flashbacks & granny squares

Adele & me
I’m on a bit of an old photo thing aren’t I? This one is different though as I’m playing along Kidspot‘s #voicesof2014 #flashbackfriday. Every week a new theme is chosen by bloggers and this weeks them is “matching”, chosen by moi! So this is my sister and I in our most matchymatchy outfit I could find. From the dress, to the bonnet type thing on our heads, to the baskets, to the shoes, to the hair style. I still remember these dresses and the baskets and even the thick rubber soled shoes (the soles were pink & white striped). Obviously, this was the seventies and we would have been looking pretty damn fashionable for the wedding we were going to.

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On the craft front, I’ve been crocheting granny squares like there’s no tomorrow. Originally I was going to join up with the lovely Kate from Foxs Lane and her Grannyhottie, which sounds way weirder than what it is. It’s actually a super cool crocheted granny square cover for your hot water bottle. But once I started crocheting these granny squares, I just couldn’t stop.

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So the Pixelated Series began. This will be the Pixelated Ocean Blanket and there’s another that I’ve started too. It’s lovely pinks and purples and oranges and is inspired by the colours of a pretty old fashioned flower. So I will be darning lots of ends next, luckily I’m actually starting to enjoy this part of the blanket making.

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This gorgeous colour combination is the next blanket I’ll be making. A lovely custom order blankie with the most luscious quality merino wool and alpaca yarn. Such a soft fluffy squishable mix, I just can’t wait to get started on it.

Well that’s me for now, I’ve been sick as a dog with nastyarse flu for the last couple of weeks so I’m just getting back into the swing of everything and slowly catching up. There’s really nothing like being on the couch for a week to make you appreciate even half decent health is there?

How about you, are you well? Have you managed to dodge the lurgies over the winter? Or are you enjoying the tail end of summer somewhere sunshiney in the world?

Wishing you sunshine, good health, and flashbacks that make you smile.

grandparents and granny stitch

Gran
My Gran… isn’t she beautiful? The picture on the left was taken at a spelling bee… she was such a smart cookie. On the right she is going to the Footy… to see her beloved Bombers. Yep, that’s how smart they dressed to go the Footy in those days. Just look at that gorgeous hat with the feather… so stylish.

Grandma
My Grandma… isn’t she beautiful? She’s such a cutie in the one on the left… arm around my Grandpop and the wee girl in the bonnet is my mum. On the right she is with her dad… looking like the sweet country girl she was.

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What a stunning wedding party… I’d like one of those sailor shirts now! Unfortunately my Grandma & Grandpop don’t have any wedding photos as legend has it the photographer they booked got drunk and didn’t turn up!

I’ve seen a lot of beautiful old photos lately and I feel very lucky that we have so many. All the photos are showing the wears of time, so dad has digitally removed some scratches and blemishes on a few special ones… a labour of love for their funeral services. Grandpa left us last year and Gran just a few weeks back. Grandma passed a few years ago now and Grandpop followed six months later. They were all able to see their grandchildren grow into adults and even enjoy their great grand children… how great is that?!

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I have such wonderful memories to treasure… I’m lucky our family was close and we had lots of birthday parties, Christmas days, afternoon teas and so very many other special times together. Making rock cakes with Grandma and Grandpop throwing real rocks in the mix. Grandma’s homemade baked rice pudding with peaches. Grandma teaching me the piano when I little, then my kids the piano when they were little. Gran taking my sister and cousins and I to the theatre to see Peter Pan. Gran’s nectarine tree in the old house. The smell of Grandma’s homemade soap. The smell of Gran’s handcream. Gran & Grandpas sheep called Sean. Playing pool very carefully on Grandpa’s new pool table. My cousins and my sister and I wearing matching dresses on Christmas day that Gran had made. The taste of Grandma’s freshly dug new potatoes at dinner. Grandma’s homemade biscuits with passionfruit icing. Gran’s lemon slice and birthday sponges. ‘Working’ in Grandma & Grandpops shop. Watching my daughter jump up and join Grandma in her linedance class. Receiving texts from my 90 year Gran! I could go on forever but I don’t want to bore you… maybe I already have… Suffice to say that grandparents are precious and the memories we’re left with live in a very special corner of our hearts.

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This Wreath-of-Love was made for my Gran with blooms from my Dove Cottage garden. Pretty bright pink Camellias, pale pink Camellia buds, one special Abraham Darby Rose, Lavender, Rosemary, Jasmine buds, Mile-a-Minute, Happy Wanderer, Daphne and Salvia.

