Dec 17, 2014

DIY Chocolate truffles 3 ways

So back in the day I used to make chocolates, and sell them, and supply the odd wedding with them as favours. It was fun but I got really sick of making chocolates. To this day, people ask about them and since I finally have my chocolate-making mojo back I thought I'd share.

Here are 3 flavours that I've been making for Christmas events and gifts lately.
There's a reason this is not a baking blog - I tend to bake by eye rather than following a strict recipe. So instead of giving exact quantities, I'll try to briefly describe the method below each one!

Chocolate truffles 3 ways - recipe. by fivekindsofhappy blog
Chocolate truffles 3 ways - recipe. by fivekindsofhappy blog 

These peppermint cremes have fresh mint leaves in the filling - I got the idea from Chelsea Winter's peppermint slice recipe, and it tastes SO GOOD. The husband says "it looks like sour cream and chives" when he sees the tiny flecks of mint in the mixture, but everyone votes 300% for them including me. Mmmmm so delicious.

For the filling, the ingredients should be mixed to a smooth paste - sticky and not too firm, but not as runny as icing. You should be able to shape it into sloppy balls. Then freeze the balls to firm them up before re-rolling into perfect balls and dipping in the melted chocolate with your swizel stick, and tipping out onto a sheet of baking paper.

I topped mine with slices of green gummy lollies (cut with kitchen scissors).
When the chocolate sets, it contains the soft minty filling.

Chocolate truffles 3 ways - recipe. by fivekindsofhappy blog
Chocolate truffles 3 ways - recipe. by fivekindsofhappy blog

I wanted a chocolate that was christmassy in taste and appearance, so put a few spices into the filling (cinnamon and cardamom). BUT this is also the best base recipe for any truffle. I made some today with no spices, and just a few grains of rock salt on top of each one. So good!

For the filling, ratio the chocolate to cream at 2:1.
E.g 200gm chocolate, 100gm cream.
Melt them together and mix, then leave in fridge to set in the bowl before scooping and shaping into balls. I freeze them to make dipping in the coating easier.

Chocolate truffles 3 ways - cookie dough. by fivekindsofhappy blog
Chocolate truffles 3 ways - cookie dough. by fivekindsofhappy blog

 I feel like this combo is still considered *So American* by New Zealanders as eating cookie dough isn't really the done thing here.  But"Ewwwwwwwww" said no-one ever when confronted with raw cookie dough. This dough is eggless and I just add a bit of cream to make it softer and more truffley. You can use any basic cookie dough as a base.

These all look sweet when packaged in a bag and tied with string - happy gifting!

And by gifting I mean one-for-me-one-for-you pop-it-in-your-gob because you have to eat every single truffle that is slightly misshapen or less than perfectly spherical or that has too much chocolate on it because it's the rules. So really, happy eating!






Dec 11, 2014

I made felt donuts

I did!
They were on my Christmas/Summer bucket list and I'm so pleased they're done.

If you have tried to complete projects with a little baby before you know how it us - a snatched 5 minutes each evening after bedtime over a period of weeks/months. But here they are in all their very-imperfect sugary looking glory.

DIY Felt donuts // Amy MacLeod - Five Kinds of Happy blog

I roughly followed a few different online tutorials and the rest came out of my head. My felt colours were limited according to what the local Spotlight stocked so I didn't get all the pastel colours I wanted - just pale pink. It was fun making the different combinations tho.

DIY Felt donuts // Amy MacLeod - Five Kinds of Happy blog

You can see the stitching is very, uh, rustic in places. And some of the donuts are a little more flat than others... but I'm ok with that because they are pink and sprinkly and calorie free. Does it get better?

DIY Felt donuts // Amy MacLeod - Five Kinds of Happy blog

I'm not totally sure what to do with these yet. Originally they were going to be a future-gift for my daughter  because I'm prepared like that. I thought with a little mixing bowl, tray and mini-spatula they could make a cool gift. Maybe to go with this wooden toy 'Honeybake' cake mixer that is the stuff my living-vicariously-through-my-child dreams are made of. 

I'm also keen to use them for Christmas decorations. 

It did cross my mind to use them as part of a nursery mobile but then I wasn't sure if letting my baby fall asleep staring at pink icing donuts circling above her head every night plus 3 naps a day would send the best message about food and nutrition..


DIY Felt donuts // Amy MacLeod - Five Kinds of Happy blog

 They're cute anyway, whatever we do with them. And I can high-five myself that I didn't have to pay for them+ shipping on Etsy or equivalent. Yayyy





Dec 10, 2014

Six months and a guest bedroom teaser

We've got a few housey projects going on over here but I thought I'd better drop in and do a more personal-life update - sometimes I feel like if I don't write something down I'll forget it forever!

Six months.
I thought we'd never get here.
I distinctly remember when Ella was 2 weeks old and the midwife told us about some of her older babies who were 5 or 6 weeks of age... I was like "6 weeks??! Those babies are SO OLD. I could never relate to those mothers because they are experts by now." True story.

