Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sweet addiction

I like to bake. Yeah, you're right, that's an understatement. I love to bake. Which is probably a good think because I tend to be the designated "foodie" whenever there's a need for cooking to be done. As mention in my last post, my friend Kao had a party on the weekend. I headed there early to help out, and a good thing I did - she'd been waiting for me all afternoon because she had no idea what to do about food. We rustled up a few salads, some cheesy breads, and a plate of pita chips and all was sorted. I'd also had the forsight to realise most would forget that a birthday party usually requires a birthday cake, so I'd baked some cupcakes and they went down a treat. Wanna see?

And that was merely the first batch for the weekend. Darling Mother works a few hours at the local store each week, to keep herself busy and save some extra Christmas cash. Today they're doing stocktake and asked each of the staff to bring along something for morning tea or lunch. After much very litte  no real arm twisting on DM's part, I decided she should take cupcakes with her. So yesterday afternoon I cranked the oven and made another batch of baby cakes. I had to rush off half-way through the process, so I ended up icing the little darlings at midnight, which hopefully explains why some of them have mohawks... This was one of the better dressed:

For both lots of cupcakes I used Magnolia Bakery's vanilla cupcake and buttercream recipes. I made half vanilla and then added 3/4 cup of cocoa to the mixture for some chocolate lovin.

Magnolia Bakery's Vanilla Cupcakes 
Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes (depending on the size of your cupcake papers and muffin tins) 
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. 
3. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
4. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Getting smashed

I spent this weekend in Brisbane celebrating the birthday of Kao, one of my very best friends. As I zipped along the highway in Celeste - my new (to me) little car - I made an excited note to photograph and introduce her to you when I got home. Sadly, I did have reason to photograph her, but the introduction is more of a display of her injuries than her beauty.
But let me start at the beginning...
As I mentioned, this weekend Kao had a small birthday celebration in honour of turning twenty-six, and invited me to stay the night and spend her acutal birthday with her as well. Last night we joined her many friend eating and drinking to excess. We played board games, mingled, and headed out for a spot of drunken Karaoke, which was incredible fun. And then we headed home - still a little drunk, very sleepy, and incredibly hoarse. Today we had brunch with her housemates and wandered the streets of West End, running into lots of fun people she knows. A wonderful weekend, had that been the end of it.
But it wasn't. We came home last night to find Celeste looking less than the proud red lady she had been only hours before. While we were out, somebody (or bodies) has wandered past, most likely drunk, and proceded to jump on my little car repeatedly, smashing her windscreen, denting her roof, and leaving her scratched and broken.  I was shocked. And saddened. And confused.
What posesses someone to damage someone else's things for the mere sake of damage? What drives them to such a foolhardy act? And how do they feel afterwards? Did they think about it this morning with guilt, or mirth? Did they give a second thought to who might have owned the car, and how it might affect their lives? It hurts to think people can be so uncaring and so unworried about the consequences of their actions. And it angers me to think that they will face no punishment for their actions, while I will have to pay an excess and lose my no-claim bonus simply for being unlucky.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Selling myself

I finally did it! I'm an Etsy seller! My shop is still really trashy and only has one item in it, but it exists and will hopefully make me a bit of cash to fund a travelling adventure next year. Check it out and help make me rich less poor.
That is all.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wonderful waste of time

I'm supposed to be getting my butt into gear and organising my very own Etsy store, but first I figured I'd do some 'research'. By research I mean, trolling some of my favourite Etsies and falling in love with them all over again. Oh, and how I love Timeless Vixen! Everything in her store is amazingly lovely and amazingly far out of my budget. This makes me sad, bad doesn't stop me dreaming about how pefectly summery I'd feel in this:

Or how much better my work ethic would be in this lovely dress/jacket combo:

And I just know all the boys would be swooning with such a sweet bit-o-sparkle:

Friday, June 18, 2010

A-sailing we shall go

I've been sick all week. Again. My head feels like it's going to explode, or implode, or just simply combust. Usually when I'm sick I take to bed with a good book and read the sniffles away, but this week it's been impossible for me to focus on anything for more than a few minutes, so I've slept. And slept. And slept some more. And then spent the nights awake trying desperately to get to sleep.
Tonight I decided to stay up a bit later and try sneaking up on sleep. And it's a very good thing I did, or I never would have found the ship to dreamland:

Is she not the prettiest little ship you ever did see sailing on a ribbon sea? Her name is The Delightful Marie Rose, and she's currently docked at Chatham Girl's place. But oh! To have her for my very own, then I'm sure the fair winds would blow me straight to the land of nod!


The only thing sweeter than these 'Nick's Kicks' booties:

Are these plaid 'It's Raining' gummies:

Both from Mod Cloth, you know, in case you wanted to buy them for me...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Elephant dreams

How sweet are these pillow cases from Sunday Morning Dreaing! I love really nice linens, and never seem to be able to find what I want in the right size for my bed. So I buy far too many pillow cases. For me the bonus of these is the beautiful elephant sleeping beside me. I think he'd look super cool on my bed dreaming elephant-sized dreams. Maybe he'd even magically bring my own super-sized dreams to life. And in the meantime he could be my temporary boyfriend - until I find a real love.
All my friends are loved up at the moment. It's fun. They giggle like school girls, swoon over the mention of their love's name, and babble constantly about sweet moments and cute quips. I love that. I love the joy the big L (Love) brings, the excitement the little l (lust) creates, and the crazy-talking, big-dreaming, heart-run-away-with-your-head delight when someone is smitten. It fills the rooms, and the life of someone more completely than any other feeling, and seems to have the ability to wash away the greys.
"Sorry, you're probably completely sick of hearing about this," they apologise.
I promise I'm not. 
Keep talking. Keep dreaming. Keep loving. It looks good on you. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

