Saturday, 26 October 2013

Babushka Mini Cakes

When I started out I promised myself no food posts on the blog.  And certainly not baking, which for me is up there with mopping and ironing as one of my least favourite activities.

Having said that, I decided to do this post anyway because of the enormous amount of feedback I got for these mini babushka cakes I made for my daughter's first birthday.  They were actually pretty easy and a lot of fun to make.  While these are my own creation, I modified the method used to make cake pops to make these (and made some cake pops post!).

1. The first step is to bake a chocolate cake, let it cool, and then crush it with your hands until it's a fairly fine powder.  Cake pop recipes actually recommend using cake mix, and who am I to argue so I did too.

2. Secondly, add frosting into the mix (also store bought in my case) until you are able to sculpt the mixture into babushka shapes (but be careful not to add too much or it will be too soft and unworkable).  Keep your babushkas in the fridge overnight to firm.

3. I melted white chocolate buttons in a double boiler and added a little bit of red dye in powder form to get a pastel pink colour. I poured the melted chocolate into a coffee mug and then dipped the bases of the babushkas up to the neck in pink chocolate. Once dipped, I just continued to hold the babushka to let the chocolate harden a little before setting down on some foil.

Once all the babushkas were dipped, I repeated the melting process with pre-dyed red chocolate buttons in a double-boiler. I did have to add more red dye to get the intensity I wanted. I then poured the red chocolate into a mug and dipped the babushka heads in the red chocolate until they overlapped with the pink bases.

4. I rolled out some white fondant, and used round and wavy cookie cutters to cut out aprons and faces.  I embellished the aprons with a monogram wax seal (which we used for our wedding invitations) and used the blunt end of a match to make the little holes for a lace effect.

5.  Using a gourmet writer I drew the face and used a cotton tip dabbed in red liquid food colour for the cheeks.  For the lips I used a toothpick dipped in red gel dye.  I then stuck the faces and aprons on the babushkas using warm jam.

Even for a non-baker, these were an absolute joy to make! And yes, they tasted amazing!
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Sunday, 25 August 2013

Random Acts of Decorating #1

I recently acquired a beautiful hi-gloss white buffet from my father to store my dinnerware.  I've tucked it behind my couch, but being a modern piece it has a black glass-covered top that is visible over the top of my sofa. And that bugged me a bit because that sort of incongruity always does.  So I collected a few things that I have run out of space to display or store, a lot of them gifts, and just chucked them together on the buffet top - and it actually sort of works!

Red and black have become the dominant colours in my living room, not by design but because I think I've been taking subconscious cues from the Steinlen poster on the mantle that I've had since university.  They are both really strong colours so the challenge is to find a way to harmonise them in a way that is subtle and doesn't overpower the room.

I've done that firstly with the cushion colours and with the runner I used to cover the black glass on the buffet. It's from Laos and I've had it in a drawer all these years, unsure of where it fit because the house has such a European aesthetic.

A way in which I've kept the red and black combination toned down is to emphasise white, which in turn lightens the room.  The white lettering "UV & Co" used to sit on the mantle but it's now so much more visible on the buffet and a nice focal point for the room (my husband's and my initials, in case you were wondering), reinforced by the white orchid (a good-quality fake, because I'm an orchid killer unfortunately) and the tealight candle holder.

I threw in the vintage photo of an Indian dancer from this lovely blog and the candles from my Candle Makeover to tick the vintage boxes, and a gorgeous glass tea set from my brother which, er, didn't fit in my cupboard but also mirrors the glass on the steamer trunk coffee table.

So although it was a random collection of objects, it actually ended up tying together everything that's going on in my living room nicely!

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Monday, 19 August 2013

Handmade Cards 101

I've been hand making all my cards lately and experimenting with a few different styles.  These three are my favourite and I wanted to share!  All are made with the same combination of metallic gold paper and some beautiful Japanese paper.


Step 1 - Cut the two papers into strips
Step 2 - On some gold backing card, place some double-sided tape along the top edge.  Leave some space along the side for some more tape
Step 3 - Stick down all the of the gold strips along the top edge of the backing
Step 4 - Stick some double tape down the side of the backing card
Step 5 - Stick the Japanese paper strips down and weave them in between the gold strips

After weaving all the strips through, I stuck the result to a folded piece of gold card with a window cut out of the front.


Step 1 - Make a card out of gold paper and stick some patterned paper on the edge that is about a third of the width of the card
Step 2 - Using my paper pom pom tutorial, I created a mini version of those pom poms using baking paper (wax paper) instead of tissue paper.  It's a little harder to work with but firmer than the tissue.  I pulled half the sheets upwards and left the other half flat to create the flower shape.  In the centre I glued a strip of twine wrapped in a circle to hide the staple and make it look more like a flowe.


