Monday 10 December 2012

Ingress T-shirts

My husband did up a T-shirt of the Ingress logo, and posted the result to the G+ #Ingress stream. He's pretty proud of it - you can see it here. He was even more chuffed when it garnered him an invite code. Now he just has to solve the pesky technology problem that is preventing us from playing.

His was a pretty simple process - put a mask on a t-shirt, and splattered it with bleach. He used scotch tape, which didn't quite stick as well as he hoped, although we agree the flaws make the image unique.

I decided I wanted a shirt of my own, so I found myself a black shirt to start with. I wouldn't be putting the shirt in a dye bath, so I used a printed sticker as my design mask.

I haven't decided on my faction - I just liked the Enlightenment design to work with. Is Canberra under Shaper control already? The thought just makes me giggle. I do have a second black shirt like the one I used for the Enlightened shirt, and plan to make myself a Resistance version.

My Enlightened shirt would be using the bleach method, but I didn't want to go splattering in the backyard. It was a lovely day outside, a bit warm for my preference, and a light dry breeze. My creative eye had an image of a starbursty pattern coming out of the centre of the design, but when I went to put it down on fabric, oh how horrid it looked.

Think fast, how could I save it?

I never thought I'd say the answer was to relive the 80's. I'd done acid wash plenty of times as a teen. Acid wash jeans were all the rage and I'd gotten quite good at making my own.

I filled a spray bottle with undiluted bleach - with the heat and the bright sun, I had to work fast. For the original idea the shirt was on newspaper, that wouldn't work at all. I tossed the paper aside and just crumpled the shirt on the pavement and went to town with the sprayer. Every 'coat' of the shirt I would flip it over, smooth it, recrumple, then more spraying, repeat until happy.

(No final image - yet. Not totally happy with it and will be doing a bit of a fine tune first.)

For the Resistance shirt I'll use diluted bleach, and start with a damp shirt. I'm hoping this will make the bleach soak into the fabric a bit better, even though the surface of the shirt appears quite bleached, the inside is still quite untouched.

I thought I'd try another masking technique on one of Tiger-monkey's white shirts. I'd been looking for months for Elmers blue gel glue. Elmers is a North American brand, one I had trouble finding in Australia - no one I asked had ever heard of it. I couldn't even find a blue gel glue, just white glue which so far had made ugly messes of all attempts at dye masking. Last week I literally tripped over Bic's blue gel glue at the Reject Shop, and have been itching to try dyeing with it since.

I wet the shirt, and put a plastic lid in it to keep it steady. I placed a cut out piece of paper on the shirt, and put the glue down in a careful manner. I was worried I'd not used enough, and scared I'd used to much. Knowing I couldn't win that tug of war, I went with trying for an even coat with a paint brush. I set the shirt in the sun to dry the glue, which took far less than I'd read it would. Nice thing about the hot Australian summer sun, clothes dry fast!

My last attempt at tie dye was horrific. I'd rolled the fabric perfectly, and then put the elastics on so tight that the dye couldn't get anywhere. Whups!

So this time I remembered, firmly rolled fabric, relatively loose elastics. I nearly forgot to put the salt in the dye bath, and I did forget the liquid soap. (Last time I forgot both!)

I made the dye bath with off boiled water, probably 80c or so. I made the dye fairly dark, and didn't make a lot of it - not even enough to cover the shirt when placed in the bucket.

For amusement I decided to just set the roll in the dye bath, and let it soak it up. I think I left it in the dye bath for about 15 minutes, gently lifting the bucket to move the dye around, and pressing down on the elastics.

The gel glue worked a treat, and appears to have come out during the dye bath. I expected to have to remove it afterwards, so either the glue wasn't on thick enough, or the dye bath was too hot. Possibly both - as there is some dye where the glue should have stopped any colour from taking place.

Still, I love the result.

If you make your own Ingress shirt after reading this - I'd love to see it! Link it in the comments here, or on the post on G+.

Friday 7 December 2012

Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies

I may have been baking a lot more in the last two months than in the last two years... These turned out good, but silly me left them in the standard sugar cookie time, when I should have cut the time. They didn't burn, I'm guessing the roll aspect means the baked much faster than their cookie cutter counterparts.

Cinnamon Rolled Sugar Cookies
End result: Teeth breakers. Not at all appealing.

So I stuck them in an airtight container with a slice of bread, and soon they were nice and perfect.

Bread, is there anything it can't do?