And then suddenly your own baby is 6 months old and you realise that for half a year you have been watching other mothers thinking "they have all got it together by now" but actually they probably didn't. Or they did, and you just suck at motherhood.
Kidding! But not actually because those are the thoughts that go through a mother's head. "We don't have a proper routine! We don't eat at set times! I have no idea how long she is going to stay asleep for!" PANIC.

If you've ever read a baby book you know that you absolutely must have control over all those things and if not... bad mummy who is screwing her whole family's life up.

Our life, clearly, is very screwed up.


In the happiest, loveliest of ways.

{"I'll eat you up, I love you so."}
 I wonder if this worry about all the things we are no doubt doing wrong will ever end. I'm guessing not? Teenagers, anyone?

Our baby had a really rough first-3-months of life and so did we. Horrible! 

But 6 months? 6 months is bliss by comparison. 6 months is 'such fun!' even tho we have definitely not resolved all our random feeding issues. Things are so improved it's like a different life.
6 months is rolling and babbling and grabbing for the things she wants. I FINALLY can get some indication of what she wants! I have been waiting for this since she was born. 6 months is so interactive, and she can use her tone of voice/whinge/cry/screech to communicate. She can play with toys herself (meaning stuff everything into her mouth) and she has 2 teeth already. She has a heightened sense of stranger-danger and is nearly crawling already. She can't quite sit up alone but sometimes I catch her doing pushups on her toes and hands. She went through a phase at 5-months of loving daddy and being reeeeally bored of me, but now at 6 months she's all mummy-loving smiles again.

6 months is spouse-dating, workout-ing, dinner-cooking, house-vacuuming, room-makeovering, night-sleeping goodness.

It's still full-on and I still want to crawl under the bed and hide/nap every second day. I don't know how other mums have the time for their squillions of mummy-groups (there is a class every day of the week for your baby if you want to attend them, starting from newborns pretty much!). I have SO many things I want to do now that I'm not pregnant/sick anymore. Every time I go on a run or enjoy a big meal I feel so thankful to be past that.

We are working on our guest bedroom at the moment to have it done in time for Christmas! I'll leave you with a tiny teaser: A Before pic and a Progress pic..

{Before}
{Progress}
I'll be back with the full makeover as soon as we're done. I upholstered that headboard myself (twice) and you may remember it was a dark blue the first time... so boring and so not me and I'm glad the husband convinced me to do something else (quote: "Since when do you care what anybody else thinks?!")

Anyway, I have to go, my daughter is commando-crawling backwards across the room in a beeline for her dirty nappy that is sitting there neatly parceled up. Did I mention everything goes in the mouth? #momlife






Nov 17, 2014

NYC Loft Apartment living area design

I was recently asked by Chairish to design a room idea using one of their Chairish accent chairs. I chose this bright pink Danish chair and popped it into a New York loft style apartment setting. Here's the design I came up with:

Amy MacLeod// New York loft interior design - leather couch, brick wall, pink accent chair
In this setting you've got a pretty funky brick wall and a big leather couch that I would actually really like for myself...
 
I spent ages trying different rugs and in the end settled on a plain one as everything else looked so busy - what kind of rug would you choose? 






Nov 5, 2014

Dream Nursery Design (again?)

Our nursery never really got completed and I was never happy with the design of it - the constraints at the time being: money, nausea, and absolutely no energy. 

We have actually only just started using the nursery for Ella to sleep in (she's been sleeping in our room til now) and it would be amazing at some point to redecorate and make it a happy space. We have lost our armchair that was in there to a good home so I've been dreaming about a replacement and maybe doing something like this.

This uses a classic wingback chair that would be fun to mix with some more modern pieces. (Sources below).

Nursery design by Amy MacLeod - five kinds of happy blog
Chair / Bunny lamp / rug / alphabet art / toy basket / cat cushion


If I could make this room come together in real life, I absolutely would!
Kids room are so much fun.

P.S People who have IKEA in your countries... I envy you. You can buy a large poster frame for $60! What! Over here that would require custom framing and would set you back around $300. We recently went to IKEA in Melbourne on a family trip and whilst I know that it's no all no big deal to most people... we were in decor daydream heaven and I did stock up on a few ribba frames which seem like amazing quality compared to the cheap counterparts here (from Briscoes, the Warehouse, Farmers etc). Even tho they are considered low quality to most people because they are just Ikea. At one point on the lower floor I may have turned to my husband and said "I'm just so angry!". Haha.
New Zealand, seriously, pick up your game.





Oct 15, 2014

My Summer/Christmas Bucket List

Summer is coming to New Zealand and I feel so excited thinking about it. It's in the air.
Last Summer I was pregnant and I definitely didn't feel this way. But now I am unpregnant - I feel alive!

