Monday, December 31, 2007

The NYE thing

I think I've probably said before that I'm not really into the whole big New Year's Eve night out thing - the high expectations are often a set up for disaster.


The best NYEs I've ever had have been simple - good food with a couple friends.


I'm talking about you Beauzo, watching fireworks from our balcony, kulfi (actually, I don't remember if we actually had kulfi that night, but it always makes me think of kulfi. mmmm).

And New Year in Danmark - Gitte's dad raising the Christmas tree up the neighbour's flag pole, and then bunding a bunch of fireworks together to set them all off at once (do not try this at home!)


I guess I told the same stories last year, but they are really two of my greatest New Year memories, so I'll probably tell them again next year, and every year! =D


This year we're inside at home hiding from the heat, although apparently it was hotter yesterday, and its not nearly as warm here as Melbourne or Adelaide.


We've made a delish dinner - strawberry and haloumi salad, home made ravioli, bocconcini tomato and basil salad, brie stuffed chicken (hey there's you again Beauzo - meat stuffed with cheese wrapped in meat mmmmmm), and New Year chocolate mousse.

We'll sit on the balcony and toast the New Year by candlelight (aah my new Georg Jensen candle holders =D ) - or fall asleep in front of the tv at 11:15!!

Wishing you the best for your NYE festivities!!

besos =)

please excuse the grainy pics - I'm still working on gettin the new camera to behave =s

Sunday, December 30, 2007

FO: Kitty McGritty

Besides working (a bit) on my gifty mitts (hey, its summer here anyway, right) over the past few days I've been working on a little friend for Sheep McGreep.

Meet Kitty McGritty!

From Angry T-Rex Roars



No mods this time, apart from felting - there's KM pre-felting



And post-, with Sheep McGreep for scale.

Like Sheep McGreep, this little guy was finished on the road, with stuffing and face added during the Christmas Road Trip (part II).

As you can see we couldn't resist another ice-cream stop and a stroll on the beach.




This guy is super cute, and I'll definitely be trying this pattern again - I think their little faces could use some work =)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

We're just takin' it easy

because there's not much else you can do in 38C heat.

cuppies made for minto's birthday afternoon-tea at work

Thursday, December 27, 2007

FO: Sheep McGreep


From the Australian Women's Weekly knitted nativity set.

Mods: body and head knit in one piece, felted after attaching ears and legs (but before stuffing).

Yarn: Lincraft cosy and feathers

Finished: Christmas road-trip (part I).
eyes and mouth were essential for carrying out navigational duties



Pictured at Lakes Entrance, where we took an ice-cream break - some of the best ice-cream you'll ever taste! =)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Making that list

I think this whole 'making a list, checking it twice' is probably the best Christmas advice Santa ever gave us.
Today is list checking day chez Kuka, before we set off on our roadtrip tomorrow morning.



Pressies are wrapped, goodies baked, dishes done and undies in the dryer.
I was a little nervous this morning on reading about the storms overnight ("road closure", "flash flooding", "wreak havoc" and "Christmas traffic" are phrases that I really don't want to see together, ok?)



I'll have about 8 hours in the car to work on the gifty mitts - there's a sneak peak of the inside =)

Safe travels to my fellow road-trippers!

besos xo

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Julehygge

The Boy and I hit the city to do the last of our Christmas shopping on Sunday, people are completely nuts!!

On arriving home I wanted to wind down with something festive but relaxing, and let me tell you, nothing says Christmas Spirit (well, julestemning, really), like the smell of fresh baked brunkager. Ok, well except maybe aebleskiver and gloegg, but I'm working on that! ;)

Brunkager are a kind of Danish ginger spice cookie, traditionally baked at Christmas time.

I took some of these along to Bells' crafternoon last week, and they were also the fave baked goody at J-Mo's bbq on Saturday.


