Monthly Archives: March 2014

Amazing Hot Cross Buns

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I LOVE Hot Cross Buns.  Unlike others who groan at their appearance in the supermarket on Boxing Day, I am excited.

In the past I have had a few attempts at making my own, but I have never been able to master the texture.  They have either been too dense or too dry.

Last week though I made the best Hot Cross Bun I have EVER eaten! They were light, soft and perfectly spiced. Full of fruit and delightful with some butter.

After hearing it’s amazing reviews, I used the recipe from the Thermomix Everyday Cookbook. Making them in the Thermomix made the task so simple – all the more reason to bake them all the time. If you don’t have a Thermomix there is no reason why you can’t make these in a stand mixer or with good ol’ elbow grease. You can find a version of this recipe here.

Homemade Hot Cross Buns

To make these little baked goods healthier for my family, I used spelt flour and stevia to sweeten.  Quirky Cooking also makes some healthy substitutions to this recipe which you can see here.

Seriously, if you like Hot Cross Buns, go make this recipe – NOW. You will not be disappointed!

Cheat’s Sour Dough

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A few weeks ago I tried to create my own sour dough starter.  Things seemed to be progressing well then something went wrong. My starter started to stink and failed to rise, although it bubbled nicely. I decided to toss it – a tough decision as I had invested a fair bit of time into it.

Sourdough Starter

After trying to research what went wrong, I realised that even the ‘experts’ give contradictory advice. So I have decided that for the moment, sourdough is a little too ‘high maintenance’ for me.

However, I have wanted to get into creating my own bread to enjoy on the weekends, in particular spelt loaves with little added yeast.

The first loaf I made was Alyce Alexandra’s Cheat’s Sour Dough. This loaf looks and tastes like a sour dough but instead uses just 1/4 teaspoon of yeast to do the rising.

It was really simple to make using the trusty Thermomix.  I followed Alyce’s instructional video which I found on You Tube.  If you don’t have a Thermomix you could certainly whip this loaf up in your food processor.

The dough proved overnight and although wet and sticky, took very little effort to shape. It needed to be baked for 30 minutes, perfect for breakfast.

Cheat's Sourdough

Cheat's Sourdough

And this is what my baby looked like…..

Cheat's Sourdough

Instead of using baker’s flour, I used spelt flour. This messed with the texture a little. Next time I will try of combination of both these flours. I also stuffed up the oven temperature but this was the Little Loaf that Could. The bread had a great crust and sour taste.  While it tasted lovely freshly baked, I enjoyed it most toasted.

I had my slices with smashed avocado and the sweetest heirloom tomatoes. My boys had it hot out of the oven with butter and honey. Delicious! So delicious I didn’t even have time to photograph a slice before the family devoured it all.

But don’t worry, I am going to make it again tonight, ready to bake first thing Saturday. I will stand guard with a camera and a wooden spoon(to rap thieving fingers) to ensure a picture of the first slice.

Have a great weekend.

 

DIY Fridge Mats

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I hate cleaning the fridge. Who doesn’t? With two little boys who like to poke around the refrigerator contents, spills and subsequent cleaning are frequent. Sick of the mammoth task of removing all the food, lugging and washing the massive glass shelves, I decided to have a go at creating my own fridge mats.

I found heaps of inspiration in cyberspace for DIY refrigerator liners. I settled on using thick  plastic placemats for mine.

I wanted a nice bright print and picked up these green chevron placemats and coasters at the Reject shop for $4 a set. DIY Fridge Mats

As my refrigerator shelves are so wide, I needed 3 packs of placemats to do the job. I carefully measured and cut the placemats to suit my first shelf and used these as a template to complete the fridge. It really wasn’t that big of a task. It was a little fiddly to get the initial measurements right, then it was smooth sailing.  DIY Fridge Mats

I just love how clean, bright and fun the inside of my refrigerator looks now! Unfortunately, the pictures do not do the project justice. We are having horrible weather here and there is no light to photograph in.

DIY Fridge Mats

DIY Fridge Mats

The placemats have nicely ‘clung’ to the glass shelves and do not move around when shifting items. Now when a spill occurs, instead of having it turn into a giant cleaning task, I just remove the placemats, give them a quick wipe down and return them to their place.

I just love completing a small project that I know will save me time and energy. The fact that it has also livened up my fridge is a happy bonus.

