Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What do babies and kittens have in common? . . .

Unravelling balls of yarn!

I'm still trying to untangle the knotted mess.  I guess it is all part of the saga of the never-ending knitting.  Finally on the last sleeve which will be completed once I get untangled!  
And I still have to pull back the top third of the back to fix the pulled threads.  Not long now... (yeah right!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yes Cake!

Can you have a party without a cake?  I guess you can seeing that Rick and I didn't have a wedding cake (I baked about 100 Raspberry & Coconut cakes- more about that another time) . . . but can you have a 1st birthday celebration without a special cake?  I don't think so!  It just wouldn't be the same. 

So, being brave and new, I decided that it was time that I should confront fondant and tell it who's boss.  Ok, I actually enlisted the help of my friend Jen who has made a few multiple storey fondant decked cakes for her daughter's birthdays- but asking for help is not breaking the rules!

So you start with about three of these chocolate numbers.  Don't be put off if your cake sinks in the middle because you cut them to size and lay them like bricks with a butter frosting morter.

I bought that apron in San Fransisco and love it - thought I'd let you know . . .
Then you cut your fondant, add your dye paste and knead, roll and wrap!  Jen took these photos and laid the fondant on the cake for me (I didn't have time for mistakes so she did it!)

But I covered these vanilla cupcakes.  Oops, a bit of icing powder here and there!

This is the end result.  One happy little birthday fella and his little family!

Will I use fondant again?  Yes, perhaps.  It is totally a visual thing for me as I don't like to eat it as much as I like eating a sourcream frosting or a decadent chocolate ganache (with or without the cake!!)

So, I think I can tick fondant off my list of brave and new things despite the excessive use of icing sugar. 


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Enthusiasm Bubble Burst

Hello friends.  You are very kind to still be following me even though I have let you down with no posts for a while.  I am a person that is seriously flawed (aren't we all?!) and my biggest personal angst is that I work in bursts of inspiration.  Bursts are wonderful when they come but when they go, I deflate.  Nothing creative is produced . . .  but I go on the prowl to find my inspiration and bring her back from being AWOL.

How wonderful is blogland?  Thank you to people like Jane from Life on planet baby and many others whose regular posts have helped stop me from going under whilst waiting for inspiration to return (The Happy Home is a perfect visual and creative pick me up).  I have particularly enjoyed trawling through some older posts from blogs I have regularly been following and discovering new blogs (blog hopping?).  I totally love blogs that have online stores attached to them like The Lark (yes, you too will create a wishlist if you haven't already).  And blogs like Frills in the Hills that lead to you wonderful on-line shops

And it was through blog hopping that I found a lovely Perth-based on-line store Mini Gourmets.  Don't you just love merchants that go that extra mile with nice packaging?  They wrapped up my cookie cutters with white tissue, real black ribbon and a delightful sticker of their logo. Included was a little pack of mouth freshners and a magnet.  Yes, I am a sucker for the tiny touches.

At the last minute, we decided to throw Dean a 1st birthday party (more about that in another post- on, off, on again, off and then ON!) and I needed small stars and circles. 

How do you stay inspired?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

12 months has gone too fast

The epidural that lasted only 10 mins - not enough time to give birth painlessly but enough time for a picnic!

Whisked away to oxygen - I didn't get to see him for 3 hours!  I didn't get to feed him for 5 hours!!

It was a crazy day!

But well worth the effort, pain & tears- all erased the minute I held you in my arms.
I love you my darling son.  May Our Father in Heaven pour out His abundantly blessings on you always.
Happy Birthday!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rebirth or Recycling?

One of the wonderful aspects of doing crafty things is the rebirth of the tired and old- ok, we can call this recycling but that has a thousand-plastic-bottles-crushed-down-to-make-one-park-bench kind of feel.  I'm talking more about giving old somethings a makeover and a new lease on life.

