podcasts and craft wagons












The other week I felt like I was the last person on earth that hadn’t opened the Podcast app on their phone. So I decided I was going to investigate this whole podcast thing that I kept hearing about, and a few days later this great post appeared on one of my favourite blogs, Meet me at Mikes. Put it out to the universe and suddenly it comes to you hey? Well after a great head start thanks to Pip, I soon found a few more subjects that piqued my interest and I’ve been ‘podcasting’ ever since. On the drive to and from work, when there’s crap on tv and even when I get outvoted in the tv watching stakes, and there’s some sort of ruby/hunting/fishing show on. I pop my little earplugs in and I’m off in another world learning about amazing people, what makes for good design and why we like to swear. It’s brilliant! Have you tried it yet? What do you listen to?

The first week of spring has brought with it all sorts of beautiful and not freezing mornings, sparkly sunshine on jasmine and dewy raindrops on blossom. My maybush is flowering, the birds are extra happy and chirpy, and it’s a teeny bit lighter when I get home from work. We’ve picked and eaten lots of fresh greens from the garden this week and I’m looking forward to the veggies growing a bit faster than the slow mode of winter. Cakes were baked and eaten in celebration of all the Leo birthdays plus one early Virgo birthday in our family. I made a flourless zesty citrus cake with sweet potato, loosely based on this recipe, a decadent chocolate chip cookie cake loosely based on this recipe (thanks Reannon!).

In other news I’ve been struggling to fit in craft time of late – unheard of for me as I’m usually pretty good at prioritising this, I know my sanity suffers if I don’t. But for some reason it’s taken a back seat for the last few weeks while things got a little chaotic around here in the wardrobe/declutter/move furniture in every.single.room to a new spot mode. Finally we’re settling back into a regular state of slightly ordered chaos, only a bit of furniture rearranging to go, and most of the crazy chaos is gone (some of it just moved outside to the garage!). Anyways, as a result of the lack of craft, unsurprisingly my health has started to suffer and I’ve been feeling a bit average / stressy / overwhelmed… so I got to fixing that by casting on a beanie at the beginning of the week and casting off by the end of the week. It felt so satisfying and so good to be crafting again. I used some fave chunky baby alpaca which was a delight to knit up. The squishyness is impossible to describe or see in the photo but trust me, you’d want to curl up and sleep in this beanie if it was big enough. I talked my son into modelling it for photos again, ‘just pretend you’re a pixie in the flower garden’ I said… you can probably guess which photo is the one I said this in?

Don’t you think it’s funny how even when we know what’s good for us, we still fall off the wagon and forgot/stop to prioritise the things that bring us peace and make us feel good about ourselves and life in general. I’m back on the wagon again and even cleaned out my yarn basket and got myself a few new projects to play with. Bring on the craft and spring sunshine I say!

Wishing you a gentle cushioned landing if you fall off your wagon, and giving you a leg up to get back on again.

Advertisements

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.

craft, music and chocolate

IMG_0305
I’m a bit like this tram at the moment… lots of stops and starts, mostly on the move but kinda going around in circles… it’s been busy lately but there’s been quiet moments too… I’ve been doing a bit of nothing and a heap of everything… Let me see if I can catch you up on some of my favourite things shall I?

IMG_6025
I’m crocheting this blankie.
It’s slow going as I’m changing yarn colour every row… look at all those ends!!! I’m trying to figure out a way to incorporate them into the design and I’ve got an idea, I’ll let you know if it works. I’m loving the colours together and the pattern is a cinch to remember.

IMG_6018
I’m knitting this beanie.
It is going to be quite luxurious. A squishy and soft beanie using two different yarn blends. The darker grey is a mix of alpaca, wool and bamboo. The lighter grey is alpaca, wool and silk. Deliciously chunky and quite the delight to knit as I’m not using a pattern, just winging it.

IMG_0296
I’m baking treats.
I made a batch of my Allergy Friendly Toasty Fruit Bread the other day, only I made a variation of the recipe. Ha – what a shock hey? I am a huge fan of ginger so instead of dried fruit I added crystalized ginger. And I was extra generous with the ginger spice too so it turned out a little like a gingerbread bread… kinda… if you use your bread-deprived imagination. Oh and I tried a garlic and herb version too and it turned out a treat. I popped the savoury mix into a muffin tin so I now have little thyme and garlic bread-like muffin things. I zap them for a mini in the microwave and slather too much butter on. Not too shabby at all.


