Archive for the ‘Domestic’ Category

Ghosts of Halloween

Posted by Sweets under Domestic, Photos

I am writing this as the ghosts of the Halloween party lay around me.The party went well this year, once more it got mostly left to the last minute, and once more there are promises that we will start earlier next year!

Friday night we had a pre-party party, gathering friends around to carve pumpkins.. Mine is the skull in the top hat, DmentD did the tiki monkey and one of the oogies. We were happy we ended up with a couple of tikis as they fitted in with the vague theme.

The house was decorated up with the usual plethora of bits and pieces, we made a giant tiki as the entry way, with smoke coming out of his eyes. I painted a few tikis with flourescent paint to put in the bar with all the black lights.

DmentD got out his stir-plate (used for brewing) and we put some tonic water in it so it glowed next to the black lights and looked interesting in the bar.

We gained some flamingos in the garden too!

Since games had only been mildly popular last year we decided to stick with just the one game. And if we were doing just the one game we wanted to provide incentive to play. A pair of their very own unopened skele-flamingos was the prize.

We had the usual entry fee of a portrait as you entered.. we only missed a couple of people this year!

Much fun was had, we of course managed to over cater. Food we made will be appearing on Curious Confections over the next few weeks.

Sunday night we stayed in and relaxed, handing out sweets to the kids that came round.

Knitting Skulls

Posted by Sweets under Domestic, Photos

8 months later I’m finally finished. I started this scarf for DmentD as a project after Christmas. It wouldn’t take long and then I could get started on teaching myself socks.

After lots of picking it up and putting it down and having it sat of the coffee table staring at me… accusing me of abandoning it, I finally got the gumption to finally finish it. A few afternoons of really working on it, while watching the first two seasons of The Tudors, and it’s done.

It took so long as it has a pattern, so I couldn’t just sit back and knit, I had to be looking at the pattern, seeing what came next. Though, 8 skulls later I needed the pattern less! It’s what is known as an illusion pattern, from straight on the scarf looks innocuously stripy. Look at it from the side though, and the pattern is revealed.

DmentD wanted a long scarf.. An obscenely long scarf. This is certainly it. With each skull and crossbone coming in at just over a foot the scarf measures 8.8 feet.. it stretches a little as you wear it too so it seems longer. The tassles take it to 9 feet even.. I think that counts as obscenely long!

And now, I still don’t get to teach myself socks. Since everyone is sprogging (don’t drink the water!) I plan on knitting some cute adorable baby things first.

What A Load Of FUFF

Posted by Sweets under Domestic

It’s that time of the year, when the sun swelters down upon us, and my legs are covered in a myriad of insect bites. DmentD’s work organises a boat trip.

So out we trek to Lake Travis. This year they had enough people to hire two of the party barges and they were roped together for the trip so people could wander from boat to boat.

We sailed out, enjoying the breeze from the movement and being out on the lake, and docked, thankfully in the shade.

There was much food and drink (we took two of our latest beers, and the hard lemonade for it’s first test run in public), and joy and merriment. Neither of us swam at all but a good time was had (the leis were to show we had paid.. itchy round the neck so mine went round the hat).

One Year On

Posted by Sweets under Domestic, Photos

This Saturday just passed (the 8th) DmentD and I celebrated our first anniversary. That’s right, a whole year has passed since we tied the knot, time flies!

We were at a crawfish boil on Saturday and I was working, so we celebrated on the Friday night. We decided to go out to dinner, somewhere we had wanted to go for a while, but hadn’t made it to yet. So we headed off to North By Northwest, a restaurant who also happens to be a brewery.. or is that the other way around? Either way, DmentD was very impressed by the beers, he got a sampler, and we were both very impressed by the food. I had a duck breast with a madeira reduction on a roasted garlic and parmesan polenta.

We were joined by friends for dessert and coffee, though the dessert beat me!

