Skeleton Gingerbread Men for Halloween

This year, instead of baking Choc-Orange Halloween cupcakes for a sweet Halloween treat, my daughter and I made Skeleton Gingerbread men.  The idea came from the internet but we used a recipe that I already had on file for iced gingerbread men.

I baked the 'men' and my daughter decorated them.  This recipe makes about 15 gingerbread people and I doubled it, so there are plenty left for the lunchboxes this week.

Gingerbread Men

125g (4 oz) butter
1/3 C brown sugar
1/3 C golden syrup or, if not available, light treacle
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 C plain flour
1/3 C self-raising flour
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking (bicarb.) soda

1 egg white
1/2 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar
1 C sifted icing (confectioner's) sugar

Preheat oven to moderate (180C/350F).  Grease two or three baking trays.  Beat butter, sugar and syrup until light and creamy.  Add egg and mix in well.  Sift dry ingredients and stir into the butter mixture until just combined.  Use a well-floured hand to combine the dough, then tip onto a floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes until smooth.  Roll out the dough to 1/4"/5 mm thickness on a floured surface and cut into people (or other) shapes.  Using an egg slide, lift the shapes onto the greased baking trays.  Press the remaining dough into a ball and re-roll then cut out again, until all the dough is used up.  Bake for 10 minutes until lightly browned then cool on trays before icing.

To make the icing, beat egg white with an electric mixer until foamy, Add lemon juice then gradually add the sugar, beating until thick and creamy.  Pipe in a skeleton design on the gingerbread men - I used the smallest round nozzle that I have.  Allow time for the icing to harden before serving.

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Using a Sitting Room as a Guest Room

This week I am joining in Show Us Your Life Friday again on Kelly's Korner blog.  The theme this week is guest rooms, and like most people with four kids, I expect, we don't have a dedicated guest room. 

Our plan is to use our formal sitting room as a guest room.  When we (finally) buy a couch for this room it will be a sofa bed for visitors.  At other times this room will be a quiet retreat for reading and thinking and playing musical instruments.

When the children have friends to stay they sleep in the kids' bedrooms, so we only need a guest room for adult guests.

At present we use my grandmother's old folding bed for overnight visitors.  This is what it looks like all set up and ready to go.

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Yellow Roses

 The yellow roses are in full bloom and they are absolutely beautiful.

I can't decide whether to bring any into the house or whether I should simply enjoy their sunny loveliness outdoors.

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My birthday dessert table

Esta é a mesa de sobremesas que fiz para os meus anos. Depois do meu carro ter avariado, quase desistir do sítio onde fiz a festa, ter perdido a máquina fotográfica no meio de tantos caixotes, dos enfeites do tecto cairem ao fim de alguns minutos e da toalha ficar manchada de ferrugem assim que a comecei a passar a ferro, este foi o resultado final. :-) Ou melhor, provisório, pois a mesa ainda não estava completa - faltavam  ainda alguns doces, que só consegui ir buscar mais tarde! À noite os pés doíam-me de ter estado tanto tempo em pé a preparar a decoração do espaço, mas valeu a pena. 

Sempre adorei as cores verde e lilás - lilás é uma cor presente na decoração de minha casa já há muitos anos. É uma cor que, para mim, representa as tonalidades das uvas, do Outono, da época do meu aniversário. E gosto da conjugação do verde com as variantes de roxo, daí ter optado por essa cor nas flores que escolhi - as hidranjas, uma das minhas preferidas. E, como é a mesa do meu aniversário, quis dar-lhe um toque pessoal, adicionando algumas peças decoração de que mais gosto e que fazem parte da minha pequena colecção de milk glass.
Aos meus irmãos e marido agradeço, do fundo do coração, toda a ajuda que me deram. Aos meus queridos amigos, agradeço a presença e alegria. Sem vós, nada disto faria teria sido possível ou faria sentido.

À Francisca, que fez os deliciosos bolos e cupcakes, o meu obrigada por saber reproduzir e interpretar tão bem as minhas ideias.

 Esta foi a minha imaginação. Espero que gostem!



 Painel de parede / Board: PosDesign
Mesa e toalha / Table and tablecloth: GPL
Bolos / Cakes: Cupcake
Fotos / Photos: Jorge Garcia Pereira

This is the dessert table that I did for my birthday. My car broke down, I lost my camera in the middle of the boxes, the ceiling decorations started falling apart a few minutes after I hanged  them and the iron stained the tablecloth - so this is the final result! :-) Not the final one, actually, as by the time the photos were taken, some sweets were still on their way to the venue. In the evening, my feet were killing me, as I spent almost 10 hours having the whole place decorated - unfortunately, I don't have pictures of the other decoration details.

