Thursday, November 28, 2013

Cupcakes for James 10th Birthday for school

I recently wrote about my first attempts to make cupcakes for James for kindy when he had his 4th birthday and I wanted to show you my lovely cupcakes I made for his 10th birthday this week.  Thank goodness these are a little bit better than my first attempts all those years ago.  I love these little hard case wrappers however not that practical as you have to tear it apart to get your cupcake out but hey, when you are a 4th grader and you have cake that's a great challenge.  I'm so glad I made the little Lego Chocolates as I thought they made the little cakes.  James said they went down a treat so another year of birthday school cupcakes are done.

And here is a photo of the now 10 year old taken yesterday on his birthday.  A few more pictures are over on my other blog here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Birthday Waffles

In this family we are heavily into traditions and one of those birthday traditions is to have pancakes, ice cream and maple syrup on your birthday for breakfast.  This year James requested waffles which is basically the pancake mix in the waffle maker.  Sometime last year I picked up the cheap waffle maker from one of those bargain shops that sell appliances etc. and we made a "Belgium Waffle Recipe" however it must have had 500 gms of butter in the recipe and it was way too rich and we haven't had a waffle since.  This morning I searched the internet and came across this recipe which we used and I would have to say it was delicious, sweet enough but not sickly.  I would normally make our own ice cream however I ran out of time given yesterday I had to make 3 dozen cupcakes and ice them for James to take to school today.

So on James 10th Birthday morning we ate Waffles, Ice Cream, Maple Syrup oh yes and a sprinkle of icing sugar to top it off.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Adventures in Cup Cake Making

James turns 10 this Wednesday and I find the double digits seem quite significant.  I mean 9 still sounds like he's little but 10 sounds like a teenager to me even though I know it's nothing like it.  All that being said let me take you back to James when he turned 5 on the 27th November, 2008 when he was in kindy.  I wanted to make him some Spiderman Cupcakes to take to kindy as he was right into Spiderman at the time.  So I'm thinking red icing with a blue spiderweb drawn on the top with a tube of bought icing.  I was not very good at cupcake icing and I'm not ashamed to admit it however the picture in my head and the end result were bi-polar opposites.  As I had made them the day before he had to take them to kindy I just sent them along with him as is and to be honest I was totally embarrased but told James they were scary cupcakes.  At the time I thought that the pink icing if you put more in would turn red....first turned grape colour and not very nice and in the end I put a J on each cake and I think with James help.  So here is my effort making James some cupcakes to take to kindy for his 5th birthday back in 2008.  I'll be back later in the week with a post on the finished cupcakes for his birthday.

This year's cupcakes for James to take to school will have a Lego Chocolate piece on top of them and I have already made 30 of these using a Lego Mould that I borrowed from my friend Karin.  She purchased it some time ago from The Lego Education Centre at South Brisbane.  Let me tell you I have come a long way in 5 years with how I produce a birthday cupcake that I'm not embarrassed by.  The kids are going to totally love these chocolate pieces of Lego on top of the cakes.

Here's a look back at James when he turned 5 and what he was into then.  It was all about Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear and a Power Rangers costume.

I love this picture of him talking on the phone to Nanny & Pop in Melbourne.  They rang to wish him a Happy Birthday and to find out how his day was.  I love how he is just casually talking on the phone while sitting on the stairs in his Power Ranger and at the same time playing with his new robotic arm that his Granny (my Mum) gave him.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rhonda's Muffin Recipe

I was reading a blog the other day although I can't remember which one it was and she mentioned that she had made the Muffin recipe from Rhonda's "Down to Earth" book.  Since I had all the ingredients I decided late Sunday night to whip some muffins up as I was pottering in the kitchen cleaning up at the time anyway.  I don't often make muffins as such and make more cupcakes however it's really a cake type recipe and for the first time ever we put frozen raspberries in them as well.  Good for the kids to have raspberries and they love them also.  Sienna helped make the muffins and in no time they were cooked and ready to eat.  The kids gave them the big "thumbs up" so that's a good recommendation for anyone to try them.  James liked cutting them in half and putting some butter on it and Sienna just liked eating hers plain.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Home Made Laundry Washing Powder

I've  been wanting to make some Laundry Powder for a long time and about a year and a half ago I attempted to make the Liquid Laundry mix.  I wasn't that keen on it due to mixing it on the stove to melt the soap, then filling the bucket up with warm water than then trying to negotiate this large amount of liquid into countless bottles and then store them.  I found it too difficult and I lost interest.  I don't think the soap melted enough at the time and it didn't do it for me.  Fast forward to today and I have made some wonderful laundry washing powder.

Recently I came across a recipe for Washing Powder that you used the Thermomix for which is a hands down easy option rather than grating soap by hand.  If you don't have a Thermomix it could easily be done in your food processor however I would chop the soap a little finer as these lumps of soap make one hell of a noise when chopping up in the Thermomix.