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And now to something a little brighter… My Popping Candy Blanket is finished and will pop into my shop soon. I absolutely loved crocheting this blanket and am pretty sure the Granny Stitch is my favourite stitch ever. It’s just so comforting and rhythmic and humble. And versatile, not only in what kind of pattern you use it in, but how you use colours with it. I really like the effect of the white main colour, and a single row of different colours in between. But now I’m ready to start a new project… oh how I love this part… forming the idea and picking the yarn and the colours.

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A happy little stash of blankets… that makes me smile. And if you were expecting the ‘my smile inducers’ post, I’m sorry. I’m lame and fickle and undisciplined. I know I said I was going to do that each month… but you know, I really didn’t feel like writing a list of smiley things today. Not that I’m not smiling… I am. I have a lot to smile about… really, so much! So the smile inducing post will pop in from time to time, just not to a set calendar.

Do you have any special Grandparent memories you’d like to share? I promise you, they won’t bore me.

And if you’re lucky enough to still have grandparents around, give them a hug.

And if you no longer have your grandparents around, I’m giving you a virtual hug right now.

Wishing you blooms in your garden, and time to make sweet memories with your special ones.

foraging for mushrooms and yarn

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Yesterday I had a road trip of the best kind… with blue skies and rolling green hills dotted with sheep and cows and trees. My hubby Charlie went foraging for mushrooms… I went foraging for yarn.

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Charlie got to meet the very cool Ro Anderson from Whole Larder Love at his mushroom workshop… in a forest bursting with pretty light and mushrooms.

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A bunch of lovely folk went foraging in this beautiful forest, then Ro cooked them up an amazing feast on a campfire and a brilliant little bush kitchen set up in the back of his ute.

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Not only did they all learn heaps about what mushrooms to pick, where to look, and what not to pick, they got to eat the most amazing food at the end of it all.

You can read a bit more about the mushroom forage and see some more photos I took on hubby’s blog, Stockman Leathercraft if you like.

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Meanwhile as Charlie searched the forest floor for mushrooms, I road-tripped my way to Bendigo Woollen Mills and found myself some gorgeous new blues and greens in wool and alpaca… I’m so predictable aren’t I? I just can’t help but be drawn to these colours over and over… I find them a colourful and peaceful mix all rolled in together, and that’s a combo I can’t resist.

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Speaking of colourful… My Popping Candy Blanket is nearing the finishing line… except I’ve got about a billion ends to darn before I can crochet the edge. So I’ll try to resist the urge to start a new blue/green project… I’ll be busy darning ends for quite some time I think…

How about you… darning any ends? Busting to start a new project? Been to any beautiful forests lately?

Wishing you ripper days filled with good clean country air.

lemon butter, sherbet and candy

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Mmmmm…. lemon butter… I could eat it by the spoonful… sometimes do! It’s the thing I hunt down at markets, forever in search of the perfect homemade lemon butter.

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Well I had myself a bit of a lemon butter off recently and I finally made some (even though my classic old New Zealand cookbook ‘Edmonds’ calls it lemon honey).  I also had a recipe for lemon custard, it’s been stuck to the fridge for months, teasing me.  Then I was gifted some lemons from my gorgeous daughter.  And you know what they say about life giving you lemons? Yes I’ve seen the pinterest boards saying ‘get yourself some tequilla and slam that sh*t down’… but tequilla and I aren’t fond of each other…  (bad memories!) … So when life gave me lemons, I decided lemon butter and lemon custard was the answer. And a day of whisking began.

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I whisked till my arm was burning. I kept remembering stories of curdled lemon butter when it all goes wrong. I was determined mine wouldn’t curdle. And it didn’t, all the whisking paid off. I tested both of these glorious lemony buttery delights extensively… I take my research seriously you know!  And I came to conclusion that they are both bloody delicious!

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But which one would I choose to make again you ask? Neither. I would take a little from each recipe and tweak up my own version. What a surprise hey?! You see I loved the addition of the zest in the lemon honey, but I loved the custardy texture of the lemon custard. The lemon honey was very sweet, the custard a bit tart… so I’d go somewhere in between for the sugar.

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The one on the left is the lemon honey, complete with lovely zingy bits of zest. The one of the right is the lemon custard. Funnily enough, looks a lot more like custard. Both equally moreish!

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Now I found the recipe for the lemon custard online, so long ago and I really can’t remember where I found it. I’ve searched far and wide to where I thought it may have been and can’t find it. So I’m reproducing it here but please know it is not my recipe. If it is your recipe or you know the creator of it, please do let me know so I can share some link love.

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Now for the sherbet. My sherbet wrist warmers are done and I can’t wait to pop them on the next gloomy grey cold day, and feel all bright and happy and sherbet-ey.

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This is my new project. It’s my Popping Candy Blanket, because the colours remind me of popping candy. Some of the sherbet colours mixed in with some of the many random odds and ends of colours that I keep promising myself I’ll use up. I find it tricky to use up end bits of yarn because I’m pretty pedantic about what colours I like to play together. But I’m loving the bright colourful mix of this one as it honestly feels really happy, and I feel happy crocheting it.

