good sense of smell and taste can be great when I'm at a restaurant and want to figure out what's in my dinner so I can make it at home. It's not always a blessing though. A few times hubby has cut up some watermelon and has used our standard chopping board. This board is mostly used for chopping onions and garlic and I find the taste of the comes through into the watermelon. I'm sure he thinks I'm making it up, but the watermelon definitely tastes onion-y when he's used that board.

I thought I'd stamp on one of the chopping boards so everyone knows that it's for fruit. No onions and garlic on this board!

I used my VersaCraft ink pad which says it works on wood. It stamped on nicely and look clear. Now for the real test...washing it! I ran a hot hairdryer over the ink for a while to heat set it and then went at it with a wet sponge. Boo! 90% of it washed away. I think I might try again with the wood burner next time.

Stamped Chopping Board

So, note to self (and any other stampers out there)  VersaCraft inkdoes indeed work on wood but is in no way wash proof, water proof or weather proof. Has anyone out there had any success getting VersaCraft inkto stay on wood?

Friday, 22 June 2012

The Sunshine Award!

Sunshine Award by Jennifer Edwards
Watercolour Image (C) Jennifer Edwards

I was very excited to find out yesterday that Erin from Taking Time to Create nominated me for the Sunshine Award. Erin does lots of card making and lots of other crafts. Oh, and her Strawberry Jam looks amazing. The Sunshine Award is given from bloggers to bloggers. It is for someone “who positively and creatively inspires others in the blogosphere." Thank you Erin, what a lovely compliment!

Here's how the award works:
First, use your lovely manners and thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them. 
Next, answer the following questions about yourself. 
Then, choose up to 10 of your favorite bloggers and link their blogs to your post.  Be sure to let them know that you are nominating them for the award. 
Last, be sure to copy and paste the award to your blog! 

The questions:
1.  Favorite color - This is a really tricky one for me. Can I say rainbow? I guess that's cheating. At the moment I'm loving green, but my go-to is probably pink. It's such a happy colour.

2.  Favorite animal - Rabbit. We had two gorgeous little bunnies many years ago and I still get excited like a little girl when I see one. 

3.  Favorite number - 7. Not sure why, but it always has been. I always thought odd numbers were much better than even ones. That's a bit number-ist isn't it?

4.  Favorite Drink - A really dirty, Dirty Martini. Yum! I'm still on the hunt for the perfect olives so I can make these at home.

5.  Facebook or Twitter - I'm only new to Twitter, so I guess Facebook. I find it pointless, but I still check it several times a day to see what everyone is up to. Ah, the lacklustre social life of a SAHM.

6.  Good book or good movie - I love a good book, but I don't find much time to read these days, so I guess a movie. I'm not into girly movies though, so it would have to be a comedy or an action flick.

8.  Giving or getting gifts - I absolutely LOVE giving gifts. When I come up with an idea it keeps me awake all night! I love going to heaps of effort when I think of something perfect. I love making hampers and kits too. I like buying a heap of different things to put together into one fun gift!

7.  My passion - Creating! It doesn't matter if it's cooking or crafting, I love creating things. I love thinking about the best way to go about it and then putting it all together. Convenient that I have a blog then, hey?

9.  Favorite day - It has to be Saturday. I'm sure that's a very common answer, but it's the first day of the weekend and hubby is home so we can all hang out.

10.  Favorite flower - I love Sunflowers. They're so big and happy! I think it's cool when they're in the garden that they follow the sun too. 

My 10 Nominations:
I thought I'd introduce you to some blogs that I love that you may not have come across.

1. Craftstorming I've been following Laura's blog for ages and still can't believe she's only been sewing for one year. She is super creative and has two totally cute models to show off her work. She makes macarons too! Who could resist a quackeroon?

2. Bubala Jo's blog is bad for my to-do list! I quickly decided to buy the Urban Hoodie pattern after seeing Jo's rendition of the Urban. And these little caps she just posted are all kinds of cute!

3. Kitchen Historic The concept of Anje's blog is unique! She posts a historic recipe, a modern version of it and what she and her hubby thought of it. I love to have a laugh at some of the old recipes. I love that Anje rates the recipes in her index too. Very helpful.

