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2014 Christmas Card We are huge fans of awkward family Christmas photos. You can go here and here for inspiration. Over the past few years we’ve strived to achieve our own little measure of awkwardness at Chrissy time. I’ve always felt a bit shy to share these on the blog, but have a devil-may-care attitude this year. Cheesy Christmas cards are fun to do even though they’re a lot more effort than you’d imagine. My tips are to wear matching outfits, use a camera with a tripod / timer or take individual shots and crop and position the images into a collage. This year’s creative effort involved reindeers – which are a huge deal in the world of three year olds – and my newly acquired photoshop skills.2014 Chirstmas CardLast year we dressed up as life-sized presents. We were way too big and boxy to fit in the same shot so instead we achieved a nice effect by taking individual photos against a plain white wall and creating a simple collage. Christmas Card 2013Our inaugural effort in 2013 involved matching outfits with iron-on transfer mistletoe. Husband grew a mo and we put our scratchy cat into a Santa suit. It was impossible to get everyone looking and smiling at the same time, so we let them just do their thing and I loved the way it ended up. Who said ‘never work with animals or children’?!2012 Christmas Card

Around Here

These past six months I’ve been studying graphic design as well as juggling parenting and work. It’s been intense. However it’s also been wonderful learning new skills and being around other creative like-minded people. I love being in a place where we can have in depth discussions about the finer points of printing on gloss v semi-gloss paper. I guess you could call it crack for crafty people.

In other news, we have been growing beetroot and kale in our garden. Kale is robust and plentiful but quickly takes over the garden. Beetroot are low-maintenance, well behaved vegetables that sit nicely in the soil until you’re ready to eat them. We tried growing cabbage, but it didn’t fare so well as it seemed to attract the entire insect population of our neighbourhood.BeetrootWe had our first visit from the tooth fairy, twice in two days in fact. Surely there’s nothing more gorgeous than a gap toothed smile. Our tooth fairy gives $2 a tooth. I’m not sure what the going rate is, but I’ve tried to factor in inflation since I was a child.Gappy TeethMy children are now suddenly big, independent creatures that are quite good company. To all the parents out there struggling with babies and toddlers…IT GETS EASIER. They seem to spend much of their days swimming, fighting, lego-making, snacking, fighting, crafting, cycling and fighting.Cheeky ChopsI’m really looking forward to the Christmas break and to celebrate the upcoming festivities, have some Christmas posts coming your way.

Meet the Girls

Meet the GirlsA few months ago I welcomed three lovely ladies into my home….Shirley, Dot and Betty. These pink feathered creatures reside serenely over our mantlepiece and were handcrafted only 5 hours away in Wagga Wagga, NSW by Studio Australia. Galahs are native to Australia and I’m especially fond of them as they can be seen everywhere in my home state of South Australia.

After ordering online, I was worried that the dainty ceramic birds would not survive the transit, but it turns out I needn’t be.

This organisation takes its packaging seriously.

And so do my kids.

Pizza for Picky PeopleIt’s a truth universally acknowledged that once you make your own pizza dough, it’s near impossible to buy a shop-bought base again. Not only is it insanely cheap (the cost of flour and a yeast sachet) but the results are incredibly delicious. It also becomes a family activity when you have the kids on the bench helping out with their own little ball of dough and a small rolling pin.

My trick for the little picky people in my life is to put a bunch of mixed vegetables into a food processor and blitz. The blitzed vegetables can be stirred into some organic tomato paste with a pinch of salt and pasted liberally over the pizza base and topped with grated cheese.

The pizzas look deceptively vegie free but are filled with all the sneaky goodness of kale, capsicum, mushrooms and carrot.

For a quick and easy pizza base recipe, try this one from taste.com.au.

The Summer of the ZucchiniAt the start of summer we planted a number of zucchini seedlings along the back of our yard and it wasn’t long before they’d taken over half our garden and we were reaping over a kilo of zucchinis a day. For months we had so much zucchini we couldn’t even give them away (I am continually amazed by the food we manage to produce with our neglectful gardening style.) In the last month our ‘crop’ began to slow and we think we picked our last zucchini the other day. You know zucchinis have become part of the family’s psyche when your 4-year old son starts to produce artworkΩ involving vegetables.