Since being pregnant I am constantly aware that I may or may not end up spending the better part of the next decade being deathly ill, marginally ill, or totally sleep-deprived-with-toddler-and-newborns. Suddenly this "I'm so tired because I have a baby" stage seems laughable because some people.... 2 babies! 3 babies! I'm perma-grateful for the now. For not being nauseous at this particular point in time. For only having 2 sleeping schedules to juggle... And it makes me want to run around and do ALL THE THINGS while I can.

So, here's a look at some of my Summer bucket list.

1. Finish making playfood for my daughter. I think I have a problem because she is 4 months old and not interested in anything she can't cut her gums on... BUT what if when she is turning 2 years old I am pregnant and bedridden and can't get her anything for her birthday? Uhhh? And she needs something made with love, high quality yet inexpensive and not limited by the small imaginations of mass-producers of children's toys? What then?????? Bet you didn't think about that. #stockpiling

This photo isn't mine but I've been making donuts so I did a google search for felt donuts and voila, you get the idea:
[from here]
In my donutty google travels I also came across this donut ring (like actual jewellery ring) which you should get for the baker in your life, and mini-donut playfood for doll houses. Now THAT is something I would have been into as a kid. I mean I may have been scared of dolls but at least I knew how to craft a jillion varieties of fimo pastries for their kitchen.

2. Cooking real food. 
I recently became obsessed with Chelsea Winter and her perfect-every-time recipes. I cooked pork belly and lamb shanks all in one week! For the new-mum on cooking hiatus that was a big deal. Calum even asked me what was happening. Anyway, next on my list are the ribs. They almost make me want to watch rugby they look so good and... rugged.

[Photo from chelseawinter.co.nz]

The other thing I crave on summer nights is this raw fish salad with coconut, chilli, lime, coriander that we had in Nantucket from the fanciest chef on the earth. Actually his were served in mini taco shells and it put the icecream bar to shame! Never thought I would say it but... I have to make raw fish this summer.


3. Build the shelves in our living room

Here's an amazing quality photo of our living room right now:

Gorgeous or what.
Those green strips of painter's tape will eventually become shelves and a tv unit. The plan was to make it all ourselves but after calculating all the prices for the wood (we want it to be proper timber, not MDF) I don't know if we'd be saving anything by DIYing - a tradie might be able to get better prices!

This should probably be in a blog post of its own but the idea is that everything will have a place - at last! Piles of DVDs, baskets of baby toys, spare cushions, etc will all have a proper home so they won't need to be heaped on the floor in every spare corner. With Ella starting to move around sometime soon it's pretty important to get that sussed out.

I have some fun colour ideas for it too. And to give you an idea of where this room is going, here's an adjacent wall...

 

Slowly but surely!


4. Sew Christmas decorations + make a wreath for our front door

http://www.pickles.no/wonderful-wreath/
{Image from here}
Oh I feel so jolly just looking at it! I don't know where you get those felt balls from tho. They're nicer than the pompoms you can buy. The only problem is I will crave gumballs every time I see it.

Also, I want to make Christmas decorations out of felt. I don't know how and I don't know what, but I want to.

5. Yarn-bomb some twigs and put in a vase.

{pic from here}

SO basically a smaller,  simpler version of this, in a vase masquerading as flowers that can't die.
I just like colours.

6. Finish up the guest room - paint and all
I upholstered this headboard the other day. Again, I should be writing a blog post on this topic alone but... I'm not so here it is!


I'm not totally convinced, to be honest. I'm not normally a fan of dark blue furniture in our house but I thought going with something more 'standard' like this (it's a bit darker in real life) would be the sensible, stain resistant choice.
Lesson learned - just do what you like! I now feel pretty ho-hum about the whole thing and may end up putting a different fabric on. Which isn't hard, just annoying and I don't want to waste fabric. It's hard to get the padding smooth as you have to pull it ridiculously tight, but I think I did an alright job at it.

Oh and in case it's not obvious - repaint the walls and tidy up the rest of the room are on the list too. Also, the previous owners thought having about 5 different styles of odd light fixtures around the room would be eclectic and cute. You can see the alien-cone-head one here and then on the other side is an ornate frilly haunted-house-style one. Aah, homeowners.


7. And last but not least - design all our house renovations for the next 10 years.
Like I said, when you have an urge and you are not presently pregnant... you have to do all the things. Here are my plans for our kitchen:


The inspiration struck so I'm rolling with it. You know you have struck gold when your not-caring-about-details husband looks at you with fire in his eyes and says "I love it!"

In case you were unaware, our present kitchen is untouched 70's glamour. And by glamour I mean dark-brown-everything and archways. Lots of archways. If you are unlucky, you may get a peek of it here.

8. Win the competition to win a room makeover from Freedom Furniture.
I entered and heck, there's no harm in hoping. Reach for the skies I say! I think I would choose our bedroom for sure. Let's just say it's full to the brim of baby gear and our 4-month-old sleeps in the same room so I never go in there except to make mess and/or sneak around Her Sleeping Highness in the dark. It could use some attention, is all I'm saying.