Monday, 29 October 2012

Happy Birthday Roman!

Dino Tail

Roman turned 2 on the weekend and we had the family around for a little party. It was lots of fun and we all ate far too much party food!

The morning of the party, hubby and I put together a little cake for him. Roman loved his 'Car Cake'

Subaru Forester 2nd Birthday Cake Subaru Forester 2nd Birthday Cake

Along with the Felt Play Mat I made for him, I also made up this Dinosaur Tail. I used this tutorial by Jess from Running with Scissors to put it together.

Dino Tail

I went looking for fabric to make it and found this taffeta. I know taffeta is a strange choice, but the print was so cool, I had to get it! I used a double layer of felt for the spikes, but I don't think felt was the best choice as the velcro from the strap sticks to it and fluff it up.

Dino Tail Dino Tail

He got given a truckload of trucks from everyone and has been having lots of fun filling them up and pushing them around. Happy 2nd Birthday Roman!

Dino Tail

Friday, 26 October 2012

Zumbo Hamper Winner!

Salted Caramed Macarons

Drum roll please!

The winner of the Adriano Zumbo Hamper is..................................

Naomi Raewyn Fuller!

You said your favourite Macaron flavour is 'Salted Caramel!'. That's lucky, because you'll now have 2 boxes of them to test out, along with lots of other Zumbo treats!

I've sent you an email, so please get back to me in the next 2 days with your address so I can get your hamper sent out to you. If I don't hear from you, I'll draw another winner. Sorry to get all parental on you, but gotta cover the T&Cs. ;)

Thanks to everyone who entered! If you're trying out one of the mixes at home, make sure you take a look at Zumbo's Site for some videos full of tips on how to get the best out of your Macarons and cakes.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Zumbo Salted Caramel Macarons Review

Zumbo Salted Caramel Macarons

First, I showed you how the Zumbo Brownies turned out. BUT, you've all seen a Brownie made from a box before, so how about the Macarons?!

As far as Macarons go, these were easy to make. They were a bit more involved than making the Brownies, but they are still Macarons.

The packet contains pretty much everything you need to make the Macarons. There is a pack of meringue mix, a pack of almond meal mix and a pack of filling. It also includes the 2 piping bags you'll need, one for the shells and one for the filling. The bags are nice and big, so all the shell mixture fit into the bag in one go. The packet also includes a little template for making the shells. You can use it to trace onto the back of the baking paper. I already had templates that I'd printed out when I made the Pierre Herme Macarons, so I skipped this step and probably saved myself 10 minutes.

Zumbo

The back of the pack tells you what you need to get that isn't included in the pack. For the Salted Caramel Macarons I need some water, 2 baking trays, baking paper (I love that this is listed), butter and sea salt. It does also list the amounts. The box art is really eye catching and definitely shows off the finished product, no fancy table decorations or serving suggestions needed.

The Macarons are pretty straightforward to make. Whip the meringue mix with water in a mixer to stiff peaks. Add the almond mixture. I beat the almond mix in by hand. I did slightly over-mix my batter, so the batter was a little runny while piping, but they still turned out well and didn't spread too much while resting. I let my shells stand for about 30 minutes to make sure they were nice and dry before going in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes and remove.

To make the filling, whip the filling mixture and butter together. Stir in the sea salt and then fill the shells. I think the filling definitely needs the salt in it. It's super sweet and the salt really balances it out and gives them a nice 'salted caramel' kick. They are called Salted Caramel Macarons after all!

I do wish the pack came with more filling. There is enough batter to make about 40 shells, but only enough filling to make up 15 macarons, using 30 of the shells. I also found that while they tasted like there was enough filling, they didn't look like they had enough filling. I had to be quite skimpy filling them so that I could fill all 15. That's my only gripe. I think this is such an accessible and easy way to make Macarons and I look forward to trying out the Passionfruit flavour.

Want to try your own? Enter the competition to win a Zumbo Hamper here.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Adriano Zumbo Brownies and a Giveaway!

Zumbo Brownies

If you're an Aussie, you will have heard of Adriano Zumbo. He is Australia's answer to Pierre Herme, making crazy macaron flavours and all sorts of other delicious desserts. Until now, you had to go to Sydney to try his fabulous treats, but he has come up with the perfect solution - premium packet mixes!