Of course we took photos.. Some DmentD knew about and posed for…

And some he didn’t *grins* As he waxed lyrical about the beer he was tasting.

And he had to take one of me too *pulls faces*

In other news we have our hard lemonade on the go for my birthday brew. And we’ve started a one gallon test batch of bochet mead. Where the honey is slowly caramelised (which took two and a half hours of stirring near constantly.. I had a book in one hand and the spoon in the other!) until it’s so dark if you blink it’ll be burnt. Then water is added and yeast to ferment it. While taking photos of it, I realised it was so dark we were reflected pretty well in it.. it’s not the best photo ever, but it entertains me.

This weekend I’ll be working on a Beatles themed cake.

Catch Up

Posted by Sweets under Domestic, Photos, Random

Life has been plodding along, in the way that it does. We’ve been busy with CC amongst other things.

We’re onto our 5th brew now.. well 4th beer and 1 mead.. it’s still a long way off but I can’t wait for the mead to be done. It’s all such an interesting process, I’m persuading DmentD to write a series of posts on how to brew for CC.

Sadly, my camera, that has served me well over the past year and a bit, took a death defying leap from the kitchen table.. that wasn’t so death defying.. It died! I was trying to get that >just perfect< shot of me piping crosses onto the hot cross buns and failed! Thankfully I managed to save the photos already on there and used DmentD’s old broken camera to get a couple finished shots, not the greatest, but acceptable. So a new camera was duly ordered and arrived quicker than the estimate – thankfully. I hadn’t realised how many things I had gotten in to the habit of taking photos of until I couldn’t!

So this morning I was out in the garden playing about with settings and seeing what I could do with close ups and macro shots.. I need to find a place I can take wide-angle photos too to play about and see what I can do with them.

We had our crawfish boil at the start of the month. I made two king cakes (a cinnamon and a cream cheese) and then some cafe su da ice cream and Guinness ice cream. The Guinness one still needs some work, but the cafe su da was a huge hit with most of the half gallon I made getting eaten up!

Work is still going well, I’m enjoying it and had my first pay check last week.. always a good thing!

While sorting through photos I realised I had the ones from the Sherwood Forest Ren Faire that I hadn’t uploaded, how very lax of me! I didn’t even write about the day! It wasn’t a huge faire, not as big as the one we go to in Autumn. But it was only their first year. Taking that into consideration it was pretty impressive. We spent a few hours wandering about and having a good time, and of course, I got my first sun burn of the year! And, I got my bronze pendant to go on my necklace, I’ve been idly looking for a while, but couldn’t see anything that resonated enough for me to want to wear it all the time, since I wear my necklace all the time.. Well, I found something.. now I just need DmentD to re-do my necklace so we can string it on there. The rest of the photos from the day are in the gallery.

March has been an interesting month, we’ve been run off our feet.. in a good way.

Since I’m posting more over on Curious Confections most of the interesting stuff we’ve been up to has been written up over there.

Techmunch was a fantastic day. I learnt plenty, that I’m trying to gradually put into practice. I met lots of wonderful people (my blogroll increased tenfold!) and ate plenty of good food! Well, no one’s going to host an event for food bloggers without making sure there’s some good food on hand. Our food was provided by Parkside, a restaurant on 6th St here in town, that also happened to be the venue. And we had cupcakes from Sugar Mama’s.

I’m trying to involve myself more on the Austin Food Blogger scene, they’re having a potluck in the park next month that I’d like to go to and meet some more people.

We had a jaunt to New Orleans for a birthday party, with a cake in tow. We had the party on the Saturday and we ate our way across the town on the Sunday. Good times! It was a whistle stop visit, but I even helped with some of the drive!

Last week I started my new job. Regular scheduled hours, knowing that I will actually finish when I’m scheduled to finish, near enough to cycle to and from (even if the from trip seems much harder!), fun and entertaining, I’m learning lots and I get tips.. even if I have to declare them so I’ll get taxed on them. I’ll be working Easter Sunday, and on Saturday so I’ll miss half of our crawfish boil.. I’m still making sweet treats for it though.

