Monday, 30 December 2013

The Christmas That Was...

The Festive season is all wrapped up. Huge phew!
I adore Christmas as much as anyone. I admit to feeling massively relieved when it's all over however. Massively, massively relieved!
I tend to get a huge surge of mental energy in the days prior to the big event. I want to cook everything from scratch, have a spotless house and have everything just so. It's a really tiring thing being female at this time of year! I know we're all the same. I blame Pinterest too. It's wise to stay away from it in the lead up to Christmas.


Christmas Eve is the beginning of the madness. I tried my hand at crafting my first gingerbread house. I was nervous! I have had the kit for several years and had not yet taken the plunge. This Christmas I just couldn't get to the bakery in time to buy one so the kit made its first appearance from deep, dark storage. I was surprised at how simple it was to make. My stand mixer made it even more so. (Pretty much no work at all in fact). I don't think I will ever buy one again!


It turned out sensational! The kids were so excited about its every stage. Especially this finished product! I even saved us $50 making it!

Ta Da!
 
Another first for me was making a trifle for Christmas day dessert. I love trifle! I haven't had one for years and decided this year would be the one to treat myself and others.


Trifle in the making...geez I even baked the sponge and made the custard from scratch.
I am impressed! - SO Pinterest worthy!!
 
I got organised early this year and purchased a trifle bowl and recipe book devoted to the art of trifle making. Again, I was feeling extremely proud when I produced this very adult flavoured, calorie-laden delicacy! It was hit and miss with the kids. They loved the parts where the sherry hadn't been sprinkled! (We loved the parts where the sherry had been sprinkled)!


Christmas is so sweet at my house with all these kids. Christmas Eve especially is probably my most favourite day of the year. All the work and food preparations combined with the six excited faces makes it such a special and memorable night.
I love retro Christmas decorations so I make sure my collection is on the dinner table for the big event. The kids adore the ornaments too. 

Celeste, Indiana, Kiowa, Ruben, Joaquin and Taite itching to get started on the Christmas Eve
treat feasting! Mince tarts, Christmas lollies, coloured popcorn and Lebkuchen cookies from Germany.
 
The Christmas Day table spread.
My gingerbread house takes pride of place on a vintage 1960's carollers tablecloth which is just too cute!
 
My gingerbread house stood in as a brilliant centrepiece! 
Best of all however was watching the children enjoy the festivities. Please excuse the quality of the pictures as I just snapped hastily on the iPhone. There was no time for the SLR with moments such as these:

A captured moment to remember: A twelve month old Celeste tugs on a bauble and my heartstrings
 
Celeste opens a Christmas gift and peers at it with the most adorable face!
 
What's next?
 
I am liking this day ALOT!
 
Ruben vanishes into his Santa sack in search of the lollies at the very bottom
 
A Christmas tree still-life the day before
Santa's visit was extraordinary to say the least! Six kids generate a lot of paper, excitement, boxes and lolly wrappers! Every year I find it so difficult to photograph them all as they rip through their loot. It usually takes both of us to photograph them all at it at once. I did take a ton of photos on the SLR but have not yet had a moment to sift through them in peace (thanks to the school holidays)!

I was a very lucky girl on Christmas morning. I received two lush handbags! I scored this plush, leather Il Tutto Roma bag for Mum and baby which I adore!

 
 
I also received this divine Aimee Kestenberg Sarah Satchel in champagne which is gorgeous! Sadly I had I rotten cold on Christmas Day and couldn't smell that heady leather smell. I can smell them now though...Mmm!




What special things did you do this Christmas?
Do you get an attack of the manic Pinterest must-dos at Christmas time too?
What did you receive for Christmas?


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Saturday, 21 December 2013

A Blogging Milestone - My 75th Post!


