Friday, November 23, 2012

Chocolate Cointreau Truffles

Tomorrow night we have been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner. Which begs the questions a) What sort of weird yummy American food are we going to be treated to and b) What to bring?
Clearly we'll take a bottle of wine. That's a no brainer. But what about a gift for the lovely hosts, who we don't know very well, and who are in fact headed back across the Atlantic in a few short weeks.
 I had been trawling Pinterest looking for fabulous things to make. I found beautiful decorations but most involved pumpkins, which  really aren't in season here, and while I'd most like to make them something they can keep ( like a beautiful box to place lists of the things guests are thankful for and then read out during dinner) I realise that they are indeed moving, and no one wants more stuff to move.

Chocolate Truffles it is. Sure I'd package them up nice, but these can be eaten, enjoyed, and then the packaging can be tossed, but is small enough to keep and reuse. Truffles have been my fall back ever since I found the recipe years ago in my Good Taste magazine at a time when I was very very broke. My friends, The Smiths would always invite me to hang out at their house, and I loved to visit them. However, I had been raised to always take something when visiting someone, especially when going for a meal. But I really couldn't buy anything nice. Then I found this recipe, and realised, that even using cheap chocolate the results would be pretty good. I was right. The Smiths loved those truffles.

When I got married, the question of the bonbonairie arose, as it often does. I can't stand getting "things" as a gift at weddings. You never use them, but you can't throw them away. Well I can't anyway. Too sentimental. We were, of course, on a budget, so Truffles were the perfect, delicious solution. I made about 150 of the bloody things, made the boxes to put them in ( cheaper than buying them ready made, less than 50cents) tied them with a pretty bow and "Bibbity Bobbity Boo", beautiful, cheap, tasty and incredibly satisfying.

Now this recipe is incredibly fiddly, and I have since found an easier, Busy Womans' Recipe, but I'll share that next time. For now, try this one. Worth the effort!
Chopped Chocolate.
Chocolate and cream

Chop or break up 200g dark chocolate and place it in a bowl. I use Whittakers Dark Ghana, Mr Frogs favourite. Add 1/2 cup cream. Heat in the microwave for one minute (but adjust for your microwave). You can use the double boiler method, but I find this is so much easier. After a minute, stir/flatten the chocolate, remembering that it will hold it's shape as it melts. The cream will help it melt, so give it a really good stir before microwaving further. I gave it another 30 seconds and it was done. Then add your booze of choice (or some your favourite essence) stirirng well. I usually use Cointreau, but Bailey's, Rum or Frangelico would be nice too. Place in the fridge to firm up for a few hours.
Now at this point I sometimes take it out of the fridge to soften a little because sometimes it REALLY hardens up, making it a bugger to get a teaspoon into let alone roll into a ball. See how you go. Roll teaspoons full into little balls and place on a tray. You'll see in the picture that mine look a little textured... that's because the oils start to melt quickly, making this bit the hardest part. Work fast. Then pop them back in the fridge back in the fridge for a bit to harden again.

Something Nigella-esque springs to mind.

Next, melt another 200g chocolate in the microwave, for about 1 minute and stir it until smooth. Use 2 forks to dip each truffle in the chocolate letting as much as possible drip off. You'll need to work quickly, unless you're using the double boiler method because you can't reheat the chocolate. After dipping them all, stick them back in the fridge to set and congratulate yourself for not losing your mind in the process.

After that comes the fun part. Wrapping them up and giving them away! I went with a Thanksgiving Orange and brown theme for mine.

This is literally a cute jar, some string and some scrapbooking paper. Easy peasey!

Bon Appetit!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Not The C.W.A

Today is a day of housework. Sad, I know, but it must be done. I've done the groceries, the cleaning, made lunch and then I made biscuits. And here is where I came unstuck.

I was making a bastardised version of Anzac biscuits, partly because I love Anzac biscuits, and partly because it's the only recipe I can remember off the top of my head. The last time I made them they turned out fine, a little over cooked, but fine. Today, something went amiss. Today, all I can taste is Bi-carb, and although I like them chewy, they didn't cook well.

I will put the blame firmly on Mr Frog, due to his ridiculous request for "healthy" biscuits, and his continuous need for something "sweet" (but apparently not too sweet if he has a say, otherwise it's Dark Tim Tams all the way). I used wholemeal flour (mental) , oats, dessicated coconut, only half a cup of sugar, a few cranberries and choc chips, butter, honey (forgot to buy golden syrup) and of course the bi-carb.


If there are any C.W.A ladies out there who can stop laughing long enough to leave me a hint or two I would really appreciate it!