Step 1 - Grab the smallest version of my free quatrefoil stencils.  I printed the image on a piece of card, cut it and have been using it as a stencil but it the image could be transferred directly from printer paper by tracing over it and creating an impression on the card or using carbon paper
Step 2 - Once the image is transferred or traced, cut it out using an Xacto knife
Step 3 - Stick a square of Japanese paper to gold backing paper and stick it behind the quatrefoil lattice

I'm hooked on hand made cards now! Hope you enjoy giving these a go.

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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

DIY Candle Makeover

This is one of my all time favourite posts because it brought out my inner law nerd! Have a close look at the text on the candle that I madeover.  That's's a Hansard excerpt, or in other words, a transcript of Parliamentary proceedings.  And it was just so easy! I have to credit this video for the idea.

My only significant investment was a heat gun which I bought from the scrapbooking section of Kmart (pictured above) for $35.

Step 1 : Grab a pillar candle.

Step 2 : And some printed tissue paper.  I found this awesome Hansard gift wrap tissue at Typo. It's apparently easy to print any image on white gift wrap tissue using your home printer (by running the tissue paper through stuck on a piece of card or wrapped around printer paper) but my Epson Stylus did NOT like my attempts to do so unfortunately.

Step 3 : Cut the tissue to size and wrap it around the candle.  The paper needs to be cut so that the width is slightly smaller than that of the candle, and so that the ends of the paper don't overlap when wrapped around.

Step 4: Turn on the heat gun and work your way around the candle.  As the wax melts it seeps through the tissue and effectively 'seals' the print onto the candle.  You might be able to make that out in the photo.  The paper disappears into the candle wax and only the print is visible.  So frickin' cool!

Don't get too close to the candle with the gun because if the wax melts too fast it starts to bubble and pool under the paper.

LOVE the result!

Apparently these candles are OK to burn but I'm not sure I would recommend that....I think they're too pretty anyway!

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Monday, 29 July 2013

Monogram Mirror

This is a great little project to create a personalised wedding or engagement gift for a couple - a monogrammed mirror.

I started with a Kaisercraft mirror with an unpainted wooden frame and used Vitrea 160 glass paint (Emerald).

1. I first created the monogram in a font that I liked and printed it out.
2 & 3. I considered creating a stencil from the monogram but instead just cut it out, blutak-ed it to the mirror and traced around the lettering with a Sharpie - so quick and easy!
4 & 5. I then painted the lettering using the glass paint.  I didn't buy the glass paint marker pen but I think it probably would have been great to get the outline nice and precise.  I had to use a toothpick instead!
6. Lastly, I gave the plain frame a quick spray with white spray paint.

I just found out that my friends loved this gift...phew! It is a little nerve-wracking hand making gifts but also a great payoff when the effort is appreciated.

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Monday, 22 July 2013

Photo Box Frame

Why display your photos in a frame when there are more unusual ways to show them off?  The box above is actually to hold keys and I found it in the craft section at Spotlight.

I gave it a coat of paint and stuck some matching scrapbooking paper in the inner and outer panels with craft glue.  I was going to hang the photo from the hooks but decided to remove them and just stick the photo to the bar.  Because it was a gift I attached a little note to the inside of the door with a mini washing peg (also a scrapbooking supply).

Check out these other gorgeous frame ideas...just so creative!



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Thursday, 18 July 2013

Repurposing Steamer Trunks

Are your parents like mine?  Do they never throw anything away...EVER?  I used to constantly berate them about their hoarding habits, but their garage has now turned into a veritable decorating gold mine for me. 

I've always wanted end of bed storage or seating, but didn't really want to spend a lot of money on an item of furniture that, frankly, is more fashion than function.

Until I came across these gorgeous steamer trunks in my parents' garage, complete with aging labels and slightly rusted.  Perfect shabby look for my place.

I just cleaned them up a bit and added a deck chair cushion from Bunnings and linen cushions from Target. They actually turned out to be very comfortable seating, and great storage.  And the look cost next to nothing.

What I love most is that these trunks contained my mother's trousseau when she first left India as a young bride over thirty years ago.  I'm so glad I've been able to repurpose them in this way rather than throwing them out or letting them collect dust.

When I had some things shipped to me in a steamer trunk, I turned it into my coffee table.  It's probably the most remarked about piece in my house.

Repurposing is a bit of a buzz word right now.  Really it's just a creative way to turn the mundane into something special, or to preserve the sentimental in a unique way.  It's what makes your home truly yours, and gives the most everyday of objects new meaning. Not to mention it's environmentally friendly and cheap.

Till next time!

