all chill, no guilt… sort of…
















Can you believe it’s been a year since our little tree change? A year of ‘life on the farm’ with all the big and little changes that come when you move to the country. Although my ‘to do’ list overwhelms me I feel the need to write you… I really want to share some moments as I know time fades the details and my memories.

The fog blankets that roll up and down these mountains are some of the thickest fogs I’ve seen in my life… at times you can watch it roll in, gently yet persistently moving across the land, hugging the ground tight and gobbling up trees and hills until the landscape completely disappears into the white… I’ve seen midnight look so bright outside when the moon is full and the fog is thick… the moonlight bounces through the fog illuminating the dense white blanket … it’s eerily beautifully… and treacherous to drive in.

As I sit right now we are due for rain and thunderstorm… so far the rain has been minimal, a few heavy spits that last for a brief minute or two… but the thunder is rolling up the valley below which creates an echo, making the thunder so loud and deep you feel it in your bones. It’s a sound so big and the energy it brings is electrifying… all the sheep are taking cover under the trees, they seem to know the weather is about to turn… they hunker down together in groups and as soon as it passes they will come out and do their ‘furious munch’ as I call it, where they eat frantically like they’ve been starved for days… as they do every evening before dark falls.

Summer has bleached the green out of the mountains and left a golden shine during the day… at sunset or sunrise the mountains come into their own… it seems the light golden hue of the grass reflects the colours in a sunrise or sunset beautifully… I can look out and see dusky pink mountain tops against a dusky pink sky, or peachy hill tops against a peachy sunrise… It’s exquisite and I hope to capture the delicateness in a photo one day.

I have a basket of quince, a basket of juicy sweet pears, some delicious quince jelly, quince paste and zucchini butter from our lovely neighbours and I can’t help but feel so lucky we landed in such a friendly country road… Our veggie garden has produced more juicy sweet rockmelon that I can eat and share, so I’ve taken to freezing it chopped up and will use it for smoothies. I probably should be picking my cucumbers right now and learning how to pickle them… I’ve bookmarked so many different types of pickle recipes but none that feel just right – call me Goldilocks. We’re not quite sick of zucchinis just yet, but thanks to my neighbour I can step away from the zoodles and fritters and have a go at making zucchini butter. I’d never heard of it until I was gifted a jar. And onions, we’ve had heaps, can’t remember the last time I bought some actually. But the potatoes, well they’ve been the biggest disappointment so far, not just for the measly harvest they produced, but the effort vs harvest ratio… we don’t know what happened to them, but there were hardly any to dig up and when we did there were plenty of rotten ones unearthed too. The beans were ok, plenty of delicious ones to start with but they turned woody and tough quite quickly… pretty sure we either left some too long or didn’t water them enough… or both. The tomatoes are starting to ripen and we’re getting a reasonable amount but not as much as I had expected for the amount of plants we put in. There is much to learn – that I know… and I suspect the very exposed nature of our veggie garden is playing her part too… the fierce winds we get up here on our hill are the strongest winds I’ve experienced… I think this is stunting the plants a little and hindering their efforts to excel… I have added ‘develop some sort of screening’ to our ever growing overwhelming threatening to swallow us whole ‘to do’ list.

Of course the ‘to do’ list is taking a little longer to get through too as I’m now working. Locally. Part time. Another piece of the puzzle that fits exactly how we dreamed it would. Ridiculously lucky I know. And feeling so happy and grateful that’s it all worked out, pretty much just how we wanted it to (short of wining tattslotto!). It’s just going to take a bit of time to balance what needs to be done around the farm and making sure we squeeze in some chill out time to rest our weary bones as the ‘to do’ list seems to go a bit like the one step forward, two steps backwards thing. I’m ticking off the chill out time today though, writing to you… and next I’m going to make another batch of ‘Grandma’s Butterscotch’ (so good!), then I’m going to nibble on that whilst I have a go at some knitting or crochet … I’ve decided the rest of today will be all chill and no guilt… I may not succeed in either of those but I’m sure going to have a good go at it.