What about you? Are you making anything that makes you happy? Like eating lemon butter by the spoonful? Life giving you lemons?

Wishing you juicy lemons, sherbet smiles and happy candy coloured days.

my smile inducers … july

Are you smiling yet? No? Well let’s see if we can fix that… I’m going to share a few things that made me smile lately, and I hope in turn these things will make you smile.

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This photo makes me smile because I adjusted the manual settings on my camera to take it! Yay! I know it’s not perfect, but hey those oranges look pretty darn good to me. You see I went back to school. That normally wouldn’t make me smile much at all (remember, I’m the A+ for daydreaming girl). But this was The Photo School, run by two of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet, Kate & Peta. Class was chokoblock full of great information on how to take better photos with your iPhone and your camera. During class there were many laughs, theory and prac sessions, lots of chatting about what makes a pretty photo, heaps of drooling over pretty photos (ok maybe the drooling bit was just me!), plenty of mind blowing aha moments, the occasional swear word, and nobody got detention! (tho’ I’d be happy to stay back in that class!)

This post about love and marriage on Edenland that started with a little smile which turned into a giggle, then grew into a heart smile and finished with a face smile. So gorgeous and full of love and hope and humour.

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The latest Eels CD “The cautionary tales of Mark Oliver Everett” is not only a fave to listen to at the moment, it has THE coolest intro on the 2nd CD. (click on the image above to read the first sentence, top right, for bonus smirk)

wrist warmers
Wrist warmers… I totally love thinking of the person I’m making them for, selecting just the right colours and designing the perfect embellishment for that recipient – I’m in creative heaven! I’ve made a few wristwarmers for gifts recently and not only does making them make me happy, giving them to unsuspecting recipients makes me happier and is absolutely a smile inducing thing to do.

The way Lynne from ‘Design the life you want to live’ talks about books in this post, how her writing includes font changes and spaces for emphasis, and how she can make writing feel so colourful. I think you’d be hard pressed to read this post without smiling.

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Finally… After years of probably very lame reasons on why we couldn’t /shouldn’t have a veggie garden, we’ve bitten the bullet and planted one. My silver birch trees received a rather severe pruning for the cause. ‘Cos if I’m going to have teepees in my garden they’re gonna be pretty white ones.

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This colour combination. It’s like sherbet and that makes me smile! That is all.

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This gorgeous photo was taken by Elizabeth, a lovely reader who emailed it to me with a note about how it was a smile inducer for her. How ace is that? I feel joyful whenever I see flowers, especially a beautiful rose like this one covered in nourishing raindrops. Thanks Elizabeth.

love
This photo of my daughter and her fiancée, and remembering the beautiful sunny morning I took it, makes my heart smile. In the silver birch forest where the romantic proposal took place, we captured some engagement celebration photos. The morning sun glistened on their beautiful-happy-in-love-faces and it was a moment I will always remember. And look at those gorgeous faces… I mean seriously…. they should be on the cover of a magazine!

at the marble caves
This photo of my son at the Marble Caves in Chile. He is ticking off things on his bucket list like a man on a mission. He’s much further north now and has just seen the massive salt flats in Bolivia. I remember him telling me about wanting to visit the salt flats and marble caves so long ago, it makes my heart smile to know that he’s living his dream. This photo was taken by his talented mate Justin Smith, isn’t it a ripper? I love the texture of the caves.

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Now I originally saw a photo of a tassel wearing llama via this great thing that lands in my inbox every Sunday. (That’s a smile inducing email every week already!) But then my son shared some new photos of his latest adventures and lo and behold there’s more tassel wearing llamas! Serendipity. Now if a llama wearing hot pink tassels on his ears and a matching ‘necklace’ doesn’t make you smile, I think your smile-o-meter may need adjusting.

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Spiced Hot Chocolate. This is my foolproof smile-o-meter tweaker. Select the milk of your choice (cows, soy, almond… whatever floats your boat), add a healthy dash of cinnamon, one star anise, some delicious dark chocolate and simmer till piping hot. Pour into your fave mug, then stir in some honey and/or maple syrup. Feel your smile grow bigger with every sip.

Ok now it’s your turn… what’s been making you smile?

If you blog maybe you’d like to write a smile inducing post? That would be ace! Simply click on the froggy to link to your post at the bottom of this one so we can all smile with you ok? There’s no rules except smiles must be involved.

If you don’t blog then you can share your smiley things in the comments, or Instagram them using the #mysmileinducers hashtag.

I’ll be writing a smiley post on the first Saturday of each month in an effort to create a smileworthy place to visit each month… for you and me.