Roar Sweetly tips for growing zucchinis

  • Plant in full sun.
  • Leave loads of space between seedlings because these babies will grow like you can’t imagine. They’ll produce dinner-plate sized leaves and football sized zucchinis.
  • Water frequently in the early stages…then forget about them.
  • Try to pick the zucchinis when they’re slender, delightful things… before they morph into ginormous marrows (see below).

Gwyneth Paltrow CookiesI’m a little ambivalent about Gwyneth Paltrow, but I’m really starting to love her mum. These gorgeous cookies are a creation of Gwyneth Paltow’s mother and they feature in her cookbook My Father’s Daughter. They’re all the the things you would expect of a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe…sugar free, nutritious and healthy, but what suprised me was that they actually tasted like real cookies! So many sugar free recipes have a strange texture and taste, but these are just lovely.

The recipe is everywhere online if you google Lalo’s Cookies. I quarter the recipe because there’s no need for such a huge quantity of biscuits in my house, and they do start to soften after a day and lose their crunchiness. I am very fortunate to be in supply of lovely homemade jam from an aunty so I use real jam in the recipe which makes them extra special. I think little carob buds would be great also.

Lalo’s Cookies (Recipe Quartered)

Ingredients

1 cup barley flour
3/4 cup raw whole almonds crushed in a food processor (about ten 2-second pulses)
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup real maple syrup
Your favourite jam

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • Combine all the ingredients except for the jam together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.
  • Form into tablespoonful balls and space them evenly on cookie sheets.
  • Using your index finger, make an indent in each cookie. Fill each indent with a small spoonful of jam.
  • Bake until the cookies are evenly browned, about 15 or so minutes.
  • Let cool before eating.

Lalo Collage

 

A Particular Shade of Blue There’s a lot of fun you can have with a tester pot of paint from a hardware store. This particular blue is called Dulux Tropical Haven and it has a great retro look about it. I used it to revamp a few plain wooden items including a foot stool, rolling pin and old cigar box turned jewellery box. I put a light spray of clear gloss over the finished paint to seal and harden it. It really is a cheap and cheerful way to give everyday items a new lease on life.

Dulux Tropical Haven

Make Great

Make Great

Last month I took the plunge and started a self-hosted blog on presentation design to compliment my professional work. I’d love you to pop by for a visit at makegreat.com.au.

Starting a self-hosted blog has been quite a learning curve. Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • It’s great to have a proper website address and building it up this way gives you loads of new skills.
  • You have much more control over the aesthetic elements of your blog…but there’s a huge amount of technical skills required to achieve even the smallest things (thank goodness for my husband).
  • It’s quite a lonesome world outside the wordpress community, with no ready-made audience to embrace you!
  • It’s been a juggling act wearing two blogging hats and trying to switch hats when commenting on different blogs. So for the most part I haven’t been commenting but have still very much enjoyed reading everyone’s blog updates in my reader!

BookI’m still on my journey and Make Great is a long way off looking the way I want it to look. I would definitely recommend The Creative Person’s Website Builder by Alannah Moore if it’s something you’re considering.

If you’re interested in presentation design or just like to look at animal pictures, I’ve uploaded my first slide deck to Slideshare and have had a surge of views thanks to the very kind endorsement of Chiara at Tweak your Slides. I’ve included my slide deck at the end of this post.

Oh and there will be more Roar Sweetly posts coming soon!

Happy Halloween

Halloween

Vintage Sacrilege

Vintage Sacrilege [ˈvin-tij ˈsa-krə-lij]

n.

1. The violation or injurious treatment of a mint-condition vintage item.

I love all things vintage, however it’s recently occurred to me that some of the behaviour I exhibit towards my vintage collection may be a little less than admirable. Today, in the spirit of honesty, I reveal my top six acts of vintage sacrilege.

1. Cutting up vintage sheets to make fabric tape for gift wrapping.Fabric Tape

2. Ordering vintage Thunderbird 3 online for my son to tear open the packaging and use as a…toy. Vintage Thunderbird

3. Drilling holes into the bottom of tin kettles to convert into plant holders.

Vintage Kettles

4. Bedecking my toddlers’ beds in beautiful vintage quilt sets (not injurious but high risk).Vintage Childrens Bedding5. Dismembering vintage atlases in the name of craft.

Vintage Atlas Hearts

6. Dismembering vintage dictionaries, and other vintage books, in the name of craft. Vintage Book CraftThere…I’ve fessed up.

My deepest apologies to any lovers of vintage offended by this post.

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