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)

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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.

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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!

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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.

how do you write?

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The lovely Rachel from The Chronic-Ills of Rach has invited me to participate in a blog hop whereby I answer four questions about my writing process, then invite another blogger to join in and write about theirs. Thanks Rach! Visit Rach’s blog to read about her writing process, I just love that music plays a role in it.

20140618-181545-65745337.jpg Now I need to preface this with a warning. I feel like a bit of a fraud writing this post. I am not a writer. I’ve never done any kind of writing course or training, and school was a very long time ago for me. Besides, when I was at school I was better known for getting an A+ in daydreaming not school work. So I’m writing about writing but I’m not a writer OK? OK… glad we got that sorted!

20140618-181546-65746786.jpg Obviously I do write… but I think of this writing more like a waffle on about the things I love. I do like to play with words… sometimes. And I do like to arrange sentences nicely… sometimes. And I like it all to flow… sometimes. But then sometimes I like it a bit raw and unpolished, and you may trip over my words a bit… I think that’s ok too. You see if I trip over words, it can give me the moment’s pause that I need to hear the penny drop. Plus if you trip over my words here, then you wouldn’t be so surprised if you met me as I do that when I talk too. A bit awkward at times you know? So if nothing else, I’m consistently inconsistent in my approach to writing. For me the photographs tell the story*, I just fill in the gaps and extend on the details. I nearly always start with the photos**.
20140618-181546-65746207.jpg What am I working on?

I am working on my blog and bettering my blogging skills. I’m just finishing up my first e-course, a Blog with Pip course run by the very sweet Pip Lincolne from Meet me at Mikes. Apart from learning of lots of stuff about blogging, it’s given me the motivation to look at all aspects of my blog, funnily enough including writing! Who’d have thunk it?

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Why do I write what I do?

A couple of reasons. Firstly I have a need to get stuff out. You know, the ol’ self expression thing. Who doesn’t hey? We all have our means of doing this. I use other tools to do this too like craft & photography. But sometimes only words will do. With the odd photo thrown in of course!

Secondly, I write this blog as I want to give people a behind the scenes look at my handmade goodies that I sell in my Etsy Shop. I have found a number of great Etsy shops from blogs, and I like and understand the items more because I feel like I know a bit more about how they were made… the person who made them… the environment in which they were made… the vibe and energy they have… they are what they marinate in… does that make sense? It makes the whole process of buying something handmade more special… to me anyway.
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How does my writing process work?

I don’t know if I have a process as such, apart from the above mentioned word, sentence, flow thing I do… sometimes! I can think of something I’d like to write about in my head for a while. Sometimes I’ll use the notes in my phone to jot down a line, sentence, paragraph. (This can be convenient if you’re out and inspiration hits and equally convenient you are too lazy to get up and walk to the computer… I’m looking at me!)

But mostly when I blog, to be really honest, I start with the blank page and some photos, maybe a loose idea of what I’m going to say and just transfer my thoughts via the keyboard. The chatterbox inside my head just loves the instant keyboard outlet and once I start the rest seems to just follow. I seriously started typing this post not knowing what the hell I was going to say… but once I start… it’s a bit like the dam wall breaks and my fingers just have to keep up.

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How does it differ from others in your genre?

I’m not sure… I like my writing to feel natural like a conversation but I do self edit. A lot. When I said waffle before I meant it. I’m not great at keeping it short naturally. I need to get the whole long winded thing out and then go back, cutting, editing and removing all the unwanted unnecessary fluff. I struggle to read really long posts on other blogs, it’s nothing personal, just a time factor thing really. So I consider that a bit when I write a post. I don’t always achieve a short post though, there’s always a bit of waffle somewhere! And this post feels quite enormous… maybe I’m just proving my consistency with being inconsistent to you?

I guess I would like YOU DEAR READER to feel like you’ve had a cuppa and a catchup with me. Granted, it’s a bit one sided with me doing most of the talking, but that’s where the comments come in handy, it feels more like a conversation when there’s a few of them. So feel free to jump in any time!   20140618-181544-65744304.jpg

Well that’s my lot. I don’t think I answered the last question properly but hey, who’s marking this?

kate forster

Now it’s my turn to ask another blogger to join in. I am absolutely thrilled to introduce you to the super lovely Kate Forster. Not only does Kate write her blog with great wit and humour, she is also an author of eleven novels! Kate’s blog What Party is a favourite of mine, I’m guaranteed to leave it feeling better than when I arrived at it… and usually with a smile!

Kate is the author of eleven novels for adults and young adults, and blogs at http://kateforster.wordpress.com. She lives with her family in Melbourne, Australia.

Pop over to Kate’s wonderful blog and learn about her writing process… and join in the conversation below… leave me a comment and let me know – do you have a writing process? Do you like to write? Do you self express via other means? What are they?

Wishing you happy reading, writing and daydreaming my friends…

 

* Except here… I know the photographs are irrelevant to the writing, but I simply couldn’t write to you without including any pretty pictures!
**These pictures came after the writing (just to keep being inconsistent) and the flowers are all blooming at Dove Cottage right now.

kiwi coast blanket

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I crocheted the kiwi coast! It’s finally finished… all those ends are done and a bit fat edge is complete. It’s my biggest blanket yet… and a bit tricky to get it all in one photo.

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I couldn’t tell you exactly how much yarn went in to this blanket except that it was a lot… Like a really really big huge lot of yarn! Mostly pure wool but a couple of wool blends too… one blend with bamboo and a couple of blends with my fave, alpaca.

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It covers a king size bed… just… the sides could have been a bit wider to be honest but it’s got a nice amount of overhang at the end.

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My wavey edge… oh well, it is a coastal blanket! I finished with granny stitch edge then a little bobble (or picot if you prefer) every 9 stitches… ‘cos 9 is a good number and you know me and my OCD with numbers… of course the bobble is 3 stitches so this rounds off my number obsession nicely. Crazy huh?

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The best thing about making this blanket was the freedom in the pattern and colours. I will definitely be making more things using this idea as a base. Just various stitch patterns that work with a similar number of stitches, and a mix of colours. Freedom crochet at it’s best… my fave kind of crochet.

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I can see the different coastal areas we visited in New Zealand when I look at it. I did elaborate on this a bit in my instagram feed… you can see the specific crocheted coast line section with a little story about that coast line if you look through the pictures with this hashtag – #kiwicoastblanket. If you are after the pattern details I linked to a couple of them on this post.

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Wishing you happy days… snuggled in warm blankets… handmade with peace love and sweet holiday memories….