Since I'm on a recipe share roll, here's how:


In a saucepan, melt together:
125g butter
200mL golden syrup
125g brown sugar

In a large bowl mix:
380g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder (actually, the original recipe uses baking potash, but I haven't been able to find it anywhere here?)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves (I like the danish word - nellike) =)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Combine the cooled butter/sugar mixture with the flour/spices, and add
25g of finely chopped blanched almonds

Mix to a dough, and then pop it in the fridge for at least an hour (overnight is good)

Roll out really thin - just 2 or 3mm or so, then cut out with Christmassy cutters.

Now these guys are really thin so they will cook quickly - about 5-6 minutes at 180C.

I made the little gingerbread man guys, and also the more traditionally Christmassy shapes. Brunkager are often decorated with a half blanched almost pressed into the top before baking.

Aah, just looking at brunkager, with the almond in the top makes me smile =D

besos =)


btw, those cute Christmas decorations (love love love love love them!) in the shot with the brunkager, they came from the giftshop at Kronborg castle - cool huh =)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

gifty mitts

Whilst the Christmas bakey has obviously had the lion's share of my homey time of late, here's some proof that the knitting continues - the gifty mitts.

I'm a bit further on from the cuff on the first one, and hoping to finish the first by next week =)

I have also started on another gifty something, which involves a bit of felting...

Hope your gifty knits are zooming along =)

besos

Friday, December 14, 2007

pud

I have very little to say this week - work and everything is busy at the moment.. - so instead here's another tasty Christmassy treat =)
- mini-Christmassy puds -

I adapted these from a recipe I've seen around a few places, since I know a number of people who aren't super keen on fruit cake.

I took some of these along to to Bells' crafternoon, and, though they look impressive, I promise they're very easy!

Crush one packet of plain biscuits (something like milk arrowroot or marie),
mix with one (eta 395g) can of condensed milk, half a cup of desicated coconut and 2 tablespoons of cocoa.
Roll into little balls and chill til firm.
Once firm, dip each ball into melted dark chocolate to coat.

Allow dark chocolate to set, then put a little bit of white chocolate on the top to look like custard.
Before the white chocolate sets decorate with red and green lollies to look like holly.
I used chopped up red and green frogs - I think miny M&ms would work really well too (ooh,I added peppermint essence too, since I do like to mint it up a bit =D )

They're delish with coffee!

besos

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Crafternoon

As you may have read in a number of places on the www, today the lovely Bells did a wonderful job of hosting us at a yarny Christmassy crafternoon!
Squeeeee check out those cuppies!

It was so nice to catch up with some of the Canberra girls who I haven't seen for a while, and also to meet some 'special guest stars'!!!

I've had a bit of project ADD lately - planning mittens, fondling sock yarn, searching for lace patterns, and working on two different sets of grannys, but I did finally get a start on the mittens.
They're a giftie knit, so I may not be able to say more about those yet...


Did I mention the prize?
A little while ago I won a prize (hurrah) over at SSoS, just for being a sock knitting newbie!
Checkout the loot - a cute little tin with two pretty pretty stitch-markers inside and a gorgeous yellow project bag (a la Rose Red =))

Thanks for an excellent crafternoon, guys =D

besos

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Winty knitty

Just in case I'm not the very last person to find out the new knitty is up... well, go on, check it out.
I think this is my fave... =)

besos =)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pepernoten

In the Netherlands tonight, Saint Nicholas' eve, is the night that Sinterklaas comes with gifts for all the kiddies.

This is also the holiday with which one of my favourite Flemish baked goodies are associated - pepernoten.

Mmmm, let's make some now!!

Preheat your oven to 180C

In a bowl mix together:
125g self-raising flour
25g butter
50g brown sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp mixed spice

Now knead until you have a smooth ball of dough.



Roll dough into teaspoon-ish sized balls (if you make them small enough to be 'one-biters' then you can pop one in between rows!)