Wishing you guilt free chill out time with your favourite candy x

gluten free cinnamon biscuits









Oh my, I just had to share my latest little kitchen experiment with you, they are too delicious not to. It all started when my dad developed this yummy gluten free biscuit that my mum and I can both eat. (mum and I have many similar food intolerances/allergies). Anyway after eating Dad’s scrummy bikkies that taste just like a classic Nice biscuit I was reminded how having a cuppa and biscuit is just about the best thing ever, one of life’s sweet little simple pleasures. It got me thinking, if I can’t make the time to do some experimental biscuit baking whilst I’m on my lovely precious sabbatical, then when can I? So I got to it and these are the results… they are easy and only need basic ingredients that are most likely staples in a gluten free kitchen anyway.


Ingredients

1 Egg
120g Butter
1/2 cup Rice Flour
1/2 cup Potato Flour
1/2 cup Almond Meal
1/2 cup Hazelnut Meal
1/2 cup Caster Sugar
1tsp Baking Powder
2tsp Cinnamon
Slurp of Maple Syrup

Method
Cream the butter and sugar til fluffy, add the egg and maple syrup and mix well.
Sift potato flour and rice flour then mix all dry ingredients together.
Add dry ingredients to butter mixture then stir and mix until combined.
Spoon dollops onto a lined tray and dust with extra sugar and cinnamon.
Bake for 18-20 minutes at 160c degrees (fan forced oven).
Allow to cool, if you can, then demolish at least half the batch just to make sure they are ok.

I think they taste a little like those yummy cinnamony bikkies Speculaas, but I’ve also tweaked the recipe with molasses instead of maple syrup, lots of ginger and a dash of nutmeg and cloves and this version reminds me of Gingernut biscuits. Yum yum, so many biscuits, so little time! I’m off to put the kettle on for another cuppa and biscuit session.

May life’s simple little pleasures fill your heart with joy and your bikkie tin with your favourites.

ginger & turmeric syrup





‘Cup of tea or coffee? Ginger Syrup?’ Chances are if you visit me that’s what I’ll say. Followed by ‘I make this homemade ginger syrup and use it like cordial with sparkling water. It’s a lovely refreshing drink, would you like to try some?’ … I guess it’s quite the sell job really but unless you are a ginger hater you will probably love my ginger syrup. Well that’s been my experience in offering it so far anyway. I thought I’d share how I make it as most people that try it usually ask for the recipe. This version is the turmeric one but just leave that out if you’d prefer a plain ginger syrup.

I’ve been making ginger syrup for years and it’s become one of those things that I hate to run out of. I tend to make a couple of litres every couple of weeks as it’s the main thing I drink apart from cuppas. I found the inspiration for my original recipe at this fabulous blog by the lovely Rhonda. Of course me being me I tweaked the recipe somewhat, partly due to the fact that I can tolerate limes better than lemons and partly due to laziness. I no longer grate my ginger, and I don’t peel it either. I just wash it and scrub it with a firm brush to remove any dirt. I’ve taken to adding fresh turmeric in my ginger syrup over the last few months and am loving both the subtle flavour and the health benefits of consuming turmeric regularly. Be warned though, the fresh turmeric will stain everything it touches so don’t use your favourite chopping board! I use gloves so I don’t have yellow/orange fingers for days.

This isn’t a recipe as such, more of a guide. It’s only cordial so you can’t go wrong really! Oh and all you ‘no sugar people’ best look away now, this is not a low sugar drink, it is a cordial/syrup after all.

Ginger & Turmeric Syrup

INGREDIENTS
Ginger – approx 3-4 pieces the size of your hand
Turmeric – approx 1 piece the size of your palm
Raw sugar – approx one mountain equal in size to the mountain of chopped ginger/turmeric.
Limes – approx 3 to 6 (depending on availability and price!)

