Breast Cancer Awareness…Inspirational Wooden Block Sign…

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I wanted to do something to support it.  We all know someone who has breast cancer and I thought an inspirational sign is something small I could do to bring encouragement.

Keeping it simple I used 2×4 blocks, painted and hand-distressed. Using mod podge, scrap booking paper and letters cut using my cuttlebug. Tied together with a pink ribbon.

Materials needed:

  • 3 2×4 blocks
  • sandpaper
  • acrylic paint
  • brushes or foam brushes
  • old sheet to protect table
  • rags
  • scrapbook paper
  • mod podge
  • letters (store brought or homemade)

Instructions:

I brought my 2×4 from a hardware store (Mitre 10), they kindly cut it into all the blocks for me. I got 4 sets of 3, which cost me $15.  4 x 6 inches (15.24 cm) 4 x 7 inches (17.78cm) 4  x 8 inches (20.32cm)

First I sanded the edges of the blocks to get a smooth surface. I used an electric sander, but it easy to do it by hand.

I painted the blocks using acrylic paint, but added a small amount of calcium carbonate and water to it, this is not necessary, but I find it easier to use chalk paint when distressing. I just brought some paint test pots from Mitre 10. The paint dried really fast as it was a hot day and I only needed one coat.

Once dried I brushed a layer of  mod podge onto the front of the blocks, one at a time. Then stuck on the scrap booking paper (I had cut to size) onto the block, press the paper down starting from the centre and moving out (I use an old credit card to do this) to the ends, getting rid of any air bubbles. Then I went back and checked for any additional air bubbles.

Next, apply another coat on top of the paper, at this point a lay the letters on top of the paper. You have to do this rather quickly before it dries. Especially if it is a  hot day like it was when I did these blocks. They dried so fast. Once this had dried I then coated the letters with the mod podge and let them dry.

Finally, I tied a pink ribbon around the blocks. Beautiful!

I did this because it would make a great gift to lift someone’s spirit who is fighting cancer! Sometimes it is hard to know what to say or do, but this is just a little something….

Thanks for reading my post! I hope you try making these inspirational wooden block signs!

  Andi

 

DIY chalk paint at home…New Zealand

I decided it was time to make my own DIY chalk paint at home. I love Annie Sloan Chalk paints, but the shop in the village which stock them sadly closed down, so it was time to attempt to make my own. For some reason I thought it was going to be hard, maybe because I read a lot of recipes for DIY chalk paint on pinterest and the comments as well. It didn’t sound so easy.

I choose to try making chalk paint with calcium carbonate, the hardest part was trying to get hold of it. In the end a friend had some extra and I brought it off her, but in the future I will have to buy it online.

Calcium Carbonate

Next I brought some small pots of paint at our local Mitre 10 (hardware store). I managed to get some clearance paint (mistint colours) at a great price.

To test out my paint I brought a great little table for $15 at a Op Shop. Perfect for this project.

I mixed a small amount of chalk paint up using just 1 cup of paint.

The consistency was great, so similar to Annie Sloan Paint and colour came out just the same as Old White. Calcium carbonate mixed in really well and I added water to get the right consistency.

 

It was necessary to paint the little table with two coats, sanding after the first coat to try and get rid of brush lines and an occasional drip which escaped my notice.


Homemade Bees Wax

Finally, I waxed the dried surface with bees wax. This I had brought locally – homemade bees wax. I must say I really liked using this, it went on well (rubbing it in with a clean rag). I didn’t really notice any difference from using Annie Sloan Clear Wax.

Really love how this turned out! I think time will tell how this paint stands up to wear and tear. But I will from now on be making my own DIY chalk paint at home…

It you would like the recipe for this chalk paint I made, email me at andi@riverroad.nz and I will be happy to share it with you.

Many thanks for reading my post! Happy chalk painting!