4. Sew Delicious Roslyn is a fellow Melbourne girl so I feel like I already know her even though we've never met. She has lots of great sewing projects and the odd recipe too. Her tips for making zips nice and neat on pouches are great! 

5. Feelin' Crafty I love Louise's modern take on quilting. Her latest project, a sewing machine cover makes me smile just looking at it. I made a cover for my overlocker a while back, but I think it needs an upgrade.

6. Living a Little Greener makes me want to pack up everything and move to the country, grow all my own vegies and finally get some chooks!

7. Russian Mom Cooks - Anastasia has a heap of lovely recipes, not just Russian ones. This Raspberry Torte is my kinda cake!

8. Mend and Make New Jen does some great things with thrift store finds. Check out this cute girls tunic and this awesome hoodie!

9. Sew Together Here's another Aussie blog. I was instantly drawn to Maryanne and Caroline's blog. It's nice and fresh looking and I know I would have made myself dizzy and sick if I had one of these skirts as a little girl.

10. Kapora's Journey A great mix of recipes and mothering and lots of cute pics of her little boy! Her cheesy French Toast is amazing!

Thank you also to Jennifer Edwards for letting me use her beautiful watercolour that created when she received the award. If you wish to use the image, please contact Jennifer. Check out more of Jennifer's amazing work here.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Oven Baked Apple Chips

Apple Chips

These apple chips are so easy to make that they don't really need a recipe. But I'll make your life easy and post one any way. I've seen some recipes around that use sugar, but I don't see the need. The baking, which dehydrates the fruit, intensifies the apple's sweetness and flavour all on its own.

Play around with different thicknesses for your slices to see what you're happy with. The thinner they are, the quicker they'll dry out. I made wafer thin ones and 3mm (1/8") ones and prefer the thicker 3mm ones. I use my v-slicer for this, because I know I can't cut evenly. I like horizontal slices because you get the star shape from the seeds, but it doesn't matter which way you slice it.

These are handy to keep in the pantry for when Roman needs a snack and he's still young enough that calling them 'chips' makes him think he's getting a treat. Even if he eats all of them, it's only one apple.

I'm sure this would work for potato slices too!

Oven Baked Apple Chips

1 apple
1 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 100°C (200°F). Line 2 baking trays with silicon baking mats or baking paper.

Wash the apples under hot water and scrub with your hands. Dry with a tea towel to get off any wax. Put the lemon juice into a bowl with a cup of water. Thinly slice the apple, dropping the slices into the water as you go. The lemon water (acidulated water to all the chefs out there) will stop the apple slices going brown. You can leave this step out if you don't have a lemon, but your slices might not look as appetizing.

Take the apple slices out of the water one at a time, running them over the edge of the bowl to get off any excess water. Place them on the baking trays in a single layer.

Bake for about 1 hour or until dried out. My thicker slices needed 1.5 hours. Take the trays out of the oven and peel the slices off to make sure they don't stick. You can put them straight back on the tray to cool. Once totally cool, store in an airtight container in the pantry.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Hey Girl, Happy Birthday

Hi everyone, Abby's hubby here, just thought I'd post this as a Birthday surprise. :)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Hello, Lover!

Pfaff Ambition 1.5

It's my 30th Birthday tomorrow and my totally awesome hubby said I could get a new sewing machine!! Happy Birthday to Me! There's nothing wrong with my old one, but I've outgrown it and there were some features I wished it had.

I taught myself to sew on my Mum's old Pfaff when I was about 10, and I've always wanted to go back to a Pfaff. I never knew there were so many cool features I needed on a machine until I went into the shop and saw what I've been missing out on all these years.

My lovely new Pfaff Ambition 1.5 has a heap of decorative stitches, a touch screen , alphabets, stop/start, needle up/down, extra high lift on the presser foot, the amazing Pfaff built in walking foot (IDT) and so many more things I don't even know about yet.

I'll put up a review of it once I've given it a good run. Now, to figure out what to do with all these pretty stitches!