Now bake for about 15 minutes, or so.
Ok, I don't know, I guess it depends how big the balls are - just bake until kinda golden and crunchy

Taadaa!



Mmmmm speculaascious!

besos =)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

the ultimate travelling sock

Anyone who enjoys following the Yarn Harlot's travelling socks has to check this out.
Tracy at Stringativity actually got Barack Obama to hold her sock!!!

Sock high-fives!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Oooh dear

Hmm now that I'm getting the camera sorted out it seems blogger doesnt want to co-operate with the photos =(
blah



This delish fig and fetta toast from last tuesday's crafternoon is a test...
mmmm and it was so delish!

see, when I click on the photo it tries to download, instead of opening in its own window with a url i can use??

and the pics of the stained glass have disappeared (at least when I view it) =(

help?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Stained glass

Wow, I've been having some issues with photos - mostly that I couldn't figure out how the frak to get the pictures from the camera to the computer.
To be honest, I'm still not entirely sure what I did diffently for it to work but I'm not going to complain.

So now that I do have some pics I thought I'd share the recipe for the stained glass window biscuits.

I'll start off by saying that mum has been making these for years - I'm sure she made them while I was at home, and that is approaching 10 years ago - and this is a different recipe to what we used to use then (I'll be looking that up over Christmas, I think).
Over the past couple of years I've seen the same idea pop-up more and more, different each time.
This recipe is from a food magazine (Super Food Ideas) a couple of years ago, and is a very plain biscuit, leaving the sweetness to the lollies in the middle.
There's also a recipe in the Essential Christmas Cookbook (you know how I love those essential cookbooks!), and (if you're in Australia) the current (December) Australian Table magazine.



So, you need (for about 20 biscuits):
125g softened butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup golden syrup
1 egg
2 1/2 cups plain flouor
1/4 teaspoon bicarb soda
clear boiled lollies - These can be tricky to find. Sometimes you can get fruit drops, and last year I used some sugar free ones which worked fine. This year I got Starburst lollypops, and they're perfect - the colours are gorgeous and they taste delish!

Ready? Ok

With an electric mixer beat butter, sugar and golden syrup untill pale and creamy.
Add egg and beat util combined.
Mix bicarb and flour, then add to the butter, stirring until a soft dough forms.
Knead until smooth, then wrap and refrigerate for 30min.

Preheat oven to 180C.

Place lollies in ziplock bags (please remove yarn first!), a bag for each colour, wrap the bag in a tea towel and crush lollies with a rolling pin.

Split the dough in half, and roll out each piece between 2 sheets of baking paper to about 4mm thick, then cut out your Christmassy shapes and place on baking paper lined trays.



Cut little shapes out (little cutters are handy, but not essential - one year when I was in Denmark I managed passable freehand stars, and even basic circles/triangles/squares are going to look pretty) and spoon crushed lollies into the cutout area.

Bake biscuits for about 12 or 15 minutes, until the lollies are melted and bisuits are golden, then allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before moving to a tray to finish cooling.
They might look a bit bubbly when they come out of the oven, but will smooth out on standing.

Taadaa!



Now sit back, admire, be impressed with yourself and enjoy =D

besos =)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Outta here

We're off to Sydney, just about right now.
Lucky this arrived this week to keep me company in the car...



See you (on the flip side?)

besos =)

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Knight under the stars

The Boy and I have been to see Elton John tonight, and I think it will take us about 4 days to dry off from all that rain!!!!
(Somehow, even with all the monitoring of forecasts and such, I really never thought it was going to rain like that)



Despite the rain, Sir Elton put on over two hours worth of amazing show.

I stil can't believe that one little guy, on stage alone with only a piano could make such incredible music!



Lots of old favourites got an airing - the concert started with Your Song, evoked crowd participation for the Crocodile Rock and came full circle (so to speak) ending with The Circle of Life.

