Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Years' Resolution for 2014

This week's Pin:

This Week's Pin:  New Year's Resolution for 2014
Who's This For:  Just Me 
Price:  Nothing

This is an inspirational quote from Albert Einstein.  It seems like a good philosophy to live by so that's as good as any resolution I've heard of.

Oh, if only 'laughing' was spelt right.  Alas.

I'm not usually someone who makes resolutions on New Year's Eve.  I know plenty of people who are and I always laugh at the ridiculousness of the whole situation.  In my opinion, make a decision today, or tomorrow and do it.  The date on the calendar is irrelevant.

If I find a resolution that fits me perfectly, then maybe I can have one.  This one seems fairly straight forward, how about it?

And if it doesn't work, then what?  My Mother had a stupendous saying for everything "Oh, well".  She lived a very happy life and achieved many great things.  However, my New Year's resolution can't exactly be 'Oh, well'.  

So, I found this Pin.  Perhaps this is me.

I was brought up with that old fashioned philosophy that if you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all.  That doesn't work in the real world.  Internalising problems doesn't make you happy.

Yes I want to be happy.  But leading a normal life encompasses more than that.  Sometimes something interesting happens to you and it doesn't necessarily make you happy but it was still worth it.  Ok then.  What philosophy can I base my New Year's Resolution on then?

Ha, now this one I like!  Not much of a New Year's Resolution 'though.  It's more of a guideline.  Try again.

Here's a Pin that I could use:

Actually, that's a good one.  My New Year's Resolution is to sleep more, listen to more music, drink more tea, read more books, see more sunsets etc. etc. That's close, but where's the EAT MORE CHOCOLATE! I think this Pin's too specific.  I need to find something more appropriate.

Here's one that's closer to me:

"I resolve to laugh every day, eat more chocolate, sleep in on Sundays, make dinner an event, breathe more deeply, spend more time with the people I love." Yes, that's a resolution that matches me.  But what about doing new things?  I need that too.

How about a simple statement that covers it all?

Is it too narcissistic?

This Pin is John Lennon's quote about being happy.  

This resonates with me.  I like it.  If it's good enough for John, then it's good enough for me.

So that's it then.  Here's a simple resolution that I can keep:

With a little modification, here's my resolution: In 2014 I just want to be happy.

Happy New Year to you and yours,


“Time And health are two precious assets that we don’t recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted.”  ~Denis Waitley

Monday, 16 December 2013

Vanilla Ice Cream

Summer's here, it's holiday time and it's been a long time since I made ice cream.  You know what we've got to do then...

This Week's Pin:  French Vanilla Ice Cream
Who's This For:  My kids
Price:  around $4.50

I remember my parents attempting to make ice cream when I was a child.  We lived in a very hot city in Australia so this was going to be a challenge.  My parents spent many days freezing ice cubes and storing them ready for the day.  The machine would churn the mixture but had no chilling capacity so we layered ice and salt (this makes the cold ice even colder!) around the can and waited.  

It never became the right consistency in the ice cream machine.  Afterwards, we'd place it in the freezer to finish the freezing and it would be icy and very solid.  Such a disappointment. 

A few years ago I received an ice cream machine and I've used it a number of times.  I have the same problem as my parents.  It won't freeze the entire batch at once.  So usually, I halve the mixture and churn it in the machine in two batches.

My lovely friend Angela assures me that my problem is simply not letting the mixture chill for long enough before I churn it.  I've found a recipe and I'm going to try again.

The ingredients are:

2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract not 2 tablespoons)
6 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream

The process is simple, make a custard and then stir in the cream.  So I heated the milk with 1/4 cup of sugar and the vanilla.

 Then I beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until the mixture become pale yellow.  It also needs to fall away in ribbons from the beater.

So that you don't make scrambled eggs, pour a little (1/2 cup) of the warm milk into the eggs and whisk.  Then add the eggs into the milk and stir constantly over med-low heat for 10 minutes.  Strain the custard, stir the cream and place bowl of mixture into an ice bath to cool quickly.