Have a great day.

 

 

Easter Decorating

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I am a sucker for a cute Easter decoration. I have picked up a few bits and pieces in the last week and I have my eye on a few more. Here is what I have bought so far. Where possible I have included a link to the store where you can buy them….

This cute Easter egg garland.Easter Decorating

A pair of hanging Easter eggs.

Easter Decorating

This set of Easter bunnies. They remind me a little of the “Guess How Much I love You” storybook.

There Was a Crooked House Easter Decorating

These crockery sets for the kids. I have been searching  for some Easter themed crockery for the kids for years.  It is virtually non-existent. If you are Australia and know of anywhere that is selling Easter crockery, I’d love to know too!

There Was a Crooked House Easter Decorating

There Was a Crooked House Easter DecoratingAnd finally, we now have a family of mossy bunnies.

Easter Decorating

We only have a week and a half of school left before we break for Easter holidays. I can’t wait! I love this time of the year.

 

 

Kids’ Activity Pack Storage

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In the last week I have shown you some of the activity packs I have made to keep my kids entertained and learning. You can see the latest posts on these, here and here.There Was a Crooked House Activity Packs

There Was a Crooked House - Kids' Activity PacksWhile these are really loved by the kids, I knew if I didn’t come up with an acceptable storage solution for them, I would soon sooner or later prefer to see them in the bin.

The solution came in some suspension files and a storage box.

Kids' Activity Pack Storage

Kids' Activity Pack Storage

The box has a special rim inside that holds the suspension files in place. All the packs fit in perfectly, all I have to do is add the name labels.Kids' Activity Pack Storage

Kids' Activity Pack Storage

The box now lives in the boy’s play room. It fits perfectly into one of the shelves in the cupboard. Kids' Activty Pack Storage

 

Beautifully neat – just the way I like it.

More Kids’ Activity Packs

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Yesterday I showed you some of the activity packs I created for my two boys (see here). Today, I promised to reveal some of the other ones….

Colour Spelling. Match the paddle pop colour word to the correct coloured sleeve.

There Was a Crooked House - Kids' Activity Packs

Threading. Using large coloured buttons, pipe cleaners and thread. A great activity to get the little fingers working and to practice colour recognition.

There Was a Crooked House - Kids' Activity Packs

And my boys’ favourite – Fly Swat. I teamed a frog-shaped fly swat with collections of fly covered sight words, numbers and animal pictures. We have come up with lots of ways to play this game. My youngest has used the animal cards and as I called out the animal sounds, he hit the corresponding animal picture.  Last night, my eldest had me call out a number and he tried to hit it as fast as he could. There Was a Crooked House - Kids' Activity PacksSo there are 6 activity pack ideas for you.  Believe it or not, I have created more Easter themed ones which I will blog about soon. Can you believe it is that time of year again!?

Have a great day.

Kids’ Activity Packs

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Previously I have shared some of the activity packs I have made for my littlies (see here and here). They have been a Godsend as not only are they educational, they keep my monkeys entertained at times when I need it the most.

Last week I was out with a friend who showed me some ideas for some new activity bags. They got me so excited that I went out the next day to buy some supplies.  Once I started to rat around my local variety store, I was amazed at the inspiration I found sitting on the shelves. I went a little crazy – so unlike me. Ha!

Here are a few of the packs I have made up so far…..

Pattern matching – something Master O is doing a bit of now that he is in Prep. I raided the craft and sewing box to create this one. It is just some coloured wooden stars and velcro. I created some patterns in a Word document for boys to copy and laminated them to make them hardier.There Was a Crooked House Activity Packs

Matchstick Colour Match. A great fine motor and colour match activity for my 2-year-old, made with coloured toothpick containers and craft matchsticks.

There Was a Crooked House Activity Packs

But this was the one the boys got most excited over, a set of coloured keys turned into a fishing game. With the addition of numbers on one side and words on the other, I have made 4 skill games in one set – motor skill, coloured recognition, numeral recognition and sight word recall. After fashioning two magnetic fishing rods, both my boys can play the game that suits their ability level.There Was a Crooked House Activity Packs

Last night the boys didn’t even touch a toy or ask to watch their favourite afternoon show, all they wanted to do is give these a test drive.  Well worth the effort putting them together!

I have a few more packs on the go at the moment. I will share another 3 easy to create activity packs with you tomorrow.