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.

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freedom crafting

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Citrus Blossom Bag
100% cotton, crochet.

Remember back here and that ugly unpicking session?

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Well, after that session I ended up with a few spare citrus blossom squares…. so I decided to turn them into a handle for a bag… silver linings!

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I made the bag pattern up as I went. But I have made similar bags before back here, here and here. These bags were adapted from a pattern on Purl Soho here. But this time I wanted to wing it on my own. A bit of freedom crafting.

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Forget Me Not Bag
100% cotton, crochet.

This bag was made with somebody very special in mind and was gifted to that someone special on mother’s day. Hi mum x

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I absolutely love forget me not flowers, and mum likes them too, and her mum (my grandma) loved them too… so the whole theme kinda worked well for a mother’s day bag I thought. I think once you’ve made a couple of bags with the pattern, it’s rather easy to whip up a bag freestyle. And when I say whip it up, don’t be mislead, as easy as these guys are to make, they take ages… So. many. chain. stitches.

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Pretty Belle Bag.
100% Cotton Pink, 100% Wool Blue, Cotton / Bamboo Blend other colours.

I started to experiment a bit more with the colours, yarn, shape and base of this bag. I really love the bell shape that evolved and the extra little ridges near the base.

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And I thought a long handle with puffy stitches would make it lovely and soft on the shoulder and look a bit cute too! The bags that I made a few years back get thrashed. I use them all the time and am always amazed by just how much you can stuff in them. Once you’ve made one you’ll surely want try some freedom crafting with them and play around with the shapes and sizes. And I think they are a rather granny chic style of bringing home your groceries.

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I’m still crocheting my Kiwi Coast Blanket too. I’m loving the mix of colours and the freedom in picking stitches and row colours. But alas there is some serious edging issues going on. The sides kinda move in and out. I’m telling myself it’s just like the waves on the beaches and it’s ok. But I sense a big chunky edging cover up in the future. This blanket is for me so I don’t feel like it has to be perfect. It’s quite liberating actually as I’m ridiculously pedantic for things that I make for other people or the shop. It’s become my freedom crafting blanket in a different way I guess. Which is a perfect match to the meditation sessions I do whilst crocheting it. Kate’s #motifmayday has been a great reminder to me about being really present and quiet and calm whilst I crochet.

Do you loosen up on the perfection when it’s just something for yourself? Wishing you happy freedom crafting and pretty bags to carry your groceries in.

eight random things

This is meant to be ten random things but I only got to eight. Ten random things is the lovely Kate from Foxs Lane’s idea… you can see her ten random things here

red and white heart garland
hearts & pom pom garland
I’ve been making heart garlands again lately… Am loving having lots of little crochet hearts hanging around, they make great little wrapping embellishments too.

yarnbag
I cleaned out my yarn bag… believe it or not this is my cleaned out version! Next project will definitely have to be one that uses up all the half used balls in various colours and blends… I would really like to stop myself cracking into the big yarn stash and make something with these leftovers. Any suggestions?

peace catcher card
monets bees card
I’ve been making cards with my photos. The bees of Monet’s garden always make me smile and the peace catcher image really does feel peaceful.

knitted blanket with too many ends!
I have not sewn one single end in on this blanket! Instead I started a whole new blanket… as you do! I just can’t face them right now… so many… so overwhelming…

stockman leathercraft leather
I’m loving the new leather hide hubby got for his birthday… the gorgeous natural colour is right up my alley. I’ve already put my request in for a belt and a necklace… and I have some more plans up my sleeve for this hide that’s really exciting… I’ll let you know when I get a bit closer.

backbreakingbluestones
We’ve been laying bluestones in our backyard and boy are those suckers heavy! They are the kind of heavy that you find yourself counting to 3 before the big lift to prepare, then letting out some sort of involuntary groan upon the up-heave. We call them the backbreaking bluestones – when we’re being polite.
When it gets tough, my sweet, clever and ever encouraging mum reminds me of the amazing history they have. I love that they have history and I feel like they bring a certain energy to the space too. They came out of a really old factory site (now being converted to a housing estate) where they used to make guns and bullets. I just cannot imagine how much hard work it was cutting the bluestones by hand back in the day… Sheesh just moving them is pretty grueling… I have actually moved quite a lot of them but do admit hubby has taken the bluestone moving brunt. I’m more the pointing type, the ‘move it a smidge to the right on your side’ type, the re hydration girl fetching drinks, and the sand shoveling girl. But still, I’ve moved my share.

herbalicious spuds
I’m looking forward to the next ‘same old crap’ post on the lunchlady blog. Kate from hellokateberry has this great lunchlady blog, and I think there will be a new same old crap post each week from different people. It’s a great idea and I’m even considering submitting my same old crap ‘herbalicious spuds’. They are so easy it’s ridiculous and just about every ingredient is substitutable.. except maybe the spuds!