These are new out in stores. I was lucky enough to be sent some by the team at Soup, but you can pick up your own at your local Woolworths. In the next few weeks Coles and IGA will be stocking them too! You can have your own taste of Salted Caramel Macarons, Passionfruit Macarons, Choc Mirror Mud Cake and Chocolate Brownie Mix.

Zumbo

I couldn't wait to test these out so when a few girlfriends came over for a catch up, we whipped up a bunch of brownies. They did not disappoint! There was no trace of  'packet mix flavour' to be found and I honestly think they were better than the Brownies I make from scratch!

Zumbo

Now for the exciting bit...thanks to Soup, I'm giving away a hamper full of Adriano Zumbo's new goodies, so one of you can test them out too!

The hamper contains:
- A copy of Adriano Zumbo's book Zumbarons
- 2 Salted Caramel Macaron Kits
- 1 Passionfruit Macaron Kit
- 1 Choc Mirror Mud Cake
- 1 Chocolate Brownie Mix
- 1 Zumbo apron

To enter the competition, just use the Rafflecopter form below. You need to like 'thingsforboys' on Facebook and then tell me what your ultimate Macaron flavour would be. Bonus entries can also be gained. Please note that due to the size of the hamper, this competition is open to Australian residents only. Apologies to anyone outside Australia hoping to enter. You'll just have to take my word for it that the Brownies were amazing!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Home made Cavatelli Pasta

Cavatelli

I went to an Italian Cooking class last week and got so inspired I haven't been able to sleep! One of the things we made was Cavatelli pasta. It looks a bit like long shells, inside out Orecchiette, or Gnocchi, but there's no potato in the recipe. All you need is semolina flour and water!

Oh, and a Cavatelli machine. I got mine at an Italian imports store which happens to be close by, but you can get them online. If you don't want to get a machine, then you can form the dough by hand or make it into Orecchiette pasta. Check out this youtube video. The lady makes it look so easy!

Cavatelli

The machine makes quick work of the dough and using it for the first time, I took about 45 minutes to roll out my dough into logs and then feed the logs through the machine. Now that I've had a go I know I'll be a lot quicker next time.

The pasta was amazing! I was so impressed with how quick it is to make too compared to making Spaghetti with the roller. No need to roll the sheet thinner and thinner. I think this pasta will be on high rotation at our house. This pasta also works well in pasta salads.


Hand-made Cavatelli Pasta
serves 3 - 4

500g fine semolina
about 200g (200ml) warm water
Flour (semolina or plain) for dusting


Pour the semolina into a large bowl. Add 3/4 of the water. Work the water into the semolina to make a dough that is fairly stiff and just holds together. Add a little bit more of the water as needed. Depending on the semolina you have and how humid the day is the amount of water needed will change.

Take the dough out of the bowl and knead for a few minutes until it is smooth and staying together. Form the dough into a ball. Cover in cling wrap and leave to rest on the bench for about 30 minutes.

Un-wrap the dough and cut off a slice about 1cm (1/2") thick. Keep the rest of the dough covered with a damp tea towel. Roll the dough into a log about 1cm (1/2") thick. Feed the dough log through the Cavatelli machine. Sprinkle the Cavatelli with flour so that they don't stick together.

Repeat with the rest of the dough. Leave the Cavatelli in a single layer on floured trays or towels to dry out for at least an hour or until you are ready to use them.

Because there is no salt in the pasta itself, make sure you're generous when adding salt to the cooking water. They should take about 5 minutes to cook and will still be just firm in the centre.

You can leave the pasta to dry completely and then store in an airtight container or if where you live is very humid, you can freeze them on trays and then transfer to plastic bags once hard.


Ok, so you've made some Cavatelli but what do you have them with? Here's some sauce suggestions:
- a simple butter and garlic sauce, covered in piles of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese!!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

KCWC Wrap Up

Oliver + S Bucket Hat

I had grand plans for a Super Sewing Saturday. Hubby would keep Roman company and I would get a crazy amount of sewing done and have lots to show you. Then Mum offered to have Roman for the day, so instead hubby and I went out for lunch and to the movies. It was really nice to have a day together and relax. But, that does mean I don't have a lot to show you.