I have always loved green and lilac - lilac is a color that is part of my home decor for many years now. I wanted to give the table a little touch of Autumn, the season of my birthday. Otherwise, it would be a flowery Spring table, so that was the reason why I chose my favorite flowers - hydrangeas - in lilac and purple. And because this was my birthday table, I decided to give it another personal touch by adding some of the vintage milk glass vases that belong to my small collection. 

I have to thank my sister and brother as well as my husband for all their help. I also thank Francisca, who did the cakes and cupcakes, for interpreting and turning my ideas into reality. My friends, who had the time to be there with me, thank you so much.

Well, this is my imagination. I hope you like it!

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Chocolate cupcakes

Peggy Porschen inspired - os maravilhosos cupcakes de chocolate que a Francisca da Cupcake fez para o meu aniversário.

Peggy Porschen inspired - the wonderful chocolate cupcakes that Francisca from Cupcake did for my birthday.

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Byessar: Moroccan Broad Bean Dip

 A glut of broad beans in the spring garden is a wonderful thing until you need to plant out the tomatoes and realise that there isn't any space left. 

One solution to the problem of what to do with all those beans is Moroccan broad bean dip.  I use the version found in Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion [2004 Ed.] but a similar recipe can be found here.

A delicious and healthy snack.  Even my team of bean podders like it served with warm pita bread.

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Sweet lilac

Hoje faço 40 anos. Completo 40 primaveras, ou 40 outonos, no caso. Decidi fazer uma mesa de doces em tons de verde e lilás, duas das minhas cores favoritas desde sempre... Também quis acrescentar alguns detalhes vintage, pois eu própria já começo a ser uma antiguidade! :-)

Ainda não tenho as fotos que foram tiradas à luz do dia, até porque perdi a minha máquina fotográfica e muitos pormenores de decoração ficaram por retratar. Por isso, deixo aqui ficar algumas imagens da mesa, que espero que gostem.

Today is my 40th birthday. I decided to make my birthday party in lilac and green tones, two of my favorite colors. I also decided to add some vintage details as I myself am becoming a vintage item! :-)

I still don't have the photos that were taken in the day light, as I lost my camera and some other decoration details weren't portraied. So I leave you with these two photos, while I wait for brighter and better ones to publish here. Hope you like them.

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Sorting Through the Mess

Having spent most of today sorting through some boxes of photos and stamp collections, craft supplies, kids' shoes and dress-up costumes that have been in our garage since we moved here in March...

...I have concluded that I already own everything I am ever likely to need, apart from food and some clothes, for the rest of my life.

Perhaps I should take these pictures with me the next time I feel like shopping for more stuff.
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Organising a Shared Kids' Bedroom

Organising a bedroom shared by two or more children can be a real challenge.  This is especially the case when the bedroom is not a large one.  In this post I will show some of the ways we manage a bedroom shared by two of our sons, aged 12 and 7.

The boys have always shared a bedroom.  In the past they had bunk beds but when we moved into this house in March we decided to take the bunks apart and give them single beds.  This has resulted in less floor space but I think a more pleasant living environment for the boys. 

I think the trick to managing a shared space is to allow separate places for the children's special treasures whilst minimising the amount of clutter in the room.  For example, I keep a large suitcase in the garage full of off-season boys clothes so their cupboards and drawers only need to hold gear they are currently using.  

Having furniture with a dual purpose is also very useful.  For instance, the blue and white chest of drawers holds clothes but also doubles as a bedside table for both boys.

Another thing to remember is that while we can decorate a baby's room to our heart's content, older children will want some say in how their rooms look and what items they want on display, and that may not be to our own taste.  That is one of the (many) reasons why you never see a teenage boy's room featured in a magazine!

Although not shown, there is a large built-in wardrobe in the room that holds many of the boys' clothes and toys.

You will observe that I don't store anything under the beds.  There is too much temptation for young boys to hide lolly wrappers and dirty clothes under their beds without adding to the mess!

This original artwork of a crocodile attacking a koala was done by the 12 year old when he was in year 4 and is the only artwork in the room at present.

I bought this small Edwardian desk in a local antique shop and it is perfect for this small space.  The drawers provide extra storage and the lid pulls down to form the desk.