delish soup ingredients
And lastly, these ingredients make a delish soup. I know it may look like a weird bunch, but together they make for happy tastebuds. I got the inspiration from the amazing Katy at No Big Dill who shared a link to the recipe that was my inspiration. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly (predictable aren’t I?), but was still thrilled with the results. In fact I changed quite a bit but I kept the main two ingredients which were cauliflower and apples. I did things like made it dairy free, caramelised my onions really well, then added the apples, then I used heaps of celery followed by cauliflower and chilli. Then I just added my stock, some good quality curry powder, a touch of pepper, blitzed it with a stick blender and voila – deliciousness! Even hubby enjoyed it and he usually calls cauliflower ‘cows breath’! A bit harsh don’t you think?
Anyway it’s a simple soup with not too many ingredients, but a good chunk of time is required if you want to make your own stock like I did. There’s something about the apples and cauliflower together that’s just a bit magic. And the best part is that I made heaps, so we have left overs to enjoy all weekend. I’m off to have a bowl now…

Have you got 10 random things you’d like to share too? Or eight? Six? Even just one? Let me know in the comments, I would really love it if you did. I feel like I’m the friend doing all the talking… your turn now…

Hope you get to enjoy some delish random goodness this weekend.

antlers, imperfection and favourites

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Deer Antlers loved up with handmade goodness, nature and peace.

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This one is mine… A little leather, beads, feathers, turquoise and of course some crocheted hearts. Hubby made the feather drops using some vintage aqua silk thread to bind them up. I selected the feathers and placed the turquoise drop and crochet heart in position, and he patiently tied them all together. He finished them with a little sliding knot on the leather so we can adjust the drop length when hanging them. I have Lyrebird feathers, Owl down, Rosella, Kookaburra and I think there’s a Currawong feather there too. All collected on walks I talked about in catching peace.

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This one is hubby’s… He has the treasured Lyrebird tail feather that he finally found after years of searching through twigs and leaves. He’s also got a very special Wedge-tailed Eagle feather in there. One day he saw a couple of them having a spat and as they flew off, one lost a feather. There’s also an Owl feather, some Owl down, Kookaburra and Rosella feathers. The leather plaited drop on the left with a rose bead is from our wedding day. We loved putting together the eclectic mix of goodies on our antlers. It was a real combined crafty effort, mostly my design and direction with hubby selecting the feathers and making the drops. Real patience is required for the fiddly feather drops and that’s definitely his crafty talent more than mine.

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The turquoise and silver feather drop has been recycled from my blue suede bag. There were two of these but they fell off a couple of times and I was scared I would loose them. Being rather special and large pieces of natural turquoise I took them off the bag – they had been waiting for a rightful home for some time. One found home in the feather drop, and the other one made home not so long ago in the center of the peace catcher. Somehow, I think they have ended up where they always should have been.

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The carved bone beads have been floating about in hubby’s craft stash for years. They too have found there rightful home. In fact everything hanging on these deer head antlers we already had. Nothing was purchased… we just rummaged through our craft stashes and found everything there.. Except the deer heads, they were an amazing gift for Chrissy. Thanks Sis x

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There’s something special about this little collection of goodies that we crafted together…I find it very calming and peaceful and interesting to look at.

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I have also been crafting in my usual space too… Remember this one? It’s been around for a while now and has a long and troublesome past. Well I decided I am going to finish this little number.

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The yarn is all from Bendigo Woollen Mills and it’s such a delightful squishy blanket.

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Can you spot the mistake? I absentmindedly changed colours on the wrong side! But you know what? After the unraveling this blanket already had, and the time it takes to knit just one row (of a gazzillion stitches), AND after reading this brilliant post, I decided perfection was just too high a price to pay. It still looks beautiful, but it really looks handmade – complete with human error… No machine could do that! Motivated by Felecia’s word ‘completionism’ I decided to push on and accept the imperfections of my work. If you like everything to be just perfect, then I highly recommend reading this great post to help see it all in a fresh light.

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I’m going to leave you with this image of my craft apron with one of my all time favourite crafty tools attached. I always pop my apron on when I knit, crochet, or craft in general… it saves my clothes all being covered in yarn fluff! Plus, if I don’t put it on, I’m forever looking for my scissors. Having scissors ALWAYS on you is a godsend. They are attached with this sweet little ceramic heart, and a stretchy retractable wire that clips onto the scissors. I am seriously lost without my apron and scissors combo. Do you have one of these too? Are they not the best! Do you have a favourite crafty tool? One you simply can’t live without? This is mine. Now I’m off to go pop my apron on and get crafty…

Hope you find some crafty time in your day today too…
And maybe a little acceptance of imperfections…
And even something to look at that brings you peace…

autumn crochet

It’s been a while… but I’ve been busy… more crazy busy than usual… or maybe just more crazy? Who knows!
I do have lots of pretty pictures for you though…
I’ll start with some pretty flowers from my garden…
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The flowers are slowing down as winter nears, but there are still so many pretties in the garden to pop into a posy… I love the autumn silver birch branches and rose hips… And I love that the roses seem to become more intense in their colour as Autumn passes…

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This is in amongst the Cherry Tree Grove at my favourite gardens… Spec.tac.u.lar no?!
I must say walking between two rows of cherry trees… in full blown autumn glory… with the breeze gently blowing… autumn leaves raining down… tumbling along the ground as the wind gently moves them along… is quite the magical experience… twas sublime!

