Her 13th birthday

My youngest daughter has just become a teenager and I thought I would share her 13th birthday with you. Turning thirteen is such an exciting milestone.  She was tired of being a “twelvie” and ready to embrace teenagerhood.

In our house, we decided to do something special for our daughters on their 13th birthday: give them a bedroom make-over. Part of the thrill of this is the leadup. There are months of pinning things to Pinterest, cutting pictures from store catalogues and window shopping. We even do a trip or two to Bunnings and drool over the paint sample cards, choosing the perfect colour palette.  After colour selection has taken place (this is one of the first steps in the whole process, by the way), we carry around these colours until all the items have been purchased.

Most purchases were online jobs but we did manage to source a couple if items locally.  Because of this, we have been slowed down by postage.  Some things won’t be added to the room until they have arrived in the post.

Here is a quick list of the items we either modified or added to the room:

  • new doona cover & pillowcase
  • new throw rug for bed
  • new cushion covers added to existing cushion inserts for bed
  • new desk lamp
  • gold ribbon added to existing bedside lamp
  • new window seat (would you believe, this is actually a TV unit from Aldi!)
  • new window seat chair pads & cushion
  • new desk chair pad to match those on window seat
  • new gold & cream storage crates for window seat shelf
  • new map of the world in old frame that was lying around (generously donated by my brother!)

The photos below show before and after (cushions for bed and window seat still to come).

Left side is “before” right side is “after”:

Bedroom make-over

So we didn’t paint any walls or add new blinds but we did change the look of the room. It also allows her to change the room again down the track very easily. She’s not locked in to having bright pink walls forever!

On her 13th birthday, she had a couple of friends over for dinner and a movie at home.  I made her birthday cake – the Funfetti Cake.  Read about it over here.

Funfetti cake STAR

Star cake decoration

Star birthday cake with candles

She had a great thirteenth birthday. We love her to bits.

Trina xx

Chocolate coated caramel fudge

With Easter fast approaching, I decided to make this chocolate coated caramel fudge recipe as gifts. Easter eggs are wonderful, but sometimes a little homemade gift is a lovely change.

I’ve made quite a range of different fudges over the years. This fudge recipe is a favourite of mine because it’s so simple and it makes quite a lot. I made up small boxes and this jar, with a few delicious morsels for the cook 😉

Caramel fudge gifts

This is a really easy recipe and you don’t need a candy thermometer. It’s also quick to make so you don’t feel like you are slaving away for weeks. I also like that the fudge cuts easily and doesn’t crumble.  It’s a beautiful creamy consistency.

Chocolate coated caramel fudge

Chocolate coated caramel fudge

Ingredients

  • 395g can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 80g butter, chopped
  • 200g white chocolate, chopped
  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 30g coconut oil (or copha)

Instructions

  1. Line the base and sides of a 20cm x 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Put condensed milk, sugar and butter in a medium heavy-based saucepan, and stir to combine.
  3. Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and becomes a caramel colour.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the white chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and combined.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and allow to cool.
  7. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until mixture is firm (or leave out on the bench until it comes to room temperature).
  8. Melt dark chocolate and coconut oil in microwave, stirring regularly, until melted and smooth.
  9. Remove fudge from the tin onto a chopping board (I tipped out the baking paper too and used it on the chopping board to stop the fudge sticking).
  10. With a sharp knife, cut the fudge into four strips.
  11. Spread the fudge strips all over, until completely covered, with the dark chocolate mixture and place in a baking paper lined container.
  12. Place in the fridge for a couple hours or leave out on the bench until it sets.
  13. Then slice the strips into 1 cm wide pieces and serve or place in gift boxes or jars.
http://trinamichellehouse.com/chocolate-coated-caramel-fudge/

Variation:

You can play around with the chocolate coating if you want to.  You could sprinkle your fudge strips with finely chopped nuts before the dark chocolate mixture sets. You could also add chopped pecans or almonds to the fudge mixture if you want to add a crunch.

Hot Tip

No need to keep your fudge refrigerated unless you have hot weather.  Ideally, fudge should be kept at room temperature (I learnt this from the fudge shop in Mount Beauty – I didn’t know this before).

I love giving gifts that I have made at home. This fudge recipe is so easy to make and impressive when served or presented as a gift. Your friends and family will wonder how you did this!

Have you made any gifts this Easter?

Of course, you could give this fudge as a gift at any time of the year. I’m sure the recipient would gladly receive it no matter what the occasion!

Let me know if you have made gifts for Easter this year.

For more Easter inspiration, see the Easter egg tomb table centerpiece over here. I must remember to make mine again this year.

Trina xx

Church lunch

The other Sunday we had a community lunch after church: Church lunch! It was a Pot Luck situation.

So what to make?

I wanted to be able to make the lunch the day before so that Sunday morning wouldn’t be such a rush. After much thought, I decided you can’t go wrong with a pasta salad and a chocolate slice for dessert.

