Friday, August 31, 2012


I've been busy lately, it might not seem like it from my lack of blogging, but honestly I have!

I've been spending the last few weeks sitting on the floor in my loungeroom, watching Buffy and sewing, sewing, sewing! I love making softies, and I really love the idea of making characters from live action movies and tv in to adorable little calico creations.

Two of my great loves at the moment are Game of Thrones (which you can see from this ) and The Avengers. So of course, my latest softies paid hommage to those two great loves.

From Game of Thrones: Eddard (Ned) Stark, Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen

And from Avengers: Loki, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man

These are all available for purchase here at my new Etsy shop!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cupcake Drive

As a follow up from my Pie Drive and upon request of friends, I recently had a Cupcake Drive.

In much the same style as the Pie Drive, four flavours of cupcakes were available at 6 for $12 or 12 for $20. We had:

 Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

 Wagon Wheel Cupcakes

 White Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes

Malteser Cupcakes

Though not as profitable as the Pie Drive, it was still a great week! If you would like to order any of these cakes, or others, please visit me at Flame Tree

Being Medieval - 2012 style

The Abbey Medieval Festival is an event I look forward to every year.

There's nothing quite like it. Sword fights, a castle, oil wrestling, gypsies, spiced mead served from a cauldron, venison pie, jousting, toffee apples, camels, cannons, hearty stew, ladies in amazing dresses, knights in shining armour, fire twirling, archery, dancing, stilt walkers, falcons, mulled wine and so much more!

Last year, Stacie and I made dresses, and couldn't face making new ones again this year. So we opted for some sweet headdresses instead. I was really happy with how my horned creation turned out. I got lots of comments, and we were asked for a photo at least 30 times! Fun!

I've become a bit crazed about archery ever since The Avengers came out. I'm intensely attracted to Hawkeye so when given the chance to have a go, I was pretty excited.

Until next year Medieval Festival.....

Pie Drive!

I left my job in May, did I ever mention that? I left because 4 years of office work was enough for me, my poor little creative brain couldn't handle days of looking at numbers and talking to customers about products I didn't care about. So I left, and have been absolutely loving my life of baking, drawing, sewing and reading ever since.

I don't however, love not having money. That's been a bit lame really. Luckily though, I have wonderful friends that love baked goods, and that were happy to support me. With this in mind, I created a facebook event called:

The Baking for Ballet Pie Drive
(so called as I needed money to continue with my beginner ballet adventures)

Four pies were available for purchase, and three kinds of macarons.

 Banana Split Pie - Banana, Chocolate and Peanut Butter

 Ruby Pie - Chocolate, Raspberry Mousse, Grenadine Jelly

Winter is Coming Pie - Chocolate, Black Cherry, Meringue

Comfort Pie - Pumpkin with Salted Caramel Pecan Glaze

 Spiced Cinnamon Macarons

 Red Velvet Macarons

Salted Caramel Macarons

Now, when I made this event, I was expecting maybe 6 orders from my closest friends because they felt like they needed to help me out. I certainly wasn't expecting to a total order count of 54 pies and 302 macarons! So began a week of frenzied pastry making, tears over failed macarons (and cheers over all the successful ones), dancing, singing, whisking, melting, egg separating, and salted caramel sneaking.

The two most uttered phrases from friends picking up their baked goods were 'The house smells AMAZING!' (which I loved) and 'Oh Lauren, you look sooooo tired' (which was true, but not as loved.)

The week also consisted of a lot of driving and trying to navigate city streets, as every night was open for deliveries to those friends living further away. I am so grateful to my friends Kirsty and Rachel for accompanying me on the deliveries, reminding me to collect money, keeping track of orders and to Rachel for driving around the city and southside on the final night because I was so exhausted I thought myself in danger of crashing the car.

Thanks to everyone who supported this crazy but really fun endeavour I had more than enough money to cover ballet for the rest of the year and be able to live like I had when I had a job.......for a while at least (more on that in my Cupcake Drive post)

I'm sure that I will hold another Pie Drive one day soon. It was a great experience and I did really enjoy seeing all of this on my table every afternoon.

If you, dear wanderer, live in the Brisbane area and find yourself wishing for something sweet, please visit my new page on Facebook - Flame Tree I'd love to bake for you!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Night Circus and Paper Art

A few months ago I noticed a book with black pages, a pretty cover and an alluring title - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Upon reading the synopsis, I knew this book was for me. I devoured it within a day. I'm not going to talk about it too much, there are reviews everywhere but I just suggest you pick it up for yourself. Perhaps it won't be for everyone, but it absolutely struck a cord with me, mainly for the imagery described throughout. I immediately wanted to draw or paint everything, it was all so fantastical and beautiful and just as if Erin had the same imagination as me, I loved it so very much.

