Crafternoon is a great little cafe in Carlton where craft activities appear alongside coffees, cakes and foccacias on the menu. Your little’uns can collage, paint and draw letting their imaginations run wild, while you are all served lunch or maybe just meet up with friends for a cuppa.
This is such a fun way to spend the day. I have been there with Ava twice now and both times we have ended up staying for hours while Ava and her friend ‘get their craft on’ while I get to drink tea and chat ’til my heart is content.
Collage creation and decorating a little trinket box would have been heaven for me as a child and although we can get crafty at home, getting out to this lovely little cafe is a great solution to cabin fever, and raiding someone elses craft stash is also a bit of a buzz. The food part of the menu is quite nice aswell, offering normal cafe fare including a pumpkin and fetta wrap so delicious I ordered it both times. There are some great options for children, catering for them in size and not compromising in quality, the way a typical ‘kids menu’s’ can.
With winter on it’s way crafternoon is a great place to keep in mind for anyone able to grasp a pencil. The staff are helpful and cruisy and really didn’t seem to mind us parking ourselves there for the day while we played, ate and drank.
Crafternoon Cafe is at 531 Nicholson St Carlton 3054 and is open Mon & Thu-Fri 7am-5pm, Tue 7am-10pm, Sat 8am-5pm and Sun 8.30am-5pm. Wear clothes that can handle texta marks, glue spots and glitter so you can truely relax and it is worth booking, so call 03 9077 6998.
After Ava’s latest night in history, with dinner in the city, Easter morning started a little late for us. At 10 am Ava woke and together we found the first easter egg the bunny had left. All too quickly the pretty pink foil was off and the egg shaped chocolate was heading for her mouth (a skill I think she had mastered at childcare on Thursday) Being the big bad parents we are, we intercepted the little feast with the promise of more eggs to come, putting a dressing gown and boots on and handing her a basket she was ready for the hunt.
I had been looking forward to the easter egg hunt this year. While Ava had a good go at it last year, this year came with so much anticipation and more searching skills than she had before. Although, I was not prepared for quite how good she would be, spotting the tiny little solid eggs as she ran passed them, she would stop still, turn around and pick it up, put it in the basket, then continue on her way. The excitement and amazement was gorgeous and she was so expressive, telling me a number of times during the day ‘I am so happy’ and ‘I love chocolate mummy’.
Though her love of chocolate was so great, Ava was sharing her eggs with everyone throughout the day, even before she had had a chance to eat some herself.
Ava and I had fun this week making gingerbread eggs, bunnies and chicks to give to friends as easter gifts. I found a simple gingerbread recipe on Taste.com.au, here it is:
The Shopping List…
125g butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
And what to do with it
- Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add maple syrup and egg. Beat to combine.
- Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon over butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir until just combined and a soft dough forms. Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until smooth. Shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
- Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line baking trays with baking paper. Roll dough between 2 sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick. Using your chosen cookie cutters, cut shapes from dough. Place about 1cm apart, on prepared trays.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until just firm to touch. Stand on trays for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Ava chose the sprinkles she wanted to use and we had a mini production line with me icing them and Ava covering them in sprinkles. So much fun and we are both quite proud of the results.
During a recent trip to the beach I decided to collect some water and make my own sea salt. I was inspired a long time ago by the beautiful blog Not Without Salt and more specifically this post. Not Without Salt is full of amazing recipes but for me the reason I love to visit is for the gorgeous food photography. So not only does she make me want to make better food, she makes me want to take better photo’s – motivating me in so many ways.
Something I have learnt about myself is that I am addicted to creating – I love the satisfaction of making something. Whether is be knitting row after row to make a simple scarf, painting an old piece of furniture, sewing a garment or designing an entire visual identity for a company, creating things and making them beautiful makes me happy. The downside of this is that I feel kind of empty when I am not doing something that produces results that I can see. So although holidays are lovely they often take me away from these loves in my life.
This little salt experiment was kind of a way for me to create something while relaxing on the beach with my family. The actual making of the salt didn’t come until I was at home in the kitchen, but the collection of the water gave the promise of the new little project. As Ava and I collected shells, feathers and sticks from the beach I talked with her about what we were going to do with the water and wondered myself whether it would actually work.