I can’t believe it’s the end of March, time is flying, I need to get my bike tuned up while I can get it for free, there’s a food and wine festival coming up next month that looks interesting, and my favourite people from the farmers market – Full English, are working to open their own cafe not too far from here!

Familial Visit

Posted by Sweets under Domestic, Photos

The last week in January saw my family braving the transatlantic flights to come and visit us here. Well, technically they flew the week prior and spent time in Florida having a good time.

Deciding to drive from Florida to Austin we went to meet them in NOLA to spend the weekend there, letting my Mum and DmentD’s Mum meet! We had the Saturday together to wander about town. Morning coffee at Cafe Du Monde, a walk around the French Market, and the French Quarter. Stopping at St Louis Cathedral to replicate a photo mum took there 30 years ago. And then on to Crescent City Brewhouse for a snack before we went on the river boat.

While we were stood waiting the fog started rolling in off the river and by the time we left dock it was thick around us. Most of the trip we were surrounded, you could catch glimpses of things if you were on the top deck. We came out of the fog right at the point where we were turning around to go back! It was still fun, and oddly atmospheric. We had lunch on board which was surprisingly good, and were able to go into parts of the engine room to be nosy!

We walked around a few shops and then headed off to Lola’s for dinner, followed by Angelo Brocado’s for ice cream!

We drove back into Austin on Sunday to spend Monday being good and lazy having BBQ for lunch and then homemade jambalaya for dinner.

Tuesday promised to be the nicest day of the week so we headed downtown. Stopping in at my work for lunch and then a walk to the capitol building, we went on the Duck Tour. It was slightly different to when I did it 3 years ago, on my first visit to town, and was still interesting. It was a newer vehicle too, much nicer!

We ended the day by going out to the Oasis for dinner, I’d not been there before. Beautiful views, even when the sunset wasn’t all that spectacular, and good food.. Nice cocktails too!

We took them round the games shops, and introduced them to Amys Ice Cream and the Alamo Draught house, we made them some authentic gumbo too.

The end of the week we took a side trip to San Marcos to visit the outlet mall.

Their trip coincided (on purpose) with my graduation from the TCA. The Friday night had an open house at the school, for free food and a chance to show them round the place. The ceremony was Saturday morning.

DmentD and I were up bright and early to make sure I got there in good time, so I could get my photos done without queuing for hours. Badly organised, the students were told where we needed to be and what we needed to be doing with little time to spare, I was glad I’m halfway through the alphabet so I could see what other people were doing! It was nice to see people from class and catch up, and the instructors too.

I got the gold braid for graduating Summa Cum Laude, the medal on the blue ribbon for attendance, and the pin just for graduating *grins*

The Saturday evening we invited people round, a belated wedding celebration (we promised to put it off until my family visited), a graduation celebration and a ‘hey, here’s my family’ celebration *grins* We pulled together a cake, baking it Friday night and decorating it Saturday, DmentD made some of the ever popular family ribbon cookies and we cooked a whole pork loin that we’re still eating!

It was a fun week, and now I’m back to the grind! Work should start picking up finally with Valentines day on its way.

Rest of the photos in the usual spaces

It’s 2010 Already

Posted by Sweets under Cooking, Desserts, Domestic, Photos

I’m sure someone promised me a hover car, or something along those lines, by now!

I figured it was about time I got round to uploading photos and letting people know how the holidays went. I took far less photos this year, why take photos of decorations that I took photos of last year! We decorated the house up nicely though, we even made a hat for Gustav, the Germanic looking skull that we got at Halloween and decided should stay out all year round (he got a New Years party hat too).

Our big project was making Christmas presents. Using the new chocolate molds I had, and finally using the gorgeous chocolate book DmentD got me last Christmas!

