Wednesday, November 30, 2011

12 Days of Christmas // A Hint of Things to Come

Well tomorrow (here in New Zealand anyway!) is the 1st of December. It's almost Christmas! I'm so looking forward to catching up with my family, sitting in the sun and perhaps enjoying a BBQ on Christmas day.

I have to admit, I still can't sleep the night before! My favourite part of Christmas is giving gifts to my friends and family. I always like to DIY something instead of whole presents being bought from the shops. So I came up with an idea - I'll share some of my Christmas recipes, decorations and gift DIY's with you guys!

So here's a heads up - from tomorrow I'll be running a '12 Days of Christmas' special on my blog! I've written up posts on a whole bunch of different things including how to make a gingerbread house, homemade body scrubs, fruit mince tarts, gift wrapping ideas and other gift ideas for kids and the family dog even!

So make sure you pop back in over the next few days to check it all out. I'll try have at least one post up a day, maybe two if you're lucky!! Each post will also have a link to a PDF which you can print off and follow whenever you're ready to give your chosen tutorial a go. Enjoy it friends!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Recipe Post // Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding

I’m not even sure where I found this recipe originally, but I’ve been making it off by heart since I was 16 and it’s always been a favourite whenever I’ve pulled it out. It’s such a simple recipe and the ingredients are so basic so it was perfect to feed my flatmates back when I was a poor student!

You really can’t go past chocolate self-saucing pudding. I like mine straight-up (I’m a sweet tooth!) while Andrew usually drowns his in milk or cream if there is any floating around.

I’m trying out some new picture tutorials for my recipes as suggested by one reader. Thank goodness for long almost-summer evenings so I have light for my photos! This is a pretty basic one to start but I hope it helps some people. Either way I had fun taking the photos!

Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding

50g Butter
1 C Plain Flour
1/2 Sugar
1/2 C Milk
2 t Baking Powder
2 T Cocoa (I usually add 2-3 I like it extra chocolaty!)
1/2 C Brown Sugar
1 T Cocoa
1 1/2 C Boiling Water

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

1. Melt Butter in a pot, take off the heat & add flour, sugar, milk, baking powder and cocoa.
2. Mix everything together and spread into the base of a greased tin.
3. Combine 2nd measure of cocoa and brown sugar and sprinkle over sponge.
4. Gently pour the boiling water over the top of the sponge and place in the oven.

Bake the pudding for approximately 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

This amount of pudding will serve 4-5 people nicely. I hope you enjoy it!

I must get around to doing an outfit post this week! It’s been ages since I have dressed up to be honest. Ah, the pitfalls of working from home and wandering around in track pants all day...I think I’ll have to change that!

I hope all you guys over in the USA had a great thanksgiving weekend. It looks like so much fun! Now I’m really looking forward to Christmas dinner with my family. I can’t believe it’s only a month away! Speaking of Christmas, I’ll be having a 12 days of Christmas special here on my blog starting the 1st of December!! I hope to have a sneak-preview post up in the next couple of days for you to check out and see what might be coming up. There will be gift ideas, recipes and decorating DIY’s. I can’t wait!!

Also, is anyone else having a problem where Blogger keeps logging you out when you are writing a post? I keep losing what I've written  and it's driving me nuts! I've sent a tweet to blogger and feedback but haven't heard anything back :,( Any help would be appreciated!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Life Lately // Law and Banana Cupcakes

Today I got to go watch my bf Andrew be admitted to the bar. He's the 4th generation in his family to do so! That's pretty cool. It was extra-awesome because the Judge who admitted him was also a 4th generation Lawyer too.

I made him a "Dress-the-Lawyer" doll secretly on the computer last night and emailed it to him this morning at work. He thought it was a pretty neat idea!!

One of his favourite flavours of cake is banana, so I made a bunch of banana cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery recipe I posted about last week. I topped them off with some cream cheese icing and smashed up banana chips and walnuts. I sent him off to work with these for an afternoon tea shout - I hope they went down well!!

What else have I been up to lately? I've been busily sewing a couple of dresses, one at home and one at dressmaking class. I can't wait to make more!! I just bought an overlocker on Trademe so I'm really excited to receive that and keep sewing. I'm in the midst of writing and photographing a Christmas special for my blog - with gift ideas, decorations and recipes. I can't wait to finish it and post it!! (it will be a series so a bit of a multiple post-fest!!)