When Ava was small and I had just started going to mother’s group one of the other mothers brought along a delicious apple cake. I devoured my piece and politely accepted when another was offered, conveniently blaming breastfeeding and the need for calories on my extensive appetite.
Thankfully The Mummy shared the recipe with me and since then it has been my ‘go to’ recipe when heading to someones house for morning tea. It takes no time to mix up and only 45min to bake, making it perfect for last-minute emergencies, impressing people just that little more when you serve it warm. Aside from apple you can substitute different fruits – it is a very versatile little recipe. I have made it with apricots before but I recently made it with pears for the Mums at playgroup and I think this would be my favourite so far.
Easy Apple Cake
The shopping list
3/4 cup wholemeal self raising flour
3/4 cup self raising flour
3/4 cup white sugar
125g melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 Granny smith apples, sliced and lightly stewed or 400g tin of pie apples
Some extra sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling
A greased 20cm springform tin (It also handy to put a circle of baking paper in the bottom)
A large mixing bowl
What to do with it…
Preheat oven to 180°C
Mix sifted flours, sugar, egg, melted butter and vanilla
Press 3/4 of mixture into the tin
Spread fruit on top
Press small pieces of the remaining mixture over the top of the fruit
Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until nicely browned on top
Note: If you don’t have a 20cm springform, an 18cm is better than larger
You can sprinkle toasted almond flakes at the end
Also nice with pears, peaches or apricots
I feel as though super hot days are as restrictive (if not more so) that wet stormy days, so when it was 38 degrees last week we decided to stay inside and have a little crafty session. It was all about christmas, involved lots of red paint and was a fun way to deal with the heat.
First we painted a Kraft paper reindeer that I had bought from Spotlight. Ava was totally focused, covering the whole reindeer with red paint, only needing a little help at the end to finish him off. It I so nice to watch her concentrate like that. We then moved on to free form painting and then on to potato stamping, making Christmas cards and a little bit of wrapping paper.
I had attempted potato stamping with Aoife, from Pomp, and her lovely girls a few years ago but it just didn’t happen for us. We had a ball trying it but I think our main set back, with actually making some lovely wrapping paper, was the complexity of the shapes we were trying to create. This time I kept it very simple which made it easy to get a result and with a little bit of scepticism from the previous failed attempt I didn’t start the project with high expectation so any result was a good one.
The finished outcome was lovely and there will be a few of our creations going out into the world to wish our loved ones a Merry Christmas.
Have you been doing any Christmas Craft lately? How do you deal with the ridiculous heat?
Making the most of this beautiful weather makes for a busy weekend. After our lovely day out to Bundoora Park Children’s Farm, on Sunday we decided to keep it local again and head to the Diamond Valley Railway in Eltham.
Diamond Valley Railway is a miniature railway that runs, Steam, Deisel and Electric trains along a 2km track. It is community run and is no less than absolutely amazing. The quality of the trains and the upkeep of the grounds is really impressive and the 15 min ride on the train only costs $3 (free for children under 2)
I think I kind of expected there to be just one train going around in a circle but there was so much more. Along your journey you travel alongside others trains, through tunnels, over bridges and waving to everyone that you pass. There was a lot of waving. I was very impressed and it was very hard to take the smile off my face. Ava liked it too but held on tight and had the same poker face that she wears when riding horses.
After our trip on the train we found a spot in the shade of the trees to have our picnic lunch. I strongly recommend taking your lunch with you, they don’t have food vendors there (apart from an icecream truck) and it is really nice to sit down and watch other people go past for a while and do some more waving.
As part of the same parkland was also a football oval, playground and pony rides which we passed on this time. Diamond Valley Railway is at Eltham Lower Park, Eltham, Victoria 3095 and is open Sundays 11am – 5pm and most Public Holidays.
After some quiet days at home during the week Ava was looking forward to getting out in the wide world and stretching her legs and even though we moved into our current house over nine months ago, we still feel quite new to the area and we definitely have a lot to discover. So on Saturday we decided to go to Bundoora Park Children’s Farm and Heritage Village.