Here are my rebirthing projects:

Revamp this coffee table

This coffee table once belonged to my parents-in-law.
The stain is dreadful but the timber is good
 When my mother-in-law had this table made, she thoughtfully had the corners rounded off with the safety of small children in mind.  That is one of the reasons I would like to keep it!

Not my most flattering angle!

Looks like I am doing all the work but Rick helped out with the groovy bits!
So step one is sanding, sanding and then, you guessed it sanding.  Then step two is to apply an acrylic sealer-undercoat (tinted - 2 coats) then probably just one coat of the colour.  After discussions with Rick, we think an oil-based paint would be harder wearing even though there is a great acrylic enamel available.  I'll surprise you with the colour! That's because we have decided twice now on two different colours- this could change again!
And cheer up this toddler table and chairs
A friend gave me this table as her children have out-grown it.
The stickers were to cover up some missing paint caused by her son
trying to 'clean' it with a broken airfreshner concentrate bottle- it smells great!

The first fun part is the argument discussion one has with hubby over colour scheme and purpose.  The second is the cost!  Paint isn't cheap and the more colours you want to slap on the higher the dollars (and the less the desirability of rebirthing instead of good old fashion capitalistic purchasing!).

Me: Do you feel like going to Bunnings?
Rick: *leaping to feet* I'll get the kids in the car!
Me: I wouldn't have gotten such a response if I asked if you felt like a trip to Spotlight!
Rick: Mmmm  . . .  I still would have taken you but the boys and I would be in the cafe opposite.

Once I get Liam to wear a hat, I don't tell him to take if off indoors, this only confuses him!
Aren't those trolleys gorgeous?!
The inspiration for my colour scheme comes from Janelle Wind's book Pieces of Me

I can't wait to show you the end product!

Might be a couple of weeks, planning a party this week!

xxx BNF

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sew Excited!

I usually hate stores that have rude, snotty, unprofessional staff but despite that, I am falling in love with Spotlight.  Sorry to all the Spotlight staff out there that do no possess any of the above characteristics- I wish you worked at my local- or perhaps it is a general lack of patience for those who are new to the world of sewing ie me, or perhaps this time of year can be challenging . . . whatever it is, I won't let it dampen my enthusiasm.  Instead, I go to another Spotlight store slightly further away where they are LOVELY.

I have made only 4 trips to Spotlight but it has been all in the last 4 weeks!  Here is my bounty of purchases for December.

Rick set the camera to manual and my dodgy eyesight isn't so good at focusing
hence the slightly fuzzy photo!
My very first sewing machine (Brother BC2500)- christmas gift from my wonderful husband and thanks to my friend who lined up in the sales to get it for me!

And again this week:

Another dodgy effort at focusing!
 Don't you think a lovely way to commence a journey into sewing is to begin with a quilt?  I have decided to make my sewing debut with a Disappearing 9 Patch.

I love this Disappearing 9 Patch called Figgy Pudding by A Quilting Jewel, here

and this one by Jen from I Was Told To Get A Hobby.

I'm using 2 x Bliss charm square packs purchased from http://www.retromummy.com/

This is only a rough layout - I have sinced changed it to be more balanced

I can't wait to not only show you the end product but to see it for myself!  So far my seams don't meet up properly and how many times did I have to thread the jolly needle?!?! (mystery, either me, machine or thread- most likely me!!)

Do you remember the first thing you sewed from scratch simply for the passion of sewing and not because you had to for school? 

Ooooo, I am literally bubbling over with excitement- I hope I don't stuff it up cuz I'll be awfully annoyed!

xxx BNF

PS I have to show you a photo we took of Dean today after his hair was washed

I can't bring myself to cut his hair!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My baby has been on the outside for almost 12 months!

Most people tell me that my little man, Dean is such a happy baby . . . well he is but I couldn't help dispelling the rumour with this grizzly photo.