At this point, I put the bowl into the fridge and left it overnight.  It was there almost 15 hours.  The ice cream machine bowl was frozen solid and had stayed in the freezer overnight too.  I churned the mixture for more than 30 minutes and look, still runny.

The bowl was beginning to melt and so I placed the whole thing in the freezer for a few hours, churned it again and then left the ice cream overnight again.

The result?

Solid, icy, canary yellow ice cream.

I threw the whole lot into my mixer and whizzed it up so that it would become lighter and fluffier.  Yep, looks so much better.  The flavour's delicious, it looks great, but it still has those large ice crystals that are a disappointment.

So close this time!  But, I'm not going to give up this easily and I'm buying another carton of cream and trying again.  Until next week, may your ice cream be soft and your determination like steel.

“Experience teaches slowly, and at the cost of mistakes.”  James A. Froude

Friday, 6 December 2013

Oven Tray Cleaner

I like efficient cleaning.  When I do something, I want to do it thoroughly so that I don't have to come back tomorrow and do it again.  So I'm going to try this tray cleaner and see if it can bring my baking trays back to life.

This Week's Pin:  Oven Tray Cleaner
Who's This For:  Me and my tired old oven trays
Price:  Tea Trea Oil $7.50 (for 15 ml) but you only need a few drops

The website, onegoodthingbyjillee.com shows how to clean your oven trays using Melaleuca Oil.  As she explains, Melaleuca Oil is also known as Tea Tree Oil and is an antiseptic used for cuts, pimples, minor infections and insect bites amongst other things.  Can it polish my baking trays?  Let's see.

I combined a couple of drops of Tea Tree Oil with a drop of Fairy Washing liquid and rubbed it on my old, stained tray.

Left hand side is before and right hand side is after.  Can't see the difference either?  Nope, me either.

I even used a scourer.  Heck, if it was going to come off with a scourer, it wouldn't be this stained in the first place.

I tried wiping it with Tea Tree Oil and then wiped it with Gumption Paste (or White Lily Paste works as well).

Yep, now there's some action.  So I'm going to wipe the inside with oil and then Gumption and see how it progresses.

I'm not exerting much force but it's certainly cleaning up.  But look at my cloth!

As a comparison, I cleaned the outside of the tray using only Gumption.  Brilliant, look at that!

Sorry Tea Tree Oil but I think it's the paste doing all the work because it appears that the oil is not improving my results at all on the inside of the tray.

So, I'm sticking to Gumption and perhaps if I stop cooking, then my shiny trays will stay shiny for much longer.  Now, where's that take-away menu?

“Life doesn't imitate art, it imitates bad television.”

Friday, 29 November 2013

Sugar Scrub

One of my favourite stores at the moment is Lush.  I love their products because they feel so organic and homemade and smell like a lolly shop.  I love the little stickers of the creator and of course I stick by the use-by date just as if they were made from fresh ingredients from the fridge.  I don't think I'll put Lush out of business, but I tried some recipes from Pinterest to see what I could make at home.

This Week's Pin:  Project Handmade Christmas Presents - Sugar Scrubs
Who's This For:  Me and my dry heels
Price:  Cheap!

There were two recipes on this website and I liked the vanilla brown sugar scrub to use on my tired, dry feet.

The original recipe is:

Vanilla Brown Sugar Scrub

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup-3/4 cups olive oil
1-2 tsp of vanilla

I made a small batch to try and simply combined 1/4 of each measurement.  I used brown sugar and the coarse Low GI Cane Sugar I had in the cupboard.  I replaced the olive oil with coconut oil and mashed it with a fork in the bowl.  Only a drop of vanilla was needed after it was blended and let me tell you, it does smell good.

Using the solidified coconut oil will give you a different result to the scrubs with the oil base.  When using a traditional oil, the sugars are suspended in liquid and occasionally you need to give them a stir to combine them and you need to watch out for the oily drips.  However, my mixture gives a drier result which is really easy to manage.

It was really simple to pack it into some washed tubs I had and test them out.  

You simply grab a pinch and rub on your skin.  The coconut oil melts with your body heat and the scrub does its little buffing thing and ta-dah, smooth, soft skin.

