Friday, June 14, 2013

O's 6th Star Wars birthday party! YAY!

I still can't believe that my baby boy who seemed to have been born yesterday is already 6!! In fact I am still refusing to believe how time just flies by and how grown up my babies are now! Sigh... 

Any how we did a big bash for him this time with some of his school buddies and other friends we know. This goes without saying, we thank the heavens above for giving us such a beautiful, sunny and HOT day for O's birthday do. I really don't know what I'll do if it had rained! Imagine 10 plus boisterous boys running about in a tiny apartment!?! It will take more than a vintage bottle of wine to cool things down mentally! hahahahahaha.... 
The actual cake with edible Darth Vader cake deco.
Not seen here is the very cool Darth Vader candle holder.
OK, digressions aside. This time birthday boy decided on a Star Wars theme after many mind changing and lots and lots of convincing on my part. You see, I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek series. Call me a nerd but those shows are classics! That's why it is easier to get party supplies under popular culture themed parties than obscure ones. 

After Googling Star Wars party after Star Wars party ideas, I've finally settled on just making some gifts, the piñata and the cake myself while the rest are bought online. Living in Switzerland can be great sometimes but this country is the WRONG country to live in for a craft. Sigh... 

The gifts That I made was a Star Wars colouring book (complied, re-sized and sew binding), a Jedi "summer" robe, character masks and foam "light sabre". The light sabre I could have bought on line which is glow in the dark types but what fun could it bring during the day time? Yes it is a cool (REALLY COOL) item but still it costs to much to get for each kid. 

Foam light sabre was made from pool noodles. You know the kind that people use (mostly seniors - no pun intended!) for aqua gym? YUP! Those costs about 10 freaking buck here and just over 2 on the other side of the boarder. Can you believe that?? Geezzzz..... And the silver handle was just wall deco sticker and black pipe tape from a hardware shop. Pretty fast and easy to finish up. 

Piñata stick in the making. 
Next the piñata. Was time consuming as I had to let dry each layer before putting on the next. The last piñata  I made was a Piston cup (from CARS cartoon) 2 years ago and that thing caused the "death" of an iron rod! LOL! Talk about a tough cookie! So this time round, I made sure the layers are half of the last piñata and made sure that we got a really solid stick to bash it. I know, I could have save myself the trouble and just bug the damn thing. But to me paying either CHF44 of the head of Darth Vader of CHF28 for a football piñata (then paint it into a Death Star) for it to be DESTROYED later on doesn't make sense. So a Death Star piñata was born, sort of... :p And the really solid stick was also from a hardware store, just decorated with crepe paper and silver sticker. 
O's 4th do. Notice the OVERLY SOLID "Piston Cup" piñata on the back ground?
Well, it was no match for the iron rod! :p
Not so hard as rocks "Death Star" piñata. Be kind, that's my 1st Death Star! 
Red Sabre and Death Star
The Jedi summer robes, got this idea off one of the mummy blogs. But her's were made out of faux leather, thus no sewing required. And since her party was held during the colder months, it does not make sense to make the kids sweat themselves even more than they are already with the running about in the heat. So off I went to get cheap cottons from the shops here. Then it was cutting, zig zagging the sides and making the "belts". Made them in various sizes as well. BUT if anyone is attempting to make this in fabric, be warned that it will FALL OFF while running about and sabre fights due to it being light weight. That's when I pinned the top neck area together with their t-shirts with a safety pin on each boys who wore them. 

Strawberry cake test. Was so YUMMYYYYY.... 
Last but not least the CAKE! What birthday would it be without a CAKE?? :) The boy requested Strawberry cake and so he did received one made out of real strawberries not one of those cake mix or Jello thingy. Recipe is here if anyone if interested. Just a side note; make this cake using the normal method you would make a cake with. You know, beat butter/margarine with sugar till fluffy, then add the eggs, then mix the wet ingredients alternate with the dry and bake as per recipe. The last time I followed this recipe to the letter, the whole cake was GUNK! BIG TUMMY DISAPPOINTMENTS! 
These plain cupcakes & Lego mini figurine packs were  for O's class
Made the cake twice as the 1st time as into cup cakes to share with his classmates at school. I bought digital printable of Star Wars themed cup cake liner & tags and invitations from Love this place! 