For now, I'm coating those Anzac mongrels in chocolate. Health be damned!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Xmas Spirit

I spent today being very excited about xmas. Usually, I'm bah humbugging all over the place, but as I am ,as yet, not working in retail this xmas, I'm really beginning to feel the xmas spirit. For the  first time in years.

The main reason for my enthusiasm this year is the fact that my family; mum,dad, sister and her new hubby, are all coming from interstate to spend three days with us! Originally, mum arranged this so we could all have xmas together for the first time in forever. The idea was for everyone to come to us so we could continue working mental shifts in a shop, but at the very least have xmas day together. Now it's just too late to change plans and I'm GLAD!!! They're travelling a long way, and spending a lot of money on accommodation ( they figured it would be a bit squishy in this little apartment, and rightly so!) so this year I'm going all out! On a budget. (Budget ideas coming your way soon!)
I'm planning the menus, the drinks, the events, the decorations... this will be a xmas worth the trip.

So apart from faffing about on Pinterest looking for xmas ideas, I actually made some xmas cards today. I'm a little embarrassed at how easy they were, and how cheap, but they've turned out pretty well so far.
I bought a pack of red cards and envelopes for $2. I bought a little book of Xmas for $1.

I then proceeded to cut/rip/pull out all the cool pictures in the book and stuck them on the cards. Voila!

I am yet to add glitter (I'm deciding if I like the less is more approach), and I haven't put anything inside yet... but so far so good! I'll post before and after pics if/when I change them.

Tomorrow I start cutting out some fabrics for some very important Cocktail bags. I really must leave xmas alone for a little while... I may send myself round the bend!

Have you started your xmas shopping/crafting yet?


Monday, November 12, 2012

Bits and Bobs

Today started in the most uninspiring fashion; with a  visit to a recruitment company. No great epiphanies, no miracle cures. In and out in 15minutes. I decided to make myself feel better with a bit of supply hunting but came up empty. It may have something to do with the fact that a trip to a recruitment company highlights the lack of money coming in!
The rest of the day I spent a little all over the place. I fiddled with dads present, thankfully finishing the sanding part of it. Read a bit. Fiddled a bit more with dads present. Made a card, then took a bad photo of it:
Actually, kinda looks o.k.
Had a good chat with my sister, Sadie, which got me all excited about xmas... more on that later, but I did pull out my old December Good Taste magazines and get to pondering.

My day spent all over the place. I feel like I haven't accomplished anything but... there'll be days like this.

A demain


Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Creative Mess

Some people have designated craft rooms, with shelving and cupboards and a big beautiful workspace. Some people have a studio, which is basically the same thing only cooler.
I have a corner.

Bits & Bobs piled high
  A corner in which I keep my supplies... most of them anyway. There are other things under the dresser, and ongoing projects hide under the bed or in a bag that leans as inconspicuously as possible against my chest of drawers.

As I mentioned the other day, my work bench is the loungeroom floor, or coffee table or kitchen bench or all of the above. Today, I pulled out some fabric and the odd and ends I use to make my Cocktail Bags and got to fiddling and faffing trying to find fabulous combinations.

An artist at work
The result of this, as you can see from the pic is a bit of a mess, to put it mildly! I long for the day when I have a space all my own to create and make a mess and not clean up!! Aaah to dream.
Coming soon: Pics of said supplies. The ones I took today while half asleep were blurry... much like my vision at the time.

A bientot


Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Blahs

Did you miss me? No post yesterday... serious case of case of the blahs happening yesterday and not even a viewing of "There's No business Like Show Business" could pull me out of it. And if nearly two hours of song and dance and Marilyn can't do it, well, nothing can.

I still managed to put some finishing touches on mums present, and do a little on dads... which I've been avoiding because I've lost my inspiration for it, work out what I might make "The Girls" for xmas and that's about it.

Today, I'm getting out of the house, and not just to do groceries. Although I will need to get a few things (I'm thinking roast chicken for dinner?)
 I'm off to see a Domestic Goddess. (She has a blog too,
We'll exchange magazines, my Vanity Fair for her Delicious, and discuss food, husbands, her kids, other people, her blog, my blog, and the world at large. Or something like that anyway. In the process, the fresh air will blow the cobwebs from my creative corners, the warm sunshine will lighten the dark spots in my mind, and a good friend will give me strength.

Some days, you get lucky like that.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mon Amour

For months now I have been working on a scrapbooked frame thingy for my lounge room. It has taken ages because of my need to buy cheap supplies, and my complete inability to make a decision. Being a Libran is not easy.
Finally, today, I finished it!
In the process, I made a wonderful mess. I don't have a designated craft space so I just use the coffee table, or the kitchen bench, the floor (as in this case) or a combination of all three which I can assure you my husband loves. Here is some of my work in progress:
That's an opened up shopping bag protecting the ugly green carpet.