I did manage to finish my Oliver + S bucket hats and as always, I'm so happy with how they turned out. To add a strap, but keep them reversible, I added an eyelet to each side and then knotted a strap in each side. They can be easily pulled through to which ever side you need them on, or un-knotted to be removed. I used Jess' tip from a little gray to make the hat a 'no hand sewing' project. Another tip when putting the hat together - I found that when adding the brim to the side of the hat, the side was a bit bigger than the brim, so I simply made a few snips into the seam allowance of the brim to ease it to fit the side.

Oliver + S Bucket Hat

Today I finished off the Basic Pocket Shorts. They look so retro with the vintage fabrics I used. The stripe fabric is some crazy non-stretch polyester knit and I have no idea what the main fabric is....all I know is that it's old! They turned out pretty good, but the crotch is a bit baggy in the front. I think the waistband needs to be set a bit lower. You can see the front folding over on itself in this photo below.

Basic Pocket Shorts

All in all, I'm pretty happy with how much I got done this week. The only thing I cut out that I didn't get to sew up was a Flashback Tee, but I should get that done this week.

I hope you all had fun sewing along this week. Check out the Flickr pool to see what everyone has been up to!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

KCWC Update

Urban Hoodie

Well KCWC is already past the halfway mark and I've been doing a lot of sewing, but I don't have a lot to show you.

I've been making a few things for my niece for her first birthday, but I don't want to put up any pictures until after her birthday.

I've made Roman a pair of shorts and I'm halfway through the Oliver + S Bucket hat. I'm making 2 at once which is going well.

I also made up the Urban Hoodie by Heidi and Finn. Thanks to tips from several bloggers I got the size pretty good. I cut out the size 4 which measured a tiny bit bigger than an 18-24 month sized Hoodie Roman already has. For the sleeves, I cut the size 4 arm hole, but graded it down to the length and width of the size 2 sleeve. These changes worked out great and I would say I've made up a perfect size 3. It's a little big for Roman right now, but I want it to last until next Winter, so the sizing should be spot on.

To make construction a bit quicker I only lined the hood and the overlapping panel. For the outer I used a grey marle tracksuiting with these cute vintage telephones on it. The hood is lined using an old t-shirt of Hubby's. It's super soft.

I'm still on the hunt for the right buttons to finish off the hoodie. I always have trouble finding the perfect buttons.

What have you been sewing?

Urban Hoodie Urban Hoodie

Monday, 8 October 2012

Ready, Set, Go!

Oliver + S Bucket Hat

KCWC starts today! Are you sewing along?

If you haven't heard of the Kids Clothes Week Challenge before, here's the low-down. The idea is to spend 1 hour each day for one week sewing some kids clothes. Meg hosts the KCWC twice a year and I love the concept! It's on at the change of season, so perfect for getting your little ones wardrobe organised. If you think you'd like to sign up too, head on over to the KCWC sign up and add your name.

I thought I'd give you an idea of what I'm planning to make this time. The hat Roman is wearing in the picture above is almost too small, so I want to make one in a bigger size.

I've had the Urban Hoodie pattern in my stash since the last KCWC inspired me to buy it, so I'd like to make up one of those. I've heard the pattern runs small, so I think I'll make the biggest size. If it's too big it will always fit later.

The warmer weather is on its way here in Melbourne, so some more shorts and probably a few more Flashback short sleeve tees will be on the plan this week too.

What are you planning to make?

Friday, 5 October 2012

Build-a-Bag: I've finished!

Sunflower Hand Bag

My hand bag is finally finished! It didn't actually take that long to put the bag together, but if you've been following along with my Build-a-Bag series you will know I had a few dramas with my fabric order so a lot of waiting for the post was involved. I am glad I resized and re-ordered the fabric...I think the size of the sunflowers is perfect now!

I am so thrilled with how the bag turned out and I'm looking for an excuse to make another one! I'm not really the sort of girl that changes handbags often, so I'll have to wait for this one to die before I start another one. It is a pretty Summery bag, so maybe I'll need to make one up for next Winter??

As you may know, the pattern I used is the Emmaline Bag. I found the pattern very easy to follow and the designer, Janelle has many extra tutorials on her blog to help you get the best out of your bag. I followed her tutorial to make my faux leather straps. They came out so professional looking.