Oh and a super important thing - I became an Aunty last Friday night!! My little nephew Jai arrived a couple of days after his due date. I can't wait to go up to Dunedin to meet him!!

I hope you've all had a great weekend and a smooth start to the week!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ballet Reviews // Russian Ballet & Sleeping Beauty

I was lucky enough to be invited to review two ballets recently - the Russian Imperial Ballet Company's A Festival of Russian Ballet and The Royal New Zealand Ballet Company's Sleeping Beauty. I decided to attend both in Dunedin, as my pool of available ballet-loving friends is slightly larger than what I have in Invercargill!!

I went to see the Russian Ballet on the 5th of November and took along a friend I used to do ballet with back in the day. You can read my review here! I enjoyed it but found some bits a little hard to follow, nothing a bit of research on the interent couldn't fix though! I met up with some friends afterwards and we had some quiet drinks in town which was nice!

I went to the RNZB's performance on the 12th of November. I absolutely loved it! It has been in the works for a couple of years so it was so well rehearsed with beautiful costumes and cool sets! Here is my review. I took my sister this time and she enjoyed it too so that's good!!

I love getting to see all these awesome ballets and dance performances - it's pretty cool!! Here is a link to all the reviews I have done so far. I'm looking forward to doing a whole lot more next year!!

If you want to go see a performance of any kind in New Zealand, chances are there is a review of it on Theatreview. It definitely helps to see what you might be in for!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Recipe Post // Banoffee Cupcakes

I'm always trawling through the recipe apps at the app store on my iPhone and the other day I came across one from Primrose Bakery. After having a quick look at the screen grabs I was smitten and immediateley downloaded it!

The first recipe I wanted to try was the Banoffee Pie Cupcakes. The cake itself is so yummy and moist! I decided to use the icing recipe I have been using for my other cupcakes. I made a plain buttercream icing and then added a couple of tablespoons of golden syrup to give it a yummy caramel flavour. 

Banoffee Cupcakes

125g Butter
250g Castor Sugar
2 Eggs
1 t Vanilla
250g Plain Flour
2 t Baking Powder
4 Ripe Bananas
Dried Banana Chips (to decorate)

115g Unsalted Butter (I just used salted - its cheaper!)
60ml Milk
500g Icing Sugar
2 T Golden Syrup

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a tray with paper cases.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, add eggs one at a time until well combined.
Add the flour, vanilla and baking powder and mix again.
Mash the bananas and add, mixing again.
Spoon mixture into paper cases (I used a icecream scoop so they were all even-sized)
Bake for 25 minutes or unitl cooked through.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the frosting:
Cream butter, milk, vanilla and 1/2 the icing sugar. Add the rest of the icing sugar and the golden syrup and beat to combine. Place in a piping bag with chosen nozzle attached and top cupcakes with frosting.

The recipe says it will make 12, but I managed to get 16 good-sized cupcakes out of it!
I think the app was $4-$5 NZ which isn't too bad for a recipe app that looks pretty, is easy to use and (so far!) gets yummy results! I took a bunch of cupcakes up to Dunedin with me to feed all of my family and they all gave them a thumbs up. 

I spent the weekend seeing 'Sleeping Beauty' with my sister, catching up with friends, shopping for summer dresses and I finally got a candy thermometer!! I can't wait to start making yummy Christmas treats.

Work is beginning to wind down for me now, as any consents for new buildings have to be in to the council within the next 2 weeks before they close over Christmas, so I'm gonna have plenty of time for baking, recipe posts and fun DIY's!

Are there any recipe apps you would recommend? What did you get up to in the weekend?

Friday, November 11, 2011

DIY // Gold Glitter Boots

Something I've wanted to do for aaaaages was glitter-fy some shoes!! I saw a post on Pixie in Pumps quite a while ago and that is what I've based my DIY on. So it's not my idea originally! All the photos in this post were taken by me though.