*bread image by hhh316 on DeviantArt, used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Abstract Crayon Painting

Next time I do this one, I remember that shaved wax crayon has static funtime, and will get all over everything while you are working. Tiger-monkey had a great giggle at me picking up the plastic cup of crayon shavings and watching the shavings jump on to the table!

I put two 4x6 canvas down on parchment paper on a cooking sheet (in the middle of the sea...), and turned on the oven to about 160c. Once I had all of my colours shaved I then tried to arrange them on the two pieces of 4x6 canvas board.

Crayon Shavings on Canvas

When it was ready to melt I turned off the oven. I didn't trust the fan forced enough to leave it on, the last thing I needed was crayon bits all over the inside of the oven, it's bad enough the kitchen table was covered with them! As it worked out the heat was more than enough. I pulled the art out of the oven a couple times to push the melted wax to the edge of the canvas with a toothpick, before putting it back in to remelt. Repeat a couple times, and voila! I think it's art!

Melted Crayon Shavings on Canvas

Now to cover it with a clear epoxy, and hang it up!

Sunday 25 November 2012

Nanaimo Bars

For the last few months I have been craving, absolutely craving, a dessert treat I'd had occasionally in Canada before I moved to Australia. I'd never made it, it was so sweet you'd only ever have the one (or two) piece(s). If I wanted to have it Down Under, my only option was to make it.

It's not a recipe that I'd trust to Googling, and all the ones I came up with just didn't look quite right. Cue a Facebook post asking my Victoria, BC friends for help. Within minutes I had a recipe fromThe Complete Canadian Living Cookbook to start from. (Thanks Helen!!) Yes, I moved to Australia without one of the quintessential cook books of Canada. I'll have to rectify this - and try to replace my out of print Five Roses Cookbook that was lost in a flood years ago.

Nanaimo Bars

The recipe Helen gave me would make a HUGE batch, more than the 5 of us should realistically eat. (Maybe I should have waited a couple weekends, where we'd be going to a summer party...) It's on the fridge waiting for that party in December. The Canadian Living website version of the recipe Helen sent me is subtly different.

Then Diana linked me to a smaller version from the City of Nanaimo webpage. In hindsight, this should have been my starting point, having believed for many many years that Nanaimo Bars had nothing to do with the city, I'd eliminated it as a suspect from the get-go.

Then came hurdle number one. There are no Graham Crackers in Australia. (That I have been able to find here in Canberra.) I bought 3 different types of Arnott biscuits, Marie, the most recommended as a substitute, and because the image on the packaging looked right, Shredded Wheatmeal and Granita.

I had thought I'd divvy the batch into three to test, and decided I'd likely get them mixed up and have to start again. Besides, using one at a time meant more days of experimentation and treats!

Shredded Wheatmeal was Tiger-monkey's choice. Clearly, she knows something I don't. The result was PERFECT. The squares are tiny, but packed with yum. 

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Rainbow(ish) Cupcakes

Normally when I get a hankering to bake - I make C4 - Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. I'm currently on a no caffeine order, and this includes (cry) chocolate. Off to the idea factory (Pinterest) I went. Rainbow Cakes always catches my eye, and it looked simple enough. (It was.) I usually make my cakes from scratch, but lately in favour of getting things done sooner with Tiger-monkey trying to help - I've been using pre-packaged mixes. Today's mix was Butter Cake from Aldi.

I'm loving my gel dyes.
Tiger-monkey gets so excited when I go into the kitchen area - I'm guessing because she knows I make the treats in the household. (My husband makes the sustenance. He's far better at it than I am.) It may also be because I don't chase her out of the kitchen when I am working - I'm not using sharp things, or working with fire. Just stuff that makes a lot of mess. It may also be because chasing her out wouldn't work, she's inquisitive, and we always have someone run interference at dinner time. Trying to keep her hands off the cupcake liners is trouble enough!

Some I just dropped the batter in, others I tried to smooth it around. 
The red was much more RED than the pictures show. The blue was very vibrant, and the green was just amazing. The purple was a let down - maybe I didn't use enough or this particular purple isn't the purple I thought it was.

Next time green is on top. Just cause.
The two I selected fopr snacktime had very different patterns - the one in the green bowl below I think had the purple and green evenly layered, red dropped in, and blue nicely layered on top. The blue bowl you can almost see the pattern made by the purple, green and red being added in neat layers, and the blue just dropped in. If I felt like standing for longer, I'm sure I could come up with some interesting patterns.

Snack treat time!

Sunday 28 October 2012

Adventures in gardening!