We are having a 1st birthday party for him Sunday week and have invited available family only.  I didn't throw Liam a party (feeling a little guilty but I wasn't in a good headspace back then to do it), so this is the first time I have planned a children's party!  Aarrggghh, looks so easy when you go to other peoples'.

But I am a keep-it-simple kinda girl and I don't mind it looking simple too (I'm not a houdini!).  But I am setting myself a little challenge (This is the Brave & New blog afterall). 

So here it is:

Sky High Cupcakes from Notebook's 'The Little Book of Cupcakes & Cookies'
(image photographed from book- no online source- that I could find anyway!)
The challenge?  Well, I have never worked with fondant icing before and am not reknowned for my eye for detail let alone delicacy with my fingers!  But these cupcakes are just gorgeous!  We live not far from the RAAF and we are subject to heaps of LOUD jetplanes flying over at random times... so it seems fitting to have an aerial theme (and I didn't think a military theme was appropriate for a one year old!!).  Now I need to find a mini aeroplane cookie cutter (so far this is eluding me!).  If not, a normal sized one will do and I will make a normal sized cake instead (or aswell).

Have you worked with fondant?  Do you have any tips for me?  Please feel free to link your blog page as pictures speak loudest to me. 

I can't wait to show you my version... even if they turn out disastrous!

xxx BNF

PS I can't express the mixed feelings I have over the fact that my baby is so much less a baby these days - thank goodness he still doesn't have teeth, I just love that gummy smile.  And today I caught myself just staring at my sons... I am so in love with them!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ooo, I want!

Image source: Donna Hay General Store online
Are you a 'List Person'? 
I am. 
I keep lists.
I like to write in lists. 
Bit irratic
Makes sense to me, but

My latest list is- Oooo I Want! (Just want- can't justify the buy)

Striped Paper Straws from Donna Hay General Store (pictured above)

image source

image source

Heavy little buggers but I love that they can go from stove to oven plus look good.  Cream is the safe colour, but what do you think of citrus? Oooo ooo ooo or pistachio?!

image source
image source

Then comes the freezer chest (no particular make)
coffee table (yet truly discover one Rick and I can agree on!)
Dream House (can't show you this as it is all in my dreams.  Will do a collage of rooms collected from magazines from over the years one day!)
And of course the Ninjabread Men Cutters that NO ONE got me for Christmas! :-) see here

Plus plenty more depending on the mood or room I am in!

When I dwell on this list, I feel poor!  But I have discovered the quickest way to get rich is to stop wanting so much!  So I only think about this list when I don't mind feeling poor.  Before you go touting me as materialistic, I do dwell on other things too!  Ah ah!  I just thought of another list:  Things I Dwell On (you might not find that list so interesting!  I guess the crux of it will be evident in this blog anyway!!)

What's on your 'Oooo I Want!' list?

xxx BNF

Monday, January 3, 2011

Inspiration: A Brave & New Life

I am very inspired by other people.  Take for instance my friend/relative Sharon (we're related by a few double-beds removed as someone I know used to say!).  I saw Sharon on Christmas day and had to double-take her.  She looked different . . . she'd lost weight, a significant amount but that wasn't the only difference.  Sharon had an amazing 'presence' about her- a new self confidence, a new take on life?  I don't know, I had only met her once before.  But she was different and radiant.  As we got chatting she began telling me what she had been up to since I had last seen her some 7 or so months ago.  She had quit her business of 7 years and has begun cake decorating and a new business!  I was stunned!  The first time I had met Sharon was at her daughter's engagement party where she made a very yummy cheese cake that was meticulously piped in tiny cream swirls forming a heart.

Me: "Hey Sharon, nice cake, how long have you been cake decorating for?"
Sharon: "Never done it before, this is the first time"
Me: incredulously exclaiming (I am a gusher afterall) "You're kidding?!  That is beautiful.  You know, you should really get into cake decorating".

Only a couple of months later, Sharon made this cake for her daughter's wedding. 