We had good fun, we made three types of chocolates, taffy and peppermint sticks, and dog bones too! Two of the chocolates were molded, a caramel ganache and a cherry bounce cordial. The third (a white chocolate lemon) was piped out and had sugar crystals grown on it to form a shell, it’s a fascinating process and fun to watch, it also produces the prettiest most unique looking truffle.

The taffy was a work out, and since we were using a silicon mat due to a lack of marble (which we now have – Yay!) it was made a fair bit harder. The mat buckled and caught the spatulas (because I’m failing to remember what they’re called) and eventually tore causing a mad panic to rescue what we could! After all that we still had to pull it to aerate and stretch out!

The investment in a heat lamp was well worth it for the peppermint sticks.. though another one would be helpful. We used isomalt instead of sugar, it’s more stable and less hygroscopic it can also be cooked to much higher temperatures. The added bonus is it has a low glycemic index making it safe for diabetics! That was cooked to over 300F and then poured out onto my trusty silpat. Worked so it cooled evenly it was pulled a little to introduce air, turning it from clear to silvery (then as it cooled to white). Keeping it warm under the lights we then pulled a little at a time and twisted them together.. It’s definitely something we need practice at, they weren’t all that consistent but they looked entertaining.

I firmly believe I was thoroughly spoiled at Christmas. My stocking was full of English goodies, Walkers shortbread, Mr Kipling mince pies, Quality Streets, Malteasers and After Eights! Then some awesome gingerbread men cutters (Already been chewed!), a gorgeous book on Artisan chocolates, the Professional Pastry Chef and DmentD and I both managed to give each other Unseen Academicals!

Christmas Eve we had the now traditional Chinese meal. Christmas Day was spent at a friend’s house, we made ribbon cookies and pecan pies for dessert. The following Wednesday we went to see Sherlock Holmes (awesome) and then off to another friend’s house for New Years eve and a glow in the dark party. I attacked a t shirt with some florescent paint, and DmentD painted a skull on his face.

New Years Day called for the traditional meal at our place, stewed cabbage, black eye peas, ham and an English dish, this year mini Cornish Pasties.. I had intended to make larger ones, but failed to make enough pastry, mini ones worked out well, I believe most people ate them as an appetiser (and all the excess filling went into a Beef Bourgiugnon on Sunday). I also made gingerbread men with the new cutters.. having far too much fun piping on drips of blood! I used it as an opportunity to try out a new recipe as well, for a gingerbread apple upside down cake.. I don’t think we’ve had any cake go down so well in one sitting! I used a mix of granny smith and honeycrisp apples and it was moist and tasty and delicious!

This week saw me determined to finally get my Texas license, since I’ve been putting it off since September. I took the theory test on Monday and couldn’t believe the different between it and the English test (or the difference in costs). My practical test will be taken at some point in the future.. I know when.. I’m just not saying *grins*

December Update

Posted by Sweets under Domestic

I’ve been lax I know, almost an entire month since my last post. December has apparently been a busy month.

It started with a cake for the local Astronomy Society, swiftly followed by us inviting everyone round to put up Christmas decorations and feeding them with a giant bowl of chili.

We’ve been doing some more bread making, still working on the sourdough, and trying out a potato bread. The potato bread seemed a little bland to me but the sourdough is definitely a nice loaf, still not much of a sour flavour, but it has a nice flavour and texture.

Work has flitted between being inhumanely busy (with far too many cakes in one week, more than we have storage space for, we had to get creative), and dead to the world.. I was in fact supposed to be working today, but there was nothing for me to do so I got a lay in instead.

DmentD and I went to see the Princess and the Frog, it was a cute film, and I personally liked to see Disney going back to cel animation, I hope they do some more.

We have also been working on Christmas presents, more information on that after the holidays, suffice to say it has been killing me having to keep quiet about it! It has been exciting.

I made a nice big pot of turkey stew, to get me in the winter mood ad we invited people round to watch The Hogfather, hopefully starting a Christmas tradition!

