27 July 2014

How To Make An Easy "Demolition Site" Birthday Cake


Over the years I may have made a bit of a rod for my own back by making fancy cakes for the kids birthdays. Truth be told, I love creating them, but some years I'm just not up for the rigmarole. This year was one of those years!

Over the last few years I had made Toby a dump truck and a front end loader cake. This year he had put in an order for a "bommy knocker" (wrecking ball crane) cake, but I was a bit perplexed about how I would even put it together. Fortunately I managed to convince him that a demolition site would be even more exciting. Toby bought my sales pitch, and so the plan was changed.


To make the cake I just used a regular chocolate cake recipe, and then cooked it in two round cake tins. I stacked the cakes, and iced them with chocolate buttercream frosting.

To get the falling rocks I piled up some chocolate covered popcorn, chopped up raspberry bullets, and chocolate honeycomb over the side. I used some more icing to help it all stick together and then sprinkled milo all over the top to look like dirt. If you are going to make it in advance, don't sprinkle the milo or chop the honeycomb until just before you serve it. They both start to melt fairly quickly.


Once you have the lollies place, add your matchbox diggers, and cranes. I made the flags and bunting using some washi tape, toothpicks, and string.

The cake took maybe 30 minutes to ice and decorate (told you it was quick).


Toby was thrilled with the result, and so was I.



23 July 2014

Anniversary

Three years ago, I wrote this. Starting a blog was a bit of a spur of the moment thing. I began with no thoughts beyond the idea that it would be fun to document the big changes that were about to occur in our lives. There was no SEO (which I have since learnt is Search Engine Optimisation), no social media strategy, no plans for expansion. I wasn't even sure how long I would continue to blog for.

Country Boy, the quieter half of us, was a bit surprised when I announced I was starting a blog. He now reads every post, and is probably surprised that I'm still here. He gives me feed back, takes photos for me when ever I ask, and occasionally even suggests ideas for posts. He also graciously allows me to post photos and stories about him and our lives. One day he might even post a comment... but don't hold your breath. 

Lately I've been thinking about where I want to go with my blogging. I'm no longer really writing about the differences between city and country life. I'm writing about country living, growing, preparing, and cooking our own food, and the rhythm of our life. We are here for good now, so it is becoming less of an experiment and more just the way our life is.


At the same time we are thinking about what the future on our little farm might look like. What do we want to do with this life? How can we live simply and productively on this farm? We talk about foods we might like to produce and things we would like to do. Could this blog fit into that somehow?

I love the challenge of documenting and explaining our lives. I love sharing my thoughts and ideas. I take my camera everywhere with me "just in case". I don't have the answers about our future, and I don't even know if I'm asking the right questions yet. But I'm keeping on blogging, because I enjoy it.

Three years down: many, many more to come!

22 July 2014

Four

Can you believe this chap is four already? I know I can't! It seems but a minute ago that he was born. He is all together lovely, and I can't believe how blessed we are to have him in our family.



21 July 2014

My Favourite Australian Country Living Blogs

I've never really considered what "genre" my blog might belong to. I tend to write about what ever is happening in our lives, and in my head. Recently though, I have kind of been slotted into the "Country Living" genre. I guess it is a natural fit, since I write about our life here in the country.


I do enjoy reading other country living blogs. I get ideas about what we can do here on our farm, and get to peek into the lives of other people who are in a similar situation to me.

Here is a list of some of my must reads:

Coal Valley View
Mel lives in Tasmania with her husband and kids. Her blog is a mixture of beautiful photos, and family stories. I love it.

She Sows Seeds
Emma lives in Victoria, and has just had a precious little one, so she hasn't been blogging as much lately (babies will do that!). Her blog is full of recipes, crafts, and stories of simple country living. She also takes amazing photographs.

Hugo and Elsa
Michelle is an escapee from Sydney, who now lives in Tasmania. She has my dream job (food stylist and home economist), and takes beautiful photos. Lots of recipes and stories of life in a small community.

Local Is Lovely
Sophie writes from Orange, one of my favourite places to visit. I have her recipe book, and her recipe for slow cooked pork is our new regular meal (we must have made it at least half a dozen times already). The thing I love most about her blog is her Friday List: a list of good things around the internet. I often find a new blog or recipe via her.

The Windmill Paddock
Elisha lives in Victoria, and like me, is working towards taking over her husbands family farm. They grow grapes, and make wine. She used to be a teacher but is currently at home wrangling littlies. I always enjoy her posts, and her comments on my facebook page.

Foxs Lane
Kate has beautiful photos of her garden, family and crafting, and I love her approach to life. Slow and simple. It's what we are aiming for here too, so there is always some inspiration. If your after chat about crafting, self sufficiency, gardening, and family life, this is the place to look.

Got any other great "country living" blogs? I'd love to read some more!

18 July 2014

Simple Things

Right now the days are short and cold. By four in the afternoon we are ready to cocoon ourselves in front of the fire with books or games, and escape the icy wind and rain.

It's the time of year to appreciate the simple things like time spent together, a home cooked meal, and a warm fire.








And we do.

16 July 2014

How To Make Your Own Giant Bubbles And Bubble Wand

During the holidays we saw a man making giant bubbles in Hyde Park. My mother asked him what the secret was to his mixture, but he didn't want to give away his trade secrets. He did tell her that a good glycerine mix is a great start.

On the way home, my mum remembered that she had a big lot of bubble mixture that she had made the previous year sitting in a bottle somewhere. The following day she got 2 pieces of dowel, attached some fabric tape in a loop with a metal washer to weigh down the loop.

The kids had a blast.


Giant Bubble Mix
2c detergent (we used a thick concentrate type)
6c water
1/4 c glycerine

Mix together and allow to stand for as long as possible (at least over night) as it gets better with age.

Going Nuts In The Orchard

Last year, our big project over the winter months was to set up an orchard full of fruit trees, nuts, and berries (click here to see what it looked like!). Like all garden related projects around these parts, it wasn't going to be a little orchard either. No, we were going to do it 'country style', which means big.

Almost a year later, and most of the trees are growing well. It will still be a few years before we get a significant harvest, but they are on their way. 

One type of tree that didn't get planted last year was our hazelnuts, so Country Boy ordered some recently, and they arrived last week. Despite the freezing, windy, wet weather, Country Boy, Toby and I went down to the orchard on Saturday to plant them.

In a few weeks we are hoping, with the help of some friends and family, to put a bird net over the entire structure. The orchard is about 22 meters, by 25 meters, so it is going to be a massive job. We picked up a one hundred meter roll of netting while we were in Sydney, and brought it home on the roof rack. 


Looking forward to cooking with those hazelnuts already!
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