Andi

 

GIN & TONIC CUPCAKES RECIPE…

Gin & Tonic Cupcakes

I was asked to make some Gin & Tonic cupcakes for an event and came up with this recipe. They didn’t want cupcakes with icing on top which is what I would have wanted to do… yummy buttercream icing with gin and tonic. Instead they wanted a syrup which to my surprise actually came out rather nice.

It also helps if you get to have a drink of G & T whilst making the cupcakes!

Gin & Tonic Cupcakes recipe

Ingredients (makes 24 cupcakes)

125g unsalted butter, softened

1 cup caster sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup (185ml) milk

Juice and zest of 1 lime

2 TBsp Gin

Syrup

Juice and zest of 1 lime

Zest of 1 lime for decoration

4 TBsp Gin

3 TBsp Tonic

2 TBsp sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degree C/350 degree F

Method

Place cupcake papers in two 12 hole cupcake trays.

In a bowl beat together the butter and sugar until pale in colour and creamy.

Beat in the eggs.

Add the gin, lime juice and zest, beat until combined.

Sift the flour and baking powder and add half to butter mixture with half the milk. Mix until well combined. Repeat with remaining flour and milk.

Fill cupcake papers 3/4 full.

Bake muffin-sized cupcakes for 20-25 minutes and small cupcakes for about 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Baked cupcakes

Transfer to wire racks and allow to cool slightly.

Next, make the syrup, I did this in the microwave, but it can be done in a saucepan.

Mix together the lime juice and zest, gin and sugar. Microwave for 30 seconds on high. Stir well, making sure sugar is dissolved, then add the tonic water. Microwave again for 30 seconds on high. Stir well.

Syrup

Carefully pierce, with a toothpick a few holes in the cupcakes, then spoon the mixture over the cupcakes while they are still warm.

Finally sprinkle grated lime zest over the cupcakes. Enjoy!

Now I have to say if you want the gin flavour to be stronger add more gin! It is a personal preference here…

Thanks for reading my post! I do hope you get to make these delicious Gin & Tonic cupcakes!

Andi 

Wooden Shelf Makeover – New Zealand

My wooden shelf makeover was a inspiration really. It was offered free on my local neighbourly, which is a wonderful site to find things in your neighbourhood in New Zealand.

Wooden Shelf Makeover

I got it to use as extra shelving in our shed, but it wasn’t that stable and a shelf was missing. It was sitting in front of our house waiting to be fixed when my husband suggested it would make a great shelf for my potted plants sitting around by the front door. I mainly have succulents in the pots because they don’t need so much watering and maintenance.

Shelf turned upside down

As you can see I turned the shelf upside down to fit in the area, but there is a electric metre box in the way so I had to move the now top shelf up. The metre reading man needs to open it to read the metre! Fortunately it only took removing some screws and sliding the shelf up. Then I tightened all the other screws to stabilise better.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Next I painted it in one of my favourite paints Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old Ochre.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old Ochre

Finally, I painted just one coat this time and there was no need to wax as I am using it for outside. Not too worried about wear and tear here.

Finished shelf

It was wonderful to get all my plants off the ground, I love how it turned out! I also used it for a time growing my lettuces, which was a great spot and super easy to pick them when needed.

Growing lettuce

It made my front of the house look so much better, much tidier and it is easier to water the plants now.

I hope my wooden shelf makeover inspired you! Thanks for reading my post!

Andi

 

 

 

How to make a bay leaf wreath … last minute

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Bay leaf wreaths tend to quickly dry out in the summer heat, so I left it till the last minute to make one.

I picked some branches off our bay tree in the garden and used what supplies I had at home to keep things simple. At this point I am trying to avoid going to the shops and enjoying just being at home with the family.

Supplies needed:

twine (you can also use florist wire)

wire coat hanger

scissors

bay leaves (or any greenery you have should work well)

Instructions:

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First take your coat hanger and make into a circle.

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Next cut your bay leaf branches to the right length and place around the coat hanger.

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Tie the branches onto the wire.

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Continue add leaves until the wire is covered and you have the amount of leaves on the wreath you desire.