Tomorrow we are round to a friend’s house for Christmas dinner, and at some point before the New Year we’ll be going to see the new Sherlock Holmes film.

My love and best wishes to any and all who are reading this, hope you have a splendiferous Christmas and your New Year is prosperous and happy.

Happy Holidays

Thanksgiving

Posted by Sweets under Domestic

A much more leisurely trip this year we set off just after midday Wednesday to head to New Orleans for Thanksgiving. We did catch a lot of holiday traffic leaving town and then again in Houston, plus some roadworks so it took us til 11 to get there. We got a little rental car to save wear on the truck (and to be more efficient) so it took the trip to get used to being so low down on the road! I was standing up to get out the car rather than jumping down *grins*

Thursday – Thanksgiving day – we spent with DmentD’s family, his Mum put on a wonderful spread, we brought some of the gumbo home with us! We played a few games and relaxed  lots and ate even more *grins* a nice day together.

Black Friday we wanted to avoid anywhere with shops, so we went off to the Audobon zoo. We got there not long after opening so it was still quiet and we were able to park near by! It’s a nice zoo, not as large as I had been lead to believe but interesting to walk around. We spent about 4 hours there, and I took over 240 photos, I averaged about a photo a minute *grins* I chose a select few to upload here, didn’t fancy putting them all up! It was a really enjoyable morning. We messed about and acted like kids, taking photos playing with the sculptures, and ‘climbed’ to the top of Monkey Hill. There were a lot of interesting exhibits, a Mayan section with ant eaters and jaguars and the Louisiana Swamp with alligators, nutrea, bears and racoons. They had some white tigers, and we spent a while watching the orangutans playing.

In the evening we went out to our all time favourite restaurant in town – Lolas. Spanish Creole, killer garlic mushrooms and a paella to die for *grins* We headed to Angelo Brocado’s for dessert, gelato!

Saturday we met some friends for breakfast and then went and did what we’ve been talking about doing the past few visits. Go to the cemetary! As New Orleans is below sea level the dead aren’t allowed to be buried straight in the ground, so mausoleums and crypts are built with everyone wanting to show how rich and prosperous they were. We went to Lake Lawn, one of the more well kept cemeteries I’m told, and spent a while wandering about taking photos of some of the more interesting pieces of statuary and stained glass. We were there at a nice time of day to catch the sun shining through some of the glass. And while taking photos of the castle we met a couple walking their dogs who told us about the weeping angel so we finished the visit by finding her.

Saturday we spent with friends, playing the wii and having a good time. DmentD and I bought a new game that allows us to sit on the balance board (which we may now need to get *grins*) as a control, for a game where you’re sledding down the mountain on a cow! We had a fun evening and got home late!

Friday night we had seen a poster for an exhibition at the Museum of Art. So Sunday morning we decided to visit there and see what it was about. It was a Disney display, Dreams Come True, in New Orleans only to commemorate the opening of The Princess And The Frog which is set there. It showed the history of their animation, taking us from the Silly Symphonies, through Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, finishing with a display on The Princess And The Frog. It showed processes and techniques that had been pioneered in those films, preliminary sketches and story boards and character development. It was a fascinating display, we spent a few hours there, using up all our allotted time so we didn’t get to see the rest of the Museum.. but then that exhibition was the whole reason for our visit so I’m not really bothered about missing the rest of it.

We spent a little more time visited with family, and napping, before leaving New Orleans about 8 in the evening. We got back home about 4 this morning, grabbing a sleep before returning the rental car, then I headed back to bed for a few more hours.

I got home and discovered my new glasses, I was being the guinea pig and trying out an internet company, Eye Buy Direct. They weren’t too expensive and took precisely as long as they said they would, the glasses fit and seem just fine (though it’s raining now so I can’t wear the sunglasses *grins* I think I cursed us!). I would say they met expectations all around. If anyone else is interested I would recommend them, and can send you a coupon code for money off!

As usual, the full selection of photos are in the gallery