This is our herb garden. Parsley, oregano, basil (lots and lot of basil) and spring onion. The two large ones on either side are our first attempt at growing peas - before we decided we were going to plant a real garden. A pretty daunting feat for my husband and I - we both figure we are missing the gardening gene.

I subscribe to the critical mass theory of gardening, once there is enough plants, it's easier to care for, and grows better. Tiger-monkey has been very active in the gardening, she makes sure we check the plants every day.

We'd first started the peas in the house - in fact the planters in this image were our third planting. We'd been tricked by the early warming, planted our indoor started seedling, and then the cold snap killed everything. The second try we started everything indoors, decided the weather wasn't going to turn on us, and planted. Then the weather turned on us, and everything died again.

Third try has been slow going - night weather perhaps a bit too cold, or just plain bad luck. One of the planters has potato in it, and the potato plants are taking over that pot.

We're just glad the plants themselves have survived this long, anything they provide is a bonus. Now that Tiger-monkey has figured out there are peas (her favourite) in the garden, we may not see any more!

Fourth try we decided would go into a real honest to goodness garden. We started off with empty egg cartons, the soil, and strangely enough, the pea seeds. I'd a container saved from something we'd bought at CostCo, and I turned it into a terrarium to help the seeds germinate.

Hopefully destined
to become capsicum plants.
    Left out in the sun for an hour,
our terrarium works pretty well!

We cheated a bit with the honest to goodness garden, the back row is our own seedling pea plants (fourth try). Next row is the store bought tomato plants - I'm not brave enough to try tomato seedling starting quite yet! The middle part is where we will be planting cucumber, pepper, and capsicum. The front is for strawberries. There's another area where I have planted watermelon, near the lemon tree. There is an apple tree in our tiny garden as well, last year it gave over 3 dozen apples. The lemon tree gave us nearly 2 dozen fruit last year, this year we are warily taking care of it, I'm not sure it's been cared for in a very long time.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Invasion of the coloured waffles.

Waffles were on the menu for Sunday breakfast this morning, and after I'd seen a fun thing on Pinterest this past week that I thought was just too funny not to try. (Naturally, I didn't pin it, silly me!) The husband thought I was completely mental for wanting to try this, but Tiger-monkey simply LOVED it!

Coloured Waffle
The how-to is quite simple - make your waffle (or pancake) batter as you normally would. Then divide the batter into how many colours you will be making, and add food colouring. I have those awesome gel dyes that give everything brilliant colour, so we used those. 

Since this batch was more a proof of concept than anything overly fancy, we just did red, green and blue. Next time we'll make the red a bit darker, although it did turn out pretty good as a lighter shade.

Then just continue making your waffles/pancakes as you normally would. NOM!

Tiger-monkey eating her coloured waffles
Tiger-monkey, our quality tester.
That plate was full...

Tiger-monkey has this to say about breakfast: wwwwwd1fwfd1ff  fd fffffw wdsjfsdqw xgeedfedfs weddbhv!

Friday 12 October 2012

Tiger-monkey + Paint = CHAOS

Tiger-monkey + Paint = CHAOS
School holidays here in the ACT are nearing an end, and I thought I'd share one of Tiger-monkey's projects we did during the first week. As you can see from the final product below - what she started with was nothing like the end product. The brush was ditched about a third of the way into the project, and she switched to the funnier popsicle sticks. That's when her shoes really started to look great!

She's quite (rightly) proud of these shoes - she wants to wear them already but they are too big. So they sit on a shelf where she can point at them proudly and remind me (yet again) that she painted her shoes. Right now she's stolen them off my desk where I'd set them to write this, stuck them on her feet, and is now happily colouring at her desk.

Tiger-monkey's Acrylic Painted Canvas Shoes

Sunday 23 September 2012

Weird ^bleep^ on the window.

Ok, who is the wise guy?

We sat down to dinner recently, and saw this on the kitchen window. No one in the house (admits they) drew it - and it is drawn on the inside.

The next day we fogged up the window again, and the image was gone.


Thursday 20 September 2012

Blueberry Muffins!


Not too bad for an on-the-fly recipe. I didn't like either of the ones in my baking books.

Now to resist eating them all until after dinner.

Nom nom nom.

Sunday 16 September 2012


Made for a local geocaching event.

Standard sugar cookies with butter icing. I've never done icing on cookies much, its time consuming and I have a back that doesn't like me standing still.

The cookies did not survive the outing.

Tuesday 28 August 2012