Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Baby Shower Bonanza, Part 3: Handmade Sugar cubes

Now things are getting really nutty.

Handmade Sugar Cubes...?

I know. But not only are they beautiful, I needed a little something to fill up my boxes, becauseof course I never find exactly what I want when I need it.

Who am I kidding. They had me at Beautiful.

Once again, I have Pinterest to blame. I don't have the original pin because this was a surprise for Sadie. The teabags were her idea, even though she thought they were too much trouble, so I wanted to have a little something as a surprise. I need sugar with my tea. So, when I came across this idea, I was sold.

There are a couple of different ways to do this, some people cut out shapes with cookie cutters, but to me, that seemed like too much faffing, with too much room for disaster. So, I used chocolate molds.

Of course, I was too silly to get pictures, even though I could only make 15 at a time, and of course, I made 120.

This is what 120 sugar cubes (o.k, hearts) look like...
In sectioned containers so I can count easily.

Pretty, right?


But worth it.

All you need to do is mix 1/4 cup sugar with one teaspoon of water and a tiny drop of food colouring.
This is what happens if you use too much food colouring.
The lighting makes them loo lighter than the fabulous, lurid teal they really are.

Now imagine that dissolved into your tea. Yuk!

Once you mix it up, it'll feel like damp sand. Spoon a teaspoon of the mix (so that each cube equals one teaspoon, of course!) into the mold and tamp down firmly. I used the fat end of a chopstick for this. Did I mention it was time consuming? Repeat, until all your spots are filled and pressed down. Pop them in the fridge, over night to be safe. Carefully push them out ( I used a silicon mold), they'll still need to dry out a bit, and, VOILA!

Repeat a million times. Chuck a tantrum when you accidentally get the mix wrong. Wonder why on earth you thought this would be a good idea. Congratulate yourself on such an awesome idea. Sigh a lot.

Then, behold the beauty.

Oh, and this is why you make a few extra...
Broken hearts

So, Teabags and Sugar Cubes done...

Now what to package them in?

Until next time,


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Baby Shower bonanza, Part 2: Handmade tea bags

And so it continues. Do join me for a little craziness in the form of Handmade Tea Bags.

Yes. Teabags. Made by me.

There are numerous versions on Pinterest, but this is the one that inspired me and gave me very simple directions. There are even free, printable tags.
Lia Griffith
 What I loved about this version is that the teabags look like someone actually made them, and with love. I know, sounds corny. But I am!

What I also love about these little bags, is that they're cheap to make. The muslin cost $2.50p/m, the tea, Melbourne Breakfast from T2 (Sadie's favourite) was $30 for 250g(which ended up giving me about 85 teabags) and the tags were made from scraps of the invitation paper.

One teaspoon (one you use to stir your tea, not a measuring spoon)

Gather and tie
Trim, and you're almost done.

These weren't hard to make. If you're good with your hands, they'll be easy. They're just fiddly, and time consuming.

I made 120 tea bags. I know.

120? Yes. There were 27 people on Sadie's guest list, so I made 30 invites, just in case she'd forgotten someone or decided that some Facebook friend was nice enough to come along. I'd decided to use plastic boxes to package them in, and so, to make it look generous and not stingy, four tea bags each was the plan. If you're using smaller packaging, you could certainly package 1,2 or 3 and they'd look gorgeous. (Keep an eye on the Madame Clochette Facebook page for a few different options soon).

Like in Lia's original post, these teabags would make a great Mothers Day gift, or you could even package up some "xmas" scented tea and give them as Xmas gifts.

Hmmm... That's a good idea.

Must remember that.

Next up in the Bonanza....

Handmade Sugar cubes.

A bientot!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Baby Shower Bonanza, Part 1 : Invitations

Here begins the craziness of my sister Sadie's baby shower.

She's my little sister. My only sister. And she's having a baby.


Anyhoo, Sadie has gone above and beyond the call; for my Canberra wedding, My French Wedding, My Canberra Baby Shower, my Melbourne Baby Shower, and then a few days after the birth of my actual Tadpole, she flew here and back in one day.

So, I kinda owe her. Plus, I haven't always been a very good big sister. Pretty crap at times to be honest.

She's a bit of a control freak, (A LOT of a control freak... she's a Virgo, just like Mr Frog), so I gave her plenty of choices to make a long the way. Handy, because I suck at making decisions, especially small ones that feel very important.