So I began sketching out some elements of the book that I found particularly wonderful. The two main character, Celia and Marco, pictured above, obviously needed to be shown and I also wanted to illustrate their favourite parts of the circus - The Wishing Tree created by Celia, and The Ice Garden created by Marco. I wanted them to all be separate images that were linked together by colour and by the trees.

I have also, for many years followed in awe the illustrations and paper art of Brittney Lee and toyed with the idea of trying some paper art myself. I couldn't fathom how Brittney could create so much detail with some paper and a knife but I really wanted to give it a go.

Couple that wish with the mighty need for some Night Circus inspired art, the challenge of only using black and white paper, a new scalpel knife, a rather beaten up cutting board and some few months of working on and off and finally, I had a four part artwork that I am exceedingly happy with!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Game of Pies!

I've been crazy for pies recently...I just haven't updated my blog enough to show it! I'll do another post soon about all the other things I've been making but this one is to showcase a weekly event that's been going on for a while.

Every Monday night a small group of friends join forces to watch the latest Game of Thrones. It's always awesome, so a while back I decided to make it more awesome, by always making pie for dessert. And how could weekly pies be made even more awesome?

By making them Game of Thrones themed of course! I present to you - GAME OF PIES!

'Fire Can Not Kill A Dragon' Pie
(Lemon Meringue)

'Melisandre' Pie
(Chocolate, Raspberry, Strawberry and Grenadine)

'A Lannister Always Pays His Debts' Pie
(Cheese, Corn and Bacon Quiche)

'Winter Is Coming' Pie
(Chocolate, Black Cherry and Meringue)

'The Raven' Pie
(Black and Blueberry)

'There's A King In Every (Circular) Corner Now' Pie
(Pumpkin with Cinnamon Glaze)

 'Down With Joffrey' Pie (aka 'What We Wish Would Happen Every Episode' Pie)
(Raspberry, Meringue and Marshmallow with Toffee Sword)

11 Days in the USA - Part 3

Day 6

We arrived in marvellous New York at 11pm and even though the city never sleeps, we needed to! But not before we ordered food to be delivered to our hotel room (HUGE burgers mmmm)! And then, as everyone going to sleep around 1am would want to, we were up, decked out in all the warm clothes we could muster and waiting outside our hotel at 4am for the airport shuttle, so we could fly to Buffalo to start our tour of the Niagara Falls!!! We were the only two people on the tour, so our lovely guide took us to a few places on the way, just suburban streets and malls, but it was great, as it's so different to home! Also we saw lots of squirrels, which I was REALLY excited about!! The Falls were amazing! We were able to see them first from the USA side...


And then get a little stamp in our passport and head over to Canada to see them from their side!


We then had an amazing buffet lunch in a restaurant overlooking the falls - beautiful! It was unfortunately too cold for the boat tour, but we were able to go in to the tunnels which run behind the falls and open up right underneath the torrents! It was amazing, but alas all the photos just look white... We travelled back through Buffalo, looked at beautiful big manor houses, bought cheap makeup at a local mall (and then nearly had to leave it at the airport because we didn't think about taking liquids on the plane! The lovely airport staff found us an old box and let us check it in though)By the time we got home we were so tired, that not even the night lights of New York could entice us out of our hotel, it was time for a good sleep so we could set off refreshed the next morning!

Day 7

We awoke to a cold, drizzly day, which wasn't ideal for walking around the city, but that wasn't going to stop us! First up was a trip to The Cathedral of Saint John The Divine (after much confusion as to how to get on the subway) in the now pouring rain. We were cold, tired and felt a bit ill, but none of that mattered when we saw this amazing building. It was huge and just so very beautiful and detailed. Inside was humbling and awe-inspiring. I feel like we could have stayed in there for hours without realising, it was so peaceful and warm yet somehow foreboding at the same time.

I knew that I wanted to see The Fountain of Peace out in the courtyard, but we found it to be heavily raining when we came out. Kirsty decided she'd stay in the shelter while I ran to see the statue, and run I did. It was sort of perfect really, I was nearly completely drenched in the minute it took to run to the statue but I spotted a tiny little sheltered alcove, all covered in ivy that I huddled in to so I could just stare at the Fountain of Peace. It's really beautiful...but weird...I was so confused to see giraffes for some reason haha. But the craftsmanship is extraordinary.

Next up was the American Museum of Natural History - which I was absolutely psyched about, because I knew they had HEAPS of dinosaur skeletons. It certainly didn't disappoint, in fact it exceeded expectations, as I would have been happy just with dinosaurs, but there was so much to see! The animal exhibits were beautifully realistic...


All the historical relics were amazing, the minerals and gems entranced me way more than I thought...but the dinosaurs were the greatest.
I reverted back to being an overly excitable 8 year old, dragging Kirsty along to all the skeletons and continuously shrieking things like...