Pfaff Ambition 1.5

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Fold over Cuffs for Footies or Mittens - Tutorial

Fold over cuffs

During the cold Winter months, I like putting Roman in footed pyjamas. I know his toes will stay nice and warm. I get cold feet so I feel like he will too. Now that he's in a size 2, they're hard to come by. He has a pair with fold over cuffs that are genius, so I've been studying them. Luckily, it's really easy to add them to a pair of pyjama pants so that any pair can have footies on them!

These cuffs can also be used to put fold over mittens onto the sleeve of pyjamas for little ones. The good thing is, when your child grows out of the footies, just unfold them and you have a long pair of pyjama pants due to the nice long cuffs.

Fold Over Cuffs for Mittens or Footies

You'll need:
A pair of pyjama pants*
Ribbing or cotton lycra
Sewing supplies

Fold over cuffs

Measure the length of the bottom of your babies foot (or shoe if your little one is asleep). Add 5 cm (2"). (For mittens add 1 inch.) Double this to get your length. My measurement was 32 cm (11 + 5 x 2). Cut 2 rectangles this length and the width of cuff you need. The width should be slightly less than the width of the hem you are adding the cuff to.** My measurement was 9 cm.

Cut 2 rectangles for the fold over cuff. Use the same width as above and 1.5 x length you calculated. (For mittens, I would almost double the length.) My measurement was 48 cm. All my pieces are laid out above.

Fold over cuffs Fold over cuffs

Fold the long pieces in half lengthwise, right side out. Fold the short pieces in half lengthwise, right side in. Then, fold up the end of the longer pieces up so that they are the same length as the short pieces.

Fold over cuffs Fold over cuffs

Put the folded piece inside the short piece with the raw edges all up the same way.

Fold over cuffs Fold over cuffs

Stitch up both sides. Turn right way out.

Fold over cuffs Fold over cuffs Fold over cuffs

Feel free to play with them just to make sure they work. Genius! This got me thinking I should put some mittens on a top for really cold days when I'm out walking with the pram.

Fold over cuffs Fold over cuffs

Now attach the cuffs to the pants the way you usually do and with the fold to the back.

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

*If you want to make a pair of pyjama pants, then I'd recommend the Sleeping Johns pattern from 'Growing Up Sew Liberated' made up in a knit of some sort. Just add the cuffs to the unfinished bottoms of the pants. If you're using a pair of already finished pyjama pants, just cut off the hem first.

**The hem of my pants was 10cm wide, so I cut my cuff pieces 9cm wide. Once sewn up, the cuffs are about 7cm wide.  If the pants you are using have quite loose fitting legs, then you may need to measure around your babies foot to get a good width measurement. The cuffs should be reasonably snug.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Cottage Pancakes

Cottage Pancakes

We recently pulled a 2.5kg (5.5lb) cauliflower out of the garden, so when Dara of Coffee and Lilacs suggested this recipe to me, I made it right away. The recipe only uses a little bit of cauliflower, but any little bit helps.

These cottage pancakes are lovely, light savoury pancakes and you can change the veggies to suit. I already had some ricotta so I used that instead of the cottage cheese in the original recipe. I also added some dill.

The recipe comes from 101 Cookbooks. If you haven't heard of Heidi's blog before, it's full of wonderful healthy recipes. Check out the original recipe here.

Roman and I ate these for lunch guessed it, cauliflower soup.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

Upside Down Cake

When I was a kid I thought this was the coolest cake around. I loved pineapple and glacé cherries (still do) and thought that it looked so fancy when you turned the cake out. I found and old packet of the cherries hiding in the back of the fridge and rather than throw them out went and bought eggs, butter, pineapple and brown sugar to make this cake...that's logical right?

The recipe is from a Women's Weekly recipe card. My Nana gave me her set of all the cards (there are hundreds). There are a lot of crazy old fashioned recipes, but a lot of classics too. I think my Mum was hoping to score the cards...that's ok Mum, I'll share them with you.