She'd already booked a High Tea venue while I was eating France so with that in mind we tossed around a few ideas for a theme. I constantly kept talking myself down from the crazy. I don't know why, but it's the place I go to first. We both did some perusing of Pinterest (EVIL PLACE! LOVES CRAZY!) and managed to head in a similar direction. Once I knew the vibe she was hoping for, elegant and pretty, combined with her own vintage style, I needed colours. She told me the theme for the baby's room would be "Woodlands" using leaf green, or pistachio. I headed to the Kaisercraft website and got to hunting for something that might fit. I sent her a few suggestions, she sent back the papers she liked the look of and I made a choice.

For the invites, I chose this:

"Expression" from the Kaleidoscope range.

After much faffing, I decided to keep things simple. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of my progress, so this isn't a tutorial, but as you'll see, when I say simple I mean it.
Simple, Elegant AND  a tiny bit of bling.
A little more than half the card is Kaleidoscope paper, stuck down with some double sided tape. The other half has my printed piece, also stuck with tape. We then get a little fancy with some lace and ribbon. The lace has a raw edge and only the ribbon is tucked under, for a less bulky but still finished look. After a few days staring at my prototype I decided it needed a little something. These sparkly hearts are just big enough to be pretty but not blinding. (You can find them at Officeworks).

Now, my original plan was to used craft cards from The Dollar king, the ones I always use for birthdays and a bargain (because I have to do everything as cheaply and as fabulous as possible). Of course, after I pre cut ALL OF MY PAPERS I realised I couldn't get them in time, so I bought a few sheets of white card and cut them to size.Even cheaper. Instead of opening the card, guests just flip it over.
I even downloaded a new font.
Popped in an envelope and sealed with a larger sparkly star (also from Officeworks, and excellent value) they were good to go.

And so ends the first chapter of the Baby Shower bonanza.

Next up, Thank you gifts.

Stay pretty,


Monday, March 16, 2015

Adventures with French Food, a Picture Book

Tadpole's yoghurt. In glass jars. I very nearly smuggled the empty jars back to Australia!

One of the best things about France is the food. Obviously. It can also be one of the worst, funniest, weird and amazing things about France.

Let me show you just a few things I encountered on our recent trip to our other "home".

First, we arrived just in time for Xmas which is celebrated on Xmas eve, with lots of food and wine, until midnight when you open your gifts.
Among other things, we had:

Oysters, almost the size of my hand.

Snail like creatures from the ocean...

Yep, I had one. Not bad really.
And then, after numerous other canapes...

The cheese platter, made fancy with figs and walnuts
And lastly,
Dessert, why just have one choice?
My mother in law decided that New Years should be a simpler affair,so she headed to Picard, a store that sells pre-prepared, frozen food, but not as we know it.

A few canapes to start...

All ready made, from the store.

And then just for me, because I once had them at my local bar and thought they weren't bad, they gave me these...

Snails, in all their garlic butter glory, from the freezer to the oven.
For your viewing pleasure. You're welcome.
 We had a few other pre -made and quite lovely canapes, then pulled out dessert, also from Picard.

Eclair anyone...?
Oh, and these...
Because one is not enough.

After New Years, we headed to Marseille, stopping on the way in Lyon, the Food Capital of the food capital. We arrived late but in need of dinner, so my in laws went out for a walk to the local Carrefour (the biggest supermarket I've ever seen) to bring back a microwave meal or some thing.
We expected a microwave meal each, and prayed for wine.

We got this:
A moveable feast.
They came back to the tiny hotel room with bread, saucisson (which my father in law had to hack at with the cheap hotel knives), crackers (for Mr Frog, trying not to eat too much bread) sliced meats, numerous fresh/frozen meals (some of the best I've ever tasted), cheese and a demi bottle of wine.

 This turned out to be one of my favourite meals.

A half bottle of wine, just enough for the pisshead Aussies, and lovely.

Miniature cheese - a single serve on the left, and the tube on the right held about five of the little cheeses in front. And they were YUM!
We only had time for one good meal in Lyon, and we weren't dissapointed.
Entree... "French" onion soup and some fabulous salad I can't remember. The lovely staff got sme fries for Tadpole from the restaurant across the lane.
We stayed in a lovely apartement in Marseille, not far from anything, close to the beach and a short car ride to my brother and sister in laws place.

