Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tessuti Gridlock Competition

One thing I really wanted to do this year with my blogging is get more involved in the blogging community.  This included not only commenting more and getting involved with the community on twitter but also taking part in more sewalongs and competitions.  So far this year I have taken part in the Sew For Victory sew-along and undertaken a sewing dare.  I also decided to give the Tessuti Gridlock Competition a go.

tessuti gridlock competition dress vintage vogue 8812 tessuti gridlock competition dress vintage vogue 8812

As soon as I saw this fabric I thought it would make an awesome summer dress.  I had a peek through my stash and decided on Vintage Vogue 8812.  In hindsight, this probably wasn't the best project for the fabric as it is quite thick so the gathers look quite bulky.  But once I had made my decision I couldn't envisage it being anything else.  I thought the contrast of the white bolero would look nice for summer and whipped it up in some cotton drill from my stash.

tessuti gridlock competition dress vintage vogue 8812 tessuti gridlock competition dress vintage vogue 8812

This competition was a great learning curve for me.  I had a lot of fun taking part and I think now that I have done it once I will be more likely to take part in other online competitions in the future.  What I would change next time though is to use a pattern I had worked with before.  This way I would be able to focus on getting the details of the garment perfect rather than trying to figure out a new pattern.  I would also try not to get too set on an idea until I had a chance to see the fabric in real life.  Above all though I think you just need to remember to have fun with it.  Because at the end of the day if you don't win at least you have a brand new outfit and you had fun making it too!  I am having a lot of fun this year with my sewing and I can't wait to take part in more sewalongs and competitions.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

52 Weeks Happy (12/52)

It seems we have had quite a big week this past week with lots of photos to share in today's 52 Weeks Happy post.

I rewarded myself last week for getting back to below my pre baby weight by buying myself some Freddie's of Pinewood jeans and dungarees.  They arrived last week and I am so stoked!  They are so comfy and super cute.  I will share proper pics eventually.

Of course it wouldn't be a 52 weeks happy post without some baking.  This week this white chocolate mudcake and this colourful buttercream were turned into a pinata cake for a mexican themed birthday party.

The blog world is making me extrmely happy this week.  Firstly a great tip on Frocks & Frou Frou's blog helped me finally do successful maiden braids.  Then I received these patterns that the lovely Sew Busy Lizzy picked up for me in the last BMV sale.  Then I was lucky enough to win a giveaway from Cirque Du Bebe for this gorgeous fabric.  I need to organise a giveaway to give back for all the loveliness I have been receiving lately.  Stay tuned for that hopefully soon!

Now what makes me the happiest is being creative!  This week I have finished my green cardigan, made some super impressive bound buttonholes on my Tessuti competition dress and made some healthy "brownies" in my adventure to cut down on my sugar intake.

Lastly, we had an epicly awesome road trip this past weekend!  We headed out west to visit my aunty on her farm.  Along the way we stopped in Toowoomba and saw our friend on the front page of the paper.  Imogen loved being out in the country as evidenced by her massive smile!  The main reason e headed out there was for the races but I also found time to enjoy some knitting under a big gumtree.  It was an awesome weekend and I can't wait to go back out there.

So what has been happening in your world lately to make you happy?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pinata Cake

Last week I baked a cake for a friend of a friend of mine's mexican birthday party.  The initial text I got requested a mexican birthday cake and said "i'm thinking donkey pinata chilli moustache cactus!"  We settled on pinata after seeing these cookies.

Pinata Cake

I used my white chocolate mudcake recipe as it makes a nice dense cake that works really well for carving and shaping.  First I did a thin crumb coat with vanilla buttercream before piping my colours on in vanilla buttercream with a star tip.

Pinata Cake

I am really happy with how this cake turned out and both my friend and the birthday boy loved it!  And for anyone wanting a good white chocolate mudcake recipe I have shared my go to recipe before here.  Be warned though that this is a very sweet cake so best for those with a sweet tooth.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Finally A Finished Cardigan!!!