The frame, due to it's missing glass, fell off the back of a truck. It's quite big, but the picture window is small, and off centre. What to do? Well, after faffing about deciding on if I wanted the picture to take up the whole window or not (not) I then consulted a scrapbooking magazine for inspiration. The problem with that is that some of those projects are so full of stuff you can barely see the original photo... not my style. So, I took this idea:

And tweaked it!
  I found a fab pic from one of my weddings (long story- another time) to use. I think we look like movie stars but my husband has just decided he doesn't like it but HA! I thought of this already, (and the fact that I may change my mind), and I've just used photo corners so I can change it when I want!
The colour scheme was a no brainer because my lounge room is black & white with touches of red (copied nowhere near as well from an Instyle spread of Lara Flynn Boyles house a million years ago. I also copied her bedroom!) But what to do with the rest of it I had no idea. Now after going backwards, forwards, round and round... here it is!
The text in the middle says: "Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a Fairytale". Now, if you knew our history, and had overheard some of our first conversations, you would understand why it had to be this quote. The fairy castle means a lot to me for various reasons, and the Eiffel Tower is for Mr. Frog... and it has come to mean a lot to me too.
Now, at this stage I'm not too crazy about the heart behind the castle, but I needed some red in that corner so there you go.

Dedicated to the one I love. Toujours.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

And Woman Created Stuff

I came home from my shopping expedition yesterday buzzed. I always get a rush when I find great supplies for specific projects ( managed to talk myself out of all the cool things I don't have a purpose for!), and they're really cheap. Now don't get me wrong... there are lots of things I'd like to buy that are not cheap. Beautiful scrapbooking papers, gorgeous fabrics, and all the fabulous costume jewellery around these days. The problem is; I can't afford it. I've been unemployed for almost three weeks now, and although I've enjoyed my creative projects and working on the business end of my hobby, there is always that little nagging voice asking me when I'm going to get a job. Sad. Meanwhile, I do have a feeling that even if I was made of money you'd still find me rifling through the discount bins. I just ADORE a bargain.

Today I put those cheap supplies to good use and have just about finished my sisters xmas present, have gotten started on mums- but am missing a tool, and am all pumped to get started on making xmas cards.( Just remind me to send some... I have a tendency to write them out, stamp them, and then leave them on the coffee table... until February.)

Next on my To-Do list is to find some stores that might like to stock my Cocktail bags... Any thoughts?



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

April Showers

O.k, so it's not as pretty as April Showers sounds. It's just overcast. It might rain. It might not. Welcome to Melbourne!
I don't know about you, but this kind of weather makes it almost impossible for me to get moving. The forecast said it would be sunny ( I know, rookie mistake to believe the weatherman) so I was all primed to get up and re-take some photos of my most recent bags. Then, when I'm rudely woken by Mr Frogs alarm, I realise that the day is going to be harder than I thought. Let's just say I'm not a morning person. And don't listen to my sister Sadie, she's just mean.

Now I'm up, dressed and fed, I'm still moving like a snail. I even have fun things to do that dont rely on good weather. I need supplies for the xmas presents I'm making my family, and I do love hunting for supplies at bargain prices. And I really need some nice supplies because Dads' pressie isn't looking so great. I can't even decide on what to make for mum. Crikey. You see what this weather is doing to me!

O.k, I need to get organised. Put my face on. Perhaps change my clothes in case I feel compelled to hand out my resume on my travels (job hunting: kill me now). Check my list.

Right. Here I go... Now....

Tout de suite!


Monday, November 5, 2012

Well, so far so good. This morning I managed to create my banner, so my new home is starting to look pretty! I also managed to list two new items on Etsy :White Garden Cocktail bag and Blue, Beige & Wood cocktail bag

Unfortunately the rest of my morning has consisted of cleaning the house... on Melbourne Cup day!!! So Sad! But that's what happens when you quit your job... you've got the day off, but can't afford to enjoy it. Oh yes, I should probably jump on Seek too. *Sigh*
 Nevermind, just a few more things to tidy up. I may even go crazy and rearrange my dresser... which is currently covered in numerous perfumes, cosmetics, face creams, body lotions and who knows what else!! There must be a better way!

I also have a few craft projects on the go, so if I get time before the husband gets home from uni,and I can get the creative juices flowing after a day of chores, I'll take a stab at them.

Wish me "Bon Chance"!!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

We've Only Just Begun

Hello out there!

This blog is currently under construction... which may take some time due to the fact I'm not excactly computer savvy. Funny, seeing I have an online store and all.
Meanwhile, check out my Etsy store:
Or say hello to me on Facebook... just type Madame Clochette in the search bar.

I have way too much computer time today, so I'm off to the kitchen instead.

A bientot!