I’m listening to a lot of Shakey Graves.
I love the way this guy makes music. Both hands, both feet, his voice and his heart. I was lucky enough to see Shakey Graves supporting Shovels & Rope recently and it was the best gig. You know when you see someone doing something and you think to yourself, yep they are doing exactly what they are meant to be doing in life. I really do love my music and discovering new music to enjoy is one life’s sweetest pleasures.

I also ate way too much chocolate over Easter but hey, the Bunny made me do it! I love the guilt free chocolate breakfast that comes with Easter. My break was full of good quality chocolate (because I’m a chocolate snob as well as a coffee snob) including a new to me variety of Lindt balls – Caramel with Sea Salt… umm… yummmm… and too much of my fave Willie’s Cacao milk chocolate with sea salt, deadly discovery that one. And to balance out the indulgence of a chocolate filled Easter, I planted some silver beet, chives, cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy and celery in the veggie garden. Am sure the digging in the garden worked off at least one chocolate ball!?

So how about you, what have you been up to? More importantly, what’s your favourite Chocolate?

Wishing you chocolate filled breakfasts, and music that makes your heart sing.

allergy friendly toasty fruit bread

IMG_5490
This delicious toasty bread has no flour, no cornflour, no tapioca, and no nuts or grains of any kind! It’s gluten free, nut free and dairy free. I know, what IS in it hey? The secret to this allergy friendly toasty fruit bread is the humble spud! This recipe has been a long time coming. There were many trials and even more disasters. Then finally I made the most delicious fruit toast I’ve tasted for 10 years. That said I haven’t actually eaten toast for close to 10 years, so my comparison scale might be a tad off. Forgive me.

This recipe does come with warnings though;

  • Anything gluten free can be a bit hit and miss. Sorry if this misses for you.
  • It’s not really a bread eating kind of bread. It really comes into its own when you toast it. I slice my loaves and then freeze them, popping them straight into the toaster from the freezer.
  • If you don’t like fruit loaf, you may want to try some other flavourings. On its own without the spices and fruit it’s a bit elyuko. Too much like some weird potatoey dish gone wrong. A friend suggested a herb and garlic version which would do a great job masking the odd flavour. I’m yet to try that one but I will… thanks Jill!
  • There is a couple of processes to this bread, it’s not my favourite chuck it all in a bowl and mix method.
  • I have a dodgy airy oven so cooking time seems to change every time I cook it. The idea is to cook it long and slow or else the crust will burn. Tweak the timings to suit your dodgy or not so dodgy oven.
  • If you choose to slather it with butter and top it with homemade Peach & Vanilla Bean Jam, I can’t be held responsible for how much you devour!

IMG_5498
Alrighty, time for toast yes?

Allergy Friendly Toasty Fruit Bread.

Ingredients:

  • 600gm cooled mashed potato (dry mash, don’t add any butter/milk)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup potato flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar for the whites
  • 1/4 cup sugar for the yolks
  • 1/2 tablespoon bi carb soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of sultanas and/or currants or whatever dried fruit you like
  • 1/4 cup dates (I use the medjool ones)
  • Lots of Spices: Add what you like really but I added heaped teaspoons of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Be generous with them.
  • Pinch of salt (for luck!)

Method:

  • Whisk the whites of the eggs with their 1/4 cup of sugar until they are stiff peaks.
  • In another bowl mix all the dry ingredients. Sift if you can be bothered or whisk if you like short cuts (thanks lunchlady!). Toss the dried fruit through the dry ingredients.
  • Next you want to whisk the yolks with their 1/4 cup of sugar until they are really light in colour and fluffy. Add the mashed potato to the yolk mix and mix well.
  • Now you can lightly fold and gently mix all three mixes together – the egg white mix, the yolk potato mix and the dry mix.
  • Pour into a lined loaf tin and pop in a preheated 160c degree oven for about 40 odd minutes – give or take 15 -20 minutes! Keep an eye on it, it may need more or less depending on your oven and loaf tin size. Probably more so check it often. I use a really large tin 30cm L x 5cm W x 7cm D. If you have mix left over pop it in some little dishes if you have them. I used some baby heart cake tins with the over on my last quadruple mix, and they turned out pretty cute!