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

125g butter, softened
3/4 cup (170g) caster sugar
2 eggs
2 cups (300g) self raising flour
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup pineapple syrup from can

Caramel Topping
60g butter, softened
1/2 cup (110g) brown sugar, firmly packed
470g (15oz) can pineapple slices in syrup
glacé cherries

To make the topping, mash the butter and brown sugar together with a fork. Line the base of a 20cm (8") square tin with baking paper and spread the butter mix over the paper. I found it easiest to squash it with my hands. Next time I would melt the butter, stir in the sugar and then pour it into the tin. I think the result would be the same, but it would be less messy.

Drain pineapple slices, reserving the syrup, and arrange slices and cherries on top of butter mixture in the tin.

To make the cake, beat butter until pale and then beat in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating until light and fluffy. Fold in sifted flour and combined milk and syrup alternately. Beat lightly until smooth.

Spread cake mixture carefully in the tin, making sure it's nice and flat. Bake in a preheated 180°C (360°F) oven for 50 - 60 mins or until cooked through.

Remove the cake from oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes before turning out onto serving plate. The cake is lovely served warm while the caramel is still sticky.

Upside Down Cake Upside Down Cake

Monday, 4 June 2012

Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter!

Blanket Coat

I have a strange attraction to things that are possibly so ugly I think they're amazing! I have a pair of embroidered shoes that definitely fit this category and I have a feeling this coat is one of those things, but no one is game to tell me. The making of this coat was a 'meant to be' moment.

A friend of mine gave me some old woollen blankets and there was something about the pumpkin and teal combo that I was drawn to. That same week, I went to the library and found a stack of old Burdastyle magazines in the freebie pile. I snapped them up quick smart! I remember borrowing the magazine ages ago and thinking that the coat looked so nice and comfy. When I saw it again, I knew I had to give it a go.

Blanket Coat Blanket Coat

The pattern is from Burdastyle 11/2010 and is meant to be made from Loden, but I thought that a nice old blanket would work just as well. The original is very over-sized and since I'm not as much of a coat hanger as the model I made mine smaller by cutting the smallest size and omitting the seam allowance. I also shorted the sleeves by about 5cm (2") as they look crazy long in the original picture. I also think it could do with some waist shaping, so I might play with it a little bit more. I want to add a button too. It has in-seam pockets, which I almost didn't put on, but hubby said I should and I'm glad he did because my hands are always in them.

Hubby was great and helped me lay out the pattern pieces so that I could match up the blanket pattern symmetrically and try to stick to just one blanket. I was given two of these, so there's still a possibility for more experimenting. Anyone else thinking matching pants? ;)

Blanket Coat

Friday, 1 June 2012

Hungarian Goulash

Hungarian Goulash

Many European countries have their own versions of this stew, but what makes Hungarian Goulash unique is paprika...lots of it! The meat, usually beef (or veal) is simmered for hours until it's so tender it falls apart. Aside from the paprika and the meat, you only need a few additional ingredients making this stew simple to put together. And don't let the short ingredient list fool you, goulash has a lovely heart-warming flavour.

The tender meat makes this great for serving to babies and toddlers too. I like to serve it with polenta, but you can also put it with pasta, mashed potato or rice. If you want to make it more of a meal you can add some sliced capsicum, mushrooms or green beans.

Make a double or triple batch and freeze it in portions for days you don't feel like cooking, but it's too cold to go out for takeaway.

Hungarian Goulash
serves 4 - 6

3 tbsp oil
3 onions, diced
2 carrots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
800g casserole/stewing steak (I use chuck steak), diced into 2cm chunks
4 tbsp tomato sauce/ketchup*
3 bay leaves
pinch chilli flakes (optional)

Add the oil to a casserole dish over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent and soft. Try not to get much colour on the onion. Add the paprika and beef and stir together well. Add enough hot water to cover the steak and add the tomato sauce, bay leaves and chilli (if using). Season and stir it all together.

Simmer for 2 hours over low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally. Take off the lid and continue to simmer for about an hour, until it reduces and thickens to your liking.


*I use the tomato sauce because it's quick, but if you don't like the idea of using it, add 3 tbsp tomato paste and 1 tbsp sugar.
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