'Parasaurolophus *squeak*!!!'

'Kirsty it's a Pachycephalosaurus skull aaiiiieeee'

 'Aaaaaaaargh Ceratosaurus!!!!'

And then I was rendered silent for a moment and just stared hopelessly like a toddler eyeing off a lollipop, because I'd found my love...

After I'd gotten over my dinosaur hysteria and bought way too many things at the store, we made our way, finally, to Times Square. Oh how we love thee.

It was time to start organising our tickets for musicals every night! After a bit of running around we decided to see The Lion King that night! I had a bit of a weird history with the musical, as when I first heard about it, I wanted nothing to do with it. The Lion King is my very favourite movie of all time ever and I thought they'd ruin it as a stage show. But after years of everyone saying how good it was, I was really excited to be seeing it!
And, it was wonderful, it was beautiful to look at and the actors were amazing, but it didn't hook me in as much as I'd thought it would. Possibly because I hold the movie on such a pedestal, a different version of it was never going to have the same effect on me. However, it was a BROADWAY MUSICAL so it was AMAZING!

Oh also, you should know, we'd already bought our tickets for How To Succeed, because as wonderful, amazing timing would have it, Darren Criss was the lead while we were there. And we sort of love him. Just a little. Just enough that whenever we saw a poster we were sort of like this....

Day 8

I'm just going to start off with saying our hotel - The Comfort Inn Central Park West - was amazing. It was in the beautiful Upper West Side which made me feel like I was in You've Got Mail every time we stepped out the door, and it had continental breakfast. Now not just cereal and toast continental breakfast like we usually get at home. This hotel had a big ol' machine full of waffle batter and a waffle iron ready to make amazing fresh blueberry waffles every morning. It made me SO happy!

Now, on to the day - we jumped on to one of the all day tour buses and were on our way to see the Statue of Liberty. Neither of us were particularly desperate to see her, but it's a must do when in New York! It was another squally day, making the ferry ride fairly unpleasant, but we were in that 'holiday mode' of travellers so it wasn't all that much of a worry. The wind on Liberty Island however, was hilariously strong and cold. It made it impossible to get a normal photo haha.

We then visited the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which I walked through close to tears the entire time. I don't think anyone could go there and not be heartbroken. It was a beautiful memorial and the walk through ended full of hope and a positive outlook on the future, but it was something that stayed with us for the rest of the trip.

Next the bus took us to the Rockefeller Centre so we could go to the Top of the Rock. It was an amazing view, but again was super cold and windy, so we didn't manage to stay out very long! Long enough for Kirsty to realise I was calling the Chrysler Building the Empire a fool! I then made sure to get a photo with the ACTUAL Empire State Building....


I was way ridiculously excited to go to the NBC Store, I needed to make up for all those years of trying to buy Office and Community paraphernalia online and it not being available internationally! I stocked up on a lot of stuff, plus bought loads of presents (Greendale Human Being Keyrings, Senor Chang Magnets, Office Desk Calendar, Office Board Game etc)
Next was a visit to Madame Tussauds, which was soooooooooo much fun! I made googoo eyes at Leonardo, hugged Harrison Ford, glared at Angelina Jolie, tried to copy Britney's pose (I failed), sat with The Beatles and squealed over Iron Man. It was all fantastic and silly and grand!

And then dear people, after dinner, we sat ourselves down at the Al Hirschfield Theatre and soaked in the gloriousness of Darren Criss and the wonderful, fun musical that is How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Argh, it was just SO. GOOD. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip, not just because we were a bit obsessed with him, but also because neither of us knew anything about the musical and it turned out to be so funny with great songs and a clever story and a fantastic ensemble cast and just all round awesome!

Day 9

We started the day (after amazing waffles of course) by going Behind The Emerald Curtain. It was a fantastic tour, hearing about all the behind the scenes happenings of Wicked and seeing some of the amazing props and costumes up close.


The main event of today was doing a Cake Decorating Class at the Cake Boss' Carlos BakeryWarehouse in New Jersey. But it was only going to take about 10 minutes to get a taxi there so after the Emerald Curtain we had a nice leisurely lunch of ribs at TGIF. Little did we know that because New Jersey is a different state, the taxi fare was going to be insanely high! But of course we'd left it too late to organise a bus or subway, so we had no choice but to pay $100 to get over there, and we were still a little late.

But as it seemed to be whenever something bad happened, within a few minutes it didn't matter at all. Because we were making these babies! At the Carlos Bakery Factory!!!

Ahhhhhh! I was crazy excited....Kirsty was about four times so. After the class we headed over to the bakery and stood in line for about an hour (again, it didn't matter because we were HERE!)