Vegan Whipped Cream tests with Strawberries. Very YUMMY! 
As we were having a kid with dairy allergy over (talk about living in the wrong country being dairy intolerant!), I had to search for frosting which is dairy free. Found one I like after tasting it out on hubs - the official taster in the family. :) This cream is to DIE for, unless of course if you have nut allergy, then it is a no go. Recipe is here if you'd like to try it out. Side note about this recipe; LOVE IT! It can be made either as soft or firm whipped cream. I made firmer whipped cream and it sort of stayed on for several hours out doors under the shade and the cream did not "slipped off" or "seep into" the cake even though it had become softer. Very happy with the results. This cream goes GREAT with berries/ice-creams or just eat out of the container with finger/spoon. :) 

Next up: the actual do. :) 

Velvet ribbon cushions

I have been pretty occupied these past few weeks. Was at first busy with NNC Anniversary gift exchange and the Fabric House Challenge . Then up next was a cushion cover I sort of promised a friend; a velvet ribbon weave cushion cover. And finally O's 6th Star Wars themed birthday party.

The cushion covers. :) Happy with the results! 
And as promised to a friend back home, here's an over due write up of the cushion cover. When my friend and I saw it in one of my many craft books, we immediately said YES! This is the one!. It just look so simple and easy to do. Little did I know it was FAR from it. Yes the technique is not something very new. But try to do this on velvet ribbons that sort of bow in a certain way and are so stubborn to stay in its place.
A closer look at the mix sized ribbon weave. 
After much fussing and hand hemming, the ribbons did stay put during the sewing up process which took me several hours just to get the pipping right at the edge like it should be - meaning more frogging in some places. But the end result was better than I've expected. :) The first cushion I decided to use only one size ribbon and the second one was made using mix size ribbons. I preferred the mix as it gives it the cushion a new look all together.

Well if I ever wanted to make another cushion using this technique, I'll be using jacquard or cotton ribbons instead of velvet ones due to the price and also easy care with the kids! LOL! Plus I'll make real sure that the ribbons aren't bowed and are straight as it should be. Lesson learnt eh? :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

NNC 6th Anniversary and book marks exchange

I have kept this rather nice and tight until now. :) Just today my stitching group Needles n'Craft had our 6th anniversary meet up at Sabariah's home - whom has been so generous to offer her place to host this event for the 2nd time. 

The NNC Fabric House Challenge "neighbourhood".
Just look at all the pretty houses! 
For this year, Margaret (our resident headmistress) has come up with a challenge for those who participated in the Anniversary Gift Exchange - Fabric House Challenge! :) Each participant has to "built" a house using nothing but fabric and as for decorations, well I guess it is anything goes. For this year, as with previous years, members would complain and complain, stress each other out but finally when D-day comes, each item made would be as cute and as pretty as the next one! hahahaha... That's how we roll! ;) 
My wonky house.
PS: Silly me I have FORGOTTEN to take photos of it . So this is from the group's photo file... :p

For my house, I saw something I like from Molly Chicken and I scaled it up a little bit bigger. Got to use this new (to me it is new) batting call Soft & Stable by Annie, to test it out as I've read so many good reviews from bag makers and quilters alike. I quite like the texture and it is pretty sturdy looking judging from when I made seat backing on this very pretty pincushion bellow. 
Pattern from Heirlooms by Ashton House
By the way, this pincushion is made for NNC anniversary gift exchange. Isn't it pretty? I will make some more of this but perhaps in another shape. Making this pincushion was a PAIN!! LOL! I guess by having a slightly different size container makes all measurements funky looking and I don't let me begin telling you how messy it was for me using spray fabric glue!! LOL!! Anything to do with iron-on or plain normal fabric glue is the way to go for me now onwards.... 

Now back to the house. It was a bit plain looking at first with the normal features like doors and windows. So I decided that a house should have some flowers and greenery for it to look homey. But in the end I'd have to admit that judging from all the houses during NNC's get together, mine was wonky looking by the time it reached Malaysia with the parcel being squashed and torn beyond recognition!! Sigh... I guess I'd have to make up for this to the person who receive from me the next time I go back.

The next time I make anything to be sent via mail back home, I'll make sure it is just FLAT, light and can be put together easily. AND I'll pay extra for one of the Swiss Post mailing boxes at the post office. It is BRIGHT YELLOW in colour and very, VERY sturdy. 

OK, now the book marks. I made these for Margaret. Both are done in cross stitch, with HAPPINESS in Aida and CUPCAKE on even weave. 