HOW TO MAKE IT
Scrub the ginger and turmeric to clean any residual dirt.
Chop as finely as you can be bothered, the finer the better.
Pile into large pot forming a single mountain, I use a big 6.7 litre pot (I think!).
Pour in sugar to make roughly the same size mountain as the ginger.
Peel or zest limes and add juice.
Fill the pot with water.
Bring to the boil then simmer for an hour or three.
Turn off heat and allow to steep for another hour or three. (or overnight if you run out of time/can’t be bothered)
Strain into bottles or jugs and keep in the fridge.

That’s it, simple hey? I’m not sure how long it lasts as ours doesn’t make it beyond a couple of weeks. I like it served with sparkling water but tap water is fine too.

Let me know if you make some? Or if you have any questions about my vague guide?

May your cup runneth over x

homemade dairy free cheese

I know, it sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? But it is true and I have proof. Granted it’s a soy based cheese so I know you dairy eaters may scoff at it, but for us non dairy eaters this is quite the treat. And if you have a bunch of allergies, it’s even more so a treat as there are only two ingredients in it. What? I know, it’s almost amazing! Soymilk and the good old lemon. That’s it. That’s all you need to make your own dairy free ricotta cheese.

I found the dairy version of this recipe and the inspiration to make it on the blog of the lovely Kate Berry, Lunch Lady. I asked Kate if it was possible to make the ricotta with soy milk, when she said yes I went out and bought myself a thermometer in preparation of a cheese eating weekend I was going to have. It was super easy to make, didn’t take too long and left me with a decent size tub of Ricotta cheese to pig out on and enjoy on my cardboard rice crackers. I ate a lot of it with rice crackers and ham topped with gherkins, and boy were they delicious.

So for all you allergy sufferers out there, missing cheese like you miss having the energy of a 6 year old, you might want to give this homemade dairy free cheese a go. You’ll be smothering your allergy friendly bread / crackers in it in no time.

May your belly be full of your favourite cheese / bread / chocolate * …
*insert craving of choice

my smile inducers… may 2015

It’s smile time! I want to stop and think about the things that make me smile… smile… and maybe… hopefully… make you smile… and get you thinking about the things that bring a happy smile to your face… or heart… or both. #smilefest

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Another beanie finished and another kid obliged with photos. On a roll. Although the best photo from this lot turned out to be the one where I said ‘You can’t roll your eyes in the photo!’. You know how your kids (adult really – he’s nearly 24!) can get all eyeball rolling when you want to take 20 photos of them in your knitted goods, in the cold, outside? Geez, I can’t understand it! This beanie is a roll up or down cuff variety and is thick and cozy and warm with its beautiful New Zealand wool and a mix of a bamboo/alpaca/merino blend. Chunky and solid and quite ‘blokey’ I reckon.  
Bonus smile: He told me that ‘I turned out pretty good’ [as a parent], it came out in conversation quite innocently even though it sounds a bit weird, the kid telling the parent they turned out ok. We had a good laugh about it and I told him I think he turned out pretty good too… and I have this other beanie I need to photograph…

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This beautiful card brought a heartfelt smile to my face. The stunning image was created from a stamp that my clever daughter drew and then carved out. The movement in the petals, the design in the leaves… Oh how her creative talents blow me away!

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It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Pip Lincoln from Meet me at Mikes, and her latest book ‘Craft for the Soul’ is a smile inducer of the most sincerest kind. There’s so many great ideas in this book to bring some ‘nice times’ into your life, that you’d be hard pressed to feel anything but happy when reading it. Terrific practical ideas to encourage out the creative, spark ideas, and move in the direction you really want to go in. I found myself smirking and giggling quite a bit throughout this book, Pip’s sense of humour is pretty cute! I can see it’s going to be one of those books that I’ll come back to time and time again, and tap into its motivation and positive can do attitude. I don’t even think you need to be crafty to enjoy this book. If you’re on the hunt for a smile then I highly recommend picking yourself up a copy. You’ll be smiling before you know it and maybe even making a pom pom, or crocheting a blanket, or going for a walk everyday, or writing 3 pages every morning.