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Monday, 15 July 2013

"Crochet" Canvas

Despite all my recent crafting and blogging, it never really occurred to me to make my own gifts until I couldn't think of what to get friends who had recently had a baby.  I wanted to give them something unique rather than utilitarian, and that wouldn't be outgrown in a couple of months!  After tossing around a few ideas, I hit on this vintage-look "crochet" canvas with the baby's name in wooden letters.  Hopefully it will make a sweet little addition to their nursery.

I forgot to mention glue to stick the letters to the canvas.  I used Weldbond Universal Adhesive.

Step 1: Grab a blank canvas in your size of choice.  I went with a small square one.
Step 2: Tightly wrap the crochet placemat around the canvas and stick the edges down at the back with the masking tape.
Step 3: Spray paint the entire canvas in your colour of choice.  I went with a neutral beige because I thought it would have better contrast with the white of the crochet impression than a pastel pink.  After a few moments, carefully undo the masking tape from the back and gently lift the placemat from the canvas.

I loved the imprecise impression that's left behind because it looks more faded and has that vintage, shabby feel - exactly what I was going for.  If you want it to look sharper, I would choose a denser crochet pattern and go easier on the spray paint.

I then simply spray painted the letters white and glued them to the canvas.

I loved the look so much and it was so quick and easy that I'm definitely going to be reusing this technique in my daughter's playroom.  

I really enjoyed gift-making and I think I'm going to try make as many as I possibly can from now on.  With a couple of wedding anniversaries, an engagement and a baby shower this month I've been pretty busy on that front and will be featuring it all right here.

Till then...happy crafting!
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Thursday, 11 July 2013

Design Inspiration #3 : The Offspring House

Ok I'm going to come right out and say it.

I love Offspring.

It's probably the only Australian show I watch, apart from the wickedly brilliant Rake over on Aunty.  And one of the reasons I watch Offspring, apart from the perfect mix of awkward relationships, familial minefields, melodrama and all round general bawdiness, is the fact that Nina Proudman's place just rocks.

Or should I say, her current place, which she moved into last season. Not that her last loft (pictured below) was anything to sniff at, with its pressed metal walls and whiff of opulence under all the quirkiness.

But Nina's new home just exudes so much warmth it's hard not to fall in love with it.  And it is an actual home, not just a set, which makes it that much more special.  It's not surprising to find that its owner, Adriane Strampp, is an artist.

What is so impressive to me is that fact that Strampp bought the house as a warehouse shell and has over the  years slowly renovated and decorated, creating an eclectic yet utterly welcoming home.

Totally my dream home.

But with Patrick's abrupt and rather strange proposal last night (although he is a little bit of an abrupt and strange individual), it seems that another move may be on the cards.  I have full faith that the show's producers will find another Melburnian gem to showcase.

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Monday, 8 July 2013

DIY Hessian Frames

My blogging has been a bit derailed by federal politics...who knew that it could get so distracting! In my time off I was rummaging around my parents' garage when I came across a couple of metres of hessian material (that's burlap for you North Americans). This is a little project using that hessian and one of many probably, seeing as it is such a versatile fabric and a perfect fit in my house.

You will need:
  1. Cardboard
  2. Stock card for backing
  3. Hessian (or your fabric of choice)
  4. Scissors
  5. Boxcutter
  6. Fabric glue (I used Weldbond Universal Adhesive which was just brilliant and dries clear)
  7. Fabric paint (you can also mix acrylic paint with fabric medium as an alternative)
  8. Masking tape
  9. Thin paint brush
  10. Twine
  11. Ribbon

Step 1 : Cut the cardboard to size with the boxcutter and cut out a window.

Step 2 : Cut the hessian to size and glue it to the cardboard, wrapping around the edges of the frame and the window.  I used wooden washing pegs to clamp the fabric to the cardboard as it dried, which only took a few minutes. I also used a little bit of clear nail polish at the points where the fabric was folded over to stop it from fraying.

Step 3 : Cut the backing card to size. Hole punch two holes at the top of the card and attach the ribbon, then glue the card to the back of the frame using the fabric glue (leaving the top unglued so you can insert a photo). I used the wooden pegs again to clamp the backing card to the frame until the glue had dried.

Step 4: Using the masking tape I laid out some vertical lines on the frame which I painted in with the fabric paint.

Step 5 : I used the twine to edge the window of the frame by simply cutting to size and gluing with the fabric glue. I photo edited and printed off some photos I took on a country weekend and inserted them into the frames.  They were colour photos originally but I changed them to sepia to match the colour and feel of the vintage-look frames. You can download and use the images for free here (it would be great if you could backlink and acknowledge ALC).

Yes, that's the toilet. But it's nice having something to look at in there now!
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