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Finally, wrap the twine around the coat hanger wire hook at the top.

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This was really quick to make and I am hoping it will last really well throughout the  Christmas holidays. It will also be great to have so many dried bay leaves for cooking now! This wreath would be easy to make with other greenery from the garden or neighbourhood, whatever you can find!

Thanks for reading my post.

Andi

 

Lemon curd recipe- homemade gift jars…

Homemade Lemon Curd – a great gift in a jar this Christmas and very easy to make!

Lemon curd and Maori bread

I wasn’t planning on making homemade Lemon Curd today, but one of my sons came home from university for the holidays. He brought with him a suitcase of clothes and a half eaten jar of Lemon Curd and told us, “no one was allowed to eat it but him”. To save disputes breaking out I told everyone I would make some for all of them to share.

Then, I decided it would also be a great opportunity to make a couple of jars as gifts for work colleagues. Who doesn’t like receiving homemade Lemon Curd at Christmas?

Looking for a good recipe I went to my mum’s old recipe book, Mrs.Beeton’s Household Management. I love old recipe books!

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Check out this beautiful inscription my dad wrote in it for my mum for Christmas 1958.

Inscription from my dad to my mum Christmas 1958

Inscription from my dad to my mum Christmas 1958

I used the recipe in the book, but adapted to update measurements.

Ingredients

3-4 lemons depending on size (you need ½ cup lemon juice and 2 Tbsps. Lemon zest)

¼ lb butter (115 grams/4oz/ ½ cup/1 butter stick)

1 ½ cups sugar

4 eggs

1/8 tsp salt (I don’t put this in as I use salted butter)

Method

Put the sugar, butter, lemon zest and strained lemon juice into pot (I use a double boiler, which is a pot onto of a pot of water, but you don’t have to do this). Then stir until the sugar is dissolved.

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Next, beat the eggs, and add them to contents of the pot. Stir continuously and cook slowly until the mixture thickens, can take 10-13 minutes (If it is not thickening then turn the heat up a bit!).

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The mixture should be creamy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

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Finally, remove from the heat and let it cool, stirring occasionally before you pour it into your sterilised jars. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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Lemon Curd with Maori bread

Lemon Curd with Maori bread

Thanks for reading my post! I ended up making Maori (Rewena) bread as well, see my post on how to make it here.

Andi

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional Maori (Rewena) Bread from New Zealand

I love been able to share this recipe of our wonderful traditional Maori (Rewena) bread from New Zealand. It is a bread made with a potato starter or bug that ferments and causes the bread to rise. The starter is made from boiled potato, flour, sugar and water. There is no need for yeast to be added. It has its own really great favour.

There is no better time to make this bread than Christmas, when spending time with family and friends (whanau).

You have to allow 36-48 hours for the starter to ferment before you can make the bread. So you need to plan ahead!

Ingredients for starter:

1 medium potato

1 cup flour

1 tsp sugar

1 cup water

Instructions for starter:

First, peel and chop the potato into small pieces.

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Boil the chopped potato in 1 cup of water in a pot with the lid on until mashing consistency.

Mash and leave to cool to lukewarm.

Mix in the flour and sugar into the potato mixture. Add more lukewarm water if needed. It needs to be pancake mixture consistency. (I always need to add more water).

Pour it into a glass bowl or mason jar and cover.

Starter

Starter

Leave in a warm place (not the refrigerator) to rise for about 24-48 hours. It should have bubbles and a yeast smell when ready.

Fermented for 36 hours

Fermented for 36 hours

If you wish to keep some for your next loaf, take out 1 Tbsp. of the mixture, put it back into your container and cover. Add ½ cup of warm potato water one day and the next 1 tsp sugar. You can also add 1- 2 Tbsp. of flour. Skip this step if you only want to make one loaf.

Ingredients for loaf:

Starter

5 cups flour

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

Instructions for loaf:

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda.

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Make a well in the middle and add the starter, mix well.