If you can't tell by the title of my post I am pretty excited that this cardigan is finally finished!  You see I love to knit but all I seem to knit are hats, scarves, toys and household stuff.  The two times I have attempted to make things for myself to wear I have finished them but they have been far from perfect.  Therefore, I never wore them and they ended up getting frogged or being given away.

Green With Envy Cardigan

I was determined to make myself something I would actually wear.  I did a bit of searching online and finally settled on a simple pattern to start with.  I bought my yarn and then I let it sit in my sewing room for about 6 months.  You know just for fun!  I finally bit the bullet and jumped into this project at the end of January and finally it is finished.

Green With Envy Cardigan

Pattern: Shapely Boyfriend Cardigan by Knitty
Yarn: Moda Vera Snuggle
Needles: 5.5mm & 6.5mm circulars (I had to size up to get guage)
Start/End Date: 30th Jan 2013 - 18th March 2013

Green With Envy Cardigan

I am so happy with how this has turned out and I think I will definitely wear it.  It is so comfortable and warm.  The perfect cardigan for winter!  This cardigan has given me the confidence that I can actually make things for myself to wear.  I have already cast on my next project!  I think the reason I went wrong so many times before was I didn't do a gauge swatch.  For larger projects gauge swatches are so important so I will definitely be making sure I do them from now on.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Banoffee Pie

Banoffee Pie

Last Thursday was Pi Day and I decided that this year I was going to celebrate it.  Every other year I see things in the internet after Pi Day has passed and I miss my chance but this year I was prepared.  I had my parents, my sister & her fiance over for dinner and I made chicken pot pie and for dessert chocolate banoffee.  This is my first time ever eating banoffee pie and even though I am not a major banana fan I really liked it.  My mum is allergic to bananas so I made her a mini pie with just the caramel, cream and chocolate on a biscuit base.  She said it was delicious! So even if you don't like bananas or are allergic you can still make this recipe.  Just leave out the bananas!

Banoffee Pie

Chocolate Banoffee Pie by Taste

250g McVitie's Digestive Biscuits
125g butter, melted
300ml thickened cream
30g bar Cadbury Flake, crumbled
46g bar Cadbury Picnic, chopped
53g bar Cadbury Snickers, chopped
380g tin caramel top n' fill (or you can make your own dulce de leche like I did using this recipe)
3 bananas, sliced

Process the biscuits in a food processer until fine crumbs form.  Add butter and process until well combined.  Press mixture evenly over the base of a 23cm fluted tart pan with a loose base.  Place in the fridge for an hour to chill.

Transfer your biscuit base to a serving dish.  Beat cream until soft peaks form.  Combine flake, snickers and picnic in a bowl.

Spread caramel over the biscuit base, arrange banana in a single layer over caramel and top with whipped cream.  Sprinkle chocolate mixture over the top.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

52 Weeks Happy (11/52)

I am really needing a little bit of happy today so looking back on the photos from the past week has been doing me some good.  You know how you have those days where everything feels shit?! I am having one of those today.  But enough of the complaining and onto the happy....

I think my formula for happy is becoming really obvious each week.  It involves lots of baking, sewing and family with a few other things thrown in.

1 - Going to mummy's group is one of my favourite days of the week.  I love watching Imogen interact with the other babies especially now that they are all getting their personalities.  And having a group of mum's to vent to and to help you realise you are not going crazy is a great help to a first time mum.

2 - I did a bit more baking this week.  I love baking and baking while wearing a pretty apron is even better!  This week I made banoffee pie to celebrate Pi Day (post to come tomorrow) and my sisters engagement party cake.  Both were delicious and I am so happy with how they turned out.

3 - I started sewing my Tessuti Competition dress this week.  I really need to get a wriggle on with it.  I am thinking I will dedicate tomorrow to working on it.

4 - This new vintage dress is the happiest thing in my wardrobe.  The yellow floral just screams summer and sunshine to me and the button back is to die for!

5 - I finally cast off my green cardigan! It is currently blocking and hopefully will be ready for photos tomorrow.  I have been plugging away on this cardigan for a few months but I was determined to make it my first successful garment for myself.  I usually only make myself hats and scarves so this is making me very happy.  I already have plans for my next knitted garment!