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A panoramic of the Cherry Tree Grove.

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Another sweet Cherry Tree path in the gardens… This one is a bit special… It leads to Serenity Point… and it was my wedding aisle… many moons ago… in an Autumn from another decade!

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It’s not all orangey shades in the gardens though… there are many green and golden paths to enjoy also… like under this big old Tulip Tree.

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Where one can find the most enormous Tulip Tree leaves… This one was as big as my face!

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And the pretty little Ginkgo Biloba trees are fast becoming a strong Autumn favourite. The gorgeous leaf shape and it’s delicious lime green turning golden yellow is quite the sight to behold.

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Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me and blow me away with her stunning colours…

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and pretty leaves looking totally divine in the late afternoon sunlight…

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is there a better sunlight than late afternoon?

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on pretty Autumn leaves?
I don’t think so.

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Apart from taking a gazillion photos on my Autumn walks, I have managed to finish a few crocheted projects too.

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This “Pink Sprinkles” blanket is for an order and I do love a little random unexpectedness in my blankies… as you can see!

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I also crocheted a pure silk scarf using a simple ladder stitch…

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It’s not a warmth scarf, more of a decorative pop of the most gorgeous Duck Egg Blue colour… Feather light and silky… twas perfect for my sweet mum on Mothers Day…

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My current project is for an order and is coming up a treat! Blanket stitch is, not surprisingly, perfect for a blanket as it’s the same both sides… It’s also a fairly solid stitch with no real gaps to speak of and super easy to remember…

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It has the cutest bubbly like texture too making it very snuggle-worthy!

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I shall leave you with one last Autumn picture… The peace I draw from these gardens every time I walk there is wonderful… I heard something on the radio the other day about how important it is to connect, walk, be in, be around – nature. Even just looking at a picture of a tree does something to your brain… in a positive way… in a relaxing and calming way… don’t quote me on this, I’m not great at recalling the details, just remembered how they said how good it is for you… Which I already knew just because of how much I get out of my walks… but it was interesting to hear that ‘they’ have done some sort of scientific tests on this to prove it’s a fact… not just in my imagination!

Well, I hope you enjoy a little bit of a peaceful calming vibe from looking at my pictures of nature… at the least I hope I haven’t bored you to tears! Maybe it’s inspired you to go look at a tree? Or take a walk in your local gardens? Or even down the street? Where in the world are you? Are you enjoying an Autumn or a Spring? Either way, I wish you peaceful moments and lovely vistas of whatever it is that brings you bliss… May the bliss be with you! Teeheehee…

fans and fimo

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Mint Fans Pram Snuggle Blanket with matching Heart Garland.
100% Pure Merino Wool, Crochet.

Yep – made another blanket with this lovely Vintage Fan Ripple Stitch. I just love it – in case you haven’t noticed! I’ve done a couple of different blankets using this stitch here and here, even a scarf here. And I found the pattern via the lovely blog Meet me at Mikes.

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It’s a lovely super soft squishy little blankie that would be perfect for the pram or car seat as it’s not too big to lug around. It’s very light and has the softest drape too. And then there’s the luscious mint green colour… I do so love a delicate mint green.

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The pattern is actually pretty easy to remember, and not as tricky as it may look. I thought it might be nice to hang the little garland from the pram, or car window or something and it makes it such a sweet little gift set. I’ve popped it in the Etsy shop already so you can see some more pictures there if you like.

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I’ve also caught the Fimo craze. I love, and I mean REALLY love, making up the colours. More love creating the colours rather than the actual physical mixing of the fimo together, as I did have a little sook occasionally when my hands & fingers got tired. That stuff is SO hard to begin with.

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But the colours… oh my I just loved making different shades. Adding a bit more, taking a bit out, working in another bit of white… All in the name of the perfect shade. Or the near enough is good enough shade. No room for perfection around here, life really is too short. The beads are meant to be a little rustic and earthy in their shape and colour. You can even see my fingerprint in some of them! I kinda like that some have my fingerprint – doesn’t get anymore hand-made than that now does it?

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It’s not just about the colour though. It is also about the beads… I hope to turn these coloured sets into necklaces, plus I have a little plan for some more… Not quite sure how it will all work but will let you know if it does. (I like to ignore the crafting disasters!)

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Brights! I’m not usually a super bright colour person, maybe a pop of it here or there, I like softer tones usually. But then sometimes you just need a big punch of colour I reckon. So that’s this necklace. In your face bright colours, probably for the dull grey winter days I’m thinking.

If you follow me on Instagram you would have already seen my Mint Fan Blankie in progress and the Fimo beads. It was a Family Fimo Friday Crafternoon – that was my Good Friday. Pretty darn good really. What’s better than a Crafternoon? And one with your crafty talented lovely girly family members? My daughter, my mum, my sis and my niece. Sweet huh? There was also chocolate eggs, homemade peanut brittle (thanks sis) and homemade Ginger Syrup drinks (thanks mum). A very good Good Friday indeed.

Hope your Good Friday was good?
And the Easter Bunny hops by with some cute fluffy goodness… and chocolate! Of course. Always chocolate.