IMG_5478
Peach & Vanilla Bean Jam

Ingredients:

  • 2.5kg of chopped clingstone peaches. And I left the skin on, seemed like a hell of lot of work to take it off kilos of peaches!
  • 1 kg sugar
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 3 vanilla beans
  • Oh and I added 2 apples as my peaches were just under the 2.5kg weight and I wanted to remember quantities! The apples were my homegrown freshly picked granny smiths and I think they added a good hit of pectin as my jam set like a boss.

Method:

  • Cook the peaches down a bit first until they soften. Then add the sugar, lime juice and vanilla beans/skins. Cook it bubbling away and stirring often, for an hour or two. Pour into sterilised jars.

 

Ok that’s enough recipes for one post. If you do make either the jam or bread, let me know? If you’re looking for me I’ll be in the window seat eating toast and jam!

Wishing you hot buttery toasty mornings and peachy sweet jam.

 

when life gives you lemons

IMG_4501
IMG_4520
IMG_45661
IMG_4528
IMG_4539
IMG_4482
Gifted with a large box of lemons, I obviously had to make a triple batch of lemon curd. I mean really, is there a better way to honour and respect the lemon? Lemon butter, lemon custard, lemon honey, lemon curd – whatever you want to call it, you can’t deny it’s deliciousness now can you? A while back I had a bit of a lemon butter off, trialling two different recipes. The outcome was that I’d make up a new recipe using bits of both. This batch of Lemon Curd is just that. It’s pretty simple and didn’t take too long to prepare… and lets face it, bowl licking duties with this stuff practically demands you make it often!

I have started knitting with my baby alpaca yarn that I brought back from Cusco, but it’s hard to photograph and I got frustrated trying. You see it’s Turquoise yarn, but the camera either makes it blue or green. Not Turquoise which is that gorgeous mix of both. So you’ll have to wait till I’m feeling more patient for a photo of this project. In the meantime, I crocheted up the sweet Market Bag with delicious sounding cotton from Bendigo Woollen Mills, Honeydew and Latte. The pattern is from the lovely Michelle at Poppy & Bliss, and you can find her super easy tutorial over at the fabulous My Poppet by Cintia. I follow Michelle on IG and her feed is so colourful and happy, a testament to her great eye for colour. I’ve only just discovered Cintia at My Poppet but I like what I’ve seen so far! I’m totally loving her latest post with a homemade notebook. Such a terrific idea, I think I’ll have to add it to my crafty to do list.

After a while trying to figure out how I was going to make Emma Dean’s Rhubarb Cake Gluten Free and Sour Cream Free, I finally figured it out… kinda… I subbed the sour cream with Lemon Curd! De-freaking-licious!! But very ugly. And it sort of fell apart a bit too, so my adaptation didn’t go totally smoothly. Even Emma says it’s an ugly cake, and it is, but I do think mine was made uglier by the fact that it was too crumbly and sort of collapsed on itself. I’ll give it another go with some tweaking, and hopefully, I’ll be able to share my gluten free version with you soon. I baked my heart out today. Lemon Curd, Ugly Rhubarb & Lemon Curd Cake and I also made some Apple & Ginger Cup Cakes. They were pretty ugly too but man did they taste good! It’s not all about looking pretty, sometimes taste buds get to rule.

My garden is letting me know that spring is nearing a close. The last couple of Peonies are about to bloom and the roses are everywhere. It’s divine and to pick a bunch of flowers from my garden fills me with such joy and contentment and peace. It’s a great reminder to get out in the garden and look after it as I do have a bit of a tough love attitude to gardening. You gotta be tough and fight for your right ’round here. No mollycoddling, get planted, watered occasionally, fertilized rarely, and loved daily. I’ve been here long enough to have let the weaklings ‘go’ (they died!), so only the brave and beautiful remain. And the weeds of course. But that’s life isn’t? The flowers with the weeds. The delicious with the ugly. The good with the bad.

Next time life gives you lemons, I recommend lemon curd. It makes everything better.

Wishing you juicy zesty sweet lemons.. and may you be loved daily too.

a cuppa, a cake (recipe) and a chat

flourless apple ripple cake 7
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.

flourless apple ripple cake 1
one
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.

flourless apple ripple cake 2
two
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!

flourless apple ripple cake 3
three
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?

flourless apple ripple cake 4
four
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.

flourless apple ripple cake 5
five
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.)

flourless apple ripple cake 6
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.

flourless apple ripple cake 8
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.

flourless apple ripple cake 9
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.