6 - Happy flowers!  Yellow flowers just scream happiness to me.  If I am every in a downer just bring me some yellow flowers and I will perk back up again.  They are so pretty and cheery!

So what has been making you happy this week?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hayley's Engagement Party

Friday night we celebrated my gorgeous sisters engagement party and it was so much fun!  I was also lucky enough to be able to decorate the venue for them and make the cake.  We used all my Petticoats & Peplums stock and the venue came up looking amazing.  I was especially happy with the snack bar that we put together.  There was finger food on the night but we wanted to do something else for later on when everyone starting hitting the drinks.  Above the snack bar we strung some bunting as well as a string of twine holding photos of Hayley & Keiran's travels.  The cake was based of their invitation and was a tree stump with their initials "carved" into the top.  I was so stressed out the day I was making it and I hated it but after a good nights sleep and another look I was pretty happy with how it turned out.  All in all I was really happy with how the event turned out.  I can't wait to do another one!

Saturday, March 16, 2013


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Friday, March 15, 2013

Sew For Victory Outfit

I am so excited to finally be able to share my Sew For Victory outfit with you all.  I finished this outfit at the start of last week but every time Corey was home to take pictures for me the rain would come back.  But finally here we are.

1940s pinafore skirt blouse 1940s pinafore skirt blouse

When this sew-a-long first popped up I jumped straight on the bandwagon.  I am trying participate in a bit more around the blogosphere this year and I thought this was the perfect place to start.  I already had a 1940's reproduction pattern (simplicity 3688) in my stash that I knew I could use and after seeing Tasha's pinafore skirt I knew exactly what I wanted to make.  I did a little google search for some inspiration and came across this pinafore skirt by NudeeDudee which I used as my starting point.  Instead of a pastel I decided to go with a forest green cavalier garbadine that I picked up from Spotlight.  The straps are not actually functional.  The buttons are just sewn on top for decoration.

1940s pinafore skirt blouse 1940s pinafore skirt blouse

Originally I was just going to take photos of this skirt with a blouse I have in my wardrobe.  However, it isn't 1940's at all and I thought to myself if I was going to join in a sew-a-long I needed to do it properly.  So I went on a search for a blouse pattern to make and came across this wrap blouse by Mrs Depew's Vintage.  I didn't want to buy anymore fabric so grabbed this cream & yellow spotted seersucker from my stash.  The only alteration I made to this pattern was to make a pleat in the sleeves instead of gathering them.

1940s pinafore skirt blouse 1940s pinafore skirt blouse

And this is how the blouse looks without the skirt.  It is a wrap blouse so for the skirt I just pinned the wrap pieces across to the sides.  I really like this blouse, however, if I was to make it again I think I would need to try and lower the v seam in the front so it actually sits below my bust.  I am so glad I decided to take part in this sew-a-long.  It was so much fun!  I have another sew-a-long planned for this year and hopefully I will get to take part in many more.  A massive thank you to Rochelle for organising this sew-a-long.  I have had a lot of fun!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

5 Months

So another month has passed and my little monkey just keeps on growing.  Just this morning she managed to move off her blanket to the kitchen.  She did a crazy backwards worm type move.  It was adorable but it means she's growing up which I don't like.  I want to shrink her back to baby sized and keep her like that forever!  Since my last update Imogen has gotten so much better at her swimming lessons.  She even likes to float now!  She has made such amazing progress in the past few weeks.  I am so proud of her.  There are still no teeth popping through so Sophie the Giraffe is still getting a work out.  We have, however, started solids.  We started at 4.5 months and she has been doing so well.  So far she has tried rice cereal, apple, pear, pumpkin, zucchini, sweet potato and carrots.  The only thing she didn't like was the first lot of apples but they were green.  I tried her on red gala apples this past week and she loved them.  I think maybe the green ones were too tart for her.  This week we are going to try beans for the first time so that should be interesting.  I am so proud of my little girl and how she is progressing.  She is doing so good with solids and swimming lessons but god I wish I could slow down these months.  It seems like they are disappearing before my eyes...

