A New Level of Crazy: Macaron Mayhem Edition

As you may have noticed, two of my passions are baking and fandom. And the most fun I can have is when I combine the two. And I had an opportunity to do this recently, because Swancon was on, and Twelfth Planet Press had a special announcement to make. The question was, how to do it in style? Remember last time, when I decorated 300 cupcakes in a hotel room? Yeah, I didn’t learn.

And, since this time around I would be in my own kitchen,  I couldn’t just live with that, could I? Noooo, I had to up the difficulty level. Because that seems to be how I define fun. 🙂

The Challenge: A macaron for each of the nine released book of the Twelve Planets series. Colour and flavour matched. And for an added twist of difficulty I decided to make over half of the fillings dairy free.

Now, NO ONE should eat nine macarons in a short period, not unless they want to go into sugar shock, so by opting for mini macs we figured we’d lower the sugar intake for those determined adventurous enough to try all flavours. What Alisa and I discovered with a full day spent cooking, is minis are way harder to get right than traditional sized ones, which means I have A LOT of leftovers (aka way less than perfect) at home that we are working our way though.

FYI they look a lot like this.


However, we did end up with around 450 complete mini macarons for the night.

A night which seemed to be a success.


Last few… they were gone moments later.

20140428-185613.jpg 20140428-185555.jpg

And Alisa selling ALL the books!


Oh, and the Twelfth Planet Special Announcement? News about a Thirteenth Planet by Isobel Carmody!

In the next few days I will attempt to post the story of each macaron. I’m not going to give a specific macaron recipe, because there are a million out on the net, and what works for one person doesn’t always work for someone else. However, I will talk generically about the shells, and give an idea of what I used for the fillings.


Photo by Cat Sparks



Add a comment April 28, 2014
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Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

A few months ago there was a huge internet storm after Maria Kang, self described “FitMom”, posted a photo of herself and her children with the words “What’s Your Excuse?” plastered over it.
Now I know she wasn’t the first person to use that phrase, and she certainly hasn’t been the last. And hats off to her that she can exercise and eat well and raise her kids, and keep her household running and run her business. That’s great.
However, something has bugged me since the furor erupted, and it took me a bit to realise what it was.
I have to say I HATE the phrase “What’s your excuse?” Particularly the use of the word excuse. The term excuse immediately acts to invalidate a genuine reason. And yes, while the phrase may be technically correct, the tone it is offered in is always one of self righteousness – “If I can do it, then you should be able to.” It shows no empathy for others. No understanding or compassion.
I’ve heard colleagues say it: I can do X job and Y job, and all the filing, mopping, broadcasting and rocket building – what’s your excuse?
I’ve heard writers say it: I can work full time, raise a family, run a marathon, cook a gourmet meal and knock out a novel by lunchtime – what’s your excuse?
Because if they can do it then obviously anyone can.
It’s a selfish, arrogant and dismissive thing to say! No one truly knows another persons circumstances. No two people have the exact same circumstances, so what works for one person may be totally ineffective or unsustainable or unobtainable for another. And branding a persons reasons as an “excuse”, belittles those circumstances.
Personally, I think it’s the equivalent of telling a depressed person to “get over it” or “cheer up”. It’s not helpful, it’s harmful. It’s like saying “I broke up with my partner and I’m fine, so what are you moping about?”

ETA: All of the above is addressing the fact that you might actually be striving for the same thing as the person commenting. As Alisa says, “…the other thing that bugged me about it was implication that we want what she/they have.” And THAT is a whole other issue.

Add a comment January 28, 2014

Gluten Free Fluffy Pancakes

Last night we had had some awesome gluten free pancakes. I mean GF Pancakes can be pretty blah normally, but these…will become a staple. However, these weren’t awesome just because they were GF, but pretty amazing pancakes anyway! They were light and fluffy, not rubbery or crumbly, and tasted like real pancakes.

2-3 egg whites
2 cups gluten free self raising flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar (we used maple syrup for flavour and taste)
2 eggs

Beat the egg whites until stiff and meringue like

Beat all other ingredients in a separate bowl until thoroughly mixed

Fold in beaten egg whites

Drop spoonfuls into a hot buttered pan.
Cook as per normal. However these are thick enough that they tend to start to burn on the outside without being cooked through, so keep an eye on the temperature.


Add a comment May 27, 2013
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Buying a smile

When I was a baby I had an accident. Well, actually, I had multiple accidents as an infant, but the specific incident I am referring to in this post happened when I was just ten months old.