Wow! I have reached a milestone of 75 posts on my blog!
I thought at the three quarters of a century mark, I should write a post devoted to blogging.
I am not entirely sure how I even came to be a blogger. Usually people are very interested when I tell them that I blog.
"Why did you start blogging?"
It's the first question I am so often asked. To be honest, there's no simple answer. 
I do remember that prior to starting my blog, I stumbled upon a very big blogger in the United States. It is a beautiful blog and I was blown away by it. So many followers too! 
It hit me at the time that I can do this! (Okay, maybe not on the scale of that particular blog but we can always dream)!
I turned to the internet to scour for more blogs of note. I had no idea how many were out there. There are so many blogs on the web! 
My first task was to decide exactly what type of blogger I wanted to be. Like so many of you, I am a Mum and that seemed to be the obvious place to start. Adding my interests and background became the second part of the picture. From there, like a big tree, I could branch into many places and hopefully draw in a few readers along the way. 
I hit the local library for books on blogging. I gained a greater understanding from them but none really spoke to me about how to actually do it. There was lots of thinking involved. A blog name was decided upon and I fashioned an idea in my mind of how I wanted my blog to look, feel and be.
I was still uncertain as to how to go about things and then I discovered this book.


It really is a blogger's bible! It explained everything I needed to know and I am still learning from it. The book has a nice big font and lots of point forms. It's like a course guide and very relevant and up to the minute. Perfect for a Mum of 6 with so little time. Especially so, since at the time I commenced blogging I had a 4 month old baby! What was I thinking? 
Clearly I wasn't!
(Remember when I said I didn't know why I started blogging? I really meant it)!
And so I started. Like the book suggested, I just jumped right in and wrote an introduction about myself and the rest just happened. 
Here I am today, all mature at 75 bigguns!
I guess for me, blogging brings all the aspects of my life together in the one place. On the one hand people quiz me on life in a large family constantly so of course this is the main feature. Then there's my love of writing - a place to express the me under all the weight of a large household as well as my media background. It's definitely an outlet for that. Blogging is rather like being the journalist, editor, photographer, PR person and advertiser of your very own magazine website. I love that it ties all the facets of my life into one neat package. 
Blogging gives me the opportunity to experience my life in a second chance kind of way. When I blog something, it helps me to recount the experience. I feel as if I make memories even greater when I can look at them in a whole new light - like a second perception of an event. As I have a really bad memory anyway, I feel this has really helped me hold on to the cherished moments in my life. Such as this little Miss:


Blogging is way more work than I ever anticipated though. I never thought it would take so much effort to compile posts, maintain and promote a blog. Then there's the whole social media aspect of commenting on blogs, and promoting posts which though fun, takes a great deal of time and effort.
It's a weird and wonderful world this blogiverse and I have met many great people along the way both online and in the real world. I have had a lot of fun attending blogger events and working with advertisers.

It will be interesting to see how my blog develops (and the many that I follow) in the coming 12 months. As many bloggers will know, a blog changes its shape constantly as is grows. 
Thank you to those of you who have joined me on my journey so far as I tap away my experiences here on my iPad at the end of 2013. 
Cheers!



Why did you start blogging?
Or if not a blogger, have you considered becoming a blogger?
 
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Friday, 20 December 2013

Festive Biscuits For The Masses...


This week was Taite's last ever kinder session. He is my last little boy at home too so it was an extra special occasion. I have previously written about my thoughts on Taite transitioning to school here.
He had a sweet little kinder concert with songs and dances and little graduation hats. Everything was too cute and I must admit to feeling just a tinsy bit teary witnessing the purest performance ever of Jingle Bells complete with real bell jingling.

 
I hope he holds onto his sweetness when he enters school! He's a little softie this one - kooky too. I adore his little boy spirit and will miss his ever-present self by my side next year.

 
As luck would have it, my older boys were having their primary school parties on the very same day as Taite. For a Mum of many kids that meant supplying a plate of food for four events in one day! 
I could have done the easy thing and done something like popcorn or bought chips and dips but NO! That just would not do!
It was to be biscuits. 
Many biscuits. 
A batch of 88 of them to be precise!

 
Since I bought my KitchenAid Stand Mixer I have been baking biscuits more than ever. The dough hook attachment has taken the labour out of mixing and I now find biscuit baking quite pleasurable. My kids are enjoying it too. (They steal pinches of dough when my back is turned)!

