Yum, yum, finger buns!

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When I was a kid, one of my favourite things to buy from the school canteen (or the “tuckie” as we used to call it) was a sticky, sweet, pink-iced finger bun. Back then, they were about 20 cents, which is a lot of money when you are six!

We have recently discovered one of those old-school, no-frills bakeries, selling all the treats that remind me of my childhood:- meringues, custard tarts, vanilla slices and….fingerbuns! At $1.80 each, the cost adds up when buying 3 at a time, so I thought I would give them a go myself.

I found this recipe in my daughter’s Frankie magazine, and made a couple of changes. They are pretty simple to make. The trickiest part is the kneading, which is both soothing and a workout! I’m glad I got a couple of photos, as they did not last long.

Ingredients

For the dough

150ml whole milk

2 1/3 cups plain flour

2 tbsp caster sugar

3/4 tsp salt

2 1/4 tsp dried yeast

1 tsp bread improver (heaped)

2 tbsp soft butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

For the icing

2 cups icing sugar, sifted

2 tbsp milk

Tiny drop of pink food colouring

Method

Heat the milk in the microwave until lukewarm (about 30 secs)

Stir together flour, caster sugar, salt, yeast and bread improver in a large bowl. Add the warmed milk, butter and egg, and stir to make a soft, sticky dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured bench and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is springy and elastic. Place into a clean, lightly greased large bowl, and cover with a clean tea-towel. Leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. This takes about an hour.

Turn the oven to 200 degrees celcius and line a tray with baking paper.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a long, fat cigar shape. Put the shaped rolls on the prepared tray, leaving about two finger spaces between them. Cover loosely with the clean tea towel and let rise for another 15 minutes, then bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove to a rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, add the milk and food colouring gradually to the icing sugar, until it forms a thick, smooth, glossy paste. Spread a generous amount on each bun. At this point, you can also sprinkle the buns with desiccated coconut or 100s and 1000s. Leave to set. (You may need to stand guard and swat away little fingers, as I did)

Makes 12 finger buns.

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The Christmas Table

Every year, around October, I start to think about how I would like our table to look on Christmas Day. I love thinking about colours, the place cards, the treat that I put on each persons place. I try to create an atmosphere that ensures that each person who sits at our Christmas table feels special and loved, and excited about the day.

In 2010 I went with an icy blue and silver look. I made personalised baubles for everyone, which were very quick and easy to do, but looked gorgeous. I just used a thin brush dipped in pva glue to write the names, and then shook fine blue glitter over the glue.

In 2011, I chose a cheery green, red and white colour scheme. I sewed up felt stockings for everyone, and placed a few fun treats inside, such as wind up toys, lip gloss, and chocolates.


2012 had a natural theme. I created a table runner using hessian bags that I bought from Bunnings, the kids and I scavenged some pine cones from the nearby golf course, and gingerbread angels lay on each persons plate. I really loved this look.

In 2013, my aim was to not buy anything new for the table setting. I limited myself to things I already had around the house and greenery that I found in the garden. I always cover my placements in gift wrap so that they match the table (Thanks Mum for that idea!), and luckily I had lots left over from previous years.

  Last year, I did a kind of Scandinavian/ foresty/ fairytale look. My Ikea hanging star light was once again put to good use, as were the green cuttings from the garden.

    This year, I am thinking of using a lot of glass, gold, copper and creams, and having an antique look to the place settings. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. I always set the table on the 24th, so I have plenty of time to fiddle about with things. 

Even though I love planning and decorating our table for Christmas, I know that the most important thing is that we are all there, family and friends, together on Christmas Day. That’s what makes it special.

My shabby chic wedding – Part 2

Yesterday I started to tell you about my wedding, which took place in 2008. (see post here) Today, I’ll fill you in on a few more of the details, if you’d like to take a look.

These are the little take-home gifts that I put together for our guests. I chanced upon a pile of beautiful Cath Kidston hand creams in Target which were on sale, so I gathered up each and every one of them, as I knew they would be perfect for the ladies. I also picked up a few larger gift packs from the same range to give to people such as my mum and bridesmaid.

For the men, I bought miniature bottles of Johnny Walker whiskey, a nod to Barry’s Scottish heritage.

I loved how pretty they all looked, tucked into the wicker baskets.

My gorgeous Auntie Christine made the wedding cake. I described to her how our wedding was going to look (ie, pretty, floral, pink & green), and showed her a few pictures of cakes that I liked, and she came up with something better than I could have ever imagined.

A couple of days before the wedding, I decided that we needed programs, see below. As I had so much spare time (Ha!), cutting out one hundred and twenty paper butterflies was no problem at all. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the butterflies were attached with tiny metal fasteners, which allowed the wings to ‘flutter’ on the card. They were very pretty, but I must have been slightly deranged to attempt this in the lead up to our at-home wedding.

So there you have it, our wonderful, magical wedding day. It was such a lot of fun getting everything ready and spending hours playing about with ribbons, flowers, and paper lanterns. Barry, in typical man-style, was happy to go along with whatever I planned, and would make the appropriate sounds of approval whenever I showed him something new. I was thrilled with how it all turned out, but at the end of the day, what made it so special and memorable was the love of our family and friends and having them there to share it with us.

My shabby chic wedding.