I know Elton has something of a reputation as being a bit of a 'diva', but tonight he came across as a gracious gentleman - introducing each song with the album of origin an a bit about what it meant, and sincerely thanking the audience for sitting out the very unfriendly weather.

It was all kind of surreal actually, all huddled together, poncho clad in the rain with Elton John singing 'Your Song' right there in front of us.

And I don't care what people say, that voice is still amazing!



My favourite part??
I've always loved 'That's why they call it the blues' - it was excellent live, along with 'Your Song', 'Circle of life' and 'Daniel', (eeek its all my favourite!) but I think the absolute best was 'Don't let the sun go down on me'. Amazing!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

In with the new...

So, the 'playing-up' issues I was having with my camera last week ended with a new camera.
Turned out the motor in charge of the lens was stuffed, and it wouldn't be worth fixing.
And, you know, when something is completely stuffed sometimes its best to go out with the old and in with the new, whether you're talking about a camera or, well, a government...

Today being stir up Sunday
I started on the first of the Christmas preparations - the pudding =)

(OK, while I was at it I couldn't resist some cute cookies too...)
More Christmassy goodness on the way to advent this week - including a wee crafternoon on Tuesday =)

Can't wait =)

Anyone else got crafty Christmas excitment on the boil and wants to share??

besos =)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

a whole year

I can simply not believe its been a whole year since, well, this time last year!!

A year ago I missed out on an interview for my job
Yesterday I was advised I got it.

A year ago (today, actually) I 'did' my ankle.
Today I'm a week into starting back at the gym.

A year ago I sat with a hook and a happy hooker, and made my first crochet stitches and granny square.

Today I pulled it out of its hibernation to resume working on it.


I started with the cream, light and medium blue and light and medium purple, and the aim to do one of each combination of blue cream and purple.
That would have been 24 squares (or so?).
Now I've introduced dark as well, so it will be lots more.
I think I'm up to about 38 now, I'm doing them in set of six (with each combination of colours)
I'm not super sure about the purple, maybe its far too dark....
Maybe adding a darker dark blue and a lighter dark purple as well for balance...

Mmm, 'n' that's it...



besos =)

and no, Paris has absolutely nothing to do with this post, except that my camera isn't cooperating, and every so often its nice to remind myself I was there. And there's a pony!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

first sock happy dance

At SnB today I cast-off my very first sock!!!



(have we had that talk about how hard it is to photograph socks?)
I guess the above is the best over-all shot - the below shows the colour much better, and you can see the pattern a little better, maybe??



Giving stats now feels kinda like cheating..
But I'll tell you this is Knitty's Diamante (toe-up), knit on 2.5mm dpns, from Sullivans sock yarn (from Lincraft)



You may have guessed those large feet aren't mine
The pattern does say they're a ladies large, but still they turned out larger than I expected.

Also, when I washed the sock for blogger it bled like crazy!

I am really tempted to have a break before knitting the partner sock to this one, to make something for myself...
(and so second sock syndrome starts!! teehee)

besos =)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Several thousand words

We're having a loverly, laid-back weekend here chez Kuka et Boy, complete with coffee and brownies (recipe here if you're interested) on the balcony, after a reasonably busy week.



My big excitement for the week has been starting back at the gym (ok, there may appear to be some irony associated with that statement coming right after the moist chocolately goodness above. Whatever =p ).
For a number of months I went regularly, and really enjoyed it, before injuring my ankle about this time last year.
For a long time after it was 'better' I was really nervous about doing too much and hurting it again, and I guess by the time I got over that we were in the middle of cold dark winter.
I decided that I would start again as soon as daylight saving time started, but delayed by two weeks on account of the gym being closed for refurbishment.

Imagine my delight when I arrived on Monday afternoon to see that refurbishment included all new machines.
Machines each with their own personal tvs.
TVs which have the W channel.
The W channel that shows OPRAH EVERY AFTERNOON AT 5:25!!!!!
Huzzah!!!
So, guess where you can find me at 5:25 every afternoon hehe
(and yes I spent the rest of the week counting down the minutes to when I would next get to 'work-out with Oprah' hehe)

Tuesday was the annual VIP night at David Jones, AKA the night of feeding my desire to have pretty shiny things of the Georg Jensen variety.



