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!

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my smile inducers… january

In the spirit of that old thing ‘what you focus on grows’…. it’s time to look for some smile inducing moments… I’ll go first shall I?
In no particular order….
 
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When my boy told me about choosing to spend his precious few last backpacking dollars on a book to keep him entertained on the long trip home from Colombia to Australia, instead of buying a meal. I feel like I must have done something right there, books over food… and he loves his food!
 
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Watching hubby chase the birds out of our apple trees… he’s pretty tall and lanky (think praymantis) and when he hears those familiar lorakeit-gorging-sounds, he flys out the door, leaps over whatever debris is in the backyard (currently a teasingly-lazy-hammock), and furiously waves a big stick at the birds, telling them in no uncertain terms to buggar off! Ahh if only he’d let me take a photo of this, I’m sure you’d be smiling!
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Eating my homegrown veggies… I don’t mean to bang on about it, but it seriously makes me so happy and smiley with every mouthful!
 
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The Humans of New York website… yes I know, I’m late to the party… I usually am… some of the stories are a quite heartbreaking but the inspirational warm and fuzzies mostly outweigh the sad bits… I’d love ALL school teachers to read this one
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Mondays! I know, who’d have thunk it! I’m so enjoying my new dear monday series I’m actually looking forward to Mondays so I can reminisce over my holiday photos and pick just the right one for that particular Monday… that may be the ONLY thing I’m looking forward on Mondays, but hey, it’s a start.
 
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Listening to pearls of wisdom from Ralph on Landline, who is now 84 and still working in the timber mill he designed and built when he was in his 60’s. The classic understated country way he spoke, and how this rolled off the tongue, made me smile indeed:
“There are things in it [the saw mill] that I didn’t do right, because, let’s face it, a fella whose never made a mistake, he’s never made anything”… and aint that the truth!
 
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This blog… if you’re ever having a crap day just pop over here for some guaranteed authentic cheery attitude… you really can’t help but leave a Pip post without a smile. I’d just love to have more of that cheery disposition so I pop over regularly in the hope that it’ll rub off a bit.
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Getting a flat tyre on a pretty road… admittedly the pretty road induced more of a smile than the flat, although it was the second flat in 2 weeks so I kinda had to smile. Smile or *swear! And really, what can you do? Change it, enjoy the scenery, move on and smile about the good fortune of breaking down in a pretty peaceful part of the country I say.
 
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Music is especially giving me plenty of heart smiles lately… Being able to escape the everyday into favourite songs whilst crocheting is one of my all time favourite things to do… I’m loving the whole Sweet Apple CD but especially this song, and this song.
 
Ok, now it’s your turn… tell me something that’s made you smile lately… big or little it doesn’t matter… a smile shared is… a smile shared!

May your smile-o-meter runneth over with happy.

 

*Of course I did plenty of that too!

 

my smile inducers… october

There’s been so many things to smile about lately that I thought it was high time for another smile inducers post… and a warning… I’ve been smiling lots!

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Blanket
Ducklings on Water blanket… all alpaca and baby alpaca and pure merino wool… in Pip from Meet me at Mikes Cheery Wave Ripple Pattern… squishy soft and delightful colours… a custom order for a sweetie who requested blue, grey, cream and yellow… these were some of the shades in my stash and they worked beautifully together.

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Scarf
So much so that I had to make a scarf out of the same colours… I found this pattern on the sweet Dottie Angel blog… I’m loving crocheting this pattern, so easy and chunky and bubbly.

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Rufus
Writing a special little message and sending Rufus Rad Rabbit off into the world to find his new home… I really enjoyed making my first Softies for Mirabel and to be honest was a smidge sad to say goodbye… but only for a brief moment as I know he’s off to fulfill his life calling… and you’ve got be happy for people/rabbits who find what it is that they are meant to be doing in life… and do it.

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The Nursery Project
I reckon these guys are doing just that…Rohan Anderson and Kate Berry have created The Nursery Project“Simply put, we imagine a place where we can share the idea of eating real food and living well. We aim to create a place for people to the learn skills to grow, raise, harvest and cook real food.”* What a great idea hey… you can read lots more about it here.
This terrific idea needs funds to get it off the ground… and thanks to the beauty of crowdfunding, we can help make it happen. I love the whole idea of crowdfunding… someone has a dream… asks people if they want to help make it come true… and people do… It’s the people doing it for themselves and that pretty cool! The Nursery Project is a place that’ll inspire and teach people, and that’s the sort of thing that I love to support. So if you want to help dreams come true, check out this link and offer a few dollars.

*text and the image above is from The Nursery Project website

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Homegrown
Growing your own veggies is so satisfying… it’s something we’ve only just got back into… inspired by blogs like Whole Larder Love and Foxs Lane… who’d have thunk a little baby cauliflower could bring such smiles to two grown adults! It’s my first homegrown cauli… can you tell?
We’ve just got a long narrowish ugly spot out the back… near a falling down fence… but the veggies we’ve enjoyed so far are broccolini, broccoli, bok choy, radish, swiss chard, cos lettuce, snow peas and sugar snap peas. Not bad from a small patch… homegrown veggies make me smile big time!