The HAPPINESS pattern I got from The Making Spot . I love this site!! Free charts and even if it is paid, it is still very affordable. This bookmark is actually magnetised  Saw this method on line, found it rather interesting and thought of giving it a go. I just hope that it works like it supposed to work. 

As for the CUPCAKE, it is from Péché de Gourmandise à Broder  book I picked up from Aiguille en Fête expo in Paris a few years ago. This is the first time I'm using it and I finish it using my logic way instead of following the instructions on the book. 

Most French cross stitch pattern books are not well known to have very good margin of error for finishing. Found that out the hard way. Was nearly in tears when it was 80% finished and I just can't seem to finish the darn thing like it should be. Had to clam myself down and redo the WHOLE thing again the next day. Fun times.... :p   

Can't wait for the next year's bookmark/anniversary gift exchange and also for the next anniversary challenge! :D

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Revisited - Pulled apart cinnamon pumpkin bread

WOW! It has been a LOOONNNGGGG while since I've updated anything here. Oh well, life got pretty busy on the home front these past year. My youngest is already 2 and half (the monster years) and the oldest 5 and 7 months. Big boys now. Sigh...

OK. This post is dedicated to a a new found friend, Louisa in Vancouver. Some of you would have remembered I made this during one of my many weekend baking spree. Well the original post - Sunny Side Up  was kinda difficult for me to understand; English isn't one of my 1st languages, therefore I need to fully understand the whole process virtually in my head. Well in fact, on some sewing tutorials it is the same as well. So I love it when a tutorial be is sewing, baking etc comes in series of photos to show the steps! I know, it is difficult to actually do this but to those who actually did it, BRAVO! 

Here I am just going to share the STEPS I took and what I did but NOT the recipe. Please refer Sunny Side Up for the list of ingredients that you need to make this bread. 

Yummy puree with warm milk & butter mixture.
Now you've all gathered your list of ingredients. The first part of the recipe details that you need to "proof" the yeast (essential little critter for bread making). What I did was melt and brown the butter, then warm the milk BUT I did NOT "proof" the yeast as instructed. Mine I just pour it direct into the flour, with my pumpkin puree, sugar and salt. 

Dough BEFORE double in size
Then I knead and knead until the dough comes out smooth, elastic and slightly sticky. I did had to add in flour 1 tablespoon at a time as I suspected there's too much water in the puree. Then I kept the dough in a lightly oiled container with a clean towel in my rather warm kitchen for about 60 minutes until it doubles in size. 

While waiting for it to double in size, you can put together the cinnamon sugar mix and grease the loaf pan. I used my silicone loaf pan for this, so no greasing needed. :) 

So now here's the "fun" part, where I was sort of stuck reading it a few times until I think I get it right. 

First you punch down the dough and flip it out on a floured surface. You then roll the dough out into a rectangle with about 1/4 inch (0.5cm) thick and about 20x12 inch (50x30cm) in size. 

Press down really well! 
Then you sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mix evenly and press down with the palm of your hands. 
Cut into strips like so.

Using a plastic knife/cake cutter etc, cut 6 even strips on the rectangle and then stack them up on top of each other. 

Stack the strips up! 

Cut like so.

Now you have a 6 tier dough, you then cut the dough into 6 even squares. 

Stack like so... 

Notice the not so child free evidence?
Now, get your prepared loaf pan and sort of stack the squares on top of each other but horizontally - like you would arrange books vertically on bookshelves. Get the drift? 

All risen and ready to bake! ;) 
Then cover the pan with the clean towel and let raise for about 30-45 minutes while you pre-heat the oven at 175°C (350°F). Bake the bread for about 30-40 minutes until deep golden brown. I baked mine about 50 minutes. Every oven works differently and plus if you use silicone pan, it takes a little bit longer than steel ones. 

My bread right after its done baking! :) 

I highly recommend that you make the glaze AFTER the bread is done and is cooling down. I made mine with half the sugar as stated in the recipe and I used brown sugar instead of white sugar. The choice is yours if you want it very sweet or less sweet.

My "helper"? More like my little kitchen busybody! LOL! 
As I have a very limited work space on my kitchen counter - if you can call 20 inch work space, between the sink and the ceramic heating element, I had to work ON top of the heating element! Hahaha.... Notice the silicone baking sheet I put on top? Yep, that's my work top. :p On my first time baking this, I worked on the floor, which was vacuumed, moped and child free mind you! My kitchen nowadays aren't child free... Sigh...