First you will need to gather your supplies. I found a cheap pair of boots at No. 1 Shoe Warehouse - I figured if things went pear shaped it wouldn't be a great loss!! The Mod Podge and the glitter I got from Spotlight. I think I've seen Mod Podge at the The Warehouse as well. I got the sandpaper from Mitre 10 Mega and the sponge brush thingy is from The Warehouse. You will also need a container to mix the glitter in and a stirring device.

Make sure to cover the area you are working in with newspaper! Especially if you are inside. 

1. Pour your Mod Podge into a container. (I used half a bottle)
2. Add your chosen glitter (I used about 3/4 gold glitter)
3. I added 1/4 bottle silver glitter too.
4. Stir to combine with a popsicle stick. Aim to have the mixture mostly glitter. 

5. Lightly sand over the surface of the shoes so the glitter concoction will stick.
6. Begin applying the glitter mix with your sponge brush. I found it best to swipe and splodge it on.
7. Leave to dry and repeat with another layer until all the gaps are filled (I did 2 layers!)
8. All finished!! I would recommend 1 - 2 layers of plain Mod Podge over top to seal the glitter.

A special tip; I found it was easier to use a pair of shoes close in colour to the glitter I was using. I have some silver mary-janes I want to DIY next!

 White Cardigan - Random Invercargill Shop, Ornage Dress - Thrifted from Trademe,  
Gold Flower Hair Clip - Christmas isle at Spotlight, Gold Glitter Boots - Made by Me!!

Wouldn't these be perfect to wear on a Girls Night Out??

So there you have it! A fun project to do up some old/cheap shoes. I can't wait to dance around in these! Are you gonna have a go at this DIY? Make sure to leave me a link to your photos in the comments! If you want to reference this post or use my photos please let me know  - thanks friends!!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Instagram Fest // The Week That Was

I realise I have been a little absent lately! Between sorting my internet, trying to get rid of the pile of cardboard boxes that are still littered around my new house and frequent trips to Dunedin in the weekend blogging has been at the bottom of the heap over the last couple of weeks! I have plans to get back onto to it ASAP though, so no worries!!

I went up to Dunedin in the weekend and reviewed the Imperial Russian Ballet Company's 'A Festival of Russian Ballet' which is touring New Zealand at the moment.You can read my review here if you like! also caught up with a couple of friends and had a quiet drink in town which was fun!

So you all know what else I've been up to lately, here are some lovely Instagram pics to fill in the gaps. I love how my phone is always there to capture little moments and entertain me when I'm bored!

 A pretty thrifted playsuit I bought off Trademe, making hot chocolate at home on my espresso machine, a pair of thrifted silver mary janes I plan to do a DIY on, the dress pattern and material I am using at dress making class (middle right!), my old ballet shoes I found when moving and wore while doing plies using my dresser as a barre, the view from my awesome seat before watching the Russian Ballet Company perform (read my review here!), a cheeky cherio lunch yesterday, an awesome vintage tutu I just bought (I've been looking for one for ages!!) can't wait to get it!!

If you have Instagram too look me up sometime - my username is sparkleylining. I'd love to see what you take photos of!!

The rest of this week will involve looking for storage solutions for my sewing/dressing room and cake studio, baking some tasty treats to take to Dunedin this weekend  when I go up to see Sleeping Beauty (yes, more ballet!) beginning to sew my dress at dressmaking class on Thursday and waiting by the phone in case my little nephew decides to make an appearance this week!!

What are your plans for the rest of the week and the weekend?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Life Lately // NZCDG Conference 2011

 The venue where the conference was held - Malborough Convention Centre

I mentioned in my last post I was away at the National Cake Decorators Guild (NZCDG) annual conference over the weekend. It was the first one I have attended as I only joined up late last year so it was a bit intimidating/scarey not knowing what to expect!!

 My Dunedin group (me - bottom left!) - A few travelled up by themselves

There were 6 of us going together in a van from Dunedin, which was a long trip! We did it all in one day with quite a few stops, we left at 8am on Thursday and arrived in Blenheim about 5:30pm that night!