It was mid afternoon, and I had been put down to sleep on a bed, with a bottle. Wriggly child that I was I managed to roll off of the bed, and I knocked my mouth on the collar of the bottle, dislodging one of my baby teeth, root and all. At the time, while I imagine there was a bit of blood and more than a few tears on my part, and panic and distress on my mum’s, I don’t think it was considered a serious accident. After all, it was only a baby tooth, surely the adult one would grow in eventually.

But time went by, and nothing happened. My baby teeth fell out, the adult teeth grew in, but not the one that I had been missing forever. And it wasn’t like I could hide it, after all it was front and centre.
Now missing front teeth might be considered cute on a kindy kid,
but as you get older it starts to attract looks, and by eight or nine you start to get Questions.

So, when I was ten I received My First Denture. (Now, there’s a title you don’t see often in the My First range.) It took a bit of getting used to, and it was a definite learning experience…the first thing I learned is that it didn’t mix well with bubble gum, rather it seemed to get tied in knots and end up in all kinds of weird mess in my mouth. This led directly to me learning the hard way not to put it in the back pocket of my shorts when I needed to take it out, because a week or so after getting my first denture, I had to get my second one, when I sat down and managed to break it into multiple pieces.
I was on double dentist visits at school…I had the usual six monthly checks, and on the alternate six months I would have my plate assessed.
And then I left school. And due to affordability, and procrastination, and apprehension I have had only a handful of visits since. And it is a testament to the workmanship of the school dentists that a denture that is supposed to last five years or so has lasted me five times longer.
You know, I’ve never been overly comfortable with my smile, and at times I’ve been very self conscious of it, but I’ve never quite taken the step to do something about it, after all, there’s always more important things to pay for.
And then my parents decided to buy me a new smile.
I had several options open to me, and I explored each one. I always thought if I ever did anything I would have an implant done…it costs Outrageou$ $tupid Dollar$ to get it done, but it’s as close to the real thing as you can get. Then I found out what was involved and quickly reconsidered. It was trips to Perth, probably surgery under general anesthetic, lots of healing time and a process that would take about six months. On the other hand, the next option only cost $tupid Dollar$ in comparison, could be done at my local dentist, and would only take two weeks.
I’ll take option B thanks, Eddie.
So that’s what I’ve been doing…on Monday there was needles and moulds and drilling and grinding. (And possibly tears, coz, you know, needles, and dentist!) And I walked out with a temporary measure to get me through the next two weeks. Except it didn’t survive my first meal. i bit into a soft, fresh bread roll and the temporary measure broke. Obviously this eating gig needs some readjustment. So yesterday I was back at the dentists. They were jam packed all day and could only squeeze me in at the very end of the day, so I stayed hidden away like the Hunchback of Notre Dame all day, until I could rush to the surgery for my emergency fix.
Apparently breakages are very common, so I figure I’m going to exist on soft foods for the next two weeks. Don’t want to risk that again. At least it’s soup weather atm. Soup and ice cream! 🙂
It’s so weird though. For the first time in over thirty years (30??!!!) I don’t have a plate in. I can feel texture and temperature with my whole mouth now, and I almost have a lisp as my tongue tries to adjust to these few extra millimeters of play room suddenly granted. It’s a strange feeling indeed.

1 comment May 8, 2013
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“Just ‘Coz” day

I have the most awesome friends and today they declared it was “Just ‘Coz” day.

I don’t celebrate birthdays. Or Christmas. Or Easter. Or Mother’s Day, Valentines Day etc, etc…..And my friends and family that do celebrate, and know I don’t, respect me enough to neither give me presents or expect presents from me.

What I do believe in and celebrate though, is “Just ‘Coz” day. I love “Just ‘Coz” day – it says “I saw this and thought of you!” I think it’s personal, and meaningful. It also sneaks up on you in wonderful ways, and surprises you when you least expect it.

Today, Alisa and Tehani surprised me with the most gorgeous napery set, covered in colorful macarons. (From one of my favourite brands, no less.)
Just add pearls for an instant 50's housewife

And, as an added bonus, it’s trimmed in Twelfth Planet Press pink.

Add a comment May 6, 2013
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Well, Conflux has been and gone and it was great fun! I had never been to Canberra, so that was an adventure in itself. And if eating a salad in the airport counts, I have visited Adelaide as well. So now I have been to every capital city in Australia. I am so well travelled. Next stop, get myself a passport.

Mostly for me the weekend was about supporting Alisa and Twelfth Planet Press, and getting to catch up with friends! And late nights…oh the late nights. #Iamold

By far the greatest majority of my time was spent in the Dealers Room, but I quite like that, because nearly everyone wanders through at some stage or another, so I get to see everyone.