Sensational.  And now she is working on her other daughter's wedding cake.  I am soooo inspired by Sharon.  Look what she has been doing since!

Sharon has been teaching herself this new skill from a book and online tutorials.  Sharon is living a Brave & New life!

I don't take credit for Sharon getting into cake decorating, but I do believe I am a feather that helped pushed her over the edge to do it.  When I showed Sharon this post (to make sure she wasn't embarrassed by it), she said "you can take credit for the push as you planted the seed in the ol brain".  People tell me I am a gusher but you know, some people need to hear praise, affirmation and encouragement. I do and I will not stop gushing over other people!

Do you know someone living a Brave & New life?  Are you making changes in your life, doing things you have put off for years or are you needing a little encouragement?  Tell me, I'd love to hear from you (and encourage you)!

xxx BNF

PS I couldn't end this post without a then & now of our lovely Sharon.  Well done!!

Then (12 months ago)


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Child's Eyes for 2011

from inside Liam's cot

Not long after my second son, Dean was born (13 Jan 10), I gave my elder son Liam a digital camera to play with.  It was a crappy disappointing camera so its fate was not a concern of ours.  Liam took many photos of the ceiling, his feet, the walls and general blurry photos due to movement and greasy fingers.  He loved seeing the image (instant reminisce as my younger brother would say) and loved sending himself blind with the flash!  He was only 18 months old and needed some distraction as his mother was very busy with a little baby.  The camera lasted only about a week before he jammed the lense!  Liam managed to take some photos of his surroundings that have really reminded me of how small children are compared to their environment.

The world looks so big and so small all at once.  Inside his cot, it seems small and yet this last photo shows just how big the world is around Liam.  I think life can be a little like that at times- a paradox of realities.  And as we have now heralded in another year, it is hard to not be reflective and hopeful.  I began this blog to help me rise to challenges and be accountable- and lets face it, have a bit of adventure into new worlds of hand made crafts- to be Brave & New!  And what better way to embrace this new paradigm but with child like faith and optimism!  The bible says:

Matthew 18:3 (New International Version, ©2010)

3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Little children look at life with such simplicity and don't let the complexities paralyse them!  No more hesitation, no more analysis to paralysis; 2011 is the year I DO and the year I trust.

What is 2011 for you?

xxx BNF

Zumba Day Ten

Day 10

I have learnt some very good lessons these past 10 days. 

1.  Never give up even though you are not sticking exactly to the challenge
2.  Never plan a Zumba Challenge during the busiest time in the year on the homefront

This weekend we had impromptu house guests.  The perfect kind!  I love spontaneity, I love catching up with friends from out of town and of course, seeing my youngest Step Son.  Guests that were coming for lunch on Saturday stayed until after dinner on Sunday.  My kids had the best time and I felt wonderful being able to cook and entertain.  I got out three different table cloths- woo hoo!

So, Zumba day 9 & 10 fell by the wayside.  Am I worried?  No, I did 50% of the challenge which is more than what I had been doing.  I lost only 1kg (an incidental weigh-in at a friend's house), but that aint bad considering the amount of chocolate that was consumed.  I haven't retaken my measurements yet as dinner is still making me feel a little bloated . . . in the morning perhaps.  I have lost a kilo a month since moving to Port Stephens so I am happy!

Will I continue with Zumba?  Yes of course- heaps of fun!  Have I lost a dress size?  Perhaps half a dress size if I did only 50% of the workouts . . . I began wearing a pair of pyjamas that I haven't been able to wear since having children so I think that counts for something!

I hope you enjoyed this challenge and perhaps gained some inspiration and courage from it.  I have really appreciated the comments on this blog and on facebook from you guys.

I'm taking a break from new challenges, concentrating on old ones like eating 2 meals a day and completing my knitting!  But I will tinker with the new sewing machine.  Photos and details to come!

Until then much love and blessings from me to you for 2011!

xxx BNF
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