All the instructions are with the recipe link above and 3 of the 4 items are available at the supermaket.  The Borax may or may not be at your supermarket but Bunnings or a hardware should stock it.  Handle the Borax and Washing Soda with care and my Thermomix is going in the dishwasher to get a good clean.

It was so easy and I made two batches as the recipe suggested and would have made a third batch had I had another cake of Sard soap on hand.  It took me a whole 10-15 minutes from start to finish including taking photos along the way.

I've done my first wash and think this will be great for our little family.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Our Adventures in Making Soap

I have been wanting to make soap for a long time however because of the chemical process involved I have found it to be a little intimating.  Back in May I ordered a soap making kit so I didn't have to go and source lots of products and I thought this would be a good introduction.  I purchased the kit through "City Chicks" however you can also buy them directly from "Green Living Australia" where the kit comes from.

The only ingredients I had to purchase was the Olive Oil, Distilled Water and the Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide).  These items were purchased from Woolworths and I used "Demineralized Water" as that's what Woollies had.  While I was shopping I rang Green Living Australia before I purchased it.  The Demineralized Water and the Caustic Soda were both in the cleaning isle and even though I had gone up and down the isle twice I couldn't find the Caustic Soda and had to ask the staff to help me and we eventually found it.  

My friend Karin came over so we could make the soap together for the first time and apart from a coffee and a good chat it was time to get started.  We first had a quick read through all the instructions from start to finish.  Then we had a quick read of Rhonda's Soap Making Post and also Jacqui from A Dusty Country Road as she also has attempted soap making after reading Rhonda's blog.

I put an old towel down on the kitchen bench and one on the table outside where we were going to mix the Water and Caustic Soda. We then carefully weighed and measured all the ingredients and once that was done and the equipment ready we got down to business.

Mixing the oils together on the stove.

The Water and the Caustic Soda were mixed outside wearing gloves and masks and this was in the kitchen sink getting it to cool down to temperature in a sink of water.  It had to be between 34 and 38 degrees C.

Once the same temperature was reached for both I mixed the Caustic Soda Solution into the Oils.

We then put the mixmaster on and let it start mixing the two together in order to reach trace.  It took way longer than the anticipated 15-20 minutes to reach trace and it took our soap well over an hour at which stage we were satisfied that we had done it correctly.  I'm going to get a 2nd therometer as we were using one between two pots so this might fix the problem of our trace however both pots were between 34 and 38 degrees when we mixed them.

We sprayed a few moulds at the beginning of the process as I didn't know how much soap it would make and we needed to be ready with the moulds.  In the end we decided to use the bar tin and it was perfect.

We covered this tray with a breadboard and then wrapped up our baby for 24 hrs.

Proud of our little bundle of joy!!

This was 24 hours later and it was ready to turn out.

James had a go at cutting some soap and I was getting my camera on the correct settings so he could take a picture of me doing the same.

Excitement plus with the first bar of home made soap being cut up.

I cut the last few bars in half to make some smaller soaps.

Rhonda mentioned she stamps her soap....I had a few scrapping stamps and this little leaf one was about the only one that made an impression.

I had to try and find a plastic wire container for the soap to cure in for 6 weeks and came up with this little item from underneath my kitchen sink.  It's been a pretty useless item in my opinion so using it for the soap drying gave it a new purpose.

The soap smells absolutely beautiful and I used "Rose Geranium" and I can't wait to try it out in 6 weeks time.  I'm so pleased I finally booked a time in my diary with Karin and we made it together.  After we finished making it we had to go to school pick up and all the way driving to school I had a big smile on my face because it made me so happy to think that this one little task I had wanted to try was finally achieved.

I have talked about "Happiness" before "in this post" and I would have to say that I would add making soap to the things that make me happy.  I know I put this off for a long time because it sounded scary but with the correct equipment, kids at school and taking care with the Caustic Soda mix it is quite safe.  Also just a thing to remember and this is highlighted in my Soap Making Instructions.  When you are mixing the Caustic Soda and Distilled/ Demineralised Water together IT MUST BE "Add your Caustic Soda to the Water.  DO NOT ADD the Water to the Caustic Soda for safety reasons because the chemical reaction can cause significant heat production, fizzing and splattering.  So just remember have your jug of water and slowly add a bit at a time of Caustic Soda to the water and mix it as you go.  Just do this slowly.

Like any new skill, the first time takes longer and seems more daunting however now we have made soap once we now have the confidence to do it again now we have done the process.

Here's Rhonda's soap making post and I also found this as well.  Check out this amazing Australian Soap Blog with "Simply Soap".

If you haven't tried making soap yet definitely put that on your happiness project.  Now comes the waiting game of 6 weeks before we can use it.  Totally loved making soap.