That's my new GJ salt cellar there - pretty =)
I also bought some candle holders that I had seen in Denmark, but not bought on account of them being heavy-ish for luggage.
I imagine they'll pop up here before too long too. =)



My garden is coming along nicely - I was nervous about how it would handle a few days in a row of warm-ish weather, but so far it seems ok.
As well as a couple of strawberries a week, and the cherry tomatoes pictured, my dwarf bean and snow pea plants are growing like crazy, and the geraniums are flowering all over the place.
(Actually, re geraniums, I'm going to put a shout out to all my fellow SnBers, if anyone planning to go to SnB tomorrow has a red or white geranium and could spare a cutting or two I'd be really grateful - mine have all come from two plants both of which are pink and I'd love a red and a white plant =))



Tonight we had great evening out for dinner (and some chilli hot choccy goodness at Koko Black) with a friend of the Boy.
When we walked through Garema Place "The Birds" was showing (eeek creepy) on the big screen, and we saw signs saying that next Saturday they are showing "Night At The Museum."
I'm not sure if its just a November thing (this was the first we knew of it, and I'm not sure there has been much advertising), but if anyone is interested there is a little more info here.
Tonight was certainly perfect weather for it!!!



In socky news, I am almost finished (the pic is a couple of days old now) my first.
I'm sure I would be finished days ago if it weren't for the fact that I stop approximately every 17 stitches to marvel at the fact I made my knitting go around a corner!!! teehee

Wishing everyone an equally relaxing weekend, and hope to see some of my local SnB friends tomorrow!!!!

besos =)

Monday, November 12, 2007

knead bread?

Inspired (once again!!!) by Bells' and Rose Red's delish bloggy tribute to Nigella, Mouthfuls of Heaven, I decided that this was the weekend I would try my hand as some home-baked bread.

On advice from Bells (and having seen RR's success with the same recipe) I tried out the white loaf from How to be a Domestic Goddess.



Ok, to be completely honest, that's stunt dough.
See, Nigella had this fabulous idea about making the dough in the evening , leaving it in the fridge overnight, then simply popping it in the oven for quick fresh tasty breakfast bread the next morning.
What she doesn't mention is that it takes a really long time for the dough to come to room temperature before you bake it.
Seriously, I waited like 2 hours before I put the loaf in, and it was still a complete bust (ok, not complete. it was passable as bread. and, you know, boys will eat anything!!)
Still, it wasn't the bready treat I was hoping for.

However, I was determined not to be beaten a simple white loaf of bread (you know, if the people on big brother can make it from scratch!....) so I gave it another shot on Sunday - this time without the chill factor.

Rather than the loaf, I decided to try the garlic and parsley hearthbread (also from Domestic Goddess), to accompany the chicken salad we were planning for dinner.



Ok, yes, it looked kinda scary going into the over.
But, taadaa



I think in the end it came out alright =D

There are definately a few more bready recipes in Domestic Goddess that I'd like to try out - the bagels, the nigellan flatbread and the maple pecan bread for a start! - to get more of a feel for the process.
Then I'm seeing corn bread, and nice fluffy pumpkin loaves sprinkled with pepitas!

Oooh, there will be no Atkinsing here, no way - that's for sure!!!

besos =)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Now for the S.E.X part...

Yes, the Stash Enhancement eXpedition - that's yarn shopping, silly!

On Friday my fellow JT lover and concert companion, Maria, had to work.

I'm not usually one to say no to a bit of a lie-in (especially on a 'school day!'), but since she works not far from Darling Harbour I skipped the sleep-in and we headed into the city together.

