Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Macaroon Syrup Cake with Candied Orange Slices

One of my colleagues had a birthday this week - so I put my hand up to make a cake for our office morning tea.

I put my own spin on a family favourite - my Mum's Macaroon Syrup cake. I'm not sure where she originally got the recipe from but she's been making it for years and it always turns out fantastically.

I followed her "cake" recipe component below

Cake Ingredients
125g butter
1 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
2 cups coconut
1 cup self raising flour

Grease ring pan or line base and sides with baking paper.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Beat in eggs one by one very well
Stir in coconut and sifted flour
Spread mixture in pan
Bake in 160C oven for about 45 mins

Now my Mum always uses tinned mandarin segments to decorate the top of the cake and utilises the "juice" to make the syrup, but I tweaked it a little and made candied orange slices and syrup instead.

Syrup Ingredients
2 oranges
1 cup caster sugar
3 cups water
1 lemon

Slice oranges into 5mm slices (I left the rind on)
Add 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup caster sugar to pan and heat until water boils and sugar dissolves
Add orange slices to pan, bring to boil and then turn down to simmer until the liquid reduces (approx 15 mins)
Remove slices from pan and place on sheet of baking paper
Add remaining 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup caster sugar to pan with two lemon wedges and simmer for 10 minutes

At this point remove the cake from the oven (do not remove from the tin), and pour the hot syrup over the hot cake. (Every time I do this I always think I have too much liquid and I'm going to drown the cake - but trust me, it soaks it up like a sponge.)

(Yes I made a mini cake in a ramekin for Mr Tchotchke)

Let the cake cool before you remove it from the tin. Arrange the candied orange slices around the top of the cake.

Yum - it's a relatively cheap and easy cake to make and always seems to impress people with how moist and delicious it is. If only our citrus trees started producing I'd be making it more often!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Made In The Now

Who doesn't love getting a parcel in the mail?

This parcel was extra special. This was my first purchase from Made In The Now - an amazing online tshirt design studio that produces one topical design every day for a limited time of 24 hours. They only print the quantity ordered, and are based right here in Brisbane!

The shirt that I snapped up was inspired by Martha Stewart's recent 70th birthday (can you believe it?).

She is totally my homegirl. Made In The Now uses graphic designers from all over the world - but this particular one was designed by my gorgeous friend Alex Naghavi.

I don't know how they come up with such amazing and diverse graphics with such tight deadlines - if you follow their facebook page you can vote for your chosen news story for each day, and then order the tee in a matter of hours. Even Martha would be impressed.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Grass is Always Greener..

Our next door neighbour's chickens (yes - they have chickens too) can't resist sampling the bugs in our backyard..

Monday, 22 August 2011

Perfect Poppies

Our freebie Ekka Lindemans hanging baskets have surprised me with these gorgeous poppy blooms. 


The second hot pink one reminds me a little of this poppy print I've always loved from Marimekko.

via Pinterest
I think this is an "inspired by" print but it works fantastically on this upholstered bedhead.

via Pinterest
 Although my first point of reference will always be the field of poppies from The Wizard of Oz.

via Pinterest
However I think I'll have to grow quite a few more poppies before I can blame my sleep-ins on them..

Friday, 19 August 2011

Ekka Highlights

I took advantage of our public holiday on Wednesday to visit the Ekka!

Would you believe it was the first time I'd had one of the famous strawberry sundaes? I was curious to try the new icecream by Mamminos - and I was pleasantly surprised - it was so delicious! They just need to get rid of the rubbish cardboard cones..

A new attraction this year was the Lindeman's Open Garden - we were drawn in initially because it just looked like a nice place to sit and eat lunch (and buy a bottle of wine!)...

... but we discovered they had a great hanging basket activity. This was the huge metal "tree" in the middle of the site.

In exchange for your email address (inputted into an ipad by promo girls) you were given a hanging basket, and could choose two flowering and one herb to assemble into it. This was the very cute planting area..

There wasn't a huge selection of plants - but hey - it was all free! I chose a poppy, some white pansies and some cat grass. After we had finished our baskets they hung they all up on the tree, and we picked them up on our way home. A brilliant marketing idea if you ask me.

But of course it wouldn't be the Ekka without some gratuitous chicken shots.

I always find it funny how I'm certain that my chickens have soo much personality and are so unique and I could pick them in a line up easily - until I visit the Ekka. We saw row after row of Charlottes, Henrietta's and even a few Dr Octopuses! (they must have caught the bus in)

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Before and After: Our Kitchen

In honour of the impending finale of everyone's favourite home renovation show The Block, I thought I'd post about our own home renovation with a quick before and after of our kitchen.