It’s the beginning of Spring here in Australia; the days are getting warmer, the smell of jasmine floats on the breeze and everyone seems to be gripped by the urge to fling open their windows and let the freshness of spring clear away the stuffiness of winter.
As spring is also the traditional wedding season, I thought it would be a good time to share some pictures of my own wedding, if you’d like to see.
We got married at home, in 2008, with our three children, families and close friends in attendance. It was intimate, personal and relaxed.
Right from the start, I tried to plan a day that was as much fun for as guests as it was for us. I wanted time and space to be able to chat with everyone, just like a big party. And I hoped the wedding would look and feel pretty and home made, like a country fair or garden party.
I wanted lots of flowers everywhere, especially roses. In the months leading up to the wedding, I looked out for cut glass vases at charity shops, markets, and garage sales. These looked gorgeous dotted around the room with the pale pink blooms spilling out. We ended up with so many flowers that we needed to use whatever vessels we could find, so buckets, milk cartons and plastic tubs were quickly covered with wrapping paper, and became part of the decorations!
In order to achieve the abundance of flowers on our rather limited budget, we headed off to the Flower Market. I went with my mum the week before the wedding so we could see what was there, which flowers we liked and to speak to some of the growers about ordering their flowers. The following week, on the day before the wedding, Barry and I headed off in the darkness to gather our blooms. The flower market is such a feast for the senses; the growers yelling out to one another, the scent of thousands of fresh flowers, the cold air of the pre-dawn and the dizzying array of colour. It was well worth having to get up so early and so much cheaper than buying them from a florist.
The ceremony took place in our back garden, which we covered with a marquee. It looked so pretty decorated with the flowers, pink and green chinese lanterns, and the floral bunting which I spent days (and days…and days…) sewing. In hindsight, I would have just cut the shapes out with pinking shears and sewn them to a long strip of fabric. They did, however, look beautiful, and I have reused them to decorate my daughters’ bedroom.
As the weather was so hot, we provided paper fans and parasols for guests to cool themselves with. I picked these up from Chinatown, along with a bowlful of fortune cookies containing love notes for everyone to nibble on as they arrived.
There was also a lolly bar, which was extremely popular with both kids and grown-ups! We had biscuits and truffles, that you can see above, and also musk sticks, milk bottles, jelly beans and many other ‘old school’ treats. I also put together goodie bags for all the children, which contained small toys, colouring books, pencils, and other things to keep them entertained.
Coming up tomorrow, I’ll show you another few of my favourite parts of the day.

A black & white party.

cupcakes

Eight years ago today I became a mum, and my life changed forever. I felt like I was now looking at the world in colour, after a lifetime of watching the black and white version. I was swept away in a sea of maternal love for this vulnerable, gorgeous, tiny creature. She was what I had always wished for, and I couldn’t believe that she was really here!

That eight years has passed in a flash, and now the little person who was passionate about fairies, pink and My Little Ponies, is now requesting ‘black and white’ parties. I was actually  thrilled as I knew it would be an easy theme to go with, and together we came up with lots of ideas.

Charlotte wanted cupcakes instead of a traditional birthday cake, which worked out well as there was no tricky cutting of the cake after blowing out the candles. I bought the cupcake wrappers from a party shop in Bondi Junction and the little flags from Hot Dollar. I used the Donna Hay cupcake mix, which was more expensive than the other cake mixes, but produced such lovely, light cakes. I have made my own in the past, but wanted to make this party as easy as I possibly could.

I put stickers on the black cups so the children could label their own drinks with their names. The black and white straws were from Hot Dollar, which had a whole range of decorations in different colours (including black & white!).

I made a row of bunting using wrapping paper, which was really easy and looked so striking against our white walls. The hanging lanterns were left over Christmas decorations that I bought last year from Typo.

The children all wore black and white, which suited both the boys and the girls, and seemed to be quite an easy outfit to put together (unlike some of the more ‘ambitious’ dress up parties my kids have been invited to over the years).

We set up ‘pizza making’ in the kitchen, using Lebanese bread for the bases. We put out bowls of mushroom, pineapple, capsicum, mozzarella cheese, olives, and shredded ham, along with tomato pasta sauce to spread on the bread.

The kids were so proud of their creations, and after their pizzas were cooked, they couldn’t wait to eat them, with one little girl declaring “This is the best pizza I have ever had in my life!”

‘Pin the tail on the zebra’ was a popular game. I am now an expert on the stripe formations of zebras after studying Google images to see what they looked like. (My first attempt looked like a stripy unicorn)

Happy birthday Charlotte! We love you. xxxxxxx

Remember this feeling?

Do you remember the feeling of getting ready to go to a birthday party when you were a child?

Choosing the dress you were going to wear,

Watching your mum wrap the present, or maybe you did it yourself?

Wondering which of your friends would be there,

Saying to your parents “come on, hurry up, I don’t want to be late!”

Then when you got there, the excitement, the balloons, the squeals of glee!

I love reliving these wonderful memories, as my daughters are now the ones opening sparkly invitations with wide eyes and carefully reading out the time and date of the party.

Sometimes we can get a bit carried away with the ‘theme’ of the party, the stylish decorations, the cake that would make Martha Stewart proud. But really, children are just excited to see their friends, to eat treat food and to have fun. Simple!

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