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We have an arch in the backyard and nearly everyday the same two doves come and sit on top of the arch and snuggle and cuddle and fluff up their feathers and look all cute. My little Dove Cottage has its own little resident love doves. Awww.

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Magical walks under pretty Autumn trees as the leaves gently rain down. Impossible to not smile.

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Walking on fallen crunchy Autumns leaves puts a spring in my step and makes me feel like a kid. If you always stay on the path, then veer off under the tree and take yourself on a crunchy walk and feel the corners of your mouth creep up towards your cheeks!

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The other day I was down and out with one of those dreaded winterish lurgies. My throat was the worst hit, so I took to my trusty old medicine that I purchased in Paris a couple of years ago. Because when I went to live the Paris dream holiday, my tonsils decided it was party time. I fixed them good and proper with a natural medicine bought from the ‘Herboristerie’ down the ‘rue’ (herbalist’s shop). This medicine has a distinct smell and taste (don’t all herbal remedies?) and every time I have it, I am immediately transported back to Paris, wandering the boulevards with my sister, chirping bonjour in a bad accent, and smiling at anybody who looked at me. So, being hit with a sore throat these days has a sweet memory filled smiley french side effect. Nice.

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Toast and Peach Jam made my with homegrown clingstone peaches. Exactly! This is probably just a delicious moment for most people, but for someone deprived of bready goodness for the best part of a decade, it is indescribable joy. I am making my special potato bread on a regular basis and enjoying a bready type breakfast e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y.!.!.!.! It’s such a thrill! Tho’ I might cry when I run out of my Peach Jam.

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I finished this lovely lacey Cashmere blankie. It’s so light and has the softest drape and it made me so very happy to gift it to my mum for Mother’s Day.

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So that’s my little walk down smiley lane. How about you? What’s been making you smile? What’s made your heart happy lately? Has something put the spring in your step? Share a smiley moment in the comments if you’d like… I love to hear some… smiles are contagious you know…

Sending a happy smile your way, hope you catch it!

one + four = life (baking, knitting, gardening and belts)

The one + four = life series is a ‘lovely weekly visual treat’ created by the lovely Pip from Meet me at Mikes.

herby muffins
Baking
These are my ugly but delicious Herby Bready Muffiny Thingys. Quite the mouthful I know but very tasty ones at that. Adapted from my Allergy Friendly Toasty Fruit Bread recipe they are fast becoming a fave regular breakfast for me. Only a minute in the microwave and a generous lashing of butter and I have myself a filling healthy tasty warm breakfast. That’s a winter winner in my books.

beanie love
Knitting
I started another beanie as soon as I finished the Baby it’s cold outside Beanie. I’ve since finished this one and am considering which yarn to use for the next one. I’m a bit addicted to beanie knitting I think. They’re fast and satisfying, what’s not to love?

veggie patch
Gardening
I’m so thrilled with my celery babies… having only recently learned about the whole grow-a-new-veg-from-the-old-veg thing. Do you do that? Do you know about it? Chopping the bottom off your celery and planting it? “They” say to put it in water for a week or so first, to get the roots started, but the lazy option of planting said celery bottom direct into the soil works too. Yay for shortcuts and cheap veg I say.

belts belts belts
Belts
Thing number 196 about being married to a leather man: You will stumble across long strands of leather, stretching from one room to another, tied to chairs, doors, cupboards etc, tempting a midnight trip should you forget they are there.
Some of these belts are in Charlie’s Shop already but most of them are still to be photographed and listed. It’s on the list. But recently we spent a bit of time creating a new item for the shop where you can design your own plaited belt. You simply pick your plait type, leather colour and buckle type, and Charlie plaits it up. It’s been something we’ve talked about doing for ages so to finally tick that one off the list is super satisfying.

I also came across a very interesting little read on the internet this week that I wanted to share. Five things I’ve learned about the creative process by Ben Lee is inspiring and encouraging. An interesting article that helped me look at the creative process a little differently, I thought you might like it too. Let me know what you think?

May you tick something off your list and enjoy hot buttery bready breakfasts.