 
I used this biscuit recipe to make the most adorable little star bickies to share with the masses. The dough holds its shape very well so it's perfect for using with cookie cutters of any shape. Best of all was the sense of pride I felt when I walked into kinder holding my plate of stunning cookies! Did I mention they taste great too! My kids talked about these for days, telling me that the plates were emptied very quickly and that the other kids thought they were the best thing at the party! (Make that parties)!

 
In the spirit of Christmas, I am sharing this recipe for those of you who may find yourselves entertaining more than a handful of guests this festive season, be they big or small!
They are bound to be a hit and make very pretty little table decorations too.

To make:

Set your oven to 160 degrees C.
3/4 cup of Meadow Lea margarine (You can use butter - I don't like butter)!
3/4 of a cup of caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 and 3/4 cup of plain flour plus extra for rolling dough.

Cookie cutters of your choosing to suit the occasion. The smaller the cutter, the bigger the batch!
One packet of Nestle White Chocolate Melts (you will need approximately half a bag to decorate).
Silver Sugar Pearls for decoration


I made mine in a stand mixer with a dough hook so please adapt the method to your requirements if hand mixing: Cream the butter and sugar together and when pale add vanilla essence and eggs. Add the dry ingredients and mix slowly until the dough comes together in a ball.
Halve the dough to make it easier to work with. Place the unused half in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap while you work with the other half if the weather is warm for best results.
Flour your workbench and roll out the dough until it's about .5cm thickness.
Cut your shapes and place them on a lined baking sheet.
Bake each sheet of biscuits for 8-10-12 minutes as required. Usually as soon as you can smell them, it's just about time to remove them! Don't let them brown, just the tiniest hint of colour is perfect.

Cool on the sheet and transfer to a wire rack. When completely cool, melt your chocolate according to packet directions. Spoon a small quantity of chocolate onto each cookie and top with a silver bauble.

Admire!

 
Merry Christmas everyone!
I will be posting a little less frequently in the next fortnight due to the holiday period.
(Things are a little quiet in the blogging world at this time of year)!
Enjoy your Festive Season.
 
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Monday, 16 December 2013

Oh Christmas Tree...


Christmas has finally arrived at our house with a bang! Our whole weekend was totally absorbed by it.
We have been slow to start this year thanks to a visit from gastro. I do love Christmas so much, but in a family of this magnitude, any big excitement becomes a volcanic eruption. Lots of hyperactive noise, chaos, over-stimulation and the inevitable tears that go with it. It truly makes me want to run and hide under my bed until it's all over (Darn I cannot fit under there thanks to my huge shoe collection)! It's not surprising that we push well into December before we break out the Christmas spirit as the following will attest! 
Saturday was deemed the visit Santa for the annual Christmas photo day. Miss Celeste was dressed in a pretty frock for her debut. Indiana (my eldest), took this Mum and babe snap prior to leaving which I love.

 
As babies go, she really disliked Santa but we did get a great picture of all the children together so I proudly ticked that task off the list.
The kids had a look around the Christmas Village at Myer and selected some pretty new ornaments for our tree. We like to add special things to our tree at Christmas time. This is especially important since so many get broken each year by kids with fiddly fingers who can't stop touching the poor things! Think of it as a new for old replacement scheme.

I am in love with this little choochy-train ornament chosen
by Taite
 
Our Sunday was devoted to the tree. It was mayhem! Every year is a bittersweet tree event. There's always an issue finding the tree, the decorations and the lights. I couldn't find the tree skirt and ended up emptying the linen cupboard to locate it. (Really undesirable)! The three younger boys fought over the Santa hats (hard to understand really since there's also three hats which all look the same) and precious ornaments were shattered as Taite and Ruben scrambled to reacquaint themselves with Christmas treasures.



 
Michael Buble and Mariah belted out their tunes a little too loudly over the skirmish, causing small bodies to writhe uncontrollably and pre-teens to yell the songs in mimicry. Kids crashed into each other, pushed and shoved, laughed and cried...