While peaking through the cupboards, I found this:

250ml of dry white wine, especially for cooking, in a tetra pack. GENIUS!
We happened to be in France in time for Epiphany, also known as Galette Season. A frangipane tart that is traditonally baked with a porcelain favour inside. Whoever finds it in their slice is crowned (literally with a paper crown) the king or queen. De-lish, and fun.

Galette in Marseille. My mother in law was queen, this time.
 My brother and sister in laws treated us to an amazing meal at their place.
Fresh Foie Gras, forget how it's made, it was divine, and so was the very sweet wine that went with it. (Very similar to Noble One)

Homemade lasagne, done the right way, cooked for hours and served with good bread and salad.
Dessert. My brother in law made me a little one, knowing I'm not big on dessert.
 And then with tea or coffee after dinner, these little bikkies, very similar to biscotti.

I ate A LOT of these.
Yep, we were spoiled!

We somehow managed a night out on our own. Mr frog and his Clochette out for dinner. Crazy. I'd had my heart set on having a Bouillabaisse in Marseille, but it turns out that not only are they expensive (50 euros), they're massive.
I, am not. So, I had fish soup instead, and not only was it delicious, but it came out like this:
Make your own soup, adding all the ingredints to taste.

Our next stop was the mountains. Merlette to be exact. Unforunately I didn't get any decent pictures of the beautiful Fondue,or the adorable restaurant we had it in, but I did get a shot of this:

Me and Tadpole enjoying a Vin Chaud (mulled wine) and a rusk on top of the mountain.

Now let's talk about tea. Actually, let's start with the coffee in France. It's bad. Really bad. I don't know how they can stuff it up so badly being so close to Italy, but there you go. So, I drank alot of tea instead.No probs there... unless you ask for milk, which sometimes results in this:
In lieu of tiny UHT milk containers, they gave me hot milk to put my tea bag in. Seriously.
Also, some people like to drink their tea or coffee in a bowl, of which their were many in our mountain chalet.

Giving it a go, French Style.
On our last night in the mountains, the rest of the family went out for fondue, and we stayed in. With Tadpole in bed,I made us this very basic meal. Potatoes and frankfurts. Mr Frog would never eat frankfurts here, but in France he makes an exception. And those little potato cubes are straight from the freezer, and something Mr Frog misses. Weirdo.
You can even buy pre diced potatoes.

One last thing from our mountain adventures...

A little something to warm you up...

Oh, and this.

My first snow man.
On the way back to Paris, I needed a little snack. Mr Frog got me these. They were good.
I really just love the packet!
When we got back to Paris, the grandparents went off to a party for a couple of nights, so we invited our friends over for dinner. The meal was a disaster. (Don't try cooking a casserole you usually make in the oven on the stove,in a kitchen that's not yours, with meat of poor quality). However, the company and the drinks were not.
A bottle of Champagne, complete with fancy seal.
Cosmopolitans made is an empty "Pollen" jar. Yes, Pollen.
The following day, after a slight miscommunication and an act of love at the last minute, we had lunch with the same friends. These are the place settings.
This is what I dream of in my own home... the perfect place setting.

I mean seriously, can you even believe it?
Meanwhile, our friends entire house looks like Versailles. Incredibly beautiful. And lunch was to die for. On our last visit they tried to kill me with lunch. This time I was prepared. Lunch on a weekend or special occasion in France is a LONG affair. Entree, main, salad, cheese, dessert, and then a little something with coffee or digestif.

This was just one of the little cakes we could choose.
The amazing thing? It wasn't sickly sweet. Wonderful.
On our last night in Paris, we went into the city for dinner, to a place in the Marais, called JaJa. They only use seasonal produce and the menu was small and divine. This is the entree we had to have.
Foie Gras with roasted macadamias and grapefruit foam.
Mr Frog and I both had rabbit for our main, but had to swap plates early on, due to the fact that Mr Frog couldn't get the meat off his portion of rabbit, whereas I had the breast. (Just proves the philosophy of the restaurant... they use the entire rabbit.) The wine warranted a photo of it's own. Mr Frog adored it!

Another please!

 And so, this concludes your visual food journey. If you got this far, thanks for sticking around!

Bon appetit!