We got some delicious goodies and headed back to NYC to drop our cakes off to the hotel before seeing Memphis - this time on the subway! We had to switch trains at one point, and as we were waiting at the station we befriended a lovely elderly couple...and this is when the night turned bad (though again, by the next day it was fine and had just become a good story) I was sitting while Kirsty stood at the station, and the couple sat down next to me but kept insisting Kirsty take one of their sports. She was standing by choice and so insisted they sit, but the old man was such a gentleman and insisted he at least hold her bags for her (as we had cakes plus bags). Eventually our train came, we picked up our bags, double checked we had everything and bid them farewell. It was only two stops later that Kirsty realised she'd accidentally left the whole bag of Carlos' treats with the couple! She was devastated! (I was pretty upset too, but poor Kirsty felt so terrible that I wasn't about to make it worse for her!) We raced on foot back to the station in hope that we would find them, but they'd obviously left by the time we got there.

We then had to high tail it to see Memphis with our cakes in tow. Luckily we were allowed to take them in, store them under the seats and eventually calm down and just let the musical soothe us - it was fantastic by the way! Once we got home I did some research and moving around of our schedule so we could get back to Carlos' later on and get new treats!

 Day 10

We went on a Gospel Tour of Harlem in the morning. Harlem was really pretty in parts, and going to a local church for their gospel service was AMAZING! So very different from church back home but all with the same heart, it was really fun and refreshing.

We got back at lunchtime, so we tried out the Hard Rock Cafe. I'd been to the Hard Rock on the Gold Coast, but of course NYC's one was soooooooooo much better! I had delicious fajitas and was so excited by all the awesome memorabilia around! I wish that my Dad could have been there, everything I saw made me want to take photos to show him. After this we did some shopping, mainly for presents (and M&M's).

And then it was WICKED TIME WOOOOOO!

We'd both seen it numerous times, but seeing it on Broadway in Gershwin Theatre was

Day 11

Our final day was started early, we caught a bus to New Jersey for Carlos' and we realised just how much cheaper and easier it would have been to do that last time! It hardly took any time at all and only cost $4 compared to the $100 for our taxi trip! Oh well, it was fine, because once we got there we didn't have to line up and everything was super fresh.

See! Deliciousness!


So we grabbed our bag, made our way to the subway, waited for our train and got on. And then I realised I was supposed to have a separate bag, though I thought everything had been put in Kirsty's! Our train hadn't left yet, and I really wanted my black and white cookie, so we jumped off the train and headed back. The ladies at the counter didn't really believe that I hadn't picked up my bag, but once i started just offering to pay again I think it was obvious I wasn't trying to rip them off. So finally, we both had delicious treats from Carlos' and we could be on our merry way!

Next stop was the Freedom Tower, (with a quick stop off at an awesome little diner where they were throwing bagels to each was awesome) which is still under construction, but the Memorials of those killed on September 11 were beautiful, though obviously, heartbreaking.

Afterwards we headed to Madison Square Garden, to watch a real live NBA game! I wasn't really that excited, but Kirsty sure was! I was mainly excited about eating this cookie...

However, the game ended up being awesome! And there was always something happening to keep me entertained - the best was when a totally rad hip hop/marching band group of kids performed!

We had a few hours before our final musical (Phantom of the Opera haaaaaaawwwwww) so we FINALLY wandered around Central Park. We'd wanted to make plenty of time for it but 1) It was sooooo cold and 2) We just ran out of time every day so we only got to see a small portion of it. But I know that when I eventually go back to the USA, I'm going to give myself at least an entire day to spend there!

As we were walking we kept seeing horse and carriages, and we had no idea where they were coming from. So we did what any tourist would do...we followed one of the horses until we finally came to where they were all set up. It was pricey, but being driven around with blankets in Central Park seemed like the perfect thing to do on our last night! Our horse was beautiful - and no Kirsty is not punching it....

Phantom of the Opera was SO AMAZING! There's a reason it's one of the longest running shows ever! I knew the soundtrack fairly well, but being in a theatre complete with the dropping chandelier and amazingly detailed stage was just breathtaking. And all the actors, was just so perfect and lavish and romantic and dark and powerful and just AMAZING! Definitely one of my favourite musicals ever (it's getting harder and harder to choose though!)

With the closing of the curtains, it was time to face cleaning up, packing (trying to fit everything wasn't as hard as trying to make sure our suitcases weren't too heavy. My carry on ended up being just full of candy pretty much) and leaving not only this amazing city, but this fantastic country. I was very apprehensive about the trip home, as the flight there had felt like torture, but coming home, though long was a lot more manageable.

It was nice to come home, but it didn't take long before we were missing it all terribly. I'm still constantly getting 'I miss Disneyland' pangs (nearly every week) and i want to be back in New York when it's warmer and Central Park is green! It was a fantastic holiday and there's no doubt in my mind that we'll be going back one day!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...