Cake Decorating Tips

Every time I post a cake that I have made I get questions in regards to how I have learned to use fondant.  I thought it would be a good idea to share my top 5 tips for anyone who might be wanting to learn how to use fondant but doesn't know where to start.

Brittany's Birthday Cake
Brittany's cow print birthday cake - my most recent cake decorating venture.

1 - Read, Read, Read!!!

Before I started using fondant at all I bought myself the Planet Cake book and I read it from cover to cover, twice.  I had never used fondant before so I wanted to make sure I knew exactly what I was getting myself into before I started.  There are a million cake decorating books out there so don't think I am trying to get you to buy this one.  It just happened to be the one I found when I was wanting to learn.  I do like it's format because it breaks down all the steps of cake decorating and goes into all of them in detail.  I am the sort of person who finds the more information the better so reading up before starting really helped me to get an idea of what I was about to do.

House Warming Cupcakes
Housewarming Cupcakes - cupcakes are a great place to start before attempting to decorate a full sized cake.

2 - Start Small

The very first thing I did with fondant was cupcakes.  Cupcakes are the easiest place to start as they are small so you don't need to work with as large amounts of fondant at a time.  To cover cupcakes you simply need a round cookie cutter the same size as your cupcakes.  This allows you to cut rounds of fondant which will fit your cupcakes perfectly.  Then you are able to decorate on top of these rounds.  For my first cupcakes I simply cut fondant with heart shaped cutters and layered on top.  The image above shows some cupcakes I made for a housewarming with some fondant, round cutters, scalloped cutters and alphabet stamps.  This is a very basic design but still effective and a good place to start.

Pacman Cake
Corey's birthday cake from last year.  My first time covering a square cake which I still need some practice at.

3 - Take Your Time

The biggest thing I learnt from the Planet Cake book is that cake decorating takes time.  You need to ensure you allow yourself this time.  If you try to rush from baking to decorating your cake won't have cooled enough and things will go awry.  This was also reiterated in my cake decorating class.  For fondant decorated cakes I always allow 3 days.  I bake the cake and make ganache on the first day.  On the second day I will level, layer and ganache my cakes.  Once the cake is ganached I will let it sit in the fridge overnight and on the last day I will decorate.  If I am doing a non fondant decorated cake I allow 2 days.  The first day for baking and the second day for decorating.  This ensures that the cake is completely cooled before you do any decorating.

Cake Decorating Class Cake
The cake I made for in my decorating class.  This was my first time stenciling and using sugar paste.

4 - Expand Your Knowledge

Once you have done a couple of cakes yourself it is time to expand your knowledge further.  For me this involved taking a cake decorating class which is something I would highly recommend.  I found that talking to a professional and having the opportunity to get assistance during the decorating process really helped me to learn more about what I was doing wrong.  Since doing my class I am a lot more confident with my cake decorating.  I came away with so many notes from the class and a lot of them were such simple things that made you think "why didn't I think of that!"  That is were the real value of doing a class comes in.  The little tricks and tips you learn from a real person that you just can't read in a book.

Simple Fondant Project
This is another super easy simple design with fondant used for the cheese and sesame seeds on the burger.

5 - Don't Be Scared To Try Something New

The biggest part of cake decorating which I am just pushing myself to do now is to try something new. Don't be afraid to try a more intricate design or to do something new (like modelling or make sugarpaste flowers).  There is always something different to try and you should never be afraid to give it a go.  I made some basic flowers in my cake class and next I would like to try making some bigger individual flowers with sugarpaste.  I am thinking a simple round tiered cake with one large flower would look amazing.  All I need to do is find an occasion to make it for.

tailah's cake

Now quickly before I go a couple of people asked me about how I covered Tailah's birthday cake in sprinkles.  Now there is a tutorial here on how you can roll the cake in sprinkles but given that I had spent 2 days on this cake already I was not prepared to risk ruining it by picking it up and laying it on it's side.  What I did was to put my cake into a large container (this is to catch the sprinkles).  I then tilted the cake to the side (I had "glued" it to the cake board with icing so I knew it wasn't going to fall off) and sprinkled the sprinkles on the side.  You have to do it slowly so that the sprinkles actually catch to the icing.  I then (with very clean hands) grabbed handfuls of sprinkles and patted them onto the spots that were a little bare.  It's not the fastest method but it saved me the anxiety of thinking I might ruin the entire cake.