Ok, are you in? Let’s share some smiles shall we?

Wishing you smiley hearts and faces, and smile inducing moments to remember.

a cuppa, a cake (recipe) and a chat

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Feel like a cuppa? A piece of cake? A chat? Great, you’re in the right spot.

The last project from my Blog with Pip course, is to tell you about ‘five things I love right now’ over a cuppa. I’m offering a piece of cake with my cuppa because I love cake… especially gluten free cake I can eat! I tweaked this recipe, adapting it from this one. I’m a bit thrilled with how it turned out (ie it worked and wasn’t like a brick) so I’m going to share the recipe with you after I finish chatting about the things I love. Oh and don’t forget to pop over to Meet me at Mikes and have a cuppa with my classmates too. Such a great bunch of friendly talented bloggers, am sure you’ll find a new blog or three to follow there.

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Spending time with the people I love. Time is such a precious thing and I rarely feel like there is enough of it to go around. I’ve been super blessed lately with spending beautiful days with my mum and my sister, having lovely skypes with my son in Bolivia (drinking a $2 bottle of Rum – him not me!), having chatty delicious dinners with my daughter and her fella, and doing lots of crafty stuff to really good music with my hubby. Precious times locked in my heart and memory bank for ever and ever.

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I’m a bit obsessed with taking photos at the moment. I have over 14,000 photo’s on my iphone and most of them only go back as far as 2013! Ridiculous hey? Taking snaphappy to whole new level… possibly bordering on some sort of OCD. And I already have one of those about numbers so I don’t need another about photos. I am hoping to learn how to take better photos this Sunday at this course. Can’t wait!

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I am super excited and a bit in love with a new series of posts I’ll be doing each month. I’ve never done a series of post here so I hope I can stick to it! ‘My smile inducers’ is all about looking for those little (or big) things that bring a smile to your face (or heart). My first post on this just felt like a great way to stop and … well… smile! I’m a big believer in the power of a smile and think they are contagious. If you see someone really smiling, it’s hard not to smile with them… isn’t? I will be adding a link option so you if you are a blogger you can write a smile inducing post and link back… and if you don’t blog you can tell me yours in the comments or on instagram (#mysmileinducers)… we will be creating a happy little hub of smiley places to visit… So on the first Saturday of each month, pop in for a smile or six ok?

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Of course I couldn’t tell you about the things I am loving right now without mentioning yarn related craft. Crochet in particular. If you already read this blog you will know how hooked on the hook I am, and my obsession with natural yarns. I’ve not long finished a huge blanket, and apart from making some cute wrist warmers I’m in no mans land with projects. It’s quite thrilling actually as I love this stage of pondering my next project. So many ideas in my head it’s hard to pick just one. Maybe I’ll start two… it wouldn’t be the first time.

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A delicious light fluffy flourless cake that’s sweet with a smidge of tart from the apples. Easy to make and even easier to eat. What’s not to love?

Flourless Apple Ripple Cake.

Ingredients:

75g butter
75g dairy free margarine ( I used Nuttelex but you can use all butter or all marg if you prefer)
I big plump vanilla bean
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup rice flour
1 nutmeg
1 apple (I used Pink Lady as that was just what I had – use whatever you have – and leave the skin on, it’s pretty!)
A generous sprinkle of demerara sugar (any sugar will probably do but demerara is great as it holds its chunky crystals shape during baking.)

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Method:

Whisk the crap out of the butter, marg and sugar. I found this is the secret to a really light fluffy gluten free cake. I whisked mine for ages, in the end it looked like whipped cream!
Add the eggs. Mine always curdle – I don’t care. Still works. Add all those beautiful little caviare-like seeds from your vanilla bean. Freshly grate your nutmeg into the mix – I love the stuff so add a heap. Add as much or little as you like. Mix until well combined. Next add the almond meal and rice flour. Feel free to sift it to make it lighter still – I’m too lazy for that step! Now DON’T mix too much. Just mix until it’s evenly combined. I find this also helps in keeping the cake light and delicate and not brick like.

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Pour your batter into a lined cake tin. Slice your apple into thin little wedge slices and arrange all pretty like on your cake. Grate lots more nutmeg over the top. Sprinkle with as much or little demerara sugar as your sweet tooth commands. Bake in oven 180C (160C fan-forced) for about 30 minutes. Timing depends on your cake tin size and shape… so if your cake tin is big and your batter shallow keep an eye on the timing – you may need to shorten it.

Cool cake… for just a moment if you can… then slice and eat… with fresh cream poured over the top if you can eat dairy… or with a cuppa… or both… good luck stopping at one slice.

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Let me know if you make one?

Do you have any delicious gluten free recipes you’d care to share?

Wishing you happy cake eating and time for the things you love.