Sunflower Hand Bag

I added an exterior pocket to the bag which is not included in the pattern. I love having a little pocket on the outside of a bag to quickly chuck things into, so this extra was a must. To make the pocket pattern, I simply traced around the centre piece after adding the pleat. I added a strip of faux leather piping to the edge of the pocket.

Sunflower Hand Bag

I made a few changes to the inside of the bag too. I split the lining piece into 2 horizontally so that the top would have a panel made from exterior fabric. I like that when the bag is snapped shut, you don't see the contrasting lining. I copied this idea from my old handbag.

I made the pocket extra wide so that it holds my phone, sunglasses and a pen all separately. I also added an extra slip pocket onto one end to hold my keys. I forgot to take a picture of it. To add it, I joined the sides of the lining together on one side only, then pressed the seam open and added the pocket so that it was centred over the seam.

Sunflower Hand Bag

The zip pocket was a great new skill to learn. It came out great, although I wish it was just a little deeper. I love the feel of the Spoonflower silk-cotton fabric in the lining, but it can be a bit slippery. If my bag is over my shoulder and I bend over, sometimes things can fall out.

I wish I had gone a little slower doing the topstitching along the top edge of the bag. It's a little wonky. I'm thinking of unpicking it and re-doing it, but I'm a bit worried that there will be white holes left from the old stitching. I need to do a test run on a scrap first. Honestly, I'll probably never get around to it.

Thank you for following along with my Build-a-Bag series. Making a bag from the very beginning and designing my own fabric was more fun than I could have imagined and I get a big smile on my face every time I look at my bag.

Have you been inspired by the series to try your own fabric design or bag making? I would love to know!

Earlier in the Build-a-Bag series:
Build-a-bag: The fabric - my fabric has arrived, but I've mucked it up
Build-a-bag: The little extras - take a look at all the other items you need to get when making a bag
Build-a-Bag: My swatches arrived - so how do my swatches compare?
Build-a-Bag: The Pattern - take a look at the pattern I'm using to make my bag
Build-a-Bag: Let's Start at the Very Beginning - designing fabric with Spoonflower

Online Sewing Class


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Stash and Carry Felt Play Mat

Stash and Carry Felt Play Mat

Roman's birthday is coming up at the end of the month so don't be surprised if you see a few gifts for him appearing on the blog.

Ever since I first saw these fold out houses/mats, I've been dying to make one! They just look like so much fun. Fun to play with and lots of fun to make! I followed the tutorial by Narelle at CookCleanCraft to put this together. I made a few changes along the way. The outside looks like a Mechanics and I also added some template plastic between the 2 layers of felt so that it's nice and stiff and holds up well when being carried.

Stash and Carry Felt Play Mat

It is all put together with a combination of craft glue and a bit of sewing. The sewing wasn't necessary, but I wanted to play with the decorative stitches on my machine. I used a few of the different satin stitches for the grass and waves, blanket stitch in several places, the bricks for the train station, herringbone stitch around the petrol station car park and a few other cute ones.

I also tested out the alphabet on the machine making a plaque to go on the front of the garage. I used blanket stitch around the edges of the handles to secure the felt together.

Other features were drawn on with Crayola fabric markers and then set with the iron.

Here are some of my favourite bits.

Stash and Carry Felt Play Mat

I love the little duck pond! The grass came up so cool and hubby made the cute little ducks!

Stash and Carry Felt Play Mat

For the animals in the zoo I used a piece of Safari quilting cotton I had. The carwash pops uo so you can actually drive a car through it!

Stash and Carry Felt Play Mat

The Church had to go on there and I decided to hand embroider the gold on the domes. I tried to do it on the machine, but that was a big fail! I love how the beach turned out! My machine has a satin stitch that looks pretty random and messy, but it worked perfectly for the sea foam.

It also has a helipad and train line so that Roman can play with his trains and choppers on it too. The construction site takes care of any trucks. There's also a McDonald's, because who doesn't love chippies and some city buildings so he can visit Dad at work.

Stash and Carry Felt Play Mat

To top it all off, it had to have Roman's initials on it so he knows it's his! And seeing as it will be full of cars, I thought a Mechanics garage was perfect for the outside of the mat.

If you want to make your own, take a look at Narelle's tutorial, or for a more simple house, head on over to UK lass in US and take a look at her fold out house.
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