Actually, to be honest, I really like a chance to experience someone else's everyday life, to get an insight into other people's little rituals - where they go for coffee, what they listen to in the car on the way to work.
I don't know, I find it kinda interesting.
Its like quirky introduction of the characters at the start of Amelie.

After a bacon and eggy breakfast at Darling harbour I headed off for some shopping/browsing.

Unfortunately, despite the pleasant weather earlier in the week, Sydney was not interested in co-operating with my lovely morning of strolling around the city plans.

Outside it was humid and drizzley (exhibit A, Darling Harbour above) inside damp and steamy (exhibit B, QVB, left).

However, despite the 'unfriendly' conditions, I did enjoy my morning of vague wandering around the city (well, the drier parts hehe)



Any knitter who has spent time in Sydney, may know where you end up if you head straight up Market St from Darling Harbour, then take a left at the QVB?

That's right - Tapestry Craft!!!!

The girls at Tapestry Craft were lovely - they let me pet a new sock yarn they've got coming I'm (very pretty - there was lots of oohing and aaahing) and helped me pick out some socky stash - the Argyle Heirloom there in the pic.
It feels lovely and soft, and the colour has come out pretty well in the pic (on the right, more so than below) =).

Most exciting was, on seeing my interest in the sock yarns, the girls were plugging the Souther Summer of Socks knit-along!!! and were impressed that I'm in the same SnB as the lovely Bells!!!
Aaaah it was very exciting!!!!

Oooh, I also picked up a handy dandy little knitting dictionary - Knit Speak - at Borders =)

Speaking of socks and SSoS my first sock is coming along great (I think) - you could say I've just turned a corner (well, a heel! =P) - more photographic evidence on the way soon =D

And, you know I mentioned the SSoS girls were running a newbie comp?, well - every child wins a prize (oh yes, even me!)!!!!

Thanks again guys!!!!

besos =)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

FutureSex/LoveShow

I really don't know what to say about JT.
Except that he was *amazing*.
REALLY.

The set up was perfect for a stadium gig (but hard to photograph) - with one big round stage in the centre of the arena.
That's JT there in the bottom left.

Curving to the left and the right from where he's standing are bars!!
As in, buy a chardie, have JT dance on the bar Coyote-style (well, not exactly) kinda bars! Too cool!!

Back towards the centre of the stage the keyboard guys are set up, with the drummers in the same place on the other side, they were on little platforms that rolled out towards the audience at place during the performance.
In the middle of the stage was a circular platform which would sink down into the stage and come back with the piano on, and then slowly rotate while JT played piano for some songs.


Like I said, the show was amazing.
It was so high-energy the whole way through.
I know lots of people have JT written off as 'just a pop singer'.
Mentioning that I had tickets or had been to the concert, I got that same kind of feeling from people as if I mention that I knit (I'm sure I would get that same reaction if I told them that the Yarn Harlot had invited me over for SnB - "hey, that's greeeaaat B" - now where's the nearest exit?!), you know, except I guess 'pop' puts me in the pre-teen group rather than with the knitting grannies.
I think its a pity that so many people seem to have that attitiude here in Australia, and, from my experience, it really is worse here than overseas.

For me, this concert really showcased JT as the musician he is.
Though-out the show, as well as singing, he played electric piano, guitar, synth and keytar(!!), beat-boxed and showed off his smooth dance moves.

There is quite a lot of diversity in the sounds on his album, and he really seems to love trying different things and gets a kick out of collaborating with other musicians - like Timbaland, Clipse, the Neptunes and, yes, even Duran Duran!

Really, he just came across as being passionate about music and performing.
And, true to interviews I've seen with him on TV, he came across as being a genuine nice guy.
I don't know - maybe I'm gushing ;)

Here's what The Age had to say about the Melbourne concert

And he'll be on Rove on Sunday see what you think. =)

In short, the second he's here again I'm there.
Bar-side tickets for sure!!!

besos =)