The pasta salad recipe is here:

Church lunch pasta salad

Church lunch pasta salad

Ingredients

  • 500g elbow pasta (you can use any shape!)
  • pinch salt
  • jar of sundried tomato pesto
  • grated cheddar cheese
  • sundried tomatoes
  • baby spinach
  • parsley

Instructions

  1. Boil pasta and salt until the pasta is al dente.
  2. Drain pasta and place in salad bowl.
  3. Immediately add the pesto, grated cheese, sundried tomatoes, baby spinach and parsley. Stir through.
  4. Once slightly cooled, cover with cling wrap and store in the fridge until ready for church.
http://trinamichellehouse.com/church-lunch/

You will notice in the recipe that I didn’t give you quantities of ingredients. I just add the ingredients until I think it looks right.  It’s really a case of make it according to your own taste.  For example, if you like your pasta salad really cheesy (like we do) be generous with the cheese but if you’d like to go dairy-free then leave it out.

Another thing to note, add the ingredients to your pasta while it is hot so that the cheese melts through and the spinach wilts a bit.

You could add other things to this pasta salad, such as mushrooms, feta, parmesan cheese, diced capsicum, etc.

So now for the chocolate slice.

Which one?

Naughty Girl Slice

I struggle to look past The Whack-It-In Together Naughty Girl Slice. See my blog post for the recipe over here. This slice is so quick to make and everyone loves it.  It’s always a huge hit. So today when I made this slice, I had to make two.  One to take tomorrow and one for us to eat today.  Yep, it happens every time!

So there you have it.  I had this church lunch made in around an hour (including washing the dishes as I go). Quick, easy and yummy.  I was looking forward to going to church that Sunday!

What do you make for a Make’n’Take lunch situation?  What are your go-to “bring a plate” and pot luck recipes?

Trina xx

Gingerbread with Caramel Sauce

Last February I watched an episode of My Kitchen Rules and the Gingerbread they made stayed with me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I found the link to the gingerbread recipe (it’s here), printed it out and kept it close.  Didn’t make it until this week, over a year later!! I hadn’t forgotten about it though. Oh no. It was always on the list of things I must make.

Gingerbread with caramel sauce

The MKR recipe is actually called “Grandma’s Gingerbread (with Rum & Raisin Ice Cream)”.  No time to make the ice cream, so I just made the gingerbread part.  Didn’t change the recipe.  It’s fantastic just the way it is, except, that it probably needed ice cream! I decided to use the gingerbread as a pudding for dessert one night so I made this caramel sauce (and got the tub of ice cream from the freezer). This caramel sauce is so easy it’s almost embarassing.

Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

  • 8 heaped Tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Combine the sugar and the butter in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring slowly to the boil and cook for 1 minute.
http://trinamichellehouse.com/gingerbread-with-caramel-sauce/

I drizzled the caramel sauce over the warm gingerbread and it was delicious.

As the caramel sauce cooled, it started to solidify because of the butter in it.  (This is when the stroke of genius hit.) While it was still pliable, I spread the remaining caramel sauce over the remaining gingerbread like icing. Now, we have options. If someone wants to have a piece of gingerbread and eat it like cake, you just cut and piece and away you go.  If you’d like it like a pudding, you cut a piece and warm it up in the microwave.  The caramel icing turns into caramel sauce again and you have pudding with drizzled caramel sauce.

As usual, this recipe is super easy to make. The gingerbread is nice and moist and keeps for days in an airtight container. It feeds a crowd and would be perfect for a huge dinner party or an Easter dessert. Enjoy this Gingerbred with Caramel Sauce combo.

I think you should make it.

Trina xx

“The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold

You will notice that my copy of “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold is a bit tattered.  I bought this book at a school fete recently.  It was recommended to me so I was prepared to look past the ripped cover and give it a go.

The Lovely Bones

It is a very strange book.  I will not be reading it again.

“The Lovely Bones” is a murder story, told by the girl who was raped and killed not far from her house when she was fourteen years old. Susie Salmon died and went to heaven. She tells the reader all the grim and gorey details right from the start.

Her family and the police are left to try to figure out what happened to Susie. Her friends are also shocked by this tragedy and never really recover.  Susie watches them all from her place in heaven.

Susie misses her earthly life and gets very absorbed in watching her family and friends, finding it  hard to let it go.  She even manages to get involved in their lives as they go on to grow up, fall in love and do all the things she didn’t get to do in her life. I found this aspect of the book very hard to accept.  Susie describes her heaven and I guess her description of heaven is very different to how I expect it to be.  She doesn’t mention God at all in heaven which is also very different to the heaven I am looking forward to.

One aspect of this book that I found interesting, that is the way the characters all grieve differently and find it hard to understand each other.  There are communication break-downs and strange behaviour that continues for years after. The lives of Susie’s family and friends all change forever.  This is true of tragedies.

I realise that this book isn’t supposed to be like a true story, it is a work of fiction.  I just didn’t love it.

If you read it and love it, let me know!

Trina xx