 This post is part of Show Us Your Life Friday at Kelly's Korner Blog.

Thank you for visiting.  I hope you have a lovely weekend!

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Backyard Harvest: Broccoli

Homegrown broccoli is entirely different from the broccoli found in the supermarket.  It is about a million times nicer. I never really liked broccoli until I grew it for the first time.

 And the thing about homegrown broccoli, is that you don't want to do too much to it.  Why spend a couple of months growing something from seed or a tiny seedling only to try to disguise in a thick sauce?

We have been enjoying (my sons would say 'enduring') our broccoli very simply stir-fried or steamed.

The next step is to try to get my kids to eat broccoli raw as a crudite.  Which is about as likely as me growing wings and flying to the moon.

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Growing a Garden From Cuttings

Outside my grandmother's back door there was always a row of pots with odd-looking twigs, some with a leaf here and there, sticking out of them.

This was how Gran grew many of her new plants; by taking cuttings, poking them in soil, and waiting for them to grow.  I expect ladies of that era often swapped cuttings with each other, thus filling their gardens with flowers at very little, or no, expense.

This spring I am trying to grow cuttings of roses, daisies, geraniums, lavender and wormwood.  I am getting quite ruthless at asking friends if I may take a snippet of some of their plants - or snapping off bits that poke over people's fences and popping them in my handbag as I walk past.  Shh! Don't tell anyone!

Once I have a cutting I trim it to just below a join in the stem because the join is where the roots will form.  Unlike Gran, I usually dip my cuttings in rooting hormone and I use commercial potting mix in my pots. Sometimes I plant a cutting out straight where I want it to grow - this works best with things like geraniums and daisies that will grow anywhere and don't need too much watering.

It is important to keep the soil moist until the cutting takes root.  You will know the cutting has taken root because new leaves will start to grow.

  If you have never grown plants from cuttings why not give it a try?  It is a very thrifty way to garden.

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Pale Pink, Rose-Scented, Home-made Liquid Soap

This weekend I made a batch of Leanne's liquid soap (recipe here).  Instead of Lux Flakes, I grated a bar of pink, rose-scented soap.

Pale pink and smelling delicately of roses, the result is almost too pretty to use.

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We're almost there!...

Este fim-de-semana vou começar a montar a mesa de doces dos meus anos em minha casa, para depois a poder fazer no dia o mais rapidamente possível. Ainda faltam bastantes coisas, por isso preciso mesmo de ver como ficam as peças em cima da mesa, para não ter de perder muito tempo à última da hora.

Deixo-vos ficar as fotos de algumas das jarras em milk glass que vou utilizar, com o brinco como adereço. Gostam da ideia?

This weekend I'll be setting my birthday table at home, so that everythings works out and I don't have any drawbacks at the end.

These are a few of my milk glass vases that I'll be using at the table, with the earring as an acessory. Do you like it this way?

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Not a Real Home Office Tour

Although this is the week for home office tours on Show Us Your Life Friday at Kelly's Korner blog, I feel I am participating under false pretenses today.  You see, we don't have a dedicated home office at our red house.  Like many people with several children (we have four), we found that bedroom space was more necessary than a whole room for an office.  Maybe one day!

The kids have desks in their rooms for doing their homework, and apart from that we use our dining room table and a small desk in our family room for computer work.  I like to have computers in public areas rather than bedrooms so that I can supervise what people (read: my children) are using them for.

Today I will feature our dining room (already written about here) and the family room study corner.

I try to keep the office area in our dining room fairly minimal and well-organised.  Apart from the computer I have stacked in-and-out trays, a pen holder and two boxes, one for bills and one for taxes.  My favourite thing is the round mousepad with birds and flowers on it.

Not having much on the table means that it can be cleared away super fast if we need it for other purposes, like say, eating.

In the pictures below you can see the computer corner in the family room.  This is one corner of a large single room that is kitchen, breakfast room (except we eat all family meals there) and family room.  You can see other pictures here and here

The desk is an old roll top desk from which we removed the top.  I like to keep a couple of cute notebooks by the computer for writing lists, making notes and recording ideas.

 Thank you for visiting this week.  I hope you have a lovely weekend.

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Flowers in My October Garden (and my first attempt at mosaic making)

The cupid who lives in our front garden is, like all cupids, in love with spring.  He adores anything that makes the birds and the bees happy, and in spring the birds and the bees are very happy because of all the flowers.  So here is our cupid's tour of the flowers in our Adelaide garden this October.

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