I don’t tend to do panels, so my one contribute was organising the awards ceremony. I wanted something fun and engaging and the awesome Deb Biancotti provided all that. She did an amazing job.

Congratulations to all the winners! It was wonderful to see some of my favourite fandom people being honoured.

And the trophies themselves this year were stunning! Lewis Morley did a beautiful job on them. Most years I am a bit meh about the trophies, (although squeaky octopii were definitely cool) and I have never been particularly sad that I don’t do award worthy things….but oh, I badly coveted this year’s edition. And then some people actually got TWO of them! So not fair! (It is really…Tansy, Kaaron and Kathleen all deserved to win their categories!)

I thought I had people convinced about me being all sweetness and light, but Sean the Blogonaut saw through me when it came to the Ditmars…because I utilised my underworld contacts to procure myself a Blackmarket edition.

I has Ditmar
It’s so, so pretty sitting in my cabinet.

Add a comment May 4, 2013
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My Crazy Cupcake Adventure — Love and Romanpunk


Thousands of years ago, Julia Agrippina wrote the true history of her family, the Caesars. The document was lost, or destroyed, almost immediately. (It included more monsters than you might think.)

Hundreds of years ago, Fanny and Mary ran away from London with a debauched poet and his sister. (If it was the poet you are thinking of, the story would have ended far more happily, and with fewer people having their throats bitten out.)

Sometime in the near future, a community will live in a replica Roman city built in the Australian bush. It’s a sight to behold. (Shame about the manticores.)

Further in the future, the last man who guards the secret history of the world will discover that the past has a way of coming around to bite you. (He didn’t even know she had a thing for pointy teeth.)

The world is in greater danger than you ever suspected. Women named Julia are stronger than they appear. Don’t let your little brother make out with silver-eyed blondes. Immortal heroes really don’t fancy teenage girls. When love dies, there’s still opera. Family is everything. Monsters are everywhere. Yes, you do have to wear the damned toga.

History is not what you think it is.


2 comments February 2, 2013
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Meeting Parp

My paternal grandfather, Parp, died just before I was born, so I never knew him. By all accounts he was a larrikin, and a storyteller, and my dad is just like him. Before he died though, my aunt convinced him to write down some of his anecdotes and experiences of life as a pioneer in the Pilbara.

My aunt was the family historian  – she was the one who researched the family tree, and I think she had intentions of doing something with these recollections but time got away from her. It seems they may have sat in her office for decades, because when she passed almost two years ago my cousins found the half edited notes and decided to finish what she had started.

And so, at Katink’s funeral last week, all the siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews received their own copy of the book they had put together.Image

It’s full of Parp’s photos and remembrances, albeit some not quite politically correct now days, stories of station life, and even some stories about his father.

And this is my favourite photo in the book! My dad is the toddler. He is 86 now.Image

And so now I get to know Parp, just a little. And so do my kids.

1 comment December 30, 2012
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Fear me, for I am a Macaron Master!

Look what I made!


Nice shiny domes – check
Pretty, ruffled feet – check
Crisp outer shell – check
Soft, fluffy interior – check

But I do have a confession to make:

2 comments December 27, 2012
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Here’s to you, Katink! xx

The two people most like me in the world, in looks and personality, are my (half) sister Katink, and my niece MiniMe. If you have ever wondered what I might be like if I hadn’t been raised as a Witness you only need look at them.
Out of nowhere, Katink suffered an aneurysm on Friday.
Family and friends gathered at Charlie’s to stand vigil at first, and then to say goodbye to this vibrant woman. It was a testament to the person Katink was that the hospital had to make a conference room available so the doctor could talk to all of us when it came time to male *that* decision.
At 10.15am this morning we turned off her life support and let her go.
She was a voracious reader, devouring SF and fantasy, and thankfully was between books when this happened. Otherwise we would have found the audio copy of what she was reading so she could finish it. She was smart and did a three night stint on Sale of the Century, and was yelled at by the production manager for ‘taking the money’. She was a free spirit. A punk in the seventies as a teen, and a groupie after that – hooking up with one of the (pre fame) INXS guys for some time.
She was wacky and crazy and beautiful and thoughtful.
Katink was a mother and a wife, and for most of her life a little sister. One of her greatest wishes was to be a big sister, and I was blessed in being able to have that relationship with her for the last fifteen years or so.
Farewell Katink, you were more than just a sound effect, and we will see you again.
I also want to thank everyone for their thoughts and wishes and messages over the last few days.

1 comment December 17, 2012
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I’ve Said It Once…

Past Ingredients