So there you have it, my top tips for anyone wanting to try out fondant.  Now remember I am not a professional by any means.  I am mostly self taught (with one class) and have gotten most of my knowledge from books and the internet.  So if I can jump into this and just give it a go then you can too.  If you decided to try out fondant let me know so I can check out what you have made.  Happy decorating!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lemon Print Gathered Skirt

Lemon Print Skirt

The problem with working on multiple projects at once like I do is that sometimes you can get overwhelmed by all the WIP's and no FO's.  Last week I was getting a bit annoyed with all the WIP's so I decided to make a quick skirt to satisfy my FO urge.

Lemon Print Skirt

Gathered skirts are the quickest easiest thing to make and they are so easy to wear as well.  I could never have too many gathered skirts in my wardrobe I don't think.  There are a million tutorials on the internet if you want to make your own.  They are basically one rectangle for the waistband and one rectangle for the skirt.  The large rectangle I made 2 times my waist measurement because I wanted lots of gathering.  You could easily make this fuller or smaller just by altering this measurement.

Lemon Print Skirt

As you can tell these photos were taken on a rare sunny day on the GC.  I am hoping for another sunny afternoon this week as I have since finished some other projects and I am hoping to get Corey to take pics for me when he gets home from work.  Fingers crossed it can happen soon.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

52 Weeks Happy (10/52)

There are a few main things making me happy this week -

1 - Baking! I love to bake and I am always happy being in the kitchen.  This week I made healthy banana muffins and baked a chocolate cake which I turned into a cow print cake for my niece's birthday.

2 - Sewing! I am loving getting bake into sewing this year.  Last year was a bit of a bust on the sewing front due to my pregnancy.  This year I have really gotten back into it and I am so glad that I have.  It's so satisfying seeing completed projects that I have made myself.  This week I finished a lemon print skirt (post to come), my tessuti competition fabric arrived and I finished my Sew for Victory project.  Hopefully the weather is good this week so I can get some pictures to share.

3 - Family! Watching these two together brings me so much pleasure.  They are so cute to watch together.  Imogen is a massive daddy's girl and Corey is so sweet with her.  He is an amazing father!  The start of the NRL season gave me an opportunity to get Imogen into her roosters jersey that my aunty bought her.  I had to send this pic to my aunties and uncles as they are massive roosters fans.  My cousin's gorgeous girlfriend gave birth to the most perfect little boy last week.  They named him Max Joseph Smith and he is adorable.  I can't wait to watch him and Imogen grow up together.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cow Print Birthday Cake

Brittany's Birthday Cake

Today is my niece's 16th birthday and her mum asked me to make her a birthday cake.  They live 1 hour west of the Gold Coast and she works at a dairy.  When she leaves school she wants to move to inland Australia and become a jillaroo.  She has even bought a few calves off her boss that she is rearing and going to sell when they are older.  So when her mum suggested a cow print cake it seemed like the perfect idea.

Brittany's Birthday Cake

I made a basic chocolate mudcake for the base and covered it in chocolate ganache and fondant.  I used white fondant for the base and then cut cow splotches out of black.  Corey already thinks I am a funny little city girl but he thought I was even funnier when I asked him what shape the splotches on cows are!  The rope is also made out of fondant.  I thought I would just buy brown fondant but this is actually chocolate fondant.  Like it actually tastes like chocolate! I didn't even know that existed.

Brittany's Birthday Cake

I am really happy with the cover on this cake.  It is the best cover I have ever managed to get and I think that is definitely thanks to the cake class I did.  I really learnt a lot in that one day class and it has made me a lot more confident when working with fondant.  I would highly recommend anyone wanting to learn more about cake decorating does a class at a local cake shop.  I came away with so much new knowledge.  I am so happy Corey bought me the class for Christmas!