This is the before shot from the real estate agent photos.

It was well worn but certainly liveable... however we were doing so much to the house already we figured we'd overhaul the kitchen too before we moved in.

Whenever I see these pics I'm certain they used a crazy fish eye lens - and I have no idea how the previous owner ever used that table - its such a small space..

Then Mr Tchotchke went to work as a demolition apprentice.

Mr T and my wonderful Dad pulling down the awful ceilings.

And then the walls...

Yup we took it right back to its bare bones.

After the plastering and painting in went the IKEA kitchen! We hired a guy to put it in for us (note: not their recommended installation company) - and for a kitchen that the pro's should be able to assemble in a day - he took five weeks. Enough said.

Ahh my lovely Domsjo sink.. it was so much cheaper than other butler sinks I was slightly wary - but over one year on it still looks the goods.

See that wiring hole in the back of the microwave cupboard? Our kitchen dude drilled it in two other places too. #shouldhavedoneitourselves

We used the Numerar worktops and Lidingo cabinets, with Varde handles and Grej drawer pulls (don't you love IKEA names?)

And here is how it looks today!

It's a great little kitchen - warm and practical - hampton's-esque but not too snooty.

I think the subway tile and butcher block counters are pretty timeless - and if we ever get sick of the pistachio green paint and stripey curtain (made it myself from IKEA fabric) we can change them relatively easily for a whole new look.

I think IKEA cops a bad rap sometimes - but I'm a big fan of their kitchens. The downloadable planning tool was fantastic - it let me change the layout twenty times to ensure I decided on the best combination of cabinets, and their products are really designed for maximising small spaces. Our kitchen has all the bells and whistles - soft close drawers, corner pull outs and carousels, in and under cabinet lightning and crazy storage - and there's no way we would have been able to afford those features with other brands. And who else gives you a 25 year guarantee?

(I swear I don't work for IKEA's PR department.)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

I'd Never Wear a Fur Coat...

...But Dr Octopus manages to pull it off.

It's high maintenance garb - she spends hour upon hour preening, scratching, dust bathing and fluffing, but she always looks like a million dollars for a stroll through the garden.

I've never entered any of the girls into the Ekka - but I have no doubt that they'd be prize winners.

Monday, 8 August 2011

DIY Wedding Card Art (in the style of... Damien Hirst)

I'm a keeper.

And by that I mean, I tend to keep things. Useful things, pretty things, sentimental things. 

I'd been keeping all of our engagement and wedding cards from our friends and family in a big box in the cupboard, until one day I decided that they'd be put to better use in a craft project.

I'd always really loved Damien Hirst's LSD series, especially in the below shot from Elle.

via Elle
But since I don't have a lazy 7,500 GBP, and I also didn't want to paint my own and directly plagiarise his idea, I thought I'd utilise all the lovely graphics from our wedding cards instead.

I picked a glass the right size and traced the circumference on the front of each card. I cut a variety of different images, some deliberate, some abstract, with different textures and colours, and played around with the placement until I was happy with how it looked. I love that there's a chicken in there, and Mick Jagger's lips too.

You could obviously appropriate this idea with any cards from any occasion, ie a birthday, graduation, anniversary etc. It would even be great to use momentos and maps from travels.

I think it fits in well with alongside Mrs Wong and our indigenous art. I love how it just looks like an interesting print but to me it has so much more sentimental value. And best of all it didn't cost a cent.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Propagating Rosemary

I helped my family out with some garden work this weekend, and was rewarded with these cuttings from their rosemary bush.

It was a really big bush. They actually used a chainsaw to cut it back. I felt a little sheepish looking at the tiny twig I've been carefully tending to in our garden.

I'd heard that rosemary was relatively easy to propagate - so I reserved half of the bundle to dry, and popped the other half into vases and jars of water to propagate. 

This is one of the largest sprigs (like the blue mason jar left over from our wedding reception table settings?). I'm actually unsure if a sprig this big will take root - so I've hedged my bets by using a variety of different size twigs. Here's hoping I'm on my way to rosemary hedge of my own.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Camoflage Cat

Do you ever get that funny feeling you're being watched?

I saved the terracotta pot from heading to the dump at a relative's house yesterday - and my neighbours cat Mushie seems to have taken a shine to it too.
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