 
Foolishly I announced how this particular bauble reminded me of The Prophecy in Harry Potter. It was a major error which led to a brawl between Joaquin, Ruben and Taite as all fought to hang it on the tree.
Epic parenting fail!
The scene was not unlike the actual battle over the Prophecy itself in the movie between Harry and the Death eaters.

Can I hang it?! Followed by tears! (Joaquin snatched the honour)
Through it all, baby sat upon the floor rocking to the music, smiling and playing with her silver beads.
So lovely! Why do they not stay small?

 
If all that wasn't enough madness to last another 12 months, I then got the baking bug! I made these cute Christmas cookies thanks to a recipe from Nigella. They're actually designed to be made into edible tree decorations but my kids were happy to eat them in lunch boxes instead.

 
In the end, the tree came out beautifully and the kids settled in awe. Yet another Christmas task ticked off the list and a bit of loveliness to behold. (While I recovered on the sofa)!



 

What is Christmas time like at your house?
Is your Christmas like a David Jones commercial or more of a Harry Potter / Voldemort experience? 
 
 
 
 
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Monday, 9 December 2013

Once Upon My Time Books - A Review and Giveaway...

 
Want another giveaway? Yes?
Thought so!
How about one for the kids? Save a bit of pocket money this Christmas with an inexpensive gift and expand their little minds.
How about a book? A personalised book?
Yes, yes and YES! (Shout that last one really loud - it feels good)!
Imagine your little one's joy this Christmas when they receive a book in which they are the star! Sound difficult or expensive? Not at all!
We recently had the pleasure to try out the unique books published by Once Upon My Time. Taite, my 5 year old was the proud recipient of a book in which he was the central character. As you can see, he's been pretty enthralled with it too!

 
Once Upon My Time produce books of great quality. The books are hardbound and feature your own child. You can design the book from start to finish, simply and quickly online. You choose three stories from a selection of the 12 available then enter your child's name, hair colour and type and eye colour. The program instantly produces a likeness of your child in a book to cherish forever. You can even view the entire book online before purchasing.
Themes available include counting, animals, dancing, healthy eating, race car driving and even important topics such as stranger danger.
There's a colouring book option for an identical soft cover version of your book. Your child can have some great educational fun lingering over his or her unique stories.

 
The giver can add a dedication at the front of the book which also allows a photographic upload. There are so many ways these books make great gifts with this sweet inclusion! I dedicated Taite's to the last of his preschool months and used a proud image of him from his kinder at Easter time. Such a cherished photo for me since he's my last little preschool boy in the family...(Whaaaaaa)!
I can imagine these books would be super for the arrival of a new sibling (from baby to a big brother or sister), or as gifts from grandparents and friends - endless possibilities. They really are the perfect gift for so many occasions.
The books are aimed at children aged between 2-7 years. They retail for $24.95 each and for just a few dollars more you can add the identical soft cover colouring book to your cart as well. Shipping in Australia is free.
These are a great gift for Christmas! I am really impressed with the quality of the books and the speed with which they arrived - we had them within 10 days of ordering. Taite is a happy boy with his stories about him too. This book is on the top of the pile of his nightly reads with Dad!
Visit Once Upon My Time Books here to learn more or order your own copy.


***GIVEAWAY*** ***GIVEAWAY*** ***GIVEAWAY***
 
Now for the part you've been itching to get to!
Thanks to the generosity of Once Upon My Time books, one Six Little Hearts follower has the chance to win their very own copy of a personalised book and colouring book featuring a child significant in their life! Entry is simple: Just follow the prompts in the Rafflecopter App below. (App may take a few seconds to load).
Entry is open to Australian residents only.
Winner notified by email and given 48 hours to respond.
If no contact is received, a new winner shall be drawn.
Judge's decision is final and no correspondence shall be entered into.
Good luck!

xxx
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Does your child own something personalised?
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Friday, 6 December 2013

How to Decorate a Handbag...