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Weaving
The latest addition to my crafty ways… I’ve never done it before and am totally making it up as I go… though I did buy the complete kit from the Finders Keepers Market last week which came with these gorgeous fibres… hand dyed indigo pure wool is pretty hard for me walk by… and it came with instructions on how to do four basic stitches…
I couldn’t help but think of all the amazing weaving I saw in Cusco recently as I weaved away… and the traditionally dressed women I saw weaving at the markets, by the side of the road, in the shops… so many of them with their long hair in plaits… it seemed pretty natural to add a plait to my weaving.

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Memories
Speaking of Cusco, I just love looking back at the photos of our holiday. Especially from the two days we spent at Machu Picchu… You won’t see too many photos of me on this blog but the time at Machu Picchu is etched so deeply in my heart that it doesn’t seem right to not have it recorded here…
The second day we visited we were blessed with the most incredible exhilarating thunderstorm… watching those water channels come to life and divert the rain water like they have done for hundreds of years was such a privilege… listening to the birds tweet the happiest of songs after the rain had stopped and the sun came out was magical… Oh and can you see the face in the mountain? Yep, big swelling heart smiles here.

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Crochet
Happy coloured granny squares… arranged on the coffee table in the order I’m going to stitch them together… waiting patiently for me to stop getting distracted with new projects… but looking pretty while they wait!

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Roses
Roses always make me smile… but old English roses that smell like fruit punch… they just blow my socks off… every year when Abraham Darby blooms her pretty petals and smells so sweet and looks so pretty with her peachy coloured goodness, she tops my favourite list again. Sticking my nose into the centre of this flower and taking a deep breath is one of life’s sweetest treats.

So that’s what’s been making me smile lately… how about you? Care to share? Add your link below by clicking on the froggy so I can see what’s making you smile… Or tell me in the comments or hashtag #mysmileinducers on Instagram… I’d LOVE to see yours!

May you see your dreams into fruition and smell the sweetest smelling roses.

my smile inducers… august

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I finally heard from my son yesterday after quite a few weeks of no contact… I’m such a worrier when things go quiet. He’s volunteering at an animal refuge in Bolivia and tells me ‘things are fantastic’. He’s been travelling since January and it’s the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing him. But I’ll be meeting him at Machu Picchu soon (OMG I still can’t believe it!), and he’s so so happy and that makes my heart smile!

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My gorgeous daughter and her lovely fiancée have decided to get married in Iceland… by themselves! And although this makes me a bit sad that I won’t see her getting married, there are two things about this that make me smile. One is that there’ll be a big party to celebrate when they get back and they will be wearing their wedding outfits so I’ll still get to her as a beautiful bride. And two is that I’m so damn proud of her doing it her way. As you can see from this cute photo, she loves adventure and travel. The fact that her wedding will include both of these things is testament to her living her dream and following her big beautiful heart. Heart smiles all ’round.

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We are blessed with a lot of lovely Leo women in our family, so August means lots of yummy birthday cake and a family birthday gathering. My amazing sis made all of those cakes! And I can vouch for 3 of them, they were delicious! I couldn’t eat the cup cakes for my sweet nieces sweet 16th birthday as they weren’t gluten free, otherwise I would have had four pieces of birthday cake! Flourless Chocolate Brownie cake, Pavlova cake and Persian Love Cake smiles.

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Hubby has been getting lots of orders in for his Stockman Leathercraft hand plaited belts lately. He’s been plaiting non stop every night when he gets home from work. I love that people want to buy his beautifully crafted belts and it makes me smile when he has that ‘I just sold another belt’ smile on his face. There’s something special about that feeling when people appreciate your craft, it makes your heart smile.

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I’m finally ready to list my Popping Candy Blanket in the shop. I think if I wait to take the photos that I’ll be happy with, I’ll never get my stuff listed. So this baby is in the shop, ready or not! I have to laugh at myself being so pedantic about my photos. I need to accept that I can’t take the best photos of my finished products for the shop, but I do the best I can and should just get over myself wanting them to be perfect. So I’ve been doing a bit of smiling at myself lately, and given myself a good talking to about unrealistic expectations. Tell me, do you do that? You know, shake your head at yourself and have a bit of a giggle?

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Making this custom blanket order, it makes me smile every time I pick it up. I haven’t worked with pure alpaca for a while, I’ve been using a lot of alpaca blends, or wool or cotton. But pure alpaca is such a delight to crochet with. And what makes my smile beam from ear to ear, is knowing I’m heading to alpaca-yarn-city soon! Our trip to Peru is not far off and my hubby is under strict instructions to pack light so he can take an empty suitcase which I will joyfully fill with alpaca yarn! He’s got a new nickname for the trip, Alpacapacker.

So many reasons to smile, I do feel very lucky that these smile inducing things are going on in my life right now… And what about you? Is there something that’s been making you smile lately? Are they heart smiles or regular smiles or both? Add your link on the froggy below so I can pop over and see what’s making you smile or hashtag #mysmileinducers on Instagram.

Wishing you smiley days and happy hearts…

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.