Party Ideas

I am thinking ahead with the boys for a fun party theme for J's 8th Birthday. Yes it is a way off, but this is the way I work efficiently.
We have been doing some art lately, so perhaps an art theme, or a science theme or something really obscure? We will all brainstorm and then J will ultimately decide on what he thinks will be a blast (maybe space?)
There are so many fun ideas and I recently found this blog by Laurie, which has plenty. 
Laurie shared my ideas from J's Cowboy party on Tip Junkie, thanks Laurie...great Blog!
Craft DIY Ideas

Pizza Perfect- Our Version of Course

We love home made pizza dough.
This time we tried a new product from Laucke flour and we found it easy to use and loved the taste.
For a quick version of home made pizza:
Use one packet of the mix if you like the thin style base (it make two huge rectangle or 4 medium round) and will feed a family of four easily.
Use a jar of organic italian or your favaurite tasty tomato sauce for the base.
Grated parmesan.
Baby bocconcini.
Fried thin strips of bacon, sprinkled on some caster sugar and let caramelise, then drained away all the fat.
Fresh basil
Cook on high heat in the oven (or wood fired oven) till the base is cooked, which will depend on your oven.
Sometimes we add Proscuittto or zucchini, but it is all about good basic flavour.


Masterchef Lemon Meringue Tart

 When we saw the lovely tarts on Masterchef last Friday night, we decided to try making the Lemon Meringue and were thrilled how they turned out (considering I took some short cuts). 
It doesn't look as nice as the one on TV, but we all loved it.
I can't fault this recipe at all, the pastry is super easy you just need time for resting in the fridge twice, although I didn't do the whole 2 hours. It is very forgiving, light and absolutely yummy. 
The lemon curd is well balanced (just as you would expect from a French Chef) and the Meringue...well it even works well when you add the egg white and the sugar together from the start! Yes in my haste to finish I dumped the two in the KitchenAid and mixed for a good ten minutes (oops!), but it worked hooray and I even used the leftover to make mini pavs, which the kids loved.

I don't make many pastry cases because I have never found a pastry I like and is easy enough to make again, however this one is a winner, great for a variety of sweet tarts.
Definitely worth a try.

Fremantle on Saturday

A visit to the Art Centre and Markets. 
We saw and spoke about old buildings and Architecture today on our drive to Fremantle.

Pineapple on a stick! A first for the boys.

Art with Mr Morris - Part 2

Conte Crayon puppy dogs today...
 By H (age 4) with some guidance along the way, but very impressive.
By J (age 7) He is very proud of his dog and so he should be.

Windy Wild West

It is great we have had some rain here in the West (although coming from QLD recently, it seems we cannot escape the rain!). 
Today we are getting the famous wind, but the boys rugged up to play with Mustard for a little while.

Cartoon Dog

 Teaching myself to draw dogs.
A sketch of J in cartoon land.

Monkey Sketching

 Winter baby monkey.
Monkey trouble.

Drawing Things

 The wet weather has prompted me to do some drawing.

Some beautiful roses from the Boatshed in Cottesloe, which are now hanging upside down to dry.

Gluten Free Orange Almond and Praline Cake

I found some delicious local oranges at the market the other day and when a birthday cake was required I decided to use them to make an orange cake.

I used this recipe (from Womans Weekly) for the cake, however I used gluten free SF this time, which actually made the cake very moist and a bit too crumbly but still tasty...

185g butter, softened
1 tbsp finely grated orange rind
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1/2 cup orange juice

Preheat oven to 160C (140C fan-forced). Grease deep 22cm-round cake pan; line base and side with baking paper.

Beat butter, rind and caster sugar in a medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in sifted flour, almond meal and juice, in two batches. Pour mixture into pan. Bake cake for about 50 minutes.

Stand cake in pan for five minutes; turn, top-side up, on to wire rack to cool.

*The cake was very hard to cut in half, but I managed and then continued to spread a layer of orange syrup (fresh juice and caster sugar reduced) on the bottom half. I then filled it with blackberries and whipped cream, put the lid on and sifted icing sugar over it along with Hazelnut praline...
(Put Caster sugar in a large pan with skinned hazelnuts on top and heat till sugar melts without stirring, just move the pan until nuts pop and are covered in toffee. Spread over a tray covered in baking paper (mine was not spread thin enough!). When cool I broke some and crushed some.)
Lovely combination, however I would make double cake mix next time (to avoid cutting) and use less cream in the centre and more berries.

The Womans Weekly have some fantastic cake recipes, I love their books and adding my own little touches to create something different, lots of fun.

Art over the Weekend

Inside winter weather and drawing go hand in hand...
 by H
 My Teddy by H

 Fireworks over the ocean by J.
For H by J.

Child Friendly Macarons

 When I saw these at Woolies I thought they would be worth trying with the boys.
They make 12 (or 6 giant) and are very easy to make (and fairly forgiving) with everything included in the pack.
There are lots of things to time, which was good for getting J to do some practical maths.
Tasty too! 

Carrot Cake Mistake

I made a carrot cake and ran out of caster sugar, so I added some brown sugar (not knowing what would happen) and it worked a treat.
This cake has hazelnuts, sultanas and naked crystallized ginger along with the carrots and spices. I didn't use walnuts, but they are nice if you have them and the ginger just adds another dimension.
The icing is cream cheese, lemon juice and icing sugar with toasted almonds.
The result - a very moist, moorish cake...great with 5 Senses Coffee.
Base carrot cake recipe from the Campion and Curtis in the Kitchen cookbook (another great book).

Art with Mr Morris

One of the good things about schooling at home is that we have time to do other activities...
 This is J's first attempt at using pastels. Yes pretty good huh. 
All the kiddies did such lovely work. 
Mr Morris is going to teach us about using different art mediums and we are looking forward to the next lesson!
H was extremely attentive considering he is only 4 and with a little guidance from me he produced this beautiful work...
I am really going to enjoy this class!

We have also started a new home music program, after having 3 years of traditional piano lessons. I will blog about as we get into it, but so far it is fun.

Almond and Pear Cake

This is one of my favourites to have with coffee and it can be made gluten free quite easily by using gf flour.

The topping is just passionfruit, I don't make the glaze that is suggested in the Womans Weekly Recipe.

Steam Train Ride

Ever since J was 3 he has loved trains and we have always planned a trip on a steam train, but never got around to it.
Well this weekend we went for a ride on the Hotham Valley Railway Steamer..

 It seemed to take forever for the train to depart!
 It was a lovely old engine. It was a very chilly morning.
 Dwellingup is a very small village, mainly farms and the railway keeps the few cafe's busy on the weekends.
 The train goes very slowly along the track and gives you a chance to hop out halfway to see the engine swap ends.

 Not the most exciting scenery, mainly farms and native bush, but now we can say we have been on a steam train.

Dolphins came for a chat...

Today on our walk we saw our dolphin friends, they were gathering fish and then they popped over to say Hi!
Aren't we lucky to have such beautiful creatures at our doorstep.