Are you feeling crafty but short on time so close to Christmas? Needing a Christmas gift for someone special (like yourself) or just wanting a matching bag to wear to an end of year party or wedding?
Here's a super easy little project that's lots of fun to source, style and produce. The end result comes up amazing and it's something all women will love. Are you hooked yet?
I have been wanting to decorate my own handbags for a very long time now. I have put it off as I wasn't too sure how to go about it. I have always liked the idea of embellishing bags with fabric decals. There are so many beautiful fabrics to choose from and I don't feel skilled enough to sew from scratch. I am after more of a quick method. Pasting a fabric decal of my choice onto a handbag of my choosing is the way to go!
This project is basically that easy - a cut and glue job. Getting it right is all about choosing the right materials. You can't use just any glue on a handbag as it needs to be a paste that is durable and able to hold for the life of the bag itself. After much research, I have found the right glue for the job.
To make my bag I purchased a handbag on Ebay specifically for this craft. This one pictured is made of vinyl but you could also use a leather one if you wish. It's best to choose a bag with a lot of available surface area - nothing with studs or excessive stitching to try to attach your fabric swatch around.

 
I purchased my fabric from an Ebay store also. You won't need much so purchase a fat quarter (quilting swatch) which should only cost a few dollars including post. This one I chose to work with is by Amy Butler from the Gypsy Caravan range and is called Citrine / Wild Poppy. Make sure you check the measurements of the decals before purchase to ensure the fabric cut-out will fit onto your chosen bag.
You will need good quality sharp fabric scissors and an iron and ironing board (a sleeve board is perfect). You will need to iron out any folds or irregularities in the fabric so that it can be applied with best results. You will also need a paint brush and a plastic bag as a work surface.
Finally, you will need a jar of Mod Podge Fabric glue and sealer. I purchased mine online but you can find it at all good craft stores.
The products in the Mod Podge range are amazing! They are designed especially for the crafter and come in so many varieties for every conceivable craft. The difference between Mod Podge and PVA or varnish is that the formulation is both a glue and sealer in one. It eliminates the need to include many steps as one or two coats of your chosen Mod Podge product will do the lot. Who couldn't love a product that can do all that and boast such a cute name too!

 
To decorate your bag simply cut out your fabric decal and decide how you will place it on your handbag. Take it slowly cutting your fabric for best results and a professional finish.
Iron your chosen fabric image so that it's nice and flat. Place it upside down on your plastic bag work surface and brush a good coat of Mod Podge Fabric on the back of the fabric image - this will be the glue. 
Place the wet fabric decal on your bag as desired making sure you smooth out any lumps or bubbles. Do this even if there appear to be none. When you are happy with the placement, paste another good coating over the fabric image on the bag. Go over the edges a few mm as this will adhere, seal and varnish the image to the bag permanently. While it is still wet, use a wet soapy rag to clean up any Mod Podge smears around the image. The glue is entirely water based and dries clear but you want this part to be done neatly so that it looks professional.
Allow to dry at least 20 minutes before applying another top coat and repeat the cleanup with the soapy water around the image.
Allow to dry.
Voila!
The end result is pretty fab I think you will agree! The image is really well adhered and able to withstand the daily rigours and strains it will encounter. I am already planning several more and eyeing off my older bags with new eyes!
Celeste was pretty impressed with this particular bag's capacity as a teether! Not my intention when I was photographing it but it made for some cute images so here they are!

 
Are you getting crafty this Christmas?
 
xxx

Six Little Hearts Christmas Craft Link-Up
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Link Up your Christmas themed post below.
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Merry Christmas!

(Submissions start December 6, 2013, 1:05 am)
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Six Little Hearts Christmas Craft Link-Up
Follow Six Little Hearts on Facebook.
Leave a comment on this blog post.
Link Up your Christmas themed post below.
Old or new posts welcome just as long as it's Christmas craft!
Visit the posts of others and share some comment love!
Merry Christmas!

(Submissions start December 6, 2013, 1:05 am)
Link tool by inlinkz.com

Six Little Hearts Christmas Craft Link-Up
 
Linking up for FYBF
 
 


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