When I linger no longer

It would seem to most quite morbid to think about your own death in detail. In particular, to prepare arrangements for your funeral when you're perfectly healthy. But it's something that has always been on my mind, and something I think is actually quite important.
As a kid I was surrounded by death quite a bit. My childhood home was right next to the town cemetry, so my brother and I would spend afternoons and weekends wandering the graves, making up life stories for the brave soldiers, beloved grandparents, and sweet children 'sleeping' next door.
But it wasn't just the neighbours that kept death in the forefront of my mind. My family has long had a history of illness - my nanna had breast cancer and suffered a number of strokes, my granddad was run over by a tractor and suffered mental illness, my mother has been pronounced clinically dead on 8 separate occassions - meaning we frequented hospitals quite often as kids. As a result the fickleness and fragility of life was never something I was shielded from.
I watched as my mother suffered through heart and brain surgery, as her best friend fought off breast, throat, lung, skin and finally bone cancer, as my nanna spent the last month of her life in a medical coma after a severe stroke. And then I stood by as, one by one, we buried each of my grandparents, boxing up their lives as though they were a theatre production that had run its course.
The thing that stuck in my mind, even at thirteen, was the agony, the distraught emptyness that seemed to hang in the air as my mother chose hymns for the funeral, or my uncle struggled to write a eulogy that could honour my Granddad when all he wanted was to have him back.
Funerals hurt. That doesn't really need to be said. But the thing is we - living, thriving, breathing human beings - avoid that pain until it hits us, or our loved ones, square in the face. I don't want that. I don't want that for my husband, or my children, or (God forbid) my parents. So I've planned my funeral as I'd plan any other event in my life. I know that I want to be cremated, and that I want my funeral in the early evening. I am adamant that Amazing Grace would be the absolute worst choice for my funeral song ever. Instead, I'd like something that celebrates the people who have come to see me off. That thanks them, and offers them joy and peace. And, most importantly, something I would have listened to myself, if it were them and not me no longer here.
I heard The Parting Glass the other night while watching some late-night TV. The gent singing is Luke Macfarlane whos voice, I think, makes this version more beautiful and haunting than any other I could find. I knew immediately that this was the song I would like playing as I say my final goodbyes. It is sad, true, but it speaks of a full life and bequests love and joy to those remaining.
I will smile from whereever I end up to know my life is toasted with a good whiskey, a smile, and this song:

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Musically speaking

I volunteered at a youth music and arts festival last year. I was given the task of main stage co-ordinator and performer liaison, which basicly translated to making sure a bunch of teens were happy and on time. Easy (not)! I was given another volunteer to help with the wrangling and the kids were great. Some were incredible artists, but there was one in particular that really shone.
I was told Andrew would be "helping out, performing, and emceeing for the day. Just make sure he's on time...oh and he's taken." The organiser said with a wink. I laughed. This was a youth festival, even the volunteers were all under 25, I was guaranteed to be the oldest person helping out. And I certainly wasn't keen to be hitting on a younger man. I had no idea what she was going on a bout. Until he showed up.
Faded skinny jeans. Loose, button down shirt, sleeves rolled up. Vans. Wayfareres. Masses of messy, casual curls. The kid was like a young Heath Ledger. In fact, my helper stated that very fact the moment she saw him, as did others throughout the day. If that's the look he was going for, he'd mastered it. He was polite, softly spoken, helpful, and friendly the whole day. He even organised an extra performance when we were down an act. And then he sang. And everyone stopped to listen. His voice was brilliant, but so were his lyrics. He was definitely the star of the day.
Now, I wasn't overly fond of the Heath Ledger look. But the kid could sing, and I told him so, and he gave me a copy of his EP. I listen to it quite a bit, and often wonder if he's made it any further with his dreams of becoming a singer/actor. So today I figured I'd share him with you. Who knows, maybe you'll tell a friend about him, and they'll tell another friend, and eventually we'll be secretly responsible for helping launch him right into superstardom.
Have a listen:
Part of it all by Andrew Hearle

Bag lady

I'm going back to study. After a year of desperate job searching, six months of unemployment, and far too long feeling utterly useless. I decided this about a month ago and started seriously researching courses, finally getting up the courage to apply about two weeks past. I found out two days ago I had been accepted into my first and only preference, and have been thinking non-stop about it ever since.
While I'm thoroughly excited at the thought of moving back to Brisbane (where the course is run) and catching up with old friends and favourite haunts, I'm also sad to be leaving the comfort of my family and the newfound closeness I have with Miss V and Wabi. I also have to admit to some trepidation at the thought of being a new student again.
I decided I should find a way to make the transition back to studentdom a bit easier. And what better way to do that than with a fun vintage bag that says "I'm smart, I'm sassy, and I'm super sure I'm going to ace this class":

1. Houses are fun, especially if they look all Hansel and Gretel like. And bags that look like houses, well even better! This one's from Cosas Raras etsy shop.
2. I'm a bit of a tan leather fan so this handcarved satchel tote from Bags Babylon is top of my list so far. What do you think?
3. A Swiss military fly-fishing bag as a uni tote? Why not. Although I also like this, and this from Meatbagz
4. Ok, so I wouldn't use this for uni but for storing my needles and yarn. Although Aunt Carrie says the insert is removable so it does have the potential to be a cute wicker picnic basket, right? 
5. Um...I need somewhere to store my sewing stuff as well. Yeah, so I got a bit sidetracked, but this sewing caddy would totally keep all my bits and bobs neat. And dirty birdie's basically giving it away.

All items courtesy of my Etsy obsession.