A word of warning though, I gave a little tub to my friend Amanda and she was concerned that it smelt so good, she'd eat the whole tub!  This is preferably not for eating, just for buffing, ok?  Enjoy...


"Strength is the capacity to break a Hershey bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces."
   Judith Viorst (Love & Guilt & The Meaning Of Life, Etc)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Egg Carton Wreath

This Week's Pin:  Egg Carton Wreath
Who's This For:  Me
Price:  Zero

This week, I'm doing some kinder-craft.  You know, like when you were four and had those scissors with the rounded ends and there was clag glue all over your fingers and finger painting was fun.  Wait, finger painting is still fun, but never mind. Onto crafting....

Using only egg cartons, the leaves are cut from the flat parts of the box (mostly the lid) and the largest cups are cut into the flowers and the smaller parts of the cartons are cut into smaller flower shapes; these are to be the inside petals of the flowers.  Don't be too concerned about the inner shapes as random and squished will still look fine once you place it inside the outer petals.

Some of the flower pieces I cut with rounded soft petals and some with spiky petals for variety.  I also cut little slits into the edges of the leaves for texture.

I painted each piece and cut out a doughnut shape out of stiff cardboard for the wreath base.

For a little realism, I added yellow dots into the flowers for pollen and painted the veins on the leaves.

The wreath I painted a gold colour because the flowers don't completely cover the cardboard.  Then I randomly placed the leaves around the wreath and glued them down.

Ha!  I really like it.  It's the first Christmas decoration I've put up and I've hung it in my kitchen so I can enjoy it all day.  For such a simple craft it did take me longer that I expected.  Waiting for the paint to dry, then painting the underside of each piece, having to make extra flowers to fill in the gaps just when I thought I was finished, meant that this project took waaaaay longer than I allocated.  Don't expect to do this little job in a day.

Until next week,


“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
Edgar Degas   

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Tin Can Lanterns

This Week's Pin:  Tin Can Garden Lanterns
Who's This For:  Me for my Garden
Price:  40 cent candle

We have a well-established recycling routine in my house.  Everything is washed, sorted and thrown into the correct bin to head off to be reincarnated into something else by the local council. Recently, I've been keeping items so that I can facilitate another method of recycling: re-using.  Just the way our grandparents did.

We buy a tin of chocolate shards every so often to sprinkle on top of our home made coffees.  The tins have a gorgeous golden shine on the inside that I think will make a stunning glow when I place a candle in them.  The outside is a bright, royal blue but with all the writing I think I'll need to spray paint them when I'm done.

You don't need a lot of pressure to hammer a nail hole however, after a little while the hollow can will dent and crush.  So the answer is really simple:  fill will water and freeze!

Oh, no I've hoarded the wrong type of cans because these are not water tight!  I simply pressed blu-tac around the bottom join of the can and I filled it only 25% full with water, waited for it to freeze and then kept topping it up little by little and returning to the freezer.  That way, the pressure of the water won't push through the bottom of the can.

Once they were filled with ice, I created a simple stencil.  I found images for butterfly stencils and drew it freehand on some paper.  I didn't want Christmas designs because in Australia, Christmas is hot.  Really hot.  There's often a total fire ban at Christmas time, so can I have little Christmas lights with a burning fire inside? - no way.  But, the butterfly goes well in my garden.

I wrapped the paper around the can and placed on a towel so that it wouldn't roll away.  Then simply following the stencil, I hammered holes along the lines leaving a space between the holes at least as big as the hole I was creating.

To get rid of the ice, I placed them in a sink of warm water.  Stupidly, I put my hand in to pull out blu-tac - ouch -  shredded knuckles!

I really wanted to see how it looks, so I popped in a tea light candle and went into the darkest room in my house, the walk-in wardrobe.  I was right, the inside gives a golden glow.  

Last thing to do is to spray paint the outside.

Woo hoo they look really cute.  I can put them out in the garden when we have our next party and enjoy.  Now the only things left for Christmas preparation is to put up all the lights, decorations, buy all the presents and make some yummy treats.  Not much.


“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” – Osho