It was an overcast morning but pleasant enough for a stroll around as we said hello to horses, pigs, alpacas, goats, chickens, ducks, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs, and a talking cockatoo who was polite enough to ask us “how you going?” After we had done the rounds and had climb on one of the playgrounds it was time to feed the babies. The lambs and and kids were gorgeous and as we walked into their barn it was as if they all called out to us, sounding like a class of children calling out “MUM… MUUUM!”. Feeding time was popular with both the animals and visitors and once the milk bottles were handed out it was a flurry of excited goats and lambs, jumping around and pushing through to get as much as they could, and in no time and the milk was gone.
Ava got so excited at one stage she took off on a run so fast that her feet slid out from under her and she landed face first in the gravel track. After a cuddle and a clean up it was as if nothing had happened and she was off talking to the chickens again. Ava loves animals but is wary and thoughtful when around them so when she gets a chance to have a pony ride she jumps at it, she just doesn’t look as thrilled while it is happening. Being her second ride on a horse she was an old hand and needed no instruction by Daragh, myself or the handler, however when she came around the corner and spotted me she started pointing and calling out ‘look it’s Mummy’ both Daragh and I were calling back ‘hold on! Two hands, Ava!’
Ava was chuffed with the playground by the cafe and her favourite part had to be the tractor, which I also thought was quite cool. Daragh and I sat in the trailor while Ava drove us to ‘play school’. There are two other really large playgrounds outside the Childrens farm in the public space of Bundoora Park allowing for plenty of fun for kids and leaves you spoilt for choice.
I wasn’t really excited by the Heritage Village, although I don’t think it was in full swing while we were there (not really swinging at all to tell you the truth) but I think there is more happening at other times. Two Sundays a month they have workdays at the blacksmiths barn which I think would be nice and I would also like to see their printing press in action.
Bundoora Park Children’s Farm and Heritage Village is at 1069 Plenty Road, Bundoora, VIC 3083
I am by no means an expert when it comes to making cookies but recently I have been fortunate enough to read an awesome article written by someone who is. Lindsey’s article over on Design Mom is entitled 8 Secrets to The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie, as I am not an amazing cook mine weren’t quite perfect but I do believe they would almost rank as amazing, especially when they were still fresh from the oven.
The shopping list
1 cup (225 grams) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I only used about 1 1/2 cups as that was all that was in the packet I had, it seemed to be enough for me)
…And what to do with it
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat for 5 minutes on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for another minute after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well.
Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture in two or three additions, mixing on low speed just until the flour is incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips using a silicone spatula or the mixer on low speed.
Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving a few inches of room between them. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking time. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
This was an easy recipe to make amd they were so delicious (must go for an extra run this week) but I recommend looking at the tips over at Design Mom. Little things, like getting your butter and eggs to room temperature before you begin, can make all the difference. There are also a number of other useful articles in the Living Well series like 6 Secrets to a properly ironed shirt and 4 secrets to a well mended wardrobe.
Not being a super girly girl I don’t make it a habit of covering my daughter (or myself) in pink frills and sparkles. So when Ava and I received an invitation to a 3 year olds ‘Pony princess party’ I was surprised that I was actually quite excited.
We did happen to have enough pink in the wardrobe to put together her outfit, the main item being her ‘fairy skirt’ that she wears around the house when she is in the mood for dressing up and the only item I needed to buy was the tiara. I managed to find one in the party store nearby that was silver plated with lovely rhinestones and was just $5. The plastic ones are lighter for littlies, but I find the clips stick into their head in a funny way and this one just had a bit more ‘bling’ about it.
Before we left home I took Ava outside for a few pics. I don’t know if it was the tiara on her head or having her Dad there to cheer her on but it was like I was photographing a different girl. She normally does everything she can to look in the other direction or run away but today, not only was she staying put, I was actually getting poses. It definitely helps to have an assistant.
An extra special treat at the party, aside from the delicious food and beautiful decorations, was two little ponies for the children to dote over. ‘Sparkles’ the bigger of the two was there for the children to take turns having a ride up and down the garden and the smaller one, ‘Pip Squeak’ was purely for patting, primping and preening. It was wonderful, Ava hung out with Pip Squeak for ages brushing her hair and watching her eat. It was very sweet.