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If needed add warm water  (I always need to)

Knead for 10 minutes until firm (or for a short cut put it into the bread machine and let it knead for you)

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Knead into a ball and place in a greased dish or tin.

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Cover with a lid, tea towel or glad wrap.

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Next, set aside to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. (I did this loaf  today and it was a colder day, so I put it in a slightly warmed oven to rise).

Dough doubled in size

Dough doubled in size

Bake for 1 hour in a preheated oven at about 180 degrees C/350 degrees F (Moderate oven).

Cooked loaf

Cooked loaf

Rewena (Maori) Bread

Rewena (Maori) Bread

My family especially love this bread while it is still warm! It slices really well.

Delicious Maori bread

Delicious Maori bread

Thanks for reading my post! I really hope you get to make this Maori bread from New Zealand!

Andi

 

 

 

Easy to make rustic christmas log project…New Zealand

No mantel and fireplace – make a rustic wooden log box…

We don’t have a mantel and fireplace so I decide to make a really quick rustic wooden log project to give that winter log, pine smell, Christmas feel to our living room…

 

Supplies needed:

Wooden crate

Logs

Juniper or some pine looking cuttings

Pine cones

Christmas white lights

Rustic wooden log project:

This project didn’t take long, but it really fun to do.

I had found a discarded wooden crate the other week and was saving it for a project. First I lightly painted it using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old Ochre. It probably didn’t need painting, but it had some writing on it from the liquor store I found it outside of, so to get rid of this I painted. I love painting as well, so any excuse. You could use any paint you have handy! The paint dried within an hour because I only did a very light coat and it was a hot day today.

unpainted wooden crate

unpainted wooden crate

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old Ochre

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old Ochre

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Next I put the logs, which had been recently cut from a tree in our yard, into the crate.

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When I was out walking the dog this morning I came across some juniper in the neighbourhood. Fortunately, no one was looking as I trim off some of the tree! It was a large tree so I am sure no one would have minded. I arranged the juniper with pretty light blue berries around the outside of the logs on the crate.

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Then the lights, placing them down into the box and around the logs.

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Finally, I place the pine cones I collect earlier this week for my branch Christmas tree post, putting them onto of the juniper and lights.

Rustic Christmas log project

Rustic Christmas log project

It looks so cute can’t wait until it gets dark tonight to really see how wonderful it looks!

Thanks for reading my post! Hope you give my rustic wooden log box a try!

Andi

 

 

 

 

Simple branch Christmas tree…New Zealand

A simple  branch Christmas tree is so quick to make, looks fantastic and can be a great alternative to a traditional tree…

If you are like me and looking for something different this year, don’t have the time or even the space for a traditional tree try this:

I was on my way home this afternoon and stopped to have a look at a local reserve where I knew there would be pine cones. I was excited to find some great branches on the ground that could be made into a branch Christmas tree. It had some lovely moss on it which was even better for this purpose.

There were some natural things for decorations as well and when I got back home I picked some little crab apples from the garden to add some red colour to them.

Supplies needed:

Branches

Pine cones

Decorations

Scissors

Galvanized bucket (I brought mine at Kmart)

Floral foam (optional)

Twine

Instructions:

Start by placing your branches in floral foam (if you have some, I already had some left over from a florist bouquet in a little burlap bag, so I used this for convenience).

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Galvanized bucket

Galvanized bucket

Then carefully place into the galvanized bucket. Or a large jar would work, as long as it doesn’t topple over everything is on the branches.

Put the pine cones on top.

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Next using twine tie up the berries, nuts, natural decorations onto the branches.

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Finally, add any other decorations, I used my burlap hearts and stars, which I made in a previous post, see instructions here.

And some cute little decorations I brought from trade aid, it is always nice to buy things from companies that support third world countries.

trade aid Christmas ornament

trade aid Christmas ornaments

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Thanks for reading my post! I have also made a pallet Christmas tree, see here. Have you made an alternative Christmas tree this year?

Andi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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