Because I was a newbie I got to be a delegate for my local club (I represented the Dunedin Sugar Craft Guild but I'm also a member of the Foveaux Cake & Sugar Art Guild in Invercargill!) which was so scarey! Me and another member went to the AGM on the Friday and had the responsibility of voting for the new President of the club and also voted on where the next South Island conference would be held - the options were my Invercargill Club or Nelson - unfortunately Nelson won by 2 votes!! So close.
My favourite berry of the lot - Rosehip. 
Demonstrator - Betty Debnam from Tasmania, Australia

 Wedding Dress Cake - Piping, brush embrodiary, pleating fondant
Demonstrator -Toba Garret from New York, USA
 The goodies I bought on Saturday - From the Trade Show

On Saturday I saw some 2 demonstrations, 1 on some berries which would make perfect fillers for floral arrangements, and a pretty wedding dress cake - the piping was so perfect and tiny!! I also got to go shopping - they have a whole lot of trade tables with people selling all kinds of cake decorating equipment. I didn't spend too much but I got some things I had been meaning to get for a while!! I also checked out the plaques some of the clubs entered and the competition flowers and cakes!

The plaque my club entered - The theme was "Through the vineyard window"

 A competition cake I liked

The cake that won the Peoples Choice - It was covered in tiny little fairies - including a 
Bride and Groom fairy!!

On Saturday night we had a formal dinner at the Malborough Convention Centre where the conference was being held. I sat next to a woman from the Whangarei club and it was really fun chatting to her all night! There was also a Cake Decorating Judge at our table and a few other women who had been to lots of conferences so they told me all about the ones they had been to in the past. 

 I absolutley love this little Elf - Strip cutter used for stripes (they sold out I missed out!)
Demonstrator - Raewin Kelly from Gisborne, New Zealand

 Butterfly Lily - She also showed us a ribbon rose (left)
Demonstrator - Pam Archibald from Victoria, Australia

Sunday was the final day of the conference that we were attending, and I saw 2 more demonstrations - 1 on a super cute little Christmas elf (I loved the tips for modelling little people its right up my alley!!) and the other was a pretty Butterfly Lily. 

 Bottom left are some seals on the beach!

A cute little road-side shop - Near Kaikoura

We headed home again on Monday, stopping briefly just out of Kaikoura to watch the seals playing on the rocks and to pick up some crayfish at a cute little road-side shop!

It was really cool being in the same place as a whole bunch of other Cake Decorators, learning heaps of new skills and tricks and remembering names and faces for the next conference I go to. We really need more young members like me to join so the older ones have someone to pass their skills and experience on to!! Definitely look up a local club if you're interested in Cake Decorating, I'm pretty sure there will be something similar all over the world. Next year I'm keen to attend the State one held in Melbourne, Australia too!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Life Lately // Plans for November

Advertising for the Cake Decorating Conference in Blenheim - iPhone/Instagram

 Hello everyone! It's been a while. It wasn't a deliberate break, but more of an unfortunate situation involving Telecom and their inability to sort out a faulty phone jack point for an entire week!! No internet for work or play!

Anyway, I'm back in action!! I just got back last night from the New Zealand Cake Decorators Guild (NZCDG) annual conference which was held up in Blenheim this year. It's held in the South Island one year and then the North Island the next year. It was a pretty cool experience - I was a Delegate for our local club (Dunedin Sugar Craft Guild) and attended the AGM meeting, I saw 3 demonstrations from Cake Decorators hailing from America, Australia and New Zealand and I picked up a bunch of cool cake decorating supplies. The next South Island one will be in Nelson in 2 years so I'm looking forward to it! I'll post some photos from the trip tomorrow!

This weekend coming I'm reviewing the Imperial Russian Ballet which is touring New Zealand at the moment. I'm so excited! The last time I saw the Russian Ballet was just after I graduated with my Architectural Draughting Diploma - I had started my first 'real' job and shouted my Grandma a trip to the ballet. The following weekend I'm reviewing Sleeping Beauty from the Royal New Zealand Ballet which I have been looking forward to since I heard about it almost 2 years ago! So I'll have a busy couple of weekends up in Dunedin over the next little while. 

To top it all off I'm about to be an Aunty soon! My sister is due on the 15th November so not long to go now!

What have you been up to lately? Do you have any exciting plans for November? Oh! For the guy in your life - get them involved in 'Movember' !! I used to work in an office where I was the only girl among 10 or so guys - they all grew beards until the 29th November, then shaved most of them off into funky beards or moustaches. There were prizes for the best design, least hair grown, etc. Great cause!!